Tag Archives: decides

'Who decides whether you're dead?': Ontario court case could prove precedent-setting

The family of Taquisha McKitty will argue in the Ontario Court of Appeal Wednesday that she's still breathing and alive, even though a lower court has declared her dead.

"We're not convinced that she's dead," said Bishop Wendell Brereton from her church, the Breakthrough Temple in Brampton.

He has visited McKitty in hospital and witnessed her movements.

'It's not a corpse lying there. It's a person'

"Legs, arms. From head to toe she's moving," he said. 

"So, it's not a corpse lying there. It's a person."

McKitty was declared dead by doctors more than a year ago after she went into cardiac arrest following a drug overdose and was put on life support.

McKitty's lawyer will argue in appeal court in Toronto that an Ontario Superior Court judge erred in not recognizing McKitty's charter rights, and not taking into account her religious beliefs in a case that could prove precedent-setting.

"Taquisha is alive according to her own religious beliefs," lawyer Hugh Scher writes in a court factum.

He adds that some jurisdictions do take religious beliefs into account before declaring someone dead.

"Taquisha remains alive in Nova Scotia, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere, but according to [Ontario Superior Court] is dead in Ontario."

Doctor's lawyer argues McKitty is dead

Erica Baron, the lawyer representing Dr. Omar Hayani, who first declared McKitty dead at Brampton Civic Hospital, argues Scher is misinterpreting Nova Scotia law, and that McKitty would be considered dead everywhere in Canada.

In her legal arguments, Baron writes that because of the family's doubts regarding McKitty's movements, further neurological tests were done.

Bishop Wendell Brereton of the Breakthrough Temple, McKitty's church, argues that she's still alive, according to her religious beliefs. (Facebook)

"These movements are not brain based," she wrote. 

"If mechanical ventilation was discontinued, her heart would cease beating very quickly."  

'Who decides whether you're dead or not?'

Bio-ethicist Kerry Bowman from the University of Toronto raised a number of questions about the issue.

"Who decides whether you're dead or not?" he asked in a phone interview, adding that as a whole, western societies are more focused on brain activity as an indicator of life than eastern societies.

"Can a doctor say, 'You're dead,' irrespective of what your family and your religion believes to be dead?" 

He believes the courts need to clearly rule on what constitutes death.

In another Ontario case, the family of an Orthodox Jewish man declared brain dead also disputed the finding and went to the courts.

In that case, though, 25-year-old Shalom Ouanounou's heart later stopped beating and a Jewish doctor declared him dead.

The judge in that case then declared the case moot.

Bowman says one uncomfortable part of this issue that can't be ignored is money and the cost of keeping people on life support indefinitely who show no brain activity.

"I'm not saying we should make resource allocation decisions at the bedside, to say, 'This loved one of yours is not worth money.'"

But Bowman does say the courts may need to decide the line between life and death.

In the McKitty case, the Ontario Court of Appeal may not be the end.

Brereton says the church is determined to have the issue heard by the Supreme Court of Canada if the appeal decision is not in their favour.

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Unanswered Questions, Nosy Private Investors: Musk Decides Tesla Won’t Go Private

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Two weeks and two days after Elon Musk tweeted plans to take Tesla private, he pulled a 180-degreee handbrake turn and de-energized the Tesla go-private circuitry. Tesla will remain a public company. What seemed a genius idea to Tesla’s CEO in early August came unglued not long after. The entirety of the go-private money apparently wasn’t there, some board members had doubts, and Musk came to realize that the current lot of pesky investors (including Tesla phanboys) would be replaced by tougher money  men who’d have billions in the pot.

For now, Tesla’s main job reverts to getting Tesla Model 3s out the factory gates and into the hands of buyers, while maintaining or upgrading build quality. The Model S is nice, but the Model 3 is what you build a real car company around. Meanwhile, Tesla that climbed after the going-private tween Aug. 7 did the opposite Monday in the week of Friday’s staying-public blog post. Since this involves Musk, Tesla, tweets, and things that were then weren’t happening, there is a possibility the feds will sniff around for wrongdoing. All par for the course.

The Wall Street Journal, 8/27/18: “Mr. Musk seemed to view such a complex corporate transaction as an engineering problem he could solve—much as he had spent time pursuing the idea of a submarine to rescue a soccer team trapped in the waters of a Thai cave.”

Going Private: a Good Idea as of Aug. 7

A long time ago and yet somehow, still in August, Musk rolled out his proposal to take Tesla private because Tesla stock was worth more than the “ultimate arbiter,” the stock market, believed. Musk’s tweet:

At the time, Tesla was trading at $ 344 a share, making Musk’s stated go-private price a 22 percent premium versus the pre-tweet price. $ 420 a share times Tesla’s number of shares (the market camp, or company’s worth) would have valued Tesla at $ 71 billion, about the same as Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) and surpassed only by Toyota and Volkswagen.

Musk said what most executives say when they want to go private: You’re no longer a slave to quarterly earnings reports, each of which should be better than the previous; as a private company, you can focus on the long term, especially if you have investors who think the same way. He was also unhappy with sniping from critics who were also short-sellers, meaning they’re betting money TSLA stock is headed down.

Musk brought in name investment companies to make it happen, including Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. Silver Lake had helped take Michael Dell’s eponymous company private after a quarter-century as a public concern. (It may not have been lost on Tesla that Dell later went public again.)

Reality Sinks In: Aug. 8-Aug. 23

The New York Times, 8/26/18

Right off the bat, Wall Street griped that Musk’s plan was – stop us if you’ve heard this before – longer on promise than detail. Musk did say the Saudi Arabia sovereign investment fund (a fund held by the country to benefit the country as a whole, in theory at least) was ready to step up and handle much of the financing. Plus, the fund already has a 5 percent stake in TSLA shares. The Securities and Exchange Commission reportedly wanted to know the baseis for Musk saying “funding secured.”

Musk liked Tesla fans who hold some Tesla stock now. He also liked the idea of savvier pro investors with a longer-term outlook. But with that comes tougher questions for the boss. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Taking Tesla private also would displace legions of small-fry stockholders—a merry band of electric-car fanatics willing to look past Tesla’s rickety finances and its struggle to master the skill of mass-producing automobiles. Taking their place would be more sophisticated investors tugging on a tighter leash.

Meanwhile, The New York Times, sent four reporters after a up-close story on Musk, Elon Musk Details ‘Excruciating’ Personal Toll of Tesla Turmoil. Musk talked about an “exhausting summer” and said,  “It’s not been great, actually. I’ve had friends come by who are really concerned.” The story said Musk’s “Am considering taking Tesla private” tweet was written on an early morning drive (in a Model S) to the airport. Musk said he wanted to offer a 20 percent premium over Tesla’s then-current stock price, which would have made the go-private repurchase $ 419 a share, then “decided to round up to $ 420 — a number that has become code for marijuana in counterculture lore.” He also told The Times, “It seemed like better karma at $ 420 than $ 419.” The paper expanded on his drug use and possible consequences:

To help sleep when he is not working, Mr. Musk said he sometimes takes Ambien. “It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien,” he said. But this has worried some board members, who have noted that sometimes the drug does not put Mr. Musk to sleep but instead contributes to late-night Twitter sessions, according to a person familiar with the board’s thinking. Some board members are also aware that Mr. Musk has on occasion used recreational drugs, according to people familiar with the matter.

Automotive News, 8/28/18: “For many investors, Tesla without Musk is like mornings without coffee: Why bother? … And yet, replacing Musk has become a hot topic in the past week …”

Musk Pulls the Plug: Aug. 24

Other feedback got back to Tesla and the Tesla board. A lot of it was mixed. Some of it was picked up by the media and some of it was generated by the media in other profiles and what-if stories about Musk:

  • Saudi officials were ticked with a Musk tweet that Saudi money would be a big chunk of the go-private funds. Some sources now say the Saudis never made a formal investment offer. Even Saudi money is not infinite. The fund reportedly was considered an investment in a Tesla competitor.
  • Tesla’s board generally backed Musk. But some were taken aback by his penchant for firing off tweets at random hours that upset the market, something seen as unwise even if it’s also seen as presidential. (At least Musk doesn’t tweet in CAPS.)
  • Big Mutual funds holding large shares of Tesla stock might not be able to hold shares in a private company. That meant, for instance, that Fidelity, a big supporter, might have to unload its holdings.
  • One potential investor being lined up was Volkswagen. It then occurred to Tesla that a major investor which is basing its future on electric vehicles is not an ideal investor because it might want to share some of Tesla’s technologies.
  • Automotive News prepared and last week published a story, Could Tesla Survive Without Elon Musk? AN is the industry’s go-to publication for automotive information but it’s also Detroit- and auto-dealer centric. (The issue’s lead editorial said car subscription services such as Book by Cadillac wouldn’t amount to much unless automakers called on the expertise and and customer support of auto dealers.) The paper reported Tesla is searching for a strong number two executive who might run Tesla, possibly allowing Musk to be the Tesla visionary.

Over time, Musk came to see the negatives outweighing the positives. He pulled the plug Friday (Aug. 24) in a blog post, Staying Private. Musk wrote, in part:

Given the feedback I’ve received, it’s apparent that most of Tesla’s existing shareholders believe we are better off as a public company. Additionally, a number of institutional shareholders have explained that they have internal compliance issues that limit how much they can invest in a private company. There is also no proven path for most retail investors to own shares if we were private. Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was “please don’t do this.”

So, Tesla ends August the way it began August: as a publicly traded company with an astounding market cap relative to the number of cars it’s selling. TSLA’s valuation is clearly based on investors’ future expectations for Tesla.

Now Read: If Tesla Goes Private, It Ties Daimler As World’s Third-Most-Valuable Carmaker, Tesla Will End Free Premium LTE Offer [In July 2018], and Tesla Model 3 Has Highest Profit Margin of Any Electric Vehicle

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Belgium Decides Loot Boxes Are Illegal Gambling

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Video game publishers have been pushing loot boxes and other microtransactions for years, but the release of Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Gamers complained loudly and often about the expensive loot boxes and “pay-to-win” mechanics harming the gaming experience. Some even pointed out how similar loot boxes were to gambling, and that got governments around the world interested. Are loot boxes gambling? Belgium has decided that, yes, they are.

Electronic Arts seemed caught off-guard by the negative reaction to Battlefront II during the beta. Players noted that the random loot crates could only be purchased with premium in-game currency, and that means you have to spend money. Unlike many other games, items like Star Cards in Star Wars loot crates could vastly change the gameplay experience. In fact, it would take 40 hours of grinding to unlock some of the most sought-after hero characters in Battlefront II if you didn’t pay for loot boxes.

Several US states and EU countries began investigating loot boxes in video games in the wake of Battlefront II. EA took loot boxes out of the game to assuage fans, but that hasn’t saved other publishers. In the Netherlands, regulators recently decided that loot boxes are a form of gambling and have demanded that such mechanics are removed.

The Belgian Gaming Commission investigated Star Wars Battlefront II, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In a humorous turn of events, the only game the commission didn’t hammer is Battlefront — EA still doesn’t have any loot boxes in the game. All the others, according to regulators, constitute illegal gambling. Minister of Justice Koen Geens was especially concerned about how children would be affected by loot boxes. Legislation always aims to keep kids from coming in contact with gambling, but loot boxes are all over video games that kids might play.

Belgium is being less heavy-handed than the Dutch, who gave companies until June 20th to remove loot boxes. The Belgian Gaming Commission has requested information from publishers and developers to determine who is responsible for removing the loot boxes. If the industry doesn’t comply, responsible individuals could face up to five years in prison and fines of €800,000. It might take time to pull these elements from games, and doing so could result in gameplay balance issues. The games were designed to have loot boxes after all. Perhaps publishers will think twice about including loot boxes in future games if regulators continue to treat them like a slot machine.

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Health Canada decides against banning wire-bristle BBQ brushes

Health Canada has decided against banning the sale of wire-bristle barbecue brushes, and is instead leaving brush safety mostly in the hands of industry and grillers, according to its latest risk assessment report.  

The agency looked into what it should do after receiving more than two-dozen reports since 2004 of people getting injured after ingesting bristles that had come loose from barbecue brushes.

How wire bristles can easily fall off a BBQ brush0:18

“I’m very frustrated with their decision,” said Beverly Smith, a nurse in Red Deer, Alta., who suffered a perforated bowel in October after accidentally ingesting a two-centimetre-long metal wire that came off her grill brush.

She said Health Canada ought to ban sales of wire-bristle brushes.

“They have to come off the shelf,” Smith said. “It’s not safe. It’s hurting people.”

Smith suspects the metal wire she ate was stuck in a burger.

“A few days later, I started getting stomach pain, which I thought was just upset stomach or the flu,” she said. “So I kept trying to deal with it myself.”

But the pain didn’t go away, so she went to a walk-in clinic.

The X-rays didn’t show anything. But she knew something was wrong and decided to go to the emergency room that night. 

“I got worse and worse … and the next morning I had emergency surgery,” she said.

“It was scary.”

Bev Smith wire bristle

Smith is still recovering after swallowing this metal wire that fell off her grill brush. (Beverly Smith)

She missed eight weeks of work and is still recovering from the surgery that removed a 20-centimetre section of her bowel.

“I’m devastated, like I won’t use my barbecue anymore. I won’t use a barbecue brush anymore. I will tell everybody I can, not to use them,” Smith said. “This can happen to anybody.”

Dr. Martin Owen, the family physician who treated Smith at the walk-in clinic, says swallowing a bristle can be a matter of life or death, and is “absolutely something that needs to be operated on in a very timely fashion, within hours.”

He said he wants Health Canada to “step up” and get wire-bristle brushes off the market entirely. 

“I would like to see all of these brushes off the shelves so that no other Canadians get hurt by these products the way my patient did,” he said.

Voluntary measures

The two-page report by Health Canada’s risk management bureau — dated Aug. 22, and obtained by CBC News this week — acknowledges that “swallowing a wire bristle constitutes a potentially severe or life-threatening circumstance,” but it doesn’t recommend a ban on sales or a recall of brushes, which many physicians have called for.

It says voluntary recalls aren’t practical for several reasons, including the fact there’s no criteria for determining which brushes pose the greatest risk. It also says mandatory product warnings likely wouldn’t reduce the risk.

Instead, the report recommends asking industry to “take steps to reduce the risk of bristles detaching.” And for Health Canada to update its website with grill brush safety information and to share safety tips on social media.

“Health Canada is always monitoring the situation and if there is any new information that comes to light, the agency will review,” Health Canada spokesperson André Gagnon told CBC News.

Smith grill brush

Smith says she’s frustrated Health Canada decided not to ban the sale of wire-bristle grill brushes, like the one she used. (Colin Hall/CBC)

The company that distributes the brush that Smith bought says people need to take proper care of grill brushes.

Mike Lecouffe, a service manager at S.R. Potten Entreprises in Lachine, Que., told CBC the brushes are imported from overseas and should be replaced every three months.  

“It does have a lot to do with how the brushes are looked after or how often they are changed,” Lecouffe said.

“If a barbecue brush is left outside in the snow, and it rains, or the sun is on it, if they’re not put under a cover, that could be a factor that could contribute to why a bristle might fall out.”

Lecouffe advises people to inspect their brush and grill after every use and look for any kind of crack or wear in wood-handle brushes.

Health Canada has received 40 reports involving bristles coming off grill brushes since 2004, including 28 cases in which someone was injured.

Got a tip for the CBC News I-Team? Email iteam@cbc.ca or call the confidential tip line at 204-788-3744.

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