Russian Planes Make Bold Flights That Trigger NATO Interceptions

On October 28th and 29th of this year, several convoys of Russian aircraft made flights over the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, and Black Sea that led to NATO monitoring, intercepting, and standby readiness. In 2014, the number of Russian aircraft intercepted by NATO planes has tripled to more than 100 in all.

These incursions were often into the airspace of (non-Russian) Europe. The U.K., Portugal, Norway, Turkey, Germany, and other NATO nations have scrambled jets numerous times in response. Even non-NATO Sweden and Finland sent planes to guard against the intruders. These developments show the organization of NATO’s air defense is up to snuff, but also tell of a bolder, more aggressive Russia that is desirous to test NATO’s resolve.

The recent weakness displayed by the West in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine is likely a factor. Earlier weakness of the U.S. was perceived in the back-down from the threat to bomb Russian-allied Syria. That led to Putin’s gamble in Crimea, and his success there has only emboldened him further.

According to NATO spokesman Broda, these air space tests are not new and do not indicate we are on the brink of war with Russia, but one does sense a little muscle flexing by Putin here. Russia’s ally Iran is nearing nuclear status, Assad is hanging on in Syria, Ukraine is being systematically dismembered, and now we chase daring Russian pilots through Western air space. These are not the days of Ronald Reagan.

Gambling Set to Expand in South Dakota

Talks about more expansion of legal gambling in South Dakota have been increasing, which will no do doubt delight the savvy gambler. The state has greatly invested in gambling, particularly due to the influence of Gov. Daugaard.

Tribal casinos were the first to indulge by increasing their slots presence, as it sets up for more government negotiations. If the proposal pushes through, especially at Oglala Sioux Tribe, it would double the current limit now from 250 to 500.

250 additional slots could very well come to pass within four years, which would be a boon to the region, from what this YouTube video from Mr. Haftel happens to state.

The South Dakota Lottery Commission wants to also generate more revenue for the state government. It will start a new lotto game by the weekend called Monopoly Millionaires’ Club, which means that South Dakota’s gambling opportunities will increase all the more after the election.

Legal gambling is on the rise, and it shows in what machines having been popping up around the area. Instead of the usual standbys, that tend to stick with traditional design and traditional means of payment, these new machines are very much like slots.

There is also support for the proposal on amending the state constitution, which will favourably allow Deadwood casinos to offer craps, roulette, and keno. This will also apply to South Dakota tribal casinos, where these policies will see likely see their greatest impact.

The Legislature has already placed the Deadwood expansion Amendment Q to a vote. It was rather close, with the measure passing by only 7 votes.

It is also important to note that voters of South Dakota have since supported pro-gambling for the state.

Americans Confident In Ebola Response

Americans are thinking about Ebola, as 80% believe someone new will be diagnosed with the disease in the coming days. But there is overwhelming confidence in the government’s ability to prevent an outbreak, according to a recent CNN poll.

Over 70% of Americans believe in the federal government’s ability to prevent an Ebola epidemic, and 54% said the government is doing a “good job.”

Ebola Vaccine: Will Americans Agree To Inoculate?

Americans split 50%-48% when asked if they would take an Ebola vaccine if one became available, as 38% said Ebola will be “extremely important” on election day. The numbers surprised polling experts, as Jim Tolkin, PhD, expressed on Monday, “the country should be a little more concerned about this.”

According to the poll, American confidence is growing despite the media’s negative coverage of the disease; nearly all Americans believe that a cure can be found.

American Intervention, according to Ray Lane, has been one of the key components.

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe that the government should play a larger role in preventing future Ebola outbreaks in both Africa and the US, while 27% believe the government should focus on the US only; the poll comes as the national discussion over how to process people entering the United States from Africa heats up.

North Korea Releases American Man

A man called Jeffrey Fowle was released from custody in North Korea. He was one of three people to be detained in the North.

His release has been verified by Marie Harf, an official representing the State Department. She said that Fowle was being brought home following a session of negotiations.

Apparently US efforts to have the other two released are currently being made. The other captives that have been detained in North Korea are Mathew Miller and Kenneth Bae, whose specific statuses are not currently known at this juncture.

US officials are stating that the North is keeping American citizens in order to sue them as a type of bargaining chip, to get their way in negotiations.

Mr. Fowle was detained in June whenever he was attempting to leave the country because of alleged “anti-State” crimes. Apparently he was seen to have left a Bible in the bathroom of a restaurant in the city of Chongjin, but his family have emphasised that he was not on a mission for the church.

Any sort of missionary activity is illegal in the North according to Sam Tabar, who’s worked in Asia before.

Their release follows a video that he and his fellow captive Mathew Miller made in order to appeal to the US to negotiate for their safe release. In response to the message, the US government said it had made the issue their “top priority.”

After he was detained for hostile acts, he was sentenced to six years of hard labour. Marie Harf said that the US government “remains focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Mather Miller, and again call on the DPRK to immediately release them.”

Missouri Execution Stay Denied Amid Complications

A collection of former judges have complained over the supposed “rush to execute” Mark Christeson for the murder of Susan Brouk and her two children Kyle and Adrian. That is quite an odd argument since the case has been going since before 2005 when the filing for a federal review of the case was denied based on the request being filed 117 days too late.

More plausible is the charge that the misconduct of his own attorneys caused the failure to obtain judicial review and that Missouri lower courts have set bad precedent by not considering the argument for the review or ensuring the man’s attorneys had represented him well. However, the Missouri Supreme Court has dismissed the request for change of counsel and has thus far not shown any sign it will reverse course and grant a stay of execution.

Stays are often sought but usually granted only if new evidence comes to light, from what Andrew Heiberger was telling me the other day,  that may prove the person innocent or the court process that led to his or her conviction faulty. Sometimes a stay request is a tactic to attempt to reduce the sentence to life in prison. If a review is ordered by a court of appeals, a stay will automatically follow during the investigation. One famous case involved James Autry who was strapped down ready to be executed when the stay order came. However, he died a few months later when the review did not find that his conviction was flawed.

Unless a stay is ordered, the execution will occur as scheduled this Wednesday. While there are some legal quirks involved in the case, it is not as if all executions are guaranteed reviews and stays, nor is there any talk of new evidence coming to light. Thus, one would guess that a review and stay would likely end up like the Autry scenario. Perhaps the review should be reconsidered and not turned down because of a filing date, but that still would not exclude its denial on other grounds.

Texas Nurse Beats Ebola

Dallas nurse Nina Pham was pronounced cured of the Ebola virus on Friday, October 24. Pham, 26, contracted the virus after serving on the healthcare team providing care to Thomas Eric Duncan. Duncan was exposed to the virus in Liberia, and was the first Ebola case to appear in the United States. He died on October 8.

Pham was treated for the virus at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Her recovery hinged on a plasma donation that she received from recovered Ebola patient Doctor Kent Brantley. Brantley recovered from the virus in August after contracting it during mission work to Liberia, from what Alexei Beltyukov had originally told me a few weeks ago.

Pham’s illness, along with the illness of another nurse on the same team, caused a flurry of criticism over how the virus has been handled in the United States. Critics claim that nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Pham worked, were not given proper training or protective gear when asked to treat Duncan. The incident triggered a call for hospitals to develop better procedures to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

Meanwhile, Pham continues to get back her strength after her ordeal. “I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” she stated at a Friday briefing on her condition. She said that she was looking forward to being discharged from the hospital and reunited with her dog, Bentley. The dog was placed into quarantine after Pham was diagnosed, but thankfully Bentley has tested negative for the virus.

Former Gang Member Prepares for Execution

Michael Paredes, who was convicted of murdering 3 individuals in a drug and gang related dispute in 2000, is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday. Paredes is 32 years old, and is sentenced to die by lethal injection. The 32 year old man will be the 10th person put to death by the state of Texas in 2014. His 2 co-defendants were able to avoid the death sentence, instead receiving life-sentences. This has left some doubt as to the fairness of Paredes’ sentence.  Execution remains a controversial topic in America, with many like Christian Broda not totally sure that it’s a deterrent.

