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Thursday :: July 17, 2014

Thursday Open Thread: Stop the Amber Alerts

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

Update: Is there any way to stop Amber alerts from interrupting TV shows? It's bad enough we get weather warning interruptions that don't involve Denver or its surrounding counties, but Amber alerts are just too much. Is there some law that authorizes them? Was it a Joe Biden bill? I also resent the flashing Amber alerts on the highway -- they force you take your eye off the road and are dangerous. If the networks are going to allow interruptions for public service messages, they should at least limit them to emergencies that affect everyone. If there was a campaign, Stop the Amber Alerts,, I'd sign in an instant. [More...]

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Journalist: Mexico's Government More Dangerous than Drug Cartels

Prominent journalist Anabel Hernandez, author or the Mexican best selling non-fiction book “Los Señores del Narco” (translated into English as “Narcoland,”) says Mexico's officials are more dangerous than the leaders of the drug cartels.

What I have learned in nine years of investigation into drug trafficking is that a general, a public security secretary or a governor is more dangerous than Chapo Guzman himself. They are the ones that betray the country, that sell the state to organized crime and they should face exemplary punishments. … If there are no exemplary punishments against the Mexican political and business class who permit people like Chapo Guzman to exist, then nothing is going to change and we are just going to be repeating this story of death, sometimes with more violence, sometimes with less, but always with the Mexican state under control of drug traffickers. We have to break this cycle.

On President Nieto: [More...]

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Verdict Watch: Azamat Tazhayakov Jury Deliberations

From the last question asked by jurors deliberating the fate of Azamat Tazhayakov, it appears they are close to a verdict.

During opening arguments, Tazhayakhov's lawyer asked them to "give the kid a shot." Did they? Stay tuned.

Here's the court's verdict form. It mispells Dzhokhar. Here's the five page verdict form the Government wanted.

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Federal Judge Rules CA Death Penalty Unconstitutional

A federal judge in California has ruled California's death penalty system is unconstitutional. He says a death sentence in California is nothing but a penalty of "life with the remote possibility of death." The opinion is here. Since the penalty is so rarely carried out (no one has been executed since 2006), "the death penalty is about as effective a deterrent to capital crime as ther /> possibility of a lightning strike is to going outside in the rain."

This is a problem that has festered in California for years. A major problem, as the judge notes in yesterday's opinion, is California's refusal to adequately fund lawyers. While many media articles briefly mention this, it is a significant part of the judge's decision. [More...]

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Tuesday :: July 15, 2014

Homeland Security Pitches "If You See Something" Campaign at MLB Game

The Department of Homeland Security sent out a tweet today:

“If You See Something, Say Something™” materials will be visible during tonight's @MLB All Star Game

My response:

T-shirt available here.

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Monday :: July 14, 2014

Hamas Rejects Egypt's Proposal for Cease Fire

Egypt proposed a cease-fire plan for Israel and Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted it and will bring it to a vote before the Israeli Security Cabinet in the morning. (Added: The Israeli Security Cabinet has now approved it.) cabinet has approved it.)

Hamas has rejected it.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri already rejected the proposal late Monday night on the grounds that "we are still under occupation and resistance is the right of our people."

Here is the text of Egypt's proposal.

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Tone Deaf Dick Cheney

The years have not changed Dick Cheney, who in my view was the worst Vice-President in American history.

His latest: The war in Iraq was the right thing to do, and we should spend more on defense and less on the needs of the American people.

"[Defense dollars] ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else," Cheney said.

Thank goodness he's irrelevant.

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Monday Open Thread

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday :: July 13, 2014

Sunday Open Thread

I'm spending this beautiful day outdoors. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday Middle East Developments

ISIS is back in action. The reporters, analysts and ISIS supporters I read on Twitter and on their websites say ISIS this weekend took Dhuluiya, and Ishaqi and Barwānah. They blew up the bridge from Dhuluiya to Balad. They have the army boxed in at Samarra. They've also been advancing on the 8th Brigade base near Ramadi and Tikrit and made another try for Haditha, although they havent' gotten the dam.

There's an interesting article here on the synergy between the tribes and ISIS that is strengthening their ability to overthrow Malik's government and shi'a rule. If those issues weren't so important, they might not have hooked up to the extent they have, since usually, the tribes would have plenty of differences with ISIS.

[More...]

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Saturday :: July 12, 2014

NY Judge Rules Bitcoins Subject to Money Laundering Statutes

U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest was not impressed with the legal arguments made by Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht in his bid to dismiss his drug and money laundering charges. In a 51 page ruling, available here, she denied the motion. Among her rulings: Bitcoins are close enough to currency to count as money for the purposes of the money laundering statute. [More...]

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Friday :: July 11, 2014

Report on Mass Killing of Sunni Prisoners in Iraq

Human Rights Watch has released a report on the mass killings of Sunni prisoners by Iraqi forces.

Iraqi security forces and militias affiliated with the government appear to have unlawfully executed at least 255 prisoners in six Iraqi cities and villages since June 9, 2014.

The vast majority of security forces and militias are Shia, while the murdered prisoners were Sunni. At least eight of those killed were boys under age 18.

Mass extrajudicial killings of prisoners should be viewed as a war crime. [More...] evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, and appear to be revenge killings for atrocities by ISIS.

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Jailhouse Snitch Caught Trying to Frame Defendant With Episode of "El Capo"

A lying jailhouse snitch got caught at his game in a Miami murder trial this week.

The snitch, Andres Garcia Florez, is serving 30 years for cocaine distribution. He thought he'd shave some time off by testifying against Clifford Friend, who is being tried for the 1994 murder of Friend's wife. (Prosecutors deny they had promised him a reduction, he testified he was hoping for one.)

Florez told the jury the two had watched an episode of El Capo 3 together. In the episode (Episodio 7, you can watch here), a high-level Russian drug dealer figures out his girlfriend is working for a rival group trying to take him down. He lures her onto a boat, ties her up with rope, attaches an anchor to the rope and throws her overboard. Flores claimed while the episode was airing, Friend told him that's what he did with his wife (whose body has never been found.) [More....]

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"El Chino Antrax" Extradited to San Diego

"El Chino" Antrax, Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa, has arrived in San Diego from the Netherlands via Con Air. He will be arraigned today in federal court.

The young, flashy alleged "sicario" for Sinaloa (Zambada) and logistics coordinator (El Chapo Guzman) is charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, more than 500 grams of meth and more than 100 kilograms of marijuana. He is not charged with any crimes of violence.

His case is related to the case of Serafin Zambada-Ortiz, youngest son of Ismael Zambada-Garcia and brother of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, according to the court docket, but it may just be they were both intercepted on the same wiretap.[More...]

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Thursday :: July 10, 2014

DOJ' s Child Migrant Solution: Throw Money at the Wind

50,000 children have fled their home countries and arrived in the U.S. since last fall. The number is expected to reach 90,000 by the end of the year. They are desperately in need of humanitarian aid. They should be treated as refugees from the violence in their home countries, not immigration violators. The U.S. should be providing them with asylum, not subjecting them to deportation.

What is DOJ's solution? Yesterday it announced a new policy. [More...]

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