On Feb. 26, Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez announced in court he would plead guilty without a plea agreement in the Chicago case in which Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Vicente Jesus Zambada-Garcia are co-defendants. In court yesterday, his lawyer announced he had changed his mind and wants to go to trial in May after all.
Why? A local ABC News affiliate reporter named Chuck Goudie had erroneously reported on TV that Vasquez-Hernandez had turned against Chapo. The inmates at the jail saw it and word spread to Mexico, where VH's wife and children live. Vasquez Herandez would rather go to trial than potentially put their lives in jeopardy.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Shakeshaft called Goudie’s error, “an unfortunate piece of journalism.”
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Don't forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour.
This is an open thread, all topics welcome.
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Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez is scheduled to plead guilty in Chicago late today in the Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla case. His lawyer says he is not cooperating and the plea has nothing to do with Guzman's arrest. (El Chapo is also named as a defendant in the case.)
The Oscar Pistorius trial has ended for the week with several questions unanswered. The Last witness on the stand was the security guard who testified that at 3:24 am he spoke with Oscar on the phone who said "Everything is fine." The defense says there was a first call by Oscar to the guard at 3:21 a.m. The security guard will return Monday. Also, Oscar's ex-girlfriend testified about one of the gun charges. She said Oscar cheated on her with Reeva, but Oscar's lawyer says he will provide e-mails showing they had already broken up. The earlier witness testimony about sounds of cricket bats vs gunshots remains conflicting.
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Latest example of our rapidly changing times when it comes to marijuana: Comcast accepted and has begun airing an ad for medical marijuana. The ad is by MarijuanaDoctors and will be seen on a variety of channels between 10 pm and 5 am.
The commercial draws a parallel between a “shady” street dealer attempting to push “unsafe” sushi to unsuspecting buyers, and medical marijuana patients being forced to obtain their medication in a similar fashion. MarijuanaDoctors.com draws this parallel in an attempt to prove the severity of consulting physicians in order to obtain medical marijuana for terminal & debilitating medical conditions where the doctor may recommend that the benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the risks of in order to improve a patients overall health.
You can view the ad below: [More...]
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A woman named Nicole Peterson Speelman in Capetown, South Africa recorded this two minute video clip yesterday and posted it to her Facebook page. A man is pulled out of his car, stripped naked, and then for no apparent reason, kicked and beaten by police, before being put in a van. Truly disgraceful police conduct. (Click on the "full screen" button for a much better view.)
At the end of the video you can hear Ms. Speelman, who apparently took the video from her office nearby, screaming at the cops, asking why they were beating the man. One cop starts to walk in the direction of her voice, and the video ends. A FB friend asked her whether the officer came after her. Her reply:
Yes he came upstairs banged on our door he came to arrest me for sreaming out the window but all of us asked him why did he do that to the man so he said he was just trying to get him in the van and he arrested my collogue for police interference and the charges was later dropped. [More...]
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A Sharia court in Bauchi City, Nigeria sentenced four young men to 15 lashes with a horsewhip for having gay sex. The floggings were conducted publicly in the courtroom after trial and sentencing at a secret hearing. In addition, the youths were order to pay a fine, and if they can't afford it, they will have to spend a year in jail.
[A Human Rights activist] said the men, aged between 20 and 22, should not have been convicted because their confessions had been forced by law agents who beat them. She said they had to prostrate themselves on the floor of the court to be whipped on their backsides.
In January, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill into law banning gay marriage and same-sex unions. It also reinforced criminal penalties for homosexuality and granted federal support to the Sharia authorities to enforce anti-gay laws. [More...]
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Seven Democrats joined Republicans today to defeat the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head DOJ's civil rights division. The objection was that when head of the Legal Defense Fund, the group had filed briefs in support of overturning the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal based on improper jury instructions. Two appellate courts ruled the jury instructions were erroneous and Abu-Jamal's death sentence was overturned. He was resentenced to life in prison. Adegbile's involvement in the case came after the Legal Defense Fund had taken the case.
"The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice -- and those who voted against his nomination denied the American people an outstanding public servant."
The vote was 47-52. Veep Biden was present in case he needed to break a tie vote, but with the Democrats crossing over, it wasn't necessary.
Law enforcement groups lobbied heavily against the nomination.
My view: This is just another example of the country's misguided over-glorification of crime-fighters. Shame on those Democrats who voted against Adegbile, especially Bob Casey of PA. [More...]
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SXSW begins March 7. If I were going, I'd like to see The Legend of Shorty, a new documentary by the producers of Where is Sugarman, about Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman." Here is the description from Channel 4 News which will air it after the SWSX showing, as to how it was filmed and what it is about. I don't know of anyone else who is airing it now in the U.S. From Protagonist:
Filmmakers Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos set themselves on a perilous and quixotic quest into the Mexican sierra and the heart of "Shorty's" forbidden lands to try to find him. What they discover will forever change the way we see the war on drugs.
This is an open thread, all topics welcome.
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I've been watching the Oscar Pistorius trial live on the internet since it began Monday. They are still on the first witness.
The format of the trial is different than in the U.S. In South Africa, the defendant has the right to make a statement addressing the charges at the beginning, before the state gives an opening argument. Oscar's lawyer read a detailed statement, in the first person as if Oscar was speaking, refuting the charges paragraph by paragraph. He went through the facts of what happened, and it was much like what the affidavit from the bail hearing. (The only difference I could discern was that he said Oscar went to the balcony to bring two fans back. In the bail application, they said there was one fan.) [More...]
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It's time for the Oscars. Up for Best Picture:
- American Hustle
- Captain Phillips
- Dallas Buyers Club
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Wolf of Wall Street
Here's a thread for your thoughts.
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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense lawyers have filed a motion (available here) renewing its request to lift the SAMs (special administrative measures) imposed by the Bureau of Prisons and to compel the Government to use a "taint team." The motion says "the defense is encountering obstacles related to FBI monitoring of family visits and BOP screening of materials that defense counsel need to review with the defendant."
When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is visited by one of his sisters, the SAMs restrictions on him require the visit be monitored by the U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Prisons or FBI, so that the Government can determine if the visit is being used to pass messages soliciting or encouraging acts of violence or other crimes, or some other purpose that would violate the SAMs. The Government has recently said that an FBI agent present during a visit with one of his sisters heard Jahar make an inculpatory remark.
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Trial begins tomorrow for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden. The "spokesman" for Al-Qaida is charged with conspiracy to kill United States nationals, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and providing material support and resources to terrorists.
The Government claims that prior to 9/11, he urged others to swear an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden and told Osama he would help him by giving speeches and appearing in al Qaeda propaganda for the purpose of recruiting additional al Qaeda personnel. It claims that Osama bin Laden sought a meeting with him on 9/11, and that after 9/11, he made speeches and videos in support of al Qaida. It also claims he had advance knowledge of Richard Reid's shoe bomb attempt and made speeches supporting it, which the Government claims, amounts to providing material support to terrorists.
Abu Ghaith, prior to his arrest, was an Iman and high school religion teacher. [More...]
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Who is looking forward to the Oscars?
To Oscar Pistorius' Trial?
To the next story on Chapo Guzman and our failed war on drugs?
If those don't entice you, please pick a topic that interests you. This is an open thread.
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There's an interesting article in the New York Review of Books on the arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. In one portion, it explores alternative theories of his arrest:
Many now believe that Chapo voluntarily turned himself in, that the commandos who went through the building at four in the morning, according to witnesses, were there simply to guarantee the operation’s safety while all the appropriate contracts and agreements were signed, that Emma Coronel was there to say good-bye.
This version does not attempt to explain why Guzmán would feel like ending his life at large, with the prospect of a lifetime of solitary confinement in a US prison before him, but there are many other views about how and why Guzmán was snared.
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Congrats to Jerry Lefcourt and Bill Aronwald, defense lawyers for Kerry Kennedy, for the acquittal today on charges of drugged driving. The jury deliberated for one hour.
On July 13, 2012, she drove her Lexus S.U.V. erratically after swallowing Zolpidem, a generic form of the sleep medication Ambien. She sideswiped a tractor-trailer on a highway in Westchester County before she was found, slumped over her steering wheel, her car stalled on a local road.
Ms. Kennedy has maintained that she took the pill accidentally, mistaking it for medication she took for a thyroid condition. She testified on Wednesday that she did not realize her mistake until well after the accident.
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