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Friday :: August 01, 2014

Friday Open Thread

What's on your mind today? Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Colorado: New Rules for Marijuana Edible Packaging

Colorado is enacting new rules for recreational marijuana edibles, designed to address the problem some people (like Maureen Dowd) have determining how much to ingest.

The rules will not be "tougher" with respect to the quantity of THC contained in edibles. Colorado's current rules specify each "serving" of recreational pot edibles can contain up to 10 mg of THC. [More...]

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Thursday :: July 31, 2014

CIA Director John Brennan Admits CIA Spied on Senate Staffers

With the declassified version of the Inspector General's report outlining the CIA's unauthorized intrusion into U.S. Senate staffers' computers on the horizon, CIA director John Brennan admitted today the agency spied on Senate members. He also apologized. [More...]

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Trial Over OKC Bombing Videos Ends

The four day trial over Jesse Trentadue's attempt to obtain additional Oklahoma City Bombing videos has ended. The judge reserved ruling.

The FBI presented witnesses today to say the tapes never existed, which was an 11th hour claim. Up until the last few weeks, its defense had been they couldn't find any such tapes.

Oklahoma trooper Charlie Hangar, who arrested Timothy McVeigh, testified his videocam didn't start recording until McVeigh was in the back seat. Trentadue says reports show another version of Hangar's tape exists that shows cars passing by, including a brown pickup truck that belonged to an acquaintance of McVeigh's.

Another FBI witness testified the report about an FBI agent who tried to sell a tape showing McVeigh and John Doe #2 at the Murrah building to CBS and Dateline was a hoax.

[More...]

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Immigration Debacle for House Republicans

They'll try to fix it tomorrow, but as of now, the border control bill has been a total debacle for Republican House leadership today.

[Republican Sen. Ted] Cruz, the hard-line Texas Republican, has been working behind the scenes to stir up conservative opposition to a House GOP plan to approve $659 million to secure the border and handle the flow of 57,000 migrant youths.

And it worked. Amid disarray, House GOP leaders canceled Thursday's vote after it was clear they did not have the votes.

Politico has more. [More...]

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Wednesday :: July 30, 2014

Exonerated Innocent Man Describes 21 Year Prison Nightmare

Kenneth Ireland of Connecticut was 17 when he was arrested for raping and killing a woman. During his police interrogation, he maintained his innocence. He was 18 when he was tried and convicted. 21 years later, in 2009, he was freed after DNA evidence showed he did not commit the crime, and the real perpetrator was identified, tried, convicted and sentenced.

A state commissioner will decide Ireland's compensation, which may be up to $8 million. During testimony this week Ireland described the horror he experienced daily in prison.

I wish it were an actual nightmare ... because then I could have woken up instead of spending 21 years in a tiny cell with the most violent criminals who targeted me because I was a convicted sex offender."

[More...]

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ISIS Mass Massacre in Tikrit: "Down By the River"

I can't bring myself to watch (and won't link to) the ISIS video of the massacre of hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims and army deserters in Tikrit. Almost all are in their 20's and 30's. The video is 36 minutes long, and the real horror is in the last 6 or 7 minutes. Shorter version: There are trucks loaded with hundreds of terrified young men. First they make them lie down in the sand. Then they shoot around 50 of them in the head, one by one. Then there's a scene of an open area packed with more than 100 bodies. And then:

The 36-minute video ends with a scene in which fifteen young men are being escorted to a blood-soaked path along a river, where masked gunmen await, one of whom is holding the Islamic State's flag. The victims are each shot in the head and dumped into the river one by one.

Video above: Neil Young and CS&N, Big Sur Sept 6, 1969:

"Down by the river, I shot my baby
... This much madness is too much sorrow...."

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Tuesday :: July 29, 2014

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Our last open thread is full. Here's another one, all topics welcome.

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Imprisoned Drug and Paramilitary Leader Claims His Brother Killed Pablo Escobar

Former cartel and AUC right-wing paramilitary honcho Don Berna, aka Diego Murillo, who is serving 31 years in a Florida prison, has written a book. In it, he says it was his brother Rodolfo Murillo Bejarano, alias “Semilla,”, not the Search Bloc cop Hugo Aguilar who fired the shot that killed Pablo Escobar.

Berna was one of the leaders of the Pepes (Persecuted by Pablo Escobar). Aguilar has since been sentenced to 9 years in prison for his ties to the AUC. [More...]

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Overblown Fears of Foreign Fighters

In a NY Times Oped, two scholars in Arab Studies debunk the myth that ISIS is coming after the West. They say homegrown terrorists are a bigger threat than foreign fighters returning from Syria.

...Contrary to what many counterterrorism experts believe, however, ISIS has so far shown no interest in Western targets. The group’s overarching objective is to consolidate its dominion in the Levant, a place of great religious significance.

What could change this dynamic?

The one thing that might change the attitude of foreign fighters is the United States’ launching military action against them.

[More...]

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Monday :: July 28, 2014

My First Tornado

I was driving to the ICE detention facility in Aurora today when looking off to the left, I saw what I assumed was a fire. I considered for a brief second it could be a tornado, but it wasn't raining and it didn't seem to be twirling, it just looked like dirty smoke. So I kept going.

Within a minute there was lightening. Then I could hear a little bit of hail fall on the roof of my car, then a siren went off in my car (my cell phone was plugged into the stereo, and the siren was as loud as the radio when the volume is turned up really high. I didn't even have the radio on, let alone set at high volume.) It was an emergency alert -- which I hadn't signed up for but appreciated -- telling me to get out the area, a tornado had been spotted "in rotation" on radar. I had no idea what "in rotation" meant, but I understood I should get out of the area.

Within seconds, I was in the midst of a torrential downpour and the streets were flooded. By now I was only about 5 blocks from the jail, but the jail was in the direction of the brown blob of smoke I had seen, which was not a fire, but a tornado that had touched down. [More...]

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Monday Open Thread

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Drug Mule's Cocaine Pellets Burst on Plane

Colmin Smith, age 48, was flying from Antigua to London with 239 grams of cocaine (about 1/2 pound) in pellets in his stomach. Shortly after the packed Virgin Atlantic flight took off, the pellets burst. He managed to tell a flight attendant right before he lost consciousness.

The plane made an emergency landing in Bermuda, where medics performed emergency surgery at the airport, and then took him to the hospital. He survived, and then had to face the judge.

The penalty: No jail, just a fine of 417 pounds (about $700.00). Why did he catch such a break? [More...]

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ISIS Turns Against John McCain in Latest Publication

ISIS released the second edition of Dabiq, its glossy magazine yesterday, titled "It’s Either the Islamic State or the Flood"." There's a drawing of a big ark on the cover. While they certainly have mastered graphic design -- the issue is visually compelling, well laid-out, and uses easily readable fonts, it's also very long (44 pages) and mostly centered around religious concepts.

As with its other publications, it mostly ignores the West and U.S. The notable exception is that it devotes 2 pages to John McCain. On the first page it blasts him.[More...]

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Sunday :: July 27, 2014

Trial Monday on Production of Missing Video From OKC Bombing

Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue has been fighting for years to obtain videos referenced in Secret Service and FBI timelines of the Oklahoma City Bombing investigation. Trial in his FOIA lawsuit (see IntelFiles case page for background) begins tomorrow in federal court in Utah. Trentadue's brother Kenneth died in an Oklahoma detention facility in 1995. The government claimed his death was a suicide. Jesse says the condition of his brother's body shows it was murder.

On Monday, a three-day trial is scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on a lawsuit by lawyer Jesse Trentadue. He filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents and videotapes from the bombing investigation — including one tape he believes shows two suspects exiting a Ryder truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and the detonation of explosives in the vehicle.

[More...]

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