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Last month, an ABC News-Washington Post poll found 54% of women have been sexually harassed.

68% of those harassed said the harassment occurred at work, and a quarter of these women said their sexual harasser was a man who had influence over their career. 95% of those subjected to sexual harassment said they did not report the incident. In response to the poll, Forbes magazine called workplace sexual harassment a “full blown epidemic.”

Despite many companies touting human resources-developed policies about no tolerance workplaces and so-called encouragement to bring these situations forward, many women are fearful. Fearful of losing their job, becoming an outcast among peers, or being retaliated against by superiors. The list of worries could go on and on.  Maybe this explains why a sexual predator such as Harvey Weinstein was able to intimidate and terrorize even the most in-demand, bankable actresses in Hollywood since at least the 1980s. After all, even as children we’re taught that ‘no one likes a tattletale.’ Now that women are beginning to blow the lid off the frighteningly common occurrences of workplace sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape, we’re beginning to see that just maybe we women have created a big enough firestorm to finally convince corporate America that it’s time to make workplaces safe from sexual harassment and to bring harassers to justice.

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This past Tuesday night in Chicago, blogger and author Glennon Doyle (formerly Glennon Doyle Melton) joined forces with a panel of other equally insightful and inspiring women to talk about finding your own self worth and harnessing that power to live your best life. We were lucky enough to be in the audience and hear the many roles these women have taken on in their lives: daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, career women, and caregivers. In her New York Times bestselling book Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle wrote “My courage will come from knowing I can handle whatever I encounter there — because I was designed by my creator to not only survive pain and love but also to become whole inside it. I was born to do this. I am a Warrior.”

Women ARE warriors. For many women, our role as a nurturer and caregiver spans the full cycle of life, from the births of our children all the way to caring for our aging parents. Caring for another person is unlike any other job in the world. The weight of responsibility, the emotional highs and lows, the physical stress and exhaustion, and the strain on other relationships that being a caregiver imposes on a woman is demanding and isolating. Adding in maintaining a marriage or partnership, looking after our own health, and holding down a job while attempting to care for another human life, whether infant or elder, is more than just a feat. It’s superhuman.


Women as Caregivers for Aging Parents

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Last week, the mother of a non-verbal 7 year old boy with autism made public a sickening incident that happened while her son was in his first grade class at Thomas A. Hendricks Elementary Community Academy on Chicago’s south side. Holley Cornwell-Vaca received a call from the school’s principal that a substitute teacher’s aide had hit her son, Paulie, after the boy kicked the aide, but the principal wouldn’t say exactly when or where the incident took place. She was told that two aides were suspended because of the altercation, but she says she wasn’t told by the principal, but instead by the media. Ms. Cornwell-Vaca said the principal would only tell her that the incident had transpired and that it was being investigated. She told WGN that she would not allow her son to return to the school.

Teacher’s aides, also called paraprofessionals, can have a wide range of duties that include working individually with students who require more one-on-one support and remediation and supporting the teacher in all aspects of classroom teaching, student discipline, class preparation and even grading. Under no circumstances are teachers, classroom aides, or other paraprofessionals allowed to use physical abuse as a means of discipline or restraint.  According to the Illinois State Board of Education, paraprofessionals are required to be at least 19 years old and have either an Associate’s Degree, 60 semester hours of coursework (unspecified), a GED plus a score of 460 or higher on the ETS ParaPro test, or a GED with a score of 4 on both the ACT Work Keys Applied Mathematics test and the ACT Reading for Information test. They must also work under the supervision of a certified teacher. While many work with students with special needs, they are not certified as special needs educators, nor are they required to undergo specialized training to handle and respond to the specific needs of students with certain cognitive, behavioral, social or emotional conditions and diagnoses.

If you have a loved one that you suspect has been physically mistreated while a student at any educational institution, you should take action. Our schools are meant to be a safe environment where teaching and learning are conducted with mutual respect between students, teachers and other staff. Parents and guardians are an integral part of ensuring that our children’s education is a positive experience, and information should never be withheld by teachers and administrators, especially when a child is unable to personally communicate that something has happened.

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A St. Louis-based class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over claims their talc powders (officially called Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower) cause ovarian cancer has continuously revealed evidence that the company has been aware for years of the dangers of using the product. Late last month, a Johnson & Johnson training memo become public that revealed that the company knew that asbestos was present in their talc and told the medical community and employees that asbestos “has never been found and it never will.” This is a striking revelation, considering another document last month contained a 1974 recommendation from the Director of Research and Development at a Johnson & Johnson talc mine in Vermont that the company consider using citric acid to eliminate or lessen the presence of asbestos in the talc mined from the site. In the memo, the employee strongly recommended the use of citric acid  “to provide protection against what are currently considered to be materials presenting a severe health hazard and are potentially present in all talc ores in use at this time.” Both documents were presented during an April deposition of Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Medical Officer, Joanne Waldstreicher.

A 1973 Johnson & Johnson report also said that they were working with federal officials at their Virginia mine to ensure that their talc was asbestos-free, because samples revealed trace amounts of asbestos fibers.

As part of the lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson has submitted records of asbestos testing beginning in 1972. According to those records, no asbestos was ever found in their baby powder and a spokesperson says that their products have been tested by the FDA and independent researchers frequently over the years.

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It’s a misperception that just won’t go away: Today’s court system is bogged down by frivolous civil lawsuits. The truth is that more than 60% of lawsuits today are businesses suing other businesses or civilians and that civil lawsuits in Illinois fell 43% between 2010-2015. Civil lawsuits are those brought by an individual against another individual or business. This means the number of Americans suing anyone for being wronged is falling dramatically.

Exaggerations and Outright Lies

If you listen to the propaganda machine out there, you’d hear that civil lawsuits are at fault for raising our insurance premiums, driving doctors out of of the profession, and preventing our country from coming up with a reasonably-priced national insurance program that benefits most. You’d likely also hear that civilians and workers are costing businesses millions each year for injury and workers’ comp lawsuits, and that Americans in general have gone lawsuit crazy.

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After less than a day of deliberation, a Chicago jury awarded Tierney Darden $148 million for a shelter collapse outside O’Hare Airport that ripped her spinal cord in half, leaving her permanently paralyzed from the waist down and in constant pain.

In August 2015, Tierney, her mother, and sister had just returned to Chicago after traveling to Minneapolis to pick out a wedding dress for her sister. The three were waiting outside O’Hare under one of several pedestrian shelters found at the airport. A storm caused the shelter to suddenly collapse, trapping Tierney, now 26. After the accident, CBS 2 investigators found corroded parts and missing bolts and screws in not only the shelter that collapsed, but in nearly all others. The discovery and exposure forced O’Hare to remove all pedestrian shelters.

Tierney, a former dancer at Truman College, told CBS 2 of the accident “I hate it. I hate that I have to wake up every day and see it.”

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Those who ride in a Ford Explorer as a passenger or a driver are putting themselves at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite nearly 2,100 complaints to Ford and another 791 to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford has yet to issue a recall of 1.33 million 2011-2017 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.

“Please help us. I have three kids and no other vehicle”

The Ford Explorer Interceptor is the most widely used police vehicle in this country, causing concern over the potential consequences police officers may suffer while operating the car. Among the complaints are a strong smell similar to burning hair that causes nausea, vomiting, headaches, light headedness, and even fainting. In July, a Massachusetts police office became disoriented and rear ended another car. He and the interior of his Ford Explorer Interceptor both tested positive for carbon monoxide. In an attempt to smooth over issues with police departments and taxpayers, Ford has sent investigators out to examine Explorer Interceptors and fix them at no cost to police departments. According to the engineer of the Explorer, post-production changes to the vehicle that involve drilling holes and other entryways for lights, sirens and electronic equipment are allowing carbon monoxide to leak into the car’s interior. Following that theory, the engineer says that civilians don’t have any reason to worry.

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An 18 year old was killed last night after a passenger car on a ride broke off at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. Seven others are injured, 3 of whom are said to be in critical condition and have been sent to local hospitals, including the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Dr. David Evans, medical director at Ohio State, told news outlets that viewing footage of the accident was helpful because it showed those treating the victims that the injuries came from an accident similar to that of a high speed vehicle crash.

The ride, called the Fire Ball, is a swinging pendulum that lifts cars filled with riders into the air before swinging back to the center and back up in the air in the opposite direction. According to eyewitnesses, an entire car suddenly snapped off while at its highest point in the air and hurtled passengers to the cement below.

According to the lead inspector, the ride was inspected ‘about 3 or 4 times’ in the span of 2 days and showed no problems. The ride was also said to have been inspected yesterday, just hours before the fatal malfunction.

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Court proceedings in an Australian class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ethicon, have revealed that the company tried to squash a report that would’ve revealed more testing was needed to ensure the efficacy and safety of its pelvic mesh devices. The report also stated that Ethicon pelvic mesh should not be used in patients until a randomized, controlled study was conducted. Pelvic mesh is used to support parts of the female anatomy that can shift from pregnancy, childbirth, or other conditions and requires implantation by a skilled surgeon. Members of the class action lawsuit have suffered injuries including intense pain, reduced sex lives, and loss of livelihood.

An attorney for the women has said that Ethicon received the report by French health authorities in 2007, two years after the devices were already in use throughout Australia.  Despite the report, the company put forth a marketing campaign that focused on the low price point and ease of implantation, while also going to great lengths to cover up the report from becoming public. Attorneys for the women have argued that implantation of pelvic mesh requires an advanced surgical technique, well beyond the skill level of a newer or inexperienced surgeon.

Earlier this month, the court heard minutes from an Ethicon meeting in which executives said the release of the French report “could have a major impact on our business if made public” and that efforts should be made to prevent it from becoming public. Court proceedings also discussed Ethicon’s involvement in a 2011 New England Journal of Medicine study and article touting the benefits and safety of their pelvic mesh devices. In 2013, the journal had to print an apology to its readers for misleading them on Ethicon’s involvement in the study and the article. Ethicon had essentially created the study, including the development of the study protocol, and had paid the authors of the article for their time. The company was also able to review the article draft before it was submitted and made numerous and significant changes.

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Cedric Kyle, more commonly known as Cedric the Entertainer, is suing Southern California Gas Company (SoCal) for a leak in Aliso Canyon that has caused a wide range of physical ailments for him and his family. The lawsuit contends that Cedric the Entertainer and his family have suffered from unexplained rashes, vertigo, bloody noses and various other ailments. The lawsuit also blames the leak for significantly lowering the property value on the comedian’s home.

The Aliso Canyon methane gas leak occurred from October 2015 to February 2016 and the lawsuit claims that officials knew the area was not being run in compliance with regulations and continued to pump natural gas into wells that were not structurally sound. Records have shown that SoCal employees were aware that gas was leaking for over 24 hours before they called the fire department. The lawsuit specifically notes that the company has known since 1979 that a safety shut off valve was malfunctioning and chose not to repair it.

Experts have described the leak as the most environmentally destructive natural gas leak in U.S. history, with Erin Brockovich comparing it to the 2010 BP oil spill. “I’ve really never seen anything like this. I think the magnitude is enormous. Its like a volcano, and the gas is like the lava that can’t be shut off.”