Thursday, December 29, 2016

Nano Technology

World's smallest diamonds made into wires three atoms wide.

Scientists have discovered a way to use diamondoids – the smallest possible bits of diamond – to assemble atoms into the thinnest possible electrical wires, just three atoms wide.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Opioid / Heroin Crisis in America

Fox News
CDC Chief Frieden: How to end America's growing opioid epidemic

EXCLUSIVE: CDC Chief Frieden: How to end America's growing opioid epidemic
www.foxnews.com

One of the most heartbreaking problems I’ve faced as CDC director is our nation’s opioid crisis.

In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans lost their lives from an overdose. More than 33,000 of these deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid.

Charleston Gazette-Mail -- Eric Eyre
Drug firms poured 780M painkillers into WV amid rise of overdoses

Between 2007 and 2012 — when McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen collectively shipped 423 million pain pills to West Virginia, according to DEA data analyzed by the Gazette-Mail — the companies earned a combined $17 billion in net income. Over the past four years, the CEOs of McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen collectively received salaries and other compensation of more than $450 million.

Highly Recommended book:
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic -- by Sam Quinones

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Where Are Veterans at Our Elite Colleges?

The New York Times - Frank Bruni
Where Are Veterans at Our Elite Colleges?

At a special presidential forum on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will appear back-to-back, take questions from military veterans and ...

Harvard is a prime example of an elite college that has had an anti-military bias. This is part of a great cultural divide in our country. What much of the rest of the country sees is not an elite college, but “elitism” and a failure of our institutions.

He began collecting data, and for several years now, on Veterans Day, he has published an accounting of how many veterans, among a population of more than two million eligible for federal higher-education benefits, wind up at America’s most elite colleges. It appears on the website Inside Higher Ed, and this is from the first paragraph of his November 2015 tally: “Yale, four; Harvard, unknown; Princeton, one; Williams, one.” Harvard didn’t grant his request for information, he said.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Equality as an Affirmation of our Common Humanity

www.thefarcenter.com - The Far Center: Equality as an Affirmation of Our Common Humanity

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Public opinion, or any subject, always has a “central idea, from which all its minor thoughts radiate. That “central idea" in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be, “the equality of men. --- Abraham Lincoln 1856

The Declaration of Independence was written in the manner of Euclidean geometry. It begins with the “self-evident truth” and moral assertion that "all men are created equal" and that put everything that followed, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in a moral context. Jefferson, Madison, Tocqueville, Lincoln and the great reformers such as the women suffragettes and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr all considered equality to be the primary moral concept of United States constitutional democracy.

After the tragedy of two World Wars the preamble to the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights also begins, “Whereas the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world...”

It is the moral concept of an inherent universal equality that makes the accommodation of diversity and a wide variety of attributes possible. Yet, in the past 40 years our government, the media, and the academics have been promoting liberty as our primary value with very rarely any mention of equality.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why Ideas and Values are important now

“The adaptations needed for living in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation or self-destruction will have to be cultural.”

We now live in a pluralistic global community that has access to or potential access to weapons of mass destruction. Ever since WW II there has been a concern that our technological advances may exceed the ability of our adaptive biological and cultural moral capacities to control that technology. In evolutionary theory, this possibility of humanity’s self destruction is called the “nuclear trap.” For more than 30 years the United States and the Soviet Union had military defense policies based on the threat of mutual assured destruction. Response times to a nuclear threat are measured in minutes. Coercive power thus reaches a level of absurdity in which it cannot be used without not only self-destruction, but the destruction of most of the foundations of life on earth. Today we are faced with more than the traditional conflicting super powers and ideologies. We also have a megalomaniac tyrant in North Korea who threatens the use of nuclear weapons, a sectarian Iranian government with an apocalyptic eschatology that both supports terrorism and is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and cults of radical Islamic terrorists who have the objective of destroying Western civilization. Probably the greatest issue of our times is the need to create a more stable world order. It is harder for the United States to be a leader in creating a more stable and less violent world order when there is a viable option of a life sentence without parole and we still choose to continue capital punishment executions.

Abolishing the death penalty would be a step forward in helping us to both understand and to convey that equality, understood as a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity, is the primary moral concept of United States constitutional democracy.

The adaptations needed for living in a pluralistic global community without coercion or alienation or self-destruction will have to be cultural. We have the historical cultural resources which transcend a narrow tribalism to include also universal values and affirm a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity. Yet in the current context of such atrocities as beheadings, burning or drowning of men in cages, the abduction of young girls into sexual slavery, ethnic cleansing, and the genocide of minority groups in the Middle East, we are failing to adequately defend and promote those values in what is very much a battle of ideas. There are several cultural trends which have contributed to this failure:

  1. Legal positivism, for example, has been the prevailing legal philosophy in our law schools for several decades. It is the position of legal positivism that there are no universal laws or for that matter any universal morality. Legal positivism contends that from a historical and global perspective, laws and morality are only relative. There are no universal values such as human rights. Legal positivism is thus disarmed in the current battle of ideas. If everything is relative, then there is no foundation for criticizing or opposing the atrocities of the 20th Century or today. Most of our leaders have been trained in law school. Legal positivism, however, is only descriptive and not prescriptive. I am a physician and from a physician’s perspective, medical ethics are based on a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity. If there is to be generational survival and well-being, then there is the need for moral constraint. In this context the natural law perspectives in political philosophy and jurisprudence, whether they be secular as in Roman Law which was based on reason, or religious as in Judeo-Christian history, can be seen as an adaptation to reality. There is huge advantage to cooperation. It is what has made humanity successful. Cooperation requires community. To live in a community requires some moral constraint.
  2. An academic culture of “blame America first”. This is a residual from the 60’s and the protests against the Vietnam War which has persisted as a matter of affirmation in our universities. As just one example, I have given papers at many international conferences and I am embarrassed to say that the most anti-American presentations are given by American professors.
  3. An emphasis on diversity rather than what we share in common. Our common values have been undermined in part by a postmodern individualism in which, in the words of Woody Allen, “the artist creates his own moral universe.” What we share in common has also, however, been obscured by an emphasis on a politics of group identity and diversity. It also could have been pointed out in the discussions about American exceptionalism that from a historical point of view America was exceptional in that the free and equal individual became the basis of our communal solidarity rather than any particular type of nationalism based on ethnicity, language, or religion.
  4. An Orwellian political parsing and spin on language. As George Orwell observed, totalitarian regimes often distort and invert the truth by corrupting the meaning of words and language. For example, totalitarian communist regimes have, at least in theory, advocated equality as the common ownership of the means of production, but have actually denied political equality as well as the moral agency of other people. In academics there has also been a trend of deconstructing language such that one can say that an explanation depends upon “What the meaning of is, is.” Our current president cannot bring himself to even use the words radical Islamic terrorism even when ISIL describes itself as a fundamentalist Islamic group that uses terror. A major conflict in international affairs, however, has been between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims, with the radical Muslims being defined as those who are willing to commit atrocities based on religion, including the killing of moderate Muslims, as a means to their ends. The American public is capable of making this distinction and not to make this distinction in realistic terms attempts to ignore the problem of a radical Islamic ideology.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The United States Should Abolish the Death Penalty as a Matter of Foreign Policy

The United States Should Abolish the Death Penalty as a Matter of Foreign Policy

The most powerful psychological tool of tyrannical governments is the use of executions. In 2015, the five countries with the most capital punishment executions worldwide were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. This is the type of company that we continue to keep. These other countries are quick to point to the use of the death penalty in the United States to justify their use of coercive power and the death penalty. This is just one of the reasons why we should consider abolishing the death penalty as a matter of foreign policy.

Another reason is that Ideas and values still play a very important part in both domestic and foreign affairs. Abolishing the death penalty would help us to better understand and convey that the primary moral concept of our government is equality, understood as a respect for personal dignity and our common humanity. This moral foundation should be a centerpiece of our foreign policy. Abolishing the death penalty would put us in a better position to understand and convey our values and to confront violence and global terrorism in a battle of ideas.

Some misperceptions about the death penalty

-- Cost
-- Deterrence
-- Closure

An arbitrary judicial system which sometimes gets it wrong
There has been one death row exoneration for every eleven executions.

Eighteen states and Washington D.C. have now abolished the death penalty. Internationally 136 out of 195 countries have abolished the death penalty either in law or in practice. A country cannot belong to the European Union if it allows the death penalty. Circumstances change and public opinion is beginning to change. The Democratic platform for the current 2016 presidential election includes a plank for abolishing the death penalty. There have also been some misperceptions about the death penalty related to the issues of cost, deterrence, closure, and the confidence placed in our legal system.

The first misperception is that it is more expensive to sentence someone to life imprisonment without parole compared to giving the death penalty. A death penalty case with all of its delays and appeals, however, is more expensive and often much more expensive.

An Urban Institute study found the cost of a death penalty trial to be $1.9 million more than a trial not involving the death penalty. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that, in Texas, "a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years."

The second apparent misperception is that the death penalty is a significant deterrent. Studies on this have differed or been ambiguous. In general, however, there is not a higher rate of murder in those states and countries that don’t have the death penalty.

When signing the bill that abolished the death penalty in the State of Illinois, Governor Quinn wrote, “I have found no credible evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on the crime of murder” Life imprisonment without parole is a reasonable and effective alternative for keeping our communities safe.

Concerning a third misperception related to closure, Governor Quinn wrote, “To those who say that we must maintain a death penalty for the sake of the victims’ families, I say that it is impossible not to feel the pain of loss that all these families share or to understand the desire for retribution that many may hold. But, as I heard from family members who lost loved ones to murder, maintaining a flawed death penalty system will not bring back their loved ones, will not help them to heal and will not bring closure to their pain. Nothing can do that. We must instead devote our resources toward the prevention of crime and the needs of victims’ families, rather than spending more money to preserve a flawed system.” Furthermore some consideration should be given to the lawyers, prosecutors, judges and juries who become involved in a death penalty conviction and those who are responsible for carrying it out. Many of those who of necessity become involved may have religious or other reservations,

The medical profession, for example, with its primary moral concept of a respect for human dignity and the admonition to “do no harm,” has opposed physician participation in executions in its ethical code. Furthermore, killing someone in a “humane” way has proven to be difficult. The electric chair was abandoned in Florida after an execution was botched and the prisoner’s head burst into six inch flames. There have been difficulties with the IV administration of drugs and with both the kind and the availability of the drugs. Those physicians who do become involved in the process in some states are often provided confidentiality. Participation in the conviction and execution of a person in a death penalty case can be a source of significant conflict for some rather than closure.

A fourth concern is a misplaced perception that our legal system always gets it right. Between 1976 and 2016 the number of Death Row exonerations nationally was 156. Governor Quinn also wrote. “...I have concluded that our system of imposing the death penalty is inherently flawed. The evidence presented to me by former prosecutors and judges with decades of experience in the criminal justice system has convinced me that it is impossible to devise a system that is consistent, that is free of discrimination on the basis of race, geography or economic circumstance, and that always gets it right.” Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011 primarily as a result of a series of revelations that 20 people since 1977 in their state had been sent to Death Row who were later exonerated. In the period from 1976 to 2016 there was one Death Row prisoner in the United States who was exonerated for about every nine Death Row prisoners who were executed. Mistakes are inevitable and an execution is irreversible.

Abolishing the death penalty would also be a step forward in addressing some of the trust issues between our minority communities and the justice system. There are thus many reasons why the death penalty in the United States should be reconsidered and abolished. What isn’t discussed much is why the death penalty in the United States should be abolished as a matter of foreign policy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture ...

A People’s Journey, A Nation’s Story Welcome to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

The Grand Opening will be September 24th

2016 Democratic Party Platform

The 2016 Democratic Platform calls for the abolition of the death penalty.

Criminal Justice

“We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment. It has no place in the United States of America. The application of the death penalty is arbitrary and unjust. The cost to taxpayers far exceeds those of life imprisonment. It does not deter crime. And, exonerations show a dangerous lack of reliability for what is an irreversible punishment.”

Diversity Instead of Unity Is Pathway to Chaos

Emphasizing Diversity Instead of Unity Is Pathway to Chaos
Real Clear Politics -- Victor David Hanson

Emphasizing diversity has been the pitfall, not the strength, of nations throughout history....For some reason, contemporary America believes that it can reject its uniquely successful melting pot to embrace a historically dangerous and discredited salad-bowl separatism….America's melting pot is history's sole exception of E pluribus unum inclusivity: a successful multiracial society bound by a common culture, language and values. But this is a historic aberration with a future that is now in doubt.

Equality as an affirmation of our common humanity

College Costs

The Inflation of College Costs

The simple chart below from the American Enterprise Institute beautifully illustrates the absurd inflation of college tuition and textbooks over the past 20 years. In real terms, the cost of college has effectively doubled over that time period.

Now what would cause such massive inflation? Could it be our government tripping over itself to provide cheap student loans for children to spend on vacations, iPads and kegs (i.e. "college"; see "What Student Loans Are Used For: Vacations, iPads, Kegs, Entertainment"). Or, per the Daily Caller, perhaps the issue is administrative bloat at our institutions of higher education: The exact reason prices have increased so much has been hotly debated, but one critical factor at most schools is administrative bloat. While student to faculty ratios have remained relatively steady over time, the number of administrators and other non-teaching staff has exploded at schools across the country.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Obama and Iran

Obama and Iran: A Misguided Messianic Mission
Real Clear Politics -- Peter Berkowitz

Desperate to strike a deal to avoid the embarrassment of betraying the president’s promise to employ military force to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, the administration acquiesced to a cascading series of Iranian demands. Instead of requiring the complete dismantlement of Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities, the administration agreed to their reduction and regulation. Instead of banning the development of ballistic missiles, whose main purpose could only be the delivery of nuclear weapons, administration permitted it. Instead of barring weapons trading, the administration allowed it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Erdogan has his own agenda which is often in conflict with that of the United States.

The New York Times -- The Associated Press, Aug 28, 2016
Syrian Rebels Advance on Kurds as Turkish Strikes Kill 35
Turkey-Backed Rebels Expel Kurdish Forces From Syrian Towns

Rebels backed by Turkey made major gains Sunday in northern Syria, expelling Kurdish-led forces from towns and villages as part of a determined campaign by Ankara to push the militants east of the Euphrates River.

The operation, labeled Euphrates Shield, is also aimed at pushing back U.S.-allied Kurdish forces. The fighting pits a NATO ally against a U.S.-backed proxy that is the most effective ground force battling IS in Syria.

The New York Times -- Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsuaug, Aug 17, 2016
Turkey to Release Tens of Thousands of Prisoners to Make Room for Coup Suspects

Since the failed coup, Turkey has once again become the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Overstaying VISA's.

Why the U.S. Still Can't Track Visitors Who Overstay Their Visas
The Atlantic -- Steven Brill
Proposed “entry-exit” systems seem simple but have succumbed to real-world complications.

Even if the airport and seaport problems could be resolved, the inability to deal with the higher percentage of people exiting the U.S. over land whose exits could not be recorded would make any alarm system targeting those not reported to have left on time subjec to false alarm rates of 50 percent or more.

So despite spending $600 million on failed pilot projects, there is still no Entry-Exit system.

In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, 527,000 overstayed their visas.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Register to Vote!

How to Register to vote in every U.S. State and Territory

“Voting: If you want to have your say at the ballot box there are a few things you need to know.
Rules vary widely from state-to-state, and some requirements, like voter ID laws, are still being hashed out...”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake -- Napoleon Bonaparte

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." -- Napoleon Bonaparte

Rather than staying with a strong hand on some of the issues, Trump is in the process of imploding all on his own. Hubris is his tragic flaw.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Internal Conflicts in Turkey and Erdogan’s Quest for Power

Atarurk Versus Erdogan: Turkey’s Long Struggle
The New Yorker - Elliot Ackerman

Erdoğan views himself as the father of a new Turkish identity, one aligned more closely with its Ottoman past.

The tension between secularism and religious fundamentalism is as essential to understanding today’s Turkish political life.

Erdogan’s revenge
The Economist

Turkey’s president is destroying the democracy that Turks risked their lives to defend.

Handled more wisely, the failure of the coup might have been the dying kick of Turkey’s militarists. Mr Erdogan could have become the magnanimous unifier of a divided nation, unmuzzling the press, restarting peace talks with Kurds and building lasting, independent institutions. Instead he is falling into paranoid intolerance: more like the Arab despots he claims to despise than the democratic statesman he might have become.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The hubris also on the side of the Progressives

WSJ - DANIEL HENNINGER - The Trumpen Proletariat

Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger says Barack Obama’s presidency of moral condescension has produced an electoral backlash, as seen in the rise of Donald Trump and the “Trumpen proletariat.”

Barack Obama’s presidency of moral condescension has produced an electoral backlash.

Political correctness added something new to the cultural divide: moral condescension.

What has really “angered” so many more millions who now feel drawn into the Trump camp isn’t just PC itself but that its proponents show such relentless moral contempt and superiority toward everyone else. People in America can take a lot, but not that. Marx would have a field day with how progressivism’s cultural elites have reordered social classes between the right-minded and everyone else.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The choice between the hubris of The Donald and a disingenuous, imperial Hillary

“What a revolting development this is.”
-- William Bendix (“Life with Father” radio show)

"Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."
-- Oliver Hardy (Laurel and Hardy)

The Historical Downside of Hubris.
Hubris, a popular nationalism, and the rise of Mussolini -- Video

Crisis of Character: A White House Secret Service Officer Discloses his Firsthand Experience with Hillary, Bill, and How They Operate.

Hillary's erratic uncontrollable ways in the White House -- Text

Monday, May 30, 2016

An Innocent Man Deserves a Hearing

Ohio.com
An Innocent Man Deserves a Hearing

As Carrie Wood, an attorney for Noling from the Ohio Innocence Project, puts it, “Someone who has been sentenced to a term of probation on the streets has more protection than someone sentenced to death.” When non-capital defendants are denied post-conviction DNA testing, they have access to appellate court review. That is not so for capital defendants. They are shut out. Which means that state law does not provide equal protection to the range of defendants seeking DNA testing.

What since has been discovered is how the confessions were coerced, an investigator for the Portage County prosecutor’s office using familiar and nefarious interrogation tactics. He started with the 16-year-old. The friends have recanted their testimony, one before the trial began.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Authoritarian Islamic turn of Erdogan in Turkey

WSJ
“There was a young man from Ankara …”

Teasing a certain sensitive authoritarian with the President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition.

“The very possibility of putting someone on trial for being rude about Erdogan is as illiberal or rather anti-liberal as these things come,” Mr. Murray wrote in the Spectator magazine. And so a few weeks ago he launched a devilish protest, the President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Competition, the ruder the poem (limericks preferred), the better. His aim, he said, was to contrast Britain with both Turkey and Germany—and to show the futility of authoritarian efforts to ban criticism.

Al-Monitor.com
What’s left of Turkish democracy?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up his no-holds-barred offensive on Turkey’s sagging democratic traditions and institutions.

The option of getting the votes needed in the current parliament "could develop from the cooperation with the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), whose leader, Devlet Bahceli, has lately been flirting with the AKP to suppress the political rebels in his own party. Or it could develop from the jailing of a few dozen deputies of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), for links with terrorism and running a mini-election for the emptied seats, which the AKP is likely to win.

