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Sunday :: September 19, 2021

2021 Emmys -- Scaled Down

The Emmys Awards are on. There is something very different about this year's production. It is so scaled down, and many of the nominees are celebrating and appearing from London.

I'm watching on my desktop and there seems to be a time delay of a few seconds during which you get to see the exact moment the nominee hears their name and their entire expression changes. I like that.

The London room seems like an intimate bar, with just a handful or two of tables. It's a more intimate setting than even the Golden Globes.

So far, the awards are going to a handful of shows like The Crown, Ted Lasso, The Handsmaid's Tale, Pose, Ted Lasso to name a few.[More...]

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Friday :: September 17, 2021

Congratulations to CO Governor Jared Polis

Mazel Tov, Congratulations and Muchas felicidades to Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Colorado First Gentleman Marlon Reis, partners of 18 years. They got married in Boulder on Wednesday.

The greatest lesson we have learned over the past 18 months is that life as we know it can change in an instant. We are thankful for the opportunity to celebrate our life together as a married couple.

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Tuesday :: September 07, 2021

Mexico Supreme Court Ruling: Abortion is Not a Crime

The Mexico Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing abortion violate its Consitution.

The unanimous ruling from the nation’s top court follows a growing women’s movement in Mexico that has repeatedly taken to the streets of major cities across the country, demanding greater rights and protections for women.

“Today is a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldivar after the decision was announced. “It is a watershed in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.”

And then, there's Texas, whose Governor showed some foot in mouth disease when answering a question about the new Texas law banning abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat (usually 6 weeks): Texas won't force rape victims to have babies because they have 6 weeks to get an abortion and Texas will make a great effort to eliminate rape by removing rapists from the streets.

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Taliban Announces New Government

The Taliban named its new Government leaders today. Not surprisingly, this is no "Taliban 2.0". Religious minorities and women were excluded from the leadership positions. Its public announcement proclaimed:

"...in the future, all matters of governance and life in Afghanistan will be regulated by the laws of the Holy Shariah.”

Just as in the Taliban administration of the 1990s, almost all top members of the new government are ethnic Pashtun, with one deputy prime minister slot going to an Uzbek, a Tajik commander from the northeastern Badakhshan province becoming chief of army staff, and another Tajik taking over the ministry of economy. The Shiite Hazara community, whose representatives held important positions during the republic and which accounts for more than a fifth of the nation’s population, was excluded altogether.

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Tuesday Open Thread

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has reached 40 million.

The Taliban has claimed full victory and the right to govern all of Afghanistan. It has not yet officially named the leaders of its new government, but its spokesman says the announcement is imminent.

Pretrial hearings are scheduled to resume this month at Guatanamo for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other detainees accused in the 9/11 attacks.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began Monday night. If you are cooking for the holiday, the New York Times offers these recipes.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Thursday :: August 26, 2021

Thursday Open Thread

I am so glad August is almost over. And I'm so sorry to those of you who expected me to be blogging and updating. I honestly couldn't find a time to do it.

But September is around the corner, and my work and court schedule will be back to normal.

The only news I've had time to follow is Afghanistan. What a terrible day the U.S. military had today.

Anyone who believed Trump that ISIS was defeated was as delusional as he was. Also, the Taliban and IS-IK (Isis in Khurasan)are enemies. Different goals, different religious views, and ISIS thinks the Taliban will buddy up with China which wants Afghanistan's rich minerals.

The faster we leave Afghanistan, the better. We never should have been there in the first place. That blame belongs on Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: August 10, 2021

Andrew Cuomo Resigns

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned today.

Five months ago, I opined he would not and should not resign.

....Stripping someone of their job before they have been found guilty of a crime, based on disputed factual allegations, is simply unacceptable. This is not Alice in Wonderland ("No, no said the Queen. First the punishment, then the verdict").

There are thousands if not millions of Andrew Cuomos out there -- men over 50 who are or were in positions of power in business or government who are as sexist as the day is long. Educate them, privately. Write them a letter and tell them how they made you feel. Ask them to acknowledge and validate your feelings according to today's norms, even if these norms did not exist when the event happened. If your goal is to end sexual harassment in the workplace, rather than to get 15 minutes of fame, reap a financial benefit or get personal revenge, this should suffice.

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Saturday :: July 24, 2021

Dangerous Delta Roars: Booster Shots, Masks, Lockdown Protests

Could there be any more dangerous time than now, when Delta makes up 83% of all new cases and we're being told not to worry if you get Delta after being vaccinated because the vaccines are likely to prevent serious illness or death. They tell us only the unvaccinated need fear serious illness or death.

I don't buy that for a second. Nor do I care whether my chance of getting a serious sillness or death from Delta is 3% or 10%. That means some people, whatever the number, are going to get sick and die from it. Our lottery chances may be 85 million to 1 and people still buy tickets because they know someone usually wins. In this case, it's like drawing the Old Maid card, and I don't want to play that game.

Around the world, countries are imposing more lockdowns. The numbers in Cancun are so high that some hotels have designated specific floors for sick tourists. Cabo San Lucas is also through the roof. Australia has shut down Sydney. New Zealand has reimposed quarrantines for travel from Australia. [More...]

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Saturday Open Thread

Is there anything to watch on TV? I recommend Race Around the World Season 1 and 2 on Discovery +. It is not another Amazing Race, it's miles better and more interesting with unbelievable photography.

Next up is Vicenzo on Netflix, which is half drama and half comedy and just wonderful.

I'm also watching the new season of Make the Cut on Amazon Prime (with Heidi and Tim). If you haven't seen Tehran on Apple TV, it's great and has you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

U.S. Network TV continues to get more and more vacuous in my opinion. Cop stories and victim stories. No thank you.

In the good news department, Malverde will be starting soon, Telemundo's "most ambitious adventure". (Although that phrase is as overused as when Chris Harrison would say on the Bachelor, "This is the most dramatic season ever.) Rafael Amaya who played Aurelio in Senor de los Cielos will make his return to TV after more than year. And there's an indication, however slight, there could be a Senor de los Cielos 8. A La Reina del Sur 3 is also in the works.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday :: July 18, 2021

About that Vaccine Misinsformation on Social Media

The Government sounds so frustrated that the false warnings spreading among the anti-vaxxers is having more of an impact than their doctors.

You can't shut social media down, that would be a violation of the First (and probably more) Amendments.

But Congress could still take radical action. Here's why I'm not President: No one would go along with my plans. This is what I would do to stop the stupidity of the anti-vaxxers from spreading any further: Get Congress to pass a law that mandates a sales/use tax on all social media postings. You want to post on Twitter or FB, it will cost you a dollar for each one. You want to reply: same thing. Every 30 days the social media companies have to turn in their tax money with a report of how much money they collected. And it better match the number of posts and comments or there will be a hefty fine. [More...]

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Friday :: July 16, 2021

Post-COVID Deluge and Open Thread

I know it seems like I just disappeared from the Internet, and I did, but not intentionally.

I don't think I ever thought much about how court cases would be rescheduled after COVID. Everything was continued for 90 days so many times, and then all of a sudden, after the vaccines were out, the continuances were over and the dates set so long ago are now real dates. Which translates to things like I have three federal sentencings in the first two weeks of August. [More...]

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Friday :: July 09, 2021

Michael Avenatti Sentenced to 2.5 Years in Nike Fraud Case

Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels and self-created pundit, was sentenced in federal court in New York yesterday to 2.5 years in prison for his scheme to defraud Nike. On February 14, 2020, following a three week jury trial, he was convicted on all three of the charges against him.

The charges were: Transmitting interstate communications with intent to extort, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(d) (Count One); Hobbs Act extortion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count Two); and honest services wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 1346 (Count Three).

The sentence was substantially less than the sentencing guideline range as calculated by Probation (135-168 months). [More...]

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Wednesday :: July 07, 2021

President of Haiti Assassinated

Jovenel Moise, the President of Haiti was assassinated in his home last night, around 1:00 a.m. His wife was critically injured and has been flown to Miami for treatment.

The attack was carried out by highly trained professionals, with high-powered weapons. The killers claimed to be with the DEA, carrying out an operation, according to Bocchit Edmond, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. and Prime Minister Claude Joseph.

Prime Minister Claude Joseph said highly trained assassin, some speaking a mix Spanish or English with a US accent, assassinated the president at his home. The assassins yelled, “DEA operation! Everybody stand down! DEA operation! Everybody back up, stand down!”

Reuters confirms the statements by Edmond and Joseph:

Edmond told Reuters in an interview the gunmen were masquerading as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents as they entered Moise's guarded residence under cover of nightfall - a move that would likely have helped them gain entry.

According to La Nouvellist, a major newspaper in Haiti, the Deputy Justice of the Peace has released an official report. It says Moises' body was riddled with bullets. Also, his daughter was home at the time and hid. [More....]

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Friday :: July 02, 2021

DOJ Declares Temporary Moratorium on Federal Executions

Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday issued a moratorium on scheduling of federal executions, pending a study by the Department of Justice on fairness. In a memo to federal prosecutors he wrote:

Serious concerns have been raised about the continued use of the death penalty across the country, including arbitrariness in its application, disparate impact on people of color, and the troubling number of exonerations in capital and other serious cases," he added. "Those weighty concerns deserve careful study and evaluation by lawmakers."

...The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely. That obligation has special force in capital cases," Garland said in the memo.

Shorter version: Smackdown to Donald Trump who had his AG William Barr resume executions after a 20 year hiatus. Under Donald Trump, 13 inmates were killed just in his last year of office.

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Thursday :: July 01, 2021

Trump Organization and Alan Weisselberg Indicted

Here is the 25 page Indictment of the Trump Organization and its chief officer, Alan Weisselberg.

The Indictment alleges the Trump Organization ran a tax fraud scheme for 15 years, allowing executives to evade taxes by compensating them "off the books." From the New York Times:

The 15-count indictment, which charged the Trump Organization with committing a scheme to defraud, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records, accused the company of a long-running conspiracy to help executives, including Mr. Weisselberg, evade taxes on perks and bonuses while at the same time decreasing the company’s own tax obligations.

It also charged Mr. Weisselberg with failing to pay taxes on leased Mercedes-Benzes, bonuses and a rent-free apartment paid for by the company. The indictment also charged him with grand larceny, accusing him of essentially cheating the I.R.S. out of tax revenue.

According to the Times, the investigation continues, with Donald Trump as the next potential target.

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