Saturday, February 28, 2009

Deposition of Peg Myers, President of Chula Vista Educators

Peg Myers, current CVE President and one of the Castle Park Five, did not want to testify about events that occurred when she taught at Castle Park Elem. School.

Teacher and union member Maura Larkins finally deposed Ms. Myers in Nov. 2004.



Photo: Patrick Judd, formerly of Chula Vista Elementary School District and Mountain Empire School District.

Dear Mr. Erick C. Johnson,

On Friday, February 13, 2009 our children received a Statement by TAS Board President indicating that you and The Board of Trustees had met to discuss the union petition filed by UTLA. You also stated that the Board had numerous concerns about the unionization and how it will impact our children, families, staff and teachers.

We would like you and the rest of The Board of Trustees of The Accelerated School to know that we the TAS Parent Coalition fully support our teachers in their decision to unionize. In the coming days we will be talking to other parents and informing them as to why our teachers decided to unionize and ways that we can support them in their decision.

Whatever impact comes as a result of the teachers unionization will be the sole responsibility of The Accelerated School Board of Trustees, Patrick Judd and Sandra Phillips. We, the TAS Parent Coalition offered to facilitate an open dialogue with you and some of the Board of Trustees, teachers and parents but you turned us down. The teachers came to the Board of Trustees meetings with their concerns and fears but you and the rest of the Board of Trustees turned your backs on the teachers and us parents. You and the Board of Trustees chose to believe Mr. Patrick Judd over all of us. You and the Board of Trustees believed Patrick Judd when he told you it was only a small group of teachers causing problems and complaining.

Teachers and parents worked hard to find ways of resolving the issues but no one was listening and teachers needed protection from Patrick Judd and Sandra Phillips tyrannical ways. In all of The Accelerated School’s existence the need for teacher unionize has never taken place until now and it’s all due to Mr. Patrick Judd and Sandra Phillips poor leadership skills. The teachers’ decision to unionization speaks volumes to the poor leadership of Patrick Judd and Sandra Phillips. If The Accelerated School Board of Trustees continues to trust and allow Mr. Patrick Judd an individual who is consumed in litigation and questionable practices to continue to directly oversee the operations of all its schools; we are all in serious trouble. Mr. Patrick Judd has a proven record of wasting taxpayer and school monies to hire lawyers for litigation that could’ve been prevented. We, the TAS Parent Coalition ask that The Board of Trustees terminate Mr. Patrick Judd’s contract as soon as possible due to the fact that his hiring has been detrimental to the students, families, staff and teachers of The Accelerated School, Accelerated Charter Elementary School, and Wallis Annenberg High School. We, the TAS Parent Coalition strongly believe that we can’t move forward with an Individual like Mr. Patrick Judd. He can’t relate to our teachers, our families and most of all our children.

There is no need to reply to our email we only ask that you and the rest of The Board of Trustees listen carefully to the pleas of the parents, students, staff, and teachers do not continue to ignore us all.

Robert SaldaƱa and TAS Parent Coalition

CC:Dori E. Miles, UTLA Area Representative
Howard Blume, LA Times Writer
LAUSD Charter Schools Division
Monica Garcia, LAUSD Board President
Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles
The Accelerated School, Wallis Annenberg, and Accelerated Charter Elementary School Parents

Check out the following link:,0,4416099.story

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Disruptive Innovation: Online chat

Live Online Chat:

Disruptive Innovation: A Conversation With Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn
When: Wednesday, February 25, 12-1:30 p.m. Eastern time

...Join us for an exclusive online discussion with Mr. Christensen and his co-author, Michael B. Horn. They argue that each student needs a customized learning approach to maximize his or her potential because people learn differently from one another. When a teaching approach is better aligned with a student’s aptitudes, they believe, understanding will come more easily and the student will be more motivated in school.

About the Guests:

Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, is the author or coauthor of several books, including The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution.

Michael B. Horn is co-founder and the executive director of the Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank whose mission is to apply Mr. Christensen’s theories of disruptive innovation to solve social problems.

