Daily Archives: March 7, 2010

Neglected by ‘lazy’ nurses, man, 22, dying of thirst rang the police to beg for water

A young life snatched away: Kane with his mother Rita while being treated for a brain tumour

A man of 22 died in agony of dehydration after three days in a leading teaching hospital.

Daily Mail | Mar 6, 2010

By Emily Andrews

Kane Gorny was so desperate for a drink that he rang police to beg for their help.

They arrived on the ward only to be told by doctors that everything was under control.

The next day his mother Rita Cronin found him delirious and he died within hours.

She said nurses had failed to give him vital drugs which controlled fluid levels in his body. ‘He was totally dependent on the nurses to help him and they totally betrayed him.’

A coroner has such grave concerns about the case that it has been referred to police.

Sources say they are investigating the possibility of a corporate manslaughter charge against St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London.

Mr Gorny, from Balham, worked for Waitrose and had been a keen footballer and runner until he was diagnosed with a brain tumour the year before his death.

The medication he took caused his bones to weaken and he was admitted to St George’s for a hip replacement in May last year. The operation left him immobile and unable to get out of bed.

His 50-year-old mother says that he needed to take drugs three times a day to regulate his hormones. Doctors had told him that without the drugs he would die.

Although he had stressed to staff how important his medication was, she said, no one gave him the drugs.

She said that two days after his hip operation, while Miss Cronin was at work, he became severely dehydrated but his requests for water were refused.

He became aggressive and nurses called in security guards to restrain him.

After they had left, he rang the police from his bed to demand their help.

Miss Cronin, who is divorced from her son’s father Peter, said: ‘The police told me he’d said, “Please help me. All I want is a drink and no one is helping me”.

‘By this time my son was confused due to his lack of medication and I think the nurses just ignored him because they thought he was just being badly behaved.

‘They were lazy, careless and hadn’t bothered to check his charts and see his medication was essential.’

That evening, Miss Cronin visited him. She said: ‘I told Kane to behave himself because I thought he had been causing trouble – and I feel so bad about that now. I thought maybe he was having a bad reaction to the morphine he was on but in fact it was because he had not had his medication.’

The next morning she visited him before going to work. ‘He was delirious and his mouth was open,’ she said. ‘I gave him a drink of Ribena.

‘I told three nurses there was something wrong with my son and they said, “He’s fine” and walked off. I started to cry and a locum doctor who was there told me not to worry.

‘Eventually the ward doctor came round, took one look at Kane and started shouting for help.’

Miss Cronin was asked to leave her son’s bedside. ‘He died an hour later,’ she said. ‘I didn’t even realise he was dying. I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.’

The death certificate said Mr Gorny had died because of a ‘water deficit’ and ‘hypernatraemia’ – a medical term for dehydration.

His mother added: ‘When I went back to the hospital I was told that all the nurses had been offered counselling as they were so traumatised, but nothing was offered to me.

‘The whole thing is a disgrace. This hospital has a brilliant reputation and boasts of its excellent standards and safety record.

‘But as soon as my son walked into that ward, his death warrant was signed. Of the 32 people who were involved in my son’s care, every one made a mistake that ultimately led to his death, from the consultant to the care assistant.

‘There has been an internal investigation but St George’s never made it public and it was a whitewash-After his death the hospital never phoned me or wrote to me to apologise. How could this happen in the 21st century?’

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command are investigating the death of Kane Gorny at St George’s Hospital after this was referred to us by Westminster Coroner’s Court.’

A spokesman for St George’s Hospital said: ‘We are extremely sorry about the death of Kane Gorny and understand the distress that this has caused to his family.

‘A full investigation was carried out and new procedures introduced to ensure that such a case cannot happen in future.

‘We have written to the family to explain the actions that have been taken and to answer their concerns about Mr Gorny’s care. The family has also been invited to meet with trust staff to discuss the case in detail.’

The tragedy emerged a week after a report into hundreds of deaths at Stafford Hospital revealed the appalling quality of care given by many of the nurses.

This week a task force called on nurses to sign a public pledge that they will treat everyone with compassion and dignity.

British taxpayers to fork out millions more in benefits for EU migrants

Money for nothing: Immigrants from another eight countries will soon be able to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance after three months

Daily Mail | Mar 7, 2010

By Christopher Leake

Taxpayers face paying millions of pounds in extra benefits to Eastern European immigrants because of changes to EU regulations.

For the past seven years, immigrants from eight countries due to become full members of the EU were banned from claiming benefits in the UK until they had worked here for 12 months.

But from April 2011, immigrants from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic – where income levels are 40 per cent of the European average – will be allowed to claim Jobseekers’ Allowance and other benefits after just three months.

This is provided they can prove that they have been actively seeking work, undergone training or attended job interviews.

Related

Mass-immigration into Britain part of secret government program to deliberately change ethnic composition of the country

Unlike many other European nations which closed their labour markets to the so-called Accession Eight countries, Britain has allowed their nationals to work here.

This was on condition that they abided by the Government’s Worker Registration Scheme, which denied them benefits for a year.

But the scheme runs out next spring because seven years is the maximum transition period under EU law and no extension can be granted.

It means Eastern European immigrants entering Britain will be subject to the same benefits rules as they are in established EU countries like France and Germany.

Although there are no official Government figures, the latest academic surveys suggest there are now 1.2 million Eastern European nationals living in Britain.

Most former Soviet bloc countries pay lower unemployment benefits than Britain. In Latvia, the monthly unemployment allowance is £57.20 compared with the UK’s £200-£256.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said last night: ‘Now is the time to engage the EU in a renegotiation of the welfare arrangements to ensure that we do not face a wave of benefit shoppers when these countries become full members.’

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ‘Of those who do come here, the vast majority do not claim benefits.’

Tasers under scrutiny after claims of death and injury

CNN | Mar 5, 2010

By Dan Simon and David Fitzpatrick

Watsonville, California (CNN) — Sitting at the kitchen table in his small house, Steven Butler has trouble even with a very simple question. He cannot tell you the day of the week or the month, and he has to have the help of a calendar to tell you the year.

“Once a moment is gone, it’s gone,” said his brother and caregiver, David Butler says in an interview to air on tonight’s “Campbell Brown”. “He can’t remember any good times, birthday parties, Christmas, any event.”

On October 7, 2006, Steven Butler, by his own admission, was drunk and disorderly. He refused an order from a police officer in his hometown to get off a city bus. The officer used his Taser ECD (officially, an “Electronic Control Device”) three times.

According to doctors, Butler suffered immediate cardiac arrest. He was revived by emergency medical technicians who happened to be close by, but his attorneys say his brain was deprived of oxygen for as long as 18 minutes. He is now permanently disabled.

Butler and his family have filed a lawsuit — not against the police, but against the maker of the weapon, Taser International.

John Burton, a lawyer based in Pasadena, California, says he can prove that when the weapons are fired directly over the chest, they can cause and have caused cardiac arrest. In addition, Burton says he can prove Taser knew about that danger.

“Well, we can prove that by early 2006,” said Burton, “but we suspect they had all the necessary data since 2005, since they were funding the study.”

The study Burton mentions was published in early 2006 by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Funded by Taser, it focused on pigs struck by Tasers, with the conclusions, according to the study, “generalized to humans.”

The authors wrote that being hit by a Taser is unlikely to cause cardiac arrest, but nevertheless recommended Taser darts not be fired near the heart to “greatly reduce any concern for induction of ventricular arrhythmias.”

Dr. Douglas Zipes, a cardiologist based outside Indianapolis, Indiana, plans to testify against Taser in any lawsuit regarding what happened to Butler. In plain English, he says, that recommendation is a clear warning.

“I think Taser has been disingenuous and certainly up to 2006 — the case we are talking about — Taser said in their educational materials that there was no cardiac risk whatsoever,” Zipes said. “That Taser could not produce a heart problem, that there was no long lasting effect from Taser.”

Medical experts say that if a person is hit by a Taser dart near the chest, one result is a dramatic increase in the subject’s heartbeat — from a resting 72 beats a minute to as many as 220 beats a minute for a short period of time. In its court filings, the company says the “peak-loaded” voltage from a Taser at impact ranges up to 40,000 volts but it’s a 600-volt average for the duration of the firing.

In an e-mail, a spokesman for Taser said the company would not comment on any ongoing litigation. But in a court filing seeking to dismiss the Butler lawsuit, it said Taser devices “are repeatedly proven safe through testing, in human volunteers, in controlled, medically approved studies.” There’s no evidence, the company says, that being hit with a Taser causes cardiac arrest in humans.

But the company has significantly changed its recommendations for how Tasers should be used. Officers, it said, should no longer aim for the chest when using the device, instead targeting the arms, legs, buttocks.

Why the change?

A company document said “the answer has less to do with safety and more to do with effective risk management for law enforcement agencies.”

In other words, say lawyers who have sued Taser, it means police are less likely to be sued if they avoid hitting subjects in the chest. In court papers, Taser says the risk of cardiac arrest is “extremely rare and would be rounded to near zero,” but it adds: “However, law enforcement is left defending a lawsuit and disproving a negative, which is difficult to do.”

“Out of one side of their mouth, they publish this warning, saying, ‘Don’t hit people in the chest if you can avoid it,'” said Dana Scruggs, an attorney representing Steven Butler. “And on the other side, in the lawsuit and in their public statements, they deny that their device can affect the human heart.”

Nearly every big-city police department in the United States uses a Taser device. According to the company, more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide employ Tasers and more than 1.8 million people have had the weapon used on them since it was introduced into general law enforcement use in the 1990s. The human rights organization Amnesty International estimates more than 400 people have died as a result of Taser strikes.

Officially, it’s not a gun. As an electronic control device, Tasers are not classified as a firearm. The devices are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“There’s one thing that’s undeniable — that if I use my firearm, the chances are that you will suffer extreme injuries or death,” said George Gascon, the newly installed police chief in San Francisco, California. “The chances are much greater of reducing injuries with a Taser.”

San Francisco is one of three big-city police departments in the United States that don’t use Tasers (The others are Detroit, Michigan, and Memphis, Tennessee). Gascon wants to change that. He supports use of the device but says to call it “nonlethal” is inaccurate.

“We have referred to the Tasers for many years as a less-lethal weapon,” he said. “In the San Francisco experience, which we have to concentrate on, I have not said once that this is a nonlethal device because I believe it can be a contributing factor in causing death.”

Taser International is growing. Its latest earnings report says the firm made more than $100 million in profits last year by selling Tasers to both law enforcement and to individual consumers. And the company says even more police and sheriff’s departments are lining up to purchase the weapon every day.

The company argues in Steven Butler’s case that simply being in a stressful situation with police can bring on heart problems, and there’s no link between being being hit with a Taser and the cardiac arrest.

For Steven Butler, greeting the mailman now is a highlight of his day. He doesn’t dispute that he was drunk and disorderly when the officer tried to get him off the bus, but he and his family blame Taser for what happened to him. He says he’s not frustrated or angry, just resigned to spending the rest of his life trying to remember what happened.

After CNN first reported this story, Taser International, which had previously declined all comment, sent us what it called a “fact sheet” about the Steven Butler case.

The company said the 2006 Taser study CNN quoted produced no cardiac arrests in animals.

While the company says cardiac arrests in people are rare, Taser insists it does not claim a “zero” possibility of cardiac arrest.

Taser also claimed Steven Butler had a pre-existing heart condition and that his blood alcohol level made him vulnerable to cardiac arrest. Butler’s medical and legal teams told CNN he had no documented heart problems., and alcohol levels played no role in his cardiac arrest.

11 additional airports to get full-body scanners, feds say

“Backscatter” scanners see through clothes, producing an image of a traveler’s body.

The imaging machines are being funded through the Obama administration’s $862 billion economic stimulus plan.

CNN | Mar 5, 2010

(CNN) — The federal government is starting to deploy full-body scanning machines to 11 airports across the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday.

Forty body-imaging machines already have been put into use at 19 airports nationwide as part of a field test, according the Department of Homeland Security. The Transportation Security Administration expects to deploy 450 units by the end of this year.

“By accelerating the deployment of this technology, we are enhancing our capability to detect and disrupt threats of terrorism across the nation,” Napolitano said in a statement.

The first of the new units are being installed Friday at Boston’s Logan International Airport, according to a DHS statement.

The list of other airports set to receive the scanners by the end of summer includes Chicago O’Hare International, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, Mineta San José International, Los Angeles International, Port Columbus International, Oakland International, San Diego International, Kansas City International and Charlotte Douglas International.

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The Underpants Bomber: Anatomy of a Cover-Up

The imaging machines are being funded through the Obama administration’s $862 billion economic stimulus plan.

Under existing protocols, full-body scans are optional at airport checkpoints. Travelers who decline the scans are funneled to a location where they may be given a pat down and subjected to other tests such as swabs that can detect minute traces of explosives on hands or luggage.

The TSA said most passengers prefer a body scan to a pat down. But others have objected to the body scans, calling them electronic strip searches.

Passenger privacy is maintained during the scannning process by blurring all images, deleting images after they are viewed and placing the screener viewing the images in a remote location, according to DHS officials.

Acting TSA Administrator Gale Rossides testified before Congress on Thursday that the machines will not significantly slow the passenger screening process, saying it will be done at the same time as carry-on baggage screening.

The TSA has spent years testing full-body imagers. Plans to deploy them this year were given added urgency after the arrest of a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who has been accused of attempting to detonate an explosive sewn into his underwear on a December 25 flight.

Field testing of full-body scanners already is under way at the following 19 airports:

• Albuquerque International Sunport Airport
• Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
• Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
• Denver International Airport
• Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
• Detroit Metro Airport
• Indianapolis International Airport
• Jacksonville International Airport
• McCarran International Airport
• Los Angeles International Airport
• Miami International Airport
• Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
• Raleigh-Durham International Airport
• Richmond International Airport
• Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
• San Francisco International Airport
• Salt Lake City International Airport
• Tampa International Airport
• Tulsa International Airport

ISI protects bin Laden while U.S. continues to send aid to Pakistan

Whatever happened to bin Laden?

CNN | Mar 3, 2010

Osama bin Laden – remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?

Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar,  the killing of two key Taliban commanders  and an increase in drone attacks.

But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon.

“No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban.”

Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.

Related

The Bin Laden Conspiracy

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he’s [bin Laden] protected by the ISI,” Tanner says.

Tanner says that rogue elements within the ISI – if not the Pakistani government – may be using bin Laden as a “trump card” to exert leverage over the United States. Tanner says that Pakistani leaders are concerned that the U.S. will draw closer to India, Pakistan’s chief rival.

Flashing the bin Laden trump card will insure that the U.S. will continue to send aid to Pakistan because it considers it a bulwark against radical Islam, Tanner says. Without the bin Laden trump card, though, Pakistan would be in danger of being abandoned by the U.S., Tanner says.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner says. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Even if the U.S. draws a bead on bin Laden, he won’t be captured alive, says Thomas Mockatis, author of, “Osama bin Laden: A Biography.”

Mockatis says bin Laden has bodyguards who are tasked with shooting him if his capture seems imminent.

“Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

Many in the Arab world wouldn’t even believe reports that bin Laden had been killed, Mockatis says. They would dismiss the news as CIA propaganda and any photographs of bin Laden’s body as fabrications.

Killing bin Laden is important, but what’s more vital is the ongoing U.S. campaign to “constrict” al Qaeda’s operation, Mockatis says. The U.S. has become more successful at taking away al Qaeda’s safe havens, their ability to move agents and finance operations around the globe.

“It’s a grinding down process, the way you deal with organized crime,” Mockatis says. “You constantly keep the pressure on.”

That pressure may have led to several purported bin Laden sightings, says Ivan Kenneally, an assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York who teaches courses on American foreign policy and war and the state.

Some of those alleged sightings have placed bin Laden in Chitral, Pakistan, the northwest region of the country. One bin Laden tip from last fall was credible enough that the U.S. military and Pakistani special forces cordoned off  an area and kept it under 24-hour surveillance by drones, Kenneally says.

“There has been more general information that bin Laden is moving about North Waziristan, complicating his detection by constantly moving back and forth over the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Kenneally says.

Finding bin Laden might not come down to super-sleuthing or aggressive military action, says William Martel, associate professor of international security studies at Tufts University’s Fletcher School in Massachusetts.

“You need a healthy dose of luck to actually produce the capture of someone like that who doesn’t want to be captured,” says Martel, also author of “Victory in War: Foundations of Modern Military Policy.”

Martel, like others interviewed for this blog post, says that bin Laden is probably still alive.

It may actually be better if bin Laden isn’t captured, Martel says. The debate over handling bin Laden in captivity would be explosive.

“Do we read him his rights; do we run him through a military tribunal or civilian courts?” Martel says. “Capturing him would pose more problems than not.”

Dictator’s son wins election

Current Togo President Faure Gnassingbe, center waves to supporters as he exits a polling station after casting his vote for president, in Lome, Togo Thursday, March 4, 2010. Polls were open Thursday in the African nation of Togo, as the son of a long-ruling dictator seeks re-election to the presidency, facing six opposition candidates. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre accused the ruling party of rigging the election.

Pro-Gnassingbe soldiers openly intimidated voters at polling stations and in several instances opened fire with live ammunition before stealing the ballot box.

Dictator’s son winner of Togo election

AP | Mar 6, 2010

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI

LOME, Togo — Togo’s election commission on Saturday declared the son of the country’s late dictator winner of the presidential race, extending the family’s rule into a fifth decade in a deep blow to Togo’s opposition, which vowed to take to the streets in protest.

Provisional results indicate President Faure Gnassingbe won 1.2 million votes, representing 60.9 percent of the roughly 2 million votes cast in the tiny country, said Issifou Tabiou, the head of the election body.

Opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre, who had earlier accused the ruling party of rigging the election, received 692,584 votes, or 33.9 percent.

As it became clear that the opposition had lost and Gnassingbe would get a second term, Fabre led a group of around 200 protesters to a downtown square where they were pushed back by anti-riot police who fired tear gas, said witnesses and a police spokesman.

The contentious election is only the second since the death of Eyadema Gnassingbe, who grabbed power in a 1967 coup and ruled for 43 years, only for his son to seize power upon the dictator’s death in 2005. The younger Gnassinge went on to win elections that same year that were widely viewed as rigged.

Pro-Gnassingbe soldiers openly intimidated voters at polling stations and in several instances opened fire with live ammunition before stealing the ballot box, according to a report by Amnesty International.

Although the opposition has claimed that this election was rigged, international observers said earlier they have not seen overt evidence of fraud. But they say there is evidence that the ruling party tried to buy off voters.

During campaign rallies, opposition supporters chanted “We were not paid to be here” — a jab at Gnassingbe who they accuse of handing out cash and bags of rice to supporters.

Election monitors from the European Union’s observation mission were present in at least four different regions of the country when members of the ruling party handed out rice at a cost three to four times less than at the market, according to the mission’s preliminary report released Saturday. The cheaper rice has been nicknamed “Faure Rice.”

The district by district results indicated that turnout was in the 70 to 80 percent in the north of the country, where Eyadema Gnassingbe was born and which has traditionally voted for the ruling party. By contrast, voter turnout was woefully low in the south and in the capital, which is the opposition’s stronghold.

Jean-Claude Homawoo, the vice president of the election commission who is a member of the top opposition party, said that voters are so used to elections being rigged in Togo that they gave up hope just when their vote may have counted.

“It’s the effect of successive failure. So many times we went and voted in elections we knew we had won, only for the opposite result to be declared. So people have become tired. They don’t believe their vote counts anymore.”

Gnassingbe’s spokesman Pascal Bodjona waved off claims that the ruling party had tried to buy the vote, saying that people who favor Gnassingbe’s policies had donated bags of rice, campaign T-shirts and other goods that were later distributed. He called the opposition “bad losers.”

The election commission reached an impasse on the day of the vote Thursday after the opposition, backed by international observers, demanded that votes be sent from individual polling stations by a satellite-based system believed to be tamperproof.

A tense standoff ensued, but even once they had agreed to use the satellite system and the results began trickling in from across the small West African nation, several of the machines broke.

Tabiou, head of the election commission, called on the directors of the country’s 35 voting districts to travel to the capital with the physical proof of the votes cast in their regions.

From morning until late at night on Saturday, the commissioners sat around a large table in a conference room as the representatives of each district presented their results. In the early afternoon, two opposition-allied commissioners stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind them.

“I would have like to be able to say that, I, Jean-Claude Codjo, election commissioner, agree that this election is free and fair,” he said. “But we are only being allowed to see a synthesis. I have no way of knowing if these numbers that are being read out are real. I say ‘no.’ I cannot accept this,” said Codjo as he left the parking lot.

The satellite-system would have allowed the results from each of roughly 5,900 polling stations to be sent directly to the election commission’s headquarters in Lome. By contrast each of the 35 districts whose results were being read out were an aggregate of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of individual polling stations.