In the USA...House Republicans Vote to Keep Millions in Poverty by Refusing to Raise the Minimum Wage
Mar. 18th, 2013
Most Americans understand that a business is some kind of enterprise involved in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers for a profit, and that there is a difference between a small business and a giant organization. Republicans though, conflate small businesses with giant corporate retailers and manufacturers because it plays into their narrative that government exists to either work to advance profits of giant corporations or terrorize small local businesses and drive them into bankruptcy. Republicans conveniently use businesses in their never-ending deregulation frenzy and perpetual tax cut crusade, but they are never protecting small businesses that complain their businesses are not hurt by over-taxation or crushing government regulations, but because consumers are not buying their goods and services. It is just one reason the President’s stimulus was so successful creating millions of jobs because it put people to work making good wages and when people earn more, they spend more, and businesses prosper.
In the furor and enthralling reporting on the CPAC2013 events, or the news that the Steubenville rapists were found guilty, there was little mention that on Friday, House Republicans unanimously voted against raising the federal minimum wage. Republicans effectively guaranteed that the working poor will continue falling deeper into poverty, and giant retailers will continue posting record profits. The Republicans justified voting against the minimum wage hike with the same tired reason they use to cut corporate taxes and kill regulations; “it will drive up unemployment by making it harder for small businesses to hire.” When President Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage during his State of the Union address, Speaker John Boehner immediately dismissed the idea and said “when you raise the price of employment, it makes it harder for small employers to hire people.” However, the worn-out Republican argument is not borne out by the facts, or testimony from small business owners, and Republicans know it because their definition of “small businesses” is giant retailers such as Walmart.
Protecting corporations like Walmart from paying slightly more than poverty level wages may help the Walton family’s profit margin, but it hurts the economy, the workers, and costs the American people tax dollars. Walmart employees earn such low wages they are encouraged by the retail giant to sign up for food stamps and Medicare or Medicaid because they know their employees will qualify for assistance even though they are employed. Americans have been subsidizing Walmart’s payroll and bottom line because they pay less-than-living wages and keep most employees on part-time status, while they post record profits. But as Walmart and other giant retailers profit from Republican protection, Americans are falling deeper into poverty that raising the minimum wage will hardly prevent.
As it is now, close to 30-million people earn the minimum wage at their jobs, and these hard-working Americans are locked in with same paycheck year after year, while the cost of living climbs steadily. A worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour earns $14,500 a year if they are fortunate enough to work full time. Not only are they at or below poverty, they are working harder and their productivity is at record levels and climbing. If the minimum wage kept pace with productivity since 1968, it should have reached $21.72 an hour in 2012 according to a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. President Obama called for the minimum to increase to $9.00 an hour, and Republicans immediately went into “protect small business” mode and said any raise will “make it harder for small businesses to hire people.” However, that is not true; most small businesses and many large businesses like Costco and Starbucks pay substantially more than the minimum wage, provide benefits, make record profits, expand their businesses, and still hire people.
Businesses will benefit from raising the minimum to $9.00 an hour because people who are not wealthy spend every last penny they earn on basic survival. As Americans earn more, they will spend more and the business community will prosper, but a full-time worker at poverty level wage contributes to Medicare and food stamp spending that Republicans are frantic to slash. Minimum wage workers need food and healthcare assistance because at the current minimum, working 40-hours per week cannot afford rent for an apartment in any state in the nation. In some states, a worker would need to put in at least 63 hours a week just to afford rent, and up to 130 hours in several others. It means Republicans not only want Americans to barely afford a roof over their head, they are determined to keep them either starving and sick, or dependent on food stamps and Medicaid; the GOP’s favorite targets for Draconian cuts.
Admittedly, even a paltry increase to $9.00 an hour will help every minimum wage worker and put more money into the economy that in turn helps businesses hire new employees, but while corporate profits soar and the stock market breaks new records almost daily, the working poor continue to fall farther behind and slip deeper into poverty. All the while, Republicans beholden to big business and corporate profits deliberately keep tens-of-millions of Americans in poverty level jobs and look for new ways to take away the food and healthcare assistance that American taxpayers provide as payroll subsidies to corporate giants like Walmart. Republicans are crushing real small businesses they claim to protect by keeping a major portion of the workforce too poor to buy goods and services, and that is the only reason a small business is unable to hire new workers and reduce unemployment. Republicans could not care less about small businesses any more than they do minimum wage workers, but they do care about and protect corporate giants like Walmart’s profit margin regardless it increases poverty. The depth of Republicans’ malice is they are deliberately increasing the number of people dependent on food stamps and Medicaid they claim are unsustainable entitlements that they appear to be increasing to bolster their argument they must be drastically cut making them evil personified.
