Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Akron Fire Dept. EMS trainer re: responding to choking infants: Don't worry about breaking the baby's bones or cracking its ribs -- and a question for criminal attorneys

Clip via How to save a life: Help someone who is choking by Adrienne DiPiazza, FOX 8 News Cleveland, February 13, 2018:

Transcript at about time stamp :35:
DiPiazza: (The Akron Fire Department's Lt. Joe) Shumaker says don’t be afraid of hurting the baby, and forceful motions are the only thing that will help them breathe again.

Shumaker: “Can you cause some injury? Can you break a bone? Can you crack a rib? Perhaps, but in the end run the child will be breathing which is what we want as a result,” he said.
I have an inquiry in to the Akron Fire Department and will report the results.

Tangentially related, one of my research interests is tracking child abuse cases involving the alleged use of the Heimlich maneuver as an alibi.

I've compiled a number of media reports in which defendants claimed that severe or fatal injuries sustained by a baby or child in their care resulted from the adult supposedly responding to a choking emergency.

I shared my research with reporter Justin Strawser at the Sunbury, PA Daily Item who reported this November 13, 2015 story, Suspects often claim abuse injuries stem from CPR, Heimlich effort.

Here's a question for any criminal attorneys reading this: Can Lt. Shumaker's advice benefit a defendant in such a case?

Click here to e-mail me.

Friday, January 19, 2018

HuffPost axes columns by celebrity doctors Mehmet Oz, Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weil, Dean Ornish, Joel Fuhrman, Neal Barnard, David Katz and other MDs

Since its founding nearly 13 years ago, The Huffington Post has relied heavily on unpaid contributors, whose ranks included aspiring writers, citizen journalists and celebrities from the Rolodex of the site’s co-founder Arianna Huffington.

...On Thursday, it said it was immediately dissolving its self-publishing contributors platform — which has mushroomed to include 100,000 writers — in what is perhaps the most significant break from the past under its editor in chief, Lydia Polgreen...

(Recently) a contributor with the byline Waqas KH published an article about Felix Sater, an associate of President Trump, that he had been paid to post. The site has since deleted the article.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

UK Daily Mail & London Evening Standard disappear stories about bogus mid-show "Heimlich" choking rescue by comic Ed Byrne [UPDATE: UK & US media watchdogs pick up my story; Canadian Broadcasting newsmagazine interviewed me]

My original story is below the red hash marks.

1/4/17 UPDATE

John Reynolds at the UK Press Gazette -- which, according to its website, "has been reporting on British journalism without fear or favour since 1965" -- picked up the story and credited me. The article includes this new reporting:
Owen Conlon, assistant news editor of the Irish Sun, said on Twitter: “While both papers should have checked with Byrne, this was a deliberate attempt to get false information in. Irish Sun spoke to same woman. When told Byrne denied it, she replied: ‘He’s probably being modest.'”
1/10/17 UPDATE
Sydney Smith at US press watchdog iMedia Ethics picked up the story and credited me. Her article includes:
iMediaEthics has contacted both the Standard and Mail to ask how they learned about the story, how they attempted to fact check and if they are or have published corrections.
Click here for inquiries I sent to both papers on January 5.

As It Happens, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio news magazine, saw Sydney's story and aired an interview I did with co-host Carol Off. Click here for the audio and the transcript which includes:
Ed Byrne is a well-known Irish comedian. And He's pretty funny. In fact, he’s so funny you could die laughing, unless he saves you. And if you’re a reader of the London Evening Standard and the Daily Mail, you could almost believe Mr. Byrne had done just that, by saving an audience member from choking at one of his shows. But when one investigative blogger heard the choking story, something about it stuck in his craw. So he decided to get to the bottom of it. 
...PETER: (Ed Byrne) and I have exchanged a couple of tweets. Earlier today, I tweeted that I was confident that he should be able to get five minutes of stand-up out of this.

Screenshot from London Evening Standard story by Martin Coulter

Two leading UK newspapers have disappeared a bogus story without informing readers that their reporters got hosed by a source.

Via Google News, here are screen shots of articles by reporters Alexander Matthews of the Daily Mail and Martin Coulter of the London Evening Standard:

Last night I tweeted this inquiry to Mr. Matthews and to Mr. Byrne:


Published four hours ago by the Bradford Telegraph & Argus:


The Daily Mail and Evening Standard articles are now MIA with no indication to readers why the articles were disappeared:


I'll follow up with both papers and report the results.

