Sunday, March 30, 2014

Judge Joseph Johnston and the Justina Pelletier Case


Your special-needs, fourteen-year-old, daughter, is deprived of home and school and is placed in a psychiatric ward for ten months because a hospital review team altered her admitting diagnosis from physical [Tufts Medical Center- mitochondrial disease] to mental [Boston Children's Hospital-somatoform disorder].

The parents disagreed with the proposed psychiatric BCH treatment plan and asked that their daughter be transferred back to Tufts Medical. The answer was negative.

This is the crux of the controversial Justina Pelletier medical child abuse allegation on the part of Boston Children's Hospital and illustrates a dysfunctional Massachusetts juvenile protection system. A recent Massachusetts Department of Children and Families audit confirmed that the agency had failed to protect children in its custody.

If the child's parents had been silent and obeyed Judge Johnston's gag order the circumstances of Justina's usurpation would be unknown. The Boston Globe's extensive reports have raised questions regarding the immediacy and necessity of removing Justina's care from parental control to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, her thirteen-month detention and circumscribed visitations.

Prior to Judge Johnston's permanent custody ruling, Lou and Linda Pelletier were allowed an hour a week with their daughter. Now MDCF has forbidden the family any physical contact with their daughter.

In spite of conflicting expert medical testimony , Judge Joseph Johnston stated in his latest disposition that Justina is suffering from psychosis induced by her parents and will remain a ward of the state, perhaps until her eighteen birthday. Judge Johnston would prefer that the Connecticut Department of Children and Families assume responsibility but the agency has declined.

By all accounts Juvenile Judge Joseph Johnston has not been an impartial overseer. He provides no explanation for his gag order or the state's effort's to charge the parents with contempt of court. Because of media attention, these punitive directives have been withdrawn. Judge Johnston should have appointed a guardian ad litem in February to protect Justina's interests but inexplicably waited until December.

Somatic System Disorder , a novel disputable psychiatric term, is a difficult to access condition yet Boston Children's Hospital staff was able to determine the cause of Justina's illness in less than three days. That quick judgment and the fact that BCH, according to The Boston Globe, has a suspicious history of alleging somatoform medical child abuse should have red-flagged the hospital's credibility before the court.

Judge Johnston has subjected Justina Pelletier to extreme stress—locked confinement—and yet would have the public believe that the parents are responsible for his decisions. The court had considered granting conditional parental custody in December but was stayed by the Pelletiers' "very concerning conduct." Judge Johnston is requiring that Lou and Linda Pelletier undergo clinical and psychological evaluation as a condition for custody.

From the evidence presented it does not appear that Judge Johnston has been acting in Justina's best interests. He disapproves of the Pelletiers obstreperous behavior but that is of no import. Justina has the right to return home and to her Tufts physicians. It is not the family's fault that two medical institutions have a conflict of opinion regarding Justina's course of treatment.

What is the state of Justina's health? Judge Johnston did not address that most important question in his four page critique.

The Globe's reports are "A medical collision with a child in the middle" and " Frustration on all fronts in struggle over child’s future"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Target's Customer Data Theft and the NSA

Is the NSA Aiding and Abetting Cyber Criminals?

Prior to June 2013 various intelligence analysts had surmised that the National Security Agency had, under the auspices of the President's Surveillance Program, gained worldwide entry into personal, government and corporate electronic systems. NSA documents, illicitly obtained by Edward Snowden and published by reputable newspapers, confirmed these suspicions.

U.S. investigative panels determined shortly after the Snowden exposures that the NSA's sweeping surveillance programs should be terminated because the agency's actions violate constitutional protections and have no demonstrable value. The findings by the PCLOB and the president's task team concerning NSA's cryptanalysis capabilities are under executive, congressional and judicial review. In response to these judgments, President Obama is proposing a revision of the bulk data collection methodology. Privacy matters but there are other NSA endeavors that deserve scrutiny.

In the past few months approximately two hundred million American consumers have learned that cyber criminals in 2013 had stolen their PII , and credit/debit card records. The unidentified perpetrators surreptitiously obtained access to Target , Neiman Marcus , Adobe , Michaels [suspected], Sally Beauty and White Lodging payment transactions data. Both Target and Michaels have experienced prior invasions.

Most of the 2013 e-commerce breaches were discovered and publicized by Brian Krebs. Mr. Krebs' latest revelation concerns the California DMV attack. If Mr. Krebs is able to detect fraudulent activity, the NSA should be able to do likewise. Government computer networks have had NSA installed defense systems since 2008.

US merchants and banks have not pursued advanced consumer protection technology because of costs. As it stands, Americans have no personal or financial security.

Documents supplied by Edward Snowden reveal that Congress appropriated $10.8 billion for NSA black operation pursuits in 2013, and included something extra for the agency to search for potential whistleblowers. Overall the 16-member intelligence consortium received $52.6 billion in the defense bill.

In the Snowden cache of government papers are details explaining the Bull Run Project . This top secret NSA initiative was conceived and implemented to defeat all encryption guards including Tor .

