I had no advance knowledge either of Evgeny Afineevsky’s documentary, Francesco, or the interview in it that contains Pope Francis’ new formulation of his earlier position on same-sex civil unions. However, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Anyone with any pastoral experience knows that in dealing with an individual’s personhood, you start from where they are. Given a very gay and very closeted episcopate in many countries, for whom serene and adult conversation about these things has, until recently, been almost impossible, the question has largely been: how long would it take for the basic good sense of the majority of Catholic people and what they have learned about human sexuality to percolate upwards so that senior clergy needn’t be frightened of it?… Seguir leyendo »
Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados a partir del 1 de Marzo de 2008.
On 18 October, the progressive candidate, Luis Arce, decisively won Bolivia’s presidential election, beating his nearest rival by about 20 points according to exit polls. His party, Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas), also apparently retained its majorities in both houses of congress.
It’s a remarkable turn of events. In November 2019 the Mas president, Evo Morales, was overthrown in a police-military coup that installed the rightwing evangelical Jeanine Áñez as president.
Security forces massacred dozens of unarmed Mas supporters. Regime opponents faced charges of “terrorism” and “sedition”. Racism against the indigenous majority became overt on the streets; Áñez’s caretaker cabinet originally included not one indigenous minister.… Seguir leyendo »
Venice’s flood sirens sing, piercing through the early morning fog. Metal bulkheads are in position, securing shops and grocery stores. Wooden walkways sneak through calli and salizade – our streets. Locals sport emergency rubber boots. These are routine acqua alta (high water) preparations. But on 3 October, for the first time in our city’s history, all of it was superfluous. The Adriatic waters that have been both curse and lifeblood to the city were held back. As Tommaso, a Venetian gondolier, exclaimed in dialect familiar to me from childhood (I grew up nearby): “Xe un miracoo!” – It is a miracle.… Seguir leyendo »
Tomorrow, the Israeli parliament will be voting on the agreement to normalise relations with the United Arab Emirates. A large majority will approve a hugely favourable step towards the Israeli government’s goals: perpetuating its systematic violations of international law and of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights. Those parliamentarians who believe in justice and equality are going to vote against this agreement. I’m afraid, though, that we are a tiny minority.
This week, we were given copies of the agreement, which I read in the three languages (Arabic, Hebrew and English) and figured out a few things. First of all, those who wrote it in different languages tailored it to their audiences.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2005, a proposal was put forward to build something lacking in this country – a national memorial to the victims of slavery that would also honour their contribution to the prosperity of Britain. The organisers of the project, named Memorial 2007 after the bicentenary of abolition of the British slave trade, felt it would be good to place it near the Houses of Parliament, the location where the laws were passed that both enabled the trade and eventually ended it.
They proposed to place it in Victoria Tower Gardens, a quiet green space just upriver from the Palace of Westminster that contains the Buxton memorial fountain, a Victorian Gothic structure named after the abolitionist MP, Thomas Fowell Buxton.… Seguir leyendo »
A tragedy is unfolding on the edge of Europe in and around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus. A mostly forgotten war has restarted between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Outsiders are struggling to respond. As someone who has reported on and studied this conflict for more than 25 years on both sides, let me try to lead you through the labyrinth.
It is worth emphasising first of all the human cost. Hundreds of people have died since 27 September, when the fighting broke out, almost certainly because Azerbaijan decided to launch a surprise offensive. Each side is now using fearsome long-range weapons that it has acquired over the last decade.… Seguir leyendo »
Fortress Europe is being redesigned – but it is no easy task. European Union home affairs ministers on Thursday began the process of repairing the bloc’s broken migration policy, just weeks after the tragic devastation of the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos. Expect no quick changes, however. The 27 countries are deeply divided over proposals for a new “pact” on asylum and migration.
The European commission’s plan calls for faster pre-entry screening and quick returns of those who fail to quality for asylum. The focus is on ending sometimes deliberately slow, inhumane and inefficient border management procedures, which lead to squalid, overcrowded camps such as Moria, where people can be left in limbo for years.… Seguir leyendo »
Speaking truth to power has ever been a fraught and dangerous occupation, as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was recently reminded after he narrowly survived a poisoning plot he says was directed from the Kremlin.
Uncounted Kurdish activists languish in jail for challenging Turkey’s modern-day sultan. In Iran, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is punished mercilessly for championing women’s causes. In Zimbabwe, Catholic clergy who condemn abuses by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime are accused of treason.
When China jailed Ren Zhiqiang, a noted communist party critic who ridiculed emperor-president Xi Jinping as a “clown”, much of the world shrugged. What else to expect from an authoritarian dictatorship sustained by gulags and mass surveillance
But when supposed democracies behave in similar fashion, alarm bells ring.… Seguir leyendo »
If there ever was an unlikely country to be designated a model of collective civility, that’s Italy. My native land is usually depicted as a beautiful place whose abundance of natural and cultural treasures is entrusted, alas, to its disorganised, corrupt, unruly inhabitants.
And yet everybody these days seems to be lavishing praise on us: the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal are all describing as exemplary the way in which we Italians have clawed ourselves out of the tragic pit we were in this spring, as coronavirus raged and convoys of military trucks had to be deployed to carry the coffins – they were so many.… Seguir leyendo »
Rarely does the EU act so swiftly. Less than four months since the killing of George Floyd in police custody and the Black Lives Matter campaign that spilled into Europe and galvanised continent-wide protests, the EU is appointing its first ever anti-racism coordinator. This brilliant idea will make little sense, however, if anti-Muslim hatred is not part of their portfolio. Because instead of building a “truly anti-racist union”, as the president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, would wish, we have so far built an anti-Muslim one.
Prejudice against Muslims exists in every corner of Europe. Not only do we collectively devalue and discriminate against Europeans who follow Islam, but the incidence of violence against Muslims is increasing.… Seguir leyendo »
Seventy-five years after its founding, the United Nations is facing an unprecedented challenge in helping countries respond to a devastating pandemic. And Donald Trump – the leader of the world’s most powerful country, which helped establish the UN – is sabotaging efforts to collectively tackle the pandemic and other threats that the UN was created to solve.
This year, the pandemic forced the UN to conduct diplomacy virtually. World leaders had to pre-record their speeches for the 75th general assembly, highlighting in stark fashion the grave challenges that all countries face today from Covid-19, as well as the tall task the UN has in marshaling an effective global coordination effort.… Seguir leyendo »
Since 2017, Xinjiang in China has been reeling from a brutal crackdown outlawing both public and private displays of Uighur culture or identity, not to mention political dissent. A cornerstone of this repression, and the foundation upon which all other coercive measures are built, is an intense and unparalleled carceral regime: a network of hundreds of political indoctrination camps, detention centres and prisons. This has forced the region’s inhabitants not only into obedience but also into a chilling silence.
By most estimates, about 10% of Uighurs and other Muslim nationalities in Xinjiang have found themselves arbitrarily detained in these camps.
While researching human rights in Xinjiang at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a non-partisan thinktank based in Canberra, I’ve spent two years scouring satellite imagery and working with journalists, researchers and survivors to locate as many of these secretive camps as possible.… Seguir leyendo »
“Europe is watching us”, declared La Nazione newspaper in Tuscany, the only Italian leftwing stronghold that the centre-left managed to retain in the 2019 European elections. This weekend, it was on the verge of having its first ever rightwing governor. Ultimately, Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League party failed to capture Tuscany, but it would be a mistake for the continent to become complacent. That the right came so close in a “red region” betrays deep underlying issues in Italian politics and society, years in the making, which have parallels across the world.
Italians went to the polls on Sunday and Monday to vote on a constitutional referendum to reduce the number of parliamentary seats by a third – an “anti-politics” populist proposal from the Five Star Movement and its centre-left coalition partners, the Democratic party.… Seguir leyendo »
The British courts will soon be deciding the fate of the Australian journalist Julian Assange, a man who has been unjustly charged as a criminal. Assange committed no crime. He is a champion of the cause of freedom.
The UK will say whether it will accept or deny the request for the extradition of Assange to the US, where he will face 18 charges brought against him by the government of that country. If he is extradited, Assange, 49, could be tried and sentenced to up to 175 years in prison, the equivalent of a life sentence.
We must keep this outrage from happening.… Seguir leyendo »
The persecution, ethnic cleansing, and attempted genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is an affront to the rule of law, a well-documented atrocity and, according to a top international lawyer, a moral stain on “our collective conscience and humanity”. So why are the killings and other horrors continuing while known perpetrators go unpunished?
It’s a question with several possible answers. Maybe poor, isolated Myanmar, formerly Burma, is not important enough a state to warrant sustained international attention. Perhaps, in the western subconscious, the lives of a largely unseen, unknown, brown-skinned Muslim minority do not matter so much at a time of multiple racial, ethnic and refugee crises.… Seguir leyendo »
Bolivia has descended into a nightmare of political repression and racist state violence since the democratically elected government of Evo Morales was overthrown by the military on 10 November last year. That month was the second-deadliest in terms of civilian deaths caused by state forces since Bolivia became a democracy nearly 40 years ago, according to a study by Harvard Law School’s (HLS) International Human Rights Clinic and the University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) released a month ago.
Morales was the first indigenous president of Bolivia, which has the largest percentage of indigenous population of any country in the Americas.… Seguir leyendo »
More than a quarter of a century after Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, Israel has managed to turn its occupation of Palestinian territory from a burden into an asset. What was for so long a liability – the flagrant violation of international law – has now become a valued commodity. Understanding this development is key to explaining why the Israelis are making peace with two distant Gulf states but not their closest neighbours, the Palestinians – without whom there can be no real peace.
Israel has learned in recent years how to manage the occupation in perpetuity with minimal cost.… Seguir leyendo »
A fire rips through a refugee camp. Migrants are blamed for starting it. Outraged locals vent their fury and demand that the migrants be removed.
That’s what happened last week at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. It is also what happened almost a year ago. Then, tragically, a woman died. This time, there have, thankfully, been no deaths, but the camp has been completely destroyed. The claims last year that migrants had attacked firemen were false – it was, in fact, migrants who first tackled the blaze. This time, there is confusion as to how the fires began – some blame migrants angry at being quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19, others point the finger at hostile outsiders.… Seguir leyendo »
Are we seeing the end of the supremacy of the US dollar? With soaring government spending and gaping deficits are we on the cusp of a great surge of inflation? In light of the extreme financial measures required by the Covid-19 crisis and the alarming polarisation of US politics, the markets can be forgiven for asking such dramatic questions.
But it is worth reminding ourselves that as recently as March, the whole world was crying out for dollars. And far from fearing inflation, the problem actually facing central banks is how to avoid sliding into deflation. Falling prices are a disaster because they squeeze debtors – think negative equity in housing markets – and create a vicious circle of postponed purchases, leading to falling demand and further deflation.… Seguir leyendo »
I was a missing Indigenous girl who beat the odds. Now I’m a journalist and I won’t shut up about a genocidal crisis happening in Canada.
I spent my childhood in and out of foster homes. It was a cold and lonely system.
At age 12 I ran away from a group home with two other girls. It was freedom, or so I thought. I don’t even remember exactly how many days I was missing for. Each day blurred into the next.
At one point two men in their late 20s held me hostage at a downtown apartment in Edmonton, Alberta, where they raped me several times.… Seguir leyendo »