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JW USA: Jehovah’s Witnesses and legal warfare: What it looks like in the trenches

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Yesterday we listened in on Lloyd Evans, Mark O’Donnell and the Electronic Frontier Foundation talking about Watch Tower’s attempt to “dox” Darkspilver, who has posted critical information about the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization at Reddit.

We’ve seen Witnesses say in our comments that Watch Tower should have the right to defend its copyrights, and that ex-JWs who violate those copyrights deserve to be taken to court.

But taking a look at the actual documents filed in Darkspilver’s case reveals how much Watch Tower is on a mission to intimidate critics rather than defend its proprietary material.

We’re going to show you the full page from that motion which shows what Darkspilver is accused by Watch Tower of posting at Reddit. (Please note, Watch Tower lawyers, this is a full page, in context, of a privileged court document.)

As you can see, Darkspilver is accused of posting a short amount of text under the headline “What Gift Can We Give to Jehovah?” on the back of one of Watch Tower’s publications eliciting donations. He believed it represented a sudden shift in the way JW.org asked for money, and, as EFF explained, it generated considerable debate online.

Now, if Watch Tower believed their copyright on this small amount of text was being violated, they could make a takedown request with Reddit. Instead, the organization believes that this is such a violation of its rights, it has subpoenaed Darkspilver and Reddit in order to get his identifying information.

“This case is not about suppressing Darkspilver’s public criticism. He can say whatever he desires. However, he cannot infringe Watch Tower’s intellectual property in the process,” the Watch Tower’s attorneys wrote in a response to the EFF’s motion to quash.

Really? Watch Tower is going to this effort and expense because it’s so damaged by that small amount of text on the back of a magazine being put online, or is it what the text said that really matters, that Watch Tower was stung by the revelation that it was more openly soliciting donations online.

Both documents, EFF’s motion to quash, and Watch Tower’s response, are really interesting documents. Give them a look yourself and let us know what you think about the arguments in each of them.

    Hello guest!

406231385-Darkspilver-Watchtower-Quash-Response.pdf

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      I made a donation on line at JW.ORG. Why are they using a Switzerland banking address?
    • By Witness
      Someone posted a question about the longevity of Watchtower given the events of the past few years. The following is just my opinion, and my observations from the past year:
      Two years ago, Watchtower implemented a 5-year cost reduction program in which they asked all branches to cut costs by a minimum of 10%, up to 25% as a preferred number.
      In the spring of 2015, Stephen Lett asked for donations after stating that WT had more money going out than coming in. 6 months later in a private seminar which I have watched, Watchtower officials announced that Lett's plea resulted in 30 million extra dollars in donations, but this would not stem their financial issues and they would continue with the layoffs and cutbacks.
      As you know, the cutbacks were significant. Aside from the Bethel layoffs, all non-essential branch projects were either cancelled or put on hold. Watchtower asked branches to sell as much equipment as the could liquidate - including heavy equipment, printers, etc. All monies were directed at finishing Warwick, then selling off their cranes and millions of dollars worth of vehicles and other high priced tools, right down to 5 dollar screwdrivers.
      Meanwhile, Watchtower purchased four $8,000.00 scanners and scanned all documents located in Brooklyn, only keeping the hard copies they were required to keep by law.
      Watchtower was spending tens of thousands per year to New York City just to maintain their tunnel and airbridge spaces between buildings. This was not a tax, it was a fee paid because New York owns the underground and the airspace. Moving to Warwick eliminated these costly payments.
      Branches around the world are struggling to keep up with their own accounting procedures. In South Africa, over 1400 congregations struggle to file their government mandated tax returns required of each congregation. Most congregations have not filed returns for 2-4 years, primarily because local elders do not understand how to file returns, and are quite frankly not interested in the business aspect of this religion. These elders are being retrained, and have been called disobedient by the branch.
      Watchtower has been spinning the cutbacks as simplification, and have coerced dozens of those who lost their full-time jobs to give testimonials about how happy they were to accept their new assignment in the field. (Translation - they are on their own. no health care, no jobs, no training. They are told to just go and pioneer.)
      In Namibia, the government has denied Watchtower's plea to remove itself from employer status, since this forces Watchtower to pay social security benefits to all full-time workers - such as Bethelites. This has happened in outer countries as well. Watchtower must pay these benefits. This raises the issue of whether any benefits will ever be paid to other full-time JWs across the globe, who deserve them equally.
      Watchtower is watching its assets in Russia vanish while paying settlements in the US and elsewhere for child abuse mishandling and other legal cases. Watchtower has taken over responsibility for all kingdom halls worldwide, but many sit in disrepair awaiting renovations in excess of what congregations can afford.
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      Beginning in 2018, Watchtower will implement a program by which every single JW will be assigned a database number and their information will be in Watchtower's global database. Currently, in the US, Watchtower only has 40% of their publishers registered in the JW database system. All Jehovah's Witnesses will be given a number and tracked unless we can stop this invasion of privacy here in the US and around the world.
      Watchtower is very upset and concerned about all the leaks coming from their headquarters. They use Office 365 now and embed data into PDF files in an attempt to track where the leaks are coming from. They have been issuing subpoenas from the Southern District of New York to various internet providers in the US, along with Google, inc. in an attempt to track down the source of the leaks and identify the individuals involved in leaking their literature and videos. Watchtower demands their freedom of speech but attempts to deny it to those sharing their publicly available materials, which by the way are not being distributed for monetary gain.
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      The cart-witnessing program is finally beginning to backfire. Witnesses are being approached and asked hard-hitting questions about child abuse, shunning, and other matters. When you stand in the public square and represent a religion, it's just a matter of time before the public connects the dots, and the carts are sent to the junkyard, one at a time.
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      Yes, money is a problem for Watchtower. Yet Governing Body members like Samuel Herd have publicly stated how beautiful their new surroundings are at Bethel - how they hear the birds chirping as they observe the serene landscape of upstate New York.
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      There are millions trapped inside a mental prison, but we can help them. Let's make it happen.
      John Redwood
       
       “Then I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming from the dragon’s mouth, from the beast’s mouth,”
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    • By Srecko Sostar
      What should a member of the JW community do?

      JW TV and publications does not provide balanced news regarding events related to the WT organization and the legal aspects involved, such as court cases concerning pedophilia and failure to report such events to secular institutions.

      It also forbids JW members to contact the former JW, even to say simple "hello" on street or wherever. Even when they (GB of WTJWORG) allowing a JW member to talk to their excluded family member who living in the same family (house, under same roof - literally, because if exJW not live in same family place, instructions are that JW have to cut all possible contacts), WT prohibits them from discussing so-called "spiritual things." Because they consider that the former JW could be repulsive and "fool", spoil the true JW witness with "inaccurate proofs" and "apostate teachings".

      What does the magazine "Awake" say about whether to listen and to be familiar with the opposing views? Here is what WT consider as "positive". It is in context of "evolution issue" but we can see "the principle", don't we? Would you, do you use the same principle and be careful and wary about WT claims how "all is apostates lies"?! Quotes are as following;
       
      Examine the Evidence
      IF YOU were on trial in a court of law, would it be fair if only your opponent was allowed to present evidence? No, you would surely want the court to hear your side of the matter.
      Reasonable persons agree that the only fair method is to examine the evidence on both sides, both for and against a disputed theory. That is how one arrives at the truth.
      But, as physicist L. Dolphin wrote to the San Francisco Chronicle: “It is intellectually dishonest to fail to answer some of these problem areas in textbooks, and to exclude other scientifically based models on the grounds that they are merely fundamentalistic religious beliefs.”
      Truly it is “intellectually dishonest” not to want any opposing views heard on such a disputed matter. It has to make reasonable persons ask, Why?
      Reasonable persons also consider it unworthy of serious scholarship to try to stamp out criticism of evolution by dictatorial methods, by intimidation, or by attitudes such as that of prominent American scientist Isaac Asimov, who said that questioning the theory of evolution is like “attacking the theory of gravity.” He added: “It’s a fact, not speculation.” But gravity can be demonstrated, tested, and proved in the laboratory and elsewhere. Evolution cannot, which is why so many are challenging it. No one is challenging the idea of gravity.
      Trying to insult the intelligence of critics of evolution to silence them is especially “intellectually dishonest” when many evolutionists themselves admit that the theory has not been proved.
      No, it will no longer do to try to browbeat or insult persons who challenge evolution, or to imply that they are intellectually deficient. To get to the heart of the matter, we have to put the “guessing” aside and honestly analyze the facts that are available.
      What happens when we do examine the facts, without the “guessing”?
       
      end of quotes from  Hello guest! Please register or sign in (it's free) to view the hidden content.     Awake 22 10 1973, page 7.
      How do you feel about this? "Old truth" but truth :))))
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      On Friday, May 25, 20/20 will do "something special" for longtime co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas.
      You can call it a going-away party (10/9c, ABC). After 22 years at ABC (14 with the newsmagazine), the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning veteran journalist heads to A&E, where she’ll work under their new primetime banner, A&E Investigates.
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      What have you learned about these insular communities?
      That many of those involved are bright, well-meaning and incredibly altruistic. Some of these groups exist alongside modern society, with no one noticing. For instance, we profile the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has a history of protecting alleged child molesters because they don’t believe in going to the police.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      It isn’t easy these days being Mike Pence’s namesake. Mistaken identities are not unusual for people with common first and last names, but if you’ve got the same name as a lawmaker who has earned a lot of controversy for his beliefs and background, things can get quite difficult indeed. Just ask the “other” Mike Pence, who shares a name with the U.S. Vice President-elect, but is a completely different person in every known way.
      A report from the Telegraph looked at the story of software developer Pence, whose Twitter account, @mikepence, has supposedly received a barrage of tweets meant for Donald Trump’s controversial running mate. Ironically, this Mike Pence doesn’t appear to be very fond of his more famous namesake, recently quoting one of the more memorable lines from the 1999 comedy Office Space. That line was delivered by a character named Michael Bolton, who shared a name with the much-maligned real-life singer.
      Apart from tweeting that Office Space meme last night, software engineer Mike Pence poked more fun at his namesake by listing himself on his Twitter profile as “not a Christo-fascist politician.”
      The Telegraph didn’t go into depth into the nature of the tweets unintentionally sent to the 49-year-old software developer but meant for the vice president-elect, but he did speak to NYMag‘s Brian Feldman in July, well before the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, and soon after Donald Trump named Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate.
      At that time, he used an American flag as his Twitter avatar, possibly confusing users, and he did get some cringe-worthy “hate-tweets from the left,” but he nonetheless decided to add some levity to the situation.
      “I can’t begin to catch up with the mentions of @mikepence on Twitter. On the one hand, it has been hugely entertaining, since I get to troll conservatives a bit by pretending to be in a love affair with @realDonaldTrump using my account. On the other hand, any hope I had of actually using Twitter to have conversations with the many amazing software engineers that I know is pretty much on hold until the governor is (hopefully) no longer the talk of the moment.”
      While Mike Pence the Vice President-elect is a hardcore conservative Christian with a history of anti-LGBT-related controversies, Mike Pence the software developer appears to be the exact opposite. He described himself to NYMag as a “liberal, atheist, ex-Jehovah’s Witness computer programmer,” and “not a bigoted shill for the Republican party.”
      He did, however, admit to growing up homophobic and conservative due to his Jehovah’s Witnesses upbringing, which he has since renounced.
      “I deeply regret how I behaved toward gay people and how I shunned those who grew to believe differently than me. That is not love, and that is not the kind of person I want to be, nor is it the kind of thinking I want to see in elected officials.”
      Meanwhile, the unintentionally-notorious Twitter user @mikepence has gotten his share of support from people who would rather have him in power than the Indiana Governor/Vice President-elect. Users have tweeted calls for the “other” Mike Pence to be Vice President instead, while he’s also gotten sympathetic tweets from other people with far more popular namesakes, such as a user named Chris Brown (like the R&B singer), and even one who is apparently named Michael Bolton.
      Still, the confusion is quite understandable, due to the timing of the creation of both Mike Pences’ respective Twitter accounts. According to Mashable, the “not-famous” Pence from Florida opened his account in April, 2007, while the Vice President-elect had opened his two accounts in August, 2008, and February, 2009.
      For many people, it wouldn’t be fun to be mistaken with someone who’s very much in the public eye. But for Florida resident Mike Pence, the whole namesake thing doesn’t appear to have affected him too much, even if he did admit to facing some challenges.


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