Thursday :: July 02, 2020

Ghislaine Maxwell Arrested for NY Indictment

I did not expect this today. Ghislaine Maxwell, former paramour and business associate of Jeffrey Epstein, has been arrested in New Hampshire where she has been temporarily residing, to face charges stemming from her relationship with Epstein.

Maxwell faces charges that include transporting a minor for the purposes of criminal sexual activity and conspiring to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, according to a six-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed earlier in the day.

The Indictment is here. The Government is asking she be held without bond. "In short, Maxwell has three passports, large sums of money, extensive international connections, and absolutely no reason to stay in the United States and face the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence." (From its detention motion"

But what about her immunity agreement? None of the other recruiters Epstein employed who were granted immunity as part of his plea deal have been charged. For example, according to the NY Times, Sarah Kellen (now Sarah Vickers) was "right under" Ghislaine. If I recall correctly, the immunity provision in Epstein's plea agreement only covered the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Florida. Also, I wonder if Ghislaine has standing to raise immunity conferred by someone else's plea agreement once he's dead? [More...]

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Monday :: June 29, 2020

Supreme Court Lets Feds Resume Executions

The Supreme Court today let stand a ruling on the death penalty, and as a result, executions may now resume (as Attorney General William Barr has promised they would.) The case is Bourgeois v. Barr, No. 19- 1348.

Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, of the Federal District Court in Washington, blocked the executions in November, saying the protocol the government planned to use did not comply with the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, which requires executions to be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed.”

The central legal question in the case is whether the word “manner” in the 1994 law refers to the methods of execution authorized by the relevant states (like hanging, firing squad or lethal injection) or the protocols the states require (like the particular chemicals used in lethal injections, whether a doctor must be present or how a catheter is to be inserted).

The Court's unsigned order today states: [More...]

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Friday :: June 26, 2020

9k New Cases Today in Florida

TrumpVirus Update: Florida reached 9,000 new cases today, up from its 5,000 record a few days ago. It has ordered bars to close. Too little, too late, of course, just like Texas.

Unlike Birx who is thanking millenials for getting tested, I have no nice words for them. Faucio agrees they are the culprit, but is too nice to criticize them.

Will the 65 + age group ever be able to safely leave their homes, return to work, go to dinner in outdoor parking lot or hug their grandkids? Looks more and more like the answer is "No". Forever shut-ins. Remember when Trump said, open the schools, let all the teachers, except those over 70, return? That will probably be the new normal for all jobs and professions. Your accountant (plumber, electrician, lawyer, shop owner, chef, etc) is too old to safely be in public? Just hire or patronize a younger one.

In the meantime, MASK UP AMERICA and stay home if you can.

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Friday Open Thread

Bob Dylan's new song, Murder Most Fowl, about the JFK assassination is really, really good. It's 16 minutes long and I listened to it twice in a row, the time flew.

Who is surprised that Jack Abramoff is headed back to prison for a new fraud crime? He's agreed to cooperate for a lesser sentence. (Documents here) [More...]

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Mike Pence's Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

Tuned in to hear Mike Pence tell us all to pray.

Dr. Deborah Birk: Praise be due the millenials, who have come out for testing.

"We know know" who is most at risk: the elderly. (We knew that many moons ago.)

"We know who is dying": (We've always known that).

"We know" people on respirators will respond well to steroids.

A slide is playing on the right from NBC reminding us there are 125,0000 deaths.

We are most concerned about states with rising test positives and rising numbers of cases. She names them. [More...]

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Thursday :: June 25, 2020

COVID-19 Rates Soar, Feds Have No Plan

The news headlines are astonishing. Wednesday brought the highest number of new cases of coronavirus to date.

Across the United States, 38,115 new infections were reported by state health departments on Wednesday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 34,203 set on April 25. Texas, Florida and California led the way, with all three states reporting more than 5,000 new cases apiece.

Three states — California, Florida and Oklahoma — reported record highs in new single-day coronavirus cases, while hospitalizations hit a new peak in Arizona, where intensive care units have quickly filled.

Yet Mike Pence told a group of Republicans at lunch to "accentuate the positive". [More...]

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Sunday :: June 21, 2020

Happy Father's Day Open Thread

To all you Dads out there, I hope you have a wonderful day. If your Dad is still alive, don't forget to call him if he can get calls. If he's in jail or prison, send a card, welcome his collect call, and try to make his day a little brighter.

2.7 million children in the United States have a parent incarcerated.

[N]early twice as many black children (11.5 percent) have had a parent who lived with them go to jail or prison compared to white children (6 percent). And a child living in poverty is three times more likely (12.5 percent) to have experienced parental incarceration than a child whose household income is at least twice the federal poverty level (3.9 percent) (Murphey and Cooper 2015).

Seventeen years ago here on TalkLeft, I wrote about one specific child of the incarcerated --Chesa Boudin, the son of former Weatherground member Kathy Boudin. He had written an article for Salon in 2001, "I am the Son of Inmate 83A6158." He graduated from Yale and became a Rhodes scholar.

Where is Chesa today? First, he became a state public defender. In November, he ran for District Attorney of San Francisco, and won. He was sworn in in January.


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Saturday :: June 20, 2020

CO Gov Jared Polis Signs Police Reform Bill

Thank you Governor Jared Polis for signing the much needed police reform bill SB20-217 into law.

[I]t includes sweeping changes sought for years by many lawmakers of color. It bans the fleeing felon rule, bans carotid and choke holds, gets rid of qualified immunity [in state lawsuits] for officers who acted unlawfully, requires law enforcement agencies put new use-of-force rules in effect by Sept. 1, requires all officers that interact with the public wear body or dash cameras by 2023, requires body camera video to be released within 45 days in excessive force cases, includes ... a duty for officers to intervene if another is using excessive force, and more.

This is a very sweeping bill that covers a lot of territory. It is available here.

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Thursday :: June 18, 2020

Supreme Court Provides a Respite for DREAMERS

The Supreme Court today invalidated Donald Trump's order ending President Obama's DACA program for DREAMERS, which provided a two year haven from deportation for children who came to this country without proper papers and met certain criteria. The program did not create a "path to citizenship". However, for the more than 700,000 who enrolled, the two year respite from deportation was renewable.

The Court did not rule on whether the program was lawful or not. It merely held that Trump's order was procedurally invalid because it did not provide enough of a reason for ending DACA. The opinion is here.

We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the four liberal justices to hold that Trump's explanation at the time was inadequate. He's free to try again, but since any grounds he gives will be challenged through the courts, the final resolution will likely be after the November election, so DREAMERS can breathe a sigh of relief today.

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Sunday :: June 14, 2020

Donald Trump Turns 74 Amid New Questions About His Neurological State

In early 2018, when Donald Trump had trouble bringing a water glass to his lips during a cmpaign rally and also had difficulty expressing his thoughts in cohesive sentences during media interviews, the Atlantic was one of many media outlets raising the issue of his potential neurological decline and lamenting the the lack of any testing requirement for presidential candidates or a president by which the country could be alerted to significant mental impairment.

Is something neurologically wrong with Donald Trump? It is best not to diagnose the president from afar, which is why the federal government needs a system to evaluate him up close.

We still don't have such a system.

Trump's neurological state was also a topic of discussion on Memorial Day when he seemed to sway at Arlington Cemetary and had difficulty raising his arm high enough to lift a wreath.

But yesterday, at West Point, the issue generated a state of frenzy in social media, with the hashtag #DonaldTrumpWearsAdultDiapers trending. [More...]

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Thursday :: June 11, 2020

Thursday Night Open Thread

I have no idea where this week went but it's almost over.

What happens now that the protests are winding down?
If raising awareness of racism in this country was the goal, they certainly succeeded. If a change in police culture is what they are after, that's going to take a little longer.

Is there a police brutality database where identifying details of offending officers are publicized? The police didn't take well to the idea of "Who's a Rat" (one naming informants) but they have no problem with posting mug shots of those busted for prost*itution.

Back in 2019, USA Today published a database of 85,000 police officers charged with misconduct, including case documents. The searchable database is here. Maybe it should be updated. And limited to cases in which discipline was imposed, so as not to infringe on the most bedrock principle of our criminal justice system which is the presumption of innocence.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: June 10, 2020

COVID-19 in U.S. Passes 2 Million

There are now more than 2 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. More than 112,000 people have died - the highest number among all the countries in the world.

Coronavirus rates are rising in 21 states. I think this was entirely predictable given the early reopening of many states, and the refusal of so many people to continue to practice safe-distancing.

Unfortunately, Washington has moved on to other topics.

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Thursday :: June 04, 2020

Thursday Open Thread

I hope everyone here is staying safe and healthy, and still wearing a mask in public.

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

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Wednesday :: June 03, 2020

Floyd: Charges Expanded, Obama to Speak

MN Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that three additional police officers present at the scene of George Floyd's death who witnessed Derek Chauvin's attack on Floyd have been charged with aiding and abetting Chavin. Chauvin's charges were upgraded to second degree murder and second degree manslaughter.

These are state, not federal charges. The officers are Thomas Lane, Alexander Keung and Tou Thau. Lane is already in custody, police are in the process of arresting the other two.

Obama is speaking now. You can watch here. He says the events of the last few weeks have given us a chance for change. He's excited about all the young people coming out. He feels optimistic -- like this country is going to get better. [More...]

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Tuesday :: June 02, 2020

Joe Biden Starts His Comeback Tour

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, has resumed his campaign appearances. Today he made a speech in Philadelphia on the crisis facing America and Donald Trump's unacceptable and inadequate response.

“Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears,” Mr. Biden said, speaking against a backdrop of American flags at Philadelphia’s City Hall. “Is this who we want to be? Is this what we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren? Fear, anger, finger pointing, rather than the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety, self-absorption, selfishness?”

The country, Mr. Biden said, is “crying out for leadership.”

Indeed we are. But the country is also crying out for an end to police brutality, for equal justice and for the implementation of change now (not in January, 2021 or during the next four years of the next president's administration) that provides persons of color and the impovrished with equal economic opportunities.

I have my doubts that the man who spent 30 years in Congress passing some of the most draconian and oppressive criminal justice legislation of the century, which to this day results in arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement against minorities, is the right one to lead us out of the cess-pool Donald Trump has dumped us in.

I think Democrats need an angel to step in. Joe Biden's legislative record on crime alone warrants him giving serious consideration to withdrawing from the race. Why should we have to choose between bad and worst?

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