Tuesday :: November 06, 2018

Criminal Justice Measures To Be Decided in Today's Elections

Here is an excellent guide to criminal justice reform measures at stake around the country in today's elections, from legalizing marijuana to reducing sentences, allowing expungement of prior convictions and bail reform.

. Four states might legalize the drug by referendum: Michigan and North Dakota for recreational use, and Missouri and Utah for medicinal use.

Victories by governors who back marijuana legalization—including JB Pritzker (Illinois), Tim Walz (Minnesota), Gretchen Whitmer (Michigan), Michelle Lujan Grisham (New Mexico) who are all favored to win, as well as candidates locked in tighter contests such as Andrew Gillum (Florida), Ben Jealous (Maryland), and Ned Lamont (Connecticut)—could alter the legislative landscape on this issue.... In Michigan, Whitmer’s win could facilitate the referendum’s expansion into legislation to expunge past convictions.

Other measures detailed include ICE and local participation in its 287(g) program. [More...]

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Sunday :: November 04, 2018

Sunday Open Thread: Reversing Time

What if we could turn back the hands of time for two years instead of an hour? Would Trump have been elected if the public knew then what it knows now? I don't think so.


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Thursday :: November 01, 2018

Mexican Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Decriminalized Marijuana

The Mexican Supreme Court issued two important rulings today on marijuana:

Mexico’s Supreme Court issued two more rulings Wednesday ordering that complainants in individual cases be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes, establishing a precedent that a blanket prohibition on pot is unconstitutional.

The court found that adults have a fundamental right to personal development which lets them decide their recreational activities without interference from the state.

“That right is not absolute, and the consumption of certain substances may be regulated, but the effects provoked by marijuana do not justify an absolute prohibition of its consumption,” the ruling said.

The rulings establish that Mexico's laws prohibiting marijuana use are unconstitutional but it is still up to the Mexican Congress to pass a law legalizing marijuana.

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Harvard Poll: Young Voters Rejecting Trump and Repubs

A new Harvard poll finds that young voters are exercising their right to vote in record numbers and will be rejecting Trump and Republicans at the midterms:

Nearly twice as many respondents identified with the Democratic Party over the GOP — 41 percent to 21 percent, while 35 percent said they were unaffiliated or Independents.

That gap widened significantly when asked about Trump's job as president: 68 percent of overall respondents said they disapprove of Trump's performance after nearly two years in office, compared with just 26 percent who do approve. It grew wider still among likely voters, with 72 percent of that group disapproving of Trump's job.

While more of them lean progressive, the poll found they don't go as far as to support the Bernie Sanders-inspired "Democratic Socialist" views.[More...]

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Wednesday :: October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween, TV and Open Thread

It's really cold here -- I sure wouldn't want to be a trick or treater.

If you are staying in (or just getting back home with your candy), it's a good night for TV. Here's what I've been watching:

  • On Amazon Prime: The Romanoffs (Except for episode 4 which may have been the most boring TV I've seen in ages)
  • Exathlon U.S. on Telemundo: Extreme Sports competition I've been watching for months. The finale is Sunday night. You can catch up with some segments here or on You Tube.
  • Rosario Tijeras on Netflix(The 2010 Colombian version, not the later Mexican remake.) It's 60 episodes but they go fast (and there's subtitles and no commercials).

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Trump Says Military Troops at Border Could Increase to 15,000

Via NBC: Donald Trump today said the number of U.S. troops deployed to the southwestern border may increase to 15,000 -- in addition to border agents and ICE.

This is so obviously a political ploy intended to get more votes for Republicans in next week's elections. Not only is it partisan use of the military, it's a waste of expense. 15,000 is more than 3 times the number of troops authorized in Iraq, and roughly the same number sent to Afghanistan.

How many people are in the caravans? Far fewer than the 15,000 troops being sent to prevent their entry. [More...]

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Turkish Chief Prosecutor: Khashoggi Strangled in Pre-meditated Killing

The Turkish Prosecutor's office has released a statement on its investigative findings of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: He was strangled shortly after entering the embassy and cut into small pieces. The statement says the killing was a pre-meditated hit.

"In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia." His body was then dismembered and destroyed "again, in line with advance plans", it added.

More on the statement here. Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan met with Saudi prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb in Instanbul the past two days. Apparently, Turkey was not satisfied with the meeting. Fidan's statement said, "Despite all our well-intentioned efforts to the current stage uncovering the truth as the talks could not be achieved tangible results ". [More...]

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Tuesday :: October 30, 2018

Sleazy Phony Fraudlent Attempt to Discredit Mueller

Even considering all the slimy attempts by various Republicans to promote fake news we know about, this one stands apart as pretty outrageous.

A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the days leading up to the midterm elections—and the special counsel's office has asked the FBI to weigh in. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told me in an email on Tuesday.

According to the Atlantic, the phony sleazy attempt to discredit Mueller leads back to a company named Surefire Intelligence and a man named Jack Burkman. (I remember Burkman from having appeared on cable TV segments arguing against him in the Clinton years. He seemed like a jerk then and apparently has only increased that perception in later years. [More...]

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Monday :: October 29, 2018

Trump and 3 Children Sued in Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit was filed today against Donald Trump and his children Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka. The case is Doe et al v. The Trump Corporation et al , SDNY, Case No. 18-cv-09936.

There are four Does (plaintiffs) so far, accusing the Trumpsters of investment fraud. They have sued under the civil RICO statute which allows for treble damages.

You can read the 164 page Complaint here.

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Thursday :: October 25, 2018

Pipe Bombs in the Hands of Trump Supporters

Donald Trump blames the media for the suspicious packages containing pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats/liberals.

The FBI statement is here.

Sorry, Trump, but the culprits are your under-informed supporters (as is evident from the multiple misspellings and misaddressed packages alone. i.e., "Ms. Wasserman Schultz’s last name lacked an “h” in Schultz. Her address in Florida was spelled “Florids.” Mr. Brennan’s name was missing an “n.”"). [More....]

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Judiciary Comm. Sends Complaint About Avenatti to DOJ

The Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has referred Michael Avenatti and Julie Swetnick to the Department of Justice for a criminal probe of their allegations that Swetnick observed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh acting inappropriately at high school parties. Grassley alleges both of them made false statements.

Swetnick's affidavit is here. Here is Grassly's letter.

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Megyn Kelly and NBC Reportedly Part Ways

Megyn Kelly's tearful apology about growing up in a different time when "blackface" was a character, worked about as well as Harvey Weinstein's apology for sexual harassment saying that's how life was in the 70's. She reportedly has been axed at N.B.C. From the Daily Mail:

This move comes just 48 hours after the embattled host made remarks in which she defended blackface on Today. Kelly tried to deal with the scandal by delivering a tearful apology on-air and welcoming two black panelists to discuss the fraught and horrifying history of the practice, but it did no good.

'Megyn Kelly is done. She is not ever coming back,' said an NBC executive with knowledge of the situation. 'We are just working out timing of the announcement but mark my word – she is gone and will never be seen on NBC live again.'

She's also parted ways with her talent agency, and may find it difficult to get another one. The Mail reports she may return to Fox News. [More...]

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Muting Trump

Jack Shafer at Politico writes today about the need for the media to stop publishing everything Trump says as news. Very little of what he says is news.

The threshold for what constitutes news from Trump’s mouth should be reset. Unless his statements are true or his proposals have some chance of advancing, Trump’s loose talk belongs in concise and dismissive stories in the middle pages of the newspaper where we can skim them and move on. The press corps’ new motto should read: “Just because the president said it doesn’t mean it’s news.” Put the president’s boombox on mute.

I'd go a step further. If his statements are neither true nor likely to advance realistic proposals, don't print them at all. Not only aren't his mumblings and musings news, just reading about them, seeing his face and hearing that miserable voice puts most of us in a bad mood -- just mute him and don't publish it at all.

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Sunday :: October 21, 2018

Trump: Believes Saudis Lied But Still Supports Crown Prince

Donald Trump continues his occasional and arbitrary support for the presumption of innocence. In an interview with the Washington Post, he acknowledges the Saudi's lied about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death, but still says he supports Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, because neither Trump nor anyone in his administration has personally heard any evidence (including the reported tapes) implicating him.

Trump does, however, wittingly or unwittingly, seem to implicate the Crown Prince in a Saudi effort to kidnap Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia. [More...]

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Saturday :: October 20, 2018

Saudis Admit Khashoggi Died Inside Turkish Consulate

Saudi Arabia has issued a statement acknowledging that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Turkish consulate. But they claim he died as the result of a fist-fight.

"An argument erupted between him [Khashoggi] and others whom he met in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul leading to a fist fight which led to his death," SPA reported.

"The investigations are still under way and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Asiri were fired from their positions.

Here is the actual Saudi press release. The Saudis are firmly standing behind the Crown Prince. Here is a statement today from the Saudi Minister of Justice: [More...]

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