Saturday, March 26, 2005

HOW MUCH IS $7 MILLION? I didn't get a chance to tend to Media Log yesterday - so, naturally, a poster accused me of ignoring the "Boston media story of the year ... $7 million in painful cuts at the Boston Herald." Well, now. Where to begin?

What's going on at the Herald this year may prove to be a huge story. What happened this past Thursday, on the other hand, was pretty minor. As Mark Jurkowitz reported in the Boston Globe yesterday, Herald publisher Pat Purcell met with union heads on Thursday and told them that he needs to find $7 million in savings. There were no details; the parties will meet again on April 4; and the cuts apparently will not be implemented until the end of June.

Late Thursday afternoon I spoke with Lesley Phillips, head of the Newspaper Guild at the Herald. Though she couldn't really say anything beyond the prepared statement that Jurkowitz reported, she did not strike me as ready to go into full panic mode. Going into the meeting, there were all kinds of rumors flying about - that Purcell might announce the sale of the Herald, or that he might start pushing for drastic cutbacks of the sort that would let him fill his pages cheaply with wire-service stories and copy from his Community Newspaper chain. Neither one of those things happened, although it's certainly possible that they could down the road.

Not to sound defensive (who, me?), but I reported the essence of this story (scroll down) on February 25. At that moment the Herald was already in the midst of deep budget cuts, sale rumors, and continuing angst over Boston's Metro, the freebie tabloid in which the New York Times Company - parent company of the Globe - has purchased a 49 percent share. "It's really across the country, and we're looking at all our expenses," Purcell told me at the time.

The most important question is what it will mean to cut $7 million. Although there is no word of layoffs coming out of One Herald Square, it's also true that $7 million would cover the salaries of 140 employees making $50,000 a year. That basic math has not escaped the notice of at least one newsroom source I spoke with. On the other hand, it could very well be that there are other areas where the $7 million can be found. At this point, there's no way of knowing.

THE GLOBE AND THE GLOBE. Foreign editor Jim Smith sent out a memo yesterday at 6:41 p.m. announcing some pretty significant changes in the paper's international coverage. An insider passed along a copy to Media Log. It reads in full:

I am delighted to announce that Colin Nickerson will be the Globe's next European bureau chief, succeeding Charlie Sennott when he comes home this summer. At the same time, Anne Barnard and Thanassis Cambanis will move from Baghdad to Jerusalem, succeeding Charlie Radin when he too returns home. Colin, who is completing a Knight Science Fellowship at MIT, has spent much of his Globe career producing outstanding coverage of world affairs, often from perilous locations. Anne and Thanassis have provided extraordinary coverage of Iraq, during the initial invasion in 2003 and for the past year from their base in Baghdad. In Jerusalem, they will form a two-person bureau responsible for covering the Arab world as well as the Israeli-Palestinian story. From Jerusalem, they will travel to Iraq periodically as well as elsewhere in the region. Please join me in congratulating Colin, Anne and Thanassis and wishing them luck and success in these new assignments.

Jim

Sounds like the Baghdad bureau is history. But Iraq isn't necessarily the biggest story taking place in the Middle East right now. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the tension between Lebanon and Syria come to mind as stories that are at least as important. By having two people in Jerusalem instead of one, it sounds like the Globe will be able to deploy people more easily across the region.

No doubt Barnard and Cambanis - who have done a tremendous job of covering the war in Iraq - would rather spend what little down time they have in Jerusalem rather than in Baghdad.

WRONG AGAIN. I'm beginning to think that New York Times columnist David Brooks's greatest shortcoming is that he tries so hard to be reasonable that he fails to appreciate how unreasonable most people really are.

Today he tries to characterize the positions of both sides in the Terri Schiavo debate as principled but incomplete. In so doing, he is way too kind to the religious zealots who have made Schiavo their cause, and he manages to belittle social liberals unfairly as well.

Take this, for instance:

Social conservatives ... say that if we make distinctions about the value of different lives, if we downgrade those who are physically alive but mentally incapacitated, if we say that some people can be more easily moved toward death than others, then the strong will prey upon the helpless, and the dignity of all our lives will be diminished.

The true bright line is not between lives, they say, but between life and death. The proper rule, as Robert P. George of Princeton puts it, should be, "Always to care, never to kill."

Professor George sounds like someone I could have a conversation with. But he's not one of the conservatives who've injected themselves into this. Instead, we're dealing with people like Barbara Weller, Randall Terry, and Dr. William Hammesfahr, whose claims grow more ludicrous by the day. At some point, I fully expect that one of them will tell us Terri asked for a pizza with everything - hold the anchovies - and a cold beer. They know most people don't accept their true position, so they characterize Terri Schiavo's condition in terms that are completely contradicted by all credible evidence.

