Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Stre$$ed Out

Maybe it is the self-centered, $elf-$erving supremacism that is getting to me....

"Stress tracker could help find better ways to relax" by Karen Weintraub Globe Correspondent  September 27, 2015

Robert Goldberg wants to measure Boston’s stress. Then, he wants to relieve it.

His tool? A monitor strapped to the wrist that measures the steam-between-the-ears stress of rush-hour traffic or the soothing effects of an afternoon nap.

The neuroscientist wants to attach stress-readers to thousands of Bostonians, hoping the data will help identify which college triggers the most anxiety, which highway induces the most stress, and which companies have the mellowest workforce.

Then, he wants to take the same measurements of other cities to compare Boston’s stress index against the world’s. To measure this stress, Goldberg helped found and now runs Neumitra, a 6-year-old startup that has so far spent more than $1 million to develop a stress-tracker .

Ultimately, he hopes that awareness will help people reduce their stress levels.

“I founded Neumitra to see a world where mental health is quantified” like physical health, he said. The lack of hard data contributes to the stigma around mental health, said Goldberg, who has a family history of brain health concerns.

Look at the blood-from-the-fangs tribe he's from.

About a dozen public and private partners have agreed to work with Neumitra to distribute the technology to their employees, patients, or students, said Goldberg, whose company is underwritten by grants and private investors, and will eventually be funded by selling the tracker to companies looking to reduce worker stress. Privacy is protected, he promises, with partners getting only group-level data, not personal information. Participants will be able to turn off data sharing at any time. But managers who are pushing their staff over the edge might be outed.

Other local entrepreneurs are developing stress-busting technologies, too, said Ben Rubin, cofounder and chief executive of Change Collective, a website that offers self-help courses to promote healthy change....

I'm wary of any agenda-pushing claim to that effect.

The scientific understanding of stress has deepened over the last few decades, Rubin said, but most of that information has remained “locked up in the academic research or meditation/spiritual communities.” Now, technology is beginning to provide data on personal stress and emotional status, and new treatment approaches....

What if it is the technology stressing you out?

At Neumitra, Goldberg and his cofounders, algorithms engineer Safiyy Momen and biotechnologist Anand Yadav, say they’ve learned a lot about themselves from wearing wrist monitors that track their skin’s electrodermal response, a measure of stress commonly used in lie detector tests.

Don't often see that word in my paper unless it applies to bad guys.

Several unmarried Neumitra staffers have found that dating is one of life’s most stressful events. Gurteg Singh, a research scientist with the company, also recorded a major stress hit when he jumped off a T platform to rescue someone who had fallen to the rails.

Goldberg’s most stressful moment, his tracking shows, was in 2011, when he went to the Pentagon to pitch his monitor to the military’s top brass....

I'll bet the thing starts beeping and flashing when in combat.

The monitoring idea started in an entrepreneurship class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009, when Momen, Yadav, and Goldberg, then classmates, decided they wanted to do something on a grand scale to promote mental health....

GPS tracking, when turned on, will allow users to map where they are most high-strung. Goldberg said that by seeing where their tension starts to rise, users may be able to derive a measure of control.

The device vibrates to indicate rising stress, such as when rushing to a meeting, getting annoyed at a coworker, or blushing at a mistake. The vibration is enough to catch the wearer’s attention, but subtle enough that others won’t notice.

Are you sensing any vibrations now?

Goldberg’s own stress still spikes on the T and when he’s at medical appointments; it’s lower when he’s napping than when he turns in for the night. He has noticed that when he has a short or bad night of sleep, his stress levels are measurably higher the next day.

I'm about to call it a night.

The monitoring has also made him more sensitive to others, Goldberg said. Looking at the fever chart of someone with an anxiety disorder or anyone with a stressful profession or life “really starts to open your eyes to being empathic about what people are experiencing.” 

One word for you: Palestinians.


Did you know M.I.T. $tarted up a student legal department?

Being stressed out from reading the Globe has made me far less productive, so if it's all the same to you I'm going to take the rest of the month off to recharge. See you the 1st of October!

You can chew on this until then.

Sunday Globe Special: The Pirate of New Zealand

Part of the South Pacific sphere:

"Words of ‘modern-day pirate’ are used against him in court" by Nick Perry Associated Press  September 26, 2015

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Prosecutors say Kim Dotcom and his colleagues sometimes reveled in their role as ‘‘modern-day pirates,’’ discussed how to thwart the justice system, and joked that a judge would one day realize how ‘‘evil’’ they were.

The much-delayed extradition hearing for Dotcom and three others who owned or helped run the website Megaupload began in Auckland last week in a case that could have broader implications for Internet copyright rules.

Megaupload was shut down by US authorities in early 2012, but not before prosecutors claim it raked in some $175 million, mainly from people who flocked to the site to illegally download movies.

That's when I stopped watching.

Dotcom has been listening to the arguments while slowly swiveling in his black leather armchair, a concession by the judge to his bad back. Parked outside the court is a remnant from the high-rolling lifestyle Dotcom long embraced — a black Mercedes SUV with the vanity plate ‘‘’’

Federal authorities have charged Dotcom and the others with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering. A summary of the US case is being presented by New Zealand lawyers as the US attempts to extradite the men to face trial in Virginia.

Lawyer Christine Gordon told a judge that after Dotcom launched Megaupload in 2005, it grew to become so popular that each day 50 million people used the site, sucking up 4 percent of all Internet traffic.

‘‘This was a big fraud but conducted in a fairly simple manner,’’ she said.

‘‘Behind the scenes, the respondents admitted their business broke the law. Sometimes they enjoyed the fact they were making their money by breaking the law,’’ she said. ‘‘Sometimes they worried about protection, and pondered what action they should take to, and I’m quoting here Mr. Dotcom’s words, ‘counter the justice system.’ ’’

That some people used the site for illegally downloading movies is not in dispute. The real question is the extent to which Dotcom and the others knew about this activity, and whether or not they encouraged it. Prosecutors are trying to use the men’s own words against them, after some of their online chatter was intercepted by the FBI.

Remember when that was only going to be used to catch terrorists, we promise?

Sometimes, Gordon said, they joked about being pirates, or how their site wasn’t totally ‘‘legit,’’ or how they weren’t ‘‘the dumb pipe we claim to be.’’

In 2010, she said, Dotcom, in his native German, told a colleague over Skype: ‘‘At some point, a judge will be convinced about how evil we are.’’

The defense has yet to present its case, but Dotcom has long argued that plenty of people used his site to legitimately store files, and he can’t be held responsible for those who elected to use it for illegal downloads. His lawyers say that any action against him should have been taken in civil court and that criminal charges are unjustified.

Professor James Grimmelmann, who specializes in Internet law at the University of Maryland, said the outcome of the case could have important implications in defining the bounds of US copyright law. He likened it to other cases which are testing the Internet’s jurisdictional boundaries, such as the European notion of the right to be forgotten.

Which is why I have the Blogger warning posted prominently. Now what? 

Maybe I'll just forget this.

He said that if Dotcom loses the case, it will make sites like YouTube pay closer attention to ensure they are being vigilant enough in removing copyrighted material. He added that the US courts would probably be careful to define what distinguishes a pirate site from one that is legitimate.

