Since the Reagan years, taxes for the wealthy, for large businesses and corporations, and taxes against investments have been reduced every year. The society it has created has been built on lies and illusion as obvious now by the recent economic crisis across the world that was made by it. The look of prosperity and growth provided no foundation to be sustained or sustainable.
The only thing these tax cuts and big business favorable programs have insured is that we, as a nation have failed. This method of economic policy has robbed every pension fund, every company, every community and every future of every single American living today and forever after this. Throughout the years that it has been enacted, huge segments of the population have lived without opportunity, been run through justice systems, mental health systems and children’s social programs for no more than the profits sought by businesses, big pharmaceutical companies, local and state governments and county agencies hungry for money.
It has not improved the lives and options available for the majority of people living in America. The justice system has become the Injustice System at the hands of those who have been in power and operated as a profitable business of prisons, county jails, programs of incarceration, profiling, abuse, negation of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and generally an imposition into the lives of many people little deserving of it. Except in the case of major capital crimes and white collar embezzlement, the operating policy has been “guilty until proven innocent” and even then, charges that were dismissed continue on the record as if found to be so.
Since the Reagan years, every wealthy individual and large corporation have benefitted from lower taxes while every other tax, fee, service fee, fine, sales tax, registration fee, license and new taxes were either imposed or raised to everyone else in America. While corporations became the primary rights holder to the exclusion of all else and their profits were protected from taxes, policy makers and economists that believed they would therefore, “act right, police themselves when necessary and uphold conscience in their actions” were so completely wrong as to be considered out of touch with reality based on what is obvious today.
While corporate executives, directors on corporate boards and others at the top of corporations, financial industry companies and even, our government were making salaries, bonuses and perks to rival the kings of England, employers and their political action committees were striving to take breaks, safe work environments, lunches, decent minimum wages and every last benefit away from employees across the country.
For all of this time, any agency that had been created to regulate any industry for the health and safety of the public was cut in funding and staff. Many regulations were taken out of the law or dismantled, funding was depleted such that investigators, staff and resources were inadequate to cover anything resembling their jobs, new regulations were stopped or stalled and all of those moneys were diverted elsewhere. As a result, deaths and harms to mankind have occurred which could have been prevented and the damages of those events remain to be borne by all of us.
As it turns out, having had this free reign, many businesses and individuals of means were given to speculation and gambling rather than operating as a conscientious participant in our society. Over these years, horrors of corporate greed and abuse have covered the gamut from harms done directly to people as a result of corporate actions to environmental destruction, mass food poisonings, faulty products that caused physical damages and deaths, to corporate fraud, accounting schemes, speculation using corporate assets and over-leveraging in order to steal profits and future earnings, among other things.
During these years, corporate rights have been escalated while individual rights have been decimated. Across the United States, many cities and counties are little more than a police state with huge populations of citizens incarcerated in jails and prisons for the pettiest of offenses which has actively destroyed their opportunities to prosper or to conduct their own lives. It is commonplace for abuses of authority, police brutality, wrongful deaths at the hands of local police and authorities to take place since the Republicans have had control.
Police, authorities and officials are rarely held accountable for these actions which have wronged our citizens. Eminent domain has been re-evaluated as a prime method for taking whatever a corporate entity, developer or political friends might want with absolutely no recourse and our courts refuse to hold anyone accountable in any of these matters excepting those who have been wronged which are commonly further victimized by our courts and justice system.
Our country has become a place where individuals must carry appropriate identification on them at all times which appropriately match all other information sources, can be and are harassed by police whether driving or walking especially in the afternoons, at night and on weekends even when doing nothing wrong, where it is common to be tazed, beaten or shot by police even while complying with their orders, and where commonplace activities are monitored by police, cameras and other surveillance methods even where crime is not prevalent.
Anyone with a difference of opinion, exhibiting any diversity of lifestyle from that prescribed by the conservatives who have been in power, or who have any disability, impoverishment, destitution, creativity, freedom of thought, inventiveness, or single-parent household have been subjected to the most obscene abuses by those in authority.
The official abuses in the community have included denial of rights, harassment, false imprisonment, chemical lobotomy by mental health “professionals,” denial of opportunities, inappropriately long imprisonment for petty offenses, and extraordinary destruction to any of these individuals’ ability to keep a place to live and conduct themselves independently in the community. And, all of it was done to make a profit for the state, the counties, the local governments and the businesses run by their friends.
While political party members insisted on policies that would divert efforts from the government for safety net social programs to the charitable and faith-based organizations, those organizations at the same time diverted their funds to further conservative and Republican party agendas which has left huge portions of the population homeless, hungry, living in poverty and without options.
Instead of a user friendly prosperous nation that lends a hand to get people on their feet and started toward goals for their own lives to prosper, it has been a nation of exclusion and exclusivity, hatred and intolerance, of the rich beating the poor into the ground in contempt and disgust and hatred for anyone that wasn’t one of their own kind. For the same reasons, the conservatives and Republican policy makers along with their wealthy business friends have thought nothing of stealing from the middle class and from the poor, needy and impoverished.
Social workers have been given the status of agents working for the government with the rights to demand entrance into anyone’s home for any reason at any time of the day or night. If denied entrance, they have the full power and access to the law enforcement systems to come into anyone’s home, take the person without reasonable cause or investigation or basis for action, take their children, lock every family member into whatever named institution they deem and without recourse or phone call for any victim of their actions.
Then, months later, with no opportunity to face accusers or to answer alleged reasons for it all, the state and county agencies have made money on every member of the family, including children. That is not dissimilar to the Gestapo. It is the same. And, every guarantee of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are ignored and this has been the on-going operating principles and methods of our government for over twenty years, but actually started from the time of the Reagan years. When his administration of Republicans were in control of the state of California before his presidency, the same nightmares for the people of California occurred and the same staggering destruction to the economy, the same increase in extreme devastating poverty, the same increase of overwhelming homelessness and unemployment and the same massive increase of the prison system, mental health systems, and other institutions and their use as profit-making businesses. Now our entire nation is enduring the same results.
What surprises me most about all of this, is that today more and more people are being subjected to the same black hole that has been created by the Republicans and conservatives for everyone who is not them to endure and still they won’t admit they were wrong. Their “tax policies” for the rich and the corporations along with the reduced or non-existence regulations to police them have completely decimated our economy and still they won’t admit they were wrong or that what they’ve done has destroyed America as the world power it once was. They continue to instill in everything they say that the blame in all of this is on the American people, the poor, the middle class, the Democrats, the liberals, the independents, the employees, the unions, the single-parents, the disabled, those who have not been in power at all and those who could not stop them.
Those who have been in power have leveled the corporations they intended to favor precisely by that favoritism and the things it allowed to happen. Their policies have created an illusion of prosperity that had no foundation in reality which simply covered the theft and fraudulent acquisition of millions upon millions of dollars by their wealthy friends and conservative funding organizations to further their own political agendas.
Supply-side economics is a failure – it fails to “trickle down”, it fails to offer stable growth, it fails to bring prosperity to our nation and it has succeeded in bringing down our nation to the status of a third world economy hovering on the brink of hyper-inflation and social upheaval. So, what are the Republicans doing now? Trying to encourage that social upheaval hoping to take that boat back to power and insisting on the people of the United States covering their business losses and risky behaviors that over-leveraged, gambled and depleted corporate resources.
Capitalism works but supply-side economics and corporatism at the expense of the entire population does not. Leadership by a minority which doesn’t encompass even one third of the population and whose basis is aristocratic and elitist exclusion of the majority of those whose lives must be conducted under their rule is a recipe for anything but democracy, freedom and individual rights, property, prosperity, and opportunities.
And, that is exactly what we have – a nation written on the tenets of freedom, equality, democracy and capitalism whose leaders have failed for over thirty years to insure those tenets for anyone but themselves, their friends and the corporations in which they own stock and which fund their campaigns and agendas. Corporations are in existence to serve the people while making profits to further its survival, not the other way around as it has been made-over by the right-wing conservatives who have been running the Republican party during this time.
These same Republicans and conservatives that are still dominating certain positions of power were responsible for changing the tax cuts to the majority of Americans and American families to less than $8 per paycheck which won’t do much in the current economy. Then they turned around and mocked the Democrats and everyone else for it not being any more than that. It is absurd. They are also the ones responsible for undermining the national budget in order to win tax cuts that they insist will provide opportunities despite all evidence to the contrary indicated by the last thirty years of doing it that way.
They are the ones who threw hundreds of billions of our dollars into the hands of their friends at AIG, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide, Barclays, UBS and Wall Street investment “banks.” They continue to insist on a credit based economy rather than a commerce, currency and productivity based economy. And, then demand that all of us spend and join them in denouncing tax cuts for the majority while demanding more tax cuts and incentives for the wealthy and the corporations.
The Republican Party was never intended to be like this and was not created nor sustained to apply policies to the detriment of our entire population while they prospered at everyone’s expense. It wasn’t made to force every member of our population to conform to their principles and beliefs while denying the freedoms of individual rights to opinion, speech, choice, ideology, religion, lifestyle and ideas for all the citizens of our nation. That isn’t based on Republican principles – it is something else abhorrent, absurdly greedy, aristocratic and power-mongering. It has crushed the citizens of our country under its feet to serve itself and to feed its insatiable greed, inflated egotists, and wanton avarice.
Conservatives are hosting “tea parties” around the country especially on tax day in order to incite social upheaval and further their agenda which is an abomination at this point. The only New Boston Tea Party that will serve the American people should be one hosting or attending to their needs, the restoration of our nation and its economy, a re-assertion of our individual rights and freedoms, encouraging to our population’s continued walk through very difficult times, and helpful to networking with one another for enhancing our opportunities to survive and to thrive.
– cricketdiane, 03-28-09, USA
* Ford Administration: During the Gerald Ford presidency, Deputy Assistant Dick Cheney suggested in a now infamous memo to Donald Rumsfeld that the White House use the United States Justice Department to conduct opposition research and retaliate against political opponents and critical journalists such as Seymour Hersh and the New York Times, arguing that the executive branch had the power to prosecute journalists as they saw fit, under the provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917.
* Reagan Administration: In 1984, during the Ronald Reagan presidency, the Republican National Committee formed The Opposition Research Group, with its own budget of $1.1 million. These staff amassed information on eight Democratic presidential candidates based on data from voting records, Congressional Record speeches, media clippings and transcripts, campaign materials, all of which was stored on a computer for easy access. In this way Reagan was able to track inconsistencies and attack them. This original data base evolved into a network that linked information gleaned by Republicans in all 50 states, creating a master data base accessible to high-ranking Republican staff, even aboard Air Force One.
* George W. Bush Administration: Two former opposition researchers for the RNC appointed to Justice Department posts, Timothy Griffin and Monica Goodling, were implicated in efforts to use data collected on Democratic-appointed federal attorneys as ground for dismissal. See Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. See also Karl Rove. Also during this administration, CIFA (Counterintelligence Field Activity) , an intelligence gathering arm of the Pentagon was disbanded in 2008, after investigations into the bribery activities directed at Duke Cunningham revealed that the U.S. government kept a sizeable database of information about 126 domestic peace activist groups, including Quakers, about 1,500 suspicious incidents including peace demonstrations outside armed forces recruiter offices, even though the groups posed no specified threat to national security. The program was known as Talon. About two years elapsed between the program’s disbanding and the Post report. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed official as saying, On the surface, it looks like things in the database that were etermined not to be viable threats were never deleted but should have been, the official said. You can also make the argument that these things should never have been put in the database in the first place until they were confirmed as threats. 
Opposition Research and Mass media ethics
* In 1992, Floyd Brown headed up the Presidential Victory Committee, which backed the candidacy of George H. W. Bush. CBS Evening News reported that Floyd Brown was observed to be in the company of NBC news producer Ira Silverman as they stalked the family of Susan Coleman, a former law student of Bush’s opponent Bill Clinton. Coleman had committed suicide, and Brown was attempting to disseminate a rumor that she had had an affair with Clinton. Brown and associate David Bossie reportedly stalked the family of a suicide victim. In April 1992, 30 news organizations received an anonymous and untraceable letter by fax claiming Clinton had had an affair with a former law student who committed suicide 15 years ago. Floyd Brown attempted to link Clinton to the 1977 suicide of this, emotionally distraught young woman, seven-months pregnant, Susan Coleman. The Bush-Quayle campaign eventually filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Brown, seeking to distance itself from his tactics. The group had filed its intent to air the ad with the Republican Party, and Bush’s campaign director James A. Baker III, who waited 25 days before responding to the letter, after the ad had been airing continuously. Brown has said of the incident, If they were really interested in stopping this, do you think they would have waited that long to send us a letter?  The practice of using tips from sources such as Brown was examined in 1994 by Howard Kurtz, media analyst for the Washington Post. Kurtz surveyed the major networks, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and other influential media outlets, and found varying levels of use of Brown’s information on David Hale as a witness in the Whitewater controversy. At this time, Brown confirmed that he had been the source of four mainstream media stories that had received attention from the Columbia Journalism Review because they bore striking resemblance to the opposition research being disseminated by Citizens United. In 2008, Floyd unveiled a new attack ad against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, on the Fox News network, while also appearing as a real estate investor commenting on the mortgage fraud crisis.
Opposition research and public opinion in the United States
The Atwater-Rove style drew sharp scrutiny and criticism, and opened a new venue for study of executive management style, as scholars sought to examine to what extent incumbent politicians who used black ops to gain power would also deploy the same staff and techniques to maintain power and control once they are elected. The public now weighs a candidate or organization’s viability by how they conduct their campaigns, and to many voters, a negative campaign means that if elected, that candidate will possibly transfer oppo research into retaliatory operations against dissenters.
Charges dropped against CT priest who taped police
By DAVE COLLINS , 03.26.09, 04:27 PM EDT
Connecticut prosecutors on Thursday dropped charges against a Roman Catholic priest who was arrested while videotaping East Haven police officers in an attempt to document alleged harassment of Hispanics.
Parishioners of the Rev. James Manship’s church also announced Thursday that they filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division seeking an investigation of East Haven police for alleged brutality and racial profiling of Hispanics.
Manship, pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in New Haven, was charged Feb. 19 with disorderly conduct and interfering with police. He was videotaping two officers who were removing what they called illegal license plates from a wall of a food store owned by a Hispanic couple, who said the plates were for decoration.
Psychiatrist responds to charges
By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff / December 6, 2008
Dr. Joseph Biederman, the Boston psychiatrist who is a focus of a congressional investigation, defended himself against conflict-of-interest charges in a letter to the Boston Globe this week.
Biederman, the country’s most prominent advocate of diagnosing bipolar disorder in young children and treating many of them with antipsychotic drugs, responded Thursday to a report in the Nov. 25 Globe.
The story described newly disclosed court documents that portray Biederman as courting drug company money by promising that his work at Massachusetts General Hospital would help promote the use of antipsychotic drugs for youngsters diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
In one internal 2002 e-mail that is part of the court documents, executives of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that markets the antipsychotic Risperdal, discuss Biederman’s repeated proposals for the company to help fund a center on pediatric bipolar disorder at Mass. General.
The rationale of this center is to generate and disseminate data supporting the use of risperidone in this patient population, it says.
Florida Medicaid, Antipsychotics And Small Children
By Ed Silverman // December 17th, 2008 // 12:36 pm
At a time when growing use of atypical antipyschotics in children is under a microscope, Florida’s Medicaid program recently revised rules that makes it possible for doctors to write prescriptions for children of all ages – including those younger than six years old.
Most of these drugs can lead to weight gain and diabetes, and one prominent study found they were no more effective than older meds. Yet the drugs are increasingly prescribed for children, with Medicaid programs in several states reporting rising expenditures for antipsychotics, sometimes to treat ADD or ADHD, which are unapproved uses.
In general, the atypical antipsychotics – a newer class that includes AstraZeneca’s Seroquel; Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify; Pfizer’s Geodon; Lilly’s Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal – were not approved by the FDA to treat small children, or those younger than 10 years old. Risperdal has been approved for children older than 5 years of age, but only for those with autistic disorder. To be eligible for Medicaid reimbursement, a drug has to be used for a medically accepted indication, which means the drug has to be approved for a specific use or supported by specific compendia (this link indicates the three compendia do not list any use of the atypicals in children younger than 5 years old).
In Florida, meanwhile, the number of children in the state Medicaid program prescribed the drugs nearly doubled between 2000 and 2006 (and the most common diagnosis was ADHD). Such trends recently prompted an FDA advisory panel to chastise the agency for not doing more to discourage such prescribing (back story) and a group of state Medicaid directors to evaluate the use of the drugs in children on state Medicaid rolls to ensure that they are being properly prescribed.
Texas sues drug company to recover millions
The Associated Press
Posted: 12/17/2008 01:53:42 AM MST
AUSTIN—A drug company supplied phony advocacy groups, trumped-up scientific claims and used Texas mental health officials as pitchmen so a top-dollar schizophrenia drug would get on the state’s Medicaid list, a lawsuit filed by Texas officials alleges.
According to documents filed Friday in a district court in Travis County, the state wants to recover millions of dollars spent on the drug Risperdal through Medicaid. The lawsuit alleges New Jersey-based Janssen Pharmaceuticals, part of Johnson & Johnson, defrauded the state repeatedly over the past decade.
The lawsuit also alleges the improper influence-seeking and controversial medical protocols that determine which drugs are given to adults and children in state custody.
