The Upbeat: Reconciliation and Rescues
Updated: May 3, 2022
This post is a little bit later than anticipated; I had some last minute scheduling changes yesterday that prompted a delay. I hope that you all enjoy and have a wonderful week!
-- Seal with a Pen
Truce is brokered in Yemen. Religion is frequently cited nowadays as a cause for war, but it can also be an equally potent cause for peace: on Saturday, a new two-month truce began in Yemen to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The conflict is the result of a civil war between the old government, backed by Saudi Arabia, and Islamist rebels called the Houthis. To further complicate matters, Al-Qaeda is an active enemy to both the old government and the Houthis. (A 2015 explanation from National Geographic is available here.) The cost of the war has been immense, with a BBC article from last month citing the UN as predicting that 19 million Yemenis could go hungry in the coming months. That prediction may now change, however, due to the new truce, which involves allowing some supply chains to start operating again in a limited capacity. It is hoped that further talks will take place in pursuit of a lasting peace. Read more: https://apnews.com/article/yemen-truce-ramadan-4d2d6e7cea5cfbad04bc018650f9e458 (Associated Press), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/03/yemen-two-month-ceasefire-begins-un-hopes-for-peace-talks (The Guardian)
Pope Francis visits the Philippines in 2015 (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Pope makes apology for indigenous abuses. Apologies are frequently derided or even denied nowadays, as an apology for sin is seen as an abandonment of all of one's values and beliefs. Apologies are seen as a sign of agreement or submission, and as such in the political world, an apology can be seen as capitulation to the enemy. Thankfully, there are still plenty of people in the world without this erroneous mindset. This past Friday, Pope Francis made what the AP called a "historic apology" to indigenous persons for the mass abuse suffered in Catholic residential schools in Canada that operated up until the 1970s. Over the past few years, hundreds of unmarked, mass graves of children have been found at such schools. With these new facts coming to light, Pope Francis, like many Canadians, was shocked, and in his apology expressed his shame for the "deplorable conduct" of the schools, saying that such abuse worked against the very Gospel that should be evangelized. From his address: "Clearly, the content of the faith cannot be transmitted in a way contrary to the faith itself: Jesus taught us to welcome, love, serve and not judge; it is a frightening thing when, precisely in the name of the faith, counter-witness is rendered to the Gospel." The apology was accepted by the head of the indigenous delegation. You may read the whole apology here. Read more: https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-europe-religion-vatican-city-08a842346f2dd0ca645571d879d3124a (Associated Press), https://www.ncregister.com/cna/3-key-aspects-of-pope-francis-apology-to-canadian-indigenous-people (National Catholic Register)
Elon Musk making moves on Twitter. Famous billionaire and occasional political dissident Elon Musk bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter this past month, and then asked users in a poll: "Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?" Over two-thirds of the over two million respondents said they did not. This is generally consistent with what I hear from my friends. (The New York Times published this article last month indicating that most Americans are worried about cancel culture; Reason posted a response to said article here.) With Elon Musk taking a seat on Twitter's board of directors, it's thought that he may attempt to solve the problem. One man (who has been accused of publicly attacking his own critics) of course cannot rescue free speech on his own, but this may well be the start of something interesting. Read more: https://reason.com/2022/04/04/elon-musk-buys-9-2-of-twitter-mysteriously-polls-users-about-state-of-free-speech/ (Reason), https://thehill.com/policy/technology/3259748-musks-spot-on-twitter-board-stirs-debate-about-platform-safety-free-speech/ (The Hill), https://www.deseret.com/2022/4/5/23010285/perspective-will-elon-musk-make-twitter-great-again-donald-trump-babylon-bee-jack-dorsey (Deseret News)
Weekend elections. Three countries held elections over the weekend. In Europe, hardline conservative leaders were re-elected in both Hungary and Serbia against more moderate conservative challengers, while in Costa Rica a former World Bank economist, Rodrigo Chaves, won on an anti-establishment platform against a former centrist president running to reclaim the presidency. The leader of a brand new party, Chaves met with his opponent shortly after the election to discuss how they could work together to solve the problems facing Costa Rica, and also complimented his opponent's running mates. Six parties will be represented in Costa Rica's next Congress, three of which are new entrants.