Monday, April 25, 2016

Religious Liberty Claims are Nonsensical

The Little Sisters of the Poor vocations director, Constance Veit, explained in her NYT's March editorial, " Why We're Suing Obamacare , " that she and her order oppose the birth control insurance mandate required in the Affordable Care Act because all methods of contraception be it pharmaceutical or surgical are forbidden under Catholic doctrine.

Under the pretext of religious freedom deprivations, certain closely-held companies i.e. Hobby Lobby ( Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.), and Catholic organizations i.e. Little Sisters of the Poor ( Zubik v. Burwell ) maintain that their beliefs were sullied by The Affordable Care Act. It was elastic reasoning that led the highest court to accept these claims for review because religious belief should play no role in state affairs. This prohibition—separation of church and state—is guaranteed by the constitution's establishment clause as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The five to four decision put forth by Chief Justice Roberts and Associates Alito, Thomas, Scalia (deceased), and Kennedy ( all Catholics ) in favor of the Hobby Lobby owners, damaged precedent, opened the door for more concessions and prompted religious liberty bills to flourish in regressive legislatures.

Georgia's House Bill 757 is an example of a law that would have allowed businesses and nonprofit companies to discriminate against same-sex, interracial, interfaith, and even unmarried couples. All the protesting party had to say is that certain conduct or social mores offend their conscience. Governor Deal vetoed the prejudicial bill

It is conscience shocking that Sister Veit and her order say that they are victims of religious injury yet they have done nothing to help stop the perennial problem of priests raping children. The Altoona-Johnston Grand Jury found that hundreds of children were molested by more than 50 priests in a 40 year time span. If the servants of Christ were to express their displeasure to Pope Francis and to the public then pedophilia would become a rare rather than a commonplace occurrence. Little Sisters of the Poor should read the Diocese of Altoona-Johnston Sexual Abuse Report and reflect that their silence has put children in harm's way.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Justina Pelletier and her Parents will have their Day in Court

The Boston Globe Justina Pelleter "medical child abuse" articles turned the custody case into a cause célèbre. Relentless media questions caused Judge Joseph F. Johnston, Justina's legal advocate, to return her to her parents after separating her from her family for more than sixteen months. Judge Johnston is not named in the malpractice lawsuit but his behavior during the custody proceedings was quite concerning .

The Pelletier family alleges that Boston Children's Hospital and four of its staff violated Justina's civil rights and committed medical malpractice when they challenged Justina's diagnosis and told the Department of Children and Families and Judge Johnston that Justina Pelletier was a victim of medical child abuse perpetuated not by her Tufts physicians but by her parents.

BCH employee Dr. Alice Newton , one of the defendants, was instrumental in persuading Judge Johnston that Lou and Linda Pelletier were unfit parents because they were medically abusing their daughter. Upon investigation Dr. Newton's abuse allegations were specious.

It was Dr. Newton who for all intents and purposes kept Justina from her parents for eight months by incarcerating her in the hospital's psychiatric ward. Some physicians, including Dr. Newton, believe that separating somataform patients from their environment and parents will improve their symptoms. This was an extreme plan for a 14 year old child and especially so since there is scant evidence to support the efficacy of this punitive treatment.

BCH's response to the Pelletier accusations is typical boilerplate:
Boston Children’s Hospital welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier. We are committed to the best interests of our patient’s health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care.
It is likely that Justina Pelletier would still be a ward of the state if not for Lou Pelletier violating Judge Johnston's gag order and revealing the hospital's Kafkaesque practices.

During its investigation the Globe found disturbing similarities of other parents accused of medical child abuse by Boston Children's Hospital. The modus operandi: have access to critically ill children, the reputation to refute established diagnoses and the power to threaten recalcitrant parents with medical child abuse.

Why would a prestigious hospital want foster children with complex medical conditions?
There are two possibilities: the ability to conduct clinical research without parental interference and access to unlimited insurance coverage. Foster children are valuable commodities: Neither they nor their parents are allowed to say no to prospective research projects. Prior to the state
taking permanent custody of Justina in 2013 Justina and her parents asked that she be returned to Tufts for treatment. Judge Johnston said no.

