Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Shots of 2014

Just be careful on the roads tonight:

"Man tries to run down police; they shoot, kill him" AP  December 31, 2014

UPPER DARBY, Pa. — A man who had posted an online video threatening to kill police and FBI agents tried to use his car to run down officers seeking to arrest him on Tuesday, so, fearing for their lives, they shot and killed him, authorities said.

This smells like another psyop hoax!

Police did not immediately identify the man, who was killed in Upper Darby as officers ordered him out of the car and as he appeared ready to accelerate at them at a blockade.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the officers feared that the man would kill them, and that they ‘‘did what they had to do.’’ He said that five officers fired at the man, and that no officers were injured.

Chitwood said police had secured an arrest warrant for the man after he threatened to kill police and FBI agents in the online video. The man’s death came about 10 days after a man who made similar threats shot two New York police officers dead in their patrol car and then killed himself in a subway station.

A life is given even as it is taken away, and this definitely stinks.

Police said they began following the man after he left a home in nearby Clifton Heights. They said that when officers stopped him at an intersection and ordered him out of the car, he reversed and slammed into a police vehicle, then prepared to run over other officers.

This account lacks credulity!

Officers opened fire, killing the man, Chitwood said. The man did not fire at police, and Chitwood said he did not know if the man had a weapon.

WTF? 

They shot him, but if you fear for your life it's murder.

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"Number of police killed by guns up 56% in 2014; 50 shot dead; figure had dipped dramatically in 2013" by Amanda Lee Myers, Associated Press  December 31, 2014

Yeah, the cops are taking a real beating these days.

WASHINGTON — But gun-related police deaths still remain far below historic highs and lower than the average annual figures in the past decade, according to the annual report by the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released Tuesday.

I'm tired of the up-is-down, down-is-up, mixed messages.

This year’s uptick comes amid increased tension between police and the public following the high-profile deaths of unarmed black men by white police officers.

“There has been a very prevalent antigovernment sentiment in this country for some time now, and I do believe that antigovernment sentiment can influence weak-minded individuals to commit violent acts against law-enforcement officers,” said Craig Floyd, chairman and chief executive of the memorial fund. “That’s at least part of the reason we’re seeing this increase in ambush-style attacks, officers being targeted simply because they’re cops in uniform,” Floyd said.

You protesters might as well all have pulled the triggers. 

The speed of this spin is astounding.

Floyd also pointed to the fatal shooting of two Las Vegas police officers ambushed in June as they were eating lunch in a pizza shop, and a Pennsylvania state trooper killed in an ambush in September by a survivalist who then led police on a 48-day manhunt....

That would be the Frein fakery! 

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"Seven Roxbury teens face charges in assault on officers; Accused teens dispute account" by Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff  December 30, 2014

A chaotic skirmish in a Dorchester stairwell that sent two police officers to the hospital and led seven teenagers to be arrested for allegedly assaulting them underscores the danger and volatility of police work, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said Tuesday.

I'm starting to believe everything I see in my paper is nothing more than staged and scripted, agenda-pushing slop.

Defense attorneys for the oldest teens — Woobenson Morisset, 19, and his 18-year-old brother Lorcen — painted a vastly different picture of what happened on Monday in that stairwell.

Entering not guilty pleas for the two brothers in Roxbury Municipal Court, defense lawyers said police pushed Woobenson Morisset while trying to arrest him on a default warrant, an officer fell or tripped in the process, and chaos ensued as relatives moved in to aid Woobenson or record the scene in the cramped stairway.

“I certainly don’t wish any officer to ever be harmed in any way, shape, or form, but I believe it’s possible that this version” — the one told by the Morissets — “is entirely correct,” June Jensen, Woobenson Morisset’s defense attorney, said in court. Video on cellphones confiscated by police could clear up what happened, she said.

  I wonder when we will get to see them, if ever. I'll bet the evidence somehow gets destroyed.

************

In Roxbury, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Dana Pierce said officers visited the Morisset apartment on Wayne Street late Monday morning to arrest Woobenson. He was wearing a GPS monitor because of three open cases in Dorchester Municipal Court; the GPS device signaled a “strap violation” on Dec. 22, suggesting he may have tampered with it and triggering default warrants in those cases, Pierce said.

Two officers found him in a rear stairwell, where a “violent struggle ensued” when they tried to arrest him, Pierce said. One officer got elbowed in the neck, suffering vocal cord contusions and hemorrhaging, and the other, a woman, took a punch in the face, the prosecutor said, without specifying who delivered the blows.

In the process, police lost control of Woobenson Morisset and “from there on it was essentially a melee in a very narrow stairwell,” Pierce said. The seven teens, acting as a group, punched, kicked, and choked police, resulting in bumps and bruises to both officers and hand, head, and hip injuries to the female officer, she said.

If true, shoe doesn't feel very good on the other foot, does it?

Jensen disputed that account. She said Woobenson Morisset, a 5-foot-3, 125-pound Haitian immigrant with cognitive disabilities, did not tamper with his GPS device and did not receive a call from authorities about any violation, she said. So when police arrived to arrest him, he was surprised but complied, she said.

Were the officers white? Is he an illegal?

“He turned around, and they went to put the handcuffs on him and pushed him on the stairwell. He fell on the stairwell and his face cracked open,” requiring three stitches, Jensen said. “At that point one of the officers fell down, and the whole thing kind of got crazy.”

She said Woobenson Morisset did not hit anyone but reached out to give his phone to his brother, apparently to record what was happening. Meanwhile, the 17-year-old neighbor tried to record with his own phone because he thought the police were being rough, Jensen said.

As more officers filled the stairway, they confiscated the phones and arrested everyone — the three males, plus the Morissets’ two sisters and two cousins — on and around the chaotic scene, Jensen said.

That is ILLEGAL!

Jensen and Frank Mickelson, Lorcen Morisset’s lawyer, said none of the teens besides Woobenson had been arrested before. Jensen said the charges in Woobenson’s three open cases — assault and battery with a knife, breaking and entering and assault and battery on a police officer, and attempting to commit a crime — could be explained by his limited cognitive ability, as he was led astray by another teen.

The prosecutor said Woobenson’s record was alarming and asked Judge Ernest L. Sarason Jr. to set bail in this case at $2,500 and to revoke it on the Dorchester cases, which would have sent him back to jail. Sarason instead set bail at $500 and gave Woobenson until Friday to answer the Dorchester warrants. He released Lorcen Morisset on personal recognizance but imposed nighttime curfews and GPS monitoring for both brothers....

The police commissioner, who visited the briefly hospitalized officers, said the female officer was “badly roughed up,” and the male officer had been fitted with a neck brace while waiting for the results of an examination. “They’re pretty banged up. They’re [going to] be out of work for some time,” Evans said. “It stresses the dangers of our job, every day, going into situations that we never know what may happen. I’m just thankful they’re fine.”

Getting a lot of that lately.

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At least it wasn't a stairway to heaven.

"Homicides rise in Boston, other crime down in 2014; Nonfatal shootings, robberies decline" by Evan Allen and Travis Andersen, Globe Staff  December 31, 2014

After four years of decline, the number of homicides in Boston spiked this year by 27 percent, even as shootings and violent crime citywide dropped.

Whatever you say, Globe.

As of Sunday, 52 people had been killed in the city, compared with 41 by the same date last year, according to police statistics. Most of the homicides were in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.

The “numbers are great,” but....

Fatal and nonfatal shootings throughout the city this year dropped from 250 to 213, a decrease of nearly 15 percent. Violent crime, including homicide, rape and attempted rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, dropped by 6 percent, and property crime, including burglary, larceny, and auto theft, dropped by 4 percent.

Since 2000, the homicide total in Boston has dipped as low as 39 in some years and topped 70 in several others, according to FBI statistics provided by James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern who studies crime trends. The number has declined slightly each year since 2010, when 73 murders were recorded.

Crime overall has been dropping for years, Fox said, and mirrors the slowing rate of crime nationally.

In Boston, according to Fox’s database of FBI statistics using comparable population figures, the rate of rape has gone down by approximately 30 percent since 2006; the robbery rate has dropped by 46 percent; aggravated assault by 48 percent; burglary by 44 percent; larceny by 34 percent; and motor vehicle theft by 66 percent.

The reasons for the drop, he said, are many: cameras are everywhere, police use real-time statistics and gunfire detection technology like ShotSpotter instead of hunches to guide law-enforcement strategy, the population is aging, and many criminals are already in prison due to America’s incarceration policies. Emergency room medicine has advanced, saving gunshot victims from becoming homicide statistics. Also, he said, there was a crime surge in the 1980s and ’90s linked in part to crack cocaine and gangs, and so a portion of the current decline is a reversal of a bad trend.

The new epidemic is heroin, but that must come crime free.

“We are a much safer city than we have been for many, many years,” said Fox. “That’s true in many other places, too. We’re not unique.”

In other major cities, including Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, homicide totals also dropped or held steady, according to local police statistics.

As of Dec. 21, Chicago had seen 392 murders, compared with 408 on the same date last year. New York City had 321 murders as of Sunday, compared with 334 at the same point last year. Homicides in Los Angeles rose slightly, from 250 as of Dec. 27, 2013, to 254 on the same date this year.

Sexual assaults rose in Chicago this year while robberies dropped. Rapes and robberies rose in Los Angeles while the number of shooting victims dropped. In New York City, grand larceny auto rose this year, while rapes, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries, and grand larcenies all dropped.

In Boston, the year began with a surge of killings, many gang related. In January, nine people were killed; in February, a 9-year-old boy was accidentally shot to death by his 14-year-old brother.

