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Saturday :: March 28, 2015

Amanda Knox: Justice At Last in Perugia

It's over, for good. Amanda Knox can finally put this horrific 8 year ordeal behind her. Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation has fully exonerated both Amanda and Raffaele Sollecito of murder.

The supreme Court of Cassation panel deliberated for 10 hours before declaring that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding insufficient evidence to convict.

...The decision to overturn the convictions without ordering a new trial amounted to a rebuke of another high court ruling two years ago that vacated Knox and Sollecito's 2011 acquittal, ordering yet another trial.

[More...]

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Friday :: March 27, 2015

Friday Open Thread

An exhausting week at work. I'm so glad it's Friday. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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OIG Report on DEA Agents' Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Via Politico, the Office of Inspector General has issued a report on sexual misconduct allegations against agents in four law enforcement agencies in the Department of Justice, including the DEA, FBI, ATF and Marshals Service.

The full report is here. It's over 100 pages long, so I've summarized the more salacious parts below: [More...]

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Wednesday :: March 25, 2015

Wednesday Open Thread

Time for a new open thread. All topics welcome.

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Another Judgment Day for Amanda Knox

The Supreme Court in Italy will rule Friday on yet another appeal in the Amanda Knox case.

If she loses, will she be extradited? Will Italy even file the request? I don't think given the unique and twisted history of the case, disputed facts and the different and lesser protections afforded defendants by the Italian legal system, which allows prosecutors to appeal not guilty verdicts and according to some news reports, considers jeopardy not to attach until final judgment is rendered after appeal, the U.S. would grant an extradition request. Nor do I think a diplomatic showdown will result if it refuses. This case needs to be put to rest.

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Tuesday :: March 24, 2015

Utah Reinstates Death by Firing Squad

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has signed a bill into law allowing executions to proceed by firing squad when lethal injection drugs aren't available. From the Governor's website:

HB11, Death Penalty Procedure Amendments

This bill establishes the firing squad as a secondary method for executions, in the event the drugs necessary for lethal injection cannot be obtained. Lethal injection remains the primary method for carrying out executions in Utah.

I'd call Utah the new Indonesia except it isn't killing non-violent drug offenders. Still, it's sickening to think that any state in this country would legalize such barbaric means of state-sanctioned murder.

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Monday :: March 23, 2015

Monday Night Open Thread

I'm about to catch up on the day's news, and watch the Voice. Our last open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Ted Cruz Announces Presidential Bid

Ted Cruz will seek the Republican nomination for President. Here's a place to discuss him and the 2016 Presidential race.

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The So-Called "ISIS Hacking Division"

Many media outlets, including the New York Times reported Saturday that ISIS has released the names and addresses of 100 service members on a website and urged followers to find and kill them. It's far from certain this release has any official connection to ISIS. Instead of "ISIS Urges Sympathizers to Kill U.S. Service Members It Identifies on Website", the headline should be "Group Supporting ISIS Urges Killing of U.S. Service Members Named in Internet Posting."

The release was announced Friday night on Twitter and uploaded to PasteBin, the site used by many groups to post messages. [More...]

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Sunday :: March 22, 2015

The Mess in Yemen

The Guardian has a very good account of what's happening in Yemen among the various factions. (For a backgrounder on the Houthis, see this Guardian analysis.)

Many are saying Yemen is on the brink of an all-out civil war, which would have repercussions for the entire region, and as in Libya, give ISIS a toehold to grab onto and spread. The Guardian says:

The fear is that the Houthi advance will drive a fresh wave of militarisation and radicalisation in the Sunni-majority Yemeni heartland, acting as a recruiter for jihadis. Western intelligence already considers the local al-Qaida faction – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – the world’s most potent franchise, a growing threat seeking to exploit regional turmoil to widen its scope.

[More...]

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Captured Syrian Pilot Given to al Nusra

The Syrian pilot captured by militants after their helicopter crash-landed in Idlib today has been turned over to Jabhat al Nusra, the Syrian arm of al Qaida. In a rant on video, preacher and Nusra ally Sheikh Abdullah al-Mhaisni stands over the pilot with a gun. [More...]

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Sunday Open Thread

We have such beautiful weather this weekend. It's hard to stay online.

Our last (non-sports) open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Saturday :: March 21, 2015

March Madness Day 3

Didn;t decide the full slate, but I did pick the following ATS:

Kentucky -16 over Cincinnati, Ohio State +9 over Arizona, Georgia State +7 over Xavier, UAB +6 over UCLA.

If I get a chance I'll add more picks.

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Friday :: March 20, 2015

FBI Investigating MS Hanging Death of Otis Byrd

The FBI is investigating the hanging death of Otis Byrd, an African American, in Mississippi. Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas said today it is not clear if Byrd's death was a homicide or suicide. He also cautioned against assuming it was a hate crime:

Lucas, who is himself African-American, said Friday that he's worried people will jump to the conclusions that Byrd was murdered and that race was a factor.

"I don't want the community to go excited saying it was a white-on-black thing. That's the worst thing that can happen, is people making it into a race issue," Lucas said. "And that's my biggest fear. And I don't want that to happen.

It sounds like a homicide from other remarks of Lucas: [More...]

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Gen. Petraeus' Views of ISIS, Iraq and Syria

General David Petraeus was back in Iraq last week at a conference. He said:

In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

Petraeus also talked about Syria: [More...]

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