State of Alaska v. Lilly
Civil action for the damages and penalties arising from the marketing and sale of the prescription drug Zyprexa Article Complaint Description of Claim
Settled, $15 Million, March 26, 2008
Arkansas is planning a lawsuit against Eli Lilly, Janssen Pharmaceutica and Astra Zeneca for “improper and unlawful marketing” of anti-psychotic drugs. The drugs in question are Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel. The Medicaid program of Arkansas has spent $200 million on those drugs over the last eight years and, under Arkansas’ Medicaid fraud law, the state could collect three times that much. Article
Drug companies improperly marketed an anti-psychotic drug, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel claimed Tuesday as he asked a state judge to force the firms to repay millions shelled out by the state’s Medicaid program for unnecessary prescriptions. McDaniel filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc., Janssen LP and Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JNJ). In the filing, McDaniel said the companies engaged in a direct, illegal, nationwide program of promotion of the use of Risperdal for non-medically necessary uses . Article Lawsuit
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed suit Tuesday against drug manufacturer AstraZeneca claiming the company encouraged doctors to prescribe a dangerous drug to children and the elderly for uses beyond its federal approval, harming patients and costing the state millions of dollars. The suit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court claims London-based AstraZeneca PLC and four of its related companies in the U.S. and abroad misled doctors and the public to increase sales of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, even though the company knew people taking it were at risk of injury, disease and sickness. Article
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit received a subpoena from the California attorney general’s office over sales and marketing of Risperdal. The subpoena asked for documents on sales and marketing and side effects of the drug, as well as on interactions with state officials in Medicaid. Article
In September 2006, Lilly received a subpoena from the California Attorney General’s office seeking production of documents related to their efforts to obtain and maintain Zyprexa’s status on California’s formulary, marketing and promotional practices with respect to Zyprexa, and remuneration of health care providers. SEC Filing
State of Connecticut v. Lilly
Connecticut is joining at least nine other states suing drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. over the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says Connecticut’s lawsuit seeks to recover more than $190 million that the state’s medical assistance program spent on Zyprexa over more than a decade. The lawsuit accuses Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly of running an illegal marketing campaign to promote Zyprexa for unapproved off-label uses, including treating children. Press Release Complaint
produced by NAMI National for legislators and paid for by Lilly – lays out a blueprint for nationwide NAMI lobbying of state governments to reduce or remove any limitations to payments for atypical antipsychotics, again down-playing the side effects of such drugs. Using money from Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies, NAMI – both the various state-level association and the national organization – has effectively lobbied state and federal governments to increase spending on atypical antipsychotic drugs and to reduce restrictions on access to those pharmaceuticals, thereby protecting pharmaceutical industry profits through the guise of independent, grassroots advocacy. For example, between 1998 and 2000, Lilly gave NAMI Washington State $91,000. During that time, NAMI Washington State, in an effort led by NAMI lobbyist Brad Boswell, lobbied the state legislature for $1 million specifically for atypical antipsychotic drugs. Brad Boswell was Lilly’s Washington state lobbyist just prior to his assignment with NAMI Washington State. NAMI also joined a suit initiated by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) against the state of Michigan in order to increase physician access to higher cost pharmaceuticals – including atypical antipsychotics – under the state’s Medicaid program. Class Action Complaint
Sergeants Benevolent Association Health and Welfare Fund v. Eli Lilly
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General issued a report in 2002 warning that cozy financial relationships between non-profit advocacy groups and pharmaceutical companies – such as the one between NAMI and Lilly – which result in the generation of revenue for the pharmaceutical companies could be considered illegal under the federal anti-kickback statute. Complaint
In the last year, investigations by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, have turned up breathtaking cases of corruption among doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Universities typically require doctors to disclose income from drug companies to insure that conflicts of interest don’t undermine medical research. However, there is no legal penalty for lying, and the system relies on doctors to act in good faith. As Sen. Grassley has discovered, asking doctors to act in good faith regarding pharmaceutical payments works about as well as trusting a kindergartner with a jar full of chocolate chip cookies. The doctors have been lying. A lot.
Consider Charles B. Nemeroff, the doctor who directed Emory University’s department of psychiatry. He was the lead researcher on a five-year, $4 million grant to study drugs made by GlaxoSmithKline. In 2004, Emory reviewed Nemeroff’s management of the study and asked him to affirm that he was adhering to university disclosure policies. Nemeroff assured Emory that he would limit his work for Glaxo while he was researching the company’s drugs. He later reported $9,999 of consulting income, or $1 beneath the disclosure threshold set by the National Institutes of Health.
How much was Nemeroff really making? By pressuring pharmaceutical companies to release payment records, Sen. Grassley discovered that Glaxo actually paid Nemeroff a stunning $171,031 in 2004. Over the course of several years, Nemeroff failed to disclose more than $500,000 in income from Glaxo alone. In December, Emory announced it was stripping Nemeroff of his chairmanship.
The most egregious example may be Joseph Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Biederman was hugely successful in convincing psychiatrists that they were under-diagnosing bipolar disorder in children. Thanks in large part to his efforts, children as young as 2 years old have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and treated with atypical antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal. In exchange for his efforts, pharmaceutical companies paid Biederman $1.6 million in consulting and speaking fees, most of which he failed to disclose.
The pharmaceutical companies claim that the payments are legitimate compensation for “educational” speeches the doctors make, but it’s hard to see them as anything but bribes. Certainly, the doctors knew they had something to hide. At the same time that Biederman was collecting his payments, there was a 40-fold increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children, from 20,000 to 800,000 children. Nearly all of those children are treated with drugs, typically atypical antipsychotics. These drugs were developed to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, but there are only so many schizophrenics in the world. Risperdal alone had sales of $2.5 billion in 2007, and sales of all atypical antipsychotics are about $12 billion a year.
Main article: Congressional response to the NSA warrantless surveillance program
Three days after news broke about the warrantless wiretapping program, a bipartisan group of Senators–Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California, Carl Levin of Michigan, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republicans Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, sent a letter dated December 19, 2005 to Judiciary and Intelligence Committees chairmen and ranking members requesting the two committees to seek to answer the factual and legal questions about the program.
On January 25, 2006, in response to the administration’s asserted legal justification of the NSA program being based in part on the AUMF, Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Kennedy (D-MA) introduced Resolution 350 to the Judiciary Committee that purported to express a sense of the Senate that the AUMF does not authorize warrantless domestic surveillance of United States citizens . Resolution 350 has not been reported out of committee and has no effect.
In introducing their resolution to committee, they quoted Justice O’Connor’s opinion that even war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.
Additionally, they asserted their opinion that the US DOJ legal justification for the NSA program was a manipulation of the law similar to other overreaching and twisted interpretations in recent times. Leahy and Kennedy also asserted that Attorney General Gonzales admitted at a press conference on December 19, 2005, that the Administration did not seek to amend FISA to authorize the NSA spying program because it was advised that it was not something we could likely get.
Room 641A is an alleged intercept facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency, beginning in 2003. Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T. The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic and, therefore, presumably has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building.
The room measures about 24 by 48 feet (7.3 m H 15 m) and contains several racks of equipment, including a Narus STA 6400, a device designed to intercept and analyze Internet communications at very high speeds.
The existence of the room was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, and is the subject of a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T. Klein claims he was told that similar black rooms are operated at other facilities around the country.
Room 641A and the controversies surrounding it were subjects of an episode of Frontline , the current affairs documentary program on PBS. It was originally broadcast on May 15, 2007. It was also featured on PBS’s NOW on March 14, 2008.
In January 2001, Daniels accepted President George W. Bush’s invitation to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). He served as Director from January 2001 through June 2003. In this role he was also a member of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.
During his time as the director of the OMB, President Bush admiringly called him the Blade, for his noted acumen at budget cutting. Daniels instituted a first-of-its-kind accountability system for all governmental entities. Daniels came under fire for overseeing a $236 billion annual surplus turn into a $400 billion deficit during his 29-month tenure.
Daniels served as Lugar’s chief of staff during his first term from 1977 to 1982. When Lugar was elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Daniels was appointed its executive director. He served in that position in 1983 and 1984, playing a major role in the successful effort to keep the GOP in control of the U.S. Senate. Daniels was also manager of three successful Senate campaigns for Lugar. Daniels was part of the Reagan Administration when he became chief political advisor and liaison to President Ronald Reagan in August 1985.
Private sector work
In 1987, Daniels returned to Indiana as chief executive of the Hudson Institute, restoring the organization back to financial health. He then left Hudson in 1990 for the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company. From 1993 until 1997, Daniels was President of North American operations, and promoted to Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Policy at Eli Lilly in 1997 where he served until leaving the company in 2001.
In January 2001, upon his appointment as Director of federal Office of Management and Budget (see below), Daniels resigned as a member of the board of Indianapolis Power & Light Co. and sold the $1.45 million he held in company stock, donating the proceeds to charity. Later, that year, Indianapolis Power & Light Co. was bought by Virginia-based AES Corp. After the stocks dropped, the Indiana Securities Division investigated the sale and found no wrongdoing, but political opponents in his 2004 gubernatorial campaign charged that Daniels got rich while other employees suffered financial hardship. A state investigation also found no wrongdoing.
When AIG suffered rating downgrades, the resulting collateral calls on the credit default swaps proved ultimately to be much more than AIG could handle and became the main reason the company was bailed out – with government commitments that now exceed $150 billion.
The counterparties to the swaps were 25 financial institutions spread around the world. Many of them would have been vulnerable to a domino effect if they hadn’t received, first, the collateral AIG paid them and, later, billions of dollars from the U.S. government that made the counterparties whole.
In this whole disaster that began to play out last September, neither AIG nor the government has ever divulged the names of the counterparties – and that’s what infuriates Bunning and other senators.
Committee chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., describes the counterparties as less than innocent victims who used AIG’s rating (then AAA) to take enormous, irresponsible risks. He complains, It is not clear who we are rescuing.
The Fed’s Kohn argued that he couldn’t give out the names because the counterparties had entered into contracts with AIG not expecting their identity ever to be disclosed. Naming them, he said, might deter them from doing business with AIG again.
A reliable source, however, has given FORTUNE a list of 15 counterparties, with no dollar figures attached. The list contained the names in the following order. FORTUNE sought comment from all of the financial institutions and none said their inclusion on the list was inaccurate.
Société Générale (France)
Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500)
Merrill Lynch International
Deutsche Bank (Germany)
Calyon, Crédit Agricole (France)
Coral Purchasing, DZ Bank (Germany)
Bank of Montreal (Canada)
Rabobank (the Netherlands)
Royal Bank of Scotland
Bank of America
Barclays Global Investors
What is the significance of the rank order of the list? Since it is not alphabetical, one possible interpretation is that the banks are listed in order of the amount of CDOs they insured with AIG.
