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FBI questions Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, buyer of WTBTS properties

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From http://www.wnyc.org/story/trump-kushner-little-known-business-partner

Donald Trump and Jared Kushner Meet With Business Leaders, January22 2017

 
 

The Watchtower in Brooklyn Heights is one of the most noticeable edifices in New York. It’s a complex of buildings on a bluff above the East River, with a sign on top that flashes the time and temperature. It used to be the world headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But today, workers are preparing to give it a makeover. Like so much else in Brooklyn, the Watchtower has been sold to developers. It changed hands last August, shortly after Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for President.

The timing is relevant, because the buyer was Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. At $340 million, Kushner’s purchase of the Watchtower was one of the biggest real estate transactions in Brooklyn history.

Kushner didn’t buy the Watchtower alone. He had help from a company called CIM Group, a private equity firm based in Los Angeles. Over the years, documents show, CIM has done at least seven real estate deals that have benefited Trump and the people around him, including Kushner. Those deals included stabilizing the scandal-plagued Trump SoHo hotel, a key Manhattan holding for Trump and his children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr.

At the same time, records show, CIM Group, with approximately $19.7 billion under management, has pursued an array of lucrative government contracts, pension investments, lobbying interests, and a global infrastructure fund, all of whose fortunes could benefit from a Trump presidency.

While both Kushner and Trump have distanced themselves from their businesses, neither man has divested. Ethics experts including Kathleen Clark of the Washington University School of Law say that because of the two men’s ongoing business interests, the web of connections with CIM is troubling, even if no laws are broken.

“Trump gives new meaning to the idea what’s good for Donald Trump is apparently good for America,” Clark said. “He doesn’t actually seem to have a conception of the public interest outside of himself or his company or his family. That’s astounding.”

The White House declined to comment for this story, but in the past has defended Trump and Kushner’s business ties, saying they’ve been vetted and are in compliance with laws and regulations. CIM declined to comment on potential conflicts.

What is CIM?

CIM Group is certainly known at the top echelons of New York real estate. But the company itself — its character, its founders — seem to leave few traces beyond the properties in which it invests.

“CIM stands out as being very secretive,” said Konrad Putzier, a reporter for the Real Deal magazine and website who has covered the company for several years. “The fact that we don’t even know what CIM stands for says it all.”

A spokesman said in an email "CIM stands for CIM…that is all."

CIM was founded in Los Angeles in 1994 by Shaul Kuba and Avi Shemesh, two Israelis, and Richard Ressler, a former New Yorker with private equity in his family — his brother Tony Ressler co-founded industry giant Apollo Global Management with his brother-in-law, Leon Black.

CIM’s strategy is to get good returns for investors by investing in undervalued urban real estate. The firm quickly became known in California for courting influential politicians and donating tens of thousands of dollars to a series of statewide political action committees.

In 2004, the firm acquired a package of properties that included the Kodak Theatre (now the Dolby Theatre) in Hollywood, where the Academy Awards are held. They purchased the real estate at a deep discount, after the previous owner ran into financial difficulties.

A few years later, CIM persuaded the city of Los Angeles to arrange a $30 million HUD loan to reconfigure the theater to stage shows from Cirque du Soleil. The arrangement was supposed to last a decade and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic activity. Cirque’s show, however, fizzled after little more than a year.

CIM has plenty of friends in Los Angeles, but it also has plenty of critics. Dennis Zine, a retired police officer and former city councilman, helped the company win the right to develop the derelict Reseda Cinema, which appeared in the opening sequence of Boogie Nights. Zine said CIM promised big things, but then neglected the project, embarrassing him in the process.

“They burned their bridge with me,” Zine said.

CIM Moves into New York

Throughout the early 2000’s, CIM kept rolling up cash, in part by drawing investments from public pension funds like those in New York State  and California. In 2010, when CIM made its first foray into New York, the two states had more than a billion dollars with CIM. Neither pension fund would discuss the reasons for their investments.

It was a great time for investors with an appetite for risk and the potential big payouts. The financial crisis had wiped out big banks like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Those that were still around were barely lending, and many New York developers were struggling to pay their bills.

One of those was Harry Macklowe, who had acquired the site of the old Drake Hotel in Midtown Manhattan but lacked the money to build. Court records show Macklowe had tried to work out a deal to finance the project with Paul Manafort, who would later become Trump’s campaign manager, and a Ukrainian oligarch named Dmitry Firtash who had friendly relations with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. But those negotiations went nowhere.

Then, in January 2010, CIM partnered with Macklowe to erect what is now known as 432 Park Avenue, the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere.  One unit later sold for $95 million.

Later that year, CIM saw another opportunity: the Trump SoHo.

Though the condo-hotel project had been announced on “The Apprentice” finale in 2006, it was troubled from the start. Neighbors were immediately alarmed and upset with the idea of an outsized tower in the low-rise, chic district.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, recalled that the project was plagued with problems. He said there were “deadly construction accidents, bodies being exhumed on the site from a 19th century abolitionist church, falling objects from the building.”

Just after a gala ribbon-cutting for the Trump SoHo in the fall of 2007, the New York Times reported that one of principals in the building partnership, Felix Sater, had been convicted of assault for cutting a man with a broken margarita glass in a bar fight. He’d pled guilty to a stock fraud scheme. Another principal, Kazakh-born Tevfik Arif,was arrested on child-prostitution charges in Turkey. He was later acquitted.

It was, as Berman described it, “just an endless array of scandals and connections between the financiers and Russian and Central Asian mobs.”

Condo buyers sued Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr., saying they lied about how many units had been sold. The Manhattan District Attorney began investigating whether there had been criminal fraud. The lawsuit was eventually settled, with the plaintiffs required to sign non-disclosure agreements. With few witnesses, the D.A. dropped its probe.

By 2010, the partners behind Trump SoHo, were falling behind on their construction loans, and the lenders were threatening foreclosure.

That’s when CIM stepped in with a reported $85 million lifeline.

Important Partners

The same month CIM saved Trump SoHo, December 2010, CIM bailed out the project’s  co-developer, Tamir Sapir, on two other properties he owned: 11 Madison Avenue and the William Beaver House in Lower Manhattan. In all, CIM spent more than a half-billion dollars and gained a stake in some prime New York City properties.

“There was a short window of opportunity that they just seized,” said the Real Deal’s Putzier.

CIM also soon embarked on its first venture with Kushner, an office building at 200 Lafayette Street. The New York Post reported that when they sold the building in 2013 — after $30 million in renovations — the new buyer paid three times as much as Kushner and CIM had initially invested. CIM and Kushner also appeared to turn a quick profit on another jointly-purchased office building, 2 Rector Street.

“The connection with Kushner, it’s very fitting,” Putzier said. He noted that the Kushner Companies own 20,000 apartments and 13 million square feet of office and industrial space, “but...they’re a family company, so when they do a lot of deals they usually need a partner with a lot of equity to help them, and that has often been CIM Group.”

Kushner Companies agrees. In a statement, President Laurent Morali — who replaced Jared Kushner as the firm’s top executive after Kushner went to work in the White House — said “CIM is a strong longstanding partner with a developer’s DNA. They can work through complicated situations, are thorough and strategic, yet also make quick decisions.”  The feeling is mutual: CIM said in a statement that it has “strong, collaborative relationship with the team at Kushner, which has proven to be a valuable local partner.”

CIM also said it “has only one business relationship with a Trump-related company” — the Trump SoHo. The Trump Organization declined to comment for this story; it manages the property under the terms of a licensing agreement.

"The headline attraction of being somehow even tacitly aligned with the President of the United States could provide an incredible fundraising opportunity if they play it right, if they spin it the right way," said Serge Reda an adjunct professor at Fordham Business School. While the specifics of CIM's pitch to investors are unknown, Reda said it would be expected that a private equity firm would discuss its record.

When CIM started making deals with the Trumps and the Kushners, its executives had no idea their business partners would one day occupy the Oval Office. But now they do, and ethics experts say that puts CIM’s connections to the First Family and its significant government business dealings in a new light.

The full extent of CIM’s government ties is not known; much of its business is private, though some investments are publicly traded. In public disclosures, CIM said it received annualized rent of $37.7 million from the General Services Administration and other federal agencies. The company said that losing business from a downsized government "could have a material adverse effect."

CIM also depends on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which provides a path for foreign investors in American real estate to obtain U.S. green cards. According to the non-partisan research group Opensecrets.org, CIM spent $430,000 on federal lobbying in 2015, putting it among the top ten real estate firms lobbying on that issue. CIM listed preserving the EB-5 program as a major lobbying priority.

This is the same program that Jared Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer, one of his siblings who now runs the family business, was recently promoting in China.

There’s one more program CIM might benefit from, which could dwarf its profits from EB-5, rents or pensions. According to SEC disclosures, CIM has an infrastructure investment fund which it acknowledges is sensitive to “regulation” and “political events.”  If Trump gets an infrastructure bill passed, funds like this could earn many millions from projects like roads and tunnels.

Kushner is at the center of the administration’s building plans. In March, the White House announced that he would head an “Office of American Innovation” whose mandates include “creating transformational infrastructure projects.”

"Whether the parties are doing something untoward or not, the situation creates doubt, and it will follow the President throughout his term as long as he owns his business," said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW. "It’s a question we shouldn’t be having to ask.” His group is suing the president for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

Last December, as the president-elect was preparing to move to the White House, the firm did one more deal with Trump-world: CIM helped Kushner Companies buy 85 Jay Street, a parking lot in Brooklyn, for an eye-popping $345 million.  

Watch that space.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/trump-kushner-little-known-business-partner

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At about 4:50 pm, yesterday, WNYC introduced a story with a lead that included something like: 'Next, we'll discuss the purchase of the Watchtower buildings and Jared Kushner.'

At the time it was on the radio, Kushner had not yet been made a part of the FBI story that gained traction to be a bigger part of the political news just a couple hours later.

This story does not reflect negatively on the Watchtower, of course.

But there is no doubt that if this particularly venture fails as one of Kushner's bad deals (he's made other bad deals along with good ones) the Watchtower will continue to be mentioned. (A comedian, John Oliver, spoke of these bad deals while making fun of the Watchtower deal just a couple weeks ago. He used Kushner's quotes about what he wanted to do with the Watchtower buildings, but Oliver never mentioned the "Watchtower" itself.) What makes some people worry about Kushner's deal, is that Kushner buys the Watchtower's multi-block complex down by the Brooklyn Bridge for more than a third of a BILLION dollars. Then he gives the Watchtower Society even MORE, another third of a BILLION, for a single parking lot!

 

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6 hours ago, AllenSmith said:

Useless information

Very possibly useless, agreed. But it's also a heads up that the Watchtower could be in the news again in unexpected places. The video that John Oliver (HBO) used looked exactly like the Kushner video from jw.org.

Kushner is in the news as part of an investigation that will probably go a lot longer than planned. Trump's real estate deals will be a part of the mix due to the fact that his son has already bragged about how helpful Russia was in providing money. And now CIM, a secretive funding source, is linked to both Kushner, Trump, and some potentially shady deals that have combined into Kushner's use of foreign banks and investors: (Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, China) and which therefore continue to tie in Manifort and Flynn.

It doesn't matter whether Trump colluded with Russia anymore to keep this investigation going. (It would not be surprising if there never was any collusion with Russia, and if Russia never tried to "hack" the 2016 U.S. election.) The problem is that the Trump family has long been involved in shady money deals, and there are several stories like the one in the report that involve mafia, foreign money launderers, lying to investigators, etc, that go all the way back to the 1980's. Remember, too, that Trump's former transition advisor, Chris Christie, put Jared Kushner's father in prison. One of those old stories (2007-2010) was alluded to in the report:

7 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Condo buyers sued Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr., saying they lied about how many units had been sold. The Manhattan District Attorney began investigating whether there had been criminal fraud.

