A wave of clerical sex abuse scandals have cost the Catholic Church over two billion dollars (1.5 billion euros) but the real price is the blow to its reputation, two U.S. experts said on Wednesday.
“It is probably reasonable to estimate that the actual ‘out of pocket’ cost of the crisis to the Church internationally is well in excess of two billion dollars,” Michael Bemi and Patricia Neal said at a Vatican summit on the issue.
The cost could be much higher though as at least some dioceses in the Church “made many confidential settlements over the years, the total value of which may never be known,” said the two consultants for the U.S. Catholic Church.
Bemi and Neal asked Catholic leaders from around the world: “How many hospitals, seminaries, schools, churches, shelters for abused women and children and soup kitchens could we have built with this amount of money?
A $698 million class action against Goldman Sachs will proceed, after a federal judge certified a class arising “out of a single offering … of certificates derived from a pool of securitized fixed-rate, second-lien home mortgages.”
U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. in Manhattan certified the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi as representative of a class of more than 150 investors.
“All of the mortgage loans underlying the certificates were originated by New Century Financial Corp. (‘New Century’) and purchased by defendants in late 2005 to be securitized,” according to Baer’s Opinion and Order. “The Second Amended Complaint (‘Complaint’) asserts that the Offering Documents for the Certificates contained untrue statements and omitted material facts …
“Plaintiff contends that New Century failed to follow its own stated underwriting standards and used improper appraisals overstating the collateral value, and that defendants failed to conduct adequate due diligence when acquiring the loans for securitization. Consequently, the statements in the Offering Documents concerning compliance with underwriting and appraisal standards were materially untrue when they were made, and as a result, plaintiff and the class purchased certificates that were far riskier than represented.
While the file-sharing ecosystem is currently filled with uncertainty and doubt, researchers at Delft University of Technology continue to work on their decentralized BitTorrent network. Their Tribler client doesn’t require torrent sites to find or download content, as it is based on pure peer-to-peer communication. “The only way to take it down is to take the Internet down,” the lead researcher says.
Although the critics of Citizens United might well be right to condemn it and to call for a constitutional amendment to overrule it, they are misguided in their reliance on the refrain that "money is not speech." Of course, money is not "speech." Money is money, a car is a car, and a ribbon is a ribbon. These are objects, not speech. But all of these objects, and many more besides, can be used to facilitate free speech.
Like a car or a ribbon, money is not speech. But when government regulates the use of money for speech purposes, it implicates the First Amendment. Suppose, for example, an individual at an Occupy protest burns a dollar bill to convey her disdain for corporate America. A dollar bill is not speech, fire is not speech, but a government law prohbiting any person to burn money as a symbolic expression of opposition to corporate America would surely implicate the First Amendment.
This is not to say, however, that the government cannot constitutionally regulate the use of money in politics. The fact that an object is used to facilitate speech does not mean that it is immune from regulation. The use of a loudspeaker is speech, but the government can regulate the decibel level. Burning a dollar bill for expressive purposes is speech, but the government can prohibit anyone from doing so near an open gas line. And the same is true for campaign contributions and expenditures. When the government attempts to regulate the use of money for expressive purposes it implicates the First Amendment, but it does not necessarily violate it.
If the critics of Citizens United and the advocates of a constitutional amendment to overrule it want to be taken seriously, they must move beyond superficial slogans and focus on the real issue at stake: When should the government be allowed to regulate political contributions and expenditures — even if they are speech?