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Saturday :: October 11, 2014

NY Doubles Down on "El Chapo" Guzman

Some things I missed while focusing on ISIS the past few weeks: DOJ filed a huge Superseding Indictment against El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman Loera) and Ismael Zambada Garcia in a 2009 case in the Eastern District of New York. You can read it here. The two Sinaloa chiefs are now charged more than 20 murders of police officials and members of the Carillo Fuentes, Arellano-Felix and Zetas cartels; more than 170 drug counts ranging from 2003 to 2014, involving 465,000 kilograms of Cocaine, importation, drug offenses involving pot, heroin and meth, money laundering, use of firearms during the crimes and attempted murder. The Government is seeking to forfeit $14 billion in profits.

Why is the Government loading up on El Chapo, who remains in custody in Mexico and is unlikely to be extradited anytime soon? Or Zambada-Garcia who also has other pending indictments, in Illinois and the District of Colombia? It's not seeking the death penalty(Mexico won't extradite anyone where the death penalty is on the table and the last page of the indictment says no death penalty is sought). [More...]

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Saturday Morning Open Thread

Staying up all night is for the young. I finished my project at 6 am and am just now getting to sleep (5am.) I'lll be back this afternoon. In the meantime, since our last thread is full, here's a new open thread, all topics welcome. I hope I don't get a really big number to pay when my acct. hands me the return. I might just go hide under the bed if that happens.

Hope your weekend is more relaxing than mine.

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Friday :: October 10, 2014

Obama's New Plan to Close Guantanamo


The Wall St Journal (free link) reports President Obama is planning on closing Guantanamo through various executive actions, if necessary, to get around Congress' restrictions on detainee transfers.

Of the 149 who remain, 79 have been approved for transfer by national-security officials but remain because of political or diplomatic obstacles in repatriating them.

[More....]

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Thursday :: October 09, 2014

Thursday Night Open Thread: "Tax Man" Time

October 15, the deadline for filing last year's tax returns, is right around the corner. My accountant's deadline was today, but I'm not done, so he has graciously given me until tomorrow morning to get everything to him. I will be buried in paper until the wee hours, with no time to read the news or blog.

For those of you smart enough to have filed on April 15, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Azamat Tazhayakov Testifies Against Robel Phillipos

Hoping to get a lower sentence when he is sentenced for obstruction of justice, Azamat Tazhayakov testified against his friend Robel Philippos yesterday. Phillipos is charged with making false statements to the FBI. Initially, the FBI says, he lied about being in the dorm room. Then it claims he lied about the actions of his two friends, Azamat and Dias Kadyrbayev, who were present in the dorm room, with respect to what he saw and heard later at their apartment. Tsarnaev had already been named a suspect at the time, and his photo had been released to the media. Twitter has more coverage from reporters who were live-tweeting from the courtroom. They don't seem to have used a uniform hashtag -- a search within Twitter for Robel brings most of them up.

Phillipos defense is he was so stoned on pot he didn't remember events well enough to accurately recount them. Azamat, convicted in July, testified Phillipos didn't seem all that stoned. He did confirm that Robel had smoked pot several times that night and the next morning.

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Wednesday :: October 08, 2014

Wednesday Open Thread

I'll be in court today. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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As Kobane Falls to ISIS, No Ground Troops From Turkey

Turkey has the second biggest army in Nato. If it wanted to take out ISIS, it could, without any help from anyone else.

Turkey has not sent ground troops to Syria to fight ISIS, and probably won't enter Syria, unless ISIS attacks its special monument.

The U.S. (hopefully) will continue to reject the the use of ground force against ISIS in Syria.

The end result, according to news headlines, is that it would be a travesty if Kobane falls to ISIS. Perhaps to Turkey, where the Kurds and Turks might return to fighting each other. But not to us. And if it would be a travesty for Turkey and the Kurds, why aren't Turkey and other countries in the region offering ground troops to prevent it?

[More]

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Tuesday :: October 07, 2014

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

I haven't written anything about ebola yet because I don't know anything about it. Since there are a lot of comments about it, here's an open thread to discuss it. All other topics are welcome too.

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Monday :: October 06, 2014

Abu Wahib: Dead or Alive?

Abu Wahib, as I've written before, is the most recognizable, telegenic and frightening looking ISIS fighter. He is the military commander for the Anbar province in Iraq. He has falsely been declared dead several times, including within the past year.

Yesterday, there were reports by pro-Kurdish tweeters saying he had been killed in Kobane. Others said he was killed in Ramadi.

[More...]

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Tsarnaev Friend's Trial Opens with Stoner Defense

Opening arguments began today in the trial of Robel Phillipos, the third friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to be charged with a crime related to the removal of items from Tsarnaev's dorm room after Tsarnaev was identified as a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

He is charged with making false statements to the FBI. His defense: He was "stoned out of his mind."

Friend Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty of obstruction of justice at a trial in July; Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty to obstruction in August. Neither have been sentenced yet. A fourth friend, Steven Silva, is awaiting trial on gun charges.

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More Road Closures for Joe Biden

I wonder if Joe Biden got any message from the complaints of his visit to Aspen. Today, freeways and other roads are closing in LA because he's attending private fundraisers.

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Sunday :: October 05, 2014

Sunday Night Open Thread: Homeland's Back

The new season of Homeland begins now with a 1 hour and 45 minute episode.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Joe Biden and his Apology to Turkey

Thanksgiving comes early for perennial gaffer Joe Biden. He has now apologized to the President of Turkey for his recent remarks that Turkey facilitated the growth of ISIS. Biden, speaking at an event, said:

"President Erdogan told me, he's an old friend, said, 'You were right. We let too many people through.' Now they are trying to seal their border,"

Turkish President Erdogan said Biden misquoted him and demanded an apology. Biden dutifully coughed one up. [More...]

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Affleck vs. Maher on the Islam Religion

Will the real liberal please stand up? An interesting and heated verbal battle between actor Ben Affleck and talk show host Bill Maher over Islam as a religion on Maher's show. Also chiming in: Nicholas Kristof, Michael Steele, and author Sam Harris.

My take: Maher and Harris should stay seated. They come off as total Islamophobes. Steele, the former chair of the Republican party expressed more progressive views than the two of them.

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Saturday :: October 04, 2014

The Kurdish Base Guards in Kobane: Were They Drunk?

On October 1 and 2, 2014, ISIS attacked the Kurds at the south border entrance to Kobane, also called Ain al Arab. There are several buildings manned by Kurdish guards who fled. The empty station is littered with liquor bottles. (None of the following videos contain graphic images or dead bodies.)

The attack by ISIS is in this video. The fighters appear to be Chechen, and for a few seconds, starting at 1 min 04 sec in, I think you can see ISIS military commander Omar al Shishani, as he talks into a radio and barks commands, which the others then repeat and relay to the other fighters.[More...]

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