Twitter, Facebook accuse China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Twitter, Facebook accuse China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests

Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked in mainland China by the government but available in Hong Kong

WORLD Updated: Aug 21, 2019 09:35 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Anti-extradition bill protesters react as they watch a documentary protest video during a protest outside Siu Hong station in Hong Kong, China, August 20, 2019.
Anti-extradition bill protesters react as they watch a documentary protest video during a protest outside Siu Hong station in Hong Kong, China, August 20, 2019.(REUTERS)

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter accused China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests. Beijing hit back, saying it had a right to put out its own views.

‘STATE-BACKED CAMPAIGN’

■ The crackdown was rare in the way that it involved a tip-off from one social media firm, Twitter, to another; Facebook.

■ Both said they took the action after observing a coordinated state-backed effort originating in China that undermined the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement in Hong Kong

■ Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher told reporters that the bulk of the Facebook accounts were created in 2018.

■ Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked in mainland China by the government but available in Hong Kong.

COMPARISON TO COCKROACHES

■ In examples provided by Facebook, posts described the protesters as cockroaches who “refused to show their faces.”

■ Examples of posts provided by Twitter included a tweet from a user pretending to be a Hong Kong resident with the comment: “…We don’t want you radical people in Hong Kong. Just get out of here!”

■ In another post cited by Facebook, the protesters in Hong Kong were likened to extremist Islamist militants

CHINA CRIES FOUL OVER CRACKDOWN

■ A Chinese minister said on Tuesday that China had a right to put out its own views.

■ Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, while declining to directly comment on the Twitter and Facebook actions, said: “What is happening in Hong Kong, and what the truth is, people will naturally have their own judgement. Why is it that China’s official media’s presentation is surely negative or wrong?”

ADS ROW

Twitter and Facebook have come under fire from users over showing ads from state-controlled media that criticised the Hong Kong protesters. Twitter said on Monday it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media

First Published: Aug 21, 2019 09:29 IST

India: Donald Trump’s thumbs-up photo with orphaned baby in El Paso sparks controversy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

(TO DONALD TRUMP EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS ALL ABOUT DONALD TRUMP, HE IS SICKENING AND SHALLOW BEYOND HUMAN BELIEF, A TOTAL FRAUD!)(OPED: BY OLDPOET56)

 

Donald Trump’s thumbs-up photo with orphaned baby in El Paso sparks controversy

The optics of the picture of Donald Trump giving a thumbs-up as his wife, Melania, cradles a baby orphaned in the El Paso, Texas mass shooting struck many on social media as demonstrating a lack of empathy or respect for the gravity of the occasion by the president.

WORLD Updated: Aug 10, 2019 09:32 IST

Reuters
Reuters

Reuters
The image was taken on Wednesday at the University Medical Center of El Paso during Donald Trump’s visit to the West Texas border city.
The image was taken on Wednesday at the University Medical Center of El Paso during Donald Trump’s visit to the West Texas border city. (Melania Trump/Twitter)

A photo of US President Donald Trump smiling broadly and giving a thumbs-up as his wife, Melania, cradles a baby orphaned in the El Paso, Texas mass shooting has become a social media talking point days after the first lady posted it on Twitter.

The image was taken on Wednesday at the University Medical Center of El Paso during Trump’s visit to the West Texas border city to meet with first responders, medical personnel and surviving victims from Saturday’s gun violence at a Walmart store.

The president and his wife had travelled earlier in the day to Dayton, Ohio, for a similar hospital condolence call in the wake of a deadly shooting rampage that rocked that city just 13 hours after the bloodshed in El Paso.

The two shootings together claimed 32 lives, including that of the gunman who committed the Dayton massacre.

Trump avoided the press during both hospital visits, which were closed to media coverage, but the White House later released a brief video montage of the visits.

 

Embedded video

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

My time spent in Dayton and El Paso with some of the greatest people on earth. Thank you for a job well done!

60.1K people are talking about this

The first lady also tweeted several photos from the visit, including one that shows her standing in front of a University Medical Center of El Paso backdrop cradling a 2-month-old infant whose parents, Andre and Jordon Anchondo, were both slain in the Walmart attack, reportedly as they shielded him from gunfire.

Standing beside the first lady is the smiling president giving a thumbs-up sign. They are flanked by the baby’s aunt and an uncle, Tito Anchondo, who is also smiling and has his arm stretched around Trump’s shoulders as the four pose together.

The optics of the picture struck many on social media as demonstrating a lack of empathy or respect for the gravity of the occasion by the president.

 

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Melania Trump

@FLOTUS

I met many incredible people in Dayton, Ohio & El Paso, Texas yesterday. Their communities are strong and unbreakable. @potus and I stand with you!

19.5K people are talking about this

“A baby who was taken from home and forced to serve as a prop for the very monster whose hate killed her/his parents,” Democratic strategist Greg Pinelo wrote on Twitter in response to the photo.

But Tito Anchondo, who described himself and his slain brother as Trump supporters, told the Washington Post in an interview published on Friday that he felt consoled by the president’s visit and denied that Trump was there “pushing any kind of political agenda.”

Anchondo said he chose to take his orphaned nephew, baby Paul, to the hospital to meet the president, and said others were politicizing his family’s tragedy. The infant suffered two broken fingers in the shooting, but had since been discharged by doctors.

FBI believed Trump was closely involved in hush-money scheme

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

The release of the previously redacted documents came one day after the judge in the case disclosed that prosecutors had concluded their probe into Cohen’s campaign finance crimes.
Image: US-POLITICS-INVESTIGATION-COHEN

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, leaves the hearing room during a recess for lunch as he testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019.Mandel Ngan / AFP – Getty Images

Mexico Had Agreed To These ‘New’ Measures Months Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)
(THE FRAUD IN CHIEF STRIKES AGAIN, CREATE A PROBLEM, DO NOTHING, THEN FIX THE PROBLEM AND TAKE CREDIT FOR HIS ‘GREAT WORK’, TOTAL FRAUD!)(oped: oldpoet56)

Mexico had already promised to take many of the actions agreed to in Friday’s immigration deal with the US — months before President Donald Trump’s tariff threat, officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations told the New York Times in a story published Saturday.

Trump moved to accept the existing agreements in a deal Friday after negotiations prompted by his threat to impose growing tariffs on Mexico in response to the border situation dragged on over several days. Talks between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and State Department officials lasted for more than 11 hours Friday.
The Mexican government had pledged to deploy the National Guard nationwide with a focus on its southern border — a key part of Friday’s agreement — during secret meetings in March between former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican interior secretary Olga Sanchez in Miami, the officials told the Times.
The deal’s key expansion of a program that would keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed was established in two heavily brokered two diplomatic notes exchanged between the two countries, the Times reported. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in late December.
One senior government official insisted to the Times that the Mexican government agreed to move to deter migrants faster and more aggressively than they ever had before this week’s talks.
As Ebrard noted in a news conference after the agreement’s announcement Friday, the Mexican government did not accept the US’s push for a safe third country agreement, which would require asylum seekers traveling through Mexico to make their case for American asylum in Mexico.
“They proposed in the first meeting to have (a) third safe state, which is not the case here, which is very important. And on the other hand, we accepted to have a more extended version of (migrants remaining in Mexico during asylum claim processing) and to accelerate the deployment of the national guard,” Ebrard said, calling the deal “a fair play.”
Trump presented the deal as a win in a pair of tweets early Saturday.
“Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement for both the United States and Mexico!” the President wrote in a tweet. He continued later: “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Saturday that he had a phone call with Trump after negotiators reached a deal Friday.
“I spoke on the telephone with President Trump,” Lopez Obrador tweeted in Spanish on Saturday. “I told him that in Tijuana I would say that I do not lift a clenched fist but an open and frank hand to the president of the United States. We reiterated our disposition to friendship, dialogue and collaboration for the good of our countries.”
Democratic congressional leaders slammed Trump for his attempts to negotiate a deal.
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer jabbed Trump’s repeated return to the issue, tweeting Friday night: “This is an historic night! @realDonaldTrump has announced that he has cut a deal to ‘greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.’ Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”
On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump in a statement of having “undermined America’s preeminent leadership role in the world by recklessly threatening to impose tariffs on our close friend and neighbor to the south.”
Congress, she said, will hold the White House “accountable for its failures to address the humanitarian situation at our southern border.”

Army officials reach out to veteran who was declared foreigner by tribunal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)
(THIS SOUNDS LIKE INDIA’S MILITARY INTELLIGENCE IS AS SCREWED UP AS IT IS HERE IN THE U.S.)(I CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER IF INDIA’S VA MEDICAL SYSTEM IS AS BIG A FRAUD ON THEIR SERVICE CONNECTED DISABLED VETERANS AS THE U.S. VERSION IS. I SURE HOPE NOT BECAUSE THE FRAUD IN OUR SYSTEM THAT IS LAID ON OUR DISABLED VETERANS BY THE VA IS BEYOND SICKENING)(oped: oldpoet56)

Army officials reach out to veteran who was declared foreigner by tribunal

After the tribunal in Kamrup Rural district declared him a ‘foreigner’ on May 23, Sanaullah, 52, who has been serving as sub-inspector with the border organisation since retirement from the Indian Army, was detained last week by his own colleagues.

INDIA Updated: Jun 02, 2019 11:36 IST

Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
NRC,foreigner tribunal,indian army
Based upon an inquiry report conducted by the border organisation of Assam Police in 2008, which identified Sanaullah as a labourer and marked as a suspected illegal immigrant.(PTI)

A day after the author of an inquiry report which labelled an ex-Indian Army subedar a ‘foreigner’ told a local channel in the northeast that it was a case of mistaken identity, Indian Army officials reached out to the detained man, Mohammed Sanaullah’s family, offering support.

Based upon an inquiry report conducted by the border organisation of Assam Police in 2008, which identified Sanaullah as a labourer and marked as a suspected illegal immigrant, his case was referred to the foreigners tribunal, a quasi-judicial body which adjudicates on cases of illegal immigrants identified either by Assam Police or the Election Commission of India (ECI).

After the tribunal in Kamrup Rural district declared him a ‘foreigner’ on May 23, Sanaullah, 52, who has been serving as sub-inspector with the border organisation since retirement from the Indian Army, was detained last week by his own colleagues at the border organisation and sent to a detention centre.

“I want to see my husband before we celebrate Eid. This is what I told the army officers, the ex-army men and the public who have been reaching out to me,” said Sanima Begum, Sanaullah’s wife.

The hopes of the family, however, rest on the writ petition filed in the high court on Saturday against the tribunal’s order declaring him a foreigner, which Sanaullah’s lawyers say, may come up for hearing this week.

Joshi Narain Dutt, director of Assam Directorate of Sainik Welfare, who has been following up on the developments, said the family will have to seek legal recourse (which it has done, by moving the HC) but that the DSW is “offering broad guidance.”

Also read | NRC: Ensure fair procedure adopted

According to Sanima Begum, Joshi and a group of ex-servicemen met the family on Saturday and promised support. “If after 30 years of service by my husband, the army will not come forward to help, who else would ?” said Sanima Begum.

Another army official Hindustan Times spoke to, said they will not be able to help the family directly unless they received orders from their superiors.

However, he dismissed the possibility of an illegal immigrant getting appointed in the Army. “In 1987, when Sanaullah was appointed, police verification report must have verified his antecedents,” the official said.

A senior official at the headquarters of the border organisation said a report has been sought from the district officials on the case. “It is possible that the local field official filed an erroneous inquiry report,” this official said.

First Published: Jun 02, 2019 07:26 IST

Mitch McConnell, My Homes State Habitual Fraud And Liar?

(THIS WAS SENT TO ME BY A LONG TIME FRIEND IN ILLINOIS VIA FB)

 

18 hrs

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Cryptocurrency-related crime will surpass all other cyber attacks in 2018

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWSPAPER)

 

Cryptocurrency-related crime will surpass all other cyberattacks in 2018: expert

Leading experts at Tel Aviv cybersecurity conference weigh pros and cons of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and the risks of blockchain technology in financial transactions

Illustrative image of bitcoins (Courtesy BitsofGold)

Illustrative image of bitcoins (Courtesy BitsofGold)

Cryptocurrency-related attacks will surpass all other types of cyberattacks in 2018, a leading expert warned.

Issuing the bleak prediction, Lotem Finkelsteen, a threat intelligence analyst with the Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies, said “not a day goes by without our hearing about a new ICO [initial coin offering] scam or mining attack.”

By “cryptocurrency-related cyberattacks,” he appeared to be referring to any form of cybercrime involving or related to cryptocurrencies, including financial scams and hacking.

Blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies, “is suffering from reputational damage,” said Finkelsteen. “And that is one of the main obstacles for blockchain technology to move forward.”

Lotem Finkelsteen (Twitter)

Finkelsteen was speaking on a panel at an event entitled “Blockchain, The New Digital Age” at Tel Aviv University’s annual Cyber Week cybersecurity conference. Other panelists at the event were more optimistic about the positive potential for blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

“There are real projects rolling out,” said John Velissarios, Principal Director and Global Blockchain Technology Lead at Accenture, a global management consulting company. “We’re seeing blockchain applications for capital markets, exchanges, clearing and settlement systems and payment systems. The technology is evolving and the applications are becoming more significant.”

Blockchain technology is the underlying technology of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. A blockchain is a database that is maintained by numerous collaborators, like a Google document. The computers of the collaborators decide through a consensus mechanism how to update the database. Once they decide, the update is rendered immutable through cryptography. The resulting record can be used as proof of ownership without the need for a central authority deciding who owns what.

Many entrepreneurs and computer scientists see enormous potential in blockchain, and believe that the fact that money and other assets can be transferred from person to person without going through a central authority has many real-world applications.

But Haim Pinto, the CTO of Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, asserted that there are no blockchain applications that are dependably usable at present, least of all for a trusted institution like a major commercial bank.

“Blockchain is still in a hype cycle,” he said in the panel discussion, arguing that the technology is not yet ready for widespread adoption. “We can’t just take it and use it.”

Pinto said cryptocurrencies present problems for banks seeking to comply with anti-money laundering and privacy regulation.

“As long as we are under anti-money laundering and FATCA rules, we have to know the source of customers’ money,” he said. This requirement, he said, does not jibe with the nature of cryptocurrencies, which can be transferred anonymously.

In addition, said Pinto, cryptocurrencies present a challenge for banks seeking to comply with the EU’s “right to be forgotten” laws, which require that businesses erase clients’ sensitive personal data if they are asked to do so.

“Distributed general ledgers cannot erase anything,” he said, referring to the fact that most blockchains are immutable. “That’s just one of the challenges. In addition, there are mathematical challenges. Distributed general ledgers can’t scale up to the volume of transactions we need to serve.”

Pinto said that most banks around the world are running mainframe computers as their core platforms. Before they can adopt blockchains or distributed general ledgers, they will probably first adopt “open banking,” a new trend in the banking world that refers to the practice of allowing third-party developers to build applications around the bank.

In recent years in Israel, some experts have touted cryptocurrency and blockchain as the next major driver of the Israeli economy, but as The Times of Israel has reported, it is unclear how much of the activity in this new high-tech field is legitimate, how much is mere hype, and how much is outright fraud perpetrated by malevolent actors, including transnational criminal organizations.

A second panel at the event dealt with the non-financial applications of the blockchain.

At that session, Gideon Lichfield, the editor-in-chief of the MIT Technology Review, described enthusiasm about using blockchain technology for supply-chain management.

Gideon Lichfield (Courtesy Cyber Week)

“Businesses see it as a way to track bananas or lettuce from the supplier to the supermarket shelf.”

If some lettuce turns out to be bad, he said, blockchain technology can be used to find out which farm the lettuce came from.

Lichfield questioned why blockchain is a good solution for this, as opposed to a centralized database or some other solution. Nevertheless, he said, if blockchain is an adequate solution, it could become the de facto standard, simply because there is so much hype around, and money being poured into, blockchain technology.

“Big companies don’t want to be left behind,” said Lichfield, ”They jump into this.”

Steve Bassi, the CEO of the cybersecurity company Polyswarm, agreed with the other panelists that blockchain is often proposed as a solution to a problem where a centralized database might work just as well.

Attempting to distill the circumstances under which blockchain could be useful, he asked, “Where do we always cheat each other unless someone else is watching? That is where blockchain might be applicable.”

Another speaker at the final session of the conference on Thursday, Tel Aviv University Economics professor Neil Gandal, presented a paper called “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” that he and his colleagues first published in January.

Tel Aviv University Economics Professor Neil Gandal speaks at Cyber Week, June 21, 2018 (Simona Weinglass/Times of Israel)

Gandal contended that Bitcoin’s first major price spike, when it rose from $150 to over $1,000 in late 2013, was likely caused by a single person using trading robots.

Gandal argued that if this could happen once it could happen again, and cited a recent paper by University of Texas economists arguing that Bitcoin’s more recent price spike, when it reached close to $20,000 last year, was also caused by price manipulation.

“It’s possible for a small number of actors to manipulate things,” he said. “We need some sort of regulation [of cryptocurrencies],” he said. “There is a loss of confidence in the system.”

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He promised people paradise — and sent them to their deaths

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

He promised people paradise — and sent them to their deaths

In September 1822, about 250 largely impoverished Scots uprooted their lives to embark on what appeared to be the journey of a lifetime, sailing to a prosperous Central American country called Poyais to start anew.

But rather than finding a land overflowing with vegetation, livestock, workable soil and opportunities galore as they were promised, “Poyais” was a barren nightmare of unfarmable land and hostile natives. Expecting to build new and better lives, they had instead fallen victim to one of the most audacious and deadly swindles in history, one that most didn’t survive.

The new book “Hoax: A History of Deception” by Ian Tattersall and Peter Nevraumont (Black Dog & Leventhal), out now, features 50 tales of frauds and cons from throughout history. Perhaps none, though, was more brazen than Gregor MacGregor’s Poyais scam.

MacGregor, a descendant of famed Scottish hero Rob Roy, was a warrior who had fought on Venezuela’s behalf during their war for independence.

“He had a very high public profile,” Tattersall says. “He had great military credentials stemming from his time as a mercenary in South America. He was a person of impeccable credentials . . . with an aura of authority about him.”

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Gregor MacGregorGetty Images

In the early 1820s, upon returning from battle, MacGregor claimed he had been made prince of a territory called Poyais, near the Honduran coast, and that it was perfect for new settlers. He began selling bonds to help develop the area, as well as plots of Poyaisian land and packages that included promises of employment there. While he had been there and did own the land in question, “Poyais” and his title were fictions he invented.

Between hard economic times in Scotland and MacGregor’s sterling reputation, Poyais could not have sounded more inviting to impoverished Scots.

“He told them it was a land of milk and honey where you could get several harvests of crops a year, and there were gold nuggets in the river and game abounding on the landscape,” says Tattersall. “He really made it sound like a nirvana.”

MacGregor convinced seven shiploads of Scots to tear up their lives and relocate, raising around 200,000 pounds in the process, the equivalent of around $25 million in current US dollars.

The first two ships departed for Poyais in September 1822, carrying around 250 passengers total on a two-month journey. The Guardian newspaper reported the following in October 1823: “When the emigrants arrived at [Honduras], nothing could exceed their anguish at finding, where they expected a fine flourishing town with nearly 2,000 inhabitants, only two or three ruined huts.”

Despondent but trapped, the settlers tried to build a town and plant crops, but they had no resources. The soil was unsuitable and there was scant livestock, leaving them little access to food.

Over the next two years, most of the 250 residents died.

“[One of the] particularly heart-wrenching things was an account in the newspaper of a shoemaker called Hellie who shot himself, having been promised the position of shoemaker to the Princess of Poyais, and then finding nothing when he got there,” Tattersall says. “That sort of experience was repeated over and over again with, like, 200 people.”

Why he took these people’s lives and transported them to this insect-infested hell, nobody really understands

A small group of survivors (there is no record of how many — Tattersall guesses “a couple dozen at most”) were eventually rescued by a passing timber trading boat and brought to Belize. By this point, five more Scottish ships filled with people had embarked toward Poyais. Word of the catastrophe got back to Scotland, and the Royal Navy was sent to recall the ships.

Making the tragedy especially senseless was that MacGregor sold his scam bonds and plots in several stages, and had already brought in a fortune before the first ships sailed. He could have easily absconded with his ill-gotten gains and not destroyed all those lives.

“He did this bond scam, then organized the expedition. Why he took these people’s lives and transported them to this insect-infested hell, nobody really understands,” Tattersall says.

When word of the hoax spread throughout Scotland, MacGregor fled to France, where he immediately attempted a similar scam. He was arrested but eventually acquitted. He tried other cons over the next decade, then relocated to Venezuela, where he was regarded a returning hero. He lived there until his death in 1845 at age 58.

Even after profiling 50 fraudsters in his book, Tattersall says he can’t begin to comprehend what might have driven MacGregor to such behavior, especially given that the Scot could have become extremely wealthy from his crime without causing so much tragedy.

“The only suggestion that makes any sense is that he came to believe his own propaganda [about Poyais],” Tattersall says. “It seems unbelievable that [he] could do something so cynical, heartless and unfeeling. It is not a dynamic I could possibly understand.”

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VA Treachery, Fraud, Malpractice And Lies (Part 2 Of 2)

VA Treachery, Fraud, Malpractice And Lies (Part 2 Of 2)

Toward the end of part one I was speaking of the Ratings Board for the VA and how crooked they are and have been. In the guidelines for how the VA Ratings Board is supposed to conduct themselves it is stated that if their own Doctors agree with the Vet like their Neurosurgeon did in October of 2012 concerning the MRI I was finally able to get, that the Board would have to side on the side of the Veteran. Those guidelines also say that if the Veteran goes to civilian Doctors and those Doctors in writing agree with the Veteran that it is “reasonable to believe” that an active duty injury “could have caused” the veterans issues that they are trying to get a disability increase on then the Board has to side with the Veteran. As most any and all Veterans who have received negative answers at these Boards of Inquiry know, the VA personnel who are being paid by the VA, they pay no attention to those guidelines. As I said yesterday in part one, poop flows downhill, you know that these actions have to be being dictated to them from higher up in the VA chain of command. Otherwise why would these underlings be going against the very guidelines that they are told to uphold?

 

From about August of 1984 up until the heart attack I had while living in Ocala Fl in March of 1999 I suffered with not only my legs, hips and low pack being in constant pain, I suffered horribly with chest, neck, left shoulder and hand pain from the un-diagnosed heart pains. In 1999 I was working on a dedicated account for J B Hunt and I had another heart attack while at a company safety meeting. I was 42 at the time and my boss didn’t figure it was something serious so he pointed me in the direction of the hospital and I drove myself there. It was a Saturday morning and it was flu season and the ER was full of Mom’s and kids. When I was able to finally get up the ramp and into the building I went to the check in window, told them what was going wrong with me, they thought that I was lying just trying to get in front of the line. They did check my blood pressure though and as normal it was about 110/70.They had me sit in the waiting room for 5 1/2 hours before they finally called my name. When they finally did an EKG they freaked out because of them seeing the heart attacks. 3 days later they did a 4 way by-pass as all my arteries were 100% closed. At that time it seems that even the heart Doctors were unaware that the body in attempts to save itself will grow small veins around the blockages and into the heart. Trouble is that my blood would close these just about as fast as the new ones could grow. Literally your body is in a race against itself as it tries to keep some blood going to the heart. This was the first time that I ever got a hospital to do an EKG, ever. Over a span of 14 1/2 yrs I was never able to get a VA Doctor to do that simple 30 second test. How many yrs of my life did their ignorance, arrogance, and laziness shave off of my life span? This also doesn’t include the fact that during this time I had no quality of life at all. I couldn’t play any kind of games with my kids and my whole life revolved around working (being a long haul truck driver) and when I wasn’t working about the only thing I ever did was to sleep.

 

After my insurance ran out three months after the heart operation I had to rely on the VA system for my meds because I had no other way to afford them. The company I was working for would not let me come back to work so I did the only thing I could do, I had to lie my way into jobs with small companies or starve and go homeless. In January of 2002 I was able to get on with a company in Knoxville Tn that I stayed with until January of 2004 when my health made it impossible to do my job, so I had to quit. As was very normal with the VA system they change who they get their medications with quite often so even if you are getting the same medication from one supplier for a few months the VA would then change and you would get the same medication (supposedly) but the pill would look totally different. It also was and sometimes still is common to get a medication bottle that just says the name of it and to take it once or twice a day or to take at bed time or before breakfast, but that would be all that was on the bottle. About the first of January 2004 I got one such bottle that simply said take it twice a day but not what it was supposed to be for, this was not uncommon. I tended to follow what the bottles said so I started taking it two times a day, about twelve hours apart. Within a few weeks I was feeling so wore out I could hardly function at all. I had to quit my job because I thought I must be having trouble with my heart again. In mid February 04 I was able to get a heart-cath done through the VA in Johnson City (Mountain Home) Tn. When these are done a Cardiologist always has to be present, this day I had a young Doctor named Israel Garcia as the supervisor. I remember the name because of what he did. Before the test he was looking over the medications that I was on and he came across one that he said I did not need to be taking because it is only used if the patient had a history of strokes and I had not had one. Thirteen days after he took me off the med I had a stroke, the very next day they put me back on it, I’m still on it. I have never been mad at the man because all people make mistakes, I don’t believe he meant to hurt me on purpose, I forgive him. Yet because of this stroke I was not able to work until April of 2009, this VA doctors mistake cost me a little over five years of work income for my family.

 

The stroke hit my left side which is my dominate side and I still feel some of the effects to this day, but not major, I’m used to it. Reality was that the medication I had been taking was a muscle relaxer so my taking it every twelve hours just about stopped my heart, as you know, the heart is a muscle. Now I was in a situation where I could not work at all and my family lost our home and we had to move into a ‘state apartment’. I was unemployed until I decided to lie my way into another driving job in April of 2009. I had to lie to get employment because the only job that I could do that I knew how to do was to drive a truck and no company would have hired me if they knew that I was ill. I felt as a husband and a dad I had to try to get our family out of the base living conditions we were living in, just barely surviving. My health for many years had mandated that the only work I could do was if I was sitting down and not lifting anything, that is very limiting in the employment spectrum. The left side of my face is still numb and I still have a little bit of trouble with objects coming quickly from my left to my right. Also I could only be on my feet for about ten minutes at the most before the pain in my low back and legs would force me to sit down, now day’s I am lucky if I can get 2-3 minutes before the pain puts me down and I am forced to use the power wheelchair the VA gave me back in 2007 all of the time.

 

I was able to work from April of 2009 until June of 2013 when I simply had used up every ounce of pain fighting ability that I could muster. In 2007 I had another heart-cath done in Johnson City at the VA and it showed that all of my grafts from the 1999 operation were 100% closed. Yet they refused to even try to do a balloon surgery to see if any of those grafts could be opened because in their words “that operation would probably kill me”. Folks, I know I am not the wisest person in the world but I have a question for you. When all of a persons arteries and grafts are totally closed and the only blood getting to the heart keeping you alive are those little veins I told you about earlier that grow around the blockages in a race for time, what does a person have to lose? You are going to die from this condition guaranteed! Yet the VA refused to do anything except give me more medications.

 

As I told you earlier I went back to work in April of 2009 for a small local company. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would simply work as long as I could, expecting that one day I would simply go to sleep in a truck-stop somewhere and not wake up. I felt that the least I could do before I died was to give my family as much help financially as possible. Because I had been out of work for so long I didn’t even have the credits with social security to be able to leave them with even that check so I had to try to work as long as I could, hoping I could work long enough to get those credits. Social Security and VA disability pensions are a poor mans life insurance for their families they leave behind. Because of the VA’s methods of operation I was going to not be able to leave anything for my family, this is why I had to try going back to work even though I knew I shouldn’t do it.

 

In September of 2011 I was in Atlanta having a trailer washed out for a customer and was leaning up against the outside wall of the business, it was a hot day and they had the big outside door propped open beside me. When they finished the trailer washout I stepped away from the wall and blacked out. I fell face first into the big metal hinges of that door busting my forehead open about three or four inches. The workers revived me and to make a long story shorter, I was taken unconscious in an ambulance to the nearest hospital which turned out to be less that a half mile away. The first three days I was there I was unconscious and remember nothing of it. Once I was awake the heart Doctors told me that when I got to the ER my numbers were 50/20 and dropping fast and that both of my kidneys had completely shut down, they told me that I would have been dead in another five to ten minutes if I hadn’t gotten there when I did. I was also told that the VA had me on four times too much blood pressure medicine and that it was what had made me black out. Once again I was minutes away from the VA killing me. While I was out on that third day they did a heart-cath on me, it was after that when I woke up. There were two heart Doctors talking with me about the condition of my blood flow. I told them what the VA Doctors had told me about why they couldn’t/wouldn’t try to balloon them open, I remember they just looked at each other and wagged their heads in disgust. Within the hour they had me in surgery where they were able to balloon open two of the grafts from the 1999 surgery and they put stints in them at that time. This is why I am still alive today was because of the quality of the Doctors at the Gwinnett Medical Center just outside of Atlanta.

 

These Georgia Doctors gave me a new med list to give to the VA Doctors and to no surprise they got upset about the new list. One of the meds is a very expensive one for the heart that is actually required by law for them to give to me because of my particular condition. The condition being when a person has no arteries open and all the person has for blood flow are stints in old grafts they must give you this medication. It took them twelve months before they agreed to do it and then it was only after a new VA Doctor I had been assigned went up the chain of command to insist they do it. I am not saying that all people or all Doctors at the VA’s around the country are worthless or evil, but many are and it seems that the chain of command above the Doctors are in many cases just plain evil. I know that the VA system goes through a huge amount of Doctors, it seems like every time you go to one of their clinics you have been assigned yet another new Doctor. Could it be that in many cases when a good Doctor gets a job with them that they see how crooked that system is and they decide to find somewhere else to work?

 

I am going to finish with one last kick in the privates that they are very guilty of, and that is they refuse to pay their own bills so you the patient ends up with all their medical bills laid against your credit. By their own rules they must pay those medical bills I have in Georgia, it has been almost seven years now and they have paid nothing. By their own rules in a life or death emergency and you could not get to the nearest VA Hospital then the VA will pay that bill. I have been told several times that they believe that I could have made it to the VA in Atlanta so they have steadfastly refused to pay the $70,000 dollars in medical bills I have there. Folks, what part of arrived unconscious in an ambulance from a half mile away, five minutes from death do these people not understand? You have to believe that they can’t be that stupid so the other alternative seems to be is that they are that crooked, at least it seems that way to me. Back in August of 2015 my wife and I bought a house in Kentucky just outside of Lexington. We chose here because it is one of only two VA Hospitals I have ever heard good things about and in this thirty months we have been here I have been an inpatient twice already and they do actually seem to give a damn here unlike the other hospitals of theirs I have had experience with. But now about that $70,000 dollars on my credit that I can’t get off. When we bought the house I was forced to use the VA Loan program because I couldn’t get anyone else to finance us, not even the Credit Union that we have banked at for many years. Even through this loan, because my credit score was only 668 because of those medical bills our rate of interest is much higher than it should have to be, meaning that every month we have to pay more out-of-pocket of our set incomes for the house payment, leaving less for life’s other expenses. Okay, I’m done gripping about them, I know this was a long story folks, but I guarantee you this, everything I have said to you is true. As I said early on, I do not believe that anyone at the VA has a personal vendetta against me, I am just one of millions of service connected disabled Veterans who have been and are being treated like this. What is your opinion of the VA now?

 

 

 

 

My Own Personal VA Horror Story Of Fraud, Incompetence, Apathy And Lies (1 of 2)

THIS IS PART ONE OF A TWO PART ARTICLE. BECAUSE OF IT’S LENGTH I WILL FINISH THE SHORTER OF THE TWO PARTS TOMORROW AND POST IT THEN. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, IF YOU GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMERICAS SERVICE CONNECTED DISABLED VETERANS PLEASE READ THIS INFORMATION. I PROMISE YOU, THIS IS A 100% TRUE ARTICLE!

 

Along with that title I should include massive malpractice and attempted murder. I know that what I just said is a bit harsh as is the title yet when something you speak is the truth it is not slander or harsh, it’s just the truth. I know that this may well be my longest article ever but if you wish to hear some truth about how bad I have been treated by the VA system, please lend me your ear. I do not think for one moment that I have been singled out for their persecution, I am just one of millions that they are guilty of trying to kill off whether that be through the above listed actions, or even possibly intent. I know that is a tough statement but after talking with at least 200 different disabled Veterans and their wives from all over the country and hearing their own horror stories it makes one wonder a little bit if the VA is trying to kill off as many of the older Vets as possible to help save the system money so that they can afford all the new disabled younger folks coming into the system everyday.

 

My story would have to begin when I went into the Army on 7-18-1983. I was sent to Boot Camp at Ft. Dix NJ. While on a training mission there on the post on 8-11-83 I was struck by lightning. Right from the start the company C/O started trying to cover things up and trying to blame others for the event. To me that is really stupid being this isn’t the Boy Scouts. They did know that a huge weather system was coming up the east coast because they had been telling us about it all day, yet still I don’t believe anyone is ‘responsible’, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, 6 PM. When I was totally cleared on medical I was discharged on 2-3-84 from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where I had been transferred for the purpose of learning a trade called Small Arms Repair. Ft. Dix just pushed the problem off to another group for them to deal with plus I learned that almost all of my medical records vanished. Within the first five years after I was discharged (because I couldn’t do the work) all record of me ever being in the Army somehow disappeared three different times. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I had several paper documents proving otherwise. I lived in the Dallas Ft. Worth Texas area so I started going to the Dallas VA Hospital starting in September of 84 and moved away from there on 7-1-97. Just recently (about six months ago) I was informed by the VA  here in Lexington Ky that the VA has no record of me visiting the Dallas VA until September of 1995. How convenient for them to lose all those records, just like the records from the Ft. Dix hospital have almost all disappeared. One of the interesting little facts that I haven’t told any of them yet is that in their new computer system (about 3 yrs old) they call “My Healthevet” they have record of several of my lab reports dating from January of 1991, from Dallas.

 

As I said earlier I was discharged in February of 84, by about July of 84 I was starting to have pain in the left side of my chest and real bad pain in my left shoulder. By September of 84 the shoulder pain had gotten so intense that I could not put my left hand up on the lawn mower handle to hold the lever to make the mower function. I did not have any medical insurance at my job so I went to the Dallas VA at least seven times starting with September of 84 up through the spring of 97 when I moved to Ocala Florida and started going to the VA in Gainesville Florida. All of these times that I went to the hospitals for help it was all I could do to walk in from the parking lot because of having so much pain in my chest, shoulder and neck where I was sweating very badly and very short of breath. Each time I had to stop two or three times because of these reasons. When I would finally get seen I used to have the ‘problem’ where my blood pressure tended to always stay at about 110/70. The medical people would see that and say “well we know it’s not your heart” because by blood pressure was so good. Even though I had all the signs of having a heart attack I could never get them to “waste their time” to ever get an EKG. I always got told there was nothing wrong except maybe heartburn and they would dismiss me.

 

Being struck by lightning is not something I believe I had ever thought much about, until it happened. It is not something that I recommend for anyone to go through, to say the least, it hurts. I did not really know anything about the effects of being struck by it but if you will read this article you will learn things from my experience. Lightning to me is still a surprising thing in that it produces such energy that can kill a whole herd of cattle in a field or split a huge oak in half or set a house on fire, or hit a person in the head and they might still live. I have learned that lightning does not kill most of the people it hits but it does tend to mess most folks up for life. I also learned that most people (like with me) do not have exit wounds.

 

When this event happened I had just laid down on my mat to eat my supper. When I lay down I tend to lay on one side or the other, when I do this I also tend to put (in this case) my left foot/ankle upon the right one. The impact hit me right on my ankle bones then ran up the bone system which the Doctors at the hospital told me was rather normal for it to have done being I was laying down that way. I felt the electricity moving up my legs into my low back and it left red jagged burn marks along its path which is also normal for it to do. I quit feeling that sensation once it reached my low spine where it turned my coccyx (bottom of your spine) and flipped it around backwards. I learned later that this happened because the electricity hit it knocking it out-of-the-way and the electricity ran up my spine. While on the examining table in the emergency room I could not feel my legs except for the intense pain in both of my ankles. There was an area on both ankles about the size of a silver dollar where it felt like there was a vice being cranked down on the ankle bones. There was one Doctor who I remember was a Major whom the ER called in because he had had experience with lightning strike victims. There was also another Doctor there who was working with him whom had no such experience. The second Doctor touched my knees and made comment that my knees were hot, which I did not know because I could not feel them. So, I put my hands on my knees and found out that he was correct, they were quite hot. This Doctor also by accident touched the bottom of my right foot with all the fingers on one of his hands, when he did this my whole right leg flew up and my knee almost hit me in the face and then went straight back down. This happened even though I could not feel either of my feet, this was one of my early warning signs about nerve damage. Another big sign of the nerve damage was when the now three Doctors helped me up onto the side of the table so that I could step down onto the floor, they wanted to see if my legs would be able to hold me up. The result was that as soon as my feet hit the floor an intense pain as if it were a bullet went up through the bottoms of my feet, through my whole body and out the top of my head in no more than one second. I actually yelled out in pain as I hit the floor within that one second. Actually the yelp was after the pain had already gone through me as I now laid crumpled on the floor. I remember hearing the term C-6 for the first time at that moment. I didn’t know what this lady Doctor meant by that so she explained that the sensation was because there was nerve damage to the C-6 vertebrae which is in people’s neck. Ever since the lightning strike I have never been able to take the pain of doing something stupid like hopping out of the back of a trailer or off of a loading dock with out it hurting me a lot with the same result as at the hospital.

 

When I was transferred to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland I spent most of my time there as a Colonel’s Orderly while I was doing rehab at clinics and occasionally going to their Post hospital to see this one idiotic lady Captain Doctor who she seemed to think that because she out ranked me that she could give me the order about the lightning of “it never happened”, as I said, idiotic. While I was at Aberdeen they tried to send me through a school called Small Arms Repair which is really no more than being a parts changer on small arms, rifles, shotguns, pistols and the like. When I took the entrance exams to get into the Army my scores were all up in the mid ninety’s which I was informed by the school CO was higher than any of the instructors, yet I could not pick it up, I could not remember things from one day to the next. The people in charge tended to think that I was failing on purpose but I wasn’t, I just couldn’t remember the material. I did fail out of that school and once my medical clearance came through I was handed my Honorable Discharge papers the next day. Up until August of 2015, I could never figure out why I now had such a hard time learning new things to where I now have to write about anything new onto note pads to where I can go over and over it until I can pick it up. That summer I was on-line just flipping through different web sites and I came across one that was from Neurology Today Magazine and I noticed a headline about a study on lightning strike survivors and spine damage. In this article I learned that a lightning strike generates apx one million volts of electricity. They said that when a large electrical shock goes up the spine that among the things it does is to zap a nerve that is at the tip-top of everyone’s spine. When this happens to a person the result is that the nerve sends something like a little beam to the left front part of the brain where short-term memory is located, and zaps it, thus screwing up a persons short-term memory abilities. I have come across several VA Doctors throughout the years who are adamant that among other things, that there is no such thing as back injuries and that there is no such thing as nerve damage. It has become my belief that many Doctors enter the military and or the VA for employment because they cannot be sued for malpractice so they also do not need to pay for that coverage. I still come across some VA Doctors to this day that believe that if a person’s blood pressure is okay that the person’s heart is okay, total ignorance!

 

If a person wants to find out about problems people who have been hit with lightning tend to have concerning their long-term health they would find that my problems are not any different from what would be considered as normal. The first two things on the list are heart problems and spinal nerve problems. I am no one special in this regard yet I receive 40% Service Connected disability rating from the VA because of traumatic arthritic conditions to my knees at 20% and the other 20% because of hearing loss in both ears. Nothing for the ankles which was the point on impact, nor any of the other joints, nothing for nerve damage, nothing for the heart being destroyed. I did have one test done that I had been asking for years to be done called a Nerve Conductivity Test, when they did it they “on my legs” they said that they found no problems and this “test” results are what is in my records. The “test” was conducted by one guy (I say ‘guy’ because I have learned that many people who do these test aren’t actually Doctors and often aren’t even VA employees), this guy had me take off my pants, shoes and socks and to sit upon a table. He told me to turn my head to the right and not to look toward him as he did ‘the test’. When he told me he was done I was allowed to look back at him, what he had done was to take a stick pin like you use to put a calendar onto a wall and stuck each of my legs about 20 times all over both legs. What I saw was all of these little blood drops/spots and him holding that pin. I would bet almost anything that this is not a real Nerve Conductivity Test, it was just a guy acting like an a-hole. Also now concerning lack of morals, ethics or professionalism when it comes to heart issues. When I have spoken with civilian Doctors including heart Doctors and about my problems they have all said things along the lines of “well of course” lightning did this to your heart and spine. A few used the term “well duh”. I remember this term because three different times when I met Doctors at the VA who were new to me and they asked me about my problems I was having I told them about the lightning and they said “well duh” of course the lightning caused it. But, now the kicker, and my wife was present two of these times, then I told those Doctors that the lightning happened when I was on active duty and they at once changed their opinions and said that well ‘that’ the ‘lightning’ couldn’t have had anything to do with it. We all know that poop flows down hill so that the employees catch all the hell from above if they don’t tow the company mark but when even Doctors who take a ‘solemn oath’ to do no hurt act like this, their lack of morals and ethics are well on display.

 

Three previous times I have applied to the VA for an increase on my disability rating trying to get it on my heart, spine, and on my other joints like my hips and shoulders. All three times a guy would come into a room to do this ‘inspection” and as I an all of America has found out in this past two years of so, these people whom portray themselves as ‘Doctors’ weren’t. These people who have been doing these ‘inspections’ aren’t even VA employees, or Doctors, or even have medical training. These people are outside contractors hired by the VA to do these fraud evaluations. All three of these times when the person came into the room they had orders to only and I do mean only, to look at my knees, not the issues that the appointment was supposed to cover. When you tried to get them to look at some of the other issues every time they would get mad and made it plain that the only thing they were allowed to look at was my knees. One gentleman even went as far as to threaten me that if I didn’t quit complaining that they could just take my rating down to zero and make it where I couldn’t go to the VA anymore. You know what is even worse than this fraud, it’s when you find out that someone in the VA system then puts in your records that during the physical that nothing besides the knees were found to be wrong. The BS continues in this scam against the Service Connected Disabled Vets, now that they put this BS in your records all of the evidence that you had given to them to support your claims can no longer ever be looked at again.

 

There is the issue of the Disability checks that the Service Connected Vets get, as I said I am rated at 40%. For the purpose of saving the VA money where in times past any ratings check would go to the spouse of the Vet once they had died as long as the surviving spouse didn’t remarry. Then it was changed to where the rating had to be at least 30%. Now it is at 60%, so the check we get each month once I die, they cut my wife off unless I get it increased. Yet reality is that they may well in the future raise the requirement rating again after I’m dead. The last day I was able to physically work at all was June 21st, 2013. I applied for social security disability and got my first check in five months and seven days, first try. These other three times I tried to get my rating increased I got turned down after about a year or so but because I was still able to do some work I did not contest them but this last time (4th) I filed in mid February of 2013 because I knew that I was not going to be able to continue working much longer. I had also seen a VA Neurosurgeon at the hospital in Johnson City Tn in October of 2012 who actually in writing agreed with the results of an MRI on my neck that I should be given an increase in ratings because it was obvious that the lightning had messed up my spine. This was turned in with a bunch of other documents that the people on the ratings board in Nashville Tn totally ignored and turned me down flat on all claims. I got this turn down notice in mid March of 2014. At that time because I was no longer able to do any work of any kind I went ahead and filed an appeal which I was told would take about two years at which time I would go in front of a Board of three Judges whom were not getting their checks from the VA like the others had been. In very late June of this year I got a phone call from a man who said he was with this fore mentioned Board who told me that on April 26th of this year that my case was basically put onto someones desk there and that I should be given a date ‘soon’ to where I could go in front of this three Judge panel, I still haven’t heard anything since. February of 2013, it is now April of 2018, that is over 5 years. In March of 1999 in Ocala Florida at a civilian hospital I had a four-way by-pass operation, seven days later one of those arteries closed and I had yet another heart attack (I have had many) these civilian Doctors told me that if I really behaved myself and didn’t pull, push or lift anything that if I was lucky I might live another three or four years. Every day is borrowed time, only through God’s grace and some very good civilian Doctors in Georgia am I still breathing. How many Service Connected Disabled Veterans die each day on this waiting list trying to get an honest rating so that their wife and children won’t have to lose their homes or have the ability to stay off of food stamps? To me their actions (VA) are a moral sin that I have my doubts that God will forgive them for! How much blood are on these people hands?

 

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