Texas Foster Care: “Rape, Abuse, Psychotropic Medication, and Instability” Still the Norm as State Fights Against Reform

The battle continues between the State of Texas and attorneys who represent more than 12,000 children in the state's foster care system. A panel of three judges in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments Monday, April 30, about the constitutionality of the state's troubled foster care system. This is the latest chapter in a fight to change the system in which, according to U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack, "... children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm." After Judge Jack ruled in December 2015 that the system as it stood was unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton appealed the decision, defending the state's foster care system. Many of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who were formerly foster care children, have now become adults and aged out of the system and are missing. The San Antonio Express ran a story looking into what has happened to these Texas foster children who aged out of the system, and they found that most of them suffer unemployment, homelessness, and sex trafficking as adults.

Texas Neurologist is Rare Breed: “Serial Medical Whistleblower” Fights Corruption at Expense of Own Career

Robert Van Boven saves peoples' lives. He also pisses people off. The Lakeway (Austin, Texas) neurologist, currently embroiled in a years-long legal combat with the hospital that once employed him, the state agency that attempted to end his career, and a range of lawyers and officials who believe they can wear him down and defeat him, has a long record of getting crossways with the authorities. In one professional position after another, he has consistently refused to go along to get along, and his resistance has cost him dearly. He is described by most fellow professionals as an extraordinarily accomplished doctor – among other distinctions, he was a member of the legendary 1987 Johns Hopkins surgical team that performed a groundbreaking procedure to separate conjoined twins. But he has also repeatedly clashed with institutional expectations, rules, and administrators – and met with recurrent retaliation, most recently severe enough that he fears he may never be able to practice medicine freely again. A selected list of the results of Van Boven's whistleblowing include a 2007 settlement with a Minnesota medical facility over its retaliation against him for reporting hospital harm; a 2010 settlement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over retaliation for his reports of mismanagement at a VA neurology facility at Pickle Research Campus (Austin); a brief 2010 dismissal from a Defense Department research appointment (reassigned after a public outcry); and most recently (2016-present), an ongoing legal dispute with LRMC and its successor, Baylor Scott & White Med­ical Center-Lakeway, and the Texas Med­ical Board, temporary but devastating restrictions on Van Boven's medical practice, and an eventual exoneration last December. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to practice medicine again," he said some months ago. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to let these bastards destroy me."

Texas Judge: CPS Still Unconstitutional – Foster Care Sexual and Physical Abuse Still the Norm

Two years ago (January 2016) Health Impact News reported that U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack had ruled against the State of Texas stating that the foster care system, named in a class action lawsuit on behalf of Texas foster children, was unconstitutional. In her 255 page ruling, Judge Jack wrote: "Texas’ PMC (Permanent Managing Conservatorship) children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm." The judge was very clear that the existing Texas "Child Protection Services" and foster care system needed to be abolished, and a new one formed with real reforms. We also reported how the State of Texas, rather than comply with the judge's order and make changes to protect Texas children, instead fought back to keep the status quo, as Governor Greg Abbott's Attorney General, Ken Paxton, chose to fight the decision rather than implement the reforms the court was requiring. Today, more than 2 years later, it appears that almost nothing has changed in Texas in terms of protecting abused children (even though the State legislature has passed some very nominal reforms), and Judge Jack has ruled again, and ordered Texas officials to adopt almost 100 changes in the Texas foster care system. Once again, the State of Texas, through State Attorney General Ken Paxton, is resisting these changes.

Texas Mom Blamed for Baby’s Accidental Gardasil Vaccine Injuries Fights to Get Medically Kidnapped Daughter Back

The Gardasil vaccine is not intended to be given to children under 9 years of age and has not been studied in babies. It is a vaccine developed for sexually active young women to prevent the humanpapilloma virus and cervical cancer. In recent years, it has been given to teen-age boys as well. It is perhaps the most controversial vaccine in America and around the world today. Yet when a 4 month old baby in Texas was mistakenly given the shot intended for her teenage brother, her mother has been blamed for causing the symptoms that followed. Everywhere Anita Vasquez turned for answers for little Aniya's condition, it seemed that no one she talked to was willing to make the obvious connection between the vaccine and her illness. In the effort to cover-up or deny any effects of the medical error, a family is being sacrificed. In a cruel twist of irony, the fact that Anita refuses to give up her quest for answers and the fact that she has medical knowledge (because she is a nurse by trade) is being viewed as "evidence" that she has Munchausen syndrome by proxy (or "factitious disorder") - a rare mental disorder by which someone, usually a parent, intentionally makes a child sick in order to gain attention. Baby Aniya was seized by Child Protective Services on May 2, 2017, and placed into foster care with strangers. Her big brother has struggled with blaming himself ever since. He loves his baby sister very much. In the latest development in their story, CPS social workers have cut off all of 14 year old Alfred's visits with Aniya. The Vasquez family just wants to be a family again, but CPS appears to be blaming everyone except the most likely culprit - the vaccine that she never should have received, the vaccine that she was mistakenly given right before her symptoms started.

Local Dallas CBS Affiliate Goes Undercover to Reveal Medical Kidnapping of Teenage Girl

Being held against one's will is one of the most frightening, and powerless, things a person can experience. Whether it is a hostage situation with a bank robber, or a masked man holding a loved one for ransom, the terror experienced by both the victim and the family of the victim is the stuff of blockbuster movies, and the hero swoops in and defeats the bad guys, setting the captives free. What if, instead of the captor being a stereotypical "bad guy," the captor is a hospital or the state? Would the terror and post traumatic stress experienced by the victim be any less? Those who have experienced this tell us that it is just as disturbing and traumatic. If anything, the powerlessness takes on a whole other dimension because this isn't the way things are supposed to happen in America. The hospitals are supposed to be the good guys that we turn to in times of need. A news investigative team in Texas has investigated a number of reports of local hospitals holding young people against their will, while their parents are stripped of their power to help their children, saying that: "This could happen to almost any parent out there." Investigative reporter Ginger Allen says that they have investigated similar complaints "for years," and that the story they reported on October 27, 2017, is: "an example of the complaint we probably hear most often. People - kids - are transported to these hospitals and you can't get them out. This means that any parent out there could go through what you are about to watch play out." A teen was taken to Sundance Behavioral Hospital in Texas and held against her will, even when her mother tried to check her out against medical advice. She was also drugged without her mother's consent while she was there. CBS 11 went undercover with hidden cameras to report on the medical kidnapping.

Texas Mother of Daughter Injured by Gardasil Vaccine Fights to Get Daughter Back as Attorneys Betray Her

A Texas mother faces another setback in trying to get her daughter back from Child Protective Services. Her daughter was medically kidnapped after a serious medical accident in which a pediatrician accidentally gave 4 month old Aniya Blu Vasquez the Gardisil 9 vaccine that was intended for her big brother. After receiving the vaccine by accident, baby Aniya began experiencing health problems that were subsequently blamed on her mother, Anita Vasquez. But Anita Vasquez recently learned that the attorney she hired to help her fight for baby Aniya is not, in fact, an attorney. Randall George Lamberg met with Anita and reportedly told her that he was an attorney who would work hard to get things done and file the motions needed to get Aniya home. Lamberg reportedly said that he was an attorney working with Esequiel Ramos, Jr. However, he is a paralegal under Ramos, not a lawyer. Lamberg was indicted in February in another case where he fraudulently represented himself as an attorney, but the Vasquez family was unaware of this history. Anita Vasquez set to work fundraising and selling menudo, a spicy Mexican soup, to raise money to pay his law firm. Between the fundraisers and a loan from a friend, she was able to pay him $7000. Court last Tuesday was supposed to be a hearing about custody of Aniya. Instead, the child was little more than an afterthought in the circus surrounding the attorney impersonator, who did not even show up for court. Anita told the Victoria Advocate: "I've been scammed."

Texas Sheriff Blasts CPS for Allowing Man Accused of Sexual Abuse to Foster 180 Girls

Medina County Texas Sheriff Randy Brown had some harsh criticisms of Texas Child Protection Services (CPS) this past week after they arrested a 58-year old man for sexually abusing 5 former foster care children. The man, Miguel Briseno, had at various times taken care of up to 12 girls at one time, and a total of 180 girls had passed through his care. Sheriff Brown told the San Antonio Express: "It's not a question about whether there are more, it's just about how many." "Those girls were taken from some environment and then you have some jackass like him abusing these girls that already have troubles," Brown said. "I'm aggravated at the whole system. I'm aggravated at the company that placed these girls. It was a money-making deal, the way they were running those girls through there like livestock. It wasn't about making a better world for them. They were making a profit off them."

U.S. Military Spraying 6 Million Acres in Texas with Toxic Pesticide Banned in Europe in Response to Harvey

Amid statewide efforts to clean up the aftermath left by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Pentagon announced last week that it had dispatched C-130H Sprayers from the Air Force Reserve's 910th Airlift Wing in order to "assist with recovery efforts in eastern Texas." However, these "recovery efforts" have little to do with rebuilding damaged structures or with the resettlement of evacuees. Instead, they are set to spray chemicals in order to help "control pest insect populations," which they allege pose a "health risk to rescue workers and residents of Houston." The Pentagon has requested that the planes treat more than 6 million acres throughout the Houston area. While the Pentagon has framed its efforts to "assist" as seeking to eliminate a potential human health risk, the particular chemical it is using to control insect populations is likely to do more harm than good. The insecticide Naled, manufactured and sold by a strategic partner of Monsanto, is currently banned in the European Union due to the "unacceptable risk" it presents to human health. Naled is a known neurotoxin in animals and humans, as it inhibits acetylcholinesterase—an enzyme essential to nerve function and communication—and has even been known to have caused paralysis. Mounting scientific evidence, including a recent Harvard study, has also pointed to Naled's responsibility for the mass die-off of North American bees.

Texas Congressman Gives Wrong Information on Tetanus Infection to Hurricane Harvey Flood Victims

The calls by some for vaccination against tetanus in hurricane affected areas of Texas are based on the assumption that coming into contact with flood waters increases the risk of tetanus bacteria infection. But that belief is an “old wives’ tale” says Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, who directs the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. A “myth,” said Osterholm. The CDC clearly states on its website: “Exposure to flood waters does not increase the risk of tetanus, and tetanus immunization campaigns are not needed.” The CDC also states that the “minimal interval after a previous dose of any tetanus-containing vaccine” is five years and the “recommended interval” is 10 years. There are serious side effects associated with tetanus containing vaccines. These include “redness, swelling and pain at the injection site; headache; fatigue, sore and swollen joints; muscle weakness; fever; chills; nausea; shock; neuropathy; convulsions; encephalopathy; paralysis; Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS); death.”

Texas Children Hurricane Victims Have Legal School Enrollment and Vaccination Exemption Rights

Many parts of Texas have suffered severe flooding and damage where families have had their lives drastically affected. This is just the start of a challenging journey ahead recovering from Hurricane Harvey. If your family has been displaced and/or your property damaged and need to find new health care practitioners that will take care of your family and respect your vaccine refusal or delay decisions, we can check in with our community to find you the referrals you need where you need them. If you are reading this and have a great referral for a health care provider that is supportive of your rights to decline or delay vaccines, please let us know their names, contact information, and location so we can pass that information on to families in need. You can reach Dawn in Austin and Rebecca in Houston by emailing TXDirector@nvicadvocacy.org. If you have become temporarily homeless or your school has become damaged and your child needs to re-enroll somewhere else, please know you have rights. “Students who are experiencing homelessness are to be enrolled immediately. Districts cannot require students experiencing homelessness to provide proof of residency, immunizations, birth certificates guardianship documents, or any other sort of required paperwork before enrolling. Requiring missing paperwork or any other delay to enrollment is a violation of the McKinney-Vento Act.”