Thirty One

23 Feb 19
The West in the Pre-Modern World

The democracy of Ancient Greece, specifically of Athens, is often given credit for providing the foundation to modern democracy. Ancient Athenians such as Cleisthenes and Solon certainly brought the government of Athens into a new direction by offering reforms that greatly differed from neighboring countries who ruled by aristocracy or oligarchy. However, in comparison with […]

23 Feb 19

Musings of a hack

  bookshelves: classics, western, parody, short-stories,favorites Recommended for: Sai King completists Rating: 4/5 stars     Available for FREE online: https://www.stephen-king.de/the-dark-… I first heard of Slade in early June of 2016. I never would’ve known it existed if I hadn’t seen it on my Goodreads news feed. I feel particularly indebted to that individual. Thank you. As I eventually learned, Slade was originally  published by […]

23 Feb 19
William George Turner

I would like to start by saying that this is one of the absolute craziest events to ever happen to me. I have never once in my life called 9-1-1, so understand I would never dial the police without good reason. Something else to be understood is my apartment is in the basement, with 3 […]

23 Feb 19
American Leading Edge Research Team Blog

Alert Update – Newsletter for the Week of February 18-22, 2019 U. S. Supreme Court Happenings for the week ending February 22, 2019 The Supreme Court came back into session on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.  Orders from the February 15th were released on Tuesday. There is a possibility of opinions on Wednesday at 10 a.m. […]

23 Feb 19
Top Movies Worth Watching

I am an American woman in her mid-thirties with a STEM background. I have never taken a course in film studies, film appreciation, or anything of the sort. Until a few years ago, I had never seen some of the most highly rated movies of all time. My journey began with the American Film Institute’s […]

23 Feb 19
Grandma's Table

 Once she had hung up the phone with her sister, Beth sent out a mass text to the rest of the family. It wasn’t long before text were going back and forth as siblings, cousins, parents, children and spouses chatted back and forth excitedly. Stella smiled as her phone pinged over and over with texts.  […]

23 Feb 19
Bill Longnecker writes here

The ambient brightness of the sun blazing through my northwest facing, open window, hurts my sleepy eyes. Yet this yields no immediate clue to the time of morning or where I am at. the sensation of waking up in a hotel room has always given me this effect of temporary disorientation. This morning is no […]

23 Feb 19
From Adie, with Love

People exhaust me. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s important to get that out of the way, because it really sets the tone for this blog post. Another important note to begin this post with: I am not a child. I am thirty-years-old. You wouldn’t be able to tell on […]

23 Feb 19
Kiley's Blog

I help run a coffee shop as my job apart from being a full time student and one of my responsibilities is making the weekly schedule. I would be lying if I said this does not come with looking at everything in the terms of money; from the people I chose to schedule to the […]

23 Feb 19
Mental Health Mama

Have you ever had one of those days where the minute you open your eyes, toss off the covers, and your feet hit the floor you know it’s going to be a bad day? One of those days where you desperately try to turn it all around, but no matter what you do it just […]

23 Feb 19
Confessions of An Irish Skinderella

Smear. It’s not a very nice word is it? Try saying it out loud. It sounds gross, greasy almost. It has very negative connotations and that’s never a good start when you’re dealing with your health. Although I have managed to find one positive use of the word, but no surprise it involves food! Because […]

23 Feb 19
The Mercury News
MARTINEZ — A man who spent nearly 33 years awaiting execution on California’s Death Row took his first steps as a free man Wednesday, following an appeals court decision that overturned the death sentence and raised questions about his mental state during trial. Freddie Taylor, 58, was freed from Death Row Wednesday. (California Dept. of Corrections) At age 25, Freddie Taylor was convicted for the 1985 murder of an 84-year-old widow, Carmen Carlos Vasquez, who was brutally raped and beaten to death inside of her Richmond home. For years, Taylor filed legal motions asking for a new trial on the grounds that the court had ignored obvious indications he was incompetent to stand trial. Taylor was denied a new trial by state courts. But in 2016, a federal judge ruled in his favor, in a decision affirmed by the Ninth Circuit last December. On Wednesday, prosecutors offered Taylor freedom, agreeing to a plea deal that would reduce his sentence to time served in exchange for pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge. Taylor, now 58, was released from jail Wednesday afternoon. Chief Public Defender Robin Lipetzky, whose office handled the plea deal, said it’s an example of how the state’s death penalty system “is not fail-safe.” Attorneys familiar with the case say Taylor’s situation could have gone on overlooked if a Bay Area defense attorney, Nanci Clarence, had not doggedly pursued it for roughly 20 years. “Had he not had the benefit of zealous appellate lawyers dedicated to his cause, Freddie Lee Taylor may well have been executed,” Lipetzky said in an email. “His is but one case. Others like him who have meritorious claims may not be so fortunate. There are over 700 more people on death row — many waiting for an attorney to be appointed to their case and others still waiting for their cases to be finally resolved by the courts.” In reversing his death sentence, a U.S. district judge ruled that the judge who oversaw Taylor’s 1986 trial had failed to act on signs that should have called Taylor’s mental health into question. Taylor spoke incoherently in open court, for instance once claiming that his lawyer, “Tells me today he can feel for me, you know, but he can’t feel for me and what I want to say and do.” Most compelling, Taylor had a lifelong history of mental illness, along with diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia, brain damage and borderline personality disorder. In September 2016, a federal judge gave Contra Costa County prosecutors a decision — retry Taylor, or set him free. Last December, the Ninth Circuit appeals court affirmed the 2016 decision, ruling there was insufficient evidence on the record to retroactively assess Taylor’s mental health at the time. From there, Contra Costa prosecutors had 60 days to decide if they wanted to retry Taylor. Instead, they offered him the deal. “It was a pretty weak case,” prosecutor Jason Peck conceded in an interview Friday. “I think he did it, but proving it beyond a reasonable doubt is another matter.” Taylor’s history  Taylor was born in Oklahoma, the grandson of sharecroppers, and was subjected to intense, horrific trauma and abuse. He started using drugs, like sniffing glue, before the age of 10. In the early 1970s, from ages 13 to 17, he was housed in state juvenile detention centers described in court records as a “gruesome, dehumanizing and frightening world where rape, beatings and fear were constant.” Accounts of the detention centers say wards were subjected to torturous conditions, like staff deliberately breaking wards’ bones, or beatings with razor straps.[cq comment=”can we get a time line as to years?”] Discipline came in the form of corporal punishment, or solitary confinement in dungeons with no view of the outside and a “slop jar” in lieu of a toilet. Drugs were everywhere, and staff turned a blind eye to it. Conditions at the detention centers improved after a team of investigative journalists at Gannett exposed what was going on, according to court records. After being released, at age 18,[cq comment=”release when?”] Taylor traveled to Richmond to find his biological father who he had previously been told was dead. He later served time in Folsom prison for a robbery conviction, but after his release in 1984, he married his girlfriend and started a family. They moved from California to Oklahoma, but struggled financially in both states; Taylor was unable to find work. Then, on Christmas day of 1984, Taylor was arrested during a “family dispute,” according to court records. He was taken to a mental institution, where he attempted suicide for the third time in his life up to that point. Doctors recommended placing Taylor in a state mental hospital. Instead, hospital staff released him as an outpatient, ignoring signs he was a harm to himself or others, according to court records. From there, Taylor returned to Richmond. Within 30 days, he had been arrested and charged with murdering Vasquez, along several other crimes that all occurred within a two-week span. Now a free man, Taylor is returning to Oklahoma with the hopes of starting fresh, according to attorneys familiar with the case. “Mr. Taylor has participated in extensive treatment and programming,” Lipetzky said. “I have every expectation that he will do well when he returns to his family in Oklahoma.” The murder It was Vasquez’s son, now in his 80s, who found Vasquez’s body inside her Richmond home on the afternoon of Jan. 22, 1985. She had been severely beaten to death, with serious injuries to her head and neck. Authorities determined from a rape test kit she had been extensively sexually assaulted, but [cq comment=”for unknown reasons?”DNA isn’t always recovered]did not recover a suspect’s DNA evidence from her body. A television was missing from Vasquez’s home, and it was theorized that she had been killed after interrupting a burglar. Taylor was identified as a suspect after his fingerprints were found on a door and a plexiglass window. But Taylor had burglarized Vasquez’s home days earlier, which gave him a plausible explanation for why fingerprints were at the scene.[cq comment=”plausible explanation for why his fingerprints were there?”] Jurors are instructed during trial that if there are two reasonable theories behind the evidence, and one points to innocence, they must adopt it rather than convict the defendant. That, along with the lack of DNA and the fact that several police witnesses had died, weakened the prosecution’s case for a retrial. “That’s a tough one,” Peck said, when asked if he believed justice was served. “Thirty-four years is 34 years, but a jury in 1986 thought he deserved death.”
23 Feb 19
East Bay Times
