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Speaker Boehner Contact Form
Conservatives: write to John Boehner and tell him that if he refuses to step down as Speaker, you will sit out the next presidential election. Make it clear to him that you will no longer support a Republican party led by spineless, big-government, pro-amnesty elitists like him.
House Members Contact List
Then contact your GOP representative(s) and tell them in no unceratain terms that if they vote to retain Mr. Boehner as Speaker of the House, you will never support them in any future election.
You may also telephone them via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202-224-3121.
FLASHABCK: March 9, 2011
House Speaker John Boehner is not a serious adult when it comes to addressing the out-of-control federal spending of the Democrat party. That is evident in his proposal to cut a largely inconsequential $61 Billion from the final seven months of this year’s budget.
To give you a good idea of just how astoundingly weak Boehner’s proposal is, consider that the budget deficit for February of this year ALONE was $223 Billion, or almost four times the amount that the Speaker proposes to cut by year’s end.
Even if the Senate agrees to sign on to these cuts, Obama’s obscene spending policies will still add another $1.6 Trillion to our already crippling and unsustainable $14.2 Trillion national debt.
Add to that, the fact that the President has crafted a monstrously irresponsible $3.7 Trillion budget for fiscal year 2012, and Boehner ‘s $61 Billion scheme is exposed for the pathetic monetary joke that it is.
To put it bluntly, if the Republican leader of the House is not willing to propose at least $700 Billion in cuts this year in the hopes that he may be able to strike a $350 Billion deal down the road, then he has no business being Speaker, or even being a member of the GOP leadership.
Sure, I understand that the Speaker of the House has no power to force the democrat-controlled Senate or the President to accept such a proposal, but he does have the authority to set the budget-cutting negotiations bar as high as he likes.
I ask you, why allow the Democrat leadership to malign and demonize you over a mere $61 Billion in proposed budget reductions when they could easily be maligning and demonizing you over a number many times higher than that?
At the end of the day, you’d have to be the most inept haggler in the world not to get at least a quarter of a Trillion dollars in cuts out of the bastards, and what’s more, they’d come away from the experience understanding that you actually are what you said you were in November.
Unfortunately for us all, John Boehner is not what he claimed to be during the conservative electoral tsunami of 2010.
In fact, he is a demonstrably unmotivated, unremarkable and unserious individual. who’s just made it painfully clear that he has no intention of confronting the tax-and-spend left in any appreciable way.
The Common Core school standards imposed on teachers by Washington bureaucrats have been rejected by multiple states, targeted by lawsuits and criticized as more indoctrination than education.
Now parents are being given a turn to take a whack at the one-size-fits-all program that relegates George Washington to a half a sentence and compares the Declaration of Independence to a high-school romance breakup letter.
The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center is urging parents to opt their children out of the restrictive regulations and requirements, providing forms to make the process easier.
“The opt-out form is based on the constitutionally recognized fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children and on federal statutes which were designed to protect student privacy,” said Richard Thompson, the chief counsel for the organization.
“Our Founding Fathers recognized the dangers to our freedoms posed by centralized control over public education. However, today, all but a handful of state governments, enticed by millions of dollars in federal grants, are voluntarily inviting the federal government to take control of our public schools, imposing untested educational standards and obtaining personal information on children and their parents which would make any totalitarian government blush with envy,” he continued.
“We must ever keep in mind, ‘The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will become the philosophy of the government in the next.’ Clearly, Common Core is a threat to individual privacy and liberty, and to our constitutional republic,” he said.
His group has posted online a sample form to help parents meet the requirements of Michigan state law, where Thomas More is located. The group suggests it can be used as a template by attorneys preparing similar forms in other states.
The form, above a line for a parent’s signature, states “in accordance with the fundamental constitutional rights of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching and education of their children, and the relevant state and federal statutes, I hereby request my child… be exempted and excused for the school year… from the following check marked activities.”
There are options to exempt a student from “any and all standardized testing or activities required by law, under which individual student data are collected and/or shared with the federal government or other entities outside of the local school district; or are used for the purposes of school, student, or teacher accountability, including but not by way of limitation to, academic, achievement and annual tests, state-wide performance assessments and Common Core State Standards aligned assessments and pilots, computer adaptive testing and assessments designed by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).”
There’s also an exemption from “tests, assessments, or surveys not limited solely to proficiency in core academic subjects.”
Other checkbox options include tests that measure “values, attitudes or beliefs” as well as “any survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning my child, myself or other members of my family.”
Such information could relate to “political affiliations or beliefs,” “mental or psychological problems,” “sex behavior or attitudes,” “legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers,” “religious practices” or “income.”
It forbids: “The collection, tracking, housing, reporting, selling, or sharing with any party outside of the local school district, of non-educational related information on my child or my family, including, but not limited to: religion, political affiliations, biometric data, psychometric data, and medical information. Biometric data includes fingerprints, retina and iris (eye) patterns, voiceprint, DNA sequence, facial characteristics, handwriting, and any other unique physical identifying traits. Psychometric data includes, but is not limited to: personality traits, attitudes, abilities, aptitude, social and emotional development, tendencies, inclinations, interests, and motivations. ”
Thomas More noted the flood of criticism against the federal administrative program.
For example, the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization promoting “faithful Catholic education,” said Common Core is “nothing short of a revolution in how education is provided, relying on a technocratic, top-down approach to setting national standards that, despite claims to the contrary, will drive curricula, teaching texts, and the content of standardized tests.”
“At its heart, the Common Core is a woefully inadequate set of standards in that it limits the understanding of education to a utilitarian ‘readiness for work’ mentality,” the Cardinal Newman Society said.
The standards were created under the sponsorship of the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
While the stated goal is to make educational standards consistent across the nation, problems include political and “inappropriate assignments,” links to for-profit corporations, advertising inside of tests and the elimination of input from local school boards.
A major concern is the development of a database detailing private information on every student. The 400 individual data points for each student include health conditions, religion, voting status, income, likes and dislikes.
The information,”through a complicated network of contracts and agreements, can then be shared with the federal government, contractors, researchers and other outside agencies.”
“Testing corporations can then analyze the test data, produce recommendations for how to ‘remediate’ student weaknesses, and then sell that information back to states and school districts,” the law firm said.
The Truth in American Education blog is endorsing the opt-out effort.
“Now is the time for parents to protest this intrusion by opting their child out of Common Core for the 2014-2015 school year,” the blog said. “Congress did NOT pass legislation requiring Common Core standards to be implemented nor did Congress require that standards, curriculum, and tests be aligned.
“If parents allow the U.S. Department of Education to force policy upon the public as if that policy were law, the parents will be surrendering more than parental involvement to the federal government. How soon will it be before all parental rights are ceded to the federal government?”
Opposition to the federal mandates has come from the Heartland Institute, the Home School Legal Defense Association, Eagle Forum and others.
Fox News has reported Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in federal court over the issue.
The allegations are that the Department of Education illegally manipulated grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core standards.
WND reported this week one of North Carolina’s largest school districts condemned the College Board’s new Advanced Placement history curriculum, which has direct ties to Common Core, calling it a deeply biased, inaccurate and revisionist version of American history.
David Coleman, known as the architect of the Common Core national standards and its chief pitchman, is the president of the College Board, a private company based in New York that owns the SAT and ACT exams as well as the Advanced Placement, or AP, exams and curriculum.
“Coleman is now re-writing every College Board product to align with Common Core,” said Meg Norris, a retired public-school teacher in Hall County, Georgia, and an anti-Common Core activist in that state.
The College Board not only owns the AP curriculum but it administers the AP standardized tests nationwide to K-12 students, measuring their readiness to attend college. Coleman’s ties to the controversial Common Core national education standards and the AP course’s new take on American history has come under fierce criticism.
National Review reported the College Board under Coleman is “politicizing” the teaching of American history.
Officials in North Carolina reported last week that in light of the Common Core influence, home schools in the state rose 14.3 percent. The state reports there are 98,172 homeschoolers in the state.
Governors in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Indiana and Louisiana have taken steps to distance themselves from Common Core, either by working with their state legislatures or by taking unilateral action.
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While a life of crime is certainly not the way to go, almost every criminal has to know that it’s a bad idea to post incriminating photos on social media while thoroughly breaking the law. It’s an especially bad idea for a criminal who, at any given moment, is breaking enough laws to result in 142 charges.
Well, apparently Depree Johnson was never taught that lesson. It will not come as a surprise that he is currently incarcerated, and will likely stay behind bars for quite some time.
Police in Palm Beach County, Fla., reportedly suspected Johnson of organizing a number of “dinner time” burglaries in the Boynton Beach area, WPBF.com reports. Investigators got more than enough probable cause to go pick him up after he posted several incriminating “selfies” on Instagram.
Using the username “duce22ceritfied” (yes, “certified” is misspelled), Johnson posted several pictures of himself posing with guns, drugs and cash. He is a convicted felon, therefore not permitted to possess a firearm.
When police finally ended up at Johnson’s home in Lake Worth, Fla., they discovered “numerous pieces of jewelry,” including “watches, charms, necklaces and loose diamonds, as well as two stolen firearms.” In the end, investigators recovered about $250,000 worth of stuff.
Johnson reportedly faces 142 charges in total, including weapons and ammunition possession by a convicted felon.
Priority Health of Michigan explains that, due to continuing online glitches, it is phoning everyone who signs up for ObamaCare online. Worse? A company spokesperson says it can only do so for one reason:
“We can only do that because there is a low volume right now. Certainly, if it picks up, it’ll be difficult to call each and every person.”
Moreover, Team Obama won’t even commit to having HealthCare.gov fixed by MARCH.
The fiasco continues.
Another day, another slipup by the Internal Revenue Service.
The incident involves the unwitting exposure of “tens of thousands” of Social Security numbers, according to a recent audit by the independent transparency and public-domain group Public.Resource.org. The identifying numbers were on the Internet for less than 24 hours after being discovered, but the damage was done. And unfortunately, the data-breach concerns some of the most sensitive types of transactions: Those made by nonprofit political groups known as 527s.
Every so often, 527s have to file tax forms to the IRS, which then get added to a database. The database itself is hardly a secret; the IRS has been sending updated records routinely to Public.Resource.org and other public-interest groups, and it’s a favorite among political reporters. But when the IRS told the group’s founder, Carl Malamud, to disregard the Form 990-Ts included in the agency’s January release, he took a closer look at the files in question.
After analyzing the breach, Malamud wrote a letter to the IRS pointing out 10 instances where a social security number was accidentally revealed on the government’s website – just a small sample of the larger breach.
Just the day before, Malamud had filed another letter to the agency describing a problem with the 990-Ts. Of over 3,000 tax returns contained in the January update, 319 contained sensitive data the agency should have scrubbed, Malamud wrote in the July 1 report that he filed to the inspector general’s office. In that mixup, some 2,319 social security numbers – perhaps more – were revealed.
To determine the extent of the exposure, we’ve analyzed our logs and have also analyzed the data received from the IRS. We maintain a privacy registry based on any clicks made on the privacy cover sheet on the top of each return. That registry indicates that 8 clicks were made from 4 unique IP addresses. However, none of those resulted in privacy complaints and could have been made by an automated process.
In addition, we examined our FTP and HTTP logs. We only maintain a 7-day window for HTTP logs and did not see any HTTP-based access that was not from a search engine crawler. For the FTP logs (which indicates bulk download activity), we did not see extensive activity for the January directory, but it was clear that at least one copy of the DVD ISO image (the image of the original DVD) had been transferred.
Public.Resource.org took down its copy of the compromised 990-Ts and replaced them with a clean version that the IRS had sent. But it was another day before “senior White House officials” the IRS removed the files from public view on their end, on July 3.
Calling the IRS’s efforts at data security “unprofessional and amateur,” Public.Resource.org is requesting that the IRS shut down the entire 527 database to prevent further lapses. In an email, Malamud told me that the IRS has, in fact, shut down the database – but that it should also reopen it as soon as possible in the interest of transparency.
