The union representing American Airlines pilots would like to see their members armed.
In a letter to Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, the Allied Pilots Association praised the Airport Security Federalization Act of 2001 --- which President Bush signed into law Monday -- but called for "a more definitive approach concerning the arming of pilots." As written, the act authorizes the carrying of firearms only "if the policy of the air carrier permits its pilots to be armed."
APA President Capt. John E. Darrah notes that without government indemnification of the air carriers and their pilots who have completed a training program, airlines likely will be reluctant to arm their pilots.
"APA supports a multi-layered defensive approach," wrote Darrah. "Non-lethal alternatives may well be ideal as an extra layer of protection for cabin crews, but lethal weapons are an essential component of a last line of defense."
Darrah further noted that APA's membership of 12,000 pilots includes former military pilots, current law enforcement officers, and active military reservists and members of the National Guard.
"We stand ready to assist in developing policies and procedures under which pilots could volunteer to be trained, certified and authorized to carry defensive lethal weapons as soon as possible," he wrote.
-- Should airline pilots be armed? Why or why not?
A doctor and a legal researcher at Northwestern University say physicians who participate in capital punishment violate medical ethics.
Dr. Linda Emanuel, a medical ethicist, and Professor Leigh Bienen, a senior lecturer on the death penalty at Northwestern School of Law, write in an editorial published in the November issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine that many doctors attend executions out of a sense of citizen obligation -- even though only about 28 states require physicians to take part.
While death penalty supporters often argue that the presence of a doctor can reduce the pain and suffering of a prisoner, the researchers contend that administering a drug "cocktail" for a lethal injection -- and other forms of legal execution like lethal gas and electrocution -- are inhumane and no more of a medical procedure than killing with a knife or gun.
The Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights, a group of more than 5,000 doctors and health professionals, issued a 75-page report in 1995 opposing lethal injection and physician participation in executions. The organization likened physician participation in capital punishment to physician-assisted suicide, contending both practices were violations of Hippocrates' principle to "first, do no harm."
In their editorial, Emanuel and Bienen said the suffering of a condemned prisoner often is masked during lethal injection and cite research indicating that physicians directly involved in executions were less willing to repeat the experience.
The House of Delegates of the American Medical Association in 1980 approved a resolution opposing physician participation in executions and expanded and reaffirmed the resolution in 1992 and 1997.
-- Do you agree that the attending doctor at an execution has violated medical ethics? Why or why not?
KENNEDY KIN TO BE TRIED AS ADULT
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Monday that Kennedy kin Michael Skakel will be tried as an adult on charges he murdered neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975, when both were 15.
The decision means that if convicted of beating Moxley to death with his mother's golf club, Skakel could face a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.
Ethel Kennedy's nephew had attempted to keep the case in juvenile court where a conviction could result in no more than four years in custody. The state's high court, however, in a unanimous decision dismissed his appeal of a lower court's decision to transfer the case from juvenile to adult court.
Skakel had argued that because he was 15 at the time of the alleged crime, the case should remain in juvenile court. He was 39 when arrested in January 2000.
Juvenile Court Judge Maureen Dennis had ruled that Skakel be tried in adult court in part because Connecticut has no juvenile facilities to accommodate a 41-year-old man.
Skakel -- the nephew of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy -- lived near Moxley in the gated Belle Haven section of Greenwich, Conn., when she was killed in October 1975. It wasn't until January 2000, however, that police charged him with the slaying.
His trial is expected to get under way next year.
-- Do you agree with the court decision to try Skakel as an adult, even though he was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed?