Friday, October 30, 2009

Study Examines Mercury in Vaccines

/PRNewswire/ -- The injectable, multi-dose H1N1 vaccine contains the mercury-based preservative thimerosol to reduce risks of bacterial contamination. The presence of thimerosol has once again raised concerns whether there are risks posed to children when the tiny amount of mercury contained in thimerosol is included in a vaccine. In a recent issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, however, a team of scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health reported findings that should alleviate those concerns. The researchers, led by author Michael E. Pichichero, MD, Director of the Rochester General Research Institute, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY evaluated levels of mercury in the blood of the smallest children -- prematurely born and low birth weight infants after they received a dose of a childhood vaccine containing thimerosol. They found the levels of mercury were exceedingly low.

The issue of administering vaccines containing mercury has been controversial because at very high levels mercury is known to cause organ damage (brain/kidneys). Consequently in 2001, as a precaution, at the prompting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Food and Drug Administration, the use of thimerosol in childhood vaccines was reduced or eliminated. However, after examining the evidence the Institute of Medicine issued an opinion that an association between thimerosol exposure and autism was not supported by the evidence. Nevertheless the contention that mercury in vaccines causes autism continues to be debated. The newly released multi-dose, injectable H1N1 Influenza vaccines contain the preservative thimerosol and thimerosol is 50% ethyl mercury, which has sparked a renewed debate on the safety of administering this new influenza vaccine.

The purpose of the study was to find out how much mercury from a vaccine containing thimerosol stays in a child's body," said Dr. Pichichero. "What we found was that blood mercury levels before vaccination were often detectable, even at a level similar to many children after the vaccination. By just breathing the air, mothers were passing to their unborn infants some slight amounts of mercury. The mothers did not eat fish that contains mercury, so in the United States and other countries where fish is consumed by pregnant women the levels of mercury would be presumably even higher. After the babies were given vaccines containing thimerosol, their blood levels of mercury did rise to very low levels and then fell rapidly to baseline levels by day ten after the vaccination."

Since thimerosol has been largely removed from vaccines in the US since 2001, this study of 72 newborn infants was conducted at the Hospital Durand in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Argentina, like many countries of the world, vaccines are purchased through sources supported by the World Health Organization and the WHO has rejected the notion that thimerosol in vaccines is unsafe. This is the third and final study by Dr. Pichichero and his colleagues that tested mercury levels following the injection of vaccines containing thimerosol. Previous studies were conducted on term newborns, and on 2-and 6-month old infants. In those studies, the researchers also found the mercury levels in the vaccinated children were very low and quickly returned to pre-vaccine levels, usually within three to seven days. In 1999, when the first concerns about thimerosol in vaccines was raised, it was presumed that the ethyl mercury in thimerosol would behave in the same manner as methyl mercury in fish after ingested. The three NIH-supported studies clearly refuted that idea.

Dr. Pichichero and colleagues concluded that with this latest data, it is time to recognize that the risk of exposure to thimerosol in vaccines is minimal to non-existent. "The H1N1 vaccine is safe and should be given to those at risk as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control," Dr. Pichichero said.

Rochester General Research Institute is part of the Rochester General Health System (RGHS) in Rochester, NY. The Research Institute is focused on clinical and translational research in the areas of infectious diseases and immunology, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and innovations in
biotechnology. The Rochester General Research Institute has alliances with the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Cleveland Clinic and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

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California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Review Verifies Safety of Synthetic Turf

/PRNewswire/ -- Representing the latest convincing data on the safety of synthetic turf, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), California Environmental Protection Agency, released a report last week dated July 2009 which indicated there is a negligible human health risk from inhaling the air above synthetic turf. The OEHHA summary also stated "it is unlikely that the new generation of artificial turf is itself a source of MRSA."

OEHHA searched the available literature related to the safety of new generation artificial turf fields, those which contained crumb rubber infill. They analyzed whether these fields emitted levels of chemicals or particulates into the air that are a health risk when inhaled, and also any potential risk factors for MRSA infection. Based on the data from two 2009 New York studies and a 2006 report of indoor fields, they found that "Both reports concluded that these fields did not constitute a serious public health concern, since cancer or non-cancer health effects were unlikely to result from these low-level exposures." Other key findings included:

-- Analyzing the chemicals detected above the fields in New York, OEHHA
noted that "many of these occurred at similar concentrations in the
air sampled upwind of the fields" - which suggests that the source of
these chemicals was not from the turf fields.


-- Cancer risks are negligible, lower than many common human activities.
OEHHA created a test scenario to determine the exposure and health
risks of an athlete playing on an artificial turf field from age five
until age 55 for nearly 100 chemicals. The results showed an exposure
to five chemicals with a lifetime cancer risk above one in one
million, which is considered a negligible risk. As OEHHA explains
"these estimated risks are low compared to many common human
activities." To give context, their website states that the cancer
risk of breathing California air (in 2000) due to diesel particles was
540 in one million.


-- Synthetic turf is not a source of MRSA. OEHHA stated that "It seems
unlikely that the new generation of artificial turf is itself a source
of MRSA, since MRSA has not been detected in any artificial turf
field." That conclusion is consistent with the findings of the Penn
State January 2009 study conducted on the lifespan of staph on grass
and synthetic turf, which was sponsored by the STC and the
Pennsylvania Turfgrass Council.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Toys to Toxic Waste: New Report Details Corporations that Skirt Responsibility and Shun Consumer Safety to Save Money

/PRNewswire/ -- As the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform holds their annual summit - an event dedicated to championing corporate misconduct and evading accountability - a new report released today details true stories of corporations that knew their products were dangerous, yet failed to act and protect consumers.

"They Knew and Failed To" details numerous examples of medical devices, prescription drugs, and other consumer products that remained on the market after critical safety concerns had been raised within the company, while using all means necessary to avoid being held accountable for their misconduct.

In one example, police officer Tony Zeppetella of Oceanside, Calif. had paid $313 to "upgrade" his standard bullet proof vest. The Ultima body armor Zeppetella had purchased was widely used by law enforcement, military personnel, and even worn by the President and Mrs. Bush. Unfortunately, Zeppetella was shot and killed on a routine traffic stop in June 2003, when a bullet penetrated his vest.

Second Chance, the manufacturer, had known as early as 1998 that heat and sunlight caused the material to degrade, making the vests penetrable. Internal corporate memos from 2001 revealed an executive at the company had recommended notifying customers about the products' defect, saying, "Lives and our credibility are at stake." It was not until September 2003 that the company eventually recalled 130,000 vests, three months after Zeppetella was shot. The company had known for five years there were problems with their vests, but failed to notify consumers, putting law enforcement and service members' lives at risk. Several years later, Second Chance recalled another 98,000 vests.

"While most businesses act in good faith to serve their customers and communities, unfortunately some corporations recklessly put lives at risk for the sake of profit," said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone. "While front groups like the Chamber stage events practically celebrating corporate misconduct, this new report convincingly illustrates the importance of holding wrongdoers accountable."

The full report, "They Knew and Failed To," is available at: www.justice.org/clips/TheyKnewAndFailedTo.pdf.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Face Paints Laced With Toxic Heavy Metals

/PRNewswire/ -- Ghosts and goblins aren't the only spooky things lurking around this Halloween. A new report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reveals that popular children's face paints contain lead, a potent neurotoxin, as well as nickel, cobalt and chromium, which can cause lifelong skin sensitization and contact dermatitis.

Creepier yet, these metals were not listed on any of the product labels, so parents have no way of knowing what children are really putting on their faces.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of nonprofit health groups, sent 10 children's face paints to an independent lab to test for heavy metals, and also reviewed ingredient labels of Halloween products sold at a seasonal holiday store. The findings, compiled in the report Pretty Scary, include:

-- Ten out of 10 children's face paints contained lead ranging from 0.05
to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention recommends that parents avoid using cosmetics on their
children that could be contaminated with lead.


