Tag Archive: affordable health insurance Texas


 

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the University of Southern California (USC) and a former gynecologist there, Dr. George Tyndall, who is accused of sexually harassing and molesting dozens, and potentially hundreds, of students during his nearly 30 years at the university.  The attorneys who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Tyndall’s accusers, wrote that USC “actively and deliberately concealed Tyndall’s sexual abuse for years.”  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of seven women who claim Tyndall used racist and inappropriately sexual language during consultations and conducted pelvic examinations with his fingers without gloves.

After an LA Times piece published in May exposed the allegations, the Los Angeles Police Department has launched an investigation into the allegations, USC president C.L. Max Nikias has resigned, and the rest of the university faculty has been scrambling to address the school’s shortcomings in regard to issues of sexual misconduct.

Tyndall had a history of allegedly inappropriately touching female students during gynecological examinations, making lewd comments about their bodies, and taking pictures of their genitals. USC acknowledged it had received complaints against Tyndall as early as 2000.  Authorities say school administrators received reports of sexual abuse during pelvic exams dating back to the early 1990s but failed to investigate these reports until 2016. The doctor wasn’t fired until 2017, when his colleagues discovered a box full of pictures of female genitalia in his office.

They finally parted ways with him last June, but only after the university conducted an internal investigation and found out about the ignored complaints.  University officials said the school reached a settlement with the doctor and did not report him to law enforcement or state medical authorities at the time.  Authorities say fifty-two former patients of a Tyndall, who treated thousands of women at the University of Southern California have reported they may have been victims of inappropriate and possibly criminal behavior.  Police estimate Dr. George Tyndall may have seen 10,000 patients and they think there could be more victims among women who were examined by him.

The 71-year-old reportedly admitted that his exams were “extremely thorough” but claimed he never did anything inappropriate. Several former co-workers spoke to the LA Times “They felt like they were violated,” explained one nurse, who spoke with at least five women in 2013 and 2014 who refused to be seen by Tyndall.  “They felt like he was inappropriately touching them, that it didn’t feel like a normal exam.”  Other co-workers claim he was improperly taking pictures of students’ genitals and making inappropriate remarks during pelvic exams.  Tyndall would often commend patients on their “flawless” and “creamy” skin, while also making comments about their bodies, the employees said.  A nurse recalls an exchange where she watched him compliment a student on her “perky breasts.”  “They stand right up there, don’t they?’” she recalled him telling the patient.

In 2013, eight different medical assistants who were in exam rooms during exams, voiced their concerns about Tyndall to long time nurse Cindy Gilbert, but nothing was done about his behavior.  Gilbert reported the complaints to then-executive director Dr. Lawrence Neinstein who instead chose to handle the situation “independently.”

 

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The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), arrested 114 undocumented immigrants working at an Ohio gardening business in one of its largest workplace raids in recent years.  Tuesday’s arrests targeted employees of Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Sandusky and Castalia, Ohio.  Those arrested are expected to face criminal charges, including identity theft and tax evasion.

About 200 ICE personnel were involved in the operations, which began at 7 a.m. and continued late into the evening.  Agents surrounded the perimeter of the Castalia locations, blocking off nearby streets as helicopters flew overhead.  Search warrants were served at both locations without incident.  They arrested 114 workers suspected of being in the country illegally and loaded many onto buses bound for ICE detention facilities.

Khaalid Walls, spokesman for ICE’s Northeastern region, said the investigation into Corso’s began in October 2017 with the arrest of a suspected document vendor.  They reviewed 313 employee records and found that 123 were suspicious.  He added that the majority of those arrested were Mexican nationals and some individuals were processed and released for humanitarian reasons.

Authorities are pursuing a bevy of allegations against Corso’s, including allegations of harboring illegal aliens, unlawful employment of aliens, false impersonation of a US citizen, fraud and aggravated identity theft, Walls said.

Steve Francis, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations said “We are attempting to identify what criminal network brought over 100 illegal aliens to Ohio to work.”  “If your business is operating legitimately, there’s nothing to fear.  If you are hiring illegal aliens as a business model, we will identify you, arrest you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

In October 2017, Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan said he ordered the investigative unit of ICE to increase work site enforcement actions by as much as fivefold.  “We’ve already increased the number of inspections in work site operations, you will see that significantly increase this next fiscal year,” Homan said at the time.  Homan also said that those actions would target both the employers and the employees in violation of immigration law.  “Not only are we going to prosecute the employers that hire illegal workers, we’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers.  The aggressive efforts are meant to deter people from entering the country illegally and protect jobs for American workers.”

Corso’s employee Salma Sabala told news outlets that undercover officers showed up in an employee break room initially offering to give out Dunkin’ Donuts. Then, they started rounding up workers.  “ They’re armed. They had the dogs. We hear the helicopters on top of us,” Sabala said.  Videos captured by workers and reporters showed immigration agents putting employees in handcuffs and separating authorized U.S. residents from undocumented immigrants. No employees were seen fleeing.

The 114 people arrested were taken to detention facilities in St. Clair County, Michigan; Seneca County, Ohio; and the Youngstown, Ohio, area.  Families of the arrested workers gathered at St. Paul Catholic Church in Norwalk, Ohio, seeking answers as to the whereabouts of their loved ones.

 

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Amazon’s Echo devices are garnering scrutiny over potential eavesdropping after a family in Portland, Oregon had their private conversation recorded by their Amazon Echo device and sent to someone in their contact list.  They learned of the invasion of privacy when they received a nightmarish phone call two weeks ago.  “Unplug your Alexa devices right now,” a voice on the other line said. “You’re being hacked.”  The caller, an employee of the husband, had received audio files of their conversations.

The Portland family had an Echo smart home speaker in every room of their house to help control their heat, lights and security system.  The woman, who identified herself only by her first name, Danielle said “My husband and I would joke and say, ‘I’d bet these devices are listening to what we’re saying.”  She added that the device did not tell her that it would be sending the recorded conversations.

Danielle said they unplugged all the devices, contacted Amazon and spoke to an Alexa engineer, who apologized multiple times.  Although Amazon offered to “de-provision” the devices of their communications features so they could keep using them to control their home, Danielle and her family reportedly want a refund instead.  Though the conversation was a mundane one – they were talking about hardwood floors, the couple said they will never plug the devices in again.

Amazon’s full statement on the issue seems to show Alexa, the company’s virtual personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence, was trying a little too hard.  Their statement explained: Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right.” As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.

Other smart home speakers carry similar risks that privacy advocates have been warning about as the popularity of these types of devices grows.  Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a staff technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said that the intuitive nature of connected devices can mask their complexity and the possibility of malfunction. “The Amazon Echo, despite being small, is a computer — it’s a computer with microphones, speakers, and it’s connected to the network,” he said. “These are potential surveillance devices, and we have invited them further and further into our lives without examining how that could go wrong. And I think we are starting to see examples of that.”

Last year, a North Carolina man said the same thing had happened to him.  His Echo device recorded 20 seconds of his conversation and sent it to his insurance agent without his knowledge.  Google had to release a patch last year for its Home Mini speakers after some of them were found to be recording everything.  While “home assistants” such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod have been big sellers in the past few years, they’ve brought with them many concerns over privacy.  These recorded-conversation incidents show what can happen when people welcome devices into their home that are always listening.

 

 

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Eight members of the Milwaukee Police Department have been disciplined in connection with the arrest of the NBA player Sterling Brown, who in January was subdued with a stun gun over a parking violation.  The Milwaukee Police Department has apologized to Brown, after a newly released police body cam video showed Brown’s violent arrest on January 26. Brown, a 22-year-old rookie player on the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, was assaulted and arrested shortly after exiting a Walgreens store for parking in a disabled space.  The charges against him were later dropped

Footage of the arrest, was captured using a body camera worn by one of the officers, confirms that Brown was not “combative”—as police initially claimed.  However, it does show Brown being confronted by an officer for the parking violation.  The officer tells him to step back and keep his hands out of his pockets just before a group of officers tackled him to the ground and electrocuted him with a Taser.   Brown did not struggle with officers when tackled, tased or handcuffed.  In the video, Brown is shown surprisingly calm and never even raising his voice while standing with his hands cuffed behind his back as an officer says to him “Sorry I don’t follow the Bucks, I didn’t recognize you.  I didn’t recognize your famous name.”   Brown responds, “It isn’t famous, it’s legit.”  The officer then replies “I wanted to talk to you about it” and Brown responds “ You could’ve talked, you didn’t have to touch.”

