The Vatican has broken its silence after a shocking Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed that more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more, over a span of seven decades, as the church leadership covered up the abuse, transferring predator priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in a “secret archive.” In a statement issued Thursday—two days after the grand jury delivered its report—Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke described the abuses as “criminal and morally reprehensible.”
Greg Burke: “There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow. The Holy See treats very seriously the work of the grand jury and the report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors. The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. The acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and, in many cases, also their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from the past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”
The Vatican told victims Pope Francis “is on their side” and promised action to “root out this tragic horror.” The statement came just months after the pope said he mishandled a Vatican investigation into widespread sexual abuses by clergy in Chile, and less than two months after a Vatican court sentenced the church’s former ambassador to Washington, D.C., to five years in prison on a child pornography charge.
In Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has formed a new group to coordinate Iran policy and negotiate U.S.-Iran relations since Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. The newly formed “Iran Action Group” will be led by senior policy adviser Brian Hook, who led the administration’s unsuccessful attempt to negotiate changes to the nuclear deal before Trump withdrew in May. The appointment comes as tensions are escalating between the U.S. and Iran after the Trump administration reimposed economic sanctions against Iran last week. Brian Hook spoke Thursday after his appointment as U.S. special representative for Iran.
Brian Hook: “The Iran regime has been a force for instability and violence. Our new strategy addresses all manifestations of the Iranian threat, and the new Iran Action Group will be focused on implementing that strategy.”
In Massachusetts, The Boston Globe has stepped up security at its offices, after a building manager reported several threatening phone calls on Thursday, including a bomb threat. The threats came as President Trump singled out The Boston Globe on Twitter after the paper’s editorial board led hundreds of media outlets in a coordinated series of editorials Thursday condemning Trump’s attacks on the free press. Trump tweeted, “Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!” and ”THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country.” Earlier this month, the outgoing United Nations human rights commissioner criticized Trump’s attacks on the media, calling them “very close to incitement to violence.”
Former leaders of the U.S. national security establishment are blasting President Trump’s decision to strip ex-CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance, calling it a clear attempt to stifle the free speech of the president’s critics. Their open letter was signed by six former CIA directors, five former CIA deputy directors and a former director of national intelligence. It came as The New York Times reported White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sought to advance the security clearance story in order change the topic away from news reports about Trump’s alleged use of a racial slur, the N-word. Meanwhile, the former naval admiral who led the assassination raid on Osama bin Laden wrote in an open letter he would “consider it an honor” if Trump would revoke his security clearance. Retired Admiral William McRaven, who led the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command under President Obama and now serves as chancellor of the University of Texas, wrote, “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation. If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken.”
The Pentagon said Thursday it will delay a military parade ordered by President Trump until at least 2019. The announcement came just hours after news broke that the estimated cost of meeting Trump’s request had skyrocketed—from $12 million to $92 million. The parade, originally scheduled for Washington, D.C., on November 10—Veteran’s Day—was to feature armored vehicles, soldiers in period uniforms, and flyovers by military aircraft. Trump ordered the parade after he attended a Bastille Day celebration in France last year with President Emmanuel Macron.
Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman has released another secretly recorded audiotape, saying it backs up her claim she was offered hush money by the Trump campaign to buy her silence over Trump’s use of the N-word and other racist remarks. In the tape, recorded last December just days after Omarosa left the White House, Lara Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, is heard offering Omarosa $15,000 a month in exchange for a small role in the Trump campaign.
Lara Trump: “It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you’ve got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can’t have—we’ve got to”—
Omarosa Manigault Newman: “Oh, god, no.”
Lara Trump: “—keep everything, everybody positive, right?”
The legendary singer and songwriter Aretha Franklin, celebrated across the world as the Queen of Soul, died Thursday at her home in Detroit at the age of 76. For decades, Aretha Franklin has been celebrated as one of the greatest American singers of any genre, who helped give birth to soul and redefined the American musical tradition. She was also a staunch supporter of the civil rights movement—going on a tour with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and offering to post bail for jailed political prisoner Angela Davis. After headlines, we’ll spend the rest of the hour looking back on the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin. Our guests will include professor Angela Davis.
In India, officials say the death toll from devastating monsoon rains has risen to at least 164 amid flooding in the southern state of Kerala that have been described as the worst in nearly a century. Forecasters warn heavy rains will continue to fall throughout the weekend.
Meanwhile, in China, more than 50,000 people evacuated Shanghai as Typhoon Rumbia made landfall Friday, bringing powerful winds and floods. It’s the 18th typhoon to affect China this year. The extreme weather comes as 2018 is on track to be one of the four hottest years on record, with greenhouse gas emissions driving up global temperatures.
Back in the United States, a federal court in Montana has ruled that the company hoping to build the Keystone XL pipeline must conduct further environmental reviews before proceeding with construction. The ruling is the first major victory for environmentalists opposed to the pipeline since regulators approved an alternative path for it last November. The KXL pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands region in Alberta to refineries as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. In a statement, Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network welcomed the ruling, saying, “The dirty tar sands crude oil that KXL would transport requires far more energy to process than other sources of petroleum, and its extraction has already destroyed hundreds of square miles of boreal forests and wetlands in Alberta. We need to keep our fossil fuels in the ground and shut down extraction of highly polluting tar sands at their source.”
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era water protections. Thursday’s ruling by a district court judge in South Carolina effectively reinstates the Clean Water Rule, the implementation of which was delayed by the Environmental Protection Agency last June. The Clean Water Rule sets drinking water safeguards, while offering federal protection to wetlands and thousands of streams that flow into larger rivers and lakes.
Fourteen hundred employees of Google have signed a letter protesting against their company’s plans to launch a service in China that will allow Chinese censors to block search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest. The New York Times reports the workers say the plan raises “urgent moral and ethical issues.” Earlier this month, The Intercept reported Google’s project, code-named Dragonfly, was launched in the spring of last year and accelerated after Google’s CEO met with a top Chinese government official in December.
In Argentina, a 34-year-old woman has died after attempting to induce a miscarriage. It’s the first reported death from an outlawed, unsafe abortion since Argentina’s Senate rejected legislation to legalize abortion last week. The decision dealt a blow to women’s health and reproductive rights groups. The powerful Catholic Church had lobbied heavily against legalizing abortion. Currently, abortion in Argentina is banned except in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is at risk. Dozens of Argentine women die every year as a result of unsafe illegal abortions.
In Louisiana, the FBI says it will assist local police in an investigation after an African-American mayoral candidate in Shreveport was threatened with lynching if he did not drop out of the race. Steven Jackson says someone placed an envelope containing a threatening note at his home, reading, ”LEAVE OUR STATUE & PROPERTY ALONE & GET OUT OF THE RACE [N-word],” along with a caricature of Jackson with his head in a noose and the word ”ROPE” underneath. Jackson is a parish commissioner who was part of a 7-5 vote last October in favor of removing a statue honoring Confederate soldiers outside the Caddo Parish Courthouse.
And in immigration news, a group of children and teenagers who have been separated from their parents for years as a result of U.S. deportation policies are planning to travel to the border in Texas in early September to reunite with their deported parents and demand immigration authorities allow their parents to return to the United States. These are two members of the group Movement of Migrant Women and Their Families, Guadalupe and Miguel Angel González, a brother and sister who are planning to travel to Texas to reunite with their mother, who was deported to Mexico.
Guadalupe González: “All I’m demanding is what I’m given by right—that is to say, my mother. We’re going to cross the border and return with our family members, because we’re demanding the authorities return them to us and that they allow them to pass.”
Miguel Angel González: “We young people with rights and papers who were born in the United States, we’re going to the border in Texas to demand that they return our parents to us, because it doesn’t feel good to live without your mother or your father.”