Southern Baptists tackle sex-abuse

A few years ago we had the sex scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. That was followed by the Anglican Church and now it seems to be the turn for the Southern Baptist Church.
In November 2021 Southern Baptist leaders in North Carolina had announced plans to proactively review their state convention’s response to the issue of sexual abuse. On Monday,  November 08, 2021Todd Unzicker, the state convention’s executive director-treasurer, said leaders wanted to show churches that they take abuse seriously.

“If our churches do not see us as a convention being proactive in this, mistrust will happen,”

he said in a statement.
The question was asked to what extent the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was prepared to take serious action on the ongoing stories of sexual abuse by several pastors throughout the country.

“I want to make clear that we as Georgia Baptists have zero tolerance for sexual abuse,”

W. Thomas Hammond, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, told the Christian Index, a Georgia Baptist publication.

The statewide responses follow a bitter dispute at the national SBC’s Nashville-based executive committee over how to conduct an independent investigation into that group’s handling of sexual abuse in recent decades.

A national task force to oversee that investigation was set up last past summer at the annual meeting of the nation’s largest American Protestant denomination. We can imagine that the church community wanted to keep all the pots covered. Members of the executive committee disagreed about how transparent the investigation would be and how many details would be made public — especially conversations between executive committee members and staff and their lawyers.

As with the Catholic Church before, the SBC has also been guilty of covering up the many bad facts. Southern Baptist leaders had long resisted taking national action on the issue of abuse — in large part because of the autonomy of local churches.

However, they could no longer hide after certain serious facts came to light, in 2019 after a Houston Chronicle investigation reported more than 700 cases of abuse in Southern Baptist churches. That led to a public lament and a change in denominational rules, allowing the SBC to expel churches that mishandle abuse.

Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, which has about 1,000 churches, said the state group has for years been helping churches with background checks and setting up best practices to create a safe environment for children. Even before the Houston Chronicle investigation, the state conventions were providing training and other resources for addressing abuse.

“The Houston Chronicle report was a big raiser of public awareness for churches, and therefore, led to more requests for help in this area,”

Adams said.

The excuse given is that they preferred to keep things in the ‘community’ and not make them public, as they were very delicate private events.

At the California Southern Baptist Convention meeting late last October, Chris Cole, pastor of Redeemer Baptist Church in Paso Robles, Calif., proposed the state set up a task force to look at abuse. Cole’s detailed motion, which included calls for an abuse survivor to serve on the task force, along with the director of the state convention, as well as for the involvement of experts, failed during the meeting.

According to Cole, a veteran pastor who worked as a police officer for several years, state Baptist groups lack a comprehensive strategy on how to deal with abuse. He finds there is not enough training on how to respond to cases of abuse and how to care for survivors.

“We don’t address these things. We don’t deal with them upfront and we think it’s better that way.”

he said, whilst he expressed the hope that state conventions will develop more robust guidelines for responding to abuse.
The SBC Nashville headquarters held over 700 cases. The same as in the Roman Catholic as in the Anglican Church nothing was done to stop these predators from continuing their hellish crimes. Staff members were reportedly told not to even engage those asking about how to stop their child from being sexually violated by a minister. Rather than a database to protect sexual abuse victims, the report reveals that these leaders had a database to protect themselves.
It can be called shameful if offenders managed to be moved to another municipality where they could then make victims again.
The true horror of all of this is not just what has been done, but also how it happened.

Southwestern Distances Itself from Paige Patterson in Sex Abuse LawsuitThe face of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson, one of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Conservative Resurgence, a grassroots effort in the late 20th century to return America’s largest Protestant denomination to its theologically conservative roots, got fired after alleged mishandling a rape victim’s report in an institution he led after he was documented making public comments about the physical appearance of teenage girls and his counsel to women physically abused by their husbands.

Also, long-time Southern Baptist Convention leader and former Judge Paul Pressler was accused of repeatedly raping one boy beginning at age 14 in 1980 and continuing for 24 years and for raping several others in other lawsuits of sexually abusing them as children and adults over a span of 40 years. There are still civil proceedings about allegations of the rape of young men going on.

More than 8,000 Southern Baptist delegates were meeting at the end of May for their national convention in California. Armed with a secret list of more than 700 abusive pastors, Southern Baptist leaders chose to protect the denomination from lawsuits rather than protect the people in their churches from further abuse.

Survivors, advocates, and some Southern Baptists themselves spent more than 15 years calling for ways to keep sexual predators from moving quietly from one flock to another. The men who controlled the Executive Committee (EC) — which runs the day-to-day operations of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — knew the scope of the problem. But, working closely with their lawyers, they maligned the people who wanted to do something about abuse and repeatedly rejected pleas for help and reform. Several people who wanted to do something against those sexual predators were accused of being part of the devil and wanting to undermine the church.

According to an unnamed EC staff member,

“in nearly every instance in the past when victims have come to those in power in the SBC, they have been shunned, shamed, and vilified. At the EC, we have inherited a culture of rejecting those who question power or who accuse leaders.”

Several people who knew or saw what happened in that church decided to break with it.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has lost over a million members in the past three years, with back-to-back years of the COVID-19 pandemic following a decade-plus of decline.
Reported SBC membership fell from 14.8 million in 2018 and a peak of 16.3 million in 2006, to 13.7 million in 2021, its lowest tally in more than 40 years, according to the latest Annual Church Profile released on Thursday May 12.
SBC churches baptized 154,700 people in 2021, still significantly lower than 236,000 a year before the pandemic.

The presented May report described years of efforts to cover up sex abuse by pastors and other officials. Southern Baptist leaders claimed for 15 years that they couldn’t create a database of offenders, even though they were secretly keeping just such a list. The sex abuse scandal has increased tensions within a denomination already contending with declining membership and clashes over race, gender, and politics.

