LISTEN: Trump says U.S. is “not going into Syria”; Children’s author Patricia C. McKissack dies (UCNN, 04/12/17)

1. NY Post – Amid complaints that his aides are saying different things about Syria and his policy is confusing, President Trump emphatically cleared the air. Trump said in an exclusive interview, “We’re not going into Syria. Our policy is the same — it hasn’t changed. We’re not going into Syria.” The president, speaking by phone Tuesday, called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “butcher” and a “barbarian” for using sarin gas on his own people, but said last week’s successful missile strike was not the start of a campaign to oust the dictator. He called the attack, which involved 59 cruise missiles fired from two Navy destroyers, “an act of humanity.”

2. WashPost – Patricia C. McKissack, a children’s author who chronicled African American history and Southern folklore in more than 100 early-reader and picture books, including award-winning works about chicken-coop monsters and a girl’s attempt to catch the wind, died April 7 at a hospital in Bridgeton, Mo. She was 72. The cause was cardiac arrest, said a son, Fredrick McKissack Jr. McKissack was diagnosed several years ago with myotonic dystrophy, a muscle disorder, her son said, and was “really weakened” by the death in 2013 of her husband and frequent collaborator, Fredrick L. McKissack. She lived in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield.

3. The N&O – Using data from North Carolina, researchers found that low-income black male students’ chances of dropping out declined 39 percent and their interest in going to college increased 29 percent when they had at least one black teacher in the later elementary school years. Studies have shown that black students do better on tests when they have black teachers, so it was interesting to see that teacher assignments have lasting effects, said Nicholas W. Papageorge, an assistant professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and one of the study’s authors. Papageorge said the findings are encouraging because it presents a workable way to address the persistent problem of lagging graduation rates of black males. Getting more students to graduate wouldn’t require districts to hire lots of black teachers, he said. Schools could use the existing workforce, he said, while making sure that black students get at least one black teacher.

4. AP – A 20-year-old man whose pickup collided with a church minibus last month in rural Texas, killing 13 people, told state troopers he had taken prescription medication before driving and had marijuana in his truck, according to court records. The records obtained from Uvalde County showed a state trooper found two whole marijuana cigarettes and five partially smoked ones in Jack Dillon Young’s truck after the March 29 crash that happened on a two-lane highway about 75 miles west of San Antonio. An affidavit from another state trooper seeking a blood test for a toxicology report said the trooper had probable cause to believe Young was intoxicated during the collision because the man told a trooper he had taken prescription medication earlier in the day. No charges had been filed in the crash as of Tuesday.

5. AJC – It took a jury just an hour to convict controversial Georgia pastor Kenneth Adkins of eight child molestation charges Monday in Brunswick. Adkins was accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy and girl at his church in 2010. Adkins, 57, was arrested in August, just months after tweeting that homosexuals “got what they deserved” after the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and injured 53 others in Orlando, Fla. In a phone interview with the Times-Union, Adkins denied having sex with the teens and said the explicit photos and messages “were bad decisions” that he “cannot justify.” Adkins will be sentenced April 25.

6. AP – An advocacy group said Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog fielded more than 1,000 complaints of sexual assault or sexual abuse from people in custody in a little more than two years. Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement is the latest group in recent years to document allegations of abuse at immigration detention centers, based on information obtained from public records requests. It comes as President Donald Trump seeks to expand detention capacity in a drive to deport more people.

7. CP – Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, has shot down claims that he exploited the story of persecuted Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini while doing very little to help him after he was released from imprisonment in Iran last January. “It is unfortunate that Graham’s efforts to secure his (Abedini’s) release from an Iranian prison and provide transportation of him from Germany to America, his financial assistance to Saeed and Naghmeh … his provision of marital counseling at no cost to them, and various offers of employment for Saeed have now been met with a bitter Facebook post about him and his ministry, Samaritan’s Purse,” Graham’s spokesman, Mark DeMoss, said in a statement to CP. Abedini, who became the face of Christian persecution while imprisoned for his faith in Iran for more than three years, charged in a recent post online that Graham took up opportunities to appear in national media as Christians and other religious freedom advocates campaigned for his release. Once he was released last January, and the media lost interest in his story, however, Abedini, who is now jobless and separated from his wife Naghmeh Panahi, charged that Graham offered him little support.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind: Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”

Seneca said, “There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.”

God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!