See: The Mattapan Mistake 

Stay away from the playground.

After those tragedies, said Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, the city made gun violence its focus, launching a gun-buyback program and cracking down hard on illegal firearms. At recent count, the Boston force had taken 1,053 guns off the streets through the buyback and police work, he said, compared with 667 for all of 2013.

The department has also focused on policing hot spots, putting extra patrol and bicycle officers in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. Police held sports and academy programs for young people, and began scheduling regular coffees with police in the neighborhoods. Mayor Martin J. Walsh said his administration also worked to place young people believed to be involved in violence into job programs.

The number of police involved shootings this year, and the number of officers injured on the job by suspects, were not available Tuesday. In April, police officers fatally shot a man who allegedly charged at them with knives as they responded to a domestic violence call in the South End.

That's sad.

Clergy and community leaders said that while this year’s rise in homicides was disheartening, the overall picture painted by the statistics was positive.

“One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that the homicide rate can go up and down, but the more important number is shots fired and shooting rate,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, associate pastor at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. “When you have a lot of people shooting, and shooting at people, whether they’re missing or not, it contributes to the violence in the community.” 

Who could ever have faith in these controlled opposition pukes?

Emmett Folgert, executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, said nonfatal shootings are, in his experience, one of the best predictors of future violence, because the wounded person often seeks revenge.

“If fewer people are shot, then in the future we can expect less retaliatory shooting,” he said.

Still, 52 families lost a loved one this year, some noted.

“I’m feeling a lot of grief for the city over some of these recent homicides,” said Mark V. Scott, associate pastor at the Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester, who performed the funeral for 20-year-old William Davis after he was shot to death on Dec. 17 on Dudley Street.

The young man’s sister lamented that her brother would not be there for his birthday, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, and Scott said she did not know what to do with her grief. He praised police but said each death is a tragedy.

“In some ways,” he said, “the numbers don’t tell the story for William Davis.”

Because each one is a unique individual life entity.

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RelatedMayor, police ask Boston protesters for restraint at First Night

Go out in that freezing cold? 

Forget it!

Also see:

The lighting was tested Tuesday on the New Year’s Eve ball to be dropped in the Times Square celebration in New York City. The tradition has inspired drops of an opossum, a cowboy boot, and a pine cone across the country. (EPA/JUSTIN LANE)
The lighting was tested Tuesday on the New Year’s Eve ball to be dropped in the Times Square celebration in New York City. The tradition has inspired drops of an opossum, a cowboy boot, and a pine cone across the country (EPA/JUSTIN LANE). 

Maybe this will be my last post. 

Is there a false flag terror attack due for Times Square tonight? 

Sure seems to be if that mind-manipulating, couldn't wait another second, emotional trigger of a photo is an indicator.

Who designed that anyway? 

"Her parents work long hours to make ends meet in the household. Her mother, Shu Chen, is a housekeeper, and her father works odd jobs. Neither has a college degree, and Zhao said she knows how much they sacrifice so she can have a better life."

Hell, we got babies shooting mothers out there:

"2-year-old accidentally kills his mom in Walmart" by Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press  December 31, 2014

HAYDEN, Idaho — A 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his mother after he reached into her purse at a northern Idaho Walmart and her concealed gun fired, authorities said Tuesday.

The 29-year-old woman was shopping with her son and three other children, Kootenai County sheriff’s spokesman Stu Miller said.

Her family had come to the area to visit relatives, he said.

The woman, whose identity was not released to the news media, had a concealed weapons permit.

Yup, going to have to get rid of those. Only murderous authority shall have guns, and lots of them.

Miller said the young boy, who was left in a shopping cart, reached into the victim’s purse and grabbed a small-caliber handgun, which discharged one time.

‘‘It appears to be a pretty tragic accident,’’ Miller said.

The woman’s husband was not in the store when the shooting happened at about 10:20 a.m. Miller said the man arrived shortly after the shooting. All the children were taken to a relative’s house.

The shooting occurred in the Walmart in Hayden, a town about 40 miles northeast of Spokane, Wash.

The store closed and was not expected to reopen until Wednesday morning.

Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said in a statement the shooting was a ‘‘very sad and tragic accident.’’

‘‘We are working closely with the local sheriff’s department while they investigate what happened,’’ Buchanan said.

In neighboring Washington state, a 3-year-old boy was seriously injured in November when he was accidentally shot in the face by a 4-year-old neighbor.

The boy was wounded as the children played in a home in Lake Stevens, about 30 miles north of Seattle.

In April, a 2-year-old boy apparently shot and killed his 11-year-old sister while they and their siblings played with a gun inside a Philadelphia home.

Authorities said the gun was believed to have been brought into the home by the mother’s boyfriend.

Hayden is a politically conservative town of about 9,000 people just north of Coeur d’Alene, in Idaho’s northern panhandle.

Idaho lawmakers had passed legislation earlier this year allowing concealed weapons on the state’s public college and university campuses.

Despite facing opposition from all eight of the state’s university college presidents, lawmakers sided with gun rights advocates who said the law would better uphold the Second Amendment.

This proves that was the wrong move, right?

Under the law, gun holders are barred from bringing their weapons into dormitories or buildings that hold more than 1,000 people, such as stadiums or concert halls.

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Lesson learned. Don't shop at Walmart!

Time to say goodbye, readers:

"A salute to those lost in 2014" by Joseph P. Kahn, Globe Correspondent  December 31, 2014

The sudden death of a person still vibrant in the public spotlight is always shocking.

It sure is. He is incredibly missed.

The world of entertainment was staggered twice last year with the deaths of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. 

Well, prescription pharmaceuticals killed Williams, and did they ever find out from where that killer heroin came?


Also seeBoston Globe on the Good Ship Lollipop 

Other glowing obits were penned for actor-director Richard Attenborough; comedians Joan Rivers and Sid Caesar; actresses Ruby Dee, Lauren Bacall, and Elaine Stritch; actor-filmmaker Harold Ramis of “Ghostbusters” fame; actors Eli Wallach and Maximilian Schell; and “Maverick” star James Garner, who played tough guys with a sly sense of humor.

Related: Saluting Sir Richard Attenborough

That's when the Rivers ran dry.

Americans also paused to honor the lives of public servants who demonstrated the wisdom and fortitude needed to sustain a functional democracy....

OMG! Celebrating those $cum!

Around the globe, Israelis saluted their former prime minister Ariel Sharon, a hawkish military commander who became a peace-seeking centrist....

Why wouldn't a war paper salute a war criminal, 'eh?

Journalism can be a perilous profession, especially in corners of the world besieged by war and terrorism. In 2014, many brave individuals — among them, journalist-video reporter James Foley, journalist Steven Sotloff, and photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus — lost their lives covering stories they wanted the world to know about. Back home, tributes were typed for Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, a stylish taskmaster whose leadership during the Watergate scandal helped elevate his paper to national prominence.

The flood of beheaded journalists were fake videos, folks.

Related: Bye-Bye, Benny 

Say goodbye to $elf-$erving ma$$ media, too.

I will be hoisting one and leaving the light on overnight.

Many sports luminaries passed into the history books last year. They were joined by boundary-pushing scientists and medical researchers. Among such luminaries, the followers of fashion and high society were saddened.

Locally, a city and region proud.

Finally, candles were lit in 2014 for the men and women in uniform overseas, and for first responders everywhere, who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their fellow citizens. May they rest in peace at the dawn of a bright new year.

WOW, shouldn't the last be first! 

Of course, no mention of the victims of the wars of empire based on damnable lies. My hopes for a bright new year and peace are not very good based on the track record; however, maybe I will find a little peace.

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May Kenny rest in peace. 

Good night, readers.

When the Full Moon Rises in Argentina

"Argentine ‘adoption’ custom opened to Jews" by Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post  December 31, 2014

WASHINGTON — Last week, Argentine President Cristina Fern├índez de Kirchner ‘‘adopted’’ a boy as her godson to prevent him from turning into a werewolf, according to multiple news reports. A report in the Guardian subsequently deemed the story spurious.

Kirchner tweeted images of a small ceremony conducted with the family of Yair Tawil, the seventh child of an Argentine Jewish family, during which the Tawils met with the president and lit candles on a menorah. She was adopting the child as her godson, a symbolic gesture made by generations of Argentine leaders over the years.

And here I thought Zionists only controlled North American and Western European governments and societies. Silly me.

According to the Independent, tradition holds that the seventh son of a family is doomed to turn into a werewolf — known as ‘‘el lobison’’ in Argentina — after his 13th birthday and will stalk the night in its beastly form.

They are the same ones who said snowstorms were a thing of the past.

The legend stems from indigenous folklore and melded with superstitions of European settlers in the 19th century.

And here I am finding it in my newspaper!

The fear of this werewolf-child was so pronounced that many seventh sons were killed after they were born, which started the practice in 1907 of Argentine leaders taking these children symbolically under their wing.

In the past half-century, the ceremonies have been opened up to girls and now, for the first time, Jews.

That's why my jewspaper took notice.

The Tawil family appealed to the Argentine government as early as the 1990s to have the practice extended to non-Catholic families. The boy’s new status as the president’s godson wins him a gold medal as well as a full educational scholarship, according to the Independent.

Tales of shape-shifting demons and feral monsters slaughtering livestock can be found in many parts of Latin America. This Argentine iteration can be traced to a local Guarani story of the seven cursed spawn of Tau, an evil mythological spirit, and Kerana, a beautiful woman he seduced and kidnapped. The seventh son was ‘‘Luison,’’ who appears sometimes in the shape of a dog and feeds on corpses.

But citing an Argentine historian, the Guardian disputes the connection between beliefs about this folk horror and the presidential act of adopting a seventh son as a godson. In updates posted to their websites, both the Independent and Buzzfeed say European folklore surrounding seventh sons included fears of the child turning into a monster.

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I know it's only an anecdotal; however, over the years I have noticed the supremacist media cast insult or infers a certain craziness upon all but the altrui$tic and chosen cla$$ and people.

Related:

"Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has suffered a fracture in her left ankle, the latest in a series of health setbacks. A statement signed by two doctors, Marcelo Ballesteros and Daniel Fernandez, on Friday did not specify how the president suffered the injury."

We are now told she slipped on a wet floor. 

The cur$e of the werewolf?

I've No Energy For Blogging

Thus I'm powering down the blog.

"Mixed reaction as Vermont Yankee plant shuts down; Some see economic, energy setbacks; opponents cheer, focus on spent fuel" by Dave Gram, Associated Press  December 29, 2014

VERNON, Vt. — Ellen Merkel says she gets ‘‘a little teary-eyed’’ when she thinks about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant sending its last electrons to the regional power grid. She knows it probably will mean moving from her nice neighborhood in Vernon, where her husband works at the plant, to the South for a new job.

Frances Crowe, of Northampton, Mass., says that she will take some satisfaction that her antinuclear activism, which began before Vermont Yankee was built in the late 1960s, has had an impact. But she promised to continue to push for the highly radioactive spent fuel from the plant to be moved as soon as possible.

She's also the face of the peace movement.

Those were among the reactions in the three-state region of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts as the plant finishes powering down and prepares to disconnect from the grid, probably on Monday.

‘‘Economically it’s going to really hurt,’’ said Bob O’Donnell, co-owner of Trend Business Solutions, a small Vernon business that sells clothing and other items adorned with business logos, including that of Vermont Yankee. ‘‘It’s going to kill the tax base.’’

Just like a mill town.

Vermont Yankee, the state’s only nuclear reactor, employed more than 600 people when it announced it would close. The workforce will be cut in half after a round of layoffs and retirements Jan. 19. In 2016, the plant will see another big reduction as it prepares for a 30-year period during which time its radiation will cool. The plant is not expected to be dismantled until the 2040s or later.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. bought Vermont Yankee in 2002 from a group of New England utilities that had owned the plant since it opened in 1972. In August 2013, Entergy announced it would close the plant because it was no longer economical to operate.

‘‘This has been a bad investment for us,’’ said Barrett Green, an Entergy finance executive who recommended both that Entergy buy the plant and later that it be closed.

The company was betting on a carbon tax, or some other hit on fossil-fuel-fired power plants, that would make nuclear power a clear winner. Instead, Green said, nuclear plants have been hit with increasing ‘‘regulatory costs’’ like beefed-up security post-9/11 and new safeguards against extreme events like the earthquake and tsunami that struck a nuclear station in Japan in 2011. 

I'm sorry that false flag lie f***ed up your profits and that Fukushima remained nameless.

A boom in construction of natural-gas-fired power plants around New England has helped make Vermont Yankee less competitive, but the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, said the real problem is a regulatory system not working to keep nuclear plants open.

Then why are costs soaring?

‘‘Other nuclear energy facilities — producing affordable electricity safely and reliably — are at risk of premature closure due to competitive electricity markets that are not working for the benefit of consumers or the long-term reliability of the electric grid,’’ said Marv Fertel, NEI president and chief executive. ‘‘It is simply unsustainable and shortsighted to continue to shut down perfectly good energy facilities and put at risk the fundamental values of our electricity system.’’

At least they won't be leaking cancer into the Connecticut River anymore.

At ISO New England, the regional power dispatch agency, spokeswoman Marcia Blomberg said, ‘‘We determined a couple of years ago that the power grid could be operated reliably without Vermont Yankee.’’

The announcement that the plant was closing came weeks after it won a round in a legal battle to keep it open. A US appeals court upheld a ruling overturning state laws that appeared aimed at closing the plant. One required a vote of support from both legislative chambers before the state Public Service Board permitted the plant to operate 20 years beyond its initial 40-year license.

The state Senate defeated the measure in 2010 and the House never acted, prompting Entergy to sue. The legislative action came amid political turmoil for the plant: Officials there were caught making false statements to lawmakers and regulators that the plant did not have the sort of underground piping that carried radioactive substances. There was also widespread suspicion among lawmakers about an Entergy plan to sell off Vermont Yankee and other northern reactors to a new, heavily leveraged spinoff company.

On top of that, a vocal cadre of well-organized and well-funded antinuclear activists in southeastern Vermont and Massachusetts took to the streets and to regulators’ hearing rooms in a bid to shut the plant down. They also had the ear of Governor Peter Shumlin, who had orchestrated the vote in the Senate against the plant’s continued operation.

Entergy officials have said the shutdown decision was purely a matter of economics.

I don't care; I'm just glad it is shutting down after having lived in its shadow for so long.

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Related: Globe Cleans Up Nuclear Fuel at Vermont Yankee

All that is left is to turn out the lights:

"Vermont Yankee nuclear plant shutdown complete; Plant’s closing leaves new England with 4 nuclear facilities" by Jack Newsham, Globe Correspondent  December 29, 2014

At 1:04 p.m. Monday, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant shut down for good, and the power system in New England didn’t even blink.

Power plants elsewhere in New England cranked up to replace the electricity from the 600-megawatt nuclear station in Southern Vermont.

Also, transmission lines in the area had been upgraded to move power around better, and energy efficiency has improved.

Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman for the operator of the regional power system, ISO New England, said that it had studied the area powered by Vermont Yankee in 2012 and concluded it could withstand the loss of the power plant.

Vermont Yankee’s nuclear reactor has been in “coastdown” mode for several months, and the electricity it supplied to the regional grid had gradually decreased. On Monday morning, it was operating at 74 percent capacity before it was shut down to zero over the course of several hours.

“It’s a bittersweet day,” said Marty Cohn, a spokesman for Entergy Corp., which owns Vermont Yankee. “Everyone on the plant is focused on the job at hand, but they know that this is the last time, that this plant will not be returning.”

The power plant had been on shaky ground since 2010, when lawmakers in Vermont tried to close it down. Although Vermont Yankee was licensed by the federal government to operate until 2032, Entergy announced in 2013 that it would close the plant for financial reasons.

Barrett Green, an Entergy executive who is leading the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee, said that major changes in energy markets made the plant’s continued operation too costly. Although New England’s reliance on limited supplies of natural gas for electricity production has led to spiking electricity prices this winter, Green said the company was not making its plans based on short-term market movements.

That's not why. It is so we approve a pipeline.

“We look at the long run,” Green said. “The price of natural gas, because of the shale developments, has fundamentally changed the outlook for the energy infrastructure of the US. The movement toward carbon constraints has not been as effective or as fast as we had expected.”

Related: Expert: U.S. Has Leveraged Economy On Shale Oil, Which Saudis May Be About To Crash

Also see: The US Just Opened Its Shale Oil Floodgates To The World By A Tiny Bit

At least benchmark US crude rose yesterday.

In 2013, New England’s five nuclear reactors provided about a third of the region’s electricity; at full capacity Vermont Yankee alone could power about half a million homes.

With Vermont Yankee out of the picture, the four remaining operating nuclear reactors in New England are Millstone 2 and 3 in Waterford, Conn., Pilgrim Station in Plymouth, and Seabrook Station in Seabrook, N.H.

Local residents were divided on the Vermont plant, which at the peak employed about 600 people from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. About half of the plant’s workers will have been laid off or relocated by January 2015, and a long-term plan calls for a smaller staff to secure and temporarily dispose of the plant’s radioactive fuel.

Blomberg added that power plants in the region could supply a total of 32,000 megawatts of electricity.

Winter tends to be a lower-demand period for electricity in New England, with the peak period in the summer. Demand for power on Monday, for example, was estimated to be around 18,000 megawatts.

Really? Even with all the heat needed due to winter? 

And if that is true, why are prices going up?

Still, Blomberg warned that the New England power system is in no position to lose more plants.

“Going forward, we are concerned about the impact of [losing] non-natural-gas-fired generation in the region,” she said.

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They will regret it!

Time to go solar:

"Despite the program’s failures, the department projects a profit of between $5 billion and $6 billion over the next 20 to 25 years."

At least the power pushing the agenda is limitle$$. 

Have they no $hame?

So where we gonna store all the gas?

"Vineyards fight plan to store gas in N.Y. cave; Industries clash at Finger Lakes" by Jesse McKinley, New York Times  December 26, 2014

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Over the last two decades, vintners in the Finger Lakes region of New York state have slowly, and successfully, pursued a goal that could fairly be described as robust, with a lively finish: to transform their region into a mecca for world-class wines and invite an influx of thirsty oenotourists.

Long before the local labels went upscale, however, the Finger Lakes were known for another earthy, if not so refined, industry: underground gas storage.

Now, those two legacies have collided over a long-simmering project that would store tens of millions of gallons of liquefied petroleum gas, and up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas, in subterranean salt caverns thousands of feet below the shores of Seneca Lake.

Those who oppose the plan describe it as an existential threat to years of carefully cultivated vineyard development in the Finger Lakes, just as the area is beginning to bloom.

“Do we want to be known for world-class wine grapes, farm-fresh food and great hospitality?” said Will Ouweleen, an owner of Eagle Crest Vineyards on Hemlock Lake, near the region’s western edge. “Or do you want to be the gas-storage hub of the Northeast?” 

