Posts Tagged ‘family’

GMO apples that never brown could hit stores soon

January 22, 2017

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/health/apples-genetically-modified-on-sale-soon/index.html

Story highlights

  • The USDA approved the GMO apples nearly two years ago
  • Non-browning apples will only be available in Midwest stores for now, company says

(CNN)For a select few apple lovers in the US, a Golden Delicious slice will no longer turn brown as the first genetically modified apples are expected to go on sale early next month.

A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious apples, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada, will hit the shelves of 10 stores in the Midwest in February and March, Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president, told the agricultural news website Capital Press. Arctic’s website lists the apples as being available early this year in some test markets.
Carter said Midwestern stores were the first choice because they seemed like a good fit demographically and in size. He wouldn’t name the stores, stating it’s up to retailers to announce that they’ll be selling the non-browning apples.
“We’re very optimistic with respect to this product because people love it at trade shows,” he said earlier this month. “It’s a great product and the eating quality is excellent.”
Along with not turning brown, the apples should also be crispier in texture — possibly winning over some picky eaters.
Nearly two years ago, the US Department of Agriculture approved the US’s first genetically modified apples.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service granted its approval based on “a final plant pest risk assessment that finds the GE (genetically engineered) apples are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agriculture and other plants in the United States … [and] deregulation is not likely to have a significant impact on the human environment,” as stated in their report.
The Food and Drug Administration is not required to approve genetically engineered crops for consumption. Most companies engage in a voluntary safety review process with the FDA, and Okanagan did that.
The US Apple Association was wary of Arctic’s apple after the USDA approval, but the group has since taken a more neutral stance.
“US Apple supports consumer choice in the apples and apple products they select. Consumers will be able to decide whether to try the new, “non-browning” apples, and ultimately, the marketplace will determine whether there is a demand for them,” state the association on their website.

Browning is natural, but…

There’s nothing technically wrong with an apple that browns.
It all comes down to oxygen being introduced into plant tissue when an apple is sliced, bruised or bitten.
The US Apple association explains: “The degree to which an apple browns depends upon that variety’s natural levels of polyphenoloxydase (PPL) and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The lower the level of PPL, the less the variety will brown.
But Okanagan Specialty Fruits describes the process a bit differently: “Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) found in one part of the cell mixes with polyphenolics found in another part of the cell. (PPO is a plant enzyme. Polyphenolics are one of the many types of chemical substrate that serve various purposes, including supplying apples with their aroma and flavor.) When PPO and polyphenolics mix, brown-toned melanin is left behind,” they state on their website.
When brown, an apple isn’t necessarily rotten, but Okanagan claim the benefits of non-browning apples go beyond the visual appeal and a reduction in waste. The company says stores or producers often use expensive chemicals to delay the browning of apples and many shoppers frown at the idea of chemicals or pesticides on their produce.
The consensus among scientists and nutritionists is that GMOs are safe, but some consumers are still turned off by GMO labels.
Though the apples are only being trialed in the Midwest, the company have faith they will soon become a welcome option elsewhere.
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Chinese government admits one-fifth of farm lands heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic and lead

December 26, 2016

http://www.naturalnews.com/044950_China_heavy_metals_soils_contamination.html

For the past few months, Natural News has been warning the world about toxic heavy metals found in foods, superfoods and dietary supplements grown in China. Our Natural News Forensic Food Lab has produced breakthrough results showing, for example, that rice protein imported from China is significantly contaminated with lead, cadmium and tungsten — all industrial heavy metals.

Some greed-driven promoters of rice protein initially insisted all these heavy metals were “naturally occurring,” but now the Chinese government has gone on the record confirming the truth: China’s farm lands are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals, and this has now been scientifically documented and proven by Chinese researchers and publicly released by Chinese authorities.

19.4% of China’s farm lands contaminated with toxic heavy metals

According to this statement by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in China, 19.4% of the nation’s arable land has been heavily contaminated by toxic heavy metals.

82.8% of the contaminants found on farms are “inorganic” contaminants which include cadmium, mercury, arsenic, copper and lead — all toxic heavy metals we’ve been investigating in foods and superfoods at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs.

