What should be done to punish five teenagers involved in the senseless murder of a Nashville musician?

February 10, 2019

Kyle Yorlets, 24, was from Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  He was one of four children raised on a farm.  He began singing at a young age, according to his mother, Deb Yorlets.

“He was extremely passionate about music, Mrs. Yorlets said.  “Everyone who met him was amazed and loved him.”

Mr. Yorlets moved to Nashville and in 2017 he graduated from Belmont University, a private Christian liberal arts university.  He co-founded a pop/rock band called Carverton and was the lead singer.  Mr. Yorlets also worked at Milk & Honey, a restaurant on 11th Avenue in Nashville, and Pastaria, an Italian restaurant on City Boulevard in Nashville.

The website for Mr. Yorlets’ band states in part:

“Carverton is an American Pop/Rock band currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in the summer of 2014 by central Pennsylvania boys, Kyle Yorlets and Michael Curry; they realized their unique sound would fit better in Nashville, so the two ventured off with a couple of guitars and songs in hand. While there, they met Christian Ferguson and Michael Weibell to complete the band and formulate the missing pieces to their sound.”

The Carverton website further states: “Entering 2018, Carverton were ecstatic to head in to the studio to record their debut full-length, Chasing Sounds, which is due out March 29, 2019, featuring singles, “Wildside” and “Misery.”

Source: http://www.carveton.com.

Mr. Yorlets’ band was scheduled to give a performance on March 30, 2019 The Back Corner on 5th Avenue in Nashville. But on the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, the life of Mr. Yorlets was cut short by criminals.  Mr. Yorlets was standing in his driveway on Torbelt Street in Nashville when he was confronted by five teenagers.  Investigators believe the group was out in the alley behind Mr. Yorlets’ home when they spotted him, approached him with a gun and shot him to death.

Prosecutors want to try five Nashville juveniles, ages 12 to 16, as adults in connection with the robbery and fatal shooting of Mr. Yortlets.  Metro Police spokesman Dan Aaron said that the suspects all knew each other.  “None of the five individuals is a stranger to the system or this police department,” Mr. Aaron said.

During a press conference on Feb. 8 at the North Nashville Police Precinct,  Mr. Aaron said:

“His wallet was taken — was robbed of him — during this interaction.  We believe that he was asked for his keys — perhaps they demanded his keys.  When he said he was not going to do that we think that it was then that he was fatally wounded.  Mr. Yorlets was able to make it back inside his residence and was there for a period of time before he was actually found by his housemate probably an hour or two after he was shot. It is my understanding that the ambulance personnel Medcom was able to detect a faint pulse or a faint heartbeat.  He he was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.  From what we know of Mr. Yorlets he is an absolute, absolute innocent victim.  We know that he is a graduate of Belmont University, 24-years-old, was working at a local restaurant and was also a member of an up and coming band.”

After Mr. Yorlets was shot, the juveniles fled the scene in a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck stolen from Oak Grove, Kentucky. The pickup truck was ditched on Timberland Drive in the Hermitage Precinct of Nashville.  Officers located the juveniles at the West Nashville Walmart on 40th Street North. They found a loaded, stolen 9 mm pistol with one of the juveniles.  They also found a second loaded, stolen pistol inside the Walmart. Police believe the juveniles drove another stolen vehicle, a Hyundai Santa Fe, from Brentwood to the Walmart.

Police said the guns were stolen during vehicle thefts, the first from South Nashville in 2018.  The second gun was stolen on 40th Avenue North in Nashville the day before Mr. Yorlets was shot.

Mr. Yorlets’ band released a statement Friday morning stating they were “in a state of shock.”  The statement read:

“We are heartbroken. Our condolences for his family and loved ones and all the lives that he touched. We will never forget Kyle, and although he is gone too soon his legacy is here to stay. We thank you for your support and will talk to you soon.”

A statement from Pastaria restaurant stated in part:

“Kyle Yorlets was many things to many people: a soundboard, a mentor, a boyfriend, a wonderful musician, a confidant, an encourager, a day brightener, a friend. . . . We are standing together as a community to show those who could commit such a heinous crime against another human the love that Kyle shared in this word. . . . We love you, Kyle, just as much as you loved us.”

A public memorial will be held on Feb. 11, 2019 at Belmont University’s chapel.

“Currently there are 185 inmates in Tennessee prisons serving life sentences for crimes committed when they were teens.  Seven were 14 at the time of their crimes.” Source: Natalie Neysa Alund and Adam Tamburin, Prosecutors seek to charge 5 juveniles as adults in robbery and shooting death of Nashville musician (Tennessean — Feb. 8, 2019).

The mugshots have been released of three of the suspects: Roniyah McKnight, 14, a girl; Diamond Lewis, 15, a boy, and Decorrius Wright, 16, a boy.  The names of a 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy have not been released because Tennessee law prohibits the identification of suspects age 13 or under.

Source: Snejana Farberov, Five children between ages 12 and 16 are charged with MURDER in shooting death of Nashville musician during robbery-gone-bad (The Daily Mail — Feb. 8, 2019).

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6683689/Five-children-charged-murder-shooting-death-Nashville-musician.html

It was reported that all five suspects will be charged with criminal homicide.

