By James Thomas Rook Jr.
Norway is the great catalyst that will force the GB to start thinking about basic human rights, as currently there is a lot of discussion in the Norwegian Government about " ... Why are we giving the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Norwegian dollars (Kroners) every year from Tax money for their charities ... for EACH and every of the approximately 112,000 JWs in Norway (paraphrased), when they prohibit their members to vote"... which THEY consider to be an inalienable, and non-negotiable human right of all peoples, everywhere.
The WTB&TS is currently being governed by the Lawyers, Accountants, and the Finances department, with the GB not admitting being personally responsible for ANYTHING.
What we consider "reasonable", they consider EXTREMIST, and many European nations give tax money to ALL legitimate churches, without restriction on how they spend it.
By violating what these governments' and peoples' basic understanding on what constitutes extremism, soon, if not already, it is going to affect the flow of cash into the Society's Treasury.
One of several major concerns of the Governing Body is to not hemorrhage money, as it has been doing for years in the constant Child Sexual Abuse court cases.
THIS is what will drive any change .... not love ... not justice ...not fairness .... MONEY!
By the way .... has the Society recently decided that voting is a matter of personal conscience?
What I have read is so "weasel worded", I cannot tell.
(Official White House Photo by Joyce Boghosian)
By Guest Mr. Open
via .ORGWorld News
By Jack Ryan
President Attends Tax Reform Talk in Cleveland President Trump took part in a roundtable discussion in Cleveland with Ohio residents, Labor Secretary Alaex Acosta and Rep. Jim Renacci to discuss the tax reform legislation passed in December.
Macron to UN: "Our fight against terrorism is also a political, cultural, moral fight"
By Guest Nicole
WASHINGTON (AP) Â— El subdirector del FBI Andrew McCabe, quien fuera un blanco frecuente de crÃticas por parte del presidente Donald Trump, renunciÃ³ abruptamente el lunes antes de su jubilaciÃ³n ya cercana.
McCabe, veterano de 22 aÃ±os en el FBI, fue criticado pÃºblicamente repetidas veces el aÃ±o pasado por Trump, quien lo ha acusado de parcialidad por las conexiones polÃticas de su esposa y por una investigaciÃ³n del FBI de la cual no surgiÃ³ ningÃºn cargo penal contra Hillary Clinton.
McCabe, que desempeÃ±Ã³ varios puestos de liderazgo y estuvo muy involucrado en investigaciones de crÃmenes importantes _incluido el atentado en el MaratÃ³n de Boston de 2013_, cumplirÃa en cuestiÃ³n de semanas los requisitos para jubilarse. El personal del FBI se enterÃ³ el lunes que McCabe dejaba el segundo cargo mÃ¡s importante de la agencia de forma inmediata, segÃºn personas familiarizadas con la situaciÃ³n que pidieron permanecer anÃ³nimas debido a que no podÃan hablar pÃºblicamente sobre una decisiÃ³n interna relativa al personal.
El tercer funcionario en rango del FBI, David Bowdich, fue nombrado subdirector interino.
Se tiene previsto que McCabe se retire con todos los beneficios de la jubilaciÃ³n.
Su salida se da en el marco de los cambios implementados por el director del FBI Christopher Wray en su equipo de liderazgo. Otros dos funcionarios importantes fueron remplazados la semana pasada. Tales cambios no son inusuales cuando un nuevo director toma las riendas de la agencia, pero son notorios debido a la presiÃ³n de Trump sobre Wray para que despidiera a los funcionarios que eran cercanos al ex director James Comey.
En un mensaje el lunes a los empleados de la agencia, Wray les dijo que McCabe se retirarÃ¡ el 18 de marzo y rechazÃ³ que la medida se deba a presiÃ³n polÃtica.
The similar demolition of a Catholic church last year is prompting Christians to worry that the central government will begin ordering the mass destruction of church buildings nationwide as new religious regulations go into effect next month. These regulations grant the Chinese Communist Party increased power over religion, paving the way for escalated persecution.
according to ChinaAid
Chinese Police Dynamite Christian Megachurch
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By Guest Nicole
HANOI, VIETNAM — The JehovahÂ’s Witnesses in Hanoi, Vietnam has on Sunday welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump to their Kingdom Hall.
Trump joined hundreds of congregants during the groupÂ’s Sunday Public Talk and Watchtower studies.
It is currently not known if TrumpÂ’s visit to the meetings was planned but Â‘ushersÂ’, otherwise called Attendants, were seen making front-row seat available for the president.
Speaking the press present after the meeting, Trump commended the Vietnamese government for upholding religious freedom in the country. Â“The status of respect for religious freedom has improved significantly compared to previous years, and I commend the government for such effortsÂ” Â– Trump said.
The Constitution of Vietnam officially provides for freedom of worship, while the government has imposed a range of legislation restricting religious practices. Despite being a communist country, Vietnam is widely known for its tolerance towards other religions. However, the Government has in the past held discussions about registration and recognition with leaders of JehovahÂ’s Witnesses.
After worshiping with JehovahÂ’s Witnesses in Hanoi Sunday, Trump met with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang to continue the dayÂ’s business.
Trump told a joint press conference, Â“For trade to work, all countries must play by the rules. I am encouraged that Vietnam has recently become the fastest growing export market to the United States. Mr. President, I applaud your efforts to implement economic reforms and increase VietnamÂ’s trade and investment in all directions. The United States is enthusiastic about reforms that promote economic prosperity for all Vietnamese citizens.Â”
He added, Â“We just had a great discussion about American goods and services coming into Vietnam. Two-way street. I am confident that American energy, agriculture, financial services, aviation, digital commerce, and defense products are able to meet all of your many commercial needs. And, in fact, not only meet them but what we do is better than anybody else.Â”
Speaking through a translator, Quang described his meeting with Trump as fruitful, saying, Â“The presidentÂ’s state visit to Vietnam marks a milestone in Vietnam-U.S. relations, creating strong momentum for the substantive, effective, and stable development of the bilateral, comprehensive partnership.Â”
By The Librarian
The heated language of Trump’s presidential campaign is affecting American Muslims, who find themselves increasingly on the receiving end of hate crimes. A year into TrumpÂ’s presidency, how will his words and decisions affect the countryÂ’s Islamic minority? We ask Trita Parsi, former informal Obama administrationÂ’s adviser and head of the National American Iranian Council.
By Guest Nicole
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will end in January 2019 a special status given to 5,300 Nicaraguan immigrants that protects them from deportation, senior Trump administration officials said on Monday.
A U.S. flag flutters over top of the skyline of New York (R) and Jersey City (L), as seen from Bayonne, New Jersey, August 6, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
They also said the program known as Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, would be extended until July 2018 for about 86,000 Honduran immigrants, but added it could then be terminated.
The decision to end TPS for Nicaraguans is part of President Donald Trump’s broader efforts to tighten restrictions on immigration.Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from across Central America live and work in the United States, but some are protected from the threat of deportation under the TPS program.
Thousands from both Nicaragua and Honduras were given the special status in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America. In all, TPS protects more than 300,000 people from nine countries living in the United States.
Trump’s administration was faced with a Monday deadline to announce its decision on Nicaragua and Honduras.
Critics have complained the TPS program allows participants to repeatedly extend their stays in 6-month to 18-month increments in case of a natural disaster, civil strife or other emergencies in their homelands.
In the case of Nicaragua, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke decided the conditions caused by Hurricane Mitch “no longer exist, and thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.
The TPS for thousands of Nicaraguans was due to expire on Jan. 5, 2018, but it was delayed by 12 months “to allow for an orderly transition.”
Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-protections/u-s-to-end-protected-status-for-nicaraguan-immigrants-in-2019-idUSKBN1D704X
REPLAY - Watch US President Donald Trump's First Address at the U.N. General Assembly
By Guest Nicole
Call it a religious conversion.
A billionaire pal of President Trump will transform a former Jehovah’s Witnesses dormitory in Brooklyn Heights into a residential complex after the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plans on Aug. 8.
Vincent Viola Â— TrumpÂ’s first choice for Secretary of the Army Â— is turning the 237-unit property on Columbia Heights between Pineapple and Orange streets into an apartment house with 101 residences, according to city records.
Changes to the exterior of the building,Â which sits in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, required approval from the landmarks commission in order to ensure they are in keeping with the nabeÂ’s old-timey character.
Exterior alterations include the addition of a parking garage with an elevator for cars, which will have a bulkhead on the roof. In addition, workers will carve an opening for the garage door into the buildingÂ’s facade and make a curb cut in the sidewalk.
The new owner is also planning to replace the current windows with aluminum ones,Â as first reported by the Brooklyn Eagle.
The Williamsburg-born Viola is the head of trading firm Virtu Financial, the owner the Florida Panthers hockey team, and a part owner of the 2017 Kentucky DerbyÂ–winning horse, Always Dreaming.
The former lieutenantÂ withdrew himself from consideration for the position of TrumpÂ’s army secretaryÂ because of concerns over of his business entanglements.
He bought the Columbia Heights building in 2016 for $105 million through a limited liability company overseen by his wife, according to city records.
Viola isnÂ’t the only Trump cronyÂ snatching up JehovahÂ’s Witnesses propertiesÂ as the organization moves its headquarters to upstate New York. The presidentÂ’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns retail and office complex Dumbo Heights,Â recently revealed plans to turn the religious groupÂ’s former Columbia Heights headquarters into another high-end office complex, and bought aÂ massive parking lot at 85 Jay St., which he has yet to file plans for.
Reach reporter Lauren Gill atÂ firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ or by calling (718) 260Â–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 1:15 pm, August 16, 2017
Bigly: Trump pal Vincent Viola is planning to turn this former JehovahÂ’s Witnesses dorm building into apartments.
WHAT DOES TRUMP THINK ABOUT PUTIN’S WAR ON RELIGION?
BYÂ ROMAN LUNKINÂ ON 8/12/17 AT 12:20 AM This article first appeared on the Wilson Center site.
Just ten years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that the crackdown on civic activism in Russia would target religious communities, not just NGOs. And yet it is happening.
The Russian state persecutes Baptists, Pentecostals, and Adventists and closes down Orthodox parishes that are not part of the Moscow Patriarchate.
For the first time since the Soviet Union collapsed, preachers are now being fined for proclaiming GodÂ’s word outside church buildings.
And a recent Supreme Court decision has opened the door to liquidating JehovahÂ’s Witnesses communities in Russia.
Â“TraditionalÂ” versus Â“NontraditionalÂ” Religions
Russia divides all faiths into Â“traditionalÂ” and Â“nontraditional.Â” This concept, while absent from the Russian Law on Religious Freedom (although mentioned in the lawÂ’s preamble), has been introduced under pressure from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and Patriarch Kirill personally.
Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are deemed Â“traditional,Â” while Old Believers, Catholics, various Protestant denominations, and many others are not.
A member of the 'Union of Orthodox Banner-Bearers' takes part in a demonstration against the movie 'Matilda' in front of the Church of the Resurrection in Moscow on August 1, 2017. 'Matilda', a Russian movie about a love story between the last Russian Tsar Nikolay II and the ballerina Mathilda-Marie Feliksovna Kschessinskaya set for theater release in October, is believed by many Russians to insult the monarchy and offend religious sentiment.MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/GETTY
The concept of traditional religions not only pits worshippers against each other, it also ignores the religious diversity of Russia. Today there are some 15 million practicing Orthodox believers in Russia, 10 million Muslims, 3 million Protestants, 500,000 Buddhists, 200,000 Jews, 175,000 JehovahÂ’s Witnesses, 100,000 Hindus, and 100,000 followers of other religious faiths (e.g., there are an estimated 10,000 Mormons in Russia).
The ROC has usurped the right to a close relationship with the government and accuses Catholics and Protestants of proselytizing in the territory that it considers its own. As for Muslims, the ROC accepts as Â“traditionalÂ” only those who are loyal to the government.
The ROCÂ’s concern is understandable. According to the Russian Ministry of Justice, ROC organizations are the most numerous in the country (around 16,000 communities), while Protestants and Muslims are second and third (5,000Â–6,000 communities each).
However, polls show that Protestants and Muslims may be twice as numerous as official figures suggest. For example, evangelicals are now the second largest Christian denomination in Russia after Orthodox Christians in terms of numbers and presence throughout the country.
In fact, in many regions of Siberia and the Far East, the number of Protestant communities and active parishioners is higher than the number of practicing Orthodox believers. In light of this, Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly urged the authorities in the Far East to Â“fight against sectsÂ” and support the Orthodox projects.
Tightening the Screws
The path toward tightening the screws on various non-traditional religions began in 2012, with the Â“foreign agentÂ” law limiting the activity of foreign-funded noncommercial organizations. Furthermore, the law on meetings and demonstrations was also tightened. And in 2015 a new directive was introduced specifying that all religious groups must inform authorities of their existence.
Then, in June 2016, the State Duma adopted a series of laws known collectively as theÂ Yarovaya Law.Â Named after Duma Deputy Irina Yarovaya, who initiated it, the law amends Russian public safety and anti-extremism legislation.
The part of the law that has already come into force and has received the broadest coverage consists of the statutes regulating liability for failure to report Â“extremist activityÂ”Â—a very broadly defined set of activities under Russian law, ranging from calls for violence to the vague Â“incitement of racial, nationalist and religious hatredÂ” and Â“propaganda of exceptionalismÂ” based on religion or nationality.
The part of the Yarovaya Law that has received much less attention is the provision imposing new restrictions on missionary work. The law now imposes a fine of 50,000 rubles on a private citizen for illegal preaching and up to 1 million rubles on a religious organization.
Illegal preaching may mean preaching in a building that is not designated for such purposes and lacks proper signage. As a result, the police and the prosecutorÂ’s office now consider the activity of religious groups lacking official registration as illegalÂ—a change from the recent past.
Targeting JehovahÂ’s Witnesses
The recent court proceedings against JehovahÂ’s Witnesses are a case in point. The campaign against JehovahÂ’s Witnesses began in 2009, during the still relatively liberal Dmitry MedvedevÂ’s premiership.
In a number of cases the courts, relying on poorly and unprofessionally conducted evaluations, concluded that JehovahÂ’s WitnessesÂ’ literature could be defined as Â“extremist,Â” referring as it did to the faith as the only true faith.
The adoption of the Yarovaya Law, therefore, opened the door to liquidating JehovahÂ’s Witnesses communities on the basis of their possessing Â“extremistÂ” literature.
On April 20, 2017, on the basis of the totality of these cases, the Russian Supreme Court ruled to liquidate the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses Management Center and all of the regional organizations. On July 17, 2017, a Supreme Court panel declined the JehovahÂ’s WitnessesÂ’ appeal, and the decision entered into force.
The decision means prohibition of activity for over 400 JehovahÂ’s Witnesses organizations all over Russia and criminal prosecutions of more than 170,000 believers if they continue to gather and read faith publications and the Bible in their specific translation. (There are more than 2,000 groups engaged in this activity in Russia.)
On top of that, because JehovahÂ’s Witnesses organizations are now judged Â“extremist,Â” the state is confiscating the professionÂ’s assets: 118 buildings in fifty-seven regions whose total value is 1.9 billion rubles.
For the West, it was specifically the prohibition against JehovahÂ’s Witnesses that came to symbolize pointless religious discrimination in Russia and a drastic reduction of religious freedoms in the country. The EUÂ’s Office of Foreign Policy, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Helsinki Committee have all broadly criticized the move and called on Russia to rescind it.
