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Monday :: November 19, 2018

Hector Beltran-Leyva Dies After Heart Attack in Prison


Arturo, Hector, Alfredo and Carlos Beltran-Leyva

Imprisoned cartel leader Hector Beltran-Levya has died of a heart attack at 56.

Hector Beltran-Leyva was arrested in 2014. Since 2016, he has been imprisoned at Altiplano. He faced a lot of charges in Mexico and two Indictments in the U.S. Here is the Mexican Government's official announcement.

The incident took place at about 15:07, when the chief of prison security reported Beltran Leyva had severe pain in the left chest, so immediately the federal center doctors gave him first aid under the protocols.

When he did not recover, the prison moved him to the Adolfo Lopez Mateos Hospital in Toluca where he died after receiving treatment in the emergency room. [More...]

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Saturday :: November 17, 2018

NYT: American Jews Opine on Jared and Ivanka

The New York Times examines whether Jared and Ivanka are "good for Jews." Shorter version: It depends which Jews you ask. The Orthodox Jews love them and Reform Jews hate Trump and criticize them.

The deep schism that exists between the two groups is expanding, and the Chabad-Lubavitch, the Orthodox Hasidic group that Jared and Ivanka are members of, is experiencing rapid growth, while membership in liberal Reform synagogues has dropped substantially. The Times reports:

One in five American Jews now describes themselves as having no religion and identifying as Jews based only on ancestry, ethnicity or culture, according to Pew. By contrast, in the 1950s, 93 percent of American Jews identified as Jews based on religion.

[More...]

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Friday :: November 16, 2018

Khashoggi: CIA Assessment and Reports of Prior Marriage

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have secretly gotten married in the U.S. last June.

The Washington Post reports a CIA assessment of Khashoggi's murder led the agency to conclude the Crown Prince ordered it.

The CIA assessment relies in part on a phone call that was intercepted by Intelligence between the Crown Prince's brother, who is the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and Khashoggi. Apparently, the Ambassador told Khashoggi it was safe to go pick up the documents for his marriage at the Embassy. [More...]

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Saudi Report on Murder of Journalist Khashoggi

Here is the press release from Saudi Arabia with its findings on its investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Washington Post reports:

[T]he prosecutor said Khashoggi was given a lethal injection by Saudi agents who had orders only to bring him to Saudi Arabia through persuasion or, if necessary, with force. His body was then dismembered, carried out of the consulate and disposed of by a Turkish contact, the prosecutor said. He offered no indication of where Khashoggi’s remains could be found.

The Treasury Department has announced sanctions on 17 Saudis. Saudi Arabia has said it will seek the death penalty for 5 of those charged in Khashoggi's murder. Neither country has placed any blame on the Crown Prince, notwithstanding: [More..]

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Wednesday :: November 14, 2018

Government Moves to Strike El Chapo's Opening Statement

Federal prosecutors representing the U.S. in the trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are absolutely livid over the partial opening statement Tuesday by El Chapo defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman. Late last night they filed a motion to strike it in its entirety. (Case 1:09-cr-00466,Doc. 444, filed 11/14/18, available here)

The Government's motion has enough direct quotes to get a pretty good idea of what Lichtman said that got them so riled up. The question is: Was Lichtman's statement improper, or did the Government get caught flat-footed (or blind-slided, as they would say on Survivor)?

  • “This is a case that will require you to throw out much of what you were taught to believe in about the way Government’s work and how they behave, governments in South and Central American and Mexico and even the United States. This is a case which will require you to open your minds to the possibility that government officials at the very highest level can be bribed, can conspire to commit horrible crimes; that American law enforcement agents can also be crooked . . . .” Tr. at 576:21-24.

[More...]

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Friday :: November 09, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I'd like to stay online and blog all day, but I have too much work to do. Here's a new open thread for you, all topics welcome.

(Title fixed, it's Friday not Thursday)

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Trump Issues Proclamation on Asylum

Donald Trump has followed through with his threat to limit asylum through executive action. Here is the Proclamation he issued today.

I am similarly acting to suspend, for a limited period, the entry of certain aliens in order to address the problem of large numbers of aliens traveling through Mexico to enter our country unlawfully or without proper documentation. I am tailoring the suspension to channel these aliens to ports of entry, so that, if they enter the United States, they do so in an orderly and controlled manner instead of unlawfully.

Under this suspension, aliens entering through the southern border, even those without proper documentation, may, consistent with this proclamation, avail themselves of our asylum system, provided that they properly present themselves for inspection at a port of entry.

[More...]

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Thursday :: November 08, 2018

Trumpís Brazen Move to Stop Muellerís Russia Investigation

Jeff Sessions is out as Attorney General. At the request of John Kelly, he submitted this resignation letter. The most interesting sentence is the first, which states, "At your request, I am submitting my resignation." How is that different than being fired? In any event, there's no reason to feel badly about Sessions' exit. Goodbye and good riddance to him.

But what about Trump's appointment of Sessions' Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, to temporarily take Sessions' place as Acting Attorney General, a move intended to transfer oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation from Rod Rosenstein to Whitaker? Is Whitaker's appointment legal? [More…]

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Tuesday :: November 06, 2018

As The Polls Close: Midterm Elections Live Blog

Update: Dems To Take Control of the House according to projections. Right now they have 18 wins. Republicans will keep control of the Senate. In Texas, Beto O'Rourke lost to Ted Cruz(even Beyonce's last minute endorsement didn't bring it home for him.) Ted Cruz is one of at least two Republican Senate wins Trump cannot take credit for (the other is Mitt Romney). On the flip side, I wonder if anyone is keeping track of candidates Trump campaigned for who lost? (Here's one: Bob Menendez thanks Trump for endorsing his losing opponent.

Update: Coloradans win!

Original Post

Results and predictions are beginning to stream in. Here is the NY Times Live Results page.

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Criminal Justice Measures To Be Decided in Today's Elections

Here is an excellent guide to criminal justice reform measures at stake around the country in today's elections, from legalizing marijuana to reducing sentences, allowing expungement of prior convictions and bail reform.

. Four states might legalize the drug by referendum: Michigan and North Dakota for recreational use, and Missouri and Utah for medicinal use.

Victories by governors who back marijuana legalization—including JB Pritzker (Illinois), Tim Walz (Minnesota), Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan), Michelle Lujan Grisham (New Mexico) who are all favored to win, as well as candidates locked in tighter contests such as Andrew Gillum (Florida), Ben Jealous (Maryland), and Ned Lamont (Connecticut)—could alter the legislative landscape on this issue.... In Michigan, Whitmer’s win could facilitate the referendum’s expansion into legislation to expunge past convictions.

Other measures detailed include ICE and local participation in its 287(g) program. [More...]

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Sunday :: November 04, 2018

Sunday Open Thread: Reversing Time

What if we could turn back the hands of time for two years instead of an hour? Would Trump have been elected if the public knew then what it knows now? I don't think so.

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Thursday :: November 01, 2018

Mexican Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Decriminalized Marijuana

The Mexican Supreme Court issued two important rulings today on marijuana:

Mexico’s Supreme Court issued two more rulings Wednesday ordering that complainants in individual cases be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes, establishing a precedent that a blanket prohibition on pot is unconstitutional.

The court found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state.

“That right is not absolute, and the consumption of certain substances may be regulated, but the effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption,” the ruling said.

The rulings establish that Mexico's laws prohibiting marijuana use are unconstitutional but it is still up to the Mexican Congress to pass a law legalizing marijuana.

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Harvard Poll: Young Voters Rejecting Trump and Repubs

A new Harvard poll finds that young voters are exercising their right to vote in record numbers and will be rejecting Trump and Republicans at the midterms:

Nearly twice as many respondents identified with the Democratic Party over the GOP — 41 percent to 21 percent, while 35 percent said they were unaffiliated or Independents.

That gap widened significantly when asked about Trump's job as president: 68 percent of overall respondents said they disapprove of Trump's performance after nearly two years in office, compared with just 26 percent who do approve. It grew wider still among likely voters, with 72 percent of that group disapproving of Trump's job.

While more of them lean progressive, the poll found they don't go as far as to support the Bernie Sanders-inspired "Democratic Socialist" views.[More...]

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Wednesday :: October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween, TV and Open Thread

It's really cold here -- I sure wouldn't want to be a trick or treater.

If you are staying in (or just getting back home with your candy), it's a good night for TV. Here's what I've been watching:

  • On Amazon Prime: The Romanoffs (Except for episode 4 which may have been the most boring TV I've seen in ages)
  • Exathlon U.S. on Telemundo: Extreme Sports competition I've been watching for months. The finale is Sunday night. You can catch up with some segments here or on You Tube.
  • Rosario Tijeras on Netflix(The 2010 Colombian version, not the later Mexican remake.) It's 60 episodes but they go fast (and there's subtitles and no commercials).

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Trump Says Military Troops at Border Could Increase to 15,000

Via NBC: Donald Trump today said the number of U.S. troops deployed to the southwestern border may increase to 15,000 -- in addition to border agents and ICE.

This is so obviously a political ploy intended to get more votes for Republicans in next week's elections. Not only is it partisan use of the military, it's a waste of expense. 15,000 is more than 3 times the number of troops authorized in Iraq, and roughly the same number sent to Afghanistan.

How many people are in the caravans? Far fewer than the 15,000 troops being sent to prevent their entry. [More...]

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