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Downers Grove’s public high school district is chucking its school bus provider after years of poor service and its two feeder districts are poised to follow suit.

The Community High School District 99 school board recently approved a new three-year contract with First Student, Inc. to provide busing to District 99 until summer 2017. The agreement will sever ties with Westway Coach, which had been operating buses in the district since fall of 2011.

District 99, Grade School District 58 and Woodridge School District 68 have a joint contract with Westway, which expires in June. District 58 and 68 administrators are expected to ask their boards to approve their portions of the new busing agreement on April 28. All three districts worked with First Student just prior to contracting with Westway.

Only First Student and Westway submitted bids. The new deal with First Student is $5.75 million for the next three school years, with the option to extend for two additional years. The board approved the contract even though it is about $41,000 more than the bid submitted by Westway. The joint contract could increase District 99 costs by about $400,000, District 99 Controller Mark Staehlin said.

Staehlin urged the board to accept the new contract, saying officials were fed up with the continual problem of buses not running on time.

“It’s never been this bad,” Staehlin said at the April 21 board meeting. “We have parents who are very tired of poor bus service. We’ve had administrators who have devoted full days to dealing with parents that are irate about busing.”

The move comes hastily after Westway’s parent company unexpectedly opted out of contract negotiations in March. Officials with Cook-Illinois Corporation suggested the district re-bid its busing contract, saying that company could not agree to terms not to raise driver’s wages by more than 1.7 percent in the 2014-2015 school year.

COO John Benish Jr. said in a letter to Staehlin the company has struggled to provide enough drivers to run the routes stipulated in the contract and that boosting wages would help rectify that shortage.

“The current rates are insufficient to attract and retain new drivers, and with a proposed increase which barely covers inflation, we will need to respectfully decline to negotiate for an extension,” Benish wrote March 13.

Lorie Pilster, District 58′s director of business services, agreed that there is a driver shortage but said the 1.7 percent maximum increase is tied to the consumer price index and is an agreed-upon stipulation in the busing contract.

“That’s what our revenue is based on, that’s what our property taxes are based on,” Pilster said. “So if we’re bringing in 1.7 percent we can’t have a busing contract for 4 percent. That takes money away from our education fund, and that’s where we need it the most.”

Benish could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Westway had problems since the beginning of the joint contract among the three districts. During the first days of the 2011-2012 school year, parents complained that buses were picking up and dropping off children sometimes more than an hour late, or failed to pick up students at all. Benish later issued a formal apology. Officials from all corners all blamed the problems on staffing.

The $10.8 million, three-year deal was inked in an effort to save all the districts hundreds of thousands of dollars. Officials said operations improved in 2011 and 2012 after that rough start, but Staehlin said service regressed again during the current school year.

“We knew there were shortages, but we didn’t know how bad the shortages were until we got into the winter,” Staehlin said. “There’s some chronic routes that for some kids, some groups that just were not dependable for them. It’s not showing up when they need it to be there.”

Kevin Wegner, District 68 assistant superintendent for business, said problems were occurring every week.

“Because they were understaffed, we had substitute drivers every day that were not familiar with those routes,” Wegner said. “They would make wrong turns and that led to them being late. We have students on buses calling parents because they’re nervous that they’re going to be late for school and they’re going to be in trouble.”

Staehlin added that the bid needed to be brought before the board to ensure proper services are in place by fall.

“We need to approve this contract so they can mobilize,” Staehlin said.

Pilster said they feel confident that First Student is equipped to step in despite the time crunch.

“First Student is a national company so their resources to pull drivers is greater,” Pilster said. “There is a driver shortage, there is no doubt. They just have a larger pool. If they can’t find anyone in our area, they can go north. They can go out of state.”

cdrhodes@tribune.com | Twitter: @rhodes_dawn

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • PoliticNEWS.GNOM.ES are backing away from Cliven Bundy’s comments about blacks, welfare and slaves
  • Bundy, Ted Nugent and Phil Robertson have all echoed similarly racially insensitive sentiments
  • Experts on race and politics say such comments speak to an active fringe element in America
  • PoliticNEWS.GNOM.ES must tread carefully, experts say, in aligning themselves with such cause célèbres

Washington (CNN) — Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy’s remarks about whether the “Negro” fared better under slavery represents the latest in a series of incendiary racial comments from a new crop of folk heroes embraced in some conservative circles.

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy said to reporters, as first reported by the New York Times.

“And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom,” he was quoted as saying.

PoliticNEWS.GNOM.ES like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 presidential GOP contender, Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and other conservatives scrambled to distance themselves from Bundy’s comments.

“His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” Paul said in a statement.

But experts on race and politics say Bundy’s comments, much like those of rocker Ted Nugent, who created a firestorm when he called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel,” also speak to complicated and deeply fraught cultural tensions running beneath the surface in some segments of America.

“We are looking at some of the ‘last white men standing,’” Mark Anthony Neal, an African-American studies professor at Duke University said of demographic shifts that, according to the most recent U.S. Census figures, show minorities represent more than half the nation’s population.

“His comments represent that and people rally around him because of this idea that white men are under siege. They are calling out the political establishment to stand by them,” he said.

Over the next several generations, political experts say minority voters will become more of a power base in the Deep South, the Southwest and extend their political influence to California.

During the 2012 presidential election, Republicans faced huge losses among minorities and women, prompting the GOP to reexamine outreach to those groups.

But Bundy’s comments — much like those of Nugent and Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson, who shared during an interview with GQ last year pastoral recollections of blacks “singing and happy” as he and his family worked alongside them in Louisiana cotton fields — speak to a certain politically-active fringe element, political experts say.

Among those who support views of limited government, there is often a “higher than average endorsement of views that could be seen as racial resentment,” said Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University.

“What this reflects is that there are groups of people who have not been accepted by politically correct circles and have never learned to frame their comments in a palatable fashion. They take pride in that,” Gillespie said. “The articulation of their views is somewhat fringe, but the underlying attitude is not. They are a minority viewpoint, but they are a large minority.”

And that’s put politicNEWS.GNOM.ES who have previously embraced men like Bundy, Nugent and Robertson as the cause célèbre in an awkward position.

For instance, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, took heat from some quarters when Nugent appeared at a campaign event for him this year. Abbott’s campaign said it did not endorse Nugent’s comments.

Other Republicans viewed as potential presidential candidates, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and the state’s governor, Rick Perry, also distanced themselves from Nugent’s remarks. Paul said an apology was in order, which Nugent eventually offered.

The Democratic National Committee pounced on Bundy’s comments as what it sees as evidence the right isn’t right when it comes to race relations.

“If you ever want to be taken seriously for your outreach efforts, you might want to start by not defending racists,” Mo Elleithee, the DNC’s communications director said in a statement.

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Property development under construction near Madrid

A property development under construction near Madrid: Spain’s financial industry has struggled to recover from the 2008 housing crash. Photograph: Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images

Two big lenders have heralded the start of a turnaround in the Spanish banking sector after the ravages of the financial crisis, with Caixabank and Sabadell reporting fewer bad debts in the first quarter of 2014.

Spain‘s financial industry has struggled to recover from a 2008 housing crash that lumbered its banks with huge unpaid property loans and sparked a national economic downturn, leaving some lenders so short of capital that the state had to bail them out with billions of euros to help them survive.

The country exited recession in the second half of last year – the Bank of Spain expects 1.2% GDP growth this year – but Thursday’s loan data was among the clearest signs yet that the turnaround is feeding through to banks and borrowers.

“We do believe this marks a shift in the trend,” Sabadell’s chief financial officer, Tomas Varela, told a news conference.

Juan María Nin, Caixabank’s chief executive, added: “This change in the trend is coupled with a Spanish recovery and it’s good news.”

Analysts were quick to suggest that Caixabank and Sabadell’s story was likely to be echoed elsewhere. The country’s biggest banks, Santander and BBVA, which have big operations overseas but were also hit by losses at home, report first-quarter results next week, as do Banco Popular and part-nationalised Bankia.

“At peers, we are likely to see stabilising asset quality,” said Stefan Nedialkov, banking analyst at Citi, in a note.

Caixabank and Sabadell, both from the northern region of Catalonia, said bad loans as a percentage of total credit dropped at the end of March compared with the end of December.

Sabadell’s bad-debt ratio fell slightly from 13.6% to 13.5% in the period, while Caixabank’s ratio fell from 11.7% to 11.4% – the first drop since the end of 2006. Caixabank’s chief executive said bad debts were falling as borrower defaults tailed off, but also as the bank writes off soured loans.

The two banks did not need state aid during Spain’s crisis, although their earnings were gutted by hefty provisions against soured debts two years ago. Spain had to ask for €41.3bn (£34bn) in aid to prop up its banks in 2012.

After several years of deep government spending cuts, the Bank of Spain said on Thursday it expects GDP to have grown 0.4% in the first three months of 2014, which would be the fastest quarterly rate of growth in six years.

But many Spaniards still complain the improvement is slow to feed through to the real economy, as unemployment remains stubbornly high and wage inequality rises quickly. More than one in four of the workforce is out of a job.

That is still a threat to banks, and many predict their overall stock of loans will fall again this year as some consumers and businesses try to whittle down debts.

Lenders say, however, that appetite for credit is picking up again among some companies – those geared towards exports, for instance. They are also hoping to lend more to small firms this year to help turn around their core revenues – banks typically make more from lending to companies than on mortgages.

“There’s a price war over credit at the moment,” Caixabank’s Nin said.

The Barcelona-based bank’s net interest income (NII), or earnings on loans minus deposit costs, was broadly flat at €993m, undershooting forecasts, which some analysts attributed to a fall in overall credit.

Sabadell’s first-quarter net profit jumped 59% from a year ago to €81.2m. Caixabank’s quarterly net income fell by more than half to €152m, compared to a year ago when it was helped by one-off gains from acquisition.

Fewer bad loans will eventually allow banks to significantly cut the funds they must put aside in capital to cover any future losses, which has also been eating into profits.

For now, however, some continue to bolster these reserves before the European Central Bank takes over as the eurozone banking supervisor in November and ahead of Europe-wide health checks in the coming months.

Sabadell said it had used most of its first quarter bond-trading gains towards provisions, which more than tripled to €1.1bn euros compared to a year ago.

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Sascha Radetsky’s performance as Franz in the American Ballet Theater’s production of “Coppélia” at the Metropolitan Opera House on July 3 will be his farewell to the troupe, the company announced on Thursday. Mr. Radetsky, 37, joined the American Ballet Theater as an apprentice in 1995, became a member of its corps de ballet the following year, and has been a soloist since 2003.

Among his roles were leads in the company’s productions of “Symphony in C,” “The Brahms-Haydn Variations,” “Thaïs Pas de Deux,” “In the Upper Room,” “Dark Elegies” and “Offenbach in the Underworld.” He created roles in “Aftereffect,” “From Here on Out,” “Glow-Stop,” “Gong,” “Troika” and “Thirteen Diversions.”

Mr. Radetsky said, though a spokeswoman, that he planned to continue dancing, both as a guest soloist and as part of his role in the Starz television series, “Flesh and Bone,” which will begin airing in 2015. He will also do some specialized coaching: Mr. Radetsky and his wife, Stella Abrera (who is a soloist with the company as well) have become repetiteurs-in-training with the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. The Trust oversees performances of the Tudor ballets by sending people trained in Tudor’s choreography to stage and coach the works whenever dance companies anywhere (including the American Ballet Theater) present them.

The health care ads being run by Americans for Prosperity — one of the many frantically waving arms of the Koch brothers — are a gift to fact checkers everywhere. Because they deliberately twist the truth to persuade people to “stop supporting Obamacare,” they have become a machine for producing “Pinocchios,” the mendacity rating system used by Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post.

In today’s installment, Mr. Kessler gave two Pinocchios (out of four) to three A.F.P. ads that went up this week. He dinged the ad below for falsely claiming that health insurance premiums are up by 90 percent in New Hampshire.



And he criticized this series of ads for suggesting that hundreds of thousands of people in Michigan and Colorado lost their insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, without pointing out that many of those policies were later extended or renewed.

Those Pinocchios are fine as far as they go. But since this is an editorial-page blog, we can go a little further than Mr. Kessler and toss many more long noses at the Koch ads. (Does this dial go to 11?)

What’s truly erroneous about all these ads (the full series of which is available on the A.F.P. website, if you have the fortitude) isn’t so much what they say as what they never say. They give viewers the impression that all the pre-existing problems with the health insurance system are the fault of Mr. Obama’s law, never bothering to explain how bad things have been for decades.

For example, it’s true that health insurance premiums will be going up for some people under the new system, in most cases because they will have better coverage. But premiums for private insurance have been rapidly escalating for years, far beyond inflation. Since 2003, they went up by 80 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly three times as fast as wages and inflation. And the ads never mention the millions who will now get insurance coverage for free or extremely low cost because of the program’s subsidies. Those people aren’t the Kochs’ intended audience.

Similarly, insurance companies used to routinely cancel individual policies, sometimes because the policy holders got sick, or because the companies decided not to do business in a state or region anymore. They can’t do that now. But the ads never mention that, instead falsely suggesting that vast numbers of ordinary people have been left without coverage because of the law.

As Politico reported yesterday, a new study says that millions of the so-called “cancelled” policies under the Affordable Care Act (which were actually policy upgrades) would have been cancelled anyway by the policyholders. Most people who have individual policies don’t keep them for longer than a year, either because they join a new employer’s plan or change their own policies.

That’s the kind of context you will never get in a Koch ad, whether or not the texts of the ads are literally correct. The billionaires behind this effort are on a crusade to end Democratic control of the Senate and ultimately to discredit the idea that government can improve people’s lives through a social program. Context just gets in their way.

In 1985, T. Boone Pickens, a force in the burgeoning business of hostile takeovers, appeared on the cover of Time magazine. He was fresh off an audacious tender offer for Gulf Oil, and the cover illustration showed him playing poker with oil derricks printed on the cards.

He was identified with two potent words: “Corporate Raider.”

Almost three decades later, Mr. Pickens has objected to that designation. In the pages of Time magazine.

Mr. Pickens is the author of a blurb about a fellow investor, Carl C. Icahn, that appears among a list of 100 influential people in the latest issue of Time. While discussing his friend, Mr. Pickens takes the opportunity to talk about himself:

Carl Icahn and I have been friends for decades. We’ve been called a lot of names over the years. “Corporate raider.” “Asset stripper.” “Bloodsucking ghoul.” All tough stuff. All inaccurate.

These days, financiers who buy stakes in companies and then forcefully push for change are known by the more polite term “activist investor.” They include billionaire hedge fund managers like William A. Ackman and Daniel S. Loeb.

As the “activist” name suggests, these investors tend to argue that their work is good for the companies they go after. Mr. Pickens has this to say about Mr. Icahn:

Sure, Carl is about as smooth as a stucco bathtub. But he is the best thing going for corporate America. Call Carl what you want, but recognize him for what he is: a shareholder activist. And an effective one at that.

Mr. Icahn, for his part, appeared on the cover of Time last December. The headline was a little different: “Master of the Universe.”

SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 24, 2014 Parents of autistic children scored a major victory in a California Court of Appeal decision issued late yesterday, which now bars state regulators and health insurers from discriminating against children on the basis of whether treatment providers hold state licenses.  The state regulator’s discriminatory policy led to long delays, and often denials, of treatment for autistic children.

Download the decision here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/courtofappealdecision.pdf

The lawsuit, filed in 2009 by the non-profit Consumer Watchdog and Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, was also the catalyst for a landmark state autism law, SB 946, authored by Senate President Darrell Steinberg in 2011.

The treatment at issue, known as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), is the most effective treatment for autistic children, as yesterday’s decision acknowledged.

Responding to concerns raised in the lawsuit, the California Legislature agreed with Consumer Watchdog and Strumwasser & Woocher LLP by passing SB 946, which clarified that health insurers must pay for ABA provided by individuals certified by a national board, even if they do not hold a state license.  However, the legislation did not cover health plans for public employees enrolled in CalPERS and other state-sponsored programs.

Yesterday’s California Court of Appeal decision now also bars the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) from allowing health insurers to deny treatment for autistic children of government employees, including police officers, firefighters, and school teachers, on the basis that such treatment can only be administered through state-licensed providers.  As Consumer Watchdog and Strumwasser & Woocher LLP pointed out in the lawsuit, no state license currently exists for ABA therapists.

“Californians now finally have a definitive statement from the court that state regulators cannot allow health insurers to discriminate against autistic children merely because treatment providers do not possess a state license,” said Fredric D. Woocher of Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, lead attorney in the case.  ”Families of firefighters, school employees and others covered by CalPERS-sponsored health plans will now be able to secure coverage for critical and effective treatment for autism.  Health insurers can no longer deny coverage on the pretext that a treatment provider does not hold a state license, a practice which has been conclusively held to be illegal.”

Read a letter from public employee unions, including the California Professional Firefighters, urging the court to end the DMHC’s discriminatory rule: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/publicunionletter.pdf

The California Department of Insurance, which oversees a different segment of the health insurance market, supported Consumer Watchdog’s position that a state license is not required to administer ABA, and that practitioners privately certified by the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) can legally provide the treatment regardless of whether a child is covered under a private or state-sponsored health plan.  The California Department of Insurance, Autism Speaks, Autism Deserves Equal Coverage, and the California Association for Behavior Analysis contributed amicus briefs supporting Consumer Watchdog.  No supporting briefs were filed on behalf of the DMHC.

The Court agreed with Consumer Watchdog, Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, and advocates, writing in the decision issued yesterday:

“The judgment is reversed in part and modified to enjoin DMHC from upholding a plan’s denial of coverage for ABA services to be provided or supervised by a BACB-certified individual made on the basis that the provider is not licensed.  This applies to all plans within DMHC’s jurisdiction, including plans exempted from SB 946.  The judgment is otherwise affirmed. DMHC’s cross-appeal is dismissed as untimely.”

In the same decision, the Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court ruling that the DMHC had illegally adopted its discriminatory rule in 2009 in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

The case, Consumer Watchdog et. al. v. Department of Managed Health Care et. al. (2d Civ. No. B232338), was decided by a panel of three judges in Division 3 of the California Court of Appeal’s Second District.  The majority opinion was written by Justice Kitching, Justice Klein concurred, and Justice Croskey authored a concurring and dissenting opinion.

Consumer Watchdog is a national non-partisan and non-profit public interest organization.  For more information, go to: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org

Strumwasser & Woocher LLP is known for its successful litigation and resolution of major public policy matters.  The firm’s trial and appellate civil litigation practice focuses on government and electoral law, consumer law, environmental protection, land use, and administrative law.  For more information, go to: http://www.strumwooch.com

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog


http://www.consumerwatchdog.org

By CHARLES D. WILSON, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — With concealed weapons now legal in all 50 states, the National Rifle Association’s focus at this week’s annual meeting is less about enacting additional state protections than on making sure the permits already issued still apply when the gun owners travel across the country.

The nation’s largest gun-rights group, which officially opens its meeting of about 70,000 people Friday in Indianapolis, wants Congress to require that concealed weapons permits issued in one state be recognized everywhere, even when the local requirements differ. Advocates say the effort would eliminate a patchwork of state-specific regulations that lead to carriers unwittingly violating the law when traveling.

“Right now it takes some legal research to find out where you are or are not legal depending on where you are,” said Guy Relford, an attorney who has sued communities for violating an Indiana law that bars local gun regulation. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Opponents fear the measure would allow more lenient gun regulations to trump stricter ones when permit holders travel across state lines.

“It’s a race to the bottom,” said Brian Malte, senior national policy director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It’s taking the lowest standards.”

The push for reciprocity comes as the gun rights lobby is arguably stronger than ever before, with more than 5 million dues-paying members.

The NRA has successfully defeated numerous gun-control efforts in recent years, even after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. With midterm elections looming, the organization’s legislative wish list likely will be somewhat more modest than usual this year.

The “reciprocity” effort on state concealed carry laws has strong support from Senate Republicans but narrowly missed being amended into last year’s proposed expansion of gun sale background checks. Still, it faces long odds in Washington because Democrats control the Senate and White House.

Following a federal judge’s ruling striking down Illinois’ ban on concealed weapons, the Legislature last summer passed the nation’s final law allowing them.

Illinois is among at least 10 states that currently don’t recognize permits issued elsewhere, according to the NRA’s website. Most others recognize permits from only a portion of the other states.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam noted that gun laws vary widely, with some states requiring strict background checks and a handful not even requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“It is vital because crime can and does happen anywhere,” Arulanandam said. “Just because an individual or a family crosses one state boundary to another doesn’t mean they are immune to crime.”

Much like drivers are required to follow the traffic laws of the states they’re in, Arulanandam says the legislation the NRA is seeking would ensure gun permit holders abide by the laws of states they’re visiting.

But Malte counters reciprocity could ultimately leave states “powerless” to stop even violent individuals who cross the state line with weapons.

Several Republicans whose names have been floated as possible White House candidates will speak Friday at the convention’s leadership forum. Those attending include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Rubio opposed limiting Second Amendment rights after the Sandy Hook shootings but also has opposed some gun-rights legislation. Jindal last year signed a number of gun bills into law, including one that creates stiff penalties for those who knowingly publish the names of gun permit holders. He angered gun-control supporters in 2010 when he approved a law allowing concealed handguns in churches, synagogues and mosques.

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The most-traveled pope in history, John Paul II left his mark on the Catholic Church and non-believers worldwide. Here are some milestones along his path to sainthood:

BY THE NUMBERS

—Elected to the papacy in 1978 as first non-Italian pope in 455 years and only Pole.

—Upon election he was 58, the youngest pope in 125 years.

—Distance traveled on his foreign trips: 725,000 miles, or nearly three times the distance from the Earth to the moon. He visited more than 120 countries, including the United States five times.

—Codified church teaching in the first major revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 400 years.

—In 1986, made the first recorded visit by a pope to a Jewish house of worship when he visited Rome’s main synagogue. In 2001, became first pope to enter a Muslim house of worship when he visited a mosque in Syria.

—Biggest turnout for a papal appearance: 4 million in the Philippines in 1995.

NO, NO, NO

In writings and speeches, John Paul reaffirmed the Vatican’s ban on artificial birth control, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, in vitro fertilization, sex outside marriage, homosexual relations and same-sex unions.

PROLIFIC POLYGLOT

He produced 14 encyclicals and the best-selling book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.” At Christmas and Easter, he delivered greetings in dozens of languages. Among the many tongues he mastered besides his native Polish were Italian, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Portuguese and English. Once, to a group of Roman seminarians, he joked in “Romanesco,” the Eternal City’s earthy local dialect.

TOUGH TIMES

Born Karol Wojtyla in southern Poland on May 18, 1920. By the time he was 20, both parents and his sole sibling were dead and his homeland was occupied by the Nazis. He studied clandestinely to become a priest. Ordained in 1946, after the end of World War II.

ON THE RISE

He became auxiliary bishop of Krakow in 1958, bishop in 1964, cardinal in 1967.

PROVIDENTIAL SURVIVOR

He credited divine providence for surviving an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981 that left him gravely wounded. Later he visited the gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk, in prison and forgave him. Various theories about the attack abounded, including purported involvement from the Soviet bloc, but reasons behind it were never made clear.

SHOWING SOLIDARITY

His 1979 pilgrimage to Poland helped foster the birth of the Solidarity labor movement, and later tours kept alive its spirit during Communist crackdowns. In 1985, he capped a six-year mediation effort in joining Argentina and Chile in signing a treaty to end 200-year-long dispute over Beagle Channel.

CONSERVATIVE TO A POINT

His back-to-basics conservatism on doctrinal issues pleased conservatives. But John Paul also declared that capital punishment had no place in modern society, frequently railed against “unbridled” capitalism and consumerism, and denounced the war in Iraq.

TARNISHED TENURE

Scandals involving pedophile priests and systematic efforts by church hierarchy to cover up the abuse exploded under John Paul’s watch in the United States, Western Europe and elsewhere.

UNFULFILLED DREAM

Mikhail Gorbachev was the first Soviet leader to visit the pope at the Vatican. But Orthodox-Catholic tensions thwarted John Paul’s dream of visiting Russia.

LAST VOYAGE

Ravaged by Parkinson’s disease, he prayed in 2004 at the shrine at Lourdes, France, where many faithful seek miracles. That was the 84-year-old pontiff’s final trip abroad.

NOTABLE AND QUOTABLE

— ‘Nazi paganism and Marxist dogma … tend to become substitute religions.”

— Jews are Christians’ “older brothers.”

— “The Church is not a democracy, and no one from below can decide on the truth.’”

___

Follow Frances D’Emilio at www.twitter.com/fdemilio

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.