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The Survivors Of Gun Bullets

June 24, 2017

Amazing read.

When a bullet pierces flesh, it ripples through the tissue in a chaotic fury. It will inevitably shred nerves, blood vessels and muscle. It might fracture bone. Deposit in an organ. Or zip out through another body part, leaving blood to ooze from the open pit.

Sometimes, the bullet carves a fatal path: About 36,000 Americanswere killed by a firearm in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of those deaths — almost two-thirds — were the result of suicide and involved mostly men 45 and older taking their own lives. Another third of deaths were linked to homicides, while the remaining sliver involved accidental shootings.

Most often, however, the bullet fails to kill: In 2015, nearly 85,000 people who were treated in emergency rooms survived. For those gunshot victims, their wounds were likely non-life-threatening — in either the legs or arms, National Institutes of Health data show. A smaller percentage of assaults or accidental shootings involved getting struck in the head or neck, with only about one-third of those victims surviving long enough to reach a hospital.

An example from the read.

Shot by accident

Benedict Jones

The bullet entered Benedict Jones’ neck, cutting into an artery and embedding fragments of bone into his spinal cord. In 1991, Jones was 11 and invited a friend over to his Bloomington, Indiana, home while his parents were away. Jones’ father kept a collection of firearms, including a loaded .38-caliber handgun. The boys became curious. Clutching the weapon, Jones’ friend was four or five feet away when he accidentally fired point-blank at Jones’ throat. Jones became one of more than 1,000 children unintentionally injured by guns each year, according to the CDC. The shooting left him paralyzed: He has no feeling from the chest down, but retains some movement in his arms. Twenty-six years later, Jones struggles with daily spasms and endures the emotional weight of what it means to be “normal.”

Philando Castile And The Second Amendment

June 24, 2017

The NRA, once again, should be ashamed. 

The decision in the Castile case differed from other, similar cases of police violence in that it highlighted a kind of divided heart of Second Amendment conservatism, at least with regard to race. David French, in National Review, called the decision a miscarriage of justice. He wrote, “Castile was following Yanez’s commands, and it’s simply false that the mere presence of a gun makes the encounter more dangerous for the police. It all depends on who possesses the gun. If he’s a concealed-carry permit-holder, then he’s in one of the most law-abiding demographics in America.” Colion Noir, an African-American gun-rights activist who serves as the face of the N.R.A.’s black-outreach campaign, also criticized the decision, writing in an online post that Yanez’s mistakes cost Castile his life, and that “covert racism is a real thing and is very dangerous.” In the days after the shooting, the N.R.A. itself had offered only a tepid response, without mentioning Castile’s name: “The reports from Minnesota are troubling and must be thoroughly investigated. In the meantime, it is important for the NRA not to comment while the investigation is ongoing. Rest assured, the NRA will have more to say once all the facts are known.” After Yanez was acquitted, it said nothing at all. Noir, in his post, also questioned whether Yanez would have had the same reaction had a white motorist identified himself as armed. The same might be asked of the N.R.A.’s non-reaction to the verdict.

Trump Faces Harsh News Over Health Care Bill–Tax Cuts For Rich Vs. Help For Average Americans

June 24, 2017

There are now five Senate Republicans who oppose the GOP health care bill. Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Ky.) have all come out against the package. It matters not at all at this point who else is against the bill because the math here is very simple. With Democrats uniformly opposed to the legislation, Senate Majority Leader McConnell can only lose two votes. While Trump has started personally lobbying GOP senators, his ability to turn votes in the chamber is uncertain and untested.

Even Johnson, who is not seen as a bright light knows enough to slam on the brakes.  The Wisconsin Republican says Senate leaders are rushing the vote before he and the public can analyze it and are not doing enough to actually bring down premiums.

While it is true that McConnell is–as I have noted before– a grand tactician the nature of the factions within the GOP caucus are such that miracles are all that remain for victory of this measure.   And I am most certain God is not about to pile on more hurt for poor people with medical needs in this nation.

Lets be honest about what was unveiled this week by Republicans in the guise of a health care bill.

It is essentially an enormous tax cut for the wealthy and drug insurers made possible by cutting healthcare for everyone else.  The first examinations of this travesty shows the bill would increase premiums for those with private insurers and threaten those who may become pregnant, struggling with mental illness or have a pre-existing condition.