This confirms my detailed video explanation where I destroy the absurd “naturally occurring” argument being pushed by importers of contaminated foods and superfoods from China. Click here to watch the video now.

The false argument being made by heavy metals denialists was that when heavy metals are released by industrial smoke stacks, they begin as “pollutants,” but after they settle on farms, they become “natural.” Therefore, the deniers claimed, lead and cadmium in rice protein was “naturally occurring.”

I have personally conducted the scientific research to document cadmium levels at over 2.5 ppm in certified organic rice protein products sold in the USA (and imported from China) as “certified organic.” These levels have been independently confirmed by rice protein manufacturers. None of the lab results published at Natural News have ever been disputed. In fact, they have been confirmed by numerous third-party laboratories.

Now we know why: “China released a report April 17 disclosing that 16.1 percent of the country’s soil and nearly 20 percent of its arable land has been contaminated, largely by heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic. This is the price the country is paying for its meteoric rise over the last 35 years, with little thought given to protecting the environment,” reports the Japan Times (1).

“The latest report suggests that the situation has greatly worsened since the 2006 report, with twice the amount of arable land now being contaminated… Clearly much of China’s soil is contaminated and heavy metals are entering the food chain, with dire consequences for consumers,” Japan Times added.

The BBC chimes in with the headline, “Report: One fifth of China’s soil contaminated.” (2)

Americans being poisoned by toxic heavy metals imported from China

To my knowledge, no one in America other than Natural News is currently sounding the alarm on this issue of heavy metals in organic superfoods and natural products. There are thousands of certified organic proteins, superfoods, herbal supplements and other products being imported into the United States and sold as “organic” even though they are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals.

In my own ICP-MS laboratory, I’m seeing very high levels of lead and cadmium in all sorts of products imported from China, including rice protein and Ginkgo Biloba herbal supplements.

According to the Chinese government, 82.8% of the non-organic produce grown in China exceeds the government’s heavy metals limits. (You have to read the Chinese announcement to get this.)

That means four out of five fruits and vegetables grown in China are so toxic that they’re sold in violation of the government’s own limits!

These are the same soils in which “organic” herbs, superfoods and dietary supplements are grown before they are imported into the USA. And yet herbs, proteins and “superfoods” produced in China can be imported into the USA regardless of their heavy metals content. That’s because neither the FDA nor the USDA has any limits whatsoever on heavy metals contamination of foods. So products that are heavily contaminated with industrial heavy metals are imported into the USA every single day and sold on the shelves of health food retailers like Whole Foods.

Alarming levels of cadmium and lead found in products purchased at Whole Foods earlier this week

As part of my own scientific testing of heavy metals contaminants in the food supply, I purchased rice protein products from Whole Foods in Austin Texas on 4/28. Here are just the highlights of what I found (more details coming on this story in the next two weeks with full lab results):

• “Raw” Protein (Vanilla) at over .3 ppm lead and nearly 2.0 ppm cadmium

• “Truganic” Protein at over .3 ppm lead and nearly 1.8 ppm cadmium

• Grass superfood powder at over .4 ppm lead and over .8 ppm cadmium

• Brown rice protein powder at over .3 ppm lead and over 1 ppm cadmium

I’ve also found Ginkgo Biloba herbs grown in China and sold in the USA to contain over 5.0 ppm lead. (The Whole Foods brand of ginkgo capsules, however, turns out to be very clean with less than .04 ppm lead.)

The debate is over: Foods, superfoods, herbs and organics from China are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals

There is no longer any debate on this issue of heavy metals in products imported from China. The Chinese government has now publicly admitted one-fifth of its farm lands are heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals.

Even the BBC has covered the story, reporting (2):

About 82.8% of the polluted land was contaminated by inorganic materials, with levels noticeably higher than the previous survey between 1986 and 1990… The report had previously been classified as a state secret because of its sensitivity. “Due to long periods of extensive industrial development and high pollutant emissions, some regions have suffered deteriorating land quality and serious soil pollution.”

That this information even came out was nothing short of a political miracle in China. As the New Straits Times is now reporting (3):

Premier Li Keqiang signed a directive ordering officials not to use “state secrets” as an excuse to avoid disclosing information that should be public knowledge. The release of the soil contamination report appears to be a direct result of this directive.

