Top 5 Live-WURD Wednesday September 23
1. Pope Francis arrives in US, faces a polarized country
Pope Francis arrived yesterday on his first visit to the United States, bringing his “church of the poor” to the world’s wealthiest superpower and a country polarized over issues closest to his heart: immigration, social injustice and economic inequality.
According a rare honor to the pontiff, President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters welcomed Francis on the red-carpeted tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base after the pope’s chartered plane touched down from Cuba. Presidents usually make important visitors come to them at the White House.
The 78-year-old pontiff was met by a military honor guard, schoolchildren, politicians, and Roman Catholic clergymen. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife were there, as well.
The Argentine known as the “slum pope” for ministering to the downtrodden in his native Buenos Aires is expected to urge America to take better care of the environment and the poor and return to its founding ideals of religious liberty and open arms toward immigrants.
2. Kane to release more names in porn scandal
There will be more porn – and lots of it.
As Pennsylvania Attorney Kathleen Kane waits for her law license suspension to take effect, her spokesman said Tuesday the office is preparing to release hundreds of sexually explicit emails shared by state officials and employees on government time and computers.
Kane first signaled her intention to do so just hours after the Supreme Court voted to suspend her license while she faces criminal charges. On Tuesday, her spokesman Chuck Ardo said Kane intends to make the emails public with the names of all senders and recipients included – a departure from how she handled the release of a smaller sample of the X-rated material last year.
He didn’t say when it would occur, but said the shift was due to the volume of requests Kane had received for the information under the state’s Right-to-Know law.
3. Operative in Phila. sting case settles with feds
Tyron Ali, the undercover operative at the heart of the “sting” that caught Philadelphia Democratic legislators pocketing cash, will repay $63,000 to resolve allegations he defrauded a program to feed the poor.
In 2009, state prosecutors charged him with 2,088 criminal counts, alleging he had siphoned $430,000 from a federally-funded program to feed impoverished children and seniors.
But U.S. Attorney Peter Smith said Tuesday the initial claim was overblown. “It appears that the actual loss must have been much less than the $430,000,” he said.
Given the loss of records, Smith said, prosecutors had to settle for a figure they concluded they could prove. His assessment appeared to support the opinion of some state prosecutors that the original charges against Ali had been excessive.
4. Rep. Chaka Fattah wins favorable ruling in advance of his corruption trial
Congressman Chaka Fattah can continue to publicly defend his record in Congress and question the motives of prosecutors as he prepares for a May trial on corruption charges, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Government lawyers had argued that Fattah’s recent statements were an attempt to taint the jury pool. They also suggested he intended to present a defense that ignored the facts of his case.
U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III, however, called such concerns premature in an opinion, but left open the possibility of revisiting the issue.
“The trial is not scheduled to begin until May 2, 2016,” he wrote. “We are a long way from that day. It is not now possible to know what, if any, specific evidence the defendants will seek to introduce or what arguments they will make.”
Fattah stands accused of accepting bribes and raiding his campaign fund, charities he founded and federal grants for money to pay off debts and enrich his family and inner circle.
5. World Meeting of Families bears $12 million papal visit cost. Is it worth it?
Taxpayers, rest easy. Mayor Nutter reiterated Tuesday that any city money spends on the papal events this weekend, estimated at $12 million, will come back.
There’s a signed contract to guarantee it.
“We’re getting reimbursed,” Nutter said. “It’s all worked out in the contract. We’re not getting extra money; we’re getting compensated for our actual costs and the number. . .is an estimate based on past experience and a variety of other factors. We won’t actually know true costs until after the event and a significant amount of analysis and calculation of personnel and equipment is done.”
A contract signed Friday between the city and the nonprofit organization, the World Meeting of Families is backdated Sept. 10 and states that the nonprofit was to provide the city with a security deposit of $2.5 million on Sept. 14.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon