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Catholic Church Received Up to $3.5 Billion in COVID Aid as Clergy Sex Abuse Costs Pile Up

The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used its clout to amass anywhere between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion in taxpayer-funded virus aid for small churches as clergy sex abuse costs mount.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used its lobbying clout to amass anywhere between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion in taxpayer-funded coronavirus aid for small churches, with millions being funneled toward dioceses that have paid massive settlements and filed for bankruptcy due to clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.

On Monday, the U.S. Small Business Administration released the names of the hundreds of thousands of companies that were bailed out under the $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program, the emergency loan program established to keep small businesses afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an analysis of the agency’s data, The Associated Press (AP) found that at least 3,500 forgivable loans were granted to Catholic dioceses, parishes, school, nonprofits, and other ministries – making the Catholic Church one of the major winners of the pandemic relief program.

At a minimum, the church received $1.4 billion in aid, but the church could have received as much as $3.5 billion. The true figure, however, could be far higher due to the amount of loans that were not accounted for in the list released Monday.

Among those receiving aid was the Archdiocese of New York, which received 15 loans totaling at least $28 million for its top executive offices alone.

In Orange County, California, diocesan officials received four loans worth at least $3 million. The diocese recently opened a lavish glass cathedral believed to have cost over $70 million.

Another loan of at least $20 million was given to a West Virginia diocese where the church found last year that then-Bishop Michael Bransfield had been embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in church funds and sexually harassing young priests.

While the pandemic and accompanying social distancing and stay-at-home orders impacted the revenue of religious institutions across the United States, scores of dioceses have also suffered financially following the exposure of patterns of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church.

Following the tidal wave of scandal that struck the church in 2018, the church faced a tripling of sexual abuse reports in the year ending June 2019 that totaled 4,500 across the U.S. In the meantime, Catholic entities paid out $282 million, mostly in settlements, legal fees, and support for clergy who engaged in the sexual crimes.

Recipients of the coronavirus aid include roughly 40 dioceses that have been spilling out hundreds of millions in payments to victims through compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings. AP found that these dioceses received at least $200 million, although the true number is believed to be higher.

However, the church’s Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference (DFMC) said in May that 9,000 Catholic entities have received loans. According to the DFMC, some 13,000 out of the total 17,000 churches applied for the small business loans.

The Catholic Church was certainly not the only major religious group or entity to receive taxpayer-funded pandemic aid under program, which also went toward evangelical mega-churches and televangelists. Evangelical advisers to President Donald Trump like White House spiritual czar Paula White-Cain were also rewarded loans.

While religious organizations are typically exempt from Small Business Administration loans, the Trump administration has been especially close to the Religious Right and allowed groups to exploit a new loophole following heavy lobbying.

“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” said University of Virginia law professor Micah Schwartzman, who specializes in constitutional issues surrounding religion. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.”

The Paycheck Protection Program has generated controversy over the past weeks as it has been revealed that large companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, among others, have received aid through the program. Controversially, aid has also gone toward companies backed by lawmakers and celebrities like Dr. Phil, and groups described as hate groups including anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ organizations.

However, the new revelations about the scale of money handed to the Catholic Church raises fresh questions about the extent to which the wall separating church and state under the First Amendment has eroded under the Trump administration, especially as religious groups that don’t pay taxes are allowed to dip into public funds.

Corruption

Scientists Horrified as Over 27,000 Leaking Barrels of Toxic DDT Discovered on Seafloor Near LA

Elias Marat

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Over 27,000 barrels of the toxic insecticide DDT have been found so far on the seafloor about 12 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, in what could be one of the greatest examples of industrial pollution uncovered in recent memory.

The barrels have been leaking, and researchers fear that there could be up to a few hundred thousand barrels of DDT waste in total. Over 100,000 total objects have been found in the area by researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The barrels cover an area roughly spanning double the size of Manhattan and lie off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, which is home to dozens of endemic species that exist nowhere else in the world.

DDT waste has been linked to cancer and widespread disease among humans as well as mass die-off events in the natural world. It is likely that the vast trove of illegally dumped DDT could be linked to the widespread cancer faced by sea lions along the West Coast.

“Unfortunately, the basin offshore Los Angeles has been a dumping ground for industrial waste for several decades, beginning in the 1930s. We found an extensive debris field in the wide area survey,” said Eric Terrill, chief scientist of the expedition and director of the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in a statement.

Los Angeles Times reports that shipping logs from a disposal company implicate Montrose Chemical Corp. of California, a company that produced DDT, in likely dumping some 2,000 barrels of DDT-laced sludge each month from 1947 to 1961 into a designated dumpsite.

Additionally, logs from other entities show that several other industrial concerns in Southern California used the basin as a dumping ground until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act was enacted.

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Corruption

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s “Wingman” Wrote Letter Admitting Both Men Paid for Sex With Teen

Elias Marat

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Joel Greenberg, the former Florida county tax collector and longtime “wingman” of embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz, admitted in a letter that both he and the disgraced GOP congressman paid for sex with a number of women – including a minor.

The confession letter was written during the waning day of the Trump presidency, long before the scandalous conduct of the Florida congressman gripped national headlines, in a bid to win a pardon from President Donald Trump, reports the Daily Beast.

In the letter, which was handwritten, Greenberg reveals that both he and Gaetz allegedly were “involved in sexual activities” with a girl who was 17 at the time.

“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote in reference to the minor.

Continuing, he noted that various forms of payment were made to the teen to secure sexual favors.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18,” Greenberg wrote.

“I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

Greenberg alleges that the teen had deceived the pair over her age, and that he and Gaetz were under the false impression that she was 19 when they paid her for sex.

“There was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday,” he claimed.

The letter was written after notorious Trump ally and “fixer” Roger Stone was asked for a pardon by Greenberg.

Gaetz, 38, has been facing an investigation over whether he paid a 17-year-old for sex and facilitated her travel, which would violate sex trafficking laws.

It is also believed that the investigation encompasses the possibility that the congressman paid a number of women recruited online for sex.

Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex or having sex with a 17-year-old, and he hasn’t yet been changed.

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Corruption

Video Shows Officers Stop Fellow Cop Who Was Punching Handcuffed Woman

Elias Marat

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The conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd has drawn mixed reactions from law enforcement officers across the country. While many police departments and associations have responded positively, some officers have also reacted with quiet resentment – and even the fear that they, too, may one day be held accountable for excessive use of force.

This may have also been the case in an altercation caught on video where two police officers in Orange County, California, could be seen stepping in and preventing a fellow officer from continuing to punch a handcuffed woman during an arrest.

In dramatic video from Wednesday captured via mobile phone in Westminster, the handcuffed woman – Ciomara Garcia, 34 – can be seen between two officers sitting on the curb. As one officer stands up, the woman does too before an officer pushes her down to the ground. The woman then attempts to kick the officer in the crotch before the officer begins punching her.

The two other officers then quickly intervene to restrain the officer and shove him away, preventing him from further beating Garcia as neighbors reminded the police in Spanish that they are filming the arrest.

The officers were initially dispatched to the neighborhood by a call over an alleged assault with battery claiming Garcia assaulted an Asian woman who was trying to fetch her dog running loose in the street.

A witness, however, told KTTV that Garcia was walking her dog when a bicyclist approached closely, causing Garcia to fear that her dog would be harmed. An altercation between the residents soon unfolded. Five minutes later, the bicyclist returned with the officers, alleging that Garcia struck her. The witness claims no such attack occurred.

Garcia has been booked into Orange County Jail on a bench warrant, while the officer was promptly placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

One wonders whether some officers are changing tack in their relations with the community, and with the so-called “bad apples” in their own ranks, following Chauvin’s conviction on all counts for the murder of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, the three other former officers who took part in last May’s fatal arrest – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – could face serious jail time for aiding and abetting Chauvin in the slaying of the Floyd.

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