Archive for February, 2019

Washington’s Senators Murray and Cantwell refuse to endorse nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but the nominee is confirmed anyway

February 27, 2019


Photo Credit: Tom Williams / Getty Images

Eric D. Miller is a partner at the Seattle law firm of Perkins Coie and a former Law Clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.  On Feb. 26, 2019, Mr. Miller’s nomination by President Donald J. Trump to a position on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 53-46.

Mr. Miller’s home-state Senators are Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell, both Democrats. There is a Senate tradition for both of a judicial nominee’s Senators to consent to the nomination before the nominee is considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  However, both of the Senators did not return the so-called “blue slip” to the Senate Judiciary Committee to show their approval of Mr. Miller.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held the nomination hearing for Mr. Miller during October 2018.  The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-10 in favor of Mr. Miller on partisan lines.  In a letter to Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell sent before the hearing, Sen. Grassley told them that the Senate Judiciary Committee honored the blue slip procedure for nominees to the federal district courts but did not need to honor the practice for nominees to federal appeals courts because the appellate courts hear cases from multiple states.

Sen. Murray and Sen. Cantwell disapproved of Mr. Miller due in part to his membership in the conservative Federalist Society. However,  Mr. Miller had outstanding credentials.  He served as an assistant to the Solicitor General from 2007 to 2012 and was Deputy General Counsel at the Federal Communication Commission from 2006-2007.

Mr. Miller is the first judge confirmed in more than 100 years over the objections of both home-state Senators, said Carl Tobias, a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Richmond School of Law.

On Feb. 25, 2019, Sen. Murray  said on the Senate floor that “my Republican colleagues will apparently stop at nothing to jam President Trump’s extreme conservatives onto the courts — even if that means trampling all over precedent, process or any semblance of our institutional norms.”

Mr. Miller has worked on high-profile cases involving Indian tribal rights.  The National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund publicly opposed Mr. Miller’s nomination.  Nevertheless, the two Indian organization stated in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr. Miller was “a talented attorney with an impressive resume.”

Mr. Miller defended his professional record during his nomination hearing.

“In any of those cases, whether with the government on the sides of the tribe, or in private practice in a number of cases opposed to tribes, my role has been that of an advocate,” Mr. Miller said. “My job as an advocate is not to advance m own views, but to advance the client’s views and to do the most that I can within the bounds of the law to zealously achieve the client’s interests and that’s what I have done.”

Mr. Miller earned his law degree at the University of Chicago Law School with highest honors.  He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with an A.B. in Physics.  Mr. Miller’s private law practice focused on United States Supreme Court and other appellate litigation.  He presented more than 60 appellate arguments including 16 in the United States Supreme Court.  In 2017, Mr. Miller obtained a unanimous decision from the United States Supreme Court establishing that the sovereign immunity of an Indian tribe does not bar damages actions against tribal employees.  Lewis v. Clarke, 137 S.Ct. 1285 (2017).

Mr. Miller will replace Judge Richard C. Tallman, who announced his senior status in March 2018. President Trump nominated Mr. Miller during July 2018. At the same time, President Trump nominated two Seattle attorneys to serve on the federal district court bench: Tessa M. Gorman, an Assistant United States Attorney and Kathleen M. O’Sullivan, a partner in Mr. Miller’s law firm.


Photo Credit: Unknown



Federal judges are appointed for life — not for eternity

February 25, 2019


Photo Credit: Reuters

Judge Stephen Reinhardt was known as the “liberal lion” of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He died on March 29, 2018. On April 9, 2018, 11 days after Judge Reinhardt’s death, the Ninth Circuit handed down a 6-5 en banc opinion that listed Judge Reinhardt as the author of Yovino v. Rizo, 887 F.3d 453 (9th Cir. 2018).

In a footnote at the beginning of the opinion, the Ninth Circuit stated:

“Prior to his death, Judge Reinhardt fully participated in this case and authored this opinion. The majority opinion and all concurrences were final, and voting was completed by the en banc court prior to his death.”

