Posts Tagged ‘AIRPLANE’

9/11 – In Remembrance

In ALL ARTICLES on September 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Some memories are so powerful, they don’t diminish even 10 years later.

Written by David Granovsky on 9/11/11


Nothing Strange Happened Today

At 83rd street I leave my friend’s apartment with simple thoughts of Starbucks and a walk through Central Park in my head.  Behind me, the building door slams as I take a deep breath of the mid-morning air and squint into the bright sunlight.  Something’s shifted.  A strange vibe fills the air, a tension that unnerves and unsettles me.  I survey the street.  Cars are double parked haphazardly and a fire house is eerily empty.

At 82nd street a harried looking woman in the doorway of a hair salon, her hair half in curlers, smokes a cigarette and wrings her hands simultaneously while dropping long ashes on her purple plastic cape.  I’m drawn to the sound of the TV in the salon with a dozen people crowded around it. I watch in horror over hunched shoulders and past craning necks as the images of the first plane hitting the WTC is rebroadcast.  The powerful silence in the room is punctuated by gasps and groans of ‘oh my god.’

At 81st street I’m in a panic.  My cell is in my hand as I dash down the street.  I’m awkwardly running and calling my parents who live closer to the devastation later called ‘ground zero.’  My call, like so many desperate others’, does not go through.  I’m moving downtown fast with my panic and frustration mixing with the ‘all circuits are busy’ messages.

At 76th street surreality sets in.  I am the only person moving towards the scene of destruction.  There are thousands of people on the streets and they are all hurrying away from ‘ground zero.’  Looks that scream, “are you crazy?” give me isolated cameo appearances of “New York attitude” amongst a sea of distressed faces.  Flat-bed trucks roll past me going North with men and women in business suits, their legs hanging off the edge.  Some stare at their shoes, defeated looks on their hung faces…others, engage in the futile pantomime of curling their cell phones from lap to ear as they try hopelessly to get through to a loved one.

At 74st street groups of people hover around parked cars, leaning in through open windows and listening to radio reports.  Block after block, a scene plays out.  The scene is one I’ve seen in countless movies but never appreciated its implications until now.  Manhattan construction workers, grandmothers, business people and bike messengers, their chaotic myriad daily paths cut short, discarded and gathered anew into a tight knot around a single point.  Focused together, these eclectic groups of people stand shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip united in their nationality, geography and a desperate common interest and need for information.

At 71st street, a brief glimmer of hope; a connection on my cell that lasts just long enough to hear my father’s voice utter one indecipherable word before disconnection.  I jerk to a dead stop in the middle of a once busy intersection, unaware and uncaring that normal laws of pedestrian and vehicular traffic are no longer in effect.  Heart racing, I hit redial repeatedly, trying to reconnect with my Dad as waves of people immersed in their own anxieties split around me.

My surroundings disappear and my non-essential senses flip off as my universe contracts to dual pin points of vision and hearing.  The most significant elements in my life suddenly tighten to the illuminated digits on my cell screen, the blinking of the signal bar and the sounds leaking from my cell.  I futilely strain to hear a sound of hope.  I try to will sounds from my cell other than rapid dial tones and ‘no connection’ messages.  Unnoticed, the most common New York City experience takes place as a rushing pedestrian shoulders past me.  I take apathetic notice of the glistening beads of sweat mixing on my number pad, the sunlight reflecting from a chip in the glass and the redial button emitting its lonely beep.

I’m passing 65th street and I’m at a full run with my phone deep in my pocket.  I’m breathing heavy and sweat is trickling down my face and chest and seeping through my shirt.  I’m running down the middle of the street because the sidewalks are packed and the traffic is limited to the occasional flat bed truck full of people moving slowly uptown.

With my running and breathing heavy and the dark cloud threatening my head, I don’t hear my cell until the third ring!

I frenziedly rip it out of my pocket, clutching tightly to keep it from squirting out of my slippery sweaty hands.

“Hello?” I cry into the phone.

“David!  It’s Dad, I’m ok, we’re ok, are you ok!” says my Dad.

“I’m ok! Where are you?” I ask.

“In New Jersey…” he responds.  They aren’t even in the city.

We share our experiences with each other and the information we have.  My mother jumps into the conversation.  “Are you ok?”  “Yes, are you ok?”  “Are you sure?”

Today, on September 11th, no one thinks it’s strange to see a grown man sitting alone on the dirty curb of 64th street, head bent to almost touching his knees, simultaneously sweating, breathing heavy and crying with his cell phone pressed to the side of his head in a white clawed hand.  Nothing is strange today.




In ALL ARTICLES on November 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Nine current and former FDA medical device reviewers have alleged since 2008 that agency managers improperly overruled their opinions and tried to intimidate them when they went public with their concerns.

I edited the contact information into the stories that I
pasted in. Hopefully, this is a better format and easier
to follow.

Three of them no longer work for the FDA
Contact information for two the researchers that have
been vocal in press interviews is given.

After the three stories, information on the hearing for
airport body scanners on November 17 (in D.C.) is given.

I have added (again) the Union of Concerned Scientists
Integrity In Science Program and their
The A to Z Guide Political Interference in Science http://bit.ly/b2DAKd

This is rampant and applicable to far more than just the
airport body scanner situation.

The same can be said of the “unaccountability” that enables this to exist:>

American Roulette Revolvers R 4 Russians
We use products services oil wells

But one DA convicted 10 corporations

– TK


Former FDA scientist alleges agency discounted concerns about radiation exposure in medical scans

Multiple news releases can be found with the Google search terms;
Dr. Julian Nicholas Food and Drug Administration suppressed radiation

Dr. Julian Nichola
Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo
15004 Innovation Dr S97
San Diego, CA 92128 US
Phone: (858)605-7736 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (858)605-7736      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Could not find e-mail address


Feds dismiss misconduct claims at FDA device unit
Associated Press | Posted: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 10:16 am

For the second time this year, federal inspectors have dismissed allegations by Food and Drug Administration scientists who say they were pressured and harassed by their managers into approving medical devices against their judgment.

The office of inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, concluded there is “no evidence of retaliation” against the employees, according to a one-page memo obtained by The Associated Press. The memo, dated Oct. 14, concludes “this case is closed.”

The inspector general reached a similar finding in February, but agreed to reopen the investigation at the request of federal lawmakers and advocacy groups, including the Project on Government Oversight. The groups complained that the previous investigation was too narrow and did not look into allegations of misconduct that fell short of criminal violations.

A spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment beyond the memorandum.

Nine current and former FDA medical device reviewers have alleged since 2008 that agency managers improperly overruled their opinions and tried to intimidate them when they went public with their concerns. At issue are CT scanners and other medical devices that use radiation to detect or treat diseases. Many of the devices allow lifelike pictures of the human anatomy, but carry a higher risk from radiation than older scans such as X-rays.

In the last year, hundreds of radiation overdoses have been reported with imaging devices, particularly CT scanners, used by hospitals across the country. The whistleblowers have argued that these problems underscore the concerns they raised about such devices.

But in a separate announcement Tuesday, the FDA said it has concluded that CT scanners are safe when used properly. After more than a year of investigation, the agency said, the overdoses probably resulted from improper use by imaging technicians.

The agency recommends several manufacturing changes to make scanners safer to use, including automatic warnings that alert machine operators when radiation doses exceed recommended levels.

The FDA whistleblowers point to multiple occasions in which managers overruled their rejections of medical scanners, without properly documenting the reason, as required by FDA regulations. At least three of the whistleblowers have left the agency in the last year, saying their contracts were terminated after they sent letters of complaint to Congress, the administration and other outside groups.

One of those whistleblowers, Dr. Julian Nicholas, said he has never been interviewed by the inspector general’s office. Nicholas, an Oxford-trained intestinal specialist, said that his contract as a medical reviewer was terminated after he repeatedly opposed approving a CT scanner for routine colon cancer screening. Nicholas said that he objected to exposing otherwise healthy patients to the cancer risks of routine radiation scans.

“It’s hard for me to believe this was a bona fide investigation when they haven’t even contacted the people who reported these violations,” said Nicholas, now a practicing gastroenterologist at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. “Such a huge amount of money is at stake and so many people are affected, that for the (office of inspector general) not to conduct a credible investigation is criminal in itself.”

FDA’s device leadership shared the results of the latest investigation with employees last week, according to a Nov. 5 e-mail obtained by The Associated Press.

The e-mail was written by Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, head of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, to members of his staff. In it he said the investigation found no evidence of retaliation against the scientists who complained nor of “material violation of rules with respect to documenting significant decisions.”

Shuren pointed out in his e-mail that the FDA hired a private contractor last spring to review the device unit’s structure and make recommendations for improving relations between scientists and management. The contractor recommended changes in internal communications and training opportunities, Shuren said.

(Note: who is the “private contractor” ?- TK)


Feds reopen probe into medical scanner approvals
Inspectors to re-examine allegations that FDA scientists were pressured to clear devices

Matthew Perrone, Associated Press Health Writer,
On Tuesday September 28, 2010, 4:52 pm EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal inspectors have reopened an investigation into complaints by Food and Drug Administration scientists who say they were pressured by their managers to approve high-tech medical scanners that could pose harm to patients.

The lead inspector overseeing the matter told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the inquiry into the allegations, which were dismissed in February, is being revisited to look at manager misconduct.

“The original intent of the investigation was to look at criminal matters and our agents did that,” said Gerald Roy, deputy inspector general for investigations in the Department of Health and Human Services. “But I point toward broader issues that really compelled me to take a second look at this and reopen it from an administrative perspective.”

The HHS office of inspector general, which oversees the FDA, closed the case in February after finding there was “no violation of law.”

But the whistleblowers have repeatedly stressed that their grievances involve mismanagement and violations of regulations — which don’t fall under criminal law.

Nine FDA medical device reviewers alleged in 2008 that agency management overruled their opinions without supporting evidence and tried to intimidate them when they went public with their concerns.

At issue are CT scanners, MRI machines and other medical devices that use radiation to detect or treat diseases. Many of the devices allow lifelike pictures of the human anatomy, but carry a higher risk from radiation than older scans such as X-rays.

In recent years, hundreds of radiation overdoses have been reported with imaging devices used by hospitals across the country. The whistleblowers say these problems underscore the concerns they raised about such devices.

The new probe comes after prodding from lawmakers and nonprofit watchdog groups, including the Project for Government Oversight. In a letter to the inspector general Tuesday, the group calls the previous investigation a “sham.”

“If these allegations are true, the FDA is failing in its primary mission of keeping people safe,” said Danielle Brian, the group’s executive director.

An agency spokeswoman said she could not immediately provide comment Tuesday.

Since the FDA whistleblowers went public with their concerns — in letters to Congress and the Obama administration in 2008 and 2009 — at least two scientists have been let go and another has quit after alleged intimidation.

Interviews with the staffers and internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press provide new details of alleged mismanagement in the FDA’s device division.

Central to the scientists’ complaints is an FDA pathway to approval that allows speedy clearance if a device appears comparable to others already on the market.

Former FDA reviewer Dr. Gamal Akabani repeatedly recommended against clearing radiation-emitting devices used to treat cancer under the accelerated system, saying the devices needed to undergo actual testing to prove their safety and effectiveness. Between 2007 and 2008, Akabani said he was frequently pressured by supervisors to change his opinion, he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

In the final incident, Akabani’s manager asked about the health of his wife, who has cancer, and his son, who was born severely handicapped. According to Akabani, the manager suggested his job — and health insurance for his family — would be safe as long as he cooperated with his supervisors.

“It shook me to the core because I realized that he was coercing me,” said Akabani, who resigned from the FDA and currently teaches nuclear physics at Texas A&M University.


Dr. Gamal Akabani
Associate Professor, Nuclear Engineering
Date of Appointment: 2008
Office: 122G Zachry Engineering Center
Phone: 979/458-1699 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              979/458-1699      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: 979/845-6443 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting           979/845-6443      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
E-mail: akabani@ne.tamu.edu
Dr Gamal Akabani Nuclear Engineering radiation dangers



Akabani and other whistleblowers say a key problem at the agency is that managers — who have often spent decades in government — have far less expertise and up-to-date training than the medical reviewers they oversee. Akabani was recruited to the FDA after a decade in the radiology department at Duke University Medical Center.

The whistleblowers also point out that FDA managers are evaluated, in part, on their ability to get speedy reviews of devices, causing them to pressure and sometimes overrule scientists who slow down the process.

In another case of alleged retaliation, an Oxford-trained medical specialist’s contract was not renewed after he repeatedly opposed approving a CT scanner for routine colon cancer screening. Dr. Julian Nicholas said that he objected to exposing otherwise healthy patients to the cancer risks of radiation. He says he was ridiculed by agency managers for “raising the bugaboo of radiation.”

“They conspired against me because I refused to change my expert medical opinion to conform with their desired regulatory outcome,” Nicholas wrote in an e-mail to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg after his termination late last year.

Both Akabani and Nicholas say they were never contacted by the office of inspector general, which they say makes the inspectors’ original report flawed and incomplete.

The inspector general’s office issued a memo to FDA leadership in February when it concluded there had been no criminal violations.

The whistleblowers complain that FDA officials have used the four-page memo to try to dissuade members of Congress from looking into their allegations.

Robert Smith, a former radiology division reviewer who left the agency in July, said FDA leadership assured the whistleblowers that the investigation would be comprehensive.

“It was the FDA’s responsibility to make sure the investigation they requested was properly conducted and reported,” Smith said, “And it was the responsibility of the inspector general to conduct a legitimate investigation — which they know they did not.”




Transportation Security Administration Oversight Hearing

Jena Longo – Democratic Deputy Communications Director (202) 224-8374 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 224-8374      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Nov 17 2010 10:00 AM

Russell Senate Office Building – 253

Feature Image: Capitol 1WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces the following full committee hearing on Transportation Security Administration oversight.

Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact Collenne Wider at 202-224-5511 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              202-224-5511      end_of_the_skype_highlighting at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.

Bookmark  and Share

Witness Panel 1

  • The Honorable John S. Pistole
    Transportation Security Administration



For further information about this meeting, contact:

FDA Medical Devices

Simon Choi, PhD, MPH
Center for Devices and Radiological Health
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Bldg. 66, rm. 5400
Silver Spring , MD 20993
Phone: 301-796-5426 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              301-796-5426      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
E-mail: CDRHImagingInitiative@fda.hhs.gov


Contact The Transportation Security Administration



Allied Pilots Association to boycott full body scanners Updated
Pilots cite health risks, Big Brother Watch agrees

08 Nov 2010 11:56 | by Andrea Petrou | posted in Security

The Allied Pilots Association has announced that it will boycott  full body scanners at airports, citing health risks. 

The world’s largest association of pilots has gone to war following the suspension of an American pilot for refusing to be scanned, as well as fears that that scanners could emit twenty times more radiation than that of which was previously announced by authorities who introduced them.

It now has called on its members to demand a “pat down” search rather than expose themselves to the increased radiation from scanners.

The moves have been backed by privacy organisation Big Brother Watch, which warned that scanners were a danger.

Alex Deane, director of the civil liberties campaign group said: “Scanners are dangerous. There’s a reason that the nurse stands behind a screen when you get an x-ray at hospital. Radiation is potentially harmful, even in small doses, and the regularity with which frequent flyers are exposed to potentially cancer-causing radiation.

“If pilots aren’t going to be scanned, why should members of the public? This stance from a professional group, the world’s leading association of pilots, must shake the government out of its absurd position on scanners.

He also warns that in the UK alone you “cannot opt for a pat-down search instead of a scan”

The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety, which includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health OrganiSation has written a report that states that Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings.

It also says governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation as well as noting that pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning

However according to Mr Deane the British government isn’t doing this. “By making scanning compulsory for all and by failing to publicise this guidance, the British government is failing to do all of these things and is potentially jeopardising the health of vulnerable people as a result. The APA’s stance will hopefully wake our government to that fact,” he said.

This isn’t the first time body scanners have come into the spotlight. Earlier this year campaigners warned that the rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatened to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children.

Last week we also reported that the TSA had rolled out its new Advanced Imaging Technology scanners in 65 airports throughout America. The new technology, which allows security to see through a person’s clothes to reveal any metal bombs, shanks or guns, was questioned for being a violation of privacy rights and posed the question of what would happen if the pictures were leaked.

Alex Deane, of Big Brother Watch, has sent an open letter to the chairman of BALPA – the pilot’s union for the UK’s commercial pilots. It reads:

“You no doubt know that your colleagues in the Allied Pilots Association have issued guidelines recommending that their members do not submit themselves to body scanners at airports.

“This seems sensible given that members of associations such as yours are the most frequent flyers of all, and are therefore already exposed to a higher level of radiation than the rest of the population.

“Furthermore, you are no doubt also aware that Dr David Brenner, head of Columbia University’s Centre for Radiological Research, has concluded in a report which is (as far as I know) entirely uncontested by any scientist or airline body that because the beam from scanners concentrates on the skin – one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body – that the radiation dose from scanners may be up to 20 times higher than first estimated.

“Dr Brenner also concludes that some members of the population are particularly prone to harm from such radiation (he estimates this to be around one in 20 of the population). As far as I know, there has been no research conducted by your Association (or anyone else) to establish whether or not members of your Association fall into that group and are therefore particularly vulnerable as they go through scanners.

“The Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety (which includes the European Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Energy Agency and the World Health Organization) has written an authoritative report that states that

1)    Air passengers should be made aware of the health risks of airport body screenings,

2)    Governments must explain any decision to expose the public to higher levels of cancer-causing radiation

3)    Pregnant women and children should not be subject to scanning (i.e. at all).

“You will no doubt appreciate that in fact none of this has been done in the United Kingdom. To reiterate the point I have made above, you will doubtless also appreciate that if such risks apply to the population at large then they inevitably apply to your members, at a higher level.

“In these circumstances, I was dismayed to see your Association issue blithe assurances in the media yesterday that the scanners were perfectly safe. I simply do not know how you can have reached such a position on the evidence available, and subsequently cannot help but feel that you are failing properly to serve the interests of your members with this position. Why should British pilots fail to receive guidance which reflects the best available scientific evidence, unlike their American counterparts? The consequences of such a position in future years for some or indeed many of your members are potentially most serious.

“I furthermore point out that your Association is widely viewed as a responsible and authoritative body and that your position is – wrongly, in my view – therefore stifling debate in this country.

“Whilst our American friends are now discussing this openly, the British media remains unwilling to engage with this serious issue because of the false reassurance gained from the approach that you have adopted.

“You will appreciate that all that I have written here is said without regard to privacy concerns about the scanners – suffice it to say that my organisation would suggest that such concerns are significant and that if you would like further information of the numerous abuses of body scanner technology by staff, they can be found on our website, www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk.

“I finally note that I was also surprised to read that your spokesman told the press that one can opt for a pat-down instead of going through the scanners. As I’m sure you’re aware, in the United Kingdom, this is simply incorrect. Here, alone in the world, if one’s picked out for a scan one has to be scanned – no scan, no fly. I’m sure that this was inadvertent and that your Association regrets unintentionally misleading people on this point.

“I would be delighted to meet with you to discuss these issues further, or to speak via the telephone or on e-mail if that is more convenient to you.”

%d bloggers like this: