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James-Anorexic Bison
Village Vet at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina, with his friend the anorexic giant bison

More below the tangled orange border fence.


What should the starving bison eat?

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Writing from the safety of Saskatchewan tonight:

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) says he plans to continue with the executions of the ten men on death row as soon as the drugs ordered from a West Bengal company arrive.

The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports that though the state spent over fifty thousand dollars on the drugs, the FDA questions whether the importation is legal.

In Cook v. FDA, a federal court ordered the FDA to prohibit the importation of lethal injection drugs that fail to meet the agency’s standards. The part of the ruling on the FDA’s role in lethal injection drugs was upheld by the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Attorney General Doug Peterson has said the 2013 ruling does not apply to Nebraska because the state was not party to a case that involved death row inmates in Arizona, California and Tennessee.

Doug Baich, assistant federal public defender in Arizona who represented inmates in the Cook case, called the attorney general’s conclusion “ridiculous.”

“If the drug is not FDA approved, it cannot be imported to the United States,” Baich said, explaining that the court ordered the agency to regulate importation of all lethal injection drugs.

The governor announced the purchase of the drugs on May 14. His office has not directly answered whether the drugs had met FDA approval. Rather, the governor’s spokesman has said that the drugs would be tested for purity by an independent laboratory after their arrival.

Our "pro-life" state governor, who claims his understanding of the Catholic catechism permits the death penalty, even though the Roman Catholic Church's catechism says exactly opposite that, is still bent on executing these men, despite the FDA or his own church.

Previously, Mr. Ricketts claimed that a repeal of the death penalty would be dangerous for Nebraska, that the state is not serious about holding murderers accountable for their actions. (I cannot see people pouring over the borders from the states that surround Nebraska to commit murders just because Nebraska repealed the death penalty. I don't think a potential murderer wakes up and says "I am going to travel to a state where I will only get life imprisonment and go kill someone." The whole argument is ludicrous.)

In the meantime, my wife and I are now in Regina, Saskatchewan, on our way to Germany and Poland. More below the orange barbed wire border fence. . . .


Now that we're out of the country, are we safer?

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In a stunning final vote in the Nebraska Unicameral, the coalition of Republicans and Democrats that oppose the death penalty voted 30-19 (with zero abstentions) to override Governor Pete Ricketts's veto of LB-268. Thirty votes were required to overturn Mr. Ricketts's veto.

The bill was introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha (I), and is the result of forty years of work to overturn the death penalty in our state.

Nebraska becomes the first conservative-run state since 1973 (North Dakota) to overturn the death penalty.

Huffington Post has an article on the final result here.

"Nebraska's vote marks the end of the death penalty in the United States," Shari Silberstein, executive director of Equal Justice USA, said in a statement. "Americans have been moving away from executions for more than ten years, but now we have a red state turning that trend into law for the first time in 40 years. Nebraska has shown the nation what happens when you put aside partisan politics and embrace simple common sense. The death penalty was already on its last legs, but it's hard to imagine that it has any staying power left after this."

Just one day earlier, the governor had urged senators to uphold his veto and had called the death penalty "important for public safety."

So my wife and I did not get out of the country to see this happen while we are on our road trip to Germany and Poland; we are in the Black Hills of South Dakota tonight.

Officially, the bill is listed as "Becomes law notwithstanding the objections of the Governor."

My own senator, Ken Schilz (R-district 47) voted to uphold the Mr. Ricketts's veto.

The ten men who are on death row (the eleventh died a few days ago in prison) will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

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Governor Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.) today vetoed LB-268, the bill introduced by state senator Ernie Chambers to repeal the death penalty.

LB-268 passed its final reading with a coalition of Democratic and Republican senators 32-15. Thirty votes are required to override the veto, so assuming the coalition holds together, the Unicameral should overturn the veto.

Huffington Post has an article about the veto and the bill here.

Mr. Ricketts noted, "As a Catholic, I'm confident that this aligns with Catholic catechism and that this aligns with public safety." Mr. Ricketts is wrong of course, the Catholic Church opposes the death penalty. What the Catholic Catechism actually says is:

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's 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 are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

I am not sure why this atheist writer knows how to find the Church's ruling on the death penalty better than our Catholic governor. Perhaps he should read the Catechism he claims to support. Or, better yet, legislate on a bill's merits and not what he interprets a church's position to be: there are many Christian denominations that categorically condemn the death penalty.

Tomorrow, my wife and I leave for Canada on the first leg of our trip to Germany and Poland. Perhaps when we return, we will return to a state that no longer performs this unnecessary practice (and doesn't source its drugs from dubious providers in West Bengal).


Mon May 25, 2015 at 04:30 PM PDT

I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane . . .

by Village Vet

On Wednesday, my wife and I will pile into our little Smart car and head north up the Deadwood Trail from our little house on the prairie for the airport in Regina, Saskatchewan. We'll be gone for a while . . . but see more below the orange border fence.


Will you miss me?

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Comhghairdeas, Éire!

Huffington Post has an article on the results:here.

"We're the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it's a very proud day to be Irish," said Leo Varadkar, a Cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of a government-led effort to amend Ireland's conservative Catholic constitution.
RTE has an update of the polling by county:

Turnout was over 60%, with over 1,100,000 votes Aye and 682,000 Nay (as of this writing).

Only a few southern counties remain to be counted. Both sides have conceded the referendum has passed.


From KETV in Omaha:

#BREAKING Nebraska lawmakers advance bill that would abolish the death penalty. Vote: 30-16. Bill faces one more vote #neleg

My very conservative and libertarian wife (who also supports the death penalty, which causes some interesting political discussions around here) called our state senator Ken Schilz this morning in support of the bill to repeal the death penalty. Her argument in favour of Senator Ernie Chamber's bill was the dubious sourcing of the drugs used makes a mockery of the justice system.

Senator Schilz was present but did not vote.

The votes have been posted to the Unicameral's Website:

LB268 would repeal the death penalty in Nebraska and replace all sentencing with life without parole. A final amendment was offered this morning to instead put the death penalty to a referendum during the 2016 primary elections as a state constitutional amendment, which was defeated.

Mr Schilz is probably best known around here for offering a bill to opt Nebraska out of Daylight Savings Time, which he argued would make life easier out here in the Panhandle. (The Nebraska Panhandle is in Mountain Time Zone. The bill was defeated.)

Mr Schilz also was vital in the fight to keep our post office. His background is in accounting, and he and my wife made a mockery of the numbers used to justify closing our post office at hearings and in letters to the US Senate.

More about the bill from my diary last night:

The ACLU is investigating the sourcing of the drugs, having filed an open records request:

Governor Ricketts said he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk. There are sufficient "aye" votes to overturn a veto.

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Governor Pete Ricketts (R-Death Penalty Supporter) stated Nebraska has obtained one of the drugs to resume the death penalty, and the other two are being shipped.

The Unicameral is to debate LB-268 tomorrow; this is a bill to repeal the death penalty and alter sentences. The bill has support from both parties and passed its first reading with a veto-proof majority (but not a filibuster-proof majority) in April.

More below the orange prison concertina wire.

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An Auburn, Nebr. woman has filed a case in Federal court in Omaha, seeking to have the court decide whether homosexuality is a sin. Really.

More below the sinful orange taffeta.


Does "frivolous lawsuit" apply here?

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They say a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. Apparently that doesn't apply to women. . . .

A Texas (where else) teenager (fourteen) showed up behind Pasadena High School for a challenge by another girl she barely knew, over a boy.

She never expected the other girl's mom to show up too.

"I saw her and heard her," Victoria said.

But she didn't realize how bad it was until she saw a classmate's cell video, believed to show 33-year old Viridiana Alvarez.

"I didn't know she had a gun until after I saw I picture of the fight afterward," she said.

Alvaraz denied there were ever bullets in the gun and said it was only there to intimidate. By the time a school officer came to break things up, witnesses said she had tucked it away in her purse.

She now faces charges of aggravated assault.

The girl's father was sickened when he saw the mobile telephone video of the woman pointing a gun at his daughter's head.

The full article is at KHOU here, with video.


A Motel 6 in Warwick, Rhode Island, started faxing its guest list daily to the Warwick police department, after the motel made seventy-nine calls to the police resulting in seventy-five arrests.

The police did not ask for the list; the Motel 6 in question faxed it on its own.

More below the orange surveillance fax paper.


How should the "free market" respond to this?

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The link above goes to the Morrill County (NE) Democratic Party Website.

Take a look, and note it hasn't been updated since 2010. (That, and it seems to have been put together by someone who knows less about Web design than I do.)

The Democratic Party has called several days in a row, hanging up each time when I answer the telephone immediately. Yesterday the person on the other end of the telephone actually spoke when I said "hello." More below the tangled orange landline.


Should the Democratic Party invest time and money in "fly-over" states?

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