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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Passes A Day After Jon Stewart’s Testimony

9/11 Victims Compensation Fund Passes A Day After Jon Stewart’s Testimony

 

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The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a bill which would permanently reauthorize the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the day after comedian Jon Stewart gave impassioned testimony in support of the bill.  The bill will now go to the floor for a full vote in the House of Representatives, where it is likely to pass.  Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and the act was reauthorized in 2015 for 90 years. But a portion of the law — the Victim Compensation Fund — was only funded for five years, through the end of 2020.

The fund aimed to provide necessary financial support for the thousands who suffered serious medical issues, including a spate of cancer diagnoses, after the 2001 attacks.  New York City health officials say the number of people who have been diagnosed with 9/11-linked cancers has tripled.  Thousands of first responders rushed to the scene of the attacks and in doing so, exposed themselves to toxic debris in the air, including asbestos, lead, and pulverized concrete, which causes silicosis.

Nearly 5,500 first responders and local residents have now been diagnosed with cancers linked to the toxic smoke and dust of 9/11.  As of September 2018, 2,000 deaths were attributed to 9/11 related illnesses. By the end of last year, many estimate that more people will have died from toxic exposures than were actually killed in the attack.

The spike in claims has left the VCF at risk of a massive funding shortfall. As a result, future payouts to 9/11 victims and their families may be cut by as much as 70%.  The bill that passed the judiciary committee on Wednesday aims to make the VCF permanent and grant additional funding to the bill. A specific amount has not yet been allocated.

At an emotional congressional hearing, Stewart, who has been a longtime advocate for the fund, blasted lawmakers for their inaction ahead of a vote on renewing healthcare funding for 9/11 responders.  During his testimony, Stewart became upset several times as he appealed to Congress. “Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country, and it is a stain on this institution. And you should be ashamed of yourselves, for those that aren’t here. But you won’t be, because accountability doesn’t appear to be something that occurs in this chamber.”

Stewart made several points during his passionate speech.  “The official FDNY response time to 9/11 was five seconds. ​Five seconds. That’s how long it took for FDNY, for NYPD, for Port Authority, EMS to respond to an urgent need from the public. ​Five seconds. Hundreds died in an instant.  Thousands more poured in to continue to fight for their brothers and sisters.”  He went on to point out that as lawmakers had at first, denied the health issues were caused by the debri left behind the attack and when they no longer could deny it then then said it was a New York issue.    “More of these men and women are going to get sick and they are going to die. And I am awfully tired of hearing that it’s a 9/11 New York issue. Al Qaeda didn’t shout “Death to Tribeca.” They attacked America ​and these men and women and their response to it is what brought our country back. It’s what gave a reeling nation a solid foundation to stand back upon. To remind us of why this country is great, of why this country is worth fighting for. And you are ignoring them.”

 

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Daily HI4E.org Trivia Contest Winners For The Week Ending: Sunday, June 9th, 2019.

Daily HI4E.org Trivia Contest Winners For The Week Ending: Sunday, June 9th, 2019.

 

In an effort to broaden the company’s “social interaction” with our clients and FaceBook fans, Daily Trivia Questions are posted on both of our business pages. Here are the weekly standings for this past week, and the winner of the Sunday night Weekly Drawing for an AmEx gift card!        

Congratulations  – To this past week’s Trivia Contest Winner!!   Our latest contest winner for the weekly FaceBook HealthInsurance4Everyone/Health & Life Solutions, LLC Trivia Contest, drawn randomly by computer late Sunday evening, June 9th, 2019 was:

         

JILL NAUYOKAS

Boston,  MA

Winner Of A $25.00 AmEx Gift Card

 

Each day, fans who have “liked” either of our company FaceBook pages (HealthInsurance4Everyone  or Health & Life Solutions LLC) are able to test their skills with our Daily TRIVIA QUESTION.  The first 20 winners who post the correct answer to the TRIVIA QUESTION, will then get entered into the weekly drawing held late on Sunday evenings for a $25.00 Am Ex Gift Card.


Weekly Gift Card winners will be posted in our blog at this site.  Remember to become a FaceBook fan and “Like and Follow” either of our company pages to enter and post your answers. 

