Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Eric Frein's Unsure Footing in the Poconos, Kaci Goes Biking, and No More Halloween in Oklahoma City

Yesterday evening the trick was finally on Eric Frein. Frein is the angry dude who is accused of killing one Pennsylvania state trooper and wounding another in an ambush which took place about a month and a half ago. The motive for the shooting is still a bit vague, but right now the best guess is he did it because--well--he wanted to. For the past 48 days he has been hiding out in the wilds of the Poconos leading authorities on a dizzying manhunt which quite nearly paralyzed a large swath of the eastern part of the state.

According to reports he was popped either inside an abandoned airplane hanger, or in a field next to it. Police say there wasn't a specific tip which led them to their man, but that he was simply discovered during a routine sweep of the area.

The cops also said, Frein, described as a self taught survivalist, surrendered without incident. However, photos of him in custody show what appears to be a fresh cut across the bridge of his nose and abrasions on one cheek and above his right eye. Authorities are saying, Frein's injuries were sustained prior to the arrest. Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the press, it is rugged terrain out there and obviously the man's footing was unsure. Hey, you have to say something don't you?

Frein, who left a trail of cigarette butts, soiled diapers, and military style back packs among other things, will face charges which run the gamut from first degree murder, to, presumably, littering. The prosecutor handling the case was quick to tell the media the state would seek the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Kaci Hickox is now officially footloose and fancy free thanks to the ruling of a district judge in Maine. Ms. Hickox is a nurse who just recently returned from Sierra Leone where she was treating Ebola patients.

She landed at the Newark, NJ airport late last week and became the first person chucked into mandatory quarantine thanks to that state's new health regulations. She managed to get to Ft. Kent, Maine over the weekend where she found herself restricted to her home on a "voluntary" basis. By Wednesday of this week she was appearing on The Today Show threatening to break the quarantine, which she claimed was, "..not scientifically and constitutionally just."

On Thursday she and her boyfriend did just that by taking a bike ride through town, trailed by members of the media and at least one highway patrol car. Maine's governor, Paul LePage immediately attempted to find a judge who would put a halt to her joy riding escapades. Yesterday, the best he could do was get one who ruled that, Ms. Hickox could leave her home, but not come within three feet of anyone, use public transportation, or show up at public places.

In the mean time, during an interview, LePage told the press the law enforcement officer posted at her residence wasn't there to protect people from her, but to keep her safe from an increasingly angry and fearful public. There were also unconfirmed reports of death threats being posted on social media sites.

Earlier today the same judge lifted all the restrictions on the nurse, although he did say she would have to undergo daily checkups and inform health officials of any travel plans in advance.

In addition the Judge alluded to what LePage was saying when he wrote, "The respondent's actions at this point, as a health care professional, need to demonstrate her full understanding of human nature and the real fear that exists. She should guide herself accordingly."

In other words, you maybe right, but don't be an asshole about it because frightened people do stupid things.

Finally it is Halloween, which in most parts of Oklahoma City, means it is just another Friday night. Thanks to the influence of evangelical Christians and unfounded paranoia most of this burg's residential streets will remain deserted this evening.

Gone are the days when groups of children dressed in wonderful costumes wander the neighborhoods scoring things like homemade popcorn balls, caramel apples, and chocolate chip cookies.

One of the great American traditions, at least here, has succumbed to fundamentalist hysteria and urban myth. The evangelicals claim such goings on are rife with satanism and horrified parents are convinced evil lurks at every door. This despite the fact there has been only two confirmed cases of children being poisoned by Halloween candy in the country. In both instances the kids were done in by their own parents, not some demented lunatic living on the next block.

So there we have it, a deadly bushwhacker is in custody, Kaci Hickox got her way, plus all the little ones are safe from both enjoying themselves and our fears.

Indeed, the month is done and--at least for some of us--it seems to have ended in a tidy sort of way.

Ladies and gentlemen, as always, the bar is open.




10-31-14

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three Lessons for Kaci Hickox

Kaci Hickox is admirable person. She is a nurse who works with the organization, Doctors Without Borders. Just recently she returned from west Africa where she was helping treat Ebola patients. Obviously she has been out of the loop because she was shocked when she arrived back here. The problem was Ms. Hickox didn't realize the United States of America is now officially freaked out by the disease and anyone who might have come anywhere close to it.

She got a quick and startling lesson as soon as she deplaned in Newark, NJ. In her words the scene was, "...complete confusion and leaderless."

After spending three days in a quarantine tent in Jersey she somehow managed to get back to her home in Ft. Kent, Maine where she has remained isolated on a voluntary basis. It might not be voluntary much longer.

Somewhere between Newark and Ft. Kent, nurse Hickox got angry about the entire situation. Proving she is a true blue American, she began talking about walking out of her home tomorrow and suing the living daylights out of someone--perhaps everyone. In an interview on The Today Show she told, Matt Lauer, "I truly believe this policy is not scientifically, or constitutionally just and so I'm not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I'm not a risk to the American public."

Unfortunately, what Kaci Hickox still hasn't gotten is, it isn't just the politicians who want her isolated. Overwhelmingly, it is the same American public she says she isn't a risk to. If she does make a quick trip to the local super market tomorrow and people recognize her, she will probably learn another lesson, one in mass hysteria.        

After hearing what she had to say, Maine's governor, Paul LePage immediately began looking for a judge who would make her quarantine mandatory. NJ governor Chris Christie bluntly told her something along the lines of, "Go ahead sue me, get in line." Christie can make that challenge with total confidence because he might be many things, but he knows how to read his constituents. He understands perfectly if it were up to many of them the good nurse would have never even made it off the plane.

Ms. Hickox is looking to pick a fight with politicians, but in reality she is about to go to war with an entire populace so out of their heads with fear things are starting to get very strange indeed.

Think not? Earlier this month a teacher from a Maine school district was sent home for 21 days. It wasn't because she went rambling all willy-nilly through the west African countryside, but had attended a conference in Dallas, TX. Her hotel was nine and a half miles from the hospital that admitted a Liberian national with the disease and where two of his attending nurses came down with it. Using the same logic the entire University of Oklahoma football team and roughly 45,000 of its fans should still be sitting in quarantine at this very moment because OU played Texas in Dallas at about the same time.

In Connecticut a man is suing his third grader's school district because they won't allow her to return until after the magical 21 days. She had spent a week with her family in Nigeria earlier this month. Nigeria hasn't had a confirmed case of Ebola since the end of August.

Back in Texas another school district won't allow a teacher to return because he, or she, had taken a "safari" vacation in Tanzania. Tanzania, while in Africa, is about 3,000 miles away from what is now being called "the Ebola zone." That's roughly the same distance which separates Portland, ME and San Diego, CA.

Yes, you can sue a politician, a police department, a city, or a state. If your lawyer is good enough you might even win.

However, the third and final lesson for Kaci Hickox this week is, you can't take panic to court and even if you could, you'd find the jury pool hopelessly contaminated.

It may not be constitutional and it certainly isn't scientific, but it is the truth.



sic vita est


10-19-14

Friday, October 24, 2014

We're All Prisoners and Guns are Our Cruel Jailers

How long oh, Lord?

On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza killed his mother, then drove over to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Before he did everyone a favor by blowing his own diseased brains out he shot to death 20 kids under the age of 10 and six teachers and school employees.

The nation, not to mention the world, was aghast. The horror was such the president of these United States promised to initiate legislation that would limit the ability of lunatics like Lanza to get their hands on weapons of any sort. Initially there was enough outrage it was easy to think something might actually be done to curb this peculiar American fetish with weapons.

The fantasy didn't last long. The National Rifle Association, the worlds best financed political terrorist organization, started screeching about constitutional rights in public while privately making members of congress offers they couldn't refuse. All the outrage faded and the president couldn't get a single piece of legislation that even mentioned the words gun and control out of committee.

In the 22 months since Sandy Hook, 87 school shootings have taken place in this country. Not all of them involved some wild eyed Adam Lanza type. Some were gang related, some were accidents, some were of a personal nature--you know--Dude, Cindy Ann is my babe. No matter the circumstances, the common denominators remain guns and schools. The latest tragedy happened today in Marysville, Washington.

According to reports a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School pulled a handgun from either his pocket, or a bag and opened fire on a table of students in the school cafeteria. At this moment two are confirmed dead. One is the gunman who, in the end, police say decided on The Lanza Option and killed himself. Three persons, currently identified as "young people," are in a local hospital in critical condition. A fourth is classified as serious.

Local police say they don't have a motive for the shooting at this time. As always we crave for the rational explanation to explain an irrational act. We always need to know, what they call on the TV program, "Criminal Minds" the stressor--that one moment which made this kid capable of committing deadly madness.

One of the hired experts on MSNBC talked about a triad of circumstances that enables these terrible moments. The first is a lack of mental health screening, the second is the availability of guns, the third is social media reinforcement of feelings of alienation and rage.

Mental health screening is at best a subjective thing. One person's disenchantment is another's psychosis. And, let's face it, as long as social media trolls can operate anonymously there will always be rage and utter nonsense on the internet. The only concrete action which can be taken to at least slow the carnage is restricting the availability of guns.

It isn't going to happen though. The NRA and all those people who can't have sex unless they're able to buy and own every weapon they want, won't let it. Besides, even if we cut off every firearm sale in America tomorrow the truth is there are still 90 guns per 100 citizens, young and old, out there right now. That is a deep, deep well from which to draw.

Here is what is going to happen in the next couple of days.

The NRA will start their insufferable whining. They'll claim if only the teachers, janitors, hall monitors, and even the students themselves  had been allowed to carry firearms this wouldn't have happened. Then the convoluted fringe elements will start howling that because a measure to expand background checks of people buying a weapon is on the ballot in Washington next month, the shooting was a conspiracy perpetrated by Barack H. Obama himself. Think not? Take a quick look at Youtube and listen to the gruesome geeks who claim the Sandy Hook massacre never took place--that all the dead kids are living happily ever after on some island in the Caribbean and the witnesses and parents we saw on the news during and after the nightmare were "crisis actors."

Sometimes it is easy for many of us to think, even though we were born here, we've become strangers in a strange land. In 2000 there were six mass shooting per year in the United States. Less than a decade and a half  later there are now 16 per year.

In an odd way I can agree with one of the pro gun arguments. You can't blame the guns themselves. However, we depart company immediately after that thought. I can and do blame a system which allows all these demented fucks to get their hands on one.

The shooter in Marysville is now being described on cable news as a Native American, a football player, and a kid so popular he was named a Home Coming Prince. He wasn't a goth, or a loner and there is, at least currently, no evidence of him being bullied by anyone.

Obviously, for reasons unclear at this time, he went bats. The real tragedy is when he did go over the edge, it was no big deal for him to get his hands on a weapon designed to do nothing other than kill fellow human beings. Hey, that is exactly what pistols are made for and thanks to two hundred years of constant engineering and improvement they do that job quite well.

This is a uniquely American phenomenon. No other industrialized nation in the world suffers these sort of tragedies on such a consistent basis. Of course no other industrialized nation lets any goof with a valid driver's license walk out of a store with a weapon whose deadly capability is limited only by the buyer's current credit line.

