Wednesday, April 9, 2014

American Spectator book reviewer fails to disclose my father donated $8,000 to fund his play

As I reported, yesterday the American Spectator magazine published writer William Tucker's lengthy, glowing review of my father's autobiography, Heimlich's Maneuvers, in which he recommended that my father be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Per my item, Tucker repeated my father's long-debunked lie that the American Friends Service Committee supplied North Vietnam with "tens of thousands" of Heimlich chest valves during the war.

Considerably more serious than getting snookered by a nonagenarian, Tucker's book review in the Arlington, Virginia-based national political magazine failed to disclose that last year my father reportedly donated $8,000 to help take a play he wrote "on a nationwide tour."

Via the April 9, 2013 Rockland County Times of Nanuet, NY:


Today I'll ask an American Spectator editor if this is acceptable policy and will report the results in a future Sidebar item.

UPDATE: According to this bio, William Tucker lives in Piermont, NY. His phone numbers are listed at the end of a 2010 Journal News item about his play.

This item was slightly revised for clarity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

American Spectator writer repeats my father's long-debunked lies about the U.S. Army and North Vietnam; wants my father to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Perhaps surprisingly, my father's memoir Heimlich's Maneuvers, recently published by Prometheus Books, hasn't been getting many reviews.

But today the American Spectator, a conservative political magazine, published a lengthy, glowing review.

Perhaps more surprising, the reviewer swallowed and repeated a string of my father's lies about the war in Vietnam.

Via The Lifesaving Dr. Heimlich: An underappreciated American hero and pioneer by William Tucker:
(Dr. Heimlich) saved the lives of thousands of soldiers with another invention you probably never heard of -- the Heimlich valve.
...The Heimlich Valve became standard equipment in every soldier’s pack in Vietnam and saved tens of thousands of lives. Then when Dr. Heimlich visited Vietnam in 1999 he was astonished to find everybody knew his name. It turned out the Quakers had supplied North Vietnam with Heimlich Valves and it had saved thousands on that side as well. It was the most emotional experience of his life.


Judging by the above bio, I'm surprised that a veteran reporter would fall for the absurd claim that the valve was carried by every soldier who fought in Vietnam.

That nonsense and my father's false claim that the Heimlich valve saved the lives of "tens of thousands" of American soldiers were debunked in this published correction I generated after the broadcast of an error-ridden 2009 Voice of America story, Dr. Henry Heimlich, Medical Innovator:

Finally, per my recent item, My letter today requesting Prometheus Books to retract my father's "gross distortion of Vietnamese and U.S. history," my father's bizarre claim that the Quakers (the American Friends Services Committee) supplied Heimlich Chest Drain Valves to North Vietnam was thoroughly debunked in Radar Magazine eight years ago.


Presumably a flag-waving magazine like the American Spectator and Mr. Tucker are interested in accurately representing U.S. military history, so I'm sending them this item and inviting them to comment for a follow-up.

Finally, also from the review:
The good doctor is now 94 and living in an assisted facility in Cincinnati....Heimlich ends his book with this sentence: "I'm not done yet."

Nor should America be done with honoring this peerless pioneer. I suggest President Obama make plans right now for awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s hard to think of anyone who deserves it more.
For starters, how about someone who doesn't make up self-aggrandizing lies about U.S. and Vietnamese history?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Crying Game: My compilation of weepy TED lecturers [UPDATE: My video's gone viral!]

Order of appearance
Jean Carruthers MD
John Doerr
Amy Cuddy
Peter Attia MD
Amy Purdy
David Blaine
Tan Le
Jessica Jackley
Neha Sangwan MD

4/3/14 UPDATE: Just days after posting, my video has gone viral!

Take a look at this screenshot I just made:

I just want to take a moment to share a heartfelt "thank you" to the dozens of viewers who made this happen. I love you guys!

To the few people out there who have yet to watch, PLEASE keep this momentum going. With your support, it's only a matter of time before we pass "100 views"!

Monday, March 31, 2014

My letter today requesting Prometheus Books to retract my father's "gross distortion of Vietnamese and U.S. history"

Prometheus Books executives: Steven Mitchell, the late Dr. Paul Kurtz, Lynette Nisbet, Jonathan Kurtz (2002)

Also see my item last month, Prometheus Books publishes my father's long-debunked lie that the American Friends Service Committee provided "tens of thousands" of Heimlich chest valves to the North Vietnamese during the war.

March 31, 2014

Jonathan Kurtz
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228

Dear Mr. Kurtz:

This is to respectfully request a retraction of the following false information in Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation, my father's memoir which your company published last month:
I remember another incident in which I was overcome with emotion. It occurred in February 1993, when I was invited to accompany a team of twenty cardiac and thoracic surgeons to Vietnam, a trip arranged by the citizen ambassadors of People to People International...In Hanoi, our plane was met by a contingent of North Vietnamese cardiac and thoracic surgeons. The head of the Vietnamese delegation introduced each member of our team until he came to me.

“Dr. Heimlich, you need no introduction,” I remember him saying. “Everyone in Vietnam knows your name.” I assumed he was talking about the Heimlich Maneuver, but, in fact, he was referring to the chest drain valve. “Your valve has saved tens of thousands of our people during the war, both civilian and military,” he said. I never knew the North Vietnamese had used the valve during the war. It had been supplied to them by the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee. The next morning, at a meeting of American and Vietnamese doctors, the chairman opened his session saying, “Dr. Heimlich will live forever in the hearts of the Vietnamese people.” Hearing his words, I cried openly.
Per a November 2005 expose published by Radar Magazine, the story was debunked over eight years ago:
Next, Peter (Heimlich and his wife Karen Shulman) took aim at a lesser-known invention, the "Heimlich chest drain valve," which was used on the battlefield in Vietnam to save soldiers from dying of a collapsed lung caused by a chest wound. According to Heimlich's press statements the invention saved tens of thousands of lives, including among the North Vietnamese, after the American Friends Service Committee shipped valves to both sides in the war. Henry often tells the story of a trip to Vietnam during which he received a hero's welcome because of his valve.

But the Quakers have no record of distributing the valve. Peter contacted the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker group that provides aid in foreign conflicts. "They checked deep in the archives and contacted several staffers from the '60s," says Peter. "No one had even heard of the Heimlich valve." AFSC spokeswoman Janis Shields says that if the valves had been shipped to North Vietnam, there would have been documents. The AFSC's shipments to North Vietnam consisted primarily of penicillin.
In addition to grossly distorting Vietnamese and U.S. history, my father's false claim suggests that the American Friends Service Committee and Becton, Dickinson and Company (the company that manufactures the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve) may have violated laws governing the transfer of medical supplies during wartime.

It's unclear how your editors failed to catch such an obvious falsehood, but in recent weeks I've made best efforts to address the matter.

In a February 16, 2014 e-mail and multiple follow-ups, I asked my father's publicist, Lori Ames, if my father intended to retract the false claim. He has not done so.

Therefore, in a March 10, 2014 e-mail and a follow-up I asked your company's Senior Publicist, Lisa Michalski, if your company intends to address the matter.

I haven't received a reply, hence this outreach to you.

I'm hopeful that you share my interest in correcting the record. With that in mind, I look forward to your reply.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


Peter M. Heimlich
(Street address redacted)
Duluth, GA 30096

ph: (208)474-7283


The Hon. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Ambassador, The Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States
The Hon. David B. Shear, U.S. Ambassador to The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The Hon. Rob Woodall, U.S. House of Representatives (GA-7th District)
Alexis Moore, Media Director, American Friends Service Committee (Philadelphia, PA)
Alyssa Zeff, Director, Becton, Dickinson and Company Worldwide Public Relations (Franklin Lakes, NJ)

Click here to view my letter via Scribd. Click here to download a copy.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Neal Barnard MD of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) "stays fueled"


Food photos and text below from Food Diaries: How George Washington University’s Dr. Neal Barnard Eats for a Day The plant-based-food advocate shows how he stays fueled for a busy schedule of teaching and research.

Breakfast: “Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I usually top oatmeal with fresh fruit and spices. Today it’s sliced strawberries, a banana, and a dash of cinnamon."

Lunch: “Today’s lunch is my favorite meal: a bean burrito. I brought a green salad—kale, tomatoes, and cucumbers—from home."

Dinner: “My dinner rule is to combine greens, beans, and grains. Tonight the entrĂ©e is Hoppin’ John salad with steamed bok choy and sliced tomatoes. The salad is a mixture of black-eyed peas, brown rice, green onions, celery, tomatoes, fresh parsley, lemon juice, and garlic cloves." 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I get no respect from the Cincinnati Reds & "Heimlich Heroes," but I've got a friend in Drefach Felindre

"Lifesaving spaniel" Mollypops and her proud owner, Rachel Hayes of Drefach Felindre, Wales (source)

Per my previous item, last night Cincinnati Reds baseball team representative Rob Butcher accused me of being "on some kind of mission to prevent people from helping others."

What did I do to elicit such opprobrium?

I asked him for information about ballplayer Todd Frazier's apparent endorsement of "Heimlich Heroes," a first aid training program in Ohio schools that includes performing the Heimlich maneuver on unconscious choking victims.

Here's a clip from one of the program's training videos:

As I reported last month, representatives of the American Red Cross and the American Red Cross told me they don't recommend the treatment.

And, per my previous item, "Heimlich Heroes" program manager Terri Huntington has refused to answer a number of reasonable questions I've submitted.

For example, would she please direct me to any published research studies, to any medical organizations, and/or to any licensed medical professionals that recommend performing "the Heimlich" on unconscious choking victims?

Because I can't find any.


Despite the Rodney Dangerfield treatment I've gotten from the two Cincinnati organizations, my self-esteem just got a boost from the other side of the globe.

Via Lifesaving spaniel earns pat on the head from Heimlich by reporter Guto Llewellyn published this morning in the Carmarthen Journal:
Lifesaving spaniel Mollypops has been praised by none other than the son of the inventor of the Heimlich manoeuvre.

Owner Rachel Hayes, 40, from Drefach Felindre, had been choking on a chew sweet for several minutes and believed she was about to die until her pet jumped on her back, dislodging the sweet.

Since the Carmarthen Journal reported the story last week news of Mollypops's heroism has spread across the world, even drawing the attention of Peter Heimlich, whose father Henry invented the Heimlich manoeuvre.

The Heimlich manoeuvre involves using a series of abdominal thrusts on a choking victim in a bid to dislodge the item. However, the technique has been called into question, and by now it is advised that people follow St John Ambulance advice instead of the Heimlich manoeuvre. This involves using hard blows on the upper back of the victim.

Peter Heimlich said: "I give big props to Mollypops. Based on what I've read in the Journal, she's strictly up to date on St John Ambulance's first aid recommendations, plus she kept her cool in a stressful situation.

"I'd urge all creatures great and small to follow her example and learn how to respond to choking and other medical emergencies."

...Mollypops only needed one blow to save her owner's life, and Rachel says she is delighted with the recognition her dog is receiving.

She said: "It's really good. I have just been overwhelmed by the attention her story has received, and it's amazing to hear Mr Heimlich say that she did the right thing."
Based on my recent experiences with Rob Butcher and Terri Huntington, to get some pointers on how to deal with the media, their masters might wish to consult Mollypops.

Cincinnati Reds rep writes me, "You appear to be on some kind of mission to prevent people from helping others"

Rob Butcher, Cincinnati Reds' Director of Media Relations (source)

According to the Cincinnati Reds, by asking questions about a first aid training program being taught in Ohio schools, I'm up to no good.

This started last month I asked the Ohio and Hamilton County Health Departments to review the "Heimlich Heroes" program because it teaches students and others to perform the Heimlich maneuver on unconscious choking victims.

As I reported, that treatment is not recommended by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Terri Huntington and my father at February 18, 2014 book-signing at Cincinnati's Joseph-Beth Booksellers (source)

I'm unaware of any published research that supports the treatment or any medical professionals who recommend it, so a few days ago I e-mailed these and other questions to "Heimlich Heroes" program manager Terri Huntington:
According to the training videos on your website, your program teaches students to perform the Heimlich maneuver on unconscious choking victims. Would you please direct me to any published research studies, to any medical organizations, and/or to any licensed medical professionals that recommend this treatment?
Your program's home page features a photo and quote from Cincinnati Reds baseball player Todd Frazier. On what date did Mr. Frazier or his representative endorse your program?

Her March 24, 2014 reply:
Although we appreciate your interest in our organization, we are not comfortable with the focus of your questions. As such, neither Deaconess nor any of its affiliates, including Heimlich Heroes, will respond to any additional inquiries from you and politely request that you refrain from contacting us further.
Since Ms. Huntington was clamming up, yesterday I wrote to Rob Butcher, the Cincinnati Reds' Director of Media Relations, to ask if Todd Frazier and/or the Reds endorsed the "Heimlich Heroes" program.

He asked me for details, so I provided him with all of the above information and explained that, to the best of my knowledge, "the program appears to be teaching Ohio students and others to perform an unproven, experimental medical treatment."

Last night I received this e-mail from him:
You appear to be on some kind of mission to prevent people from helping others. Feel free to write the Reds have no comment.