Sandra Ikeji, younger sister of popular celebrity blogger, Linda Ikeji, traditionally tied the knot with her boo in a lavish traditional wedding which took place on the 28th of December in Imo state.
Few days after the ceremony, Sandra has taken to her social media account to slander the caterer she contracted for her wedding.
@_amandagracescatering has the worse food ever..run as fast as you can from this caterer. Don’t book her, sour rice, salty afang, overly salted plantain, tasteless chicken. Bad service @_amandagracescatering go back to culinary or catering school, you need it. Don’t be decieved by the look of her food, it is tasteless. Post & delete. Worse caterer in the East @_amandagracescatering. Always a good to have a backup caterer. Thank God my mom had another caterer. When I complained she blamed her bad food on her coolers, her own coolers o.
Sandra was really ready to damage every good reputation of the catering service but they replied to the post with their own part of the story.
Dear @sandraikeji, blocking you is the least of our worries but I believe God will vindicate me. You even had a balance of 60k to complete which I let go off after u said it should be a bonus which was not part of our initial agreement. I cooked all your dishes as you requested and u even hurried me up to come to your venue as early before 12noon. When I got to your house, your mom tasted all the dishes and packed some inside your house, there was no complain whatsoever from her. My team and I sat at ur house after displaying food in the buffet till past 5pm before food was served because you started your occasion very late, because fried rice doesn’t stay that long after its been tampered with, it got sour and wasn’t served which we deeply apologized for. Every other dish was served and we carried empty coolers home.
You called me the next day to say your asheobi girls were purging and that I should give u back your money? Who does that? What will happen to the empty coolers of food I took home? How about other guests that was served? You mean I should refund u in totality because your asheobi girls said they were purging and they didn’t like the food?
Calling me out on social media because you’re famous so you’ll spoil my growing business will not shake me. I have cooked for several couples and no one has complained that all my dishes are very horrible as you have just said because I refused to refund you. Well, God is still God and he will vindicate me. Happy married life.
Ps: everybody who has tasted our food should Pls come out and debunk this false story
Nigeria News | Laila’s Blog
Grace Ajilore is pregnant – Shocked Nigeria twitter users react
Following the announcement of her pregnancy, Nigerian vlogger Grace Ajilore has caused a stir on social media.
While some have congratulated her for getting set to start a family, some Twitter users are accusing her of hypocrisy, shocked, that the woman who has been preaching that ‘men are trash’ could become pregnant.
The vlogger who is known for her videos in which she advises ladies on knowing their self-worth and not settling for men who mistreat them, left many people pleasantly surprised and others in shock with the news of her pregnancy.
The vlogger who is currently trending online is being dragged for apparently what many people believe is her misleading women into thinking all men are bad for them.
Linda Ikeji preached celibacy so tey, she FELL pregnant, Glory Osei was forming feminist that hates men only to realize that she is married. Now, Grace Ajilore that is always setting standards and screaming “Men are scum” is pregnant. The internet is a very interesting place.
— Upcoming fashion designer. (@EllabyOJ) December 15, 2019
Grace Ajilore too is pregnant??? I thought she’s a virgin. Team No Penis needs to explain whats going on in their camp.
— B h a d o o s k y (@BhadmusAkeem) December 16, 2019
Grace A : "Men are scum, they dont deserve you queens"
Minions: "Yassss Quenn!! no men 2019, we deserve better"
If u’ve been watching Grace Ajilore on IG with her facial expressions, accents & goofiness yet still came to the conclusion that she’s a bitter woman who hates men, then ur brain is probably filled with hair relaxer.
That lady that reminds me of Bovi? Lol, u twitter pple are mad
— Adunni Adaora Achebe (@Adunni_Achebe) December 16, 2019
Grace Ajilore didn’t sha say men are scum. She said do not be with men who treat you like trash, who don’t care about you and who don’t treat you right. Y’all carried it as men are scum because that’s how plenty of you are or that’s how the men in your life are.
— Chemical Brother 👌 (@chemicalbrodar) December 16, 2019
Grace Ajilore didn’t sha say men are scum. She said do not be with men who treat you like trash, who don’t care about you and who don’t treat you right. Y’all carried it as men are scum because that’s how plenty of you are or that’s how the men in your life are.
— Chemical Brother 👌 (@chemicalbrodar) December 16, 2019
Grace Ajilore specifically said don’t be with a man who does not care about you. Fling him in the bin specifically. https://t.co/mmjU6Onz9V
— 𝓤 (@UnravelingwithR) December 15, 2019
Grace Ajilore didn’t say don’t fall in love or whatever She said “know who u’re giving ur time to, don’t settle, place value on urself & set standards.” She talks about her man in her vlogs.I don’t know what all this ruckus is about now that she’s pregnant. Must one marry to….
— (Tough Cookie) Phoenix (@TheHadassahh) December 15, 2019
If you’re dragging Grace Ajilore coz you think her videos are bitter and man hating, there are two things involved-
-Your head is paining you, no oil, dry sense of humour.
-You were so desperate for anyone to validate your man hatred so you picked her as your Queen.
— Sansa Stark (@_Oroboghene) December 16, 2019
Wanna know grace ajilore like i just did..This is one of her videos bcuz when i see bitter,i condemn it bt this babe right here is all bantsss pic.twitter.com/SKSghxNxp3
By most measures, it would be absurd to call $1,515,000 for four walls of Sheetrock a bargain.
In Manhattan’s flagging real estate market, that was the median sale price of a two-bedroom apartment last quarter — an 8 percent drop from the same period last year, and the largest discount among studio to three-bedroom co-ops and condos, according to the brokerage Douglas Elliman. Only the four-bedroom-and-up market fell further, with a 17 percent drop.
After years of softness at the top, it is finally becoming a buyers’ market for people who intend to actually live and work in New York. Case in point: deep bargains across the wide spectrum of two-bedrooms, the most common apartment for sale in the city.
Median Sales Price by Size
Manhattan’s two-bedroom market had the largest discount among studio to three-bedroom co-ops and condos last quarter.
Source: Douglas Elliman
By The New York Times
Yes, prices are still out of reach for many New Yorkers, but there are increasing options for first-time and move-up buyers at far lower prices than the median sales price suggests. Coupled with historically low interest rates, two-bedroom buyers are stretching their dollars further with everything from income-restricted co-ops to shiny new condos.
Since the city’s real estate sales market peaked around 2016, observers have focused on the shrinking price tags of ultraluxury three- and four-bedroom apartments, thousands of which remain vacant and unsold. The causes are many: investor speculation, oversupply, shrinking tax breaks, rising transfer taxes, economic uncertainty and downright hubris.
The current declining prices in smaller apartments, though, represents a significant shift and the return of more reasonable pricing. Two-bedrooms made up 31.5 percent of Manhattan’s for-sale inventory last quarter, the most of any category, according to the Elliman report, and has long been the bread-and-butter of both developers and agents. The two-bedroom market accounted for half of all sales at one point in the 1990s, but in more recent years, the ultraluxury condo boom in Manhattan has prompted a move to bigger and more lavish apartments — many of which were targeted to investors and second-home buyers, said Jonathan Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants and author of the report.
Still, upgrading from a smaller apartment to a two-bedroom remains cost prohibitive for many New Yorkers, Mr. Miller said. Last quarter, it cost a median $685,000 more to move up from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom in Manhattan.
Those forces — too expensive for many move-up buyers, too small for the affluent jet set — have squeezed the two-bedroom market into an awkward position for many sellers, said Tyler Whitman, an agent with Triplemint and cast member on the reality series “Million Dollar Listing.”
“Twenty-five hundred options in the city is a lot of options,” he said, referring to an estimate of how many two-bedrooms are listed in Manhattan. Owners of standard cookie-cutter two-bedrooms would face the toughest challenge, he said.
Of course, the lower prices may be discounts without distinction for many New Yorkers. The median household income in Manhattan was $79,781 in 2017. Assuming a 20 percent down payment and spending 35 percent of their monthly income on a mortgage and additional housing costs, such a buyer could comfortably afford a $358,896 apartment, according to StreetEasy. Citywide, the household income was $57,782, enough for a $259,933 home.
To highlight potential bargains across the extensive two-bedroom market, we looked at income-restricted units for first-time buyers, prewar co-ops with deep discounts, new condos with back-end sweeteners, and options beyond Manhattan.
Many look to the glut of new high-rise, luxury condos for what ails the city’s real estate market, but ambitious pricing at the top also set unrealistic expectations in the comparatively modest co-op market.
“Sooner or later what was happening in the luxury market was likely to catch up with the two-bed market,” said Frederick Warburg Peters, the chief executive of Warburg Realty, who added that one-beds and small two-bedrooms have “sunk into the doldrums” since about four months ago.
Compared to the same period in the previous year, the median price of co-ops declined for the first time in 13 straight quarters, according to the Elliman report.
Frances Katzen, an agent with Douglas Elliman, recently listed in Sutton Place, on the east side of Manhattan, a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with plenty of natural light and prewar bona fides for $599,000 — a 20 percent markdown from its previous price of $750,000. Two years ago, it listed and languished on the market with another brokerage for $995,000.
“People are cannibalizing each other, to usurp a buyer from one another,” said Ms. Katzen, who believes the true value of the apartment is around $625,000 — but she listed lower in the hopes of standing out from a growing number of co-ops for sale.
The biggest discounts for two-bedroom resale apartments were downtown, south of 14th Street, where the median sales price fell 15 percent to $1,568,750 compared to the same quarter last year, according to the brokerage Halstead. Midtown had the second deepest discount for resales in that period, a 10 percent drop to $1,217,500.
Even among apartments specifically reserved for middle-income buyers in Housing Development Fund Corporation co-ops, prices have softened.
In Upper Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights, Allison Jaffe and Linda Mancini listed in October a $325,000 two-bedroom, one-bath apartment, 24 percent less than when it was listed earlier this year for $430,000 with another brokerage.
Because the apartment is in an H.F.D.C. co-op, there are income limits for buyers (up to $57,600 for a family of two, $67,200 for three or more), as well as restrictions at resale designed to keep the unit affordable.
“The phone’s been ringing every day,” said Ms. Mancini, who is an agent with Key Real Estate Services. So far they have had about 18 showings and six offers, she said.
The lower price was well advised. Upper Manhattan just had the fewest third-quarter sales of co-ops and condos in a decade, said Mr. Miller, the appraiser, in part because of a surge of new expensive inventory and ambitious resale pricing that followed.
One of the difficulties with H.D.F.C co-ops is that the income caps can leave buyers little room to save for a down payment. But with the price cut, they hope to have expanded the buyer pool for their listing, Ms. Jaffe said.
The city has about 28,500 H.D.F.C. units across 1,333 buildings, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. But there were only 230 income-restricted apartments listed for sale in the five boroughs as of late October, according to StreetEasy.
Two-bedrooms need not be million-dollar investments in New York, especially outside of Manhattan. In the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx, Daniel D’Amico of Damico Group Real Estate, is listing an 878-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in a 2006 condo for $349,000.
“What we’re seeing right now, in the Bronx at least, is the market is super hot,” Mr. D’Amico said. “If it’s priced right, it’s going to sell in the first week or so.” The apartment was listed in late September and already has an accepted offer, he said.
While sales volume is down across the city and prices are down in Manhattan, prices have been steadily rising in the other boroughs. In Queens, the number of sales dropped 7 percent compared to the same period last year, but the median sales price rose to $600,000, a recordsince at least 2003, according to a Douglas Elliman report. In Brooklyn, despite rising inventory and falling prices in the luxury segment, co-ops sold for a median $485,000, a new third-quarter record.
None of the major brokerages release boroughwide sales reports for the Bronx, the most affordable borough in the city, but its perception is changing, with a major development boom underway and a growing share of market-rate housing for sale.
Some of the most attractive deals for two-bedrooms can be found in new buildings, and for good reason: a glut of empty luxury condos. About 4,100 of 16,200 condo units completed since 2013, roughly one in four, remained unsold in September, according to an analysis of StreetEasy data.
Developers are loathe to lower their prices directly, in part because of obligations to lenders and for fear of devaluing the rest of their stock. Instead, buyers are getting discounts on the back end.
In East Harlem, Patricia Weber, a bio-tech start-up consultant, recently closed on a two-bedroom apartment at 1399 Park, a new 23-story condo tower, for $995,000. That was, ostensibly, the full asking price, but Ms. Weber’s agent, Rob Taub with CORE, also negotiated that the developer pay for her transfer taxes, a discount of about $25,000.
Ms. Weber, who is moving from Bucks County, Pa., had been considering a New York purchase for a decade, but only started looking in earnest six months ago. There was no shortage of choices, she said, but she and her husband liked the East Harlem building because of its attended lobby, its proximity to transit, and the neighborhood’s culture and restaurants. She will use the second bedroom as an office, because she works remotely.
The price is also notable, because it falls just short of triggering the so-called “mansion tax” on the purchase price of homes over $1 million. In July, the flat 1 percent tax was changed to a staggered rate of 1.25 percent for $2 million sales, and up to 3.9 percent above $25 million.
The changes spurred many buyers to close their purchases before the summer deadline, and as a result the pace of sales in the latest quarter plummeted, especially for larger, more expensive apartments. But the two-bedroom market was also affected, in part because they can cost well above $2 million, and even those below the new tax threshold suffered from negative market sentiment, agents said.
“I think, potentially, we’re near the bottom of the market for everything,” said Shaun Osher, the chief executive of CORE.
Stefano Ukmar for The New York Times
Elsewhere, new projects are offering far more than closing cost rebates. At One Manhattan Square, a new 815-unit skyscraper south of Chinatown, the developer Extell recently offered to pay for seven years of common charges on the purchase of a two-bedroom apartment. Two-beds make up about 40 percent of the inventory and prices for those now start around $2.1 million, which would mean more than $100,000 of forgiven common charges, paid for by the developer.
That promotion is no longer being offered, said Raizy Haas, a senior vice president with Extell, but “the truth is, we’re reasonable.” The developer is now testing a rarely seen model in luxury condos: rent-to-own plans, in which a tenant can apply the rent toward the purchase of the unit.
As of Oct 24., there were 209 closed sales at the building, or about a quarter of the total inventory, according to an updated StreetEasy analysis. Ms. Haas said there were “hundreds more that have not yet closed.”
How a discount is derived can vary, but increasingly, it’s becoming the rule in new development, said Mr. Peters of Warburg Realty.
“There’s practically nowhere where you can’t negotiate the price, and the transfer taxes, and the mansion tax, and the legal fees, and who knows what else,” he said. Where to draw the line in the sand is another thing.
“I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a client say ‘O.K., if I drop the price, can you guarantee me a quick sale?’ And my response is no,” he said. “All I can guarantee you is no sale, if you don’t.”
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The term “global village” was invented when the global reality was much less apparent. Today, I can read the The New York Times in real time in Oslo and Ottawa and Osaka just as easily as in the city of its publication. CNN brings the world to a global audience of viewers twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I have digital subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and a Norwegian newspaper, and I sometimes read German or British newspapers online. This makes me an exception: newspapers and magazines compete for a shrinking audience. Visual news, by contrast, like CNN or Fox, is ubiquitous. We cannot avoid them even if we try.
And the subject — in print or on the television screen? There is more than one, but the main subject is President Donald J. Trump. He is the new chief in the global village; he attracts an audience; he keeps it up, tweet after tireless tweet. For the last four years, in outlets like CNN or Fox, there has not been one twenty-four-hour news cycle that failed to mention candidate Trump and later President Trump. Indeed, for the last four years, there has hardly been a twenty-four-hour news cycle when he was not the main subject.
I do not plan to engage this subject broadly. My focus will be narrow, announced in the headline. “Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America Survive the Storm?”
Why do I ask the question, why do I pose it as a matter of survival, and why do I ask it now?
I have wondered about the impact of the political climate on the church on many occasions. A broad approach to my question would not be a waste of time, thinking particularly about the connection between the Sabbath and care for the world or the social conscience of the seventh day. Here, my focus will be narrow; it will have one issue only. While some issues can be discussed dispassionately as matters belonging to gray zones, my concern cannot be discussed dispassionately, and it does not belong to a zone where there are varying shades of gray. Some things are black or white. This is one of those things.
On October 10, 2019, the President of the United States of America traveled to Minneapolis to give a speech. The stands were filled with people, twenty thousand in all. Many were dressed in the colors signifying support for the president’s aspiration to “Make America Great Again.” The president’s speech lasted one hour and thirty minutes. About one hour into the speech, the president turned to talk about the Somali-born Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and the immigration and refugee resettlement programs that brought many Somalis to Minnesota.
Donald Trump: (54:16)
So in desperate attempt to attack our movement. Nancy and Chuck, two beauties, have given control of the Democrat party entirely over to the radical left, including Minnesota’s own representative Ilhan Omar. I know you people. I know you people. I know the people of Minnesota, and I want to tell you, and I also, at the same time, it’s both a question and a statement, how’d the hell did that ever happen? How did it happen? How did it happen? Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.
Donald Trump: (01:21:05)
Thank you very much. Thank you. Great people. Thank you. What a group. I think your very weak mayor made a mistake when he took them on. As you know, for many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers. I promised you that as president, I would give local communities a greater say in refugee policy, and put in place enhanced vetting and responsible immigration controls.
Donald Trump: (01:22:13)
And I’ve done that. Since coming into office, I have reduced refugee resettlement by 85%, and as you know, maybe especially in Minnesota, I kept another promise. I issued an executive action, making clear that no refugees will be resettled in any city or any state without the express written consent of that city or that state. So speak to your mayor. You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods, and that’s what you have the right to do right now.
Donald Trump: (01:23:12)
If Democrats were ever to seize power, they would open the floodgates to unvetted, uncontrolled migration at levels you have never seen before. Do you think you have it bad now? You would never have seen anything like what they want to do. But in the Trump administration, we will always protect American families first, and that has not been done in Minnesota.
What is the problem? The president is speaking about foreign-born generally non-White people who are already in the country, many of them by now American citizens, including Ilhan Omar. The speech was given in her district, in the same area where some fifty thousand Somali refugees are settled. They came there, the refugees have said, because they were well received and felt safe. And now? The President of the United States of America tracks them down in their neighborhood. He vilified one of them by name, twisting things she has said in the most negative manner. He accused her for minimizing the September 11 tragedy, charged to her “a history of launching virulent anti-Semitic screeds” before delving into her marital history. At the mention of “Somalis,” the president’s mostly white crowd broke out in boos — “in effect jeering their neighbors,” as one person present put it.
In better days, Ilhan Omar would be proof that America is a great country, the greatest there is. How she, a Somali-born refugee found a home in the United States, how she got an education, how she overcame obstacles to make herself into a person who exemplifies the best there is of diversity and opportunity in the U.S. In the president’s world, however, Omar is repeatedly thrashed. She has become one of the members of Congress targeted by the Trump-inspired chant, “Send her back!”
Let us leave Omar out, if need be, for the conversation to proceed without allowing allegations about her to distract us. Let us not leave out the other more than fifty thousand refugees of Somali descent now living in Minnesota. The president had a special line for the mayor of Minneapolis, saying that he showed weakness when he took the refugees in. (33:57) “Minneapolis, Minneapolis, you’ve got a rotten man. You’ve got to change your mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor. You’ve got a bad mayor.” And now the Somali refugees, who fled one of the most broken countries in the world. They are there, in Minnesota, on October 10 the target of a viscerally hostile speech by the president of their new homeland.
Others are there, too. I am now referring to the people in the stands. Let the president do the vilification of the Somalis by himself. It is not necessary to become his accomplice in disparaging a vulnerable group. It is not necessary to attend the rally. It is not necessary to cheer.
This is where the question of survival comes in. Will the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America survive this storm? Eighty percent of evangelical Christians support this man and his policies. Fifty percent of Catholic white males are said to support him. How high is the percentage among Seventh-day Adventists? Were Adventists in the audience in Minneapolis? Did Adventists cheer the part of the speech that singled out the refugees? One journal, secular, of course, had a fitting headline afterwards. “Trump’s Minneapolis Rally Was a Demonstration of the Moral Suicide Pact He’s Made with His Supporters.” The author, Jack Holmes, the political editor of Esquire magazine, does not want to be in on the moral suicide pact.
This is a virulently racist tirade aimed at ginning up the worst instincts of the people in the crowd. It is not a coincidence Trump chose to come here, or to target a refugee community that is black and Muslim. This is how he thinks he can win reelection: by continuing to pull his base of support towards more vitriolic expressions of this vision of America as a country for and by white people; by scaring other constituencies away from speaking out; by using the Republican Party’s machinations to stop inconvenient voters from voting; by smearing his opponents as Just As Bad As Him, They Just Pretend to Be Prim and Proper; by soliciting foreign meddling that will benefit him in exchange for favors when he is reelected.
“I know you people. I know you people,” the president said as he began the part about the refugees. What does he know about them? Does he seek to unleash some hidden, inner hostility that resonates with his sentiment, knowing that it is there? What does he know? One of Adolf Hitler’s critics in the German Reichstag said before voices like his fell silent — before the Reichstag went into a twelve-year de facto hibernation — that Hitler had an uncanny ability to spot and stir to life a person’s “inner swine.” Surely, the talk about the Somali refugees in Minnesota, in public, before a cheering audience, some of whom are next-door neighbors to the Somalis, could be an example of inner swines cut loose from moral restraint.
In what sense does this qualify as moral suicide, a term that is well chosen? I will offer three reasons.
First is the biblical perspective. In the Old Testament, the refugee has special status as an object of God’s protection. Who will not be inspired and humbled by a walk-through of some of these texts? Their thrust is not only an obligation to treat refugees and immigrants with respect. It goes deeper than that. Believers are called to see themselves in the other person — to remember that we are in the same boat: what they are, we used to be. This should be easy to do for people in Minnesota. The ancestors of many in that state were not refugees but economic migrants from Scandinavia and Germany, but they came as aliens.
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 22:21).
You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt (Exod. 23:9).
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien (Lev. 19:33).
Does it count as oppression when the president of your adopted country seeks you out in your back yard, there to call your mayor “a rotten person” for letting you in, there to make you be his foil for a vision of America that uses disdain for you to inspire them to be his supporters? Does it count as oppression when the speaker clearly intends to outsource to his audience to change the terms of the alien’s existence?
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God (Lev. 19:34).
You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance (Num. 15:16).
What is most impressive in these texts is the insistent, unprecedented, vociferous call to remember. Historical amnesia is a dangerous and ever-present risk. To counter the risk, Deuteronomy inscribes the memory of past oppression as a constituent of the believer’s present identity.
Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today (Deut. 15:15).
Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and diligently observe these statutes (Deut. 16:12).
You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land (Deut. 23:7).
Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this (Deut. 24:18).
There they are, the Edomites and the Egyptians. They are there, in the text, but they are here, too, in the neighborhood. Just look on the map to see how little has changed even though the world has expanded. Lucky ones, are they not, to have a verbal footprint left for them in the Bible, the people who are now coming from where the Edomites used to live (Syria, Iraq, Palestine) or from Egypt (close enough to Somalia to count).
It was part of the liturgy of these believers to rehearse their story over and over in assembly, to say the following out loud:
You shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous” (Deut. 26:5).
The wandering Aramean, of course, is Abraham. In the New Testament, he is the role model for believers in Jesus (Rom. 4:16). In one New Testament iteration, Abraham never ceases to be an itinerant. For such a person and for such an itinerant faith-identity, understanding and empathy for those on the outside will only be stronger.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:8-10).
For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14).
For anyone working with refugees and seeing their plight first-hand, it helps to ponder such a faith identity. To be a migrant or a resident alien, as a believer, is not a stage left behind, a distant chapter to remember. It is a stage — even a state — of present existence.
Second, we have a historical reason not to be part of the moral collapse playing out with respect to refugees and resident aliens. Now as then, at issue is not refugee status only. It is also minority status, ethnic, racial, or religious. Two immense historical realities obligate and inform us, the history of slavery and the Holocaust. Fifteen million Africans were brought to the New World against their will (not all of them to the US); six million Jews were gassed and cremated in the Nazi era. Might it be possible to see in the face of the Somalis seeking entrance the face of Africans who were forced to come against their will? Now they come willingly, in a state of need. Is this a time to shut the doors — or ever to shut them? Is there not still an unpaid debt from us to them, “us” the enslavers of European descent and “them” the enslaved?
And the Holocaust? It was “Not Long Ago, Not Far Away,” as an exhibit now on display in New York puts it. What happened had a toxic rhetorical antecedent. I am not suggesting that something on that scale is in the making today. But I am saying that there is a family resemblance at the level of rhetoric. I do not envision that today’s rhetoric will become tomorrow’s genocide. But yesterday’s genocide makes today’s rhetoric indecent, dangerous, and unconscionable even if it is only rhetoric. For a Somali minority in the US to be disparaged by the nation’s president with a crowd of mostly white Americans cheering him on is immoral because of what happened “Not Far Away, Not Long Ago.” We cannot go near it again; we cannot cheer except to put our souls in the gravest peril. Think of it this way, too: he speaks that way not to show us what he is like but because he thinks he knows what we are like.
I find sobering support for the unfinished work history teaches us to do in the recent book by the philosopher I admire the most. Susan Neiman says that “I began life as a white girl in the segregated South, and I am likely to end it as a Jewish woman in Berlin.” Her remarkable geographic, intellectual, and professional journey is as compelling as her message: the need for Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung, as they say it in German: the need for “working-off-the-past.” The spectacle in Minneapolis and other spectacles like it result, in Neiman’s story, “from America’s failure to confront its own history.”
Third, we have a special Seventh-day Adventist reason not to condone, participate in, or in any way engage in the conduct on display in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019. This has to do with our history and self-understanding. Early Adventists saw themselves called to proclaim a message of everlasting good news or, as I propose to translate it, “an eternally valid message” (Rev. 14:6). The target audience is broadly specified in Revelation. The message is to be proclaimed “to those who live on the earth — to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev. 14:6). There are no favorites here, no national or ethnic or tribal preference. The first angel in Revelation takes the stage with an equal opportunity proposition with respect to “those who live on the earth.”
When Adventist pioneers contemplated the scope of this commission, they took comfort in how they saw Providence at work in the American experience. Human beings from “every nation and tribe and language and people” had come to the United States! The mission could be accomplished here, in the New World, because God had raised up a nation of migrants and immigrants, of refugees and fortune seekers, in the New World. It would not be necessary to go to them. God had brought them to us; God brought them here.
This vision has since undergone a much-needed correction. They did not all come here; it was necessary to go there to be faithful to the commission. But the early perception should not be abandoned without a trace. Seventh-day Adventists have a special reason to be welcoming to people from other nations and tribes. Not so long ago it was a settled Adventist conviction that God had brought them here as an element in God’s eschatological vision for the nations. God — not simply destitution or need or hope or opportunity.
It is a global village now. We are all in on this. “Immigrants and refugees are welcome in Minneapolis,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey after the president’s visit. I am glad he did. According to the transcript, verbatim, people chanted, “Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years” even though the visitors had told them that they have “a rotten mayor.”
Moses wasn’t there, but he gave a different speech to his migrant congregation before they took possession of the Promised Land. Then, too, there was a big crowd. Then, too, there was a pact. It was not a moral suicide pact but a moral pact meant to bring security to the most vulnerable. “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice,” said Moses.
And the people, back then, what did they say?
“All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’” (Deut. 27:19)
Notes & References:
Sigve K. Tonstad is Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Loma Linda University.
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Ask yourself which toys are most collectible: train sets, die-cast cars, and – it almost goes without saying – Star Wars figures. The most obsessively collected examples tend to have one thing in common – they were originally marketed at boys.
While these toys aren’t collected exclusively by men, women are less likely to have vast collections of them. So which vintage toys are women seeking out?
Thanks to her peculiarly oversized head and bulging eyes that change colour with the pull of a string, not many girls wanted to play with Blythe when she was introduced in 1972.
But Blythe has become strangely popular in recent years and original dolls now sell for between £500 and £2,000, depending on their condition.
“They were only released for a year,” says Laura Kate Shippert, one of the organisers of BlytheCon UK, which was held in Bristol earlier this month. “They failed terribly; people thought they were a bit freaky and scary.”
Their popularity in recent years was sparked by a book called This is Blythe, in which photographer Gina Garan featured the dolls artfully posed like real fashion models. Others then started picking up second-hand Blythe dolls – which were relatively cheap at the time – dressing them in glamorous outfits and photographing them in exotic locations.
The renewed interest has led to new Blythe dolls being produced, known in the community as “Neo Blythes” – and these are pretty valuable too.
“They are anywhere from £100 to £400 new, then after a while some become more popular and harder to find, and the prices will fluctuate,” says Laura Kate.
She has 17 Blythe dolls, but only one is an original from 1972. She paid £400 for it about 10 years ago, which was “a steal” even at the time.
Laura Kate considers her own collection to be quite small compared to other people’s.
“I know someone who owns like 40 of them and I think ‘but you could own a house’,” she says. “If that’s what makes her happy and that’s what she wants to spend her money on, she’s an adult, she can make her choices. It’s not cocaine.”
My Little Pony
The My Little Pony phenomenon began when the toys were launched in 1982. About 150 million ponies were reportedly sold in the 1980s, with their popularity boosted by an animated TV series. Actor Danny DeVito even lent his voice to the 1986 film My Little Pony: The Movie.
Martina Foster loves My Little Pony so much she has a “pony room” in her house filled with somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 of them, worth between £10,000 and £15,000.
Martina was seven years old when she was given her first one – a pony called Tootsie printed with lollipop “cutie marks”. She rediscovered them while searching eBay as a student, then got her old ones out of the loft.
“I thought, ‘I’ll buy the ones that I always wanted, just for fun’,” she says. “Then you get sucked into it.”
Martina says the market fluctuates but rare ones in good condition can now fetch thousands of pounds. The most she has spent is a £200 for a pony called Rapunzel – “a bargain” because it is now worth about £500.
Martina is vice chairman of this year’s UK PonyCon, which is being held in Nottingham this weekend. As well as attracting collectors of the original toys, the convention attracts fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, which launched in 2010.
While My Little Pony was marketed towards girls in the 1980s, many fans of the animated series are adult men.
“It is fairly watchable even for grown-ups,” says Martina. “You can watch it as an adult and there are some witty things in it and in the end it’s all about friendship and accepting other people.”
Pippa was marketed as “the pocket money fashion doll” when she was sold in the 1970s, but Vectis Auctions has sold Pippa dolls for as much as £1,400 in recent years. She and her friends are much shorter than normal fashion dolls at only 6.5 inches (16.5cm) tall, which meant production costs were low.
Heather Swann started collecting them about 20 years ago after picking one up in a charity shop for 50p. She wanted to collect them as a way of recapturing her childhood.
“Isn’t that why people collect toys?” she says.
After Heather’s charity shop find she started buying more dolls through eBay.
“They were much cheaper then, as ladies of a certain age were just beginning to find them,” she says. “Unfortunately they are now becoming expensive and many collectors are after them.”
Heather describes her collection of about 50 dolls as “medium size”, as many women have hundreds. She has seen individual dolls sell for hundreds of pounds but the most she has ever spent is £40.
“I don’t tend to buy the expensive dolls, I now just look out for the ones which need a transformation,” she says. “I enjoy the process of restoring them.”
Care Bears were originally painted in 1981 to appear on greetings cards, before the characters were turned into soft toys in 1983. A television series followed, as did books, a plethora of merchandise, multiple LPs and a film in 1985 for which Carole King was persuaded to write and perform songs for the soundtrack.
Jennifer Hawkins loves Care Bears so much she had her favourite one, Bedtime Bear, tattooed on her arm.
“I was looking around earlier and I think I’ve got something Care Bears-related in every room, except my bathroom,” says Jennifer, who lives in Gloucester with about 200 Care Bears.
“But they make me happy so I’m quite happy to have them everywhere. I like the cuteness, I like having the little faces to talk to, I like the fact that they represent different feelings.”
Jennifer got one of her favourites – called Beanie – “as a comfort” when her grandfather died the day after her 14th birthday.
“He [Beanie] comes pretty much everywhere with me now,” she says.
She estimates her collection is worth “a few thousand”. The most she spent on an individual bear was £140, which was a 25th anniversary version of Bedtime Bear, and resisted the temptation to spend £500 on an original 1980s Bedtime Bear that was still in the box.
“Unfortunately I can’t afford to spend a month’s rent on one bear,” she says. “That’s definitely a bit too much.”
Barbie was launched in 1959 and swiftly became a cultural icon, gathering fans among each new generation of girls.
Linda Richardson was not one of them. When her mother gave her Barbies, she chopped their heads off.
“My passion was always cowboys and Indians and motorbikes and all that stuff,” says Linda, who lives in Cumbria. But she now has an “obsession” with dolls and has more than 500, worth about £35,000 at a “conservative estimate”.
Her passion was ignited 15 years ago on a trip to buy presents for her son.
“I saw these Native American Indians and they happened to be Barbies and that just set it off, really,” she says.
She did not buy the dolls at the time but started researching Barbie online and “found a whole new world”.
Most of the ones she buys are aimed at collectors, rather than the typical Barbie dolls made for children. She keeps them protected behind glass doors in a room lined with bookcases.
She also has some “de-boxed” dolls she puts in dioramas, photographs and posts on Instagram. “It’s just something to do,” she says. “It keeps me out of trouble.”
Others favour Barbie’s rival, which went on to become the best-selling fashion doll in the UK when it launched in 1963.
Melanie Quint only had one Sindy as a child but now has 60 or 70, worth between three and four thousand pounds.
“I decided to sell all of my childhood dolls and when I looked on eBay I realised there was this massive collecting and restoration community,” she says.
Instead of selling her dolls she ended up buying more.
“It’s nostalgia at the end of the day,” says Melanie. “You look at the face and the doll and the fashions and it takes you back to the way you were when you were a child.”
Melanie now runs Dollycon UK, which is for collectors of all dolls but has a particular focus on Sindy. A particular highlight is the “hilarious” cosplay competition, where people dress up as particular dolls.
“It’s very tongue-in-cheek,” says Melanie. “They pick some of the weird outfits, the 70s stuff. It’s really funny seeing what they do.
“We had one woman last year who dressed as Action Man Frogman, in a full suit with flippers on. I couldn’t speak, it was hilarious.”
During the Devonian era, mysterious sharks with bizarre teeth and sinuous bodies swam the seas. Until now, we’ve only known about them from teeth and fin spines, but researchers have finally uncovered skeletal remains in Morocco, shedding light on what these strange toothy fishes were like.
Describing their finds in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers uncovered near-complete skeletal remains, including several skulls, from two different species belonging to the genus Phoebodus. Shark skeletons are notoriously tricky to stumble upon because they are made out of cartilage, not bone.
“It is hard to find shark skeletons of this completeness and quality because they are made out of cartilage,” first author Linda Frey, of the Palaeontologocial Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich, told IFLScience. “Cartilage is not that robust such as bone and therefore, it is less often preserved. For this reason, we were overwhelmed by making such a discovery.
“Although the shark Phoebodus was known from plenty of teeth material for decades, skeletons were completely absent before our recent discoveries.” Cartilaginous fish are known as Chondrichthyes and include sharks, skates, and rays.
The new remains were found in the Maïder region of Morocco, an area known for its Drotops trilobite fossils. Once a shallow sea, the sharks lived there during the Late Devonian, a period spanning 376 to 360 million years ago that preceded the Carboniferous period. Poor water circulation would have helped to preserve the sharks’ bodies by creating a low-oxygen environment.
One of the most notable features of this group of sharks hinted at by the remains is that they had anguilliform – or eel-like – bodies, in addition to a long jaw and nose. The physical characteristics of the genus suggest it is closely related to a species of elasmobranch called Thrinacodus gracia, discovered in limestone in Montana, that lived during the Carboniferous era.
The researchers note that Phoebodus is reminiscent of another shark, but less in terms of relatedness and more in terms of looks. The frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) is a living species of shark found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A strange creature, it has an eel-like body and slightly horror-film-esque teeth arranged in neatly separated rows, each with three sharp spikes.
The bizarre frilled shark.
Well-known sharks like the great white chomp up their prey, but frilled sharks use a different approach. Their unique sets of teeth allow them to grab onto prey and then swallow it whole, with inward-pointing gnashers preventing any unlucky fish that finds its way into the shark’s mouth from escaping.
CT scans of the new fossils suggest that Phoebodus may have fed in a similar way to frilled sharks as both their teeth and body shapes are remarkably similar. The team also thinks that Phoebodus’ feeding technique may share similarities with that of the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula), one of the biggest freshwater fishes in North America, which has a long, flat, almost crocodilian snout that helps it grab fish that appear at its side.
New finds might tell us more about the physiology and behavior of ancient Phoebodus sharks, but for now, we have the most complete skeleton of one of these marine beasts ever uncovered, and that’s pretty awesome.
Latest series of the US hit show will recount the former White House interns affair with the then president that led to his impeachment in 1998
Monica Lewinsky is among the producers on a new series of American Crime Story focusing on the Bill Clinton sex scandal.
Titled Impeachment: American Crime Story, the Ryan Murphy-helmed anthology drama will recount the notorious affair between the then US president Clinton and former White House intern Lewinsky, and the subsequent impeachment proceedings called against him by the US House of Representatives.
Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein will star as Lewinsky, with Sarah Paulson playing Linda Tripp, the civil servant who secretly recorded phone calls the 22-year-old made about her affair with Clinton, who was 27 years her senior.
The series will premiere in September 2020 in the US, and is expected to air in the UK soon after. The previous two series of American Crime Story have been shown on BBC Two in the UK, as part of the broadcasters syndication deal with the US.
Impeachment has been adapted by Murphy from Jeffrey Toobins book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President. Murphy originally optioned the book in 2017, but shelved plans to bring it to TV last year as he felt that such a project would be gross without the contribution of Lewinsky.
However, with Lewinskys involvement, Impeachment is now going ahead. In a statement to Vanity Fair, she said that she had been hesitant to sign on to the series, but was swayed by the opportunity to reclaim my narrative.
People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades, Lewinsky said. In fact, it wasnt until the past few years that Ive been able to fully reclaim my narrative, almost 20 years later.
This isnt just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen.
FX chairman John Landgraf said that the network would not be reaching out to Bill and Hillary Clinton for their input.
American Crime Story has attracted critical acclaim and high ratings for its retellings of landmark events in recent US history. Its first season, 2016s The People Vs OJ Simpson, won a total of nine Emmy awards for its account of the 1994 murder case against former American Football player and actor OJ Simpson.