Friday, April 17, 2009

The useless British police allow a woman to be killed

Immigrant stabbed wife to death after police refused help

A woman was stabbed to death by her husband in front of their two children hours after police had refused to escort her to a women’s refuge, a jury was told yesterday. Cassandra Hasanovic, 24, died in hospital after suffering wounds to her chest, back and buttocks. Hajrudin Hasanovic, 33, was about to be deported to his native Serbia when he dragged his English wife from her mother’s car and attacked her with a kitchen knife. He admits manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

Lewes Crown Court was told that Mrs Hasanovic had just won a residence order for her children, Sam, 4, and Adam, 2, but she feared that her estranged husband was determined to kill her. Hours before the stabbing in July last year police had visited her at her home in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. She was “terrified” but they refused to drive her to a safe house, said Philippa McAtasney, QC, opening the case for the prosecution.

Instead, she got a lift from her mother. She was in the car and the doors were locked when Hasanovic began a “shocking, vicious and violent attack”. He tried to open the door, wrenching off the handle, and in the panic that ensued, Mrs Hasanovic’s mother accidentally deactivated the central locking. He then dragged his wife from the car and killed her. The jury at Lewes Crown Court was told that Hasanovic fled after telling his mother-in-law: “See what you have done. I just wanted one hour. See what you have done.”

Ms McAtasney said that he was a “paranoid and jealous” partner. The couple’s five-year marriage ended when he was charged with sexually assaulting her in May 2007. Mrs Hasanovic fled to Australia, where she hoped to be able to fight to keep her children living with her. But a court there insisted that she return to Britain and go through the British courts. Ms McAtasney said: “She obeyed the court order at the cost of her life.”

Police were called to a number of confrontations between the couple and gave her a panic alarm. At one court hearing for breaching a non-molestation order, Hasanovic was said to have approached his wife and told her: “You’re f***ing with the wrong person, you know that.”

On the day of the killing, Mrs Hasanovic made another statement to police and told them that she was going to a women’s refuge arranged by the local council. She asked for a police escort but was told that it was not possible.

Mr Hasanovic, of Southsea, Hampshire, was arrested after he dialled 999 and said: “I need the police, I’ve done something bad, I stabbed my ex-wife.” He told police that he had not intended to kill her.


We mustn’t warm to this myth

Comment from England

EVERY totalitarian regime needs its defining myth. With the Nazis, it was the “Aryan” fantasy of racial purity. With the USSR, it was the dictatorship of the proletariat. With secularised, semi-pagan Western societies in historic decline, it is global warming.

Sometimes comparisons among these are alarming. For example, Ed Miliband, the climate change minister, has said that opposing wind farms is “socially unacceptable”. How long before global warming denial becomes an offence, like holocaust denial? The Government seizes approvingly on outrageous remarks by such as Dr James Hansen, who wrote in a national newspaper: “The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.”

What I find bewildering is that the Greens, who claim to care for the environment, are so strongly in favour of wind farms, which are a kind of pollution of the countryside. What’s more, they don’t work very efficiently. So why ruin the countryside for the sake of obsessed environmentalists’ gesture politics? Millions of British people enjoy our glorious countryside as a natural environment which provides an antidote to the stress of urban life. It is nothing short of wickedness to foul this delight with useless wind farms.

To their credit, some governments are coming to see the uselessness of the wind turbines. Germany and Spain are losing their enthusiasm for wind power because, as reported by The Scientific Alliance, “...of the need to run back-up conventional power stations”.

It is meteorologists and other scientists who point out that settled spells of either very hot or very cold weather – the weather that creates the greatest demand for electrical power – occur when there is no wind. So, when electricity demand is at its peak, wind turbines are static and produce nothing.

Global warming is not indisputable. Thousands of highly qualified and experienced scientists question it. But the problem is that global warming is not being treated as a theory, a possibility, but as a truth of nature on a par with the law of gravity. It is the unassailable myth of the new totalitarians.

