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Monday :: May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Open Thread

Today we justly honor the many men and women who died while serving in our Armed Forces.

This year, more than most, I'm struck by the fact that war is not a distant memory, or an occasional event, but an ever-present condition.

In war news, Iraqi forces stormed Fallujah early this morning, backed by U.S. aircraft, to retake the city from ISIS. In Baghdad yesterday, ISIS suicide bombings claimed the lives of more than 20 people.

Meanwhile more than 700 migrants, including children, may have died in sea crossings this week.

Hopefully, some of you have something cheerful to write about, even if it's just how you spent your weekend. This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: May 27, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Donald Trump has all the delegates he needs. Bernie Sanders does not. But Bernie's trying to stay relevant by debating Donald Trump. Yes, some polls have Hillary and Bernie in a dead heat in California. Others have Hillary with a wide lead. Others say there's a backlash against Bernie brewing.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: May 25, 2016

Hillary, Donald and Bernie Open Thread

I've had enough of the election for a while. I'm not particularly interested in Trump protests or Bernie Sanders' latest maneuvers. Or reports on Hillary's email.

Here's an open thread to discuss the election.

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El Chapo's Lawyers Denied Extradition Documents

Some new developments in the extradition efforts against Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman:

His lawyer Jose Refugio was refused permission to meet with El Chapo when he went to the Prison.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to give his lawyer, Andres Granados Flores, a copy of its extradition orders. It said it had given the certified copies directly to El Chapo.[More...]

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All Four ISIS "Beatles" Guards Now Identified

All four of the brutal British prison guards of ISIS's foreign hostages known as the Beatles have now been identified. Here's an interview with the mother of the 4th one, El Shafee Elsheikh, identified a few days ago by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

All are believed to have been part of Amr Al Absi's group, a story I've summarized numerous times (see here and here) and who was killed in a US air strike recently. [More...]

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Obama Family's Future Home in DC

President Obama and his family have picked a house to rent in D.C. after he leaves the White House. (They aren't going back to Chicago right away because daughter Sasha is still in high school.)

Check out the stunning photos of the home, which has more than 8,000 square feet (9 bedrooms.) The house belongs to former Clinton press spokesman Joe Lockhart who is now living in New York.

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Monday :: May 23, 2016

Indonesia Readying More Executions of Foreign Drug Offenders

Boycott Indonesia.

A new round of executions of foreign drug offenders is set for this week or next. Of the 15 set for killing, 10 are foreigners:

Ten of at least 15 convicts facing the firing squad at the Nusakambangan prison island in Central Java’s Cilacap regency are foreign citizens. ....In a rare move, police have revealed that among the foreign citizens are four Chinese, one Pakistani, two Nigerians, two Senegalese and one Zimbabwean.

Not on the list: Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso and Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui, both of whom got temporary reprieves at the 11th hour last year, and British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford. [More...]

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Fallujah, Syria, and ISIS

The battle by Iraqi forces to retake Fallujah has begun.

The U.S. says it killed the iconic Abu Wahib, ISIS's military commander of the Anbar province about 10 days ago. He's been declared dead before, but not by the Pentagon, which claims to have killed him in an airstrike near Rutbah.

ISIS conducted suicide bombings in Syria today killing a lot of people. [More..]

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"Bitter Bernie" Loses "Halo" Among Progressives

It's about time. Bernie is losing his halo among progressives.

A few days ago I wrote a post "Bitter Bernie" and it's still in my editing pile. I don't have time to edit it now, so I'll just post it. I named him "Bitter Bernie" because that's what I see when I watch him, and I can just imagine Trump using it.

Bernie Sanders grows more tiresome to me every day. His primary emotions are anger and bitterness. (See Kevin Drum on this.) He seems like a very unhappy, unfulfilled man. He's also tone-deaf to the best interests of Democrats, the very party whose nomination he wants and isn't going to get.

It may be over soon -- all except the street protests at the convention which will turn out to be a mess since his sore-loser supporters preach hate and intolerance. Sanders doesn't support hate and intolerance, but no one will know that since he refuses to criticize even the most unbecoming behavior of his supporters.

The reason it will be over soon: He's running out of cash, having spent his millions like a drunken sailor (or Jeb Bush, take your pick.) He's run through $40 million a month. Hillary has millions more than him. [More...]

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President Obama in Vietnam

President Obama is in Vietnam. He visited Ho Chi Minh's house. And he ended the arms embargo so weapons can now be sold to Vietnam.

What a pleasure to read Vietnam newspapers -- the ones I've seen don't have autoplay video. Here are some photos of the welcoming ceremony.

I'm sorry I haven't visited Vietnam. Here are ten reasons you really should go.

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Freddie Gray Officer Acquitted

A Baltimore judge today found police officer Edward Nero not guilty in the death of Freddie Gray. From the Baltimore Sun:

The judgment, following a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely-watched case. Nero, 30, faced four misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

Prosecutors had argued that Nero committed an assault by detaining Gray without justification, while the reckless endangerment charge related to Nero's role in putting Gray into an arrest wagon without buckling a seat belt. In closing arguments Thursday, Williams had skeptically questioned prosecutors about their theory of assault, which legal experts said was unprecedented.

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Sunday :: May 22, 2016

Sunday Night Open Thread

Sorry for disappearing. I've been working -- or reading about El Chapo (as well as ISIS) -- all weekend. Now I have a lot of recorded TV shows to watch.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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El Chapo's Options (Other Than Amparo)

Besides fighting extradition through requests for writs of Amparo and Appeals, which could take one to three years, what other options does Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman have for avoiding life in a U.S. prison?

His lawyer says they have a lawyer in the U.S. and they are interested in resolving all of his charges (and not by going into witness protection.) Via Google translate:

Before the endorsement of the Government of Mexico for his extradition to the United States, Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, could plead guilty in Exchange for some benefit, said his lawyer José Refugio Rodríguez, in an interview with EL UNIVERSAL.

The defense of Guzman Loera said that they have not contemplated that will welcome witnesses protected in that country programme, but yes looking for a settlement with the US authorities that require it.

[More...]

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Thursday :: May 19, 2016

Thursday Open Thread

It's a jail day for me, at least it's in the mountains.

Here's an open thread for you, all topics welcome.

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Trump's Worthless Advisers

The only thing I have to say about Trump's meaningless list of persons he might consider for the Supreme Court is that it's instructive as to the quality of the advice he's getting: Poor to worthless to absurd. The list really isn't worth any more keystrokes than that.

The most ridiculous name on the list: 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor. I wrote about him extensively when he was nominated in 2003. GW Bush couldn't get him confirmed and had to use a recess appointment to get him through. (He was finally confirmed in 2005.)The Washington Post, in an editorial, called him Unfit to Judge. You can read all my posts here. [More...]

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