Monthly Archives: October 2015

SAUSAGES, OTHER PROCESSED MEATS CAUSE CANCER – UN AGENCY

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Eating sausages, ham and other processed meats causes colon cancer, and red meat “probably” does too, a UN agency said on Monday, in a potentially heavy blow for the global meat industry.

The analysis of 800 studies from around the world by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer”.

The category includes meat that has been salted, cured, fermented or smoked — hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, dried meat like beef jerky or South African biltong, canned meat or meat-based sauces.

The finding supports “recommendations to limit intake of meat” — particularly in processed forms, said the IARC.

“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance,” IARC official Kurt Straif said in a statement.

For an individual, the risk of getting cancer from eating processed meat was statistically “small”, the agency said, but “increases with the amount of meat consumed.”

“Each 50-gramme (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent,” it said in a statement.

For unprocessed red meat — beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse or goat, the review found “strong” evidence of a cancer-causing effect, but not sufficient to place it in the same group of cancer-causing agents as tobacco smoke, asbestos, and now also processed meat.

As for processed meat, the red meat risk was mainly for cancer of the colon and rectum, but also the pancreas and prostate, said the report.

The agency cited research attributing about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide to diets high in processed meat.

As for red meat — if the suspected link were to be confirmed — it would account for some 50,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide.

The numbers were dwarfed by the estimated one million cancer deaths per year due to tobacco smoking, 600,000 from alcohol use, and more than 200,000 due to air pollution, said the agency.

‘TORTURED DATA’

Meat producers slammed the report, as independent experts urged caution in interpreting the numbers.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) said the IARC “tortured the data to ensure a specific outcome”.

“Followers of the Mediterranean diet eat double the recommended amount of processed meats. People in countries where the Mediterranean diet is followed, like Spain, Italy and France, have some of the longest lifespans in the world and excellent health,” said Betsy Booren, NAMI vice president of scientific affairs.

British nutrition expert Elisabeth Lund said via the Science Media Centre: “Very few people in Europe eat sufficient meat to fall into the high meat consumption category.”

“Meat is such a good source of iron and zinc and many women are short of these key micronutrients… Iron is much more… available from meat than from vegetables or supplements.”

According to Ian Johnson, a Britain-based nutrition researcher, “there is little or no evidence that vegetarians in the UK have a lower risk of bowel cancer than meat-eaters”.

The report of the IARC, based in Lyon, France, was compiled by 22 experts from 10 countries.

Given that red meat is an important source of human nutrition, the results should help governments and regulatory agencies balance the risks and benefits of eating meat, it said.

The agency made no finding on whether the method of cooking meat affects cancer risk.

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PGCPS School bus collides with truck in Brandywine

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– A school bus full of kids collided with a truck in Brandywine and sent five people to the hospital.

The accident happened Friday afternoon as the bus was dropping off students from Benjamin D. Foulois Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Suitland.
All of the injuries are considered minor, but it was a frightening ordeal for the students on board.

At least 15 students were riding on the bus as the driver attempted to merge onto Crain Highway (Route 301) off of Dyson Road.

The bus collided with a truck and ended up crashing into a tree. Glass and debris scattered across the roadway after the crash.
One young girl, a student, was among those taken to the hospital.
The bus driver and an aide along with two people from the truck were also transported to the hospital. Prince George’s County fire officials describe all of the injuries as non-life-threatening.
A hazmat unit was called out to the scene because inside of the trailer of the truck was a race car, which had a small nitrous oxide leak as a result of the crash.
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Prince George’s Co. School Bus Driver Apparently Shown Texting

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A Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Bus driver is shown in this picture driving and texting with a school bus full of kids.

Parents in Prince George’s County are outraged after seeing photos and videos from their kids that appear to show a school bus driver texting while driving. News4′s Tracee Wilkins reports on what officials say they did and why parents are still upset.

>>More NBC4

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PGCPS Teen Died Protecting His Mother, Charging Documents Say

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Keyshaun Mason is pictured above

The Maryland teen stabbed to death by his mother’s boyfriend died trying to protect his mother, according to charging documents and family members.

Keyshaun Mason, who had just started his freshman year at Potomac High School, died Monday morning after police say his mother’s boyfriend stabbed him and his 18-year-old brother when they tried to break up an argument.

Police said Sean Crawford, 48, stabbed the brothers inside the home they shared on the 600 block of Audrey Lane in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

“My kids responded. They did what they felt was needed to see if I was safe,” mother Lakisha Jenkins said Tuesday. “Keyshaun was a very caring person. He would do whatever he possibly thought he needed to do if he cared about you.”

Oxon Hill Man Killed Girlfriend’s Teen Son, Police Say

Oxon Hill Man Killed Girlfriend's Teen Son, Police Say

Neighbor Alexis Black says yelling could be heard coming from the home at the time of the incident

According to the charging documents, the victims tried to help Jenkins after she and Crawford argued all night and into the morning. At some point, police say Crawford grabbed a kitchen knife and barricaded himself and the Jenkins inside a bedroom.

Mason and his brother forced their way into the bedroom and tried to ask Crawford to leave. Crawford then stabbed Mason in the chest and his brother in the shoulder in front of their mother, police said.

Officers were called to the scene about 7:25 a.m. Monday. Mason was pronounced dead on the scene. His brother was treated and released and was recovering on Tuesday at his father’s house.

Mason loved football and played on the team at Potomac High.

Prince George’s County has the highest domestic violence rate of any county in Maryland, prosecutors said. Children being killed in domestic incidents is all too common in the area, prosecutors say.

“What we’re seeing increasingly is having children who are killed. We’ve had four children in the last 18 months in this exact same scenario, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrook said.

Jenkins suggested she had thought she could help Crawford, who prosecutors say has a record for domestic crimes in Maryland and D.C.

“We have had a short-time relationship, however there are some things you feel maybe you can contribute to a person to help them in any form or fashion, and I think sometimes you never think helping someone will end up in this manner,” Jenkins said.

After speaking about her son on Tuesday, the distraught mother collapsed and needed to be carried away.

Crawford, who prosecutors said has a history of domestic violence in Maryland and D.C., has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first- and second-degree murder. He is being held without bond and faces life in prison without parole if convicted. It was not clear if he has an attorney.

>> Read moredaily mail UK,  NBC4

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Keyshaun Mason died Monday morning after he was allegedly attacked inside an Oxon Hill, Maryland, home by his mother’s live-in boyfriend, 48-year-old Sean Crawford (shown here)
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Charter School Black Hole: CMD Special Investigation Reveals Huge Info Gap on Charter Spending –

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Madison, WI (CMD) – Today the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is releasing a special report on its year-long investigation into charter schools spending in the United States. You can access the full report “Charter School Black Hole” here.

CMD, a national investigative group that conducts in-depth investigations into the influence of corporations, trade groups, and PR firms on media and democracy, found that the public does not have ready access to key information about how their federal and state taxes are being spent to fuel the charter school industry since charters began almost 25 years ago.

Indeed, no one even knew how much the federal government had spent on its program designed to boost the charter sector. So CMD reviewed more than two decades of federal authorizations and appropriations to calculate the sum, which is now more than $3.7 billion—as noted in this new report. CMD also found that the federal government was not providing the public with a list of all the charter schools that received federal tax monies and how much.

CMD also found that many states have not provided the public with ready information about the amounts of federal funding each charter has received under the federal “Charter School Program” (CSP) for state education agencies (SEAs), and that most states have not provided the public with information about the amounts in state and federal tax dollars that have been diverted to charters rather than spent strengthening traditional public schools.

What is even more troubling is how difficult it is to find essential information on how some charters have spent federal and state tax dollars, even as governments continue to increase funding for charters while slashing funds for traditional public schools. Unlike truly public schools that have to account for prospective and past spending in public budgets provided to democratically elected school boards, charter spending of tax monies is too often a black hole.

This is the largely due to the way the charter industry has been built by proponents, favoring “flexibility” over rules. That flexibility has allowed an epidemic of fraud, waste, and mismanagement that would not be tolerated in public schools. Charters are often policed—if they are really policed at all—by charter proponents, both within government agencies and within private entities tasked with oversight as “authorizers” of charters.

In this investigation, CMD pursued numerous open records requests under federal or state law about how much federal CSP money had been given to charters and how that money was spent in 12 states. As a result, CMD found that public information about funds received and spent by charters is severely lacking. It also documented how little is known about spending by closed charters, and identified “ghost” schools, where federal grants were awarded to charters that never opened.

“The bottom-line is taxpayers know far too little about how much their federal tax dollars are being used to fund charters and there is far too little information provided by states about how tax monies are being spent by charters or by for-profit firms they are tied to,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of CMD. “Neither the federal government nor the states require charters to publish that information on their websites and neither the federal or state governments we examined publish that information themselves. Even aside from serious questions about academic performance by charters—especially online charters—the lack of real accountability remains a real problem for kids and families, as more and more people and corporations have sought to get a piece of pie, a revenue stream from taxpayer money, to operate or assist charters.”

Below are a few key findings from the report:

Michigan: In 2011 and 2012, $3.7 million in federal taxpayer money was awarded to 25 Michigan “ghost” schools that never even opened to students. The organizations behind these schools received at least $1.7 million, according to the state expenditure database. WestEd—a private company that contracts with the U.S. Department of Education to monitor how states comply with federal regulations—flagged this as a potential problem, but the agency did little to address the problem. After verbal assurances that this would not happen again, the federal agency assured the Michigan Department of Education “that there will not be any additional follow-up.”

Ohio: Out of the 88 schools created by planning and implementation grants under CSP between 2008 and 2013, at least 15 closed within a few years; a further seven schools never even opened. These charters received more than $4 million in federal taxpayer money. Despite this track record, Ohio landed the biggest one-year grant by far in the 2015 competition for federal funding: $32.6 million. CMD can reveal that part of the reason Ohio won the grant was a glowing endorsement from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA)—an organization that had previously referred to the charter system in Ohio as “broken.” But NACSA was more than willing to take that back as long as the Ohio Department of Education signed a $40,000-a-year deal. The deal was brokered by former NACSA senior executive and lobbyist David Hansen only days before he resigned as head of the Ohio Office of Quality School Choice amid accusations of having manipulated charter school performance data.

 California: More than $4.7 million in federal taxpayer money was handed out to create charter schools that subsequently closed within a few years. CMD’s investigation found that California’s record on charters is marked by continued failures, including squandering of taxpayer money, along with deference to unaccountable authorizers and resistance to federal efforts to mandate better state oversight.

Wisconsin: More than $2.5 million in CSP money was used to create charter schools that shuttered shortly thereafter. In addition to the school closings, at least one of the schools created by federal charter school money was a former religious school that has since “converted” to charter status so as to be eligible for funding, an audit obtained by CMD shows. There appears to have been no regular evaluations about whether such conversions in Wisconsin–and also Texas–affect the content of the instruction or not.

Indiana: At least $2.2 million was awarded to charters that either closed or never opened. In addition, emails obtained by CMD through a public records request to Gov. Pence’s office found troubling examples of how the private charter sector, notably for-profit chain Charter Schools USA, influences on policy-making.

New York State: CMD discovered that almost every single application for the New York subgrants was written by the same multi-million-dollar charter consultancy firm: Charter School Business Management. The nature of CSP funding competition means that charter schools relying on private contractors for services, such as grant-writing and budgeting, can gain a competitive edge.

Colorado: State leadership responsible for managing the federal charter school grants fought legislation that would have advanced charter school oversight and accountability, emails obtained by CMD show.

The report also reviews federal charter spending in Arizona, District of Columbia, Florida, Texas and Utah.

Read the full report here.

Click here for a complete state-by-state list of charter schools that were created by CSP SEA seed money in the 2010-2015 grant cycle. Dozens of these “schools” never opened to students in the first place, and many of the schools that did open have since closed.

For an updated tally of the $3.7 billion disbursed under the CSP umbrella since the inception of the program, click here.

Click here for emails from Ohio’s Office of Quality School Choice, detailing the role NACSA and David Hansen, who resigned in July amid accusations of having manipulated data on charter school “success,” played in securing the biggest federal charter grant in 2015.

For further information contact: Jonas Persson, Jonas@prwatch.org.

– See more at: http://www.prwatch.org/charter-school-black-hole#sthash.GbsMCEQS.dpuf

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PGCPS Teen fatally stabbed in Pr. George’s;

CrawfordSean Crawford the mother’s boyfriend arrested. 

A 14-year-old boy was fatally stabbed Monday in Prince George’s County, and his mother’s live-in boyfriend was arrested in the killing, police said.

Keyshaun Mason, a high school freshman, died after an apparent argument erupted in the apartment where he lived in the 600 block of Audrey Lane in the Oxon Hill area, police said. A second teenager, Keyshaun’s 18-year-old brother, was stabbed and wounded in the incident.

Police said they arrested Sean Crawford, 48, the man who they said was the mother’s live-in boyfriend. He faces a charge of first-degree murder in Keyshaun’s death, along with attempted first- and second- degree murder in connection with the wounding of Keyshaun’s brother, police said.

Police arrived at Audrey Lane about 7:25 a.m. after a domestic stabbing was reported. They said that when they got there, they found Mason and another teen wounded.

Both teens were taken to a hospital, where Mason was pronounced dead. His brother, who was not named, was treated and released.

A third teen also was in the apartment at the time of the incident, according to Prince George’s fire department spokesman Mark Brady, but she was not taken to a hospital.

Mason was a student at Potomac High School, according to officials with Prince George’s County Public Schools. Principal Robynne Prince sent a letter to parents informing them that counseling would be available for students “as long as necessary.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” Prince wrote in the letter.

On Monday morning, yellow tape blocked off the apartment area as police technicians searched for evidence.

A neighbor in the complex — Dante Anderson, 28 — said he heard someone screaming “Get off of me!” Monday morning outside his apartment building.

“There was a lot of yelling,” Anderson said. “Whatever it was, it was something serious.”

Another neighbor, Frederick Rainey, 37, said he was jogging Monday morning when he ran past a girl covered in blood and saw a teen on a stretcher being taken for medical attention.

