Romans 3:5-8

Arlin Sorensen's Thoughts on Scripture

In Romans 3:5-8 Paul continues to explain life to the Jewish leaders of that day. They wanted to claim salvation based on their heritage, but Paul says that isn’t how it works. Paul was familiar with the line of thinking that says, “God is in control of everything. Even my evil will ultimately demonstrate His righteousness. Therefore God is unjust if He inflicts His wrath on me, because I’m just a pawn in His hand.” “But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)” The leaders were looking for a way to excuse themselves from having to be held accountable to God’s law.

But Paul says that’s not how it will go down. Paul dismisses the question of these leaders easily. If things were such they suggested…

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Boko Haram kills 29 farmers in fresh Borno attack

June 27, 2019Abdulkareem Haruna

At least 29 farmers were killed in cold blood when Boko Haram insurgents attacked two Borno communities on Monday, sources have said.

The incidents occurred on the day the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, paid a courtesy visit on the Borno State governor, Babagana Umara.

During the visit, he told the governor that the military has developed better strategies that had been yielding positive results ‘in the past three weeks’.

The governor, had, amongst other concerns raised at the meeting, pleaded with military to up their game in order to help farmers gain unfettered access to their farmlands for the purpose of food production. which he said has become a major challenge for the state.

Despite all assurances of an improved counterinsurgency strategy, the insurgents had, on Monday, attacked two agrarian communities of Ngangam in Mobbar local government and another village in Guzamala local government where they killed a total of 29 persons.

According to a military source who craved anonymity in this report because he is not permitted to speak to journalists, the Boko Haram fighters attacked Ngamgam a border settlement about 20km away from Damasak the headquarters of Mobbar local government area, where they killed 50 farmers.

Mobbar is Borno’s closest local government to Niger Republic.

The security source, who shared the information with journalists, said, “We have an information that reveals that on 25 June, 2019, suspected members of the deadly terrorist group attacked Ngamgam settlement about 50 kilometres east of Damasak and killed 20 farmers in their farms.”

He said most of the villagers who survived the attack fled their homes to Damasak town.

The security personnel said the second attack, which claimed nine lives, occurred around Gudumbali in Guzamala local government area.

Gudumbali is about 79 kilometres away from Damasak town.

He said the gunmen, who attacked the village, carted away foodstuff, after killing nine persons.

The military has not responded to our reporter’s inquiries about the attacks.

The chief of army staff said recently that journalists may not be getting such responses from them as expected because they do not tend to believe in the military’s side of the story.

“We don’t give out information for the sake of it or because somebody is interested,” said the army chief.

“Military activities and even issues concerning its personnel are all classified, which means they are not for public consumption.”

He said the reverse can only happen if doing so is absolutely necessary, for the purpose of winning confidence as well as promoting the army’s efforts in securing the nation.

Glyphosate is Sourced from Controversial Mines

Jun 26 2019 – 2:05am by Sustainable Pulse

Roundup, the world’s top herbicide, has been mired in controversy in recent months as the jurors in three court cases have found it causes cancer. Bayer Crop Science, the company that produces Roundup, has been ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages, and thousands of other cancer cases are pending in state and federal courts.

Source: Civil Eats, By Gosia Wozniacka
And while the majority of the nation’s corn, soybean, and cotton growers continue to use it, Roundup’s damage to soil health and history of producing herbicide-tolerant “superweeds” are also critical concerns to farmers and consumers.

Few people know that Roundup is equally contentious at its source.
Glyphosate, the herbicide’s main ingredient, isn’t manufactured in a lab, but originates in a mine. To produce it, phosphate ore is extracted and refined into elemental phosphorus. While Bayer, which recently bought Monsanto, touts its sustainable mining process, environmentalists contend that the process involves stripping away the soil off mountaintops, which destroys vegetation, contaminates water and creates noise and air pollution that is detrimental to wildlife and the environment for years to come.

