This is an open letter to Jack Conway about the Democratic primary campaign for Governor of Kentucky

Geoffrey M Young

https://www.facebook.com/geoffrey.m.young.9?fref=nf

Geoffrey M Young

 

Public Debate Challenge #2: The death penalty.

This is an open letter to Jack Conway about the Democratic primary campaign for Governor of Kentucky, which officially started on Tuesday, January 27 when I filed the papers and named my new running mate for Lt. Governor, Johnathan Masters.

I don’t throw around the word “unethical” lightly, but your refusal to date to contact me to set up a series of debates is an unethical campaign tactic. It constitutes an admission that you don’t care whether Kentucky’s registered Democrats have all the information they need to decide who would make the better candidate for Governor, you or I. You also don’t seem to care whether they have enough information to decide who would make the better Governor of Kentucky, you or I.

You seem to be trying to coast to victory in the Dem primary on 5/19/15 using the pile of cash you’ve amassed over the last several months. Enabled by biased reporters such as Sam Youngman of the Lexington H-L, you seem to be trying to pretend I don’t exist. That’s unethical. I’ll say it again: It’s unethical for any candidate to refuse to debate with his opponent about the most important issues, especially when it comes to a Democratic primary. However many ethical failings the 4 Republican candidates might have – and they have a great many – at least none of them is unethical enough to pretend he has no opponents.

Stan Lee (R) used this unethical strategy against me in our campaign for the Ky House in 2012 in Fayette County. Elisabeth Jensen used the same unethical strategy against me in 2014 during the Dem primary. Her unethical strategy worked well enough to earn her the nomination against Andy Barr (R), but Barr went on to crush her in the general election because she was way out of her depth. She had no experience in politics and I had 35 years. I won 39% of the Dem vote on 5/20/14 anyway, even though she spent 9 times as much money. I’m quite convinced that I would’ve been able to beat Barr if I had received any support at all from the Dem Party Establishment in this state.

If you keep refusing to reply to my debate challenges, you’ll conclusively prove to the voters of Kentucky that you’re just one more unethical politician who doesn’t deserve their respect or their vote either in May or November (if you defeat me in May).

Has your position on the death penalty changed since December, 2011? http://fatlip.leoweekly.com/…/jack-conway-wants-to-continu…/

Public Debate Challenge #2 – Geoff Young (D) vs. Jack Conway (D)

The topic: “Should the death penalty in Kentucky be abolished forever?”

Location: Any indoor facility in Kentucky that can accommodate live TV coverage

Time: 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm, precise time TBD

Possible dates: February 3, 4, 6, 9, or 10, TBD by mutual agreement

Sponsoring organization: the Kentucky Democratic Party

Moderator: TBD

Please call me at (859) 278-4966 at your earliest convenience to hammer out these details.

Campaign web site: young4ky.com

Jaime Montalvo–Guest Editorial WDRB, Louisville, Ky.


Guest POV | Medical Marijuana

Posted: Jan 28, 2015 9:33 AM CST Updated: Jan 28, 2015 3:55 PM CST


WDRB Guest Editorial By Jaime Montalvo

 

I have Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve been fighting this disease for eight years.

I have muscle spasms, tremor uncontrollably, and I’m scared. Cannabis relieves these symptoms.

In Kentucky, thousands of Veterans suffer from PTSD and haven’t responded to treatment.

Sadly, too many choose suicide as a last resort for escaping their demons. I have personal combat veteran friends who testify that smoking Cannabis relieves them within seconds after waking up from horrendous nightmares.

Kentucky has the highest cancer death rate of all 50 states. You probably know someone who has had cancer. Cancer treatments also bring some of the most debilitating side effects. Twenty thousand Kentuckians a year face this diagnosis. Marijuana has been studied and proven to relieve these effects. The nausea brought about by chemotherapy is relieved within seconds of inhaling Cannabis.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana reports over 90,000 individuals suffer from epilepsy in our area. Like cancer treatments, medications used to manage seizures have debilitating side effects. Not every patient can tolerate the treatments, and the drugs often stop working. Cannabis oil has been heralded for decreasing certain patients’ seizures from 300 per week to zero or one.

Cannabis is helping us cope with our symptoms. Please help us by contacting your legislator at 800-372-7181 asking them to support medical marijuana legislation.

I’m Jaime Montalvo, founder of Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana, and that’s my point of view.

 

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky heart patient relocates to Michigan, receives medical marijuana legally and then an experimental pacemaker … it gets worse from there!

Kentucky – January 19, 2015

 

Erin Vu - pacemaker no leads

Above:  Nanostim™ Leadless Pacemaker

Ms. Erin Grossman Vu, a legal resident of Kentucky who has been disabled for some years with congenital heart disease, relocated on 10-5-2013 to Michigan where she was living with relatives when she was accepted into a Medical Marijuana Program.

“I was first diagnosed with Supraventricular tachycardia. My first event happened when I was still working as a nurse. My heart rate popped up to 250’s & sustained. I’ve been shocked by the paddles. Have been seen in every ER in Metro Louisville for the SVT I was having. I had three cardiac ablations done here in Louisville and the fourth was done in Lansing by Dr. Ip.  After the 4th ablation, I began having slow heart rate events where my heart would drop to 32 bpm no warning & have to sit down or will pass out. Blood can clot at 32 bpm.”

She is one of less than 350 souls in the Nation to have this type of experimental device implanted directly into the heart on 7-10-14. 

She said that her new heart problem arose before moving and Sick Sinus Syndrome occurred when she was unable to use her CPAP machine during an ice storm and electric was down.

She was selected to participate in this St. Jude Medical study by the Nation’s leading device implant Cardiologist, Dr. John Ip of Lansing, MI.

In December she returned to Kentucky and re-established her citizenship here.  She had been referred to a Cardiologist in Lexington Kentucky for follow up care.   However, after the Lexington Cardiologist received her records he refused to treat her and she has yet to be evaluated by him.

In December she was treated for sustained bradycardia, a slow heart rate, at Louisville’s Norton Surburban Hospital on 12-17-14.

Pacemakers are supposed to prevent slow heart rates however she still continues to have cardiac events, chest pain, and shortness of air.

St. Jude Medical and the Lexington Cardiologist (who shall remain unnamed)  have refused to answer why the patient had a slow heart rate with a pacemaker and have refused to give her care at this point.
St. Jude Medical has refused to investigate as to why a cardiologist would refuse to see a pacemaker patient under their study. The FDA has been contacted about the product manufacturer, St. Jude Medical.

 

“I’m supposed to be interrogated by February 6th.  I don’t have access to the technology needed to communicate with my device.  St. Jude Medical, the manufacturer set  me up to have care assumed by a very specific cardiologist in Lexington. Only about fifteen people in Kentucky have this device.  I’ve had no resolution, I’ve called all the proper places.”

“The Lexington Cardiologist won’t see me, period, as patient or study participant.  The Lexington study nurse told me I can’t have two cardiologists. The ONLY reason I’ve been verbally given, doesn’t make sense for a “study”, I would have had to cancel a cardiac stress test I had done six days ago. I’ve been in chest pain since 12-17-14 when I had a sustained low heart rate with a pacemaker.”

At this time it seems that Ms. Grossman Vu is a seriously ill Heart Patient without a Doctor to care for her.  The question remains whether or not this is due to the Medical Marijuana designation she received in Michigan, or the fact that the “leadless pacemaker’s” is in experimental status.  That being said, she was set up with a Lexington Physician who specialized in this according to her Physician in Lansing Michigan.  So what IS THE REAL REASON why she is being rejected by this Cardiologist?

This issue will be followed up.

Erin Grossman Vu can be reached at Stjudemedicalpatient@yahoo.com

 

smk

Why Is a Liberal Professor Helping Mitch McConnell Fight for Coal Companies?

By Jonathan Chait

 

Mitch McConnell, who is leading the fight to stop the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, pointed out last week that he has a surprising ally: “Iconic liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe — who was President Obama’s constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School — said he agrees.” The lawsuit to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the greenhouse gas emissions of existing power plants would, if successful, close out the sole realistic channel that might allow the United States to comply with its international climate commitments, and thus likely doom any international agreement to limit the effects of climate change. The endorsement of Tribe, a famous liberal law professor, has become the right’s favorite talking point. Last December, The Wall Street Journal devoted an entire editorial to extolling this smackdown of Obama from an unimpeachably favorable source. “Professor Tribe delivered a constitutional rebuke this week to the Obama Administration,” the Journal gloated, “that is remarkable coming from a titan of the liberal professoriate.” Reason, the Daily Caller, Jonathan Adler, among others, have likewise touted Tribe’s defection to their side.

None of these conservatives managed to note, even parenthetically, what may be a salient fact: Tribe is being paid for his advocacy by a coal company called Peabody Energy. Only the Journal comes close to disclosing the relationship by noting, “Mr. Tribe joined with the world’s largest private coal company,” though “joined with” makes it sound like Tribe volunteered to endorse Peabody’s argument, as opposed to being hired to do so.

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Tribe is playing an important legal role, which has to be evaluated on its own terms. Other law professors, like Richard Revesz, Jody Freeman, and Richard Lazarus, have called Tribe’s legal argument frivolous and absurd. Tribe has responded. But aside from the legal case Tribe has devised, his advocacy is also playing a crucial public role in the debate — even liberal professor Laurence Tribe noted that Obama’s climate regulations must be unconstitutional, which sounds very different from even coal company lawyer Lawrence Tribe agrees that Obama’s climate regulations must be unconstitutional. Should anybody put weight on Tribe’s endorsement of the anti-Obama lawsuit, any more than they should have taken Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz’s word for it that O.J. Simpson was innocent?

Tribe, over email, insisted that he personally agrees with his arguments on behalf of Peabody. “I agreed to accept Peabody as a client only on the condition that I’d continue to speak my mind even if not everything I’d say would be to Peabody’s liking,” he wrote.

What makes Tribe’s defense a little strange is that his advocacy has not been limited to narrow legal arguments against the constitutionality of the proposed regulations. Tribe has argued for preserving coal’s cherished place in American economic life. In his legal paper, he writes:

[B]oth Democratic and Republican Administrations have promoted the prudent use of domestic coal in order to reduce dependence on imported oil. In contrast, the Proposed Rule will require a dramatic decline in coal-fired generation of electricity, in order to implement EPA’s system of state-by-state mandates. In fact, under EPA’s plan, the agency envisions that coal generation would be eliminated altogether in 12 states. The Proposed Rule thus reverses policies that reach back to John F. Kennedy. As Hillary Clinton observed in 2007, “I think you have got to admit that coal — of which we have a great and abundant supply in America — is not going away.”

And in his testimony before Congress last week, Tribe calls the administration’s plan to reduce coal use “radical”:

There should be no mistake about how radical EPA’s proposal to phase out the use of coal to generate electrical power actually is. Secretary of State John Kerry described U.S. policy regarding coal-fired power plants: “We’re going to take a bunch of them out of commission.”

He argues instead for subsidizing carbon-capture technology as an alternative means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

Today, greenhouse gas emissions from state-of-the-art coal plants are materially (25 percent) lower than those of traditional power plants, due to improved boilers, increased efficiencies, and other innovations. The United States could also support carbon-capture and storage technologies. An “all of the above” energy policy can support all forms of domestic energy production that will minimize carbon emissions, protect consumers and American jobs, and ensure that the U.S. remains independent from unreliable foreign sources of energy. But burning the Constitution is one thing we should not do as part of our national energy policy.

This is an argument made energetically by coal companies but rejected by energy analysts. Tribe is right that coal has grown less dirty than it used to be, but it’s still far dirtier than any other source of electricity.

The Clean Power Plan would allow states to invest in carbon-capture strategies, and they would dearly love this. But it’s a highly expensive technology that isn’t competitive with other forms of clean energy, and therefore isn’t expected to be widely used, because the regulations encourage states to find the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. Tribe is advocating a climate policy that makes no economic sense from any standpoint except the self-interest of the coal industry.

I asked Tribe if his guideline about speaking his mind applies to his broader defense of coal or only to his narrow legal arguments. Tribe responded by insisting he was only making narrow legal arguments. His response on this point simply makes no sense to me and seems to contradict the plain meaning of his words. But I will share the whole thing and allow readers to judge:

On the contrary, my advocacy has been confined to arguments about the legality of EPA’s regulatory strategy. In my congressional testimony last Tuesday, for instance, I said: “I want to make clear at the outset that my testimony addresses only the lawfulness of what EPA proposes to do; I claim no expertise in, nor will I be testifying about, the pros and cons of EPA’s plan as a response to the issues posed by climate change. My conclusion as a legal scholar and student of the Constitution is that EPA’s proposal not only exceeds the agency’s statutory and legal authority but also directly violates limits enacted by Congress to restrict EPA’s power and raises serious constitutional questions.”

