ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Fri, 27 Feb 2015 03:54:56 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Durbin, Speier Introduce Bill To Address Rising Number Of Poisonings In Children Due To Laundry Detergent Packets http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59514-durbin-speier-introduce-bill-to-address-rising-number-of-poisonings-in-children-due-to-laundry-detergent-packets.html WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) today introduced legislation to address the rising number of poisonings in children due to laundry detergent packets.  The Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“Of course parents should do all that they can to keep laundry detergent packets out of the reach of children, but companies can do much more to address the rising number of poisonings head on,” Durbin said. “Making the design and color of packets less appealing to children, making safer, child-resistant packaging and adding proper warning labels are common-sense protections for consumers similar to those for countless other household products.  We can still have convenience without sacrificing safety for children and families.”

“Anyone with common sense can see how dangerous it is to have liquid detergent in colorful, bite-sized packets that children will inevitably swallow,” said Congresswoman Speier. “These packets must be subject to the same robust safety measures and warning labels that we already expect on detergent, medicine, and similar household products.  Toxic, concentrated detergent should not look like candy. It is irresponsible to market a product that is so unsafe to children. These packets must be subject to the same robust safety measures and warning labels that we already expect on detergent, medicine, and similar household products.”

Nationally, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports more than 11,700 children under age the age of 5 were exposed to chemicals in laundry detergent packets in 2014.  A majority of the children experienced adverse reactions, including vomiting, coughing or choking and respiratory distress.

“Today, liquid detergent packets are getting more and more popular, but the protections for safety are completely inadequate, despite the known hazards.  The research shows that these packets are much more likely to cause injury compared to traditional types of detergent,” said Ellen Bloom, Senior Director of Federal Policy at Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. “We applaud the lawmakers for taking action to help protect small children from harm.”

“The alarming number of incidents associated with laundry packets--  more than 1,700 reports received by CPSC and over 17,000 reports received by poison centers  across the country, and possibly two deaths, compel a strong and effective solution,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel at Consumer Federation of America. “We applaud the introduction of this legislation because it will institute a broad solution that will protect children from injury, illness and death associated with laundry packets by addressing the accessibility of the packaging and the packets as well as the composition of the detergent.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) commends Congresswoman Speier and Senator Durbin for introducing the Detergent PACS Act, which will help make laundry detergent pods less toxic to young children. Recent research found that laundry detergent packets have come to pose a serious poisoning risk to young children, with just under 1,000 children poisoned by these products each month. Children younger than 3 years old accounted for 73 percent of the cases.  Now, most people know that 1- and 2-year olds can walk, climb, are good with their hands, and put everything into their mouths. From the published research, we know that most of time, children ingest these colorful products or otherwise burst them open, and expose their mouths, stomachs, skin, and eyes to the detergent’s powerful chemicals.  The Detergent PACS Act is an important step forward to put protections in place that will keep children safe,” said Dr. Kyran Quinlan, MD, MPH, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.

“Kids In Danger, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting children by improving children’s product safety, commends Senator Durbin and Representative Speier for introducing the Detergent PACS Act which will protect children from the little known hazard of liquid detergent packets,” said Nancy Cowles, Executive director of Kids In Danger.

The Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to set mandatory safety standards for easily accessible liquid detergent packets, which expose thousands of children each year to caustic chemicals.  Specifically, the bill would give the CPSC the authority and direction to issue rules requiring safer, child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent packets within eighteen months compelling industry to implement stronger and more effective policies that address:

Child-proof packaging for the container holding liquid detergent packets;

Design and color of the packets to make them less appealing to children;

Composition of packets to make consequences of exposure less severe; and

Proper warning labels that adequately inform consumers of the potential risks. 

Earlier this month, Durbin sent a letter to the American Society for Testing and Materials—a nonprofit multi-stakeholder organization charged with developing safety standards—urging them to finalize its voluntary safety standards to reduce the safety hazards associated with liquid detergent packets as soon as possible. Last year, the Illinois Poison Control Center received 449 calls for children exposed to chemicals in laundry detergent packets with an average of 37 per month. This represents a ten percent increase from 2013.

Source: durbin.senate.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:24:56 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59514-durbin-speier-introduce-bill-to-address-rising-number-of-poisonings-in-children-due-to-laundry-detergent-packets.html
Civil Rights Group Applauds FCC, Calls New Rules Major Civil Rights Victory http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59509-civil-rights-group-applauds-fcc-calls-new-rules-major-civil-rights-victory.html

WASHINGTON --(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  ColorOfChange applauds the FCC’s decision to reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications service.These new rules will protect net neutrality, which has been crucial to modern day civil rights movements and fights for equality. Though there is more work to be done, today is a monumental victory for civil rights, many years in the making.

Since 2010, the organization’s members have taken more than a hundred thousand actions pressuring the FCC and Congress to protect the open Internet. ColorOfChange worked alongside organizations in the Voices for Internet Freedom coalition that recognize net neutrality as a key civil rights issue. ColorOfChange thanks the Center for Media Justice, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Free Press, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Presente.org, CREDO Action, all other net neutrality advocates and, most importantly, the millions of people across the country that stood up and made this their fight.

ColorOfChange began nearly ten years ago with a single email to a couple thousand friends and colleagues. Today, with more than one million members, the organization has spearheaded or contributed to many important civil rights victories. None of that work would have been be possible without an open Internet.

In response, Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, issued the following statement:

“Today, we celebrate a major civil rights victory. Our ability to be heard, counted, and visible in this democracy now depends on an open Internet, because it allows voices and ideas to spread based on their quality – not the amount of money behind them. Without net neutrality, the voices of everyday people wouldn’t have a chance.

“Throughout this fight -- as our members raised their voices to make it clear that net neutrality is essential for civil rights -- those who were being paid to carry water for the telecoms told us that this ‘wasn’t our issue,’ and that we couldn’t win. They claimed that big telecom companies, and telecom-funded legacy civil rights groups with tlike the National Action Network, Urban League, and NAACP, were too strong for us and our allies to face down. What they underestimated was the power of everyday people who used their voices strategically, empowered by the open Internet. We urge members of Congress to show they are on the side of communities, and not corporations, by supporting the FCC’s decision to implement the strongest net neutrality rules possible.”


With more than 850,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.

Source: www.commondreams.org

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How We Won Net Neutrality

Victory for Municipal Broadband: FCC Sides with Communities in Internet Access Fight

And the Internet Goes Wild... FCC Vote Enshrines Net Neutrality Protections

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 23:05:04 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59509-civil-rights-group-applauds-fcc-calls-new-rules-major-civil-rights-victory.html
ACLU: Net Neutrality Vote a Victory for Free Speech http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59506-aclu-net-neutrality-vote-a-victory-for-free-speech.html ACLU Hails FCC Decision to Adopt Strongest Ever Open Internet Protections

WASHINGTON –-(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  The Federal Communications Commission approved new regulations today reclassifying Internet providers as "common carriers" under Title II of the Communications Act. The rules would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking controversial or competing content or services, and would prevent "fast lanes".

Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens’ ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference. Title II provides the firmest possible foundation for such protections. We are still sifting through the full details of the new rules, but the main point is that the internet, the primary place where Americans exercise their right to free expression, remains open to all voices and points of view.