For decades, Monsanto has quietly mined the phosphate ore in a remote corner of Southeast Idaho known as the phosphate patch. Because its current mine is nearly tapped out, Bayer has applied for a permit to start a new mine nearby. In May, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final environmental impact statement analyzing the proposed mine. The agency will issue its final decision later this summer.

But opponents say the government has failed to properly analyze environmental damage, including impacts to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and a connecting regional wildlife corridor, the dwindling greater sage grouse population, and local Native American tribes who depend on the land and wildlife. They point to the cumulative impact of the proposed mine and a total of about 20 other inactive, active, and proposed mines in the phosphate patch, many of which are contaminated Superfund sites that will require years of cleanup.

“From the cradle to the grave, glyphosate is deeply problematic,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has submitted critical comments to the BLM on the project and is considering legal action. “The environmental costs begin with open-pit mines that destroy hundreds of acres of habitat critical to the survival of imperiled species and end with a pesticide that harms wildlife and people. It’s pretty disturbing.”

Pope presides over Council of Cardinals meeting on Curial reform

A 2017 archive photo of the Council of Cardinals.

The 30th meeting of the Council of Cardinals that is advising the Pope on the reform of the central government of the Catholic Church began in the Vatican Tuesday morning in the presence of the Pontiff.
The main focus of the meeting that will conclude on Thursday, is the new Apostolic Constitution on the reform of the Roman Curia, the central government of the Catholic Church.
The draft text of the document, whose provisional title is “Praedicate Evangelium” (Preach the Gospel), was approved by the Council of Cardinals and sent to the presidents of the national bishops’ conferences, the Synods of the Eastern Churches, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the Conferences of Major Superiors and a few Pontifical Universities which were asked to send observations and suggestions.
“Praedicate Evangelium” is to replace the current Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus” (The Good Shepherd) of Pope St. John Paul II which has been in force since June 28, 1988, and also includes modifications and additions by Popes Benedict XVI and Francis.
In the last meeting of the Council of Cardinals, April 8 to 10, the procedure for consultation on the new Apostolic Constitution was finalized.
All the six cardinals of the Council participated in the April meeting: Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Coordinator, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
Also present were the Secretary of the Council, Msgr. Marcello Semeraro, and the Assistant Secretary, Msgr. Marco Mellino.
Among the issues that the April meeting discussed were the missionary orientation that the Curia must increasingly assume in the light of the new Apostolic Constitution, the commitment to strengthen the process of synodality in the Church at all levels and the need for a greater presence of women in leadership roles in the bodies of the Holy See.
Finally, it was reiterated that the Council of Cardinals is tasked with helping the Pope in the governance of the Universal Church and hence its function does not end with the publication of the Apostolic Constitution.

Arms Scandal: Nigerian Governors react over Amosun’s claim weapons kept in lodges

June 27, 2019Josiah Oluwole, Cletus Ukpong, Nasir Ayitogo and Abdulkareem Haruna

State governments across Nigeria have pushed back against an allegation that they maintain armouries inside official residences of their respective governors.

Ibikunle Amosun, a former governor of Ogun State, made the disturbing allegation on Tuesday night as he struggled to extricate himself from a PREMIUM TIMES story about how he stockpiled sophisticated arms and ammunition at Ogun State Government House, Abeokuta — in apparent violation of Nigeria’s Firearms Act.

PREMIUM TIMES reported on Monday that Mr Amosun stockpiled at least 1,000 AK47 rifles, four millions bullets, 1,000 bulletproof vests for a long period at his official residence when he was governor.

The politician, now a senator, called the police commissioner, Bashir Makama, and hurriedly handed over the weapons to him a day before he left office on May 28.

National security officials had found Mr Amosun’s action particularly troubling and illegal, expressing further dismay that the country’s security architecture failed to detect such a massive load of arms and ammunition for such a long time.

In his defence Tuesday night, Mr Amosun denied keeping the AK47 in his residence but admitted he had the ammunition and armoured personnel carrier in his possession until his last day in office and seven years after he supposedly procured them for the police.

