Sep 22, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 9/21-22/2019

Bikram Yoga, Sexual Abuse, Toronto Film Festival, Ambash, Polygamy, Israel, Herbalife, Nuskin, Tupperware, Avon, Multi-Level Marketing,  Uyghurs, China, Religious Freedom 

NY Post: Toronto film festival 2019: 'Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator' movie review
"Looks like Bikram yoga may not be hot for much longer.
Bikram Choudhury, the famous founder of the sweat-soaked practice, has come under fire in the U.S. for sex abuse allegations over the past few years, though his branded technique is still being taught in studios around the country. He's also still personally teaching massive classes abroad – but his days as a guru may be numbered if victims continue coming forward.

In just the few days since the scorching Netflix documentary "Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator" premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, six additional women have reached out to Aussie director Eva Orner to say they, too, were abused, she told a screening audience at the festival on Thursday afternoon. "Women have to speak up, and men have to support them," said Orner, whose documentary chronicles the rise of Choudhury as a celebrity yoga guru in America, dating back to the Nixon presidency. In one of the Indian yogi's many dubious claims, he actually says the president was one of his first American clients – and gifted him his green card as thanks.

Choudhury went on to become one of the key people to popularize the practice of yoga in the U.S., claiming that his special series of 26 poses and two breathing techniques would cure just about every ailment under the sun. He did it while cranking the heat in his classrooms up to punishing extremes (though, Orner shows in class footage, he would sit on a throne in the middle of his gigantic Beverly Hills classroom with a personal air conditioner blowing on his head).

Unlike many soft-spoken, New Agey yoga practitioners, Choudhury had an outsize personality and an impish and sometimes downright bullying style that appealed to hardcore exercise enthusiasts, who didn't mind being called "chickens–t" and "bitch" and having their fat mocked while trying to contort themselves into his poses. On the contrary, one adherent after another gushes in the documentary about the magical, life-changing properties of c – and of Bikram himself. "He could look in your eyes and you just feel he could see into your soul," says one teacher who remains close to him."

" ... 'We wanted to run for the Knesset in the previous election, but we couldn't, due to procedural obstacles,' say A., one of the wives of Daniel Ambash, the leader of a cult who was convicted of sadistic abuse of his family members in 2013 and sentenced to 26 years in prison for holding them in slavery conditions. "When we heard that another round of national elections would take place, we decided that we just had to run. We owe it to our fellow citizens. Because of what we've gone through, we want to help all the women and men who've ever been wronged or had their rights trampled upon."

Despite the fact that Ambash has been convicted, and is currently in prison serving time, four out of his six wives still support him. At the beginning of the summer, these women officially registered their new political party known as Kama (Advancing Individual Rights). "We don't care what people think about us," claims A. 'We have an obligation to our thousands of supporters to fix our crippled society. We've been greatly mistreated by the Israel police, by the prosecutor's office and by the courts. We've seen firsthand the corruption in these organizations, how they mistreat simple citizens who have no power when they come up against these powerful institutions. They have no chance of winning. We are religious women, true believers who are asking that God helps us to bring about a change and help the Israeli people achieve the civil liberties they deserve.'"

"Stock market drops and flat or declining revenues for the multi-level marketing, MLM, sector, e.g., Herbalife, Nuskin, Tupperware, Avon, indicate a downward shift in fortune. The cause is being debated.

Wall Street may choose to overlook MLM ethics, tactics and its negative social and financial consequences, but cannot ignore the decline in the MLM "brand" on Main Street.

In particular a popular new series on Showtime depicting MLM as a "scammy pyramid scheme" indicates the "brand" of MLM is being discredited, ridiculed and widely viewed as socially harmful.

The MLM industry is publicly reacting to the Showtime series, urging MLM companies not to "overreact" for fear of 'creating a perception that the show has hit a nerve or hit too close to home – that it's revealing a 'hidden truth'".

"You have just published "The Black Book of Religious Persecution in China" with readings from the Bitter Winter news service. What prompted you to take an interest in this?

Massimo Introvigne: I realized that some of the articles in Bitter Winter could be put together and rearranged as a coherent narrative about religious persecution in China. The book was basically already written, although it needed editing and coordination between the different chapters in order to become readable. It is in Italian but we are ready to consider proposals for other languages,

It appears that old-fashioned Communism is alive and well in China – the kind that despised religion as "the opium of the people". Is the persecution motivated by Marxist doctrines or just cultural xenophobia?

Persecution is mostly motivated by power and control. The CCP believes that civil society, including -- particularly -- religion, was left unchecked in Eastern Europe and caused the collapse of Communism there. It does not want to repeat the same mistake. For some CCP leaders, power means keeping their luxurious lifestyle. But others are true believers, persuaded that by saving the power of CCP, the last genuine fortress of Marxism, they are saving the world.

Is President Xi Jinping personally responsible for this hatred of religion and the persecution? Will things change if he departs?

Xi Jinping did bring some personal ideas. He promotes the thesis of the superiority of Chinese culture -- by which he means Han culture, to be imposed on non-Mandarin speaking minorities such as Tibetans and Uyghurs, whose languages he would like to eradicate."

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