Source: www.aclu.org

Related Articles:

How We Won Net Neutrality

Victory for Municipal Broadband: FCC Sides with Communities in Internet Access Fight

And the Internet Goes Wild... FCC Vote Enshrines Net Neutrality Protections

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 22:58:56 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59506-aclu-net-neutrality-vote-a-victory-for-free-speech.html
How We Won Net Neutrality http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/59503-how-we-won-net-neutrality.html
'The real story,' explains Aaron, is the 'dozens of public interest groups, new civil rights leaders and netroots organizers coordinating actions online and off, inside and outside Washington' who made this victory possible. (Image: via Facebook)

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015

This is what democracy looks like.

That's not something I thought I'd ever say about the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission.

After years of cronyism, corruption and cowardice, Thursday's vote for strong Net Neutrality rules at the FCC is unexpected if not unprecedented.

The FCC is reversing a decade of failed policies, rejecting a massive misinformation campaign from the cable and phone industries, and restoring the agency's authority to protect Internet users.

This is the biggest win for the public interest in the agency's history.

Yet even five months ago, this kind of victory looked impossible.

How We Got Here

Credit FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler for listening to his critics and changing his mind about how to best protect the open Internet. Praise President Obama for using his bully pulpit. Thank John Oliver for coining the memorable phrase "cable company fuckery."

But know that none of this happens without a relentless push from the grassroots. The real story here was dozens of public interest groups, new civil rights leaders and netroots organizers coordinating actions online and off, inside and outside Washington.

Artists, musicians, faith leaders and legal scholars bolstered their efforts. And about a dozen mostly unsung advocates in D.C. pushed back daily against the phone and cable lobby. This diverse coalition broke the FCC's website, jammed switchboards on Capitol Hill, and forged new alliances that are transforming how telecom and technology policy is made.

The long but probably still incomplete list of key groups that share in the credit for this victory includes 18 Million Rising, Access, the ACLU, the Center for Media Justice, ColorOfChange.org, Common Cause, Consumers Union, CREDO Action, DailyKos, D.C. Action Lab, Demand Progress, Democracy for America, EFF, Engine Advocacy, Fight for the Future, Free Press, the Future of Music Coalition, the Internet Freedom Business Alliance, the Media Action Grassroots Network, the Media Democracy Fund, the Media Literacy Project, the Media Mobilizing Project, MoveOn, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Open Media, the Open Technology Institute, PCCC, Popular Resistance, Presente.org, Public Knowledge, Revolutions Per Minute and SumOfUs.

These groups worked alongside online companies (notably upstarts like Etsy, Kickstarter, reddit and Tumblr), investors and an abundance of startups and small businesses that didn't want to get stuck in an Internet slow lane. Some of these innovators stepped in at key moments to lobby policymakers. But no matter what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, the activists spurred the companies -- not the other way around.

The highlights of the past year included rallies outside the FCC and across the country, people camped out on the FCC's doorstep, enormous video billboards erected in D.C., jam-packed public hearings, and street theater. More than 40,000 websites joined the historic Internet slowdown in September.

All told, more than 4 million people filed official comments with the FCC -- more than on any other issue in the agency's history -- with the vast majority of them calling on the chairman to scrap his earlier terrible plan and make strong rules under Title II of the Communications Act.

And for once, the FCC listened.

Why Title II Is So Important

Back in January 2014, when a federal court tossed out the FCC's previous attempt at open Internet rules, no one knew that the wonky shorthand for a key section of the Communications Act would become an activist rallying cry. But that's what happened with Title II.

In the hundreds of pages of rules the FCC votes on Thursday, the part that matters most is the agency's decision to recognize that broadband access is a telecommunications service. This is so important because it's the law, and it's the only way to restore the agency's the power to make rules against blocking, discrimination or slow lanes.

The rules are only as good as the authority they rest on and the FCC's willingness to enforce them. So we'll have to remain vigilant. But with the key sections of Title II intact, Internet users will be able to file complaints and actually stop corporate abuse -- including future nefarious schemes Comcast and Verizon haven't even dreamed up yet.

Almost everything the FCC does leads to a lawsuit -- and these new rules will be no exception. But the beauty of the Title II approach is that it will actually stand up in court. The phone and cable companies know that Title II gives the agency the strongest legal standing -- which is why they've been fighting so hard against it.

Lies, Damn Lies and Ajit Pai

Aware they've lost both the FCC vote and the public's support, our opponents in Washington have resorted to lies and deception. The crazy talk has reached a fever pitch with claims that these lightest-touch rules will raise taxes, re-impose the Fairness Doctrine, encourage dictators, unleash trial lawyers and smother puppies.

But trying to track all of the truthiness is a constant game of whack-a-mole, with the same lies popping up over and over. Taking the lead in this misinformation campaign has been Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who is unscrupulous but very media-savvy. Of course, his outlandish claims can't withstand any actual analysis or scrutiny.

What the FCC is proposing has nothing to do with Internet content or censorship: Net Neutrality rules don't regulate what's on the Internet any more than the FCC dictates what people say on phone calls.

Nothing the FCC is doing will raise your taxes. The Washington Post awarded the Progressive Policy Institute "three Pinocchios" for telling this lie. And Sen. Ron Wyden, author of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, summed up the cable-funded think tank's claims in a single word: "Baloney."

Title II's alleged harms to broadband investment also have been repeatedly debunked -- not just by Free Press, but by top executives at Verizon, Charter, Comcast, Google, Sprint, T-Mobile, Time Warner Cable and Verizon (at least when they're talking to Wall Street instead of Washington).

The industry is shelling out millions to deceive people, but they aren't buying it. Support for real Net Neutrality is strong across the political spectrum, and more than 80 percent of self-identified conservatives support protections like the ones the FCC is putting forward.

The Next Fight

With this victory, and the ones like SOPA that came before it, a new political force has awakened. But we've only just scratched the surface of what a well-organized Internet constituency can accomplish. Now we must figure out how to turn this exciting moment into a lasting political movement.

Comcast and Verizon are used to getting their way in Washington and won't take this defeat lying down. Soon we'll see legislation designed to undermine the FCC's new rules, attempts to defund the agency, and a new wave of Astroturf groups unleashed on the Hill and the airwaves.

So while we can celebrate today, we need to start defending Net Neutrality again tomorrow. That starts by showing Congress what we just showed the FCC: Messing with the Internet is a big mistake.

About the Author:

Craig Aaron is president and CEO of Free Press, the national, non partisan media reform group. He is the editor of two books, Appeal to Reason: 25 Years of In These Times and Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Source: www.commondreams.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:33:54 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/59503-how-we-won-net-neutrality.html
Planned Parenthood on Report Showing Use of IUDs and Implants Increased Nearly Fivefold Over the Last Decade http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59499-planned-parenthood-on-report-showing-use-of-iuds-and-implants-increased-nearly-fivefold-over-the-last-decade.html CDC Data Reflects Trend in Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) Patients

St. Paul, MN —(ENEWSPF)—February 26, 2015.  This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a  report on the use of long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC) methods among women in the U.S. The report found that use of LARC methods — which include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants — increased nearly fivefold in the last decade among women aged 15–44, from 1.5 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2011-2013. IUD and implant use is most common among women aged 25-34. 

