FDA Finds Monsanto’s Weed Killer In U.S. Honey

September 17, 2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/fda-finds-monsantos-weed_b_12008680.html

The Food and Drug Administration, under public pressure to start testing samples of U.S. food for the presence of a pesticide that has been linked to cancer, has some early findings that are not so sweet.

In examining honey samples from various locations in the United States, the FDA has found fresh evidence that residues of the weed killer called glyphosate can be pervasive – found even in a food that is not produced with the use of glyphosate. All of the samples the FDA tested in a recent examination contained glyphosate residues, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States.

Glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used weed killer in the world, and concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Other international scientists have raised concerns about how heavy use of glyphosate is impacting human health and the environment.

Records obtained from the FDA, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, detail a range of revelations about the federal government’s efforts to get a handle on these rising concerns. In addition to honey, the records show government residue experts discussing glyphosate found in soybean and wheat samples, “glyphosate controversies,” and the belief that there could be “a lot of violation for glyphosate” residues in U.S. crops.

Even though the FDA annually examines foods for residues of many pesticides, it has skipped testing for glyphosate residues for decades. It was only in February of this year that the agency said it would start some glyphosate residues analysis. That came after many independent researchers started conducting their own testing and found glyphosate in an array of food products, including flour, cereal, and oatmeal. The government and Monsanto have maintained that any glyphosate residues in food would be minimal enough to be safe. But critics say without robust testing, glyphosate levels in food are not known. And they say that even trace amounts may be harmful because they are likely consumed so regularly in many foods.

The residue issues are coming into the spotlight at the same time that the EPA is completing a risk assessment to determine if use of this top-selling herbicide should be limited. The agency has scheduled public meetings on the matter Oct. 18-21 in Washington. The EPA’s risk assessment report was initially due out in 2015, but still has not been finalized. The agency now says it will be completed in “spring 2017.”

In the records released by the FDA, one internal email describes trouble locating honey that doesn’t contain glyphosate: “It is difficult to find blank honey that does not contain residue. I collect about 10 samples of honey in the market and they all contain glyphosate,” states an FDA researcher. Even “organic mountain honey” contained low concentrations of glyphosate, the FDA documents show.

According to the FDA records, samples tested by FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem showed residue levels at 107 ppb in samples the FDA associated with Louisiana-based Carmichael’s Honey; 22 ppb in honey the FDA linked to Leighton’s Orange Blossom Honey in Florida and residues at 41 ppb in samples the FDA associated with Iowa-based Sue Bee Honey, which is marketed by a cooperative of American beekeepers as “pure, all-natural” and “America’s Honey.” Customers “can be assured that Sue Bee Honey is 100% pure, 100% all-natural and 100% American,” the Sioux Honey Association states.

In a Jan. 8, 2016 email Chamkasem pointed out to fellow FDA scientists that the EU tolerance level is 50 ppb and there is no amount of glyphosate allowed at all in honey in the United States. But Chris Sack, an FDA chemist who oversees the agency’s pesticide residue testing, responded by reassuring Chamkasem and the others that the glyphosate residues discovered are only “technically a violation.”

The bee farmers are not breaking any laws; rather glyphosate is being introduced by the bees,” Sack wrote in response. “While the presence of glyphosate in honey is technically a violation, it is not a safety issue.

Sack said the EPA had been “made aware of the problem” and was expected to set tolerance levels for honey. Once tolerance levels are set by EPA – if they are set high enough – the residues would no longer be a violation. When contacted this week, the EPA said there are currently no pending requests to set tolerance levels for glyphosate in honey. But, the agency also said: “there is no dietary risk concern from exposure to glyphosate residues in honey at this time.”

Sioux Honey Vice President Bill Huser said glyphosate is commonly used on farm fields frequented by bees, and the pesticide travels back with the bees to the hives where the honey is produced.

“The industry doesn’t have any control over environmental impacts like this,” Huser said. Most of Sue Bee’s honey comes from bees located near clover and alfalfa in the upper Midwest, he said. Beekeepers located in the South would have honeybees close to cotton and soybean fields. Alfalfa, soybeans and cotton are all genetically engineered to be sprayed directly with glyphosate.

The FDA results are not the first to find glyphosate in honey. Sampling done in early 2015 by the scientific research company Abraxis found glyphosate residues in 41 of 69 honey samples with glyphosate levels between 17 and 163 ppb, with the mean average being 64 ppb.

Bee keepers say they are innocent victims who see their honey products contaminated simply because they might be located within a few miles of farms where glyphosate is used.

“I don’t understand how I’m supposed to control the level of glyphosate in my honey when I’m not the one using Roundup,” one honey company operator said. “It’s all around me. It’s unfair.”

The FDA did not respond to a question about the extent of its communications with Monsanto regarding residue testing, but the records released show that Monsanto has had at least some interaction with the FDA on this issue. In April of this year, Monsanto’s international regulatory affairs manager Amelia Jackson-Gheissari emailed FDA asking to set up a time to talk about “enforcement of residue levels in the USA, particularly glyphosate.”

The FDA routinely looks for residues of a number of commonly used pesticides but not glyphosate. The look for glyphosate this year is considered a “special assignment” and came after the agency was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2014 for failing to test for glyphosate.

The FDA has not released formal results of its testing plans or the findings, but Sack made a presentation in June to the California Specialty Crops Council that said the agency was analyzing 300 samples of corn; 300 samples of soy; and 120 samples each of milk and eggs. He described some partial results achieved through April that showed glyphosate levels found in 52 samples of corn and 44 samples of soybeans but not above legally allowed levels. The presentation did not mention honey. The presentation also stated that glyphosate testing at the FDA will be expanded to “routine screening.”

The USDA also will start testing for glyphosate, but not until next year, according to information the agency gave to the nonprofit group Beyond Pesticides in a meeting in Washington in January. Documents obtained through FOIA show a plan to test in syrups and oils in 2017.

Soybeans and Wheat

Like the FDA, the USDA has dragged its feet on testing. Only one time, in 2011, has the USDA tested for glyphosate residues despite the fact that the agency does widespread testing for residues of other less-used pesticides. In what the USDA called a “special project” the agency tested 300 soybean samples for glyphosate and found more than 90 percent – 271 of the samples – carried the weed killer residues. The agency said then that further testing for glyphosate was “not a high priority” because glyphosate is considered so safe. It also said that while residues levels in some samples came close to the very high levels of glyphosate “tolerance” established by EPA, they did not exceed those levels.

Both the USDA and the FDA have long said it is too expensive and is unnecessary to test for glyphosate residues. Yet the division within the USDA known as the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has been testing wheat for glyphosate residues for years because many foreign buyers have strong concerns about glyphosate residues. GIPSA’s testing is part of an “export cargo sampling program,” documents obtained from GIPSA show. Those tests showed glyphosate residues detected in more than 40 percent of hundreds of wheat samples examined in fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The levels vary, the data shows. GIPSA has also been helping FDA access soybeans to test. In a May 2015 email, GIPSA chemist Gary Hinshaw told an FDA food safety official that “it isn’t difficult to find soybeans containing glyphosate.” In a December 7, 2015 email from FDA chemist Terry Councell to Lauren Robin, also a chemist and an FDA consumer safety officer, Councell said that glyphosate was present even in processed commodities, though “way below tolerance.”

The fact that the government is aware of glyphosate residues in food, but has dragged its feet on testing for so long, frustrates many who are concerned about the pesticide.

“There is no sense of urgency around these exposures that we live with day in and day out,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

Freedom Debt Relief, Behind The Hype

September 14, 2016

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2010/07/freedom-debt-relief/index.htm

The spokesman says you can “reduce your debt by up to 50 percent and make one low monthly payment,” in a TV ad for Freedom Debt Relief. The company says it can help you eliminate debt in as little as 24 to 48 months without credit counseling or declaring bankruptcy. Instead, it will negotiate with your creditors to reduce the amount you owe. But according to a recent lawsuit filed against the company, many people who signed on with Freedom Debt Relief increased their debt loads; some declared bankruptcy.

A lawsuit claimed FDR’s promised debt reductions fell far short of 50 percent.

The real deal

Freedom Debt Relief (FDR) claims to be a leader in the debt-settlement industry and says it has helped consumers erase more than $500 million in debt since 2003. (FDR is also an umbrella group that includes Bills.com, Freedom Financial Network, Freedom Tax Relief, and several others.) It operates like other settlement companies often do. Customers deposit about 15 percent of the amount they owe into a bank account and give FDR power of attorney so that it can access the money to settle their debts.

A 2009 lawsuit brought by the district attorney’s office in San Mateo, Calif., charged that the company often “did not even contact all of the consumers’ creditors to negotiate a settlement.” After months of being told FDR was settling their accounts, many consumers found that creditors had sent their accounts to a collection agency or had initiated legal actions against them, the suit alleged. It also charged that many clients never finished the debt-relief program, even after months or years. But Freedom Debt Relief continued to charge them for administrative and service fees for about the first 18 months the accounts were open. In addition, the suit said, customers who wanted to find out the status of their settlements were often rebuffed by the company, and some were denied the money-back guarantee it advertises.

To settle the lawsuit, FDR agreed to pay the San Mateo County district attorney’s office and the California Department of Corporations $450,000 in fees and court costs and $500,000 in refunds to customers without admitting wrongdoing.

As a result of the suit, an earlier complaint by the California Department of Corporations alleging that FDR operated in the state for seven years without a license, in violation of a 2002 desist and refrain order, was withdrawn. FDR has also been forced to refund money to customers in Colorado and Rhode Island. And New York’s attorney general is investigating FDR and 13 other debt-settlement firms.

The bottom line

People who are deep in debt should first talk with each creditor to see if it has a plan for hardship cases that might allow them to reduce their payments. If collection agencies are calling, try to negotiate a reduction in principal, which is what a debt-resolution company promises to do. If you’re successful, you may have to pay taxes on the total that was forgiven.

If you can’t handle negotiating with creditors on your own, find a nonprofit credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, at nfcc.org, or by calling 800-388-2227.

If those strategies don’t work, you may want to declare bankruptcy. Contact the American Bankruptcy Institute (www.abiworld.org) or the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (nacba.org) to find an attorney who can help you.

This article appeared in Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

Germany to tell people to stockpile food and water in case of attacks: FAS

August 23, 2016

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-security-stockpiling-idUSKCN10W0MJ

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to tell citizens to stockpile food and water in case of an attack or catastrophe, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

Germany is currently on high alert after two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager last month. Berlin announced measures earlier this month to spend considerably more on its police and security forces and to create a special unit to counter cyber crime and terrorism.

“The population will be obliged to hold an individual supply of food for ten days,” the newspaper quoted the government’s “Concept for Civil Defence” – which has been prepared by the Interior Ministry – as saying.

The paper said a parliamentary committee had originally commissioned the civil defense strategy in 2012.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the plan would be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday and presented by the minister that afternoon. He declined to give any details on the content.

People will be required to stockpile enough drinking water to last for five days, according to the plan, the paper said.

The 69-page report does not see an attack on Germany’s territory, which would require a conventional style of national defense, as likely.

However, the precautionary measures demand that people “prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten our existence and cannot be categorically ruled out in the future,” the paper cited the report as saying.

It also mentions the necessity of a reliable alarm system, better structural protection of buildings and more capacity in the health system, the paper said.

A further priority should be more support of the armed forces by civilians, it added.

Germany’s Defence Minister said earlier this month the country lay in the “crosshairs of terrorism” and pressed for plans for the military to train more closely with police in preparing for potential large-scale militant attacks.

 

My views on how the media are treating two grieving parents

August 2, 2016

As you know I rarely interject in my blog postings, I only state FACT.

Below are experts from articles about how biased the Lame Stream Media is.  I have not decided on WHOM I will vote for, BUT based on what I’ve read of the Benghazi Papers AND the FBI’s own words it will NOT be Hillary.  Enough Said.

THIS posting is about how the media is treating these two grieving families.  All I have to say is:

  1. Humayun Kahn VOLUNTEERED to join the Military and defend the United States and the Constitution, as military personnel he KNEW that he may have to pay the ULTIMATE sacrifice.
  2. Ambassador Chris Stevens was an Ambassador who represents the interests of the United States in the country they are assigned.  The are NOT expected to give their LIFE for their country as it is a DIPLOMATIC post.

Can you see the difference?

There is no question that Khan, whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, provided a heartbreaking moment in Philadelphia. Trump had nothing to do with his son’s wartime death, of course, but Khan took his proposed temporary ban on Muslim immigrants and used it to question whether the candidate has even read the Constitution (which Trump says he has).

The media have given this man and his wife an enormous platform—in a way they conspicuously declined to do when Patricia Smith blamed Hillary Clinton at the Republican convention for the death of her son in Benghazi.

Khan’s speech got a writeup on the front page of the New York Times. On Sunday he was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” calling Trump, among other things, a “black soul.” Yesterday it was the “Today” show, “Morning Joe” and “New Day.”

The New York Times is calling it “one of the biggest crises of his campaign,” saying it’s “too soon to say how severe the damage to Mr. Trump might be, but the clash has already entangled him in a self-destructive, dayslong argument with sympathetic accusers who are portraying him as a person of unredeemable callousness.”

The paper did add that “he has proved remarkably resilient, getting past controversies that might have sunk other candidates.”

The Washington Post says Trump “drew new criticism from his party” for taking on Khan. “But the Republican presidential nominee refused to back down from his attacks, and a former aide argued that the soldier would still be alive if Trump were president at the time of his service.”

New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, who has called for Clinton to be killed, said this: “Follow the money trail on Mr Khan. Shame on him for using his Warrior son, who made the Ultimate sacrifice as a pawn.”

Patricia Smith drew little coverage for her speech attacking Clinton in Cleveland. That may be in part because she had repeatedly made the same allegations in television interviews. But Smith also drew criticism for bringing up Benghazi.

“I don’t care how many children Pat Smith lost, I would like to beat her to death,” Mr. Shoals wrote. The tweet was deleted but captured beforehand by news watchdog Media Research Center.

Ms. Smith told a nationally televised audience of roughly 10 million people that she blames Mrs. Clinton for the death of her son, an information management officer with the U.S. Foreign Service at the time of his death.

“Under no circumstances is it okay to invoke violence against women. As outraged as I was by parts of Pat Smith’s speech, to use this kind of language as a means of expressing that feeling was completely out of bounds,” the writer said on Tuesday. “I also completely understand how, regardless of my intent, it was extremely triggering for a lot of people. And for that I am genuinely sorry.”

 

Allen: Q1 would put more gun restrictions on law-abiding Nevadans

July 30, 2016

http://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/voices/2016/06/21/allen-question-1-would-mean-more-gun-restrictions-law-abiding-nevadans/86168552/

As sheriff of Washoe County, I am committed to doing everything in my power to protect your families, your property and your community. I am equally committed to protecting your rights and freedoms as citizens of Nevada and the United States. One of my fundamental principles and promises to the citizens of this county is not to support any legislation that would infringe upon or restrict our Second Amendment rights.

In that light, I would like to express my concerns about Gun Control Question 1, which is on the ballot for November’s election. Largely bought and paid for by billionaire gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg, I believe Question 1 will do absolutely nothing to stop criminals while criminalizing the commonplace activities of many Nevada gun owners.

Armed with the facts, I am convinced Nevadans will defeat this anti-freedom measure.

If Question 1 passes, Nevada’s gun control laws on private transfers will be even more restrictive than the outrageous laws in California. The measure would force anyone who shares, loans or sells a firearm to a friend, or in some cases even a relative, to go through multiple government background checks, paying fees each time. If you don’t jump through all the government mandates, you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,000. A second offense, and you could be a felon facing up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

All the while, actual criminals are free to go about their criminal business, because they will simply ignore the law.

Speaking as a member of law enforcement, I can tell you that if Question 1 passes, it will tax already scarce law enforcement resources without doing anything to make the public any safer.

Law enforcement would be required to investigate law-abiding Nevadans for many commonplace practices they do now. The initiative increases red tape, making it harder for law-abiding Nevadans to defend themselves.

Other states have tried to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by passing laws requiring criminal background checks on private transfers. The results from these states have been underwhelming. Reports out of Colorado and Connecticut have done more to create bureaucratic headaches and issues with noncompliance than increasing public safety.

Renewed calls in Congress for gun bans and more gun control following the Orlando terrorist attack will do nothing to make us any safer if they are based solely on emotion instead of effectiveness. These measures may only make it harder for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves.

Criminals will go around the laws. They always have and they always will.

I ask that you not be fooled by Bloomberg’s gun control groups in Nevada. Question 1 will not make us any safer and will do nothing to address violent crime. Question 1 is simply increased gun control on already law-abiding citizens.

A broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state, investigation finds

July 16, 2016

http://doctors.ajc.com/doctors_sex_abuse/?ecmp=doctorssexabuse_microsite_nav

In Kentucky, Dr. Ashok Alur was examining an infection on a patient’s abdomen when he entered forbidden territory. He told the patient she had sexy underwear. Then, he rubbed her and placed his mouth on her genitals. The patient pushed him away and went to police.

“It was so beautiful,” the doctor told her later, when she confronted him. “I couldn’t resist.”

In Missouri, Dr. Milton Eichmann asked a woman badly injured in a sexual assault if she liked being tied up during sex, whether she was easily stimulated and whether she liked to be urinated on. He then told the patient, who was seeing the doctor for treatment of urinary problems, that he was being aroused.

In California, a patient was leaving an appointment with Dr. Mandeep Behniwal, a psychiatrist, when the doctor put his hand down her blouse, grabbed her breast out of her bra and placed his mouth on it. He then exposed himself and ejaculated on her hand.

In New Mexico, Dr. Twana Sparks for years performed genital exams she said were for screening on ear, nose and throat patients who were under anesthesia and hadn’t given consent, the state medical board said. In Texas, Dr. Philip Leonard fondled patients’ breasts or pressed his erections against them during exams, 17 women reported. In Georgia, a patient who saw Dr. Jacob Ward for a back rash and facial redness said the doctor exposed and fondled her breasts and put his hands down her pants.

In each of these cases, described in public records, the doctors either acknowledged what they’d done or authorities, after investigating, believed the accusations. While the scale and scope of the physicians’ misdeeds varied tremendously, all were allowed to keep their white coats and continue seeing patients, as were hundreds of others like them across the nation.

In a national investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined documents that described disturbing acts of physician sexual abuse in every state. Rapes by OB/GYNs, seductions by psychiatrists, fondling by anesthesiologists and ophthalmologists, and molestation’s by pediatricians and radiologists.

Victims were babies. Adolescents. Women in their 80s. Drug addicts and jail inmates. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

But it could be anyone. Some patients were sedated when they were sexually assaulted. Others didn’t realize at first what had happened because the doctor improperly touched them or photographed them while pretending to do a legitimate medical exam.

Some doctors were disciplined over a single episode of sexual misconduct. A few physicians — with hundreds of victims — are among the nation’s worst sex offenders. But the toll can’t be measured by numbers alone. For patients, the violations can be life-altering. The betrayal even pushed some to suicide.

How do doctors get away with exploiting patients for years?

Some victims say nothing. Intimidated, confused or embarrassed, they fear that no one will take their word over a doctor’s. Colleagues and nurses stay silent.

Hospitals and health care organizations brush off accusations or quietly push doctors out, the investigation found, without reporting them to police or licensing agencies.

Society condemns sexual misconduct by most citizens and demands punishment. A teenage boyfriend and girlfriend in North Carolina were arrested for “sexting” nude pictures of themselves to each other. A Georgia woman was placed on a sex offender registry for having sex when she was 19 with a 15-year-old who lied about his age. A Pennsylvania teacher who had sex with an 18-year-old student was dubbed a predator and sent to prison.

But when a physician is the perpetrator, the AJC found, the nation often looks the other way.

Physician-dominated medical boards gave offenders second chances. Prosecutors dismissed or reduced charges, so doctors could keep practicing and stay off sex offender registries. Communities rallied around them.

Erin Vance, who was sexually assaulted by an Oregon physician while she was under anesthesia, said the doctor should have been stopped long before she was wheeled into an operating room. He’d been reported by another patient years earlier.

“I keep going back to the ‘Do no harm’ aspect of the Hippocratic oath,” Vance said. “I mean, I couldn’t move. I was completely at the mercy of whoever was there, and it turned out that the person who was there was a serial predator.”

RYON HORNE / AJC

Erin Vance was one of at least 12 women sexually assaulted by anesthesiologist Dr. Frederick Field as they lay incapacitated at a hospital in The Dalles, Ore.
Video: Hear in Erin’s own words the impact on being a victim of sexual abuse from a doctor

BRUSHED OFF AS RARE

The Roman Catholic Church, the military, the Boy Scouts, colleges and universities. They have all withered under the spotlight of sexual misconduct scandals and promised that abuse will no longer be swept under the rug.

The medical profession, however, has never taken on sexual misconduct as a significant priority. And layer upon layer of secrecy makes it nearly impossible for the public, or even the medical community itself, to know the extent of physician sexual abuse.

“There just isn’t accurate data,” said Dr. Gene Abel, an Atlanta physician who is a nationally recognized expert in evaluating sexual misconduct by professionals.

The AJC launched its national investigation a year ago after reaching a surprising finding in Georgia: two-thirds of the doctors disciplined in the state for sexual misconduct were permitted to practice again.

Today, after months of unearthing rarely viewed documents and tracking some cases from beginning to end, the AJC is exposing a phenomenon of physician sexual misconduct that is tolerated — to one degree or another — in every state in the nation.

The AJC obtained and analyzed more than 100,000 disciplinary documents and other records from across the country to find cases that may have involved sexual misconduct. Then reporters identified more than 3,100 doctors who were publicly disciplined since Jan. 1, 1999 after being accused of sexual infractions. More than 2,400 were sanctioned for violations that clearly involved patients. The rest were disciplined for sexual harassment of employees or for crimes such as child pornography, public indecency or sexual assault.

Yet many, if not most, cases of physician sexual misconduct remain hidden. The AJC investigation discovered that state boards and hospitals handle some cases secretly. In other cases, medical boards remove once-public orders from their websites or issue documents that cloak sexual misconduct in vague language.

When cases do come to the public’s attention, they are often brushed off by the medical establishment as freakishly rare. While the vast majority of the nation’s 900,000 doctors do not sexually abuse patients, the AJC found the phenomenon is akin to the priest scandal: It doesn’t necessarily happen every day, but it happens far more often than anyone has acknowledged.

‘A DELICATE BALANCE’

Over and over again, records show, predatory physicians took advantage of a doctor’s special privilege — the daily practice of asking trusting people to disrobe in a private room and permit themselves to be touched.

Offenses ranged from lewd comments during intimate exams to molestation, masturbation by the doctor in front of the patient, swapping drugs for sex and even rape. Because many orders are vague or undetailed, it isn’t always clear if a doctor claimed the patient consented. However, the profession says consent is never a defense because of the power imbalance between doctors and patients.

David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP, a support and advocacy organization for people sexually abused by priests, doctors and others, said many Americans view physicians with too much deference and automatic respect.

“We are so reliant on them, we are so helpless and vulnerable and literally in pain often times when we go in there. We just have to trust them,” Clohessy said.

“So when they cross the boundary and their hands go into the wrong places, we are in shock, we are paralyzed, we’re confused, we’re scared. We just do not want to believe, first of all, that a doctor is capable of this , and secondly that their colleagues and supervisors will not address this immediately and effectively when we report it.”

Authorities say they take allegations of sexual misconduct seriously but sometimes compromise to settle cases without going through protracted battles.

Leanne Diakov, general counsel for the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, said medical boards have to consider everything from the state’s need for physicians to the limits imposed by state law. In Kentucky, for example, doctors whose licenses are revoked by the medical board have a legal right to petition for reinstatement two years later.

“It’s always a balance,” Diakov said. “Obviously, the public looks at it and says, ‘Oh my gosh, how are they letting this physician practice.’ It’s a delicate balance between protecting public health resources, protecting patients and acting within the statutory authority that the legislature has given you.”

‘LOST MY JUDGMENT’

Sexual contact between a doctor and a patient, even if ostensibly consensual, is strictly forbidden. In ethical terms, it’s a never event. In a legal sense, it can be a crime. Physicians know it’s a line that can’t be crossed — it’s a prohibition as old as the Hippocratic oath.

Yet, the AJC found, even doctors who molest patients or subject them to bizarre exams for deviant purposes are frequently seen as sympathetic figures in need of therapy instead of predators who must answer to police. They get a diagnosis. They get a treatment. They come back.

Many are cleared to practice again after going to recovery centers where they take lie-detector tests and admit transgressions. They are expected to learn empathy and work through their issues, in some programs through art and yoga and in at least one through equestrian therapy. Others, seen in need only of further education, return to practice after attending weekend “boundary” classes at hotels or college campuses.

Only 11 states have a law requiring medical authorities to report to police or prosecutors when they suspect a sexual crime has been committed against an adult.

Doctors spend years in costly medical schools and training programs. They’re smart. They’re admired. They’re needed. Like the giant banks that were once viewed as “too big to fail,” the nation’s doctors are often considered too precious to discard.

Some of the disciplined doctors interviewed by the AJC expressed remorse. Some felt unfairly targeted by patients hoping to profit from a lawsuit. Others said they were frustrated that professionally damaging reports kept popping up years later, when they viewed their actions as brief lapses in judgment, not a life of misconduct. Most said they had paid dearly for the mistakes.

Behniwal, the California psychiatrist, said the patient who accused him initiated the sexual contact and he didn’t stop himself quickly enough. “For half a minute, I lost my judgment,” he said. Sparks, the New Mexico physician, said she was conducting cancer screening exams when she touched patients, with no sexual intent. But she said she paid a huge professional price because she didn’t have the patients’ consent. Eichmann, now retired and focused on charity work, said he was dedicated to helping his patients and regretted making inappropriate comments.

‘SALVAGE THAT PHYSICIAN’

Some states are apparently more forgiving than others when disciplining doctors in sexual misconduct cases. Georgia and Kansas, for example, allowed two of every three doctors publicly disciplined for sexual misconduct to return to practice, orders on board websites show. In Alabama, it was nearly three out of every four. In Minnesota, it was four of every five.

Nationwide, the AJC found that of the 2,400 doctors publicly disciplined for sexual misconduct, half still have active medical licenses today.

Larry Dixon, the executive director of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, has heard the argument that doctors who engage in sexual misconduct should be barred from practice. He doesn’t buy it.

“If you graduate a class of more than 100 people out of the University of Alabama medical school, the resources that have been poured into that education almost demand that you try to salvage that physician — if it’s possible,” said Dixon, who has led the Alabama board for 35 years.

Stop and think, he said, about how badly many communities need their doctors.

“You do not think so? Then leave Atlanta and go down to a little Georgia town and get sick,” Dixon said. “See how far they have to go to find a doctor.”

‘THE UGLY REALITY’

Office of Dr. Philip Leonard in Austin, Texas. He continues to practice despite accusations of sexual misconduct from 17 women.

When examining cases, the AJC found all sorts of surprising twists allowing doctors to keep working.

Dr. Philip Leonard was a well-respected neurologist in Austin, Texas, when the first report of sexual misconduct came in. After one patient told police in 2001 that the doctor had rubbed his erection against her during an exam, 16 other patients came forward making similar complaints.

“It depended on where he was, but the way I like to put it (is) he led with his penis,” one told the Texas medical board, describing how Leonard pressed against her while seeing her for a head injury.

Yet today the 65-year-old doctor practices without restriction.

The medical board initially decided the complaints were credible and suspended Leonard’s license. But it later changed its mind after one patient’s criminal case went to trial and resulted in the doctor’s acquittal. Because there was no forensic evidence, the case hung on the patient’s credibility, which was attacked by the defense when she testified. The jury never heard about the other 16 women.

“It’s sickening,” said Cathryn Blue, the woman whose case went to trial.

RYON HORNE / AJC

Cathryn Blue of Lockhart, Texas, near Austin, accused neurologist Philip Leonard of sexual misconduct after leaving his office in August 2001. Sixteen other women eventually came forward, making similar complaints to police and the Texas licensing board. Leonard was acquitted in Blue’s case. Prosecutors did not take the other cases to trial.

The medical board reached a deal allowing Leonard to return to practice as long as he saw only male patients for 10 years, a restriction that ended in 2014. He declined to be interviewed for this story.

The physician who served as the board’s president at the time acknowledged that the agreement reflected how the board compromised to reach settlements doctors would accept without costly appeals.

What (Leonard) did was clearly an abuse of his power over these women,” said Dr. Lee Anderson, a Fort Worth ophthalmologist. “But the ugly reality is, what can we actually achieve?”

‘THE RIGHT THINGS’

Dr. Jacob Ward

When the AJC examined Dr. Jacob Ward’s history, it found the physician is still practicing in suburban Atlanta even though he pleaded guilty after being accused of molesting a female patient.

The patient in 2011 told Woodstock police that Ward squeezed her buttocks, pulled up her shirt and felt her breasts and touched her genitals during an exam.

After Ward’s arrest, the Georgia medical board placed him on probation with restrictions that included a sexual misconduct treatment program and supervision and monitoring of his practice. He also was directed to have a chaperone with female patients.

Ward later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery and received two years’ probation.

But documents obtained by the AJC reveal a startling back story: Two other patients had made similar charges against Ward four years earlier and the board did nothing other than write a “personal and confidential” letter to the doctor expressing its “concern regarding exams and patients of the opposite sex.”

Speaking at Ward’s sentencing, the victim in the 2011 case said she had recently learned, on her own, of the previous complaints and that it made her pain even greater.

“How he could still be able to have a practice and see patients right now is beyond me,” the woman said at the hearing.

Cherokee County Judge Dee Morris found the victim’s statement so compelling that he refused to go along with the initial plea agreement, which called for Ward to be sentenced as a first offender.

Ward, who now practices in Canton, declined to discuss his case in detail when contacted by the AJC.

“I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do, per the Georgia board,” he said. “I’m doing the right things.”

‘IT’S FRUSTRATING’

Doctors forced to stop practicing because of sexual misconduct in one state may get a second chance in another.

Alabama revoked Dr. Oscar Almeida Jr.’s license in 2002 after four female patients complained of various improprieties, including fondling and kissing and inappropriate vaginal exams. The Mobile physician steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and fought the decision in the courts, but the board’s ruling was upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004.

A year later, Almeida applied for a Mississippi license. His request was approved, with the State Board of Medical Licensure saying the doctor “would be an asset to the State of Mississippi.” In 2007, Alabama reinstated Almeida’s license. Its order cites his boundary training and says “it would be a great loss to the medical community, and to the public in general, if a physician of Dr. Almeida’s obvious skill and ability would never again be able to practice medicine.”

Some regulators have a dim view of state hopping. Aaron Haslam, a former executive director of the State Medical Board of Ohio, said he grew weary of seeing doctors that Ohio deemed unfit to practice wind up with licenses in other states.

“It’s frustrating now and it was frustrating then,” he said. “We would try to be tough on an individual that we thought had no business practicing medicine and that individual would lose his license and go set up shop in the state right next to us or in Georgia or in Florida.”

‘THE OBVIOUS QUESTION’

Even when sexual misconduct ends a doctor’s ability to practice, investigators sometimes uncover a trail of misdeeds that goes back for years or even an entire career, highlighting a system that shielded them.

Dr. Paul Emerson, a Michigan osteopath, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in 2010 after pleading guilty to a scheme in which he gave out bogus prescriptions in exchange for cash or sex. Three people who received his prescriptions overdosed and died.

When investigators dug into his past to prepare a sentencing memo, they found a long history of sexual misconduct: As an intern at a Detroit area hospital, he drew suspicion for conducting a pelvic exam on a 14-year-old complaining of asthma. In Mississippi, he was discharged from the Air Force after being accused of inappropriately touching female patients, lost his privileges at a hospital for “unprofessional conduct” and was terminated as a prison physician after being sued for sexual harassment by a nurse.

“It is this court’s belief that you simply were finally being caught and being charged with crimes that were perhaps ongoing for a long period of time,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said at sentencing.

In Maryland, the medical board found that Dr. Ramon L. Gonzalez sexually abused female patients, including adolescents, all the way back to medical school in the 1970s. One patient gave birth to his child. But the doctor’s entire history of sexual malfeasance only came to light years later, baffling even those in charge of disciplining doctors.

“The obvious question,” an administrative law judge wrote in 2002, “is how (Gonzalez) was able to practice medicine for so many years and escape any substantial consequences for his actions.”

‘HALF A LOAF IS BETTER THAN NO LOAF’’

In many states, physicians who engage in sexual misconduct are treated or disciplined in private, keeping patients in the dark.

Georgia sometimes uses private consent orders and private agreements, Robert Jeffery, executive director of the state medical board, told the AJC. “Sometimes half a loaf is better than no loaf,” he said, explaining that such orders are used when the board is concerned a public order may not stick if the doctor fights it.

Public orders, he added, may inhibit doctors from reporting themselves or their peers. “If the response every single time is going to be public suspension, public this, public that, then I think what you would end up with is the unintended consequence of fewer reports,” he said.

In North Carolina, a public order involving Dr. Darlington Hart revealed how he had been subject to years of private actions and warnings.

In 2013, the medical board denied his application to have his license reinstated after he had surrendered it in 2011. To justify the denial, the board revealed a history that had been handled almost entirely in private in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Allegations against Hart between 2001 and 2010 ranged from inappropriate hugging to sexual assault. All were dealt with through “private letters of concern” and a “private agreement” that required the doctor to use chaperones, take a boundaries course and submit to regular polygraph tests.

The North Carolina board reversed itself a year later and allowed him to start practicing again.

“Dr. Hart has always categorically and emphatically denied that he has ever sexually assaulted a co-worker or a patient,” said Alan Schneider, the doctor’s attorney.

Schneider said private letters do not constitute disciplinary action and that professional evaluations supported Hart’s denials. He said the evidence supported North Carolina’s decision to reinstate the license.

Jean Brinkley, a board spokeswoman, said the mission of the state’s physician-led board is patient protection, not doctor punishment.

“They tend to look at misconduct and look at what went wrong and what can we do to fix it,” she said. Private letters, she said, are used as a tool to help physicians improve.

As far as the public’s right to know, she pointed out that Hart’s history of private letters and confidential board actions was eventually noted in public documents on the board’s website. “At the very least,” she said, “there is a public record that any current, or prospective, patient has the opportunity to see.”

Dixon, the Alabama board’s executive director, said his board holds out confidentiality as a carrot for those physicians willing to admit their wrongdoing.

Alabama requires those doctors to be evaluated and treated by top experts. As long as they stick with the program, the information stays confidential.

“If you are trying to salvage them,” Dixon said, “you do not ruin their reputation.”

‘SAY SOMETHING’

During his years battling the Catholic Church to get it to stop protecting predatory priests, Clohessy said he learned one lesson well: “Secrecy is the enemy.”

He said he sees that enemy at work today when it comes to abusive doctors.

“This tendency on the part of medical boards and medical officials to err on the side of a quiet suspension or a secret, out-of-court deal, that’s a recipe for disaster,” he said. “Crimes are crimes, no matter who commits them. They need to be reported to and investigated by and prosecuted by the independent professionals in law enforcement. Period. Not a panel of your peers, not by some committee of supervisors and not by other people who have earned the same titles you have earned.”

Vance, who was one of 12 women sexually assaulted by anesthesiologist Dr. Frederick Field as they lay incapacitated at a hospital in The Dalles, Ore., said she found the sweeping nature of the AJC’s findings startling.

“It would be one thing if it was only one incident, but to find out how prevalent it is, is frightening and angering,” she said.

Dr. Frederick Field

Field received a 23-year prison sentence after pleading guilty. Beyond the assaults themselves, another story developed: The hospital, Mid-Columbia Medical Center, knew, or should have known, that Field was dangerous.

Three years before his arrest in 2011, a patient told a hospital administrator that Field fondled her nipples and placed her hands on his penis. Nurses also had notified hospital leaders in a series of memos in 2010 that, because of Field’s misconduct with a nurse, the staff had agreed “to make it a point to not leave anyone alone in Dr. Field’s presence.”

The hospital denied that it failed to act on complaints. Even so, a jury in 2013 ordered the hospital to pay Vance and two other victims $2.4 million in damages.

In a recent interview, Vance said she sensed that Field had kissed her on the lips and pressed her hand against his penis as she was regaining consciousness after surgery in December 2010. However, she didn’t report him to police until she learned of his arrest. At the time of her surgery, she said, she thought she had been dreaming.

“I remember telling myself, ‘It’s a hospital, how could that be true?’” she said.

“I hope people learn from that experience, to know that if they suspect something like that, it’s probably true. Don’t be afraid to say something. It can happen. It does happen.

— AJC staff writers Johnny Edwards and Alan Judd contributed to this article.

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Severeal videos embeded

July 8, 2016

http://abc7chicago.com/news/police-10-officers-shot-3-killed-by-snipers-during-dallas-protest/1418221/

Video Appears to Show Dallas Gunman Shooting Officer at Close Range

July 8, 2016

A SAD day in America!  Obama came out and whined about racism but when it came to 11 Police Officers being murdered he said “lets wait and see”!

http://gawker.com/video-appears-to-show-dallas-gunman-shooting-officer-at-1783320029

 

Sexual assault victims in Wisconsin forced to wait for tests

July 5, 2016

http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/sexual-assault-victims-in-wisconsin-forced-to-wait-for-tests-b99753847z1-385494641.html

Wisconsin’s system for investigating sexual assault cases is forcing survivors to travel long distances and wait for hours to find nurses who can perform forensic exams.

On top of the emotional stress of waiting, the logistical difficulties can make victims give up on getting an exam or cause them to lose time-sensitive evidence. Cases can be lost before they’re started.

The exams — which involve medical attention and evidence collection by specially trained nurses — are provided by hospitals on a voluntary basis. While hospitals can get state funding to cover the exams, there’s a slew of non-reimbursable costs associated with them.

Nearly half of Wisconsin counties do not have nurses available to perform sexual assault exams, according to an estimate by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Many hospitals choose not to offer the exams at all. Others offer them as a charitable service. Officials with Aurora, ThedaCare and Mayo Clinic Health System all said their exam programs operate in the red, relying on foundations and other revenue streams to support them.

While Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said the forensic exams are vital to catching offenders, he acknowledged that the system is relying in part on the generosity of hospitals.

“It has fallen on hospitals and it has been part of their charitable outreach because it’s frankly a money loser for them,” Schimel said.

Marcia Mason, an advocate for victims in Menomonie, remembers a woman who chose not to continue when she was told she needed to transfer hospitals after waiting for two hours at the first hospital.

“She said, ‘No, I’m done. I want to go home and just be with my dog,'” Mason recalled.

A cushy couch, a basket of candy, lavender scents and a TV are thoughtfully prepared in a room behind the emergency department at the Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh. It’s where specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners talk with and comfort victims before they have to climb onto the hospital bed under the cameras.

Nurses there see patients from as far as 80 miles away. Unlike Oshkosh, most hospitals in the region do not offer sexual assault exams around the clock. From an eight-county area, victims may drive themselves to Oshkosh, or, if they decided to report to police, might get a ride in a squad car.

One of the areas patients come from — Green Lake — recently lost its examiner.

After a Community Health Network clinic there became part of ThedaCare, the program was consolidated. The stated goal was to create a stronger hub in Appleton that would be more reliable than the sporadic availability there had been at other locations, said Jennifer Fredriksen, who is helping to reorganize the program.

“The ideal world would be we meet the victims wherever they present, but we don’t have the coverage to do that right now,” Fredriksen said.

Fredriksen said ThedaCare would need 51 examiners to provide full coverage at each of its campuses. It has seven, with nine more in training. Victims from Green Lake and other locations are directed to the Appleton hub or a different hospital system like Aurora.

Victim advocates in Green Lake are concerned about the change.

“It’s hard to report a sexual assault. If someone’s brave enough to make that first step and be told they now need to drive 45 minutes away and disclose to another complete stranger — you talk about how difficult that is,” said Courtney Kolb, a case manager with the sexual abuse center for Green Lake County. “The bravery of coming forward is all lost.”

Patti Crump, a detective for Green Lake County, said in addition to the strain on the victim, traveling is bad for evidence collection and building a potential case against an attacker.

“It’s just not a good practice,” Crump said. “The more time that passes, the quicker you can lose evidence. How do you tell a victim they can’t go to the bathroom?

Fredriksen said ThedaCare will be re-evaluating its system after giving it a go with the new central hub. She said it may consider reinstating examiners at other locations, but she said she worried about nurses falling out of practice and competency in areas where populations are sparser and sexual assault cases are rare.

This lack of practice is often cited as a reason for the low supply and high turnover of examiners in rural areas. Only about half of nurses who are trained as examiners stick with it for a full year, according to the state Department of Justice.

“Once a nurse feels she’s not doing a good enough job, they would rather not do it than do it poorly,” said Jennifer Pierce-Weeks, CEO of the International Association of Forensic Nurses.

Brenda Doolittle, who coordinates Aurora’s program in Oshkosh, said she can understand why nurses would leave the job if not well supported and trained.

“When you’re taking care of people that constantly need emotional and physical help from a traumatic event, that can reflect on the caregiver and be hard on them,” Doolittle said. “It takes a special person, a special nurse to want to do something like this.”

Doolittle said it’s vital for sexual assault nurses to have access to continual training on the job — something she is able to provide in a coordinator position. As she packaged up a urine test at the hospital in May, she greeted forensic nurse Eve Baker, who wanted some practice on a new camera for exams.

“I’m a ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’ type of person,” Baker said. “If I didn’t come in here, I don’t think I would be serving my patients well.”

There a few ways advocates say Wisconsin could expand the number of nurses with specialized training and provide more exams:

■Employ program coordinators. Coordinators like Doolittle can help nurses keep their skills fresh, ensure the hospital adapts to new technology, and check in with nurses on their own feelings after providing exams.

■Offer refresher courses. To prevent nurses from falling out of practice, IAFN recommends sending nurses to refresher courses where they can practice performing exams on real people. The state Department of Justice does not offer these courses.

Ask nurses to travel, and compensate them. Rather than asking victims to travel to meet examiners, hospitals could ask nurses to travel to meet victims at whichever clinic location is closest to them. The state compensates hospitals for the time nurses spend performing exams but not for time spent on-call or traveling to an exam location.

While Pierce-Weeks said she would like to see more hospitals “stepping up” to better support their examiners, there are also ways that federal and state dollars could contribute.

Acknowledging that the state relies on hospitals making the costly choice to support these programs, Schimel said he thinks some responsibility should ultimately fall with the criminal justice system to make sure exams are available.

“It is up to our criminal justice system to demand that this be available to everyone, and I think the state has a role in making sure resources are available throughout the state regardless of where you live,” Schimel said. “But it’s easier said than done.”

Schimel said he would look at the possibility of securing federal grant money to cover transportation costs of sending nurses to convenient locations for victims.

While he has confidence in the quality of the programs that do exist, Schimel said he thinks the state needs to ensure that they are widely available.

“This is important from a perspective of a victim who deserves justice, and the prevention of future victims,” Schimel said. “If an offender gets away with an act like this, they do it again.”

Select Committee on Benghazi Releases Proposed Report

June 29, 2016

READ the actual report!

http://benghazi.house.gov/NewInfo

81 New Witnesses, 75,000 New Pages of Documents Reveal Significant New Information,

Fundamentally Changes the Public’s Understanding of the 2012 Terrorist Attacks that Killed Four Americans

Washington, D.C. – Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) released the following statement after the committee’s Majority released a mark of its investigative report:

“Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were heroes who gave their lives in service to our country. Their bravery and the courageous actions of so many others on the ground that night should be honored.

“When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done.

“Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions. You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.”

The committee’s proposed report is just over 800 pages long and is comprised of five primary sections and 12 appendices. It details relevant events in 2011 and 2012.

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:

  • Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]
  • With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.” [pg. 115]
  • The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
  • A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]
  • None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines. [pg. 150]
  • The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]

Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way. That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans, and while the administration had made excuses and blamed the challenges posed by time and distance, the truth is that they did not try.”

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why. Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part II:

  • Five of the 10 action items from the 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video, but no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video at the time the meeting took place. The State Department senior officials at the meeting had access to eyewitness accounts to the attack in real time. The Diplomatic Security Command Center was in direct contact with the Diplomatic Security Agents on the ground in Benghazi and sent out multiple updates about the situation, including a “Terrorism Event Notification.” The State Department Watch Center had also notified Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills that it had set up a direct telephone line to Tripoli. There was no mention of the video from the agents on the ground. Greg Hicks—one of the last people to talk to Chris Stevens before he died—said there was virtually no discussion about the video in Libya leading up to the attacks. [pg. 28]
  • The morning after the attacks, the National Security Council’s Deputy Spokesperson sent an email to nearly two dozen people from the White House, Defense Department, State Department, and intelligence community, stating: “Both the President and Secretary Clinton released statements this morning. … Please refer to those for any comments for the time being. To ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day, Ben Rhodes will host a conference call for USG communicators on this chain at 9:15 ET today.” [pg. 39]
  • Minutes before the President delivered his speech in the Rose Garden, Jake Sullivan wrote in an email to Ben Rhodes and others: “There was not really much violence in Egypt. And we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’” [pg. 44]
  • According to Susan Rice, both Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe prepared her for her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows following the attacks. Nobody from the FBI, Department of Defense, or CIA participated in her prep call. While Rhodes testified Plouffe would “normally” appear on the Sunday show prep calls, Rice testified she did not recall Plouffe being on prior calls and did not understand why he was on the call in this instance. [pg.98]
  • On the Sunday shows, Susan Rice stated the FBI had “already begun looking at all sorts of evidence” and “FBI has a lead in this investigation.” But on Monday, the Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs sent an email stating: “McDonough apparently told the SVTS [Secure Video Teleconference] group today that everyone was required to ‘shut their pieholes’ about the Benghazi attack in light of the FBI investigation, due to start tomorrow.” [pg. 135]
  • After Susan Rice’s Sunday show appearances, Jake Sullivan assured the Secretary of the State that Rice “wasn’t asked about whether we had any intel. But she did make clear our view that this started spontaneously and then evolved.” [pg. 128]
  • Susan Rice’s comments on the Sunday talk shows were met with shock and disbelief by State Department employees in Washington. The Senior Libya Desk Officer, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, wrote: “I think Rice was off the reservation on this one.” The Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, responded: “Off the reservation on five networks!” The Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, wrote: “WH [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.” [pg. 132]
  • The CIA’s September 13, 2012, intelligence assessment was rife with errors. On the first page, there is a single mention of “the early stages of the protest” buried in one of the bullet points. The article cited to support the mention of a protest in this instance was actually from September 4. In other words, the analysts used an article from a full week before the attacks to support the premise that a protest had occurred just prior to the attack on September 11. [pg. 47]
  • A headline on the following page of the CIA’s September 13 intelligence assessment stated “Extremists Capitalized on Benghazi Protests,” but nothing in the actual text box supports that title. As it turns out, the title of the text box was supposed to be “Extremists Capitalized on Cairo Protests.” That small but vital difference—from Cairo to Benghazi—had major implications in how people in the administration were able to message the attacks. [pg. 52]

Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“Obama Administration officials, including the Secretary of State, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Rather than tell the American people the truth, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-06) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“In the days and weeks after the attacks, the White House worked to pin all of the blame for their misleading and incorrect statements on officials within the intelligence community, but in reality, political operatives like Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe were spinning the false narrative and prepping Susan Rice for her interviews.”

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part III:

  • During deliberations within the State Department about whether and how to intervene in Libya in March 2011, Jake Sullivan listed the first goal as “avoid[ing] a failed state, particularly one in which al-Qaeda and other extremists might take safe haven.” [pg. 9]
  • The administration’s policy of no boots on the ground shaped the type of military assistance provided to State Department personnel in Libya. The Executive Secretariats for both the Defense Department and State Department exchanged communications outlining the diplomatic capacity in which the Defense Department SST security team members would serve, which included wearing civilian clothes so as not to offend the Libyans. [pg. 60]
  • When the State Department’s presence in Benghazi was extended in December 2012, senior officials from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security were excluded from the discussion. [pg. 74]
  • In February 2012, the lead Diplomatic Security Agent at Embassy Tripoli informed his counterpart in Benghazi that more DS agents would not be provided by decision makers, because “substantive reporting” was not Benghazi’s purpose. [pg. 77]
  • Emails indicate senior State Department officials, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin were preparing for a trip by the Secretary of State to Libya in October 2012. According to testimony, Chris Stevens wanted to have a “deliverable” for the Secretary for her trip to Libya, and that “deliverable” would be making the Mission in Benghazi a permanent Consulate. [pg. 96]
  • In August 2012—roughly a month before the Benghazi attacks—security on the ground worsened significantly. Ambassador Stevens initially planned to travel to Benghazi in early August, but cancelled the trip “primarily for Ramadan/security reasons.” [pg. 99]
  • Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta bluntly told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred with respect to Benghazi. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged multiple times an intelligence failure did in fact occur prior to the Benghazi attacks. [pg. 129]

Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-05) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“President Obama has said his worst mistake was ‘failing to plan for the day after … intervening in Libya.’ As a result of this ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, the Libyan people were forced to make the dismal trade of the tyranny of Qadhafi for the terror of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others. Although the State Department considered Libya a grave risk to American diplomats in 2011 and 2012, our people remained in a largely unprotected, unofficial facility that one diplomatic security agent the committee interviewed characterized as ‘a suicide mission.’”

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“One of the most concerning parts of the State Department’s policy in Libya was its reliance upon the militias of an unstable nation to protect our men and women in Benghazi. These were by no means forces that could adequately protect Americans on the ground, and the State Department knew it. But the appearance of no boots on the ground was more important to the administration.”

Part IV of the report reveals new information about the Select Committee’s requests and subpoenas seeking documents and witnesses regarding Benghazi and Libya, and details what the Obama administration provided to Congress, what it is still withholding, and how its serial delays hindered the committee’s efforts to uncover the truth.

Part V proposes 25 recommendations for the Pentagon, State Department, Intelligence Community and Congress aimed at strengthening security for American personnel serving abroad and doing everything possible to ensure something like Benghazi never happens again, and if it does, that we are better prepared to respond, the majority make a series of recommendations.

The Select Committee intends to convene a bipartisan markup to discuss and vote on the proposed report on July 8, 2016. All members of the committee will have the opportunity to offer changes in a manner consistent with the rules of the House.

Letter from Chairman Trey Gowdy to Speaker Paul Ryan

The Benghazi Committee’s Investigation – By the Numbers

Below is the full report with links to PDF files of each section.

Report of the Select Committee on
the Events Surrounding the 2012
Terrorist Attack in Benghazi

 

Illustrations

 

  1. Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi

 

  1. Internal and Public Government Communications about the Terrorist

Attacks in Benghazi

 

III. Events Leading to the Terrorist Attacks in Benghazi

 

  1. Compliance with Congressional Investigations

 

  1. Recommendations

 

Appendix A: Resolution Establishing the Select Committee on the

Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi

 

Appendix B: Significant Persons and Organizations

 

Appendix C: Questions for the President

 

Appendix D: Significant Events in Libya Prior to the Attacks

 

Appendix E: Security Incidents in Libya

 

Appendix F: Deterioration of Benghazi Mission Compound Security

 

Appendix G: Timelines of the Attacks

 

Appendix H: The September 12 Situation Report and the President’s

Daily Brief

 

Appendix I: Witness Interview Summaries

 

Appendix J: Requests and Subpoenas for Documents

 

Appendix K: Analysis of Accountability Review Board, House Armed

Services Committee and House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee

Reports

 

Appendix L: Glen A. Doherty, Sean P. Smith, J. Christopher Stevens,

and Tyrone S. Woods

 

Additional Views by Rep. Jordan and Rep. Pompeo

Your Action is Needed NOW!

June 19, 2016

https://act.nraila.org/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=261

The NRA has just learned that Senators Schumer, Feinstein and other anti-gun elected officials are going to offer several anti-gun bills and amendments this week in the U.S. Congress, possibly as soon as today!

These measures are wide-ranging and include an attempt to reinstate the failed federal ban on semi-automatic firearms, commonly referred to as the “assault weapons ban.”

It doesn’t matter that the Clinton gun ban did nothing to reduce crime.  This is about YOUR freedoms and YOUR Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

But it doesn’t stop there.  In fact, one amendment will attempt to strip the Second Amendment Rights from those on secret government lists while another could lead to federal registration of all gun owners.

They’re also planning to push for increased federal funding of anti-gun research.

We must defeat every one of these anti-gun proposals.

What’s obvious is that many who want to destroy our firearm freedoms are using the terrorist attack in Orlando to push their anti-gun agenda.

They’d rather blame you as a law-abiding gun owner than make Obama answer for his failures in the global war on terror.

We can’t let them succeed in this depraved attempt to politicize a tragedy so they can destroy our freedoms.

Please contact your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators immediately and let them know you oppose any new gun control measures. You can call your lawmakers at 202-225-3121 or click the “Take Action” button below.

https://act.nraila.org/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=261

Be sure to share this message with your fellow NRA members and gun owners and let them know this threat is real.  Your action is needed now.

 

 

The Fight for Living Wages

May 31, 2016

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

I need to preface this discussion by pointing out my – and LocalHarvest’s – longstanding commitment to social justice, fair trade, and living wages. Yet, as a recovering farmer who had a business large enough to have employees, I also understand the invisible math that most people never get to see. In the December newsletter we spoke to some of the challenges that US farmers face when competing with cheaper, imported food. If a retailer or a consumer can get a cheaper organic tomato grown for a 10th of the labor costs as a US organic tomato, they just might do that. Now imagine if those US labor costs were to go up 50%?

Building on the momentum of the Fight for $15 minimum wage campaigns around the country, mainly in big cities such as New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, there is now a growing movement to raise minimum wages to between $12 to $15/hour at the state level in places such as New York, Oregon, California, and Massachusetts. Some states are talking about establishing different wages around their state based on the relative costs of living. So in more rural counties, the wages won’t go up quite as high or quite as fast. California, however, is talking about $15 across the state, regardless of location, cost of living, or industry.

Without diving into some of the really hot-button issues around employment, wages, and farm labor, I am just going to share a couple stories and quotes from various people thinking about how a substantial increase in wages (30-60%) may affect the viability of small and mid-scale farmers, particularly those growing more labor-intensive crops like fruits and vegetables. Will farmers have to drop growing specialty crops, the very same ones that we are supposed to be eating for optimum health? For example, winter wheat uses a lot less labor than cherries, but do we need to be eating more wheat?

I know that if our farm had a 50% increase in labor costs that we would have probably scaled down to hire less labor or we would have invested in a better piece of equipment that would have required one person to work it rather than two. Either way we would have employed less people. That may be an unintended consequence of steep wage increases- less employment opportunities.

New York State is talking about an increase to $15, after just implementing a new $9/hour minimum wage last December. That represents a pretty staggering 66% increase in minimum wages. A central New York farmer Tony Emmi was quoted in the paper saying that a $15 wage would cost his 300-acre farm in Lysander almost $200,000 extra a year, a burden that would cause him to hire fewer workers. Another Tony, this one Tony LaPierre of Rusty Creek Farm in Coopersville, has a dairy with 500 cows with a crew of eight full-time and four part-time employees. He said that if the NY governor’s plan to hike the minimum wage comes to fruition, some farms will need to cut back on their workforce and in some cases look to technology to do so. For those farms that can’t invest in modern technology, he said, there is a possibility they will go out of business. Will these large increases in labor costs further disadvantage small and mid-scale farmers because they don’t have the capital to invest in expensive labor-saving technology? For example, an Iowa State University study showed that a robotic milker (called Automated Milking System) cost around $210,000 each. A dairy farmer, unless they bottle and market their own milk, can’t usually pass increased production costs onto their consumers. Farmer LaPierre said that, unlike some other businesses, dairy farmers can’t simply charge more for their milk to make up the difference. Milk is a commodity, with prices set by the market and the federal government.

Another negative impact a large wage increase like those proposed or being implemented could cause is discouraging farms from hiring young people or inexperienced workers. That will not only close another industry from hiring young people (whose unemployment rate hovers around 15%) it will also inhibit new, inexperienced folks who want to get started in agriculture.

“My workers are all worth 15 bucks an hour because they’ve been around,” said Duane Chamberlain, who also sits on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in California. “Starting people out, it would be nice to hire kids at lower wages because they’re not worth it. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Farmer Sarah Wiederkehr of Winter Hill Farm in Freeport, Maine whom I interviewed for this article felt similarly. She said “We definitely would NOT be hiring young, inexperienced labor if we were mandated to pay a much higher minimum wage. We already decided to stop hiring apprentices because we simply cannot afford the time it takes to train newbies. We decided last fall to only hire hourly employees, and ones with experience.”

Another nuance to consider is that farms often provide other forms of compensation, such as free or reduced cost housing, transportation, food, and sometimes child care, health care, or other services. None of these things are taken into account when a city or state passes new wage laws. Although agriculture has a long and sordid history of not providing the best compensation and working conditions compared to many other industries, it also has a history of providing housing of some sort, often due to the rural location of the farms. Will farms be able to afford to continue to offer housing or to fix up and improve their housing if wages go up 30-60%? Farmer Wiederkehr of Maine says that she would also like to offer benefits beyond workers compensation insurance (mandated by her state), but currently she cannot figure out how do so and likely could not if she had to pay a mandatory higher wage.

Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New York (NOFA-NY) understands the need for farm-workers to be more fairly compensated but also understands that farmers have to earn living wages themselves. The current system does not satisfy either. With regards to NY governor Cuomo pushing for increase minimum wages, NOFA-NY states: …”Fairness is an important value for NY’s organic farmers, yet the wages farmers pay their workers range from only $9 up to $20 an hour. Most of the farmers are not earning much more, and farmers in the first 10 years of their farming careers often pay their workers more per hour than they earn themselves.”

The minimum wage is not tied to inflation. It should have been indexed to inflation a long time ago, rather than just raised every now and again based on political whims. Had the 1968 floor of $1.60 per hour been indexed to inflation, it would be $10.90 per hour today, more than 50 percent higher than the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, should some states be raising their minimum wages by double that $7.25 over a few years to make up for decades of political inaction? What price will our diversified family-scale farms pay for these rapid cost increases? And are you, as consumers, ready to do your part by paying higher prices for your food, particularly the labor-intensive healthy foods you should be eating? Not only will food be more expensive, which is not necessarily a bad thing, some specialty crops will be scarcer because some farms will choose to stop growing them.

Kindly,
-Rebecca Thistlethwaite