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Saturday :: July 24, 2021

Dangerous Delta Roars: Booster Shots, Masks, Lockdown Protests

Could there be any more dangerous time than now, when Delta makes up 83% of all new cases and we're being told not to worry if you get Delta after being vaccinated because the vaccines are likely to prevent serious illness or death. They tell us only the unvaccinated need fear serious illness or death.

I don't buy that for a second. Nor do I care whether my chance of getting a serious sillness or death from Delta is 3% or 10%. That means some people, whatever the number, are going to get sick and die from it. Our lottery chances may be 85 million to 1 and people still buy tickets because they know someone usually wins. In this case, it's like drawing the Old Maid card, and I don't want to play that game.

Around the world, countries are imposing more lockdowns. The numbers in Cancun are so high that some hotels have designated specific floors for sick tourists. Cabo San Lucas is also through the roof. Australia has shut down Sydney. New Zealand has reimposed quarrantines for travel from Australia. [More...]

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Saturday Open Thread

Is there anything to watch on TV? I recommend Race Around the World Season 1 and 2 on Discovery +. It is not another Amazing Race, it's miles better and more interesting with unbelievable photography.

Next up is Vicenzo on Netflix, which is half drama and half comedy and just wonderful.

I'm also watching the new season of Make the Cut on Amazon Prime (with Heidi and Tim). If you haven't seen Tehran on Apple TV, it's great and has you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

U.S. Network TV continues to get more and more vacuous in my opinion. Cop stories and victim stories. No thank you.

In the good news department, Malverde will be starting soon, Telemundo's "most ambitious adventure". (Although that phrase is as overused as when Chris Harrison would say on the Bachelor, "This is the most dramatic season ever.) Rafael Amaya who played Aurelio in Senor de los Cielos will make his return to TV after more than year. And there's an indication, however slight, there could be a Senor de los Cielos 8. A La Reina del Sur 3 is also in the works.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday :: July 18, 2021

About that Vaccine Misinsformation on Social Media

The Government sounds so frustrated that the false warnings spreading among the anti-vaxxers is having more of an impact than their doctors.

You can't shut social media down, that would be a violation of the First (and probably more) Amendments.

But Congress could still take radical action. Here's why I'm not President: No one would go along with my plans. This is what I would do to stop the stupidity of the anti-vaxxers from spreading any further: Get Congress to pass a law that mandates a sales/use tax on all social media postings. You want to post on Twitter or FB, it will cost you a dollar for each one. You want to reply: same thing. Every 30 days the social media companies have to turn in their tax money with a report of how much money they collected. And it better match the number of posts and comments or there will be a hefty fine. [More...]

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Friday :: July 16, 2021

Post-COVID Deluge and Open Thread

I know it seems like I just disappeared from the Internet, and I did, but not intentionally.

I don't think I ever thought much about how court cases would be rescheduled after COVID. Everything was continued for 90 days so many times, and then all of a sudden, after the vaccines were out, the continuances were over and the dates set so long ago are now real dates. Which translates to things like I have three federal sentencings in the first two weeks of August. [More...]

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Friday :: July 09, 2021

Michael Avenatti Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Nike Fraud Case

Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels and self-created pundit, was sentenced in federal court in New York yesterday to 2.5 years in prison for his scheme to defraud Nike. On February 14, 2020, following a three week jury trial, he was convicted on all three of the charges against him.

The charges were: Transmitting interstate communications with intent to extort, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(d) (Count One); Hobbs Act extortion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count Two); and honest services wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1346 (Count Three).

The sentence was substantially less than the sentencing guideline range as calculated by Probation (135-168 months). [More...]

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Wednesday :: July 07, 2021

President of Haiti Assassinated

Jovenel Moise, the President of Haiti was assassinated in his home last night, around 1:00 a.m. His wife was critically injured and has been flown to Miami for treatment.

The attack was carried out by highly trained professionals, with high-powered weapons. The killers claimed to be with the DEA, carrying out an operation, according to Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. and Prime Minister Claude Joseph.

Prime Minister Claude Joseph said highly trained assassin, some speaking a mix Spanish or English with a US accent, assassinated the president at his home. The assassins yelled, “DEA operation! Everybody stand down! DEA operation! Everybody back up, stand down!”

Reuters confirms the statements by Edmond and Joseph:

Edmond told Reuters in an interview the gunmen were masquerading as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents as they entered Moise's guarded residence under cover of nightfall - a move that would likely have helped them gain entry.

According to La Nouvellist, a major newspaper in Haiti, the Deputy Justice of the Peace has released an official report. It says Moises' body was riddled with bullets. Also, his daughter was home at the time and hid. [More....]

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Friday :: July 02, 2021

DOJ Declares Temporary Moratorium on Federal Executions

Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday issued a moratorium on scheduling of federal executions, pending a study by the Department of Justice on fairness. In a memo to federal prosecutors he wrote:

Serious concerns have been raised about the continued use of the death penalty across the country, including arbitrariness in its application, disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of exonerations in capital and other serious cases," he added. "Those weighty concerns deserve careful study and evaluation by lawmakers."

...The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely. That obligation has special force in capital cases," Garland said in the memo.

Shorter version: Smackdown to Donald Trump who had his AG William Barr resume executions after a 20 year hiatus. Under Donald Trump, 13 inmates were killed just in his last year of office.

[More...]

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Thursday :: July 01, 2021

Trump Organization and Alan Weisselberg Indicted

Here is the 25 page Indictment of the Trump Organization and its chief officer, Alan Weisselberg.

The Indictment alleges the Trump Organization ran a tax fraud scheme for 15 years, allowing executives to evade taxes by compensating them "off the books." From the New York Times:

The 15-count indictment, which charged the Trump Organization with committing a scheme to defraud, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records, accused the company of a long-running conspiracy to help executives, including Mr. Weisselberg, evade taxes on perks and bonuses while at the same time decreasing the company’s own tax obligations.

It also charged Mr. Weisselberg with failing to pay taxes on leased Mercedes-Benzes, bonuses and a rent-free apartment paid for by the company. The indictment also charged him with grand larceny, accusing him of essentially cheating the I.R.S. out of tax revenue.

According to the Times, the investigation continues, with Donald Trump as the next potential target.

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Bill Cosby Freed After Appellate Victory

Bill Cosby's criminal conviction for sexual assault justly met its demise in the PA Supreme Court yesterday, not on a technicality, but because the decision to charge and try him was a bait and switch that violated one of the most basic tenets on which our criminal justice system is founded: due process of law. The Court found the violation was so egregious that only a remedy of dismissal with no chance of retrial was appropriate. Cosby was freed from prison immediately.

The 79-page opinion is here. There is some really good language on the awesome (as in huge, not terrific) power of prosecutors and why, when prosecutors make a promise to a defendant that induces him to give up a constitutional right, that promise must be enforced.

There's also a word I rarely see, and the opinion uses it three separate times: Undergird. (It means brace or support (an underpinning) and apparently was first used in the 1500's). [More...]

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Saturday :: June 26, 2021

Derek Chauvin Sentenced to 22.5 Years

Original Post Friday: Derek Chauvin will be sentenced today for the murder of George Floyd.

He could get life plus cancer and the public would say it's not enough.

Attorney Ben Crump will be on hand afterwards to give a press conference. He's beome as ubiquitous as Gloria Allred was a decade ago. Not my cup of tea.

Update: He got 22.5 years. His motion for a new trial was denied just before sentencing. The Judge issued a 20 plus page opinion explaining his sentence. You can read it here. Basically, it seems his guideline sentence was 11-12 years, and the judge said he had discretion to impose an upward variance, and because of the aggravating factors in the case, including Chauvin's extreme cruelty to George Floyd, he decided to do that. From the Washington Post: [More...]

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Friday :: June 25, 2021

Friday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Rudy Giuliani Loses NY Law License

New York State has taken away Rudy Giuliani's ticket to practice law. The reason: His “false and misleading statements” about Trump's election loss. His conduct "immediately threatens the public interest." He calls the action "ridiculous".

His bizarre son Andrew "railed" against the license loss in a parking lot this afternoon.

Is he still running for Governor of New York? Apparently so. What a joke.

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Delta Variant is Not Just a Problem for Unvaccinated

The government wants you to believe only the unvaccinated need fear the Delta variant. It says that the vaccines are 90% effective against COVID-19 and almost as effective against the Delta variant. So even though the variants are more transmissible and may make people sicker, only the unvaccinated need fear them. The vaccinated can toss their masks, cram into elevators, cheer and sing in each others faces at sports events and concerts, and go back to their regular lives.

But there are at least 10,000 "break-through" cases of people who have gotten infected with COVID-19 or a variant after being fully vaccinated. Yes, that's a tiny percentage of all people. But that's not how people make decisions. For example, you only have a miniscule chance of winning the lottery but millions of people still buy lottery tickets. Why? Because they know someone is likely to win, and they figure it might as well be them -- they have just as much chance as anybody else.

By the same token, someone is going to be in that group of 10,000 who get the virus or the Delta variant after being fully vaccinated. Why take a chance it might be you? [More....]

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Tuesday :: June 15, 2021

U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Reach 600K

600,000 people with COVID-19 have died in this this country. That is such an appalling number.

The World Health Organization says even people who have had COVID-19 should get vaccinated.

The virus has not gone away. The Delta variant is growing in the U.S. and elsewhere. We don't know if it's more dangerous, just that it's more transmissible. Meaning it's a fast spreader. The CDC has now declared it a "Variant of Concern". It thinks the current vaccines will be mostly effective against the variants, but that sounds more like hope than science. [More...]

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Donald Trump and His Emails

Donald Trump is on a downward legal spiral. But oh, the irony, if he goes down on emails after all the years he spent maligning Hillary and urging she be "locked up" over her emails.

The report in the New York Times today about how he tried to pressure Assistant AG Jeffrey Rosen (who later became Acting Attorney General) to support his baseless claim of election fraud is very damaging.

Are the emails the final nail? (They are available here). The Times says the emails show:

Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Rosen to put the power of the Justice Department behind lawsuits that had already failed to try to prove his false claims that extensive voter fraud had affected the election results.

[More...]

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