Tag: dead

Muhammad Ali has passed away

Former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali has passed away as a result of a respiratory illness. He was 74 years old at the time of his death.

Since many people of my generation are largely or completely unfamiliar with who Ali was, I’ll describe who Ali was.

Ali, who was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942, was one of the greatest athletes in the history of modern sports. As an amateur boxer, Ali won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the Games of the XVII Olympiad in Rome, Italy in 1960. Ali turned professional not long after his Olympic victory, and, in 1964, he won the World Heavyweight Championship by technical knockout (TKO) after Sonny Liston failed to answer the bell for the seventh round of the fight. Ali adopted the name Muhammad Ali not long after winning the title, and continued to win fight after fight.

Ali was a fighter, in and out of the ring. In addition to his legendary boxing ability in the ring, Ali was also famous for his opposition to the unjustified Vietnam War and the U.S. military draft for it. After being convicted of dodging the draft in 1967, Ali, a conscientious objector to military conflict, took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won; his conviction was overturned in 1971 by the nation’s highest court by unanimous decision, and Ali became a revered figure among those who sought to abolish the draft.

However, his suspension from boxing and the stripping of his world title lasted for over three years, and it wasn’t until 1970 that Ali returned to the ring. In 1971, Ali lost his first match as a professional against Joe Frazier, but Ali won the 1974 rematch against Frazier. In 1975, Ali regained his world title by knocking out George Foreman in a match dubbed The Rumble in the Jungle. Later that year, Ali won the Thrilla in Manilla against Frazier. Ali fought his last professional match in 1981, finishing his professional boxing career with a record of 56-5, with 37 of his wins by knockout (KO).

Ali was also famous for his speaking style, charisma, and his ability to grab the spotlight and own it. In fact, Ali was one of the few public figures in modern history to be able to effectively control and define his own public reputation. Ali turned trash-talking into a beautiful art form.

If one of Ali’s famous quotes could summarize him, it would be, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

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Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Roanoke, Virginia local news reporter and news photographer shot and killed on live television

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article includes a vivid description of a murder that many readers would find to be unsettling.


Alison Parker (left) and Adam Ward (right) (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News Twitter page)
Alison Parker (left) and Adam Ward (right) (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News Twitter page)

Alison Parker, a reporter for WDBJ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, and Adam Ward, a news photographer for the same station, were shot and killed earlier this morning at Bridgewater Plaza (a miniature golf course, arcade room, shops, and restaurants that primarily serve tourists at Smith Mountain Lake) in Moneta, Virginia. The shooting occurred as Parker was doing a live, on-air interview. Parker was 24 years of age; Ward was 27 years of age. Vester Flanagan, a former WDBJ reporter who went under the stage name Bryce Williams when he was a WDBJ employee, was the perpetrator of the attack; Flanagan fled the scene and committed suicide in another part of Virginia.

I’ve seen video of the shooting once (it’s been plastered all over social media), and I don’t want to see it again, but I will give a description of the shooting. Parker was interviewing a subject about a light subject of some kind and several shots were fired. Parker remained very calm as the first couple of shots that were fired, but then Parker began screaming extremely loudly (although I didn’t actually see a bullet enter Parker’s body on-camera, I’m guessing Parker began screaming after she had been hit by one or more bullets), and then the camera was knocked over in a way that it was filming a deck or balcony and that Parker was not in the view of the camera lens. It’s the single most disturbing thing I’ve ever watched online.

Many people don’t realize this, but journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Even if they’re not covering war or some other type of hostility, journalists, especially if they work in television, are regularly in the public eye and do their jobs with the constant threat that someone might harm, or even kill, them for whatever reason. Additionally, those who work with journalists, such as news photographers, face the same threats as journalists do. Parker and Ward were shot and killed while doing a fluff piece.