October 25th, 2010
October 25th, 2010
An agency nurse was filmed turning off a paralysed patient's life-support machine after he set up a camera in his bedroom.
Violeta Aylward, an agency nurse working for the NHS, was caught on camera turning off the ventilator keeping quadriplegic Jamie Merrett alive.
The 37-year-old, left paralysed from the neck down following a car accident in 2002, had a bedside camera set up at his home after becoming concerned about the standard of care he was receiving.
Footage recorded only a few days after it was installed shows Miss Aylward fiddling with the ventilator before a high-pitched warning tone sounds, indicating it is switched off.
Mr Merrett is then left fighting for life as the nurse panics about what to do next, unable to restart the ventilator or properly operate resuscitation equipment.
It was not until 21 minutes later that paramedics who rushed to the scene managed to turn the life support machine back on.
But by that time, Mr Merrett had suffered serious brain damage, which has left him with the mental capacity of a young child.
Before the incident, he was able to talk, use a wheelchair and operate a computer using voice-activated technology.
His family claims that the brain damage has severely diminished his quality of life, and he is now mounting legal action.
Miss Aylward, who was caring for Mr Merrett at his home in Devizes, Wilts, has been suspended while the incident is investigated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Ambition 24hours, the agency which supplied her, said it could not comment as an internal investigation was ongoing.
The NHS Wiltshire Primary Care Trust, which was responsible for providing care for Mr Merrett, said it was unable to comment due to pending legal action.
Karren Reynolds, Mr Merrett’s sister, told the BBC’s Inside Out programme: "His life is completely changed. He doesn't have a life now.
"He has an existence but it's nowhere near what it was before. He is very brain damaged compared to what he was before.
“He was a highly intelligent man and you could have long in-depth conversations with him and now it tends to be more simplistic."
She added that her brother has become increasingly worried about alleged errors involving nurses operating his ventilator in the weeks before the incident.
Mr Merrett had written to the trust by email, warning of his concerns but that nothing was done, she claimed.
A confidential report by Wiltshire social services into the incident – leaked to Inside Out – concluded that the agency was fully aware it was required to supply a nurse with training in the use of a ventilator.
The report says the company did not have adequate systems in place to check what training their staff had received.
Mr Merrett’s solicitor, Seamus Edney, said: “In my experience, this is the worst case of negligence.
"No one has come forward to make any admission, so now almost two years after the event we are trying to get someone to admit liability for what has happened."
In a statement, NHS Wiltshire Primary Care Trust said: "The PCT has investigated the incident in January 2009 when the patient’s ventilator care was compromised.
"We have apologised to the patient and his family for this, and have put in place a series of actions to ensure that such an event will not occur again either for this patient or others.
"The incident is the subject of likely litigation so the PCT is restricted in what further it may say in public."
Miss Aylward, 55, from Reading, Berks, has not commented on the case.
October 25th, 2010
Nor was his greeting totally friendly in Rhode Island where Obama has pointedly declined to endorse his party's candidate for governor.
Obama can "take his endorsement and shove it," declared Democrat Frank Caprio, battling Republican-turned-independent Lincoln Chafee in a gubernatorial race rated tight in the polls. Chafee endorsed Obama during the 2008 campaign for the White House.
In a little more than five hours in the state, Obama was booked for a factory tour and for a pair of fundraisers that party officials said would bring in $500,000.
He said Republicans had driven the economy into a ditch and then stood by and criticized while Democrats pulled it out. Now that progress has been made, he said, "we can't have special interests sitting shotgun. We gotta have middle class families up in front. We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back."
Democrats relied on more than the president's time to boost their chances in the final days of the campaign. There was the matter of federal funds, too, in the form of hundreds of millions in grants announced during the day to provide high speed rail service in California, between Chicago and Iowa, and elsewhere. Administration officials left it to Democratic lawmakers to make the announcements, and they did, stressing the job-creating potential of the expansions.
Eight days before the election, the principal uncertainty concerned the size and scope of anticipated Democratic losses in the House, the Senate, governor's races and state legislatures.
An Associated Press-GfK Poll showed that perhaps one-third of all voters have yet to firmly settle on their choices. But that wasn't encouraging for the Democrats, either. Some 45 percent of them prefer the Republican candidate for the House, and 38 percent like the Democrat.
The president arrived as official figures showed more than 6.5 million ballots already have been cast in the 25 states where early voting is permitted or where absentees have been counted, underscoring the importance of get-out-the-vote programs that now begin long before Election Day.
Democrats have invested heavily in such efforts and are counting on them to help tip close races their way in states like Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faces tea party-backed challenger Sharron Angle. Republicans are counting on campaign enthusiasm — polls agree their voters are more eager to cast ballots than Democrats — as well as their own get-out-the-vote efforts.
Even Democrats concede Republicans are poised for significant gains in Congress, and GOP officials are particularly optimistic about their chances for taking control of the House.
Based on opinion polls and the private assessments of strategists in both parties, it appears Republicans have effectively secured about two dozen of the 40 seats they need to win control of the House.
That leaves dozens of seats where races are competitive in the House and a half-dozen or so in the Senate. Republicans also look for statehouse gains.
Obama's choice of Rhode Island for his one-day trip was partially to raise money for Democratic House candidates elsewhere in the country. Officials said the $500,000 would be split between Providence Mayor David Cicilline, who is running for the House, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The state has two House seats, one held by Democratic Rep. James Langevin, an incumbent in no apparent difficulty; the other being vacated by Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy. There, Cicilline is running against Republican John Loughlin in a heavily Democratic state.
The state's unemployment is measured at 11.5 percent, the fourth highest in the country. In his first stop, the president visited a company that makes buckles and straps for outdoor and travel gear, saying he and the Democrats in Congress have cut small business taxes 16 times in 20 months. Republicans "talk a good game" when it comes to tax cuts, he said, but in fact they opposed several bills he labored to get passed.
"It's not enough to just play politics," he said. "You can't focus on the next election. You've got to focus on the next generation."
Caprio called Obama's rebuff "Washington insider politics at its worst." Rhode Island's congressional delegation expressed disapproval about Caprio's remarks, but the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association said the president's decision was disappointing.
"Frank Caprio has spent his career fighting for the values of the Democratic Party. He deserves the full support of our party and its leaders," said executive director Nathan Daschle.
If anything, the White House made it clearer that Caprio will not get Obama's endorsement. "Out of respect for his friend Lincoln Chafee, the president decided not to get involved in this race," said White House spokesman Bill Burton. It was the first time the White House had cited Chafee as the reason for Obama's non-endorsement of a Democrat.
White House aides also arranged for Obama to tour a factory as part of a campaign-long effort to showcase efforts by his administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress to assist small businesses. In a conference call to reporters on Sunday night, they said American Cord & Webbing had been able to hire back all of the employees laid off last year and was planning on hiring more. They said the company won approval from the Small Business Administration last month for a loan to make possible an expansion of the facility.
Coast to coast, the multimillion-dollar ad war continued unabated.
The Republican Senate campaign committee announced it would put $3 million into a final-week fleet of ads designed to help Carly Fiorina defeat Sen. Barbara Boxer in a California race that is close in the polls.
Democrats hastened to Reid's side in Nevada. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., became the latest lawmaker to send out an urgent e-mail fundraising appeal for the top Democrat.
It said the same wealthy Texans who attacked his Vietnam War record during the 2004 presidential campaign were now aiming at Reid. "These guys will say anything and spend anything to get what they want," Kerry wrote.
Obama was returning to the White House for a few days before resuming campaigning at week's end. His itinerary then will include Bridgeport, Conn., where party officials are hoping he can mobilize African-Americans whose votes are needed in races for the Senate and governor, as well as a re-election bid by Democratic Rep. Jim Himes.
Obama also will campaign in Pennsylvania, where polls show Rep. Joe Sestak in a close race with Republican Pat Toomey — for a Senate seat that Democrats currently hold. Similarly, there are numerous Democratic-held House seats in the state that Obama is working to hold.
Later stops are in Ohio, where Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland is struggling to win a new term against Republican challenger John Kasich, and the president's home state of Illinois, where polls show both a Senate seat and the governor's office are in danger of falling to the Republicans.
October 25th, 2010
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 25, 2010; C01
These days, he can claim to be many things: political satirist, pseudo-anchorman, media critic, author, successful businessman, philanthropist, Emmy Award magnet. On Monday he arrives in Washington in a new, self-anointed role: as our national voice of reason, moderation and rationality -- a uniter, you might say, not a divider.
Jon Stewart's Saturday afternoon "Rally to Restore Sanity" (merged with partner-in-satire Stephen Colbert's concurrent "March to Keep Fear Alive") may become the largest "nonpartisan" event to hit the national Mall since . . . well, since a couple of months ago, when another basic-cable TV star, Glenn Beck, hosted his "Restoring Honor" rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Beck claimed his event was nonpartisan, too.
With less than a week to go, it's still not exactly clear how Stewart will be using this new platform. No guests or musical acts have been announced, Stewart has done only a couple media interviews, and he's offered few details about the rally on his nightly program.
Nevertheless, the similarities to Beck's rally are just the sort of thing Stewart himself would satirize on his show if, of course, it weren't his rally and his TV show in the first place. In his few pre-rally comments, Stewart has reached for some of the broad values and high-minded themes that Beck's did -- civility, decency, making America better -- though admittedly with fewer religious allusions and more comic panache. And whereas Beck undercut his claim of non-political intent by inviting Sarah Palin to be his co-star, Stewart may have undercut his by allying with a couple of noted liberals, Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey. He'll also get a nice plug this week, while here at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall to tape "The Daily Show," from President Obama, scheduled to appear on the show on Wednesday.
Stewart has also insisted that the timing of the gathering is coincidental to the midterm election three days later, a statement that has faint echoes of Beck's disclaimer that his event was inadvertently scheduled on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Stewart, 47, has never claimed to be anything more than a guy trying to get laughs on "a fake news program on basic cable," as he puts it. While that surely understates his case, it comports with his background as a stand-up comic and entertainer.
Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) rattled around the stand-up comedy circuit after graduating from William & Mary in 1984 before landing a memorable role on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show" in the early 1990s. This was followed by hosting gigs on several long-forgotten MTV and Comedy Central shows and a few better-forgotten movie roles ("Half Baked"). He landed at "The Daily Show's" desk in 1999 as Craig Kilborn's replacement.
Since then, Stewart's stature as a news source, kingmaker and sociocultural figure has grown apace, abetted in no small part by "The Daily Show's" skeptical "reporting" on the Bush administration, the news media and politics in general. The show has even spawned an academic cottage industry of scholars who probe the program's impact on society.
'A watershed moment'
It's true that the 11 p.m. broadcast of "The Daily Show" (which runs Monday through Thursday) plays to a relatively modest crowd -- an average of just 1.8 million viewers a night thus far in October. But that doesn't count four daily repeats on Comedy Central, which nearly double the program's daily audience to 3.5 million. This means Stewart has roughly the same number of viewers as "Nightline," David Letterman or Jay Leno, and a bigger audience than any show on the cable news networks except "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel.
Add in the untold millions who see "DS" clips embedded on Facebook pages, blogs and Web sites, or read about him in the mainstream media (media types love yakking about "The Daily Show"), and you've got a cultural force that transcends mere "basic cable."
"He is mobilizing people like Glenn Beck does, but I suspect his cultural influence surpasses Beck's," says Geoffrey Baym, a media studies professor at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, who wrote one of the first scholarly studies of "The Daily Show" in 2005. "[Beck] has a narrow but very committed audience whereas Stewart resonates much wider with people who are fed up with the polemical aspects" of national affairs. "He's reaching a watershed moment."
Nor is Stewart's news entirely fake. Much has been written about "The Daily Show" as legitimate news, particularly among young viewers who've grown up watching Stewart. An often-cited study by the Pew Research Center in 2004 found that almost as many people under 30 (21 percent) relied on comedy shows such as Stewart's for information about the presidential campaign as relied on the networks' evening newscasts (23 percent).
In a follow-up study in 2006, Julia R. Fox of Indiana University found something even more startling: "The Daily Show" contained roughly the same amount of audio and visual "substance" in its political stories as the network newscasts (on the other hand, Fox noted, neither source was all that substantial).
Whether watching "The Daily Show" makes you smarter has been an emerging question among academics, who seem as much in love with "The Daily Show" as journalists. But Lauren Feldman, an assistant professor at American University, suggests in a forthcoming collection of academic research about Stewart and Colbert that Stewart's program has raised viewer awareness of science and environmental issues.
"In most cases, people are already bringing some knowledge to the show," Feldman says, echoing comments Stewart has made. "You need some background knowledge to [get the satire]. I would say that the people who are watching are broadly interested in politics but are not necessarily well-versed in its nuances."
Some research backs this up. Another survey, this one from 2007, classified 54 percent of the "Daily Show" audience as "high-knowledge" viewers, based on a current-events test. This equaled the percentage of those who were readers of major newspaper Web sites and slightly exceeded viewers of "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" on PBS, "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox or NPR's regular listeners.
Stewart's political clout has been evident since at least 2003, when former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) announced his presidential candidacy on the show. Democratic candidate John Kerry was a guest in 2004, and candidate Barack Obama made the now obligatory pilgrimage to the program's studios in New York's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood a few days before the 2008 election. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whom Stewart calls a friend, was a frequent guest. President Bush was never a guest.
Just as he giveth a platform for politicians and presidents, Stewart can taketh away, too. Stewart's breakthrough moment may have been his 2004 appearance on the CNN show "Crossfire," in which he denounced the "partisan hackery" of the program to its flummoxed hosts, Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala. The clip quickly went viral on the Internet; when CNN canceled "Crossfire" a few weeks later, the network's new president said, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise."
The media challenge
The notion that the media emphasize conflict rather than offering illumination or accountability is at the heart of "The Daily Show's" daily take. Baym says the program has offered "an important new model of journalism," that abandons traditional ideas about "objectivity" or "neutrality" and instead challenges the underlying veracity of official claims and statements. A staple of the show is a clip of a politician or official saying one thing, followed by the same official saying something contradictory a few weeks or months earlier, followed by Stewart with a look of mock-horror or surprise.
"He's really creating a discussion around those clips," Feldman says. "He's promoting discourse and activism. I think he's teaching people a form of media literacy and making them more discerning and skeptical. He's not replacing what journalists do -- gathering the facts -- but he is challenging the media to think more broadly about what they're doing and how they're doing it."
Nevertheless, there are many, including Feldman, who don't view Stewart and his program as above politics or partisanship. "The Daily Show's" popularity soared as a direct result of its relentless satirical broadsides against the Bush administration. While it certainly hasn't ignored Obama's foibles and missteps, the critique seems less frequent and more subdued. One telling statistic: During Bush's two terms, only one Cabinet member, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, appeared on the show. During President Obama's first two years, six Cabinet secretaries have been guests, plus the head of the EPA, and first lady Michelle Obama.
At the same time, much of Stewart's media criticism has focused on Fox News, the most overtly conservative of the three cable news networks.
"I won't deny his partisanship," Feldman says. "It's quite obvious to many viewers. He doesn't point out the absurdity of the left as much as the right, but he will do it. But I do think he is nonpartisan in his desire to create more civil dialogue."
Baym agrees that the program and its host are "center-left" but "it's a mistake to try to put it on a straight left-right continuum. I don't think Stewart wants to be typecast as another liberal player. That undermines him. . . . He's a progressive but his bias is toward reasonableness."
And so, a mass gathering with the stated aim of being nice. Is that a role a satirist can really play?
CR NOTE: We at CR have often enjoyed the humor of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, but can't help but note how their apparent "welcome" involvement (from the Leftward-Leaning) in the actual political process disparages the integrity of the ENTIRE process. They are COMEDIANS. Satirical pundits, at best.
October 25th, 2010