Archive for Life and/or Death

Don’t remind me

No, really, I mean it, don’t remind me:

Objects are closer than they appear

The real question: Are they gaining on me?

(Via Nihilist Arby’s.)

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Left hanging

In the absence of a note from Epstein’s mother, we have these conclusions by Linda Fox:

Could [Jeffrey Epstein] have killed himself? Well, the state certainly made it easy — if not seemingly their preferred resolution to the problem of his ability to implicate some very high-flyers, mostly of Leftist persuasion.

Did he get a message that OTHER people he cared about would be left alone, if he were to be found not breathing?

Did the previous message — delivered, it is said, by another inmate — finally sink in? The message being:

You WILL die. The only question is, how much pain you’ll have to endure before you reach room temperature.

Epstein doesn’t strike me as a Tough Guy. I doubt it would have taken a lot of roughing up to get him to Go to the Light.

On the other hand, he may have placed hope in his bargaining chances — Let’s Make a Deal is the game that is played by most of the Elite when caught red-handed.

And “bargaining,” not incidentally, is in the middle of the Kübler-Ross model. Not that it’s always that cut-and-dried.

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That was then, this is scary

Yeah, it’s a more universal story, but still:

Weird as it was at the time, in retrospect it’s a little easier to see how “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” became such a worldwide phenomenon when it was released by Pikotaro, aka Japanese comedian/musician Daimaou Kosaka. Yes, it’s a dumb song that’s barely 40 seconds long, and is entirely about combining pens, pineapples, and apples, but Pikotaro handles the borderline nonexistent subject matter with such sincerity and cheerfulness that it’s easy to get swept up in the irreverent fun.

This new track, though, is not much fun:

Hard pass.

(Via Fark.)

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She’s just a baby

And she was, you should pardon the expression, out of her depth:

Buy this man a beer. Several beers, in fact.

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Sandbox escape

The big selling point of Wikipedia, of course, is that literally anyone can edit it. The major fault with Wikipedia, of course, is that literally anyone can edit it. The end result is something like this, found by the Brickmuppet:

Modified Suicide Watch article from Wikipedia

I note that this article is now padlocked.

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Thoughts and prayers and then some

There’s nothing I can add to this:

My father passed away while I was en route to Illinois. It’s sad and hard but he had less than 24 hours of being really bad and in real misery. Apparently that happens some times; it was probably congestive heart failure that just crashed very fast.

The hospice nurse told me that when I told him I loved him over the phone, that not only did he hear and understand, he made an effort to say “I love you” back. I didn’t hear it but I was pretty upset at that point and I’m choosing to believe the nurse.

We’ll leave it at that for now.

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Methuselah, you young whippersnapper

If we’re going to have creatures that can live forever, why do they have to be these creatures?

Turritopsis dohrnii, a small species of jellyfish native to the Mediterranean, is commonly known as the “immortal jellyfish,” and it literally lives up to its name. Possessing the ability to revert to its a sexually immature stage instead of succumbing to an inevitable death, this tiny creature holds the secret to true biological immortality.

Humans have fantasized about immortality since the beginning of time. We have countless myths and stories about it, but until the mid-1990s we had yet to find any proof that eternal life on this earth was possible. In 1996, researchers published a study about a small species of jellyfish capable of reverting from an adult, solitary individual to its juvenile colonial state, thus cheating death and achieving potential immortality. Just as long as it wasn’t consumed by predators and it could be sustained by its environment, the jellyfish could repeat this cycle indefinitely and live forever. To this day, the immortal jellyfish remains the only known immortal animal.

All right, I’ll bite. How does this work?

Like most other hydrozoans, T. dohrnii begin their life as tiny, free-swimming larvae known as planula. As a planula settles down, it gives rise to a colony of polyps that are attached to the sea-floor. All the polyps and jellyfish arising from a single planula are genetically identical clones. The polyps form into an extensively branched form, which is not commonly seen in most jellyfish. Jellyfish, also known as medusae, then bud off these polyps and continue their life in a free-swimming form, eventually becoming sexually mature. When sexually mature they have been known to prey on other jellyfish species at a rapid pace. If a T. dohrnii jellyfish is exposed to environmental stress or physical assault, or is sick or old, it can revert to the polyp stage, forming a new polyp colony. It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation, which alters the differentiated state of the cells and transforms them into new types of cells. Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely.

