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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

 

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The death toll from Easter Sunday’s bomb attacks targeting hotels and churches in Sri Lanka has climbed to 359, as authorities said they defused another bomb in downtown Colombo and arrested more suspects.  Nearly 500 people were injured during the coordinated bombings across the island nation.  Sri Lankan officials say the attacks were a response to last month’s attacks on two mosques by a white nationalist gunman who killed 50 Muslim worshipers in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

Sri Lankan officials say a little-known Muslim organization called National Thowheed Jama’ath carried out the series of Easter Sunday suicide bombings with another Sri Lankan group known as the JMI.  Officials also apologized for failing to respond to multiple tip-offs ahead of Sunday’s eight attacks.  A confidential memo which was ignored, circulated among Sri Lankan security agencies 10 days prior to the attack that warned of a possible attack and gave the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the suspects.

The first round of deadly attacks hit busy Easter services at Catholic churches in the heart of Sri Lanka’s minority Christian community in and around the capital Colombo, as well as a Protestant church in the eastern city of Batticaloa.  Bombs also exploded in three luxury hotels in Colombo, with another blast striking a hotel near a zoo south of the capital, and a final blast at a private home believed to be tied to the attackers.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena requested Pujith Jayasundara, Sri Lanka’s police chief, to step down over the failure to thwart the Easter Sunday attacks but ath first, the police chief refused.  Sirisena blamed Jayasundara and Hemasiri Fernando, the defense secretary, for not sharing advance warnings of the attacks with him.   Fernando resigned earlier in the week and Jayasundara later resigned.  Police are looking for 140 people with links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS), according to President Maithripala Sirisena.

President Maithripala Sirisena has revealed his short and long-term measures to bring back normalcy to the island nation coming to terms with the Easter bombings.  “Every household in the country will be checked. The lists of permanent residents of every house will be established to ensure no unknown person could live anywhere,” he said, pointing out that during the fight against LTTE, similar methods were adopted.  Sirisena acknowledged “a serious lapse” on the part of the country’s defence secretary and top police official, who failed to inform him about an April 4 letter from a “friendly foreign country” warning about a possible attack.

Despite the police having already detained a lot of suspects, they warned that some people believed by authorities to be linked with the attacks were still at large and may possess explosives.  Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has stated that the father of two of Sunday’s alleged suicide bombers, a leading businessman who is active in politics, has been arrested on suspicion of aiding his sons in carrying out the attacks.

 

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Preliminary Report on Boeing Crashes Released

Preliminary Report on Boeing Crashes Released

 

 

 

 

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Ethiopia released its’ preliminary findings from its investigation into last month’s fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed all 157 crew and passengers on board. Ethiopia’s transport minister said the pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet followed normal procedures but were unable to overcome a flaw in the plane’s software that automatically pushed the plane’s nose down. The preliminary report found similarities in the technical failures experienced by pilots of October’s Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610, which also crashed just minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board.  The report, which could change in the coming months when it’s completed, doesn’t rule out the potential for pilot error in the Ethiopian crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded all 737 MAX aircraft while Boeing works on fixes to the planes’ software.  Boeing said this week that it needed more time to finish a software update and training, which will be necessary before the planes can fly again.  Lawmakers and regulators are scrutinizing Boeing and the process for certifying the 737 Max. The families of passengers and crew killed in the two crashes have hired lawyers to pursue claims against Boeing.  Boeing is working on an additional software fix for another problem which is related to aircraft flaps and other flight control hardware. These issues are reportedly classified as critical to flight safety.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg released a video apology  “We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents. … From the days immediately following the Lion Air accident, we’ve had teams of our top engineers and technical experts working tirelessly, in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and our customers, to finalize and implement a software update that will ensure accidents like that of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 never happen again.”

Boeing dismissed concerns about a powerful new anti-stall system on the 737 Max for months, insisting that pilots could deal with any problems by following a checklist of emergency procedures.  The preliminary findings from the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash have raised speculation of the sufficiency of those instructions.   The findings show that the pilots on the Ethiopian Airlines flight initially followed the prescribed procedures he was trained on after the anti-stall system malfunctioned. They shut off the electricity that allows the automated software to push the plane’s nose down and took manual control of the jet. They then tried to right the plane, with the captain telling his co-pilot three times to “pull up.”

Unfortunately, they could not regain control and about four minutes after the system initially activated, the plane hit the ground at high speed, killing all 157 people on board.  The report’s findings are not yet final but the initial evidence suggests that Boeing’s procedures may not have worked well when a plane was flying at a high speed.  The system, according to the investigators’ findings, appears to have forced the nose of the plane down several times in less than three minutes leaving pilots with a very short window to react before going into an irrecoverable nose dive.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on NY State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue and Sackler Family Members

NY State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue and Sackler Family Members

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New York State announced a sweeping lawsuit against members of the Sackler family, the owner of Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, the highly addictive drug at the center of the opioid epidemic.  A group of over 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes have filed suit against Purdue and 8 members of the Sackler family, which founded and owns Purdue Pharma, for their role in creating “the worst drug crisis in American history” by lying about the dangers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin and deceitful marketing of the drug.

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused the Sacklers of masterminding a scheme that “literally profited off of … suffering and death.”  While announcing the suit, James said “And as Purdue sold more and more opioids, the Sackler family transferred more and more wealth into their personal accounts. And as the lawsuits have piled up against the Sackler family and Purdue for their roles in this crisis, they continue to move funds into trusts and, yes, offshore accounts.”  The suit states that the Sackler family is worth an estimated $13 billion, partly due to the more-than-decade-long marketing campaign to boost sales of OxyContin.  At the same time, the economic cost to the U.S. for the opioid epidemic was $504 billion in 2015, the lawsuit contends.  Former Purdue CEO Richard Sackler allegedly touted the drug for unapproved uses and that Purdue workers were instructed to tell doctors the painkillers were not addictive and could help an “enhanced lifestyle,” according to the suit.

Portions of a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts against Purdue that were made public, allege that the company, the Sackler family, and company executives misled prescribers and patients as they aimed to blanket the country with prescriptions for their addictive medications.  Five years after the drug was released to the market, questions were raised about the risk of addiction and overdoses that came with taking OxyContin and opioid medications.  Richard Sackler outlined a strategy that critics have long accused the company of unleashing: divert the blame onto others, particularly the people who became addicted to opioids themselves.  In a February 2001 email he wrote “We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible.  They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”  The Massachusetts suit claims “By their misconduct, the Sacklers have hammered Massachusetts families in every way possible and the stigma they used as a weapon made the crisis worse.”  The complaint reveals that since 2007, Purdue has sold more than 70 million doses of opioids in Massachusetts for more than $500 million. “And the stigma they used as a weapon made the crisis worse.”

Purdue and the family denied any wrongdoing in a statement “The latest legal action is part of a larger effort to “single out Purdue,” and fault it for the entire crisis.  Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors vigorously denies the allegations in the complaint and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading allegations,” the statement said.

The state of Oklahoma recently reached a $270 million agreement with Purdue Pharma—settling a lawsuit that claimed the company contributed to the deaths of thousands of Oklahoma residents by downplaying the risk of opioid addiction and overstating the drug’s benefits.  More than $100 million of the settlement will fund a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University.  The settlement is the first Purdue has made amid more than 2,000 pending lawsuits connecting its painkiller OxyContin to the opioid crisis-which U.S. government data estimates is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Second Parkland Survivor Suicide Sparks Town Hall Meeting

Second Parkland Survivor Suicide Sparks Town Hall Meeting

 

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Authorities have identified a second survivor of the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who has committed suicide this month.  Sixteen-year-old Calvin Desir took his own life on Saturday, just days after 19-year-old Sydney Aiello had killed herself.  Seventeen students, staff and teachers were killed in Parkland on Valentine’s Day last year, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Sydney Aiello had suffered from PTSD and survivor’s guilt after the shooting that that took the life of close friend Meadow Pollack.  It’s unclear if Calvin, who was a sophomore at the school, suffered from survivor’s guilt as Aiello’s family have confirmed.  School district officials, community leaders, law enforcement and concerned parents met on Sunday to discuss how to address the trauma and identify possible warning signs.  A mental health and suicide prevention town hall meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 6 pm, at the Coral Spring City Hall.  A spokesperson for the city hall said “We simply cannot let the events of that day take the lives of any more of our children. As a city, we are committed to shining a light on those who suffer in the darkness. The mental health of our children and all those who have been affected by the MSD tragedy must be made a priority.”

The meeting hosted a panel of experts who answered questions from those wanting to help children cope with trauma.  Experts offered advice on how parents can connect with teenagers who isolate themselves, discussed alternative methods of therapy and whether adults can safely talk with children about suicide.  Jackie Rosen, executive director of the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, said parents should feel confident to talk about mental health with their children and begin those conversations “as soon as possible.”  Experts also encouraged promoting mental health for teachers.  “To the teachers in the room, the first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to take care of you, take care of yourself and make sure that you are as strong and as nurturing as you can be for yourself,” said Patrice Rotolo, clinical director for Smith Community Mental Health.  “Take care of your own needs because that’s the best way to meet the needs of your students.”

As news of the Parkland suicides circulated, it was confirmed that the father of a 6-year-old girl who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was found dead by apparent suicide on Monday. Jeremy Richman, a neuroscientist who, after the death of his daughter Avielle, devoted his life to finding solutions to brain abnormalities that lead to violence. He founded the Avielle Foundation to support brain science research, with the ultimate goal of preventing violence and building compassion.

Six year old Avielle Richman, who was the only child of Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, was among the 26 people killed in the Dec. 2012 shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary.   The couple had two more children after Avielle’s death.  Hensel wrote in a statement this week, “To parent our children without my champion shatters my heart and I will love my best friend forever. … Side by side since 1991, Jeremy and I walked a path of deep friendship, marriage, and parenthood.  “He succumbed to the grief that he could not escape,” she wrote.

Tragically, these recent deaths speak to how critical it is to shatter the stigma of mental health issues and for people suffering or affected by it to seek help for themselves, loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need.   If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash Kills 157 People

Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash Kills 157 People

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An Ethiopian Airlines flight traveling from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. The Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner was carrying passengers of 35 different nationalities, including eight Americans and 21 United Nations staffers.  Sunday’s crash triggered a global grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets after data suggested similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash and the Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 crash in October that killed 189 people.

The pilot of the Boeing 737 jetliner that crashed Sunday immediately noticed trouble as the plane accelerated wildly after takeoff.  Within one minute of Flight 302’s departure, Captain Yared Getachew calmly reported a “flight control” problem.  “Break break, request back to home,” the captain told air traffic controllers as they scrambled to divert two other flights approaching the airport. “Request vector for landing.”

Air traffic controllers knew the plane was in trouble even before the pilot radioed in that he wanted to turn the plane around.  They noticed the plane’s speed accelerated inexplicably and it oscillated up and down by hundreds of feet.  Radar showed the aircraft’s altitude was well below what is known as the minimum safe height from the ground during a climb.  The plane appeared to stabilize and climbed to a higher altitude, but then began to speed up again in a way that is deemed unsafe.  The plane then sped up even more just before it disappeared from radar screens and crashed six minutes after takeoff.

The ill-fated flight crashed near the town of Bishoftu, about 39 miles southeast of Bole International Airport.  The plane’s crash left a large crater and debris from the Boeing 737 jet was broken into hundreds of small pieces, making the task of recovering each part complex. The largest engine piece on the site was around the size of a small table.  Several dozen forensic investigators and Ethiopian Airlines employees slowly combed the crash site in search of any evidence, raising their hands when they come across anything significant.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders were sent to Paris where French aviation authorities will probe the heavily damaged black boxes for clues to the tragedy.  Preliminary conclusions will take several days and aircraft accident investigations can often take years to complete.  Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley said investigators will look into the MAX 8’s autopilot functions and the training of the pilots who flew the plane, as well as a mechanical part of the control system that alters the up-and-down movement of the plane’s nose.  The mechanism, called a “jackscrew,” is a threaded rod in the tail section of the aircraft that affects the plane’s stability.

Data from the “black boxes,” devices will provide further guidance for investigators as well as some answers for the families of the victims. The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent U.S. agency that investigates transportation accidents and issues widely-respected safety recommendations, also sent three additional investigators to assist in the analysis.

Many speculate whether the software in the plane’s autopilot system might have played a role in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, as it seemed to have done in the fatal crash of an Indonesian Lion Air 737 MAX 8.  In the October 2018 Lion Air crash, it appears the pilots failed to disengage the autopilot when the plane’s nose began pitching up and down.  It’s possible they were unaware of how to do so since some pilots have complained that the information to disengage autopilot was not readily available, and others have raised concerns about the adequacy of the training process.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on FDA Finds Asbestos In Makeup From Claire’s and Justice

FDA Finds Asbestos In Makeup From Claire’s and Justice

 

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The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that makeup products from two popular brands of cosmetics contain the carcinogenic substance asbestos.  FDA tests of three powdered makeup products from Claire’s, and one from the brand Justice, tested positive for asbestos, which can cause cancer.   Both retailers market their products to young girls and teens.