Here is what Brooks has to say about social liberals:

The central weakness of the liberal case is that it is morally thin. Once you say that it is up to individuals or families to draw their own lines separating life from existence, and reasonable people will differ, then you are taking a fundamental issue out of the realm of morality and into the realm of relativism and mere taste.

You are saying, as liberals do say, that society should be neutral and allow people to make their own choices. You are saying, as liberals do say, that we should be tolerant and nonjudgmental toward people who make different choices.

Well, not this social liberal. I do believe that someone in a persistent vegetative state - or even a minimally conscious state - has a right to die if he or she expressed such a desire when able to do so. We will never know with 100 percent certainty if Terri did indeed tell her husband, Michael, that that's what she would want. But the courts have determined that she did. Moreover, as best as we can tell, Terri Schiavo is very close to being brain-dead, and has been for the past 15 years.

Because of these two factors, I don't think I'm being the least bit of a moral relativist here. Neither those who side with Michael Schiavo in public-opinion polls - many of them evangelical Christians.

Brooks wants to think this is a dispute over two different ways of seeing the world. To honorable people like him and Robert George, it is. Sadly, in the real world, it's a mud wrestling match between truth and falsehood.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the overreaction to the lack of Herald news in Media Log, Dan. For the record, I *had* read the Feb. 25th story, but the memo and reported reaction to it in the Boring Broadsheet and on WBZ Radio had me wondering if the story had perhaps advanced beyond your earlier reportage. I am thankful for your effort to nail this down to the extent it can at this point. Got your attention though, didn't I? :)

hmeighan said...

I am a long time fan of your column, features, and weblog; and have long been an admirerer of your impressively reliable sources at the globe & herald. In my capacity as the shop steward for IBT local 1 at the Herald's Mailing Room Dept. I was in attendance at Thursday's meeting with the Publisher and his lawyers. I can say that he did state in no uncertain terms that the $7 million to be cut would come from labor through layoffs and givebacks. He also stated that everything was on the table and everything was on the record. He is placing his faith in an Industrial Engineer named Jack Ryan of Jack Ryan & Associates, who he hired to reduce staff levels in all production departments, to set staffing at the Herald. Ryan uses the M.O.S.T. system (maynard operational sequence technique) which is a predetermined time study to justify reducing staffing levels. Since Murdoch first arrived on the scene, & for 10 years under Mr. Purcell the Unions at the Herald have been giving and giving, yet the Herald has yet to prosper, perhaps due to a lack of a vision and managerial incompetance?

AnthonyG said...

Judge Greer is a Conservative Christian Republican.

My, my, my -- how fuzzy David Brooks' "bright line" gets when its time to count innocent children killed and maimied by the Bushies Iraq invasion (they don't even bother to count 'em).

Has there been greater moral relativism in recent memory than the Reaganites blocking UN censure of Saddam for using chemical weapons against Iran? (well, maybe Reagan applauding El Salvador's death squads after they murdered Catholic Archbishop Romero as he celebrated Mass).

How about Bush spending $40 million on his inauguration parties as tens of thousands suffered the pains and deprivatiosn of the Tsunami? Surely even a propagandist like Brooks would acknowledge that Dubya's Texas Futile Care Law --which allows hospitals to remove patients from life support against the wishes of family-- enabled "the strong to prey upon the helpless" many times.

David "Bobo" Brooks is a liar and a phony who will say anything for political gain. Let's see how long it is before Bobo writes a column admitting that the Christian conservative Republican judge in the Schiavo case is getting death threats from the "pro-lifers," and was kicked-out of his Southern Baptist church for upholding the law.

Anonymous said...

hmeighan, I feel your pain, but Pat doesn't have much choice when The New York Times Company effectively controls both your daily competitors. *Of course* M.O.S.T. will result in reduced staffing levels - it's a system designed to extract the MOST labor from the fewest workers. The last thing Pat wants to do is shrink the news hole, so he has to seek efficiencies in production. The Herald has to be lean and mean if it's going to survive the expected contraction in department store advertising in the wake of the Kmart/Sears and Federated/May mergers.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

Certainly, Dan, somebody at some point has been lying about Terri's condition.

Have you read the testimony of the two nurses who cared for Terri and have made affadavits about both hers and Michael's behavior? How about the report of the first Guardian Ad Litem assigned by Judge Greer?

