“Priests & Politicians – the Mafia of The Soul”

“Priests & Politicians – the Mafia of The Soul”
47 min read

“These politicians and these priests have been constantly in conspiracy, working together hand in hand. The politician has the political power; the priest has the religious power. The politician protects the priest, the priest blesses the politician – and the masses are exploited, sucked; their blood is sucked by both.”1 Osho

See also:

Democracy – The Primary Fatal Flaw
Democracy – Towards a Democratic Meritocracy
Mother Teresa: Deceiver, Charlatan, and Hypocrite
Time to Move Over, Old Man
A Complete Democracy Is Impossible without Economic Equality – Osho

The Unfolding Story – Updated Regularly:

April 17, 2021
Yoga can leave you injured, psychotic and a Hindu, Christian groups claim
“The National Center for Law & Policy, an organization of Christian lawyers who take on legal cases backing anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage and other causes that they call ‘civil liberties,’ has produced a factsheet claiming to prove that yoga cannot be separated from its religious roots in Hinduism.” – The Guardian

April 14, 2021
‘Super-spreader’: Over 1,000 COVID positive at India’s Kumbh Mela
“More than 1,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the site of a major Hindu festival in India in two days, officials said, as huge crowds of mostly maskless devotees descend on the Ganges River in the northern Uttarakhand state. “Our faith is the biggest thing for us. It is because of that strong belief that so many people have come here to take a dip in Ganga,” Siddharth Chakrapani, a member of one of the Kumbh Mela organising committees, told AFP news agency. “They believe that Maa (mother) Ganga will save them from this pandemic.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, however, has refused to call off the festival that is scheduled to last the whole month, possibly fearing a backlash from religious leaders in the Hindu-majority country.” – Aljazeera

April 12, 2021
The World’s Wealthiest Countries Are Getting Vaccinated 25 Times Faster
“Economies with the highest incomes have 40% of the world’s vaccinations, but just 11% of the global population. The U.S., for example, has 24% of the world’s vaccinations but just 4.3% of the population, while Pakistan has 0.1% of the vaccine coverage for 2.7% of the global population. The pattern is repeated across the globe and follows efforts by wealthy countries to pre-purchase billions of doses of vaccines, enough to cover their populations several times over, according to a separate analysis of vaccine deals. The world’s least wealthy continent, Africa, is also the least vaccinated. Of its 54 countries, only three have have inoculated more than 1% of their populations.” – Bloomberg

April 11, 2021
Downing Street rewrote ‘independent’ report on race, experts claim
“Officials at Downing Street have been accused of rewriting much of its controversial report into racial and ethnic disparities, despite appointing an independent commission to conduct an honest investigation into inequality in the UK. The Observer has been told that significant sections of the report published on 31 March, which were criticised and debunked by health professionals, academics, business chiefs and crime experts, were not written by the 12 commissioners who were appointed last July. The 258-page document was not made available to be read in full or signed off by the group.” – The Guardian

April 9, 2021
Trump officials celebrated efforts to change CDC reports on coronavirus, emails show
“Political appointees also tried to blunt scientific findings they deemed unfavorable to Trump, according to new documents from House probe…. Even as career government scientists worked to combat the virus, a cadre of Trump appointees was attempting to blunt the scientists’ messages, edit their findings and equip the president with an alternate set of talking points.” – The Washington Post

April 9, 2021,
Extent of mental health crisis in England at ‘terrifying’ level
“England is “in the grip of a mental health crisis” because of the Covid pandemic, with under-18s suffering the most, psychiatrists are to warn on Friday. Record numbers of children and adults sought NHS help last year for problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders, or because they ended up in a mental health crisis. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has highlighted the sharp rise in mental ill health, that began after the first lockdown in March 2020, in an analysis of NHS and Office for National Statistics data. The college said NHS services were struggling to cope with the demand. Adrian James, the college’s president, said: “The extent of the mental health crisis is terrifying, but it will likely get a lot worse before it gets better. Services are at a very real risk of being overrun by the sheer volume of people needing help.” – The Guardian

April 8, 2021
Intelligence forecast sees a post-coronavirus world upended by climate change and splintering societies
“U.S. intelligence officials have little comfort to offer a pandemic-weary planet about where the world is heading in the next 20 years. Short answer: It looks pretty bleak. On Thursday, the National Intelligence Council, a center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that creates strategic forecasts and estimates, often based on material gathered by U.S. spy agencies, released its quadrennial ‘Global Trends’ report. Looking over the time horizon, it finds a world unsettled by the coronavirus pandemic, the ravages of climate change — which will propel mass migration — and a widening gap between what people demand from their leaders and what they can actually deliver…. At the same time, the pandemic accelerated and exacerbated social and economic fissures that had already emerged. And it underscored the risks from ‘more and cascading global challenges, ranging from disease to climate change to the disruptions from new technologies and financial crises,’ the authors write…. The authors write of a ‘looming disequilibrium between existing and future challenges and the ability of institutions and systems to respond.’ Within societies, fragmentation is increasing — political, cultural, economic — and ‘large segments of the global population are becoming wary of institutions and governments that they see as unwilling or unable to address their needs,’ the report says.” – The Washington Post

April 5, 2021,
‘Allergic reaction to US religious right’ fueling decline of religion, experts say
“Fewer than half of Americans belong to a house of worship, a new study shows, but religion – and Christianity in particular – continues to have an outsize influence in US politics. Just 47% of the US population are members of a church, mosque or synagogue, according to a survey by Gallup, down from 70% two decades ago – in part a result of millennials turning away from religion but also, experts say, a reaction to the swirling mix of rightwing politics and Christianity pursued by the Republican party.” – The Guardian

March 31, 2021
Opinion: Which world leader has the worst pandemic record? The competition is fierce.
“That was essentially confirmed by Deborah Birx, President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force coordinator, who told CNN that most deaths in the United States could have been prevented. And yet — cold comfort — Trump might not have been the worst leader of the pandemic. Others arguably botched the crisis even worse than Trump did, and the list tells you a lot about the state of global governance…. It is sometimes hard to suppress a chuckle when watching the antics of these buffoons. Yet the sense of absurdity is quickly stifled by the realization that their actions have likely contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the world — perhaps more.” – The Washington Post

March 29, 2021
US sinks to new low in rankings of world’s democracies
“The US has slipped 11 points in a decade – below Argentina and Mongolia – according the latest report by a democracy watchdog. Extreme partisan gerrymandering – the manipulation of electoral district lines to boost one party over the other – has contributed to dramatic polarization in the US, threatening its democratic foundations. Gerrymandering, the report says, “has the most corrosive and radicalizing effect on US politics.”” – The Guardian

March 26, 2021
The Historians Under Attack for Exploring Poland’s Role in the Holocaust
“To exonerate the nation of the murders of three million Jews, the Polish government will go as far as to prosecute scholars for defamation. …In 2016, Polish authorities charged the Polish-American historian Jan Tomasz Gross, author of the groundbreaking book “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland,” with insulting the Polish people, for his observation that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during the Second World War. …half of the European Jews murdered in the Holocaust were killed in what had been Poland before the war; a Jew in Poland had a 1.5-per-cent chance of survival. Gross’s book “Neighbors” documents the murder of sixteen hundred Jews by their Polish neighbors: the killing of one half of a village by the other. Grabowski’s research has burrowed deeper into the role of Polish collaborators. In his 2011 book, “Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland,” he looked at the fate of Jews who had escaped ghettos or death camps, becoming, as he put it in conversation with me, “invisible” to the Germans. Yet most of these Jews died because Polish gentiles helped the Germans to find them.” – The New Yorker

March 24, 2021
How Taiwan triumphed over Covid as UK faltered
“Both are islands ruled by democratic government, their large populations – more than 22 million people live in Taiwan – mostly crowded into cities, with public health systems that mean medical care is widely accessible. At the end of 2019, both were heavily exposed to travellers carrying coronavirus…. A little over a year later, Britain has one of the world’s worst death rates, with more than 130,000 people lost to the virus and more than 4 million people infected. Taiwan has lost 10 people, and had just 1,000 documented cases, the vast majority of them among quarantined travellers. The root of the difference lies in the approach their governments took.” – The Guardian

March 23, 2021
Top Saudi official issued death threat against UN’s Khashoggi investigator
“Senior official twice threatened to have Agnès Callamard ‘taken care of’ in meeting with UN colleagues in Geneva in January 2020…. Callamard’s 100-page report, published in June 2019, concluded that there was ‘credible evidence’ that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and other senior Saudi officials were liable for the killing, and called the murder an ‘international crime.'” – The Guardian

The Vatican’s Giant Step Backward on Same-Sex Unions
“Can the Catholic Church bless same-sex unions? The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a brief “responsum” to the question with a single word: “Negative.” But there was an “explanatory note,” which said that blessings are “sacred signs that resemble the sacraments,” such as marriage, which, in God’s plan, found “inscribed in creation,” is between a man and a woman. Because same-sex unions cannot, therefore, be marriages, to bless them would be to give sacramental recognition to sexual relationships outside of marriage, which the Church, technically, regards as a sin in all cases. Therefore, because God “does not and cannot bless sin,” the Church cannot bless same-sex unions—and even the “positive elements” in same-sex unions cannot “justify these relationships.”” – The New Yorker

Bolsonaro uses Brazil’s dictatorship-era law as protesters depict him as a Nazi
“The national security law, which dates from 1983, near the end of the country’s military dictatorship, states it is a crime to harm the heads of the three branches of government or expose them to danger. That vague definition has recently been used to detain or investigate Bolsonaro critics…. There have been previous news-making charges against prominent critics of the president, including a newspaper columnist, a political cartoonist and a popular YouTube star, but the law is increasingly being employed against ordinary citizens.” – The Guardian

Canadian Conservative party votes not to recognize climate crisis as real
“Delegates vote 54%-46% against policy change request…. Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer and one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita basis.” – The Guardian

The Victims of Agent Orange the U.S. Has Never Acknowledged
“America has never taken responsibility for spraying the herbicide over Laos during the Vietnam War. But generations of ethnic minorities have endured the consequences…. Agent Orange… is notorious for being laced with a chemical contaminant called 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-dioxin, or TCDD, regarded as one of the most toxic substances ever created…. The use of the herbicide in the neutral nation of Laos by the United States — secretly, illegally and in large amounts — remains one of the last untold stories of the American war in Southeast Asia…. the extent to which the U.S. military broke international agreements has never been fully documented, until now…. At least 600,000 gallons of herbicides rained down on the ostensibly neutral nation during the war.” – The New York Times

One Year Later, We Still Have No Plan to Prevent the Next Pandemic. And yes, there could soon be another pandemic.
“It’s appropriate to ask what smart collective action are we pursuing to prevent this from ever happening again. The answer, as best as I can detect, is nothing — at least nothing meaningful…. Cornell University’s Steve Osofsky, a wildlife veterinarian, summarized how the health of wildlife, the health of ecosystems and our own health are inextricably linked. To say that a majority of emerging viruses come from wildlife is not to blame wild creatures, explained Osofsky. It is to make the point that through our own behaviors we ‘invite these viruses into humanity’s living room: We eat the body parts of wild animals; we capture and mix wild species together in markets for sale; and we destroy what’s left of wild nature at a dizzying pace — think deforestation — all greatly enhancing our encounter rates with new pathogens.’” – The New York Times

9 March, 2021
Iran Is Starting to Want the Bomb
“The U.S. maximum pressure campaign accidentally spurred a strategic shift in Tehran…. Wide swaths of Iranian society, among the public and policymakers alike, seem to increasingly see the weapon not just as an ultimate deterrent but as a panacea for Iran’s chronic security problems and challenges to its sovereignty by foreign powers.” – Foreign Policy

9 March, 2021
Quarter of women and girls have been abused by a partner, says WHO
“’Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture, causing harm to millions of women and their families, and has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general. ‘Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture, causing harm to millions of women and their families, and has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.’… Funding to address violence against women… amounted to only 0.33% of the total DAC [donor countries] country budgets. ‘It’s a pittance when you consider the magnitude of the problem, when you consider the prevalence, when you consider the millions of women and their children that are affected,’ said García-Moreno.” – The Guardian

9 March, 2021
Sidhique Kappan: Jailed and ‘tortured’ for trying to report a rape
“A 19-year-old Dalit woman had died after she was allegedly gang-raped by four of her upper-caste neighbours in the village of Bhulgarhi in Hathras. The story of the brutal assault, the woman’s death and a forced cremation in the middle of the night by the police without her family’s consent had made headlines around the world…. Sidhique Kappan, a 41-year-old journalist for the Malayalam-language news portal Azhimukham, also set out for Bhulgarhi, travelling from Delhi where he had been based for nine years…. Mr Kappan was arrested…. Last week, he completed his 150th day in jail. In the police lockup that night – according to an account he gave his family and lawyer – Mr Kappan was ‘dragged and beaten with sticks on thighs, slapped on face, forced to stay awake from 6pm to 6am on the pretext of questioning and subjected to serious mental torture.”… Police accused Mr Kappan of sedition and invoked the dreaded Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) – an anti-terrorism law that makes bail almost impossible.” – BBC

9 March, 2021

UK ‘balancing books on backs of Yemen’s starving people’, says UN diplomat
“The UK has announced it will give Yemen about £87m in aid this year, down from £164m in 2020. Boris Johnson has said the decision is due to the ‘current straitened circumstances’ caused by the pandemic and has insisted the public would think the government had its ‘priorities right.’ The conflict in Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, which UN officials have warned is fast becoming the most serious famine the world has seen in decades. The UK government is intimately involved in the conflict, as a leading supplier and supporter of the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition fighting in the war.” – The Guardian

January 9, 2021
UK overseas territories top list of world’s leading tax havens
“Dereje Alemayehu, the executive coordinator of the Nobel peace prize-nominated Global Alliance for Tax Justice, said the report’s findings showed the biggest economies in the world were helping companies avoid $245bn in tax, and ‘to trust the OECD in light of its findings is like trusting a pack of wolves to build a fence around your chicken coop.’… The report said OECD countries were responsible for 39% of the world’s corporate tax abuse risks…. But the Tax Justice Network said they continued to facilitate capital flight from many of the world’s poorest nations, allowing multinational corporations to avoid legitimate claims on their profits.” – The Guardian

January 8, 2021
Trial implicating Honduran president in drug trafficking begins
“US prosecutors say Juan Orlando Hernandez accepted bribes from drug cartels, the president has denied the allegations…. Federal prosecutors accused Hernandez, who has been president since 2014, of using Honduran law enforcement and military officials to protect drug traffickers. Hernandez was a key ally to the US under both the Obama and the Trump administrations.” – Aljazeera

January/February 2021
The Party That Failed – An Insider Breaks With Beijing
“When Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, I was full of hope for China. As a professor at the prestigious school that educates top leaders in the Chinese Communist Party, I knew enough about history to conclude that it was past time for China to open up its political system…. By then, I was midway through a decades-long process of grappling with China’s official ideology, even as I was responsible for indoctrinating officials in it…. A package of legal reforms passed in 2014, which further exposed the party’s intent to use the law as a tool for maintaining totalitarian rule. After 20 years of hesitation, confusion, and misery, I made the decision to emerge from the darkness and make a complete break with the party. Xi’s great leap backward soon left me with no other choice…. Soon, I was expelled from the party. The school stripped me of my retirement benefits. My bank account was frozen. I asked the authorities at the Central Party School for a guarantee of my personal safety if I returned. Officials there avoided answering the question and instead made vague threats against my daughter in China and her young son. It was at this point that I accepted the truth: there was no going back.” – Foreign Affairs

March 7, 2021
Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State. Survivors of China’s campaign of persecution reveal the scope of the devastation.
“… At thousands of checkpoints and convenience stations in Xinjiang, police have collected DNA samples, voice recordings, fingerprints, and iris and facial scans of residents. Throughout the region, people’s homes are marked with QR codes linked to information about each resident. Mandatory smartphone apps monitor citizens’ movements and private messages. Survivors of China’s campaign of persecution reveal the scope of the devastation. … In the yard, the men were ordered to squat as policemen and guard dogs circled them. The police placed hoods over the prisoners’ heads and led them, in pairs, to waiting buses. ‘They had rifles and were yelling at us. Then they put hoods on us. Like the Second World War. Like the fascists dealing with the Jews’” – The Newyorker

March 5, 2021
Covid: Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to stop ‘whining’ as deaths top 260,000
“The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has triggered a wave of revulsion by telling citizens, ‘Stop all this fussing and whining. How long are you going to keep on crying?’… With vaccination stuck in first gear, infections surging, intensive care units reaching capacity and close to 2,000 lives being lost each day, the answer looks certain to be quite some time….. Against that backdrop, Bolsonaro’s comments – widely seen as designed to distract from awkward reports about his son’s purchase of a luxury mansion– caused outrage. ‘Impeachment and jail for this crook,’ tweeted Ciro Gomes, a prominent leftist rival, calling Bolsonaro ‘the gravedigger of Brazil.'” – The Guardian

March 5, 2021
The Church Needs Shame to Function
“The church is full of lovely people beholden to a broken system — a guilt-based religious structure that ultimately keeps people enslaved. Here is a snapshot of the various ways that I have observed the use of shame and shaming in the church: Using shame to create converts, using shame to create conformity, using shame to generate income, using shame to lift attendance, using shame to manage behavior. As a result, so many who attend churches pick up their fig leaves and cover their own shame and sense of not measuring up. Christians are forced to pretend, repress, deny, or become a hypocrite because nothing they do will ever be good enough. It is not so much that hypocrites join churches, but that the evangelical church’s very structures encourage people to act and pretend.” – Medium

March 4, 2021
India’s top judge tells accused rapist to marry victim to avoid jail
“The chief justice Sharad Arvind Bobde… told the government technician at a hearing: ‘If you want to marry [her] we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail.’… Bobde’s comments sparked a furore and prompted women’s rights activists to circulate an open letter… calling for his resignation. According to the letter, the defendant is accused of stalking, tying up, gagging and repeatedly raping the girl and threatening to douse her in petrol, set her alight and have her brother killed. ‘By suggesting that this rapist marry the victim-survivor, you, the chief justice of India, sought to condemn the victim-survivor to a lifetime of rape at the hands of the tormentor who drove her to attempt suicide,’ the letter said.” – The Guardian

March 4, 2021
The Insidious Creep of Violent Rhetoric
“For now, when trying to decide whether to intervene on an ambiguous tweet or post by a major political figure, content moderation staffers carefully parse the words and wonder about their author’s intent. What really matters for preventing violence is how content is understood by its audience, especially people who might commit or condone violence…. Social media platforms should hold such people accountable when the content they post is understood by their followers to call for crime…. If the test proves effective, the list of politicians could be expanded to include candidates for office and former politicians, as well as non-politicians with significant power over specific audiences, like religious leaders and other people with online audiences over a certain size…. It is time for social media companies to hold powerful people accountable.” – NOĒMA

March 3, 2021
Some U.S. Bishops Advise Catholics to Avoid J&J Vaccine
“Some U.S. bishops are advising Catholics to avoid what the prelates contend is a Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine that’s immoral because aborted human tissue is used in its manufacture. Their guidance is stricter than the Vatican’s declaration that the formula is broadly acceptable for the faith’s 1.3 billion followers. The Archdiocese of New Orleans, with 518,000 Catholics, cited “the wrongdoing” of the vaccine’s creators for the “extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines.” The two archdioceses declared the formula “morally compromised.”” – Bloomberg

March 3, 2021
Chinese labour schemes aimed to cut Uighur population density – report
“Chinese labour programmes in Xinjiang are designed at least partly to reduce the population density of the Uighur ethnic minority group, according to a study accidentally published online. The Chinese report, by academics of Nankai University, was taken down in mid-2020, but a copy was archived by the academic Dr Adrian Zenz. It adds to the growing body of evidence of Beijing’s concerted efforts to persecute Uighurs in what human rights experts and some governments have labelled cultural genocide. The Chinese government denies accusations of forced labour and labour transfers in Xinjiang, saying work programmes are a voluntary element of its poverty alleviation goals. However, the Nankai report said the labour transfers were also a long-term measure that “not only reduces Uighur population density in Xinjiang, but also is an important method to influence, melt, and assimilate Uighur minorities.” – The Guardian

March 2, 2021
Ex-President Sarkozy Gets Jail Sentence for Corruption in France
“The former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty and sentenced to prison by a court in Paris on Monday on charges of corruption and influence peddling, only the second time in modern French history that a former president has been convicted of a crime. While the court handed down a three-year prison sentence, two of those years were suspended… Mr. Sarkozy can request that his one-year term be served outside prison, for instance at home with an electronic bracelet.” – The New York Times

March 2, 2021
Homosexuality can be called a mental disorder, rules Chinese court
“A court in China has agreed with a textbook’s description of homosexuality as a mental disorder, upholding a ruling by a lower court. In 1990, the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder following which China followed suit and decriminalised homosexuality in 1997. Two years later, in 2001, China removed it from the official list of mental disorders. The textbook, being used by a number of Chinese universities, is the 2013 edition of Mental Health Education for College Students published by Jinan University Press. It has listed homosexuality under “common psychosexual disorders” along with cross-dressing and fetishism.” – The Independent

February 28, 2021
Brazil Is Brilliant at Vaccinations. So What Went Wrong This Time?
“With one of the largest universal, free-of-charge public health systems in the world, the country has a distinguished track record of vaccinations and disease control…. In a country where the pandemic has wrought terrible damage — 250,000 people have died… the failure amounts to a disaster…. So what went wrong?… From the beginning, Mr. Bolsonaro’s government downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic…. Mr. Bolsonaro, through ineptitude and malice, has squandered the country’s resources to ruinous effect.” – The New York Times

February 26, 2021
Ethiopia’s War Leads to Ethnic Cleansing in Tigray Region, U.S. Report Says
“In a second report, published Friday, Amnesty International said that soldiers from Eritrea had systematically killed hundreds of Tigrayan civilians in the ancient city of Axum over a 10-day period in November, shooting some of them in the streets. The worsening situation in Tigray — where Mr. Abiy, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, launched a surprise military offensive in November — is shaping up to be the Biden administration’s first major test in Africa. Former President Donald J. Trump paid little attention to the continent.” – The New York Times

February 26, 2021
Saudi Crown Prince Is Held Responsible for Khashoggi Killing in U.S. Report
“American officials listened to a recording obtained by Turkish intelligence that not only captured Mr. Khashoggi’s struggle against Saudi agents and his killing, but also the sounds of the saw being used on his body…. The declassified document was a powerful rebuke of the crown prince, a close ally of the Trump administration, whose continued support of him prompted international outrage.” – The New York Times

February 26, 2021
Crushing Dissent: The Saudi Kill Team Behind Khashoggi’s Death
“Seven Saudis involved in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi belonged to an elite unit charged with protecting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a declassified report on the assassination released on Friday. The New York Times has linked the group to a brutal campaign to crush dissent inside the kingdom and abroad, citing interviews with American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign.” – The New York Times

February 24, 2021
Mexican president under fire for defending politician accused of rape
“Félix Salgado Macedonio has registered to run for governor in southern Guerrero state with the ruling Morena party, despite accusations of sexual violence and rape by five women dating back as far as 1998…. López Obrador initially dismissed the complaints as “politicking” and then alleged that the attacks on Salgado were little more than a ruse against the president himself, saying it was part of a campaign of ‘media lynching’… The episode has again placed Amlo in conflict with women’s rights campaigners and the country’s burgeoning feminist movement…. ‘Everything is made so [Salgado] is never sentenced and, in reality, almost no man is ever convicted for sexual violence,’ said Paola Zavala Saeb, a lawyer and director of Ocupa México, a violence prevention organisation. ‘Just 2% of sexual violence complaints end up with a sentence.’” – The Guardian

February 24, 2021
Trump made $1.6bn while president, report says
Donald Trump made as much as $1.6bn during his four years as president according to a report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). CREW argues that much of this income came from those wishing to curry favour with the president paying a premium to stay at properties branded in his name. The report by CREW comes as the Supreme Court handed down a decision that will force Mr Trump to hand over his tax returns to prosecutors in New York.” – The Independent

February 23, 2021
‘Patriots’ Only: Beijing Plans Overhaul of Hong Kong’s Elections
“China plans to impose restrictions on Hong Kong’s electoral system to root out candidates the Communist Party deems disloyal, a move that could block democracy advocates in the city from running for any elected office. The planned overhaul reinforces the Communist Party’s resolve to quash the few remaining vestiges of political dissent after the antigovernment protests that roiled the territory in 2019. It also builds on a national security law for the city that Beijing enacted last summer, giving the authorities sweeping powers to target dissent.” – The New York Times

February 22, 2021
How Britain Stole $45 Trillion From India, And Lied About It
“Renened economist Utsa Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938. How did this come about? It happened through the trade system. The East India Company began collecting taxes in India, and then cleverly used a portion of those revenues (about a third) to fund the purchase of Indian goods for British use. In other words, instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, “buying” from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taken from them. It was a scam – theft on a grand scale. On top of this, the British were able to sell the stolen goods to other countries for much more than they “bought” them for in the first place, pocketing not only 100 percent of the original value of the goods but also the markup.” – Aljazeera

February 21, 2021
Anatomy of a conspiracy: With COVID, China took leading role
“From Beijing and Washington to Moscow and Tehran, political leaders and allied media effectively functioned as misinformation superspreaders, using their stature to amplify politically expedient conspiracies already in circulation. But it was China — not Russia – that took the lead in spreading foreign disinformation about COVID-19’s origins, as it came under attack for its early handling of the outbreak.” – AP

February 19, 2021
Locked up at age 15, Joe Ligon became the nation’s longest-serving juvenile ‘lifer….’ Now, at 83, he’s finally free…. 

“That February night, Ligon and four other teenagers drained two bottles of wine, ripped through the streets of South Philadelphia near his home and stabbed eight men, two of whom died. It was the first time he ever drank, he has said…. His lawyers instructed him to plead guilty to the facts, leaving the judge to determine the crimes. Ligon admitted to stabbing one victim who survived. Ligon was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of ever getting out…. The United States has long led the world in incarcerating juveniles for life without possibility of parole….” – The Washington Post

February 19, 2021

Rich nations ‘hoarding’ a billion doses of excess COVID vaccine
“Surplus of vaccine doses would be sufficient to vaccinate the entire adult population of Africa, according to campaign group. ‘This huge vaccine excess is the embodiment of vaccine nationalism, with countries prioritising their own vaccination needs at the expense of other countries and the global recovery,’ said ONE, a group that campaigns against poverty. ‘It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines,’ Macron told the Financial Times newspaper.” – Aljazeera

February 19, 2021
One night in Cancun: Ted Cruz’s disastrous decision to go on vacation during Texas storm crisis
“On Cruz’s trip, at least, almost everyone could agree: “Nope. This is politics 101. Incredibly stupid move,” tweeted Charlie Spiering, White House correspondent for the conservative Breitbart News. “Well Senator Cruz is flying to Cancun while millions of Texans do not have electricity #Priorities #ThanksforNothingSenator,” wrote one Houston-based Twitter user, above a photo of Cruz looking like any airport traveler in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic… And the hypocrisy of a man who has trashed fellow politicians for vacationing during crises — vacationing in Cancun during a crisis himself.” – The Washington Post

February 18, 2021
Trump Is Guilty of Pandemicide
“History will show the former U.S. president was staggeringly negligent during the pandemic’s deadly third wave…. Trump’s failure to, as he vowed in his oath of office, ‘faithfully execute the office of president of the United States’ promulgated a scale of lives lost exceeding anything experienced in the country since the Civil War, 160 years ago…. According to a new Lancet Commission report compiled by an international team of august scientists and public health leaders, some 40 percent of America’s COVID-19 death toll during the Trump administration was needless, meaning it could have been averted with available nonmedical interventions.” – Foreign Policy

February 18, 2021
Japan’s ruling party invites women to meetings – but won’t let them speak
“It was a move designed to show that Japan’s ruling party was committed to gender equality after the sexism row that forced one of its former prime ministers, Yoshiro Mori, to resign as head of Tokyo’s Olympic organising committee. The time had come to give female members of the Liberal Democratic party (LDP) more prominence at key meetings, the party’s secretary general, Toshihiro Nikai, said this week, days after Mori had stepped down following his claim that meetings attended by ‘talkative women’ tended to ‘drag on.’. But Nikai’s attempt to address the yawning gender gap in his party quickly unravelled when it became clear that the small groups of women attending the meetings were expected to be seen but not heard.” – The Guardian

February 15, 2021
India: activist arrested over protest ‘toolkit’ shared by Greta Thunberg
“Indian police have charged a 22-year-old climate activist with sedition over accusations she edited and circulated a document tweeted by climate activist Greta Thunberg relating to India’s ongoing farmer protests… claiming the document was evidence of a conspiracy ‘to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India.'” – The Guardian

February 15, 2021
Peru’s foreign minister resigns over COVID vaccine scandal
“Peru’s foreign minister has resigned, the second top official to step down amid a growing scandal over politicians receiving COVID-19 vaccinations well before the general public…. Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti also stepped down last week following a newspaper report that ex-President Martin Vizcarra had received a shot of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in October…. Vizcarra, 57, received the jab just weeks before being impeached and removed from office on charges he was ‘morally incompetent’… Peruvian media has speculated there may be numerous officials who are already vaccinated…. Peru has recorded more than 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 43,700 deaths.” – Aljazeera

February 12, 2021
Forty per cent of American Covid deaths were avoidable – and the Trump administration is to blame, study finds
“Systemic racism, poor healthcare access and entrenched neoliberal policy have contributed to decades of avoidable excess deaths. A paper published today in The Lancet finds that over the last four years, the Trump administration’s policies have had a ‘devastating impact’ on ‘every aspect of health’ in the US…. In their new report, the researchers… write that 461,000 fewer Americans would have died in 2018 alone and the Covid-19 death toll would have been cut by 40 per cent…. According to commission co-chair Dr Steffie Woolhandler, ‘This unprecedented decoupling of health from national wealth signals that our society is sick.'” – Independent

February 12, 2021
Canada military trumpets diversity… with picture of eight white men
“’Conversations on diversity, inclusion, and culture change are not incompatible with our thirst for operational excellence. I count on my senior leaders to champion culture change,’ admiral Art McDonald, recently wrote on Twitter. ‘Diversity makes us stronger, inclusion improves our institution.’ Unfortunately, that stirring message was somewhat undercut by the accompanying photograph of the meeting – which showed eight white men sitting round a table.” The Guardian

February 12, 2021
Why are South Korean churches a magnet for coronavirus and conspiracy theories?
“Outbreaks at churches have been prominent in each wave to hit South Korea, while pastors have promoted conspiracy theories and unconventional ‘cures’. In his case the matter has been made worse by the fact the card that is said to emit “waves” that will “fend off and kill the Covid-19 virus” was developed by Kim Hyon-won, a controversial biochemistry professor at the Yonsel University Wonju College of Medicine. In recent months, infection levels have soared, prompting alarm that new clusters have been able to get past the aggressive testing, contact-tracing and isolation regimes that once earned South Korea praise from the World Health Organization.” – The South Asia Morning Post

February 12, 2021
Influential Evangelist is Accused of Sexual Abuse in Scathing Report
“The influential evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who died last spring, engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape,” according to a report released on Thursday by the global evangelical organization he founded. After initially denying accounts of his misconduct, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries announced that an investigation had found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years and multiple continents.” – The New York Times

February 11, 2021
How Germany Lost Control of the Virus
“The country excelled during the first wave. What went wrong the second time around? ‘We have lost control of this thing.’ Those were the words of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany…. Why did this happen? The short answer: politics.” – The New York Times

February 10, 2021
UK approved $1.9bn of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since ban lifted
“the UK authorised weapons exports worth 1.39 billion pounds ($1.9bn), according to the government figures. The category of arms including missiles and bombs accounted for 1.36 billion pounds ($1.88bn) of the sales. Anti-arms trade campaigners slammed the sales as “shocking” and said the figures “illustrate the UK government’s determination to keep supplying arms at any cost”. “UK-made weapons have played a devastating role in the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis they have created, yet the UK government has done everything it can to keep the arms sales flowing.”” – Aljazeera

February 9, 2021
Southern Baptist Pastors Compare Kamala Harris To Bible’s Queen Jezebel
“Two Texas pastors have yet to apologize for comparing Vice President Kamala Harris to Jezebel, a Biblical queen whose name has become shorthand for a woman who is manipulative, seductive, and wicked. There is a distinctively racist and sexist undertone to the label, since the Jezebel trope has been used to denigrate Black women for years, scholars say…. According to Tamura Lomax, author of Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture, ‘The name Jezebel was actually meant to be a slur because she did not submit to patriarchy.’” – HuffPost

February 9, 2021
‘Anti-India’ social media posts may cost your passport: police chief
“Police forces in the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Bihar have warned citizens that criticising the government on social media or participating in protests could disqualify them from government jobs, bank loans and even obtaining passports…. Political analyst Arati Jerath warned democracy itself was in peril…. ‘[The BJP] has resorted to a sledgehammer approach to stifle uncomfortable voices,’ she said…. Critics say the BJP has adopted an aggressive ‘us and them’ mindset in which all dissenters are tagged as enemies; party figures have dubbed outspoken academics as ‘seditionists,’ Muslims against the citizenship law as ‘jihadis,’ and farmers – most of whom are Sikh – as ‘religious separatists.'” – The South China Morning Post

February 9, 2021
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump made up to $640 million while working in White House, report finds
“Their extraordinary incomes have alarmed lawmakers and ethics groups chronicling concerns over the family’s allegedly rampant self-dealing and enrichment while Mr Trump was in office. Ivanka Trump’s ownership stake in Washington DC’s Trump Hotel – what CREW called a ‘locus of influence peddling in the Trump administration’ – earned her more than $13 million since 2017, according to financial disclosures analysed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. – The Guardian

February 7, 2021
Trump’s election fraud falsehoods have cost taxpayers $519m — and counting
“The expenditures include legal fees prompted by dozens of fruitless lawsuits, enhanced security in response to death threats against poll workers, and costly repairs needed after the 6 January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. That attack triggered the expensive massing of thousands of National Guard troops on the streets of Washington amid fears of additional extremist violence.” – Independent

February 4, 2021
India clamps down on free speech to fight farmer protests
“Ministers in Modi’s government accused the journalists and a prominent opposition parliamentarian of inciting hatred and endangering the nation’s integrity through inaccurate reporting and tweets. It led to the filing of colonial-era sedition charges, which carry a maximum five-year prison term. The law, like its equivalent in other former British colonies, is viewed as draconian and was revoked in the United Kingdom in 2010.” – Independant

February 3, 2021
Xinjiang’s Camps Enable Systemic Sexual Violence
“A new report draws attention to rape and other abuses of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s large-scale internment camps…. This week, the BBC released a series of accounts from witnesses of systematic rape inside the carceral system in Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are imprisoned. Refugees have previously recounted sexual abuse in the camps, but the BBC report gathers several key witnesses, including some women who were raped. These accounts track with the scale of the camps, recorded both through satellite data and on Chinese government websites—and with the government’s own sexualized rhetoric.” – Foreign Policy

February 2, 2021
Russian Activist Navalny Sentenced to More Than 2 Years in Prison
“A decision likely to send him for a lengthy term in a far-flung penal colony for the first time…. Tuesday’s sentencing represented a pivotal moment for President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia. Mr. Navalny… repeatedly embarrassed the president and his close allies with investigative reports about corruption that were viewed many millions of times on YouTube. ‘Hundreds of thousands cannot be locked up,’ Mr. Navalny said during the hearing before he was sentenced. ‘More and more people will recognize this. And when they recognize this — and that moment will come — all of this will fall apart, because you cannot lock up the whole country.'” – New York Times

February 1, 2021 
FP Editors’ Picks: What’s next for Myanmar – Sound familiar?
After refusing to recognize the country’s election results based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, Myanmar’s military launched a coup and detained state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. – Foreign Policy

February 1, 2021
Why Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup
“Analysts and campaigners say commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing’s presidential ambitions played a key role in power grab. Frontier Myanmar, a current affairs magazine based in Yangon, said the fact that Min Aung Hlaing is ‘one of most wanted men on the planet’ due to his role in the atrocities committed against the Rohingya also contributed to the general’s anxiety about his future. ‘This is a Min Aung Hlaing coup, not just a military coup,” said Mark Farmaner, director of the UK-based Burma Campaign. ‘It is about his position and his wealth.'” – Aljazeera

February 1, 2021
Something went terribly wrong with Trump’s defense
“Just over a week before the start of his second impeachment trial, former President Donald Trump’s entire legal team has walked away. What already promised to be an unpredictable and unprecedented show on the Senate floor just got even messier, as it appears that Trump will insist on repeating the same dangerous lie that sparked the Capitol riot — that the election was stolen from him — and led to his (second) impeachment in the first place.” – CNN

January 31, 2021
Trump Raised $255.4 Million in 8 Weeks as He Sought to Overturn Election Result
“Mr. Trump’s strongest fund-raising came in the immediate aftermath of the election, such as after major media organizations declared that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won on Nov. 7. But even as Mr. Trump and his legal team lost case after case — in venues including the Supreme Court — his donors continued to give repeatedly. More than two million contributions flowed in to Mr. Trump, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts from Nov. 24 through the end of the year.” – The New York Times

January 29, 2021
‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy
“Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset over 40 years and proved so willing to parrot anti-western propaganda that there were celebrations in Moscow, a former KGB spy has told the Guardian. Yuri Shvets, posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, compares the former US president to ‘the Cambridge five.’ the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the second world war and early cold war.” – The Guardian

January 29, 2021
Why 1850 Doesn’t Feel So Far Away
“Scarcely had the violence ebbed on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 when the Republican calls for healing began…. And many of them are using threats of violence to encourage Democrats and the disloyal to fall in line. ‘I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues last night,’ reported Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado, on MSNBC on Jan. 13, and a ‘couple of them actually broke down in tears… saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.” – The New York Times

January 28, 2021
Report: Corruption in U.S. at Worst Levels in Almost a Decade

“Advocates attribute the drop to declining trust in democratic institutions and poor oversight of pandemic-related financial aid. In the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), the United States fell to a low of 67 out of a maximum possible score of 100, down from a high of 76 in 2015…. The lower the score, the worse the corruption. Two-thirds of the 180 countries and territories included in the 2020 index scored below 50, with an average of 43.” – Foreign Policy

January 28, 2021
‘The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It Gets.’
“Religious resentment has become a potent recruiting tool for the hard right…. Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, professors of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the University of Oklahoma, describe Christian Nationalism in their book ‘Taking America Back for God’: It includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism.” – The New York Times

January 28, 2021
2 men caned 77 times for gay sex in Indonesia’s Aceh

“It’s the third time that Aceh, the only province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law, has caned people for homosexuality since the Islamic law was implemented in 2015 as a concession made by the government to end a long-running separatist rebellion… A Shariah court last month sentenced each man to 80 strokes, but they were caned 77 times after a remission for time spent in prison. Four other people received 17 strokes for extra-marital relations and 40 strokes for drinking alcohol”. – The Free Press Journal

January 27, 2021
Poland to implement near-total ban on abortion imminently

“The ruling, handed down by the constitutional tribunal in October, found that terminating pregnancies due to severe foetal abnormalities is unconstitutional…. Once the ruling goes into effect, abortion will only be permitted in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. – The Guardian

January 27, 2021
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Liked Posts Calling For Killing Democratic Politicians: Reports

‘Media Matters for America, a progressive watchdog group, first reported that Greene, a far-right firebrand who was recently elected to Congress, had endorsed fringe conspiracy theories on Facebook in 2018 that suggested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton murdered a child during a satanic ritual…. In January 2019, Greene liked a comment that said it would be ‘quicker’ to remove Pelosi from office with a ‘bullet to the head.’ On another post from April 2018, a commenter asked her if ‘H & O’ — referring to former President Barack Obama and Clinton — should be hanged.” – HuffPost

January 26, 2021
Indian court rules that groping without removing clothes is not sexual assault

“In a judgment last week, Bombay High Court judge Pushpa Ganediwala found that a 39-year-old man was not guilty of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl as he had not removed her clothes, meaning there was no skin-on-skin contact. According to court documents, the man brought the child to his house on the pretext of giving her guava in December 2016. While there, he touched her chest and tried to remove her underwear, according to the judgment.” – CNN

January 26, 2021
Indian Muslim comic in jail for weeks for jokes he did not tell

“An Indian Muslim stand-up comic has spent 25 days in a Madhya Pradesh jail for jokes he did not tell an audience, but on suspicions he was ‘going to.’ Mumbai-based Munawar Faruqui, 28, is facing legal action in two states. In Madhya Pradesh, he was arrested while performing by Indore police for allegedly insulting Hindu deities during rehearsals. In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, he is sought by the police in another case of allegedly insulting Hindu deities as well as Home Minister Amit Shah.” – Aljazeera

January 26, 2021
UK sells arms to nearly 80% of countries under restrictions

“Exporting to countries under sanctions and embargos is ‘systematic failure to consider human rights records.’ British ministers and officials have approved the sale of arms to nearly four-fifths of countries subject to arms embargos, trade sanctions or other restrictions over the past five years, according to analysis… the UK has a history of championing human rights around the world and regularly calls out governments which fail to uphold them.” – The Guardian

January 25, 2021
Palace for Putin

“… this man, in his craving for wealth, is completely mad. We will find out by whose money and how this luxury is financed. And how right now and for the past 15 years, the biggest bribe in history is being given and the most expensive palace in the world is being built.” – Navalny.com

January 24, 2021
In 2 weeks after it called the election, Fox News cast doubt on the results nearly 800 times
“The network’s most prominent figures relentlessly attempted to subvert democracy by fueling conspiracy theories and spreading misinformation, rhetoric for which the network has refused to hold them accountable.” – Media Matters

January 24, 2021
10 Billionaires Made Enough Money During The Pandemic To Vaccinate The Entire World
“They could save millions from poverty with what’s left over, according to a new Oxfam report on inequality and the coronavirus.” – HuffPost

January 23, 2021
Brazil’s Indigenous Leaders Sue President Jair Bolsonaro For Crimes Against Humanity
Chief Raoni Metuktire, the leader of the Kayapo people, and Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, leader of the Paiter Surui tribe, filed the claim at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on Friday…. If the ICC follows through, the complaint against Bolsonaro could have an impact far beyond Brazil: The lawyers behind the case say it could push widespread environmental destruction ― or ecocide ― onto the list of crimes the ICC recognizes as prosecutable under international law. – HuffPost

January 21, 2021
Former head of Vatican bank found guilty of embezzlement

“A former head of the Vatican bank, Angelo Caloia, has been found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering and sentenced to eight years and 11 months in prison, making him the highest-ranking Vatican official to be convicted of a financial crime. He was accused of conspiring with others to make millions from the below-market sale of more than 20 Vatican Bank properties in Italy and laundering the proceeds in Switzerland.” – Aljazeera

January 19, 2021
The U.S. Coronavirus Response Might Be a Crime Against Humanity

“The Trump administration callously dismissed the deaths of the most vulnerable, including minorities…. The scale of the death toll in the United States is on a par with genocidal actions of the past…. Researchers at Columbia University compared the Trump administration response to COVID-19 to the response of other nations and estimated that the ineffective strategy in the United States resulted in 130,000 to 210,000 needless deaths over less than a year.” – Foreign Policy

January 19, 2021
In 1,458 days, President Trump has made 30,534 false or misleading claims
The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office. – The Washington Post

January 19, 2021
Woman jailed for record 43 years for insulting Thai monarchy
“‘What is thought to be the toughest sentence ever passed under the kingdom’s strict lese-majesty law,’ lawyers said. The woman, said to be in her 60s, was accused of posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, according to the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. A sentence of 87 years was announced initially, but this was halved because she pleaded guilty. – The Guardian

January 18, 2021
Poisoned Putin Critic Navalny Jailed For 30 Days In Russia, Spokeswoman Says
The politician’s allies said he was being held at a police precinct outside Moscow and has been refused access to his lawyer…. Navalny flew to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin…. Last month, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he alleged was a member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him in August and then tried to cover it up. The FSB dismissed the recording as fake. – HuffPost

January 18, 2021
Amazon Web Drama Draws the Wrath of India’s Hindu Nationalists
“Artists say officials tied to the country’s ruling party use pressure to stem criticism…. The true objection to “Tandav” may simply be that it’s too real…. The authorities in Uttar Pradesh State, home to many recent police killings and run by one of Mr. Modi’s closest allies, a Hindu monk turned chief minister, seem especially offended. They said in a filing with the police there that the Amazon series portrays the post of prime minister ‘in a very indecent manner.’ On Monday, state officials warned that the filmmakers should ‘prepare for arrest.'”The New York Times

January 18, 2021
127 Republicans Who Voted To Overturn The Election Results Are Now Praising MLK
“Not only did they try to overturn the election results and give legitimacy to President Donald Trump’s lies of rampant voter fraud, but they essentially tried to erase the mammoth turnout among Black voters that helped Biden win. Twelve days after that vote, 127 of those Republicans ― 86% ― tweeted or put out statements Monday praising the work of Martin Luther King Jr., who is perhaps best remembered for fighting racial injustice…. The hypocrisy was not lost on civil rights leaders. – HuffPost

January 18, 2021

How to Hold Social Media Accountable for Undermining Democracy
“Far from being neutral, social media companies are constantly making decisions about which content to amplify, elevate, and suggest to other users. Given their business model, which promotes scale above all, they’ve often actively amplified extreme, divisive content — including dangerous conspiracy theories and misinformation… Facebook profits by amplifying lies, providing dangerous targeting tools to political operatives seeking to sow division and distrust, and polarizing and even radicalizing users.” – Harvard Business Review

January 17, 2021
The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists
“Bandy X. Lee, a forensic psychiatrist and president of the World Mental Health Coalition, led a group of psychiatrists, psychologists and other specialists who questioned Trump’s mental fitness for office in a book that she edited called The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. In doing so, Lee and her colleagues strongly rejected the American Psychiatric Association’s modification of a 1970s-era guideline, known as the Goldwater rule, that discouraged psychiatrists from giving a professional opinion about public figures who they have not examined in person. ‘Whenever the Goldwater rule is mentioned, we should refer back to the Declaration of Geneva, which mandates that physicians speak up against destructive governments,’ Lee says. ‘This declaration was created in response to the experience of Nazism…. If one cannot have love, one resorts to respect. And when respect is unavailable, one resorts to fear. Trump is now living through an intolerable loss of respect: rejection by a nation in his election defeat. Violence helps compensate for feelings of powerlessness, inadequacy and lack of real productivity.'” – Scientific American

January 17, 2021
‘Our souls are dead’: how I survived a Chinese ‘re-education’ camp for Uighurs
“After 10 years living in France, I returned to China to sign some papers and I was locked up. For the next two years, I was systematically dehumanised, humiliated and brainwashed …They had sentenced me to seven years of re-education. They had tortured my body and brought my mind to the edge of madness. And now, after reviewing my case, a judge had decided that no, in actual fact, I was innocent. I was free to go.” – The Guardian

January 16, 2021
India’s ‘love jihad’ laws: Another attempt to subjugate Muslims
“The new anti-conversion laws not only remove agency from women, but also put a target on the backs of innocent Muslim men and boys. The Supreme Court of India declined to stay controversial laws recently enacted in several states to tackle “love jihad” – a baseless conspiracy theory accusing Muslim men of luring Hindu women into marriage with the aim of forcefully converting them to Islam.” – Aljazeera

January 15, 2021
These Textbooks In Thousands Of K-12 Schools Echo Trump’s Talking Points
“Their religion-centered, anti-Democrat, anti-science, anti-multicultural message mirrors the Christian nationalism seen at the U.S. Capitol riot…. Scholars say textbooks like these, with their alternate versions of history and emphasis on Christian national identity, represent one small part of the conditions that lead to events like last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, an episode that was permeated with the symbols of Christian nationalism. Before storming the Capitol, some groups prayed in the name of Jesus and asked for divine protection. They flew Christian and “Jesus 2020” flags and pointed to Trump’s presidency as the will of God. – HuffPost

January 14, 2021
Mexico Exonerates Ex-Defense Chief Who Was Freed by the U.S.
“The authorities in Mexico say they will bring no charges against a former top military official who was arrested in the United States last year on drug-trafficking and corruption charges…. His complete exoneration in Mexico came as a shocking about-face after the authorities had promised to bring the full weight of the Mexican justice system to bear in the case…. General Cienfuegos was apparently known as ‘El Padrino,’ or The Godfather, by one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels. Officials said General Cienfuegos directed military operations away from the criminal group in exchange for large sums of cash.” – The New York Times

January 14, 2021
Trump Ignites a War Within the Church: After a week of Trumpist mayhem, white evangelicals wrestle with what they’ve become.

“Conservative preacher Jeremiah Johnson: ‘Over the last 72 hours, I have received multiple death threats and thousands upon thousands of emails from Christians saying the nastiest and most vulgar things I have ever heard toward my family and ministry. I have been labeled a coward, sellout, a traitor to the Holy Spirit, and cussed out at least 500 times…. I’m convinced parts of the prophetic/charismatic movement are far SICKER than I could have ever dreamed of.’” – The New York Times

January 14, 2021

Up to 1m Hindus gather in India as festival goes ahead amid Covid fears
Millions more are expected to descend on Haridwar in the coming weeks for Kumbh Mela, one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings…. ‘The pandemic is a bit of a worry, but we are taking all precautions,’ said one of the organisers, Siddharth Chakrapani. Most of those walking into the freezing river on Thursday morning were not wearing masks and social distancing was hard to maintain.” – The Guardian

January 14, 2021
The US Capitol riot risks supercharging a new age of political repression

“A new age of political repression is coming at a time in which we need protests the most, and it will be a bipartisan affair…. Following the fascist riot at the US Capitol, progressives and liberals have begun to mimic the calls for “law and order” of their conservative counterparts, even going as far as threatening to expand the ‘war on terror’…. While this may be well-intentioned, it fits neatly within the trajectory of attacks against civil liberties over the last two decades.” – The Guardian 

January 14, 2021
China possibly committed ‘genocide’ against Xinjiang Uygurs, says US commission

“China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as ‘vocational training centres’ to stamp out extremism and give people new skills and which others have called concentration camps. The United Nations says at least 1 million Uygurs and other Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang. Faith leaders, activist groups and others have said crimes against humanity, including genocide, are taking place there.” – South China Morning Post

January 13, 2021
Democrat: GOP colleagues say they’re ‘afraid for their lives’ if they vote to impeach Trump
‘”The majority of them are paralyzed with fear,’ Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said Wednesday on MSNBC. “I had a lot of conversations with my Republican colleagues last night. A couple of them actually broke down in tears talking to me, and saying that they are afraid for their lives if they vote for this impeachment.” – The Hill

January 13, 2021
Lisa Montgomery: US carries out first federal execution of a woman in nearly seven decades

“’The craven bloodlust of a failed administration was on full display tonight,’ Montgomery’s attorney, Kelley Henry said in a statement. ‘Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should feel shame. The government stopped at nothing in its zeal to kill this damaged and delusional woman,’ Henry said. ‘Lisa Montgomery’s execution was far from justice.’” – The Guardian

January 12, 2021
Report Gives Glimpse Into Horrors of Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes
“The report, the culmination of a six-year investigation, detailed some 9,000 deaths of children at 14 of the country’s so-called mother and baby homes and four county homes over several decades…. Survivors of the homes say urgent action by the state is needed, and many say the Roman Catholic church, which ran the homes, needs to be held more fully accountable. Mother and baby homes were run by religious orders, starting in the 1920s, and funded by the Irish government. But the institutions where young women and girls were taken, typically against their will, are not a thing of Ireland’s distant past. The last of the facilities was closed in 1998.” – The New York Times

January 12, 2021
A Christian Fundraising Site for Extremists
“GiveSendGo — the world’s number one ‘Christian’ fundraising platform — has helpfully raised over $100,000 for Tarrio’s legal defense after he was arrested for the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner, which he stole from a historic Washington, D.C., Church. Oh… and he was also found in possession of illegal firearms.” – Medium

January 12, 2021
We are Israel’s largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid
“The systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another is deeply immoral and must end…. There is not a single square inch in the territory Israel controls where a Palestinian and a Jew are equal. The only first-class people here are Jewish citizens such as myself, and we enjoy this status both inside the 1967 lines and beyond them, in the West Bank.” – The Guardian

January 11, 2021
How White Evangelical Christians Fused With Trump Extremism
“A potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war. Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus.” – The New York Times

January 11, 2021
Why do so many Republicans appear to be at war with both truth and democracy?
“It comes with the idea that a right-minded elite of religiously pure individuals should aim to capture the levers of government, then use that power to rescue society from eternal darkness and reshape it in accord with a divinely-approved view of righteousness…. It would be a mistake to overlook the powerful role of the rhetoric of religious nationalism in their ranks. At a rally in Washington on Jan. 5, on the eve of Electoral College certification, the right-wing pastor Greg Locke said that ‘God is raising up ‘an army of patriots.’ Another pastor, Brian Gibson, put it this way: ‘The church of the Lord Jesus Christ started America,’ and added, ‘We’re going to take our nation back!'” – The New York Times

January 10, 2021
In a viral video, Schwarzenegger links the Capitol riot to a rampage that was a prelude to the Holocaust.
“In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday that quickly drew millions of views, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star and former California governor, compared the riot at the Capitol last week to Kristallnacht, a rampage that took place under Nazi Germany in 1938 in which mobs burned synagogues and destroyed Jewish-owned shops.” – The New York Times

January 9, 2021
The American Abyss: A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.

“Our big lie is typically American, wrapped in our odd electoral system, depending upon our particular traditions of racism. Yet our big lie is also structurally fascist, with its extreme mendacity, its conspiratorial thinking, its reversal of perpetrators and victims and its implication that the world is divided into us and them. To keep it going for four years courts terrorism and assassination.” By Timothy Snyder – The New York Times

January 9, 2021
The storming of the Capitol was in large part brought to us by the white, evangelical church in America.
“…The insurrection represents an utter failure in the American church. This anti-epiphany reveals the horrid outgrowths of Christian nationalism, faulty spiritual formation, false teaching, political idolatry, and overriding ignorance.” – Christianity Today

January 8, 2021
This week’s Trump terrorist attack was not random.
“It wasn’t an accident. It was planned, aided and abetted by certain members of the police, the military and the Republican party. And it was only the dry run. This violent attack is not over. Please allow me to share my thoughts about what I think is happening and is about to happen.” – Michael Moore

January 7, 2021
Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself
“He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims.” – The New York Times

January 7, 2021
Arizona becomes Covid hotspot of the world as governor resists restrictions
“Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has declined to institute a statewide mask mandate even as the state reports the highest rate of new cases in the US” – The Guardian

January 7, 2021
India to hold nationwide ‘cow science’ exam
“…in the latest push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to promote and protect the animal considered sacred by a large section of the Hindu majority. Study material on test includes information on different cow breeds, as well as the theory that slaughtering animals causes earthquakes.” – Aljazeera

January 7, 2021
Trump’s doomed bid to reverse result further damages faith in US democracy
“The angry rantings of a president unwilling to accept defeat with claims of wholesale vote rigging have gained momentum and are now embraced by a majority of Republican voters as fact.” – The Guardian

January 5, 2021
‘A lifetime of torture’: the story of the woman Trump is rushing to execute
“Lisa Montgomery’s first experiences of sexual abuse occurred indirectly when she was three years old. She would lie in bed at night beside her beloved half-sister Diane, close enough to touch, while Diane, then eight, was being raped by their male babysitter. At the age of 11, Montgomery learnt what it was like to be attacked herself.” – The Guardian

January 5, 2021
Jacob Blake: officers will not be charged in shooting that left Black man paralyzed
“Blake was shot several times by Sheskey on August 23 when officers were responding to a domestic incident call…. Blake survived the shooting but was left with multiple injuries to his arms, spinal cord and internal organs along with being paralyzed from the waist down. Three of Blake’s children were in the car at the time of the shooting.” – The Guardian

January 5, 2021
Donald Trump pressures Mike Pence to throw out US election results – even though he can’t
““The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday… part of Trump’s doomed-to-fail, last-ditch effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.” – SCMP/Politico

January 5, 2021
India Is Targeting Defenders of Indigenous Rights as ‘Terrorists’
“Indian authorities arrested Stan Swamy, an 83-year-old Jesuit priest affected by Parkinson’s disease, from his home in the state of Jharkhand. Swamy is being held under an antiterrorism law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), that a group of United Nations’ Special Rapporteurs has condemned for enabling the Indian state to designate dissidents as terrorists and detain them for months without access to courts.” – Scientific American

January 5, 2021
Democrat lawmaker’s gender inclusive ‘amen and awoman’ congressional prayer causes stir
“Democrat representative Emanuel Cleaver caused a stir online after he ended his congressional prayer with the words ‘amen and awoman’. Mr Cleaver was invited to deliver the prayer opening up the 117th Congress on Sunday, when he decided to introduce a gesture towards gender neutrality.” – The Independent

January 5, 2021
Jericho March Returns to DC to Pray for a Trump Miracle
“Organizers of the Jericho March, slated for Tuesday and Wednesday, have called on “patriots, people of faith and all those who want to take back America” to travel to Washington on those days for a pair of marches to overturn the recent presidential election.” – Christianity Today

January 4, 2021
Greek Orthodox church to defy lockdown by opening for Epiphany
“Church hardliners have increasingly questioned the public health measures, deploring the prohibition of coveted rituals such as the sacrament of communion, conducted with a shared spoon.” – The Guardian

January 4, 2021
Algerian jailed for 3 years for political protest memes
“An Algerian supporter of the Hirak protest movement was sentenced to three years in jail Monday for satirical social media posts mocking the government and religion, a campaign group said. Walid Kechida, 25, was accused of insulting President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and ‘offending the precepts’ of Islam in Internet memes and other online posts.” – Arab News

January 3, 2021
Toppled Algerian President’s Brother Acquitted of Grave Accusations
After more than a year in jail, the brother of ousted Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, along with two other senior security officials, was acquitted on Saturday of charges of conspiracy against the state. Said Bouteflika, who was said to be the de facto ruler of Algeria following his long-serving brother’s severe stroke in 2013, was arrested in May 2019 during the mass protests led by the Hirak movement. Bouteflika was charged with plotting against the state and was sentenced to 15 years in prison but a military tribunal retried his case in accordance with a Supreme Court order. – The Media Line

January 3, 2021
Misinformer of the Year: Fox News
“The right-wing network has promoted coronavirus misinformation an estimated 13,551 times on its weekday programs over the course of the pandemic. And its lies had a deadly impact.” – Media Matters

January 3, 2021
Trump Pressured Georgia Official to ‘Find’ Enough Votes to Overturn Election
“…and vaguely threatened him with ‘a criminal offense,’ during an hourlong telephone conversation with him on Saturday, according to audio excerpts from the conversation. “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Mr. Trump said on the call. – The New York Times

January 3, 2021
Pence Welcomes Futile Bid by G.O.P. Lawmakers to Overturn Election
“Vice President Mike Pence signaled his support as 11 Republican senators and senators-elect said that they would vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.” New York Times

January 2, 2021
Trump May Launch ‘Reckless’ Attack on Iran, Experts Fear
“Trump is a very wounded and very cornered animal in an end-game scenario. He’s got a few weeks left, and we know that he is capable of extremely erratic behaviour… It may be the case that his most erratic, most reckless lashing out is yet to come.” – Al Jazeera

