Month: June 2019

About 80 percent of world lives in areas where religious freedom is ‘highly restricted,’ report says

Pastor Andrew Brunson, jailed in Turkey, was released. Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, was set free. But sadly, their stories are not the norm — religious persecution is on the rise around the globe, according to a new report from the U.S. government that points to Iran, Russia, and China as some of the worst abusers. The Trump Administration puts religious freedom as a big part of its foreign policy, and Pompeo announced the State Department elevated the Office of International Religious Freedom, along with the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, within the organization, giving them more staff and resources. Pompeo called the 2018 International Religious Freedom Report “a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes, violent extremist groups, and individual citizens.” While there have been significant improvements, the majority of the world is facing rising religious persecution, with nearly 80 percent of the world’s population living in areas where the right to religious freedom is highly restricted. “For all those that run roughshod over religious freedom, I’ll say this: The United States is watching and you will be held to account,” Pompeo said. “History will not be silent about these abuses but only if voices of liberty like ours record it.” While some countries have shown improvements, like Uzbekistan, which for the first time in 13 years is no longer designated as a “country of particular concern,” persecution in other countries has grown. “In Iran, the regime’s crackdown on the Baha’is, Christians, and others continue to shock the conscience. In Russia, Jehovah’s Witnesses were absurdly and abhorrently branded as terrorists, as authorities confiscated their property and then threatened their families. In Burma, Rohingya Muslims continue to face violence at the hands of the military. Hundreds of thousands have fled or been forced to live in overcrowded refugee camps,” Pompeo said. “And in China, the government’s intense persecution of many faiths – Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists among them is the norm. The Chinese Communist Party has exhibited extreme hostility to all religious faiths since its founding. The party demands that it alone be called God.” The Trump Administration launched the International Religious Freedom Fund, which has received millions of dollars to support victims of persecution. “We will not stop until we see the iron curtain of religious persecution come down,” said Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. At the same time, the United States could not secure religious freedom alone, he continued, “we need everyone’s help; everyone has a stake in the fight.” Pompeo said he hopes conditions improve leading up to the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, where 1,000 leaders have been invited.

Trump: U.S., China to resume trade talks ‘where we left off’

The U.S. will not impose new tariffs on China as the mega-powers restart trade talks that fell apart in May, President Trump said Saturday, signaling a freeze in an economic war that’s rattled investors, farmers and consumers alike. Mr. Trump said Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to resume talks “where we left off,” with guardrails in place. “We’re holding on tariffs and they’re going to buy farm products. They would like to make a deal, I can tell you that,” Mr. Trump said in a lengthy press conference at the end of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. Tariffs that Mr. Trump already slapped on China will remain in place for now. What to do about Huawei, a Chinese tech company effectively blacklisted by the U.S., will wait until the end of talks, though Mr. Trump said they agreed to let American companies sell components to the controversial firm. “Huawei is a very complicated situation,” Mr. Trump said. “We agreed to leave that.” It’s unclear if American and Chinese negotiators will be able to strike an accord, given complex hurdles, though both sides agreed not to heighten tensions. “China and the United States both benefit from cooperation, and lose in a confrontation,” Mr. Xi said. “Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation.” Mr. Trump discussed the way forward after a two-day summit that focused on trade, climate change and women’s empowerment in the economy. Mr. Trump took questions from reporters for over an hour at a closing press conference. He then hopped on Air Force One for Osan Air Force Base in South Korea..

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America still loves Chick-fil-A more than any other fast-food chain

Once again, Chick-fil-A has been named America’s favorite restaurant based on customer satisfaction. For the fourth year in a row, the fast-food chain topped the American Customer Satisfaction Index for limited-service restaurant chains. The index is based on results from nearly 23,000 consumers. Chick-fil-A scored an 86 on the ASCI’s 100-point scale, which is down one point from last year, Forbes reports. For comparison, McDonald’s scored a 69, Burger King a 76 and KFC a 78. Taco Bell scored a 75. Meanwhile, in regard to pizza places, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s both scored 80 points, with Domino’s at 79 and Little Caesars at just 77. Chick-fil-A said, “We are honored by the ranking and grateful to our customers for choosing Chick-fil-A, it’s truly our pleasure to serve them. Our commitment to serving great food with gracious hospitality started more than 50 years ago with our founder’s first restaurant. Today, the more than 145,000 individuals who represent the brand in 2,400 restaurants make honors like this possible by continuing his commitment to service.” Chick-fil-A’s high ranking can be attributed to several factors, including the company’s famous customer service training. Business Insider reports that the restaurant was named America’s most polite chain in QSR Magazine’s annual report. This isn’t the only piece of good news for Chick-fil-A. The chain is expected to become the third bestseller fast-food chain in America, Fox 5 reports. It’s expected to jump past Taco Bell, Burger King and Wendy’s, based on a study conducted by Kalinowski Equity Research. Making this an even more impressive feat is the fact that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, while almost all of its competition is open seven days a week.

