Pastor from Nigeria leaves Palatinate parish after hostility

Speyer Cathedral: The diocese had to withdraw its priest from Nigeria because of massive hostility against him.
Picture: dpa

Burglaries, punctured car tires, presumably racist hostility and a death threat have caused Pastor Patrick Asomugha and his congregation to resign out of concern for his health. Asomugha is from Nigeria

DThe diocese of Speyer has withdrawn the Catholic priest Patrick Asomugha from his position as administrator of the Queidersbach congregation after repeated massive hostility and a death threat. Vicar General Andreas Sturm announced on Friday that the decision had been made together with the priest. He should now take on another task in the diocese. “The care and protection of Pastor Asomugha makes this step inevitable,” said the diocese of Speyer.

Asomugha, who comes from Nigeria and has led the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi since 2017, will leave the parish by Monday. “It would be irresponsible to continue to expose Father Asomugha to the threat,” Sturm said. “Under these circumstances, I can no longer fulfill my duties as a pastor in Queidersbach,” Asomugha explained himself, even if he regretted this. “The attacks against me make it almost impossible to lead a normal church life in Queidersbach.”

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According to the diocese, unknown persons had recently left a death threat on the African pastor’s garage door. Shortly afterwards, two glass bottles with suspected alcoholic contents were smashed in front of the front door of the rectory in which Asomugha lives on the upper floor. There have been repeated hostilities against him since the middle of last year: the vicarage was broken into twice – with considerable material damage. In the fall, Asomugha’s car tires were punctured.

The diocese continues to investigate the police. The West Palatinate Police Headquarters takes the threats seriously. “Past events show that crimes have already been committed,” a spokesman for the security forces in Kaiserslautern said on Friday to the German Press Agency.

Asomugha is expected to take on a new role in the Diocese of Speyer this summer. The pastor had repeatedly called for reconciliation in the past few months. In October there was a solidarity service in Queidersbach, at which around 600 people set an example against racism. The diocesan board of the Federation of the German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) Speyer expressed shocked about the incident. Asomugha’s threats were probably racially motivated acts. One is appalled that, because of their skin color, origin or other characteristics, people are afraid that they will no longer be able to pursue their profession or that they will have to leave their jobs. “If this happens in our church context, we are deeply ashamed. We condemn every form of psychological and physical violence against people, ”said a statement released on Friday. There should be no place for racism in the church and society.

The Catholic German Bishops’ Conference confirmed to the Evangelical Press Service that similar cases of racism against Catholic pastors of different origins and skin color had also occurred in other German bishoprics. However, the Bishops’ Conference does not have key figures, only the individual dioceses and archdioceses can provide information, said spokesman Matthias Kopp.


Dietmar Hopp wants to forget Ultras baiting

MÄzen Dietmar Hopp from the Bundesliga soccer club 1899 Hoffenheim took a step towards the supporters after the sometimes violent hostility from Ultras. “I would like to forget all of this if it is history from now on,” said the 79-year-old in an interview with ZDF, which will be broadcast on Saturday in the current sports studio. However, he still did not understand the protests.

“To make myself a face for commerce is really not understandable. Unfortunately, the baiting was so perfectly staged that Ultras from many clubs participated, ”said Hopp. Before the Corona break, the protests against Hopp were rekindled in numerous fan curves in Germany. In addition to creative sayings, Hopp was always shown in the crosshairs.

The escalation was triggered by a decision by the DFB Sports Court. This had lifted a probation for fans of Borussia Dortmund due to continued hate posters against Hopp and excluded all BVB supporters from compulsory games for their club in Sinsheim for the next two years. Collective punishments of this kind, which the DFB and then President Reinhard Grindel considered to be abolished in 2017, have met with strong rejection in the fan scene.

ProFans spokesman Sig Zelt has given the German Football League and the German Football Association a complicity in the partly insulting fan protests. “The fan scenes noticed that if they act as insultingly and loudly as possible, they will be heard. The DFB brought us up like this, ”said Zelt to the internet portal“ Sportbuzzer ”.

“DFB and DFL have contributed to protests being expressed in this way,” said the spokesman for the fan association. “In the civil dialogue, they give us a say in the toilet. We can have a say in whether the soap dish is attached to the left or right of the tap. ”

A few weeks ago there had been massive protests at several games in which Hoffenheim patron Hopp had been personally attacked and shown in the center of crosshairs. The ProFans spokesman said: “You cannot defend personal attacks, neither can I.” Because of the protests, a special session of the Fan Cultures working group had been held in early March with DFL managing director Christian Seifert and DFB general secretary Friedrich Curtius. Game operations are currently interrupted due to the Corona pandemic.


Lula seeks his place in Brazilian politics | International

He said nothing. It was unnecessary. The expression of the Brazilian Nanci Ramos Menezes, 64, said it all. His face was one of deep disappointment. When he heard that former President Lula da Silva, 74, was not going to arrive, that he was canceling his presence at the event where he had been waiting for him for two hours, he had an instant of disbelief. But yes, it was confirmed. Lula raised at the last minute about 250 people gathered by the Movement of Affected by Dams, a veteran popular movement, in Betim (Minas Gerais) this Friday of strong storms. The politician would be in that city, 27 kilometers from Brumadinho, on the eve of the first anniversary of the most serious industrial disaster in Brazil, which this Saturday remembers the 270 people devoured by a tidal wave of mud in a mine.

It was an opportunity for Lula to meet again, for the first time since he was released two and a half months ago, with his followers from Minas Gerais, to achieve a place at the same time on television and in the national debate. Until the warning came: his security team advised him not to travel to Betim in a storm of heavy rain that has caused at least a dozen deaths.

While a sleepy Brazil enjoys the pre-Carnival summer, Lula is dedicated to reorganizing the Workers’ Party, which he founded almost 40 years ago, and his life. Widowed, he has a girlfriend, plans to get married and is looking for a new home. Disciplined, start the day with walks and weights and try not to lengthen working hours. “He is seeing friends, center-left governors,” explains his spokesman. In addition, he has chaired a PT continuation congress, has been applauded in political-festive events and has played a soccer match with Chico Buarque and members of the Movement of the Landless.

He seeks his place in Brazilian politics after 19 months imprisoned for corruption and two convictions that prevent him from being a candidate. “He must strengthen the left, he must speak to the bases,” said Ramos Menezes de Lula when he was still expected as a star player.

It is not easy for the leftist to find his place because Bolsonaro and his people, with a torrent of controversial decisions and explosive statements, leave almost no one in political discourse. The only one who occasionally peeks into the headlines is the president of the Chamber of Deputies. As happened in the United States when Trump arrived with his groundbreaking uses for the Presidency, the Brazilian press is with his tongue out trying to cover Bolsonarism, which covers the classic news channels and networks.

An example. The 24 hours prior to Lula’s act began with a racist comment. Bolsonaro said that, “increasingly, Indians are human beings like us.” He also threatened to downgrade the ministry run by his most popular minister, Sergio Moro. The former judge was silent publicly, but made it known through third parties that if it were consummated he would leave; and an Instagram account was opened that had nothing more than half a million followers. Bolsonaro rushed off from India, where he is on an official visit. No, Moro’s ministry remains as it is. Meanwhile, a veteran soap opera lady celebrates her seventh day considering whether to accept the presidential invitation to be Minister of Culture to replace Goebbels’ plagiarist. It seems logical that Brazilians love memes.

Doctor in Political Science Flavia Bozza Martins argues that Lula can now better gauge how things are in public opinion and institutional politics. “It is important because perhaps he did not see clearly from his cell in the Federal Police that public opinion is disconnected.” One of the difficulties he faces is that the rallies are attended only by militants and “the lack of space in the traditional media prevents Lula from reaching the ears of ordinary citizens as he would like.”

He also has a difficult relationship with the press, including the ubiquitous Globo network. The former president has stated that he would like to give a live interview but “no media from the Globo group has asked to interview him,” according to Lula’s spokesman, who upon regaining his freedom only spoke to foreign media -including this newspaper- and some Brazilian blogs.

The political scene, with municipal elections in October, is another challenge. “Despite the fact that important figures of the PT have declared that it is a crucial moment for Brazilian democracy and that it has to join forces with other forces to stop the growth of the right, (the party) has great difficulty in stepping back and resigning to hegemony or broad prominence in the name of a more electorally viable candidacy ”, explains this political scientist from the Rio de Janeiro State University. Because of corruption, a part of Brazil hates with all its soul the party, Lula and even the red that symbolizes them.

On Friday in a hotel in Belo Horizonte, the worker who made history by presiding over Brazil met with the leaders of the PT in Minas Gerais. His message was clear: at the municipal level, all possible candidates must be presented. He insisted that “we need the claw of the beginning, the claw of the eighties” in the face of the “criminalization of the PT”, explains Andrea Cangussu, 37 years old, secretary petista of a woman in Minas. He tells it in Betim, after Leonardo Boff, 82, father of Liberation Theology, and those affected by the dams have finished their interventions. A live band and the snack distribution liven up the wait for Lula.

He “is returning to his role as a political coordinator with the local PT groups. It works in a dialectical process with the party. Listen, speak, argue … He does not impose, but his opinion counts a lot, he is a voice with political experience that carries a lot of weight, “says his spokesman.

Sentenced to 25 years for corruption, he has several pending cases. “There are many legal ramifications, so Lula can go back to prison or his trials can be annulled,” says the political scientist. That is why he considers that the largest party in Brazil – and the largest parliamentary group – makes a fairly risky bet by insisting on the name of Lula. He adds that if the idea was to bet on a new leader, it should already be being built. But there is no hint. Lula’s figure outshines his party and the Brazilian left. Oliver Stuenkel, from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, agrees: “Every day that passes is a lost day to build new leadership.”

He was awarded in Spain this Friday, 43rd anniversary of the Atocha massacre, by the foundation that remembers the murdered lawyers. Award that thanks in a video. Meanwhile, one of the confessed murderers, the ultra Carlos Garcia Juliá, awaits his impending extradition from Brazil. Lula would like the first trip abroad in this new stage to go to France to collect the title of Honorary Citizen of Paris awarded by Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo while in prison.

Once she accepted resignedly that she would not see their leader in Betim, the pedagogue Ramos Menezes said: “We have to encourage the people because they are going to be frustrated.” He trusts that the municipal campaign will give him a new opportunity to listen live to his admired Lula.


Science, the doubts of an amputee ministry | Science

Spanish science has been in a crisis that seems to have no end for more than a decade. The public investigation system has lost more than 20,000 million euros since 2009. Although the economic recovery came years ago, laboratories have barely felt the improvements. Public investment in science is stagnant at levels similar to those of 2012, largely due to political instability and the inability to approve new budgets.

Among all this darkness, the scientific community saw one of its historical claims fulfilled in the summer of 2018 with the appointment of Pedro Duque at the head of a ministry that combined the competences of science, innovation and universities, three areas that he considers inseparable. The new Government that Pedro Sánchez profiles is now taking away that conquest to create a Ministry of Universities assigned to the sociologist Manuel Castells, a decision that has achieved a unanimous rejection of scientists, rectors and leaders in innovation.

“These powers cannot be separated, doing so can cause a fight between these two ministries for resources that are already scarce,” says physicist Perla Wahnón, president of the scientific societies of Spain (Cosce). “It is also a decision contrary to what we see in the main European powers, in the EU executive itself and that reduces political weight to science in the Council of Ministers,” adds Wahnón. “It’s bad news for Spain,” said in a joint statement sent last Friday by Cosce, the rectors of public universities, scientific-medical associations and Severo Ochoa centers and units, the elite of scientific research in Spain.

The key is now in the detailed structure of the new Government, which will define how many powers and budget the Duke Ministry loses in favor of Universities. “The separation of universities and science is not the most recommended model, but it is not something new,” explains Jorge Barrero, general director of the Cotec Foundation. “These powers have been separated for 14 of the last 20 years, first in the Aznar Government, then in the Zapatero Government and since 2012 in the Rajoy Government,” he said. What is unprecedented is that of a ministry of universities separated from education and science, he adds, possibly because most university competences are transferred to the autonomous communities and there is very little left to the State.

In Spain around 70% of scientific research is done by universities, but the state funding they receive for this depends on the National R & D & I Plan managed by the Ministry of Science and is granted based on a competitive competition , hence the suspicions of the research community before possible Solomon divisions of these funds. “Breaking this unique bag to take part of this money to universities would be irresponsible,” says Barrero, who sees it more feasible to give Castells a ministry in charge of lifelong learning that manages Vocational Training, currently attached to Education , and job training courses that depend on Work.

The challenges of the next legislature

“Give me 700 million and I will tell you how many scientists can return to Spain,” Pedro Duque told EL PAÍS in November 2018, four months after taking office. That was an impossible wish because the budgetary pact reached by the Government of Pedro Sánchez and Podemos barely contemplated raising the science budgets by 273 million euros. That pact never materialized and the budgets remain frozen and extended, but Duke can say that he fulfilled one of his main promises: to approve a package of urgent measures for science that ended the previous intervention, the bureaucratic work that was suffocating the public research centers to the point that scientists could not even buy chairs.

In this new term, the main problem will be money again. In 2018, investment in R&D rose a shy 6%, which is explained by the greater investment in the private sector. Scientists now ask for a public counterpart, but without going crazy. They do not even ask to get Spain to spend 2% of GDP on R&D, something that most parties have in their program, including Podemos, but that scientists and experts see completely unfeasible in the short span of four years .

“If this legislature were able to double the budget of the National Plan, which is a total of about 350 million euros, it would be a great achievement,” said Luis Serrano, president of Somma.

This program is bread and salt for the vast majority of scientists in Spain and especially nourishes the middle classes of research, those who do not have the resources or human capital to handle large projects, but who make up the critical mass of the system of public R&D. This group faces in this legislature two years of cuts of up to 20% due to the new calendar of calls promoted by the Duke Ministry and that has helped the scientific community, especially cancer researchers grouped in the ASEICA association. “Our position is to wait and see,” explains Xosé Bustelo, president of this organization. “The minister has so far spoken more than he has done. Hopefully in this term the batteries will be put to solve the pending problems that our suffered R & D & I system has ”, he adds.

“Almost everything remains to be done,” says Pablo Jiménez, spokesman for the Federation of Young Researchers. “The R&D system is dismembered and needs an important money injection,” he says.

Despite the measures against the bureaucracy approved by Duke there are still many present. One of them, explains Álvaro Rodríguez-Lescure, president of the Society of Medical Oncology, is that under current regulations cooperative groups such as cancer network research centers, cardiovascular or respiratory ailments, among others, are not “tax subjects can be financed, which prevents them from attending calls for public funds, ”he says. “Another objective for Duque’s new mandate should be to create a specific item to conduct independent clinical trials that, due to their objectives, are not profitable for the pharmaceutical industry but that can bring great benefits to patients and the biomedical community,” he explains. These are, for example, studies designed to reuse drugs already approved and without a patent or to carry out studies that prevent cancer patients already cured from having to go through the usual protocol and receive a year of additional treatment.

The forgotten Cajal museum

Manuel Ansede

Another task of the Ministry of Science will be to find a solution for the so-called Cajal Legacy: 22,000 pieces – letters, drawings, manuscripts, photographs – of Santiago Ramón y Cajal that have been stored in boxes in a basement of the Cajal Institute since 1989, a center of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) located in Madrid. The scientific community has been calling for the creation of a Ramón y Cajal National Museum for years, dedicated to the winner of the 1906 Nobel Prize in Medicine, father of neuroscience.