The Ninth Circuit’s opinion was in a lawsuit brought by a woman for alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.  The Ninth Circuit overruled a past opinion of the court and held that a female employee’s prior salary could not be used to justify payment of a lower wage to her.

On Feb. 25, 2019, the United States Supreme Court answered the following question: “May a federal court count the vote of a judge who dies before the decision is issued?”

In a per curiam opinion, the United States Supreme Court noted “it is generally understood that a judge may change his or her position up to the very moment when a decision is released.”  The Court then concluded:

“Because Judge Reinhardt was no longer a judge at the time when the en banc decision in this case was filed, the Ninth Circuit erred in counting him as a member of the majority. That practice effectively allowed a deceased judge to exercise the judicial power of the United States after his death.  But federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity.”

(Emphasis added.) The Court emphsized: “Without Judge Reinhardt’s vote, the opinion attributed to him would have been approved by only 5 of the 10 members of the en banc panel who were still living when the decision was filed.”

The Supreme Court therefore vacated the Ninth Circuit’s opinion.



Penn State is favored to win the 2019 NCAA wrestling championship

February 25, 2019


Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Penquins

Penn State is favored to win the 2019 NCAA wrestling championship which will take place from March 21-23, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena at Pittsburgh.  Penn State, coached by Cael Sanderson, has won the title every years since 2011 except for in 2015 when the Ohio State team coached by Tom Ryan was the champion.

The current rankings are (1) Penn State with a 13-0 season record, (2) Oklahoma State at 14-0, (3) Iowa at 14-0, (4) Michigan at 12-1, (5) Missouri at 15-1, (6) Ohio State at 11-2, (7) Nebraska at 11-5, (8) Minnesota at 14-3, (9) Cornell at 13-2 and (10) North Carolina State at 15-3.

Currently, the Top 10 ranked wrestlers are (1) senior Bo Nickal, 197 pounds, Penn State, (2) senior Jason Nolf, 157 pounds, Penn State, (3) junior Vincenzo Joseph, 165 pounds, Penn State, (4) Alex Marinelli, 165 pounds, Iowa, (5) Yianni Diakomihalis, 141 pounds, Cornell, (6) Spencer Lee, 125 pounds, Iowa, (7) Daniel Lewis, 174 pounds, Missouri, (8) Anthony Ashnault, 149 pounds, Rutgers, (9) Nicholas Piccininni, 125 pounds, Oklahoma State and (10) Gable Steveson, 285 pounds, Minnesota.  The rankings may change due to Piccininni’s pin today of Lee at 125 pounds.

Nickal, Nolf and Joseph of Penn State all won individual championships last year. So far this year, Nickal has won 12 matches by fall, Nolf has won 11 matches by fall and Joseph has won 10 matches by fall.  The other returning NCAA champions are Lee of Iowa and Diakomihalis of Cornell.

In dual meets, with Top 10 teams in boldface, the latest results are:

Feb. 20, 2019 — The Citadel 20, Davidson 18.

Feb. 21, 2019 — Northern Iowa 22, Iowa State 13; Brown 25, Harvard 12

Feb. 22, 2019 — Ohio State 25, Cornell 9; North Carolina State 17, Virginia Tech 16; North Carolina 23, Duke 16; Pittsburgh 20, Virginia 15; Rutgers 24, Maryland 12; Oklahoma 30, South Dakota State 6; Princeton 27, Drexel 13; Arizona State 32, Cal Poly 7; Michigan State 24, Central Michigan 15; American 24, Old Dominion 14; Buffalo 23, Northern Illinois 14; Oregon State 33, Cal Baptist 7; Clarion 18, Edinboro 15; George Mason 28, Hofstra 9; Gardner-Webb 22, Davidson 18

Feb. 23, 2019 — Nebraska 31, Stanford 9; Northwestern 36, SIUE 7; Lock Haven 31, Appalachian State 7; Army 22, Navy 10; Ohio 31, Gardner-Webb 15; Columbia 20, Bucknell 16; CSU Bakersfield 38, Cal Baptist 6; Binghamton 23, Cleveland State 13; Appalachian State 32, Bloomsburg 6; Brown 38, Sacred Heart 3; Columbia 30, Bloomsburg 9; VMI 23, The Citadel 22; Binghamton 22, Kent State 15

Feb. 24, 2019 — Bucknell 35, Bloomsburg 7; Campbell 42, Davidson -1; Old Dominion 23, Drexel 12; Maryland 22, Rider 16; Wisconsin 30, SIUE 15; Central Michigan 20, Purdue 15; Indiana 32, Chattanooga 0; Lehigh 32, Penn 6; Michigan 37, Clarion 6; Penn State 47, Buffalo 3; Oklahoma 20, North Dakota State 18; Oklahoma State 27, Iowa 12.

The Oklahoma State vs. Iowa match involved two undefeated teams, 18 combined ranked wrestlers and 57 combined national titles throughout history. Oklahoma State got pins by Nick Piccininni and Chandler Rogers.  Piccininni pinned Spencer Lee, the defending national champion. Rogers pinned Mitch Bowman. The Cowboys ended their season at 15-0 and extended their all-time record against the Hawkeyes to 29-22-2.

Oklahoma State is the winningest wrestling team in NCAA history and holds 34 national titles to Iowa’s 23.  Before the match, No. 2 Oklahoma State’s biggest challenge came from No. 5 Missouri when the Cowboys pulled off a 19-15 victory.


Latest polls like Sanders and Biden while Las Vegas likes Harris and O’Rourke

February 25, 2019


Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

There have been three recent polls for who will be the nominee of the Democrat Party for President of the United States.

The Emerson College poll, which polled 405 registered New Hampshire voters from Feb. 21-22, 2019, had Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at first with 27 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden second with 25 percent, Sen. Kamala Harris of California third with 12 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts fourth with nine percent and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota fifth with eight percent.  It also had failed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tied for sixth with five percent.  Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had two percent followed by others with about one percent.

The Emerson College poll taken from Feb. 14-16, 2019 had it Biden (27 percent), Sanders (17 percent), Harris (15 percent), Booker and Warren (each nine percent), Klobuchar (five percent) and O’Rourke (four percent).

The Morning Consult poll taken from Feb. 11-17, 2019 put Biden at first (30 percent), Sanders at second (21 percent), Harris at third (11 percent), Warren at forth (eight percent) and O’Rourke at fifth (seven percent). Booker was sixth (five percent) and Klobuchar was seventh (four percent).

On Dec. 27, 2018, The Hill ranked the top 15 Democratic presidential candidates in 2020 as (1) Warren, (2) Sanders, (3) Booker, (4) Klobuchar, (5) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, (6) Michelle Obama, (7) Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, (8) Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, (9) Biden, (10) Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, (11) Harris, (12) Hillary Clinton, (13) former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, (14) Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and (15) Oprah Winfrey.

On Feb. 21, 2019, the Democrat Nominee for the 2020 Election Las Vegas Odds were Harris (+300), O’Rourke (+400), Biden (+600), Sanders (+800), Klobuchar (+ 900), Warren (+1000), Gillibrand (+1500), Booker (+1600), Hilary Clinton (+1800) and Oprah Winfrey (+1800).  For example, if you successful wagered $100 on Harris you would win $300 and if you successfully waged $100 on Clinton or Winfrey you would win $1,800.



Things to know about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal

February 24, 2019


Photo Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was born on Oct. 13, 1989 in the Bronx. At age 29 she now represents New York’s 14th Congressional District.  She is often referred to by her initials — AOC — and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.  She had never held elective office before handily beating 10-term incumbent Joseph “Joe” Crowley (D-NY) during the most recent Mid-Term Elections.