 

Trivia Last Weeks Winner

 

 

The drawing entries 6/3/19 thru 6/9/19 are:

 

 

6/3/19

 

 

Amber Chandler

 

Jennifer Lang

 

Darlene Whyte

 

Jenifer Garza

 

Brandi K Chaney

 

Sarah Harrison

 

Debbie Bloxom

 

Nicole Blaha

 

Tom Cavalli

 

Michelle Webb

 

Hunter Coffey

 

Brooke Scott

 

Amber McGrath

 

Thomas Ryan Gan

 

Dean Bruss

 

Terry Schmitt Sutton

 

Joann Tompkins-Winborn

 

Becky Holland

 

Robin Griffitts Pratt

 

Tina Casto-Shafer

 

Jennifer Marie

 

Susan Saunders

 

 

 

6/4/19

 

 

Amanda Rosario

 

Becky Holland

 

Christina Domingue

 

Becky Holland

 

Jennifer Ramlet

 

Traci Anderson

 

Sarah Frank

 

Kristina Rosson

 

Dawn Raasch

 

Katie Santos

 

Robin Griffitts Pratt

 

Alexis Maureen

 

Brooke Shelby Rae

 

Alison Giffune Paige

 

Carla Williams

 

April Ashcraft

 

Jenifer Garza

 

Jill Nagel

 

Sara Coyle

 

Crystal Young

 

Amber McGrath

 

 

6/5/19

 

 

Brittany Light

 

Mya Murphy

 

Kristy Lynn Ballard

 

Stacy Nelson

 

Kristina Rosson

 

Susan Clarke Jette

 

Samantha Smith

 

Sarah Bellestri Shih

 

Alyssa DiFazio

 

Kacie Rogers

 

April Ashcraft

 

Mike Adamski

 

Melissa Turner Baker

 

Nai Merri

 

Phylicia Phillips

 

Kimberly Snyder

 

Becca Neuenschwander Long

 

Kassie Lynn DiFazio

 

Wendi Black

 

Karyn Koehler

 

 

 

6/6/19

 

 

Darlene Whyte

 

Karen Brunet Moore

 

Samantha Smith

 

Martha Prescott

 

Shannon Rush

 

Kathi Taylor

 

Nicole Ryan

 

MarcyLynn Coull

 

Jill Nagel

 

Nai Merri

 

Alisa Jones

 

Trish Marks

 

Jan Peoples

 

Crystal Young

 

April Ashcraft

 

Carol Jean

 

Barbara Austin

 

Lisa Puckett

 

Lena Perry

 

Jill Nauyokas

 

 

 

6/7/19

 

 

Shannon Scott        

 

Jodi Stevens

 

Nicole Blaha

 

Crystal Young

 

Ambreen Rouf

 

Eleazar Ruiz

 

Geri Rus

 

Jessica Steiner

 

Samantha Smith

 

Demara Peterson Broadus

 

Morgan Alexandra

 

J Bagavathula Bevara

 

Patricia Oehlert Vazquez

 

Nicole Ryan

 

Melissa Ann Stura-Bassett

 

Lori Capobianco

 

Tracy Heyer

 

Nai Merri

 

Christina Radcliff

 

Rose Elizabeth Cantu

 

Melissa Turner Baker

 

Rhonda Grisham

 

Eva Biggs

 

Joann Tompkins-Winborn

 

 

 

6/8/19

 

 

Jo Bagavathula Bevara

 

Tracy Heyer

 

Nicole Blaha

 

Dawn Raasch

 

Kim Avery

 

Joanie Waterman

 

Amanda Otis

 

Andrea Ayala

 

Jill Nagel

 

Brooke Shelby Rae

 

Kimberly Snyder

 

Brooke Scott

 

Nai Merri

 

Susan Saunders

 

Jenifer Garza

 

Karen Bondehagen

 

Phylicia Phillips

 

Jessica Steiner

 

Samantha Smith

 

Marie Beauregard

 

Pallavi Deshmukh

 

 

 

6/9/19

 

 

Nicole Blaha

 

Cheryl Ralley-Messick

 

Dale Fish

 

Eleazar Ruiz

 

