- Created on 29 April 2013
U.S marshals arrested Everett Dutschke, 41, of Tupelo, Mississippi, Saturday morning for mailing letters laced with the poison ricin to President Barack Obama and two other public officials, report Reuters.
According to the DJ Journal, Dutschke was charged with “knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and p...
- Created on 28 April 2013
The Cochran Firm Atlanta attorneys Jane Lamberti Sams, Shean Williams and Edtora Jones recently obtained a $17.5 million verdict on behalf of clients, Patrick and Angela Merritt, in a medical malpractice lawsuit against The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority d/b/a Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory University. The case was tried in DeKalb County State Court before Judge Wayne Purdom.
The Merritt family sued anesthesiologist Dr. James Richardson and physician's assistant Richard Nardi on behalf of their 24-year-old son, Sheriod, who was left with a severe brain injury after elective surgery went wrong on April 11, 2008.
On April 9, 2008, then 19-year-old Sheriod was struck in the jaw by a stray bullet as he was leaving a Lovejoy, Ga., Wal-Mart with friends. While the wound was not life-threatening, Sheriod was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment. By April 11, doctors decided to repair Sheriod's broken jaw even though they were aware their patient's airway remained partially obstructed and swollen.
As Sheriod was being moved from the OR table post surgery, the anesthesia team did not follow a proper extubation plan, allowing Sheriod to become uncontrollable, flip over on the bed and dislodge his endotracheal (breathing) tube. Sheriod was without oxygen for approximately 7-8 minutes as doctors tried unsuccessfully to re-intubate his obstructed swollen airway. As a result, Sheriod suffered a severe brain injury.
Testimony during the trial was very emotional. Sheriod's father, Patrick Merritt, talked about how anxious his son was prior to surgery. He recalled, through tears, the last thing his son said to him was, "I love you, dad."
Attorney Jane Lamberti Sams told jurors, "Sheriod walked into Grady Hospital with a minor gunshot wound to the jaw and left with a severe brain injury. Sheriod's combative behavior was foreseeable and if the anesthesiologists followed their own plan, Sheriod would have been fine."
In his closing argument, attorney Shean Williams told the jury, "Grady tried to run from their own records. The notes created by the doctors at the time of treatment clearly showed there was time to safely care for Sheriod's airway after the surgery. With proper attention, Sheriod would be able to walk, talk, play with his son and do all the things a 24-year-old should be doing."
The jury deliberated a day-and-a-half before reaching its verdict late last month.
- Created on 27 April 2013
Dr. Ben Carson, the celebrated neurosurgeon who has recently become a rising star among political conservatives, was a big hit in Atlanta this week at the Fulton County Republican Party’s Spring Reception, termed “An Evening With Dr. Carson.”
The event at the Westin Buckhead was attended by some of the state’s biggest names including Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and majority Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, the number two Republican in the Georgia House.
Carson’s name has quickly become one of the most hallowed in GOP circles and he’s been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. Though the neurosurgeon has maintained he has “no intention of running for political office,” his talk Thursday night hit on more than a few political notes.
“One of the problems that we’re facing in the nation now is we don’t seem to learn,” said Carson in response to a question about government assistance. “We look at things happening and they’re not working, so we say, ‘Let’s double down on it. Let’s do it even more.’ This is idiotic.”
Before his speech to a room that event organizers tallied at 500 people, Carson spoke to a handful of VIPs who had shelled out $500 each for a chance to meet with him one-on-one and get a copy of his latest book, “America The Beautiful.”
He was introduced by Gov. Deal who was unable to stay for the event because of a commitment to host a homeless shelter fundraiser in Gainesville. During his introduction, the governor showered Carson with effusive praise, calling him “an inspirational figure.”
“People like Dr. Carson come along rarely in our lives and when we do have those individuals we certainly need to listen to their story, listen to what they have to say, the instructions that they have to give,” he said.
Carson is the author of six books, including his autobiography “Gifted Hands,” which was the subject of a made-for-television movie in 2009. And though he is still acting director of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, his apparent criticism of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act legislation during February’s National Prayer Breakfast has garnered him high praise from conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.
Since that speech he has been on something of a nationwide tear, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March and on Fox News the same month. The latter appearance landed him in some hot water because of a comment he made comparing homosexuality to bestiality and child molestation. The comments generated a petition from Johns Hopkins University students asking the administration to remove Carson as their commencement speaker. He eventually decided to withdraw.
But the controversy seems to have only strengthened his resolve. His speech to the full house of the Fulton GOP consisted of many of the themes he has hit since the prayer breakfast, including a particular emphasis on education.
He called for the Republican party to support schools being funded statewide, rather than by individual community income, saying the current process "leads to disproportionate allocation of resources that is not beneficial to society."
He also dove into themes like stopping political correctness, problems with the US tax code, welfare and government assistance, American exceptionalism, the national debt and deficit and poverty. But he spent the majority of his time talking about his family, particularly his mother who was one of 24 children and had only a third grade education.
“I’ve been successful only because I had a mother that wouldn’t give up on me when everybody else did,” Carson said. “She helped me to discover that the person in the world who has the most to do with what happened to you was you.”
His speech received a standing ovation.
“Here is a guy that has personified all the things that make America great,” said District 6 State Senator Hunter Hill, who attended the speech and VIP reception. “The fact that he can do that, you know, he can come from nothing and become a brain surgeon; brain surgeons are the most impressive people in our culture and so he achieved that and we want to do nothing but honor that.”
Though Carson has called himself an Independent and suggested that he has no political affiliation at times, he did routinely talk about how Republicans could be more successful, particularly in poor and Black communities.
“When we look at the big picture, what we have to think about when we look out there in some of the depressed sections of Atlanta and we see desperate kids running around and we see how many people being incarcerated, what we need to do is say, ‘What can we do to stop that?’ And the answer is not more handouts," he said. "For every one of those little kids that goes down the path of self-destruction that’s one more person that we have to be afraid of and protect our family from. So we really can’t afford to let them go down go down that path.”
When asked by the Daily World how he would personally further the goal of bringing more African Americans to the Republican party, he responded, “by talking about it like I am right now.”
- Created on 28 April 2013
Long after the school day ends, nearly half the students enrolled at Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta spend an extra four hours in class looking to hone their math and reading skills by using such items as a deck of cards for subtraction problems and staplers and crayons to practice taking measurements.
While this Atlanta public school wasn't ensnared in a massive cheating scandal that led to criminal charges against the district's former superintendent and 34 other educators, it's a sign of the intensive work being done across the district to remediate children affected by allegations of forged test scores, as well as those who have simply fallen behind.
''It is clear that students were deprived of services that they should have received if their test scores had been adequately and appropriately recorded,'' Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis said in a recent interview.
''We certainly have a larger than average percentage of people not performing at the appropriate levels, and those are the students we are trying to get into our remediation programs and those for which we are designing programs on an ongoing basis.''
With state standardized tests beginning in Atlanta on Tuesday, teachers are anxious to find out how their students are progressing. One recently told Burgess-Peterson Principal Robin Robbins he feared three of his students may not pass. She reassured him, telling him to focus on how much progress they had already made in his class.
''The wider the gap, the harder it is,'' Robbins said. ''So that's why we really spend a lot of time working with students early on. Kindergarten, first grade, if you see the gaps, then you need to attack them then. If not, they are going to grow larger and larger, and before you know it, the graduation rate is the way that it is.''
At Burgess-Peterson, specialized teachers are brought in to drill students on math and reading concepts, with students moving to different classrooms to provide a physical break from the regular school day.
On a recent Friday, second-graders were moving among ''rotation stations'' using flash cards, a deck of cards and dice to work out math problems involving subtraction.
Upstairs, third-graders were broken into small groups with a few working math problems on a bank of computers along the classroom wall and others in two groups working closely with a teacher and a teacher's aide. Meanwhile, three girls sat on the floor practicing their measurements using a stapler, crayon and sticky note.
Robbins said the classroom was emblematic of instructional learning focused on targeted needs.
''We don't do a lot of skill and drill,'' Robbins said. ''We try to engage the students.''
The costs of the remediation program have been estimated at $4 million for a district with just over 51,000 students and an operating budget of $574 million for the 2013 fiscal year.
''It's driven by instructional programs, not just after-school care for students. It's not just homework help,'' said district spokesman Stephen Alford.
The remediation efforts are just one step the school system, which includes 93 traditional and 13 charter schools, has taken in the wake of the cheating scandal.
Besides removing some 180 educators accused of cheating and installing 60 new principals, the district launched mandatory, annual ethics training. Under the policy, every employee has to take an online course and pass a written test covering everything from falsifying an expense report to changing students' answers on a test. Employees who do not receive 100 percent on the test have to repeat the course until they do.
The training was initially implemented by former Superintendent Beverly Hall, who is among those facing charges, though Davis added the test and made it mandatory for all employees, Alford said.
Other steps include installing ''automatic trigger points,'' which use technology to identify test scores that are higher or lower than expected. The district has also recruited an employee at each school to take on the role of ''ethics advocate'' to ensure employees have the resources and support they need on ethical issues.
As for Davis, a former university system chancellor initially hired for three months as interim superintendent, he's focused on working through the challenges facing the district and making plans for a permanent replacement to take over sometime next year.
''I believe there is still a lot of work to do,'' Davis said. ''I believe, however, that we are putting the system on a clear path with a clear plan that the next superintendent coming in will not have to reinvent the wheel. That superintendent will not have to discover, as I did, the depth of the problems and the challenges that we have.''
- Created on 26 April 2013
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that will stop the furloughs of air traffic controllers that have been blamed for widespread airport delays this week.
Beginning Monday, passengers at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were told they would experience travel delays up to three hours long. About 15,000 Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers have been affected by the furloughs.
With 361-41 vote, the legislation passed just a day after Senate approved the measure. The bipartisan agreement would grant budget planners, within the transportation department, new flexibility for dealing with forced spending cuts.
The nation's largest pilots union and Airlines for America, which represents major airline carriers, filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) because of the furloughs for the control tower workers.
Legislators were preparing to leave Washington for a week-long recess as they voted.
President Barack Obama has yet to sign the bill. Once the bill is signed by the president, authorities will be able to protect about 150 control towers slated for closure.
The furloughs and closures are a result of the $85 billion government wide cuts that took effect in March, known as sequestration.
A White House spokesman said the new bill is a band-aid that doesn't address the overall threats the across the board cuts pose to the economy.