Hello, readers! For this News Roundup, I’m catching up a bit, but there are a few newer stories for this month.
Table of Contents
Here are the stories I have curated for this week:
- G20 Summit
- Syria News
- Lula de Silva
- NRA Ad
- Monsignor Behaving Badly
- 19-year-old’s Encounter with Police in Burbank, CA
- Venus Williams
Commentary: Shmaltz’s Pick
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In International News …
I’m catching up on a couple of stories and sharing one that is developing in Brazil.
The G20 Meeting Happened Earlier This Month …
The G20 Meeting started on Friday, June 30, 2017. And much was made of the handshake between the Trump and Putin.
Trump and Putin Met for the First Time at the G20 Conference.
After Trump and Putin met at the conference, a tentative ceasefire in Syria was agreed upon. The meeting between the two also focused on allegations that Putin had interfered in the U.S. 2016 presidential election. Putin said Trump accepted assurances that Putin had not done so.
However, the days leading up to the state of the G20 conference in Hamburg, Germany, some former U.S. officials told the press Trump was considering “deliverables” ahead of a potential talk with Putin. According to these officials, Trump was considering easing some of the sanctions Obama had placed on Russia in retaliation for Russia’s alleged role in the 201 U.S. Presidential Election. Among the things Obama did was to evict Russian officials from two diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York and to expel 35 Russian diplomats.
White House aides were opposed to the lifting of sanctions, and any other coordinated meeting between Trump and Putin. At most, they would accept an aside by the two leaders. Rex Tillerson in particular felt burned after arranging a meeting with Trump, Russia Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov, and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. After that meeting, some information was leaked.
Ivanka Trump Acted as a Professional Seat Filler.
During the G20 conference, Ivanka Trump featured prominently, for an unelected official. While her father stepped away to talk to the Indonesian president, Ms. Trump took her father’s seat in between the British Prime Minister (Theresa May) and the Chinese President (Xi Jinping). And while Mr. Trump was away, there was a discussion on African migration and health.
Previously on Saturday, July 8, Ivanka Trump attended the event on women’s entrepreneurship and finance. Also there were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde, the director of the International Monetary Fund. Ms. Trump had previously appeared with the women at a women’s summit in Berlin in April.
Of Course, There Were Protests.
There were roughly 100,000 protesters in Berlin protesting the G20 Summit. This is regular fare, since protesters are largely opposed to the idea that only 20 people in the world are responsible for what happens in it. Many were opposed to specific issues, like Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s power grab his crackdown on dissent.
There was violence during the protests, as around 8,000 demonstrators clashed with police. Most protesters were peaceful, and other say the protesters engage with police were most likely provoked.
A Ceasefire Agreement in Southwestern Syria Was Reached in Early July.
As U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked at the G20 Summit, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced both countries came to an agreement with Jordan on a ceasefire in southwest Syria. The immediate goal of the agreement was to stop pro-Syrian forces from engaging with forces backed by the U.S. in the region so the latter could focus on fighting against Daesh.
There were few details on the agreement, but Jordan’s Minister of State for Media Affairs, Mohammed Momani, announced it was set to take effect at noon on Sunday, July 8.
Tillerson said if this ceasefire were to hold, it could serve as a template for other regions in Syria. However, he also stated that the U.S.’s stance on the future of Syria didn’t change. The U.S. would ultimately like to see Assad and members of his family removed from power in the country.
There are other things to consider moving forward. While Syria, which is being aided by Russia, Iran, Iraqi forces, and Hezbollah, now controls Aleppo and is regaining other parts of the country, Kurdish forces are controlling parts in the north. It remains to be seen what will happen after ISIS is defeated in Syria, but even if the Kurds keep the territory they’ve taken, Turkey sees them as terrorists and the two sides are currently engaged in combat.
Former Brazilian President Lula de Silva Was Convicted.
On Wednesday, July 12, former Brazilian president Luiz Ignacio Lula de Silva was convicted and sentenced to 9 ½ years in prison for his purported role in a petro scandal. Lula de Silva was accused of taking in 3.7 million reais ($1.2 million)* worth of bribes from engineering firm OAS SA in return for his help in winning contracts from Petroleo Brasileiro, the state oil company.
Lula will appeal this conviction. That process will last 8 months, but it is expected this conviction will be upheld.
Lula was first elected to the presidency in 2003 and he was forced to leave office 6 years ago under the shadow of the Pretrobas scandal, yet he had an 83% approval rating at the time.
Lula’s lawyears and lawmakers from his Workers Party have argued that this trial was part of a political witch hunt.
Shortly after leaving office, he helped to get his ideological successor, Dilma Rousseff, elected. She was impeached last year after being accused of breaking budgetary rules. She called that ouster a coup by her former vice president (current President Michel Temer), who is currently facing charges of corruption.
Lula has been a leader on the left for over 3 decades and he was considering a run for president in 2018. Lula’s absence will leave a void on the left.
* Note: ($1 = 3.22 reais)
In National News …
The NRA released an incendiary ad.
A Poorly Though-out NRA Ad Gains Attention.
In the month of June, the National Rifle Association released an inflammatory ad that featured clips from violent protests across the country. The video was narrated by NRA spokeswoman and conservative commentator Dana Loesch, who also appeared in the ad.
The message in the one-minute spot was aimed at conservatives but eluded to the “resistance” against Republican President Donald Trump. Basically, Loesch (and the NRA) were painting the left as a bunch of violent radicals who wanted to punish the right for Trump’s ascension.
The ad was met with backlash, from conservatives and liberals.
Despite the responses, Loesch doubled down on her harsh criticism of liberals. She said “the language of the left is violence” and she called protestors against Trump “the dullest crayons in the box.” (As if that NRA ad was the work of geniuses.)
Why Did the NRA Decide to Release Such an Ad?
Here’s a possible reason:
As it turns out, gun sales from November 2016 to May 2017 fell off from the same period a year ago. According to a forecast from American Outdoor Brands Corp., which owns Smith & Wesson, shares will be lower than expected. A look at background checks also eludes to slower gun sales since November.
Eight years ago, guns sales soared due to the election of Barack Obama, amid a perceived threat he posed to gun ownership. Gun sales remained high throughout his presidency. However, as Trump ran, he expressed his support for gun ownership.
In Regional News …
This week, I’m sharing two regional stories: One from the Vatican and another from Burbank, CA.
A Cardinal’s Assistant Was Caught Hosting a Gay, Drug-Filled Priest Orgy.
On July 5, Il Fatto Quotidiano (an Italian newspaper) reported that police broke up a drug-fueled, gay-sex priest orgy. Local residents called the authorities after reporting a “steady stream of young men” who were coming and going from an apartment at the Ex Sant’Uffizio Palace formerly inhabited by Joseph Ratzinger, a Cardinal who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
The apartment — which is owned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Father and is sometimes called the Palace of Holy Office — was Capozzi’s residence. The palace is the home to dozens of high-ranking cardinals. It’s within walking distance of the Roman Curia in Vatican City.
As it turns out, the orgy was held by Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, a 50-year-old aide to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio.* Once found out, Capozzi was taken by the guards to a detox center in the hills of Rome at the Ex Sant’Uffizio Palace. He faces misdemeanor drug charges, but he will not face sex charges because all the men involved in his orgy were of age.
Pope Francis “was infuriated” after he heard about the orgy.
There have been at least 2 other gay orgies held by members of the clergy since 2015. That year, another 50-year-old, a priest in southern Italy, was caught and suspended for his gay orgies. Early this year, a priest from Naples was suspended for similar allegations.
There are other members of the clergy facing sex charges. For example, Cardinal George Pell (the pope’s finance czar) is facing sex abuse charges based on allegations during his time as a priest in Australia.
* Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmeria is the president of congregations which include the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Text is charged with deciphering and clarifying various points of canon law. The cardinal was appointed to his position by Pope Benedict in 2007 and has served as a key papal advisor since. Coccopalmerio plans to retire next year, since he will be 80 years old by then. Retirement based on age is customary.
A 19-Year-Old Was Attacked by Police in a Case of Mistaken Identity.
On Father’s Day (June 18) 2017, Tatyana Hargrove had been riding her bike in order to pick up a gift for her father, but it was a hot day in Bakersfield, California. She stopped in the shade near an apartment complex in order to take a drink. That’s when the 19-year-old noticed three police cars.
Hargrove was soon accosted by police officers. One officer already had his gun drawn and the police were accompanied by a K-9. That officer demanded that Hargrove hand over her backpack and motioned toward the K-9 when Hargrove asked if the officers had a warrant.