This chat will be moderated by Kevin Bushweller, Executive Editor of Education Week’s Digital Directions.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

AIG gets $165 billion, Americans maimed in Iraq get nothing

First Written December 18, 2006
(Updated now that AIG has been given 165 billion taxpayer dollars, and I learned that San Diego County Office of Education JPA works with AIG.)

What happens when Titan Corporation goes to war, and its Insurance Company, AIG, doesn't want to pay for injured translators?

What does attorney Roger Levy of LAUGHLIN, FALBO, LEVY, & MORESI LLP (San Francisco, California) do when his client (TITAN CORPORTATION) doesn't want to provide medical treatment for seriously wounded contractors?

He tries to prove that being hit in the helmet with a bullet from friendly-fire, and being knocked unconscious immediately after with the butt of a friendly rifle, then being pulled unconsious out of a burning Humvee, and left in a tent without medical treatment, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SUBSEQUENT BLINDNESS AND HEARING LOSS. He claims that neither L-3 Titan Corporation nor AIG has any obligation to continue disability benefits or medical benefits for the wounded man.

This is exactly what is happening in the case of Mazin Al-Nashi of San Diego, who was injured in August 2003 while working as a translator in Iraq.

Mr. Tony Walker, AIG WorldSource's attorney (San Francisco, CA) is also helping these enormous corporations avoid the obligations to employees.

Where, then, do all the billions of dollars that taxpayers gave to TITAN (now known as L-3 Communications Titan Group), and, indirectly, to AIG, end up? Apparently, Levy and Walker think they should end up in the pockets of stockholders and CEOs who have risked nothing for America.

For more information, click on CASUALTY OF WAR.

The questioning of Mazin Al-Nashi by these lawyers during a hearing on October 23 and 24, 2006 before Administrative Judge Gee was so brutal that Mazin ended up in intensive care shortly afterward. Mazin had no legal representation.

See also: AIG executives begin spending $80 billion bailout money at California Resort

Schools get cuts, while banks get $700 billion bailout

Quiz: Which person gamed the system so spectacularly that the American people are paying for her (or him) to live in the house pictured above?
(a) Nadya Suleman, mother of octuplets;
(b) Bernard Madoff, builder of pyramids;
(c) Peter Kraus, ransacker of banks.

The answer is HERE.

Don't you hate it when the government gives money to the wrong people? I sure do.

Who deserves to receive our tax dollars? Correct answer: Insurance companies and banks!

Who doesn't? Correct answer: Kids!

Americans have been sending death threats to Nadya Suleman, who has such a fixation with producing offspring that she ended up with fourteen kids, all conceived by in vitro fertilization. I'm not pleased with irresponsible Nadya, but there are plenty of people who gamed the system to a much higher degree than Nadya who aren't getting death threats.

Peter Kraus earned $25 million in bonus cash for three months work at Merrill Lynch last fall. Merrill Lynch & Co. awarded $121 million to four executives just before the company was acquired by Bank of America Corp. in September of 2008. Also see Bloomberg. These executives ransacked Merrill Lynch so badly, that the Senate on January 15, 2009 to release $350 billion from the troubled asset relief programme (Tarp) agreed by Washington at the end of last year.

"The US government will take a stake in BoA in return for the aid, which is designed to absorb the losses on mortgage-related assets inherited from Merrill Lynch. The bailout makes BoA the biggest recipient of taxpayer money next to Citigroup."

Nadya Suleman is clearly small potatoes. Even if she got a million dollars for raising each of her fourteen kids, she would be far behind what Peter Kraus got for raiding Merrill Lynch. I think that the fertility industry needs to be better regulated, but the bigger problem is regulating financial institutions.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2 Pa. Judges Admit Jailing Kids For Cash; Juveniles Wrongly Accused?

Plead Guilty To Fraud For Taking $2.6M In Kickbacks To Send Teens To Private Detention Centers
Feb. 12, 2009

Two Pennsylvania judges charged with taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send youth offenders to privately run detention centers pleaded guilty to fraud Thursday in one of the most stunning cases of judicial corruption on record.

Prosecutors allege Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, possibly tainting the convictions of thousands of juvenile offenders.

The judges pleaded guilty in federal court in Scranton to honest services fraud and tax fraud. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years in prison. They were permitted to remain free pending sentencing.

The gray-haired jurists said little at Thursday's hearing, and declined to comment to reporters afterward.

Prosecutors described a scheme in which Conahan, the former president judge of Luzerne County, shut down the county-owned juvenile detention center in 2002 and signed an agreement with PA Child Care LLC to send youth offenders to its new facility outside Wilkes-Barre.

Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, sent youths to the detention center while he was taking payments, prosecutors said.

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Ciavarella was ridiculously harsh and ran roughshod over youngsters' constitutional rights. Ciavarella sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a statewide rate of one in 10.

Among the offenders were teenagers who were locked up for months for stealing loose change from cars, writing a prank note and possessing drug paraphernalia. Many had never been in trouble before, and some were imprisoned even after probation officers recommended against it. Many of the youths didn't have attorneys.

Ciavarella has specifically denied sending kids to jail for cash, and had indicated he would not go through with the guilty plea if the government offered that as evidence.

Thus prosecutors left out any mention Thursday of a quid pro quo, presenting only enough evidence to establish that crimes had occurred.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubron said after the hearing that the government continues to allege a quid pro quo. "We're not negotiating that, no. We're not backing off," he said.

The prosecutor said it will be up to U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik to settle the matter. Kosik could reject the proposed sentence as too light if he decides there was a quid pro quo.

"I think there will be significant disagreements as to what the facts are," Zubrod said. "Was there a connection between the payments and the money, and young people going to prison? Those are issues that are going to be addressed later by the court. There's going to be plenty of time to fight about that."

The judges were charged on Jan. 26 and removed from the bench by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court shortly afterward.

Fifteen-year-old Bernadine Wallace was sentenced to a month in lock-up for a threatening note she posted on her MySpace page, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane.

"I was thinking to myself, 'I don't deserve this. I don't think that I did that much wrong. I'm not a criminal'," she said.

"You saw the judges come out of court today. How were you feeling?" Doane asked Wallace's mother.

"Angry," Flo Wallace said. "How did they get to walk out with all these charges? When she went in front of them, she got out of shackles."

Kurt Kruger, now 22, pictured at left, had never been in trouble with the law until the day police accused him of acting as a lookout while his friend shoplifted less than $200 worth of DVDs from Wal-Mart. He said he didn't know his friend was going to steal anything.

Kruger pleaded guilty before Ciavarella and spent three days in a company-run juvenile detention center, plus four months at a youth wilderness camp run by a different operator.

"Never in a million years did I think that I would actually get sent away. I was completely destroyed," said Kruger, who later dropped out of school. He said he wants to get his record expunged, earn his high school equivalency diploma and go to college.

Never underestimate a retired teacher

By Paul Stokes
13 Feb 2009
Teenage handbag thief outpaced by 72-year-old ex-sprinter

The schoolgirl was surprised to discover her victim, a former All England Schools championship sprinter, still had a turn of pace - at the age of 72.

As Mrs Hirst gave chase, she soon began to close on the culprit who was forced to throw down the bag in her desperation to escape.

The retired teacher had allowed three teenage girls into her car to help her with directions after getting lost on the way to a theatre.
...Mrs Hirst said: "Suddenly I felt 18 again. The adrenaline just kicked in and I seemed to turn back the years.

"She had a head start but I covered 70 yards in about 15 seconds and was within two strides of her when she looked over her shoulder and saw me.

"She probably thought I was an easy target but she shouldn't have judged a book by its cover. The look on her face was one of sheer amazement and she just threw my bag aside."

Friday, February 13, 2009

John de Beck and others who used to agree with CTA are wondering how it went wrong

SDUSD Trustee John de Beck

I used to think that California Teachers Association worked for the public good. Now I think they work for themselves, and are standing in the way of desperately needed education reform. John de Beck also seems to have become disillusioned with CTA.

The 'Labor Guy' At Odds with Labor
Feb. 3, 2009

John de Beck was once the treasurer of the San Diego teachers union and still calls himself a "labor guy." But nearly two decades since the retired teacher was elected to the squabbling San Diego Unified board, he is on the outs with the teachers union just as it gains new political pull in the school district.