According to the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), juvenile arrests for murder have increased since 2012.  The OJJDP reported:

“The juvenile murder arrest rate fell 44% between 2007 and 2012, when it reached its lowest level since at least 1980.  This decline was followed by an 18% increase through 2016.”

The OJJDP reported during 2016 there were 850 juveniles charged with murder and non-negligent manslaughter.  Of these juveniles, nine percent were female, nine percent were younger than age 15 and 36 percent were white.

Source:   Juvenile Justice Statistics: National Report Series Bulletin (OJJDP — December 2018), found at https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/251861.pdf.

A briefing paper reviewed United States Supreme Court precedents involving Juvenile Life [Sentences] Without Parole (JLWOP).  The paper is  titled Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Overview (The Sentencing Project — Oct. 22, 2018).  The paper noted: “Most of the approximately 2,100 individuals sentenced mandatorily as juveniles without the possibility of parole now have a chance for release in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions.”  The paper further noted:

∗     The United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 vote in 2005 that juveniles cannot be sentenced to death.  Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2015).  The Court reasoned that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for the young; immaturity diminishes their culpability as does their susceptibility to outside pressures and influences.  The Court held that the nation’s “evolving standards of decency” showed that the death penalty for juveniles was cruel and unusual punishment.

     Having banned the use of the death penalty for juveniles, in 2010 the Court held in a 5-4 opinion that the sentence of life without parole was the harshest sentence that could be imposed for offenses committed by persons under age 18.  Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010). The Court banned the use of life without parole for juveniles not convicted of homicide. (Many states have banned or limited the use of juvenile life without parole sentences.)

∗     In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), a 5-4 opinion, the Court held that for juveniles a mandatory life sentence without parole violated the Eighth Amendment. The Court held that judges must be able to consider the characteristics of juvenile defendants in order to issue a fair and individualized sentence.  The Court stated that adolescence is marked by “transient rashness, proclivity to risk, and inability to assess consequences,” all factors that should mitigate the punishment received by juvenile defendants.

∗     In 2016, in a 6-3 opinion, the Court affected mandatory sentencing laws in 28 states and the federal government.  Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718 (2016).  The Court noted that states inconsistently interpreted Miller’s retroactivity; 14 states rules that Miller applied retroactively while seven other states ruled that Miller was not retroactive. The Court noted that “children are constitutionally different from adults in their level of culpability” and that the severest punishment must be reserved “for the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.”

∗     Since 2012, states and the District of Columbia have changed their laws for juvenile offenders convicted of homicide. These new laws provide mandatory minimums ranging from a chance of parole after 15 years (as in Nevada and West Virginia) to 40 years (as in Texas and Nebraska).  Twenty-nine states still allow life without parole as a sentencing option for juveniles.  In most states, the question of virtual life without parole has yet to be addressed.  While 29 states allow juvenile life without parole sentences, just three states — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Louisiana — account for about two-thirds of all such sentences.

In the Roper case that banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders, Justice Clarence Thomas characterized the Court’s opinion as a threat to the Constitution’s separation of powers.  Justice Thomas stated:

“Never before today has the Court relied on its own view of just deserts to impose a categorical limit on the imposition of a lesser punishment. Its willingness to cross that well-established boundary raises the question of whether any democratic choice regarding appropriate punishment is safe from the Court’s ever-expanding constitutional veto.”

In the Montgomery case affecting mandatory life sentences for juveniles, Justice Antonin Scalia dissented and stated:

“This whole exercise, this whole distortion of Miller, is just a devious way of eliminating [LWOP] for juvenile offenders. . . . In Godfather fashion, the majority makes state legislatures an offer they can’t refuse: Avoid all the utterly impossible nonsense have prescribed by simply ‘permitting juvenile homicide offenders to be considered for parole.’  Mission accomplished”

The question remains: If the juveniles who killed Mr. Yorlets are convicted, then what should be done to punish them?

 

 

Advertisements

Twelve NHL teams have 30 or more wins with 40 percent of the regular season still to be played

February 9, 2019

Twelve of the NHL’s 31 teams have won 30 or more games as about 50 of the 82 regular season games (about 60 percent) have been played.

In the Eastern Conference, Tampa Bay has won 39 games.  Others with 30 or more wins are Toronto (33), New York Islanders (32), Montreal (31), Boston (30), Washington (30) and Columbus (30).

In the Wester Conference, Winnipeg and Calgary have each won 34 games.  Others with 30 or more wins are Nashville (33), San Jose (32) and Las Vegas (31).

The individual points statistics for the three teams with the highest number of wins:

Tampa Bay Lightning — Nikita Kucherov, a right wing, has 81 points with 22 goals and 59 assists.  Brayden Point, a center, has 66 points with 31 goals and 35 assists and Steven Stamkos, another center, has 61 points with 28 goals and 33 assists.

Winnipeg Jets — Blake Wheeler, right wing, has 65 points with 11 goals and 54 assists. Mark Scheifele, a center, has 63 points with 27 goals and 36 assists.

Calgary Flames — Johnny Gaudreau, left wing, has 74 points with 29 goals and 45 assists.  Sean Monahan, a center, has 62 points with 27 goals and 35 assists.  Elias Lindholm, another center, has 60 points with 23 goals and 37 assists.

To date, the NHL’s leading goal scorers are Alex Ovechkin of Washington (37), Jeff Skinner of Buffalo (33), Patrick Kane of Chicago (32), Leon Draisiti of Edmonton (32) and John Tavares of Toronto (32).

The league’s offensive leaders in points are Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay (81), Connor McDavid of Edmonton (80), Patrick Kane of Chicago (79), Mikko Rantanen of Colorado (75) and Johnny Gaudreau of Calgary (74).

For net minders, the best percentage of saves belongs to Jack Campbell of Las Angeles (.933), Robins Lehner of New York Islanders (.932), Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay (.927), Thomas Greiss of  New York Islanders (.926) and Ben Bishop of Dallas (.924).

36 of the 42 cars entered in the Daytona 500 have guaranteed spots

February 9, 2019

Pole qualifying for this year’s Daytona 500 begins on Feb. 10, 2019.  The top two qualifiers will start in the front row.  Spots ## 3-40 will be determined on Feb. 14 in two pre-qualifying races.

This will be the 61st running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway at Daytona Beach, Florida.  The race consists of 200 laps over a 2.5 mile asphalt super speedway.  Forty-two cars will participate in the event on Feb. 17, 2019. Under NASCAR’s charter system, 36 cars have guaranteed spots.  Six cars will attempt to qualify for the remaining four spots.

The Daytona 500 is known as “The Great American Race” and the “Super Bowl of Stock Racing.”  The winner of the race is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

The defending winner is Austin Dillon, 28, who drives a Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.  Second place went to rookie Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., 25, driving a Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, and third place was Denny Hamlin, 38, who drove a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Aric Almirola, 34, was leading last year’s race in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford on the last lap until Dillon’s car struck the right-rear corner of Almirola’s car and caused it to crash into the wall.  Almirola ended up finishing 11th.

The pole position was won last year by Alex Bowman, 25, in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.  The other car on the front row was driven by Hamlin.

Other drivers to win the Daytona 500 in recent years are Kurt Busch (2017 in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), Denny Hamlin (2016 in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Joey Logano (2015 in a Team Penske Ford), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014 in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (2013 in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (2012 in a Rousch Fenway Racing Ford), Trevor Bayne (2011 in a Wood Brothers Racing Ford), Jamie McMurray (2010 in a Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) and Kenseth (2009 in a Rousch Fenway Racing Ford).

Former winners Busch, Hamlin, Logano, Johnson and McMurray all have guaranteed spots in this years’ race.

Multiple winners of the Daytona 500 are Richard Petty (seven times), Cale Yarborough (four times), Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon (each three times), and Bill Elliott, Sterling Martin, Michael Waltrip, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (each two times).

Dale Earnhardt, 49, one of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time, was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500.  Two drivers have died during practice for the Daytona 500.  They are Neil Bonnett, 47 (1994) and Rodney Orr, 31 (1994),

The drivers competing for the last four spots in this years’ Daytona 500 are Casey Mears, Tyler Reddick, Parker Kligerman, Brendan Gaughan, Joey Gase and Ryan Truex.

City of Light won the third running of the $9 million Pegasus World Cup

February 9, 2019

The Pegasus World Cup was run for the third time on Jan. 29, 2019 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.  The purse was $9 million with $4 million for the winning horse: City of Light ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by W. M. McCarthy.

The two main contenders were City of Light, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and Accelerate, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  Accelerate finished third behind City of Light and Seeking the Soul, a 30-1 longshot.  It was the final race for City of Light and Accelerate.  They will be retired to stud.

A heavy rain fell during the race which caused the track to be sloppy.

“City Light broke well from post 3, and Castellano punched Guiding City of Light to the outside behind early leader Patternrecogntiion, Castellano tapped the brakes and settled in to stalk the pace, hoping to save energy for the battle to the finish. If the downpour and condition of the track had been a worry before the race, any doubts Castellano felt were soon put to rest when he realized City of Light was actually enjoying the slop and playing with his competition.”  Source: Meredith Daugherty, City of Light Romps in Pegasus World Cup (Bloodhorse — Jan. 26, 2019).

“Approaching the stretch . . . Accelerate challenged for the lead and came within a length and a half of City of Light before the eventual winner found his final gear and kicked for home.”  (Source: Daugherty.)

City of Light won the race by 5-3/4 lengths over the late-closing Seeking the Soul, which finished 1-1/2 lengths ahead of Accelerate.

“Accelerate . . . never fired in the stretch run.”  Source: Tim Reynolds, City of Light wins $9 million Pegasus World Cup (Associated Press — Jan. 26, 2019).  “Accelerate . . faded late in the stretch to be overtaken on the inside by Seeking the Soul.”  Source: Gary Martin, 2019 Pegasus World Cup Results: City of Light Wins, Seeking the Soul Places, and Accelerate Shows (Forbes — Jan. 26, 2019).

City of Light returned $5.80 to win, $4.20 to place and $3 to show.  Seeking the Soul paid $19.20 to place and $8.20 to show.  Accelerate, the 3-2 favorite, paid $2.80 to show.

Bravazo was fourth, Audible was fifth and Gunnevera was sixth.  Other horses in the race were True Timber, Imperative, Tom’s d’Etat, Something Awesome, Kukulkan and Patternrecognition.

