Cardinal Bernard Law, Priest and Pariah, Dies at 86

Former Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law passed away on Wednesday, December 20th, at the age of 86. Despite the tendency to remember only the best of the deceased, few are willing to give such leeway to Law.

Positive memories of Cardinal Law’s 56 year career in the Catholic Church are largely overshadowed by his cover ups of multiple sexual assault cases within the church. Furthermore, many still question the Pope’s decision in allowing him to keep the title of Cardinal. Though he was forced to resign from the position of Archbishop of Boston, he was able to remain prominent within the church, carrying on a career in Rome.

His role in allowing sexual abuse to run rampant within the Church has resulted in

public outcry from sex abuse survivors groups, and has left a permanently marred image of Catholicism’s policy regarding sexual transgression. While covering up scandals (and falling victim to them) was surely not Bernard Law’s only accomplishment, the memory that the world is left with should serve as a warning to those in power: society will remember the worst that you’ve done.

So, you must live your life without mistakes, make sincere amends for the ones that occur, or resign yourself to an obituary that leaves a bad taste in your mouth and very few flowers on your grave.

Poland Defies EU Warnings

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a series of new measures that will overhaul Poland’s current judicial system. Specifically, the reform puts Poland’s current governing party in a position of complete control over the country’s justice system. This level of partisan control poses serious limitations on personal and political freedoms.

President Duda passed the measure in direct defiance of the European Union and the warning they’d given against it. The warning invoked the EU’s founding treaty, which was written with the goal of ensuring “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights.” The president’s refusal to comply with this collective goal has increased tensions within the Union – an unwanted addition to those tensions already caused by Brexit and the immigration crisis.

Tour Bus Flips, Killing 12

A tour bus travelling through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula flipped on Tuesday, December 19th, killing twelve and injuring 5 more. Amongst the dead were a Mexican tour guide and an 11 year old child. In all, the bus was carrying 31 tourists, with represented nationalities including Brazilian, Italian, Swedish, and American patrons.

Those injured are recovering or, in the cases of five individuals, already released from hospitals in Bacalar and Chetumal.

Costa Maya Mahahual, the bus company involved, has so far not released any information as to why the crash happened. Other than the fact that the road was old and narrow, no solid causes have been linked to the tragedy.

Our hearts go out to the families and individuals on board, as well as those who are close to them.

Republicans Pass Tax Reform Bill

The most sweeping tax reform in decades is now sitting on President Trump’s desk, waiting for approval. It was passed by both the House and the Senate, with votes resting solely on party lines – all but twelve Republicans voted for it, while the entirety of the Democratic party refused to back it. The bill represents a significant win for the GOP, which has, up til now, failed to use their majority in Congress to any effect.

The question now remains, what impact will the tax overhaul have on you? Well, assuming that you’re the average American taxpayer, living somewhere between the top 1% and the poverty line, you can take a moment to celebrate that your tax rates will be reduced. Grab some confetti and pop open a bottle of bubbly. Ok, now take off your party hat – the individual rate reductions only last until 2025.

Corporate tax rates, on the other hand – well, they’ve been reduced, too, but these are permanent. The largest tax cut in the bill, in fact, is that affecting corporate taxes. It’s a 14% reduction, dropping from 35% to 21%.

Lastly, all that money that individuals and corporations aren’t handing over to the government adds up over the next decade to an extra 1.5 trillion of deficit. Essentially, government spending cuts are going to have to be as sweeping as this tax bill to counteract this loss.

So, to sum up, some advice: use what you save over the next 8 years to start your own multimillion dollar business. Bring that bottle of champagne back out. Drink it as you sail off on your yacht to a country that isn’t sinking further into an already hair raising chasm of debt.  

France Ups Their Environmental Game

France’s parliament has taken serious measures towards limiting the country’s environmental impact, setting a goal to ban domestic oil and gas production by 2040. As French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, France is the first country to take such a strong stance to decrease oil production.

Of course, France’s domestic oil production is hardly sizeable – in fact, it only makes up 1% of the oil and gas actually used in the country – but, to use a cliche, sometimes it’s the thought that counts. The dedication to eliminating unsustainable elements of the national economy will ideally inspire other countries to do the same.

The mantle of global sustainability must be taken up since being dropped by the Trump administration. It appears that President Macron is gearing his country towards taking it up once more.