De Beck says the union changed. The union says he did. Its website calls him "a former ally" whose "recent actions are not those of a friend, ally or advocate for working people."...

MiraCosta is losing its most courageous board member

Miracosta Trustee Judy Stratton

See all MiraCosta posts

I'm afraid there's not much chance now of MiraCosta trustees having the courage to resist the control of the SDCOE-JPA and its executive director, Diane Crosier. Daniel Shinoff and/or equally ethically-deficient lawyers will continue to direct board members to take actions that are in the best interest of lawyers, not students, employees or taxpayers.

Strattan to step down from MiraCosta post
North County Times
By PAUL SISSON - Staff Writer
February 13, 2009

...MiraCosta College Trustee Judy Strattan is resigning her post effective March 31...In an unpublished interview in mid-December, Strattan told the North County Times that she needed to purchase a home outside the community college district for personal reasons.

A statement released to college staff this week said: "I know that I'll be leaving the district soon and some personal matters with family and friends have come up that need my attention..."

...A career educator, Strattan was president of Barstow Community College from 1993 to 1997 and served as dean of students at MiraCosta from 1978 to 1987. During her 2006 campaign for a seat on the board, Strattan took some incumbents to task for having a "rubber stamp mentality." She also openly questioned the leadership of then-college president Victoria Munoz Richart...

As Strattan departs, MiraCosta administrators are recommending that trustees fill her vacancy by appointment, rather than a special election...

Danielle Grijalva refuses offer of settlement in defamation suit regarding her website

Photo: Danielle Grijalva, CSFES Director
(See all Danielle Grijalva posts.)

Danielle Grijalva Post #2

Danielle Grijalva appears poised to prevail in this case, in which operators of foreign exchange student programs tried to silence her and her website. Plaintiffs withdrew their Motion for Contempt.

I found this interesting discussion about how the State department funds foreign exchange programs for diplomacy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pete Seeger is now as American as everyone else

See all ACLU posts.
Image from CD

School board to say sorry to folk icon after 49 years

By Greg Moran
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
February 10, 2009

It took a half century, but the San Diego Unified school board wants to apologize to Pete Seeger...Tonight, board member Katherine Nakamura will introduce a resolution declaring that the board “deeply regrets its predecessors' actions” and offering a hand of formal friendship to Seeger.

The resolution offers an apology to a man who is “one of our dearest national treasures.”...

Seeger's troubles in San Diego occurred while he was blacklisted and shunned by major entertainment venues. In 1955, Seeger had declined to answer questions in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, a McCarthy-era committee that probed real or alleged members of the Communist Party, citing his First Amendment rights.

He spent years performing mostly at schools and small venues, and one of those was Hoover High School. His agent signed a rental agreement for the concert, but the local American Legion heard of it and pressured the school board to act.

The board passed a resolution that said Seeger had to first sign a pledge stating the concert would not be used to promote the overthrow of the government, and was not part of a “Communist-action organization or Communist-front organization.”

...Superior Court Judge Clarence Harden heard the case in his chambers on Saturday morning, about 10 hours before the show was to go on. Katz said the lawyers argued that Seeger had signed a valid contract with the district, and the oath was an illegal new condition...

Harden agreed with the ACLU and issued the order barring the school district from forcing Seeger to sign the pledge...That night about 1,400 people did go to the auditorium to hear Seeger perform...

Shelia Jackson plays the religion card

Democrats have been wondering for years how Republicans were able to claim both religion and patriotism as their exclusive domains. Shelia Jackson paid attention and learned.

Prayer proposal placed on school board agenda
By Maureen Magee
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
February 10, 2009

The San Diego school board will discuss today whether to open its public meetings with prayer, at the suggestion of President Shelia Jackson.

Jackson placed the matter on the school board agenda with no written explanation or formal proposal. She was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Although vague, the scheduled discussion is almost guaranteed to stir controversy, said board member John de Beck.

“I won't pray with them, though I will pray for them,” said de Beck, referring to the board's emerging voting bloc of Jackson and trustees Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans. “I can't understand any reason for prayer at our meetings. Why add controversy?”...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Danielle Grijalva continues the difficult work of protecting foreign exchange students

Photo: Danielle Grijalva, CSFES Director
(See all Danielle Grijalva posts.)

