Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Dead Coming Back To Haunt

This Blog's posting of 4 March 2007 critiques Dr. Ahmed Rashed, a medical resident who removed a hand from a cadaver, and provided said hand to a stripper acquaintance, whose purpose in procuring the cadaver hand is not clear but certainly of zero or less social value. Said posting, in turn, mentions a Dr. Ivan Oransky, a medical resident who leaked to the New York Times the medical records of a particular patient with whom the resident had no doctor-patient relationship.

Well, the sawbones are at it again! A number of years ago, med student (now MD) Aaron Hartman posed giving the double thumbs-up sign next to his cadaver, and the photo was placed by resident physician Dr. Erica Katz on her Facebook page. Dr. Katz has, of course, been called onto the carpet, and has removed the offending and offensive photo. There is, of course, speculation as to whether the family of the deceased cadaver might seek redress in the courts, and the legal eagles and risk management wonks at the University Hospital at Stony Brook are, no doubt, cracking the law books in preparation for the legal defense they most likely will need to mount.

UHSB cannot do nothing to Dr. Katz because giving her a complete pass would make potential donors think twice before willing their bodies to UHSB. On the other hand, they also do not want to waste any more than necessary (oxymoron intentional) their investment (largely the taxpayers' money) in Dr. Katz.

If Dr. Rashed's misbehavior is worth a 10, then Dr. Oransky's rates about 8.5 or 9, and Dr. Katz's rates about a 2 or 3.

My wife, who is a physician, seems to think that Dr Katz will be slapped with a suspension for a week or two or three, provided that this is Dr. Katz's only significant transgression during her residency. I would tend to agree that a penalty of that magnitude would be appropriate.

But it would seem to me that Dr. Katz's indiscretion is more the stuff of undergrad students (or, possibly, 1st year med students) than a graduated physician who has obtained the MD.

I did see the original photo without the photoshopping out of the cadaver. The cadaver's facial features are more likely than not recognizable to the decedent's family. I would not be surprised if there were a lawsuit, and if the defendants include not only Dr. Katz, but also UHSB and Dr. Hartman.

And when (not if) Drs. Katz and Hartman get sued for malpractice at some points in their respective careers (such is an inevitability for a physician), this fiasco will likely be mentioned in the settlement negotiations if not in the evidence at trial.

Note to Drs. Hartman and Katz:

"Those who have no respect for the dead can have but little appreciation of the dignity of man, either living or dead."

Kotal v. Goldberg, 375 Pa. 397, 404-05, 100 A.2d 630, 634 (Pa. 1953) (Musmanno, J.).

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Good Name for Tefillin

The story has already saturated the internet news: Chautauqua Airlines Flight 3079 from New York (LaGuardia) to Louisville was diverted to Philadelphia, where Calev Liebowitz and his little sister were handcuffed and taken the plane. Why? Because Calev was praying his morning prayers with his tefillin ("phylacteries" in English/Greek), of which the stewardess was totally clueless. Once the Philadelphia Police realized what had happened, Calev and sister were released and sent on their merry way to Louisville.

Because I myself have a pair of tefillin which I lay on every day (except the Sabbath and Jewish festivals), I know exactly what they are and how they are used. But the fact is that most of the American population does not know what tefillin are. Accordingly, the stewardess was suspicious, and the pilot acted on the side of caution (he probably didn't know too much about tefillin either).

Of course, I now hear everyone in my own socioreligious circles screaming "anti-Semitism" and calling for the stewardess's termination. But the way I call it, everyone acted properly under the circumstances:

The Stewardess on Flight 3079: She saw Calev wrap two black boxes with long straps around his arm and over his head, respectively. She didn't know what they were. She said something. This was appropriate behavior (given that she didn't know what tefillin were).

The Pilot on Flight 3079: He decided to err on the side of caution after hearing the story second-hand from the Stewardess. This was an appropriate decision.

The Law Enforcement Officers: Working on a third-hand story, they handcuffed the suspected would-be bomber. Once they realized that he was just a religious Jew praying with his tefillin, they immediately released him. This was quite appropriate.

Calev Liebowitz: (A) He properly said his morning prayers with his tefillin. (B) He did it unobtrusively in his seat and didn't disrupt other passengers by trying to gather 10 or more Jewish men (a "minyan") all together in the aisles. (C) He totally cooperated with the cops and apparently didn't give them any backtalk. He behaved appropriately.

And so, all individuals involved appropriately (although the whole thing was certainly a collective over-reaction). But Chautauqua Airlines, the Philadelphia International Airport, the law enforcement authorities and the other passengers on Flight 3079 could have been spared the expenditure of much time, money and aggravation if only Chautauqua Airlines would have instructed its flight crews as to what tefillin are.

At the other end of the spectrum is some totally inappropriate behavior. Martin Grossman, now residing on death row in Florida, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on 16 February 2010. Martin Grossman is Jewish, and so, I am now being beseeched by certain groups to ask Governor Crist to spare Grossman's life. My gut reaction is that whenever a fellow Jew is in danger, I must go and help him or her. But under the circumstances, I must now ask myself what I would advocate if it were, instead of a Jewish criminal killing a Gentile victim, the situation were reversed. And so, stripping everyone of all religious and ethnic and gender labels, we have the following:

A 19-year-old person on probation from jail for a felony burglary and theft offense is high on drugs, has gone outside of the county and is in possession of a firearm, all in contravention of the terms of the person's probation. The person encounters a law enforcement officer, whom the person brutally beats because the law enforcement officer is about to report the person's misdeeds. The person then takes the law enforcement officer's weapon, and, while the law enforcement officer is forcibly wedged into the patrol car, shoots the law enforcement officer in the back of the head with the weapon, killing the law enforcement officer. The person and the person's accomplice then try to destroy and hide the evidence.

I really, really hate to see another Jew die, but Martin Grossman has given me damn little to work with in constructing an argument for mercy or lenity on his behalf.

Well now, it seems that Rabbi Menachem Katz of the Aleph Institute has been visiting Martin Grossman in prison. [This is appropriate behavior if, as I believe to be the case here, the visitor is not smuggling any contraband and is visiting in compliance with the prison visitation rules. The Aleph Institute is a credible organization, which offers its outreach services to Jews who are removed from the mainstream community. This obviously includes prison inmates, but Aleph Institute also reaches out to Jewish military personnel who are not in ready touch with Jewish communities.].

It has been reported that Grossman has requested a proper Jewish burial in the event that the execution is carried out. This I can endorse. Every Jew is entitled to a proper Jewish burial. The Hebrew Free Burial Association does precisely that for indigent Jewish decedents in the New York area (I myself send a check to HFBA every year). Surely a proper Jewish burial can be arranged for Grossman. They probably can dispense with the autopsy. And I do not doubt that there are Jewish law enforcement officers in Florida who would be willing to stand watch over the body between the time of death and the time of burial.

And, as further detailed per this Blog's 19 August 2009 posting, Grossman is entitled to a memorial plaque on a Yahrzeit board. The Jewish community of Florida is quite affluent, so I'm sure that they will find a way to underwrite Grossman's proper Jewish burial and Yahrzeit plaque.

Rabbi Katz also reports that he arranged for "special permission from the warden to allow Grossman to put on Tefillin." This I certainly favor, but hope and pray that Grossman doesn't give tefillin (and those of us who pray with them) a bad name.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Humanitarian Aid without Voodoo

Been out of town on a very frustrating excursion, but now I am back and mostly caught up on my work -- for now.

The big news item, of course, is the devastation from the earthquake in Haiti. Seems that Fat Al Sharpton is going to Haiti tomorrow (Martin Luther King Day) for a "Mercy Mission." If his past activities in America are any indication, one can presume that he will be organizing the rioting and looting down there.

This whole Haiti thing presents a dilemma. On one hand, I do wish to help those disaster victims who are in need. But Haiti is, and always has been, a corruptocracy run by one greedy despot or another. If I donate money to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake, it is unlikely that any more than a few cents out of each hundred dollars will actually go towards helping the victims. Virtually all of that money will likely go into the pockets of the Haitian corruptocrats, whether as embezzled funds or outright bribes. And, based upon prior performance during Hurricane Katrina, I do not trust the American Red DoubleCross.

The solution: ZAKA, the Israeli rescue organization, has sent a delegation to Haiti. Unfortunately, the ZAKAniks have had to deal with many victims of terrorism in Israel. The upside of this is that they have developed much expertise and know-how in aiding victims such as those left in the wake of the quake. And if I support ZAKA, I know that my donations really will be used to help victims. In fact, ZAKA has already pulled off some rescues.

Donation checks can be sent to:

American Friends of ZAKA
1303 53rd St. #170
Brooklyn, NY 11219

[Write "Zaka Haiti Fund" in the Memorandum line of the Check.].

ZAKA's website also has a special secure Haiti Emergency donation webpage for those who use credit cards.

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