MARTINEZ — A man who spent nearly 33 years awaiting execution on California’s Death Row took his first steps as a free man Wednesday, following an appeals court decision that overturned the death sentence and raised questions about his mental state during trial. Freddie Taylor, 58, was freed from Death Row Wednesday. (California Dept. of Corrections) At age 25, Freddie Taylor was convicted for the 1985 murder of an 84-year-old widow, Carmen Carlos Vasquez, who was brutally raped and beaten to death inside of her Richmond home. For years, Taylor filed legal motions asking for a new trial on the grounds that the court had ignored obvious indications he was incompetent to stand trial. Taylor was denied a new trial by state courts. But in 2016, a federal judge ruled in his favor, in a decision affirmed by the Ninth Circuit last December. On Wednesday, prosecutors offered Taylor freedom, agreeing to a plea deal that would reduce his sentence to time served in exchange for pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge. Taylor, now 58, was released from jail Wednesday afternoon. Chief Public Defender Robin Lipetzky, whose office handled the plea deal, said it’s an example of how the state’s death penalty system “is not fail-safe.” Attorneys familiar with the case say Taylor’s situation could have gone on overlooked if a Bay Area defense attorney, Nanci Clarence, had not doggedly pursued it for roughly 20 years. “Had he not had the benefit of zealous appellate lawyers dedicated to his cause, Freddie Lee Taylor may well have been executed,” Lipetzky said in an email. “His is but one case. Others like him who have meritorious claims may not be so fortunate. There are over 700 more people on death row — many waiting for an attorney to be appointed to their case and others still waiting for their cases to be finally resolved by the courts.” In reversing his death sentence, a U.S. district judge ruled that the judge who oversaw Taylor’s 1986 trial had failed to act on signs that should have called Taylor’s mental health into question. Taylor spoke incoherently in open court, for instance once claiming that his lawyer, “Tells me today he can feel for me, you know, but he can’t feel for me and what I want to say and do.” Most compelling, Taylor had a lifelong history of mental illness, along with diagnoses of paranoid schizophrenia, brain damage and borderline personality disorder. In September 2016, a federal judge gave Contra Costa County prosecutors a decision — retry Taylor, or set him free. Last December, the Ninth Circuit appeals court affirmed the 2016 decision, ruling there was insufficient evidence on the record to retroactively assess Taylor’s mental health at the time. From there, Contra Costa prosecutors had 60 days to decide if they wanted to retry Taylor. Instead, they offered him the deal. “It was a pretty weak case,” prosecutor Jason Peck conceded in an interview Friday. “I think he did it, but proving it beyond a reasonable doubt is another matter.” Taylor’s history  Taylor was born in Oklahoma, the grandson of sharecroppers, and was subjected to intense, horrific trauma and abuse. He started using drugs, like sniffing glue, before the age of 10. In the early 1970s, from ages 13 to 17, he was housed in state juvenile detention centers described in court records as a “gruesome, dehumanizing and frightening world where rape, beatings and fear were constant.” Accounts of the detention centers say wards were subjected to torturous conditions, like staff deliberately breaking wards’ bones, or beatings with razor straps.[cq comment=”can we get a time line as to years?”] Discipline came in the form of corporal punishment, or solitary confinement in dungeons with no view of the outside and a “slop jar” in lieu of a toilet. Drugs were everywhere, and staff turned a blind eye to it. Conditions at the detention centers improved after a team of investigative journalists at Gannett exposed what was going on, according to court records. After being released, at age 18,[cq comment=”release when?”] Taylor traveled to Richmond to find his biological father who he had previously been told was dead. He later served time in Folsom prison for a robbery conviction, but after his release in 1984, he married his girlfriend and started a family. They moved from California to Oklahoma, but struggled financially in both states; Taylor was unable to find work. Then, on Christmas day of 1984, Taylor was arrested during a “family dispute,” according to court records. He was taken to a mental institution, where he attempted suicide for the third time in his life up to that point. Doctors recommended placing Taylor in a state mental hospital. Instead, hospital staff released him as an outpatient, ignoring signs he was a harm to himself or others, according to court records. From there, Taylor returned to Richmond. Within 30 days, he had been arrested and charged with murdering Vasquez, along several other crimes that all occurred within a two-week span. Now a free man, Taylor is returning to Oklahoma with the hopes of starting fresh, according to attorneys familiar with the case. “Mr. Taylor has participated in extensive treatment and programming,” Lipetzky said. “I have every expectation that he will do well when he returns to his family in Oklahoma.” The murder It was Vasquez’s son, now in his 80s, who found Vasquez’s body inside her Richmond home on the afternoon of Jan. 22, 1985. She had been severely beaten to death, with serious injuries to her head and neck. Authorities determined from a rape test kit she had been extensively sexually assaulted, but [cq comment=”for unknown reasons?”DNA isn’t always recovered]did not recover a suspect’s DNA evidence from her body. A television was missing from Vasquez’s home, and it was theorized that she had been killed after interrupting a burglar. Taylor was identified as a suspect after his fingerprints were found on a door and a plexiglass window. But Taylor had burglarized Vasquez’s home days earlier, which gave him a plausible explanation for why fingerprints were at the scene.[cq comment=”plausible explanation for why his fingerprints were there?”] Jurors are instructed during trial that if there are two reasonable theories behind the evidence, and one points to innocence, they must adopt it rather than convict the defendant. That, along with the lack of DNA and the fact that several police witnesses had died, weakened the prosecution’s case for a retrial. “That’s a tough one,” Peck said, when asked if he believed justice was served. “Thirty-four years is 34 years, but a jury in 1986 thought he deserved death.”
23 Feb 19
Tessa's New Literary Home

Cythera Meets Her CAG. The other sniper candidates didn’t take too kindly to me being in their barracks and in their training group.  Not being an NCO like the others they questioned my reason for being there as I lacked any field experience that would have prepared me for selection to such a prestigious training […]