Nigeria's president warns the kidnappers that his government will not give in to blackmail.
After a white van advertised COVID-19 vaccines to a central-Indian slum, many of its residents feel duped after finding out they were in a trial.
United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Friday that China is restricting basic civil and political freedoms in the name of national security and COVID-19 measures, adding to a wave of criticism of the country's rights record. "Activists, lawyers and human rights defenders – as well as some foreign nationals – face arbitrary criminal charges, detention or unfair trials," Bachelet told the Human Rights Council. More than 600 people in Hong Kong are being investigated for taking part in protests, some under the new national security law imposed by mainland China on the former British colony, she said.
HARUMI OZAWATOKYO—Even by the standards of the alleged kooks and conmen commonly found on the CPAC roster, one of this year’s speakers has an extraordinary background that includes fronting an organization that claimed—in all seriousness—to be able to channel Donald Trump’s guardian deity through a magical medium.The former political leader of a Japanese cult called Happy Science, Jay “Hiroaki” Aeba, is on the bill for Friday.Like Trump, Aeba has been accused of fraud back home but he doesn’t think that should be held against him.We asked Aeba for clarification but didn’t get a reply. He is now head of the Japanese Conservative Union although he said last year he was still a believer in Happy Science.Aeba’s guru, Ryuho Okawa, claims to be a Venusian god named El Cantare who created life on earth—and is also a reincarnation of the Buddha, just in case you were wondering. Okawa is not only a snazzy dresser and a self-proclaimed deity, but he says he has the power to channel the spirits of any person, living or dead. He claims to have had a great awakening in 1981 and subsequently founded the Happy Science religion (Kofuku no Kagaku) in 1986. In American terms, he’s like Billy Graham crossed with Shirley MacLaine. He’s channeled the spirits of Jesus, Kim Jong II, and in 2016, he even managed to obtain an exclusive interview with the guardian spirit of Donald Trump.In that amazing encounter, Trump’s spirit correctly stated, via Okawa, that he would be the next president.You’ve never quite seen anything like the spirit of Donald Trump possessing a Japanese visionary and discussing New York cheesecake as a political metaphor. It’s too bad that the God (Okawa) himself can’t make it to CPAC but at least his former disciple Aeba is speaking.CPAC, which runs through Sunday afternoon, features the best and the brightest of the Republican party and its allies, such as insurrection rousing Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, and the usual assortment of foxes and fiends from Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Aeba is scheduled to take the podium right after Donald Trump Jr. and speak about China’s threat to the U.S.This will not be the first time that Aeba has spoken at the event—indeed, he claims to be the first Japanese man to speak on the mainstage of the event. If you read Aeba’s online profile in English, there appear to be no outright lies at first glance, but there are what the Jesuits would call some sins of omission.He is a self-proclaimed conservative commentator and columnist and chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union (JCU) which was founded in 2015. The profile says, “Jay attended his first CPAC in 2011 and founded JCU in 2015 as a counterpart to the American Conservative Union (ACU). In 2017, JCU and ACU co-hosted the first-ever international CPAC in Tokyo, where experts from across the Indo-Pacific met to discuss such critical issues as the economic and military security of the region in the face of Chinese expansionism, the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, the development and regulation of the cryptocurrency market…. To date, JCU and ACU have hosted four Japanese CPACs”.All of this is true. What his biography fails to mention is that Aeba was a member of Japan’s Happy Science cult for many years, and was also a major figure in the creation of their political arm, the Happiness Realization Party.Ostensibly, the Happy Science cult teaches that Okawa, the founder, is a god, and only by following his teachings can one obtain happiness in this life and the next. They believe in aliens, reincarnation, and multi-dimensions. Some of the teachings are modeled after the Buddhist eightfold path and preach love, wisdom, and self-reflection. Yet at the same time, the cult also teaches that the Nanjing massacre never happened and that Japan must scrap its pacifist constitution, rearm to the max, and prepare for a cataclysmic war.One weekly magazine reported the group’s total capital as being close to $1.8 billion—money made from encouraging believers to buy copies of Okawa’s many books, from extracting lavish donations from followers, and for self-help seminars conducted by the organization. Of course, they also sell prayers and charms. During the pandemic, Happy Science found itself in hot water for selling “cures” for COVID-19.Happy Science—not content to just be a spiritual power—launched its own political party in 2009, and Aeba was the first party leader. He went on to serve as the research division chief and held many other positions within the party. In 2011, while attending his first CPAC, he was still an executive member of the Happiness Realization Party and presumably began networking with America’s conservative elite in the hopes of gaining the Happiness Party an aura of legitimacy.Aeba, who also used the alias Jikido “Jay” Aeba, and sometimes goes by Jay H. Aeba, was born in 1967 and graduated from the elite Keio University Law Division in 1989. In 1990, he joined the headquarters of Happy Science and in May 2009, he became their political leader. He served as the organization's public relations chief. In 2013, he became the chief of the research and investigation division. In 2015, he ostensibly left the party and created the Japanese Conservative Union. It’s not entirely clear what relationship Aeba has had with his former party after the creation of JCU but his relations with Happy Science seem strained—much like Trump’s relationship with the GOP. Although, in an