Read more Washington Post; WTOP; 

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Healthcare union files temporary restraining order against Dimensions

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LAUREL— Local citizens and healthcare union representatives are looking to use the court system to turn the tables on Dimensions Healthcare and the downsizing of the Laurel Regional Hospital.

The 1199 Service Employment International Union (SEIU) of United Healthcare Workers East partnered with citizens to file a temporary restraining order to block the downsizing of the Laurel Regional Hospital from a full acute care center to an ambulatory outpatient facility.

The lawsuit claims Dimensions, which is a privately owned company, is in violation of a lease agreement in accordance to Prince George’s County Code. CR-96-1978 in the county’s charter says that county health facilities may not close or substantially reduce services without prior written approval from the county council sitting as the board of health.

A health facility may close without board of health approval if it is clearly indicated within the county’s budget; however, the county’s budget did not indicate any need in reduction of health services at any county facilities.

“Dimensions is obligated to provide the services provided at Laurel Regional Hospital at the time the County and Dimensions entered into the lease agreement for the county hospital system,” the complaint said. “Plaintiffs will be irreparably harmed by the conversion of the Laurel Regional Hospital into an ambulatory care center because they will be deprived of the care available at a full-service hospital.”

Erika Murray, a spokeswoman for Dimensions, said that the company has not formally received the complaint as of yet, so there have been no discussions on how they will approach the matter.

“As you can imagine, we do not comment on pending litigation,” Murray said. “We will need some time to review all materials.”

Paula Adams, a Laurel resident and a plaintiff in the case, said the loss will be especially devastating to her as an 81 year old. Laurel Regional Hospital is where she gets her primary care, she said.

“I’m 81 years old and Laurel Regional is my medical home where I see my cardiologist and orthopedist,” Adams said. “I don’t know what I would do without the staff and services there.”

Dimensions signed a lease agreement with the county in 1992 for the land where Laurel Regional Hospital, Bowie Health Center and Prince George’s Hospital are located. The lease states Dimensions is obligated to provide “community services,” according to the complaint, which includes healthcare.

Last week, at a community forum, citizens of Laurel and public officials came together to ask for Governor Larry Hogan’s help on the issue. Laurel Mayor Craig Moe said the decision to close the full service hospital is another failure of Dimensions executives to operate in an efficient manner.

“It was made in closed door sessions with no community involvement without discussions with local elected officials,” Moe said. “I question why the Dimensions leadership failed to provide the public with full disclosure of the information contained in the consultant’s scope of work.”

Moe previously stated he would like to see another healthcare company replace Dimensions in Prince George’s County, saying “it is time for Dimensions Healthcare to go.”

Moe is not the only local leader who is not satisfied with Dimensions’ process or decision to downsize the Laurel Regional Hospital. State Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk said this decision is why Governor Hogan is being called on for help.

As a nine-year member of the state health committee, Pena-Melnyk said she is in contact with Dimensions regularly and never heard about the decision to close the hospital prior to the first announcement on July 31.

“Our community needs transparency and more information about how the decision to close Laurel Regional Hosptial was made,” Pena-Melnyk said.

The reason for the downsizing is to cut costs for Dimensions. Laurel Regional Hospital has cost the private healthcare company $108 million over the last 10 years according to Neji Moore, president of Dimensions Healthcare.

Removing acute care from the hospital was one of four options that did not completely disband the hospital’s services, but cut costs nonetheless.

Judge C. Philip Nichols, chairman of the Dimensions board, said Dimensions has lost too much money from keeping the Laurel Regional Hospital in operation. This has been a very difficult time for Dimensions, he said.

“We were compared to thieves in the night and that is really inappropriate. This is a very logical, sound and data-based decision,” Nichols said. “Less than 10 percent of our population service area goes to Laurel hospital. Any business that loses $108 million has failed a long time ago.”

Dimensions plan would downsize the Laurel Hospital to an outpatient facility which would include a $24 million ambulatory care facility by 2018. The hospital would need to reduce the amount of inpatient beds to just 30.

The complaint indicates that 55 employees have already been terminated from Laurel Regional Hospital as a result of current reductions. It is estimated that an additional 40 members will lose their jobs by November 7, according to the complaint.

Via Prince George’s County Sentinel. 

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Members of the Laurel community gathered recently in a new push to fight back against the closing of Laurel Regional Hospital in Prince George’s county due to corruption. Dimensions leadership failed to provide the public with full disclosure of the information contained in the consultant’s scope of work which is a violation of Maryland law. 7a5e3-judgenichols

The Hon. Judge C. Philip Nichols, chairman of the Dimensions board, said Dimensions has lost too much money from keeping the Laurel Regional Hospital in operation.“We were compared to thieves in the night and that is really inappropriate. This is a very logical, sound and data-based decision,” Nichols said. “Less than 10 percent of our population service area goes to Laurel hospital. Any business that loses $108 million has failed a long time ago.”

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