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February 03, 2011

The complicated legal problems of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Hundreds of people a year in America are charged with causing Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). But recent medical findings suggest that the originating incident could have taken place as much as three days before symptoms present, despite the fact that the cops arrest and prosecute whoever happens to be holding the baby when the symptoms arise. Also, there is a virus that can cause symptoms similar to SBS. Which means that it's likely hundreds of innocent people have their lives ruined every year simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The day care worker in the case below was sentenced to ten years in prison. Ten. Years. She would have received less if it had been a manslaughter charge, or if she'd been convicted of gaming our entire economic system. Shaken-Baby Syndrome Faces New Questions in Court - NYTimes.com
Between 1,200 and 1,400 children in the United States sustain head injuries attributed to abuse each year. Most of them are less than a year old. Usually, there’s not much dispute that these children were abused, because doctors discover other signs of mistreatment — cuts, bruises, burns, fractures — or a history of such injuries. There is no exact count of shaken-baby prosecutions, but law-enforcement authorities think that there are about 200 a year. In an estimated 50 percent to 75 percent of them, the only medical evidence of shaken-baby syndrome is the triad of internal symptoms: subdural and retinal hemorrhage and brain swelling. . . . Medical experts, however, have begun to point out that clinical observations show that it’s possible for a child to have a brain injury and still remain conscious. The child may be lethargic or fussy or may not eat or sleep normally for hours or days, while the subdural hemorrhage and other injuries become more serious, ending in acute crisis. This has made some doctors wary of pinpointing the timing of a child’s injury — even when they are sure that abuse occurred — lest the wrong adult take the blame. “The police want us to time it within one to three hours,” says John Leventhal, a Yale pediatrics professor and medical director of the child-abuse programs at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. “But sometimes we can only time it to within days.” . . . Much of the science of shaken-baby syndrome dates from the late 1960s, when a neurosurgeon named Ayub Ommaya conducted a brutal animal experiment to figure out how much acceleration it took to cause a head injury. Ommaya took more than 50 rhesus monkeys and strapped each one into a chair mounted on wheels, leaving their heads unsupported. He placed the chair on a 20-foot-long track, and an air-powered piston sent the monkeys zooming into a wall. Fifteen emerged with some kind of cerebral hemorrhage. Eight of those also had injuries to the brain stem or cervical cord.

February 02, 2011

Shovel safely, kids!

Two things strike me about this article: 1) it demonstrates...

February 01, 2011

Man who refuses to call 911 on principle has house burn down

NEVERMIND. THIS IS A HOAX.
NORTH KNOXVILLE - Stephen Forthman shoots first and asks questions later. He wears a shirt proudly displaying the words "I don't dial 911" next to a picture of a hand gripping a sixshooter. When it comes time to contact local emergency services for assistance, he'd rather just shoot at the problem until it goes away - even when the problem is his own home being on fire. . . . "At first I didn't even notice the fire," said neighbor Tricia Perkinson. "I heard gunshots coming from across the street. When I looked outside, I saw Steve in his front yard waving a gun at the house. He was yelling obscenities and just shooting. He was saying, 'You better get out of here you bleeping bleep.' I thought he had lost his mind. Then I saw the smoke." "When we arrived at the scene, the house was completely engulfed in flames," said firefighter Daniel Cummings. "Outside, the homeowner was shouting and firing a semiautomatic pistol into the fire." Firefighters were able to contain the flames to the Forthman residence, but the massive fire gutted the two-story home. Police were called to restrain Forthman, who had to be disarmed and handcuffed before he would stop shooting at the blaze. . . . This isn't the first time Forthman has refused to dial 911. In 2004, Forthman tried to shoot himself in the torso after having chest pains. His brother-in-law wrestled a rifle away from Forthman and called an ambulance.