November 24, 2017

Why Men Like Trump and Putin Feel They Have to Oppress LGBT

Masha Gessen explains why Trump, Putin target LGBT people

The Russian-American journalist and author draw parallels between attacks on minorities in Russia and the U.S.

Political leaders can employ a wide array of tactics for uniting people, including finding a common enemy. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are both prime examples of using the demonization approach to build up their domestic support, and Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen says their treatment of LGBT communities draws many parallels.

In an interview with "Salon Talks," Gessen said that Trump is “starting to target LGBT people because social change connected to LGBT rights is the most recent and most significant social change that we’ve seen in this country." As for Putin and the Russian public, she says “most Russians believe they’ve never met an LGBT person in their lives. Also, they immediately see LGBT people as 'other,' lending to the success of singling the group out as a 'problem.'" 

Gessen’s new book, “The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” explores the question of why, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians embraced a leader like Putin instead of going down a more Democratic path. There is no simple or singular answer, and Gessen weaves the lives of seven different people together to dive into the recent history and the lingering effects of the Soviet system.

One of the younger Russians she profiles is a gay man named Lyosha who headed a gender studies program at a university in Perm but eventually ran into the institutional suppression of this topic and is now one of many LGBT refugees living in New York. In recent years, Russia had passed legislation banning the spread of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” to minors, and LGBT hates crimes have doubled. 

Gessen argues that both Putin and Trump hearken back to an imaginary past where people felt more comfortable without “irritants” like the issue of LGBT equality. To hear more on her comparisons of Trump and Putin, watch the video above.

“The Future is History” is a National Book Award winner and provides a depressing and eye-opening look at modern-day Russian society and how it’s been shaped by the intellectual vacuum left by the Soviet system. Gessen also documents recent political activism and how it’s been cracked down upon in Putin’s Russia.

To hear the full conversation and learn why Gessen has chosen the terms “Totalitarianism” and “mafia state” to describe Russia today, watch the interview here.

Video Shows How North Korean Border Guard Dashes to Freedom or Death

NPR by 

Newly released closed-circuit television footage shows a North Korean
soldier sprinting south across the border last week while his fellow soldiers fire on him.
Screengrab by NPR/United Nations Command
The closed-circuit television footage is silent, but that makes it no less dramatic.
A jeep speeds through the North Korean countryside, crossing what is known as the 72-Hour Bridge.
Inside the vehicle is a North Korean soldier, making a desperate escape. All but the headlights disappear behind tree cover. 
The video changes. We see North Korean soldiers running from their posts.
The video shifts again. The jeep is stuck in a ditch. The driver leaps from it, and he sprints south under gunfire from his fellow soldiers. In a separate frame, we see him run across the border.
In pursuit, a North Korean soldier also runs across the border. He looks down and seems to realize what he has done. He turns around and dodges behind a building on the North Korean side.
The episode transpired on Nov. 13 in the Joint Security Area, according to The Associated Press.
Infrared video shows South Korean soldiers 40 minutes later, crawling toward the defector, who lies wounded about 55 yards south of the border. They drag him to safety; he is then taken aboard a U.S. Black Hawk military helicopter and rushed into surgery at a hospital near Seoul.

The Joint Security Area is the only portion of the border where soldiers from the two countries stand just feet apart — and this is one of the only areas where a sprint across is feasible, The New York Times reports. The last time a North Korean soldier defected across the Joint Security Area was 2007.
Footage of the incident was released this week by the American-led United Nations Command, which administers the site on the southern side of the border. The Joint Security Area lies within the Demilitarized Zone.
The U.N. Command said that it had completed its investigation of the incident and that the North Korean army had violated the U.N. Armistice Agreement twice: by firing weapons across the border and when the North Korean soldier briefly crossed the border chasing the defector.
Gen. Vincent Brooks, the American who leads the U.N. Command, said in a statementdated Tuesday that the battalion acted "in a manner that is consistent with the Armistice Agreement, namely — to respect the Demilitarized Zone and to take actions that deter a resumption of hostilities. The armistice agreement was challenged, but it remains in place."
The defector is being identified only with the surname Oh, according to Reuters. In the gunfire during his escape, he was shot five times.
Dr. Lee Cook-jong, a surgeon who treated Oh after his escape, told outlets, including the Times, that when doctors performed surgery on his intestinal wounds, they found parasitic worms 11 inches long.
"In my 20 years as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a medical textbook," Lee said.
But the Times reports that the parasites should come as no surprise:
"Defectors to the South have cited the existence of parasites and abysmal nutrition. Because it lacks chemical fertilizers, North Korea still relies on human excrement to fertilize its fields, helping parasites to spread, the experts said.
"In a 2014 study, South Korean doctors checked a sample of 17 female defectors from North Korea and found seven of them infected with parasitic worms."
Lee told a news conference on Wednesday that the man had regained consciousness and was now stable.
"He is fine," Lee said, according to Reuters. "He's not going to die."

No Experience Trump's Choice for US District Court Says on Capital Punishment "They Shoot Them Up"

 Brett Talley, nominated to sit on on appellate Court (Top court after  Supreme Ct). People say because his wife works for Trump and the work they did to get him electoral votes in Alabama. He has no experience as a judge but he will be upholding or knocking decisions of other judges in that District.

Since his confirmation hearings for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, 36-year-old Brett Talley has come under criticism for his relative inexperience, his failure to disclose that his wife works as a lawyer in Trump’s White House, and the fact that he didn’t reveal that he’d apparently written a series of pseudonymous message board posts on the website under the username BamainBoston. 

In those posts, which covered a wide range of sports and nonsports topics, BamainBoston was open about his enthusiasm for the death penalty. In 2015, for example, BamainBoston noted that it would be “awesome” if Alabama brought back the electric chair. Later in the thread, BamainBoston proposed an alternative means of execution, saying that a “bullet’s cheap.” One year earlier, responding to news that an Oklahoma inmate named Clayton Lockett had died of a heart attack on the gurney after his lethal injection was botched, BamainBoston wrote: “Just shoot them. That’s effective.”

In a post this year, BamainBoston indicated he had worked on capital punishment cases in his career. That post read as follows:

Handled a bunch of death row cases in my previous job. With one exception, every one of them admitted that they’d committed the crime but were trying to mitigate to life without parole based on some excuse—drugs, violent childhood, etc. And the one exception the guy was clearly guilty. I don’t know the details of this Arkansas case, but death row cases with an actual innocence claim are kind of like abortions based on rape, incest, or the life of the mother. They certainly happen, but the whole debate shouldn’t turn on them.
BamainBoston’s message came in a thread titled “Arkansas May Have Just Executed an Innocent Man.” That man, Ledell Lee, was executed earlier this year. Elizabeth Vartkessian of the Marshall Project wrote that the “courts refused to allow Lee’s team to conduct DNA testing and new evidence of his likely intellectual disability was never heard.” BamainBoston opined, “I wouldn’t spend too much time weeping for Lee.”

As a district court judge, Talley could hear capital criminal cases. At least 18 former death row inmates have been exonerated by DNA evidence and released from prison, the Innocence Project reported in 2009. BamainBoston expressed skepticism that anyone had been executed wrongfully since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1977, writing:

Anti-death penalty advocates have gone to great lengths to definitively identify someone from the modern era who was executed and was innocent, Roger Keith Coleman is probably the most famous failed example. But that is beside my point. Feel free to change the standard for the death penalty if you like and give people who make claims of actual innocence yet another appeal process, or have a higher standard for imposition of the death penalty itself, beyond not only a reasonable doubt but any doubt. Do whatever you want, because the vast majority of people on death row are unequivocally and admittedly guilty.
In response to follow-up questions from Sen. Dick Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Talley listed his work on death penalty cases as one of his key qualifications as a potential federal judge. In his own follow-up questions, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse noted that Talley had in his role as deputy solicitor general of Alabama “defended questionable practices concerning the death penalty, such as executing a mentally incompetent death-row inmate and allowing a judge to override a jury’s recommendation for a life sentence and impose the death penalty.” Talley’s response:

I defended the practices to which you refer in my capacity as an attorney representing a client, the state of Alabama. Those representations will have no influence on my sentencing practices, other than providing familiarity and experience with the legal issues surrounding the death penalty and challenges to sentences generally.
The Supreme Court ultimately sided with Talley’s view in the case of the mentally incompetent death row inmate. Earlier this month, the court unanimously struck down a lower court ruling blocking the execution of a man who couldn’t remember his crime—but could understand the concepts of crime and punishment—after having suffered a series of strokes.

November 23, 2017

Wishing you a Peaceful, Good Thanksgiving Holiday

Happy Thanksgivingūü¶ä

November 22, 2017

Navy Plane Crashes Into Pacific

Eight people have been found alive and are in "good condition" after a U.S. Navy plane with 11 aboard crashed into the sea off Japan on Wednesday, the military said. 
The search and rescue for three other personnel continue, the Navy said
"Our entire focus is on finding all of our sailors," Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton said in a statement, adding that the Navy "will be relentless in our efforts." 
The aircraft is believed to have crashed around 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa Island at about 2:45 p.m. local time (12:45 a.m. ET) while on the way to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. 
Eight of the 11 Navy personnel were rescued some 45 minutes later before being transferred to the ship for medical evaluation. The aircraft carrier, which is in the Philippine Sea, is part of the Japan-based 7th Fleet.

Search and rescue efforts were being conducted by the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft. The names of the crew and passengers were being withheld pending next of kin notification. 
The aircraft was taking part in an ongoing U.S.-Japan naval exercise off the coast of Okinawa in which some 14,000 U.S. personnel were participating. 
The annual exercise is "designed to increase the defensive readiness and interoperability of Japanese and American forces through training in air and sea operations," a statement on the event said earlier this month.  
The plane was conducting a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan at the time of the crash, according to the Navy. 
The aircraft's role included the transport of high-priority cargo, mail, duty passengers and distinguished visitors between USS Ronald Reagan and shore bases throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia, the statement added. 
The Navy said the incident would be investigated. 
The crash comes at a time when the Navy's 7th fleet and the U.S. Pacific Command have come under increased scrutiny after two deadly collisions in Asian waters this year left 17 sailors dead.
Image: A C-2A Greyhound
A C-2A Greyhound like this one went down in the sea off Japan. Stocktrek Images / Getty Images file
Seven U.S. sailors died when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the coast of Japan in June. Two months later in August another navy destroyer, USS John S. McCain, collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, leaving 10 sailors dead. 
In the wake of the accidents, eight top Navy officials were removed from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander. After the second collision, the Navy ordered the entire fleet to take a one-day “operational pause” to ensure that the ships were meeting safety standards. 
The Navy said a family assistance center have been set up. Families living on base in Japan can contact 315-243-1728, while families living in the U.S. can call +81-468-16-1728. 
by   and 

Al Franken Story:'Its Possible that Feminists in Trying to Hold Dems to Higher Standards Risk Total Disarmament'


Last Thursday, after a photograph emerged of Senator Al Franken either groping or pretending to grope a sleeping woman, Leeann Tweeden, with whom he’d been traveling on a 2006 U.S.O. tour, I wrote that he should resign. Almost as soon as it was published I started having second thoughts. I spent all weekend feeling guilty that I’d called for the sacrifice of an otherwise decent man to make a political point.
Then I saw the news that a woman named Lindsay Menz accusedFranken of grabbing her butt while they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, when he was a senator, and I read Franken’s lame non-denial: “I feel bad that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
Yet I am still not sure I made the right call. My thinking last week, when the first accusation emerged, was: cauterize the wound. It doesn’t matter that Franken’s transgression wasn’t on the same level as the abuses that the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore or Donald Trump have been accused of. That photo — the unconscious woman, the leering grin — is a weight Democrats shouldn’t have to carry, given that they’ve lately been insisting that it’s disqualifying for a candidate to grab a woman sexually against her will. It seemed cruel to expect Democratic women to make Jesuitical arguments that the shadows under Franken’s hands meant he wasn’t really touching Tweeden’s chest. Especially since, with a Democratic governor in Minnesota, the party would maintain control of Franken’s seat.
But even as I made the case for resignation, I was relieved that it seemed as if Franken might stick around, because I adore him as a public figure. It’s easy to condemn morally worthless men like Trump; it’s much harder to figure out what should happen to men who make valuable political and cultural contributions, and whose alleged misdeeds fall far short of criminal. Learning about all the seemingly good guys who do shameful things is what makes this moment, with its frenzied pace of revelations, so painful and confounding.
Personally, I’m torn by competing impulses. I want to see sexual harassment finally taken seriously but fear to participate in a sex panic. My instinct is often to defend men I like, but I don’t want to be an enabler or a sucker. I try not to be a hypocrite, while being aware that the right plays on the media’s desire to seem fair-minded, which is part of what led to wildly excessive coverage of Hillary Clinton’s emails during the presidential campaign, among other distortions. It’s not a coincidence that the post-Harvey Weinstein purge of sexual harassers has been largely confined to liberal-leaning fields like Hollywood, media and the Democratic Party. This isn’t because progressive institutions are more sexist than others — I’m confident there’s at least as much sexual abuse in finance as in publishing. Rather, organizations with liberal values have suddenly become extremely responsive to claims of sexism. Feminists, enraged and traumatized by Donald Trump’s election, know they can’t expect accountability from Republicans, but they’ve forced it from people who claim to share their ideals. As a result, it sometimes feels as if liberal institutions are devouring themselves over sex while conservatives, unburdened by the pretense of caring about gender equality, blithely continue their misrule.  
Adding to the confusion is the way so many different behaviors are being lumped together. Weinstein’s sadistic serial predation isn’t comparable to Louis C.K.’s exhibitionism. The groping Franken has been accused of isn’t in the same moral universe as Moore’s alleged sexual abuse of minors. It seems perverse that Franken could be on his way out of the Senate while Moore might be on his way in.
It’s possible that feminists, in trying to hold Democrats to standards that they wish were universal, risk unilateral disarmament. Kate Harding made this case in The Washington Post last Friday, arguing against Franken’s resignation. If Democrats “set this precedent in the interest of demonstrating our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women, we’re only going to drain the swamp of people who, however flawed, still regularly vote to protect women’s rights and freedoms,” she wrote. And when the next Democratic member of Congress goes down, there might not be a Democratic governor to choose his replacement. 
I’m partly persuaded by this line of reasoning, though conservatives mock it as the “one free grope” rule. It’s a strange political fiction that anyone can really separate partisanship from principle. In general, the character of the party that controls the government has a much greater impact on people’s lives than the character of individual representatives. Those who care about women’s rights shouldn’t be expected to prove it by being willing to hand power to people devoted to taking those rights away.
Yet just as there’s a cost for cutting good but imperfect men loose, there’s a cost to defending them from consequences we’d demand if the politics were reversed. It forces feminists to treat our own standards as unrealistic, to undermine our own arguments. Ultimately, however, these dilemmas play out, we lose: either the moral high ground or men whom we need, admire and maybe even love.
The New York Times

The Struggle to Find a Gay Physician in Rural America and Coming Out to Your Straight Doctor

Finding the perfect doctor can be a feat for anyone.
And a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that 18 percent of all LGBTQ Americans refrain from seeing a physician for fear of discrimination.
One of those people is 20-year-old Alex Galvan. The moment right before he told his doctor earlier this year that he is gay and sexually active felt like a nightmare. Galvan lives in rural Tulare County in California's Central Valley. He wanted to start a regimen of medication that helps prevent HIV infection, an approach called "pre-exposure prophylaxis," or PrEP.

Alex Galvan remembers his last thought before coming out to his doctor earlier this year: "Oh gosh, here it goes."
Ezra David Romero/Valley Public Radio
"Sitting in the waiting room was kind of like, 'you got this, you're just asking for a medication to help you,' " Galvan says, remembering what was going through his head before he came out to the doctor. "He's not going to flip out. And then the moment before was, 'Oh gosh, here it goes.' "
His doctor didn't know about PrEP, and Galvan thought he was going to be rejected. Instead, his physician educated himself.
"I was kind of scared that he didn't know what it was, but I was also relieved because I let him do most of the research," Galvan says. "Yeah, and then I cried a little bit in the car, because I didn't know what just had happened and it all kind of blurred together."
Pediatrician Kathryn Hall knows about these concerns all too well. She has been practicing medicine in Tulare County for over a decade, and time and time again, her patients tell her they're afraid to come out to their other doctors. A few years ago, she got so fed up that she surveyed more than 500 nearby doctors asking them basic questions about being welcoming. 
"I made the bar very, very low because we just didn't get much education on LGBT health in medical school," says Hall. "That is starting to change."
Around 120 doctors responded to Hall's survey, and most of them said they would be happy to serve this group. Hall says there are lots of ways that doctors can make it clear they're accepting — a little rainbow flag on the door or taking out ad in a local magazine.
"Many of the physicians that I know are LGBT-friendly, but patients don't know that and are very afraid that they're being judged," Hall says.

Vargas coached Galvan through his fear of coming out to his doctor and how to help educate the physician about treating a gay man.
Ezra David Romero/Valley Public Radio
A few years ago, Nick Vargas was having trouble finding an LGBTQ-friendly doctor in this agricultural region of California. He had just moved from the Bay Area to the town of Visalia, about an hour south of Fresno, where he leads a LGBT center, called The Source. He says he had to educate his new physician about how to treat a gay man. That led the 40-year-old to want to help others find doctors and get prescriptions for PrEP.
"Once you tell them, they want to be able to help," Vargas says. "But they have to ask for it. And then they have to learn how to administer it, how to follow up, and that's a process and it's out of the scope of what they normally do." 
Vargas says he now has a great relationship with his doctor, but it took a year for him to get on the drug. Now part of his job at The Source is to refer people to LGBTQ-friendly physicians. People like Alex Galvan who was so nervous about coming out to his doctor.
In fact, Vargas helped Galvan muster the courage to come out and ask for PrEP. Now Galvan has been on it for almost a year.
"It allows me to have fun and to go out and enjoy myself," says Galvan.
And more than that, coming out to his doctor is helping him take control of his life and health care.
"All it takes is that is that little bit of a jump, and that little bit of a push to go, 'I need this,' " Galvan says.
Galvan is now encouraging other friends in rural Tulare County to actively seek out a doctor who will care for all their health needs.

The Pope Also Needs to Come Around on Transgenders

For your average person, information and a little science are all it takes to understand what a transgender is and why is so inhuman to discriminate against them.

 Pope Francis in NYC 

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has caused much ink to be spilled in evaluating his stand on LGBT issues. Now, a gay Catholic offers his latest thoughts after the pope's remarks on gender identity last month, suggesting the pope's record will remain weaker until he comes around to transgender equality.

