Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2013
In a previous thread, there has been fascinating discussion on Pope Francis, with our commenters bringing in terrific links. As I see it, there are five strands to the thread:
1. Did Father Bergoglio collaborate with the Argentine Junta during the Dirty War?
* Journalist Horacio Verbitzky has a document from the Argentine Foreign Ministry which states that Father Bergoglio accused one of the priests of subversion years after this priest and another were seized by the Junta, and tortured. Verbitzky obtained statements from the priests to the effect that they were denied the protection of the Church from the Junta by Father Bergoglio.
* Brother John in comments mentions the statement by human rights champion Adolfo Pérez Esquivel that Bergoglio had no connection at all to the dictatorship.
2. Did Bishop/Archbishop/Cardinal Bergoglio participate in the cover-up and stonewalling of the investigation of the crimes of the Dirty War?
* Verbitzky states that Cardinal Bergoglio lied in court about the forced surrender of children for adoption [In English, as noted by commenter Ji, here. This is presumably in regard to the child of Elena De La Cuadra.
* He also states that cardinal Bergoglio denied that the church archives contained any information about the disappeared/detained, whereas there was a document in which bishops Raúl Primatesta, Juan Aramburu y Vicente Zazpe talked frankly with the dictator (Videla) about whether to tell families whether their loved ones were alive or not.
* Via Jim, in comments, Fr. Christian von Wernich has not been defrocked despite having been convicted of being an accomplice in the murders of seven people, and additional cases of torture and false imprisonment. Commenter Rich Grabner of Mex Files says that it’s normal for prisoners to ply their trades, so as long as von Wernich hasn’t been defrocked, it’s not surprising he would say Mass.
* Cardinal Bergoglio refused to testify in court in two cases involving torture and murder. When he did testify, he was evasive.
* Commenter Jim points to two photos (one and two) which may indicate that Father Bergoglio gave communion to dictator Jorge Rafael Videla soon after Videla’s release from prison (the priest’s face is not shown, so it might be a misidentification).
* Bergoglio helped Verbitzky unravel a case involving the hiding of prisoners held by the Junta from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
3. Is there any connection between the corruption scandal that engulfed the Italian branch of Communion and Liberation and then-Cardinal Bergoglio?
* On this, there is no evidence whatsoever. What is known is that the Italian branch of Communion and Liberation is up to its eyeballs in a corruption scandal. Cardinal Angelo Scola has not been tied in, but the scandal probably cost him the papacy.
4. Since past money-laundering by the Church has involved CIA operations to overthrow left-wing governments, is Communion and Liberation part of such an effort to overthrow the Bolivarian governments of Central and South America?
* There is no direct evidence on this matter. For a review of Vatican financial scandals see Betty Clermont at DK
* Verbitzky states that he believes that the elevation of Bergoglio to Pope signals that the Church intends to undertake an operation similar to what it did in Poland with Solidarity in the 1980s: presumably meaning, to overthrow the Bolivarian governments.
5. More broadly, does Pope Francis intend to end financial and moral corruption in the Church and return it to its mission of spreading the gospel and helping the poor? Or will he lead the Church down the road of further politicization?
* Bergoglio has engaged in open politicking over the issue of marriage equality for gays, which he called a “Holy War.”
* Via Brother John,
liberation theologian Leonard Boff says that he believes that Pope Francis intends to create a “Church that is poor, simple, gospel-centered, and devoid of all power.”
I’m neutral. I hope the Church straightens out and flies right. It is too important to too many people to get itself tangled up in overthrowing governments, domestic politics, and financial corruption. Those are moral diseases that breed when the Church gets too close to the rich. The cure is for the Church to get close to the poor. I wish Francis all success if that is his aim, and I wish him all due justice if he is using the poor as a screen for another aim.
Posted in Latin America, Pope Francis, poverty, religion | 11 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on December 24, 2012
Chris Arnade visited Hunt’s Point, NY and got to know the street people. He produced a remarkable series titled Faces of Addiction, with photographs and brief stories of the people he met.
(Via Julie Turkewitz, The Atlantic)
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Posted by Charles II on November 17, 2012
Center for Budget Policy and Priorities has the skinny.
Minnesota, for example.
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Posted by Charles II on April 22, 2012
It is not widely appreciated, even in this country, that the US government haD an explicit policy of genocide toward Native Americans until the 1930s or that, after John Collier‘s service as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the policy reverted to one of erasing Native culture. A Native man of my acquaintance reported being kidnapped from his family and forced to attend a school hundreds of miles from his family–in the 1960s. And today, the reservations are, for the majority of Native Americans, places of hopelessness, deep poverty, drug trafficking, and violence.
Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian:
The UN is to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans, the first such mission in its history.
The human rights inquiry led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, is scheduled to begin on Monday.
Many of the country’s estimated 2.7 million Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas which are plagued with unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, incest and other social problems.
How this can go on in a nation which holds itself up as a beacon of liberty and justice is beyond me. That the UN has only gotten around to it at a time when the great nations, such as the Lakota and the Dene (Navajo) are at the edge of terminal decline is… well, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but only after thinking about it for a moment.
Posted in poverty, racism | 3 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on March 8, 2012
Paul Krugman linked a study by Laura Wheaton and Jamyang Tashi at The Urban Institute on poverty in America, with a focus on Minnesota.