In May, the IRS drew fire for singling out conservative political groups for greater scrutiny, leading to the resignation of the agency’s acting director and sparking a slew of congressional hearings.
I’ve called the IRS for comment, and I’ll update if I hear anything.
Update: An earlier version of this post didn’t make sufficiently clear the distinction between the 990-Ts and the 527 database, which are each the source of separate, if similar, problems. Both the tax documents and the database revealed social security numbers; the IRS sent Public.Resource.org a clean copy of the first but didn’t fix the second until Malamud contacted the agency.
A state legislator has apologized for anonymously attacking constituents who support Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and calling a woman an “industry troll.”
Rep. Jesse White, D-Allegheny, apologized Thursday for online attacks that included saying the woman was “dumber than a box of rocks.”
The woman who was verbally abused, Janice Gibbs, is a 64-year-old resident of McDonald, a small town about 18 miles southwest of Pittsburgh that has seen a boom in a natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, over the last five years.
“The part that hurts the most is this is my state representative,” Gibbs said. “This is not just me talking to a neighbor.”
A friend of Gibbs, Darlene Barni, said residents have “a binder full” of posts that appear to have been made by White. She said residents have been working for months to confirm suspicions that White was behind attacks that included calling women who support drilling “whores.” She said part of the shock in the community is that White, who’s 34, had so aggressively attacked older people, who are normally treated with respect in rural communities.
Gibbs said the attacks on supporters of gas drilling escalated. She said she used the online name Proud American and then attacks started coming from another person with the tag Prouder American.
“It wasn’t a normal debate. It was a bashing,” Gibbs said of the anonymous attacks on her. “It made me nervous. It kind of scared me.”
White, who recently voted for a House bill that would make online impersonation a crime in cases of harassment, said in a statement that the posts were “an error in judgment that I regret” and that he’ll seek to meet with Gibbs and a local man he acknowledged attacking anonymously. White said he didn’t use government resources while posting the comments to websites.
White also complained that the natural gas industry had made “numerous misleading and personal attacks against me in an attempt to distract people from the real issues” about gas drilling.
TV station KDKA first reported White’s link to the online attacks. KDKA also reported that the anti-drilling website GasRootsPA was registered to White but that the registration was changed an hour after a reporter began asking questions.
White’s spokesman declined to comment on specific allegations.
The Pennsylvania natural gas drilling boom began in White’s district, and over the last few years he’s been engaged in a fight with state agencies and some drilling companies over the proper extent of regulations and oversight.
The Marcellus Shale lies under parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. Fracking, which involves injecting large volumes of water with sand and hazardous chemicals underground to break apart rock, has made it possible to tap into deep reserves of oil and gas, but it also has raised concerns about air and water pollution.
White said that he won’t stop asking tough questions about gas drilling to ensure that “we’re developing our natural resources in a responsible way that generates an economic benefit to our community but also protects the people who live and work here.”
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, declined to comment on White’s behavior.
Seadon Henrich, a 21-year-old former animal shelter worker, was charged Thursday after he allegedly had sex with four dogs and then posted photos of the acts online.
According to police Henrich had sexual relations with four dogs at the Wake County Animal Shelter in Raleigh. The alleged sex acts reportedly took place over an 18 month period between May 2011 and November 2012.
Investigators say Henrich began working at the center as a volunteer, but was hired on as a full time employee. After leaving the agency for a brief period, Henrich reportedly returned as a volunteer who worked alone at the center during the night.
On at least four occasions, Henrich “willfully and feloniously did commit the abominable and detestable crime against nature with a dog” according to the arrest affidavit.
Henrich then allegedly took photos of himself molesting the dogs and uploaded the images to the Internet.
He was booked into the Wake County Jail and charged with four felony counts of crime against nature and three felony counts of disseminating obscenity. His bail has been set at $70,000.
A teenager accidentally shot himself in the head in front of horrified users on an internet video chat room.
Trevor George, 19, was posing holding a revolver to his head when he pulled the trigger, killing himself.
Tragically, most of the users in the chat room did not know Nebraska teen’s real name or where he lived, leaving them unable to call for help as he lay dying.
Following a three-month investigation, police in Bellevue have concluded that George’s death was accidental and not suicide.
Witnesses in the Tinychat video chat room told police the straight A university student had previously held a gun to his head as a joke but it had never been loaded.
Captain David Stukenholtz, of Bellevue Police, reportedly said: “He has a history of simulating this event.
“This time, for whatever reason, there was a bullet in the chamber of the gun that he did not get out of there.”
The horrific incident was eventually reported by a Florida man who knew George’s real identity after seeing people discussing the shocking incident the next morning.
One user called “Strawman” wrote: “I talked to him in his last seconds. I didn’t realise he was dying.”
The teenager went by the aliases of TZIF and Jesus online, according to 6 News. He lived with his parents in the Bellevue suburb of Omaha.
His parents were at home at the time of the incident but did not hear the gun fire and did not know their son was dead until police arrived to investigate the Florida man’s 911 call.
Police added that the Bellevue University student was not bullied or dared into shooting himself and did not appear to be depressed.
Sesame Street viewers have long speculated lovable roomates Bert and Ernie are gay, although its creators have never confirmed it.
Now, an online campaign is bidding to make the rumoured relationship official.
‘Let Bert & Ernie Get Married On Sesame Street’, a petition at change.org started by Illinois resident Lair Scott, has already gained over 1,100 signatures.
It comes weeks after New York became the sixth, and largest, state to legalise gay marriage on June 24.
Questions have been raised over Bert and Ernie’s sexuality since the muppet duo first appeared on the small screen in 1969.
And since they live on Sesame Street in New York City, it would now be legal for them to get married.
The petition letter reads: ‘In this horrific age of LGBT kids taking their own lives, they need to know that they ARE BEAUTIFUL and their lives are worth living. Aside from those that are committing suicide, the bullies that facilitate these tragedies need to learn that homophobia is NOT okay. They need to know that acceptance of their fellow human beings would indeed plant a seed of peace that will reverberate throughout the world.
‘We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful by allowing Bert & Ernie to marry. It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different. Let Sesame Street and PBS Kids be a big part in saving many worthy lives.’
In less than seven days time, 1,137 people had signed the petition at press time.
But having muppets marry on a children’s programme, albeit one known for its progressive statements, has sparked a heated debate.
Sesame Street has previously introduced a Latina Muppet and an HIV-positive Muppet.
But opponents of the new petition say that having Bert and Ernie suddenly marry after 40 years could confuse children. Others argue it’s too political a move for a pair of muppets who were created to be in a platonic relationship.
Petitions opposing the effort have even been launched since it’s gained steam. ‘Lair Scott: Drop the petition, to see Bert & Ernie getting married’ had gained a paltry three signatures in comparison at press time.
A spokesman for Sesame Workshop wrote in a statement: ‘(Bert and Ernie) were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.
‘Even though the Sesame Street Muppets… possess many human traits and characteristics, they have no sexual orientation.’
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BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com have reported throughout the morning about the emergence of new details in the Weinergate saga, after a young woman came forward with new information that tends to undermine severely the theory that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was the victim of a “prank” or a “hack.”
The following photograph, reminiscent of that posted by former Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) on Craigslist earlier this year, was allegedly sent to the young woman on Friday, May 20, 2011 via a Yahoo! email address that she claims was an alternate alias for Rep. Weiner:
The array of images behind the shirtless congressman include several apparently identifying portraits, including a photograph that appears to be of Rep. Weiner with former President Bill Clinton (at above right, behind the left shoulder).
A Google search for the email address Rep. Weiner allegedly used on that occasion yields an invisible Yahoo! profile with images that appear to be a repository for some of Rep. Weiner’s personal photographs.
The profile automatically provides what appear to be the last three uploaded photographs in thumbnail form. Below is a screen grab taken yesterday from that page:
On Wednesday, May 18, 2011, Rep. Weiner sent an email to the young woman from that same Yahoo! email address that included the now-infamous grey underwear photograph (attached to the email as “package.JPG”):
Later that same day, apparently after receiving several images from the young woman, Rep. Weiner allegedly sent another photograph to her from the same Yahoo! email address.