I wouldn’t want you to think this is just Mullen shooting from the hip. I have been avidly reading scientific papers and reports and, while there are those who believe global warming is taking place, there are thousands of reputable scientists who deny it.

This is entirely as it should be. Rigorous examination of hypotheses is the very basis of science. And this is what is being asked for by, among other intelligent sources, The Scientific Alliance. I quote: “The whole juggernaut of global warming is based on a framework which accepts the International Panel on Climate Change’s view of the enhanced greenhouse effect as indisputable truth. Hence the refusal to concede that any degree of scepticism or a different interpretation of evidence is legitimate.

So it is even more important for critical points to be raised and debate encouraged. Scientific understanding will benefit from this: and the better the understanding, the better any necessary response can be formulated.” This is the reasonable approach and a long way from Ed Miliband’s dark words about what is “socially acceptable” and the disgraceful invocation of “death trains”.


BBC admits bias against Israel

The BBC’s Middle East editor breached the broadcaster’s rules on impartiality and accuracy in his coverage of conflict in the region, the corporation’s internal watchdog concluded today. Jeremy Bowen breached internal guidelines in an article posted on the BBC’s website and in a report on the Radio 4 programme From Our Own Correspondent, the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee ruled.

In a piece for the website written in 2007 explaining the historical significance of the Six-Day War in 1967, Bowen wrote of Israel's “defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own”. Although it rejected the majority of the complaints about inaccuracy, the committee said that with this and other comments the journalist had failed to use the “clear, precise language” needed when covering such a sensitive subject as the Middle East. Also finding that the article had breached impartiality rules, the trust said that Bowen had failed to acknowledge that there were views contrary to his own.

The committee said: “Readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war.”

In Bowen’s report for From Our Own Correspondent, on January 12 last year, he said that the US Government considered Har Homa, an Israeli settlement south of Jerusalem, to be illegal. The committee, however, said that claim breached accuracy rules because Bowen had failed to acknowledge that the information came from his own “authoritative source”, rather than official channels. It dismissed other complaints about accuracy and impartiality.

BBC journalists are subjected to some of the fiercest scrutiny of any media organisation in the world, and the corporation regularly receives complaints about its coverage of the Middle East, from both sides.

In January the corporation was attacked by supporters of the Palestinian cause after it refused to screen an appeal made by the Disasters Emergency Committee for aid to Gaza, citing impartiality concerns.

In 2006 The Thomas Report, an external examination of the corporation’s coverage of the conflict, found that there was no systematic or deliberate bias. The BBC is currently engaged in a High Court battle to try to stop the release of a similar internal document, The Balen Report, written in 2004 to examine the corporation’s coverage.


The NHS killed my mother: MP Nigel Evans reveals how a routine operation ended in horror

Total indifference to patient welfare

The last, harrowing moments of my mother's life will live for ever in the collective memory of my family. An 86-year-old lady of infinite grace and dignity, she had the most agonising of deaths. Lying bewildered and distressed in an NHS hospital bed, her body racked with pain, she kept desperately grabbing at the air with her hands as if she was drowning, while all the time being violently ill.

'It was torture, worse than a horror film. We felt so helpless,' says my sister, Louise, who witnessed the tragic scene. But it should never have been like this. My dear mother should have been able to depart this earth in serenity and peace, not forced to go through such a traumatic experience. The reasons for her ordeal can, I believe, be found in a mixture of neglect, incompetence and indifference shown by the NHS.

For my mother died of the notorious superbug Clostridium difficile, known as C.diff, which she must have contracted while undergoing hospital treatment in Swansea. If she had been cared for properly, if the ward had been cleaner or greater urgency had been shown in handling her case, then this tragedy might never have happened.

The NHS is often a saviour, but it can also be a killer. What happened to my mother is all too common in the health service. There were 8,324 deaths from C.diff in 2007, with most of the victims elderly people. That statistic is too high for a 21st century healthcare system in an advanced industrialised country. Moreover, an estimated 59,000 people in this country are disabled or die because of poor hygiene or care in our hospitals.