Click here for a re-publication of Mr. Matthews' Daily Mail story.

Click here for a cached version of Mr. Coulter's Evening Standard story.

As it happens, this isn't Byrne's first "Heimlich headline."

From a couple years ago:


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

National girls organization "highly endorses" controversial first aid training that "may cause injuries" to babies


According to a press release they issued about a year ago, the Cincinnati-area American Heritage Girls is the "premier national character development organization for young women that embraces Christian values...Currently, American Heritage Girls has over 43,000 Members [sic] located in every state..."

According to a 2014 press release, the American Heritage Girls formed a "National Cooperative Venture" with Heimlich Heroes,  a "Deaconess Associations, Inc. and Heimlich Institute initiative that teaches kids as young as seven how to become a hero by learning to perform the Heimlich Maneuver correctly in order to save a life. Both organizations are based in Cincinnati."

Via American Heritage Girls Adult Training, Heimlich Heroes blog, December 12, 2017:
In honor of Heimlich Heroes week American Heritage Girls corporate office trained their staff using our Teen and Adult program!
Kristi Tatro, National Director of Girl Impact, spearheaded the training to set an example for their members and community.

AHG staff members went through the Heimlich Heroes Teen and Adult training using our new training video...
Tatro said, “AHG highly endorses and encourages this program. It’s easy and fun to learn!”
Via this clip from the Heimlich Heroes "new training video," here's the problem:

I'm unaware of any medical organization or medical expert that recommends performing "the Heimlich" (abdominal thrusts) on choking infants.

Why not?

According to recent e-mails I received from executives at the American Heart Association and American Red Cross, doing so "may cause injuries."

Further, I'm unaware of any published research on the subject.

In other words, the American Heritage Girls "highly endorses and encourages" teaching the public to perform an unapproved, potentially harmful medical procedure on babies.

I'm e-mailing this item to Ms. Tatro with an invitation to respond.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The woman accused by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of taking her airline seat “because I was an African American woman” is a renowned human rights activist [UPDATE: Washington Times & Daily Caller report the story]

Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said Tuesday she felt she was targeted by a passenger accusing her of taking her first-class seat on a United Airlines flight “because I was an African American woman” as the airline said she was not given the seat because she is a congresswoman.

Passenger Jean-Marie Simon accused the airline of giving up her first-class seat on a flight earlier this month from Houston to Washington, D.C., to Jackson Lee, a Democrat, in a report in the Houston Chronicle.
Unreported to my knowledge -- and worth considering re: Rep. Lee's allegation that she was the victim of racism -- via Jean-Marie Simon: A foreign witness to Guatemala’s war, November 27, 2012, Amnesty International:
Jean-Marie Simon lived and worked in Guatemala as a photojournalist between 1980 and 1988, a period of extreme violence and brutality in the country. Recently, Jean-Marie donated 1,000 copies of her book Guatemala: Eternal Spring Eternal Tyranny to schools and universities in Guatemala, to keep the truth of what happened alive.  
Via A Testament From Guatemala’s War Years by
Guatemala endured a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, but it still suffers from organized criminal violence and impunity. At a time when the country is confronting its past, Ms. Simon wants to make sure that young people there will be able to learn what their nation endured under military regimes.

...Few were telling Guatemala’s story when Ms. Simon first traveled to the country.

...Some of her contacts introduced her to others who helped her gain access to people caught up in the conflict. During this time, for example, workers at the Coca-Cola plant had been singled out for assassination. An official with their union gave her a written introduction to one of the guerrilla groups, the Guatemalan Workers Party, whose members took her out with them for a day.
...On one trip, she joined with Allan Nairn and a documentary crew as they traveled to Nebaj and interviewed commanders and troops. In a nearby town, soldiers – who thought they had the blessing of their commander – described how they tortured prisoners. In other places, she and the film crew saw how the military was forcibly moving indigenous people into “model villages” while pressing the men into civil patrols.

...In later years, she prepared reports for international human rights groups and connected visitors with local advocates who were demanding answers from the military regime. It was a sinister time, when activists would be murdered alongside their infant children. She recalls meeting one woman who told her that she had been raped by soldiers every night for a month – sometimes in front of her father. When the commander decided that she was not a guerrilla, he gave her a bar of soap, five pounds of beans and advice to start a new life.

By the time her book was first published, she had decided to go to law school. She practiced for 10 years, then switched to teaching high school Spanish. Now living in Washington, she has returned often to Guatemala in recent years.
I've reached out to Rep. Lee's office for comment.


UPDATE, 12/27/17, 4:00PM

Via Woman accused of racism by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is human-rights activist by Bradford Richardson, Washington Times, December 27, 2017, which, according to Google's cached version was posted about an hour ago:

I just had a good phone call with Mr. Richardson who informed me that he hadn't seen my item and got on the story after seeing this comment posted on

I took the opportunity to inform him that this morning I sent these questions to Rep. Lee's office, but that I don't anticipate receiving answers, so would he be willing to follow up?

Via Rep. Lee's December 22 Facebook statement:
I noted that this individual [Ms. Simon] came toward me and took a picture. I heard later that she might have said “I know who she is.” Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice.
1) On what basis did Rep. Lee conclude that Ms. Simon's actions had anything to do with Rep. Lee being "an African American woman" or the flight attendant being African American?

2) If Rep. Lee can't provide a reason, it's an unfounded allegation that may be harmful to Ms. Simon's reputation. If that's the case, doesn't Rep. Lee owe Ms. Simon an apology?

Mr. Richardson agreed to take a look.

UPDATE 12/27/17, 4:55PM

Just spotted this via The Daily Caller -- based on the time stamp,  I still own the scoop.

Friday, December 15, 2017

UK (Liverpool) & US (Pensacola, FL) parents of two young children who choked to death claim Long Island inventor's anti-choking device could/would have saved their child's life

Via A ‘last resort’ when life is on the line December 15, 2016:
After hearing about a 7-year-old who choked on a grape, (LifeVac inventor Arthur) Lih searched for something as good as or better than the Heimlich maneuver...“I went to the hardware store and I saw a plunger, put it on my face, gave it a pull,” Lih said. “I could feel it was going to be good. I refined it to what it is today.
I. The Jasmine Lapsley case

Eric Banagan (source)

Via Tragic little girl's life 'could have been saved by one simple device' by Tom Belger, Liverpool Echo, November 5, 2017:
The heartbroken dad of a girl who choked to death on a grape on holiday said one simple device may have saved her life.

Jasmine Lapsley was just six years old when one of every parents’ worst nightmares began to unfold on a family holiday in North Wales in August 2014.

Parents Rob and Kathy Lapsley, from Anfield, did abdominal thrusts and hit her back after she started choking, but to no avail and paramedics could not save her.

Now her dad, 43, is urging a government watchdog to allow a new anti-choking device to go on general sale in the UK.

He said he was convinced the hand-held LifeVac suction tool was “easy to use, effective and cheap” and should be in every home, school, hospital and restaurant.
...Eric Banagan, a (Devon-based) spokesman for LifeVac, claimed his product had already saved lives, and that the community in the area where Jasmine died were also unhappy at being denied the devices.
Via Grieving parents in plea to medical chiefs by Alex Jones, Cambrian News, November 9, 2017:
(Kathy Lapsley said), "If there is something that can be used that has already saved lives when someone is choking, are you not going to use that and try to save someone’s life or are you going to watch them die too?

“Living the life I now live and the pain and trauma I live with every single day I know I would want to have a LifeVac to be available to be used when standard protocol has been followed without success.”

Her husband Rob Lapsley accused the (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) of “needlessly putting people at risk”.

“LifeVac is a portable suction device that can be used when a person is choking and when other forms of first aid have failed to remove the blockage,” he said. “Currently its use and sale is restricted by the MHRA, meaning it can only be sold to health professionals.

“This means that the device can’t be sold to schools and other places such as restaurants where choking can pose a severe risk. LifeVac has already saved eight lives and, by restricting its use, the MHRA is needlessly putting people at risk.

“The restrictions only apply in the UK and the device is freely available in other countries and many schools in the USA now have LifeVac.”
Via Petitioning Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency: Relax the restrictions on the use of Lifevac, the anti-choking device by Robert Lapsley, Liverpool, UK,, November 2, 2017:  

Video accompanying the petition featuring Keith Johnson MD of Venice, Florida:

II. The Audi Anderson case

Bryant Clerkley (source)

Two Men Say Anti-Choking Device Could Have Saved a Boy’s Life by staff reporter, WKRG-TV News,

Mother Of Audi Anderson Says Lifevac Could Have Saved His Life by ,

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Why did the NuVal nutrition scoring system fail? A post mortem compendium of published opinions

The Rise and Fall of NuVal® Nutritional Guidance by David L. Katz MD MPH, Huffington Post, November 17, 2017:

There are two reasons the nutrient profiling system known as NuVal®, which assigned a score from 1 to 100, the higher the number the more nutritious the food, has disappeared from the shelves of the nearly 2,000 U.S. supermarkets it populated at its peak. The first reason is that the business model didn’t work; and the second is that the science of the system worked a bit too well.

You will get a very different impression if you read articles with titles such as “goodbye and good riddance.” But if you Google “NuVal” and read the more prominent disparagements of the system, you would readily find a theme if you looked. Identify the authors, or sources of derogatory comments- and Google them. Generally you will find they make and market highly processed junk food (which, of course, garners the low scores it deserves), or have ties to the beef industry- or they are personal trolls of mine.

...The main source of NuVal criticism is so-called “CPG,” or consumer packaged good companies- otherwise known as food manufacturers. Another is the “National Consumers League,” which sounds virtuous, but is actually a shell organization founded by those CPGs. This tactic is, apparently, standard operating procedure in propaganda wars. When the giants in the beverage industry wanted to oppose a soda tax in New York, for example, they created a new organization called “New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes.” You had to dig to discover that soda companies were the exclusive sponsors and organizers.

...As for the science of NuVal, it has mostly failed because it works too well. The algorithm underlying the program was developed by a dozen diverse luminaries in nutrition- including past and current chairs of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health; the inventor of the glycemic index; the inventor of the volumetrics concept; and so on. I was privileged to lead the group, but every decision ran the gauntlet of consensus.

NCL welcomes nationwide removal of misleading nutritional scoring system from grocery shelves, National Consumers League press release, November 9, 2017:

The National Consumers League (NCL) has welcomed news that a supermarket-based nutritional scoring system of food products called NuVal, which at its peak was used in 1,600 grocery stores nationwide, has been discontinued. For the last five years, NCL has been a vocal critic of NuVal’s controversial ratings system. In a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012, NCL called NuVal “fatally flawed,” pointed out that it gave some junk foods higher nutritional ratings than canned fruit, and called for its investigation and removal from grocery stores.

NuVal scored food on a scale of 1-100, with printed labels appearing on shelves next to price labels in stores that used the system. NuVal claimed to help consumers compare products by simplifying their nutritional value; the higher the number, the “better the nutrition.”

“The NuVal rating system was fatally flawed, and its removal from grocery store shelves is a win for consumers,” said National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Its proprietary algorithmic formula – which was not made transparent to consumers or the scientific community – resulted in snack chips, soft drinks, and desserts being given as high or higher nutritional scores than some canned fruits and vegetables. We welcome the news that NuVal has been discontinued nationally.”

The consumer group criticized NuVal’s nutritional ratings as confusing - not helpful - to consumers trying to make healthy decisions for their families and called on the FDA to step in and set industry-wide standards to govern such systems so that they truly benefit nutrition-minded consumers. Other critics questioned conflicts of interest behind NuVal’s research and food manufacturers.

The Yale Daily News reported that, according to NuVal’s creator, Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center David Katz, “Hershey’s paid him more than $731,000 for research, and Quaker Oats had paid him more than $633,000. He has also received funds from Kind Bar and Chobani.”

Goodbye NuVal...and good riddance? by Elaine Watson, Food Navigator, November 13, 2017:

The NuVal shelf tag program – which assigned products a score of 1-100 based on their nutritional value – has been phased out. Good riddance, or do we need a system that attempts to provides consumers with at-a-glance information that helps them rapidly compare products and identify healthier options?

NuVal - which at its peak featured in 1600+ stores in 31 states including Tops Friendly (Markets) in New York, Raley's in California and Big Y in Massachusetts, factored in positive nutritional attributes as well as negative ones, with nutrients with generally favorable effects on health (eg. vitamins) increasing the score, while nutrients with generally unfavorable effects (trans fat, excess sodium) decreasing the score.

As with any system attempting to apply a standardized approach to thousands of foods across multiple categories, however, it threw up some strange results (read more here at USA Today and Yale Daily News), and attracted criticism from some big CPG brands and the National Consumers League (NCL) due to its refusal to publish the algorithms underpinning its scores.

...(What) do dieticians think of NuVal's demise?

...Andy Bellatti, Las Vegas-based RD, told FoodNavigator-USA that "Nutrition scoring systems can potentially help consumers, but there are some problematic issues at play, too."

"First, each scoring system has its own formula (which is usually proprietary and kept hidden from consumers). If a formula is based on outdated or murky science (i.e.: any high-fat food, regardless of type of fat, is penalized), it isn't necessarily promoting the healthiest foods out there.

"Second, many of these systems do not take into account ingredients. Nowadays, food manufacturers can use all sorts of nutritionally-empty or even potentially harmful ingredients to tweak values that appear on the Nutrition Facts label to make a product score well.

"Third, this doesn't actually teach consumers anything. Once the scoring system is discontinued, or if a consumer goes to a store where the scoring system isn't used, they don't necessarily have the knowledge to determine what makes a healthful product.

"At the end of the day, I just can't behind the idea that we need complex mathematical equations to determine that lentils are healthful and a high-sugar protein bar isn't a very healthful choice."

Tops to scrap NuVal nutrition ratings criticized as 'fatally flawed' by Samantha Christmann, Buffalo News, October 17, 2016:

Tops Markets is getting rid of a controversial nutrition ratings system it has used to help customers make food purchasing decisions. The system rates brownie mix and ice cream as healthier than some canned fruits and vegetables.

...Leonard H. Epstein, a distinguished professor and chief of behavioral medicine at the University at Buffalo medical school, served on NuVal's scientific advisory board. He said he didn't always agree with the creators' decisions, the system's creators didn't always take the board's advice and that, if he had been one of the system's makers, he "would have done things very differently."

Consumers may find NuVal helpful if their diet is based on general USDA guidelines, Epstein said, but not if they prefer other diets, such as ones high in protein and low in carbohydrates, for example.

..."If you don’t believe in the criteria that NuVal uses, then the algorithm would not work to guide you to healthier eating," he said.

In order to be useful, algorithms have to change to reflect changing science, he said. A shift in emphasis from fat to added sugar in the diet is one example.

Tops said its decision to drop the NuVal system wasn't based on criticism or controversy surrounding NuVal but on customer feedback. As part of an annual evaluation to make sure its programs are relevant, it found there was no increase in customer participation with the program, so the company made the "hard decision" to bring the program to an end.

Raley’s phasing out nutritional scoring system, will develop own program by Mark Glover, Sacramento Bee, October 11, 2016:

West Sacramento-based Raley’s is phasing out a nationally utilized nutrition scoring system by the end of the year and is developing its own program to replace it in 2017.

...Raley’s spokeswoman Chelsea Minor said some customers have found it confusing.

Coborn's replaces NuVal scoring system with in-house nutrition rating program by Matt Perkins, St. Cloud (MN) Times, Oct. 25, 2017:

Coborn's, Inc. has introduced a new nutrition rating program which identifies for customers more than 5,500 products that "support their overall health."

...Endorsed by CentraCare Health, the in-house program replaces the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System, which was recently discontinued nationwide.

..."So what Nuval did was they looked at the overall nutrition and they gave it a score based on that," Kibutha said. "They scored everything. So even if something wasn't healthy, they still gave it a score, whereas we're just putting dietitian-approved on just the items we would endorse for the general public."

..."We have a lot of integrity behind this. It's science-based, 100 percent."

Yale researcher’s ratings service discontinued by Amy Xiong, Yale Daily News, November 3, 2017:

According to (David) Katz, his new company DQPN* is entirely unrelated to NuVal or nutrient profiling.

“DQPN is not at all prone to any kind of conflict, since it is not a scoring system of any kind,” Katz said.

However, four members of DQPN’s team have also worked on NuVal: Harvard professors Walter Willett and Frank Hu, University of Toronto professor David Jenkins and California State University, Long Beach professor Gail Frank.

At a lecture given at Jacksonville University on Oct. 25, Katz stated that the company plans to release an app called DIET ID that reinvents dietary intake assessment by identifying individuals’ dietary patterns and quality.

Four of NuVal’s developers, including three who are now involved with DQPN, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.


This item has been appended with the Yale Daily News report.