Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Primates of the Church and the Perils of Usury

The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say.

Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank's accounts with another smaller institution.

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome.

The Vatican said it was "perplexed and astonished", and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi.

The Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), was created during World War II to administer accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests.

Rome magistrates are looking into claims that Mr Gotti Tedeschi and the bank's chief executive Paolo Cipriani violated laws that require banks to disclose information on financial operations.

The BBC's David Willey in Rome says the Bank of Italy's financial intelligence unit tipped off Italy's tax police last week, after two suspicious transactions were reported between the Vatican Bank and two different Italian banks.

The tax police seized 23m euros that the Vatican Bank had tried to transfer from a small Italian bank called Credito Artigianato.

Some 20m euros was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to another Italian bank, Banca del Fucino.

Reports say the Vatican Bank had failed to inform the financial authorities where the money had come from.

In a statement, the Vatican strongly defended its record.

"The Holy See is perplexed and astonished by the initiatives of the Rome prosecutors, considering the data necessary is already available at the Bank of Italy," the statement said.

And the Vatican also gave its backing to the two officials under investigation.

"The Holy See wants to express the maximum confidence in the president and in the chief executive of the IOR," it said.

Mr Gotti Tedeschi, who is an expert on financial ethics, has been in charge of the bank for a year. He was formerly head of Spanish bank Santander's Italian operations.

The Vatican Bank was last mired in scandal in 1982 when its governor Archbishop Paul Marcinkus was indicted over his involvement with the collapse of what was then Italy's largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano.

Although he was never arrested, the fallout from that scandal took a darker turn when two of its top executives, one of them its chairman, Roberto Calvi, were murdered.

Calvi, known as God's Banker because of his close ties to the Vatican, was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

Bishop Eddie Long Accused of Abusing Christ's Gospel to Extort Sex from Boys

"The men were 17- and 18-year-old members of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities."  [SOURCE]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Handi is Higher than your Handi

MUMBAI: The rush of injured Govindas, who form human pyramids to reenact what Lord Krishna used to do in his childhood, stunned doctors at public hospitals in Mumbai on Thursday. As many as 170 Govindas reached emergency rooms in civic hospitals. Worryingly, six of them got grave skull and spine injuries; two of them needing ventilator support.

Doctors said dangerously high 'handis' this year — some up to 50 feet — and requiring as many as nine tiers of Govinda pyramids, had contributed to the more-severe-than-usual cases this year. "With the prize money increasing every year, the height of the handi too has been increasing and people are taking bigger risks. We see the number of patients increasing too," said

Dr Sameer Rege, assistant professor of surgery in KEM Hospital, Parel.

One of the most critical patients is admitted to KEM Hospital's ICU. "A 30-year-old Kurla resident with skull injuries had to be put on ventilator support," said KEM Hospital dean Dr Sanjay Oak. "His condition is extremely critical," a doctor treating him added.

Another teenager with a head injury is on ventilator support at Sion Hospital. "The patient was brought to us in the evening, and our doctors suspect internal bleeding or paralysis," said Sion Hospital dean Dr Sandhya Kamat.

Andheri resident Abhijeet Patel (25) was rushed to Cooper Hospital with serious injuries. "He is paralysed waist-down after sustaining spine injuries," said medical superintendent Dr S Gawde.

In JJ Hospital, Byculla, 27-year-old Machhindra Kamble was scheduled for surgery.

Kamble, who has been suffering from polio since childhood, got injured as the people from higher levels of a pyramid, fell on his affected leg in Worli. "Someone from the third level fell on Kamble's leg, which broke from the joint. He will need a plate in the leg," said a doctor.

According to the BMC disaster management cell, of the 170 cases, 152 were minor.

Eighteen people, including six critical, were admitted to various hospitals.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy Janmashtami! Jaya Sri Krishna!

Jagatdeva Sri Krishna and his brother Balarama steal butter for the monkeys while Mother Yashoda looks on.