Xorje Olivares, a gay Catholic writing for Vice, called on Francis to welcome the entire LGBTQ community after the pope decried the "biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference" in early October.

Olivares opened his column saying this comment is "yet another example of how Pope Francis has completely missed the mark on displaying full acceptance of his queer flock, including our transgender brothers and sisters." He described the pope's handling of LGBT issues these past few years as "a bundle of contradictions," and wrote further:
"It's that kind of inconsistency that continues to puzzle LGBTQ Catholics, who are still looking for their rightful place within a Church that has discriminated against them for decades. It also begs the question: who is the real Pope Francis, and what are his true feelings towards the LGBTQ community? . . .

"Which is why I, and other LGBTQ Catholics, are conflicted about our approach towards Francis. Are we holding him to an unreasonable standard, given the gulf between the Church he inherited and the incredibly queer-inclusive society [at least here in America] we live in? Or should we continue holding his feet to the fire of Scripture's burning bush in the hopes that it ignites change from the top-down?"

Dawn Ennis, a transgender journalist who is Catholic, told Olivares that while Francis is "appealing to progressive Catholics who are hanging onto our Church by a thread," he's also "adhering to outmoded, outdated, and antiquated dogma that please those on the right by reinforcing transphobic, misogynist and anti-LGBTQ teachings."

For Olivares, who participated in the Owning Our Faith video about LGBT Catholics ( produced by people fro St. Paul the Apostle parish, Manhattan ) that was presented to Pope Francis by the pastor, there are clear positives and negatives in his papacy when it comes to gender and sexuality. But what is unacceptable, and what LGBT Catholics need to be in solidarity against, is the disparaging of any person because of their sexual and/or gender identity. He wrote:

"Like any good politician, [Pope Francis is] navigating the inner workings of the Vatican by trying to please both pro- and anti-LGBTQ elements within the Church all at once.
"But the sad part of that impossible arrangement comes when it prompts him to disparage the lives and existence of trans people ( Catholic or not ), who are just as vital and integral to the LGBTQ community as any other cisgender person. After all, injury to one of us ultimately hurts us all ( even if the LGBTQ movement doesn't always adhere to this mentality ). Yes, Francis can endorse civil unions and claim he's not one to judge, but until he tightly embraces ALL of God's children, including our trans peers, I'd be reluctant to call him 'Advocate of the Year'—at least not yet."

Ennis offered an even stronger critique of the pope's failure to reach out positively towards trans individuals, commenting specifically on the pope's most recent critical remark about gender-affirming surgeries:

"Francis, like all popes before him, is clinging to a doctrine that will burn the bridges we have built between the Church and its laity. Those bridges need reinforcement, and all Francis has done with these new, disturbing pronouncements is weaken them."
The concept of bridge building has been prominent in Catholic circles due to Fr. James Martin, SJ's new book, Building a Bridge, which addresses LGBT issues in the church. In the eyes of many people, the pope is doing precisely that, building a bridge. But Olivares and Ennis are important, critical voices that remind us there is much work to be done. A bridge built without transgender equality as a constitutive part of it will fail.

by Robert Shine, Associate Editor New Ways Ministry
Robert Shine is the associate director of New Ways Ministry and has been with the organization since 2012. The original article, published Nov. 15, is at .

Windy City Times

November 21, 2017

Ohio Anti Gay Law Maker Now Facing 30 More Accusations from Men18-24

The Law maker appears here with his wife
 Here is Mr. Religious and rabidly anti gay because he thought the two could not exist together. But he also had a wife  while he was a promiscous Gay closeted having as much anonimous sex as he could since to keep the secret his encounters he had to be a one shot deal. I have been there I know except I refused to get married until I fixed my problem which was never fixed and finally had to accept the truth. Behind me there was no string of guys or girls I hurt becauuse I was young and gay and didn't know what to do but I knew enough aand how not to hurt people over my young libido. I was also a seminarian, I guess I still Am but Iam totally against religion. I have measured what any good we might get from it and it gets erased by the cost of having people do religion like Italians do and serve spaghettii on their
dining room tables. From wars to separation of people's, to separation of families and the hurt they cause and this is today not 100 yrs ago. Their hurting the world population is gotten worse because of our communication and travel modern systems. Look at Russia, which was the church that convince Putin to pass the anti gay law. Or any other place.                {Adam}

An Ohio GOP lawmaker who resigned last week after being caught having sex with a man in his office, faces fresh accusations of sexual misconduct with over 30 individuals, according to an exclusive report by the Independent Journal Review, a right-leaning millennial-focused news outlet. 
Rep. Wes Goodman, who touted his conservative, Christian values and sided with anti-LGBTQ stances as a legislator, allegedly had a regular m.o.: He’d pretend to be a mentor of sorts to men in the 18-24 age range on Facebook Messenger. The conversations would quickly turn sexual, with Goodman, 33 and married since 2012, sending suggestive messages and sexually explicit photos on Snapchat, and at times directly soliciting sex.  
“I thought it would be a great way to build a professional relationship with an upcoming conservative lawmaker and seemingly solid guy,” one source, who wished to remain anonymous, told IJR. “However, he constantly sent me Snaps and was always commenting on my stories. He also asked how much “p—y” I was getting and wondering what I was doing on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Months later, in November 2016, Goodman reportedly took it up a notch. 
“Then, he sent me videos of him masturbating, as well as d–k pics. He also sent another Snapchat asking how big my penis was. I immediately blocked him. He later [messaged] me on both Instagram and Facebook, leading me to block him on both apps as well.”
Dozens of men shared similar stories of Goodman with screenshots as proof, according to IJR. 
The report Monday compounds allegations against Goodman dating back years. Goodman was accused of fondling an 18-year-old boy at a fundraiser in 2015, the Washington Post reported. The event’s organizer, Tony Perkins, president of the Council of National Policy, reportedly asked Goodman to drop out of the race for Ohio Legislature, but Goodman stayed in and won. He has represented Ohio’s 87th district since 2016.
“We all bring our own struggles and our own trials into public life. That has been true for me, and I sincerely regret that my actions and choices have kept me from serving my constituents and our state in a way that reflects the best ideals of public service,” Goodman said in a statement after his resignation. “For those whom I have let down, I’m sorry. As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I sincerely ask for privacy for myself, my family, and my friends.”
VICE News reached out to Goodman for comment on the new allegations, but he didn’t not respond by press time.
Ohio House Speaker Rep. Cliff Rosenberger said a committee will be chosen to screen for Goodman’s replacement, according to the Toledo Blade.

The Official Tally of The Puerto Rican Deaths From Maria is 55 CNN Finds it at 499


As hard is to stick a whole page of a newspaper or Media report on this blog, I found CNN to have done such a great job, something no else is done that I wanted to show everything on that page. They cared and took the time and work fastidiously calling a couple hundred funeral homes and talking to people in the mid-island and the mountains about who died and how. CNN found out the real numbers are 3 times higher than the official tally.

Maria's uncounted dead

We surveyed 112 Puerto Rican funeral homes to check the accuracy of the hurricane death toll. This is what we found.

Cayey, Puerto Rico (CNN)People on this part of the island knew Quint√≠n Vidal Rol√≥n for two things: his white cowboy hat, which he seemed to wear every day of his 89-year life; and his beat-up Ford pickup truck, which he'd been driving for at least 50 years. 
It was in that 1962 truck and wearing that hat, that Vidal spent his days zipping around the mountainous back roads of Cayey, Puerto Rico. He sold hardware from the wooden bed of the pickup. And he used those tools, and a lifetime of sweat, to build houses -- always in concrete. 
Like him, the material was nothing if not consistent. It was strong enough to stand up to a storm, he told clients and family members. Don't trust anything less durable. 
After Hurricane Maria slammed into this US territory on September 20, peeling roofs from wooden homes and amputating branches from trees, the community turned again to Vidal. No one can say exactly how many people survived the storm in the hard-cast structures he helped construct for them, often at little or no cost. But it's likely hundreds, his family said. 
Quintín Vidal Rolón, 89, survived Hurricane Maria but not its aftermath.
The man who would have been 90 years old in February survived the storm at home alone. Shortly after, he was seen by neighbors clearing debris from roads and flooded houses. 
It was the aftermath of the hurricane that would prove fatal. 
No one thought much of the lantern at first. Some neighbors noticed the oil-powered flame flickering in Vidal's living room. He'd started using it after the storm hit -- a light he lit at dusk, as the coquí frogs began their chorus. Maria's winds had toppled power lines like toothpicks in Cayey; and power service in the town, like on much of the island, has been slow to return amid a government response widely described as inadequate. Only 10% of people here have power today, said Mayor Rolando Ortiz. Vidal needed a way to see in the dark.
It was October 20, one month after the storm, when the neighbors smelled smoke. 
    Daisy Lamboy stood on her roof, straining to find cellular signal to call emergency responders. Margarita Le√≥n busted through Vidal's window, releasing a mushroom of heat. It was too late. Vidal's charred remains were found in a blackened "hellscape," as one relative described it -- a scene so otherworldly, and so seemingly unnecessary, that one firefighter, Vidal's nephew, fainted. 
    Several of Vidal's siblings, children and grandchildren, as well as Cayey's mayor, the police chief and the director of emergency management -- all say Vidal died as a result of the power outages caused by Hurricane Maria, and that have lingered for nearly two months.
    If he'd had power, he wouldn't have been using the lantern with the open flame. 
    And if he hadn't used that lantern, he'd still be alive, they said. 
    One family member described Quintín Vidal Rolón's home on October 20 as a "hellscape."
    In general, "indirect" hurricane deaths -- in which a person likely would be alive if not for the storm and its aftermath -- should be part of the official death toll, according to Puerto Rico's Department of Public Safety, which oversees the count. The list of 55 deaths attributed to the hurricane includes ones from heart attacks and suicides that were precipitated by a storm that shook even the sturdiest of the 3.4 million American citizens who live on this Caribbean island. 
    Yet Vidal's death -- and potentially dozens if not hundreds of others -- is yet to be counted by Puerto Rico as it creates a list of mortalities related to the Category 4 storm. 
    We spent two weeks in Puerto Rico trying to understand why.  
      The trip included a survey of about half of all funeral homes on the island, which showed the potential for widespread undercounting; interviews with doctors and public officials; and, most importantly, conversations with the family members of Puerto Rico's uncounted dead. 
      The analysis of the death toll found problems that start at the time of death and continue beyond the grave.

      'The official count is 55'

      When President Donald Trump visited Puerto Rico on October 3, he praised Hurricane Maria's relatively low death toll -- then 16. Officials should be proud of the low number of deaths, and for avoiding a "real catastrophe" like 2005's Hurricane Katrina, Trump said. Later that day, however, Puerto Rico's death toll rose to 34. 
      Since then, politicians, academics and news outlets, including CNN, have raised questions about the accuracy of the official Hurricane Maria death toll in Puerto Rico. A storm as powerful as Maria would be expected to kill hundreds of people, not dozens, said John Mutter, a professor at Columbia University who reviewed deaths after Hurricane Katrina. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yul√≠n Cruz told CNN's Jake Tapper on November 3 she thought the toll could be 500.  
        The Puerto Rican government fired back at that estimate. 
        "In order to support her statement, [Cruz] needs to present the evidence," Héctor M. Pesquera, secretary of the Department of Public Safety, said in a statement. "If she is not willing to do such, it is an irresponsible comment. The government of Puerto Rico certifies the death count based on factual information in concert with all components involved in the process. At the moment, the official death count is 55."
        To check the accuracy of the Puerto Rican government's figures, we called nearly every funeral home in Puerto Rico. Funeral home directors are on the front lines of this crisis -- they count the dead and they speak with family members about the circumstances. It was through a funeral home director, for instance, that we learned of Vidal's death and others. 
          Some funeral homes did not answer our calls, and several declined to provide data. CNN was able to collect responses from 112 of the island's funeral homes. That's about half the total number in Puerto Rico, according to Eduardo Cardona, director of the Puerto Rico Association of Funeral Home Directors. (The Puerto Rican Department of Health said it was unable to provide us with a comprehensive list of all funeral homes on the island, saying the computer systems that contain those documents remain down because of the storm). 
          Those funeral homes identified 499 deaths in the month after the storm -- September 20 to October 19 -- which they say were related to Hurricane Maria and its aftermath. That's nine times the official death toll. And, again, it represents only about half of funeral homes.
          One funeral home director, Jos√© A. Molina, in Vega Alta, was so overwhelmed by work after the storm that he died of a heart attack on October 10, according to his son, Luis Alberto Molina. The 31-year-old said his father was under tremendous stress as he tried to run a sanitary business without reliable power or water service. Jos√© Molina had to wait in hourslong lines for fuel, his son said. Before the storm, he had high blood pressure but otherwise was in good health, Luis Alberto Molina said. His color and temperament changed. He stopped eating and sleeping. Eventually he complained of chest pains and was taken to the hospital. His son, who now manages the business, the Vega Alta Memorial Funeral Home, handled his father's services. 
          "Me and my siblings are going to continue his legacy," he said.
          We asked the funeral home directors to consult their records before providing these estimates. Yes, they are subjective. All official hurricane deaths in Puerto Rico must be certified by a single office at the Bureau of Forensic Sciences in San Juan, the capital. Funeral home directors are not trained pathologists, and do not conduct autopsies and other tests. They do, however, speak with family members and review death certificates and bodies. 
          Surveying funeral homes likely underestimates the number of hurricane deaths, said Eric Klinenberg, director of New York University's Institute for Public Knowledge, who wrote a book that dealt with problems with death tolls following a 1995 heat wave in Chicago.
          "The cases where you have the body and the body gets taken to the funeral home almost always understate the real mortality," he said. "There's always a significant number of bodies that don't get processed through funeral homes. What that tells me (is that) there are a lot more cases to be reported -- and that number is probably going to spike again." 
          The most objective way to estimate the number of hurricane deaths, he said, is to look at how many people died in a normal month in Puerto Rico -- and then compare that to the number of deaths during the month of the hurricane. By that measure, 472 more people died in September 2017 than September 2016, according to Puerto Rico's Demographic Registry. 
          San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has criticized the official death count.
          The Puerto Rican government stands by its count as accurate, based on the factual information it has received to date. Reports from funeral homes and families are simply "rumors," said Mónica Menéndez, deputy director of the Bureau of Forensic Sciences, which examines deaths to determine if they are hurricane-related.
          "There's no reason for us to be hiding numbers," she said. 
          "We work with what we've received and we've analyzed it. And my personnel work hard to do this. ... It hurts us to hear people think we might be playing around with the numbers."

          'Even the cats prayed for Pilar'

          Problems with the Hurricane Maria tally begin as soon as deaths occur. 
          Hospitals and doctors often are the first line of defense. These medical professionals sign death certificates and, in many cases, decide whether the death is sent to the Bureau of Forensic Sciences in San Juan for investigation. A death must be reviewed by that office to be counted. 
          Of the 1,968 total deaths reported to us by funeral homes -- 499 of which they claimed were hurricane-related -- 601 deaths, they said, were sent to the forensics lab for analysis. The Puerto Rican government received a total of 843 deaths for analysis in the first month after the storm, according to Men√©ndez, from the forensics bureau; of those, 377 were visually examined but not autopsied, she said, because the deaths resulted from natural causes.
          Five cases are pending final review, Menéndez said.
          Pilar Guzmán Ríos died more than a week after the storm.
          In Corozal, an interior municipality northwest of Vidal's house fire, Pilar Guzm√°n R√≠os' doctor declared her death natural -- and therefore not subject to forensic review -- without seeing her body. He did so, he told us in an interview, because it was nearly impossible to reach her house by road at the time. And he wanted her grieving family to be able to move on. 
          If her body had been sent to the forensics office, Dr. Francisco Berio said, then it could have been subjected to review for days or weeks. If her death was natural, the family could bury her now. He signed her death certificate on September 29. Cause of death: cardiac arrest. 
          The truth is sadder and more complex. 
          Guzm√°n was a veritable force in her mountaintop community. Her booming voice echoed through the hills. She'd scream "¡Hola, chica!" at complete strangers and run to greet them. Her kisses smacked so hard, according to relatives, they left ears ringing. She kept three parrots on her back patio -- Paulina, Cuqui and Blanqui -- and she taught them to sing "La Cucaracha" and chant the rosary, making them just as boisterous and devout as she was. She learned to drive late in life, but once she had a driver's license, neighbors started calling her the "town taxi" and the "town ambulance" because she gave so many free lifts. 
          Paula Guzm√°n still lives in a shelter in an elementary school.
          The morning of her death, Guzm√°n's sister-in-law, Madeline Berr√≠os, walked into Pilar's home to find her three parrots "completely silent" for the first time she can recall. She knew then what she would find next: Pilar's lifeless body resting on a bed beneath an image of Jesus. 
          Her family saw it coming because of the conditions of the storm. The vibrant, joyful woman suffered from a number of health issues, and she needed an electric-powered machine to help her breathe through the night as well as refrigeration to safely store the insulin she took to manage diabetes. Without either, said Yaitza Nieves, a nurse who also is Pilar's grandniece, and other family members, her lips started turning blue. She became weak and dizzy, unable to hold silverware. She couldn't feed or bathe herself. She started mumbling incoherently. 
          "Even the cats prayed for Pilar," a cousin said. 
          Family members said they called 911 repeatedly and were told an ambulance would arrive to get the woman who normally would have driven a person in this situation to the hospital. 
          "The death of my sister is related to the Hurricane María because we had no power or running water," said Paula Guzmán Ríos, Pilar's sister, who is still living in a shelter without water or power because her roof was torn off and she lives on a hillside vulnerable to landslides. "And, besides that, calls for an ambulance were made -- and the ambulance never arrived."

          'We've run out of tears'

          Her family didn't know it, but if Pilar Guzm√°n's death had been counted as part of the official Hurricane Maria tally, they might have been eligible for federal aid. A program run by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, helps families pay for funeral expenses if they can prove their relative died in the storm. The maximum is $6,000; but the deaths must be certified as hurricane-related in order to qualify, according to a FEMA spokesman. 
          This is just one way the accuracy of the death toll has tangible consequences. 
          Pilar Guzmán Ríos lived in Corozal, where the government says no one died because of the storm.
          If the world has the impression that the death toll in Puerto Rico is low -- as Trump highlighted in his October 3 press conference -- then donations and public assistance are less likely to flow toward Puerto Rico, said Klinenberg, the sociologist at New York University. 
          "One reason it matters is because there's a question of how bad the situation is -- and how many resources are required to help," he said by phone. "Is it still an emergency, or is the emergency over?" When the public hears that relatively few people died then they get the message: 'Everyone relax and the local government can handle this.'
          "If people are dying every week, that sends a very different message," he said. 
          The US government's response to the hurricane in Puerto Rico has been widely panned as slow and inadequate. One month after the storm, about 1 million of the island's residents were without running water, and some 3 million didn't have electricity, according to Puerto Rican government estimates.
          The island had a weak power grid and bad roads before the hurricane hit, and conditions are improving. Nearly two months after the hurricane's landfall, however, progress remains spotty.
          Several relatives of Pilar Guzm√°n, for example, are still living in an elementary school. They collect rainwater from the roof and power a small battery with a car engine. It runs a single light and charges a few cellular phones, which can't get a signal most of the time. 
          José A. Ortiz Guzmán says his mom "would still be with us" if not for the hurricane. "She would still be enjoying life."
          The mayor of their town, Sergio L. Torres Torres, says deaths will continue if conditions don't improve. He disputes the Puerto Rican government's claim no one died here.
          "I know for a fact there are deaths that resulted from the storm," he said. 
          Experts tell us knowing how, where and why people died could help protect the public in future disasters. 
          Meanwhile, families of the dead say their loved ones are being forgotten. 
          When we met relatives of Quint√≠n Vidal, for example, the man who died in the house fire, his granddaughter, Lisandra Llera Vidal, thanked us for coming to talk about a death she thinks the US and Puerto Rican governments want ignored. "You are going to be our eyes and ears to the world," she said. 
          "We've run out of tears."
          The Puerto Rican forensics bureau says his case is pending toxicological review to help determine whether his death was caused by the hurricane.

          'Potentially problematic'

          Anecdotally, two threads ran through the uncounted deaths reported to us by funeral homes: People seem to have died primarily in the aftermath of the hurricane, rather than the storm itself; and many of the victims seem to be older people. 
          We were unable to document any so-called "direct" hurricane deaths -- such as those suffered from blunt trauma or injury -- that occurred the day of the storm and were missed by the government. People who may have suffered deaths indirectly related to the storm -- those who died awaiting medical treatment, who committed suicide in the aftermath of Maria, or who perished due to lack of power and clean water -- were easier to identify.
          Some of the undercounting appears to result from confusion about what should classify as a hurricane death. The Puerto Rican government says indirect deaths do count. On its official list, there are three suicides and a few heart attacks, for example. One official hurricane death occurred after a person fell off the roof while apparently trying to repair a storm-damaged home.
          Not everyone knows which types of deaths should be counted, however. 
          In Arecibo, a coastal municipality west of San Juan, CNN previously reported on the death of Isabel Rivera Gonz√°lez, 80. Her family believes she died awaiting a medical procedure in a hospital that didn't have power because of the storm. The Manat√≠ Medical Center, where she was treated, confirmed the power outage but said it did not contribute to her death. Rivera had been a patient of the hospital before and had a pre-existing heart condition, they said.
          Isabel Rivera Gonz√°lez died at the Manati Medical Center.
          Jos√© S. Rosado, executive director of the medical center, said in October that no deaths from that hospital had been sent to San Juan for forensic analysis. Only blunt trauma, drownings, falls, crime scene victims and bodies that are found dead on arrival, among others, should be sent to the capital for analysis, he said. That appears to conflict with the Puerto Rican government's definition, which includes indirect hurricane deaths such as heart attacks. 
          "They were all natural causes of death," Rosado said.
          The Puerto Rican government distributed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to hospitals on when deaths should be sent to the forensics lab. The Manat√≠ Medical Center maintains it has followed those guidelines in deciding which deaths to send. 
          There are few legal requirements, however, on which deaths must be sent for analysis. 
          Types of deaths that must go to San Juan for review include crime victims, poisonings, suicides, accidental deaths, cremations, nursing home deaths and children's deaths, among others, according to a 2017 law that established new guidelines for forensics. 
          Some states have medical examiners or coroners stationed locally to ensure deaths are counted and identified consistently, said Dr. Gregory J. Davis, a professor and director of the University of Kentucky's Forensic Pathology Consultation Service. In Puerto Rico, only one office classifies these deaths, frequently leaving doctors and hospitals to decide which bodies are analyzed. That is "potentially problematic," Davis said, because some hospitals might have an incentive not to report deaths that occurred during power outages or other dangerous situations. 
          "On the other hand," he said by email, "not reporting could open them up to legal liability."

          'The disaster is about our failure to act'

          Politics also could sway the process. 
          Puerto Rico's Institute of Forensic Sciences was formed in 1985 in response to concerns of political corruption in the investigation process, according to the text of the 1985 law. 
          The institute was initially intended to be an independent research body, beyond the sway of politics. But a 2017 law changed the name of the office to the Bureau of Forensic Sciences and put it under the control of the newly created Public Safety Department. 
          The secretary of public safety is named by Puerto Rico's elected governor. 
          Pesquera, the secretary of public safety, told CNN in October that any insinuation of political meddling in the death toll is "horseshit." "You think I care what the government of the United States thinks about the body count? I don't care," he said. "I could care less what's less embarrassing." He'd rather see more deaths included than excluded, he said. 
          "There is no reason whatsoever for us not to include an accurate count."
          Power service has been slow to return to many parts of Puerto Rico.
          As unsafe conditions continue weeks after the storm, however, said Klinenberg, the NYU professor, more of the blame will fall on the government and its response.
          "That's not natural" to have people dying without electricity weeks after the hurricane, he said. "That's not about the weather. That's a story of political negligence. Of course, it's related to Maria if you can't get to the hospital because the roads are closed down or you have a waterborne illness because the water is dirty. There are all kinds of mental illness problems that come up because of things like this. These are all directly or indirectly related to the disaster. 
          "At this point, the disaster is about our failure to act as much as anything else."

          'The water is coming!' 

          The forensics office maintains many bodies were never sent to them for review. 
          CNN, however, looked into two particular cases of possible hurricane deaths that were sent to the forensics office but have not, as yet, been included on the official death toll of 55. 
          Carlos Robles told CNN his father killed himself because of the shock of Hurricane Maria.
          One was Quintín Vidal, the fire victim who died October 20.
          The forensics office told CNN its pathologists are still conducting a toxicological review and have not decided whether to declare the death as hurricane-related.
          The other was Juan B. Robles Díaz, who hanged himself on September 27.
          The forensics office maintains the suicide was unrelated to the hurricane. Robles had been diagnosed with skin cancer months before. Carlos Robles, his son, however, told us his 70-year-old father had been in relatively good spirits following a round of cancer treatment in the United States. 
          That changed after the hurricane, he said. 
          For several nights after Hurricane Maria wrecked his Can√≥vanas home here in the valley below the mountain rainforest in eastern Puerto Rico, a place where horses roam the streets and some homes still don't have roofs, the elder Robles woke up in the night frantic and screaming. 
          "The water is coming! It's flooding!" he yelled, according to his son. 
          On September 20, the storm brought about 8 feet of water into the family's pink concrete house, which Juan Robles had lived in for decades, according to Carlos Robles. Water rushed through doors and windows and spewed out of the toilet. Panicked, the family smashed a window in a bedroom in the back of the house to escape. Thirteen of them waded through a rush of stomach-deep water and cut through a fence to seek higher ground. 
          "I thought we were going to drown," said Carlos Robles, 47. 
          Carlos Robles said the family had to break a window and wade through 8 feet of rushing water to escape their home.
          Juan Robles survived that day, but the man who used to sit on his porch teasing the runners who passed by, and who never shied away from a fight, never was the same. 
          After Hurricane Maria, he awoke with night terrors, fearing another hurricane loomed, Carlos Robles said. He ran down the street yelling at the top of his lungs. The house was all but unlivable, but Juan Robles insisted on staying there to protect it. During the day, he positioned a couch by the window so that he could watch for the moment the water would return, his son said.
          Seven days after the storm, Juan Robles hanged himself in the bedroom closet. 
          His 18-year-old grandson found him there, Carlos Robles said. 
          Workers at the funeral home that identified Juan Robles's death to us as potentially hurricane-related find it astounding that Puerto Rico would not include his death in its tally. 
          "How is it possible that this man is not on that list?" said Miriam V√©lez de Nieves, who works at the Frankie Memorial Funeral Home in R√≠o Grande. "I don't know how to explain it." 
          Carlos Robles believes his father's death was a consequence of Hurricane Maria, too. 
          The Robles home is all but unlivable. Carlos Robles is staying with relatives.
          He told CNN that investigators from the forensics office interviewed him after he identified the body. That interview lasted 30 minutes, he said, and included no questions about the hurricane. Some of the context came up, he said, but no one asked about it directly.
          A forensic investigator told us interviews typically last closer to 1 hour and 45 minutes. 
          Half-hour interviews are "highly unusual," the investigator said.
          The forensics office said there is no mandated time frame for a forensic interview. The office did not respond to repeat requests for autopsy reports and related documentation. 
          Pesquera did say his office is open to adding to the official death count, however. 
          In response to CNN's questions about 71-year-old José Rafael Sánchez Román, whose family says he died of a heart attack or stroke during the storm's impact, Pesquera told us his office was unaware of the case but would investigate further. If the medical crisis was caused by the shock of the storm, and help wasn't available, such a death could be counted, he said.
          Pesquera told CNN there's no deadline for a death to be reviewed as part of the Hurricane Maria death toll. Forensics examinations could be reopened even after a person had been buried, he said. 
          The Puerto Rican government helped set up a phone line to collect tips from funeral homes about hurricane-related deaths and went into the field to investigate reports, said Menéndez, the deputy director of the Bureau of Forensic Sciences. "We went to cemeteries, we went to funeral homes, and it was not as they said," she told CNN. "We did do that part and we did work together. The thing is, once again, it's rumors. So, how far do we keep on going? ... That's not my responsibility to go out and verify (reports of hurricane-related deaths), but we took it upon ourselves to verify these rumors."
          In the future, Pesquera said, death certificates in Puerto Rico should be updated so that there is a clear place for doctors to mark whether or not a death may have been related to a storm or other natural disaster. 

          'More people are going to die' 

          A Bible is one of few artifacts left in Juan Robles' home.
          Our last stop in Puerto Rico was to meet with Quintín Vidal's family in Cayey.
          There, on November 15, a dozen family members sat in folding chairs in his granddaughter's living room, which is one of the few homes in the area with power service. 
          Two public officials in the municipality say Vidal's death is a sign of federal and Puerto Rican government incompetence. If power service had been restored more quickly, they said, he wouldn't have died in the October 20 fire. It's far too easy to dismiss the deaths of older people, assuming they would die soon anyway, said Jes√ļs Mart√≠nez, Cayey's director of emergency management. Doing so ignores the urgency of the humanitarian crisis. 
          "More people are going to die if we continue to be off the grid," he said.
          The Puerto Rican and federal governments are creating the false impression that the emergency is over, said Cayey Mayor Rolando Ortiz. "They just want to have a good story," he said, "to make things look positive for them." The reality, he said, is deaths continue -- and they're largely unacknowledged or they're slow to be reported by Puerto Rico. 
          Neighbors of Quintín Vidal Rolón read Bible verses in his memory on November 15.
          On a table in the family's home were several framed photographs of Vidal. In one, taken in May this year, he's shown in his characteristic white hat, blue shirt and khakis -- always dapper -- helping to pave the sidewalk in front of the home where the family had gathered to remember him. The cowboy hat was on the table, too. As well as an image of that 1962 truck. 
          The neighbor who called firefighters to the scene of the house fire that killed Vidal led the group in the recitation of the rosary, a Catholic tradition meant, in this case, to help a person pass from their earthly life into the peace and tranquility of heaven. The Hail Mary prayer is repeated 50 times, along with two other prayers repeated five times each. 
          "Santa María, Madre de Dios..."
          Before the prayers, the family had spoken to us about Vidal's death. They were horrified such a gentle and hardworking man died in such a violent and painful way.
          And they fear that power outages continue to put their neighbors at risk.
          "... ruega por nosotros pecadores.
          Ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte." 
          Pray for us sinners. 
          Now and at the hour of our death.
          Suddenly, during the recitations, darkness fell over the room. 
          The power had gone out, revealing three tiny candles on the table next to Vidal's signature hat.
          Flames filled the room with speckled light. 

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