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Phuket Gazette World News: Britain’s National Secular Society highlights clerical sex abuse cases

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

U.N. body says U.S. lax on clerical sex abuse cases
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A U.N. committee has accused U.S. legal authorities of failing to fully pursue cases of child sex abuse in religious groups, an issue especially troubling the Roman Catholic Church.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child wrote this month that it was “deeply concerned” to find widespread sexual abuse by clerics and staff of religious institutions and “a lack of measures … to properly investigate cases and prosecute them”.

Britain’s National Secular Society, which drew attention to the little-noticed report yesterday, said it hoped the Catholic pope to be elected next month would open Church files to help prosecute as yet undiscovered cases of clerical sexual abuse.

The scandal of predator priests has haunted the pontificate of Pope Benedict, who will resign on Feb 28. The pope has apologised for the abuse and met victims in several countries, but cases and damning internal files are still coming to light.

After years of legal battles, the Los Angeles archdiocese bowed to a court order last month and released 12,000 pages of files showing its former head, Cardinal Roger Mahony, had sent accused abusers out of state to avoid justice in the 1980s.

“The committee is deeply concerned at information of sexual abuse committed by clerics and leading members of certain faith-based organisations and religious institutions on a massive and long-term scale,” said the report, which gave no details.

It said it also found a “lack of measures taken by [U.S. legal authorities] to properly investigate cases and prosecute those accused” and urged them to order law enforcement officials to step up efforts to uncover and bring charges against abusers.

New pope
The National Secular Society, which campaigns at the United Nations against privileges for religious groups, accused Benedict of hushing up abuse cases and obstructing justice.

“We can only hope that his successor opens the secret files and treats victims with the respect they deserve,” its executive director Keith Porteous Ward said in a statement.

The abuse crisis is expected to be among issues cardinals discuss before they enter the Sistine Chapel in mid-March to elect a new pope, but the secrecy of their consultations means it is not clear how much of a role it will play in their choice.

The committee, which drew its conclusions after a routine review of U.S. compliance with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted its report in Geneva on Feb 1.

The Church and its insurance companies in the United States have already paid more than $2 billion (1.2 billion pounds) in damages to victims. Clerics from other faiths have also been accused or convicted of sexual abuse of children, but on a lesser scale than Catholics.

Catholic dioceses with known abuser priests have staff files on them and correspondence with the Vatican about some of them. These are confidential but courts and government inquiries in several countries have forced some of them to be opened.

Sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church began coming to light in the 1980s and became a major crisis in 2002, when U.S. media began reporting systematic cover-ups for abusive priests.

Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have grappled with similar scandals after official or Church-led reports exposed abuse in schools and church organisations.

Awkward questions
The Church, in many countries, has set up new guidelines to deal with past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood.

But campaigners say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible.

“Hundreds if not thousands of clerics have wrongly escaped incarceration due to the continuing secrecy of the Church and the issue being almost ignored by law enforcers,” Porteous Wood said. “Prosecuting authorities have some very awkward questions to answer, and not just in the U.S.”

Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after scandals were exposed there but was named to a prestigious Church post in Rome. Mahony, who had already retired as Los Angeles archbishop, was stripped of his public ministry when files were opened there.

Victims’ groups have tried to establish a legal link between abuse cases in countries such as the United States and Germany and the Vatican, which in some cases appeared more concerned about protecting the Church’s image than helping the victims.

Before his election in 2005, Benedict headed the Vatican’s doctrinal office and took over handling of sexual abuse cases in 2001. Supporters say Vatican infighting kept him from responding decisively but he took a tougher stand once he was pope.

Critics say he failed to take effective action. “He publicly spoke about the crisis more than his predecessor but that alone is no achievement,” SNAP, an abuse victims’ advocacy group, said after he announced his resignation on Feb 11.

In 2010, Benedict was named as a defendant in a U.S. 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 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 in their dioceses.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

From plandemics to sheeple – unravelling the Covid conspiracy-speak

The Thaiger

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From plandemics to sheeple – unravelling the Covid conspiracy-speak | The Thaiger

Whilst most of us have either been holed up in local lockdowns or forgetting our face mask when we head to 7-11 for a snack, some have used their spare time to create an elaborate alternate universe of plandemics, sheeple and evil 5G, and finding ways to paint Bill Gates as the devil in human form.

A Pew Research Centre survey asked people in the US if they had heard the theory that Covid-19 was “intentionally planned” by people in power. 71% of US adults said they had. A third of the respondents said it was “definitely” or “probably” true.

As the pandemic has become a reality, so has the infodemic. Whilst the scientists have been at war with a virus and the development of a vaccine, news and social media platforms have been in a battle of facts. Normally intelligent people are denouncing the wearing of masks, refuse to consider getting vaccinated and believe 5G networks ‘infect’ people with Covid-19. Elaborate videos have been produced, at great expense, full of unsubstantiated nonsense, alternate statistics, claims that the coronavirus is “just a flu” and that the impact of the virus has been vastly exaggerated.

There’s also a whole new language where terms of derision are used to replace facts and reasoned argument. Almost all of the conspiracy theories, and the people promoting them, come out of the US, a topic for another article.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy some of the new words and the hijacking of other terms and people.

Plandemic

aka. ‘Scamdemic’.

Plandemic refers to two conspiracy theory documentaries produced this year by Mikki Willis. Until May, Mikki Willis was best known for posting ‘nice’ viral videos of his family online. The first was hugely popular, the second sunk without a trace.

The much-viewed first documentary has since been thoroughly debunked. They both feature Judy Mikovits, a discredited scientist who is worshipped in the anti-vaccine movement, despite her denials. In the documentary she maintains that a malevolent global “elite” (even ‘elite’ has taken on a whole new meaning) caused the pandemic in order to seize power, money and control the wider population – sort of a conference of Bond villains.

Among her other claims, face masks can activate the virus. In all, she rambles on for 26 minutes with a convoluted web of intrigue, all completely dismantled by just about every scientist and medical practitioner. Unfortunately the documentaries came at a time when the US was in the midst of its first quasi-lockdown and clocked up a credible 7 million views on YouTube before it was removed. You can still see it if you really want to in a few dark corners of the internet.

In her book, ‘Plague of Corruption’, Mikovits compares herself to Galileo and Martin Luther King jnr.

5G

Once a term referring to the fifth generation of mobile technology, the worldwide role out 5G somehow got wound into any number of conspiracy theories involving Covid-19 and the plandemic, sorry pandemic. Whilst most of us eagerly looked forward to the introduction of 2G,3G and 4G, 5G came along at the same time as Covid-19. So OF COURSE they have something to do with each other.

No longer just a technology, 5G is now front and centre of any self respecting conspiracy theorist. Exposure to 5G antennas would give you Covid-19, apparently “altering your cells” in a way that was never quite explained, and WHAMMO, you had the coronavirus. That Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications giant, was behind some of the leading 5G technology, just added fuel to the story – they are a Chinese company so they MUST be spreading evil… and Covid-19.

Sheeple

If you’ve had the wool pulled over your eyes regarding the “truth” of Covid-19, or are easily led astray, you’re one of the Sheeple (alternate spelling – ‘sheople’).

Unless you’re wallowing in your own self-righteous, unprovable alternate reality, YOU are sheeple, or, presumably, a sheep-person. Unless you’re one of the few who has the clarity of vision and intellect to understand the “truth”, you are labelled a sheeple. Luckily, for the rest of us, they also have the time and commitment to bring us up to speed with their facts, and can usually reel them off at pace. And then repeat them over and over to MAKE SURE the sheeple understand.

YOU sheeple just follow the main stream media (which is any media that reports news they don’t like)… you are just part of the uninformed flock.

So if you just believe stuff because other people keep saying it, you’re a ‘sheeple’. Oh…

Bill Gates

Just throw his name into any Covid-19 conversation and stand back.

Wikipedia lists Bill Gates as ‘William Henry Gates III’, an American business magnate, software developer, and philanthropist. He is best known as the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. Our generation has seen the young geek, sometimes competitor and sometimes collaborator with Apple’s Steve Jobs, grow into the cardigan-wearing philanthropist who, along with his wife, have formed one of the largest private foundations in the world.

They get their foundation involved in all sorts of public health projects but, according to conspiracy theorists, are spreading evil around the world.

Now Bill Gates, earlier seen as a geek-version of Mr Rogers, is now the voodoo doll for Covid-19.

Back in 2015, an unassuming-looking Bill Gates came on stage at a TED conference in Vancouver to issue a dire warning.
“If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it is likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than war.”So, he knew all about it! Aha!Now Bill Gates is leading a class of global “elites” and leading efforts to depopulate the world, apparently. His ‘vaccine’ has some tracking device that will be able to track us once we’ve been vaccinated. All this is a surprise to Bill Gates.”I’m very surprised by the course of these conspiracy theories and of course the ones involving me are completely incorrect. I hadn’t been a part of conspiracy theories up until this and it’s ironic because I talked about the risk of a pandemic in 2015.”But he WOULD say that, wouldn’t he!”It is novel that you have a pandemic and you have social media, and somehow the true messages aren’t as titillating or as exciting as the conspiracy-type message.”

Follow the breadcrumbs

Originally used as a means of navigation in the Grimm’s penned “Hansel and Gretel’ tale, where the children drop breadcrumbs along the way into the forest so they can then find their way back home, the breadcrumbs are now tidbits of knowledge you must follow to learn the truth – that is the truth according to American conspiracy theorists QAnon. Summarising, QAnon claim that US President Donald Trump has been spearheading a secret war, between golf games, against “well known” Satan-worshippers and paedophiles – the President elect Joe Biden being one of them according to QAnon.

It all comes from the month of an unknown “Q” who posts the stories on encrypted message services and then shared around social media. Not to be confused with Q from James Bond who was responsible for ejector seats in Aston Martins, poison pens and guns fitted to license plates.

These messages from Q – “drops” or “crumbs”explain facts about a “cabal” within the “elite”, or the secret war , referred to as the “cbts”, or “calm before the storm”. The series of “breadcrumbs are then shared and spread online by people that have the time to understand facts from an unknown person sprouting outrageous nonsense.

It would be laughable except that the QAnon theories (a poor use of the word ‘theories’) have been circulated in the White House by a number of staffers that subscribe to the trail of breadcrumbs, dragging other down the Q-inspired rabbit hole.

Elites

1. a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.

Not any more. Once the so-called elite drove around, or were driven around, in their black Mercedes Benz, shopped at those stores on the first floors of fancy shopping centres and puffed cigars whilst counting their millions. Now the “Elite” are a secret society of people who are complicit in planning and carrying out the biggest hoax in history – the Covid-19 pandemic.

The “elite” have conspired with governments to keep us sheeple in compliant control. Most governments find it difficult to role out stimulus payments and pick up the rubbish on time, let alone conspire to do anything in a secret, controlled manner. Any self-respecting elite usually does everything they can NOT to be involved in governments, anywhere.

The Great Reset

Not what we do to our computers after tearing our hair out for an hour. This baseless conspiracy theory, known as the ‘Great Reset’, claims a group of world leaders “orchestrated” and planned the pandemic to take control of the global economy.

The conspiracy theory has its origins in a genuine plan entitled ‘The Great Reset’, drawn up by the World Economic Forum – now used as somewhat thin ‘evidence’ that The Great Reset is true. The WEF is an annual conference for high-profile figures from politics and business. The plan explores how countries might recover from the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic but has never mentioned any control or broader policy covering world populations.

The recovery plan has now been interpreted as a sinister plan, first by fringes of the conspiracy theory networks and then taken up by conservative commentators and then shared around social media.

Do you have any other favourite theories that keep popping up, or new words to add to the list? Tell us below…

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World

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60

Caitlin Ashworth

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Argentine football legend Diego Maradona dies at age 60 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: FIFA

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona died yesterday at 60 years old. Maradona, known as one of the greatest football players of all time, suffered from a heart attack.

Maradona scored the famous “Hand of God” goal and the “Goal of the Century” in the World Cup 1986 quarter-finals, defeating England 2-1. Maradona, then captain, was known for inspiring to win the World Cup in 1986. He represented Argentina in 4 World Cups, scoring 34 goals in 91 appearances.

President of Argentina Alberto Fernandez declared 3 days of national mourning following Maradona’s death.

“You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of them all… Thank you for having existed, Diego. We’re going to miss you all our lives.”

Many in the football community across the world posted photos and statements on social media following Maradona’s death. The Argentina national football team posted a photo on Twitter of Maradona holding the World Cup and said “You are eternal in every heart in world football.”

Argentine football player Lionel Messi posted a photo of himself and Maradona on Instagram.

“A very sad day for all Argentines and football… He leaves us, but does not leave, because Diego is eternal… I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I send my condolences to all his family and friends.”

Former football player Gary Lineker, who scored a goal for England in the World Cup 1986 quarter-finals game against Argentina, said Maradona is the greatest player of all time.

“By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time… After a blessed, but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God.”

SOURCES: BBC | AFP

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Thailand

BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women

Maya Taylor

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BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The BBC has named prominent Thai pro-democracy activist, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2020. The BBC’s “100 Women of 2020” list singles out women around the world who are driving change in challenging times. Panusaya is one of 3 Thai women to be listed.

As the leader of protest group, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, she came to international attention at a Bangkok rally in August, when she read out the group’s controversial 10 point manifesto calling for reform of the Monarchy – a taboo topic never publicly discussed. Her nomination follows the news that a Grammy Music executive has filed a charge of lèse-majesté against her.

The other 2 Thai women to make the list are Kotchakorn Voraakhom and Cindy Sirinya Bishop. Kotchakorn is an urban landscape architect, who promotes the importance of green and public spaces in urban environments. Her aim is to transform vast, sprawling cities into more liveable spaces, while protecting them from the impact of climate change. The BBC describes her as someone who started by prising apart the “cracked pavement” of Bangkok’s cityscape to let new ideas come through.

BBC names Thai protest leader Panusaya in global list of 100 most inspiring women | News by The Thaiger

Cindy Sirinya Bishop is the UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Gender Equality through Education, Communities and Governments. She is a TV host, actress, and model, known for her campaigns to end violence against women. She came to prominence in 2018, when she created the movement #DontTellMeHowToDress. The campaign was a response to authorities in Thailand telling women they shouldn’t dress provocatively during the Songkran period if they wanted to avoid being sexually assaulted.

Other women shortlisted by the BBC for the 2020 list include Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the research into the Covid-19 vaccine at Oxford University, Sanna Marin, the leader of Finland’s all-female coalition government, and Michelle Yeoh, a Malaysian actress, who the BBC notes is one of very few Asian actresses to enjoy a successful career in the US.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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