AOC’s late architect father, Sergio Cortez-Roman, who died in 2008 from lung cancer, was of Puerto Rican descent and was born in the Bronx.  Her mother, Blanca Ocasio-Cortez (born Blanca Iris Cortez Rivera) was born in Puerto Rico.  AOC’s parents were married in Puerto Rico.

The new Congresswoman worked in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) foreign affairs and immigration office in 2008 while attending Boston University.  She graduated from Boston University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and international relations.

AOC has made numerous comments that were deemed problematic to officials at Boston University including accusing the United States of invading Puerto Rico and forcing it to be a colony — even though the Treaty of Paris signed in 1893 guaranteed the independence of Cuba and forced Span to cede Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States.  During July 2018, Professor Dilip Mookherje, Director of the Institute for Economic Development, released a statement:

“Alexandria’s recent comments have raised concerns about her credentials. While we do encourage socialism in our curriculum, her lack of understanding of history, current events, and most especially economics has been a cause for alarm. Faculty and staff are concerned that her highly publicized ignorance could result in damage to the university’s reputation.”

After graduating from college, AOC she returned to the Bronx where she volunteered for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential Democratic primary campaign.  She also worked as a bartender at Flats Fix, a taco and tequila bar on East 16th Street in New York.  While most of the staff have nice things to say about her, one waitress has a bad memory of working with AOC during the busy Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2017.  At the end of the night, when it came time to split the $560 in tips that AOC received at the bar, she gave the waitress only $50. After the waitress complained to the manager, the waitress was given $100.

Source: Richard Johnson, Ex coworker no fan of Democrat darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Page Six (July 1, 2018).

During AOC’s campaign for Congress, she convinced voters that based upon her ethnicity and her “working-class” roots she was the most qualified to represent her Congressional District.  AOC did not live in the projects.  Since age two she lived in a three-bedroom home in Yorktown Heights, purchased by her father. Yorktown Heights is a suburb of New York City located in wealthy Westchester County.  The demographic in the town AOC grew up in is 90 % white and 5 % Hispanic-Latino.  Westchester County is one of the most wealthy counties in the United States and is where former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton reside.

On Feb. 7, 2019, AOC — together with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — introduced a “Green New Deal” House of Representatives non-binding resolution.  It called for a “10-year national mobilization” toward accomplishing a series of goals including:

*    Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.

*    Eliminating  fossil fuels entirely and to transition away from nuclear energy.

*    Upgrading all existing buildings in the country to energy efficiency.

*    Working with farmers to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions while promoting universal access to healthy foods.

*    Overhauling transportation systems including expanding electric car manufacturing, building “charging stations everywhere” and expanding high-speed rail to “a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”

*    Guaranteeing a job “with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security” for every American.

*    Guaranteeing economic security “to all who are unable or unwilling to work.”

*   Providing “high-quality health care” for all Americans through a Medicare-for-All Plan.

AOC told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Medicare for all . . . would save the American people a very large amount of money.” Others have said that universal Medicare would cost more than $30 trillion.

On Feb. 17, 2019, during an appearance of “Meet the Press,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized AOC for her role in Amazon discontinuing its plans to make a large investment in New York City in exchange for $3 billion in tax incentives.  Host Chuck Todd played a video clip showing AOC’s reaction to Amazon’s cancellation of plans to build an office complex in Long Island City. She stated:

“If we were willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves, if we wanted to.  We could hire more teachers. We can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money, if we wanted to.”

OAC’s comments caused President Trump to tweet: “Will someone please explain to me how it is possible for NYC to SPEND a $3 Billion tax break on anyway?”

A Times Square billboard mocked OAC for her celebration of Amazon’s decision to cancel its plans to build a new headquarters in New York City.  The billboard stated: “25,000 Lost NYC Jobs / $4 Billion in Lost Wages / $12 Billion in Lost Economic Activity for NY / Thanks for Nothing, AOC!”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) said on Feb. 22, 2019 that it was “too early” to tell if OAC would help the state of New York.

