AZ official says agonizing 2-hour execution was not “botched”

Another horrific death penalty episode, this time in Arizona, has resulted in a temporary suspension of the penalty in the state.

The execution of Mr. Wood was, by all accounts, an unusual one: Once a vein had been tapped, it took one hour and 52 minutes for the drugs pumped into him to do their work; the process dragged on long enough for Mr. Wood’s lawyers to file an emergency appeal to a Federal District Court to stop the execution.

Some witnesses to Mr. Wood’s execution said that he gasped, seemingly for air, more than 600 times as he died. “The movement was like a piston: The mouth opened, the chest rose, the stomach convulsed,” wrote one witness, Michael Kiefer, a reporter for The Arizona Republic.
[...]
The episode has once again stoked the debate over the kinds and source of the drugs used in executions and led the state to promise an investigation. Mr. Wood’s execution was the fourth troubled one this year, and his injection was a two-drug combination — hydromorphone, an opioid painkiller that suppresses breathing, and midazolam, a sedative — that was used in a prolonged execution in Ohio in January.

 
States have been forced to improvise on lethal injection combos this year following an extensive effort by the European Union — where most of the ingredients originate — to ban exports of materials potentially used in executions to U.S. states with the death penalty. It’s no longer entirely clear in some states what exactly is being used, and even when the ingredients are disclosed, the effects (or effectiveness) are not fully known ahead of time.

The Attorney General of Arizona put a temporary halt on the state death penalty, pending a full inquiry into this week’s incident.

Meanwhile, the state Corrections chief insisted it had gone according to plan:

Charles L. Ryan, the director of the state’s Department of Corrections rejected the notion that the execution was botched, despite the fact that the procedure of death by lethal injection usually takes about 15 minutes. He said in a statement that an autopsy by the Pima County medical examiner, concluded on Thursday, found that the intravenous lines were “perfectly placed,” “the catheters in each arm were completely within the veins” and “there was no leakage of any kind.”

 
I get the sense that he doesn’t realize the implication of insisting this was not botched is that it was intended to be an agonizing 2 hour death. Unless, that was actually the goal, but I highly doubt it, given that intentionally cruel methods of execution would expose the state to very credible lawsuits on the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the 8th Amendment.

640px-Flag_of_Arizona.svg

Tomb of the Prophet Jonah blown up outside Mosul

In the continuing battle over the religious future of the city of Mosul, the modern heir to the Biblical city of Nineveh, the Tomb of Jonah (also known as the Mosque of the Prophet Yunus, after his Arabic name) was blown up today. Video showed the structure being completely leveled by explosives.

The Mosque, previously a Church and originally part of an Assyrian palace complex, was supposed to be the burial ground of the 8th Century BCE prophet most famous for being swallowed by a fish when he tried to avoid going to Nineveh to preach. Today the area is a suburb of Mosul, which lies across the river from where Nineveh stood.

Government officials blamed ISIS for the attack, which seems to be the case. It was not immediately obvious exactly why the extremist Sunni Islamist would target a Sunni Mosque of significance to the core of Islam. Jonah/Yunus is one of the crossover figures from the Hebrew Bible, Christian Old Testament, and Quran.

However, ISIS has reportedly destroyed a number of other Sunni Mosques in Mosul already since capturing it in June, perhaps to remove competition against their hardline views.

Less than a week ago, ISIS expelled all the Christians from the city for the first time in 18 centuries.

Video still seconds after detonation of the minaret and building complex. Watch

Video still, seconds after detonation of the minaret and building complex. Watch

UK has a real arms sales problem on its hands

No. 10 Downing St (Credit: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC - Ministry of Defense via Wikimedia)

No. 10 Downing St (Credit: Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC – Ministry of Defense via Wikimedia)

A parliamentary report has found that the British government has not revoked arms sale licenses to Russia in compliance with sanctions against the country following its annexation of Crimea, despite bold claims by the Cameron government.

This comes on the heels of detailed allegations that UK firms sold dual-use (military or police) weapons to Turkey immediately following the vicious 2013 crackdown by Turkish police in several cities, and it echoes revelations that, in 2012, the UK government knowingly approved exports of a key ingredient in Sarin gas to the sanctioned regime in Syria during the Civil War (which were only blocked by the EU).

Details on the new Russia report, according to The Guardian:

More than 200 licences to sell British weapons to Russia, including missile-launching equipment, are still in place despite David Cameron’s claim in the Commons on Monday that the government had imposed an absolute arms embargo against the country, according to a report by a cross-party group of MPs released on Wednesday.

A large number of British weapons and military components which the MPs say are still approved for Russia are contained in a hard-hitting report by four Commons committees scrutinising arms export controls.

