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    Summer is almost over, but there's still time to fit these trips and events in before fall is here.


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    See the 38 defenders that made the list as N.J.'s best defenders this season.


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    From Newark to Sparta, these are games that will live up to the billing.


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    Which top returning saves leader will rule the state in 2018?


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    Which teams will have the strongest support in the back this season?


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    Integrity House, the state's largest drug treatment program, celebrates 50 years of saving lives from addiction.


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    Pope Benedict XVI eventually sanctioned McCarrick in 2009 or 2010 to a lifetime of penance and prayer, but that Francis subsequently rehabilitated him, according to the letter

    By NICOLE WINFIELD

    DUBLIN -- The Vatican's retired ambassador to the United States has penned an 11-page letter accusing senior Vatican officials of knowing as early as 2000 that the disgraced former archbishop of Newark and Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, regularly invited seminarians into his bed but they still promoted him to cardinal.

    The letter, an extraordinary j'accuse from a one-time Holy See diplomat, also accuses Pope Francis of having initially rehabilitated McCarrick despite being informed of his penchant for young seminarians in 2013, soon after he was elected pope.

    The National Catholic Register and another conservative site, LifeSiteNews, published the letter attributed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano on Sunday as the pope was wrapping up a two-day visit to Ireland.

    Vigano, 77, a conservative whose hard-line anti-gay views are well known, also urged the reformist pope to resign over the issue. He and the pope have long been on opposite ideological sides, with the pope more a pastor and Vigano more a cultural warrior.

    Newark Archdiocese to audit files in alleged abuse cases

    The Vatican didn't immediately comment on the letter or confirm its authenticity.

    In it, Vigano accused the former Vatican secretaries of state under the previous two popes of having ignored detailed denunciations against McCarrick for years.

    He said Pope Benedict XVI eventually sanctioned McCarrick in 2009 or 2010 to a lifetime of penance and prayer, but that Francis subsequently rehabilitated him.

    Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as cardinal last month, after a U.S. church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

    Since then, another man has come forward saying McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary. The accusations have led to a crisis in confidence in the U.S. hierarchy, because it was apparently an open secret that McCarrick regularly invited seminarians to his New Jersey beach house, and into his bed.

    Coupled with the devastating allegations of sex abuse and cover-up in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report -- which found that 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over 70 years in six dioceses -- the scandal has led to calls for heads to roll and for a full Vatican investigation into who knew what and when about McCarrick.

    Seton Hall hires NFL 'Deflategate' investigator to probe sex abuse allegations 

    Vigano apparently sought to answer some of those questions. His letter identifies by name the Vatican cardinals and archbishops who were informed about the McCarrick affair, an unthinkable expose for a Vatican diplomat to make. He said documents backing up his version of events are in Vatican archives.

    Vigano, the Vatican's ambassador to the U.S. from 2011-2016, said his two immediate predecessors "did not fail" to inform the Holy See about accusations against McCarrick, starting in 2000.

    He said Francis asked him about McCarrick when they met on June 23, 2013, at the Vatican's Santa Marta hotel where the pope lives, three months after Francis was elected pope.

    Vigano wrote that he told Francis: "Holy Father, I don't know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation of Bishops, there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance."

    Vigano wrote he was surprised to find that McCarrick started travelling on missions on behalf of the church soon thereafter, including to China. McCarrick was also one of the Vatican's intermediaries in the U.S.-Cuba talks in 2014.

    The letter also contains a lengthy diatribe about homosexuals and liberals in the Catholic church. It often reads like an ideological manifesto, naming all of Francis' known supporters in the U.S. hierarchy as being complicit in a cover-up of McCarrick's misdeeds.

    Vigano, however, also has had his own problems with allegations of cover-up, and he and Francis had a major dust-up during Francis' 2015 visit to the U.S., which Vigano organized.

    In that incident, a leading U.S. campaigner against gay marriage, Kim Davis, was among those invited to meet with the pope at Vigano's Washingon residence. Francis was so enraged that Davis' supporters had leaked word of her meeting that the Vatican subsequently insisted he only held one private audience while there: with one of his former students, a gay man and his partner.

    The cover-up accusation, which Vigano denied, concerned allegations that he tried to quash an investigation into the former archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, John Nienstedt, who was accused of misconduct with adult seminarians.

