Pope's Sex Abuse Role, Secret Climate Change Denial Funding, 'One Billion Rising' Spans Globe
Revealing News Articles
February 19, 2013
Below are key excerpts of important news articles on Pope Benedict's role in permitting the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal to go unchecked for decades, discovery of $118 million in secret donations to create the climate change denial movement, 'One Billion Rising' activities all around the globe on Valentine's Day, and more.
Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails, see this page. The most important sentences are highlighted. And don't miss the "What you can do" section below the summaries. By educating ourselves and to spreading the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
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Ensler's Billion Rising Movement Spans The Globe
February 14, 2013, NPR/Associated Press
Organizers say [there are] thousands of events taking place in 205 countries [on Valentine's Day] as part of One Billion Rising, an international call led by Eve Ensler's V-Day organization to end violence against women and girls. Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, announced the campaign last year, urging women and men around the world to walk out of work or school on Feb. 14, 2013, and dance to raise awareness of the troubling U.N. statistic that one in three women worldwide will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. "It's happening, and what we're seeing is really huge uprisings," Ensler said ... in a telephone interview from Congo. "It's amazing because it goes from huge events like in Collins Square in London to six girls in a living room in Iran. That's what's so beautiful about it, like the whole world's doing it in the way they can do it." "The UN has officially endorsed it, and I think unprecedentedly they, at 12:30 today, stopped their work and had a rising at the UN," Ensler said. "The pressure of One Billion Rising is forcing these people to have to say they're going to do something about it," she said. Scheduled stateside events included flash mobs in San Francisco, a Zumba dance party with Jane Fonda in Los Angeles, a special program at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom featuring Rosario Dawson and Glenn Close, and a rally led by Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice A. King on the sunny streets of Atlanta. The outpouring of participation surpassed even Ensler's hopeful dreams.
The 'One Billion Rising' on the Streets of Delhi
February 15, 2013, New York Times
On Valentine's Day in Delhi, the pink band was ubiquitous, tied around arms, on wrists and foreheads, around necks and backpacks. Printed on it were the words "Enough! No More Violence Against Women." 'On Thursday evening, as many set out for the customary Valentine's Day dinner in the nation's capital, several hundred men, women and children gathered at Parliament Street for an unorthodox celebration: a movement using music and dance to oppose violence against women. "We don't want violence; we want love," said Kamla Bhasin, the movement's South Asia coordinator, to a cheering crowd of about 500 people. "We want a just love, a love based on equality." In nearly 200 countries around the world, people took to the streets Thursday with a carnival spirit as part of One Billion Rising, a campaign initiated by Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, to highlight violence against women. In India, the message mirrored widespread public sentiment that has swelled after the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi in December, bringing women's rights and safety to the center stage of civic and political discourse. The campaign Thursday was a continuation of that fight. In recent months, young Indians have poured out in angry protests, condemning a police force that often exists for the preservation of power rather than the protection of people, and a political class that has routinely displayed apathy.
Pope Benedict's Legacy Marred by Sex Abuse Scandal
February 11, 2013, ABC News
When Pope Benedict XVI resigns at the end of this month, he leaves behind a Church grappling with a global fallout from sex abuse and a personal legacy marred by allegations that he was instrumental in covering up that abuse. For 25 years, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Vatican office responsible for investigating claims of sex abuse, but he did not act until he received an explicit order from Pope John Paul II. In 1980, as Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger approved plans for a priest to move to a different German parish and return to pastoral work only days after the priest began therapy for pedophilia. In 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger became head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the office once known as the Inquisition -- making him responsible for upholding church doctrine, and for investigating claims of sexual abuse against clergy. Thousands of letters detailing allegations of abuse were forwarded to Ratzinger's office. A lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a victims' rights group, charges that as head of the church body Ratzinger participated in a cover-up of abuse. The suit alleges that investigators of sex abuse cases in several countries found "intentional cover-ups and affirmative steps taken that serve to perpetuate the violence and exacerbate the harm." "Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, either knew and/or [in] some cases consciously disregarded information that showed subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes," the complaint says.
Note: This is one of the few media stories to reveal what may be the real reason for the Pope's resignation - his direct involvement in protecting priests who were known child sexual abusers. To learn how child sex-abuse rings lead to top levels of leadership around the world, watch the powerful Discovery Channel documentary "Conspiracy of Silence" at this link.
Pope will have security, immunity by remaining in the Vatican
February 15, 2013, Reuters
Pope Benedict's decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say. "His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn't have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else," said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Vatican police, who already know the pope and his habits, will be able to guarantee his privacy and security and not have to entrust it to a foreign police force, which would be necessary if he moved to another country. The pope's potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandals [is a key factor here]. In 2010, for example, Benedict was named as a defendant in a law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades earlier. The lawyers withdrew the case last year. Benedict is currently not named specifically in any other case. The Vatican does not expect any more but is not ruling out the possibility. "(If he lived anywhere else) then we might have those crazies who are filing lawsuits, or some magistrate might arrest him like other (former) heads of state have been for alleged acts while he was head of state," one source said.
Note: To learn how child sex-abuse rings lead to top levels of leadership around the world, watch the powerful Discovery Channel documentary "Conspiracy of Silence" at this link.
RI Records Show Inner Workings of Legion of Christ
February 15, 2013, ABC News/Associated Press
Documents detailing the dubious fundraising practices of a disgraced Roman Catholic religious order called the Legion of Christ were released to the public [on Feb. 15], showing how the organization took control of an elderly woman's finances and persuaded her to bequeath it $60 million. They shed light on the inner workings of a secretive congregation placed under Vatican receivership after the Holy See determined that its founder was a spiritual fraud who sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children with two women. A Rhode Island Superior Court judge said last year that the documents raised a red flag because a steadfastly spiritual elderly woman transferred millions to "clandestinely dubious religious leaders." Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined that its founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, had lived a double life. The pope ordered a wholesale reform of the order and named a papal delegate to oversee it. The Legion scandal is significant because it shows how the Holy See willfully ignored credible allegations of abuse against Maciel for decades, all while holding him up as a model of sainthood for the faithful because he brought in money and vocations to the priesthood. The scandal, which has tarnished the legacy of Pope John Paul II, is the most egregious example of how the Vatican ignored decades of reports about sexually abusive priests because church leaders put the interests of the institution above those of the victims.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sex abuse scandals, click here.
Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks
February 14, 2013, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change. The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives. The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more. By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations. The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions. And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden. "The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. "These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them," Davies said.
Raytheon software trolls social networks
February 12, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
Raytheon, a Massachusetts defense contractor, has built tracking software that pulls information from social networks, according to a video obtained by the Guardian newspaper in London. "[Raytheon] has acknowledged the technology was shared with U.S. government and industry as part of a joint research and development effort, in 2010, to help build a national security system capable of analyzing 'trillions of entities' from cyberspace." Using public data from Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla and Foursquare, the software - called RIOT, or Rapid Information Overlay Technology - apparently gathers uploaded information and forms a profile of a person's every move that was registered with one of the websites. The video obtained by the newspaper starts with a demonstration by Raytheon's "principal investigator," Brian Urch, showing how easy it is to track an employee named Nick - a real person - based on all the places he has checked in using his smartphone. "When people take pictures and post them on the Internet using their smartphones, the phone will actually embed the latitude and longitude in the header data - so we're going to take advantage of that," Urch says. "So now we know where Nick's gone ... and now we'll predict where he'll be in the future." Urch goes on to analyze - using graphs and calendars - where Nick likes to spend his personal time and make predictions about his behavior. "If you ever wanted to get a hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6 a.m. on Monday," Urch says with alarming casualness.
Note: To read the full Guardian article, click here.
Senator Elizabeth Warren grills regulators, ending quiet first month in office
February 14, 2013, Boston Globe
After campaigning last year as an outspoken consumer advocate and Wall Street critic, Senator Elizabeth Warren was surprisingly quiet during her first month on Capitol Hill. But that changed on [Feb. 14] at the Massachusetts senior senator's first hearing, when she rebuked federal regulators for settling civil cases with big banks instead of taking them to trial. Looking at the seven regulators arrayed before the Senate Banking Committee, and noting that she had often sat at the same witness table before becoming a senator, she used her new power to question why the federal government has not been more aggressive. "The question I really want to ask is about how tough you are – about how much leverage you really have," Warren said. "Tell me a little bit about the last few times you've taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to trial." None of the witnesses – representing the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and others – offered a response. Warren seized the hearing to chide regulators for not taking legal stands against Wall Street, saying that the threat of trial is an important tool in keeping big banks in line, despite the vast resources required to do so. "If a party is unwilling to go to trial – either because they're too timid or they lack resources – the consequence is they have a lot less leverage," Warren said. "If [banks] can break the law and drag in billions in profits and then turn around and settle paying out of those profits, they don't have that much incentive to follow the law."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt regulation of financial activities, click here.
Incomes Flat in Recovery, but Not for the 1%
February 16, 2013, New York Times
Incomes rose more than 11 percent for the top 1 percent of earners during the economic recovery, but not at all for everybody else. The numbers, produced by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, show overall income growing by just 1.7 percent over the period. But there was a wide gap between the top 1 percent, whose earnings rose by 11.2 percent, and the other 99 percent, whose earnings declined by 0.4 percent. Mr. Saez, a winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, an economic laurel considered second only to the Nobel, concluded that "the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s." Excluding earnings from investment gains, the top 10 percent of earners took 46.5 percent of all income in 2011, the highest proportion since 1917, Mr. Saez said, citing a large body of work on earnings distribution over the last century that he has produced with the economist Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on income inequality, click here.
Wild hospital cost disparities revealed
February 11, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle/New York Times
Jaime Rosenthal, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, called more than 100 hospitals in every state last summer, seeking prices for a hip replacement for a 62-year-old grandmother who was uninsured but had the means to pay herself. Only about half of the hospitals, including top-ranked orthopedic centers and community hospitals, could provide any sort of price estimate, despite repeated calls. Those that could gave quotes that varied by a factor of more than 10, from $11,100 to $125,798. Rosenthal's grandmother was fictitious, created for a summer research project on health care costs. But the findings, which form the basis of a paper released Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine, [highlight] the unsustainable growth of U.S. health care costs and an opaque medical system in which prices are often hidden from consumers. Although many experts have said that Americans must become more discerning consumers to help rein in health care costs, the study illustrates how hard that can be. Researchers emphasized that studies have found little consistent correlation between higher prices and better quality in U.S. health care. Cram said there was no data that "Mercedes" hip implants were better than cheaper options, for example. Jamie Court, the president of Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica, said: "If one hospital can put in a hip for $12,000, then every hospital should be able to do it." With such immense variation in prices, he said, "There is no real price. It's about profit."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corruption in the health care industry, click here.
New UN treaty on mercury requires countries to phase down dental amalgam
January 19, 2013, Yahoo News
While no phase-out date was set, just-completed negotiations by the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee ... have resulted in many important provisions to reduce and eliminate mercury release and exposure, including binding requirements for countries to phase down dental amalgam. "This is the beginning of the end of dental amalgam globally," said Michael T. Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, a US-based NGO, and co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. "We applaud the leadership role the US played in jump-starting support for a phase-down ... along with the concrete steps of the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Japan took in phasing out dental amalgam." "Countries that have phased out amalgam recognize that mercury-free dental fillings are readily available, affordable and effective," said Charles G. Brown, [of the] World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, a global coalition of NGOs, dentists and consumers from over 25 countries. "This pushes the reset button on dentistry. Now the rest of the world can benefit from the experience of those countries."
Waiting Times at Ballot Boxes Draw Scrutiny
February 5, 2013, New York Times
With studies suggesting that long lines at the polls cost Democrats hundreds of thousands of votes in November, party leaders are beginning a push to make voting and voter registration easier, setting up a likely new conflict with Republicans over a deeply polarizing issue. Democrats in the House and Senate have already introduced bills that would require states to provide online voter registration and allow at least 15 days of early voting, among other things. Fourteen states are also considering whether to expand early voting, including the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to FairVote, a nonprofit group that advocates electoral change. Several recent polls and studies suggest that long waiting times in some places depressed turnout in 2012 and that lines were longest in cities, where Democrats outnumber Republicans. In a New York Times/CBS News poll taken shortly after Election Day, 18 percent of Democrats said they waited at least a half-hour to vote, compared with 11 percent of independents and 9 percent of Republicans. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation's longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis. A separate analysis, by an Ohio State University professor and The Orlando Sentinel, concluded that more than 200,000 voters in Florida "gave up in frustration" without voting.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on major inadequacies in US electoral procedures, click here.
Lost Votes, Problem Ballots, Long Waits? Flaws Are Widespread, Study Finds
February 6, 2013, New York Times
The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor, according to a major new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The group ranked all 50 states based on more than 15 criteria, including wait times, lost votes and problems with absentee and provisional ballots, and the order often confounds the conventional wisdom. In 2010, for instance, Mississippi ranked last over all. But it was preceded by two surprises: New York and California. "Poor Southern states perform well, and they perform badly," said Heather K. Gerken, a law professor at Yale and a Pew adviser. "Rich New England states perform well and badly – mostly badly." A main goal of the exercise, which grew out of Professor's Gerken's 2009 book, The Democracy Index, was to shame poor performers into doing better, she said. Some states ... lost very few votes because of shortcomings in voting technology and voter confusion, with the best 10 reporting failure rates of 0.5 percent or less in 2008. In West Virginia, by contrast, the rate was 3.2 percent. The Pew study focused on the 2008 and 2010 elections, the most recent ones for which comprehensive data were available. The study also found wide variation in how easy registering to vote can be. North Dakota does not even require it, and Alabama and Kansas reported rejecting less than 0.05 percent of registration applications in 2008. But Pennsylvania and Indiana each rejected more than half of the registration applications they received in 2010.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on major inadequacies in US electoral procedures, click here.
U.S. hemp crop zero despite strong sales
February 8, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
$452 million: That's the value of retail products containing imported hemp that were sold in the United States in 2011. While a cousin of marijuana, the plant can't get you high. Instead, it can be used to make clothes, horse bedding, auto parts, soap and even concrete. But thanks to it being classified like all cannabis plants as a Schedule I substance - the same as heroin - the U.S. hemp crop is precisely zero. If you want to grow hemp and avoid a jail sentence, you need a permit from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Note: Many have suspected that hemp was outlawed along with marijuana to block competition with lumber and other industries. To see a 1938 Popular Mechanics article touting hemp as the "new billion dollar crop," click here.
Small loans big in Bangladesh, Bay Area
February 4, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
After five years running her party-supply store out of her Hayward house with the help of her extended family, [Sandra] Rodriguez was finally moving into her own commercial space thanks to a $1,500 loan from Grameen America. Drawing on the same philosophy as Bangladesh's Grameen Bank, which pioneered "microlending" small sums to help impoverished women run their own businesses, Grameen America opened a branch in Oakland last spring. Grameen started its U.S. presence in New York in 2008, and now has offices in Omaha, Neb., Indianapolis, Charlotte, N.C., and Los Angeles, as well as Oakland and New York. Grameen's small walk-up office ... has already made microloans to 600 women for such businesses as operating food carts, making baked goods or other food, cleaning houses, selling merchandise, and renting chairs in hair or nail salons. So far, it has a 100 percent repayment record. While Grameen's loans are small - starting around $1,500 in the U.S. - the impact is big. Studies affirm the effectiveness of microloans in helping people lift themselves out of poverty. Grameen Bank and its founder, economics professor Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Its model has been replicated for millions of people in more than 100 countries. Grameen also helps its members with financial education and requires them to set up a savings account at a commercial bank.
Note: For other excellent articles of the transformative practices of microlending, click here.
Couple hopes their voluntourism films inspire others
January 1, 2013, Marin Independent-Journal (Marin Co, CA's leading newspaper)
When [Steve and] Joanie Wynn stumbled upon Roadmonkey Adventure Philanthropy, a fledgling business started by a former New York Times war correspondent, she thought, here's a chance to do something different – document six women volunteering at a school for AIDS orphans in Tanzania while also enjoying a trip abroad and scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. The experience was "life-changing." [The] couple returned with a lot more than a sense of adventure and some great footage; they discovered a new purpose and passion. They launched Journey for Good, a website that lists voluntourism opportunities in hopes of inspiring others to participate. Their documentary, "A Journey for Good: Tanzania," which aired on public TV stations around the country, garnered four Emmy nominations and two Telly Awards. Now they're in talks with KQED-TV to turn "Journeys for Good" into a series. The Wynns and their 9-year-old son, Ryan, ... left for Cambodia on Dec. 26 with Globe Aware to document their second voluntourism trip together. Their focus is not only on the projects, but also on the people who volunteer – what motivated them, how it changed them. "Our goal is to show people that this is a great way to travel differently," she says. "You can still go and experience a different culture, a different country and have an even richer and deeper experience by working side-by-side with local people." Voluntourism has been one of the fastest growing forms of travel, according to VolunTourism, which follows the industry.
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