ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (AP) — First, the Catholic Church announced it had defrocked six priests accused of sex abuse in the Puerto Rican town of Arecibo. Then, local prosecutors disclosed that at least 11 other priests on the island were under investigation for similar accusations.
Now, as U.S. authorities acknowledge that they, too, are looking into abuse allegations by priests on this devoutly Catholic island, many are reeling from revelations of abuse involving some of the U.S. territory’s most beloved clerics.
Puerto Ricans had largely been spared the lurid accounts of sex abuse involving the Catholic Church, and many had come to believe they were immune. But Barbara Dorris, a director with the U.S.-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the new reports mean it’s likely the problem is much worse than previously imagined.
“In general, these things tend to snowball because victims are afraid to come forward,” Dorris said. “If the priests have been on this island for a while, it probably means that it’s dozens upon dozens of victims out there.”
Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said last week that at least four dioceses are being investigated. He also warned he might file charges against church officials suspected of withholding information.
He described the situation as “truly scandalous.”
“We are not going to rest,” Miranda said. “We are going to capture them, we are going to process them and we are going to put them in jail.”
Allegations of sex abuse by priests are not new here, but the latest wave of investigations has dwarfed anything seen on the island of 3.6 million people, more than 70 percent of whom identify themselves as Catholic.
“People want to believe in the specialness of the priests, in the power of the priests,” said Richard Sipe, a California-based psychologist and former priest who is an expert on clergy sexual abuse. “The Latin American community is much slower in bringing charges against the priests. …The priests themselves are held in greater esteem, and the culture is identified with the Catholic Church more closely.”
On a recent Sunday morning in Arecibo, churchgoers streamed through the heavy wooden doors of the city’s 17th century cathedral. A swell of voices soon joined the priest inside in prayer, while 44-year-old Jose Soto hurriedly walked past the Mass in the town’s deserted streets.
“When you go in through those doors, it is supposed to be a spiritual, wholesome place,” he said, adding that he once regularly attended Mass in the cathedral. “You don’t know who you’re listening to anymore … It’s like using the word of God for other purposes.”
The wave of allegations began in late January with a series of reports in local media, primarily in the newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
In response, Arecibo Bishop Daniel Fernandez released a statement disclosing that since 2011 he had defrocked six priests accused of sex abuse, an unusually large number for a diocese with about 90 priests. Church officials said they have also provided counseling for at least one alleged victim and reparations in an unspecified number of cases across the island.
Last week, one of Arecibo’s defrocked priests, Edwin Antonio Mercado Viera, was charged with committing lewd acts. The 53-year-old, who had been a popular figure in the parish, is accused of fondling the genitals of a 13-year-old altar boy in 2007.
Prosecutor Jose Capo Rivera said the bishop himself is “part of the investigation” due to accusations he committed lewd acts involving a minor. Fernandez has said he is innocent.
“Clearly, it’s revenge for the decisions I’ve taken since the moment I assumed leadership of the diocese, where the situation that I found was not the most positive,” he said in a written statement.
Agnes Poventud, an attorney for a man who says Fernandez molested him when he was child, told The Associated Press that federal agents recently interviewed her and her client. She declined to say when the alleged abuse occurred or how old her client was at the time, only to say he was a minor.
A federal official confirmed to the AP that U.S. authorities have requested information about alleged clergy abuse from the Puerto Rico Justice Department. The official agreed to discuss the case only if not quoted by name because the information was not yet public.
Further revelations have followed the Arecibo cases. The Diocese of Mayaguez, on Puerto Rico’s west coast, said it has handled four cases of alleged sex abuse, the majority of them being reviewed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which takes on such accusations.
In addition, San Juan Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves said prosecutors are investigating six alleged sex abuse cases in the diocese of Puerto Rico’s capital. He said the accused priests have been suspended and the statute of limitation has expired in five cases.
Prosecutors also are investigating a sex abuse allegation in the Diocese of Caguas, Capo said.
Meanwhile, justice officials accuse the Arecibo diocese of withholding information and are fighting a lawsuit still pending in court that the diocese filed to keep secret the names of alleged victims to protect their confidentiality. Prosecutors assert the move is intended to protect the accused priests, a charge diocese attorney Frank Torres denies.
“The church has cooperated and has a policy of transparency, but that cooperation does not mean the church is free to violate the guarantees of confidentiality it has awarded the victims,” Torres said in a phone interview.
Diocese officials in Puerto Rico say that the statute of limitations has expired in many cases, an argument that Florida-based lawyer Joseph Saunders said has been the church’s first line of defense. He said many church officials argue they should have been sued when the alleged violations occurred.
“Nobody sued a bishop or a priest back then,” he said. “There’s an underlying fear of going to hell for suing the bishop.”
Interesting… Millions upon millions of human beings waste their lives fighting with one another, abusing one another, killing one another… And yet, if one of these gigantic asteroids collides with Earth, people will realize just how stupid they are and how frivolous all the fighting really is. Unfortunately, if one of these asteroids does hit us, relatively few of us will remain. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Space.com
An asteroid wider than nine ocean liners sailed safely past Earth today (May 31), making its closest flyby of our planet for at least the next 200 years.
Asteroid 1998 QE2, which is about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) wide, cruised within 3.6 million miles (5.8 million km) of Earth at 4:59 p.m. EDT (2059 GMT) today, then slipped silently off into the depths of space once again.
The huge space rock never posed any danger of hitting Earth on this pass, scientists say. Indeed, at its closest approach this afternoon, 1998 QE2 was still about 15 times farther away than the moon is from Earth.
But astronomers have been tracking the asteroid closely nonetheless, regarding the close encounter as an opportunity to learn more about 1998 QE2′s composition, structure and orbit.
They’ve trained two huge radio telescopes on the space rock — NASA’s 230-foot-wide (70 meters) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and the 1,000-foot (305 m) dish at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
“It is tremendously exciting to see detailed images of this asteroid for the first time,” Lance Benner, principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement earlier this month.
“With radar, we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with its own unique set of characteristics,” Benner added. “In a real sense, radar imaging of near-Earth asteroids is a fundamental form of exploring a whole class of solar system objects.”
The observation campaign is set to run through June 9, but it has already transformed scientists’ understanding of 1998 QE2. Researchers announced Thursday (May 30), for example, that the asteroid is actually a binary system, in which a 2,000-foot (600 m) moon circles the much larger space rock.
Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered in August 1998 by astronomers working with MIT’s Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research program in New Mexico. The space rock is one of 10,000 or so near-Earth asteroids identified to date, but the total population of these close-flying objects is thought to exceed 1 million.
Scientists are working hard to find and track as many of these asteroids as they can, starting with the biggest and most dangerous ones. The good news is that they’ve spotted virtually all the mountain-size asteroids like 1998 QE2 that could threaten human civilization if they hit Earth, and none are on a collision course with Earth for the foreseeable future.
Many smaller but still hazardous objects remain undiscovered, however. For example, astronomers have catalogued less than 30 percent of the asteroids at least 330 feet (100 m) wide that are thought to come uncomfortably close to Earth at some point in their orbits. Such objects could destroy an area the size of a state if they slammed into Earth.
Because of the nature of the sport, very few professional fighters are what one would call “decent” human beings. Most come from broken homes and grow up in the streets as thugs. By the way, boxers aren’t the only ones to which this applies. Promoter Don King, pictured below with the “nest” on his head, is a bigger scum-bag than most boxers combined. This guy has to go down in history as one of the biggest leeches of all-time. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
By DANICA COTO and DAVID SKRETTA (Associated Press) | The Associated Press
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Hector ”Macho” Camacho, a Puerto Rican boxer known for skill and flamboyance in the ring as well as for a messy personal life and run-ins with the police, was declared dead on Saturday, four days after being shot in the face. He was 50.
Shot while sitting in a parked car outside a bar Tuesday with a friend in the city of Bayamon, he was declared dead at the Centro Medico trauma center in San Juan. The friend, 49-year-old Adrian Mojica Moreno, died at the scene of the shooting. Police said Mojica had nine small bags of cocaine in his pocket and a 10th bag was found open in the car.
Originally from Bayamon, just outside San Juan, Camacho was long regarded as a flashy if volatile talent, a skilled boxer who was perhaps overshadowed by his longtime foil, Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez, who would beat him in a long-awaited showdown in Las Vegas in 1992.
Camacho fought professionally for three decades, from his humble debut against David Brown at New York’s Felt Forum in 1980 to an equally forgettable swansong against Sal Duran in Kissimmee, Florida, in 2010.
In between, he fought some of the biggest stars spanning two eras, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Roberto Duran.
”This is something I’ve done all my life, you know?” Camacho told The Associated Press after a workout in 2010. ”A couple years back, when I was doing it, I was still enjoying it. The competition, to see myself perform. I know I’m at the age that some people can’t do this no more.”
Camacho’s family moved to New York when he was young and he grew up in Spanish Harlem, which at the time was rife with crime. Camacho landed in jail as a teenager before turning to boxing, which for many kids in his neighborhood provided an outlet for their aggression.
Former featherweight champion Juan Laporte, a friend since childhood, described Camacho as ”like a little brother who was always getting into trouble,” but otherwise combined a friendly nature with a powerful jab.
”He’s a good human being, a good hearted person,” Laporte said as he waited with other friends and members of the boxer’s family outside the hospital in San Juan after the shooting. ”A lot of people think of him as a cocky person but that was his motto … inside he was just a kid looking for something.”
Laporte lamented that Camacho never found a mentor outside the boxing ring.
”The people around him didn’t have the guts or strength to lead him in the right direction,” Laporte said. ”There was no one strong enough to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him how to do it.”
Drug, alcohol and other problems trailed Camacho after the prime of his boxing career. He was sentenced in 2007 to seven years in prison for the burglary of a computer store in Mississippi. While arresting him on the burglary charge in January 2005, police also found the drug ecstasy.
A judge eventually suspended all but one year of the sentence and gave Camacho probation. He wound up serving two weeks in jail, though, after violating that probation.
Camacho’s former wife, Amy, obtained a restraining order against him in 1998, alleging he threatened her and one of their children. The couple, who had two children at the time, later divorced.
He divided his time between Puerto Rico and Florida in recent years, appearing on Spanish-language television as well as on a reality show called ”Es Macho Time!” on YouTube.
Inside the boxing ring, Camacho flourished. He won three Golden Gloves titles as an amateur, and after turning pro, he quickly became a contender with an all-action style reminiscent of other Puerto Rican fighters.
Long promoted by Don King, Camacho won his first world title by beating Rafael Limon in a super-featherweight bout in Puerto Rico on Aug. 7, 1983. He moved up in weight two years later to capture a lightweight title by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez, and successfully defended the belt against fellow countryman Edwin Rosario.
The Rosario fight, in which the victorious Camacho still took a savage beating, persuaded him to scale back his ultra-aggressive style in favor of a more cerebral, defensive approach.
The change in style was a big reason that Camacho, at the time 38-0, lost a close split decision to Greg Haugen at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 1991.
Camacho won the rematch to set up his signature fight against Chavez, this time at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Camacho was roundly criticized for his lack of action, and the Mexican champion won a lopsided unanimous decision to retain the lightweight title.
It was at that point that Camacho became the name opponent for other rising contenders, rather than the headliner fighting for his own glory.
He lost a unanimous decision to another young Puerto Rican fighter, Trinidad, and was soundly defeated by De La Hoya. In 1997, Camacho ended Leonard’s final comeback with a fifth-round knockout. It was Camacho’s last big victory even though he boxed for another decade.
”Hector was a fighter who brought a lot of excitement to boxing,” said Ed Brophy, executive director of International the Boxing Hall of Fame. ”He was a good champion. Roberto Duran is kind of in a class of his own, but Hector surely was an exciting fighter that gave his all to the sport.”
The fighter’s last title bout came in 1997 against welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, who won by unanimous decision. Camacho’s last fight was his defeat by Duran in May 2010. He had a career record of 79-6-3.
People who read this article shouldn’t be misled by its contents. Cuba didn’t need hurricane Sandy in order to be without electricity and running water. The Castro regime, in power since 1959, has systematically destroyed what was once an island paradise.
Except for tourist areas in Havana and Matanzas provinces, the rest of the country is in shambles. The country’s infrastructure is destroyed; roadways, bridges, highways, etc. haven’t been repaired in 50 years. Hospitals are insect-ridden and without air conditioning. Buildings are falling apart with leaky roofs, stucco which is peeling off the walls in sheets and little paint. Water and sanitary piping are corroded to the point of bursting and electrical wiring throughout entire commercial and residential districts is exposed, even indoors. What cars are still operational date back to the fifties. In short, the country is a toilet bowl. In this regard, Fidel and Raul Castro are right at home!
However, worse than all of the physical damage, the “real” damage has been done to the Cuban people. People who were once industrious, prosperous and proud are now lazy, and many have resorted to theft, prostitution and the like in order to survive under this failed system of government. TGO
Refer to story below. Source: Associated Press
By PETER ORSI | Associated Press – Mon, Oct 29, 2012
HAVANA (AP) — Residents of Cuba’s second-largest city of Santiago remained without power or running water Monday, four days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall as the island’s deadliest storm in seven years, ripping rooftops from homes and toppling power lines.
