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Wednesday :: March 04, 2015

Tsarnaev: Judy Clarke's Opening Statement

Here are some quotes from reporters in the courtroom who listened to Judy Clarke's opening statement in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial: Catherine Parrotta, Fox News and Jim Armstrong of WBZ (CBS):

"We meet in the most tragic of circumstances."

The circumstances that bring us here today still are difficult to grasp, are incomprehensible, are inexcusable.

For the next several weeks we are all going to come face to face with unbearable grief. We're going to see it, feel it, and agonize with every witness

"We will not sidestep Tsarnaev's responsibility for his actions" [More...]

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All White Jury Chosen in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Trial

The jury has been selected and opening arguments begin tomorrow in the death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with the Boston Marathon bombings. According to media reports, all of the 18 jurors and alternates are white. (More than 1,300 people were initially summoned for potential jury service in the case.)

The defense filed a motion a few weeks ago challenging the jury pool, saying the juror groups had been reordered by the court resulting in a statistically lower pool of minority jurors. [More...]

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DOJ Report Confirms Ferguson's Racially Biased Policing

DOJ's report on its six month investigation into police practices in Ferguson, MO will be released today. Here's what it finds, according to the New York Times.

The Ferguson Police Department was routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.

Ferguson's population is one-third white.

85 percent of traffic stops, 90 percent of tickets and 93 percent of arrests. In cases like jaywalking, which often hinge on police discretion, blacks accounted for 95 percent of all arrests.

This is not just a Ferguson problem, but a national problem. You see it every day in courtrooms across America. [More...]

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Wednesday Open Thread

Our last open thread is over-filled. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: March 03, 2015

Bali 9 Duo Transferred to Death Island

Just another day in Paradise. Escorted by two fighter jets carrying live missiles, commercial budget airline Wings Air, owned by Lion Air, today flew Bali Nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from Bali to Cilacap, where they were then taken by ferry to Nusakambangan, Indonesia’s death island where within days, they and 8 other convicted drug offenders will be driven at midnight to a killing field, tied to wooden posts and shot to death simultaneously.

According to news reports, Andrew and Myuran were silent as they were led to an armored vehicle to be taken to the airport, but thanked the guards as they left for their treatment during the decade they spent at Bali's hellhole Kerobokan prison.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says "We are frankly revolted." He says there's little chance of a change of heart, and Indonesia is just digging in its heels. [More...]

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Monday :: March 02, 2015

King v. Burwell: Interpreting the Affordable Care Act

Section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act (PDF) ("Obamacare") provides, in part, as follows:

Each State shall, not later than January 1, 2014, establish an American Health Benefit Exchange (referred to in this title as an ‘‘Exchange’’) for the State [. . . .]

Read literally and in isolation, this provision requires states to establish "exchanges." There is no escape clause provided in Section 1311. However, such a provision would violate the rule established in Printz v. United States, in which Justice Scalia, writing for the court, stated that "the forced participation of the States' executive in the actual administration of a federal program" violates the Constitution's federalism provisions.

More on the flip.

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Sunday :: March 01, 2015

Sunday Open Thread

Looks like we need a new open thread. Here's one, all topics welcome.

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"Jihadi John": Doxed to Death

The British media and the U.S. media have something in common: When a spontaneous event occurs and they get caught flat-footed, in a race to compete with other news organizations, they throw traditional vetting rules out the window and report whatever they are told, reliable or not. They rummage through every type of record, not only of the individual, but their families and associates, every scrap of online information, seek out people who have had not contact with the named individual for 10 or more years and report their information as fact, ignoring even the most basic inconsistencies. In essence, they decide the person is a monster, and then report anything, true or not, that points in that direction. [More...]

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Saturday :: February 28, 2015

Tsarnaev Trial to Stay in Boston

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's request to order his trial moved from Boston due to the inability to seat a fair and impartial jury. The vote was 2 to 1:

In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Juan R. Torruella wrote that media coverage from the date of the bombing through the current pre-trial process has been “unparalleled in American legal history,” and that in the face of such publicity “it is absurd to suggest that Tsarnaev will receive a fair and impartial trial in the Eastern Division of the District of Massachusetts.”

[More...]

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Friday :: February 27, 2015

Pres. Widodo Rejects Clemency, Locals Burn Thief Alive

Indonesia President Joko Widodo has rejected Austrialian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's plea for mercy for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, which was made by telephone call earlier in the week.

In an interview with daily business newspaper Kontan on Friday, the President reiterated that he would not commute the sentences imposed on drug traffickers as the country was in a state of emergency caused by drug abuse. He insisted that the executions of the convicts would go ahead as scheduled. On Thursday, the government had initially kept silent after Abbott issued his statement.

“Our position is clear: our laws cannot be interfered with,” the newspaper quoted Jokowi as saying.

In West Java (Indonesia's death island and killing fields are in Central Java) the locals have taken to burning car and motorcycle thieves alive (called lynchings), saying prison isn't an acceptable punishment, because when they get out, they'll steal again.[More...]

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Friday Open Thread

Time for a new open thread. All topics welcome.

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Thursday :: February 26, 2015

Jihadi John's Travel to Syria

I see many news reports saying Mohammed Emwazi, aka "Jihadi John" went to Syria in 2012. CAGE says it was 2013.

In early 2013, Mohammed's father suggested that he should think about changing his name by deed poll, so that perhaps the name that he had been known under thus far, might not cause him further problems as he sought to travel. He complied with his father's suggestion, and before long officially became known as Mohammed al-Ayan.

With one final roll of the dice, Mohammed bought a ticket for Kuwait, and attempted to travel there. Once again, he was frustrated as he was barred from travel, and once again questioned by the security agencies.

p.[More....]

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"Jihadi John" Identified

The black-clad executioner in ISIS beheading videos has been identified by the media as Mohammed Emwazi. He grew up in London, graduated college, and according to CAGE, which corresponded with him, was harassed by British intelligence and prevented from leaving several times. He is originally from Kuwait. The BBC has more. [More...]

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Wednesday :: February 25, 2015

Twitter vs. ISIS

I really wish Twitter would stop deleting ISIS accounts. In the last three hours, 20 accounts I've been following are gone. This has been going on for weeks. I don't like one-sided news. ISIS accounts are a source of information. Following them and reporting about what they write or depict is not support. When I do write about something violent that I've read or watched, I don't provide the link or reproduce the content and insist commenters not post them in comments.

The pro-Kurdish accounts with equally violent graphics (and name-calling) aren't being deleted. There are also a lot of Jabhat al-Nusra twitter accounts being given free reign. Twitter should at least be consistent. If one side gets to stay, they all should. [More...]

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Indonesia: The Coffins Have Arrived, Widodo Holds Firm

Today it was announced ten coffins have arrived on Nusakambangan island, Indonesia's island of death.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has refused to budge on the imminent executions of drug offenders, which by all accounts will proceed as soon as possible. He has tuned out requests by leaders of Brazil, Nigeria, France, the Philippines, and especially Australia.

What is fueling his stubborn resistance? He says other countries need to butt out and let Indonesia enforce its laws. He says this is about legal sovereignty and Indonesia's dignity. Shorter version: the politics of pride and nationalism. [More...]

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