The fact that the paper I submitted last December quoted statements by Hillary Clinton and others about how, under present policies, “coal . . . is not going away,” doesn’t change that one iota. Those statements were historically accurate (and indeed uncontroversial) descriptions of the situation as it has existed up to now, and they are relevant to my Fifth Amendment point. As I said in my testimony, “a central point of the Fifth Amendment’s combined requirements of Due Process and Just Compensation is that, except when phasing out intrinsically harmful activity that injures identifiable individuals or businesses, the Government is not free simply to pick those whose investment-backed expectations are to be eliminated for the greater good. When regulating an entity out of existence generates diffuse benefits for the public at large that exceed the targeted costs imposed on the unlucky few, the Fifth Amendment’s basic teaching is that the few should be justly compensated by the many. The point is not that the Government is bound by a constitutional duty not to change course — no constitutional principle freezes the Government in its tracks. But when the Government’s change in course drastically undercuts investment-backed expectations that amount to property interests, the Government is bound by a constitutional duty to pay, whether under the rubric of just compensation or under the rubric of due process.”

The same is true of my quotation from Secretary Kerry about the administration’s intent to “take a bunch of [coal-powered plants] out of commission.” That’s exactly what Secretary Kerry said, and I quoted it just to underscore the inaccuracy of the claims that the EPA Clean Power Plan isn’t targeted at that goal. I haven’t expressed any personal opinions or made any policy arguments “on behalf of a coal-inclusive energy strategy” but have made factually indisputable statements about what’s going on insofar as it might be relevant to my legal analysis. And, when you refer to my “policy views on coal,” I truly don’t know what you’re referencing. I have expressed no such views.

I followed up by asking Tribe if he would disclose what percentage of his income has come from energy companies. He replied, “It’s a very small percentage. And I’m afraid I don’t have any more time to devote to this dialogue today, so I’ll need to beg off on further questions.”

CONTINUE READING…

The process of legalizing gaming in Kentucky

 

Image result for kentucky gambling

 

 

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015 7:30 am

By JAMES MCNAIR Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting

LOUISVILLE — What does it take to legalize casinos in Kentucky?

According to court rulings and attorney general opinions, Section 226 of the state Constitution would have to be amended. That section does not explicitly outlaw “casinos,” but forbids “lotteries” other than the state lottery. Lotteries are principally regarded as the sale of tickets and awarding of prizes to winning ticket holders.

But lotteries are also defined as “any scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance.” That was the view taken by state courts and former Attorney General Greg Stumbo when, in 2005, he wrote an opinion saying, “The case law is clear; to be a “lottery,” the winner must be chosen “purely by chance.”

Somehow, the “purely by chance” doctrine was applied to card games as well as the play-and-pray games of slot machines, roulette and dice. Poker, blackjack and baccarat players would beg to disagree, as success at those games require a high degree of skill to go with elements of chance.

In any case, amending the Constitution has become the go-to route to bring casinos to Kentucky. A bill must be introduced in the General Assembly, and at least 60 percent of each chamber — the House and the Senate — would have to vote for the bill. From there, Kentucky voters would have their say on the proposed amendment. A simple majority would make it law.

Two such attempts in the past three years have failed. In 2012, a bill supported by Gov. Steve Beshear was approved by the Democratic-controlled House but rejected by the Republican-controlled Senate, despite the co-sponsorship of Sen. Damon Thayer, who went on to become Senate majority leader. In 2014, several bills were issued in both chambers, and all died in committees.

This year’s bill calls for a maximum of six casinos in the state, no more than one in any Congressional district and only in counties of at least 85,000 in population. Its sponsor? Stumbo, now speaker of the House.

CONTINUE READING…

Farmers, Industry Leaders Excited About Future of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky

KENTUCKY — Kentucky Hemp is coming back. Fiber, seed, fuel, oil, and artisan products are simmering in the recently revived hemp industry.

 

kentucky-set-to-be-first-state-to-legalize-hemp-production.si

 

SEE GRAPHIC HERE

Research and debate about bringing hemp back has circulated since the 1990s, when other countries like Canada and Australia re-legalized hemp production. Finally, last year, the 2014 Farm Bill provided a framework for U.S. state agricultural departments and universities to plant hemp seed on U.S. soil as long as individual state law allows it.

Now, Kentuckians are turning their research and theories into a promising hemp industry.

“We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” said Josh Hendrix of the newly formed Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA). “We haven’t had a hemp industry for over 70 years.”

He says research is necessary to reduce risk to farmers. His organization and others, who have participated in hemp trials, are testing for the best seeds to plant, and the best way to harvest and process hemp crops. Part of KYHIA’s mission is to disseminate its research and provide education about the hemp industry.

Hemp production was deterred in the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. Then, in 1970, the Controlled Substance Act coupled hemp with the drug, marijuana, making hemp illegal as a narcotic. Hemp does not hold the drug’s THC properties, but the plant is from the same genus, cannabis, and looks similar.

Before 1937, 98% of hemp seed used in the U.S. came from Kentucky. Now, they have no seeds. Hemp trials have used seeds imported from other countries.

“2014 was a celebratory year, just to get seed in the ground,” said Hendrix. “2015 has seen a nice expansion, with 326 applications.”

Kentucky farmers can submit applications to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to participate in the hemp revival. They must provide production plans to be approved, and pass a background check to appease the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Kentucky U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with two Oregon senators, submitted a bill on January 8, 2015, to decouple hemp from marijuana, and remove hemp production from DEA enforcement.

“We don’t know if or when it might become a legal crop,” said David Williams, of the University of Kentucky. “We also do not know how large an industry the market will support. We extrapolate based on data from other markets, but we cannot know exactly what the market will be in the U.S.”

A Promising Market

Kentuckians have deep roots with the hemp plant, and have grand plans for bringing the industry back. Industries, like tobacco and coal, are facing hard times, and hemp may offer both profitable alternatives.

Hemp advocates, like Hendrix, also see hemp as a crop to sustain dwindling family farms, and increase young and new farmers. Artisans can use hemp for cloth, beauty products, teas, and countless other items. The organic market for hemp is also highly profitable and growing.

Seventh generation family farmer, Andy Graves, grows conventional grains like soy, wheat, and corn. His generation is the first in his family to not grow hemp. The Graves family was the top hemp seed producer when hemp was legal, and is set on renewing that legacy.

“The market is so big,” Graves said. “We haven’t even scratched the surface.”

Graves is also the CEO of Atalo Holdings, Inc. The group contracted 5 farms to grow hemp in 2014 and for 2015 they’ve expanded to 26 farms. Atalo has three subsidiaries: Hemp Oil Kentucky, Kenex, and Kentucky Hemp Research and Development — each focuses on seed, fiber, and research and development, respectively.

