On Wednesday 10 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders submitted their resignation in an open letter citing President Trump’s policy aims are “diametrically opposite” to the goals of the commission.
The very next day reports emerged that Trump’s pick to replace National Security Advisor Mike Flynn — forced to resign after a scandal involving illegal conversations with Russian officials — has turned down the offer of a cabinet post.
The fact that these most recent resignations and rejections come from decidedly different ends of the political spectrum suggests that Trump’s toxic brand is increasingly unpalatable for even many committed insiders.
Several members of the advisory commission stated that they had intended to stay on as members of the panel — first created by President Clinton and renewed under Presidents Bush and Obama with the goal of serving as a bridge between the federal government and AAPI communities— in the hopes that “a seat at the table” would allow them to continue to advocate for their communities.
However, Commissioner Maulik Pancholy said that Trump’s “rhetoric of hate” made that impossible.
“February 19, 2017, will be the 75th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 which led to the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Protecting civil rights and fighting against bullying were pillars of our Commission’s work. We cannot serve under an administration that seeks to exclude members of our society or take away their rights, especially the Muslim community, which is very much part of our AAPI community,” wrote Pancholy.
“AAPIs cannot participate in this,” commission chair Tung Thanh Nguyen told NBC. “Even if the actions [of the Trump administration] may not be specifically directed at one AAPI group or another, we have suffered this kind of discriminatory, exclusionary actions, and we do not want to support any of that.”
Six other members of the commission resigned on the day of Trump’s inauguration, leaving only four remaining members of the 20 member panel which reports to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Earlier this week President Trump reportedly offered retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, currently working for U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, a spot in his cabinet as National Security Adviser.
However just hours after Trump referred to Harward in his Thursday press conference as “somebody that I think will be outstanding,” a White House spokesperson told reporters that Harward had turned down the post, citing family reasons.
Reuters reported that sources familiar with Harward’s decision say he turned down the job over concerns about being able to hire his own team.
Harward joins two other Trump cabinet picks — Vincent Viola and Andrew Puzder — who withdrew their names for consideration in the last two weeks.
Earlier this month Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from Trump’s business advisory council after he came under massive pressure for allowing Uber drivers to break a wildcat strike by New York City taxi drivers over Trump’s Muslim ban executive order.
Australia’s Catholic Church Paid $213M in Abuse Compensation
Australia’s Catholic Church has paid US$213 million in compensation to thousands of child abuse victims since 1980, a government inquiry heard Thursday — the first time the total compensation paid by the church’s schools, orphanages and residences has been revealed.
A report at a Royal Commission into institutional abuse said 3,066 victims had received some form of compensation from a Catholic body in the 35 years to 2015.
Cash payments of US$199.3 million amounted to an average US$70,000 per person. Some compensation was in non-cash payments.
The institution which paid the most was global order the Christian Brothers, which paid US$35.1 million to 763 people, averaging US$47,000 per person. The Jesuits paid the most per complainant, at US$198,000 each, on average.
The average time between a person experiencing abuse and filing a complaint was 33 years, state prosecutor Gail Furness said in the report, adding that “many survivors face barriers which deter them from reporting abuse to authorities and to the institution in which the abuse occurred”.
The royal commission, Australia’s highest most powerful type of inquiry which can compel witnesses and recommend prosecutions, has previously heard that 7 percent of priests working in Australia between 1950 and 2010 were accused of child sex crimes, but few were pursued.
The report was based on analysis of data kept by Catholic Church authorities.
The Royal Commission has been roundly praised by victim advocates as the most comprehensive public inquiry into child abuse. It is due to report back to the government in December.
Last year, Australia’s most senior Catholic figure, Cardinal George Pell, said the church had made “enormous mistakes” and “catastrophic” choices by refusing to believe abused children, shuffling abusive priests from parish to parish and over-relying on counseling of priests to solve the problem.
Victim advocates on Thursday said the wide range in compensation by 1,049 Catholic institutions meant management of abuse compensation should be handled by the government.
“There’s been so much variance in how the processes have been conducted, what offers have been made, it shows me that we need a consistent system such as the national redress scheme to actually make this just for survivors,” said Helen Last, chief executive officer of In Good Faith Foundation Ltd, which represents 460 abuse victims.
“It’s a picture of great unfairness and inequity between survivors across Australia depending on where they placed their claim.”
The national government has said it will start a US$3.1 billion redress scheme for victims in 2018, but some victim groups have complained the scheme will work on an “opt in” basis, meaning it cannot force organizations to cooperate.
A spokesman for Social Services Minister Christian Porter, who is overseeing the compensation scheme, declined to comment on the Royal Commission but said an advisory council had started work setting up the scheme.
Sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests in the Philippines are on the rise, according to senior church investigators.
But this new 101 East documentary reveals that prosecutions of priests alleged to have committed sexual abuse are extremely rare in Asia’s largest Catholic nation.
Some alleged victims say they have been pressured not to file charges and were paid money in exchange for their silence.
Imelda* was 15 years old when she says the priest in her village sexually assaulted her.
“After he kissed me on the forehead, he hugged me,” she recalled. “It was really painful. Why did he do that to me?”
She says that when her family discovered she had reported the incident to the police, they beat her.
“They actually beat me to the point that I was afraid to go home. They were angry with me. They were telling me that what I did was wrong. They treated me like a stray dog because of what I did, because I filed a case,” she says.
Then she claims a man and a woman from the church gave her $150 to drop the charges. Her case never went to court.
‘God did not say this’
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who heads the Catholic Church’s National Tribunal of Appeals in the Philippines, says he is receiving more complaints of sexual abuse involving priests, including allegations of paedophilia.
“The laity, especially in urban areas, have become rather alert and courageous in denouncing the errancy of priests,” he says.
|Father Elmer Cajilig and two other priests have set up their own self-styled Catholic ministry [101 East/Al Jazeera]|
“I may be offending other bishops but this is a personal stand, that gone are the days when you can just close your eyes and plug your ears … as if nothing is happening.”
Al Jazeera has also found that some Filipino priests are breaking the vow of celibacy and fathering children.
Father Elmer Cajilig, who has four children with his long-term girlfriend, says that the celibacy vow for ordained priests is “only a man-made rule”.
“God did not say this, so I think I cannot say that I’ve committed sin. I am just continuing His mandate … to go and multiply.”
Father Cajilig and two other priests who also fathered children have set up their own self-styled Catholic ministry, where they preach at privately owned churches.
They have written to the Vatican, asking to be accepted by the Church.
Father Jaime Achacoso, secretary of the Canon Law Society in the Philippines, condemns these ‘father’ priests, but says in some remote dioceses, one in five priests has had children.
“That’s the reality that happens in those areas where discipline, where the hierarchy is not so well-organised,” says Father Achacoso.
The Vatican did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment about how it handles allegations of clergy sexual misconduct and abuse in the Philippines.
When asked if Filipino bishops are obliged to report sexual assault allegations to civil authorities, Father Achacoso says all investigation should be left to the Church.
“A person is innocent until proven otherwise, and so the Church handles these cases with a lot of discretion, both to protect the dignity, the good name of the priest and also for the victim.”
* Name changed to protect her identity.
Follow Tiffany Ang on @tiffeeang
Source: Al Jazeera News