I link to JouTube after using Joogle for music videos and other things. There it is.

In New Zealand, the extradition hearing has been delayed nine times since Dotcom was arrested in early 2012, after a dramatic police raid on his mansion near Auckland. He was released from jail a month later, and has attracted intense media coverage since.

We can only dream of that here, and no one was shot dead?

His unabashedly ostentatious lifestyle was unusual in a nation which often prizes humility. And his arrest hardly seemed to slow him down. He soon released a music album, started another Internet file-sharing company called Mega, and launched a political party which contested the nation’s 2014 election.


But over the past year his star appears to have faded. Some of the money he made from Mega helped fund his political ambitions, which came to nothing after his party failed to win any seats in the election.

I see they have rigged elections in New Zealand (cc: Trump)

Dotcom’s US lawyer, Ira Rothken, said the defense has been disadvantaged because authorities seized more than $60 million belonging to Dotcom and the others and have refused to release some of it to pay legal bills outside of New Zealand. Rothken said his firm is owed more than $500,000, but he is continuing to represent his client because he is confident he will prevail.


Also see: 

New Zealand is Right
New Zealand Sucked Into NSA Scandal

Just letting off some steam.

Those pretending to be pirates:

"A college student from New York and another from London died while kayaking in New Zealand, police said Saturday. Police area commander Dave Gaskin said the men were part of a group of 11 friends who got into trouble Friday while kayaking on Lake Tekapo. The students were attending Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Police identified those who were killed as 21-year-old Daniel Hollnsteiner of New York and 20-year-old James Murphy of London."

Sunday Globe Special: China Dams Cambodia

All part of the South Asian sphere of conflict during WWIII:

"In building dam for Cambodia, China widens role — but at a cost" by Simon Denyer Washington Post  September 12, 2015

PHLUK, Cambodia — The thump of jackhammers and the whine of drills pierce the air as workmen in safety hats build a massive concrete wall that rises slowly above the river.

Here, in lush northeastern Cambodia, the $800 million Lower Sesan 2 Dam stands as a potent symbol of China’s growing reach, and Beijing’s ambitious plans to expand its influence throughout Asia by building vital infrastructure.

Nearly 5,000 people are likely to be evicted from their villages when the dam’s reservoir fills, and almost 40,000 living along the banks of the Sesan and Srepok rivers stand to lose most of the fish they rely on for food, yet this dam project is part of a much larger Chinese ambition, billed as the great rejuvenation of the nation.

We won't mention Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, is making a bold move to restore what he sees as Beijing’s place at the center of Asia.

This is a new assertive China, with a grand strategic vision to match its still considerable economic might, countering President Obama’s foreign policy ‘‘rebalance’’ toward Asia with hundreds of billions of dollars of new investment of its own in its neighbors.

SeeChina is preparing to revamp military, taking page from US

Related: China’s Leadership: Brilliant or Clueless?

Even as Xi, keen to be seen as Obama’s equal on the world stage, prepares for a historic visit to the United States later this month, he is working behind the scenes to surpass it as Asia’s regional power.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Cambodia, a country that has found itself drawn into China’s orbit and lured away from the West with the promise of billions of dollars of easy money, offered with no strings attached and often in the blink of an eye, for roads, bridges, and dams.

‘‘Without infrastructure, you can’t revive,’’ Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol said in an interview. ‘‘We have been blamed for always going to China, but it is because we need infrastructure fast and quick, nothing more than that. Are there any conditions put on Cambodia by China? I can tell you, absolutely nothing. No conditions at all.’’

China sees opportunity in Asia much the way the United States once saw — and grasped — opportunities in Latin America. Beijing’s plans are already unfolding across the region, with China simultaneously making new friends, and new enemies, as it spreads its wings.

Are they going to work with right-wing regimes that murder thousands like the US?

Cambodia emerged in ruins from the chaos of the Vietnam War and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Now at peace, its economy is growing fast, but the country is in desperate need of transport infrastructure and power. 

Let's just skip over the US role in those atrocities.

China is providing the cash with none of the tiresome and time-consuming conditions the World Bank attaches to its lending, Cambodian officials say, and none of the complaints about human rights that emanate from the United States. There isn’t even much obvious concern about corruption. 

I heard corruption was good for an economy, and after the torture and mass murder under cover of war the U.S. can hardly be credible with the human rights. 

Throw on top of that the hunger and police brutality at home and the criticism emanating from those quarters is downright laughable.

Yet in the villages around the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, the drawbacks of this Chinese largesse soon become apparent. This is a project being brokered by the two nations’ elites with little or no consideration of the impact on local communities.

Why did Bo$ton just spring to mind?

With the threatened loss of most of the rivers’ fisheries resources because the dam will block key fish migration routes, experts say, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians could feel the impact across the vast Mekong River Basin. The dam could take away a key source of protein in a desperately poor country where many people depend on fishing.

The dam, according to a study by Ian Baird at the University of Wisconsin Madison, will result in ‘‘increased malnutrition and poverty over a wide area in Cambodia.’’

See Gaza.

It is, another study suggests, the most damaging of dozens of dams proposed for the Mekong’s tributaries in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos by 2030.

Yet the environmental assessment reports for the dam have failed to take this into account, and the project includes no provision for compensation for lost fish stocks.

‘‘This dam is not in a great location, it is a relatively expensive project, and it will have a major environmental and social impact,’’ said Baird, who is a geography professor. ‘‘There is no way the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank would touch this.’’

In Phluk, a village just downstream from the dam site, fishermen casting their nets into the river say dynamite explosions by Chinese engineers — as well as murky, cement-filled waters flowing from the construction site — have already depressed catches significantly.


Can't talk about Cambodia without talking about Vietnam:

Pilot who died in Vietnam 50 years ago is buried

Time to grab the first flight out:

"The airstrip will likely be used for turboprop patrol, but it could easily be equipped for “full military action” if needed, Hardy said. The most important function of the strip, he said, will be as yet another site for Chinese listening devices and early warning radar. The South China Sea is one area of disagreement between China and the United States that will be discussed during a state visit by President Xi Jinping to Washington next week."

Sorry I've been MIA regarding the latest round of conflicts, this one surrounding the South China Sea and an airstrip on one reef that is only 20 miles from a small Philippine military garrison on an existing tiny island.

Then, in an abrupt and unexpected thrust, Chinese tanks and troops turned and made a stab into Tibet, capturing the Dalai Lama and one other CIA spy (silly, I know). 

All was quiet on the Eastern Front until an American was attacked in Korea:

"North Korea says it will launch satellites" Associated Press  September 15, 2015

SEOUL — North Korea said Monday it is ready to launch satellites aboard long-range rockets to mark a key national anniversary next month, a move expected to rekindle animosities with its rivals South Korea and the United States.

A National Aerospace Development Administration director said the North has been making ‘‘shining achievements’’ in the space development field ahead of the 70th birthday of the Workers’ Party, saying scientists and technicians are pushing forward on a final development phase for a new earth observation satellite for weather forecasts.

‘‘Space development for peaceful purposes is a sovereign state’s legitimate right . . . and the people of [North Korea] are fully determined to exercise this right no matter what others may say about it,’’ the director told Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The launches, if made, are certain to trigger an international standoff, with Seoul, Washington, and other neighboring countries condemning past launches as disguised tests of the North’s long-range missile technology and Pyongyang making a furious response to the criticism....

Washington sees North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles as a threat to world security and to its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.

The North’s announcement Monday also raised doubt about recent signs of easing animosities between the rival Koreas, which have agreed to hold reunions next month of families separated by war.

SeeKoreas agree to hold reunions of war-divided families

Why hold them hostage?



Cambodian refugee’s ceramic artwork garners honors

Dalai Lama blesses followers after release from clinic

Also see:

After 6 months, North Korea frees student

Dalai Lama says his health excellent

Sunday Globe Special: Mexican Mulch

Forgive the offensiveness if any; however, the title fits the theme of the day:

"Marking a year since 43 disappeared; Against odds, seeking hope for Mexican students who vanished a year ago" by Paulina Villegas New York Times   September 26, 2015

MEXICO CITY — The color of grief [is] shared by the families of the missing, who have come here this weekend from their farming villages to commemorate the disappearance of their sons, all students at a teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, in rural Guerrero state. Snatched from buses by the local police in Iguala, the students were hauled off, handed to a violent drug gang, and never seen again.

Exactly one year later, the facts are as unknown as the whereabouts of the victims.

Buried, if you will (blog editor frowns at pun and grits teeth).


The case struck a nerve with the Mexican public, a tragic distillation of the tangle of corruption and complicity that governs life in parts of Mexico.

It's a global epidemic if you want the truth.

In this case, the suspected involvement of local law enforcement and powerful drug gangs tore open the lives of 43 families whose children were studying to become teachers.

The CIA is the world's largest drug smuggler. It's an unacknowledged (in the pre$$) open secret.

An outside panel of experts that reviewed the investigation concluded that the night the students disappeared, federal police and army officers were aware of the violence and did not intervene.

On Saturday, thousands of people marched through the city to commemorate the tragedy. It was a long way from the protests a year earlier, when the parents were joined by half a million people, [but] while the march was smaller than past demonstrations, the case has served to publicize the thousands who have gone missing since Mexico’s drug war started in 2006....

More casualties of false wars.

The initial public anger over the missing students’ case has given way to a profound cynicism among Mexicans, one that has dragged the president’s poll numbers down to the lowest for any president in two decades. The case in Iguala marked the beginning of a slide in credibility for this government that has continued ever since.

That pretty much sums up my blogging experience, yeah.

Unrelated embarrassments in the last year have only heightened the cynicism, including the escape of the country’s most notorious drug lord from a maximum-security prison and questionable loans taken by the president’s wife from a state contractor.

You can take a stroll through Mexico at your own risk.

“Mexico is not the same after Iguala,” Luis Raúl González, president of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, said in a statement in July. “The tragedy transcends Guerrero.”

Mexico's 9/11?

On Thursday, the parents met with President Enrique Peña Nieto, asking him, among other things, to pursue the lines of investigation raised by the outside panel, which said it found no evidence to support the government’s conclusion that the students were killed by the drug gang and their bodies then burned to ashes in a garbage dump.

Nothing new there.

The president agreed to create a specialized prosecutors’ unit for missing people and reminded the parents that 111 people had been arrested in the case.

“We want the same thing, to know what happened to each of their sons and for there to be justice,” the president said in a Twitter post after the meeting....

You can read about a son who vanished with 42 other college students a year ago in southern Mexico.


Also see: No Mexican Picnic in Egypt

Sunday Globe Special: Fall Harvest

The leaves have begun falling slightly, still waiting for the first frost.... 

"Hidden beneath the Arctic, a Noah’s Ark for plant life" by Sarah Kaplan Washington Post   September 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — Tucked in a mountain on a remote Arctic island, beneath several hundred feet of rock and a near-constant blanket of snow, two imposing steel doors lock out the wind and bitter cold.

Behind them, a long tunnel leads to a series of quiet, concrete rooms. Austere fluorescent bulbs illuminate thousands of black boxes crowded upon row after row of shelves, each box packed to the brim with dozens of heat-sealed silver packets.

In each packet is a handful of sleeping seeds — the last-resort guarantors of the future of our food.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in 2008 as a ‘‘backstop’’ for seed banks around the world, in case their own archives of agricultural heritage are threatened by disaster. Isolated by miles of sea and acres of forbidding ice from the specter of earthquakes, heat waves, and human menace, the vault and its contents will last 1,000 years.

It’s a sort of Noah’s Ark for plants, built to withstand the events (wars, crop-disease, climate change, asteroid impacts) that might wipe a species from the rest of the planet.

What is being planned out there by the global depopulation crowd? Nuclear war or is it just an asteroid headed this way? Whatever it is, I'm sure Israel will cite Ahmadinejad.

But just seven years after the vault’s steel doors first opened, admitting contributions from seed banks around the world into the frozen sanctuary, 130 of the boxes are being recalled.

They belong to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (or ICARDA), which until two years ago stored thousands of seeds in a vault in Aleppo, Syria, according to Reuters.

The ICARDA center, like so many other important institutions in the civil war-ravaged nation, was displaced by the conflict, and, in the process, 325 boxes of duplicate seeds were sent to Svalbard for safekeeping. Now resettled in Beirut, the organization wants some of its samples back.

Though often described as a ‘‘doomsday’’ vault, a bulwark of biodiversity to protect global famine, the Svalbard bank was actually made for this kind of smaller withdrawal. In fact, the former Global Crop Diversity Trust executive director Cary Fowler, who now serves as a senior adviser helping care for the vault, bristled at the ‘‘doomsday’’ description.

‘‘We’re not people who run around with signs saying ‘Repent, the end is near.’ . . . You don’t have to have some kind of global catastrophe for this thing to be useful,’’ Fowler told the Atlantic in 2012. “We’re losing biodiversity right now, and it isn’t necessarily because of some global catastrophe.’’

Financial crash?

It seems humanity is perfectly capable of destroying its agricultural heritage — and possibly its future — using entirely conventional means.

Why do you think I've spent time here these last nine years? All my efforts at prevention and we are still on the cusp.

The notion of storing and preserving seeds is hardly new. Arguably, it dates back to the beginnings of agriculture itself, in the ‘‘Fertile Crescent’’ that arced across much of the Middle East, including Syria. By saving some seeds each harvest, farmers were able to guarantee next year’s crops.

Yeah, survival seems to occupy a lot of human concern and time.

According to the New Yorker, these seeds were guarded vigilantly — packed into baskets full of ash and buried underground, sealed in adobe containers and stored in thatched huts. If a community’s seeds didn’t make it through the year, the community itself likely wouldn’t make it either.

The next 10,000 or so years of careful cultivation gave rise to a vast array of domesticated plants; there are more than 250,000 species of edible plant, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), each represented by dozens, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of varieties.

One hundred years ago, for example, there were more than 7,000 kinds of apple grown in the US — ‘‘Arkansas Beauties’’ that melted in your mouth and the tender, juicy ‘‘Massachusetts Magnolia.’’ But now, according to a TED Talk given by Fowler, all but 300 are extinct.

Supposedly a good apple season 'round h're this year.

Those that vanished are kept alive only in the genetic material carried by the tiny seeds inside banks like the one in Svalbard.