The Christian Science Monitor - First-ever cyberattack on US election points to broad vulnerabilities
By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / March 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm EDT
Over a 2-1/2 week period last July, more than 2,500 online “phantom requests” for absentee ballots were made to Miami-Dade County election headquarters, marking the first known cyberattack on a US election.
The fake requests for ballots targeted the Aug. 14 statewide primary and included requests for Democratic ballots in one congressional district and Republican ballots in two state House districts, according to a recent Miami Herald report.
The fake requests were done so clumsily that they were red-flagged and did not foul up the election. In any case, they would not have been enough to change the outcome. But now confirmed as the first cyberattack aimed at election fraud, the incident is further evidence that the vote-counting process is vulnerable, particularly as elections become more reliant on the Internet.
“This is significant because it’s the first time we’ve seen a very well documented case of attempted computer election fraud in the US,” says J. Alex Halderman, a cybersecurity researcher at the University of Michigan who focuses on election-system vulnerabilities. “This should be a real wakeup call because it illustrates the sort of computer voting attacks that many scientists have been warning were possible for years.”
Florida officials “were lucky” that the attacks were so clumsy, he says. The requests poured into the voter headquarters in clumps, much faster than normal, and in many cases the clumps arrived from the same handful of computer IP addresses. At this point, it is unknown what the attackers wanted to achieve.
But if they had been only slightly more sophisticated – distributing the requests across a larger number of IP address, for instance – the attack would have been much harder to detect.
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“We’ve seen very sophisticated attacks against US corporations,” Dr. Halderman says. “If that level of sophisticated attack were directed against these election systems it could have been disastrous.”
Halderman knows. In three afternoons and without breaking any tamper-proof seals or leaving any traces, he and a colleague at Princeton hacked into a kind of paperless touch-screen voting machine used by almost 9 million voters in the 2008 presidential election. Just to show how much damage they could do, they installed Pac-Man in place of the voter software.
In 2006, he and Princeton researchers proved that, with just a few minutes access to a touch-screen voting machine, they could install a practically undetectable software virus that could spread to other machines and switch those machines' votes at election time before finally deleting all traces of itself.
Rapid advances in cyberweapons and malicious software put electronic-voting machines used in the 2012 election at risk and could have tipped the presidential election in some states, cybersecurity experts warned prior to the vote.
“This Florida case is not significant because thousands of votes were lost or changed, it’s significant because it demonstrates the feasibility of the pathway to attack the vote – and because there is online access to other pieces of the voting process,” says Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonprofit group focused on ensuring US election integrity.
Some Florida officials say the attack also illustrates a need to take such violations more seriously. Law-enforcement officials had dropped their investigation until news media picked up on a Miami-Dade County grand jury investigation into the attack in December.
The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office reported it was unable to identify the hacker because the actions were masked by foreign IP addresses, the Miami Herald reported. But at least some of the IP addresses originated in Miami and could have been further traced, the paper found.
“In this case it seems more of an attack on the voting process,” says Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections in Leon County, Fla., who has studied cybersecurity in detail for systems he oversees. “Most Americans are unaware of the overall insecurity of the Internet and blind to the hacking threat to US elections systems. What we desperately need are law-enforcement authorities that will really take these kinds of attack seriously and really go after them.”
************Business lobby moves to criminalize filming animal abuse on factory farms
By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, March 18, 2013 11:18 EDT
Bills being shopped in six states by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would make it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms or lie on job applications, in hopes of shutting down animal rights activists who infiltrate slaughterhouses to expose ghastly conditions.
“The meat industry’s response to these exposes has not been to try to prevent these abuses from taking place, but rather it’s really just been to prevent Americans from finding out about those abuses in the first place,” Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), told Raw Story. “What they’re doing is trying to pass laws throughout the country that don’t just shoot the messenger, they seek to imprison the messenger.”
