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Friday :: January 30, 2015

The argument for a populist Democratic Party: Not the Obama Coalition

Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton
Neither of these women hinder or help the Emerging Democratic Majority.

Egberto Willes in arguing that the "Obama Coalition" is not truly a Democratic coalition, wrote:

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Friday Open Thread

Another busy day. Our last open thread is full, here's another one, all topics welcome.

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Canada Set to Approve More Surveillance Authority

Canada is unwisely following in the footsteps of the United States and about to pass legislation increasing surveillance authority for intelligence purposes in the name of the War on Terror.

Under the new law, which will be presented in Parliament, CSIS will be able to block financial transactions, stop people from traveling abroad to join extremist groups and intercept material that can be used in an attack. It would need to obtain a judicial warrant first.

...The new law will also let police detain potential terror suspects for longer periods without charge, the reports said, and make it easier to track and monitor suspects.

Act in haste, repent at leisure. Once you give power to the Government, it rarely gives it back.
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Thursday :: January 29, 2015

Texas Executes Man With IQ of 67

The Supreme Court has banned the execution of the mentally disabled. Robert Ladd has an IQ of 67. Texas killed him tonight anyway. He died 27 minutes after being injected with lethal drugs. He said they stung.

Under Texas’s unique – and widely ridiculed – definition of intellectual disability, he was deemed capable of being executed because he did not match the degree of mental impairment depicted in a character in a John Steinbeck novel.

Ladd is the second mentally disabled inmate to be killed in the U.S. this week. Georgia killed Warren Hill

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Indonesia Police Prepare for Bali 9 Executions

Bali 9 inmates Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are closer to execution. They could be killed within weeks. Andrew Chan's appeal for clemency was denied last week. (Background here.) A police commander says he has received messages the two are on a list for February.

Indonesia President President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the country's Attorney General say no more appeals are allowed by law. Their lawyers disagree, and have filed a new appeal in the Densepar District Court. Today, according to their lawyers, the court accepted the new appeal for filing.

Police at Indonesia's two killing fields, the Nirbaya and Li- musbuntu on the island of Nusakambanga, are ready and waiting for them, as well as 6 other convicted drug offenders whose killings are scheduled next. They include [More...]

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Australian Faces 12 Years For Smoking Joint on Bali Beach

Police in Bali paraded Australian Nicholas James Langan, 25, before the media this week. His offense: he and an Indonesian acquaintance were caught sharing a joint on the beach. Police also showcased the joint, which contained less than one gram of pot. They also found a "roach" that weighed 1/10 of one gram. The combined weight was under one gram.

The penalty for drug possession (as opposed to trafficking for which the death penalty is authorized) is 4 to 12 years in prison. Using drugs carries an additional 5 year penalty. Police will ask prosecutors to charge them with both offenses. [More...]

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Deadline Passes Again, No Prisoner Swap

Update: No swap or release occurred. It should be mentioned that ISIS never said it would free the Jordanian pilot if Jordan released Sajida al-Rishawi. ISIS only said the pilot wouldn't be killed. Big difference. ISIS only offered to swap the Japanese journalist for al-Rishawi. ISIS said both would be killed if Jordan didn't comply by sunset. I suspect ISIS will carry out its threat, and kill both. (The pilot may already be dead, since there have been no photos of him since around the time of his capture.)

It was Jordan that added a condition that the release of al-Rishawi would have to be in exchange for its pilot (a swap), and demanded proof of life, before proceeding further. (Jordanian announcement here.) But that was never ISIS' offer. It only proposed a swap of the Japanese journalist. [More...]

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Wednesday :: January 28, 2015

Wednesday Open Thread

I'll be working all day (and probably tomorrow as well.) Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

Update: TL was down from about 10 pm last night until 5 am this morning (MT). All should be fine now.

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Mexico : U.S. Can Have El Chapo in About 300 Years

Mexico now says the U.S. is unlikely to play host to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman anytime soon.

Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam yesterday told the Associated Press he expected a new extradition request by the U.S. to be filed yesterday or today. He also made it quite clear they aren't turning him over , at least not for 300 or 400 years:

"I could accept extradition, but at the time that I choose. 'El Chapo' must stay here to complete his sentence, and then I will extradite him," Murillo Karam told The Associated Press in an interview. "So about 300 or 400 years later — it will be a while."

He said it's a matter of "national sovereignty." [More...]

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Monday :: January 26, 2015

Monday Open Thread

Busy work day. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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How to Get a Gold Star From the DEA

Bump and Update: The Flores Twins have each been sentenced to 14 years. The Judge said had they not continued to deal drugs while cooperating, they would have gotten 12 years.

The infamous Flores twins of Chicago will finally be sentenced Tuesday. Some background on twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, is in this Chicago Reader article. The Government filed its sentencing memorandum a few weeks ago, which I have uploaded here. Their sentencing guidelines (level 47, Category I) call for a sentence of life in prison (there is no parole in the federal system and good time doesn't apply to a life sentence.)

Due to the Flores Twins' “extraordinary cooperation”, which the Government maintains resulted in more than 50 people being charged (list here), most of whom are their workers and customers, the Government is asking for a sentence at the low end of a reduced range of 10 to 16 years. The Government writes:

Absent their cooperation, the government would argue life imprisonment is the appropriate sentence for these defendants. However, they are not being sentenced absent cooperation.

How big were the Flores twins? [More....]

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"El Chapo" Guzman: U.S. Makes New Push for Extradition

Mexico's Attorney General last week said he believed the U.S. was hours away from filing a new extradition request for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. His lawyers immediately filed a new request a writ of Amparo seeking protection from extradition.

It's all very confusing, since the news and the court filings are in Spanish and Google translate does not do a good job of translating legal terms. I'm reprinting the summary of the court's order below from the court's website, and hoping someone can respond in comments as to whether I'm reporting this correctly. [More...]

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Friday :: January 23, 2015

Colo. Wannabe Terror Teen Sentenced to Four Years

Shannon Conley, a 19 year old from Arvada, CO was sentenced to four years in federal prison today.

She actually caught a big break. Had she not agreed to cooperate and plead guilty, for which the feds agreed to let her plead to the catch-all conspiracy charge under 18 USC Section 371, which carries a five year maximum sentence, she would have been facing a lot more time. Her sentencing guidelines, according to her plea agreement, were 25 to 30 years.

What did she do? From her plea agreement (in which she admits the following): She met a guy online named Yousr Mouelhi who said he was with ISIS. They agreed on the need for violent jihad. They decided to get married and made plans for her to travel to Turkey. But first, to improve her jihadist skills, she enrolled in in the volunteer US Army Explorers (USAE)program and received training in military tactics and firearms.[More...]

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Friday Open Thread

Joseph Sledge of North Carolina has been released from prison after serving 37 years for murder. DNA proved he didn't do it, according to the three judge panel that heard the evidence.

Sledge is the eighth person exonerated after the state set up the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only state-run investigative agency of its kind.

The ISIS deadline for the Japanese hostages has passed. There is no statement yet from ISIS, but one is expected.

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a challenge to lethal injection drugs filed by Oklahoma death row inmates. One of them has already been executed.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tsarnaev Trial Start Delayed, New Battle Over Venue

Dzhokhar Tsarnav's defense team filed a third motion to change venue yesterday. They provided a lot of statistics and quotes from the voir dire process so far to show Tsarnaev cannot get a fair trial in Boston.

In the filing Thursday, the lawyers said questionnaires filled out by 1,373 prospective jurors from Eastern Massachusetts show that 85 percent of them either believe Tsarnaev is guilty, have some self-identified connection to the case, or both.

“There is now no doubt that these emotions are deep, that they linger, and they are peculiar to and permeate the entire Eastern Division,” of Massachusetts, the lawyers argued, adding that 68 percent of the jury pool believes Tsarnaev is guilty “before hearing a single witness or examining a shred of evidence at trial.”

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