Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at 4:47 PM
Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
Kermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia late-term abortionist who was convicted yesterday of killing three newborns with scissors, struck a deal today with prosecutors that will remove the possibility that he'll be put to death for his crimes. Instead, the 72-year-old appears certain to spend the rest of his life behind bars after giving up his right to an appeal. The Associated Press with the details:
Prosecutors agreed to two life sentences without parole, and Gosnell was to be sentenced Wednesday in the death of the third baby, an involuntary manslaughter conviction in the death of a patient and hundreds of lesser counts.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person, and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell's own advanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.
Gosnell was found guilty yesterday of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of what prosecutors said were babies born alive and then killed with scissors at his clinic in West Philadelphia. Jurors also found him guilty of third-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died from a drug overdose during a second-term abortion performed at the since-shuttered Women's Medical Society.
The first-degree murder convictions brought with them the possibility of the death penalty, something that the prosecution had previously suggested they would seek. Ultimately, however, they decided it was better to bring an end to a gruesome case that began more than two years ago when authorities began investigating Gosnell's clinic for prescription drug trafficking.
Elsewhere in Slate: Will Saletan explains how the vast majority of abortion doctors are nothing like Kermit Gosnell.
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at 3:05 PM
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The National Transportation Safety Board, a prominent but not necessarily powerful federal agency tasked with helping to keep American roads and skies safe, offered up nearly 20 recommendations today aimed at reducing drunken driving on U.S. roads. The one that's generating the lion's share of the headlines (and opposition): A push to cut the current blood-alcohol-content level threshold nearly in half, from .08 to .05.
BAC varies by a number of factors, including everything from weight and gender to stomach contents. Roughly speaking, however, a 180-pound man could down four drinks in about 90 minutes and still legally get behind the wheel of a car under the current threshold set in all 50 states. If the limit were to drop to 0.05 percent, that most likely means he'd have to cut himself off after the third drink, according to the New York Times' math. (Obviously, things get even more fuzzy the longer a particular drinking session goes.)Read More »
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at 12:06 PM
Screenshot of the video
Syria's civil war, already a pretty much constant source of gruesome images and horrifying accounts of atrocities on the ground, this week offered it's latest difficult-to-watch, but nearly-impossible-not-to video from the battlefield. The footage, filmed at the end of March but uploaded to the Internet this week, shows a rebel commander calmly using a knife to cut open the chest of what appears to be a dead pro-Assad soldier. The rebel commander then removes one of the dead man's organs—exactly which one is somewhat up for debate—speaks to the camera, and then takes a bite.
"I swear to God, you soldiers of Bashar, you dogs, we will eat from your hearts and livers," the rebel says, according to a translation from Foreign Policy. "O heroes of Bab Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take out their hearts to eat them!" (While the rebel likely believed he was biting into the heart and/or liver, there's a decent chance he was mistaken. A surgeon Time magazine spoke to says that it appears most likely that the organ in question was the dead man's liver.)Read More »
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at 10:59 AM
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
The surveillance camera images may have been blurry, but it didn't take long for New Orleans police to use them to name a suspect in Sunday's shooting, which wounded 19 at a neighborhood Mother's Day parade in the city's 7th ward. Police on Monday identified 19-year-old Akein Scott as the alleged gunman caught on tape fleeing the scene.
Scott, who has previously been arrested for possession of a firearm and narcotics charges, was IDed by several people after the surveillance footage and stills were released, according to police, who say they are now searching for him. Superintendent Ronal Serpas, who called Scott "no stranger to the criminal justice system" late Monday, had no problem issuing a stern and very ominous-sounding warning, as the Associated Press notes:Read More »
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at 10:20 AM
Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2013, at 9:54 AM
Angelna Joile revealed Tuesday that she recently underwent a preventitive double mastectomy
Photo by Alastair Grant/AFP/Getty Images
Angelina Jolie makes news this morning in a New York Times op-ed, revealing that she recently underwent a preventitive double mastectomy to greatly decrease her risk of cancer:
My doctors estimated that I had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer, although the risk is different in the case of each woman. Only a fraction of breast cancers result from an inherited gene mutation. Those with a defect in BRCA1 have a 65 percent risk of getting it, on average. Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could. I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex.
Jolie says that she finished the three months worth of surgeries the procedure involved on April 27, and was able to keep the news out of the media. She is coming forward now, she writes, in the hopes that her experience will help other women. "Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness," she says. "But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action":
I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. ...
For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options. I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.
Posted Monday, May 13, 2013, at 5:37 PM
A same-sex marriage supporter has her forehead painted with rainbow colors as she joins demonstration in front of the Supreme Court on March 27, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Make it an even dozen. Minnesota is set to become the 12th state in the nation to allow gays and lesbians to wed. The Star Tribune with the details from this afternoon's vote in the statehouse:
After about 4 hours of debate, the Minnesota Senate has voted 37-30 to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. The House approved the measure 75-59 last Thursday. The bill will now head to Gov. Mark Dayton, who is likely to sign it into law Tuesday.
Once it becomes official—Dayton has made it clear that he will sign it when it reaches his desk—the North Star State will join 11 others that have already legalized same sex marriage: Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Maryland, New York, and Washington state, along with the District of Columbia.
Today's vote is that much more noteworthy because it was only this past November that gay-marriage advocates were playing defense, successfully campaigning to block an amendment to the state constitution that would have defined marriage as being a union solely between a man and a woman.
Posted Monday, May 13, 2013, at 5:16 PM
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a Justice Department’s Law Day event May 1, 2013 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
The DOJ vs. the AP: Associated Press: "The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a 'massive and unprecedented intrusion' into how news organizations gather the news. The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP. In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters."
The AP's Best Guess: "The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States. In testimony in February, CIA Director John Brennan noted that the FBI had questioned him about whether he was AP's source, which he denied. He called the release of the information to the media about the terror plot an "unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information."Read More »
Posted Monday, May 13, 2013, at 3:28 PM
Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
A Pennsylvania jury this afternoon found longtime abortion provider Kermit Gosnell guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of what prosecutors said were babies born alive and then killed with scissors at his clinic in west Philadelphia. He was found not guilty on a fourth charge of first-degree murder involving a fourth newborn that prosecutors had alleged suffered the same fate.
Gosnell was also found guilty of third-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died during a second-term abortion performed at the since-shuttered Women's Medical Society. The first-degree murder convictions bring with them the possibility of the death penalty for the 72-year-old Gosnell.
Posted Monday, May 13, 2013, at 11:22 AM
Screenshot courtesy of New Orleans police
A shooting at a neighborhood Mother's Day parade in New Orleans on Sunday has left 19 people injured—and police hunting for three suspects who were seen running from the scene. Here's Reuters with the sad details from yesterday:
Ten men, seven woman, a girl and a boy both age 10 were hit when wild gunfire opened up at about 1:45 p.m. as the parade marched along North Villere Street, according to police spokesman Garry Flot. Two victims are undergoing surgery, Flot said in a statement. The children were grazed and are in good condition, he said. It was unclear if the victims were marching or bystanders watching the parade.
Though no arrests have been made at this time, the FBI has already ruled out terrorism, describing Sunday's shooting as "strictly an act of street violence." But it seems that a lot of the details are still missing. Police still don't know why gunfire broke out at the parade in the first place, or whether the gunmen were aiming at someone in the crowd specifically or firing in a more random fashion.
New Orleans police this morning released video and pictures taken at the scene that may eventually help answer those questions. The rough surveillance video shows a crowd—rough estimates put the number of people near the scene at about 200—suddenly scattering as they appear to flee from a man who police believe is likely one of the shooters:
In a news conference, Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the shooting part of "the relentless drum beat of violence" on the streets of New Orleans, saying: "It's a culture of violence that has enveloped the city for a long, long period of time."