Oil from seed, Graves said, has a quick return. Once Atalo has a revenue stream from oil, it will invest in fiber operations. Fiber operations have a higher barrier to entry because of the cost of new machinery.

Hemp seed can be harvested using the same equipment as conventional grain. As far as processing, Graves said that seed pressing equipment that is currently used for chia and sesame seeds can also be used for hemp. He will add chia and sesame to his portfolio as well.

Graves is using the most popular hemp seed for oil: Finola, from Finland. Atalo has guaranteed a no loss crop by securing a deal with Hemp Oil Canada to buy any seed Atalo cannot sell.

‘We haven’t scratched the surface of the market.’

Atalo has been approved for 356 acres of hemp, and is hoping for up to 500. 10-12 acres will be devoted to organic hemp seed production. Their research and development subsidiary aims to be an educational asset to the hemp industry in the U.S., Graves says.

Hendrix, Graves, and Williams all emphasize that they are building a new industry from the ground up. It will take research and time, but, Hendrix believes they have “the right people, the right place, and the right time” to build the industry and create jobs.

The Hemp Capital of the U.S.

Other groups germinating in the Kentucky hemp industry include The Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association, which focuses on biomass and high capacitance graphene nano-sheets; and Sunstrand LLC, which focuses on industrial fiber. There are many others cropping up. Stay tuned, says Graves, new developments are breaking on Kentucky soil.

The laws may not be set yet, but hemp advocates in Kentucky are confident that their state will soon be known for more than bourbon, and re-claim their name as the ‘Hemp Capital of the U.S.’

CONTINUE READING…

JOIN THE KENTUCKY INDUSTRIAL HEMP ASSOCIATION (KYIHA) HERE

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

 

 

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/us-news/video/2015/feb/24/homan-square-chicago-black-site-video

 

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

While US military and intelligence interrogation impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles and even a cage – focuses on American citizens, most often poor, black and brown. ‘When you go in,’ Brian Jacob Church told the Guardian, ‘nobody knows what happened to you.’ Video: Phil Batta for the Guardian; editing: Mae Ryan

 

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

 

Held for hours at secret Chicago ‘black site': ‘You’re a hostage. It’s kidnapping’

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The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

Chicago’s Homan Square ‘black site': surveillance, military-style vehicles and a metal cage

 

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.

 

Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.

Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.

“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

Much remains hidden about Homan Square. The Chicago police department did not respond to the Guardian’s questions about the facility. But after the Guardian published this story, the department provided a statement insisting, without specifics, that there is nothing untoward taking place at what it called the “sensitive” location, home to undercover units.

“CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property,” the statement said, something numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied.

“There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square,” it continued.

The Chicago police statement did not address how long into an arrest or detention those records are generated or their availability to the public. A department spokesperson did not respond to a detailed request for clarification.

When a Guardian reporter arrived at the warehouse on Friday, a man at the gatehouse outside refused any entrance and would not answer questions. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” said the man, who refused to give his name.

A former Chicago police superintendent and a more recently retired detective, both of whom have been inside Homan Square in the last few years in a post-police capacity, said the police department did not operate out of the warehouse until the late 1990s.

But in detailing episodes involving their clients over the past several years, lawyers described mad scrambles that led to the closed doors of Homan Square, a place most had never heard of previously. The facility was even unknown to Rob Warden, the founder of Northwestern University Law School’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, until the Guardian informed him of the allegations of clients who vanish into inherently coercive police custody.

“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

‘Never going to see the light of day’: the search for the Nato Three, the head wound, the worried mom and the dead man

Homan Square

 

‘They were held incommunicado for much longer than I think should be permitted in this country – anywhere – but particularly given the strong constitutional rights afforded to people who are being charged with crimes,” said Sarah Gelsomino, the lawyer for Brian Jacob Church. Photograph: Phil Batta/Guardian

Jacob Church learned about Homan Square the hard way. On May 16 2012, he and 11 others were taken there after police infiltrated their protest against the Nato summit. Church says officers cuffed him to a bench for an estimated 17 hours, intermittently interrogating him without reading his Miranda rights to remain silent. It would take another three hours – and an unusual lawyer visit through a wire cage – before he was finally charged with terrorism-related offenses at the nearby 11th district station, where he was made to sign papers, fingerprinted and photographed.

In preparation for the Nato protest, Church, who is from Florida, had written a phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on his arm as a precautionary measure. Once taken to Homan Square, Church asked explicitly to call his lawyers, and said he was denied.

“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.

Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again,’” Church said.

Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly, known as the ‘Nato Three’ Brian Jacob Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly, known as the ‘Nato Three’. Photograph: AP/Cook County sheriff’s office

Though the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.

They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking.

After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.

It’s almost like they throw a black bag over your head and make you disappear for a day or two

Brian Jacob Church

The access that Nato Three attorneys received to Homan Square was an exception to the rule, even if Jacob Church’s experience there was not.

Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn’t been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients’ whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.

One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej’s account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

Bartmes, another Chicago attorney, said that in September 2013 she got a call from a mother worried that her 15-year-old son had been picked up by police before dawn. A sympathetic sergeant followed up with the mother to say her son was being questioned at Homan Square in connection to a shooting and would be released soon. When hours passed, Bartmes traveled to Homan Square, only to be refused entry for nearly an hour.

An officer told her, “Well, you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous,” Bartmes recalled. Told to leave, she said she would return in an hour if the boy was not released. He was home, and not charged, after “12, maybe 13” hours in custody.

On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. After publication, the Cook County medical examiner told the Guardian that the cause of death was determined to be heroin intoxication.

Homan Square is hardly concerned exclusively with terrorism. Several special units operate outside of it, including the anti-gang and anti-drug forces. If police “want money, guns, drugs”, or information on the flow of any of them onto Chicago’s streets, “they bring them there and use it as a place of interrogation off the books,” Hill said.

‘That scares the hell out of me’: a throwback to Chicago police abuse with a post-9/11 feel

Homan Square

 

‘The real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,’ criminologist Tracy Siska told the Guardian. Photograph: Chandler West/Guardian

A former Chicago detective and current private investigator, Bill Dorsch, said he had not heard of the police abuses described by Church and lawyers for other suspects who had been taken to Homan Square. He has been permitted access to the facility to visit one of its main features, an evidence locker for the police department. (“I just showed my retirement star and passed through,” Dorsch said.)

Transferring detainees through police custody to deny them access to legal counsel, would be “a career-ender,” Dorsch said. “To move just for the purpose of hiding them, I can’t see that happening,” he told the Guardian.

Richard Brzeczek, Chicago’s police superintendent from 1980 to 1983, who also said he had no first-hand knowledge of abuses at Homan Square, said it was “never justified” to deny access to attorneys.

“Homan Square should be on the same list as every other facility where you can call central booking and say: ‘Can you tell me if this person is in custody and where,’” Brzeczek said.

“If you’re going to be doing this, then you have to include Homan Square on the list of facilities that prisoners are taken into and a record made. It can’t be an exempt facility.”

Indeed, Chicago police guidelines appear to ban the sorts of practices Church and the lawyers said occur at Homan Square.

A directive titled “Processing Persons Under Department Control” instructs that “investigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process,” and arrestees must be allowed “a reasonable number of telephone calls” to attorneys swiftly “after their arrival at the first place of custody.” Another directive, “Arrestee and In-Custody Communications,” says police supervisors must “allow visitation by attorneys.”

Attorney Scott Finger said that the Chicago police tightened the latter directive in 2012 after quiet complaints from lawyers about their lack of access to Homan Square. Without those changes, Church’s attorneys might not have gained entry at all. But that tightening – about a week before Church’s arrest – did not prevent Church’s prolonged detention without a lawyer, nor the later cases where lawyers were unable to enter.

The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.

On a smaller scale, Homan Square is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,” said Andrea Lyon, a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School. When she practiced law in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, she said, “police used the term ‘shadow site’” to refer to the quasi-disappearances now in place at Homan Square.

I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and hold somebody before booking for hours and hours

James Trainum, former detective, Washington DC

“Back when I first started working on torture cases and started representing criminal defendants in the early 1970s, my clients often told me they’d been taken from one police station to another before ending up at Area 2 where they were tortured,” said Taylor, the civil-rights lawyer most associated with pursuing the notoriously abusive Area 2 police commander Jon Burge. “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”

Police often have off-site facilities to have private conversations with their informants. But a retired Washington DC homicide detective, James Trainum, could not think of another circumstance nationwide where police held people incommunicado for extended periods.

“I’ve never known any kind of organized, secret place where they go and just hold somebody before booking for hours and hours and hours. That scares the hell out of me that that even exists or might exist,” said Trainum, who now studies national policing issues, to include interrogations, for the Innocence Project and the Constitution Project.

Regardless of departmental regulations, police frequently deny or elide access to lawyers even at regular police precincts, said Solowiej of First Defense Legal Aid. But she said the outright denial was exacerbated at Chicago’s secretive interrogation and holding facility: “It’s very, very rare for anyone to experience their constitutional rights in Chicago police custody, and even more so at Homan Square,” Solowiej said.

Church said that one of his more striking memories of Homan Square was the “big, big vehicles” police had inside the complex that “look like very large MRAPs that they use in the Middle East.”

Cook County, home of Chicago, has received some 1,700 pieces of military equipment from a much-criticized Pentagon program transferring military gear to local police. It includes a Humvee, according to a local ABC News report.

Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, said that Homan Square, as well as the unrelated case of ex-Guantánamo interrogator and retired Chicago detective Richard Zuley, showed the lines blurring between domestic law enforcement and overseas military operations.

“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” Siska said.

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

 

CONTINUE READING…

Student Free-speech Bill Passes Kentucky Senate

Posted: Fri 8:51 AM, Feb 20, 2015

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A bill touted by its supporters as providing a guide to Kentucky’s public schools on the religious and political free-speech protections of students has passed the state Senate.

The bill, which advanced on a 30-4 vote Thursday, is backed by The Family Foundation. Its executive director, Kent Ostrander, says it puts “a stake in the ground” for the free speech and religious liberty of students.

The measure is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. ACLU Program Director Derek Selznick says it’s an unneeded attempt to overregulate something that has First Amendment protections.

The measure wades into controversial subjects such as students wanting to thank God at public school events or wanting to pray before athletic events.

The bill now heads to the Kentucky House for consideration.

CONTINUE READING…

Medical marijuana bill likely dead, Stumbo says

Gregory A. Hall, ghall@courier-journal.com 2:48 p.m. EST February 12, 2015

 

 

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. – House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s medical marijuana bill wasn’t going to pass this year anyway, he said Thursday, so his House Bill 3 is likely dead after no vote was taken in a committee hearing.

“It’s not going to pass this session,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “Everybody knows that.”

The purpose of presenting the bill anyway to the House Health and Welfare Committee was to promote discussion on the issue that Stumbo said he believes will become law someday.

RELATED | Bills would legalize medical marijuana in Indiana

“Obviously, there’s a national trend,” Stumbo said, after earlier saying he’s been convinced of the need by families in his district who have loved ones battling epilepsy.

Stumbo said he expects the issue to be revisited later this year before next year’s session.

“I think we got the ball rolling,” he said. “And I think it’s rolling in the right direction now.”

RELATED | Letter | Cannibis legislation

A similar bill passed the House health committee last year but never was put to a vote on the House floor.

Supporters of medical marijuana say it can help treat maladies such as post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, seizures, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Critics of medical marijuana say generally that medical use is not supported by scientific evidence and ultimately leads to recreational abuse and illegal trafficking under the guise of medicine.

While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the U.S. Justice Department has issued guidelines under which it wouldn’t interfere with state marijuana laws — if certain requirements, including having regulatory structure, preventing sales to minors and preventing marijuana from getting to gangs — are met.

Almost two dozen states have laws allowing medical marijuana, not including the District of Columbia. Although Kentucky isn’t one of those, the issue has been supported strongly in previous years’ Bluegrass Polls. Four states allow recreational use.

Reporter Gregory A. Hall can be reached at (502) 582-4087. Follow him on Twitter at @gregoryahall.

CONTINUE READING…

Bats with White Nose Syndrome: An Interview with David Blehert

 

 

 

 

On the outskirts of Madison, Wisconsin at the United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, David Blehert sits in an office that overlooks a prairie restoration project. Swallows—looking to my amateur eyes an awful lot like the bats Blehert studies—nosedive over the tall grass, missing his window by mere inches.

Blehert is the branch chief of the Wildlife Disease Diagnostic Laboratories, where he and his colleagues investigate the causes of death in wildlife brought to their facilities from across the United States. Their goal is to diagnose and minimize the impact of disease on wildlife.

I visited Blehert to talk about his work with bats with White-Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease that’s killed over six million bats in the past nine years. Blehert and his colleagues isolated the pathogen that causes the disease here in 2008. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

JSTOR DAILY: Tell me about your work with bats.

David Blehert: I’ve been at the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center for about 12 years now. White-Nose Syndrome in bats has been a large part of my research program here since 2008, when we described the fungus that causes the disease.

