Author Archives: DCG

Culture of Death: Healthy woman commits suicide because she doesn’t want to become a “burden”

Gill Pharaoh and her husband

Gill Pharaoh and her husband

Daily Mail: A healthy former nurse chose to end her life at a Swiss suicide clinic because she did not want to become a burden on her family or the NHS. Gill Pharaoh, 75, was not suffering from a terminal illness but decided she did not want to depend on others by becoming frail in old age.

The former palliative nurse, from north London, travelled to the Dignitas-style Lifecircle clinic in Basel for her assisted suicide on July 21. She travelled there with her husband, John, and spent the evening before her death having a ‘tranquil’ meal on the banks of the Rhine.

In a blog post two months before she died, Mrs. Pharaoh explained why she had chosen to die.  ‘Until I was seventy I was very fit and able to fully participate in any activity I wanted to do. I felt I could still be busy and useful and fairly productive. Then I had a severe attack of Shingles and it all changed. At seventy five I am told I look ok and I take no medication.

‘However, I feel my life is complete and I am ready to die. My family are well and happy – their lives are full and busy. I can no longer walk the distances I used to enjoy so the happy hours spent exploring the streets of London are just a memory now.’

The mother-of-two explained that she did not want to become an ‘old lady blocking beds in a hospital ward’. She wrote: ‘I have had to make my exit while I am in my right mind and capable of doing so without too much assistance, because I am afraid of compromising the people around me whom I love.’

‘I have had to do this outside my home, and without telling too many people for the same reason. I have written my goodbyes and tidied my life and hope I have managed to exit as unobtrusively as possible. I have always held a donor card but that will be redundant now.

‘If I could have booked my death quite openly, I could have had a party before I died, in the way that people have done, and continue to do, in Switzerland and other places. ‘In which case, perhaps any of my body parts that could be reused could be collected immediately. I could also be sure that I will never be an old lady blocking beds in a hospital ward. This would save the NHS a fortune.

Speaking to the Sunday Times weeks before her death, Mrs. Pharaoh said she wanted to end her life because she knew how frail she was becoming. ‘I have looked after people who are old, on and off, all my life. I have always said, “I am not getting old. I do not think old age is fun”.

‘I know that I have gone just over the hill now. It is not going to start getting better. I do not want people to remember me as a sort of old lady hobbling up the road with a trolley.’

Mrs. Pharaoh spent her last day with her husband, John, dining by the Rhine in Basel. He said it was ‘enjoyable’ and that he chose not to spoil their last evening together by being ’emotional and heavy’.

Before her journey to Switzerland, Mrs. Pharaoh told her children, Mark and Caron, who did not find it easy to cope. She said: ‘It is not his [John’s] choice at all and my kids are backing me, although it is not their choice. My daughter is a nurse and she said, “Intellectually, I know where you are coming from but emotionally, I am finding it really hard”, and I know she is.’

Yes, best to off yourself to save NHS a fortune…so their employees can retire with six-figure pensions.

See also:

DCG

Amy Schumer fights for tougher gun laws after ‘Trainwreck’ shooting

schumers

NY Post: Amy Schumer broke her funny-girl persona Monday, becoming teary-eyed as she vowed to fight for tougher gun laws in the US after a deadly shooting broke out in a Louisiana movie theater that was playing her summer blockbuster.

Schumer got emotional as soon as she stepped up to the podium at a packed press conference with her second cousin, Sen. Charles Schumer, on Monday in midtown. “I’m not sure why this man [the gunman] chose my movie to end those two beautiful lives and injure nine others, but it was very personal for me,” the “Trainwreck” star said, her voice wavering as she struggled to continue. “Enough is enough. These shootings have got to stop. I don’t know how else to say it,” she added.

The unlikely duo announced a three-pronged plan that would increase background checks nationwide as well as make it more difficult for the mentally ill and violent criminals to get their hands on guns. “Sensible legislation can happen,” the New York senator said. “The Second Amendment says you have the right to bear arms, but it is not absolute.”

He added that his cousin’s star power would boost their chances to pass actual legislation. “Having people like Amy speaking out reaches people who I could never reach,” the senator said.

Amy Schumer, who is known as an outspoken comedienne, said she’s not against the Second Amendment, but thinks there need to be restrictions. “I am expecting a backlash and I’ll handle it the way I’ve handled it the last 10 years. I’ve had death threats and a lot of hate directed toward me,” she said.

The “Inside Amy” funnywoman is planning a trip to Louisiana to spend time with the families of the two young women who lost their lives in the Lafayette shooting on July 23 — when a 59-year-old gunman entered the Grand 16 movie theater and opened fire. The shooter injured nine others before turning his .40-caliber handgun on himself.