Further demonstrating her socialist bent, OAC told a group on March 9, 2019 at the South by Southwest conference in Austin that “capitalism is irredeemable.”

“Capitalism is an ideology of capital — the most important thing is to concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit” to her “capitalism is irredeemable.”

Radio talk host Michael Savage refers to OAC as “Occasional Cortex.”

Cartoon Credit: Ben Garrison

If a child does not receive the measles vaccine does the child pose a risk to other children?

February 24, 2019


Photo Credit: National Vaccine Information Center

Legislators in the state of Washington are the latest to attempt to pass a law to remove exemptions for childhood vaccinations.   USA Today reported:

“Amid a measles outbreak that has sickened more than 50 people in the Pacific Northwest, Washington lawmakers heard testimony on Friday on a bill that would remove parents’ ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption to opt their school-age children out of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Hundreds of people opposed to the measure lined up more than an hour before the start of the hearing before the House-Health Care and Wellness Committee, many wearing stickers with the bill number, HB 1638, within a crossed out circle. . . . Most of the Washington cases are concentrated in Clark County, just north of Portland, Oregon.  The measure . . . has the support of the state medical association and Gov. Jay Inslee.  Inslee declared a state of emergency last month.”

Source: Hundreds protest against Washington state vaccine bill that would require measles shots, USA Today (Feb. 11, 2019).  Opponents testifying against the bill included Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who questioned safety standards around vaccines.  USA Today reported:

“Four percent of Washington secondary school students have non-medical vaccine exemptions, according to the state Department of Health. Of those, 3.7 percent of the exemptions are personal, with the remainder being religious exemptions. In Clark County, 6.7 percent of kindergartners had a non-medical exemption for the 2017-18 school year, according to health officials.  Washington is among 17 states, including Oregon, that allow some type of non-medical exemption for vaccines for “personal, moral or other beliefs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.”

The question arises whether the elimination of vaccine exemptions, which are currently used by only a small percentage of families, will significantly prevent the outbreak of measles.  A Harvard and Stanford-trained immunologist wrote an “Open Letter to Legislators” setting forth data to show that unvaccinated children do not pose a higher threat to the public than children who are vaccinated.  Source: Testimony Before the Vermont Senate Health & Welfare Committee (April 22, 2015).

The author of the letter was Tetyana Obukhanych, who earned her Ph.D. in Immunology from Rockefeller University.  She did laboratory research as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Stanford University School of Medicine.  Dr. Obukhanych wrote in her letter to legislators:

“It is often stated that those who choose not to vaccinate their children for reasons of conscience endanger the rest of the public, and this is the rationale behind most of the legislation to end vaccine exemptions currently being considered by federal and state legislators country-wide.  You should be aware that the nature of protection afforded by many modern vaccines — and that includes most of the vaccines recommended by the CDC for children — is not consistent with such a statement.”

Dr. Obukhanych further wrote:

“I have outlined below the recommended vaccines that cannot prevent transmission of disease either because they are not designed to prevent the transmission of infection (rather, they are intended to prevent disease symptoms), or because they are for non-communicable diseases. People who have not received the vaccines mentioned below pose no higher threat to the general public than those who have, implying that discrimination against non-immunized children in a public school setting may not be warranted.”

One study cited by Dr. Obukhanych was from Quebec, Canada.  It showed that persons who are vaccinated for measles can spread measles and can contract measles.  The study was about by a large measles epidemic took place in 2011 in Quebec.  A teacher in his 30s, who had been vaccinated for measles, returned to Canada from a trip to the Caribbean.  Public health officials concluded that the teacher’s importation of measles from the Caribbean resulted in 678 cases of measles in the teacher’s home community.  Of those persons who contracted measles, most had been vaccinated for measles. It was determined from vaccine coverage surveys in Quebec in 2006, 2008 and 2010 that by 24 months of age approximately 96 percent of children had received one dose and approximately 85 percent had received two does of measles vaccine. Source: G. De Serres, F. Markowski et al., Largest measles epidemic in North America in a decade — Quebec, Canada, 2011: contribution of susceptibility, serendipity, and superspreading events, J Infect Dis 207:990-98 (March 15, 2013).

Dr. Obukhanych stated that outbreaks of measles cannot be entirely prevented even if there is near perfect vaccination compliance.

Richard Pan, M.D., MPH, a state senator in California, is a proponent of eliminating exemptions for vaccines.  TIME Magazine called Dr. Pan a “hero” who authored “landmark legislation to abolish non-medical exemptions to legally required vaccines to school students, thereby restoring community immunity from preventable contagions.”

On April 12, 2017, a report by Dr. Pan stated:

“The results posted today by CDPH [California Department of Public Health] show that the proportion of kindergarten students who received the required vaccines dramatically rose from 93 percent during the 2015-16 school year, to 96 percent during the 2016-17 school year, a rate above the 94 percent rate needed to prevent measles transmission.”

One must immediately question whether an increase from 93 percent to 96 percent is actually a dramatic increase.

F. Edward Yazbak, M.D., who practiced pediatrics and was a school physician in Northern Rhode Island for 34 years, is a nationally recognized expert on childhood vaccines. He was formerly the Assistant Clinical Director of the Charles V. Chapin Hospital, a specialized infectious disease hospital, and Director of Pediatrics at Woonsocket Hospital in Rhode Island.  Dr. Yazbak suggested that vaccinating some foreign travelers would be more effective to contain measles infections than abolishing exemptions for school students. Discussing Dr. Pan’s work, Dr. Yazbak stated:

“Without mentioning measles by name, Dr. Pan appeared to suggest that the 2014-15 measles outbreak in California was somehow related to philosophical exemptions and poor pediatric among KG [kindergarten] students necessitating the introduction of SB 277.  Once more he had jousted against another windmill.”

Source: F. Edward Yazbak, Fighting Windmills in California (May 30, 2017).

(Accessed at:

Dr. Yazbak cited an “Original Research” report: E. Hyle, S. Rao et al., Missed Opportunities for Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination Among Departing U.S. Adult Travelers Receiving Pretravel Health Consultations, Annals of Internal Medicine of the American College of Physicians (May 16, 2017).  Dr. Yazbak noted: “The authors of the ‘Original Research’ report, all attached to distinguished hospital and universities, clearly stated that: ‘Measles outbreaks continue to occur in the United States and are mostly due to infections in returning travelers’ and not to foreign visitors or a magic percentage of California or US children.”

(Emphasis added.) Dr. Yazbak noted that the research report concluded: “Of U.S. adults travelers who presented for pretravel consultation . . . 16% met criteria for MMR vaccination according to the provider’s assessment, but fewer than half of these travelers were vaccinated. An increase in MMR vaccination of eligible U.S. adult travelers could reduce the likelihood of importation and transmission of measles virus.”

Dr. Yazbak noted that Annals of Internal Medicine has been called: “Among the five most widely cited medical journals in the world [and] sets the standard for evidence-based, practice relevant information.”


Dr. Yazbak also noted that the E. Hyde, S. Rao et al. research report was accompanied by an editorial by Lori K. Handy, M.D., and Paul A. Offit, M.D.: Why Aren’t International Travelers Vaccinated for Measles?, Annals of Internal Medicine (May 16, 2017). Dr. Handy is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University.  Dr. Offit is Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Yazbak noted that Dr. Handy and Dr. Offit reported in their editorial:

“Before a vaccine against measles was introduced, 500,000 cases occurred each year in the United States, resulting in 500 deaths, 48,000 hospitalizations, and 1,000 cases of permanent brain damage from encephalitis.  Endemic measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000, but sporadic outbreaks have occurred since then because of importation of the virus from other countries.  In 2014, the United States had the largest single outbreak of measles (667 cases) in more than 20 years because of infected travelers returning from abroad combined with the low vaccination rate of certain U.S. populations.  This outbreak was linked to travel to the Philippines, which was in the midst of a measles epidemic.  In 2015, a multistate outbreak associated with Disneyland was the result of a park visitor who had traveled overseas. 188 cases were reported that year. Importations remain the source of measles transmission in the United States, and persons visiting travel clinics present an opportunity to reduce or eliminate these cases.”

(Emphasis added.)  Dr. Yazbak stated that Dr. Handy and Dr. Offit “clearly were not talking about KG vaccination rates.”  Dr. Yazbak added:

“The related Editorial by Handy and Offit should make reasonable people wonder whether Dr. Pan’s elation was justified and whether indeed a 1 or 2 % increase in vaccination in Kindergarten was going to actually prevent infectious disease outbreaks and as Dr. Pan promised ‘restore community immunity throughout our state in the coming years.'”

Dr. Yazbak concluded:

“Like everywhere else, there are a multitude of serious issues confronting California.  The relatively small number of pediatric vaccination exemptions does not appear to be the state’s gravest challenge.  Maybe Senator Pan can forget the windmills and concentrate on discovering what is really causing California Mega-Epidemic of Autism.”


Photo Credit: Alliance for Human Research Protection




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

February 10, 2019


Photo Credit: Matt Blum

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.”


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).

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

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?

UPDATE ON COURT PROCEEDINGS: On Feb. 21, 2019, three of the persons accused of killing Mr. Yorlets were evicted from a juvenile court hearing.  Wright, 16, Lewis, 15 and McKnight, 14, were laughing, talking and turning around in their seats after their lawyers and court staffers told them to be quiet. Juvenile Court Magistrate Mike O’Neil finally ordered them removed from the courtroom due to their behavior.  “I don’t think they’re very interested. They’ve been sitting there like they’ve been sitting on the playground,” Magistrate O’Neil said. Michie Gibson, the lawyer for one suspect, said: “We’re dealing with children and they might not appreciate or understand the seriousness of what happened.”  Source: Adam Tamburin, Teens charged in Kyle Yorlets’ shooting told to leave courtroom after talking, Tennessean, (Feb. 22, 2019).

UPDATE ON MR. YORLETS: The obituary for Mr. Yorlets stated that he was born on Nov. 18, 1994 at Camp Hill, PA and was the son of Larry J. and Debra (Reese) Yorlets of Carlisle, PA. In addition to his parents, he is survived by two sisters: Mackenzie Yorlets of Herndon and Melissa Negley of Carlisle, and one brother: Jonathan Detman of Mt. Holly Springs.  He is also survived by his paternal grandfather, Paul H. Yorlets of Carlisle, and his soul-mate, Faith Gipson of Grand Junction, CO. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews and extended family members.  His funeral was on Feb. 16, 2019 at Carlisle Evangelical Free Church in Carlisle. He was buried at Waggoner’s United Methodist Church Cemetery in Carlisle.


Photo Credit: Nashville Metro Police


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

February 9, 2019


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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 Los 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).


Photo Credit: Oliver Jean / La Presse

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

February 9, 2019


Photo Credit: Mike Gentry / UPI

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.

UDATE AFTER THE RACE: The 2019 Daytona 500 was won by Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing, who started from Position No. 6.  Hamlin won for the second time in four years. The pole positions went to Kyle Busch of Job Gibbs Racing and Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports.  There were five car crashes in the last 20 laps including one of which involved 21 cars.  The 21-car crash caused 10 cars to be knocked out of the race.  Only 19 of the 40 cars were running at the end of the race.  There were 15 lead changes among nine different drivers. The race lasted 3 hours, 45 minutes and 55 seconds.  The average speed for the winning car was 137.4 miles per hour.  In addition to Hamlin, the top five finishers were (2) Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing, (3) Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing, (4) Joey Logano of Team Penske and (5) Michael McDowell of Front Row Motorsports. It was a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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

February 9, 2019


Photo Credit: Joe Metz / Coglianese Photos

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.


Photo Credit: Gulfstream Park