Mexican prosecutors find 166 skulls in mass graves
Thursday, September 6
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Investigators said Thursday they have found 166 skulls in clandestine burial pits in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, one of the biggest mass graves discovered so far in Mexico.
Veracruz state prosecutor Jorge Winckler said that for security reasons he would not reveal the location of the site.
Mexican drug cartels frequently use clandestine pits to dispose of their victims.
Winckler said the bodies were buried at least two years ago and did not rule out finding more remains. He said investigators had found 114 ID cards in the field, which held about 32 burial pits.
Clothes, personal possession and other parts of skeletons also were recovered, but investigators focused on the skulls in counting, because each corresponds to one person.
Veracruz was the scene of bloody turf battles between the Zetas and Jalisco drug cartels, but the state also suffered waves of kidnappings and extortions.
Winckler said prosecutors found the field after a witness told them that “hundreds of bodies” were buried there.
Investigators used drones, probes and ground-penetrating radar to locate the pits and began digging about a month ago.
Winckler said groups of relatives of missing people who perform their own searches for graves were not invited to participate in this one to maintain secrecy. He said they would be shown photos of items found at the site in a bid to help identify the remains.
Disappeared activist Lucia Diaz, whose Colectivo Solecito group has led police to other burial grounds in the past, said she doesn’t trust the announcement.
“We don’t trust the work they do, we have a lot of reasons,” Diaz said, noting that in one past case investigators excavated too quickly and pulled bodies out in pieces. “In this case they took out 166 bodies in one month? It cannot have been done properly. It’s impossible, too quickly.”
Diaz joined the effort after her own son, Guillermo Lagunes Diaz, was kidnapped from his home in 2013. No trace of him was ever found.
She said prosecutors illegally excluded families of the disappeared from the latest effort. “He (Winckler) went against the law, because the law says the families have a right to participate now.”
Maria de Lourdes Rosales Calvo, who has been searching for her son Jonatten Celma Rosales since he was abducted with his girlfriend in July 2013, said the news of the newly discovered grave “gives hope.”
“They await us in forensics next week to look at the belongings and IDs that were found,” she said.
She said authorities invited all of the state’s collectives of families searching for missing loved ones, including hers known as the Veracruz Mothers Network, to come to the state capital of Xalapa.
Her son was 25 years old and working in foreign trade when four armed men abducted him and his girlfriend from their home six blocks from the mother’s home. When she reported it, authorities told her that she had to wait 72 hours. Later, they brushed her aside, saying the couple had run off, she said.
Four days after they were taken, she received a call demanding ransom and warned her not to go to the authorities. She paid a fraction of it for five seconds on the phone with someone who might have been her son. It was only long enough to hear him say, “Mom,” and then the line cut. She did not hear from them again.
It was not the first time that someone with inside knowledge of mass graves revealed their location.
In 2016 and 2017, Veracruz investigators found 253 skulls and bodies in burial pits outside the state capital, after relatives of missing people said they received a hand-drawn map from someone detailing the location of the graves.
In 2011, police found 236 bodies in burial pits in the capital of northern Durango state, which is also named Durango.
A total of 193 corpses were found in the town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas state, just north of Veracruz. Officials say most of those were Mexican migrants heading to the United States who were kidnapped off buses and killed by the Zetas cartel.
Opinion: For Parents Only — the Dark Side of College and the Path Toward Healing
By Samuel R. Staley
Rigorous studies of American campus life indicate that between 3 percent and 8 percent of college women will report being raped by the time they graduate and nearly a quarter will experience some type of sexual assault. Almost 700,000 college students — male and female — will be assaulted by someone who has been drinking. About 100,000 will be sexually assaulted or raped while someone is abusing alcohol.
With statistics like these making national headlines, tens of thousands of parents will spend the first several weeks after they drop their children off at college praying they won’t get “the call” — the one from a college dean, friend, hospital, or police station informing them of a tragic event that just injured their child or put their life on indeterminate hold due to trauma.
What’s a parent to do?
As colleges and universities ramp up their programming to help students cope with such tragedies, parents are virtually ignored in the discussion. Yet parents should be considered part of the first line of help when tragedy strikes. Indeed, students often desperately want and need their parents’ emotional support as they cope with these life-changing events.
Sadly, too many young people are afraid to approach their parents because they dread a negative reaction, indifference to their plight, or getting blamed for becoming a victim.
This fear doesn’t have to be reality.
The first step is for parents to become more informed about modern campus life, especially its rocky sexual terrain.
Few books on the subject are as accessible and insightful as “American Hook-Up: The New Culture of Sex on Campus” by sociologist Lisa Wade. Published last year, Wade’s analysis is deeply informed by recent academic research on social and individual relationships as well as illuminating interviews with students.
Most parents will be shocked to learn how different the world their children are stepping into is from their own experiences at the same age. The hyper-sexualization of campus life, for example, has relegated emotional intimacy to a post-sex thought. The side effect has been to further marginalize women in college culture. Wade doesn’t pull punches as she non-judgmentally deconstructs modern college life, courting rituals, ethical dilemmas and other quandaries faced by students as they navigate a dynamic, complex social environment that few ever really figure out.
Another sobering but powerful book is “We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out” by Annie E. Clark and Andrea L. Pino. These brave women, sexual assault survivors themselves, have compiled compelling personal stories that provide an insider’s look at the trauma and tragedy of a social system gone awry. Few books offer as many firsthand perspectives on the emotional and psychological traumas suffered by those who fall victim to bad behavior in the dark corners of college campus life. The breadth of the experiences can empower parents and others providing emotional support by widening our understanding of how and when these tragedies occur.
Another resource for parents that’s grounded in the real experiences of college students is my own book, “Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.” As the author, I was reluctant to mention it here until I re-read this comments from an anonymous reader: “As a college-aged woman who has experienced these things, and this culture, I was so pleased to be able to read all of my same thoughts laid out neatly. Thank you for this.”
What motivated me to research a book on such a stressful topic? Personal knowledge of students falling victim to this culture was certainly one powerful force.
But as the father of a college-age son and daughter at the time, I also feared my children would not come to me if they experienced such trauma. I wanted to know how best to help if I ever received “the call.”
In the course of writing the book, I came to learn more deeply why sexual assault is different from other abuses, why college sexual assault is different, and why a pro-active and comprehensive approach to addressing the problem is crucial.
Unfortunately, some parents will receive “the call.” If this happens, they will be better able to help if they have an idea of what to expect, based on the travails of those who have walked this troubled road. Others who have done their homework can better help their children cope with the traumas and tragedies that befall their friends — secondhand trauma that is painfully under addressed.
The first step for parents to help their children navigate the dark side of modern college life is to become better informed. The second step is to show unqualified compassion and empathy. The third step is to help guide our children onto a path toward healing and recovery. Together these steps can build emotional connection and offer buoyancy to young lives otherwise at significant risk of being lost at sea.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Sam Staley is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and on the full-time faculty of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Duterte: Defiant senator won’t be arrested without warrant
By JIM GOMEZ
Friday, September 7
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has decided not to seek the arrest of an opposition senator, who has taken refuge in the Senate, without a court warrant after the defiant lawmaker asked the Supreme Court to declare Duterte’s order illegal.
The decision could ease a three-day standoff between Duterte and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, the volatile president’s fiercest critic in Congress.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a news conference Friday in Jordan, where Duterte is winding up a visit, that the president made the decision “to abide with the rule of law” after a long discussion with Cabinet officials who were traveling with him. The news conference was shown live by Philippine TV networks in Manila.
“The instruction is to abide with the rule of law,” Roque said. “If there is no warrant of arrest issued by any court, do not apprehend Sen. Trillanes.”
Backed by dozens of supporters, Trillanes did not immediately venture out of the Senate building, where he has been marooned since Tuesday. His lawyer said the senator would make sure there is no more danger of an illegal arrest.
In a signed proclamation made public Tuesday, Duterte voided a 2011 amnesty granted to Trillanes, who once joined mutinies as a navy officer, and ordered his arrest.
Trillanes refused to leave the Senate and instead asked the Supreme Court in a petition to declare Duterte’s order illegal without a court warrant, which, if upheld by the high court, could open the president to impeachment bids.
Known for his temper and outbursts against critics, Duterte has openly expressed anger against Trillanes, who has accused him of large-scale corruption and involvement in illegal drugs and extrajudicial killings in an anti-drug crackdown that has left thousands of suspects dead. Duterte has denied the allegations.
The Department of Justice said Duterte voided Trillanes’s amnesty because the senator did not file a formal amnesty application and admit guilt for his role in past coup attempts.
Trillanes, however, has presented TV and newspaper reports, along with defense department documents, showing he applied for the amnesty and acknowledged his role in three military uprisings between 2003 and 2007.
