17 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Church accused of using ‘mob boss approach’ to pressure lawmakers who support bill that would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue abusers

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Clergy process into the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, ahead of the papal mass in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 26 September 2015. Photograph: Mark Makela/Reuters

The Catholic church in Pennsylvania has been accused of employing “mafia-like” tactics in a campaign to put pressure on individual Catholic lawmakers who support state legislation that would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers.

The lobbying campaign against the legislation is being led by Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput, a staunch conservative who recently created a stir after inadvertently sending an email to a state representative Jamie Santora, in which he accused the lawmaker of “betraying” the church and said Santora would suffer “consequences” for his support of the legislation. The email was also sent to a senior staff member in Chaput’s office, who was apparently the only intended recipient.

The email has infuriated some Catholic lawmakers, who say they voted their conscience in support of the legislation on behalf of sexual abuse victims. One Republican legislator, Mike Vareb, accused the archbishop of using mafia-style tactics.

“This mob boss approach of having legislators called out, he really went right up to the line,” Vareb told the Guardian. “He is going down a road that is frankly dangerous for the status of the church in terms of it being a non-profit.”

Under US tax laws, organisations like churches that are classified as non-profit groups are not supposed to be engaged in political activity, though they are allowed to publish legislators’ voting records in some cases.

At stake in the contentious fight is a state bill that would allow victims of sexual abuse to file civil claims against their abusers, and those who knew of abuse, until they are 50 years old. Under current law, victims can only file suit until they are 30 years old. The proposal overwhelmingly passed the state lower house in a bipartisan vote in April but appears to have stalled in the state senate, where some believe it might not pass……………


Public employees’ payslips surface online, sparking widespread anger as country’s economy continues to stagnate

Iranians withdraw cash in Tehran.

Iranians withdraw cash in Tehran. Photograph: Vahid Salemi/AP

Revelations that senior Iranian government employees were being paid astronomical salaries have rocked the country and threatened popular support for the president, Hassan Rouhani, amid Iran’s continued economic stagnation, little improved by the lifting of international sanctions in January.

The revelations, which have sparked widespread anger, have continued to dominate front pages across the country, and even led to the resignation of the head of the state insurance regulator, Mohammad Ebrahim Amin.

The scandal first erupted two months ago when a series of payslips surfaced online, which showed a number of top executives at the state insurance company were being paid monthly wages roughly 50 times higher than the lowest government salary.

This week, Rouhani instructed his vice-president, Eshaq Jahangiri, to launch an inquiry into the inflated salaries, and other exorbitant payments made to government officials. Rouhani’s opponents have sought to capitalise on the scandal to attack the president, who is already under pressure to demonstrate the economic benefits of last year’s nuclear deal.

In a letter to his vice-president, Rouhani sought to deflect blame to previous administrations for the high salaries……………..


Three boys surprised the girl while they were playing and the rope wrapped around her neck and she was ‘violently jerked to the ground’, the lawsuit says

‘She did not see what the boys behind her were doing, and the next thing KP knew, she felt the rope wrap around her neck and she was violently jerked to the ground,’ the lawsuit states.

‘She did not see what the boys behind her were doing, and the next thing KP knew, she felt the rope wrap around her neck and she was violently jerked to the ground,’ the lawsuit states. Photograph: TJ Jones

The parents of a 12-year-old black girl have sued her Texas school after a group of white classmates allegedly wrapped a rope around her neck and “violently jerked” her to the ground, leaving burns in her skin that are documented in graphic photos included in the complaint.

The incident, which reportedly left the girl with a “severe and painful” rope cut on her neck, has brought national attention to Live Oak classical school, a largely white private school in Waco, Texas, that has been accused of having a history of bullying problems.

The lawsuit filed this week – which seeks damages of $3m for medical bills, physical pain, disfigurement and suffering – alleges that the school was negligent in its failure to protect the girl and in its response to the injuries.

The school has denied the allegations, arguing that the incident was an accident.

The injuries happened during the sixth grade class’s overnight campout at the end of April when a group of students began to play with a rope swing hanging from a tree at the Germer Ranch in Blanco County…………….


After successful filibuster to procure vote, Democrats’ proposals on universal background checks and terror watch lists will be met with competing measures

Smith & Wesson’s gun sales boosted profits by 50% on last year

Senator Chris Murphy has led calls for gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando.

Senator Chris Murphy has led calls for gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Republicans have signaled that they will not compromise on gun control measures, despite a nearly 15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats protesting congressional inaction on the issue.

A group of Democrats, flanked by family members of gun violence victims, were at times brought to tears during a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday following the murder of 49 people in a gay club in Orlando over the weekend, as they inveighed against an epidemic that kills an average of 90 Americans each day and vowed to force Republicans on the record on the issue.

“How on Earth in the face of the largest mass shooting in the history of this nation could the United States Senate ignore it in the week following?” asked Chris Murphy, the Connecticut senator who led a talking filibuster that began Wednesday morning and did not end until the early hours of Thursday.

“My legs are a little bit rubbery, but my heart is strong,” he added.

Murphy, along with 39 of his colleagues, took control of the Senate floor during a debate over an unrelated spending bill as lawmakers returned to business in the wake of the terrorist attack in Florida. The issue has been especially personal to Murphy, who emerged as a leading advocate of reducing gun violence after a gunman in his home state of Connecticut killed 20 children and six educators in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy………….


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Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey discuss the mass shooting in Orlando at the Oval Office.

Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey discuss the mass shooting in Orlando at the Oval Office. Photograph: Action Press/REX/Shutterstock

As with many tragedies, a host of politicians are now trying to exploit the mass murder in Orlando to push all sorts of proposals that would have done little or nothing to stop the attack either, but could have a huge affect on our rights.

The first thing Republicans did on Monday was try to use the tragedy to call for expansive new surveillance powers for the FBI – despite the fact that the FBI had no problem surveilling the Orlando attacker while they were investigating him. As the New York Times noted on Monday: “FBI agents in Florida used multiple investigative tools, including an undercover informant who made contact with the suspect, wiretapping his conversations, and pulling personal and financial records” when they first investigated him in 2013.

But Republicans didn’t let the facts get in the way. They want to massively broaden the use of national security letters, controversial and unconstitutional tools that the FBI would be able to use to get people’s email records and internet history without involving a judge or courts at all. Of course, they can already get this with a court order, but Republicans (and the Obama administration) want as little judicial scrutiny over these activities as possible………….



Pulse was a ‘haven’ and ‘bastion’ of the gay community before Sunday’s attack. Here readers tell us about their own places of sanctuary and self-discovery

Scene in gay club

‘Why go? Because every once in a while, I don’t want to feel so alone.’ Photograph: Dosfotos/PYMCA /Rex

Elliott, 23, Washington, DC

Growing up as an only child in a very conservative household didn’t leave me with many options for beginning to understand who I was. The mid-teen years were turbulent, racked with bouts of anger, misunderstanding and arguments with most of the people around me.

It wasn’t until college and the first week there that I noticed an LGBT group ad on campus and figured I would join. The times that I had with that group came to redefine me, I was able to finally be fully open about who I was and what I was feeling.

The best of these times revolved around driving 2.5 hours to Town in DC, not to drink but just to go dance and be around a group that I felt like I could finally start to identify with. Town helped me define myself in a time when I was on the verge of making terrible choices with my life. Fortunately for me I am still able to go there and relish the familiarity of the place and to see how it is becoming a beacon for younger people who have that same lost look in their eyes before they walk in. This place provides a haven, an outlet and a time that most are not soon to forget.

Tom, 47, Portland

Growing up in south-central Montana, albeit in the state’s largest city, meant keeping pretty quiet about being gay.

As I came of age, the local gay bar on the outskirts of town, The Corral, was where I and others could go and be open about who we really were. I am typically introverted, keeping to myself and preferring alone-time to social events. But The Corral provided me with a place to explore a side of myself that I kept undercover anywhere else………..




English Online International Newspapers

For a change from the same old news stories from the same old news networks, here are links to English-edition online newspapers from other parts of the world. Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

View All

Some of the available newspapers:

Asia – UN IRIN News

Asia & CIS (Updated Link!)





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