The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has smashed an international wildlife smuggling racket with the seizure of about 8,000 kg of shark fins in Mumbai and the coastal town of Veraval in Gujarat. Four persons, including the mastermind, have also been arrested.According to the DRI, the consignments were meant to be illegally exported to China and Hong Kong. The fins were procured from the seas along the coasts of Ratnagiri and Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Veraval and Okha in Gujarat. They are used for preparing “shark fin” soup in China and Vietnam. Usually served on special occasions such as weddings and banquets, it is considered a luxury food item and is of immense significance, with one bowl of soup costing at least $100.Acting on a tip-off that some exporters were indulging in the trans-border smuggling of fins of various species of sharks, the agency mounted surveillance and zeroed in on the suspects. The fins were to be smuggled out on the pretext of exports of dried ray skins, dried marine products, and fish maw, to evade detection. “In all, 3,000 kg of shark fins was seized from the godown at Sewri and 5,000 kg from the godown in Veraval. Investigations are under way to determine from when the gang had been operating,” said an official.The wildlife inspectors confirmed that the seized goods were shark fins. “It has come up during the investigations that the stocks are replenished regularly,” the official said.Through a notification dated February 6, 2015, the Finance Ministry has prohibited export of shark fins of all species. The agency said shark finning is an act of removing the fins, often while the shark is alive. Fishermen keep just the fins — only 1 to 5% of the fish’s weight — and throw away the rest, as they fetch a high price.With the fins having been removed, the sharks are unable to swim. As a result, they either sink to the bottom of the sea and die, or get eaten by other predators.In August 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had approved a policy on “shark finning”, prohibiting removal of fins on board a vessel on the sea. The policy prescribes that any possession of shark fins would amount to “hunting” of a Schedule I species under the Wildlife Protection Act.India became signatory to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in September 2014 and listed five more shark species for conservation.
Troy Malcolm award – Oscar SanftRoxy Winder award – Kirsty Quince Australian 18’s Boys captain, Oscar Sanft, was given the Troy Malcolm award, while Australian 20’s Girls player, Kirsty Quince, was the recipient of the Roxy Winder award. 18’s GirlsPlayers Player – Emily ReedCoaches Award – Sarah PeattieEncouragement Award – Charlotte Caslick20’s Girls Players Player – Emilee CherryCoaches Award – Kirsty Quince18’s BoysPlayers Player – Brentt Warr and Zach StrasserCoaches Award – Simon Lang20’s BoysPlayers Player – Nick GoodCoaches Award – Dylan Thompson
Liverpool boss Klopp confident after Bayern Munich drawby Ansser Sadiq10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp knows his side face a tough two games against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.The Reds were drawn against the German champions in the Round of 16.”For me it’s nice going to Germany. This is a different Bayern than what I played, we are already here for three years,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.”We all know the stadium, the atmosphere will be great. It’s a really nice trip for all our supporters, it’s a wonderful city, so that’s all good.”The flight is not too long and we obviously know more about German football than about any other league.”In the last couple of years they have dominated the German league in the best period of German football. It’s obviously long ago that I played Bayern in a competitive game so I’m really looking forward to it.” About the authorAnsser SadiqShare the loveHave your say
TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say DONE DEAL: Leganes goalkeeper Jon Ander Serantes confirms Avispa Fukuoka moveby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLeganes goalkeeper Jon Ander Serantes is leaving for Japan.Serantes has announced his move to Avispa Fukuoka on social media.He will sign for the J-League club tomorrow.pic.twitter.com/714QxafVi9— Jon Ander Serantes (@JASerantes) December 30, 2018
West Ham boss Pellegrini pleased with Rice progressby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveWest Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is pleased with the progress of Declan Rice.Rice came in for some criticism for his defensive error which contributed to Kosovo’s second goal against England in Tuesday’s European Qualifier at St Mary’s.Hammers manager Pellegrini is confident Rice has the mentality to take everything in his stride and flourish for the national side.”Declan is a very young player, he is improving in every game he plays,” said Pellegrini.”He is only 20 years old and I think with his age it is important he plays for England and it is important for him the way he can demonstrate how he works.”You can expect these mistakes for any kind of player. He is improving and for the moment he is doing well in that position.”If you are 20 years old you always want to play, but we will see if he has any muscle problem. For the moment Declan must continue playing.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
BURLINGTON, Ont. — Ikea Canada has named Michael Ward as its new president.Ward replaces Marsha Smith, who is moving to join Ikea United Kingdom and Ireland.The home furnishings retailer says Ward started at the company in Canada as part of a one-year internship program in 1986 and later moved onto positions in Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States.He served most recently in a global role at Ikea as regional retail manager.Ward officially stepped into his new job on Jan. 1.Ikea Canada has 14 stores.The Canadian Press
At this point, Wheeler said that their identities have not been released, and it’s also not clear what caused the two to be ejected from the side-by-side. CHETWYND, B.C. – Search and Rescue crews in Chetwynd had a busy start to the long weekend after a pair of side-by-side riders needed to be rescued east of Chetwynd.Chetwynd Search and Rescue Manager Don Wheeler said that crews were called out to assist the BC Ambulance Service in rescuing a man and woman who had been ejected while riding in a UTV at around 5:50 p.m. on Saturday. Wheeler said that the pair had been riding along a new pipeline right-of-way north of Sundance Lakes Regional Park, around 18 kilometres east of Chetwynd on Highway 97.Wheeler explained that Search and Rescue crews were called to assist in rescuing the two, who were not reachable by paramedics. One person suffered serious injuries and needed to be airlifted via helicopter, while the other was transported via ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.
Colombo: Sri Lanka on Thursday suspended its plans to grant visas on arrival to citizens of 39 countries after the devastating Easter suicide bombings that killed nearly 360 people. “Although arrangements were in place to issue visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries, we have now decided to hold it for the time being in consideration of the current security situation,” Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said in a statement. “Investigations have revealed foreign links to the attacks and we don’t want this facility to be abused,” Amaratunga added. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe visas on arrival pilot programme was part of a larger initiative to increase tourist arrivals to the country during the six month off-season period from May to October. The island nation received 7,40,600 foreign tourists in the first three months of 2019. Around 450,000 Indians visited Sri Lanka last year and the island nation was expecting the total Indian tourist arrivals to cross one million mark in 2019. Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, which accounts for around five per cent of the country’s GDP, is likely to suffer due to the Easter blasts. Tourism revenues in Lanka increased to USD 362.7 million in November from USD 284 million in October 2018, according to reports. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsMeanwhile, the Lankan authorities Thursday intensified their raids with the help of the army and arrested 16 more suspects in connection with the country’s worst terror attack that killed 359 people and left over 500 injured. President Maithripala Sirisena has said that 139 people have been identified as suspects in connection with the attacks. Addressing an all-party conference at the Presidential Secretariat here, Sirisena said that a Combine Operation Centre will be established within the defence ministry for the enforcement of the country’s security measures from Friday.
A keenly anticipated peace conference for Syria will convene in Geneva on November 23, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said on Sunday after meeting international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.Arabi acknowledged that there were still obstacles to holding the conference, as Western and Arab governments prepare to meet Syrian opposition leaders on Tuesday to attempt to persuade them to attend.Arabi made the comment to reporters after meeting the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria at the bloc’s Cairo headquarters, on the first leg of a regional tour Brahimi is conducting ahead of the conference. “It was decided that the Geneva II conference will be held on November 23, and preparations are underway for this conference,” Arabi said.The top Arab diplomat warned, however, that there were still hurdles to convening the already much-delayed meeting.“There are many difficulties that must be overcome for this conference to succeed,” he said.Brahimi refused to publicly set a date for the conference, saying it would be announced after he concluded his tour.The envoy told reporters after meeting Arabi that he would travel to Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Syria and then Geneva for talks with Russian and US representatives.
Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks was the Columbus Blue Jackets’ first regulation defeat in their last six games — and it hurt. Goals from left winger captain Rick Nash, who has scored in the Jackets’ past eight games, and center Derick Brassard were not enough to overcome early power-play goals by Anaheim at Nationwide Arena. In the first period, Jackets winger Derek Dorsett unleashed a dangerous hit on Ducks winger Corey Perry, sending him headfirst into the boards. Perry fell to the ice, and players from both teams exchanged shoves behind the Anaheim goal before referees separated the players and assessed a five-minute boarding penalty to Dorsett. “It was a hit from behind,” Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. “It’s the referee’s judgment call. When you give (Anaheim) a five-minute major, that gets them off to a pretty good start.” That judgment call produced a two-goal lead for the Ducks. Anaheim wingers teamed up for the first tally. Bobby Ryan fed a pass across the slot to a streaking Teemu Selanne, who had no trouble scoring his 15th goal of the year to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Defenseman Cam Fowler’s fifth goal of the year gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead just more than a minute later. After being fed by defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and center Saku Koivu, Fowler snapped a long-range shot that snuck past Jackets goalie Steve Mason. Before Columbus fans had settled into their seats, the Ducks had scored their first two shots of the game. But the Jackets responded with a power-play goal of their own just before the first intermission. Nash cut the Ducks’ lead in half with a wrist shot from the slot. Brassard assisted on Nash’s 23rd goal of the season, which made the score 2-1. A quiet second period saw the teams exchange scoring opportunities, but Mason and Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller denied everything. Mason and Hiller finished the night with 19 and 35 saves, respectively. But the game had more goals in store, as Ducks winger Jason Blake would give the Ducks breathing room early in the third period. Blake scored his 10th goal of the season on an uncontested backhand shot, extending the Ducks’ lead to 3-1. Mason was left helpless and hunched in the lower, left-hand corner of his goal when Blake emerged from behind the net. Brassard later narrowed Columbus’ deficit to 3-2 after a redirected shot from the blue line fell to him just outside Hiller’s crease. The tap-in goal, assisted on by winger Jakub Voracek, was Brassard’s 12th of the season. Thanks to Hiller, who extinguished a late surge by the Jackets, the Ducks eventually held on for a 3-2 win. Despite Tuesday’s loss, Columbus will enter the NHL All-Star break with a 3-1-2 record in its last six games. Brassard focused on the Jackets’ recent improvements following the loss to Anaheim. “I think we had a good push tonight,” Brassard said. “In the third, we competed really hard. We are just going to take some rest right now and make sure we are ready to make a big push.” Coach Randy Carlyle’s Ducks head into the midseason break in fifth place in the Western Conference. Carlyle commended his players for their effort. “The guys are putting it on the line,” Carlyle said. “Our guys have worked extremely hard to get themselves in the position we are in. We’re having some fun right now.” Arniel managed to stay upbeat about his team’s current standing after the game. “What we’ve done in the last two weeks has been very good,” Arniel said. “I like the way we’re working and competing.” The Blue Jackets will host the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
It’s time for Jaamal Berry to leave the Ohio State football program. Not for a couple days, games, or weeks. He needs to go. Permanently. After being charged for assault, battery and disorderly conduct Wednesday, based on an Oct. 21 incident in Columbus, Berry was suspended from the team. But head coach Luke Fickell needs to set a precedent for the post-Jim Tressel era of football at OSU and kick Berry off the team. This isn’t Berry’s first run-in with the law. He was allegedly involved in another assault as recently as Sept. 28 and was arrested for marijuana possession before even enrolling at OSU. The bottom line is he can’t stay out of trouble. I’m all for second chances. Young adults are going to make mistakes, but at some point somebody needs to draw the line. And the line at OSU should be a little stricter than at other schools because of everything the program has been through. With Tat-gate and all the ensuing insanity it caused for the program, OSU has had enough negative headlines for a lifetime. Berry and any other distractions just add fuel to the already negative image OSU has attached itself to. OSU has always portrayed itself as a program of integrity. Ever since Woody Hayes, OSU football was at least perceived as a program that won and won the right way. The mentality has been a core facet in OSU’s success ever since. It brought in talented recruits and created a product people wanted to cheer for. Tressel carried on the image, but with his tumultuous exit, that image was destroyed. Now the program is in a transition period. It’s up to Fickell to rebuild the image and restore the luster of the program. By kicking Berry off the team, Fickell takes the first step in the rebuilding process. He tells the rest of the college football world that OSU will not stand for bad behavior and actions that embarrass the program and compromise what it represents. But more important than telling everyone else, Fickell would be sending a message to his team. The sturdiest structures are solid at their foundation and the foundation of a football team will always be the football players. If Fickell can send a message to the most fundamental level of the program, the larger and more complicated matters will take care of themselves. I’m sure it’s difficult to look a kid in the eye and tell him he’s no longer wanted. You’re about to change the player’s entire life, but playing football for the Buckeyes is a privilege. It sounds cliché, but there are hundreds of other athletes who would love the opportunity to run out of the scarlet tunnel into Ohio Stadium on a fall Saturday afternoon. If someone compromises their opportunity, not just once, but multiple times, that player obviously doesn’t value it and should be dismissed. Suspending Berry from the team was a good first step and makes sense legally, but Fickell needs to finish the job and show Berry out.
In a letter to the City Council Ostrander stated that in its first year of operation the Kenai Eagle Cam wassuccessful, and in just the first summer of operations, the Eagle Cam was viewed for 2,083,618 minutes. City Manager Paul Ostrander said the new camera will provide a higher definition picture, superior low light picture and enhance audio capabilities at a cost of approximately $1 ,600. City Council Member Jim Glendening spoke at the meeting about how positive this project has been for the community: “This is an exciting event, I receive comments from friends and family outside when I told them about the observations we are making, and it’s a positive thing to market our summer in Kenai.” In 2017 the City, partnered with the Kenai Chamber of Commerce to begin streaming live images of a nesting eagle pair. According to the ordinance in order to enhance the quality of the stream, a new camera was proposed Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Kenai City Council approved an ordinance at their meeting on Wednesday, February 21, to appropriate $1,600 for a new eagle camera. Story as aired: Audio PlayerJennifer-on-Eagle-Cam-upgrade.mp3VmJennifer-on-Eagle-Cam-upgrade.mp300:00RPd
The most popular option is the proposed seasonal sales tax, council members also considered raising the general sales tax by half a percent, implementing a potential bed tax, using the general fund balance, raising property taxes by 1 mill and reappropriating general fund reserves. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Homer City Council held a work session on March 27 to look at potential scenarios for a bond to help cover the cost of the new police station. Homer Mayor Bryan Zak: “We want to move forward making the right decision, but in order to do that we wanted additional time and opportunity to focus on all of the information we already have.” The 1% seasonal sales tax increase would be in place 6 months out of year. Council members stated that the seasonal sales tax would potentially lessen some of the burden on Homer residents, and shift it more to the seasonal visitors. In a letter to the council from Homer City Manager Katie Koester, selecting a revenue source to make bond payments is a tough subject and may require additional worksessions. In order to put a bond question on the October 2018 ballot, the Council would need to pass an ordinance by the last and only meeting in July. According to the council, the city plans to go out to bond to cover the cost of the new station, estimated at $7.5 million. The city currently has $2.5 million designated to the project. A decision on details for an Ordinance should be hammered out for introduction in June at the latest. The council plans to draft an Ordinance for consideration by Council this summer and a ballot question for the voters in the fall.
Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享FEMA representatives have opened a temporary office at the North Peninsula Recreation Center in Nikiski. The FEMA temporary office is open 10am to 7pm Monday through Friday and 10am to 1pm on Saturday, this week and next week ending March 2. You must apply for Federal Individual Assistance even if you have already applied for State Individual Assistance. The major disaster declaration issued on January 31 for the state of Alaska makes federal funding available to eligible affected individuals in the Municipality of Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and Kenai Peninsula Borough. Residents whose homes were affected by the 7.0 earthquake on November 30 are encouraged to apply for the Federal Individual Assistance program. The deadline to apply for FEMA Individual Assistance is April 1. Announcements will be provided for locations in Homer and Seward. You may also apply online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
For a complete list of wheelchair accessible fishing spots in your area visit the DF&G website. For any questions call (907) 260-5449 x 1205. Photo courtesy of Stream Watch Alice Main a coordinator with Kenai Stream Watch: “Stream Watch is a volunteer program that works to protect our world class fisheries through peer to peer education, and restoration projects across the Kenai Peninsula.” Stream Watch volunteers are hoping that people spend more time thinking about how critically important the river is to the community. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享Representatives with Key Bank in Soldotna helped the local Stream Watch install habitat protective fencing at our favorite wheelchair accessible fishing hole at Centennial Park. Anyone can volunteer with Stream Watch. Main: “The more the merrier, no matter whether it’s part of our organization or not. Folks can keep an eye out for one of our events, or one of our coordinators.” Stream Watch Started in 1994 by a group of concerned citizens and the Chugach National Forest, this volunteer driven program has grown from a grassroots collective of 10 to a volunteer movement of 180+ volunteers who have spent 25 years making a difference for rivers on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.
Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Alaska State Troopers responded to a reported burglary in progress off of Kalifornsky Beach Road in Kasilof, on Sunday. Charges have been filed and warrants have been requested for Deboard for two counts Burglary 2nd and one count each of Burglary 1st, Theft 1st and Criminal Mischief 4th. Anyone with information about the side by side or the whereabouts of Deboard is urged to call Alaska State Troopers at 262-4453 or Peninsula Crimestoppers at 283-8477. Still missing, is a green 675cc Honda Pioneer side by side ATV. It has four seats and a full roll cage, as well as a distinctive crack in the windshield. In addition, three ATVS had been stolen. The majority of the items, including two of the ATVs were recovered nearby in two separate caches in a wooded area. According to an online Trooper dispatch, the suspect fled minutes prior to AST arrival. Investigation led to the suspect being identified as Scott Allan Deboard, age 23 of Kasilof. Deboard was found to have made forced entry into the residence, a woodshed and a detached garage. Numerous items were stolen, to include thousands of dollars in camping/outdoors equipment and power tools.
Reactions from selected world leaders to US President Donald Trumps’ plans for Jerusalem. AFPDonald Trump’s decision Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has drawn sharp criticism, with the significant exception of Israel.Here are key reactions from around the world:Israel salutes ‘historic’ dayIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s recognition as “historic” and a “courageous and just decision”.Netanyahu also pledged no change to the status quo at Jerusalem’s highly sensitive holy sites in the city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims.‘Undermining peace’Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the US could no longer play the role of peace broker after Trump’s decision.“These deplorable and unacceptable measures deliberately undermine all peace efforts,” Abbas said in a speech.‘Destroys two-state solution’The secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said Trump had destroyed any hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.“He destroyed the two-state solution,” Saeb Erekat, who long served as the Palestinians’ top negotiator, told journalists.‘Open gates of hell’Hamas said Trump’s decision would “open the gates of hell” on US interests in the region.“This decision will open the gates of hell on US interests in the region,” Ismail Radwan, an official with the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, told journalists.‘Unjustified and irresponsible’Saudi Arabia slammed Trump’s move as “unjustified and irresponsible” and said the decision goes against the “historical and permanent rights of the Palestinian people”.“The kingdom has already warned of the serious consequences of such an unjustified and irresponsible move,” said a Saudi royal court statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.‘New intifada’Iran condemned the US move, saying it threatened a “new intifada”, or uprising, against Israel.“The provocative and unwise decision by the US… will provoke Muslims and inflame a new intifada and an escalation of radical, angry and violent behaviour,” the foreign ministry said on its website.UN against ‘unilateral measures’UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres implicitly criticised Trump’s announcement, warning that Jerusalem’s status must be resolved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.“From day one as secretary general of the United Nations, I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardise the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” Guterres said.‘Palestinian cause’The office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dismissed Trump’s move, saying in a statement it would not dim the “Palestinian cause”.“The future of Jerusalem is not set by a state or a president, but by its history, will, and the determination of those loyal to the Palestinian cause which will stay alive in the conscience of the Arab homeland until the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” it said.‘Rejected by Arab world’Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed his country’s “highest degrees of solidarity with the Palestinian people and its right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital”.“The American decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the embassy there is a step that is rejected by the Arab world and risks spilling dangers over into the region,” he said.‘Violation of international law’Jordan condemned Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as amounting to a violation of international law and the UN charter.“The decision of the American president to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the transfer of the US embassy to this city constitutes a violation of decisions of international law and the United Nations charter,” said government spokesman Mohammed Momani.‘Irresponsible, illegal’Turkey slammed Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.“We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration… the decision is against international law and relevant UN resolutions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.‘Unhelpful for peace’Prime Minister Theresa May said the British government disagreed with Trump’s decision, saying it was “unhelpful” for peace efforts.“We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital,” she said in a statement. “We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region”.‘Avoid violence’French President Emmanuel Macron branded Trump’s stance as “regrettable” and called for efforts to “avoid violence at all costs”.Macron affirmed “the attachment of France and Europe to the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognised borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states.”Merkel ‘does not support’German Chancellor Angela Merkel said through her spokesman that she “does not support” Trump’s reversal of decades of US policy.“The status of Jerusalem can only be negotiated within the framework of a two-state solution,” spokesman Steffen Seibert wrote on Twitter.‘Serious concern’The European Union’s chief diplomat Federica Mogherini voiced “serious concern” at Trump’s new stance on Jerusalem.“The aspirations of both parties must be fulfilled and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states,” Mogherini said, referring to Israelis and Palestinians.
Share This! By: Tonny Onyulo TagsCommission on a Way Forward homepage featured Kenya One Church Plan Top Story Traditional Plan UMCGC United Methodist Church United Methodist General Conference United Methodists,You may also like Tonny Onyulo Share This! News • Photos of the Week By: Tonny Onyulo News Photos of the Week August 30, 2019 Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — During a recent prayer service here at the Kayole St. John’s United Methodist Church, more than a hundred worshippers followed Rev. Wilton Odongo, one of the church’s head pastors, as he led congregants in prayer.This prayer was addressing the unity of the church — specifically, the worldwide United Methodist Church.Later this month, a special session of the 2019 General Conference in St. Louis will renew its long-running debate over same-sex weddings and LGBTQ clergy. Several proposals under discussion would remove a rule in the church’s book of discipline that would prevent anyone who is a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” from serving as a minister.Here in East Africa’s heavyweight country, though, most say a resounding ‘no’ to such measures.RELATED: African Methodists worry about the church that brought them Christianity“We are praying that God gives guidance to the delegates so that the result does not hurt the next generation,” said Odongo, who is also the district superintendent of Nairobi and the secretary to the Episcopal Office of the East Africa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.Odongo, who is among the reserve delegates for the General Conference meeting, told Religion News Service that he believes the ordination of LGBTQ clergy goes against the teachings of the Bible.The Rev. Wilton Odongo preaches a sermon at Kayole St. John’s United Methodist Church in Nairobi, Kenya, on Jan. 13, 2019. RNS photo by Gad Maiga“In Africa, we have people in polygamous marriage and others who practice female genital mutilation, but we have never advocated for such issues to be universal,” he said amid cheers of ‘Amen’ from congregants. “We don’t want the issue to be included in the church because it’s a sin. God forbids it.”For decades, the United Methodist Church, numbering 12 million members worldwide, has faced conflict over how the denomination should minister to LGBTQ individuals and whether or not to include them as leaders of churches. Two years ago, in Portland, Ore., the denomination narrowly avoided a schism over this issue during a heated General Conference meeting of 800-plus delegates from around the world.The General Conference then authorized bishops to form a Commission on a Way Forward to envision changes in law and structure that might help preserve unity within the church.RELATED: Historic United Methodist church sees ‘hopeful’ time for LGBTQ ChristiansThree plans for the church’s future emerged from the commission to be considered at the conference, which begins Feb. 23: the One Church Plan, which would allow congregations and conferences to decide whether to allow same-sex weddings and gay clergy; the Traditionalist Plan, which would strengthen the current rules; and the Connectional-Conference Plan, which would allow churches to sort themselves by theology.Another proposal, called the Simple Plan, would remove any language about homosexuality from the Methodist Book of Discipline.Many Methodists in Kenya said the “One Church Plan” would amount to a repudiation of Bible passages condemning homosexuality. Pastor Anthony Maiga, who oversees Rongai United Methodist Church in Nairobi, believes African Methodist churches are not ready to allow the ordination of LBGTQ clergy.“We are all aware that homosexuality is a sin and the Bible condemns it,” he said. “We are fighting to defend the Bible and follow Christ’s teachings. There is nowhere in the Bible that encourages the ordination of homosexual clergy.”Still, Maiga said, he doesn’t want to kick out LGBTQ church members.“We can allow them to fellowship with us and be part of us,” he said.Kenya, in red, located in eastern Africa. Map courtesy of Creative CommonsIn September, the United Methodist African bishops unanimously reaffirmed their view that marriage is between a man and a woman and vowed to maintain the unity of the United Methodist Church. But the bishops did not endorse any of the three proposals by the Commission on a Way Forward to resolve the United Methodist Church’s impasse over this issue.Some Methodist churches in Kenya have ties to the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA), a conservative Methodist organization that supports the Traditional Plan.Rev. Kephas Oloo, a United Methodist elder in western Kenya, is already in Missouri, working with the WCA to drum up support for the Traditional Plan.“Africa is the fruit of mission work,” said Oloo, echoing the words of the South Congo Area Bishop Kasap Owan during the closing worship service of the Wesleyan Covenant Association’s global celebration in Georgia this past November.“Africa will not walk away from Christ,” he said. “If you bring us another teaching on marriage, our churches will be empty. But if you are faithful to the word of God, the church will grow. Jesus was protected in Africa. Africa will remain the place to protect the Gospel.”Still, some African church leaders say they want the church to remain united regardless of the outcome of the conference.The Rev. Patrick Wandera said he is “no fan” of the local option (One Church Plan) recommended by the bishops, which would erase parts of the Book of Discipline and let individual churches decide on weddings and ordinations.Wandera, who heads one of the country’s fastest growing United Methodist churches, the Kayole St. John’s United Methodist Church in Nairobi, said he is firmly in the traditionalist camp.“We believe what Methodists have always believed about marriage,” he said. “We believe this beautiful picture, from beginning of Scripture to end of Scripture, Genesis to Revelation, that marriage is between a man and a woman.”RELATED: A flourishing United Methodist church considers a way outOthers said it was a non-issue.“There are far more pressing issues than same-sex marriage that the church in Africa needs to address, including corruption, refugees and poverty,” said Rev. Davies Musigo of the Huruma United Methodist Church.He worries that African Methodists who support the Traditional Plan might lose funding from Methodists in the United States who disagree with their views.“But what is of concern to us is the attaching of conditions to aid” by donor countries, he said.“This is a Christian perspective, not an African perspective, because this is a problem all over the world,” he added. “Aid should not be used as a coercive tool to impose any set of values.”Still, Maiga said the unity of the church was paramount — no matter what happens in St. Louis.“This issue should not divide the church,” he said, appealing to the delegates. “We are praying that we remain united as one church regardless of the outcome of the special General Conference this February.”Gad Maiga contributed to this story. Instagram apostasy stirs controversy over Christian ‘influencers’ August 30, 2019 Share This! Share This! Fifty years later, Catholic Church reckons again with unbelief Catholicism Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email By: Tonny Onyulo Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email,About the authorView All Posts Share This! As Amazon burns, Vatican prepares for summit on region’s faith and sustainabilit … August 30, 2019 Tonny Onyulo,Load Comments,Report: One in three in UK say Islam threatens British culture Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn ReddIt Email
Tamir KalifaStudents on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.After subtracting student fees and paying for insurance, doctoral student Tom Millay takes home about $15,000 per year from a Baylor University stipend. But soon he could be taxed as though he earns three times more.Millay, who is studying religion and works as graduate assistant at Baylor, is one of thousands of doctoral students in Texas and beyond watching nervously as Congressional Republicans iron out the details of their tax cut bill. In exchange for his teaching duties, Millay receives free tuition — a $30,000 savings — and an annual stipend of $20,000. If lawmakers approve the House version of the bill, tuition waivers like his would be marked as taxable income, causing a major financial hit for him and thousands of graduate students like him.The Senate’s version of a tax reform measure does not include the same tax on tuition waivers. The two chambers must reconcile their differences before sending a final version of the bill to President Donald Trump, who has publicly pushed to sign a tax bill by the end of the year.“In terms of net income, [the House proposal] would put most Baylor graduate students right on the poverty line,” said Millay, who acknowledged that his spouse’s income would soften the blow for him. “When your net income at the start is only $15,000, losing additional thousands of dollars each year in taxes is a huge difference.”Universities across Texas and the nation have tried to rally against the proposal. A&M officials said they have “made clear” to lawmakers that the change would have “negative consequences.” Baylor University President Linda Livingstone gently suggested to students and staff that they express their “individual concerns” about the bill. And Rice University president David Leebron called the idea “odious” in a Houston Chronicle op-ed.If the House version of the bill is approved, taxes for some graduate students will increase by as much as 400 percent, according to estimates. Leebron says some of his students could see their tax bills go up five times their current amount. Experts also say the bill may lead to institutions seeing a decline in the number of graduate applicants, which could be devastating to major Texas research schools like Rice and the University of Texas at Austin.“This really affects me because I’m a full-time graduate student,” said Charity Embley, a doctoral student at Texas Tech University. “We’re not independently wealthy.”House tax bill hits higher educationThousands of masters and doctoral students across the country receive tuition waivers in exchange for teaching classes or conducting research. Under current law, those waivers aren’t counted as income. Only the students’ additional stipends, which are usually paltry compared to most full-time jobs, are currently taxed.House lawmakers have said they have moved to eliminate some individual tax breaks like the one for tuition waivers in order to offset the $1.5 trillion tax cuts elsewhere in the bill. But the change would mean that graduate students would be paying taxes on money they never pocket, critics say, and those additional taxes could make earning a graduate degree nearly impossible for some students. “From what I have been hearing as a representative for other graduate students, many live in a precarious financial position,” said Jeff Strietzel, president of the Baylor Graduate Student Association.Strietzel is a third-year doctoral student, a husband and father of four children. In addition to his studies, he works 20-hour weeks and helps run a student organization — all while living under the federal poverty line.“I know that higher education is not the route that every American will take to pursue their version of the ‘American dream,’ but I hope that my representatives have students like me in mind as they consider any reforms to tax policy that makes pursuing higher education in America more difficult,” he said.“We don’t know where we stand”While most expect some form of a tax bill to make its way to Trump soon, it’s still unclear whether the tax on tuition waivers will be included.In recent weeks, several university groups have staged walkouts in response to the House bill. And last week, 31 House Republicans — including six Texans —led by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, wrote a letter urging House and Senate leaders to leave the tuition waiver language out of the final version of the bill.“A tax on graduate tuition waivers would be unfair, would undermine our competitive position, and would inhibit the economic growth that tax reform promises,” the lawmakers wrote. “Repeal of the income exclusion for graduate tuition waivers would subject thousands of graduate students to a major tax increase at a time in their lives when they likely lack the ability to pay.”Nationwide groups representing some of the top research universities in Texas — including Rice, UT-Austin, the University of Houston and Texas A&M University — have come out in opposition of the bill.“As our counterparts and competitors abroad aim to vastly increase the number of skilled workers in highly technical fields, we can’t afford to roll back incentives that have long helped make the American workforce the envy of the world,” said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.Meanwhile, students who would be affected are anxiously watching. “We don’t know where we stand,” said Embley, the Texas Tech graduate student. 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