On top of that, JehovahÂ’s Witnesses has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights. It is clear in advance that the judgment wonÂ’t be in RussiaÂ’s favor. Taking into account the losses sustained by the faithful, the fine that the Strasbourg court will impose on Russia for the benefit of JehovahÂ’s Witnesses may reach astronomical heights.
The fact is, authoritiesÂ’ fight against nontraditional religions and religious denominations, which they peg as weird and scary sects, takes ugly, almost caricature forms.
Journalists, politicians, and Orthodox activists accuse those of other faiths of activities that constitute the core religious activities of all faiths, including the ROC itself: collecting donations, engaging in prayers with emotional overtones, and instructing followers, including children, in the tenets of the faith. In the context of the massive anti-West hysteria, xenophobia, and search for spies, all of these generally normal activities become a crime.
Most politicians and public figures, both conservative and liberal, readily jump on the bandwagon, portraying unfamiliar Â“sectsÂ” as threatening to the secular state and even citizensÂ’ psychological health. And the media ignore the persecution of those targeted under the Yarovaya Law.
There are now more than 100 court cases challenging the imposition of fines against religious communities and individual faithful, yet they are proceeding unnoticed by the general public.
Many assume that the suppression of religious dissent automatically benefits the ROC. But that is not necessarily the case. Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate are torn by irreconcilable contradictions.
On the one hand, there are those who would like to prohibit all sects legislatively and in that way eliminate all competitors. (They are particularly troubled by the evangelicals in the Far East, who at this point exceed the number of the Orthodox.)
On the other hand, many experts note that as soon as the word Â“sectÂ” is introduced into the law, half the Orthodox communities could be prohibited. Rank-and-file priests and believers have stated that the anti-missionary statutes of the Yarovaya Law could also be used to prevent Orthodox sermons and missions among youth.
In Russia, the gap is growing between the discriminated-against non-Orthodox Christians and the Orthodox, between the ROC bureaucracy and Orthodox activists of different persuasions, between the ROCÂ’s leadership and the pro-democracy-minded part of society, between the desires of law enforcement organs and the aims of the missionaries of different churches, including the ROC.
These conflicts are getting sharper because Russian society betrays more civility than the Russian state. Ordinary Russians are much more tolerant of those professing different beliefs than are the police and the prosecutorÂ’s office.
And the trend toward aligning the governmentÂ’s policy with the interests of the ROC produces a boomerang effect: civil society criticizes priests and bishops from the Orthodox standpoint, not from an atheistic one.
This is why the state has decided to safeguard itself against independent religious authority by heavily regulating it.
Roman LunkinÂ is Senior Researcher at Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, head of the Center for Religious Studies in the Institute of Europe (Russian Academy of Sciences), a member of Russian team of Keston Institute (Oxford, UK) project Â“Encyclopedia of religious life in Russia TodayÂ”, editor-in-chief of the web-portal Â“Religion and LawÂ” (www.sclj.ru), a public policy scholar in theÂ Woodrow Wilson CenterÂ and theÂ Kennan InstituteÂ (2011) and The Galina Starovoitova Fellowship scholar of the Kennan Institute (2017).
