Friday, May 1, 2015

Baltimore Officers Charged In Death of Freddie Gray...And A Few Thoughts On It

I'm of several, very conflicted minds when it comes to today's news that six Baltimore Police Dept. officers have been charged with various crimes - including one count of second-degree murder - in regards to the death of Freddie Gray. Those minds are as follows:

  • Why the seeming rush to indict the officers now rather than go through the grand jury process? If the evidence is there - which, according to most accounts, is there - then a grand jury should've been the route to go. OTOH, given how volatile the whole situation up in Charm City is at present, who can blame the state's attorney for going ahead with an indictment now rather than later?
  • With regards to the officers...I've heard and read some opinions and thoughts that seem to want to shrug off the officers's actions as beneath contempt, partly because it smacks of an unjustified deference to law-enforcement and an unjustified contempt towards the victim. Now, don't get me wrong: Freddie Gray was no saint; by most accounts, he'd been hooked by the cops a few times for drug possession and distribution, so he's not exactly a shining example of humanity...but, once he was hooked up (cuffed, shackled and in the back of that wagon), it was incumbent on the officers' to ensure his safety in transit...and they didn't do that. In addition, the seeming want of some - a certain Milwaukee County Sheriff comes to mind here - to justify everything the officers did smacks of a contempt for the citizenry that is frankly unacceptable.
Any way you look at this case, there are no good exits; I almost get the feeling it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Founder's Quote, 1 May 2015

I should consider the speeches of Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus, as preeminent specimens of logic, taste and that sententious brevity which, using not a word to spare, leaves not a moment for inattention to the hearer. Amplification is the vice of modern oratory. - Thomas Jefferson, letter to David Harding — 1824

Rubella Becomes Third Disease Eradicated From The Americas...Thanks To Vaccines!

...hey, anti-vaxxers: still think vaccines don't work?
Smallpox was the first, in 1971. Then polio, in 1994. Now, for the third time, the Americas are the first region in the world to eliminate yet another disease through vaccines: rubella. After 15 years of a widespread vaccination campaign with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization announced yesterday that rubella no longer circulates in the Americas. The only way a person could catch it is if they are visiting another country or if it is imported into a North, Central or South American country.
With the recent resurgence of measles due to pockets of vaccine refusals throughout the U.S., the announcement serves as a much-needed reminder of the effectiveness of vaccines and the critical role they play in protecting the health of the population. And in the wake of yet another study showing no link between the MMR and autism spectrum disorders, there’s a certain irony to the fact that the only clearly established cause of autism – congenital rubella syndrome – is actually prevented by the MMR vaccine.
Rubella, also known as German measles, was previously among a pregnant woman’s greatest fears. Although it’s generally a mild disease in children and young adults, rubella wreaks havoc when a pregnant woman catches it because the virus can cross the placenta to the fetus, increasing the risk for congenital rubella syndrome.
Congenital rubella syndrome can cause miscarriage or stillbirth, but even the infants who survive are likely to have birth defects, heart problems, blindness, deafness, brain damage, bone and growth problems, intellectual disability or damage to the liver and spleen. Strikingly, past research has found that as many as one in 12 children born with congenital rubella syndrome developed autism in childhood.
The only way to prevent congenital rubella syndrome is for a pregnant woman to have immunity to the disease. The only way to develop that immunity – unless she has had rubella herself – is with the MMR vaccine, developed by Dr. Maurice Hilleman with the Merck team in 1969, just a few years after the last major rubella outbreak in the U.S. (Public Health Watch)
...if this isn't another reminder of how important vaccines are to the overall health of society, what the hell is?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Founder's Quote, 30 April 2015

The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is superior to all other considerations. - George Washington, letter to James Madison — 1788

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Seared Music: The Lovin' Spoonful - "Summer In The City"

....its' just been one of those days...

People Moving To Rural & Exurban Areas More & More...

Quoting: Forget Manhattan, just give me that countryside! More and more people are moving from the urban cities to rural areas.

If there's one good thing about living in the country, its' not having to worry about big-city lefties' ruining everything....just saying. 

Looting...

...any questions? (Tom Fernandez's Blog)

Founder's Quote, 29 April 2015

Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent. - John Adams, Thoughts on Government — 1776

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Seared Music: Graham Nash - "Chicago"

....how does that saying go: another day, another night of unrest in Charm City?

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments On Same-Sex Marriage

Earlier today the High Court heard over two hours of arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage, with the Court asked two fundamental questions:

  1. Whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex marriages
  2. Whether states can prohibit same-sex marriages but nonetheless be required to recognize same-sex marriages that legally took place somewhere else
On the first question, the Court spent about ninety minutes or so and by most appearances, about the only scare that the pro-SSM community had to deal with was Justice Kennedy's reference to being hesitant to change the millenias'-long definition of marriage...that said, based on the questioning in this section, the Court's familiar fissures were apparent: Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer and Ginsberg seem ready to affirm SSM, while Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas are on the opposite side of SSM. As usual, Justice Kennedy was being his usual self and also, as usual, Chief Justice Roberts was all-but-silent on the issue. On the second question, the Court spent about an hour and the fissures there as just about as apparent, with one key exception: during the second part of oral arguments, on the second question above, the Chief Justice seemed to ask a lot more questions than during the arguments of the first question, which posited a comment over at SCOTUSBlog by commentator Kevin Russell, to wit:
So where does this leave us?  Once again, it may all come down to Justice Kennedy, and he didn’t tip his hand during his questions and comments in the first part of today’s arguments. Kevin Russell, who contributes frequently to this blog, has suggested that the Chief Justice’s questions during the second part of the oral argument could be part of an effort to broker a compromise, in which the Court rules that there is no right to same-sex marriage but still gives the plaintiffs much of what they are seeking by requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages that happen somewhere else.  Notably, however, Justice Anthony Kennedy was quiet during the arguments on the recognition question.  Does that silence mean that he had already decided to rule for the plaintiffs on the first question, eliminating any need to worry about the second one? (SCOTUSBlog)
If I had to hazard a guess, Russell's comments almost suggest that a 5-4 vote in favor of both arguments is in the cards, with either the Chief Justice or Justice Kennedy being the deciding vote....Kennedy's silence in the second part of today's arguments is also interesting as well; even though he did mention the marriage definition thing early on, that tends to make me think that he - or the Chief Justice - are looking for some Solomonic way to decide the issue without antagonizing either the pro or anti-SSM crowd.

That said, trying to predict how the High Court rules on any decision, especially a high-profile decision is akin to being a Kremlinologist during the height of the Cold War; you 'bout have almost better odds of winning the Powerball lottery - or of scoring a date with U.S. Women's soccer star Alex Morgan, for that matter - than of correctly predicting how the Court will rule.

Founder's Quote, 28 April 2015

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects commmitted to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people. - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31 — 1788

Monday, April 27, 2015

Seared Music: Buffalo Springfield - "For What It's Worth"

...with everything going on up in Baltimore today and into the nighttime, this is almost an appropriate song....

Rioting In Baltimore; Officers Injured, Fires & Looting Widespread

....the last time I can remember riots firing up as violently as they have in a major American urban area, you almost have to go back to the riots of 1967...and on the day when a Baltimore family laid to rest their son about a week after dying under police custody in what has to be very suspicious circumstances...
Rioters in Baltimore hurled rocks at police, destroyed patrol cars and looted and burned stores as demonstrations over the death of a black man in police custody turned violent Monday.
Police said 15 officers were injured and two remained hospitalized Monday evening. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in the city and activated the National Guard to assist city and state police, calling it a "last resort'' to restore order.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called the rioters "thugs" and said the city was imposing a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting Tuesday. She said she asked Hogan to send in the Guard. "We are deploying every resource possible to gain control of the situation and ensure peace moving forward,'' she said.
The Baltimore Orioles postponed a scheduled Monday night game with the Chicago White Sox. The violence was taking place about two and a half miles from the Camden Yards baseball stadium that is home to the Orioles.
Police said more than two dozen people were arrested. The city's schools were canceled for Tuesday. After darkness fell, a large building fire near a Baptist church was engulfed in fire.
Dozens of people could be seen throwing bricks, rocks and other objects at officers and at patrol cars with officers inside just hours after funeral services for Freddie Gray. Some demonstrators attacked a stopped police car, leaping on the roof and hood and smashing windows. At least two other police vehicles were set on fire.
Police officers moved in and took down several people near the damaged car. But no police could be seen as rioters looted stores including a CVS pharmacy, a check cashing store, a liquor store and a cell phone store. (USA Today)
Now, we still don't know all the circumstance behind Freddie Gray a week and a half ago - and FWIW on that, if there is enough evidence of illegality, those officers involved should be punished - but its' this kind of behavior that also engenders the growing divide and contempt between people w/in America....its' almost, looking at it from a historical perspective, as if there are some in this country who will not be satisfied until America - never mind, a city like Baltimore - but America burns to the ground...

Founder's Quote, 27 April 2015

Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is. - Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richards Almanack — 1749