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Monday :: April 24, 2017

Trump's Latest Whoppers

Biggest lie of the weekend by the Trump Administration: Chief of staff, Reince Priebus on Meet the Press (according to the New York Times):

“We expect a massive increase in military spending. We expect money for border security in this bill....And it ought to be. Because the president won overwhelmingly. And everyone understands the border wall was part of it.” (my emphasis)

More than 10 million people voted for Trump's opponents than voted for him. I'd say that's an overall rejection, not an endorsement, for his positions on issues. [More...]

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Sunday :: April 23, 2017

Sunday Open Thread

I haven't followed the news this week, so there's been little to write about. That will probably change soon. In the meantime, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday TV: Series "El Chapo" Premiere

I'm looking forward to the start of the Univision series El Chapo tonight. The fictionalized series about the life of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was based on the collective work of screenwriters and journalists in Univision's investigative unit who have followed El Chapo for years. From the Columbia Journalism Review:

To construct the narrative of El Chapo, the screenwriters and journalists had to learn to understand and accommodate each other’s perspective. While scriptwriters have the creative licence to tell a story in the most engaging and dramatic way, journalists are wed to the reality of what actually happened. Reyes describes it as a mixture of fun and frustration. “Fun because it’s a creative process,” he says. “But at the same time, we journalists are fact-addicts, and we think that reality is colorful, interesting, and complex enough that you don’t need to make it up.”

[More...]

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Thursday :: April 20, 2017

Thursday Open Thread

In the news: 7 things Trump and Sessions Get Wrong About MS-13

Jeff Sessions wants the border wall to hurry up.

Ivanka Trump is going to participate in the W20 (Women 20) summit in Germany next week. Her topic is "women's economic empowerment." She can share her experience in one sentence: Be born with a rich father, then marry a rich husband.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: April 19, 2017

MA to toss 21,000 Drug Convictions Due to Lab Fraud

Massachussetts is throwing out 21,000 drug convictions due to the lab fraud by chemist Annie Dookhan. (Background here.) Dookhan was convicted in 2013 and jailed. She was released on parole in 2016.

Most of the defendants have already served their time. Dismissal is just the first step: [more...]

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Fox Announces O'Reilly Exit

Bill O’Reilly is leaving Fox News.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, said in a statement.

O’Reilly lost more than 50 advertisers due to the allegations of sexual harassment and reports that some claims were settled with financial payments. O’Reilly denies the sexual assault allegations and his lawyers have said he is the victim of a left-wing smear campaign.

Financially, O'Reilly will probably never have to work again. [More...]

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Tuesday :: April 18, 2017

Supreme Court Rejcts Arkansas Request to Lift Stay on Execution

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the State of Arkansas to lift the stay of execution on Don Davis, an inmate scheduled to be executed Monday night. (It conceded the stay as to a second defendant, Bruce Ward.)

Arkansas scheduled 8 executions for 11 days in April because it's running short on Midazolam, one of the execution drugs.

Arkansas has not executed anyone in 12 years, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson is chomping at the bit:

In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he's disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay. The Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday that could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.

The Arkansas Gazette has more here.

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Sunday :: April 16, 2017

Happy Easter and Open Thread

Happy Easter to all who are celebrating.

Alec Baldwin returned to Saturday Night Live last night. I missed it but the video is here.

I watched all 15 episodes of "Ingobernable" this weekend on Netflix, with actress Kate del Castillo as the First Lady of Mexico, on the run after being framed for the murder of her husband. It's about corruption and extra-judicial killings inside and outside the Government. It incorporates a fictionalized version of the disappearance of the 43 students in Guerrero, Mexico (changing the location to the barrio of Tepito near Mexico City and the number to 39), castigates the DEA and CIA for being white collar criminals and no different than the cartels, and blames the U.S. and its insatiable demand for drugs for the violence in Mexico.

If you have Netflix, watch the President's planned speech (available with subtitles) in Episode 6. It's a good reminder our war on drugs, about to be ramped up by Jefferson Sessions, is not only a failure at home, but abroad. (Sessions is not just so last year, but so last generation. Clueless beyond hope.)[More....]

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Friday :: April 14, 2017

Friday Open Thread

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

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Thursday :: April 13, 2017

US Drops YUUGE Bomb on ISIS in Afghanistan

First Syria. Now Trump's military bombs Afghanistan with the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal. The purpose: Taking out a tunnel system created by ISIS's Wilayat Khorasan. (Note: ISIS in the Khorasan is not the same as al Qaeda's group of fighters from the Khorasan region.)