Terri's first Guardian Ad Litem, Richard L. Pearse Jr., assigned in 1998 recommended that Terri's food and water NOT be stopped and that Michael Schiavo be removed as guardian, and that although Michael Schiavo pursued treatment for Terri in the first few years, after receiving the malpractice settlement he had "a change of heart regarding treatment" for Terri and denied recommended therapies and treatments to her (after testifying under oath that the monies would be used for therapy and outlining a plan which was then not followed). http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/337laakp.asp?pg=1

Incidentally, this "change of heart" took place 3 months after he received the 2nd settlement based on his sworn testimony in court that he would be providing aggressive therapy for Terri and that she was likely to live a normal life span and he would take care of her throughout it.

One of the nurses, Carla Sauer Iyer, who cared for Terri at Palm Gardens believes that Michael tried to kill Terri with insulin injections, and said in a WorldNetDaily interview that ""He would blurt out 'When is she gonna die? When is that B-I-T-C-H gonna die? Hasn't she died yet?'" She wrote in a sworn affadavit that he would ask if there wasn't anything the staff could do to speed up her death and talk about how rich he would be when she died, and the things he would buy.

Carla was fired for alerting police that she believed Terri and other patients were being mistreated in the care facility. She said in her sworn court affadavit that "My initial training there [at Palm Gardens] consisted solely of the instruction “Do what Michael Schiavo tells you or you will be terminated.” This struck me as extremely odd. The atmosphere throughout the facility was dominated by Mr. Schiavo’s intimidation."

She describes very close interactions between Michael and some of the caregivers there, with those caregivers then making comments about how much Terri's care was costing Michael, etc.

Carla says that "Terri’s medical condition was systematically distorted and misrepresented" and that whenever she would document responsiveness and awareness (such as Terri picking at her diaper when soiled, saying words, and showing pain during menses), they would be removed from Terri's chart.

From her affadavit: "I made numerous entries into the nursing notes in her chart, stating verbatim what she said and her various behaviors, but by my next on-duty shift, the notes would be deleted from her chart. Every time I made a positive entry about any responsiveness of Terri’s, someone would remove it after my shift ended. Michael always demanded to see her chart as soon as he arrived, and would take it in her room with him. I documented Terri’s rehab potential well, writing whole pages about Terri’s responsiveness, but they would always be deleted by the next time I saw her chart. The reason I wrote so much was that everybody else seemed to be afraid to make positive entries for fear of their jobs."

Carla's testimony can be found here: http://www.zimp.org/stuff/Affidavit%20C%20Iyer%20082903.pdf

Nurse Heidi Law made similar statements in her affadavit, commenting at length about how Michael Schiavo would literally stop Terri's caretakers from providing treatment and therapy that had been ordered and how the nurses believed he was abusive to Terri. She also talked about Terri's responsiveness and awareness, including that she did speak some words and that she would be upset when her diaper was soiled. Heidi's testimony is here: http://www.zimp.org/stuff/Affidavit%20H%20Law%20083003.pdf

I ask myself, what do these people have to gain by lying? They have a lot more to lose than they do to gain, unlike Michael Schiavo and those close to him.

Again, you haven't given any reasons or support for why you have chosen to believe one side over another. Or did your editors get on your back with your first post on this topic, and that's the reason for the sudden change and unwillingness to consider evidence that may disagree?

Did you know that the night before Terri collapsed, she told a friend she was considering leaving him and was warned not to go home to him because of his prior history of abuse toward her? I think it's rather sad that the husband she was possibly about to divorce and who had left bruises on her previously (according to testimony from her brother and others), and who had a huge fight with her the night before she collapsed, is the one whose testimony of her wishes now counts more than that of her parents and friends, and who gets to make the decisions about her care.

John Galt said...

Never before read or heard anyone apply the word "think" to Brooks. He is a known toady, a panderer of the desolation of probity that withers our constitution (Large and small C).

Maddox said...

Agree Brooks is scripted toady. Trick is, is he swift enough to know it? Or takes the lucre in ignorance.

AnthonyG said...

Right-Wing Hypocrisy Descends to New Depths.

Not only did Bill Frist pull the plug on several patients when he was a physician, not only did Dubya enthusiastically sign the Texas Futile Care Law, not only did the Religious Right crowd wailing and swooning outside Terri's hospice ignore Sun Hudson when he was recently pulled from life-support, not only are the "pro-lifers" threatening to murder judge Greer, but American Taliban Tom DeLay agreed to remove his own father from life support in 1988.

Sorry, Angela, those Nurses your citing were dismissed by the courts years ago as not credible.

Please allow this woman to die with the dignity she requested.

Anonymous said...

purple_kangaroo_Angela's post is a great example of the most disturbing part of this. Not only have the claim's about Terri's condition become preposterous, the slurs aimed at Michael Schiavo have gotten wilder and weirder.

By the end of this, Terri will be a saint and Michael will turn out to have been responsible for Abu Ghraib.

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but similarities to the anti-Kerry smear campaign are pretty obvious.

Wes said...

Loonies abound, that's for sure. Noted that the Repugs are slithering back into sludge in disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Anthony,
Holidays are meant for counting our blessings. Today, for example, I'm glad I don't have to hear your rants in person...

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

OK, listen folks. I started into looking at the Terri Schiavo case with the same mindset that most of you have--believing that the facts had been fairly and completely presented and that due process had been done, with no foul play and everybody on all sides really wanting the best for Terri.

I actually started looking into it to try to convince someone I care about not to be so upset at the outcome.

The first thing that made me really stop and go "wait a minute, that doesn't make sense" was the court order denying Terri food and water by mouth, and finding out that that was being enforced even to include ice chips and wet washcloths, basic comfort measures that would not significantly shorten or prolong her life and are routine for terminal patients who cannot swallow.

So I'm not one of those people who started into this determined to believe the Schindler's side at all costs. I actually came into it expecting to come to the opposite conclusion.

I've been reading and evaluating all the evidence I can find and I have found enough to cause me serious doubts and concern about the case, and enough to convince me that more testing and evidence needs to be brought and that a new trial with a different judge is needed.

I'm willing to look at facts and evaluate evidence falsely, but blanket statements like "everyone who supports Terri is lying" and "those witnesses were discredited by the courts years ago" with no support or evidence to examine whether the claims are supported hold no water. If that's true, show me some evidence to support it, or at least give me a link where I can read it for myself and evaluate the source and what is said.

If you want to convince me, show me evidence. That's what I went looking for and I'm certainly not finding evidence that shows he reasons why judge Greer disregarded or discredited everything that would support Terri's responsiveness, state or her possible wishes to live.

To an observer who started out expecting to be reassured that she had indeed been given due process and was really a vegetable, the evidence is certainly not convincing and leaves room for reasonable doubt.

I think that if someone is going to be killed there should be clear and irrefutable evidence, not the mishmash and lack of testing and proof that there really seems to be. The facts that bother me the most in this case are:

* That almost all tests and care recommended by doctors have been forbidden for the last 11 years, including tests necessary to make an informed decision about whether Terri should die or not.

* That within 3 months of receiving the last settlement intended for Terri's therapy and testifying in court that Terri would likely live a normal lifespan and would be given therapy and taken care of during it, Michael posted a DNR order and ordered cessation of all therapy for Terri.

* That both guardians ad litem appointed by the court have recommended further testing for Terri, and that removal of her feeding tubes either not take place at all or not unless the tests were carried out and showed specific results. Also that the first guardian ad litem testified that Michael Schiavo was neglecting his wife's therapy and had admitted conflicts of interest, and should be removed as Terri's guardian.

* That Judge Greer himself seems to have serious conflicts of interest, as do many others in the case.

* That basic care like ice chips, having the window open, basic therapy to keep unused muscles loose, and even a washcloth in her hand have been denied to Terri.

* That the whole thing is just so horribly carried out. So many people on both sides seem to be either terribly biased or incompletent. It's so frustrating!

Anonymous said...

To Purple_Kangaroo_Angela:

Terri Schiavo made her wishes very clear years ago beyond any doubt: she would prefer to die with dignity rather than be kept alive artificially in the kind of vegetative state she is in today.

Three different witnesses have testified that on three separate occasions Mrs. Schiavo expressed this choice, and the courts have upheld her wishes. Read the court testimony instead of right-wing web sites and talk radio.

You're not a neurologist who's tested her and therefore have zero ability to make an intelligent judgement about her condition. So why do you refuse to respect this woman's human dignity and desire to leave this world on her own terms?

Nelson, Roslindale

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

Actually, I have read as much of the court testimony regarding Terri's wishes as I can find. If anyone can point me to a good source for the rest of it, I would be happy to read it in its entirety.

I have tried in vain to find a complete listing of all the documents in Terri's case on the internet and have been able to find only partial listings, most of which seem to be compiled selectively depending on which side they support. I'd really like to find a relatively unbiased source with the documents so they can be sorted in chronological order or by topic/witness.

As for Terri's wishes not to live on life-support: Yes, there were three witnesses (Maichael and two of his close relatives) who testified Terri would not wish to be kept alive by machines if she were brain-dead. They centered around her responses to various situations where life support or the removal thereof was an issue in the deaths of people she was acquainted with or somehow knew of.

