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Tuesday :: July 22, 2014

U.S. Judge Approves Search Warrant for Entire Gmail Account

U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Gabriel Gorenstein in the Southern District of New York has approved a search warrant request for the entire contents of an unnamed person's Gmail account, with no restrictions. Federal prosecutors requested the warrant in a money laundering investigation.

The decision is contrary to earlier rulings by Magistrate Judges in Kansas and Washington, DC. I have uploaded the opinion here. [More...]

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Israel Says Fate of One Soldier in Ambush is "Unclear"

Update: since writing the post below, the Israeli Defense Forces have posted on Twitter that they are trying to "identify" (not locate) the 7th soldier. Nor do they describe him as "missing."

A vehicle carrying 7 soldiers was attacked July 20. We have identified 6 of their bodies. Efforts to identify the 7th soldier are ongoing.

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On Sunday, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prossor, denied Hamas had captured an Israeli soldier.

Yet, today the Israeli Army says the fate of the one of the seven soldiers in an armored vehicle in Shujaiyeh, Gaza that was attacked by Hamas is "unclear." He is classified as "missing" but presumed dead. [More...]

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Monday :: July 21, 2014

Azamat Tazhayakov Convicted of Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy in Boston

Azamat Tazhayakov has been found guilty of Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy as to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's backpack, but not his laptop.

Juror Daniel Antonino told reporters the jury believed the laptop had been taken "because it was valuable, plain and simple," and not to influence the investigation.

The defense will appeal. Among other things, they say Azamat was prejudiced by the split verdict form.

Moral of the story: Don't talk to the Feds without a lawyer. Our prisons are filled with people who thought if they could only tell their side of the story, the cops would see it their way. It rarely happens. Ask for a lawyer immediately and don't talk until you've consulted one. [More...]

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ISIS: No Shortage of New Recruits

ISIS has released these photos of its new recruits being trained somewhere in Ninawah. Apparently, there is no shortage of volunteers. (None of these photos have gruesome images or depict killings or injuries.)

Note the boys dressed in white. In one photo, one of the boys is taking pictures and in another, one is just holding the flag. Since the soldiers are in beige uniforms, I thought maybe he was like the team "mascot" -- or ISIS had implemented a "bring your kids to work" day. Apparently not: In this photo, the kid marches with his gun. In this photo, the two boys in white are seated with the group, one holds a gun and another the flag.

Is ISIS just training young boys, or using them in actual combat? And what's the difference between the soldiers in gray versus those in tan? Do they have different functions?

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New Report on Human Rights Abuses in U.S. Terror Cases

The Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School has released a new report, Illusion of Justice, Human Rights Abuses in U.S. Terrorism cases.

The 212 page report examines 27 terror cases from start to finish.

[S]ince the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, DC, the United States government has failed to meet its international legal obligations with respect to its investigations and prosecutions of terrorism suspects, as well as its treatment of terrorism suspects in custody.

One of the big problems is of course the FBI's overuse of terror stings. Here are the major concerns, according to the study: [More...]

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Feds Indict Fedex on Drug Conspiracy Charges

The U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco has indicted Fedex on drug conspiracy charges. Here is the Indictment.

The charges relate to its shipping of prescription drugs on behalf of internet pharmacies. The Indictment claims Fedex has been doing this since 1998 and was told to stop in 2004. The pharmacies are the Chhabra-Smoley organization and Superior Drugs.

The penalties: [More...]

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Monday Open Thread

I have a brief due today, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday :: July 20, 2014

Israel Denies Hamas Captured Israeli Soldier

Earlier today, Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed it captured an Israeli soldier, Shaul Aron. Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prossor, now denies the claim.

"There's no kidnapped Israeli soldier and those rumours are untrue," said Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor.

It appears the soldier, whose name is Oron Shaul, was one of 13 Israeli soldiers killed yesterday, but was not captured alive. Hamas may have found his identification, or it may have taken his name from this leaked list of the 13 soldiers who were killed. The list is not from an official source.

Prior to the official denial, many reporters and analysts on Twitter doubted the claim. Here's why. [More...]

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El Chapo Guzman and "La Barbie" Organize 1,000 Inmate Hunger Strike

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, arrested in February, is in solitary confinement at Altiplano Maximum Security Prison. Édgar Valdez Villarreal, aka "La Barbie" is in the same prison. The two at one time worked together, but later became enemies when La Barbie jumped ship to Beltran-Leyva. But their joint interest in the conditions of their confinement apparently trump old feuds, as the two have engineered a hunger strike (article in spanish)among 1,000 of the prison's inmates, to protest the violation of their human rights. It began Wednesday, and will continue indefinitely. [More...]

Among their complaints: [More...]

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9th Circuit Stays Execution Due To Drug Cocktail Secrecy

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the execution of Arizona inmate Joseph Wood. The Court says he has a First Amendment right to know the details of the two-drug cocktail the state intends to use in killing him and the qualifications of the personnel who will administer them.

The opinion is here. The dissent is here.[More...]

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Saturday :: July 19, 2014

Saturday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full, so here's another one. All topics welcome.

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Saturday Morning ISIS Update

While ISIS got overshadowed by other events this week, it's still on a tear, wreaking havoc in both Iraq and Syria. It announced today it seized the Assad military airport in Deirezzor city and the army there is trying to flee.

ISIS is also getting tougher on Shari'a law enforcement. Their women's unit is patrolling for women who don't dress appropriately. How would you like to be confronted by this group? ISIS is getting tougher about Shari'a law violators: Thursday it stoned an adulteress in the Tabaqa market area in Raqqa. Friday, it stoned another one to death near the football stadium. These were public events, and well attended. One of the events was even made wheelchair accessible (see the photo.) Are we supposed to take that as a sign of how caring they are for the disabled among them?

Question: Were these really adulteresses or just wives of ISIS enemies? The photos were posted on an official ISIS page. [More...]

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Friday :: July 18, 2014

Sentencing Commission Makes Reduction in Drug Sentences Retroactive

Update: Here is Attorney General Eric Holder's press release endorsing the Sentencing Commission's action.

At my direction, the Bureau of Prisons will begin notifying federal inmates of the opportunity to apply for a reduction in sentence immediately. This is a milestone in the effort to make more efficient use of our law enforcement resources and to ease the burden on our overcrowded prison system.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission voted today to make the upcoming two level decrease in drug offense levels under the sentencing guidelines retroactive to cover those already serving sentences. Here is the press release.

The effective date for reductions for those already serving sentences will be delayed until November, 2015, so that courts can consider public safety risks. In other words, the retroactive application is not mandatory. Inmates can begin filing motions in November, 2014, but the reduction won't go into effect until November, 2015.

[More...]

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Obama Blames Pro-Russian Separatists, Putin Blames Ukranians

The blame game continues as to who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. President Obama blames the pro-Russian rebels. So does British Prime Minister David Cameron. Russian President Putin blames the Ukranian armed forces. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged Western leaders to 'bring justice to those b*******' who brought down the flight. Obama also said that one American with dual citizenship with the Netherlands was on board.

Republicans in Congress are already using the tragedy to call for an increase in defense spending. This tragedy does not call for a military response by the U.S. This is not our fire, we didn't start it, it wasn't directed at us, and whether it was pro-Russian rebels or the Ukranians, they weren't intending to attack the United States. We can help with the investigation into who shot down the plane (which we are already doing)and press for a cease-fire and restitution for the families of the victims from those ultimately deemed responsible, but using the tragedy to call for increased military spending by the U.S. is just political gamesmanship.

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Thursday :: July 17, 2014

"Shot Out of the Sky": 1 American, Multiple Children on Board

Update: Later information shows either 1 American was on board.

Among those on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was shot down over the Ukraine, near the town of Grabovo, not far from the Russian border: 9 Britons, 23 Americans (later revised to 1 or 3) and 80 children. All 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers were killed. The passengers were from all over: 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 38 Malaysians. Also: 11 Indonesians, four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines and one Canadian. Some of those aboard were headed to an AIDS conference in Melbourne.

Here's a reason it's nice to still have print publications: Check out the front page of Friday's Independent, "Shot Out of the Sky." [More...]

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