There is no excuse for these monstrous rampages. At this point we should be so ashamed and appalled the populace ought to be demanding expanded background checks, financially prohibitive permit fees, punitive liability for those who let their weapons fall into the hands of shooters, and the same restrictions on the private sales of weapons we already have on retail transactions involving them.

Tragically the NRA has convinced huge numbers of Americans it should be easier for us to buy a gun than it is to secure a drivers license, or a passport.

That is their idea of freedom.

Sure. Now go ask all those kids at Marysville-Pilchuck High School and their parents how free they felt when a loon with a gun went completely amok in the cafeteria during the first lunch period this morning.

Let's face it, when you're a teenager running for your life because some classmate has opened fire with a handgun, when you have to cower in a classroom, then sprint to safety across a campus green--and finally--when brigades of cops must swoop down on your high school--freedom isn't a word which immediately comes to mind.

The first American truth is we're all prisoners. The second is guns are our cruel jailers.






10-24-14

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alan Hruby: Never Look Like a Mere Tourist

You can call Alan J. Hruby many things, but you'll never be able to compare him to Professor Moriarty. Until a couple of weeks ago he was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma--one who enjoyed the finer things in life. You know, jaunts to Paris, Louis Vuitton shoes and wallets, and finally a weekend at the Dallas Ritz-Carlton with no questions asked.

Yes, there is nothing quite like the fast and luxurious life style of the uber wealthy. Unfortunately Alan Hruby didn't financially qualify to be a member of that rare breed and although he appeared to be convinced otherwise, neither did his family.

His father, John Hruby had been the owner and publisher of the Duncan, Oklahoma daily paper until he sold it a few years ago. Recently he had gotten back in the business when he took over two weekly publications. One in Marlow, OK and another in Elgin.

For those of you with decent memories Duncan is the same place which produced those three criminal masterminds, Chancey Luna, Michael Jones, and James Edwards. In August of 2013 they made news all across North America and Australia when they gunned down Aussie baseball player, Christopher Lane while he was in town visiting his girlfriend. Initially one of them told local police they did it because they were bored. That story has changed now, probably because they found decent criminal lawyers and it finally dawned on them life without parole is kind of a serious thing. The current excuse is they thought the weapon used in the murder was loaded with blanks. That's right, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it was all just a practical joke gone a tad awry.

But we digress.

The Hruby family, besides John and Alan, consisted of John's wife Joy and the youngest child, 17 year old, Katherine. They could, by every measure, be considered not only successful, but part of the local upper class. The key word there being, "local." Let's face facts, while you can own a large, lovely, home and employ a full time housekeeper in Duncan, OK, it doesn't mean you can do the same thing in the Hamptons.

Tragically, Alan Hruby couldn't comprehend that nugget of harsh reality. He was already on probation for taking out a credit card in his grandmother's name and running up a $5,000 tab during a trip to Paris. His father turned him into the authorities for that one. He was found guilty of credit card fraud and ended up on probation.

In Norman, the home of OU, it is reported he somehow got a $3,000 loan which he couldn't pay back. In addition he was being looked at by police as the person who had stolen blank checks from a friend of his grandmother and had used them in order to finance new adventures. More darkly, in a story written by Nolan Clay in today's The Oklahoman, the family housekeeper told police Alan had choked his mother last Christmas when they argued about his spending.

The housekeeper, who had worked for the Hrubys for years, also told police Alan and his sister rarely got along because he was such a pain in the ass to their parents. So much so it has been reported John Hruby decided he'd had enough. A few weeks ago he cut his son off financially. The very instant he did, life for Alan Hruby became utterly intolerable--so much so he went from a wannabe trust fund playboy with no sense of restraint, or responsibility, to a killer.

In the early morning hours of October 9th Alan made a surreptitious trip home in order to steal his father's 9.mm hand gun which was always kept in the old man's truck. He was even smart enough to leave his cell phone back in Norman, so no one could use it to tell where he'd been. Even with such a precaution it didn't take long for things to stray from the plan. He was stopped by Duncan police that night, although it isn't clear whether it was before, or after he stole the weapon. He gave the officer some song and dance about having forgotten his driver's license, then gave him a fake name. The cop bought the bullshit, issued him a ticket, and let him go.

Later that day he made a second trip home. He apparently killed his mother first, while she was in the kitchen, then his sister when she came in from washing her car. When his father arrived home from work he finished the foul business by shooting him. Then, doing what he does best, he stole his mother's credit card and after driving back to Norman, took off with some pals to party hearty at the Dallas Ritz-Carlton.

Rose Marie Chavez, the housekeeper, discovered the bodies on Monday morning the 13th. Alan was contacted, arrived in Duncan soon thereafter--and--according to police, put on quite the show of grief. They were having none of it. Within 24 hours he was in the slammer, technically for violating his probation.

Before he confessed, Clay reports, he told the cops he had driven to the Marlow office of his parent's newspaper on the 8th so he could get his Mom's credit card for the trip to Dallas. His OU roommate told them he never left Norman on that Thursday. What sealed the deal though was a quick look at the Oklahoma Pike Pass history of his vehicle. That's right, instead of traveling back roads, the deadly little goof used the H.E. Bailey Turnpike to get to Duncan both times on the 9th, handing the police an accurate, time stamped, history of his travels.

Clay writes when authorities searched his parent's home they found six different fake ID's with his mug on them. When he broke down and confessed he told investigators he killed his parents to get the family's property and money. He shot his sister to death so he wouldn't have to split it with her. Well, why not? Twice as much money goes twice as far, right?

Actually, in the twisted world of Alan Hruby, twice as much money would simply get spent twice as fast. He had that sort of taste for it.