Awareness is rapidly spreading on this issue across the USA, too. Natural News has spearheaded this effort and has already worked with leading rice protein manufacturers to reach agreement on voluntary heavy metals limits for their products.

Companies like Jarrow Formulas, however, have so far refused to agree to those limits. The latest batch of Jarrow Formulas Brown Rice Protein, Lot# 50696014, shows lead at .312 ppm and cadmium at 1.015 ppm with the heavy metal tungsten also detected at significant levels.

Jarrow Formulas, like nearly every other rice protein manufacturer, is right now selling products that contain toxic, cancer-causing heavy metals contaminants. This fact is irrefutable. The Chinese government’s admission that its farm lands are widely contaminated with toxic heavy metals explains where much of this is coming from.

Natural products retailers remain in a state of total denial

The natural products industry, encompassing many independent online retailers as well as brick-and-mortar stores, remains in a state of total denial about the toxic heavy metals they are selling to their customers.

To my knowledge, not one retailer has yet pulled any of these contaminated products off their shelves. Where there’s money to be made by moving products contaminated with heavy metals, there’s one thing you can count on from natural products retailers: SILENCE.

Fearful of a wave of refunds (or even class action lawsuits), everyone’s lips are sealed on this hidden epidemic of heavy metals poisoning. And through this silence, retailers continue to sell contaminated products containing alarming concentrations of known poisons without alerting their customers to the facts.

It seems that every retailer currently selling rice protein in the USA is, knowingly or unknowingly, complicit in this cover-up. The toxic metals they are selling are fully known to cause kidney damage, heart disease, skin disorders, cancer, bone disorders and brain disorders. The lead found in these products is widely known to damage developing brains and lower IQs. Virtually no one in the industry seems to think their customers should be alerted to this fact. To me, that’s disgusting and grossly immoral.

Right now, I believe that every retailer of contaminated products from China has an ethical and social obligation to stop selling contaminated products and warn their customers about products which are contaminated.

Continued denial of this industry-wide problem is highly unethical and possibly even legally negligent. Those who continue selling these heavily contaminated products should be heavily pressured by the health-conscious community to clean up their act!

How the cover-up continues

Sadly, there is no law in the USA requiring herbs, supplements, proteins or other products be labeled with their country of origin.

Manufacturers routinely import raw materials from China, then label them with amazing-sounding descriptions that often mislead consumers.

Case in point: Take the Warrior Food product from Warrior Force, a company I really admire for their positive intentions, by the way. They are also working hard on improving their formula and I expect they will have substantially cleaner product available soon. But their current label on their current product is simply misleading, claiming the product is “NON-TOXIC” and “100% TruGanic” with the claim that it is “a purist, hard-core, quality standard significantly beyond Organic standards, with much more stringent criteria and actual verification via testing that Organic does not have.”

Yet when I tested Warrior Food Lot #31105010, purchased from Whole Foods on 4/28/2014, I found this product to contain:

• .3 ppm lead
• 1.791 ppm cadmium
• Substantial levels of tungsten

On the good news side, the great people at Warrior Force are working hard on new formulations and I expect to see these numbers drastically improve in the near future. Warrior Force has enthusiastically signed on with our voluntary heavy metals limits, and I fully expect they will be one of the first manufacturers to introduce a low-metals rice protein into the marketplace.

Yet, at the same time, I have to honestly and authentically ask how could these levels of contaminants exist in their product in the first place if they have “a purist, hard-core, quality standard significantly beyond Organic standards, with much more stringent criteria and actual verification via testing” as they claim?

It doesn’t add up. Somewhere along the line, someone made a decision that these levels of lead and cadmium were okay for customers to eat. That’s a huge error and it strongly contradicts the stated philosophy of the company. This is NOT okay! If it’s so much better than organic, why does it still contain heavy metals at such levels?

If you bought products from China, take action now

There are all sorts of products you’ve probably been purchasing from China without knowing it. Rice protein is just one, but China also produces a huge percentage of the herbs, vegetable powders, grass powders and even many superfruits sold across the natural products industry. Most of the grass powders sold in the USA, for example, are actually grown in China. Many of the “bulk herbs” sold on Amazon.com and other retailers are also heavily contaminated with toxic heavy metals because they are imported from China.

