Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to The Christian Post, Churches in the El Paso, Texas area are giving prayers, counseling, and blood to help the victims of the recent mass shooting that has so far resulted in 22 deaths. Over the weekend, a shooter entered a Walmart in El Paso and opened fire, killing 20 people and wounding several others in an incident believed to be inspired by white nationalism. Two more people would die of their injuries on Monday, bringing the total to 22 fatalities. Police have stated that the suspect posted a manifesto online before the shooting, which warned of an attack in response to what it called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” 21-year-old Patrick Crusius is the lead suspect and has thus far been charged with one count of capital murder while the investigation continues, according to a report by Reuters published Tuesday. On the same weekend, nine people were killed and 27 were injured in Dayton, Ohio when 24-year-old Connor Betts opened fire. Betts was killed by police less than a minute after he began his rampage. Although social media posts in which Betts expressed liberal views have become widely known, police have not yet determined a specific motive for the mass shooting, but some have noted that he had a reported obsession with violence. The Christian Post interviewed local El Paso pastors to learn about what their churches were doing in response to the shooting, what ties they had to the victims, and what they believed churches across the country needed to do in response to the apparent rise in mass shootings.
According to CBN News, A Nigerian pastor was reportedly killed and his wife abducted for ransom by unknown assailants Sunday evening while traveling on a highway where being attacked by criminals has become a common occurrence. The Punch reported Jeremiah Omolara, the pastor of Living Faith Church in Romi New Extension, a suburb of Kaduna state, was shot and killed when the attackers ambushed his vehicle on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway. In addition to Omolara’s wife, the couple’s son was also in the vehicle. He was able to escape, according to news reports. The assailants are demanding a ransom in the amount of more than $138,000 for the pastor’s wife. Omolara’s murder and his wife’s abduction were confirmed by Rev. Joseph Hayab, chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). Hayab urged the Nigerian government to tighten security in the state, according to to the Daily Post Nigeria.
According to TIME, Toni Morrison, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who illuminated the joys and agonies of black American life through breathtakingly vital works like Beloved, Song of Solomon and A Mercy, died on Monday night her publisher Knopf confirmed. She was 88 years old. Over her six-decade career, she wrote 11 novels, five children’s books, two plays, a song cycle and an opera. She served as an editor and professor, mentoring generations of young writers of color. After being largely ignored as a writer for a decade in the ‘70s, Morrison went on to win accolade after accolade, from the Nobel Prize in Literature to the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. Morrison widened the nation’s literary canon, serving as its conscience through trying times and establishing herself as the keeper of its marginalized histories. Through her inventive turns of phrase, graceful incorporation of African-American vernacular, textured character portraits, sharp historical gaze and tragic plot turns, she is one of the most accomplished and impactful writers in the history of American literature. “What was driving me to write was the silence — so many stories untold and unexamined,” she told The New Yorker in 2003.
According to The Daily Beast, The mother of Eric Garner, who was killed by a NYPD police officer during his 2014 arrest, decried the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute her son’s killer, during an emotional press conference Tuesday morning. “We’re here with heavy hearts because the DOJ has failed us,” Gwen Carr said. “Five years ago, my son said ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times, and today we can’t breathe because they have let us down.” Carr vowed to “keep fighting.” “We are asking the commissioner to make the right decision, that officer Pantaleo and all the officers who were involved in my son’s death that day need to be off the force. The streets of New York City are not safe with them walking around,” she said. Garner’s family was joined by Rev. Al Sharpton, who called the ruling a “moral disgrace” and “judicial malpractice.” “This decision says that the federal civil rights are not protected no matter what the evidence may be,” he said. The Justice Department announced Tuesday, exactly five years after Garner’s death, that NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo would not be charged with violating Garner’s civil rights. Pantaleo choked Garner, who was stopped for allegedly selling loose cigarettes, for 15 seconds, as the 43-year-old repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” “You killed my son, and you won’t get away with it,” Carr said Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, Jeffrey Epstein, the well-connected financier accused of orchestrating a sex-trafficking ring, killed himself while awaiting trial in a New York prison, officials said Saturday. Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, according to a statement from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Fire Department said it received a call at 6:39 a.m. Saturday that Epstein was in cardiac arrest, and he was pronounced dead at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital. Epstein, 66, had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month. Prosecutors accused him of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. He had pleaded not guilty. The FBI is investigating Epstein’s death, the Bureau of Prisons said.
According to USA Today, A federal jury decided Thursday that Katy Perry and her collaborators must pay $2.78 million to the writers of a Christian rap song “Joyful Noise” for copying elements of it in her own hit song, “Dark Horse.” After over a week of testimony in federal court, the nine-member jury decided that Perry should pay rapper Marcus Gray $550,000, while her record company, Capitol Records, owes the majority of the $2.78 million total. Perry’s five co-writers were also given penalties, including about $60,000 for Dr. Luke and over $250,000 for Max Martin. The jury decided that the riff in question was responsible for 22.5 percent of the success of “Dark Horse,” and handed out the damages accordingly. The same jury found that Perry improperly copied beats from “Joyful Noise” on Monday. Perry’s attorney, Christine Lepera, told KTLA that they plan to fight the decision. “The writers of ‘Dark Horse’ consider this a travesty of justice,” Lepera said.
According to Hip-Hop DX, After four weeks in a Swedish prison, a judge allowed A$AP Rocky to go back to the United States while the courts determine the verdict in his assault case. The multiplatinum-selling rapper quickly hopped on Twitter to express his gratitude for all the support he received during the ordeal. “THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART TO ALL OF MY FANS, FRIENDS AND ANYONE ACROSS THE GLOBE WHO SUPPORTED ME DURING THESE LAST FEW WEEKS,” he wrote in all caps. “I CANT BEGIN TO DESCRIBE HOW GRATEFUL I AM FOR ALL OF YOU. “THIS HAS BEEN A VERY DIFFICULT AND HUMBLING EXPERIENCE I WANT TO THANK THE COURT FOR ALLOWING ME BLADI AND THOTO TO RETURN TO OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL OF THE LOVE AND SUPPORT.” Rocky’s situation is far from over. The judge is expected to hand down the verdict on August 14, meaning the A$AP Mob member would only have 12 days to get back to the the U.S. and then back to Sweden. Prosecutors have reportedly recommended a six-month sentence rather than the two-year maximum. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to USA Today, Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is out of the hospital following three surgeries after being shot in the back at a bar in the Dominican Republic. The Red Sox said Saturday that they’ve been told Ortiz has been released from Massachusetts General Hospital. The team said there will be an update on his condition next week. “Hopefully we can see him soon,” Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts said after the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees 9-5 on Saturday. “I know there’s a lot of guys in here that would want to go see him.” ESPN reported the 43-year-old Ortiz has been home since Friday and will continue his recovery there. Ortiz had been at the Boston hospital since June 10, a day after he was shot. Dominican police have said he was mistaken for another man who was sitting near him at the club. A 10-time All-Star, Big Papi led the Red Sox to three World Series championships before retiring after the 2016 season.
According to The Christian Post, Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Tamela Mann recently underwent surgery and is taking supporters on her recovery journey through social media. “Hey everybody … surgery was successful,” Mann is heard saying in a video posted on Instagram Wednesday. “Thank you for your prayers. I haven’t gotten up and walked yet but that’s coming…” The “Meet the Browns” actress and singer had to undergo a double knee replacement and she says she was only able to get through it because of the support she’s received. “I just love everybody. I just thank my family and all you guys’ prayers out there and all the calls I got. I really appreciate it and I couldn’t [have] made it without everybody, so thank you so much,” Mann continued. Her family joined her in the hospital and waited until she was out of surgery. The group was seen sporting T-shirts with the hashtag #TeamMann on it, something she called very “special.”
According to the Associated Press, Afton Williamson, star of the ABC crime series “The Rookie,” says she is quitting the show because of sexual harassment and racial discrimination she experienced during the making of the show’s first season. In an Instagram post Sunday, Williamson outlined a series of claims against the show. She said she was sexually assaulted by the show’s hair department head, sexually harassed by a recurring guest star and suffered bullying from executive producers. Williamson also was highly critical of how her claims were handled by showrunner Alexi Hawley. Williamson says her claims weren’t seriously investigated by the network and weren’t shared by Hawley with other producers. Representatives for ABC did not immediately respond to messages Sunday.
According to Christian Headlines, New Pro Football Hall of Fame member Kevin Mawae thanked his family and his former teammates and coaches during his induction speech Saturday, but much of his time at the podium involved thanking Christ and discussing his faith. “I am a born-again believer through the resurrection and the Blood of Jesus Christ, and I proudly and humbly recognize that without God’s grace and His blessings, I would not be here tonight,” Mawae told a national television audience and a large crowd in Canton, Ohio. The 6-foot-4 Mawae played 16 seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL, first with the Seattle Seahawks and then with the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans before his retirement in 2009. He was drafted out of Louisiana State University (LSU) and was a military brat as a child, moving often. His spiritual turning point, he said during his speech, came after his brother, John, was killed in an alcohol-related car accident on May 5, 1996. Shortly thereafter, Mawae learned his wife was pregnant with their first child. “Those two moments changed my life, and the direction and purpose of my life, forever,” Mawae said. “In that extreme sorrow followed by great joy, my focus turned to faith as I learned of the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and the purposeful living in His Name. Whether it be through encouragement, wisdom or resources, I learned that God can use one person to change the lives of hundreds and even thousands.”
According to The Washington Times, A certain former president and first lady have made their mark in Hollywood. “The Obamas are settling into their new roles as Netflix producers,” said The Hollywood Reporter — referring of course to former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, who signed an exclusive production deal with Netflix some 15 months ago, then formed a Los Angeles-based production company called Higher Ground. More significantly, the couple is now readying their first release, a documentary titled “American Factory,” which chronicles the culture clash between Chinese and American workers in a U.S. auto glass factory. It is set to debut on Netflix before 139 million subscribers in 190 countries on Aug. 21 and will also be screened in select theaters around the nation. The film was already cited at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The couple’s next project will be “Bloom,” a dramatic series set in New York City shortly after World War II.
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In closing, remember, 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!