Category Archives: News

Expired drugs found in stores

This story was reported by the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal and written by Fernando Cienfuegos, Jayda Jones, and Evelyn Moradian.

There is a 7-Eleven located on a busy commercial thoroughfare in New Brunswick, next to a dollar store and across the street from a pub. Near the 32-ounce Slurpees and over-warmed pizza is an aisle devoted to health products. And several of these health products may not be as healthy as advertised.

Two boxes of 7-Eleven brand Migraine Formula Pain Relief expired in September 2017. Another box of Migraine Formula Pain Relief expired this July. A pair of All Day Allergy Relief boxes, also 7-Eleven brand, expired earlier this summer. And a cough suppressant sat six months past-due on the shelf. None of them should have been there.

The problem isn’t limited to 7-Eleven. This August, a team of reporters from The Princeton Summer Journal surveyed pharmacies and grocery stores in central New Jersey to investigate whether they were stocking outdated drugs, baby products and food. They found 75 expired products in 12 stores. The products ranged from dietary supplements to infant medication.

Eight stores were in the Trenton area: CVS, at 1100 Liberty St., Trenton; ShopRite, at 1750 N. Olden Ave., Ewing; CVS, 1618 N. Olden Ave., Ewing; Rite Aid, 201 N. Hermitage Ave., Trenton; Healthcare Pharmacy, 225 E. State St., Trenton; Rite Aid, 127 E. State St., Trenton; Episcopo’s Pharmacy, 1125 Chambers St., Trenton; Colonial Farms Food Market, 137 E. State St., Trenton. Four were in the New Brunswick area: CVS, 959 Livingston Ave., North Brunswick; Walgreens, 20 Jersey Ave., New Brunswick; Tropical Supermarket, 959 Livingston Ave., North Brunswick; 7-Eleven, 358 George St., New Brunswick.

Federal law requires manufacturers to label drugs with expiration dates, which reassure customers that they are safe and fully potent. According to the Federal Drug Administration, using expired medication can be ineffective or even dangerous. Certain drugs, for example, are susceptible to bacterial growth if past their expiration date. In New Jersey, state law bars stores from stocking outdated drugs.

CVS, Rite Aid, and 7-Eleven did not respond to requests for comment. ShopRite and Walgreens responded to the Summer Journal’s queries, but were not able to address them before publication.

To be sure, Princeton Summer Journal reporters did not attempt to buy any of the products; they merely identified the products on the shelves. If a customer had attempted to buy any of the expired products, it is possible that the expiration date could have been flagged at the checkout counter.

It is not entirely clear why this problem persists. When Sue Berrian, an assistant manager at the New Brunswick 7-Eleven, was asked why the store stocked outdated products, she explained that deliveries could be erratic. Asked when she expected the next delivery of health products, she said, “I have no idea,” before telling the Summer Journal that “we have one new [delivery] guy that keeps messing up.”

Expired items found at three CVS stores included acetaminophen capsules, multivitamins, foot creams, melatonin pills, probiotics, and condoms. “It could have just been an error or someone rotating the product incorrectly,” said Devin, a manager at a Trenton CVS, who didn’t give her last name. She then asked group of Summer Journal reporters, “You don’t have to announce yourself when you come in?”

CVS has been repeatedly penalized for allegedly stocking expired products. In 2016, the company settled with the Pennsylvania attorney general for $450,000 after investigators found out-of-date infant formula and over-the-counter medication at five of the six stores they visited. CVS did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, but did agree to institute training for certain employees and give coupons to Pennsylvania customers who find an expired product. Earlier, the New York attorney general’s office found that 142 CVS and 112 Rite Aid stores in more than 41 counties sold expired products—some of them two years past their expiration dates. As a result, CVS settled for $850,000.

Large corporations are not the only ones who appear to struggle with this issue. Episcopo’s Pharmacy, a small business in Trenton, sold an array of items, from sweets to toys. It also stocked expired medicine. These included gas relief medicine, nasal decongestant and vision supplements. Pharmacist John Berkenkopf said he checked his shelves “every few weeks,” but conceded that expired products sometimes slip through. “It just happens,” he said.

Shah Alkesh, who manages Colonial Farms Food Market in Trenton, explained why expired products can stay on his shelves past their sell-date. “Everybody [is] going to Amazon,” he said, noting that he has difficulty replacing his inventory.

No expired products were found at the CVS on Nassau Street in Princeton. Customers exiting that store were disturbed by the Journal’s findings. “I feel like it’s a disservice to consumers who are trusting these companies and are purchasing something that they think they can use,” said 31-year-old Brigid Gardner, after learning some New Jersey pharmacies were stocking expired drugs. Arifa Khandwalla, 47, of Princeton, New Jersey, agreed: “I don’t think they should be doing that. They don’t have the right to sell it to me.”

GOP nominee warns of ‘judicial dictatorship,’ forced sterilization

By Delia Batdorff

Madison, TN

Anthony Pappas is in his natural environment: in front of a whiteboard with a dry-erase marker in his right hand, his name and title written behind him. Pappas, an economics professor at St. John’s College in Queens, New York, doesn’t allow a valuable second to slip by: He immediately begins his presentation by saying, “We are living under a judicial dictatorship and you’re not aware of it.”

He doesn’t stay on this topic very long or try to explain himself. Instead, he jumps into a hypothetical situation. He tells us a story of people walking through a door and being sterilized; carefully, he goes into detail about sterilization and writes “fallopian tubes” and “testicles” on the board. He continues his speech, as if he is lecturing to his college students. Before long, he ties his situation into his argument as he explains a case where a teenage girl was forcefully sterilized. The judge was never punished for this. The woman carried around a blanket for the rest of her life to represent the baby she would never have, he said. He walks towards his bag and pulls out a pale pink towel before saying, “I don’t have a blanket, I have a towel.” Gently, he holds the towel in his arms like a mother would hold a baby, as his eyes start to glisten.

Next, he brings up Mary Kennedy, the ex-wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. After a difficult divorce in which she lost custody of her children, she committed suicide. Pappas argues that if even five immigrant mothers killed themselves, it would be a national story, yet women like Mary Kennedy are committing suicide and the judicial system doesn’t care. Pappas hands out an article about Mary Kennedy with his handwriting in the margins. It reads: “Suicides of mothers and fathers going through divorce are not investigated. Why? Judges are the only officials who have immunity.”  It’s part of a pattern, Pappas said. “The parent first despairs and commits suicide.”

Despite his focus on mental health, he fails to mention anything other than suicide, mostly in regard to custody cases. Nor does he explain how he plans to prove that the judges influenced the suicides, or how, as he claims, this would fall under the category of murder or manslaughter. When asked what actions he has taken to prevent suicide, he said, “I have no power to do anything in my power. I’m just a professor.”

Next, the economic professor begins detailing his own divorce case. He offers a copy of one of the court documents to the journalists; he has annotated it himself. In the margins in careful handwriting, he has written “nonsense” and “did not happen” regarding his wife’s loss of income due to time spent in court and her allegations of domestic abuse. The judge presiding over him was “like a dictator” and the domestic abuse claims of his wife were “a total hallucination and it’s totally irrational,” he said. When a journalist asks him another question regarding the abuse, he replies, “You go to the police and tell them to arrest me.”

Pappas said he is unable to access any donations or funds for his campaign because they have been “frozen because of the divorce. People donate, but I can’t access them,” he said. In November, voters from the 14th district of New York will decide whether to send him to Congress. His opponent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is heavily favored to win.

GOP’s Pappas warns that judges see themselves as ‘gods’

By Fatima Rivera Gomez

McFarland, CA

When Anthony Pappas, the Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s 14th congressional district, appeared at a press conference at Fordham University on Wednesday, journalists initially spoke over him because they did not realize he was the candidate they were waiting for.

Pappas is running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is expected to win the election this November in the heavily Democratic district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens. Wearing an untucked, button-front short-sleeve shirt and tattered khaki pants, Pappas—an economics professor at St. John’s University—began the press conference by asking the reporters how they would have felt if they had been sterilized. He then wrote a few words on the whiteboard including: “tubal ligation,” “fallopian tubes,” and “testicles.”

In the midst of some confusion in the room, Pappas explained Stump v. Sparkman, a 1978 case in which a woman sued the judge who ordered her to undergo a non-consensual tubal ligation when she was 15 years old. On the verge of tears, he pulled a towel from his bag in reference to a book about the case, The Blanket She Carried. The towel symbolized the baby the woman could not have, he said.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which set an important precedent by ruling that judges are immune from being sued. In a packet handed out during the press conference, Pappas wrote “OVERTURN STUMP V. SPARKMAN, the worst decision in the 20th century by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Pappas’ congressional platform centers on criminal and justice reform and an end to judges being immune from prosecution. “Judges are above the law. They can make decisions that are retaliatory, against the law, against the facts, deliberately false and they cannot be sued,” Pappas said.

He also believes that he is a victim of the court system himself, after a divorce in which his wife accused him of domestic abuse—an accusation he denies. A court decision Pappas distributed showed he had spent more than $592,000 on his divorce.

At one point, Pappas described himself as a Theodore Roosevelt figure for Republicans. When asked about his opponent, Pappas said that Ocasio-Cortez is an energetic and sincere person, adding that he expects that she will win the election.

In thesis, Mueller stressed rule of law

By Ngan Chiem

Pennsauken, NJ 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been preparing for the Russia investigation for more than 50 years.

Mueller is currently investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including possible collusion by President Donald Trump’s campaign, but 52 years ago, when Mueller was an undergraduate at Princeton, he was fixated on another question.

The future FBI director, then 22, was thinking about Africa.    

In 1966, the International Court of Justice, the judicial branch of the United Nations, ruled on a case deciding whether South Africa had the right to expand apartheid—a system of racial segregation—to nearby Southwest Africa, now known as Namibia. At the time, South Africa had authority over the area, which came with the condition that South Africa would govern humanely and promote peace. It was this promise that encouraged Ethiopia and Liberia to bring the case to the United Nations, claiming apartheid was unethical.

Mueller’s thesis focused on one question: Did the International Court of Justice—or, the World Court —even have the right to rule on the case? The majority opinion at the time was that the Court did.

Historically, the World Court was designed to be a place where sovereign states could request the legal opinion of the United Nations. But the dissent argued that South Africa was completely within its rights under an agreement signed after South Africa took the territory after World War I.

In his thesis, Mueller recognized the legal strength of the dissenting judges’ opinion that the Court had no right to interfere with South Africa. But he also argued that the Court’s ethical responsibility to intervene was written into its mandate. In the face of strong legal arguments on both sides, Mueller turned his attention to the moral issue at the heart of the case: apartheid.

“He’s really saying, when the law is ambiguous, you should do the ethnically right thing,” said Mueller’s thesis adviser Richard Falk, an emeritus professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “That’s an issue that many lawyers don’t understand. And he understood it and at a very early age.”

In the end, Mueller concluded that despite the strength of the argument denying the court’s authority to rule on the issue, it was outweighed by the court’s ethical obligation to preserve human rights. The Court’s decision to take South Africa’s case, he wrote, “was a positive contribution … to the ultimate goal of a world peace founded upon a rule of law.”

Now, more than 50 years later, Mueller stands on the precipice of a decision in the Russia investigation, which is how to handle any potential misconduct by the President of the United States and his campaign. To predict a man’s judgement based on his writing from decades ago can be precarious, especially considering the high stakes. But at least during his undergraduate days, Mueller saw flexibility in the law. “What he wrote as a Princeton senior,” Falk said, remains “quite interesting—and relevant.”

At Princeton, Mueller tackled rule of law issues in thesis

By Prettystar Lopez

Bronx, NY 

During his final year at Princeton University, in 1966, Robert Mueller wrote a senior thesis about the role of the law in a dramatic international crisis. Half a century later, as Special Counsel for the Russia investigation, Mueller finds himself at the center of another complex legal fight, fraught with political and ethical questions. It’s hard not to see parallels between the cases.

Mueller’s thesis concerned a narrow case with global implications. The World Court, or the International Court of Justice (ICJ), was called to rule on a legal complaint against South Africa’s extension of apartheid—the country’s brutal segregationist policy—to neighboring South West Africa (now Namibia). The Court was split on whether it even had the right to rule on the matter. Mueller, too, was conflicted. But he ultimately argued that the court’s job was not just to rule on narrow legal disputes, but large-scale moral questions, like apartheid.

Professor Richard Falk, an emeritus professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and Mueller’s thesis advisor at the time, thinks Mueller’s conclusion may shed light on his handling of the Russia investigation. “What he does is examine these legal arguments carefully and then he said, ‘This court is not just interested in legal analysis, it’s also a court set up to contribute to a more peaceful world, and to help with the promotion of human rights,’” Falk said. “The underlying question [of the Russia investigation] is, did [Trump] or did he not, do things that were subversive to the constitutional democracy? If [Mueller] was consistent with the way he handled his thesis, he would say, ‘We hold president Trump accountable for what he did because it’s very damaging to the quality of democracy.’”

But what if American democracy has bigger problems than Russia? While meddling in the 2016 election is antithetical to the democratic process, it is of little relevance to those who find themselves entangled with problems in their own communities. America isn’t an apartheid state, like South Africa was. Nor is it as racially segregated as when Mueller attended Princeton. But the rise of Donald Trump—with or without Russian help —has inflamed racial divisions that persist from that era.

Mueller built his thesis on the idea that legal bodies have moral responsibilities. And he may well apply those principles in his investigation. Yet, as a nation we face internal dilemmas around race and poverty that have barely been mitigated with the passing of time. To argue that our democracy is suddenly at stake, and that Mueller can save it, our country would have had to be doing well before. And it certainly wasn’t. Whatever Mueller concludes in the Russia investigation, there are broader societal problems he is unlikely to solve.

GOP candidate Kipnis strikes moderate tone

By Cristofer Urías

New Brunswick, NJ

Daryl Kipnis, a Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 12th district, promised earlier this month to welcome immigrant families to a better life in the United States while also securing the border.

Kipnis, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, said in a press conference that he supports a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.” An attorney who has worked on immigration cases, he lamented the high fees required to become a citizen, and said he wanted to reduce those costs.

Unlike the president, he also opposes the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants. “There needs to be a more practical way,’’ Kipnis said. But he did not provide specifics about his plan for the “safety of our borders.”

Kipnis also criticized the clash between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, decrying the “adversarial” culture of American politics. The lack of cooperation between the two parties, he said, is an “animosity contest.’’ Kipnis said this dissonance affected any possible solution on immigration.

“Even the President wants a reform,’’ he said. But he ultimately blamed the impasse on Democrats’ refusal to cooperate, admitting that a resolution seemed very far from happening.

Kipnis, a self-proclaimed moderator of parties, said that his purpose on immigration proposals was to keep the “bad” immigrants out and allow the “good” to remain in the country.

He also said he does not favor overturning Roe v. Wade, unlike most Republicans currently in Congress. While he made clear that he personally opposes abortion, “as a champion of individual liberty it is not my place to tell people what to do,” he said.

Kipnis also said he would be “open to” raising the minimum wage, though, as with immigration, he did not provide a specific plan. He suggested some economic hardship could be relieved by a “rainy-day fund” that would not be taxed. “My focus is what’s going on in your life and how I can help you,” he said.

Coleman challenger says he is ‘open to anything’

By Tammie Clark

Detroit, MI

New Jersey Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis is “open to anything” to help people who are in need. In his race in the 12th Congressional District, a Democratic stronghold, he’s emphasizing his moderate platform in an effort to appeal to both liberal and conservative voters.

Kipnis said in a news conference at Princeton University earlier this month that the district’s current representative, Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, blindly votes against any policies proposed by Republicans without considering what would be best for New Jersey residents. When asked about his qualifications that would set him apart from Coleman, he only continued to discredit Coleman’s credentials.

Kipnis also discussed the high cost of living in New Jersey and proposed creating a “rainy day” account that could help residents undergoing various financial hardships, like losing your job, or car trouble. “My focus is what’s going on in your life and how I can help you,” he said.

While he was not immediately open to raising the minimum wage, he did not seem entirely opposed to the idea.

“If the minimum wage is just too low,” he said, “then a conversation can be held to see where it could go.” He repeated that he was “open to anything” because he could see how an underprivileged family might suffer from applying to his “rainy day” account if their income and saved funds were too low.

Unlike a typical Republican, Kipnis tread lightly on the issue of immigration to appeal to Democrats. He said he was open to immigration, and doesn’t believe in mass deportation.

“The ceremony of becoming a citizen is amazing,” he said.

Kipnis said that the cost of obtaining documents for the legalization process should be reduced because it could cost more than $700 for the application fee and background check to cover the application for naturalization. However, Kipnis was not open to accepting all immigrants, going as far as categorizing some immigrants as “good” or “bad.” 

“It’s not my place to tell people what to do,” said Kipnis with regard to abortion. Kipnis added that he would not let his personal views or religion get in the way of deciding how to handle the issue.