Janice McKay Donahue

 

Brittany Deaver

 

Jennifer Lang

 

Andrew W Sauer

 

Tessa Davis

 

Phylicia Phillips

 

Eleazar Ruiz

 

Jodi Stevens

 

Sherry Kidwell

 

Charlotte Dennis

 

Wendi Black

 

Lena Perry

 

Adaria Johnson

 

Kristy Lynn Ballard

 

Jill Nauyokas

 

Traci Anderson

 

Alyssa DiFazio

 

 

HI4E Nighttime Skyline

 


Be sure to watch both of our FaceBook pages for your chance to win and enter again next week, with questions posted daily on HealthInsurance4Everyone or at Health & Life Solutions, LLC!!

Remember that if you try your hand at answering the Trivia Question several days each week, your odds of winning the Sunday weekly drawing are much better. 

Also note that a number of the posted answers each day are from contestants who have forgotten to “Like” one of our pages, so their names WILL NOT be entered at the end week drawing for the gift card, giving our fans a better chance!

You may also find that if you “Like” BOTH of the business pages, you will receive faster notifications of the other players as they post their answers to compete with you!   Template Header Logo 2

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At Health Insurance 4 Everyone, we not only want to improve our customer service but also interact with our customers on a social media level that wasn’t available before. Interested in connecting with us?  Look us up on….

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Twitter: Healthinsurane4  (Follow Us On Twitter To Receive Faster Notifications When Daily Trivia Questions Posted, & To Be Immediately Notified When Weekly AmEX Gift Card Winners Are Announced!!)

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Follow our word press blog and read about everything from health insurance and reform news to healthy living and current events!

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Body Of Missing Utah 5 Year Old Found, Uncle Charged

Body Of Missing Utah 5 Year Old Found, Uncle Charged

 

 

 

 

Utah police believe they have found the body of missing 5 year old Elizabeth Shelley just days after her uncle Alex Whipple was charged with aggravated murder.  Elizabeth Shelley’s body was found in a wooded area a quarter mile away from her home in Logan.  Court documents state Whipple, 21, has been charged with aggravated murder, child kidnapping, two counts of obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a human body.

Elizabeth’s mother reported her missing from her home on the west side of Logan on Saturday at approximately 10 a.m.  Her mother, Jessica, said she and her live-in boyfriend, Detrich Black, last saw Shelley sleeping in her bed at approximately 1 a.m. when they checked on her before going to bed.  Jessica stated that she had been drinking alcohol with Whipple and Detrich on Friday at approximately 10 p.m. She had invited her brother over via Facebook messenger. Elizabeth and her sister were already in bed when Whipple arrived at the residence. Jessica went to sleep around midnight and told Whipple that he could stay on the couch, court documents state.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., Jessica woke up and found the front door wide open. She recalled both Elizabeth and her brother, Whipple, were missing from the home.  Court documents state Whipple left his cellphone and skateboard at the residence.  The couple briefly looked for Whipple and Elizabeth outside before calling the police.  The couple described her as wearing a red tank top and teal skirt to police and volunteers who began searching the area.

At approximately 3 p.m., Whipple was located in a remote area near the home.  In his possession, police found a baseball bat, a pipe commonly used for narcotics, personal items and a Pabst Blue Ribbon 24-ounce beer can. He was transported to the Logan City Police Department for questioning.  At the station, handcuffs were removed from Whipple and he was left alone in the room.  Officers said he started licking his hands to try and wipe them clean.  Police placed the handcuffs back on him to preserve evidence that may be on Whipple’s hands.

During an interview with police, Whipple initially denied going over to Jessica’s house on Friday night and changed his story several times.  Court documents state Whipple said he drank beer at Jessica’s house and later left the residence to go on a walk because he could tell his sister and her boyfriend were “horny.” He told police he didn’t want to hear anything, so he went on a walk to enjoy the scenery just before sunrise. He claimed he had not seen Elizabeth while he was at her house.  While he initially did not admit to any involvement in his niece’s disappearance, he told officers that when he drinks he sometimes blacks out and does “criminal things”.

