Tuesday :: September 26, 2017

The Donald Trump Transcripts From Howard Stern

For those who don't mind stepping into a pile of varmint, here are the transcripts of the Howard Stern interviews with Donald Trump. I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole. Not only don't I care, I won't waste my time. We all knew what he was during the campaign. If Americans were too steeped in Hillary-hatred to care then, it won't make a bit of difference now.

A much more productive way to spend your time: It's 15 minutes until Senor de Los Cielos starts. I hope they don't kill Monica Robles tonight. It's on Telemundo, with English subtitles, 9pm and again at midnight. Comcast's English captions for the show this season have been so awful I started watching via my indoor antenna last week. The captions, which come through my Sony TV rather than Comcast that way, are complete and accurate, so it's not the show's fault, it's Comcast's.

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DEA Chief is Latest to Resign From Trump Administration

Acting DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg is resigning. He has been at odds with Trump several times.

Law enforcement officials told the NY Times Rosenberg became convinced Trump had little respect for the law.

Mr. Rosenberg, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2015, is a career prosecutor. Under President George W. Bush, he served as the United States attorney in both southern Texas and eastern Virginia.

Rosenberg and the DEA have also disagreed with DOJ and Trump's insistence on going after the MS-13. [More...]

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Trump Blasted for Delayed Response to Aid for Puerto Rico

Donald Trump announced today he will visit Puerto Rico next week. As he always does, he exaggerated the U.S. response to date and said, "We're doing a great job."

A "great job"? That is as wrong and as tone-deaf as George Bush saying in 2005 to FEMA Chief Michael Brown, ""Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job". Puerto Rico may well become Donald Trump's Katrina.

The reality is the U.S. response has been slow and inadequate to address the growing humanitarian crisis on the island. [More...]

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Republicans Cave on Health Care Bill

Republicans announced today they are giving up on their health care bill. They don't have the votes.

Another failure for Donald Trump. Another bullet dodged by the American people.

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Monday :: September 25, 2017

CAGE Director Convicted of Terror Offense for Refusing to Provide Pin

Muhammad Rabbani, the Director of CAGE has been convicted in the UK of a terrorism offense for refusing to provide the pin number to cell phone and password to his laptop during a search at Heathrow Airport. He was returning from a wedding in Syria.

He was convicted at Westminster Magistrates' Court of one count of wilfully obstructing a stop-and-search under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act.

... Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act gives officers their right to stop and search people "with or without suspicion".

He was given a conditional discharge and fined. [More...]

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Trump Revises Travel Ban, Sup. Ct Cancels Arguments

The Supreme Court has canceled oral arguments set for October 10 on Donald Trump's initial travel ban.

In an order issued Monday, the justices asked for new briefs about whether the third rendition of the travel ban means there is nothing left for the court to decide. The briefs are due Oct. 5 and the court said for now it is removing from its oral argument calendar a hearing scheduled for Oct. 10.

The New York Times says:

By canceling the arguments for now, the court signaled that it may never decide the case. “The cases are removed from the oral argument calendar, pending further order of the court,” the court said.

Yesterday, Donald Trump issued an executive proclamation revising and expanding his travel ban. You can read it here. [More...]

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Anthony Weiner Sentenced to 21 Months

Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in his sexting case.

He pleaded guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Government, to a one-count Information, charging him with transferring obscene material to a minor from January through March 2016, in violation of 18 USC 1470. The statute prohibits “knowingly transfer{ing] obscene matter to another individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, knowing that such other individual has not attained the age of 16 years, or attempt[ing] to do so.”

His guideline range would have been 135 to 168 months but the statutory maximum for the crime he pleaded to was 10 years, so that made his guideline range 120 months. The Government and Weiner agreed that a sentence within the range of 21 to 27 months’ imprisonment would be fair, but Weiner was allowed to argue for a lesser sentence, including probation.

According to the Government's brief, Probation had recommended 27 months. So he got the bottom of the agreed upon range. He will voluntarily surrender to whatever facility or institution is designated by the Bureau of Prisons on November 2.

The Government said in its brief that it does not contend that Weiner engaged in inappropriate exchanges with other minors "or that he is a pedophile."[More...]

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Thursday :: September 21, 2017

D.C. Appeals Court Rules Sting-Ray Devices Unconstitutional

The D.C. Court of Appeals has overturned the convictions of a man named Prince Jones because the police employed a "sting ray" (cell-site simulator) device without a warrant. The opinion is here.

We agree with Mr. Jones that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it deployed the cell-site simulator against him without first obtaining a warrant based on probable cause. Further, we reverse the trial court‘s inevitable-discovery ruling and reject the government‘s argument (not resolved by the trial court) that the good-faith doctrine precludes applying the exclusionary rule in this case. Because the admission at trial of the evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful search was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we reverse Mr. Jones‘s convictions.

The ACLU and EFF wrote amicus briefs for defendant Prince. As I've written before, stingrays are particularly intrusive because they capture data from all phones in the area they are searching, not just the suspect's phone: [More...]

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Insurers Balk at Republican Health Care Plan

Does anyone not hate the proposed Republican health care bill? Major insurance companies joined the opposition to the bill today.

The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill. They joined other groups fighting the bill, such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP and the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.

“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions,’’ said Scott P. Serota, the president and chief executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.”


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Wednesday :: September 20, 2017

Happy Rosh Hashanah and Open Thread

Today is the beginning of the High Holy Days for those of the Jewish faith. The ten day period begins tonight at sundown with Rosh Hashanah (the new year), and ends in 10 days with Yom Kippur (day of atonement).

The customary greeting is "L’Shanah tovah." ("May you have a good year.") But, there are some others:

On Rosh Hashanah it is written… On Yom Kippur it is sealed. May it be written and may it be sealed that you have a new year that brings fulfillment and happiness, peace and prosperity – all of life’s very best things. Have a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Literally, the words Rosh Hashanah mean "the head of the year." [more...]

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Puerto Rico Slammed by Maria, Electricity Gone

Hurricane Maria did not spare Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria churned across Puerto Rico Wednesday as the most powerful storm to strike the island in more than 80 years, knocking out power and water to nearly the entire population and leaving people huddled in buildings to ride out powerhouse winds that have already left death and devastation across the Caribbean.

"On the forecast track, [Maria] would be the most destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico history," tweeted Eric Blake, a forecaster at the Hurricane Center.

The island is completely without electricity now. The New York Times has more.

There are flash flood warnings now for large parts of Puerto Rico. [More...]

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Earthquake in Mexico City, More Than 200 Killed

More than 200 bodies have been pulled from the rubble of Mexico City. The photos and videos from Spanish station news last night were horrifying. A school collapsed with children inside.

“There are around 600 children at the school,” said Elena Villaseñor, 44, a neighbor who was managing the notices. “We don’t know how many children are still inside. They were in classes. The school was full.”


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Tuesday :: September 19, 2017

Hurricane Maria Devastates Dominica

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica causing widespread devastation.

The Caribbean island nation of Dominica sustained “mind boggling” damage from Hurricane Maria, its prime minister said Tuesday, after the storm hit with maximum sustained winds of nearly 160 miles per hour that ripped roofs off buildings, including his own home.

The storm has regained Category 5 strength and appears to be headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

(Thanks to commenters for correcting me that Dominica is not the Dominican Republic. I've changed it.)

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Donald Trump and the Temple of Doom

Donald Trump's speech at the U.N.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

The U.S. does have one problem, and its name is Donald Trump. Until his time is the oval office has come to an end, the U.S. will not be the beacon of liberty it has been for centuries.

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Don, Jr. Reportedly Wants to End Secret Service Protection

The Washington Post reports Donald Trump, Jr reportedly wants to give up his secret protection service -- he wants more privacy. It's unclear whether he is also asking that protection be ended for his wife and five children.

Why the children?

Rich Staropoli, a former member of the Trump administration and former Secret Service agent, said one frustration has been that the Secret Service has been sending a rotating set of temporary agents to staff the details of Trump Jr.’s young children.

“Every few weeks they get new people,” Staropoli said. “There are all these new people coming and going. The kids don’t like that. They can’t get comfortable with someone they don’t know.”

Why do they have to be "comfortable" with them? Secret Service agents aren't members of the family or babysitters, they are hired guards. On the other hand, I think he's right to be angry that this happened: [More...]

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