A talented mountain climber from Spokane died in an avalanche in Canadian Rockies along with two climbers from Austria

May 12, 2019

JESS ROSKELLEY DURING A CLIMB IN BRITISH COLUMBIA DURING DECEMBER 2017

Photo Credit: Ben Herndon

Jess Roskelley of Spokane, the 36-year-old son of famed American alpinist John Roskelley, died along with two Austrian mountain climbers when they were caught in a large avalanche in the Canadian Rockies.  The other climbers were David Lama and Hansjorg Auer.

On April 16, 2019, the trio was attempting to climb M16, a difficult route up the 10,810-foot Howse Peak.  The bodies of the three men were found on April 21, 2019.

Howse Peak is in Alberta near the British Columbia provincial line in Banff National Park.

“This route they were trying to do was first done in 2000,” said Jess’ father.  “It’s just one of those routes where you have to have the right conditions or it turns into a nightmare.  This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare.”

Father and son climbed Mount Everest together when Jess was 20.  At that time, Jess was the youngest person to climb Mount Everest.  (Several years later a 13-year-old boy climbed Mount Everest.)  Jess’ father had attempted to climb Mount Everest three times before he was successful with his son.

Jess was considered to be a bold and innovative climber.  In October 2012 he and John Frieh climbed a new route on Mount Wake in the Alaska Range. In April 2013 Jess and climbers Ben Erdmann and Krisoffer Szilas climbed a new route on the Citadel, a peak in the Kichatna Mountains of Alaska.  In 2017 he and Clint Helander made the first ascent of the south ridge of Mount Huntington in Alaska.  Last year he established several new climbs in the Kondus Valley of northern Pakistan.  During November 2018 he and Spokane climber Scott Coldiron established a new route in the Cabinet Mountains.

In 2017 Jess was named as one of the “most adventurous” persons in the world by Men’s Journal.

Jess passed the Rainier Mountain Guides exam when he was 18-years-old and began his climbing career as a guide on Mount Rainier.  Jess is survived by his wife, Allison Roskelley.  They married in 2015.

JESS AND HIS WIFE ALLISON ROSKELLEY

David Lama, 28, was from Innsbruck, Austria.  He won the European Championship in bouldering in 2007 and the European Championship in lead climbing in 2006.  He was the first person to complete a free ascent of the Compressor Route (South-East Ridge) on Cerro Torre in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field in South America. During a solo expedition he 2018 he was the first to climb Lunag Ri in the Himalayas.

Hansjorg Auer, 35, was from Zams, Tyrol, Austria.  He is best known for his free solo climb of “Tempi Moderni” (Modern Times) on the south face of Marmolada in the Dolomites in northeastern Italy in 2006 and his solo climb of the “Via Attraverso il Pesce,” commonly known as “The Fish,” also on the south face of Marmolada. He also climbed many mountains of more than 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) in the Himalaya and the Karakoram ranges.

JESS ROSKELLEY, DAVID LAMA AND HANSJORG AUER WERE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NORTH FACE

National Geographic called the men among the most accomplished alpinists of their generation

Photo Credits: The North Face

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Has the national media lost interest in the May 2019 school shooting in Colorado?

May 11, 2019

STUDENT KENDRICK CASTILLO WAS KILLED WHILE TRYING TO SUBDUE ONE OF THE SUSPECTS IN THE SCHOOL SHOOTING

Kendrick was an honor student who was scheduled to graduate in two weeks

Photo Credit: Unknown

School shootings generally command lots of media attention.  The national media appears to have lost interest in a school shooting that took place on May 7, 2019 at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Douglas County, Colorado.

“What we have here is a school shooting that is politically inconvenient to our unbiased, objective, not-at-all left-wing media,” wrote a commentator.

Source: John Nolte, Media Quickly Lost Interest in Politically Inconvenient School Shooting (Breitbart — May 10, 2019).

One student was killed and eight others were wounded.  The dead student, Kendrick Castillo, an 18-year-old honor student,  is being hailed as a hero.  He was killed while trying to stop one of the shooters.

Nui Giasolli, one of Kendrick’s classmates told CNN that a youth entered her classroom while they were watching a movie and pulled out a gun.  “Kendrick lunged at him and tried to subdue him.  As soon as he said, ‘Don’t you move,’ Kendrick lunged, giving us all enough time to hide under our desks, and the shooter ended up shooting Kendrick,” Giasolli said.

“He did what he had to do, and I knew that was my son’s nature.  That was who he was,” Kendrick’s father John Castillo said.

Brendan Bialy, a student who was not injured, was said to have tackled one of the shooters.  Brendan told his father that two students entered the classroom and one pulled a gun out of a guitar case.

The two suspected shooters are Devon Erickson, 18, and Maya McKinney, 16, who uses the name Alec McKinney on social media.

There may be some reasons why the media is giving little attention to this shooting: how the weapons were obtained and the background of the suspects.

The weapons used in the shooting were stolen from a locked gun cabinet.  Denver 7 reported that three handguns were stolen from Erickson’s parents and that the guns were legally purchased.  Both suspects are not legally of age to purchase handguns in Colorado.

McKinney is a biological girl who says she is transitioning into a boy and is a trans activist.  Erickson is a registered Democrat who was said to hate President Trump, love former President Barack Obama and has used social media to express his hatred for Christians.  Erickson’s car had “666” and “F*** SOCIETY” spray painted on it.  (Without the star symbols.)  The car also had what looks like a pentagram sprayed on the hood.  Erickson had a Snapchat account under the name “devonkillz.”

SHOOTING SUSPECT DEVON ERICKSON MAKING HIS FIRST COURT APPEARANCE AT THE DOUGLAS COUNTY COURTHOUSE IN CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO

Erickson is facing more than two dozen charges.  The handguns used in the shootings were stolen from Erickson’s parents

Photo Credit: Joe Amon / The Denver Post

SHOOTING SUSPECT MAYA ELIZABETH MCKINNEY — AKA ALEC MCKINNEY

McKinney, a biological female, is transitioning to become a male

Photo Credit: Social Media

The Stanley Cup Playoffs will soon be down to the last four teams

May 6, 2019

THE LEADING SCORER FOR THE BOSTON BRUINS DURING THE PLAYOFFS IS  BRAD MARCHAND WITH 5 GOALS AND 8 ASSISTS

Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper / USA Today Sports

There are seven teams still remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  But it will soon be down to four teams.

Western Conference — The Dallas Stars (Central Division) and the St. Louis Blues (Central Division) are currently tied at 3 games each. The San Jose Sharks (Pacific Division) lead the Colorado Avalanche (Central Division) 3 games to 2.

Eastern Conference — The Boston Bruins (Atlantic Division) lead the Columbus Blue Jackets (Metropolitan Division) by 3 games to 2.  The Carolina Hurricanes (Metropolitan Division) are already in the semi-finals by virtue of sweeping the New York Islanders (Metropolitan Division) 4 games to zero.

I predict that Bruins and the Sharks will advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

During the regular season, the top 10 teams in wins were the Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16), the Calgary Flames (50-25), the Boston Bruins (49-24), the Washington Capitals (48-26), the New York Islanders (48-27), the San Jose Sharks (46-27), the Nashville Predators (47-29), the Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28), the Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26) and the Winnipeg Jets (47-30).  Only the Bruins and the Sharks remain in contention for the Stanley Cup Trophy.

LOGAN COUTURE IS THE LEADING PLAYOFF SCORER FOR THE SAN JOSE SHARKS WITH 9 GOALS AND 4 ASSISTS

Photo Credit: Getty Images

UPDATE ON THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS — The St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks will play for the Western Conference Championship and the right to play in the Stanley Cup Finals.  St. Louis won its series 4-3 over the Dallas Stars and San Jose won its series 4-3 over the Colorado Avalanche.  In the Eastern Conference the Boston Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes seek to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Boston already won the first game of the series with Carolina when the Bruins beat the Hurricanes 5-2 at Carolina’s home ice.  In the seven-game series between the Blues and the Stars, the games ended 3-2 St. Louis, 4-2 Dallas, 4-3 St. Louis, 4-2 Dallas, 2-1 Dallas, 4-1 St. Louis and 2-1 St. Louis in 2 overtimes.  The Sharks – Avalanche seven-game series had games ending 5-2 San Jose, 4-3 Colorado, 4-2 San Jose, 3-0 Colorado, 2-1 San Jose, 4-3 Colorado in 3 overtimes and 3-2 San Jose.  In the Game Seven tilt between St. Louis and Dallas that ended during the second overtime period,the winning goal was by Pat Maroon on the Blues’ 54th shot of the night.  It was the second game-winning goal by Maroon during the series.  The overtime win by St. Louis marked the first time in NHL history that three playoff series were decided in overtime in Game 7 in the same year.  San Jose had a Game 7 victory over the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Carolina had a Game 7 victory over the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.

ST. LOUIS BLUES LEFT WING PAT MAROON CELEBRATES HIS WINNING SHOT OVER GOALTENDER BEN BISHOP OF THE DALLAS STARS DURING THE SECOND OVERTIME PERIOD OF GAME SEVEN

Pat Maroon, a St. Louis native, is a hometown hero.  His 10-year-old son, Anthony, was photographed sobbing at the game after his father’s winning shot

Photo Credit: Tom Fox / The Dallas Morning News

VIDEO OF PAT MAROON’S SERIES-WINNING GOAL IN THE SECOND OVERTIME (1:06)

Video credit: Sportsnet

How things evolved from “The Greenhouse Effect” to “A New Ice Age” to “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”

May 5, 2019

AL GORE NARRATED A MOVIE BASED ON HIS BOOK TITLED “AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: A GLOBAL WARNING.”  THE MOVIE WAS BILLED AS “BY FAR THE MOST TERRIFYING FILM YOU WILL EVER SEE.” THE PHOTO OF THE POLAR BEARS WAS INTENDED TO PROVE THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS CAUSING THE DEMISE OF POLAR BEARS

There are some historical milestones of how the fear of leaving a “Carbon Footprint” from carbon dioxide (CO2) has gone from “The Greenhouse Effect” to “A New Ice Age” to “Global Warming” to “Climate Change.”

April 22, 1970 — The first “Earth Day” was started.  (Was it simply a coincidence that April 22 was the birthday of Vladimir Lenin exactly 100 years before on April 22, 1870?) Walter Cronkite of CBS News hosted a nationally televised Earth Day special.  The theme of “Saving the Planet” was introduced.

WALTER KRONKITE (1916 – 2009) OF CBS NEWS: HE HOSTED AN EARTH DAY SPECIAL ON THE FIRST “EARTH DAY” ON APRIL 22, 1970

1975-1978 — In the 30 years leading to the mid-1970s the available temperature recordings suggested that there was a cooling trend.  As a result some scientists suggested that the current inter-glacial period could rapidly draw to a close, which might result in the Earth plunging into “A New Ice Age” over the next few centuries  This idea was reinforced by the fear that aerosols emitted into the atmosphere also caused cooling. During this same time some scientists theorized that “greenhouse gases” being put into the atmosphere would cause greater warming.

1980 — Most predictions ceased about “A New Ice Age.”

1980-1982 — Concerns about A New Ice Age were replaced with theories that a “Greenhouse Effect” would wreak havoc on the planet by 2000.

1987 — The Montreal Protocol addressed “The Hole in the Ozone Layer.”  There was a theory that there was a “hole in the ozone” layer caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in spray cans and refrigerants.  The “hole” was theorized to be letting in dangerous radiation harmful to life.  The Montreal Protocol agreed to restrict CFCs.

1990 – 1996 — Ted Turner started a new children’s television show called “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” which was broadcast from 1990-1992.  A sequel series called “The New Adventures of Captain Planet” was broadcast from 1993-1996.  These cartoons featured Captain Planet and his young Planeteers battling evil businesses such as the oil industry.  An oil company executive was called “Hoggish Greedly.”

1992 — The Rio “Earth Summit” took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The fact that delegations from 172 countries attended the conference served to convince millions of more people that there must be some truth in the “Greenhouse Effect,” which was soon referred to as “Global Warming.”

1992 — Senator Al Gore, who was soon to become Vice President of the United States, published “Earth in the Balance,” in which he called for a “Global Marshall Plan” to “Save the Planet.”

1997 — The Kyoto Protocol was intended to commit nations to reduce CO2 emissions based upon an alleged “scientific consensus” that Global Warming was occurring and it was likely that human-made CO2 was causing it.  Mr. Gore delivered the opening speech of the conference in Kyoto, Japan.

2001 — President George Bush essentially withdrew the United States from the Kyoto Protocol.

2006 — Mr. Gore, who was almost elected President of the United States in 2000, published a new book titled “An Inconvenient Truth.”  Mr. Gore’s book dealt solely with the “crisis” of “Global Warming,” which he called “A True Planetary Crisis.” The error-filled book served as the basis for a movie by Davis Guggenheim that was narrated by Mr. Gore. In the movie, Mr. Gore stated that unless the world “took drastic measures” then the world would reach “a point of no return within 10 years.” The movie premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and won two Academy Awards.  Mr. Gore was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his alleged contributions to climate science.  In the book and movie at least eight things were stated as fact:

*     Sea levels are rising at an alarming rate. He predicted a rise of six meters (20 feet) with the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.  Mr. Gore’s predicted rising sea levels have not occurred.

*     CO2 is the control knob for temperature.  Mr. Gore believes that carbon dioxide — what humans exhale — controls temperatures.  Satellite data show little or no increase in temperature for nearly two decades despite a constant increase in CO2.