It is a long way from the Ritz-Carlton to the Stephens County jail. At first blush it is tough to adequately compare the accommodations. The Duncan lockup certainly doesn't have those embroidered white bathrobes the Ritz-Carlton provides its guests with.

It would probably be a good idea for young Hruby to pal up with Messrs Luna, Edwards, and Jones as quickly as possible. Hey, it always helps to have friends when arriving at a new location.

And--after all--in situations such as these, a sophisticated young man of means never wants to seem a mere tourist.




10-22-14

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jesse Matthew: Sometimes if You're a Bad Guy, They Don't Care if You are the Right Guy

That boy needs a good lawyer worse than anyone I've ever seen.

A Noble County, OK bail bondsman talking to the press immediately after the arrest of Timothy McVeigh, aka, The Oklahoma City Bomber




Indeed. Unfortunately, like McVeigh, sometimes the hole you dig is so deep not even the celebrated panel which defended O.J. Simpson can get you out of it. That appears to be the situation Jesse Matthew finds himself in at the moment.

The black 32 year old University of Virginia Hospital tech, former cab driver, and one time college football player is currently sitting in a six by nine foot isolation cell. He is accused by police of not only abducting a young, white Hannah Graham, but according to the charges, intending to defile her. In addition, he is now liked for the kidnapping and murder of  Morgan Harrington. She disappeared while walking away from the UVA campus in October 2009. Her body was found in January of 2010, five or six miles from where police believe they found Graham's skeletal remains on Saturday.

The term the authorities are currently using is the two murders are "linked by forensics."

Then yesterday young Mr. Matthew found himself indicted by a grand jury in Fairfax, Virginia for a 2005 incident. The charges are sexual assault, attempted murder, and kidnapping. The victim survived the attack when someone stumbled onto the act as it was in progress.

His troubles might not stop there. There was a brush with the law at Liberty University where a student claimed he tried to rape her, but charges were never filed. CNN reports Matthew then enrolled at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. Within a few months of his arrival on campus he was accused of yet another sexual assault, but those charges were also dropped. However, the Newport News cops are now looking with fresh eyes and suspicions at the unsolved disappearances of 21 year old Autumn Day and 31 year old Sophia Rivera. Both women went missing during his stay at the school. Their bodies have never been found.

Finally, police in Lynchburg, VA would like to talk to him because in 2009, 23 year old Cassandra Morton vanished from their city. Her remains were discovered a few weeks later near a camp owned and operated by Liberty University.

Yes, Jesse Matthew could be a prolific serial killer--a sexual sadist of the worst sort--or he might be the unluckiest guy on the North American continent. He certainly didn't help his cause by going on the lam and getting popped within ten miles of the Mexican border. Whatever the case might be he is going to learn one thing very quickly. American cops, no matter what the jurisdiction, like clearing their books of unsolved crimes a lot--in fact they like it only slightly less than catching the actual perps.

The truth is Brother Matthew is going to get stuck with every missing person case involving a woman, no matter what the age, or race that is currently open in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and quite possibly Maryland. He is, as they say in certain crude quarters, fucked beyond belief.

Such is the nature of law enforcement in America. Sometimes if you're a bad guy, they simply don't care if you are the right guy.



sic vita est


10-21-14

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Chill in the Air: Ebola is Here

Do you feel the chill in the air? It isn't from the onset of autumn. It is caused by a creeping dread which is spreading throughout the country.

Yes, it is one thing to hear about the Ebola epidemic in Africa, but it is another entirely to know the deadly little worm is here right now. Indeed, no matter what the assurances, no matter how much we yearn to buy into the myth of American health care superiority, it is hard not to have at least a glimmer of suspicion we have just stepped into a real time version of the movie, "Outbreak."

Reports from Dallas prove all the CDC protocols in the world don't mean squat if no one follows them. In a "Today Show" interview, Nurse Brianna Aguirre, who works at Texas Health Presbyterian, described a nightmare of lax procedures and down right deadly incompetence on the part of administrators and senior staff.

When Liberian national Thomas Duncan was sent back to the apartment complex he was staying at--even though he was displaying symptoms of the disease--it was just the beginning of a series of mis-steps which practically guaranteed others would be infected.

According to Aguirre, even when he returned to the hospital on the verge of dying, he was initially put into a ward with seven other patients. In her words, "I watched them violate basic principles of nursing."

She described a situation in which the people treating Duncan were left with exposed necks and dressed in uniforms that absorbed, rather than repelled things like his sweat and blood. The hospital is denying they did anything wrong, but that isn't a huge surprise.The legal department of Texas Health Presbyterian knows scores of lawyers are lining up at this very moment and every last one of  them is going to seek settlements in amounts which would make even Bill Gates shudder.

Aguirre said the facility was so poorly prepared to handle the virus that the hospital's infectious disease  department didn't have a clue. Their initial response to questions about proper protocol was, "We don't know. We're going to have to call you back."

Meanwhile, there is now a debate about exactly how long it takes for an infected person to display symptoms. The commonly accepted opinion is if you aren't sick within 21 days of exposure you're okay. However one study claims up to 12% of those who come down with the disease don't display symptoms until after 21 days. It recommends a quarantine period of at least 31 days.

Nina Pham, the first nurse infected, was transferred to an isolation unit at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Amber Vinson, the second, has been moved to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Ms. Vinson called the, CDC, the preeminent authority on all things infectious, when she began running a low grade fever. Despite all the circumstances, they failed to tell her to go to a hospital in Cleveland, where she was visiting, or not board a plane for the return trip to Dallas. At least two schools in Cleveland have been closed and are being disinfected because of her presence there. The anxiety of the people on the flight with her probably can't be measured.

The American medical hierarchy, aided and abetted by politicians with other axes to grind, have done their best to convince us the health care system in this country is the finest in the world. In every impartial gathering of statistics over the past few years that arrogant notion has been debunked. Now, tragically, we're seeing why.

Hey, if you don't believe me, just ask Brianna Aguirre. She has this to say about Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas, "I would try anything and everything to refuse to go there to be treated."

This afternoon Reuters reported a Yale graduate student was admitted to Yale New Haven Hospital last night suffering from Ebola like symptoms. He was one of two doctoral candidates who had just returned from Liberia. They were studying the spread of the virus.

Given the circumstances it is easy to think they figured out how it happens. Unfortunately, no one else here has.




10-16-14

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Carina Saunders: Three Years and the Only Truth We Have at the Moment

Three years ago yesterday Oklahoma County animal control employees were walking through an empty field behind a Homeland Grocery in Bethany, Oklahoma. They were looking to round up feral cats. What they found was a duffel bag containing the dismembered remains of Carina Saunders. She had been reported missing on September, 28th by her family, although in reality none of them had seen her for over two weeks prior to that.

By all accounts she had been living on the edge for a while. According to the media she didn't have a job, or a fixed residence and the people she had surrounded herself with were involved in the dark underbelly of the Oklahoma City metro area.

Since her body was found inside the Bethany city limits the 31 people manning the town's police department took charge of the case. It would be the first major mistake made by authorities in the investigation.

Many more were to follow.

Over the next year plus rumors were reported as facts, urban myths morphed into reality, and the media named at least 12 different people investigators insisted were connected in one way, or another to the murder.

Thanks to internet social sites and Saunders' habit of taking and posting "selfies," her face was plastered all over, not only the local daily paper and TV stations, but the web as well. It was the sort of lurid and grotesque tale that appealed to all of our basest instincts. She was young, pretty, possessed sad, haunted eyes, and had gone astray--she was the lost white girl in a world of drugs, prostitution, and perhaps human trafficking. The whole gruesome affair had the feel and allure of a torture porn movie. The city was both horrified and transfixed by it.

Five Bethany officers were assigned to the case. The lead detectives were Jack Jencks and Austin Warfield. They were in over their heads from day one.

In early January of 2012, OKC's daily paper, The Oklahoman reported two men who were already in the Oklahoma County jail on other charges were suspects. Their names were Jimmy Lee Massey and Francisco Gomez. Either The Oklahoman didn't know, or wouldn't say why the Bethany cops thought they were in on the killing.

A month later a third name, Michael "Monster" Knight, was thrown into the mix. He had an apartment on the near southwest side of Oklahoma City. The media said Bethany cops believed it was the murder scene. According to reports, police found a machete, cut up electrical cords, evidence of blood, a blackberry, and strands of hair. The local paper also said a woman only identified as, Rachel, had been told by Knight to clean the place up. At the time it was being reported Massey was telling fellow inmates he had kidnapped another, unnamed, woman and forced her to the watch the murder so she would be convinced to go along with whatever the perpetrators wanted.

Late in the same month the state medical examiner finished his report and said it would be made public in a short time. The official ruling was Carina Saunders' death was caused by "violence." Besides that exquisite moment of "duh," the first indication things were amiss was when Bethany Police Chief, Phil Cole was quoted as saying, Knight was not a suspect in the slaying even though the department apparently still believed his flat was the site of the murder.

Then things began to get really muddled. In early March the medical examiner's office did an about face and refused to release the autopsy to the public. Reportedly the state attorney general had instructed the M.E. to keep the results sealed for reasons which were at best vague. No explanation was given for the sudden intervention by the state AG in a county case.

On July 6th The Oklahoman reported Luis Ruiz had been arrested in connection with the murder. Affidavits of probable cause were filed against him and Massey. Francisco Gomez's name was no longer being mentioned.

On July 11th came the first word Bethany police thought there could be a cell phone video out there somewhere showing Saunders' murder. The media and imaginations everywhere went wild with the disclosure. It was reported police believed a stripper and unabashed hooker named Mindy Cottier had a copy of it. When she was a no show at Bethany police headquarters detectives went out and grabbed her and a man named Christopher Banschbach at a south side motel. It would be the only time either of them were publicly connected with the case. As of this date, no video of the murder has ever been found.

By the 19th of the month things appeared to have hit a roadblock. So much so, Oklahoma County District Attorney, David Prater asked for an additional 10 days to formally charge Ruiz and Massey.

The shit hit the fan a scant five days later on the 24th. Ruiz and Massey were officially charged with the murder of Carina Saunders. The Oklahoman reported Bethany police said the murder scene was actually at a house somewhere on South Harvey Avenue in Oklahoma City. They claimed, Saunders had been accompanied there by a woman named Michelle Hanshaw, who after realizing what was going to happen, bailed out of an open window. In addition, another woman named Tia Downour was said to be at the house, but left before the murder took place. According to The Oklahoman, which obviously got its info from the Bethany cops, she had also caught a glimpse of the first part of the horrifying video on Ruiz's cell phone while they were sharing a motel room at a later date. On top of all that the police claimed a third woman, named Stephanie Howard, alleged she and Ruiz had to, "baby sit" Saunders on occasion and Ruiz had told her the victim would have to be, "dealt with."

Then, other than the release of the autopsy report in August, for all practical purposes things went ominously silent.

On February 6, 2013 The Oklahoman reported Bethany police asked the  Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. At that moment there wasn't a question in any ones mind Bethany had screwed the pooch. On the 25th of February the charges against Massey and Ruiz were dropped. Ruiz walked out onto the street for the first time since the previous July, while Massey remained a resident of the facility on unrelated charges.

To date no one has been held accountable for the brutal murder of Carina Saunders. There was no mention of the anniversary of the discovery of her body yesterday in the local media. She is, as they say in the business, old news.

In February of this year Luis Ruiz filed a civil law suit against the city of Bethany and its police department. Since his release he has had at least one minor brush with the law involving a car he was driving.

Jack Jencks and Austin Warfield were dismissed from the department for reasons not overtly connected to the Saunders case. Both have since been reinstated, even though Jencks has been charged with 11 counts of stealing controlled substances from the Bethany police property room by D.A. David Prater.

Yes, it is a sordid tale and it might not ever have a conclusion..

Unfortunately real life isn't like a novel. Much of the time there are no neat, or satisfying endings--there are only lingering questions, recrimination, and the knowledge that sometimes people running the show are capable of fucking up beyond belief.

That sad eyed girl is dead forever. Whoever did those awful things to her is, presumably, still alive and walking around right now.

It is the only truth we have at the moment.

We are the lesser because of it.



10-14-14

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eric Frein Got a Shot and Took It

Got a shot around 11p.m. and took it.

From the journal of Eric Frein, discovered at an abandoned campsite by Pennsylvania State Police.




Yes, the little cretin who is accused of last month's deadly ambush at a state police barracks is still on the loose in the wilds of the Keystone State. NBC reports charges of possessing weapons of mass destruction were added to the list of those already pending after authorities discovered two pipe bombs, complete with trip wires, had been planted as booby-traps near one of his hide outs.

He took the shot on the night of September 12th and became the one and only suspect in the case after he ran his father's jeep off into some muck within a mile, or so of the crime scene. Cpl Bryon Dickson was killed in the attack and trooper Alex Douglass was severely wounded.

Frein has been described as a "self taught" survivalist. He apparently had plenty of time to figure it out. Although he was, by every measure an adult, he was still living at home with his parents. His father, a retired army officer, told the cops he taught his son how to shoot and he was an excellent marksman because of it. Apparently the old man was quite the enabler. Besides living at home his kid had the time and money to participate in military reenactments, although not civil war battles, which is the most common choice among people permanently stuck in the sixth grade. His tastes ran more toward eastern European themed conflicts. He liked to play the part of a Serbian infantryman, during which he'd tote around dad's AK-47. It is the same weapon authorities found ditched in the woods a number of days ago.

Actually, given the evidence available, Eric Frein is quite the litter bug. Beyond the AK, police have found scores of cigarette butts, at least one blanket, a number of military style packs, the journal, and tins of tuna fish and ramen noodles. All that plus a number of soiled adult diapers from which some poor lab rat had to gather samples in order to test for his DNA. In what provides at least some of us with a slightly queasy moment, NBC has reported most, but not all of them, were a match.

The media has speculated Frein was wearing the diapers because he spends much of his time hiding in place, which sort of makes sense. After all, a well trained sniper never wants to get caught with his pants down. Hey--let's face it--when you have two helicopters whirring around night and day looking for you, in addition to at least 100 state police and the FBI on the ground, it probably isn't wise to break cover in order to take either a leak, or a dump.

The squirming reptilian brain of brother Frein dwelled on this terrible drama for a long time. According to police the hard drive on his personal computer was removed before the ambush, however another computer he had access to proves he had spent at least two years researching police manhunt tactics. Number one, you don't do that unless you are systematically plotting murder most foul. Number two, if you're consumed by anger so much you spend 24 months thinking about carrying out such a terrible act, quite frankly, you're bats.. Finally, in a society where no one can keep his, or her mouth shut someone during that time frame had to know the guy was dangerously over the edge.

Indeed. Yet no one thought to report his well known livid, but unexplained, hatred of the police to someone--anyone. No one thought to get him to a mental health facility, or even a therapist. He spent years walking among the sane. He was 31 years of age, living with dear old mom and dad, while he accumulated materials to build bombs and, according to one account, a hidden and fortified bunker somewhere in the woods he is now pursued in. Yes, he had been plotting this madness for ages and as always, because he lived in the good old U.S. of A, he had access to guns, lots and lots of guns.

Eric Frein might have dressed like a Serbian soldier and he might smoke eastern European cigarettes, which has been widely reported, but he is uniquely American.

There isn't another industrialized country in the world that suffers from crazed fucks like him and so many others. The question, which needs to be asked--and answered truthfully, is--are the people of those gun restricted nations less free than we are simply because they can't go out and buy any type of firearm they want?

Despite the shrill howls of the NRA and people like Ted Nugent, not to mention Adam Lanza's late mom and Eric Frein's dad, the answer is no.




10-9-14

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Oklahoman's Fetish, Gay Marriage, the Importance of Family Life, and the Majority Isn't Always Right

Well, now we know what fires up the rubes who run OKC's daily paper, The Oklahoman. It would seem the editorial staff of that suspect publication has what could almost be called a fetish about gay people.

Usually the right wing rag is barely interested in anything, other than overcharging for ad space, sports, and the occasional local murder. Although in the last instance it has to be a spectacularly gruesome act of violence and the victim is required to be white.

It is doubtful The Oklahoman would have dedicated as much ink to an ISIS terrorist attack on Pearl Harbor as it did to yesterday's Supreme Court decision to not decide anything about the issue of gay marriage.

Besides a huge headline, four local reporters, plus the paper's Washington Bureau writer all had stories covering the Supreme's refusal to hear appeals of lower court decisions. Those rulings had previously overturned laws in Indiana, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, which outlawed gay marriage. In Oklahoma it rendered a state constitutional amendment, which had been passed in 2004 doing the same thing, invalid.

For all practical purposes the entire front page of The Oklahoman dealt with the decision, as did pages two through five. The front section of today's edition was only eight pages long and that eighth and back one was top to bottom advertising. All the journalistic hysteria left one page for the usual GOP propaganda, which passes for op-ed pieces and another for world news. You know, things like the ISIS thugs running amok and two guys in the U.S. suffering from the Ebola virus. Those abbreviated stories shared space with a series of AP snippets which ran the gamut from news about the Seattle City Council renaming Columbus Day, a paragraph about Saturn's moon, Titan, and four other day old highlights from around the world.

As can be imagined the non-decision appalled many notable people which was well documented, even as at least 14 same sex couples were getting married in the metro area. Chris Casteel quoted Governor Mary Fallin, who became engaged to her first husband at a party thrown by Playboy Magazine impresario Hugh Hefner, as saying, "The will of the people has now been overridden by unelected federal justices, accountable to no one. That is both undemocratic and a violation of state's rights."

State's rights would be the same argument the south used to justify slavery and secession. It was soundly defeated by another act of the people known as the Civil War.

Writer Carla Hinton, covering the reaction by local clergy, quoted a Southern Baptist minister who also harped on the whole state's rights--will of the people thing. The Southern Baptists broke away from their other baptist brethren when questions were raised about their noxious habit of owning human beings and considering them as nothing more than property. The Muslim guy Hinton interviewed didn't even have the subtly to stick to just gay marriage. He simply said, "Islam is against homosexuality..."

The Most Rev. Paul Coakley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Oklahoma City, told her, "Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is deeply disappointing. Our faith affirms the central importance of marriage and family life." Coakley was last seen performing an exorcism of residual evil spirits in the Oklahoma City Civic Center a day after seven or eight people performed what they called a black mass there for fun and shock value. The Episcopalian Bishop and the Dean of the state's Episcopal Cathedral mumbled things about some people being happy and others who wouldn't be so happy--leaving unsaid, no we don't want talk about this, because if we did, we'd have to make a choice that might splinter our ever shrinking denomination even more than that it has been.

In 2004, 76% of the people who voted on the issue said gay marriage in Oklahoma should be banned and same sex couples who were legally married in other states, then moved here, should not have their unions recognized.

Trust me on this, I've lived here almost my whole life. Tomorrow, if some crank were to get a measure on the ballot forbidding Muslims from holding public office in Oklahoma, it would win by about 76%. Afterward, if he was feeling really giddy about that one and proposed a ban on the construction mosques anywhere within the state, it would pass by just a few thousand votes less..

Such is the nature of the vox populi south of Kansas and north of the Red River.

For those wondering, Casteel writes that according to stats compiled by the Williams Institute of the University of California School of Law, there are more than 6,100 same sex couples living together in Oklahoma. 21% of them are raising an estimated 2,500 children.

There hasn't been, as far as I know, one case of abuse, sexual, or otherwise, committed by those gay parents reported to authorities, or by the local media. Ah yes, as the Archbishop said, "...the importance of marriage and family life."

Hey, in the final analysis winning an election doesn't mean everyone around here believes the majority is right. Think not? All you have to do is ask the opinion of those angry and pathetic fools who voted for Mitt Romney a couple of years ago to get their answer to that question.




sic vita est


10-7-14

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Porn in Pennsylvania, Keeping the President Safe, and a Perfect Storm in Dallas

Re-election just got tougher for Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett. It seems that when he was the state's Attorney General a few years back he ran a loose ship and hired some pretty raunchy guys.

NBC reports the current Keystone State AG, Kathleen Kane was conducting a review of the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky, AKA the Tickle Monster, when she discovered a little over 300 emails containing pornographic images. The emails had been swapped back and forth by at least eight members of Corbett's staff between 2005 and 2011. One of those people is State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. Another was Christopher Abruzzo, who, after his stint working for Corbett in the Attorney Generals office, became the governor's Secretary of Environmental Protection. In addition the chief counsel of the same agency, Glenn Parno was also named as a recipient of the juicy electronic correspondence.

No one has accused Corbett, a republican, of sending, receiving, or even knowing about the emails. However, he was the man in charge of that band of merry pervs who, in theory, were supposed to be enforcing the laws of the Commonwealth, as opposed to spending their time ogling naked bodies.

Kane, a democrat, released the emails to the press sans the images. The details highlight the never ending quest to appeal to minorities by these local GOP hotshots. They sent messages to each other, along with the photos, which at times, included ugly slurs directed at Arab-Americans and gays.

Abruzzo and Parno have resigned in the wake of the revelations. Noonan is still on the job and was last seen holding a news conference concerning the deadly September ambush at a state police barracks which ended with one trooper dead and another severely wounded.

Meanwhile, the Secret Service is continuing its less than sterling record of keeping the President of the United States safe. NBC is reporting when Obama showed up at a gathering of the Black Congressional Caucus the other night some unidentified guy pretending to be New Jersey representative Donald Payne waltzed right into the back stage area with him and the first lady. The eagle eyed agents on duty never did figure it out. It took a White House staffer to realize the man was an impostor.

Last month the Secret Service allowed an armed security contractor with a criminal record into an elevator carrying the president and of course before that there was the unhinged veteran who climbed the fence at the White House and took an unauthorized tour of the premises. All of this comes only a few years after the commander in chief's security detail went on a wild bender in a Colombian bar prior to his visit. That dizzying incident involved massive quantities of alcohol and at least one hooker who cried foul when she was stiffed by an agent the next morning.

Given the circumstances Obama might want to consider going all NRA--take a carry and conceal class, get his license, then start packing like everyone else in the country. Why not? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Finally in Dallas, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital claims there was no human error involved when members of the staff sent Michael Eric Duncan home from the Emergency Room on September 26th. Duncan is the Liberian national who flew into DFW on the 19th of the month and by the 24th began suffering symptoms of the Ebola virus.

According to the hospital a computer glitch caused the problem. Apparently there were two separate health history apps involved--one for nurses and one for doctors. The nurse recorded Duncan was from Liberia, but that little detail didn't make it to the attending physician's program and he didn't bother to ask.

All of which begs the question, why didn't the nurse just talk to the doc. Hey, right now, if someone from Liberia shows up in my ER complaining of anything, screw the protocols,  I'm screaming my fucking head off to everyone.

NBC is reporting the hospital claims Duncan denied he had been around anyone who was sick in his home country. He is accused of doing the same thing in Liberia before he boarded the plane and now faces criminal charges as soon as he returns. Yes, yes, but he still admitted he was from a country ravaged by Ebola. So why did this awful thing happen? Well, NBC also reports Texas Health Presbyterian has been penalized the last three years running by the feds. That would be because they have an unacceptable number of patients who must be checked back in within 30 days of their release.

Obviously there was a perfect storm of circumstances which allowed the horrifying genie out of the bottle. The patient lied, the medical apps were flawed and the hospital ER involved is suspect. Now children are being pulled out of schools and some others are in quarantine. In Dallas, various clean up companies are reluctant to sterilize the apartment Duncan was staying at, and right wing hacks on Fox News are claiming if we don't ban everyone from west Africa every person in America will die.
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After all this, it is easy to understand why the good Lord invented the martini.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is open.



10-3-14

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Scam Worthy of Al Gerhart on the Grand Scale and Joshua Wong is Doomed

Have you ever heard of a 17 year old kid named Joshua Wong? Maybe you haven't, but the good ol' boys in Beijing certainly have. Young Mr. Wong is one of the prime movers and shakers in what has been dubbed in the western media as Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution.

This isn't the first time Josh Wong has been up to no good as far as the mainland leadership is concerned. A few years ago they wanted to introduce what they called, "National Education," into the Hong Kong school system. Basically it was a propaganda ploy meant to teach children that the communist  government is a really great thing, always had been, always will be, and everyone should do whatever they tell them to. Wong founded a movement he called "Scholarism," to combat it. Thousands of students took to the streets and the Hong Kong legislature put the kibosh on the whole program, despite the support Leung Chin-ying, the guy who is in charge of the place. According to NBC, Wong was 14 at the time.

Now he is one of the faces of the demonstrations which have clogged the city's streets with tens of thousands of students, their teachers, and young business people.

When Britain handed Hong Kong over to the Chinese in 1997 the citizens were promised a policy of, "one country, two systems," and a degree of autonomy not seen anywhere on the mainland. The legislature is elected by the people and pro democratic members have been in the majority ever since. However, since the change in power, the head of the former royal colony has been chosen by a committee of 1,200, the vast majority of them central government toadies.

In theory the current system is supposed to be replaced by free elections for a head man, or woman beginning in 2017. At the moment there is a catch to the deal, worthy of not just the communists, but American tea party slimes like Al Gerhart.

Back when Gerhart was the Oklahoma campaign hot shot for Ron Paul, he told supporters that before any of them could be a Paul delegate to republican county conventions they would have to be vetted by, "the national campaign." What he actually meant was they had to be approved by, Al Gerhart. The government in Beijing has decided the elections in 2017 can be free, but they get to have prior approval of all the candidates running. In other words, people of Hong Kong you can pick from any number of guys, so long as we know they are going to do exactly what we tell them.

Given the ultimatum, everyone hit the bricks led by people like Wong. Leung, not the brightest of bulbs, ordered Hong Kong's police to break up the peaceful demonstrations with pepper spray, plus tear gas canisters and, if needed, a well placed blow to the head with a truncheon. It was his subtle way of saying go home and shut up.

The immediate result, besides a western media running amok chanting, Tiananmen Square...Tiananmen Square, was that even more people jumped into the middle of the protests. Facing the growing unrest, not to mention a social media and television blitz which the mainland felt they had to censor, Leung finally displayed enough sense to have the police back off.  The demonstrators have remained, according to all reports peaceful, but determined and the cops watchful, but tolerant.

There is no telling how long the young people will stay in the streets, because honestly, they are fighting for a lost cause and at some point they'll realize it. Look at it from the government's perspective. If you give an inch in Hong Kong, then the next thing you know you're dealing with a virus called democracy on the mainland. NBC reports Beijing had 70 of Hong Kong's wealthiest individuals fly into town for a little chat with President  Xi Jing Ping. One can only imagine that conversation.The result of it could end up being the most unholy cabal in the history of the world. One side wants to run the place without question and the other wants to make money with no questions asked.

Indeed, let's get the little fuckers off the street and everyone will be happy.

Given the circumstances, no wonder the Beijing press is calling Joshua Wong everything from an extremist to a buffoon. Unfortunately for him, if things continue, we all may be calling him an inmate, or worse. The terrible truth is, if you have the attention of a totalitarian government when you are a teenager, your life expectancy drops dramatically. It is the nature of the business.

Will the People's Liberation Army roll out the tanks? Not now. Tiananmen Square taught the mainland leadership about public relations and Hong Kong remains too much of a wedge into the international market place for them to come down with a heavy hand.

Will Joshua Wong win his fight? There isn't a chance--not to mention the odds are he will go mysteriously missing sometime soon. It is even money the hit will be paid for by the government who won't tolerate him, or the billionaires who would rather not deal with people rocking the boat.

God bless the idealists, because they are all doomed one way or another.

That is why some cynics around here are writing blogs, rather than getting involved.




sic vita est

10-1-14