Category: History

It takes the Great State of Arizona 2 hours to finish killing Joe Wood

A convicted killer gasped on the gurney as the state of Arizona attempted to execute him on Wednesday, before being declared dead almost two hours after the process began.

Lawyers for Joseph Wood attempted to halt the execution in an emergency court motion, saying he had been “gasping and snorting for more than an hour”. The state attorney general announced Wood had died before the court could rule on the motion.

The developments echoed the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and groaned on a gurney for nearly 45 minutes before eventually dying of a heart attack. The two-hour process in Wood’s case appeared certain to revive the arguments surrounding the death penalty in the US, as a shortage of execution drugs has forced states to use untried methods and unregulated drugs.

The office of the Arizona attorney general, Tom Horne, said Wood was pronounced dead at 3.49 pm local time, one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started…

The hours leading up to the execution were marked by a frenzied legal battle over the secrecy imposed by state officials on the source of the drugs. It was put on hold several times – first by a federal appeals court, then by the state supreme court of Arizona – only to have the stays lifted and the procedure go ahead.

One reason folks here in the Southwest call Arizona the Mississippi of the West is their politicians share that Southern Stalwart’s contempt for the value of any human life. Apparently an attribute shared by the folks who elect and re-elect the creeps running the state government and many of the flavors of incarceration much beloved of Old Testament ideologues.

Frankly, as a fiscal conservative, I oppose the death penalty for 99% of the cases it involves. It simply costs less to sentence a villain to life without parole. Even in a state like Arizona almost wholly in bed with for-profit prisons.

About these ads

Israelis shell Gaza hospitals


In the Al-Aqsa HospitalMohammed Abed/AFP-Getty Images

Israeli tanks have shelled a hospital in the central Gaza Strip, killing at least five people and wounding at least another 50.

Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Dekker, reporting from Gaza, said according to early reports the third floor of the al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah had been hit by at least three tank shells on Monday…

Al-Aqsa Hospital is the third to be hit by Israeli tank fire since Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza four days ago.

Al Jazeera’s Dekker said the scene of the hospital shelling was an area “where a lot of people had been fleeing to”…”There’s extremely heavy shelling going on in that neighbourhood. This is an area you’d think would be relatively safe,” she said…

A distressed doctor at the scene of the attack told Al Jazeera: “We cannot do anything here for our patients, all the patients, all the injured in the emergency department.”

There were no known indications that the hospital was used by armed factions of Hamas…

That is the excuse the Israeli military always uses for killing civilians in any facility normally protected by international protocols.

Continue reading

Remembering absent friends and more…

30 seconds over Tokyo

It’s been a tough morning.

Up early as usual. Because of my wife’s work routine, we’re usually up before 5AM. Habit runs right through the weekend.

I figured to watch the start of the German Gran Prix. Had it set to record so I could check back through the race after it was over. But, I started to look around to see what else was on TV this early. I certainly wasn’t going to watch the news. Guaranteed it would be them dangerous furriners killing each other in Ukraine; brave little Israel killing Arabs in self-defense at a rate of 200 to 1; crowds of white Americans demonstrating our freedom by massing to keep children fleeing North towards our border from crossing into the Land of Liberty.

I don’t recall the channel; but, there was 30 SECONDS OVER TOKYO…the story of the shock raid by a few American bombers that took off from an aircraft carrier in 1942 to bring the war started by Japan – home to the Japanese nation. You can read about the raid any number of places. The movie is pretty accurate.

It became harder to watch than I thought. I saw the movie when it came out in the autumn of 1944 at our neighborhood movie theater. My sister and me, mom and dad. Four of my uncles were still overseas in the war. One of my older cousins was missing in the Pacific.

I didn’t remember General Doolittle’s speech to the pilots and crew before they lifted their B-25 Mitchell bombers off the flight deck of the Hornet. So, it took me by surprise when he finished by explaining to the airmen this would be the first time American pilots bombed a city. Yes, these were military targets; but, innocent civilians were inevitably going to be killed and injured. Anyone who didn’t want to take part in what some would feel was murder of the innocents could step aside and no one would think the worse of them.

And I had to cry.

First and foremost, all the emotions of those days of war flooded back into my heart and mind. People I loved, people I didn’t even know. Tens of thousands dying horrible deaths around the globe from England to Asia and the Pacific. Then, I couldn’t help but reflect on what our nation has become; how hardened and distorted our culture has become – we now only describe the murder of innocent civilians as “collateral damage”. We can send in pilotless drones to fire missiles at our enemy du jour and maybe only kill a few members of their families. Guilty of being kin to evil men. What have we become?

I couldn’t finish watching the movie. I got as far as the Ruptured Duck, one of the B-25s crash-landing in the ocean just off the coast of China – as did all the planes after the mission. Running out of fuel near China or the Soviet Union. Crashing into the sea or just inland. Most of those who flew the attack survived the mission.

In what was called one of the worst war crimes of the century, Japan executed 250,000 Chinese civilians along the coast because some had aided our airmen to survival and eventual safety.

BRICS nations found bank to rival Western-dominated World Bank and IMF

The so-called BRICS countries agreed to form an international development bank with aspirations to challenge the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa said Tuesday that the New Development Bank will start with $50 billion in capital and $100 billion as a currency reserve fund for liquidity crises…

Still, the BRICS bank, which could add more member nations, represents a bid to expand the influence of the BRICS emerging markets and act as a counterbalance to institutions run by the U.S. and other developed nations…

As developing countries began playing a larger role in the world economy, their leaders repeatedly complained that they have not been given correspondingly larger voices in international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, both based in Washington. The U.S. typically appoints the World Bank president, and European countries appoint the IMF chief.

“International governance structures designed within a different power configuration show increasingly evident signs of losing legitimacy and effectiveness,” said the official statement signed by the BRICS leaders, who met in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Tuesday. “We believe the BRICS are an important force for incremental change and reform of current institutions toward more representative and equitable governance.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma hammered out some of the final details before signing the agreement Tuesday.

Among the terms are that the bank will be in Shanghai, its first president will be from India, and the first chair of the board of directors will be from Brazil…

Analysts expect that other countries – like Indonesia, Mexico or Turkey – will join the bank over time. Certainly, they and their neighbors have no shortage of conflicts with restrictions important to the fiscal bears directing the IMF or the World Bank.

I doubt anyone expects either of the banks under the thumb of the US [and to a lesser extent, the EU] to modernize, to actively support the developing nations in any goal beyond being a source of cheap labor, raw materials, for Western corporations.

Germany 1 – 0 Argentina

-efbb21f25ce4603c
Mario Goetze scores the winning goal, 111th minute, 2nd of double overtime

I’m exhausted. The end of one of the best World Cups I’ve watched since [I'd say] 1982. Plenty of real sports columnists, proper football fans will write pages of stuff I’ll appreciate as much as you may.

Let me congratulate the German team, their coach, the national coaching scheme that brought them to this victory.

Political animal I am, let me note in passing a completely unremarkable moment in the stands photographed at the beginning of the match. Vladimir Putin sits next to Sep Blatter, Dilma Rousseff next to Angela Merkel. With the exception of Blatter all leaders in their own nations, all preparing for the BRICS Summit which starts tomorrow morning in Brazil.

The agenda ranges from trade to the establishment of a $100 billion commercial bank for the BRICS nations. Xi Jinping will probably kick in the lion’s share from China.

The folks in the photo below realize they all have something to gain in sorting economic and political futures together. Most educated adults in the world outside the United States are aware of the same. Our government, our nation continues down the primrose path of a dying imperial nation, a standard we took up from the Brits after World War 2. Our nation, our people, the TweedleDee and TweedleDumb parties that represent our wishes, our “style”, haven’t any more clue about what’s going on in this crowd than Fox & Friends or some Tea Party candidate in Texas. Football, economics or foreign policy.

The folks in the photo – know that.

Watching TV — discover your home belongs to a serial killer — WTF?


Gosh – that house looks familiar

A Missouri woman found out that her $810-a-month dream home in Ferguson was actually a nightmare after seeing a documentary about serial killers on the A&E network.

After watching the show, Catrina McGhaw discovered she was living in the home that serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber.

Authorities believe Travis killed between 12 and 20 women and that many of them died in the basement of the home. He hanged himself in jail in 2002.

McGhaw was freaked out by what had happened in the basement and she was even more rattled when she realized the house’s dining room table was the same one seen in crime scene photos.

Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise, because as is turns out, McGhaw’s landlord is the killer’s mother.

“When she showed us the house, she said you can have this table if you want,” McGhaw told KMOV. “This whole basement was his torture chamber and it’s not okay.”

After confronting her landlord about the house’s history, McGhaw will be breaking her lease thanks to some help from the St. Louis Housing Authority.

Eeoough!. Makes for some interesting dreams, eh?

Some terrible tips for women courtesy of 19th Century Fox

FoxBullshit

Fox & Friends…recently produced a litany of advice for young women that could have been ripped from the pages of a 1950s home economics textbook. Here are a few of the most egregious examples of Fox-approved tips for women:

“Don’t talk too much.”

Over the course of the interview with Hewlett, women are told to “keep their voices down” and avoid “talking too much” no less than four times… Call this the anti-Sheryl Sandberg mantra. Instead of asserting their right to actively participate in workplace discussions, women should refrain from “dominating” the conversation and be sure to monitor the volume and tone of their voices…

“Keep your husband happy.”

In the depressingly simple world of “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton, marriage is the be-all, end-all goal for women. Once you’ve found a husband, your job is to do everything in your power to nurture and care for him, making sure his needs are being met. Even though women comprise 47 percent of the US labor force, and 73 percent of working women hold full-time jobs, it is still, for some bizarre reason, their responsibility to offer their husbands a drink and cook them a meal at the end of the work day.

Never mind that women also spend almost twice as much time as their spouses on childcare each week. Fox’s hosts happily reinforced this sexist message, with Doocy asking Patton “When did it happen when men and husbands became doormats?” Because we all know asking a man to help out around the house or cook dinner is the pinnacle of emasculation. Even more disturbingly, Patton warns against ending relationships that aren’t working out because of “how difficult it would be to replace him.”…

RTFA for more – you’ll have to decide whether to laugh or barf.

19th Century Fox says: don’t talk, look pretty, focus on your family, don’t push for equal rights, and care for your husband. Stupid or ignorant? Your choice!

Thanks, SmartAlix

Job creation faster in states raising the minimum wage

wolcott-2014-06-30_494
New Jersey arrived at the bottom after Christie vetoed the minimum wage increase

The experience of the 13 states that increased their minimum wage on January 1st of this year might provide some guidance for what to expect here in Washington, DC when the city-wide minimum wage increases to $9.50 on July 1.

At the beginning of 2014, 13 states increased their minimum wage. Of these 13 states, four passed legislation raising their minimum wage (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). In the other nine, their minimum wage automatically increased in line with inflation at the beginning of the year (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state).

As CEPR noted in March and April posts, economists at Goldman Sachs conducted a simple evaluation of the impact of these state minimum-wage increases. GS compared the employment change between December and January in the 13 states where the minimum wage increased with the changes in the remainder of the states. The GS analysis found that the states where the minimum wage went up had faster employment growth than the states where the minimum wage remained at its 2013 level.

When we updated the GS analysis using additional employment data from the BLS, we saw the same pattern: employment growth was higher in states where the minimum wage went up. While this kind of simple exercise can’t establish causality, it does provide evidence against theoretical negative employment effects of minimum-wage increases.

In this post, we can now bring these figures up to date with the data from April and May.

Reality has always intervened between conservative ideology and the day-to-day life of people who actually work for a living. All the crappola from Republicans about trickle-down economy, minimum wage, truly democratic elections, third-parties, resolves as turds on the bottom of history’s shoes. None of these inspires truth-telling or informed re-evaluation by Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats.

The consistency of wrong-headed politicos is another resolution of the inevitable political question – on behalf of stupidity rather than ignorance.

Germany expels CIA official over US spying on German government

The German government has ordered the expulsion of a CIA official in Berlin in response to two cases of alleged spying by the US…The official is said to have acted as a CIA contact at the US embassy, reports say, in a scandal that has infuriated German politicians.

A German intelligence official was arrested last week on suspicion of spying.

An inquiry had also begun into a German defence ministry worker, reports said…

Earlier this week the White House described the partnership between the US and Germany as one built on respect. But no-one likes to be spied on, especially when it’s your friend doing the spying.

This latest episode is yet another reminder of how American surveillance programmes are causing friction with allies. It’s angered many in Germany, where the issue of snooping is historically a very sensitive one, and many are asking: “What? Again?”

It wasn’t too long ago, after all, that we heard the National Security Agency was spying on Chancellor Merkel’s mobile phone. After a review into the surveillance programmes, President Obama promised the US wouldn’t spy on its friends overseas…

The request by the German government follows increasing frustration that it has failed to get US assurances that spying would cease on German citizens from Chancellor Merkel down.

She was shocked to learn that her mobile phone conversations were secretly being monitored while President Obama was greeting her as a friend on his visit to Berlin.

Chancellor Merkel has tried to maintain a balance between condemning America’s actions but also maintaining cordial relations. Each revelation has made that balance harder to achieve…

The chairman of the Bundestag (parliament) committee overseeing the secret service said the action had been taken because of America’s spying on German politicians and its failure to co-operate and provide adequate responses.

The US has not denied allegations that a German intelligence agency employee arrested last week was passing secret documents to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

However, the latest reports that an employee within the defence ministry was also spying for the US were considered more serious. Although no arrest was made, searches were carried out on Wednesday at the ministry and elsewhere…

On Thursday, Mrs Merkel said spying on allies was a “waste of energy”…”We have so many problems, we should focus on the important things,” she said…”In the Cold War maybe there was general mistrust. Today we are living in the 21st Century. Today there are completely new threats.”

Anyone who thinks American foreign policy is governed by someone living in the 21st Century should change their meds. From the advent of the Cold War right through Bush/Obama playing kissy-kissy with the NSA and CIA there is no change in the attitude of Imperial America towards the rest of the world.

Our government, the White House and Congress both, not only think we’re the cops of the world, we’re the same kind of cops who beat civil rights demonstrators, who colluded with the worst of racist America, who serve as flunkies for the most backwards elements of corporate wealth. Same as it ever was – for the last seventy years.

Can Americans pass the US citizenship test?

In a video posted earlier this week, members of the Immigrant Archive Project — an oral history project that collects the stories of American immigrants — did a series of “man-on-the-street” interviews with passersby in Miami.

The twist: they asked questions from the US citizenship test that every immigrant is required to take in order to naturalize. Not to spoil anything, but the people they interviewed — all of whom are native-born American citizens — didn’t fare too well:

To put this in context, as of December 2013, 91 percent of immigrants who took the full citizenship test passed it by getting six of ten questions correct…

The 10 questions are chosen by examiners from a list of 100 that applicants are given to study.

By contrast, of the 15 people whom the Immigrant Archive Project people interviewed, only one got six out of ten questions correct: that’s a pass rate of less than 7 percent.

Now, it’s possible that the US citizens in the video weren’t representative of the country as a whole. But polls of the American public show that native-born citizens aren’t exactly A students in civics. When USA Today asked ten questions from the citizenship test in a poll in 2012, only 65 percent of Americans got a passing score. The year before that, Newsweek found just 62 percent of Americans could pass their own citizenship test.

Even more embarrassingly, in the video above, the interviewer himself gets one fact wrong. He says that George Washington signed the Declaration of Independence. Washington was busy fighting the Revolutionary War at the time, and wasn’t a signer.

The citizenship test is also one of the easiest parts of naturalization.

RTFA for details about classification of immigrants, more testing. The article doesn’t include the history of racism and economic discrimination limiting those who may apply to legally immigrate and become American citizens.