Special counsel Robert Mueller has launched a grand jury in the Russia investigation, Wall Street...By TheWorldNewsOrg
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By The Librarian
Our Brother Bill Underwood wrote an interesting article in the newspaper:
If you had to choose between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, which would you choose?Now, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t have to choose, I already have both.’ Are you sure?Last August, the central district court of Tver – the oblast or ‘state’ in which Moscow resides, banned a religious website, jw.org. They did this secretly, not notifying the owners of the website until the day before the ban was to go into effect – January 22, 2014. Had they prevailed, their rationale would have been to claim, as they have in the past, that the ‘free speech’ on jw.org defames other religions. Jw.org won that battle in the court of appeals, but the foundation on which the attack was based still exists.In 1999, Pakistan brought a resolution to the UN calling for a ban on “Defamation of Islam.” Cooler heads prevailed and, after much discussion, the Commission on Human Rights passed instead a resolution banning “Defamation of Religion.”Over the years from 2000 to 2009 the resolution was added to, revised, strengthened, and re-worded, but it was consistently approved. Aside from the lack of elections, U.N. politicians are no different from any other type. It would have been politically incorrect to be seen as anti-Muslim, especially after 9/11, so passing a bill to protect them from defamation seemed like a good idea. Typical was the vote of the UN General Assembly in December, 2007: 108 for, 51 against, and 25 abstaining.In 2009, however, Pakistan pushed again. Their resolution that year stated that they were concerned that defamation of religion led to “the creation of a kind of Islamophobia in which Muslims were typecast as terrorists." They weren't opposed to freedom of expression, oh no. They merely wanted to ban "expression that led to incitement.”They said the hatred of Muslims was just like the hatred of Jews that Hitler had whipped up in pre-WWII Germany, and look what that led to. Has there been a Muslim “krystallnacht” that I didn’t hear about...the night of August 9, 1938 when Germans destroyed over 7,000 Jewish businesses and over 1,000 synagogues? Even in the days after 9/11 when there was enormous outrage against Muslims, the level of hatred never approached that.Pakistan’s proposed resolution said basically that freedom of speech sometimes has to yield in order to maintain peace. Governments such as Russia, Pakistan, and most of the middle east are quick to use this argument: some opinion or expression of yours is causing distress to others; therefore, instead of telling the ‘others’ to grow up and get over it, they tell you to stop expressing your opinion.In any case, this was a step too far, and the pendulum began to swing back. Pakistan’s argument was recognized for what it was, and over 200 civic groups, some Muslim, some Christian, some atheist, demanded that the UN push back.Over the preceding 10 years, the UN had assigned a “special rapporteur” to analyze the subject of defamation of religion and report back. The rapporteur’s report in 2009 included this telling statement:
“[We] encourage a shift away from the sociological concept of the defamation of religions towards the legal norm of non-incitement to national, racial or religious hatred." Three months later when the United States and Egypt introduced a resolution which condemned "racial and religious stereotyping," EU representative Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the European Union "rejected and would continue to reject the concept of defamation of religions." Significantly, he said:
"Human rights laws did not and should not protect belief systems." And the representative from Chile pointed out that,
"The concept of the defamation of religion took them in an area that could lead to the actual prohibition of opinions." A month later, at a human rights meeting in Geneva, the United States representative admitted that defamation of religion is “a fundamentally flawed concept.” The rep from Sweden repeated what the Frenchman had said earlier: international human rights law protects individuals, not institutions or religions.By 2011 the backlash was complete. The UNHRC declared that "Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with” the charter of the Human Rights Committee.In the years since then, any proposal in the UN attempting to ban ‘defamation of religion’ has been shot down. Freedom of speech has trumped freedom of religion.Last week, far from worrying about ‘defamation,’ the UN came out loudly and publicly chastising the Vatican.
This has never happened before. Their purported justification for doing so went like this: The Vatican is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 34 of which reads in part:
“Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.” The UN accused the Vatican not merely of failing to protect children, but of actively endangering children by their policy of moving pederasts to new parishes where they could continue their predations, and of obfuscating all attempts by law enforcement agencies to find and prosecute the offenders.Now, here’s where it gets really interesting: The UN went further. They also condemned the Church’s doctrines regarding homosexuality, abortion, and ‘reproductive rights.’Chastising a signatory of a contract for failing to abide by the contract is one thing; Attempting to dictate to a church what their doctrines should be is something else. Where is the UN’s authority to do that? Yet they did it anyway.If, as the UN says, religions and belief systems are not protected by human rights - and I agree, they clearly are not – what prevents them from taking the next step: deciding that religions and belief systems are nothing more than ancient superstitions that are doing more harm than good, and that it’s time to ban them?It’s too bad the UN doesn’t have any teeth. Do they? We'll Investigate that next.
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Could someone explain to me what the fuss is all about with this Trump tweet of "COVFEFE"?
Thank you in advance.
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