Not Wanted: Dead Or Alive
May 23, 2022
Some Good News
- Bird-watcher wrongfully accused in Central Park video gets a bird-watching TV show (NPR)
- Amazon shareholders vote on resolution to require the company to address its colossal plastic problem (AP)
“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” – Kahlil Gibran
A Breach Of DeForum
After a two-year Covid-imposed hiatus – and despite percolating monkeypox – the World Economic Forum’s elite gathering of political leaders, business gurus, and principled activists is back in the Swiss Alps for its annual meeting in Davos. Speaking Monday via video from Kyiv is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Ukraine’s foreign minister and a delegation of other top officials are also present, as are German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
There’s no shortage of urgent issues to tackle, from Putin’s war in Ukraine to soaring food and fuel prices, a climate crisis, drought and food shortages in Africa, the continued rise of autocratic regimes, and signs the pandemic is far from over. “So much is at stake,” Forum President Borge Brende told reporters. “[G]lobal growth is slowing … we have to avoid that this very weak recovery ends with a new recession because we have very limited ammunition to fight a new recession.” Brende declared: “There’s no business as usual.” That also means, because no Russian business and political leaders were invited to attend this year’s gathering, there won’t be Monday evening’s traditional “Russia House” social festivities, complete with elaborate spreads of caviar and vodka. Instead, organizers are emphasizing Putin’s crimes by holding an event called the “Russia War Crimes House,” featuring photos of atrocities Russian forces are accused of perpetrating. Some victims will speak, including the mayor of Bucha, the town near Kyiv where images of civilian murders have drawn worldwide outrage.
A third of some 270 panel discussions through Thursday’s finale will focus on environmental issues, climate change and its effects, efforts to reach “net zero” emissions, and finding cleaner energy sources. Forum managers, criticized for hosting a meeting of wealthy executives who often fly in on emissions-spewing corporate jets, have tried inoculating themselves against accusations of hypocrisy. Managers say in the last five years they’ve offset 100% of carbon emissions from organization activities by supporting environmental projects, but experts counter there’s no guarantee these offsets will deliver on reducing emissions. Likewise, it remains to be seen if 2022’s high-minded discussions will yield any substantial announcements that can make real headway on the world’s most pressing challenges. (Axios, AP News)
- Eleven months ago, the biggest criminal trial in the Vatican’s modern history began. Prosecutors accused a powerful cardinal and nine other people of bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers, and apparent favors to friends and family.
- The astounding series of alleged scandals resulted from a two-year investigation into a disastrous $370 million London real estate deal, exposing once-secret financial dealings and a structural dysfunction that had allowed a handful of people – with little expertise or oversight – to do inordinate damage to the Vatican’s finances and reputation. The trial, postponed for several months after the first hearings, has resumed, with Vatican prosecutors now working their way through the first round of questioning of the 10 defendants, who face prison sentences, fines, or both if convicted.
- The hearings are revealing how some of Pope Francis’ own decisions, and a bureaucratic hierarchy intent on protecting him, allowed Italian brokers, the Vatican’s longtime money manager, and Vatican officials to swindle millions of dollars. (AP News)
Heading Left Down Under
- Australians have elected center-left Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese as their new prime minister. The 59-year-old career politician, who was raised in social housing by a single mother on a disability pension, had described himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name” to run for PM in the 121 years the office has existed.
- Albanese referred to his humble upbringing while thanking jubilant electors for making him the country’s 31st leader; he prevailed over current PM Scott Morrison to end nine years of conservative rule. Mail-in ballot counting will continue for several days, so it’s unclear whether Albanese’s party can form a majority government, or must rely on support from an increased number of independents and minor party lawmakers who won seats in Saturday’s election.
- Analysts described election results as extremely complicated, but also as mirroring the face of modern Australia. Albanese may need to be sworn in as acting PM to attend Tuesday’s Quad summit in Tokyo with President Biden, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, and India’s PM Narendra Modi. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Germany, Qatar sign energy partnership agreement (Al Jazeera)
- Fate of 2,500 Ukrainian POWs from steel plant stirs concern (Politico)
- Biden offers message for Kim Jong Un as he wraps first leg of his Asia trip (CNN)
- At least 43 people were injured in a storm that caused 3 tornadoes in Germany (NPR)
- Death toll in Kashmir tunnel collapse climbs to 10 (Al Jazeera)
- Russian officer reveals why he risked it all to quit Putin’s war in Ukraine (CNN)
- UK and allies discuss arming Moldova with ‘Nato standard’ weapons (Guardian)
A Devastating Report
- Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention released a major report Sunday by independent investigators who found that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized, and “even vilified” by top clergy in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. The nearly 300-page report includes traumatizing new details about specific abuse cases and illuminates how for decades denominational leaders ignored calls for abuse prevention and reform.
- Evidence suggests leaders also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse, when for years top leaders had been secretly keeping a private list. The report is the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC, and it’s expected to send shock waves throughout the 13 million-member conservative Christian community. Religious institutions in the U.S. have been struggling with declining membership, and SBC leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church. (WaPo, $)
- At least 15 Republicans who still claim Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election are running for attorney general in 14 states, including in the pivotal battlegrounds of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin. If they win, they’d serve as their states’ top law enforcement officers and would have the power to use their office to tilt the outcome of presidential elections.
- In many states, election deniers are also running for secretary of state and governor. That trio of elected officials – the state attorney general, the governor, and the secretary of state – are the ones who oversee, administer, defend, and certify elections and election results.
- Of the three, Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Action, a nonpartisan group that tracks the races, said: “To the extent that election results are challenged, or that there are attempts to undermine results, it will be the state attorneys general representing the state and the results in court that perhaps matters most to protecting the will of the voters.” (NBC News)
Additional USA News
- Colorado snowstorm topples trees, knocks out power for 210,000 (NBC)
- At least 7 arrested at Revere Beach with increased patrols (CBS)
- ‘It’s true!’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confirms engagement to boyfriend Riley Roberts (NBC)
- Baby formula from Germany to be flown by US military to Indiana (WaPo, $)
- An Oklahoma state rep proposed legislation that would mandate young men get mandatory vasectomies (Yahoo)
- The outcome of the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary might not be known before June (NPR)
Not Wanted: Dead Or Alive
- Moscow isn’t taking America’s support of Ukraine and those impressive anti-Russian sanctions lightly. Russia’s Foreign Ministry publishes what it calls a “stop list” of U.S. citizens who are permanently banned from entering the Russian Federation. An updated list of another 963 unwelcomed Americans was announced on Saturday. And it appears that in compiling the list, no gravestone was left unturned.
- On the list are President Biden, his son Hunter, Vice President Harris, an aggregation of Biden administration officials, prominent members of Congress, tech executives, journalists, regular U.S. citizens, Hillary Clinton, and actor Morgan Freeman. Also black-listed are former senators John McCain (R-AZ), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Then there’s Representative Alcee Hastings (D-Fl), former Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Melissa Drisko, Judge Steven Thomas O’Neill, and U.S. Army reservist Jeremy Sivits.
- You may remember reading something about those last seven – in their obituaries. They’re all deceased, and are therefore probably unlikely to be taking in the sights around Red Square or attending a performance at the Bolshoi Theater. Somebody really should have proofread the Ministry’s list, since it has the dates of passing for McCain, O’Neill, Sivits, and Hastings right there on it. The list is also intriguing for who isn’t banned. Former President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) aren’t banned, and neither is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who delayed a Senate vote on aid for Ukraine last week when he was the only senator to object. The aid package passed anyway and was signed into law on Saturday. (WaPo ($), The Hill)
- The town at the center of California’s climate refugee crisis (Guardian)
- ‘It melts our hearts’: Viral video shows baby sloth that fell from tree being reunited with mom (USA Today)
- Prehistoric dolphin species discovered in landlocked Switzerland (CBS)
- On Venezuelan roads, old cars prevail, break down everywhere (AP)
- You can get unlimited summer travel for $9.50 in this European country (CNN)
- Crypto is starting to lose its cool – just look at El Salvador (Guardian)
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