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Sunday :: March 30, 2014

March Madness! Elite 8, Day 2

My picks: Connecticut +6½ over Michigan State, Kentucky -2 over Michigan.

Open Thread.

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Saturday :: March 29, 2014

March Madness! Elite 8, Day 1

My picks: Dayton +10 over Florida, Arizona -2½ over Wisconsin.

Go Gators!

Open Thread.

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Tsarnaev Defense Seeks Discovery on FBI Visits to Tamerlan

Defense lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev filed a 23 page motion for discovery Friday. You can read it here.

The motion, which seeks a lot of information about Tamerlan and the family's history, is an attempt to get the Government to turn over documents that could be used as mitigation evidence in the death penalty phase to show Dzhokhar fell under the spell of his over-powering brother. The defense says it is asking for:

...any evidence tending to show that Tamerlan (Tsarnaev) supplied the motivation, planning, and ideology behind the Boston Marathon attack, and that his young brother acted under his domination and control … .”

The motion doesn't claim the FBI tried to get Tamerlan to be an informant. It says it has information from its interviews of family members that the FBI met with Tamerlan before his trip to Russia on more than one occasion and that the family said the FBI tried to get Tamerlan to be an informant. It's trying to find out if the the Government is in possession of information that supports the family's statements. [More...]

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Friday :: March 28, 2014

March Madness! Sweet Sixteen, Night 2

My picks: Connecticut +2 over Iowa State, Louisville -4 over Kentucky, Michigan -3 over Tennessee, Michigan State -2 over Virginia.

Open Thread.

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Thursday :: March 27, 2014

March Madness! Sweet Sixteen, Night 1

My picks: UCLA +5 over Florida, Arizona -7½ over San Diego State, Dayton +3 over Stanford, Baylor +3½ over Wisconsin.

Go Gators!

Open thread, sort of.

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Thursday Morning Open Thread

I'm scared to death:

UCLA is on fire right now. The Bruins have beaten five NCAA tournament teams in their last five games, two of which are in the Sweet 16 (Arizona and Stanford). Florida has been great all season and the Gators have also recently beaten two Sweet 16 teams (Kentucky and Tennessee). But anybody who saw the three-game stretch of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Albany knows the Gators are far from the dominant force you’d expect a no. 1 overall seed to be.

Florida’s bread-and-butter is its defense, but UCLA’s offense has the weapons to defeat it. Anderson is a real problem, and Florida will be forced to work hard to neutralize him. Anderson alone might not be enough to top the Gators, but when you add Adams’s 17.4 points per game, Powell’s 11.5 points per game, and the versatility of the Wear twins, the Gators will have their hands full. If the Bruins can find success against Florida’s defense, they’ll force a Gator team that is susceptible to scoring droughts to keep up with them, and there’s no telling how that might turn out.Maybe UCLA doesn’t pull out the win, but the signs point to this being a great game, and the Bruins could be a bounce or two away from ending Florida’s 28-game winning streak[.]

That seems a fair assessment. Open Thread.

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Wednesday :: March 26, 2014

Wednesday Afternoon Open thread

I'm really nervous about the Gators tomorrow. UCLA has a great offense.

Open Thread.

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Hobby Lobby: does RFRA violate the Establishment Clause?

In the 1997 case Boerne v. Flores, where the Supreme Court decided that the Religious Restoration and Freedom Act exceeded the Congres' Section 5 enforcement power as applied to the states, Justice John Paul Stevens issued a little remarked concurrence in the result. Justice Stevens wrote:

In my opinion, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) is a “law respecting an establishment of religion” that violates the First Amendment to the Constitution.

If the historic landmark on the hill in Boerne happened to be a museum or an art gallery owned by an atheist, it would not be eligible for an exemption from the city ordinances that forbid an enlargement of the structure. Because the landmark is owned by the Catholic Church, it is claimed that RFRA gives its owner a federal statutory entitlement to an exemption from a generally applicable, neutral civil law. Whether the Church would actually prevail under the statute or not, the statute has provided the Church with a legal weapon that no atheist or agnostic can obtain. This governmental preference for religion, as opposed to irreligion, is forbidden by the First Amendment. Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 52—55 (1985).

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Tuesday :: March 25, 2014

Obama to Propose Legislation Ending NSA Bulk Records Collection

President Obama will introduce legislation to end the NSA's warrantless collection of bulk telephone records. Authority for the NSA's program expires Friday, unless renewed by the FISA Intelligence Court. According to senior administration officials:

Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order.

[More...]

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Monday :: March 24, 2014

Colo. Sup. Ct. Loosens Restrictions on Lawyers Helping Pot Businesses

The Colorado Supreme Court issued a new rule for lawyers today. Lawyers will be allowed to represent marijuana businesses, so long as the lawyers don't help clients break state law. Via the Denver Post:

The new rule gives lawyers the go-ahead to work with marijuana businesses — even though those businesses are breaking federal law — so long as the lawyers don't help businesses also break state law.

The new rule is here. Some background on why it was needed is here. [More...]

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Monday Night Open Thread

End of a long day. While I catch up on the news, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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"The Good Wife": How Not to Handle a Major Character's Departure

The creators of "The Good Wife" decided that the best way to handle Will Gardner's decision to leave the show was to have him killed by a client at the courthouse. Here's their explanation. Poor choice.

Even worse, now the show will bring back Michael J. Fox, in his role as a sleazy lawyer, and Stockard Channing, as Alicia's irrelevant mother. And judging from the preview for next week, Alicia and Peter will recreate The Taming of the Shrew.

The show has been off its game most of this season. The "new firm" storyline went nowhere, they turned Eli Gold into a neurotic mess and they neutered Galinda by pairing her with milk-toast Carey. The new characters, like the ethics lady, and Will's yoga teacher girlfriend, were one-dimensional and embarrassingly demeaning. The only thing we were spared (for the most part) this season were Alicia's unappealing teenage kids. [More...]

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Sunday :: March 23, 2014

Hillary Clinton Still Undecided About Running

Hillary Clinton told Jimmy Kimmel Saturday at a Global Initiative event in Arizona that she is still undecided about running for President.

" I’m obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions."

The "selfie" with Bill, Hillary, Chelsea and Jimmy is very cute.

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March Madness! Day 4

Today's picks: Memphis +6 over Virginia, Arizona -6½ over Gonzaga, Kansas -6 over Stanford, North Carolina +1½ over Iowa State, Baylor +3½ over Creighton, Kentucky +4½ over Wichita State, Tennessee -7 over Mercer, Stephen Austin +9 over UCLA.

Open Thread.

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Saturday :: March 22, 2014

March Madness! Day 3

My picks:

Wisconsin -5 over Oregon, Michigan State -7½ over Harvard, Villanova -3½ over Connecticut, Syracuse -7 over Dayton, Louisville -9 over St Louis, Pittsburgh +6½ over Florida, Texas +5 over Michigan San Diego State -3 over North Dakota State.

Go Gators!

Open Thread.

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