Additionally, a new Planned Parenthood study published yesterday in the journal Contraception found that women’s health care providers are three and a half times more likely to report an IUD or implant is the birth control method they personally use (42 percent of women’s health care providers, compared to just 12 percent of women in the general population).

“The IUD and implant are great birth control options for women who want the best possible pregnancy prevention and aren’t yet ready to start a family,” said Dr. Christy Boraas, PPMNS’ Associate Medical Director. “IUDs and implants are safe for most women, including adolescents and women who have not had children, and they are an especially good option for young women who want to delay starting their families for a few years, so they can be the best parents they can be.

“Planned Parenthood wants all women to have the information and resources they need to prevent unintended pregnancy, meet their life goals, and start their families when the time is right for them. At Planned Parenthood, we offer every woman the full range of contraceptive options — including the IUD and the implant — and information to help her make an informed decision about which method is best for her.

“We hope this report helps raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of IUDs and implants among women of all ages. But it’s important for people of all ages to remember that these methods don’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, so using condoms in addition to another form of birth control is the best way to prevent both pregnancy and STDs.”

Up-front cost can be a barrier for some women interested in using a LARC method. Under the Affordable Care Act, more than 48 million women are already accessing no co-pay preventive care, such as the full range of birth control methods.

Since 2009, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) clinics have seen a 182 percent increase in the use of IUDs and implants, with IUD use increasing 87 percent and contraceptive implants growing 582 percent. From 2013 to 2014, Planned Parenthood saw a 35 percent increase in patients with contraceptive implants and a 25 percent increase in patients with IUDs.


For more than 80 years, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota has worked in our region to make sure all people have the information and the means to make free and responsible decisions about whether and when to have children.  Planned Parenthood operates 20 clinics in Minnesota and South Dakota, including an Online Health Center, providing quality and affordable family planning, reproductive health care services and education to nearly 65,000  women and men each year.

Source: Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:13:05 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59499-planned-parenthood-on-report-showing-use-of-iuds-and-implants-increased-nearly-fivefold-over-the-last-decade.html
Wisconsin Anti-worker Bill Hurts Families, State's Economy; Gov. Walker Shouldn't Sign http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59498-wisconsin-anti-worker-bill-hurts-families-state-s-economy-gov-walker-shouldn-t-sign.html WASHINGTON --(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  In response to the Wisconsin legislature's passage of anti-worker "right-to-work" legislation, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement:

"This terrible legislation hurts families and it hurts the economy in Wisconsin. Gov. Walker and his out-of-touch allies in the legislature have dealt a blow to working families.

"This is part of a 40-year attack on the ability of working people to join together to raise pay and improve working conditions. We've seen corporations gain more and more power while they limit the power of their employees. This ongoing attack has thrown our economy out of balance, and families in Wisconsin and across the nation are the ones paying the price.

When working people lose the right to unite, it means lower wages and fewer benefits for all working people.

"States with these 'no rights at work' laws have wages that are 12 percent lower than those in other states. They have fewer residents with health insurance, higher poverty and infant mortality rates, less investment in education and higher workplace fatalities than other states.

"All working families deserve a fair shot at having a good life. Unfortunately, it's clear that Gov. Walker is siding with greedy CEOs and wealthy special interests and against families that work hard to make ends meet."

Source: www.seiu.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:09:16 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59498-wisconsin-anti-worker-bill-hurts-families-state-s-economy-gov-walker-shouldn-t-sign.html
Center for American Progress: Social Security Too Important to Be Held Hostage to Congressional Politicking http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59491-center-for-american-progress-social-security-too-important-to-be-held-hostage-to-congressional-politicking.html Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  Rebecca Vallas, Director of Policy for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement yesterday in advance of the House Ways and Means Committee’s hearing on the Social Security Disability Insurance program:

Social Security Disability Insurance has been a core pillar of the nation’s Social Security system for 60 years, offering critical protection to nearly all American workers and their families in the event of a life-changing disability or illness. The program’s eligibility criteria are restrictive and payments are modest, but for those who receive benefits, it is nothing short of a lifeline, providing critical economic security when it is needed most.

Policymakers have many options to ensure long-term solvency of the overall Social Security system and a window of nearly 20 years to arrive at a package that will accomplish that goal. In the meantime, Congress should enact a simple payroll tax reallocation as has been done time and again, whenever necessary, to keep both trust funds on sound footing until 2033. Failure to do so would be nothing short of devastating to millions of disabled workers and their families and would erode Americans’ confidence in Social Security. ​​The nation’s Social Security system is far too important to the American people to hold it hostage to congressional politicking.

Earlier this month, CAP released a new analysis that revealed the extent to which rising income inequality has affected the solvency of the Social Security trust funds and poses a threat to their long-term financial health. The analysis showed that stagnant and declining wages for working families and the upward redistribution of income have taken a substantial toll on the Social Security trust funds. Read more about the findings here.

Related resource: Social Security Disability Insurance: A Bedrock of Security for American Workers by Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad

Source: www.americanprogress.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:26:20 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59491-center-for-american-progress-social-security-too-important-to-be-held-hostage-to-congressional-politicking.html
With Medicare Payment Reform Gauntlet Laid, Center for American Progress Releases Recommendations to Reach Goal of 50 Percent from Alternate Models by 2018 http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/59490-with-medicare-payment-reform-gauntlet-laid-center-for-american-progress-releases-recommendations-to-reach-goal-of-50-percent-from-alternate-models-by-2018.html Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  Last month, Health and Human Services, or HHS, Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, announced specific goals for payment reform in Medicare. Most importantly, Secretary Burwell set a goal that 50 percent of fee-for-service Medicare payments be made through alternative payments models by 2018.

Having been on the forefront of identifying viable alternatives to the fee-for-service payment model, the Center for American Progress strongly supports Secretary Burwell’s goal for payment reform in Medicare. In a new issue brief released today, CAP offers an action plan to meet that target, outlining several policy next steps to accelerate payment reform and ensure Medicare dollars are spent efficiently and effectively while also improving health outcomes.

“Secretary Burwell took a major step toward shifting us away from an inefficient fee-for-service model by setting this urgently needed and achievable goal to make 50 percent of Medicare payments through alternative models in three years,” said Topher Spiro, Vice President of Health Policy at CAP. “CAP has identified several next steps that HHS should implement to help meet this goal, improving the level of care for Medicare patients while also contributing to significant savings.”

Among the recommendations put forth by CAP are:

Expansion of bundled payments

Partnering with states on all-payer reforms through Accountable Care States

Launching multi-payer bundled payments for cancer care

Greater price transparency for health care costs

Click here to read the brief.

Source: www.americanprogress.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:23:58 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/59490-with-medicare-payment-reform-gauntlet-laid-center-for-american-progress-releases-recommendations-to-reach-goal-of-50-percent-from-alternate-models-by-2018.html
Emergency Use of Bee-Killing Pesticide Approved for Florida Citrus http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59489-emergency-use-of-bee-killing-pesticide-approved-for-florida-citrus.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015. Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Florida citrus growers an emergency exemption to use the bee-killing pesticide clothianidin to control Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), a pest that causes “citrus greening,” a devastating citrus plant disease. Clothianidin, which is not currently registered for use on citrus, is part of a class of neurotoxic, systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, which have been implicated in global honey bee declines and suspended in the European Union. “EPA needs to assist in stopping the deadly use of pesticides that harm bees, butterflies, and birds with sustainable practices, rather than imperil pollinators with its decisions,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a health and environmental advocacy group. He continued, “We understand the immediate chemical needs of chemical-intensive agriculture for increasingly toxic and persistent chemicals, but urge EPA to help stop the treadmill, lest it allow irreversible harm to the environment, biodiversity, and human health.” Beyond Pesticides is urging EPA to require that growers adopt a management plan in order to apply clothianidin. “Ultimately, EPA should be requiring growers to adopt integrated organic systems to manage pests, as a part of an emergency permit,” said Mr. Feldman. Read Beyond Pesticides’ open letter response to EPA.

honey-bee-encircling-orange-blossom-wayne-nielsenHoney bees in Florida, researchers say, contribute to the productivity of several groups of citrus fruit, including many orange and grapefruit varieties. Through their pollination services and foraging in citrus fruit, bees and other pollinators will be exposed to the contaminated pollen and nectar in the trees’ flowers, as the systemic clothianidin translocates throughout the treated trees. Bees are exceedingly common in citrus groves, from which they produce a high quality honey crop. Citrus greening has caused significant difficultly between beekeepers and citrus farmers who are combating the spread of the psyllid with toxic chemicals. Back in 2013, one of Florida’s largest citrus growers, Ben Hill Griffin, Inc., was fined $1,500 after a state investigation found that the farm illegally sprayed pesticides, resulting in the death of millions of managed honey bees.

According to the University of Florida, there are approximately 6,000 acres of certified organic citrus in Florida that does not permit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, including clothianidin. Farm operations that are USDA certified organic avoid the use of toxic chemicals by implementing holistic management systems plans. Matt McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic is one such grower, with over 1,000 acres of organic citrus, his family will be joining Beyond Pesticides’ at the 33rd National Pesticide Forum in Orlando in April, to discuss benefits of growing organic, and efforts to combat citrus greening without toxic chemicals. Additionally, USDA announced last summer that it would broaden its use of tiny parasitic wasps, Tamarixia Radiata, to combat citrus greening disease.

Pollinators continue to face dire threats to their survival. Bees, butterflies, and others have seen drastic population declines over the last several years due to habitat loss and widespread pesticide use. Pesticides also pose a greater threat to ecosystems and biodiversity, according to a meta-analysis by a group of global, independent scientists. EPA, tasked with regulating pesticides and protecting the environment from harm, has thus far failed to sufficiently act to protect pollinators from dangerous pesticides. In fact, just last month EPA approved yet another bee-toxic pesticide, flupyradifurone, following other recent and questionable bee-toxic pesticide approvals like sulfoxaflor, which was approved for registration despite warnings from concerned groups and beekeepers.

EPA issued the 2½ year emergency permit to allow clothianidin without subjecting its decision to any public comment. Beyond Pesticides is party to a lawsuit challenging EPA’s failure to adequately review and restrict clothianidin.

Take Action:
Sign the Petition! Tell the President to #BeeKindObama. As honey bee declines continue and the crisis begins to impact consumer’s pocketbooks, it is imperative the President Obama and executive agencies take swift action to address this issue by suspending neonicotinoid pesticides.

State and local efforts are also critical in pressuring the White House to act. Concerned residents can get engaged by encouraging your community to be pollinator friendly and make changes that will protect your local pollinator population. For help with your campaign, visit the BEE Protective webpage, and contact Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450, or by email at info@beyondpesticides.org.

Learn more about organic citrus operations in Florida, pollinator issues, and what you can do to help at the 33rd National Pesticide Forum in Orlando, Florida April 17-18, 2015, Agricultural Justice, Age of Organics, and Alligators, Protecting health, biodiversity, and ecosystems. Get more information and register today!

Download a PDF version of the press release here.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Photo Source: Organic Beekeeper Blog

Source: www.beyondpesticides.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:21:03 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59489-emergency-use-of-bee-killing-pesticide-approved-for-florida-citrus.html
New CDC Study Highlights Burden of Pneumonia Hospitalizations on U.S. Children http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59488-new-cdc-study-highlights-burden-of-pneumonia-hospitalizations-on-u-s-children.html Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015. Children younger than 5 years of age accounted for 70 percent of pneumonia hospitalizations among children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a study published yesterday. Pneumonia remains a leading cause of hospitalization among children in the United States. The two-and-a-half-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by CDC researchers and three U.S. children’s medical centers estimated the burden of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations among U.S. children. Researchers also found that respiratory viruses, rather than bacterial pathogens, were most commonly detected in children hospitalized with pneumonia.

“Pneumonia puts thousands of young children in the hospital each year at a cost in the U.S. of about $1 billion, not to mention suffering of kids and hardship for their families,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. M.P.H.  “This ground-breaking study shows how badly we need faster, less-expensive diagnostic tests for doctors to accurately diagnose the cause of pneumonia so they can effectively treat it.”

“The data gathered from this study add to the evidence base that respiratory virus infections lead to pneumonia hospitalizations and complications in children,” said Dr. Seema Jain, lead author of the paper and a medical epidemiologist in CDC’s Influenza Division. “We hope this provides incentive for the continued and future development of effective treatments and vaccines against pathogens that don’t have such countermeasures available. It also highlights the importance of using existing treatments and vaccines, such as those against pneumococcus and influenza.”

The CDC Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) study sought to address gaps in knowledge about pneumonia in children by providing estimates of the incidence of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations in U.S. children. Children in the study were enrolled from January 2010 to June 2012 in three U.S. children’s hospitals in Memphis, Nashville, and Salt Lake City. Study staff tested children using a range of laboratory tests for viral and bacterial respiratory pathogen detection.

During the study period, the EPIC study team enrolled 2,638 children, of which 2,358 (89 percent) had radiographically-confirmed pneumonia. The median age of children in the study was 2 years old. Intensive care was required for 497 (21 percent) of the children, and three children died.  Among 2,222 children with radiographic pneumonia and specimens available for both bacterial and viral testing, a pathogen was detected in 1802 (81 percent) children. One or more viruses were detected in 1,472 (66 percent) of these children. Bacteria were detected in 175 (8 percent), and bacterial and viral co-detection occurred in 155 (7 percent).

The study estimated that annual pneumonia incidence was 15.7/10,000 children during the study period.  The highest incidence was among children younger than 2 years old (62.2/10,000). Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was the most common (28 percent) pathogen detected, and it was associated with the highest incidence among children younger than 2 years old with pneumonia.

Human rhinovirus was detected in 22 percent of cases, but it also was identified in 17 percent of asymptomatic controls who were enrolled, by convenience sample, at the same sites during the same period. This makes it challenging to interpret the meaning of human rhinovirus detection in children hospitalized with pneumonia.

Other detected viral pathogens included:

human metapneumovirus (13 percent),

adenovirus (11 percent), parainfluenza viruses (7 percent),

influenza (7 percent), and

coronaviruses (5 percent). 

Bacterial pathogens detected included:

Mycoplasma pneumoniae (8 percent),

Streptococcus pneumoniae (4 percent),

Staphylococcus aureus (1 percent), and

Streptococcus pyogenes (<1 percent).