Let us not forget what the Republicans did in the House version of health care.  They would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured in exchange for a $119 billion reduction in the deficit over ten years and nearly $800 billion in tax cuts that would overwhelmingly benefit the rich.

The Tax Policy Center estimates a $37,000 average annual tax cut would go to the highest 1% of earners, and the top 0.1% would get a $200,000 tax cut. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities forecasts the tax cuts for the 400 highest-income households entailed in the legislation would exceed the cost of maintaining Medicaid expansion in most states.

Politics for Republicans is about helping the top members of society.  Democrats are more concerned about average working men and women,   Once again that has been clearly shown to all who wish to see.

The stalemate on health care is a GOP issue.  They now own health care as a political issue.  And the ugly sting has only started!  As Hillary Clinton says, “Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.”

Wealthy Gain Under Health Care Bill, Growing Number Of Uninsured In Limbo

June 23, 2017

The breakdowns in the win and loss columns are being printed today across the nation regarding the Senate version of the health care bill which was released yesterday.  There is much to digest but two things are clear.

The massive tax cut for the wealthy comes as a direct result of cuts made to health care in the nation.  The second item to note is the growing pool, once again, of those who would be uninsured and place great strains on the medical institutions in the land.

The 9 percent who are uninsured:

The fate of this group is the question looming over the Senate as it prepares for a report from the Congressional Budget Office, which will assess the bill’s impact. As with the House bill, the number of uninsured will likely be projected to grow under the Senate bill. Some could join the ranks of the uninsured by choice if the individual requirement to buy insurance were to go away. But others would be priced out of the market. A pending report from the CBO, due by early next week, will help clarify who might be uninsured under the Senate bill. But there would likely be an increase among at least three groups: 1. low-income people who currently qualify for Medicaid but would be cut from the program, 2. older adults, because insurers would be allowed to charge them higher premiums under the Senate bill than they can under current law, and 3. young and healthy adults who might have less incentive to buy insurance in the absence of the individual mandate. It would likely also include a swath of middle-income adults who are already uninsured, those who receive little in the way of help to buy insurance but still face relatively high premiums.

The country as a whole:

There would be “winners” and “losers,” as there are with every health care policy. The details matter, and policy wonks will surely begin to shake out their effects on the insurance market over the next few days. But the main outcomes are clear. The wealthiest people would get a large tax cut. The poorest would be the most likely to lose their insurance. The cost of insurance would go down for some, particularly younger adults. For middle-income, older adults who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare, premiums would go up. But, as with the ACA, the bill would do little to curb overall spending on health insurance, which means someone will be stuck with the bill. The Affordable Care Act was a redistribution of wealth that took money from the highest earners and used it to pay for coverage for the poorest. The government also foots a larger share of the bill. Under the GOP Senate bill, many of those costs would revert to individuals with low incomes.

Most Interesting Story In Newspapers Comes From Saudi Arabia Concerning Mohammed bin Salman

June 22, 2017

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Stories about the usual infighting at the Wisconsin Statehouse among Republicans over transportation funding, or the closed process over health care legislation in Washington all have such nauseating feelings to them.  Because of that I was really taken in by the full-page reads in the major papers concerning Saudi Arabia.  The fact is I love Saudi history and find the political stories from the Kingdom most enjoyable to sort through. Today was truly enjoyable with the papers.

On Wednesday, King Salman, 81, named his ambitious and confrontational 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as his crown prince and successor, in a bid to supercharge an attempt by the country—and the monarchy—to secure its future. The move caps an overhaul rare in Saudi history that has deposed two crown princes and marks the ascent of the youngest ruling generation the kingdom has seen.

The new heir apparent is likely to become the youngest ruler of Saudi Arabia since King Abdulaziz.

Speaking of Abdulaziz, I wish to add that anyone reading along here might care to pick up The House of Saud: The Rise and Rule of the Most Powerful Dynasty in the Arab World, as it is a great book on the beginnings of the dynasty that still rules the desert kingdom. 

The succession overhaul that was announced by royal decree—hours after the dawn meal that precedes the daily fast in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan—was expected by some, but the timing may have been accelerated by the Qatar issue, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.

The change of power has profound implications for Saudi Arabia’s political and economic future, for global oil markets and for allies inside and outside the Middle East. It casts into retirement the erstwhile crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, King Salman’s nephew and a longtime antiterror official who had close ties with U.S. diplomats. It empowers a largely untested prince who may become even more powerful than his father, as dissenting factions have been edged out and power is now consolidated in King Salman’s line.

After Salman became king in 2015 upon the death of his older brother Abdullah, another brother, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, was appointed crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman was appointed defense minister and chairman of the country’s Council for Economic and Development Affairs, putting him at the head of military and economic matters. The king’s young son monopolized the limelight, becoming the face of the kingdom’s ambitious economic overhauls and its war to oust Iranian proxies from Yemen.

Crown prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz resigned in April 2015, making room for Mohammed bin Nayef, a nephew of King Salman’s, to become crown prince, and Mohammed bin Salman to become deputy crown prince. That structure was a major shift, as for the first time it named a successor to the throne who would be of the younger generation. It was also the first time a sitting crown prince had been replaced.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized about the matter with eagerness in their tone.

His appointment as Crown Prince will strengthen his hand by putting to rest competing claims to the throne from more conservative corners of the House of Saud with its 7,000 princes. A moderate and prosperous Saudi Arabia would bolster stability across the Arab world and is squarely in the U.S. national interest. Washington should support and encourage the young prince as he pursues change.

The Trump White House is delighted with the news.

 Trump views Prince Mohammed as a crucial ally in his effort to cement a Sunni Muslim alliance in the Persian Gulf. The prince, who also serves as the Saudi defense minister, favors a confrontational line toward Iran, which dovetails with the Trump administration’s hostile stance toward Tehran. And he is spearheading Saudi Arabia’s embargo of neighboring Qatar, which Mr. Trump has praised because he, like the Saudis, accuses the Qataris of financing extremist groups.

The young prince is also a favorite of the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Kushner began cultivating Prince Mohammed soon after Mr. Trump’s election. When the prince visited Washington in March, he dined with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, at their home. When the couple joined Mr. Trump on his visit to Saudi Arabia last month, the prince hosted Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump for a dinner at his house.

“There’s a certain compatibility there,” said Jon B. Alterman, the director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The president and his entourage think fellow billionaires who have an itch to get things done make the world go ‘round.”

My take on the matter is one where my desire for pragmatism once again comes to the front of the line.  While the prince is young and that bodes well for a much-needed generational change the fact is he is not rooted in institutional memory or possesses the degree of governing experience that the country and region calls for.  The fact is he may be able to rule for decades and such a position calls for someone with the combination of leadership skills and governing know-how.

The story of this Kingdom and the men who populate its leadership will draw attention, awe, and cause many to continually analyze their political affairs.

800 Year Old Mosque Destroyed By ISIS

June 22, 2017

This is simply galling.

Iraqi forces say IS blew up the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its famous leaning minaret as jihadists battled to stop advancing pro-government troops.

IS said American aircraft had destroyed the complex, a claim denied by the US.

Aerial photographs show the complex largely destroyed.

The mosque, which was more than 800 years old, was where in July 2014 IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi demanded allegiance in his first and only public appearance following the declaration days earlier of a “caliphate”.

Trouble In Wall Street Journal Newsroom

June 22, 2017

I never like to see this type of story which then reflects badly on the whole class of journalists.

The Wall Street Journal has fired chief foreign affairs correspondent Jay Solomon for what the paper called a “breach” and ethical lapses over his involvement with an Iranian-born arms dealer.

Washington Bureau Chief Paul Beckett made the announcement to staff during a hastily called meeting on Wednesday after meeting with senior editors in New York the day before. Beckett did not elaborate on Solomon’s situation, only to say that an upcoming Associated Press investigation would have more details. Beckett took no questions and asked any staffers who knew anything about the situation to come forward, according to multiple sources.

Shortly after the announcement, the Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon published an article that said Solomon was offered a 10 percent stake in a company called Denx LLC by “Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born aviation magnate who has ferried weapons for the CIA.” Azima, the article said, was also one of Solomon’s sources for years. Solomon’s involvement was unearthed as part of an AP investigation into Azima, in which the AP obtained a “collection of tens of thousands of emails his lawyers say was stolen by hackers,” which included conversations between Azima and Solomon.

I do want to add that Solomon’s work covering national security and foreign affairs had been submitted by the paper for Pulitzer consideration, according to former and current Journal employees. His two decades at the Journal included stints in Asia and Africa. While in Washington, he had become a well-sourced fixture on the foreign policy social scene.  I am saddened by this news.

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