healthcare, YouTube

A Texas OB-GYN spells out in detail why the new abortion ban is so dangerous…

Above is a screen shot of a photo of dentist, Savita Halappanavar, who died in Ireland on October 28, 2012. She died of septicemia at age 31, because doctors could not give her the abortion she requested due to miscarriage. Naturally, the pro-lifers in Ireland generously offered their “thoughts and prayers” to Halappanavar’s family.

Yesterday, I ran across this excellent YouTube video by an obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in Texas. I don’t know how I got linked up with Mama Doctor Jones, who makes videos about women’s healthcare for YouTube. I think I recently saw a video she made about having COVID-19. She didn’t sugarcoat her experience, which I really appreciated.

In any case, I happened to see a recent video she posted about Texas’s new abortion ban. And make NO mistake about it, it is an outright ban. She explains why that’s so in the video below.

Please watch this video. She puts into words why this ban is going to cause suffering and will ultimately cause some women to die.

I commented on an article about the ban that was run by the Washington Post, pointing out that no one with actual experience with gynecology, embryology, or just plain medicine had anything to do with writing this law. It definitely shows… and Dr. Jones explains in clear detail why that is such a huge problem. Especially since the law doesn’t make allowances for any exceptions. Yes, I know that technically abortion will be allowed before cardiac activity is presented, but most people don’t realize that it’s pretty much impossible to arrange for an abortion at that point in a pregnancy. Dr. Jones clearly explains why that’s also so.

Several years ago, Ireland finally made abortion legal. The reason they finally did that is because of a well-publicized death of a dentist that occurred because Ireland used to have a law like the one in Texas. 31 year old Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant with a baby she wanted when she started suffering a miscarriage. Because of Ireland’s draconian laws against abortion at the time, doctors were hesitant to help her with the inevitable miscarriage. She had to wait for the fetus to die before she could get medical help, and she ended up dying of septicemia. In the above video, Dr. Jones mentions this case in Ireland, and the absolutely horrifying bind the law put Irish doctors in when Halappanavar presented herself for care. Now, doctors in Texas are in a similar situation.

The doctor also explains why abortions are also sometimes the kindest thing for developing fetuses and their mothers. Imagine getting the news that the baby you very much want to be born has developed with no kidneys. Dr. Jones explains that she’s seen this defect, and the babies who have it uniformly die of suffocation after birth because their lungs haven’t developed.

Imagine being the mother in that case, knowing that your baby is destined to die very soon after birth, no matter what you do. In some of those cases, women prefer to give birth and hold the baby as it passes away, but others are traumatized by the idea of having to tell people that their baby is going to die after birth. Having access to abortion is one way to spare parents that kind of grief. Unfortunately, thanks to the overbearing anti-abortion efforts of meddlesome pro-life people, the folks who are in this sad situation and need an abortion for medical reasons STILL have to listen to the bullshit anti-abortion information that is supposed to change their minds. And they still have to wait 24 hours, too.

When I made my comment about how no one with medical training had anything to do with writing this law, I promptly got a “laughing” reaction from a man. I want to think this man isn’t as big of a dick as he comes across when he laughs at people who are so concerned about this new overreaching and diabolical law against women. I responded to the guy and wrote something along the lines of, “it really sucks that a MAN is laughing about this. My comment is very serious. People will suffer and DIE because of this new law.” Sadly, a lot of people just plain don’t care.

I am not going to be affected by this law. My days of being able to conceive are almost over. I don’t live in Texas right now, anyway… nor do I live in any of the “red” states that will probably try to pass similarly dangerous and misogynistic laws. I am concerned for all of the women who are coming behind me and WILL be affected. I want to use my voice to advocate for them.

I am also concerned because I know that OB-GYNs already pay very high medical malpractice insurance premiums for the work they do. They are already at a high risk of being sued. How many of them will either leave Texas or get out of the OB-GYN field entirely? That will leave women without medical care.

I hope and pray that this new law gets repealed as soon as possible. I am truly worried for the women of Texas. I also worry for the children that will be born and may wind up in a social welfare system that is ill equipped to care for them. Texas is not exactly known for helping people who are down on their luck.

I want to praise Mama Doctor Jones for making this video. I think she is very brave. And I hope I can encourage those of you who are reading this to watch it and gain an understanding as to why this law is so dangerous and will have a devastating effect on women’s health in Texas, and probably beyond Texas.

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musings, racism

Repost: Is Liam Neeson guilty of a “hate crime”?

Here’s a repost of an article I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. It originally appeared February 6, 2019. I’m sharing it again, because last night, I watched Liam Neeson’s Taken series– three movies worth– because Bill had to work very late. As I watched Liam’s character, Bryan Mills, kicking the crap out of bad guys in a very satisfying way, I was reminded of this post I wrote just before I had to shut down access to my old blog. I think it’s worth another look.

I believe that old song in Avenue Q.  I think everyone’s a little bit racist, even though some people believe that you can only be racist if you’re a member of the “dominant” racial group.  Actor Liam Neeson is a White man who recently confessed that after a friend was violently raped by a Black man, he prowled the streets with a club, looking for a Black man to beat up.  He said he was actually “hoping” to be approached by someone giving him an excuse to beat the shit out of them with a “cosh” (British word for club).

Neeson’s violent revenge fantasy occurred about forty years ago.  He never did beat anyone up. He was simply very angry about the violent crime committed against his friend and he wanted to avenge her.  He says he’s ashamed of how he reacted to the rape and sorry for having those violent impulses to hurt other people.

Liam Neeson talks about that controversy from 40 years ago. I think he should be commended for his honesty and integrity.

Naturally, the papers have been having a field day with the story.  Lots of people seem to think Mr. Neeson needs a good public flogging for something that happened 40 years ago.  I don’t condone Neeson’s violent impulses to hurt just anyone who happened to be Black.  However, I do feel like he should be commended for his honesty.  It’s not an easy thing to do, admitting those feelings publicly, as hateful and hurtful as they are.  It’s awful to hear about them, but it does get people thinking and talking.  Is that a bad thing? By the way, I HIGHLY recommend listening to Neeson speak in the above video. He makes a lot of sense.

Neeson eventually came to the conclusion that violence begets violence.  He found more constructive ways to deal with his rage, to include power walking for two hours a day.  He spoke to his friends and a priest.  He also said that if the man had not been Black, he still would have had those same feelings of primal rage and wanting to get revenge. In this case, it was apparently a Black man who perpetrated the crime against his friend.  It could have been anyone, though.  Also, consider that this happened in Northern Ireland forty years ago, during “The Troubles”.  It was a pretty violent time all around, particularly between English people and Irish people.  I’m sure that contributed to Neeson’s state of mind.

In my opinion, Liam Neeson’s situation isn’t really the same as Governor Ralph Northam’s situation in Virginia.  He’s under fire for having been in a racist photo 35 years ago.  Governor Northam is in a leadership position, though, and is a physician.  The photo was taken when he was in medical school.  And it had nothing to do with being justifiably angry.  That photo was about simple mockery of people not like him.  To my knowledge, it wasn’t prefaced by violent crime or anything that would cause a person to feel “passionate”.  It was just plain stupidity.

I can understand being so angry that one becomes blinded by rage.  I don’t condone acting on that rage. It turns out, Neeson never did. He never hurt or killed anyone in reaction to his friend’s rape.  Soon afterward, he was ashamed of himself and took active steps to mend his ways. Forty years later, people want to cancel him for simply admitting that he had these dark thoughts after a dear friend was raped.

Is it awful that Neeson had those violent and racially biased fantasies?  Yes, I believe it is, although I think having them is pretty “human”.  Is it awful that he publicly admits to having those fantasies?  I don’t think so.  Why punish the man for simply being honest?  At least he’s worked on his issues.  At least he acknowledges them.  Apparently, that incident from Neeson’s past has also been used as a tool in his movies, like Taken and Ransom.  That just goes to show that even the worst impulses can be used for something positive if we’re careful.

Another perspective from the other side of the pond. Quite interesting and refreshing.

I do think people should be able to live down the things they did in the past, particularly if they acknowledge them and show that they’ve tried to make amends. We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done or said or thought… or, at least I believe we should be. I think Neeson has taken steps to make amends for having those violent, racist impulses over forty years ago.  Northam, to my admittedly limited knowledge, has also apparently tried to change his ways.  He supposedly has a good reputation as a physician and as a governor, aside from this unfortunate relic from his past. 

Of course, now there’s been talk of a sexual assault claim against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would be poised to take Northam’s place if he resigns.  Personally, I think the hullabaloo in Virginia is more about people upset about Northam’s comments on abortion and desperate folks wanting to get the Democrats out of office in Virginia.  The timing of this is just too funky.

As for Liam Neeson… I think people should stop and think before they pick up their torches and pitchforks.  Should we be more concerned about people who are honest about having racist feelings or those who hide them?  Truly, I think everyone has prejudices.  No one is immune to preconceived notions about other people.  I, for one, think Neeson was brave to share his story, knowing how public backlash can happen and what it can lead to.  It’s good to think and talk about these things.  But then, Liam Neeson is probably in a position where he can talk about these things and not fear losing everything.

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Ex, music, social media, videos

Someone you might know…

Last night, around dinner time, I played my latest recording for Bill. I almost always cringe when I hear my voice, because I always hear things I would like to have done differently. But Bill likes my efforts, and I knew he would especially enjoy the video I made for “Sand and Water” because it was made with footage from our trip to Ireland in 2016.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile and followed me on Blogspot may remember that November 2016 was kind of an interesting time for many reasons. It was when Trump was elected, so people were on edge about that. I remember arguing with some of my friends and relatives about Trump at that time. Eventually, a lot of those people– my loved ones– showed sides of themselves I didn’t like. I deleted a lot of them from social media. I also learned that month that our beloved beagle, Zane, had mast cell cancer. The diagnosis came right before our anniversary. Arran had also had a mast cell tumor removed, but his never really affected him. Zane had more trouble with the disease and eventually succumbed to lymphoma last year. Many dogs who have had mast cell tumors go on to get lymphoma. In 2016, he had about three years left, but I didn’t know that, and I was very stressed.

November 2016 was also when went to Ireland for our fourteenth wedding anniversary. Bill had been there before, but if I had ever been, it was during a time when I was too young to remember. That anniversary trip was our first time in Ireland together, and, for many reasons, it was a trip we had long awaited. At that time, we still thought Bill was more Irish than I am, although 23andMe and Ancestry.com both debunked that notion. It turns out my people are apparently mostly all from Britain and Ireland, with a smidge from Germany, Norway, and possibly Switzerland, while Bill has a more “colorful” ancestry.

One night during that trip, Bill’s younger daughter turned up on Facebook as “someone [he] might know”. When he saw that friend suggestion– his own daughter, whom he had not seen, talked to, or even emailed since 2004– he got a very serious and distressed expression on his face. It was the kind of expression one gets when someone important has died. I remember demanding that he tell me what was wrong. He really looked like he was very upset. Here’s an excerpt from my old blog about that incident:

So tomorrow, we’re headed back to Dublin for a night before we go back to Germany.  I will face my dogs and my never ending housework, along with Christmas decorations and everything else that goes with my existence.  We’ve had a pretty good vacation, but as it happens whenever I venture to this part of the world, something kind of bad happened tonight.

We were about to head to the pub next door when Bill checked his Facebook.  He suddenly got this stricken look on his face.  It was serious enough that I was wondering if there had been some kind of terrible accident or our country was under terrorist attack again.  I asked him what was wrong, because I was worried maybe he’d gotten a bad email about one of the dogs or a family member had died.  He didn’t want to tell me what was wrong.  I probably should have listened to him.  But I was thinking of the dogs and my worry about Zane all week, so I pressed.

He came over and showed me his Facebook feed.  There, under the “people you may know” section, was a picture of his long lost ex daughter.  She’s apparently married now, and uses her stepfather’s name and her husband’s.  Bill looked absolutely gutted, seeing a picture of her in her white dress and veil.  Naturally, because she is Mormon and Bill no longer is, he probably wouldn’t have been able to attend her wedding even if they were still speaking.  But because Bill’s ex prompted the kids to kick him out of their lives, he’s reduced to seeing them as “people you may know” on Facebook.

When I found out Bill was upset because his daughter had shown up as “someone [he] might know”, I was incensed. I know this may sound unreasonable to those who don’t know our story, but I was genuinely pissed off. At the time, younger daughter was behaving in ways that made us think she was like her mother. I resented yet another intrusion by one of Bill’s children, who refused to have anything to do with him, yet kept “popping up” during holidays and celebrations. For instance, one year, Bill called his father at Christmas to send holiday greetings, and he heard about how younger daughter didn’t want to talk to or about him. That made him cry, and Bill’s mom and I, who were due to celebrate Christmas at my sister’s house, had to calm him down. It put a damper on the holiday spirit, that’s for sure.

These kinds of “intrusions” had happened repeatedly throughout our relationship and, by 2016, I was really fed up with it. The kids had told Bill they wouldn’t speak to him again, but yet there was younger daughter… someone Bill might know on Facebook. In fact, Bill was the first person to hold her when she came out of the womb. He fed her, financially supported her, and changed her diapers. Yes, he knew her. But, at that point in time, she wouldn’t deign to so much as say hello to him. So yes, I was pissed… because we were in Ireland, where it was so beautiful and we were celebrating surviving 14 years of this kind of treatment. I wondered why she hadn’t blocked him.

Not long after that trip, Bill and his daughter started to message each other on Facebook. Bill had left her a tentative comment on condolences she’d left for Bill’s stepmom after their dog died. That opened the door for the communications to begin. At first, they kept it very superficial and light. They slowly got reacquainted. Bill even kept it from me for awhile because he didn’t want me to get angry.

Then they started emailing. At around this time, Bill told me they were in touch. Then, they Skyped. Bill said the first time they Skyped and his daughter saw him on video, she put her hand to her mouth and gasped. He looked so much like her beloved “Pawpaw” (Bill’s dad). Personally, I think Bill looks more like his mother, another relative younger daughter didn’t know, because her mother hates Bill’s mom. Bill’s mom was cut out of her granddaughters’ lives a few years before Bill lost touch with them. Younger daughter has since reconnected with her “grandmaMAH”!

In March of this year, Bill finally saw one of his two beloved children. He had a business trip in Vegas, and I told him that I thought he should take the opportunity to visit Utah and see his daughter, even though it would extend his trip. Bill went, and they spent two solid days talking and clearing up many years of lies and misunderstandings. Bill learned some pretty awful truths about what happened during the years they were apart. He found out that his daughter is much like he is. In fact, when she opened the door, younger daughter and Bill embraced for a very long time… and the two of them shed a lot of tears as they worked to undo all of the years of damage done to their relationship.

So last night, when I was playing “Sand and Water”, which is a very moving song that I paired with video from that Ireland trip, Bill’s heart overflowed with emotion. His eyes welled up with tears and he said, “We’ve taken so many great trips and seen so many things, all of which you’ve chronicled in pictures, videos, and writing. For so long, I thought our memories would die with us… and now I know they won’t.”

I’ve often wondered how it must have felt for Bill to be separated from his children for so long. His older daughter remains estranged, although we have heard that she knows her mother has problems. Younger daughter has made it clear that she knows her mom told her many lies. She has suffered quite a bit, and I wonder if Bill’s visit didn’t cause some angst for her. As good as it was for them to reconnect, I’m sure it brought up some uncomfortable issues that, at one time, she could easily cover up with her mother’s half baked stories. She and her sister were told that Bill chose to abandon the family and that he cheated on their mother with me. None of that was true, but I’m sure it made it easier for them to accept that he wasn’t there for them. Now she knows the truth, and it’s probably caused her some distress. It’s hard to accept that one’s mother deliberately hurts people. But she’s seen and experienced it firsthand. The truth is, Bill’s ex wife treats everyone this way eventually. She’s a cruel person.

But when we were in Ireland, I still didn’t know. I didn’t know the truth, although I suspected that Bill’s children were coerced and bullied, much like Bill had been. I knew they’d been lied to, but it pissed me off that they were so ready to accept the obvious lies. I had a hard time believing that anyone could be so blind. I know better now. When people are in crisis, they don’t usually think clearly. Cognitive dissonance blurs what is painfully clear to other people. It’s also really hard to accept that the person responsible for your existence has done terrible things… and younger daughter doesn’t even know the half of what she did to Bill. But then, we don’t know the half of what Ex did to her children or their other fathers.

I remember that when we were on our way to Ireland, I told Bill I just wanted to find some peace. Ultimately, I got my wish, although it took longer than I expected. I got so angry on that trip, but I didn’t know that it would lead to reconciliation, and ultimately, the peace I sought. For so many years, I have been seething at Bill’s ex wife and their children. But now, I know more of the truth, so I finally got some peace.

Anyway… it was interesting to watch that ocean footage again. We were so lucky to find such a beautiful little cottage in rural Ireland, right by the ocean. We could watch the waves and film the beauty. I remember making the videos with my camera, wondering if I’d ever get to use them on a project. They were perfect for yesterday’s song. Maybe Bill will share it with younger daughter… although it will take some time before he can tell her everything that led up to the video. Ultimately, Facebook’s suggestion of “someone [Bill] might know” was a good one. They’re still getting to know each other better, trying to make up for many precious years of lost time.

This one made Bill cry.
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music, videos

Sand and Water…

I couldn’t think of a subject to rant about, probably because I have been focused on music today… I did make a new video. It was inspired by an updated version of the song, “Sand and Water”, done by Beth Nielsen Chapman. She teamed up with Olivia Newton-John and Amy Sky in 2016 to make it a trio. I probably could have done this better, but I did have some fun using some video footage we got on our 2016 trip to Ireland…

Wish we were there right now.

It probably won’t get a lot of views, but at least it’s not me bitching, right?

Actually, this is a very comforting song for people who are bereaved. I found out last week that a woman I went to high school with died. I didn’t know her that well in high school and I doubt she thought highly of me, but I did donate some money to her children’s GoFundMe for her cremation. I found out that she’d moved from our hometown to my dad’s hometown of Natural Bridge, Virginia. She probably knew some of my relatives, at least in passing. I know there are some mutual friends among my relatives and her husband, who also went to our high school, but I don’t remember ever knowing him. I would remember his last name because it’s unusual.

Her daughter posted on Facebook that her mom died after being in a horrific car accident last year. She had to have surgeries and learn how to walk again, only to develop a severe infection a couple of months ago. Poor lady had to spend her last weeks in the hospital, separated from her family because of COVID-19, which she didn’t have, but nevertheless suffered from anyway…

When I read about her last weeks, I was genuinely moved and a bit overcome with compassion for her and her family. I actually cried. Like I said, we weren’t really friends when we were growing up, but we lived in a small community and everyone knew each other. I don’t think we hated each other, or anything, but I have a feeling she thought I was a weird person. A lot of people in Gloucester did… until they got to know me. I do remember one time she sang a solo for some talent contest. I think it was a Christian song she did… and she had a light soprano voice. She was in choir in high school, although I wasn’t. Most of our classmates never knew I can sing because it wasn’t something I did publicly back in those days. I remember she also dated my neighbor, but he pretty much hated me.

She married young, moved to Rockbridge County, which is where my dad was from, and had two kids. It looked like maybe her life was kind of hard, especially toward the end. I felt horrible for her family, and I do remember knowing her in school… or knowing of her, anyway.

And I also learned of a Facebook acquaintance’s sudden, tragic loss. Her young son was visiting his dad in Arizona when they were in a serious car accident. Dad and older sister were badly injured, but young son was killed. He was just eight years old. She shared pictures of him. He only had eight years to live, but seemed like such a beautiful child. My heart goes out to her, although I wouldn’t say we’re particularly close friends, either. In fact, I only know her from RfM and Facebook.

Anyway… it’s a pretty song, and one that has always touched me, so I decided to record it. Maybe someday, when I’m feeling less aggravated by iMovie, I’ll redo the vocals… although I think they mostly turned out fine. Sometimes, I’m my own worst critic. On the other hand, maybe those who listen will agree… I do love the beach scenery, though… and always find comfort and peace there.

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book reviews

Reviewing The Cocaine Diaries: A Venezuelan Prison Nightmare

Last year, I got on a kick, watching episodes of Locked Up Abroad. This is a television show that aired on National Geographic about people who committed crimes abroad and wound up in prison. I’m pretty sure that’s where I first heard of Irishman Paul Keany, who spent over two years locked up in Venezuela’s Los Teques Prison for trying to smuggle cocaine from Caracas, Venezuela to Dublin, Ireland.

Paul’s story on Locked Up Abroad…

Keany, who wrote his book The Cocaine Diaries with writer, Jeff Farrell, was a divorced father of two in Ireland in 2008. He was working as a plumber, but Ireland was going through a terrible recession and work dried up. He didn’t have enough money to support himself or pay his debts, and he was trying to support his teen-aged daughter, Katie, who had moved in with him. Desperate to make good on his bills, Keany found himself agreeing to fly to Caracas, pick up some cocaine, and bring it back to Dublin. In return for drug smuggling, he hoped to make 10,000 euros. Keany had never been to nor heard of Venezuela and his drug dealing contacts made it sound like it would be an easy crime. He’d get to have a nice holiday and make lots of money that would make his life easier. In retrospect, it was one of the worst decisions of his life.

Keany went to Caracas, picked up the cocaine, hid it in his suitcase, and headed for the airport. Once he was there, he got nabbed by the police, who hauled him off to jail. Keany spent many hours handcuffed to a staircase, where he was eventually sodomized by the police. He went to court and pleaded guilty to the crime, which got him a sentence of eight years. Tossed into Los Teques Prison, Keany had to fight to stay alive. The crowded prison was run mostly by the inmates, most of whom had access to weapons, drugs, cell phones, and computers. He mingled among rapists, child molesters, murderers, and drug-runners. He had to pay for everything– even his bed– and stand in line for the disgusting toilets. He had to pay “protection money” to prevent other inmates from beating or killing him. He was stabbed and raped, and feared for his life daily. His family was forced to support him; fortunately, they were willing. Los Teques was designed for 350 inmates, but over 1200 people are locked up there. You can imagine the effect that has on one’s quality of life.

However, the jail stint wasn’t all bad. Keany kept an extensive prison diary, made some friends, learned Spanish, and had enough interesting experiences to turn his story into an exciting book, which he published in 2012, with his friend, Jeff Farrell. Keany’s story is horrifying and it serves as a grim reminder that drug running is a bad idea that will most likely lead to a hellhole prison in a developing country. But Keany found humanity among his fellow prisoners as well as people in Venezuela who helped him get out of prison.

Keany was supposed to stay in Caracas for five years once he was paroled. Instead, he and another Irishman made a run for Colombia, where they had to use their wits to get past the border. Once they finally made it to the airport, they were nearly busted again for not having a proper passport stamp signifying when they entered the country. In fact, they lied to Irish embassy officials to get new passports, claiming they had been robbed. But… as you can see, Keany was successful in leaving South America. Fortunately, Venezuela has not pressed for his extradition. Ireland doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Venezuela, anyway.

Although I think I would rather die than go to prison myself, I do find stories about prison fascinating. This was one of the better prison memoirs I’ve read, even if Keany and Farrell had an annoying habit of abusing the reflexive pronoun, “myself”. They’d write sentences like “Myself and Billy went to the classroom.” I know people often speak this way, but I find it non-sensical and cringy. Why not write “Billy and I went to the classroom.”? That makes a lot more sense to me. On the other hand, this book is relatable because they authors have written it as if they are there with you, speaking to you about the ordeal. I found that aspect of the writing very compelling.

Another thing I noticed was that Keany makes some racist comments. Los Teques was a truly international prison and there were representatives from countries all over the world. Keany has names or slights for almost all of them. He refers to a Romanian prisoner as “the Gypsy”. He cracks about Nigerians who are asked to make stick figure drawings of their families, noting that it “should be easy due to all the famines over there”. He makes all sorts of comments about the women of Venezuela and Colombia, most of whom he thought were beautiful. But in one disappointing passage, he describes two Venezuelan women as fat, ugly, and “rotten”.

If you like a good prison memoir, I would recommend Paul Keany’s story, The Cocaine Diaries. At the very least, it serves as an excellent reminder that things that seem “too easy” almost never work out the expected way. However, Keany makes no pretenses of being a good man who was caught in the wrong place. The fact is, he is guilty of his crime, and he tried everything, legal or illegal, to get out of prison. And once he was out, he didn’t stick around and do things legally. He left illegally and prayed he wouldn’t get extradited. He deserved to get caught, although I will agree that he did not deserve to be gang raped, beaten, or stabbed. Hopefully, Keany’s learned his lesson and has left his life of crime in the past.

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