ISIS's Khorasan Wilayat is primarily in the Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. ISIS announced its formation in 2015.

We bring the mujahideen the good news of the Islamic State’s expansion to Khorasan (a region encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nearby lands). Therefore, we call upon all the mujahideen in Khorasan to join the caravan of the Khilafah [caliphate] and abandon disunity and factionalism.

[More...]

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Hector Beltran-Levya: Protection Against Extradition (For Now)

The Beltran-Leyvas have been at war with El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel since 2008 when Alfredo Beltran-Leyva was arrested and his brother Arturo (the leader of their group) blamed El Chapo. Arturo was gunned down by police in 2009. Another brother Carlos was arrested in 2010. Alfredo was extradited to the District of Columbia in 2014, where in 2016, he pleaded guilty without a plea agreement. Last week, he was sentenced to life in prison.

The last remaining brother is Hector Beltran-Leyva. He was arrested at a restaurant in San Miguel Allende in 2014. Although he has many cases opened against him in Mexico (29 according to some reports), a court favorably ruled on a U.S. request for his extradition in August, 2016. He is charged in the District of Colombia (separately from his brother) and the Eastern District of New York. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) approved the extradition on September 26, 2016. Not surprisingly, Hector appealed.

Yesterday, an appeals court in Mexico granted Hector protection against the extradition order and sent the case back to the trial court. Why? [More...]

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Wednesday :: April 12, 2017

Spicer Digs Himself a Bigger Hole

On the opening days of Passover, and the anniversary of the U.S. liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp (4/11/1945) Sean Spicer dug himself a hole on the Holocaust. He's still apologizing.

His two biggest gaffes: saying Hitler didn't gas his own people and referring to Hitler's death camps as "Holocaust Centers" (as if they are stores located in shopping malls.) The correct term is killing centers. There were also, of course, concentration camps.) [More...]

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NPR: Trump No Longer Defending Bannon

NPR says Donald Trump is no longer backing Steve Bannon in interviews, which it takes as a signal that Bannon is soon to be out of a job.

The reason, like with other departed Trump aides, is a clash with family members, particularly Prince Jared.

And so we learn Trump has another unappealing trait: The inability to be loyal to anyone who is not related to him. (Which seems to be more fealty than loyalty.) Among his roadside-kill: Chris Christie, Corey Lewandowski, even Rudy Giuliani (That's not to say he showed anything but bad judgment in picking them -- only that once he did, he dropped them the minute they ran into bad weather.) Here's what he said about Bannon:

"I like Steve, but you have to remember, he was not involved in my campaign until very late," Trump said. "I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn't know Steve. I'm my own strategist, and it wasn't like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary."

[More...]

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United: So Sorry, We'll Do Better Next Time

United Airlines has issued this apology for dragging an unwilling passenger off an overbooked plane to make room for some employees. His lawyer says he is now in the hospital recovering from his injuries. (No link to news articles because I could not find a single one without video.)

I stopped flying years ago -- it simply was too unpleasant, time-consuming and not worth the hassle or expense -- so I had no idea the airlines could do what United did: After offering $400, then $800, without getting enough takers, it can pick four passengers "randomly" and make them deplane, using police if necessary. First, that's no better than buying a stand-by seat. .

Second, I don't buy that the selection is random. Does anyone believe the airline would kick off a first class passenger already seated? I wonder if they didn't just pick the four passengers who paid the least for their seats and were not frequent flier members.

What's next? Will hotels overbook rooms, and when you're fast asleep in the bed, come knocking at the door with a cop in tow, telling you to vacate your paid-for room for another customer? I wouldn't be surprised. When you allow a few rich companies to dominate an industry, whether it's airlines, cable tv, internet or gas and electric companies, John and Jane Citizen get screwed. [More...]

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Tuesday :: April 11, 2017

AG Sessions Border Rant

Update: Sessions may have been misquoted.

Simply unacceptable comments by Jefferson Sessions. Pretty soon I will refuse to preface his name with the words "Attorney General." He doesn't deserve the respect that has traditionally accompanied the title.

He also returned to a common theme from the Trump campaign by saying drug cartels and criminal gangs are turning American cities into “war zones” by raping and killing innocent people.

“It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth,” he said.

I wonder how many AUSA's will have the courage to quit and refuse to be part of implementing Sessions' and Trump's filthy agenda.

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