Friday, July 30, 2010
Baby sent to foster care for 57 days because parents are blind
For two months, as Erika Johnson ached to bond with her newborn baby and her breast milk dried up, her daughter remained in the custody of Missouri's Department of Social Services.
Johnson and her boyfriend Blake Sinnett, both students, had prepared well for the birth of their first child and say they did nothing wrong. But the 24-year-olds are both blind.
Johnson delivered Mikeala on May 21 at Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, but when she had difficulty breast-feeding and the baby began to turn blue, a nurse called social services.
The case was dropped last week and Mikeala went home, but only after spending 57 days in foster care. "It was horrible," said Johnson. "There was the pain of not breastfeeding and she wasn't there. I used to cry every day, 'What if she forgets me?' The hardest part was to see her go home with someone else."
Now, the new parents are preparing to file a lawsuit claiming their civil rights were violated when they were denied the opportunity to care for their daughter. They say they want make sure it never happens to another blind couple planning to have a family.
"I'm the one that should have been waking up at, you know, one o'clock in the morning feeding her," said Johnson. "We're visually impaired, not mentally impaired. And you know we're just like everybody else, we just can't see as well."
While nursing the baby, Johnson said she sensed something was wrong and called a nurse.
"Everything was going smoothly until I had to breast feed, and there was some breast blocking the nose," said Johnson. "I asked the nurse if she was OK and she was beginning to turn blue. It could have happened to anybody."
The couple alleges the nurse was not properly trained, and the state's social service system "also has a problem with the training of its employees," according to their lawyer, Amy Coopman.
"It's a combination of multiple violations at a multiple level -- it's so egregious," she said. "At the top, it's unconstitutional. The parents had a right to raise their kid and the Constitution protects that. It's one of the oldest liberties forever. It doesn't matter if you are blind, deaf or in a wheelchair. You have the right to raise your child and they denied it for two months."
Centerpoint Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Sullivan said in a prepared statement that the welfare of patients was the hospital's "top priority."
"Legitimate concerns about the safety and well-being of any patient are reported to the appropriate authority as required under Missouri law," he said.
The hospital is "committed to providing the very best patient care for our expectant mothers and newborn babies," said spokeswoman Gene Hallinan, who said she could not comment on the specific allegations because of patient privacy.
She said that "absolutely no action" would be taken against the nurse in question. "Legally, she has to report legitimate concerns to the authorities. It's part of the statute."
False rape claim exposed in Australia
These are a dime a dozen in Britain but are much less common in Australia. These "her word against his" prosecutions should never proceed in the first place. Females are quite good at lying and often do. When they are caught out they should face the same jail sentence that the man would have got
A MAN'S business and reputation are tainted, a young woman's HSC and mental health are in tatters and prosecutors have been ordered to pay more than $30,000 in legal costs for a bungled rape investigation on Sydney's northern beaches.
But it could have been worse still, if not for the trove of secrets stored in one of the world's most popular mobile phones. In what may be the first time an iPhone's elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.
Robert*, in his 60s, was a property manager to the rich and famous and a dog breeder. Jessica* was the 18-year-old daughter of a friend, who never knew her father and dreamed of working with animals.
Their friendship blossomed as they spent mornings training his prize German shepherds. He gave her a $20,000 dog. For three months, they had sex repeatedly en route to dog shows and at a Whale Beach mansion where Elle Macpherson has stayed.
In August last year she accused him of rape. It was - and remains - a case of his word against hers.
Robert lost a job with the Catholic Church, from which he had earned more than $100,000 over the past three years, and was told he could no longer worship there.
The investigating officer, Detective Senior Constable Karen Hennessy, seized the $20,000 dog, saying it was relevant to the investigation.
The only thing standing between Robert and five sentences of up to 14 years were the messages from her on his iPhone, which he had deleted to conceal the relationship. Robert's lawyer, John Gooley from Collins & Thompson solicitors, commissioned Gary Coulthart, a former covert operations policeman and ICAC surveillance expert, to plumb the depths of Robert's iPhone.
Mr Coulthart retrieved more than 300 deleted texts and phone calls from the alleged victim, some of which appeared to undermine the allegations. Prosecutors later withdrew the charges and have been ordered to pay $30,056 of Robert's legal costs.
"Without the ability of Coulthart to drag the content out, a man's life may have been ruined," Mr Gooley said. "[iPhone evidence is] a bit like DNA. It can work both ways."
From a cohort of about 20 people in Australia with the equipment and know-how to do this sort of forensic work, Mr Coulthart said it was the first case he had seen in which an iPhone investigation commissioned by a defence lawyer has led to charges being dropped.
"Usually [when] you get engaged by the defence and they say, 'This person says they didn't do it', you find evidence that they have done it," he said.
Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since 2007 but few users know how much information they collect. The keyboard logging cache means an expert can retrieve anything typed on it for up to 12 months. Its internal mapping and "geotags" attached to photos indicate where a user has been.
An iPhone has up to 32 gigabytes of data that can be "imaged" or decoded with the right equipment, Mr Coulthart said, even if it has been deleted.
Robert wants police to investigate Jessica for causing a false investigation and is considering civil action against the police and the church. "It's put huge pressure on my home life and on my business," he said. "I had to go through the denigration of being charged and I've never been in trouble in my life."
Jessica did not want to comment.
A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said it withdrew the charges because the victim did not want to proceed and that "the brief of evidence had not been given to the ODPP at the time this matter was withdrawn".
A police spokeswoman said that, for operational reasons, it was inappropriate to comment except to say that the alleged victim had told police she did not wish to pursue the matter.
TN: Governor candidate's remarks on Islam raise uproar
Ron Ramsey's remarks on Islam raise uproar. GOP candidate tries to clarify 'cult' comment
Comments by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey suggesting that Islam might be a cult and that Muslims might not qualify for constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms drew criticism from Islamic groups Tuesday and an eruption of national media attention.
Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor, said at a mid-July campaign event in Chattanooga that he is "all about freedom of religion," which is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
"But you cross the line when they start trying to bring Sharia law into the United States," he said. "… Now you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, a way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it? We do protect our religions, but at the same time, this is something that we are going to have to face."
There are approximately 1.2 billion Muslims in the world and 7 million in the United States, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Ibrahim Hooper, that organization's national communications director, called Ramsey's comments "part of an unfortunate trend in our society."
"There's a vocal minority promoting the idea that if you can delegitimize Islam, you can deny American Muslims their religious and constitutional rights," Hooper said Tuesday.
The flap, which caught the eye of several national blogs and news organizations Tuesday, comes one week before the Republican gubernatorial primary on Aug. 5 during a Tennessee campaign season in which opinions on Islam have at times dominated the debate.
Opponents of a new mosque planned in Murfreesboro, including GOP congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik, have said it shouldn't be allowed because they believe Muslims are dangerous. But the land is zoned for religious use, and the building plan is moving forward. Public opposition forced the withdrawal of a rezoning plan for a mosque proposed in Brentwood, however, and an Antioch mosque proposal is facing resistance.
Australia: Wrongly taken girl denied visit with dying dad
There seems to be no limit to social worker evil
A FIVE-year-old girl wrongly removed from her parents was denied a visit with her dying father, even after the Ombudsman ruled DOCS bungled the case. In a horror start to her life, the girl has suffered from cancer, lost her father and spent more than two years separated from her family because of decisions that should not have been made.
DOCS will be forced to pay compensation to the family of the Sydney girl, who had never been abused or neglected.
Community Services Minister Linda Burney was notified of the case in September and this month did not override her department's decision to prevent the girl from travelling to Taiwan for her father's funeral. Yesterday she said the case was before the court until February and that it was "inappropriate for me to intervene."
Deputy Ombudsman Steve Kinmond found the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was removed after a DOCS case worker made "significant errors in her interpretation" of an interview with the girl's teenage sister.
DOCS wrongly and repeatedly told the Children's Court the teenager had claimed her brother had sexually abused her and that their mother had failed to act. Police were notified of the claims and never pursued action against the boy.
Mr Kinmond found the teenage girl's statements were "misconstrued when given to [the mother] and the Children's Court."
Errors repeated to government departments and in affidavits led to the mother being tagged as "non protective of children, unwilling to believe [her eldest daughter] and dishonest".
After her children were removed the mother admitted to disciplining her teenage daughter with a bamboo cane, leading to a conviction for assault.
Mr Kinmond found the errors were crucial in the removal of the woman's youngest child who had been diagnosed with a neuroblastoma and treated with chemotherapy when four months old.
His report was handed to DOCS on March 30 but just weeks later when the girl's father was dying of cancer, DOCS refused to let the girl's mother take her to Taiwan for his funeral. "DOCS has a hard job. I understand many children need to be removed. That was not the case here; it has been a total miscarriage of justice," Opposition Community Services spokeswoman Pru Goward said.
DOCS has offered an "unconditional apology" to the mother and wrote "it is clear information wrongly summarised from an interview was relied upon in court."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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