NY City Council Asks Why Parents are Being Accused of Child Abuse for Simply Using Marijuana

As New York considers legalizing marijuana, attention is also turning to how the drug plays a role in the city’s child welfare system—one that has the power to remove children from their parents and that investigates, almost exclusively, low-income families of color. Parents and advocates have reported that recreational marijuana use can lead to investigations of child maltreatment by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services. Many times these investigations stem from testing pregnant women and their newborns at the city’s public hospitals, according to testimony at a City Council hearing on Wednesday. Queens Councilwoman Adrienne Adams called the practice “the systemic criminalization of women of color,” which comes with the threat of separating children and parents. “We are absolutely tearing families apart, needlessly,” Adams said.

NYC Sends “Disease Detectives” In Jewish Neighborhoods Looking for Unvaccinated – Attorneys Prepare Lawsuits

A day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency over measles outbreaks in Jewish communities of Brooklyn, and ordered forced vaccinations of everyone not yet vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, the Washington Post is reporting that the Health Department has sent "disease detectives" into the community to force compliance: "On Wednesday, the city sent 15 to 20 disease detectives into the community, some with Yiddish interpreters, a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to quash the outbreak with $1,000 fines and misdemeanor charges for anyone in certain areas who refuses to be immunized. The workers, wearing blue Health Department jackets, conducted interviews in the homes of people who may have been exposed to the dangerous, highly contagious virus and checked the immunization records of all those they may have had contact with. Others pored over records for the same information at a federally funded health clinic in the heart of the community." John Marshall, chairman of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center, is reportedly threatening to call the police on parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. The Washington Post reported: "Marshall said he threatened to call police on parents who were refusing to send a feverish child to the hospital in an ambulance for fear the authorities would learn all their children were unvaccinated. 'The ones who are so vehemently anti-vaccination, I don’t know how to convince them,' said Edward Chapnick, director of Maimonides’s infectious disease division." The Mayor and the Health Department are assuming that by declaring a state of emergency over recent measles "outbreaks," that they have the legal authority to suspend certain laws in place protecting the rights of residents of NYC to opt out of vaccines due to religious beliefs, and HIPAA privacy laws which would prevent them from pulling up medical records of children to see if they have been vaccinated or not. In the meantime, attorneys are saying that they will file a lawsuit challenging the emergency order by Friday. Attorney Michael Sussman, who successfully represented parents in Rockland County, New York last week and convinced the state Supreme Court to overturn the County's ban on unvaccinated children, is one of the attorneys planning to file a lawsuit in New York City.

BREAKING: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Orders Forced Vaccinations in Brooklyn

Just days after the New York Supreme Court struck down a ban on unvaccinated children in Rockland County, New York, after declaring a state of emergency over a measles outbreak, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken even more drastic actions in certain Jewish populated neighborhoods in Brooklyn, ordering forced vaccinations for measles. “There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving,” de Blasio said. “I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities.” There have been no reported deaths due to measles anywhere in the United States this year. The Mayor's order goes beyond what Rockland County Supervisor Ed Day ordered, and includes EVERYONE who is unvaccinated within zip codes 11205, 11206, 11221 and 11249 which are part of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to be vaccinated within 48 hours.

BREAKING: Rockland County NY Becomes America’s First Vaccine Police State – Bans Unvaccinated Children from Public Places – Health Dept. Goes Door to Door

Rockland County Executive Ed Day held a press conference earlier today to announce that he had declared a "state of emergency" regarding the New York state county's 153 cases of measles over a 6-month period, and placed a ban on all children under the age of 18 from appearing in any public area, which includes schools, malls and places of worship. Mr. Day said that this was the "first such effort of this kind nationally." The emergency ban is clearly targeted towards parents of unvaccinated children, as Mr. Day stated: "Parents will be held accountable if they are found to be in violation of this state of emergency act. And the focus of this effort is on the parents of these children. We are urging them once again, now with the authority of law, to get your children vaccinated." Mr. Day tried to downplay fears of police checkpoints and random checks for vaccination status, but he also stated that any parent found to be not in compliance with the emergency order would be referred to the district attorney's office for possible prosecution. "If we have a situation where it comes to our attention that a parent is willingly, knowingly, not allowing a child to be vaccinated, under the emergency order, it will be referred into the district attorney." The Rockland County Health Department, who recommended the emergency ban, has reportedly been going door to door and calling homes within the community in an effort to deal with the measles "epidemic."

Is New York Becoming a Vaccine Police State?

New York City has mandated that all preschool children must receive a flu shot. The National Vaccine Information Center is tracking this mandate as well as other proposed vaccine legislation in New York, which includes a proposed law to mandate the Gardasil HPV vaccine. Stay in touch through the NVIC Advocacy Portal on the progress of these bills, or other bills in your home state.

“Family First Act” Has a “Presents for Pimps” Loophole to Allow Sex Trafficking to Continue in Foster Care Group Homes

It’s always cause for celebration when a place that institutionalizes children is forced to close. The residential treatment portion of Hawthorne-Cedar Knolls, an institution in Westchester County, north of New York City, is scheduled to shut down. But don’t celebrate too much. A new federal law actually makes it easier to keep such institutions going, and set up new ones. The shutdown of the residential treatment portion of Hawthorne-Cedar Knolls won’t happen because the agency that runs it, the Jewish Board Family and Children’s Services, had a crisis of conscience. It will happen because the pressure from upset neighbors and state regulators became too much. What was upsetting them? Oh, just the usual: violence and sex trafficking. Unfortunately, the new “Family First Act” comes complete with a “presents for pimps” loophole, that will encourage more tragedies like the one at Hawthorne-Cedar Knolls.

N.Y. Mother Fights for Medically Kidnapped 13 Year Old Son Being Forced to Receive Chemo Therapy Even Though He is Cancer-free

ABC7 in New York is reporting on the story of a Long Island mother who lost custody of her 13 year old son when she disagreed with doctors over his treatment. Kristin Thorne reports: "A mother on Long Island is fighting to have her son removed from chemotherapy treatment after he was given a clean bill of health by doctors. Candace Gundersen's son, Nick Gundersen, 13, is receiving court-ordered chemotherapy at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. He's now in the custody of Suffolk County Child Protective Services." Kristin Thorne also spoke with Nick from his hospital bed: "They basically took me away from my parents and that's unnecessary because they're trying to help me and they're not trying to kill me. I think that they should focus on other families that actually need help and whose children lives are actually in danger," he said.

N.Y. Times Exposes How Poor People More Likely to Lose Children to CPS

She was caught up in what lawyers and others who represent families say is a troubling and longstanding phenomenon: the power of Children’s Services to take children from their parents on the grounds that the child’s safety is at risk, even with scant evidence. The agency’s requests for removals filed in family court rose 40 percent in the first quarter of 2017, to 730 from 519, compared with the same period last year, according to figures obtained by The New York Times. In interviews, dozens of lawyers working on these cases say the removals punish parents who have few resources. Their clients are predominantly poor black and Hispanic women, they say, and the criminalization of their parenting choices has led some to nickname the practice: Jane Crow. “It takes a lot as a public defender to be shocked, but these are the kinds of cases you hear attorneys screaming about in the hall,” said Scott Hechinger, a lawyer at Brooklyn Defender Services. “There’s this judgment that these mothers don’t have the ability to make decisions about their kids, and in that, society both infantilizes them and holds them to superhuman standards. In another community, your kid’s found outside looking for you because you’re in the bathtub, it’s ‘Oh, my God’” — a story to tell later, he said. “In a poor community, it’s called endangering the welfare of your child.”

Genetically Modified Moths to be Released in New York State?

Cornell University has applied for a permit to execute the world’s first open-air trial of a genetically engineered diamondback moth (GDM). The purpose of this new GM insect is to reduce pest populations of diamondback moths through engineering a new female lethality trait (female larvae die, and males go on to reproduce until the population is destroyed) into male GDM. Those pushing this new technology have not completed any worldwide assessments of health and environmental safety, and only the most cursory of environmental reviews has been conducted by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Unless and until all environmental and health impacts have been reviewed, it is reckless to release hundreds of thousands of novel organisms around the citizens and farms of New York State.

Ruling Alters Legal Landscape in NY Shaken-baby Cases

For the first time, a New York appellate court has ruled that evidence once used to convict people in shaken-baby cases may no longer be scientifically valid. The ruling, which came in the case of René Bailey, a Greece woman convicted of causing the death of a child in 2001, has implications for a number of other people in state prisons for shaken-baby offenses. In this area alone, several dozen people have been convicted of murder or assault in such cases. The appeals court decision, released Thursday, changes the legal landscape in New York for alleged shaken baby cases, said Brian Shiffrin, a local appellate lawyer who was not involved in the case. “It makes it both easier for defense attorneys to argue the science and it puts the burden back on prosecutors to show there is evidence to support the theory of shaken baby syndrome,” said Shiffrin, who has handled appeals of shaken-baby convictions.