Goldman Sachs’ No. 2 position fits several press reports that it was an important counterparty, perhaps having insured $20 billion of CDOs with AIG. Goldman has never confirmed that figure, but it has said that its net exposure to AIG – after collateral it received and hedging it did – was minimal.
If indeed France’s Société Générale ranks No. 1 by exposure, it’s a distinction the bank certainly didn’t need. Early last year, the company was staggered by the news that a rogue trader had lost $7.5 billion. Had a domino effect ensued from AIG’s collapse, Société Générale would have been in an especially vulnerable position.
The Fed’s Kohn admitted in the Senate hearings that paying off these counterparties in the course of the AIG rescue will reduce their incentive to be careful in the future, which helps explain why the names have become such sought-after information in the political debate over moral hazard.
But the transcript says not microcosm, but microchasm. And that’s what AIG has proved to be, a money pit of gaping proportions. To top of page
First Published: March 7, 2009: 1:18 PM ET
Supply Side Economics At Its Best - A Complete Failure
Math whiz James Simons scores top spot on Alpha’s list
By Carol Eisenberg
March 26, 2009 at 10:06am
There’s a reason they’re called Masters of the Universe.
The 25 top hedge fund managers took home a sweet $11.6 billion last year, even in a time of tightening credit and falling stock prices which shuttered many less-nimble funds.
Of course, the price of admission to the club was sharply lower: To make the cut, a hedge fund hotshot needed to earn $75 million, down from the $360 million required for 2007’s top 25, according to Alpha Magazine’s annual rankings.
Alpha Magazine List of Top Hedge Fund Managers 2008
John D. Arnold – Centaurus Energy – founder
William A. Dunn – Dunn Capital Management – founder
Michael Platt – Blue Crest Capital Management – co-founder and CEO
David Harding – Winton Capital Management – founder and managing director
John A. Paulson – Paulson & Co. – president
John Horseman – Horseman Capital Management – founder
David E. Shaw – D.E. Shaw & Co., LP – founder
Dennis Crema – Blue Gold Capital Management – founding partner and CEO
Paul Touradji – Touradji Capital Management – president and chief investment officer
Alan H. Howard – Brevan Howard Asset Management, LLP – co-founder and director
Kenneth G. Tropin – Graham Capital Management – founder and chairman
James H. Simons – Renaissance Technologies – founder
George Soros – Soros Fund Management – founder / previous managing director – Drukenmiller
Henry B. Laufer – Renaissance Technologies – vice president
Pierre Andurand – Blue Gold Capital Management – founding partner & chief investment officer
Raymond T. Dalio – Bridgewater Associates – president
Andrew Hoine – Paulson & Co. – SVP and research director
James S. Chanos – Kynikos Associates – founder // NY Historical Society – trustee
John R. Taylor Jr. – FX Concepts – chairman and CEO
Roy G. Neiderhoffer – R.G. Neiderhoffer Capital Management – founder and president
Christian Levett – Clive Capital, LLP – founder and CEO
Christian J. Baha – Superfund – founder and CEO
Christopher Rokos – Brevan Howard Asset Management, LLP – co-founder
Bruce Kovner – Caxton Associates, LLC – chairman
Stanley F. Drukenmiller – Duquesne Capital Management – chairman and CEO
The Republican Party – wikipedia entry:
Today, the party supports a conservative and/or center-right platform, with further foundations in supply-side fiscal policies and social conservatism.
The Republican Party is currently the second largest party with 55 million registered voters as of 2004, encompassing roughly one-third of the electorate. There have been nineteen Republican Presidents. Republicans currently fill a minority of seats in both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, hold a minority of state governorships, and control a minority of state legislatures.
Three plead not guilty in SNF patient deaths
Published on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 7:50 AM PST
Kern Valley Sun
Gwen Hughes, 55, Kern Valley Healthcare District’s former Director of Nursing, Debbi Gayle Hayes, 51, the facility’s former pharmacist, and Dr. Hoshang M. Pormir, 48, a staff physician at the KVHD, who was medical director of the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), entered pleas of not guilty at their felony arraignments in Superior Court in Bakersfield on Feb. 20.
Hughes and Hayes are charged with eight felony counts of causing harm or death to an elder or dependent adult (elder abuse) and two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon through overmedication. Pormir faces eight felony charges of causing harm or death to an elder or dependent adult.
Former Director of Nursing Gwen D. Hughes, during her felony arraignment with her attorney, Bruce Blythe.
“These people maliciously violated the trust of their patients, by holding them down and forcibly administering psychotropic medications if they dared to question their care,” California State Attorney General Brown said. “This is appalling behavior, which amounts to assault with a deadly weapon.”
The three were arrested on Feb. 18. Hughes and Hayes were held on $450,000 bail. Pormir was held on $400,000 bail. At Friday’s arraignment, Hughes’ bail was substantially reduced to $25,000, while Hayes and Pormir were released on their own recognizance. Pormir was ordered to surrender his passport. All three defendents’ licenses have been suspended pending the outcome of their trials. If convicted, the three face up to 11 years in prison.
The situation came to the attention of authorities in January 2007, when an unnamed healthcare ombudsman filed a complaint after seeing SNF resident Louise Zimmerman held down and forcibly injected with drugs.
On April 1, 2008, Donny Fong, Special Agent for the State of California, Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, launched his investigation of claims that 23 residents were being given, in some cases against their will and without their consent, powerful psychotropic drugs such as Depakote, Zyprexa, Resperidol, and Seroquel, at the KVHD’s Skilled Nursing Facility in Lake Isabella. The complaint alleges Hughes, Hayes, and Pormir prescribed and authorized the administering of psychotropic medications to residents in order to chemically restrain them for “the convenience of the staff.”
The alleged druggings of SNF residents, many suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, occurred between August 2006 and January 2007.
The 27-page complaint paints a depressing picture of a facility dominated by nursing director Hughes who is accused of drugging residents she deemed “troublesome.” Dr. Samuel Obair II, a pharmaceutical consultant who participated in the investigation, learned from nursing staff that troublesome behaviors included “glaring (at Hughes), responding to her in a disrespectful manner, or refusing to eat in the dining room.” According to the complaint, Obair was told by nursing staff that Hughes believed all residents should have been put on Depakote.
Obair stated that the situation at KVHD is the most severe he has witnessed in his entire professional career as a pharmacist. “It is beyond appalling to me and it is the first time that I have ever run into this severity where it affected so many individuals and was being done so blatantly. I have never gone into a facility and seen psychotropic medications and mood stabilizers such as Depakote, being used on so many patients, and so blatantly, without any regards of any type of legitimate type of diagnosis, without any type of documentation of behaviors. I have never seen anything like this, and I have been doing this for 10 years. I have never seen patients as ‘zonked’ and I have never seen those as affected by drugs as these people were.” He said the nurses were the only individuals who complained and witnessed first hand the residents’ conditions deteriorate while being put on these medications.
Based on his interviews with the nursing staff, Obair asserted that Hughes was able to force compliance by her staff through threats of taking away their nursing licenses and having them terminated if they did not follow her orders.
Holly Lightner, former Licensed Vocational Nurse at KVHD from 1999 through mid 2007, told investigators that Hughes ruled the nurses with an “iron fist” and created an extremely hostile work environment for the nurses.
Following Hughes’ dictates, Director of Pharmacy Hayes wrote prescriptions for psychotropic medications SNF residents. Asserting that Director of Nursing Hughes presented herself as “knowledgable and experienced in the most recent research on how to deal with ‘troublesome’ patients,” pharmacist Hayes complied with her orders to write prescriptions. Investigators noted, “This was done without a psychiatric or medical diagnosis performed by a psychiatrist or physician on the residents. KVHD did not employ a psychiatrist.” Many of the residents who were placed on psychotropic medications suffered weight loss, were lethargic, and dehydrated, according to the report.
Department of Public Health Facility Evaluator Nurse, Linda Goldsmith stated, “A physician or psychiatrist must make a medical/psychological diagnosis on a resident and obtain consent from the resident or his conservator prior to administering psychotropic medication to the resident.” Instead, Goldsmith reported, “Hayes wrote the orders for the psychotropic medications and the nurses administered the medication to the residents. The Medical Director Pormir would sign the orders at a later time. There were instances when Pormir did not sign the orders until three weeks after the medication was ordered.”
Obair stated that both Hayes and the KVHD were fined by the Board of Pharmacy, California Department of Consumer Affairs, for writing orders for medications without proper protocols in place. Hayes and KVHD were issued monetary citations.
he explained that there are much greater risks involved with giving psychotropic medications to geriatrics. All of the residents at KVHD who received these medications were geriatrics. Older patients are more prone to side effects than the general population and some psychotropics should not even be given due to the potential of these side effects. Obair said that geriatric patients who receive Depakote, Zyprexa, Resperidol, and Seroquel, can have negative side effects such as psychosis, tremors, constipation, and lethargy.
Obair said the KVHD residents who were put on these psychotropic medications absolutely suffered harm. Based on the review of the Nurse’s Notes and Communication Logs, some of the residents suffered weight loss, body tremors, slurred speech, sat in geri chairs all day with glazed eyes, and some may have become psychotic. Some suffered from these symptoms for close to a month.
Residents were often administered the powerful drugs without patient consent. At least two residents were forcibly injected; a third had psychotropic drugs sprinkled on her food.
Obair said that in his professional opinion, Pormir, Hughes and Hayes were all responsible for chemically restraining these residents.
Fong interviewed DPH Medical Consultant, Dr. Michael Bennett, a physician for 27 years and a participant in the DPH Survey of KVHD in April 2007. Bennett’s primary role in the survey was to interview Dr. Hoshang Pormir, Medical Director of both the Acute Care Hospital and the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) of KVHD. Pormir stated to Dr. Bennett that prior to April 2007 he had little involvement with the SNF, but had recently become more involved.
Based on his interview with Pormir, Bennett said he believed that Pormir, as the facility’s medical director, should have been more involved with medical care of the residents and should have been informed and aware of the medical care given throughout the facility. “It was obvious that Pormir was not aware of the care that was provided to the KVHD residents,” Bennett said. Pormir allegedly rubber-stamped Hughes’ orders for medication, failed to examine patients and was either willfully or naively ignorant of his proper role, according to the complaint.
Bennett noted that “Pormir was very remote from the patients and was not involved with the day to day care at KVHD. He was also not involved with his staff in how they were providing the medical care to the residents.”
Partial List of Alleged Victims
The attorney general’s investigation identified three residents believed to have died as a result of being drugged and neglected:
• Fannie May Brinkley died Dec. 23, 2006, after receiving Depakote, a drug to treat mood disorders. After not eating for six days, she was rushed to the emergency room, where she died.
• Eddie Dolenc was given unnecessary anti-psychotic medication that caused him to become extremely sedated, and unable to eat or drink. He died one month after being admitted to the facility, likely from dehydration or pneumonia.
• Joseph Shepter went to the emergency room on Jan. 14, 2007, for dehydration and died five hours later. He had been given three anti-psychotic drugs. He also had a foul-smelling bedsore on his right heel. Shepter was given Seroquel, Depakote, and Zyprexa. Shepter was severely dehydrated and lost 24 lbs. in one month.
Dr. Kathryn Locatell, a particpant in the investigation, stated in her report that it is her opinion that Shepter “was severely maltreated by facility staff and Dr. Pormir, and the poor care and treatment caused Shepter to develop an infected heel ulcer, lose almost 20 percent of his body weight in three months, become severely dehydrated, and spiral downhill with pneumonia and sepsis while no one noticed how sick he was until he was hours from death. Likely the addition of Seroquel, Depakote, and Zyprexa played a major role in this downhill course and in my opinion was totally unwarranted. This resident died because of over medication and nursing neglect.”
• Eddie Dolenc was given unnecessary psychotropic medication of Seroquel and Duragesic. Investigators strongly believe that these two medications made Dolenc extremely sedated, which caused him not being able to eat and drink, and that he likely died from some complication such as dehydration or pneumonia that was not noted by KVHD medical staff. Dolenc died at KVHD only one month after being admitted to the facility.
• Jack Wallace was given high doses of psychotropic medications of Seroquel, Depakote, and Ativan at KVHD per orders of pharmacist Hayes. These three medications in combination surely caused resident to have severe side effects that led to his severe dehydration and near comatose state on Oct. 3, 2006. Dr. Locatell believed that these medications at such high dosages were totally unwarranted. In Wallace’s care plan review note, Hughes wrote that Wallace was hallucinating.
• Alexander Zaiko was admitted to KVHD on Sept. 12, 2006 and was dead by Sept. 20, 2006. He died at KVHD of pneumonia and severe dehydration. One day after being admitted to KVHD, pharmacist Hayes increased Zaiko’s dosage of Zyprexa by 50 percent. Hayes then ordered Depakote for Zaiko for his dementia. On Sept. 15, 2006, a nurse charted Zaiko as having drunk only about 1 ounce of water and later that day he was moaning with pain, and did not respond verbally.
Kim Manire wrote on Feb 26, 2009 6:28 AM:
There are cases all across the country that this is happeing in. I am in Texas, and the same thing happened to my father-in-law. He was taken over and locked up and medicated, all his assests were taken and used to pay the court appointed guardians , and their attorneys, the doctors and the nursing homes. The was estates depleted and then the elderly is put on Medicaide, then within only a few weeks they die of dehydration or pneumonia.
Kim Manire wrote on Feb 26, 2009 6:06 AM:
This is what is happening all across the country:
1. Many of our elderly are taken over by courts,
2. Appointed a guardian,in most cases friends of the court,
3. The guardian then isolates the elderly person and then keeps them from family,
4. This upsets the elderly person, and they start voicing their wishes and wants,
5. So then the guardian, and doctors start medicating, the person is then easier to manage for the staff.
March 1, 2009
Veterans’ families question cause of deaths
Post-traumatic stress syndrome treatment cited
By Julie Robinson
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Stan and Shirley White’s son Andrew, a Marine reservist, died at home 2 1/2 years after he returned from Iraq. Janette Layne lost her husband, Eric, in similar circumstances after his return from Iraq.
More than a year later, they still don’t know if the medication their loved ones were taking for post-traumatic stress disorder contributed to their deaths.
Andrew White and Eric Layne were taking Seroquel, Klonopin and Paxil, along with prescription painkillers.
Three other West Virginia servicemen have died in their sleep while undergoing PTSD treatment after returning from Iraq.
Investigators from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looked into the deaths. Stan White, who actively researches similar deaths and PTSD-related medications, contacted Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who requested the investigation.
The investigators interviewed the White and Layne families and visited Huntington Veterans Affairs, the Charleston Community Based Outpatient Clinic and the Cincinnati VA residential program, where Layne was treated. They reviewed autopsy and toxicology reports for both patients.
In August, they concluded that White and Layne received care that met community standards at the VA facilities, and that the men died from a combination of prescribed and non-prescribed medicines.
In the presence of PTSD, other mental health conditions, and uncertain use of medications by patients, we are unable to draw conclusions about the relationship between medication regimens and these deaths, the investigators wrote.
That’s not good enough for some family members.
I don’t have a direct answer as to why he died, Janette Layne said of her husband. Nobody has told me what caused his death.
The medical examiner listed overintoxication of medicines as the official cause of death for both Layne and White. The amounts of prescribed medications in both men’s systems were within acceptable limits, said Janette Layne.
They also had taken some painkillers that hadn’t been prescribed for them, according to Stan White and Janette Layne.
Narcotic painkillers are a leading cause of accidental overdose, and those painkillers can be especially dangerous when used in combination with other drugs.
These drugs need to have a warning that you cannot mix them with painkillers, Stan White said. At no time, were we ever warned that Andrew should not mix them with painkillers.
Stan White and Dr. Fred Baughman, a California neurologist who questions the use of medications to treat mental disorders except in rare circumstances, plan to visit Washington this month, armed with the stories of nine servicemen whose deaths mirror Andrew White’s situation.
The soldiers are from West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Some of their families will go to Washington with White and Baughman and meet with their state representatives.
The prescriptions were given by doctors at VA facilities in Huntington, Charleston and a residential program in Cincinnati where Layne had just completed an eight-week in-patient treatment. White’s doctor instructed him to take as much Paxil and Seroquel as needed, Shirley White said.
They said he had lethal amounts in his system, she said. So, no, we don’t have answers.
A second look
Stan White hopes to convince policy-makers in Washington to take a second look at pharmaceuticals prescribed to PTSD sufferers.
How safe are the combinations? How carefully should they be dosed? Should people with PTSD, which sometimes includes forgetfulness and memory loss, be given prescriptions that require careful monitoring?
Despite last August’s report, the Whites are convinced there is a connection to their son’s death.
I think the goal of talking before Congress is that we don’t think the VA is approaching treatment in the right way, Shirley White said.
Both White and Baughman urge increased counseling resources for returning veterans, including counselors available after work hours. Working veterans can’t repeatedly miss work for ongoing appointments.
I’m not a doctor. The medicine might be needed at first, but the soldiers need therapy and counseling, Stan White said. I really think that’s the key to this thing.
Page 2 of 2
Stan White and Baughman track soldiers and veterans who die in their sleep or slumped at work stations. They contact the families when they hear about such deaths to ask about psychiatric diagnoses and medications. Military casualty officers won’t release details.
They found three others from West Virginia. Jeremy Harper, 19, of Dunbar died Jan. 1, 2005, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center while being treated for PTSD. Nicholas Endicott of Logan County, who died at a military hospital in Bethesda, Md., also suffered from PTSD. Derek Johnson, 22, of Hurricane died last year while taking the three drugs.
Baughman notes Seroquel’s link to fatal heart arrhythmias and irregularities. He’s now researching the death of Chad Oligschlaeger, 21, a Texas Marine who died in May while taking six medications for PTSD, including Seroquel.
I’m telling you right now, these drugs are unfit for human consumption, across the board, Baughman said. Their side effects take two to three pages to list.
Faces behind the figures
When Eric Layne died Jan. 26, 2008, Janette Layne was pregnant and was caring for their 1-year-old son, Shamus. She and her husband served together in the National Guard in Iraq. His PTSD symptoms surfaced shortly after their homecoming.
We had no idea what post-traumatic stress disorder was. We thought it was something old Vietnam veterans on the side of the street had, Janette Layne said. We were working, we had jobs and were well-fed and clean. We couldn’t imagine that would ever be us.
As Eric Layne became increasingly depressed, angry and short-tempered, his wife encouraged him to seek treatment through the VA. He was reluctant, partially because he sensed an underlying message in the military to just suck it up, she said.
It’s ironic. Eric didn’t want to go and he didn’t want to take medicine, she said. They told him just to come and talk. He left with a prescription and the PTSD just got worse.
When Eric Layne lost his job in the fall of 2007, he entered an eight-week residential care program in Cincinnati where his medications were strictly monitored. He came home on the weekends, and his wife scarcely recognized the detached, exhausted man he had become.
The night he completed the program and came home for good, the Laynes agreed Eric would see a doctor about the side effects of the medicine.
He died that night.
I’ll never forget that day. I picked up Shamus from day care and a woman asked me if the baby was going to be a boy or girl. When I said she was a girl, the woman said, ‘All you need is a dog and you’ll have the perfect family,’ Janette Layne said. That night Eric passed away.
Riveredge Hospital patient’s death went unreported to Illinois
Pregnant woman with schizophrenia was prescribed risky drug
By Christina Jewett and Sam Roe | Chicago Tribune
February 26, 2009
Tameka Williams, 27, lay on a gurney in the grips of schizophrenia, gently thumping her fist against her forehead as she waited to be admitted to Riveredge Hospital in Forest Park.
In little more than a week, Williams and her 8-week-old fetus would be dead. Riveredge Hospital did not report the Aug. 10, 2007, death to state regulators, noting that Williams died in an emergency room an hour after she collapsed at the psychiatric hospital.
But regulators say state law required Riveredge to report the death. The Illinois Department of Public Health only learned of Williams’ death a year later after an employee complained.
The state concedes that it erred when it issued no citation for the hospital’s silence.
Despite probe, problems continue at psych facility
Illinois Department of Public Health report about Tameka Williams’ death
Riveredge case files: Unheeded allegations of harm
Riveredge Hospital: Previous coverage
Williams’ death raises questions not only about state oversight but also about care at the beleaguered hospital, which in three days gave Williams 10 doses of a drug that is so risky that the Food and Drug Administration has issued five warnings about its effects.
Just one day before regulators converged on the hospital to look into the employee complaint, the chief executive officer of the corporation that owns Riveredge told a group of investment analysts that the company is transparent with its overseers.
As a matter of fact at all [of our] facilities, we thoroughly report incidents to relevant agencies as soon as possible, Joey Jacobs, CEO of Tennessee-based Psychiatric Solutions, said Aug. 4.
The hospital released a statement in response to questions about the death, noting that Riveredge and Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where Williams died, did everything they could to save her.
Sadly, the statement says, her death was unavoidable.
Williams’ mother questioned that description of the death.
They weren’t even looking after her, Carlina Williams said in her West Side apartment. What can I do?
State public health investigators found lapses in Williams’ care, some involving an antipsychotic drug that has not been evaluated for pregnant patients.
While hospital records state that a physician described to her the benefits of clozapine, the antipsychotic drug she was given, Williams’ signature is not on a patient consent form.
The drug’s warning literature states that patients taking it are 27.5 times more likely than the rest of the population to die from a blood clot lodging in the heart.
Despite the risks, the Health Department report said staff did not document checks of Williams’ vital signs each day and her unborn child’s heartbeat each shift.
Just before 2 a.m. on the eighth day of Williams’ stay at the hospital, she called out to a staff member, a Cook County medical examiner’s report says.
Williams said she felt weak but needed to go to the bathroom, and the worker helped her sit up in bed, the report says. The staffer looked on, though, as Williams held on to a wall, grew visibly weak in the legs and fell to the floor, the report says.
Hospital regulators found that the hospital failed to ensure Williams’ safety in the moments before staffers called a code blue.
Williams’ autopsy states that she died after a blood clot in her right leg broke loose and lodged in her heart.
Dr. Nancy Jones of the medical examiner’s office said Williams’ pregnancy and obesity were contributing factors in her death. Jones said the office typically checks for drugs that people tend to abuse. She said the examiner did not screen Williams’ blood to determine if clozapine was a factor in her death.
Treating the homeless can go beyond medical care
Ethics Forum. Posted March 2, 2009.
What duties does a doctor have to a homeless patient who repeatedly visits the ED?
Scenario: What duties does a doctor have to a homeless patient who repeatedly visits the ED?
George, 57 and homeless, walks into your emergency department for the second time this week. He reports that the swelling on his arm has not improved, despite a prescription for Bactrim from the same ED seven days earlier. He describes a new cough and sore throat and reports twinges of chest pain. He also says that he took the prescription for three days, but had to stop when his backpack and the medication were stolen. A recent inpatient cardiac workup was negative. The furuncle on his arm is drained and new oral antibiotics given; all other workup suggests absence of acute medical illness. The overnight low temperature will be 38 degrees. George complains that eight hours in the ED without getting a meal could be grounds for a lawsuit. As you bring him a seven-day course of antibiotics and discharge papers, he says, I could be coming down with pneumonia, and requests hospital admission. His exam and x-ray were negative. When you ask about the local shelter he states, They don’t want me back there, and the place has no beds anyway.
Answers to questions on ethical issues in medical practice
An ED clinician may feel uneasy at the prospect of managing a patient who visits the emergency department frequently, complaining of serious symptoms (e.g., a possible heart attack) but who is homeless and may simply be seeking shelter. What ethical responsibilities are in question?
The situation is common. Emergency department clinicians are obliged to confront a remarkably depressing fact of American life, namely, the existence each night of approximately 700,000 Americans who have no place to sleep, whose indignities are legion, and whose needs may not fit the typical definition of medical care. Homeless persons are more likely than others to use ED services, in part due to lack of access to other regular sources of outpatient medical care or nonmedical subsistence needs.
Emergency homeless shelters are often better at meeting such needs than are EDs, though this is not always the case, and the patient’s protestation that the shelters are full is often true. A 2007 assessment in Los Angeles County found that there were 16 homeless persons for every emergency shelter bed.
–Stefan G. Kertesz, MD, staff physician, Birmingham VA Medical Center; assistant professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine
Ethics Forum discusses questions on the ethics of medical practice. Readers are encouraged to submit questions and comments to the Ethics Group, AMA, 515 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60654; fax 312-464-4613. Opinions in Ethics Forum reflect the view of the author and do not constitute official policy of the AMA.
Audit reflects tragedy of child welfare system
Tulsa World – ?9 hours ago?
One girl taken into DHS custody at the age of 3 was placed in 42 different locations before aging out of the system including psychiatric placements …
Staten Island baby starved to death unnoticed by ACS
New York Daily News – ?Feb 24, 2009?
Assistant District Attorney Karen Varriale told a judge that Matthew’s death wasn’t caused by an intentional act, but the parents failed to feed the …
Feb 5, 2009 12:43 pm US/Eastern
Reforms At NY Hospital Where Woman Died On Floor
Shock Surveillance Video Shows 49-Year-Old Collapse And Lay On Ground for Over An Hour After Dying
NEW YORK (AP) —
Surveillance video footage from Kings County Hospital shows a woman dying on the floor of a psychiatric emergency room while security guards and staffers do nothing about it.
* Woman Neglected In Hospital Laid To Rest (7/7/2008)
* Hospital Video Shows Dying NYC Woman Neglected (7/1/2008)
* Woman’s Hospital Floor Death Blamed On Blood Clots (7/12/2008)
* NYC To Face $25 Million Lawsuit Over KCH Neglect (7/8/2008)
Reforms are being made at a New York City hospital where a woman died unnoticed on a waiting room floor in a scene recorded by security cameras.
The improvements were outlined Thursday by Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan D. Aviles. He was marking the opening of a new psychiatric facility at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital Center.
Aviles says the reforms include staff increases and a new leadership team. A second phase will include patient mentors, and a consumer and family advisory group.
Esmin Green, 49, had been sitting in a waiting room at the city-owned Kings County Hospital Center for nearly 24 hours when she collapsed from her chair and slowly died on June 19, 2008.
She lay on the floor at the Brooklyn hospital for an hour before a nurse finally checked her pulse.
After an autopsy and weeks of tests, the medical examiner’s office concluded that Green was killed by pulmonary thromboemboli, blood clots that form in the legs and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs.
The medical examiner said the clots were due to deep venous thrombosis of lower extremities due to physical inactivity, complicating an underlying psychological illness: chronic paranoid schizophrenia.
Green died while awaiting care in the hospital’s psychiatric emergency room. EMS workers had brought her to the center on the morning of June 18. The hospital said she was suffering from agitation and psychosis and was involuntarily admitted after refusing medical review.
The emergency room is chronically overcrowded, and Green waited overnight for further care.
A recording of her death prompted national outrage when it became public.
After she collapsed, neither fellow patients nor the hospital’s staff moved to help her, even as she thrashed her legs on the floor and tried to get up.
Two security guards and a member of the hospital’s medical staff can be seen on the video, stopping to look at Green briefly before walking away.
She stopped moving about 30 minutes after falling and was dead when a nurse finally examined her another 30 minutes after that.
An attorney for Green’s family, Sanford Rubenstein, said the finding suggested that the hours she sat in the hospital factored in her death.
The length of time that she spent in the emergency room … very well may have contributed to her death, he said. Physical inactivity was obviously a significant contributing factor.
He said that had Green been carefully attended to when she arrived at the emergency room, doctors might have noticed swelling in her legs and taken action.
People known to be at risk from deep vein thrombosis are often given anticoagulation drugs or compression stockings, which can keep clots from forming, and advised not to sit for hours at a time.
The condition, however, is not always easy to detect. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute said about half of the people with deep vein thrombosis have no symptoms at all.
Airlines often advise passengers on very long flights to stroll the aisle, periodically, to prevent blood clots.
The city Health and Hospitals Corp., which owns Kings County Hospital, had no immediate comment Friday.
HHC officials have previously expressed outrage at the way Green was treated. Six employees lost their jobs over the incident, even before it became public.
The agency also immediately reported the death to the state and voluntarily turned over the security records to lawyers already suing the city over alleged patient neglect at the hospital.
Jul 8, 2008 7:31 pm US/Eastern
NYC To Face $25 Million Lawsuit Over KCH Neglect
Shock Surveillance Video Shows 49-Year-Old Collapse And Die After Being Left Unattended For Over An Hour
NEW YORK (CBS) —
It was a shocking surveillance video shown around the world. A mother was left to die in a New York City hospital waiting room.
Now, as CBS 2 HD has learned her outraged family is taking action with a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city.
On their way out of the city, back to their home in Jamaica, family members visited Kings County Hospital, where Esmin Green died. Earlier Tuesday, the woman’s daughter and the sister said they will sue the city for $25 million. Tecia Harrison was grief stricken.
The image of my mom fainting on the floor, and dying, ahh, ahh, said Harrison, 31.
Her mother, 49-year-old Green, is seen in the shocking video falling out of a chair, onto the psychiatric waiting room floor, and left there for more than an hour.
We don’t treat animals like that, sister Brenda James said. We don’t treat animals like that.
On June 19, Green waited to be seen more than 24 hours, during which time security guards came in to look at her, not once, but twice, and did nothing. And then, it’s charged hospital records were altered to hide the facts.
The family says Green was killed twice, first by neglect.
Secondly, killed by people who tried to cover us what happened, James said.
On Sunday, there was a funeral for Green, remembered in death, but ignored on the last day of her life. Family members who came up from Jamaica, who were asked if Green was neglected by the family, said they tried to stay in contact, even though Green did not have a phone of her own.
When we didn’t hear Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, we got worried, because we called her constantly, Harrison said.
Not only is the hospital being sued, but so are a number of its employees, six of whom have already been fired.
The Health and Hospitals Corporation president, Alan Aviles, issued a statement Tuesday evening:
We failed Esmin Green and believe her family deserves fair and just compensation, Aviles said.
(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Abuse Is Found at Psychiatric Unit Run by the City
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
Published: February 5, 2009
The federal government has documented a pattern of sexual and other violent assaults among patients at the psychiatric unit of a city-run Brooklyn hospital where a woman died in June on the floor of the emergency waiting room while staff members ignored her.
Video of Dying Mental Patient Being Ignored Spurs Changes at Brooklyn Hospital (July 2, 2008)
Times Topics: Kings County Hospital
Department of Justice Report on Kings County Hospital (pdf)
After a yearlong investigation, the Department of Justice portrayed the unit at Kings County Hospital Center as a nightmarish place where patients were not treated for suicidal behavior, were routinely subdued with physical restraints and drugs instead of receiving individualized psychiatric treatment, and were frequently abused by other patients.
The details are laid out in a 58-page report to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that was made public on Thursday.
The investigators found that the psychiatric service operated like a prison. The report said that instead of meaningful treatment and diagnosis, the patients received frequent visual checks by the staff, and that even when patients were supposedly under watch, violence and attempted suicides occurred.
Among the most serious incidents the report documented were an October brawl among six patients that left one needing surgery, and an autistic patient being forced to perform oral sex in November. The report also included allegations that a woman was raped and that a 14-year-old was forced to engage in oral sex by a 16-year-old.
All four incidents occurred after the highly publicized death of Esmin Green, a Jamaican immigrant with a history of depression, who collapsed on the floor of the emergency waiting room after waiting nearly 24 hours to be seen. A surveillance video showed Ms. Green, 49, lying on the floor for nearly an hour; during that time, a guard came in to check on her by wheeling his chair along, and another staff member prodded her with a foot.
“While perhaps unique in the extent of the harm that resulted, the tragic case of Ms. Green typifies the patterns of inadequate care and treatment,” reads the report, from Loretta King, an acting assistant attorney general, and Benton J. Campbell, the United States attorney in Brooklyn.
The report, a summary account of the federal investigation that resulted from a 2007 lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union and others, found at least three cases, including Ms. Green’s, when employees falsified records to hide their neglect.
The report became public when Alan D. Aviles, president of the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, convened a news conference on Thursday to announce that “radical changes” had been made at Kings County, which treats many of the city’s most severely mentally ill. While questioning some details of the report, he admitted that the unit “too often failed” its patients.
At the hospital’s new $153 million building in central Brooklyn, he announced the replacement of its top two administrators and the addition of 200 medical personnel to its 600-member staff.
Mr. Aviles also outlined new protocols for screening emergency-room admissions, using nonuniformed security officers trained in crisis intervention rather than hospital police. Mr. Aviles noted that in Ms. Green’s case, two guards had looked in on her but decided that she was not their responsibility.
“They clearly felt disconnected from the treatment team,” Mr. Aviles said. “This says something very damning about the model.”
Mr. Aviles said the hospital had cut the average time in the emergency department to 8 hours from 27, and that the number of patients waiting seldom exceeded 25 now, compared with 50 or more on occasion.
“It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that we could prevent all such future incidents, but we can do better,” he said.
Stu Loeser, a City Hall spokesman, said that the mayor believed that the Justice Department report raised “serious issues” but that the changes Mr. Aviles announced “go a long way to addressing many of the conditions.”
The Justice Department’s report said conditions at the psychiatric unit were “highly dangerous and require immediate attention.” It added: “Substantial harm occurs regularly due to K.C.H.C.’s failure to properly assess, diagnose, supervise, monitor and treat its mental health patients.”
The report said that many patients were admitted with “catch-all” diagnoses and that the staff used “boilerplate forms and checklists” rather than writing “individualized narratives.”
The report said that patients were often left in restraints for the two-hour limit even though they had changed their behavior, suggesting that the confinement was punishment rather than therapy. And investigators found it was common to administer injections of more than one antipsychotic medication simultaneously, despite the risk of side effects and overdosing.
In one case, a patient’s treatment plan did not address his obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, until he had a stroke, according to the report.
More Articles in New York Region » A version of this article appeared in print on February 6, 2009, on page A19 of the New York edition.
Investigation After Woman’s Death Finds Pattern of Violence, Sexual Abuse at New York Hospital
Friday, February 06, 2009
NEW YORK — Federal investigators have found conditions at a Brooklyn hospital where a woman died on a waiting room floor disturbing, highly dangerous and requiring immediate attention.
The yearlong investigation by the Department of Justice documented a pattern of inadequate care, violence and sexual abuse at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn.
City Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan D. Aviles says the unit too often failed its patients.
Autopsy: Bay City man froze inside his home
by Tom Gilchrist | The Bay City Times
Monday January 26, 2009, 8:28 AM
Ryan Hernden, 15, and his father, Jim Hernden, 41, stand in front of the yellow Bay City home where their neighbor, 93-year-old Marvin Schur, froze to death.
City manager says utility followed policy on limiting man’s electricity
A pathologist said a 93-year-old Bay City man froze to death inside his home – his body found days after city workers said they limited electricity flowing to the house.
Marvin E. Schur suffered “a slow, painful death” inside his home at 1600 S. Chilson St. on Bay City’s southwest side, said Dr. Kanu Virani, who performed an autopsy on the body.
UPDATE: Bay City raises electric rates as Marvin Schur’s death spurs anger
ALSO: Marvin Schur’s death was preventable, Lansing officials say
“Hypothermia shuts the whole system down, slowly,” Virani said. “It’s not easy to die from hypothermia without first realizing your fingers and toes feel like they’re burning.”
Funeral services for Schur, a retired pattern-maker who lived alone, are at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Gephart Funeral Home, 201 W. Midland St. Schur’s wife, retired elementary-school teacher Marian I. (Meisel) Schur, died several years ago, and the couple had no children.
Virani, Oakland County’s deputy chief medical examiner, performs autopsies for Bay County and numerous other Michigan counties. Of about 15,000 autopsies Virani has conducted, he said Marvin Schur’s autopsy “is the first one I can remember doing on someone who froze to death indoors.”
Virani said the temperature inside Schur’s home was less than 32 degrees when neighbors George A. Pauwels Jr. and his wife, Shannon, found Schur’s body Jan. 17.
George Pauwels Jr. said Schur owed almost $1,100 in electricity bills to the city of Bay City, though Pauwels said he noticed money clipped to those bills on Schur’s kitchen table the day he found Schur’s body.
Bay City Manager Robert V. Belleman said a worker with Bay City Electric Light & Power placed a “limiter” device outside Schur’s home, between Schur’s electricity meter and electrical service, on Jan. 13.
The device restricts the amount of electricity reaching the home and if a homeowner tries to draw more electricity than the limiter allows, “it blows the limiter, just like blowing a fuse, and then you go outside and reset it,” Belleman said.
Belleman said he doesn’t know if a city worker made one-on-one contact with Schur to explain the limiter’s operation. Virani said he doesn’t know if Schur suffered from dementia, which could have interfered with his ability to know how to reset a limiter.
Pauwels said Schur couldn’t hear well, and said he believed Schur “had a little bit” of dementia.
Belleman said city workers keep the limiter on a residence for 10 days, at which point the city shuts off all electricity if the homeowner hasn’t paid his utility bill or arranged to do so.
Jim Hernden, 41, a neighbor of Marvin Schur, said Bay City Electric Light & Power workers should insist on meeting face to face with a homeowner, or a homeowner’s neighbors, before installing a limiter or shutting off power.
“We’re a small enough town where someone like Marvin should get a little bit extra care,” he said.
Bay City Police Department officers investigated Schur’s death, but declined comment, referring all questions to Belleman.
Pauwels said he blames the city for Marvin Schur’s death.
“His furnace was not running – the insides of his windows were full of ice the morning we found him,” Pauwels said. “This (limiter) is supposed to regulate the amount of electricity he was using, but still allow enough power to run the furnace.Obviously, it didn’t work.”
Belleman said city officials will review Electric Light & Power policies in the wake of Schur’s death. Belleman said he doesn’t believe the city did anything wrong.
WWII Veteran Freezes To Death In Own Home
Memorial Service Set For Wednesday
POSTED: 2:20 pm EST January 26, 2009
UPDATED: 11:17 am EST January 28, 2009
BAY CITY, Mich. — Officials in Mid-Michigan said the 93-year-old man who owed more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills froze to death inside his home — where the municipal power company had restricted his use of electricity.Neighbors and friends of Schur want answers as to how this could happen.“Now that we do know it was hypothermia, there’s a whole bunch of feelings that I’ve got going through me,” said Jim Herndon, a neighbor of Schur’s. “There’s anger, for the city and the electrical company.”
Inventor of restraint chair comments on Iowa Ombudsman’s report
Our device, and devices like ours, have saved countless detainees and staff from injury and death, stated Tom Hogan, former Crawford County Sheriff and inventor of the Emergency Restraint Chair now manufactured by his company E.R.C., Inc. based in Denison.
Hogan has been manufacturing restraint control devices for about 15 years and has always issued guidelines of when, how, and how long to use the product.
He was consulted about these recommendations by the State of Iowa Ombudsman’s Office during the office’s investigation into allegations of improper or abusive use of restraint devices in jails including those of Appanoose, Wapello, Jefferson, Polk and Woodbury Counties.
In addition to consulting manufacturers to establish intended use and guidelines for their products, the Ombudsman sought information from allied industries that use restraint devices such as nursing homes and mental health institutions to determine what policies, procedures, and training typically accompanied the use of such devices, as well as reviewed applicable federal and state laws for any infraction by the jails.
In a February 19 press release, Ombudsman William P. Angrick II said he believes restraint devices can be a useful tool to safely control an inmate. Concerns arise when the devices are not used in accordance with manufacturer policies or for reasons other than those allowed by Iowa law.
The State employs an Ombudsman to investigate the administrative actions of local and state governments when complaints arise that these bodies acted in ways contrary to law or that were unfair or oppressive.
Following an investigation, the Ombudsman may release recommendation to the entities involved that include suggested changes although the office does not directly impact the rules or laws these agencies must follow.
RESTRAINTS . . . Page 2A
RESTRAINTS, from Page 1A
The investigation into county jails was initiated after five former jail inmates contacted the Ombudsman and reported being restrained for periods of time exceeding 12 hours, being threatened with physical harm while in restraints, being physically assaulted while restrained, and receiving inadequate medical or psychiatric care before, during, and after being restrained by devices that included chairs with arm, leg and upper body restraints and boards with up to ten point restraints that held the detainee in a prone position.
Restraint devices have been found to have adverse physical and mental health affects and in at least two notable cases, cited by the Ombudsman’s report, resulted in the death of the inmate and monetary judgments against the facility using the restraint device.
The death of inmate Michael Oliver Lewis in a Colorado county jail in 1998 resulted from a combination of heart disease, medication, and the use of a restraint board. He was restrained for three hours. The coroner could not determine which factor had a dominant role in causing Lewis’s death. Michael Valent died in a Utah state prison in 1997 from a pulmonary embolism after spending 16 hours in a restraint chair. Blood clots, caused by prolonged immobilization, traveled through his lungs.
Hogan commended the efforts of the Ombudsman and said, We’re glad the state of Iowa is taking steps to standardize state guidelines.
Currently, Iowa law is vague about the specifics of restraint device use and provides the following instruction, Restraint device(s) shall be used only when a prisoner is a threat to self or others or jeopardizes jail security.
Re-evaluation of existing law and policy will make the industry better, safer, Hogan continued.
Crawford County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Bremser recalled no problems stemming from the use of a restraint chair in the Crawford County Jail and reiterated Hogan’s assessment. He said, It has stopped prisoners and officers from being injured…(the chair) does exactly what it is supposed to do.
While the Ombudsman’s investigation did not find that the jails in question violated existing law, the 182 page report offered specific suggestions to reduce liability including: enhanced screening at intake to alert jail staff of mental or physical ailments, using the least restrictive means of maintaining control of the prisoner (using a restraint chair or board as a last resort), alerting the jail’s medical staff when a prisoner was placed in restraints and providing continuing medical supervision, videotaping the prisoner while being restrained and maintaining a written record of the process, and conducting in-person evaluation of the prisoner’s disposition and physical status every 15 minutes during the restraint period.
These recommendations were adopted by Polk, Jefferson, and Wapello Counties but rejected by Woodbury and Appanoose Counties citing current compliance with Iowa law and budgetary constraints.
Bremser remarked about the Crawford County Jail: We are compliant with the majority of recommendations in the (Ombudsman’s) report within our financial ability.
Specifically, Bremser continued, 15-minute checks are always conducted and the chair is never used as a form of punishment.
With any tool there is the potential for misuse, Bremser cautioned, and the restraint chair is used when people are combative, violent, and angry, behaviors sometimes induced by alcohol or drug use. However, he concluded, We have policies and procedures in place to make sure the chair is being used appropriately.
[My note –
This story is from Canada but across the US any search of Tazer and wrongful death/ police brutality yields hundreds of stories in every state and in nearly every case the same results as this – no accountability for the officials and law enforcement personnel that killed, maimed and wrongfully brutalized.]
Inquiry begins into Halifax Taser-related death
By Richard Foot, Canwest News ServiceFebruary 17, 2009
An inquiry begins Wednesday in Halifax into the death of a mentally ill man who died after he was hit with a Taser.
Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix
HALIFAX — A public inquiry begins in Halifax on Wednesday into the death of a mentally ill man who died a day after he was hit with a Taser stun gun while in police custody.
Howard Hyde, 45, died in a jail cell in November 2007 — five weeks after the high-profile death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who was Tasered by the RCMP at Vancouver International Airport.
Dziekanski’s death is the subject of an ongoing inquiry in B.C.
A Nova Scotia judge will now begin a similar investigation in Halifax, which both Hyde’s family and mental-health advocates are hoping will lead to new national standards for the treatment of psychiatric patients in the criminal justice system.
Hyde suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He was arrested by Halifax Police on an assault charge after his girlfriend reported a domestic disturbance, and told police Hyde had not been taking his medication.
Hyde had been Tasered several years earlier, and reportedly had a deep fear of police. As he was being booked at the police station in 2007, he tried to flee. A violent struggle ensued, according to police, and Hyde was Tasered as officers brought him under control.
He was then taken to a hospital emergency department, and later locked up for the night in a corrections facility. The next day, during another struggle with authorities, he collapsed and died, about 30 hours after being shocked with the Taser.
He is the second Nova Scotian to die after being hit with a Taser in the past four years.
Nova Scotia’s medical examiner ruled Hyde’s death accidental — a result of excited delirium due to his mental illness — and not a result of the Taser strike.
But that hasn’t stopped family members or health-care advocates asking whether he received proper psychiatric care after his arrest.
In a letter to the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, Hyde’s girlfriend Karen Ellet says Hyde was not admitted to the East Coast Forensic Hospital — which treats mentally ill people involved in the justice system — based on an examination of him by a nurse, but not a doctor.
The nurse’s decision has me boiling over, says Ellet in her letter to the Society. Since when does a nurse (make) such major decisions . . . It should have been a medical mental-health doctor.
Because of her very, very poor decision, Howard may have been alive today. He was treated as a prisoner, not as a mental-health patient.
Ellet’s letter was read to Canwest News Service by Stephen Ayer, executive director of the Schizophrenia Society, who agrees that Hyde should have been admitted to the mental-health hospital.
There’s a lot of questions we want to see addressed in this inquiry, says Ayer, and they’re all very relevant, not only to Mr. Hyde’s situation, but to people who live with mental disorders and who come into contact with the law and are restrained, or Tasered, or both.
There will be lessons out of this for the whole country, and for all police forces that deal with people who live with psychosis and become acutely agitated.
Halifax Police have said they did everything possible to restrain Hyde before using the Taser.
Provincial justice and health officials have declined to comment on the details of the case until the inquiry finishes its work.
RCMP Commissioner William Elliott announced last week that firing a Taser at an acutely agitated person does pose a risk of death, and said the force has changed its policy to only allow officers to use Tasers to protect themselves or the public.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
‘Sanism’ leads to prejudice in relating to the mentally ill
Posted by the readers’ page February 26, 2009 5:00AM
By Lindsay J. Webb
I wanted to add to the well-researched and heartbreaking article Sunday, Mentally ill bear brutal stigma.
One disorienting portion of the article noted that a mental health professional would employ punitive measures in a psychiatric facility. There is no reason a human being in a psychiatric hospital should not have a bed to sleep on.