Discovery News reported there’s been another botched execution by lethal injection, this time in Helena, Alabama. After two attempts to kill him, the execution of the Black Labrador mix, appropriately named Lazarus, has been called off. He is in foster care now and available for adoption.
In other dog news, Maureen Dowd blurted out what a lot of people must have thought. The Secret Service did not unleash the attack dogs as an intruder sprinted across the White House lawn because they were worried the dogs could not tell foe from friend and would bite pursuing agents. If that’s so, Dowd asked, why employ attack dogs in the first place? My cousin Ray Sixkiller wondered if the only Secret Service agents that need more training are dogs?
The Boston Globe got an interview with the three Afghan officers who went AWOL from training at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. The Globe learned that, having watched a YouTube video of tourists crossing the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, two of the men became convinced that would be an easy way to enter Canada and ask for political asylum. The third and ranking officer, upon learning their plan, decided to come along. Unfamiliar with US transportation systems, they paid $230 cab fare to Boston and $1,600 to Niagara Falls. Canada denied them entry. Their basis for asylum is that the Taliban intends to kill them, which is no doubt true when they serve in an army tasked to fight the Taliban.
Foreign Policy headed the story “Joe Biden is the Only Honest Man in Washington” after Biden had to apologize for saying Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have been funding the bad guys in the current unpleasantness and Turkey has failed to close its border to foreign fighters….all of which is true.
In another war, the one over burgers, Mickey D's in Japan brought out a “black burger” to go bun to bun with Burger King, which has been marketing the Kuro (black) Burger since September. The Kuro features a bun and cheese blackened by bamboo charcoal and a special sauce made with squid ink. Mickey D matches the Kuro bun, but retains yellow cheese and adds a special yellow sauce. “Special yellow sauce on a black bun. Oh, yummy,” Cousin Ray deadpanned.
Sir Richard Branson, Fortune reported, has announced the Virgin Group head offices (about 170 lucky workers) may now take unlimited vacation time. Supervisors will not track how long they take off, and Branson puts them on their honor that “they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business.” Branson said he copped the idea from Netflix and he hopes to expand it to all Virgin employees, which would be about 50,000. This is not completely insane, when you notice that in countries requiring vacation time by law, employees sometimes have to be ordered to take the time they have earned.
The BBC reported that Queen Elizabeth has knighted Michael Bloomberg for “prodigious entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavours.” As an American citizen, he cannot go by “Sir Mike.” Sir Charles Barkley had no comment.
Before we leave royal news, we must observe that the boy dictator of North Korea has not been seen in public for a long time, leading Gordon Chang in The Daily Beast to wonder whether Kim Jong Un has been toppled from power? “Only one way to know for sure,” Cousin Ray suggested, “ask Dennis Rodman.”
Cokie Roberts commented on Morning Joe that the Ebola epidemic has “set back for a generation” development in West Africa. Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry bragged that he heads one of only 13 states that have completed Center for Disease Control training on Ebola diagnosis and containment. This would have been heartening had the first Ebola case in Texas not been sent away from a hospital with a dose of antibiotics.
The US strong spot in fending off Ebola is Obamacare. The weak spot is the 43.3 million individuals still lacking insurance, mostly in states that will not accept Medicaid expansion. It also brings home the sheer idiocy of excepting undocumented workers from Obamacare. Not only do they get treated in the most expensive way—emergency rooms—when they get really ill, there is no way to reach them through health care providers in case of epidemic. “Give the pols a break,” admonished Cousin Ray, “who thought there would be an epidemic?”
The Daily Mail reported a public relations disaster for the Swedish clothing designer H & M, which is being roasted on social media for showing a jumpsuit that resembles the uniforms worn by Kurdish women fighting against ISIS in Syria. The fashion trend is known as the “Peshmerga look,” but the outfit in question is said to be a dead ringer for the uniforms of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, about a third of which are women. H & M apologized but denied intending the “Peshmerga look.” Cousin Ray pointed out that radical imams would for the first time endorse a women’s fashion statement when designers turn away from the war to the Ebola outbreak. “Modesty will never be an issue if ‘the hazmat look’ catches on.”
Frank Bruni is a cultural Roman Catholic, a gay man raised in the Church and finely attuned to hypocrisy. In the Sunday Times, he pointed out the numbers of gay people who have been fired by the Church for wanting to get married and suggested that the Church is trying to be stern about some sex teachings to make up for laxness on sexual abuse of children. He noticed that there has been no discipline within the Church or firing of non-Catholic employees for comparable violations: using birth control, divorcing, cooperating in administration of the death penalty, failure to pay fair wages—sins as serious as being gay and often easier to prove.
Bigotry fell on harder times when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear lower court cases striking down state bans on gay marriage leaving, when all the federal circuits comply, gay marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called not hearing the cases “judicial activism at its worst.” Cousin Ray laughed that calling a failure to act “activism” is “language abuse at its worst.”
The Dallas Morning News reported on the kind of flighty, self-centered, non-serious people who would file suit over the Texas gay marriage ban. The couple that just asked for an expedited hearing in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals because they are expecting their second child consists of Air Force veteran Cleopatra DeLeon and attorney Nicole Dimetman, together for 13 years and married in another state for five. The other lead plaintiffs are attorney Mark Phariss and physician assistant Victor Holmes, together for 17 years.
In another Fifth Circuit case, the News reported that Allen Stanford, sentenced to 100 years in prison for the second largest Ponzi fraud in American history, has fired his lawyer and filed his own 299 page brief that the court has ordered him to reduce in size by about half. The major error Stanford raises is that the court could not convict him because his “bank” was based in Antigua, not the U.S. Stanford is convicted of frauds totaling $5.5 billion. So far, only $72 million has been paid back to the victims.
The traffic offenses that carry loss of driver’s license are many, but the penalty is spreading to include littering from a vehicle (AR, OR), failure to take a genetic test in a parenthood case (FL), bouncing a check (TX), prostitution (CA, FL), graffiti (CA, TX), using a vehicle to distribute tobacco (Canada), and advocating overthrow of the government (NY). Cousin Ray wondered whether Allen Stanford lost his driver’s license?
The Delaware News-Journal reported that Ashley R. Tull, 30, was arrested for maintaining a drug property and child endangerment when her four year old took the wrong backpack to day care and found 249 bags of heroin. Thinking it was candy, the child was handing it out to classmates. Nobody was injured.
Thomas Miles and Adam Cox did a “before and after” study of jurisdictions that enhanced immigration enforcement by checking the immigration status of every arrestee. The government called this program in some 3,000 counties “Secure Communities,” and the theory was that deporting undocumented workers would drop crime rates. The results are about to be published in the Journal of Law and Economics and they show no impact on either property crimes or violent crimes. “Why risk your life to enter the U.S. for a job,” asked Cousin Ray, “if you want to be a criminal? Criminals are better off at home, with plenty of victims and a familiar justice system…unless you count colonists, who steal wholesale rather than retail.”