The Daily Brief: Thursday, August 3, 2017 (Short Form)
1. Mattis Orders Full Review Of Any Military Training That Has Nothing To Do With Warfighting - Daily Caller
Secretary of Defense James Mattis has ordered a full review of any military training not directly relevant to warfighting. Mattis told the services to conduct a review of the "requirements for mandatory force training that does not directly support core tasks," according to a Friday memo obtained by Military Times. In other words, Mattis wants a full examination of all the hours of burdensome, irrelevant training service members have to undergo before deployment.
"I want to verify that our military policies also support and enhance warfighting readiness and force lethality," Mattis said. Mattis also asked for a review into what should be done about permanently non-deployable service members. (Read more)
- Father, we pray Secretary Mattis will be successful in re-focusing our military to defend our nation.
- Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. (Proverbs 2:2)
2. Report: Pentagon Immigrant Recruitment Program Breached By 'Foreign Infiltration' - Daily Caller
The Pentagon has suspended new applications for a program that offers expedited citizenship in exchange for military service after a report raised possible security concerns.
The program was created in 2008 as a means of recruiting troops with special skills in short supply, such as knowledge of a foreign language. Some soldiers enrolled in the program, however, were not properly vetted with background checks, and the Pentagon lost track of missing enrollees, Fox News reported Tuesday. Nearly 10,500 troops have entered the U.S. military under the program since 2009.
"Where are they? What do they know? Where are they serving? What are their numbers?," were example questions the Pentagon could not answer of the missing enrollees, a lawmaker told Fox. Fox, citing members of Congress, noted that many of the latest recruits did not have special skills and were simply being used to fill other open billets. (Read more)
- Father, we pray each person who surreptitiously used this program to access our military will be found and discharged or court marshalled. We pray anyone who is a traitor to this nation will be removed from our military.
- Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. (Psalm 43:1b)
3. Trump Signs Russian Sanctions But Calls Bill 'Seriously Flawed' - Daily Caller
President Donald Trump signed a sweeping sanctions bill intended to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election Wednesday.
Although Trump signed the bill, he criticized the legislation as "seriously flawed - particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch's authority to negotiate."
"Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executive's flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President," Trump said in a statement. "This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice."
The bill limits Trump's autonomy with respect to Russia policy as it includes a provision that requires Congressional approval for any revisions to the legislation. The bill's bipartisan support ensured a veto proof majority, effectively forcing Trump to abandon his conciliatory approach toward Russia by signing the legislation. (Read more)
- Father, President Trump is correct in highlighting the weaknesses of this bill. We pray You would help him develop strategies to advance our nation's interests in spite of this bill.
- Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.
4. Congressional Investigation Into Wasserman Schultz IT Scandal Moves Forward - Washington Free Beacon
Congress is advancing an investigation into a growing scandal surrounding IT staffers working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment from House lawmakers' offices, according to senior congressional sources who told the Washington Free Beacon the Democratic leader's refusal to answer questions could "merit resignation."
Congressional leaders have now requested a formal briefing by Capitol Police into its investigation of several Pakistani House IT staffers who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment and of illegally penetrating congressional networks.
Imran Awan, one of the staffers who worked for Wasserman Schultz and several other Democratic members of Congress, was arrested this week when trying to travel to Pakistan and charged with bank fraud after a months-long investigation that found he wired nearly $300,000 to that country. Several other staffers tied to Awan are the focus of an investigation into claims they stole sensitive equipment and illegally penetrated the House IT network.
Leading members of Congress are growing frustrated with the pace of the criminal investigation and have moved to conduct their own independent prove into the scandal, according to multiple sources who indicated that the relevant congressional committees are making moves to start an investigation, which could include compelling testimony from Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of stonewalling on the issue. (Read more)
- Father, we lift up this situation to You and pray You would expose all malfeasance and criminal activity by Imran Awan, his extended family and members of Congress.
- While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, their wrongdoing will be exposed in public. (Proverbs 26:26)
5. Senate confirms Trump's Navy secretary, seven other Pentagon nominees - Washington Examiner
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Richard V. Spencer to be the new Navy secretary, along with seven other civilians to fill key positions at the Pentagon. The approval more than doubles the number of nominees confirmed for Pentagon positions, bringing the total to 15.
Spencer, a financier and former Marine aviator, had his nomination rushed to a committee vote by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this month, but the confirmation seemed in danger of being held up by partisan wrangling in the Senate and moves by Democrats to slow-roll nominees.
But senators reached a deal on the nominees with less than two weeks until the start of their August recess. The vote fills a key secretary post in the new Trump administration and gives the Navy a civilian leader as it looks to shore up depleted forces and move toward a larger fleet in the coming years. (Read more)
- Father, we pray Secretary Spencer will respect President Trump and his agenda while he leads the Navy. We pray these filled positions at the Pentagon will help our nation be prepared for the challenges we face as a nation.
- We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable. (2 Corinthians 8:21)
6. Trump helped with son's statement but didn't dictate, White House says - Washington Times
The White House said Tuesday that President Trump did contribute to a written statement from his son, Donald Trump Jr., about his meeting with a Russian lawyer, but said the statement wasn't misleading. "The president weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information he had," said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, adding that the statement about his son "is true."
The younger Trump issued a statement last month stating that his meeting last year was about Russia adoptions and not about the campaign or related issues. It was later revealed that Mr. Trump Jr. took the meeting because he believe the lawyer had information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The Washington Post reported that the president personally dictated the statement as he flew home on Air Force One from the G-20 Summit in Germany last month.
Mrs. Sanders said the president "certainly didn't dictate" the statement. She also blasted the media for being "obsessed" with the Russia story while ignoring the Clintons' connections to Russia. "You guys want to create a narrative that doesn't exist," she said. (Read more)
- Father, we pray for an end to the "Gotcha!" game the media is playing with President Trump. We pray You would bring an end to these innuendos, slander, leaks and lies.
- In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant. (Psalm 143:12)
7. DHS Waives 35 Environmental Regulations To Expedite Mexico Border Wall Construction - Daily Caller
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today that it will waive thirty-five environmental regulations in their entirety in order to expedite building security-related barriers and roads along the U.S.'s border with Mexico near San Diego.
President Trump has instructed Kelly to take "immediate steps to prevent all unlawful entries into the United States" which includes the "immediate construction of physical infrastructure to prevent illegal entry."
In order to complete this task, Former Secretary of DHS John Kelly has "determined, pursuant to law, that it is necessary to waive certain laws, regulations and other legal requirements in order to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international land border of the United States near the city of San Diego." (Read more)
- Father, thank You for this bold action and we pray this wall will severely reduce the amount of illegal activity flowing into California.
- He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders (Psalm 147:13-14a)
8. Trump endorses Senate bill to reform legal immigration into merit-based point system - Washington Examiner
President Trump announced Wednesday he will support a revised Senate bill that would implement a merit-based point system for foreigners who apply for legal permanent status, or green cards, through their employer.
"This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century but the bonds of trust between America and its citizens. This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and America first," Trump said during a press conference at the White House Wednesday. "This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy."
The Washington Examiner first reported Tuesday evening Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas would meet with Trump on Wednesday to unveil an immigration bill, which was an updated version of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or the RAISE Act. (Read more)
- Father, we pray this immigration bill will reflect Your will and Your priorities for our nation, as well as provide a streamlined, lawful and fair immigration process.
- True justice must be given to foreigners living among you. (Deuteronomy 24:17a)
9. House Judiciary Member: Mueller Legally Required To Resign Over 'Conflict Of Interest' - Daily Caller
Republican Arizona Rep. Trent Franks says that Robert Mueller is in "clear violation" of federal law prohibiting a special counsel from having a conflict of interest and therefore must immediately resign as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.
Mueller's reported friendship with former FBI director James Comey presents a clear conflict of interest, according to Franks, who is a senior member on the House Judiciary Committee. Federal law defines a conflict of interest as: "a personal relationship with any person substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution."
"Bob Mueller is in clear violation of federal code and must resign to maintain the integrity of the investigation into alleged Russian ties. Those who worked under them have attested he and Jim Comey possess a close friendship, and they have delivered on-the-record statements effusing praise of one another," said Franks.
"No one knows Mr. Mueller's true intentions, but neither can anyone dispute that he now clearly appears to be a partisan arbiter of justice. Accordingly, the law is also explicitly clear: he must step down based on this conflict of interest." (Read more)
- Father, we lift up Robert Mueller and his staff to You and pray for justice and fairness. We pray You will remove him and any of his associates if this investigation is not truly impartial.
- He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. (Psalm 9:8)
10. Key Vote Today [Taylor Force Act] - Christians United for Israel
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote tomorrow on the Taylor Force Act. This legislation is a top priority of Christians United For Israel and Christians United For Israel Action Fund. The Palestinian Authority officially sponsors terrorism against innocent civilians and that fact makes it impossible for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to be a "partner in peace" with Israel.
The Taylor Force Act is a long-overdue first step in the peace process. The United States of America must not subsidize radical Islamic terrorism against our ally Israel. Our staff is scrutinizing the details of the legislation, but here is what we can report: - The Taylor Force Act cuts off approximately $130 million of U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority so long as it continues inciting violence against Israelis and paying stipends to jailed terrorists and their families. - It calls on other nations to cease their support to the Palestinian Authority until it stops making so-called "martyr's fund" payments to terrorists and their families. - It requires the Palestinian Authority to repeal laws that permit such funding. (Read more)
- Father, we pray You would use the Taylor Force Act to cut off all funds from being distributed to terrorists and their families.
- "For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. But the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be uprooted." (Proverbs 2:21-22)
11. More than a third of US adults prescribed opioids in 2015 - Yahoo/ Reuters Health
The United States needs to curb excessive opioid prescribing and improve access to pain management techniques, suggests a new government study. Researchers found that more than one third of U.S. adults were prescribed the medications in 2015 and many also misused the drugs.
"A very large proportion and large number of adults use these medications in a given year," said study author Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Maryland. "I was still a bit surprised that 38 percent or about 92 million people used prescription opioids in 2015."
Limited data on the prescription of opioids and their abuse are available despite the number of deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. having quadrupled between 1999 and 2015, Compton and his colleagues write in the Annals of Internal Medicine, online July 31. (Read more)
- Father, we repent for allowing pharmaceuticals to have control over our lives. Deliver us, Lord, from this plague. Have compassion on us and heal us.
- Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. (Psalm 103:2-4)
12. Sessions Is Targeting Doctors Who 'Line Their Pockets' Spreading Painkiller Addiction - Daily Caller
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directing the Department of Justice to target doctors spreading opioid addiction by overprescribing painkillers.
Sessions, speaking to the Columbus Police Academy in Ohio Wednesday, announced he is appointing 12 veteran prosecutors to "focus solely" on rooting out doctors and other medical providers taking advantage of widespread addiction to opioids in the U.S. The prosecutors are assigned to 12 of the regions hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio, with the goal of stepping up prosecutions for opioid related health care fraud.
The increased scrutiny of the medical community was part of a larger announcement by Sessions Wednesday unveiling the Department of Justice's Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a new data analytics program. Sessions said it will help prosecutors identify doctors who are writing opioid scripts at a higher rate then their peers and pharmacies filling uncommonly large quantities of scripts for painkillers. (Read more)
- Father, we pray our legal system will remove all unethical medical doctors who are writing these unnecessary prescriptions. We also pray for Your protection over good doctors as they adjust to the revised protocols while treating their patients.
- Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions. You give them relief from troubled times until a pit is dug to capture the wicked.
13. In U.S. first, Oregon scientists edit genes of human embryos - Chicago Tribune
For the first time in the United States, scientists have edited the genes of human embryos, a controversial step toward someday helping babies avoid inherited diseases.
According to MIT Technology Review, the experiment was just an exercise in science - the embryos were not allowed to develop for more than a few days and were never intended to be implanted into a womb. The publication first reported the news on Wednesday. Officials at Oregon Health & Science University confirmed that the work took place there and said results would be published in a journal soon. It is thought to be the first such work in the U.S.; previous experiments like this have been reported from China.
The Oregon scientists reportedly used a technique called CRISPR, which allows specific sections of DNA to be altered or replaced. It's much more precise than some types of gene therapy that cannot ensure that desired changes will take place exactly where and as intended. With gene editing, the changes are permanent and would be passed down to any offspring. (Read more)
- Father, we are deeply saddened and grieved that 12 embryos, human lives, were destroyed in this medical experiment. We pray for Your Spirit to convict these scientists to repent and honor the sanctity of human life and You as Creator of all.
- I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.