Tuesday, March 27, 2012

EdSec Arne Duncan wants longer school days so nonprofits can offer extracurricular programs - like the one for which he facilitated a $174,000 rip-off?

At a meeting last Friday in Wilmington, DE, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called for longer school days.

I'm not necessarily saying teachers have to work twelve hours a day, but what do we do with nonprofits and the Boys and Girls Clubs and the YMCAs that come into the schools and provide a, y'know, a whole set of extracurricular activities that so many of our children need?
Words, y'know, fail me.


This from by a guy who, when he was running the Chicago Public Schools, personally facilitated a $174,000 rip-off by the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), a tainted nonprofit that's reportedly under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General and by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here in Atlanta.

As Sidebar readers know, Duncan's been hiding from questions about that money and his relationship to SALF.

I don't know if he's in denial or out to lunch, but it won't matter if this catches up to him.

Will it? 

Well, since November 2006, the SALF mess has been the subject of dozens of broadcast and print exposes and continues to generate fresh ink.

Also, my congressman, Rob Woodall (R-GA, 7th District), and Illinois state senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) are asking questions about what happened to millions of US and state tax dollars awarded to SALF, an organization that Duncan was close to and promoted for at least four years.

F'rinstance, here's Duncan appearing as a cartoon pitchman enthusiastically hyping SALF:

In my opinion, as soon as a political opponent or a reporter asks him about the $174,000 payday he arranged for SALF, Duncan won't be quite as enthusiastic about extracurricular school programs run by nonprofits.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rockford, Illinois newspaper reports the Melongo case via an interview with me

Until today, the criminal prosecution of Annabel Melongo, a dubious case which the Cook County State's Attorney has been dragging through the courts since October 2006, has been reported only by a handful of bloggers (including me). 

The prosecution has resulted in arguably the most egregious abuse of the notorious Illinois eavesdropping statute, Melongo's 18-month jail stay on a $300,000 bond for allegedly recording and uploading to her website two routine phone calls with a clerk of courts.

Today the Rock River Times reported the Melongo case in a strong article by editor Susan Johnson that includes an interview with yours truly.

A feisty print weekly in Rockford, Illinois, the paper's statement of principles includes fighting for "true and affordable justice in the courts."

No synopsis or highlights here, folks.

If you want to read the article, entitled A Whistleblower's Story, click here.

Johnson and her newspaper deserve the hits.

Tomorrow morning: Will a Cook County judge make it three for three re: unconstitutionality of notorious IL eavesdropping law?

UPDATE, 3/21/12: According to a friend of Ms. Melongo, her court hearing was carried over to Monday, March 19. The same person says on that day she argued her motion to dismiss the eavesdropping charges against her on the grounds that the IL eavesdropping law is unconstitutional. The same person says Judge Steven Goebel is scheduled to issue his ruling on her motion on Thursday, April 5. 


Per a Sidebar exclusive, Annabel Melongo was incarcerated in Cook County Jail for 18 months on a $300,000 bond:
The charges? Per the April 2010 grand jury indictment, under Illinois's controversial eavesdropping law, the state alleges that Melongo uploaded to her website recordings of routine phone conversations with a courthouse clerk.
Annabel Melongo
Last November 30, Melongo (who has chosen to represent herself in court) filed a motion asking Judge Steven Goebel to dismiss the State's case on the grounds that the controversial Illinois eavesdropping law under which she was charged is unconstitutional. (Page down to view.)

She may have the wind at her back as a result of Judge Stanley Sacks's March 2 ruling that declared the state's eavesdropping law unconstitutional, a decision that made national headlines (page down to view).

That was the second eavesdropping case within a year that was tossed by an Illinois judge who deemed the law unconstitutional.

Melongo has a court date tomorrow morning. According a friend, she's scheduled to argue her motion to dismiss.

Will Melongo pull off a hat trick?

WHEN: 10AM, Thursday, March 15, 2012 
WHERE: Cook County Courthouse, located at the intersection of 26th and California Streets, Room 3A-15 (Click here for map)


In this FOX-TV News interview yesterday, here's what Judge Anthony Napolitano had to say about State's Attorney Anita Alvarez whose office has been prosecuting the Melongo case since October 2006.
(:25) The Cook County Attorney has no right to enforce this statute while two judges have found it unconstitutional. She's going to enforce it anyway.

IL v. Melongo, Defendant's Amended Motion To Declare Statute Unconstitutional And To Dismiss, November 30, 2011

IL v. Drew, defense motion to declare the IL eavesdropping statute unconstitutional and March 2, 2012 judge's order granting the motion

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Six years after the fact, I tag some weasel who altered Enquirer editor-in-chief Tom Callinan's blog!

On Friday, Enquirer Posts, Then Censors, Anti-Santorum Photos by Ben Kaufman at Cincinnati CityBeat reported my recent item about the Cincinnati Enquirer scrubbing photos of protest signs at a political rally.

One gripe is that the Enquirer's revised version failed to inform readers that the original story had been altered. Almost a week later, I'm still waiting for an answer from Enquirer assistant editor Carl Weiser about whether that was in compliance with the paper's corrections policy.

Carl Weiser (source)

Based on a tidbit of journalistic archeology I just excavated, dealing with errors by sending 'em down the memory hole was also going on behind the scenes at an Enquirer blog written by Weiser's former boss, Tom Callinan.

From Callinan's LinkedIn page:

Tom Callinan

In 2006, he made this foray into the blogosphere:

In Spring of that year, as the newsroom's top dog, Callinan had to deal with a widely-reported mess, the "Enquirer's controversial 'Grandma In Iraq' blog, which had drawn criticism because it was being written by a military spokeswoman (Suzanne Fournier) who had not fully disclosed her identity until last week...."(Billboard)

On April 12, 2006, Callinan blogged There's no there there, a column in which he asserted that the controversy was overblown.

I was following the "Grandma" dust-up and I saved his item to hard drive. If I hadn't, you wouldn't be reading this.

Here's the first section. (My highlighting; click here to read the entire piece.) Note his call for "intellectual honesty":

Here's the wind-up:

A commenter then posted this response:

Fair catch, sure, but so what? The busy editor of a major metro daily makes a minor misattribution? Per Archie Bunker, "Whoop-de-doo."

I haven't thought about this for years, but after last week's disappearance of the Santorum protester photos, I wondered if Callinan's "Letters to the Editor" blog was still online, so I went a' searchin'.

From the file I saved, I had the URL: http:/frontier.cincinnati.com/blogs/editor Click and you'll see that apparently the Enquirer deleted his blog from its servers. 

So I plugged the URL into The Wayback Machine, the invaluable site that archives web pages. I found copies of Callinan's blog dating from April 8-15, 2006.

Take a gander at this screen shot of the April 12 item:


Unless Callinan's blog was hacked, an Enquirer employee must have gone in and repaired the original version to make it appear as if he'd never made the error.

Who would attempt such a petty cover-up?

We may never know, but I wanted Tom Callinan's take on this sneaky after-the-fact editing of his copy.

According to his LinkedIn page, after leaving the Enquirer, Callinan entered the halls of academia.

A few days ago I e-mailed an inquiry to Professor Callinan asking for his expert opinion about the "Gertrude Stein" switcheroo and the Enquirer's recent scrubbing of the photos from the Santorum protest.

In the interests of intellectual honesty,  I'll be reporting the results here.

UPDATE, 3/30/12: On March 13, I received an e-mail from Elizabeth Benedict, Communications Director at Social Venture Partners International, Professor Callinan's current perch.

She confirmed she'd forwarded him my e-mails of March 11 and March 13, but I haven't heard from the professor himself. (It may be that he's too busy participating in panels discussing the skills needed for working in modern newsrooms.)

Therefore it appears we can only guess which newsroom weenie altered the copy on Professor Callinan's blog to correct his "Gunter Grass" goof.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cincinnati Enquirer blog runs photo of protester's sign of Dan Savage's "santorum" neologism; UPDATES: Enquirer disappears the photo after I notified 'em and also swaps out "douchebag" pic

Here's a screen shot from an item published last night on the Cincinnati Enquirer's Politics Extra blog:

UPDATE I, 11:30AM: 

Shortly after posting the above item at 10AM, I sent an e-mail with a link to my item to Enquirer editor Carl Weiser (who runs the Politics Extra blog) and reporter Paul Kostyu (who wrote the Santorum item and took the photo of the protester with the sign:
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2012 10:20:05 -0500 
From: "Peter M. Heimlich" <pmh@medfraud.info>
To: cweiser@enquirer.com, pkostyu@enquirer.com 
Subject: The Sidebar: Cincinnati Enquirer blog runs photo of protester's sign of Dan Savage's "santorum" neologism
Since then, per the screen shot below, the photo's been deleted with no notification to readers that the story's been modified or updated:

Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2012 11:55:32 -0500
From: "Peter M. Heimlich" <pmh@medfraud.info>
To: cweiser@enquirer.com
CC: cwashburn@enquirer.com, craig@craigsilverman.ca
Subject: media inquiry 

Carl Weiser
Assistant editor
Government/public affairs

Dear Mr. Weiser,

I'd doing an update to this blog item I reported this morning. I'd 
appreciate your answer to a quick question: 

Per the 11:30AM update on my item, there's no indication on Mr. Kostyu's 
item that it's been altered or what constitutes the nature of the 
alternation. Does this conform to the Enquirer's corrections policy?

Thanks for your attention and I look forward to your reply.


Peter M. Heimlich
ph: (208)474-7283
website: Medfraud 
blog: The Sidebar


Carolyn Washburn, Editor and Vice President of News
Craig Silverman, Editor of Regret the Error, Poynter Adjunct Faculty

The Political Daily Download blog caught another edit that I missed. When the Enquirer revised it's story, a photo was substituted:

That was then...
...and this is now.

I'm still waiting to hear from the Enquirer's Carl Weiser as to whether the alterations were in compliance with the paper's corrections policy.

4:15PM From Gannett Newspaper Division issues guidelines on ethical news-gathering conduct for newsrooms:
Errors should be corrected with sufficient prominence that readers who saw the original error are likely to see the correction. This is a matter of the editor's judgment.

...Newsroom staffers should be receptive to complaints about inaccuracies and follow up on them.

Today, reporter Ben Kaufman, who writes the media column for Cincinnati CityBeat blogged about all this and included the photo of the protester's sign with a transcription of the definition of "santorum." Kaufman's a retired Enquirer reporter turned journalism professor.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dept. of Corrections: University of Delaware student paper reports Heimlich hoohah, but promptly cleans up after itself (as opposed to Cincinnati's FOX-TV News)

On February 20, the University of Delaware's student paper, the Review, ran a quickie feature biography about my father using this local hook:
Did you know that Henry Heimlich, the physician credited with the creation of the Heimlich maneuver, was born in Wilmington?
The piece had a handful of factual errors that I brought to the attention of Editor in Chief Marina Koren who promptly and capably published a corrected version.

Here's a screenshot from the original (which has since been disappeared from the paper's website):

When her story first appeared, I wrote Review reporter Anne Ulizio and asked where she located this information. I wasn't surprised when she wrote back that she'd found it on the website of the Heimlich Institute.


But according to a December 21, 2004 New York Times article by the preeminent science writer Lawrence K. Altman MD:
The first successful organ transplant recipient was a 23-year-old man from Northboro, Mass., named Richard Herrick, who had just been discharged from the Coast Guard.

On Dec. 23, 1954, he received a kidney from his healthy identical twin brother, Ronald, in an operation performed by Dr. Joseph E. Murray at what is now Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Dan Gavriliu (right) is inducted into the Royal College of Surgeons by Sir Rodney Smith (center), Leeds, 1976

Then there's this Sunday front-pager by reporter Robert Anglen from the March 16, 2003 Cincinnati Enquirer:
For more than 40 years, Cincinnati icon Dr. Henry Heimlich has been taking credit for a world-famous operation that was actually developed first by a Romanian surgeon behind the Iron Curtain.

In interviews, biographies and promotional materials, Heimlich has told anyone who would listen that he performed the world's first total organ replacement.

But even before Heimlich wrote his first article about the "Heimlich Operation" on dogs in 1955, the procedure had been performed dozens of times on humans by Romanian surgeon Dr. Dan Gavriliu, an Enquirer investigation has found.

Gavriliu now calls Heimlich a "liar and a thief." He says Heimlich not only took credit for the operation, but also lied when he said they co-authored a paper for an international surgery conference.

Heimlich denies any deception and says he has no idea why Gavriliu would be upset.

More from the Institute:

Author Rick Sowash and my father at WCET-TV, Cincinnati

Another version of the story appeared in the 1998 book Heroes of Ohio: 23 True Tales of Courage and Character by Rick Sowash, this one with prayers and tears:

But from Thomas Francis's 2005 Radar Magazine story (the best soup to nuts article about how my wife and I exposed a variety of medical frauds perpetrated by my father):
Next, Peter and Karen 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.
If my father's story were true, there's also this little matter from the Uniform Code of Military Justice:
Any person who--
(1) aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or
(2) without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly;
shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct.
Jack Atherton
Two years after the Radar article, my father spun this even more preposterous version in an interview with Cincinnati FOX-TV News reporter Jack Atherton, who swallowed it whole.
"In Vietnam, every soldier carried a Heimlich chest drain valve attached to a sterile tube in an envelope in his pocket. If you were shot in the chest you didn't need a doctor or nurse. Your buddy could just take this apparatus, put the chest tube into the chest through the bullet hole, the valve was there, lung would come up and stay up, and they could fly them off later."

After the story aired, blogger Jason Haap e-mailed Atherton and his superiors, explained the errors in the story, and asked if the station intended to run a correction.

To my knowledge, the inquiry was ignored. (Atherton has since moved to WLWT, the Queen City's NBC affiliate.)

Readers of the University of Delaware student newspaper can be grateful that their paper holds itself to a higher standard!

Friday, March 2, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Annabel Melongo reacts to today's ruling by a Cook County judge declaring IL eavesdropping law unconstitutional

Annabel K. Melongo

From today's Chicago Sun-Times:
A Cook County Judge declared the state’s eavesdropping law unconstitutional Friday.

Judge Stanley J. Sacks read his ruling in the case of Christopher Drew, a Chicago artist who was charged with felony eavesdropping after he recorded his Dec. 2, 2009, arrest on State Street by Chicago Police.
“The Illinois Eavesdropping Statute potentially punishes as a felony a wide array of wholly innocent conduct,” he read. “A parent making an audio recording of their child’s soccer game, but in doing so happens to record nearby conversations, would be in violation of the Eavesdropping Statute.”
Prosecutors now may appeal the judge’s ruling directly to the state’s Supreme Court.
Present in court today was Annabel Melongo.

As first reported by The Sidebar, in October Melongo was released from Cook Cook County jail after being incarcerated for 18 months and held on a $300,000 bond.

Her crime?

According to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, Melongo recorded some routine phone conversations with a Cook County Clerk of Courts, then uploaded audios and transcripts of the calls* to the Internet. (As a result of Judge Steven J. Goebel granting her motion, Melongo's now living with a friend under house arrest and wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet.)

This afternoon Melongo sent out the following e-mail. (Regarding any minor grammatical errors, Melongo was born in Cameroon. Her first language is French, her second is German, and her third is English.)
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2012
From: Annabel Melongo <melongo_annabel@yahoo.com>
Subject: Illinois Eavesdropping Law Unconstitutional In Cook County
Dear All,

Just to inform you that Judge Sacks, Christopher Drew's Judge, has just declared the Illinois Eavesdropping Law Unconstitutional in Cook County. Which ruling undoubtedly has repercussions in my case when I argue it on March 15th, 2012.
Seating in that courtroom, I had tears in my eyes when I heard this. I can't believe the end is almost near. I'm sending you this email from the courthouse, which shows what today's ruling means for me. You'll hear all of this in the hours or days to come, I just wanted you to have the news first, given your engagement, in one way or other, to my case. 

Thanks a lot.

* The transcripts of the calls were included as exhibits in a November 30, 2011 defense motion. From court records, here they are: