The victims and their families received justice on Monday when Dr. Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of first degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive.
Gosnell was acquitted in the death of a fourth baby but was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose of a patient.
Prosecutors successfully argued Gosnell, 72, delivered babies alive and had their spines severed with scissors to kill them.
The defense had argued there were no live births at the clinic.
The case drew national attention when details came out in 2010 after federal agents raiding Gosnell’s clinic in search of drug violations instead found “deplorable and unsanitary” conditions including blood on the floor and parts of aborted fetuses in jars. Authorities described finding bags and bottles of fetuses at the foul-smelling filth clinic and unsterile instruments that were reused.
The full extent of Gosnell’s horrific actions may never be known. Prosecutors said they couldn’t prosecute more cases because Gosnell destroyed files but estimated that Gosnell ended hundreds of pregnancies by inducing labor and cutting the babies’ spinal cords and caused scores of women to suffer infections and permanent internal injuries
Anti-abortion activists and conservative commentators have used the Gosnell case as an argument against abortion providers.
The fact is that the Gosnell case showed that state and local authorities didn’t enforce existing regulations. Instead an argument can be made that the victims who were poor and minority women would have been safer if they had more regulated options.
Fortunately the jurors rejected the insulting and offensive argument made by Gosnell’s defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, who accused officials of “a targeted elitist and racist prosecution” and “a prosecutorial lynching” of his client, who is African American, and of applying “Mayo Clinic” standards to Gosnell’s inner-city, cash-only clinic.
The Gosnell case also demonstrates that oversight and tighter restrictions are needed.
Blacks voted at higher rates than whites in 2012, helping to lift President Barack Obama to re-election victory, according to new data from the Census Bureau.
The turnout rate of African American voters surpassed the rate of whites for the first time on record in 2012, as more Black voters went to the polls than in 2008 and fewer whites did, new census data show.
According to the census report released last week, 66.2 percent of eligible African Americans voted in the 2012 election, compared with 64.1 percent of eligible non-Hispanic whites. The overall turnout rate was 61.8 percent in 2012, a decline from 63.6 percent in 2008.
Exit polls showed an estimated two million fewer white Americans voted in 2012 than in 2008, just as about 1.8 million more Blacks went to the polls, more than 90 percent of them voting to re-elect Obama.
The increase in African-American voter turnout was attributed not only to African Americans seeking to re-elect the president but it was also a positive and proactive response to new efforts at voter suppression by Republican lawmakers.
In several states including Pennsylvania, Republican legislators tried to either increase voter ID requirements, limit voting times or make registration more difficult.
Civil rights groups, African American elected officials and others rallied voters to get registered and vote in response to efforts to make voting more difficult.
The historic increase in African American voter turnout is something to celebrate while exercising caution.
Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor who specializes in voter turnout, told the Associated Press: “Obama’s win in 2012, despite the important Democratic constituency of young voters not participating at a higher level, is good news. The bad news is that voting is a habit — and the fact that we saw turnout declines among younger African Americans suggest Democrats will have to work even harder to excite these voters in future elections.”
It remains unclear if the increase in Black voter turnout will last and if the next Democratic nominee in 2016 and beyond would generate the same kind of enthusiasm as Obama.
Efforts to suppress the vote will have to be fought against in the courts and through voter education and mobilization.
During a campaign rally in the 2012 presidential election campaign, Obama said the best revenge is voting.
As African-American voters clearly demonstrated in 2012, the best response to restrictive voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and other states, reduced voting hours, voter purging and other voting suppression efforts is strong voter turnout.
President Barack Obama should continue to exercise caution and not yield to growing pressure from lawmakers advocating direct U.S. military intervention in Syria.
The Obama administration has come under scathing criticism from members of Congress demanding that the U.S. set either a safe zone or a no-fly zone over at least part of Syria.
Senator John McCain R-Ariz demanded that Obama take action to enforce his “red line” by establishing a “safe area” on Syrian territory together with a “no-fly zone”
Senator Dianne Feinstein D-Calif, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said military “action must be taken to prevent larger scale use” of chemical weapons.
Pressure has intensified after Israel’s weekend airstrike on a military complex near the capital of Damascus killed at least 42 Syrian soldiers, a group of anti-regime said Monday, citing information from military hospitals.
Israel has threatened to intervene in the Syrian civil war to stop the transfer of what it calls ‘game-changing” weapons to Hezbollah, a Syrian-backed group that battled Israel to a stalemate during a month-long war in 2006.
The U.S. is also trying to figure out details of Syria’s suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people. Obama has said that any use of chemical weapons “is a red line for the United States of America.”
But conflicting reports on the use of chemical weapons should give lawmakers pause.
Carla Del Ponte, who is leading the U.N. investigation into possible chemical weapon use in Syria, said Sunday that witness and victim testimonies indicate that Syrian rebels likely used chemical weapons such as the nerve gas sarin.
Once again lawmakers are advocating military action without credible evidence or making the case that intervention is in the vital national interest of the United States.
We’ve been here before.
The Bush administration used the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for invading that country. The WMD claim later proved to be false.
Along with the possibility that the rebels using nerve gas and not the Syrian government there are also reports that many of the rebels are dominated by Islamist militias, including those linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist group.
Most Americans say the U.S. does not have responsibility to intervene in Syria, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.
According to the poll, 62 percent of Americans say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria.
While intervention has bipartisan support among those in Congress, it does not reflect the views of most American voters. Democrats, Republicans and independents all oppose U.S. involvement in Syria.
The president and lawmakers should listen to the American people, who are war-weary from two long, costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Accused kidnapper Ariel Castro was arraigned Thursday on charges of rape and kidnapping after three women missing for a decade and the young daughter of obne were found alive at his Cleveland home earlier in the week.
The women were found after a decade in captivity in a dark, dingy home where they were raped and allowed outside only a handful of times in disguises, investigators say.
The three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, and Berry’s 6-year-old daughter might still be in captivity if it weren’t for the courageous actions of an unlikely hero named Charles Ramsey.
Ramsey helped free the women from the house next door where they were imprisoned.
He was off from his work, inside his house eating when he heard Berry kicking at the door of her prison and screaming for help. He helped kick in the aluminum screen door through which she and her daughter escaped.
In a revealing observation on race, Ramsey, who is African American, said he thought that Berry, who is white, had to be either homeless or had other problems.
“When a little pretty white girl ran into a Black man’s arms, something was wrong.”
Ramsey said Berry told him there were more women inside the house.
“I was just blown away from that statement,” he said. “When the police got there, they went (into the house) and brought the rest of them out.”
Ramsey is an unlikely Hollywood image of a hero.
He is a not a soldier, police officer or firefighter. His call to a 911 dispatcher was laced with profanity.
The 43-year-old dishwasher has given animated television interviews dressed in a simple T-shirt and baseball cap turned backwards.
He has attracted so much attention that website and media outlets have dug into his past. According to the Ohio Department of Corrections, he did jail time for domestic violence in the 1990s.
The assaults were related to his then-wife Rochelle, who told The Smoking Gun website that Ramsey had apologized for assaulting her, and she’s on an OK basis with him. Ramsey also said he made amends.
On Facebook, Rochelle came to Ramsey’s defense.
“OK, so for the record ppl do change and you shouldn’t hold the past against someone,” she wrote Wednesday. “The (main) thing is Charles Ramsey did a good deed and those girls are safe is that not the most important thing?”
Ramsey’s past should be irrelevant to his heroic actions.
But he said his past led him to become a better man.
“Those incidents helped me become the man I am today and are the reasons why I try to help the community as much as I can…including those women,” he told TMZ.
Ramsey showed compassion and courage in helping three women escape from a decade or horror. Many others would not have taken the risk.
Still, Ramsey said he doesn’t think his actions were heroic. He said, “If people are happy, I’m happy.”
“There is no feeling,” he said. “You do what you have to do.”
Ramsey does not claim to be a hero.
But he is.
A new Labor Department report shows U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April, helping to reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to a four-year low of 7.5 percent.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that “employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent,” but it has declined by 0.4 percentage points since January.
The report showed that hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated.
Hiring in April was broad-based.
Employment increased in professional and business services, which include accounting, engineering and architecture, adding 23,000 jobs, and education and health-care services added 44,000 positions. Employment also increased in food service, drinking places and retail trade.
There was little change in the number of unemployed people, at 11.7 million. However, unemployment has decreased by 673,000 since January.
“Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult women (6.7 percent) declined in April, while the rates for adult men (7.1 percent), teenagers (24.1 percent), whites (6.7 percent), Blacks (13.2 percent) and Hispanics (9.0 percent) showed little or no change. The jobless rate for Asians was 5.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.
Overall, the number of the unemployed fell 83,000 to 11.7 million.
“This is a good report,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. “There’s a lot of strength … It’s good for the economy. It’s good for people’s income.”
The jobs report was not all rosy.
Unemployment decreased in construction and government.
The number of persons employed part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job increased by 278,000 to 7.9 million.
While the Labor Department report was a reassuring sign that the job market is gradually improving, it is important that lawmakers and policymakers support policies that increase job creation and do not jeopardize growth.
The Federal Reserve should keep to its plan to hold short-term interest rates at record lows at least until unemployment falls to 6.5 percent. It will also be important that lawmakers act on federally automated cuts known as the sequester before the negative impact of those cuts begins to set in.