We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Catholic churches set ablaze during constitutional revolt in Chile
Two Catholic churches were looted and set afire over the weekend as tens of thousands of demonstrators in Chile’s capital of Santiago took to the streets to demand the country’s current constitution, first instituted under dictator Pinochet, be replaced. Reports say an increase in subway fare led young people to take to the streets in protests that grew increasingly violent into the evening. Rioters destroyed local businesses and infrastructure and set ablaze the parish of the Carabineros, a parish known for serving the local police force, and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The Archbishop of Santiago spoke out against the destruction of the churches in a statement saying “the poor are the most affected by the violence.” Soledad Herrera, president of Catholic Voices Chile echoed this sentiment, saying, “we regret the suffering that the fires have caused to the parishioners, mainly the elderly, who have lived fundamental milestones of their lives in these churches…. We also regret the discomfort caused to all Chileans, because [the attacks] also affect the freedom, and freedom of religion, we want to promote and protect.”
Interior Minister Victor Perez addressed frustrated protestors by calling them to vote in the upcoming October 25th constitutional referendum, which, if passed, would erase much of the 1980 constitution marred by “its links to a dictatorship guilty of political murder, torture, and mass incarceration.” —Mariel Lindsay
Second presidential debate shows more substance, less chaos
NBC White House correspondent Kristin Welker moderated the second and final presidential debate Thursday night, which many have called a much more civil discussion between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. (If you missed the first one, Weird Al did a pretty good summary here.)
Part of what made this second debate different from the first was that the Commission on Presidential Debates changed the format to mandate the first two minutes of each candidates’ remarks be uninterrupted with the other participant’s microphone muted. It would appear that effort paid off in a more civilized debate with greater substance and fewer interruptions. While both campaigns report positive views of their candidate’s performance, I would say the winner of the debate was enforced boundaries. —Mary Rose Somarriba
OxyContin manufacturer to be replaced by a government program
With the nation still reeling from the opioid crisis in which almost half a million people died from overdoses within ten years, the OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma has pleaded guilty to three federal criminal charges. "Purdue Pharma actively thwarted the United States' efforts to ensure compliance and prevent diversion,” Tim McDermott of the Drug Enforcement Administration said. “The devastating ripple effect of Purdue's actions left lives lost and others addicted."
As a result of the guilty pleas, the company owes around $8 billion in civil liability, fees, and past profits, and because they are unable to pay the full amount, the company must also be dissolved. Its assets will be used to create a new “public benefit company” in its place that the Department of Justice claims will “function entirely in the public interest.” Additionally, the new company will still continue to produce painkillers like OxyContin, a move that the Deputy General overseeing this settlement defended by pointing out that “there are legitimate uses for painkillers such as OxyContin.”
Some states are speaking out against this decision to nationalize Purdue Pharma, with 25 state attorneys writing to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr in condemnation of the government’s plan to get into the business of selling opioids. —ML
Hunter Biden is accused of alleged sexual abuse of a minor
Following the ongoing release of information related to the hard-drive materials allegedly belonging to the son of the current Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, reports indicate that some of the photos and videos show Hunter Biden engaging in sexual activity with at least one underage girl.
White House Correspondent Chanel Rion, tweeted, “Just saw for myself a behind the scenes look at the #HunterBiden hard drive: Drugs, underage obsessions, power deals.” Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who first intercepted the materials from the electronics mechanic with whom Hunter left his damaged laptop, voiced similar allegations, telling reporters that he turned the hard drive data from the laptop over to Delaware police “over concerns of child endangerment involving numerous pictures of underage girls.”
Hunter is under additional fire for emails that allegedly show that he leveraged his father’s position as Vice President to cut immensely profitable deals with foreign governments. One alleged whistleblower, Tony Bobulinski, a business associate of Biden’s tapped to manage “a partnership between the Chinese...and the Biden family” has publicly claimed that "the Biden family aggressively leveraged the Biden family name to make millions of dollars from foreign entities even though some were from communist-controlled China.” Bobulinski has announced that he will turn over all electronic devices and records of business dealings with the Bidens over to the FBI.
Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager dismisses evidence against the family as “Russian misinformation.” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe since noted there was "no intelligence to support" that Russian disinformation efforts were behind the laptop’s contents, and the FBI said in a statement that it has “nothing to add” Ratcliffe’s assessment. —ML
Teacher’s beheading sparks upheaval in France
Anger swept through France this week after last Friday, schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in a revenge killing motivated by Paty’s use of cartoons featuring Muhammad in a free speech lesson.
The French government unleashed a crackdown beginning on Monday, raiding Muslim aid organizations and arresting individuals, many of them already on the state’s radar for extremist ties or online hate speech. Thousands of citizens demonstrated in Paris, expressing concern for France’s cherished tradition of secularism.
Among the arrested was a father of a student at Paty’s school who had made a viral online video demanding the teacher be fired. The suspect in the murder, 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdullakh Anzorov, was killed by police soon after the crime. He had apparently approached children at the school in one of Paris’s suburbs and offered to pay them to point out Paty as he left work. Anzorov then attacked the teacher on his way home.
Paty had used cartoons originally from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which inspired a violent terrorist attack in 2015 when they were first published. He had invited Muslim students to leave the classroom if they wished to avoid being offended.
France continues to struggle to integrate its Muslim minority into a society that has a strong tradition of secularism. Flash points have included outlawing modest, Muslim-friendly swimwear, banning religious garb from burqas to Jewish skull caps to Christian cross necklaces, and even opposing homeschooling, which French president Emmanuel Macron has vowed to end. —Margaret Brady
Chris Pratt the worst Chris in Hollywood? Not so, say pals
Chris Pratt was the victim of online bullies this week, but he was quickly backed up by his costars as being one of Hollywood’s good guys.
It all started with a tweet displaying the images of four of entertainment’s biggest stars named Chris: Hemsworth, Pine, Evans, and Pratt. “One has to go,” the tweet said, inviting commenters to declare which Chris they’d be willing to part with.
Pratt came under fire due to suspicions about his political leanings (he has yet to make any endorsement in the 2020 presidential election) as well aspersions cast on his religion (Pratt publicly acknowledges being a Christian).
Pratt’s co-stars jumped to his defense, with supportive comments coming from Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, and Robert Downey, Jr.
“What a world... The ‘sinless’ are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt," Downey Jr. posted on Instagram. "A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude... AND he just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value."
Downey is referring to Pratt’s recent union with his second wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, the daughter of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, niece of the late President John F. Kennedy.
Katherine Schwarzenegger chimed in on the controversy surrounding her husband, saying, “Being mean is so yesterday. There’s enough room to love all these guys. Love is what we all need, not meanness and bullying. Let’s try that.” —MB
The UK breaches obligations under withdrawal agreement
Trade talks between the United Kingdom and European Union will resume after both sides had productive conversations, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said to the European Parliament.
“Despite the difficulties we’ve faced, an agreement is within reach if both sides are willing to work constructively, if both sides are willing to compromise and if we are able to make progress in the next few days on the basis of legal texts and if we are ready over the next few days to resolve the sticking points, the trickiest subjects,” Barnier said.
Barnier’s comment comes as a surprise since Boris Johnson had just warned exporters to prepare for not reaching a deal when the EU launched legal proceedings against the UK for not withdrawing legislation that would breach the deal terms. The Prime Minister’s government proposed legislation that would have overridden parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Northern Ireland Protocol makes it unnecessary for border patrol officers to check goods at the border of Northern Ireland (a non-EU country) into the Republic. This protocol comes from Northern Ireland’s rocky history called “the Troubles,” in which police attacked civil rights marchers in 1968, injuring nearly 50 thousand people and killing nearly four thousand. Checking goods might spur political instability say opponents of the Prime Minister’s measure to create a regulatory customs border in the Irish Sea. Negotiators could find a deal by mid-November, sources told Bloomberg. —MW
Good News of the Week
Salvation Army Starts Christmas Fundraising Early
The famous holiday Red Kettle campaign is facing an uphill battle this year, with pandemic-wary shoppers avoiding in-person visits to shopping malls and boutiques. So the Salvation Army is getting an early start.
It’s called the “Rescue Christmas” campaign, and it’s a 100 day sprint to raise money for the needy. “We believe that Christmas for millions of Americans is at risk," Salvation Army commander Kenneth Hodder told CNN. "The need that we see at Christmas will last far beyond the holidays."
With fewer people carrying cash, the Army is emphasizing online giving at its Rescue Christmas donation page. Contributions given will still stay in the community the money came from. —MB
Watch of the Week
Dolly Parton has a Christmas musical special coming to Netflix, and the trailer is a glimmer of hope in dark times.
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