Wednesday :: May 31, 2017

CNN and Others Cancel Kathy Griffin Contracts

CNN, Unicorn Gold bathroom products and Squatty Potty toilet stools have cancelled their contracts with Kathy Griffin over her Trump photo.

Squatty Potty said:

We have acted swiftly and decisively to demonstrate our commitment to a culture of decency, civility, and tolerance."

It was a disgusting photo. I can't even begin to fathom what was going through her head. Ted Nugent's comment doesn't even compare.

The photos are too close to ISIS' horrific beheadings -- how will the families of James Foley and Steven Sotloff feel?

Griffin has issued what appears to be a sincere apology. [More...]

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Salman Abedi: UK Police Believe He Acted Alone

For days, police in the UK informed the media they were snatching up the major players in Salman Abedi's terrorist network in Manchester. Despite 16 arrests, today today the Manchester Police acknowledged that the "network" theory isn't panning out. It appears he acted alone. Here is the latest release by the Manchester Police Department.

Police now say Abedi bought the materials himself and built the bomb on his own in the four days after he returned from Libya.

Five of the people arrested have been released, three of them today . More releases are expected. [More...]

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Tuesday :: May 30, 2017

DHS Statement : Laptop Ban Still Under Consideration

The Department of Homeland Security issued a press release today saying no decision has been reached on banning laptops (large electronic devices) from overseas flights, but it's under consideration. DHS Secretary John Kelly had a phone call today with some European security officials.

Finally, while a much-discussed expansion of the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States was not announced today, the Secretary made it clear that the an expansion is still on the table. Secretary Kelly affirmed he will implement any and all measures necessary to secure commercial aircraft flying to the United States – including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin – if the intelligence and threat level warrant it.

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Tuesday Open Thread

From the Guardian: Jared Kushner's charmed life is about to come to a screeching halt and Germany Steps Up Attack on Trump for 'weakening' the west .

Trump's Communications Director is leaving. (His resignation letter was submitted May 18.)

The House committee investigating Russia has issued a subpoena to Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, after he refused an invitation to talk to them. (Added: Reuters says no subpoena has been issued.)

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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The Era of Manuel Noriega

Former Panama military leader Manuel Noriega has died. He was 83. He served 17 years in a U.S. prison after being tried and convicted on cocaine trafficking, money laundering and racketeering charges in Miami in 1992.

Noriega accused Washington of a “conspiracy” to keep him behind bars and tied his legal troubles to his refusal to cooperate with a U.S. plan aimed at toppling Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government in the 1980s.


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Monday :: May 29, 2017

Have Jared and Ivanka Had Enough of D.C.? It's Donald That Should Go

A few days ago I wrote:

I think Jared and Ivanka bit off more than they can chew in deciding to move to Washington and get further involved with Trump. I won't be surprised to see them pack up and go back to New York in a year or so.

They may not even make it that long. The media is reporting that White House insiders are suggesting Jared take a leave of absence. (No link due to auto-play video on every site I checked.)

There are also reports Trump is considering a major overhaul of his staff. (Again, no links due to auto-play video everywhere.)

Memo to Trump: Replacing your staff is just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. How long are you going to play this charade? [More...]

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Sunday :: May 28, 2017

US Shift to "Annihilation" Tactics on ISIS

James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, said today on CBS' Face the Nation that the U.S. is shifting to "annihilation tactics" on ISIS.

“We have already shifted from attrition tactics, where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”

He also said civilian deaths are to be expected.

“Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation....“We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.”


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Saturday :: May 27, 2017

R.I.P. Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman has died at age 69. I really loved the Allman Brothers' music -- it is an indelible part of the soundtrack of my life in the 70's.

Here's a New York Times article on his career (excellent photos.)

Tied to the Whipping Post at the Fillmore East, 1970

Statesboro Blues live in 1982 and at Farm Aid in 1997.

R.I.P. Gregg Allman. You were truly a legend. Condolences to his wife Shannon and their children, "Michael, Devon, Elijah Blue, Delilah Island Kurtom and Layla Brooklyn Allman."

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Friday :: May 26, 2017

Schapelle Corby Goes Home to Australia

12 years after a court in Bali found her guilty of importing 4 kilos of pot into Indonesia, a charge she has always denied, Schapelle Corby is going home.

On October 8, 2004, Schapelle Corby, traveled with her half-brother and two friends from Brisbane, Australia to Bali. They were going on a holiday, to visit their sister Mercedes, who lived in Bali and was turning 30. She checked her boogie board as oversized luggage at the airport in Brisbane. It was not weighed. The flight stopped in Sydney, and then went on to Bali. Going through customs, the bag seemed heavy and police opened it. There was 4.1 kilos of pot inside. Schapelle acknowledged the boogie board and bag were hers. She denied knowing there was pot in it, and had no idea how it got there.


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Thursday :: May 25, 2017

Jared Kushner: The "Person of Interest" in Russia Probe

The Washington Post reports Jared Kushner is indeed the Trump senior adviser who is a person of interest in the FBI's Russia Probe.

"Person of interest" carries no legal connotation. It doesn't mean he's a subject or target of the investigation. Or even that he did something wrong. But the FBI still uses the term (see this poster from 2015) and in the public's view, the phrase has become synonymous with "suspect." Several articles today reinforce that view by saying Kushner is "under scrutiny", which suggests they aren't just looking to him for information about others. It's an unfortunate term that should be discarded.

As to what's being investigated, all the news reports I've read say the FBI is looking at financial crimes as well as ties to Russia. [More...]

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4th Circuit Rules Upholds Nationwide Injunction of Trump Travel's Ban

In a 205 page opinion, available here, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, rejected most of Trump's travel ban. A Washington Post article is here.

In a 10-to-3 decision, the Richmond-based court said the president’s power to deny entry into the United States is not absolute and sided with challengers, finding that the travel ban “in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

...All of the judges in the majority were nominated to the court by Democratic presidents, and the three dissenting judges — Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and G. Steven Agee — were nominated to the bench by Republican presidents.


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Wednesday :: May 24, 2017

Trump Budget Seeks Increases for His Security and White House Spending

Trump's budget proposal, containing massive reductions for almost every helpful government program, and which is being universally trashed and has little hope in passing, does contain a few increases.

Trump is asking for more money for his security detail and his White House staff and the VP residence. Here's the form. [More...]

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CBO Report in On Repbulican Health Care Law, It's Bad

The CBO report on the Republican health care bill that passed the House is in and it is bleak.

A bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act that narrowly passed the House this month would increase the projected number of people without health insurance by 14 million next year and by 23 million in 2026, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday. That 10-year figure is slightly less than originally estimated.

Rather than trying to fix it, the Senate should just kill it.

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Trump Lawyers Up on Russia Probe

Reuters reports Trump has retained his long time lawyer Marc Kasowitz, who is partners with Joe Lieberman, to represent him in the Russia Probe.

This must be why the Washington Post is reporting Lieberman is no longer Trump's top pick to lead the FBI.

Question: Why did Melania and Ivanka cover up for the Pope but not Saudi Arabia? The media attempts to answer. And here's a covered up Melania holding hands with Donald. I guess he doesn't take no for an answer.

More of Melania's black head cover. Also here. Check out the odd shape. Here is the entire look. Here's Ivanka's veil. If you ask me, both she and Ivanka look like they are dressed for a funeral.

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Manchester Bomber's Father and Brother Arrested in Libya

Ramadan Abedi, aka Abu Ismael, was arrested by Libyan security forces while giving a media interview in Tripoli. He confirmed his younger son, Hassem Abedi, age 20, was arrested last night by a local counterterrorism force. He was being interviewed by Reuters when masked men arrived at his home and arrested him.

Another brother Ismail was arrested in Manchester yesterday.[More...]

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