A Brief Look At The Death Penalty And The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently made a ruling on Glossip v. Gross, a case on the death penalty. By a 5-4 vote, the court upheld the use of the controversial drug midazolam as part of a three-drug cocktail used in carrying out the death penalty.  The Supreme Court concluded its term on Monday, writes NPR.

Let’s take a brief look at the situation, shall we?

According to The Economist, of the 35 people who were executed in America in 2014, at least three died a death that was unduly harsh or violent.

The problem is that states are having trouble getting the drugs they need to ensure the deaths are painless.

European companies will not sell drugs to be used in executions, and American companies are increasingly uncertain (or worried about lawsuits?) about having their brands linked to lethal injections.

Oklahoma and other states have been changing the three-drug protocol, and in some cases using a drug called midazolam, which was apparently used in the “botched” execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last year.  It was used in others as well.

Does using midazolam defy the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”? According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Glossip v Gross, the answer, surprisingly, was no.

“The case was brought before the court by three prisoners on death-row in Oklahoma, who are understandably wary of an execution cocktail that includes midazolam,” writes The Economist.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the petitioners failed to prove that midazolam offers a ‘substantial risk of serious harm’.

Citing evidence that the sedative is effective at the right dosage, the court found that while Clayton Lockett received too little of it, the same three-drug mix finished off 12 other prisoners “without any significant problems”.

The 8th amendment reads:  Amendment VIII. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

The 28 member nations of the E.U. have banned the death penalty.   It is a requirement for joining the E.U.

Let’s look at some history of the death penalty in the West.  According to deathpenalty.org:

“In the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This 1948 doctrine proclaimed a “right to life” in an absolute fashion, any limitations being only implicit. Knowing that international abolition of the death penalty was not yet a realistic goal in the years following the Universal Declaration, the United Nations shifted its focus to limiting the scope of the death penalty to protect juveniles, pregnant women, and the elderly.”

“During the 1950s and 1960s subsequent international human rights treaties were drafted, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights.

“These documents also provided for the right to life, but included the death penalty as an exception that must be accompanied by strict procedural safeguards. Despite this exception, many nations throughout Western Europe stopped using capital punishment, even if they did not, technically, abolish it. As a result, this de facto abolition became the norm in Western Europe by the 1980s.” (Schabas, 1997)

The U.S. already had a moratorium on the death penalty.  That began in 1972 after the case of Furman v. Georgia.

According to deathpenalty.org:

“In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, (1972), the Court invalidated existing death penalty laws because they constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.  The Court reasoned that the laws resulted in a disproportionate application of the death penalty, specifically discriminating against the poor and minorities.  The Court also reasoned that the existing laws terminated life in exchange for marginal contributions to society.”

The death penalty was reinstated in 1977, after the case of Gregg v. Georgia:

In Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, (1976), the Court refused to expand Furman.  The Court held the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional as it could serve the social purposes of retribution and deterrence.  Specifically, the Court upheld Georgia’s new capital sentencing procedures, reasoning that the Georgia rules reduced the problem of arbitrary application as seen in earlier statutes.

Clayton Lockett spent 43 minutes writhing in pain on the gurney, according to The Economist.  “This shit is fucking with my head,” he said before finally dying.

Hitler Didn’t Have Any (Known) Children. What About Mussolini?

National Alliance deputy Alessandra Mussolini (R) with her husband Mauro Floriani in 1997 (EPA)

The grand-daughter of Benito Mussolini, Alessandra Mussolini, has been in the news recently (she is apparently famous).   The 52-year-old woman and her husband are in the middle of a sex scandal of sorts.  Her husband is reportedly on trial for allegedly paying for sex with schoolgirl prostitutes in Rome, according to the British newspaper The Telegraph.

Mauro Floriani is an ex-police officer and the husband of the Minister of Parliament and former topless model Alessandra Mussolini.  He is accused of having several encounters with the under age escorts, who were aged just 14 and 15, according to The Telegraph.

Mussolini is a former Playboy model, writes the U.K. Daily Mail.

In a scandal that shocked Italians when it first broke two years ago, it came out that at least 50 men paid for sex with two schoolgirls, including middle-aged professionals and the son of a senator with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.

They were working out of an apartment building in the upmarket district of Parioli in Rome, Italy.  Prosecutors have asked that Mr. Floriani be sent to trial for the alleged offenses.

Paying for sex with a woman under the age of 18 is a crime under Italian law and if found guilty, Mr Floriani faces up to six years in prison.

(Updated article)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3137975/From-Playboy-model-Berlusconi-crony-Revealed-colourful-life-Mussolini-s-granddaughter-Sophia-Loren-s-favourite-niece-husband-accused-paying-schoolgirl-prostitute-sex.html

Shark Attacks In The Carolinas

At least five shark attacks have been reported at North and South Carolina beaches this month, writes CNN. The Washington Post puts the number at 7 attacks.

On Saturday afternoon, a beach outing in North Carolina took a harrowing turn when a 17-year-old boy was attacked by a shark.

The teenager was swimming with several other people near Waves, North Carolina, when the shark attacked, writes CNN.

The teen received various injuries to his right calf, buttocks and both hands, according to a news release posted to the facebook page of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  No other swimmers were injured, writes CNN.

Ocean Rescue Squad paramedics and National Park Service Rangers rushed to the scene in response to a 911 call about an injured person on the beach, writes CNN.  The teen was then transported to Norfolk, Virginia, for further medical treatment.

What Are The Chances Of Getting Rid Of Obamacare?


TYT Network

Probably not much.

On Thursday, for the second time in three years, the Supreme Court rejected a major lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), thereby preserving the largest expansion in health coverage since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid half a century ago, writes the Huffington Post.

The stakes of the case, King v. Burwell, were enormous. Had the plaintiffs prevailed, millions of people who depend upon the Affordable Care Act for insurance would have lost financial assistance from the federal government. Without that money, most of them would have had to give up coverage altogether.

In an interesting twist, Forbes reported that the Supreme Court decision has helped investment in health care Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) – in other words, investing in health care real estate.

Forbes: “As a result, health systems and doctors will now be able to move forward with the certainty they need to make major decisions such as leasing, capital expenditures and other investments.

“The ACA is projected to add an additional 35 to 45 million insured patients into the marketplace. These individuals are expected to increase their utilization of health services, which should bode well for hospitals and physicians volumes – a net positive for hospitals and the owners of on-campus medical office buildings.”

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks breaks it down.

(Updated post)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bradthomas/2015/06/29/affordable-care-act-serves-as-strong-tailwind-for-healthcare-reits/

California ‘Cap-And-Trade’ Program Provides $122 Million For Affordable Housing

According to scpr.org, California’s cap-and-trade program this year will provide $122 million in funding for affordable housing, including more than 800 new units in Southern California for lower-income residents.

28 winning projects are to be built using high energy-efficiency standards and will be located within a half mile of public transit stops.

California’s Strategic Growth Council, which picked the award recipients, said that’s in keeping with the spirit of the cap-and-trade program that collects fees from polluting companies to put toward addressing climate change.

The housing projects will “reduce as much greenhouse gas as taking all the cars in Newport Beach and Citrus Heights up north off the road for a year,” said Mike McCoy, the council’s executive director.

http://www.housingca.org/#!cap-and-trade/c1rev

http://www.hcd.ca.gov/financial-assistance/affordable-housing-and-sustainable-communities/

June 28th, 1997: Mike Tyson Bites Off Piece Of Evander Holyfield’s Ear

Exported.; exp;

On June 29th, 1997, The New York Daily News wrote, “Biting off more than he could chew, Mike Tyson was disqualified for twice sinking his teeth into Evander Holyfield in the third round of last night’s rematch between the two biggest money-making fighters in history.”

Tyson chewed off a piece of one ear and reportedly also tried to bite Holyfield’s other ear.  Tyson was disqualified from the boxing match that night.  Holyfield was sent to the hospital.

http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/throwback/201506/throwback-mike-tyson-bites-evander-holyfields-ear

John Oliver Discusses ‘ISIS Flag’ At London Gay Pride Parade


John Oliver

The black “ISIS flag” spotted at a gay pride parade in London was not what CNN thought it was…

Oliver also looks at the recent Supreme Court decisions.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3142221/CNN-confuses-black-white-flag-covered-sex-toy-symbols-ISIS-London-gay-pride-parade.html

Is Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Catholic? Will He Follow The Pope’s Encyclical On Climate Change?

The Washington Post once discussed Bill O’Reilly’s faith with him.  He appeared to be Catholic.  Below is an excerpt.

“You grew up Catholic. How big of a role did faith play in your home?

“I lived in a traditional Irish Catholic home that didn’t deviate very much from what had happened in the past 150 years. We went to church on Sunday, went out to breakfast afterward. There were rituals. My mother wanted me to be an altar boy, so I was. I can compare it to a very working-class, predictable, faith-based situation. It was just: Here are the rules. Here’s what we do. There wasn’t a lot of why in it.

“Did you believe in God?

“Yes, I bought into the orthodoxy. When you’re a little kid and your parents believe and then the school teaches you, it’s an inculcation. I didn’t challenge it.

“And what about Jesus? Did you believe Jesus was the Son of God?

“Oh, yes. Sure. Yes, back then in the late ’50s, early ’60s when I was in Catholic school, everybody believed it.

According to hollowverse.com, “O’Reilly grew up going to Catholic schools and is still Catholic today.” Hollowverse.com cites the “Bill O’Reilly Biography.”

On the website http://www.creators.com, O’Reilly writes, “Over the years, I have occasionally written about being a practicing Roman Catholic, a fact that sometimes leads to incredulous statements like ‘You go to church?’ Somehow, I don’t believe the question is a compliment.”  He also writes, “A number of Catholics have left the church because of the priestly sins, but not me.”

Several sites show that he is Catholic. As a conservative, he also denies man-made climate change. So, the question is, will the pope’s encyclical on climate change affect Bill O’Reilly?

http://hollowverse.com/bill-oreilly/#footnote_0_7708

Car-Bombs In Baghdad

Baghdad attack

Is ISIS in Baghdad, Iraq? At least 10 people were killed in bombings in Baghdad on June 27th. Some sources claim 12 have died.

In the deadliest attack, five people were killed and 13 wounded in a car bombing near shops selling car parts in southeastern Baghdad. Another bomb went off at an outdoor market on Baghdad’s eastern outskirts, killing three and wounding eight. An explosion at a fruit and vegetable market in southern Baghdad killed two people and wounded three, writes Radio Free Europe.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Prime Minister – Haidar al-Abadi – announced on June 27th that security forces arrested Abdel Baqi al-Sadun, a senior official in Saddam Hussein’s former Baath Party.

Sources claim no one has as of yet claimed responsibility for the car bombings.

http://www.nasdaq.com/article/deadly-blasts-hit-baghdad-fugitive-baathist-captured-20150628-00036

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2015/0627/Baghdad-bomb-blasts-targeting-public-places-kill-12-people

http://www.rferl.org/content/at-least-10-dead-in-baghdad-blasts/27097025.html

Did Romneycare Save Obamacare In The Recent Supreme Court Decision?

Chief Justice John Roberts cited Massachusetts’ own Romneycare law extensively throughout his opinion explaining the court’s 6-3 decision to uphold Obamacare’s subsidies.  The Affordable Care Act (the ACA, aka Obamacare) relied on a similar framework to Romneycare, writes MSNBC.

Legal scholars say the 2006 Massachusetts law, which Romney supported and signed as governor, played a key role in bolstering the White House’s case that the ACA always intended to provide subsidies to federal and state exchanges, despite a clause that referred only to “an exchange established by the state.”

Democrats have Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law to thank as inspiration for the Affordable Care Act, which relied on a similar framework. Now they can credit the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney with helping to save it from an existential legal threat in King v. Burwell, writes MSNBC

(Updated posting)

Read the Supreme Court decision here:

Click to access 14-114_qol1.pdf

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/how-mitt-romney-saved-obamacare