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Tuesday :: June 28, 2016

Institutionalists v. "Insurrectionists"

Today on Kagro in the Morning, in the midst of a discussion with David Waldman on the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt (PDF) (discussion begins (begins at 46 minute mark of the discussion linked above), David and I segued to an exploration of what exactly is meant by the idea of “institutionalists v. insurrectionists”. the starting point was this interview of Chris Hayes:

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Monday :: June 27, 2016

Supreme Court Strikes Down TX Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Texas law limiting access to abortions was unconstitutional:

The Supreme Court’s 5 to 3 decision ruled unconstitutional a 2013 Texas law that required all abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters of the regulations under House Bill 2 said they aimed to protect women’s health. Abortion advocates called the mandates unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights.

...In the court opinion, the justices said lawmakers couldn’t prove the rules actually protected women’s health. The move suggested restrictive abortion measures won’t stand unless policy designers prove they keep women from harm.

The opinion is here. [More...]

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Supreme Court Vacates Conviction of VA Ex-Gov McDonell

The Supreme Court has vacated the conviction of Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell:

A jury in September 2014 found unanimously that McDonnell used the governor’s office to help Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a wealthy dietary supplement company executive, advance his business interests. In exchange, Williams gave McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, $177,000 in loans, luxury vacations and a Rolex watch.

Four months later, a federal judge sentenced McDonnell to two years in prison... McDonnell argued that simply referring a constituent to another state official was not among the “official actions” that are barred by the federal law.

The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event, without a more specific action, is not “official action.”

[More...]

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Monday Open Thread

FYI, I'm still #WarrenforVP.

Open Thread.

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Sunday :: June 26, 2016

When Trump Didn't Know What Brexit Was

Hollywood Reporter:

"And Brexit? Your position?" I ask.

"Huh?"

"Brexit."

"Hmm."

"The Brits leaving the EU," I prompt, realizing that his lack of familiarity with one of the most pressing issues in Europe is for him no concern nor liability at all.

"Oh yeah, I think they should leave."

To my knowledge, this was Trump’s only statement on Brexit before the referendum. Now of course he sees himself as its inspiration and originator:

I guess he’s saying he said “they should leave” is his “correct call.” Interesting that.

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Friday :: June 24, 2016

India Still Waiting on Shami Witness Evidence

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the prolific Tweeter, ISIS news disseminator and aggregator, aka @ShamiWitness, has been incarcerated in India since December, 2014. He wasn't charged until June, 2015. And he still hasn't been tried. In May, the Indian media reported his trial might begin in June. June is just about gone. What's the latest?

Despite claiming they had a good case, it appears India is struggling with proving the charges. India is just now seeking "letters rogatory" for Google and Facebook to provide information on Shami Witness' email accounts. (Here's a description of "letters rogatory"). India sought Google's help directly in November, 20015 and has yet to receive a response. Will Letters Rogatory make a difference?

Out of more than 100,000 tweets, police say they have found one in which he gave out information about an open border crossing between Turkey and Syria. I explained here in detail why I don't think that tweet shows criminal intent. [More...]

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Indonesia: Militants Get Second Chances While Drug Traffickers Face Death

I'm in favor of second chances for all offenders, terrorists included. But it is beyond the pale that Indonesia allows second chances for militant bomb-makers who participated in acts of terrorism to get out of jail and become productive citizens, while foreign drug traffickers, even mules, face death.

There are beautiful beaches all over the world. If you are vacationing this summer, please skip Bali and Indonesia. Visit the Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, Fiji, and other beautiful places that don't kill non-violent drug offenders.

Indonesia has long coddled terrorists while showing no mercy or tolerance for non-violent drug offenders, especially foreigners. Here's another example .

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Brexit, Big Deal or Hiccup?

So Great Britain has withdrawn from the European Union, David Cameron will resign by October, and stocks tumbled. I have no opinion right now, just some questions, as I'm just now hearing about it.

First, is this really an earth-shattering event? What changes?

In principle, nothing changes immediately. Britons remain EU citizens and business continues as before. In practice, many believe trade, investment and political decisions will quickly anticipate British departure from the bloc. The EU could also face a Britain breaking apart as europhile Scots plan another push for independence and seek to join the EU on their own.

