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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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
Via BBC, the internet is in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize:
The internet is among a record 237 individuals and organisations nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The number of nominations surpasses last year’s record of 205 nominations.
The internet’s nomination has been championed by the Italian version of Wired magazine for helping advance “dialogue, debate and consensus”.
The director of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, told BBC News that the organisation had received “thousands of nominations” for the coveted prize.
“Some were nominated by one person, others by 10, others by 100,” he said.
The secretive organisation does not release the list of nominees, but nominators sometimes announce their choices.
Via BBC, President Yar’Adua has reappeared ending months of silence and specuation that he had passed away.
Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua has spoken publicly for the first time since going into hospital in Saudi Arabia in November for heart treatment.
In his first interview since then, he told the BBC by telephone that he was recovering and hoped with “tremendous progress” to resume his duties.
His long absence and speculation over his health have led to calls for him to hand over power to his vice-president.
And then there this awesome Onion piece on experts discussing the Nigerian situation.
Senator Kerry had a great opinion piece on the Iran situation a couple of days ago in the New York Times:
THE grass-roots protests that have engulfed Iran since its presidential election last week have grabbed America’s attention and captured headlines — unfortunately, so has the clamor from neoconservatives urging President Obama to denounce the voting as a sham and insert ourselves directly in Iran’s unrest.
No less a figure than Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, has denounced President Obama’s response as “tepid.” He has also claimed that “if we are steadfast eventually the Iranian people will prevail.”
Mr. McCain’s rhetoric, of course, would be cathartic for any American policy maker weary of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hostile message of division. We are all inspired by Iran’s peaceful demonstrations, the likes of which have not been seen there in three decades. Our sympathies are with those Iranians who seek a more respectful, cooperative relationship with the world. Watching heartbreaking video images of Basij paramilitaries terrorizing protesters, we feel the temptation to respond emotionally.
There’s just one problem. If we actually want to empower the Iranian people, we have to understand how our words can be manipulated and used against us to strengthen the clerical establishment, distract Iranians from a failing economy and rally a fiercely independent populace against outside interference. Iran’s hard-liners are already working hard to pin the election dispute, and the protests, as the result of American meddling. On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry chastised American officials for “interventionist” statements. Government complaints of slanted coverage by the foreign press are rising in pitch.
We can’t escape the reality that for reformers in Tehran to have any hope for success, Iran’s election must be about Iran — not America. And if the street protests of the last days have taught us anything, it is that this is an Iranian moment, not an American one.
I was dissappointed that Kerry was not made Sec of State but he has carved out quite a role as Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and is using a lower profile to make signigicant impact. Kerry is viewed on the world stage, not so much as a rock star like Hilary Clinton, but a heavy weight and as a result he’s able to make things happen.