It is distressing that this U.S. designed stealth technology is employed by thieves to loot bank accounts and establish false identities. The penetrators are either imitating NSA back-door entry practices or are purchasing these products from the NSA catalogue.

Should Americans trust the status quo and those who govern? That question should be answered by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence and defender of spy agencies' operations. Ms. Feinstein told Congress on March 11, 2014 that the CIA had illegally entered her staff's computers and extracted research regarding government-sponsored torture practices.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Justina Pelletier—Medical Child Abuse—Boston Children's Hospital

On the advice of her Tufts physician, Mark Korson , Justina Pelletier was referred to Boston Children's Hospital on February 10, 2013 and admitted with a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease complications.

In a scant four days the BCH review team determined that Justina was suffering from psychological distress [ somatoform disorder ] induced by her mother and father, Lou and Linda Pelletier. The parents disputed the altered diagnosis and requested that their fourteen-year-old daughter be released and transferred to Tufts Medical Center.

At that juncture BCH officials told the parents that they were no longer in charge of their daughter's medical future because Dr. Alice Newman, the head of the facility's child protection unit, had persuaded the state Department of Children and Families that Justina was a victim of medical child abuse. Justina as of March 7, 2014 remains a ward of the state and is confined to Wayside Youth and Family Support Network in Framingham.

The reports by The Boston Globe: "A medical collision with a child in the middle" and " Frustration on all fronts in struggle over child’s future" raise ponderous questions regarding Justina Pelletier's care over the past twelve months.

At Issue:

Dr. Korson had been treating Justina for more than a year for mitochondrial symptoms before intervention on the part of BCH. The Globe reports that Boston Children's Hospital has a history of medical child abuse claims leading to parental loss of children. The newspaper advises that these speculative child abuse allegations are not unusual in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Other than one short session Dr. Korson was denied consultation with Justina's new custodians and Boston Children's Hospital refused the parents' requests for second opinions. For most of her ten month confinement, Justina resided in the hospital's psychiatric unit and was permitted a supervised hour a week with her parents. This is called therapeutic separation and is a ubiquitous practice in suspected medical child abuse cases.

Family Court Judge Joseph Johnston, Justina's overseer, issued a gag order in November. With no favorable custody resolution in sight, the Pelletiers began broadcasting their daughter's plight. Recently the Department of Children and Families asked Judge Johnston to charge the parents with contempt of court. Because of publicity and the possibility of First Amendment violation challenges the state's request was withdrawn.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has decided to relinquish authority over Justina's care to Connecticut, her home state, and has agreed that Tufts Medical Center is a suitable medical provider.

The term "medical child abuse " was invented by pediatrician Carole Jenny and her psychiatrist husband Thomas Roesler and is similar to the Münchausen syndrome by proxy and factitious disorder diagnoses. Jenny's writings on the subject have prompted growing acceptance for this disorder.

The Münchausen syndrome by proxy was popularized by British pediatrician Roy Meadow in 1977.

Sir Roy Meadow's credibility on the subject of Münchausen syndrome by proxy has been largely repudiated because his testimony was responsible for the wrongful convictions of four mothers accused of murdering their babies. Dr. Meadow was the former president of the British Paediatric Association.

As a result of Dr. Meadow's actions the British Appeals Court ruled in 2004 that mothers could not be convicted solely on expert testimony. Dr. Meadow repeatedly told juries that the infant death cases he reviewed were characteristic of smothering.

Dr. Alice Newton, the head of BCH's child protection team and primary advocate for emergency state action told state investigators that she was troubled that Justina had received numerous medical procedures especially the Tufts cecostomy button in 2012. This is a curious criticism on the part of Dr. Newton in that Boston Children's Hospital recommends and performs cecostomy surgery.

The 1970 founder of BCH's child protection unit, Dr. Eli Newberger, says that there is too often a rush to judgement in medical child abuse allegations. His areas of concern: board-certified child protection specialists wielding enormous and unchecked power in and out of the courtroom, child welfare agencies being too deferential to medical opinions and states' efforts to punish mothers for their opposing points of view.

When charges of abuse are levied they target the child's caregivers, not the medical providers. How can it be that hospitals and doctors have been immune from medical child abuse prosecution when they are coparty to the alleged crime?

A child's guardian may deceive pediatricians regarding symptoms but clinical tests, x rays and scans should reveal deceptions. Medical child abuse convictions disclose that most victims received long term inappropriate and dangerous treatment recommended by their physicians.

Ryan Baldwin—Medical Child Abuse—North Carolina Department of Social Services

It will never be known how many parents across the country have been subjected to false medical endangerment charges but the story of North Carolina teenager Ryan Baldwin bears a striking resemblance to the Pelletier case.

As detailed by the Mountain Xpress in 2010, the NC Department of Social Services accused Lisa Baldwin, Ryan's mother, of medical neglect. On that pretext the state revoked parental rights, placed Ryan in several foster care venues and denied him family contact. It has been determined that the NC Department of Social Services acted irresponsibly in the Baldwin case because Ryan was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.