Monday :: April 03, 2017

Death Toll Climbs From Colombian Mudslides

More than 250 people, including at least 60 children, have been killed by the huge mudslides in Mocoa, Colombia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has been in Moca since yesterday, and he's tweeting continuous updates. The heads of dozens of countries have expressed their condolences to the people of Colombia. Many have offered aid, including China. One country prominently missing from Santos' twitter feed: the United States. Where's Donald Trump?

What does the State Department have to say about Colombia in its website and Twitter pages? Nothing so far. [More..]

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Sunday :: April 02, 2017

Ecuador Elections: Leftist Candidate Lenin Moreno Wins

Julian Assange is happy tonight. Leftist candidate Lenin Moreno has been declared the winner in Ecuador's presidential election. Moreno defeated right-wing ex-banker Guillermo Lasso. Earlier Sunday, dueling exit polls had each of them winning.

Here is Moreno's Twitter account.

Lasso sounds like a Trump clone. [More...]

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Saturday :: April 01, 2017

Saturday Night Open Thread

I've been completely uninterested in writing about Donald Trump this week. He just sucks the positive energy out of everything. The reality may be that our country is now being run by a family of three blind mice, with no relevant experience, and their under-informed, uber-wealthy and in several instances, seemingly ethically-challenged advisers, but it doesn't mean I have to pay attention. I'm content to point out when he makes a global laughing stock of himself and exposes his lack of insight and preparedness to preside over anything other than a golf ball.[More...]

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Thursday :: March 30, 2017

Convicted Bridgegate Defendants Sentenced to Prison

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie re-emerged on the national stage yesterday as part of Trump's new heroin task force, his former aide, Bridget Kelley, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for her part in Bridgegate.

A former top official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former member of Gov. Christopher J. Christie’s senior staff were sentenced today to prison terms for their roles in a scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, by misusing Port Authority resources to cause traffic problems in the borough, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

William E. Baroni Jr., 45, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Bridget Anne Kelly, 44, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Christie, to 18 months. On Nov. 4, 2016, Baroni and Kelly were each convicted following a six-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton on all seven counts with which they had been charged in an indictment returned May 1, 2015, by a federal grand jury. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.


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Wednesday :: March 29, 2017

U.S. to Pay $1 Million for Border Agents' Role in Violent Death of Undocumented Man

U.S. Border Patrol agents viciously beat Anastacio Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant, to death with batons and tasers. It was filmed by passers-by, and even though the agents tried to grab the cameras, one got by them. The U.S. will now pay Mr. Hernandez's family $1 million.

The United States settled a lawsuit with Hernandez’s estate last month, agreeing to dole out $1 million to his five children and his common-law wife, Maria Puga. The battle could have dragged on for years longer in court, the family’s attorney said, but they were worried President Trump could make Hernandez’s death a political issue amid efforts to beef up border security.

Still, none of the agents involved have been fired or disciplined or “lost a dime of pay,” for a beating that broke five of Hernandez’s ribs, damaged his spine and ultimately killed him, according to Eugene Iredale, the family’s attorney, who claims the immigrant was handcuffed as he was beaten.

“In 90 minutes, this case exemplifies the range of deficiency and misconduct that typifies the action of law enforcement that handles immigration enforcement,” Iredale told The Washington Post. “These agents are doing this in front of G-d and the world.”

Here is the Justice Department press release from 2015 with a bizarrely different version of the facts explaining why the officers aren't being charged. Here's what the other groups found: [More...]

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Trump's Border Wall Funding in Trouble

Donald Trump was wrong when he promised America that Mexico would pay for his border wall. Then he said the U.S. would pay for it. He submitted a budget to Congress. Republicans say they probably will leave it out of the final 2017 budget. They said it's better taken up as a supplemental stand-alone bill due to the opposition to it.

Senator Roy Blunt said cash for the wall would be left out of a spending bill that must pass by 28 April to avert a partial government shutdown.

His remarks came on Tuesday after Mr Trump requested a supplemental funding bill to include money for the wall along with military programmes.


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Wednesday Open Thread

It's a jail day for me, open thread day for you.