Danielle Grijalva Post #1

When you're a young person in an unfamiliar country, you don't have the connections and protections you had at home. Apparently, pedophiles in the US have taken note of this fact.

West Virginia News
by Sam Webber & Jack Swint
February 9, 2009

...What started out as a story about one former high school principal's involvement in pedophile & rapist behavior, has now joined the ranks into a national scandal involving the exploitation, sexual assaults and gross misconduct inside the Foreign Exchange Student program.

In a multi million dollar industry that generates from $9,000 to $22,000 per student per year, some really bad people are intentionally destroying a really good program that was once held beyond reproach.

According to Danielle Grijalva, founder of the "Committee For Safety Of Foreign Exchange Students", there were approximately 180 foreign exchange students in WV in June of 2008. And, 6 of our children are abroad. These students are invited guests to this state.

Out of those, at least 3 were hosted by a WV native known to exploit teens... even his own younger brother.

West Virginia News published a new story on this issue on Feb. 13, 2009: "...A National Pedophile Network Exploiting Foreign Exchange Students?? What the WV Board of Education and State Officials don't want you to know."

Advocates seek changes to industry to protect children from predators
By DENIS DEVINE - Staff Writer
April 25, 2005
North County Times

"When we looked at 7,000 applicants, we didn't think it would uncover 700 people that have criminal histories," said Jim Samuels, a senior official at the National Center. More than half of the criminal records they found--including sex crimes--had not shown up on Web-based searches, he said. Nine percent had records that indicated the applicants should not work with children...

You would think that Ms. Grijalva would get unqualified support from everyone, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, many organizations would rather hide problems than solve them. One such organization tried to silence Ms. Grijalva.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

All Nestor Elementary students would learn in English, Spanish

Full dual-language school weighed
By Chris Moran
Union-Tribune Staff Writer
February 5, 2009

In the mid-1990s, Nestor Elementary was a neighborhood school that started a program for 120 students who wanted to learn in two languages.

Now it's on the brink of becoming a full dual-immersion magnet school that would attract students from across South County who want to learn in Spanish and English.

Dual-immersion language schools teach children almost exclusively in a foreign language in the early grades, gradually increasing the time spent with English-language instruction to 50 percent. There are only a handful of campuses in the county in which every student is taught in two languages.

...The 350 students there who now learn only in English – even if they live just across Hollister Street from the campus – would move to other local schools. Nestor has an enrollment of about 1,000 – 620 in the dual-immersion program. The language academy has a waiting list of about 150 students.

Two external pressures have contributed to what could be the new Nestor.

One is financial. The state funds public education on a per-student basis. So each student a school district can poach from another is worth more than $5,500 a year. Nestor has 186 students from outside South Bay Union, so they bring about $1 million in additional dollars a year with them...

Another force for change is the federal No Child Left Behind Act... Nestor has failed to reach federal benchmarks for five years...

Dual immersion is a growing trend at local elementary schools, but few offer it schoolwide as Nestor plans to...

It's a struggle in the early years for many of these students. Second-and third-graders in dual-immersion programs often score lower than students in English-only classes on standardized tests. But then in fourth grade, according to test score data compiled by Nestor, language academy students surpass the rest of the school and districtwide averages on the state's annual language arts test...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Robert Melvin Goode, Jr. pleads guilty to child abuse, sentenced to 12 years

Jodi Breton, assistant D.A., had a great comment regarding the dozens of North County residents who defended Robert Melvin Goode with an avalanche of letters to the D.A. "Everyone seems to hate child molesters unless it's someone they know," she said.

Melvin Goode Jr


School Official Pleads Guilty To Child Sex Abuse
March 19, 2009

VISTA, Calif. -- A 60-year-old former North County school administrator pleaded guilty Thursday to two felonies for sexually abusing a child over six years, beginning when she was 8.

Robert Melvin Goode Jr. will be sentenced to 12 years in state prison at a hearing May 18 before Vista Judge Daniel Goldstein...


Ex-school administrator sought for child-molesting turns himself in
February 4, 2009

OCEANSIDE – A former school administrator accused of molesting a child during a six-year period turned himself in to police Wednesday night.

Robert Melvin Goode Jr., 59,
is accused of abusing the unidentified child since the age of 8, according to Oceanside police Sgt. Kelan Poorman. The child and parents recently talked to police.

Police said Goode worked as a senior administrator at the following schools: The Classical Academy in Escondido; The Classical Academy High School in Escondido; and The Coastal Academy in Oceanside. Goode was also the high school principal at Tri-City Christian School in Vista between 1983 and 2000, Poorman said.

Police did not say if the child was linked to one of the schools.

The Oceanside resident is expected to be booked into Vista jail on felony charges, according to police.

Perjury on trial: Barry Bonds on March 2 and Stutz v. Larkins on April 3

Barry Bonds is being charged with criminal perjury, but Daniel Shinoff's case is different. On my website I accused Shinoff and his law firm, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, of suborning perjury and other wrongdoing during their representation of Chula Vista Elementary School District during my case. Stutz is now suing me for defamation, and the trial is scheduled for April 3, 2009. I'm furiously working to organize my huge amount of evidence so I can present it at trial.

Here's the Barry Bonds story:

Judge unseals Bonds evidence
By Barry M. Bloom
Feb. 4, 2009

A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday unsealed a list of witnesses and evidence to be used by the government against former Giants slugger Barry Bonds in his perjury trial that is slated to begin on March 2.

Among the hundreds of pages of documents is evidence that Bonds failed tests in 2000 and 2001 for the steroids methenelone and nandrolone.

On their witness list is a number of baseball players, including Jason Giambi, although reported on Tuesday that the former Yankees star, who's back with A's, hasn't yet received a subpoena to appear.

Bonds' attorneys have filed a motion seeking to exclude as evidence blood and urine tests, among other items. A hearing is set for Thursday in the San Francisco court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to determine what evidence will be admitted at the trial.

Bonds was indicted on what eventually has turned out to be 10 counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, for allegedly lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs before a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative in sworn testimony on Dec. 4, 2003.

The indictment, citing the actual grand jury testimony elicited from Bonds, alleges that Bonds lied when asked if he was ever given or was administered with needles anabolic steroids, testosterone or human growth hormone by his former trainer, Greg Anderson, during the period from 2000 to 2002.

In addition, the documents showed that a government-retained scientist said he found evidence that Bonds used the designer steroid THG upon retesting a urine sample the then 39-year-old Bonds supplied as part of baseball's anonymous survey drug testing in 2003. The test had previously been determined to be negative by the labs used by MLB at a time when THG was not among the drugs listed on baseball's banned list...

Pope Benedict and the Holocaust

I was pleased that someone in the Vatican helped Pope Benedict rethink his position on British Bishop Richard Williamson. Pope Benedict recently lifted Williamson's excommunication, which was a bizarre move, since Williamson is a Holocaust denier. Some people claim that the pope was ill-informed, but I'm not buying that. I think he chose his aides for their extreme right-wing views, and he knew exactly what kind of advice they would give. He knew all he wanted to know.

Vatican turnaround: Holocaust denier must recant
February 4, 2009

The Vatican, bowing to the growing furor over Pope Benedict XVI's decision to accept a return to the church of a prelate who denied the Holocaust, made a dramatic turnaround Wednesday and demanded the bishop recant.

The Vatican sought to distance the pope from the controversy by saying he did not know about British Bishop Richard Williamson's views when he agreed to lift his excommunication last month.

In the surprisingly public spat, some leading cardinals in Germany and at the Vatican blamed unidentified aides for not fully briefing the pope.

The controversy provided a rare look at the cracks in the Vatican's facade of unity and raised questions about the advice the pope receives and his access to information. Papal aides say Benedict, a former university professor and theologian, receives a daily news summary and occasionally watches television...

Williamson was shown on Swedish state television just days before the lifting of his excommunication was announced on Jan. 24, acknowledging his view that "there was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers" during World War II...

Williamson subsequently apologized to the pope for having stirred controversy, but he did not repudiate his comments, in which he also said only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis and none were gassed...