I thought the wine tasted funny.

The project inched closer to reality last month, when the state Department of Environmental Conservation scheduled a Feb. 12 issues conference, a proceeding on issues of fact and standing in the permit process.

State approval is necessary for the portion of the project that involves liquid propane and butane. The expansion of methane-gas storage received approval from federal energy officials in October.

Since then, dozens of protesters have been arrested near the natural gas storage site, near Watkins Glen, where rolling hills fall into deep glacial lakes. Protest signs have become nearly as common as grape trellises.

And more than 50 local winemakers — joined by several vintners from acclaimed wineries in California, France and Germany — have spoken out against the project, saying the community’s future is tied to the land, not to the gaping holes deep beneath it.

“It’s not like other businesses,” said Doug Hazlitt, whose family has been growing grapes here since 1852. “We can’t pick up our vines and move to another state.”

--more--"

Related:

In upstate New York, wine vs. drilling

As deadline looms, farmer-wineries still await fix promised by legislators

Wine connoisseurs, vineyards eagerly await new direct shipping rules 

Just came in:

"New York governor will move to ban fracking in state" Associated Press  December 17, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration will move to prohibit fracking in New York State, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said Wednesday that he was recommending a ban, and Cuomo said he would defer to Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in making the decision.

Zucker and Martens summarized the findings of their environmental and health reviews. They concluded that shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing carried unacceptable risks that have not been sufficiently studied.

Martens said the Department of Environmental Conservation will put out a final environmental impact statement next year, and after that he will issue an order prohibiting fracking.

The drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation underlying southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, was made possible by fracking, or high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which releases gas from rock by injecting wells with treated water at high pressure.

The technique has generated tens of billions of dollars and reduced energy bills and fuel imports. But it has brought concerns and sparked protests over air and water pollution, earthquakes, property devaluation, truck traffic, and health impacts.

***********

Zucker said he had identified significant public health risks and ‘‘red flag’’ health issues that require long-term studies before fracking can be called safe. He likened fracking to secondhand smoke, which was not fully understood as a health risk until many years of scientific study had been done....

Another Massachusetts neighbor, Vermont, became the first state to ban fracking in 2012. Although the drilling technique is legal in the Commonwealth, a bill pending for more than a year before the House Ways and Means Committee would ban the practice, and at least one town, Pelham, has banned natural gas drilling. But there has been little interest from gas companies in drilling in Massachusetts. Although geologists say there may be gas trapped in the shale below the Connecticut River valley in Western Massachusetts, it would probably not be profitable to drill for it.

SeeWestern Mass. viewed as territory for fracking

They will be coming here someday, but it will be over my dead body.

Cuomo said the debate over fracking was the most emotional he has had to deal with as governor. He said the issue led to some heated encounters with people on both sides of the debate. Within 30 seconds of talking about fracking with opponents, tempers typically flared, Cuomo said.

‘‘They’re not listening and they’re not hearing and they’re yelling,’’ he said. ‘‘You speak to the pro-frackers, same thing.’’

Zucker said after studying all the analysis, for him it came down to one question: Would he want to live in a community that allows fracking? ‘‘My answer is no’’ he said....

The Exxon oil guy agrees!

--more--" 

At least there are always casinos.

Saving Charles' Reputation

Too much inbreeding in that family.

"BBC delays documentary on royal family" by Steven Erlanger, New York Times  December 31, 2014

LONDON — Walter Bagehot, in his 1867 book, “The English Constitution,” famously described the key to a lasting monarchy as mystery and obfuscation. “Above all things our royalty is to be reverenced, and if you begin to poke about it you cannot reverence it,” he wrote. “Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic.”

These days, however, the task is rather different: controlling the daylight to preserve, or restore, the magic. And if that requires a devious spin doctor, so be it.

But not too much daylight, please.

In a controversial decision, the BBC has postponed the scheduled broadcast of a documentary about how the royal family hired a public relations professional to restore the reputation of Prince Charles after the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and to help integrate into the royal household his then-lover, Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he later married and who is now the Duchess of Cornwall.

The first part of a two-part documentary, “Reinventing the Royals,” was supposed to be broadcast on Jan. 4, but the BBC has postponed it for an indefinite period “while a number of issues, including the use of archive footage, are resolved,” the public broadcaster said in a statement.

But according to the Radio-Times, which broke the story, the BBC acted after “an intervention from lawyers known to represent senior members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.”

The documentary focuses on Mark Bolland, a public relations executive hired by Charles in 1996 as an assistant private secretary. Bolland served as the prince’s deputy private secretary from 1997-2002, then served as his public relations consultant in 2003.

The documentary is presented by Steve Hewlett and was made without the cooperation of the royal family. It shows how Bolland took every opportunity to show Charles as a loving father and concerned single parent, while trying to win public acceptance for Parker Bowles.

The filmmaker reports that the campaign to integrate Parker Bowles into palace life was named “Operation Mrs. P.B.,” and that Charles understood his standing with the British public had been deeply damaged by the death of Diana in a car accident in Paris and revelations of his relationship with Parker Bowles.

It also traces the deep suspicion of the news media by Prince William, his eldest son with Diana, to an incident in which he felt he had been “used to further his father’s interests” after news of his first private meeting with his future stepmother was leaked to the British tabloid The Sun, ten months after his mother’s death, when he was 15.

At this point we all know about the murderous elite pedophile ring and England's discredited media.

William wanted to know how it happened, although it later turned out to have been accidentally leaked by a staffer for Parker Bowles, according to Sandy Henney, who was press secretary to Charles when Diana died. In an interview for the documentary, she described the incident as a “defining moment” for William.

As a consequence, according to Hewlett, William became deeply wary of the press. “For William, protecting his privacy and that of his family has perhaps understandably become a virtual obsession,” Hewlett wrote in an article for Radio-Times. But “in a new media age dominated by the Internet, with all the accompanying expectations of openness and transparency, there are real concerns, even within the royal household, over the sustainability of William’s approach.”

No one else's privacy is protected in Britain.

Tom Bradby, a one-time royal correspondent and now ITV’s political editor, said that the princes never lost their disdain for the press. “William and Harry were very angry,” he told Hewlett. “They thought that the media had hounded their mother to death. I don’t mean they vaguely thought that; they actually thought that’s what had happened.”

And then they didn't investigate. 

Btw, my anger and disdain was built up over years worth of lies.

Henney is forthcoming in the documentary. Years before Diana’s death in a car accident in Paris, Charles “was getting some pretty virulent criticism: bad father, unloving husband,” Henney said. “I think he was pretty hurt. If you’ve got a middle-aged balding man and a beautiful princess, it’s a no-brainer as to who is going to get the media coverage.”

Relations between the royal family and the BBC, a public broadcast station dependent on licensing fees paid by nearly everyone in Britain with a television, have often been strained.

A spokesman for Clarence House, where Charles and the duchess live, has denied asking that the program be pulled or postponed, though there were reports of detailed talks between the BBC and the royals throughout the year or so it took to make the documentary. “Scheduling of television programs is a matter for the broadcaster,” the spokesman said.

Bolland, who now has his own public relations firm, was unavailable for comment.

--more--" 

The arrogance of real royalty.

Gambling on Gambia Coup

But by who?

"Attempted coup reported in Gambia" December 31, 2014

DAKAR, Senegal — Gunfire erupted overnight in Banjul, the capital of the West African nation of Gambia, and residents awoke Tuesday to find government buildings and the main bridge into town sealed off by fidgety soldiers.

The US Embassy confirmed an attempted coup, even as the Gambian government issued a vague statement that “peace and calm continue to prevail.” Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, seized power 20 years ago.

Banjul residents said shooting began at 1 a.m. and most businesses were closed all day.

--more--"

All I know about Gambia is they are anti-gay, and I doubt that is a reason for overthrow.

No Kidding in Colorado

Related: Cleaning Up Colorado

It will be $potle$$ after this post.

"Man gets 5 years for keeping 4 sons in filthy home" Associated Press  December 31, 2014

DENVER — A father whose four young sons could communicate only in grunts when authorities rescued them from a filthy Denver apartment was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to his second offense of child abuse.

Wayne Sperling, 67, told Judge J. Eric Elliff to do ‘‘whatever you feel is right’’ when given a chance to speak before he was sentenced.

Elliff said Sperling made excuses and did not accept responsibility for keeping the boys in ‘‘horrific’’ conditions. Elliff said he hoped the sentence sends a message that children can’t be treated like pets or possessions.

‘‘They are human beings that need to be carefully nurtured,’’ Elliff said.

Unless they live in Gaza.

Authorities said Sperling, 67, his wife, Lorinda Bailey, and the boys lived in an apartment filled with cat feces and flies. The children, ages 2 to 6, were malnourished when they were found in October 2013.

An emergency room doctor suspected abuse when the youngest was taken to the hospital for a cut on his forehead. The doctor noticed that the boy was unwashed, reeked of cigarette smoke, and had bruises consistent with pinching.

But cute as a button.

That led authorities to the apartment, where authorities said that all the surfaces were covered with flies and that about an inch of solidified cat feces covered with urine lay beneath one of the boy’s beds.

Prosecutors said it was one of their most horrific cases, but Colorado’s child abuse laws kept them from pursuing harsher penalties because the children didn’t suffer serious physical injuries.

After the boys were rescued, they acted as if they hadn’t seen food before, patting sandwiches and playing with apples, a detective testified.

The boys are improving while living together in foster care, but they still struggle, prosecutors said. They still aren’t all toilet trained.

That could be tough.

--more--"

Can't blame the kid for killing him:

"Colorado teen to get 10 years for killing father"  December 18, 2014

EAGLE, Colo. — A 14-year-old Colorado boy will spend 10 years behind bars after pleading guilty to killing his father and trying to conceal the slaying for six days by keeping the body at home and telling the man’s employer he was sick.

The teenager entered the plea Tuesday under a deal with prosecutors, The Vail Daily reported. He is scheduled to serve seven years in youth prison before entering an adult prison on his 21st birthday to serve the last three years of his sentence.

Investigators say the teen was 13 when he shot his 50-year-old father twice in the head with a rifle on or around April 30, when the man was scheduled to meet with a sheriff’s deputy investigating a graffiti case involving the teen.

The father did not show up for the meeting or work. The son called his father’s boss for several days to say he was sick, but the employer became suspicious and alerted police.

When deputies arrived at the home, the boy answered the door and told them his father was dead inside.

During Tuesday’s court hearing, the teen sat quietly and answered questions from Judge Fred Gannett to make sure the teen knew to what he was agreeing.

--more--"

Tigheing Up This New Year's Eve Post

"Tewksbury man arrested after police chase; Pursuit ends without injuries" by Aneri Pattani, Globe Correspondent  December 30, 2014

A Tewksbury man was arraigned Tuesday in Woburn District Court on charges that he allegedly stole a motor vehicle and led police on a high-speed chase through two towns on Monday.

William Tighe, 29, faces more than 10 charges, including assault, receiving stolen property, failure to stop for police, and reckless operation of a motor vehicle, according to a statement from the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

Judge Timothy Gailey set bail for Tighe at $10,000 cash....

--more--"

Not a Happy New Year in Nahant

Related: Nothing Doing in Nahant

Former Nahant town manager indicted; Accused of fraud in past positions" by Travis Andersen, Globe Staff  December 31, 2014

Former Nahant town administrator Andrew Bisignani, who resigned in June amid questions about the awarding of public contracts, was indicted Tuesday on charges that he committed fraud while working for the towns of Nahant and Saugus.

An Essex County grand jury handed up 12 indictments against Bisignani, 68, on charges including procurement fraud and altering or destroying public records, District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s office said in a statement.

Bisignani, who remains free pending his arraignment in Essex Superior Court, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

His attorney, Tracy Miner, commented only briefly when reached by e-mail.

“Apparently the DA’s office saw fit to give the indictment to the press before they gave it to me or my client,” Miner wrote. “As neither me nor my client has received the indictment, all I can say is at all times Andy Bisignani sought to benefit the towns that he served.”

Bisignani is accused of committing procurement fraud related to public building and public works repairs between February 2012 and June 2014, while serving in Nahant.

He is also accused during that period of knowingly violating public spending laws, failing to provide notice of competitive bids, and altering public records as well as documents requested in a grand jury summons, Blodgett’s statement said.

Bisignani faces similar charges dating back to his tenure as Saugus town manager, including procurement fraud between January 2009 and February 2012 related to town vehicle and public works repairs, according to the statement.

A spokesman for Blodgett declined to offer details of the alleged fraud and would not say whether others might face charges. Prosecutors did not identify any municipal vendors linked to the case.

Town officials in Nahant, where Bisignani still resides, and Saugus either declined to comment or could not be reached Tuesday.

“I don’t know what the charges are,” said Michael Manning, a member of the Nahant Board of Selectmen, adding he had not seen the indictments.

Saugus Selectman Stephen Castinetti also said he had no knowledge of the charges and declined to discuss the case.

“I really don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said.

Bisignani submitted his resignation from the Nahant post in mid-June, one day before State Police raided Town Hall offices and seized computers, paperwork, and lists of the town’s vendors.

Saugus selectmen had declined to reappoint Bisignani when his term was up and hired an outside accounting firm to review his management and spending practices. That audit identified more than $2 million in questionable spending during the last two years of Bisignani’s tenure and alleged there was an intentional violation of state laws and rules.

An arraignment date for Bisignani has not been set.

--more--"

So who did the FBI call?

"FBI unveils public corruption tipline, website" by Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff  December 15, 2014

The Boston office of the FBI sought the public’s help Monday in rooting out public corruption, warning that the state’s fledging casino and medical marijuana industries have the potential to tempt legislators, police officers, even zoning board members into wrongdoing.

“This is all fertile ground for bribery and public corruption,” said Lucy Ziobro, an assistant special agent in charge who oversees the prosecution of white-collar crimes.

That's why I didn't want casinos and regret my marijuana vote, the worst I ever cast.

When there’s money, or opportunity to make money, there’s greed, and when there’s greed there’s corruption,” she said.

Ziobro joined Vincent Lisi, the special agent in charge in Boston, and supervisory agent Mike Carazza, who oversees the public corruption unit, in announcing a new tipline, 1-844-NO-BRIBE, and website, tips.fbi.gov.

The tipline and website will be promoted on billboards throughout the region in a “Stop Corruption Now” campaign, in hopes that people will report suspected corruption. The FBI will keep reports private.

At the Monday announcement of the anticorruption campaign, the FBI posted marketing posters with pictures from past investigations, including a picture of former state senator Dianne Wilkerson stuffing her bra with cash. Wilkerson was convicted of extortion in federal court in Boston and was sentenced in 2011 to 3½ years in prison.

“The public relies on us to identify corrupt public officials, and bring them to justice,” Lisi said.

Actually, I don't. I count on you to cover up the real big cases while focusing on small fry.

Ziobro added, “We want to see if the public can engage in this with us.”

With the recent prosecutions of several Massachusetts legislators – the three previous House speakers have been convicted in federal court – the FBI officials stressed their new campaign is not limited to the casino and medical marijuana industries, and that they will investigate public corruption at any level.

Still, Lisi warned that the potentially lucrative new industries, specifically casinos, cause concern.

Already, US prosecutors have indicted a Mafia associate and two other men who allegedly hid the Mafia associate’s ownership of an Everett plot of land that was to be sold to casino mogul Steve Wynn. The state’s gambling laws bar criminals from profiting from a gambling facility, and the Mafia associate’s ownership of the land could have jeopardized Wynn’s casino plans.

The state has also closely regulated the medical marijuana industry since voters approved the opening of dispensaries in Massachusetts two years ago.

What industry? We are still waiting

Maybe by winter, they say. Well, it is winter!

Officials asked the public to be on the look out for any public official – a police officer, a judge, a legislator, or a zoning board member – who uses his or her office for personal gain, whether related to the casino or medical marijuana industries, or any other business. 

They are all on Beacon Hill. Go get 'em.

The FBI officials listed recent public corruption cases from Providence to Maine.... 

I see Ma$$achu$etts is not alone.

--more--"

Does this mean less time framing patsy plotters in fabricated terror plots?

Bullish on New Hampshire

You may want to take this phone call!

"New Hampshire, Merrill Lynch reach $400,000 accord" by Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press  December 31, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. — The state on Tuesday announced a $400,000 settlement with Merrill Lynch for calling people who have asked not to be called by telemarketers.

The settlement, handled by the Bureau of Securities Regulation, is the state’s sixth telemarketing-related settlement in recent years. A $750,000 settlement with Edward Jones this year is one of the largest telemarketing-related settlements in history.

‘‘The bureau continues to take a strong stance on telemarketing abuses and, moving forward, will not hesitate to pursue any licensee of our office who fails to follow applicable telemarketing rules,’’ Bureau Deputy Director Jeffrey Spill said.

Thousands of calls from Merrill Lynch, a New York-based financial services company, to New Hampshire residents since 2011 violated telemarketing laws, although it is difficult to track exact numbers, said Adrian LaRochelle, staff attorney for the bureau. Data from the Federal Trade Commission show nearly 1.2 million New Hampshire numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry this year, the highest number per capita of any state. This year, the trade commission received nearly 15,000 complaints from New Hampshire residents.

As part of the settlement, Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay the state $400,000, stop its illegal activities and provide better supervision and training for its agents making telemarketing calls.

--more--"

At least they faced up to their crimes.

"Facebook post presages murder-suicide in N.H.; Man shoots wife and self in hospital room" by Mark Arsenault, Matt Rocheleau and Jim Kimble, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondents  December 30, 2014

DOVER, N.H. — Mark Lavoie’s final Facebook post read like a last will and testament, a suicide note, and an admission to a murder that had not yet happened.

I'm hoping my posts are not reading that way; I'm just going to stop buying the Boston Globe and blogging about it every damn day.

“Please don’t mourn for me,” he wrote early Tuesday, in a post that suggested his wife wanted to die and that he was going to help her. “My spirit will be in a much better place with my soul mate.”

Okay, I won't.

Desperate friends who saw the post phoned the police. They typed plaintive pleas on Lavoie’s Facebook page.

“Mark please don’t.”

“Call me!”

“I’m on my way to his house!!! 20 minutes away,” posted Lavoie’s longtime friend Charlene Wood.

Minutes later, Wood learned from one of Lavoie’s relatives: It was too late.

Lavoie, 50, a parts manager at Portsmouth Ford Lincoln, had allegedly shot dead his wife, a patient in the critical care unit at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, at about 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Then, he apparently took his own life. “It was positively horrific to realize he had actually done it,” Wood said in a Globe interview.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster confirmed Tuesday afternoon that police had responded to a report of gunshots in the hospital, and that a husband and wife had died in what appeared “to be the result of a murder-suicide.”

It was exactly as Lavoie had predicted in the opening of his post: “I want to start off by saying this is going to be officially ruled a murder/suicide,” he wrote, “when in all actuality it is a double suicide.”

*************

Lavoie’s sister Dorcas Lavoie confirmed to the Associated Press that her brother had shot his wife and himself, and said he did it “out of love.” A woman who answered a phone registered to another close relative told the Globe that the family had no comment.

In the posting on what appears to be his Facebook page, Lavoie claimed his wife wanted to “escape the bipolar demons that have been swirling around in her brain since childhood.” It was unclear why Kathy Lavoie had been hospitalized.

Lavoie suggested that because he had called 911, “she is experiencing the only thing she feared more than her illness . . . life support on a respirator.” He did not elaborate on the 911 call; neighbors said an ambulance visited the Lavoie home Monday.

“I am more than happy to sacrifice my life to fix my doing and join her spirit in a happier place,” Lavoie wrote.

Wow, this is a Lavoie love story full of joy.

The couple had lived in a Cape-style home on Tennyson Avenue, a quiet residential neighborhood lined with modest one- and two-story houses.

Scott Ablett lived two doors away. He said Lavoie and his wife have two daughters, one of whom is about the same age as Ablett’s daughter, who is 21. The family also had a dog, he said.

“They were nice people from what I knew,” he said. “It’s sad. It’s tragic.”

Lavoie’s Facebook post matter-of-factly directed how he wanted his property distributed, and asked that his pets be cared for. I'm hoping this blog will be here forever.

It's my legacy, and I've given the NSA enough rope.

***************

Lavoie’s friend Casey Mitchell was left struggling Tuesday with the death of friend — but Mitchell said he had no indication that the marriage would end in violence.

“They never had any domestic issues at all. There was no drug use. They went to church,” he said. “They were an iconic couple.”

Just before the shooting, Mark Lavoie signed off from social media, forever:

“Well in all the years I’ve been on [Facebook] I never was one for posting any drama,” he wrote. “I was due one.”

Love you all, peace out!” 

I feel the same way about you, dearly beloved readers, although I am not killing anything but this blog through neglect.

--more--"

If anything it is a murder of mercy -- unlike other things.

The Meningitis Murders

"14 executives, staff charged in tainted drug case; Counts include murder and conspiracy as fallout grows from deaths of 64" by Kay Lazar and Todd Wallack, Globe Staff  December 17, 2014

Law enforcement agents swooped in during predawn raids Wednesday and arrested executives and former staffers of a Framingham compounding pharmacy blamed for producing tainted drugs that killed dozens in one of the deadliest medication contamination cases in US history.

In all, 14 people were charged in connection with the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak linked to the shuttered New England Compounding Center. Contaminated drugs — produced with expired ingredients under unsterile conditions — have been tied to the deaths of 64 people and to illnesses in about 700 patients in 20 states.

And yet this state is all tied up over medical marijuana clinics (cough).

The company’s co-owner and head pharmacist, Barry Cadden, and its supervisory pharmacist, Glenn Chin, were charged with 25 acts of second-degree murder in seven states, plus additional crimes.

See: Posted by the Hair of My Chinny Chin China

The other dozen defendants, including six of the company’s pharmacists, its national sales director, and another co-owner, face charges including racketeering, mail fraud, conspiracy, and contempt.

Some defendants could face life in prison. Prosecutors called the case an “unprecedented” national tragedy, and the indictments ended two years of waiting for patients and families desperate for justice.

They have a separate article below.

“Production and profit were prioritized over safety,” US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said during a packed news conference in her offices at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in South Boston.

Happens all the time. This just went wrong.

The indictment alleges that New England Compounding and Medical Sales Management Inc. — a company that shared ownership with NECC and provided it with sales and administrative services — constituted a criminal “enterprise” under the federal racketeering law.

“Let me be clear: Actions like the ones alleged in this case display not only a reckless disregard for federal health and safety regulations but also an extreme and appalling indifference for human life,” acting US Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery said.

The deaths and illnesses spurred the administration of Governor Deval Patrick to tighten oversight of compounding pharmacies.

Several of those charged pleaded not guilty in court sessions Wednesday afternoon. An attorney for one of the defendants told a judge his client would be exonerated.

As early as January 2008, Cadden, Chin, and other staffers devised a scheme to defraud patients by using expired ingredients to make drugs and then mixing them with other substances to conceal their actions, the indictment alleges.

Company officials and staffers knew bacterial and mold contamination proliferated in their lab’s “clean rooms,” where drugs purporting to be sterile were produced, prosecutors said. And they failed to conduct tests to ensure medicine produced in those rooms was sterile, prosecutors charge.

Yet the company continued to send out quarterly “Quality Assurance” reports to hospitals and doctors in the months leading up to the 2012 meningitis outbreak touting sterile labs, the indictment says.

To cover their tracks, supervisory pharmacist Chin instructed pharmacists to fraudulently complete logs at the end of each month purporting to show that the labs were properly cleaned and disinfected, according to the indictment.

From May 2012 through Sept. 25, 2012, roughly 17,300 vials of methylprednisolone acetate, a steroid commonly injected into a patient’s spine to quell back pain, were prepared in the company’s contaminated labs and shipped to customers across the country, the indictment states.

“When we take an item off the shelf at a drug store or grocery store, or visit a doctor for treatment, we don’t think we are putting our health at risk, and we shouldn’t have to,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce Branda, who also attended Wednesday’s news conference. “These are everyday activities, not Russian roulette.”

Gregory Conigliaro, another owner of the company who faces charges, conspired with Cadden to deliberately mislead federal drug regulators since at least 1998 by falsely identifying the company only as a compounding pharmacy, not a drug manufacturer, prosecutors allege.

As a drug manufacturer, the company would have faced greater federal scrutiny of its operations.

After the fact.

“We are a small-scale, family-run compounding-only pharmacy,’’ Conigliaro wrote to the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004, according to the indictment. Conigliaro told regulators that as such a company, it was not subject to manufacturing standards set by the FDA.

Conigliaro and Cadden also are accused of conspiring to direct employees to falsify records. In order to operate as a compounding pharmacy, rather than a manufacturer, the company needed to make drugs for specific patients. So company officials allegedly instructed workers to create fake patient names, including those of celebrities, such as David Letterman, Robert Redford, and Chris Rock.

The Rock was just shattered!

In June 2012, after consulting with Cadden, Conigliaro ordered staff to create 300 fraudulent prescriptions for patients at a Massachusetts hospital, the indictment alleges.

Related:

"They used outlandish fake names — including those of celebrities and fictional characters like Method Man, Wonder Woman, Tyler Perry, Bud Weiser, David Letterman, Ned Flanders, Burt Reynolds, Betty Ford, and “Chester Cheeto”— to justify the bulk production of some drugs."

Cadden’s attorney, Bruce Singal, said his client had been expecting the indictment on a Wednesday morning for some time, and for several consecutive weeks had been waking at 4 a.m. Wednesdays, dressing and waiting for federal agents to descend.

Oh, the poor bastard! 

SeeCo-owner of pharmacy in deadly outbreak pleads not guilty

At the same time he "made $62 million from 2010 to 2012 while routinely flouting federal safety regulations."

Or not.

He told Chief Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal that his client posed “no risk of flight or dangerousness,” emphasizing that he has three children, including two in high school.

Singal also said that Cadden is “looking forward to his day in court” and that he will be proven not guilty.

Cadden appeared in a button-down shirt, but co-defendant Chin, wearing a faded New England Patriots shirt and what appeared to be pajama bottoms, looked like he was rousted from bed.

His attorney, Stephen Weymouth, said Wednesday’s raid came out of the blue, because Chin was already under curfew and being monitored by the court.

Chin was arraigned in September after being arrested several days earlier at Logan Airport as he and his family prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong.

His lawyer said Chin was not trying to flee but was instead traveling with his family for a vacation.

Boal scheduled another detention hearing for Thursday to decide whether to continue holding Cadden and Chin.

Company co-owner Conigliaro was released on $25,000 unsecured bond, with travel restrictions.

The court hearings Wednesday revealed that several other former company staffers, including Kathy Chin, a pharmacist, and Robert Ronzio, the former national sales director, still work in the pharmaceutical industry.

New England Compounding and its related company, Medical Sales Management, were privately held by Cadden and his wife and by Conigliaro and members of his family, the indictment said.

Conigliaro’s brother, Douglas, and Douglas’s wife, Carla, face multiple counts of criminal contempt for transferring $33.3 million in cash from various bank accounts when US Bankruptcy Court Judge Henry J. Boroff issued an order freezing their assets in early 2013.

The order came amid a flood of lawsuits filed on behalf of patients sickened in the outbreak.

In one day alone, authorities allege, the Conigliaros transferred $13.5 million from a New York financial institution to two banks, headquartered in Texas and Georgia.

Douglas and Carla Conigliaro pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday, Carla barely audible as she rested her hands against the courtroom table aside her lawyer.

Wednesday’s criminal charges follow recent progress on the civil litigation spawned by the wave of deaths.

Earlier this month, a proposal filed in federal bankruptcy court called for at least $135 million to be distributed to people who have brought personal injury or death claims against the pharmacy, according to the trustee for New England Compounding’s bankruptcy filing and lawyers advising victims and their families.

That's all?

About 3,500 victims and their families have filed claims with the bankruptcy court.

Ortiz, the US attorney, said her team has spent the past two years speaking with families and patients nationwide and listening to their horrific experiences.

Their stories “are why we have been working so tirelessly in our pursuit of justice,” Ortiz said. “In many ways, I have been frustrated by how long it’s taken. But we wanted to make sure we got it right.”

Tell it to Swartz's parents.

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"Charges in pharmacy case indicate US sees crime ring; Prosecutors must show pattern and intent, analysts say" by Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff  December 18, 2014

Federal prosecutors allege that the pharmacists who ran the New England Compounding Center essentially ran the company like a criminal enterprise, engaging in a conspiracy to defraud customers with shoddy work that they knew could lead to deaths, according to several Boston lawyers’ legal analysis of the 73-page indictment handed out Wednesday.

Their problem was they were not big enough to be too big to jail.

By alleging racketeering, the prosecutors say they will show that the licensed pharmacists knew they were violating federal regulations but that they engaged in fraud to aid the goals of their crime ring, the legal analysts said.

“The prosecutors are alleging that these employees and officers engaged in a pattern of criminal activity, in which consumers and customers were defrauded by a series of false representations,” said Brad Bailey, a former federal prosecutor who recently represented one of the former probation department deputies convicted in a racketeering trial.

Mortgage-backed securities. 

Now it is rents and auto insurance.

Bailey said some of the legal issues raised in the probation department trial, and which are now being appealed, could also be presented in the New England Compounding Center case: Can prosecutors show that people who were part of a corporation were running that corporation like a crime ring? 

The CEO is the godfather figure.

“It’s going to be fact-intensive, and a jury will have to determine whether [prosecutors] do have all the facts to prove racketeering,” said Brian Kelly, the former head of the public corruption unit of the US attorney’s office in Boston. Kelly now works for Nixon Peabody.

The officials charged Wednesday from New England Compounding Center, or NECC, include executives and supervisory pharmacists who were accused of selling tainted drugs to hospitals, doctors, and patients. Prosecutors said the drugs led to a meningitis outbreak that affected hundreds and killed dozens.

Same as a crime ring.

Of the 14 people indicted Wednesday, eight were charged with racketeering conspiracy, meaning they were accused of running NECC as a criminal organization.

SeeNECC pharmacists are put under house arrest

To prove that charge, according to legal analysts, prosecutors will have to show that there was an agreement to commit crimes, that the participants knew they were crimes, and that those crimes aided the goals of the criminal organization. The prosecutors would also have to show that there was a pattern of crimes over a period of time. 

Good luck!

In the indictment Wednesday, prosecutors allege that the defendants committed fraud by falsely claiming that they followed proper rules and procedures in the process to sterilize pharmaceuticals and falsely claimed that they had tested the drugs to make sure they were properly sterilized.

Specifically, the company was producing a tainted form of a sterile steroid, even though supervisors knew that the process of creating sterile drugs “posed the greatest threat to patients because, among other things, it required compounding personnel to sterilize non-sterile ingredients,” according to the indictment.

Two of the defendants face allegations that their crimes resulted in murder.

Bailey questioned whether prosecutors will be able to show that the alleged crimes constituted a conspiracy and said the remaining defendants will work to separate themselves from the murder allegations, saying that being associated with the murder defendants “would result in an unfair trial.”

He and other legal analysts noted that some of the charges in the 130-count indictment are not related to the meningitis outbreak. Two executives, for instance, are charged with criminal contempt for violating a bankruptcy judge’s order to freeze their assets and for structuring bank transactions to avoid federal detection.

Several other executives and pharmacists are also accused of defrauding the US Food and Drug Administration for claiming they were pharmacists who filled prescriptions, while they were instead working like a drug manufacturer.

A drug manufacturer would be subjected to greater FDA scrutiny.

Kelly said that defense lawyers might seek to have some of the charges separated from the core racketeering case, possibly in a separate trial.

Daniel Medwed, a law professor at Northeastern University, said prosecutors seemed to have ensnared everyone involved, even those to a lesser degree, and he questioned whether all the defendants will go to trial.

He also said that prosecutors appear to be trying to send a message to the defendants and others who work in the health care field with the sweeping indictment that includes charges of murder.

“There is a message they are sending to other organizations and other employees, specifically those working in public care, and the message is, ‘you have to tread carefully,’ ” Medwed said. “If you’re producing items that affect the public welfare, you should be held accountable.”

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What do the victims have to say?

"Victims of meningitis outbreak welcome criminal charges" by Peter Schworm and Patricia Wen, Globe Staff  December 18, 2014

Two years ago, Diana Rohrer-Kuhn lost her only sibling, 68-year-old Daniel Rohrer, to the contaminated medication he received from New England Compounding Center. On Wednesday, upon learning that the owners and top staff at the Framingham pharmacy had been arrested on criminal charges, she expressed a measure of satisfaction and renewed hope that a prison sentence would someday follow.

“They deliberately sold a product that was tainted,” said Rohrer-Kuhn, who lives in Bremen, Ind. “I want them to serve time.”

Revenge is sweet!

It was a sentiment shared by other victims and their relatives as federal officials announced that 14 people face charges for their alleged role in a deadly meningitis outbreak linked to the company’s steroids. The injured and their kin said the executives deserved to be held accountable for their actions, which authorities said resulted in 64 deaths and hundreds of illnesses.

An eye for an eye!

The sight of the owners being led away by law enforcement, Rohrer-Kuhn said, was deeply gratifying.

“It’s been two years, and at least we all weren’t forgotten,” she said. “People have to realize that people died.”

Which is why I'm still unhappy. Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove, never in shackles. Bankers bound free with bonuses in hand.

Her brother, who lived in Bristol, Ind., and ran a lawn-care business, left behind a wife, three children, and three grandchildren. They have struggled financially in his absence but have yet to see a payout from legal action brought against the company by the victims’ families.

In Michigan, Kathy Pugh said her mother, who developed an infection after taking tainted medication, was pleased criminal charges had finally been brought.

“She’s happy the charges were made,” Pugh said. “She’ll be happier when they’re convicted.”

Pugh said her mother, Evelyn March, received an injection for a back ailment in 2012 but developed an infection and had to be hospitalized for three weeks.

Her mother has never fully recovered, Pugh said. She needs a walker or wheelchair to get around and requires personal care. Pugh had to quit her job to look after her mother.

“It’s getting harder and harder for her,” she said. “Our lives will never be the same.”

That says it all, and sums up the vitriolic rage here the last eight years. 

Thankfully, it's all ending. I'm getting out of the blogging business.

Pugh read the detailed indictment Wednesday and said she was struck by the scope and severity of the allegations.

“They were either that stupid or that arrogant,” she said. “It floors me.”

It no longer does me. That';s the problem, and why I'm done.

Kimberly Dougherty, an attorney who represents 100 patients and their families affected by the fungal meningitis outbreak, said one of her clients suffered an agonizing death two weeks ago.

He was from Michigan and owned an auto body shop before developing the meningitis, she said.

“He didn’t get to see this day,” she said.

Patients have been waiting a long time, wondering when this day would come as they watched the defendants continue to lead “lavish” lifestyles, she said.

Under terms of a recently filed proposal, a victims compensation fund could grow to $135 million. The agreement is subject to a judge’s approval.

Marsha Martin, whose 89-year-old mother died from the contaminated drugs, was pleased to hear about the charges but said they can’t make up for what happened.

“It doesn’t fix anything,” Martin said from her home in Bristol, Ind.

No, when people die nothing makes up for it. That is why I'm against the death penalty.

She and her four siblings don’t expect much financial compensation for the death of their mother, Pauline Burema, who lived in Cassopolis, Mich., Martin said. They realize, she said, that their mother was close to nine decades old and that her death did not result in financial hardship for the family.

No one will get much, not when you do the math. 

But she said her mother’s loss was felt deeply by many in the family. Burema was healthy and vibrant and enjoyed her extended family, with a dozen grandchildren and some two dozen great-grandchildren. If prosecutors show that Burema’s death and others were caused by “gross negligence” by executives, her daughter said, she hopes the executives spend years paying for their crimes.

“If they knew the drugs were contaminated, they belong behind bars,” she said.

Ruby Steiner said her mother — 87-year-old Viola Copsey from Constantine, Mich. — died two months after being injected with New England Compounding steroids to treat chronic severe back pain. Steiner said the owners and top executives at the company need to be held responsible and not just by being forced to pay compensation.

“They should pay with prison time,” said Steiner, who lived near her mother.

The steroids initially made her mother feel better, but within two weeks she fell ill and never recovered. Steiner and her three siblings try to honor the anniversary of their mother’s death in special ways. Her sister makes batches of cookies, like their mother used to.

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Even murderers have their defenders:

"Groups unite against curbing painkillers; Industry, doctors, patients lobby over opiate laws" by Christopher Rowland, Globe Staff  December 29, 2014

Not everyone cheered Massachusetts state senators this year when they tried to strike a blow against an epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse and overdose deaths.

In some quarters, it was seen as an affront.

“MA state senators’ message is clear to MA residents living with pain . . . we don’t care about you!” tweeted Cindy Steinberg, an advocate for patients who depend on prescription opiates to manage pain.

These drugs taste bad.

A frequent presence in Washington and on Beacon Hill, Steinberg has deep knowledge of prescription narcotic regulations and a certain personal credibility. To relieve her own severe back pain, the result of an office accident in the 1990s, she lies flat on her back during legislative hearings.

Steinberg’s reaction to this year’s Massachusetts Senate bill captured the emotional core of lobbying campaigns against strict curbs on opiate prescribing, both nationally and in state capitals. Those campaigns are funded in part by drug makers.

Their message: Don’t punish millions of legitimate pain patients in the rush to reduce prescription opiate addiction.

I actually agree. What happens is the over-prescriptions lead to under-prescriptions for those who truly need it.

The industry is working to protect its US market for oxycodone, hydrocodone, and similar drugs, which reached $8.3 billion in 2013. Its opposition to stricter access restrictions on its drugs is often echoed by a network of allies, including industry-backed patient groups such as the US Pain Foundation, where Steinberg is the national policy and advocacy director.

Locally, Steinberg has teamed with another powerful organization that also opposes some of the strictest narcotic prescribing proposals: the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents the state’s physicians.

This sort of organized resistance from the patient and medical community frustrates elected leaders and public health officials who are trying to devise measures to curb a wave of narcotic painkiller abuse and overdoses that claimed 16,500 lives across the country in 2010.

Until the next campaign check or donation is cashed.

“There’s an imbalance, an unevenness in the view of the benefits of these products versus the dangers,” said Representative Bill Keating, the Bourne Democrat who has introduced a bill in Congress to require that opiate pills be manufactured in a way that makes them difficult to crush and then snort or inject.

“What about the pain of someone’s spouse or loved one or daughter, and they are dead? That is a pain that doesn’t go away,” Keating said.

Law enforcement leaders say prescription opiates serve as a gateway to heroin, which has been responsible for a shocking surge in deaths in New England recently. Massachusetts alone experienced 58 heroin overdose deaths in the first half of December, State Police said.

They are absolutely right there.

To be sure, drug companies and advocacy groups recognize the serious toll of addiction and strongly support a variety of measures to fight it.

Who ever doubted it?(Just employing the phrase reveals it) 

For example, they favor the expenditure of public funds for treatment programs and physician education on the warning signs of abuse. They also support greater availability of emergency drugs that can save people who have overdosed. They favor abuse-resistant pills, which are difficult for addicts to crush.

The groups also broadly support prescription drug monitoring programs that allow doctors and pharmacists to check computer networks, which can reveal whether patients are getting multiple prescriptions from different providers, a typical indication of abuse.

But there is disagreement about how often doctors should be required to log on and do searches on those computers. The state Senate and the state Department of Public Health in 2014 proposed making the checks mandatory and more frequent.

Steinberg, however, said those measures unfairly penalize patients who are in pain by adding hurdles to access.

“That side of things has been so overlooked in this frenzy of abuse and overdoses,” Steinberg said. “Everyone has forgotten all these millions of Americans who are living with pain.”

When she is not flat on her back, Steinberg is making YouTube videos, writing letters to public officials, or e-mailing pain patients around the country. She is the public face of a local volunteer group called the Massachusetts Pain Initiative.

She also is a leader of the US Pain Foundation, a Connecticut-based nonprofit that received 87 percent of its $250,000 budget from prescription drug companies in 2012. Steinberg was paid $6,480 by the US Pain Foundation in 2012 for her role, according to tax records. She received the same amount from the group in 2013. 

That's not much at all (maybe she gets free drugs).

The US Pain Foundation, in turn, is one of a handful of industry-funded groups seeking to influence state and Washington policy makers. Most of the organizations disclose that they receive money from drug companies, but they stop short of disclosing amounts.

Steinberg said the payments she receives from the US Pain Foundation do not influence the positions she takes as a volunteer advocate speaking to lawmakers and public officials: “Am I motivated because a pharmaceutical company told me to say anything? No.”

But critics say industry-funded influence on both government and the medical community has had a profound effect on the prescription drug crisis in New England and across the United States, fueling overprescribing of addictive drugs such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, a nonprofit group, would not name specific organizations but said the debate has been heavily influenced by “front groups” that “exist to take money from industry and [that] service industry needs.”

********************

The prescription painkiller industry received a black eye in 2007 when Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and three of its executives pleaded guilty to misleading regulators and physicians about the addictive qualities of the drug. The company paid a $600 million penalty.

That did not end controversy surrounding the expansive market penetration of potent pain pills. The city of Chicago this year filed a detailed civil lawsuit alleging deceptive marketing practices by Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and other prescription opiate manufacturers.

Would that be Teva Pharmaceutical of Israel?  

The suit alleges that companies worked closely with a variety of nonprofit groups and allied physicians, despite the hazards of addiction, to dramatically boost painkiller prescribing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Teva Pharmaceutical declined to comment on the lawsuit. Purdue Pharma dismissed its effects.

“As widely documented, these lawsuits are designed to enrich trial attorneys, not improve public health,” Purdue Pharma said in a statement.

“Purdue actively discourages the misprescribing and overprescribing of our medications,” it added. In addition to partnering with patient advocacy groups, it said, it also has joined law enforcement officials and addiction experts to combat abuse.

The wave of opiate addiction in the last decade is undeniable. As stated in the Chicago lawsuit, a key turning point came in 2000, when, with the backing of an industry-funded study group in Wisconsin, the organization that accredits US hospitals recognized pain as the “Fifth Vital Sign” that should be treated aggressively.

That change dovetails with another recent trend. Patients now are routinely asked to rate hospitals and physicians on, among other things, how well they treat pain. Under new pay-for-performance compensation systems for doctors and hospitals, those ratings are used to help calculate compensation.

The upshot is doctors’ paychecks are being affected by whether or not they prescribe pain pills, said Cheryl Bartlett, who was the Massachusetts commissioner of public health until this month.

“People are saying their child is going in for a sore throat and getting a narcotic pain prescription. People are going in for a routine dental extraction and getting a 30-day supply of a narcotic,” Bartlett said.

I never did.

Specialists say some of those patients have a genetic predisposition to addiction and get hooked on the pills. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates prescription drug abuse costs have soared to about $72 billion a year.

“It’s a scary combination of things that have taken us to a place that it is really overwhelming our health care system,” said Bartlett, whose agency proposed mandates on prescribing physicians similar to the Senate’s.

But such restrictions go against the grain for many doctors who say they know what’s best for their patients. Even doctors who battle addiction on the front lines of the epidemic don’t believe physicians should be required to frequently check medication histories of their patients.

“I don’t think you can put all of the onus on doctors. There are pill mills, but for the majority of the doctors, it’s not going to turn out they are the problem,” said Dr. Edward Bernstein, an expert on addiction who coordinates substance abuse treatment and referrals in the emergency room at Boston Medical Center. “That is what we went into medicine for, to alleviate pain and suffering.”

With her own tale of persistent pain, Steinberg, a resident of Lexington, is a dramatic spokeswoman for her side of the debate. The former technology executive suffered nerve and ligament damage in 1995 when, in her office near Harvard Square, she was struck by a toppling file cabinet. It left her with debilitating back pain; prescription opiates, non-narcotic drugs, and physical therapy helped ease the pain, but it has never gone away completely.

Her odyssey opened her eyes to another problem: Patients complaining of pain are often not believed by doctors. She started a support group in her local library. She became an activist for better access to pain drugs.

******************

Steinberg also publicly opposed Governor Deval Patrick’s ban this year on Zohydro, a high-dose hydrocodone drug that was approved by the FDA over furious objections from addiction specialists and despite a negative recommendation from its own advisory panel. Patrick’s decision was promptly overturned by a US District Court judge.

It will be a little discussed aspect of his woeful legacy.

In September, Steinberg participated in a “Chronic Pain Community Expert Roundtable” conference call sponsored by Zohydro’s manufacturer, Zogenix, describing the negative experiences of patients with pain. She said she received no compensation. The US Pain Foundation said it received about $6,000 in 2014 from Zogenix.

After the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed its bill to crack down on opiate abuse in May, the measure went to the House, where Steinberg said she and the Massachusetts Medical Society lobbied to soften some of its provisions.

“We believed the initial drafts of the [prescription monitoring program] legislation were overly broad and would have impeded seriously ill patients from receiving adequate medications in a timely fashion,” the Medical Society said in a statement. It said it has always broadly supported the monitoring program since its inception in 1992.

Representative Elizabeth A. Malia of Jamaica Plain, chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, was among House lawmakers who recognized those concerns. When the House bill emerged in the summer, requirements that insurance companies pay for treatment remained. The mandate that doctors regularly check their patients’ prescription histories for signs of abuse was gone.

“There was a lot of discussion about that, to not make that more difficult for people who have legitimate need to get the meds,” Malia said.

Those changes were part of the final bill that passed and was signed by Patrick.

The debate promises to continue. Governor-elect Charlie Baker, in a post-election interview with the Globe last month, said targeting prescription opiate abuse will be a major priority during the first six months of his administration. He said he was shocked that a doctor prescribed narcotic painkillers for his son after he broke his arm playing football. Baker said during his campaign that he supported a mandate that prescribers check prescription histories of their opiate patients annually.

I wish him well, I really do. 

The new governor can expect Cindy Steinberg to chime in. In fact, she already has, responding to Baker’s remarks in the Globe with a detailed post on public radio station WBUR’s website.

“What are people with pain supposed to do?” Steinberg told the Globe in an interview last week. “All they are asking is to be included in the conversation.”

Palestinians?

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I suppose if Johns Hopkins make make a mistake, anyone can. 

Time to fill that prescription: 

"Stronger sales at established stores helped Walgreen Co. trump expectations. Earnings of $809 million in the quarter ended Nov. 30 were up 16 percent from a year earlier. Revenue rose nearly 7 percent to $19.55 billion. The largest US drugstore chain also said a major acquisition that is expected to strengthen its global reach and buying clout should close next week. Analysts and investors say Walgreen will gain negotiating muscle with the purchase and another ownership stake it acquired in the pharmaceutical wholesaler AmerisourceBergen."

RefillWalgreens Pre$cription