The Guidepost Solutions’ Report of the Independent Investigation

lament on behalf of survivors for how they have not been protected and cared for as they deserve and as God demands.

They say that the

With broken hearts… want to lead the way by publicly repenting for what has happened in our convention.

and implore their Southern Baptist family to respond to their report

with deep repentance and a commitment to the ongoing moral demands of the gospel as it relates to sexual abuse.

The Executive Committee (EC) general counsel Augie Boto and longtime attorney Jim Guenther advised the past three EC presidents — Ronnie Floyd, Frank Page, and Morris Chapman — that taking action on abuse would pose a risk to SBC liability and polity, leading the presidents to challenge proposed abuse reforms.

As renewed calls for action emerged with the #ChurchToo and #SBCToo movements, Boto referred to advocacy for abuse survivors as

“a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.”

Survivors, in turn, described the soul-crushing effects of not only their abuse, but the stonewalling, insulting responses from leaders at the EC for 15-plus years.

The continuous dismissal of what really happened behind the scenes is a stab in the back for the victims, with the hypocrite vicars continuing with their reprehensible practices while calling on the faithful to live morally and that homophily was a reprehensible thing from the devil and that people who were with the same sex should be rejected and excluded from any connection.

Christa Brown, a longtime advocate who experienced sexual abuse by her pastor at 16, said her

“countless encounters with Baptist leaders”

who shunned and disbelieved her

“left a legacy of hate”

and communicated

“you are a creature void of any value — you don’t matter.”

Not only did she have to endure such humiliating words. Others were sent wandering with their complaint, or had to hear that they were sent such things because they had been bitten by Satan.

As a result, Brown said, instead of her faith providing solace, her faith has become

“neurologically networked with a nightmare.”

She referred to it as

“soul murder.”

Those who had to be responsible for bringing people to Jesus and to God, actually made it possible for people to distance themselves from God and His commandments, and to regard the church as something reprehensible.

Over the past 20 years, a string of SBC presidents failed to appropriately respond to abuse in their own churches and seminaries. In several instances, leaders sided with individuals and churches that had been credibly accused of abuse or cover-up.

Johnny Hunt.JPG
Johnny Hunt speaking at First Baptist Arnold, Missouri.

The American evangelical Christian pastor, author, and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention,  pastor Johnny Hunt, sexually assaulted another pastor’s wife in 2010, though Hunt denied the accusation, investigators found he did. Hunt has a.o. held a ministry position at one of the largest churches in the United States, First Baptist Woodstock.

Guidepost Solutions, the third-party investigative firm, wants the 13.7-million-member denomination to create an online database of abusers, offer compensation for survivors, sharply limit non-disclosure agreements, and establish a new entity dedicated to responding to abuse. The directives in the 288-page report will sound familiar to survivors and advocates, who have been calling for those measures all along.

“How many kids and congregants could have been spared horrific harm if only the Executive Committee had taken action back in 2006 when I first wrote to them, urging specific concrete steps?

And how many survivors could have been spared the re-traumatizing hell of trying to report clergy sex abuse into a system that consistently turns its back?”

asked Brown in a 2021 letter.

“The SBC Executive Committee’s longstanding resistance to abuse reforms has now yielded a whole new crop of clergy sex abuse victims and of survivors re-traumatized in their efforts to report.”

Advocate Rachael Denhollander, who advised the SBC task force that coordinated the investigation, tweeted that

“the level of transparency is … unparalleled.”

It’s the largest investigation in SBC history; it’s already changed the makeup of the EC and stands to determine the trajectory of the 177-year-old denomination.

This year’s meeting signals what trustees hope will be a turning point for the Southern Baptist body. One of the new lawyers from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Gene Besen, referenced “changing the direction,” and the new interim president, Willie McLaurin, talked about “changing the culture.” Multiple trustees called it an opportunity to do the right thing.

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Find also to read:

  1. A great ‘reckoning’ in the Southern Baptist Convention is about to take place
  2. More men accuse former Texas judge, Baptist leader of sexual misconduct
  3. Southern Baptist leader Ronnie Floyd resigns after internal fight over sex abuse investigation
  4. Southwestern Distances Itself from Paige Patterson in Sex Abuse Lawsuit
  5. Southern Baptists tackle sex-abuse response at national convention
  6. Southern Baptists Refused to Act on Abuse, Despite Secret List of Pastors
  7. Guidepost Solutions’ Report of the Independent Investigation
  8. Southern Baptists Drop 1.1 Million Members in Three Years
  9. Southern Baptists Release Pastor List, Repudiate Old Approach to Survivors
  10. How Will the SBC Move Forward After ‘Unprecedented’ Committee Exodus?

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#SBCtoo

Related

  1. Americans’ Return to Church Has Plateaued
  2. #ChurchToo Revelations Growing, Years After Movement Began
  3. Al Mohler on the Office of Pastor
  4. Concentric Circles of Cooperation in Southern Baptist Life
  5. Pleasant View church plans to cut ties with SBC after sex abuse scandal
  6. #ChurchToo revelations growing, years after movement began
  7. The SBC Sexual Abuse Problem and the “Secret List” of Abusers Explained
  8. Horrified Fascination: Thoughts On Last Week’s SBC Annual Meeting
  9. Southern Baptists refused to act on abuse
  10. Sexual Abuse, Scripture, Trauma Therapy, and the SBC.
  11. SBC Convention 2022 Message
  12. When Unity at All Cost is Too Costly
  13. Are All Pastors Automatically Abusers if They Commit Sexual Immorality? (or what’s wrong with SBC business meetings?)
  14. How to Raise a Rapist in the Baptist Church
  15. Preventative Measures: 6 Steps SBC Churches Can Take to Prevent Sexual Abuse
  16. We Need to Talk About the Theology Behind the Abuse
  17. How I believe Pastors and Churches of the SBC should respond to news of the sexual abuse cover up…
  18. 330,000 children sexually abused in church, French report shows
  19. Suit alleges sexual abuse by popular former Servite priest and swim coach
  20. Nun exposes sexual harassment of deaf, mute children in Christian institute, faces threats and torture
  21. Theodore McCarrick: Defrocked US cardinal pleads not guilty to sexual assault
  22. The Shepard Dossier: Cathedral High School, Sexual Abuse And The Diocese Of El Paso
  23. (4) Notes and Quotes from “The Making of Biblical Womanhood,” by Beth Allison Barr: Chapters 7-8
  24. Tidbits for life
  25. Women in ‘Fly-In-Fly-Out’ Mining Suffer ‘Staggering’ Range of Sexual Abuse: Report
  26. A Conversation at Starbucks
  27. On Stealing A Woman’s Life
  28. The Dangers of Preaching the Persecution of Christians in the United States Continued
  29. How Voddie Baucham’s Teachings Cause Long-Term Damage: Collected Interviews
  30. #ChurchToo revelations growing, years after movement began
  31. Rest, Play, and Summer
  32. (Get) M.O.B.I The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended

Emmanuel Macron falters as Melenchon rises

It is quite possible that we are heading for a generation of voters who will no longer accept the fact that the rich keep getting richer while the ordinary citizen gets poorer and poorer, and that our planet is being burdened more and more by these large international institutions.

21centurymanifesto

For the first time in decades, France’s president will not command a National Assembly majority — and the left-wing Nupes now makes up the second-largest bloc. But what next for this deeply divided progressive alliance, asks NICK WRIGHT writing in the Morning Star newspaper

THE Sunday night takeaway from the French legislative elections was that the political creation of two times President Emmanuel Macron, running as Ensemble, had lost its parliamentary majority.

This was a big defeat for the EU establishment, the big-business and banker caste of neoliberals who dispose of political, social and economic power in the French Republic.

Nupes, the new electoral alliance of Jean-Luc Melenchon’s La France Insoumise (“France unbowed”), Greens, communists and socialists has arrived at second place — and on the far right Marie Le Pen’s Rassemblement National reaped the benefit of Macron’s maladroit strategy to come a strong third.

The new National Assembly…

View original post 1,620 more words

Global Headlines looked at the beginning of June 2022 by Bloomberg

3 June 2022

Gun plea | Biden called for a ban on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pleading with Congress to toughen laws following a spate of mass shootings. Still, he acknowledged that Congress is unlikely to restrict them, with Republican lawmakers, who can block the passage of bills in the Senate, vowing to prevent sweeping gun-control measures.

  • The New York state legislature approved raising the legal age to buy semiautomatic rifles to 21 from 18 and tightened rules on purchasing firearms and other military equipment.

Saudi nod | OPEC+ agreed to open its oil taps faster in the summer months, a gesture of reconciliation to the US that nevertheless keeps Russia at the heart of the cartel. The White House welcomed the deal, which came after months of diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to mitigate the surge in energy prices that’s battered the global economy since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Price rival | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has no clear rival for elections next June, with the opposition yet to agree on a candidate to challenge him. But as Selcan Hacaoglu writes, runaway inflation is the most urgent threat to his nearly 20-year grip on power, and it’s a formidable one: A survey by MetroPoll shows public support for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has fallen close to the lowest level since it was established.

4 June

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Africa may fall 94% to 22,563 this year if current variants and transmission rates remain the same, according to a World Health Organization model.

Hong Kong Quarantine Backtrack Stokes Fears of Covid Zero Return
A return to harsh Covid Zero measures like quarantine camps risks further damaging confidence in the city and runs counter to the easing of restrictions in recent months, business groups say. The new sub-variants also do not pose a threat of igniting a major outbreak, according to a local public health expert.

  • China declared victory over Shanghai’s virus outbreak despite the policy’s economic and social toll.
  • For millions still locked down in Shanghai, listening to officials tout the city’s triumph over Covid-19 and its “reopening” is infuriating.

AMLO Train Barrels On Despite Safety, Environmental Concerns
The Maya Train is projected to run for 1,554 kilometers and connect five states in the Yucatán Peninsula, arguably President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s most ambitious infrastructure project and one he’s vowed to have ready by the end of next year. But as Andrea Navarro lays out, the project is running up against construction challenges, cost overruns, environmental lawsuits, street protests, and supply-chain shortages.

Construction for the train cuts through the rainforest near Playa del Carmen. Photographer: Lisette Poole for Bloomberg Businessweek

Australia’s History-Making Top Diplomat Faces Down Rising China
Penny Wong has already made history as both the first Asian-born and openly gay woman to become Australia’s top diplomat. Ben Westcott explains how she is quickly confronting the nation’s most difficult geopolitical challenge in decades.

  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will have a record number of female ministers in his new cabinet, which is shaping up to become one of the most diverse governments in the country’s history.

Troubled UK Seeks Comfort of Its Queen in Twilight of Her Reign
A worsening cost-of-living crisis, a messy political scandal and the threat of further repercussions from the war in Ukraine form an unlikely backdrop for a celebration of national stability. As the UK marks Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, Emily Ashton notes the clouds are a reminder that the 96-year-old monarch won’t be around forever, just as the country faces an uncertain future.

A display celebrating the Platinum Jubilee in London on May 26. Photographer: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Rich Nations’ Toxic Habits Bring African Refugees to Their Doors
The number of Africans trying to make it to the US southern border is on track to hit a potential record this year. Many are escaping livelihood-destroying climate events. As Antony SguazzinKatarina Hoije and Maya Averbuch write, the continent they’re fleeing is facing natural disasters at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, and is largely unprepared to deal with them.

A Sudanese boy wades through a flooded street in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman in August 2020. Photographer: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty

6 June

Boris Johnson’s chaotic premiership will reach its lowest point tonight as disillusioned Conservative Party lawmakers vote on whether to oust him as UK prime minister.

The trigger for the confidence vote has ostensibly been a government report last month into illegal parties held at his Downing Street residence when the rest of the country was under lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic. But discontent has been growing in the Tory party over a range of issues.

If he were to step down, it will set off a potentially bruising battle for the leadership where names including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are likely to be in circulation.

Key reading:

Johnson has repeatedly sent his members of Parliament out to defend uncomfortable policies before embarrassing them by dropping his plans, most conspicuously in efforts to protect a disgraced MP last year.

He’s upset fiscal conservatives by pushing taxes to the highest level in a generation and caused consternation with threats to breach international law in Brexit negotiations with the European Union.

Above it all, there’s a sense that he is simply lurching from one crisis to another with no overarching strategy for what he wants to achieve.

“Under you, the government seems to lack a sense of mission,” Jesse Norman, a veteran MP, wrote today in a letter explaining why he thought the prime minister should step aside. “It has a large majority, but no long-term plan.”

There are plenty of ministers voicing their confidence that Johnson will win tonight’s vote. And the number of MPs with government jobs makes it difficult for the rebels to get the 180 votes they need for victory at the first time of asking.

But history suggests that a confidence vote marks the beginning of the end for a Conservative leader, even though there may still be more twists and turns before they reach the end of the road. — Ben Sills 

Johnson during a constituency visit to Sweetcroft care home in Uxbridge. Photographer: Leon Neal/Getty Images  

Forced labor | As the US prepares to ban all goods from Xinjiang later this month over allegations of human-rights abuses, President Xi Jinping is moving to rebrand China’s remote western region and better integrate it with the rest of the country. Since workers and goods from Xinjiang flow across China, it’s nearly impossible to determine what Chinese products are made using what the US deems as forced labor.

Migration surge | The US is working with Latin American and Caribbean nations on a pact to reduce and manage undocumented migration that they will announce at a summit this week as arrivals surge. Eric Martin reports the accord may include financial commitments for nations dealing with an influx of migrants, improving cooperation on controlling flows and providing legal jobs.

  • President Joe Biden’s administration decided against inviting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the summit, sources say, despite calls from Mexico’s president to include all countries or risk him staying home.

Life in Beijing will take a step closer to returning to normal today as China’s capital rolls back Covid-19 restrictions, having previously declared the latest outbreak of the virus under control.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government reached out to China to raise concerns over what he described as a “dangerous maneuver” between a Chinese fighter jet and an Australian surveillance plane over the South China Sea.

The attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 shocked an audience watching live as supporters of then outgoing-President Donald Trump fought the police and forced the evacuation of the vice president from the Senate. But as Mike Dorning and Billy House explain, with Congress preparing for televised hearings on the crisis starting Thursday, the attack on the seat of US democracy wasn’t enough to shake the political divisions that drove the insurrection.

Jake Angeli, known as the QAnon Shaman, climbs scaffolding as demonstrators swarm the Capitol. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

7 June

Seeking attention | Televised hearings that begin Thursday into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol will need to produce show-stopping moments to grab a divided nation’s attention. In an environment of social media and polarized cable news, similar events held on everything from the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, to Robert Mueller’s 2019 testimony about his Trump-Russia investigation failed to make much of a splash.

As the Summit of the Americas gets under way in Los Angeles, President Joe Biden’s desire as host to “advance our common goals and find common ground” may prove to be an uphill struggle.

Already splits have emerged, after the US excluded Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba over a lack of democracy and respect for human rights. The snub prompted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to skip the event and send his foreign minister instead, along with “a hug” to Biden.

Key reading:

The US is working with Latin America and Caribbean nations on a pact to reduce and manage undocumented migration, including financial support for countries dealing with an influx of people, according to a draft of this week’s conclusions.

While a priority for the Biden administration as it faces a surge in arrivals on its southern border, it isn’t even clear if all those attending will sign on.

The US-led declaration is part of a larger focus on regional economic, health and food security issues to be discussed at the summit.

But Biden’s attempts to unite the Americas may ultimately prove illusory.

It’s not just that there are signs of a political shift under way across the region regardless of US aims, notably in Colombia ahead of presidential elections.

It’s that US retrenchment and political polarization makes it look distracted: It’s surely no coincidence that China’s Foreign Ministry issued a broadside at Washington’s policy toward Latin America yesterday.

Given the administration’s central challenges of competition with China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden’s main task in LA may be simply to reassure his fellow leaders that the US remains focused on its backyard. — Alan Crawford

El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, right, greets Lopez in San Salvador on May 6. Photographer: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg

Hanging on | Boris Johnson’s missteps and misdeeds have left his governing party split into bickering factions. More than 40% of Conservative members of Parliament voted against the UK prime minister in a confidence vote yesterday that laid bare the bitter rifts. While Johnson sought to draw a line under controversy around his leadership, the scale of the mutiny suggests his days may be numbered.

 

Developing nations are suffering the biggest knock from this year’s oil shock, with many being hit by a combination of high international prices, weak currencies and competition from rich nations for fuel. That has triggered unrest and protests.

Cold shoulder | China appears to be shifting its strategic focus toward Southeast Asia and Africa, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a Bloomberg interview. He noted that financially strapped South Asian countries that have been some the biggest recipients of Chinese cash in the past decade aren’t getting the same attention as before.

  • Rajapaksa vowed to finish the remaining two years of his term despite months-long street protests calling for his ouster, but won’t stand for re-election as he focuses on fixing Sri Lanka’s worst-ever economic crisis.

Best of Bloomberg Opinion

Marx returns | In China’s boom years when annual growth exceeded 10%, Western-influenced economics helped private entrepreneurs in tech, real estate and other industries amass billions, with more autonomy than ever. Now, as Tom Hancock reports, President Xi Jinping has made clear that Marxism is back, and investors better take note.

