Gallup: More Protestants Now Do Not Identify With Specific Denomination

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Gallup: More Protestants Now Do Not Identify With Specific Denomination

Jul 20, 2017 | 10:17 AM

(PHOTO: STAN LEWIS) Warrington Baptist Church, a small congregation that held its last service in April 2017. The church was acquired by the Pensacola, Florida-based Olive Baptist Church, which plans to reopen it in October 2017 as a satellite campus.

There are now more Protestants in America who do not identify with a particular denomination or tradition than those who do, according to a new survey.

Gallup research released Tuesday reveals that the number of Christians who said they belonged to specific denomination has dropped from 50 percent in the year 2000 to 30 percent in 2016. The poll was done by telephone in the months of May and December of last year, polling a combined total of 2,053 American adults living in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Many surveys in recent years have shown a rising demographic of Americans called “nones” — those who claim no religious identification at all — and their numbers have doubled in 16 years. In 2000, 10 percent claimed no religious affiliation; by 2016 the “nones” were 20 percent of the population.

Because the percentages of Mormons, Roman Catholics, and adherents of non-Christian faiths have remained steady over that same time, the rising number of “nones” has occurred as Protestants have decreased, their numbers shrinking from 57 percent to 47 percent from 2000 to 2016.

“Therefore, there are fewer Protestants of any kind in the American population today, and the pool of those who identify with a specific Protestant denomination is smaller,” the Gallup report explains.

Other than Catholics or Mormons, American Christians “increasingly put themselves into a non-denominational category rather than identifying with a specific denomination such as Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian.” Yet others call themselves “Christian” with no qualifications.

The percentage of Christians who do not name a specific denomination has nearly doubled, from 9 percent to 17 percent in the past 16 years.

For those who do claim a specific denomination, Baptists continue to be the largest Protestant group, with 10 percent of Americans identifying as “Baptists” and an additional 3 percent identifying as “Southern Baptists.”

The Gallup researchers noted that measuring the religious identification among Protestants poses some challenges, especially given that hundreds of Protestant denominations exist today.

“This allows Protestants to easily switch between denominations, with the result that many Protestants are not as fixed in their religious identity as would be the case for Catholics, Jews or those from other religious traditions,” the report reads.

Even so, Gallup’s consistent research process has allowed a general comparison of trends in religious identity to occur across time.

“These trends indicate that, while many Americans remain religious in a broad sense and may continue to seek spiritual guidance and community experience, a formal structure in which to do so has become less important.”

Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalter

Mueller Is Investigating Trump Family Business Ties With Shady Russian’s

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trumpcampaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross and senior advisor Jared Kushner attend a meeting at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017.

Trump, Ross and Kushner attend a meeting at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, said on Thursday that he was unaware of the inquiry into Trump’s businesses by the two-months-old investigation and considered it beyond the scope of what Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be examining.

“Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code,” he wrote in an email.

Markets Fall

Major U.S. stock indices, which had been trading higher in the morning, fell as traders worried that the probe could derail Trump’s growth agenda. The dollar fell against the euro and U.S. government bonds rose.

The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have involved Russians for years, however, making the boundaries fuzzy.

The Justice Department’s May 17 order to Mueller instructs him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” suggesting a relatively broad mandate.

Agents are interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary. In addition, they are examining the efforts of Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior aide, to secure financing for some of his family’s real-estate properties. The information about the investigation was provided by someone familiar with the developing inquiry but not authorized to speak publicly.

The roots of Mueller’s follow-the-money investigation lie partly in a wide-ranging money-laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last year, according to the person.

For more on the Trump-Russia investigations, see this Q&A

FBI agents already had been gathering information about Manafort, according to two people with knowledge of that probe. Prosecutors hadn’t yet begun presenting evidence to a grand jury. Trump fired Bharara in March.

The Manafort inquiry initially focused on actions involving a real-estate company he launched with money from Ukraine in 2008. By the time Bharara was fired, his office’s investigation of possible money laundering extended well beyond that, according to the person briefed on the Mueller probe.

Watch Next: Why Robert Mueller Is the Perfect Man for the Job

Play Video

Why Robert Mueller Is the Perfect Man for the Job

The Bharara investigation was consolidated into Mueller’s inquiry, showing that the special counsel is taking an overarching approach. The various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller’s inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Joshua Stueve, Mueller’s spokesman, declined to comment, as did a Manafort spokesman and Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner.

Spokesmen for the White House, Trump Organization and Ross didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Evade Taxes

Mueller’s team is looking at the Trump SoHo hotel condominium development, which was a licensing deal with Bayrock Capital LLC. In 2010, the former finance director of Bayrock filed a lawsuit claiming the firm structured transactions in fraudulent ways to evade taxes. Bayrock was a key source of capital for Trump projects, including Trump SoHo.

The 2013 Miss Universe pageant is of interest because a prominent Moscow developer, Aras Agalarov, paid $20 million to bring the beauty spectacle there. About a third of that sum went to Trump in the form of a licensing fee, according to Forbes magazine. At the event, Trump met Herman Gref, chief executive of Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank PJSC. Agalarov’s son, Emin, helped broker a meeting last year between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton and her campaign.

Another significant financial transaction involved a Palm Beach, Florida, estate Trump purchased in 2004 for $41 million, after its previous owner lost it in bankruptcy. In March of 2008, after the real-estate bubble had begun losing air, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the property for $95 million.

As part of their investigation, Mueller’s team has issued subpoenas to banks and filed requests for bank records to foreign lenders under mutual legal-assistance treaties, according to two of the people familiar with the matter.

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal.

LEARN MORE

Trump and Putin’s Syria Ceasefire Effectively Lets Assad Off the Hook

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

Trump and Putin’s Syria Ceasefire Effectively Lets Assad Off the Hook

12:55 PM ET

Two weeks after the White House threatened to impose a “heavy price” on Syrian President Bashar Assad if it launched a new chemical attack, President Donald Trump’s first attempt at peacemaking looks set to keep the autocrat in power for the foreseeable future.

A regional ceasefire took hold in Syria’s southwest [when], following negotiations with Russia and Jordan. It’s the newest curveball in the Trump administration’s evolving policy on Syria, which has gone from bombing Assad’s military in April and shooting a Syrian warplane from the sky in June, to the new ceasefire deal and renewed calls for cooperation with Assad’s chief outside supporter, Russia.

Observers and former U.S. officials say the ceasefire deal effectively guarantees Assad’s regime remains in place, in spite of Trump administration rhetoric to the contrary. Trump discussed the Syrian truce during his first face-to-face meeting as president with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany on Friday.

“My sense is that the Trump administration is resigned to the fact that the Assad regime has been secured by Iran and Russia for the indefinite future,” Fred Hof, a former U.S. special envoy on Syria under President Barack Obama, told TIME in an email. “They are forced – in large measure due to five plus years of Obama administration policy paralysis – to put Syrian political transition on the back burner.”

The ceasefire deal illustrates a new political reality as diplomatic attempts to resolve the six-year-old Syrian crisis as a whole give way to piecemeal efforts to deescalate the conflict in different parts of the country. Following more than a year of Russian-supported military gains by the government of President Bashar Assad, few now expect a broad national peace agreement between the regime and the rebel groups arrayed against it.

“There is no integrated solution for Syria anymore, at least for the time being in Washington,” says Joseph Bahout, a visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, speaking to TIME from Paris. “The core of the problem, the political question, the Assad aspect, the transition; today it’s off the hook. Today this is on the shelf,” he adds.

International diplomacy has focussed lately on containing, rather than resolving the conflict as a whole. In May, Russia, Iran, and Turkey (a key supporter of the Syrian opposition) agreed to a plan to establish a series of four “de-escalation zones” in sections of the country held by the opposition. It achieved limited success in calming fighting between rebels and the regime.

The new ceasefire calls for Jordan and Russia to restrain Syrian rebels and the regime, respectively, along the existing front line in Syria’s southwest, according to an senior State Department official who briefed reporters on Friday. Russia, the United States and Jordan released few other specifics of the agreement. No text of the deal was made public, and it was not clear how the truce would be enforced or monitored.

The new truce could yet provide relief to people living in three provinces in southwestern Syria, if it holds: Daraa, Suwayda, and Quneitra. The southwest has long been a redoubt of mainstream rebel groups who oppose both Assad and extremist groups, owing in part to support from the United States and Jordan, Syria’s neighbor to the south. Assad and allied forces have intensified attacks on rebel-held areas in the south since February. Past national ceasefires have unravelled within days or weeks. Human rights monitors and President Trump claimed that the ceasefire held, at least in its opening hours.

Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of meeting. Good!

Others weren’t certain it would be durable. “Is the ceasefire actually going to lead to a reduction in hostilities and violence in the south? That remains to be seen,” said Charmain Mohamed, a Jordan-based Advocacy Advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Past diplomatic efforts to end Syria’s civil war have sought to broker a peace deal between Assad and a spectrum of rebel groups who demand his removal from power. Those talks collapsed last year as Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, launched a ferocious offensive that reclaimed territory lost to the rebels, including the insurgent stronghold of Aleppo. The loss of the northwestern city was a historic blow to the rebellion that all but ended maximalist hopes of future military success against Assad.

More than six years on from the mass uprising against Assad that spawned Syria’s civil war, the contours of the conflict are shifting. After years in which the United States supported armed opposition groups but avoided direct conflict with Assad, the U.S. military struck Assad’s forces and allied troops at least four times since April, beginning with a cruise missile strike in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 70 people. In June, hostilities escalated again when American forces shot down a Syrian government warplane that attacked U.S.-allied militias on the ground eastern Syria.

The U.S. posture toward Assad is now difficult to gauge. Over the weekend, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated a call for a “transition away from the Assad family,” but also acknowledged that there was no plan in place to replace the current regime. Speaking to reporters in Hamburg, Tillerson said of Russian policy in Syria, “Maybe they’ve got the right approach and we’ve got the wrong approach.”

Under Trump, the U.S. has focused its efforts in Syria on fighting ISIS, sending additional troops to support Kurdish-led militias now battling their way into the jihadists’ stronghold in the eastern city of Raqqa. The ISIS-focused approach has placed diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict as a whole on the backburner.

The ceasefire agreement overshadowed a new round of United Nations-brokered peace talks taking place in Geneva on Monday. Bahout, the analyst, said few expected any progress. “No one is betting one dollar on that,” he said.

Kiev Pledges Reform for NATO Road Map as US Urges Russia to Ease Tensions in Ukraine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

World

Kiev Pledges Reform for NATO Road Map as US Urges Russia to Ease Tensions in Ukraine

NATO

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko vowed on Monday that his country will carry out reforms for it to meet the necessary standards to be able to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

He added that Kiev and NATO will begin discussions on a roadmap to get Ukraine into the alliance by 2020.

His announcement came a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged, during a visit to Kiev, Russia to take the “first steps” in easing the violence in eastern Ukraine.

At loggerheads with Russia and fighting a Kremlin-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine passed a law in June prioritizing NATO membership as a foreign policy goal.

Speaking alongside Poroshenko on a visit to the Ukrainian capital, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged the alliance’s support for Ukraine as it faces a bloody insurgency by pro-Russian separatists in the east.

“Russia has maintained its aggressive actions against Ukraine, but NATO and NATO allies stand by Ukraine and stand on your side,” Stoltenberg said in his opening remarks of the NATO-Ukraine Commission session in Kiev.

Ukraine and the West accuse Moscow of smuggling weapons and troops across the porous border, a charge it denies. The US and European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia, though Moscow has denied backing the rebels.

“Ukraine has clearly defined its political future and future in the sphere of security,” Poroshenko told reporters.

“Today we clearly stated that we would begin a discussion about a membership action plan and our proposals for such a discussion were accepted with pleasure.”

NATO leaders agreed at a summit in 2008 that Ukraine would one day become a member of the alliance and the country already contributes troops to NATO missions including in Afghanistan.

A formal NATO membership plan for Ukraine would mean meeting targets on political, economic and defense reforms, with national plans submitted annually to show progress.

But there are even larger barriers.

NATO rules state that aspiring members must “settle their international disputes by peaceful means”, meaning Ukraine would need to resolve the Donbass conflict — an insurgency by pro-Russian forces — that has so far killed more than 10,000 people.

Responding to Stoltenberg’s comments, the Kremlin said on Monday that Russia does not have troops in Ukraine.

It added: “Ukraine’s possible NATO membership will not boost stability and security in Europe.”

On Sunday, Tillerson visited Kiev and said Russia must make the first move in staunching the violence in eastern Ukraine.

Russia must take the first steps to de-escalate violence in eastern Ukraine, he said after meeting Poroshenko. He added that Washington’s primary goal is the restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity.

Tillerson’s tough talk clearly pleased Poroshenko, who has long complained about Russian interference in his country’s east and has watched nervously as the Trump administration has sought to improve ties with Moscow.

He thanked Tillerson for the continued US commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and expressed deep appreciation for his “symbolic and timely visit immediately after the meetings at the G20 in Hamburg” where US President Donald Trump met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 have driven ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

“We are also here to demonstrate NATO’s solidarity with Ukraine and our firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of your country,” Stoltenberg said.

“NATO allies do not and will not recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.”

Ukraine sees NATO accession as a way to bolster its defenses against former master Moscow.

However, Kiev has yet to officially apply to start the lengthy and politically challenging process of joining the alliance.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

More Posts – Twitter – Facebook – Google Plus – YouTube

If Trump wants China to ‘solve the North Korea problem,’ he has to cater to Beijing’s interests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

Op-Ed 

If Trump wants China to ‘solve the North Korea problem,’ he has to cater to Beijing’s interests

Doug Bandow

Even when President Trump has a good idea, he doesn’t stick with it long enough. Like pushing China on North Korea.

Of North Korea, said candidate Trump: “We should put pressure on China to solve the problem.” As president, he initially placed the issue front and center in the U.S.-China relationship.

But a couple months later, Trump appears to have lost hope in Beijing. “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried,” he tweeted recently.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded that his nation had “played an important and constructive role” in promoting peace on the Korean peninsula. Exactly how the People’s Republic of China helped is not clear, however. It cut back on coal purchases, but other commerce with North Korea continues. The Trump administration asked the Xi government to act against ten firms and individuals who trade with the North, but is still waiting for action.

Most proponents of “the China card” imagine Beijing cutting off trade, especially energy and food. Having just returned from Pyongyang — the North Korean government invited me but the Cato Institute paid my expenses — I found both energy and food to be in seeming good supply. Despite reports that gasoline prices have increased, there was no visual evidence of a shortage.

An undefined diplomatic duty won’t prompt China to act. The Trump administration must therefore convince Xi’s government that punishing North Korea benefits China. Which means Washington must take into account Beijing’s interests.

First, Chinese officials have long blamed the U.S. for adopting a threatening policy, which spurred the North to build nuclear weapons. Thus, Washington should work with South Korea and Japan to develop a package of benefits — economic assistance, security assurances, peace treaty, diplomatic recognition, and more — to offer in return for denuclearization, and present it to Beijing, then to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Second, China fears a messy collapse if the DPRK refuses to disarm. Nightmares of millions of refugees crossing the Yalu River, factional conflict in Pyongyang, combat among competing military units spilling across the border, and loose nukes have created a strong Chinese preference for the status quo. The U.S. needs to emphasize that the present situation is also dangerous and discuss how the allies are prepared to assist with any ill consequences. A commitment to help care for refugees and accept Chinese intervention in the North, for instance, might help assuage Beijing’s concerns.

Third, Beijing does not want to facilitate Korean reunification, creating a larger and stronger state allied with the U.S. and leaving American troops on the Yalu, or even farther down the peninsula. Among the issues worth discussing: respect for Chinese economic interests in North Korea, withdrawal of U.S. forces after reunification, and military nonalignment of a unified Korea.

Fourth, the U.S. could offer additional positive incentives. Trade, Taiwan, and territorial issues all provide areas where Washington could offer specific concessions in return for Beijing’s assistance. That obviously would increase the price of any agreement, but the U.S. has to decide how far it will go to promote denuclearization.

Of course, such an approach leaves much to be desired. Even if Kim Jong Un’s government accepted benefits in exchange for disarmament, human rights abuses could still continue. Or Pyongyang might refuse and survive, leaving an even more dangerous and impoverished nuclear nation. In the event of government collapse, China might resurrect the DPRK, only with more pliable rulers.

However, there are no better options. Military strikes might not destroy the North’s main nuclear assets and probably would trigger a second Korean War, which would result in horrific death and destruction even for the “victors.” Targeting Chinese firms would damage relations with Beijing without necessarily significantly weakening Pyongyang. People look longingly to Beijing only because enlisting China’s help appears to be the best of several bad options.

If there ever were a time for the U.S. to negotiate for Chinese cooperation, it is now. Trump and Xi appear to have established a positive relationship. The tragic death of Otto Warmbier after his release by Pyongyang adds urgency to efforts to address North Korea. Moreover, in Pyongyang I saw no visible signs of the warm friendship that officially exists between North Korea and China. In fact, North Korean officials said they wanted to reduce their dependence on “any one nation.”

Winning Chinese assistance remains a long shot, but Trump should put his self-proclaimed negotiating skills to work. There is no alternative, other than essentially accepting North Korea as a nuclear state, which the president presumably does not want as his foreign policy legacy.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Reagan. He is the author of “Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World” and coauthor of “The Korean Conundrum: America’s Troubled Relations with North and South Korea.”

‘Everyone in China has the American Dream’ – and a popular path to it may disappear

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

‘Everyone in China has the American Dream’ – and a popular path to it may disappear

 July 7

Their son was barely a year old when Jehan Li and Mia Qi plunked down a half-million dollars for the boy to have a shot at a brighter future in America — away from the grinding competition of a Chinese education and this city’s smog-choked air.

Last December, having made just a single visit to the United States on their honeymoon, the Chinese couple took advantage of a U.S. law, nicknamed the “golden visa,” that doles out green cards to foreigners who invest $500,000 in the United States.

Critics say the fast track to citizenship favors the ultra-rich. It is also emerging as one of the most attainable paths to U.S. residency for members of China’s growing professional class — and now it could disappear.

The nearly three-decade-old program has come under new scrutiny in recent months, in part because of a sales pitch to Chinese investors by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate business.

Congress and the Trump administration are considering changing the rules for the investor visas as a means of cracking down on money laundering and visa-for-sale fraud. Potential changes, such as raising the investment threshold, would have little impact on China’s wealthiest. But they could shut out families such as Li and Qi, who despite riding the curve of upward socioeconomic mobility in China still see the United States as their best opportunity and this visa program as their best option.

The debate over the investor visas raises basic questions about the purpose of U.S. visa policies. Some say this program should be eliminated in favor of other immigrant groups, such as high-skilled workers or refugees escaping persecution — and not let people buy their way into the United States. Others say those with substantial amounts of money are best positioned to boost the American economy, by investing their wealth and creating jobs.

“Are we looking for the people? Or are we looking for the money?” said William Cook, former general counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service under President George H.W. Bush when Congress created the EB-5 visa program.

“In the end, the simple truth is the government is looking for the money. And that may unfortunately exclude people who can no longer afford it, even if they may be the best people in the world.”

During his lunch break at a Pizza Hut in one of Beijing’s ubiquitous shopping malls, Li, a 38-year-old civil engineer, explained the draw of the EB-5 investor visas for upwardly mobile Chinese without vast inherited fortunes.

“There are a lot of ways to immigrate to America, but this EB-5 program is the easiest,” said Li, who invested in a Miami residential skyscraper under construction.

The only requirement is cash. Unlike other immigration visas, one does not need to have relatives in the United States or have any extraordinary ability, educational degree or professional achievement.

The EB-5 program became attractive to U.S. real estate developers after the 2008 financial crisis as a reliable source of cheap capital when bank loans were difficult to come by. The developers pay low annual interest on investments from EB-5 visa holders, typically just 4 to 8 percent compared with 12 to 18 percent for conventional financing. After authorities confirm that the money has created at least 10 American jobs, a visa holder will be eligible for permanent residency — and to recoup his or her investment.

“It is good to own some U.S. dollars as the U.S. economy recovers from the financial crisis,” Li said.

Far from being scions of China’s ruling class, Li and his wife, a customer service representative at a Beijing real estate company, earn about $100,000 a year. That is well above average for Beijing but not in the ranks of the wealthiest elites.

They were able to scrounge up the $500,000 by selling a four-bedroom house on the outskirts of Beijing that Li’s parents had helped him buy a decade ago. (It is common in China for parents to help their children, especially sons, buy homes.)

The family of three rents a modest, two-bedroom high-rise apartment in a middle-class compound in the southwestern part of China’s sprawling capital city. Although home ownership is prized among Chinese as a secure financial investment, Li and Qi said they view renting as a sacrifice for the sake of their son, Oscar.

The couple, who married in 2014, said they committed to immigrating during their ­10-day honeymoon in California, where they soaked up the grandeur of Yosemite National Park, visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and even checked out the University of California at Los Angeles.

“We went to America to vacation with the purpose of understanding the country,” said Li, whose notions about the United States came only from movies and television news. “The values of independence, equality, freedom and democracy have attracted me deeply. I was already hoping to raise our child there.”

Qi, also 38, said they knew then that they needed to find a way for their future child to study in America.

“Everyone hopes their children can get the best education, and the best education is in the United States,” she said. “There are too many people in China, and the competition is fierce, so all they do is study, study, study.”

Chasing the American Dream

Of the 8,500 EB-5 visas issued in 2016, 82 percent went to investors from mainland China, according to the State Department. A decade ago, Chinese nationals accounted for just 12 percent of such visas.

Chinese immigration brokers say upper-middle-class investors have flocked to the program in recent years as their incomes increased and their real estate appreciated.

But that route to the United States may soon close for families such as Li and Qi.

Congressional authorization for the EB-5 visa expires in September, and lawmakers, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, are weighing new rules that could raise investment requirements from $500,000 to as much as $1.35 million.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who assailed the investor visa as “citizenship for sale” to the wealthiest bidders, has introduced a bill with Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) to scrap the program.

Legislators who have long agitated for change were further riled in May after one of Kushner’s sisters pitched a New Jersey luxury apartment project managed by the family’s real estate company to potential Chinese investors in Beijing.

Such sales presentations by U.S. developers seeking to woo Chinese investors are common, immigration brokers say. But the Kushner Companies event drew criticism for attempting to cash in on Kushner’s White House connections. One speaker advised those in attendance to invest early — under the “old rules” requiring $500,000 — in case regulations change under President Trump, Kushner’s ­father-in-law.

Michael Short, a White House spokesman, told The Washington Post that the Trump administration is “evaluating wholesale change of the EB-5 program,” including “exploring the possibility of raising the price of the visa.”

The uncertainty has prompted a scramble among some Chinese investors, said Jerry Liu, an immigration consultant in Beijing.

“Right now, the market is really hot, and more people can afford it because of China’s growing economy,” Liu said. “Everyone in China has the American Dream.”

Because of a cap on the number of visas by nationality, Chinese applicants must wait seven to 10 years from the time they invest to when they secure green cards, Liu said. The program has a big backlog; until 2015, the wait time was five years.

That has prompted parents, worried about their children turning 21 and aging out of the visa program before their green cards are approved, to start applying years before their children reach high school.

About a third of Chinese applicants are even applying in their teenage children’s names, anticipating that their green cards would not be available until they are adults and can move to the United States on their own, said Ronnie Fieldstone, a Miami attorney representing developers and Chinese immigration agents involved in EB-5 projects.

Li and Qi are relieved to have gotten in line before the United States changes the investment rules.

The Miami development they invested in is slated to be finished in early 2019, according to Paramount Miami Worldcenter, the developer. Construction is complete for 12 of its 60 stories. More than 60 percent of the luxury condominium’s 500 units have sold.

Once the U.S. government approves the family’s petition, they will receive two-year conditional green cards.

The couple have already researched housing and schools in Los Angeles, where they hope to settle. And they are exposing Oscar, 21 months old, to English through nursery songs. He is learning the alphabet and likes to sing a counting song about catching fish.

“We hope to be in America,” Qi said, “by the time our son finishes elementary school.”

This story was reported during a fellowship sponsored by the East-West Center, a nonprofit funded by Congress and private donors to foster understanding between the United States and Asia.

Louisiana Police Officer Sues Black Lives Matter Leaders Over Baton Rouge Shooting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

Louisiana Police Officer Sues Black Lives Matter Leaders Over Baton Rouge Shooting

Jul 07, 2017

A Louisiana police officer who was wounded in a Baton Rouge shooting last year that left three officers dead sued Black Lives Matter leaders on Friday, claiming they incited violence that prompted the attack.

Filed in a U.S. district court in Louisiana, the lawsuit names DeRay McKessonand four other leaders from Black Lives Matter as defendants and seeks at least $75,000 in damages, Reuters reports.

The attack on the police officers occurred last July, amid protests in Baton Rouge over the death of Alton Sterling, a black man who was killed by police.

Black Lives Matter leaders have denied their movement calls for violence against police officers, Reuters reports.

Gavin Long, the black gunman who killed the Baton Rouge police officers and was later killed at the scene, was targeting police and had a history of making violent and incendiary posts online.

The unnamed officer who filed the lawsuit was one of three officers injured in the shooting. The lawsuit comes on the one-year anniversary of a sniper attack in Dallas, in which five police officers were killed during a demonstration against police shootings of black men.

President’s Trump, Jingping, Putin: When Habitual Liars Are Lying To Each Other, Destruction Follows

 

Truth troubles, yes it is the name that I chose for this blog about five years ago when I started it and for reasons like today’s article is a good example why. Our Lord Jesus told us that “no liar shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven” yet we are also told that we should all “pray for our leaders”, yet what do we do when our leaders are habitual liars to their own people and to the whole world? Here in the U.S. the majority of our Congressmen and Senators have a ‘Law’ background. You would think that if a Lawyer or Judge wished for such a position that they were seeking the political office to help make sure that the Government was performing their job in a Constitutional manner. Unfortunately it seems that these people use their Law education to find ways around the Constitution to bring themselves more riches. Here in the States new Lawyers are required to take what I have long called the ‘Hypocrites’ Oath. So, to me it seems fitting that such people become politicians. I do not know how other Countries obtain their Politicians ‘Chairs’ but it does seem that ‘Truth’ is a worldwide issue/problem for almost all political figures.

 

In November of 2016 ‘We The People’ here in the U.S. basically only had the option of choosing which one of two habitual liars we were going to vote in as our next President. Basically we had to choose between two people that seems incapable to being honest. I am an Independent voter whom chose a ‘Third Party’ candidate, I chose him not because I thought he could win, but because I just couldn’t choose Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump and the main reason was because of their constant lies. For those who chose Mr. Trump they are now seeing just how big of a constant liar he is. Mr. Trump lies so often that he has proven that he can’t remember what lies he told from one day to the next, yet Hillary is certainly is no better.

 

The U.S. does not have a monopoly on lying/crooked people in positions of power as recent events in South Korea and Brazil have proven quite well. There should be no shock or dismay that Countries who have Dictators such as Venezuela, North Korea, Russia and China are also plagued with ‘Leaders’ who say what ever is ‘convenient’ for their own agenda. I am going to bring up the issue of North Korea today because of the huge lies that President Putin of Russia but mainly President Xi Jingping of China have been telling the world. As most people in the wired world know, the world has a problem with the crazy little fat boy with the bad haircut in North Korea. This week Mr. Kim fired an ICBM just before the G-20 Summit started in Germany. North Korea’s missile program has been getting much better, much faster than the UN was aware of. This missile used technology that undoubtedly came from China, they also used a launching pad system that was Chinese.

 

Just before this latest missile was launched by North Korea China’s President Xi Jingping visited Moscow and President Putin, what a coincident that he was there when the ICBM was fired. President Trump has been trying to get China to enforce tougher sanctions on North Korea because they are not only neighbors they are North Korea’s financial lifeline. Russia also shares a border with North Korea but they do not have the financial clout there like China does. President Jingping has said that they are cracking down on North Korea this year as the UN has requested all nations to do yet Mr. Jingping has been lying to the world about China’s policies with the North Korean government. Last month the U.S. put sanctions on a large Bank in China who has been laundering billions of dollars into and out of North Korea. Now the UN is saying that during the first three months of this year that China has increased their exports with them by 37.4%. Mr. Trump used the figure of 40% so I guess he was just rounding up.

 

The problems that the different Nations are having with each other is not at all the fault of the people of these Countries, it is the Leaders who are causing the problems that the world is facing. Mr. Jingping and his Communist Party leadership as well as Mr. Putin in Russia are playing a strategy to make the U.S. as weak as possible because they have the intent of filling that power vacuum. China’s government seems to believe that all of the Countries that are anywhere near China belong to China. Mr. Putin seems to have dreams of reforming Russia back into the Soviet Union. To make a long story short I believe that the governments of China and Russia if North Korea is able to strike as many Democracy’s as possible with Nukes as well as Iran doing the same thing. They know that the U.S. would strike back at North Korea and Iran and not at China or Russia. This is why they are trying to delay any U.S. strikes on North Korea so that they and Iran can have the time to build their Nuke programs and it appears there is no doubt that China is helping North Korea to reach that level, they are very obviously not hindering them. In other words Presidents Jingping and Putin are just like Mr. Trump in that they are professional liars, they are like three brothers from different mothers. The difference in this threesome is that Presidents Jingping and Putin are very smart and they are playing the Western Democracies for fools as they are using the gullible egomaniac Trump like an out of tune fiddle. It is a sad thing for the human race that these three have such Truth Troubles. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

No Ethics At The White House From The Top Down: Federal Ethics Chief Resigns

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Federal ethics chief who clashed with White House announces he will step down

 Play Video 2:34
One of Trump’s most persistent ethics critics just resigned
The head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter M. Shaub Jr., announced his resignation on July 6. Here’s a look at Shaub’s battles with the Trump administration. (Video: Monica Akhtar, Jenny Starrs/Photo: Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
 July 6 at 2:10 PM
The director of the independent Office of Government Ethics, who has been the federal government’s most persistent critic of the Trump administration’s approach to ethics, announced Thursday that he is resigning nearly six months before his term is scheduled to end.Walter M. Shaub Jr. repeatedly challenged the Trump administration, publicly urging President Trump to fully divest from his business empire and chastising a senior Trump adviser for violating ethics rules. His outspokenness drew the ire of administration officials and earned him near-cult status among Trump’s opponents. Fans started a Facebook page in his honor, and his name has occasionally appeared on posters at anti-Trump protests.

Shaub made no reference to those clashes in a resignation letter he posted Thursdayindicating he will step down July 19. Instead, he praised the work of federal ethics officials, pointedly noting their commitment to “protecting the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”

In an interview, Shaub said he was not leaving under pressure, adding that no one in the White House or the administration pushed him to leave. But the ethics chief said he felt that he had reached the limit of what he could achieve in this administration, within the current ethics framework.

“It’s clear that there isn’t more I could accomplish,” he said.

Shaub is set to take a new job as senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy group founded by Trevor Potter, who served as a Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission. Shaub said he hopes to find bipartisan solutions to strengthening government ethics programs at the federal and state levels.

“In working with the current administration, it has become clear that we need to strengthen the ethics program,” he said.

Created in 1978, the ethics office is designed to promote and protect laws intended to prevent conflicts of interest by government officials. The office offers ethics guidance and training for government officials and oversees employees’ annual disclosure of personal finances, but it has limited enforcement authority.

Directors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate to five-year terms — a length of time intended to give the office independence by ensuring director’s terms overlap presidential administrations.

Shaub’s departure is likely to spur a sense of anxiety among ethics officials and critics of the president who viewed him as one of the few federal officials who had been willing to speak out when he viewed the administration departing from past ethics norms. Trump allies cast him as a grandstander and noted he had been appointed by President Barack Obama.

Upon Shaub’s departure, the ethics office’s chief of staff, Shelley K. Finlayson, is expected to assume the role of acting director, although Trump could appoint another senior OGE official to serve temporarily until he chooses a permanent replacement. In 2014, Shaub described Finlayson as “a tireless advocate for OGE’s mission” and praised “her reliably cool judgment.”

Shaub, who before his appointment had served in other roles at OGE and as a lawyer at other federal agencies dating to 1997, was named OGE’s director by Obama in 2013 and had been scheduled to serve until January.

Norman Eisen, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under Obama, called Shaub “one of the great public servants of the executive branch.”

“He clearly feels that given this administration’s failings that there is no more that he can do,” Eisen said, adding, “In his own understated and nonpartisan way, this is a protest resignation.”

Shaub’s willingness to challenge the Trump administration was apparent even before Inauguration Day.

The first sign that he would be outspoken with his concerns came on the morning of Nov. 30, when the official OGE Twitter account erupted in a storm of nine tweets sent over three minutes that appeared to mimic Trump’s bombastic tweeting style, urging the president-elect to separate himself from his business.

“.@realDonaldTrump OGE is delighted that you’ve decided to divest your businesses. Right decision!” read one tweet.

“.@realDonaldTrump OGE applauds the ‘total’ divestiture decision. Bravo!” read another.

Trump had in fact made no such decision. The tweets appeared designed to use Trump’s own tactics of praise and flattery to urge him do so. Internal OGE emails later released through public information requests showed that Shaub himself had drafted the notes and directed that they be sent.

When Trump announced on Jan. 11 that he would retain ownership of his business, merely transferring management to his adult sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., Shaub aired his concerns in an unusually public address at the Brookings Institution. He denounced the plan as “wholly inadequate” and insisted Trump should place his assets in a fully blind trust over which his family would have no control, to prevent him from making money from decisions he enacted as president.

“The ethics program starts at the top,” he said. “We can’t risk creating the perception that government officials will use their positions for personal profit.”

In March, Shaub chided the White House over its failure to discipline senior aide Kellyanne Conway after she urged viewers on Fox News to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” a reference to the apparel line owned by the president’s daughter. Federal law prohibits government employees from endorsing brands or products.

The White House said Conway had been speaking in a “light, off-hand manner” and was unlikely to violate the rule again. In a letter, Shaub responded that failing to take action against a senior official risked “undermining the ethics program.”

More recently, Shaub has clashed with the White House over his efforts to gather data about former lobbyists and other federal appointees who had been granted waivers to ethics rules allowing them to interact with their former employers while serving in the White House or at federal agencies.

The Office of Management and Budget had tried to block Shaub’s request for copies of the waivers, prompting him to pen a scathing 10-page letter refusing to back down, writing that the OGE expected federal agencies to comply with the request. “Public confidence in the integrity of government decision making demands no less,” Shaub wrote.

subscribe
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.

Ultimately, the White House released the documents as Shaub had demanded. They showed 17 appointees had been granted waivers to ethics rules to allow them to serve in the White House, including four lobbyists.

But Shaub has continued to agitate over the issue, particularly an undated and unsigned waiver allowing all White House officials to interact with the news media. The ruling means that chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon can communicate with editors at Breitbart, the conservative publication he used to run.

“There’s no such thing as a retroactive waiver,” Shaub said last month, promising to keep pressing the White House on the issue.

Shaub said Thursday said that his new post at the Campaign Legal Center would provide a platform to work on improving ethics rules in a nonpartisan environment, adding that he did not want to lose the opportunity by waiting until the end of his term.

In a statement, Potter said that it is imperative to “sustain a culture of high ethical standards in our government” and that Shaub would help the group “protect and improve our democracy.”

NPR Draws Online Ire After Tweeting ‘Declaration Of Independence’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS AND THE AP)

NPR Draws Online Ire After Tweeting ‘Declaration Of Independence’

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — National Public Radio marked the Fourth of July by tweeting the entire Declaration of Independence, but it seems some Twitter users didn’t recognize what they were reading.

The broadcaster tweeted out the words of the declaration line-by-line Tuesday.

Some of the founders’ criticisms of King George III were met with angry responses from supporters of President Donald Trump, who seemed to believe the tweets were a reference to his presidency.

One tweet read, “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

Another said: “and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”A Twitter user accused NPR of condoning violence while trying to sound patriotic. The user apologized after the misunderstanding was pointed out. Tweets like that one drew a snarky reply from comedy writer Chris Regan.

Another user asked if the tweet was talking about the U.S. current foreign agenda, asking if Americans were the tyrants.

Others were under the impression NPR was trying to provoke Trump with the tweets and praised the outlet for doing so. Many, recognizing it was the Declaration of Independence, said how history is repeating itself.

NPR broadcast its annual reading of the declaration for the 29th straight year on Independence Day. This is the first year the tradition has been extended to Twitter.

In addition to the text of the document, NPR also tweeted the names of the men who signed the declaration, listing them by colony.

Delaware
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

Spokeswoman Allyssa Pollard says the tweets were shared by thousands of people and generated “a lively conversation.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

This blog, trouthtroubles.com is owned, written, and operated by oldpoet56. All articles, posts, and materials found here, except for those that I have pressed here from someone else’s blog for the purpose of showing off their work, are under copyright and this website must be credited if my articles are re-blogged, pressed, or shared.

—Thank You, oldpoet56, T.R.S.

Daughter of a bookstore Owner

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

18Megapixel

© Michael Soriano Photography

AriseShine

You Are Not Created By GOD To Fail

olumuyiwa7777

ImpactingTheWorld4GOD

BE KITSCHIG

Be nice. Be green. Be kitschig.

Jama's Alphabet Soup

An Eclectic Feast of Food, Fiction, Folderol and Chewy Culinary Verse

Jedi by Knight

A nerdy girl blog

%d bloggers like this: