Author Archives | Alice Goodright

Mexican Drug Linked to the Murder of a Lawman

The county officials of Bexar County said on Tuesday that they are investigating the possible link between the death of Sergeant Kenneth Vann, their sheriff’s sergeant, and Mexican drug cartel. Vann was ambushed while he was sitting in his patrol car.

County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz said that Vann may have been targeted because he was in the government’s side.

Vann was in his uniform and was sitting in a marked patrol car Saturday when a white car parked beside him. Then, somebody from the car aimed and shot at Vann; that person fired an average of 28 shots from an automatic weapon. To date, no suspects are still in custody.

Ortiz said that they see no evidence that Vann was followed that morning, indicating that he was not targeted personally. Ortiz added that Mexican drug cartels may have picked him because he was a symbol of authority. He said that it could have just been an attack on a random law enforcement officer.

Ortiz stressed that he sees no reason for the general public to feel alarmed. He further said that the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety, along with other law enforcement agencies, are all working hand-in-hand in working with the investigation.

Deputy Lou Antou said they are reviewing surveillance videos from the gas stations in the corner where the incident took place. Vann was parking in a corner on the southeast side of San Antonio when he was killed.

Posted in Nation and World

Pastor’s Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Resolved

A sexual abuse case filed by four young men against the pastor of their church in Atlanta has been “resolved,” said their attorney on Thursday.

Attorney B.J. Bernstein, the lawyer who represented the young men, did not give details of the said settlement between the two parties. Moreover, Pastor Eddie Long and his church – New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia – did not comment on the news.

Bernstein’s office released a statement saying that the neither the plaintiffs, nor Attorney Bernstein will make comment on the case.

Pastor Long already denied that allegations September of 2010, saying that he has never used his status as a church leader to coerce the young men (in their late teens) to have sex or any relationship with him.

According to the lawsuit, however, Long follows a trend of selecting and isolating a group of young men (all of which are members of their church) and use his authority as a church leader to force them in to having sex with him.

Long’s church started only with 300 members in 1987. Membership, however, increased to at least 25,000 today. When the lawsuit was first filed, the pastor told his church that his battle is akin to David’s situation when he fought Goliath.

The church has a global network of businesses and ministries. It is set inside a campus at the east of Atlanta. They also hosted the funeral of Coretta Scott King, a civil rights leader, in 2006.

Posted in Nation and World

Smoking Ban in New York Parks and Beaches

On Monday, New York City took its smoking ban a notch higher by including beaches and parks in the list of areas within the city where smoking is prohibited. This is still a part of the city mayor’s campaign to encourage healthy habits.

The ban is an addition to the 2003 ban on cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants. The city wants to decrease the health risks posed by second-hand smoking.

Police officers will not be the ones to enforce the law but rather the 200 park personnel watching over a total of 29,000 acres of beaches and park land. People caught smoking in those areas will have to pay a fine amounting to $50; however, the city is hoping that it will generally become a self-imposed law.

Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner, said that they do not want people who want to enjoy the fresh air of parks and beaches be exposed to harmful chemicals released by cigarette smokers. Palonia Jourdain, a New Yorker who often brings her nephew to the park, said she is delighted with the ban.

The City Council of New York voted to broaden the smoking prohibitions in New York last February. Chicago and Los Angeles already have similar smoking bans in place.

The people of New York may still smoke in parking lots, streets, sidewalks, and their private homes. Landlords, however, have the discretion to impose their own smoking bans.

Health officials of the city said that cigarette smoking kills at least 7,000 New York City residents in merely a year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also banned trans fats in foods served in restaurants. Moreover, he required all restaurants show calorie counts on their menus. These are all part of his campaign to a healthier New York.

Posted in Travel

Student Accused of Triggering Suicide Pleads Not Guilty

A student who is accused of posting a sex video online of a roommate who eventually committed suicide pleaded not guilty to charges of hate crime on Monday. The case has drawn national attention to existing problems of gay bullying.

19-year old Dharun Ravi did not say a word during his appearance in New Jersey County Court as he faces 15 charges which include tampering of evidence, invasion of privacy, and bias intimidation.

Tyler Clementi, Ravi’s roommate, jumped off the George Washington Bridge a few months ago after he found out that his sexual activities with another man was caught on camera and was posted online for everyone to see. 18-year old Clementi was a first year student at Rutgers University and showed great potentials as a violinist.

Ravi allegedly used a webcam to watch his roommate’s sexual activities with another man and showed it live online. Prosecutors said that Ravi set up the live filming of Clementi’s private activities and advertised it on Twitter, a very popular social networking site. Ravi is further accused of covering up his tracks by deleting and replacing the post. He also allegedly asked witnesses not to say a word against him.

If proven guilty, Ravi could be in prison for 10 years. He is scheduled to appear in court again on the 25th of July.

The case has received a lot of public and media attention, including US President Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres. Both prominent figures spoke against bullying and school systems that promote it. Now, there are several rights groups that promote programs preventing harassment of gay students.

Posted in Nation and World

Prostitution: Key to School Debts?

On Wednesday, a study was released by the Berlin Studies Center tells us that a third of the university students in the capital of Germany would consider prostitution to finance their education.

That rate is higher than the other two cities that the study looked at – Paris and Kiev. In Paris, only 29.2% of university students would ever consider prostitution as a way to pay for their tuition, while in Kiev, only 18.5% says yes to prostitution. It has to be noted that prostitution is legal and socially accepted in Berlin.

Moreover, the study discovered that about 4% of the 3,200 Berlin students the researchers interviewed said that they have already tried to get in to the sex industry; doing works such as erotic dancing, sexy Internet shows, and prostitution.

The study authors were genuinely surprised by the results. They said that they conducted the study because they often see reports of student prostitution but did not know if it’s linked with the education policies.

26-year old Eva Blumenschein, one of the authors of the study, said that the major reason why students agree to prostitition is financial incentives. Blumenschein is also a student at the Berlin’s Humboldt University.

Blumenschein added that the new education policies may have a direct effect on their findings. There is a recent educational reform that aims to increase students’ time at the university. This means more student workload and less time to earn money. She also said that we may add the fact that student fees have increased over the past few years. Prostitution pays more for less work.

The study also found that almost a third of the students who are in the sex industry are in college debt.

Posted in Nation and World

Crisis Center in Brazil to Stop Deforestation

On Wednesday, the environmental minister of Brazil said that they have built a crisis center to address the issue of increasing deforestation in the rainforests in the Amazon.

Minister Izabella Teixeria told the press that they had to do something to address this issue after data taken from a satellite feed showed a very significant rise in deforestation in just the last two months. Last year, Brazil had the lowest yearly deforestation rate ever since they started recording the data more than 20 years ago.

Teixeria mentioned that a crisis committee is now in place to determine the causes of the increase and do something about it in a timely manner. The committee includes federal police, environmental agents, state agents, and highway federal police. The committee is set to meet weekly from here on forward.

Last year, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest dropped to its lowest in 22 years. Now, a total of 230 square miles of deforestation were observed between March and April; almost six times more than the deforestation rate in the same period in 2010.

Government officials were very happy with the data they collected last year. However, experts have already predicted that it may be just a result of the global economic decline and the deforestation rate will shoot up again as the world’s finances improve. Once it does, the demand for cattle and soy from the Amazon will also increase and farmers will start clearing the rainforests again to make way for those commodities.

The new crisis center in Brazil is working double time to make sure that the increase in deforestation does not persist.

Posted in Travel

Pakistan May Have Known About bin Laden

Somebody in Pakistan knew about the whereabouts of bin Laden and that he has been hiding in the country, said the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in an interview on Wednesday.

He, however, said that he has seen pieces of evidence that clears the country’s senior leaders of the possible conspiracy. Gates said that senior leaders were unaware that bin Laden was hiding in a compound that is just a short distance from a military facility.

Gates and Administrator Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs chairman, said that they should and will continue to work hand-in-hand with Pakistan; and the country will continue to receive aid from the United States. Despite the growing anger from the Pakistani people, both men still insisted that Islamabad device a concrete action against militants and the elimination of their hiding places.

When asked regarding the pressure from the congress to hold back all monetary and military aid in Pakistan until they fight against militants in its borders, Gates said that Islamabad is already suffering the consequences of their inaction.

Mullen also added that the image, skills, and credibility of the Pakistan military is now in question all over the world due to the successful U.S. raid against bin Laden. All these happened without the knowledge of Pakistani leaders and they are deeply humiliated because of that.

The Pentagon is currently receiving extreme pressure from the congress to find out if Pakistan covered up for bin Laden or if they were just plain innocent that the terrorist leader was among their midst. Mullen and Gates said that it will definitely take a while before they can confirm if bin Laden had protectors from the Pakistani government. The U.S. intelligence is in the process of reviewing and analyzing computer data and other materials seized during operation “Geronimo”.

Posted in Nation and World

Mom Arrested After an Alleged Misconduct in Child Care

A mother from Arizona was arrested following an accusation that she left her two very young children alone in her car while she was in a party. On Tuesday, the police said that the mother from Arizona was charged with child abuse (based on child care neglect) after the toddlers were seen wandering a busy intersection.

25-year old Vanessa Tsinajinnie, was arrested right before dawn on Monday after she was found drunk and searching for her daughters in a parking lot. This was also about the same time a passerby reported the whereabouts of the children, ages 4 and 2.

Arizona police spokesperson, Sgt. Steve Carbajal, said that the two were found crying on the streets. The 2-year old girl was in her diapers and wore no shoes, while the older one was wearing a broken shoe and a yellow dress.

An aunt was given full custody of the two children while Tsinajinnie is facing two counts of child abuse. Carbajal said that Tsinajinnie placed her children in potential danger that could easily have led to a tragedy. Fortunately, the children were recovered by the police unharmed.

In the police report, Tsinajinnie told the police that what happened is not an issue of child care. She just left the children inside the car as they usually sleep through the night. She said she was only partying in a friend’s apartment and had all intentions to check on the children in an hour. It was not clear how long the children stayed in the car before they went out on the streets.

Officers discovered an opened bottle of liquor inside Tsinajinnie’s car. She admits that her driver’s license has been suspended due to a DUI case.

Posted in Nation and World

African Ministers Applaud Progress in HIV Therapy

African ministers applaud the decrease in the number of HIV cases transmitted from mother to their children in a meeting conducted in Rome on Friday. The drop in the number of cases is a direct result of intensified treatment process.

In the meeting hosted by the Catholic Charity of Sant’Egidio, Minister of Health Mary Shababa said that the cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV dropped from 33.1% to 1.5%. She added that this phenomenon depends largely on the treatments conducted in Malawi.

Marco Impagliazzo said that a generation of African children are born without HIV thanks to treatment. Impagliazzo is the head of the charity that operates testing laboratories and treatment programs in a couple of African countries.

The meeting was attended by health ministers from a total of 18 African countries. Ministers from the countries with the highest prevalence of HIV world-wide – Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Uganda – also attended the said meeting.

A research, released on Thursday, studied generally heterosexual couples from Americas, India, and Africa, found out that people inflicted with HIV who take antiretroviral way before they health starts to decline have a 96% lesser chances of transmitting the disease to their sexual partners. This study will change the face of HIV management in 20-30 years.

The head of the Catholic Church in Italy, Angelo Bagnasco, said that the best prevention we can offer our people is treating all of those who are infected with HIV. He added that people must be constantly educated to erase the fear of coming out due to social stigma.

Posted in Health

Vatican Urges Bishops to Report Abuse

The Vatican addressed bishops all over the world on Monday and told them to cooperate with police officers and report priests who molest and rape children. Also, they were asked to come-up with guidelines on how to prevent sex abuse within a year.

The victims were quick to denounce Vatican’s recommendations as the letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (representing Catholic leaders) had no provision to make certain that bishops follow the guidelines. The victims’ groups further emphasized that the recommendations are flawed because they provide exclusive authority among bishops to determine if the abuse allegations are credible or not.

The letter, however, is a clear indication of the Vatican to show people that it is extremely serious about eliminating pedophiles among its priests. About a year ago, a sex abuse scandal plagued the Catholic Church as it exploded internationally. Now, new victims and witnesses are coming forward.

Advocates of child and sex abuse victims are nowhere near being impressed with the Vatican’s vague recommendations. They are still accusing bishops of covering for their priests; merely moving them from one parish to another instead of reporting them to the police. The recommendations do not make them feel better, said Barbara Dorris, an outreach director of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests.

In Ireland, for example, the National Board for Safeguarding Children – an independent party overseeing compliance with the guidelines of Ireland – said that they were prevented from reviewing Diocesan responses to cases of abuse. The board said in its annual report that bishops mounted questions of legality regarding priests’ privacy.

Posted in Nation and World