World Health Organization ceremony honors Ignaz Semmelweis

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In January, the World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a bust of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis at WHO headquarters in Geneva. The bust was a gift of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Szeged and Semmelweis University Switzerland.

Semmelweis, a Hungarian obstetrician, introduced to the world a lifesaving healthcare concept: disinfection (hand washing) to prevent infection. During his time at Vienna General Hospital, he nearly eliminated a high mortality rate from “childbed fever” among mothers who had just given birth.

Presidential candidate would pardon Snowden, Assange

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Presidential candidate and veteran Tulsi Gabbard told Joe Rogan this week that she would pardon National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. The interview was a rare and refreshing example of thoughtful discussion of issues surrounding national security whistleblowing.

Chelsea Manning released from jail, subpoenaed again

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Chelsea Manning interviewed at Wired Next Festival 2018 in Milan. Photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Chelsea Manning was freed on Thursday after two months in an Alexandria, Virginia jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury. That grand jury’s term expired but prosecutors immediately convened a new grand jury and sent a new subpoena to Manning requiring her to appear in court again this Thursday, May 16. It is expected that she will again refuse to respond to questions about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. In that case, she could be returned to jail until the new grand jury completes its term. [end]

Julian Assange has been forcibly removed from Ecuador’s embassy

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Julian Assange. Photo by Cancillería del Ecuador (CC) https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgcomsoc/14953880621/

Julian Assange, 2014. Photo by Cancillería del Ecuador (CC)

At 9:15 this morning, London’s Metropolitan Police entered the Ecuador embassy where they arrested, handcuffed and forcibly removed WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange at the invitation of Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno. Police transported Assange to a London court where District judge Michael Snow called Assange a “narcissist” and ridiculed concerns about getting a fair trial before declaring him guilty of violating bail, and ordering him held for sentencing.

Trump’s Space Force rejects whistleblower protections

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Challenger space shuttle crew remains await transport to Dover AFB. [NASA photo, 1986.]

President Trump’s proposal for a Space Force to assure US military dominance in space has come under fire for its proposed personnel system, an alleged “merit-based” system that would give fired employees no right of appeal or external review.  The Federal News Network quotes AFGE National President J. David Cox, who observed that “an employee or whistleblower adhering to his or her oath of office could be terminated at will.” That would seem to violate the Constitutional oath every elected official and federal employee takes.

Chelsea Manning jailed “in defense of a free press”

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Manolo Luna [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Chelsea Manning at protest in front of “A Night For Freedom.” Photo by Manolo Luna [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Chelsea Manning, the Army whistleblower, is again in jail less than two years after her release from prison on a grant of clemency from President Obama. US District Court judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to be taken into custody for after she refused to answer questions before a grand jury thought to be targeting Julian Assange for prosecution. 

Office of Special Counsel’s mission at risk, GAO reports

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An investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found serious problems at the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the federal agency responsible for investigating whistleblower disclosures and retaliation complaints.

Requested by members of Congress for the fiscal years (FY) 2011-2016, the investigation found an increase in complaints to OSC and a backlog that increased from 953 to 1,858. The backlog, GAO notes, “puts OSC’s ability to fulfill its mission of protecting federal employees at risk,” “delays attaining desired favorable actions and remedying wrongdoings,” and may discourage whistleblowers from making disclosures.