The means by which poverty is measured by the US government are obsolete and inappropriate. The National Academy of Sciences developed a superior measure that includes in-kind income (like Food Stamps and school lunches) and adjusts for taxes, work-related costs, and medical expenses. For two adults and two children, poverty in Minnesota cities is income below $24,972. For urban areas, it is $20,593.
The good news, if that’s what one calls it, is that fewer children are in poverty than was thought. The bad news is that more elders are in poverty than was thought. It would cost about $1.5 B annually to end poverty in Minnesota. On the other hand, if benefits like Food Stamps and school lunches are cut back, the rise in desperate poverty (less than half of the poverty line) would rise considerably.
Posted in Minnesota, poverty | 4 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on February 14, 2012
Paul Krugman has reproduced an excellent chart from Aaron Carroll of the Incidental Economist (new, improved chart here), which shows how much more conservative states get from the federal government than they give in taxes (transfers/taxes). If you want it in bar chart form, Krugman has the inverse (taxes/transfers). But Carroll graphed it two dimensionally, with the x-axis being how conservative a state is, based on Gallup polling.
So no wonder conservatives think that “welfare” is a problem: they’re all a bunch of moochers!
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Posted by Charles II on January 24, 2012
Posted in poverty | 2 Comments »
Posted by Charles II on January 21, 2012
The Guardian has a truly remarkable set of photos of homeless people by Lee Jeffries.
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Posted by Charles II on January 11, 2012
The headline at DemocracyNow blared Child Malnutrition Soars in India:
New figures show child malnutrition in India has reached more than 40 percent, almost double the rate of sub-Saharan Africa. The figures contrast with India’s global image as a beacon of economic development. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said child hunger is a matter of “national shame.”
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: “The problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame. Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high. We have also not succeeded in reducing this rate fast enough. What concerns me and what must concern all enlightened citizens is that 42 percent of our children are still underweight. This is an unacceptably high occurrence.”
Now, 42% underweight children is not good, especially considering the rise in Indian GDP. But there is a difference between underweight and actual malnourishment, and there’s a real question as to whether malnutrition is increasing or simply decreasing much too slowly. One of the better sources I found was Agence France Press in Dawn, a Pakistani paper. It adds this context:
The research found the proportion of under-fives who are underweight had declined 11 percentage points in seven years, but Singh said it remained “unacceptably high” at 42 per cent.
Rohini Mukherjee, from the Naadi Foundation, one of NGOs that produced the report, said the wealth created in a country estimated to have 57 billionaires last year had not trickled down fast enough to the impoverished masses.
Measured by the prevalence of malnutrition, India is “doing worse than sub-Saharan Africa,” she said, echoing observations made by UN children’s agency Unicef.
This is despite the world’s biggest government programme for early childhood development, called the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme, which is seen as riddled with corruption and inefficiency.
One of the findings in the new research was that malnourished children in India were rarely hungry, merely badly fed due to widespread ignorance about nutrition among Indian parents.
“It is very clear that in Africa (malnutrition) is a result of absolute poverty. They are starving,” Mukherjee said.
“In our case, to me it seems it is about eating and feeding practices. We have a big gap there.
One of the big problems is that colostrum is regarded as either impure or to be given as a religious sacrifice. Kids are not getting enough protein.
Just a reminder that one should read all media, not just corporate media, skeptically. In this case, it’s pretty clear that India needs better management of its food programs, with a greater fraction devoted to education of parents. Just dumping more money into the program will not be as helpful as better leadership.
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Posted by Charles II on January 10, 2012
Via Atrios, the latest atrocity from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett:
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has announced a major assault on the food stamp program that feeds 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, including 439,245 in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare announced that on May 1, people under 60 with more than $2,000 in savings or other assets will be barred from receiving food stamps. People over 60 would have a $3,250 cap.
…30 percent of those eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania don’t receive them. According to federal data, the Inquirer notes, Pennsylvania has a fraud rate of just one-tenth of 1 percent.
…Pennsylvania will now create the most bizarre of disincentives: dissuading poor people from saving.
[Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman Anne] Bale said DPW estimated that 2 percent of the 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps would be affected by the asset test.
Food-stamp caseworkers must be trained to ascertain proof of assets from food-stamp recipients, and computers will have to be reprogrammed, said Jean Daniel, a USDA spokeswoman. That can be quite costly, she and others said.
In Pennsylvania, people can access SNAP if they make 160 percent of the federal poverty level or less. For a family of four, the poverty level is $22,350.
Individual states administer SNAP [Food Stamp] programs and are permitted to apply asset tests as long as the minimum amount of assets is set no lower than $2,000.
So, to summarize: (according to the Corbett Administration), only 2% of recipients will be affected. To prevent 36,000 people from getting ca. $125-$150 in monthly food assistance, we must install an audit system to surveil 1.8 million people. This will cost more money than it will “save” (“save” being a euphemism for shifting costs onto churches, families, and the community or just outright starving people). Meanwhile almost a million Pennsylvanians who qualify for food stamps are suffering rather than put up with the indignity we impose on people for being poor. Even most of the savings to the state are illusory, because of the federal component to SNAP.
I try not to overuse the “Republicans as cancer” label, keeping in mind that they are people, even if badly deluded people. But what does one say about something like this? It is behavior so lacking in basic sense and compassion that it is very difficult to see any humanity in it. .
Posted in poverty, Republicans as cancer | 2 Comments »