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Saturday :: October 25, 2014

Saturday Open Thread

What's on your minds today? Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: October 24, 2014

4th Day of Jury Deliberations in Robel Phillipos Trial

The jury is in its fourth day of deliberations in the trial of Robel Phillipos, the friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev charged with two counts of making a false statement to federal officials in a terror investigation. Count One pertains to his statements to authorities on April 20, 2013, and Count 2 relates to statements made on April 25, 2013.

One of the reasons it may be taking so long: The jury must be unanimous as to any particular false statement he made. While there are only two counts, there are two allegedly false statements in the first count and seven in the second count. The jury has to discuss and arrive at a consensus on each. [More....]

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Zale Thompson's Hatchet Attack on Police in Queens

Zale Thompson of Queens, New York attacked four recent police academy graduates with a hatchet on the street in Queens yesterday as they were posing for a picture. The incident was caught on tape. One officer was struck in the head and is in critical condition. Another officer was struck in the arm and was treated and released from the hospital. The other two officers shot at Thompson, who died at the scene.

Authorities are pouring over his social media contacts to determine the motive for the attack and whether he has links to terrorists like ISIS. As far as I can tell, he's a militant whose cause is the oppression of African Americans in America, not religious oppression. He's interested in Africa and America, not the Middle East. I see nothing to indicate he cares about Sharia law. [More...

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Thursday :: October 23, 2014

First Case of Ebola in NYC Confirmed

A doctor in New York who recently returned from Africa has been confirmed to have Ebola. It was the main story on CNN (Sirius in the car) all afternoon, segment after segment.

He went bowling (I think they said last night) and he took an Uber taxi to the bowling alley. His girlfriend is in quarantine.

Every politician and doctor interviewed said there's no threat to anyone except those he came in direct contact with, which is very few people. Since he's a doctor, he knew what to look for and acted appropriately. So why is this such important news?

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Thursday Open Thread

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Canadian Shooting Suspect Zehaf-Bibeau 's Background

Update: Susan Bibeau and Bulgasem Zehaf have made a statement expressing their devastation at their son's actions and their sorrow for the victim, his family and people of Canada. His mother says she grieves for the people, not her son. She spoke with him last week, for the first time in five years.

Susan Bibeau said she was devastated for the victims of the attack. "If I'm crying it's for the people," she said, struggling to hold back tears. "Not for my son."

...."I am mad at my son, I don't understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time."

She said he seemed lost and "and did not fit in."
"I his mother spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that...."So I have very little insight to offer."

[More...]

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Wednesday :: October 22, 2014

Leaks in Michael Brown Death Investigation

I haven't been following the Michael Brown case lately, but I am interested in the issue of law enforcement leaks that favor Officer Wilson at a time when the grand jury is considering whether to charge him.

The spokesman for the St. Louis prosecutor ’s office, Ed Magee, blows off the leaks with:

“There’s really nothing to investigate,” Magee said Wednesday. “We don’t have control over anybody leaking anything. All we can control is people in our office and the grand jury, and it’s not coming from us or the grand jury.”

He blames federal officials because his office has been sharing information with the Department of Justice and the articles with the leaked information refer to the sources as "officials briefed on the investigation." [More...]

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Shootings at Parliament in Ottawa

There were three shooting incidents today in Ottawa. One was inside Parliament, one at the War Memorial where a soldier was shot, and one near the Rideau Centre Mall. At least one shooter, the one at Parliament, is dead. Prime Minister Harper was inside Parliament at the time but rushed to a secure location.

Much of downtown Ottawa is on lockdown. All Canadian military bases and Ottawa police stations are now closed to the public. The U.S. Embassy is also closed. People are being urged to stay away from downtown as the shooting investigation is still active.

Here's a Reddit live thread. The City of Ottawa twitter feed is providing updates of closures. Ottowa police provide this address for anyone with photos or video of the Parliament shooting.

