Saturday :: April 08, 2017

"Mike the Situation" Charged With New Federal Tax Crimes

Mike Sorrentino, aka "Mike the Situation", who played himself on the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, and his brother Marc were indicted for tax crimes in 2014 in New Jersey. Today, a Superseding Indictment was returned charging him and his brother with additional crimes.

From the DOJ Press Release which notes that an Indictment is just an accusation: [More...]

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Friday :: April 07, 2017

Hillary Says Strike Syria, Trump Does It

Hillary Clinton said on Thursday, speaking at a Women's conference:

Mrs. Clinton grew particularly forceful in condemning Syria’s recent chemical attack and called for a strong military response to confront President Bashar al-Assad and “take out his airfields.”

Hours later, Trump announced airstrikes on Syria.

They are both wrong in my view. We should not be attacking Syria. At the very least, he should have sought congressional approval.

Donald Trump should not be allowed to make any major decisions about the country, we are not living on a reality TV show. He doesn't know what he's doing. Donald Trump provokes that feeling you get riding backwards down an up escalator.

ISIS is undoubtedly cheering Trump's play right into their hands. I can't watch, this won't end well for us.

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Thursday :: April 06, 2017

Thursday Open Thread

I have band-aids on two of my typing fingers making it cumbersome to type. I've been reading instead, mostly about the life sentence given to Alfredo-Beltran Leyva on his guilty plea yesterday and Ivan Reyes-Arzate, the Mexican high level police officer in the Sensitive Investigations Unit who allegedly shared information he received from the DEA and gave it to cartel members to help them avoid getting arrested.

Until I can type more about them, and other stuff, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: April 04, 2017

ISIS Says U.S. is Being Run By an "Idiot"

ISIS has released an official 37 minute audio statement in Arabic by spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer. It is ISIS's first reference to Donald Trump since he acquired a desk in the Oval Office.
He said the United States is "being run by an idiot".

"America you have drowned and there is no savior, and you have become prey for the soldiers of the caliphate in every part of the earth, you are bankrupt and the signs of your demise are evident to every eye." "... There is no more evidence than the fact that you are being run by an idiot who does not know what Syria or Iraq or Islam is," he said in a recording released on Tuesday on messaging network Telegram.

Al-Muhajir called for more attacks on the U.S., Russia and Europe. The name of the statement translates to "Patience, the promise of Go-d is truth". (Others have it as "So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth")

The statement was released through the al-Furqan Foundation, which publishes many of ISIS's most important audio & video releases.

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Monday :: April 03, 2017

Russian Train Blast Caused by Home-made bomb

The blast at the St Petersburg train station was reportedly a homemade bomb of TNT with shrapnel. At least ten people died.

So far,leaders of several countries have sent their condolences to Russia. Where's Trump? He isn't mentioned. In fact, when given the opportunity to say something, he declined:

When a reporter asked Trump if he contacted the Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with the terrorist attack in the metro St. Petersburg, [Trump] did not say anything.

[Added: He later spoke to Putin by phone and offered U.S. support in the investigation. [More...]

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Republicans Threaten Nuclear Option to Confirm Gorsuch

Democrats are close to having the required votes to defeat Neil Gorsuch. Republicans will then change the rules to allow passage by 51 votes (the nuclear option.)

If that means that radical right justices like William Pryor can be confirmed by 51 votes, I am not in favor of the filibuster. Trump may get to name several supreme court judges over the next few years, if he stays in office that long, and the damage he will do to the Supreme Court and federal judiciary where there are 100 vacancies, is enormous. I'm not a supporter of Gorsuch or his opinions, but he's not in the same league as William Pryor (or John Yoo, for that matter -- how long before his name comes up?)

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Death Toll Climbs From Colombian Mudslides

More than 250 people, including at least 60 children, have been killed by the huge mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been in Moca since yesterday, and he's tweeting continuous updates. The heads of dozens of countries have expressed their condolences to the people of Colombia. Many have offered aid, including China. One country prominently missing from Santos' twitter feed: the United States. Where's Donald Trump?

What does the State Department have to say about Colombia in its website and Twitter pages? Nothing so far. [More..]

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Sunday :: April 02, 2017

Ecuador Elections: Leftist Candidate Lenin Moreno Wins

Julian Assange is happy tonight. Leftist candidate Lenin Moreno has been declared the winner in Ecuador's presidential election. Moreno defeated right-wing ex-banker Guillermo Lasso. Earlier Sunday, dueling exit polls had each of them winning.

