Daily News Roundup

February 26, 2019

Tuesday, February 26

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, has been convicted of sexually abusing two choirboys while he was archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell was convicted in December but details of the trial have only just been made public after a suppression order was lifted.

The abuse occurred at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.

Pell pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has indicated he will launch an appeal against the conviction.

The guilty verdicts came after a five-week trial in the Victorian County Court and more than three days of deliberations by the jury.

The first jury to hear the case had to be discharged, some of them in tears, when they were not able to reach a unanimous decision.

But this time guilty verdicts were returned on all charges — one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child.

Pell’s lawyers applied to have his client’s bail extended so he could have knee surgery in Sydney.

Ahead of his sentencing next week, Pell will spend time behind bars.

Pell stepped down from his position as head of the Vatican’s finances in Rome to voluntarily return to Australia, vowing to clear his name.

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The bodies of two young brothers who sparked a major alert when they disappeared from their home on Monday, have been found in Townsville’s Ross River near where they were known to play.

Police said the boys aged three and five, were found in the river early  today (Tuesday) after a desperate search involving hundreds of people.

Police had hoped the children were lost after they were caught on security cameras walking away from a Cranbrook home on Monday, towards a riverside park where they often played.

Officers made the grim discovery near Cranbrook Park just before 6am today.

“We received information late last night – and that will be followed up later this morning – that a member of the public had seen the boys jumping into the water near this area,” Senior Sergeant Ian Wilkie told ABC television.

“We have searched that area and located the boys.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family this morning. Their grief must be unbearable.”

He said the river bank where the boys were found was steep, with weeds and other debris in the water after recent floods in Townsville.

Hundreds of locals turned out to help search after the boys’ relatives contacted police saying they had not returned home at the usual time.

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The Federal Government has approved the Snowy 2.0 project as part of its renewable energy policy, committing more than a billion dollars towards the project.

The giant engineering scheme – former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s pet project  – aims to put a new underground power station in a remote corner of the Snowy Mountains.

The Government has given the company responsible, Snowy Hydro, shareholder approval to proceed to the “early works stage” after reviewing its business case, concluding it is “satisfied that it stacks up”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was on site in NSW today where he commited “up to $1.38 billion in an equity investment for Snowy 2.0”.

“Snowy 2.0 will inject the energy supply and reliability our electricity market needs, helping cut costs to families and businesses and cut Australia’s emissions,” he said.

“Snowy 2.0 is shovel-ready which is why it’s one of the first cabs off the rank in our next tranche of energy projects to underwrite power generation, so we can make electricity more affordable and reliable.”

The plan revives the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Great Diving Range.

The Snowy 2.0 project will link the Talbingo and Tantangara reservoirs in Kosciuszko National Park.

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The announcement that Green Book had won best picture at this year’s Oscars has not gone down well will many filmgoers.

In fact,  BlackKklansman director Spike Lee made headlines after attempting to walk out of the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles in protest at the film’s win before ushers stopped him from leaving.

Speaking later Lee said the “refs made a bad call” in handing Green Book the Best Picture gong.

Lee was not the only one to voice his discontent with social media flooded with posts after Green Book took home the top Oscars gong — and a large number of them were far from happy.

Green Book followed the (reportedly true) story of a black musician and his white driver in the Deep South of America in 1962.

But while it was praised for the performances of its actors — Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor award — it has also been criticised for perpetuating white saviour stereotypes, and for exaggerating the story it tells.

It was written by Nick Vallelonga, the son of the white driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, who was paid to escort concert pianist Dr Don Shirley on his eight-week concert tour of the South.

As the pair make their way through the Mid West and Deep South of America, Tony eventually comes to respect Don for his talent as a piano player.

As this respect grows, Tony becomes increasingly appalled by the racism Don encounters on a daily basis, prompting him to intervene in several racist incidents along their journey.

Speaking in the media room after the Academy Awards ceremony, Lee compared Green Book to 1990 film Driving Miss Daisy, which focused on the same — albeit reversed — dynamic.

The director, who picked up Best Adapted Screenplay for BlackKklansman, said:

“I’m snakebit. Every time someone is driving somebody, I lose.”

In the wake of Lee’s comments, social media users have criticised the film, claiming it helps mainstream audiences feel good about social progress and racism from the perspective of a white protagonist who must come to terms with his black employer’s character before he deems him worthy of basic human rights.

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