Even the essentials, such as providing patients with sufficient fluids or cleaning bathrooms properly, are neglected. That is why I am campaigning for drastic improvements in the basics of healthcare in the NHS, so deaths from C.diff and other superbugs can be eliminated. I have demanded an investigation into the circumstances surrounding my mother's death at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea, but I also want the lessons of this episode to be learned much more widely, so that Britain has a health service that meets the needs of its users, not one that carries the risk of killing them.

My mother's case encapsulates the best and worst of the NHS. On one hand, she had the highest quality treatment from a leading surgeon after she was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. On the other, when she returned to hospital for a routine operation - unconnected with the cancer - she received nothing like the same expert, attentive care. That is almost certainly why she contracted C.diff and why medical staff were too slow in responding to symptoms. It seems as if there is a deep contradiction within the NHS, pulling the service in two directions. We have phenomenal advances in drugs, medical technology and surgery, which can conquer-disease and prolong life in a way that would have been revolutionary only two decades ago. Yet, at the same time, we have abandoned the most basic standards of hygiene and care.

My mother deserved better from the NHS. Determined, kind and diligent, she was a pillar of strength, not just to my family but to the community in her area of Swansea, where she and my late father ran a newsagent's shop. After my father died, she carried on working until she was 85. She was a wonderful mother, instilling her strong sense of morality in me and my siblings and giving us the best possible education. With her ethic of service, she was the reason I became involved in politics. Her unwavering maternal devotion was a tremendous source of support. Whenever I became disillusioned, she urged me to keep going, and I became Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley in Lancashire. Now she is gone - and in the grimmest way imaginable.

The heart-breaking saga began at Christmas, when we noticed she was not her usual cheerful self, had lost her appetite and complained about not being able to swallow properly. We arranged for her to undergo tests. Cancer of the oesophagus was diagnosed quickly. She was in the care of James Manson, an excellent specialist at the Singleton Hospital. I was aware of Mr Manson's brilliant work because 11 years earlier he'd operated on my brother to combat oesophageal cancer. The prognosis for my brother had been bleak, yet more than a decade later, he is still with us - a tribute to Mr Manson's skill.

The same wonders were performed on my mother. After an initial failed attempt to fit a stent in her throat to push back the tumour, he refused to give up and tried again. The second procedure was a success, and Mr Manson told my sister Louise that the tumour was 'not as bad as I thought'. Radiating confidence, he said there was no reason why my mother could not live another two years or more. So when she returned home, the family was in a positive frame of mind. But then the real problems started - and they were nothing to do with cancer.

In March, my mother had to go into the Singleton Hospital again for the removal of a gallstone. It was the most routine of operations and initially appeared to have been a success. But during her overnight stay in hospital, she developed a high temperature, so bedclothes were removed and a window opened to try to cool her. The next day, Wednesday, March 18, she was discharged.

What surprised me was that she was sent home without having seen a doctor. A nurse gave her approval for the discharge. Just as disturbing were my sisters' reports of the lack of hygiene in the hospital. There was litter under my mother's bed, and the toilets did not seem to have been cleaned properly.

Though we were told the gallstone removal had been a success, my mother was not well, complaining of severe stomach pains. Her distress was all the more difficult to watch because she was not a woman to complain. But her condition was so bad by Friday that my sister Louise decided she had to be brought back to hospital. There, she was rehydrated intravenously and given painkillers, anti-sickness tablets and some laxatives, the last a rather odd choice given that she had not complained of bowel problems.

Discharged once more, she seemed much better on Saturday. But then she deteriorated rapidly. That Sunday, Mother's Day, she was quiet and had lost her appetite. Then on Monday, she had the first bouts of chronic sickness and diarrhoea that were to plague her last days. At first, my sister thought her quietness and disturbed stomach were related to nerves at having to embark on the first radiotherapy session for her cancer that day. But her condition was too serious for this to be the explanation. On Tuesday, she was so weak she could hardly walk down the stairs.

After further consultation with the GP, more anti-sickness tablets were prescribed, but they did not alleviate the problems. Yet even in the midst of her suffering, she retained her stoical outlook, apologising to my sister for the inconvenience she'd caused. But something urgent had to be done as her decline accelerated.

On Thursday, my sister called an ambulance. The paramedics who took her to hospital treated her with great tenderness. It is an indicator of the respect and affection in which she was held by the local community that they knew her well, having often visited her newsagent's shop. On the ambulance's arrival at the Singleton, there was at first no bed available, so my mother was asked to wait in the ambulance while one was found. Again, the paramedics could not have been more sympathetic. But the same cannot be said of all the staff at the Singleton. Though she was admitted to the hospital in the morning and soon underwent tests, my sisters were not properly consulted until late afternoon.

First, they saw one oncologist, who asked a series of questions about her recent medical history. Then they saw another and had to run through the same routine again. This second oncologist seemed off-hand and evasive. At one stage, she had an extraordinary exchange with Louise, telling her it would be 'inappropriate' to admit my mother to intensive care 'because of her condition'. 'What condition is that?' asked Louise. 'Her inoperable cancer.' 'But Mr Manson has fitted a stent. He says she may live for two years or more.' 'Perhaps he's being optimistic.' 'Mr Manson is a realist, not an optimist,' she replied.

This conversation was all too indicative of the cold, impatient, fatalistic way my mother's case was handled that last night. It is bizarre that it was not until the early evening that the hospital finally revealed she had C.diff and therefore began treatment. Here she was, a sick 86-year-old on her third hospital visit in nine days, yet nothing had been done to check the most likely cause of her condition. It would have been easy, after her first difficult night following the gallstone operation, to carry out a check for C.diff. Even on that last day, the hospital could have moved more quickly, instead of leaving her for almost nine hours without acting.

The indifference carried on through the night. My sisters were not made aware of how lethally serious the situation was. That is why I was not urged to come down from Westminster. It was in the early hours of Friday that the last anguish descended, as the full effect of the virus tightened its grip and my dear mother began to choke. Shaken, my sisters did all they could to help, receiving little support from staff.

Suddenly, they were ushered to a side-room by a doctor. There he asked if they had 'ever discussed resuscitation' with my mother. It was a bewildering question. If my mother was at death's door, surely the doctor should have been trying to save her, rather than indulging in a debate? While they were with the doctor, my mother passed away. Yet even then, they were not told she had died. They were merely informed that they could go and 'sit with her'. If they had known that my mother was in her death throes, they would never have left her.

This is not the way such cases should be handled. Families must be kept informed. Early, routine tests for C.diff must be carried out. And, above all, hospitals need to be cleaned up. Progress in medicine is useless if the basics are going wrong. If we can achieve improvements here, then my mother will have left a legacy to be treasured.

A spokesman for Singleton Hospital said they met Nigel Evans and his family and are more than happy to look into the questions raised and provide a full response to them.

With regard to Mrs Evans's care, they confirmed that she was taken in as an emergency patient 'when she was promptly assessed, treated and monitored by a number of medical staff, including surgeons. Sadly, she died a few hours later'.



Sir John has just passed away. The report below is from Science News, 102:24, December 1972, written by Kendrick Frazier. It recalls the time when "Nature" magazine was rigorously devoted to science. It is sad to note that the hysteria and pseudoscience that Maddox attacked has got worse rather than better :

In the United States, in 1972, one ventures a criticism of the environmental movement with the trepidation of those who in past years might have questioned the concept of motherhood or the virtues of apple pie. He is sure to be misunderstood or maligned.

Environmentalism (notice how the movement has even added another "-ism" to our vocabulary) has become the issue that every right-minded citizen seemingly can support. In this social context then, one can hardly imagine a book addressing a more fashionable subject while taking a less fashionable point of view than John Maddox's The Doomsday Syndrome (McGraw-Hill, $6.95).

Maddox's arguments, however, deserve the thoughtful attention of all who profess concern about the environment and the future of planet earth. Maddox is the editor of the respected British journal NATURE, and what he has put together is an attack not on the environmental movement itself but on some of the more extreme elements of the movement or, as he puts it, an attack on pessimism. In fact the word "attack" is perhaps ill advised, for one of his main goals is to substitute calm, scientific analysis for some of the more strident emotional rhetoric surrounding environmental issues. In this sense, his work espouses moderation. I do not agree with everything Maddox says, but as one who is annoyed by exaggeration and overstatement, especially on important subjects having scientific content, I found myself frequently cheering him on as I read.

In the past decade, he notes, the peoples of North America and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe have been "assailed by prophecies of calamity." Population growth, pollution, overconsumption of resources, genetic engineering, economic growth all, say the doomsayers, spell danger to the human race. They even talk "of the possibility that the temper of modern science may undermine the structure of modern society."

Says Maddox: "Although these prophecies are founded in science, they are at best pseudoscience. Their most common error is to suppose that the worst will always happen. And to the extent that they are based on assumptions as to how people will behave, they ignore the ways in which social institutions and humane aspirations can conspire to solve the most daunting problems."

Maddox notes that his is not a tract in favor of population growth or of pollution. "One of the distressing features of the present debate about the environment is the way in which it is supposed to be an argument between farsighted people with the interests of humanity at heart and others who care not a tuppence for the future.... This false dichotomy conceals a host of important issues." And, he continues, "The doomsday cause would be more telling if it were more securely grounded in facts, better informed by a sense of history and an awareness of economics and less cataclysmic in temper. .. Too often, reality is oversimplified or even ignored, so that there is a danger that much of this gloomy foreboding about the immediate future will accomplish the opposite of what its authors intend. Instead of alerting people to important problems, it may seriously undermine the capacity of the human race to look out for its survival. The doomsday syndrome may be in itself as much a hazard as any of the conundrums which society has created for itself."

The message is not that everything is all right with the world, but that to remedy what is wrong we need cool heads, accurate, undistorted information, and rational unemotional analysis. I think Maddox somewhat underestimates the positive aspects of the environmental movement in the United States. (Are not the recent clean air and clean water acts the result of "social institutions" conspiring "to solve the most daunting problems"?) The environmental movement has made major achievements. But the intangible costs of some of the excessive rhetoric are yet to be summed up. (High among those costs would be the at-least-partially misguided recent negativism toward science and technology and a lessened faith in society's ability to engage in any enlightened progress.)

Perhaps, now that it has long since gained everyone's attention, the environmental cause can now move into a more mature phase in which scare tactics and "either-or" doomsaying can be supplanted by hard analytical thinking and well-informed realistic action on the whole range of difficult choices to be made.

"Educators" hate testing

Because it shows the ineffectiveness of their methods

One of Britain's leading experts on school testing and assessment delivers a scathing attack on national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds today. Professor Peter Tymms warns that they are having "a serious negative impact on the education system" and should be scrapped. They mislead parents as to the performance of their children's schools, he said.

Professor Tymms's intervention comes as the National Union of Teachers prepares to vote on balloting its members to boycott tests in English, maths and science to pressure ministers to drop the tests entirely. The vote will take place at the union's annual conference in Cardiff tomorrow.

"The main problem with key stage two [11-year-olds] tests is their publication in league tables. This is having a serious negative impact on the education system," said Professor Tymms, who is the director of the Curriculum and Evaluation Management Centre at Durham University. "Parents can judge schools based on the league tables which do not portray an accurate picture of the quality of the teaching or pupils' progress over time. Neither do they give a rounded picture of a school's success."

Secondary school heads have also argued that so much coaching goes on for the tests that the results do not give an accurate reflection of children's ability. Most schools re-test the pupils when they start secondary school.

Professor Tymms, who has written several books on assessment, suggests that a random sample of pupils should be tested every year to give an accurate guide to the Department for Children, Schools and Families as to how national standards are progressing. The system used to be in operation two decades ago and the pilot always mirrored the make-up of the population in the country. Over time, with a different selection of pupils, it also gave individual schools an idea of how they were achieving.

