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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Leftover Food From Papal Visit Becomes Blessing To Area’s Hungry

Leftover Food From Papal Visit Becomes Blessing To Area’s Hungry

(Credit: Mike Dougherty) 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This past weekend’s Papal Visit was a disaster for most local restaurants as residents of the city left town and schools and offices closed a couple of days before Pope Francis arrived.

However, there is a silver lining.

Stephanie Ark-Bay of Philabundance, the regions largest hunger organization, says she’s been handling a lot of phone calls this week.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

City Controller Weighs In On Papal Visit Economic Impact

City Controller Weighs In On Papal Visit Economic Impact

File photo. (credit: Pat Loeb/KYW)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s city controller has done a limited survey of Center City businesses on how things went over the weekend of the Pope’s visit.

Just 41 businesses were included in the survey so it is not, by any means, a full economic impact report, but it does confirm what other inquiries have found.

“Restaurants were destroyed over the weekend. We also found that retail stores were hurt about as bad as the restaurants,” said City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Monday, September 28, 2015

PA Chief Justice: Court Has No Power To Remove AG Kane

PA Chief Justice: Court Has No Power To Remove AG Kane

PA state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor. (Credit: Tony Romeo)
PA state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor.
 
Harrisburg, Pa. (CBS) — The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court says it’s not the court’s role to determine if Kathleen Kane should remain in office and that the embattled attorney general can remain in office even though the court has decided to suspend her law license.

Appearing at a Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor indicated the court had no difficulty reaching a unanimous decision to suspend Attorney General Kane’s law license, effective later next month, and that there was no deal to get Democrat members of the court on board.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Sunday, September 27, 2015

'God weeps': Pope Francis meets with sex-abuse victims

'God weeps': Pope Francis meets with sex-abuse victims 

AP Photo
Crowds gathered at Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the Papal Mass on Sunday, June 27, 2015, in Philadelphia. Pope Francis is in Philadelphia for the last leg of his six-day visit to the United States.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Pope Francis met with victims of child sexual abuse Sunday on the final day of his U.S. visit and promised to hold accountable those responsible for the scandal in the church, delivering a powerful warning to American bishops accused of covering up for pedophile priests instead of reporting them to police.

In a gesture of reconciliation just hours before he was to return to Rome, the pope told the victims he is "deeply sorry" for the times they came forward to report the abuse and weren't believed. He assured them that he believes them.

"I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead," Francis said in Spanish. "Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children."

The, he went into a meeting with American bishops in town for a Catholic festival on the family and told them the same thing face-to-face.

"God weeps" over what was done to the youngsters, he said.

The gesture came as tens of thousands of the faithful streamed into the heavily fortified City of Brotherly Love for the last and potentially biggest event of the pope's joyful six-day U.S. visit: a Mass on Philadelphia's grandest boulevard, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Organizers predicted a crowd of 1 million, though there were fears that the unprecedented security, including airport-style bag searches, crowd-control cattle chutes and blocked-off streets, had scared many people away and would depress the turnout.

Francis' journey also took him to Washington and New York. Along the way, the 78-year-old pontiff drew large and adoring crowds, met with President Barack Obama, visited ground zero and addressed Congress and the United Nations, calling for urgent action on climate change and poverty.

The meeting on Sunday with victims of sexual abuse was the second one Francis has held. He received some at the Vatican in July 2014.

But in an apparent effort by the church to reshape the discussion, the Vatican said not all five of the victims on Sunday were abused by members of the clergy; some of the three women and two men had been victimized by relatives or educators.

Victim support groups were unimpressed by the meeting.

The main victims' support group, SNAP, dismissed it as an exercise in public relations.

"Is a child anywhere on Earth safer now that a pope, for maybe the seventh or eighth time or ninth time, has briefly chatted with abuse victims? No," said SNAP's David Clohessy.

The Rev. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer who worked at the Vatican embassy in Washington and is now an advocate for victims, said that including more than just victims of abusive clergy "seriously minimizes" the problem in the church.

"We don't think we're going to get any real support to change this from the leadership in the Vatican," Doyle said. "They're having this big meeting of families. But there's been no real room for all the families that the Catholic Church has destroyed through sexual abuse."

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been hit hard by the scandal and has been the subject of repeated grand jury investigations, including one that accused it of keeping on more than three dozen priests facing serious accusations. A monsignor was found guilty of endangering children by not removing pedophile priests, becoming the first American church official convicted of such an offense.