Several viruses were more commonly detected in children younger than 5 years of age compared with older children. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was found in 37 percent of children with pneumonia younger than 5 years old compared with 8 percent in older children. Likewise, adenovirus was found in 15 percent versus 3 percent and human metapneumovirus was found in 15 percent versus 8 percent of children younger than 5 years old compared with older children. In contrast, Mycoplasma pneumoniae was less commonly detected in children younger than 5 years of age compared with older children (3 percent versus 19 percent).

Although bacteria were less commonly detected, the authors note that the study results reflect the success of widespread bacterial conjugate vaccination in the United States in substantially reducing previously common bacterial infections like pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae type B disease. However, currently available bacterial diagnostics have limited sensitivity, particularly in children. In the absence of a recognized, common standard for bacterial pathogen detection in pneumonia, the EPIC study findings, which are based on current state-of-the-art diagnostics, suggest that the incidence of bacterial pneumonia is lower than previously reported. 

This study was published in theNew England Journal of Medicine on February 26, 2015, and is available online at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1405870

CDC has launched a new website that provides an overview of the EPIC study’s scope and purpose and will provide links to all future publications based on EPIC data. It is available at www.cdc.gov/pneumonia/epic/

Source: cdc.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:19:08 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59488-new-cdc-study-highlights-burden-of-pneumonia-hospitalizations-on-u-s-children.html
Nearly Half a Million Americans Suffered from Clostridium Difficile Infections in a Single Year http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59487-nearly-half-a-million-americans-suffered-from-clostridium-difficile-infections-in-a-single-year.html More than 100,000 of these infections developed among residents of U.S. nursing homes
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)

Atlanta, GA--(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015. Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) caused almost half a million infections among patients in the United States in a single year, according to a study released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Approximately 29,000 patients died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis of C. difficile.  Of those, about 15,000 deaths were estimated to be directly attributable to C. difficile infections, making C. difficile a very important cause of infectious disease death in the United States.  More than 80 percent of the deaths associated with C. difficile occurred among Americans aged 65 years or older. C. difficile causes an inflammation of the colon and deadly diarrhea.

Previous studies indicate that C. difficile has become the most common microbial cause of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs for acute care facilities alone.  The new study found that 1 out of every 5 patients with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection experienced a recurrence of the infection and 1 out of every 9 patients aged 65 or older with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection died within 30 days of diagnosis.

“C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “These infections can be prevented by improving antibiotic prescribing and by improving infection control in the health care system. CDC hopes to ramp up prevention of this deadly infection by supporting State Antibiotic Resistance Prevention Programs in all 50 states.”

Patients at Highest Risk

Patients who take antibiotics are most at risk for developing C. difficile infections. More than half of all hospitalized patients will get an antibiotic at some point during their hospital stay, but studies have shown that 30 percent to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect.  When a person takes broad-spectrum antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that are normally present in the human gut and protect against infection can be suppressed for several weeks to months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread person to person. Unnecessary antibiotic use and poor infection control may increase the spread of C. difficile within a facility and from facility to facility when infected patients transfer, such as from a hospital to a nursing home.

Older Americans are especially vulnerable to this deadly diarrheal infection.  The CDC study released today found that 1 out of every 3 C. difficile infections occurs in patients 65 years or older and 2 out of every 3 healthcare-associated C. difficile infections occur in patients 65 years or older.  More than 100,000 C. difficile infections develop among residents of U.S. nursing homes each year. Women and Caucasian people are at increased risk of C. difficile infection. 

Approximately two-thirds of the C. difficile infections were found to be associated with an inpatient stay in a health care facility, but only 24 percent of the total cases occurred among patients while they were hospitalized.  Almost as many cases occurred in nursing homes as in hospitals, and the remainder of the healthcare-associated cases occurred among patients who were recently discharged from a health care facility.  

Improving Antibiotic Use Critical for Preventing C. difficile

Although more than 150,000 of the half a million infections in the new study were community-associated and thus had no documented inpatient health care exposure, a separate recent CDC study found that 82 percent of patients with community-associated C. difficile infections reported exposure to outpatient health care settings such as doctor’s or dentist’s offices in the 12 weeks before  their diagnosis; this finding underscores the need for improved antibiotic use and infection control in these settings as well.  It is estimated that more than 50 percent of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily in outpatient settings for upper respiratory infections like cough and cold illness, most of which are caused by viruses.

Another recent CDC study showed that a 30 percent decrease in the use of antibiotics linked to C. difficile infections in hospitals could reduce the deadly infections by more than 25 percent in hospitalized and recently discharged patients.  A new retrospective study from a Canadian hospital found that a 10 percent decrease in overall antibiotic use across different wards was associated with a 34 percent decrease in C. difficile infections. A third CDC study among patients without a recent hospitalization or nursing home stay (i.e., community-associated cases) found that a 10 percent reduction in the use of all antibiotics in outpatient settings could reduce C. difficile infections by 16 percent. In England in recent years, the number of C. difficile infections has been reduced by well over 60 percent, largely due to improvements in antibiotic prescribing.

To help hospitals develop antibiotic prescribing improvement programs (also called “antibiotic stewardship” programs), CDC has developed several tools, including a list of Core Elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and an accompanying checklist.  CDC is also working with states to improve outpatient prescribing and implement stewardship across the continuum of care and has provided a variety of resources through the Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work and Get Smart for Healthcare campaigns. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed a toolkit to help hospitals implement antibiotic stewardship programs to reduce C. difficile infections. This toolkit was created as part of AHRQ’s Healthcare-Associated Infections Program, which conducts research and implementation projects to prevent HAIs. Preventing all forms of HAIs contributes to reducing C. difficile infections by reducing the need for antibiotic use.

“AHRQ’s HAI Program funds projects that generate new scientific knowledge and, like the work on C. difficile, make this knowledge practical and approachable so clinicians on the front lines of care can prevent infections and make care safer for their patients,”  said AHRQ Director Richard Kronick, Ph.D. 

Preventing C. difficile Is a National Priority

Based on the National Action Plan to Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections: Road Map to Elimination, new 2020 national reduction targets are being established for C. difficile, and all hospitals participating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program have been reporting C. difficile infection data to CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network since 2013.  Those baseline data will allow continued surveillance for C. difficile infections to monitor progress in prevention.

“CMS invests in structured learning and improvement opportunities for hospitals and communities through Quality Improvement Organizations,” said CMS Acting Principal Deputy Director Patrick Conway, M.D. “The Quality Innovation Networks systematically support clinicians in the sharing of best practices in antibiotic stewardship and prevention of C. difficile.”

The State Antibiotic Resistance Prevention Programs that would be supported by the funding proposed in CDC’s FY 16 budget would work with health care facilities in all 50 states to detect and prevent both C. difficile infections and antibiotic-resistant organisms.  The FY 16 budget would also accelerate efforts to improve antibiotic stewardship in inpatient and outpatient settings.  During the next five years, CDC’s efforts to combat C. difficile infections and antibiotic resistance under the National Strategy to Combat Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria will enhance national capabilities for antibiotic stewardship, outbreak surveillance, and antibiotic resistance prevention.  These efforts hold the potential to cut the incidence of C. difficile infections in half.

Note: The data reported are from 2011 and represent the largest, longitudinal, U.S. population-based surveillance for C. difficile infection to date, including laboratory-based surveillance across diverse U.S. geographic locations.