When police asked why he left his cellphone and skateboard and why he left the door open, Whipple claimed he didn’t know and that he didn’t need his personal items.  During the interview, investigators noticed dark colored stains on Whipple’s pants that were consistent with dried blood and several cuts on his dirty fingers.  While Whipple was being questioned, investigators found a bloody knife that matched one missing from the Shelley home in a nearby parking lot, a PVC pipe with a red substance on it and a partial palm print, along with a teal skirt that was hastily buried under dirt and bark.

Court documents show that blood found on the knife, Whipple’s watch and a hooded sweatshirt all had positive matches to Elizabeth’s DNA profile. The beer can tested positive for Whipple’s DNA and the palm print on the PVC pipe was determined to be Whipple’s.  When confronted with this evidence, Whipple admitted to the killing and drew a map for police to located her body in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Video Shows Broward County Deputy Assaulting Teen

Video Shows Broward County Deputy Assaulting Teen

 

 

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The Broward County Sheriff’s Department says it will probe the actions of officers caught on camera brutally assaulting teenagers after responding to a call about an after-school fight in a McDonald’s parking lot near their high school in Coral Springs.  Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen said in a statement that the deputy shown in the viral video should be fired.  The incident between the teen and deputy was captured on cellphone video by a group of teens who had gathered at a McDonald’s parking lot after school to watch two teens fight.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said he would launch a “thorough investigation” into deputies who are shown on video pepper-spraying, tackling and punching teens near J.P. Taravella High.  “It may take some time but we will be transparent, and if folks need to be held accountable, it shall be done,” he said in a video statement.  One of the deputies involved, Christopher Krickovich, has been with the department for six years and is on restricted assignment pending the investigation.  The other deputy, Sgt. Greg LaCerra, has been with the Sheriff’s Office for 17 years and his status is unclear.

The cellphone video appears to show one deputy who responded to the scene restraining a teenager in the parking lot when another deputy pushes away a girl who appeared to grab a phone from the ground.  When another teen intervenes, the same deputy then uses pepper spray on the teen before grabbing him and taking him to the ground.  Two other deputies then jump in, one of them straddles the boy who is face down on the ground, punched him in the head repeatedly before grabbing him by the back of the neck and slamming his face into the pavement.  The victim, a 14-year-old student at J.P. Taravella High School, was left bleeding heavily and was later rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

It all began with the initial 911 call at 2:55 p.m. reporting that several students had gathered in the Tamarac McDonald’s parking lot, a popular after-school hangout.  A follow-up call at 3:08 p.m. reported that kids were fighting.  Krickovich wrote in a police report that he and LaCerra saw a fight starting but it ended before they got close enough to break it up. They also spotted a student who had been warned not to trespass at the shopping center and arrested him.  “While I was dealing with the male on the ground, I observed his phone slide to the right of me and then behind me.

I observed a teen wearing a red tank top reach down and attempt to grab the male student’s phone,” Krickovich wrote.  The teen “took an aggressive stance” toward LaCerra, “bladed his body and began clenching his fists,” Krickovich wrote. At that point, one of the deputies pepper-sprayed and “quickly jumped on the male with the red tank top,” Krickovich wrote, saying he was fearing for his safety.  The teen’s “left arm was free and next to him, while he placed his right arm under his face. I struck the male in the right side of his head with a closed fist as a distractionary technique to free his right hand. This technique was successful and I was able to place him into handcuffs without further incident.”  Krickovich’s also stated in the police report that the three officers were outnumbered by about 200 students “who were yelling, threatening us and surrounding us, I had to act quickly, fearing I would get stuck or having a student potentially grab weapons off of my belt or vest.”

Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen said the deputy who threw the student to the ground should be suspended at the very minimum and the deputy who punched the student and pushed his head into the ground should be removed.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Man Charged In Death of USC Student’s Murder

Man Charged In Death of USC Student’s Murder

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Autopsy results have been released in the case of murdered 21-year-old USC student Samantha Josephson, showing she died of “multiple sharp force injuries.” Police believe the University of South Carolina senior and aspiring lawyer was kidnapped and killed after she mistakenly got into a car she believed to be her Uber ride after leaving a bar around 2am Friday morning in Columbia, South Carolina.  The suspect, Nathaniel Rowland, was arrested Saturday and charged with murder and kidnapping.

The investigation began after friends of 21-year-old Josephson filed a missing person’s report around 1:30 p.m. Friday. They told police they were separated from her the night before in the Five Points district and had not been able to get in touch with her after she did not return to The Hub, an apartment complex on Main Street where she lived with friends.  Clarendon County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a body found in a rural area 70 miles from Columbia, around 4pm Friday. Turkey hunters found a body, later identified as Josephson, in a field near a wooded area about 40 feet off a dirt road.

Around the same time, Columbia police publicized Josephson was missing and shared details of a related vehicle.  Surveillance video shows Josephson standing near the road of a crowded street corner, on her cell phone, reportedly trying to find her Uber driver.  A black Chevrolet Impala pulls up into a parking spot next to where she’s standing and she’s seen getting into the back seat of the vehicle.  Prosecutors said 24-year-old Nathanial Rowland, who is not a driver for Uber or Lyft, activated the child locks on his car when Josephson got in, trapping her.

Rowland was arrested around 3 a.m. Saturday, after a Columbia canine officer on patrol spotted the black Chevrolet Impala that matched the description of the vehicle involved in Josephson’s disappearance, two blocks from the Five Points area.  When the officer stopped the vehicle and asked Rowland to step out of the vehicle, he fled on foot.  The officer took him into custody after a foot chase and returned to the vehicle, where a large amount of blood was discovered in the trunk of the vehicle.

Investigators would later find her cell phone, bleach, window cleaner and more blood in the vehicle. Investigators also discovered that the child locks were enabled so Josephson would have been trapped in the back seat of the car.  Police say that there was a woman in the car with Rowland at the time of his arrest, she has been described as a friend of the suspect and is co-operating with the investigation.

Arrest warrants say Josephson had “numerous wounds evident on multiple parts of her body to include her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot.”  Josephson was a senior at USC majoring in political science, according to Jeffrey Stensland, a USC spokesman from the communications department.  Josephson would have graduated this spring and had planned to start law school in the fall.

Samantha’s father, Seymour Josephson, said he would dedicate himself to improving the safety of ride-sharing services.  Her mother Marci Josephson described her daughter as bubbly, loving, kind and full of life.  In her comments to the judge she said “There are no words to describe the immense pain his actions have caused our family and friends.  He’s taken away a piece of our heart, soul and life.”  She also described Rowland’s alleged actions as senseless and vile.

Rowland has not appeared in court and the date of his bond hearing has not yet been set but he will remain in jail until then.  If convicted, Rowland could face up to life in prison or the possibility of the death penalty. Under South Carolina law, kidnapping carries up to 30 years in prison.

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Felony Charges For Dallas Man Involved in Violent Parking Lot Attack

Felony Charges For Dallas Man Involved in Violent Parking Lot Attack

 

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Texas police have dropped a felony arrest warrant against 24 year old L’Daijohnique Lee, who was threatened with a gun and brutally beaten by 30-year-old Austin Shuffield in a Dallas parking lot on March 21.   Shuffield’s own charges were upgraded after video of the assault went viral.  The attack occurred after what should have been a minor traffic dispute but quickly escalated to violence.

The assault began when Lee’s car was reportedly blocking the exit the parking lot exit behind a barbershop and bar where Shuffield worked serving drinks.  The victim told police that she was driving the wrong way down a street when Shuffield stopped her, got out of his truck and told her to move out of the way because she was blocking the exit to the parking lot.  She said after she moved her car into the parking lot, Shuffield followed her and they got into an argument.  When she tried calling 911, Shuffield slapped her phone out of her hand.

Bystander video shows Shuffield confronting her with a gun in his hand.  When the victim pulled out her phone to call 911, Sheffield slapped it out of her hand.  After he slapped her phone out of her hand she hit him.   Shuffield is then seen savagely punching Lee at least five times while shouting racial slurs before attempting to kick or stomp on her phone that was still on the ground.

Initially Lee was charged with felony criminal mischief for allegedly smashing the windows of Shuffield’s truck after she was assaulted by him but those charges were later dropped.  The assault left Lee with a concussion and cranial swelling.  Shuffield was arrested minutes after the attack and charged with one count of assault and interference with an emergency call.  He was released the next day on the two misdemeanor charges

His charges were upgraded last week after video of the assault circulated on several social media outlets, sparking protests.  His upgraded charges include unlawfully carrying a weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, bodily injury, interfering with an emergency call and public-intoxication misdemeanor charges.  He has since been released from jail.  Shuffield was fired from his job as a bartender at Deep Ellum’s High and Tight Barbershop and his former employer said it was shocking to see such violent behavior from someone who was otherwise a very good employee.

L’Daijohnique Lee’s attorney Lee Merritt said that his client was “pleased” to learn that Shuffield will face more serious charges. “Ms. Lee will fully cooperate with DA John Creuzot who has indicated he would like to interview her directly in order to ensure a thorough presentation to the Grand Jury,” Merrit said in a statement. “We believe that additional details from the DA investigation will warrant hate crime enhancements as well.”

Merritt criticized the Dallas police officer who arrested Shuffield for not filing the felony charges in the first place, and credited the backlash on social media and protests in Deep Ellum with spurring the police department to take action. “Despite reviewing video evidence, independent witness statements, securing a firearm and receiving the victim statement,” Merritt wrote. “However, we are grateful that after significant community backlash and protest more serious charges were perused. The delay however has allowed a dangerous assailant to continue to roam freely among the public and had caused Ms. Lee a great deal of unrest.”

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on NY State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue and Sackler Family Members

NY State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue and Sackler Family Members

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New York State announced a sweeping lawsuit against members of the Sackler family, the owner of Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, the highly addictive drug at the center of the opioid epidemic.  A group of over 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes have filed suit against Purdue and 8 members of the Sackler family, which founded and owns Purdue Pharma, for their role in creating “the worst drug crisis in American history” by lying about the dangers of the opioid painkiller OxyContin and deceitful marketing of the drug.

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused the Sacklers of masterminding a scheme that “literally profited off of … suffering and death.”  While announcing the suit, James said “And as Purdue sold more and more opioids, the Sackler family transferred more and more wealth into their personal accounts. And as the lawsuits have piled up against the Sackler family and Purdue for their roles in this crisis, they continue to move funds into trusts and, yes, offshore accounts.”  The suit states that the Sackler family is worth an estimated $13 billion, partly due to the more-than-decade-long marketing campaign to boost sales of OxyContin.  At the same time, the economic cost to the U.S. for the opioid epidemic was $504 billion in 2015, the lawsuit contends.  Former Purdue CEO Richard Sackler allegedly touted the drug for unapproved uses and that Purdue workers were instructed to tell doctors the painkillers were not addictive and could help an “enhanced lifestyle,” according to the suit.

Portions of a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts against Purdue that were made public, allege that the company, the Sackler family, and company executives misled prescribers and patients as they aimed to blanket the country with prescriptions for their addictive medications.  Five years after the drug was released to the market, questions were raised about the risk of addiction and overdoses that came with taking OxyContin and opioid medications.  Richard Sackler outlined a strategy that critics have long accused the company of unleashing: divert the blame onto others, particularly the people who became addicted to opioids themselves.  In a February 2001 email he wrote “We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible.  They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.”  The Massachusetts suit claims “By their misconduct, the Sacklers have hammered Massachusetts families in every way possible and the stigma they used as a weapon made the crisis worse.”  The complaint reveals that since 2007, Purdue has sold more than 70 million doses of opioids in Massachusetts for more than $500 million. “And the stigma they used as a weapon made the crisis worse.”

Purdue and the family denied any wrongdoing in a statement “The latest legal action is part of a larger effort to “single out Purdue,” and fault it for the entire crisis.  Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors vigorously denies the allegations in the complaint and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading allegations,” the statement said.

The state of Oklahoma recently reached a $270 million agreement with Purdue Pharma—settling a lawsuit that claimed the company contributed to the deaths of thousands of Oklahoma residents by downplaying the risk of opioid addiction and overstating the drug’s benefits.  More than $100 million of the settlement will fund a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University.  The settlement is the first Purdue has made amid more than 2,000 pending lawsuits connecting its painkiller OxyContin to the opioid crisis-which U.S. government data estimates is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Second Parkland Survivor Suicide Sparks Town Hall Meeting

Second Parkland Survivor Suicide Sparks Town Hall Meeting

 

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Authorities have identified a second survivor of the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who has committed suicide this month.  Sixteen-year-old Calvin Desir took his own life on Saturday, just days after 19-year-old Sydney Aiello had killed herself.  Seventeen students, staff and teachers were killed in Parkland on Valentine’s Day last year, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Sydney Aiello had suffered from PTSD and survivor’s guilt after the shooting that that took the life of close friend Meadow Pollack.  It’s unclear if Calvin, who was a sophomore at the school, suffered from survivor’s guilt as Aiello’s family have confirmed.  School district officials, community leaders, law enforcement and concerned parents met on Sunday to discuss how to address the trauma and identify possible warning signs.  A mental health and suicide prevention town hall meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 6 pm, at the Coral Spring City Hall.  A spokesperson for the city hall said “We simply cannot let the events of that day take the lives of any more of our children. As a city, we are committed to shining a light on those who suffer in the darkness. The mental health of our children and all those who have been affected by the MSD tragedy must be made a priority.”

The meeting hosted a panel of experts who answered questions from those wanting to help children cope with trauma.  Experts offered advice on how parents can connect with teenagers who isolate themselves, discussed alternative methods of therapy and whether adults can safely talk with children about suicide.  Jackie Rosen, executive director of the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, said parents should feel confident to talk about mental health with their children and begin those conversations “as soon as possible.”  Experts also encouraged promoting mental health for teachers.  “To the teachers in the room, the first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to take care of you, take care of yourself and make sure that you are as strong and as nurturing as you can be for yourself,” said Patrice Rotolo, clinical director for Smith Community Mental Health.  “Take care of your own needs because that’s the best way to meet the needs of your students.”

As news of the Parkland suicides circulated, it was confirmed that the father of a 6-year-old girl who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was found dead by apparent suicide on Monday. Jeremy Richman, a neuroscientist who, after the death of his daughter Avielle, devoted his life to finding solutions to brain abnormalities that lead to violence. He founded the Avielle Foundation to support brain science research, with the ultimate goal of preventing violence and building compassion.

Six year old Avielle Richman, who was the only child of Richman and his wife, Jennifer Hensel, was among the 26 people killed in the Dec. 2012 shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary.   The couple had two more children after Avielle’s death.  Hensel wrote in a statement this week, “To parent our children without my champion shatters my heart and I will love my best friend forever. … Side by side since 1991, Jeremy and I walked a path of deep friendship, marriage, and parenthood.  “He succumbed to the grief that he could not escape,” she wrote.

Tragically, these recent deaths speak to how critical it is to shatter the stigma of mental health issues and for people suffering or affected by it to seek help for themselves, loved ones and anyone who we suspect may be in need.   If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Jury Rules Against Bayer in 2nd Roundup Cancer Trial

Jury Rules Against Bayer in 2nd Roundup Cancer Trial

 

 

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A San Francisco jury found that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide was a “substantial factor” in the cancer of California resident Edwin Hardeman. Hardeman says he sprayed the widely used herbicide on his property for almost three decades and once got the product directly on his skin. He has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The jury will now consider damages owed by Bayer, which owns Monsanto.  The federal case could have implications for thousands of others accusing the company of making them sick.

More than 11,000 people have filed suit against Monsanto Company (now Bayer) alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, alledging that Monsanto covered up the risks. As part of the discovery process, Monsanto has had to turn over millions of pages of its internal records.  More than 760 lawsuits are pending in U.S. District Court in San Francisco and the cases have been combined for handling as multidistrict litigation (MDL) under Judge Vince Chhabria.

The jury came to this verdict despite the judge barring evidence about Monsanto’s efforts to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer, after it classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.  Monsanto spent millions of dollars on various secretive tactics aimed at discrediting IARC.  Documents show the company discussing using third parties who appeared to be independent of Monsanto to publicly criticize IARC and push Monsanto propaganda points.  Internal Monsanto records show the company’s role in ghostwriting an article that appeared on Forbes’ contributors’ platform, and they show that the company was behind a story published by Reuters in 2017 that falsely claimed an IARC scientist withheld information from IARC that would have changed the classification.