‘‘This is the inheritance of the Neolithic times and our time and everything in between,’’ Fowler told the Atlantic. ‘‘I guess I see it as a library, a library of life, that gives the history and culture of agriculture and protects it, but it’s also a resource for the future.’’

Loss of biodiversity has become a worldwide trend, as farmers abandon a wealth of varieties for the ones they know will work. Why bother growing a blush-colored ‘‘Tenderskin,’’ which is really only great in pie, when millions of bushels of all-purpose red delicious sell every year?

The FAO estimates that 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost in the past century, and notes that three species — wheat, rice, and corn — account for nearly two thirds of all calories consumed today.

I suppose it is the same with plants as it is with people and animals.

They GMO seeds?

This fact makes us incredibly vulnerable, the FAO, Fowler, and others argue. If farmers are only growing a few types of apples, what’s to be done if a crop disease comes through and wipes them all out? Even more frightening, what if the same thing happened to rice, or wheat?

I suppose there would be a global famine, billions would die, and the wealthy elite will be just fine.

That’s more than just a hypothetical scenario.

Now that is frightening.

Plant pathologist researchers are currently ferociously investigating a wheat rust known as Ug99, which arose in Uganda more than a decade ago and has destroyed countless acres of crops in Africa and the Middle East. According to The Scientist, about 90 percent of the world’s wheat varieties are vulnerable to the rust.

Sometimes one wonders what biological weapon the western powers may have deployed. Would take out vast areas of troublesome people. Cui bono?


Sorry for letting this blog go to seed, figuratively speaking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sunday Globe Special: Naughty Nurses

"State finds license fraud by 13 nurses; Raises broader fears on medical credentials" by Kay Lazar and Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  September 13, 2015

Massachusetts regulators revoked or suspended the professional licenses of 13 nurses after discovering recently that the health care workers lied about having nursing degrees or being licensed in other states, health department documents show.

The action sparked questions about the background checks state regulators rely on to issue licenses to thousands of nurses and applicants in 10 other health fields, including pharmacists, psychologists, podiatrists, and optometrists.

More $tate incompetence, and could this also be tied into the meningitis murder scandal?

And the discovery raised the unsettling prospect that patients might have been treated by health care workers with fraudulent credentials, although regulators said there is no evidence so far linking the nurses to any patient safety or quality of care issues. 

The cover ip has already begun.

At least five of the nurses whose licenses were revoked had actually been working as nurses in Massachusetts, according to state documents. But health officials were unable to say where they had been employed.

The state health department said it has referred the apparent fraud cases to the FBI and the state attorney general’s office. A health department spokesman declined to say whether officials believe the cases are related, and a spokeswoman in the attorney general’s office declined comment.

The first hint of a problem emerged in late July when Nursys, a national database for verifying nurses’ licenses, notified the Massachusetts Department of Public Health of potential fraud committed by two women licensed in Massachusetts.

Those two nurses, identified by officials as Edna Tunis of Roslindale and Jesula Eustache of Milton, had applied for licenses in Oregon. But the Oregon State Board of Nursing rejected their applications after finding both women had falsely stated they had passed a national nursing licensure exam, completed a nursing education program, and met the nursing practice requirement.

The women also wrote in their Oregon applications that they were licensed in Massachusetts, which would have allowed them to avoid taking Oregon’s nursing examination under a system known as “reciprocity.” Most state nursing boards waive testing requirements if applicants are already licensed in another state, and both women had received Massachusetts licenses, Eustache in January and Tunis in May.

After being alerted to the Oregon cases, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing suspended both women’s licenses at an emergency meeting in early August. Tunis and Eustache admitted that when they sought licenses in Massachusetts, they falsely stated they had Alabama licenses, according to documents both signed in August.

The acknowledgment by the women of their fraudulent actions prompted members of the nursing board to wonder whether “a larger enterprise” had helped the nurses in their deception, according to minutes of that meeting.

Regulators embarked on a review of licenses recently granted to nurses who stated in their applications that they had licenses in other states. Investigators found 11 similar cases over the past year.

But after another instance emerged, dating to 2012, regulators extended their investigation of licences granted under reciprocity to 2010, according to the state health department. It was not clear whether any action was taken related to the 2012 case.

Last week, the Massachusetts nursing board suspended the licenses of seven nurses. Four others — Jeannot Maceus of Dorchester, Claudel Jean Baptiste of Brockton, Guerla M. Belony of Randoph, and Herold Philippe of Brockton — agreed to have their licenses revoked. They admitted to falsely stating they had licenses from other jurisdictions, including Puerto Rico, Louisiana, Hawaii, and Oklahoma.

“Upon learning about a problem with valid licenses, the Board of Registration in Nursing took decisive action to investigate and suspend the licenses of individuals who fraudulently represented that they were licensed in a reciprocating state,” Scott Zoback, spokesman for the state health department, said in a statement.

State officials suggest that the fraud may have been possible because each applicant claimed to have licenses from one of eight states that do not fully participate in the Nursys online database used to verify licenses.

So everyone will have to throw in with yet another database.

As a result, the company that Massachusetts employs to scour the backgrounds of nursing license applicants would have needed to search for paper records from those states.

That company, Professional Credentials Services of Nashville, also reviews applicants seeking Massachusetts licenses to work as chiropractors, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, pharmacy interns, pharmacy technicians, physical therapists, podiatrists, psychologists, and certified health officers.

Do you know who is treating you?

In the wake of the discovery about the nurses’ applications, the state health department said it is “currently evaluating” whether it will retain Professional Credentials Services for future work.

In the meantime, state regulators have asked Professional Credentials Services to immediately tighten its process for checking applicants’ backgrounds, particularly for those claiming a license from another state.

Attempts late Friday to reach Professional Credentials Services, and its chief executive, Mark Setash, were unsuccessful.

State regulators said three of the nurses had completed education programs to become licensed practical nurses, but had falsely indicated they had more advanced training. Others listed nursing degrees from fictitious schools, regulators said.

So they embellished the resume, so what? 

How do they not catch that? (Answer: not looking)



State greatly widens nurse licensing fraud investigation

Nursing licensing inquiry finds gap in process

Company that verified nursing licenses says it followed state’s directions

State reviews nursing licenses after fraud is found

Tufts Medical Center, SEIU local tangle over union drive 

I added that last link to remind myself to tell you what I feel regarding nurses, their treatment by the hospitals, and so on. 

I've stated here many times when a nursing strike comes about that you should GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!! No patient wants an angry or unhappy nurse. That's not to say they will try to harm you; it is only to say as a patient I want them happy. Period, end of discussion.

Looks like some are resorting to other means:

"Mass. General to pay $2.3 million over drug thefts" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff   September 28, 2015

Massachusetts General Hospital will pay a record $2.3 million settlement to the federal government to resolve allegations that its lax control over the facility’s drug supply allowed employees to steal thousands of pain pills, authorities said on Monday.

I'm seeing the gateway to the opioid crisis!

“Diversion of these drugs feeds addiction, contributes to potential illegal drug sales, and fuels the opioid epidemic that has had a devastating effect on the Commonwealth,” US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement. “We commend MGH for disclosing and addressing its diversion problems and for taking steps to ameliorate future diversion by hospital personnel.”

Ortiz’s office said the settlement is the largest amount ever paid for a case involving alleged drug diversion, or the use of substances for nonmedical purposes, at a hospital.

According to the settlement agreement, one nurse identified as J.S. stole 14,492 pills, and a second nurse, identified as J.Z. 1, pilfered 1,429 tablets.

The thefts occurred between October 2011 and April 2015, and most of the pills were the prescription painkiller oxycodone, officials said.

“MGH did not discover J.S.’s actions until she had been stealing for an entire year — even though she sometimes appeared high to co-workers and other times was seen falling asleep at work,” the agreement said. “MGH failed to report these diversions to DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] within one business day as required” under federal law.

Ortiz’s office said authorities began investigating the matter in 2013, after the hospital informed the DEA that two nurses had stolen large amounts of controlled substances.

In a written statement, Mass. General said drug diversion is a challenge for the health care industry nationwide, and that hospital officials are “confident that no patients were harmed by this misconduct and that all patients in need were given the drugs they were prescribed.”

“We are committed to ensuring that this does not happen again in the future,” Mass. General said, adding that the pill count discrepancies represented less than 1 percent of the total drugs dispensed during the relevant period at the hospital.

Then it really can't be much of a problem, or this nation is awash in pills. 

Cui bono?

Ortiz’s office said Mass. General has developed a detailed plan to strengthen controls over its drug supply, including the “establishment of an internal drug diversion team; the creation of a full-time drug diversion compliance officer position; mandatory training of all staff with access to controlled substances, including on how to identify the signs and symptoms of substance abuse.”

The plan also includes “enhanced diversion monitoring by supervisors and management; annual external audits to ensure compliance with [federal law]; and increased physical controls of controlled substances, including limiting and monitoring access to automated dispensing machines through fingerprint identification,” prosecutors said.


You know there’s a problem when the guy who is supposed to be in charge has a bag of crack on his desk for no apparent reason.” 

That was where?

Additional instances of drug misconduct cited in court papers included a doctor, identified as E.P., repeatedly prescribing medications to patients without seeing them or maintaining medical records, and nurses identified as M.B., M.M., and R.C., who stole substances.

Court papers indicate that R.C. “had a substance abuse issue off and on for the past twelve years.

“He was found sleeping at work, unsteady on his feet, and with slurred speech. He admitted diverting Dilaudid, a Schedule II drug, and injecting himself at work.”

The settlement did not indicate whether any of the employees cited for misconduct were fired or charged criminally, and neither the hospital nor Ortiz’s office would elaborate.

According to court records, E.P., the doctor, surrendered his federal license to prescribe drugs in 2014.

The ince$tous relation$hips with pharmaceuticals have nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

The hospital said in its statement that all employees referenced in court papers were reported to the state Board of Registration in Medicine, which oversees doctors, or the Board of Registration in Nursing and “offered treatment for their addiction.”

“Employees who successfully complete treatment may return to their clinical work under increased supervision, including random drug tests,” Mass. General said.

Michael J. Ferguson, who heads the New England Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a statement that his agency is “committed to investigating hospitals that are not in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act.”

“The diversion of prescription pain killers, in this case oxycodone, contributes to the widespread abuse of opiates, is the gateway to heroin addiction, and is devastating our communities,” he said.

And yet the PTB seem all bunged up over medical marijuana.


Related: Cleaning Up in Connecticut 

Another unsolved crime flushed down the memory hole.

Also see:

Nursing home faulted anew

State identifies nursing homes cited for misleading Alzheimer's ads

State cites nursing homes for misleading ads on Alzheimer’s care

You don't want to end up in one of those, not in Massachusetts.


"The state’s highest court has ordered a new trial for a Gardner man charged with raping a high school girl at a party at his home, saying the testimony of a state lab chemist was hearsay and should not have been admitted as evidence. Clauzell Jones was sentenced to up to 12 years in prison in 2011, after a jury found him guilty of providing alcohol to the girl in October 2008 and then raping her. Jones, 39 at the time, said the sexual contact was consensual. Jones argued on appeal that the trial judge erred in allowing the prosecution to introduce expert testimony through a State Police chemist who was not present when the alleged victim’s ‘‘rape kit’’ examination was performed by a nurse."

Also seeBrigham and Women’s gears up for a contract battle as nurses union worries about pay, safety

Startup website matches nurses with patient needs

Did you do a license check?

Sunday Globe Special: Planned Parenthood’s Public Relations Push

I don't know what is more abominable, the “profiteering from baby parts” or the birthing of this effort:

"Planned Parenthood works to reassure its political allies" by Jackie Calmes New York Times  September 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — The undercover videos were made over more than two years, yet Planned Parenthood was taken by surprise when the first one was posted online in July.

So was I.

Now one of the biggest crises in the 99-year history of the organization, the nation’s largest provider of women’s reproductive health care, could reach a conclusion this week as conservatives want to shut down the government rather than help fund the group.

Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president, recalled that after an aide alerted her to the initial video by the little-known Center for Medical Progress, an antiabortion group, she thought: “This is not new” — Planned Parenthood had faced such tactics before — “but it’s a new low. And it is going to have reach.”

It sure is -- for them.

Immediately the organization was caught in a storm of internal confusion and defensiveness. There was disquiet among Democratic allies as Republicans, who control Congress and many state capitols, charged that the nonprofit organization was criminally “profiteering in baby parts.” A new video surfaced almost every Tuesday.

But Planned Parenthood has fought back and managed to put some opponents on the defensive after gathering information from its affiliates; hiring lawyers, crisis managers, and video experts to document deceptive edits; and working to solidify support among donors, Democrats, and, according to polls, a majority of Americans. 

The fact they defend the indu$try is all you need to know. 

Maybe there have been medical advances and maybe it's done some good, but at what price?

The nonprofit group has planned scores of Pink Out rallies nationwide on Tuesday. Supporters will travel by bus to Washington with a pro-Planned Parenthood petition bearing nearly 2 million signatures.

Looks like a Next Day Update coming tomorrow.

Chapters in about 23 cities will offer free tests for sexually transmitted infections to underscore the services — including contraceptives, cancer screening, and routine exams mainly for low-income clients — that Planned Parenthood provides more commonly than abortions.

About half of its nearly 700 clinics do not perform abortions, and federal law has long barred funding for most procedures.

Only a few affiliates in three West Coast states have arrangements with researchers to provide tissue from aborted fetuses or, in Oregon, fetal placentas. As doctors captured in the videos describe, fees of $30 to $100 a specimen cover costs rather than providing profits, which would be illegal.

As if that has ever stopped managers and those who profit before.

Many Republicans say the videos prove that Planned Parenthood is harvesting and selling baby parts. Greg Mueller, who heads a conservative communications firm working with the videos’ producer, said even some supporters of abortion rights were “repulsed.”

Because it is indefensible.

“No amount of spending or spin is going to change that,” he said.

Mueller cited findings from focus groups that were moderated last week in Denver by Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster. Conway, in an interview, did not dispute the accuracy of polls showing consistent support for Planned Parenthood and against defunding it.

All I can say is Americans have been brainwashed by the pro-abortion media and the "women's rights" groups. Sorry.

Underlying Planned Parenthood’s show of confidence, however, is concern that living under political threats is its new normal in a country that has become even more polarized in the wake of the videos. Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, must testify Tuesday before one of several congressional committees are investigating the group.

It means the false-flag, staged and scripted psyop fictions will never cease.

“We may be at a political crossroads where the right has a resurgence,” said Ellen Chesler, a former Planned Parenthood board member and biographer of Margaret Sanger, founder of the birth-control movement.

I hadn't planned on seeing her name.

“I think this is becoming more and more of a concern,” she added. “The politics is so totally unpredictable and unknowable.”

Certainly the politics were unpredictable when David Daleiden began releasing the videos he produced from recordings collected over 30 months of infiltrating clinics and tissue procurement companies. To gain trust, he formed a fake company and participated in professional conferences.

“Everyone was taken aback to discover just how extensive the operation had been,” said Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director under President Obama and a partner in SKDKnickerbocker, a consulting firm advising Planned Parenthood.

Dunn said Planned Parenthood had three immediate challenges: to answer the attack, to simultaneously query 67 affiliates about which ones had tissue programs or contacts with the abortion opponents, and to reassure supporters and political allies.

The group has relied almost solely on Democrats since abortion opponents gained sway over the Republican Party in the Reagan era. Its heft with Democrats flows from its grass-roots support and willingness to spend freely on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Laguens of Planned Parenthood acknowledged the difficulty of quickly rebutting attacks even as her group was gathering facts. But, she added: “I’m 100 percent sure we are not trafficking in baby parts. So I didn’t have any hesitation, and Cecile didn’t have any hesitation.’’

Are you reassured?


That isn't the issue unless they are admitting abortion is indeed just that.

RelatedPlanned Parenthood sues Utah after it cuts off federal money 

The real i$$ue, as always in early 21st-century AmeriKa.

Btw, did you know pregnancy can give you cancer?

Also seeDorchester man gets 15 years in federal sex trafficking case

Isn't he also in a gang?


"Planned Parenthood chief, GOP face off in Congress" by Michael D. Shear New York Times   September 30, 2015

WASHINGTON — The embattled president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, in testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the videos were edited by the activists to mislead, and she insisted that Planned Parenthood facilitated the donation of only a small amount of fetal tissue and recoups only reasonable expenses as allowed by the law.

Honestly, we are awash in staged and scripted fiction, crisis drills presented as real and live, false flags galore, psyop mind manipulation (beginning with the pre$$ I read every day), war lies, hoaxes, and all the rest. 

“The latest smear campaign is based on efforts by our opponents to entrap our doctors and clinicians into breaking the law — and once again our opponents failed,” Richards said. 

Like the pregnancies?

The appearance by Richards before the House committee underscored a broader fight between the parties over Planned Parenthood as the clock ticks on a government shutdown that will begin Thursday if a stopgap spending bill cannot be passed. 

That's political show fooley.

While the funding fight is ostensibly about abortion and fetal tissue, the subtext is politics: Republicans perceive Planned Parenthood as a well-funded machine promoting Democratic candidates.

Once again, children are being waved at us.

Tuesday’s hearing quickly became contentious as Republican lawmakers assailed the group as more of a political advocacy organization that wastes federal money than a health care group that deserves to receive taxpayer dollars.

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican from Ohio, called the videos “barbaric and repulsive” and accused Planned Parenthood of what he called a “repulsive game” that included shifting government funding from Congress to Democratic politicians. He said lawmakers should shift federal money away from Planned Parenthood and to other health care priorities.

He then extolled against AIPAC contributions and influence (kicked back aid to Israel is what it is) as was promptly escorted out of the chamber -- and that is in now way a defense of abortion and the profiteering from it.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican from Utah and chairman of the committee, opened the hearing with a tearful commentary about the death of his mother to breast cancer, and the death of his father to cancer as well. 

Will he cry for the women and children of Yemen as well?

He said he felt strongly that federal money should be shifted away from Planned Parenthood so it could go to other health research.

He quickly moved to attack Planned Parenthood as a wasteful organization. He accused the group of spending millions on political activities, lavish parties, travel, and health care expenses overseas, and repeatedly noted that Richards earned an annual salary of more than $500,000.



Richards and Democratic lawmakers came to the group’s defense, accusing the GOP lawmakers of using “highly edited videos” and misleading information to advance a political agenda. 

I call it a newspaper, and what of it?

Later, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat from New York, accused Chaffetz of “beating up on a woman, our witness, for making a good salary. Make no mistake: Despite what we hear, Republicans are doubling down on their war against women.”

Here we go again with the hyperbole and all. Divisive theater and a substantive issue, but time to move on.

She noted that Richards oversaw a large health care provider and said that she found Chaffetz’s comments about her salary “totally inappropriate and discriminatory.”

For her part, Richards repeatedly insisted that no federal money is used to pay for abortion services, and she said most of the federal funding to her organization — about $400 million per year — comes through Medicaid reimbursements for health care services provided to women.


"The remains of a newborn infant were lost at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, leading to an unsuccessful search at a landfill and an apology from the hospital, officials said."

Literally throwing them away.

In response to questions from Chaffetz, Richards insisted that she does not manage the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, a political lobbying group that she said is managed as a separate organization. Chaffetz pointed out that Richards received $31,000 last year for services provided to the fund, but Richards said, “I don’t directly manage, no sir.”

Richards also clashed with Jordan over a video apology she issued days after the video about fetal tissue first emerged. Jordan insisted that she must have believed the contents of the video were true if she apologized for them.

Richards said she apologized because she thought it was inappropriate the doctor in the video had a “clinical discussion, in a nonconfidential, nonclinical setting.”


Warren's next war?

Nothing about the petition or protest though. I'm perplexed.

Also see: Ann Romney memoir an intimate look at a political power couple 

For those who want her view on the matter. 

Mitt going to save the Republicans from Trump and themselves?

Sunday Globe Special: Moving as Slow as a Turtle

"Non-native turtle found on Wollaston beach poses invasive species threat" by Alexandra Koktsidis Globe Correspondent  September 12, 2015

Chinese soft-shell turtles found on Wollaston Beach in Quincy last week pose a potential threat as an invasive species to the state, officials said.

Onlookers spotted the turtle, a species native to the waters of eastern Asia, digging in the sand at Wollaston on Labor Day. Members of the New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Team came to collect it Tuesday.

A second turtle, believed to be of the same species, was spotted on the beach later in the week, said Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the aquarium, but its whereabouts now are unknown.

Dr. Charles Innis, head veterinarian at the aquarium, said that he was not surprised about the discovery of the turtles.

“We know that this species is widely traded for food and pets, and nonnative turtles [and other reptiles] have been released in Massachusetts in the past,” he said in an e-mail Saturday.

“Softshells are very odd-looking turtles, flat leathery shell, long snorkel-like nose,” he said.


The turtles are able to survive cold climates in northern Japan, Korea, Manchuria, and in the Russian Far East, according to a statement from the aquarium. “If they do survive the winter, and breed, it would be a problem,” said Dr. Nigella Hillgarth, New England Aquarium president and chief executive.

In the United States, the turtles have established populations in Hawaii and Maryland, Hillgarth said. They have also been found in other countries, such as the Philippines.

“If this gets established, like it has in the Philippines, it could eat a lot of small fish, insects, mollusks and cause a serious problem in the ecosystem,” Hillgarth said. The turtles also eat snails, shellfish, crabs, fish detritus, and some plants, according to the aquarium.

Hillgarth said the extent of any potential local effects is unknown, but nonnative species have had detrimental effects in the past.

“A really good parallel example is the green crab,” Hillgarth said, explaining that the abundance of green crabs in Massachusetts affects the ecosystem, as they feed on clams and mussels.

Innis said the turtles “could compete with other native turtles, could carry disease to other native species, [and] could compete for food with other species.”

“The most important message is to not release any non-native pets like that,” Hillgarth said....


I'll be stopping and going into a shell for a bit now.

Sunday Globe Special: Don't Sit Under the Coconut Tree With Anyone Else But Me

"Lessons from under the coconut tree" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  September 12, 2015

L’ASILE, Haiti — He wasn’t there to deliver a progress report. He was there to soak up the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the relationships — indeed, any scrap of information about Haiti — that would allow him to better understand.


Nathan Eckstrom, who teaches English in the Boston schools, immersed himself in Haiti for four weeks this summer and blogged about his experiences. He saw the street markets that have popped up amid the concrete rubble in Port-au-Prince and partially completed houses and other buildings — signs of the country’s painstakingly slow recovery from a devastating earthquake in 2010.

He crossed the Massacre River at the border with the Dominican Republic, enabling him to collect vivid details about the devastating tensions between the two countries that crested with a bloody purge of Haitians in 1937 and have resurfaced since — a critical scene from a book he intends to teach his students this school year.

Scroll through Haiti to see the latest on that refugee crisis.

Being there, he hoped, would help him bring that history alive. And he boarded a wooden boat — similar to one he rode as a kid growing up on Cape Cod while fishing with his father — to reach a small island called Ile a Vache, where he spent a week teaching English to teenagers and hospitality workers.

Throughout his journey, Eckstrom wanted to imbibe all he could of Haitian life. That included dining on spicy chicken legs, grilled goat, and other dishes his students ate growing up, even though this 36-year-old Jamaica Plain resident is a vegetarian. He drank coconut milk directly out of the shell and took in passionate dinner conversations about the upcoming presidential election.

Guiding his tour was Marc Prou, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston who grew up in Haiti. Eckstrom was the only one who signed up for a course Prou teaches each summer in Haiti. Prou carried on with the course — even accompanying Eckstrom on the visits to the families of Mathurin and another of Eckstrom’s students — because he believes once people get Haiti in their blood, they will keep coming back.

For Eckstrom, it was his second such journey. A few years ago, he visited the Dominican Republic to learn more about the backgrounds of his students from that country.

.   .   .

With much reluctance, Alexandrine Theodore packed her bags and left the balmy tropical temperatures of Haiti last Valentine’s Day....

Wearing a Red Sox hat, she was. 

Seems like a good time to bag up this post.


And look where cholera has recently made an appearance:

Amid battle against IS, Iraqis face cholera outbreak

Didn't Halliburton and Bechtel rebuild the systems?

UPDATE: Alvin P. Adams Jr., 73; ambassador to Haiti

Also seeHaiti delays presidential runoff again in electoral dispute

Sunday Globe Special: SWATting at the Worcester Police

RelatedWorcester SWAT Knocked on Wrong Door

"Worcester raid-gone-wrong merits independent review" by The Editorial Board   September 13, 2015

The SWAT team raid in Worcester last month that wrongly targeted an innocent family merits a full and impartial investigation — not an internal probe by the same law enforcement officers responsible for the raid to begin with.

The raid-gone-wrong also raises important questions about the procedures involving no-knock warrants, a court-issued order that allows law enforcement to raid a property without any notification to its residents. These warrants, long viewed as an important tool used to combat drug trafficking, must be executed with care; an independent review would expose any flaws in protocol and hold important lessons for police departments in other cities.

In Worcester, police stormed the apartment based on erroneous intelligence supplied by an informant. That might be understandable had the target of the raid, Shane B. Jackson Jr., not been arrested two weeks before at a different address in Worcester before being released on personal recognizance. Police had the relevant information in their own station.

And the victims of the raid — Marianne Diaz, a 23-year-old mother of two, her fiancé, and their roommate, who was injured — deserve a full explanation of why they were treated like dangerous criminals. Diaz, who was naked, was frisked after being forced to kneel on the ground at gunpoint with her two daughters. Adding to the humiliation, she was not allowed to dress for 10 minutes.

Unannounced SWAT raids are on the rise, and they’re going wrong at an alarming rate, sometimes tragically. A 7-year-old girl was shot in Detroit during a raid of her home in 2010; a grandfather was shot by mistake in Framingham four years ago in a SWAT raid.

An independent review of the Worcester raid is called for. “Nobody is willing to take accountability right now,” said the attorney for the family, Hector Piñeiro. “The local police department had a SWAT team of 10 people pointing weapons at a woman and her kids. Everyone is ducking responsibility in this case.”

In an era marked by a rise in police shootings and heightened tensions between police and the public they serve, Massachusetts authorities should not let this incident pass without a thorough review. It is a perfect opportunity for the attorney general’s office to step in. If officers or higher-ups violated the rules, they must be held accountable. On the other hand, if they all went by the book, then there’s clearly something wrong with the book, and Worcester police need to rewrite their SWAT procedures. No-knock warrants should not lead to flagrant civil rights violations.



"The Worcester police officer arrested in April after being accused of beating and racially insulting a prisoner has been indicted by a grand jury."

Also seeSunday Globe Special 

No bail for him, either.

UPDATE: Officer pleads not guilty in prisoner beating

Also seeFoundation gives $15m to Central Mass. cultural institutions including Worcester Art Museum

Sunday Globe Special: New England Jails

"Weeks after court ruling, inmates still living on death row" by Pat Eaton-Robb Associated Press  September 20, 2015

HARTFORD — Former death-row inmates in Connecticut may soon be living under less restrictive prison conditions than other inmates convicted of similar crimes, legal experts say.

Connecticut’s Supreme Court last month declared capital punishment unconstitutional in the state, striking down part of a 2012 law that had allowed the death penalty only for those already facing execution.

That statute replaced what had been known as ‘‘capital felony’’ with a new crime, ‘‘murder with special circumstances.’’ Under the new law, anyone who is convicted of what would have previously been a death-penalty eligible crime is now sentenced to life in prison under conditions mimicking death row.

That means being held in a single cell for 22 hours a day, being escorted by at least one staff member, and placed in restraints when moving outside that cell. Of the two hours considered ‘‘recreation,’’ one would typically be spent indoors, in an area that houses a law library and a phone. The other would be spent alone in a cage outside in a courtyard. There would be no physical contact with other inmates.

Ironically, the 11 inmates currently housed on death row may soon be escaping those conditions.

Those inmates must now be resentenced to life without parole under the old capital felony statute, which existed when they were convicted, their attorneys say.

Though the Correction Department has leeway in the conditions imposed on individual inmates, someone sentenced to life without parole under the old statute was typically placed in the general population and allowed to be out of a cell six to seven hours a day with other inmates. They also have access to the prison commissary and gym.

‘‘At some point, the death-row inmates are going to be let into general population,’’ said attorney Mark Rademacher, who successfully argued for the abolishment of capital punishment as the attorney for Eduardo Santiago and currently represents death-row inmate Russell Peeler Jr. ‘‘I don’t see how the state could oppose that.’’