All topics welcome.

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Pay Your Own Way Petition Close to 200k Votes

The Change.org petition to make Melania Trump pay her own security costs at Trump Tower until she moves to the White House has 198,000 votes.

“The U.S. taxpayer is paying an exorbitant amount of money to protect the First Lady in Trump Tower, located in New York City,” the petition reads. “As to help relieve the national debt, this expense yields no positive results for the nation and should be cut from being funded.”

Yesterday, there were only 108,000 votes.

The NYPD estimated it costs between $127,000 and $146,000 per day to protect Mrs. Trump and Barron while President Trump is out of town, according to the New York Times. The cost to guard Mr. Trump and his family between the election and Inauguration Day reached $24 million, the NYPD said.

The petition now goes to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. (I'm not sure what they are expected to do with it.)

Donald, meanwhile, says his duties are so important he should be immune from having to answer a state lawsuit against him. Gloria Allred disagrees.

1,392 days and counting.

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Tuesday :: March 28, 2017

Mortality Rate Climbs for Underinformed White Males

Brookings Institution released a study of mortality and morbidity in the 21st century.

Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

The combined effect means that mortality rates of whites with no more than a high school degree, which were around 30 percent lower than mortality rates of blacks in 1999, grew to be 30 percent higher than blacks by 2015.


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Monday :: March 27, 2017

Monday Open Thread

I've got court this afternoon, here's an open thread, all topics welcome. No blog-clogging please, and keep it civil.

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SuperKush to Save America

He's a bird, he's a plane, he's SUPERKUSH!

All Hail Family Trump. Today it's the son in law with zero policy or political experience who had already been tapped by the "me, my, mine" Trump to bring peace to the middle east and handle our trade relations with Mexico. Now he gets his own Yuuge Department so he can play with some real moguls like Bill Gates and rid the world of opiate addiction.

The Washington Post reports on Trump's announcement of the creation of the White House Office on Innovation, to be led by Kushner, advised by Trump's preferred list of billionaires, including Apple chief executive Tim Cook and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

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Sunday :: March 26, 2017

Iraq Suspends Mosul Advance Due to High Civilian Deaths

Iraq has suspended its advance on ISIS in Mosul due to the vast increase in civilian deaths from coalition bombings.

Iraqi military leaders have halted their push to recapture west Mosul from Islamic State as international outrage grew over the civilian toll from airstrikes that killed at least 150 people in a single district of the city.

The attack on the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood is thought to have been one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Saturday, more than a week after the bombs landed, when the US-led coalition confirmed that its aircraft had targeted Isis fighters in the area.

The U.S. has launched an official investigation.

Donald Trump previously called for a review of Obama's rules ensuring civilian deaths would be minimized. There's concern he's already lowered the threshold. [More...]

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Friday :: March 24, 2017

Trump Blames Dems For Failure of Health Care Bill

TrumpCare is dead. Republicans, not having enough votes, pulled the bill.

Trump is not "the closer" he thought he was. The Washington Post reports: [More...]

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Friday Open Thread

There are many things more interesting in the world to discuss than Donald Trump, that don't leave you wanting to take a shower.

Univision/Netflix has announced the lead for its new original series based on the life of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera that will air on Univision beginning April 23. He is Marco de la O. Here's his twitter page. He certainly looks the part, although he appears to be Colombian.

Telemundo's El Chema, very very loosely based on El Chapo, is now in its final episodes. It was really well done, all of the characters were well cast and interesting. It will leave a big hole in my TV viewing when it ends. Last week Chema formed a partnership with a corrupt DEA agent and a CIA agent in Central America and the Contras to get his cocaine into America. [More...]

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Thursday :: March 23, 2017

Senate Votes to Repeal Internet Privacy Rules

The Senate has voted to repeal internet privacy rules enacted under President Obama:

According to the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama, internet providers would need to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children's information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

The vote was a victory for internet providers such as AT&T Inc (T.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), which had strongly opposed the rules.

Excessive intrusive advertising, especially auto-play video and non-properly scaled, ad-laden and ugly-as* news websites have already ruined the internet. [More...]

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