Thursday, August 20, 2020

Pope questioned child abuse whistleblower

An Australian priest claimed he was summoned to the Vatican to be questioned by the Pope regarding his testimony against an archbishop accused of concealing child sexual abuse. Father Glen Walsh met with the pontiff in 2016, reports The Sydney Morning Herald, ahead of his testimony against Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson, accused of concealing allegations of sexual abuse of former altar boys in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese in the 1970s. After the meeting with Pope Francis, Cardinal George Pell was allegedly waiting outside, and lifted his hand for the priest to kiss his ring. Weeks before the archbishop's trial was set down, Walsh was allegedly told he had no future in the diocese. Just before he could give testimony, Walsh took his own life. Wilson was found guilty of concealment charges in May 2018 on evidence that included statements by Walsh, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Lifeline: 13 11 14

Victoria Police has issued just 42 fines to people for failing to self-isolate when directed to, despite the state government arguing large numbers of rule-breakers justify heavy fines. Premier Daniel Andrews announced on August 4 that fines would increase from $1652 to $4957, after 3000 doorknocks conducted by the Australian Defence Force and health officials found more than 800 people were not home. Victoria Police now says many people were initially recorded as not being at home because they had left their home for a permitted reason, their address details were incorrect or they did not answer the door. Those initially recorded as not at home were referred to police, who then used geolocation mobile tracking to determine if the person was at the given address.

The Western Australian government has set up a taskforce to review whether prisons are following the state’s suicide prevention strategy, after four Aboriginal deaths in jail in three months, reports Guardian Australia. It will also examine how private contractors are meeting terms of their prison contracts. Two deaths have occurred at Acacia prison, run by private contractor Serco, where a 19-year-old man took his own life in July, and a 40-year-old Indigenous man was found collapsed in June. The other deaths were at Roebourne regional prison in July and Melaleuca women’s prison last week, which authorities said appeared to be self-harm incidents. Lifeline: 13 11 14

Tens of thousands of people in California have been ordered to evacuate as 367 fires sweep across the state, choking the San Francisco Bay Area with smoke and causing rare fire tornadoes. Many of the fires started after 10,849 lightning strikes hit the state after an extreme heatwave that may have seen the hottest-ever temperature reliably recorded on Earth, when Death Valley hit a yet-to-be-verified 54.4C. It comes as the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay, is currently suffering its worst fires in more than two decades, with nearly 12 per cent of its vegetation reportedly already lost.


“Oxford University is using a chimpanzee adenovirus as a platform for the delivery of its vaccine candidate. Inside this common virus, which has been engineered so it can’t replicate in the human body, the researchers have inserted a full copy of the code for the spike protein that gives the coronavirus its crown of thorns.”


“The leaders of Japan and South Korea both marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the Pacific War at the weekend. Their speeches underlined the intractable nature of the stand-off between the two Western allies. These are Australia’s second-and fourth-largest trading partners, and the impasse between them is again threatening to unsettle the region.”


“The Guaia is three-and-a-half feet tall, with arms as long as she is high. The pads of her fingers are as dark and shiny as wet wood, and splayed like a tree frog’s. Her face is forever young yet strafed, all hollow and crag, sexless.”


“Australian shoppers — and politicians — may be about to get a very unpleasant cost-of-living shock. Coles supermarkets just reported its official results and buried below its impressive $930 million profit is some bad news: grocery prices are rising again -- faster than official inflation and faster than wages.  Prices at Coles rose 2.4% in the 2019-20 financial year, much faster than the 0.8% rise the year before, and well ahead of the wage price index which hit a record low of 1.8% in the most recent year.”


“We found if everyone ate like the average Australian, the 15% limit on the area for global croplands would be exceeded, albeit modestly. Reducing our intake of discretionary foods such as cakes, biscuits, pizza and hot chips is the best way to make our diets more sustainable … Processed foods often use a surprising amount of cropland. An apple might weigh 100 grams, but a small glass of apple juice might use 400 g of apples.”


“‘Cocoa rain in the Olten industrial quarter: the ventilation system is to blame,’ the translated tweet said. Twitter users quickly reacted to the news of a ‘chocolate snow,’ with many commenting that it may be among some of the only good news this year.”