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Saturday :: November 22, 2014

Saturday Night Open Thread

JFK was assassinated today in 1963. I just tuned into a CNN special and saw Lee Harvey Oswald get arrested, and then shot. They cut to interviews of passersby. "That wasn't right. He deserved a fair trial," said the first one. The second one echoed the same sentiments.

Amazing how many people forget or intentionally disregard that bedrock principle of our criminal justice system. The latest victim: Bill Cosby. I won't dignify the accusations against him by repeating them. I will report that he got a standing ovation in Florida last night.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Saudi Detainee Transferred From Guantanamo

Muhammad al-Zahrani, imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002, returned home to Saudi Arabia today. He agreed to participate in the Saudi rehabilitation program.

Al-Zahrani is the 13th prisoner to leave Guantanamo Bay this year and the seventh in just the past two weeks. Officials have said more prisoners will be released in the coming weeks as part of a renewed effort to close the site. Seventy three are already cleared for release.

142 detainees remain at Guantanamo. 73 of them have been cleared for release.

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WSJ: U.S. Marshals Posing as Mexican Marines to Catch Cartel Members

The Wall Street Journal reports:

U.S. Justice Department personnel are disguising themselves as Mexican Marines to take part in armed raids against drug suspects in Mexico, according to people familiar with the matter, an escalation of American involvement in battling drug cartels that carries significant risk to U.S. personnel.

A U.S. official says the marshal's participation was approved by high levels of the Mexican Government. The Mexican Embassy in Washington denies that: [More...]

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ISIS Releases New Issue of Dabiq Magazine

ISIS has released Issue #5 of its English publication, Dabiq Magazine. You can read it here.

There's nothing in it about Peter Kassig or other ISIS beheadings. It's mostly about the other groups which recently announced their allegiance to ISIS leader al Baghdadi. There's also an article about its new currency and about Kobane. And a four page essay by hostage John Cantlie, titled "If I were U.S. President Today," in which he again criticizes the policy of the U.S. and its allies. [More...]

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CT Releases New Report on Adam Lanza

The Office of the Child Advocate in Connecticut has released its report on Adam Lanza. It's 114 pages and available here. The Daily Mail has this recap. I just finished reading the report. Here are some quotes:

Autism Spectrum Disorder or other psychiatric problems neither caused nor led to his murderous acts.

As to what did cause Lanza's murderous rampage, the report does not have a definitive answer.

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Friday :: November 21, 2014

Ferguson News Reports

The media hype over the grand jury decision in Ferguson is over the top. Except for a few stories about Buffalo and one warning of a cyber attack by China or Russia, CNN aired nothing else this afternoon, except commercials. It was that way on my hour drive to the jail to see a client at noon, and that way for the hour drive back at 4 pm. Wolf Blitzer kept breathlessly announcing "We're expecting a grand jury announcement any moment so stay tuned." It's now 3 hours later and there has been no announcement of the grand jury decision. But the media's non-stop reporting of anticipated violent reactions persist. I learned from CNN that Best Buy is closing its stores for the weekend. Schools have decided to close the whole week. Homeowners in outlying areas are stocking up on guns fearing increased crime. Police are worried. And on and on. [More...]

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New John Cantlie Message Video

ISIS has released Episode 6 of prisoner John Cantlie's "Lend Me Your Ears" video messages. In it, he discusses the failed U.S. rescue attempt of James Foley. He excoriates the U.S. and British governments for not negotiating with ISIS, for threatening James Foley's mother with prosecution if she participated in ransom negotiations, and for abandoning him and the other foreign hostages recently executed.

He says ISIS was holding six foreign hostages, presumably referring to Foley, Sotloff, Haines, Henning, Kassig and himself. He doesn't mention the female U.S. aid worker who reportedly is being held by ISIS. Hopefully, she's just being held in a different place.

Cantlie blasts the hypocrisy, arrogance and lies of the U.S. and Great Britain, saying they treated his life and those of the other English and American hostages like a "roll of the dice" while the other hostages all went home. He is not angry at ISIS.

You can watch the video here, but it probably won't stay up long.

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Friday Open Thread

More court today (and now Monday and Tuesday as well) and jail visits. I wish I could recoup the hours I spent after court this week at the Apple store (that "new" phone they gave me 3 months ago stopped working. I'm now on my third iPhone 5s) and on the phone with Comcast (the "hunt" feature and caller ID on my phone lines stopped working, and my cable bill jumped $50). All fixed now though.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Republicans Hyperventilate Over Obama's Modest Immigration Reform

Republicans are hyperventilating about President Obama's modest immigration reforms. If they had a clue what real immigration reform entails, they'd probably have a collective heart attack. Here are a few reform proposals that go much further than what Obama called for last night: [More...]

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Thursday :: November 20, 2014

5 Guantanamo Detainees Transfered to Georgia and Slovakia

Five Guantantamo detainees, four from Yemen and one from Tunisia, have been transferred to Georgia and Slovakia.

Obama has now transferred 100 detainees during his presidency. There are 143 detainees remaining at Gitmo.

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President Obama's Immigration Speech

Update: Here's the White House Fact Sheet with details of Obama's plan.

Airing now on CNN. Felons, not Families.

Three components:
  • More money for law enforcement at the border
  • Easier and faster process for skilled workers to stay here
  • Temporary relief against deportation for some undocumented immigrants
As to the undocumented, he is offering temporary protection against deportation for those:[More...]

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Wednesday :: November 19, 2014

Wednesday Open Thread

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

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Syrian Army Posts Response to ISIS Beheadings

The Syrian Arab Army has an official Facebook page in English. Yesterday it posted a response to the ISIS video showing the beheading of 16 of its members.

The statement acknowledges that army personnel have beheaded ISIS fighters in the past, but says those were individual acts by a few bad apples. The army, it insists, acts with honor and dignity.

It then says the Army won't be beheading captured ISIS fighters in the future. But, it continues, ISIS fighters will beg to be beheaded, because the Army will not treat them as human beings. [More...]

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Tuesday :: November 18, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

I'll be in court almost all week. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: November 17, 2014

Report: U.S. Flew Imprisoned ISIS Higher Up to Qatar

When Iraq announced last week that airstrikes had killed and wounded some ISIS leaders in Mosul and al Qaim, possibly including ISIS Caliph al-Baghdadi, articles began to re-surface identifying ISIS leaders.

Most of the information cited seems to come from a disclosure in June, 2014, days before ISIS took Mosul. Iraqi forces arrested an ISIS member named Abu Hajjar. Under interrogation, he caved, and not only told him about the planned takeover of Mosul, but gave up the location of the safe house being used to plan it. Iraqi police intelligence went out to safe house, and the raid ended with the shooting death of ISIS military commander Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi who was in charge of the operation. During a subsequent search of the safe house and al-Bilawi and Hajjar's homes, Iraqi police recovered 160 thumb drives with incredibly detailed information about ISIS, including financial information, military operations information and even the names of its leaders and fighters. Intelligence agencies have been pouring over the data ever since. (It didn't prevent the takeover of Mosul, which went off as planned, mostly because the Iraq forces ran off.)

Yesterday, as I was re-reading reports on ISIS leadership, I came across an interesting article, "The Islamic State Prisoner and the Intelligence Chief" published November 1, a week before the recent strikes that supposedly hit ISIS leaders, by Paul McGeogh, chief foreign correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, who just days before, had interviewed the still incarcerated Abu Hajjar at a secure Baghdad jail facility. [More...]

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