7/15/15 – 5:13 A.M.
A Findlay home was damaged by a fire late Monday night. The Findlay Fire Department reports firefighters were called to 315 Allen Avenue around 11:25 p.m. They remained on scene for nearly three hours.
The blaze reportedly started on the second floor of the home. The cause of the fire has not been identified yet. No damage estimate has been released.
Two adults and three children received help from the American Red Cross in the form of temporary housing, home cleanup kits, and comfort kits.Read More →
6/25/15 – 4:54 A.M.
A new report is shedding some light on the impact of opioid addiction in our area. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office released county-by-county overdose figures for every Ohio County Wednesday. The numbers show that between 2008 and 2013, 229 people in the region died from unintentional drug overdoses.
In Hancock County, there were 38 deaths in that time frame. In Putnam County the number was 8. Allen County saw the highest number of overdose deaths in the six-year period, with 57 people losing their lives. You can see the county-by-county breakdown on our website.
Brown is currently co-sponsoring legislation to strengthen opiod prescription guidelines in the Veterans Affairs health system.
Allen County, 57.
Hancock County, 38.
Hardin County, 32.
Henry County, 4.
Putnam County, 8.
Seneca County, 29.
Wood County, 53.
Wyandot County, 8.
06/24/15 12:45 p.m.
A Findlay woman has been given the Findlay Rotary Club’s Service Above Self Award.
Karen Cline was given the award for exemplifying Rotary’s professional service and leadership ideals. In his nominating letter, Puck Rowe said Cline is an inspiration to the community because of her enthusiasm as a volunteer.
As chairman of the Komen Northwest Ohio Strategic Mission committee, Cline was instrumental in ensuring that clinical breast exams, mammogram’s, treatment, diagnostic support and educational outreach are available to the most vulnerable members of every county in the 24-county affiliate service area.
Locally she was key in securing the foundational funding for the Hancock County Mammography Screening Initiative program in May of 2010, located at Eastern Woods Outpatient Center. Karen was also the chairman of the inaugural Findlay Race for the Cure in 2013.
Cline has also served as the American Heart Association Co-Chair for three years and was on the
Advisory Board of her alma mater Bowling Green State of the University’s Public Television Station for three years. She has served on the Blanchard Valley Regional Health System board of trustees,
BVHS executive compensation committee and chaired the compliance and audit committee. She
is an active member of St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, serving on boards and
committees for numerous years.
(WASHINGTON) — These days, trade is not just about exports, imports, manufacturing and jobs. Apparently, trade is also at least a little bit about political favors.
Although House Republicans are expected to do most of the heavy lifting in providing votes to pass Trade Promotion Authority, President Obama has worked his personal touch to ensure his trade agenda does not fall by the wayside — lobbying congressional Democrats to support what may turn out to be one of his lasting legacies during his second term in office.
One key presidential perk at Obama’s disposal: Air Force One.
So far, 18 House Democrats have come out in support of TPA, and Obama invited four of them to join him on board the flying Oval Office for his trip to the G7 summit in Germany last weekend.
Reps. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Gerald Connolly, D-Va., Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, all accepted the offer to fly with the president on the Boeing VC-25 — which is similar to a 747. Each lawmaker said they received the invitation seven to 10 days before departing on Saturday.
No Republicans joined the Democratic contingent on the G7 trip, although some GOP lawmakers have been invited to fly on Air Force One from time to time during the Obama presidency.
For Connolly, a four-term Democrat, it was his first time joining the president on Air Force One. And the experience was clearly not lost on him.
“It was an experience of a lifetime, in many ways,” he said. “There you are in a big 747 — with the president.”
Quigley and Himes both said the trip was their third time flying with Obama on AF1, but for each it was their first international trip on the aircraft.
“Of course, it’s fun to get on Air Force One and be with the president,” Himes acknowledged.
Johnson, a 12-term lawmaker, said she had flown on Air Force one “six or seven times” during the Clinton administration, and had even declined a “late” invitation from former President George W. Bush during his presidency because of a “scheduling conflict.”
“I thought it was valuable,” Johnson said of the weekend getaway. “It’s a compliment to get an invitation from the president.”
Connolly, who admitted he almost had to pinch himself because flying on Air Force One felt like he was in a movie, summed it up as an opportunity to get a senior seminar with the administration on some of its key foreign policy issues. He said Obama joined the lawmakers for about 20 minutes en route to Germany, and about 20 minutes on the way back, comparing notes on the summit, the upcoming TPA vote, Iraq, Ukraine, and the president’s remaining legislative agenda over the next 18 months.
“They wanted to make a bigger statement to reinforce the president’s commitment that he will have the backs of those in our caucus who step out and support the agreement,” Connolly said.
TPA, also known as “fast track,” is a procedure that determines how an administration goes about getting a trade agreement and how Congress considers it.
Although each member of the foursome has publicly backed Obama on trade, Himes said the lawmakers also compared notes with the White House “on who we thought was potentially a yes vote but whose support is still up in the air.”
The group also attended several G7 events, toured a BMW factory and spent time with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.
“It’s rare that you get a chance to talk to Susan Rice, talk about international security issues with the president’s new deputy national security adviser [Avril Haines], ambassadors, the chief of staff,” Quigley said. “You’re so busy [in Washington], you rarely get a chance to sit down and talk about the trade bill, what it means and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
“Deep dive discussions are extraordinarily helpful,” he said. “You’re reminded of this when you travel on the plane.”
Since the excursion is considered “official business” and not campaign related, the cost of the flight falls on the taxpayer.
The Democratic quartet was treated to salmon and crab cakes on flight to Germany, and filet mignon on the return voyage.
“All very tasty, fattening food,” Johnson quipped.
Johnson bought her son and grandsons Air Force One golf balls and caps, and purchased a drink container for her daughter-in-law. She also bought some Air Force One coins and a bottle opener. All in all, she said, she dropped about $200 on AF1 gear.
“I didn’t feel like I was going for the ride,” Johnson said. “We had the opportunity to learn things and connect with researchers and see how respected the president is [abroad].”
Quigley said he snagged some presidential M&Ms for his interns and purchased an Air Force One cap.
Still, the lawmakers who joined Obama on the trip don’t view the experience merely as a reward for their support of the president’s trade agenda.
“How often does anyone get to spend that much time with that caliber and cadre of people?” Connolly asked. “We’re all under one roof for 17 or 18 hours, plus on the ground.”
“I took it more of [as] since there’s only 18 of us at this point, here we are. It reinforces the four of us to be better spokesmen on international issues and trade issues. I think that worked,” Quigley said. “You learn first-hand why trade relationships matter to the economy and why these relationships with the G-7 also affect us.”
The White House also does not view the flights as simply a reward but rather a way to engage members.
“Over the last year or so, we have redoubled our efforts to try to engage members of Congress in new and creative ways, and on recent foreign trips, the president has invited members of Congress to attend — or to join him for those trips,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on the return flight.
“There’s some ‘holy cow, gee whiz’ aspects. You board Air Force One and you’ll feel that and see that. You land and everyone is taking pictures of the plane,” Quigley said. “The president is coming off [the plane] to music and fanfare. Ceremonies matter and some of that pomp and circumstance matters. It represents what our country is about. If you get caught up in it, it’s not a bad thing. Otherwise, you get cynical in this business.”
While many House Democrats are fearful support for trade could be toxic to their reelection efforts, the aura of a trip on Air Force One — not to mention face time with the president — is simply too valuable for others to pass up.
“To be invited to join the president on a foreign trip was a distinct honor that I’ll carry with me for rest of my life,” Connolly said.
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Read More →
(WASHINGTON) — The massive hack into federal systems announced last week was far deeper and potentially more problematic than publicly acknowledged, with hackers believed to be from China moving through government databases undetected for more than a year, sources briefed on the matter told ABC News.
“If [only] they knew the full extent of it,” one U.S. official said about those affected by the intrusion into the Office of Personnel Management’s information systems.
It all started with an initial intrusion into OPM’s systems more than a year ago, and after gaining that initial access the hackers were able to work their way through four different “segments” of OPM’s systems, according to sources.
Much of that data has been stored on OPM systems housed by the Department of the Interior in a Denver-area data center, sources said. And one of the four “segments” compromised held forms filled out by federal employees seeking security clearances.
As ABC News previously reported, the 127-page forms — known as SF-86’s and used for background investigations — ask applicants for personal information not only about themselves but also relatives, friends, and potentially even college roommates.
OPM insists the information compromised by the intrusion into its systems does “not [include] the names of family members.”
“Family members of employees were not affected by this breach,” OPM says on its website.
However, U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity say unequivocally such information was put at serious risk by the OPM hack. Of utmost concern are U.S. employees stationed overseas, including in countries such as China, whose government would covet personal information on relatives and contacts of American officials living in the communist country, according to officials.
“If the SF-86’s associated with this hack were, in their entirety, part of the stolen information, then that would mean the potential release of a staggering amount of information, affecting an exponential amount of people,” one U.S. official told ABC News on Sunday.
Acting as the government’s human resources division, OPM conducts about 90 percent of background investigations for the federal government. Information from SF-86 forms dating back three decades could have been exposed in the cyber-attack, which the U.S. government strongly suspects was carried out by hackers in China, sources said.
Applicants seeking U.S. security clearances are required to provide the full names, dates of birth, places of birth and social security numbers of spouses or partners. Relatives’ full names, dates of birth, current addresses and in some cases employment information are also required. And applicants are asked to the full names, dates of birth and addresses of “foreign contacts” — defined as a foreign national, including relatives, “with whom you, or your spouse, or cohabitant are bound by affection, influence, common interests, and/or obligation.”
It’s still unclear exactly what was compromised by the OPM hack, particularly because OPM officials and other authorities still don’t have a good handle on how much information was actually stored by OPM in the first place, one U.S. official said. Nearly 50 government agencies send data to OPM for storage in some form, according to the official.
The intrusion was only noticed after OPM began to upgrade its equipment and systems. As soon as anomalies within the systems were noticed, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI were notified.
Over the next two weeks, OPM will be sending notifications to an estimated 4 million current and former government employees whose “Personally Identifiable Information” may have been compromised by the hack.
Those notifications “will state exactly what information may have been compromised,” OPM says on its website.
And “since the investigation is ongoing, additional PII exposures may come to light,” an OPM official acknowledged Sunday. “In that case, OPM will conduct additional notifications as necessary.”
In a statement last week, an FBI spokesman said, “We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
An OPM spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment for this article.Read More →
(NEW YORK) — No, she’s not running for president, but Wednesday night Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined leading progressive groups on a call rallying their members around her issues.
The event allowed Warren to motivate grassroots activists after Democracy for America and MoveOn formally suspended their “Run Warren Run” campaign last week.
The overarching message from the organizations was that they would change their focus from urging Warren to run to helping her be an advocate for causes she — and they — care about.
“I know that some of you on this call were hoping I’d be getting a new job next year,” Warren said. “But I really want you to know, I love my job representing Massachusetts…and I am working my heart out.”
She asked those on the call to help her push their members of Congress on a few major issues including: Opposing the current fast-track trade deal, holding Wall Street accountable and promoting debt-free college.
Warren specifically spoke Wednesday about the push to provide debt-free education options.
“While not every college needs to graduate every student debt-free, every kid needs a debt-free option — a strong public university where it’s possible to get a great education without taking on loads of debt,” Warren said in a speech Wednesday.
That speech, in addition to the call detailed above, represents a growing push from progressive organizations to bring the issue of debt-free college front-and-center in the 2016 campaign.
“This must be a central issue in the national debate in 2016,” said Adam Green, head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, at a Capitol Hill press conference on the subject, which Warren attended.
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
(WASHINGTON) — Food safety experts fear secret elements of a hotly contested Pacific trade deal will further hamper U.S. government efforts to turn back bad seafood at the border, even as shrimp imported from Southeast Asian farms continue to turn up significant numbers of positive tests for banned antibiotics and dangerous bacteria.
“These trade agreements are used pretty much as a weapon to go after food safety standards,” said Patrick Woodall, of the food safety group Food and Water Watch. “We’re concerned it is creating a kind of secret venue to challenge U.S. food safety standards.”
Food safety experts have become increasingly vocal in recent days, with the House expected to vote Friday on legislation that would give President Obama broad authority to negotiate and sign the agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
At the heart of their concern is one of America’s fastest-growing delicacies: shrimp.
As shrimp has steadily grown in popularity, the U.S. food industry has become increasingly reliant on importers, many from Southeast Asia, to satisfy demand. Federal inspectors have struggled to keep up with the volume, looking at only 3.7 percent of the farmed seafood that arrives at American ports, and taking samples from less than 1 percent for testing at a Food and Drug Administration lab.
And yet, with even such a small sample the inspectors are finding problems: In 2014, inspectors turned away more than 100 shipments from Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand, according to numbers provided by the Food and Drug Administration. Advocacy groups say those numbers are on the rise.
Critics of the proposed trade agreement involving 11 Pacific Rim countries argue it could erode the rules on what shrimp can be turned away.
The chief concern, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who has been leading the fight against the trade agreement, is that the trade deal could strengthen the ability of Asian shrimp importers to challenge U.S. restrictions as trade barriers, and leave decisions about what chemicals to ban to international arbitrators who preside over such challenges, instead of to U.S. inspectors.
DeLauro believes a goal of the trade deal is to pursue “equivalence” or “harmonization” between the rules in such countries as Vietnam and Malaysia — where the use of antibiotics and other pesticides are less restrictive — and those in the U.S., where antibiotics in shrimp are banned.
“It is a code for moving to the lowest common denominator,” DeLauro said. “Our standards will be lower. That is what the risk is. That is what will happen if this agreement goes into effect. And we will have no recourse to turning this around.”
U.S. trade officials strongly dispute DeLauro’s characterization of the trade deal, saying the term “harmonization” never appears in the deal. In fact, they said a goal of the agreement is to force importing countries to raise their standards.
In a statement to ABC News, the spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative said the agreement being brokered “will help improve food safety in TPP countries by promoting the use of transparent and science based regulations.” They say the language clarifying that goal will be available for public review once the full agreement is drafted.
“It will also include tough new customs provisions… to help us combat illegal transshipment, including of seafood, and identify food safety risks before they get to our shores,” the statement said.
Potential Shrimp Risks
The risk of getting food poisoning from eating shrimp is relatively low. The FDA says only about 6 percent of all food-borne illness is linked to seafood, including raw shellfish. But food safety experts told ABC News they are sounding alarms about shrimp because of the persistent presence of antibiotics in the shrimp tested, both in government and private labs.
Even low levels of antibiotics in food could pose a public health issue, Woodall said, because their use fosters the spread of deadly bacteria that are resistant to standard medical treatments.
Testing by Consumer Reports released last month found what the organization called significant numbers of samples containing banned antibiotics in farmed shrimp imported from Asia. More than 5 percent of some 200 samples they tested came back positive for banned antibiotics.
“Shrimp in this country isn’t supposed to be produced with any antibiotics, so the fact that we found these residues coming in suggests that practices are going on that mask the hygiene problems,” said Urvashi Rangan, who led the study for Consumer Reports. “We are in fact reducing the effectiveness of those antibiotics in the long term for [people], and for sick animals too, and that’s the problem.”
Further, the Consumer Reports study found evidence of vibrio in 30 percent of the shrimp they tested. The dangerous bacteria is most commonly seen in oysters, not shrimp, so Rangan said her team was surprised to find it.
“The FDA doesn’t have any requirements for vibrio control in shrimp and yet the centers for disease control say that vibrio infections, in particular, are on the rise,” she said.
“In fact,” she said, “it’s one of the few bacterial illnesses from food that is on the rise.”
FDA officials twice agreed to be interviewed by ABC News on the subject of imported shrimp, only to cancel at the last moment. Instead, the agency sent a statement noting that, “with 2.5 million metric tons of foreign seafood shipped to the U.S. every year, the FDA uses multiple tools to protect consumers.”
Among those tools are: foreign assessments, where FDA inspectors visit shrimp farm sights in person; the use of high tech risk assessment tools that help them target the shipments from highest risk farms for testing; and the port inspections.
“Although raw shrimp can contain bacteria, fully cooking shrimp largely eliminates that risk,” the statement said.
Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, which advocates in Washington on behalf of seafood importers, also disputed the significance of the Consumer Reports findings. He told ABC News that the consumer organization has a “blatantly protectionist” agenda to promote U.S.-caught shrimp, and that the organization has exaggerated the risks involved in farmed, imported shrimp. He expressed doubts about the reliability of the Consumer Reports tests.
“We have zero tolerance for any use of unapproved antibiotics in shrimp. Period,” Gibbons said. “But it is important to be clear that the antibiotic issue is not one of food safety. Consumers do not get sick from even the miniscule level of antibiotics alleged to have been found in the Consumer Reports case.”
Last month, on the heels of the Consumer Reports study, Wal-Mart announced it was pressing all of its meat and seafood suppliers to restrict the use of antibiotics and published a list of voluntary guidelines regarding acceptable veterinary drug administration, according to SeafoodSource.com, an industry publication.
The safety of imported shrimp is emerging as a new front in what has been a bare-knuckle battle over the trade agreement, pitting labor unions and some Democrats against the Obama administration — with both sides accusing the other of presenting a misleading picture of the deal.
U.S. trade officials have singled out opponents of the deal, with Obama directly criticizing Sen. Elizabeth Warren in April, saying “I love Elizabeth. We’re allies on a whole host of issues, but she’s wrong on this.”
The administration has also circulated to the media — including to ABC News — a Washington Post fact-checker item accusing DeLauro of exaggerating the risk that the trade deal would unleash a flood of new shrimp imports on U.S. consumers, further overwhelming FDA inspectors.
Meanwhile, food safety advocates have accused U.S. trade officials of colluding with large corporate interests and lobbyists as the deal has been negotiated. And trade experts have said the administration is misleading the public with claims that the trade agreement would force Asian countries to increase regulation of their shrimp farms.
“That is simply a lie,” said Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, which is lobbying against the TPP. “The actual record of these trade agreements has been only a downward ratchet on food safety.”
The opportunities for charges and counter charges have been helped along by the secrecy shrouding the trade talks. The draft text, believed to number in the thousands of pages, is being treated as a classified document — literally, a trade secret. In order to read the agreement, members of Congress have to descend to a secure basement conference room in the Capitol complex, a room typically used by intelligence committee members to review national security documents.
Obama himself addressed the question of secrecy in a video blog released by the White House, defending the approach as basic negotiating tactics, and promising to make the entire agreement public 60 days before it is put to a final vote.
“I think they’re hiding things,” DeLauro said. “I think they just don’t want the American public first of all-to know what’s in the agreement.”
The House is expected to vote as early as this week to give Obama authority to broker an agreement on the TPP. That would mean a final agreement would return to Congress for an up or down vote, but without the ability to alter or amend the details. The Senate has already voted to give Obama that authority.
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Read More →
(WASHINGTON) — The president may have dibs on the title commander-in-chief. But who says the first lady can’t take on the role of editor-in-chief?
Michelle Obama is trying the role on for size as the first-ever guest editor of More’s upcoming July-August edition, the magazine announced on Thursday.
The first lady will be featured on the cover of the upcoming issue, which hits stands on June 23. But Mrs. Obama did much more than sit in for the cover story, the magazine said.
The first lady, 51, actually did the work in guest-editing the entire edition cover-to-cover.
“I am excited and honored to be guest editor of More this month and tell you a little bit about the issues I’m working on, as well as the extraordinary Americans I’ve had the privilege of meeting as First Lady,” the first lady is quoted as saying in a news release from the magazine.
More says the special edition magazine will highlight the first lady’s various initiatives — ranging from healthy eating to military family outreach to education — throughout its pages.
Mrs. Obama will also headline an awards luncheon in collaboration with the magazine to honor four women who have shown exceptional leadership within the realm of the first lady’s initiatives. The luncheon will be in Washington, D.C., on June 29.
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Read More →
(WASHINGTON) — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Secret Service was doing the best it could to get more officers on the job, even if that means, as ABC has confirmed, some new hires were put in sensitive assignments that they did not yet have the security clearance required to serve in.
“This backlog that has materialized has already been significantly reduced, that the backlog now is less than a dozen,” Earnest said during Wednesday’s briefing.
The “backlog” refers to an unusually large volume of hires in the wake of the embarrassing, highly public missteps and security breaches the Secret Service has weathered lately.
The news came about after Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, said a whistleblower told him agents were present at White House meetings for which they did not yet have the security clearance to attend. He said he discussed the issue with Secret Service Director Joe Clancy last week.
But Earnest suggested President Obama still has confidence in Clancy’s leadership, and that the Secret Service is working to fix this problem.
“I think this reflects two things. One is it reflects the effort that the Secret Service has undertaken to hire more police officers and agents to implement the reforms that Director Clancy has so doggedly pursued, and it also reflects what he has acknowledged as making sure that these individuals have all the training and all — and they’ve received all of the background checks to perform the duties that they are expected to perform,” he said.
Earnest also said all officers have “significant background checks” and other training to ensure they can assume their new responsibilities – even if they don’t yet have the right security clearance.
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Read More →