Source: cdc.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:16:31 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59487-nearly-half-a-million-americans-suffered-from-clostridium-difficile-infections-in-a-single-year.html
Year After Standoff Over Nevada Cattle Trespass, Questions Remain About Unpaid Fees, Prosecution http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59485-year-after-standoff-over-nevada-cattle-trespass-questions-remain-about-unpaid-fees-prosecution.html WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Attorney General Eric Holder today formally requesting a public update by April 5 on the status of the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose livestock trespass on public lands led to a standoff last year after the Bureau of Land Management’s failed attempt to round up livestock.

Although it’s been nearly a year since the BLM attempted to end Bundy’s illegal livestock grazing in Clark County, Nev., his livestock continue to trespass on publicly owned land and more than $1 million in fees owed to the U.S. Treasury by Bundy remain uncollected.

“The American people deserve to know what, if anything, is going to happen with these cattle that continue to trespass on public land and whether taxpayers can expect to see any of the money that’s owed in unpaid fees,” said Randi Spivak, director of the public lands program at the Center, who signed today’s letter.

Today’s letter notes that in July, federal officials said they would work through the courts to resolve these issues, but there has been no reported progress. “The silence of the federal government has been both deafening and deeply troubling,” the letter says.

The letter further states that: “Bundy’s illegal actions have emboldened other anti-government and anti-environment agitators who oppose the very existence of public lands. Each new violation of federal rules fuels the movement to undermine the protection of our public lands, whether it’s threats against federal employees, illegal ATV rides into Recapture Canyon, a BLM site in Utah that is home to American Indian ancestral villages and sacred places, or Idaho gold miners suction dredging the Salmon River in clear violation of the law.”

Bundy first violated the law in 1993 by refusing to obtain the required permit for grazing on public lands. The Center is calling on the federal government to fulfill its constitutional and statutory obligations to own and manage federal public lands that safeguard precious wildlife, waters and recreation opportunities held in trust for this and future generations.

“When will the federal government bring Bundy to justice?” asks the letter. “The American people are waiting.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Source: www.biologicaldiversity.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:06:48 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59485-year-after-standoff-over-nevada-cattle-trespass-questions-remain-about-unpaid-fees-prosecution.html
Legal Petition Urges Gov. Brown to Impose Emergency Fracking Moratorium After Oil Waste Illegally Dumped Into California Aquifers http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59484-legal-petition-urges-gov-brown-to-impose-emergency-fracking-moratorium-after-oil-waste-illegally-dumped-into-california-aquifers.html 150 Community, Environmental and Health Groups Press Governor for Urgent Action Amid Revelations of Aquifer Contamination, Benzene in Fracking Wastewater

SACRAMENTO—(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015. After California officials admitted allowing the oil industry to illegally inject wastewater into protected aquifers via disposal wells, more than 150 environmental and community groups filed a legal petition today urging Gov. Jerry Brown to use his emergency powers to place a moratorium on fracking and other well stimulation techniques. The groups point to tests showing dangerously high levels of cancer-causing benzene in fracking flowback fluid, which is often dumped into California injection wells.

“Millions of Californians living near oil and gas wells face grave health and safety threats from fracking and all phases of the oil and gas production process,” the groups wrote in a formal legal petition delivered to Brown’s office. “The oil industry is polluting our air, contaminating our aquifers, using dangerous chemicals near homes and schools, increasing earthquake risk by injecting vast quantities of wastewater into disposal wells near active faults, and speeding climate change. These harms and risks pose an emergency and must be halted immediately.”

The legal petition was submitted under the state Administrative Procedure Act, which requires the governor to respond within 30 days. It comes on the heels of the largest anti-fracking rally in history, when 8,000 protesters gathered in Oakland earlier this month.

“Gov. Brown can and should act immediately to protect California’s precious water supplies from benzene-laden fracking fluid,” said Hollin Kretzmann, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Oil companies are illegally contaminating our aquifers during a devastating drought. Fracking also pollutes our air and worsens climate change. Our state suffers more damage every day the governor continues allowing fracking to contaminate our air and water.”

Environmental, health and community-based group leaders from all corners of the state have signed the petition on behalf of their organizations. Supporting organizations include Breast Cancer Action; the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment; Greenpeace; 350.org; Physicians for Social Responsibility-San Francisco; California Environmental Justice Alliance; Earthworks; CREDO; Public Citizen; Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment; and the Center for Environmental Health.

“Cancer-causing chemicals like benzene have no place in California’s water supply,” said Karuna Jaggar, executive director at Breast Cancer Action. “These chemicals harm the health of current and future generations. Gov. Brown needs to step up and halt fracking immediately.”

“Oil companies are fracking near homes and schools, and it’s time for Gov. Brown to end this terrible threat to public health,” said Juan Flores, a Delano-based organizer with the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “People in the Central Valley have suffered from fracking pollution for far too long. The governor needs to protect our air, our water, and our communities by halting fracking.”

“Gov. Brown has gone too far,” said Zack Malitz, campaign manager at CREDO. “It is unbelievable that Gov. Brown allowed the oil industry to break the law and inject poison into our aquifers. Gov. Brown will go down in history as the leader who poisoned Californians’ water in a giveaway to oil companies if he doesn’t stop fracking and all illegal injection wells immediately.”

In recent weeks, the magnitude of the emergency has become clearer. California state officials admitted that hundreds of disposal wells are illegally injecting oil industry waste water into scores of protected aquifers, including some with water clean enough for drinking and irrigation. That means California’s water is being contaminated in the midst of one of the worst droughts on record. The oil industry is also operating hundreds of illegal wastewater disposal pits that pose water- and air-pollution risks.

Fracking flowback fluid is a key part of the oil industry wastewater stream, and recent oil industry tests of this fracking flowback have found dangerously high levels of cancer-causing benzene and hexavalent chromium, in addition to other harmful chemicals. Average benzene levels were about 700 times the federal limit for drinking water.

Numerous scientific studies have linked fracking and other unconventional extraction methods to environmental damage and health problems, including cancer, birth defects, and other serious illnesses. The state of New York recently banned fracking after an exhaustive review by the state health department found that the method poses  unacceptable risks to the environment and human health.


Californians Against Fracking is a coalition of about 200 environmental business, health, agriculture, labor, political and environmental justice organizations working to win a statewide ban on fracking and other dangerous extraction techniques in California. Follow @CAagainstFrack on Twitter.

Source: www.biologicaldiversity.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:04:46 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/59484-legal-petition-urges-gov-brown-to-impose-emergency-fracking-moratorium-after-oil-waste-illegally-dumped-into-california-aquifers.html
USDA Records Reveal Staffing Shortages Undermining Food Safety http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59482-usda-records-reveal-staffing-shortages-undermining-food-safety.html

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  Today, the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch released an analysis of USDA records documenting the impact of long-standing vacancies in the ranks of USDA meat and poultry inspectors. This release comes just hours before officials from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) are due to discuss their budget request for FY2016 before the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee. These records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, document the number of inspection tasks that were not performed and the most common reasons why over a two-year period, revealing that for meat and poultry, inadequate staffing and turn around times were often to blame.