January 1, 2021
Hong Kong Democracy Activist Moved to Top Security Prison
“Authorities in Hong Kong have transferred 24-year-old democracy activist Agnes Chow to a top-security prison that places Category A prisoners convicted of violent crime in solitary confinement, …on charges of unauthorized assembly.” – Radio Free Asia

December 31, 2020
Nations in Transit 2020 – Dropping the Democratic Facade in Europe and Eurasia
“A growing number of leaders in Central and Eastern Europe have dropped even the pretense of playing by the rules of democracy.” – Freedom House

December 30, 2020
25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp
“Beijing acted against the coronavirus with stunning force, as its official narratives recount. But not before a political logjam had allowed a local outbreak to kindle a global pandemic…. But Mr. Xi’s speech foreshadowed what was to come — rewriting the history of the crisis even as it was happening. – New York Times

December 29, 2020
Alexei Navalny to be investigated by Russian authorities over alleged fraud
“The prominent Kremlin critic, poisoned in August, is under investigation for allegedly mishandling $5m private donations…. ‘They are trying to put me behind bars for failing to die and continuing to hunt for my killers and for proving that Putin was behind it,’ Navalny tweeted.” – The Guardian

December 29, 2020
China jails citizen journalist for four years over Wuhan coronavirus reports
“Citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was sentenced to four years in prison in Shanghai on Monday for her reporting on the coronavirus pandemic in central Chinese city of Wuhan early this year… She was one of the few citizen journalists in China to report on the early experiences of people in Wuhan during the city’s lockdown. The others have either been detained or ordered to stop their online reporting.” – South China Morning Post

December 29, 2020
Australia’s billionaires became 50% richer during pandemic
“The combined worth of Australian billionaires was assessed to be 52.4% higher this week than at the same time last December. By comparison, billionaires in the US and UK recorded an increase of about 25% over the same period, the Bloomberg index shows.” – The Guardian

December 28, 2020
Ted Cruz Got $35 Million For Billionaire Fracking Donors In Last COVID-19 Aid: Report
“The senator’s push was criticized as a massive taxpayer-backed payoff to major campaign contributors. As President Donald Trump complains about ‘pork’ in the current COVID-19 relief package, The Wall Street Journal reports that the last time around, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) helped manipulate the aid program to get $35 million for Texas billionaire fracking brothers who are major Cruz contributors.” – HuffPost

December 28, 2020
Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi woman activist jailed for five years
A prominent Saudi female activist, who campaigned for women’s right to drive, has been sentenced to more than five years in prison. Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, has already been in a maximum security prison for two and a half years…. Hathloul’s family says she was held incommunicado for three months following her arrest, and that she was subjected to electric shocks, whippings, and sexual harassment. They also allege that she was offered freedom if she agreed to say she was not tortured.” – BBC News

December 28, 2020
Mormon Church Sued For Allegedly Covering Up Boy Scouts Sex Abuse
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was hit with several lawsuits Monday for allegedly covering up decades of sexual abuse among Boy Scout troops in Arizona…. the church believes that same-sex intimacy is a sin…. Around 90,000 sexual abuse claims have been filed against the Boy Scouts. – HuffPost

December 28, 2020
China Jails Citizen-Journalist For 4 Years Over Wuhan Reports On Virus
“Zhang Zhan’s firsthand accounts from crowded hospitals and empty streets painted a more dire picture of the pandemic epicenter than the official narrative… handed a four-year jail term… on grounds of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble,’ her lawyer said…. Detained in mid-May, she went on a hunger strike in late June, court documents seen by Reuters say. Her lawyers told the court that police strapped her hands and force-fed her with a tube.” – HuffPost

December 24, 2020
‘Trapped’: The American women and girls forced into marriage
Women and girls are still being coerced into abusive marriages, including many under the age of 18. Between 2000 and 2015, more than 200,000 children were married in the US, where some states still allow it.” – Aljazeera

December 24, 2020
The Triumph of Kleptocracy
“With Manafort’s pardon, kleptocracy has successfully waited out its enemies. Under Donald Trump, the corruption of New Britain, the symbiosis of a criminal syndicate and government, has gone national. After years of omertà, Paul Manafort is howling for joy.” – The Atlantic

December 23, 2020
Pardons sink Trump further into swamp of his own shamelessness
“President sanctions first federal execution of a woman in 67 years – but war criminals, fraudsters and Russia-linked cronies go free… Trump’s motivation had less to do with the quality of mercy than a boundless quantity of shamelessness. In his binary worldview people on death row must face implacable justice but those who pass his loyalty test have a ticket to freedom.” – The Guardian

December 22, 2020
The Emiratis in Jerusalem are a slap in the face for Palestinians
“Emiratis are now allowed to visit Israel with ease, but we still have no freedom of movement in our own homeland… The photos of Emirati tourists in their traditional outfits posing in historic Jerusalem next to Israelis were plastered across newspapers. But almost no one wondered what we, the Palestinians, are feeling about all this.” – Aljazeera

December 22, 2020
After 28 years, Priest and Nun are Convicted of Murder
“…Sister Abhaya was murdered as she accidentally found Father Kottoor and Nun Sephie in a compromising position in the company of a second priest… The case had been written off several times allegedly under pressure from Vatican through the highest political authority in the country, judiciary and the administration to the local police and even the CBI as a case of suicide.” – FreePressJournal

December 21, 2020
“If it Hadn’t Been for the Prompt Work of the Medics”: FSB Officer Inadvertently Confesses Murder Plot to Navalny.
“The inadvertent confession was made during a phone call with a person who the officer believed was a high-ranking security official. In fact, the FSB officer did not recognize the voice of the person to whom he was reporting details of the failed mission: Alexey Navalny himself.” – Bellingcat Investigation Team. [CNN Video.]

December 21, 2020
Is Donald Trump cracking under the weight of losing?
“The combination of an unprecedented rebuke meeting an uncommonly vulnerable ego has some people wondering if there is a chance that Trump could he be on his way to a mental breakdown?” – SCMP

December 19, 2020
Why We Have Bad Politicians According to Plato
“Plato argues that philosophers would make the best rulers. They love learning and possess outstanding knowledge. Pride and desire do not concern them. Instead, they are driven by the pursuit of wisdom, truth, and virtue… Unfortunately, the chances of someone who fits this description gaining power is remarkably slim.” – Medium

December 19, 2020
One Year After Mass Protests, India’s Muslims Still Live in Fear
“Last December, hundreds of thousands of people in cities across India joined in protest against the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The law creates a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented residents who have fled religious persecution, but it discriminates against refugees and immigrants who happen to be Muslim… The arrests of anti-CAA activists and students reflect a narrative that pins blame for the riots on the protesters, and by extension the Muslim community.” – ForeignPolicy

December 18, 2020
Florida Police Raids Home of Covid Scientist Whistleblower
“Jones, the creator and former manager of Florida’s online dashboard of COVID-19 data, was fired in May after she discussed filing a whistleblower complaint laying our her accusations that officials pressured her to censor and alter case information to make it more positive.” – HuffPost

December 17, 2020
Britain Covid Spending blighted by Waste, Negligence and Cronyism
“The government handed out thousands of contracts to fight the virus, some of them in a secretive ‘V.I.P. lane’ to a select few companies with connections to the governing Conservative Party.” – NewYorkTimes

December 15, 2020
Hundreds of Thousands of Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang Forced to Pick Cotton
“Authorities in the XUAR are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of internment camps as part of an extralegal campaign of incarceration since early 2017…In 2018, three Uyghur regions alone mobilized at least 570,000 persons into cotton-picking operations through the government’s coercive labor training and transfer scheme… The actual number likely exceeds that figure by several hundred thousand.” – RadioFreeAsia

December 15, 2020
1,200% Increase in Journalist Arrests in the US in 2020
“A new report, issued by Freedom of the Press Foundation, details the staggering statistics: at least 117 verified cases of journalists being arrested while doing their job in 2020, with more than a dozen more cases still being investigated.” – Medium

December 14, 2020
Catholic Church Pedophilia: A Time of Reckoning
“We live in this church which is not a community of saints only. There are also sinners in it and criminals. So, this is the fact that you have to face reality. This is the reality of the church I work for and I’m in.” – DW

December 13, 2020
Brexit lies do not bring freedom: the truth alone is sovereign
“The surest recipe for killing a lie is to multiply the witnesses to truth.”

“These are the very same members of the worst cabinet in living memory who have the effrontery to claim that the availability of the Pfizer vaccine in the UK is somehow a triumph of Brexit.” – The Guardian

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1Osho, From Unconsciousness to Consciousness, Talk #15 – Transformation, Not Consolation

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