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Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
Speculations sparked with the Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s visit to China , which sought Chinese cooperation for third country development works – a volte-face to China, while tying a strong knot with India for strategic partnership to maintain peace in Indo-Pacific region during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan in tandem, given the fact that China is long –term political rival to both countries. Concerns were raised about the impact on India- Japan relations, which has a long way to fulfill their role in Indo-Pacific region.
Nevertheless, Indian Foreign Secretary was quick to rule out any adverse impact on the relation with Japan. Instead, he was hopeful for a favourable impact of the Sino-Japan deal, believing that this would play an important role in spearheading India- Japan strategic partnership to sustain peace and tranquility in Indio – Pacific regime. He asserted that the core point of Modi’s visit to Japan was to establish a close strategic partnership with Japan by deepening security and defence cooperation and play a prime role in maintaining peace in Indo-Pacific region.
Gone are the days when USA sneezes, Japan gets cold. Today, Japan can say “No” to US. Despite USA’s grave concern over Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China exhibits Japanese willingness to justify Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative. This will make a turning point in the Sino-Japan bilateral relation, which was shackled by agelong political hostility. The volte- face of Japan is viewed a silent negation to Trump’s protectionism. To this end, Modi’s visit to Japan , on the close heel of Abe’ visit to China , showcases a new pattern of trilateral relationships between the three Asian leaders.
This visit of Prime Minster Modi to Japan was a regular annual summit of India- Japan. Even then, this visit attached special significance, given the fact that summit was on the close heel of Abe’s visit to China – a formal visit of a Japanese leader after seven years, whose main aim was to rebuild political trust with China. The Chinese official media, Global Times, ushering the visit, said, “ China-Japan economic ties should lead to political trust’
Nevertheless, whether the rebuilt relationship between Japan and China will sustain or not, it is hard to say in the wake of ongoing dispute on Senkaku Islands, which erupted as a volcano.
India and Japan have several commonalities in their relations with China. Besides a long history of political enmity, China is the biggest trading partner of both. In both summits, Japan focused to take forward the relations in new direction through economic means by proposing joint partnerships for development of projects in third countries. With India, it pledged for joint partnership in India’s neighbours and with China , it proposed for joint partnership in ASEAN countries
To synergies Modi’s Act Asia policy, India and Japan entered into Memorandum of Cooperation for development of LNG related infrastructures in Sri Lanka, development of housing, education and electrification projects in Myanmar and enhancing connectivity with Bangladesh by way of constructing four-lane road and reconstructing bridges.
Parallel to it, Japan proposed for 50 private sector infrastructure projects jointly with China in Asia during the summit. A high speed railway and a smart city project in Thailand will be the first gainers of Sino-Japan joint partnership ventures in Asia.
How will the Sino-Japan deal prove salutary for new cooperation between the three Asian leaders ? The joint partnership with China will curtail the scope for under-cutting competition in Asia and will establish a fair ground for development of infrastructure. Indonesia was a case in point. Japan lost high speed railway project in Indonesia against the stiff completion from China, despite providing better technology and undergoing for half a decade hard negotiations with Indonesian government.
Thaw in Sino-Japan relation will bring ADB ( Asian Development Bank) and AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ) – the two big Asian multilateral financial institutions – closer to each other. Both are major funding agencies for development of infrastructures in Asia. ADB is dominated by Japan and AIIB is dominated by China. India is the second biggest stakeholder in AIIB. Sino-Japan deal will weed out competition between the two agencies and unleash a new scope for substantial fund for the development in Asia.
According to ADB, Asia requires US $ 8 trillion to meet its vast infrastructure fund by the end of this decade. Of these, India’s requirement is the biggest, amounting to US $ 1 trillion. The funding requirement are beyond the capacity of World Bank, IMF and ADB. This led India to join AIIB and become the second biggest stake holder in it. But, the undergoing proxy war between Japan and China used to act a deterrent to the borrowing countries. The thaw in Sino-Japan relation will pave the way for smooth availability of fund for India as well as other Asian countries.
Needless to say, after the trade war intensified, China dwarfed its aggression against India. It is tending to emerge a new important export destination for India.
For example , China will open a big market for India’s soybean meal after China restricted its imports from USA as retaliatory measure by imposing 25 percent tariff. China is the biggest importer of soybean in the world and USA has the biggest stake in Chinese soybean import market. The high tariff on USA soybean will make a space for new entrants in the Chinese market. To this end, India stands for a bigger chance to cut a big pie of Chinese soybean market, with the tariff expected to slip to zero from 3 percent. Recently, it dropped ban on import of rapeseed meal from India. The ban was imposed in 2011 due to quality concern.
Mr Narendra Modi was never averse to Chinese investment. His urge for foreign investment pitted China not a foe. During his Priministership, India signed MOUs for setting up four industrial parks for Chinese investment. China too is seemed to be comfortable to work with Mr. Modi.
China planned for a bigger role in infrastructure investment in India. Last year, China’s Sany Heavy Industry planned an investment of US$9.8 billion in India, while Pacific Construction, China Fortune Land Development and Dalian Wanda planned Investments of more than US$5 billion each.
Given the new silver line approaches between India and China, which was further spearheaded by USA protectionism, Japan’s volte face to China will act a boon to India.
Views expressed are personal
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
Reportedly, Saudi Arabia has finally agreed to offer Pakistan a US$6 billion support package to overcome its prevailing precarious current account deficit crisis. According to the details the Kingdom will transfer US$3 billion directly to Pakistan, while another one-year deferred payment facility of up to US$3 billion for oil import will be made available. This arrangement will be in place for three years, which will be reviewed thereafter.
During the election campaign and even after taking oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran khan has been expressing reluctance in approaching International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ever since coming to power, Khan has been trying to solicit financial support from friendly countries including China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but his efforts hardly yielded any result. From the day one, Finance Minister Asad Umar has been saying that Pakistan needs more than US$12 billion to keep imports and foreign debt servicing at sustainable level.
Negotiating funding with IMF was not deemed easy because of a host of reasons that include: 1) it will be Pakistan’s 13th agreement since late 1980s, 2) the United States enjoying significant control over IMF Board has emerged an opponent of lending to Pakistan and 3) Pakistan has been put at an odd position due to ongoing proxy wars in South Asia, Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The US keeps on singing ‘do more mantra’, Pakistan does not enjoy cordial relationship with three of its immediate neighbors; Afghanistan, India and Iran. It is evident to all and sundry that string will be attached to any assistance be it from IMF, United States, Saudi Arabia and China. In such a scenario, taking small bit from all the lenders may not be a bad idea.
All the political parties have initiated a debate, why should Pakistan approach IMF? Some of the critics say, “It may be true that Saudi package is handsome, but won’t address Pakistan’ all the woes. Having signed a deal with Saudi Arabia has reduced pressure on Pakistan substantially. It will also help it to negotiate a smaller facility with IMF with less stringent conditions”.
South Asia’s second-largest economy is facing balance-of-payments crisis due to bad policies of the previous two governments. These policies have resulted in dismal FDI inflow in the recent years, paltry exports and ever rising imports. Further woes have been added due to the hike in international crude oil prices. Though, remittances are on the rise but fall too short to bridge ever widening current account deficit.
Khan is an opponent of living on borrowed resources but has been forced to beg money from friendly countries and negotiate an assistance package with IMF, at softer terms. Opposition parties are also humiliating Khan, despite having used IMF facilities in their own regimes. It is but obvious that bigger the amount being asked, more stringent are the conditions. Let everyone explore explanations for the following questions:
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have plunged to an alarming level, hinting towards virtual default if no immediate solution is found. Since friendly countries are not willing to give the desired amount, the incumbent government has no option but to go to the IMF, seeking help of the lender of last resort can reduce the pain. Shrinking reserves has also put Pak rupee under pressure, adding to the woes in two ways, increasing cost of imported items particularly energy products and eroding competitiveness of ‘Made in Pakistan’ Products. Therefore, the country has to boost its reserves to keep imports and debt servicing at sustainable levels.
Without mincing world Pakistan does not have too many options. Though, China was considered a savior but there is a negative propaganda going on “CPEC is another East India Company”. Therefore, both the countries have to be more careful. The US is opposing extension of funding to Pakistan for paying off Chinese loans. Whatever may be the reality, putting all the eggs in one basket is not advisable.
Let one point be very clear that IMF is in the business of lending money to the countries in distress, and it is always on the search for clients. Pakistan has been a regular and tested client that has not defaulted, though have been borrowing to pay off the loans in the past. Pakistan has enormous undiscovered/unexploited resources and a bit of lending can keep the lifeline. However, our own weaknesses, give opportunities to IMF to add the shackles.
Reportedly, Pakistan needs more than $12 billion, Umar said in August. That would be higher than the biggest IMF package extended to Pakistan until now. The IMF typically provides three-year loan programs under its Extended Fund Facility to help countries facing balance-of-payments crises. The loans are often tied to economic targets that the government has to meet, for example curbing fiscal or current-account deficits, trimming inflation or allowing more flexibility in currency policy.
In 2013, the government of Nawaz Sharif signed an assistance program of US$6.6 billion disbursed over 36 months. During that time, the government mostly fell short of broadening the tax base or privatizing money-losing state-owned companies. Nevertheless, the economy rebounded after the IMF program, with growth accelerating, stocks soaring, the currency stabilizing and foreign-exchange reserves tripling to a record. All of that was undone last year as higher oil prices and the growth boom pushed up demand for imports, the current-account gap widened and reserves started to slide. To add to the insult PML-N government kept on borrowing from open market at much higher interest rates.
It is believed that IMF will extend the assistance program. However, it is yet to be seen how Khan’s government contains budget and current deficits. It has to boost exports, contain import, attract FDI and channelize remittances though the formal banking system.
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
Environmental disasters in the U.S. often hit minority groups the hardest.
When Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans in 2005, the city’s black residents were disproportionately affected. Their neighborhoods were located in the low-lying, less-protected areas of the city, and many people lacked the resources to evacuate safely. Similar patterns have played out during hurricanes and tropical storms ever since.
Massive wildfires, which may be getting more intense due to climate change and a long history of fire-suppression policies, also have strikingly unequal effects on minority communities, a new study shows.
Researchers at the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy used census data to develop a “vulnerability index” to assess wildfire risk in communities across the U.S. Their results, appearing Nov. 2 in the journal PLOS ONE, show that racial and ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires compared with primarily white communities. In particular, Native Americans are six times more likely than other groups to live in areas most prone to wildfires.
“A general perception is that communities most affected by wildfires are affluent people living in rural and suburban communities near forested areas,” said lead author Ian Davies, a graduate student in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “But there are actually millions of people who live in areas that have a high wildfire potential and are very poor, or don’t have access to vehicles or other resources, which makes it difficult to adapt or recover from a wildfire disaster.”
This study is one of the first to integrate both the physical risk of wildfire with the social and economic resilience of communities to see which areas across the country are most vulnerable to large wildfires. The approach takes 13 socioeconomic measures from the U.S. census — including income, housing type, English fluency and health — for more than 71,000 census tracts across the country and overlays them with wildfire potential based on weather, historical fire activity and burnable fuels on the landscape.
There aren’t many studies looking at the societal impacts of massive wildfires, so the researchers relied on existing literature that examined other environmental disasters, mainly hurricanes, to identify socioeconomic factors that contributed to whether a person recovered from a disaster. Some of these factors include whether a person is above or below the poverty line, has a disability, is elderly, has a vehicle, and owns or rents their home.
All of these factors and additional data went into creating a vulnerability index that the research team used in combination with U.S. Forest Service assessments of wildfire potential to determine the vulnerability of 71,901 census tracts across the country.
“The argument that we and other scientists have made is natural disasters aren’t completely natural — they are products of both an environmental impact and the social, political and economic context in which the impact occurs,” Davies said.
Overall, more than 29 million Americans — many of whom are white and economically secure — live with significant potential for extreme wildfires. However, within that segment, about 12 million people are considered “socially vulnerable” to wildfires based on the socioeconomic factors assessed in this study — and for whom a wildfire could be devastating.
Additionally, they found that wildfire vulnerability is spread unequally across race and ethnicity. Communities that are mostly black, Hispanic or Native American experience 50 percent greater vulnerability to wildfires compared with other communities.
In the case of Native Americans, historical forced relocation onto reservations — mostly rural, remote areas that are more prone to wildfires — combined with greater levels of vulnerability due to socioeconomic barriers make it especially hard for these communities to recover after a large wildfire.
“Our findings help dispel some myths surrounding wildfires — in particular, that avoiding disaster is simply a matter of eliminating fuels and reducing fire hazards, or that wildfire risk is constrained to rural, white communities,” said senior author Phil Levin, a UW professor in environmental and forest sciences and lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Washington. “We can see that the impacts of recent fires were exacerbated for low-income residents facing a shortage of affordable housing, for example, and for Hispanic residents for whom English is not their first language.”
As the researchers dug into their results, they corroborated their findings with news reports from specific wildfire events. For example, they found that in the 2017 wildfire season, emergency agencies in cities throughout California struggled to release timely and correct bilingual information. During the 2014 wildfires in eastern and central Washington, language barriers also prevented Hispanic farm workers from receiving evacuation alerts from authorities, and the only Spanish-language radio station in the area reportedly never received the emergency notification.
The researchers hope these broad, nationwide results will spawn more detailed studies focused on individual communities and their wildfire risk. But equally important, they say, is for organizations and municipalities to take these socioeconomic factors into account when helping their communities prepare for wildfires. Offering cost-share programs for residents to prepare their homes for wildfires, distributing evacuation notices in multiple languages and creating jobs focused on thinning local forests or clearing out flammable brush are all ways in which communities can reduce their vulnerability to wildfires, they said.
“I think the question is, how do we take these sorts of activities that are ultimately about building community and make it so they are attractive and useful for people who are busy and would much rather use what spare time they have to spend with their families?” Levin said. “I think ultimately it’s about connections, building relationships and breaking down cultural barriers that will bring us to a better outcome.”
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
By Kevin Jones
After years in decline, Catholic clergy sex abuse could be on the rise again, warns a professor-priest’s analysis of relevant data.
The professor’s report sees a rising trend in abuse, and argues that the evidence strongly suggests links between sexual abuse of minors and two factors: a disproportionate number of homosexual clergy, and the manifestation of a “homosexual subculture” in seminaries.
“The thing we’ve been told about the sex abuse is that it is somehow very rare and declined to almost nothing today is really not true,” Father D. Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest and retired Catholic University of America sociology professor, told a Nov. 2 press conference.
“I found that clergy sex abuse did drop to almost nothing after 2002, but then it started to creep up,” he continued. “It’s been increasing. And there are signs that the bishops or the dioceses have gotten complacent about that.”
“It’s not at the great heights that it was in the mid-1970s, but it’s rising. And it’s headed in that direction,” he added.
Clergy sex abuse incidence is today about one third as common as in the late 1980s. While sex abuse by clergy is “much lower” than 30 years ago, it has not declined “as much as is commonly thought.” Most of the decline since the 1990s is consistent with “a similar general decline in child sex abuse in America since that time,” Sullins’ report said.
The decline is not necessarily related to measures taken by the U.S. bishops. Sullins told the press conference he saw no link between a decline in abuse and the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults.
“Recent experience calls into question whether the current understanding of the nature of the abuse and how to reduce it is accurate or sufficient,” said Sullins in his report.
Efforts to address clergy abuse must acknowledge both “the recent increase of abuse amid growing complacency” and the “very strong probability” that the surge in abuse in past and present is “a product, at least in part, of the past surge and present concentration of homosexual men in the Catholic priesthood.”
The report was released Nov. 2 by the Louisiana-based Ruth Institute, where Sullins is a senior research associate. It has been reviewed by several scholars, including four social scientists, and is planned to be included in an upcoming book.
His study aimed to address a common question: is the sex abuse related in any way to homosexual men in the priesthood?
“I hear on the one hand denial of that, almost without even thinking about it, and I also hear advocacy of that, almost without even thinking about it,” Sullins said Nov. 2. “The question comes up logically because the vast majority of victims were boys. Usually in sex abuse of minors, two-thirds of victims are girls.”
Sullins’ report is titled “Is Catholic clergy sex abuse related to homosexual priests?” and he does not avoid the sometimes controversial question. The report compares “previously unexamined measures of the share of homosexual Catholic priests” and the incidence and victim gender of minor sex abuse victims by Catholic priests from 1950 to 2001.
Sullins’ sources included a 2002 survey of 1,854 priests by the Los Angeles Times that included questions about respondents’ sexual orientation, age, year of ordination, and whether they thought there was a homosexual subculture in their seminary. He measured abuse using data provided by the authors of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice reports, which themselves used reports of abuse provided by Catholic dioceses.
“Although over 8 in 10 of victims have been boys, the idea that the abuse is related to homosexual men in the priesthood has not been widely accepted by Church leaders,” said Sullins.
“(T)he data show that more homosexual men in the priesthood was correlated with more overall abuse and more boys abused compared to girls,” he added.
The increase or decrease in the percent of male victims correlated “almost perfectly” with the increase or decrease of homosexual men in the priesthood, he said, citing a 0.98 correlation. While the correlation was lower among victims under age 8, it was “lower but still strong,” 0.77. The statistical association between homosexual priests and abuse incidence was “extremely strong,” given that this scale ranges from -1.0, an inverse correlation, to 1.0, an absolute positive correlation.
Such results were “as close as you can get to a perfect correlation as I have ever seen,” Sullins said Nov. 2, adding that researchers usually consider correlation association above 0.3 or 0.4 to be a strong effect.
He took care to say it is the disproportionate presence of homosexual men in the priesthood, not the simple presence of any homosexual men, that appears to be the major factor.
“What I say in the paper is that when homosexual men were represented in the priesthood at about the same rate as they were in the population, there was no measurable problem of child sex abuse,” Sullins said. “It was only when you had a preponderance of homosexual men.”
The percentage of homosexual men in the general population is estimated at two percent. In the 1950s, homosexual men in the priesthood were about twice their percentage in the general population, making up four percent. in the 1980s they were eight times the percentage in the general population, 16 percent, according to Sullins.
“When you get up to 16 percent of priests that are homosexual, and you’ve got eight times the proportion of homosexuals as you do in the general population, it’s as if the priesthood becomes a particularly welcoming and enabling and encouraging population for homosexual activity and behavior,” he said Nov. 2.
Sullins was clear he wanted to avoid recommending any particular action based on his research.
“I would certainly not recommend that we remove all homosexuals from the priesthood,” he said. “The reason for that is: the abuse is not necessarily related to someone’s sexual orientation.” He cited his knowledge of men with same-sex attraction who are “strong, faithful persons,” adding “I would hate to have some sort of litmus test for that.”
If the Catholic Church in the U.S. were like most institutions, where two-thirds of abuse victims were female, people would reject the suggestion to eliminate all heterosexual men from the priesthood. That suggestion would be an “ideological reaction,” he said.
He suggested the priesthood should reflect the general population, as a sign priests are selected for “holiness and commitment to Christ and the things that we would hope would make for a good priest.”
“When you start to get a larger proportion of homosexuals It looks like you are actually selecting for same-sex orientation,” he said.
Seminary candidates have reported about the problems this disproportion creates, he continued. According to Sullins, Donald Cozzens’ 2000 book “The Changing Face of the Priesthood” discusses accounts of homosexual students being so prevalent at some seminaries that heterosexual men felt destabilized and disoriented and left.
“That’s not a positive outcome. I do not think we would want to have that proportion of a homosexual culture in the priesthood,” said Sullins.
There appear to be verifiable trends in increases and decreases in the ordinations of homosexual priests.
“From 1965 to 1995 an average of at least one in five priests ordained annually were homosexual, a concentration which drove the overall proportion of homosexual men in the priesthood up to 16 percent, or one in six priests, by the late 1990s,” said Sullins’ report.
“This trend was strongly correlated with increasing child sex abuse,” he said.
Drawing on his findings, Sullins predicted that if the proportion of homosexual priests remained at the 1950s level “at least 12,000 fewer children, mostly boys, would have suffered abuse,” he said. As a percentage, this means abuse would have been about 85 percent lower.
The presence of homosexual subcultures in seminaries, as reported by priests considering their own seminary life, accounts for about half the incidence of abuse, but apparently not among heterosexual men.
“Homosexual subcultures encouraged greater abuse, but not by heterosexual men, just by homosexual men,” Sullins said Nov. 2. He suggested these subcultures encourage those who may have been attracted to male victims to act out more than would have been the case otherwise.
Sullins, a former Episcopal priest, has been married for 30 years and has three children. He was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2002 by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington.
“I was surprised and shocked, like most of us earlier this year, to hear about Cardinal McCarrick,” Sullins said. “I was particularly impressed by that because I was ordained by Cardinal McCarrick in 2002, and probably knew him better than most people would have.”
His report follows the June revelations that former Archbishop McCarrick was credibly abused of sex assault on a minor, revelations which prompted men to come forward saying he had sexually abused them as seminarians—and prompted Pope Francis to accept the archbishop’s almost unprecedented resignation from the cardinalate. McCarrick was deeply influential and had been a leading personality in the U.S. bishops’ response to the 2002 scandals.
In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury released its report on Catholic clergy sex abuse in six dioceses. It tallied over 1,000 credible accusations against hundreds of priests over decades, though many of these accusations had been reported in 2004.
“What was new in 2018 was not primarily the revelation of abuse by priests, but of a possible pattern of resistance, minimization, enablement and secrecy—a ‘cover-up’—on the part of bishops,” said Sullins, who used some of the grand jury report data for his study.
As part of the U.S. bishops’ response to the first sex abuse scandal in 2002, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice issued two bishop-commissioned reports: a 2004 report on the nature and scope of clergy sex abuse and a 2011 report on the causes and context of sex abuse.
Sullins criticized the 2011 report’s claim that sex abuse perpetrators are mainly “situational or opportunistic” and the sex of the victim is less relevant to them. In his view, multiple offenders “abused a higher proportion of male victims than did single offenders, and the proportion increased with higher numbers of victims.” If multiple offenders were better at acquiring victims, “they appear to have used their skills to obtain access to more boys, not fewer.”
Abuse of girls dropped off at the same rate in the 1980s and 1990s, and the data suggest that as girls became more prevalent in priestly life, such as in the introduction of altar girls, abusers of boys “responded to the presence of fewer younger boys primarily by turning to older boys, not to female victims.”
For clergy offenders who were “classic or fixated pedophiles,” targeting only victims under age eight, they still strongly preferred male victims, “conditional on higher proportions of homosexual men in the priesthood.”
Sex abuse by Catholic clergy is “substantially less” than in similar institutions or communities, but it is notable that underage victims of sex assault by Catholic priests in U.S. Catholic parishes and schools have been “overwhelmingly male,” said Sullins. Comparable reports in Germany indicate that up to 90 percent of abuse victims of Catholic clergy have been male, compared to about half of victims in Protestant or non-religious settings in that country.
Some Catholic commentators have blamed clericalism for the abuse. Pope Francis’ August 20 letter on sex abuse, which did not mention homosexuality, said communities where sexual abuse and “the abuse of power and conscience” have taken place are characterized by efforts to reduce the Catholic faithful to “small elites” or otherwise replace, silence or ignore them.
“To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” the Pope said.
In a May 21, 2018 audience with Italian bishops, the Pope said it is better not to let seminary candidates enter if they have “even the slightest doubt” about the fitness of individuals with homosexual “deep-seated tendencies” or who practice “homosexual acts,” but want to enter the seminary.
These acts or deep-seated tendencies can lead to scandals and can compromise the life of the seminary, as well as the man himself and his future priesthood, he said, according to Vatican Insider.
A 2016 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” cites a 2005 Vatican document which says: “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture’.”
The bishops’ 2002 child protection charter drew criticism from Sullins. Its failure to acknowledge that bishops can commit abuse or cover up abuse “seemed to confirm the suggestion of a cover-up: indeed, to the extent bishops may have covered up priestly misbehavior, the charter itself may have covered up episcopal misbehavior.”
He faulted the 2011 John Jay report on the causes and context of clergy sex abuse, which said that a reported increase in homosexual men in seminaries in the 1980s did not correspond to the number of boys abused. Sullins noted that the authors acknowledged they did not collect or examine direct data on priests’ sexual identity and any changes in it over the years. They relied on “subjective clinical estimates and second-hand narrative reports of apparent homosexual activity in seminaries,” Sullins said.
The Ruth Institute, which published Sullins’ report, was founded in 2008 by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, an economics-trained author and writer on marriage, family and human sexuality. She served as spokesperson for Proposition 8, the California ballot measure which defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The institute was backed by the National Organization for Marriage Education Fund until 2013.
Groups including the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the Southern Poverty Law Center have criticized the Ruth Institute’s stance against same-sex marriage and other LGBT causes.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which originally monitored foes of the civil rights movement, in the 1980s began tracking neo-Nazi groups and Ku Klux Klan affiliates. In recent years it has listed mainstream groups like the Ruth Institute, the Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom as “hate groups” for their “anti-LGBT” stance.
In an Aug. 23, 2017 response to the listing, the Ruth Institute said it “categorically condemns white supremacy, racism, Nazism, and all violent totalitarian political movements.”
“People who cannot defend their positions using reason and evidence resort to name-calling to change the subject away from their anemic arguments,” the institute said. “The ‘hate group’ label is a club such people invented to bludgeon their political opponents.”
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
In recent days, Vladimir Putin has made casual references to the possibility of nuclear war and massive deaths in Russia and elsewhere, Lev Shlosberg says, comments that must be taken seriously as “a symptom of his poor political health” and as evidence that he has passed “the psychological barrier” against entering into such a conflict.
The Pskov Yabloko commentator argues that every gest or joke contains within it some element of truth; and with respect to such important things as war, they are no laughing matter but rather must be the subject of intense attention as an indication of the habits of mind of the teller (gubernia.pskovregion.org/columns/predchuvstvie-posledney-voyny/).
And Putin’s comments on nuclear war are especially disturbing as “it is simply impossible to imagine such talk between the leaders of the USSR and the US in the worst days of the cold war and the era of nuclear parity.” But today, thanks to Putin, such observations “are not simply possible but have become part of the image of Russia in the world” and in Russia itself.
Putin is exploiting a demographic development, Shlosberg suggests. “The generation of those who remember the last global war has almost left the scene, and the generation of those who remember the times of the cold war and a permanent nuclear threat has ceased to be the majority.”
In their place, tens of millions of people without any understanding of the horrors of war are forming under Putin’s tutelage a vision of a future one, the Yabloko commentator says. “Russian society is being taught to think constantly about war and correspondingly about death. Not only the death of others (enemies) but their own.”
“Because there won’t be death on only one side of the front.” Such a focus, Slosberg says, “is not simply dangerous; it is mortally dangerous for the entire society” because it suggests that everyone is facing Armageddon and therefore the future is irrelevant and not something anyone should be thinking about or planning for.
Putin’s own words suggest he is not thinking about the future and that he doesn’t want others to think about it either given that soon there will be the end of everything. Instead, he is forming a society “which has no thought about the future” because he is incapable of offering any future except an apocalypse.
That may suit Putin’s needs, but it ensures that a society which share his vision is condemned even before the conflict he talks about all too often, Shlosberg concludes.
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
In a film genre more popular than ever, courageous superheroes wield special powers to protect the public from villains. But despite positive themes these films may offer, new research suggests superhero characters often idolized by young viewers may send a strongly negative message when it comes to violence. In fact, according to a study being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2018 National Conference & Exhibition, the “good guys” in superhero films engage in more violent acts, on average, than the villains.
An abstract of the study, “Violence Depicted in Superhero-Based Films Stratified by Protagonist/Antagonist and Gender,” will be presented on Monday, Nov. 5, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Researchers involved in the study analyzed 10 superhero-based films released in 2015 and 2016. They classified major characters as either protagonist (“good guy”) or antagonist (“bad guy”) and used a standardized tool to compile specific acts and types of violence portrayed in the films.
The researchers tallied an average of 23 acts of violence per hour associated with the films’ protagonists, compared with 18 violent acts per hour for the antagonists. The researchers also found the films showed male characters in nearly five times as many violent acts (34 per hour, on average), than female characters, who were engaged in an average of 7 violent acts per hour.
“Children and adolescents see the superheroes as ‘good guys,’ and may be influenced by their portrayal of risk-taking behaviors and acts of violence,” said the abstract’s lead author, Robert Olympia, MD, a Professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine & Pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine and an Attending Physician at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center/ Penn State Children’s Hospital. “Pediatric health care providers should educate families about the violence depicted in this genre of film and the potential dangers that may occur when children attempt to emulate these perceived heroes,” he said.
The most common act of violence associated with protagonists in the films was fighting (1,021 total acts), followed by the use of a lethal weapon (659), destruction of property (199), murder (168), and bullying/intimidation/torture (144). For antagonists, the most common violent act was the use of a lethal weapon (604 total acts), fighting (599), bullying/intimidation/torture (237), destruction of property (191), and murder (93) were also portrayed.
To help counteract the negative influence superhero films may have on children, the study’s principal investigator, John N. Muller, MS, suggests families watch them together and talk about what they see.
“Co-viewing these movies as a family can be an effective antidote to increased violence in superhero-based films,” said Muller, a medical student at the Penn State University College of Medicine. But the key, he said, is discussing the consequences of violence actively with their children.
“In passively co-viewing violent media, there is an implicit message that parents approve of what their children are seeing, and previous studies show a corresponding increase in aggressive behavior,” Muller said. “By taking an active role in their children’s media consumption by co-viewing and actively mediating, he said, parents help their children develop critical thinking and internally regulated values.”
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
In paper published in Nature Plants, researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, detail for the first time the scale of threatened species that are unable to be conserved in seed banks. The paper reveals that when looking at threatened species, 36 per cent of ‘critically endangered’ species produce recalcitrant seeds . This means they can’t tolerate the drying process and therefore cannot be frozen, the key process they need to go through to be safely ‘banked’.
In the paper, Kew scientist Dr John Dickie, former Kew scientist Dr Sarah Wyse, and former Director of Science at Kew Prof. Kathy Willis, found that other threatened categories and global tree species list also contain high proportions of species that are unbankable including 35% of ‘vulnerable’ species, 27% of ‘endangered’ species and 33% of all tree species.
This comes after research was published last year that estimated around 8% of the world’s plants produce recalcitrant seeds . Among these species are important UK heritage trees such as oaks, horse chestnuts and sweet chestnuts, as well as worldwide food staples like avocado, cacao, and mango. This latest research reveals that the scale of plants unable to be conserved in seed banks is much higher for threatened species. The issue is particularly severe for tree species, especially those in tropical moist forests where a half of the canopy tree species can be unsuitable for banking.
Currently, seed banking is the most commonly practiced way of conserving plants outside of their natural habitats. Seed banking works as an ‘insurance policy’ against the extinction of plants in the world – especially for those that are rare, endemic and economically important – so that they can be protected and utilised for the future.
This type of ‘ex-situ’ conservation is preferred for a number of reasons: it allows for the preservation of high levels of genetic diversity at relatively low cost in minimal space and can be kept for comparatively long periods.
However, this doesn’t work for all seeds and this new paper suggests there is a huge knowledge gap of knowing which of the world’s most rare, endemic and economically important plants are not suitable for conservation in seed banks. To estimate for the first time the extent of the problem, Wyse and Dickie developed a set of models to predict the likely seed storage behaviour of species. This analysis has highlighted that the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) target of conserving 75% of the world’s threatened plant species outside of their natural habitat by 2020 is practically impossible.
Wyse, Dickie and Willis, argue that alternative techniques are required to achieve the GSPC target, most likely using cryopreservation – a form of preservation using liquid nitrogen which offers a potential long-term storage solution for recalcitrant seeds. In seed banks, seeds are dried and frozen at -20°C whereas cryopreservation involves removing the embryo from the seed and then using liquid nitrogen to freeze it at a much colder temperature of -196°C.
Kew has been championing the use of cryopreservation at its world-famous Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) at Wakehurst for a number of years and outlined it as a key priority for conserving the world’s seeds in Kew’s Collections Strategy published earlier this year. Kew aims to develop a generic protocol for the banking of recalcitrant seeds and to kick-start large-scale use of cryopreservation. As well as allowing ‘unbankable’ species to be stored, cryopreservation also helps to extend the lifespans of orthodox seeds that otherwise have storage lives that are too short at -20°C.
In 2010, Kew scientist Dr Hugh Pritchard and Prof of Botany at CAS Kunming Institute of Botany, De-Zhu Li called for an updated of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation to outline clear aims for cryopreservation to increase research efforts into the technology. This subsequently didn’t happen and now Kew are urgently calling for cryopreservation to be prioritised as a key conservation tool post 2020 as it’s likely to provide us with the greatest gains in safeguarding ‘unbankable’ species.
John Dickie, Head of Seed & Lab-based Collections at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank and one of the authors of the paper, says that “Ex-situ conservation of plants is more critical than ever, with many threats to plant populations including climate change, habitat conversion and plant pathogens, we need to make sure we’re doing all we can to conserve the most important and threatened species. As successful as seed banking is for some species, it is not suitable for all seed plants and we need to invest in other ways to safeguard recalcitrant seeds. This paper shows that we need greater international effort to understand and apply alternative techniques like cryopreservation which have the potential to conserve many more species from extinction.”
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
When the government imposes tariffs or import quotas, it harms a few foreigners — exporting producers and their workers mainly — but it harms far more people in the country with these trade obstructions, who suffer an absence of superior options or face higher prices for the imported types of goods on the domestic market owing to lessened competition.
Likewise, when the government imposes restrictions or quotas on immigration, it harms a few foreigners — the foreigners who wish to enter the country mainly — but it harms far more people in the country with these obstructions, who suffer an absence of superior options in labor and other markets or face higher prices for the immigrants’ types of services, besides being deprived of their freedom to deal with their most preferred or rewarding trading partners as customers, tenants, neighbors, and friends.
Not to mention that enforcement of immigration restrictions fosters the maintenance of a domestic police state that menaces everyone living in the country to which immigrants wish to come.
These two cases of government obstructions at the border thus have many parallels. The important point is that they give rise to harms imposed on the multitude for the sake of creating unearned income for a minority in the country whose government imposes the obstructions.
This article was published by The Beacon.
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
The Macedonia government submitted to parliament four draft constitutional amendments whose adoption is needed so the country can implement its historic ‘name’ agreement with Greece.
The government submitted the draft constitutional amendments to parliament on Friday, launching the second of the three phases in the process to adopt the ‘name’ agreement that would unblock the country’s path towards NATO and EU membership.
Тhe first draft amendment envisages the addition of the adjective ‘North’ to the name of the country, as stipulated in the ‘name’ agreement.
The second draft amendment envisages changes in the constitution’s introductory statement that would reaffirm the foundations of Macedonia’s statehood in more detail and remove any Greek concerns about possible irredentism, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev explained.
The constitution’s introductory statement will also mention the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended a brief armed conflict with ethnic Albanian insurgents in 2001.
The third draft stipulates that the country that the country respects the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of its neighbours.
The final draft amendment concerns articles in the constitution that cover what the country does for its diaspora.
Zaev explained that this text will be realigned according to European standards so that it addresses Athens’s worries about possible irredentism and interference Greece’s internal affairs.
“The four amendments are fairly simple. One part of the public feared that this will be a complicated process which will endanger [Macedonian] identity. Now that we are disclosing the amendments, we are completely removing those worries,” Zaev told a press conference on Friday.
Zaev said that during the preparation of the drafts, the majority consulted many of the opposition MPs whose votes are crucial, and incorporated many of their suggestions, mainly those offering additional guarantees on Macedonian identity.
The four draft amendments will be debated in parliament starting from next week. Debates in the parliamentary commissions and at a plenary session are expected to last for around 30 days. After this, the drafts will be put to a vote.
Unlike on October 19, when parliament had to pass the first phase of the implementation of the ‘name’ agreement with a two-thirds majority, the voting in the second phase will require only a simple majority of 61 MPs in the 120-seat parliament.
During the parliamentary debate, NPs will have the chance to file further amendments to the four drafts and Zaev said that the government will be willing to incorporate them if they are in the spirit of the ‘name’ agreement.
“We are talking to other [opposition] MPs for greater support,” he added.
If the second phase passes off successfully, the government will have a green light to prepare the final constitutional amendments which will also have to be debated in parliament for at least 30 days before a third and final vote that will again require a two-thirds majority.
All this is expected to be finished by the end of the year or in January at the latest so that parliament in Athens can then also ratify the ‘name’ agreement ahead of elections in Greece.
Counterintelligence from mikenova (50 sites)
(RFE/RL) — The presidents of Russia and Cuba have vowed to strengthen political, economic, and military ties and denounced what they called U.S. “interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations.”
In a joint statement following talks in Moscow on November 2, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Russia’s Vladimir Putin also called for closer integration between Moscow and Latin American nations.
The visit comes at a time of heightened tensions for both nations with the United States.
U.S. officials continue to assail Havana for its alleged human rights violations, while Moscow and Washington have several contentious issues between them — including accusations, denied by Moscow, of Russian interference in U.S. elections, Moscow’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Diaz-Canel invited Putin to visit Cuba in 2019. He has twice traveled there, in 2000 and 2014, as part of efforts to revive relations with the communist island nation.
In a news conference, Diaz-Canel said that “we are going to develop trade and economic ties” and raise them to a high level, citing joint projects in energy, transportation, metals, and biotechnology.
Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told reporters that Moscow was close to agreeing to a 38 million euro loan for Cuba to help it buy Russian-made arms. He said the accord could be finalized within two weeks.
During the Cold War, Moscow provided billions of dollars in aid and subsidies to bolster the government of Fidel Castro, a fierce rival of the United States.
But support was slashed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Russia was no longer able to provide financial assistance.
1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites)
All sanctions on Iran lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal will be back in force on November 5, the US administration has announced.
The sweeping sanctions will see 700 people blacklisted, the US Treasury has announced. These include persons that were granted relief under the 2015 deal, as well as over 300 new names, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters.
Sanctions will also target payments through the special mechanism that the EU has been creating specifically to avoid Washington’s penalties and to keep buying Iranian oil.
Mnuchin has also threatened sanctions against the transaction service SWIFT.
SWIFT is no different than any other entity,” Mnuchin told reporters. “We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed earlier reports that eight nations will receive exemptions from the reimposed penalties, but refused to name them and said the EU as a singular entity was not among them. Earlier reports suggested that the list of exemptions would include Japan, India and South Korea.
Pompeo has released a list of 12 demands for Iran to comply with if it wants the sanctions lifted. These include halting all nuclear and ballistic missile development, as well as ending what Washington calls Tehran’s “support for terrorism,” and withdrawing from the Syrian conflict.
“Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country,” Pompeo said. More details will become available on Monday as the sanctions take effect, he announced.
Tehran is dismissing the sanctions, saying it is fully capable of managing its economy despite the resultant pressure.
“The new US sanctions will mostly have psychological effects,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on state TV. The US will not attain its political goals through such sanctions, he added.
This is the second batch of sanctions to be re-imposed after US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark deal, which was signed by Iran and six world powers in 2015. They cover Iran’s shipping, finance and energy sectors; and penalize other countries that don’t stop dealing with Tehran.
Since its withdrawal, the US has been pursuing the policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, much to the chagrin of the European signatories, who have long praised the Obama-era agreement and attested to its effectiveness. The EU has been working on creating special payment channels to continue importing Iranian oil legally. This was set to be “symbolically ready” by the time sanctions kick back in.
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British government considered moving novichok victims Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia to a safe house in …
British government considered moving novichok victims Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia to a safe house in Australia but they didn’t want to leave protection of UK police. By Charlie Coe For Daily Mail Australia 21:49 EDT 02 Nov 2018, updated 21:49 …
Novichok – Google News
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Stars and Stripes
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“We took action on relevant accounts and activity on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesman said in an email. The removals took place in late September and early October.
Twitter removed more than 10,000 accounts, according to three sources familiar with the Democrats’ effort. The number is modest, considering that Twitter has previously deleted millions of accounts it determined were responsible for spreading misinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Yet the removals represent an early win for a fledgling effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, a party group that supports Democrats running for the U.S. House of Representatives.
The DCCC launched the effort this year in response to the party’s inability to respond to millions of accounts on Twitter and other social media platforms that spread negative and false information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other party candidates in 2016, three people familiar with the operation told Reuters.
While the prevalence of misinformation campaigns has so far been modest in the run-up to the congressional elections on Nov. 6, Democrats are hoping the flagging operation will help them react quickly if there is a flurry of such messages in the coming days.
The tweets included ones that discouraged Democratic men from voting, saying that would drown out the voice of women, according to two of the sources familiar with the flagging operation.
The DCCC developed its own system for identifying and reporting malicious automated accounts on social media, according to the three party sources.
The system was built in part from publicly available tools known as “Hoaxley” and “Botometer” developed by University of Indiana computer researchers. They allow a user to identify automated accounts, also known as bots, and analyze how they spread information on specific topics.
“We made Hoaxley and Botometer free for anyone to use because people deserve to know what’s a bot and what’s not,” said Filippo Menczer, professor of informatics and computer science at the University of Indiana.
The Democratic National Committee works with a group of contractors and partners to rapidly identify misinformation campaigns.
They include RoBhat Labs, a firm whose website says it has developed technology capable of detecting bots and identifying political bias in messages.
The collaboration with RoBhat has already led to the discovery of malicious accounts and posts, which were referred to social media companies and other campaign officials, DNC Chief Technology Officer Raffi Krikorian said in email.
Krikorian did not say whether the flagged posts were ultimately removed by Twitter.
“We provide the DNC with reports about what we’re seeing in terms of bot activity and where it’s being amplified,” said Ash Bhat, co-founder of RoBhat Labs.
“We can’t tell you who’s behind these different operations — Twitter hides that from us — but with the technology you know when and how it’s happening,” Bhat said.
Voice of America
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Defense and security officials worry that as part of Moscow’s plan to sow division and discord, it is trying to conquer the U.S. military — not with bullets or missiles but with tweets and memes.
The tactic is an outgrowth of Russia’s overarching strategy to find…
Voice of America
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Window on Eurasia — New Series
1. Russia from mikenova (112 sites)