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IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Shortly after I posted this diary stays of execution by two different judges came through.  Unsurprisingly, both hinged on the dodgy nature of the pentobarbital made by the compounding pharmacy. From the rulings:

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted a stay on Tuesday, finding Franklin's lawyers showed the use of pentobarbital carried "a high risk of contamination and prolonged, unnecessary pain beyond that which is required to achieve death."

"Given the irreversible nature of the death penalty and plaintiffs' medical evidence and allegations, a stay is necessary to ensure that the defendants' last act against Franklin is not permanent, irremediable cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment," Laughrey wrote.

Another federal judge granted a second stay Tuesday, based on a separate defense petition contesting Franklin's competency.

"The Court concludes that a stay of execution is required to permit a meaningful review," U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson wrote.

The state is appealing both stays to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

So stay tuned.  There's a battle brewing here and it won't be pretty.

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IMPORTANT UPDATE 2:  Franklin has been executed.  The stays were lifted in the night.  Time of death:  6:17AM.

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Less than four hours from now a man will be put to death here in the state of Missouri.  Very few seconds will pass between midnight and his execution.  Following less than a month after, another Missouri death row inmate will meet the same fate.

Even in a state like Missouri, where both houses of the republican-held legislature are a boiling test tube of cranks, wingnuttery and Tea Party insanity in the research lab of democracy, capital punishment is controversial.  But these two executions are more controversial than most.  There is more afoot here than ending the existence of two very bad men.

Let me first take the opportunity to state my opinion on capital punishment.  I'm not a big fan.  There are many reasons for this, but it really boils down to this.  First, I don't see the logic in killing someone who kills someone.  The argument that it will deter others from committing the act of murder has no basis in reality.  Ask any murderer if the thought of capital punishment hampered their actions in any way and they'll laugh in your face.  So killing them for this crime merely perpetuates the horror.  It's just wrong, a crime used to punish a crime, killing to punish killing.  I think the best way to punish someone in this situation is to make them live a long and miserable life.  Take them away from the outside world, limit their contact with other humans, don't allow them access to a forum to promote their twisted beliefs.  Keep them alive as long as humanly possible and make life as miserable and unhappy as you can without it being cruel and unusual. You will have punished them much more thoroughly than killing them.  I can't think of a more miserable punishment than being locked in jail for the rest of my natural life.  This is my opinion, based on nothing more than my own gut feelings and self education on the subject, so take it for what it's worth and then let's move on.

Having said that, you could not find two more deserving candidates for the death penalty than the fellow who will be put to death this evening and the one to follow shortly thereafter.

The fellow facing doom this evening is Joseph Paul Franklin.  He is considered a serial killer.  As a child he was severely abused, as is the case with many a man who finds himself in Franklin's position.  He came to embrace a hate-filled form of Evangelical Christianity, Nazism, and the KKK early in life, and he rolled these beliefs along with his anger and propensity for violence up into a hate-filled cigarette and smoked it on the road to hell.

Franklin is the very definition of the most horrendous form of racism.  Every vile act he committed could rightly be labelled a hate crime.  His targets were Jews, blacks and other people of color and anyone who dared consort with people of color and/or disagreed with his twisted ideology.  He fire bombed a synagogue, committed aggravated assaults on mixed race couples and robbed banks before heading out on a crime and killing spree that started in 1977 and continued for years thereafter.  He confessed to doing all of these things and more, including the shooting of Larry Flynt that left him paralyzed, the justification for which seems to have been Flynt's Hustler Magazine publication of images of interracial canoodling.  He was acquitted but later confessed to shooting Vernon Jordon, Jr., a prominent black activist, because Franklin observed him enjoying the company of a white woman.  I could spend all day listing the people he maimed and/or killed and the crimes he committed but there is no point to that as the list is extensive and you can read it all at the links provided if you'd like.  His stated reason for committing all of these crimes was to attempt to start a race war.  So yeah, he's a real peach.

