- Created on 19 March 2013
A former Pennsylvania pastor was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole in the fatal bludgeoning of his second wife in 2008.
crimeArthur "A.B." Schirmer, 64, was sentenced in Monroe County Court nearly two months after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the death of Betty Schirmer. The conviction brought an automatic life sentence.
"My mom is finally able to rest in peace," Betty Schirmer's son, Nate Novack, said after the sentencing. "We do have some closure and it's a great day overall, even though the life conviction isn't going to bring my mom back."
Schirmer is charged separately with killing his first wife, Jewel Schirmer, in 1999. He awaits trial in that case.
Prosecutors said he clubbed Betty Schirmer on the head with a crowbar, then loaded her into their car and staged a low-speed accident in an effort to conceal the crime. The former Methodist clergyman took the stand in his own defense and testified that he was driving her to the emergency room for treatment of jaw pain when he swerved to avoid a deer and hit a guard rail.
A jury deliberated about 90 minutes before returning its verdict.
Local police initially believed Betty Schirmer's July 2008 death was the result of a car crash. State police began a more thorough investigation months later, when a man committed suicide in Schirmer's office after learning the pastor was in a relationship with his wife, the church secretary.
Authorities ultimately concluded the fender-bender could not have caused Betty Schirmer's extensive head and brain injuries. Police also found her blood on the garage floor, along with evidence that someone had tried to clean it up.
- Created on 18 March 2013
Just days after cancelling book signings, Michael Vick made a special appearance at a Stone Mountain church Saturday.
It's been several years since Vick was convicted on dog fighting charges. He's since worked to try to change things, and Saturday he brought his message back to the Atlanta area.
Vick received a warm reception at the victory for the world church, where he stopped by to encourage teens to make the right choices and avoid having to get second chances.
"I'm glad to be back," Vick told the congregation. "Every decision counts, it's very important to think before you speak, think before you act and kind of depend on the people who really believe in you."
Vick was invited by Team Freedom Outreach, a program that works with teens in youth detention centers. The appearance comes days after Vick cancelled book signings in Atlanta and two other states. He's been promoting his autobiography, "Finally Free."
PETA wants to make their opinion of Michael Vick crystal clear.
They issued the following statement:
"PETA believes that Michael Vick should be banned from owning dogs for life. Just as convicted pedophiles aren't allowed free access to children, anyone who is responsible for hanging, electrocuting, or shooting dogs or who has caused them to suffer in other unimaginable ways should never again be allowed access to dogs.
Michael Vick's book "Finally Free" shows how a gifted athlete's life spiraled out of control under the glare of money and fame, aided by his own poor choices. In his own words, Vick details his regrets, his search for forgiveness, the moments of unlikely grace—and the brokenness that brought his redemption on the way to a surprising, fairy-tale season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. Michael says he want to be remembered for so much more.
"I want to be remembered as a guy who never gave up, whether with my family, out on the football field, in a prison cell, or playing one-on-one basketball with somebody in the neighborhood. Standing firm in God always, pushing through, even in my darkest moments."
- Created on 13 March 2013
(CNN) -- Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, the new pope, is breaking historic ground by choosing the name Francis.
It's the first time the name is being used by a pope, said CNN Vatican expert John Allen.
The name parallels one of the most venerated figures in the Roman Catholic Church, St. Francis of Assisi.
Allen described the name of Pope Francis as "the most stunning" choice and "precedent shattering."
"There are cornerstone figures in Catholicism" such as St. Francis, Allen said. Figures of such stature as St. Francis seem "irrepeatable -- that there can be only one Francis," Allen added.
The name symbolizes "poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church," Allen said.
"The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual," Allen said.
- Created on 14 March 2013
An affirmation is a great way to start training your mind toward a positive way of thinking. Coupled with other positive thinking exercises, a positive affirmation will help you overcome any obstacle that is put in front of you. The object of these positive thinking exercises is to ensure that you train the most powerful muscle in your body: your brain.
Here is your affirmation for today which can help keep your day in alignment with your desire to be able to deal with anything calmly.
Affirmation For Today: Today I Am Able To Deal With Anything Calmly
Write the affirmation down and / or program an alert in your phone /computer to repeat throughout the day for inspiration to your brain.
- Created on 13 March 2013
(CNN) -- Cardinals from around the world have been gathering in Michelangelo's masterpiece the Sistine Chapel this week for a conclave to elect a new pope. The historic process is filled with pomp and ceremony and so shrouded in secrecy that its very name means "under lock and key."
But it's a curious idiosyncrasy that, in an era when one of Benedict's XVI's final acts was to send a message via Twitter -- and his predecessor ordered that the Sistine Chapel be swept for recording devices -- the conclave's election of a new pope was announced on Wednesday evening by white smoke from burning ballot papers. Black fumes earlier signified an inconclusive vote.
And until the official announcement of "Habemus Papam -- we have a new pope" -- is made around an hour later, it is a modest little stove and chimney that stole the show.
The Vatican says the cast iron stove is "cylindrical in shape with a narrower upper portion" and approximately one meter high. "It has a door in its lower section enabling ignition, a valve for manual regulation of the draft and an upper door through which the documents to be burnt are introduced. The dates of election to the papacy and the names of the last six pontiffs are stamped on the upper cap of the stove."
CNN's senior Vatican analyst John Allen said the "oldish-looking" stove and its attached chimney were introduced to preserve the independence of the conclave process.
"The whole purpose of the secrecy is to protect the cardinals from outside influence," he said, the theory being that details of the ballot papers could expose the cardinals to repercussions or other pressures.
The Vatican's constitution requires a two-thirds majority to elect a new pope.
On the first day of the conclave, one voting session is held: on other days the cardinals vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. If a second ballot must be taken immediately, the first bundle of ballots and any private notes are burned with the second. The cardinals chosen to be scrutineers are responsible for burning the ballots, with help from the secretary of the College of Cardinals and masters of ceremonies, who are allowed to enter the chapel after voting has concluded.
Depending on how long the cardinals take to agree, pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square could be reading smoke signals for days on end. And those signals haven't always been particularly clear.
Frederic Baumgartner, professor of history at Virginia Tech University and author of "Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections," said that before the 1800s, "beginning to unbar doors and window was taken as a symbol that the election was complete. There was also mention of noise from where the cardinals were locked in and the firing of cannons at Castel Sant' Angelo."
In the 19th century, Baumgartner said, there was mention of smoke being "taken as meaning that there had been no election - and that they were burning the ballots after scrutiny. The smoke was described often as yellow. What I get from the sources that I was reading from the 1800s is that when they didn't see smoke then they were hopeful."
But the first reference to the different meanings of white or black smoke occurred at the 1903 conclave. "The primary reason they went for the black and white smoke was because there was confusion in the crowds as to what was going on," Baumgartner explained.
But the confusion didn't stop there.
Priest and archivist Fr. Nicholas Schofield said that in the event of an inconclusive ballot, wet straw had traditionally been added to the fire to make the smoke black. But uncertainty around the results of a 1958 conclave had led to the introduction of chemicals to make the color of the smoke more obvious.
Nonetheless, CNN's senior Vatican analyst, John Allen, said smoke from the fire "normally comes out an indistinct grey at the start." At the 1978 conclave that resulted in the election of Pope John Paul II there were some false alarms and John Paul II later specified that the bells of St. Peters be rung to signify a successful election. "The problem with that is that bells go off at the Vatican all the time."
At Pope Benedict XVI's election in 2005, Allen recalled, bells had rung out at the same time as smoke came from the Sistine Chapel chimney, but it transpired that they were just marking the top of the hour.
The confusion occurred despite the introduction that year of an auxiliary smoke-emitting device aimed at improving the visibility of the smoke.
"In order to improve the draft, the vent is preheated by means of electric resistance and it's equipped with a ventilator for use if necessary," the Vatican said in a statement.
Ahead of this year's conclave, spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the chemical technique had been improved to ensure a clear color signal.
Once the senior cardinal deacon appears on the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square to formally announce the election of a new pope and his name, the little stove's time in the spotlight should be over and the focus will then move to the pope elect.
"He's supposed to act as if it's a difficult decision and then he has to be fitted with his vestments," Baumgartner said, estimating the appearance might come about an hour after the smoke signal. "If a man was really conflicted about the job, he may take a little longer."
Baumgartner said that he was not aware of any wrong announcements about a new pope being made in modern times - but there had been some in the past.
"There used to be a tradition that the Romans [residents of Rome] would go and ransack the dwelling of the cardinal that was elected -- on the grounds that he didn't need it anymore. There was at least one example of the Rome's residents ransacking the house of the wrong cardinal, during the 400-500 years the tradition was followed.
"Not only did he not become pope but he didn't have anything left in his house."