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Sexual abuse of minors in Catholic Churches: expelling the demons within the system 70 years too late

During the last couple of decades, the world has evolved at a staggering pace. From technological and economic advancements to diplomatic tensions and pandemics, humans have been witnesses of unprecedented events. These circumstances have affected people in different ways. Despite the scope and effect of different affairs, a large proportion of citizens, regardless of their origin, have sought closure and devoted themselves to living in accordance with religious beliefs. 

The real demons were inside the Churches:

Many institutions collapsed or were revamped as they faced the challenges of modern society, however the Catholic Church has failed to expel the demons which were residing inside their sacred places. Today, it is estimated that 1.3 billion people are Catholic, making Catholicism, as part of Christianity, one of the largest religious populations of the world. Today, the Catholic Church asks for forgiveness of its followers as the nightmares conducted within its structures during the past 70 years come to light. 

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) has released a report in early October which, in its 2500 pages, reveals how around 216,000 children in France were sexually abused by the members of the French Catholic clergy since 1950. Additionally, the victim number increased to around 330,000 when lay members of the Church were included. The report identifies around 2,900 and 3,200 abusers who worked in the French Catholic Church in the past 70 years. To put it simply and concurrently terrifying, the Catholic Church has been the most dangerous environment for minors in the past 70 years.

The systematic abuse of minors:

The president of the commission, Jean-Marc Sauvé, stated how the Church has covered up these crimes, showing indifference and negligence towards the systemic abuse of minors. Not only that but the state itself, despite its freedom, equality, and fraternity, has proven the political influence the Catholic Church has in France given its decision to abstain in terms of enforcing bills that might have impacted these horrific events. 

The estimation regarding the number of abused children has been based on national surveys in accordance with different national institutes and polling agencies. Also, a public call was set up for victim testimonies through which several thousand people have reported how they have been abused. 

“Sexual abuse in religious institutions was an open secret, but the very scope was unimaginable”

Despite other investigations disclosed in countries such as the United States, Ireland, Germany, Australia, etc, this report comes in as an earthquake because of the sheer number of victims and perpetrators. It could be argued how sexual abuse in religious institutions was a sort of an open secret, but the very scope was unimaginable. The conversation regarding sexual abuse has been ongoing for so long that it feels like old news, and it certainly feels so for the perpetrators who believe they will receive their holy communion. What is even worse, the end product is always the same. The clergy is shocked, citizens are in disbelief. Days go by and the modus operandi remains intact. And the situation is always much worse than what it manifests.

Let us not ignore the bravery of those who have testified against their perpetrators. Some of them have been victims more than half a century ago. Today, they are regular citizens, just like you and I, performing regular citizens’ duties, only with a psychological trauma that scarred them for life. As we have been oblivious to these issues, so have the perpetrators and the members of the Church, conceiving themselves to stand outside of moral boundaries and ignoring the suffering through which the victims are going through to this day. 

The importance of addressing the internal structure of the Church:

Previous investigations have rarely put emphasis on the importance of addressing the internal structure of the Church. It has taken long enough to realize that the veil of silence has spread like a disease throughout all the ranks of its hierarchy, proving how the fundamental pillars of the Church are rotten and in need of revision.

Pope Francis acknowledges that this is a moment of shame for the Catholic Church. It should not stop there, however. Not only does the Church need restructuring, but it also needs to provide answers to its followers. Those who have, as mentioned in the beginning, believed in what the Catholic Church stood for and for the sense of security and affiliation it has consequently provided. 

It is difficult to put on paper the emotions and sense of aversion this kind of news evokes in people. The Church was hiding its systemic sexual abuse of minors, putting the institution in front of the individual. But is not the Christian belief that people are made in the image of God and should possess sacred dignity which must be respected? “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, the sixth commandment states. The question thus arises, how will the abusers and those who have stayed silent atone for their sins?    

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Holding the line: Maria Ressa’s Nobel prize is a watershed moment in her fight to uphold press freedom in the Philippines

When veteran journalist Maria Ressa became the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, the historic moment was immediately greeted with overwhelming joy across the Southeast Asian nation and lauded by many as a ‘rebuke’ to President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated attacks against members of the press. But even as congratulatory messages poured in, the president and his allies remained silent. 

It wasn’t until three days later when a presidential spokesperson belatedly congratulated Ressa for her win, deeming it “a victory for a Filipina he was happy to see.”

Ressa, who in 2012 co-founded Rappler – a Manila-based digital news outlet known for its openly critical stance toward President Duterte and his hardline policies, including his controversial war on drugs, was named a 2021 Nobel laureate alongside Russian investigative reporter Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, a precondition for democracy and lasting peace in a world where freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”  

Both are the first working journalists to receive the prestigious award since German editor Carl von Ossietzky in 1935, one of the foremost critics of political development in Nazi Germany during the inter-war years.