One was a situation where a parent made the decision to take a brain-dead infant off life support (not just feeding) and one was a situation where a terminally ill elderly person's life and presumably pain were only prolonged by life support as they were dying anyway. I am not sure what the other was--can anyone remind me? I'm going to have to go back and look at that some more--I'm having trouble finding the sources I previously read at the moment, and would like to find more.

I wonder, if Terri was so adamant about it, why she didn't mention it to anyone other than Michael and his family?

Since it has been well-established that Michael does have conflicts of interest and reasons to want her to die (including the fact that he is already common-law married to another woman and he can't have access to the money (what there is left of it after paying lawyers) unless she is dead), this type of thing does carry some weight--especially considering (and this is something that wouldn't carry much weight at all with me alone) that a former girlfriend of Michael's at one time was willing to testify that he told her he lied about Terri's statments regarding her wish to not be on life support.

Michael himself testified under oath in his malpractice lawsuit regarding Terri that he planned to keep Terri in therapy and alive for the duration of her natural life (and that his "change of heart" and sudden memory of Terri's wishes occurred just three months after receiving that settlement). He had been told already at that point by a couple of doctors that there was very little chance of significant progress or recovery (although, interestingly enough, her medical records do from what I can tell show significant improvement in some areas and therapy making a difference, although there was little progress noted in other areas)--so did he just "remember" Terri's wishes a few months later, or did he lie under oath in one case or the other?

There were also at least three people who testified that Terri disagreed with other cases where patients were taken off life support, and that they should not be killed by having the machines turned off.

One of them was a childhood friend of Terri's, Diane Meyer, who testified that around 1982 Terri saw a movie about Karen Ann Quinlan and became quite agitated and angry, saying that nobody had the right to terminate a life and that Quinland's life support should NOT be removed.

The basis on which Judge Greer threw out Meyer's testimony and deemed it invalid and not worthy of taking into consideration in the case? Greer said that since Terri's friend testified as to her using present tense language in reference to Quinlan as though she were alive, this incident could not have happened in 1982 because Quinland died in 1976. But he was wrong. Quinland died in 1985. He threw out this otherwise reliable tesimony and refused to consider it based on that error.

Based on that "fact," he also said that Terri was too young at the time, if it was said when Quinland was alive, to have a real opinion about her own treatment. She was 18 or 19 at the time, not 11 or 12 as Greer errenously thought.

The whole idea that Terri's using present tense language to discuss the situation would discredit it anyway doesn't make sense to me in the first place. Terri had just finished watching a movie which placed it in a real and present tense in her mind and showed the conflict happening right in front of her in what seemed to be present time on the screen. Many people would use present-tense verbs in such a situation--the use of the present tense alone seems awfully slim reasoning to disregard testimony that even Judge Greer said he would have found convincing otherwise.

There are also at least four witnesses who believe that Terri is currently capable of having an opinion and has strongly attempted to communicate that she does wish to live.

Another relevant factor is that when Terri made her alleged statements, food and water (including feeding tubes) were NOT defined as life support under Florida law. So there is no way to argue that she could possibly have had specifically the removal of feeding tubes in mind when she made those statements. When she made those statements, a feeding tube was not life support and could not be legally withdrawn in this type of situation.

In the absence of written proof, it would seem that Terri may have, like most of us, had somewhat fluctuating opinions on the matter depending on the particulars of the case she was discussing and her state of mind at the time. We certainly do not know whether, in her mind, food and water in the absence of any other type of life support would qualify as "being kept alive by machines." There is ample medical evidence that Terri can swallow, and testimony even from Dr. "Death" Cranford, who advocated allowing Terri to die, that she could possibly be fed by mouth without the use of feeding tubes at all. I certainly doubt that if she were in a position to decide she would refuse to allow medical personnel to carry out a basic comfort measure like moistening her mouth with ice chips or a wet washcloth as she dies.

I believe she very likely could have made comments that she wouldn't want to be kept alive in Michael's grandmother's position, and that she didn't blame a mother for taking a dying infant off life support. I would have said the same things.

I have made such comments myself several times, but would never have dreamed that they would be used to carry out the withdrawl of food and water when there were no major body systems being replaced by machines, and when there was at lest some level of brain activity and responses. I have signed an organ donor card and have made my wishes very clear in that area, but there's no way I would want someone to harvest my organs when I was not dead, not completely brain-dead, and not facing imminent death.

At this point I think it probably is too late for Terri, and that enough damage has been done that at this point it is probably too late to help her by reinserting feeding tubes. But I certainly hope that an autopsy will be done to discover the true extent of her brain damage, especially since there is significant disagreement of opinion about it. It could also be useful in helping to determine the cause of her collapse in the first place, which is still not known and has not been fully investigated.

I hope the matter will continue to be looked into and maybe a new trial with a different judge would be held, starting over and hearing the evidence from scratch. I am not sure if this could be done by a lawsuit, trial or what, but I would like to see some of the outstanding questions answered.

I also hope that this situation will spur the passage of some new laws requiring a more stringent standard of proof when a person's life or death is at stake.

Finally, I would like to see the "including food and water" clause taken out of the law governing what constitutes life support that can be removed, particularly in the case of a non-terminal patient.

Anonymous said...

Well, Angela, the fact that you haven't read all of the court documents & testimony further proves my point that you are too ignorant of the facts to make an intelligent judgement. Nor were you present to see and hear the various people Judge Greer and other courts heard to evaluate their credibility.

Judge Greer is a conservative Christian Republican; his decisions have been reviewed numerous times by state and federal courts and qualified medical professionals -- all of whom upheld Terri's right to die with human dignity as she wished.

You keep repeating the false right-wing spin that Michael Schiavo has a "conflict of interest" because of settlement money he received as Terri's husband (nearly all of which has been spent on her care). But it's her parents who have a conflict of interest since they would be entitled to any settlement money if Michael ever gave up custody. Michael even refused one-million dollars offered him by a right-wing activist to transfer custody to the Schindler's; clearly he's not in this for the money.

You also repeated the right-wing lie that there are 4 "witnesses" who "think Terri is capable of forming an opinion." This is self-serving nonsense; you can't "witness" a vegetative state any more than you can "witness" fibromyalgia by looking at someone. And one of your "witnesses" is the crackpot who flasely claimed he was a Nobel Prize nominee.

No, it's not "too late for Terri," because she is finally being allowed to exit with the dignity that has been denied her by religious fanatics for 15 years; while sad at anyone's passing, you ought to be glad for her that her wishes are finally being respsected.

Nelson, Roslindale

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

Nelson, Roslindale--have YOU read all the testimony in the case? If so, can you point me to the sources where I can find a good compilation?

If not, then I think you are being inconsistent in believing that YOU have a right to form an opinion without having read every single word of the documents, yet if anyone else disagrees with you they don't have a right to an opinion.

For someone who claims to know enough about the case to make a judgement, I'm really surprised that you would make the statement you did about the money.

It's general knowledge and well-supported by both sides that the lawsuit money is in a trust for Terri and belongs to her. As long as she lives, nobody--not Michael, not her parents, not anybody--can use that money at their discretion.

That money is, as long as Terri lives, ONLY to be used for her care and cannot be spent or taken out of the trust at will. It was a stretch even for Judge Greer to approve the use of the fund to pay legal bills for lawyers trying to have Terri's feeding tubes removed.

That money was received on the basis of Michael's and others' sworn testimony of how much money would be required to care for and provide therapy for Terri in the likelihood that she would live a natural lifespan, and was the amount needed for that purpose, earmarked to be spent only for that purpose. Nobody but Terri can benefit from that money unless Terri is dead.

As for Terri's inheritance, I believe her parents have offered to sign over their rights to both that and the insurance settlement if Michael would just give them custody of Terri and allow them to care for her.

I can't find the links where I read that at the moment though, so let's assume for a moment that both sides have conflicts of interest and stand to gain financially from receiving custody of Terri. (Note, though, that even in this scenario Terri's parents would only benefit from her death, not her life--and it's likely that if she lived a natural lifespan all the funds would be used up by the time of her death.)

Wouldn't it make sense to have an independent party representing her interests in that case? This is, I believe, legally required at the current time. And yet there have only at brief times been a Guardian Ad Litem to represent Terri and her interests in this case.

Richard Pierce was Guardian Ad Litem for 6 months in 1998 and Jay Wolfson for a 30-day periods in 2003--a total of 7 months of representation by an independent party looking to her interests, which is a very small percentage of the total number of months Terri's case has been dealt with--I am not counting any time Judge Greer may have acted in essence as GAL because he is the judge in the case and does not qualify officially as a GAL. In neither case were the GAL's recommendations followed. (See their statements here (Richard L. Pearse, Jr., 1998) and here (Jay Wolfson, 2003) for more info.)

Even though there are questions about the accuracy of some of the assumptions and statements of fact made in Wolfson's report (he did, after all, have only a scant 30 days to accomplish a herculean task), he and others requested more time with him as her GAL to look into matters further and was denied it. Judge Greer ruled in January, on the basis of PENDING litigation questioning the constitutionality of requiring a guardian ad litem, that a guardian ad litem was unconstitutional and that Terri did not need one.

I do not doubt that every single person involved in the case has biases and motives--in the Schindler's case, both their love for their daughter and their strong religious views and moral convictions about the sanctity of life play largely into their actions. That's one reason why I think having a guardian ad litem during the entire proceedings should have been essential.

Regarding your statement that "nobody can witness a PVS" that seems rather irrelevant since we are not talking about "witnessing a PVS" but rather about witnessing specific actions and vocalizations.

As for the "four witnesses" I did not read that anywhere . . . I came up with that number on my own by adding two plus two in my head--Terri's two parents, who say that Terri can communicate and wants to live, and the two people (Weller and Vitadamo) who made signed and witnessed affadavits that Terri said "Ah Wa" when asked to say "I want to live." I included in my count only situations where I was able to find and read statements where the person who actually heard the vocalizations said they believed Terri was trying to communicate that she wanted to live.

If you have read the document denying the petition regarding that, you will know that this testimony was not discredited or disproven in any way. Rather Greer's argument was that, although Terri did make those sounds, she was responding to the touch on her arm rather than to the words spoken, and that he judged this to be a reflexive response rather than indicative of thought and purpose.

He also said that the petition was not valid because the evidence was not presented at the hearing the day after the affadavits were made (which leads me for the umpteenth time to ask where Schindler's lawyers brains were, but that's beside the point). Nobody disputes the facts--it's only the interpretation of them that differs.

If you're just looking at witnesses who say she is aware and can speak, there are more than four--add, for starters, the two nurses who made affadavits to the fact and Terri's MediPlex records.

I actually have read all of Judge Greer's statements about Diane Meyer's testimony, and my comments about his reasons for throwing out her testimony were based on his own words in the documents he wrote, not some "right-wing website" that I read.

I try very hard to not make a judgement on something until I have read the actual documents, or at least what seems to be a fairly reliable representation of them from several different sources which present different perspectives on them but agree as to the essence of what is being commented on.

If you'll look at the posts on my blog, here, and elsewhere, you will see that (unless it's something I've already dealt with and linked to extensively in an earlier post) I try to never make a statement of fact without linking to the original document being quoted or a source where it can be found.

If I do ever make such a statement without support, I certainly would not expect it to carry much weight, but rather to be treated as conjecture or hearsay, just as I treat unsupported statements by others.

But I would be very interested to know how many people, in reading my posts and forming opinions about them, actually follow all the links and look at the documents I am referencing to judge for themselves? Don't just take my word for it, please! Look at the documents.

Or are they, as several people have accused me of, relying on someone else's representation of the facts without taking the many hours necessary to research it and form opinions for themselves?

My opinions and research on the matter are still in progress. As someone who cares about the facts and didn't enter this discussion with the same view I have now, but am still in the process and willing to reconsider, I've asked several times for people to provide edivence.

I'm sorry, but simply saying that I'm swallowing the right-wing media's line and making accusations, calling names, and making unsupported statements is not a good way to convince anyone of anything. Many of you are accusing others of what you actually do yourselves.

I try very hard to be a careful thinker and not make a judgement about something based on heresay--my goal when I read something is to search through the various links until I find the original source, and draw my conclusions from that rather than from someone's opinion of it.

And yet many here would call me a "follower" and say I'm swallowing the right-wing activist line when I disagree with you (collective you), but expect me to take your word for it without providing any proof or referencing the original documents when you make statments of fact or judgement about the case, or say that people are lying. You are asking me to do exactly what you're condemning. Don't you see that as just a little bit inconsistent?

BTW, nobody has yet provided any proof that everyone who believes Terri is interactive is lying--for instance, some burning questions include these: if the nurses are lying where are the documents showing their being convicted of perjury for lying in court or having action taken against their nurses' licenses?

If Weller is lying, where is the action taken against her by the bar or anyone else for lying under oath, and where are the statements from Michael Schiavo and the police officer who were also present, giving their perspectives on the incident?

In the absence of such evidence it's pure conjecture to say that a given person committed perjury unless, for instance, you can show that the same person made two conflicting statments which cannot both be true, or made a statement which is directly contradicted by their own actions.

As I've said before, a difference of opinion in interpreting given facts does not in itself prove that either party is intentionally lying.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

BTW, I don't listen to talk radio either, and I don't have particular web sites I depend upon. When looking for info. about something I often do a keyword search and look at as many of the hits as I have time for, giving the greatest weight to actual documents and the more impartial-seeming sources.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

OK, I've been doing some more research and found a site that has quite a few of the documents. It's at http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html

An especially interesting fact I've run across is that in the injunction for relief from judgement filed by the Schindlers, they asked for a monetary settlement for pain and suffering to go to them. So I will agree that there is some evidence that they have possibly at least to some extent been discredited when it comes to money issues.

As Judge Greer stated, both parties have potential conflicts of interest and stand to benefit financially if they win.

That doesn't change my opinion that there should have been a Guardian Ad Litem throughout the proceedings to represent Terri's interests, since everyone else seems to be rather seriously biased and have conflicts of interest.

I'm working on a list of questions I haven't seen answered to post on my blog, and the question of why the Schindlers included a request to receive a financial settlement for themselves in that order will definitely be included.

purple_kangaroo_Angela

Anonymous said...

No, I haven't read all the testimony in the case, which is why I (unlike you) respect the judgement of the independent medical professionals and numerous courts who have, and who concluded that Terri Schiavo's right to die with dignity should be respected.

Terri Schiavo made her views clear that she would not want to be mainatined in a vegetative state like this for years and years.

But because you are an ideologue, you are clinging to any piece of gobbledeygook you can find to rationalize disrespecting her rights and human dignity --incomplete court documents, anecdotes, video clips, and wild claims by biased individuls (whom you spin as "witnesses") who haven't performed and are not qualified to perform neurological tests.

Have you no sense of decency at all? This isn't some freakish smorgasbord put out to satisfy your ideological appetites. Show some repsect for Terri and Michael Schiavo's desire for basic human dignity and privacy; stop being a parasite on their suffering.

Nelson, Roslindale

Anonymous said...

As I see it, the husband is the good guy here. He could have walked away from this mess a millionaire last week but chose to stick it out to fulfill his wife's wishes. He's even agreed to an autopsy before cremation to prove the condition of Terri's brain.

S.G.

The parents, on the other hand, have decided to sell their donor list to a conservative direct mail company. Truly morbid.

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

That is sickening that the parents would even consider selling their donor list. The more I read about the facts of this case, the less I respect pretty much everyone involved on both sides.

As for why I or any other American citizen who is not directly involved should care about what is going on here or has a right to discuss the issue, try to understand it as best we can, and form opinions about it, here's my take on it:

This has become a national issue because of the involvement of the legal system and all three branches of the government. It is no longer a private family issue. Terri's case and others like it will set precedence that affects us all. Also, it will probably affect many of our votes about what laws and elected officials we put into position.

I generally have a pretty high opinion and trust of our system of goverment, especially when all three branches with all the checks and balances are operating correctly. But I don't automatically think that any one branch or, most particularly, any one judge, is infallible.

(As an aside: To my understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong, Judge Greer is the only judge who has heard/reviewed all the testimony and evidence, determined the admissibility of evidence, evaluated the validity and nature (i.e. whether they were clear and convincing or not) of the facts and testimony, and made decisions such as the prohibiting Terri being given food and water by mouth (including ice chips, which are universally considered standard and necessary care for a patient whose food and water have been stopped--even according to the Hemlock Society).

The appeals were not the same as a fresh trial with all the evidence being considered, but rather evaluations of technicalities and procedures that took place in Judge Greer's courtroom, weren't they?--aside ended :) )

It does immediately capture my interest and concern me when I hear that two branches of our government feel that they need to intervene and put in place some of the checks and balances that are supposed to keep one of the other branches from "running away with the ball."

My general reaction in such a situation is that the President and the legislative branch of the government would not be stepping in without an awfully good reason. So that in itself leads me to question what is going on.

I am still learning a lot about this case, as well as the law and our governing systems in general, and my opinions are developing from day to day. Discussing it and hearing other people's input is a part of the learning and opinion-forming process.

My sister, who is training in the medical field, just started taking a class in law and ethics in the medical field and they will be debating the Schiavo case as part of the class. I see nothing wrong with that and think it will be useful and beneficial in the training of future medical personell.

Our discussing it and then the nation's laws being affected in the future by our opinions regarding it doesn't actually affect what's happening to Terri, and is part of the way our democratic republic works.

The precedents and laws set as a result of this case will affect all of us, and we will all have a part in them in at least some small way. So being concerned about it is quite natural and normal. There's nothing indecent about it.

Angela

purple_kangaroo_Angela said...

BTW, my current theory is that it's possible both sides could be telling the truth and acting in good faith in this case. :)