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Friday :: April 17, 2015

ISIS Claims Credit for Attack at U.S. Consulate in Erbil

On Twitter, ISIS is claiming credit for the car bomb attack today outside the U.S. embassy in Erbil. They say it was done by fighters in their Kirkuk division.

According to McClatchy:

A Kurdish security official told McClatchy that three attackers approached a checkpoint near the consulate in an SUV apparently with the intention of attacking it on foot to make room for a suicide bomber, who was either on foot or in the car. They were spotted by peshmerga security forces stationed outside the consulate, who opened fire. The security official said the three attackers were killed, though whether they were killed by gunshots or detonated explosives was unclear.

More photos here. [More...]

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Friday Open Thread

I'm still busy with work stuff. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Jury Picked for James Holmes in Aurora Theatre Shooting Case

After 3 months and 9,000 candidates, the jury has been picked for James Holmes in the Aurora Shooting case.

Interestingly, there are two members who have direct ties to the Columbine shootings in 1999.

Juror No. 737, fled the building safely, but was childhood friends with the gunmen and went to prom with a victim.

He told the judge that after a decade of therapy "to get over it" he thought he could be fair and that the experience might make him a better juror.

A second juror has a niece who was in the cafeteria at Columbine at the time of the shootings. [More...]

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Victim's Family Asks Govt to Let Tsarnaev Have Life Sentence

The family of Martin Richards, the youngest victim killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, has written a public request asking the Government to withdraw its request for the death penalty.

"We understand all too well the heinousness and brutality of the crimes committed. We were there. We lived it.... "The defendant murdered our 8-year-old son, maimed our 7-year-old daughter, and stole part of our soul. We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives."

The Richards want Tsarnaev to accept a sentence of life without parole and waive his right to future appeals.

AUSA Carmen Ortiz responded with a non-answer.

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Wednesday :: April 15, 2015

A Satisfying End to "Justified"

"Justified" with Timothy Olyphant ended its six year run on FX last night. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it yet -- I'll just say it was very good. No ambiguous nonsense like the bizarre end to the Sopranos.

We not only know what happened to Raylan, Boyd and Ava now, but we get to see them all four years from now. [More...]

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The Silence of Judges on Mass Incarceration

Via Sentencing Law and Policy: U.S. District Court Jed Rakoff gave a speech at Harvard Law School last Friday about mass incarceration in the U.S. and the responsibilities of lawyers and judges. He says judges need to be more outspoken in their criticism. Bloomberg BNA has reprinted it in its entirety. For those who want the short version, here is a portion of the last paragraph.

In many respects, the people of the United States can be proud of the progress we have made over the past half-century in promoting racial equality. More haltingly, we have also made some progress in our treatment of the poor and disadvantaged. But the big, glaring exception to both these improvements is how we treat those guilty of crimes. Basically, we treat them like dirt. And while this treatment is mandated by the legislature, it is we judges who mete it out. Unless we judges make more effort to speak out against this inhumanity, how can we call ourselves instruments of justice?

Judge Rakoff is not suggesting the strides we have made towards racial equality extend to the criminal justice system. To the contrary, he writes [More...]

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Tuesday :: April 14, 2015

Hillary Visits Iowa

Hillary Clinton arrives in in Monticello, Iowa today to make her first campaign appearance. She's been driving there in her "Scooby Doo" van, chatting with diners and folks at gas stations on the way.

I put the lion in her photo so she remembers to roar on occasion. She needs to share her passion and her strength. They are two of her most inspiring traits.

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Tuesday Open Thread

Does anyone else find it absurd that Iraqi President Abadi flew to the U.S. in a Boeing 777? It's such a huge plane, how many people could he have brought along that he needs such a monstrous size aircraft? Maybe he has Joe Biden's entourage with him. What a waste of money. I hope we didn't buy it for him.

Twitter cleaned house of ISIS accounts again yesterday. It took ISIS minutes to get back on line with new names. It took me 3 hours to find the ones I follow for news. It's really aggravating that this is turning into a daily event.

I've got the jail today, so here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: April 13, 2015

Tsarnaev: Making the Case for Life

The penalty phase of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial doesn't begin until April 21. In the meantime, here's a photo I came across yesterday.

I think it effectively communicates more than the difference in age between the brothers. Tamerlan is just so dominant in the photo. Even the way he has his arm around Jahar seems controlling to me. Looking at it, it is hard to see how, even years later, Jahar would be his "equal partner" in anything.

Also, here's a letter Dzhokhar submitted to UMass Dartmouth in January, 2013 in an application to have his financial aid reinstated: [More....]

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Sunday :: April 12, 2015

ISIS Attacks Baiji Oil Refinery, Anbar and Hasaka

As the U.S. continues its air strikes, ISIS attacked the the Baiji oil refinery last night. It is Iraq's largest refinery. Control has gone back and forth between ISIS and the Iraqi forces several times over the past 9 months.

Iraq said today ISIS attacked the refinery on three sides but only reached the perimeter and launched a suicide attack. The ISIS photos and videos show they made it further. But more interesting, is this photo of an ISIS "command center" used during the attacks, where the action is displayed on multiple computer screens as the commanders sitting at them instruct the fighters by what looks like radio phones: [More...]

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Hillary Makes It Official

Hillary Clinton announced via video today she is running for President.

When I clicked on the video, I thought I was watching a You Tube type commercial and shut it down. On the third try, I realized this was her announcement, not a commercial. Not an auspicious start, in my view. I would much rather she have made a live appearance somewhere to make such a big announcement.

I'm also not crazy about the "middle class" theme. Obama uses that too much. Middle to me means middle America, middle of the road, neither here nor there. It doesn't sound progressive. It's tired. Do I have any better suggestions? [More...]

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Saturday :: April 11, 2015

Saturday Night Open Thread

I've been offline for a few days. I'll be back soon. In the meantime, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: April 10, 2015

Hillary Clinton To Announce White House Bid on Sunday

The former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce her bid for the presidency this Sunday via a video according to published reports.

The published reports indicate Clinton will immediately begin campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, but with a bent towards smaller events.

Other potential candidates on the Democratic side include Jim Webb, Martin O'Malley and just recently, Linc Chafee.

The ride officially begins Sunday it seems.

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Thursday :: April 09, 2015

Thursday Open Thread

Busy day today. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: April 08, 2015

Tsarnaev Convicted on All Counts

The jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 counts today.

The Boston Globe, in an editorial, urges a life sentence.

For jurors who believe execution should be reserved for the worst criminals, the lawyers laid out a clear path to conclude Dzhokhar wasn’t even the worst of the Tsarnaevs.

....Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing; he was apparently a heavy drug user; he had no prior criminal record. By themselves, none of these would seem like a particularly good reason to spare him, but taken as a whole, and alongside evidence of his brother’s dominant role, they should plant seeds of doubt.

[More...]

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