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Wednesday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full, so here's a new one. All topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: October 21, 2014

New Prosecution Over Non-Existent Oregon Training Camp

The U.S. just can't let the terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon die, even though it never existed.

Since 2002, the U.S. has been charging and imprisoning people for acts related to the Bly camp that were committed in 1999. (New York Times article from 2002 here.) Its last conquest was Abu Hamza al Masri, the one eyed Sheikh with no hands but a hook (photo here), also extradited from the U.K.

Today, yet another suspect, mentally ill Haroon Aswat, arrived in the U.S. . He pleaded not guilty to terror charges concerning the camp. He has been in a mental hospital in the U.K. since 2008. The U.S. assured the U.K. it would provide treatment for him, and although in 2013, the European Court of Human Rights blocked his extradition, the U.K. courts approved it after receiving the U.S. assurances. [More...]

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Robel Philippos: Verdict Watch

The jury has been deliberating for an hour in in the trial of Robel Philippos,the friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who is charged with lying to the FBI. Closing arguments were held this morning.

Prosecutors say Phillipos, 21, lied to investigators about his whereabouts and what he saw on April 18, 2013, when he and two friends allegedly visited Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removed a backpack of evidence after the marathon bombings. After several interviews, Phillipos signed a written confession admitting he had lied and that he regretted doing so.

Phillipos’s defense team contends that he was a scared 19-year-old at the time who was “high out of his mind” during interviews with investigators and could not remember clearly. The confession, they argued, was coerced by investigators.

[More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Update: The judge sentenced Oscar to five years in prison on the culpable homicide charge and imposed a three year suspended sentence on the firearm count. The sentences will run concurrently. He was taken into custody. Neither side indicated they were going to appeal, and there was no mention of bail pending appeal or a delay to put his affairs in order. Oscar sat by himself throughout the sentencing, and did not display any emotion at the sentence. I didn't see any interaction between Oscar and his lawyer during the proceeding or after.

A summary of the judge's reasoning is below (from my notes this time, not tweets.)[More...]

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Monday :: October 20, 2014

Monday Night Open Thread

I'm just catching up on today's news.

The Supreme Court will decide whether police can seize hotel registries of guests without a warrant. The 9th Circuit ruled the California law allowing warrantless access to the data violated the 4th Amendment. Among the data hotels are required to obtain from guests:

[I]dentification, method of payment, the license plate numbers of their cars and how much they paid. For guests who pay in cash or stay for less than 12 hours, it requires even more details.

The fighting in Kobane increased today. ISIS launched more suicide attacks, including one on a Kurdish village in Iraq where they disguised themselves in Peshmerga uniforms. They also struck again in Baghdad, killing 17 or 19 people attending a funeral at a mosque, and in Karbala. Congress approved the sale of $600 million in tank ammunition to Iraq. Who's the lucky seller? General Dynamics Corp. [More...]

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Sunday :: October 19, 2014

Jared Polis: The Most Internet Friendly Congressman

Jared Polis is one of my favorite Congresspersons. (Unfortunately, I don't get to vote for him because he's not in my district.) Kevin Collier of the Kernel and The Daily Dot writes about Jared today:

Jared Polis (D-Colo.) may be the most Internet-friendly congressman in history. He certainly has the credentials: A former Web entrepreneur, he’s the first openly gay parent in congressional history, a proponent of legalizing marijuana, an active redditor, and a League of Legends gamer. He’s also long accepted campaign contributions in Bitcoin, the booming cryptocurrency.

He says Jared has "assembled what is essentially the best Internet freedom voting record possible" and then lists Jared's accomplishments. They are too long too quote, but quite impressive, so please read the article. [More...]

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Fl Supreme Court Says Warrant Needed for Cell Tower Data

Courts continue to be divided on whether a search warrant is needed for cops to obtain cell site locator data. This week the Florida Supreme Court ruled a warrant is necessary. It is the first state to decide the issue based on the 4th Amendment.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written, it would also cover the use of so-called “stingrays”—sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms.

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