Category: crime


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Woman stabbed at Art Basel Miami, gallery visitors confuse crime for modern art

© life.of.chai
A woman was stabbed at a Miami art gallery after accusing her attacker of following her around and repeatedly bumping into her. But although the victim was left bloody and fearing for her life, visitors didn’t bat an eyelid, assuming it was a performance.

The victim, 33-year-old Shin Seo Young, said the Friday night altercation at the Miami Beach Convention Center began after she accused her attacker, 24-year-old college student Siyuan Zhao, of following her around the Art Basel gallery and bumping into her numerous times.

Following the short confrontation, Zhao stabbed Young in the shoulder and neck with an X-Acto knife, according to The Miami Herald.

JUST IN: Photos show moments after stabbing. Victim bleeding, woman in cuffs. Story at 11 on .

“I had to kill her and two more,” and “I had to watch her bleed!” Zhao said, according to her arrest report. She also confessed to the stabbing during questioning, according to police.

 

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James Craig

Linked

James Craig

Chief of Police, Detroit Police Department

Detroit, MichiganLaw Enforcement……………………………………………………………………………….

Detroit News

Police Chief Craig: Armed Detroiters cut terror risk

The city’s police chief said he believes violent extremists would be reluctant to target Detroit, as they had Paris last month, for fear armed citizens would shoot back.

“A lot of Detroiters have CPLs (concealed pistol licenses), and the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug,” Chief James Craig said. “If you’re a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want unarmed citizens.”

Oakland University criminal justice professor Daniel Kennedy agreed that terrorists would be reluctant to attack armed citizens.

“We don’t have laboratories where we can test these theories, but there is something to the argument that terrorists want a high body count — and if they can only shoot a few people before they’re taken out themselves, it wouldn’t have the kind of impact they want.

“An armed citizen won’t give them a high body count. Look at the theater in Paris,” the Bataclan Café, where four men with AK-47 assault rifles killed 89 people during a rock concert. “If some of those people had been armed, it would’ve been a much different story.”

Although no specific threats have been identified, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security last week released a bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, warning there could be attacks similar to the Nov. 13 terrorist strikes in Paris that killed 130 people.

 

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Friday, 04 December 2015

Detroit Police Chief: Terrorists Want Unarmed Citizens

Written by 

Following the Paris attacks, Detroit police chief James Craig (shown) reiterated his policy of encouraging his citizens to continue to arm themselves:

A lot of Detroiters have CPLs (concealed pistol licenses), and the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug: if you’re a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want unarmed citizens.

Since his arrival in Detroit in 2012, Craig has seen his citizens heed his call and has simultaneously seen violent crime fall significantly. Seven thousand of them received their CPLs the year after Craig took over, and another 7,500 were added to the rolls a year later. At present nearly one in every 20 Detroiters is carrying concealed.

Added Craig:

If you look at what happened in Paris, I’m not saying if more citizens had had guns it would have stopped the terrorists. But it sure might have helped.

If you’re sitting in a restaurant, and you aren’t allowed to have a gun, what are you supposed to do if someone comes in there shooting at you? Throw a fork at them?

Oakland University criminal justice professor Daniel Kennedy agreed with Craig:

We don’t have laboratories where we can test these theories, but there is something to the argument that terrorists want a high body count. And if they can only shoot a few people before they’re taken out themselves, it wouldn’t have the kind of impact they want.

On 60 Minutes last week, Washington, D.C.’s police chief Cathy Lanier urged her citizens who carry to “take the gunman out” if they are threatened:

If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before the police can get there.

Former New York City police detective and popular media personality Bo Dietl was much more direct: “On my hip I’ve got a 9 mm Glock, so I’m prepared if something happens. If everyone was prepared … maybe we’d have fewer casualties. Domestic terrorists hit places where they don’t think they’ll get much resistance, like movie theaters. Whoever is able to carry a gun legally, it would help.”

 

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All passengers dead’ as Russian airliner crashes in Egypt’s Sinai

Published: 22:45 October 31, 2015

Agencies
November 1, 2015 | Last updated 4 minutes ago

 

 

All passengers on the Russian flight from Egypt died when the plane crashed in the Sinai peninsula Saturday, the Russian embassy said in a statement


  • Egypt PM Sherif Ismail (R) at the site of the wreckage of a crashed Russian airliner in HassanaImage Credit: AFP

  • Emergency workers unload bodies of victims from the crash of a Russian aircraft from a police helicopter.Image Credit: AP

  • Relatives react at Pulkovo international airport outside Saint Petersburg after a Russian plane with 224 peoplImage Credit: AFP
  • Relatives react after a Russian airliner crashed
    Relatives react after a Russian airliner crashed, as people gather at an information desk in Russia.Image Credit: AP

Paris: Air France and Lufthansa said Saturday they will stop flying over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula after a Russian passenger plane went down in the area with the loss of all 224 people on board.

The airlines said they were taking the measure as a precaution while the cause of the Russian crash was investigated.

The Daesh affiliate in Egypt has said it downed the plane, without saying how, but Russia’s transport minister said the claim “cannot be considered accurate” and an Egyptian security official said the plane did not crash because of an attack.

An Air France spokesperson told AFP they would not fly over Sinai until further notice, “as a precaution” while “clarification” was sought over why the Russian charter plane crashed.

Lufthansa told the German newspaper Die Welt it was taking the same measure for the same reason.

Military experts have told AFP that Daesh terrorists in Sinai do not have weapons capable of hitting an aircraft at 30,000 feet (9,000 metres), the altitude of the airliner when it lost contact.

But they have not ruled out a bomb on board or the possibility that the plane was hit by a rocket as it descended because of technical problems.

A senior Egyptian air traffic control official said the pilot of the Airbus A321 told him in their last communication that he had radio trouble.

 

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Sat Oct 31, 2015 6:43PM
Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

 

Moscow and Cairo have denied claims by the Daesh Takfiri group’s Egyptian affiliate to have downed a Russian aircraft that crashed in North Sinai with more than 200 passengers on board.

“Now in various media there is assorted information that the Russian passenger (plane)… was supposedly shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, fired by terrorists. This information can’t be considered accurate,” Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said on Saturday.

“We are in close contact with our Egyptian colleagues and aviation authorities in the country. At present, they have no information that would confirm such insinuations,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Samir, Egypt’s army spokesman, also refuted the claim by the Takfiri group, saying that “the army sees no authenticity” to the terrorists claims or videos.

“They can put out whatever statements they want but there is no proof at this point that terrorists were responsible for this plane crash” he said.

“We will know the true reasons when the civil aviation authority in coordination with Russian authorities completes its investigation,” he added.


An Egyptian soldier and rescue crew transfer the body of a victim of a plane crash, from a civil police helicopter to an ambulance at Kabrit airport in Suez, east of Cairo, Egypt, October 31, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)

 

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Terrorists, non-state actors had no capacity to down Russian plane, security & aviation experts say

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai near El Arish city, north Egypt, October 31, 2015. © Reuters
While the investigation into the causes of the Russian passenger jet crash over the Sinai Peninsula continues, civil aviation and security experts agree that theories that the plane was downed by a militant group can be ruled out, despite terrorists making such claims.

All 224 people on board the Kolavia airline’s flight from resort area Sharm El-Sheikh to Russia’s St. Petersburg died after the aircraft crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Saturday. Experts are still decoding the flight recorders, and the Russian Air Transport Agency has said that there is no point in hypothesizing about the cause of the crash until there is reliable data on the circumstances.

LIVE UPDATES: Russian passenger jet crashes over Sinai

While Islamic State jihadist group allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it downed the Airbus A321 as retaliation for Russia’s airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria, aviation and security experts believe it to be highly unlikely.

