Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Unavoidable Sanctions, A Deeply Troubling Execution, and A Shooting in Alaska

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel showed up outside of the White House today along with President Barack Obama. Both of them promised there would be another round of economic sanctions if the Russians don't tone down their act in Ukraine.

Obviously, they have to do something, because the ones in place now certainly haven't put a dent in Vladimir Putin's enthusiasm for annexing territory and slipping special ops forces into the eastern parts of the country. Neither Merkel, or Obama went into detail about the nature of the "unavoidable" sanctions, or how they might curb Russia's involvement in the ongoing attempt to partition Ukraine and isolate the government in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the situation there continues to deteriorate. NBC reports there was rioting today in the city of Odessa between pro unity backers and separatists. An English language media outlet in Kiev claims Russian speaking thugs attacked a demonstration of pro government supporters. At this point there is no telling what really happened. The truth is always the first casualty in situations such as these. Everyone knows the value of the media and how to manipulate it and nobody hesitates to do so.

In the eastern part of the nation, Ukrainian troops are pushing into the city of Slovyansk, which has been under the control of anti government forces. The move has angered the Russians, who, as always, are never at a loss for reasons to be angered. They are claiming the offensive voids a cease fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and others. Today, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement which says, "English speech has been heard on the air and English speaking foreigners were spotted among those who attacked Slovyansk."

In addition the foreign ministry is accusing U.S. "private security forces" of being involved in Ukraine. Both accusations are a double edged sword. The first question, which could reasonably be asked, is how did the Russian government get this shocking intelligence? If the charges have any merit there are only two possible answers. The first is they are so closely supporting the separatists they have constant communications with them. The second--Russian troops are directly involved in Slovyansk, despite the tepid denials by Vlad himself.

Much closer to home, Oklahoma authorities are still trying to figure out what went wrong Tuesday during the execution of Clayton Lockett.

Mr. Lockett did not go quietly into that good night. The Department of Corrections issued a statement saying prior to the botched execution, Lockett had to be tasered because he was, "uncooperative" when officials tried to restrain him for a pre hot shot set of X-rays.

Then things really went down hill.

First off, the phlebotomist apparently couldn't find a usable vein in his arms, legs, or feet, so the IV was inserted into Lockett's groin. He was administered the drug midazolam which was meant to knock him out. Then he was given a dose of vecuronium bromide in order to paralyze his muscles To end it, potassium chloride was added to the mix which was supposed to stop his heart.

It was the first time Oklahoma had used this particular mix of drugs. It was also the first time anyone had used them in the doses which were run into the IV. It will probably be the last, because things went terribly awry. Even though Lockett had been declared unconscious he began thrashing about on the table and for, at least a moment or two, seemed awake. The doctor in charge decided his vein had collapsed and called a halt to the execution saying the drugs had either leaked out, or been absorbed by Lockett's tissue; that there weren't enough in his system to kill him. A faint heart beat was detected, but the doctor was wrong, there was enough potassium chloride in him that 43 minutes after the execution began, Lockett was declared dead of what has been diagnosed as a heart attack.

Yes, it seems when the state kills people, we'd rather not have them flopping around on the gurney like a boated tuna, especially in front of witnesses. The White House issued a statement earlier this week through Press Secretary Jay Carney, saying the execution, "fell short of humane standards." Today Barack Obama said he was "deeply troubled" by the affair. In the past, he has also said some crimes are so heinous the death penalty is warranted.

Governor Mary Fallin delayed the execution of Charles Warner until May 13th, so someone could figure out what went wrong. He was scheduled to be killed a couple of hours after Lockett. Robert Patton, the head of the Oklahoma DOC sent the Governor a letter saying all executions should be delayed indefinitely. Warner's attorney agreed and added she believed a cover up was in process and an independent investigation should be conducted.

Lockett was convicted of shooting a teen aged girl with a shotgun, then watching as two of his pals buried her alive. Warner maintains he is innocent of raping and killing an 11 month old baby.

Finally, up in Alaska, a man described by a witness as, "a young kid, or young adult," shot and killed two state troopers in the town of Tanana Thursday. Tanana is 130 miles west of Fairbanks and so isolated it can only be reached by air. The suspect was taken into custody last night by an Alaskan SWAT team after a standoff.

So far the NRA has been mum on the shooting. No doubt the organization realizes their contention the killer would have been stopped if everyone was armed is pretty useless when it comes to a place like Alaska. Because--you know--everyone there is armed.

And there we have it. Just another Friday down the drain.

As always, the bar is open.

sic vita est


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