The murder for which he'll be put to death in the wee hours tonight occurred in 1977 when he shot and killed Gerald Gordon and wounded two others outside a synagogue in Richmond Heights, Missouri as they were attending a bar mitzvah.  Hiding in the grass in a sniper position, this mostly blind yet extremely accurate gunman began his string of murders.  He wasn't sentenced to death for this killing until 1997, having spent the intervening years committing other crimes and as many as 20 more murders and doing a fine job of escaping from law enforcement and evading meaningful punishment in between bouts in jail for yet more murder, robbery and assault.  His legal team used a defense of diminished capacity, with testimony that he was a paranoid schizophrenic but my feeling is that this was undermined by the fact that he was a very organized killer, planning complex and detailed crimes and subsequent escapes and being quite adept at evading capture.  Alas, once caught he liked to talk about his escapades and now he's between a rock and a hard place.

Next up is Allen Nicklasson.  (Author's note:  I cannot vouch for the veracity of this link, but the details of the account of Nicklasson are correct and so I've included it for those details.)  Nicklasson was also subjected to abuse as a child and the details of his childhood are sad and disturbing.  Prone to violence from very early in his childhood, he was convicted at the age of 9 for stabbing his step-father.  When he was moved from the juvenile system into the adult system he asked that he not be released from prison because he could not function in civil society and was a danger to others.  Nevertheless, he was eventually released and it wasn't long until he committed the murder that landed him on death row.

In 1994, Nicklasson and two companions, Dennis Skillicorn and Tim DeGraffenreid, went on a crime spree in a decrepit car which kept breaking down.  A decent fellow by the name of Richard Drummond stopped to help what he assumed were three stranded motorists and was rewarded for his kindness by being marched into the woods and shot by Nicklasson.  After loading the ill-gotten booty from a robbery they'd committed earlier that evening, they headed out in Drummond's car and, after booting DeGraffenreid to fend for himself, took their crime spree to Arizona where they drove into the sand and got stuck.  A married couple, Joseph and Charlene Babcock, stopped to help them.  As before, they were rewarded with death for their trouble. Nicklasson and Skillicorn were sentenced to death for the killings and, despite Nicklasson's pleas for mercy on behalf of Skillicorn as having not participated in the murder of Drummond, Skillicorn was put to death by lethal injection in 2009.  DeGraffenreid, who was only 18 at the time of the murders, didn't participate in the killing and led police to Drummond's body, was convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.  

Nicklasson was originally scheduled to be put to death on October 23 of this year, but it was delayed due to controversy over the method of execution.  Missouri uses lethal injection as the method of delivering death to those they deem deserving of it, but there have been spanners thrown into the gears of lethal justice and some underhanded skullduggery involved both by the state and by those that provide the drugs used.  It is this controversy that ties these two seemingly unrelated murderers and their impending deaths together.  Follow me below the swirling cloud of toxic gas where we shall examine this controversy more closely.

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Wed Dec 21, 2011 at 02:04 PM PST

Good Friends - I have them.

by Got a Grip

So.  I've been ill for a while now.  Not just "I have a cold" ill, but "I might just lay down and die" ill.  But I'm the caregiver in my family, the one that holds it all together and ministers to the needs of one and all.  And as always happens when a caregiver goes down and needs some help, all of my charges have lost their minds, had their own health go into the critical zone or in some other way become incapacitated and needy.

This means that I've spent the last couple of months running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to juggle all the balls and keep the plates spinning while avoiding dropping like a pair of dirty socks at some crucial juncture.  I've spent my time driving back and forth between Chicago and Missouri, having cameras shoved in various orifices one day and driving six hours to handle some looming crisis the next. It's been tough going, so tough that there have been many sleepless nights where I've laid in bed in pain, crying like a baby.  In other words, I've not been at my best.

Since nearly all of my people live in areas where access to the internet and even cellphone reception is nonexistent, I've necessarily been away from Daily Kos and my beloved Diary Rescue.  And of course my email inbox has exploded all over my desk.  It's only been the last few days that I've had a chance to sit down and get it cleared out and sorted, and what I found there turned out to be very interesting indeed.

After clearing out the spam and such, there were emails from friends who are worried about me (and I promise to answer you all as soon as I can) and the usual stuff from the causes to which I donate what little money I can at this time of year.  But there were two other emails that caught my eye, and are the impetus for this diary.

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Yesterday there was a diary proclaiming the start-up of a new group here on Daily Kos called Yes We Can Pragmatists.  The immediate goal of the diary, and I gather the group in general, is to raise $10,000 dollars for the reelection of President Obama, using an OFA tool set up for that purpose.  The take away from this as far as I understand it is that those who are claiming themselves pragmatists are going to help the President by using small donor funds towards his reelection.

But if your goal is to support the President, and to do it in a way that is truly pragmatic, there is a much better way to do so.

Follow me over the squiggle de Kos for details.

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I try to avoid the piefighting most of the time, I really do.  But earlier today there was a diary written whose title was such that I had to just open it and see what was there.  I won't link to it here because it's flame bait, and that is not the purpose of what I want to focus on (if you just can't stand not knowing, you can look up my comments and follow the trail of breadcrumbs there.)  I want to focus on my reply to a comment and do a bit of expanding on it.

It all started with someone expressing displeasure that President Obama purportedly offered to raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67 in an attempt to sweeten the pot for Republicans to get on board with raising revenue, i.e. taxes on the richest citizens and closing loopholes for corporations.  Someone commented that this was bad policy, to which I replied it wasn't just bad policy but was a bad idea period.  This was followed by someone asking me, "Why?"

Why, indeed.

Follow me over the fancy squiggle where you'll find my reply and I attempt to flesh it out a bit.

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Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 03:20 PM PDT

Let Me Get This Straight...

by Got a Grip

For over a week now the right side of the front page of Daily Kos has been taken up with diary after diary after diary after yet another diary about Anthony Weiner's wiener.  There was much digging into the backgrounds of the people who were supposedly responsible for breaking into Weiner's twitter and yfrog accounts and attempting to smear him. A thorough, close-up examination of the wiener pictures was had from every possible angle in an effort to prove that the wiener in question could not have been Weiner's own wiener.  Meanwhile Weiner himself was issuing non-denial denials that rank right up there with what the meaning of is is on the walking-a-fine-line list of denials by politicians when they get caught with their pants down.

And now it turns out that the whole thing was true, it was indeed Weiner's wiener, and he was doing some decidedly unfortunate things with it for a man who lives in the public eye and doesn't like to talk softly (I'm not touching the ten-foot-stick thing with a ten foot pole, y'all.)

Which begs the question...why was this the most important thing on the right side of the front page of this site for an entire week?

I mean, come on.

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So this morning, for the first time in my almost 54 years on this planet, I was polled.  It was an automated poll on medical marijuana, an issue that has decent support in Illinois, an issue that has twice been voted down in the state legislature despite support from both the left and the right within the legislature and is going to be attempted again.  The automated poll asked three questions, all of which I answered in the affirmative.  But it was the second question that gave me pause.  It was phrased in such a way as to ask if you support what will likely be the language of the next push in the legislature, i.e., medical marijuana for specific illnesses, no growing your own, strict regulation and enforcement, etc.  You were only given the option of answering yes or no.  Now, I don't support that language, I think marijuana should be okay for anyone to grow and partake in however they choose.  But to vote no would be indicating that I don't support marijuana at all, so I'm forced to indicate that yes, I support the restrictive version, even though it doesn't come close to what I truly support.

And this takes me down the rabbit hole and through the back door to a marvelously entertaining reading experience: an argument on another blog about Paul Krugman.  How, you are certainly asking yourself, do we get from a poll on marijuana to an argument about Paul Krugman and back again?  Follow me down the rabbit hole and over the Fleur de Kos and you shall see.

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The devastating spring storms of last week have caused me to reflect on those times when I've been lucky in my life.  The first product from that reflection was my writing this diary, A Tornado is Coming at YOU! What Should You Do?, which I urge each and every one of you to read if you haven't done so.  It's loaded with information to help you make a plan and stay safe should you be caught in a severe storm or tornado.  

The second product is this diary, one of my earliest memories, which I share with you today.  So on this Earth Day, get yourself prepared for bad weather, then relax and read this terrifying tale of a twister.  And stay safe, everybody.

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The United States averages 1200 tornadoes a year.  Over the past week we've seen one of the most deadly outbreaks of April storms since 2008.  This severe weather spanned over 15 states in a three day period, and while the number of tornado sightings being investigated is 267, they estimate the final count will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 separate tornadoes.  That's a lot of angry, swirling wind.

In reading the comments to the outstanding diaries during this last week by our own dedicated weather watcher, weatherdude, and by watching video online captured by storm chasers and hapless fools, it became clear to me that many people have no idea what to do when severe storms or tornadoes break out, or when they should do it.  After consultation with weatherdude I've decided now would be a good time to offer some handy advice in the hope that it might save some lives.  So follow me over the curly thing for some understanding of the kind of monster you might find yourself confronted by and some tips of what to do and NOT do before, during and after a severe storm or tornado should one visit you or your neighbors.

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Please note:  This is a repost of the diary that I posted last night.  I'm hoping to get more eyes on this and hopefully more votes to help me get a scholarship to Netroots Nation 2011.  If you've already voted for me, please rec this diary so that it will stay active.  I'll be putting up more diaries in the coming days with new and exciting prose, but today I'm minding the Community Spotlight, as we have several Rangers under the weather.  So stay tuned for more, and help me by recommending this diary and/or giving me your vote by following the link within the diary.  Thank you so much.

Yes, yes, I know it's tacky to use my position as a Rescue Ranger to beg for a favor, but I'm doing it anyway.  The thing is, I need your help, and the help of the entire Daily Kos community to get to Netroots Nation.  I'm not one to ask for favors, I'm not one to BEG, but here I am, asking and begging.

I've applied for a scholarship to Netroots Nation.  If you go here and read the first part of my application, the part where I tell you how much money I have to live on each year, you'll see why.  I'm not at all asking anyone to give me money.  Heaven forfend!  Hillbillies like me have a hard time taking anything from anyone, even a decent compliment.  So all I'm asking you to do is follow that link and push the button labeled "Add your support" at the bottom of the page.  Leave a comment if you wish, I love reading the comments left by those who are supporting me in this effort.  

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Yes, yes, I know it's tacky to use my position as a Rescue Ranger to beg for a favor, but I'm doing it anyway.  The thing is, I need your help, and the help of the entire Daily Kos community to get to Netroots Nation.  I'm not one to ask for favors, I'm not one to BEG, but here I am, asking and begging.

I've applied for a scholarship to Netroots Nation.  If you go here and read the first part of my application, the part where I tell you how much money I have to live on each year, you'll see why.  I'm not at all asking anyone to give me money.  Heaven forfend!  Hillbillies like me have a hard time taking anything from anyone, even a decent compliment.  So all I'm asking you to do is follow that link and push the button labeled "Add your support" at the bottom of the page.  Leave a comment if you wish, I love reading the comments left by those who are supporting me in this effort.  

Poll

Have you ever had a diary rescued by the Rescue Rangers?

63%31 votes
0%0 votes
30%15 votes
0%0 votes
6%3 votes

| 49 votes | Vote | Results

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From The Daily Star: Bangladesh

The High Court yesterday ordered district officials in Shariatpur to explain why they failed to protect 14-year-old rape victim Hena from being whipped to death as per a fatwa on Monday.

The deputy commissioner, the superintendent of police of Shariatpur and the thana nirbahi officer of Naria upazila -- where the incident took place--will have to report to the HC in 15 days how it happened although the court (HC) had eight months ago declared fatwa illegal and a punishable offence.

[snip]

The reports said Hena was raped by her 40-year-old relative Mahbub on Sunday. Next day, a fatwa was announced at a village arbitration that she must be given 100 lashes. She fell unconscious after nearly 80 lashes.

Fatally injured Hena was rushed to Naria health complex where she succumbed to her injuries.

Supreme Court lawyer Seema Zahur yesterday placed before the HC bench a press report on the incident on behalf of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association.

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Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 11:22 AM PST

The keys

by Got a Grip

I was reading over in DK4 when I came across this this diary on having a parent with dementia.  This brought back not-so-fond memories of my own mother's slide into oblivion as we all battled her Alzheimer's, and the following tale bubbled to the surface.

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