Vatican Bank ‘investigated over money-laundering’

Vatican City
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Via BBC

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. 

Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman

John Henry Newman, when he preached his first ...
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John Henry Newman has now been declared Blessed, a step up from Venerable. I imagine the next move is towards canonization or sainthood and then after that, there’ll probably be a push to name him Doctor of the Church. John Allen at National Catholic Reporter has a bunch of interesting links.

Sarrazin–Germany being “dumbed down” by Turks and Kurds

Via WaPo:

BERLIN – The most talked about man in Germany is a 65-year-old economist whose hot new book and sudden groundswell of popular support have the media dubbing him a folk hero. But that is not the only thing they are calling Thilo Sarrazin these days.

Some are also calling him dangerous. Sarrazin, a board member of the German Central Bank until he resigned under pressure Thursday, has divided the nation by postulating the theory that Germany is being “dumbed down” by Muslim immigrants and their children. Wielding statistics and scientific arguments both in his book and in public comments, he delves into territory largely taboo here since the Holocaust, suggesting that “hereditary factors” are at least partly to blame. Turks and Kurdish immigrants, he asserts, are genetically predisposed to lower intelligence than Germans and other ethnic groups, including Jews.

His statements have shocked many in Germany not only because of a national sensitivity to anything remotely smacking of genetic superiority claims in the post-World War II era. What has also shocked many is that so many Germans have rallied to his side as the central bank and his political party have sought to oust him for his pronouncements.

The article says most of his backers are distancing themselves from the heredity statement, but they love the other part, as though there is a fine demarcation between the racist aspect of this and the non-racist part, if there is one.

The sickening part is that this guy is being embraced as a “folk hero” for saying things people want to say but are afraid to.

The story gets weirder:

German-Jewish groups, for instance, are among Sarrazin’s staunchest critics, calling him a dangerous racist. Though Sarrazin has spoken positively of Jews, saying they have “high IQs,” he courted controversy after declaring in an Aug. 29 interview that “all Jews share a certain gene.” In fact, observers here say that the official outcry against Sarrazin – including the move to expel him from the board of the central bank – would have been far more muted had he simply stuck to his generalizations about Muslims.

But by generalizing about Jewish genetics, albeit positively, Sarrazin also “crossed a red line,” said Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable with the history here that such a large amount of people follow what he says,” Kramer said. “The lesson of the Holocaust is not just about Jews, but that human dignity is indivisible. Yet now, they react if there is a genetic comment about Jews, but not if it’s about the Roma or the Turks. We obviously still have some homework to do.”

Part of the propaganda against the Jews in the early Nazi years was the fact that their “hairsplitting” distinction making in academic matters was problematic. While much of the propaganda was dehumanizing, the success of Jews as prominent thinkers was also held against them. So saying the Jews have a high IQ does not erase the problem of this sort of ethnic categorization. This whole thing is downright creepy.

Vatican calls Iran stoning sentence brutal

Via NBC:

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Sunday raised the possibility of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to spare the life of an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

In its first public statement on the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, the Vatican also decried stoning as a particularly “brutal” form of capital punishment.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Catholic church opposes the death penalty in general.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging for adultery and other offenses.

One of the most important lessons of Jesus’ teaching, 2,000 years ago was on the occasion of a possible stoning of a woman for adultery. “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

Adultery, among most of the major religions is a sin, and one can make a good case for it being detrimental to society. But whatever it’s demerits, it does warrant stoning to death.

Update: Via BBC–the woman is to be whipped

Croatian Teenager Speaks Fluent German after Coma

Via ABC:

A Croatian teenager awoke from a coma last week to find she could no longer speak in her native Croatian — but was fluent in German, a language she had just started studying in school, the U.K. press reports.

Following a mysterious 24-hour coma, the thirteen-year-old girl from the southern town of Knin has been able to understand Croatian, according to the U.K. press. She can only respond in German and requires a translator to communicate with her family, the stories said.

Voluntary Chemical Castrations for Argentine Rapists

Via CNN:

Officials in Argentina’s Mendoza province have authorized chemical castration for rapists after a significant increase in sexual assaults last year.

Mendoza authorities convened a scientific legal committee and authorized the voluntary chemical castration by decree.

“By using medication that lowers the person’s sexual desire and with psychological treatment, the person can be reintroduced into society without being a threat,” Mendoza Governor Celso Jaque said.

Eleven convicted rapists in the province have agreed to the treatment in return for reduced sentences.

Several members of the legal committee said the treatment must be voluntary or it would violate international law and Argentina’s constitution.

This is one of things that makes you say, “wow”! I had never even considered this as a possibility. There’s something about the words “chemical” and “castration” that make this sound brutal. But this medication and counseling which make sense. I still think the idea that a less active libido makes them less than a threat is wrong. They aren’t compelled by desire to rape, they chose to act on the impulse. So releasing them into the public on the assumption that a lower libido makes them less likely to do something wrong is not the smartest thing. I think the psychological and rehabilitative measures must be very effective.

“Human Fish” help build Nigeria

Via BBC (Video):

In Nigeria, the quest for infrastructure growth seems never ending – especially in the financial capital Lagos.

The city is experiencing breakneck expansion and that means there is big money in sand.

So constructors have turned to men known as “human fish” who dive to the bottom of the sea to dredge the sand up.