Still, the Firearms Act and other extant firearms regulations prohibit possession of the type of bullets and armoured personnel carrier — all categorised as controlled equipment — that Mr Amosun admitted handing over to Mr Makama on his last day in office.

The governor also tried to downplay his assault on the country’s firearms law with a claim that illegal possession of firearms was common amongst state governors across the country.

Governors react

PREMIUM TIMES reached out to 13 state governments across the country to get their position on Mr Amosun’s claim between Wednesday and Thursday, and all their spokespersons were incensed by the allegation.

Across the Southwest, governments of Ondo, Osun, Lagos, Oyo, Ekiti and Ogun were unanimous in their rejection of Mr Amosun’s claim that governors operate armouries as part of their executive functions.

“We do not have such a thing in Ondo State Government House,” Yemi Olowolabi, the commissioner for information, told PREMIUM TIMES. “Given the kind of governor we have, we do not need an armoury and we are not buying arms for anybody.”

The Ekiti State Government distanced itself from the practice of keeping weapons at the Government House

“We do not have any armoury and housing for such a large cache of arms,” Yinka Oyebode, the chief press secretary to Governor Kayode Fayemi, said.

“We are not fighting a war. Security operatives get their arms and ammunition from the police command,” Mr Oyebode added.

The Oyo State Government said it did not need to keep any guns for whatever reason.

“I can tell you that the Oyo State Government does not have a single gun not to talk of an armoury,” Taiwo Adisa, the chief press secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, told PREMIUM TIMES.

“Whatever Governor Makinde does regarding security, he calls the security agencies concerned.

“The police and other security agencies are paid to provide the needed security for the state, and the governor consults with the security chiefs, including regular meetings with them on matters of security in the state,” Mr Adisa added.

Asked if there were any indications if former Governor Abiola Ajimobi kept an armoury, Mr Adisa said he would not know as no trace of such was found when the new government took over.

“Even if there was anything like that, you know as the opposition government is coming in, such things would be cleared so nothing is left to be noticed,” he added.

Osun State also said it was not in the practice of keeping arms within the precinct of the Government House.

Niyi Adesina, the chief press secretary to Governor Gboyega Oyetola, said that the keeping of arms for any reasons is unknown to him.

Kunle Somorin, the chief press secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun, said, the new administration has no business with the claim of Mr Amosun and distanced his principal from any claim of arms storage at Government House.

In Lagos State, Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu also rejected the claim by Mr Amosun.

“I know that Governor Sanwo-Olu does not handle arms and does not operate an armoury in Government House,” spokesperson Gboyega Akosile told PREMIUM TIMES. “He does not do more than what is constitutionally-required of him as a governor.”

More governors speak

Spokespersons for South-South governors also shunned any links to storage of arms.

Ekerete Udoh, a spokesperson for Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, said: “I think this is about the most insanely ridiculous question to ask: How can the seat of government of one of the most peaceful, safe and secure states in the nation have an armoury? To do what with it?

Mr Udoh said the governor is in the business of providing solid dividends of democracy in Akwa Ibom and “not in the business to stockpiling arms.”

“I suggest you direct your inquiry to the relevant agencies of the federal government who are legally tasked and mandated to stockpile arms and secure them in armouries,” he added.

Fidelis Soriwei, a spokesperson for Governor Seriake Dickson said Bayel State Government House has no armouries, and expressed serious anger about Mr Amosun’s allegation.

“You are asking if the governor of a state has an armoury in Government House? Are there no policemen and State Security Service personnel deployed to the Government House?

“It is inconceivable for a governor of a state to have an armoury in Government House,” Mr Soriwei said, adding that doing such a thing would constitute a threat to national security.

Governor Patrick Okowa also said he does not keep an armoury in his official residence in Asaba.

“What business does the governor have with armoury?” Ehiedu Aniagwu, the governor’s spokesperson, said.

“Normally, we have policemen and officials of other security agencies deployed to the Government House, and where they keep their weapons is none of our business.

“How can the governor have control over armoury? Government House, Asaba, is for the purpose of running the government, it is up to the police commissioner in the state to direct how policemen carry arms.

“How can the governor be busy thinking about where they keep arms? That is not part of his job,” Mr Aniagwu added.

Governor Godwin Obaseki also said that the Government House Benin City does not harbour an armoury.

“We have what we called quarter guard which is in every government house in Nigeria, we have policemen, we have the SSS, and some of them are resident there and they have control over their weapons.

“The police and the SSS are under the control of the federal government. The governor absolutely does not have control over where they keep their weapons,” Crusoe Osagie, Mr Obaseki’s spokesperson, said.

“No, we do not have any armoury in Government House, Calabar, we only have security personnel who are armed by the police,” Christian Ita, Cross River Governor Ben Ayade’s spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning.

The Kogi State Government also said it is “not responsible for arms procurement for the security agencies in the state.”

“But as the government who puts the security of life and property of all the citizens and residents of the state at the top of his agenda, we give assistance in the donation of patrol vehicles and motorcycles to the security operatives in the state to enhance their operations,” Mohammed Onogwu, Governor Yahaya Bello’s spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES.

Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi also said there was no reason for him to maintain an armoury in Government House.

“We do not have any reason to have an armoury as a state which is under the protection of a constitutionally empowered security outfit,” Emmanuel Uzor, a spokesperson for the governor, said. “There is no need to stockpile arms in the Government House under the direct supervision of the governor who is not a security man.”

“Only the security personnel attached to the Government House keep arms for their operational convenience,” the spokesperson added. “Ägain, we do not have an armoury under direct supervision of the governor.”

In the North-East, spokespersons for Borno and Yobe, which have been under heightened security arrangement due to Boko Haram, said Mr Amosun’s claim was not even worth dignifying with a response.

University of Ilorin, Nigeria to sack lecturer who ‘raped’ 17-year-old student

June 27, 2019 Ini Ekott

UNILORIN gate used to illustrate the story.

The University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) has adopted a disciplinary committee report recommending the dismissal of a lecturer accused of raping a 17-year-old student, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.

The lecturer, Solomon Olowookere, will soon be informed of the decision, a source who asked not to be named because the decision had not been officially announced, said.

Mr Olowookere has denied wrongdoing. He told PREMIUM TIMES the allegation was “a lie” and that he “would never do such”.

But interviews with senior university officials, including with the head of Department of Arts Education, the dean of Faculty of Education and the dean of Students’ Affairs, confirmed the attack occurred.

The officials said Mr Olowookere had initially admitted assaulting the female student, blaming the devil and claiming it was consensual sex, before changing his testimony.

They said in assaulting the student, the lecturer also increased her test score as compensation.

The interviews, conducted by a panel set up by the university to review the case, formed the basis for a recommendation the lecturer be dismissed.

The panel held the lecturer guilty of four offences: showing the student her test score, altering the result, raping the girl and doing so in his office.

The report, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, was submitted in April, but the university was yet to act two months after.

The vice-chancellor of the university, Sulyman Abdulkareem, earlier told PREMIUM TIMES he would prefer not to comment on the matter because it “was in court” already. He said the school would make its decision known later.

After PREMIUM TIMES published the story on Monday, a source in the school told the newspaper the university management met last week and agreed to fire the accused lecturer.

The source said the management was careful in announcing the decision to ensure it properly handled all aspects of the verdict before making it public.

Sexual Abuse

The panel’s report sheds light on the challenge of rampant sexual harassment in Nigerian schools and how institutions struggle to check its occurrence or manage the fallouts.

In June, the Ekiti State University said it had questioned a lecturer after a video circulated on the internet showing the official trying to sleep with his student in return for high scores.

Between April and June 2018, three Nigerian universities – Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Lagos, and Lagos State University – faced similar scandals.

In the most widely reported case, the Obafemi Awolowo University sacked a professor, Richard Akindele, for demanding sex from a student, Monica Osagie, in exchange for marks.

Ms. Osagie released a secretly-recorded conversation with the lecturer, that was widely circulated on social media. Mr Akindele was sentenced in December 2018 to two years in prison, a rare prosecution success for a matter whose judicial prospect experts say is usually undermined by the inability to gather formidable evidence.

In the University of Ilorin’s case, the panel relied on interviews and a recording of Mr Olowookere’s admission of guilt.

The panel repeatedly interviewed Mr Olowookere and his accuser – whose name PREMIUM TIMES has decided to withhold since she might be stigmatised. It also interrogated two deans, the head of the department, two faculty professors, and the lecturer responsible for signing course forms.

In his denial before the committee, Mr Olowookere said his earlier offer to resign was not an admission of guilt. He said he acted on advice that men stood little chance of being believed in rape charges.

“They said some things that are almost true; that when an allegation of this nature is raised against a man, people would listen to the female; that I would be ridiculed and put to shame and honestly, the girl was given more attention than me,” he was quoted as saying.

The student insisted she did not make up the charge.

“For a case as delicate as this one, I don’t think anybody in his right frame of mind would want to punish somebody for what he did not do. He has wronged me in any way,” the report quoted her as saying.

“I have never met him before. I can’t just wake up and say I don’t not like this man. All of these things have been a lot for me. I was supposed to be in Abuja now by my father had to cancel all his appointments to enable me honour the invitation to appear before this committee. My family is under a lot of pressure.”

2 Important Things to Remember (When Everything Goes Wrong)…

Marc and Angel

“Today, I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one. Up until now I have had no health problems. I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than 17.”

That’s an entry from my grandmother, Zelda’s, journal, dated 9/16/1977. I photocopied it and pinned it to my bulletin board about a decade ago. It’s still there today, and it continues to remind me that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. And that no matter how good or bad I have it, I must wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.

Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

Here are two key reminders transcribed from lessons in our “Getting Back to Happy Course” to help motivate you when you need it most:

1. Every little struggle is a step forward.

In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams and desires, knowing that the work is worth it. So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way. Otherwise, there’s no point in starting. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what, or sleeping where, you’re used to, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar. It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers. It could mean lots of time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible. It gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it.

And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine. You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path. And it’s worth it. So if you’re going to try, go all the way. There’s no better feeling in the world… there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE. (covered in the “Goals & Growth” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

2. The best thing you can do is to keep going.

Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.

Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage to feel different, yet beautiful. Find it in your heart to make others smile too. Don’t stress over things you can’t change. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. And even if you fall short, keep going. Keep growing. (covered in the “Happiness & Positive Living” module of “Getting Back to Happy”)

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track this summer. This is precisely why Marc and I built the “Getting Back to Happy Course.” The course is filled with time-tested steps on how to do just that. And I’m thrilled to let you know that the full Getting Back to Happy Course is now OPEN again to early access members.

But we’re closing the doors TODAY, June 27, to early access members and sometimes we need a little nudge to invest in ourselves.

This is not some ebook that you read and forget about. It’s a revolutionary, self-paced online course and community with 60 HD video lessons, and hundreds of time-tested strategies and techniques that will teach you scientifically proven methods for Conquering Pain, Eliminating Insecurity, Beating Procrastination, Healing Toxic Relationships, Taming Life’s Complications, and Building Consistent Growth into Your Life and Career — the exact proven strategies and techniques Marc and I have used in our coaching practice to help tens of thousands of people over the past decade.

It took 17 iterations, and thousands of dollars, to get it right.

These techniques work no matter where you stand in your current situation or what you’re up against going forward. Even if you have limited experience with self-improvement and personal development tactics. And even if you don’t know what you really want for yourself…yet.