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Sunday :: May 24, 2015

Sunday Night Open Thread

Time for a new open thread. Here it is, all topics welcome.

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Sunday TV Watching

It's been raining and cold in Denver for days. Perfect activity for being indoors on a holiday weekend: Watching the final 24 episodes of Season 1 of El Cartel, aka Cartel De Los Sapos (Cartel of the Snitches.) Unimas has been re-airing episodes every weeknight since April, but is only up to episode 23. Since I hate to wait, I ordered the second half of season 1 for $5.00 on Ebay (free postage, brand new and shrink-wrapped). The six disk set with 24 episodes and English subtitles arrived yesterday. I've already watched 12 episodes. There are no commercials, no ads at the bottom of the screen and no annoying previews.

I knew El Cartel was the story of the end of the Cali cartel and the rise and take-down of the Norte Valle Cartel in Colombia, but I hadn't realized until watching the show how the NV takedown was done. Here is the true and fascinating story taken from U.S. court records of how agents from DEA Group 43 conducted a rogue operation, and along with their famous informant, photographer Baruch Vega, convinced dozens of cartel bigwigs that if they paid millions of dollars each, promised to stop trafficking and divulge their trafficking routes, they could come to the U.S., get bail, return home, keep all their money, and serve no jail time. Dozens fell for it. [More...]

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India Prepares 28k Chargesheet Against Shami Witness

The Bangladore Police say they will file charges against Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @Shami Witness, next week.

We have finally received the MHA’s approval. Now, we will file the chargesheet against him next week. We have built a solid case. We had to prove how he conspired and helped the IS. Consequently, the chargesheet is one of the longest in recent times,” a source in the Bengaluru Police said. The chargesheet is supposed to be in excess of 28,000 pages.

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U.S. Blames Ramadi on Iraqi Forces

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the Iraqi Forces are to blame for ISIS' recent takeover of Ramadi. He says they lack the will the fight.

They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force and yet they failed to fight and withdrew from the site,” he said. “That says to me and, I think, to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.”

[More...]

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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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