Eurasia Review: How Benedict’s Essay Supports Francis’ Call For ‘Zero Tolerance’ – Analysis

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By Ed Condon

After the April 11 publication of a new essay by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, commentators are mostly discussing their perception of the politics surrounding the release, or Benedict’s assessment of the sexual revolution and its relationship to the crisis.

But lost in that discussion is the immediate practical application of
the document, which articulates a theology of law that seems to support
the ‘zero tolerance’ approach to addressing sexual abusers in the
Church, which Pope Francis has long endorsed, even while he has not yet arrived at a practical way of delivering it.

At the heart of his new argument, the former pontiff insists that the
purpose of punishing the perpetrators of sexual abuse is the salvation
of souls, which is the highest law of the Church.

Recalling that, in the 1980s, the crisis of abuse began to reach Rome
after decades of building at the diocesan level, Benedict’s essay
explained that there was in Rome a double failure of law and theology,
which left both victims of abuse and the faith itself unprotected.

While the previous Code of Canon Law contained a long list of
specific crimes a cleric could commit – including a litany of sexual
delicts – “the deliberately loosely constructed criminal law of the new
Code” of 1983 offered a much pared down set of penal norms, Benedict
argued.

He added that in accord with a prevailing ecclesiology at the time
there also emerged among many canonists and bishops a false dichotomy
between justice and mercy, in which mercy was seen to pre-empt and
exclude the former, rather than following and tempering it.
 
Benedict highlighted the emergence of a kind of legal “guarantorism,” in
which the rights of the accused seemed to be afforded the central
concern of the canonical process, often at the expense of victims,
restorative justice, and the public good.

Temporary suspensions and stints in therapy for abusive clerics were
treated as adequate punishment, and local bishops were left with abusive
priests they were expected to rehabilitate.

Under Pope St. John Paul II, reforms to the process began, starting
with Rome’s decision to raise the canonical age of majority for these
cases to 18, and to extend the canonical statute of limitations. The
reforms under Pope St. John Paul II culminated in 2001, when Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela established new legal norms for the handling of “major crimes” against faith and morals in canon law.

Among the most crucial of St. John Paul’s reforms was, Benedict
noted, the transfer of competence of sexual abuse cases from the
Congregation for Clergy to the Congregation for the Doctrine if the
Faith. This change was not, the pope emeritus explained, a merely
bureaucratic move, but one rooted in a proper understanding of the
nature and gravity of the crime of sexual abuse.

Benedict said the decision was a recognition that sexual abuse of
minors is a crime against the immediate victim, and against the faith
itself.

Certainly, the experience of recent decades appears to bear out the
effect of the sexual abuse scandals on the faith all of Catholics, at
least some of whom have lapsed in the practice of the faith following
the sexual abuse crises.

This does not suggest that Benedict’s essay ignored concern for the
right of defense. Instead, Benedict argued that “a properly formed canon
law must contain a double guarantee — legal protection of the accused,
legal protection of the good at stake.”

The idea that there is a legal necessity to defending the “good of
the faith” in sex abuse cases will likely prove the most important
contribution Benedict will makes to the ongoing progress of reform.

Benedict’s essay articulated its own version of  “zero tolerance” in
that framework, noting that “Jesus protects the deposit of the faith
with an emphatic threat of punishment to those who do it harm.”

Presenting sexual abuse as a crime against the soul, not just the
body, and recognizing that it can have cascading tiers of victims,
refocuses the legal process through the lens of its most quoted maxim:
“salus animarum suprema lex est.”

Benedict seems to argue that if the salvation of souls is the
Church’s highest law, the protection of the faith should be understood
as a legal good at least as important as protecting the rights of
accused abusers.

From that vantage point, Benedict observed that there is much legal
reform still to be done, and that Pope Francis is rightly carrying it
forward.

Much of the ongoing discussion has centered around what other kinds
of sexual misconduct, in addition to the abuse of children, should be
canonically criminalized.

Some prominent bishops have insisted on distinguishing between the
sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct between adults, arguing
that potentially consensual sexual misconduct by clerics should not be
accorded the status of a major crime. In light of Benedict’s essay, some
are likely to see in that approach the juridic framework that Benedict
described as guarantorism.

But other bishops, including Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, have
emphasized the importance of seeing sexual abuse of clerical power
treated with the same gravity as abuse of a minor.

The pope seems to thinking along the same lines as O’Malley, demonstrated by his recent expansion of the definition of a “vulnerable adult” in the canonical norms of the Roman Curia and the Vatican City State.

Benedict’s theology of penal law, which holds at its center the
crimes against the faith of the Church — and of the victims of abuse —
offers a powerful rationale for Pope Francis’ action.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it
would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck
and he were thrown into the sea,” Benedict quotes from the gospel.

These little ones, the Pope emeritus wrote, are not only those who
physically suffer abuse but also the “common believers who can be
confounded in their faith,” be they children or adults.