Brown has since said he plans to file a lawsuit, writing in a statement, “What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tazed and then unlawfully booked.  This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.”

He told “Good Morning America” that he aimed to hold “the officers accountable, hold future officers accountable.”  Brown said that his hands were behind his back at the time the stun gun was used and described becoming mad every time he watched the footage.  “I was defenseless, pretty much,” he said.  “This happens from coast to coast, you know, it’s something that’s being shown more now that technology has advanced,” he said. “It’s something that’s been happening for years, and people’s stories have not been told, and people’s stories have not been heard. And I feel like, you know, me doing this, it helps a lot.”

Speaking shortly after the release of the body cam footage, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said he was sorry the incident “escalated to this level”, declaring certain officers had “acted inappropriately” and had been disciplined. Three officers recieved unpaid suspensions, including a 15-day suspension for a police sergeant who has served for more than 11 years. Another sergeant, with 12 years of service, received a 10-day suspension. An officer with two and a half years on the force received a two-day suspension. Those officers and five others will receive policy review instruction and remedial training in professional communications.

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A federal jury convicted three Kansas militia members were for their role in plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees.  The plot was thwarted by another member of the group who tipped off federal authorities about escalating threats of violence.  Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen were convicted of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was also convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27.

An FBI informant said they were plotting to use guns and car bombs to mass murder Somalis. The three men belonged to a militia called the Crusaders which was a splinter group of the militia Kansas Security Force.  Testimony and recordings indicate the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them.  The men were indicted in October 2016 for plotting an attack for the day after the presidential election in the town of Garden City, about 220 miles west of Wichita.

According to prosecutors, Stein was recorded discussing the type of fuel and fertilizer bomb that Timothy McVeigh used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. The men discussed obtaining vehicles and filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create an explosion that would level the entire complex.  They downloaded recipes from the internet and they experimented with and tested those explosives.  Stein was arrested when he delivered 300 pounds of fertilizer to undercover FBI agents to make explosives.  Wright is captured in one recording saying he hoped an attack on the Somalis would “wake people up” and inspire others to take similar action against Muslims.

Defense attorneys argued that the FBI set up the men with a paid informant and all the talk about violence wasn’t serious. They said the men had a right to free speech and association under the U.S. Constitution.  Prosecutors argued that the plot was more than just words and presented enough evidence to convince the jury of a conviction.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the verdicts a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes.  “The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin,” Sessions said in a news release. “That’s not just illegal — it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

 

Barbara Bush Passes Away

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Former first lady Barbara Bush has died at her home in Houston, Texas at the age of 92 at. She is one of only two women in U.S. history to be both the wife of a U.S. president and the mother of another.  The mother of six children — one of whom, a daughter, Robin, died as a child from leukemia, stood by her husband George H.W. Bush’s side during his nearly 30 year political career has he rose to become vice president and president.

Known as the “enforcer” in her family — the glue who kept the high-powered clan together, she adopted literacy as a cause, raising awareness and eventually launching the nonprofit Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. After George H.W. Bush’s presidency, he and Barbara raised more than $1 billion for literacy and cancer charities.  “I chose literacy because I honestly believe that if more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and our society,” she said.

She had been admired by many for her trademark bluntness, her championing of literacy efforts and her embrace of HIV-positive babies in the late 1980s, when ignorance about the disease was rampant.  Grief over her daughter Robin’s death from leukemia allowed her to comfort others who were afflicted and made it easy for her to relate to the underdog.

Bush battled health problems for most of her later years of life. In 1988, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that commonly affects the thyroid. In 2008, she underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer and in 2009 she had open-heart surgery.  In her final years, she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as congestive heart failure.   Despite these health setbacks, she and her husband kept an active public schedule, raising money for charity.

In April 2018, her family released a statement regarding her failing health, stating that she had chosen to be at home with family-desiring “comfort care” rather than further treatment.  According to family spokesman Jim McGrath, her decision came as a result of “a series of recent hospitalizations.”  Funeral services will be held April 21st at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

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Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill seeking to placate angry lawmakers by saying he would be open to some sort of regulation to protect the privacy of users on his global social-media platform.  The hearings are the result of revelations last month that a company called Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of 50 million Facebook profiles.  This information was allegedly used to map out voter behavior in 2016 for both the Brexit campaign and the US presidential election.

Cambridge Analytica is a British company that helps businesses “change audience behavior”.  Back in 2015, a Cambridge psychology professor called Aleksandr Kogan built an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” and Kogan’s company Global Science Research had a deal to share info from the app with Cambridge Analytica.  The app was a personality quiz that asked Facebook users for information about themselves and an estimated 270,000 Facebook users signed up and took personality tests.  The app collected the information of each user’s Facebook friends, who had not provided consent.

The company used the data to build psychological profiles of 87 million Facebook users in order to tailor ads that could sway their political views.  Since the breach was revealed Facebook has stated that Kogan’s app picked up information in “a legitimate way” but that their rules were violated when the data was sold on to Cambridge Analytica.  Around the same time the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, news that Facebook has been collecting and storing call records and SMS data from Android devices for years.

Facebook has been requesting access to contacts, SMS data, and call history on Android devices to improve its friend recommendation algorithm and distinguish between business contacts and  personal friendships. Facebook appears to be gathering this data through its Messenger application, which often prompts Android users to take over as the default SMS client. Facebook has, at least recently, been offering an opt-in prompt that prods users with a big blue button to “continuously upload” contact data, including call and text history. It’s not clear when this prompt started appearing in relation to the historical data gathering,

The hearings were held to determine whether Washington will create regulations that address increasingly widespread concerns about digital privacy.  During Mr. Zuckerberg’s two days of testimony, he repeatedly said that he had learned the lesson of the recent data-breach scandals, saying he thought it was inevitable that there will need to be some regulation but warned that poor regulations could leads to unintended consequences.

Following Wednesday’s hearing, House Commerce Chairman Greg Walden described it as “a wake-up call for Silicon Valley and the tech community that if you let these things get out of hand, having grown up in a very lightly regulated environment, you could end up with a lot more regulation than you seek.”  “I don’t want to rush into regulation minutes after having the first hearing of this magnitude. But certainly if they can’t clean up their act, we’ll clean it up for them.” ​He said lawmakers would consider calling other tech CEOs.

 

 

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President Xi Jinping of China is set to rule the country indefinitely after Chinese lawmakers passed changes to the country’s constitution abolishing presidential term limits. The National People’s Congress voted 2,958 in favor of the amendment, two opposed and three abstained. Xi assumed leadership of China’s Communist Party in 2012 and has consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong. The change in presidency now aligns with other posts Xi holds, as head of the Communist Party and head of the military, neither of which have term limits.
After becoming president in 2013, Mr. Xi fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members. Critics say he has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals. At the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs which critics attain was a move to silence opposition.
The constitutional change officially allows him to remain in office after the end of his second term in 2023. Many believe that now that the constitution has been altered- that Xi Jinping intends to rule for the rest of his life unchallenged. There has been no national debate as to whether a leader should be allowed to stay on for as long as they choose.
The two-consecutive-term limit to China’s presidency was put in place by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 in order to avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong. Among many campaigns launched by Zedong were “The Great Leap Forward” in 1957 that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962.
Zedong also initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle and widespread destruction of cultural artifacts. It has officially been regarded as a “severe setback” for the Peoples Republic of China.
The National People’s Congress is also likely to confirm China’s new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping’s second term as president, ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency and ratify the inclusion of the president’s political philosophy in the constitution. His philosophy is officially called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”. Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.

 

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Missouri’s Governor Eric Greitens was arrested after a grand jury indicted him on charges of felony invasion of privacy stemming from an extramarital affair in 2015. The indictment accuses Greitens of blindfolding and tying up a woman with whom he was having a consensual affair, and then taking her picture without her consent—and threatening to release the naked photograph if she ever spoke publicly about the affair. Greitens was arraigned and later released on his own recognizance. He has acknowledged the affair but denies any criminal behavior including allegations of abusing or threatening the woman. Greitens remained defiant amid calls for resignation and impeachment less than 24 hours after a St. Louis grand jury indicted him for felony invasion of privacy.
Greitens is a former U.S. Navy SEAL who was elected in 2016 after he ran on a pro-gun, anti-Obama platform. After news of the affair broke in early January 2017, Greitens and his wife, Sheena, released a joint statement after a number of inquiries from the news media about the relationship. The couple revealed that there “was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage.” “This was a deeply personal mistake,” the Greitens, who have two young children, said in the statement. “Eric took responsibility and we dealt with this together honestly and privately.”
The accusations were relayed by the woman’s ex-husband, but she has not commented. The identified but still unnamed woman is a St. Louis area hairstylist. She told her ex-husband that she’d had an affair in 2015 with Eric Greitens — then philanthropist, now governor — and that he had tied her to home exercise equipment, taken a photo of her naked and threatened to publicly release it if she ever told anyone about him. She said Greitens later apologized and said he’d deleted the photo. She also told her ex-husband that Greitens had slapped her against her will, after she told Greitens she had had sex with her husband. The conversation was part of a therapeutic exercise but was recorded without her knowledge. The man filed for divorce in 2015, a few months after the affair.)
Behind the scenes, many state political figures and journalists had been aware of rumors about Greitens’ affair since September 2016. Journalists had held back from publication because the woman had not recorded the conversation herself or released it to the media, and she repeatedly declined to be interviewed on the record.
When Greitens was running for governor against Chris Koster, Roy Temple, an advisor to the Koster campaign, heard a rumor about the affair and contacted a mutual friend to him and the ex-husband. Temple said he met with the ex-husband to see whether he’d be interested in publicly telling his story, but the man, a prominent St. Louis entertainer, declined to proceed because he didn’t want his two children learning about the affair. The man only came forward in 2017 after a national reporter at another outlet called his 15-year-old about the allegations.

 

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Haiti has suspended the British charity Oxfam as it investigates reports that it tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. An internal Oxfam review concluded in 2011 that senior aid workers hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties in Haiti and then tried to cover it up. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Oxfam’s internal report also includes claims that three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the internal investigation.
The report confirms that Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director in the Caribbean nation for Oxfam’s Great Britain arm, admitted to hiring prostitutes to his official residence. A news report revealed there had been at least one “Caligula orgy” with women dressed in Oxfam T-shirts. No public disclosures were made of the alleged abuse at the time, though the 2011 report shows that the director and six others were dismissed or resigned for misconduct, including three who did so because of “use of prostitutes.” All of the names in the document were redacted besides van Hauwermeiren. Oxfam said in a statement that the full un-redacted reports will be given to the Haitian government. The Charity Commission has said it was not told the full story when Oxfam first looked into the allegations in 2011.
The scandal around van Hauwermeiren, who also faced allegations about work in Chad in 2006 where he presided over an office with employees accused of hiring prostitutes. The history of alleged abuse, and the fact that he was allowed to go on to work for another charity in Bangladesh, prompted Oxfam to call for an independent review of itself by women’s rights groups.
An internal investigation by the charity into sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, bullying and intimidation is claimed to have found children may have been exploited by employees. The report also clarifies that the charity was aware of concerns about the conduct of two of men at the center of the Haiti allegations when they previously worked in Chad.
Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations involving a slew of countries, in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up the sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti. The charity now faces worries about funding from the British government and its ability to fundraise while multiple prominent ambassadors for the group have resigned.