Across the Caribbean, the storm’s death toll rose to 69, including 52 people in Haiti, 11 in Cuba, two in the Bahamas, two in the Dominican Republic, one in Jamaica and one in Puerto Rico.
Cuban authorities have not yet estimated the economic toll, but the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported there was “severe damage to housing, economic activity, fundamental public services and institutions of education, health and culture.”
Yolanda Tabio, a native of Santiago, said she had never seen anything like it in all her 64 years: Broken hotel and shop windows, trees blown over onto houses, people picking through piles of debris for a scrap of anything to cover their homes. On Sunday, she sought solace in faith.
“The Mass was packed. Everyone crying,” said Tabio, whose house had no electricity, intermittent phone service and only murky water coming out of the tap on Monday. “I think it will take five to ten years to recover. … But we’re alive.”
Sandy came onshore early Thursday just west of Santiago, a city of about 500,000 people in agricultural southeastern Cuba. It is the island’s deadliest storm since 2005′s Hurricane Dennis, a category 5 monster that killed 16 people and did $2.4 billion in damage. More than 130,000 homes were damaged by Sandy, including 15,400 that were destroyed, Granma said.
“It really shocked me to see all that has been destroyed and to know that for many people, it’s the effort of a whole lifetime,” said Maria Caridad Lopez, a media relations officer at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Santiago. “And it disappears in just three hours.”
Lopez said several churches in the area collapsed and nearly all suffered at least minor damage. That included the Santiago cathedral as well as one of the holiest sites in Cuba, the Sanctuary of the Virgin del Cobre. Sandy’s winds blew out its stained glass windows and damaged its massive doors.
“It’s indescribable,” said Berta Serguera, an 82-year-old retiree whose home withstood the tempest but whose patio and garden did not. “The trees have been shredded as if with a saw. My mango only has a few branches left, and they look like they were shaved.”
On Monday, sound trucks cruised the streets urging people to boil drinking water to prevent infectious disease. Soldiers worked to remove rubble and downed trees from the streets. Authorities set up radios and TVs in public spaces to keep people up to date on relief efforts, distributed chlorine to sterilize water and prioritized electrical service to strategic uses such as hospitals and bakeries.
Enrique Berdion, a 45-year-old doctor who lives in central Santiago, said his small apartment building did not suffer major damage but he had been without electricity, water or gas for days.
“This was something I’ve never seen, something extremely intense, that left Santiago destroyed. Most homes have no roofs. The winds razed the parks, toppled all the trees,” Berdion said by phone. “I think it will take years to recover.”
Raul Castro, who toured Cuba’s hardest-hit regions on Sunday, warned of a long road to recovery.
Granma said the president called on the country to urgently implement “temporary solutions,” and “undoubtedly the definitive solution will take years of work.”
Venezuela sent nearly 650 of tons of aid, including nonperishable food, potable water and heavy machinery both to Cuba and to nearby Haiti, which was not directly in the storm’s path but suffered flash floods across much of the country’s south.
Across the Caribbean, work crews were repairing downed power lines and cracked water pipes and making their way into rural communities marooned by impassable roads. The images were similar from eastern Jamaica to the northern Bahamas: Trees ripped from the ground, buildings swamped by floodwaters and houses missing roofs.
Fixing soggy homes may be a much quicker task than repairing the financial damage, and island governments were still assessing Sandy’s economic impact on farms, housing and infrastructure.
In tourism-dependent countries like Jamaica and the Bahamas, officials said popular resorts sustained only superficial damage, mostly to landscaping.
Haiti, where even minor storms can send water gushing down hills denuded of trees, listed a death toll of 52 as of Monday and officials said it could still rise. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has described the storm as a “disaster of major proportions.”
In Jamaica, where Sandy made landfall first on Wednesday as a Category 1 hurricane, people coped with lingering water and power outages with mostly good humor.
“Well, we mostly made it out all right. I thought it was going to be rougher, like it turned out for other places,” laborer Reginald Miller said as he waited for a minibus at a sunbaked Kingston intersection.
In parts of the Bahamas, the ocean surged into coastal buildings and deposited up to six feet of seawater. Sandy was blamed for two deaths on the archipelago off Florida’s east coast, including a British bank executive who fell off his roof while trying to fix a window shutter and an elderly man found dead beneath overturned furniture in his flooded, low-lying home.
Associated Press writers Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana, David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica, and Jeff Todd in Nassau, Bahamas, contributed to this report.
Peter Orsi is on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi