My Name’s Joe

There once was a farmer whose wife had died and left him with three beautiful teenage daughters. Every weekend, when they went out on dates, the farmer would stand at the door with his shotgun, making it clear to their dates he wanted no trouble from them.

Another Saturday night came around. At about 7pm., there was a knock on the door. He answered and the young man said,

“Hi, my name’s Joe. I’m here for Flo. I’m taking her to the show. Is she ready to go?”

The farmer thought he was a clever boy and wished them a good time.

A few minutes later, another knock was heard. A second boy appeared and said,

“Hi, I’m Eddie. I’m here for Betty. I’m taking her for spaghetti. I hope she’s ready.”

He thought that he must know Joe, but bade them off as well with his best wishes.

A few minutes after that, a third knock was heard.

“Hi, I’m Chuck…” 

That was when the farmer shot him.

My Right to Die: Assisted Suicide, My Family, and Me

Every story has a beginning. This one starts in late 2001, when my father-in-law fractured three of his ribs. Harry was a retired physician, and after a thorough workup that he insisted on, it turned out that his bone density was severely compromised for no immediately apparent reason. Further tests eventually revealed the cause: He had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

Harry’s cancer was caught early, and it progressed slowly. By 2007, however, it had taken over his body. When my wife saw him in early 2008, she remarked that he looked like someone in a lot of pain but trying not to show it—despite the fact that he was taking oxycodone, a powerful opiate.

During a career that lasted more than three decades, he had watched all too many of his patients struggle with their final months, and this experience had persuaded him that he would take his own life if he found himself dying of an agonizing and clearly terminal illness. Now he was. Finally, on the evening of January 29, he stumbled and fell during the night, and decided his time had come: He was afraid if he delayed any longer he’d become physically unable to remain in control of his own destiny.


Extradition: The Palestinian Authority’s Dirty Little Secret

It’s that dirty little secret which nobody wants to talk about, because it makes everybody uncomfortable. It hovers in the background; it’s hidden in the closet; and it lingers in the recesses of our minds. But it’s there, written in black and white in the Oslo Accords, and it can’t be erased: the Palestinian Authority (PA) is obligated to surrender to Israel any terrorist whose extradition the Israelis request.

Which is what makes the ongoing standoff in Bulgaria such an inconvenience!

A Palestinian terrorist who escaped from an Israeli prison 25 years ago is now being given shelter in the PA’s consulate in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

The terrorist is Omar Nayef Zayed, who was convicted in 1986 of murdering an Israeli yeshiva student. He started a hunger strike in 1990, which resulted in the Israeli authorities admitting him to a hospital in Bethlehem. He escaped from the hospital, slipped out of the country, and made his way to Bulgaria.


Islamic Republic of Iran executed 1,084 in 2015, leads world in state-sanctioned executions

Iran again led the globe in the number of state-sanctioned executions in 2015, killing 1,084 people, which marks the highest rate of executions in the country in 25 years, according to statistics compiled by human rights and advocacy organizations.

Iran, which continues “to execute more individuals per capita than any other country in the world,” according to the United Nations, carried out an average of three executions per day in 2015, according to numbers issued by a leading Iranian human rights organization.

Since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who was celebrated by many in the West as a moderate reformer, executions in Iran have soared, hitting record numbers in each of the last several years. The U.N. recorded 753 executions in 2014, though some human rights organizations have claimed that the number is higher.

Iran executed an American citizen in November.


Morning Briefing – The Telegraph

Good morning.

The junior doctors’ first bout of strike action ended at 8am today, after medics walked out across England for the first time in 40 years, withdrawing all but emergency care. They definitely made a mark, with NHS trusts reporting that 39% of junior doctors reported for duty as normal – prompting praise from Jeremy Hunt. If you’re wondering why the others walked out, it’s worth watching our video – in which we spoke to striking junior doctors on the streets outside Homerton Hospital. The NHS will take a while to recover from the strike action, with 20,000 operations and appointments cancelled yesterday, leaving health officials with a backlog that will take months to clear.

Labour weighed in behind the junior doctors, with Jeremy Corbyn calling on ministers to “apologise and negotiate a fair deal” with them. The Labour leader will be sorely tempted to press the government more on this when he faces David Cameron across the despatch box at PMQs today. John McDonnell, who has previously said Labour “automatically” support strikes, joined picket lines at St Thomas’ hospital. Labour was certainly less mealy-mouthed in its support for strikes yesterday than it was in 2011, when Ed Miliband gave TV cameras his “These strikes are wrong” mantra. Dan Hodges thinks this “Corbyn Contagion” will plague moderate frontbenchers. “Today it is Labour’s health team,” he writes. “They will all have to utter the same line. And as they do, they will all feel the same sudden chill, the dryness at the back of the throat, the slight feeling of nausea.”

The junior doctors have finished the first part of their industrial action, but are still set to walk out for 48 hours in a fortnight, and then go on a full strike next month. Ministers hope to get the doctors’ union back around the negotiating table to avoid this, with Jeremy Hunt describing the walkout as “totally unnecessary”. Striking junior medics have made their mark in their stand-off with NHS chiefs over the proposed contracts by scuppering operations, as some might say was their original aim. Voters may be broadly supportive of junior doctors, but how will they feel when the prospect of a full walkout nears? The conciliation service Acas hopes to restart formal talks by the end of the week, so what will the BMA do? James Kirkup points out that the advent of technology like FitBits will weaken the power of doctors, writing: “This will be the story of medicine and technology in the 21st Century: bad for doctors, good for the rest of us. The junior doctors should enjoy their position of strength for it will not last. A medical revolution is coming, and it will be wearable.”

“In the end [junior doctors] do want to the right thing for patients and I salute them for it.” Jeremy Hunt

The Fight Against Isil

A member of the Islamic State (Isil) is believed to be behind yesterday’s suicide bombing in the heart of Istanbul, which killed nine German tourists and brought terror to the streets of Turkey’s historic city. “Mr Erdogan should realise… that if he wants to prevent further terror attacks, then his best course of action is to support the international campaign to destroy Isil,” Con Coughlin writes in today’s paper. This comes as David Cameron admitted that “there aren’t enough” moderate Syrian fighters to defeat Isil, and promised a shake up of police bail after a counter terrorism chief said it was “weak and “toothless” and allowed jihadists to act with impunity. Meanwhile, the government estimates that the group – which has issued an advice booklet for its followers – amasses between £1.7 and £3.1 million a day.

Obama’s Last SOTU

President Barack Obama on Tuesday used his final State of the Union address to confront the climate of fear that has come to dominate American politics, and make a plea for optimism in America’s future. He said that Isil did not pose an existential threat to the US as he warned against talking up its strength. And with veiled references to Donald Trump and others competing to succeed him as president, he looked beyond his last year in office to the future of America and the “extraordinary change” that will come along with it.

Iran Captures US Ships

Iranian military forces captured and detained two United States Navy patrol ships and their crew on Tuesday evening as they conducted a training mission in the Persian Gulf. Ten American sailors – nine men and one woman – were arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps after their boat reportedly strayed into the country’s territorial waters. You can follow our liveblog for more updates.

Hague’s Reshuffle Guide

Jeremy Corbyn has stepped down as the chairman of the Parliament’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) group amid a battle in the Labour Party over his continued opposition to the renewal of Trident. William Hague has offered some advice to the Labour leader on how to do a good reshuffle, musing in today’s paper that “in the trench warfare over Labour’s defence policy, he moved forward by a whole trench”. “A leader without the capacity to surprise is without the powerof tactical initiative,” he adds.

MPs To Get EU Veto

MPs will be given a veto over the date of the EU referendum, Philip Hammond has revealed. This comes as Nigel Lawson spoke out on why Britain must leave the EU. “Rarely, even in the field of Euroscepticism, have I heard someone speak with such cloudless certitude,” reports our sketchwriter Michael Deacon.

MPs To Vote On English Anthem

MPs are set to to vote later on whether England should have its own official national anthem. God Save the Queen, the UK’s anthem, is currently used for England, but Labour MP Toby Perkins believes it needs its own song.
An EVEL First

Scottish MPs have reacted with fury at new rules preventing them from voting on English matters which were used in Parliament for the first time. Members from north of the border were barred from voting on English elements of the housing bill during a legislative grand committee, the first time the new measures have been used in the Commons. This comes as a decision by the oil giant BP to cut 600 jobs in the North Sea was claimed to be further proof that Scotland would be in a “financial mess” if it had voted for independence.

Ring HMRC? Don’t Bother

Taxpayers are better off writing to HM Revenue and Customs if they want a decent answer to a query, accountants say today. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales found HMRC’s service was so poor that it was better to enquire in a letter than make a phone call. Meanwhile, a committee of MPs have said that millions of households are paying too much for their water supply because of poor oversight by Ofwat.

Cameron Chides The NUT

Teachers unions are “dismissing the life chances” of Britain’s children by saying they can look up the answers to their times tables on mobile phones, David Cameron has said. The Prime Minister attacked Christine Blower, the National Union of Teachers’ general secretary, who had criticised the use of rote learning. James Kirkup thinks Cameron’s speech on life chances “might just be the best speech he has given as PM”.