"Prison e-mail improves communications for Vermont inmates" by Dave Gram Associated Press  September 20, 2015

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s prison system is rolling out special e-mail and video visitation services for inmates, which advocates and corrections officials see as a boon but are raising concerns in some states where they are already in place about the cost to prisoners and other issues.

Vermont inmates at a private prison in Michigan with which the state has a contract, as well as in-state prisons in Newport and St. Johnsbury, recently were allowed to begin using the new e-mail system, said Mike Touchette, director of facility operations for the Corrections Department.

Inmates can go to a kiosk to use the system or can buy an electronic tablet that allows them to communicate with the system, which is run by JPay, a private company providing the prison e-mail service.

JPay also offers a video service — at $9.95 for a 30-minute session. Inmates also can download songs and ebooks.

Touchette said kiosks have been installed in all seven of Vermont’s prisons.

At the St. Johnsbury prison, superintendent Alan Cormier said, the electronic communications are especially helpful to inmates with families out of state. And he said the games, music, and videos inmates can get through the system can cut down on boredom.

The system is different from e-mail services offered to the general public outside the facilities in several respects, Touchette said. One is cost; senders pay 40 cents per e-mail.

The costs, which are higher in some states, trouble some inmate advocates, who say they can burden often low-income families.

The new tools are not without critics, who cite the costs, the fact that some jails are pushing to eliminate in-person visits in favor of video visits, and technical difficulties.


Could be a problem:

"Prisoners in Ga. used cellphones to run crime rings" Associated Press  September 24, 2015

ATLANTA — Gangs at some Georgia prisons have been using cellphones to traffic drugs, smuggle in contraband, steal identities, and, in at least one case, to arrange a violent attack on an inmate suspected of snitching, according to federal indictments unsealed Thursday that target a dozen people who officials say were involved in two prison-based crime rings.

The inmates used prison employees to smuggle cellphones and other contraband into the prisons, two indictments say. They then used the phones to communicate with networks of other inmates, friends on the outside, and prison staff members.

‘‘The one commonality that runs through it all is the ready access to and use of cellphones and smartphones by the inmates that allowed them to continue their victimization of citizens and the community even while they were behind bars,’’ US Attorney John Horn said. The investigation is ongoing, he said.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, more than 7,000 cellphones were confiscated at Georgia prisons, either from inmates or from people trying to smuggle them in, Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson said. Since July 1, more than a thousand have been seized.

Since Bryson became commissioner in February, 50 people, including 22 corrections staff members, have been arrested trying to bring contraband into prisons, he said.


Just kill 'em all.

NDU: Kelly Gissendaner is 1st woman executed in Ga. in 70 years

Sunday Globe Special: My Maine Women

They dirty:

"Twenty-one men are facing misdemeanor charges of engaging a prostitute after an investigation at three central Maine hotels, authorities said. The Kennebec Journal reported that the six-week investigation involved advertisements placed online. Authorities said each of the men responded to an ad and went to a hotel in Waterville or Augusta expecting to pay for sex but were instead arrested. An Augusta defense attorney who has been contacted by at least two of the men charged is questioning the amount of time and money that went into and investigation that resulted in 21 misdemeanor charges (AP)."

They spoiled the party.

"The tax collector for the town of Anson has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of theft, failure to pay state income taxes and file returns, and tampering with public records. The Morning Sentinel reported that Gloria Viles was indicted Thursday on charges of stealing more than $10,000 from the central Maine town from 2009 to 2014 and failing to pay state income taxes during that time. Her attorney said she will plead not guilty to the charges. The town also has filed a civil lawsuit against Viles that alleges that she misappropriated excise tax money over a four-year period. Viles has denied the accusations. (AP)."

What a Vile$ woman!

Also seeSheriff apologizes to lawyers asked to remove bras at jail

It's caged heat in Maine.

NDU: Dog puts truck into gear, has to be rescued from lake

Sunday Globe Special: New Hampshire Sadence

Hut one:

"N.H. woman charged in infant daughter’s death" by Jack Newsham Globe Correspondent  September 26, 2015

A Manchester, N.H., woman was arrested Saturday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of her 21-month-old daughter.

The arrest of Katlin Paquette, 22, followed a three-week investigation by authorities, according to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

Maybe it's the name.

Emergency personnel were called to 437 Belmont St. in Manchester around 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 to treat Sadence “Sadie” Willott, Paquette’s daughter, Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati said Saturday.

The girl died the next day at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. An autopsy conducted on Sept. 8 determined the death to be a homicide caused by blunt impact head injuries, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.

Paquette was charged with murder “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life,” the statement said, and was accused of “recklessly [causing] Sadence Willott’s death through an application of physical force causing Sadence to suffer a fatal brain injury.”

It's okay if you are a government or a leader of one.

Agati declined to say whether a weapon was used or whether others lived at the same residence as Paquette and her daughter. Investigators interviewed doctors and witnesses, Agati said, and a judge granted a warrant for Paquette’s arrest.

Paquette is to be arraigned Monday. Agati said bail has not been set, and an attorney would be appointed for Paquette if she did not already have one.


Hut Two:

"Video shows N.H. officers’ encounter" by Lynne Touhy Associated Press  September 27, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. — A dashboard camera video released Friday shows two police officers fatally shooting a knife-wielding man as he ran toward them along a rural road in July, then firing several more times after he fell at their feet.

It looks like another case of “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” 

The videos, released by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, show Hagan Esty-Lennon, 42, of Canterbury walking toward officers in a shirt stained with blood from a self-inflicted knife wound and ignoring repeated commands to drop the knife. He begins to walk away as the officers give chase, guns raised and shouting for him to stop and drop the knife.

‘‘Drop the knife or I shoot,’’ yelled Ryan Jarvis, a Haverhill police officer. Esty-Lennon stopped, wheeled around and ran toward Jarvis and Officer Greg Collins.

As Esty-Lennon nears the officers, he appeared to stumble before shots were fired. He then fell to the road and more shots were fired.

The July 6 encounter began when Haverhill police responded to neighboring Bath after a report that a man — Esty-Lennon — was injured in a car accident and resisted bystanders’ efforts to help.

A superior court judge ordered the videos from the officers’ body cameras to be edited so they did not show the moment of death and close-ups of Esty-Lennon’s body on the ground. But a police cruiser dashboard camera shows from a distance the shooting as it unfolded.

It's Planned Parenthood all over again.

Prosecutors deemed the shooting justified, saying Esty-Lennon lunged at the officers.... 

It's always justified in AmeriKa.



"The New Hampshire man shot by police officers who were responding to a domestic disturbance call Thursday night in Merrimack has died, authorities said. A news release from state Attorney General Joseph Foster said that an autopsy conducted Saturday on Harrison Lambert, who died Friday evening, determined he died of multiple gunshot wounds. Police said the 23-year-old Lambert was armed with a knife when he was shot by one of two officers responding to a domestic disturbance call about a man threatening his father. Foster said the incident remains under investigation." 

It's always something, some excuse to have shot and killed you.

Also seeMedicaid expansion debate awaits N.H. legislators

Maybe the knife-wielders needed some?