Friday :: January 06, 2017

Friday Open Thread

I've been in court hearings this week so I'm behind on the news. Mr. UnPresident Elect is asking Congress to pay for his border wall (claiming he'll get the money back from Mexico.)

He gets his Russia intelligence briefing today but prefers to tweet about Arnold's lower ratings for Celebrity Apprentice. (The reason the ratings are lower in my view is not that he's more popular than Arnold -- just the opposite-- fewer people are watching now as people are boycotting the show because of Trump, knowing he remains on the credits. (Also it faces much stiffer competition from the Bachelor. Was Trump's Apprentice ever on the same night as the Bachelor? )

The U.S. has added Osama bin Laden's son, Hamza bin Laden to the designated terror list.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: January 04, 2017

1,100 Law Profs Write Letter Opposing Jeff Sessions for AG

1,100 law professors have signed a letter to Congress urging that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) not be confirmed as Attorney General. The letter is here.

In my view, Jeff Sessions has always been a disaster for criminal justice. (The NY Times declared him an "insult to justice" after Trump picked him.)

On a related note, UnPresident-Elect Donald Trump, who has no say in the matter yet, yesterday opposed the release of more detainees from Guantanamo. President Obama, meanwhile, is pressing ahead with plans to release another 19 detainees.

“There is one commander in chief at a time, and the secretary of defense will continue to carry out his responsibilities as he sees appropriate,” said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook.


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China Gets a New Media Network

For some reason, China has always been more interesting to me than Russia -- maybe because I've been there twice. In any event, while almost everyone is writing about Russia, a new media network has launched in China -- in English -- that I think is really good. It's called the China Global Television Network, or CGTN, and it launched New Years Day, replacing what was called CCTV.

CGTN will be a multi-language and multi-platform media grouping. It will consist of six TV channels, a video content provider and a digital media division.

China's President wishes them well:

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his congratulations during the opening ceremony held at the CGTN headquarters in Beijing on Saturday. Xi said that the relationship between China and the world is changing, adding that China needs to better understand the world, and the world needs to better understand China.

Here's more about who they are and their goals. I've been reading their news articles at their global site CGTN and at CGTN America and following two of their Twitter feeds (CGTN_America and CGTN )since New Year's. Their articles are well-written (and news and commentary are very distinct), their photos are terrific, and best of all, even though it's a a video network, there's no auto-play video. So far, the photos seem to link to text articles, not the video versions. It's easy to follow, well-organized, and the site is very uncluttered. It also loads quickly. [More...]

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Tuesday :: January 03, 2017

Charles Manson Hospitalized

Charles Manson, now 82, was taken to the hospital today from prison for undisclosed reasons. There are unconfirmed reports he suffers from some kind of gastro-intestinal issue. The prison says he is alive.

Manson's prison, Corcoran, has previously been found to have inadequate health care. The report is here. According to the spokeswoman for the Receiver for California Correctional Health Care Services:

The California State Prison, Corcoran, has medical facilities to treat inmates requiring urgent or emergency care as well as in-patient hospital stays.

“In general, inmates are sent to outside hospitals if they need surgical services, emergency care, or diagnostic services of an acute nature,” said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver who controls prison medical care. “These services are not provided in state prison facilities.”

California's medical rules for prisons are here.

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Sunday :: January 01, 2017

New Years Musical Hits and Fumbles

I didn't see any of last night's TV performances live, but judging from the videos and news reports, Gloria Estefan and the cast of On Your Feet (a Broadway musical about her and her husband Emilio Estefan) put on a terrific show, while Mariah Carey just imploded.

I especially liked Ektor Rivera's booming voice (see at 3'45" in) and Ana Villafañe, and the child dancers. Gloria still has her powerful voice, and they were obviously not lip-syncing.

So what happened to Mariah Carey? Here's the video. [More...]

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Saturday :: December 31, 2016

Terror Attack by "Santa" Clad Terrorist(s) in Istanbul

Update: New footage here. He wasn't wearing a Santa suit. The death toll is now at 39, most of whom were foreigners. The U.S. did not have intelligence about a specific threat, according to the U.S. Embassy in Turkey.

"Contrary to rumors circulating on social media, the U.S. Government had no information about threats to specific entertainment venues, including the Reina Club, and ‎the U.S. Government did not warn Americans to stay away from specific venues or neighborhoods," the embassy said in a statement.


The New Year began in Turkey with a terrorist attack at an exclusive night club called Reina. [More...]

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Happy New Years (For Real) and Open Thread

A very happy New Year to all of you, with our very best wishes for a year filled with good health, justice and peace!

