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.


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