"The second option, yet another early general election, is what those in Ankara consider possible also. Accordingly, early elections at the right time — perhaps this autumn — could push both the pro-Kurdish HDP and the nationalist MHP below the 10% threshold, giving the AKP more than enough seats to present its new constitution, and the 'presidential system,' overnight."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Florida weighs whether to overturn death sentences for nearly 400 inmates

WP - Mark Berman
Florida weighs whether to overturn death sentences for nearly 400 inmates

Florida has more death row inmates than nearly any other state in the country, and it remains a bastion of capital punishment as fewer executions are carried out nationwide. But after a frantic few months that saw Florida’s system of imposing death sentences struck down and rewritten, it remains an open question what will happen to the hundreds who remain on the state’s death row — and how much longer any of them will stay there.

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could lead to nearly 400 death-row prisoners receiving life sentences, a move experts say could be the country’s single biggest jettisoning of death sentences in years.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Rapid Pace of Genetic Engineering

The first full human genome was sequenced in 2007.

We are thus now in the midst of a revolution in genetic information and technology as well as a revolution in the internet and cultural information.

WP - Joel Achenbach
Pondering ‘what it means to be human’ on the frontier of gene editing

“CRISPR is not the first method for manipulating genes, but it’s by far the cheapest, easiest, most versatile. Its many attributes have generated incredible excitement as well as apprehension. While the approach hasn’t been applied yet in humans for therapeutic purposes, that’s on the horizon. So are worrisome scenarios involving genetic enhancements and purely cosmetic applications.”

Pondering ‘what it means to be human’ on the frontier of gene editing

WP - Joel Achenbach
Pondering ‘what it means to be human’ on the frontier of gene editing

“CRISPR is not the first method for manipulating genes, but it’s by far the cheapest, easiest, most versatile. Its many attributes have generated incredible excitement as well as apprehension. While the approach hasn’t been applied yet in humans for therapeutic purposes, that’s on the horizon. So are worrisome scenarios involving genetic enhancements and purely cosmetic applications.”

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Medical ethics may help lead the the abolishment of the death penalty.

From the Hippocratic Oath:

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.

AMA Declaration of Professional Responsibility:

Preamble

Never in the history of human civilization has the well-being of each individual been so inextricably linked to that of every other. Plagues and pandemics respect no national borders in a world of global commerce and travel. Wars and acts of terrorism enlist innocents as combatants and mark civilians as targets. Advances in medical science and genetics, while promising great good, may also be harnessed as agents of evil. The unprecedented scope and immediacy of these universal challenges demand concerted action and response by all. As physicians, we are bound in our response by a common heritage of caring for the sick and the suffering. Through the centuries, individual physicians have fulfilled this obligation by applying their skills and knowledge competently, selflessly, and at times heroically. Today, our profession must reaffirm its historical commitment to combat natural and man-made assaults on the health and well-being of humankind. Only by acting together across geographic and ideological divides can we overcome such powerful threats. Humanity is our patient.

Declaration

We, the members of the world community of physicians, solemnly commit ourselves to:

  1. Respect human life and the dignity of every individual.
  2. Refrain from supporting or committing crimes against humanity and condemn all such acts.
  3. Treat the sick and injured with competence and compassion and without prejudice.
  4. Apply our knowledge and skills when needed, though doing so may put us at risk.
  5. Protect the privacy and confidentiality of those for whom we care and breach that confidence only when keeping it would seriously threaten their health and safety or that of others.
  6. Work freely with colleagues to discover, develop, and promote advances in medicine and public health that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being.
  7. Educate the public polity about present and future threats to the health of humanity.
  8. Advocate for social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being.
  9. Teach and mentor those who follow us for they are the future of our caring profession.

We make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon our personal and professional honor.

CNN -- Ralph Ellis, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Dave Alsup
Pfizer moves to block its drugs from being used in lethal injections

"Pfizer makes its products solely to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve. We strongly object to the use of any of our products in the lethal injection process for capital punishment.

"States have to decide: Are they going to try to break the law in order to carry out executions, are they going to rely on questionable compounding sources or are they going to change their method of executions or abandon the death penalty altogether?" he said.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Florida weighs whether to overturn death sentences for nearly 400 inmates

WP - Mark Berman
Florida weighs whether to overturn death sentences for nearly 400 inmates

Florida has more death row inmates than nearly any other state in the country, and it remains a bastion of capital punishment as fewer executions are carried out nationwide. But after a frantic few months that saw Florida’s system of imposing death sentences struck down and rewritten, it remains an open question what will happen to the hundreds who remain on the state’s death row — and how much longer any of them will stay there.

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could lead to nearly 400 death-row prisoners receiving life sentences, a move experts say could be the country’s single biggest jettisoning of death sentences in decades.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High

U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High

“Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.”

 
 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Company We Keep

We need to abolish the death penalty as a matter of foreign policy.

USA TODAY - Kim Hjelmgaard
Dramatic rise in number of global executions

"At least 1,634 civilians were executed by governments last year using various methods, an increase of 50% compared to the year before, Amnesty said. Although 90% of those killings took place in just three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia."

"The numbers exclude China, where these data remain a state secret, although Amnesty said thousands were almost certainly killed there in 2015 by the government."

"The top five places where executions occurred last year — in order by volume — were China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States."

See also an older article on Abolishing the Death Penalty in Ohio

Never underestimate the Republican's ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

WSJ -- DANIEL HENNINGER
Obama’s Greatest Triumph
He is six months away from destroying both the Republican Party and Reagan’s legacy.

“Today, the last men standing amidst the debris of the Republican presidential competition are Donald Trump, a political independent who is using the Republican Party like an Uber car; Ted Cruz, who used the Republican Party as a footstool; and John Kasich, a remnant of the Reagan revolution, who is being told by Republicans to quit.”

USA Today
Kirsten Powers: The Republican blame game

“The dissatisfaction among a large cohort of GOP voters is directly attributable to their unhappiness with a party that they believe does not represent their interests. In exit polls, high percentages of GOP voters registered displeasure with their leadership. In Tennessee, 58% of Republican voters said they felt “betrayed” by their leaders, as did 47% in New Hampshire, 52% in South Carolina and 54% in Ohio.”

Monday, March 28, 2016

Will Donald Trump implode all on his own?

Hubris was one of the tragic flaws of the characters in the Greek plays.
It often led to individual or communal tragedy.

WP -- Attacking Cruz’s wife could hurt Trump with female voters

In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 70 percent of women had a negative opinion of Trump. Nearly three quarters of women overall, and 39 percent of Republican women, had an unfavorable view of him in a recent CNN poll.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

How the Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America

How the Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America

The number of these deaths reached a new peak in 2014:47,055 people, or the equivalent of about 125 Americans every day.

How to kill: America's death penalty dilemma

How to kill: America's death penalty dilemma

With supplies of lethal injection drugs running low and new sources increasingly difficult to come by, states are grappling with alternatives. Virginia is the latest.

Its solution: Bring back the electric chair.

Hillary’s Soft Despotism

The first precedent for judicial review.

In his Second Institutes and as a judge and eventually chief justice of the King’s Bench, Coke attempted to extend the “common right and reason” of natural law and common law to include procedural concepts of due process (Forkosch 1973). In Dr. Bonham’s Case (1610), for example, he stated that the Royal College of Physicians, which had been incorporated by Parliament, could not act as judges, ministers, and the recipients of fines. In what was to become known as Coke’s Dictum he declared an Act of Parliament void: One cannot be judge in his own case.... And it appears in our books that in many cases the common law will control Acts of Parliament, and sometimes adjudge them to be utterly void. For when an Act of Parliament is against common right and reason, or repugnant, or impossible to be performed,the com- mon law will control it and adjudge such an Act to be void.

Hillary’s Soft Despotism

She prefers the hidden authoritarianism of the vast and growing administrative state.

In the American iteration, at least, this often means the same federal agency that writes the rules also enforces and adjudicates them—a confluence of powers Madison once called the “very definition of tyranny.”

Climate Change

National Geographic
If Ice Melted Map

Planetary Visions
The Last Ice Age Map

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Obama Doctrine

The Atlantic -- Jeffrey Goldberg
The Obama Doctrine

A very long but illuminating article on Obama’s perspective on foreign policy

If you are a supporter of the president, his strategy makes eminent sense: Double down in those parts of the world where success is plausible, and limit America’s exposure to the rest. His critics believe, however, that problems like those presented by the Middle East don’t solve themselves—that, without American intervention, they metastasize.

WSJ -- Brett Stephens
Barack Obama Checks Out

A critical review of the article.

“In his place, an exact look-alike of Mr. Obama is giving interviews to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, interviews that are so gratuitously damaging to long-standing U.S. alliances, international security and Mr. Obama’s reputation as a serious steward of the American interest that the words could not possibly have sprung from the lips of the president himself.”

Friday, March 11, 2016

Losing control of internet domain names appears to be just another bad deal.

The president of ICANN should not have any conflicting interest and indeed there should be a financial disincentive for him to support any new international entity.

TheHill.com -- Mario Trujillo
Internet domain handoff takes major step forward

A major step was taken Thursday in the U.S. government's plan to hand off oversight of the Internet domain name system.

A nonprofit international group approved a plan and forwarded it to the Obama administration Thursday for review and approval.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and some others have continued to resist the transition, however. He has said Congress should have to vote before the administration signs off, but he has not succeeded in requiring that. Recently, he has accused the outgoing president of ICANN of having conflicts of interest.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Important world events other than the U.S. primary elections

International New York Times
Democracy’s Disintegration in Turkey

If there was any doubt about why the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seized the newspaper Zaman last week, consider this: Within 48 hours after the takeover, the paper began publishing pro-Erdogan propaganda.

CNN - Dana Ford
North Korea threatens nuclear strike over U.S.-South Korean exercises

North Korea warned it would make a "preemptive and offensive nuclear strike" in response to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that began Monday.

Monday, February 29, 2016

This is what the far left is willing to tolerate.

Huffington Post -- Paul Slansky President Trump Was "Just Fooling Around"

This hateful and dangerous piece of satire (Can the Muslims in the Middle East understand this out of context and in translation as satire?) was put on the Huffington Post.

President Trump said he was "just fooling around" this morning when he placed two pieces of bacon -- a forbidden food in the Muslim religion -- between the pages of the Quran at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. The action instantly provoked a crisis that threatens to plunge the world into Armageddon.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Report: Nearly 90,000 Illegal Immigrant Criminals Released Last Year

Report: Nearly 90,000 Illegal Immigrant Criminals Released Last Year

Nearly 90,000 illegal immigrants that federal officials considered to be “criminal threats” were released from custody last fiscal year instead of being deported. The actions were because of Obama administration policies, the Washington Examiner reports.

As of March 2015 more than 347,000 convicted criminal immigrants remained at large in the U.S. And as of September 2015, 918,369 illegal immigrants with final orders of deportation remained in communities across the U.S.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

This could be a problem for Senator Rubio

Breitbart.com
Exclusive: On Eve of South Carolina Vote, Nation’s ICE Officers Detail How Marco Rubio Betrayed Them

CRANE: Sen. Rubio never reached out to us. He surrounded himself with big business and amnesty groups, most of which were more interested in cheap labor and their own political agendas, and had no real concern for the welfare of immigrants, public safety, or the security of our nation. This while he ignored boots on the ground law enforcement officers who work within our broken immigration system every day and know better than any what’s needed to fix it. Common sense dictates that law enforcement be at the table when creating a bill like this. I think Sen. Rubio knew that, but actively chose to exclude us because of his own personal agenda.

Breitbart.com
Law Enforcement Sides with Chris Crane After Rubio’s Anti-ICE Tirade

Hodgson confirmed Crane’s account: “I was down there when the Gang of Eight did their press conference. I was standing right next to him,” Hodgson said. “He was definitely removed from the event. He wasn’t doing anything inappropriate or anything—he was just trying to ask a question, but they asked him to leave.”

Sheriff Hodgson similarly echoed Crane’s characterization of Rubio’s amnesty bill as “irresponsible and misleading for the American people.”

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The pope wants a death penalty ban during his year of mercy

The pope wants a death penalty ban during his year of mercy

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official compendium of Church teaching issued under John Paul, states: “If non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect peoples safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.”

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Climate of Opinion

When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism
International New York Times -- Maureen Dowd

“THE Clinton campaign is shellshocked over the wholesale rejection of Hillary by young women, younger versions of herself who do not relate to her.”

“The interesting thing about the spectacle of older women trying to shame younger ones on behalf of Hillary is that Hillary and Bill killed the integrity of institutional feminism back in the ’90s — with the help of Albright and Steinem.”

“Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members? What about a president taking advantage of a gargantuan power imbalance with a 22-year-old intern? What about imperiling his party with reckless behavior that put their feminist agenda at risk?”

Why Donald Trump's vicious attack on George W. Bush was so brutally effective — and brilliant
TheWeek.com -- James Poulos

“But Trump is not just running against Bushism. He's running against what it's a symptom of — the certain kind of insider sophistry that he says defines the political class. That's why he was onstage at all last night. That's why he's in first place now. And that's why he's more at home in the GOP than so many want to admit.”

“To understand how that could possibly be, understand what he's not arguing. The typical critique of politics today is that the ruling class has been corrupted by privilege. There's too much money in politics; there's too much of a cult of access; the tropes go on and on. Trump's not saying that. Instead, he's saying, the ruling class has been corrupted by foolishness. The problem isn't that "the politicians" have vanished behind the velvet rope. It's that they've vanished up their own rear ends. Obsessed with themselves, they have forgotten who they are. They have lost their way — and ours.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Some interesting articles on genetics, epigenetics, and nature/nurture

NOVA -- Epigenetics
A short video to explain epigenetics

The explosive science of genetics
The Globe and Mail -- MARGARET WENTE

“A good general guess is that genetics explains 50 per cent of the differences in people in terms of personality, vocational interest, depression,”

Gene editing: where medical dreams and ethical nightmares collide
The Globe and Mail -- ANDRÉ PICARD

“CRISPR, which was initially developed to understand how bacteria defend themselves against viruses, has given scientists the ability to delete, tweak or insert genes, even in humans.”

PDR.net -- McGill University News, 01/29/2016

“We found that chronic pain changes the way DNA is marked not only in the brain but also in T cells, a type of white blood cell essential for immunity”

See also Epigenetics in NOVA Science

It Is Time To Consider Abolishing the Death Penalty

U.S. exonerations hit record high as more troubled cases probed
Reuters -- By Jon Herskovitz

“There were 149 known exonerations in 2015, where the exonerated defendants served on average more than 14 years in prison, said the report from the National Registry of Exonerations”

“Among those exonerated, 58 had been convicted of homicide, including five people who had been sentenced to death, it said. About three-quarters of the homicide exonerations included official misconduct”

“Texas had 54 known exonerations in 2015, followed by 17 in New York and 13 in Illinois, the report said.”

See Also -- Reconsidering the Death Penalty in Ohio

Monday, January 25, 2016

Caveat Emptor

New York Post -- By Peter Schweizer
Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive Marc Rich continues to pay big

Fifteen years ago this month, on Jan. 20, 2001, his last day in office, Bill Clinton issued a pardon for international fugitive Marc Rich. It would become perhaps the most condemned official act of Clinton’s political career. A New York Times editorial called it “a shocking abuse of presidential power.” The usually Clinton-friendly New Republic noted it “is often mentioned as Exhibit A of Clintonian sliminess.”

“Rich’s business partners, lawyers, advisers and friends have showered millions of dollars on the Clintons in the decade and a half following the scandal.”

International NYT -- David Segal
What Donald Trump’s Plaza Deal Reveals About His White House Bid

“He has the ability to imagine what the other party wants him to be and then be that person,” said Michael D’Antonio, author of “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success.” “He presents the Trump that will work in the moment.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Martin Luther King and our Primary Moral Concept of Equality

Breitbart.com -- by JARRETT STEPMAN
MLK Day:
The Enduring Power of the Declaration and American Ideas

King explained how equality before the law that Lincoln and the United States stood for had not been accomplished, that a century after the Emancipation Proclamation it was time to fulfill the promise of liberty and equal rights for all Americans.

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” King said. “…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

By framing his argument in the natural rights tradition of the United States—and placing it within the context of the long history of American ideas—King was able to reach many who might not be initially amenable to his views. In many ways this was a rebuke to the idea that the American republic was originally founded on racist premises and prejudice.

But as King, Lincoln, and Jaffa argued, the Declaration’s statement that “all men are created equal” really did mean all men regardless of race—that racial equality before the law was a continuity with the American philosophical tradition, not a break from it.

The Far Center -- James Rutherford
Equality as an Affirmation of our Common Humanity

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Public opinion, or any subject, always has a “central idea, from which all its minor thoughts radiate. That “central idea” in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be, “the equality of men.
                                                                      — Abraham Lincoln 1856

See Also

The Death Penalty End Game

International New York Times -- Editorial Board

Now there may be an answer in the case of Shonda Walter, a 36-year-old black woman on Pennsylvania’s death row. On Friday, the Supreme Court met to discuss whether to hear a petition from Ms. Walter, who is asking the justices to rule that in all cases, including hers, the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

In the past 14 years alone, the Supreme Court has barred the execution of several categories of people: minors, the intellectually disabled, and those convicted of a crime other than murder. In that last case, decided in 2008, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court, “When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint.”

Justice Stephen Breyer, in a long dissent from a 5-to-4 ruling that allowed Oklahoma to proceed with its inhumane lethal-injection drug protocol, suggested he would be open to a case challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty itself.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Another Blow against the Death Penalty

Supreme Court deals blow to Florida's death sentencing system
Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down Florida's system of letting judges, not juries, decide whether convicted criminals deserve the death penalty.”

“In Florida, judges can impose the death penalty even if the jury has not ruled unanimously or agreed on any aggravating circumstance. If the jury has issued a recommendation, the judge doesn't have to follow it. No other state gives judges such discretion.”

Courts, States put Death Penalty on Life Support
Richard Wolf and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

"The imposition and implementation of the death penalty seems capricious, random, indeed arbitrary,'' Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said in dissenting from the court's June decision allowing the continued use of a problematic sedative for lethal injections. "From a defendant's perspective, to receive that sentence, and certainly to find it implemented, is the equivalent of being struck by lightning."

Monday, January 4, 2016

An Epidemic of National Drug Overdose Deaths

WP -- Fareed Zakaria
America’s self-destructive whites

“The main causes of death are as striking as the fact itself: suicide, alcoholism, and overdoses of prescription and illegal drugs. “People seem to be killing themselves, slowly or quickly,” Deaton told me. These circumstances are usually caused by stress, depression and despair.”

Drugabuse.gov
National Overdose Death Rates

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goodbye to 2015, a year of absurdity and overreach

WP -- George Will
Goodbye to 2015, a year of absurdity and overreach

“The American Council of Trustees and Alumni reported that 48 of the top 52 liberal arts colleges and universities do not require English majors to take a Shakespeare course.”

“A young girl was sent home with a censorious note from her school because her Wonder Woman lunchbox violated the school ban on depictions of “violent characters.” An Oregon eighth-grader, whose brother served in Iraq, was suspended for wearing a T-shirt that depicted an empty pair of boots representing soldiers killed in action. The school said the shirt was “not appropriate.” A Tennessee boy was threatened with suspension from elementary school because he came to school with a military-style haircut like that of his stepbrother, a soldier. A government arbitrator prevented the firing of a New Jersey elementary school teacher who was late to school 111 times in two years.”