Pawn Business Growing in US

You never know what you will find in a pawnshop. 

Where else can you find a snow blower parked next to a mink jacket? Or an ornate 19th century mantle clock from France next to modern-day laptop computers?

At Top Dollar Pawn in Waldorf, Maryland, a man comes in wanting to sell the gold caps from his deceased grandfather’s teeth. While some would be taken aback, the affable store manager Stuffie Carroll is not. “This happens all the time,” he said, as he explains to the customer that the store would only buy the gold after it had been removed from the teeth.

Top Dollar owner Michael Cohen, who has two pawnshops in Maryland outside Washington, DC, buys and sells “anything of value,” which includes high-end jewelry, musical instruments, and power tools. His biggest seller is the jewelry he says, as he shows off an assortment of diamond rings and gold necklaces.

While sales bring in money, pawn shops make most of their income through cash loans to customers in exchange for an item of value. There is also interest on the loan that is higher than a bank rate. If the money is repaid in 30 days, then the customer gets their item back; otherwise the store keeps it for resale. Eighty-five percent pay back the loan.

For people without credit or other financial resources, pawn shops can help them get the money they need. The average loan is $150.

“In a lot of cases people don’t have any other outlet to get the money they need to get through the week to buy diapers for their babies, put gas in the car, or pay the electric bill,” said Top Dollar Manager, Mike Thomen. He said customers often talk to him about their problems and he “encourages them when they’re down on their luck.”

Long gone are the days when pawn shops were considered seedy places, where only people down on their luck went to. Today’s pawn shops, mostly independently owned, look more like a brightly lit, welcoming second-hand store.

“The pawn shop is the new cool place to come into, the new chic place,” said Eric Rizer, the owner of three stores in northern Virginia called Royal Pawn. “We have tons of different stuff like artwork, antiques, rugs, and sports memorabilia.”

“Customer service is a huge part of our business,” Cohen said, “and hopefully that keeps people wanting to come back to us.”

Like regular customer Anthony Ruggaero who is pawning some tools.

“I came to pawn a few times to pay for my wedding, which is in 3 months,” he explained. “I bought my fiancé’s wedding ring here last week. I have my own business, so as soon as checks come in to help me pay for expenses, I’ll buy my stuff back.”

Hidden treasures

It’s estimated that 30 million people visit the 11,000 pawn shops in the United States every year, perhaps finding some hidden treasures. 

“We had an original Picasso,” said Rizer. “We actually had a bird head that I sold to a man for $500.” Later Rizer discovered that the bird had been extinct for more than 100 years, and the head was valued at $20,000.

He says worn vintage guitars are finding a new market.

“These beat up guitars are called reliced,” he said. “People go absolutely nuts over them just because they look like they’re worn from being out on the road.”

Including customer Austen Ballard, a music producer at MMP Studios in Burke, Virginia. 

“It’s so much fun to pick up an old instrument from the 1950s or 60s. You never know where a guitar’s been. It might be on a record you’ve heard on the radio.”

Cohen said his business has taken a hit from second-hand merchandise internet sales. Although he realizes more pawn shops may have to start selling items on the internet to survive, he thinks the brick or mortar stores are here to stay. 

“There’s people who go from pawn shop to pawn shop looking for a good deal. We definitely have our regulars that like to bargain with us every week.”

Like customer Keith Winslow who haggles over the price of some power tools.

“I want to talk to the people I’m buying products from,” he said. I don’t want something from online that may not be exactly what I want.”

From: MeNeedIt

Pawn Business Growing in US

You never know what you will find in a pawnshop. 

Where else can you find a snow blower parked next to a mink jacket? Or an ornate 19th century mantle clock from France next to modern-day laptop computers?

At Top Dollar Pawn in Waldorf, Maryland, a man comes in wanting to sell the gold caps from his deceased grandfather’s teeth. While some would be taken aback, the affable store manager Stuffie Carroll is not. “This happens all the time,” he said, as he explains to the customer that the store would only buy the gold after it had been removed from the teeth.

Top Dollar owner Michael Cohen, who has two pawnshops in Maryland outside Washington, DC, buys and sells “anything of value,” which includes high-end jewelry, musical instruments, and power tools. His biggest seller is the jewelry he says, as he shows off an assortment of diamond rings and gold necklaces.

While sales bring in money, pawn shops make most of their income through cash loans to customers in exchange for an item of value. There is also interest on the loan that is higher than a bank rate. If the money is repaid in 30 days, then the customer gets their item back; otherwise the store keeps it for resale. Eighty-five percent pay back the loan.

For people without credit or other financial resources, pawn shops can help them get the money they need. The average loan is $150.

“In a lot of cases people don’t have any other outlet to get the money they need to get through the week to buy diapers for their babies, put gas in the car, or pay the electric bill,” said Top Dollar Manager, Mike Thomen. He said customers often talk to him about their problems and he “encourages them when they’re down on their luck.”

Long gone are the days when pawn shops were considered seedy places, where only people down on their luck went to. Today’s pawn shops, mostly independently owned, look more like a brightly lit, welcoming second-hand store.

“The pawn shop is the new cool place to come into, the new chic place,” said Eric Rizer, the owner of three stores in northern Virginia called Royal Pawn. “We have tons of different stuff like artwork, antiques, rugs, and sports memorabilia.”

“Customer service is a huge part of our business,” Cohen said, “and hopefully that keeps people wanting to come back to us.”

Like regular customer Anthony Ruggaero who is pawning some tools.

“I came to pawn a few times to pay for my wedding, which is in 3 months,” he explained. “I bought my fiancé’s wedding ring here last week. I have my own business, so as soon as checks come in to help me pay for expenses, I’ll buy my stuff back.”

Hidden treasures

It’s estimated that 30 million people visit the 11,000 pawn shops in the United States every year, perhaps finding some hidden treasures. 

“We had an original Picasso,” said Rizer. “We actually had a bird head that I sold to a man for $500.” Later Rizer discovered that the bird had been extinct for more than 100 years, and the head was valued at $20,000.

He says worn vintage guitars are finding a new market.

“These beat up guitars are called reliced,” he said. “People go absolutely nuts over them just because they look like they’re worn from being out on the road.”

Including customer Austen Ballard, a music producer at MMP Studios in Burke, Virginia. 

“It’s so much fun to pick up an old instrument from the 1950s or 60s. You never know where a guitar’s been. It might be on a record you’ve heard on the radio.”

Cohen said his business has taken a hit from second-hand merchandise internet sales. Although he realizes more pawn shops may have to start selling items on the internet to survive, he thinks the brick or mortar stores are here to stay. 

“There’s people who go from pawn shop to pawn shop looking for a good deal. We definitely have our regulars that like to bargain with us every week.”

Like customer Keith Winslow who haggles over the price of some power tools.

“I want to talk to the people I’m buying products from,” he said. I don’t want something from online that may not be exactly what I want.”

From: MeNeedIt

China Tweaks Tech Supremacy Plan

For the first time in recent years, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s annual Government Work Report did not mention Made in China 2025, the country’s ambitious plan to achieve high-tech dominance, and that has analysts asking whether Beijing is going to completely overhaul the plan or keep it going quietly behind the scenes.

Made in China 2025 relies heavily on government subsidies to Chinese companies and their ability to acquire new technologies covering 10 different sectors such as electric cars, emerging bio-medicine, next-generation information technology, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence.

The plan is part of China’s broader industrial policy outlined in the 13th Five-Year plan, which lays out government goals from 2016-2020. It raised concerns, however, because of China’s use of forced technology transfers and specific targets to capture market share by 2025.

The plan has been a focus of discussion between U.S. and Chinese negotiators, with Washington demanding an end to subsidies given to local companies under the plan. The United States also wanted China to do away with unfair trade practices that include the forcible transfer of technology from foreign companies.

A significant portion of technologies used in China in the 10 listed sectors come from foreign sources.

But the government is now amending laws that will leave Chinese companies in a somewhat difficult situation. It is also expected to cut subsidies it gives to local companies in order to overcome objections raised by the United States during the trade war.

New laws and policy changes that the government is bringing on during the ongoing sessions of China’s legislature, or National People’s Congress (NPC), would seriously affect its ability to acquire foreign technology.

“China will suffer in the short run but in the medium run they seem to be fine,” said Lourdes Casanova, director at Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute.

To a great extent, Chinese companies have used three means to acquire technology: the use of borrowed or stolen ideas, the forcible transfer of know-how from foreign partners and the purchase of foreign companies.

Acquisitions by Chinese companies have now become problematic because of growing cautiousness and recent legislation in the United States and European Union.

Some analysts believe there were design defects in the 2025 plan itself, and the government has been rethinking it for some time now.

“The original 2025 plan was too nationalistic and too top down. It was wasteful,” Mats Harborn, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, told VOA.

“They [government leaders] thought technology should be owned by Chinese companies. There was a ‘we can do this on our own’ attitude,”

“There is a shift or maturity in understanding. There is an understanding that China cannot do all things on its own. It has to use international value chains and integrate as much as possible,” Harborn said.

New information emerging now suggests there has been a struggle within the government about the suitability of this grandiose plan.

“It [the strategy] should not have been done that way anyway. I was against it from the start, I did not agree very much with it,” Lou Jiwei, China’s finance minister between 2013 and 2016, said on the sidelines of the legislative meeting in Beijing.

Other legislators told VOA the government is making adjustments in accordance with public opinion.

Putting less emphasis on Made in China 2025 “reflects a more rational approach by the government, to reduce unnecessary obstacles, noises and reaction, to keep moving forward in a positive direction,” said Tang Nong, a NPC delegate from Guangxi.

“The government is moving forward with the 13th Five-Year plan. What is Made in China 2025, is it a plan or a broad outline?” asked Sun Xianzhong, an NPC delegate and professor of international law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Analysts believe the government may revamp and repackage the plan, but it is unlikely to soften its efforts.

“The government remains committed to moving China’s economy up the value chain and will continue to use a variety of active industrial policies to achieve this goal,” said Duncan Innes-Ker, regional director for Asia at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Harborn believes the government will shift from the idea of acquiring new technologies to absorbing them in the industrial value chain.

“This is a wakeup call. The new focus will be on integrating the best technologies at the best price and creating the best final product or service,” he said.

State owned companies in China may be better able to readjust themselves if the 2025 plan is revamped because their focus is more on revenues than on profit.

“For a state-owned company, profits going down in favor of revenues or jobs, so what’s the problem? They are fine,” said Casanova adding, “Profits are less or not of primary consideration.”

 

 

 

From: MeNeedIt

China Tweaks Tech Supremacy Plan

For the first time in recent years, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s annual Government Work Report did not mention Made in China 2025, the country’s ambitious plan to achieve high-tech dominance, and that has analysts asking whether Beijing is going to completely overhaul the plan or keep it going quietly behind the scenes.

Made in China 2025 relies heavily on government subsidies to Chinese companies and their ability to acquire new technologies covering 10 different sectors such as electric cars, emerging bio-medicine, next-generation information technology, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence.

The plan is part of China’s broader industrial policy outlined in the 13th Five-Year plan, which lays out government goals from 2016-2020. It raised concerns, however, because of China’s use of forced technology transfers and specific targets to capture market share by 2025.

The plan has been a focus of discussion between U.S. and Chinese negotiators, with Washington demanding an end to subsidies given to local companies under the plan. The United States also wanted China to do away with unfair trade practices that include the forcible transfer of technology from foreign companies.

A significant portion of technologies used in China in the 10 listed sectors come from foreign sources.

But the government is now amending laws that will leave Chinese companies in a somewhat difficult situation. It is also expected to cut subsidies it gives to local companies in order to overcome objections raised by the United States during the trade war.

New laws and policy changes that the government is bringing on during the ongoing sessions of China’s legislature, or National People’s Congress (NPC), would seriously affect its ability to acquire foreign technology.

“China will suffer in the short run but in the medium run they seem to be fine,” said Lourdes Casanova, director at Cornell’s Emerging Markets Institute.

To a great extent, Chinese companies have used three means to acquire technology: the use of borrowed or stolen ideas, the forcible transfer of know-how from foreign partners and the purchase of foreign companies.

Acquisitions by Chinese companies have now become problematic because of growing cautiousness and recent legislation in the United States and European Union.

Some analysts believe there were design defects in the 2025 plan itself, and the government has been rethinking it for some time now.

“The original 2025 plan was too nationalistic and too top down. It was wasteful,” Mats Harborn, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, told VOA.

“They [government leaders] thought technology should be owned by Chinese companies. There was a ‘we can do this on our own’ attitude,”

“There is a shift or maturity in understanding. There is an understanding that China cannot do all things on its own. It has to use international value chains and integrate as much as possible,” Harborn said.

New information emerging now suggests there has been a struggle within the government about the suitability of this grandiose plan.

“It [the strategy] should not have been done that way anyway. I was against it from the start, I did not agree very much with it,” Lou Jiwei, China’s finance minister between 2013 and 2016, said on the sidelines of the legislative meeting in Beijing.

Other legislators told VOA the government is making adjustments in accordance with public opinion.

Putting less emphasis on Made in China 2025 “reflects a more rational approach by the government, to reduce unnecessary obstacles, noises and reaction, to keep moving forward in a positive direction,” said Tang Nong, a NPC delegate from Guangxi.

“The government is moving forward with the 13th Five-Year plan. What is Made in China 2025, is it a plan or a broad outline?” asked Sun Xianzhong, an NPC delegate and professor of international law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Analysts believe the government may revamp and repackage the plan, but it is unlikely to soften its efforts.

“The government remains committed to moving China’s economy up the value chain and will continue to use a variety of active industrial policies to achieve this goal,” said Duncan Innes-Ker, regional director for Asia at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Harborn believes the government will shift from the idea of acquiring new technologies to absorbing them in the industrial value chain.

“This is a wakeup call. The new focus will be on integrating the best technologies at the best price and creating the best final product or service,” he said.

State owned companies in China may be better able to readjust themselves if the 2025 plan is revamped because their focus is more on revenues than on profit.

“For a state-owned company, profits going down in favor of revenues or jobs, so what’s the problem? They are fine,” said Casanova adding, “Profits are less or not of primary consideration.”

 

 

 

From: MeNeedIt

Global Backlash Over Boeing 737 MAX-8 Growing After Deadly Crash

Australia and Singapore have suspended the Boeing 737 Max 8 passenger jet from operating in their respective airspaces, joining a growing list of countries taking precautionary measures involving the troubled plane after its second fatal crash in five months.

 

Airlines in countries across the globe, including China, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, have grounded all the 737 Max 8 jets in their respective fleets after 157 passengers and crew were killed when a 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed Sunday shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa.

Statements from both Australia’s and Singapore’s civil aviation authorities say the suspensions are temporary while the investigation into Sunday’s tragedy continues. The suspensions affect Fiji Airlines and Singapore’s SilkAir, which was already suspended from operating by the city-state.

 

The Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 was the same model as the one that crashed into the Java Sea in October, just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing 189 people.

 

At least two witnesses say they saw smoke coming from the back of the plane before it crashed.

 

Investigators have found the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, which they hope will give them clues as to why the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet went down en route to Nairobi.

 

Indonesian investigators said information from the flight data recorder showed the plane’s automatic safety system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose downward despite the pilots’ desperate attempts to maintain control.

 

Tributes and condolences poured in Monday for the victims of Sunday’s crash, who hailed from at least 35 countries and included 22 United Nations staff members heading to a U.N. environmental conference in Nairobi.

 

Flags at the conference were lowered to half-staff Monday. The Nairobi conference and a General Assembly meeting in New York both opened with moments of silence.

“A global tragedy has hit close to home, and the United Nations is united in grief. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims, to the government and people of Ethiopia, and all these affected by this disaster,” Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in New York.

 

The victims were also remembered at U.N. refugee headquarters in Geneva and at the State Department in Washington.

 

Menur Nur Mohamed lost his brother Ahmed on the doomed plane. Ahmed Nur Mohamed was the co-pilot.

 

“Me and my brother grew up together. He wasn’t only my brother, but also my friend,” Mohamed told Tsion Tadesse of VOA’s Horn of Africa service.

 

Mohamed said he learned of his brother’s death when the head of Ethiopian Airlines mentioned his name.

 

Boeing shares plunged seven percent Monday on Wall Street.

 

From: MeNeedIt

White House: Trump Wants 5% Cut in 2020 Domestic Spending

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says that President Donald Trump will call for a 5 percent “across the board” cut in domestic government spending in 2020 when he proposes his new budget on Monday.

“It will be a tough budget,” Kudlow told the Fox News Sunday show. “We’re going to do our own caps this year and I think it’s long overdue.”

Kudlow said that “some of these recent budget deals have not been favorable towards spending. So, I think it’s exactly the right prescription.”

Trump’s third budget proposal during his presidency, for the year starting in October, is expected to draw wide opposition from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans, setting off months of debate just weeks after a record 35-day government shutdown over government spending in the current year was ended.

The recent dispute centered on Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration. When Congress rejected Trump’s request, he declared a national emergency to bypass congressional authorization to tap money allocated for other projects to build the wall. Congress is now considering whether to revoke the emergency declaration and 16 states have sued to overturn it.

U.S. news outlets reported Trump will seek at least another $8.6 billion in new wall funding in the 2020 budget. The reports said the budget cuts will not affect popular programs providing health care funding and pensions for older Americans, but will pare other funding for domestic programs while boosting defense outlays.

Kudlow said he expects a new fight over border wall funding.

But he contended that Trump has justified his call for the wall’s construction even though surveys in the U.S. show that a majority of voters oppose it.

“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is a paramount of importance,” Kudlow said. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case effectively. It’s a crisis of economics, it’s a crisis of crime and drugs, it’s a crisis of just of humanity.”

For years, U.S. presidents and Congress have squabbled over the budgets, what to spend taxpayer dollars on and the size of the annual deficits, often hundreds of billions of dollars that add to the country’s long-term debt of more than $22 trillion. The current budget is more than $4.4 trillion, with a deficit of about $1 trillion expected, largely because of tax cuts Congress approved a year ago at Trump’s behest.

There are signs the U.S. economy, which grew at a 2.9 percent pace last year, is slowing, but Kudlow said he was not worried by some predictions that say the American economy, the world’s largest, will only advance between 1 and 2 percent in the first three months of the year and that the overall advance for 2019 will be just above 2 percent.

“I’m not going to score it just yet,” Kudlow said. “I’ll take the over on that forecast. As long as we keep our policies intact, low tax rates for individuals and businesses, across the board deregulation, lighten the paperwork, let small businesses breathe and get a good rate of return. The president has ended the war on business. The president has provided incentives for economic growth. we’ve opened up the energy sector. Our policies are strong and I think the growth rate this coming year will exceed these estimates just as they have last year.”

He added, “If the markets were overwhelmingly worried about our budgets and our spending and our deficits, you would see that interest rate rise and be a greater penalty. I don’t see it right now. Long run, we do want to reduce the burden of spending and borrowing, absolutely.”

The U.S. added just 20,000 new jobs in February, but Kudlow described the figure as “a very fluky number,” attributing the weak hiring to the partial government shutdown that ended in late January.

Kudlow said the U.S. is “making good progress” in ongoing trade talks with China although an agreement has not yet been reached.

“As the president said,  across the board, the deal has to be good for the United States, for our workers and our farmers and our manufacturers, got to be good,” Kudlow said. “It’s got be fair and reciprocal. It has to be enforceable. That’s an important point.”

From: MeNeedIt

White House: Trump Wants 5% Cut in 2020 Domestic Spending

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says that President Donald Trump will call for a 5 percent “across the board” cut in domestic government spending in 2020 when he proposes his new budget on Monday.

“It will be a tough budget,” Kudlow told the Fox News Sunday show. “We’re going to do our own caps this year and I think it’s long overdue.”

Kudlow said that “some of these recent budget deals have not been favorable towards spending. So, I think it’s exactly the right prescription.”

Trump’s third budget proposal during his presidency, for the year starting in October, is expected to draw wide opposition from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans, setting off months of debate just weeks after a record 35-day government shutdown over government spending in the current year was ended.

The recent dispute centered on Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration. When Congress rejected Trump’s request, he declared a national emergency to bypass congressional authorization to tap money allocated for other projects to build the wall. Congress is now considering whether to revoke the emergency declaration and 16 states have sued to overturn it.

U.S. news outlets reported Trump will seek at least another $8.6 billion in new wall funding in the 2020 budget. The reports said the budget cuts will not affect popular programs providing health care funding and pensions for older Americans, but will pare other funding for domestic programs while boosting defense outlays.

Kudlow said he expects a new fight over border wall funding.

But he contended that Trump has justified his call for the wall’s construction even though surveys in the U.S. show that a majority of voters oppose it.

“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is a paramount of importance,” Kudlow said. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case effectively. It’s a crisis of economics, it’s a crisis of crime and drugs, it’s a crisis of just of humanity.”

For years, U.S. presidents and Congress have squabbled over the budgets, what to spend taxpayer dollars on and the size of the annual deficits, often hundreds of billions of dollars that add to the country’s long-term debt of more than $22 trillion. The current budget is more than $4.4 trillion, with a deficit of about $1 trillion expected, largely because of tax cuts Congress approved a year ago at Trump’s behest.

There are signs the U.S. economy, which grew at a 2.9 percent pace last year, is slowing, but Kudlow said he was not worried by some predictions that say the American economy, the world’s largest, will only advance between 1 and 2 percent in the first three months of the year and that the overall advance for 2019 will be just above 2 percent.

“I’m not going to score it just yet,” Kudlow said. “I’ll take the over on that forecast. As long as we keep our policies intact, low tax rates for individuals and businesses, across the board deregulation, lighten the paperwork, let small businesses breathe and get a good rate of return. The president has ended the war on business. The president has provided incentives for economic growth. we’ve opened up the energy sector. Our policies are strong and I think the growth rate this coming year will exceed these estimates just as they have last year.”

He added, “If the markets were overwhelmingly worried about our budgets and our spending and our deficits, you would see that interest rate rise and be a greater penalty. I don’t see it right now. Long run, we do want to reduce the burden of spending and borrowing, absolutely.”

The U.S. added just 20,000 new jobs in February, but Kudlow described the figure as “a very fluky number,” attributing the weak hiring to the partial government shutdown that ended in late January.

Kudlow said the U.S. is “making good progress” in ongoing trade talks with China although an agreement has not yet been reached.

“As the president said,  across the board, the deal has to be good for the United States, for our workers and our farmers and our manufacturers, got to be good,” Kudlow said. “It’s got be fair and reciprocal. It has to be enforceable. That’s an important point.”

From: MeNeedIt

Center of Christianity Has its First Mormon Temple

Europe’s largest Mormon temple will be dedicated over three days starting Sunday. Russell Nelson, president of the world’s 16 million Mormons, will be in Rome for the dedication ceremonies. No expense has been spared on Italy’s first temple, a magnificence, Mormons say, that is justified by faith.

The entire leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon Church, has for the first time gathered outside of the United States for a very special occasion, the dedication of its temple in the eternal city. For the more than 25,000 Italian Mormons and the many others who will travel to Rome, this temple has special significance, as Italy’s representative of the Mormons, Alessandro Dini-Ciacci explains.

“Rome is the center of Christianity. Here’s where the apostles Peter and Paul, the early apostles of the Church of Christ came to preach and bear their testimony. We are followers of Jesus Christ. We love the Savior,” says Dini-Ciacci. “The temple we just built as a statement of our belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world in our belief that life goes on after we die and that families can be together. That is the focus of our temples. The ordinances that bind families together.”

 

The Mormons have 162 temples in different parts of the world and 40 more have already been announced for a church growing in numbers. No expense was spared for Rome’s towering white “house of the Lord.”

“The temple was built with the finest materials, is very refined, as our offering of love. Our show of love for the Savior and his father. That’s why we choose the best materials possible,” said Dini-Ciacci. “There’s Carrara marbles, stained glass, fine fabrics. It is all a tribute to our heavenly father.”

 

Elder Dini-Ciacci said it took a decade to build the 3,800 square meter temple.

He would not give a figure for how much the temple cost but simply said “it’s a cost of faith.” One of the 10 commandments of the Mormons, he added, is to keep the law of tithing which allows the church to pay for temples and all operations. He said the money spent on temples is far less than what the Church spends on humanitarian aid.

 

Members of the Church abide by rules which include chastity outside of marriage.

 

“We keep the Ten Commandments. We ask people to treat their bodies as temples. So we ask them not to pollute them with drugs or alcoholic beverages. We ask them not to smoke. That is what we believe was revealed to one of our prophets for the benefit of all out members,” said Dini-Ciacci.

 

The church’s leader, Prophet Russel Nelson, met with Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican. It was the first time a head of the Church of Latter Day Saints met with a pope. While the two churches differ in doctrine, they share concerns like human suffering, the importance of religious liberty and of building bridges of friendship.

 

 

 

From: MeNeedIt

Center of Christianity Has its First Mormon Temple

Europe’s largest Mormon temple will be dedicated over three days starting Sunday. Russell Nelson, president of the world’s 16 million Mormons, will be in Rome for the dedication ceremonies. No expense has been spared on Italy’s first temple, a magnificence, Mormons say, that is justified by faith.

The entire leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon Church, has for the first time gathered outside of the United States for a very special occasion, the dedication of its temple in the eternal city. For the more than 25,000 Italian Mormons and the many others who will travel to Rome, this temple has special significance, as Italy’s representative of the Mormons, Alessandro Dini-Ciacci explains.

“Rome is the center of Christianity. Here’s where the apostles Peter and Paul, the early apostles of the Church of Christ came to preach and bear their testimony. We are followers of Jesus Christ. We love the Savior,” says Dini-Ciacci. “The temple we just built as a statement of our belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world in our belief that life goes on after we die and that families can be together. That is the focus of our temples. The ordinances that bind families together.”

 

The Mormons have 162 temples in different parts of the world and 40 more have already been announced for a church growing in numbers. No expense was spared for Rome’s towering white “house of the Lord.”

“The temple was built with the finest materials, is very refined, as our offering of love. Our show of love for the Savior and his father. That’s why we choose the best materials possible,” said Dini-Ciacci. “There’s Carrara marbles, stained glass, fine fabrics. It is all a tribute to our heavenly father.”

 

Elder Dini-Ciacci said it took a decade to build the 3,800 square meter temple.

He would not give a figure for how much the temple cost but simply said “it’s a cost of faith.” One of the 10 commandments of the Mormons, he added, is to keep the law of tithing which allows the church to pay for temples and all operations. He said the money spent on temples is far less than what the Church spends on humanitarian aid.

 

Members of the Church abide by rules which include chastity outside of marriage.

 

“We keep the Ten Commandments. We ask people to treat their bodies as temples. So we ask them not to pollute them with drugs or alcoholic beverages. We ask them not to smoke. That is what we believe was revealed to one of our prophets for the benefit of all out members,” said Dini-Ciacci.

 

The church’s leader, Prophet Russel Nelson, met with Pope Francis on Saturday at the Vatican. It was the first time a head of the Church of Latter Day Saints met with a pope. While the two churches differ in doctrine, they share concerns like human suffering, the importance of religious liberty and of building bridges of friendship.

 

 

 

From: MeNeedIt

Parliament Facing Brexit Decisions, More Drama, Deadline

After months of Brexit deadlock, this is it: decision time. At least for now.

 

With Britain scheduled to leave the European Union in less than three weeks, U.K. lawmakers are poised to choose the country’s immediate direction from among three starkly different choices: deal, no deal or delay.

A look at what might happen:

 

Deal deja vu

 

The House of Commons has a second vote scheduled Tuesday on a deal laying out the terms of Britain’s orderly departure from the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May and EU officials agreed to the agreement in December, but U.K. lawmakers voted 432-202 in January to reject it. To get it approved by March 29, the day set for Brexit, May needs to persuade 116 of them to change their minds — a tough task.