That photograph (attached to the email as “ready.JPG”) is extremely graphic, and leaves nothing to the imagination.
Earlier this morning, BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com revealed that a woman had come forward with what she claims are intimate photographs, chats, and emails that she allegedly exchanged with Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
The following photograph was allegedly sent to the young woman from AnthonyWeiner@aol.com via BlackBerry on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, under the subject, “Me and the pussys” (note cats in background):
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The paramedics who showed up to Nick Klonoski’s house on Highland Drive four months ago discovered the 29-year-old’s lifeless body, covered up to the neck by a blanket. It was his brother Jake, detectives learned, who’d found Nick lying in his bed less than an hour beforehand, a clear plastic bag over his head, and a plastic tube running from the bag to an orange metal helium tank. Next to the tank was a white box, decorated with a butterfly, the box the plastic bag and tube had arrived in the mail in, with a book titled Final Exit inside.
These materials were assembled and sold to Klonoski last June for $60 by a company that calls itself the Gladd Group, which is not really a group at all. It’s a woman from the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, California, named Sharlotte Hydorn. She is 91 years old.
Each of the kits Hydorn assembles by hand is a simple contraption designed for a single purpose: people kill themselves with it by encasing their head in a bag of helium, which is lethal in pure form. People like Klonoski, the son of a U.S. district judge and whose funeral was attended by more than a thousand people. The Gladd Group’s estimated annual sales are $98,000. That means Sharlotte Hydorn sells more than 1,600 suicide kits every year.
“I’m too busy to cash the bloody checks,” she told The Daily Beast. “I haven’t made a deposit in three months.”
You have probably never heard of the helium-hood kit. Neither had Oregon State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, until he read a newspaper story published last month about Klonoski’s death. The horrified legislator quickly floated a bill to make it a Class C felony to sell such a kit. The first to testify at his April 11 hearing was one of Klonoski’s four brothers, Zach. Zach told the state senate judiciary panel that “my brother Nick was a beautiful person… It would be a disservice to him to remember him only for the way he died.”
Zach didn’t discuss his brother’s reasons for killing himself, but Nick’s mother, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, told police he’d been running every day and had been in an upbeat mood, despite battling a severe cold over the past several weeks. Klonoski’s brothers told the Eugene Register-Guard that he’d battled bouts of pain and fatigue for years without a diagnosis, that he was depressed about the effect that had on his life, and that he was worried he’d never regain his normal health.
Klonoski wasn’t terminally ill, so he wouldn’t have qualified for lethal prescriptions provided to eligible Oregonians under the state’s Death With Dignity Act, one of only two states that allow assisted suicide. But he was able to buy Hydorn’s kit on the Internet, to rent a helium tank from nearby Party City for $175, and do the job himself.
This, an emotional Zach testified at the hearing earlier this month, should be illegal.
“In a society where so many people suffer from depression and other mental-health disorders,” Zach said, “this company has found their niche in the market by peddling death. This is analogous to putting a gun-vending machine next to a depression clinic. The Gladd company, so named as to avoid suspicion in case family members happen to sign for or come across the package, made $60 off my brother’s death.”
Though Hydorn admits she did sell Zach’s brother his implement of death, she makes no apology for it. She has a story of her own.
It was 30 years ago, Hydorn said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, that her husband, “a six-foot-four, wonderful, handsome, loving, intelligent man,” was dying of colon cancer. After several operations, the cancer had spread to his brain, and surgeons had cut a hole in his stomach, out of which came his excrement, into a bag.
“It was my duty, and I did it willingly, to empty that thing every three or four hours,” she said. “One time I ran out of bags and went all over town looking for a pharmacy that sold them. Even years after my husband died, I would wake up and say, ‘I’ve got to go get those bags.’ ”
No one should have to go through that, Hydorn said, to die a slow, painful death in a hospital bed. “Death should be with loved ones beside you, holding your hand.”
Not long after her husband died, Hydorn met a man named Derek Humphry, a longtime advocate of assisted suicide and founder of the Hemlock Society, which has worked to change laws prohibiting the practice around the country. It was Humphry, in 1992, who penned Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying, which effectively serves as a manual for how to kill yourself and which Humphry told The Register-Guard sold 500,000 copies in the first six weeks.
Hydorn includes the book in the helium kits she sells. She joined the Hemlock Society (which has since merged with another group and renamed itself Compassion & Choices) not long after she went to her first meeting. It was through this affiliation she learned of a man in Canada selling helium kits all over the world. The laws addressing the practice were stricter in that country, so Hydorn offered the man sanctuary in the U.S., she said. He moved to La Mesa, where he showed her how to make the kits.
“I thought it was wonderful,” said Hydorn.
At the outset, the Gladd Group was selling two kits a month, according to Hydorn. But word got out, and her orders steadily grew. She’s since sent helium hoods to Israel, Brazil, Germany, England, Scotland, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. “I had to look up Singapore on the atlas,” she said.
She claims her orders have skyrocketed since people found out about Klonoski’s death and how he did it, a notion that would surely make his surviving brothers’ blood curdle. But she stands by her product. “I had someone ask me once, ‘Aren’t you worried you’re going to hell?’” she said. And while she sympathizes with the Klonoski family, “They haven’t had the experience I went through 30 years ago. There’s no law I violated unless I sit by somebody who’s dying and say, ‘Use this and shut up.’”
It’s not entirely clear whether that’s accurate. The legal murkiness surrounding right-to-die laws varies from state to state. Prozanski, himself a former prosecutor, said he thinks it’s possible that selling the kits could violate Oregon law as it’s currently written, but that this bill would “draw a bright line.”
Two other states have actually put Hemlock Society members on trial for manslaughter, said the group’s president, Faye Girsh, in an interview with The Daily Beast. In Georgia, four volunteers have been charged with conspiracy and homicide for actively assisting a suicide, in one case allegedly holding down a person’s hands as they did the deed. And in Arizona, four volunteers were charged with conspiracy to commit manslaughter for assisting the suicide of a mentally-ill woman who was not terminally ill, which Girsh admits isn’t how things are supposed to happen.
“She did slip through the cracks,” she said. “We don’t ordinarily take a person like that.”
Nick Klonoski, Girsh said, wouldn’t have made it past the interview process had he called Hemlock for advice. “We would have tried to talk him out of it,” she said. “We don’t work with 29-year-old depressed kids.”
But that didn’t stop him from ordering a helium-hood kit on his own. And according to some recent research, the idea that the kits are mostly aimed at the terminally ill might stretch the truth. Researchers in North Carolina recently published a study reviewing the findings of the state’s chief medical examiner’s look at 10 deaths that resulted from helium asphyxiation between 2000 and 2008. The dead were “almost exclusively” non-Hispanic, white men who were relatively young. Six of the 10 suffered from some mental illness, and with three of those six, substance abuse was involved. None of the group were suffering from a terminal illness.
Oregon’s chief medical examiner said she’s seen a spike in the number of helium-related deaths in the last couple of years, which she speculates could be related to the newer additions of Final Exit adding helium as the suggested method of asphyxiating oneself.
“Most of the ones we see are young adult males, pretty tech-savvy, in their twenties and thirties,” said Dr. Karen Gunson. And just as the North Carolina study found, “None were terminally ill.”
At the senate hearing, Zach Klonoski admitted neither he nor his family will ever know whether Nick would have found another way to cause his own death without Hydorn’s kit. But he did recall a family friend who, in the throes of severe depression, once tried to kill himself by driving a car into a tree. The friend survived, Klonoski said, and five years later is alive and happily married with two children.
The problem with the kits, said Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner, is that they “grease the skids,” making it too easy to commit suicide in a single weak moment.
“They’re relying on people who are at a particularly low spot,” Gardner testified, “relying on basically an impulse purchase.”
As for Hydorn, she says that if she herself hits that low spot, she may one day use the helium hood, too.
“If I’m helpless in bed, I’m wearing diapers, I can’t speak, I think so,” she said. “Life can be hell right here on earth.”