Friday, April 21, 2017

YouTube sides with me in failed takedown attempt by medical group re: video clip of Dr. Salim Yusuf praising author/journalist Nina Teicholz

Via Top Cardiologist Blasts Nutrition Guidelines by veteran medical journalist Larry Husten PhD on his CardioBrief site, February 27, 2017
One of the world’s top cardiologists says that many of the major nutrition guidelines have no good basis in science.

“I’m not a nutrition scientist and that may be an advantage because every week in the newspaper we read something is good for you and the same thing the next week is bad for you,” said Salim Yusuf, MD, DPhil,(McMaster University), at Cardiology Update 2017, a symposium presented by the European Society of Cardiology and the Zurich Heart House.

Yusuf presented evidence that many of the most significant and impactful nutrition recommendations regarding dietary fats, salt, carbohydrates, and even vegetables are not supported by evidence.
...Yusuf volunteered a strong endorsement for Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, who has been heavily criticized by the nutrition establishment for her defense of dietary fat. “She shook up the nutrition world but she got it right,” said Yusuf.
Zurich Heart House (ZHH) posted a YouTube video of Dr. Yusuf's 20-minute lecture which triggered a March 2 MedPage Today article by Crystal Phend* about some nutrition professionals throwing snit fits about it.

By then ZHH had taken down the video of the lecture from their YouTube site -- click here for their explanation of what happened -- but copies were popping up on other YouTube accounts.

I've reported about various attempts by credentialed professionals to censor Ms. Teicholz, so I downloaded a copy of Dr. Yusuf's lecture, edited out a clip in which Dr. Yusuf praises her work and posted it to my YouTube account.

Last month Zurich Heart House filed a copyright violation claim against me with YouTube which resulted in the clip being taken down.

I promptly responded with a counter-notification that the 50-second clip was protected under Fair Use laws.

On May 11, I received an e-mail (see below) from ZHH manager Regula Schneider asking me to cooperate with their takedown request and informing me that "We have not initiated legal steps."

Was that a legal saber being rattled? Who knows?

I didn't reply because if ZHH wished to properly contest my counter-notification, they should have done so via YouTube, not by contacting me directly. 

In any event, apparently ZHH dropped whatever they were rattling because today YouTube found in my favor and the clip's online again.

* Ms. Phend failed to provide Dr. Yusuf the opportunity to respond to his critics, so I blogged a March 20 item in which journalism ethics experts commented on that aspect of her reporting.

Addendum (4/22/17): This is the second time I've prevailed in a YouTube copyright violation complaint. In 2014, Boise, ID, TV station KTVB tried to take down a 20-second clip I posted that came from a newscast in which a local firefighter stated that he had performed the Heimlich maneuver on a drowning victim. In my counter-claim I insisted the clip was protected under Fair Use laws. YouTube agreed with me.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

From the grave my father haunts "fanatical animal rights group" -- and would PCRM have shut down my father's experiments on beagles that produced the Heimlich maneuver?

PCRM's seemingly defunct "Henry J. Heimlich Award for Innovative Medicine," last presented in 2010

According to junk science debunker  Joe "Dr. Joe" Schwarcz PhD, Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society:
I consider PCRM [The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine] to be a fanatical animal rights group with a clear cut agenda of promoting a vegan lifestyle and eliminating all animal experimentation.
My father joined PCRM in the late 1980s as member of the organization's "medical advisory board."

By then, he'd been exiled from legitimate medicine.

Among other problems, in 1977 dad was fired for misconduct from his last hospital job and subsequently descended into medical quackery.

Nevertheless, he was welcomed with open arms into PCRM by the organization's founding president, celebrity doctor Neal Barnard MD, who's given to wearing a white lab coat in publicity photos.

Here are some of his diet books in which he claims "going vegan" will cure just about anything that ails you.


Back in the day, presumably Dr. Barnard thought affiliating with a famous name like Dr. Maneuver would boost the profile and credibility of his operation.

And for the next few decades things seemed to go that way.

But in 2003, as a result of research by my wife Karen and me (and my outreach to reporters), my father was exposed as a dangerous crackpot via scores of mainstream print and broadcast exposes.

Some of that stuff hitting the fan has blown back onto PCRM and Dr. Barnard.

For example, via a hard-hitting 2010 LA Weekly report by Paul Teetor:
In both its mission statement and its IRS filings, the Washington, D.C.–based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) says it is "strongly opposed to unethical human research."

But the group is throwing a private Hollywood Art of Compassion bash Sunday night to hand out a major award named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who has been condemned by mainstream medical organizations around the world for his 20-year ("malariotherapy") program of trying to cure cancer and AIDS by injecting people with malaria-infected blood.
...Bill Maher and Alec Baldwin, the two biggest names listed as Honorary Committee Members for this weekend's compassion party, declined through spokespeople to comment to the Weekly.
In 2002 the (World Health Organization) called malariotherapy "an example of clearly unscrupulous and opportune research." Five years later, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said: "It is scientifically unsound, and I think it would be ethically questionable ... and it does have the fundamental potential of killing you."
Now (Peter) Heimlich asks, "How can the PCRM reconcile all that criticism with its position against unethical research? Why won't my father or anyone at PCRM answer that question?"
..."I don't want to discuss the award, or my research," the 90-year-old Heimlich says today. "I don't think I'll be at the party. ... Please contact Dr. Barnard."
Neal Barnard founded PCRM in 1985, and still serves as president of the nonprofit organization, which has a $7.5 million annual budget and 35 paid staff. Barnard frequently appears on TV and radio as an advocate for animal rights in medical research.
Barnard declined repeated requests for comment.
My father died in December but -- per this Fargo, North Dakota TV expose last week by investigative reporter Bradford Arick-- his ghost still haunts Dr. Barnard's organization.