*    Hurricane Katrina was man-made.  Two years before Mr. Gore’s movie, New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.  Mr. Gore said that devastating hurricanes would become the “new normal.”  However, F3+ hurricanes have occurred throughout United States history.  For example, there was the Miami Hurricane (1926), the Southeast Florida / Okeechobee Hurricane (1928), the Labor Day Hurricane (1935), the 1938 Hurricane and Hurricane Camille (1969).  Most recently there was Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Andrew (1992), Superstorm Sandy (2012) and Hurricane Charley (2004).

THE GALVESTON HURRICANE, KNOWN AS THE GREAT STORM OF 1900, WAS THE DEADLIST NATURAL DISASTER IN UNITED STATES HISTORY. IT KILLED AN ESTIMATED 8,000 TO 12,000 PEOPLE.

Photo Credit: AP

*     Severe tornados are increasing.  However, F3+ tornadoes have been declining for more than 60 years.

*     Polar bears are dying.  Mr. Gore said that because the polar ice is getting thinner due to Global Warming that polar bears would die off.  He featured a photo of sick polar bears clinging to melted ice to prove his point.  There are more polar bears now than when Mr. Gore was born.  The government of Nunavut, along with Inuit hunters, have noticed that the polar bear population is doing quite well.

*    The Arctic is melting.  Mr. Gore predicted the complete melting of Polar ice by 2014. However, the ice at the North Pole is increasing.  The year 2015 saw the largest refreezing of the Arctic in more than a decade.

*     The Sahel is drying up.  Mr. Gore said that the region south of the Sahara desert is getting drier and drier due to Global Warming.  Satellite images show that the Sahel is a region that gained the most flora density since satellites existed.  The reviled CO2 acts as a fertilizer.

*    CO2 is a pollution.  Mr. Gore refers to CO2 as “pollution.”  Therefore, the world must fight to control CO2 to protect the children and Save the Planet.  But more CO2 is actually desirable.  Agriculture profits greater from increased carbon “pollution.”

2009 — The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference (aka Copenhagen Climate Conference) took place at Copenhagen, Denmark. A legally non-binding paper was produced recognizing Global Warming / Climate Change as a crisis and stating that actions should be taken to keep temperature increases to a minimum. The report did not contain any commitments to reducing CO2 emissions.

2009 — Prince Charles warned that mankind has eight years or less to save the planet from a climate-created disaster.

2009 — The “Climategate” scandal was exposed.  In November 2009 a server was hacked at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.  The emails that were recovered made it clear that some of the top “warmist” or “alarmist” scientists in the world were openly conspiring to manipulate climate data, to bar critics from accessing their records and to influence scientific publications to censor “climate deniers.”  The emails showed private admissions of doubt or scientific weakness in the Global Warming theory. In acknowledging that global temperatures had actually declined for the past decade, one scientist asked: “Where the heck is the global warming?”  A prominent Global Warming alarmist admitted to using a statistical “trick” to “hide the decline” in temperature. The trick consisted of selectively mixing two different kinds of data-temperature “proxies” from tree rings and actual thermometer measurements in a way designed to produce a graph of global temperatures that ended  with what is known as the upward “hockey stick” slope.

2015 — The Paris Climate Agreement (aka Paris Climate Accord) was reached within the United Nations pre-existing framework.  The agreement requires that each country regularly report on its own contribution to mitigate “Global Warming.” President Barack Obama used an “Executive Order” to ostensibly commit the United States to the Paris Agreement. President Obama used an executive order because the United States Constitution requires a 2/3 majority in the Senate to ratify a treaty.

2015 — Pope Francis issued an edict directing Catholics to believe that “Climate Change” is real.  The Pope condemned Climate Change as “sin” and urged the world to “take action.”

2016 — Actor Leonardo DiCaprio released a Nation Geographic documentary about Climate Change.  The documentary was massively hyped by the Piranha Press in a book titled “Before the Flood.”  DiCaprio and Pope Francis became the two most prominent public faces pushing for action including global “Carbon Taxes” and international control over businesses.

2017 — President Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the “Paris Climate Agreement,” which would have required the United States to pay Carbon Taxes.

IN 2015 POPE FRANCIS CALLED FOR “BOLD CULTURAL REVOLUTION” NEEDED TO SAVE THE PLANET FROM CLIMATE CHANGE

Photo Credit: Unknown

The winning horse was disqualified in the Kentucky Derby for interference

May 5, 2019

Country House, left, with Flavian Prat up, and Maximum Security, (center/right) head down the stretch to the finish in the 145th Kentucky Derby.  Maximum Security finished first but, after a protest was filed, Country House was declared the winner. May 4, 2019

COUNTRY HOUSE WITH JOCKEY FLAVIEN PRAT (FAR LEFT) AND MAXIMUM SECURITY WITH JOCKEY LUIS SAEZ (SECOND FROM RIGHT) HEAD DOWN THE STRETCH OF THE MUDDY HORSE RACING TRACK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS

Photo Credit: Michael Clevenger and Brian Butler / Louisville Courier-Journal

The only undefeated horse in the 2019 Kentucky Derby — Maximum Security — was the first horse to finish.  But Maximum Security was disqualified by the race stewards for interference with other horses.  The steward’s decision caused 65-1 Country House to become the winner of the 145th “Run for the Roses.”

“They’ll be talking about the result of this race from now until they run the next Kentucky Derby and the next 10 Kentucky Derbys and the next 20 Kentucky Derbys,” said Bill Mott, the trainer of Country House. Mr. Mott added:

As far as the win goes, it’s bittersweet.  I would by lying if I said it was any different. You always want to win with a clean trip and have everybody recognize the horse for the great athlete that he is. I think, due to the disqualification, probably some of that is diminished.  But this is horse racing.

Source: Evan Hammonds, Country House Awarded Kentucky Derby Via DQ (Blood Horse — May 4, 2019).

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission chief steward Barbara Borden said the riders of Long Range Toddy and Country House lodged objections against Maximum Security for interference.

“We had a lengthy review of the race,” Ms. Border said. “We interviewed affected riders. We determined that [Maximum Security] drifted out and impacted the progress of War of Will, in turn interfering with the 18 [Long Range Toddy] and 21 [Bodexpress].  Those horses were all affected, we thought, by the interference, and therefore we unanimously determined to disqualify No. 7 [Maximum Security] . . . .”

Maximum Security was ridden by jockey Luis Saez and Flavien Prat was Country House’s jockey.

Horse racing writer Jay Privman described what took place to result in the disqualification:

Maximum Security was on the lead [nearing the end of the far turn at about the 5/16th pole], and War of Will, who had been following him, started to come between he and Long Range Toddy, who had been just to the outside of Maximum Security. Country House was rallying outside all of them, in the four or five path.  Maximum Security ducked out, going to about the four path, and for two strides War of Will’s front legs were precariously between Maximum Security’s hind legs.  War of Will checked, as did Long Range Toddy, who had been under a ride at that point to keep up.  Country House was outside the commotion, and Code of Honor — who had been behind War of Will entering the far turn — seized the opportunity to slip u the rail and actually poked his head in front for a stride a quarter-mile out. After straightening away in the lane, Maximum Security held his line, with Code of Honor to his inside, War of Wills to his immediate outside, and then Country House farther out. War of Will was the first to yield, but hung in there until the final sixteenth before fading to eighth. Code of Honor finished steadily, but never could get past Maximum Security. Country House was the biggest danger to Maximum Security trough the final furlough, but he could not get past him either. Maximum Security crossed the wire 1-3/4 lengths in front of Country House, who was three-quarters of a length in front of Code of Honor.

Source: Jay Privman, Country House wins Kentucky Derby via DQ of Maximum Security (Daily Racing Form — May 4, 2019).

Horses leave the starting gate for the 145th Kentucky Derby.
May 4, 2019

THE HORSES LEAVE THE STARTING GATE FOR THE 145th KENTUCKY DERBY

Photo Credit: Michael Clevenger and Laura Stanton / Louisville Courier-Journal

Many did not support the stewards’ decision.

President Donald J. Trump tweeted: “The Kentucky Derby decision was not a good one. It was a rough  tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur.  The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby — not even close!”

Maximum Security Co-Owner Gary West said: “I think this is the most egregious disqualification in the history of horse racing, and not just because it’s our horse.”

Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports wrote: “Unless the foul was egregious enough to clearly change the result, the horse that finished first under the wire should stand. That standard wasn’t met on Saturday.  Not by a wide margin.”

Source: Dan Wolken, Maximum Security was robbed at Kentucky Derby, yet another black eye in horse racing (USA Today Sports — May 4, 2019).

Others concluded that the decision to disqualify Maximum Security was the correct decision. For example, Mike Watchmaker of Daily Racing Form wrote: “Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez committed a legitimate foul — on War of Will, at the very least — and they had to pay the piper for it. And what also matters is, what would universally be considered a foul in every other horse race in the United States is now also considered a foul in the Kentucky Derby.”

Source: Mike Watchmaker, Legitimate foul demanded Kentucky Derby DQ (Daily Racing Form — May 4, 2019).

Maximum Security, with Luis Saez aboard (pink/center) crosses the finish line of the 145th Kentucky Derby.   However, a protest was lodged and Country House was declared the winner. May 4, 2019

JOCKEY LUIS SAEZ ON MAXIMUM SECURITY AFTER THINKING THAT HIS HORSE HAD JUST WON THE KENTUCKY DERBY.  ABOUT 22 MINUTES LATER THE RACE STEWARDS DISQUALIFIED THE APPARENT WINNER.

Photo Credit: Michael Clevenger and Michael Goodwin / Louisville Courier-Journal

Is there anything wrong with Census workers asking if residents are citizens?

April 25, 2019

UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL NOEL FRANCISCO ARGUED ON BEHALF OF THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT THAT THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION IS PROPER

Photo Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM

The United States Department of Commerce planned to ask residents whether they were citizens during the 2020 Census.  The plan was challenged on the ground that the decision to add a citizenship question was “arbitrary and capricious.”

On April 24, 2019, the United States Supreme Court entertained argument on the issue.  The decision by the Supreme Court will impact how Congressional seats are apportioned, how many electoral votes each state receives in a Presidential election and how taxpayer dollars are distributed on a per capita basis.

Lawyers for 18 states and several of the nation’s largest cities together with immigrant groups filed amicus briefs telling the Court that the citizenship question would make immigrants reluctant to respond to Census takers.  Amicus briefs filed by 17 states told the Justices that the citizenship question was needed to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The case was styled Department of Commerce v. New York, Case No. 18-966. The Secretary of the Department of Commerce is Wilbur Ross.  Democrats claimed that adding the citizenship question was a politically motivated attempt to undercount persons living in heavily Democratic districts.  The Census Bureau projected that asking about citizenship would lower the Census count by about 6.5 million persons — mostly among immigrants.

“This boils down to whether the Secretary’s judgment here is a reasonable one,” said Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who argued the case on behalf of the United States Department of Commerce.  During argument, General Francisco also told the Justices: “There’s no evidence in this record that the Secretary would have asked this question had the Department of Justice not requested it.”

Three lower federal courts found that Secretary Ross acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner and circumvented the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires federal agencies to study all relevant evidence before implementing a new policy.  One federal district judge in Maryland ruled earlier this month that Secretary Ross violated the United States Constitution “by unreasonably compromising the distributive accuracy of the Census.”  The lower court held that the Constitution requires the United States to survey “all persons” living in the United States every decade regardless of citizenship or status.

If five of the Supreme Court Justices rule that the Secretary Ross’ decision was proper then the citizenship question will be allowed in 2020.  Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted that many countries ask a citizenship question during a census and such is recommended by the United Nations.  Justice Kavanaugh also noted that until 1950 a citizenship question was a regular feature of the United States Census.

Justice John Roberts asked a question of New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who argued that the citizenship question was improper. “But we’ve had demographic questions on the Census — sex, age, do you own a house or own a radio?” Justice Roberts asked.

Ms. Underwood responded: “But there is no comparable evidence that those questions depress the count in such a way.”

The Court also allowed the Democratic-led House of Representative time to argue against adding the citizenship question.

California Attorney General Xavier Beccera, who also argued against the citizenship question, told the Justices:

“An undercount would threaten at least one of California’s seats in the House of Representatives — and, by extension — an elector in the Electoral College.  It would deprive California and its cities and counties of their fair share of billions of dollars in federal funds.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said: “There is no doubt that people will respond less [with the citizenship question].  That’s been proven in study after study.”

“There needs to be a reason to add the question, and I don’t see any reason,” said Justice Elena Kagan.  “It did seem the Secretary was shopping for a need.”

Justice Ruth Ginsburg asked General Francisco why the citizenship question was dropped after the 1950 Census.  “There was nothing in 1960 to the effect that the Census Bureau found that putting it on the short form would depress the count of non-citizens?  Nothing like that?” Justice Ginsburg said.

Justice Samuel Alito said that even if the citizenship question depressed Census participation it could give the Census Bureau answers from 22 million people for whom it lacks any citizenship information.

The Census Bureau previously sent out a separate questionnaire that included a question about citizenship.  However, the question was not included in the 2010 Census.

After the argument President Trump tweeted: “The American people deserve to know who is in this Country. Yesterday, the Supreme Court took up the Census Citizenship question, a really big deal.  MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

In early April 2019 President Trump tweeted: “Can you believe that the Radical Left Democrats want to do our new and very important Census Report without the all important Citizenship Question?  Report would be meaningless and a waste of $Billions (ridiculous) that it costs to put together.”

The Supreme Court is expected to render a decision in late June 2019.  NBC News predicted that the Justices would hold in favor of the Secretary.

“The Supreme Court seemed willing Tuesday to let the Trump administration add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census . . . despite claims from populous states that it would actually make the count less accurate.”

Source: Pete Williams, Supreme Court appears likely to allow citizenship question in 2020 census (NBC News — April 23, 2019).

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL BARBARA UNDERWOOD, NEW YORK’S FIRST FEMALE ATTORNEY GENERAL, ARGUED AGAINST THE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION

Photo Credit: Hans Pennink / AP 

 

 

The termination of Temporary Protected Status was blocked by a federal judge

April 12, 2019

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT JUDGE WILLIAM F. KUNTZ OF BROOKLYN BANNED THE UNITED STATES FROM TERMINATING TEMPORARY PROTECTION STATUS FOR HAITIANS

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security is authorized to designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from return safely or, in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.  TPS may be granted to eligible nationals of certain countries who are already in the United States.  Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in he designated country may also be granted TPS.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following conditions in the country: (a) ongoing armed conflict such as a civil war, (b) an environmental disaster such as earthquake or hurricane or an epidemic and (c) other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases are not removable from the United States, can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) and may be granted travel authorization.  Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained on the basis of his or her immigration status.

The countries currently designated for TPS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

A non-jury lawsuit took place during January 2019 before a federal judge in Brooklyn in a case titled Saget v. Trump.  On April 11, 2019, the judge ruled that the United States was barred terminating TPS for Haitian nationals who live and work in the United States.

“A TPS determination should not be a political decision made to carry out political motives,” wrote United States District Court Judge William F. Kuntz.  Judge Kuntz’s 145 page opinion ruled that the evidence “reflected a pre-ordained outcome accomplished by sweeping negative evidence under the rug and disregarding contrary or inconvenient factual determinations made by prior decisionmakers.”

Judge Kuntz also ruled that the evidence showed that the White House “exerted significant influence” over a November 2017 decision by then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to terminate TPS for Haiti.

FORMER ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY ELAINE DUKE

Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

During the trial before Judge Kuntz, Assistant United States Attorney Joseph A. Marutollo disputed that there was any animus by President Donald J. Trump involving a decision to terminate TPS for Haitians.   Martutollo, the Chief of Immigration Litigation for the United States Attorneys’ Office in Brooklyn, argued that the Homeland Security Secretary made her decision after conducting a “thorough and vigorous review.”  He argued that conditions in Haiti had improved enough for Haitians to return to their own country.

“TPS is not asylum.  It is not akin to having a green card.  It is a temporary humanitarian response,” Mr. Marutollo told the court.

In October 2018, in a different lawsuit before United States District Court Judge Edward M. Chen in San Francisco, Judge Chen placed a temporary injunction against the United States from terminating TPS for about 300,000 citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.  Judge Chen ruled that the TPS recipients would suffer irreparable harm and hardship if TPS was terminated.

During the San Francisco bench trial that took place in January 2019 Assistant United States Attorney Marutollo, argued that Haiti suffered from endemic problems like poverty before an earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.   Mr. Marutollo noted that Haiti has not been redesignated for TPS since 2011 and that the extensions granted in lieu of that mean that no new Haitian nationals can acquire TPS.  He also argued that the TPS statute bars judicial review of any decision made by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

There are about 59,000 Haitians in the United States who are presently on TPS. More than 27,000 children were born to Haitians since being granted TPS.

The pending lawsuit in San Francisco awaits a ruling.  However, due to the lawsuit, in February 2019 the Secretary of Homeland Security issued a TPS extension until January 2020 for citizens of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

On Nov. 20, 2017, then-Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the TPS designation for Haiti with a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminated on July 22, 2019.  A news release put out by Homeland Security stated:

“The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute.  Based on all available information . . . Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.  Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.”

Source: Acting Secretary Elaine Duke Announcement On Temporary Protected Status For Haiti (United States Department of Homeland Security — Nov. 20, 2017).

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen made a similar decision regarding 263,000 El Salvadorans who were granted “temporary” residence in the United States.

FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN

Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Some have concluded that the 18-month grace periods were more than generous.  One columnist argued that the 1-1/2 year period to leave “will . . . give more time to ‘go into the shadows,’ more time to apply for green cards, more time to create more anchor babies, collect welfare, take jobs from Americans, and, for some, to collect a paycheck from MS-13.”

Source: Ed Straker, Why do “Temporary Protected Status” refugees need 18 months to leave America? (American Thinker — Jan. 9, 2018).

Judge Kuntz assumed office in 2011 after being appointed by President Barack Obama. From 2005 until being appointed as a federal judge he was a lawyer in the New York office of the law firm Baker Hostetler.  Judge Chen also assumed office in 2011 after being appointed by President Obama. He served as a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union from 1985-2001, specializing in language discrimination cases.

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT JUDGE EDWARD M. CHEN OF SAN FRANCISCO TEMPORARILY BLOCKED THE UNITED STATES FROM TERMINATING TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR CITIZENS OF FOUR COUNTRIES INCLUDING HAITI 

 

 

The United States Supreme Court will decide an appeal alleging racial discrimination in the selection of a jury in a quadruple murder case

April 6, 2019

CURTIS FLOWERS IS LED AWAY FROM THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURTHOUSE IN WINONA, MISSISSIPPI AFTER A COURT HEARING ON MARCH 16, 2014

Photo Credit: Dale Gerstenslager / AP

On March 20, 2019, the United States Supreme Court entertained oral argument in Flowers v. Mississippi, Supreme Court Case No. 17-9572.  The issue before the Court was whether a criminal defendant’s Constitutional rights were violated by the prosecution’s exercise of its peremptory strikes to exclude five black prospective jurors.

Sheri Lynn Johnson of Ithaca, New York presented the argument on behalf of Flowers.  She began her argument by stating:

“The only plausible interpretation of all of the evidence viewed cumulatively is that [District Attorney] Doug Evans began jury selection in Flowers IV with an unconstitutional end in mind, to seat as few African American jurors as he could. The numbers are striking. In the first four trials, Mr. Evans exercised 36 peremptory challenges, all of them against African American jurors.  in the sixth trial, he exercised five out of six of his challenges against African American jurors.”

LAWYER SHERI LYNN JOHNSON ARGUING ON BEHALF OF FLOWERS: SHE ARGUED THAT DISTRICT ATTORNEY DOUG EVANS WANTED AS FEW BLACK JURORS AS POSSIBLE 

Art Credit: Art Lien

Jason L. Davis, Special Assistant Attorney General of Jackson, Mississippi, presented the argument on behalf of the State of Mississippi.  He began:

“The history of this case is troubling, but the history is confined to this case, and, as Mr. Chief Justice pointed out, it is unusual.  There are — this is the sixth trial in this small town, a small town of approximately 5,000 individuals.  The questioning of whether the makeup or the limited number of individuals in the town was one of the reasons for follow-up questions is accurate. At the outset, let me say that the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in this case was commensurate with Batson and its progeny.”

Mr. Davis later argued that while there is a troubling history involving earlier trials the strikes in the sixth trial were proper.  “Each of the jurors that were struck either worked with a relative, were related, or knew, intimately, family members, the defendant or his family members, up to and including one juror who lied on her questionnaire and then admitted to lying on the stand. . . . The juror who lied on her questionnaire expressly admitted that she lied for the sole purpose of getting off the jury.”  Dr. Davis further argued: “This is one of the issues with this case, is that each of these strikes that we have, we don’t have one single reason.  We have numerous.”

SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL JASON DAVIS ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI: HE ARGUED THAT FLOWERS’ RIGHTS UNDER BATSON WERE NOT VIOLATED 

Artwork Credit: Art Lien

Curtis Giovanni Flowers was charged with murdering four employees of Tardy Furniture Store in Winona, Mississippi.  The factual background was set forth by the Mississippi Supreme Court in Flowers v. State, 240 So.3d 1082 (Miss. 2017).

On the morning of July 16, 1996, Bertha Tardy, the owner of the furniture store, along with three other employees were found with gunshot wounds to the head at the furniture store.  The other employees were Robert Golden, Carmen Rigby and Derrick Stewart.  The victims were discovered by Sam Jones, who arrived at the store for the purpose of employee training.  Mr. Stewart was still alive when Mr. Jones arrived but he later succumbed to his injuries.

[Ms. Tardy was 59, was the owner of Tandy Furniture Company. She had a husband and a daughter.  She was a graduate of Winona High School and New York School of Interior Design.  Mr. Golden, 42, was a delivery worker at the furniture store. Ms. Rigby, 45, was the bookkeeper at the furniture store and had a husband and two sons.  Mr. Stewart, 16, a part time employee at the furniture store, died on July 22, 1996 at University Hospital at Jacksonville, Mississippi.  He played short stop and pitcher for Winona High School and was the team’s leading hitter.]

Johnny Hargrove, the Chief of Police for Winona, was the first law enforcement officer to arrive.  Shell casings from 0.380 caliber bullets were recovered from the scene and a bloody shoeprint was found near one of the victims.  About this time there was a call about an automobile burglary at Angelica Garment Factory.  Deputy Sheriff Bill Thornburg responded and learned that someone burglarized Doyle Simpson’s car and stole a 0.380 caliber pistol.  An employee of the garment factory, Katherine Snow, had seen Flowers near Mr. Simpson’s car about 7:15 that morning.

Flowers was located and interviewed about 1:30 p.m.  Flowers consented to a gunshot residue test.  On July 18, 1996, Flowers was interviewed for a second time. He said he had been babysitting his girlfriend’s children on the morning of the murders but provided inconsistent statements about his schedule.  Flowers said he had been employed at the furniture store for a few days earlier that month but was fired on July 6, 1996 after he did not show up for work for a few days.

Flowers moved to Texas in September 1996.  After further investigation, Flowers was arrested and brought back to Mississippi.  During March 1997, Flowers was indicted on four counts of capital murder.

The case was unusual because it was tried six times.

First Trial — In October 1997, after a change of venue from Montgomery County to Lee County, Flowers was convicted for the murder of Bertha Tardy and sentenced to death.  The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Flowers’ convictions on the ground that his right to a fair trial was violated by admission of evidence of the other three murder victims.  Flowers v. State, 773 So.2d 309 (Miss. 2000) (Flowers I).

Second Trial — Flowers’ second murder trial took place in Harrison County for the murder of Derrick Stewart.  Flowers was convicted and sentenced to death.  On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the conviction.  The court held that Flowers’ right to a fair trial was violated by admission of evidence of the other victims and by the prosecution arguing facts not in evidence.  Flowers v State, 842 So.2d 531 (Miss. 2003) (Flowers II).

Third Trial — Flowers’ third trial took place in 2004 in Montgomery County for all four murders.  Flowers was convicted and sentenced to death.  The conviction was reversed after the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the prosecution engaged in racial discrimination during jury selection.  Flowers v. State, 947 So.2d 910 (Miss. 2007) (Flowers III).

[In Flowers’ third trial Mr. Evans used all 15 of his peremptory strikes against black prospective jurors.  The Mississippi Supreme Court found that Mr. Evans discriminated in jury selection.  The court called Mr. Evans’ actions “as strong a prima facie case of racial discrimination as we have ever seen.”]

Fourth and Fifth Trials — Flowers’ fourth and fifth trials were also on all four counts of capital murder. Both resulted in mistrials when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict during the culpability phase.  The State did not seek the death penalty in the fourth trial but sought it in the fifth trial.

[In the fourth trial, seven white jurors voted to convict and all five black jurors voted to acquit.  In the fifth trial, all but one juror — a black man — voted to convict.  This resulted in a hung jury.  After the trial the prosecutor charged the hold-out juror with perjury after the trial judge accused him of lying during voir dire.  The state attorney general eventually dropped all charges.]

[After the fifth trial, an alternate juror was charged with perjury for lying under oath about her contact with Flowers and his family before the trial.  She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.]

Sixth Trial — During June 2010 Flowers’ sixth trial took place in Montgomery County for all four murders. The prosecution called 21 witnesses during its case-in-chief.  On June 18, 2010, the jury returned a guilty verdict for all four murders.  Following a sentencing hearing, the jury sentenced Flowers to death.

It has been reported that Flowers’ sixth trial was the first time in United State history that the same person has been tried six times on the same murder charges.  Flowers’ sixth trial, Mr. Evans struck five black women and used a six strike on a white woman.

“Prosecutors have consistently argued Flowers had a ‘beef’ with the store because his paycheck had been withheld to offset merchandise damaged in his care. Several other factors tied Flowers to the crime: bloody shoe prints found at the scene matched shoes he was said to own; several eyewitnesses saw him in front of or near the store the morning of the killings; the gun used was stolen from Flowers’ uncle’s car the morning of the killings and Flowers was seen sitting on the car; cash found at Flowers’ home was close to what had been stolen from the store, and a gunshot residue test performed on Flowers hours after the killings confirmed particles on his hands.”

Source: Monica Land, No 7th trial for Curtis Flowers in quadruple murder (Nov. 16, 2014 — The Clarion-Ledger).

District Attorney Doug Evans represented the State of Mississippi in all six of Flowers’ trials.  Mr. Evans used 44 strikes in total — 36 against black and eight against white prospective jurors.

Flowers appealed based upon 13 assignments of error.  Assignment of Error No. 6 was that the jury selection process, the composition of the venire and the jury seated, and pervasive racial and other bias surrounding the matter violated Flowers’ constitutional rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

On Nov. 11, 2017, in a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Josiah D. Coleman, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Flowers’ convictions and the imposition of the death penalty.  Flowers v. State, 240 So.3d 1082 (2017) (Flowers IV).  As to the jury selection issue, the court held that the fact that the prosecutor committed a “Batson violation” during an earlier trial did not preclude finding on retrial that the same prosecutor’s race-neutral explanations for striking five black venire members were credible.  The court concluded: “Taking into account the ‘historical evidence’ of past discrimination, i.e., Mr. Evans’ past Batson violations, the Court remains unpersuaded that the trial court erred in finding that the State did not violate Batson.”  240 So.3d at 1135.

“Batson violation” is based on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Batson v Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), in which the Court held that the Constitution forbids prosecutors from challenging potential jurors solely on account of their race or the assumption that black jurors as a group will be unable to impartially consider the State’s case against a black defendant.

Mr. Davis noted that the trial at issue was presided over by Judge Joseph H. Lopez, Jr., who “acknowledged that he would be diligent in making sure the same type of error [that took place in Flowers’ third trial] did not occur again.” Mr. Davis quoted Judge Lopez from the trial transcript where Judge Lopez said “I’m going to look very closely at this case.”  Mr. Davis further argued:

“In this case, the record itself shows that the district attorney offered valid race-neutral reasons for each strike. Each strike was considered by the trial court, who had made aware — made the parties aware of — that he was aware of the history of the case, and the record supports that all the jurors that were struck because they were either sued by Tandy Furniture, they were either related to the defendant, or friends with, or had worked with members of the defendant’s family.”

CIRCUIT JUDGE JOESPH H. LOPEZ, JR. OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI WAS THE TRIAL JUDGE FOR FLOWERS’ SIXTH MURDER TRIAL

Photo Credit: Unknown

Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked Mr. Davis: “And can you say, as you sit here today, confidently you have confidence in the — how this all transpired in this case?” Mr. Davis responded:

“If have confidence in this record, Justice Kavanaugh.  I have confidence in the strikes that the district attorney made based on the four corners of this record. I have confidence that, if reviewed with an eye towards what actually transpired, it supports the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in this case.  That I have confidence in.”

In response to a comment by Justice Sonia Sotomayor that she would have thought that a different prosecutor would have been substituted before the fifth and six trials, Mr. Davis ended his argument:

“And again, I would agree completely, Justice Sotomayor, that we have an unusual circumstance, an unusual case with these six trials having been all tried by the same prosecutor. But I would resubmit, again, that the decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court in this instance was not violative of Batson and its progeny.”

The arguments before the Supreme Court were analyzed by Amy Howe, a former law professor who has argued two cases before the Supreme Court:

“After nearly an hour of oral argument that included the first questions by Justice Clarence Thomas since 2016, there seemed to be at least five justices who agree with Flowers. . . . Although Johnson emphasized Evans’ history of striking potential African-American jurors throughout the trials in Flowers’ case, much of the oral argument was spent grabbling with the specifics of Evans’ strikes in the sixth trial, and in particular some potential jurors’ relationships with the victims and their families and the extent to which Evans had questioned the would-be jurors about potential biases.”

Source: Amy Howe, Argument analysis: Justices seem receptive to inmate’s juror-discrimination claims (Howe on the Court — March 21, 2019). Ms. Howe further reported:

“But then Justice Clarence Thomas . . . had a question. He wanted to knw whether Flowers’ trial lawyer had used any of her peremptory strikes — and, if so, what was the race of the jurors whom she had struck.  Johnson responded that the trial lawyer had only used her strikes to remove white jurors from the juror pool, adding that ‘her motivation is not the question here.  The question is the motivation of Doug Evans.'”

If Flowers’ conviction is reversed then he could still face a seventh trial.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY DOUG EVANS QUESTIONING A WITNESS DURING ONE OF THE SIX TRIALS ACCUSING FLOWERS OF FOUR COUNTS OF MURDER.  MR. EVANS WAS ELECTED DISTRICT ATTORNEY IN 1992 AND HAS SERVED IN THAT POSITION SINCE THAT TIME.

Photo Credit: Taylor Kuykendall / The Greenwood Commonwealth / AP

THE FOUR MURDERS TOOK PLACE AT THE TARDY FURNITURE STORE IN WINONA, WHICH IS NOW CLOSED

Photo Credit: Monica Land / The Clarion-Ledger

 

The Final Four teams are ready to play in the NCAA basketball tournament

April 2, 2019

JARRETT CULVER OF TEXAS TECH SHOOTS OVER GONZAGA’S RUI HACHIMURA DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE RED RAIDERS’ 75-69 WIN OVER THE BULLDOGS

Photo Credit: AP

Virginia will play Auburn and Michigan State will play Texas Tech on Saturday, April 6, 2019 to determine the finals of the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Virginia (33-3) v Auburn (30-9)

Virginia has defeated Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Oregon and Purdue.  Virginia only beat Oregon by 4 and needed a buzzer beater to force overtime against Purdue. The Virginia-Purdue game is said to be the best game of this year’s tournament.

Auburn defeated New Mexico State, Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky to reach the team’s first Final Four.  (Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky are the three winningest teams in college basketball history.)  Auburn narrowly escaped the first round with a 1-point win over New Mexico State.

Auburn will need to adjust without 6-8 sophomore Chuma Okeke (average of 12 points per game), the Tigers’ best front court player who tore his ACL early in the second half of Auburn’s Sweet 16 win over North Carolina.  With Okeke out against Kentucky in the Elite Eight, 6-8 junior Anfernee McLemore (6.6 ppg) played 32 minutes and 6-7 junior Danjel Purifoy (3.6 ppg) played 30 minutes.

This game will feature five players shooting at least 37 % for 3-pointers.  For Virginia they are 6-2 junior Kyle Guy (15.2 ppg), 6-5 junior Ty Jerome (13.3 ppg) and 6-7 sophomore De’Andre Hunter (14.9 ppg).  For Auburn they are 5-11 junior Jared Harper (15.4 ppg) and 6-3 senior Bryce Brown (16 ppg).  The 3-point shot could very well determine the winner of this game.  Guy is Virginia’s leading scorer.  The Cavaliers’ leading rebounder is 6-8 junior Braxton Key (5.4 rpg).  Jerome is Virginia’s assists leader (5.3 apg).

Harper and Brown combined for 50 of Auburn’s 77 points in their win over Kentucky.  5-9 freshman Kihei Clark (4.4 ppg) of Virginia should draw primary duty on Haprer of Auburn, which means that Virginia’s Guy will likely spend most of his time on defense matching up with Auburn’s Brown.  Whoever gets the better of the one-on-one matchup  between Guy and Brown could send his team to the title game.

Austin Wiley, a 6-11 junior, leads Auburn in rebounds (4.2 rpg) and Harper leads Auburn in assists (5.9 apg)

Michigan State (32-6) v Texas Tech (30-6)

Michigan State defeated Bradley, Minnesota, LSU and Duke.  Michigan State is arguably the best balanced team in the country.  Five of their six losses have been by 5 points or less and two of those were in overtime.  The Spartans’ 6-0 junior Cassius Winston (18.9 ppg) was the Big Ten Player of the Year.  Winston took over the game against Duke when his team faced its biggest deficit as the Spartans beat No. 1 ranked Duke by a score of 68-67.  Duke was led by the most electric player in college basketball,  6-7,  285-pound freshman Zion Williamson (22.6 ppg).  Xavier Tillman, a 6-8 sophomore, scored 19 points against Duke and averages 10.1 ppg.

Texas Tech defeated Northern Kentucky, Buffalo, Michigan and Gonzaga.  Texas Tech is said to be the best defensive team in the country.  The Red Raiders’ defense can render any offense completely ineffective.  This will be the fist Final Four for Texas Tech.  The Red Raiders’ top scorer is 6-5 sophomore Jarrett Culver (18.9 ppg), who will probably be the best offensive player in the game.  He also leads Texas Tech in rebounds (6.4 rpg)and assists (3.8 apg). Culver will be guarded closely by Michigan State’s 6-6 freshman Aaron Henry (5.9 ppg) and 6-7 senior Kenny Goins (8.1 ppg). Goins is the Spartans’ leading rebounder (9.0 rpg).

UPDATE ON THE SEMI-FINALS RESULTS — Virginia beat Auburn by a score of 63-62 and Texas Tech beat Michigan State 61-51.  Virginia’s Kyle Guy was fouled while shooting a 3-point shot from the corner with 0.6 seconds left in the game when the Cavaliers were behind by 2 points.  Guy then made all three free throws to eliminate the Tigers from the tournament. Michigan State trailed by 13 points with 9:40 to play.  Henry Aaron’s driving layup cut the deficit to 52-51 with 2:54 to play. The Red Raiders outscored the Spartans 9-0 after that point.

UPDATE ON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP — Virginia beat Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime. The Cavaliers led by 10 with about 10 minutes to go and led by 8 at the 5:46 mark. The Red Raiders went ahead 68-65 on Norense Odiase’s two free throws with 22 seconds to play.  De’Andre Hunter of Virginia then made a three-point shot with 12 seconds to play to knot up the score at 68.  Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech missed a potentially game-winning jumper with one second to put the game into overtime.  Texas Tech went ahead 73-70 with 3:09 to play on Matt Mooney’s jump shot.  Virginia then out-scored Texas Tech 15-4 to win the national championship.

Virginia’s top scorers were De’Andre Hunter (27), Kyle Guy (24) and Ty Jerome (16).  The top scorers for Texas Tech were Brandone Francis (17), Davide Moretti (15), Jarrett Culver (15) and Kyler Edwards (10).  Guy was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

CASSIUS WINSTON OF MICHIGAN STATE DRIVES BY DUKE’S R. J. BARRETT; WINSTON WAS THE SPARTANS’ LEADING SCORER WITH 20 AND ALSO HAD A GAME-HIGH 10 ASSISTS 

Photo Credit: Annie Barker / The State News

NORENSE ODIASE OF TEXAS TECH AND MAMADI DIAKITE OF VIRGINIA BATTLE FOR THE REBOUND DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Abolishing the Electoral College could result in the United States of California

March 29, 2019

ALEXANDER HAMILTON SAID THAT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE “BE NOT PERFECT, BUT  IT IS AT LEAST EXCELLENT”

Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution provides that the President of the United States, together with the Vice President, shall be elected as follows:

“Each State shall appoint . . . a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress, but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.  Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes, which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.”

The Twelve, Fourteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-Third Amendments to the Constitution also govern the Electoral College.

Legislation is once more being introduced this year to abolish the Electoral College for electing the President of the United States.  The bill would require a Constitutional amendment to elect the President by a direct popular vote.  To enact a Constitutional amendment, it would first need to win over two-thirds of both chambers of Congress.  The amendment would then need to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

During the past 200 years more than 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College.  There have been more proposals for a Constitutional Amendment on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. Public opinion polls have shown that Americans favor abolishing the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is a process established by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. It was established as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors.  A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President.  Each state’s allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives and two for each state’s Senators.   Also, under the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allotted three electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College.

Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate in the state.  Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation.”

After the Presidential election, the Governor of each state prepares a “Certificate of Ascertainment” listing all of the candidates who ran from President in the state along with the names of their respective electors.  The Certificate of Ascertainment declares the winning Presidential candidate in each state and shows which electors will represent the state at the meeting of the electors in December of the election year.  Each state’s Certificate of Ascertainment is sent to Congress and the National Archives.

The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the Presidential election.  The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Each state’s electors’ votes are recorded on a “Certificate of Vote,” which is prepared at the meeting by the electors.  The Certificates of Votes are sent to Congress and the National Archives.

Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors.  Members of the House and Senate meet in the House chambers to conduct the official tally of electoral votes. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote.  The President of the Senate then declares which person has been elected President and Vice President of the United States.  The President-Elect then takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.

There have been five times in United States history when a candidate won the Presidency despite losing the popular vote: 1892 (John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson) 1876 (Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden), 1888 (Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland), 2000 (George W. Bush over Al Gore) and 2016 (Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton).

“Trump won 37 states. Hillary won 13. That’s why we have the electoral college — So we are not the United States of California.”

There are no less than three good reasons for maintaining the Electoral College: (1) the Founding Fathers enshrined the Electoral College in the Constitution because they thought it was the best method to choose the President, (2) the Electoral College ensures that all parts of the country are involved in selecting the President and (3) the Electoral College guarantees certainty to the outcome of the Presidential election.  Opponents of the Electoral College contend (1) the reasons for which the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College are no longer relevant, (2) the Electoral College gives too much power to “swing states” and allows the Presidential election to be decided by a handful of states and (3) the Electoral College ignores the will of the people.

The best reason for maintain the Electoral College is because it ensures that all parts of the country are involved in selecting the President.  If the election depended solely on the popular vote, then candidates could limit campaigning to heavily-populated areas or specific regions. To win the election, Presidential candidates need electoral votes from multiple regions and therefore they build campaign platforms with a national focus with the winner actually serving the needs of the entire country.  Without the Electoral College, groups such as Iowa farmers and Ohio factory workers would be ignored in favor of pandering to metropolitan areas with high population densities, leaving rural areas and small towns marginalized.

The wisdom of the Founding Fathers also cannot be overlooked.

“The United States is a representative democracy operated under a ‘republican’ form of government, as provided for in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. . . . In 1787, the Founding Fathers, based on their direct knowledge of history showing that unlimited power tends to become a tyrannical power, created the United States as a republic — not a pure democracy. . . . The Founding Fathers knew that as the nation grew and the time required for debating and voting on every issue increased, the public’s desire to take part in the process would quickly decrease.  As a result, the decisions and actions taken would not truly reflect the will of the majority, but small groups of people representing their own interests. . . . As part of their plan to separate powers and authority, the Founders created the Electoral College as the method by which the people could choose their highest government leader — the president — while avoiding at least some of the dangers of a direct election.”

Source: Robert Longley, Reasons to Keep the Electoral College (Thought Co. — Feb. 14, 2019).

As Alexander Hamilton noted, if the Electoral College “be not perfect, it is at least excellent.”

THE FOUNDING FATHERS, WHO MORE THAN 200 YEARS AGO GATHERED IN PHILADELPHIA TO WRITE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE