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Tuesday :: May 21, 2019

Government Seeks 17 Years for Son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia

The Government filed its sentencing memorandum today in the case of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa Cartel co-leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia, who cooperated with the government and testified against El Chapo. A post on his plea agreement is here.

Vicente has been in custody since 2010. In his own case, he initially raised the "public authority" defense and tried to convince the Court he was acting with the approval of the D.E.A. as an informant. After that failed, he became a cooperator and was interviewed more than 100 times.

He and his family will remain in the U.S. after he finishes his sentence, with new identities courtesy of the Witness Protection Program.

The government could have recommended 10 years, but it didn't. It is recommeding 17 years, 2 years more than the Flores twins. (See their history and the history of their co-consspirators here). It points out that Vicente ordered the murders and kidnappings of many people. But unlike the Flores twins, who got 14 years, he never lied.

Initially, Mexico was unhappy with the government's deal with Zambada-Niebla's cooperation deal and the plan to extradite El Chapo. I wonder what the new AMLO Admninistration feels the same.

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Monday :: May 20, 2019

Michael Cohen House Testimony Transcripts Released

Two transcripts of Michael Cohen's appearances before the House Intelligence Committee, previously under seal, were released today. Here is Adam Schiff's statement on why the Committee voted to release them.

Cohen’s February and March 2019 testimony corroborate information previously received by the Committee, including the Trump Tower Moscow deal under negotiation throughout the 2016 election season by then-candidate Donald Trump. Cohen also presented significant and troubling new detail regarding the false statement that he provided to our Committee in August 2017 and for which, in part, he is now in prison.

Since Cohen’s testimony, the Committee has already begun to follow up on information that Cohen provided related to attorneys for others involved in a joint defense agreement – including Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump – to determine whether they aided in Cohen’s obstruction of the Committee’s investigation.

The February transcript is here, and the March transcript is here.

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Sunday :: May 19, 2019

Trump Ramps Up Vocal Threats to Iran

Donald Trump said today:

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran..."Never threaten the United States again!"

How about not threatening Iran? Shouldn't that be a two way street? Just yesterday, Iran's foreign minister said:

"There will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region," Mohammad Javad Zarif told state news agency Irna.

Is there anyone (besides his offspring) Donald Trump is capable of peacefully co-existing with?

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Thursday :: May 16, 2019

Admissions Cheating Scandal: Updates and Thoughts

Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud/honest services fraud. Her sentencing guidelines according to the plea agreement (available here) are either 4 to 10 months (government’s calculation) or 0 to 6 months (Huffman's calculations.) Prosecutors say they will recommend 4 months in prison either way.

A jail or prison sentence is unlikely in my view. [More...]

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Tuesday :: May 14, 2019

Trump Jr. Agrees to Senate Interview

Donald Trump, Jr. has agreed to be interviewed in June by the Senate Intelligence Committee. He he will be questioned "for two to four hours on five to six topics".

One topic reportedly relates to inconsistencies between his 9 hour private testimony to the Committee in December 2017 about the the Trump Moscow project and testimony of Michael Cohen. The Wall St Journal reports:

The Senate committee wants Mr. Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous testimony and possible inconsistencies with other witnesses’ accounts, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump Jr. in 2017 told a Senate panel he was “peripherally aware” of negotiations for a Trump Tower Moscow project. But former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told a House committee in February that he briefed Mr. Trump Jr. about the project about 10 times.

The New York Times reports the committee also has more questions about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. And an ally of Trump, Jr. tells the Times:

A person close to the younger Mr. Trump, who in 2018 was a highly in-demand Republican surrogate on the campaign trail, said he was grateful for the support that some Republican senators and members of the House gave him against Mr. Burr, and that he would remember it when the 2020 campaigns begin.

How typical of the Trump clan to offer re-election support in return for a showing of personal support. Only Trump Jr. has nothing to offer in 2020 other than maybe a personal appearance which is more polarizing than helpful to any Republican other than those on the far right. Just another illusion of grandeur by the non-prodigal son.

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Monday :: May 13, 2019

Bachelorette Hannah: A Hit or Misfire?

Bachelorette Hannah is starting her "journey to find love" and taking us along for the ride.

She has a very annoying southern accent, and has trouble articulating her thoughts. She is so syrupy it's enough to turn me off sugar completely. At first, I wasn't going to watch. But, having seen the previews, it looks like she will be so raw and unfiltered, I'm going to give it a chance. [More...]

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Study: Lack of Correlation Between Immigrants and Crime

A new report finds that growth in the number of persons who are unlawfully present in the U.S. does not lead to higher local crime rates." Previous studies did not differentiate between lawfully present immigrants and those who are unlawfully present.

There is no immigrant crime wave in the U.S. Unfortunately, there is manic xenophobia thanks to the man with the desk in the oval office.

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Sunday :: May 12, 2019

Happy Mothers Day Open Thread

To all our readers who are Moms, we wish you a very Happy Mother's Day. And for those of you who are not, if your mom is still around, be thankful and don't forget to call.

I'm going to be late for my own Mother's Day get-together if I don't hurry up and go offline. I'd hate to miss spending some time with this little one:

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Thursday :: May 09, 2019

Thursday Open Thread

I'm busy with motions and stuff.

Questions of the day: Will the Judge in the Roger Stone case get the unredacted Mueller report? What happens to DT, Jr. if he ignores his subpoena? What happens to Barr? Can Trump, Sr claim executive privilege as to matters that occurred during his campaign and before he was sworn in? Should Congress writ Michael Cohen in from prison?

Highlands Ranch students last night walked out of the vigil for their deceased classmate when a group aligned with the Brady Org., Sen. Michael Benett and others hogged the stage to talk about gun control, which the students believe politicized the event and prevented them from talking about their deceased classmate. It also did a disservice to the real issue as they perceive it in this case which is mental health. The juvenile charged is transitioning from a she to a he and prefers to be called Alec or "he." Many students have said he didn't receive he support he needed. The 18 year old suspect, by the way, has excellent lawyers (Haddon Morgan -- who represented Kobe Bryant and so many others).

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: May 08, 2019

Denver Votes to Legitimize 'Shrooms

Denver is the first city in the U.S. to effectively legitimize psilocybin mushrooms. By a slim 2,000 vote margin, voters yesterday passed Ordinance 301:

A "yes" vote was a vote in favor of making the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibiting the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.

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Tuesday :: May 07, 2019

Trump's Tax History: Spectacular Levels of Loss

I'm a loser
And I'm not what I appear to be

The New York Times has obtained information from Donald Trump's tax returns for 1985 to 1994 (not the returns themselves) and matched them up against an open database maintained by the IRS. The amounts he claimed as business losses are gargantuan by any standard.

The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.

In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.

Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years.

[More....]

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Trump Pardons

Donald Trump has pardoned Michael Behanna, a former Army Lt. in Iraq from Oklahoma, who in 2009 was convicted by a military court of killing Ali Mansur Mohamed, an Iraqi citizen he suspected of being an al Qaida terrorist. Behanna was sentenced to 25 years but released on parole in 2014.

The story of his case is here.

Behanna comes from an influential, politically connected family in Oklahoma: [More...]

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Sunday :: May 05, 2019

Revised Open Thread (Mother's Day is Next Week)

I absolutely thought today was Mother's Day and put up an open thread called "Mother's Day Open Thread". Then I texted the TL kids to tell them I was on my way, and they responded, "Where are you going, Mothers Day is next week". So now I'm all tressed up (hair fixed up and dressed, not to be confused with "dressed up" )and no place to go. I guess I'll just read the news and check out places to to visit in Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico.

It's still time for a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Michael Cohen: "The Fixer" Heads to Otisville

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled to surrender Monday to the federal prison complex at Otisville, NY. Like all Otisville inmates, he will first be evaluated at the medium security prison. When his eval is over, he will walk up the road to satellite prison camp, (a minimum security facility with communal dorm rooms instead of cells that is more like an army barracks than a prison.) According to the Bureau of Prison's Statistical page, today there are 113 inmates at the camp. (Fill in the blanks with "Northeast Region" and "New York" and "Otisville").

Here is an account written by an attorney and friend of mine of his first days at Otisville (published in Chicken Soup for the Soul), and an extremely irreverent but sometimes funny and occasionally insightful blog (if you can get past the deprecating language the Jewish author, a former attorney and Otisville inmate named Lawrence Dressler, uses for his fellow Jews and others which he thinks is funny)about life at Otisville. (He was there for mortgage fraud). Here's his latest post about Michael Cohen.

Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino from the Jersey Shore reality TV show is serving a short sentence at Otisville right now for a tax offense. So is Billy McFarlan of the infamous "Freye Festival". Most but not all of the 113 camp inmates are Jewish and sentenced for white collar or drug offenses. Sorrentino and McFarlan are exceptions.

I highly doubt Cohen will have a problem with other inmates because he cooperated with Mueller. He'll have lots of company on that front. Also, he didn't get a cooperation reduction in the NY case for which he's going top jail. The government wrote in its sentencing brief: [More...]

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Thursday :: May 02, 2019

Thursday Open Thread

Sometimes it's good just to sleep, read and think about other things rather than dwell on all that's going down the drain under the present toxic administration.

ISIS Leader al Baghadadi has stepped out for the first time in five years. He's gotten a makeover -- instead of looking like a religious figure, he now looks like a military commander. His message appears designed to let us all know he's alive and although conceding ISIS has lost its physical territory (and the state it was creating as a Caliphate), and they got badly trounced at their last battle in Baghdouz, ISIS is regrouping as a global insurgency right now (no need to conquer big swaths of land and instill governing forces like before). He praised the Sri Lanka bombings and mentioned factions in Mali and Africa that had recently aligned with ISIS. He also mentioned new groups joining with them in Khorassan. Probably his most telling line was that Allah commanded them to make jihad, but did not command they acheive victory. In other words, he's telling his supporters to be prepared to die, as they will fight until the resurrection. [More...]

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