The pope has agreed to create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock, and he has accepted the resignations of three U.S. bishops accused of mishandling cases. During the previous meeting with victims, he similarly vowed to hold bishops accountable.

At the same time, Francis and U.S. bishops have also argued that child molestation is a serious problem beyond the church, especially within families and in schools. The meeting with victims abused by people other than priests underscored that point.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope met with the victims for more than a half-hour at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary. He said the pope prayed with them, listened to their stories and expressed his closeness in their suffering and his "pain and shame" in the case of those abused by priests.

During the meeting with the bishops, Francis referred to gay marriage for the first time in his U.S. trip, lamenting the new reality in which Christians must live.

But he also urged the bishops to redirect their energy away from complaining about it, saying a church that does nothing but explain its doctrine is "dangerously unbalanced" and "stuck in a vicious circle."

The U.S. bishops have spent considerable time and resources battling gay marriage, calling its legalization by the U.S. Supreme Court three months ago "a tragic error" and "profoundly immoral and unjust."

Later Sunday, Francis visited a Philadelphia jail to give hope of redemption to about 100 inmates, included suspected killers, rapists and mobsters. He greeted the men one by one, telling them to use their time behind bars to get their lives back on track.

"May you make possible new opportunities, new journeys, new paths," he said, standing before a wooden chair the men had made for him for the occasion.

The blue-uniformed inmates, some of them heavily tattooed, seemed moved. They clasped Francis' hands, and two gave him a hug.

The pope has criticized prisons that only punish and humiliate, and he has denounced life sentences and isolation as torture. During his speech to Congress, he called for abolition of the death penalty.

As the hour of Sunday's papal Mass approached, people endured hourslong waits to pass through security checkpoints, and the lines stretched for several blocks.

Sarah and Terrence Williams, both 36, of Williamstown, New Jersey, have been trying for more than a year to have a baby and said they were hoping that attending the Mass might result in a miracle.

"Hopefully he'll drive by and just his acknowledgment will be the blessing we need to get our miracle," Terrence Williams said.

Thomas Coorey, a dentist and father of four visiting Philadelphia from Sydney, called Francis "the most inspirational and amazing pope that could breathe life into this church of mine."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Dalai Lama Cancels U.S. Trip; Won’t Be In Philly

Dalai Lama Cancels U.S. Trip; Won’t Be In Philly

(Credit: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Dalai Lama has cancelled his visit to the United States next month, including a stop in Philadelphia on October 26th.

The official website for the Dalai Lama says he had a medical checkup at the Mayo Clinic on Thursday, and doctors advised that he take a complete rest.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dalai Lama as he recovers his strength. We look forward to honoring His Holiness’ contributions to world peace and individual freedom at the Liberty Medal ceremony,” says the Constitution Center’s Jenny Parker.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Thursday, September 24, 2015

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Volunteers Come Together To Build Playground For School

Volunteers Come Together To Build Playground For School
 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thursday, more than 200 community volunteers came together to build a playground for a school that never had one.

“Normally they play in the yard or blacktop, but today is special because we’re all out here building them a new playground,” said Eric Berkowitz, who was helping with the build. He was helping as part of the
Germination Project, an organization whose student fellows help improve Philadelphia’s civic future.

The playground will be used by the 709 students at Antonia Pantoja Charter School. Located in North Philadelphia, most of the children who make up the school are from lower income backgrounds. There are not many safe outdoor spaces for the students to enjoy, and their gym is located in a small, converted classroom.

For full story go to: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SEPTA Readies For Huge Crowds Expected On Regional Rail During Papal Visit Weekend

SEPTA Readies For Huge Crowds Expected On Regional Rail During Papal Visit Weekend
 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — SEPTA is taking extra precautions to manage the huge crowds expected on the regional rail line this weekend.

With rail passenger service expected to double on Saturday and triple on Sunday, SEPTA will be dispatching its own shock troops to handle the crowds.

“We’re going to have up to 2,000 employees that are ambassadors, that are gonna be watching the platforms, making sure we don’t overcrowd the platforms.”

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Towing Begins In Center City Papal Visit Security Zones

Towing Begins In Center City Papal Visit Security Zones

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The  Philadelphia Parking Authority hit the streets towing vehicles Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The PPA began towing vehicles that were parked in designated security zones in Center City ahead of the papal visit.

Residents are required to move their vehicles to accommodate the city’s preparation for events that will be part the World Meeting of Families and visit of Pope Francis.

For vehicles in the event areas, temporary no parking signs will be posted indicating parking restrictions beginning at the following dates and times:

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Philadelphia Police Search For Missing 12-Year-Old Girl

Philadelphia Police Search For Missing 12-Year-Old Girl

(credit: Philadelphia Police)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing 12-year-old girl.

Stanaya Blackwell was last seen Saturday afternoon at the Jubilee Commandment Keepers Church along the 2400 block N. 15th Street with family members.

Police say at some point during the service, family members realized that Stanaya had wandered away from the church.

Stanaya resides on the 2200 block of N. Bouvier Street in North Philadelphia.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pope To Give 4 Speeches In English In US, Rest In Spanish

Pope To Give 4 Speeches In English In US, Rest In Spanish

(credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will deliver only four out of his 18 speeches in the U.S. in English, using his native Spanish for the vast majority of his homilies, greetings and other speaking engagements in his three-city U.S. tour, the Vatican said Tuesday.

Francis has polished his English during recent trips to Asia, but the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the 78-year-old Argentine pope simply finds it easier to express himself in Spanish.

He said there was no symbolic significance to the pope’s decision.

Two of Francis’ major speeches will be in English: his remarks at the White House and speech to Congress, the first ever by a pope.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Charles Ramsey: Black Lives Matter Protesters Squandering Their Opportunity

Charles Ramsey: Black Lives Matter Protesters Squandering Their Opportunity

(File photo - Credit: CBS3)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that Black Lives Matter protesters should spend their efforts on other issues impacting black neighborhoods, rather than just focusing on negative interactions with police officers.

Ramsey told Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT that there are more pressing matters to occupy their time with.

“Education, poverty, housing, these are legitimate issues that a movement like that could take on in addition to dealing with issues of police misconduct. We need to take a serious look at crime occurring in black communities, black on black crime is a problem. You can’t ignore it. If you want to talk about improving the quality of life, it’s not just about a life in terms of living or dying, it’s also about quality of life. You have to address these other issues and there’s an opportunity here, while you have the nation’s attention, to do that and I think it’s being squandered.”

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Friday, September 11, 2015

Remembrance Ceremony, Candlelight Vigil Held At Garden Of Reflection To Honor 9/11 Victims

Remembrance Ceremony, Candlelight Vigil Held At Garden Of Reflection To Honor 9/11 Victims
 
LOWER MAKEFIELD, Pa. (CBS) — It’s been 14 years since the terrible terrorist attacks that rocked our country, and today dozens gathered at the Garden of Reflection in Lower Makefield to pay their respects to the 18 men and women from Bucks County that lost their lives on September 11th.

“This is the day we remember America’s scars,” said one speaker.

Those scars are still very deep and so very real for the families of the 9/11 victims that gathered this morning.

For full story go to: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/
 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Free Hair Cuts In The Barbershop On The Battleship New Jersey

Free Hair Cuts In The Barbershop On The Battleship New Jersey

Cosmetology student Cate gives Zach, 8, a buzzcut in the battleship barbershop. (Credit: Mike Dougherty)
Cosmetology student Cate gives Zach, 8, a buzzcut in the battleship barbershop.
 
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — Cosmetology students from the Rizzeri Aveda School in South Jersey spent their Saturday pampering visitors aboard the Battleship New Jersey, for free.

Cate’s clippers cut through 8-year-old Zach’s hair. He’s getting a military-style high and tight, in the battleship barbershop, just in time for back to school.

Zach: “I just wanted to see what it looks like when it’s done.”

Mike: What do you think?

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Authorities struggle to identify dead in migrant tragedies

Authorities struggle to identify dead in migrant tragedies 
 
AP Photo
FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept 1. 2015 file photo, Red Crescent workers, wearing protective suits, prepare to collect the body of a drowned migrant, who washed up along with several others in Zuwara, Libya (65 miles west of Tripoli) after two smuggling boats sank off the coast of Libya the previous week. As record numbers of desperate people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia flood into Europe, hundreds are also dying in risky journeys arranged by unscrupulous smugglers, and authorities are struggling to identify those victims.
  
MILAN (AP) -- Adal Neguse, an Eritrean immigrant whose brother drowned in a smuggler's boat while trying to reach Italy in 2013, knows all too well what might be in store for the relatives of those dying now in similar accidents in the Mediterranean.

Months of anguish over whether their loved one's body will be found.

The emotional pain of looking at photos of badly disfigured corpses.

Red tape and wasted time with bureaucrats who "just talk and talk" but don't keep their promises.

As record numbers of desperate people from the Middle East, Africa and Asia flood into Europe, hundreds are also dying in risky journeys arranged by unscrupulous smugglers, and authorities are struggling to identify those victims.

When the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach along with those of his mother and brother, he came to represent others who also have perished trying to seek a better life. But unlike the young Syrian refugee, many of them remain anonymous and unclaimed.

As of Sept. 1, at least 364,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year. More than 2,800 have died, or are lost and presumed dead, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Only about a third of the bodies recovered are ever identified, said Frank Laczko, head of the IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Center in Berlin.
  
"If each person has 10 relatives, that's close to 30,000 people who are affected," Laczko said. Besides the emotional pain, survivors must cope with legal issues such as property ownership to the right to remarry.

When Austrian authorities opened a truck apparently abandoned by smugglers on a highway near Vienna on Aug. 27, they discovered 71 badly decomposed bodies of men, women and children, and officials said some may never be identified. Another tragedy that same day left Libyan authorities with the task of identifying scores of bodies from two boats that sank off the coast.

In a commercial disaster like a plane crash, authorities have passenger manifests, electronic tickets, credit card records and data from travel agencies to work with. But human traffickers understandably usually keep no records when they arrange passage to Europe for those paying cash, so there are no emergency contacts and no way to contact relatives. And many refugees carry no ID. 

Laczko said his agency wants a Europe-wide database for families to provide information about missing relatives and for authorities to distribute details about bodies they have found. He also wants far more attention paid to mining data from cellphones found on victims.

In the case of the truck ditched in Austria, experts are studying documents found with the dead but also have taken their fingerprints, DNA samples and dental information, in addition to data from 10 cellphones, police spokesman Helmut Marban said.

A hotline with Arabic, English and German speakers received more than 100 calls in its first two days. The victims included Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees, police said Friday, but no identities have been established. Marban would not disclose if any relatives have been located, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

Some 2,576 people, mostly Eritreans and other sub-Saharan Africans, have died or are missing this year in the longer and more hazardous sea route from Libya to Europe, and most of the estimated 600 bodies recovered have ended up in Libya or Italy, according to the IOM. At the same time, about 116,649 have arrived safely in Italy.

Greece has logged 245,274 arrivals via the shorter route from Turkey, with 102 people dead or missing. 
Sixty of those bodies were recovered and most of them were brought to Greece, while some were sent to Turkey, the IOM said.

When the bodies end up in Italy, its main forensics team, based in Sicily, gathers what information it can: fingerprints, a DNA sample, dental information and a list of tattoos and any other distinguishing marks.

Italy has plenty of experience, dealing with maritime disasters involving smugglers' boats for years. But two tragedies in 2013 off Lampedusa, a tiny island 70 miles (115 kilometers) closer to Africa than the Italian mainland, changed much about how the world views the waves of migrants.

On Oct. 3, 2013, a trawler sank near the island, and authorities recovered 368 bodies, mostly of Eritrean refugees. Eight days later, there was another shipwreck south of Lampedusa in which nearly 200 people are believed to have drowned.

Until recently, the bodies found were recorded in Italy's missing persons' register sparely: "African ethnicity," or even "shipwrecked." The minimal descriptions belied an official view of the futility of ever getting a positive identification.
 
"Before there was the view that we only needed to identify Italians. In reality, that's not the case," said Vittorio Piscitelli, who took over the government office for missing people in 2013.

The office recorded 1,300 missing people through June 30, 2014, most of them Italians and some dating back decades, but also including hundreds of migrants. From Oct. 18, 2013, through Aug. 26, 2015, Italy has received a total of 382 bodies, the Interior Ministry said.

Piscitelli and his team joined with other organizations to create a protocol for identifying the dead from the October 2013 tragedies. This year, they began reaching out to migrant and refugee communities in Europe to find relatives to help with the process. North America is next.

The physical descriptions in the Italian missing persons' ledger have grown more robust, and DNA samples were taken of all the October 2013 victims to help resolve more cold cases.

So far, the official protocol applies only to the October 2013 shipwrecks. DNA samples were not typically taken of migrant victims prior to those tragedies, and the identification process is otherwise handled by local police, meaning relatives must figure out which jurisdiction to contact. Piscitelli hopes to be able to expand it to apply to more recent wrecks.

Of the 368 bodies recovered from the Oct. 3, 2013, sinking and the 21 bodies in the second shipwreck, 195 were identified right away, Piscitelli said. Under the new protocols, nine more bodies have been identified, with tentative IDs on another 19.

One of the dead from Oct. 3 was the 26-year-old brother of Neguse, the Eritrean immigrant.

Neguse considers himself "the lucky one" to have his brother Abraham identified.

In an interview in a park near his Stockholm home, Neguse said the process took 18 agonizing months - from the moment smugglers in Libya confirmed his brother was aboard to the final DNA confirmation.

He went to Lampedusa immediately to seek information about his brother's fate, looking at hundreds of photos of the dead and eventually giving up under the emotional strain of seeing so many badly disfigured faces.

"I was there one week, and I couldn't find him. But I talked to his friend who was there. He told me ... he drowned. But I didn't get an official answer to my questions," Neguse said.

No one took a DNA sample from him on that visit. He finally gave one when he was there again for a memorial on the tragedy's anniversary. While there, he was told results would come in a month; the positive identification actually took six months.

"They promised a lot of things, but they don't keep their promises," he said.

Neguse said officials told him that Abraham is buried in Sicily in a grave that is marked with a number but not a name.

Piscitelli said identifying the remaining bodies from the October 2013 wrecks will require help from relatives, many of whom are out of reach inside oppressive nations or in conflict zones.

A group called the Oct. 3 Committee, meanwhile, works with the Eritrean diaspora in Europe, seeking both DNA samples and documents.

Gergishu Yohannes, an Eritrean living in Germany for 30 years, assists others who are struggling with the uncertainty of a vanished relative.

She is motivated by the loss of her brother, Abel, who disappeared in 2009 while on a small boat from Libya to Italy and has never been found.

The craft, carrying 85 people, ran out of fuel near Malta. Adrift and out of food and water, the passengers began dying one by one, and their bodies were thrown overboard. When Italians finally rescued three weeks after they had set off, only five remained alive, Yohannes said.

She helps others, she said, "so that they won't have a fate like me, waiting every day, and can identify their loved ones."

Until her brother's body is found, Yohannes said she cannot rest.

"One waits every day, and I'm still waiting today," she said. "I cannot give it up."


Friday, September 4, 2015

World Reacts To Photo Of Syrian Child

World Reacts To Photo Of Syrian Child
 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s an image that’s been seen around the world.
The body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed onto a beach in Turkey.

The now iconic photo represents the struggle of Syrian refugees.

They’re fleeing their war torn country or die trying.

Aylan, his five-year-old brother and their mother died after a boat they were on capsized in the Mediterranean Sea.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Daycare Apologizes After Employees Are Charged For Encouraging Children To Fight

Daycare Apologizes After Employees Are Charged For Encouraging Children To Fight

CRANFORD, N.J. (AP) — Officials at a day care center are apologizing to parents after two workers were charged with instigating scuffles among the young children as part of what police and prosecutors are calling a “Fight Club.”

After the workers were charged Tuesday with child abuse, the Lightbridge Academy center in Cranford said in a statement that it was “shocked and saddened by this isolated incident.”

Center officials say they learned of the allegations in mid-August and suspended the workers — Erica Kenny, 22, of Cranford, and Chanese White, 28, of Roselle. Both were fired a short time later and are due to be arraigned Friday.

 For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

City Controller Releases Results Of Survey Of Local Businesses About Pope’s Visit

City Controller Releases Results Of Survey Of Local Businesses About Pope’s Visit
 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz has released the results of a survey of local businesses about the Pope’s visit and says he found the most surprising thing was what has happened to hotels in the city.

He says many have vacancies, room rates are dropping and at least one hotel has given up on international visitors and now hopes just to get other local businesses to use it to put up their workers through the weekend when roads are closed.

Butkovitz admits the survey is far from scientific. Out of thousands of businesses in Center City, his office surveyed 250 and just 68 returned the questionnaire.

But he says the anecdotal information is revealing, particularly about hotels.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

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