Even though Hargrove handed over her handbag, the first officer and the K-9 quickly attacked her. That officer grabbed the young woman by the wrist, punched her in the mouth, and threw her to the ground. Then the dog attacked one of her legs.
As Hargrove was on the ground, the same officer who punched her put one of his knees on her back. He placed the other knee against her head, despite her calls for help.
Hargrove yelled out, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” She legitimately feared for her life.
The other officer tied Hargrove’s hands behind her back and tied her feet together. He then threw her in the back of his squad car. According to the report filed by the arresting officer, Christopher Moore, he asked Hargrove for her name and when she answered, he did not believe her when she told him she was a female.
Hargrove had to be hospitalized for her injuries. When she was taken to the hospital, she said the nurses there referred to her as a male, until they were corrected.
It turns out Hargrove was mistaken for a male suspect. The suspect in question was a 5’10 bald black man between 25-30 years of age who weighed about 170 pounds. He was carrying a machete and waving it at people at a nearby grocery store and may have ran to the apartment complex where Tatyana Hargrove was spotted. She is only 5’2 and weighs 115 pounds “soaking wet,” according to her father.
Despite this mistake, Hargrove was taken to the police station and detained for 16 hours. She had been arrested for resisting or delaying an officer and aggravated assault on an officer. She had to be bailed out for her parents.
Hargrove shared her account of the incident in a video which was posted on the Facebook page for a local chapter of the NAACP. Hargrove’s parents, who were not named, also gave interviews which were featured in the video.
A document uploaded by The Washington Post’s Amy Wang contains reports filed by officers Randy Petris, Tyler Beeson, Jose Diaz, and Christopher Moore. Most of the reports detail what the officers did after they were called to a local grocery store in response to a man carrying a machete.
Moore’s report covers what happen when he and another officer (Senior Officer G. Vasquez) encountered Tatiyana Hargrove. Vasquez is the one who punched Hargrove and placed his knees on her back and head. Moore is the one who unleashed the K-9 on her and tied her hands and feet. Moore claimed the K-9 was the best option (instead of his baton and Taser) because he risked accidently harming Vasquez if he used the other two options.
Moore claimed that Hargrove had “spun into” of the officers with her left shoulder and caused the officer to fall backward. The police report also said Hargrove “quickly maneuvered her body to get back on top of” the officer after she had been punched in the face.
In Entertainment News …
I just want to update you on Venus Williams’ legal situation.
It Looks Like Venus Williams Has Been Cleared.
During the first week of the Wimbledon Championships, a cloud hung over Venus Williams’ head. She was accused of causing the deal of a 78-year-old man and when asked about the evidence at a press conference, she broke down.
Initially, the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department in Florida assessed blame to Venus Williams for the June 9, 2017 car accident that resulted in the death of Jerome Barson. The conclusion the police came to was in part aided by multiple eyewitness accounts. However, the police changed their assessment after reviewing video evidence.
As it turns out, video taken from near the intersection seems to corroborate Ms. Williams’ account.
At around 1:10 pm (local time) on June 9, Venus Williams had a green light when she entered an intersection. However, she paused in order to avoid a Nissan Altima, which turned right in front of her. Williams was driving at 5 mph.
When 68-year-old Linda Barson, the driver of a Hyndai Accent, had a green light, she plowed into Williams’ 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV. Barson’s car hit Williams’ SUV on the passenger side. Jerome Barson, who was 78 years old, had to be hospitalized after his main arteries were severed; he died two weeks later. Linda Barson suffered a cracked sternum and a broken wrist. Williams was uninjured.
Venus Williams still has to deal with a lawsuit brought against her and filed in a Palm Beach County circuit court by the estate of Jerome Barson. However, this new evidence is beneficial to Williams in that case because it would show she had acted with reasonable conduct. Lawyers for Barson have to prove that Williams was negligent but it would seem that Linda Barson was negligent in this case.
Commentary: Shmaltz’s Pick
Some days ago, I finally got around to reading another post from CalicoJack entitled, “Rape Culture: Yes, It Is All Men, the Right Situation.” Jack goes over the topic with his patented gusto and sauce, but he does the topic justice. This post is part of a continuing series and I want more people to read it and understand the psychology behind the situation.
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