The documents show that half of the FSIS districts were running double-digit vacancy rates for permanent full time FSIS inspectors for most of FY 2014, and that the number of inspection procedures performed by FSIS inspectors has also declined over the past four years. According to the enforcement reports published by the agency, in FY 2010, 8,048,068 inspection verification procedures were performed. Yet in FY 2014 under the new Public Health Information System (PHIS), that had dropped to 6,795,731 inspection verification procedures – a 15.6 percent decrease. The number of non-compliance reports issued under PHIS decreased by 14 percent when comparing the same two time periods.

“Consumers are at risk thanks to the Obama’s administration’s decision to starve the FSIS inspection program, which has led to violations of the continuous inspection mandate,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “This data confirms what we and inspectors have been saying to the USDA for several years now – long-term inspector shortages are putting consumers at risk.”

The shortages of USDA inspection personnel are tied directly to a hiring restriction policy adopted in 2012 in anticipation of a controversial rule that would radically change the manner in which poultry is inspected. The hiring policy capped the number of permanent federal inspectors. Any vacancies that have developed were to have been filled with “temporary” inspectors who could be terminated when the new rule was finalized. The “temporary” inspector-hiring program has not achieved its goals and has left most parts of the country short of USDA inspectors. Under the new rule, the role of federal inspectors in poultry plants is reduced, turning those responsibilities over to the companies to police themselves. Moreover, problems with the controversial PHIS have further exacerbated the inability of inspectors to complete their assignments.

Today’s analysis follows multiple efforts by Food & Water Watch to alert USDA to this problem. Rather than addressing the shortages, agency leadership has tried to deny the existence of shortages or downplay their impact.

“USDA’s data tells the story—inspector shortages mean that some meat and poultry products are not being adequately inspected,” said Hauter.“It is time for Congress and USDA make sure that meat and poultry inspection get the necessary resources to provide continuous government inspection of meat and poultry products.”

Read the backgrounder here.

Chart 1: Frequency of “not performed” task codes listed in PHIS by establishment number, June 2012 through July 2014. Full list of not performed tasks available on request.

Chart 2:  The top thirty plants listed for select categories of “not performed” codes, June 2012 through July 2014.

Chart 3: Summary of FSIS tables on inspector shortages for FY 2014.  Full set of tables received from FSIS available on request.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.


Source: www.foodandwaterwatch.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:59:22 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59482-usda-records-reveal-staffing-shortages-undermining-food-safety.html
Arkansas Passes First Abortion Restriction of 2015 http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59481-arkansas-passes-first-abortion-restriction-of-2015.html More Than 100 Restrictions Introduced in Legislatures Across the Country

NEW YORK –(ENEWSPF)--February 26, 2015.  The governor of Arkansas has signed the first abortion restriction of 2015. The bill restricts medication abortions by preventing them via telemedicine, which allows doctors to provide care to patients remotely.

Evidence shows that medication abortion can be provided safely via telemedicine, which is expanding access to health care across the country. This law effectively bans that practice, cutting off a safe option that could expand abortion access for women.

“It’s crystal clear that these laws are motivated by a desire to keep a woman who has decided to have an abortion from getting one,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “We all want women to be safe, but these laws aren’t about improving care for women. They’re designed by politicians, not doctors, to cut off access to safe, legal abortion by any means necessary.”

In the previous regular session, Arkansas passed laws that banned abortions at 12 weeks and 20 weeks and blocked insurance coverage for abortion on the health care exchange. Legislators also attempted to ban abortions so early that many women do not even know they are pregnant.

Arkansas is only the first state expected to pass abortion restrictions this year. Politicians in state legislatures have already introduced more than 100 abortion restrictions in 2015. For example:

The West Virginia House has already passed a 20-week ban;

Several states have introduced Texas-style legislation specifically designed to force abortion clinics to close;

Several states have introduced legislation designed to prevent a woman from getting an abortion by cutting of insurance coverage;

Several states have introduced bills that would force a woman to delay getting an abortion after she has already made her decision;

States across the country, and the U.S. Congress, are advancing bills that would ban abortions outright.

Medical experts like the American College of Gynecologists oppose these types of bills because they have no medical basis and block access to care.

Source: www.aclu.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:55:56 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59481-arkansas-passes-first-abortion-restriction-of-2015.html
Jury Selection, Opening Statements Made in Rare Federal Medical Marijuana Trial of the Kettle Falls Five http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59472-jury-selection-opening-statements-made-in-rare-federal-medical-marijuana-trial-of-the-kettle-falls-five.html Three defendants now stand trial after dismissal of charges against cancer-stricken defendant, plea bargain by family friend

Spokane, WA –(ENEWSPF)—February 26, 2015. Trial began on Wednesday with jury selection and opening statements in a widely watched federal medical marijuana case against a family from eastern Washington State known as the Kettle Falls Five. Last week, amidst mounting pressure, the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed charges against defendant Larry Harvey, 71, who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

Earlier this week, defendant and Harvey family friend Jason Zucker accepted a plea deal, whereby he agreed to cooperate with the prosecution by testifying against his co-defendants in exchange for a single felony conviction and a recommended sentence of 16 months.

Three defendants are now being tried, including Larry Harvey's wife Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 56, her son Rolland Gregg, 33, and daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 36. Because marijuana is illegal under federal law, the government will prevent any evidence related to medical necessity or compliance with state law from being used by the defense.

The Harveys are retired and have a home in rural Washington State near the town of Kettle Falls. In August 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided the property and seized 44 premature marijuana plants, charging the five with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, manufacture and distribution of marijuana, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The government called its first witness on Wednesday, Sgt. Brad Menke of the Stevens County Sheriff's Department, who with the help of the DEA conducted the initial search of the Harvey property on August 9, 2012. Menke originally identified the garden from the air, citing his training at a "DEA-sponsored aerial marijuana-spotter school." At the time, however, law enforcement cut down only two-dozen plants -- leaving 44 still in the ground -- bringing the family into clear-cut compliance with their understanding of state law.

On a second visit, approximately one week later, the DEA cut down all of the plants and then federally indicted the Kettle Falls Five defendants. In a cynical prosecutorial move, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is claiming that the Kettle Falls Five grew marijuana in previous years in order to charge them with cultivating more than 100 plants, triggering a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. The government is also pursuing gun charges that carry an additional 5-year mandatory minimum despite the fact that the guns found on the Harveys' property were used for hunting and protection from wild animals. As a result, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Advocates say that the Obama Administration is pursuing this case unnecessarily and in defiance of a recent Congressional measure banning the DOJ from interfering in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Earlier this month, defendants filed motions to dismiss based on this Congressional measure, which was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice. The defendants have vowed to appeal after trial if convicted.

Trial will resume today in Room 902 of the Thomas S. Foley U.S. Courthouse, 920 West Riverside Avenue, Spokane, and will likely continue into early next week.

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers. Become a Member of ASA Today!

Source: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org


shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:26:14 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59472-jury-selection-opening-statements-made-in-rare-federal-medical-marijuana-trial-of-the-kettle-falls-five.html
FDA Approves New Antibacterial Drug Avycaz http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59470-fda-approves-new-antibacterial-drug-avycaz.html Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--February 25, 2015.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Avycaz (ceftazidime-avibactam), a new antibacterial drug product, to treat adults with complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI), in combination with metronidazole, and complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI), including kidney infections (pyelonephritis), who have limited or no alternative treatment options.  

Avycaz is a fixed-combination drug containing ceftazidime, a previously approved cephalosporin antibacterial drug, and avibactam, a new beta-lactamase inhibitor.

“The FDA is committed to making therapies available to treat patients with unmet medical need,” said Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H, director of the Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “It is important that the use of Avycaz be reserved to situations when there are limited or no alternative antibacterial drugs for treating a patient’s infection.”

Avycaz is the fifth approved antibacterial drug product designated as a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP). This designation is given to antibacterial products to treat serious or life-threatening infections under the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) title of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act.

As part of its QIDP designation, Avycaz was given priority review, which provides an expedited review of the drug’s application. The QIDP designation also qualifies Avycaz for an additional five years of marketing exclusivity to be added to the five-year exclusivity period provided by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  

The determination of efficacy of Avycaz was supported in part by the findings of the efficacy and safety of ceftazidime for the treatment of cIAI and cUTI. The contribution of avibactam to Avycaz was based on data from in vitro studies and animal models of infection. Avycaz was studied in two Phase 2 trials, one each in cIAI and cUTI. Both trials were not designed with any formal hypotheses for inferential testing against the active comparators.

The most common side effects include vomiting, nausea, constipation and anxiety. Health care professionals should inform patients of these risks and also advise that decreased efficacy, seizures and other neurologic events were seen in patients with poor kidney function (renal impairment). Serious skin reactions and anaphylaxis may occur in patients with penicillin allergies.

Avycaz is distributed by Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Forest Laboratories Inc. based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:11:48 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59470-fda-approves-new-antibacterial-drug-avycaz.html
Increased Certification of Medical Marijuana Businesses in Washington State Ensure Quality and Safety for Patients http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59467-increased-certification-of-medical-marijuana-businesses-in-washington-state-ensure-quality-and-safety-for-patients.html Patient Focused Certification Program Director Kristin Nevedal will speak Thursday to the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics

Seattle, WA –(ENEWSPF)—February 25, 2015. Two Washington State-based laboratories -- The Werc Shop and Phytalab -- have recently been certified under a nationwide program that verifies quality control standards, calibration, and evaluation processes for labs that test medical marijuana products. These certificates were awarded by the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, which also certifies the quality and reliability of products sold at licensed medical marijuana businesses.

The Werc Shop and Phytalab test medical and recreational marijuana products produced, manufactured, and sold throughout Washington State. PFC is a project of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the only nonprofit, third-party certification for the medical marijuana industry based on new quality standards issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).

This Thursday, PFC Program Director Kristin Nevedal will speak on the importance of certification to members of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics (CCSE), a Washington State-based nonprofit that seeks to perpetuate the highest levels of ethics, education, standards and quality throughout our industry. The CCSE recently endorsed the PFC program.

"The Patient Focused Certification program is not waiting around for Washington legislators to develop industry regulations," said Nevedal. "By encouraging the industry to adhere to important product safety and quality standards, we're paving the way for state officials and regulators once a policy is established." Last year, Dockside Co-op of Seattle became the first medical marijuana dispensary in Washington State to become certified under the PFC program.

The recent certifications come as the State legislature is debating a number of medical marijuana bills. Patient advocates are putting their weight behind House Bill 2058, co-sponsored by Representatives Luis Moscoso (D-Mountlake Terrace), Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla) and Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo). The legislation would reinstate the same language passed by the 2011 Legislature but vetoed by then-Governor Christine Gregoire, and is considered the most practical regulatory solution while ensuring continued access to safe and affordable medical marijuana.

With more than one million qualified medical marijuana patients in 23 states and the District of Columbia, a new industry has developed in order to meet the needs of this rapidly growing population. Many states and localities have created regulations to govern the location, size, taxation, and even the ownership and management of the businesses and organizations that serve patients, however PFC can now ensure adherence to the regulatory guidelines AHPA and AHP have established for the purity and identity of the products being sold and the methods for producing and distributing them.

In 2013, AHPA issued a series of recommendations for state regulators, providing standards for the medical marijuana industry in the areas of cultivation and processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, dispensary operations, and laboratory practices. More recently, AHP released a cannabis monograph that set standards for the methodologies used during laboratory testing and ensuring the plant's identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties.

ASA has been offering trainings to the medical marijuana industry for over a decade and holds a permit from the District of Columbia for mandatory industry trainings. PFC industry trainings are co-produced with the Cannabis Training Institute (CTI) and certify cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and laboratory technicians to ensure adherence to local and state regulations as well as AHPA and AHP standards. Such trainings are mandatory in some states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, and the District of Columbia, however the PFC program is now available to the medical cannabis industry in all 23 states and the District of Columbia. A total of 15 PFC certifications have been awarded in the District of Columbia and five states, including Arizona, California, Maine, New Mexico, and Washington.

Further information:

Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program: http://PatientFocusedCertification.org

AHPA Standards: http://safeaccess2.org/sites/patientfocusedcertification/standards-development/apha-guidelines

AHP Cannabis monograph (Abridged version): http://www.safeaccessnow.org/ahp_cannabis_monograph_preview

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers. Become a Member of ASA Today!

Source: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:04:52 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/59467-increased-certification-of-medical-marijuana-businesses-in-washington-state-ensure-quality-and-safety-for-patients.html
NRDC: After Veto, President Should Reject the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Once and For All http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59458-nrdc-after-veto-president-should-reject-the-keystone-xl-tar-sands-pipeline-once-and-for-all.html WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--February 24, 2015 – President Obama today vetoed, as promised, congressional legislation to force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The following is a statement from Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“This misguided Keystone XL bill, pushed by the fossil fuel industry, has met its just and expected doom. The president got it exactly right by vetoing it. Congress should stop wasting any more time pushing dirty energy projects that would worsen climate change and threaten our air, water and land. Instead, lawmakers should work to promote renewable wind and solar power, and reduce waste through energy efficiency measures that will save consumers money, improve the economy and combat dangerous climate change. And the president should move quickly to reject the proposed tar sands pipeline once and for all. It is simply not in the national interest.”

For more information, see this blog by Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of programs at NRDC: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sclefkowitz/keystone_xl_tar_sands_pipeline_11.html

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Source: www.nrdc.org

Related Article:

Veto Message from President Obama to the Senate Re: S. 1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Wed, 25 Feb 2015 02:50:34 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59458-nrdc-after-veto-president-should-reject-the-keystone-xl-tar-sands-pipeline-once-and-for-all.html
Sierra Club Statement: President Obama Vetoes Legislation Approving Keystone XL Pipeline http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59457-sierra-club-statement-president-obama-vetoes-legislation-approving-keystone-xl-pipeline.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--February 24, 2015.  Today, President Barack Obama vetoed legislation put forward by Congress that would usurp presidential authority and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement:

“President Obama said he’d veto this attack on his executive authority, and he kept his word. That’s what he said he’d do from the start, but Republicans in Congress continued to waste everyone’s time with a bill destined to go nowhere, just to satisfy the agenda of their big oil allies.

“President Obama has also made it clear he will reject the tar sands pipeline if it contributes significantly to the climate crisis. The president has all the evidence he needs to reject Keystone XL now, and we are confident that he will."

Source: www.sierraclub.org

Related Article:

Veto Message from President Obama to the Senate Re: S. 1, Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act

shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Wed, 25 Feb 2015 02:46:47 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/59457-sierra-club-statement-president-obama-vetoes-legislation-approving-keystone-xl-pipeline.html