The Boston Globe has provided the Pelletier attorneys with powerful ammunition. What will the discovery phase reveal?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mitch Mcconnell Speaks Nonsense

Shortly after Justice Scalia's death Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said "The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice."

McConnell expounded on his obtuse statement several days later by explaining that:
He [the president] has every right to nominate someone. Even if doing so will inevitably plunge our nation into another bitter and avoidable struggle, that is his right. Even if he never expects that nominee to actually be confirmed but rather to wield as an electoral cudgel, that is his right. But he has also has the right to make a different choice. He can let the people decide and make this an actual legacy-building moment rather than just another campaign roadshow.
McConnell and many Republicans refuse to comprehend that more than 69 million voters decided in 2008 to make Obama president. Their disbelief was compounded when almost 66 million voters returned him to the White House in 2012.

These votes illustrate that the majority of the American electorate trust their elected leader to make all sorts of critical decisions including sending names to the Judiciary Committee for consideration. It is the committee's responsibility to review the President's choices.

To deny a president this right shows the animus that the Republican party has for a black president. Black lives don't matter and neither do black presidential decisions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Police use Black Citizens for Target Practice

August 9, 2014—Ferguson, Missouri—Michael Brown—Eleven Bullets

After the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent protests F.B.I. Director James Comey asked his staff to tell him how many black people are shot and killed by the police every year:
I wanted to see trends. I wanted to see information. They couldn’t give it to me, and it wasn’t their fault. Demographic data regarding officer-involved shootings is not consistently reported to us through our Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Because reporting is voluntary, our data is incomplete and therefore, in the aggregate, unreliable.
The FBI may not have exact figures but the deaths that are known are horrifying. If black lives matter the number of shooting deaths would be recorded.

Since Mr. Brown's death Americans have became aware that police officers in varying scenarios are indiscriminately killing black citizens. They know this because of dash-cam videos, citizens' camera phones and media reporting. Regrettably even when videos show "no cause" shootings, grand juries are reluctant to charge law enforcement when officers testify that they believed their lives were in danger.

For instance Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown (no video tape) persuaded the Justice Department and the Ferguson Grand Jury that he killed Mr. Brown because he was afraid that Mr. Brown was going to kill him. If Officer Wilson's testimony is truthful then why did Mr. Brown fight with the officer through the patrol car window without use of a weapon? This question coupled with Mr. Brown's death belies Officer Wilson's telling.

While pursuing Mr. Brown on foot Officer Wilson fired his weapon repeatedly, emptying the chamber of eleven bullets. Most of the shots entered the upper torso, the fatal shot Mr. Brown's brain. It is obvious from the bullet strikes that Officer Wilson intended to kill Mr. Brown for there were no shots fired to wound the suspect. A leg shot would have brought the suspect to the ground. For a review of the grand jury proceedings please read The Thirteenth Juror by Nelda Holder.

Michael Brown isn't the only case of black target practice across the country. Policemen in many cities have killed black residents under gruesome circumstances. Here are some examples:

November 29, 2012—Cleveland, Ohio—Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams—140 Bullets

Police shoot and kill Timothy Russell and his car passenger Malissa Williams. The reason given for stopping Mr. Russell: The failure of the driver to use a turn signal. Because a nearby patrolman thought he heard a gunshot [it was the Russell car backfiring], 62 patrol cars went in hot pursuit. When the Russell car was stopped, 13 policemen fired almost 140 rounds at the car. Certainly after their barrage Mr. Russell and Ms. Williams were dead but in a fit of passion or prejudice, police officer Michael Brelo threw himself on the hood of the car and covered the windshield with a spray of bullets from his Glock 17. Mr. Russell and Ms Williams were unarmed; each were shot more than twenty times. Some of the officers involved in the killing were fired but most not were punished for their behavior.

October 20, 2014—Chicago, Illinois—Laquan McDonald—16 Bullets

Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan McDonald. The police became interested in Mr. McDonald because of reports saying that he was carrying a knife and had been breaking into vehicles. At least eight police cars were on the scene when McDonald was confronted. Officer Van Dyke fired sixteen bullets into Mr. McDonald's body fifteen of then while he was lying on the pavement. None of the other officers on the scene fired their weapons but did corroborate Van Dyke's statement that McDonald had threatened him. The dash-cam video released months after the shooting because of court order showed that Van Dyke and the other officers lied about the events. At no time did McDonald pose a threat to anyone. Immediately after the video release Officer Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder.

April 4, 2015—North Charleston, South Carolina—Walter Scott—8 bullets

Police Officer Michael Slager was charged with murder after shooting Walter Scott in the back. A passerby used his cell phone to film the altercation and shooting. The video showed that Mr. Scott posed no danger to Police Officer Slager wheras the police said that Mr. Scott had grabbed the officer's stun gun and had attempted to harm to him.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

National Lottery needed for Clinical Trial Participants

Without public discourse or media involvement foster children were placed in experimental research studies twenty six years ago. The practice began at the urging of HHS Secretary Bowen who told state and local welfare agencies in 1989 that they should:
create systems to manage the participation of children in foster care in special medical treatment and experimental trials.
(HHS/ASPE, 1989, p. 60).

The Department of HHS provides limited data on foster children and no information on how many of these state-protected individuals have participated in clinical trials. Across the country, HHS has had access to approximately 400,000 foster children annually.

When asked how many state wards were engaged in federally sponsored research Dr. Young, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told the subcommittee that:
We know that across the National Institutes of Health (NIH) there are a number of clinical trials ongoing and children participating, but I do not have numbers of children in foster care that might be in that group.
It is unlikely that Dr. Young did not have that information he was reporting on the appropriateness of foster children in clinical trials.

To avoid scrutiny the government is mute on the question of how many foster children enter research studies but much can be learned from the government's clinical trial website. It is a certainty that parents will not place their healthy children in experimental studies so where is the government getting its test subjects? The answer: from state welfare rolls.

The following are examples of children in vaccine and infant formula research that provide no favorable outcome to the participants. These children were assuredly selected from state agencies.

  • Clinical trial to assess the safety, tolerance and immunogenic response to Gardasil (human papilloma virus (HPV)) and rLP2086 vaccine in male and female test subjects, ages 11-17. There were 2,499 participants.

  • Evaluation of the safety of FluMist in children and adults. There were 63,061 enrollees.

  • The standard care for children with UTIs is a ten day regime of antibiotics. This study shortened the treatment period to five days.

  • Study to determine the efficacy and safety of CAIV-T compared to TIV. This exercise utilized 8,500 children.

  • The Swine flu vaccine safety test involved 1,357 children.

  • Investigational study to determine the safety of MenACWY Conjugate Vaccine when given to healthy children; 2,907 children participated in the study.

  • GlaxoSmithKline study of two doses of live attenuated HRV vaccines in 529 healthy infants.

  • A study to determine the safety of a new measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. The product was tested on 1,100, twelve to eighteen month old, children.

  • A trial to gauge the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of MCV4, Tdap vaccine and Bivalent rLP2086 vaccine when administered concomitantly to children ages 10-13. There were 2,677 children in the study.

  • An evaluation of the safety and immunogenicity of different combinations of A/H1N1 S-OIV (swine flu) vaccine in 784 healthy children.

  • A trial to determine if an experimental infant formula provides normal growth. Mead Johnson Nutrition expects to enroll 315 infants.

  • A study to evaluate the gastrointestinal tolerance of six experimental milk protein-based powered infant formulas in 270 newborns.

  • New Starter Formulas and controls were  tested on 297 infants.

  • Hydrolysate Formulas and control products were  fed to 195 infants.

  • Amino Acid Infant Formulas and control products were fed to 225 infants

  • Control and experimental formulas were fed to 424 newborns.

  • Investigational formulas given to 168 infants.

There is no need for government subterfuge. It is agreed that there is insufficient parent participation in clinical trials so foster children have been used to make up the shortfall. It is not fair that foster children like prisoners of the past bear the burden and risks of experimental studies. All Americans and their children should have to accept the promise and dangers of research by registering to be test subjects. Once on the registry, names would be drawn and those chosen would be placed in appropriate clinical trials.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The European Union Resolves that Edward Snowden is not a Traitor

Many if not most Americans now consider Edward Snowden a patriot deserving gratitude not punishment for his truth telling. Since June 2013 the U.S. government has condemned Snowden as a traitor, has issued international warrants for his arrest and made it impossible for him to find a safe haven outside Russia.

Because the European Union has determined that Edward Snowden is a whistleblower and defender of international human rights, member states should ignore U.S. warrants and protect Snowden from extradition and rendition. This important decision is making it more difficult for the Justice Department to gain custody of Mr. Snowden.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bureau of Land Management's Performance Rating: Abysmal

The horse and burro herds living on public land in western states double their population every four years—the Bureau of Land Management who has been responsible for their care since 1971 has done little or nothing to curb the birth rate. The Bureau's performance rating: Abysmal.

It is troubling that the federal agency has never created a viable program to stem the birth rate of these animals. Allowing the horses and burros to breed indiscriminately has caused a nightmarish problem for the excess animals and an increasing financial burden for taxpayers. Presently the Bureau has about 50,000 horses and 10,000 burros living in captivity . The Bureau is seriously considering a massive roundup of the horses living in Wyoming which will strain holding facilities. Each horse kept in captivity costs taxpayers $46,000. The annual budget to feed and shelter the animals is $43 million.

Every year BLM officials determine the number of animals that need to be removed or destroyed to maintain the ecological status quo. Getting the animals off the range and into holding facilities is a costly operation and one that injures or kills scores of animals in the process. The government hires contactors to chase the animals via helicopter from their home turf into holding pens from where they then are crowded into trucks for their final destination. Many young and old animals do not survive the marathon stampede and punishing transport.

Some argue that aircraft herding is necessary but that opinion is faulty because there are numerous examples of animals being moved without mechanical intervention. Take for instance the herds of bison living in Utah on Antelope Island, they are rounded up every year by horseback riders. These animals, who can run at 40 mph, are driven for miles into short term enclosures, vaccinated and then released. Some of the herd is auctioned.

Even though the Bureau has been criticized by the news media, specifically NBC , the National Academy of Sciences , the ASPCA and other groups for their lackadaisical birth control policies the government animals continue to breed putting the horses and burros at risk of mistreatment and unnatural death. Case in point, the 1,700 horses adopted by Tom Davis that were slaughtered .

Those interested in recent BLM history should read the Interior Department Attorney General's report on Tom Davis, a Bureau of Land Management horse buyer. Bureau work is overseen by the Interior Department.

Over a four year period '08-'12, Mr. Davis purchased approximately 1,700 horses at a cost of $17,940. During the investigation Mr. Davis admitted that most of BLM horses were shipped to Mexican kill sites and that he made several thousand dollars off each truckload. Until 2012, the Bureau was paying to have horses shipped to buyers. The Bureau for instance paid $140,000 to ship the horses to Mr. Davis. Remarkably, Mr. Davis was not prosecuted, nor were any involved BLM employees fired.

There was a financial relationship between Tom Davis and former Labor Secretary Ken Salazar. It is unknown whether Mr. Davis received preferential treatment in his dealings with the Bureau but circumstantial evidence suggests that he was a favored buyer of horses. It should be noted that no other buyer came close to Mr. Davis's 1,700 horse purchase order.

There is no facet of the BLM program that is satisfactory for the animals or for the taxpayers. Birth control is not routinely administered to the gathered meres according to BLM reports. The holding facilities where the horses and burros live bear no resemblance to the animals' natural environment. Those adopting BLM horses and burros must provide a three-sided shelter for the animals whereas those confined in government-built temporary or long term holding sites are not afforded such protections.

It is obvious from all accounts that the Bureau of Land Management is a federal agency in desperate need of new management. The current Director, Neil Kornze appointed in 2014, has done nothing to improve the way business is conducted— the population of horses and burros continues to expand as does the BLM budget.