Daily Archives: February 15, 2013

Vatican: Pope to enjoy immunity from presecution for his role in child rape scandal coverups

Reuters | Feb 15, 2013

By Philip Pullella

Pope_Benedict_XVI-evilVATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict’s decision to live in the Vatican after he resigns will provide him with security and privacy. It will also offer legal protection from any attempt to prosecute him in connection with sexual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.

“His continued presence in the Vatican is necessary, otherwise he might be defenseless. He wouldn’t have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else,” said one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is absolutely necessary” that he stays in the Vatican, said the source, adding that Benedict should have a “dignified existence” in his remaining years.

Vatican sources said officials had three main considerations in deciding that Benedict should live in a convent in the Vatican after he resigns on February 28.

Vatican police, who already know the pope and his habits, will be able to guarantee his privacy and security and not have to entrust it to a foreign police force, which would be necessary if he moved to another country.

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Ireland granted immunity to sex abuse church officials under pressure from Vatican, says WikiLeaks

Pope: Ignore “petty gossip” about child sex abuse

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“I see a big problem if he would go anywhere else. I’m thinking in terms of his personal security, his safety. We don’t have a secret service that can devote huge resources (like they do) to ex-presidents,” the official said.

Another consideration was that if the pope did move permanently to another country, living in seclusion in a monastery in his native Germany, for example, the location might become a place of pilgrimage.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE

This could be complicated for the Church, particularly in the unlikely event that the next pope makes decisions that may displease conservatives, who could then go to Benedict’s place of residence to pay tribute to him.

“That would be very problematic,” another Vatican official said.

The final key consideration is the pope’s potential exposure to legal claims over the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals.

In 2010, for example, Benedict was named as a defendant in a law suit alleging that he failed to take action as a cardinal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades earlier. The lawyers withdrew the case last year and the Vatican said it was a major victory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abusive priests.

Benedict is currently not named specifically in any other case. The Vatican does not expect any more but is not ruling out the possibility.

“(If he lived anywhere else) then we might have those crazies who are filing lawsuits, or some magistrate might arrest him like other (former) heads of state have been for alleged acts while he was head of state,” one source said.

Another official said: “While this was not the main consideration, it certainly is a corollary, a natural result.”

After he resigns, Benedict will no longer be the sovereign monarch of the State of Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, but will retain Vatican citizenship and residency.

LATERAN PACTS

That would continue to provide him immunity under the provisions of the Lateran Pacts while he is in the Vatican and even if he makes jaunts into Italy as a Vatican citizen.

The 1929 Lateran Pacts between Italy and the Holy See, which established Vatican City as a sovereign state, said Vatican City would be “invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory”.

There have been repeated calls for Benedict’s arrest over sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, British author and atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins asked authorities to arrest the pope to face questions over the Church’s child abuse scandal.

Dawkins and the late British-American journalist Christopher Hitchens commissioned lawyers to explore ways of taking legal action against the pope. Their efforts came to nothing because the pope was a head of state and so enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

In 2011, victims of sexual abuse by the clergy asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the pope and three Vatican officials over sexual abuse.

The New York-based rights group Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and another group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), filed a complaint with the ICC alleging that Vatican officials committed crimes against humanity because they tolerated and enabled sex crimes.

The ICC has not taken up the case but has never said why. It generally does not comment on why it does not take up cases.

NOT LIKE A CEO

The Vatican has consistently said that a pope cannot be held accountable for cases of abuse committed by others because priests are employees of individual dioceses around the world and not direct employees of the Vatican. It says the head of the church cannot be compared to the CEO of a company.

Victims groups have said Benedict, particularly in his previous job at the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department, turned a blind eye to the overall policies of local Churches, which moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them and handing them over to authorities.

The Vatican has denied this. The pope has apologized for abuse in the Church, has met with abuse victims on many of his trips, and ordered a major investigation into abuse in Ireland.

But groups representing some of the victims say the Pope will leave office with a stain on his legacy because he was in positions of power in the Vatican for more than three decades, first as a cardinal and then as pope, and should have done more.

The scandals began years before the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in 2005 but the issue has overshadowed his papacy from the beginning, as more and more cases came to light in dioceses across the world.

As recently as last month, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was stripped by his successor of all public and administrative duties after a thousands of pages of files detailing abuse in the 1980s were made public.

Mahony, who was archbishop of Los Angeles from 1985 until 2011, has apologized for “mistakes” he made as archbishop, saying he had not been equipped to deal with the problem of sexual misconduct involving children. The pope was not named in that case.

In 2007, the Los Angeles archdiocese, which serves 4 million Catholics, reached a $660 million civil settlement with more than 500 victims of child molestation, the biggest agreement of its kind in the United States.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope “gave the fight against sexual abuse a new impulse, ensuring that new rules were put in place to prevent future abuse and to listen to victims. That was a great merit of his papacy and for that we will be grateful”.

See Also:  The Pope Benedict Toxic Corruption Data Dump

Secession 2.0: States Seek to Drop Dollar For Own Currency

policymic.com | Feb 13, 2013

by Ernest Ludwick

texasAt least a dozen states have introduced legislation to implement or at least study the concept of creating an emergency currency to serve as a medium of exchange should there be a breakdown of the federal government’s currency or their ability to distribute it to the states. Could this work? Some examples:

— Texas, which receives 1/3 of state revenue from the federal government and has many dependent retirees, is considering a “Self Sufficiency Act” to keep goods and services flowing.

— Virginia is authorizing a commission to study the use of gold and silver currency.

— Utah has already authorized the use of gold and silver money.

— Wyoming is considering an alternative currency in the event the US dollar becomes useless.

— Other states have included in their disaster preparedness plans various forms of replacements for federal money in the event of a political or economic meltdown.

There are serious legal and/or constitutional issues involved in making one’s own money. The Constitution originally only authorized states to create gold and silver coins as money (maybe because the Revolution was financed with what became worthless, un-backed, paper “continentals”). Article I, Section 10, says, “No State shall … emit Bills of Credit ….” (paper intended to circulate as money but not redeemable in gold and silver). Another part of the same Article reads, “No State shall … make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts …” We soon began to print gold-backed dollars to augment our gold and silver coins. Legal tender laws later allowed unredeemable paper to circulate as money. The first dollar notes were printed in 1792 but by 1862 we switched to fiat dollars to finance the Civil War. Since then, the U.S. has returned to gold-based money several times only to abandon it in favor of paper notes during every major war.

Before standardized bank note “dollars,” there were many privately issued kinds of paper money. Lightweight, portable, standardized U.S. dollars came to predominate despite resistance. Madison and the other framers of the Constitution were deeply concerned not with states’ independent currencies but with the threat of un-backed notes that they had seen used to enrich despots and ravage economies elsewhere.

The un-backed paper push was led by commodities brokers in the 1800s that saw that their markets would give the appearance of constantly rising as long as more dollars were being created. Things haven’t changed much — today’s securities brokers enjoy the same benefit of apparent prosperity in our stock markets due to the huge influx of “funny money.”

The unfortunate dependency on ever increasing rates of return in our pensions, investment portfolios, and in credit-financed government handouts has made our thirst for more and more inflation insatiable. As the ruler elite came to realize, this could not be sustained forever. But instead of acting to stem the flood of red ink, our Congress and several presidencies took the cowardly way out and sacked the Treasury to buy favor and enrich their cronies. Executive Order 6102, enacted during the Depression, aimed to limit private gold ownership to prevent hoarding. It has since been abused by the most notorious limiter of metal as money, Richard Nixon, who enacted the latest decoupling of dollars from gold in order to finance war and curb the drain of gold from the U.S. by speculators.

Inflation becomes real against the fixed measuring stick of bullion. Unlike the times when coins were part of everyday commerce a modern 2.3 gram dime made of gold would today have a value of $150. Easy to buy a cart of groceries but you’d need a coin the size of a pinhead if you wanted to just grab a gallon of milk.

At today’s price the U.S. owns about 2 cents of gold for every dollar in circulation. This, some states feel, leaves us very vulnerable to a precipitous drop in the value of our paper money. Ignoring abstract currency reserve considerations and other assets contributing to U.S.’ solvency this implies no real-world floor of support for the dollar until it reaches a devaluation of 1/50 its current buying power ($100 for a loaf of bread).

So in the event of a global loss of faith in dollars, a back-up system makes sense. But with all of these limits on state and private issuance of money, how are they getting away with these emergency acts? Most of the state measures set up “studies” or “commissions” or “emergency plans,” so no unlawful issuance of money will actually take place until the emergency kicks in.

Utah’s law limits the use of gold and silver as currency to federally minted coins but importantly they can be exchanged at their intrinsic value rather than their face value.  They plan to follow up with a law allowing foreign coins to be treated similarly, possibly paving the way for acceptance of coins minted by other states?

As Ron Paul famously pointed out in the 2012 debates, you could buy a gallon of gas for one silver dime ($4.00 then, now worth $5.00 apiece at bullion price). In Britain, pound coins are used for many larger purchases. It’s not that impractical to trade in metal money especially when the paper alternative offers no way to know from day to determine its worth. My Argentine friends tell stories of how shopkeepers would add zeros to the numbers on the money with felt tip pens to keep up with government proclamations.

The threat of severe inflation or hyperinflation is real and in the opinion of many prestigious economists inevitable. If a state’s seismologist gave a warning of a 50%-60% likelihood of an imminent earthquake or tsunami the state would be remiss (and liable) if they failed to create emergency preparations. It appears that the Constitution trumps some of the later Tender Acts.

As a practical matter, the preparation of a money system based on scrip, coin, vouchers, or even a state currency has many precedents. The “state currencies movement” is not a form of protest like the secession movements that popped up following the recent election. It is a wise protection of the states’ citizenry against having their economy reduced to a Stone Age barter system if the federal system fails.

New draconian police powers curb Press freedoms; Officers allowed to confiscate material from journalists, extract information

Sweeping measures allow officers to demand information from sources

Changes may also see journalists forced to reveal whistleblowers’ identities

Worries over the affect new rules will have on freedom of speech

Straitjacket: There are fears the rules will curtail reporters’ freedom to expose corruption and other wrongdoing, such as the expenses scandal

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 14, 2013

By Jack Doyle

Police are set to be given powers to confiscate confidential material from reporters, sparking fears over press freedom in the UK. File picture

Police are set to be given powers to confiscate confidential material from reporters, sparking fears over press freedom in the UK. File picture

Police are set to be given new powers to seize confidential material from journalists.

In a worrying blow to Press freedom, the changes may also mean journalists will be forced to identify whistleblowers to the police.

Critics said the Home Office proposals, which follow recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, would undermine investigative journalism and free speech.

It is feared that the changes will remove legal protections for anyone who releases material to reporters unless journalists can show their source did not breach confidentiality or act illegally.

The computer disc that contained the details of how MPs had been rampantly fiddling their expenses was technically stolen by a Westminster employee.

Padraig Reidy, of Index on Censorship, said: ‘These measures, if implemented, could have a real effect on journalism, free speech and the entire climate of  freedom in the UK.

‘They grievously undermine the concept of confidentiality between reporters and sources that is essential for investigative journalism.’

Currently, journalists have protection under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) from disclosing material to the police, even if  it had been obtained by a source  acting in breach of confidence or unlawfully.

But during the Leveson inquiry, the police argued those protections should be removed, and the judge agreed.

It raises the prospect that someone who uncovers wrongdoing will not come forward if they risk being named to the police.

In a further attack on PACE, Lord Leveson suggested it could be made easier for the police to seize items belonging to journalists which may be linked to criminality.

Currently a judge can approve  an order forcing media groups to hand over information but, crucially, detectives must first show they  have tried to get the material by other means.

In its response to the Leveson inquiry published on Wednesday, the Home Office accepted his recommendations on reforms to the Act.

But legal experts have warned the changes could undermine long-standing protections from the state.

Gavin Millar QC, an expert in  media law, told the Guardian: ‘These amendments would make it much easier for the police to get orders requiring production of journalistic material. The police would not even have to try to get the evidence in other ways.

‘Journalists will only be able to claim confidentiality by testifying that the source was free to give them the material.

‘This will be impossible for most public interest disclosures by whistleblowers.’

Lord Justice Leveson warned the protections under PACE may have been abused to resist investigators during the phone hacking inquiry.

He called for journalists to respect the Act and not abuse it by ‘invoking it to cover up that which cannot  be justified’.

Yesterday a 51-year-old police officer was arrested by Scotland Yard for allegedly leaking information to a newspaper, even though no money is thought to have changed hands.

The unnamed officer was arrested at 6am at his Wiltshire home on suspicion of misconduct in public office by officers from Operation Elveden.

His is the 107th arrest in connection with the multimillion-pound inquiries into phone and computer hacking and illegal payments to  public officials.

Parents horrified after learning primary schoolchildren aged just 10 are playing ‘the raping game’

school
Shock: Pupils have been banned from playing ‘the raping game’ – a playground activity that Stanford Junior School in Brighton (pictured) has stepped in to stop

One game called Rapelay sees the main character try to rape a mother and two daughters.

‘As soon as we found out this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

Daily Mail | Feb 15, 2013

Primary school children have been banned from playing a new break time game they called ‘the raping game’.

The playground activity had been named after a violent video game which depicts violent sexual assaults on a mother and two daughters.

More than a dozen boys, some as young as nine, were caught playing the ‘the raping game’ at Stanford Junior School in Brighton, East Sussex.

The school confirmed it had been taking place and headteacher Gina Hutchins said she had spoken to children about the vile name. It has now been called ‘the survival game’ following the head’s intervention.

Mrs Hutchins said: ‘As soon as we found out that this inappropriate word was being used, we spoke to the children concerned and they now no longer use it.’

The game has been played mainly by boys in Year 5 at the school for the past two to three weeks.

It involves one person being ‘on’ who has to catch others until only one is left uncaught and that person is the winner.

About 13 boys, aged nine and ten, played the game in the school playground but have since changed the title.

One concerned parent said: ‘I was horrified that my son had learnt that word.

‘He is only nine. Thankfully he did not know what it meant but it was that horrible thought he might use it elsewhere.

‘Most people assume children learn these words at home.’

The parent added she did not blame the school saying it is almost impossible to stop children bringing words into the playground.

They commended the headteacher for her swift actions in taking decisive action and stamping out the use of the word.

It is unsure what video game led to the naming of the game, but several on the market contain scenes of rape.

One game called Rapelay sees the main character try to rape a mother and two daughters.

Silvio Berlusconi says bribes are a ‘necessary part of business’ and tells critics to ‘stop moralising’

berlusconi
No crime: Silvio Berlusconi, pictured during a political rally in Rome last week, defended the use of bribes in international negotiations saying they are ‘necessary’ when dealing with third world countries and regimes

Berlusconi defending bribes saying they are not criminal but ‘necessary’

The 76-year-old politician called critics ‘absurd’ and ‘masochist’
    
He said without bribes ‘you cannot be an entrepreneur on a global scale’

dailymail.co.uk | Feb 15, 2013

By Sara Malm

Silvio Berlusconi has defended the use of bribes in business saying they are necessary when securing international deals for Italian companies.

The former Italian Prime minister said illegal payments are vital when negotiating with ‘third world countries and regimes’.

Mr Berlusconi made the comments as a response to recent corruption scandals within several state-controlled conglomerates in Italy.

Mr Berlusconi, spoke against the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica defence group, who was taken into custody yesterday accused of paying Indian government officials to secure a helicopter contract.

The 76-year-old politician, who is running for his fourth term as Prime Minister in the country’s elections this month, said bribes are essential in international business, the Financial Times report.

Silvio Berlusconi compares himself to Benito Mussolini

Silvio Berlusconi praises dictator Mussolini for ‘having done good’

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‘Bribes are a phenomenon that exists and it is useless to deny the existence of these necessary situations when you are negotiating with third world countries and regimes,’ Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with Italian State broadcaster, RAI 3.

‘These are not crimes. We are talking about paying a commission to someone in that country. Why? Because those are the rules in that country.’

The centre-right leader also defended state-controlled energy group Eni, which is alleged to have used bribes to win contracts in Algeria.

Mr Berlusconi even went as far as to suggest that putting a stop to bribery has left Italian companies out of business.

‘No one will negotiate with Eni or Enel or Finmeccanica anymore,’ he said.

‘It’s pure masochism.’

Mr Berlusconi called those who condemn financial incentives in deals outside Western democracies ‘absurd’.

‘If you want to make moralisms like that, you can’t be an entrepreneur on a global scale.’

His comments comes one year after his own bribery case was thrown out of court.

Mr Berlusconi stood accused of handing British lawyer David Mills £380,000 to lie during two 1990s trials to shield Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges related to the billionaire media mogul’s business dealings.

The Italian general elections will take place 24-25th February where Mr Berlusconi is yet again heading the People of Liberty party and hoping for a centre-right coalition.

His comments were unsurprisingly slammed by opposition politicians, who pointed out that Mr Berlusconi himself is appealing against his October tax fraud conviction while running for Prime Minister.

Just last month an Italian court granted his defense team’s request to postpone a trial for alleged wire tapping until after the elections.

Prosecutors have asked for a one-year jail sentence for Mr Berlusconi for his alleged role in the publication of wiretap transcripts in a newspaper owned by his media empire and three years for his brother Paolo, the publisher of Milan newspaper Il Giornale.

Mr Berlusconi denies all charges.

See also: The Berlusconi Toxic Corruption Data Storage Dump