Here is Moreno's Twitter account.

Lasso sounds like a Trump clone. [More...]

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Saturday :: April 01, 2017

Saturday Night Open Thread

I've been completely uninterested in writing about Donald Trump this week. He just sucks the positive energy out of everything. The reality may be that our country is now being run by a family of three blind mice, with no relevant experience, and their under-informed, uber-wealthy and in several instances, seemingly ethically-challenged advisers, but it doesn't mean I have to pay attention. I'm content to point out when he makes a global laughing stock of himself and exposes his lack of insight and preparedness to preside over anything other than a golf ball.[More...]

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Thursday :: March 30, 2017

Convicted Bridgegate Defendants Sentenced to Prison

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie re-emerged on the national stage yesterday as part of Trump's new heroin task force, his former aide, Bridget Kelley, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for her part in Bridgegate.

A former top official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former member of Gov. Christopher J. Christie’s senior staff were sentenced today to prison terms for their roles in a scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, by misusing Port Authority resources to cause traffic problems in the borough, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

William E. Baroni Jr., 45, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Bridget Anne Kelly, 44, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Christie, to 18 months. On Nov. 4, 2016, Baroni and Kelly were each convicted following a six-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton on all seven counts with which they had been charged in an indictment returned May 1, 2015, by a federal grand jury. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.


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Wednesday :: March 29, 2017

U.S. to Pay $1 Million for Border Agents' Role in Violent Death of Undocumented Man

U.S. Border Patrol agents viciously beat Anastacio Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant, to death with batons and tasers. It was filmed by passers-by, and even though the agents tried to grab the cameras, one got by them. The U.S. will now pay Mr. Hernandez's family $1 million.

The United States settled a lawsuit with Hernandez’s estate last month, agreeing to dole out $1 million to his five children and his common-law wife, Maria Puga. The battle could have dragged on for years longer in court, the family’s attorney said, but they were worried President Trump could make Hernandez’s death a political issue amid efforts to beef up border security.

Still, none of the agents involved have been fired or disciplined or “lost a dime of pay,” for a beating that broke five of Hernandez’s ribs, damaged his spine and ultimately killed him, according to Eugene Iredale, the family’s attorney, who claims the immigrant was handcuffed as he was beaten.

“In 90 minutes, this case exemplifies the range of deficiency and misconduct that typifies the action of law enforcement that handles immigration enforcement,” Iredale told The Washington Post. “These agents are doing this in front of G-d and the world.”

Here is the Justice Department press release from 2015 with a bizarrely different version of the facts explaining why the officers aren't being charged. Here's what the other groups found: [More...]

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Trump's Border Wall Funding in Trouble

Donald Trump was wrong when he promised America that Mexico would pay for his border wall. Then he said the U.S. would pay for it. He submitted a budget to Congress. Republicans say they probably will leave it out of the final 2017 budget. They said it's better taken up as a supplemental stand-alone bill due to the opposition to it.

Senator Roy Blunt said cash for the wall would be left out of a spending bill that must pass by 28 April to avert a partial government shutdown.

His remarks came on Tuesday after Mr Trump requested a supplemental funding bill to include money for the wall along with military programmes.


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Wednesday Open Thread

It's a jail day for me, open thread day for you.

All topics welcome.

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Pay Your Own Way Petition Close to 200k Votes

The Change.org petition to make Melania Trump pay her own security costs at Trump Tower until she moves to the White House has 198,000 votes.

“The U.S. taxpayer is paying an exorbitant amount of money to protect the First Lady in Trump Tower, located in New York City,” the petition reads. “As to help relieve the national debt, this expense yields no positive results for the nation and should be cut from being funded.”

Yesterday, there were only 108,000 votes.

The NYPD estimated it costs between $127,000 and $146,000 per day to protect Mrs. Trump and Barron while President Trump is out of town, according to the New York Times. The cost to guard Mr. Trump and his family between the election and Inauguration Day reached $24 million, the NYPD said.

The petition now goes to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. (I'm not sure what they are expected to do with it.)

Donald, meanwhile, says his duties are so important he should be immune from having to answer a state lawsuit against him. Gloria Allred disagrees.

1,392 days and counting.

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Tuesday :: March 28, 2017

Mortality Rate Climbs for Underinformed White Males

Brookings Institution released a study of mortality and morbidity in the 21st century.

Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

The combined effect means that mortality rates of whites with no more than a high school degree, which were around 30 percent lower than mortality rates of blacks in 1999, grew to be 30 percent higher than blacks by 2015.


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