If you were in the area of North University and 12th Avenue, you probably saw about a dozen people holding signs and banners. And you’ve no doubt heard about the Heimlich maneuver to save choking victims. But the group you saw protesting counted the inventor of that life-saving skill as a board member. Our investigation finds Dr. Henry Heimlich passed away last year, but his past is far from clean cut. And the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is promoting what some say is dangerous medical treatment.
...But who is this group?
"How does someone look at I’ll say an event like this demonstration and not say well you're not actually a physician's organization, you're just an animal rights advocacy group?” asked Arick.
...On their board until his recent death, the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, Dr. Henry Heimlich. PCRM promoted using the maneuver as a way to save a drowning victim, something the American Heart Association calls “unnecessary and potentially dangerous”. How is that responsible medicine?
...Further marring Heimlich’s legacy, his belief in Malariotherapy. It’s deliberately infecting a person with malaria as a cure for things like cancer and HIV, and he carried out human trials in Africa, something the World Health Organization and CDC have both denounced.
...There’s another local connection here too. The President of PCRM is Dr. Neal Barnard, and he says he grew up in Fargo.
Perhaps the ultimate irony, when dad died in December, a tribute to him was published on PCRM's website.

Here's a screenshot:

Here's a screenshot from dad's obituary in the Washington Post, describing how he developed his namesake anti-choking choking treatment in 1973 at Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital:

I don't have any expertise or opinions about the use of animals in medical research, but here are a couple of medical ethics brain teasers.

Would PCRM have attempted to shut down my father's experiments on the four beagles?

Does Dr. Barnard think my father should not have conducted the experiments?

For more about PCRM's 30-year relationship with my father, click here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

My attorney wins another New Jersey public records lawsuit: Judge rules “any person” can use OPRA

As Sidebar readers may recall, I was the plaintiff in a recent successful public records lawsuit in New Jersey filed by my attorney CJ Griffin.

CJ, who works at the Hackensack law firm Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, today won another court victory that provides citizens greater access to public records under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

In response to my inquiry, below her photo is CJ's description of the case and a copy of the judge's order.

Today the Honorable Bonnie J. Mizdol, assignment judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Bergen County, New Jersey, ruled that OPRA does not contain a citizenship requirement. Instead, she ruled that “any person” can use OPRA. The case is Jeff Carter v. the Borough of Paramus. Mr. Carter told Paramus he was a citizen of NJ, but Paramus insisted that he must turn over his home address or else. When he refused to do so for privacy reasons, they denied his request and then completely ignored his additional requests. The judge ruled that OPRA’s statutory framework made it clear that “any person” can use OPRA because it says so about a dozen times. She also was concerned that a citizen-only requirement would lead to absurd results, such as requestors not being able to remain anonymous (as OPRA permits) and both in-state and out-of-state media not being able to use OPRA (since business entities are not “citizens” of New Jersey, but are “persons”.)

Judge Mizdol joins three other judges who have similarly ruled.

Judge Bonnie J. Mizdol (source)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

UK primary school in Yorkshire to use anti-choking plunger on students -- should parents have been asked to provide consent?

Should schools implement a medical treatment unapproved by mainstream medical authorities? 

According to one school in northeast England, the answer is yes.

Should parents be informed and provided the opportunity to consent?

According to the same school, the answer is no.

This is a tangent to my item a few weeks ago about a crowdfunding campaign that raised "raised £2,218 to install (the LifeVac anti-choking device) into as many schools in the Hull & East Riding area as possible."

One area school has confirmed that they've incorporated the LifeVac into their first aid treatment protocol for choking emergencies.

Per this March 8 tweet:

It was posted by called Time to Train, which describes itself as "a family run business in Hull, East Yorkshire. In addition to providing professional first aid training, we also offer several health and safety courses."

I was interested in learning more, so I filed a FOIA request with Victoria Dock, a primary school in Hull.

I received a prompt reply from the school's business manager, Debbi Truran, who informed me that although there were no written records:
I can confirm that the school has been gifted a LifeVac by the company TimeToTrainHull. Part of the 'gift' was two training sessions to show staff how to use the LifeVac. One training session was for the support staff and the second training session was for the teaching staff. 18 members of support staff and 17 members of teaching staff took part in the training. The trainer used a LifeVac and Torso dummy to train the staff members. No charge was made for the training.
In subsequent Q&A e-mails, she informed me that the project had been arranged by Shaun Sykes of Time To Train who offered the free LifeVac and free training sessions to the school's head teacher, Antonia Saunders.

According to Time To Train's website, they charge charges hundreds of pounds for group first aid training sessions, so presumably the company's donation of the LifeVac to Victoria Dock and the accompanying free training sessions for 35 school employees reflects their dedication to the product. 

In response to one of my questions, Ms. Truran stated that parents of Victoria Dock students had not been asked whether or not they consented to the LifeVac being used on their children.

Why should that be of interest?

First, because according to e-mails I received from  British Red Cross, St John Ambulance UK, or the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the LifeVac is not part of their recommended first aid guidelines.

And via the website of the Resuscitation Council UK, arguably the gold standard in first aid practices:

Second, by failing to loop in parents, the school may have violated their own Ethos code:

Third, for the same reason, the school may have violated the National Health Service's Consent To Treatment standards:

When I asked Ms. Truran on what basis Victoria Dock had agreed to include the LifeVac in medical treatments being provided to students, she made it clear the school had relied on the professional expertise of Time to Train.


Since then I've sent a few e-mails with straightforward questions to Shaun Sykes at Time To Train Hull, the guy who arranged the gift and conducted the free training sessions, and copied Ms. Truran.

I haven't received a reply from him.

Monday, March 20, 2017

MedPage Today ran an article in which credentialed professionals attacked the work of a prominent researcher who wasn't provided the opportunity to respond -- I asked three journalism ethics experts for their opinions


When I report a story, I make best efforts to provide all players the opportunity to comment.

That's what bugged me about Fat Wars: Diet Docs Have Salim Yusuf in the Cross Hairs, a March 2, 2017 MedPage Today article by reporter/editor Crystal Phend

Here's the lede:
A public attack on diet dogma from fats to vegetable intake got leading cardiologist Salim Yusuf, MD, DPhil, into scalding water with nutrition experts.
The piece consisted of these five credentialed professionals going on the warpath about a recent lecture by Dr. Yusuf: Joel Kahn MD, David Katz MD MPH, Marion Nestle PhD MPH, Yoni Freedhof MD, and Kim Williams MD.