Who's cooking? Is anyone staying in and watching TV?

Showtime has begun airing the first episode of Homeland Season 6 two weeks early -- Carrie is living in Brooklyn and Quinn is there too, although he's not in very good shape. The President is a woman, but supposedly a composite of candidates, not a Hillary clone. [More...]

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Feelings on The Last Day of a G-d Awful Year

It's the last day of a horrible year for America. Next year will be even worse.

What feelings should an incoming President invoke in us? My answer would be pride in our country, a sense of security, so that when we go to sleep at night we know the world will be there when we wake up, and feelings of trust that our nation's leader will steer the country along the right path, embracing principles of freedom, tolerance and opportunity for all, and act in ways that confirm to the world that the United States is a beacon of liberty, not authoritarianism.

What feeling does UnPresident Elect Donald Trump evoke? You can answer for yourself in comments.

My answer: The feeling I most associate with Donald Trump is the feeling I'd get when I was a kid the instant I realized I stepped in a pile of dogsh*t. Anytime I hear him or see him or think about him or his inexperienced, privileged children being given jobs as anything but pencil pushers in his Administration, I want to start scraping my shoes or take a shower to rinse them all away. [More...]

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Friday :: December 30, 2016

CT Supreme Court Reinstate's Michael Skakel's Conviction

The Supreme Court of Connecticut has reinstated Michael Skakel's murder conviction. The conviction had been overturned on a habeas petition, with the lower court finding Skakel's attorney rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed:

Because we conclude that the petitioner’s trial counsel rendered constitutionally adequate representation, we reverse the judgment of the habeas court and remand the case to that court with direction to render judgment denying the petition.

The Supreme Court said Skakel's attorney's representation was not deficient. Skakel served a decade in prison before being freed pending a new trial three years ago.

One justice dissented, and one justice partially agreed with the dissenting justice but in the end agreed with the majority that the conviction should stand.

The majority opinion is here. The dissenting opinion is here and the concurring opinion is here.

I'm sorry that Skakel's conviction will be reinstated, as I have never believed he is guilty of murdering Martha Moxley, but I also believe Mickey Sherman's representation was not ineffective. [More...]

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Thursday :: December 29, 2016

Obama Expels Alleged Russian Spies, Imposes Sanctions

President Obama today expelled 35 Russian alleged spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies for meddling in the 2016 Presidential election by hacking political groups.

The FBI and Homeland Security blame Russia both for hacking and meddling in the U.S. election. Here is the report by Homeland Security and the FBI on the Russian hacking

This Joint Analysis Report (JAR) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This document provides technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS) to compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities. The U.S. Government is referring to this malicious cyber activity by RIS as GRIZZLY STEPPE.

The Report confirms: [More]

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Wednesday :: December 28, 2016

R.I.P. Debbie Reynolds

Very sad. One day after Carrie Fisher died, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, had a stroke and died this afternoon at the hospital. She was 84.

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Wednesday Night TV Thread

The third most watched cable channel in the U.S. is HGTV. Only ESPN and Fox News have more viewers. It even beats CNN.

Why? Apparently, the HGTV shows are happy shows, that allow people to escape the real world. And that's what viewers (including me) want.

The escapist appeal of looking at other people’s beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN. Riding HGTV’s reality shows, parent company Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. has seen its shares rise more than 30 percent this year, outperforming bigger rivals like Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Viacom Inc.


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Tuesday :: December 27, 2016

RIP Carrie Fisher and George Michael and Open Thread

Carrie Fisher has died. George Michael died on Christmas day in London. Both deaths are heart-related.

News that makes you want to take another shower: The UnPresident Elect has named his family's lawyer of 20 years to the position of "special representative for international negotiations." He is expected to focus on Israel and Palestine.

As the president’s special representative, Mr. Greenblatt is likely to focus on peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, renegotiating trade agreements and the relationship between the United States and Cuba, among other international issues.

His experience for the position:

“He has a history of negotiating substantial, complex transactions on my behalf, as well as the expertise to bring parties together and build consensus on difficult and sensitive topics,” Mr. Trump said.


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Saturday :: December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Open Thread

This is probably the most Un-Merry Christmas I can recall in 14 years of blogging. I'm studiously avoiding news of the UnPresident-Elect and his family so he can't rob us of any more joy than necessary over this supposed holiday season.

I am not going to report on the UnPresident Elect over the holidays, he's not the President yet, nothing he does has any significance, and the only thing I feel like doing after I read or hear his name is taking a shower. [More...]

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Wednesday :: December 21, 2016

Wednesday Open Thread

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

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