Wonder if Schumer and Schumer are aware of the “sensible gun legislation” in Chicago? Perhaps not. After all, a gunman didn’t kill anyone in Amy’s movie there. Guess even the death of Dillan Harris wasn’t “personal” enough for her.

DCG

Heartbreaking: Immigrants object to growing use of ankle monitors after detention

illegal

LA Times: The Honduran woman and her 11-year-old son were just preparing to leave the detention center in remote Karnes City, Texas, and rejoin family in Chicago, when officials sprang a surprise on her.

After spending two months at the facility, the woman faced a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent insisting she accept an electronic ankle monitor as a condition of her release.

No, this is unjust. I don’t want you to put it on,” said the 32-year-old woman, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Nely, due to her pending immigration case. The official, she recalled, told her: “We give you free food, free clothing, a place to sleep. So you just need to deal with it.”

GPS ankle monitors are becoming standard equipment for immigration officials along the border. In July, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, used about 9,300 ankle monitors at a time — 40% more than about six months ago. They are run by a government contractor, BI Inc., a subsidiary of the country’s second-largest prison company, which also operates immigration detention centers.

Officials say the monitors are a cheap and effective way to ensure that immigrants released from detention attend court hearings.

The monitors cost an average of $5 a day per person, according to an ICE spokesman, and are part of the agency’s Alternatives to Detention program, which also may require immigrants to report by phone or in person. In contrast, detention costs an average of $130 per day per person, and can cost over $330 at some detention centers.

It’s not clear how effective ankle monitors are. Last week, officials stopped releasing figures for how many immigrants wearing the devices show up in court, saying they were trying to verify data.

Immigrants, who call the monitors grilletes, or shackles, complain that they are uncomfortable, inconvenient and carry a stigma. “They feel like a criminal,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, who runs an immigrant aid center on the Texas border, in McAllen. “They say, ‘How will I be able to work with that?’ They pray they don’t get it.”

The ankle monitors are part of the government effort to handle the surge of thousands of children and families, mostly Central Americans, who have been crossing into the U.S. for more than a year.

The U.S. went from one 95-bed immigrant family detention center in Pennsylvania to three, the two newest in Karnes City and Dilley, Texas. By year’s end, the centers will have a total of 3,700 beds. There are now about 1,700 adults and children in family detention. As it has expanded, family detention has also increasingly come under attack by immigration lawyers, advocacy groups and lawmakers, who have pressured ICE to release more immigrants.

In June, Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson announced several changes to family detention, including releasing on reasonable bonds and with ankle monitors family members found to have a fear of persecution in their home countries.

Johnson told the House Judiciary Committee that ICE was “ramping up” its use of ankle monitors and intended to more than double the total number monitored, from 23,000 last year to 53,000 in 2016. Ankle monitors are not issued to those under 18, pregnant women or others with “significant medical issues.”

ICE officials say ankle monitors are used “on a case-by-case basis with a priority for detention of serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety. Those who are not subject to mandatory detention and don’t pose a threat to the community may be placed on some form of supervision.”

But immigrant advocates argue that many detainees are coerced into wearing them. Last week, the CARA Pro Bono Legal Project in Dilley and other immigrant lawyers’ groups sent a letter to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña demanding the agency stop using the monitors.

In a motion also filed last week, they allege ICE officials recently summoned about 100 immigrant women in the detention center at Dilley to makeshift trailer courtrooms and urged them to sign paperwork to be released with ankle monitors in lieu of bond.

Several of the women filed affidavits saying they had been forced to accept ankle monitors. “I signed it because I am desperate to get out of here. My son has been extremely ill,” a Guatemalan woman wrote in one of the affidavits.

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen says they are reviewing the claims.

small violin

DCG

Seattle CEO who set firm’s minimum wage to $70G says he has hit hard times

Dan Price

Fox News: The Seattle CEO who reaped a publicity bonanza when he boosted the salaries of his employees to a minimum of $70,000 a year says he has fallen on hard times. Dan Price, 31, tells the New York Times that things have gotten so bad he’s been forced to rent out his house.

Only three months ago Price was generating headlines—and accusations of being a socialist — when he announced the new salary minimum for all 120 employees at his Gravity Payments credit card processing firm. Price said he was doing it, and slashing his $1 million pay package to pay for it, to address the wealth gap.

“I’m working as hard as I ever worked to make it work,” he told the Times in a video that shows him sitting on a plastic bucket in the garage of his house. “I’m renting out my house right now to try and make ends meet myself.”

The Times article said Price’s decision ended up costing him a few customers and two of his “most valued” employees, who quit after newer employees ended up with bigger salary hikes than older ones.

“He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump,” Gravity financial manager Maisey McMaster, 26, told the paper.

She said when she talked to Price about it, he treated her as if she was being selfish and only thinking about herself. “That really hurt me,” she said. “I was talking about not only me, but about everyone in my position.” Approaching burnout, she quit.

Grant Moran, 29, also quit, saying the new pay-scale was disconcerting. “Now the people who were just clocking in and out were making the same as me,” he told the paper. “It shackles high performers to less motivated team members.”

economicsPrice said McMaster and Moran, or even critic Rush Limbaugh, the talk show host, were not wrong. “There’s no perfect way to do this and no way to handle complex workplace issues that doesn’t have any downsides or trade-offs,” he said.

The Times said customers who left were dismayed at what Price did, viewing it as a political statement. Others left fearful Gravity would soon hike fees to pay for salary increases.

Brian Canlis, co-owner of a family restaurant, already worried about how to deal with Seattle’s new minimum wage, told Price the pay raise at Gravity “makes it harder for the rest of us.” “It pains me to hear Brian Canlis say that,” Price said. “The last think I would ever want to do is make a client feel uncomfortable.”

The Times said Price has dozens of new clients inspired by his move but those accounts won’t start generating profits for at least another year. Making matters worse for Price is a lawsuit his older brother filed two weeks after the pay hike announcement. Lucas Price, who owns 30 percent of the company, accuses his brother of taking millions of dollars out of the company while denying him the benefits of his minority ownership. The lawsuit has forced Gravity to pay mounting legal fees at a time when the new salary scale is being eaten up by profits. “We don’t have a margin of error to pay those legal fees,” Dan Price said.

math is hard

DCG

Navy Officer Did Something Heroic During Chattanooga Shooting, But May Be PUNISHED For It

Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White

Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White

Western Journalism: A Navy officer and Marine reportedly returned fire at the shooter who killed five service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., even though current policy does not permit military members to carry firearms on facilities such as those where the attack occurred.

Mohammod Abdulazeez was slain last Thursday after allegedly firing dozens of shots at two separate military facilities, including the Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga. The cold-blooded assault killed four Marines and one active-duty Navy reservist.

The center’s commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White, used his personal firearm to engage the shooter during the attack, according to sources quoted in the Navy Times. A report from The Washington Post said that one of the Marines killed in the shooting might have been carrying a 9 mm Glock and possibly returned fire on Abdulazeez. The Navy officer could face disciplinary action for violating policy about possessing a weapon on the facility that was supposed a gun-free zone.

The investigation into the attack is ongoing, and authorities will not know if White or the Marine hit Abdulazeez until an autopsy and a ballistics report have been completed. The recruiting center, the other building at which the gunman fired, was reopened Monday.

The chairmen of both the House and Senate Armed Services committees, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have proposed a measure in this year’s renewal of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allowing members of the military to carry firearms on base, they said in a joint statement.

Unreal.

DCG

More rainbow crosswalks coming to Seattle; this time to fight crime

rainbow sidewalks

MyNorthwest.com (author Jason Rantz): With an eye towards addressing both safety concerns and changing demographics of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will add more rainbow crosswalks.

Additional rainbow crosswalks are slated for the area around the new Capitol Hill light rail station. This is one of many moves the Mayor is making in the coming weeks.

“Seattle has long been a place where everyone can find an accepting and tolerant home,” Murray said. “We celebrate our history of advancing equity for the LGBTQ community and we will support efforts to make Seattle even more inclusive. Thank you to the task force for identifying these actions to reduce the violent attacks and verbal harassment experienced by LGBTQ people.”

The last time this happened, there was some outcry from critics arguing this is both a waste of taxpayer money and a violation of traffic laws. As I detailed here, both of those claims are incorrect. Fees already paid by developers to correct damage done to sidewalks funds this project (you could argue that the fee gets passed on but it’s demonstrably incorrect to call this a direct tax to residents) and the design is well within what is permitted by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Nevertheless, you can expect the same outrage this time around.

What is different about these crosswalks, though, is this larger emphasis on it being a tool to prevent anti-gay hate crimes. “We do know that if you change the physical environment you change crime. So this is a way to address that in part,” the mayor told KIRO TV.

Monisha Harrell, co-chair the mayor’s LGBTQ safety task force, explained the crosswalks send the message that “[t]his is an accepting area, this is an area of diversity, it’s an area of safety.”

Though I’m an obvious supporter of the crosswalks, I’m not entirely sure I believe this will do anything to curb violence. Monsters who commit anti-gay hate crimes do so because of irrational fear; simply expanding the neighborhood’s rainbow crosswalks could simply irritate them further. This is not a reason not to install these crowsswalks. We should never give hateful people the power to stop progress. But it should serve as a warning that if safety is your concern, please don’t assume these crosswalks will mean you’re safe.

My sense is that these crosswalks are more about trying to preserve the Capitol Hill neighborhood as a “gayborhood,” at a time when the neighborhood is dramatically shifting to more inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities. But it’s a losing battle, and I’m fine with that because “gayborhoods” are important primarily when you feel like it’s the only neighborhood you could live in if you’re in the LGBT community. That there is no longer a need for that gayborhood is a sign of progress and acceptance.

rainbow sidewalks2

Who knew? All it took to curb crime was a rainbow sidewalk…brilliant!

DCG

Baltimore: 189 homicides this year alone. 366 nonfatal shootings. And July’s violence is at a 43-year high

baltimore riots

Huffington Post: Baltimore reached a grim milestone on Friday, three months after riots erupted in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody: With 45 homicides in July, the city has seen more bloodshed in a single month than it has in 43 years. Police reported three deaths — two men shot Thursday and one on Friday. The men died at local hospitals.

With their deaths, this year’s homicides reached 189, far outpacing the 119 killings by July’s end in 2014. Nonfatal shootings have soared to 366, compared to 200 by the same date last year. July’s total was the worst since the city recorded 45 killings in August 1972, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The seemingly Sisyphean task of containing the city’s violence prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire her police commissioner, Anthony Batts, on July 8.

Heckuva job mayor!

Heckuva job mayor!

“Too many continue to die on our streets,” Rawlings-Blake said then. “Families are tired of dealing with this pain, and so am I. Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime.” But the killings have not abated under Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis since then.

Baltimore is not unique in its suffering; crimes are spiking in big cities around the country. (No reference to violence in other cities, nor links or statistics to support this statement.)

But while the city’s police are closing cases— Davis announced arrests in three recent murders several days ago — the violence is outpacing their efforts. Davis said Tuesday the “clearance rate” is at 36.6 percent, far lower than the department’s mid-40s average.

Crime experts and residents of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods cite a confluence of factors: mistrust of the police; generalized anger and hopelessness over a lack of opportunities for young black men; and competition among dealers of illegal drugs, bolstered by the looting of prescription pills from pharmacies during the riot.

Federal drug enforcement agents said gangs targeted 32 pharmacies in the city, taking roughly 300,000 doses of opiates, as the riots caused $9 million in property damage in the city.

Perched on a friend’s stoop, Sherry Moore, 55, said she knew “mostly all” of the young men killed recently in West Baltimore, including an 18-year-old fatally shot a half-block away. Moore said many more pills are on the street since the riot, making people wilder than usual.

“The ones doing the violence, the shootings, they’re eating Percocet like candy and they’re not thinking about consequences. They have no discipline, they have no respect — they think this is a game. How many can I put down on the East side? How many can I put down on the West side?”

The tally of 42 homicides in May included Gray, who died in April after his neck was broken in police custody. The July tally likewise includes a previous death — a baby whose death in June was ruled a homicide in July.

Shawn Ellerman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said May’s homicide spike was probably related to the stolen prescription drugs, a supply that is likely exhausted by now. But the drug trade is inherently violent, and turf wars tend to prompt retaliatory killings.

baltimore violence

“You can’t attribute every murder to narcotics, but I would think a good number” of them are, he said. “You could say it’s retaliation from drug trafficking, it’s retaliation from gangs moving in from other territories. But there have been drug markets in Baltimore for years.”

Across West Baltimore, residents complain that drug addiction and crime are part of a cycle that begins with despair among children who lack educational and recreational opportunities, and extends when people can’t find work. “We need jobs! We need jobs!” a man riding around on a bicycle shouted to anyone who’d listen after four people were shot, three of them fatally, on a street corner in July.

More community engagement, progressive policing policies and opportunities for young people in poverty could help, community activist Munir Bahar said. “People are focusing on enforcement, not preventing violence. Police enforce a code, a law. Our job as the community is to prevent the violence, and we’ve failed,” said Bahar, who leads the annual 300 Men March against violence in West Baltimore.

We need anti-violence organizations, we need mentorship programs, we need a long-term solution. But we also need immediate relief,” Bahar added. “When we’re in something so deep, we have to stop it before you can analyze what the root is.”

Strained relationships between police and the public also play a role, according to Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Arrests plummeted and violence soared after six officers were indicted in Gray’s death. Residents accused police of abandoning their posts for fear of facing criminal charges for making arrests, and said emboldened criminals were settling scores with little risk of being caught. The department denied these claims, and police cars have been evident patrolling West Baltimore’s central thoroughfares recently.

But O’Donnell said the perception of lawlessness is just as powerful than the reality. “We have a national issue where the police feel they are the Public Enemy No. 1,” he said, making some officers stand down and criminals become more brazen. “There’s a rhythm to the streets,” he added. “And when people get away with gun violence, it has a long-term emboldening effect. And the good people in the neighborhood think, ‘Who has the upper hand?'”

DCG