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Friday :: May 26, 2017

Schapelle Corby Goes Home to Australia

12 years after a court in Bali found her guilty of importing 4 kilos of pot into Indonesia, a charge she has always denied, Schapelle Corby is going home.

On October 8, 2004, Schapelle Corby, traveled with her half-brother and two friends from Brisbane, Australia to Bali. They were going on a holiday, to visit their sister Mercedes, who lived in Bali and was turning 30. She checked her boogie board as oversized luggage at the airport in Brisbane. It was not weighed. The flight stopped in Sydney, and then went on to Bali. Going through customs, the bag seemed heavy and police opened it. There was 4.1 kilos of pot inside. Schapelle acknowledged the boogie board and bag were hers. She denied knowing there was pot in it, and had no idea how it got there.

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Thursday :: May 25, 2017

Jared Kushner: The "Person of Interest" in Russia Probe

The Washington Post reports Jared Kushner is indeed the Trump senior adviser who is a person of interest in the FBI's Russia Probe.

"Person of interest" carries no legal connotation. It doesn't mean he's a subject or target of the investigation. Or even that he did something wrong. But the FBI still uses the term (see this poster from 2015) and in the public's view, the phrase has become synonymous with "suspect." Several articles today reinforce that view by saying Kushner is "under scrutiny", which suggests they aren't just looking to him for information about others. It's an unfortunate term that should be discarded.

As to what's being investigated, all the news reports I've read say the FBI is looking at financial crimes as well as ties to Russia. [More...]

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4th Circuit Rules Upholds Nationwide Injunction of Trump Travel's Ban

In a 205 page opinion, available here, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, rejected most of Trump's travel ban. A Washington Post article is here.

In a 10-to-3 decision, the Richmond-based court said the president’s power to deny entry into the United States is not absolute and sided with challengers, finding that the travel ban “in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

...All of the judges in the majority were nominated to the court by Democratic presidents, and the three dissenting judges — Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and G. Steven Agee — were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents.

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Wednesday :: May 24, 2017

Trump Budget Seeks Increases for His Security and White House Spending

Trump's budget proposal, containing massive reductions for almost every helpful government program, and which is being universally trashed and has little hope in passing, does contain a few increases.

Trump is asking for more money for his security detail and his White House staff and the VP residence. Here's the form. [More...]

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CBO Report in On Repbulican Health Care Law, It's Bad

The CBO report on the Republican health care bill that passed the House is in and it is bleak.

A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would increase the projected number of people without health insurance by 14 million next year and by 23 million in 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. That 10-year figure is slightly less than originally estimated.

Rather than trying to fix it, the Senate should just kill it.

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Trump Lawyers Up on Russia Probe

Reuters reports Trump has retained his long time lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who is partners with Joe Lieberman, to represent him in the Russia Probe.

This must be why the Washington Post is reporting Lieberman is no longer Trump's top pick to lead the FBI.

Question: Why did Melania and Ivanka cover up for the Pope but not Saudi Arabia? The media attempts to answer. And here's a covered up Melania holding hands with Donald. I guess he doesn't take no for an answer.

More of Melania's black head cover. Also here. Check out the odd shape. Here is the entire look. Here's Ivanka's veil. If you ask me, both she and Ivanka look like they are dressed for a funeral.

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Manchester Bomber's Father and Brother Arrested in Libya

Ramadan Abedi, aka Abu Ismael, was arrested by Libyan security forces while giving a media interview in Tripoli. He confirmed his younger son, Hassem Abedi, age 20, was arrested last night by a local counterterrorism force. He was being interviewed by Reuters when masked men arrived at his home and arrested him.

Another brother Ismail was arrested in Manchester yesterday.[More...]

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UK Threat Level Raised to "Critical" as More Info on Attacker is Sought

The Manchester bombing investigation continues. The focus now is on determining whether the attacker, identified by UK police (after it was leaked by U.S. officials) as native British citizen Salman Abedi, acted alone.

This is a long post. While the info is current as of the time I am posting this, it will likely change in the coming days. That said, here's my assessment of what happened and what we learned yesterday. Feel free to add more information in comments. [More...]

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Tuesday :: May 23, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread: 15 years of Blogging

In 3 weeks, TalkLeft will be 15 years old. I'll be deciding whether to keep the site going another year. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

TalkLeft is actually pretty expensive to run, because it has so much material it has to be on its own server. As I get older, I can't help but think of other things I can do with that money, particularly if I think I'm no longer contributing anything of substance to the discussions of the day. I'm not convinced my voice is needed over the next three and and a half years, since we've already gone to Hell in a hand basket, and absent a universally agreed upon despicable act by Donald Trump that is likely to lead to his resignation or impeachment, I'm not sure we'll get him out before 2020. I doubt I am willing to give this uncouth carnival barker another three years of my attention. I'd rather fade into the woodwork and hide my head in the sand, and hope there's still a world in place when I take it out. [More...]

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Report: Body of Suicide Bomber Found at Manchester Arena

19 people are dead and at least 50 were injured when an explosion occurred at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK. Police are treating it as a terrorist incident. Ariana had just finished her set and had just left the stage when the explosion occurred.

The Greater Manchester Police twitter feed with updates is here.

There are no clues yet as to who is responsible. While ISIS is an obvious possibility, it could also be al Qaida (Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden released an audio message this month calling for attacks in the west as did AQAP in Yemen. [More...]

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Monday :: May 22, 2017

Trump Signs 40 Trade Agreements with Saudis

I have my doubts Donald Trump can even read 40 documents, but in Saudi Arabia, he signed the United States' name to them anyway. We're now a party to 40 economic agreements totaling $350 billion , (or $280 billion,depending on which press release you read) most of which, from what I can tell, create jobs for the Saudis in Saudi Arabia, give them a huge amount of war toys and line the pockets of the shareholders of companies like Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin and General Electric.

The Saudi Official News page for the economic summit couldn't be more different than the spin Donald Trump is putting out. Examples: [More...]

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Sunday :: May 21, 2017

Ivanka Subs for Pops at Saudi Twitter Forum

Ivanka Trump took her father's place at a Saudi evening Twitter forum on social media. (He was a no-show, no explanation given.)

There she talked about the 'great Saudi entrepreneurs' she had met throughout the day and marveled that the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology was built in just 30 days.

'That is entrepreneurialism,' she cheered. 'And I may need to borrow those contractors for our next construction project, maybe infrastructure, it was incredibly impressive and the message was very meaningful.'

"Our new construction project?" I thought she had resigned her position with Trump Org., leaving the running of it to her brothers. [More..]

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Friday :: May 19, 2017

Senior Advisor Close to Trump is Subject of Russia Probe

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner announced tonight that James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a public session. This will happen after Memorial Day.

The New York Times reports Donald Trump called James Comey a "nut job" during his meeting with Russian officials the day after he fired Comey. Trump also reportedly said by firing Comey, the pressure was off him.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

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Anthony Wiener Pleads Guilty

Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty today to transferring obscene material to a minor.

DOJ's press release is here. He pleaded to an Information, before indictment. The parties estimate his guidelines to be 21 to 27 months. He gave up his right to appeal a sentence within that range.

He was released on bond pending sentencing. He also has to forfeit his iPhone.

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Thursday :: May 18, 2017

Trump Middle Eastern (Mis) Adventures Set to Begin

Fasten your seatbelts, Trump and his relatives are about to embark a tour of the Middle East. It goes without saying, almost everything he does will bring a groan or an eye roll and be great fodder for late night talk shows, but what how much damage can he do with the deals he intending on committing us to?

Trump is not the first U.S. President to visit Saudi Arabia. Richard Nixon went there in June, 1974. While there he made an economic "deal with the devil" --oil for dollars. Here's his speech. Nixon resigned less than two months later, and we're still stuck with his deal. Here's the untold story, according to Bloomberg News.

The first clue that this visit will be bad news for the U.S. economically is how excited Saudi Arabia is about Trump's visit. It has set up this website to track events. It sounds like the counter-terror aspect is a front for the trips real purpose: economic advantages Trump is offering these countries. From a Saudi press release today: [More....]

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