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Ken Ashford
Winston-Salem, NC
A Nebraska born, New Hampshire raised, Boston and New York educated, North Carolina living lawyer . . . with two dogs. Hi.
Interests: Theater, Blogging, Law & Politics, Good Conversation, Games
Recent Activity
He was on my short list dead pool, but not my competitive list. But I remember him well from Season 1 of Saturday Night Live. Hard to believe he announced that show every year except one. Even after he retired to Arizona in 2006, he still did the SNL intro. Amazing. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Seventh Sense
... and it looks like the fatal shots were the last two, which hit him on the top of the head. Apparently, while falling forward. NOT at close range. The New York Times has the details. Meanwhile last night... another night of clashes. Although law enforcement is better (the Missouri State Police are not provoking lawlessness like the St. Louis County Police), we still see the remnants of the earlier bad law enforcement. The people don't feel like the police are there to protect and serve them. Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Seventh Sense
Kid was watching and tweeting.... Let it load... start at bottom witness to Brown killing Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Seventh Sense
This morning, police identified Darren Wilson as the cop who fatally shot Michael Brown. They also released surveillance photos showing Michael Brown shoplifting some cigars and man-handling the store owner. This all took place hours before the shooting. I'm not sure this changes the issue (although I know for many bigots, this is all they need). Brown was an unarmed black man who shoplifted. If the eyewitness accounts are true, he was shot while disengaged from a police officer, with his hands up. UPDATE: Aaaand we learn that police officer, Darren Wilson, wasn't even aware of the robbery when he confronted and killed Brown. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Seventh Sense
A person from my past had issues. She was diagnosed with Bipolar I, which they don't diagnose unless you have psychotic episodes, which she claimed to have had. I never witnessed any (I don't think); in fact, what I witnessed mostly was the depressive side of her bipolarity, which included a suicide attempt or two. In that depressive state, we would often talk about her situation (sometimes, it seemed like that was all we talked about), and she would occasionally talk matter-of-factly about killing herself, listing the people who would be "better off" if she wasn't alive (including her daughter). Her rationale made no sense, but... that's the nature of the being bipolar: the perceptions of a bipolar person are usually wrong, even when (especially when) they feel so so right to the bipolar person. When you are bipolar, you can't trust how you feel. Which must be very difficult. One of arguments she liked to make was that committing suicide was a very brave thing to do. I didn't take a contrary position, although I know what she was responding to -- that old chestnut you often hear that people who commit suicide are "cowardly". They are afraid to face their difficulties, the myth goes, so they do the "cowardly" thing by ending it all. My ex's point was just the opposite: it takes chutzpah, gonads, bravery to end it all. i am reminded of those conversations now that question had been raised again in the public conscience, in light of the recent and tragic Robin Williams suicide. Was Robin Williams cowardly for "checking out"? My answer is the same as always. Of course he wasn't cowardly. But I wouldn't agree to call him brave. Not everything that happens falls on that scale. He was sick. His depression had control over him. He couldn't help it. So the answer is "neither" and the debate itself is silly. The same goes for the question of whether suicide is "selfish". Yes, of course suicide is selfish, but not in the perjorative sense that we usually mean when we say "selfish". After all, depression is selfish -- is there ever a time when a person is more self-indulgent and self-involved than when he or she is depressed? So of COURSE a person attempting suicide is selfish -- he/she is in pain. Just as much pain as if shot with a bullet. But all you can say is that they were "selfish", then you are missing the larger point. What MADE them selfish? It's NOT a character flaw, but more likely (and certainly in the case of Robin Williams), a mental illness known as depression or bipolar disorder or something along those lines. The selfishness is incidental to the illness. Calling them selfish, even if it happens to be true, only serves to malign and stigmatize those with a mental disorder. It's turning a sickness into a callous act of blaming the victim. Why do that? Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Seventh Sense
I've withheld writing about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. For those distracted by other news stories, Michael Brown was to start college this week. Instead, his parents are planning his funeral. On August 9th, Mr Brown was shot several times and killed by a policeman in Ferguson, a suburb near St Louis, Missouri. The police say the black 18-year-old attacked the officer and tried to grab his gun. A friend who was with Mr Brown says that on the contrary, he was unarmed and had his hands up in the air. I've withheld writing about it because for the same reason I withheld writing (for a while) about Treyvon Martin: we just don't know enough facts. Right now, we still don't know much. The FBI is investigating the Ferguson shooting, and the Justice Department is looking into the possibility that Mr Brown’s civil rights were violated. Those are good things. Another eyewitness stepped forward yesterday -- Tiffany Mitchell (age 27) -- and I found her retelling of the account to be credible and consistent. According to her, Brown was shot in cold blood, while his hands were raised. Still, we can't be sure. But the eyewitness accounts aren't the only thing we can look at. We can get a sense of the truth by looking at the context. And if the past few days are any indication, it seems that the Ferguson MO police department has a tendency to Rambo up unnecessarily. This picture fromj the Times tells it all: Yesterday, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery was reportedly arrested along with Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post for failing to exit a McDonalds. According to Lowery's Twitter account, the two were "assaulted and arrested" because "officers decided we weren't leaving McDonalds quickly enough, shouldn't have been taping them." No charges were filed. There are also accounts and video of the Ferguson police dispensing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets at a peaceful (albeit angry) protest. Pointing high-power military rifles at peaceful protesters. Deliberate targeting of journalists with tear gas. What's going on? Well, part of the problem is bad training. This is a small town police department, not skilled in dealing with situations like this. Secondly, the police department has toys, and they are itching to use them. Since 1996, "the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program." Then the equipment was intended to help fight the war on drugs. With that much firepower in the hands of local police, it was only a matter of time before they began to be used in such obscene excess against Americans. Ex police chief Joseph McNamara addressed this dynamic in this op-ed: Simply put, the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on "officer safety" and paramilitary training pervades today's policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn't shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed. Yes, police work is dangerous, and the police see a lot of violence. On the other hand, 51 officers were slain in the line of duty last year, out of some 700,000 to 800,000 American cops. That is far fewer than the police fatalities occurring when I patrolled New York's highest crime precincts, when the total number of cops in the country was half that of today. Each of these police deaths and numerous other police injuries is a tragedy and we owe support to those who protect us. On the other hand, this isn't Iraq. The need to give our officers what they require to protect themselves and us has to be balanced against the fact that the fundamental duty of the police is to protect human life and that law officers are only justified in taking a life as a last resort. "If you build it, they will use it". If the Ferguson Police department's defense is that its officers showed restraint where Michael Brown is concerned, they have just blown that argument to bits. These guys have no restraint in them, as last night showed. As the New Yorker correspondent wrote this morning: What transpired in the streets appeared to be a kind of municipal version of shock and awe; the first wave of flash grenades and tear gas had played as a prelude to the appearance of an unusually large armored vehicle, carrying a military-style rifle mounted on a tripod. The message of all of this was something beyond the mere maintenance of law and order: it’s difficult to imagine how armored officers with what looked like a mobile military sniper’s nest could quell the anxieties of a community outraged by allegations regarding the excessive use of force. It revealed itself as a raw matter of public intimidation. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Seventh Sense
Another legend. She was 89. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Seventh Sense
The mental illness of depression claims another. The irony of someone so gifted in humor could be felled by depression. This is how I'll remember him: As for the nature of his death, let me borrow the thoughts of another blogger on what suicide isn't: But I felt compelled to write this article because like any mental illness-related accident or death, there by the grace of God go I. And it’s not only in poor taste to deride a man who by all accounts, was going though severe depression at the time of his death, it’s also just plain wrong. Suicide isn’t “giving up” or “giving in.” Suicide is a terrible decision made by someone whose pain is so great that they can no longer hold it, and feel they have no other option in life but to end it. It’s a decision you can’t take back, and a decision that will affect your friends and family forever. It is not taken lightly. Losing a person to suicide may feel like a waste. And I think it’s fair to react to it that way, especially in the first hard days of grief. For someone looking in, it does seem like a waste—especially in the case of Williams, who was a brilliantly funny man and a talented actor. But imagine, if you will, feeling so desperate, so desolate, so incredibly sad and hurt that you honestly cannot see a way out. The feelings leading to suicide are the darkest a human mind can fathom. It’s like being shut into a dark tunnel with no point of light to guide your way. You can hear voices on the outside, but the walls are too thick to get in. And feeling like it’s closing in, like there’s no way out—well, suicide, for that person, is a blessed release. Life, however, is never wasted. Williams did things in his life that touched people to their core. It is a sad, sad loss, but it is not a waste. Suicide is not a weak decision. It is a decision that takes an incredible amount of strength to make, actually. Someone isn’t weak if they end their life. They are desperate. There is a difference. It’s okay to feel angry at the person for dying. It’s okay to question, to rail against the forces that caused this. But it isn’t weakness. Mental illness isn’t weakness. It’s a disease, a pervasive, sometimes awful disease. The person doesn’t deserve anger and skepticism forever. They deserve compassion. Their family deserves compassion. Ending a life is incredibly, incredibly tragic. It represents a lost battle with mental illness. In that, it is no different than cancer, or diabetes, or a heart attack. Where it is different is that suicide is a choice. Whether it is the right or wrong choice for that person is solely the business of that person who commits suicide. But for the family left behind, it is devastating. Don’t rail against Robin Williams, or anyone else, for committing suicide (if indeed, that is the cause of his death). Instead, reach out. Let people know you’re there for them. Find a crisis line in your area to call if you are feeling desperate and like you want to do something you can’t take back. Support the family and friends left behind in the best way you can. Let the people you love know that you love them and that you are thinking about them. Let them know that they are not alone. Robin Williams taught me innumerable things about how to reach out to people and bring out the best in them. Through his characters, he taught me to seize the day, to make them laugh, to find everyone’s sense of humour, to be a friend. I will miss his work and his bright light in the world. I am so sorry that he felt like there was no other option. I send my love and my compassion to his family. Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Seriously, this is what you get. I guess she's a comedian now. I guess. “We believe”? Wait, I thought fast food joints, hurh. Don’t you guys think that they’re like of the Devil or somethin’ I was... Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint then ya just don’t believe in, thought you wanted to, I dunno, send them to Purgatory or somethin’ so they all go VEGAN and, uh, wages and picket lines I dunno they’re not often discussed in Purgatory, are they? I dunno why are you even worried about fast food wages because ... Is she drunk? This Rambling, Incoherent Mess Of A Video Is What Conservatives Are Paying Sarah Palin To Watch Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
So... we're experiencing the deadliest outbreak of ebola in history. It's so bad that the leading ebola doctor died yesterday. Fortunately, it is all happening in Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa. But then this happens: UPDATE: They were checking out a patient who wanted to be checked out because s/he just came back from a country with infectious diseases (country and possible diseases unknown). Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Old pipes everywhere. The rupture of the 90-year-old main sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset Boulevard and UCLA with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water before it was shut off more than three hours after the pipe burst, city officials said. Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
You really have to see the video to believe it, but this write up gives a fair overview: Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin ripped President Obama on Saturday, saying in order to "save the Republic" Americans must "have the guts to talk about impeachment." Palin bashed Obama on a variety of topics, including immigration and veterans services during a speech before the 2014 Western Conservative Summit in downtown Denver. "These days you hear all of these politicians, they denounce Barack Obama, saying he's a lawless imperial and ignores court orders and changes laws by fiat and refuses to enforce laws he just doesn't like," she said. "That's true. But the question is, "Hey politicians, what are you going to do about it?' " Palin said, as the crowd in the Hyatt Regency ballroom roared. The former governor of Alaska, Palin rose to prominence in 2008 when Sen. John McCain of Arizona tapped her as his running mate on the GOP ticket. When talk-radio host Dan Caplis introduced Palin, he billed her as the most influential woman in the history of the Republican Party. Line after line about Obama fired up the crowd. "If Obama won't do his job and enforce the borders, then it's not immigration, it's invasion," she said. "We're not going to dethrone God and substitute him with someone who wants to play God," she also said. I think Dave Neiwert said it best: Did Sarah Palin get into Aunty Peggy Noonan's jar of Magic Dolphin Pills before her speech in Denver this week? It does have that slightly slurry quality that so defines Noonan which is a change for Palin who has been rather crisply incoherent in the past if nothing else. But the crowd loved it. As much as we don't want to admit it, she really does speak for a large number of people in this country. Also too, Sarah now has her own online pay-TV network. What is they say about suckers born every minute? Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
The religious right continues losing their reactionary culture war, as a federal appeals court strikes down Virginia’s ban on marriage equality. And this ruling will also affect conservative bans on same-sex marriage in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, so it’s a significant defeat for the forces of atavism. “We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” the divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit in Richmond concluded. […] The 4th Circuit opinion also will affect marriage laws in other states within its jurisdiction, including West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Only Maryland has legalized same-sex marriage. Here in North Carolina, there are three cases which challenge the same-sex marriage ban. In one of them, one of the plainitiffs is medically ill, and the ACLU has asked for expedited relief. I expect the judge in that case will, in light of the Fourth Circuit decision, strike down NC's ban as well. That might not mean gay marriage is coming to North Carolina. More likely, it will be put "n hold" pending an inevitable Supreme Court decision. Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
As Israel bombs Gaza, the Palestinian death toll stands at 576. There have been 27 Israeli deaths as well. And how does Fox report it? Fox News actually just announced this re: Gaza: “So far, violence has killed over 600 people on both sides" — brendan james (@deep_beige) July 22, 2014 Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
The GOP wants to run on repealing Obamacare in the upcoming elections? How will that play at the state level? A new Department of Health and Human Services report documents the impact federal subsidies under Obamacare are having on the insurance costs of people receiving them, and the Plum Line gives the bottom line: But if subsidies were repealed, people would not lose coverage, instead seeing premiums jump from loss of the tax credit. It turns out the jump would be very high in states with contested Senate races where Republicans are running on “repeal”: – In North Carolina, 357,584 people are paying an average monthly premium of $81 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsidies/cost increase of $300. – In Michigan, 272,539 people are paying an average monthly premium of $97 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsidies/cost increase of $246. – In New Hampshire, 40,262 people are paying an average monthly premium of $100 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsidies/cost increase of $290. – In Louisiana, 101,778 people are paying an average monthly premium of $83 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsides/cost increase of $314. – In Iowa, 29,163 people are paying an average monthly premium of $108 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsidies/cost increase of $243. – In Alaska, 12,890 people are paying an average monthly premium of $94 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsidies/cost increase of $413. – In Georgia, 316,543 people are paying an average monthly premium of $54 — and repeal would result in an average monthly loss of subsidies/cost increase in premiums of $287. Let that be known. UPDATE: Apparently, the courts are doing it for the GOP. This morning, the D.C. Circuit court (the most conservative of the circuit courts) ruled in a case called Halbig v. Burwell. Here is the D.C. Circuit Halbig ruling: A federal appeals court dealt a huge blow to Obamacare on Tuesday, banning the federal exchange from providing subsidies to residents of the 36 states it serves. A divided three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the text of the Affordable Care Act restricts the provision of premium tax credits to state-run exchanges. The two Republican appointees on the panel ruled against Obamacare while the one Democratic appointee ruled for the law. "We conclude that appellants have the better of the argument: a federal Exchange is not an 'Exchange established by the State,' and section 36B does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges," Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote for the court in Halbig v. Burwell. His ruling was joined in a concurring opinion by George H. W. Bush-appointed Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who said it would be a "distortion" to let the federal exchange provide subsidies. "Only further legislation could accomplish the expansion the government seeks," he wrote. Carter-appointed Judge Harry T. Edwards voted to uphold the subsidies. "This case is about Appellants’ not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Edwards wrote in his dissenting opinion. The ruling is very troubling for the Obama administration because the subsidies are critical to the success of Obamacare. The law encourages states to build their own exchange, but if they don't the federal government operates one on their behalf. The subsidies, or premium tax credits, exist to help Americans between 133 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line buy insurance. That imperils the practicality of the individual mandate to get covered and the market regulations to protect sick people. UPDATE #2: Fourth Circuit to the rescue. A few hours after this morning's D.C. Circuit case, the also-conservative Fourth Circuit comes out with an opinion in King v. Burwell, which goes in the other direction and upholds the subsidies in Obamacare. The opinion is here. Money quote: No case stands for the proposition that literal readings should take place in a vacuum, acontextually, and untethered from other parts of the operative text; indeed, the case law indicates the opposite. National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife, 551 U.S. 644, 666 (2007). So does common sense: If I ask for pizza from Pizza Hut for lunch but clarify that I would be fine with a pizza from Domino’s, and I then specify that Iwant ham and pepperoni on my pizza from Pizza Hut, my friend who returns from Domino’s with a ham and pepperoni pizza has still complied with a literal construction of my lunch order. That is this case: Congress specified that Exchanges should be established and run by the states, but the contingency provision permits federal officials to act in place of the state when it fails to establish an Exchange. The premium tax credit calculation subprovision later specifies certain conditions regarding state-run Exchanges, but that does not mean that a literal reading of that provision somehow precludes its applicability to substitute federally-run Exchanges or erases the contingency provision out of the statute. UPDATE #3: I didn't realize this before, but the DC Circuit opinion was en banc. It was not the full circuit. Therefore, the 4th Circuit "wins" out for now. The Obama administration is appealing the DC Circuit opinion to the full DC Circuit. Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Great actor, and somewhat less important, he was in my dead pool for this year. He was 86. Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Among the dead in the Malaysian Air shootdown -- about 100 people from the World Health Organization going to an AIDS conference. According to the Associated Press, the exact number of individuals who were killed on their way to the conference is unconfirmed. However, Australian officials have noted that “there is no doubt it’s a substantial number” that includes “medical scientists, doctors, people who’ve been to the forefront of dealing with AIDS across the world.” Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Yes, indeed. Putin should be embarrassed. When you listen to the audiotapes, you become keenly aware that the pro-Russian separatists in the Ukraine are total boobs... or, as Josh Marshall writes: The audio tapes posted by The New York Times might as well be from some future Russia-based version of Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show, a comical rendering of rustics and morons stumbling into an event of vast carnage and international consequence mainly because they're hotheads and idiots - the kind of people no one in their right minds would give world class weaponry to. It's like finding some white supremacist/militia types on their little compound in the inter-Mountain west and giving them world class missile launchers and heavy armaments. This is a f'-up on Putin's part of almost mind-boggling proportions. Yes, a tragedy. Yes, perhaps an atrocity. But almost more threatening, a screw up. Malign intent is one thing. So is aggression. But goofs of this magnitude by someone who controls a massive military arsenal and nuclear weapons are in a way more threatening. Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
So a bunch of children from Central America are trying to enter this country, and of course, the right wing is throwing fit because 'Merica. The real issue is whether they are seeking asylum from persecution, in which case we have to, by law, let them into the country. As opposed to them just being some lazy Spanish types who are trying to cross our borders to vote for Democrats (as the Republicans fear). U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and others have said that the unaccompanied children entering the United States hope to escape gang violence and drug dealers in their native land. Well, a couple of GOP House members decided to find out for themselves. Congressman Steve Pearce and a seven-member working group from the U.S. House of Representatives visited Guatemala and Honduras over the weekend. And guess what? They came to the conclusion that the reason the kids fled was because of economic reasons. Here's the article that says so. And here's the money quote from the article: Pearce said he and the rest of the House delegation that visited Honduras and Guatemala did not venture from their hotel very often because of the dangers, but the message they received in both countries was consistent: "Send back our children." Right. It's much too dangerous for God fearing Real Americans to venture out into the streets but little kids are wily and quick and they can slither out of the grasp of the violent criminals who want to kidnap, torture and kill them. Anyway, it's character building. So send em back. </sarcasm> Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Dick Cheney: TAPPER: But do you think the decisions that you made, your administration really has nothing to do with what's going on in Iraq right now? CHENEY: I think, when we left office, we had, in Iraq, a very stable situation. January 18, 2009 -- two days before Obama took office: Baghdad - A roadside bomb detonated in front of the deputy Sahwa leader's house in Furat neighborhood in western Baghdad on Saturday night. Five people were injured including the Sahwa leader who had a serious injury. - Three mortar shells hit Jamia’a neighborhood on Saturday night. One shell fell near an army check point. Two soldiers were wounded. - A roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Ameen neighborhood in eastern Baghdad around 11 a.m. Three people were wounded, Iraqi police said. The MNF-I response as the following “ Soldier died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Jan.18 at approximately 11 a.m”. - A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol in Meshtal neighborhood in eastern Baghdad around 8 p.m. Two policemen were wounded. - A roadside bomb targeted a trailer carrying blast walls in Jordan intersection in Yarmouk neighborhood in western Baghdad around 8:15 p.m. Two people were wounded. - A roadside bomb detonated in front of Ibtisam restaurant in Palestine street in eastern Baghdad around 8:30 p.m. Eight people were wounded. Mosul - A roadside bomb detonated in Dorat al Swais neighborhood in Mosul around 4 p.m. Two people were wounded including one policeman. - A suicide bomber targeted the former major general Hassan Zaidan, whose son Falah is a parliament member of the national dialogue blog at the Haj Ali village in Qaiyara (south of Mosul) around 6 p.m. Zaidan was killed in that incident. Basra - A magnetic bomb planted under a car belongs to an employee of the Basra prisons near a petrol station in western Basra city. The employee was wounded. January 19, 2009 - the day before Obama took office and last day of Bush-Cheney: Baghdad - A roadside bomb targeted a civilian car in Zafaraniyah neighborhood in eastern Baghdad near Siaada Gas factory and few yards from an army check point around 7 a.m. The driver was killed and seven other people, including a soldier, were wounded. The driver of the car was a captain from the Ministry of Interior, police said. - Two roadside bombs targeted a police patrol in Amil neighborhood in western Baghdad around 2 p.m. Five people were wounded including two policemen. Mosul - A roadside bomb detonated in downtown Mosul around 11 a.m. Four people were wounded. - A roadside bomb targeted an army patrol in the Bakir neighborhood in Mosul around 5 p.m. Two Iraqi soldiers were wounded. In January alone, 372 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence. By the end of the year, an estimated total of 5,175 people were killed in Iraq. That's what "very stable" means. Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
I wonder if Fox will touch this: Military officers testified that there was no "stand-down order" that held back military assets that could have saved the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed at a diplomatic outpost and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. Their testimony undercut the contention of Republican lawmakers. The "stand-down" theory centers on a Special Operations team - a detachment leader, a medic, a communications expert and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast - that was stopped from flying from Tripoli to Benghazi after the attacks of Sept. 11-12, 2012, had ended. Instead, it was instructed to help protect and care for those being evacuated from Benghazi and from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. The senior military officer who issued the instruction to "remain in place" and the detachment leader who received it said it was the right decision and has been widely mischaracterized. The order was to remain in Tripoli and protect some three dozen embassy personnel rather than fly to Benghazi some 600 miles away after all Americans there would have been evacuated. And the medic is credited with saving the life of an evacuee from the attacks. Transcripts of hours of closed-door interviews with nine military leaders by the House Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform committees were made public for the first time on Wednesday. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the oversight panel, has suggested that Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the order, though as secretary of state at the time, she was not in the military chain of command. Despite lingering public confusion over many events that night, the testimony shows military leaders largely in agreement over how they responded to the attacks. And by the way, the article goes on to explain about time travel and how it is not possible: Military officials differ on when that telephone conversation took place, but they agree that no help could have arrived in Benghazi in time. They put the call somewhere between 5:05 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. local time. It would take about 90 minutes to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi. The next U.S.-chartered plane to make the trip left at 6:49 a.m., meaning it could have arrived shortly before 9 a.m., nearly four hours after the second, 11-minute battle at the CIA facility ended at about 5:25 a.m. Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
In a not-very-suprising 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court decided in favor of Hobby Lobby in the recent case involving religious freedom and corporations. As a result of the holding, business owners with religious objections to birth control may defy federal rules requiring most employers to include contraceptive care in their health plans. This is in direct contravention of what the Supreme Court held in its 1982 United States v. Lee decision, “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” The opinion is here. Fortunately (and thankfully), the Supreme Court was willing to put limits on this: this holding appears limited to closely held corporations such as Hobby Lobby, which is operated by a single wealthy family. Keep this in mind when you read commentary about this case -- the Court did not give religious freedom to, say, Apple and Amazon. Just a very narrow set of corporatoins (which would, I think, include Walmart). Still, the opinion is wrongly decided, and the best explanation why is here. Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at The Seventh Sense
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at The Seventh Sense