“As far as it’s known, Islamic State and its affiliate groups don’t have the capability to bring down aircraft flying at the height that this aircraft reportedly was, which is something around 10,000 meters,” security analyst and former UK counter-terrorism officer Charles Shoebridge told RT.

 

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Jared Fogle pays $1 million to victims

 By:
Staff Reporter
Oct, 25, 2015

Jared Fogle, the former Subway pitchman, has paid $1 million total in restitution to 10 of his 14 victims after pleading guilty to sex acts with minors and distribution of child pornography, and he faces a possible sentence of five to 12 years in federal prison.

In a related report by NewsOXY, the fallout continued between the pitchman and the Subway sandwich chain after a whistleblower admitted a wire for evidence to the FBI. The recording allegedly provided vital information to investigators leading to raid of the Subway pitchman’s home.

The prosecutor Jared Fogle, 37, made payments of $1.4 million under the terms of a plea agreement. The remaining four victims will also each receive $100,000 before a sentencing scheduled for Nov. 19, said the prosecutor, Steven DeBrota of the United States attorney’s office in Indianapolis.

 

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Last I  checked the excuse for the shuffling that was  going on with  scheduling appointments.  Was not an  isolated incident as it was  being  done in more than one  VA Hospital.  Taking place due to  policies being implemented  to  monitor the productivity and efficiency of Hospital personnel and their respective departments. 

Protocols such as this are generally handed down from corporate hierarchy to regional and then local.   It is doubtful that regional or local management implemented these measures on their own and just happened to coincide with similar incidents in other  hospitals in the same way. 

If these protocols were being implemented and enforced  throughout all VA Hospitals , logic would dictate that  they originated higher up the food chain and that local as well as regional management had a stake in the ultimate outcome of these assessments.  After all ,  corporate politics would dictate that promotions and rewards would directly correlate with the outcome of said assessments as well as departmental records.

To establish unrealistic goals without providing adequate means to accomplish said goals effectively.  As well as establishing a competitive situation without adequate control measures to keep the  overzealous and unscrupulous from doing exactly what has been done.  Is an obvious failure on the part of corporate management, Eric Shineski, in this case.  To gloss over that fact is naive at best and criminal at worst.  But then Mr. Obama is no stranger to criminal negligence , gross ineptitude and just plain ignorance of the actions taking place around him.  So I suppose he can sympathize…..

 

~Desert Rose~

 

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VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

 The Washington Post

 

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House votes 390-33 to speed up VA firings

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill to grant the Veterans Affairs secretary expanded authority to fire senior executives for poor performance.

The measure passed on a 390-33 vote amid allegations that veterans encountered delays in access to medical care at multiple VA hospitals across the country, leading to dozens of deaths. All 33 votes in opposition came from Democrats, including ledership Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) voted to approve the measure.

Under the bill, the VA secretary would be authorized to dismiss senior executives or demote them to the civil service. It would require the VA secretary to notify Congress of such a firing or demotion within 30 days.House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said the measure would help rid the department of incompetent employees in light of the controversy.

“The committee has received nothing but disturbing silence from the White House and only excuse after another from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Miller said.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) said the legislation would send a message that the VA would be held accountable.

“It is very important as we go into Memorial Day that we let the veterans know that we appreciate their service. And we also need to let them know that we’re going to do all we can to make sure they have the quality health care they deserve,” Brown said.

An administration official said the White House supports the overall goals of the legislation, but also had concerns that it could have unintended consequences.

 

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Obama vows fix to veterans’ health care troubles

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – With outrage mounting over veterans’ health care, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that allegations of misconduct at VA hospitals will not be tolerated, and he left open the possibility that Secretary Eric Shinseki, a disabled war veteran, could be held to account.

“I will not stand for it – not as commander in chief but also not as an American,” Obama said following an Oval Office meeting with the embattled Shinseki.

Congress moved to keep up the pressure on the administration, with the House easily approving a measure Wednesday evening that would give the VA secretary more authority to fire or demote the 450 senior career employees who serve as hospital directors or executives in the agency’s 21 regions. The vote was 390 to 33.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, sponsored the measure, saying VA officials who have presided over mismanagement or negligence are more likely to receive bonuses or glowing performance reviews than any sort of punishment. He declared that a “widespread and systemic lack of accountability is exacerbating” the department’s problems.

The White House said it supported the goal of seeking greater accountability at the VA but had unspecified concerns about the legislation.

The growing furor surrounding the Department of Veterans Affairs centers on allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at VA hospitals. The department’s inspector general’s office says 26 facilities are being investigated nationwide, including a Phoenix hospital facing allegations that 40 people died while waiting for treatment and staff kept a secret list of patients in order to hide delays in care.

The allegations have raised fresh concerns about the Obama administration’s management of a department that has been struggling to keep up with the influx of new veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama’s comments Wednesday – his first on the matter in more than three weeks – signaled a greater urgency by the White House to keep the matter from spiraling into a deeper political problem in a midterm election year.

 

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Possible drawbacks of the VA firing bill scheduled for Wednesday vote

The House is set to vote this week on a bill that would give the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs authority to fire or demote senior executives for perceived performance problems without going through the usual administrative procedures.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) added the measure to the weekly docket on Thursday, the same date VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified about reports that VA health clinics throughout the country have cooked their books to hide treatment delays, some of which may have affected patients who died while waiting for care.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Ironically, the American Legion has called for Shinseki’s removal because of the alleged coverups, along with other problems such as a longstanding backlog of disability claims and preventable deaths at various VA hospitals. If the secretary departs, his critics would have to wait for a replacement to fire senior officials for the recent controversy.

Shinseki said during the hearing that he is “mad as hell” about the reported treatment delays, and he vowed to stick around until he improves VA services for veterans or President Obama asks him to resign.

MORE: Shinseki faces tough questions on VA scandal, vows to ‘accomplish a mission’

Although firing VA officials may quell the recent outrage over reported coverups, the Senior Executives Association has raised concerns about the House bill. Below is a summary of the measure’s drawbacks, as outlined in recent statements from the group:

* Due process: Senior executives can appeal firings and demotions to an administrative panel known as the Merit Systems Protection Board, which determines whether the personnel actions were warranted. However, the hearings are informal and the decisions are non-binding for agency executives, unlike with rank-and-file employees.

The SEA said the House bill would rob employees of the right to recourse when department chiefs wrongly punish their workers. They also noted that accountability processes already exist for senior executives.

Agencies must provide a 30-day written notice when they decide to remove senior executives. The officials can then argue against removal, choose to resign, or return back to work at a lower position. They may also be eligible for immediate retirement.

 

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Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections

Obama Backs Shinseki Amid Calls to Resign (Updated)

VA Budget 03 042313 445x295 Obama Backs Shinseki Amid Calls to Resign (Updated)

Updated 6:22 p.m. | The White House is backing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki after he faced calls to resign Monday over allegations that veterans died waiting for care in Phoenix and other problems in his department.

“As the President said last week, we take the allegations around the Phoenix situation very seriously,” said Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman. “That’s why he immediately directed Secretary Shinseki to investigate, and Secretary Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review,” he said.

“We must ensure that our nation’s veterans get the benefits and services that they deserve and have earned. The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the Department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.”

Earlier Monday, the American Legion called on Shinseki to resign, although the Veterans of Foreign Wars declined to do so. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he wants the investigation to go forward first. 

 

 

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Calif. mom accused of assaulting daughter’s bully

Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California woman is facing charges that she grabbed a 12-year-old boy by the throat while confronting him about bullying her daughter, authorities said Sunday.

Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, of Santa Rosa came to an elementary school around lunchtime Friday and asked her son, who also attends the school, to point out her daughter’s alleged tormentor, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The mother grabbed the boy by the throat in front of a number of children, the statement said.

No adult saw the confrontation, and Garcia-Bratcher apparently had not checked in with the school office before coming on campus, authorities said.

 

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SF Gate

Mom accused of attacking bully may have wrong boy

Updated 10:22 pm, Monday, May 19, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Northern California mother suspected of attacking a 12-year-old boy she said was bullying her daughter at school may have targeted the wrong child, a sheriff’s official said Monday.

Investigators have not found evidence linking the boy to the bullying allegations, Sonoma County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Brown said. He said they are looking into whether another child may have harassed the girl.

“We are unable to determine if any bullying ever occurred,” Brown said. “We don’t know if this kid bullied this girl at all. It looks like he did not. We can’t find anybody to say that he did.”

The girl’s mom, Delia Garcia-Bratcher, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of inflicting injury on a child after sheriff’s deputies say she came to Olivet Elementary Charter School in Santa Rosa on Friday and grabbed the boy by the throat. She asked her son, who also attends the school, to point out who was bullying her daughter, the sheriff’s office said.

Garcia-Bratcher’s lawyer, Ben Adams, said Monday that his client is very upset over the accusation and adamantly denies attacking the boy.

“She does not deny confronting the boy and telling him to ‘knock it off,’ but she absolutely denies touching him,” Adams said.

While Garcia-Bratcher may have broken an administrative rule by not signing in when she arrived at the school, she had every right to protect her children, he said.

“I don’t know what the DA will charge her with, and if they do, we will absolutely fight it vigorously every step of the way,” Adams said.

Garcia-Bratcher told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that she was about 3 feet away from the boy when she confronted him about calling her daughter a “dirty Indian.” She said he agreed to stop bullying her daughter and that they had no physical contact.

 

 

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Santa Rosa mother accused of confronting suspected school bully denies grabbing incident (w/video)

A Santa Rosa mom charged with marching onto an elementary school campus and grabbing the throat of a 12-year-old boy she believed was bullying her daughter said Monday she never laid a hand on the youth.

Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, said she was about three feet away from the boy Friday when she spoke to him about name-calling, which she said had made her 10-year-old daughter come home in tears from Olivet Charter Elementary School.

After a brief talk, she said the boy agreed not to do it again and the two parted company with no physical contact.

“He just said ‘okay,’” Garcia-Bratcher said. “He was real polite and walked away.”

But the boy apparently ran to a teacher complaining Garcia-Bratcher grabbed his throat and shoved him, a sheriff’s spokesman said. He had red marks on his neck that were later photographed by the school, the spokesman said.

 

Garcia-Bratcher was arrested the next day after an investigation. She’s expected to make a first court appearance Thursday on a single felony count of inflicting injury on a child.

Lt. Steve Brown said Monday it is not clear what prompted the assault.

The boy told deputies he didn’t know why the woman grabbed him, Brown said. There appeared to be no connection between the boy and Garcia-Bratcher’s daughter, such as a shared classroom or lunch area, he said.

“We can’t prove these kids had any interaction,” Brown said. “Did she get the wrong child? I don’t know.”

Brown said it was possible the boy was lying. But he said statements from witnesses coupled with photos of the red marks “leads us to believe it happened.”

But Garcia-Bratcher insisted Monday she didn’t touch the boy, who her daughter said called her a “dirty Indian.” She said another student told her the boy grabbed his own neck right after the incident, saying he was going to get Garcia-Bratcher in trouble.

 

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Man arrested for allegedly kidnapping girl, holding her for 10 years

Santa Ana police arrested a Bell Gardens man on suspicion of kidnapping and rape after he allegedly abducted a 15-year-old girl a decade ago and held her hostage, forcing her to marry him and have his child.

Isidro Garcia was arrested Tuesday after his alleged victim reached out to her sister on Facebook and revealed how she been held hostage in a relationship with the 41-year-old man and had given birth to his child during the decade she vanished.