The judge also barred evidence about how Monsanto worked to discredit French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini after publication of his 2012 study findings about rats fed water dosed with Roundup. Internal Monsanto records show a coordinated effort to get the Seralini paper retracted, including an email string between Monsanto employees who apparently were so proud of what they called a “multimedia event that was designed for maximum negative publicity” against Seralini that they designated it as an “achievement” worth recognition.

The judge did allow portions of a 2015 internal Monsanto email to be introduced as evidence.  In the email, company scientist Bill Heydens discusses plans to ghostwrite a series of new scientific papers that will contradict IARC’s classification of glyphosate.   In the email, Heydens remarks on how this plan is similar to the ghostwriting of a scientific paper written and published in 2000 in response to another study that found glyphosate to be unsafe.

Officials with Monsanto owner Bayer AG are feeling the effects of the decision has the company’s share prices dropped even lower. The company’s shares already took a huge hit in August after the jury in the first Roundup cancer trial found that the company’s herbicides caused cancer.  In August 2018, a state jury awarded  former school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson nearly $300 million in damages after Monsanto’s Roundup was found to be responsible for his cancer, though the amount was later reduced to $78 million.  Of course, Monsanto appealed the verdict and Johnson has cross appealed, seeking to reinstate the jury award.

 

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Christchurch Mosque Shootings

Christchurch Mosque Shootings

 

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At least 49 people were killed and 48 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019.  The attack occurred around lunchtime when the mosques were full of worshipers. Footage of the massacre was streamed live online, and a rambling 87 page manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the shootings unfolded.  Police also neutralized two improvised explosive devices attached to one vehicle near the mosque.

The suspected shooter, Brenton Tarrant, 28, live-streamed 17 minutes of video which included footage of himself inside the first mosque, going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away.  In the 6 minutes Tarrant was inside, forty-one people were killed at the Al Noor Mosque.  The live streamed footage also showed the gunman casually talking and laughing as he walked out of the mosque where he shot at people near the area before driving away at high speed, heading for the Linwood Islamic Centre, about 3 miles away.  Another 7 people were killed at the Linwood Mosque, an eighth victim later died in the hospital. Tarrant was apprehended as he fled the Linwood Mosque when two police officers ran his car off the road.

Tarrant has been charged with murder and two other men remain in custody, although their link to the attack is unknown.  None of the men in custody have a criminal history.  Tarrant is an Australian-born former personal trainer who is believed to have been radicalized during his travels abroad. According to the Independent, Tarrant met with right-wing extremists while taking a trip to Europe in 2017, and also traveled to Pakistan and North Korea.  Authorities have said that Tarrant had become obsessed with terrorist attacks committed by radical Islamists in Europe in 2016 and 2017.

According to his manifesto, he started planning a revenge attack about two years prior to the attack and chose his targets three months in advance.  The manifesto expresses several anti-immigrant sentiments including hate speech against migrants, white supremacist rhetoric, and calls for non-European immigrants such as Roma, Indians, Turkish people, Semitic people and others allegedly “invading his land” to be removed.  Tarrant describes himself as an ethno-nationalist and refers to revenge for European civilians who were casualties in Islamic terrorist attacks within Europe as motivation for his attack.  He repeatedly mentions revenge for Ebba Åkerlund, a victim in the 2017 Stockholm truck attack.

Prime Minister Ardern called the incident an “act of extreme and unprecedented violence” and said “this is one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”  She also described it as a well-planned terrorist attack.  Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel stated that she never thought “anything like this” could happen in New Zealand, saying “everyone is shocked”.  Many other politicians and world leaders have condemned the attacks and world leaders attribute the attack to rising Islamophobia.

Prime Minister Ardern announced: “Our gun laws will change, now is the time… People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that.”  Attorney-General David Parker was later quoted as saying that the government will ban semi-automatic guns but later said the government had not yet committed to anything and that regulations around semi-automatic weapons was “one of the issues” the government would consider.

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