The World Today for October 22, 2020

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Out with the Old

Recently, an officer in Chile’s national police force, the Carabineros, was caught on video throwing an unidentified 16-year-old over a bridge. The teen is now in the hospital recovering from the 23-foot drop.

During the days of Augusto Pinochet, the military dictator who ruled Chile between 1974 and 1990 after a CIA-backed coup, the public couldn’t do much to express its outrage over such miscarriages of justice. Those days are long gone.

Chileans have taken to the streets to demand reforms in the Carabineros, who racked up 8,500 human rights abuse allegations in the past year, as well as other big changes to the country’s political system, the Guardian reported.

Earlier this week, the demonstrations descended into looting and violence.

The protests started a year ago over an increase in metro tickets. They’ve now morphed into demands for wholesale change based on grievances stemming from years of political, economic and human rights abuses, wrote the New Yorker. The Carabineros’ crackdown on protesters hasn’t helped.

Gustavo Gatica was blinded after being shot in both eyes by the Carabineros during a protest in November, he told Amnesty International in a first-person piece. “The most difficult thing has been going outside and using a walking stick,” he said. “It’s stressful because of the noise and the surroundings. But in March I went out to protest again in the same plaza where I was shot.”

A referendum on Oct. 25 to change the South American country’s Pinochet-era constitution has become a rallying point for the demonstrators, Agence France-Presse explained. Proponents of the referendum said it would end the inequality fostered by Pinochet, who allowed a few elite families to acquire massive fortunes while the middle and lower classes fell behind.

Around 70 percent of voters favor reforms, mostly because a new constitution would guarantee education and healthcare, MercoPress wrote. The referendum would also weaken the power of property owners and the private sector, including making it easier to change laws that currently can be blocked by small, right-wing political parties.

Pinochet handed down the current constitution in 1980. Since then, it’s been amended numerous times. Chilean leaders drafted a more liberal constitution a few years ago. But it was scrapped in 2018 when conservative President Sebastián Piñera took office, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Conservatives fear a new constitution would jeopardize the economic growth that has made Chile a darling among globalists for its pro-business policies, reported the Washington Post.

“Chile has become the freest, safest and most prosperous country in Latin America,” argued Pedro Pizano, a fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, and Axel Kaiser, a scholar at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Santiago, the capital of Chile, in a separate Washington Post op-ed.

Evidently, many Chileans disagree.



Dogma Versus Tolerance

Pope Francis appeared to express support for civil unions for same-sex couples, a stance that defies the Roman Catholic Church’s position on gay marriage, the New York Times reported.

Pope Francis’ remarks were made in a new documentary that debuted in Rome Wednesday: In the film, he reiterated his support for homosexuals as children of God and directly addressed the issue of same-sex civil unions.

Documentary director Evgeny Afineevsky said the pontiff made the remarks directly to him but didn’t clarify when Pope Francis said them. Vatican officials and Pope Francis’ allies, however, said the remarks “in no way affect doctrine,” while expressing doubt the pope made those comments to the director.

The pope has previously expressed more tolerant views toward homosexuality and has clashed with the Church’s stance, which is opposed to same-sex unions and considers homosexuality “intrinsically disordered.”

In 2003, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – then led by former Pope Benedict XVI – wrote that “that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to the approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”


Teaming Up

Australian regulators are considering their own antitrust case against Google after the US Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the tech giant for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims described the US case as one of the world’s biggest antitrust cases over the past 20 years, adding that Australia would closely monitor the case.

Google has faced a lot of scrutiny in Australia: It is currently facing two court cases over allegations that it violated consumer and data privacy laws. The firm denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, Sims is preparing draft laws that would tackle the imbalance in bargaining power between Google and Australian media businesses that want the tech giant to pay for journalistic content that it features.

The bills propose that an arbitrator would make binding decisions on how much Google and Facebook must pay media companies for news content.

The company has also faced similar fights in the European Union with regulators trying to curb Google’s alleged quashing of competitors and imposing more than $9 billion in fines, according to Bloomberg.


When Is Meat, ‘Meat?’

The European Parliament will vote this week on whether to ban the use of meat-based terms, such as “hamburger” or “steak,” for products that contain plant-based ingredients, the Washington Post reported.

The proposals, believed to have been pushed by the meat industry, would also implement a ban on any term that compares vegetarian products such as plant-based milks, creams and cheeses to dairy ones like “butter substitute” or “cream-style.”

Supporters of the bill say that food labels should be clear and not confuse consumers, arguing that some buyers accidentally purchase vegetarian products while intending to buy meat-based ones.

Opponents and environmentalists, however, said that the proposal would confuse consumers even further and could stifle vegetarian innovation. They add that the bill makes little sense for the 27-nation bloc, which recently approved an effort to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2030.

The European Union has often been mocked for being too focused on food-labeling issues: The label “soy milk” has been banned in the entire bloc, while the term “veggie burgers” has been outlawed in France.

Nevertheless, advocates say that EU lawmakers appear divided on the ban.


Of Rivers and Monsters

The mystery of the infamous Spinosaurus depicted in the third Jurassic Park movie as a “T. Rex killer” has finally been solved: The 50-foot-long dinosaur was a “river monster,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Since its discovery in Egypt in 1910, archaeologists have had a hard time determining whether the extinct predator terrorized land or water creatures nearly 100 million years ago. It had an elongated, crocodilian snout and sported a six-foot sail on its back, as well as preferred to hang around rivers.

Recently, paleontologists reported in a new paper that the creature was a freshwater predator after recovering a trove of more than 1,200 dinosaur teeth in the ancient Kem Kem river system in Morocco. Researchers said that nearly half of the teeth buried in sediments belonged to the Spinosaurus, suggesting that it had an aquatic lifestyle and fed on fish.

“The results are fully consistent with the idea of a truly water-dwelling, ‘river monster,’” said co-author David Martill.

But aside from teeth, new findings have also categorized the dinosaur as an aquatic creature. Earlier this year, a research team found that the Spinosaurus’ tail had paddle-like bones that allowed it to be an adept swimmer.

The study finally solves a century-old mystery. Even so, some fans of the fearsome predator will be disappointed, hoping it was a land-dweller.

COVID-19 Global Update

More than 180 nations worldwide have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The following have the highest numbers worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*:

  1. US: 8,337,204 (+0.75%)
  2. India: 7,706,946 (+0.73%)
  3. Brazil: 5,298,772 (+0.47%)
  4. Russia: 1,438,219 (+0.00%)**
  5. Argentina: 1,037,325 (+1.80%)
  6. Spain: 1,005,295 (+1.72%)
  7. France: 1,000,369 (+2.78%)
  8. Colombia: 981,700 (+0.78%)
  9. Peru: 874,118 (+0.37%)
  10. Mexico: 867,559 (+0.80%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

**Numbers have been adjusted by affected country

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