Weekly News Roundup

August 23, 2019

Cardinal George Pell appeal denied
Image: Los Angeles Times

FRIDAY August 23

Cardinal George Pell will return to prison for child sex crimes after a Victorian court rejected his appeal at his hearing on Wednesday. 

Pell has one further avenue of appeal, to the High Court of Australia. It was not immediately clear if he would take his case to the country’s highest court.  

A spokesperson for the cardinal said in a statement that George Pell was “obviously disappointed” with the decision. 

“His legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court,” the statement read. 

In a split decision of 2-1 judges, the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict of the County Court jury that found Pell guilty on five child sex abuse charges last December. 

The most senior member of the Catholic Church to be convicted for historical child sexual abuse offences looked solemn as the decision was read out in court and broadcast live on television. One witness described him as looking “destroyed”.

Pell has spent about 170 days in prison and has strongly denied the charges. 

His jail term of six years stands after today’s ruling and he must serve three years and eight months before he is eligible for parole. 

Shortly after he was convicted, Pell was stripped of his position as the Vatican’s chief financial officer and expelled from Pope Francis’ inner circle of trusted cardinals. 

The full bench of the Supreme Court handed down its majority verdict with Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and President of the Court of Appeal Chris Maxwell’s finding against Pell, while Justice Mark Weinberg dissented and found for the cardinal’s acquittal. 

It is unclear where Pell will be taken as he continues to serve his sentence. 

Pell is considered a high risk prisoner with many threats made against him, so it is very likely he will continue to serve his sentence in isolation from other inmates. 

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Spider-Man is set to exit the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) after Disney and Sony failed to reach an agreement, according to reports. 

Disney/Marvel Studios hold the rights to the comic book characters featured in the MCU, but rival studio Sony owns the on-screen rights to Spider-Man. 

It is one of the reasons why we have had three versions of Spider-Man since the new millennium. A complicated contract means Sony has to make a Spider-Man movie every few years or the rights revert back to Marvel/Disney. 

Sony and Disney announced four years ago they had reached a deal where Spider-Man would appear in the MCU and in MCU movies but where Sony still financed and distributed the stand-alone Spider-Man movies that have included Homecoming and Far From Home. 

Now according to a report in Deadline that deal is over. 

Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, will no longer have any creative input into the on-screen Spider-Man character. 

Tom Holland will continue to play Spider-Man and Homecoming and Far From Home director Jon Watts is expected to have two more movies coming.

Deadline reported the schism came over Disney/Marvel’s desire to stump up 50 per cent of the financing for the films, which in effect would likely mean pocketing 50 per cent of the profit. 

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French President Emmanuel Macron has said the record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest is an “international crisis” that needs to be on the top of the agenda at the G7 summit. 

“Our house is burning,” he tweeted. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his government was “open to dialogue” about the surge in fires. 

However he said calls to discuss the issue at the G7 summit, which Brazil is not participating in, evoke “a misplaced colonialist mindset”. 

Satellite data published by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has shown an increase of 85% this year in fires across Brazil, most of them in the Amazon region. 

Conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro’s government for the Amazon’s plight, saying that he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land. 

He has suggested that non-governmental organisations started the fires, but admitted he had no evidence for this claim. 

Mr Macron, host of this week’s summit warned on Thursday that the health of the Amazon was a matter of international concern. 

The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world, is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterrs has also said he is “deeply concerned” about the fires there. 

“In the midst of the global climate crisis, we cannot afford more damage to a major source of oxygen and biodiversity. The Amazon must be protected,” he tweeted. 

The Brazilian President has said that the country is not equipped to fight the fires, asking reporters on Thursday, “The Amazon is bigger than Europe, how will you fight criminal fires in such an area? We do not have the resources for that.” 

The president has suggested the NGOs may have started the fires as revenge for his government slashing their funding.

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