Asbestos is believed to cause mesothelioma, a type of cancer affecting the lining of the chest and abdomen, and is linked to an increased risk of other forms of cancer and lung disease.  The FDA released a safety alert about the products and called for more expansive authority to regulate cosmetics, saying the law about its role has not been updated since it first entered into force in 1938.  Americans spend some $60 billion a year on cosmetics, though the industry is largely unregulated.

“The current law does not require cosmetics to be reviewed and approved by the FDA prior to being sold to American consumers,” it said, adding that total responsibility for the safety of these products now rests with the companies that make them.  “To be clear, there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety,” the FDA said.   Because of the lack of regulation, the agency says that in this case, it did not have the authority to force Claire’s to pull the potentially dangerous products off store shelves.  The F.D.A. called on the industry to be more forthcoming about its safety procedures, especially in relation to how it sources and tests talc. The agency said it had used the most sensitive methods available to test 34 cosmetic products from four talc suppliers in 2010 and found no traces of asbestos.

The FDA said the Justice product, a shimmer powder, had already been recalled from the market in 2017.  Claire’s says that “out of an abundance of caution,” it has removed the three products — eye shadows, compact powder and contour powder — from stores and is also removing any remaining talc based cosmetic products (talc sometimes contains asbestos).  Claire’s disputes the test results, saying they “show significant errors” and claims its “products are safe.”  The retailer says the tests “have mischaracterized fibers in the products as asbestos.”

Independent testers dispute Claire’s claim that these products are safe. Consumer advocacy group, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, released results last March that said its testing showed that the same three Claire’s products contained asbestos.  After the U.S. PIRG report, the Dutch government said they also found asbestos in two of Claire’s products.

Regulators are trying to keep a closer eye on companies after the New York Times and Reuters reported late last year that Johnson & Johnson had known for decades about the risk of asbestos contamination in its popular baby powder and other talc-based body powders, but tried to keep negative information from reaching the public. The company received subpoenas for more information last month from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Boulder Police Draw Gun On Man Cleaning His Yard

Boulder Police Draw Gun On Man Cleaning His Yard

 

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Police in Boulder, Colorado, have launched an internal affairs investigation after video surfaced showing a police officer drawing a pistol on a black man who was picking up trash outside his own home on March 1st.  The police officer, who called other officers to the scene, is on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

According to the police department, an officer observed a man sitting in a partially enclosed patio area behind a “private property” sign and asked if the man was allowed to be there.  The man said he lived and worked at the building and produced an identification card but the officer continued to question the man.    The unidentified man is a student at Naropa University in Boulder, and the building is listed as a school residence.

The 16 minute video shows the officer approaching the man, who was using a trash picker and bucket to clean up his yard.  The officer is shown talking with the man and has his hand on his hip, near his gun.  As the video continues, several other officers arrive at the scene as the man is shouting “You’re on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me because I’m picking up trash. I hope that camera is on.”  The man’s roommate, who is filming, is shouting “He’s picking up trash, and you have your hand on your gun? He lives here, go home!”  The officer repeatedly tells the man to drop his weapon and both the man and his roommate respond that he does not have a weapon.

The man is shouting that he lives there, on private property and is picking up trash outside his dorm.  He refuses to sit down and tells police to get off his property before asking if they are going to shoot him, tase him or beat him up for picking up trash outside his own home.  The man holds the trash picker in the air saying “you’re calling this a weapon?” and the officer responds that it can be used as a weapon.  The man argues that it is not ok for them to harass him with their hands on their guns for picking up trash in his front yard and repeatedly tells them to leave.  His roommate who is filming comments that one of the officers is holding a shotgun.

A total of eight officers responded, including a supervisor and it was later confirmed by police that the object the man was holding was used to pick up trash.  Boulder police released a statement saying “Officers ultimately determined that the man had a legal right to be on the property and returned the man’s school identification card,” the release said. “All officers left the area and no further action was taken.”  In a police report, the officer claimed the man was uncooperative and “unwilling to put down a blunt object”—even though the man and his roommate repeatedly identified the object as a trash picker.  The officer who drew his weapon has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

The video has gone viral and sparked outrage throughout the community.  During a city council meeting, Police Chief Greg Testa told the crowd: “All aspects of this incident, specifically the actions of the initial officer, are being investigated… in contrast to what was stated in the video that is on social media, body-worn camera video indicates that only one officer had a handgun out, and it was pointed at the ground.”

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Report Accuses Saudi Government of Helping Nationals Flee Before Criminal Proceedings

Report Accuses Saudi Government of Helping Nationals Flee Before Criminal Proceedings

 

 

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The State Department has said it will not intervene in the case of a Saudi man accused of killing a 15-year-old American student in a hit-and-run in Portland, Oregon.  Twenty year old Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah is believed to have fled the United States back to Saudi Arabia, with the help of Saudi officials, who reportedly helped him obtain a fake passport in order to fly him out of the U.S.  An Oregonian reporter has revealed there are several similar cases of Saudi nationals accused of crimes that are suspected of receiving assistance fleeing the US by Saudi officials.

In October 2018, reporter Shane Dixon Kavanaugh received a tip from federal law enforcement about the case involving Abdulrahman Noorah, the Saudi national accused in the fatal hit and run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in Portland, Oregon.  Noorah had lived in Portland since 2014 on a student visa living off an $1,800 monthly stipend paid for by the Saudi government.  In August 2016, he was driving with a suspended license when he struck Fallon Smart as she tried to cross at 43rd Avenue in Portland.  Witnesses told police the driver was speeding and did not attempt to stop.  Noorah was arrested the next day and charged with manslaughter, felony hit and run and reckless driving.

Noorah was considered a high flight risk and likely would have remained in custody had the Saudi government not paid the $100,000 bond set on his $1 million bail.  He was put on house arrest and ordered to wear a GPS monitoring system.  According to Kavanaugh’s report, on June 10th, Noorah received permission from his release supervisor, Deputy Kari Kolberg, to study at the community college’s Southeast 82nd Avenue campus.  That afternoon a GMC Yukon XL arrived outside the host home where he had been living and picked him up.  GPS data from Noorah’s monitor bracelet shows he never went to the campus but instead traveled east along Southeast Division Street until the SUV arrived at Portland Sand & Gravel on 106th Avenue.

It is believed that his GPS monitoring device was removed on this day but his release supervisor didn’t discover he was missing until two days later on June 12th.  Investigators later discovered a bag packed at the home.  After the U.S. launched an international manhunt for Noorah, the Saudi government reached out to the Department of Homeland Security in July and told officials Noorah returned to Saudi Arabia on June 17th, five days after the SUV at picked him up.  Federal law enforcement believes that the Saudi government helped Noorah escape prosecution and return to Saudi Arabia by getting him a fake passport and flying him out of the country on a private plane.

While investigating this case, Kavanaugh uncovered four similar cases in Oregon and more cases in other states, where young Saudi students were accused of serious crimes, from rape to possession of child photography.  Many of them were bailed out by the Saudi government and all of them have since disappeared.  After Kavanaugh’s report started receiving national attention the Saudi government released the following statement “The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is not true,” said the statement issued by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. “Contrary to some media reports, Saudi diplomatic missions in the United States do not issue travel documents to citizens engaged in legal proceedings.”

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Investigation Reveals 20 Years of Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Church

Investigation Reveals 20 Years of Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Church

 

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sexual abusesbc.jpgAn investigation led by Robert Downen, a Houston Chronicle reporter, reveals 20 years of sexual abuse allegations within the Southern Baptist Church (SBC).  The joint investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News- includes over 700 victims, including many children—some as young as 3 years old.  With about 15 million members, the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the country and the shocking report has prompted calls for investigations into the church and their role in covering up and enabling the abuse.

Three hundred eighty Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have been accused of rape, abuse and various forms of sexual misconduct.  Around 220 of those have been convicted of sex crimes or were given plea deals.  Of those 220, 90 remain in prison and 100 are registered sex offenders.  The report also found that members of the church pressured some women to get abortions after becoming pregnant as a result of assault, or threatened to shun them from the church.

The investigation comes as other religious bodies, including the Catholic Church, face accusations of widespread sexual abuse of its members, especially children, over decades.  The investigation of the SBC began because of Debbie Vasquez, who was 14 years old when she was first molested by the pastor of her church and at 18 she became pregnant with the pastor’s child.   In 2008, she and others started asking SBC leadership to track sexual predators and take action against congregations that harbored or concealed abusers but the church’s leaders resisted such reforms.  As a result, Lise Olsen, deputy investigations editor at the Chronicle, says the newspaper created its own database of abusers.

Olsen says it was easier for the abuse to stay a secret because of the church’s culture which does not allow women in leadership positions or condone same-sex relationships.  She says many of the victims are either young women who are told it’s a sin to have sex before marriage, even if you’re forced to by your pastor or they’re young men who are being forced into homosexual acts with pastors and other leaders, and then are stigmatized.  These “purity teachings” leave victims feeling un-empowered to come forward, with some victims losing their faith and even becoming suicidal.

Abusers in religious organizations often don’t just groom victims, they groom communities, preparing them to rise up and protect them.  Those who speak out about sexual abuse in authoritarian religious communities are often shamed in an attempt to quiet them with accusations seeking attention or of trying to bring down a godly man.  They may be told they’re selfish — indulging in their own pain when they should be paying attention to the pain they are causing others, including the people who will turn away from the church and spend an eternity in hell because of the poor light they’ve portrayed the church in.

Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, who was elected last June, responded to the newspapers’ investigation with a series of tweets:  “The abuses described in this @HoustonChron article are pure evil.”

“There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and be a safe place for the vulnerable. The safety of the victims matters more than the reputation of Southern Baptists.  As a denomination, now is a time to mourn and repent. Changes are coming. They must. We cannot just promise to ‘do better’ and expect that to be enough. “It’s time for pervasive change, God demands it. Survivors deserve it. We must change how we prepare before abuse (prevention), respond during disclosure (full cooperation with legal authorities), and act after instances of abuse (holistic care).”

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on No Charges In Death Of EJ Bradford

No Charges In Death Of EJ Bradford

 

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An Alabama officer will not be charged in the fatal Thanksgiving Day shooting of 21 year old E.J. Bradford at a Birmingham area mall.  State Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that his investigation found the officer did not break the law and will not be charged in the death of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford Jr.  The facts of the case demonstrate that the officer “reasonably exercised his official powers, duties, or functions when he shot E. J. Bradford on the night of Nov. 22, 2018,” the report states.

Bradford’s shooting happened as officers were responding to a report of gunfire at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover.  At 9:52 pm on November 22, 2018, an altercation involving four people occurred near the Footaction and JCPenney stores on the second level of the mall.  One of the men, Erron Brown, reportedly drew a weapon and shot 18-year-old Brian Wilson twice before fleeing the area.  Stray gunfire also hit a 12-year-oil Molly Davis.

According to the Alabama State Attorney General’s report, approximately five seconds after the shooting, two officers from the Hoover Police Department approached Bradford, who was “running toward the initial shooter and victim with a firearm visibly in hand.”  One of the officers fired shots at Bradford from behind, striking him 3 times in the head, neck and lower back.  The attorney general’s report says the officer mistakenly believed Bradford had fired the earlier shots and was justified in shooting him. The officer saw Bradford running toward the shooting scene with a gun and believed he was trying to kill the shooting victim, according to the report.

Police initially described Bradford as the gunman and said officers acted heroically to “take out the threat,” but later corrected themselves and identified Erron Brown as the alleged shooter.  Brown, 20, was arrested in Georgia a week later and charged in the shooting of Brian Wilson and Molly Davis.  The attorney general, whose office took over the investigation from the local district attorney in Hoover, also released surveillance video and other documents from the investigation.

E.J. Bradford had enlisted in the army in 2017 and completed basic training, but was administratively separated in August 2018.   He was a licensed gun owner and was reportedly attempting to protect the mall patrons when he was shot.  Bradford’s killing sparked weeks of protest last year and protests erupted again after the announcement that the officer would not be charged.  Bradford’s father called the attorney general “a coward” for the report’s finding.  “My son was murdered. And you think I’m going to let it go?,” Emantic Sr. told reporters Tuesday. “That was a homicide … You killed my son. You are a coward. You’re a coward too, Steve Marshall.”

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Bradford family, said officers stated in the attorney general’s report that they did not give Bradford any verbal warning.  “We don’t have any evidence whatsoever that E.J. ever knew the police officers were there whatsoever.  E.J. went to his grave not knowing who shot him three times in his back.”  Crump said that race played a role in Bradford’s death and that a civil lawsuit claiming wrongful death will be filed.

 

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