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Fortnightly News Roundup 19th August – 2nd September 2018

Pope Francis General Audience 2018
By Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69021089
Pope Francis General Audience 2018
By Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69021089

Being well informed isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. In this feature, The Yorker is bringing you a fortnightly roundup of politics free national and international news. From the stories you’ve seen to some you might not have, this is everything you need to know from the past two weeks.


More trouble for the Pope?

Last week, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published an 11-page letter alleging that both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis knew about allegations that Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, U.S.A., sexually abused seminarians and priests, and that Francis knew about the abuse years before it became public. Archbishop Viganò claims that the Vatican hierarchy was complicit in covering up the allegations and that Benedict XVI sanctioned McCarrick, ordering him to retire to a life or prayer and penance. This banned him from travelling on official business, attending mass, or attending any public meetings. However, the letter claims that when Francis came to power in 2013, he lifted these sanctions and made McCarrick a trusted advisor. The letter raised various questions: were these sanctions actually imposed on the cardinal, did Pope Francis really know about allegations and then decided to cover it up; or, the alternative, is Archbishop Viganò is lying for some reason?


According to an article by The New York Times, Archbishop Viganò has aligned himself with powerful conservative groups within the Catholic church. The Times reports that they have tried to use the clerical sex abuse scandal to damage Francis and his agenda. They see his move for a more inclusive church, and his shift away from divisive issues like abortion, as abandoning the church’s rules and traditions. Moreover, the Archbishop and his allies blame the paedophilia in the church on the inclusion of gay people. As he wrote in his letter, “The homosexual networks present in the Church must be eradicated,” also claiming that they “strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations”. The Times also reported that at a gala dinner, Archbishop Viganò (at this point Pope Benedict’s top diplomat in the US), gave Cardinal McCarrick an award and said he was “very much loved from us all.” According to the Archbishop, as he said those words, he knew of the allegations against McCarrick.


So far, the pope has not confirmed or denied the allegations from Viganò but instead said, “I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.” He continued, “When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak.” However, until more evidence is released or new statements are made, the truth will remain unclear.

Rains ease in Kerala

In the Indian state of Kerala, 22,000 people were rescued as the monsoon rains eased. Since the monsoon started in June, 370 people have been killed, with the main cause of death has been landslides. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that 725,000 are in the over 5,000 relief camps. One local man told the BBC, “Big snakes are hiding in our home. I don’t know how I can take my children back. They had such fond memories of our house but now they are scared.” However, the relief commissioner of Kerala, PH Kurian, told the BBC that while over 200,000 people had been rescued, it could be a year before some people are able to get back to their homes.


22% of 14-year-old girls self-harm

A report by The Children’s Society has found that out of 11,000 14-year-old children surveyed, one in six reported that they had self-harmed. This included 9% of the boys’ surveys. The report also showed that almost half (46%) of those that said they were attracted to people of the same or both genders said they had self-harmed. Four in ten of these children had shown signs of depression (38%) and three in ten had low well-being (30%) – both compared with one in ten (11 per cent) of all children. Matthew Reed, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said, “It is deeply worrying that so many children are unhappy to the extent that they are self-harming.” He also said, “worries about how they look are a big issue, especially for girls, but this report shows other factors such as how they feel about their sexuality and gender stereotypes may be linked to their unhappiness.”


In their press release, The Children’s Society said “Children felt under pressure from friends to be good looking but those who felt boys should be tough and girls should have nice clothes were least happy with life. The report suggests that happiness with family relationships could be the best protection for children because it has the biggest positive influence on their overall well-being.” Matthew Reed added, “Issues like appearance, gender stereotypes and sexuality should be included in the new Relationships and Sex Education curriculum… ministers must urgently address the £2bn funding shortfall facing council children’s services departments by 2020.” The BBC reported that The Department of Health said it is investing an extra £300m to provide more mental health help in schools – including trained staff.


What else do you need to know?

In three states and one territory in Australia, priests will be legally required to report child abuse learned when in confession. The Catholic church has pushed back saying children will be less safe, not more.


In further #MeToo news, Asia Argento, dubbed ‘a #MeToo leader’, made a deal with her own accuser.


Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has reportedly been accused on sexual assault. He has denied the allegations.


In health news, the BBC reported that women at 75% of UK maternity units are being denied a Caesarean. Guidelines state that “a Caesarean should be offered” and that there does not need to be a medical reason. The charity that made this discovery is Birthrights, a human rights in childbirth charity. They said that sometimes women get the cost of the procedure quoted as a reason a Caesarean isn’t offered.


Hospital parking fees in Wales have been scrapped. A year after the policy was announced, all private car park contracts have come to an end and it is now free to park in all Welsh hospitals. Fees were scrapped for hospitals in Scotland in 2009, but Northern Ireland and England still charge for parking.


A new treatment for Asthma is to be made more widely available on the NHS.


After much campaigning, by the end of the year, women in England will be allowed to take the second abortion pill at home.


The government have begun a consultation on whether to ban the sale of energy drinks for under-18s.


Scotland is providing all students at schools, colleges, and universities with free menstrual products.


In international news, a U.N. report has said Myanmar’s top military commanders should face trial in an international court for genocide against Rohingya Muslims.


A U.N. panel found evidence of torture, rape, and other war crimes in Yemen. They singled out Saudi and Emirati airstrikes as causing the most civilian casualties, but also suggested that Houthi rebels were at fault for some crimes, singling out the use of child soldiers. However, the report said the Government of Yemen and the coalition-backed forces are also guilty of this.


Another earthquake struck the Indonesian island of Lombok. This time is had a magnitude of 5.1.


Drone footage has revealed the first images of an isolated Amazon tribe that had no known contact with the outside world.


Iran is complying with the 2015 international accord according to a confidential report by the U.N. atomic watchdog.


In TV news, Big Bang Theory will air its 12th and final season in 2019.


In lighter news, Palaeontologists have ID’d the world’s biggest known dinosaur foot.


A survey has found that 1 in 5 British vanilla ice creams don’t actually contain vanilla, cream, or fresh milk.


And finally

Do you want to see a goat in a jumper try to eat a chair?