White-Nose Syndrome is a wildlife disease impacting only hibernating bats. An agency like the USGS-National Wildlife Health Center has expertise in wildlife population, structure, and management, so understanding wildlife diseases like White-Nose Syndrome is central to our mission.

White-Nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans… Is it coincidental that the species name sounds like destruction?

No.

Why did this disease emerge now?

Think about all the global travel and trade we see today. I believe we’re building a very strong case that this is likely a pathogen of European origin—with which European bats for the most part co-exist—that was inadvertently brought to the US either by a tourist or through trade. It falls under that guise of pathogen pollution or introduction of a novel pathogen into a naïve host ecosystem. Think of it like an invasive species that’s behaving out of check.

In the winter of 2005–2006, a recreational caver took a photograph of a bat that had white fungus around its nose, but he didn’t know the significance of his photograph of it at the time.

In the winter of 2006–2007, New York State biologists were conducting a semi-annual survey of endangered Indiana bats, and they saw in five caves near Albany, New York either that the bats were missing or they were dead and on the floor.

The next winter, in January 2008, we started getting samples. Four or five months later, by April or May of 2008, we identified the pathogen. I think our first publication in Science came out online in October 2008, and then ended up in the Charles Darwin anniversary print issue, in January of 2009.

Here we are a mere ten years later, and you’ve mentioned that six to seven million bats have died.

Yes, it really has been unprecedented in terms of the rapidity with which this disease has spread… I’m very proud of our track record in terms of defining the basic biology of this pathogen and answering fundamental questions to demonstrate in the laboratory that it causes the disease.

We have some ideas now on the mechanisms by which it kills bats. We’ve made great strides in terms of characterizing how the pathogen has the potential to exist perpetually in these caves so that bats pick it up.

We’ve also defined transmission pathways that spread it bat to bat, though they likely also pick it up in the environment as well. That means that if you are a biologist or recreational caver that goes into a cave and steps in soil that harbors these long-living spores of the fungus, you need to decontaminate your shoes so that you don’t track it to a new cave.

So humans spread it around?

Yes. Since we can’t control the movement of wild animals, we’ve looked to what we can do to enact bio-security measures so that a human does not inadvertently transport spores to a site at greater distance than where you would expect bats to gradually move the pathogen on their own. To date, we have not observed or documented any long-distance jumps of the fungus, and so I think that’s good evidence that what management we can enact is working.

You mentioned that White-Nose Syndrome is “unprecedented” in terms of its destructive force. How would it compare to, say, Colony Collapse Disorder in bees?

It’s quite different, actually. First of all, after as many years, I still don’t think we have a clear cause for Colony Collapse Disorder. Numerous causes have been proposed and it could be some combination of those.

The other major difference is that the bees that are most susceptible, honey bees, are a domesticated, non-native bee species. They’re not “wildlife.”

European honey bees were imported to the United States over 100 years ago and are still to this day maintained under husbandry conditions. You’re talking about something that’s raised in captivity and harbored or maintained by humans, so there are direct management applications.

You’ve been able to identify which fungus is causing White-Nose Syndrome in the bats, but how does it actually kill them?

One of the interesting properties and something that makes this fungus unique, is that it cannot grow above 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

A bat’s body temperature is about 98 to a 100 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s metabolically active. But in the wintertime, bats in temperate regions of North America build up fat reserves and go into a hibernation period for about six months of the year from late October through April.

While they’re hibernating, their body temperature is about the same as the inside of your refrigerator, or close to about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. This lower body temperature allows the fungus to grow.

But hibernation is complicated. Bats go into hibernation for a period of about two to three weeks, and then they come out of hibernation for an hour and then they go back into hibernation for two to three weeks, and then come out for about an hour. They even mate sometimes during those arousal periods.

These arousals, even though they’re not well understood, are believed to be essential to their physiological health.

One of the things people have noticed is that when bats get White-Nose Syndrome, they come out of hibernation more frequently. Their hibernation periods are shortened and their arousal frequency increases.

This disruption to the normal rhythms of hibernation causes them to consume the fat reserves required for them to survive winter.

So could they be starving to death when they have White Nose Syndrome?

That’s one theory.

The disease is called White-Nose Syndrome because they get blooms of fungal growth on their noses. But the primary area where the fungus colonizes the bat is on their un-haired wings. Their wings are basically just skin… The scientific Order bat is chiroptera, which means “hand wing.”

That’s where the fungus starts to grow, on the wing?

Right, and the skin that comprises the wing comprises over 80% of all skin on the bat, so it’s this massive surface area and it’s literally two cell layers thick. It’s exquisitely delicate, and it’s full of nerves and blood vessels and muscle. It’s quite a remarkable structure. It’s the only mammal that is capable of self-powered flight, and it’s a very different flight strategy than that used by birds, even in terms of their basic musculature.

The fungus colonizes this exquisitely delicate skin… and causes profound damage, impacting the ability of the animal to fly, which it has to do in order to feed itself. In addition, these wings also mediate functions like release of CO2 while the animals are hibernating and otherwise breathing at very low rates.

They might only be taking two, three, four breaths a minute during hibernation, and so they can passively off-load some percentage of the CO2 that accumulates in their blood through their wing skin.

There are all sorts of complex physiological functions [of the wing membrane], and that’s what we believe is the heart of the issue, that White-Nose Syndrome is disrupting this delicately balanced physiology of an animal that has to survive for six months of every year without eating.

So the fungus colonizes the skin on their wings, interfering with their ability to fly, and therefore to eat. That sounds mighty grim. Is there any hope?

We have shown both through laboratory and animal work that we did in collaboration with a bat rehabilitator that if you take a bat sick with White-Nose Syndrome out of hibernation, give it a warm environment and feed it, it will get better on its own, so further medical intervention is not required. Other people have gone in to caves and put wing-band markers on hibernating bats that visibly had White-Nose Syndrome, and they’ve later recaptured those bats in the springtime, and they’ve apparently healed or not shown signs of the fungus.

It’s not necessarily an easy route for a bat to cure the infection on its own, but it is possible. We’ve seen that European bats commonly have the fungus on them, and they even develop lesions that under the microscope are indistinguishable from those that we see in North American bats, but they just don’t progress to the point that they kill the bat.

That could be a consequence of those bats having some immunological resistance to the fungus or the environmental conditions under which those European bats hibernate being less conducive to rapid growth and progression of the fungal disease.

European bat populations tend to be much smaller than North American bat populations. The bat populations most heavily impacted by White-Nose Syndrome in eastern North America often numbered tens to even hundreds of thousands of bats per large cave system. In Europe those bat populations, instead of being tens to hundreds of thousands are tens to hundreds of bats.

It could be that as our US populations are drastically reduced to similar levels… there’s lesser amplification of the fungus, so that when bats do get infected, they get infected later in the year, with fewer spores, and the disease does not progress to that highly lethal level.

Then, maybe in the future the bat populations will rebound to some point where they reach whatever balance they can maintain with the fungus.

But a big challenge here [in terms of conservation] is that bats are very, very different from birds or even rodents. Some people call them flying mice, but they are not. Unlike birds or rodents, bats have a very low reproductive rate, producing only one offspring per year, so population recovery, if possible, will likely be slow.

Yes, bats have a bad reputation.

I think that genetically, they may be more closely related to marine mammals than they are to mice. You wouldn’t necessarily think this from looking at them… The ones that are heavily impacted in North America, they weigh six to eight grams, which is about as much as two or three pennies.

Oh, wow, these bats are tiny.

Yes, and their bodies are about two inches, total wingspan is approximately 6 to 8 inches.

Two inches? Their bodies are two inches?

Yes.

Everybody’s so afraid of them!

I know. They’re really cute actually. Nonetheless, these animals live 10 to 20 years and they only have one baby per year, so for an animal that has a high level of parental care and low reproductive rates, their populations do not recover quickly.

When you’re managing wildlife, you have to think in terms of the population because you can’t readily manage populations by treating individual animals. That’s something we do for our pets or our kids or ourselves. But if your goal is to find an economically viable solution to maintaining entire species, you have to look towards something that benefits more than individuals.

What are some of the things people are trying to do to counter the devastation of White-Nose Syndrome?

Something that we’re looking at now is to develop a better understanding of how environmental conditions in hibernation sites contribute to the environmental reservoir of the fungus and to progression of the disease. Is there, for example, a way that you could subtly change temperature profiles of underground hibernation sites? You could propose to do this in an artificial mine, for example, which often are occupied by large numbers of bats.

Right here in the state of Wisconsin, the three largest hibernacula in the state are two sand mines that I think have been in operation since the 1940s, and an abandoned underground iron mine that may harbor up to a half million animals each winter.

You mentioned that one way you’ve tried to stop the spread or deal with this, is by changing the temperature of caves…

Actually lowering the temperature. We’re still developing the data to support this idea, but that’s what we are investigating.

Raising the temperature to the point that it would preclude growth of the fungus would also preclude the ability of the bats to hibernate.

A postdoc in my laboratory, Dr. Michelle Verant, has published a paper in PLOSONE about this.

How on earth would you drop the temperature of a cave?

Well, if it’s a mine, you can drill ventilation tunnels to change airflow patterns.

Are there other possible solutions?

Researchers, including people in my laboratory, are also looking at various bio-control or chemical control strategies, but a lot of these are based on novel ideas and the reality is that novel ideas take time to go through testing and approvals and licensing so that they can be released in the environment. … You’re looking at a decade-off solution.

A disease-management strategy that works in humans and in domestic animals, and that has also been proven to work in wildlife is vaccination. Vaccination is currently used to control the spread of rabies in wild carnivores like raccoons, skunks, foxes. They do that by dropping vaccine that’s put in edible baits from airplanes.

Oh, interesting. So you’d basically be trying to feed the bats something that would vaccinate them against White-Nose Syndrome?

I think it also has much broader implications. Bats, especially in the tropics, have been identified as the reservoirs for some of the horrendous viral diseases you read about in the paper like Ebola, Marburg, SARS, and MERS. So there is the potential that you could do widespread vaccination against zoonotic diseases and start to eliminate them just like we’ve eliminated small pox.

In the meantime, bats are still dying at an alarming rate from White-Nose Syndrome?

What we know about high mortality comes largely from the Northeastern United States. There seemed to be a delay in spread over the Appalachian Mountains into the Southern Midwestern areas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio. There was a delay that I think we can define as about three years from when we first detected the fungus in this group of animals until we started seeing mortality. Now we’re definitely, as of last winter, seeing high bat mortality in those areas, but we don’t yet know how it’s going to compare to what we have seen in the Northeast.

We’ve just had our first detection in Wisconsin, but it’s colder, and maybe a little drier here in the winter so we don’t yet fully understand what the ultimate impacts may be. They could be bad, but then again as you move further into the arid West, once you cross the Mississippi River and the 100th meridian, the country starts transitioning to a drier climate, and there’s different population dynamics. The bats become more dispersed as opposed to hibernating in large caves.

My hope is that some of these species, which also exist west of the Mississippi, will be impacted to a lesser degree. That’s just speculation on my part, but there clearly are some environmental differences.

I know little brown bats are affected, but what other major bat species get White-Nose Syndrome?

One called the Eastern pipistrelle (some call it the Tri-colored bat) is heavily impacted. The Northern long-eared bat is a candidate for the endangered species listing because of this disease. The Indiana bat, which is on the endangered species list, is definitely susceptible, and then there’s some other, less common species in which infection has been documented but has not necessarily had adverse impacts, like the Eastern small-footed bat. The Big Brown bat does get infected, but also seems to be somewhat resistant, and it’s also less frequently found in caves. It really is the cave hibernating bats that are most at risk.

What can people do to try to help stop the spread of this?

Following what are called “Universal Precautions” in disease epidemiology—not moving from one cave to another without decontaminating—will help. If you’re a recreational caver, do not bring gear from an infected site to an uninfected site. Also, anything that supports bat habitat will help the bats.

Bats have such a bad reputation. So many people are afraid of them. They think of Dracula or they think of rabies or even Ebola. Some people might say “Good riddance,” what does it matter that bats are dying?

Bats are an integral component of our ecosystem. They consume vast amounts of insects. Those bats consuming insects can be referred to as providing an “ecosystem service,” and people have valued the “ecosystem services” provided by bats to US agriculture in the tens of billions of dollars a year.

We don’t understand all of contributions that bats provide to our ecosystem, but if you take too many bricks out of the bottom course of the wall, eventually the whole wall can collapse. I think it’s important to recognize that bats have intrinsic value in and of themselves as unique element of our world.  CONTINUE READING…


JSTOR Citations

DNA-based detection of the fungal pathogen Geomyces destructans in soils from bat hibernacula
Daniel L. Lindner, Andrea Gargas, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Mark T. Banik, Jessie Glaeser, Thomas H. Kunz and David S. Blehert
Mycologia
Vol. 103, No. 2 (March/April 2011) , pp. 241-246
Published by: Mycological Society of America

Colony Collapse Disorder: Many Suspects, No Smoking Gun
Myrna E. Watanabe
BioScience, Vol. 58, No. 5 (May 2008), pp. 384-388
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Inoculation of bats with European Geomyces destructans supports the novel pathogen hypothesis for the origin of white-nose syndrome
Lisa Warnecke, James M. Turner, Trent K. Bollinger, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Vikram Misra, Paul M. Cryan, Gudrun Wibbelt, David S. Blehert and Craig K. R. Willis
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, No. 18 (May 1, 2012) , pp. 6999-7003
Published by: National Academy of Sciences

Use of Temperature-sensitive Transmitters to Monitor the Temperature Profiles of Hibernating Bats Affected with White-Nose Syndrome”
Eric R. Britzke, Price Sewell, Matthew G. Hohmann, Ryan Smith and Scott R. Darling
Northeastern Naturalist
Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010) , pp. 239-246
Published by: Eagle Hill Institute

animalsbatsbats with white-nose syndromeBioScienceDavid BlehertDavid S. BlehertMycologiaNortheastern NaturalistPNASPseudogymnoascus destructanswhite-nose syndrome

Bill promotes donation of game meat to charities

February 10, 2015

Image result for kentucky deer

FRANKFORT – The state Senate passed a bill today to ensure the continued operation of a nonprofit dedicated alleviating hunger and malnutrition in Kentucky.

Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, who sponsored the legislation known as Senate Bill 55, said it would prevent any city, county or any public health department for disallowing the practice of donating game meat. She said the nonprofit Kentucky Hunters for The Hungry already provides 60,000 pounds to 70,000 pounds of mostly deer meat every year that allows food kitchens to serve an additional 560,000 meals.

“This is a wonderful and best use of the resources God gave us,” Webb said.

She said the bill ensures the game meat is harvested in Kentucky, properly field dressed and taken to processors certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

The tradition of donating game meat started in 1988 after state deer herds had grown beyond carrying capacity in some areas and biologists were encouraging additional doe harvest, Webb said. This led to discussions between avid hunters who wanted to oblige wildlife management but had concerns about what to do with extra venison.

The formal organization Kentucky Hunters for the Hungry was incorporated in July 2000 with the support of the state fish and wildlife department.

SB 55 passed with a 35-0 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.

CONTINUE READING…

Jails in Kentucky are overflowing with inmates, but you may not realize many of the inmates are there for profit

 

    • Posted: Feb 09, 2015 3:12 PM CST Updated: Feb 09, 2015 6:00 PM CST

By Emily Mieure

Connect


The Kentucky Department of Corrections started sending state inmates to local jails in the early 1980s — the Bullitt County Jail is just one of them.


Metro corrections is the largest jail in Kentucky with 1,793 beds.

Metro corrections is the largest jail in Kentucky with 1,793 beds.


Metro Corrections doesn’t house state inmates because they don’t even have enough room for local inmates.


Louisville Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton says if he had the room, he would gladly house state inmates like other counties.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Most local jails in Kentucky are overflowing with inmates, but you may not realize many of the inmates are there for profit.

The Kentucky prison population is big and many prisoners are passed around the commonwealth. There are 12 prisons operated by the Kentucky Department of Corrections across the state and many of them are at capacity — if not above it.

When asked what could be improved with regards to the prison population, Nelson County Jailer Dorcas Figg said flat out: “Well, if we had more beds.”

Figg has been working with jails for over 40 years and she said she doesn’t foresee the overcrowding problem changing.

“Because it’s not a money making business,” she said.

So instead of being in state facilities, about a third of the commonwealth’s 12,000 prisoners are sleeping in county jails.

Some wonder if that’s dangerous, but local jailers insist it’s a good thing.

“It helps the counties out a whole lot,” Figg said.

She says the Kentucky Department of Corrections started sending state inmates to local jails in the early 1980s. Since then, the conditions at county facilities have improved.

“Sometimes they couldn’t even hardly survive back then,” said Figg. “Then once the state took it over, that was a great thing because you had standards you had to meet. Back then, you didn’t have standards,” she added.

Figg’s 102-bed jail is mostly full of local inmates, but she says housing state inmates helps the budget because The Kentucky Department of Corrections pays county jails at least $31.34 per state prisoner per day. A small percentage of that goes into a jail fund.

Sometimes the state will send a prisoner to a certain county for convenience.

“I get letters from state inmates wanting to come here to make them closer to home,” Figg explained. “If I had the beds, I would take any state I could because that’s beds that are being paid for — but we don’t have the beds.”

Not having enough beds is a problem across the commonwealth, and Bullitt County Jailer Martha Knox says it’s a constant balancing act.

“It’s very frustrating,” Knox said.

While her 304-bed jail is usually at or above capacity, she has an entire wing dedicated to only housing state prisoners. Trying to keep the right amount of local and state inmates is a daily struggle, but she says making room for the state prisoners is worth the money.

“It doesn’t pay everything but it is a big incentive,” said Knox.

That money adds up because a state prisoner can stay in a local jail for up to five years.

While this seems to work well in most counties, none of it applies to Jefferson County.

Metro Corrections doesn’t house state inmates because they don’t even have enough room for local inmates.

“We take whoever the police brings us,” Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said. “We’re 24/7, 365. Police bring them, we’re going to take them.”

“As far as I know, we’ve never been a class C or D facility and by that I mean we don’t house state inmates here in Jefferson County,” Bolton explained. “We just don’t have the capacity to do it.”

Metro corrections is the largest jail in Kentucky with 1,793 beds. Last year, it housed an average of 1,850 inmates — so where do the extras go?

“They end up going on the floor in a temporary bed and then we get them in a bed in the order they’re brought to us when a bed is freed up,” Bolton said.

He says over the years, they’ve found ways to tackle the overcrowding issue.

“We have seen the population trend down in 2014 to about a ten-year low so that’s fairly significant progress I think,” said Bolton.

He gives partial credit to House Bill 463, which reduced penalties for some drug crimes. But he said Jefferson County’s Home Incarceration Program has also contributed to the decline in the population. At any given time, there are about 700 inmates on home incarceration — 600 of them are monitored through GPS.

“I think that is another element of technology that we’ve brought to the local arena here,” Bolton noted. “I think the judges and prosecutors appreciate that that technology is now here and I think they’re making very prudent decisions with respect to public safety.”

While some think it’s dangerous to keep certain inmates on home incarceration, Bolton says it’s a program he stands behind.

“We need to protect the public and lock people up we’re afraid of, not people that we’re mad at.”

Bolton says if he had the room, he would gladly house state inmates like other counties.

“Corrections does an incredible job moving people throughout the state based upon beds that are free in other jurisdictions,” he said.

Bolton said the population at Metro Corrections peaked near 1,650 in December, which he said he hadn’t seen in over six years.

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