- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Victim group seeks independent review of clergy abuse claims

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A group of clergy sexual abuse victims called Tuesday for an independent commission to investigate molestation accusations that are sealed as part of a bankruptcy case involving the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The move comes a day after church lawyers formalized a $21 million settlement between nearly 400 abuse victims and the archdiocese. It advances a position the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has held for years: that church officials shouldn’t be the first authorities to review clergy abuse reports.

Many of the abuse allegations have been made public as part of the case, but SNAP says outside investigators should have access to all the complaints to ensure that there aren’t children who are still at risk.

Church officials, meanwhile, have maintained that claims have been properly and transparently investigated and that they’ve worked to make sure children are safe.

In the settlement filing, the church outlines the steps it has taken, including conducting annual outside audits, which have resulted in “exemplary reports from the independent auditors.” It also says that every report of clerical sexual abuse of a minor, provided the accused cleric is still alive, is handed over to prosecutors.

Peter Isely, Midwest director of SNAP, has acknowledged that many abuse survivors want to move on from the case and will accept the deal, even though it includes some of the smallest per-victim payments of any recent clergy abuse settlements.

His group stopped short of criticizing or splitting with those who reached the settlement agreement that would allow the cases to be sealed. However, Isely called for all of the case files to be opened for review.


Army awards tactical vehicle contract to Wisconsin firm

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corp. won a major contract Tuesday to build a new combat vehicle to replace a large share of the U.S. military’s Humvee troop carriers.

The Department of Defense awarded the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract to Oshkosh Defense, one of three firms that were finalists for the work. The $6.7 billion contract is expected to support thousands of jobs.

The Army and Marine Corps plan to buy as many as 55,000 JLTVs by 2040. Nearly 49,100 would be built for the Army with 5,500 going to the Marines. The vehicle is designed to provide more protection against roadside bombs and mines than Humvees without being as big as another military vehicle produced by Oshkosh, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP.

Oshkosh Defense beat out Maryland-based Lockheed Martin and Indiana-based AM General for the contract. Pentagon officials declined during a briefing for reporters to say why they chose Oshkosh over its competitors.

Scott Davis, the Army’s executive officer for the program, said the big winners are the soldiers and Marines who will gain a vehicle that offers a better balance of protection, payload and performance.

“Our JLTV has been extensively tested and is proven to provide the ballistic protection of a light tank, the underbody protection of an MRAP-class vehicle, and the off-road mobility of a Baja racer,” John Urias, president of Oshkosh Defense and a retired Army major general, said in a statement.

Lockheed had said it would build the vehicle at its Camden facility in Arkansas, and state lawmakers there dangled an $87 million incentive package. It’s not clear whether Wisconsin or Indiana offered any incentives, but union workers at Oshkosh in 2013 agreed to a contract extension so that the company could nail down its labor costs for the project.


BP restarts part of Indiana oil refinery after repairs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A large Indiana oil refinery whose unplanned shutdown for repairs earlier this month caused gasoline prices in the Great Lakes region to spike restarted Tuesday, leading experts to predict a quick drop in prices.

BP issued a news release Tuesday saying it has safely restarted a large crude distillation unit at its refinery in Whiting, 15 miles southeast of Chicago. The unit had been shut down since Aug. 8 for unscheduled repair work. Gas prices were about $2.384 on Aug. 9.

“Retail prices across the Midwest had been moving lower already for the past seven days or so after that issue first caused a spike. So the recent drop in prices may accelerate in the days ahead and in the next two to three weeks we could see prices drop some 20 to 50 cents,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst.

AAA Hoosier Motor Club reports gas prices hit a high of $2.976 in Indiana for self-serve regular unleaded on Aug. 16 in Indiana. Gas prices had been $2.36 on Aug. 11 and jumped nearly 53 cents in three days. The average price in Indiana on Tuesday was $2.74.

“It should mean gas prices should continue to go down, possibly even at a faster rate than they have been for the last few days,” said Greg Seiter, AAA Hoosier Motor Club spokesman. “Understanding the crude oil prices are very low and remaining consistently low, this should bode well for drivers throughout the Great Lakes region.”

DeHaan said gas prices began dropping last week amid reports that the refinery was close to getting back on line. He also said prices tend to drop down after a big spike.

“As we got more information over time about BP the markets kind of relaxed,” he said.


Fewer abortions performed in Wisconsin in 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A new state report says the number of abortions performed in Wisconsin dropped 10 percent last year.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released its annual report on induced abortions Tuesday. The report finds the number of abortions that occurred in the state fell from 6,462 in 2013 to 5,800 last year.

It was the sixth consecutive year that abortions had declined in Wisconsin.

According to the report, the number of abortions performed in the state on Wisconsin residents fell 10 percent, to 5,640 last year. Women in the age group 20-24 accounted for the largest proportion of reported abortions for Wisconsin residents last year - 34 percent.

Of the Wisconsin residents, 196 were minors.

Seventy-seven percent of Wisconsin residents’ abortions were obtained by women who had never been married.

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