‘It is important to see,” Benedict says, “that such misconduct by clerics ultimately damages the Faith.”

Set against this understanding of the depth of sexual abuse as a
crime both physical and spiritual, Pope Francis’ ongoing efforts to
articulate legally the policy of “zero tolerance” may find a renewed
impetus.

Such a policy, Benedict has now argued, is essential to the salvation of souls.

Eurasia Review


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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The World News and Times: FOX News: Gregg Jarrett: Avenatti may need to get used to a jumpsuit

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Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett said Thursday that attorney Michael Avenatti may have to get used to wearing jumpsuits rather than an Armani suit and Jesse Watters accused the media of overlooking the real person in favor of his anti-Trump message.

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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The World News and Times: FOX News: Amber Heard asks judge to dismiss Johnny Depp’s $50M defamation lawsuit

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Actress Amber Heard asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a $50 million defamation lawsuit her ex-husband Johnny Depp filed over an op-ed about domestic violence she wrote in The Washington Post.

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Eurasia Review: Predicting The Next Recession And Other Ways To Waste Your Time – OpEd

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The people who completely missed the housing bubble, the collapse of
which sank the economy in 2008 and gave us the Great Recession, are
again busy telling us about the next recession on the way. The latest
item that they want us to be very worried about is an inversion of the
yield curve. There has been an inversion of the yield curve before
nearly every prior recession and we have never had an inversion of the
yield curve without seeing a recession in the next two years.

If you have no idea what an inversion of the yield curve is, that
probably means you’re a normal person with better things to do with your
time. But for economists, and especially those who monitor financial
markets closely, this can be a big deal.

An inverted yield curve refers to the relationship between shorter-
and longer-term interest rates. Typically, a longer-term interest rate,
say the interest rate you would get on a 30-year bond, is higher than
what you would get from lending short-term, like buying a three-month
Treasury bill.

The logic is that if you are locking up your money for a longer
period of time, you have to be compensated with a higher interest rate.
Therefore, it is generally true that as you get to longer durations, say
a one-year bond compared to three-month bond, the interest rate rises.
This relationship between interest rates and the duration of the loan is
what is known as the “yield curve.”

We get an inverted yield curve when this pattern of higher interest
rates associated with longer-term lending does not hold, as was at least
briefly the case last week. For example, on Wednesday, March 27th,
the interest rate on a three-month Treasury bill was 2.43 percent. The
interest rate on a ten-year Treasury bond was just 2.38 percent, 0.05
percentage points lower. That meant that we had an inverted yield curve.

While this sort of inversion has historically been associated with a
recession in the not too distant future, this is not quite a curse of an
inverted yield curve story. Most recessions are brought on by the
Federal Reserve Board raising the overnight federal funds rate (a very
short-term interest rate), which is directly under its control. The Fed
does this to slow the economy, ostensibly because it wants to keep the
inflation rate from rising.

The higher short-term rate tends to also raise long-term interest
rates, like car loans and mortgages, which are the rates that matter
more for the economy. However, longer-term rates tend not to rise as
much as the short-term rate. In a more typical economy, we might expect a
3.0 percentage point rise in the federal funds rate to be associated
with a 1.0–2.0 percentage point rise in the ten-year Treasury bond rate.

We get an inversion in this story when the Fed goes too far, or at
least investors in the bond market think it has gone too far. The Fed
keeps raising the short-term rate, but investors in longer-term debt
think that they see an end in sight to rate hikes and a reversal on the
way. If the short-term rate is going to be falling to 2.0 percent or
even lower in future months, then investors would welcome the
possibility of locking in an interest rate like today’s 2.38 percent on
ten-year bonds, even if it means foregoing a slighter higher short-term
rate at the moment.

That’s pretty much the story we have today. Since December of 2015,
the Fed has raised the federal funds rate from essentially zero to 2.5
percent. With little evidence of inflation and some signs of a weakening
economy, many investors are betting that the Fed has stopped hiking
rates and will soon be lowering them. This hardly means there we will
necessarily be seeing a recession.

It is also worth noting that interest rates in the US are notably
higher than in other countries, which do face a recession or near
recession conditions. While the US ten-year Treasury bond pays 2.38
percent interest, a ten-year French bond pays just 0.31 percent. In the
Netherlands the interest rate is 0.13 percent, and in Germany, you have
to pay the government 0.07 percent annually to lend them money.

These extraordinarily low long-term interest rates in other countries
puts downward pressure on interest rates here. Getting 2.38 percent
interest on a ten-year Treasury bond may not sound very good by
historical standards, but it is a lot better than having to pay the
German government to borrow your money. This is another factor in our
inverted yield curve.

Of course the weakness of foreign economies is bad news for the U.S.
economy. Weakness in Europe, a weaker Chinese economy, and Canada
possibly seeing the implosion of its housing bubble, means that trade
will likely be a drag on growth in 2019 and probably 2020, as the trade
deficit rises further. But, slower export growth is not going to be
sufficient to push the U.S. economy into recession.

To be clear, the signals all point to a considerably weaker economy
going forward. The Trump tax cut gave us a one-time boost. It was not
the promised investment boom that lifted growth in 2018. Investment grew
modestly, rather it was a story where the wealthy people — who were the
main beneficiaries of the tax cut – spent much of the money they got
either directly or indirectly as share buybacks and dividends.

This led to a jump in consumption in 2018, but with no further tax
cuts on the horizon, we can assume that consumption will return to its
modest growth path of pre-recession years. Investment has been
weakening, but presumably will be a modest positive through the year. On
the other hand, housing is being hit by higher interest rates and is
likely to be a drag on growth.

The drag from housing and trade could well push growth below the 2.0
percent trend path we had been on through most of the recovery. The
weakness can be amplified if the Republicans’ new found (post-tax cut)
concern with deficits, combined with austerity minded Democrats, leads
to cuts in federal spending.

However, with wages growing at a respectable pace, and job growth
remaining healthy, we should see still see enough consumption demand to
keep the economy moving forward. That means slower growth, but no
recession.

One story we can rule out is a collapse of the corporate bond market
leading to another 2008 financial crisis and recession. The New York
Times has been running regular columns from former investment banker
William Cohan telling us the corporate debt bubble story (here, here, and here).

As I’ve pointed out many times, the corporate debt market does not
move the economy in the same way as the housing bubble did before 2008,
and therefore its collapse cannot possibly lead to the same sort of
downturn. The housing bubble was both directly moving the economy
through an unprecedented boom in residential construction and indirectly
through the wealth effect on consumption. People were borrowing against
their homes and spending at an unprecedented rate.

When the bubble burst, residential construction collapsed, cutting
more than 4.0 percentage points off of GDP (roughly $900 billion
annually in today’s economy). The loss of housing wealth led to a plunge
in consumption of at least 2 percent of GDP (another $420 billion in
annual demand in the 2019 economy).

There is no way that even a major collapse of the corporate bond
market could have anywhere near this effect. There is no investment
boom, so the impact on investment of some companies being unable to
issue bonds or otherwise borrow money is likely to be trivial.

The same applies to any secondary spillover on consumption. We are
not now seeing any sort of consumption boom. In an extreme case, where
we see a $1-$2 trillion plunge in the value of corporate debt, the
ultimate impact on consumption is almost certain to be in the low tens
of billions, perhaps a loss of 0.1 or 0.2 percent in annual demand. That
is not the stuff of recessions.

Before the Great Recession the New York Times had problems finding
people who understood the risks of bubbles to write for them. It seems
to still have this problem.

Anyhow, the long and short here is that people need not spend time
worrying about the curse of the inverted yield curve. At least not
unless something else bad happens, there is not a recession on the
horizon.

Enjoy the spring weather!

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: Archaeologists Identify First Prehistoric Figurative Cave Art In Balkans

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An international team, led by an archaeologist from the University of
Southampton and the University of Bordeaux, has revealed the first
example of Palaeolithic figurative cave art found in the Balkan
Peninsula.

Dr Aitor Ruiz-Redondo worked with researchers from the universities
of Cantabria (Spain), Newfoundland (Canada), Zagreb (Croatia) and the
Archaeological Museum of Istria (Croatia) to study the paintings, which
could be up to 34,000 years old.

The cave art was first discovered in 2010 in Romualdova Pe?ina
(‘Romuald’s cave’) at Istria in Croatia, when Darko Komšo, Director of
the Archaeological Museum of Istria, noticed the existence of the
remains of a red colour in a deep part of the cave.

Following his discovery, the team led by Dr Ruiz-Redondo and funded
by the French State and the Archaeological Museum of Istria, with the
support of Natura Histrica, undertook a detailed analysis of the
paintings and their archaeological context.

This led to the identification of several figurative paintings,
including a bison, an ibex and two possible anthropomorphic figures,
confirming the Palaeolithic age of the artworks. Furthermore, an
excavation made in the ground below these paintings led to the discovery
of a number of Palaeolithic age remains; a flint tool, an ochre crayon
and several fragments of charcoal.

Radiocarbon dating of these objects show an estimated age of around
17,000 years and other indirect data suggest the paintings date to an
even earlier period – at around 34,000-31,000 years ago. Further
research will be conducted in order to establish the precise age of the
rock art.

Findings are published in the journal Antiquity.

This discovery expands the so far sparse register of Palaeolithic
art in south east Europe. It makes Romualdova Pe?ina the first site
where figurative Palaeolithic rock art has been discovered in this area.
Together with Badanj in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the two are the only
examples of rock art from the Palaeolithic period in the Balkans.

Dr Aitor Ruiz-Redondo, a British Academy-funded Newton International
Fellow at the University of Southampton and postdoctoral researcher at
the University of Bordeaux, said: “The importance of this finding is
remarkable and sheds a new light on the understanding of Palaeolithic
art in the territory of Croatia and the Balkan Peninsula, as well as its
relationship with simultaneous phenomena throughout Europe.”

A new project started by Dr Ruiz-Redondo and his team, funded by the
British Academy, will develop further research at these two sites
during the next few years.

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Eurasia Review: Artificial Intelligence Agent Offers Rationales Using Everyday Language To Explain Its Actions

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Georgia Institute of Technology researchers, in collaboration with
Cornell University and University of Kentucky, have developed an
artificially intelligent (AI) agent that can automatically generate
natural language explanations in real-time to convey the motivations
behind its actions. The work is designed to give humans engaging with AI
agents or robots confidence that the agent is performing the task
correctly and can explain a mistake or errant behavior.

The agent also uses everyday language that non-experts can
understand. The explanations, or “rationales” as the researchers call
them, are designed to be relatable and inspire trust in those who might
be in the workplace with AI machines or interact with them in social
situations.

“If the power of AI is to be democratized, it needs to be accessible
to anyone regardless of their technical abilities,” said Upol Ehsan,
Ph.D. student in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech and
lead researcher.

“As AI pervades all aspects of our lives, there is a distinct need
for human-centered AI design that makes black-boxed AI systems
explainable to everyday users. Our work takes a formative step toward
understanding the role of language-based explanations and how humans
perceive them.”

The study was supported by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Researchers developed a participant study to determine if their AI
agent could offer rationales that mimicked human responses. Spectators
watched the AI agent play the videogame Frogger and then ranked three
on-screen rationales in order of how well each described the AI’s game
move.

Of the three anonymized justifications for each move – a
human-generated response, the AI-agent response, and a randomly
generated response – the participants preferred the human-generated
rationales first, but the AI-generated responses were a close second.

Frogger offered the researchers the chance to train an AI in a
“sequential decision-making environment,” which is a significant
research challenge because decisions that the agent has already made
influence future decisions. Therefore, explaining the chain of reasoning
to experts is difficult, and even more so when communicating with
non-experts, according to researchers.

The human spectators understood the goal of Frogger in getting the
frog safely home without being hit by moving vehicles or drowned in the
river. The simple game mechanics of moving up, down, left or right,
allowed the participants to see what the AI was doing, and to evaluate
if the rationales on the screen clearly justified the move.

The spectators judged the rationales based on:

  • Confidence – the person is confident in the AI to perform its task
  • Human-likeness – looks like it was made by a human
  • Adequate justification – adequately justifies the action taken
  • Understandability – helps the person understand the AI’s behavior

AI-generated rationales that were ranked higher by participants were
those that showed recognition of environmental conditions and
adaptability, as well as those that communicated awareness of upcoming
dangers and planned for them. Redundant information that just stated the
obvious or mischaracterized the environment were found to have a
negative impact.

“This project is more about understanding human perceptions and
preferences of these AI systems than it is about building new
technologies,” said Ehsan. “At the heart of explainability is sense
making. We are trying to understand that human factor.”

A second related study validated the researchers’ decision to design
their AI agent to be able to offer one of two distinct types of
rationales:

  • Concise, “focused” rationales or
  • Holistic, “complete picture” rationales

In this second study, participants were only offered AI-generated
rationales after watching the AI play Frogger. They were asked to select
the answer that they preferred in a scenario where an AI made a mistake
or behaved unexpectedly. They did not know the rationales were grouped
into the two categories.

By a 3-to-1 margin, participants favored answers that were
classified in the “complete picture” category. Responses showed that
people appreciated the AI thinking about future steps rather than just
what was in the moment, which might make them more prone to making
another mistake. People also wanted to know more so that they might
directly help the AI fix the errant behavior.

“The situated understanding of the perceptions and preferences of
people working with AI machines give us a powerful set of actionable
insights that can help us design better human-centered,
rationale-generating, autonomous agents,” said Mark Riedl, professor of
Interactive Computing and lead faculty member on the project.

A possible future direction for the research will apply the findings
to autonomous agents of various types, such as companion agents, and
how they might respond based on the task at hand. Researchers will also
look at how agents might respond in different scenarios, such as during
an emergency response or when aiding teachers in the classroom.

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: Getting Back To Work After A Heart Attack

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Heart attack patients with the desire to return to work can do it. That’s the main message of a paper published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1

“Patients who believe they can still do their job and want to go
back will make a success of it,”2 said lead author Dr Rona Reibis, of
the University of Potsdam, Germany. “After a heart attack it is very
rare for patients to be physically unable to perform their previous
duties, including heavy work.”

Between 67% and 93% of patients with acute coronary syndromes –
which include heart attack and unstable angina (chest pain) – return to
work in two to three months. But after a year, one in four quit. Among
those over 55, women are less likely to go back to employment than men.
This paper outlines the reasons and gives practical advice on how to
successfully reintegrate into the workplace.

The probability of returning to work depends mainly on the
patient’s decision – do they want to go back or not? Next are
psychological factors, with lack of confidence, depression and anxiety
all predicting failure to return. The patient’s medical condition
combined with the type of work can also have an impact. Blue collar
workers may struggle if they have heart failure, rhythm instability, or
ischaemia which reduce physical performance. Those with implanted
cardiac devices might need to avoid workplaces with electrical fields.

As for gender differences, Dr Reibis said: “There is still the
traditional idea that the man must go back to work because he is the
breadwinner. Whereas women can be reintegrated but it depends on whether
they want to. Added to that, women tend to have more doubts about their
ability to perform their prior tasks – particularly blue collar roles.
Well educated women with white collar jobs don’t have this problem.”

Similarly, blue collar workers with lower education and
socioeconomic levels are more likely to quit after one year. This is
particularly true for patients in their 30s who smoke and are overweight
or obese.

How to successfully return to work:

  • Attend cardiac rehabilitation (half of eligible patients
    don’t) for advice on a healthy lifestyle, plus personalised tips from a
    cardiologist, psychologist, physiotherapist, social worker, and
    occupational therapist on getting back into employment.
  • Don’t change jobs.
  • Take it gradually if needed: do fewer hours/days at the start,
    work from home once a week, take more breaks, delegate some
    responsibility.
  • Stay in contact with your GP and/or company doctor and adjust the workload if needed.

“The best way is to return to the job you know,” said Dr Reibis.
“Patients who had a relatively small heart attack with complete
restoration of blood flow, are consistently taking their medication and
don’t have an implanted device can do their work as before without any
precautions.”

“Others may wish to ease back into their former role,” she
continued. “During the first couple of months if you are not able to
keep up with the workload, change it. Don’t wait until it becomes
unmanageable and you have to quit. And try to reduce stress, for example
by giving up some responsibilities for half a year.”

Regarding follow-up after resuming work, patients who have no signs
of depression or anxiety, feel positive about their ability to work and
can meet the physical requirements don’t need specific follow-up advice.
Further observation is needed for those with work-related problems –
typically middle aged male blue collar workers with a low education and
high burden of comorbidities such as obesity, smoking, and diabetes.

“Such patients need continuous input with coping strategies and
support,” said Dr Reibis. “For example they can do a longer programme of
cardiac rehabilitation. It is very important that they maintain contact
with their GP or company doctor and modify the tasks as needed.”

The paper was written by the Secondary Prevention and Rehabilitation
Section, European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) of the
ESC. It is published during the EAPC’s annual congress EuroPrevent.

Patient testimonial: Ákos Gesztes

“Four years ago I had a severe heart attack at the age of 42. I
collapsed in a pharmacy, and despite quick intervention and the
insertion of two stents, my heart was not strong enough to circulate
sufficient blood. I was put on extracorporeal circulatory support and a
breathing machine, and kept in a coma for one week. Two additional
stents were inserted during my rehabilitation.

It was a shock to face up to my situation. I was told once that I
would never work again – that was the worst for me. I restarted work
1.5 months after the event, first from home thanks to my company and
bosses. After three months I could go back to normal work.

Being positive helped me resume my job – I told myself I was a
survivor and got a second chance, and I learned to differentiate between
healthy fear and unhealthy anxiety. It was also important to understand
the causes of my heart attack, that I am at increased risk for future
events, and why following the advised treatments will reduce my risk. I
changed my life: I cycle 13 km every second day, have a low cholesterol
diet, and have taken all my prescribed medications during the last four
years.

Rehabilitation is very important for going back to work, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. I found that the process can be accelerated by having colleagues and bosses who understanding the situation and offer a transitional period with less stress and workload.”

References

1Reibis R, Salzwedel A, Abreu A, et al. The importance of return
to work: How to achieve optimal reintegration in ACS patients. Eur J
Prev Cardiol. 2019. doi:10.1177/2047487319839263.

2Patient testimony on “Getting back to work after a heart attack” can be provided upon request.

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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The World News and Times: Deutsche Welle from Michael_Novakhov (6 sites): Deutsche Welle: Germany exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia and UAE — reports

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Germany’s secret security council has allowed for weapons shipments to members of the war coalition in Yemen. European nations have called for Germany to lift their ban on weapons exports to the Middle East.

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“cia” – Google News: SuperTrend Higher Than Share Price for Cia DE Saneamento Basico Do Estado (SBS) – Richland Standard

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SuperTrend Higher Than Share Price for Cia DE Saneamento Basico Do Estado (SBS)  Richland Standard

The SuperTrend signal is currently higher than the stock price for Cia DE Saneamento Basico Do Estado (SBS). Active traders may be closely tracking the action …

“cia” – Google News


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Eurasia Review: Many African Countries Still Have Wide Variation In Vaccine Coverage

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Many African nations have made substantial progress in vaccinating
children against life-threatening diseases, however, within countries
wide discrepancies remain, according to a new scientific study.

The proportion of children receiving the full infant series of three
vaccinations against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT3) increased
in almost three quarters of districts in Africa between 2000 and 2016.
In 29 of 52 nations studied, however, coverage with DPT3 varied by more
than 25% at the district level, highlighting substantial variation
within countries.

The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and
conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the
University of Washington, was published in the international medical
journal The Lancet.

“Despite substantial gains in coverage, progress was far from
universal,” said Dr. Jonathan Mosser, the lead author on the study.
“Routine childhood vaccinations are among the most successful and
cost-effective public health interventions, substantially contributing
to children living beyond their fifth birthdays. We continue to see wide
areas of low coverage at the local level, however, illustrating that
targeted improvements are needed to ensure that all children have access
to lifesaving immunizations.”

The study, “Mapping diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine coverage in
Africa, 2000-2016: a spatial and temporal modelling study,” maps
nations in fine-scale, 5×5 kilometer increments, so that health
officials nationally and locally can identify gaps in vaccine coverage
and target interventions with precision, tailoring health policy
decisions at local levels.

Using data from nearly 900,000 children, this analysis provides the
first annual estimates of childhood DPT3 coverage across the entire
African continent. It measures each community against the Global Vaccine
Action Plan benchmark of reaching 90% national coverage and 80% in
every district. These goals were established in 2012 by WHO member
nations, as well as other organizations, including UNICEF, the Gates
Foundation, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private health
partnership committed to increasing access to immunizations in poor
countries.

Of the 52 countries studied, only Morocco and Rwanda are estimated
to have already met the district-level goal of 80% coverage. In
contrast, on the local level, areas of DPT3 coverage at or below 25%
were found in several countries, including Nigeria, Chad, Ethiopia,
Somalia, and Angola. Moreover, dropout rates exceeding 25% were
identified in portions of Nigeria, Angola, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Liberia,
Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, South Africa, Somalia, and
Ethiopia.

“National estimates can mask subnational pockets of low coverage,
leaving children in at risk for preventable diseases and death,” Mosser
said. “Our study offers insights for nations’ health ministers and other
decision makers to better understand local patterns of vaccine coverage
and to identify where to improve vaccine delivery systems.”

An official with the Gates Foundation underscored the value of the study and its geospatial mapping techniques.

“We know that there are many children not getting the vaccines they
need, but there’s a real lack of detail about where those children are,”
said Violaine Mitchell, director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation. “These maps are a critical step forward in
revealing important detail on where the unvaccinated children are so
that tailored strategies can be developed to reach them and truly
achieve equitable coverage.”

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: Sudan: PResident Al-Bashir Ousted, Detained, Army Seizes Power

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(RFE/RL) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been ousted and arrested following nearly four months of protests against his 30-year rule, the defense minister says.

Speaking on state television on April 11, Awad Ibn Ouf said that Bashir had been detained “in a safe place” and that a military council will oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.

The announcement came as tens of thousands of people marched through the capital, Khartoum, some shouting that the “regime has fallen.”

Reports said that troops had deployed at key sites in the city, and raided Bashir’s Islamic movement, which is linked to the ruling party.

Protests against Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, have been under way since December.

They were originally sparked by price hikes and cash shortages, but they quickly turned into rallies against Bashir’s rule.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for calm in Sudan and expressed hope that “whatever the outcome, Russian-Sudanese relations” will be a priority for Khartoum.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in January that “representatives of Russian private security companies, who have nothing to do with Russian state bodies, are operating” in the African country.

The “task” of the private security firms “is limited to training staff for the military and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Sudan,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

She made the comments after a story in the British press alleged that Russian mercenaries were helping Sudanese authorities crack down on the country’s mass street demonstrations.

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Eurasia Review: Iran: MPs Propose Motion To Ditch US Dollar In Foreign, Domestic Trade

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A number of Iranian lawmakers have put forward a motion to completely remove the US dollar from the transactions made in foreign and domestic trade.

According to the motion, which has been received by the presiding
board of the parliament, any public or private transaction in US dollar
would be prohibited.

The law would be enforceable 60 days after being passed, according to the motion.

“Holders
of the (US) dollar have a deadline to convert their dollars into
commodities and rials or other currencies until the date of the
implementation of this law,” the motion says.

Last April, the Iranian cabinet approved a plan to replace the US dollar with euro in reporting foreign currency amounts.

Foreign
currency values began to rise in Iran after the US withdrew from the
2015 Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and announced plans for a fresh wave
of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

There was growing
demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians, who feared more plunge in
the value of their assets and growing price of goods, even those not
imported from abroad.

But the country soon took measures to arrest the national currency’s downward spiral.

Rial
began to bounce back against US dollar later in the year after the
Central Bank of Iran (CBI) unveiled a new package of regulations on
foreign currency trade which lifted a ban on the activity of money
exchange market

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: Former Obama Lawyer Tied To Manafort Indicted For Ukraine Lobbying Violations

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Former Barack Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig has been indicted for lying to investigators over his lobbying work in Ukraine in partnership with former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Craig became chief White House counsel at the start of President Obama’s first term, but left in 2010 to work as a lobbyist. According to Thursday’s indictment, Craig made false statements to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) unit, regarding lobbying work he did for the Ukrainian government against former PM Yulia Tymoshenko in 2012.

Craig was at one time reportedly investigated by Special Counsel
Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ probe, before his case was passed on to
the Southern District of New York and then prosecutors in Washington.

That leaves open the question why both Mueller and the SDNY opted not to charge Craig, especially considering Mueller went after Manafort for similar lobbying violations – rather than anything connected to the 2016 presidential campaign – while the SDNY charged him with mortgage fraud. Manafort is now serving more than seven years in prison resulting from two trials that came out of the Mueller probe. He has not yet been tried for the offenses alleged by the SDNY.

hrough the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Craig
worked alongside Manafort in lobbying for Ukrainian politicians. The
indictment alleges Craig worked to portray Tymoshenko’s arrest for
corruption as fair and just and then lied about the nature of this work
to avoid registering as an agent of a foreign government, something he
allegedly believed would hamper his career in Washington.

Prior to
his work for Kiev and the Obama White House, Craig served as special
counsel to Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and directed the team defending
Clinton against impeachment.

Mueller wrapped up his two-year, $25.2 million probe last month,
having found no evidence of conspiracy or collusion between Trump and
Russia during the 2016 election, according to the summary released by
Attorney General William Barr.

Eurasia Review


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Eurasia Review: Assange: From Trump Cheers To US Criminal Charges

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By Ken Bredemeier

Less than a month before Donald Trump was elected as the U.S.
president in 2016, he said, “WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks,” as the
anti-secrecy group released another cache of emails hacked by Russian
operatives from the computers of Democratic officials that were damaging
to Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks,” Trump said four days before the election.

But on Thursday, the Justice Department that is part of Trump’s
administration accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of conspiring in
2010 with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to
disclose hundreds of thousands of confidential military records from the
U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and 250,000 secret State Department
cables.

Assange was arrested by British police in London Thursday, and
unceremoniously hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy where he had been
living in asylum for nearly seven years. It was an arrest British
authorities said was at the behest of the United States, which wants to
put him on trial on the computer hacking charge, and possibly other
allegations.

The actions of the 47-year-old Assange, the one-time Australian
hacker using his genius IQ to tap into the databases of high-profile
organizations, have often been met with such conflicting assessments.
Depending on what he has been disclosing over the last decade, he has
been hailed as a champion of truth or vilified as a publicity seeker
endangering lives of people by disclosing confidential information.

Assange started WikiLeaks in 2006, but his first worldwide notoriety
occurred four years later, with the release of the first documents
Manning stole from U.S. government computers, with what U.S. prosecutors
say was Assange’s help to Manning to crack a password and gain access
to the files.

Some of the video footage WikiLeaks released captured the world’s
attention, showing U.S. soldiers killing 18 Iraqi civilians from a
helicopter.

In May 2012, the British Supreme Court ruled he should be extradited
to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, accusations Assange has
long denied and said were the result of consensual sexual relations
with two women.

A month later, he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy, with the Quito government granting him asylum there.

Sweden eventually dropped the assault investigation, but Assange
remained at the embassy, fearing that if he walked out Britain, would
detain and then extradite him to the U.S., which is what the U.S. is now
trying to do. Britain had charged him with failing to surrender to a
court in 2012 and said if he left the embassy, he would be arrested.

Ecuador also grew weary of Assange’s behavior at the diplomatic
mission and his role in the disclosures of more documents, especially
insider files from the Vatican released earlier this year, and granted
British authorities the right to enter its compound on Thursday after he
had spent nearly seven years there.

Plainclothes officers grabbed Assange as he shouted in protest, “UK must resist!” and hustled him into a waiting police van.

In parliament, to a round of cheers, British Prime Minister Theresa May said of Assange’s arrest, “No one is above the law.”

Assange’s lawyers say he will fight extradition to the U.S.

Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, Barry Pollack, criticized the Justice
Department charges, saying they were “an unprecedented effort by the
United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal
charges for publishing truthful information.”

Eurasia Review


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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The News and Times of Puerto Rico: “puerto rico governor” – Google News: Phillies Notes: Club to Host 2026 MLB All-Star Game, Ramos, Valentin – Sports Talk Philly

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Phillies Notes: Club to Host 2026 MLB All-Star Game, Ramos, Valentin  Sports Talk Philly

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor. The Philadelphia Phillies may have been off on Thursday, as they prepare to begin a three-game road set against the …

“puerto rico governor” – Google News

The News and Times of Puerto Rico

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“counterintelligence” – Google News: 4 takeaways from the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – Chicago Tribune

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4 takeaways from the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange  Chicago Tribune

Julian Assange’s arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London opens the next chapter in the saga of the WikiLeaks founder.

“counterintelligence” – Google News


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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The World News and Times: FOX News: Mark Steyn: Assange indictment ‘extremely weak,’ Americans should be disturbed

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Conservative commentator Mark Steyn on Thursday said the indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is “extremely weak” and blasted the intelligence community on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

FOX News

The World News and Times

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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The News and Times of Puerto Rico: “puerto rico” – Google Noticias: Reportan asesinatos en Bayamón y Ponce – Telemundo Puerto Rico

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Reportan asesinatos en Bayamón y Ponce  Telemundo Puerto Rico

Dos hombres fueron acribillados en diferentes municipos en la noche del jueves, informó la Policía. Una de las víctimas murió abatidos a tiros en la carretera …

“puerto rico” – Google Noticias

The News and Times of Puerto Rico

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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The News and Times of Puerto Rico: “puerto rico politics” – Google News: Senators Decry Lack Of Action On Disaster Aid For Suffering States – wgxa.tv

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Senators Decry Lack Of Action On Disaster Aid For Suffering States  wgxa.tv

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) today joined Senate colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch …

“puerto rico politics” – Google News

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Sites from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The World News and Times: FOX News: Ecuador arrests Swedish software developer allegedly tied to WikiLeaks after Assange arrest, official says

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A Swedish software developer with close ties to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested Thursday in connection with a group accused of attempting to blackmail Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, The Associated Press reported.

FOX News

The World News and Times

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“counterintelligence” – Google News: Audit: Pentagon Failed to ‘Assign Responsibilities’ to Protect Defense Infrastructure – Breitbart

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Audit: Pentagon Failed to ‘Assign Responsibilities’ to Protect Defense Infrastructure  Breitbart

No one at the U.S. Department of Defense is providing counterintelligence support to protect against threats to America’s infrastructure.

“counterintelligence” – Google News


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“cia” – Google News: Market Watch – Tracking These Shares: Cia DE Saneamento Basico Do Estado (SBS) – Bay City Observer

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Market Watch – Tracking These Shares: Cia DE Saneamento Basico Do Estado (SBS)  Bay City Observer

Tracking the longer-term indicators on shares of Cia DE Saneamento Basico Do Estado (SBS), we have noted that the 100-day moving average verse price …

“cia” – Google News


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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (82 sites): “Conspiracy Against US” – Google News: Donald Trump, who praised WikiLeaks 141 times, now has ‘no opinion’ on Julian Assange – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News

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Donald Trump, who praised WikiLeaks 141 times, now has ‘no opinion’ on Julian Assange – Donald Trump’s America  ABC News

It is emblematic of the upside-down times we live in that US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly embraced WikiLeaks with giddy joy, may head the …

“Conspiracy Against US” – Google News

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (82 sites)


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Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (82 sites): 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (196 sites): Palmer Report: House Democrats reveal which of Trump’s top officials they’re looking to to arrest first for contempt of Congress

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Earlier this week, as some of Donald Trump’s top officials began brazenly and illegally thumbing their nose at congressional oversight, we pointed out that the next logical step was for House Democrats to begin holding them in contempt of Congress. Now House Democrats are preparing to do precisely that – and they’re naming names in the process.



For instance, this afternoon House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings accused Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore of illegally dodging a subpoena. He also accused Attorney General William Barr of having instructed Gore to dodge the subpoena. Cummings added that if Gore “fails to comply with the subpoena, the Committee will consider him to be in contempt of Congress.” To be clear, being held in contempt of Congress generally means being arrested by the House Sergeant-at-Arms and locked up until the subpoena is complied with. As Committee Chair, Cummings can make this happen – and he has a history of doing what he says he’s going to do.



What stands out here is that Cummings is not only threatening to have Barr’s deputy Gore arrested, he’s directly accusing Barr of being responsible for Gore’s illegal behavior. So why not simply jump straight to arresting Barr? If House Democrats are going to succeed in taking these kinds of drastic steps, they have to do it in a manner that’s more strategic than bombastic. Arresting a high ranking DOJ official would serve to get the message across to those carrying out Trump’s illegal agenda, without handing Trump a talking point about House Democrats overreaching by having the Attorney General arrested. Gore isn’t the only name being thrown around when it comes to contempt of Congress.


Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, is talking about holding Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in contempt of Congress for illegally refusing to turn over Donald Trump’s tax returns. Pascrell isn’t necessarily speaking on behalf of Committee Chairman Richard Neal, who would make the decision on such a matter. For all we know, Neal could be looking at doing something more similar to what Cummings is doing – arresting a top Mnuchin deputy in order to drive a calculated point home. But all of this speaks to just how aggressively House Democrats are looking to come out swinging. Trump and his loyalists clearly aren’t going to back down unless and until they’re figuratively punched in the mouth – and it looks like that’s soon going to happen.



The post House Democrats reveal which of Trump’s top officials they’re looking to to arrest first for contempt of Congress appeared first on Palmer Report.

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1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (196 sites)

Trump Investigations from Michael_Novakhov (82 sites)


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