The proposals mandate that evidence of animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours, or face a financial penalty. Several of the bills bills also make it a crime to lie on slaughterhouse job applications, which activists commonly do in order to get footage like the content of a video published by the HSUS, embedded below.
Those bills appear to be spreading with the help of ALEC, a conservative business advocacy group that encourages lawmakers to “exchange” legislative ideas from state to state. The group came under serious scrutiny after the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin sparked a national controversy over so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws that ALEC facilitated in 18 states, enabling the use of deadly force if a person claims they felt their life was in danger. Lawmakers in a further 25 states adopted a spin-off of “Stand Your Ground” laws called “Castle doctrine” laws, which allow the use of deadly force against suspected home invaders.
The bills to block animal rights activists are in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press. Three other states — New Mexico, Wyoming and New Hampshire — have already rejected similar bills this year, and HSUS told Raw Story that three more — Minnesota, Vermont and North Carolina — are yet expected to take them up.
Several states already have laws similar to what ALEC is pushing, and virtually all of them were triggered in response to shocking videos produced by animal rights activists, who some critics have taken to calling propagandists.
In one such recent case, undercover video from an Iowa factory farm produced by a group called Mercy for Animals caused the Iowa legislature to support a so-called “Ag-Gag” law that makes it a crime to lie in order to infiltrate a farm’s staff. That act is now a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,500. Lawmakers in Utah passed a similar law in 2012 that bans unauthorized photography in farms. Missouri also has an older law that accomplishes effectively the same thing.
“This, I think, this a good example of just how much this industry has to hide,” Shapiro said. “You know you’ve got a lot to hide when you want to make it a crime merely to take a photo of what you are doing.”
“At the end of the day it’s about personal property rights or the individual right to privacy,” ALEC spokesman Bill Meierling told the AP. “You wouldn’t want me coming into your home with a hidden camera.”
An ALEC spokesperson did not respond to Raw Story’s request for comment.
This video is from the Humane Society of the U.S., published May 21, 2012. It contains graphic content. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoHqY_3RhAk&feature=player_embedded&list=PL43796356A6DFD781
************NYPD faces class-action lawsuit over controversial stop-and-frisk policy
By Ryan Devereaux, The Guardian
Monday, March 18, 2013 21:14 EDT
A landmark trial challenging the New York police department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy began in a lower Manhattan court on Monday.
The class action suit accuses the NYPD of violating the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers on a widespread and systemic basis.
New York city police officers stopped 685,724 citizens in 2011, continuing an upward trend that began when Michael Bloomberg became mayor. Nearly nine out of 10 of those stopped in 2011 had committed no crime. The vast majority were black or Latino, though figures released in August revealed police stops had dropped by more than 34% compared to the year before.
In opening statements Monday, attorney Darius Charney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the organizations bringing the suit, argued the case is about more than numbers. “It’s about people,” Charney told a packed courtroom at the southern district courthouse.
The stop-and-frisk program has been a signature feature of NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly’s career. With vocal support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Kelly has argued that the practice saves lives – particularly those of young men of color who are disproportionately the targets of violent crime – and removes guns from the streets.
But critics say stop-and-frisk has resulted in racial profiling, which humiliates innocent people and degrades the relationship between communities of color and the police department. In arguments Monday morning, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the suit pointed out that recent figures show guns are recovered in just 0.15% of stops.
In 2012, with a mayoral election fast approaching, stop-and-frisk had emerged as a hot political issue. Addressing the court Monday, city attorney Heidi Grossman urged Judge Shira Scheindlin not to be swayed by “media advocates” and focus on evidence, arguing” the vast majority of stops are legal.”
Floyd is the broadest of three stop-and-frisk class action suits Scheindlin is currently presiding over. The suit is seen by many opponents of the practice as historic opportunity to effect change. Over the last year Scheindlin has batted down numerous attempts by the city to have the suit thrown out.
“No case is more critical for the future of our city than this one,” CCR said in a statement distributed to attendees of the trial. “At stake are the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who have been illegally stopped by the NYPD – and the rights of untold numbers of New Yorkers who may be stopped in the future. The NYPD makes more than half a million stops a year, which equate to literally thousands of stops a day.”
Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue the department routinely violates the fourth and 14th amendments of the constitution by allegedly stopping people without cause and targeting African American and Latino communities.
As many as 100 witnesses are expected testify in the case, including numerous NYPD whistleblowers, the department’s spokesman, Paul Browne, and the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Joesph Esposito.
Monday’s proceedings offered a glimpse the arguments to come. Attorneys for the plaintiffs laid out their plan to illustrate a “wide gap” between what NYPD numbers say on paper and what they translate into in practice. They seek to prove that rights violations stemming from stops are the result of the department’s hierarchical structure. “The problem starts at the top and ends with the stop,” Charney said.
Attorneys for the defendants – who include Kelly, Bloomberg, the department itself and several named and unnamed officers – plan to attack the plaintiffs’ expert witness, Columbia professor Jeffrey Fagan, who has analyzed millions of copies of NYPD stop forms, known as UF250s–and determined that race better predicts whether an individual will be stopped than crime.
“The form alone simply does not tell the whole story,” Grossman said Monday. “The department explicitly prohibits racial profiling,” she added. Communities of color “demand and deserve” the department’s protection, she said.
Plaintiffs in the case are seeking injunctive relief in the suit, rather than damages. Remedies discussed Monday included comprehensive reform of officer training and the establishment of a court-appointed monitor to oversee departmental practices.
Sitting in the back of the courtroom Monday was the Rev Jesse Jackson, who indicated he was not impressed the NYPD’s defense so far. “They were not denying. They were justifying,” Jackson said.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013
***********Supreme Court hears arguments on Arizona voter law that requires proof of citizenship
By Karen McVeigh, The Guardian
Monday, March 18, 2013 15:42 EDT
Case focused on whether voter-approved law which requires voters to prove they are US citizens, violates federal law
The Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments on Monday in a case which will decide whether US states can require voters to submit proof of citizenship to cast a ballot.
The case focuses on whether a voter-approved Arizona law known as Proposition 200, which requires voters to prove they are US citizens, violates federal law. Four other states, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee, have similar laws while 12 other states are contemplating such legislation, officials told the Associated Press.
The measure, amended state laws to require voters to show proof of citizenship to register as well as ID at the polls.
Defenders of the law, enacted in 2004 with 55% of the vote, say it is necessary to prevent people from fraudulently impersonating registered voters at the election booth.
Arizona, which borders Mexico, has passed some of the most restrictive immigration legislation in the nation. In a landmark case last year, the Supreme Court upheld its provisions on immigration status checks by police but struck down a number of state measures, including one that would ban illegal immigrants soliciting work in public places.
Opponents of Propostion 200, including the Obama administration, say that obtaining documents for proof is an undue burden which could disenfranchise sectors of the community, the poor minorities and the elderly. If Arizona can add citizenship requirements, then “each state could impose all manner of its own supplemental requirements beyond the federal form,” solicitor general Donald Verrilli said in court papers.
“Those requirements could encompass voluminous documentary or informational demands, and could extend to any eligibility criteria beyond citizenship, such as age, residency, mental competence, or felony history.”
A brief by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund says it has had a chilling effect on voter registration in Arizona. “Following enactment of Proposition 200, over 31,000 individuals were rejected for voter registration in Arizona,” it said The group found that, of the 31,000 individuals rejected, the proportion of Democrats and Republicans were equal, half were under 30 and of those who indicated a race, half said they were white.
“Less than one-third of the rejected registrants subsequently successfully registered to vote,” it said.
Legal experts have said that the outcome could have a profound effect on the ability of the federal government to impose rules on states running congressional elections.
Under a federal law designed to expand voter registration, the Voter Registration Act (NVRA), applicants can mail in a signed form to attest they are US citizens but do not to have to provide proof.
A federal appeals court threw out the part of Arizona’s Proposition 200 that added extra citizenship requirements for voter registration, saying it interfered with federal law.
Arizona now wants the Supreme Court to reinstate the provision, arguing that the law is permissible under the NVRA.
Kathy McKee, who led the campaign to get Proposition 200 on the ballot, said voter fraud, including by illegal immigrants, continues to be a problem in Arizona. “For people to conclude there is no problem is just shallow logic,” McKee said.
However, in September last year, AP reported that officials in key election states where illegal voters were suspected, reported a small fraction of such fraud.
In Colorado, election officials found 141 non-citizens on the voter rolls, 0.004% of the state’s nearly 3.5 million voters. Florida officials found 207, or 0.001% of the state’s 11.4 million registered voters. In North Carolina, 79 people admitted to election officials that they weren’t citizens and were removed from the rolls, along with 331 others who did not respond to repeated inquiries, saying that the measures will cripple the effectiveness of community voter registration drives. More than 28 million people used the federal “Motor Voter” forms in the 2008 election, according to the US Election Assistance Commission.
Opponents of the law say it will have a crippling effect on community voter registration drives.
Proposition 200 “was never intended to combat voter fraud,” state Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix told AP. “It was intended to keep minorities from voting.”
Arizona attorney General Thomas Horne said in court papers “What [opponents] are urging is that there should be nothing more than an honor system to assure that registered voters are citizens. That was not acceptable to the people of Arizona.”
It is the second time in a month the Supreme Court will be arguing voters rights. Last month, some justices expressed scepticism over whether the landmark law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, aimed at preventing voting discrimination, was still needed.
© 2013 Guardian News and Media
**********Amanpour on Iraq: Where were the journalists?
By David Ferguson
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 8:48 EDT
On Monday, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked how so many journalists could have been misled in the run-up to the Iraq War. She interviewed two reporters for Knight-Ridder newspapers, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, both of whom have been vindicated as being consistently right on Iraq.
Amanpour began by recapping some of the George W. Bush administration’s hallmark assertions regarding Saddam Hussein’s purported programs to make nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and highlighting the debunked claims that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for enriching uranium.
“So how could so any false assertions have been taken as fact?” she asked. “After the war, some of America’s leading newspapers were forced to apologize for getting it wrong.”
She then welcomed Strobel and Landay to the program.
Landay talked about the difficulty of getting stories published that ran contrary to the narrative being established by Washington. Editors would demand to know why these stories weren’t also running in the New York Times or the Washington Post.
“It was very lonely,” he said. “One of the ironies is that every time we would write something, the White House would say nothing, because we realized after a while that that would have been the best advertisement for our stories that we could possibly ask for.”
“There’s a problem with journalism in Washington,” said Strobel, “and that’s access. The New York Times and others had access to top officials who were spinning this line. We talked to those people as well, but most of our reporting was done with intelligence — military and diplomatic — mid-level and lower-level, the types that journalists don’t normally talk to or go after.”
Watch the clip, embedded below via CNN:http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/19/amanpour-on-iraq-where-were-the-journalists/
March 18, 2013A Pattern of Problems at a Hospital for Veterans
By JAMES DAO
WASHINGTON — In an unusually strong letter sent to the White House on Monday, the office that handles complaints from federal whistle-blowers says it has found a pattern of problems at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Jackson, Miss., that raises serious questions about the hospital’s management practices.
The problems over the last six years include poor sterilization procedures, chronic understaffing of the primary care unit and missed diagnoses by the radiology department.
Though some of the problems seem to have been addressed, the large number of whistle-blower complaints from one hospital — five in this case, from separate people in different departments — raise a “troubling pattern of disclosure,” the letter from the Office of Special Counsel said.
“Collectively, these disclosures raise questions about the ability of this facility to care for the veterans it services,” wrote Carolyn N. Lerner, the special counsel.
Some of the most serious problems are raised by a retired doctor who worked at the medical center for 30 years. He accuses the hospital of failing to notify patients whose X-rays and CT scans may not have been properly read by a radiologist.
That radiologist, who has left the hospital, was accused by colleagues in a lawsuit of missing diagnoses because he read images too fast or not at all.
“No efforts appear to have been made by the agency at any level to conduct a large-scale disclosure to the patients who were potentially affected by the radiologist’s malfeasance,” the special counsel says in a document provided to The New York Times. “It appears that the agency is also in violation of its own policy to ensure appropriate care.”
In a statement, the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington said that it was reviewing the letter and had opened investigations into the new whistle-blower complaints.
“G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery V.A. Medical Center takes seriously its commitment to providing quality care to our veterans,” the statement said, referring to the Jackson hospital. “It is our goal to ensure veterans receive quality health care and we will continue efforts to improve our processes and services.”
The Office of Special Counsel is authorized to receive complaints from executive branch employees about violations of law, mismanagement, misuse of funds or abuse of authority. Although it does not have investigative powers, it conducts in-depth interviews with whistle-blowers to determine whether their complaints meet a standard of “substantial likelihood.”
When that standard is met, the counsel refers the case to the relevant agency, which then must conduct an investigation. Fewer than one in 10 complaints lead to such referrals, the counsel’s office said.
The Jackson hospital, named after a Mississippi congressman who championed veterans issues, had been considered one of the better medical centers in the department’s sprawling system of 150 hospitals.
But it has been troubled by recent investigations and a high level of turnover. Last year, the associate director for patient care services, Dorothy White-Taylor, was arrested on a charge of fraudulently obtaining the painkiller hydrocodone. Her case is still pending.
A few months later, the hospital’s longtime chief of staff stepped down, and the Drug Enforcement Administration opened an investigation into whether nurse practitioners at the hospital were prescribing narcotics without proper licenses or adequate oversight by doctors.
The first of the whistle-blowers came to the Office of Special Counsel in 2009 accusing the hospital’s sterilization department of having “routinely failed to properly clean and sterilize” equipment, including scalpels and bone cutters, documents show.
The veterans department’s own investigation confirmed some of the accusations, including that the sterilization unit had sent instruments to the podiatry clinic that were “blood- and rust-stained and contained dirt and particles,” according to special counsel.
Then in 2011, another former employee asserted that she had regularly observed workers in the sterile processing department not wearing required protective equipment like face masks and disposable gloves. That whistle-blower, Gloria Kelley, also said that employees in the unit did not receive adequate training. The Department of Veterans Affairs was unable to substantiate many of Ms. Kelley’s accusations and the case has now been closed, Ms. Lerner said in her letter on Monday.
But Ms. Lerner sharply criticized the department’s response, saying investigators never interviewed Ms. Kelley. “It does not appear that the agency has taken significant steps in improving the quality of management, staff training, or work product” within the sterilization department since the first accusations in 2009, Ms. Lerner wrote.
It is not clear whether anyone was sickened by faulty procedures in the sterilization unit.
The two most recent whistle-blowers raise potentially more serious issues. One, a doctor in the primary care unit, told the special counsel last year that nurse practitioners in her department were prescribing medications to patients even though the nurses did not have adequate licensing or oversight. The doctor, Phyllis Hollenbeck, also asserted that she and other doctors were pressured by superiors to sign prescriptions even if they had not seen the patients. Dr. Hollenbeck said she refused.
Dr. Hollenbeck also asserted that because of a lack of physicians in the primary care unit, nurse practitioners, including some who may not have had proper certification, cared for patients with little or no oversight.
The final whistle-blower, a retired ophthalmologist who was active in the physician’s union at the medical center, told the special counsel that a former radiologist at the hospital “regularly marked patients’ radiology images as ‘read’ when, in fact, he failed to properly review the images and at times failed to review them at all,” the special counsel’s letter to the White House says. In some cases, fatal diseases were not diagnosed, the letter says.
The accusations stem from a lawsuit in which female radiologists at the medical center claimed that the radiologist handled a large number of cases to increase his compensation, which was determined in part by productivity.
Although the radiologist denied wrongdoing, a jury found in the women’s favor and awarded them unspecified damages in 2010. The doctor in question has since left the medical center.
But while changes in the radiology department have led to improved practices, the whistle-blower, Dr. Charles Sherwood, asserts that the medical center was obligated to notify all patients whose X-rays and CT scans might have been improperly reviewed to determine whether any problems were missed.
The department says it is now reviewing Dr. Sherwood and Dr. Hollenbeck’s complaints.
It is unusual for the special counsel to publicly discuss accusations that have not been fully investigated by a federal agency. But the office made an exception in the case of Dr. Sherwood and Dr. Hollenbeck because their complaints seemed particularly serious and suggested systemic problems at the hospital, the special counsel’s office said.