December 12, 2018

NATURE: Luxury French Fashion Brand Chanel Becomes the Latest in Luxury Fashion to Ban Fur and First To Ban Exotic Animal Skins

Fortune Magazine
written by Grace Dobush
Wednesday December 5, 2018

Famed fashion house Chanel is no longer using “exotic skins” in it’s “future creations”. The list includes crocodile, lizard, snake, and stingray as well as fur.

“The future of high-end products will come from the know-how of what our atelier is able to do,” Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel SAS, told WWD. Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld said he couldn’t remember the last time he used fur at Chanel.

Pavlovsky said the decision was made because it was becoming increasingly difficult for Chanel to source skins that met the house’s quality and ethical standards. From now on it will focus its research and development on textiles and leathers generated by agri-food industries.

Burberry, Gucci, Armani, and Versace have also previously pledged to go fur-free, but Chanel is the largest luxury fashion house to ban exotic skins as well, according to animal rights organization PETA.

Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement: “The champagne corks are popping at PETA, thanks to Chanel’s announcement that it’s kicking fur and exotic skins — including crocodile, lizard, and snakeskin — to the curb. For decades, PETA has called on the brand to opt for luxury, cruelty-free fashion that no animal had to suffer and die for, and now it’s time for other companies, like Louis Vuitton, to follow the lead of the iconic double Cs and do the same.”

Diane von Furstenberg stopped using exotic skins this fall as well, but it’s been a difficult habit to quit. Handbags and accessories made from exotic skins are big sources of income for luxury fashion brands, with limited edition Hermes bags selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rather than cutting out exotic skins, many fashion houses focused on ethical sourcing, and some even run their own farms, BOF reports.

Fashion houses’ changes of heart might be partly attributed to activists’ persistence, but consumers’ tastes have also changed. Young fashionistas care more about supply chain ethics than previous generations and are more likely to shell out for an exclusive pair of sneakers than a handbag their grandmother might have carried. The Wall Street Journal reported French imports of reptile skins sank more than 30% between 2015 and 2018.
Yahoo News
written by Suyin Haynes, Time
Tuesday December 4, 2018

Luxury French fashion brand Chanel has announced that fur and exotic skins will no longer be used in their collections, making it the latest high-end label to shun animal pelts in its designs.

Joining other fashion houses such as Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors, Chanel will no longer use animal fur or skins such as crocodile, lizard, snake and stingray in the production of their garments and accessories. The announcement was made on the eve of Chanel’s pre-fall Metiers d’Art fashion show on Tuesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

A spokeswoman for the brand told CNN that the decision was taken partly because “it is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins that match our ethical standards,” adding that the ban will provide “an opportunity to create a new generation of high-end products.”

Longtime creative director Karl Lagerfeld told WWD that “We did it because it’s in the air, but it’s not an air people imposed to us. It’s a free choice.” The move marks a wider shift in the fashion industry away from fur in particular and towards synthetic versions. Some analysts pointed to changing trends among consumers with a greater awareness of ethical and environmental factors as a potential reason for the ban.

The announcement has been welcomed by animal rights groups as a campaign victory. A statement from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that “now it’s time for other companies, like Louis Vuitton, to follow the lead of the iconic double C’s and do the same.”

USA: Hulu Inks Anime Deal with Sony's Funimation Ink. Will Now Have Exclusive U.S. Streaming Rights To Hit Japanese Anime Series.

The Hollywood Reporter
Hulu Inks Anime Deal with Sony's Funimation Ink
written by Patrick Brzeski
Wednesday December 5, 2018

The partnership will give Hulu exclusive U.S. streaming rights to hit Japanese anime series like 'Tokyo Ghoul,' 'Attack on Titan' and 'My Hero Academia.'

U.S.-based fans of Japanese anime will soon find a trove of their favorite content popping up on Hulu.

The streaming service has inked a multi-year partnership and output deal with anime specialist Funimation, the subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television.

Hulu described the pact as its "largest agreement for anime programming to date," significantly expanding its collection of subtitled and dubbed titles, including exclusive digital rights to international hits like My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul.

The deal also grants Hulu a first look at on-demand U.S. streaming rights to future anime series released by Funimation beginning in 2019. These future titles will premiere day-and-date on Hulu and Funimation with the worldwide premieres in Japan.

"With this new deal, we are doubling-down on our investment to continue growing our world-class anime offering with even more shows that we know our viewers love to watch," said Lisa Holme, Hulu's vp content acquisition.

Added Gen Fukunaga, president and CEO at Funimation: "It will fuel the acquisition of new titles and provide both Funimation and Hulu subscribers with access to the very best in anime that Japan has to offer."

Funimation, which specializes in releasing Japanese anime in the U.S. theatrically and online, already boasts an expansive catalog of titles in the genre, including more than 600 shows. The company has released hit anime films like Your Name (2017) in U.S. cinemas, and also operates the subscription streaming service FunimationNOW, which is available via Sony's PlayStation Store, iTunes Store, Google Play, Amazon Apps, Xbox Game Store and mobile devices. Funimation also sells merchandise and DVDs online.

In 2017, Sony Pictures Television Networks unveiled a deal to buy a 95 percent stake in Funimation for $143 million, valuing the company at approximately $150 million.

Hulu has made anime an area of focus for its library, and already offers well-known favorites in the genre, including Naruto Shippuden, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, One-Punch Man, Sailor Moon and Sword Art Online, as well as various exclusive simulcasts and dubbed episodes.

UAE: UAE Seeks Rich, Educated Foreigners With Long-Term Visa Scheme.

The Daily Star, Lebanon
written by Reuters staff
Sunday November 25, 2018

DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates will offer long-term visas to rich property investors, senior scientists and entrepreneurs in an effort to support its economy and real estate market, which have been hurt by low oil prices.

Until now, visas for foreigners to live in the Arab world's second biggest economy have generally been valid for only a few years, and have depended on the main visa holder in each family remaining employed. The government said in May it planned to ease that policy.

Detailed rules approved by the cabinet Saturday offer five-year residency to owners of UAE real estate worth at least 5 million dirhams ($1.4 million), as long as ownership is not based on loans, state news agency WAM reported.

Renewable 10-year visas will be provided to foreigners with investments in the UAE of at least 10 million dirhams, if non-real estate assets account for at least 60 percent of the total. Investors can bring spouses and children into the country.

