20120218

18FEB12 News and Skepticism


Gathering informations from various news sources.  Being skeptical, I did a quick Google Search because the first article I read was from a source that for whatever reason got my skepticism in full swing:

http://patriot-newswire.com/2012/02/killer-on-the-loose-grandpa-armed-with-baby-is-swat-veterans-seventh-kill/

Patriot Newswire paints the story of a victim of police brutality.  A 'victim' that the police had absolutely no reason to shoot what so ever because he had a baby in his arms; while the officer who engaged him has been involved in seven shootings now.  Largely, what concerns me about this first source is how they really build up the 'this guy was all about liberty' and part of the 'patriot movement' and so this is a government conspiracy to kill (coming just short of saying it was ordered by the Obama Administration).

Next, I found a local news source:

http://www.kpho.com/story/16937336/man-holding-baby-shot-killed-by-police

I won't say its much better.  It starts out with describing two loaded pistols found feet away (but not on the person) of the man killed.  Being that they weren't on his person, but 'a few feet away' is indeed concerning, especially since the closest one was stuffed in chair cushions in what sounds like out of sight.  By reading this article, we find that Loxas was out walking with his grandson when he got into an argument with neighbors and 'threatened them' with his pistol.  However, we don't know the nature of the argument, or if in fact because Loxas had his grandson in his arms if his 'brandishing' might have in fact been an act of self defense on his part (in which case, frankly he should have retreated and called the police himself to report the incident...  Should be interesting to see if that happened during the course of the investigation).  It is indeed a bit disturbing that they found a 'functional IED'.  Beyond describing Officer Peters as a 12 year veteran, we don't find out much else.  Almost objective, of course they seem focused on 'this guy had guns and explosives in his house'.  While the IED with black powder and ball bearings is a bit suspicious, we all have 'bomb making materials' in our homes (few of us realize it is all).

Then we have MSNBC:

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/16/10428255-grandpa-shooting-arizona-officer-has-five-previous-kills-under-his-belt

They go right into questioning the officer without going into the background of the suspect one bit.  I expect nothing less from them however...

Huffington Post/Associated Press report is similar, but at least provides a considerably longer background on Officer Peters and his 12 year career:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/16/police-officer-shoots-man-with-baby_n_1281450.html

So far, each of these in one form another offers us a skewed perspective.  So, its up to use to do our homework and figure it out.  Frankly, there are questions about both Loxas and Peters.  Over the last few years, I've seen some nut jobs come to the forefront of the 'patriot' movement (locally) and become extremely egotistical.  However at the same time, we've also seen agencies continue to employ much more brutal techniques and leave certain standards behind.  Officer Peters doesn't appear to have fought in GWOT where we have indeed seen suicide bombers use children as decoys, and based on past investigations and based on the quoted lawyer who has represented officers who've had to shoot to kill in the line of duty, his actions do warrant extreme scrutiny in light of the fact that the suspect killed had no weapons on his person and may have not had that pistol even within reach.

This certainly isn't a black and white case of another patriot being snuffed by the evil government, nor is it a clear case of a nut job threat being taken out after losing it.  It is however a case worth following.

20120216

16FEB12 UAV over ND Reply

Just got a reply back about my 12DEC11 inquiry to Representative Don Young's office regarding the use of an RQ-9 in North Dakota: http://trendnemesis.blogspot.com/2011/12/12dec11-uavs-and-local-sheriffs.html

Good news is that it wasn't a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act or USC Title 18.  Bad news is that US DHS isn't just using UAVs to guard the border, but also to monitor activity within the US.

Right off the bat, we do need to establish clear policy regarding the use of UAV's in the US by law enforcement.  Mainly, all the standards to protect our 4th Amendment rights that are applied to all other air frames (helicopters and plans equipped with Forward Looking Infra-Red sensors) are also observed with UAV's so equipped.  Not only should there be established LIMITS to the use of FLIR in regards to protecting private citizens from un-Warranted government intrusion, but also limits to the use of the radar systems used when observing private property.

We face a reality of increasing technological advances in aircraft technology.  That doesn't mean that new laws need to be on the books, as most of the laws on the books especially in the Bill of Rights apply no matter what the technology.  Just as the 1st Amendment applies to the Internet in spite of being written in the 18th Century, so to does the 4th Amendment apply to the use of FLIR and SAR (Signature Aperture Radar).  If anything needs to be written into the books, its policy that limits agencies from abusing the new technology.

Another concern that the greater use of UAVs (I firmly refuse to feed USAF Pilot ego by calling them Remotely Piloted Vehicles) is the air traffic aspect of using un-manned aircraft that limit the situational awareness of the operator.  In theater military airspace control procedures address this concern in a very good manner and simply keep aircraft out of blocks of airspace or altitudes in which UAVs are operating, or they use covert lighting (NVG detectable) devices so that specialized mission aircraft (USSOCOM, name your alphabet soup covert military and CIA unit of choice) don't run into them.  NVG detectable lighting is great, when most of the aircraft that might run into them have pilots with the right equipment.  This is not something acceptable in domestic airspace during peace time by any stretch of the imagination (unless of course they have it in for Civil Aviation).  Neither is blocking off large portions of airspace.  Dense urban areas that rely on "Flight for Life" helicopters, police helicopters (which might be replaced by UAVs), along with News helicopters (again, they might even be replaced by UAVs) are going to experience the worst airspace issues and have the highest probability of mid-air collision.

We already have crowded skies, and problems with aircraft coming far too close to each other with them manned.  Adding UAVs to the mix in a lot of areas outside guarding our borders is going to add to the problem and not solve a damn thing.

Click for Full Size to Read.

20120214

14FEB2012 AK State HB 251, seriously flawed...

Normally I'm all for de-regulation of some practices...  However, in this case, I'm opposed to it.  While the AK State House Bill 251 has good intentions in regard to getting rural residents veterinary care at low to no monetary cost (gratis) it de-regulates so much so that the Veterinary Board of Examiners has no ability to act if a 'doctor' should do something that is far below the standard of care required of State Licensed Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.

http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/27/Bills/HB0251B.PDF

I encourage you to read the bill first before forming your own opinions obviously.

However, I want to also post Dr. Delker's letter from the Alaska State Veterinary Medical Association in opposition to the bill as it is now written.  First however, I'm going to post what I believe Dr. Delker's chief concern, and indeed what stood out as the most serious flaw in HB 251 that the letter he wrote points out:

Section 4- Complaints, Investigations, Hearings…  We do not believe it is proper or ethical to take away the right of a citizen to report misconduct by a professional.  Additionally, to provide an effective “statute of limitations” of 6 months is somewhat reprehensible.  In my practice experience (in another state), I had a client present me with an animal ~9 months after it had surgery elsewhere.  I performed a second surgery to correct the improperly performed first procedure.  Under this bill I would have no right or responsibility to report this to any board and the owner would have no recourse as their “6 month” window had expired.  Another scenario presented by this bill -- A “veterinarian” can come up from Mexico under the banner of “gratis medicine” and potentially cause harm to an animal.  As long as the owner/caretaker doesn’t complain--it’s ok.   Let us suppose the owner/caretaker is concerned.  When we are talking about a rural community, what are the chances this owner will have the resources and finances necessary to track down this professional and pursue litigation - even just weeks after he/she has gone?  Remember in this bill we have already stripped the Veterinary Examining board from any oversight.  We fail to see how this section of HB251 protects Alaskans. (emphasis mine)

There is indeed a purpose to some State Government agencies.  This is indeed one of the areas reserved to the States to regulate as they see fit.  Alaska established a Veterinary Board of Examiners for a good reason, and they serve to address grievances and establish a good Alaskan Standard of Care for our animals (for which they routinely draw fire from animal rights activists...).  They also act on behalf of the citizens to strip mal practicing Veterinarians of their licenses to practice in this state.  Many cases DON'T tie up the Civil and Criminal Court system as a result of agencies like this, as well as the actions of private institutions like the American Veterinary Medical Association and various professional liability insurance agencies that compensate owners and fine doctors (or remove a doctor and/or clinics accreditation and rating within their organization).  They also ensure that pharmaceuticals and medical equipment are kept to specific standards as well, without always going to the USDA and FDA to do so.

Honestly, I think with some serious revisions, this bill could be a better product and assit with providing rural Alaskans with better services without eliminating the oversight that provides them with redress without always having to file a civil lawsuit or seek criminal charges for fraudulent services.

February 10, 2012

Chairman Kurt Olson  
House Labor & Commerce Committee                                                                                                                            
Rm. 24, State Capitol                                                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska  99811

Dear Chairman Olson:

As licensed veterinarians and members of the AKVMA Executive Committee, we have been following HB251 as sponsored by Representative Dick.  Although we understand and support his effort to increase the availability of veterinary health care in rural/bush communities, we have some significant concerns with the bill as drafted.

The purpose of the Veterinary Board of Examiners is to protect the citizens of Alaska.  HB251 strips the Veterinary Examining Board of any oversight or recourse for certain individuals who want to practice gratis medicine in our state.  The bill also proposes to give equivalent rights and privileges to animal health care professionals who may originate in other countries where the
standard of training and health care is far below what we would consider acceptable anywhere in our state or country.  Furthermore, the bill removes the rights of citizens to report harmful activity to animals simply because they do not own them.

The intent of this bill is honorable – enhance veterinarian services in rural Alaska.  But, as written, this measure fails to protect the citizens and pets of Alaska adequately; lowering the standards of medical care not just in rural communities but statewide.  As veterinarians we understand  “field medicine” is not the same as that which can be undertaken in a clinic/hospital structure.
There is no statute that presently prohibits veterinarians from providing gratis veterinary care in Alaska.  These veterinarians are expected, however, to provide competent veterinary services, within a basic standard of care, to the best of their ability given the circumstances under which they provide them.  For example:  A veterinarian spaying an animal in Bethel is not expected to have a completely sterile operatory setting.  But he or she is expected to have as clean an environment as possible, with properly sanitized instruments, using appropriate anesthetics and pain management.  Under current statutes only a veterinarian performing grossly substandard medicine would be investigated by the Examining Board or prosecuted with criminal animal abuse statutes.

Some additional inherent concerns we see with HB251 are outlined below:

Section 1- Persons practicing without compensation… Persons licensed in the United States and most Canadian Provinces have graduated with an AVMA accredited degree.  A veterinary degree from another “country,” as proposed in the bill, is not necessarily equivalent to an AVMA accredited veterinary degree.  In fact there are vast differences in standards of teaching and care.  I
refer to an article from JAVMA that evaluated veterinary education in Mexico and other developing countries--“The accreditation system is poor or nonexistent in other developing nations. (JAVMA 2004) Just because an individual is licensed in another country, does not mean he or she is competent to practice medicine in our country, no matter what the cost.  Accepting a lower
standard of veterinary care in the bush, just because it is free, does not protect our rural residents.
In part (c) of this section there is reference to compensation.  We would all agree that “actual expenses incurred” should include costs of travel, lodging, and supplies.  But allowing all “other nonmonetary consideration” is a bit ambiguous and open to abuse.  Shouldn’t there be a clearer definition or limits on nonmonetary compensation?   Present regulations do not prohibit a veterinarian from receiving shelter, a warm bed, and complimentary meals.

Section 2-  Surrender and reinstatement of a license… We are somewhat ambivalent on this provision, but we don’t see the need for this section.  We are wondering what the intent or purpose of this section is?  Presently a veterinarian can surrender his or her license and leave the state with no questions asked.  If you plan to return to practice you simply continue to pay a nominal Biennial fee and the license will remain active (as long as you meet minimum CE requirements and are not under investigation or prosecution in another state).  In certain states (i.e. MN) you can pay a lesser fee for an “Inactive License.”    This license stipulates you are either absent the state or not practicing more than 2 weeks a year in the state.  This “inactive” status allows personal leave from the state while not requiring re-licensure upon return.  Again this process assumes you have maintained minimum CE requirements upon reactivation.  If this scenario is the intent of the section above, we would recommend the collaboration with Veterinary Examining Board for recommendations.


Section 3-  (7)(A) Professional incompetence… We believe the proposed language is vague and dangerous.  Allowing any veterinarian to practice “unconventional” and “experimental” medicine without any liability would be reckless.  What if the “unconventional medicine” does not immediately harm a pet but places a family member in danger?  Suppose a veterinarian uses an
unlicensed homeopathic rabies vaccine that he or she believes to be effective against the rabies virus.   The pet was not harmed by the vaccine, but this scenario would place the pet and family at risk by allowing “experimental” medicine.  Further, who or what defines “unconventional or experimental,”?  There is  significant risk for abuse due to this section; a veterinarian could cite this section as an excuse for negligent or improper medicine.  We believe all practitioners, whether providing paid or free services, should have to provide care within a minimum safe standard, regardless of where they practice in the state.


Section 4- Complaints, Investigations, Hearings…  We do not believe it is proper or ethical to take away the right of a citizen to report misconduct by a professional.  Additionally, to provide an effective “statute of limitations” of 6 months is somewhat reprehensible.  In my practice experience (in another state), I had a client present me with an animal ~9 months after it had surgery elsewhere.
I performed a second surgery to correct the improperly performed first procedure.  Under this bill I would have no right or responsibility to report this to any board and the owner would have no recourse as their “6 month” window had expired.  Another scenario presented by this bill -- A “veterinarian” can come up from Mexico under the banner of “gratis medicine” and potentially cause harm to an animal.  As long as the owner/caretaker doesn’t complain--it’s ok.   Let us suppose the owner/caretaker is concerned.  When we are talking about a rural community, what are the chances this owner will have the resources and finances necessary to track down this professional and pursue litigation - even just weeks after he/she has gone?  Remember in this bill we have already stripped the Veterinary Examining board from any oversight.  We fail to see how this section of HB251 protects Alaskans.

We truly applaud Rep. Dick for attempting to increase access to veterinary care in rural /bush communities.  We don’t know of any veterinarian in the state who would complain about or argue with someone willing to go into these rural communities and provide needed care.  But the care provided needs to meet basic standards and not harm those being helped.  HB251, as written, does not
protect the constituents in rural communities from substandard care.  We support the intent of this bill but cannot endorse it as written.

We agree to support legislation that improves access to proper veterinary care without lowering the standards of healthcare in the state.

Regards,
Dr.  Jim Delker
Alaska Veterinary Medical Association Executive Committee