If you’re like me, you stop thinking “Ew, jellyfish!” and start wondering about this guy Dohrn for whom it’s named. It’s this guy:

Felix Anton Dohrn (1840–1909) was a prominent German Darwinist and the founder and first director of the first zoological research station in the world, the Stazione Zoologica in Naples, Italy.

Give that man an immortal namesake!

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Back from the brink

I’m still not sure what I think about this, but I have to believe that calm acceptance doesn’t work for all of us, as it didn’t work for her:

“Do not go gentle,” said the Welshman. Said my brother. And, perhaps, say I, one of these days. Maybe.

I am told she died on the second of September 2018.

(Warning: Some bursts of salty language.)

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Killer argument

“Why,” asks Severian in a thought experiment, “is murder wrong?”

“Stopping citizens from murdering other citizens” seems like a core task of The State, whatever that turns out to be. But why? Don’t worry about what the answer is supposed to be — this isn’t a midterm; I’m not grading you. Just go with what you feel.

Christians have an answer (“it violates the Fifth Commandment”), and so do legal positivists (“it breaks a clear law promulgated by a legitimate legislator”), but since modern people wouldn”t know the Bible if King James slapped them upside the head with it, and even fewer people know what “legal positivism” means, those answers are no good. I’ve actually asked undergrads about this, and the answers are … interesting, by which I mean horrifying:

Lots of them want to get hypothetical. They want to know just why Person X murdered Person Y. This, they think, will let them off the hook for making a moral judgment (moral judgments are of course always and everywhere wrong on campus). If I say “Because X wanted Y’s new pair of Air Jordans,” for instance, the students come back with “Then it’s wrong because a human life isn’t worth a pair of sneakers.” If I say, “Because X is a psychopath who thinks Y is Hitler,” then they come back with NGRI — it’s wrong because Y isn’t Hitler. But neither of those is a satisfactory answer, I point out. In the case of the sneakers, by saying “they’re not worth a human life,” we’re implying that

  • human life has a value; and
  • we all know exactly what that value is; and
  • there’s some threshold above which “murder” IS worth it.

Which feeds nicely into the second student answer, because killing Hitler is still murder if a private citizen does it. The hangmen who did for the Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg weren’t guilty of murder, but someone who walked in off the street and put one in Hans Frank’s head would’ve been. It doesn’t matter if you know what Hitler was going to do, any more than it matters if you know what Hitler did. If you shoot him on April 9, 1932, it’s murder, just as it is if you shoot him on April 29, 1945.

This is where the kids turn away: how can it be wrong to kill Hitler? He is, after all, Hitler. And it’s only a short step from there to “We should kill so-and-so, because he’s just like Hitler.” Which explains why we have maladroits like Antifa, who are basically the Ku Klux Klan with a wardrobe upgrade.

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Hitchin’ a ride

Gravity 1, stowaway 0:

A suspected stowaway who is believed to have fallen from the landing gear of a flight into Heathrow Airport has been found dead in a London garden.

The body — believed to be that of a man — was found in Offerton Road, Clapham just before 15:40 BST on Sunday.

“Believed to be that of a man” strikes me as a 50-50 shot, give or take.

Police said it was thought the individual fell from a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi.

A neighbour said the body fell a metre away from a resident who had been sunbathing in the garden.

Still, I have to tip my hat, such as it is, to someone who tries to hang on for dear life for over 4200 miles.

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Worst parent ever?

You know, if your objective is to avoid public shame, maybe you shouldn’t do shameful things:

Days after 17-year-old Zeenat Rafiq eloped with a man against her family’s wishes, her relatives asked her to return home so they could throw her a proper ceremony.

“Don’t let me go, they will kill me,” her husband Hassan Khan recalled her saying, according to the Associated Press.

She was Punjabi. He was Pashtun. Her family was furious that she ran away and got married without their permission.

An uncle eventually convinced her to return. On Wednesday, Zeenat was burned alive by her mother.

Police say the mother, Parveen, tied Zeenat to a cot and poured kerosene before setting her on fire, according to the Guardian. It’s the latest of several “honor killings,” a practice that kills hundreds of girls each year in Pakistan.

Outrage by American feminists was conspicuous by its absence.

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Driven to it

In the worst way, you may be sure:

A teenager who said she was raped by two men died by legal euthanasia in the Netherlands, it’s emerged.

Noa Pothoven made a “sad last post” to social media last week in which she announced she would “die within 10 days.”

The 17-year-old detailed her struggles with sexual assault, depression, and anorexia in her award-winning biography Winning or Learning.

She wrote in her book that she was first assaulted at the age of 11 and raped by two men when she was just 14 years old, facts she hid from her parents because she was ashamed.

In her last post on Instagram, the young girl wrote that she had stopped eating and drinking and that her suffering was “unbearable.”

She wrote that her decision was “final” and that she had not been alive for a while.

“I breathe but no longer live,” she wrote.

Just once, I want to see a story end with “The rapist was led to a remote compound, where he was eaten by wolverines.”

(Via Lauren Chen.)

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Things go deader with coke

This guy was apparently all warm and smuggly, until he wasn’t warm anymore:

A Japanese man has died on a flight from Mexico City after ingesting 246 bags of cocaine.

The flight, bound for Japan’s Narita International Airport, had to make an emergency landing in Mexico’s Sonora state after he began to have seizures.

Authorities said the man, identified as Udo N, died of a cerebral edema caused by a drug overdose.

The passenger transferred to the flight after starting his journey in the Colombian capital Bogotá.

According to a statement by Sonora’s attorney general, the bags — measuring 2.5cm long and 1cm wide — were found in his stomach and intestines during the autopsy.

And the 198 other passengers flew on across the Pacific.

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Florida man killed by non-Florida bird

As though there aren’t enough Florida creatures to kill you already:

It's a cassowary

A large, flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea killed its Florida owner when it attacked him after he fell.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun that a cassowary killed the man Friday on his property near Gainesville, likely using its long claws. The victim’s name was not released.

Cassowaries are similar to emus and stand up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and weigh up to 130 pounds (59 kilograms). The San Diego Zoo’s website calls them the world’s most dangerous bird with a four-inch (10-centimeter), dagger-like claw on each foot that can cut open people or predators.

“You can’t drive around with a tiger in your car,” said Roger Miller. Imagine what he might have said of the cassowary.

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i blame jet fuel

And, of course, the desire of government agencies to expand their reach:

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is putting billboards across the city to remind Oklahoma residents that where you live could affect how long you live.

“It’s a shocking statistic,” said Oklahoma City-County Health Department executive director Gary Cox.

The gap is 18 years.

It’s the number that separates the average life expectancy age from the highest average zip code in Oklahoma City to the lowest.

“So what that really means is a child that’s born in one of those zip codes … could live up to 18 years average shorter life span than a child that perhaps may be born in a suburban or another part of our county,” said Cox.

At best, this is only half a surprise:

The lowest life expectancy age, almost 64, is zip code 73145.

Otherwise known as … Tinker Air Force Base.

Which Farker noticed this first? Why, the first one, of course.

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We miss him already

I didn’t even know the guy, but I have to figure, if his obituary starts off like this, it would have been worth it and then some:

Tim Schrandt (Lynyrd) made his last inappropriate comment on March 29, 2019. If you are wondering if you may have ever met him, you didn’t — because you WOULD remember. For those of you that did meet him, we apologize, as we’re sure he probably offended you. He was world renowned for not holding back and telling it like it is.

Tim was born to William (Bill) Schrandt and Mary (Schrandt) Manning on June 11, 1955 — 100 years too late. Given Tim’s demeanor he would have been the perfect weathered cowboy in the old west or rough and tough pioneer, or maybe he just should have been Amish.

Tim was the 4th of 8 kids, the bottom rung of the top tier (the big kids). Instead of taking his place on that rung, listening to the older kids and doing as he was told by his older siblings, he decided to anoint himself “king” of the 4 little kids. Tim spent his childhood and early adulthood ordering them around and in general, tormenting them. He was a great orator (not like Shakespeare, but more like Yogi Berra), as he always had something to say, and always had to get in the last word.

(Via Joy McCann.)

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The 100th problem

From the “Did I miss something?” files: What year did Jay Z die???

No, really:

i’ve been looking on google and various sites but can’t seem to find an answer, it’s like his death doesn’t matter.

Um, admittedly Beyoncé came down hard on his ass, but let the record show that Jay Z is not dead.

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What is Stage Four?

“The thing to note about Stage Four,” said Christopher Hitchens, “is that there is no Stage Five.”

Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy! v2.0 since its debut in 1984 (Art Fleming did the 1.0 version through the 1960s and 1970s), isn’t going to let Stage Four get him down:

“Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he said. “Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working.

“And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers, also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” he said.

He then joked that he has to keep working due to contractual obligations.

“Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”

It’s hard to imagine Trebek not working. For that matter, it’s hard for Trebek to imagine Trebek not working:

In 2018, while being interviewed by Harvey Levin on Fox News, Trebek floated the idea of retirement, saying the odds of him leaving Jeopardy! in 2020 were 50/50 “and a little less”. He added that he might continue if he is “not making too many mistakes” but would make an “intelligent decision” as to when he should give up the emcee role. However, in October that year, he signed a new contract to continue as host through 2022.

He’d had a few health issues before, but heck, the man is 78 years old. In the meantime, I’m guessing he’ll take Thoughts and Prayers for $1000.

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Definition of a good night

It makes sense to me, anyway:

Or, as Churchill said, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

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Here endeth the lesson

The last words he blogged:

If I were a bettin’ man I would say this was probably my last Thanksgiving — let’s be honest. But this one had everything I could ever ask for.

And he was right, perhaps on both counts. Steve Krodman, the man who was Elisson, he who was Lost in the Cheese Aisle, has now gone forward to a place where he can tell mostly-clean jokes to enraptured angelic passers-by. He might even play catch with Lou Gehrig, who died of the same terrible disease.

I can only hope that when my time approaches, as it must, I can bear up with even a third of his equanimity.

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Where no one has gone before

Agnes Milowka would have been thirty-seven tomorrow.

Born in Poland in 1981, she wound up with several university degrees, although the one perhaps most pertinent was her 2007 degree in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University in South Australia. Underwater photography was a specialty, although she might have told you that getting there is more than half the fun. National Geographic once brought her to the Bahamas, where she served as an underwater grip and as a photographer.

Agnes Milowka overlooking a series of caves

Agnes Milowka at cliffside

Agnes Milowka on dry land

Here, she tackles a cave in north Florida:

James Cameron was the executive producer for Sanctum, which opened the first week of February 2011, and which contains this scene:

While exploring the entrance to the new system, Judes (Allison Cratchley) experiences a problem with her air tank hose. She loses use of her air mask forcing Frank (Richard Rosburgh) to buddy breathe. After a few exchanges, Judes panics and tries to keep the mask on, but Frank forces the mask off of her knowing he will not have enough air otherwise to make it back to the team.

Shades of The Cold Equations! But that’s not Cratchley you see drowning: that’s Agnes Milowka, hired by the production company as a stunt diver. Some scenes were filmed near Mount Gambier, in South Australia, and one of the caves along the coast proved to be her undoing:

Agnes Milowka, 29, from Melbourne, failed to return from a dive in Tank Cave, near Mount Gambier, on 27 February.

According to Australian press reports, Milowka entered the 8km-long cave system, one of Australia’s largest and most complex, with a buddy.

She got into difficulty after parting company to explore a tight constriction which necessitated going solo, a common practice amongst cave divers.

Searching divers located her body the next day, in a small space some 600m into the cave system.

“There is no greater feeling in the world,” she had said, “than finding a passage that no one ever in the history of the world has seen before.”

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You can quit peeling the onions now

Caption pretty much says it all: “Cat sees his owner who died years ago and can’t hold it in when he sees the video.” Clumsy wording, perhaps, but the emotion is pure:

All I need now is for someone to tell me it’s a fake.

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This is why your algorithm sucks

Gillian Brockell holds the position of Video Editor at the Washington Post, which published this heartbreaker of a tale:

Dear Tech Companies:

I know you knew I was pregnant. It’s my fault, I just couldn’t resist those Instagram hashtags — #30weekspregnant, #babybump. And, silly me! I even clicked once or twice on the maternity-wear ads Facebook served up. What can I say, I am your ideal “engaged” user.

You surely saw my heartfelt thank-you post to all the girl friends who came to my baby shower, and the sister-in-law who flew in from Arizona for said shower tagging me in her photos. You probably saw me googling “holiday dress maternity plaid” and “babysafe crib paint.” And I bet Amazon even told you my due date, January 24th, when I created that Prime registry.

But didn’t you also see me googling “braxton hicks vs. preterm labor” and “baby not moving”? Did you not see my three days of social media silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me? And then the announcement post with keywords like “heartbroken” and “problem” and “stillborn” and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?

You see, there are 24,000 stillbirths in the United States every year, and millions more among your worldwide users. And let me tell you what social media is like when you finally come home from the hospital with the emptiest arms in the world, after you and your husband have spent days sobbing in bed, and you pick up your phone for a few minutes of distraction before the next wail. It’s exactly, crushingly, the same as it was when your baby was still alive. A Pea in the Pod. Motherhood Maternity. Latched Mama. Every damn Etsy tchotchke I was considering for the nursery.

You can imagine the rest.

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The Law of Conservation of Evil

One way or another, this baby was going to get whacked:

An Indiana high school football player told investigators that he killed a 17-year-old schoolmate because he was angry that she waited so long to tell him she was pregnant with his child that it was too late to get an abortion, authorities said Monday.

Aaron Trejo, 16, was charged as an adult with murder in the Sunday killing of Breana Rouhselang and the fetus. He was arrested Sunday, scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday and had no attorney on record.

In a court filing supporting the charges, prosecutors say Trejo told police that he stabbed Rouhselang during a fight over her pregnancy and that he put her body in a restaurant dumpster in their hometown of Mishawaka.

Now there’s an actual example of toxic masculinity, though it’s less that Trejo had XY chromosomes and more that Trejo was a murderous asshole.

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Claims must be filed in person

I don’t mind telling you, I don’t want to be there to see it happen:

Lifetime warranty on caskets

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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Rules of thumb

This seems pretty indisputable:

I still giggle at the memory of my sister’s midwifery training at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, many decades ago. At one point there was a spate of “blue babies”, infants who were not breathing, or not breathing properly, at birth. To jolt her trainee midwives into being more aware of the problem, the matron in charge of that class put up a notice in the break room. In large capital letters, it warned:

THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF LIFE ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS!

It didn’t take long before someone added, in equally bold print:

THE LAST FIVE MINUTES ARE A BIT DODGY, TOO!

For the time in between, you take your chances.

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I hope the place is packed

Too many old soldiers just fade away in the distance, forgotten by the rest of the world.

Funeral announcement for the late Stanley Stoltz

Rest well, sir.

(With thanks to Laura Ledford.)

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The alpha male brings his own particles

We may yet see a scheme like this:

A long time ago, one of Reason magazine’s writers suggested that Israel could secure its borders against the more common sort of invaders and terrorists by making them radioactive, such that anyone who attempts an unauthorized entry would be fried as he did so. At the time there were practical problems that made such a project dubious of completion, but the fundamental idea — make the border automatically hostile to life — remains attractive.

Today it could be done rather easily, and at a modest cost compared to the complete militarization of the border. Indeed, it could be incorporated into President Trump’s proposed wall. Don’t bother climbing over or tunneling under it; either way you’ll get a lethal dose of neutrons. Anyone who did manage to cross would be easy to detect by his, ah, glowing personality.

Of course, if you’re a traditionalist, you may prefer the Hungarian approach.

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Mummy’s on holiday

Well, sort of:

Passport of Ramesses II

This passport was issued in compliance with Egyptian law at the time of the journey, which was deemed an emergency:

On an autumn day in 1976, a French Air Force plane touched down at Le Bourget airport just outside Paris. The plane was carrying one of the world’s great statesmen, a famous war leader in need of urgent medical treatment. Ramesses II may have been dead for more than 3000 years but his mummified body was welcomed with as much ceremony as any living head of state.

He had been the most magnificent of all the pharaohs, but his mummy was in poor shape. Early on, he was roughed up by tomb robbers, prompting priests to move him to a secret location. In 1881, that too was discovered and from then on the king’s corpse was moved from place to place, partly unwrapped, even exhibited standing up, all of which took a heavy toll. Now, battered and cracked, he was under attack from bacteria, fungi and insects. Ancient Egyptians embalmed their dead to ensure the body stayed intact for eternity, otherwise the soul wouldn’t have the use of it in the afterlife. If Ramesses’s soul was to endure, his mummy needed urgent attention to stop the rot.

His occupation was listed as “King (deceased).” Which, after all, he was, as of 1213 BC.

(Via Never Yet Melted.)

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Olympia closes Death Row

It’s been eight years since Washington state executed anyone, and they swear never to do it again:

Washington has become the 20th US state to ban the death penalty, after its Supreme Court ruled the punishment was applied in an “arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

The eight people currently on death row in the northwestern state immediately had their sentences commuted to life.

The court’s 9-0 decision was fine with the governor:

Justices of the Washington court are chosen by popular vote.

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