A thorn in Duterte’s side

Rappler’s outspoken coverage of the litany of alleged corruption scandals, misinformation campaigns and human rights abuses beleaguering the Philippines quickly emerged as a persistent thorn in the strongman president’s side since assuming office in 2016. 

Duterte, who in July was among the 37 world leaders in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2021 ‘press freedom predators’ list, has been crossing paths with Ressa since his first tenure as Davao City mayor in 1988. 

It was only in early 2019, however, when Ressa began to face multiple arrests and criminal charges over purported cases of “cyber libel” and for violating laws barring the foreign ownership of media. The arrests sent shockwaves through the Philippine media scene and drew international condemnation, with press freedom advocates describing it as direct ‘retaliation’ to Rappler’s sharp criticism of Duterte. 

But even amid growing political oppression, Ressa remained steadfast in her sense of mission – standing up for truth.         

“When you don’t have facts, you don’t have truth, you don’t have trust,” Ressa said in a live conversation with Rappler shortly after her Nobel prize win. “Trust is what holds us together to be able to solve the complex problems our world is facing today.”

‘Unbecoming and unworthy’

Still, not everyone was ecstatic over the news of Ressa’s win. As one opinion columnist of The Manila Times put it, the Nobel prize committee’s decision to award the journalist was a “huge insult” to Filipinos – one that likened the country to having a “cowardly citizenry” and a “brutal dictator in power.” 

On social media, where the dissemination of ‘fake news’ and misinformation run rampant, supporters of President Duterte and internet trolls flooded Rappler’s Facebook Live feed with insults, vomit-face emojis and far-reaching allegations – with some netizens even calling Ressa’s win “unbecoming” and the “saddest news of the century.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, was quick to downplay public criticism of threats to press freedom, saying Ressa’s Nobel prize was proof such freedoms are “alive” in the country and that “no one has ever been censored in the Philippines.” 

Shining the light

Maria Ressa’s tireless, unwavering commitment to uphold press freedom in the face of unrelenting opposition is truly a force to be reckoned with. In a country where the media find themselves increasingly under threat, Ressa has become an inspiring symbol at the forefront of the fight for greater press freedom. Her historic Nobel prize win is a call to action for journalists everywhere – a needed reminder of having the courage to “hold the line” during challenging, hostile times.

So, in the words of Ressa: “We are journalists, and we will not be intimidated. We will shine the light. We will hold the line.”

China launches the Beijing stock exchange

Last November 15th China officially launched the Beijing Stock Exchange (BSE). The country has now three Stock Exchange markets after setting up one in Shanghai in 1990 and one in Shenzhen in 1991.

How does BSE work?

BSE is the start of an official Stock Exchange, but it starts with some accumulations. It is transferred from the “New Third Board”, referring to the National Equities Exchange and Quotation (NEEQ) board, an existing stock trading system in Beijing that lists cheaper stocks of smaller companies. Companies currently listed on the NEEQ Select (the top tier of NEEQ) will be moved over to the Beijing stock exchange once trading begins. Meanwhile, companies listed on NEEQ Innovation, the exchange’s second-tier board, can apply to be listed on the Beijing stock exchange, provided they have been listed on the NEEQ Innovation board for at least 12 months and meet other requirements. 

There are some rules of the BSE that differ from the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges. For example, the BSE’s stocks can have a price fluctuation of 30% after the first issue day which is about 10% more flexible than the Shanghai and Shenzhen ones. 

As for investors, individuals can invest if they have securities valued at ¥500,000, while the agencies have no capital requirements. However, in order to invest in the innovation board, a minimum of ¥1 million is required.

What issues is the BSE expected to tackle?

According to President Xi, the BSE is set up to complement the current two Stock Exchanges by offering a market where Small and Medium Enterprises can get investments. Nowadays, many Chinese SMEs are trapped in their financial situation. Specially, since Covid-19 struck the world, areas such as transportation and consumption have been seriously affected, forcing the SMEs that lacked the resources and finances to adapt to this brutal change to close down. A large root from this problem stems from the fact that banks refuse to lend loans to these weaker SMEs, despite the fact that the Chinese government has set up policies to urge the banks to do so. Now, due to the establishment of the BSE, SMEs will have a platform designed for them to get money to develop their business. 

Many wonder why SMEs can not go public through the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchange. These two Stock Exchanges have set strict rules for companies to IPO. For instance, the Shanghai Stock Exchanges’ main board  requires the company to earn over  ¥30 million for a total of 3 years before IPO, which is a harsh requirement for most SMEs.

Strategic goals of BSE:

The establishment of BSE is a part of Xi’s vision of “common prosperity.”  An effective way to minimize the gap between the rich and poor is to enlarge the middle class who are mostly shareholders of the SMEs. At the same time, the middle class will be the major consumers of products that can boost the market. Therefore, when the middle class grows larger and has stronger purchasing power, “common prosperity” will be reached.  

At the same time, regional economic inequalities are severe in China between the North and South. Both Shenzhen and Shanghai Stock Exchanges in China are in the south, as are most prosperous city groups. Therefore, the North of China is always considered as not financially developed. Setting up the BSE in the North (Beijing) is expected to promote the economy of the Northern areas and change the unequal situation.

The day a country was set free

Nelson Rolihlala Mandela was released from Victor-Verster prison on the 11th of February 1990 in what would be one of the most significant days in South African History. With his wife by his side and fist, a symbol of fortitude and resilience raised high, the then 71 year old and “once most wanted man in Africa” marched into freedom as his country soon would. Apartheid was a period between 1948 and 1994 which saw the implementation of institutionalised racism under the National party. Its laws not only segregated the citizens of the now “Rainbow Nation” but it belittled people of colour to the point were they were not considered part of South Africa. They lived in “Bantustans” and had to carry passes that permitted them to work in the cities. A strikingly similar mirror to the injustices experienced in the Civil Rights Movement, Apartheid saw many atrocities, moments of heroism and the fighting spirit of an oppressed people.

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New research reveals glaciers are melting faster than expected – here’s what’s at stake in the fight against climate change

Over the past decade, mounting evidence of human-induced climate change has become, if anything, more apparent. While there has been some progress between nations’ ongoing efforts to slow the current rate of global warming, particularly through the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting warming to 1.5˚C, curbing the most extreme of weather phenomena battering many regions throughout the world today – such as wildfires, heatwaves, excessive precipitation, and rising sea levels – has proven to be immensely challenging.

Continue reading “New research reveals glaciers are melting faster than expected – here’s what’s at stake in the fight against climate change”

The future of Cryptocurrency

A rollercoaster of events:

In the past few months, the cryptocurrency market has been a rollercoaster of events. Bitcoin, after breaching the 60,000 USD mark mid-April and trading at an all time high of nearly 65 thousand, has now fallen to below 40,000 which marks a fall of more than 30% in value in the past 1 month. This highly volatile nature of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market in general makes the public question about what it has in store for the future. And in order to try to answer that, it is important for us to look into what it contributes to the world.

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The conflict between Israel and Palestine, an example of UN’s perpetual failures

Tensions escalating into violent clashes:

Almost two weeks have passed since the tensions between Israel and Palestine yet again escalated into violent clashes. The death toll reports at least 192 in the Gaza strip, including 58 children and 34 women. In what seems to be a continuing intensification of the conflict, countries around the world have spoken out, condemning the recent violence and expressing the importance of finding a solution in a diplomatic manner. 

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Eid 2021: Celebrations Fade Away As Oppression And Coronavirus Cast Ominous Shadows

Muslims around the world celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, one of their most sacred festivals, this year with masks, prayers, and empathy as widespread oppression and COVID-19 damage cast gloom over festivities, mass gatherings, and celebrations. 

For many Covid-hit countries, like Pakistan, Malaysia, India, and Indonesia, Eid was marked by curbs on social distancing, shop shutdowns, and even partial closures of some mosques. Yet, the number of those gathering for prayers was higher than in 2020 when worldwide lockdowns loomed over all regular events. 

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India- A Pandemic gone bad or a consistent Political Disaster?

Haridwar, a small town near the Himalayas, is considered by many Hindus to be one of the holiest places in India. The famous Kumbha Mela, which is a Hindu religious festival, was held in this holy city in the year 2021- a year that saw the second wave of coronavirus hit the country. Many healthcare experts foresaw this to be a super spreader including Prof. Ashsish Jha, the Dean of Public Health at Brown University who said that the shahi snans (communal bathing in the holy river Ganga) of the festival are ‘the biggest super-spreaders in the history of this pandemic’. The state of Uttarakhand, that is home to this town reported around 500 cases a day prior to the festival. By the end of the Mela, it produced 6000 cases a day. Dharamdasji, a religious leader who promoted the Kumbh Mela and sent hundreds of thousands of his followers to partake in this festival was of the opinion that ‘”Covid will come and go,” he said. “A festival for the gods cannot be stopped.” The chief minister of Uttarakhand said ‘Most importantly, Kumbh is at the bank of the River Ganga. Mother Ganga’s blessings are there in the flow. So, there should be no corona’

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