-- Six out of 10 children's face paints contained nickel, cobalt and/or
chromium, which are top allergens in children. The metals were found
at levels ranging from 1.6 to 120 ppm - many of them far exceeding
industry safety recommendations of 1 ppm.


-- Snazaroo Face Paint, labeled as "non-toxic" and "hypoallergenic,"
contained some of the highest levels of lead, nickel and cobalt found
in the study.


"Parents should not have to worry that face paint contains lead and other hazardous substances, and they have a right to know what's in these products. Clearly, companies are not making the safest products possible for children, even though kids are particularly vulnerable to toxic exposures," said Lisa Archer, national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund.

"Lead and other hazardous chemicals have no place in face paints kids use for dress-up and play on Halloween or any other day of the year," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). "Strengthening our cosmetics laws and providing ample resources are essential to ensure the FDA has the authority and tools it needs to protect the health of our children from chemicals in cosmetics."

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nearly One in Four Intimate Partner Violence Cases Involved a Child Witness

/PRNewswire/ -- A child witnessed violence in 22 percent of intimate partner violence cases filed in state courts, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. In another 14 percent of intimate partner violence cases, a child was present at the time of the incident but did not directly witness the violence.

Intimate partner violence includes violence between spouses, ex-spouses, common-law spouses and current or former boyfriends or girlfriends. Forty-six percent of intimate partner violence cases involved a defendant with a prior history of abuse toward the same victim, and the victim had reported prior violence to police in 24 percent of all cases. A direct witness to the violence was present in more than 40 percent of intimate partner violence cases.

Most intimate partner violence cases involved either aggravated (12 percent) or simple (78 percent) assault. Defendants were charged with intimidation (including stalking) in five percent of intimate partner violence cases, and another two percent were charged with rape or sexual assault. Most offenses occurred either at the victim's own residence (21 percent) or at a residence shared with the defendant (58 percent).

Twenty-six percent of defendants used a weapon during the incident. Female defendants (41 percent) were more likely than male defendants (24 percent) to use a weapon during an incident of intimate partner violence.

Eighty-nine percent of victims sustained an injury during the incident. Most injuries were of a less severe nature, while nine percent sustained severe injuries, such as gunshot and stab wounds, rape, severe lacerations and broken bones.

The majority of intimate partner violence cases (84 percent) involved a male defendant and a female victim, while twelve percent involved a female defendant and a male victim. The defendant and victim were the same gender in four percent of intimate partner violence cases. Cases with a male defendant and female victim were more likely than others to involve a history of abuse between victim and defendant. A child was also more likely to have witnessed the violence in these cases.

More than half of defendants charged with intimate partner violence were convicted. Cases in which the defendant made a formal statement for the record were twice as likely to result in conviction as those in which no statement was made. Other characteristics that increased the probability of conviction were the presence of a third-party witness to the incident and a documented history of abuse between the victim and the defendant.

This information comes from the BJS study, Processing of Domestic Violence Cases in State Courts, which used prosecutor files and court records to analyze 3,750 intimate partner violence cases. Case characteristics and outcomes of felony and misdemeanor intimate partner violence cases filed in state courts of 16 large urban counties during May 2002 were examined. Cases were tracked for one year following the defendant's first appearance in court.

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Medical Marijuana: 'Be Careful,' Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Bob Weiner Tells DOJ About 'New Lax Enforcement' Policy

Medical Marijuana: 'Be Careful,' Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Bob Weiner Tells DOJ About 'New Lax Enforcement' Policy; 'Use May Explode for Healthy People'

/PRNewswire/ -- "Be careful about the new lax enforcement policy for medical marijuana," former White House Drug Policy Spokesman Bob Weiner is telling the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration.

"You may get way more than you bargained for", Weiner cautions of the new policy barring states attorneys from busting and prosecuting users and caregivers of so-called "medical" marijuana who act "in accordance with state law."

"Prescription marijuana use may explode for healthy people."

Unfortunately, as many as 90% of purchases at clinical distribution centers are "false defenses", some law enforcement agents report - "which means individuals are not really sick but simply want the pot," Weiner asserts.

"Medical marijuana is not as effective as other healing mechanisms for many illnesses such as glaucoma, pain, or nausea that users try it for because of false hype leading to false hope. Just as laetrile was legalized in the 1970's in 27 states to cure cancer but was found to be useless apricot pits, leading Senator Kennedy in a Senate hearing to decry the 'false hope' delaying true treatment, 'medical' marijuana today could be a placebo delaying far better treatments," according to Weiner.

"Many medical marijuana advocates press its use for pain killing and appetite enhancement," Weiner asserted, "but you might feel just as good after a shot of gin. Science, not politics, must drive what is determined to be safe and effective medicine in America. The medical marijuana advocates never mention the potentially better applications of THC in marijuana from suppositories, jells, aerosols, or the already approved pill Marinol -- they just want the high from the smoked version.

"There is a real danger that if marijuana is made essentially a prescription drug, its abuse and usage explosion could parallel other prescription drugs over the last decade, such as OxyContin, which have tripled nationally and quintupled in many locations because of the ease of availability."

"No one wants to deny a dying cancer patient a hit of grass, if that's what he or she wants. But to announce and implement a policy of broad-brush non-enforcement when there is so much loose about usage of medical marijuana and its distribution is a dangerous policy."

"The new policy, a three-page DOJ memo anyone can download, does not only say leave the users alone. It also says leave the 'caregivers' alone if they comply with state law. The distribution centers, which are suppliers, and the staff could well be considered 'caregivers'. DOJ would have serious problems discerning between illicit dealers and distributors."

Weiner served as White House Drug Policy Office spokesman for 6-1/2 years and communications director of the House Select Narcotics Committee for five years.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Civilian Haz-Mat Team To Protest Flu Shots

/PRNewswire/ -- As millions of Americans remain concerned about government-recommended flu shots, dozens of citizens dressed in full haz-mat suits will gather Wednesday, October 21, at the entrance to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) to greet arriving members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Those advisors are meeting, Wednesday, at 8:00am. The event is designed to dramatize the toxicity of the H1N1 vaccine and Flu shot as they meet to discuss the H1N1 vaccine.

"We want the public to see just how toxic these vaccines are. If a vaccine vial is spilled, a haz-mat team is required for clean-up and the vaccine must be disposed of as biohazardous waste. Since when has the human body been deemed a toxic waste dump?" asks Karey Williams of Moms Against Mercury.

These protesters believe government health officials have not told all they know about the potential hazards of the H1N1 vaccine and the seasonal flu shot which they are also recommending. Officials do not deny that many flu vaccines will contain Thimerosal, a mercury based preservative, and a number of other toxins including ethylene glycol (antifreeze), formaldehyde, phenol, and antibiotics.

Thimerosal has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders. Government-mandated warnings known as Material Safety Data Sheets warn of mild to severe mental retardation in unborn infants exposed in utero, yet flu shots are recommended by the CDC to all pregnant women.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, board-certified family physician, H1N1 vaccines made by Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline both contain immune system boosters known as squalene. One of them, known as MF-59, has yet to be approved by the FDA and has been linked to the Gulf War Syndrome.

"Two studies out this month point to evidence that mercury in vaccines causes neurological damage. One found 1 in 71 vaccinated children born in the 1990's, have received an autism diagnosis. Another study discovered brain damage in newborn monkeys who were given a mercury-containing Hepatitis B vaccine," says Scott Laster of SafeMinds.

The protest starts at 7:30am on Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at the gates of the CDC at 1600 Clifton Road, as the participants for the ACIP meeting arrive.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Possible Novel H1N1 Cases in Pigs Not Unexpected; Experts Say U.S. Pork Is Safe to Eat

/PRNewswire/ -- The following is attributed to J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO, American Meat Institute:

"USDA has confirmed that hogs at the Minnesota State Fair may have screened positive for the novel H1N1 virus. USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories expects to have confirmatory results within the next few days. This event is not unexpected given that much like humans, hogs can contract influenza viruses.

Experts have said unequivocally that U.S. pork is safe to eat and that people can not contract the flu from eating pork or pork products. USDA scientists have underscored that novel H1N1 flu is not a foodborne disease; it is a respiratory infection that does not impact pork safety.

The U.S. government has in place strict safeguards to protect the safety of our food supply. All pork sold in the U.S. is inspected by USDA and must meet strict safety standards. Every hog that is processed is inspected by a federal veterinarian to ensure only healthy hogs enter our food supply. The "Passed and Inspected by USDA" seal ensures that pork is wholesome and free from disease.

Consumers can continue to enjoy pork as part of a healthy, balanced diet. It is important that consumers take care of their health. An essential part of staying healthy is eating a balanced diet that includes vitamin and mineral-rich foods like pork."

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Most States Fail to Adequately Protect the Legal Rights of Abused Children, New Study Finds

/PRNewswire/ -- Most U.S. states do not adequately protect the rights of abused and neglected children, leaving our most vulnerable citizens exposed to the vagaries of the juvenile court system without adequate legal representation, according to a state-by-state study conducted by two national child advocacy organizations.

The peer-reviewed study -- A Child's Right to Counsel: A National Report Card on Legal Representation for Abused and Neglected Children -- was released today on Capitol Hill by First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law (CAI). To view the full report, visit www.firststar.org, or www.caichildlaw.org.

"The federal government reported that nearly 800,000 children were abused or neglected in 2007," said Amy Harfeld, Executive Director of First Star. "In the current economic recession, these children are suffering more than ever - reports of child abuse have skyrocketed while resources to help them have been placed in jeopardy. Most of these children will go through court proceedings that will determine their lives and futures. Yet while the state and the allegedly abusive or neglectful parent stand in court with attorneys by their sides, the children often stand alone and silent. They are herded through the system without a strong voice to advocate on their behalf. This is a troubling double-standard."

The report graded each state and the District of Columbia based on how well they protect the legal rights of abused and neglected children in dependency court. Twenty-nine states earned C's or lower:

-- Two states earned A+'s: Connecticut and Massachusetts
-- 9 states earned A's: Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New
Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia
-- 11 states earned B's: California, Kansas, New Jersey, North Carolina,
Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and
Wyoming
-- 14 states earned C's: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan,
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia,
Washington DC, and Wisconsin
-- 8 states earned D's: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri,
New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Washington
-- 7 states earned F's: Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maine,
and North Dakota

"The level of legal protection these children receive should not vary depending on what state they call home," said Robert C. Fellmeth, CAI Executive Director. "The stakes in these cases are high for all involved, but especially for the child. Yet, in many states, not only have they been betrayed and mistreated by their own parents, they have also been abandoned by the very system that is supposed to protect their rights and their lives."

The study is the second of its kind. The first report, issued in April 2007, prompted 17 states to adopt new legislation in the right to counsel arena. In addition, advocates in many states have proposed legislative reforms, filed litigation, or launched other efforts to ensure children's rights are protected. States with improved laws include: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Wyoming.

In addition, the federal government recently announced a five-year, $5 million grant to research the benefits of providing counsel to children in these proceedings. Up to now, research has been scarce.

"The tide is turning," said Peter Samuelson, co-founder and Chairman of First Star. "Many jurisdictions are moving beyond the old legal paradigm that treated children as chattel, and are recognizing that their opinions are valuable in court proceedings that determine their futures. But there is still a long way to go before we create uniform, nationwide legal protections for these vulnerable children."

To build on this momentum, First Star and CAI recommend:

-- An amendment to the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
(CAPTA) that would require all abused and neglected foster children
receive quality client-directed representation in dependency
proceedings;
-- Passage by the American Bar Association of a Model Act that would
serve as a prototype for states to establish uniform standards for
representing children in dependency cases;
-- Implementation of a loan forgiveness program for child advocate
attorneys, since compensation is prohibitively low;
-- Adoption of caseload limits of 100 clients so attorneys can focus
enough attention on each case;
-- Support to ensure that abused and neglected children receive quality
representation in all court proceedings that determine their futures.

State grades were based on a rigorous examination of state law by leading national child welfare experts, who established guiding principles and developed a 100-point grading system. Criteria included: whether state law mandates that attorneys be appointed for children in dependency proceedings; whether these attorneys represent the children in a client-directed manner; whether this representation continues throughout the case, including appeal; whether states have specialized education or training of a child's counsel; whether the child is given the legal status of a party to the proceedings; and whether rules pertaining to confidentiality and immunity from liability apply to attorneys representing these children. Extra credit was given if states have mandatory caseload limits for children's counsel. Officials and/or advocates from each state participated in the process and provided valuable feedback.

"We hope this Report Card will become a tool to increase public awareness of this issue, a rallying cry for advocates and lawmakers in poorly performing states, and a source of pride for states that have enacted strong laws," said Elisa Weichel, CAI's Administrative Director & Staff Attorney. "Tremendous progress has been made in the last two years; it is our aim to build on that momentum."

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Help Remove (Un)Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings

With each new nominee in the Obama Administration comes more and more revelations on how they seek to undermine America's morals and economy. However no Administration official is more deserving of removal than Kevin Jennings, whom President Obama put forth to run his Safe Schools program at the Department of Education. What is Mr. Jennings' definition of a "safe school?"

He has proudly boasted of an incident (when he was a teacher) in which upon learning that a young boy in his class was having sex with a much older man, he did nothing to discourage him. The only advice this future "Safe Schools" czar gave the young boy was "be sure to bring a condom."

Additionally, according to Mr. Jennings, it is heterosexuality that is the problem in our schools.

In a speech that Kevin Jennings gave to a group in Iowa, he said, "Every time kids read Romeo & Juliet or they're urged to go to the prom or whatever it is, kids are aggressively recruited to be heterosexual in this country." Recruited to be heterosexuals? Does Kevin Jennings actually believe that a child's sexual orientation is the product of some educational conspiracy? The only conspiracy I'm aware of is Jennings' attempt to indoctrinate kids with a pro-homosexual agenda.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) agrees. Earlier this week, he launched a campaign to oust Jennings (and his radical record) from the Department of Education. In a letter that he's circulating to his House colleagues, Rep. King tells the President, "There is more to safe and drug-free schools than can be accomplished from the narrow view of Mr. Jennings who has, for more than 20 years, almost exclusively focused on promoting the homosexual agenda."

He's taken up our cause -- now let's help him advance it. Contact your congressmen today and urge them to sign on to Rep. King's letter.

Thank you and God bless you.

Contact Your Representative Today

Sincerely,
Tony Perkins
President
Family Research Council
801 G Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
P: 202/393-2100 or 800/225-4008
W: frc.org

Friday, October 02, 2009

When Is Rape Not Rape?

TT Note: Rape is rape is rape. All day long it is wrong. All day long this case was with a man manipulating a child for his pleasure. Excuse me, but rape is rape, and it's against the law.

/PRNewswire/ -- The defenders of film director Roman Polanski - charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and then fleeing the country - are starting down a slippery slope by trying to redefine what rape is.

"It wasn't rape-rape," comedian and talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg said on The View on Sept. 29. The next day, Debra Tate, sister of Polanski's murdered wife, Sharon, said on the Today show that "There's rape, and then there's rape," arguing that it was consensual sex even though the victim was 13.

"There are really two perspectives here," says Shannon Gilreath, Wake Forest University Law Professor for Interdisciplinary Study and a nationally recognized scholar on issues of equality, sexual minorities, and constitutional interpretation. "One is the perspective of people who look for any reason imaginable to excuse the victimization of women and girls that is rampant: it happened long ago, she was mature for her age--she wanted it. On the other side of this are those of us who are saying that every victim matters, even those victimized by people rich enough to evade jurisdiction for many years." But Gilreath says under the law, statutory rape is a clear offense, and at 13 years old, the girl was underage.

Many in the entertainment industry have flocked to Polanski's defense, questioning whether the act was strictly rape or not and pointing to the amount of time that has passed since the case, possible judicial misconduct, and the fact that the girl, now in her forties, would prefer that the case simply go away.

But where is the outrage in the media and entertainment industry for the victim, asks Gilreath.

"Maybe the missing piece of this discussion is that what is being turned into a major media event, full of talking-head outrage because it involves Roman Polanski, is real life as it is experienced by millions of women every day. And, like it or not, it could happen to every woman. Until we face up to the pervasiveness of a culture of violence that sexualizes dominance, that turns male dominance over women into sex, then we won't be able to face it down. And women and girls will continue to be raped and worse unnoticed. Where is the outrage, where is the media blitz about that?"

Polanski, now 76, fled the country in 1978 right before his sentencing after he admitted to having sex with the girl. As part of a 1977 plea deal, he pled guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor while prosecutors promised to drop rape, sodomy and other charges after sentencing. A judge was to determine his sentence. He was arrested in Switzerland Sept. 26, and the extradition is being handled there.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Today Marks the Beginning of Cuts of Up to $16 Billion to Skilled Nursing Home Care

/PRNewswire/ -- As October 1, 2009 signals the beginning of the new fiscal year 2010, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) said cuts of up to $16 billion over ten years to Medicare funded nursing home care being put into effect today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must be taken into account by U.S. Senate and House leaders as they continue to refine the financing details of their respective health care reform bills.

"By any standard, the $16 billion ten-year cuts to Medicare funded nursing home care going into effect today represent an enormous blow to the stability our sector requires to ensure the ongoing provision of quality nursing home care," said Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of AHCA. "As health reform deliberations continue, we respectfully urge lawmakers to keep in mind that any additional Medicare cuts will be on top of this $16 billion ten year regulatory cut implemented today. Without a doubt, the care and well being of the nation's most vulnerable seniors will clearly be at stake if any new cuts are excessive."

Yarwood said it is critical to keep in mind the nature as well as the structural fragility of America's nursing home patient-base and workforce. America's nursing homes provide care and services to 1.6 million patients annually. 52% are over age 85, 73% are women, 14% are non-white, and 54% have annual incomes of less than $10,000 annually. The AHCA leader noted nursing homes and other long-term care facilities employ over 2.1 million caregivers - 86% of whom are women, and 30% of whom are non-white. The average worker is a single, low income mother between the ages of 25 and 54.

"Arguments being made by some that seniors' benefits will not be reduced by cuts now contemplated ignore the fact that when Medicare cuts provider reimbursement, providers, in turn, are forced to cut staff because labor expenses comprise 70 percent of facility costs. Cutting staff within a facility, has a direct, immediate, negative impact on patients and their care - and that is what we fear most in terms of how the eventual final reform bill may be crafted."

Yarwood also urged lawmakers to take into account the fact the Medicaid program already under funds the cost of providing care by at least $4.2 billion annually, according to Eljay, LLC, thereby already placing enormous stress on facilities and staff before federal Medicare cuts even enter the picture.

The National Governors' Association (NGA), National Council of State Legislators (NCSL), and other independent policy analysts and organizations, he said, have already sounded the alarm that state Medicaid funding cuts coupled with poor economic conditions are already threatening vulnerable populations. "As independent research has corroborated time and again, Medicare and Medicaid funding must be viewed together - not in isolation," Yarwood continued. "The combination of cuts to both programs present a clear and present danger to every aspect of facility operations - and ultimately to patient care itself."

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