Nation & World Briefs

Domenico Stinellis | AP
In this Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018 file photo, Lucetta Scaraffia, editor in chief of “Women Church World” a monthly magazine distributed alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, poses for portraits in her house in Rome.

Vatican magazine denounces sexual abuse of nuns by priests

Last year, after The Associated Press and other media reported on the scandal, the international association of women’s religious orders urged sisters to report abuse to police and their superiors, a significant shattering of the silence that has long kept the problem secret.

“If you point to power, to clericalism, the abuse against religious sisters takes on another aspect and can finally be recognized for what it is: an act of power in which touch becomes a violation of one’s personal intimacy,” editor Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in Friday’s article.

It noted that religious sisters told Vatican officials as far back as the 1990s about priests sexually abusing nuns in Africa because they were considered “safe” targets during the HIV crisis.

While little or nothing changed, sisters from the developing world and also wealthier countries are beginning to denounce their abuse as part of an overall demand for greater power for women in the church — part of the #MeToo reckoning.

“If the church continues to close its eyes to the scandal — made even worse by the fact that abuse of women brings about procreation and is therefore at the origin of forced abortions and children who aren’t recognized by priests — the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change,” Scaraffia wrote.

The issue has been in the headlines lately after a nun in India filed a police report accusing her bishop of rape. The bishop has denied her claims, and the controversy has split her religious community, which is financially dependent on the diocese.

In an opening editorial, one of Italy’s leading Jewish intellectuals, Anna Foa, said the abuse scandal had transformed a caress “into an expression in and of itself suspect and practically obscene.”

Foa also cited Francis’ own words in “thanking journalists who were honest and objective in discovering predator priests and made the voices of victims heard.”

Andrew Harnik | AP
Roger Stone leaves federal court Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Washington. Stone appeared for a status conference just three days after he pleaded not guilty to felony charges of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements.

Judge in Roger Stone case says she’s considering gag order

A federal judge said Friday that she was considering issuing a gag order in the special counsel’s case against longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone, saying the charges should be treated like a serious criminal matter and not a public relations campaign or book tour.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she had already noticed a significant amount of publicity in the case, including statements Stone himself has made on television asserting his innocence and criticizing as excessive his pre-dawn arrest last week. She said Stone risks tainting a pool of jurors who may ultimately decide his case.

“This is a criminal proceeding, not a public relations campaign,” Jackson said. She said she didn’t want the parties to be making comments about the case “on the courthouse steps or the talk show circuit.”

The judge did not immediately issue an order barring Stone or prosecutors from discussing the case, giving both sides until next week to weigh in. Any gag order would cover statements about the prosecution but, the judge noted, would still leave the conservative radio host free to discuss other topics.

Stone can discuss “foreign relations, immigration or Tom Brady” as much as he wants, the judge said.

Stone, who has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements, told reporters Thursday that he was prepared to adhere to a gag order if the judge issued one but that he was also likely to appeal it. One of his lawyers is a noted First Amendment attorney who represented the rap group 2 Live Crew in an obscenity fight that reached a federal appeals court nearly 30 years ago.

Stone did not speak in court Friday except to say “Yes, Your Honor,” when asked if he understood that he could not discuss the case with other witnesses.

Stone made the rounds on television last weekend and held a news conference Thursday at a Washington hotel, where he said he was prepared to tell the truth to Mueller but he had no derogatory information about Trump, his longtime friend.

“I have great affection and remain a strong and loyal supporter of the president,” Stone said.

He suggested that he was accused of “after-the-fact process crimes,” including lying to lawmakers investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, rather than any illegal collusion.

In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors with Mueller’s office said the FBI seized physical devices from his home, apartment and office. They said multiple hard drives containing several terabytes of information have been recovered, including bank and financial records and the contents of numerous phones and computers.

Kydo News Via AP
A customer picks up a bottle of wine imported from Spain after being priced down at a retail store in Chiba, near Tokyo, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. The European Union and Japan have inaugurated a landmark deal that will will scrap nearly all tariffs on products both sides trade in.

As US questions free trade, EU and Japan usher in new deal

The European Union and Japan on Friday ushered in a landmark trade deal they say will boost business between the two economic powers and sends the message that international pacts still have a purpose in an age of increasing protectionism.

The agreement that comes into effect will scrap nearly all tariffs on products both sides trade in. It will have a big impact on Japanese exports of cars to Europe and EU exports of agricultural products like cheese to Japan.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Friday that both sides have “something to celebrate. Today, we have the entry into force of the largest ever free trade area.”

“Europe and Japan are sending a message to the world about the future of open and fair trade,” said EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The EU and Japan account for almost a third of the world’s economy and the deal, which was formally signed last summer, is on average expected to benefit their 635 million citizens.

In Japan, shoppers could already get their hands on priced-down Spanish wines, since the duties on wine exports, which currently stand at 15 percent, were being scrapped.

Some department and convenience stores in Tokyo were holding European wine fairs with price cuts of up to 20 percent.

Japan’s trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, welcomed the agreement, saying it’s significant especially amid concerns of growing protectionism in trade.

Economy Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the deal, along with another pact involving Pacific Rim countries, “would serve as a new growth engine for Japan’s economy.”

The pact runs counter to U.S. President Donald Trump’s moves to hike tariffs on imports from many trading partners.