So, just a heads up. Political investigations can take on a life of their own.

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While I admit this glorifies myself, not God, it also fits perfectly. Therefore I can probably insert it without the Librarian, that old hen, going anal the way she does about hawking a book other than the dull works of pedantry she herself has placed on her library shelves.

From 'No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash:'

Here are the top news stories of 2016:

1.   Trump won.

2.   The other side blamed Putin, who

3.   Got mad.....

5.   Jehovah’s Witnesses (my people) moved their headquarters from Brooklyn Heights, where they had been for over 100 years, to way, way out in the sticks.

6.   Jerod Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, bought their old building. Video of him saying nice things about Witnesses appeared on jw.org. I had no idea who he was at the time, but when I found out, I worried anew. See - I caught a heavy dose of news each day while I was writing, and it irritated me, but I stuck with it – how else would I learn about the snowfall outside my window? Now, no one is capable of total non-bias, but they are capable of trying. I’m not used to the referee leaning on the scales – it never used to happen. But when I would grouse about the media, which I did a lot, some took it as support for Trump! I could picture the Watchtower sign going down, a Trump sign going up, and fellow Witnesses, who weren’t paying overclose attention saying: ‘how did Tom manage that?’.....

...I looked diligently for that interview with Jared Kushner who bought the Bethel building, and it is no longer there. It’s too bad because he says nice things about us, such as how a handshake deal means something with the Witnesses. I don’t know for certain why it was removed, and just possibly it hasn’t been, for it was never a headline – maybe it’s still buried as an addendum somewhere.  But the Watchtower will go to great lengths to establish that they are absolutely apolitical. In this era of rabid politics, one can depend upon some yoyo coming across the video of Kushner touring the building he would soon buy and take it as proof that Jehovah’s Witnesses had struck a deal to erect Theocratic Trump Tower.

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36 minutes ago, AllenSmith said:

That’s why we have ignorant governments, that think the Watchtower is now embodied with politics, and have foolish people like in Russia, that now call us extremist,

Tempting though it may be to say such things, in the light of what has happened, Russia would regard this statement itself as being 'political.' Seen through their eyes (which we should always try to do with anyone....okay, almost anyone) their intransigence is not totally baseless. 

Emily Baran's book details how all the typical religious reasons accounted for atheistic Soviet Russia persecuting Jehovah's Witnesses. But there were additional ones. The Communists regarded us also as a political movement disguised as a religion. If that seems paranoid, consider that such views were held during the cold war, the most paranoid of times, when anything from the West (like Brooklyn) was held in deep suspicion by the East, and vice versa. 

Early JW works occasionally picked up on Western terminology, such as 'iron curtain,' which the Soviets themselves would never use. Too, the Soviets got stuck being 'the king of the north,' who puts trust in 'the god of fortresses.' The book of the 1930's, 'Government,' lambasted Soviet communism as 'doomed to fail.' Of course, it said the same about democracy, for its point was the inferiority of all human government, not one in particular, but atheistic Russia could hardly be expected to pick up on the nuances, and they didn't.

These days the antagonism against us is mostly stirred up by the Church, as it always is. But the latent distrust of Witnesses from the political days has never vanished. Indeed, even during the 25 years of Jehovah's Witnesses operating as a 'legal' religion there, the government has never acknowledged the mass deportations of our brothers to Siberia in the 40's and 50's.

So while there are some here who 'spill' more than I would, even assuming I had stuff to spill, they are not the ones who will get us into hot water with Russia.

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35 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

...I looked diligently for that interview with Jared Kushner who bought the Bethel building, and it is no longer there.

Moved once and then removed. Thought they might put it on the Watchtower's real estate site, but it's not there either. I think this whole real estate site gets removed soon,  so it's the last time to play with function that lets you fly all over Brooklyn Heights and look at the 360-degree views.

https://watchtowerbrooklynrealestate.com/

You can even imagine what that parking lot will look like with a rust-colored translucent glass building on the lot.

 

 

 

 

imagine.png

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Because the Towers Hotel is the last piece of Brooklyn property the Watchtower is still in the process of selling, the site I mentioned above now bases its 360-degree views from just above that particular building. I like the view for the nostalgia and great memories, and since the view is from just above my old corner room on the tenth floor. The first picture below shows the window of my old corner apartment perfectly. And just think, it's probably true that someday, not a stone will be left upon a stone of any of these buildings.

To get to the pictures like the ones below, just to go the property link and click on the [View 360o Panoramic] button.

 

pic1.png

pic2.png

pic4.png

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25 minutes ago, AllenSmith said:

That’s where we defer with the kind of creed one represents and dismisses. Personally, my “statement” stands as “antipolitical”,

My only point was that it matters little how you or I intend something to be taken. What matters is how our audience does take it. It is a encouragement to use words seasoned with salt, that's all.

28 minutes ago, AllenSmith said:

If you want to take me on

Of course I do not. We are on the same team.

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1 hour ago, JW Insider said:

 I like the view for the nostalgia and great memories,

"My Bethel friend used to tell me how visiting speakers from the hills would rail on about the wickedness of the big city. It made him squirm - ‘New York City is our home,’ he’d say. He and his wife maneuvered forever to land a magnificent, if stamp-sized, apartment in the Sliver Building – housing is on a seniority basis. We joined them there for wine and cheese after a day sightseeing. Unwinding with a breathtaking view of Manhattan beneath them – ah, what a life! But they were soon transferred to Patterson where they would look out their window and see cows."

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      In the USA, with its tradition of free diversity of religious currents, any action against people who declare themselves to be preachers of evangelical teaching is taken as "persecution of Christians." Donald Trump, who is now turning Reagan-style emotions into grand policy, may use the conflicts in the religious sphere for pressure on Russia. The bad memory of the expression "evil empire" has returned, to the amazement of Russian Christians and in spite of the rhetoric of the religious renaissance.
       
      It may be a dangerous trend to roll out the reaction in the area of ensuring "spiritual security," if it is now that other religious currents, beside Jehovah's Witnesses, that have American origins and ecclesiastical centers in the West, fall under the blow of justice.
       
      In addition, there may be dangerous consequences in the propaganda campaign that is now developing around the fate of various persons suspected of committing recent terrorist acts in Russian cities. Media resources, several of which are located in Turkey, methodically speak of "persecution of Christians," while the main story is the dismissal from work and refusal to board on an airplane of Andrei Nikitin, who originally was suspected of committing a terrorist act in the St. Petersburg subway. The Muslim topic may be used for justifying a break of allied relations with Turkey, which now hang by a thread. (tr. by PDS, posted 7 April 2017)
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      WASHINGTON — From the grave of a suffragist in upstate New York to the 16th Street Baptist Churchin Birmingham, Ala., and the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, President-elect Donald Trump has quite a welcome committee: An estimated 1 million people plan to demonstrate in all 50 states and 32 countries.
      In the U.S. capital alone, the National Park Servicehas issued permits for 25 separate events the weekend of his Jan. 20 swearing-in as the nation's 45th president. It’s a number that’s “pretty well unprecedented” relative to past inaugurations, said Mike Litterst, a park service spokesman. “The biggest issue is merely finding space for all of these groups that allows for a meaningful demonstration,” he said.
      The main event is the Women’s March on Washington, which will draw at least 200,000 individuals with concerns about threats to women's rights, including abortion, as well as affordable health care and equal pay. It has inspired about 300 others of varying sizes across the country and on every continent, according to Yordanos Eyoel, spokeswoman for the network of sister marches.
      While there are a few groups — like Bikers for Trump — coming to show their support, the vast majority are protesters, according to a Park Service spreadsheet of permit applications. What’s unique is that “people who have never been politically active before are now mobilizing,” said Eyoel, a Boston-based organizer from Ethiopia who became a U.S. citizen last fall.
      Cities with the largest number of registrants include Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Boston, Denver, and Minneapolis. There are marches even in smaller and non-coastal cities including Topeka, Nashville, and Des Moines. “The message here is women’s rights are human rights, and we are not taking a single step back,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, among the partner groups.
      Others are more openly hostile to the incoming president.
      “We’re more than disappointed in Trump. We’re disgusted,” said Working Families Party senior advisor Valerie Ervin. “We learned about Donald Trump’s attitude toward women once and for all when he boasted about sexual assault,” she said. "Not just today but for years to come we will march and we will fight.”
      The hundreds of thousands of marchers descending on Washington belie their challenge in presenting a unified front: Trump was elected with plenty of support from women. “There are women who have always fought against and will continue to fight against systemic and patriarchal structures. This march, though, is taking place in a different context,” said Brandy Faulkner, a politics expert at Virginia Tech. “We have a president-elect who is on tape bragging about a sexual assault. Yet, roughly 54% of white women who voted supported him,” said Faulkner.
      Even so, O’Neill hopes Trump will take notice of their passion since “a lot more people may be coming to our march than are coming to his inauguration,” she said. According to the D.C. Department of Transportation, as of Friday there were 393 charter buses registered for parking on the day of Trump’s inauguration, compared to the 1,200 registered the day of the women’s march.

      Demonstrators carry signs during a "Love Rally" in New York on Nov. 11, 2016, to protest the election of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.  Bryan R. Smith, AFP/Getty Images
      The diverse groups participating — from Amnesty International to Planned Parenthood— see the marches as an orientation of sorts for a longer term resistance to the Trump agenda. Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore has called for “100 days of resistance” to Trump’s presidency that starts with the women’s march. The big test will be “whether the groups will pursue a collective policy agenda after the marching is done,” said Faulkner.
      Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said 99 protest groups are expected for the inauguration, including 63 that are expected to protest on Jan. 20.
      Forming alliances
      Organizers are hoping participants will form alliances and inspire women to get more involved in their local communities, and according to O'Neill, civil rights and women’s rights groups have already begun closer coordination in the wake of Trump’s Nov. 8 victory.
      A lot depends on people like Esther Lofgren, a 31-year-old Olympic gold medalist in rowing who hasn’t been an activist but now wants to advance women’s issues. “It seems like a very important time to speak up for human rights,” she said. “As an athlete, I know how important my body and what I choose to do with it is,” said Lofgren, who’ll march with her teammates as part of a group called Athlete Ally and who has just begun to consider which specific causes to adopt.
      Among the groups that have sprouted in the aftermath of the election is Lawyers for Good Government, a new national organization of more than 120,000 lawyers and activists offering pro-bono work to defend civil and human rights that says it wants “to harness, empower and coordinate the unprecedented political energy that has emerged” since Trump’s election. A day after the march, EMILY’s List will hold a candidate training for about 500 women interested in running for office. The group will "undertake a major effort to recruit, train, and elect more pro-choice Democratic women to office nationwide,” it said in a statement. Public Citizen and others will host a “teach-in” to inform new activists how to “plug into grassroots campaigns and acquire skills to take home to their communities.”
      Whenever there are large protests there’s potential for clashes. That's more likely to happen on inauguration day than it is during the women's march. "There’s a lot of baby strollers at women’s marches. It’s not a raucous march," said O'Neill.
      'A wall of meat'
      During the inauguration, a group called #DisruptJ20 is vowing a “festival of resistance” to include a march and rallies at all 12 Secret Service security checkpoints and “colorful disruptions” along the inaugural parade route to protest “racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ, antiwar, climate” and other concerns. The group spent the weekend of Jan. 14 in a series of trainings and workshops. It may also attempt to disrupt inaugural balls attended by Trump supporters, including the “Deploraball.”
      The main pro-Trump group organizing around the inauguration is Bikers for Trump, a motorcycle group led by a South Carolina chainsaw artist who mowed the lawn around the Lincoln Memorial during the 2013 government shutdown. On Thursday, the group posted on Twitter that Trump is “instructing his staff to give us the resources to put on the best rally possible.” Still, on Friday its founder, Chris Cox, told Fox Business Network “the bikers are certainly used to being outnumbered and we are prepared to form a wall of meat.”
      There are so many groups planning to storm the streets of Washington that Mic created a realtime map for protesters and watchers called “Storm the Swamp” to help keep track of the planned chaos. Others include an estimated 500 who will hold a peaceful candlelight vigil commemorating women who stood vigil in front of the White House from 1913 to 1917 to advocate for suffrage during which the Seneca Falls Declaration will be read.
      Finally, a pro-marijuana legalization group plans to hand out a few thousand free joints to raise awareness about the benefits of marijuana legalization. “At 4 minutes and 20 seconds into President Trump’s speech we’ll light up! (unless President Trump comes out now in support of full cannabis legalization in all 50 states and DC!)” DCMJ says on its homepage.
      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/16/trumps-welcome-committee-gush-protesters/96574160/
    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      A man climbing Trump Tower managed to make it up 21 floors before he was grabbed by the NYPD. In a cryptic video posted to YouTube, he claimed that he did so to get Donald Trump’s attention and urged viewers to vote for Trump, as well as make it go viral. 
       
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    • Just as the WT knows how to work the global market by investing their money in hedge funds, they know how to manipulate a developing mind with persuasion techniques.  I perceive the downplay of higher education as a safeguard from losing members.  While the organization warns these young ones of Satan’s worldly traps when pursuing higher education, in reality it appears to me that it’s all about keeping JWs captive to the organization’s “empty philosophy”.  Col 2:8  Knowing how the young mind develops sheds light on the org's use of persistent warnings not to pursue higher education.  “Developmental Tasks and Attributes of Late Adolescence/Young Adulthood (Ages 18-24 years) http://www.amchp.org/programsandtopics/AdolescentHealth/projects/Documents/SAHRC AYADevelopment LateAdolescentYoungAdulthood.pdf This is a time of life when very little is normative. It is a period of frequent change and exploration that covers many aspects of their life: home, family, work, school, resources, and role. Develop and apply abstract thinking skills Adolescents experience significant changes in their capacity to think. In changing from concrete to abstract thought they are increasingly able to understand and grapple with abstract ideas, think about possibilities, think ahead, think about thinking, and “put themselves in another person’s shoes.” In general, this changes their ability to think about themselves, others and the world around them. This is a gradual process that spans adolescence and young adulthood. For example, early in the process youth are limited in their ability to hold more than one point of view – understanding something from one perspective but not another. ·        Capacity for abstract thought becomes established; can think abstractly and hypothetically; can discern the underlying principles and apply them to new situations; and can think about the future, considering many possibilities and logical outcomes of possible events. ·       Able to hold and manipulate clusters of abstract ideas and create systems for organizing abstract thoughts. ·       Greater ability to consider different points of view at the same time can result in increased empathy and concern for others, and new interest in societal issues for many. It also allows youth to better value the diversity of people (and their perspectives) and appreciate that there may be many right answers to a problem. Adopt A Personal Value System Adolescents develop a more complex understanding of moral behavior and underlying principles of justice. They question and assess beliefs from childhood and restructure these beliefs into a personal ideology (e.g. more personally meaningful values, religious views, and belief systems to guide decisions and behavior). ·        Decisions and values are less influenced by peers. ·       Able to see multiple viewpoints, value the diversity of people and perspectives and appreciate that there can be many right answers to a problem. ·        Identify values and viewpoints that work for oneself while respecting viewpoints/values of others I would imagine there is a high risk of young JWs entering a college or university after high school, with the same age group, and going through the same mental development stages ...leaving the Watchtower altogether.  
    • John 17:14-16 The comments in the study Bible on John 17:15 say: "Jehovah...could even separate his people physically from the rest of the world and place them in a a safe and peaceful environment. However, regarding his disciples, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father: "I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one." Jehovah has chosen not to take us "out of the world." Rather, it is his will that we live among the general population of this world in order to proclaim his message of hope and comfort to others. (Rom. 10:13-15) But, as Jesus implied in his prayer, by living in this world, we are exposed to "the wicked one." Disobedient mankind and wicked spirit forces cause much pain and anguish, and Christians are not immune to distress." 1 Peter 5:9 So while we recognize we have to live in a world under Satan's control, it doesn't mean we should go out of our way to expose ourselves to potentially dangerous influences and bad association. There are of course necessary things we must do to survive and provide for our families - such as employment, which as you correctly pointed out, can mean rubbing shoulders with worldly people and attitudes whatever level of education we choose. But even on that, we are selective so as to minimize our exposure to potentially harmful influences. It may include being selective as to what type of work we are willing to accept, or whom we work with/for. Many caring parents know they can't completely eliminate bad influences at school for instance (since kids have to have some type of schooling and it is beneficial), but they may choose to be selective as to whom they allow their kids to spend their extra time with. So living in the world, we recognize there are certain things we must do whether we like it or not. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't exercise caution and be selective as to what we choose to involve ourselves in. I could rationalize that I need a job to support myself and my family - a legitimate and necessary need,  but would I choose to work for the mafia to do so? No, I would be selective and cautious.  I agree with you. I often have the same problem on both phone and tablet. Fortunately I've recently discovered that we can edit and make corrections. I wish I had known that earlier before "auto-correct" ran roughshod over my posts.  As for my level of education, I provide as little information as possible to identify me. As a "whistleblower" on some things, there would be an opportunity for "blowback" from men in authority who have something to hide. I don't even post what country I'm from. So when I have written that at times there are men in authority who act as wickedly as people in the world and hide behind their authority, I know exactly what I'm talking about. That's why I don't buy into the "Jesus is in full control of everything..." stuff, because I know some of the stuff that goes on is about as unChristlike as you can get. He doesn't cause/control it just because he allows it for a time. I also question some of the decisions men (not Jesus) have made when I am in possession of all the facts - especially when removal or disfellowshipping has as it's objective to silence whistleblowers who expose their corruption. I have never been DF'd, but I know if they thought I was spilling the beens on them, that's exactly what would happen. So I don't mention any names either that would tip them off. Just letting people know that you can still maintain your faith and relationship with God despite the evil that (some) men do - and get away with for now.  Sorry if this rant is off topic.
    • Perhaps it can be as you said. And perhaps this can be true with many other similar "stories".   What I see as important in this "story", is fine moral message and inspirational, motivating injection that in this materialistic and superficial everyday life offers a spiritual upgrade.... said with different order of words. 
    • Some do. Like the Rainbow Mountains, and some of the Caucasus (Svaneti) look more like rocky Alps. I'd love to see those mountains, and I planned to visit Georgia within two or three years if possible. I've never been to Georgia, the closest so far has been to northern Turkey (Ankara, Zonguldak, Samsun). If Jehovah did not intervene, and nature was left to itself, moving the tectonic plates would have caused thousands of violent aftershocks and tsunamis for quite some time after the floodwaters settled. Even on water, during the Flood, the Ark would have to be given divine protection. Settling on a high mountain might protect from tsunamis but not the quakes. I'd like to look up some info on these. Where should I start?
    • The story has also been told that it was a "black boy" who offered him the newspaper for free: https://mylife-chapter.blogspot.com/2017/08/who-is-richer-than-bill-gates.html When my wife was a school principal, teachers were always putting up posters about, for example, the "Ten Things Bill Gates Says about School" or "What Bill Gates Said Were the Most Important Things in Life" etc. He may have told a story like this, but usually people create such stories so that their own moral lesson comes across with more authority.  
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