Here's how Europe is responding:

EU leaders and the heads of EU institutions in Brussels have delivered statements that broadly stress a mantra of Three Rs: Regret - at losing nearly a fifth of the EU economy and more of its military and global clout; Respect - for the will of the British people; and Resolve - to keep the other 27 together. They also reminded Britain that it remains a full member for the time being, with all the rights and obligations that entails.

[More...}

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Thursday :: June 23, 2016

Thursday Night TV and Open Thread

I am dreading watching the premiere of Queen of the South tonight. Why? Because it cannot possibly be as good as La Reina del Sur and nobody can take the place of Kate del Castillo as Teresa Mendoza.

[Added: I was right to dread it. It's absolutely awful. And a sacrilege. First, the actress playing Teresa Mendoza is nowhere near as self-confident or charismatic as Kate del Castillo. Second, it doesn't follow the plot of the novel from which it's taken. It takes the characters' names but then invents a plot that descends into stereotypes in the first five minutes Teresa Mendoza would never consume drugs. This show has her snorting white powder in the first scene. It also has her dead in the first scene, as if the rest will be a flashback. The Teresa Mendoza of La Reina del Sur doesn't die -- she goes off into the sunset, with the help of the DEA and to the consternation of authorities in Spain, pregnant and alone but in a gorgeous house on the ocean somewhere in a beautiful part of the world. [More...]

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Supreme Court Splits on Obama's Appeal of Immigration Program

The Supreme Court today refused to lift the injunction on Obama's DAPA program for parents of immigrant children in the U.S. The Court split 4-4. There is no opinion as such, just a statement that "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court." Here are the questions the Supreme Court addressed. The 5th Circuit opinion that the Court refused to set aside today is here.

Hispanic voter registration has risen dramatically. Republican voices may be louder on the issue, but I'm confident they will be defeated. Today's ruling will energize those favoring immigration reform and family reunification. [More...]

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Wednesday :: June 22, 2016

Democrats Embarrass Themselves

This sit-in over gun control is the most childish, embarrassing display by Congress I've seen yet. Some news article said Bernie Sanders showed up but I don't know if its true because I refused to read it due to auto-play video. I turned on the TV and watched for 5 minutes. It was cringe-worthy. The Republicans were no better, but this is all so ridiculous and undignified. They should all go back to kindergarten.

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Tuesday :: June 21, 2016

Yoga Day and Open Thread

It's International Yoga Day.

I prefer Pilates, but I think it's great that so many millions of people are moving their bodies.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: June 20, 2016

DOJ and FBI Release Full Transcript of Orlando 911 Call

The Department of Justice and FBI reversed themselves today and released the full transcript of Omar Mateen's 911 call. The partial transcript released hours earlier omitted any reference to ISIS.

Why the change? From DOJ's statement: [More...]

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Senate Rejects Gun Control Measures

The Senate today failed to pass amendments to appropriation bills funding background checks on guns and sharing state mental health records with the feds.

Senators voted 53-47 on a proposal from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that would reauthorize funding for the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS) and incentivize states to share mental health records with the federal system.

Then there was Sen. Diane Feinstein's amendment, also properly voted down:

Feinstein’s amendment would allow the attorney general to block the sale of a gun or explosive if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” an individual has or will be involved in a terrorist attack. It would allow the attorney general to block the sale of a gun to anyone under a terror investigation in the past five years.

There were four measures all together. The Senate failed to pass all of them. These kinds of laws will do nothing to reduce gun violence or stop terrorists. They will infringe on the privacy and liberty rights of the rest of us. Guns do not cause the rage. They are the means by which people express them. These laws are band-aids that fail to treat the infection.

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Supreme Court Weakens Protection Against Illegal Searches

All hail the mighty police. Thanks to the Supreme Court today, your protection against a warrantless search following an illegal stop by police just diminished.

In a 5-3 ruling, the justices relaxed the so-called exclusionary rule and upheld the use of drug evidence found on a Utah man who was stopped illegally by a police officer in Salt Lake City.

The court, in an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, said that because the man had an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation, the illegal stop could be ignored.

The opinion is here. The three female justices dissented. Justice Sotomoyor's words are powerful: [More...]

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