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Friday :: May 22, 2015

Friday Open Thread

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Obama Interview on ISIS, Iraq and Syria

The Atlantic has a new interview with President Obama on ISIS, Iraq and Syria. He doesn't think "we're losing." He calls Ramadi a "tactical setback."

ISIS continues its attacks today. It is also taking credit for a suicide bomb attack at a Shi'a mosque in Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday it released Dabiq Issue 9. (John Cantlie provides the last article, the first sign in a while he's still alive.) You can read it here.

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Six Officers Indicted for Freddie Gray Death

The six officers allegedly involved in the death of Freddie Gray have been indicted by a grand jury. The charges are similar to those brought by Maryland proscecutor Marilyn Mosby.

For the most part, the indictments closely track the charges the Baltimore prosecutor announced in a May 1 press conference. (ABC2’s Christian Schaffer has the full charges here.) In particular, the second-degree depraved-heart murder charge against Officer Caesar Goodson, the most serious of the charges, remains. All six officers were also indicted for reckless endangerment, which was not on the original charge sheet. The big change: None of the officers was indicted for false imprisonment.

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Ireland Rejects Extradition of Terrorist Due to Supermax Conditions

A court in Ireland has refused to extradite accused terrorist Ali Charaf Damache to the United States finding that the conditions of Supermax are overly harsh and would violate his rights under Ireland's constitution. The Court ordered him freed.

Damache was allegedly part of the 2009 plot to kill Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had negatively depicted the prophet Muhammad. He is also the guy who enticed Jamie Paulin-Ramirez to marry him and travel from Colorado to Ireland. She is serving 8 years for providing material support to terrorists. She also allowed him to train her 10 year old son. [More...]

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Thursday :: May 21, 2015

"El Chino Antrax" Pleads Guilty in San Diego

Jose Rodrigo Arechiga-Gamboa, aka "El Chino Antrax", the young, flashy alleged "sicario" for Sinaloa (Zambada faction) and logistics coordinator (El Chapo Guzman), pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in San Diego to conspiracy to import more than 5 kilos of cocaine and more than 1000 pounds of marijuana. He also agreed to forfeit $1 million.

His plea agreement is not publicly available on PACER, but that's routine for San Diego, so it does not necessarily mean he cooperated. There's nothing to indicate it is sealed.

[More...]

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Wednesday :: May 20, 2015

Rand Paul Ends 10 Hour "Filibuster"

Rand Paul has ended his 10 hour "filibuster" over the renewal of the Patriot Act.

Among his main points:

  • "We're using the Patriot Act to put [drug offenders] in prison."
  • "The presumption of innocence is an incredibly important doctrine that we shouldn't so casually dismiss."
  • Warrants need to be "individualized," because collective law enforcement is the root of much evil.
  • Internet/telephone/data companies should put up "unified resistance" to federal compulsion to turn over user data.
  • Forfeiture: "The government is "using records to gain entrance to people, and then tak[ing] their stuff without conviction."

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Letterman Signs Off

Sometimes you don't know what you got till it's gone. That's how I feel about David Letterman. I didn't watch him often, but when I did, I enjoyed him and his show, and I'm sorry he's leaving.

His quirkiness and unpredictability were unique for late night TV. He'll be missed.

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U.S. Releases Documents Seized From Bin Laden Raid

The U.S. today released documents seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden was fixated on attacking U.S. targets and pressured al Qaeda groups to heal local rivalries and focus on that cause, according to documents the United States says were seized in bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan and released on Wednesday.

The documents are available here.

The release contains two sections. The first is a list of non-classified, English-language material found in and around the compound. The second is a selection of now-declassified documents.

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Tuesday :: May 19, 2015

Tuesday Night Open Thread

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

Update: The Bachelorette guys chose the right one. I couldn't take a whole season with choice #2. She cries way too much. Glad that drama's over.

Update: The Voice Finale -- John Fogarty and Sawyer Frederick, just terrific. What a great season this was, so much talent and so many great voices.

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Another Name Floated for Abu Sayyaf

CNN quotes an anonymous U.S. official who tells them the real name of Abu Sayyaf is Fathi ben Awn ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi. Every media outlet seems to be running with the story.

ABC News has been reporting for a while that U.S. officials believe Abu Sayyaf and his wife have information on deceased hostage Kayla Mueller. (I already wrote about all this here.) A congressman today confirmed this is being investigated.

CBS says the raid was months in the planning.

I'm not buying this new identity. It's another name that has not appeared anywhere as far as I can tell.[More...]

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Monday :: May 18, 2015

Monday Open Thread

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Elian Gonzalez Would Like to Visit U.S.

Elian Gonzalez is all grown up in Cuba. In his first U.S. interview (which took place in Cuba), he says he is grateful to the U.S. and would like to visit one day.

He said while he disagrees with his mother's decision to leave Cuba, he feels she fought hard to keep him alive on the boat and is grateful to her for saving his life.

Elian is now 21 and engaged to his high school sweetheart.

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President Obama Gets His Own Twitter Account

President Obama finally got a personal Twitter Account. Here's his first tweet:

Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.

As of now, he has 275,000 followers and is following 65 agencies and people.

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Saudi Arabia is Hiring: Executioners

Saudi Arabia is seeking to hire executioners for the implementation of Shariah Law. Here's the application (use google translate). It refers to them as "Perpetrators of Retribution."

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Lindsay "The Sky Is Falling" Graham Announces Presidential Bid

Uber-Hawk Lindsay Graham has officially entered the Republican fray to be the party’s nominee for President.

The perennial Henny Penny says, “The world is falling apart.” He’s “worried about an attack on our homeland.” His crystal ball tells him another 9/11 attack is on our doorstep unless we send ground troops to Iraq and Syria.

There are now more than 20 Republicans vying for the nomination. According to the Telegraph,

In recent weeks Republican divisions over foreign policy have been laid bare as the party tries to reconcile its instinctive belief in a strong, indispensable America with the costly failure, in terms of both blood and treasure, of George W Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Lindsey Graham has succeeded Rudy Giuliani as politics' biggest threat to freedom and American values. Even though he has zero chance of winning the nomination, he should be tracked and monitored.

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