Co-founder of Slinky company


Betty James, who co-founded the company that made the Slinky and beat the odds as a single mother in the late 1950s to become a successful executive, died Thursday, said a spokeswoman for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

In 1945, Mrs. James and her husband, Richard, founded the company that would later make Slinky, the toy for which she was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2001.


She took over management of James Industries Inc. 14 years after the company was founded, after her husband left her to follow a religious cult in Bolivia. He died in 1974.

Initially, Mrs. James would leave her six children with a caregiver on Sunday through Thursday while she oversaw operations in Philadelphia. But in 1965, she moved the company to her hometown of Hollidaysburg, Pa., where although the company was sold in 1998 to Michigan-based POOF Products Inc., it remains today.

Hundreds of millions of Slinkys have been sold worldwide. Mrs. James explained the classic toy's success in a 1995 interview with the Associated Press. "I think really it's the simplicity of it," she said. "There's nothing to wind up; it doesn't take batteries. I think also the price helps. More children can play with it than a $40 or $60 toy."



Dr. Jay Katz, a psychoanalyst and Yale Law School professor whose analysis of the conflicting interests and motivations of doctors and patients made him a leading authority on medical ethics, died Nov. 17 in New Haven, Conn., of heart failure.

Dr. Katz was best-known for his 1984 book The Silent World of Doctor and Patient, which examined the complex factors that shape the physician-patient relationship and hinder the medical decision-making process.

"This was his most significant work. ...It has been very influential in shaping the thinking of bioethicists on the doctrine of informed consent," said Alexander Capron, a co-author of books with Dr. Katz.


Dr. Katz was a forceful advocate for patients involved in medical research. In the early 1970s, he was a member of a national panel that investigated the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in which researchers from the U.S. Public Health Service withheld treatment from 400 rural Alabama black men in order to observe the progress of the disease. Some men were allowed to die during the 40-year study, which was ended in 1972 at the urging of the panel.

Dr. Katz said the Tuskegee subjects had been "exploited, manipulated and deceived. They were treated not as human subjects but as objects of research."

Dr. Katz spoke sternly against a change in federal regulations in 1996 that allowed investigators in some medical studies to enroll patients who are unable to give their consent because of a head injury or other life-threatening condition. He said the change violated the Nuremberg Code, developed after the Nuremberg trials of Nazi doctors after World War II, which said that nothing should be done to a human being without his or her approval.

He also was a vocal opponent of scientists' use of data from experiments that Nazi doctors conducted on concentration camp prisoners during Hitler's reign.

These issues resonated particularly profoundly for Dr. Katz, who was born in Zwickau, Germany, and witnessed Hitler's rise. He endured intense harassment by teachers and classmates as the only Jewish student in a school for the gifted. His father, a prominent businessman, was arrested by the Gestapo.

That experience "gave him a special allergy, one might say, to people who abuse their authority and abuse vulnerable people who are dependent on them," said Robert Burt, a Yale Law School colleague and longtime friend.



Maldives' first president

Ibrahim Nasir, who led the Maldives' independence movement from the British and became the island nation's first president, died Saturday at a hospital in Singapore. His body was flown to the Maldives and kept for public viewing at the president's office, Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaeed said yesterday, adding that the cause of death was not known.

Mr. Nasir became the prime minister of the British protectorate in 1957 at age 31.

He signed an agreement with the British that won independence for the Indian Ocean island in 1965.

In 1968, he became the Maldives' first president and held that position until he resigned 10 years later. He was accused of ruling the country as a dictator and fled in 1978 amid public resentment and unproved allegations of corruption in handling public funds.