Other rules offer five-year visas to entrepreneurs and 10-year visas for scientists and researchers with top qualifications. Outstanding students can stay for five years.

The UAE is currently locked in a diplomatic dispute with Britain after a U.K. academic was jailed for life on spying charges.

Share prices of UAE property firms, beaten down by slumping real estate prices, moved little Sunday in response to the new visa rules. Analysts said they were probably not enough on their own to change investment or employment trends.

Some parts of the economy that rely on white-collar professionals – a class of people who might buy homes in the UAE – are seeing stagnant or even falling employment.

Jean-Paul Pigat, head of research at Lighthouse Research in Dubai, said the new visas were a step in the right direction but: "In order to have a large impact on domestic demand and sectors such as real estate, the policies might need to be broadened so that larger numbers of residents can qualify."

Also, the visas do not provide a path to UAE citizenship, which would be a sensitive political issue in a country where well over two-thirds of the roughly 9.4 million residents are believed to be foreign.

Nishit Lakhotia, head of research at financial company SICO in Bahrain, said the new visa system was positive but unlikely to have any immediate material impact.

"There are much less stringent investment requirements in some of Eastern European countries or even Turkey to get citizenship, not just residency permits," he said.

In another step to aid the real estate market, the UAE government approved in September a law allowing expatriates to stay in the country after retirement if they own a property valued at about $545,000.

USA: General Motors (GM) Will Kill Off These 6 Chevy, Buick, And Cadillac Sedans When It Closes Select Factories In 2019. GM Closing All Operations In Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

Business Insider
written by Benjamin Zhang
Tuesday November 27, 2018

General Motors announced a major shift in its business strategy on Monday that will see the automaker shift its focus toward trucks, SUVs, and electric vehicles.

The announcement also signals a shift away from the traditional sedan, which has been losing sales to crossovers and SUVs for much of the past decade.

As a result, the company said it would "unallocate" production at three assembly plants that build sedans: Oshawa Assembly in Canada, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Michigan, and Lordstown Assembly in Ohio.

To unallocate production simply means GM won't assign any models to be produced at these facilities beyond 2019. According to Matthew DeBord, Business Insider's senior transportation correspondent, GM can't officially close these plants under its current UAW contract, set to be renegotiated in 2019.

GM said it would also idle two factories in Maryland and Michigan that supply transmissions to those three assembly plants.

The company also announced it would reduce its salaried and salaried contract employees by 15%, including a 25% reduction in the number of executives. That equates to more than 14,000 jobs.

GM says the new strategy will save the company $6 billion.

As for the cars made at the soon-to-be-idled plants, GM has confirmed that they too will get the ax.

Based on the numbers, the automaker's move away from sedans makes sense. Through the first three quarters of this year, GM's US sales were down 1.2%, though its sedans performed, on the whole, substantially worse.

For example, US sales of the Lordstown-produced Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan were down 26.5% from the same period last year. The Hamtramck-made Chevrolet Volt range-extended EV saw sales fall by 13.7%, while sales of the full-size Chevy Impala, made at Oshawa and Hamtramck, were down 13.4%.

Hamtramck's Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac CT6 saw sales fall by 14.2% and 10.6%. The only model set to get the ax with positive sales growth is Oshawa's Cadillac XTS, which was up 15.9%.

While sales have slipped, many of GM's sedans have earned critical acclaim. For example, the current-generation full-size Impala has long been praised for its comfort and refinement and has frequently appeared on Consumer Reports' "Top Picks" list.

"The Impala continues to be a gem among large cars, providing a driving experience that's more akin to a luxury car," the publication said of the Chevy earlier this year.

The Cadillac CT6 represents a high point of American luxury-car making.

"The Cadillac's superb amalgamation of luxury and performance makes the CT6 a true standout in the luxury market," Business Insider said in a 2017 comparison with the Lincoln Continental.

And then there's the Chevrolet Volt. The range-extended EV helped push GM toward the forefront of production electric-propulsion technology when it debuted in 2011. The current-generation Volt debuted in 2016 with expanded capabilities.

Here's a closer look at the six sedans GM is set to discontinue:

1. Chevrolet Cruze: Production ends March 1. The company sold 109,662 in the US through September.

2. Chevrolet Volt: Production ends March 1. The company sold 13,243 in the US through September.

3. Buick LaCrosse: Production ends March 1. The company sold 13,409 through September.

4. Chevrolet Impala: Production ends June 1. The company sold 43,952 through September.

5. Cadillac CT6: Production ends June 1. The company sold 7,270 through September.

6. Cadillac XTS: Production ends Q4 2019. The company sold 12,664 through September.
CTV News, Canada
written by Staff
Sunday November 25, 2018

Numerous sources have told CTV Toronto that General Motors is planning to close all operations in Oshawa, Ont., affecting thousands of high-paying jobs.

The announcement is expected to be made on Monday, in the city of about 159,000 people located roughly 60 kilometres east of Toronto.

Sources say the Oshawa closures are part of a global restructuring aimed at moving toward lower-emission vehicles. Plants in the United States are also expected to close, although other GM operations in Ontario appear to be safe.

In an emailed statement to CTV Toronto, GM spokesperson David Paterson said the company “won’t be commenting ... on speculation.”

There are currently about 2,500 union positions and roughly 300 salaried employees in the Oshawa area. GM employs thousands more in Ingersoll, Markham and St. Catharines.

Unifor, which represents the hourly workers, said Sunday that it “does not have complete details” of the announcement but has “been informed that, as of now, there is no product allocated to the Oshawa Assembly Plant past December 2019.”

“Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement,” the union’s statement said.

“Unifor is scheduled to hold a discussion with General Motors tomorrow and will provide further comment following the meeting,” the union added.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted that his “heart goes out to all those affected by this devastating decision.”

A source with the federal government confirmed to CTV News that they are aware of the situation and concerned about Monday's announcement.

Conservative MP Erin O’Toole, who represents the riding of Durham, said on Twitter that, “from the calls I have been making tonight, it appears these reports about an end to vehicle assembly in Oshawa are true.”

“This is devastating news to families in Oshawa, the Durham region and all of Ontario,” O’Toole added. “Growing up, my father worked at GM much like the parents of many of my friends. I think of these families tonight and pledge to get to the bottom of why this is happening and whether the decision can be reversed.”

Oshawa MPP Jennifer French, a New Democrat, told CP24 that “if the news is true,” then Oshawa is “bracing ourselves for a fight.”

“Let’s be real here,” French said. “GM didn’t build Oshawa, Oshawa built GM.”

More than 100 years of history

GM’s history in Canada dates back more than 100 years. GM merged with McLaughlin Buicks in 1918. The Oshawa Assembly Plant opened in 1953.

By the early 1980s, more than 23,000 workers were employed at GM in Oshawa.

The Oshawa Assembly plant recently became the only factory in North America capable of building both cars and trucks.

Outgoing Oshawa Mayor John Henry told CTV Toronto’s Miranda Anthistle that he’s hoping the plant closure is “just a rumour” because GM is a “huge economic engine to the community.”

“My entire family has worked at General Motors,” said Henry. “My dad was a foreman in the plant. I have two brothers in the plant. My sister worked there in university. I worked there as a contractor.”

At the same time, Henry said that Oshawa’s economy has diversified so that it is no longer dependent on the auto industry.

“It’s very different now than when I was growing up, when everyone you knew was working in the plant,” he said.

“We’ve diversified and we have a lot of other things going on,” he added. “But the car industry is still a big part of our community.”

December 11, 2018

CHINA: China's Unipec To Buy U.S. Oil After Xi-Trump Tariff Truce. 👏😊👍

Reuters News
written by Meng Meng, and Florence Tang
Tuesday December 4, 2018

BEIJING/SINGAPORE - Chinese oil trader Unipec plans to resume U.S. crude shipments to China by March after the Xi-Trump deal at the G20 meeting reduced the risk of tariffs being imposed on these imports, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

The sources told Reuters that Unipec - trading arm of state refiner Sinopec (600028.SS) - is looking to import U.S. oil by March 1, which marks the end of a 90-day negotiating period agreed by the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies.

China’s crude oil imports from the United States ground to a halt in October as this year’s trade war between the two countries escalated.

“Chinese buyers who want to buy U.S. crude will rush to import the oil during this window,” a senior executive from Asia’s largest refiner Sinopec said, adding that the oil has to arrive in China before March 1.

“Oil prices are low, so it makes economic sense to store some crude as commercial inventories,” said the executive, who asked not to be named.

Sinopec said it has a policy not to comment on specific trade deals. Unipec did not respond to an email.

Oil prices have slumped by around a third since early October amid an emerging glut, triggering expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will agree to supply cuts at a meeting this week. [O/R]

It was unclear how much oil Unipec - China’s largest crude oil importer - would order from the United States, but one of the sources said the company could lift a record volume of oil in January.

China’s previous record for a month came in January 2018, when it imported about 472,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the United States, according to Chinese customs data.

Before the trade dispute erupted in mid-2018, China had become the largest importer of U.S. crude. China imported on average 325,000 bpd of U.S. crude in the first nine months of 2018 before imports fell to zero in October, customs data shows.

Although crude oil was not included on Beijing’s import tariff list, Chinese buyers started avoiding U.S. oil from mid-2018.

U.S.-based trade and shipping sources said Unipec is back in the market, looking to buy U.S. crude and book ships for China.

Unipec may have chartered VLCC Manifa to load U.S. oil this month, one of the sources said. Another said the company has provisionally booked a VLCC to load U.S. oil in January and make the 45-50-day voyage to China for $8.4 million.

While China is expected to maximize U.S. oil imports during the 90-day window, the overall outlook for this trade flow in 2019 remained murky.

“Tensions have eased between the two countries but we can’t forecast what will happen after March,” the Sinopec executive said.

“There is a lot of pressure on both sides to reach a mutual agreement in 90 days.”

CHINA: A Female Chinese Novelist Has Been Sentenced To 10 Years In Jail For Writing And Distributing Books Containing Explicit Descriptions Of Gay Male Sex. 😦

France24 News
written by AFP staff
Monday November 19, 2018

Beijing - A female Chinese novelist has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for writing and distributing books containing explicit descriptions of gay male sex, state-run media said Monday, a punishment that drew criticism for its severity.

The author, who goes by the pen name "Tianyi", attracted the scrutiny of authorities after one of her homoerotic novels, "Gongzhan", went viral last year, according to the Global Times tabloid.

The book detailed the sexual relationship between a teacher and his male student.

Tianyi also distributed 7,000 "pornographic" books, most related to homosexuality, which garnered "illegal profits" of 150,000 yuan ($21,600), according to Wuhu city police cited by The Global Times.

She has filed an appeal, according to local media.

Tianyi's sentencing in eastern Anhui province on October 31 has drawn a wave of criticism on Twitter-like Weibo, where many people noted that the punishment was treated like other crimes such as rape.

According to Chinese criminal law, rapists are charged with three to 10 year prison sentences.

"We don't deny her crime -- it's just that we don't accept this kind of unreasonable judgement," wrote one Weibo user, whose post garnered more than 5,000 likes and 1,000 reposts.

Homoerotic novels are not uncommon in China and are easily accessible via different websites, but those who earn 50,000 yuan ($7,200) or more in producing or disseminating "obscene" material are subject to Chinese criminal law.

Gay romance stories are popular in China too -- in fact, there is a term in Chinese for women who are fans of gay love stories, or "funu".

But in recent weeks, Beijing has cracked down on "illegal" publications, a broadly defined category that includes pornography, as well as work that "endangers national unity" and "disturbs social order".

Last week, government regulators increased the amount of cash rewards Chinese citizens can earn for reporting "illegal" publications to authorities -- an upper limit of 600,000 yuan ($86,000).

The Cyberspace Administration of China said last Monday it had "cleaned up" 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms which it accused of spreading "politically harmful" information and rumours.

Gay-themed films struggle to make it into movie theatres, same-sex relationships are banned from television screens and gay content is forbidden on online streaming platforms.

China classified homosexuality as a crime until 1997 and a mental illness until 2001, but conservative attitudes and discrimination remain widespread.

JAPAN: Intends To Expand Its Military Base In Djibouti A Decade After It Set Up The Facility In The Tiny But Strategically-Located Horn Of Africa Country To Combat Rising Incidents Of Piracy

written by Julian Ryall (Tokyo)
November 19, 2018

In 2009, Japan set up a military facility in Djibouti to combat rising incidents of piracy off Northeast Africa. A decade later, the pirates have been largely defeated, but Tokyo intends to expand its Djibouti base.

When Japan set up a facility in Djibouti in 2009 with docks for warships, an airfield and the other infrastructure that an overseas military base requires to support troops on the ground, it had the very clearly defined task of supporting the international campaign against pirates operating out of Somalia.

In 2011, there were no fewer than 237 incidents involving suspected pirates. Thanks in large part to the international response, that figure fell to zero incidents in 2015 and a mere nine cases were reported in the whole of 2017.

Yet instead of declaring the Self-Defense Forces' (SDF) mission accomplished, closing the Djibouti base and bringing the two Kawasaki P-1 patrol aircraft, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and at least 180 ground troops back to Japan, Tokyo is expected to include in its new National Defense Program Guidelines plans to upgrade the facility.

The details of the enhanced base have yet to be released, the Asahi newspaper reported, but the original 12-hectare plot alongside the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport was last year expanded to 15 hectares.

The aim, analysts suggest, is to give Japan more of a say in international security and peacekeeping operations, but also, acting in concert with like-minded nations, serve as a check on China's increasingly expansionist agenda.

Emerging markets

Beijing opened its own military base in Djibouti in 2017 and is pushing its One Belt One Road economic initiative for Asia, the Middle East and into the emerging markets of Africa.

"I see these efforts as not just a question of expanding Japan's presence, but also an attempt to build on the broader, more multilateral quasi-alliances involving the US and Australia, as well as countries such as India that will be acting in their own national interests when it comes to China," said Jun Okumura, a political analyst at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs.

"This is part of a broader effort among the international community to maintain the balance at a time when there are concerns over changes in the existing security balance in the Asia-Pacific region and now beyond, into the Indian Ocean," he told DW.

Japan learns from allies

The Japanese government has studied how other nations with a more global security presence – notably the US, France and the UK – operate military bases in other parts of the world. Britain, for example, took advantage of the location of its facility in Oman to expand emergency and humanitarian assistance to the people of the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan struck in November 2013.

"No, Japan does not need a facility in Djibouti, but there are a number of advantages if they do remain there," said Garren Mulloy, an associate professor of international relations at Daito Bunkyo University and an expert on security issues.

"Firstly, if the international force deployed to put a stop to the piracy all left then the problem could very quickly come back again, so there is a need to maintain that deterrent," he told DW.

"But also, Japan's SDF has such a low profile internationally that the only place it is presently operationally engaged abroad is Djibouti and it wants to be seen to be engaged in international operations, which it has been with the anti-piracy campaign," he said.

"And the military and politicians will argue that it is always better to have a base like this and not to have to set one up – at a high cost in terms of price and political capital – when one is needed," he added. "So when any military has a base such as Djibouti, they will try to keep it to serve as a facility for future operations."

Regional hub

The base has proved important in the past, serving as a hub for transportation, logistical supply and medical aid in a time of crisis, such as when terrorists attacked a natural gas plant in Algeria in 2013, killing 10 Japanese nationals. It was also utilized when the SDF had ground forces in South Sudan as a peacekeeping force between 2012 and 2017.

And while the Japanese government has stated that it intends to have one member of the SDF in Djibouti for every 10 Chinese military personnel, Mulloy does not believe that Tokyo's decision to retain a force in the region is the start of a modern-day "Great Game" as the two countries jostle for influence – through fair means or foul – across Africa.

"African nations will be happy at international investment, whether that comes through China's One Belt One Road or Japanese trade missions and government programs. So it will be a civilian competition rather than a military one," he said.
The Diplomat
written by Tyler Headley
Tuesday December 4, 2018

China’s first overseas military base provides an interesting test case for its global ambitions.

Since its construction, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Support Base in Djibouti has become an increasingly important outpost in the Horn of Africa. The base’s geostrategic location yields insights into China’s machinations for the region.

Roughly two years ago, China’s negotiations with Djibouti for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) first overseas military base successfully concluded. On July 11, 2017, the PLAN deployed ships from the South Sea Fleet to officially open the base. The opening ceremony on August 1, 2017 was followed a month and a half later with live fire exercises.

China has avoided using overt military terminology to describe the base, as Mordechai Chaziza notes, “preferring instead to use the terms ‘support facilities’ or ‘logistical facilities.’” China still maintains that the base is primarily for nonmilitary activities; last year, the state-run news agency Xinhua wrote that “the Djibouti base has nothing to do with an arms race or military expansion, and China has no intention of turning the logistics center into a military foothold.” Analysis from Stratfor cast doubt on China’s claim, showing the military base has become heavily fortified with an underground space of 23,000 square meters.

Also, in the year since the base officially opened, it has been party to controversy including the United States. Washington alleged that China was directing powerful lasers from its base at nearby U.S. planes, a nuisance and provocation that injured two airmen. China has denied the allegations.

Much of the tension is attributable to a plethora of countries establishing bases in the Horn of Africa for its geostrategic location. Djibouti offers a prime opportunity for third party state actors to observe and defend international commerce passing through the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a shipping passage renowned as the fourth most important world chokepoint for oil exports and imports. Because of the strait’s close proximity to Somalia and piracy originating from its shores, state powers have strong incentives to conduct frequent anti-piracy operations.

Because of the opportunity to run anti-piracy missions in addition to counterterrorism and myriad other activities, the United States, France, Japan, and Italy all maintain bases in Djibouti. The United States’ military base in Djibouti – Camp Lemmonier – is its only permanent base on the African continent, with more than 4,000 troops deployed.

China’s military involvement in the Horn of Africa, primarily consisting of anti-piracy missions, began a decade ago. Today, in addition to anti-piracy operations, declassified analysis from CNA posits that China’s naval facility in Djibouti will support four other key missions: intelligence collection, non-combat evacuation operations, peacekeeping operation support, and counterterrorism.

All of these objectives are in line with a nascent but escalating policy of global military engagement stretching from the South China Sea to East Africa. One of the primary mechanisms for achieving this stated goal is a strong navy, allowing China to project its power across the globe. Naval bases like the one in Djibouti will be integral to achieving this ambition. A Pentagon report from last year noted that the Djibouti base, “along with regular naval vessel visits to foreign ports, both reflects and amplifies China’s growing influence, extending the reach of its armed forces.” China refuted this claim, and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying argued the Pentagon was making “irresponsible remarks about China’s national defense development in disregard of the facts.”

The Djibouti base was constructed within the context of growing China-Djibouti economic relations, which allowed China to create their base over the United States’ objections. The Import-Export Bank of China has loaned Djibouti nearly $1 billion dollars, and sources indicate that China provides nearly 40 percent of funding for Djibouti’s large-scale infrastructure and investment projects. Some of the most notable among these are the Doraleh Multipurpose Port, the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, and the Ethiopia-Djibouti Water Pipeline.

China’s base in Djibouti may be a harbinger of more to come in the region. As China continues its policy of Belt and Road investments in Africa, which appear to include provisions for more ports in East Africa, ensuring the security and stability of those investments will of critical importance. Counterpiracy and counterterrorism will become increasingly imperative in the years to come, especially in places like the Horn of Africa where instability meets economic opportunity. Thus, China’s base in Djibouti may not be just a military outpost but also a learning experiment for future bases on the continent.

Asia Times
written by Bertil Lintner
Wednesday November 28, 2018

Nowhere in the world are there so many military bases run by rival nations in such close proximity than in East Africa's Djibouti, where intrigue is rife and espionage is de rigueur.

Small countries with limited resources have been known to turn themselves into financial centers where dodgy banks and companies find a haven from international regulators as a means to reverse their national fortunes.

Djibouti, the third smallest country on the African mainland, has found another way to thrive: hosting military bases.

The tiny nation formerly known as French Somaliland has leveraged its strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea and some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes running through the Suez Canal to lease its otherwise barren, rocky land to foreign powers.

Djibouti also has the seaside advantage of being comparatively serene in a region plagued by instability. Djibouti’s old colonial power France maintains a base here, as do the Americans, Italians and Japanese. Germany and Spain maintain troops at the base hosted by the French.

Then came the Chinese.

When Beijing inaugurated its first overseas military base here on August 1, 2017, Djibouti was turned fully into a modern day Casablanca, where everyone seems to be spying on one another. It may be a Francophone port city with an interior as rugged as Morocco’s, but there is no Rick’s Café here, as famously portrayed in the 1942 movie with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

But, at a more modern luxury hotel overlooking the beach in the north of Djibouti City, Western military officers and soldiers in uniform can be seen alongside Chinese businessmen and technicians as well as assorted dignitaries from Africa and Arab countries.

The Chinese base, maintained by the People’s Liberation Army Navy, is located at Doraleh west of the capital while all the other nations’ bases are situated near the international airport to the south less than ten kilometers away.

Geopolitics is a lucrative business for Djibouti. The US pays US$63 million annually in rent for its base, the French US$36 million, China US$20 million and Italy US$2.6 million. The amount Japan pays is not publicly disclosed.

There are an estimated 4,000 soldiers and Filipino workers at the American base, 180 troops at the Japanese camp and 1,450 at France’s two bases — one near the airport and a naval facility on the coast where the Germans and Spaniards are also stationed. Around 80 Italians are situated in a base near the US camp.

China’s Doraleh base is close to a new seaport and the end station of a new Chinese-built 759-kilometer railroad extending from Djibouti’s coast to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The standard gauge railroad was opened for commercial traffic on January 1 this year, replacing a a meter-gauge railway built during the French colonial era that is no longer used.

Passengers can use a station close to the airport while freight trains carrying containers go all the way to and from Doraleh. Nearby is the largest free trade zone in Africa, known as the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone (DIFTZ), where hundreds of trucks can be seen waiting to pick up goods destined for Ethiopia and other countries beyond Djibouti.

The Chinese-financed, UD$3.5 billion DIFTZ opened earlier this year, covering an area of 4,800 hectares. According to an official announcement, it will focus on logistics, export processing, financial support services, manufacturing and duty-free merchandise trade.

This small and largely peaceful republic on the Horn of Africa is fast becoming China’s economic gateway to Africa. But it is the naval base that has sent jitters through the Western military community in Djibouti.

The official China Daily, which covered the opening of the base in August last year, stated at the time it could “support some 10,000 people” with the caveat that “official figures for the number of personnel to be stationed there have not been released.” The paper said the official reason for the establishment of the base was “to support the Chinese military’s escort and peacekeeping missions in Africa and West Asia.”

The Western powers that have bases there usually refer to the same reason for their presence in Djibouti, as well as to fight pirates famously active off the coast of Somalia.

But The China Daily was probably more frank than Western spokespersons as it also quoted Liu Hongwu, a professor at Zhejiang University, as saying that Djibouti “is situated at the juncture of Europe, Asia and Africa; in a sense, it is at the crossroads of the world.”

That’s more likely why China is there, to protect its economic and strategic interests in the region — and hence also better position itself for any potential conflicts between China and the West, primarily the US.

Djibouti is not America’s only base in the region. It also has an important facility in Qatar, as well as the highly secretive, multi-purpose base at Diego Garcia, a leased atoll in the British Indian Ocean Territory that is the only possession the United Kingdom keeps in the region after it withdraw from east of Suez in the 1960s.

In that sense, China’s new base in Djibouti is the first serious challenge to US military supremacy in the Indian Ocean region. And China is making incipient moves in that direction.

In July 2017, just before the official opening of the base, the Chinese warships CNS Jinggangshan and CNS Donghaidao brought in personnel and materiel to the base. The CNS Jinggangshan carried marines, engineers and military vehicles to the base while the CNS Donghaidao transported some unspecified heavy equipment.

Then, in September last year, troops stationed at the base carried out their first live-fire drills. The exercise, which involved dozens of soldiers, took place at Djibouti’s national gendarmerie training range and was meant to test their combat readiness when faced with extreme heat, humidity and salinity — all omnipresent in Djibouti as well as other parts of Africa.

To keep up the pretense that nothing untoward is underway, the combined European Union counter-piracy task force in Djibouti and China’s PLA Navy carried out a joint exercise in October.

But there is no hiding the fact that Western powers are peeved by China’s newly established presence. In March this year, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top US general for Africa, told a US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing that “the consequences would be significant” if China took over the port at Doraleh.

That is now happening as the Djibouti government took over the port from Dubai’s DP World in February without any official explanation and appears now to be negotiating an agreement with the state-run China Merchants Group to take its place.

DP World appealed against the decision and in August won a legal battle against Djibouti at the London Court of International Arbitration. But that is no guarantee that Chinese interests will not soon win control of the port.

CMPort, a subsidiary of the China Merchants Group which runs Djibouti’s free trade zone, said in a statement in July that “Djibouti, one of the developing countries along the Belt and Road, has similar infrastructure with Shenzhen (opposite Hong Kong) and Shekou (on the northern tip of Shenzhen), when it became the pioneer of China’s historic journey of reform and opening up.”

That effusive language shows Djibouti is a vital part of China’s desire to fortify its role as a rising world power — and Djibouti is so far serving as a willing and open client. There is even a new Confucious Center in Djibouti City which China leverages to cultivate ”people-to-people” ties.

US Waldhauser also said during the hearing in Washington that “there are some indications of (China) looking for additional facilities, specifically on the eastern coast (of Africa)…so Djibouti happens to be the first — there will be more.”

The strategically situated Horn of Africa and the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula on the other side of the Red Sea have long been coveted by competing great powers.

The French seized Djibouti in stages after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, partly to counter Britain’s presence at Aden, now in Yemen, across the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the entrance to the Red Sea.

The colony became French Somaliland and, in 1967, the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, before finally achieving independence in 1977 — the last of the directly ruled European colonies in Africa to do so.

For decades, the French Foreign Legion had a base in Djibouti known as Camp Lemonnier, which was taken over by the Americans following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington and became the only permanent US base in Africa.

It was initially meant to combat terrorist activities in the region and US drone-operations in the Middle East are known to be carried out from the base.

But Camp Lemonnier, particularly after the arrival of the Chinese at Doraleh, now has other duties to watch the Chinese. Alarm bells jangled when, in May this year, two pilots on a US cargo plane experienced eye injuries after being exposed to a laser beam.

At the time, US military officials officially accused China of using military grade lasers to distract their pilots. Although ten kilometers separate their two bases, they are watching each other closely — and suspiciously.

The laser beam incident has not been the only friction point between the various base operators. The Italians established their base here in 2009 ostensibly to fight piracy, as did the Japanese.

But when a Chinese warship docked at Djibouti last year, the website of China’s Procuatorial Daily, the official organ of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, China’s highest agency for prosecution and investigation, reported that a Japanese naval ship sent scuba gear-equipped frogmen to investigate. The Japanese did not comment on the accusation.

The nations maintaining bases in Djibouti are also widely believed to be engaged in electronic eavesdropping on one another, including surveillance of the activities of persons of interest in the country and capital city.

Indeed, the intrigues at Casablanca in the 1940s likely pale in insignificance when compared to what is happening now on this tiny speck of land on the Horn of Africa, an increasingly perilous pinnacle where spy versus spy intrigue often leaks into the public domain.

Nowhere on the planet are there so many military bases run by rival nations in such close proximity to each other. That proximity means anything can and likely will happen as the US and its allies confront a rising China in what some see as the early phases of a new Cold War.

HAPPY Tuesday Everybody! Sending Some Inspiration Your Way. :D

December 9, 2018

Faith Is Never Blind: – Bartimaeus - “The Vision and Boldness to Ask the Impossible” Beautiful Message...♥

written by Pastor James
[source: Rose City Park Church]

It’s an ordinary story – a familiar setting. Jesus is walking out of the city of Jericho and a man asks for Mercy – He stops – calling the man. The beggar comes and in compassion he heals him. So what is the big deal – How can this story assist me in my walk with God?

Well – let’s open our minds … allow the Spirit to guide and listen without judgment or bias. May I ask that you join me in prayer?

PRAYER – “Gracious Lord of Love – be with us as we open Your Word – that our hearts may discover new means to find depth in our relationship with you. Speak to every heart that is searching for answers this morning … and unbind those hearts that feel they need no answers. Open our soulful eyes, we pray. In Christ’s name, Amen.”

JERICHO – 17 miles NE of Jerusalem is the city of Jericho. The Hebrew name is Ruach – meaning “City of Fragrance.” You remember the story of the “Walls of Jericho” – how that Joshua with his priests and people to march around the city for seven days – and on the seventh – marching around it seven times – the trumpets blew and the people shouted and the walls fell flat – because of a thing called faith – that dwelled within the hearts of Israel.

WALLS OF JERICHO – Fourteen centuries later – the city was still a hub of trade. It was an oasis in the middle of a wilderness. In fact tradition has it that when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan – it was in the dessert near to Jericho. The road to Jerusalem was – and still is quite dangerous. Rocks and crags jut our along the way – so that (as in the Good Samaritan story) there was an opportunity for robbers to take advantage of travelers along that road.

The story takes place in the spring – during the third year of Jesus’ ministry – in fact he is going to Jerusalem to face his foes – one of them being death. Now, Jesus is leaving Jericho for Jerusalem … there is an exquisite fragrance in the air from the balsam and rose gardens. The people are filled with joy – not only in the coming festival in the Holy City of Passover – but the arrival of this folk hero – a man called Jesus of Nazareth. The road out of Jerusalem was clogged with many people – lots of noise – laughter, talking, questions. The large gate is before him and over to the side as with most communities are the beggars of the city – asking for alms. As today, these are the “Invisible People.” Just ignore them – and go about your business. But today there arose a commotion. A man is yelling at the tops of his lungs. It is a familiar beggar’s face – the son of Timaeus – in fact that is his name

BAR-TIMAEUS – You probably have heard of family names like that of Thomason or Smithson – this was the son of Timaeus … or Bar-Timaeus. We know that at one time he could see – but now begged for a living because he was blind. Most Hebrew people would consider that he was blind because of some sin he or his parents had committed. Those who were blind were considered the edge or fringe of society. Without sight, they could not read, were dependant upon others for food, for direction, or sustenance. Bartimaeus no doubt had heard of this Man of Nazareth – of his amazing teachings and the miraculous miracles. The affirmation of a certain Messiah was the fact that the lame would walk and the blind would see – the deaf will hear – and that good news would be proclaimed to the poor. A life changing possibility to Bartimaues – the reception of sight again. I have been pondering which might be worse: someone born blind or one who had lost his sight. Presently I have concluded that to have known the gift of amazing vision and lost it is a greater tragedy. Bartimaeus could not travel – the one who might be able to grant his deepest desire was here … on his street at his gate. To let this opportunity pass was not an option. So with all of his might he yelled and waved his arms, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Over and over again. The Pharisees and city leaders glanced with distain at the dirty beggar man and motioned with their heads that someone should quiet this mad man. He was an embarrassment to the city. But no matter how his friends and officials tried to quell his calls, he yelled even louder. He was not going to let this possibility pass him by.

Did you ever let an opportunity pass? What keeps us from taking hold of opportunities? Fears of discouragement? Disappointment? Opposition? In the South it is often named, “Receiving a Woopin’ from the Lord.” // But Bartimaeus who had nothing – but faith and foolishness brought forth his rallying prayer before this man, the Son of God. Another question that comes to mind was – “Why discourage and try to quell the hopes and possibilities of this pitiful soul? Even those who begged along side of Bartimaeus tried to quiet him in his pleas.

QUESTION: Do we ever try to douse seekers of God? Or discourage those who try to discover God in unconventional ways?

Remember: the disciples rebuked the children – and Jesus said, “Forbid them not to come.” Simon the Pharisee condemned the sinful woman – and Jesus let her bath his feet with her tears. Judas blamed the waste of ointment – but Jesus said, “She has done a good work.” We should never forget that God is always open to our pleas and prayers for help and love. No?

And one more matter … do you notice the difference in the crowd and Bartimaeus? They called this celebrity “Jesus of Nazareth.” The son of Timaeus crowned him with the titles, “Son of David” and “Rabonnai” – “My Master.” The title was reserved for the Redeemer – the Messiah – Son of the Almighty God. Can you palatably feel the faith of Bartimaeus? Do you hear his prayer – his desperate cry for help … for a miracle … for a blessing?

“JESUS OF NAZARETH” – “SON OF DAVID” – Back to the story …. It’s at this point in the story that an amazing thing happened. The parade stopped – because Jesus himself stood still to look with a smile at Bartimaeus. // What does it mean for someone to stop and give their full attention to what you are saying?

JESUS STOPPED – To the crowd he said, Call him. Look at Bartimaeus – his mouth wide open – in unbelief. His friends nudged him and said, “Don’t just sit there – Get up. Jesus is calling for you!!” Like a Jack out the Box – Bartimaeus – sprung up … in fact the Greek meaning for the word is “sprung up.” He threw of his outer cloak and made his way toward the voice of Jesus. Jesus grasps his hands to stabilize and assure him that his destination has been reached. Then a very strange question came from Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is apparent what Bartimaeus’ needs – why ask such obvious question? Yet in reality, when reading the question from the Greeek, the question sounds like a servant who asks his Master what he might need after being summoned. “What can I do for you?”

“What do you want me to do for you?” – Don’t you see – he honors this man as an image of God – and is empowering him with the right to respond as he sees fit. Jesus embraces us all as equals. AMAZING! We give Bartimaeus pity – Jesus gives him preference. With the hope of the ages – Bartimaeus responds, “My Master, I want to see again.” In almost a whisper - Jesus says, “Then Go – your faith has healed you.” And as he turned – light came into Bartimaeus’ life and eyes. Imagine: Bartimaeus’ - in darkness - had cried to the Light of the world and had received not only vision – but confirmation that he was a loved child of God! Can you think of any sight more glorious than after being blind for years and years – and the first sight to see was the Son of God smiling at you? Unbelievable!

The next scene is remarkable. Jesus turns to head toward Jerusalem – the point of his crucifixion and around him we see a dancing Bartimaeus – who became a traveling companion to Christ … as he leaves his daily cup of coins and his old beggars wrap with the other fragments of his old life.

As we bring the story home – to our lives and our community. Some of the points are obvious:
  • Bartimaeus didn’t have much – but he possessed many qualities that the Lord seeks in God’s children: passion, perseverance, humility, persistence, the courage to seize an opportunity, and most of all – faith in God’s ability to work through us.
  • Jesus calls us out of spiritual darkness into God’s Marvelous Light!
  • Bartimaeus’ prayer sprang from a soul with need – but it was more than words – for heart and faith are the primary ingredients of our petitions to the Father.
  • Sometimes like Bartimaeus we need to cast off every weight that encumbers us and run the race of life that is set before us. The question is: What is your weight?
  • “But God would never pick me” – no talents – no gifts. It is a fact that God usually selects the most unlikely. Bartimaeus wasn’t beautiful – in man’s eyes he was pitiful – socially, physically, and spiritually. But there are beauties to God that reach beyond vision and appearance …. Honesty, purity, holiness, kindness and compassion … are just a few.
Bartimaeus asked for mercy – he knew that Christ had come to Jericho to bring a piece of God …. a fact he had a strong conviction in. In the entire crowd – it is amazing that he had the eternal vision that connected himself with Jesus. If we only could be that faithful – and reach beyond ourselves – to be fools for all of God’s children!


Opportunities. Bartimaeus used his opportunity – not only to receive sight – but to find God. opportunities are gifts from God – to help us demonstrate His care and compassion to our world. BUT JESUS DOESN’T PASS OUR WAY … You have eyes, but do not see.

“As you do for the least of these – you do unto me.” The hungry the orphaned the imprisoned …. If you are in tuned to the spirit – If you are connected with God you will feel Christ passing as you sing a hymn … or pray – or read God’s Word – or in a kindness received – or in the sharing of Communion. Blindness is the result of not seeing things that are apparent. May we stop looking with our eyes and begin to see with our hearts and souls.

Jesus is passing. “But James, I don’t see him.” Neither did Bartimaeus. Neither did the Lambs who were invited into heaven. When did we see you hungry – or thirsty – or naked? And Christ will say unto them. “As you did unto the least of these my brethren – you did unto me.”

Jesus Christ is passing – HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Deep Calls Unto Deep: Created For God's Purpose

Deep Calls Unto Deep
[source: Watchman Nee]

Psalm 42:7 says, "Deep calls unto deep." Only a call from the depths can provoke a response from the depths. Nothing shallow can ever touch the depths, nor can anything superficial touch the inward parts. Only the deep will respond to the deep. Anything that does not issue from the depths cannot touch the depths. Others can respond deep within to only what issues from deep within us. When we go to a certain place and listen to a message, the only thing that touches us is something that has issued from the depths of others. If nothing comes from the depths, the help we receive is just superficial. We have to see the importance of the depths. Anything that is not from the depths will never reach the depths of others. If we have never received help or benefit in our depths, we will never have anything issuing from our depths. If we want to render spiritual help to others, something must issue from our depths. If we do not dig deep, we can never gain others. Unless our utterance is from the depths, we will not touch the depths in others, even though we gain their emotions and thoughts and make them cry or be happy or excited for a while. Only deep calls unto deep. Superficial expressions will not touch the depths of others.

Deep Roots

One principle in preaching and receiving the word is found in the Lord's parable of the sower. While the sower sowed, some seeds fell beside the way, some on the rocky place, some into the thorns, and some into the good earth. This shows us four different ways for man to receive the word. The Lord Jesus tells us that among these different conditions, one is the rocky place. There is a little earth on the surface, but underneath there are rocks. When the seed falls into this kind of ground, it springs up quickly, but as soon as the sun comes out, it withers because of the lack of root.

What is a root? It is growth that occurs beneath the soil. What are the leaves? They are growth that occur above the soil. In other words, roots are the hidden life, whereas leaves are the manifest life. The trouble with many Christians is that, while there is much apparent life, there is very little secret life. In other words, there is the lack of a hidden life. You have been a Christian for a number of years, have you not? Then let me ask: How much of your life is hidden from view? How much is unknown to others? You stress outward works, Yes, good works are important; but apart from that manifest expression of your life, how much of your life remains hidden: If all your spiritual life is exposed, you do not have any root. Are all your virtues before God manifested before man, or is there something more that is unknown to man? If all your experiences are manifested, then all your growth is upward; there is no downward growth. If this is the case, you are a person who has only leaves without root, and you are on shallow ground.

In our Christian life it is necessary that we learn the meaning of the Body of Christ; we must learn to have a life of the Body. On the other hand, we must learn that the life given to each member of His Body by the Lord is distinctly individual. The measure that has been given to you personally by Him needs to be guarded; otherwise, it will lose its specific character and will be of no particular use to God. If that which has been specially committed to you is exposed, it will wither.

The discourse of the Lord Jesus on the Mount was most remarkable. On the one hand He said, "You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city situated upon a mountain to be hidden" (Matt. 5:14). It is open. On the other hand He said, "When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret;...when you pray, enter into your private room, and shut your door and pray to your Father who is in secret" (Matt. 6:3-4, 6). On the one hand, if you are a Christian, you must come right out into the open and make a public profession; on the other hand, there are Christian virtues which you should preserve from the public gaze. The Christian who parades all his virtues before men and who does not have anything in the depth of his being has no root; he will not be able to stand in the day of trial and temptation

We have been the Lord's children many years; may the Lord open our eyes and show us the extent to which our experiences have been hidden from public view. How much would be left if what is known by man was taken away? May God work in us so that we can take root downward.

As we extend ourselves deeper and take root downward, we will discover that "deep calls unto deep." When we can bring forth riches from the depths of our inner life, we will find that other lives will be deeply affected. The minute our inner being is touched, others will receive help and be enlightened. They will know that there is something beyond their knowledge. When deep touches deep, deep will respond to deep. If our life has no depth, our superficial work will only affect other lives superficially. We repeat yet again--only "deep calls unto deep."

Deep Calleth Unto Deep

Deep Calleth unto Deep
[source: Benny Hinn]

To experience a deeper dimension of God's presence, your soul must hunger and thirst for God in the same way a deer pants for the safety and sustenance of water. Only a small percentage of believers ever really experience this kind of intimacy with God because of the price.

Psalm 42:1-2 declares, "As the hart [male red deer] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"

In the natural, the panting of the deer is an audible agonizing for the safety the waters provide when pursued by a predator. When the deer runs into the water, the predator can no longer detect its scent. In addition to finding safety from its enemies, the deer finds relief from thirst in the waters.

“Intimacy with God is found only in the realm of the spirit.”Spiritually, your process of discovering a deeper dimension of God's presence involves longing, thirsting, and seeking. David wrote, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary" (Psalm 63:1-2).

Intimacy with God is found only in the realm of the spirit. There is a place of deep anointing, deep presence, and deep intimacy with God Almighty where "deep calleth unto deep" or spirit calls unto spirit.

It is a place that is so pure that every part of your being is consumed by the presence of Almighty God; a deep place where there is perfect communion between your spirit and every dimension of God's presence.

Your soul is stirred and there is a breakthrough in the spirit as "deep calleth unto deep" (Psalm 42:7).

It is at times like these that words become inadequate, because spoken words are the expression of the mind and not the soul. Words cease, and you stop asking. Only your heart can speak as it erupts in worship.

There is perfect harmony, perfect oneness. As you bask in the glory of His awesome presence, your spirit begins to fellowship with Him, crying out, "Oh, that I might know Him! Not the things He gives, or what He imparts, but Him!"

USA: 9 People Were Charged In Los Angeles On Allegations They Bribed Homeless People On Skid Row In Exchange For Fake Signatures As Part Of A Large-Scale Voter Fraud Scheme.

CBS News published on Nov 20, 2018: Nine people have been charged on allegations they bribed homeless people on Skid Row in exchange for fake signatures as part of a large-scale voter fraud scheme. Ken Molestina reports.

The people charged are Democrats.
CBS2 News, Los Angeles local
written by Staff
Tuesday November 20, 2018

LOS ANGELES - Nine people have been charged on allegations they bribed homeless people on Skid Row in exchange for fake signatures as part of a large-scale voter fraud scheme.

The suspects offered homeless people cash and cigarettes in exchange for hundreds of forged or fake signatures on state ballot petitions and voter registration forms, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office reported Tuesday.

The homeless would each be given either $1 or some cigarettes in exchange, the DA’s office said.

The scheme took place during the 2016 presidential and the 2018 midterm elections, prosecutors report. It’s unclear which specific ballot measures were involved or whether the false signatures were discovered before being verified.

The suspects have been identified as Kirkland Kauzava Washington, 38, Harold Bennett, 53, Louis Thomas Wise, 36. Richard Howard, 62, Rose Makeda Sweeney, 42, Christopher Joseph Williams, 59, Jakara Fati Mardis, 35, Norman Hall, 61, and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, 44.

They face various charges including circulating a petition with false names, use of false names on a petition, voter fraud: registering a fictitious person and voter fraud: registering a nonexistent person.

The defendants face a maximum of anywhere from four to six years in prison if convicted.

The charges were filed on Nov. 1. Several of the suspects will be arraigned Tuesday in L.A. County Superior Court. Prosecutors are recommending bail of $25,000 per suspect.

The FBI and Los Angeles police are investigating the case.

Anita Moncrief describes voter fraud by Obama and ACORN in 2008

Ex-ACORN employee Anita Moncrief tells of massive voter fraud committed by collusion between ACORN and the Obama campaign in 2008. Support her at