Existing arms export licences for Russia cover equipment for launching and controlling missiles, components for military helicopters and surface-launched rockets, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, body armour, and military communications equipment, the committee says. They also include licences for night sights for weapons, components for operating military aircraft in confined spaces, and surface-to-surface missiles.
[...]
Sir John Stanley, former Conservative defence secretary and chairman of the Commons arms control committees, said there was evidence that appeared to directly contradict the prime minister’s claim that he had already stopped all arms exports to Russia.
[...]
Stanley had already written to Philip Hammond, the new foreign secretary, asking him to explain why, according to official figures given to the MPs, of 285 current licences for Russia, only 34 had been suspended or revoked.

 
Why can’t David Cameron’s government get it together to halt British companies from selling weapons to governments they shouldn’t be doing business with, by law? Is it intentional negligence to keep the arms and money flowing?

On Syria, the laughable line from the government was that the system had worked. This time:

“We will not a grant a licence where there is a clear risk the equipment might be used for internal repression.”

 
So when exactly does it become clear that Russia or Syria might use weapons for internal repression? Or what about Turkey, literally right after it engaged in internal repression?

And what do we make of this accusation in the Russia report?

It says the most significant change in the government’s policy on arms exports over the past year is the dropping of the wording in the arms sales criteria that: “An export licence will not be issued if the arguments for doing so are outweighed … by concern that the goods might be used for internal repression”.

You know, in the sense, that that action is exactly the opposite of the supposed policy stated by the government spokesperson.

The United Kingdom is the 7th largest arms exporting country in the world by dollar value annually, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Congressional candidate: My Christian totalitarianism > Muslim totalitarianism

Georgia Congressional candidate, Baptist pastor, and right-wing radio host Jody B. Hice supports total hardline conservative Christianization of the United States society and government, while simultaneously arguing that main problem with Islam is its (purported) totalitarian control of territory and the political system.

“Most people think Islam is a religion,” Hice argued in a 2011 speech. “It’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component.” He expanded in his book: “It is a complete geo-political structure, and as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

vs.

In 2012, Hice published It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America via WestBow Press, a Christian self-publishing house. In the book, he made the dubious claim that the “Constitutional form of government that is the great American experiment is a distinctly Christian society,” To “reclaim America,” he argues, the nation must end abortion, prevent same-sex marriage, repeal hate-crime protections…

 
Does anyone have recommendations on a lawyer who can help me sue him for whiplash?

And before anyone clambers onto their high horse about “crazy Republicans,” let’s just remember that irrational U.S. anti-Muslim bigotry like this is virtually boundless, cross-partisan, and intense. Read more

July 23, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 93

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Topics: Big Ideas in U.S. Reform — Is health care a human right? Central American unaccompanied children. People: Bill, Nate, Greg. Produced: July 20, 2014.

Discussion Points:

- Is health care a fundamental human right? Why or why not?
- What should be done about the wave of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States from Central America without permission?

Part 1 – Health care:
Part 1 – Health care – AFD 92
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children:
Part 2 – Unaccompanied children – AFD 93

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

- AFD: Central American toddlers are existential threat to USA, say militias
- AFD: Unaccompanied minors forced to defend themselves in court

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Reviewing Kosovo in 1999 (versus Gaza in 2014)

The United States is fairly habitual about being inconsistent on where and when it intervenes militarily in violent world crises. Some of that is unfortunately unavoidable and some of it is a lot more troubling. 2013 and 2014 have seen some of the most unfolding dramatic crises without armed U.S. intervention in quite some time (and in nearly all cases, I would suggest that this is for the best, from a variety of angles).

Although British Prime Minister Tony Blair notably made the more elegant case for NATO intervening in the Yugoslavia/Kosovar crisis in 1999 (against the Serbian-led Yugoslavian government and in support of the ethnically Albanian population in the Kosovo province), President Bill Clinton also had to make the case to the American public.

Here is how the beginning of that speech unfolded (my emphasis added): Read more

One state’s political fringe becomes the rest of our problem

Flag_of_Missouri-cropSo it turns out that a recklessly irresponsible fringe in Missouri politics is determined to help the rest of the country die of prescription drug abuse as fast as is logistically possible, even as pretty much every other state is losing its mind trying to figure out how to stop the prescription drug abuse and opiate/heroin abuse problem from spiraling even further out of control. You think I’m being hyperbolic? Buckle up.

The New York Times reports on the story in an article headlined “Missouri Alone in Resisting Prescription Drug Database” :

Drug monitoring programs, whose procedures and powers can vary significantly from state to state, all share a similar strategy: to require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can — or, in some states, must — be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication.

Because many states’ programs appear effective, Missouri has been urged to put one into effect. Among those calling for a change are Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oxycodone, the highly abused prescription painkiller.

 
Seems reasonable so far. Every other state has got a database (with great results in many cases), the key players (including a major local drug maker) are on board, and it seems like common sense. So why hasn’t it happened yet? Let’s read on together…

But while proponents say the vast majority of the Legislature supports the measure, it has been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.

And then one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever read in a New York Times article came right after that (emphasis added): Read more

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