Who is H.H. Charles


H. H. Charles, is a pseudonym for Charles H. Helein, who is a practicing lawyer in Washington, D.C. His first novel No Escape - A Maze of Greed and Murder is about dirty politics and murder in Washington, D.C. His second novel also draws on his experience working and living in the D.C. area. It is based on facts of how big business gets its way in Washington through money, influence, cover ups, and when necessary, murder. His next novel is about gun violence and the NRA lobby.

Mr. Helein began his career with the United States Senate, having been chosen from the top law school graduates in 1963 from his home state of Missouri. He served as Assistant General Counsel to the United States Senate's Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During his tenure, the principal legislation governing all the federal agencies, the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 was revised and of particular note, the Freedom of Information Act was enacted opening up government records to the press, scholars and the public.

After leaving the Senate, Mr. Helein worked for a brief period with a firm that represented Motorola which at the time was in need of more radio spectrum for its mobile radios. Due in part to his efforts in gathering the facts to support the need for spectrum, the FCC did expand the use of radio spectrum for mobile communications.

Until 1993, Mr. Helein was a partner in several large law firms, while also serving as General Counsel to a national trade association. In 1993, he founded his own law firm which he ran until November 2011. While he continues to practice his profession, he found more time to devote to writing, a keen interest he developed some twenty years earlier but could not afford the time to pursue. With more time at his disposal, his first book, No Escape - A Maze of Greed and Murder, was published in October 2013. This was followed quickly by Dark Corridors - A Labyrinth of Lies, Loss, Lust and Murder, published in April 2014. The manuscript for his third book, Seeds of Anarchy - A Harvest of Indifference was completed in December 2014 and is being circulated to publishers.

Based on his experience as a lawyer practicing in Washington, D.C., while Mr. Helein's books deal with issues that are are not only current, but have proven to be intractable - drugs, government duplicity and gun violence. While Mr. Helein's takes on each issue , his focus is on the people who are confronted and affected by them. What happens to the characters in each book as they react and attempt to deal with the issues that personally impact their lives and loves is told in a fast-paced, tense narrative with unpredictable unfolding of events filled with action, betrayal, love, lust, loss, corruption, deception and murder. There are enough twists and turns that some have likened the novels to those of Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy.

To reach a broader audience, Mr. Helein believes that issues of importance and concern about them must reach as broad an audience as possible. He believes that history teaches that in many cases, to reach a broader audience the issue must be dramatized through the mediums of novels, plays, films, in short the arts. Mr. Helein believes this view is supported by such iconic works as To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens to name but a few. Mr. Helein by no means to imply his work is comparable to these great authors. They are cited simply as precedent supporting his thesis. As a lawyer, such citations are fundamental to the legal profession.

Mr. Helein intends to continue to take on other issues that he perceives to be of broad public concern and importance. For example, the tax exemption status of the NRA (noted far more for its intense lobbying efforts against any common sense gun regulation than for charitable or social welfare efforts); the indifference of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Presidency to the people of this country, that, unseen by those in power, channels the same elite indifference that propelled the events of 1789; and the fear mongering and bigotry on immigration that has made a mockery of the principles engraved on the Statute of Liberty - "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores."

The Cost of Incarceration - Massachusetts
Thursday, April 16, 2015

A recent newspaper reported that the State of Texas executed a San Antonio man who fatally shot a SWAT team member more than 14 years ago.  The average annual cost per inmate in Texas is $21,390 a year.  Texas taxpayers therefore paid $299,460 in costs to support this convict plus the cost for his ultimate execution.

Now, if the Boston Bomber is given life instead of the death penalty, a reasonable estimate of the cost could be projected as follows. Felon age 20, life expectancy age 70 means incarceration for 50 years.

Massachusetts annual per inmate cost is $41,394 x 50 years = $2,069,700.  Certainly these tax dollars could be better spent on rehabilitating inmates who show remorse and may be committed to becoming a productive citizen or to any other worthy cause rather than to provide room and board to a terroist. 

The Penalty For Depraved Multiple Murders
Thursday, April 09, 2015

The penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is death.  His acts were depraved and he has no remorse for the victims he killed and injured.  Moreover, there are other reasons that the death penalty is more than justified.  He considers himself a hero based on the demented notion that Americans are Satans and deserve to be killed whether randomly or with a singular purpose. He is taught that death in combating the Satans will be rewarded with numerous virgins in a paradise.  And lastly, a life sentence would be his final revenge by making U.S. taxpayers pay for his living another 60 years.  To those who would argue that his death makes him a martyr, that just doesn't hold water.  Those who follow his and his brother's murderous creed do not need his "martyrdom" as an incentive to attempt to commit more mass murders. 

The death penalty should be used sparingly and only against the most depraved killers.  But there must be a death penalty.  And it should, in this case, not be delayed for years by useless appeals, but enforced promptly.

Celibacy and Ordination of Women?
Monday, March 16, 2015

CELIBACY VERSUS THE TESTAMENTS

In Genesis, at the beginning of creation, God created man and shortly thereafter decided it was not good for him to be alone and therefore created woman.

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a suitable partner for him.  So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, … but none proved  to be the suitable partner for the man. (Genesis 18-20)

So the Lord God … took one of his ribs … then built [it] up into a woman… When He brought her to the man, the man said:

This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken. (Genesis 21-23)

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. (Genesis 24).

In response to His disciples question, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, [that is “whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”] He said:

Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted.  Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever can accept ought to accept it. (Matthew 19, 9-13).

Second Thoughts: It seems fair to say that God’s plan from the beginning was that man was to be made whole by being with woman. 

And Christ made it clear that the choice of marriage or not, i.e., being with a woman or not, was just that, a choice not a command.

So the argument can be made that the policy of celibacy is not of God’s doing, but of man’s and as such is contrary to God’s plan.

ORDINATION OF WOMEN

There is nothing in the Gospels or Epistles that forbids the ordination of women. But the hierarchy remains adamant against ordaining women.

Second Thoughts: God chose a woman’s body to be the tabernacle to house His only Son’s entry into the world. God spared that women’s body from the corruption following death by having it assumed into heaven. Therefore, the only  human body that exists in heaven is Mary’s. 

In addition, when Christ was crucified, His only followers that were present at Golgotha were women.

After His resurrection, the first to go to His tomb were women, Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary.  The angel greeted these women and they were the first to be informed that the Lord had risen as He said. It was these women also that the risen Christ met first on their way to tell the others of His resurrection. (Matthew 28, 1-10)

If God can subscribe so much equality of importance to women, and if women showed such courage and devotion to the Lord at His death, if women were the first to hear the news of His resurrection and told to tell the others, by what logic or common sense does a body of men have to exclude women from a fuller role in the Church?  By refusing to change, is not the hierarchy ignoring God’s Own Regard for women and their importance and equality in His Sight?

Economics 101
Sunday, March 15, 2015

One definition of "economics" states it to be a science that deals with production, distribution, and consumption of commodities or of wealth.  "Science" is defined as the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.

Question then.  Would those that invest in producing and distributing  commodities want to increase their consumption in order to create more wealth for themselves? To increase consumption, is it not necessary that those who would consume have the resources needed to consume, that is, purchase, the commodities produced and available for distribution? 

If the logical answers to these questions is "yes," then would not sound economic policy, correct and accurate economic "science" seek a system that would provide for the wider and larger distribution of the resources necessary to create a larger and more universal ability to consume?   

If logic indicates that the answer to this question is yes, then how might that affect the question of raising the minimum wage? How might it affect the question of immigration? 

If the minimum wage is increased, the large number of those earning that wage would have more disposable income to spend, to consume. That consumption would redound to the benefit of those producing and distributing everything from autos to washer/dryers?  

It also might be asked if any economists have undertaken a study of the effect on this country's economy if the minimum wage were raised?  If such a study or studies have been done, have the results been circulated so they reach a major segment of the voting public?  This author has not seen such a study and would be grateful if directed to where one or more could be found.

Similarly, what would be the economic impact of "deporting" 11 million immigrants?  Putting aside the political issues, it would seem that doing so would have surprising economic consequences that would be adverse to the country's economy. Again, this author has not seen such a study or commentary and would be grateful if directed to where one or more could be found.

Very Clever Humor – “For Whom the Bells Toll”
Monday, April 28, 2014

Fred was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young ‘pullets,’ and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs. He kept records, and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced. But this took a lot of time, so he bought some tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell had a different tone, so he could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing.  Now, he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

Fred’s favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning he noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all!  When he went to investigate, he saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming,  would run for cover. To Fred’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring. He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

Fred was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Brisbane City Show and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.  The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Piece Prize,” but they also awarded him the “Pulletsurprise” as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards   on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention. 

Vote carefully in the next election, you can’t always hear the bell.

Background
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

            I have authored three novels that were self-published. The first two were published using a pseudonym, H. H. Charles. The third used my own name, but it is being republished and will use the pseudonym, as will all future published works. “Helein” is just too hard for most folks to pronounce or spell and hence harder still to remember.

            Some background. As a lawyer, my practice was based on writing—pleadings, contracts, opinions, advice letters, and such. I remember reading years ago about Scott Turow who wrote a best seller, and I was immediately jealous. While I thought about writing and wondered if I could, I didn’t attempt to do so—too busy with family and earning a living.

            But then my son went to Virginia Tech and majored in film. He graduated first in his class and he and his long-time friend wanted to be Steven Spielberg. For some reason I had an idea for a movie about drugs and legalizing them to take the profit out of dealing as an idea to make the war on drugs more effective. So, I offered to prepare an outline my son could use to write a screenplay. I started on the outline and found it difficult to do.

            So I changed focus and started to write. What was surprising was that it was much easier to do. One of my concerns was whether I could write dialogue. But once I got started, things flowed. It was surprising. One thing just led to another and the chapters flowed despite the fact that I would rise at 3 am to work on the novel since I was practicing full time.

            I completed the book and sent it to a major agency in Los Angeles. As an unknown and being uninitiated in the book publishing world, I was fortunate to simply get a response. The response was dismissive, so obviously dismissive, that I knew the agent responding hadn’t read a word. His dismissal was intended to tell me “do not bother me again you ‘unknown you.’”

            Then I had a similar experience. This time it was the father of a very sharp and successful businesswoman who was renting office space from my law firm. He had been published. So after I had her read the manuscript, she had her father read it. Long story short, I had lunch with him, and he was negative, hinting not too subtlety that he wasn’t a fan, advising me that I should write about what I know. Well, I did write about what I knew. Being a lawyer, I was able to do a lot of research to ensure the book was fact-based. I concluded his comments were based on a different type of dismissiveness than the L.A. agent. I could be wrong, but the impression I got was he didn’t like the fact that I had written a book and for whatever reason didn’t want me to do so again.

            Being unable to pound the pavement to umpteen publishing houses, I put the manuscript away. It was on discs. This was in 1988. Years passed, and in 2012 or 2013, after withdrawing from the law firm I started in 1993, I came across the CDs containing the manuscript. I opened one to see what was on it and read what turned out to be part of the manuscript I had written so many years earlier.

I said to myself, “This is good. Did I write this?” Further investigation proved I did. So, I decided that given I wasn’t practicing law full time, I would review the manuscript and update it. And I did. The updated manuscript was then sent to a publishing house and my first novel, No Escape: A Maze of Greed and Murder was published.

Since then I have had two other novels published. I will provide background on how they came about in a later BLOG. Right here, I want to share the comments of those who have actually read the three novels I have written.

First Novel – No Escape: A Maze of Greed and Murder

“Yesterday, my neighbor … [wanted] to read a book … I told him to wait and got yours [No Escape: A Maze of Greed and Murder] for him to read. He came back that evening to return it, and I jokingly said he was a fast reader. He said, ‘It’s easy when it reads that well.’ He really enjoyed it. Just wanted to let you know some feedback.” Linda H.

“There are so many twists and turns in the story [No Escape] it reads like Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy.” Reviewer on READ THIS at http://youtu.be/Wq_aq7AkRc.

“We were traveling this weekend … The travel time gave me the needed ‘down’ time to dig into your book. I LOVE it … it is amazing work. Your detail and development of the characters and plot—outstanding. I’ll be giving it out for Christmas presents … Look forward to … digging into your future masterpieces. Bravo!” Jane S.

“Chuck, my head is spinning since I read the first chapter. It gets far more complex afterwards! How do you visualize precise details of the different scenarios you lay out … I don’t know about your legal talents, but you sure are a fine writer.” Arvind J.

“Great review [the READ THIS video trailer] I am going to mail our copy to you for signature. Movie means at least $1 million to the author. Can it be made into a series for Masterpiece Theater?” Arvind J.

“Chuck, I’m completely impressed and in awe. As an inveterate reader, I’ve always wondered how authors do it. How do they sit down and create wonderful books that draw the reader in? I can’t wait to talk to you about [it] … the book is … very gripping and readable. I’m going to … have you autograph it for me …” Carol P.

