Wednesday :: December 07, 2016

ISIS Releases New Video of John Cantlie in Mosul

British photojournalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie is still alive. ISIS released a new video today of him in Mosul. He asks why the coalition forces are bombing Mosul's bridges when the only people affected are residents -- the ISIS fighters, the "Mujahideen", are on fighting on the front lines outside Mosul. He shows a destroyed bridge which make it very difficult for people to get around.

He looks thin, but I don't think he looks much different than his last video in July. I am just glad he is still alive. [More...]

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Trump Picks Another General: Kelly for HSA

UnPresident Elect Donald Trump has named retired Gen. John Kelly to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

If you're wondering why his name is familiar, think Guantanamo:

General Kelly attracted notice while at the Southern Command for comments about the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which fell in his area of responsibility. He rejected criticism from human rights activists about the treatment of detainees, and said the program to force-feed prisoners undertaking hunger strikes was reasonable and humane. He also dismissed one argument cited by those who advocate closing the military prison at Guantánamo, saying it had not proven to be an inspiration to those taking up militant action.

In an interview about a year ago, Kelly claimed "There are no innocent men down there."

His other area of "expertise" is Latin America and he's been a henny-penny claiming ISIS will take over the drug cartel routes. [More...]

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Tuesday :: December 06, 2016

Tuesday Night Open Thread

The predicted "arctic freeze" in Colorado has begun. It is really cold, and just started snowing. It's a perfect night to stay in and watch the premiere of El Chema on Telemundo. You can watch the first 20 minutes here.

The recount in Michigan is a mess. More here.

Two Colorado electors have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to be relieved of the obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton on Dec. 19. They are hoping to vote for someone else in an attempt to keep Donald Trump from being named President. The complaint is here.[More...]

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Poland's Supreme Court Rejects Roman Polanski Extradition Request

Poland's Supreme Court has definitively rejected the U.S. request for extradition of Director Roman Polanski, now 83, for a crime that occurred in 1977.

Poland joins France and Switzerland as countries where Polanski can live and work, free from the shadow of extradition. France has no extradition treaty with the US and Switzerland has already rebuffed US attempts to have him extradited.

A lower court in Poland ruled in 2015 that "the time Polanski had spent in jail, under house arrest or in custody exceeded his original sentence, and that he may not get a fair trial in the US." [More...]

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Monday :: December 05, 2016

Monday Open Thread

The news reads like a joke: Al Gore meets with Ivanka Trump (and then her father) on climate change.

Is anyone surprised Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are house-hunting in Washington?

A federal judge has ordered the vote recount in Michigan to begin immediately. As for the current vote total:

Mr. Gore’s loss to George W. Bush pales in comparison with Hillary Clinton’s. If you’re still counting, Mrs. Clinton’s popular vote lead over Mr. Trump climbed to 2,597,156 over the weekend, five times Mr. Gore’s final lead over Mr. Bush. And at 2 percentage points, Mrs. Clinton’s lead has equaled Jimmy Carter’s victory spread over Gerald Ford in 1976.

Both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times are demanding you turn off ad blockers to read them. When you do, there are so many ads you can't find the story. The ads pop up every few seconds. Sorry, WP and LAT,not a chance will I suffer through your popups (or pay and subscribe.)


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Oakland: It Justs Keeps Getting Sadder

The death toll in the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire has now reached at least 36.

The Daily Mail has photos and stories about some of those who lost their lives.

A criminal investigation is underway. All of SFist's coverage is here.

Here's a profile of the master tenant and his wife. Here's some information about how heavily the event was promoted. An interesting interview with the master tenants' "nanny" about how they lived is here.

Ghost Ship's Tumblr feed has some really large and detailed photos of the interior and posters for prior parties.

The fire is believed to have begun on the first floor in the back of the structure, where residents lived, underneath where the party was being held. While the cause is not known, there is a lot of speculation it is electrical-related. According to one tenant who was sleeping and made it out alive, the fire started in a room where the occupants had just hooked up a refrigerator. Electricity frequently went on and off in the building.

More bodies are expected to be recovered.

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Saturday :: December 03, 2016

Philippine President: Trump Supports Policy of Slaughtering Drug Users and Dealers

The Philippines has endorsed the slaughter of more than 5,000 suspected drug users and traffickers by police and vigilantes in the past five months.

Philippine President Rodolfo Duterte encourages police and others (vigilantes) to kill ("neutralize") people they suspect of using or selling drugs.

President Duterte today said he recently spoke to Donald Trump on the phone, and Trump told him he supported Duterte's anti-drug policy, and that the country is going about it the right way.

In a statement Saturday, Duterte shared details of a seven-minute conversation that took place Friday. He said that during the call, Trump endorsed his campaign against drug users and dealers — a campaign that has left at least 4,500 Filipinos dead in about five months. Trump told Duterte that he was doing it the “right way,” according to Duterte’s account.

“I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump,” he added. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”


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Friday :: December 02, 2016

Cashing In on Pablo Escobar's Death

It was 23 years ago today that Pablo Escobar was assassinated on a rooftop in Medellin, Colombia.

Ex-DEA agents Steve Murphy and Javier Pena, who served as consultants to the series Narcos, are still cashing in, now embarking on a world tour. Next stop: Australia.

Mr Pena and fellow former agent Steve Murphy are coming to Australia for a series of live shows next year, called "Capturing Pablo: An Evening with Javier Pena and Steve Murphy." They'll be speaking at Hamer Hall on Thursday, July 13.

The Australian media has the false impression they were involved in the killing of Escobar, which is simply not true. [More...]

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New Europol Report on ISIS Warns of More Attacks in Europe

Europol's counter-terrorism unit ECTC has released a new report on the changing tactics of ISIS.

The report is called Changes in Modus Operandi of IS revisited and is available here. Among the key findings: [More...]

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Trump Picks Defense Secretary, Retired Gen. Mattis

I haven't followed the news about Retired Gen. James Mattis. In reading he was chosen by Donald Trump to be Defense Secretary, I read a few things today.

  • He and Trump likely get on famously. They both make appalling comments. Mattis is famous for this quote:
  • “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys that slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” he said in 2005. “So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

  • NBC reports on a former special services member who claims Mattis left his troop to die in Afghanistan. (The question apparently not whether he did, but whether he was justified in doing so. The incident was also referred to in a book, The Only Thing Worth Dying for.)
  • He serves on the board of a controversial blood-testing company.
  • Congress would have to pass a law before confirming him because he's only been retired from the military for 3 years.


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Trump: The Slippery Slope of Compromise

The New York Review of Books (Daily) has an article by Massa Green (a Russian author and journalist and staunch opponent of Putin -- see the review of her book Putin: Man Without a Face), titled Trump: The Choices We Face. Green's grandfather was a member and later a leader of the Bialystok Judenrat, the Nazi-appointed Jewish council that ran the ghetto. At first the council was tasked with things like bringing in food to the community and urging residents not to form resistance groups. By the end, the group was tasked with selecting members of the community for the Nazis to kill first.

The question she takes on:

Criminal regimes function in part by forcing the maximum number of subjects to participate in the atrocities. For nearly a century, individuals in various parts of the Western world have struggled with the question of how, and how much, we should engage politically and personally with governments that we find morally abhorrent.


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Thursday :: December 01, 2016

Thursday Open Thread

I'll be offline today, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Rudy Giuliani: Where Can He Do the Least Damage?

Donald Trump has narrowed the field of Secretary of State candidates to four (or five). While his spokesman didn't name them, one is believed to be Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani has no foreign diplomatic credentials. He's taken money from numerous foreign governments.

He would be a terrible choice for Secretary of State. Here's a list of 10 things you should know about Rudy.

When Rudy left the Mayor's office, he did something unprecedented. He took all his papers with him. [More...]

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Wednesday :: November 30, 2016

Kellogs Pulls Advertising from Breitbart News

Thank you Kelloggs!

Kelloggs Cereal has pulled its advertising from Breitbart News. The company says the website does not comport with its values.

“We regularly work with our media-buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that are not aligned with our values as a company,” said Kris Charles, a spokeswoman for Kellogg’s. “We recently reviewed the list of sites where our ads can be placed and decided to discontinue advertising on Breitbart.com. We are working to remove our ads from that site.”

Here is Kellogg's statement about diversity on its website. Here are the employee groups it created to foster diversity. Here are the the diversity numbers. Check out the awards it has won, just for 2016 and 2015. There's a lot, but they include the NAACP, Civil Rights Champion of Justice Award (2015), National Association of Female Executives (NAFE), "Top Company for Executive Women" (2015) and Human Rights Campaign, "2015 Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality" (2015.)

I already eat Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, Crispix, and Corn Pops but I'm going to buy some more. Frosted Flakes is my favorite, but if that's too much sugar for you, Kelloggs also owns Special K and All Bran. And if it's not enough sugar, there's Famous Amos Cookies.

Breitbart is calling for a boycott of Kelloggs. To the contrary, #buyKelloggs. Here are some money saving coupons. Make yourself some rice krispie treats (only 3 ingredients, what could be easier?) [More...]

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Sarah Palin May be Secretary of Veteran Affairs

Trump is considering Sarah Palin for Secretary of Veteran Affairs. On Twitter, Palin seems to be open to the job -- or actively seeking it, depending on how one reads her fawning over Trump as Commander in Chief.

Since her biggest claim to fame is that you can see Russia from Alaska (or as Tina Fey translated, she can see Russia from her window) I'm surprised he didn't make her Secretary of State.

What qualifies her for this position? Absolutely nothing as far as I can tell.

As the Daily Mail says about Trump's cabinet picks: Trump isn't draining the swamp, he's diving into it

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