Saturday, November 19, 2011
Unbelievable: Woman left to die because of British "safety" rules
Death would be too kind for the guy responsible
A Lawyer who fell 45ft down a mine shaft died after fire chiefs refused to mount an immediate rescue operation because of health and safety fears. Alison Hume, 44, was left lying in agony in the cold and dark for eight hours with several broken bones.
A report into her death yesterday found she could have survived if rank-and-file firemen had been allowed to do their job and bring her out. One fireman had been lowered down while a paramedic was strapped up in a harness ready to follow.
But bosses refused to use a winch to lift out the mother-of-two because they were slavishly following rules which said the equipment could only be used to save their own staff. Instead they waited through the early hours of the morning for a police mountain rescue team to arrive.
Mrs Hume was lifted out but died shortly afterwards from a heart attack brought on by hypothermia.
Last night her stepfather Hugh Cowan, 69, said: ‘They need to ask why people are using health and safety as an excuse for failure, rather than a reason for success.’
The case is the latest example of emergency service personnel putting their safety ahead of those they are supposed to be rescuing. Ten-year-old Jordan Lyon, of Wigan, drowned in a pond in 2007 after two police community support officers said they were unable to help him due to health and safety regulations.
Earlier this year coroner David Roberts said the emergency services must be prepared to ‘risk their lives’ after hearing how red tape cost vital minutes during Derrick Bird’s Cumbrian gun massacre.
She was found by her teenage daughter before Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service arrived and fireman Alexander Dunn was lowered to the bottom of the shaft.
Mrs Hume was still conscious but had a collapsed lung, several broken ribs and a broken sternum.
While the rescue operation was in progress, group commander Paul Stewart arrived as a media relations officer. He assumed command after realising he was the most senior officer there.
His first move was to stop a paramedic who was already strapped in a harness from being lowered. And he refused to allow colleagues to rescue her using ropes because they had not received the correct training. Mr Stewart feared they could be sued if the mission failed.
Incredibly, he told a fatal accident inquiry that the operation had a ‘successful outcome’ because the casualty was ultimately removed from the shaft.
Mr Stewart is still in the fire service and is on the waiting list for promotion to divisional commander. Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service expressed ‘enormous regret’, but refused to apologise until after the report was published last night.
In the report Sheriff Desmond Leslie said Mrs Hume might have survived if she had been removed sooner. He said Mr Stewart and colleague William Thomson were ‘focused on self-justification for the action or non-action taken by them’ and did not reflect on lessons that could be learned from the tragedy. The sheriff added: ‘I found their evidence bullish, if not arrogant.’
The sheriff criticised the fire service's failure to recognise the urgency of a rescue, noting the firefighter had told the inquiry 'there was not a huge concern about the time'
Yesterday Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond ordered a fresh inquiry. Mrs Hume’s mother Margaret Cowan, 67, said ‘the public will lose all confidence in the fire service’ if the inquiry fails to ‘lead to something positive’. She added: ‘Some people have said to me that if the same thing happened again, they wouldn’t even phone 999 – they would get a rope and do the rescue themselves.’
And Mrs Hume’s father Ian McEwan described his daughter’s death as ‘a needless waste of life’. He said his granddaughter Jayne, 17, still had nightmares about finding her mother, adding: ‘She knew when she cried down to her mum that she was still alive.’
He added: ‘I hope no other family finds themselves in the same situation as we did.’ And Mr Cowan said he felt the fire service’s apology had been ‘forced upon them’.
He added: ‘I just feel have they been prompted by the fact that the First Minister has asked for an inquiry. ‘They did not seem interested in apologising yesterday or earlier today. It’s difficult to see whether I can honestly accept it under the circumstances.’
Former watch commander John Bowman – who had been ordered to rewrite the rule book on rope rescues weeks before the tragedy – yesterday spoke out against his former employers.
Mr Bowman, 52, had warned bosses that changing the rules to prevent firemen using ropes to rescue people was ‘a disaster waiting to happen’.
He said: ‘Many incidents you go to in the brigade don’t end with a successful resolution. Sometimes the person can be dead before you get there, sometimes you just can’t help people. This was not the case for Mrs Hume. It’s not the fire service’s finest hour.’
Last night the Chief Fire Officers Association said there was no uniform approach to the uses of winches in forces across Britain.
However, it said that health and safety legislation must not be ‘allowed to constrain incident commanders when making decisions in dynamic emergency situations’.
On the sexual (and political) exploitation of children
Of all the child sex abuse allegations levied against retired Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, none perhaps is more disturbing than the report that he used his non-profit foundation Second Mile to gain access to young boys — not only for himself, but for donors to his organization. Sexually assaulting children is by itself a monstrous act to contemplate; the idea that they may be pimped out to others is nearly unfathomable.
Yet to hear the mainstream media report it might lead one to believe that the problem of child sexual slavery is reaching horrifying levels in the U. S., and while it’s certainly not something to be ignored, it’s also not the “epidemic” the alarmists — and especially law enforcement — have portrayed it as.
One example of this media-fueled hysteria is a report released in September 2010 by the Women’s Funding Network, which earned them a national spotlight, not to mention an invitation from a House subcommittee, before which WFN chief program officer Deborah Richardson breathlessly warned that child prostitution was “exploding” in the U. S. — anywhere from 20 percent in New York to 65 percent in Minnesota. Lock up your daughters!
The study focused in particular on classified ad sites such as Backpage.com and Craigslist, whose adult sections, it claimed, were enabling the rapid expansion of the child sex trade. Craigslist succumbed to pressure brought by numerous U. S. Attorneys and closed its adult section, but The Village Voice, whose parent company owns Backpage, decided to do its own review of the study, and found it was based on looking at the pictures of girls in sex ads on the Internet — and making assumptions that a certain percentage of those ads must be for underage sex workers. There was nothing remotely scientific about the data acquisition or methodology; the research group almost literally made up most of the data.
Despite its questionable methods and conclusions, the study’s findings blew across the media landscape like a summer wildfire. Its numbers were reported without any critical analysis in papers such as USA Today and the Detroit Free Press, and cited by actress (and sex trafficking activist) Demi Moore, whose Web site still links to the WFN study.
None of this means that the child sex trade doesn’t exist, or that there aren’t a lot more Jerry Sanduskys lurking out there. But it does mean that publicizing bogus studies without any critical context can lead to bad policy decisions by lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. And we end up with Megan’s Law and Jessica’s Law and the Adam Walsh Act and other ill-conceived laws, all named after dead kids to make them seem critical to civilization’s continued existence, and not the further expansion of state power that they really are.
The air had barely escaped an Orlando courtroom following the Casey Anthony trial, in which she was found not guilty of murdering her two-year-old daughter, before an activist began pushing for a “Caylee’s Law”, which would have made it a felony for parents not to report a missing child within 24 hours. It is precisely during these times of high emotion, when sensationalized cases of crimes against children make headlines and inflame radio personalities, that such laws should not be considered. For they often serve only to increase the power of the police state without doing much to protect their intended beneficiaries. Politically popular and emotionally resonant they may be, but dead kids make for bad laws.
Raising awareness of social ills is important, but so is truth and justice, and the media serve neither when they engage in reporting that looks less like responsible journalism and more like alarmist propaganda for an ever-encroaching state.
PETA Slams 'Pro-Fur' Super Mario
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has set its sights on iconic video game character Mario for wearing fur in Nintendo’s latest 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land.
Since the game launched Sunday, the organization has launched a scathing online campaign entitled “Mario Kills Tanooki.” In Nintendo's new game, Mario sometimes dons the skin of a tanooki, which is a Japanese raccoon dog.
“Tanooki may be just a suit in the game, but in real life tanuki are raccoon dogs who are skinned alive for their fur,” PETA’s site states. “By wearing a Tanooki, Mario is sending the message that it is OK to wear fur.”
To make their point, the site also features a disturbing video of real tanuki being abused by workers in the Japanese fur trade accompanied by a image of a bloodied Mario holding the head of a dead raccoon dog.
The jarring imagery falls in line with PETA’s aggressive and often controversial media campaigns. As part of its anti-fur action, members have attacked fashion shows with red paint. The organization has also vigorously recruited celebrities and supermodels to pose for the group’s “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign.
For Nintendo, the raccoon suit isn’t a fresh development. Mario first wore a Tanooki in 1988 with the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
In both games, the suits typically spring from special magic squares in the form of a feather.
"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games," a Nintendo spokesman told Eurogamer in a statement. “These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself.”
“These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play. The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."
NY Officials: Museum is “Christian Bashing”
A group of New York lawmakers and public officials are demanding that a taxpayer-funded museum in Brooklyn remove an art exhibit that includes a film depicting ants crawling on a crucifix – calling it another example of “Christian bashing.”
“This is an outrageous use of taxpayer money by the nation’s second-largest art museum, and an obvious attempt to offend Christians on the eve of one of the holiest times of the Christian faith,” wrote Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro in a letter to the museum director.
A total of seven Conservatives and Republicans signed the letter. Molinaro said Democratic lawmakers were also invited to sign, but he said they all declined.
“It’s fashionable to beat up on the Christians,” he told Fox News. “No one complains about it.”
“A Fire in My Belly” is part of a larger collection going on display at the Brooklyn Museum that explores how gender and sexual identity have shaped American art. The film, by David Wojnarowicz, was pulled from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., after members of Congress expressed outrage and a Catholic advocacy group labeled the art “sacrilegious.”
This same museum once featured an exhibit that showed Mother Mary covered in elephant dung.
Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold Lehman defended the film telling the Associated Press it was “such an important aspect of American art in the 20th century.”
“My hope is that this will be an extraordinarily important way in which to bring the entire city together to celebrate American art during this last century,” he told the AP.
Lehman declined to comment on the lawmaker’s letter. The museum said it encourages patrons with concerns about the artwork to view it in person.
“That’s the dumbest statement a man can make,” Molinaro told Fox News. “What is it to look at? Does it get better if I look at ants crawling up the nostril of Jesus?”
“It’s absolutely outrageous,” he said. “They’re bashing the Christians continuously at that museum.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to cut funding from the museum in 1999 after it featured an exhibit that depicted Mary with African features and included clumps of elephant dung and cutouts of female genitalia.
“This is New York City,” Lehman told the AP. “This is a city that has thrived on the incredible contributions from the gay and lesbian community.”
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) was one of the lawmakers who signed Molinaro’s letter. He said this is not a First Amendment issue.
“It’s an issue of how we spend our taxpayer dollars,” he told Fox News. “Everyone has a right to express themselves. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right to go around offending massive groups of people and have other people pay for it.”
Molinaro and Grimm said the issue should transcend religions.
“I’m a very proud Catholic,” Grimm said. “Do I find this offensive as a Christian? Yes. But I also find it offensive as an American. If it was Islam or if it was Judaism, I would be just as offended as an American.”
“I’m against anything derogatory towards anyone’s faith,” Molinaro said.
And that’s why he’s calling on not just New Yorkers, but people across the country to turn up the heat – and urge the museum to reconsider.
“Everyone should come out against this – regardless if you are a Christian,” he said. “If everyone came out against it, I believe a difference would be made.”
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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