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Cardinal George Pell. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's third-highest ranking member, was convicted by an Australian court Tuesday on charges related to the sexual abuse of two choir boys in the late 1990s, reports The Daily Beast. He's reportedly the highest ranking Vatican official to go to trial and face punishment in the church’s sex abuse scandal.

Why it matters: This is yet another major blow to the Catholic Church, one of the world’s most powerful institutions, which has been grappling with mounting child sex abuse scandals across the globe, including in the U.S. Pope Francis, who has faced some backlash over his handing of sexual abuse cases, on Wednesday expelled Pell and Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile from a Vatican advisory group. Errázuriz has been accused of covering up cases for abusive priests.

Go deeper with the New York Times' Damien Cave and Adam Baidawi: Why the Cardinal Pell Case Has Been So Secretive

Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.