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Trump Says the U.S. Did Not Pay North Korea $2 Million for Otto Warmbier

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  • President Donald Trump denied that the U.S. paid North Korea $2 million for Otto Warmbier’s medical care.
  • The comments came after reports emerged Thursday that the regime forced U.S. officials to sign a pledge to do so before returning the American student in 2017.

“No money was paid”

President Donald Trump on Friday denied that his administration paid any money as part of a deal to get North Korea to return American student Otto Warmbier.

“No money was paid to North Korea for Otto Warmbier, not two Million Dollars, not anything else,” Trump tweeted.

Outside the White House later in the day, Trump told reporters “We did not pay money for our great Otto.”

“I haven’t paid money for any hostage,” he said, adding that the Otto case is “very unusual.”

Earlier Report

The president’s comments came in response to a Washington Post report published Thursday. The report claimed that North Korea had issued a $2 million bill to the United States for the medical care costs of Warmbier, who was returned in a state of “unresponsive wakefulness” in June of 2017.

According to The Post, North Korean officials demanded that the U.S sign a pledge to pay the bill before they handed Warmbier over. Joseph Yun, a state department official who traveled to North Korea in 2017 to help retrieve Warmbier, reportedly signed the agreement at Trump’s direction.

The publication said the bill was sent to the U.S. Treasury Department and remained unpaid throughout 2017. Various news outlets like Fox, CNN, and others have also reported that their sources confirmed the existence of the bill.

However, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday, “We do not comment on hostage negotiations, which is why they have been so successful during this administration.”

Who is Otto Warmbier?

When Warmbier was 21-years-old, he was arrested in North Korea for taking a propaganda banner from a hotel in January of 2016. He was later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

The government eventually released him in June of 2017, but according to U.S., doctors, he was returned “with severe brain damage and in a nonresponsive state.” Warmbier died days after returning home.

Previous coverage of Otto Warmbier.

The Warmbier family has sued the Kim regime over their son’s death, winning a $500 million judgment in December. It seems very unlikely that North Korea will ever pay that money, however, the family said it was “thankful that the United States has a fair and open judicial system so that the world can see that the Kim regime is legally and morally responsible for Otto’s death.”

In February, President Trump faced backlash from politicians on both sides of the aisle for seemingly absolving North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un of any blame in Warmbier’s death.

Following a summit with Kim, Trump said at a press conference that it “just wasn’t to (Kim’s) advantage to let that happen.” He added, “He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”

However, the president later tweeted that his comments had been misinterpreted and said, “Of course I hold North Korea responsible.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Fox News) (CNN)  

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Post-Prom Party With Booze, Weed, and Stripper Poles Shut Down Before It Could Begin

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  • An after-prom party at an Airbnb in Florida that was stocked with weed, alcohol, and stripper poles was shut down by police before it even started.
  • Martin County police heard about the rager from a school security guard and decided to put a stop to it without any arrests.
  • Authorities said the alternative was to wait for the party to start and then arrest minors that attended, but because there would be underage drinking that option was unacceptable.

The Party

A massive post-prom party stocked with weed, alcohol, and stripper poles at an Airbnb in Florida was shut down by police hours before it was set to begin on April 12th.

Jello shots and alcohol (Martin County Sheriff’s Office – SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL)

Each student paid $80 which included a ride on one of the three party buses taking people to the house. The fee also gave access to party favors which like pre-rolled joints, jello shots, a variety of booze, and beer.

Confiscated pre-roll joints (Martin County Sheriff’s Office – SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL)

Bathrooms on the second and third floors of the house had been turned into makeshift bars that were stocked with alcohol. There was plastic covering the floors, stripper poles had been installed, balloons floated on top of the swimming pool, stereo speakers and strobe lights were set up, and garbage cans filled with ice were in the garage.

Alcohol stocked for the party (Martin County Sheriff’s Office – The Mercury News)

“My understanding was that they intended to have a Jello/bikini dancing contest,” said Lt. Ryan Grimsdale, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “They were almost on the buses,” said Lt. Grimsdale “But they never got on the buses and the buses never left Palm Beach County.”

Breaking It Up Before It Starts

Martin County authorities heard about the party from a school security guard at West Boca Community High School. When they contacted the property manager for the Airbnb, she was “in awe and rather shocked” by the party preparations. Since the party violated the rental agreement, it was voided.

According to the incident report, Thomas Levin, 19, rented the property and admitted to organizing the bash, but said that he had no clue who “brought all of the liquor and drug paraphernalia.”  Because the sheriff’s office could not put the alcohol or drugs in anyone’s possession there were no arrests made.

“In order for us to have made an arrest, we would have had to allow the party to take place, which places the kids in danger, which places the community in danger, and our mandate is public safety,” said Lt. Grimsdale according to WPEC.

However, a woman that lives down the road from where the party was to take place is conflicted about the way this all went down. “I was happy that it did not happen, but at the same time a little surprised that there were no arrests,” Natalia Martin told WPEC, “I wouldn’t trust that was enough of a deterrent for them not to do [it] somewhere else.”

See what others are saying: (Sun Sentinel) (WPEC) (CBS Miami)

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Hacienda HealthCare Rape Victim Likely Pregnant Once Before, Documents Claim

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  • A woman with severe intellectual disabilities gave birth in December after being raped at a Hacienda HeathCare facility.
  • Her family has now filed a notice of a $45 million claim against the state of Arizona for poorly monitoring the facility.
  • According to the claim, the staff disobeyed the family’s wishes to have a female-only care staff and missed at least 83 opportunities to diagnose the pregnancy.
  • The documents also claim that the woman was violated repeatedly and may have even been pregnant one other occasion prior to this incident.

Possible Lawsuit

According to a newly filed claim, the severely intellectually disabled woman who gave birth last year after being raped at a Hacienda HealthCare facility may have been pregnant at another point in the past.

The family of the woman has filed a claim against the state of Arizona for doing an “abysmal job” monitoring Hacienda HealthCare. The private facility houses patients that are paid for by the state’s Medicaid program and its cases are also managed by the state.

Background

On December 29th, the severely intellectually disabled woman gave birth, which shocked her family members and captured nationwide attention.

According to the woman’s medical records, she is nonverbal and has no functional use of her arms or legs. She had received care at the Hacienda HealthCare facility since she was three years old and was seemingly unaware of the fact that she was even pregnant.

After an investigation, one of the woman’s caregivers, licensed practical nurse Nathan Sutherland, was arrested and charged with sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult. He has since pleaded not guilty, but did voluntarily gave up his nursing license.

Multiple people, including the CEO of Hacienda HealthCare, stepped down after the news broke and the facility is now being overseen by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Check out our previous coverage.

New Claims

According to the notice of claim, the family had requested for the woman to have female-only care staff because of her vulnerability. However, male staff members were repeatedly allowed in her room unsupervised.

This request was apart of her ISP or Individualized Service Plan, which the facility is required to follow. Despite this, according to the claim, Sutherland provided care for the victim more than 1,000 times, including more than 800 times overnight.

The notice also says that the facility repeatedly failed to notice that she was pregnant and even denied her food in an effort to get the victim to lose weight. Because of this, the claim states that she gave birth, “without any pain medication and in a state of malnutrition.”

According to the claim, records indicate that staff at Hacienda missed at least 83 opportunities to diagnose the victim’s pregnancy. Those opportunities include:

  • Missed menstrual periods.
  • 10 visits to a physician during the victim’s third trimester.
  • Three instances where staff noted a large and hard mass in her abdomen.
  • 24 instances where staff noted her abdomen was “sticking-out.”
  • Noted weight gain at least eight times between September and December 2018.
  • 12 instances where staff noted that her feet and legs were swelling.

The claim also cites a note from the Maricopa County Medical Center, who examined the victim after she gave birth. That note states: “On inspection of patient’s vagina and introitus it is determined that this is a non-nulliparous event.” This means that the victim may have been pregnant prior to this incident.

The notice of claim seeks a $25 million settlement for the victim and $10 million each for her parents. If the family and the facility do not come to an agreement within 60 days, the lawyers will take the case to court.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (AZ Family) (CNN)

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Judge Allows Parents to Use Dead Son’s Sperm to Make a Grandchild

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  • A judge has allowed the parents of a deceased West Point cadet to use their son’s sperm for reproductive purposes.
  • The family claims their son long dreamed of having kids and says this will allow for his legacy and family name to be carried on.
  • The ruling has raised several ethical concerns over whether or not it is okay to posthumously reproduce without someone’s consent.

Judge Rules That Sperm Can Be Used

A New York Supreme Court justice ruled that the parents of a West Point cadet who died in March can retrieve his sperm and use it for reproductive purposes.

Peter Zhu was injured in a skiing accident in on February 23. Four days later, the 21-year-old was pronounced brain dead.

However, because Zhu was an organ donor his body was kept alive for a few more days. During this time, his parents, Yongmin and Monica Zhu received a court order that allowed for his sperm to be retrieved as doctors were removing his organs for donation. At this time, it was unclear if they would actually be able to use the sperm.  

Mr. and Mrs. Zhu claimed that it was their son’s wish to have children. They said that using his sperm would allow for the family name to be carried on and keep their son’s legacy alive.

In the judge’s ruling, there are several claims that Peter Zhu would often talk to his parents about “his dream of having several children, and the responsibility he felt to carry on his cultural and family legacy.”

On May 17, Justice John Colangelo granted his parents the right to use his sperm.

“At this time, the Court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter’s parents may ultimately put their son’s sperm, including its potential for procreative purposes,” he wrote in the ruling.

As of now, it is unclear what kind of plans Mr. and Mrs. Zhu have for using the sperm, and it looks like they might wait before using it.

Justice Colangelo added in his ruling that when and if they choose to use it, it would not tarnish their son’s legacy.

“Should his parents choose to do so in the future, it would not do violence to his memory,” he wrote.

Case Raises Questions of Ethics

This ruling raised questions many have been asking for a long time regarding the ethics of posthumous procreation.

The first posthumous retrieval of sperm was reported back in 1980, and the first birth as a result of the process was reported almost two decades later in 1999. Since these cases, many have questioned whether or not consent from the deceased should be required before using their genetics to reproduce.

In Zhu’s case specifically, his parents did not have his direct permission to use his sperm in the event of his death. However, Mr. and Mrs. Zhu cited a paper he wrote at school, where he said his dream in life was to get married, have kids, and pursue a career in the military.

Several reports have been written over the years on this topic with differing opinions as to whether or not this would be enough consent to carry out the process.

A peer-reviewed journal report published in the year 2000 called Human Reproduction noted that there are grey areas.

“Written consent or verbal consent documented by a health care provider is not an absolute requirement, although such documentation would be desirable,” the report concluded.

The report did expand upon its point and acknowledged that while family members might have conflicts of interest when it comes to using the sperm, there are still cases when it could be ethical.

“It is possible that in some cases a reasonable inference can be made if the patient has previously discussed these matters with family members,” the report continued.

However, a 2018 ethics report from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine emphasized a stronger need for consent.

“Posthumous gamete (sperm or oocyte) retrieval or use for reproductive purposes is ethically justifiable if written documentation from the deceased authorizing the procedure is available,” their report says.

But it goes on to make one exception, saying “In the absence of written documentation from the decedent, programs open to considering requests for posthumous use of embryos or gametes should only do so when such requests are initiated by the surviving spouse or partner.”

In most cases where someone asks to use a sperm or embryo posthumously, the request is usually coming from a surviving spouse. However, Zhu’s case is not the first involving a request from parents.

In 2007, a court in Iowa granted a request by parents to retrieve their son’s sperm so that they could donate it to their son’s fiance.

A judge in Texas granted a mother the right to have her son’s sperm retrieved when he died at the age of 21 in 2009. She intended to hire a surrogate to carry his child.

Next Steps for the Zhu Family

Now that a judge has made a ruling, there are several steps for Mr. and Mrs. Zhu to take that could be complicated.

According to the New York Times, finding a surrogate willing to carry the baby may not be easy. The same goes for finding a fertility clinic willing to give the sperm to the surrogate so the baby can be raised by its grandparents.

The Times also reported that some hospitals have restrictions on how long they are willing to hold the sperm of a deceased person.

But Westchester Medical Center, which is in the county the ruling was given in, gave a statement to the Washington Post about the situation.

“From time to time, like most hospitals, Westchester Medical Center is presented with complex legal and ethical situations where guidance from the court is appropriate and appreciated,” they said before adding that they are “grateful the family sought a court order during such a difficult time.”

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (TIME) (Washington Post)

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