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20 Jan

The Pope Causes More Pain for Priests’ Victims

Pope Francis arriving in Chile on Monday. Credit Martin Bernetti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Pope Francis arrived in Chile with the right message: He was “pained and ashamed,” he said on Tuesday, about the irreparable damage abusive priests have inflicted on minors. Yet he refused to meet with victims of the country’s most nefarious sexual abuser, and when pressed about his support of a bishop linked to that priest, he dismissed the accusations as slander.

For all his professions of horror at the revelations about predatory priests whose activities were covered up by the hierarchy — and for all his other admirably enlightened and pastoral actions — it seems the pope has yet to fully appreciate that the abuse of minors is not simply a matter of a few deviant priests protected by overzealous prelates but of his church’s acceptance of a horrible violation of a most sacred trust: that of a devout and questioning youth and a spiritual guide.

Acknowledging and regretting the damage is not enough. If the Catholic Church is ever to lift the deep stain of child sex abuse, the pope must take every opportunity to reject not only clear violations but also the slightest appearance of tolerance for such behavior.

He missed that opportunity by attending the funeral last month for Cardinal Bernard Law, the powerful former archbishop of Boston who resigned after revelations that he protected abusive priests for years and became, in effect, the image of a hierarchy that concealed and thereby enabled sexual abuse. He missed it in the failure of the Vatican so far to appoint a new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors after the commissioners’ terms expired in December.

And Pope Francis missed it again in Chile. One of Latin America’s most staunchly Catholic countries, Chile had been shaken by revelations about the sexual crimes of Fernando Karadima, once one of Chile’s most respected and influential priests. It took years for the church to act on complaints about him, but a Vatican investigation in 2011 finally found Father Karadima guilty of sexual abuse and restricted him to a life of isolated penitence. A Chilean judge later determined that the allegations against the priest were truthful, but the statute of limitations had expired.

Among those accused of turning a blind eye to Father Karadima’s behavior was a priest and longtime member of Father Karadima’s entourage, Juan Barros Madrid. Yet Pope Francis made him a bishop in 2015 and, despite protests from victims of Father Karadima and from many priests and laypeople in the diocese, Bishop Barros participated in the pope’s official ceremonies in Chile. When reporters raised the subject on Thursday, Pope Francis answered sharply that there was “not one single piece of evidence” against the bishop. “It is all slander,” he declared. “Is that clear?”

No, it is not clear.

Victims of sexual abuse may have only their tortured memories as evidence, and these have been dismissed for far too long as slander by a hierarchy intent on protecting the church’s reputation. Pope Francis has repeatedly pledged action to end the abuse and the cover-up, and the church has come a long way. But too often he and his church raise doubts that they’re fully committed.

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20 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

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  • Police issue citations to volunteers giving out food and socks

  • El Cajon says ban aims to tackle outbreak of hepatitis A

A protester at an event where homeless people were offered food in El Cajon, California, on Sunday.

 

A California city has brought charges against 12 people who defied a ban on feeding homeless people at a neighborhood park, as officials try to rein in a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 20 people and prompted mass vaccinations and the bleaching of streets.

Officials in El Cajon, east of San Diego, argue that the ordinance aims to protect the public from hepatitis A, which has mostly affected those who are homeless or use drugs, by preventing the person-to-person transmission of pathogens. But activists have decried it as a draconian measure to criminalize homeless residents.

Jen Loving, a Bay Area advocate who has followed the situation, said it reflected a broader breakdown in trust, with locals losing confidence that their elected representatives have effective solutions for what, in other contexts, might be recognized as a humanitarian disaster.

“From afar, it feels like a community struggling with crisis and wanting consensus in a comprehensive solution to this problem,” said Loving. “This points to a much bigger issue all around the country. All communities are starved for long-term solutions for decreasing homelessness.”

Homelessness in the US has grown by about 1% since 2016, the first increase since the great recession, and it is driven by high rents on the east and west coasts. In San Diego County the numbers rose 5%.

In El Cajon on Sunday, a volunteer organization named Break the Ban manned tables offering breakfast bars, oranges and bananas, hygiene supplies and socks at a local park. Within an hour, the police arrived threatening to arrest those who defied the ban. Volunteers shouted angrily at them, and they began issuing misdemeanor citations.

Scott Dreher, an attorney to the organizers who was present at the event, described the ordinance a restriction on his free-speech rights. “It prevents me from exercising my right to share food with those people in need, which is an expression of speech by action,” he said. “There are other, non-first-amendment-restrictive, ways to accomplish the city’s stated goal of preventing the spread of hep A, namely, by cleaning up the parks and providing and encouraging use of public restrooms and hand-washing.”

Almost 600 people in the county have been infected with the disease, which is spread via fecal contamination, a symptom of the fact that homeless people have few places to use the bathroom and then wash their hands.

As well as spraying bleach and offering vaccinations, officials in San Diego have installed washing stations and erected huge tents to give people some protection from the elements. The city is also making longer-term plans: on Thursday, San Diego’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer, unveiled a homelessness plan that includes a tax hike, central intake hub and more shelter beds.

A homeless man at the feeding event, Berl Crist, said El Cajon, by contrast, “would rather take a hands-off inactive approach, by banning food sharing and making panhandling illegal.”

“It’s not a feeding ban,” said El Cajon spokesperson Monica Zech. “We want to protect the homeless by feeding them in a clean and safe environment. A park isn’t a clean environment.”

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After taking to the streets one year ago, organizers are back with an ambitious new agenda: get more women on the ballot and in the voting booth

The Women’s March on Washington: ‘We started 2017 with perpetual outrage and now we have perpetual outrage, plus a plan for 2018’.

 

A year ago, more than 1 million people took to the streets in cities around the US wearing pink knit “pussy hats” and waving wry placards, in an extraordinary display of dissent against a newly vested president. Then, after the rousing success of the march, organizers were left with the inevitable question: what next?

On Sunday, the first anniversary of the march, the organizers will head to Las Vegas to launch “Power to the Polls”, a national voter registration and mobilization tour that will target swing states ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“We started 2017 with perpetual outrage and now we are at the moment when we have perpetual outrage, plus a plan in place for 2018,” Linda Sarsour, a co-chair of the Women’s March, told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, women and supporters of the liberal movement around the world will return to the streets this weekend in opposition to Donald Trump. The largest protests are expected in Washington, New York and Los Angeles.

Sarsour said reclaiming liberal majorities in the House and Senate is the best – and only – way to stop Trump’s agenda. The Women’s March intends to endorse female and progressive candidates in 2018, and to partner with local organizations to register new voters and increase engagement.

“One year ago, we had millions of people marching in the streets of the streets,” she said. “The idea is that we march the same people and their families and their friends to the polls in 2018.”

The Women’s March on Washington on 21 January 2017. More than 1 million people were estimated to attend. Photograph: Tracie Van Auken/EPA

The Las Vegas venue was a deliberate choice. On 8 November 2016, Nevada, a swing state with an increasingly diverse electorate, voted for Hillary Clinton and elected Democrats up and down the ballot, a bright spot during an otherwise devastating night for liberals. It’s poised again to be a battleground state in 2018.

This year, Democrats hope to pick up a Senate seat and reclaim the governor’s mansion, energized in part by the state’s substantial Latino population, many of whom have a stake in the changes to the US immigration system.

Sustaining the movement

Last year, the decentralized movement touched off a flurry of activism. Liberals mobilized against the administration’s travel ban and an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and ushered in a wave of progressive victories, including electing a Democrat to the Senate in Alabama. Liberal organizations have reported record-breaking outreach from women interested in running for office – or from people eager to help women win office.

In October, thousands of women attended a convention in Detroit, attending trainings sessions for candidates and others on coalition building and countering white supremacy. It also paved the way, organizers believe, for the #MeToo moment, a social upswell in which women have come forward to share experiences of sexual assault and harassment.

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World Politics

United States

One year on, has Trump kept his promise? A Pennsylvania county gives its verdict – video

Members of Donald Trump’s base in Northampton County, which supported him in 2016 after twice backing Barack Obama, remain passionate – but some voters appear to be moving away from the president.

Members of Donald Trump’s base in Northampton County, which supported him in 2016 after twice backing Barack Obama, remain passionate – but some voters appear to be moving away from the president.

White House calls Democrats ‘obstructionist losers’ as federal agencies head into the first closure for five years

A pro-Dreamer placard at a rally in Washington on Friday night.

 

The United States has its first government shutdown in nearly five years after senators failed to reach a deal to keep the lights on.

An effort by Republicans to keep the government open for one month was rejected in a vote on Friday night after they failed to address Democratic concerns about young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Republicans needed 60 votes to make the bill filibuster-proof, but the legislation only received the support of 50 senators. Five red state Democrats broke ranks to support the bill while four Republicans voted against.

A filibuster allows a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose, unless “three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn” (60 out of 100 senators) vote for the bill.

But 12.00am ET came and went without a deal, causing funding for the federal government to lapse. Federal law requires agencies to shut down if Congress has not appropriated money to fund them. Hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal employees will be put on temporary unpaid leave. In previous shutdowns, services deemed “essential”, such as the work of the homeland security and the FBI, have continued.

Speaking on the floor after the vote, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell assailed the shutdown as the result of a “cynical decision by the Democrats”. His opposite number, minority leader Chuck Schumer, delivered a scathing rebuke of Donald Trump, blaming the president for the shutdown. The New York Democrat said Trump “walked away from two bipartisan deals” and that “a Trump shutdown will serve as a perfect encapsulation for the chaos he has unleashed”.

Mitch McConnell: Democrats got “their very own government shutdown” – video

A White House statement issued just before midnight said “this is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators”.

Democrats earlier blamed Republican divisions for the failure of the vote. Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said lawmakers from his rival party were not on the same page as president Donald Trump.

“You’ve got the three branches of government – everything,” Wyden said. “Can these folks organize a two-car parade?”

On Thursday, the House had voted by a margin of 230-197 to advance the bill after speaker Paul Ryan made concessions to conservative Republicans in the Freedom Caucus. These included a vote on increased military funding, a potential vote on a hardline immigration bill and other “subplots”, which Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, declined to share with reporters. The vote was almost entirely along party lines, with only six Democrats and 11 Republicans breaking ranks.

The bill did not contain any provisions to protect Dreamers, which has been a key Democratic priority since Donald Trump announced in September that he was rescinding an Obama-era program, known as Daca. The program enabled young, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to obtain temporary legal status.

After the bill passed the House, Ryan preemptively tried to blame Democrats for any government shutdown, telling reporters: “The only people standing in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats.”

In a final dash to avert a shutdown, Trump cancelled plans to depart for his Mar-a-lago resort in Florida, where the president was due to celebrate the anniversary of his first year in office. Instead, Trump spent the day negotiating with congressional leaders.

But despite hosting Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon, the sides were unable to reach an agreement.

Trump and Schumer, who both hail from New York, negotiated over cheeseburgers in a small dining room adjacent to the Oval Office.

A source briefed on the meeting said Schumer offered not only to meet Trump’s full funding request for a border wall, but also agreed to boosting defense spending “far above” what the White House had requested.

In exchange, Schumer requested a short-term measure that would keep the government open for just a few days, in the hopes of keeping pressure on lawmakers to reach a broader compromise. The president even seemed amenable to Schumer’s approach, the source said, and told the Democratic leader he would broach the topic with Republican leaders.

But not long after Schumer returned to the Capitol, he received a phone call from John Kelly, the White House chief of staff. Kelly, who emerged as an unexpected hardliner on immigration, informed Schumer the contours of the deal he discussed with Trump were too liberal.

Read Full Article>>

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20 Jan

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

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The War Criminals

The war criminals of the Bush regime lied and fabricated evidence to go to war.

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Powell are war criminals and today they are enjoying freedom.

The thousands dead, the region in chaos, the creation of Islamic State and the trillions of dollars cost and for what? The worst of all is that they were so desperate for war that they had no plans for peace.

So where are the protests and demonstrations today in the US to bring Bush, Chaney, Wolfowitz, Rice, Powell and Rumsfeld to Justice? There are none. There has been none. And now the US people ask – why do we have so many enemies and why do peoples from other cultures hate us?


We condemned children to death, some after many days of writhing in pain on bloodstained mats, without pain relievers. Some died quickly, wasted by missing arms and legs, crushed heads. As the fluids ran out of their bodies, they appeared like withered, spoiled fruits. They could have lived, certainly should have lived – and laughed and danced, and run and played- but instead they were brutally murdered. Yes, murdered!

The war ended for those children, but it has never ended for survivors who carry memories of them. Likewise, the effects of the U.S. bombings continue, immeasurably and indefensibly.

The McGlynn

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War News

AP: Germany halts further arms exports to parties in Yemen war

BERLIN (AP) — Germany says it won’t approve arms exports to countries involved in the conflict in Yemen, a move that could affect sales of military hardware to Saudi Arabia.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Union bloc and the center-left Social Democrats agreed during preliminary coalition talks last week to “immediately” stop approving arms exports to countries involved in the conflict.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Twitter Friday that Germany “isn’t taking any arms export decisions right now that aren’t in line with the results of the preliminary talks.”

Earlier Friday, officials caused some confusion when they told reporters that the practice of scrutinizing export applications on a case-by-case basis hadn’t changed.

Saudi Arabia, which supports Yemen’s internationally recognized government in its war with Iran-backed Shiite rebels, is a major buyer of German arms.

Read full story »

NYT:Editorial  Syria Is Now Mr. Trump’s War

As a candidate, Donald Trump warned against foreign wars, not least in Syria. A year into his presidency, he is adding Syria to a list of open-ended conflicts that already includes Afghanistan and Iraq.

We know President Trump’s plan not because he asked Congress for authorization and funding for a continuing troop presence in Syria. We know because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained it in a speech on Wednesday at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria focused on ensuring ISIS cannot re-emerge,” he said. “Our military mission in Syria will remain conditions-based.” In other words, without any end date or public benchmarks for success.

As of last month, there were about 2,000 American troops in Syria — up from 500 a year ago — a mix of engineering units and Special Operations units that fight and train with local militias in the battle against the Islamic State. Now that we know they will be there indefinitely, who can say the number won’t go higher and the mission won’t creep more?…………..“How does this not become an unending war?” Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, asked Mr. Satterfield, who replied with some political buzzwords. The American people deserve a real answer.

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REU: Turkey shells Syria’s Afrin region, minister says operation has begun

The cross-border bombardment took place after days of threats from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to crush the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin in response to growing Kurdish strength across a wide stretch of north Syria.

Direct military action against territory held by Kurdish militia would open a new front in Syria’s civil war and would see Ankara confronting Kurds allied to the United States at a time when Turkey’s relations with Washington are reaching breaking point.

“The operation has actually de facto started with cross-border shelling,” Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said, adding that no troops had crossed into Afrin.

A U.S. State Department official said such moves would undermine regional stability and would not help protect Turkey’s border security………………Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist group and a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party which has waged an insurgency in southeast Turkey for decades, and Canikli criticized Washington for its continued emphasis on countering Islamic State.

“The threat of Daesh has been removed in both Syria and Iraq. With this reality out in the open, a ‘focus on Daesh’ statement is truly a meaningless remark,” he said.

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REU: 1.3 million children displaced by Iraq’s war with Islamic State: UNICEF

GENEVA (Reuters) – About half the 2.6 million people displaced in Iraq after a three-year war with Islamic State militants are children and persisting violence hampers efforts to ease their suffering, the United Nations said on Friday.

 

 

FILE PHOTO: A displaced Iraqi boy plays at the Amriyat al Fallujah camp in Anbar Province, Iraq January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

While the Baghdad government last month declared victory over Islamic State after wresting back almost all the territory IS seized in 2014, persistent bombing and shooting attacks make it difficult to rebuild the lives of displaced people, according to UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

“We believe that as a result of the conflict, a lack of investment over the years, and the poverty … that there are 4 million children now in need across Iraq,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF chief representative in the country.

He told a Geneva news briefing by telephone from Baghdad that 1.3 million of the 2.6 million displaced by the often devastating fighting with Islamic State were children.

“While the fighting has come to an end in several areas, spikes of violence continue in others – just this week, three bombings went off in Baghdad,” UNICEF Regional Director Geert Cappelaere said in a statement.

“Violence is not only killing and maiming children; it is destroying schools, hospitals, homes and roads. It is tearing apart the diverse social fabric and the culture of tolerance that hold communities together.”Hawkins said UNICEF was also helping children of alleged IS militants now in detention by providing comfort and legal aid, and is trying to reunite those separated from their families, including those abroad.

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PHOTO

People light candles at the site of Monday’s twin suicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a busy street market in central Baghdad on Monday, in back-to-back explosions that killed dozens and wounded many civilians, Iraqi health and police officials said. It was the deadliest attack since last month’s declaration of victory over the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

IraqiNews: Southeastern Baghdad bomb blast kills, wounds 5: source

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Five people were killed and wounded on Saturday when a bomb blast hit an area southeast of Baghdad, a security source was quoted saying.

Baghdad Today quoted the source saying that a bomb placed near a fish market in Wardiya, Madaen, exploded, killing one person and wounding four others.

Baghdad has seen almost daily bombings and armed attacks since Islamic State militants emerged in 2014 and proclaimed a self-styled “Caliphate” before a military campaign claimed victory over the militant group early December.

According to the monthly release by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 69 civilians, excluding police personnel, were killed, while 142 others were wounded in December due to acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict across the country.

The worst affected province was Baghdad with 122 civilian casualties (24 killed, 98 injured).

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IraqiNews: Iraq’s Sunni blocs writing down covenant for boycotting elections

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) Sunni blocs in the Iraqi parliament are preparing a document to establish for a common stance rejecting participation in Iraq’s upcoming elections, parliamentary sources were quoted saying on Friday.

NRT quoted the sources saying that parliament representatives from Nineveh and Anbar, homes to a large Sunni population, are preparing a document emphasizing their rejection of the previously set election schedule.

“The document has been sent to Sunni partisan leaderships for deliberation,” the sources said, adding that Sunni parties remain adamant that the government ensures fulfillment of their conditions for running the elections, including “the return of refugees, adopting electronic means of voting and vote-counting and excluding arms to state-run troops at areas recaptured from the Islamic State”.

The document, sources said, states that Sunni blocs will boycott the elections if those conditions are not met.

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NYT: US and Pakistan Clash at UN Over Afghanistan

UNITED NATIONS — The United States urged Pakistan on Friday not to give sanctuary to “terrorist organizations” — and Pakistan demanded that the Trump administration address safe havens inside Afghanistan and its income from the narcotics trade.

The exchange took place Friday at a Security Council meeting on the issue of Afghanistan’s relations with its Central Asia neighbors and the link between peace and security.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said the United States can’t work with Pakistan if it continues to give sanctuary to terrorist organizations and need to stop this and join efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict.

Pakistan’s U.N. Ambassador Maleeha Lodi countered that Afghanistan and its partners, especially the U.S., need to address “challenges inside Afghanistan rather than shift the onus for ending the conflict onto others.”

“Those who imagine sanctuaries outside need a reality check,” she stressed.

The exchange followed the Trump administration’s announcement this month that it was suspending military aid to Pakistan until it takes decisive action against militants.

Read full story »

Taliban militants kill ex-commander on charges of ISIS links in Nangarhar

The Taliban insurgents have executed one of their former commanders on charges of having links with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) loyalists in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The police commandment of Nangarhar in a statement said Saturday that the former Taliban commander was killed in Dur Baba district on Friday. The

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Civilians suffer casualties in an explosion in Gardez city

A civilian was killed and another one was wounded in an explosion in Gardez city, the provincial capital of Paktia province. The incident took place earlier today after a magnetic improvised explosive device planted in a civilian vehicle went off. Provincial governor’s spokesman Abdullah Hasrat confirmed that one civilian was killed and another civilian was

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Taliban and Haqqani network leaders must go to Afghanistan: Pak envoy

A top Pakistani envoy has said Islamabad wants the Taliban group members as well as the members of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network to return to Afghanistan. Speaking to Urdu service of BBC, Aizaz Chaudhry said the government of Pakistan do not want the Taliban and Haqqanis to live in the country. He admitted that

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Iraq Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

Afghanistan Coalition Casualties: Military Fatalities By Name>>

IRAQ BODY COUNT>>

This data is based on 51,544 database entries from the beginning of the war to 28 Feb 2017, and on monthly preliminary data from that date onwards. Preliminary data is shown in grey when applicable, and is based on approximate daily totals in the Recent Events section prior to full analysis. The full analysis extracts details such as the names or demographic details of individuals killed, the weapons that killed them and location amongst other details. The current range contains 36,537–38,380 deaths (20%–19%, a portion which may rise or fall over time) based on single-sourced reports.

Graphs are based on the higher number in our totals. Gaps in recording and reporting suggest that even our highest totals to date may be missing many civilian deaths from violence.

Total Dollar Cost of War>>

Cost of War in Iraq>>

Cost of War in Afghanistan>>

Recent Casualties

 

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, died Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident. Sullivan was assigned to the 16th Signal Company, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. The incident is under investigation.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, died Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol. Golin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado. The incident is under investigation.

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Care for Veterans:

PTSD: National Center for PTSDPTSD Care for Veterans, Military, and FamiliesSee Help for Veterans with PTSD to learn how to enroll for VA health care and get an assessment.

All VA Medical Centers provide PTSD care, as well as many VA clinics.Some VA’s have programs specializing in PTSD treatment. Use the VA PTSD ProgramLocator to find a PTSD program.If you are a war Veteran, find a Vet Center to help with the transition from military to civilian life.

Call the 24/7 Veteran Combat Call Center1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.DoD’s Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) 24/7 Outreach Center for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury provides information and helps locate resources.

Call 1-866-966-1020 or email resources@dcoeoutreach.orgMilitary OneSourceCall 24/7 for counseling and many resources 1-800-342-9647.Need further assistance? Get Help with VA PTSD Care

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19 Jan

Pope Francis ‘slander’ comment angers Chile abuse victims

Pope Francis ‘slander’ comment angers Chile abuse victims

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A few facts:
No less than 30 priests and deacons of the diocese wrote to the papal nuncio to make clear to him that they did not want Bishop Barros as their bishop.

He was a protégé of one Fr Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty of child abuse. While there is no suggestion that Mgr Barros is a child abuser, some allege that he was too close to Karadima and was complicit in the cover up of Karadima’s crimes. Barros denied this.

The most outspoken survivor, Juan Carlos Cruz, 51, has accused Barros of witnessing his abuse at the hands of Karadima, along with other cases, and covering them up. “Barros knew what Karadima did to me — he was there, he saw it as a seminarian eight years older than me,” Juan Carlos Cruz told GroundTruth, recalling how Karadima abused him as a teenager.

On March 6, the AP reported that 51 of Chile’s 120 national lawmakers and 30 priests from the diocese urged Francis to rescind the appointment before Barros was installed.

My View: This accusation by the pope is atrocious. BULLSHIT!

The McGlynn

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Image copyright VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images Image caption Pope Francis has angered victims of clerical sex abuse with his comments

Pope Francis has triggered anger in Chile after accusing victims of a pedophile priest of slander.

Francis said there was “no proof” for their claims that abuse by Father Fernando Karadima had been covered up by another man, Bishop Juan Barros.

“There is not one single piece of proof against him (Bishop Barros). It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope said.

One Karadima victim said the Pope’s earlier plea for forgiveness over clerical sex abuse was “empty”.

The Pope made his comments on Thursday before celebrating Mass outside the city of Iquique in northern Chile.

“The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,” the Pope told journalists.

What is the controversy about?

The Catholic Church suffered a body blow in Chile in 2010 when Father Karadima was publicly accused of molesting several teenaged boys in the capital, Santiago, starting in the 1980s.

in 2011 the Vatican found him guilty of abusing teenage boys and sentenced to a lifetime of “penance and prayer”.

He never faced criminal prosecution in Chile as too much time had passed, but the judge who heard victims’ testimony in a year-long investigation described them as “truthful and reliable”.

Mr Cruz says that Bishop Barros was present when Father Karadima – then the bishop’s mentor – kissed and groped him and another boy.

While Bishop Barros has not been accused of abuse, the Pope has been criticised for appointing him bishop of Osorno in 2015. Barros’s ordination ceremony had to be cut short over protests in the cathedral.

What is the response from accusers?

Juan Carlos Cruz was one of the bishop’s accusers who was quick to condemn the Pope’s stance.

“As if I could have taken a selfie or photo while Karadima abused me and others with Juan Barros standing next to him watching everything,” he tweeted.

“These people are absolutely crazy, and @Pontifex (the Pope’s Twitter handle) is talking about reparation to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty.”

Image copyright VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images Image caption Bishop of Osorno, Juan Barros, denies allegations he covered up his mentor’s abuse of boys

Another Barros accuser, James Hamilton, told a news conference the response revealed an “unknown face” of the pontiff.

“What the Pope has done today is offensive and painful, and not only against us, but against everyone seeking to end the abuses,” he said.

Pope’s defence will raise questions

Analysis by James Reynolds in Rome

Pope Francis began his trip with an uncompromising message: “It is right to ask for forgiveness and to make every effort to support the victims [of abuse committed by priests].”

This makes his subsequent dismissal of claims made against Bishop Juan Barros all the more difficult for victims to understand.

At the heart of this issue lies the Pope’s decision to offer his consistent support to the bishop. In 2015, despite opposition in Chile, Francis appointed Juan Barros as the Bishop of Osorno. The Pope was then recorded telling visitors to the Vatican that there was not a shred of evidence that the bishop had covered up crimes committed by a fellow priest. On his trip to Chile, Francis repeated this blunt defence of Juan Barros.

In legal terms, the burden of proof does not lie with the Pope or his bishop to prove the bishop’s innocence. But a papacy is also judged in other ways. Some will wonder why the Pope does not offer a more detailed explanation as to exactly why he chooses to believe and defend a bishop against the cover-up allegations made by victims in Chile.

The controversy comes at a time when questions are being asked about the Vatican’s efforts to tackle clerical sexual abuse. In 2014, the Pope set up a high-profile commission to advise him. But the two commission members who were themselves survivors of clerical abuse resigned in protest at an apparent lack of progress. At the end of 2017, the commission’s term formally expired. Its exact future is unclear.

What other response has there been in Chile?

Another senior Catholic figure in Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic of Rancagua, criticised Bishop Barros’s continuing role in the Church, telling T13 radio: “It left me with a bitter taste that a brother of mine occupied a leading role [in the abuse scandal] that was not good.”

He added: “The victims are the priority, they should be the main concern of the Church.”

The state co-ordinator for the Pope’s visit to Chile, Benito Baranda, told Radio Cooperativa that Bishop Barros “should have stopped being a bishop a long time ago” and that his presence was damaging the Church.

Writing in La Tercera newspaper, journalist Ascanio Cavallo said the Pope’s stance could “multiply the wrath” of those who want to see the bishop expelled from his post, but added: “There is no longer any doubt: the Pope supports his bishop.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Pope travelled to Peru after leaving Chile

Earlier in his Chile trip, Francis had met victims of sexual abuse by priests in the country. He cried with them and said he felt “pain and shame” over the scandal.

The US-based NGO Bishop Accountability says almost 80 members of Catholic clergy have been accused of child sex abuse in Chile since 2000.

Pope Francis arrived in Peru late on Thursday for a three-day visit which will conclude his two-nation South America trip.

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