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Wednesday :: July 09, 2014

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Bon Jovi is screening his new movie, Access All Areas, for free starting now.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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EX-NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin Sentenced to 10 Years

Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. He was convicted in February on 20 of 21 counts of bribery, money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns.

The judge sentenced him below the 15 year guidelines. The Times Picayune says here's why:

  • Nagin didn't lead the conspiracy; he followed.
  • He didn't pad his pockets as outrageously as some.
  • Aaron Broussard and William Jefferson set favorable precedents.
  • He is unlikely to run for office again.
  • He helped his family more than he enriched himself.

That news articles refer to the sentence as "relatively short" is indicative of our out-of-whack sentencing policy. 10 years for a non-violent offense is overkill.

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Recreational Pot Sales Begin In Washington State

Washington state opened its doors to recreational marijuana sales yesterday. There were long lines and very happy customers. James Lathrop, the owner of Cannibis City, came out at 9:00 a.m. with a big pair of scissors to cut the tape and said:

It's time to free the weed.

Among those who waited in line for hours:[More...]

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Tuesday :: July 08, 2014

A Night of Pizza, Beer and Pool for Obama in Denver

President Obama drew a large crowd in Denver when he and Governor Hickenlooper stopped by the Wynkoop Brewery for some beer and pool tonight.

Obama clearly had a good time, he even whistled along with "Brown-Eyed Girl" as it played on the stereo system. Earlier he had pizza with some letterwriters from Denver. [More...]

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Tuesday Open Thread

I've got a busy workday. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: July 07, 2014

9th Circuit Overturns AZ Ban on Drivers Licenses for Dreamers

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed a lower court's refusal to grant a preliminary injunction against Arizona's ban on issuing driver's licenses to Dreamers who have been granted permission under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (background here) to remain in the U.S. and avoid deportation for up to two years.

The opinion is here. It says the Dreamers are likely to prevail on an equal protection challenge to the ban, and will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction isn't granted. It ordered the Arizona Department of Transportation to provide licenses to those in that program.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 642,685 young people have been approved for the program since 2012, including 20,000 from Arizona. (statistics here.)

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Obstruction Trial Begins for Tsarnaev's Friend Azamat Tazhayakov

In opening arguments today in the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, one of the two friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice Azamat's lawyer, Nicholas Woolridge, told the jury, "I hope you give this kid a shot."

Woolridge also told the jury that it was Dias Kadyrbayev,who will be tried at a later date, who took the backback from Jahar's dorm room back to their apartment, and that it was Dias' girlfriend, who will testify under a grant of immunity from prosecution, who told Dias to get rid of it. Woolridge said Dias only told Azamat about getting rid of the backpack after the fact. [More...]

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Pistorius Expert Provides Media With Work Done for Defense

The Evidence Room of Cleveland, Ohio has a problem. It was retained by the defense in the Oscar Pistorius case to create a re-enactment of the shooting of Oscar's girlfriend Reeva.

The reenactment, with commentary by Scott Roder, President of the Evidence Room, as it's being run on a display monitor, aired last night on Australian TV. Since Roder appears in the interview, and takes the interviewer through it, it's not possible he wasn't aware Seven News had it. Roder also talks about what Oscar told him (something a defense lawyer would never do.)

In the exclusive interview, Roder says he is convinced Pistorius did not mean to kill his girlfriend on the morning of February 14, after weeks of interviewing and analysing the evidence. "Absolutely, they physical evidence is consistent and his story remains unchanged," Roder told Sunday Night reporter Ross Coulthart."If you look at the evidence Oscar's clearly not guilty.

[More...]

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Sunday :: July 06, 2014

Israel to Treat Alleged Killers of Palestinian Child as Terrorists

Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, today said the alleged kidnappers and killers of Palestinian teen, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, believed to be Jewish extremists, will be treated as harshly as Arab terrorists. Six are under arrest for the murder.

“These debased murderers don’t represent the Jewish people or its values, and they must be treated as terrorists,” the defense minister said. “We will not allow Jewish terrorists from our midst to disrupt the fabric of the many different communities in the state of Israel, and to harm innocents just because they are Arabs.” ...“We must battle the perpetrators [of such actions], and those who deploy them, with an iron fist.”

If a Jew kills they will be put to the court like any other criminal. There is no privilege, the law is equal to all and all are equal before the law. On that there is no compromise. We do not distinguish between blood and blood. The murder of a child is reprehensible, regardless of the religion or nationality of the child. It is our responsibility to secure life and to punish those who take it away from others.”

Israeli President Shimon Press said:[More...]

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Saturday :: July 05, 2014

ISIS Releases Glossy New Recruitment Magazine

The Islamic State formerly known as ISIS has released a new issue of its glossy photo-magazine, titled "The Return of the Khilafah." You can download the English version here.

It leaves no doubt as to IS's view of non-Muslims. It says the world is divided into two camps:

Amirul-Mu’minin said: “O Ummah of Islam, indeed the world today has been divided into two camps and two trenches, with no third camp present:

The camp of Islam and faith, and the camp of kufr (disbelief) and hypocrisy – the camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin everywhere, and the camp of the jews, the crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the jews.”

It also repeats its plea for professional recruits: [More...]

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Reports That ISIS Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Severely Injured

Reports are coming out of Iraq that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Caliph of the new Islamic State, has been severely injured by Iraqi forces in a battle near Qaim in Anbar. There are also reports he has been taken to Syria. Al Sumaria news says an Iraqi Parliament official confirmed this. Here's a photo allegedly of the injured al-Baghdadi.

But there are also reports this happened Wednesday, and ISIS tweets say al-Baghdadi led the prayers at a mosque in Mosul Friday. Supposedly, ISIS cut off all cell phone activity in the area so no one could disclose his presence. [Added: Here's a video of al-Baghdadi leading the prayers in Mosul...after the Iraqis claim he was injured in the blast.]

Nothing is confirmed at this hour, and while there are many reports about this on Twitter and in Middle Eastern media, none seem to be from ISIS supporters.

If he does die, who will take his place? [More...]

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2013 Wiretap Report Released


On July 2, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts released its annual statistical report on federal and state wiretaps for 2013. The report is here.

In a nutshell:

  • The number of federal and state wiretaps authorized in 2013 reached a ten year high -- there were 3,576.
  • Only 1 wiretap application was rejected, and that was by a state court. (Number of requests: 3577)
  • 87% of all wiretaps were for drug offenses.
  • Average cost of a federal wiretap: $43,361.

[More...]

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Friday :: July 04, 2014

ISIS Video's Chilean Tour Guide Identified

I've been wondering about the real identity and background of the English-speaking Chilean ISIS tour guide from the group's End of Sykes Picot video.

Is Abu Saffiya really a fighter, or an actor hired by ISIS's production company? He seems straight out of central casting. Where is he really from? I haven't seen pictures of him anywhere else. Would ISIS trust a basic street fighter to give such an important tour? Or does he play a prominent role in the group? He is very comfortable in front of the camera -- too comfortable for a "nobody."

Abu Saffiya has now been identified. He is Bastián Alexis Vásquez Nunez, a 24 year old Norwegian citizen and former rapper. His parents emigrated from Chile to Skien, Norway when he was young. He hasn't been back to Chile since 2001. [More...]

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World Cup Quarterfinals, Day 1

2 big matches today. First up France v Germany which has extensive history both in soccer(their 1982 World Cup semifinal clash made me a soccer fan for life)and of course, in war.

In this tournament, they have been among the top teams. France has been brilliant at times. But I think this is a bad matchup for them, as Germany is more disciplined and equally skilled. The pick is: Quarter Final - Rio de Janeiro, Germany Pick over France.

The home team Brazil faces a flying James Rodriguez and Colombia in the second game. On form, Colombia is the favorite. But this is Brazil playing at home we are talking about. (This consideration includes the effects on officiating, which will certainly favor Brazil.) I have 2 lays here - Quarter Final - Fortaleza - 1st Half Line Colombia Pick (+185) and Full time Colombia +½ (+105). IF the game goes extra time, that is a different wager. I suspect Brazil will be put through in extra time or penalties.

A final word on USA' performance against Belgium. Other than Howard's heroics, it was a terrible performance, taking the USA back to its pre-1994 form. Just an awful performance. Klinsmann is a good coach imo, but he really missed the boat with Bradley at attacking midfielder where he failed miserably. Beating Belgium was a tall order, but that performance was a head shaker, Really bad.

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Wedding Bells for Joran Van Der Sloot

Joran Van der Sloot, 26, will marry his 22 year old girlfriend at Piedras Gordas prison in Peru today. The couple are expecting their first child. Joran, who is serving a 28 year sentence for killing Peruvian Stephany Flores, met his bride while detained pending trial at Miguel Castro Castro prison in San Juan de Lurigancho, where she worked in a kiosk with her parents selling cigarettes and sundries. [More...]

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