Santa Ana police say the girl’s mother reported her missing in August 2004. The mother told police her daughter went missing, along with her live-in boyfriend, Garcia, after a domestic violence incident.

Detectives say the mother suspected Garcia was sexually abusing her daughter.

The victim, now 25, revealed to authorities Tuesday how she was abducted in June 2004, when she was living with her mother and sisters in Santa Ana.

 

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Senator demands independent investigation as VA scandal spreads

By Jeremy Schwartz

The chair of the Texas Senate’s veteran affairs committee on Monday called for an independent investigation into allegations that wait time data was manipulated at Department of Veterans Affairs clinics in Central Texas and San Antonio.

Sen. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, made her comments as the burgeoning scandal over VA patient care reached the Rio Grande Valley, where a former VA doctor accused the department of delaying colonoscopies for veterans with cancer and jeopardizing veterans’ visits to non-VA specialists because the agency took so long to reimburse private providers.

In Austin, Van de Putte demanded accountability from top VA leaders over claims that scheduling clerks were trained to falsely input appointment data to make it appear that waiting times were far shorter than they really are. The VA aims to see patients within 14 days of their desired appointment dates, and medical centers are graded on their ability to hit those targets.

“It appears the motivation for the deception…was a personal pay day in the form of a VA performance bonus,” Van de Putte said. “Someone is responsible. These scheduling clerks didn’t just decide to falsify reports all over the country at the same time…The allegations show a pattern that crosses multiple clinics and shows the actions were condoned at a pretty high level.”

The claims of whistleblower Brian Turner, a VA scheduling clerk who said he saw data manipulation in Waco, Austin and San Antonio, were first reported by the American-Statesman last week.

On Monday, new allegations emerged against the VA Health Care Center in Harlingen, and officials with the VA’s Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System, which oversees the facility. Dr. Richard Krugman, former associate chief of staff at the center, told investigators that “patient care was impacted by the VA’s requirements to cut costs,” according to documents obtained by the American-Statesman.

 

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Cornyn Demands Answers From VA Secretary

May 13 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) today announced on Fox News he has sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki after several reports surfaced of abuse and mismanagement in VA clinics in Texas and across the country.  The letter asks several questions of Sec. Shinseki, and calls on the Secretary to provide answers during his testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday, May 15. A video of Sen. Cornyn’s Fox News interview regarding VA failures can be viewed here. Sen. Cornyn’s questions for Sec. Shinseki include:

“Can you confirm that supervisors at VA facilities in Texas have not and are not ordering employees to ‘game the system’ by concealing wait times?

“Can you confirm that veterans diagnosed with cancer of any kind that requires chemotherapy are provided that treatment in a timely manner by the VA? 

“Can you confirm that any bonuses or pay raises are on hold for senior leaders at VA facilities in San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Harlingen, and all VA facilities where similar allegations have been made?

“Can you confirm that staff at facilities currently under investigation for allegations of falsified reports will not be assigned to investigate other VA facilities? 

“Can you confirm that documents are being preserved at all Texas VA facilities?”

The full text of the letter is below and attached.

May 13, 2014

The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

I write to reiterate my deep concern regarding the numerous, troubling reports that continue to surface regarding mistreatment of our nation’s veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the country.  These reports indicate that incidents—including the withholding of life-saving care from some veterans—were the result of a culture of cover-ups, indifference as to the health and welfare of our veterans, and a complete lack of accountability that pervades your Department.  Yet, the Administration’s response to these troubling revelations has been lethargic and its inaction puzzling.

During your testimony before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday, I call on you to provide direct, clear answers to these questions:

1.         According to recent reports, you have ordered a “face-to-face audit” of all Department of Veterans Affairs clinics.  Can you describe in detail how you intend for this audit to be conducted, its timeline for completion, and what measures are being taken to ensure these audits are conducted in an independent and transparent manner?  If the allegations are substantiated, what type of action are you willing to take to right these wrongs, and how will the responsible officials be held accountable?

2.         A whistleblower in Texas claims that during his time as a scheduling clerk for VA facilities in Austin, San Antonio, and Waco, he was directed by supervisors to hide true wait times by inputting false records into the VA’s scheduling system.  VA officials in San Antonio deny this, while VA officials in Austin claim employees may have been discouraged from using the electronic scheduling tool that would reveal long wait times, but that those orders did not come from “executive leadership.”  Can you confirm that supervisors at VA facilities in Texas have not and are not ordering employees to “game the system” by concealing wait times?

3.         An Austin-based surgeon recently contacted my office to inform me he is not accepting any further subcontracts from the VA due to failures in patient care that he has personally witnessed.  Specifically, he saw a veteran in August of 2013 who was referred to him by the VA after they detected a lesion they suspected was cancerous.  Already two months had lapsed between the time they detected the lesion and the time he saw the veteran.  This surgeon performed a biopsy and diagnosed it as laryngeal cancer.  He informed the VA that the veteran needed immediate chemotherapy – that they had a real chance to treat his cancer if they started chemotherapy right away.  Almost two months later, he followed up on his case only to learn the VA never provided chemotherapy, with no good excuse as to why.  The veteran died several days later.  Can you confirm that veterans diagnosed with cancer of any kind that requires chemotherapy are provided that treatment in a timely manner by the VA?

4.         A whistleblower in South Texas who formerly served as associate chief of staff for the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System in Harlingen, TX, told the Washington Examiner this week that roughly 15,000 patients who should have had the potentially life-saving colonoscopy procedure either did not receive it or were forced to wait longer than they should have.  He also claims that approximately 1,800 records were purged to give the false appearance of eliminating a backlog.  Can you confirm that veterans requiring colonoscopies to detect cancer are provided with the procedure in a timely manner?

5.         In 2012, VA medical facilities in Central Texas reported that 96 percent of veterans were seen by providers within 14 days of their preferred appointment date.  In the South Texas region that includes San Antonio, the statistics were even more impressive: 97 percent of veterans were seen within two weeks, according to annual performance reports.  Can you produce documents that show the original dates of veterans’ requests for appointments for 2012?

6.         According to public records, the director of the Phoenix VA hospital, where news investigations have discovered at least 40 veterans died while waiting for care and languishing on secret lists, received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013.  Can you confirm that any bonuses or pay raises are on hold for senior leaders at VA facilities in San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Harlingen, and all VA facilities where similar allegations have been made?

7.         My staff attended a Quarterly Congressional Staffer and Veterans Service Organization Representative Meeting at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHS) Friday, May 9, 2014.  Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, told meeting attendees that, as part of the face-to-face audits you have ordered, a quality systems manager from CTVHS would be sent to another VA facility to assist with investigations there.  Can you confirm that staff at facilities currently under investigation for allegations of falsified reports will not be assigned to investigate other VA facilities?

8.         A former VA employee at the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center told the Daily Caller that employees at the Center destroyed veterans’ medical files in a systematic attempt to eliminate backlogged veteran medical exam requests.  The former employee said, “The waiting list counts against the hospital’s efficiency.  He said the chief of the Center’s Radiology Department initiated an “ongoing discussion in the department” to cancel exam requests and destroy veterans’ medical files so that no record of the exam requests would exist, thus artificially reducing the backlog.  In addition, you have been subpoenaed by the House Veterans Affairs Committee over concerns by Chairman Jeff Miller that evidence in Phoenix may have been destroyed after the Committee issued a document-preservation order on April 9.  A top VA official testified on April 24 that a spreadsheet of patient appointment records, which may have been a “secret list” proving misconduct, was shredded or discarded.  Can you confirm that documents are being preserved at all Texas VA facilities?

I look forward to your prompt and detailed responses to these pressing questions.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

 

 

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File:Vaticano 34.jpg

The  Vatican  – View from Castel Sant’Angelo

By  :  Jorge Valenzuela A

wikimedia.org

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Vatican tries to draw line under clerical sex abuse scandals at UN hearing

The Vatican has been given another hostile interrogation by a United Nations committee over its record on clerical sex abuse.

One member after another of the committee against torture brushed aside the Holy See’s argument that its obligation to enforce the UN convention against torture stopped at the boundaries of the world’s smallest country, the Vatican City state. They demanded the pope’s representative give answers to a long list of questions about the treatment of sex abuse claims against clergy throughout the world.

The Holy See, which long predates the city state, is a sovereign entity without territory. It is as the Holy See that the Catholic leadership maintains diplomatic relations and signs treaties such as the convention against torture.

But Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s UN ambassador in Geneva, told the committee: “The Holy See intends to focus exclusively on Vatican City state.”

The American expert on the committee, Felice Gaer, made plain her disagreement. She said the Holy See had to “show us that, as a party to the convention, you have a system in place to prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment when it is acquiesced to by anyone under the effective control of the officials of the Holy See and the institutions that operate in the Vatican City state”.

 

Read More and  Watch Video Here

 

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Vatican faces tough questions at UN torture committee

Vatican to answer questions on past, present and future handling of clerical sex abuse

 Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, (R), Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See  to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva, and Vincenzo Buonomo, (L), of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See   prior to the UN torture committee hearing on the Vatican, at the headquarters of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  in the Palais Wilson, in Geneva, Switzerland. Photograph:  Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPAArchbishop Silvano Tomasi, (R), Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva, and Vincenzo Buonomo, (L), of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See prior to the UN torture committee hearing on the Vatican, at the headquarters of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Palais Wilson, in Geneva, Switzerland. Photograph: Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA

Tue, May 6, 2014, 01:00

As expected, a Holy See delegation faced tough questioning at the UN’s Committee Against Torture in Geneva yesterday. For the second time in three months, the Vatican was appearing before a UN body to answer questions about its ratification of a UN treaty, especially with regard to is past, present and future handling of clerical sex abuse.

In his opening address to the committee, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent representative at the UN in Geneva, argued that while the Holy See lent “its moral support and collaboration . . . to the elimination of torture”, it had signed the torture convention in 2002 “on behalf of the Vatican city state”.

No jurisdiction
Archbishop Tomasi said he intended to “focus exclusively on the Vatican city state”, the 100 -acre statelet that surrounds the Basilica of St Peter’s.

In that sense, he claimed, the Holy See had “no jurisdiction over every member of the Catholic Church”. Rather, he said, persons who “live in a particular country are under the jurisdiction of the legitimate authorities of that country and are thus subject to the domestic law [of that country]”.

Inevitably, that assertion prompted a critical reaction from the UN committee, with US human rights activist Felice Gaer accusing Archbishop Tomasi of making an “alleged distinction” between the Holy See and the Vatican city state.

She questioned the Holy See’s apparent assumption that the torture convention applied only to the “four corners of Vatican City”, saying that as far as she could see, Vatican City was simply a “sub-division” of the Holy See.

 

Read More Here

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Portland, Oregon flushes water reservoir after man urinates in it

PORTLAND, Oregon Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:04pm EDT

 

(Reuters) – Portland, Oregon is flushing 38 million gallons (143 million liters) of drinking water down the drain because a 19-year-old man urinated in an open reservoir early on Wednesday morning, city water officials said.

Three teens were observed at the reservoir in a Portland park at about 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, Portland Water Bureau spokesman David Shaff said, and one of them was filmed urinating through an iron fence into the water.

The other two tried to climb the fence and one got into the secure area around the reservoir, but Shaff said it is not clear what he did then.

The 50-million-gallon (189-million-liter) reservoir was taken off line and was tested for possible contamination and the results will be known Thursday. But in the meantime, the city has decided to “discard” 38 million gallons of water and clean the reservoir, Shaff said.

“That water goes directly into people’s homes,” David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator said. “There is no way to re-treat it.”

 

Read More Here

 

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