interview published last year in SEIRON magazine, he said that he was still a believer in Happy Science.On April 6, 2020, he changed his name to Hiroaki Aeba. Three days later, on April 9, Happy Science publicly disavowed having any connection to Hiroaki Aeba aka Jikido Aeba and the JCU on their website. Why? Possibly because in April last year two magazines reported on a scandal within the JCU that seemed to implicate Aeba in possible fraud involving cryptocurrency. According to the articles, Aeba collected nearly $9 million to create a virtual currency called Liberty. In his fund-raising efforts, he used a photo of himself and Donald Trump in a pamphlet handed out to potential investors. The photo was enough to convince many of his credibility.The Japanese media reports that it is still a mystery as to what happened to the nearly $9 million in funding used to create the virtual currency, and it has resulted in internal fighting within the JCU.The JCU told The Daily Beast in an email about the alleged cryptocurrency misconduct: “Jay [Aeba] and JCU are proceeding to deal with and address this issue with the cooperation of experts including lawyers.”One thing is certain: the photo of Trump and Aeba is actually real.There are some similarities between Aeba and Trump. They are both political opportunists, charismatic speakers, adept at using celebrity connections to enhance their image—and both of them have been accused of fraud. For Aeba, his pictures and meetings with Trump have given him an air of prestige and access among Japan’s arch-conservatives. He may have used that for his own personal gain rather than for the benefit of the Happy Science cult, but it seems to be working out fine.While Aeba was a member of the Happiness Realization Party, the cult’s political arm, he gave them access to the wealth and influence of the Republican Party. JCU told The Daily Beast: “Since its establishment [in 2015] JCU has never had any relation with Happy Science (HS) or the Happiness Realization Party (HRP). As for Chairman Jay Aeba, he also has completely left the HS organization and HRP now. In terms of his personal religious belief, we do not know because the JCU has a policy of religious freedom for all members and staff.”Trump supporters at CPAC may worry that the Republican Party is trying to move on from the Trump era, but even if he returns as the presidential nominee for 2024, Trump is mortal, and unlike cult-leader Okawa, he doesn’t claim he will be reincarnated again and again and live on forever.That’s where the Happy Science cult comes in handy. Even after he’s dead, the ghost of Trump can keep calling the shots via a magical medium for years to come.Now, isn’t that something to be happy about?Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The problem in 2020 was with the Republican candidate. That won't change in 2024 if Trump stays on top.
A pilot at American Airlines radioed Sunday that an unidentified object flew over their jet during a flight while they were over New Mexico.
At least two political rights groups advocating democracy have quietly quit Hong Kong and moved overseas, unnerved by a national security law that has fanned fears over the erosion of freedoms under China’s rule, sources told Reuters. In the past, China-focused rights groups had valued the wide-ranging autonomy, including freedom of speech and assembly, guaranteed for Hong Kong when control over the former British colony was returned to Beijing in 1997. But some non-government organisations (NGOs) say the new legislation means they face a choice of either having to leave Hong Kong or work with the same kind of fears and constraints they would encounter in mainland China.
The president is set to tour the state with Gov. Greg Abbott.
The German chancellor said she wasn't eligible because the vaccine isn't approved for people over 65 in Germany.
KOEN VAN WEELPrince Harry has said that he stepped back from royal duties because the British press was “toxic” and “destroying” his mental health.In an extraordinary interview unparalleled in the annals of royal history, Harry gave a candid interview to his close friend James Corden on The Late Late Show while they toured Los Angeles on an open-air double-decker bus. Corden was a guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018 and arrived at the evening reception dressed as Henry VIII. Another guest at the wedding, Oprah Winfrey, has taped an interview primarily with Meghan that will be screened next weekend.Oprah Winfrey’s Interview With Meghan Markle and Harry Will ‘Shine a Light on What They Have Been Through’The two men were served afternoon tea, which Corden said he had provided to remind Harry of home, however the tea service was abandoned after the bus braked sharply, depositing the contents of a tea trolley on top of the prince.“Clear it up, Harry,” Corden joked as the prince picked up tea cups and scones.While the 17-minute long package had a humorous tone and was packed with jokes and gags, it also provided the most candid insight yet into why Harry withdrew from royal duties.Asked about his decision to leave royal life, Harry said he was left with no choice because the British press “was destroying my mental health.”He said of the “toxic” situation: “I did what any husband and father would do—I need to get my family out of here.”In what will be perceived as a dig at the royal establishment that refused to accept Harry and Meghan’s proposal of a hybrid public-private role, Harry said: “We never walked away, and as far as I’m concerned, what decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.”Royal Family ‘Wringing Their Hands’ at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ActivismHarry said that his life now would continue to be about “public service” and added that he and Meghan were “trying to bring some compassion and try to make people happy and try to change the world in any small way we can.”When Harry said he and Meghan often watched Jeopardy! and Netflix (with whom the couple recently signed a $100 million production deal) in the evenings after putting Archie to bed, Corden asked him about The Crown and its controversial portrayal of his family’s history.Harry, who joked he would like to be played in the series by Damian Lewis, said he preferred it to the tabloid media coverage of the royals because it “does not pretend to be news.”He added: “It’s fictional. But it’s loosely based on the truth.“Of course it’s not strictly accurate, but it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle—the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else—what can come from that.”He continued: “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife or myself, because it’s the difference between fiction—take it how you will—and being reported on as fact because you’re supposedly news. I have a real issue with that.”Harry also opened up about meeting Meghan and how he knew she was the one on their second date.“We hit it off with each other, and we were just so comfortable in each other’s company,” he said.“Dating me or any member of the royal family is kind of flipped upside down. All the dates become dinners or watching the TV or chatting at home.“We went from zero to 60 in the first two months.”Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, made a cameo in the interview via FaceTime when Harry and Corden paid a trip to the house from the ’90s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.When Corden suggested the couple should buy the house, Meghan said: “I think we’ve done enough moving.”During the visit to the house, Corden and Harry spoke to the owner and jokingly made an offer to buy it, before Harry asked if he could use the toilet.“I’m actually dying for a pee. Can I use your bathroom?” he asked.Showing that family relations are at least still somewhat functional, Harry said his grandmother, the queen, bought his son Archie a waffle maker for Christmas.He revealed Meghan now makes waffles with a “beautiful organic mix” and they eat them for breakfast with toppings including berries and syrup.He also said that both his grandparents know how to use Zoom, but joked that his grandfather slams the laptop shut physically to finish a call.Over to you, Oprah.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
An official report says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the journalist's murder.
From "fake snow" to Bill Gates, conspiracy theories about the Texas storm are spreading. Right-wing pundits and politicians aren't helping.
Belarus on Friday appointed Viktor Lukashenko, son of President Alexander Lukashenko, to replace his father at the helm of their country's National Olympic Committee after both were banned from attending the Olympic Games. Alexander Lukashenko, who had served as the head of the Belarusian Olympic Committee since 1997, claimed his sixth presidential term in August last year in a vote the opposition says was rigged and marred with violations. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in December last year the leadership of the Belarusian Olympic Committee had "not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination."
The decision to reopen the Texas influx shelter reveals how, in opting for a more humane approach to migrant children, the Biden administration is left dealing with some of the same tough choices that vexed its predecessors.
Just over two weeks after his poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent in Siberia, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny began to respond to the words of his wife Yulia and wake from a drug-induced coma. In the months that followed, Navalny withdrew to a remote corner of the Black Forest. Reuters spoke to more than a dozen people who visited Navalny or communicated with him during his almost five months in Germany.
An international research group examining the fatal shooting of a Palestinian motorist challenged Israeli self-defense claims, saying the man had emerged from his car after it crashed into a checkpoint, did not approach troops and was instantly shot six times. Israel has said 27-year-old Ahmad Erekat intentionally rammed his car into a guard booth at a military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, and that troops killed him in self defense. The London-based group Forensic Architecture, working with the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq, reviewed the June 23 shooting at the request of the Erekat family and released its findings this week.
What Harry thinks of The Crown, what the Queen got Archie for Christmas, and other key information.
Organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday politely reminded guests to wear a mask at the mid-pandemic event — a message that immediately drew backlash from the crowd. At the conservative conference in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, the American Conservative Union's Dan Schneider and Carly Conley took the stage to remind those in attendance to please follow the hotel's rules that masks be worn amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a reminder that Schneider described as a "bit of a downer." "Please, everyone, when you're in the ballroom, when you're seated, you should still be wearing a mask," Conley said. "So if everybody can go ahead, work on that. I know, I know, it's not the must fun." The request at first draw a few stray claps, only to be followed immediately by boos and a member of the crowd yelling, "Freedom!" This comes after Bloomberg's William Turton reported from the event on Thursday, "Just watched a #CPAC staff member ask an attendee multiple times to put his mask on," and "he turned toward her, coughed, and kept walking." Turton added, "I'd say about 60-70 percent of attendees are wearing masks, despite a rule requiring masks." American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlap told Turton he doesn't "know anything about that," also saying enforcing the mask rules is the hotel's job. CPAC hosts get heckled after announcing they must comply with the private venue's mask rules, calling it “a downer” and “not the most fun.” pic.twitter.com/dbuhPuzbFu — The Recount (@therecount) February 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comJosh Hawley, Senator NoJournalist Tim O'Brien, who's seen Trump's taxes, thinks Trump's accountant will now flip in D.A. inquiryGOP lawmakers reportedly cite 'public health emergency' in skipping votes, despite speaking at CPAC
The actress told Variety that she went through her divorce with Sweeting while starring on "The Big Bang Theory."
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Panthers’ picking Mac Jones No. 8 in his latest mock draft. What to make of it.