Second Novel - Dark Corridors: A Labyrinth of Lies, Lost, Lust and Murder:

In response to notice that my second novel, Dark Corridors: A Labyrinth of Lies, Lost, Lust and Murder was released, Linda H. wrote, “I can’t wait to get it.”

Also, Michael H. wrote, “Chuck, you are a writing machine … can I get a cover of Dark Corridors autographed … so I can frame it … a nice idea for all of your books.”

David S. commented, “you are a ‘machine.’”

David S. also commented, “I can’t wait to read it. You are clearly a prolific and talented writer and we should certainly chat about the move/script potential for your work … Michael is right … you are a writing machine.”

Jane S., commenting on the video trailer for Dark Corridors, “Looks good! I just ordered from Amazon—now I have my summer reading.”

Third Novel – Seeds of Anarchy: Harvest of Indifference:

“I am LOVING Seeds of Anarchy … You're a great writer …” Maria W.

All Three Novels

“Your character development is superb and your pace and mystery are solid, and the sexual interests are a fun addition.” Kenn S.

 

Background on Dark Corridors: A Labyrinth of Lies, Loss, Lust and Murder
Saturday, October 15, 2016

Here’s the background on how Dark Corridors: A Labyrinth of Lies, Loss, Lust and Murder came to be written.

The book is based in part on actual events involving a proceeding before the Federal Communications Commission for approval of a mega merger in the telecommunications arena.

I represented a client who commented on the proposed merger and through that representation met an individual who was a minority shareholder in one of the companies involved in the merger. This individual waged a lonely war trying to protect the interests of minority shareholders from being lost if the merger was to be approved. Despite his untiring efforts, he did not succeed. After the merger was approved and closed, I suggested he write a book about his efforts and how they were deliberately ignored by the Commission decision makers and by the management of the merger companies.

He did in fact make a video documentary of sorts about his efforts and what happened to the interests of minority shareholders as a result of the merger. But he did not write a book about his experiences. So I decided to do so.

Among the challenges in doing so was the need to avoid writing a book that would read like a legal brief, yet at the same time covering the actions, decisions, conspiracies and complicities of corporate management, government officials and class action lawyers.

The subtitle, “A Labyrinth of Lies, Loss, Lust and Murder” is based partially on the “Lies” engaged in by the major players and the personal “Loss” of the central character. The intrepid efforts of the real minority shareholder on whom Chase Michaels’ character is based caused the break-up of his marriage. 

The “Lust” and “Murder” are purely fictional, necessary to make for a readable story. However, the personas of the corporate big wigs, the duplicity and misfeasance of high ranking government officials and the unethical, self-serving practices of class action lawyers are all based on real individuals involved in the actual merger proceedings on which the book is based.

Recent Court Decisions and The Book of Daniel (soon to be published)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On October 17, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the death penalty appeal of Clark Elmore, convicted in 1995, of raping and killing his girlfriend’s fourteen-year-old daughter in Washington state.

Elmore in a tape confession admitted he attacked the fourteen-year-old when she threatened to report her for molesting her when she was younger. And after raping and killing her and dumping her body near Lake Samish, he criticized law enforcement for doing too little to find the girl. He even organized a search party to look for her.

Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented based on their view that his public defender lawyer failed to investigate evidence Elmore had brain damage. As a result, they argued, the jury did not hear that Elmore played in pesticide-contaminated field as a child and handled Agent Orange pumps in Vietnam without wearing protective gear.

The Court may be asked to reconsider.

Question. A fourteen-year-old girl is brutalized and murdered. The murderer was lucent enough to pretend he was concerned and took steps to cover up his crime. He later confesses. He is sentenced and has lived for twenty-one years, seven years already more than his young victim. The puzzle is how can one who molested a child for so long that she finally had the courage to threaten him with exposure and responded not just by killing her for fear of being turned in but first raped her and remained clever enough to criticize the police and pretend he was concerned possibly be considered after twenty-one years to suffer from brain damage?

Reasonable people can disagree, and the forth coming publication of The Book of Daniel will address whether such heinous criminals deserve to live out their lives and their victims’ suffering, fear, and loss of life are simply to be forgotten.

In another decision on the death penalty, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that state’s death penalty unconstitutional. But the grounds were not based on the 8th Amendment’s bar to cruel and unusual punishment. Rather, it was based on the fact that the jury was not unanimous in its imposition of the death penalty.

The rulings were called historic because it is the first time in forty-four years that no convicts on death row will be executed without all twelve members of the jury agreeing that is the right punishment.

It remains unclear what will happen in regard to the 385 death row inmates in Florida.

This ruling provides food for thought on the following.

Criticism that the death penalty is not fairly administered, while true in the past, is less so today. The courts have the tools to be certain that the death penalty is the sentence that fits the crime as this decision in Florida shows.

In addition, 385 inmates on death row! Assuming they remain on death row for an average of twenty years, that means the citizens of Florida must finance 7,700 years of “room and board.” Contrast this with the anti-death penalty advocates that claim that capital punishment cases are more expensive than life imprisonment cases.

This latter comment is not to be interpreted as trading tax dollars for lives. As The Book of Daniel will demonstrate, support for the death penalty is based on very narrow circumstances.

 

 

Guns on Campus
Monday, October 24, 2016

Update – Guns on Campus

            On October 23, 2016, the Washington Post published an article by Daniel Webster, professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Ronald Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University, about a Texas law requiring state colleges and universities to allow civilians with permits to carry concealed guns in public places. The article made the following points:

            Texas is the eighth state to pass such a law.

            The University of Texas at Austin was the site of the nation’s first mass killing on a university campus fifty years ago.

            A new report released by Johns Hopkins with co-authors from Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts at Boston debunks the three theories that allowing more guns in public places leads to less violence, that mass shootings occur because perpetrators know victims are unarmed, and that arming citizens will effectively end the mass shootings.

            Other research on mass shootings shows that the overwhelming majority of such shootings occur in places where guns are allowed and that armed civilians rarely are able to stop the slaughters. Studies also show that effectively responding to an active shooter requires significant training and the ability to make good decisions and to shoot accurately, and, even then, trained law-enforcement officers often perform poorly under such circumstances.

            In short, evidence for guns as a deterrent to campus crime (including sexual assault) is weak or nonexistent. While on the other hand, weighty evidence shows that the college environment is particularly ill-suited for guns due to the fact that violence, alcohol abuse, and reckless behavior are elevated among college-age youths.

            Lastly, a study of campus shootings by Everytown for Gun Safety, founded by Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor, records that the vast majority of shootings on campuses do not involve mass shootings nor active-shooter incidents, but arise from interpersonal disputes, targeted attacks, accidents, and suicide.

            Seeds of Anarchy: Crime of Indifference tells the story of the effects of gun violence on the survivors of innocent victims, on the shooters themselves, the authorities forced to deal with anarchists flaunting their “right to bear arms” under the Second Amendment, and the pro-gun lobbies and politicians they cow into inaction or supportive reactions. The article on campus concealed carry laws by Professor Webster and President Daniels highlights a particularly unfortunate expansion of the purely profit-motivated defense of the twisted and wrong-headed interpretation of the Second Amendment right that the Founding Fathers bestowed only on well-regulated militias, and not college kids.  

 

“No Escaping” the Scourge of Drugs
Monday, October 24, 2016

My first novel, No Escape: A Maze of Greed and Murder has been updated and will soon be reissued and available on Amazon’s CreateSpace. Recent press reports and articles on the drug problem in this country underscore the message of the book’s title.

In an article by Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, published in the Washington Post on October 18, 2016, entitled “How drug laws spur violence,” the following facts and opinions were presented.

“Americans from all racial groups pursue narcotic-related leisure activities, spending an estimated $100 billion a year on their illegal drugs.”

Ms. Allen makes the point that despite the evidence of the social acceptance of illegal drug use, the authorities continue to lock up nonviolent offenders.  She calls for legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing other drugs because the “war on drugs drives violent crime, which in turn pushes up incarceration and generates other negative social outcomes. You just can’t move $100 billion worth of illegal product without a lot of assault and homicide.”

A link is drawn between drug trafficking and the high homicide rates that result from low rates for investigation and successful prosecutions. “When murder goes unpunished, it begets more murder…” And here the article shows the link between the drug trade and the gun trade.

“If you live in an environment where you know that someone can shoot you with impunity, you are more likely to be ready to shoot to kill at the first sign of danger [making] everyone trigger-happy.”

            Drugs and guns. Current issues addressed in No Escape and Seeds of Anarchy.

 

 

“No Escaping” the Scourge of Drugs
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My first novel, No Escape: A Maze of Greed and Murder, has been updated and will soon be reissued and available on Amazon’s CreateSpace. Recent press reports and articles on the drug problem in this country underscore the message of the book’s title.

In an article by Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Harvard University, published in the Washington Post on October 16, 2015, entitled “How the war on drugs creates violence”, the following facts and opinions were presented:

“Americans from all racial groups pursue narcotic-related leisure activities, spending an estimated $100 billion a year on their illegal drugs.”

Ms. Allen makes the point that despite the evidence of the social acceptance of illegal drug use, the authorities continue to lock up nonviolent offenders. She calls for legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing other drugs because the “war on drugs drives violent crime, which in turn pushes up incarceration and generates other negative social outcomes. You just can’t move $100 billion worth of illegal product without a lot of assault and homicide.”

A link is drawn between drug trafficking and the high homicide rates that result from low rates for investigation and successful prosecutions. “When murder goes unpunished, it begets more murder…” And here the article shows the link between the drug trade and the gun trade.

“If you live in an environment where you know that someone can shoot you with impunity, you are more likely to be ready to shoot to kill at the first sign of danger [making] everyone trigger-happy.”

            Drugs and guns. Current issues addressed in No Escape and Seeds of Anarchy.

 

 

Senators Demand DOJ Provide Answers on DEA's Lack of Enforcement on Opioids
Wednesday, November 02, 2016

In my book No Escape: A Maze of Greed and Murder, the ultimate message is that the “war on drugs” has failed and that something different must be done to combat the trafficking, such as legalizing some drug use. In the book, the backlash against legalization lead by a drug lord's secret support of the opposition to legalization is symptomatic of the difficulties in combatting the drug trade and underscores the title No Escape. While a fictional account of this endemic problem in today's society, as the saying goes “truth is stranger than fiction.” Here are some recent reports that underscore the dilemma.

Beginning in 2013, DEA lawyers began to delay and block enforcement efforts against large opioid distributors, requiring investigators in the field to meet a much higher burden of proof. Five former supervisors of DEA's Diversion Control Division have indicated their frustration with the sharp drop in enforcement actions. 

The statistics: 165,000 people have died of overdoses from prescription narcotics between 2000 and 2014. The opioid epidemic is said to be claiming nearly 30,000 lives in the U.S. annually. The nearly 19,000 lives lost to opioid overdoses in 2014 is quadrupled the number of such death in just fifteen years.

(Source: Article in The Washington Post, October 29, 2016, Lenny Bernstein and Scott Higham)

“...the opioid epidemic is a crisis in large part because responsible institutions failed; indeed they fell under the influence of the very interest groups—especially the drug makers—they were supposed to regulate. Eyeing billions in profits, opioid companies bombarded the marketplace's gatekeepers—medical societies, academics, state legislatures, Congress, and crucially, the Food and Drug Administration—with a consistent seductive message: Chronic pain affects tens of millions of adults and is woefully undertreated, and can be safely and effectively eased on a continual basis with opioids, contrary to long-standing medical wisdom.”

(Charles Lane, "A big day in court for opioids," Washington Post, October 6, 2016)

And as previously reported, Americans from all racial groups pursue narcotic-related leisure activities, spending an estimated $100 billion a year.

(White House Office of National Drug Control Policy)

 

Anarchy Is Alive and Well Out West
Wednesday, November 02, 2016

In the book Seeds of Anarchy: Crime of Indifference, one of the central themes is that the erroneous interpretation of the Second Amendment's “right to bear arms” is leading to a state of anarchy in this country. The book contains some fictional accounts of instances of anarchy in this country. The recent report that the defendants in the armed January-February 2016 occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty of federal conspiracy charges is likely to encourage other armed resistance to the enforcement of federal law. Anarchy? The jurors out West bought the defense's argument that the armed resistance/occupation was a political protest.

(See: "All defendants in armed takeover of Oregon refuge acquitted of conspiracy" The Washington Post, October 28, 2016, Leah Sottile and "Some fear Oregon verdicts will be license to intimidate," Washington Post, October 29, 2016, Kevin Sullivan and Leah Sottile).

No matter the merits of the defendants’ complaints about federal control of Western lands and resources, if they were true Americans defined as people who support that this is a country of laws not men, following the Constitution's provision making Federal Law the supreme law of the land, the proper means to support their position is through the courts and Congress. It is through peaceful protest, like the sit-ins for racial equality, Gandhi's methods for Indian independence, the camp out in Washington, D.C. protesting the "one-percenters," etc.

Suggesting that the defendants should support their position through Congress is recognized as an oxymoron. Congress has no interest other than being reelected, retaining power, and giving vent to its ideologies, the public be damned. Indeed, I have an idea for another novel that would be based on the idea that the non-responsiveness of Congress and the perceived pro-business, pro-corporation decisions of the Supreme Court that may well lead to anarchy.

Recent Developments on the Death Penalty
Wednesday, November 02, 2016

My yet-to-be published The Book of Daniel contrasts the pros and cons of retaining or abolishing the death penalty, with a clear message that the death penalty needs to be retained in limited cases and determine whether it is has to take into account the "cruel and unusual punishment" inflicted on the victims, heinous crimes, and the victim(s)’ families and loved ones.

There have been some recent news stories and editorials addressing the issue.  

An article in The Washington Post, “Ohio to begin carrying executions again”, reports that Ohio plans to resume executions in January 2017. The article was posted without a byline on October 4, 2016.

Another article with a similar theme appeared in The Washington Post on October 26, 2016. The article, entitled “Drop the death penalty for Dylann Roof”, focuses on the argument against the death penalty for someone involved in a deadly domestic shooting.

While The Book of Daniel supports the death penalty, it does so only in specific circumstances where the crime is heinous, and especially where the perpetrator is guilty of numerous similar heinous crimes and shows no remorse, demonstrating the impossibility of rehabilitation. However, the message of the book would not support imposing the death penalty on Dylann Roof, the person who killed the people at the African American church in Charleston, South Carolina. The reasons are these: Mr. Roof is twenty-one.  His crime likely was caused by older people in his life who taught him to hate so blindly that he was able to commit mass murder of those he did not know and who had done him no wrong.

Then there is, "The death penalty's persistence". This article by Charles Lane appeared in The  Washington Post on October 26, 2016. Writing on California's Proposition 62, a referendum to abolish the death penalty, the following points were included in his Op-Ed.

Based on Gallup polls spanning decades, the public's position on the death penalty is linked to either the presence or absence of violent crimes. When violent crime subsides, the public is more likely to support abolishment and, obviously, the reverse is true. But interestingly, California has another Proposition on the ballot—Proposition 66. Proposition 62 is supported by the argument of “cost-effectiveness.” Opponents argue that it costs the state more when a death penalty verdict is rendered. Much of those costs are based on the twenty plus years convicted murderers remain on death row. Mr. Lane reports there are 749 current “occupants” on California's death row. (See the BLOG on the costs of incarceration in Massachusetts, which is listed in the Archives). 

Proposition 66 is supported by prosecutors, police unions, and others. Their response to the cost of enforcing capital punishment follows an argument made in The Book of Daniel. Namely, "Proposition 66...would deal with the system’s notorious backlog not by abolishing executions but by facilitating them, through streamlining the appeals process.”

Those who oppose the death penalty do not have to deal with the criminals, the heinous details of the crimes they commit, or the suffering of the victims and their loved ones. Opponents are removed from the details of the horror of the crimes perpetrated and do not include or simply ignore the sufferings and losses of the victims and their survivors. Prosecutors and police deal with the horrors all the time. It lends persuasive credibility to their support for the death penalty.

A recent report underscores the obvious disregard some courts/judges have for the survivors of victims killed by another. In “Conviction over fatal punch may fade away”, which appeared in The Washington Post on October 29, 2016, Lynh Bui writes about this topic. A man who pleaded guilty to throwing a fatal punch was granted a new sentence that will allow his manslaughter conviction to disappear from his record. The convicted man's attorney argued, Currently, the conviction will interfere with the application process and prevent Mr. Biparva from obtaining the certifications he needs to advance his career.”

One of the victims’ mother's comment about the basis for expunging the conviction stands out. “Jack [her son] won't have a career, a wife, a life.” Even more distressing, one would think is how her son was killed. He was “sucker-punched and knocked unconscious...when a brawl involving fifteen to twenty...[and] suffered a seizure and other injuries [as a result of the blow]…” The victim was not even involved in the fight.

The judge's comments on his ruling declared that the matters was “tragic and unfortunate,” but “with the numerous letters offered and the arguments of counsel, the court is satisfied that the balance of justice is on the side of the Defendant's motion.”

Obviously losing one's life or losing one's son are not important enough to impede the guilty's career advancement. 

Recent Developments on the Death Penalty
Wednesday, November 02, 2016

My yet-to-be published The Book of Daniel contrasts the pros and cons of retaining or abolishing the death penalty, with a clear message that the death penalty needs to be retained in limited cases and determine whether it is has to take into account the "cruel and unusual punishment" inflicted on the victims, heinous crimes, and the victim(s)’ families and loved ones.

There have been some recent news stories and editorials addressing the issue.  

An article in The Washington Post, “Ohio to begin carrying executions again”, reports that Ohio plans to resume executions in January 2017. The article was posted without a byline on October 4, 2016.

Another article with a similar theme appeared in The Washington Post on October 26, 2016. The article, entitled “Drop the death penalty for Dylann Roof”, focuses on the argument against the death penalty for someone involved in a deadly domestic shooting.

While The Book of Daniel supports the death penalty, it does so only in specific circumstances where the crime is heinous, and especially where the perpetrator is guilty of numerous similar heinous crimes and shows no remorse, demonstrating the impossibility of rehabilitation. However, the message of the book would not support imposing the death penalty on Dylann Roof, the person who killed the people at the African American church in Charleston, South Carolina. The reasons are these: Mr. Roof is twenty-one.  His crime likely was caused by older people in his life who taught him to hate so blindly that he was able to commit mass murder of those he did not know and who had done him no wrong.

Then there is, "The death penalty's persistence". This article by Charles Lane appeared in The  Washington Post on October 26, 2016. Writing on California's Proposition 62, a referendum to abolish the death penalty, the following points were included in his Op-Ed.

Based on Gallup polls spanning decades, the public's position on the death penalty is linked to either the presence or absence of violent crimes. When violent crime subsides, the public is more likely to support abolishment and, obviously, the reverse is true. But interestingly, California has another Proposition on the ballot—Proposition 66. Proposition 62 is supported by the argument of “cost-effectiveness.” Opponents argue that it costs the state more when a death penalty verdict is rendered. Much of those costs are based on the twenty plus years convicted murderers remain on death row. Mr. Lane reports there are 749 current “occupants” on California's death row. (See the BLOG on the costs of incarceration in Massachusetts, which is listed in the Archives). 

Proposition 66 is supported by prosecutors, police unions, and others. Their response to the cost of enforcing capital punishment follows an argument made in The Book of Daniel. Namely, "Proposition 66...would deal with the system’s notorious backlog not by abolishing executions but by facilitating them, through streamlining the appeals process.”

Those who oppose the death penalty do not have to deal with the criminals, the heinous details of the crimes they commit, or the suffering of the victims and their loved ones. Opponents are removed from the details of the horror of the crimes perpetrated and do not include or simply ignore the sufferings and losses of the victims and their survivors. Prosecutors and police deal with the horrors all the time. It lends persuasive credibility to their support for the death penalty.

A recent report underscores the obvious disregard some courts/judges have for the survivors of victims killed by another. In “Conviction over fatal punch may fade away”, which appeared in The Washington Post on October 29, 2016, Lynh Bui writes about this topic. A man who pleaded guilty to throwing a fatal punch was granted a new sentence that will allow his manslaughter conviction to disappear from his record. The convicted man's attorney argued, Currently, the conviction will interfere with the application process and prevent Mr. Biparva from obtaining the certifications he needs to advance his career.”

One of the victims’ mother's comment about the basis for expunging the conviction stands out. “Jack [her son] won't have a career, a wife, a life.” Even more distressing, one would think is how her son was killed. He was “sucker-punched and knocked unconscious...when a brawl involving fifteen to twenty...[and] suffered a seizure and other injuries [as a result of the blow]…” The victim was not even involved in the fight.

The judge's comments on his ruling declared that the matters was “tragic and unfortunate,” but “with the numerous letters offered and the arguments of counsel, the court is satisfied that the balance of justice is on the side of the Defendant's motion.”

Obviously losing one's life or losing one's son are not important enough to impede the guilty's career advancement. 

Florida Supreme Court Commutes Death Sentence
Monday, November 21, 2016

The death sentences of two double-murders were commuted to life without parole by the Florida Supreme Court ruling that in one case capital punishment would amount to “unequal punishment.” In the other case, the court ruled there were mitigating circumstances.

Robert McCloud, 35 was convicted of murdering a 26-year-old woman and 23-old-man along with three other men who were in the process of torturing and robing a drug dealer while looking for cash and marijuana. The prosecutors had made plea deals with the other three defendants and received sentences of 10 to 15 years for second degree murder in exchange for their testimony against McCloud. The decision cited the facts that the three others involved were as guilty and the jury found that McCloud did not shoot either victim.

Terrence Philips, 25, shot and killed two men, 26 and 30 year during an attempted robbery. While Philips guilt was undisputed, the court ruled he shouldn’t be executed because he was only 18 at the time and there was “borderline” evidence he was intellectually disabled.

This action indicates that the judicial system has the capacity to ensure that capital punishment is not unfairly applied and supports the position taken in The Book of Daniel that the death sentence, in and of itself, is not a violation of the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

More on Gun and Anarchy
Monday, November 21, 2016

One of the themes of Seeds of Anarchy-Crime of Indifference is that the unfettered right to bear arms can lead to anarchy. The following articles in the Washington Post on the dates indicated relate to that theme.

 

“As killings surge, Chicago police solve fewer cases – The department once had one of the nation’s best homicide clearance rates. Now is has one of the worst.” November 6, 29016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/as-killings-surge-chicago-police-solve-fewer-homicides/2016/11/05/55e5af84-8c0d-11e6-875e-2c1bfe943b66_story.html?utm_term=.73f6d8242076

 

“Election means high gun sales – Long-term Climb Gets Further Bump – Buyers say they worry about a Democratic win” November 6, 2016 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/yes-gun-sales-are-up-before-election-day-but-theyve-been-on-a-hot-streak-anyway/2016/11/06/a4f72574-a294-11e6-8d63-3e0a660f1f04_story.html?utm_term=.6fb927ccc023

 

“A Crusader Takes on Uncle Sam – In the era of Trump, KrisAnne Hall finds wider audience for her message of federal overreach” November 7, 2016

No link found

 

“In Nev. Desert, warning of an uprising – The Bundy family hints at another protest if Obama moves to preserve land near their ranch,” Tuesday, November 2, 2016.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2016/11/01/c45bdf4e-a04c-11e6-a44d-cc2898cfab06_story.html?utm_term=.4d1a624a6fa1

 

Updates on Death Penalty
Monday, November 21, 2016

Ohio Resumes Death Penalty

Ohio will resume executions in January 2017 ending a three-year moratorium caused by a shortage of execution drugs. The drugs will be the sedative midazolam, the muscle relaxer rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride which stops the heart. The state will move forward with the execution of Ronald Philips, convicted in 1993 of raping and killing his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter.

In December of 2014, Ohio legislators enacted legislation making the identity of individuals and entities that are lawfully involved in the lethal injection process confidential and privileged under law. It cannot be disclosed as a public record, and is not subject to disclosure during judicial proceedings, except in limited circumstances. It also directs courts to seal records that contain information related to the identity of an individual or entity that participates in the lethal injection process unless “the court determines that the record is necessary for just adjudication.” The bill prevents licensing authorities from taking disciplinary action against an individual or entity based on participation in the lethal injection process. And finally, the bill permits an individual or entity who has participated in the lethal injection process to bring “a civil cause of action against any person who discloses the identity and participation in the activity.

The law has been criticized for allegedly taking away from the public and the press the ability to act as a watch dog over the process.

Further, in Phillips v. DeWine, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a group of death row inmates lacked standing to challenge the law’s constitutionality. In the court’s view, the inmates did not suffer any “distinct and palpable injury” from the operation of the law.

 

More Developments on Issues Addressed In The Book of Daniel
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In a letter to the Washington Post by Scott Wallace of Leesburg, Virginia, published February 27, 2017, lead-in “Don’t forget the victims,” comments were made on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s criticism of lethal injection. Mr. Wallace wrote:

[Justice Sotomayor] opined that death by injection may be cruel to condemned inmates. On the other hand, it may not be cruel. Over the years, judges critical of capital punishment have come up with arguments against the gallows, lethal gas, electrocution, firing squad and, now, chemical injection. Yet those same judges rarely, if ever mention the murdered victims and how they suffered in the judges’ disapproval of capital punishment.

Recent Court Decisions on Imposing the Death Penalty

In the case of Joaquin S. Rams being tried in Prince William County, Virginia for the death of his 15-month-old son, the death penalty was taken off the table by prosecutors and an agreement by counsel that the case should be tired by a judge and not a jury because of the complicated medical evidence involved. Washington Post, January 11, 2017, “Death penalty off the table in boy’s death,” Tom Jackman

***

In “Va. Execution to use a controversial drug cloaked in secrecy – Lethal injection with midazolam would be first for state,” it was reported that Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia declined to commute the death sentence of Ricky Gray who murdered a Richmond, Virginia couple and their young daughters in 2006.

Gray admitted that, with the help of his nephew, Ray Dandridge, he beat his wife to death with a lead pipe and dumped her corpse in Washington, Pennsylvania – October 2005. On New Year’s Day 2006, Gray and Dandridge entered the home of Kathryn and Bryan Harvey and took them and their 9-year old and 4-year old daughters to the basement, tied them up and taped their mouths closed. Then they ransacked the house, then cut the throats of the victim, poured wine on an easel and set the basement on fire. “The scene was so awful that when homicide detectives arrived, they cried.”

A week later they attacked Ashley Baskerville’s (who helped target the Harveys) mother and stepfather. The victims were bound, stabbed, gagged, and suffocated. Gray and Dandridge then killed Baskerville himself.  Washington Post, January 18, 2017, Rachel Weiner

***

The U.S. Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision reopened the sentencing phase of Duane Buck ruling that the introduction of expert testimony that blacks are more violent unfairly tainted the jury’s decision imposing the death penalty with a “particularly noxious strain of racial prejudice.”

Buck was convicted of shooting his ex-girlfriend Debra Gardner while her children looked on and then killed Gardner’s friend Kenneth Butler and shot his own stepsister but she survived.

When arrested, Buck said Gardner got what was coming to her and was “laughing and joking and taunting. Washington Post, February 23, 2017, “Supreme Court says racial bias tainted Texas death row inmate’s sentencing” Robert Barnes

Fracking:

One of the underlying issues in The Book of Daniel is “fracking.” The issue has been around for years but continues to be debated. Promote or ban? The issue was the subject of an article, “Franking’s Deep Divisions- In rural Western Maryland, lawmakers and longtime landowners are at odds” Washington Post, February 27, 2017, by Josh Hicks.

The following articles were earlier posted  on cases involving the death penalty and fracking. Fracking plays a central role in the story about court decisions involving the death penalty. 

Supreme Court passes on death penalty cases in Ohio and Florida, Associated Press 12/9/16

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-passes-on-death-penalty-cases-in-ohio-and-florida/2016/12/12/e5870afa-c085-11e6-897f-918837dae0ae_story.html?utm_term=.54038c40debc

Supreme Court passes on death penalty cases in Ohio and Florida, Mark Berman and Robert Barnes 12/9/16
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/12/09/after-divided-supreme-court-allows-alabama-execution-inmate-heaves-and-coughs-during-lethal-injection/?utm_term=.c50cbe80eae4


‘Well, I killed them, I guess’: Jury watches Dylann Roof’s confession to church massacre, Kristine Guerra 12/10/16

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/12/10/well-i-killed-them-i-guess-jury-watches-dylann-roofs-confession-to-church-massacre/?utm_term=.70ffaecec794

 

After divided Supreme Court allows Alabama execution, inmate heaves and coughs during lethal injection,  Mark Berman and Robert Barnes 12-9-16 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/12/09/after-divided-supreme-court-allows-alabama-execution-inmate-heaves-and-coughs-during-lethal-injection/?utm_term=.9d560c9045a4

Residents of Western Maryland don’t want fracking, Paul Roberts, Friendsville, Md.,The writer is board president of Citizen Shale. 12/7/16

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/residents-of-western-maryland-dont-want-fracking/2016/12/06/b70c4ae2-bb57-11e6-ae79-bec72d34f8c9_story.html?utm_term=.54d279b75a72

Ban fracking for good in Maryland, Mary Lehman and George Leventhal 12-11-16

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ban-fracking-for-good-in-maryland/2016/12/09/86457562-aa88-11e6-a31b-4b6397e625d0_story.html?utm_term=.b7761c4db1

 

 

More on the Courts and Capital Punishment
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Supreme Court on Monday turned away appeals from death row inmates in four states that raised different questions about the fairness of capital punishment.

Justice Stephen Breyer, commenting on two of those cases, repeated his call for the court to take up the constitutionality of the death penalty. Breyer said defendants who face death sentences are not society's worst criminals but are "chosen at random, on the basis, perhaps of geography, perhaps of the views of the individual prosecutors, or still worse on the basis of race."

The four appeals rejected Monday were from:

— James Tyler of Louisiana, whose lawyer conceded his guilt in the hope of drawing a life sentence, even though Tyler repeatedly objected to the strategy.

— Sammie Stokes of South Carolina, whose lawyer had previously prosecuted him for assaulting his ex-wife and never informed the judge about the earlier case.

— Romell Broom of Ohio, who survived a botched execution in 2009.

— Henry Sireci of Florida, who was first sentenced to death 40 years ago.

Breyer addressed Broom's and Sireci's cases on Monday, and made reference to an Alabama man who was executed last week even though the jury in his case had voted 7-5 to recommend a sentence of life in prison. The trial judge imposed a death sentence, lower courts upheld it and the justices divided 4 to 4 on whether to issue a last-minute stay — one vote less than was necessary to halt the execution.

Breyer said the cases are among those the high court has rejected that called for review of executions "taking place in what I would consider especially cruel and unusual circumstances." The justice invoked language from the Constitution that prohibits "cruel and unusual punishments."

Living under a death sentence for decades could itself be unconstitutional, Breyer said. When Sireci was first convicted in 1976 of stabbing a car salesman to death, more than half of today's U.S. population had not yet been born, he said. And 40 years is longer than the average life span at the time when the Constitution was written, he said.

In Broom's case, prison medical personnel tried for over two hours to a find a vein in which to inject drugs used in the execution, he said. The state now wants to try again. "Given its first failure, does its second attempt amount to a 'cruel and unusual' punishment?" he wrote. Justice Elena Kagan also voted to hear Broom's appeal.

Breyer first spelled out his reservations about the death penalty last year in a case from Oklahoma, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Executions and new death sentences have been declining in recent years. Twenty inmates in five states have been executed in 2016, the lowest number since 1991, when 14 people were put to death. No more executions are scheduled this year.

This report was provided by the D.C. Bar Brief

Two Court Decisions on Gun Control and a Tragedy
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Florida: Florida Supreme Court upholds ban on openly carrying guns in the state. By a 4-2 decision, the court found that the Florida law regulates only one manner of bearing arms and therefore does not impair the exercise of the fundamental right to bear arms. The decision distinguished the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller noting that unlike the D.C. law which banned the possession of handguns in one’s home, Florida’s ban only regulates how guns are borne in public.

The dissent said the ban collides with the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller thereby possibly setting up an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maryland: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided 10-4 that Maryland's ban on assault rifles is constitutional, ruling gun owners are not protected under the U.S. Constitution to possess "weapons of war."  

Relying on the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a law in response to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman with an assault rifle, the Fourth Circuit held that banning assault weapons does not violate the right to bear arms within the Second Amendment.

"Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war," Judge Robert King ruled.

A Totally Unnecessary Tragedy: A second gun was sold by a gun store in Wellington, Missouri to a mentally ill woman despite the facts that the woman’s mother pled with the store manager not to sell her a gun, advised the manager that her daughter had tried to kill herself, had been in and out of mental hospitals, and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Even pleas to the ATF and FBI went ignored. The store sold her the gun anyway and she used it to kill her father. “A warning, a gun sale and tragic consequences Despite a Missouri woman’s plea, a gun store sold a pistol to her mentally ill daughter,” Washington Post, March 7, 2017, Ann E. Marimow in Wellington, Missouri.   

 

 

Gun Traffickers' Favorite State and four convicted for Oregon Standoff
Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jury verdicts were reached in a second trial arising out of the 2016-armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a federally owned bird sanctuary 290 miles SE of Portland, Oregon. The occupation was instigated by Ryan Bundy and others and arose over their protest against control of federal lands.

Jason Patrick and Darryl Thorn were convicted of conspiracy and face 6 years in prison. Duane Ehmer and Jake Ryan were convicted of deprivation of government property, but not conspiracy. 

Virginia – A Gun Trafficker’s Haven:

A gun-trafficking ring operated up the I-95 corridor from Virginia to New York. The Brooklyn DA’s Office recently announced a 627-count indictment against 24 people, some with violent criminal records and alleged ties to the Blood street gang. 217 guns were recovered – assault weapons and a Thompson sub-machine gun. Straw purchases of guns were made from retailers and gun shows in Virginia and then transported by car or bus to Manhattan and Brooklyn. New York’s strict gun-control laws are undermined by the unchecked flow of gun bought in other states, with Virginia being one of the easiest states in which to purchase guns.

In 2012, the Virginia General Assembly repealed a law, on the books for 19 years before that, that limited purchases of guns to one a month. According to an editorial in the Washington Post, Gun traffickers favorite state, March 11, 2017, efforts to restore the law and enact other gun control measures are routinely rejected “by a General Assembly that is captive to the gun lobby.”

Seeds of Anarchy: Crime of Indifference

SEEDS OF ANARCHY is a novel about loss and fighting for change and redemption, set in the modern political battlefield of gun control, extremism and advocacy. SEEDS OF ANARCHY explores the darkness of personal tragedy, the grim struggle of political activism in the face of insurmountable odds, and the personal dangers of engaging with dark institutions in the war over American values. A husband and father, Chris Knight, becomes a “surviving victim.” He has, like so many others, lost his love ones, his wife and five year old son, in a random massacre by gun violence. For months he has agonized and grieved alone, struggling with inconceivable pain and sorrow. Unable any longer to witness Chris’s depression and despair, his law partner finally intervenes and forces him to take a leave of absence. The change of scenery and physical activity help . . . but a dream, at first bringing joy, then the pain of renewed loss, finally breaks his mental prison of helplessness and uncertainty. Chris returns to his work as an attorney and his life now centers on seeking answers to why no state legislatures or Congress have been able or willing to act effectively to control the presence of guns in America. He also recognizes that the courts have also failed. They have shirked their impartiality, common sense and rationality by interpreting the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms by twisting the plain language of that Amendment and ignoring the time and circumstances that existed when adopted by the Founding Fathers. Despite his new motivations, Chris continues to struggle with the pain of his personal loss. Once again, his law partner steps in and convinces him he should seek counseling. At first Chris refuses. Then, reluctantly, he finally agrees. His partner recommends Doctor Kelly Young, a friend with impressive credentials who specializes in dealing with surviving victims of gun violence and their families. The sessions with Doctor Young prove effective, more rapidly than she or Chris anticipated. As a result, Chris sets about to develop his own plans to challenge the gun-government complex that has placed gun ownership above almost all other rights of American society. As he begins his quest, his emotions, long frozen, begin to thaw. His relationship with his therapist changes as he embarks on a mission to lay siege to the fortresses of the gun culture and their minions. When powerful elements in the gun lobby learn of his plans, things quickly get deadly. Beyond the battles of Chris’s personal war, a larger storm is brewing fed by the unlimited “right to bear arms” manifesto. While the carnage continues, Chris realizes that modern interpretation of the “right to bear arms” is sowing the seeds of anarchy in America. Chris believes that his efforts to limit the “right to bear arms" to that which was intended by the Founding Fathers may prove necessary to preserve a government of laws and not men. Will his plan succeed? Will his plan survive the gun lords and their toadies? Will he survive?

  

No Escape: A Maze of Greed & Murder

U.S. Senator Tom Graves's proposal to legalize drugs creates a backlash from the religious right, whose opposition is unwittingly organized and funded by Carlos Renner, one of Washington's many power brokers. The opposition takes a deadly turn when a zealot detonates an explosive during the first hearing on the proposal and Graves is hospitalized. During his recovery, he meets Dr. Victoria Bennett, a woman with a complicated past. Unaware of her background, they become involved. When tragedy later strikes, Graves resorts to his combat experience in Iraq to track down her murderer, who has fled to Rio. Captured by a drug lord, Graves is helped to escape by his daughter, Angelica, only to be tracked down and surrounded in an abandoned DEA safe house by the drug lord's trained assassins. Escape seems impossible. This international thriller will leave you breathless and with No Escape.

  

Dark Corridors: A Labyrinth of Lies, Loss, Lust and Murder

An intrepid minority shareholder, Chase Michaels, undertakes a heroic campaign to protect fellow minority shareholders as well as the public from two national wireless service companies that have adopted a merger plan to exploit a predicted trillion dollar venture in advanced technologies. He finds himself trapped in a labyrinth created by official Washington's dark corridors of lies, loss, lust, and murder. The corporate megamerger parties know they have an insurmountable advantage navigating these corridors, owing to the endemic indifference of official Washington to corrupt forces borne of addiction to power and money. When Michaels discovers the plan to cut out minority shareholders, he begins a journey that will cost him dearly and put his life and that of a beautiful woman's in jeopardy. Dark Corridors is just business as usual in Washington.

  
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