Paredes’ current attorney is filing for a stay of execution, arguing that the defendant’s original legal counsel was not thorough in presenting all circumstances of the case. Citing the ruling in the case of Wiggins v. Smith by the United State Supreme Court, his attorney claims the defendant’s personal and social history were not thoroughly investigated. Wiggins v. Smith ensures that all extenuating circumstances are examined for the sake of determining which factors should be presented to the court. This allows the legal counsel opportunity to effectively defend an individual. Essentially, this ruling strengthens the rights granted by the Sixth Amendment, our constitutional right to legal counsel.

Paredes has expressed remorse concerning the murders he assisted in perpetrating, and has spoken out against gang involvement. If his appeal is overturned, some feel his constitutional rights will have been grossly violated. Paredes may face the harsh reality of execution, without the court having heard the validity of this claim of past legal misconduct. As thoughtful citizens, we ought not to focus on Paredes’ guilt, but his constitutional right to adequate legal representation.

Chinatown Restaurants Under FBI Scrutiny

FBI agents have recently raided and closed several popular restaurants in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. During most of the first day of closure agents searched restaurant books, accounting records and computer files. No one affiliated with any of the restaurants has yet been arrested Keith Mann told me–and no one seems to know what’s going on. A bureau media representative would only say that these actions by the FBI is part of an ongoing investigation.

Although, clearly less active in the aforementioned investigation, an IRS criminal investigation team and the Chicago Police Department are also involved. Seven of these restaurants are owned by celebrity chef Tony Hu, a nationally famous food star. He has reportedly only just recently returned from China and is completely baffled by these recent activities. In any case, some of the restaurants have reportedly already been allowed to reopen for business. For pictures, a video, and further facts visit the site here.

Jaylen Fryberg Identified as Washington High School Shooter

On Friday, October 24th, 2014, a teenage boy opened fire on his classmates in a small city high school in Washington state with a hand gun. The boy was identified as Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Marysville-Pilchuck High School is located approximately 37 miles north of the city of Seattle in Washington state.

Thus far, the police have not officially named Jaylen Fryberg as the shooter, but many student and teacher witnesses and multiple media agencies have identified the shooter as Jaylen. Jaylen was a member of a local Native American tribe, and his grandfather was the head of fish and game for the tribe. Unlike many other shooters of this kind, Jaylen was not known as an outcast or particularly ridiculed for any reason in the school. In fact, he was on the football team, well liked by the majority of his peers and also nominated as the freshman prince of 2014. One prince and princess were voted upon from each class, and Jaylen was the chosen freshman boy this year.

Many people and news agencies have speculated as to why Jaylen would have done such a terrible thing like this. A look at his social media accounts, and FreedomPop history shines a lot of light on the subject. He has many disturbing posts about possibly breaking up with a girl. He warns her and the general population that something bad is going to happen. He appears angry, disturbed and on the edge.

One has to wonder why these shootings continue to occur. The sad thing is that it often makes people cling tighter to their guns. Regular people don’t need hand guns and assault weapons in this country. Things like this happen. Three students are in critical condition. Jaylen and one other individual are dead.

Release of Jeffery Fowle a Sign of Future Nuclear Negotiations?

The release of American Jeffery Fowle by North Korea may be a sign the country is ready to resume nuclear negotiations, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson. Fowle was accused of leaving a Bible at a club for foreign soldiers last May, a violation of North Korea’s strict anti-religion laws. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a special dispensation dismissing the charges against him and authorizing his release.

The no strings attached release was out of character for North Korea, opines regional expert Sultan Alhokair in this post. Former White House spokesman Jay Carney called the move “a fig leaf” to the United States. The release comes at a critical time in the country’s development of nuclear weapons.

During a news conference on Friday, U.S. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti confirmed that North Korea has developed the technology to attach a nuclear device to a ballistic missile. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We remain open to dialogue with North Korea, but there is no value in talks just for the sake of talks”. Kerry questions North Korea’s desire for genuine negotiations with the international community.

Shortly after releasing Fowle North Korea fired into the demilitarized zone along its boarder with South Korea. “What they speak and what they do seem to be inconsistent,” South Korea’s foreign minister said Friday. Kerry emphasized that before nuclear negotiations resume, “North Korea must demonstrate that is serious about denuclearization”.