As Fraud Is My Witness
August 18, 2022
Some Good News
- Pennsylvania governor issues executive order seeking to protect LGBTQ residents from conversion therapy (CNN)
- Education Department wipes out $4 billion in ITT Tech student loans. (NYT, $)
“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Dollars And Tense
The Society of Jesus, aka Jesuits, is a religious order of the Catholic Church. The first Jesuits arrived in “English America” in the 1630s and founded the Maryland Colony. In 1789 Georgetown, a commercial post along the Potomac River that was part of the Province of Maryland became the site of what’s now Georgetown University. To help finance its operations, the college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland, worked by slaves who were often donated by prosperous parishioners. Early on, the college suffered from considerable financial strain, and in 1838, the Jesuits sold 272 slaves from a Jesuit-owned tobacco plantation in Maryland to two Louisiana plantations for $115,000 to help repay its debts.
Over a dozen universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Brown, and UVA, have publicly acknowledged their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But the 1838 slave sale, organized by Jesuits who founded and ran Georgetown, stands out for its sheer size. A wave of campus protests swept the country in the fall of 2015, and Georgetown faced pressure to take steps to address racism. The university began offering preferential admission to descendants of the slaves sold and renamed two buildings. Richard Cellini, a practicing Catholic and Georgetown alumnus, set up the Georgetown Memory Project nonprofit, hired eight genealogists to track down the slaves and their descendants, and raised money for fellow alumni to finance their research.
In March 2021, leaders of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States pledged to raise $100 million to benefit the descendants of the enslaved people it once owned. Conference President Reverend Timothy Kesicki said the money would flow into a new foundation, the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, established in partnership with a group of descendants whose ancestors had been part of the 1838 sale. Father Kesicki’s order deposited $15 million into a trust established to support the foundation.
It’s now 16 months later, and only $180,000 in small donations has flowed into the trust. Alarmed by the slow pace of fund-raising, the president of the descendants’ group wrote to Rome earlier this month, urging the order’s worldwide leader to ensure that the American priests make good on their promise. “[W]ithout your engagement,” the president wrote to the Jesuit superior general, “this partnership seems destined to fail.” (NYT ($), Georgetown Memory Project, DT&RF)
Bra-Sealing The Deal
- Brazil’s left-wing former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has come out swinging in his bid to replace his far-right radical rival, Jair Bolonsaro, who he argues is the one who is “possessed by the devil.” Bolsonaro’s campaign has been demonizing Lula and trying to convince millions of evangelical voters his return to power would threaten their faith.
- Bolsonaro says October’s election is a battle between God-fearing “good” and leftist “evil,” and warns voters against supporting “those who persecute and call for the closure of churches.” A poll released Monday suggested the 76-year-old veteran politician Lula – who has taken to wearing a bulletproof vest for fear of an attack by a right-wing extremist – currently has a comfortable 12-point lead over Bolsonaro in this deeply divided nation. (Guardian)
Sick As A Dog
- A couple in Paris have a 4-year-old greyhound who sleeps with them. 12 days after the men started getting symptoms of monkeypox, they noticed lesions on their dog. Genetic analysis showed that the virus which infected the dog was exactly the same as the virus infecting the men.
- It’s the first case of its kind, and health leaders say isolating from pets when infected is important. Monkeypox spreads through close skin-to-skin contact, and also when someone touches fabrics like clothing, bedding, or towels that have been used by someone with the virus.
- Around 35,000 cases have now been confirmed around the world, with most in Europe and North and South America, and 12 deaths have been linked to the outbreak. On the plus side, one expert said there’s no evidence that dogs can transmit the disease to other dogs or humans. (BBC)
Additional World News
- Israeli army kills Palestinian youth in occupied East Jerusalem (Al Jazeera)
- Jailed Russian politician Navalny says he’s in punishment cell (Reuters)
- 6 French tourists on plane that crashed into Lake Powell, killing 2 and injuring 5 (CBS)
- Think of the dissidents, says Germany’s Scholz on Russian tourist ban (Reuters)
- Greece finally aids refugees stranded on scorpion and snake-infested islet (Guardian)
- China’s ambassador warns U.S. of Taiwan consequences in rare briefing (Axios)
- Saudi woman given 34-year prison sentence for using Twitter (Guardian)
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As Fraud Is My Witness
- A Colorado judge said Tuesday that former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis must appear before the Fulton County, Georgia, grand jury. A lawyer in the Fulton County DA’s office testified virtually about why Ellis’ testimony was “material” and “necessary” to the special grand jury empaneled in Atlanta to investigate the Trump-aligned efforts to subvert the 2020 election results in Georgia.
- Investigators believe Ellis was involved in planning hearings before Georgia lawmakers where Trump allies pushed claims of mass election fraud; that legal memos Ellis authored advised how VP Pence could disrupt the certification of Biden’s win; that her social media posts and media interviews promoted election fraud claims; and that she could have “unique knowledge” about how Trump’s associates were coordinating.
- Ellis, a former law professor and evangelical Christian, began in 2015 repeatedly slamming then-candidate Trump as an “idiot” who was “boorish and arrogant,” and a “bully” whose words could not be trusted as factually accurate. She called comments he made about women “disgusting,” and his values “un-American,” and suggested he was not a “real Christian.” After Trump became the nominee, Ellis said she got to know him better, prompting her support for him in the 2016 election. In 2019, she joined his reelection campaign, becoming one of his most ardent defenders and helping lead the campaign’s longshot legal challenges to overturn the 2020 results. (CNN)
- On Tuesday, members of two of New York’s oldest mafia clans were charged with money laundering and extortion by U.S. attorneys in Brooklyn. The racketeering case was brought against nine reputed members and associates of the Genovese and Bonanno families and centered on secret underground gambling parlors in Queens and Long Island.
- Also charged was a Nassau County detective who was paid to conduct police raids on rival gambling clubs. Federal prosecutors said that for a decade the gambling activities brought in “substantial revenue” for the two families as they hid under the cover of businesses like a soccer club and a shoe repair store. A Long Island coffee shop alone typically earned them over $10,000 per week, which was then laundered up to the crime families’ leaders. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Oklahoma governor grants Richard Glossip 60-day stay of execution (Guardian)
- First lady Jill Biden tests positive for Covid-19 (CNN)
- Former US Rep. TJ Cox indicted on federal money laundering and wire fraud charges (CNN)
- Plea deals upended for pair accused of peddling nuclear sub secrets (WaPo, $)
- Liz Cheney vows to carry on fight against Trump after conceding defeat in Wyoming primary (CNN)
- A pilot who fell to his death was ‘visibly upset’ over midflight emergency, officials say (NBC)
- Biden administration will stop buying Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests as early as this fall, Jha says (CNN)
Lowering The Bar
- Miller High Life has partnered with Tipsy Scoop, maker of alcohol-infused ice cream, to create a new novelty ice cream product called the Ice Cream Dive Bar that’s meant to recall the flavor of…a dive bar floor.
- Let’s repeat that: a beer company and an ice cream maker decided creating something edible that combines beer, peanut swirl (which is supposed to mimic peanut shells frequently found on bar floors), tobacco smoke flavor, caramel, and a dark chocolate dip was a good idea.
- The collaboration is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ice cream bar. Each Dive Bar contains up to 5% alcohol, and a six-pack costs $36. Get yours while they last! (Food Network)
- Nepal’s holy Bagmati River choked with black sewage, trash (AP)
- Spacewalk cut short by issue with Russian cosmonaut’s spacesuit: ‘Drop everything and start going back right away’ (CNN)
- NASA’s moon rocket moved to launch pad for 1st test flight (AP)
- How Black Holes Smashing Together Could Settle an Astronomical Dispute (CNET)
- 21,000 fish die at UC-Davis research center after chlorine exposure (WaPo, $)
- Online cultural events can benefit lonely older people, study shows (Guardian)
- Monkey puzzle tree outlasted dinosaurs but is now endangered (CNN)
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