 

Opposition to the deal in Parliament centers on a section that is designed to ensure there are no customs checks or border posts between EU member Ireland and the U.K.’s Northern Ireland. Pro-Brexit lawmakers dislike that the border “backstop” keeps the U.K. entwined with EU trade rules. May has been seeking changes to reassure them the situation would be temporary, but the EU refuses to reopen the withdrawal agreement.

 

Around 100 hard-core Brexit supporters in May’s Conservative Party look set to oppose the deal unless the backstop is altered. To offset them, May has courted the opposition Labour Party with promises of money for urban regeneration.

 

Oliver Patel, a research associate at the European Institute at University College London, says “it’s highly unlikely the deal will be passed. The big question is, what will the margin be?”

 

If, against the odds, lawmakers approve the deal, a short delay to Brexit may be needed so Parliament can translate the agreement’s terms into British law. But the U.K. would be on course to leave the EU in the next few months, with a long transition period built in to help people and businesses get used to the new relationship.

 

May will have delivered on her promise of an orderly Brexit — and snatched an astonishing political victory from the jaws of widely predicted defeat.

 

Destination no-deal

 

If the deal is rejected, lawmakers expect to vote Wednesday on whether to abandon efforts to secure an agreement and leave the EU as planned on March 29 without a deal.

 

That idea is backed by a phalanx of pro-Brexit politicians, who say it would cut Britain free of EU rules and red tape, allowing the country to forge an independent global trade policy.

 

But economists and businesses fear a so-called “no-deal Brexit” would hammer the economy as tariffs and other trade barriers go up between Britain and the EU, its biggest trading partner.

 

In the short term, there could be gridlock at British ports and shortages of fresh produce. In the long run, the government says a no-deal scenario would leave the economy 6 percent to 9 percent smaller over 15 years than remaining in the EU.

 

Last month, Parliament passed a non-binding amendment ruling out a “no-deal” Brexit, so lawmakers are unlikely to go with it now.

 

Delay, delay, delay 

If lawmakers reject leaving the EU without an agreement, they have one choice left: seek more time. A vote scheduled for Thursday would decide whether to ask the EU to delay Britain’s departure by up to three months.

 

This is likely to pass, since politicians on both sides of the debate fear time is running out to secure an orderly Brexit by March 29.

 

An extension requires approval from all 27 remaining EU member countries. They will probably agree, possibly at a March 21-22 summit in Brussels. But they are reluctant to grant a delay that stretches past elections for the EU’s legislature, the European Parliament, in late May.

 

Crisis deferred

 

Whatever the U.K. Parliament decides, this week will not bring an end to Britain’s Brexit crisis. Both lawmakers and the public remain split between backers of a clean break from the EU and those who favor continuing a close relationship — either through a post-Brexit trade deal or by reversing the decision to leave.

 

May is unwilling to abandon her hard-won Brexit agreement and might try to put it to Parliament a third time, especially if she loses by a small margin on Tuesday. But some lawmakers want her to have Parliament consider different forms of Brexit to see if there is a majority for any course of action.

 

Maddy Thimont-Jack, a researcher at the Institute for Government think tank, said this week’s votes could force the famously stubborn May to compromise.

 

“If she loses the vote by quite a significant margin again, it really suggests that what she has done is just not going to fly,” Thimont-Jack said. “In which case she will be under a lot of pressure to follow what Parliament wants.”

 

Some think the only way forward is a snap election that could rearrange the forces in Parliament and break the political deadlock. May has ruled that out, but could come to see it as her only option.

 

And anti-Brexit campaigners haven’t abandoned efforts to secure a new referendum on whether to remain in the EU. The government opposes the idea, which at the moment also lacks majority support in Parliament.

 

But that could change if the political paralysis drags on. The Labour Party has said it would support a second referendum if other options were exhausted.

 

It all means more twists are coming in the Brexit drama.

 

“No one really believes this is the last chance saloon,” Patel said.

 

 

 

From: MeNeedIt