Trillanes, 47, was jailed for more than seven years for involvement in the army uprisings, including a 2003 mutiny against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo when he and other young officers rigged part of a road in the Makati financial district with bombs and took over an upscale residential building.
After being amnestied under Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, Trillanes successfully petitioned two Philippine courts to dismiss rebellion and coup cases against him, allowing him to later run for public office.
Despite many legal questions, the Department of Justice has asked the courts to issue a warrant for the senator’s arrest and revive rebellion cases against him. Separately, the Department of Defense said earlier this week that it has deployed officers to the Senate to take custody of Trillanes and have him face a military court of inquiry into his role in the coup attempts. A military detention cell was being readied for him.
Duterte “has made it very clear that although a military tribunal could order his arrest, he prefers and he has ordered that authorities wait for the decision of the regional trial court,” Roque said.
Since Duterte took office in 2016, another opposition senator has been jailed on illegal drugs charges, a critical Supreme Court chief justice has been ousted by fellow judges, and foreign critics, including an Australian nun, have been barred from entering the Philippines or threatened with deportation.
Santa Fe Fiesta turns page on tribute to conquistadors
Friday, September 7
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Civic leaders in New Mexico’s capital city are turning the page on a grinding dispute over the annual re-enactment of a 17th century conquistador reclaiming Santa Fe after a Native American revolt.
The controversial pageant was being replaced Friday by new gestures of reconciliation at Santa Fe’s autumn festival that starts with Catholic Mass and a performance by Indian Pueblo dancers.
Public statues and tributes to early Spanish conquerors have encountered mounting criticism tied to the brutal treatment of American Indians centuries ago by Spanish soldiers and missionaries, as activists draw parallels to the controversy over Confederate monuments.
The Santa Fe Fiesta previously included a depiction of the re-entry of conquistador Don Diego de Vargas into Santa Fe after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Rob Richardson outraises Republican opponent again
Thursday, September 6, 2018
COLUMBUS, OH – Today, Democratic nominee for Ohio Treasurer Rob Richardson announced another filing amount surpassing his Republican opponent, State Rep. Robert Sprague. Richardson raised $140,879.80 to Sprague’s $101,525.00. Richardson also continued to surpass Sprague in overall individual contributions, leading him 2,293 to 835.
“Our numbers today are another indication that voters in Ohio are ready for change and new leadership” Richardson’s Campaign Manager Chris Myers said. “This was our opponent’s chance to make up some ground, but his filing indicates, as we’d suspected, that Ohio voters are rejecting the failed policies embraced by Rep. Sprague and the GOP. The fact that Democrats in Ohio are consistently outraising their Republican opponents does not bode well for the GOP’s chances in November.”
Rob Richardson is a former chairman of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, where he established the U.C. Scholars Academy for students in the Cincinnati Public School District. He also founded the first Next Lives Here Innovation Summit and led the development of the 1819 Innovation Hub where students, faculty, and staff collaborate with entrepreneurs, startups, and others in the private sector.
Richardson has been a longtime advocate for workers as a marketing construction representative. He also serves “of counsel” with the law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, where he practices in securities litigation.
20th Anniversary Edition of The Christmas Attic Available This Fall
NATIONWIDE ARENA TWO SPECTACULAR SHOWS – DECEMBER 26 – 3:00PM & 8:00PM Columbus, Ohio – Friday, Sept 7, 2018 – Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) announced its highly-anticipated Winter Tour 2018 will be returning to Columbus! TSO’s annual November-December multi-sensory extravaganza, which sells out venues year after year, has cemented the group’s status as a must-attend, multi-generational, holiday tradition. This year’s 20th anniversary tour, a presentation of TSO’s unforgettable “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” featuring founder/composer/lyricist Paul O’Neill’s timeless story of a runaway who finds her way into a mysterious abandoned theater, is set to begin on November 14th and will visit 65 cities across North America, for 100-plus performances, before concluding on December 30th at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland (see full itinerary below). TSO’s Winter Tour 2018 is presented by Hallmark Channel.
Qfm96, Sunny 95, Ricart Automotive Group and Wildlights at The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium are proud to welcome TSO when they return to Columbus for their 2018 North American tour! Nationwide Arena will host two spectacular shows on Wednesday, December 26 at 3:00pm & 8:00pm. Tickets for both shows go on sale Friday, September 14 at 10am with a portion of the proceeds benefitting The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium conservation efforts and A Kid Again courtesy of TSO.
Based on TSO’s multi-platinum DVD and long running PBS fundraiser, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” the rock opera features such enduring fan-favorites as “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “O’ Come All Ye Faithful,” “Good King Joy,” “Christmas Canon,” “Music Box Blues,” “Promises To Keep,” and “This Christmas Day.” 2018’s tour will also boast a rousing second set containing more of TSO’s greatest hits and fan-pleasers.
As in all previous years, a portion of every ticket sold benefits select local charities. To date, more than $15 million has been distributed from TSO to worthy charities across North America.
Stabbing of a leading Brazilian candidate could reshape race
By MAURICIO SAVARESE and SARAH DiLORENZO
Friday, September 7
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The wounding of a leading Brazilian presidential candidate has the potential to reshape the election contest after dramatically exposing the deep polarization in Latin America’s largest nation.
Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has promised to crack down on crime, has long argued that Brazil is in chaos and needs a strong hand to be steadied.
After a knife-wielding man stabbed the candidate in the abdomen during a campaign event Thursday, Brazilians surged on to social media to argue over whether the attack supports Bolsonaro’s assertions that the country is off the rails or whether his heated rhetoric contributed to inciting the attack.
Dr. Luiz Henrique Borsato, who performed emergency surgery on the candidate, said Bolsonaro’s recovery so far was “satisfactory.” He said the candidate would remain hospitalized for at least a week after a two-hour operation to stop serious internal bleeding.
In numerous videos posted on social media of the moment of the attack, Bolsonaro could be seen on the shoulders of a supporter, looking out at the crowd and giving a thumbs up with his left hand. He is seen flinching and then goes out of view. Other videos show supporters carrying him to a car and hitting a man who was apparently the attacker.
A suspect, identified by authorities as 40-year-old Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, was arrested within seconds.
Police did not give a motive, but one official said the man appeared to be mentally unstable.
“Our agents there said the attacker said he was ‘on a mission from God,’” Luis Boudens, president of the National Federation of Federal Police, told The Associated Press. “Their impression is that they were not dealing with a mentally stable person.”
After more than four years of revelations of widespread corruption within Brazil’s political class, anger is running high in the country, and analysts initially predicted this would be a change election. But no true outsider has emerged.
Instead, Bolsonaro, despite being a congressman since 1991, has harnessed much of the anger and presented himself as a maverick who will clean up a corrupt system. He also promises to confront a surge in crime, in part by giving police a freer hand to shoot and kill while on duty.
The public’s anger is partially responsible for making this year’s campaign the most unpredictable in years for Brazil, and the attack could lead to another seismic shift. The man leading polls, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been barred from running by electoral authorities because he was convicted of corruption and is in jail. That puts Bolsonaro in the lead position, though it is unclear how the attack might affect the campaign for the Oct. 7 presidential ballot.
In the hours following the attack in Juiz de Fora, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro supporters predicted it would carry him to the presidency.
“They made Bolsonaro a martyr,” said Jonatan Valente, a student who joined a small vigil for Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo. “I think the left shot itself in the foot because with this attack they will end up electing Bolsonaro.”
But it is unknown when he can get out again on the campaign trail and if his injuries will impede his ability to campaign.
There were signs of the deep divide in Brazil at the vigil, when Bolsonaro’s supporters briefly exchanged insults with some detractors who showed up.
Meanwhile, on Twitter many decried the stabbing and asked for prayers for Bolsonaro, but others suggested the candidate might have brought the attack upon himself or even staged it.
This is not the first time in recent months that violence has touched politicians. In March, while da Silva was on a campaign tour in southern Brazil before his imprisonment, gunshots hit buses in his caravan. No one was hurt. Also that month, Marielle Franco, a black councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro, was shot to death in March along with her driver after attending an event.
While Bolsonaro has a strong following, he is a deeply divisive figure. He has been fined, and even faced charges, for derogatory statements toward women, blacks and gays.
He speaks nostalgically about the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has promised to fill his government with current and former military leaders. His vice presidential running mate is a retired general.
“It’s likely that Bolsonaro will use the attack to argue his opponents are desperate, that they had no other way to stop him,” said Mauricio Santoro, a political science professor at Rio de Janeiro’s state university.
Associated Press journalists Peter Prengaman and Marcelo Silva de Sousa in Rio de Janeiro and Victor Caivano in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.