Professor Tymms said: "We do need assessment at a high level to monitor standards across the land and the best way to achieve that is by using a sampling approach. "Schools should monitor pupils' success with objective measures which do not have to be statutory tests."

Tomorrow's NUT vote will be followed by a similar vote for a boycott at the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference in May – which would be the first time the heads have had a ballot on industrial action. The other two big teachers' unions, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, have cautioned against a boycott – arguing there should be continued dialogue with ministers over changes to the present system.

Speaking at the ATL conference in Liverpool yesterday, Michael Gove, the shadow Education Secretary, said: "It is not good enough to just say that the current system sucks. Some form of accountable testing which allows useful comparisons between schools to be drawn is necessary."

An expert group set up by the Government to look at testing and assessment in the wake of last summer's marking fiasco, when thousands of results were delivered late, is expected to report next month.


British justice: Teenager who shot teacher in the face is suspended for just 15 days

A teenager who shot a teacher in the face with a pellet gun has been given a 15-day suspension as punishment. The female English teacher was hit after she approached the 15-year-old in the school corridor. The local authority said the pellet gun was not fired maliciously and the teacher, named as Miss Atkins, was not seriously hurt by the pellet. But she is said to be so distressed she is leaving the school this summer.

The short-term suspension has caused uproar among parents at Beal High School in Ilford, Essex. Many are furious the pupil, understood to be the son of a teaching assistant, will be allowed to return after the Easter holidays.

The incident happened as the teacher approached a small group of pupils who had gathered in a corridor between lessons. A 14-year-old pupil who was in a classroom next to the shooting said: 'Someone came running into our lesson and said this teacher was shot. He said a group of pupils were playing with a toy gun, and were aiming for someone else, but it hit the teacher in the face. 'The teacher was very upset, she cried and cried.'

The Year 10 pupil will return to school after Easter. His classmates who helped conceal the pellet gun were given brief suspensions and have already returned to school.

Meanwhile Miss Atkins, who returned to work days later, is 'extremely upset' by the incident on March 17. She only started teaching at the comprehensive in September, but has told the school she will leave this summer and already has another job lined up.

One parent, who did not want to be named, said: 'It was very lucky the teacher was not badly hurt. The lad should have been expelled - not just suspended.' Iqbal Pnag, 44, who has two children at Beal High School, said: 'It is surprising that he is being allowed to return to school. To suspend him for three weeks is nothing. He shouldn't be allowed to come back.'

Last night John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said any children who use physical violence against teachers should be expelled. He said: 'There have to be very clear lines over which children must not tread. Violence on teachers should lead in the vast majority of cases to exclusion. 'That message is very important, not only to the child involved, but for other children at the school.'

Last night Redbridge Council defended the actions taken by the school over the 'isolated incident'. A spokesman said: 'This was not a malicious act, however the behaviour was wrong and potentially dangerous. 'The school took the matter extremely seriously and carried out a thorough investigation immediately which involved talking to a number of pupils involved and some parents. 'The pupils involved have since expressed remorse for their actions and apologised to the teacher concerned. All of the pupils involved have received or will be receiving fixed term exclusions and one pupil was excluded from the school for 15 days.'

The Met Police said they were aware of the incident, but did not attend the school when it happened.


Batty Britain: Teachers told to use TV show tactics in class : “Teachers should liven up their lessons by bringing game shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? into the classroom to stop children being disruptive, according to the Government’s behaviour ‘tsar.’ Games based on shows like ITV’s Blockbuster and the Radio 4 panel game Just A Minute could be used to make learning more interesting, Sir Alan Steer says in the final report of a four-year government inquiry into behaviour. Other suggestions include introducing bingo sessions, where pupils mark their cards when the teacher speaks a particular word, and Taboo, which involves describing a word or concept without mentioning certain forbidden words.”

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