Daily Briefing: July 14, 2017

Posted by    |    July 14th, 2017 at 6:36 am

T O P   N E W S


New Senate Health Bill Aims to Bridge GOP Gaps, But Resistance Remains (WSJ)

“Senate Republicans unveiled a revised health bill Thursday in an effort to shore up its faltering GOP support, but its future remained precarious as at least two Republicans quickly vowed to oppose it, bringing the proposal within a single vote of potential collapse.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) implored his fellow Republican lawmakers to at least support a procedural measure next week that would allow debate to begin on the bill, which aims to topple large parts of the Affordable Care Act…. Republican senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine said they would oppose the procedural motion. Several other Republican senators—including Rob Portman of Ohio, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana—said they had to digest the bill before committing.”

Nick Note: Doctor Doctor, Give Me the News! The doctor is in, Robert Palmer is out, and there are at least five hurdles that could derail efforts to reach consensus. Read them hereHere are four key changes that were made. And here is what you need to know formatted in a visually appealing way. Speaking of health care, more than 400 people across the country have been charged with participating in health care fraud scams totaling about $1.3 billion in false billings, including for the prescription and distribution of opioids. Federal officials called it “largest ever health care fraud enforcement action” by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, 412 individuals, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were arrested in a nationwide operation that involved over 1,000 law enforcement agents in at least 30 states. That sting may be big but the Congressional Budget Office said Mr. Trump’s inaugural budget was overly optimistic. The CBO said Mr. Trump’s inaugural budget projected that by 2027, the economy would achieve a small budget surplus. But according to the CBO, the deficit would remain at $720 billion, or 2.6 percent of gross domestic product. Projections are not always accurate but they are often helpful – especially when done right. But for many Americans, it is hard to think about the future because of the medical problems in the present. While Washington disagrees concerning next steps for medical reform, I think we can all agree that we as Christians have a part to play. We come from a line of brave souls who did not run away from the problems, but ran to them. We believe that when we look after the sick, we are looking after Jesus (Matthew 25:36). I know it is easy to just think of these headlines as political issues, but behind every issue is a person.  

Oregon Bill Forcing Taxpayers To Sponsor Abortion Is A Human Rights Violation (The Federalist)

“The state of Oregon is in the process of enacting a law that would force taxpayers to fund abortions. HB 3391, The Reproductive Health Equity Act, passed the Senate last week on a party-line vote and aims to counteract the potential repealing of the Affordable Care Act.
“Among other things, the bill mandates that all insurance plans offer coverage for elective abortion without co-pay, including to noncitizens, and sets aside over 10 million taxpayer dollars to cover the cost of abortions and other reproductive health services through the state Medicaid program. The bill has already passed both the House and Senate in Oregon. Gov. Kate Brown, a former abortion lobbyist, has confirmed that she will sign it into law soon.”

Nick Note: There are currently 11 abortion clinics in the state of Oregon, eight of which are Planned Parenthoods. A poll taken last year found that only 36 percent of likely voters support federal funding of abortion. 63 percent or Oregonians believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. However, morality is not determined by the majority. (Psalm 139:13-17, Jeremiah 1, Proverbs 31:8-9)

Jimmy Carter taken for observation after suffering from dehydration (CNN)

“Former President Jimmy Carter became dehydrated and was admitted to a hospital in Winnipeg, Canada, while working on a Habitat for Humanity project on Thursday.
“Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford said in a statement that Carter, 92, grew dehydrated after “working in the hot sun.” He added that the 39th president is “okay.”
“The Carter Center said he was taken to the hospital as a precaution and former first lady Rosalynn Carter is with him.”

Nick Note: He is 92 years old, recovering from cancer, and building houses for those in need. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).” 

Lawyer: Man admits involvement in murders of 4 missing men (CNN)

“A Pennsylvania man confessed involvement Thursday in the deaths of four missing men in eastern Pennsylvania, his lawyer told reporters Thursday.Cosmo DiNardo, 20, admitted “his participation or commission in the murders of the four young men,” attorney Paul Lang said.
“The lawyer declined to say whether DiNardo killed the four men who went missing last week, kicking off a multi-agency search that rattled this community.In exchange for DiNardo’s confession Bucks County prosecutors promised not to seek the death penalty, Lang said. Co-counsel Michael Parlow said DiNardo is cooperating with the investigation.”

Nick Note: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24).”

Liu Xiaobo, Chinese Dissident Who Won Nobel While Jailed, Dies at 61 (NY Times)

Liu Xiaobo, the renegade Chinese intellectual who kept vigil at Tiananmen Square in 1989 to protect protesters from encroaching soldiers, promoted a pro-democracy charter that brought him a lengthy prison sentence and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while locked away, died under guard in a hospital on Thursday. He was 61.”

Nick Note: Dr. Denison often notes Alfred North Whitehead’s claim that great people plant trees they’ll never sit under. Liu Xiaobo was a great person who planted a multitude of orchard of trees. Read this NY Times piece on how Mr. Liu’s fate reflects shifting geopolitical attitudes (1 Corinthians 15:58).

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

Harvard just moved to end frats, sororities, and final clubs entirely (NY Times)

“A faculty committee yesterday released a 22-page report recommending that the university forbid students entering in the class of 2022 and beyond from joining “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations,” a broad category that includes Harvard’s venerated male-only final clubs—made famous in films like The Social Network.
“The argument: exclusive student groups breed elitism, sexism, alcohol abuse, and other problems by their very nature.”

Nick Note: The Hollies told us He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, but apparently some at Harvard disagree. I was in a fraternity in college – Sigma Phi Epsilon. Joining SigEp was one of the best decisions I ever made. I made mistakes (Romans 3:23) but those men blessed me and shaped me in ways I still don’t fully understand. I don’t regret my decision nor do I want to say everyone should make the same decision I made. But I was and still am more of a Paul than a Peter

Who Gets More Out of Marriage, Women or Men? (Bloomberg)

“A study in the latest issue of Social Psychology Quarterly finds that married women over 50 rate the quality of their marriages lower than their husbands do.That’s consistent with other research showing that older men tend to be more satisfied with their marriages than women.
“The wives gave their marriages an average overall score of 2.99 in the 2013 survey; the husbands rated the very same marriages 3.2. A similar gap was found in the 2009 survey.”

Nick Note: Whitney Houston Will Always Love You but your spouse might not like you at times.  The research indicates two reasons might account for this disparity. According to researchers, traditional gender roles push women to do more of the “emotional labor” in the marriage. The other reason is that “wives tend to be more confrontational and direct in acknowledging marital problems, whereas husbands evade or ignore conflict,” wrote the researchers. Tim Keller, in his book The Meaning of Marriage, noted this: “Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!” Now that, according to Whitney, is the Greatest Love of All.

Americans Buying Fewer Gems Puts the Hurt on Diamond Hub Antwerp (Bloomberg)

“The U.S. is the most important market for diamonds, buying more than half the world’s gems, and has been a bright spot for the industry in the past six years as wage growth, job creation and a strong stock market helped boost consumption. Yet that growth has stuttered so far this year. Signet, an industry bellwether, reported a 12 percent drop in first-quarter sales, while Tiffany’s figures also disappointed.
“Consultant Bain & Co. has estimated the average cutting and polishing firm had no profit margin in 2015, compared with profits of as much as 4 percent in 2013. Fragmented diamond midstream companies, many of which are family run, lack buying and selling power with both their suppliers and customers, said Aggarwal.”

Nick Note: If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then there are a lot of lonely girls here in the US lately. Justin Bieber has failed in his mission of making One Less Lonely Girl. But in all seriousness, another study from Bain & Co. indicates that Americans are spending less money on luxury items and spending more money on experiences. You may have fewer costly stones lately, but know this: “There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel (Proverbs 20:15).”

School bans FitBits over concerns students skipping lunch if targets not met (Fox News)

“A girls’ school in England has banned FitBits, fitness trackers and smartwatches over growing concerns that students are counting calories and skipping lunch if they fail to meet their targets.
“Some girls would monitor the number of steps they had taken and the number of calories they had used,” Cindi Pride, deputy head teacher at Stroud High School, told The Telegraph. “If they didn’t feel they had taken enough steps in the morning, they wouldn’t eat lunch.”

Nick Note: Is the problem the Fitbit or something deeper? At least 30 millionpeople suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. 42 percent of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner. 81 percent of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.All too often, this person’s internal dialogue warps their understanding of their external appearance. Nevertheless, sowing persistent seeds is essential, praying for an ability to capture thoughts is helpful, and listening to the Lord who proclaims, “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you (Song of Solomon 4:7),” is beneficial.

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

Old New York City phone booths are helping immigrants tell their stories

“A new interactive art installation in New York City’s Times Square is using old phone booths to share the stories of immigrants. Titled Once Upon a Place, the installation lets tourists and NYC locals enter one of three repurposed 1980s booths, pick up the phone, and hear the oral history of a recent New York City immigrant.”

Nick Note: Watch the story here. Creative storytelling captivates audiences. How are you sharing your story today (John 9:25)? 

12-Yr-Old Spotted Singing Ed Sheeran On Dublin Street, Video Launches Her Into Viral Stardom.

Nick Note: Watch it here. She not only is a phenomenal singer, but she chose a great song to sing – “A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved.” She covered Ed well. Just as she imitates Ed well, we have been encouraged to imitate our Maker. How are you doing today (1 Corinthians 4:16)?

Watch this military wife surprise her husband with big baby news at his homecoming

Nick Note: Watch it here. Children are a blessing from the Lord and can also be a surprise to a parent (Psalm 127:3-4). I imagine this might be one of the better welcome home gifts. 

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