Vatican Bank ‘investigated over money-laundering’

Vatican City
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The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say. 

Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank’s accounts with another smaller institution. 

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome. 

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and astonished”, and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi. 

The Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), was created during World War II to administer accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests. 


Texas votes for textbook standards

Via TPM, Texas has voted for new textbook standards.

The board added a requirement that economics students “analyze the decline of the U.S. dollar including abandonment of the gold standard.” Students must also learn about Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, author of libertarian urtext The Road to Serfdom.

The famous clause requiring history students to “Describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association” remains in the standards, even after its author, Don McLeroy, lost his primary this month.

According to TFN: “the board stripped Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political revolutions from the 1700s to today. In Jefferson’s place, the board’s religious conservatives succeeded in inserting Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. They also removed the reference to ‘Enlightenment ideas’ in the standard, requiring that students should simply learn about the influence of the ‘writings’ of various thinkers (including Calvin and Aquinas).”

Texas tends to affect textbook makers in significant ways. The interesting thing here would be what other states choose to do. States like CA, NY, PA, are big enough to counter the effect of TX. If they choose not to follow similar standards, it would be interesting to see what publishers do.

Besides, there is a push to unify k-12 standards across the country and if many small states join the bigger states like CA and NY, then TX may become irrelevant. One may wonder if states like OK, AR, MS, LA, etc would go with TX. I think not. My feeling is that these states are trying desparately to attract industry and they are eager to show that they adhere to the best academic standards so that they can attract families of the highly educated types that would follow the high end industry, tech jobs. Of course, I speculate.

Places to Visit in the DC Area with Kids-Port Discovery

I’ve tested out the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore and absolutely recommend it without reservation.

There are three floors or total fun. I went on a weekend and even though it was busy, I never felt that it was crowded. There was enough to do and you got the feeling that if you waited long enough, you could get do whatever you wanted to do.

It is located in the general vicinity of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor so it makes for a great day visit to the general Baltimore area.

Afghan Pig Quarantined

Via Huffington Post:

In the latest ineffective effort to protect people from swine flu, Afghanistan has quarantined its one and only pig, Reuters reports. The pig — which had spent it days grazing beside deer and goats in a Kabul zoo — is now locked away in a room by itself.

The pig is a curiosity in Muslim Afghanistan, where pork and pig products are illegal because they are considered irreligious, and has been in quarantine since Sunday after visitors expressed alarm it could spread the new flu strain.

I wonder what the metaphor for excessive wasteful government spending is in Afghanistan.

Visiting southcentral and southwest Missouri

Having now driven the length of the southern tier of Missouri I find the state fascinating as anyone exposed to a state for the first time would. Not exactly first trip, but first real driving trip.

First, I drove down I-44 which is what connects St Louis on the east to Springfield in the south central part of the state. Everyone seemed to pity the fact that I had to endure this, “the crazy traffic.” I later got to figure out that the problem, or at least part of the problem, was the presence of trucks on a 70 mile/hour highway. To be honest, it was quite a smooth ride. But of course, a decade of the Washington beltway and it is hard to get intimidated by any stretch of highway. The only place that potentially intimidates me, driving-wise, is New York city.

img_0220I did not get to visit Springfield like I would have, however, I did get to eat at local spot called Buckingham’s which is a barbecue joint. It rocked. I knew it was the real deal when the cook called out to me to wait and he brought my toast over bare handed, no glove or pretentiousness. I loved it.

So that’s a half-rack, with fried okra, toast, and horseradish coleslaw. I did not care for the horseradish coleslaw, but the rest was awesome and reasonably priced.

The next trip was to Joplin which is in the soutwest corner of the state. Driving down the main street in Joplin reminded me of main street in Buffalo. Clearly there was thriving industry at some point, but there was a sense of desolation, almost ghosttown-like. Ghosttown, it is not though, with over 49,000 people and with the general metropolitan area at 177,000, it is definitely a densly populated area.

 I’m not sure why I expected Joplin in the southwest to be the mirror image of Cape Girardeau in the southeast, but they are clearly different in culture and appearance. The people in Jopline were warm and very interested in sharing Joplin history. However, did not get to sample the local fare, which is a must the next time around.