Congrats to Chick-fil-A!  Excellent!!    🙂

Supreme Court invalidates part of law aimed at preventing gun violence

The Supreme Court on Monday invalidated a key part of a law designed to prevent gun violence, saying it left too much leeway for judges to decide what constituted a violent crime. In a 5-4 ruling the justices said Congress was too vague when it tried to slap extra penalties on people who used guns while committing a “crime of violence.” “In our constitutional order, a vague law is no law at all. Only the people’s elected representatives in Congress have the power to write new federal criminal laws,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote in the court’s opinion. The ruling could lead to thousands of new appeals from people convicted under the vague law, prosecutors warned. The case involved two men who were convicted of a string of robberies. They carried firearms during the crimes, which earned them heightened sentences under the Gun Control Act, which kicks in for cases of a “crime of violence or drug trafficking crime.” The statute said crimes of violence are those where physical force is used or threatened against a person or property. But the justices have long grappled with what, exactly, meets that definition. In a series of cases Justice Gorsuch, joined by the court’s four Democratic-appointed justices, has ruled it’s too tough to say what falls under the law. “Vague statutes threaten to hand responsibility for defining crimes to relatively unaccountable police, prosecutors, and judges, eroding the people’s ability to oversee the creation of the laws they are expected to abide,” Justice Gorsuch wrote. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, writing the dissent joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, said the law was successful, and should have remained in place. “Many factors have contributed to the decline of violent crime in America. But one cannot dismiss the effects of state and federal laws that impose steep punishments on those who commit violent crimes with firearms,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. John Marti, a former federal prosecutor now practicing at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm, said the decision will lead to a “title wave” of appeals from defendants convicted under the statute now struck down. “Today the Supreme Court eliminated this powerful tool for federal prosecutors in combating violent crime, by finding that the statute is unconstitutionally vague by using the phrase ‘crime of violence,’” Mr. Marti said.

Toys R Us to reopen stores in the US later this year: report

Toys R Us Opens a New Window. is expected to reopen stores just in time for the 2019 holiday season. Though the toy retailer closed down Opens a New Window. last year, Toys R Us is expected to launch an e-commerce site and several stores in the U.S. later this year, according to Bloomberg Opens a New Window. The new stores are expected to be about a third of the size of traditional Toys R Us outlets, but with play areas and other experiences, the outlet reported. To reduce costs, the stores could use a consignment inventory model, where the company would be able to return items that aren’t sold, Bloomberg reported. A former executive of the company, Richard Barry, has been trying to bring back the chain by pitching his ideas out to toy makers, sources told the outlet. Barry is now the CEO of Tru Kids, Inc., a new company that took over the Toys R Us brand earlier this year. “Effective January 20, 2019, the new company, Tru Kids Inc. doing business as Tru Kids Brands, became the proud parent of Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Geoffrey and more than 20 established consumer toy and baby brands,” Tru Kids Brands said in a press release in February. The new company will be led by Barry, the former Toys R Us global chief merchandising officer, as well as other experienced toy executives. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys R Us by launching a newly imagined omnichannel retail experience for our beloved brands here in the U.S.,” Barry said in a statement announcing the plans. Barry added that despite unprecedented efforts to capture the U.S. market share this past holiday season by other retailers, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand that has been left behind by the demise of Toys R Us. He said that both brands still remain powerful in the marketplace and continue to have brand affinity and loyalty with more than 9.5 million followers across their social media channels. Barry told The Associated Press that while he and his team are still working out all the details on when and how the brand will re-emerge, they do plan to officially relaunch in some form by this holiday season. He also said that e-commerce will play a key role in the brand’s future. In September 2017, Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 reorganization and later liquidated its business last March after falling prey to several billions in debt and tough competition from online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. Tru Kids will be headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, about a 20-minute drive from Wayne, New Jersey, where Toys R Us was previously based.

Drug costs are ‘absolutely’ dropping and ‘much more is coming,’ HHS Secretary Alex Azar says

 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday said drug costs are “absolutely” coming down. “For the first time in 46 years, last year, the official measure of prescription drug pricing went down. We saved tax payers $26 billion just in the first 18 months of this administration from our generic drug approvals – we are charging ahead – we are getting drug prices down and much more is coming,” he told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney. President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Monday on health care price transparency. Although Azar remained silent on what the exact policy will be, he said, “The president did say recently that something big was coming in the next couple of weeks of health care and I would take him at his word.” Azar also said that he sent a letter to the White House Friday morning on proposed regulations to set up an international pricing index regime to decrease the price of drugs in the U.S. President Trump last year took measures to end “foreign free riding” by other nations in a Medicare price revamp.

Holocaust survivors respond to AOC’s ‘concentration camp’ comments in new video

Two holocaust survivors responded to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s concentration camp comments earlier this month, and their feelings were resoundingly negative. AOC, D-N.Y., faced backlash for comparing border detention facilities to concentration camps during a June 17 Instagram broadcast and drew criticism from her own party. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, came out against her comments and called her “wrong” for comparing “entirely different realities.” “I respect her greatly and I feel very close to her in terms of philosophy, but of course she was wrong,” he said. “You cannot compare — what the Nazis did in concentration camps, unfortunately, is without any historical — I mean, it’s a horrible moment in history. There is no way to compare.” The two Holocaust survivors, Sami Steigmann and David Tuck, sat for an interview with Turning Point USA and said AOC’s comments were ignorant and full of hubris. “AOC — look at me. My name is Sami Steigmann. I am a holocaust survivor. I went through it. How can you — looking at my face, telling me that the camps we have in the South are concentration camps? What you are doing is you are insulting every victim of the Holocaust. Shame on you!” Steigmann said. “I’m not only a Holocaust survivor, I was in a labor camp … I was subjected to medical experiments and, later on, a German woman saved my life, when I came to the stage of dying of starvation.” Tuck, who has been through four concentration camps, said AOC’s comments were purely political and don’t reflect reality. “My name is David Tuck. I’m a holocaust survivor. I was in four concentration camps. We have no concentration camps [in America],” he said. “This is just a political comment. She’s in politics. She’s looking out for herself. There must be a purpose, a reason. Why would she say it? She wants to be popular? You can’t be popular by annihilating other people. Don’t talk to me about concentration camps,” he continued. Tuck went on to describe his experience in the camps, including the infamous Auschwitz camp in Poland and called America the greatest country in the world.

AOC is an offensive, self-righteous, disgusting, moron.  Glad to see these actual, real, courageous concentration camp survivors calling her out on her outrageous bs.  To see the video of these two great men, and/or read the rest of the article, click on the text above.