Accelerate ended his career with six wins in eight races.  Both losses came to City of Light.  Accelerate’s wins included the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes, Pacific Classic Stakes and Awesome Again Stakes.  He also won the Grade II 2017 Gill San Diego Handicap by beating Arrogate, a two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (2016 and 2017) and the winner of the first Pegasus World Cup (2017) and the Dubai World Cup (2017).

City of Light never finished worse third in his career; his record was 6-4-1 including wins in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes, Triple Bend Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

The 2018 race was won by Gun Runner, ridden by Florent Geux and trained by Steven M. Asmussen.  Arrogate, ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert, won the inaugural Pegasus World Cup in 2017.

The Pegasus World Cup is the richest race in North America.  It is named for the mythical horse, Pegasus.  There is a 110-foot statute of Pegasus at Gulfstream Park.

 

 

The Oresund connecting Denmark and Sweden

January 27, 2019

The Oresund is a 15.9 km (9.9 miles) direct link between Denmark and Sweden.  It consists of three different parts: a cable-stayed bridge at 7.8 km (4.8 miles),  an immersed tube tunnel at 4.1 km (2.6 miles) and an artificial island of 4 km (2.5 miles).

The project connects the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmo.  Two railway tracks run on the lower level (Oresund Railway Line) and four motorway lanes run on the upper level (E20).

Construction began in 1995 and concluded in August 1999.  Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden met midway across the bridge-tunnel on Aug. 14, 1999 to celebrate the completion. The official inauguration took place on July 1, 2000, with Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden as guests of honor.  The crossing was opened for public traffic later that day.

The Oresund features two 204 meter (669 feet) high pylons supporting the 490 meter (1,608 feet) bridge spanning across the Flintrannen navigation channel of the Oresund Strait.  (The Baltic Sea converges with the North Sea at the Oresund Strait.)

“The tunnel is the longest immersed concrete tunnel in the world.  With its main span of 490m, the bridge ranks as joint 9th among cable-stayed bridges around the world.  However, it includes the longest free span of any cable-stay bridge carrying both road and rail traffic.  It is the longest double-deck bridge for road and rail traffic, and it has by far the highest freestanding pylons in the world.”  Source: Jorgen Nissen and Klaus -Hansen, The Oresund Bridge Completion (Arup J. 2000).  The tunnel is known as the Drogden Tunnel.

Most of the bridge structures — the bridge piers and bridge spans — were built on land and then towed out to the site by a large floating crane.  The pylons were cast in situ.

During construction, there was some delay due to 16 unexploded bombs from World War II found on the sea bed where dredging was to take place.  But the project was still completed three months ahead of schedule.

The project owner is Orsundskonsortiet, a joint venture between the governments of Denmark and Sweden.  “In the end, the Oresund Bridge and the adjacent structures reached a record DKK 30 billion (around $5.7 billion).”  Source: Bogdan Popa, Oresund Bridge — Half Tunnel, Half Bridge and a Bonus Artificial Island (Autoevolution — Jan. 8, 2012).

The Oresund was designed by the Danish engineering firm COWI Consulting Engineers and Planners AS.  The main architect was Georg K. S. Rotne.  It was designed to have an operational lifespan of 100 years.

 

Should there be civil liability for the sale of talcum powder?

January 18, 2019

Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits claiming that its talc-based powders cause ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

On July 12, 2018, a St. Louis jury found that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders caused ovarian cancer and returned a verdict for $4.69 billion in favor of 22 women.  Plaintiffs alleged that the talc products were contaminated with asbestos. The jury awarded $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages.  In December 2018, the trial judge affirmed the verdict, which will be appealed.

After the verdict, a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson said: “Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies.”  Mark Lanier, lead counsel for plaintiffs, said in a statement that Johnson & Johnson had covered up evidence of asbestos in its products for more than 40 years. Source: Associated Press, Jury Awards $4.7 Billion to Baby Powder Cancer Litigation (July 13, 2018).

“Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court [St. Louis] that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

There are thousands of such cases filed in the courts.  Other ovarian cancer cases in St. Louis have resulted in verdicts of $55 million (Gloria Ristesund — May 2016), $70 million (Deborah Giannecchini — Oct. 2016), $72 million (Jackie Fox — Feb. 2016) and $110 million (Lois Slemp — May 2017).  In October 2017, the Fox case dismissed after the appeals court ruled 3-0 that Missouri lacked jurisdiction.  During August 2018, the appeals court dismissed the Ristesund case for lack jurisdiction.

After the Slemp verdict, Johnson & Johnson posted a statement on its website:

“We deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer. We will begin the appeals process following today’s verdict and believe a jury decision in our favor in St. Louis in March and the dismissal of two cases in New Jersey in September 2016 by a state court judge who ruled that plaintiffs’ scientific experts could not adequately support their theories that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer, further highlight the lack of credible scientific evidence behind plaintiffs’ allegations. We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

A California jury previously returned a verdict for $417 million (Eva Echeverria — Aug. 2017) but the verdict was overturned by the trial court, which held that plaintiffs failed to satisfy their burden to demonstrate that talc and talc products cause ovarian cancer.  The case is currently on appeal.

A California jury also returned a verdict for $25.7 million (Joanna Anderson — May 2018) and a New Jersey jury returned a verdict for $117 million (Stephen Lanzo — April 2018).  Mr. Lanzo claimed that he contacted mesothelioma after more than 30 years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products, which he alleged contained asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson won a defense verdict in another California case.  (Tina Herford — Nov. 2017).  The company also won a defense verdict in a New Jersey case (Rosalind Henry — Oct. 2018) and a Missouri case (Nora Daniels — March 2017).  After the defense verdict in the Daniels case, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement: “The jury’s decision is consistent with the science, research, clinical evidence and decades of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”

The scientific evidence to suggest a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer or mesothelioma is disputed, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally considers talc to be safe.  However, there are some scientific papers suggesting a potential link.

“Because whether or not the company’s talcum powder contains asbestos, and whether or not hid that fact from the public, the science remains firmly on J&J’s side,” wrote a business columnist.  “There is no evidence that women who use talcum powder are any more likely to get ovarian cancer than women who don’t.” Source: Joe Nocera, Science Favors J&J in Talcum Powder Lawsuits (Bloomberg — Dec. 27, 2018).  He added: “And this is one mass tort where I’m convinced the science is going to win.”

In consumer material, Johnson & Johnson asserts: “Talcum powder is the refined, powdery form of the softest material on earth: talc.  Talc is an ‘inert’ ingredient, meaning it does not generate a chemical reaction when ingested or used on the skin. . . . We continue to use talc in our products because decades of science have reaffirmed its safety. . . . Thousands of tests repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos.”

It was recently reported that “internal documents examined by Reuters show that [Johnson & Johnson’s] powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public.”  Source: Lisa Girion, Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder (Reuters — Dec. 14, 2018).

Johnson & Johnson reported in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it has been named as a defendant in at least 3,100 claims  involving its talc-based powders.  There were more than 130 cases pending in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MLD) proceeding in New Jersey.  Source: Larry Bodine, Progress in Talcum Power Multidistrict Litigation in NJ (Mass Tort Nexus — March 9, 2017).

Can the Mauler beat Bones for the UFC light heavyweight title?

December 23, 2018

In a rematch, Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson will attempt to defeat Jon “Bones” Jones for the vacated UFC light heavyweight title. The fight will take place on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Gustafsson (18-4) and Jones (22-1-1 NC) will fight in the main event at UFC 232.  Jones, 31, captured the 205-pound belt from Mauricio Rua in 2011 and has been successful in eight straight title defenses.  One of those successful defenses was against Gustafsson, 31, five years ago at UFC 165 in Toronto.  Gustafsson, also 31, is attempting to rid himself as being one of the greatest fighters never to win a UCF title.

“Gustafsson dominated the early rounds, out-boxing the champing and even landing the first takedown of Jones’ career.  Jones rallied later in the fight and dominated the championship rounds.  When the final buzzer sounded, it was unclear who had won the fight.”  Source: Don Aguero, UFC 232 (Jones v. Gustafsson 2): Odds and Predictions, Sports Betting Dime (Dec. 19, 2018).

Mr. Aguero predicts Gustafsson will win the fight, which has odds of -285 or -275 for Jones and +225 or +210 for Gustafsson.  Gustafsson was a +700 underdog in the first fight.

In the first meeting, Jones won a unanimous decision: 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.  Many observers felt that Gustafsson actually won the fight.  The fight was unanimously awarded Fight of the Year in 2013.

“I didn’t train as hard as I should have,” Jones said about his close victory over Gustafsson in their first fight. “I was winning so many fights, I was being a wild dude, and I was still winning, and it caught up to me.  It definitely caught up to me.”

“Whatever Jon comes with — he says he didn’t train for the first fight, whatever, I don’t care — I really hope he brings his A-game,” Gustafsson said. “I really hope he brings his best to the table, because I’m getting ready for the best.  I don’t want to hear any excuses after I beat him.”

Gustafsson added: “At the end of the day, it all comes down to who wants it more. I’m just the guy for him. The Jon Era is over. . . . I’m here to take that over and I’m here to beat him, once and for all.”

The light heavyweight title was held by Daniel Cormier but it was taken away from him due to inactivity.  (Cormier held both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles at the time that his light heavyweight title was taken away.)  Jones was stripped of the title after a hit-and-run accident.  (He injured a pregnant woman and fled the scene on foot.)  Jones was also suspended from the UFC for failed drug tests in 2016 and 2017.

Jones’ record after his first fight with Gustafsson (3-0-1 NC):

April 26, 2014 — Unanimous decision over Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 at Baltimore.

Jan. 3, 2015 — Unanimous decision over Daniel Cormier at UFC 182 at Las Vegas.

April 23, 2016 — Unanimous decision over Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197 at Las Vegas.

July 29, 2017 — No contest in fight with Cormier at UFC 214 at Anaheim.  Jones knocked out Cormier in the third round but the result was overturned after Jones failed the post-fight drug test.

Gustafsson’s record after his first fight with Jones (3-2)

March 8, 2014 — TKO over Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night at London.

Jan. 24, 2015 — Loss to Anthony Johnson via TKO at UCF on Fox at Stockholm.

Oct. 3, 2015 — Split decision loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 192 at Houston. (47-48, 49-46 and 48-47.)  After the fight, Cormier said: “Thank you, Alexander Gustafsson. You made me a better man and fighter tonight. I will forever be indebted to you.”

Sept. 3, 2016 — Unanimous decision over Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night at Hamburg, Germany.

May 28, 2017 — Knock out of Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night at Stockholm.

Jones is 6-4 with a reach of 84 inches.  Gustafsson is 6-5 with a reach of 79 inches.

Jones and his wife, Jessie Moses, have three daughters.  Gustafsson and his wife, Moa Antonia Johansson, have a daughter and a son.  (Gustafsson proposed to Ms. Johansson after his knockout win against Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 109.

Jones was born in Rochester, N.Y. (July 19, 1987) and resides at Ithaca, N.Y.  Gustafsson was born in Arboga, Sweden (Jan. 15, 1987) and resides at Stockholm.

UFC President Dana White said that the first fight between Jones and Gustafsson at UFC 165 was “one of the greatest light heavyweight fights in history, and I expect the rematch to be the same.”

UPDATE AFTER THE FIGHT — Jones defeated Gustafsson via a TKO (punches) at 2:02 of Round 3.  Sherdog.com described Round 3:

“Jones explodes for a takedown and gets the Swede on his back in the middle of the Octagon.  The Jackson-Wink product immediately drops some elbow on his opponent. Jones continues to work from half guard, then passes to side control, where he drops another elbow. Jones locks up a half nelson to keep Gustafsson from escaping. Jones using the maneuver to transition to Gustafsson’s back, and now he unloads with heavy right hands from back mount.  Gustafsson isn’t defending himself from the assault, and after about nine unanswered blows, Mike Beltran dives in to wave off the fight.  Jones is the UFC light heavyweight champion.”

After the fight, Gustafsson told Jones that he is “the best fighter in the world.” Jones responded: “Thanks man.  You’re a bad man.”

Nima Safapour, Gustafsson’s manager, told MMA Junkie after the fight:

“The fight was the fight. We still believe 100 percent that Alex can beat Jones. Just depends on the day.  Anyone can win depending on the circumstances of the fight. It was not our day, but we will come back and get the title in due time either from Jon or whoever else is holding the title at that time.  Expect to see ‘The Mauler’ back in action soon.”  Source: Lewis Mckeever, Manager confident Alexander Gustafsson can still beat Jon Jones: “Just depends on the day” (SB Nation — Jan. 13, 2019).

Changing demographics are coming back to bite white male Democrats

December 4, 2018

Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a member of the Democratic Socialists of America who had never before held elective office, is a good example of how changing demographics are adversely affecting white male Democrats.

The 29-year-old Ms. Ocasio-Cortez handily beat 10-term incumbent Joseph “Joe” Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which is a very safe Democratic district. The district covers parts of the Bronx and Queens in New York City.

The demographics of the Bronx is 45.8 percent white, 43.3 percent black, 4.2 percent Asian, 3.0 percent American Indian, and 3.3 percent of two or more races. Source: 2013 Census Bureau estimate. Nearly 55 percent of the population is of Hispanic or Latino, of any race.

The demographics of Queens is 27.2 percent Non-Hispanic white, 20.9 percent black, 24.8 percent Asian, 12.9 percent of some other race and 2.7 percent of two or more races. Source: 2012 Census Bureau estimate. Nearly 28 percent of Queen’s population is of Hispanic or Latino origin, of any race.

The makeup of the entire 14th Congressional District is 49.8 percent Hispanic and about one-fifth white.  “Almost half of Ocasio-Cortez’s district is Latino; over 11 percent black and 16 percent is Asian.”  Source: Steven A. Nuno, Can a Latina primary candidate’s win bring Democrats back to their roots? NBC News (June 27, 2018).

“Crowley lost because of the changing demographics of his district,” wrote a columnist for the Washington Post.  Source: Dana Milbank, Ocasio-Cortez just did Democrats a big favor, The Washington Post (June 27, 2018).

“White people representing majority-minority districts are intrinsically vulnerable.” Source: Michael Kinnucan, Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won, Jacobin (June 29, 2018).

A headline in the Washington Post stated: “The worst thig to be in many Democratic primaries? A white male candidate.”  Michael Scherer and David Weigel (June 27, 2018). Mr. Scherer and Mr. Weigel wrote:

“Given an option, Democratic voters have been picking women, racial minorities, and gay men and lesbians in races around the country at historic rates, often at the expense of the white male candidates who in past years typified the party’s offerings.”

“There are a lot of districts in this country that are like NY-14, that have changed a lot in the last 20 years, and whose representation has not,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on July 1, 2018.  Source: Christina Cauterucci, “Demographics” Did Help Ocasio-Cortez Win, and That’s a Good Thing, Slate (July 1, 2018).

When Ms. Ocasio-Cortez takes office on Jan. 3, 2019, she will be the youngest woman to serve in Congress in the history of the United States.

Mr. Crowley was the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus.  He took office in Congress in 1999 in New York’s 7th Congressional District.  He was the Congressman for the 14th Congressional District since 2013.  He had been re-elected without any significant opposition in nine elections.  He did not face any primary challengers in the 2006 through 2016 elections.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, whose father is of Puerto Rican descent and was born in the Bronx, and whose mother was born in Puerto Rico, captured 57.13 percent of the vote (15,897) in the 2018 Democratic primary to Mr. Crowley’s 42.5 percent (11,761).  In the general election, the vote tally was 77.9 percent (100,044 votes) for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 13.8 percent (17,762 votes) for Republican Anthony Pappas and 6.6 percent (8,505 votes) for Mr. Crowley.  Elizabeth Perri of the Conservative Party received 1.6 percent (2,028 votes).

To seek the 14th District seat, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez spent $194,000 compared to $3.4 million spent by Mr. Crowley. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was endorsed by extreme left-wing organizations such as MoveOn, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, Black Lives Matter and Democracy for America.

The 14th Congressional District vote 78 percent for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential race.

“Ocasio-Cortez tailored her campaign to underrepresented constituencies such as Latino and younger voters.”  Source: Grace Segers, How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the race that shocked the country, City & State New York (June 27, 2018).

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez worked in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) foreign affairs and immigration office from 2008 to 2009 while attending Boston University. After graduating, she returned to the Bronx where she volunteered for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential Democratic primary campaign.

“In addition to supporting things such as sharing the wealth Bernie Sanders-style, Medicare for all, guaranteed jobs for everyone, free college tuition, the abolishment of ICE, ending the privatization of prisons, the impeachment of Donald Trump, and gun control policies — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exhibits racist tendencies. To win the primary, Alexandria convinced voters that based solely on her ethnicity and her working-class roots, she was the most qualified to represent eastern Bronx and portions of north-central Queens, whose demographic composition is 82% minority, 50% of which is Hispanic-Latino. The problem is that Alexandria didn’t live in the projects and didn’t spend much time riding the El train. Instead, since Alexandria was age two, the newly elected politician lived in a three-bedroom home in Yorktown Heights, purchased by her architect father, the late Sergio Cortez-Roman. Yorktown Heights is a suburb of New York City located in wealthy Westchester County. Unlike the district Alexandria won, the demographic in the town the political neophyte grew up in is 90% white and 5% Hispanic-Latino.”  Source: Jeannie DeAngelis, Is Alexandria-Cortez a racist? American Thinker (July 3, 2018).

“Overall, Westchester County is one of the most wealthy counties in the United States; it’s even where former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton reside.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly three-quarters of the county’s 980,000 people are white, the average home rice is more than a half million dollars, the median household income is $90,000 and just 10 percent of the country lives in poverty.  CNBC even ranked the county as the 8th richest county in the U.S. when considering wealth concentration of the area’s richest 1 percent.” Source: Chris Enlow, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the “girl from the Bronx,” raised in one of wealthiest US counties, The Blaze (June 30, 2018).

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, insulted President Trump at the 100-year commemoration of the end of World War One

November 13, 2018

There was a ceremony on Nov. 11, 2018 at the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris to commemorate the more than 8 million persons who died in World War One.  The ceremony was attended by world leaders including President Donald Trump of the United States, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and President Emmanuel Macron of France.  British Prime Minister Theresa May was not there; she chose to attend a ceremony in London that day.

President Macron, who has become unpopular in France, led the ceremonies.  Instead of simply giving tribute to the persons who died in the war, President Macron also used the occasion in an attempt to humiliate President Trump, a nationalist with an “America First” stance.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” President Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying: ‘Our interest first.  Who cares about others?'”

President Trump was stoic during President Macron’s speech but he politely clapped at the end of the speech.  Because President Trump had no speaking role at the ceremony, he did not address President Macron’s insults.  President Trump was friendly with President Putin.

“Mr. Putin . . . seemed focused on Mr. Trump, approaching him at the Arc de Triomphe, shaking his hand and giving him a friendly pat on the arm.”  Source: Peter Baker and Alissa J. Rubin, Trump’s Nationalism, Rebuked at World War I Ceremony, Is Reshaping Much of Europe (The New York Times — Nov. 11, 2018).

On the day before the ceremony, President Macron welcomed President Trump and called him his “good friend.”  President Macron and President Trump shook hands on the steps of the Elysee Palace.  It was President Trump’s second visit to Paris since July 2017, when he arrived as President Macron’s guest of honor at Bastille Day celebrations.

Pat Buchanan called President Macron’s comments at the ceremony “a rebuke bordering on national insult.”  Source: Pat Buchanan, Macron to Trump: “You’re No Patriot!” (Nov. 13, 2018).  Mr. Buchanan also wrote: “As for Trump’s policy of America first, Macron trashed such atavistic thinking in this new age: ‘By saying we put ourselves first and others don’t matter, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.'”

Mr. Buchanan also wrote: “But Trump did not say that other countries don’t matter. He only said we should put our own country first. What country does Emmanuel Macron put first?  Or does the president of France see himself as a citizen of the world with responsibility for all of Europe and all of mankind? . . . But is Macron really addressing the realities of the new Europe and world in which we now live, or is he simply assuming a heroic liberal posture to win the applause of Western corporate and mediate elites?”

Mr. Buchanan noted: “The leaders of the world’s three greatest military powers — Trump in the U.S., Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China — are all nationalists.”

On the Tuesday before the 100-year commemoration, President Macron said on French radio: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia, and even the United States of America.”  President Trump called President Macron’s comments “very insulting.”

“Emmanuel Macron of France suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia,” President Trump tweeted on November 6. “But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two — How did that work out for France?  They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along.”

President Trump later tweeted: “The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. . . . By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people — and rightfully so.”  He then tweeted: “MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!”

“The once close relationship between President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron appears to be on the rocks . . . .”  Source: Bob Bryan, Make France Great Again!: The Trump-Macron bromance appears dead as Trump launches into tirade against the French leader, Business Insider.

Harry Patch, the last surviving British soldier from World War One who died in 2009 at age 111, called the war a “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings”

November 13, 2018

This month, there was a commemoration of the end of World War One, which officially ended at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Harry Patch was the last surviving British soldier from World War One.  He was born on June 17, 1898 in Combe Down, near Bath in Somerset and died on July 25, 2009 at age 111.  “Harry Patch died peacefully in his bed at his residential home in Wells, Somerset, a man who spent his last years urging his friends and many admirers never to forget the 9.7 million young men who perished during the 1914-18 war.” Source: Tracy McVeigh and Mark Townsend, Harry Patch, Britain’s last surviving soldier of the Great War, dies at 111 (The Guardian — July 25, 2009).

“Mr. Patch survived the trenches of Flanders as a machine gunner and suffered severe wounds.  For most of his life he was reticent about the war and his service in it, but after his 100th birthday Mr. Patch began speaking out against the war and the hatreds it engendered.”  Source: Sam Dickson, Remembering Harry Patch (American Renaissance — October 2009).

“Only when he reached 100 could he look back.  His book The Last Fighting Tommy (2007, written with Richard van Emden) found him, at 109, not only the last British soldier to have seen combat on the western front but the oldest first-time author.” Source: Christopher Hawtree, Harry Patch (The Guardian — July 25, 2009).

“He remembered all of those who died and suffered, and every time he was honored he knew it was for all of those who fought,” Mr. van Emden said.  Source: McVeigh and Townsend in The Guardian.

In July 2007, Mr. Patch attended the 90th anniversary commemoration of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres.  British historian A. J. P. Taylor estimated 300,000 British wounded or killed and 200,000 Germans wounded or killed.   Source: A. J. P. Taylor, The First World War: An Illustrated History at 181-82 (1972).

Mr. Patch fought in the battle, which took place on the Western Front from July 31 to November 10, 1917 near the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders.  On September 22, 1917, Mr. Patch was badly wounded in the chest.  He recuperated back in England.

At the 90th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele, Mr. Patch called the war a “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings” and said that “war isn’t worth one life.”  Source: Dickson.  “On the 90th anniversary of the end of the war he attended the remembrance service in London at which his message was, ‘Remember the Germans.'”  Id.  Mr. Patch said: “I . . . will be joining fellow veterans at the Cenotaph on Sun 11 November to remember ALL those killed by the tragedy of war.”

Mr. Dickson wrote: “He said he was a reluctant soldier, noting that when he first came face to face with a German soldier, he could not help thinking of the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ He deliberately shot the German in the shoulder, making him drop his rifle, but the German kept running towards him.  He then shot the man twice in the leg. ‘I had about five seconds to make the decision,’ he said.  ‘I brought him down, but I didn’t kill him.'”

“He was in the trenches at Ypres between June and September 1917, where he and his gang of five machine gunners made a pact not to kill an enemy soldier if they could help it: they would aim for the legs. In September 1917, a shell exploded above Mr. Patch’s head, killing three of his comrades; he was hit by shrapnel in the lower abdomen, but survived.”  Source: McVeigh and Townsend in The Guardian.

“In 1999, he received the Legion d’honneur medal awarded by the French to 350 surviving veterans of the Western Front, dedicating it to his three fallen friends. he revisited the Ypres battlefield and British and German war cemeteries, placing a wreath on a German grave. Mr. Patch fervently believed war was ‘organized murder.’ ‘It was not worth it,’ he said. ‘It was not worth one, let alone all the millions.'” Source: McVeigh and Townsend in The Guardian.

Mr. Patch wrote in The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Trenches: “Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.'”

When Mr. Patch was 110, poet laureate Andrew Motion wrote a poem about him titled “The Five Acts of Harry Patch.”  “It opens . . . with an evocation of an Edwardian summer and, inevitably, closes in the centenarian’s nursing home, with his terror, memory flooded with sniper fire, when staff open the linen cupboard opposition his room. [Mr. Patch said:] ‘All it takes is someone switching on the light — there is that flash . . . .'” Source: Hawtree in the Guardian.

“He would lock himself away and remember his friends,” said author Max Arthur, whose 2005 book Last Post documented the words from the last 21 survivors of the war. “Last week, there was just one; now there is no one alive who has seen what Harry saw in the trenches.  Harry said it was just the most depressing place on earth, hell with a lid on,” he said.  Source: McVeigh and Townsend in The Guardian.

Mr. Patch’s funeral was on Aug. 6, 2009 and was attended by thousands of mourners.  “Honorary pallbearers included two soldiers each from France, Belgium, and Germany, all in full dress uniform,” Mr. Dickson wrote. “A German diplomat was one of the scripture readers at the Anglican service. Mr. Patch would have approved of the inclusion of the Germans.”

Mr. Dickson concluded: “We must foster a sense of our common heritage as European whites and remember as our forefathers did in medieval times that there is a shared, overarching race and culture of all Europeans that binds us to each other even as we remain separate and proud members of different white nations. There must never again be a brothers’ war between our kindred nations.”