Monday, August 24, 2020

Here's why the New York Times "disappeared" a strong critical quote from a prominent Georgia Republican about Marjorie Taylor Greene, a GOP QAnon follower likely headed for Congress

Republicans willing to criticize the bizarre, delusional conspiracy theory known as QAnon are harder to find than hen's teeth.

So when this critical quote by Karen Handel -- a GOP household name in my state of Georgia who is now running for Congress in a district adjacent to mine -- showed up on the evening of August 11 in a New York Times report by veteran journalists Matthew Rosenberg, Astead W. Herndon and Nick Corasaniti -- Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon Supporter, Wins House Primary in Georgia -- it unquestionably had news value for readers and for the record:

But the next morning, here's the same part of the story:

The updated version included no explanation to readers why Ms. Handel's quote was scrubbed -- the original version's available via The Wayback Machine -- so via emails and tweets I asked the three reporters

No reply, so I emailed and left a voice message for the paper's Politics Editor Patrick Healy.


No reply, so I left a voice message and emailed Standards Editor Philip Corbett who replied later that day.

Time: Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 6:25 PM
From Phil Corbett <>
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry with editorial concern

Dear Mr. Heimlich,

Thank you for your note. I've gone over this with the editor who worked on that story, and I am confident that there were no ethical problems in how it was handled. This was simply routine editing of a live, developing story that went through multiple versions online and in print.

The story changed and grew during the evening, particularly with more material on the Ilhan Omar race in Minnesota. As often happens, some earlier material was cut as new material was added. (In print, of course, we still have finite space for a story. And even online, editors often cut material to keep a story at a manageable length for readers.)

The final version continued to make the point that some Republicans opposed Greene, and included examples beyond Handel.

To your related question, we append corrections or editors' notes when a story has been changed to fix a factual error or other journalistic lapse; we don't append notes to point out other, routine editing changes, which would do little to serve the typical reader.

Best regards,
Philip B. Corbett
Associate Managing Editor for Standards
The New York Times

In my thank-you reply, I politely expressed my disagreement with the decision and asked Mr. Corbett to verify the accuracy of the MIA quote to which he replied:

(Obviously) if we thought the quote was wrong, we would do a correction.

Therefore, even though the quote's no longer in the paper of record, in my opinion it's still in the record.

Along the way I also asked Karen Handel to verify the quote. Perhaps not surprisingly, I didn't receive a reply.

Via the Associated Press report about her victory in the GOP primary, here's Marjorie Taylor Greene:

“So the Republican establishment was against me. The D.C. swamp has been against me. And the lying fake news media hates my guts,” she said. “Yep, it’s a badge of honor.”

Based on her incendiary words, I assumed Ms. Greene would welcome the opportunity to fling some fire and brimstone at the New York Times for scrubbing a critical quote about her. After all, couldn't doing so be construed as "lying" to readers?

And the scrubbed quote came from Ms. Handel who could certainly be considered a member of the "Republican establishment." 

So I twice emailed a polite request for a comment to the outspoken Ms. Greene, assuming she'd welcome a seemingly juicy opportunity to condemn these twin targets of her opprobrium.

Based on casual observation, she appears to be a woman of few silences, so I was surprised not to receive a reply.

In any event, if one of Ms. Greene's potential constituents or someone else asks her about Ms. Handel denouncing her as unfit to be in the GOP, I'd be interested in the results.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Scorching letter & press release from Will Knight, a candidate in the current race for Maricopa County Attorney, calling out opponent Julie Gunnigle re: her role in the abusive, baseless prosecution of Annabel Melongo


Last week I blogged High-profile Arizona political race pulls in the Save-A-Life Foundation scandal & the Annabel Melongo cases about a skeleton in the closet of Julie Gunnigle, a Phoenix attorney running in the upcoming Democratic primary for Maricopa County Attorney. 

Since then I was directed to the June 25, 2020 public letter and press release below that by one of her opponents, attorney Will Knight.

The original version of this item only included the letter.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

High-profile Arizona political race pulls in the Save-A-Life Foundation scandal & the Annabel Melongo cases

Just when I thought I'd heard the last of the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) scandal and the Annabel Melongo cases, both turned up this week in a political campaign scrum in Phoenix.

Some quick catch-up.

I've called the SALF scandal -- which I uncovered in 2004 and subsequently drove through the media via dozens of exposes -- a microcosm of Illinois corruption.

SALF was a high-profile, politically-connected Chicago nonprofit that received $9 million in federal and state tax dollars to provide first aid training to school kids.

The bad news? Records indicate that few students received any training.

In late 2009, a few months after dropping a failed, nuisance lawsuit filed against me and two other critics, SALF was dissolved.

There she became an official in the Republican party, a seeming slap in the face to some of SALF's biggest funders and promoters, all of whom have a (D) after their names: Dick Durbin, Arne Duncan, Gery Chico, and Lisa Madigan.

Meanwhile on a parallel track, former SALF employee Annabel Melongo was caught up in a seemingly endless legal nightmare.

P: How does Annabel Melongo fit into the SALF saga and would you consider her a sympathetic figure?

Peter Heimlich: On October 31, 2006, Spizzirri swore out felony charges against Annabel Melongo, a former SALF employee who left the company months earlier. Based on Spizzirri's word and little else, Schiller Park cops arrested Melongo on dubious charges that she destroyed SALF's computers. That triggered eight years of relentless, baseless, and ultimately unsuccessful prosecutions of Melongo by the Illinois criminal justice system. In a wide-ranging federal civil rights lawsuit, Melongo is now suing Spizzirri and others responsible for the abuse she endured.

That abuse included a nearly two-year jail stretch. Here's what happened.

Melongo hosted a website challenging the bogus computer tampering charges which included recordings of two mundane phone converations she had with a court clerk.

In retaliation, the Cook County State's Attorney charged her under the state's draconian Eavesdropping Act for which a judge levied a $300,000 bond against her.

A $300,000 bond for uploading recordings of two routine phone calls? Welcome to the Cook County justice system.

By then Melongo was near-destitute and didn't have the $30K to put up for the bond so at considerable expense, Illinois taxpayers paid her room and board at the County Jail while their legal system continued to kick her around.

But Melongo was made of tough stuff. She became an able jailhouse lawyer and through her efforts, helped strike down the Eavesdropping Act in the Illinois Supreme Court in early 2014 and a few months later, per my scoop, the state then dropped the bogus computer tampering charges.

Meanwhile, Melongo filed a wide-ranging civil rights lawsuit against Spizziri and a number of law enforcement officials who unsuccessful tried to ruin her.

Earlier this year the case wrapped up with Melongo getting an undisclosed settlement from Spizzirri.

I figured that was the final act, but this week found the ghosts of SALF haunting a contentious political race in the Grand Canyon State.

Via the June 30 Arizona Republic, Maricopa County attorney candidate accused of misconduct in decade-old case by Lauren Castle:

A decade-old civil lawsuit out of Illinois is being used to attack the credibility of Maricopa
County attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle.

...Gunnigle, a former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, was forced to address allegations of misconduct related to her role in the Illinois lawsuit after an employee with the Mass Liberation Project mentioned the case during a recent candidate forum.

...While Gunnigle was with Cook County, she helped prosecute Annabel Melongo, who worked for a now-defunct nonprofit organization called the Save-A-Life Foundation.

In 2006, Melongo was accused of deleting financial files and charged with computer tampering.

...Melongo alleged that she discovered some discrepancies in her court records and started to
record phone calls with court reporters. She posted the recordings and transcripts on a
website chronicling her efforts to defend herself.

In 2008, she was arraigned on new charges of computer tampering. The docket sheet said she wasn't there but the hearing transcript stated she was present, according to a civil lawsuit.

The Illinois assistant attorney general directed a forensic expert to look into the website, according to court records. Later that year, Gunnigle and two other prosecutors with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office started an investigation.

Melongo was later charged with eavesdropping and using information that was obtained through a eavesdropping device. She spent about 20 months in jail awaiting trial.

Before the trial, Melongo filed a motion to dismiss claiming the state's eavesdropping law was unconstitutional. The case eventually went all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which overturned the state's eavesdropping law in 2014.

In 2013, Melongo filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Gunnigle and other prosecutors, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, law enforcement, court reporters, a forensic science expert, the state's assistant attorney general and the attorney general.

She accused officials of conspiracy, unreasonable seizure, false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, emotional distress, consumer fraud and deceptive business practices, and breach of fiduciary duty. The lawsuit also accused officials of violating her rights of free speech, equal protection, freedom of press and petition.

The lawsuit was dismissed last year after a settlement was reached.

...Shortly after the forum, Gunnigle wrote an open letter to voters. She said the case taught her a lot about the problems of the criminal justice system.

...(Will) Knight, one of Gunnigle's opponents, sent a letter to the Maricopa County Democratic Party about his thoughts on the incident.

..."I will never shrink away from my commitment to protect marginalized communities from powerful people," he said. "Maricopa County’s voters are tired of footing the bill for public officials who abuse vulnerable populations, and Ms. Gunnigle’s brand of Chicago-style corruption is not welcome."

Monday, June 29, 2020

In my Georgia county, there are calls to remove a monument to the Confederacy installed in 1993; here's who voted for & against installing it & why


Via New Confederate monuments are still being built across the country — even in Union states by Kimberly Kindy Julie Tate, Washington Post, October 8, 2017:
At least 50 smaller Confederate monuments have been built since 1990, including a bronze statue near a courthouse in Cleburne, Tex., and a tombstone-shaped monument on the grounds of a public elementary school in Prattville, Ala. Even Union states have them: Two Confederate monuments have been erected in Iowa in the past 12 years.

Newer monuments are popping up mostly in rural towns and tend to laud foot soldiers rather than Confederate generals and political leaders. All but seven are in Confederate states and 60 percent are on public land.
Via Gwinnett Solicitor General Brian Whiteside asks for removal of confederate monument in Lawrenceville, says it's been a target of vandals by Curt Yeomans, Gwinnett Daily Post, June 27, 2020:
Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside is asking the county commission to remove a controversial Confederate memorial from the Lawrenceville Square that the prosecutor said has been the target of vandals multiple times recently.

Whiteside’s request comes one week after Gwinnett County commission District 1 candidate Kirkland Carden and former 7th Congressional District candidate Nabilah Islam launched a petition calling for the monument’s removal. The memorial stands on the grounds of the Gwinnett County Historic Courthouse and was erected in 1993.
I live in Gwinnett County and was curious to know how the monument came to be so I filed a public records request with the county. The key responsive records from Spring 1992 are posted below; click here to download.

Via the minutes of a commission meeting, here's how commissioners voted after reviewing a February 24, 1992 memorandum from Human Services Director Mike Huff and a presentation by Bob Biggers. (I obtained the identifiers below from county Communications Director Joe Sorenson; he didn't know who Mr. Biggers was. (If you do or if you have other information to share, please email me.)


W.J. Dodd, District 1 Commissioner, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners (1989 – 1992) [Dodd also served as Sheriff from 1969 through a portion of 1985]

Doug Williamson, District 2 Commissioner, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners (1991-1994)

Renee Unterman, District 4 Commissioner, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners (1991 – 1994)

Lillian Webb, Chairman, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners (1985 – 1992)


Curtis McGill. District 3 Commissioner, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners (1989 – 1992)

The only name I recognize is Renee Unterman who was recently defeated in a bid to represent my congressional district. If time permits, I'll ask her and any other surviving commissioners for comment.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Last week on the Tonight Show, actor Halle Berry claimed that in 2002, co-star Pierce Brosnan used the Heimlich maneuver to save her from choking to death -- but six years ago she told The Hollywood Reporter she'd never been "Heimlich-ed"


To:, EIC Matthew Belloni 
Cc: Ryan Parker, Seth Abramovitch, Tonight Show publicist Amber James
subject: Letter to the editor (submitted for publication)
Date: Sun, Apr 26, 2020 at 3:18 PM 

To the editor: 

According to an April 22, 2020 story by THR reporter Ryan Parker, last week on the Tonight Show actor Halle Berry told Jimmy Fallon that in 2002, her co-star Pierce Brosnan used my father's namesake anti-choking maneuver to save her from choking to death while filming a love scene for the James Bond thriller, Die Another Day

However, six years ago in Seth Abramovitch's award-winning August 14, 2014 THR investigative report, How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure" -- based on research by my wife and me -- "(Ms.) Berry has denied being saved by the (Heimlich) maneuver." 

So which is it? 

Presumably Mr. Brosnan, Die Another Day director Lee Tamahori, and others involved in the picture can resolve the discrepancy. Also, since Ms. Berry claims it happened mid-scene, if the cameras were still rolling that would be some dramatic, newsworthy footage. 


Peter M. Heimlich 
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USA 
ph: (208)474-7283 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Is a Greenville, SC, chiropractor/social media star using patients to test an experimental medical device? I've asked the state to review [UPDATES: 1) Vendor of the "Y-Strap" wrote me that the device is not marketed to be used for any medical treatment; 2) The FDA's taking a look]

Click here to direct download a copy of my letter today to South Carolina's licensing agency requesting of review of chiropractor Joseph Cipriano's use of the "Y-Strap decompression tool."

The Y-Strap is a black, mostly fabric harness that looks like something from an S&M dungeon. In Joseph Cipriano’s YouTube videos, it's placed behind the necks of prone patients who, in the moment before the crack, typically tense as if bracing for a crash.

Cipriano, a chiropractor based in Greenville, South Carolina, has become a YouTube sensation in the past 18 months, taking his channel from inception last March to more than 850,000 subscribers ...“I literally watched every video I could find on the Y-Strap first,” says Xavier, a patient of Cipriano’s. “It’s pretty daunting to think you’re allowing someone to pull apart your spine like a Lego.”

“Coowaa,” goes the sound as Cipriano yanks the Y-Strap and patient's skull away from their body: a mix of them being dragged and cracks that ricochet down the spine, caused by bubbles forming in the synovial fluid around joints. The noise is followed by either laughter, a grimace, or an emotional release that can include crying. “I feel like I just grew two inches,” says one woman.
Via my letter (which includes links and text from the WiredUK article and another article recently published in Vice):
As a result of research by my wife and me into my father's bizarre career, I developed an interest in experimental medical treatments/devices, medical ethics (including the use of human subjects in unsupervised medical research), and oversight responsibility of public health authorities. The following situation in your state appears to include all of those topics.

...This is to request that your office review the following information and provide me with a determination if (Greenville, SC, chiropractor Joseph) Cipriano’s treatment of his patients using a device called the “Y-Strap decompression tool” is in compliance with your agency’s guidelines.
Superior Balance SL is a company in Seville, Spain, that markets the "Y-Strap" in the US and other countries. Via my letter (on which I courtesy-copied Jeffery Shuren MD JD who heads the US Food & Drug Administration's medical devices division):
I searched and and the FDA’s database of registered devices and failed to locate any information regarding whether the “Y-Strap” is registered with that agency, so yesterday I phoned Superior Balance SL in Seville and a company representative informed me that the device is not registered with the FDA.

When I asked if the device has been the subject of any published studies, the representative replied, “The Y-Strap hasn’t been the subject of any clinical trials. Because there is no clinical proof that it works, we don’t sell it as a medical product.”

Therefore, Mr. Cipriano appears to be using his patients to test the medical benefits of the “Y-Strap.” In your review, would you please determine which if any Institutional Review Board is overseeing his research?
Big hat tip to Myles Power for tweets that introduced me to this story. He also steered me to videos from which I made these clips of Cipriano using the "Y-Strap" to aggressively yank the necks of his patients. (I included the videos in my letter to the state agency that licenses him to practice in the Palmetto State.)

UPDATE: On January 20, Tomas Lopez, president of the Seville, Spain company that markets the "Y-Strap" sent me a complaint email requesting I change this blog item. In a same-day reply, I declined and sent him some questions. I haven't received a reply.

Via his email:
(We) do not market (marketing) [sic] our product as a medical product...

We never say they are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, nor prevent any disease or health condition.
Click here for both emails which I'm sharing shared with South Carolina's licensing agency and the FDA.

UPDATE: On January 27, the FDA wrote me that they're taking a look at my concerns about the "Y-Strap":

Friday, September 27, 2019

Anti-choking devices & Suffolk County, NY, Part I: Lemonade fundraiser campaign to install LifeVacs in local schools heats up!

Via Kids' lemonade stand raises money for life-saving device by Briella Tomassetti, FOX5 NYC, July 15, 2019:
Kathy Romano and her grandchildren are helping to save lives one ice-cold drink at a time. The good Samaritans are spending much of their hot summer days outside, running an old-fashioned lemonade stand. All the proceeds are going towards the purchase of a life-saving choking device called the LifeVac.
"The Life Vac can be done on anyone. It's safe and it's effective. It's saved 25 lives in 25 tries," inventor Arthur Lih says.
 ...So far, about 30 schools on Long Island have added the LifeVac to their safety kits.
...Romano and her grandkids have already raised nearly $1,000, which is enough to purchase roughly three LifeVac devices, with help from the JT's Law Foundation.
"This has to be in every single home, school, everywhere," Romano says.
Her goal is to raise enough money for 19 LifeVac devices: One for every building in her grandchildren's school district.
The report doesn't identify the school district her grandchildren
July 10, 2019 JT's Law Foundation Facebook post:

Via Wikipedia:

Click here for my compilation of reports about the LifeVac by medical organizations, government agencies, and mainstream media.