    In 2016, the National Catholic Reporter said Vigano allegedly ordered the investigation wrapped up and a piece of evidence destroyed. The report cited a 2014 memo from a diocesan official that was unsealed following the conclusion of a criminal investigation into the archdiocese. No charges were filed.
    Nienstedt was forced to resign in 2015 over complaints about his handling of sex abuse cases.

    Vigano's name also made headlines during the 2012 "Vatileaks" scandal, when some of his letters were published in which he begged to not be transferred to the Vatican embassy in Washington from the central administration of the Vatican City State. He claimed he was being punished for having exposed corruption in the Vatican. The letters showed a clash with Benedict's No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is also a target of his McCarrick missive.


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    Their numbers pale compared to more well-known groups, but the gang has become notorious for violence.


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    Holmdel volunteer wins international award in dog photography competition

    The Kennel Club in London recently announced the winners of its annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition with Sonya Kolb of Holmdel selected as the winner of the competition's 'Rescue Dog' category.

    rescue_dog.jpg 

    The award comes with a PS500 prize for the charity of the winner's choice. Kolb has chosen to donate the money to the Monmouth County SPCA where she has been taking photos for seven years.

    The dog in Kolb's winning photograph is rescue dog Cooper, whose family adopted him after their first rescue dog tragically died before they had even brought him home.

    "I am extremely grateful to have won the Rescue category in the Dog Photographer of the Year competition," said Kolb. "I can remember every second of this photo shoot as if it were yesterday. This image reveals what is so important in life - our emotional connections with others. Dogs fulfill our deepest emotional needs, giving us so freely an abundance of love, comfort and joy. I love creating images that spread happiness and connect us heart to heart, hand to paw, with our most positive emotions."

    Monica van der Maden from the Netherlands was chosen overall winner of the competition with an image of Noa the Great Dane which placed first in the 'Oldies' category. The other first place category winners were:

    • Elinor Roizman, Israel, 'Dogs at Play';
    • Klaus Dyber, Germany, 'Puppy';
    • Carol Durrant, the UK, 'Portrait';
    • Tracy Kidd, the UK, 'Dogs at Work';
    • Joana Matos, Portugal, 'Man's Best Friend';
    • Dean Mortimer, the UK, 'Assistance Dogs';
    • Tamara Kedves, Hungary, 'I Love Dogs Because...;
    • Mariah Mobley (age 11), United States, 'Young Pup Photographer'

    All of the winning images plus the photos that placed second and third for each category will be on display at the Kennel Club in London from through Oct. 5. To view all the winning images, go to dogphotographeroftheyear.org.uk.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    NJ Advance Media has broken down all 113 teams in the Super Football Conference in our full conference season preview.

    Weequahic.JPG 

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    North Jersey powers top the preseason NJ.com Top 20 football rankings


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    Which players are on the verge of breaking out this season?


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    Cardi B is coming to Newark, okurrrr?

    Nicki Minaj might not be coming to Prudential Center in October, but the female rapper that many say has overtaken her in hip-hop is now coming soon. 

    Bronx native and Edgewater resident Cardi B will be coming to Brick City on Oct. 28 as part of Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2018, Prudential Center announced on Monday.

    The reality TV star turned rapper and pop culture sensation will be joined by Lil Uzi Vert, Ella Mai, G-Eazy, Lil Baby, Juice Wrld and more. A venue presale of tickets will run from August 28 at 10 a.m. until August 29 at 10 p.m., and tickets go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 10 a.m.

    The announcement comes days after Nicki Minaj announced she has postponed her NICKIHNDRXX tour with Atlanta rapper Future -- which was set to hit Prudential Center in Newark Oct. 7 -- until May 2019, citing lack of rehearsal time, but tickets sales were rumored to be low.

    Cardi B, born Belcalis Almanzar, gave birth to her daughter, Kulture Kiari Cephus, on July 10. She is married to the rapper Offset, one of the three artists that makes up the rap group Migos.

    It's been a historical year for Cardi B. In April, Cardi's debut album, "Invasion of Privacy," also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Back in July, she became the first female rapper to see two songs hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. "I Like It" hit the top spot after "Bodak Yellow" previously achieved the mark.

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    A complete list of the 36 New Jersey girls soccer players named to the watchlist for the 2018 High School All-American Game


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    County prosecutors say he was found Sunday morning suffering from a gunshot wound.

    Orange police and Essex County investigators are probing the killing of a 46-year-old man shot to death in a vacant lot in the township Sunday morning.

    Michael S. Boyd, of Orange, was found suffering from a gunshot wound in the 100 block of Matthews Street around 10:35 a.m., the police department and county prosecutor's office said in a joint statement.

    Boyd was pronounced dead at the scene less than an hour later, authorities said.

    Law enforcement officials did not speculate on a possible motive, and said no suspects had been identified.

    The prosecutor's office has asked anyone with information about the shooting to call the Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    The New Jersey Devils and United Airline team up to give Philip's Academy Charter School a world class outdoor hockey rink....

    Jorry Vertilus was on the sideline waiting to run into the rink.

    It might have been his third time.

    The fourth grader at Philip's Academy Charter School in Newark had never picked up a hockey stick until Monday, his first day back at school.

    "I feel like I've got the hang of it,'' said Jorry, 9.

    Hugh Weber will probably be smiling reading this.

    devils31ax099_1da9_9.jpgThe New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center and United Airlines teamed up to surprise Newarks Phillips Academy Charter School students with an outdoor hockey rink to help kick off the beginning of their school year on Aug. 27, 2018. 

    Weber is the president of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center and was thrilled to see Jorry and his classmates take to a sport on a world class outdoor hockey rink that has been installed at the school.

    "These kids just picked up the sticks and have kind of already figured it out,'' Weber said. "Hopefully these kids will be introduced to the sport in a different way.''

    Xavier Gaeson, 9, offered this analysis, having tried the game for the third time in his young life.

    "If you look at it, it's more of a game of angles,'' Xavier said. "I'm still figuring out the concept.''

    This next concept, however, is not challenging at all. The rink is a gift and it belongs to the school, courtesy of a trifecta relationship between the Prudential Center, the Devils and United Airlines.

    Weber said the Devils began talking to United Airlines, which had been looking to something in the community.

    devils21ax092_7bd0_9.jpgThe New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center and United Airlines teamed up to surprise Newarks Phillips Academy Charter School students with an outdoor hockey rink to help kick off the beginning of their school year on Aug. 27, 2018. 

    "This is a great way to create a pipeline of perhaps hockey players, but more importantly to let students know we care about them,'' said Monica Slater Stokes, managing director of corporate and governmental affairs for United.

    There were no sleepy eyes with this bunch on the first day. They sat in the gymnasium wondering what was going to happen.

    "I just thought there was going to be some games,'' said Rhia Randolph, 9.

    A group of fourth graders were brought on stage facing a black curtain leading to the play area outside.

    When the curtain opened, kind of like what's behind door number one game show, the students screamed and ran to the rink, grabbing hockey sticks.

    Lorelai Jerome, 9, said the game seemed hard at first, but nothing that she couldn't handle.

    "I liked chasing after the ball,'' she said.

    Her persistence paid off. She scored a goal.

    This idea to make a "big splash'' for students has been in the works for the past two years.

    Jayson Council, chief philanthropy office for Philip's Education Partners, the group that operates the school, said the Devils loved the idea when he talked about building upon the school's relationship with the NHL team.

    "I wanted our students to know that they had friends with the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center,'' Council said. "I also wanted them to have something cool, meaningful and long lasting.''

    In the last two years, 300 students at the school attended Devils' games and have been treated to holiday events at the arena.

    Benjamin Onwukaife, 9, was at one of the gatherings and remembers how the Devils covered the ice so the kids could play hockey like they did Monday.

    "It's a unique sport,'' he said. "You get to skate on ice and use a unique utensil.''

    And, his choice of words is a unique way of using vocabulary to talk about a hockey stick.

    Benjamin plans to play again, but he has a pair of sticks of his own that he says are more suitable for his talent.

    "I'm good at playing the drums.''

    The students didn't seem to mind the humidity as they burned off some nervous first day of school energy by chasing after the plastic ball and each other.

    Third grade teacher Jeanette Arnold was there, too, with them.

    "If we can ask the kids to get out there, then the we as teachers can get out there and run around with them too,'' Arnold said.

    Jorry was a quick learner, making good use of the hour that he and his classmates had outside.

    On his way back to class, Jorry said he scored four goals.

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    Barry Carter may be reached at bcarter@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    It's the first year of a new playoff system. How will it all play out?


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    Here's how many heat waves and 90-degree days we've had in New Jersey this summer, in case you forgot how bad it's been.


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    See which New Jersey hospitals ranked highest in this high-profile survey.


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    The Islamic community and black police officers forge partnership to condemn violence. This puck is for you. Kids get outdoor hockey rink at N.J. school

    Akbar Muhammad has worked with boxing's greatest fighters as an executive with more than 40 years in the sport.

    He's been involved with Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard, George Foreman and Marvin Hagler.

    But Muhammad, a Newark native and former vice president of Top Rank, Inc., has a new alliance and position geared toward challenging a tougher opponent in his city.

    Muhammad is vice president of Father Son Men and Boys, Inc., a 23-year-old Newark mentoring organization that has called on the city's Islamic community to combat violence through an alliance with the Bronze Shields, an organization of African-American police officers in the Newark police department.

    muslimlevifile.jpegLevi Holmes (right), president of the Bronze Shields, talks with Akbar Muhammad, vice president of Father Son Men & Boys, Inc., about a partnership to combat violence between the African-American police officer's organization in Newark and the Islamic community. 

    The two groups joined forces this past Saturday during an anti-violence rally in which Muhammad, who is Muslim, was blunt about what needs to happen in Newark's Islamic community and beyond.

    "We have to turn them in,'' said Muhammad, speaking about criminals, even those who profess to be Muslim. 

    On his way to work in Newark, Muhammad, who operates Akbar Productions, a boxing entertainment company, said it disturbed him to see "so-called Muslims'' shoplifting and selling drugs on downtown city streets.

    "We have to give their names to the police.'' he shouted.

    With support from The Council of Imams in New Jersey, an assembly of Imams from Essex Hudson, Union and Passaic counties, Muhammad said masjids have to become mentoring centers for young people and Muslims must organize their blocks against neighborhood decadence.

    muslimshareeffile[2].jpegImam W. Deen Shareef, convener of The Council of Imams in New Jersey, speaks at the anti-violence rally in Newark.  

    The anti-violence gathering was held at the Clinton Avenue Community Soundstage, a venue for cultural and artistic performances located in a troubled South Ward neighborhood two blocks away from Newark's police headquarters.

    Police cars sped past the area, sirens blaring, while this new alliance solidified a pledge between the police organization and the Islamic community to work with one another.

    Bronze Shields President Levi Holmes said he welcomes the opportunity because the desires of Muslims are the same as African-American police officers, many Newark born.

    "They want men and women in the community to stand together and speak out against violence,'' said Holmes, who also talked about reaching young people.

    "We try to touch you (youth) before we have to touch you in an official capacity,'' Holmes said. "We believe that if we can connect with you, we can partner with you, we can guide you, we can mentor you, we can help you avoid those situations.''

    The work to be done is greater than the crowd size Saturday, but those who showed up to the rally didn't care about the small turnout. To them, the crisis has to be solved from within the community, not by police and politicians.

    muslimeatfile[3].jpegSpeakers seated on stage attend anti-violence rally in Newark. 

    Imam W. Deen Shareef, convener of the Council of Imams in New Jersey, said conscientious folks have to "kill the tolerance for abuses" in order to save the lives of children.

    "We must kill the tolerance for immorality. We must kill the tolerance for criminality. We must kill the tolerance for threatening the lives of our community. These things must die.''

    Now is not the time to be in the background to make a difference, said many speakers, adding their voice to the chorus.

    "It's a travesty how many children we bury because of these streets,'' said Aqeel A. Mateen of United Muslim Inc. in Newark.

    "We have to drill it in their heads that longevity has its place.''

    Adib Shakir, founder of Father Son Men and Boys, Inc., has quietly done his part steering young men toward skilled trades to avoid the streets.

    But the brick mason of 40 years is fed up, too, with what's going on. Shakir was uncomfortable taking the stage to speak, but he came out his comfort zone anyway because the rally was that important to him.

    "The moral life of the people has gone to its lowest today,'' Shakir said. "Until we start addressing the moral life of the people, we're going to continue to have problems in our community.''

    Much of what was said has been covered in many anti-violence demonstrations by groups challenging residents to step up and condemn those tearing down their communities. Unfortunately, however, many fall off when it's time to get involved.

    Muhammad believes this effort is going to be different.

    "This is not a show,'' he said emphatically, speaking loudly into the microphone. "We're out here now and we're committed.''

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