For example, when I tested Ginkgo Biloba herbs grown in the USA, lead and cadmium levels were near zero. But when I tested Ginkgo imported from China, it showed an alarming 5 ppm of lead, a level that would raise alarm with anyone educated in food contamination issues.

The bottom line in all this? If you don’t want to poison yourself with toxic heavy metals from China, you need to immediately start taking these steps on the foods, proteins, supplements and herbs you consume:

STEP 1) Ask the manufacturer for the country of origin.

STEP 2) Ask the manufacturer for heavy metals lab results for YOUR lot number (printed on every bottle).

STEP 3) Reject retailers that continue to sell heavily contaminated products. Demand that retailers set quality control standards which encompass heavy metals contamination issues.

What levels are okay? A good starting place is the site I created, LowHeavyMetalsVerified.org which offers a generous grading system for heavy metals concentrations. I personally reject all raw materials worse than grade “A.” Many rice proteins sold today are grade “B” which is entirely unacceptable given the huge quantities that people consume (serving sizes are typically around 23 grams).

Right now, just one scoop of contaminated rice protein can expose you to over 15 – 20 times the daily lead limit of Proposition 65 in California. That’s unacceptable. Rice protein companies need to be at grade “A” or better, in my view as a food science researcher.

The good news is that companies are rapidly moving in that direction, and I fully expect to see some cleaner rice proteins on store shelves by this August (and possibly even in July).

Until then, I strongly recommend you switch to some other protein. 365 brand Whey Protein Powder from Whole Foods contains almost zero lead or cadmium, and a brand called “Tera’s Whey” was super clean, clocking in at just .012 ppm lead and .078 ppm cadmium (with zero tungsten detected). These are about the best numbers you’ll ever find.

Life’s Basics Plant Protein Mix (from LifeTime) sold at Whole Foods (Lot #3793) was also remarkably clean for a plant-based protein, turning in lead number of just .023 ppb and cadmium of just .068 ppm. Both are extremely low — among the lowest you’ll find in plant protein.

I’ll be bringing you more official, detailed reports on all this in the coming weeks. Watch for many more explosive reports on heavy metals during the month of May.

See all lab results we’ve published so far at:
http://labs.naturalnews.com

Sources for this article include:
(1) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/05/…

(2) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-270…

(3) http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/chin…

Also see this report from China (PDF):
http://www.mep.gov.cn/gkml/hbb/qt/201404/W02…

SCHS Craft Show & Herndon Craft Show this weekend!

December 2, 2016

SCHS’s hours are 9am to 3pm.

Herndon’s hours are 10am to 4pm.

We are rolling out our NEW

Essential Oil Starter Kit

Set of 5 of the most useful oils

Lavender, Rosemary, Tea Tree,

Eucalyptus & Peppermint

Remember every purchase of $49.99 or more receives a free bar of soap!

Juanita Broaddrick Provides Never Before Published Details On Bill Clinton’s Rape

October 10, 2016

Juanita Broaddrick has told this reporter that she was raped not once but twice by Bill Clinton during the same infamous encounter in 1978.

Broaddrick has rarely discussed the actual details of the alleged incident due to the graphic and traumatic nature of the event.

In August 2000, Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays told a local talk show that based on evidence to which he was privy from the Clinton impeachment trial, he found that Broaddrick had “disclosed that she had been raped, not once, but twice” to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators.

“I believed that he had done it,” Shays continued. “I believed her that she had been raped 20 years ago. And it was vicious rapes, it was twice at the same event.”

Now Broaddrick has for the first time publicly confirmed her account that Clinton raped her twice.

She said that after the first round, in which the much stronger Clinton had her pinned down for a period of time, she was relieved when she thought it was over and was hoping he would leave the room.

Instead, she says Clinton turned to her and told her words to the effect of “I am going to do it again.”

And then he did, she says.

Out of sensitivity to the nature of the alleged event and its impact on her, this reporter did not ask Broaddrick to further describe the scene during our latest interview.

However, in an interview that broke nearly a decade of media silence, in November 2015 Broaddrick recounted some of the details to me.

Broaddrick’s story begins when she was a nursing home administrator volunteering for then-Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton’s 1978 gubernatorial bid.