Missing was any response from Dr. Yusuf, who has been called the "leading North American clinical trialist" in the field of prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and the article provided no indication that Ms. Phend had attempted to interview him.

If I'm reporting about someone prominent, I try to include their quotes not only for fairness, but because -- duh -- having comments from big dogs improves the news value of my story.  

When I asked Ms. Phend, she wrote me that she chose not to interview Dr. Yusuf because:
This was a follow-up to our main story on Yusuf’s talk ( ), focusing on a different aspect -- the response of various diet proponents to Yusuf’s comments. I thus did not interview Yusuf for the story.


I then asked MedPage Editor-In-Chief Peggy Peck if she thought Dr. Yusuf should have been given the opportunity to respond to his critics.

Culled from our back/forth e-mails, here's her response:
The article written by Crystal Phend was a follow-up article to one written by Larry Husten for MedPage Today and the blog, CardioBrief.

...Larry Husten alerted us to the presentation by Salim Yusuf. Given Yusuf’s standing in the field, I agreed that it could be a good piece for us (and for Larry’s blog). Based on that exchange, Larry did contact Salim and others and he wrote his piece.

After we published that piece, we were contacted by a number of sources* who disagreed with Salim. We reviewed those comments and decided to put together a folo piece, which is exactly what Crystal did. We sent links to her story and Larry’s story to all who were quoted.

...Crystal did a response piece and that piece does meet the requirements for response pieces and, in fact, sometimes these pieces can go back and forth in a series of articles.
In the course of our correspondence, Ms. Peck got a little peevish and apparently couldn't understand the point of what I was reporting, so I explained:
If you were the subject of an article that attacked your work, IMO the reporter would have an obligation to provide you with the opportunity to respond within the article. (You would have right to accept or decline that opportunity, of course, or the article might state that you failed to respond to multiple inquiries.) Ms. Phend's failure to attempt to provide that opportunity to Dr. Yusuf is what I'm reporting about.
I didn't receive a reply so I can't share her reaction to that.

Next I ran the situation past some journalism ethics experts. Here are their unedited responses in the order in which I received them.

Gene Foreman, veteran newspaper editor and author of The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News, revised in 2015 for our digital age:
MedPage should have allowed Dr. Yusuf an opportunity to rebut his critics in the same article in which he is criticized. That seems only fair. What does MedPage have to lose by checking with him to see if he answers the specific criticisms? If he merely repeats the statements that were quoted in Husten's piece, MedPage could summarize them in a paragraph or two, demonstrating fairness but without rehashing the original piece. But if he offers replies to specific criticisms that introduce new information or a new, reasonable argument, MedPage readers would benefit from seeing the controversy addressed by both sides in a single article. 


Via Kelly McBride, Poynter veep/professor and lead editor of The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century:
In general, this is a tough challenge. Yes, it's problematic to criticize someone and not offer them a chance to respond. But there are lots of occasions where that practice OK. In fact, there's a pretty big range of acceptable practices in the journalism world. And there is no set of rules that journalists are expected to follow or risk losing their credentials. Instead, each publication is in change of creating their own standards. 

There are other relevant factors here: How much traction was the video and the original talk getting? Among what audience? How big of a platform does the object of the critique have? What is the journalistic purpose of the critique? Should the original speaker be considered a public figure? Is this really part of an ongoing public dialogue?

If the talk was public and the video of the talk was openly available, I'm not deeply concerned that the original speaker was contacted, as long as his statements were not distorted and as long as the critics' statements were also not distorted.

So my short answer is: It's complicated.


Fred Brown, veteran newsman, current vice chair of the Society for Professional Journalists' Ethics Committee, and editor of Journalism Ethics: A Casebook of Professional Conduct for News Media:
It's a mistake to assume that everyone is going to read every individual piece in continuing coverage of a subject. That's why it's important to include all relevant points of view in every story. Not every mention of every facet needs to be extensive, but a fair and responsible writer should at least mention differing opinions. In every story, every time; not in separate stories.
* I'm interested in how stories get reported, so I twice-asked Ms. Peck if she'd tell me the names of the names of the sources who triggered the story if that information was on the record. She twice-ignored my question.

Here's sort of an epilogue via a March 14 MedPage Today follow-up by Ms. Phend, Fat Wars: An Apology and Clarification Over Diet Snafu:
From the "oops" department, cardiologist Salim Yusuf, MD, DPhil, apologized for maligning the Seven Countries diet study in the controversial diet talk he gave at the Zurich Heart House, which in turn explained it should never have publicly released the video.

However, neither walked back the substance of the talk at the Zurich Heart House's Cardiology Update 2017 symposium. Yusuf's discussion generated backlash from the nutrition community, with many finding fault with his conclusions on dietary fat, carbohydrates, meat, and the general state of diet science.

...Plant-based diet proponent Joel Kahn, MD, who...had labeled some of the comments regarding the Seven Countries study "slander" and called for an apology, said the letter was a step in the right direction. Still, Kahn wasn't fully satisfied.

"It is insanity that the Zurich Heart House [ZHH] still uses a link to explain the mess via Zoe Harcombe, PhD, who maintains in the link that Dr. Keys fudged data or other words similar," he said in an email to MedPage Today. "How can an academic institution like ZHH use a blogger [Dr. Harcombe] and not someone like Henry Blackburn, MD, of the University of Minnesota, still an active researcher for the Seven Countries Study at age 92? ZHH's effort was anemic."
Ms. Phend's article includes no indication that she attempted to contact a representative of Zurich Heart House, Dr. Yusuf, Dr. Harcombe, or Dr. Blackburn.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hard Truths or Half Truths? In his podcast, my brother credits our father as the lifesaving hero in a dramatic 1941 train wreck in CT, but...

A few months ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer's Politics Extra column ran an item by reporter Jason Williams about the latest media venture by my older brother Phil, Heimlich maneuvers to 'radical middle':
Heimlich, 64, has never come back to politics since that bruising and brutally expensive 2006 loss to Democrat David Pepper in the commissioner's race. Heimlich has no plans to come back, but the Republican still loves to talk politics. Last fall, he resurrected his "Hard Truths" podcast on iTunes and It's where you can get your fill of Phil.

...Politics Extra isn't sure anyone's listening yet, but Heimlich is hoping to gain a national following.
Please lend an ear to the following audio clip from Phil's February 28 podcast.

Based on articles in the New York Times and New York Daily News, both dated August 29, 1941, Phil (and his engineer/announcer Rob Reider) give big ups to our dad for having saved the life of a man in a dramatic high-profile train wreck the previous day.

At age 21, after spending the summer working as a counselor at a summer camp in Lenox, Massachusetts, he and hundreds of campers were heading home when the train derailed in South Kent, Connecticut. Cars overturned into the adjacent Hatch Pond, leaving two train workers dead and one pinned down in four feet of water, his leg trapped under a car. Dad told the reporters he held the man's head above the water until help arrived. (To the best of my knowledge, he was interviewed at the train terminal in New York City, presumably Grand Central.)

Phil also mentions this September 25, 1941 item in the Times. (Note the lab coat. Nice touch by our pa, media-savvy even then.)

What makes this interesting --  and a little spooky -- is that the same day the podcast aired, the newsletter of Connecticut's Kent Historical Society (KHS) published Who Saved Otto Klug? Investigating a 75-year-old mystery, my article about the train wreck.


Via my article:
My dad was no slouch when it came to singing his own praises to anyone in earshot and I was no exception. Most of our time together consisted of him telling me about his achievements and awards, especially after he became famous.

And that was my first problem with the train wreck story – over the decades he never mentioned it to me. I only learned about it in the early months of our research when (my wife Karen Shulman) and I happened upon the 1941 New York Times articles.

My interest was piqued, so about 14 years ago, I decided to take a closer look.

Via public libraries in Connecticut, I obtained copies of every article I could find about the headline-making disaster. I also contacted Marge Smith at the Kent Historical Society who sent me some paperwork from their files and put me in touch with Emily Krizan, whose husband, Joseph Krizan Jr., reportedly participated in rescue efforts at the train wreck, including helping the trapped fireman, whose name was Otto Klug.

Interestingly, none of the articles and none of the people with whom I communicated said anything about any camp counselor (or my father by name) being involved in the rescue.

Instead, they near-unanimously identified a local resident named Jack Bartovic as the person responsible for holding Klug’s head above water for hours.
Presumably Phil was unaware of these facts so last week I e-mailed him my article and these questions:

1) I'd be curious to know your thoughts about the contradictory claims I reported and in the articles posted on this web page I made: Please feel free to elaborate.

2) Per my article, Henry never told Karen or me about the train wreck and no one else in the family (including you) ever mentioned it. We only learned about it in the early months of our research into Henry's career when we happened upon the two 1941 New York Times articles. Approximately when did you first become aware of the train wreck story and how did you hear about it?

3) In your podcast you read from the August 29, 1941 New York Daily News article about the wreck. I'd seen that article pasted-up in Henry's 2014 memoir [see below] but the text is too small to read. I haven't yet been able to obtain a copy of the article, so I was pleased to learn you've got one. Would you please send me a copy so I can check it out and add it to my web page?

I got a confirmation of receipt but no further communications.

I was especially interested in his answer to my second question.

That is, when did Phil first become aware of  the train wreck story? Did dad keep him in the dark, too?

Here's a video clip of Phil relating the train wreck story while introducing dad at a January 27, 2015 event hosted by the Cincinnati Business Courier. (He was receiving the newspaper's Health Care Hero award, an honor reportedly arranged by his longtime attorney, Joe Dehner).

The way Phil tells it, it sounds like the first time he heard about the train wreck may have been eight months earlier when he came across the New York Times in the course of helping our parents move.

So I e-mailed the video clip from the awards event to Phil and asked if that was accurate.

Again I received his confirmation of receipt, but no further communications.

Per Karen's letter to the editor in the April 2006 Cincinnati Magazine: "That's Phil -- a profile in courage."

Apparently I'm on my brother's do-not-respond list, so if anyone asks Mr. Hard Truths about this, I'm curious to know how he responds. Click here for my contact info.

Via my father's 2014 memoir, Heimlich's Maneuvers.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My inquiry today re: my two quid donation to a JustGiving crowdfunding campaign to purchase anti-choking devices for UK schools

Recently I donated £2 to a crowdfunding solicitation by the Hull Wyke Round Table (HWRT), a UK organization in East Yorkshire.

According to its website, the HWRT "is all about having fun with a group of friends while at the same time trying to help the local community."

According to a February 10, 2017 article in the Hull Daily Mail, HWRT representative Edd Wheldon spearheaded the campaign which eventually "raised £2,218 to install (the LifeVac anti-choking device) into as many schools in the Hull & East Riding area as possible."

In the course of researching my father's unusual career, as a side interest I've done some casual research re: various anti-choking devices that have been marketed in recent decades and I've reported about a few, for example, the Heimlich Helper, the Dechoker, and the LifeVac.

Via the HWRT's solicitation to donors:

For a Sidebar item I was reporting, I e-mailed Mr. Wheldon and asked him for a list of the 100 schools and for details about the three reported lives saved by the LifeVac. For example, the dates of the rescues, the locations, the names of the rescuers and the choking victims, etc.

I didn't receive a reply, so today I asked JustGiving, the London-based crowdfunding platform which hosted the fundraiser, to jump in. Click here to download a copy.

I'll report the results in a future item.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Who Saved Otto Klug? Investigating a 75-year-old Connecticut mystery -- my father's "first save" or his first media scam?

I'm co-publishing this article with the February 2017 issue of Connecticut's Kent Historical Society Newsletter. I'm grateful to the organization and especially to Executive Director Brian Thomas who invited me to write the article and did a first-rate editing job. Click here for the hard copy version.

So-called “alternative facts” are nothing new. Here’s an intriguing example tied to a dramatic, high-profile event that happened about 75 years ago in Litchfield County.

It starts with an August 29, 1941 front page New York Times article, “Children Escape in Train Wreck; 2 of Crew Killed,” about a massive train wreck in Kent. Six cars carrying hundreds of campers derailed into Hatch Pond. Two trainmen were killed and a third had a leg amputated.

The article concluded with information provided by “Henry Heimlich, 21, of 30 West Ninetieth Street, a sailing counselor at Camp Mah-kee-nac and a premedical student at Cornell University, who was…the ‘hero’ of the accident.”
"I was riding in the next-to-the-last coach," Heimlich related, “when suddenly there was a lurch...I ran forward and jumped out. I saw that the engine and the first car were almost submerged and that the fireman’s leg was caught under the steps of the second car which had overturned. He was lying in about four feet of water.

"He was floundering around, hysterical, and I ran toward him and held his head above the water...

"He was all black and he was crying that he was afraid he'd lose his leg. Another counselor, Jack Handelsman, who is also a pre-medical student jumped into a boat nearby and rowed out to help me. Then a lot of people came and while I held the fireman up they started digging underneath with their hands, and later with shovels, to free his leg.”
A few months later, the Times published a follow-up item with a photo of the handsome 21-year-old pre-med student receiving an award for bravely saving the life of the train fireman.

The sailing counselor and apparent hero was my father, Henry J. Heimlich MD, who died a couple of months ago. If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because of a choking rescue treatment he first called “the Heimlich method” in the June 1974 medical journal Emergency Medicine. Only two years later, what had been renamed “the Heimlich maneuver” was incorporated into national first aid guidelines. Since then my family name became a household word and my father’s namesake treatment has been credited with saving the lives of thousands of choking victims.

Fast forward to Spring 2002 when my wife Karen and I began researching my father’s career. To our astonishment, we uncovered an unseen history of fraud that revealed him to be a remarkable charlatan and serial liar. Most shocking, he’d used nonexistent or fraudulent data in order to promote a string of crackpot medical claims that resulted in serious injuries and deaths.

In order to prevent more harm, we decided to bring the information to public attention via the press. Since 2003, our work has been the basis for a couple hundred mainstream media reports that exposed what one medical journal called my father’s “overreach and quackery.”

My dad was no slouch when it came to singing his own praises to anyone in earshot and I was no exception. Most of our time together consisted of him telling me about his achievements and awards, especially after he became famous.

And that was my first problem with the train wreck story – over the decades he never mentioned it to me. I only learned about it in the early months of our research when Karen and I happened upon the 1941 New York Times articles.

My interest was piqued, so about 14 years ago, I decided to take a closer look.

Via public libraries in Connecticut, I obtained copies of every article I could find about the headline-making disaster. I also contacted Marge Smith at the Kent Historical Society who sent me some paperwork from their files and put me in touch with Emily Krizan, whose husband, Joseph Krizan Jr., reportedly participated in rescue efforts at the train wreck, including helping the trapped fireman, whose name was Otto Klug.

Interestingly, none of the articles and none of the people with whom I communicated said anything about any camp counselor (or my father by name) being involved in the rescue.

Instead, they near-unanimously identified a local resident named Jack Bartovic as the person responsible for holding Klug’s head above water for hours. Local residents Charles Dutcher Edwards and Philip Camp were also identified as participants in the rescue.

The most compelling telling was a lengthy August 29, 1941 Waterbury Republican article consisting of detailed interviews with Bartovic and Emily’s husband:
Joseph Krizan, Jr., had seen the locomotive and cars topple off the track into Hatch Pond at South Kent yesterday as he was mowing the grass in front of his mother's house, just off the South Kent Road.

He and a friend, Jack Bartovic, ran toward the accident as fast as they could...Krizan was the first person to reach the scene. Bartovic didn't get into the car, because he saw a man half in and half out of the water, a short distance away at the other end of the car. It was the fireman, Otto Klug, of Seymour.

Bartovic waded in and held Klug's head above water, for his leg was caught. Later they found it had been almost severed and a doctor wanted to cut it off and get Klug out of there, but Klug said, "My leg isn't bad. I won't let you cut if off. I'll wait until the crane gets here and they lift the car off me."

So Bartovic stayed with him for more than two hours, and the crane lifted the car and then Klug saw that his leg was hanging only by flesh.

Krizan and Bartovic told their stories as they watched the wrecking crew working on the derailed trains in the late afternoon sunlight that slated off the green quiet hills.
In a March 25, 2003 e-mail, Marge Smith wrote me: “Emily Krizan stopped by here today with some thoughts for me to pass along to you… (She got into a discussion with Marge [Edwards]) Richards, who is sure that her husband was the one to hold up Klug's head. But we feel positive that several people had that task, as the poor man was in the water for many hours. Emily and her husband had a dear friend named Jack Bartovic (no longer alive), who also held up Klug's head. Many years later, Klug knocked on Jack's door and came in to thank him for helping to save his life. Jack said he remembered Klug begging them to save his leg because he could feel it.”

At the time I also interviewed Jacob “Jack” Handelsman – the camp counselor my father told the Times reporter had “rowed out to help me.” Dr. Handelsman, then a prominent surgeon at Johns Hopkins, vividly recalled how he and my father safely escorted the young campers off the train to the road adjacent to the tracks. However, he'd never heard anything about my father being involved in Klug's rescue and didn’t remember anything about a rowboat. When I asked him about the bravery award given to my father, he expressed surprise because they'd remained friends and my dad had never told him about it.

Via my father's 2014 memoir, Heimlich's Maneuvers. Click here for a copy of the chapter.

My father's 2014 memoir recounted the Hatch Pond train wreck in which he portrayed himself as a lone hero who had "been in the water (with Klug) for two hours" until "police and medical personnel finally arrived." More recently, his obituary in the December 19 Wall Street Journal repeated the 1941 New York Times version about how my father “held up the head of one of the train workers until help was able to arrive.”

In the course of corresponding with the Journal about the apparent roles of Jack Bartovic and other area residents, I again reached out to the Kent Historical Society. That resulted in a gracious invitation to write this article which I hope generates more information from readers. To get the ball rolling, I composed and uploaded this page to to my website that includes all articles and related information I’ve obtained:

Do you have more documents and/or information to share? If so, please contact me and/or the Kent Historical Society.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Did NY Times standards editor Greg Brock & public editor Liz Spayd violate Integrity Guidelines? I've asked the paper's attorney who handles employee concerns


On January 31, the Washington Post ran Media outlets choke on Heimlich obituaries by Erik Wemple about my string of successful requests for published corrections for errors in obituaries about my father.

He suggested that the corrections/amendments I got "from some of the biggest names in the news business, over a single news topic" may be a record.

Needless to say, journalists can be reluctant to publish corrections, therefore I was impressed by the professionalism and courtesy I experienced at most of those news outlets.

Then there's the New York Times.

Robert D. McFadden's December 17, 2016 Times obituary about my father included some factual errors along with what I considered to be some reportorial errors.


In response to polite, thoroughly-documented inquiries and my patient follow-ups that dragged on for weeks, I got the bum's rush, first from standards editor Greg Brock and then from public editor Liz Spayd, both of whom refused to discuss any of the facts. They both just told me to take a hike.

So I hiked over to Mr. Wemple at the Post.

After he followed up on my behalf, Mr. Brock was shamed into doing his job -- at least part of it.

That is, the Times published one correction, but failed to address another factual error as well as some reportorial concerns I brought to their attention.

According to the paper’s Guidelines on Integrity
Reporters, editors, photographers and all members of the news staff of The New York Times share a common and essential interest in protecting the integrity of the newspaper. As the news, editorial and business leadership of the newspaper declared jointly in 1998: "Our greatest strength is the authority and reputation of The Times. We must do nothing that would undermine or dilute it and everything possible to enhance it."

...(It) means that the journalism we practice daily must be beyond reproach.

Corrections. Because our voice is loud and far-reaching, The Times recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small. The paper regrets every error, but it applauds the integrity of a writer who volunteers a correction of his or her own published story. Whatever the origin, though, any complaint should be relayed to a responsible supervising editor and investigated quickly. If a correction is warranted, fairness demands that it be published immediately. In case of reasonable doubt or disagreement about the facts, we can acknowledge that a statement was "imprecise" or "incomplete" even if we are not sure it was wrong
Re: the processing of my corrections request, I wanted to learn if Mr. Brock, Ms. Spayd, or others had violated those or other employee guidelines, so today I sent this inquiry to Marcijane Kraft, an attorney at the paper who handles concerns about employees.

After I receive her response, I'll report it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Complaint re: two Greensboro, NC, apparel companies filed with state Attorney General by London executive

London-based business executive Demi Bender is the daughter of my friend, the formidable medical journalist Marika Sborbos.

Today Demi sent a consumer complaint to the Attorney General of North Carolina about a couple of Greensboro apparel companies.

According to her letter, she ordered merchandise from one of them -- Lotus Leggings -- never got the goods, and the company has ignored her follow-up inquiries.

She also learned that there's apparently a sister company at the same address -- a mailbox at a US Postal station -- called Lulu Tops.

Based on the links to consumer review websites in her letter, both companies appear to have, um, fallen short when it comes to customer satisfaction.

For example, here's a YouTube video posted a year ago called Lulu Tops Took My Money (which includes some lively posted comments).

The Sidebar prides itself as a platform for fashionista consumer advocacy, so I invited Demi to post her complaint here.

I've redacted her e-mail address, but you may send her a tweet here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

For decades PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has campaigned against using animals in medical research, but says she probably owes her life to my father's namesake maneuver -- which was developed using dogs as research models

PETA president and cofounder Ingrid Newkirk and a four-legged friend (source)

Ingrid Newkirk is the well-known president and cofounder of People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) which for decades has campaigned against the use of animals in medical research.

Ironically, she says she probably owes her life to medical research in which dogs were used as experimental subjects.

As widely reported, my father died on December 16. A few days ago Ms. Newkirk posted this remembrance on an online web page commemorating my father's life:

Via her introduction to my father's essay in One Can Make A Difference:
I am including Dr. Heimlich as an essayist because I not only admire him and have enjoyed knowing hint personally - he is full of good jokes and clever thoughts and is staunchly opposed to animal experiments - but because he has saved countless people's lives. In fact, while the Heimlich maneuver has saved the lives of celebrities such as Cher, Goldie Hawn, and even former president Ronald Reagan, it also probably saved mine.
One morning I was, as usual, doing too many things at once, dashing about in the office, eating a breakfast sandwich, and putting paper in the copier, when I choked. It was early and only the man who vacuums our carpets was in the building, somewhere downstairs. I suddenly realized how difficult it would be, even if I could find hint quickly, to get him to understand that my airway was blocked, that I couldn't breathe. Drawing on what I remembered of Dr. Heimlich's advice, I thrust myself forward, with force, over a chair. That action dislodged the bit of sandwich and I could breathe again.
Via Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary, my father's first article describing what he then called "the Heimlich method," published in the June 1974 issue of the journal Emergency Medicine (EM):
The procedure is adapted from experimental work with four 38-pound beagles, in which I was assisted by surgical research technician Michael H. McNeal. After being given an intravenous anesthetic, each dog was "strangled" with a size 32 cuffed endotracheal tube inserted into the larynx. After the cuff was distended to create total obstruction of the trachea, the animal went into immediate respiratory distress as evidenced by spasmodic, paradoxical respiratory movements of the chest and diaphragm. At this point, with a sudden thrust. I pressed the palm of my hand deeply and firmly into the abdomen of the animal a short distance below the rib cage, thereby pushing upward on the diaphragm. The endotracheal tube popped out of the trachea and, after several labored respirations, the animal began to breathe normally. This procedure was even more effective when the other hand maintained constant pressure on the lower abdomen directing almost all the pressure toward the diaphragm.

We repeated the experiment more than 20 times on each animal with the same excellent results When a bolus of raw hamburger was substituted for the endotracheal tube, it, too, was ejected by the same procedure, always after one or two compressions.

...Should you use, or learn of anyone, using, the Heimlich method, by the way, please report the results either to EM or to me.
Does Ms. Newkirk owe her life to those four "strangled" beagles? Obviously, that's impossible to determine, but it's certainly a brain teaser.

Here's another puzzler to ponder.

If my father and Mr. McNeal had never conducted the research using the beagles, his namesake maneuver might never have come to be.

As a determined advocate against the use of animals in research, would Ms. Newkirk have preferred that they not have conducted research that may have saved her life and which -- according to Erik Wemple's January 31, 2017 Washington Post article about my recent success obtaining published corrections to errors in a number of my father's obituaries -- has been "credited with saving thousands of people from choking to death..."?

I'm e-mailing that question to Ms. Newkirk with an invitation to provide any additional comment.

Note: I have zero expertise regarding the use of animals in medical research, so I have no positions or opinions on the subject.

Friday, January 20, 2017

My NJ public records lawsuit: Judge Georgia Curio upholds her decision permitting out of state residents (like me) to access public records

Via Judge Won’t Reconsider OPRA Decision, Non-Residents May View Public Records by Karen Knight, Cape May County Herald, January 19, 2016:
A New Jersey Superior Court judge has rejected a motion to reconsider a decision she made that allows out-of-state residents access to public records under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).

The Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC) filed a motion Nov. 11, 2016, asking Superior Court Assignment Judge Georgia Curio, to reconsider her Oct. 24, 2016, decision because the state Government Records Council (GRC) changed its position, saying it is "proper to deny access to out-of-state requestors."

The EIRC also submitted two court decisions they became aware of after their case was presented to Curio where the judges ruled that out-of-state requestors did not have any rights to the benefits of the Act.

Peter Heimlich, an Atlanta, Ga.-based investigative blogger, filed a lawsuit in June 2016 challenging the EIRC's denial for records filed under OPRA because he was not a state resident.
Attorney C.J. Griffin, of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, represented Heimlich. She specializes in First Amendment law.
Also see Judge: Anyone May Access Records by Karen Knight, Cape May County Herald, October 21, 2016 and I won my NJ public records lawsuit -- here's my attorney's statement, The Sidebar, October 13, 2016.

Congratulations and big thanks to my attorney C.J. Griffin and her associate Michael Zoller!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The BMJ's obit for my father uses the "q" word

Sidebar readers may recall the one-of-a-kind 2010 obituary by Jeanne Lenzer in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) about the unusual career of my father's 30-year colleague, Edward A. Patrick MD PhD, who "claimed that he was the co-developer of the Heimlich manoeuvre, which he referred to as the 'Patrick-Heimlich manoeuvre.'"

More recently, Dr. Patrick turned in many of the mainstream media obituaries of my father, including the New York Times, Reuters, WCPO (Cincinnati's ABC-TV affiliate), and USA Today.

A couple days ago the BMJ published a two-page obituary of my father by Bob Roehr, "an independent biomedical journalist who writes for a variety of trade and consumer publications," according to his online bio.

I had some reportorial questions that I e-mailed yesterday to Mr. Roehr. For example, I was curious why his article (which is behind a subscription paywall) failed to mention Dr. Patrick. I'll blog about that after I receive his answers.

For now, here's a snip that puts into the record a word which publications may have been reluctant to use while my father was alive.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I filed a misconduct complaint against Cincinnati Enquirer editor Peter Bhatia -- here's why (Part II)

Per Part I, on Monday I sent Cincinnati Enquirer news executive Peter Bhatia a list of what I considered seven reportorial errors in veteran Cincinnati reporter Cliff Radel's December 17, 2016 obituary of my father. I also asked him to provide me with the name of the supervising editor on the article.

Also in part I, on Tuesday I fact-checked what appeared to be these factual errors.

Radel claimed that the American Red Cross (ARC) did not use the term "Heimlich maneuver" in their first aid literature because my father demanded that they remove his name. In an e-mail in which I copied Bhatia, I asked the ARC if that was accurate.

Radel also reported that the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver received the Lasker Award. I e-mailed the Lasker Foundation and got a prompt, courteous reply from David Keegan, the organization's Awards Program Director who confirmed Radel got that wrong.

I promptly forwarded Keegan's reply to Bhatia and to Brent Jones, Standards and Ethics Editor at USA Today, which had same-day published a shorter version of Radel's article (which included the Lasker error).

That's when things got interesting.

Subject: Re: request for published corrections
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2017 19:29:29 +0000

Peter: We will run a correction on the Lasker awards. I would note it was correct that your father won the award. We already fixed the bad headline. Otherwise, we leave you to your blog.

Peter Bhatia
Editor and Vice President, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Ohio editor for the USA TODAY Network

Subject: Re: request for published corrections
Cc:,, Ben Kaufman/Cincinnati CityBeat


Thank you for the heads-up and for the fixes, although I didn't appreciate your snide remark. Why blame me for catching reportorial errors when a lightweight like Cliff was assigned to write an obituary for someone as newsworthy and important as my father? 

In any event, just to confirm re: my Monday inquiry to you.

Based on your recent e-mail, my understanding is that the Enquirer has no intention of correcting the Belle Jacobson error; no interest in addressing Fred Webster's contradiction of my father's dubious tale about the Chinese soldier; and no interest in including anything about my father falsely claiming credit for inventing the esophagus operation.

I also asked you for the name of Cliff's editor on the obit. Can you share that, please?

Finally, re: this from Cliff's article:

The Red Cross’ inclusion of the back slaps offended Heimlich. So, in 1976, he asked the organization to remove his name from their first-aid literature for choking. That’s why the term "abdominal thrusts" is used.
Per my Monday inquiry to you, that last sentence is contradicted by information from the American Red Cross. I have an inquiry to the ARC and will let you know the result.

Cheers, Peter

Subject: Re: request for published corrections
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2017 20:48:09 +0000

Not sure what was snide. If you took what I said that way there was no intent. In any case, yes, our correspondence is completed.

That tore it.

I don't care how many Pulitzers Bhatia has been associated with.

A journalist and reader's representative doesn't care whether or not his newspaper is providing readers with accurate information and also refuses to disclose the name of a supervising editor?

I should add that last summer a lengthy Enquirer article revisted a 15-year-old story hyping the use of the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescue, a thoroughly-discredited treatment that has reportedly been associated with dozens of poor outcomes, including kids.

Whose idea was it to revisit this obscure story? I wanted to learn how it got into the paper, who was the supervising editor, and shouldn't the article be appended with a note informing readers that the treatment was unapproved and might injure or perhaps kill someone?

Bhatia and other Enquirer news staff refused to provide me with the name of the supervising editor or to append the article.

Back to Radel's article, you'll recall I copied Bhatia on my fact-checking inquiry to the ARC and clearly Bhatia didn't give a fig how they responded.

A few minutes after I got his "our correspondence is completed" e-mail, I received the ARC's reply on which Bhatia was copied.

I included it in the following e-mail.

Subject: complaint 
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2017 18:23:46 -0500

Joanne Lipman
Senior Vice President, Chief Content Officer
Gannett Inc.

Dear Ms. Lipman:

This is a complaint against Peter Bhattia of the Cincinnati Enquirer for professional misconduct. Would you please review the following and forward this e-mail to the responsible human resources managers at Gannett and the Enquirer? I would appreciate being copied on those e-mails.

1) In an e-mail two days ago (which I posted on my blog) I brought to Mr. Bhatia's attention a number of reportorial concerns in Cliff Radel's December 17, 2016 obituary of my father, including what appeared to be a string of factual errors.

Per the e-mails below my signature, today I fact-checked and tagged one of those errors -- Mr. Radel incorrectly reported that the Wright Brother and George Washington Carver received the Lasker Award. After I shared that information with Mr. Bhatia -- an e-mail to me from an executive at the Lasker Foundation -- he agreed to publish a correction for that error. He also agreed to correct the headline on Mr. Radel's article which erroneously identified my father as a Cincinnati native. (Per my e-mail to Mr. Bhatia, the headline error was tagged and reported by former Enquirer reporter Ben Kaufman in his most recent Cincinnati CityBeat media watch column.)

However, for reasons that remain unclear, Mr. Bhatia refused to address the other apparent errors I brought to his attention.

Further -- and considerably more disconcerting -- in an e-mail this afternoon he terminated our correspondence despite the fact that in an e-mail a few minutes earlier, I informed him that I had a fact-checking inquiry in to the American Red Cross (ARC) regarding this questionable information in Mr. Radel's article:

The Red Cross’ inclusion of the back slaps offended (Dr.) Heimlich. So, in 1976, he asked the organization to remove his name from their first-aid literature for choking. That’s why the term “abdominal thrusts” is used.
To reiterate, Mr. Bhatia made it clear he did not care how the ARC might respond to my inquiry. In other words, he did not care whether the information in Radel's article was accurate or not.

Shortly after receiving Mr. Bhatia's e-mail terminating our correspondence, I received the following e-mail. Please note that Mr. Bhatia was copied by Mr. Lauritzen.

From: Don Lauritzen
Subject: FW: blogger inquiry
Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2017 21:44:40 +0000

Mr. Peter M. Heimlich:

Please accept our condolences regarding the passing of your father.

Following are responses to your questions.

Throughout history, the American Red Cross has recommended different protocols for removing foreign body obstructions blocking airways based on the most up-to-date science available on First Aid, CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Our current recommendation is using cycles of 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts to treat conscious choking children and adults. For conscious choking infants, the Red Cross recommends using cycles of 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts.

The American Red Cross uses the term ‘abdominal thrusts’ in our training materials because it describes the action that people are performing. The term represents the correct medical and generic term used in evidence reviews and guidelines documents. We do not have any record of Dr. Heimlich prohibiting us from using the term ‘Heimlich Maneuver’ and are not aware of the use of the term in any American Red Cross training materials including those developed before 1976.

Thank you.

Don Lauritzen
Communications Officer

American Red Cross
National Headquarters
431 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Since Mr. Bhatia terminated his correspondence with me, this is to request that you contact a responsible editor at the Enquirer and arrange for a published correction to Mr. Radel's article based on Mr. Lauritzen's e-mail.

2) As you may recall from my correspondence with you last summer, in response to multiple polite requests, without explanation Mr. Bhatia refused to provide me with the name of the supervising editor for this August 18, 2016 Enquirer article, 15 years later: Lifeguard, swimmer recall close call by Brett Milam. 

Today Mr. Bhatia also refused to provide me with name of the editor responsible for Mr. Radel's obituary of my father.

This is to request that you contact a responsible editor at the Enquirer, obtain the names of the supervising editors on those two articles, and that you provide me with those names.

3) In order to determine if Mr. Radel's article requires further correcting, would you also please ask a responsible editor to review the other reportorial concerns about Mr. Radel's article which I brought to Mr. Bhatia's attention and which he refused to address?

4) Finally, this is to request that your office provide me with a determination if Mr. Bhatia's actions are in compliance with Gannett policy.

Thank you for your time/consideration and I look forward to your reply.


Peter M. Heimlich
ph: (208)474-7283


Michael Kilian, The Enquirer
Ben Kaufman, Cincinnati CityBeat

Yesterday Ms. Lipman e-mailed me that she'd turned the matter over to Brent Jones.

Here's the original and the revised headline on Radel's article:


The article is now appended with:

Even though Bhatia was informed by Don Lauritzen, at this writing the false information about the American Red Cross acceding to my father's demands is still in Radel's article.

At this writing, the USA Today version of the obit still includes this error:

Finally, I sincerely appreciated Don Lauritzen's kind condolence note and I promptly e-mailed him a warm thank-you.