NEWS ARTICLES

Michigan's Ban Fracking Movement Recharges Efforts

Eye-opening Information for Michigan Residents

WENDY CLEM

Wendy Clem / Write For You

Fracking is already in Michigan, although a ballot proposal to ban it is gathering support from citizens statewide. The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan has campaigned for two years, explaining fracking and resulting pollution—as well as our unique situation governed by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals.

Info from the DEQ alone is eye-opening. Since the 1930s, the DEQ is legally required to “foster the industry along in the most favorable conditions to maximize oil and gas production.”

“That means,” says Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan campaign director LuAnne Kozma, “that Michigan’s actions MUST be construed in favor of the oil and gas industry, whether or not it’s detrimental to humans, animal populations and the environment.

"Otherwise, Michigan can end up in court. Our law is fashioned after similar dictate in Texas and fails to consider safety or health issues," adds Kozma, emphasizing the need to address such flaws.

And although coal continues to be mined as an alternative resource, she says it is primarily shipped overseas.

Kozma points to global climate damage as a primary culprit, made worse by the infrastructure surrounding energy industries.

"Fracking victims are also prevented from warning others; families forced from their homes and farms due to fracking’s pollutions and damage, are being silenced," she says.

”There are non-disclosure clauses they are bound to, following any legal actions or insurance settlements,” says Kozma, a Charlevoix resident, environmental law expert and advocate. “So, even if the families win, they aren’t allowed to talk about it.”

The committee is currently gathering volunteers, arranging paid workers and raising funds to reach $500,000 by next April to re-launch petitions in preparation for Michigan’s 2016 elections. Members are also arranging educational events with national experts, along with the showing of “Gasland 2,” a sobering fracking film.

“We are going for the jugular here, since only a ban through a ballot initiative can protect us by creating law,” said Kozma, who references MCL 324.615 in the process. “Regulations don’t work; they are just variations of permission to pollute, including dumping fracking wastes from other states here.”

To-date, 57 Michigan fracking well permits have been granted, with 10 currently in production. Just one well using 35 million gallons of water also uses 175,000 gallons of toxic chemicals—referred to in the industry as “trade secrets”—to release the underground gas. If the ban is passed, fracking will cease.

For more information, a list of upcoming events or to get involved, visit their website at:LetsBanFracking.org.

Wendy Clem is a Detroit-area writer in all facets of print and online, specializing in historical books--covering stories from haunted sanitariums and political intrigue to auto and health trends.

This article appeared in the July, 2014 issue of the East Michigan Natural Awakenings Magazine.

Facing deportation, some face religious persecution — and possible death — if forced to return to Iraq

By Wendy Clem

Wendy Clem / Write For You

Ghandi Shaba reflects on his pending deportation during a work break.

Ghandi Shaba is a 40-year-old Chaldean day-laborer who is in hiding and lives hand-to-mouth in the greater-Detroit area, barely earning enough to pay for his meager room. He lives alone, struggling daily as a frightened Catholic caught in the government’s net cast to deport more than 1,400 potential Iraqi nationals.

He’s here legally. His family arrived in October 1982 after waiting to correctly enter America through European stopgaps. Having left Iraq when he was 3, they were granted refugee asylum due to Iraq’s persecution of Christians.

“I only know American life; I have always identified as American,” says Shaba, who finally landed on U.S. soil at the age of 5, greeted by his grandmother who legally preceded him here. “I don’t remember Iraq and never studied Arabic. All my family is here, and all but one of my family are U.S. citizens. I don’t know how I would survive in Iraq — I couldn’t even communicate there — and even if I did, it wouldn’t be for long. I would be killed. Christians are a minority there.”

With less than one month left to determine who will be deported, those targeted are scrambling to prepare their cases for court review. That legal hiatus was instituted in June by Detroit’s U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, who provided a 90-day extension from immediate arrest and deportation by I.C.E., the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of Homeland Security.

According to Migration Policy Institute, from October 2016 through April 2017, 42,414 refugees were admitted to the U.S., nearing the recently reformed ceiling of 50,000. President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States,” reduces the original permissions for 110,000, and suspends refugee resettlement for 120 days to enhance vetting. It also enjoins state and local jurisdictions in that process, although the order’s contents have all been challenged in court.

However, few Americans seem to understand that deporting the more than 1,400 Iraqis is not centered on them being Muslim, terrorists, or here illegally. In fact, it also targets Christians who entered legally — people who have been our neighbors for decades. Many own businesses, are well-established in communities, and were raised speaking only English and Aramaic, the Chaldean dialect.

They are people whose otherwise normal worlds have been turned upside down by ghosts from their pasts.

“Each defendant must ask that his case be re-opened and considered, and some of these potential deportees have minor crimes on their records,” says legal consultant Rima Blanco, who is representing Shaba and others. “But, they were granted refugee asylum here due to torture in Iraq, a circumstance that has been ongoing for decades. To endanger them by reversing that situation is unconscionable.”

Ghandi Shaba was also a normal American kid. At the age of 15, he rebelled. He smoked pot. He ended up in the legal system, including an incident involving possession of stolen cell phones. Consequently, he served time in a boot camp and county jail. He missed graduation with his class from Hazel Park High School, and generally fared worse than the American teens with whom he chummed.

In the process of making such mistakes, it cost Shaba his green card and a chance at citizenship. However, the judge who oversaw his case reassured him: “You don’t need to worry about not having a card; you will be buried in American soil.”

But today, he justifiably fears being buried — first by the U.S. legal system, and then by Muslim Iraqis. Losing that card put a target on him, both here and in Iraq, where Blanco says Christians only emerge to grocery shop, donning Muslim outerwear to do so. People there are also required to wear I.D. containing their name and religion as well as the names and religion of their parents and grandparents.

That, Shaba says, could cost him his life.

“We live in fear for Ghandi,” says his sister, Ghiyda Salman. “Yes, he was guilty of bad judgment as a young teen and he hung with the wrong crowd. But every day now he’s scared about what will happen and when. He spends much of his time praying.”

U.S. laws protecting legal immigrants and their children have been in flux, particularly in the past two decades. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 might have played a key role in securing Shaba’s citizenship, but its timing was off. Signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton, H.R. 2883 amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permitting foreign-born children (including adoptees) to automatically acquire citizenship after meeting certain requirements.

Scurrying to help as many Chaldeans as possible by their deadlines, Blanco says the status of potential deportees remains unknown. “Each will be judged on a case-by-case basis,” he says.

But Shaba says he would do anything to be able to stay here.

“I feel as if I have paid my dues through the years. My mistakes cost me everything; I didn’t finish my education or become a citizen, and my work history has included sporadic jobs, causing my credit history to be bad. But, I have tried to make up for my errors and become the best citizen ever,” he says. “And, if America wants me to serve in the Army, I would go to war to defend this country. I just want to stay here. To live, I need to stay here. I will do whatever is asked of me to do that.”

This was first published in October, 2017 in The Detroit Metro Times newspaper and online. It can also be found at Linkedin.

“Lifelines for Cancer Survival” guides patients to surefire answers

book

It was while Mark Roby was lying in a Michigan chemo facility and receiving 10 million units of Interferon that his doctor leaned in to whisper that the life-saving treatment coursing through his veins wasn't going to work. And neither would the alternatives Avastin, thalidomide or any clinical drug trials, the oncologist opined.

“There aren't any answers for you. Why can't you accept the inevitable? You'll be gone in the next three to four months.”

Roby, now 60, holds to that moment as betrayal of a caregiver entrusted for hope and a cure. That seminal turning point taught him that focused, positive and determined people can survive cancer; 12 years later, it is also the crux of the Birmingham resident's mission to save the lives of others.

To that end, the career physician's assistant wrote his comprehensive guide, “Lifelines for Cancer Survival.” It guides cancer patients to shore up a support network, determine potential treatment and medication, and embellish health through overall life improvements. It maps creating a successful personalized molecular profile, anticancer nutrition, integrative medicines and chemosensitivity assays.

Not the average self-help guide, “Lifelines” is highly readable and cohesive in its own molecular structure. It features Key Points summations for each chapter, charts with dietary data, and lists of online support groups and reference materials. It is quite possibly the most important tool any patient can own, particularly for sufferers of rare or aggressive cancers. It most assuredly empowers each reader and will save lives.

Roby outlines his own battle with rare, aggressive liver cancer, while directing readers to see cancer as a surmountable life challenge. The book's narrative was assisted by other patients, oncologists and cancer experts, all of whom refined his advice through straight-forward, helpful input. Much is cutting-edge information for a disease that will see an estimated 1,658,370 new cases diagnosed this year and kill 589,430 people in the U.S. alone. That's 1,600 dead adults and children daily, according to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts & Figures for 2014.

“For seven years, people provided me their stories, and prestigious medical institutions shared key, how-to details,” Roby said. “The data came from Cleveland Clinic, Mount Sinai and Columbia Presbyterian hospitals in New York, Northwestern in Chicago, the Henry Ford and Beaumont Systems in Detroit, the American Cancer Society, and the international network of Attitudinal Healing's 100 centers, among others.”

Each group now benefits from a portion of the book's proceeds, says Roby, whose forward is written by renowned Stanford University physician Gerald Jampolsky MD, author of “Love Is Letting Go of Fear” and “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.” Roby emphasizes need for integrative medicine, personalized treatment, and the importance of discarded tumors with their genetic clues. Such individual tools – retained by pathologists who initially diagnosed them – can continue to provide answers for the patient and related family. Most patients don't know that.

That's because tumor feedback reveals genetic markers and other data; answers for devising a safer, more thorough treatment program with fewer potential side effects; and better remission results. When cancer is extracted from tumors and injected into immune-compromised lab animals, the procedure (called TumorGrafts) provides answers and progress in the patient's cure overall. Various types of chemo – or other treatments – can then be tried on the animals and studied, with a definitive plan devised in what Roby calls a Triad of Survival. As a triple-pronged plan, The Triad conserves valuable time if one method fails to cure; in that instance, a second or third treatment can be plugged into action immediately.

Roby quotes Dr. Stan Kaye, of England's the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, sharing the latter's insights into the importance of personalized attention. “In the next few years, there's going to be an increasing understanding that you don't treat all people with a particular type of cancer the same way, and that knowledge is being turned into new treatments, often given as tablets that make people's tumors shrink.”

Such knowledge is conveyed in the book, along with feedback from the Centre for Molecular Biology and Cancer Research's UK initiative also in England, emphasizing “stratified medicine.” Samples are taken of patients' tissue through new molecular techniques, zeroing in on more exact diagnoses/treatments, eliminating wasting valuable time. That's because, says Roby, “Your cancer is as unique as your fingerprint. The secret to survival lies in learning as much as you can about your tumor; it can mean the difference between life and death.”

Numerous studies support that patients should weigh the following in establishing an individual plan: Nutritional deficits, cachexia (bodily weakness/“wasting” syndrome), immune deficiency, fatigue and any vitamin deficiencies as well as inflammation and angiogenesis (the blood-vessel growth within tumors). With such tools, we recognize biomarkers, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 – so genetically devastating from generation to generation and wreaking havoc on entire families. Many stricken patients take preventive measures by removing body parts long before the disease even develops.

Roby, who calls cancer a watershed moment, advocates for the following “wake-up” opportunities:

  • The ability for patients/clinicians to make more informed medical decisions
  • The higher probability of desired outcomes from better-targeted therapies
  • The reduced probability of negative side effects
  • Focus on disease prevention and prediction instead of reaction
  • Earlier disease intervention
  • Ultimately, reduced healthcare costs

“Many don't know we have a choice when we are in the fire,” he said. “We also don't realize how powerful are our thoughts, images and words, and the impact they have on our health and well-bring.”

Roby, who also co-founded the metro-Detroit location of Gerald Jampolsky's Attitudinal Healing Health Center, defines what so many struggling cancer patients need: positive influences.

The book and accompanying philosophy are incentive to be personally followed closely. And as a newly-diagnosed cancer patient, I can't think of a more fortuitous time to do so; I have a lot depending on it.

First published in November 2015 in the Detroit City Buzz column at Examiner.com, this article earned more than 1,350 “likes,” and is still accessible at LinkedIn.

Nuremberg Trial memories from Detroit by former German court reporter 

nuremberg

As World War II fades into our collective memories, most of its more fascinating tales are glossed over in favor of providing basic data for history books. Consequently, the watering down of riveting tales dilutes the fear, adventure and sheer emotion connected to such critical times for humanity.

But, if Hertha “Hedy” Sheridan’s recent appearance at Eastpointe’s Michigan Military Technical and Historical Museum is any indicator, people are still interested in — and passionate about — one of war’s most grim times. Her role in that era is an intriguing one: She served as a court reporter in Nuremberg, Germany during the post-WWII Nazi War-Crimes Trials.

Although she failed to mention it and recount its connection to genocide for many years after emigrating to the U.S., it affects her more now, she says.

“I saw too much,” she said, shaking her head.

Now 85 and a Fraser resident, Sheridan is a reluctant public figure. Although the diminutive German grandmother is almost shy to share details of the role she played in history, she agreed to speak at the urging of American friends and fellow German members of Utica’s Carpathia Club.

At the well-attended event, her personal stories and those of other audience members kept attendees’ rapt attention.

“The trials began in 1945, and I was 17 and looking for my first job,” she said. “My friend couldn’t get in to work there as her father was high up in the Nazi party, but she told me about it, so I went down there and they interviewed me.”

Sheridan was hired, although her position during war time had been precarious, at best — largely due to her dad’s dislike of Hitler. As a stove-maker by profession, her father was failing to receive deserved promotions for not joining the Nazi Party, and his refusal to let her join the Hitler Youth Movement angered authorities.

A subsequent threatening visit from the SS insisted she join or the family would endure greater hardship. Soon thereafter, her father disappeared upon being “drafted” into Germany’s armed forces. His deployment to France and Greece resulted in capture by the Allies, and the family ceased hearing from him, says Sheridan.

Although he was treated well while a prisoner, the family assumed he was dead until he walked through the door of their home in 1946.

“If Hitler had won the war, my family would’ve had to go (to the concentration camp),” she said. Her boss later corroborated that probability through documentation he discovered on her family.

Sheridan staunchly maintains that many Germans were also imprisoned in the camps, a little known fact. And, although she and her neighbors only became aware of the camps’ existence and deeds much later, they knew nothing of them during the war.

“You didn’t dare ask any questions,” said Sheridan. “People just disappeared.”

Just as her one neighbor did after “shooting off his mouth” at a local beer hall. Later, his family received word he’d died of pneumonia at Dachau, although everyone suspected he’d been gassed.

Other German audience members agreed with Sheridan’s overview, sharing additional tales of “disappearances” throughout Nuremberg. In schoolrooms, for example, first Jewish students were moved apart from other students to desks that eventually ended up in the hallway before disappearing altogether; the special-education students also disappeared, then relatives, and teachers — especially those who were outspoken. It created ongoing anxiety.

“That fear is still with you; that fear is still in your blood,” said one audience member.

Sheridan was even taken to task for greeting people with “good morning.” Authority figures corrected her, ordering her to instead say, “Heil, Hitler.”

Much later, when truth emerged about the camps’ existence, she and her neighbors found out about the associated atrocities connected there, she says. “Like the medical experiments — bacteria inserted in open cuts on people’s legs, heart experiments on Jewish people and so on.”

At the war’s conclusion, the Three Big Powers (United States, Russia and Britain) unanimously had agreed to try Nazi leaders who were responsible for war crimes. After sparring about the proper location, The Palace of Justice in Nuremberg was chosen to conduct 218 trial days, introducing 360 testimonies and the most infamous of the era’s Germans. The prosecutor, Robert Jackson, was “very competent,” in Sheridan’s estimation.

During the post-war era, although she’d prepared to work in the insurance industry, Sheridan became part of the war-crimes trials’ secretarial pool. Later, she moved up in the ranks to the interrogation branch of the more than 1,000 personnel who were active in the judicial procedures. From November, 1945 until October, 1946 the International Military Tribunal oversaw trials of 24 major war criminals in addition to six German organizations: the Gestapo, SS (party police) and SD (security police), Hitler’s Cabinet, the SA and German Army’s General Staff/High Command. The main trials started in 1946, with the lesser ones held later.

Sheridan worked with four attorneys, and the Americans provided her with ample opportunity to learn English. She traveled to other cities, often toiling in the car enroute, and recorded what the defendants had to say. Those trips included visits to cities near the death camps, and listening to witnesses who testified, spelling out the horrific details of the medical experiments performed in the camps.

“Most defendants said, ‘We didn’t do anything,’ and were arrogant,” she said. “Hermann Goering was very arrogant and he’d harass other prisoners so much, he’d have to end up eating in his cell alone. No one could stand him.”

Goering/Goring, a highly-decorated WWI soldier who created WWII’s Secret Police, later developed it into the Gestapo. He was very intimidating, says Sheridan, although she was not personally fearful; a guard and her boss were present at all times. Goering was very attentive when in the courtroom, says Sheridan, but he didn’t cooperate in the proceedings, like most of the other generals.

Goering was found guilty on all four counts he was tried on and sentenced to death. On the night before his execution, however, he committed suicide by ingesting cyanide through an as-yet unexplained ability to procure poison while detained. Several of the guilty also committed suicide while imprisoned.

Other German players in WWII war crimes included Rudolph Hess, who was reputed to be crazy. Sheridan attests to his mental illness, adding, “Even his doctor thought he was a hypochondriac.”

No women were put on trial, although the wives of the higher-ups were separated from them and under considerable scrutiny.

Sheridan also preferred not to have to traverse the work hallways on days when the Russian guards were on duty, she says. The Americans, French and British guards were polite and gentlemanly, but the Russians made passes at her, particularly when they passed in the close quarters of the hallways.

She also babysat the children of American generals, frequently interacting with the American military stationed in and around Nuremberg. There was a cost to her, however. When she returned home with stories of her days and tales of the trials, she shared some with her mother, who then told others.

“The neighbors wanted me to move out,” Sheridan said. “They didn’t believe the things I said; they were in total denial.”

She worked overtime during much of her job, receiving a much-appreciated dinner during the overtime, in an area ravaged by food shortages. Earning either money or cigarettes for those extra hours, she used the latter to barter for the few meager goods in town. Schools helped feed hungry children, and Sheridan ate at the American motor pool — formerly the German one — where her mom worked.

“Hitler made all women work unless they had small children to care for,” she said, adding that her mom waited tables. “The motor pool is where I had my first taste of fruit cocktail.”

Sheridan, who remembers air raids and bombings during childhood, said many Nazi rallies were held in the surrounding zeppelin fields, where the Third Reich was active. Residents were bussed there for promotional purposes and Nazi events, holding flags and saluting with, “Heil, Hitler!”

“Nuremberg was the main route to other European cities; it had four towers from Medieval times, one at each of the corners of the city,” Sheridan said. “We used those towers as bomb shelters, due to their thick walls; we had so very little time to get to shelters after the air raids. Often, bombs dropped right in front of those towers and smoke was so thick, no one could see.”

Her mother hid her in coal bins and through other methods, especially when the Americans were around — or the Moroccans rode their bikes into town. Soon, however, German residents realized they’d been lied to about Nazi enemies and befriended the Allies. One of the stranger tales perpetrated by the Germans includes the stories they fed their people about black soldiers.

“There was a rumor that black soldiers loved sugar,” said Sheridan. “So when they came to town, everyone hid their sugar.”

In short time, the overview of Americans changed, and during post-war many helped feed the Germans. Numerous military wives helped with orphanages and other institutions, bringing in food from the U.S., the Netherlands and Denmark.

“Of course, they weren’t mean; they were really very friendly,” said Sheridan.

Afterward, the German people were blamed for losing the war, says Sheridan. Blame had been plentiful from Hitler and others in top Nazi leadership.

Still, the allure of the Allies was so strong that Sheridan fell in love with one — a young soldier she met in a Munich souvenir shop. By 1947, Sheridan deemed things in Germany “very boring” and married her American the following year. They moved to Cleveland, then Detroit, where her husband studied languages at Wayne State University on the GI Bill and they raised two children.

Today, Sheridan is an American citizen, a role she is quick to praise.

“I never regretted coming over and I’m glad I’m an American,” she said. “I’m lucky — and I’m happy.”

For more information on the museum, contact http://www.mimths.org/

First published in November 2014 in the Detroit City Buzz column at Examiner.com; currently available at Linkedin.