She said Clinton singled her out during a campaign stop at her nursing home. “He would just sort of insinuate, you know when you are in Little Rock let’s get together. Let’s talk about the industry. Let’s talk about the needs of the nursing homes and I was very excited about that.”

Broaddrick said she finally took Clinton up on that offer in the spring of 1978 when she traveled to Little Rock for an industry convention along with her friend and nursing employee Norma Rogers. The two shared a room at the city’s Camelot Hotel.

Broaddrick phoned Clinton’s campaign headquarters to inform her of her arrival and was told by a receptionist that Clinton had left instructions for her to reach him at his private apartment.

“I called his apartment and he answered,” she told me. “And he said, ‘Well, why don’t we meet in the Camelot Hotel coffee room and we can get together there and talk. And I said, ‘That would be fine.’”

Clinton then changed the meeting location from the hotel coffee shop to Broaddrick’s room.

“A time later and I’m not sure how long it was, he called my room, which he said he would do when he got to the coffee shop. And he said ‘There are too many people down here. It’s too crowded. There’s reporters and can we just meet in your room?’”

“And it sort of took me back a little bit, Aaron,” she said of Clinton’s request.

“But I did say okay, I’ll order coffee to the room, which I did and that’s when things sort of got out of hand. And it was very unexpected. It was, you might even say, brutal. With the biting of my lip.”

Broaddrick said she did not want to rehash the alleged rape scene, explaining those painful details are fully available in previous news reports.

She told NBC’s Dateline in 1999 that she resisted when Clinton suddenly kissed her:

Then he tries to kiss me again. And the second time he tries to kiss me he starts biting my lip. … He starts to, um, bite on my top lip and I tried to pull away from him. And then he forces me down on the bed. And I just was very frightened, and I tried to get away from him and I told him “No,” that I didn’t want this to happen but he wouldn’t listen to me. … It was a real panicky, panicky situation. I was even to the point where I was getting very noisy, you know, yelling to “Please stop.” And that’s when he pressed down on my right shoulder and he would bite my lip. … When everything was over with, he got up and straightened himself, and I was crying at the moment and he walks to the door, and calmly puts on his sunglasses. And before he goes out the door he says, “You better get some ice on that.” And he turned and went out the door.

In our November interview, Broaddrick recounted the aftermath of the incident, when her friend Rogers came back to the room after Broaddrick failed to show up to the convention.

“I was in a state of shock afterwards,” an emotional Broaddrick said, clearly still impacted by the event. “And I know my nurse came back to the room to check on me because she hadn’t heard from me. … She came up and it was devastating to her and to me to find me in the condition that I was in.”

“We really did not know what to do. We sat and talked and she got ice for my mouth. … It was four times the size that it should be. And she got ice for me and we decided then I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to get out of there, which we did.”

The detail about Clinton allegedly biting her lip is instructive. One woman who would later say she had a consensual affair with Clinton, former Miss America pageant winner Elizabeth Ward Gracen, would also reveal Clinton bit her lip when a tryst became rough.

Broaddrick says Bill repeatedly called her after the alleged rape.

Apparently that wasn’t the end of it.

In January, Broaddrick told me that within a few weeks after Clinton allegedly raped her, he started to call her repeatedly with the aim of meeting again.

“I was shocked to say the least that he would have the audacity to call me after what he did to me,” Broaddrick said.

She said that just a few weeks after the 1978 alleged sexual assault, “He called the nursing home that I owned and they patched the call through to my office and I didn’t know that it was him. And he immediately said, ‘Hi, this is Bill Clinton. I was just wondering when you were coming back to Little Rock again.’

“This just caught me so off guard. I had not expected anything like this at all. And I told him I would not be coming back to Little Rock again and definitely would not ever be seeing him again. And I hung up.”

Broaddrick recalled that Clinton, the attorney general of Arkansas and candidate for governor at the time, called the nursing home where she worked on numerous occasions over the next six months.

And you would think that would have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. About two or three weeks later, I was in a meeting and my administrator came into the meeting and she said, “You are wanted on the phone.” And she said it was Mr. Clinton. And I told her, I said, “Please tell him I’m not here.” She wasn’t aware of what had happened to me. Nor were the nurses. The two directors of nursings [sic] were the only two who had known what he had done to me. So she wasn’t aware, but she was very caught off guard why I wouldn’t speak to him.

And I went into her office later and I said if there are ever any phone calls from him, I can’t explain but I do not want to have any phone calls from him. Whenever he calls please tell him that I’m not here.

And then it happened a couple of more times. The board secretary answered the phone. And she said, “Mr. Clinton is on the phone.” And I just looked at her and I said please tell him that I’m not here.

And I think there was probably a total of maybe four or five calls within a six-month period after the assault. And I think he finally figured out I wasn’t going to talk to him again.

Broaddrick was asked what she thought Clinton wanted from her.

She replied: “I think he thought, well this is just a usual occurrence. I probably was with him and I am wondering whether I can get with this woman again. I was shocked to say the least that he would have the audacity to call me after what he did to me.”

‘I felt responsible until Bill came back.’

Broaddrick said the climate of women’s issues in 1978 was such that “I felt responsible. I don’t know if you know the mentality of women and men at that time. But me letting him come to my room? I accepted full blame.”

“And I thought ‘This is your fault and you have to bear this. There’s nothing you can do. He’s the attorney general. And this is your fault.’”

She states that all that changed in 1991, when she says she was at a meeting at the Riverfront Hotel in Little Rock and Clinton approached her there.

Clinton found out she was at the hotel “and they called me out of the meeting and pointed to an area to go down around the corner by an elevator area. And I walked around the corner and there he stands.”

“And he immediately comes over to me with this gushing apology. Like, ‘I’m so sorry for what happened. I hope you can forgive me. I’m a family man now. I have a daughter. I’m a changed man. I would never do anything like that again.’”

Broaddrick said she thought Clinton was sincere until he announced his run for president the following week.

“But still I have to thank him for that day because the blame then went off of me and on to him. And I knew that it wasn’t my fault. I knew that I didn’t use good judgement, but I knew that the incident was no longer my fault.”

10 Signs You Might Be a Clean Freak

October 9, 2016

Most of us enjoy a clean home, but not all of us manage to maintain one every day. Clean freaks, however, put the quest for cleanliness above other, more trivial ways of spending time. For them, a spotless home is the zenith of achievement. Read on for some clean freak wisdom.

1. Clean freaks are fit. Clean freaks are not interested in workout DVDs. Surely vacuuming the living room and dusting the curtain rods act as a decent workout with plenty of stretches?

As for jumping up to do some fat-burning lunges while the TV commercials are on, isn’t that the time when any self-respecting clean obsessive dusts under the sofa?

2. Some jobs can’t wait until morning — actually, all jobs. Going to bed without having done the dishes or run the dishwasher will lead to a very restless night’s sleep. No clean freak can relax knowing all that mess is lurking in the kitchen. Disturbing!

3. Cleaning products are compelling. Whether you love to try the latest deep-cleaning, germ-busting spray or are a devotee of delicious-sounding eco-friendly cleaning products, you are certainly not immune to the siren call of a quality cleaning product.

All those sprays, powders and liquids attract you with their promise of a shinier object, a more hygienic surface and a home that smells insanely fresh. You may even arrange your cleaning products on a shelf, much as a non-clean freak might arrange ornaments or books.

4. Open shelves are dangerous! All those containers, jars and plates sit open to the elements, getting dusty or, worse, greasy! If you, as a clean freak, do agree to have open shelves in your home, a thorough washing down of everything lined up on them should be scheduled frequently. You can’t be too careful.

5. Hiring a house cleaner is not an option. Some people treat themselves to a house cleaner during busy or stressful times. Others employ one year-round to make life easier. Clean freaks find this concept odd. What’s easier about having to go around each room to check for missed spots once the cleaner has left?

6. Cleaning trumps refreshment. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s the saying, but clean freaks disagree. They say, when life gives you lemons, slice one in half and use it to disinfect your chopping board. Alternatively, mix lemon juice with white vinegar to make a natural, eco-friendly cleaner.

7. Spring is the best time of year. Each winter, clean freaks count the days until spring will start. Not because they hate the dark, cold months, but because spring means that they can dry-clean the curtains and pressure-wash the patio again. Whoopee!

8. There’s cleaning, and then there’s deep cleaning. Non-clean freaks are usually content to simply wipe down the stuff you can see in your house, such as the kitchen counters or the floor. But true clean freaks go deeper. Much deeper. To them, unclogging a drain, washing the freezer and vacuuming the chimney are vital and highly rewarding tasks.

9. Homemade tools are often best. A clean freak will have all the mops and cloths that a regular homeowner has, but is also adept at improvising. Cotton balls don’t just belong in the bathroom! They are brilliant for cleaning a computer keyboard or around a kitchen drain. Sticky notes will happily pick up crumbs or hairs, and the sharp end of a safety pin can be used for scraping out gunk from tiny crevices.

10. Clean freaks love a party. Now you might think that clean freaks would hate to host a party in their home. All those spilled drinks and chips crushed into the carpet. Yuck! But in fact, clean freaks love a party. Well, they love a party that’s just finished so they can snap on their rubber gloves, whip out their mop and really get to work putting the house back in order. Some people watch TV to calm down after a party. Clean freaks clean!

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.

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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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

Farmers oppose $15 minimum wage

May 31, 2016

http://www.pressrepublican.com/news/local_news/farmers-oppose-minimum-wage/article_ec77449f-9eb4-5d96-ba15-8a2112c8844c.html

Local farmers took part in a statewide campaign to outline the consequences of a $15 an hour minimum wage on agriculture.

“The $15 minimum wage is one of the biggest issues facing small businesses and family farms in the state in years,” said Clinton County Farm Bureau President Tony LaPierre at the North Country Chamber of Commerce on Monday morning.

“It’s going to have a profound effect on our operation in many ways.”

The Plattsburgh press conference was one of 12 similar events across the state.

GRADUAL RISE

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging the State Legislature to adopt his minimum-wage plan with the budget due for completion at the end of this month.

The proposal would gradually raise the wage from $9 an hour to $15 by the end of 2018 in New York City and by 2021 in the rest of the state. He has proposed $300 million in small business tax cuts to help businesses absorb the higher labor costs, a number that critics say is far too low.

CAN’T HIKE PRICES

LaPierre owns Rusty Creek Farm in the Town of Champlain hamlet of Coopersville. He milks a herd of 500 cows with a crew of eight full-time and four part-time employees.

If the governor’s plan to hike the minimum wage comes to fruition, he said, some farms will have 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.

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 laws of supply and demand.

“We are not able to pass these costs along to the consumer, so how are our businesses going to be able to deal with this?” he asked.

LaPierre said the increase would be more palatable if it were at the federal level, so all states would be on a level playing field.

Giving agriculture in neighboring states that much of an advantage would result in more local farms going out of business and a rise in out-of-state commodities in the local market, he said.

ESSEX COUNTY

Essex County Farm Bureau President Erik Leerkes owns Leerkes Farm, a dairy farm in Ticonderoga. He has one partner, one other full-time employee and two to three summer helpers each year.

Leerkes said he has been proud to pay more than minimum wage for the 20 years he has owned the farm. Last year, his part-time employees made $10 an hour.

One worker, however, soon left when he landed a job with a higher wage at International Paper, the farmer said.

“For me to get good help, I need to pay more than minimum wage,” he said.

It goes beyond simply wages, Leerkes said. As wages increase, so do costs such as unemployment insurance and Workers Compensation insurance.

The increase most likely would mean he would hire fewer workers, and that means he would have to put in even longer days himself than he does now — a minimum of 60 hours a week and often much more in summer.

“I’ll tell you this — I don’t make minimum wage once I figure out how many hours I work,” Leerkes said.

SURVEY SAYS

The farmers were joined by North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, who said the chamber’s annual issue survey showed strong opposition to a $15 an hour minimum wage.

In the canvass of 4,200 North Country business owners, there was a 15 percent response rate.

Of those, 56 percent opposed any action to further up base pay. Douglass said 40 percent indicated some increase would be acceptable, but $15 an hour is too much.

The chamber president said 93 percent of respondents said that wage would eliminate jobs and harm the North Country economy.

In addition, 86 percent said there should be a different minimum wage level between Upstate and the New York City area.

ASK FARMERS

Douglas said the true minimum wage is $0 — or no job at all. The $15 an hour minimum could result in many more people reduced to that, he said.

“What we ought to be about is moving more people off of $0 and onto the ladder of employment and a better life and upward mobility,” he said.

Douglas said those who really want to know the impact of a $15 minimum wage on agriculture should ask farmers.

If they want to know the effect on job retention and creation, they should ask business owners.

“They know what the impact will be. They live it, they breathe it,” he said.

ALTERNATIVES

In the survey, 92 percent of business owners said they would like to see more federal and state support for training programs to give workers the skills needed to land jobs that include higher wages

Douglas said with the minimum wage already increased to $9 an hour, there shouldn’t be such a rush to implement this additional hike.

The state should take the time to look at the many factors at play and decide if there should be some sort of regional or even industry sector differentials.

“It’s a good debate, but it’s a debate that ought to center on the appropriate points,” Douglas said.

“Let’s take the time to get this right and not just get it fast.”

Budget deal hikes New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour

May 31, 2016

http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2016/03/ny_hikes_minimum_wage_to.html

New York’s minimum wage will gradually climb to $15 an hour  under a budget deal the New York State Senate reluctantly agreed to support Thursday, but Upstate workers will have to wait longer to reach that pay rate.

The Republican-controlled Senate agreed in conference to a state budget deal that includes raising the minimum wage to the highest rate in the nation, said Sen. James Seward, who said the Senate plans to vote on budget bills Thursday night.

Under the deal, the minimum wage will gradually rise from the current $9 an hour to $15 by Dec. 31, 2018 in New York City.

But in Upstate New York, the minimum wage will gradually climb to $12.50 an hour in 2022, said Seward. After that, increases in the Upstate minimum wage will be tied to an inflation index until it reaches $15 an hour.

“It could be another 10 to 15 years” before Upstate businesses must pay workers $15 an hour, said Seward, who said he opposes a $15 an hour statewide hike and would have preferred not having it in the state budget.

“We beat back the governor’s plan. That’s how I see it,” said Seward, whose district includes Cortland and Auburn.

Cuomo proposed in January having Upstate’s minimum wage reach $15 an hour by July 1, 2021.

Sen. James Seward.JPGSen. James Seward

Seward said the Senate Republicans believed they could not refuse any minimum wage hike because they feared Cuomo would use a wage board to unilaterally increase the statewide minimum like he did last year with the fast food workers.

Cuomo said Wednesday that he agreed in the budget negotiations to have a minimum wage safety valve: After three years, the state budget department will conduct a study to see if the higher wage is having a negative impact on the economy. If the economy is struggling, the state could halt future planned wage increases.

The 67 percent increase in the minimum wage has been among the most contentious issues in the state budget negotiations, with Cuomo and union officials crisscrossing the state to whip up support for it, and Senate Republicans and business leaders objecting just as aggressively.

‘I would have just as soon not even dealt with this issue.’ Sen. James Seward, R-Milford

Cuomo even named his crusade to increase the minimum wage after his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Cuomo said a $15 minimum wage would provide raises to 2.3 million New Yorkers, including 98,689 workers in Central New York. In the region, 32,181 workers are paid $9 an hour now, according to Cuomo.

He said the minimum wage hike was needed because people working full time cannot live on $9 an hour without getting taxpayer-funded public assistance. So taxpayers are subsidizing big corporations like McDonald’s who pay their workers low wages, the governor said.

But Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, was among the most vocal critics of Cuomo’s $15 an hour proposal, and he predicted in January that the Senate would not pass it.

The Business Council of the State of New York predicted the $15 minimum wage would cost employers an extra $15 billion per year.

In Central New York, farmer Tony Emmi said a $15 minimum wage would cost his 300-acre farm in Lysander an extra $180,000 to $200,000 a year, a hit that would force him to hire fewer workers. 

Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, said the budget deal includes $30 million set aside to help farmers pay the higher wage to workers.

The American Action Forum, led by two economists, predicted a statewide $15 minimum wage would cost New York 200,000 to 588,800 jobs, with the job losses steeper in Upstate regions.

The minimum wage hike is likely to remain controversial throughout the year as all 63 Senate seats are up for election in November.