Thursday :: March 22, 2018

NY Times Obtains Surveillance Camera Videos for LV Shooter

The New York Times has obtained new surveillance camera videos of Stephen Paddock's last days at the Mandalay Bay before carrying out the Las Vegas shootings.

The videos add nothing to deciphering Paddock's motives. He acts normal, his interactions with staff are normal, even when he's alone in the elevator the cameras don't capture anything odd.

The Times labels the videos:

"unnerving because it ends in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

That may be, but they are not the deadliest mass killings in modern American history. More than 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks. As for domestic killings, more than 168 people died in the OKC bombing and more than 500 were injured.

Congress could disregard the Second Amendment entirely and outlaw the possession and purchase of all guns and rifles and we'd be no safer. Bombs can kill more people than guns. [More...]

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Sessions Issues Memo on Charging Death in Drug Cases

Jefferson Sessions has issued a memo to U.S. Attorneys on when to charge the death penalty in drug cases. He actually is undercutting Trump's argument for more death-eligible drug crimes because it shows how many are already on the books (thanks in large part to Joe Biden, who sheperded the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act through the Senate, that among other horrible things, expanded death-penalty eligible crimes.)

Biden’s bill put over 100,000 new cops on the street and spent $9.7 billion on the construction of new prisons. The wide-ranging bill implemented a host of liberal policies, including an assault weapon ban and the Violence Against Women Act. But it also expanded the number of crimes that qualify as death penalty cases, encouraged states to keep inmates locked in jail*, criminalized gang membership, eliminated Pell Grants for inmates, and put in place mandatory drug testing for people on supervised release. States had to implement policies that greatly reduced opportunities for parole in order to qualify for the new prison funding.

...During the 1980s he was a staunch advocate for ramping up the war on drugs. Biden devised the national “drug czar” position and worked alongside Republicans during the Ronald Reagan years to craft oppressive anti-drug laws, including co-sponsoring the law that instituted far longer prison terms for possession of crack cocaine than of powder cocaine. In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander called Biden “one of the Senate’s most strident drug warriors.”


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Trump's Key Lawyer Resigns

No surprise here. John Dowd has resigned as Trump's main lawyer. Who needs to look at Joe di Genova every day, let alone listen to his thoughts? If he had to bring on one of the DiGenovas, it should have been his wife, Victoria Toensing. She's the better lawyer of the pair, he's just a loud-mouth like Trump. (I spent months if not years arguing against them on Geraldo Live during the Clinton impeachment years.)

Interestingly, or not, Victoria's son Brady Toensing, also a lawyer who works with the family firm, was Vice-Chair of the local Republican party in Burlington, VT and chaired Trump's 2016 Vermont campaign. He is also the lawyer who filed the complaint to have Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, investigated. Brady was hoping to be nominated by Trump to be U.S. Attorney. But Trump glossed over him and picked a female who has a reputation as being a crusader on opioids. Brady still is still a member of DiGeneva and Toensing. [More...]

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Tuesday :: March 20, 2018

NY Judge Rules Trump Can be Deposed by Victims

Gloria Allred wins a round in the Summer Zervos lawsuit. The Judge cited the Paula Jones case as one authority for the proposition that a lawsuit can proceed against a sitting President.

The decision by Justice Jennifer Schecter of State Supreme Court in Manhattan paved the way for lawyers to seek depositions from several women who accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment before he was elected and to subpoena Trump campaign records related to his female accusers.

Justice Schecter rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that a state court has no jurisdiction over a sitting president. She cited a United States Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to bring a sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton.

“No one is above the law,” Justice Schecter wrote. “It is settled that the president of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts.”

It was after that ruling that Clinton and Jones settled with no admission of wrongdoing or apology. Will Trump do the same? Would Gloria and her clients accept a settlement with no admission of wrongdoing? My view: Of course. Money usually triumphs over principle.

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Cambridge Analytica Fires CEO after Secret Video Appears

A video has been revealed of Cambridge Analyitca officials. You can watch it here. In it they talk to an undercover reporter "how Cambridge Analytica secretly campaigns in elections across the world. Bosses were filmed talking about using bribes, ex-spies, fake IDs and sex workers."

Channel 4 news also recorded CA CEO Alexander Nix saying CA ran the Trump digital campaign , ran the TV campaign, that he personally met Donald Trump many times. Nix says on the tape CA did all the research, got all the data, did all the analytics, all the targeting. He says their data informed all of Trump's strategy.

Here's a video presentation by Nix in his Online Marketing Rockstars Keynote in Germany on the work CA did for Trump's Campaign and the strategies the company used.[More...]

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Tuesday Open Thread

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

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FTC Opens Investigation Into FB Over Cambridge Analytica

The FTC has opened an investigation into Cambridge Analytica.

At issue for the company -- and at the heart of the FTC probe -- is a settlement they reached with the agency in November 2011, ending an investigation that Facebook deceived users about the privacy protections they are afforded on the site.

...Among other requirements, the resulting consent decree mandated that Facebook must notify users and obtain their permission before data about them is shared beyond the privacy settings they have established. It also subjected Facebook to 20 years of privacy checkups to ensure its compliance. [More...]

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Monday :: March 19, 2018

Trump to Seek Harsher Penalty for Drug Crimes and Limit Pain Pill

Donald Trump wants more mandatory minimums and other increased penalties for drug crimes.

He also wants to decrease pain-pill prescriptions by one-third over the next three years and limit Medicaid's reimbursement for them.

The Trump administration said it will seek stiffer penalties against drug dealers — including the death penalty where appropriate under current law — and it wants the number of prescriptions for powerful painkillers to be cut by one-third nationwide as part of a broad effort to combat the opioid crisis.

...It also wants to tighten the number of opioid prescriptions that can be reimbursed by Medicaid as a way to curb overprescribing.

Donald Trump is not our doctor. [More...]

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Saturday :: March 17, 2018

Agent Andrew McCabe Fired, Reportedly Kept Memos

It's pretty cruel to fire a career FBI agent two days before his official retirement so he'd be at risk of losing his retirement, but that's Donald Trump. Jefferson Sessions did the dirty work.

The Associated Press reports McCabe kept memos of his interactions with Trump and with James Comey. The New York Times reports:

Mr. McCabe’s memos were left at the F.B.I., which means that Mr. Mueller’s investigators have access to them as they work to corroborate Mr. Comey’s account.

McCabe reportedly met with Trump three times. [More...]

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Friday :: March 16, 2018

Wife of Don. Jr. Files for Divorce

Vanessa Trump, wife of Donald Jr. and mother of their five young children, has filed for divorce. Her lawyer is a New York criminal defense attorney named David Feurelson.

Ivana Trump had a very prominent criminal defense attorney, Michael Kennedy (R.I.P.) as her divorce attorney.

The split has been a long-time coming, according to the media. Vanessa allegedly doesn't like that Don. Jr. is always traveling or the constant attention due to the Trump name or his tweeting.

One article said they had hoped to stay married through Donald's occupancy of the oval office, but their differences were too great.

They obviously have a pre-nup, and apparently have worked out child custody as Vanessa filed the petition as "an uncontested proceeding" which means neither party has to appear.

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Trump Plans on More Pundit Hirings for Important Jobs

Donald Trump apparently thinks he can remake his battered image through hiring television pundits for important policy positions in his administration.

Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels says she can "describe his junk perfectly."

What a farce.

What's not a farce: Robert Mueller is subpoenaing Trump Org.'s Russia records.

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Thursday :: March 15, 2018

United Sends Dog to Japan Instead of Kansas City

For the second time in a week, United is in the doghouse for its mishandling of a passenger's beloved canine: This weekend, a family checked its dog when flying from Oregon to Kansas City. When they went to doggie claim in Kansas City to retrieve their German Shephard named Irgo, they were handed a Great Dane.

Where was their beloved Irgo? Shipped to Japan by mistake. At least he didn't die, like the dog the owner was made to put in the overhead bin, but still, this is pretty bad. The dog is now en route back home from Japan. I won't be surprised if it develops a serious case of PTSD from the ordeal.

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Wednesday :: March 14, 2018

Wednesday Open Thread

Physicist Stephen Hawkings has died. He was 76.

A former sheriff's deputy named Michael Hari who put in a bid to build Trump's border wall has been arrested on arson and illegal possession of firearms charges in relation to in a mosque bombing of in MN and an attempted bombing of a women's health clinic that provided abortions in Illinois.

The FBI alleges in the affidavit to the Complaint:

[Informants told the FBI] Hari said he would pay McWhorter and Morris $18,000 for their participation in the mosque bombing, according to the FBI affidavit. All three men allegedly drove up to Minnesota in a rented truck for the attack.

As to the mosque: m[More...]

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Tuesday :: March 13, 2018

Rex Tillerson Fired

Donald Trump has fired Rex Tillerson. CIA Chief Pompeo will replace him.

Gina Haspel will be in charge of the CIA.

She reportedly ran a secret prison in Thailand in 2002 where terrorism suspects were waterboarded and subjected to other so-called enhanced interrogations.

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Saturday :: March 10, 2018

Saturday Open Thread

Trump is considering the death penalty for drug dealers. Newt Gingrich once tried that.

Our last open thread is full, here is a new one.
All topics welcome.

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