  • A year-long campaign to control runaway property prices in China has pummeled its biggest developers, obliterating $65 billion in wealth for real estate moguls.

Explainers you can use

  • The US warned North Korea of strong punishment if it conducts a nuclear test, amid signs Pyongyang may soon set off its first atomic device since 2017.
  • Fumio Kishida’s emergence as Japan’s third prime minister in 13 months prompted worry the country was sinking into another period of revolving-door leadership. Now he looks increasingly likely to govern for years.
  • Hong Kong won’t tighten Covid-19 curbs before the city’s July 1 handover anniversary, outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, despite speculation Xi will attend the celebrations.
  • The United Arab Emirates is weighing extraditing two members of the Gupta family wanted in South Africa on allegations they looted billions of dollars from the state.
  • British journalist Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira, an expert on indigenous peoples, have gone missing in the Brazilian Amazon after receiving threats, prompting authorities to mount an intensive search.

8 June

Another gamble | Fresh from surviving a revolt by his own party, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to press ahead with legislation allowing him to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland, Ellen Milligan reports. The move would please the most fervently anti-European sections of his party, while angering the EU, its member states like France and Ireland, and US President Joe Biden.

  • Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the UK has shown “bad faith” in how it’s approached the part of the Brexit treaty dealing with Northern Ireland.
  • This week’s rebellion showed that more than 40% of Johnson’s Conservative lawmakers think he should go. Read who the main contenders to replace him could be.

Few convictions | A year and a half after Donald Trump’s die-hard supporters overran the US Capitol, prosecutors have scored relatively few convictions and face growing pressure to target the former president and his allies. The Justice Department has won about 50 felony guilty pleas for the most serious attack on American democracy in the modern era, but the only charges brought against Trump aides have been for failing to respond to demands for information.

Preemptive strike | Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro cast doubt on the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 election victory, two days before the leaders were scheduled to meet at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. In televised remarks, Bolsonaro revived his claim that there was widespread fraud in the US vote that his close ally, Trump, lost to Biden. Bolsonaro himself faces a difficult bid for re-election in October.

Best of Bloomberg Opinion

Neighborly threat | Despite a lockdown since the end of April, daily Covid-19 cases have been trending up in Dandong, a Chinese city of about 2.2 million people on the border with North Korea. Officials say they can’t figure out where persistent new infections are coming from — and suspect the wind blowing in from their secretive neighbor.

Explainers you can use

Carbon threat | The Democratic Republic of Congo’s plan to auction oil exploration blocks next month threatens to disrupt some of the most important carbon sinks globally and could jeopardize a $500 million forest preservation agreement. Protecting the world’s biggest peatlands and the wider Congo Basin tropical rainforest was a landmark agreement at last year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

  • India is coming under fire in the Middle East for derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad made by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, sparking online calls for boycotts in the region.
  • Macron’s party and its allies could lose their outright majority in this month’s French legislative elections as support for a rival left-wing grouping grows, according to latest polls.
  • Vietnam’s police detained former Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long, one of the highest-ranking government officials to be swept up in graft investigations.
  • Thousands of truck drivers in South Korea have gone on strike at major ports and container depots, posing the latest threat to strained global-supply chains.

9 June

Donald Trump has created a monster he can no longer control.

His Make America Great Again movement inspired millions of red-capped acolytes who elevated the billionaire to the presidency in 2016. Such was his hold on them that when he refused to accept defeat at the hands of Joe Biden, a mob of his fans stormed the US Capitol.

Key reading:

Televised public hearings kick off today at a House committee to try and hold Trump to account for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, one of the worst attacks on American democracy. Democrats see them as an opportunity to boost their chances of maintaining control of Congress in the November midterm elections. Trump and his Republican allies call the investigation a witch hunt.

Yet two things are clear: A divided nation has little interest in processing the trauma of that day, and the cult of personality around the former president lives on.

What’s different now is that MAGA has outgrown its maker. The current crop of primaries for the midterms shows it is Trump’s brash brand of politics and his “America First” ideas — anti-immigrant, anti-regulation, anti-establishment — that appeal to Republican voters more than the man himself.

Trump was certain he could still direct his loyal following to support conservative candidates he anointed and who embraced his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Turns out even his supporters don’t believe in his infallibility.

Kathleen Cerruti, a 55-year-old worker at a Christian ministry from Quakertown, Pennsylvania, says she adores Trump but doesn’t “blindly follow” him. After all, she said, “he’s not God.” — Wendy Benjaminson & Flavia Krause-Jackson

Capitol police officers pointed guns at a door as a joint session of Congress was set to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential election. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Virus fears | Shanghai will lock down a district on Saturday for a mass Covid-19 testing drive, the first major movement restriction since the Chinese financial hub exited a bruising two-month shutdown at the start of June. While the plan is to seal the Minhang district of nearly 2.7 million people only for the morning, residents face the risk of being confined to their homes for two weeks if infections are discovered.

Atomic censure | The International Atomic Energy Agency rebuked Iran yesterday for failing to cooperate with nuclear investigators in a diplomatic move that could escalate the Persian Gulf nation’s conflict with Western powers. It’s the first censure against Iran under the Biden administration and comes as prospects dim for a return to the 2015 agreement that reined in Tehran’s atomic work in exchange for sanctions relief.

Explainers you can use

10 June

Governments around the world are finding out just how hard it is to change a narrative.

Inflation is indeed running rampant in many places, but inflation expectations — or the worry that prices may climb ever higher — even more so.

Those perceptions are perhaps fanned by central banks racing to raise interest rates: The European Central Bank has committed to a quarter-point increase next month, while Australia hiked rates 50 basis points — the biggest increase in 22 years.

Key reading:

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning that inflation is likely to stay high, having admitted she was wrong last year to describe big price increases as “transitory.” The next round of US data is due out today.

Newspapers are splashed with dire warnings. The cost of filling up a standard car in the UK surged by the most in 17 years, adding to the woes facing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The owner of British discount retailer Poundland warned that consumers are cutting back on essential items.

Government messaging that economies are actually in decent shape carries little weight in the face of such headlines. Subsidizing food and energy barely makes a dent when people are convinced that prices are spiraling out of control.

Part of the problem lies with misjudging demand and the ferocity with which it has returned as the pandemic wanes, sparking labor shortages alongside higher prices. Transport strikes in Europe, and now Asia, are a symptom of that. Early-stage summer travel is a mess in many places as airlines and airports struggle to cope.

That leaves political leaders grappling with a toxic soup of overwhelmed services, disgruntled commuters, worried mortgage holders and anxious shoppers, and attempting to shut the barn door after the horse has bolted.

“Inflation is the bane of our existence,” US President Joe Biden lamented this week. He may have included himself in that calculation as he counts the days to the midterm elections.  — Rosalind Mathieson

Commuters wait for buses during strikes on the underground rail service in London on Monday. Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Airport chaos | Europe’s aviation industry is struggling to overcome crippling staff shortages and labor strife, forcing airlines to cancel hundreds of flights ahead of the peak summer period. Disruptions have been particularly bad in the UK, though European hubs such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris have also been plagued by delays and the fallout from strikes.

Workers strike at Charles De Gaulle Airport near Paris yesterday. Photographer: Geoffrey Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images

Explainers you can use

A bad look | South African President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the nation’s graft ombudsman a day after she started probing his alleged concealment of a robbery of more than $4 million at his game farm. While he has denied wrongdoing and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused by lawmakers of misconduct, analysts say the timing of the move against her reflects poorly on the government.

News to Note

  • Senators negotiating new gun legislation are proposing billions in federal programs for mental health services and school security, as well as grants to states to enact so-called red flag laws.
  • The UK is making last-minute tweaks to planned legislation to override a portion of its Brexit deal, as the EU prepares to relaunch legal proceedings as part of the bloc’s response to the move.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the need to maintain social stability while balancing the twin goals of snuffing out cases of Covid-19 and bolstering the economy, as strict lockdowns spark sporadic unrest and online outrage.
  • Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came under pressure to further open Japan’s borders, as the relaxation of measures against Covid-19 appeared to fall short of a pledge made in London last month.

And finally … Chilean President Gabriel Boric marked his first international summit with an embarrassing gaffe, wrongly accusing the US government of being absent at the signing of an agreement on ocean protections. Boric made the mistake at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles yesterday, as US climate envoy John Kerry looked on from a few chairs away. “I just have one question,” Kerry joked in response. “Where’s the beer?” Read our summit coverage here.

Kerry signs the agreement during the Summit of the Americas. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s view on Ukraine at the beginning of June 2022

Since President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, he has caused immense death and destruction for few military gains and at huge economic cost. Yet he shows no sign of cracking even as Russia’s war aims have proved illusory.

Putin appealed to Ukraine’s army to “immediately lay down arms and go home” on the first day of the war, apparently convinced Russia’s neighbor would welcome his troops as liberators from a neo-Nazi “junta.”

Instead, fierce Ukrainian resistance broke Russian attempts to seize the capital, Kyiv, and has forced a retreat to focus on the eastern Donbas region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has emerged as a global symbol of democratic resistance to tyranny.

Key reading:

Putin declared the invasion was a response to NATO’s “unacceptable” expansion. Yet Sweden and Finland are now poised to join, greatly increasing Russia’s border with the military alliance.

After vowing to “demilitarize” Ukraine, Putin has prompted the US and Europe to deliver massive quantities of modern weapons to help Ukrainians defend themselves — all this while incurring unprecedented sanctions that may push Russia toward its deepest recession in decades as foreign investors flee.

The challenge facing the US and its allies now is how to ratchet up the pain for Putin while avoiding divisions that may let him claim a Pyrrhic victory if his army succeeds in taking the Donbas and absorbing it into Russia. Zelenskiy said June 2 Russia now occupies 20% of Ukraine.

Rising energy prices are already causing political difficulties for US President Joe Biden and in the European Union, where a partial ban on Russian oil was agreed yesterday after weeks of division. Russian blockades of Ukrainian grain exports threaten a global food crisis that may add to calls for concessions to end the war.

Ukraine confounded Russian expectations of a quick and easy victory. The question now is whether the West or Putin will have greater staying power.

A man inspects a destroyed Russian tank in Dmytrivka village near Kyiv. Source: SOPA Images/LightRocket

Putin Bets on Ukraine Win Before His Economy Grinds to Halt
As Russia’s invasion settles into a grinding war of attrition, one question more than any other will likely decide the outcome: On whose side is time? Much of what unfolds will be determined by unpredictable battlefield dynamics. But, as Marc Champion explains, at least some of it will also come down to widgets in machinery, and Russia’s reliance on imports of foreign components.

  • US officials are divided over how much further they can push sanctions against Russia without sparking global economic instability and fracturing transatlantic unity.
  • The war has prompted a major rewrite of the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy, sources say.
Lada automobiles at a Lada car dealership in Tolyatti, Russia. Photographer: Yuri Kadobnovia/AFP/Getty Images

June 6

Rethinking defense | Before President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, top US military and intelligence officials were almost unanimous in judging that Russian forces would overrun Kyiv in weeks, if not days. Now, more than three months in, countries from Taiwan in the Pacific to Moldova in Eastern Europe are seeing ways to humble a superpower. The key lesson? Make yourself too prickly to swallow.

  • Turkey and Russia reached a tentative deal to restart shipments of Ukrainian agricultural products from a key Black Sea port, but Kyiv remains skeptical of the proposed pact, sources say.
  • Follow our rolling Ukraine coverage here.

Isamaa logo.svgEstonia: Seeking allies | Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, known for her fierce criticism of Putin, is battling to stay in power after she dismantled her ruling coalition, saying it lacked unity to face the dangers from Russia. Her best chance lies with clinching a deal with the smallest opposition party, the conservative Pro Patria, that’s expected to decide as soon as today whether to join a new alliance.

8 June

What’s the point of talking to Vladimir Putin? It’s a question that divides European leaders amid the terrible human and economic costs of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Advocates of diplomacy stress the need to halt the fighting to save lives and ease a potential global food crisis triggered by Russian blockades of Ukraine’s grain ports. Soaring energy prices as the European Union seeks to break dependence on Russia’s oil and gas add to political pressures at home.

Opponents say engagement amounts to talking to a war criminal whose denial of any invasion plans showed his word is worthless. Why negotiate with a blackmailer?

Key reading:

The tensions are palpable and geographic. French President Emmanuel Macron’s call not to “humiliate” Russia earned rebukes from Ukraine and rueful head-shaking from the EU’s eastern states that remember Moscow’s rule in the former Communist bloc.

Macron has spoken repeatedly with Putin, to little obvious effect. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who warned yesterday that isolating Russia isn’t possible, was also phoning the Russian president to urge a ceasefire until Putin stopped taking her calls, as Arne Delfs reports.

Putin has tied a resumption of grain exports to a lifting of crippling sanctions on his economy. His foreign minister is in Turkey today for talks on restarting shipments. Ukraine wasn’t invited, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Russia shows no sign of abandoning attempts to annex parts of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian leader says he seeks victory on the battlefield while remaining open to peace talks with Putin.

For the Kremlin, the lesson of Putin’s 2014 seizure of Crimea is that diplomacy eventually lets him keep what he can take.

Merkel and Putin at a Libyan peace conference in Berlin on Jan. ​​​​19, 2020. Photographer: Adam Berry/Getty Images 

 

Many of the luxury resorts of the Mediterranean or Caribbean taboo for sanctioned individuals

Russia’s economy deals with the worst recession in three decades. The country’s gross domestic product is expected to shrink by 12% as a result of the Western sanctions imposed due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, according to an internal Finance Ministry forecast obtained by Bloomberg.

A potential oil embargo, a decline in Russian gas consumption by EU countries, and the mass exodus of foreign companies from the Russian market were named as the key reasons for the worst expected downturn since 1994. Natalia Lavrova, chief economist at BCS Financial Group, said the trend is likely to expand gradually, “with a lot of negative carrying over into 2023.”

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EU starts to consider delaying oil sanctions as Hungary hardens stance. Delaying a ban on Russian oil in the next EU sanctions package against Russia is gaining support among EU nations, which Hungary has said would be too damaging to its economy, Bloomberg reports, citing EU diplomats. EU governments are still, however, pushing for an agreement on the full package by Monday, when EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels.

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You’re more likely to spot a Russian oligarch’s yacht in Turkey or Israel than the south of France these days.

International penalties imposed after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine mean that many of the luxury resorts of the Mediterranean or Caribbean are taboo for sanctioned individuals, and their assets.

But there are still safe havens for those looking to escape the net — a reality that shows the limits of US reach, and the consequences of American retrenchment.

Key reading:

Donald Trump made a virtue of disengaging from parts of the world he saw as having little economic value to America. Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was a key moment of retreat.

US allies have taken note, and some countries are maintaining ties with Russia as a result. Turkey, a NATO member, is blocking bids by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance. Israel rankles at US efforts to reinstate the Iran nuclear deal. The United Arab Emirates declined to join those at the United Nations condemning Russia’s invasion.

Flag of OPECMore politically damaging for Biden, the UAE is part of the OPEC cartel that has so far refused to raise crude output to help bring down prices at the pump.

US disengagement can be seen in Africa, while in Asia it’s involved in a tussle for influence with China. In Latin America, Colombia looks set to elect a president who may reinstate ties with Venezuela over Washington’s head.

To be sure, Japan and South Korea have imposed their own penalties on Russia. But that can’t hide the fact that swathes of the world are not inclined to follow the US lead.

True, Biden is flooding Ukraine with US military and other aid that dwarfs European contributions. Even so, the war still risks demonstrating that the US no longer holds the global sway it once did.  — Alan Crawford

Roman Abramovich’s yacht Eclipse moored in Marmaris, Turkey, on March 22. Photographer: Fatih Cetin/AFP/Getty Images

After not broadcasting its location for almost two weeks, a $150 million luxury superyacht linked to Leonid Mikhelson — a sanctioned billionaire and Russia’s second-richest person — reappeared, transmitting that it was headed to the Bahamas and Barcelona. But its final destination was actually Turkey, a favored destination for superyachts connected to Russian tycoons facing scrutiny as countries look to step up sanctions for Putin’s war.

The superyacht Pacific at Cruise Port Harbour in Marmaris, Turkey, in 2020. Source: Anadolu Agency

Greg Evans from the Independent presenting the 2022 June 15 Indy100 newsletter.

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Preceding

  1. Trump is proven wrong by the judge
  2. Right-wing fundamentalist Christians to dictate the U.S.A.
  3. Looking at 2021 in a nutshell
  4. One year ago people who said they love America stormed the Capitol
  5. The Moral Character of Public Officials: Remembering January 6
  6. Hope For, But Not In, Evangelicalism
  7. Is it Time to Abandon “Evangelical?”
  8. Christian nationalism is shaping a Pennsylvania primary — and a GOP shift
  9. Stories to read in the week of 2022 May 12 – 18
  10. 2022 March 21-31 according to the Week
  11. Stories the Week brought to you from 2022 May 26 – June 01

++

Additional reading

  1. A History Of The Culture Wars
  2. Beyond the Culture Wars
  3. January 6: A Failed Apocalypse
  4. 2021 in review #1 the most startling point
  5. Social media for Trumpists and changing nature of warfare
  6. Republican Party tinkering on fascism
  7. One year ago a sacred place was attacked

The Independent looking at June 09 – June 15

Dear reader,

 

Take a few moments to get up to speed on all the latest news from around the globe with our selection of Independent Premium’s top stories.

Your weekly round-up

June 09

Boris Johnson will attempt to relaunch his beleaguered government today with a policy blitz aimed at easing the housing crisis.

 

In a bid to sure up his premiership, the prime minister is expected to use a speech in Lancashire to announce plans to tear up rules stopping people from declaring their benefits as part of their income when applying for a mortgage and using it to make monthly payments.

 

However the speech risks being overshadowed by the continuing difficulties in his own party. Allies of Mr Johnson have warned him not to reward rebel MPs in a rumoured cabinet reshuffle.

 

It had been reported in The Telegraph that some suggested bringing in key rebel Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor to get him onside. But one ministerial ally dismissed the idea of a charm offensive, telling The Independent: “Reach out to them? F*** off. What kind of message would that send?

 

“There are only so many jobs in government. You cannot afford to reward disloyalty.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Week after week I’ve called on this prime minister to resign. I’ve been met with a wall of noise from the Tory benches. I thought they were trying to shout me down – when all this time it turns out that 41 per cent have been cheering me on!”

– SNP MP Ian Blackford mocks Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons over his narrow no-confidence vote victory on Monday.

June 10

Ministers have demanded the release of two Britons sentenced to death on Thursday by pro-Russia separatists in what has been condemned as a “Soviet-era show trial”.

 

Moscow was accused of breaching the Geneva Convention over the treatment of Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, who were captured while fighting with Ukrainian forces. They will reportedly face a firing squad after being convicted of terrorism in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic – but Britain says the pair should be treated as prisoners of war.

 

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, condemned the court ruling, saying: “This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy” and promising to “do everything we can” to support the pair’s families.

There were suggestions the men’s fate could be used by Moscow as a bargaining chip to force Britain to scale back the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.

What do Boris Johnson’s new housing plans mean for low-earners and how feasible are they?

The prime minister has revealed plans designed to help lower earners buy houses as part of a series of announcements aimed at easing the housing crisis and bolstering his own flagging popularity after Monday’s damaging confidence vote.

 

In a speech in Lancashire, Mr Johnson set out a pledge to extend the Right to Buy scheme for people renting from housing associations and another to allow them to use benefits to pay for mortgages, arguing that the money would be better spent helping people acquire their own property, rather than paying rent.

 

But are his proposals practical or “totally detached from reality”, as some experts have warned?

June 13

Boris Johnson is facing a Tory rebellion over his plans to override the Northern Ireland protocol as his own MPs warn him that the controversial plan goes against key Conservative principles.

 

The legislation, set to be published today, will break the withdrawal treaty Mr Johnson negotiated three years ago and is expected to give ministers the power to scrap checks on moving goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland.

 

A leaked briefing paper being shared among Tory MPs describes the move, which experts have warned could provoke a trade war with the European Union, as “damaging to everything the UK and Conservatives stand for.”

June 14

Boris Johnson is facing the prospect of new legal action from the European Union as early as Friday in response to legislation published today to tear up the arrangements for Northern Ireland agreed as part of his Brexit deal.

 

A bill published today would give ministers sweeping new powers to override elements of the Northern Ireland protocol, as well as taking new powers for the UK over tax and state subsidies in the region without agreement from Brussels.

 

The long-awaited legislation provoked a furious reaction in both Brussels and Dublin, with Irish premier Micheal Martin saying it was “very regrettable for a country like the UK to renege on an international treaty” which was negotiated and agreed by Mr Johnson in 2019.

The Big Question

Why are Conservatives concerned about Boris Johnson’s approach to Northern Ireland?

A week on from narrowly surviving a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, the prime minister is again facing a revolt from his own MPs, who warn that his controversial plans to override the Northern Ireland protocol go against key party principles.

 

A leaked briefing paper being shared among Conservative MPs describes Mr Johnson’s meddling with the Brexit agreement, which experts have warned could provoke a trade war with the European Union, as “damaging to everything the UK and Conservatives stand for”.

 

The move could be as devastating to the reputation of the party as the Iraq war was for Labour, it adds, hinting at fresh rebellion against the wounded Mr Johnson.

June 15

Boris Johnson’s “desperate and cruel” policy to deter asylum-seekers was in disarray last night after the handful of migrants on the first deportation flight to Rwanda won a last-minute legal reprieve.

 

The £500,000 taxpayer-funded flight was halted minutes before it was due to take off following interventions by the European Court of Human Rights.

 

It came despite ministers earlier insisting the flight would go ahead no matter how few were on board.

How has Paddington Bear become the face of anti-deportation protests?

Deportation notices for Paddington Bear have been put up by staff on internal Home Office notice boards in protest at asylum seekers being flown to Rwanda.

 

The posters say the fictional bear, created by author Michael Bond in 1958 and recently seen starring opposite the Queen, is wanted for a pending relocation flight to the African nation, adding that he arrived illegally in the UK via boat and without a visa.

 

The posters are a part of a campaign by internal Home Office staff who are speaking out against the government’s new refugee policies, revealing the true extent of disapproval over the policy, which has also been condemned by Prince Charles and the Archbishop of Canterbury, among many others.

 

The Independent’s Big Question for 9 Jun 2022: Will the climate crisis place coastal Britain at risk?

Will the climate crisis place coastal Britain at risk?

The climate emergency will inevitably mean some of the UK’s coastal communities will have to relocate elsewhere, according to Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency.

 

Sir James warns that flooding and cliff erosion will shape the outer edges of the country at an accelerated rate as a result of global heating causing sea levels to rise and extreme weather events to become more frequent.

 

This is what else he had to say.

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