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Two Brooklyn Police Officers Shot and Killed

Two Brooklyn police officers who were sitting in their patrol car were shot and killed by a lone gunman from Baltimore. The gunman shot himself in a nearby subway station. The Daily News has a graphic photo of him alive on a stretcher as he was removed from the subway station. He has reportedly since died.

The shooter, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, boasted about wanting to kill cops in the hours before he ambushed the officers outside the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant about 3 p.m. Saturday.

“I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours...Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” Brinsley wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of a silver handgun.

Hours earlier, Brinsley allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend in Baltimore. Brooklyn police confirm both officers are dead.

Whatever the grievance with police, it is unacceptable and wrong to physically attack them. Vigilante justice is no justice at all.

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Holidays: Remembering to Heart Your Favorite Bloggers

December likely is the month that bloggers balance the ledger sheet and reassess their time commitment to blogging because of the financial drain. How many hours were spent blogging, how much money did it cost in lost income from their day job and how much did the blog earn from donations? When they do, the blogosphere runs the risk of losing them. They may be news junkies, policy wonks or activists, but they live in the same capitalist world that you do.

So, as you're putting a little something in the pocket of your doorman, housekeeper, hairstylist, secretary, whomever.....think about the bloggers whose sites you read day after day either for enjoyment or enrichment, and please make a note to add them to your gift list. If ever there was a month to do it, this is it.

If you would like to contribute to TalkLeft, I certainly would appreciate it, and you can do so here via credit card or paypal.

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ISIS Plays Up Public Killings and Punishment

There have been a slew of ISIS videos showing public killings and punishment the past few days. Some take place after prayers when the public areas are already crowded. ISIS is clearly trying to impress upon the public that spying and failure to go along with its rules will result in swift and merciless punishment.

It has been using vehicles with crucifixion crosses attached. The other day it drove through town with a Syrian man alive and attached to the cross. His offense, according to ISIS supporters on Twitter: He had laid out beacons for the Syrian Army showing it where to bomb. ISIS says civilians were killed by the bombs. (SITE says the beacons were laid out to assist the air strikes.) Even though the video does not show the Syrian's execution, I won't post the link. But I will post some screenshots so you get the idea of the size of the crowd it is playing to.

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4 Afghan Guantanamo Detainees Return Home

Four more detainees have left Guantanamo. They are Mohammed Zahir, Shawali Khan, Abdul Ghani and Khi Ali Gul. All are from Afghanistan and were returned to Afghanistan.

There is no requirement that the Afghan government further detain the men.

There are 132 detainees left at Gitmo, including 64 who are eligible for transfer. 8 are Afghanis, and Afghanistan's High Peace Council has requested their repatriation as well.

Obama issued a statement yesterday criticizing Congress for blocking the transfer of detainees. He said closing Gitmo is a "national imperative":
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TRAC Releases Full Report on ISIS Mass Beheadings of Syrians

Via the Daily Mail: TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and the UK-based think tank Quilliam have released their full report on the video of the black-clad ISIS executioner and 21 of his compadres beheading 22 Syrians that ISIS identified as pilots.

The report finds several mistakes in the video. It suggests that "Jihadi John" had a body double. It finds Peter Kassig was killed earlier, likely by a bullet. It identifies a few of the killers. [More....]

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Ferguson DA Interview: Says Some Witnesses Lied

Ferguson DA Rob McCulloch broke his silence today. In an interview, he said that he thinks some grand jury witnesses lied.

[McCulloch] acknowledged that witnesses he did not believe to be truthful had come before the jurors. Mr. McCulloch said that one female witness, who provided testimony that appeared to bolster Officer Wilson’s account of events, “clearly wasn’t present” when the shooting occurred.

....[He] added that the grand jury also heard from other witnesses whose testimony was also in doubt. “It went both directions,” he said.

McCulloch said he decided to let them testify even though he thought they were lying. He wanted the grand jury to hear everything. [More...]

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Obama Says Sony Made a Mistake in Canceling "The Interview"

President Obama said today that Sony made a mistake in deciding to cancel "The Interview."

That's not who we are. That's not what America's about....We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States...

...Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they do when they start seeing a documentary they don't like, or news reports they don't like. Or even worse, imagine if producers or distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.

...The company shouldn't have been deterred from releasing its movie "any more than we stop going to a football game because there might be the possibility of a terrorist attack, any more than Boston didn't run its marathon this year because of the possibility that somebody might try to cause harm."

Obama said he wished Sony called him before making the decision. Good to know that Sony can just pick up a phone and get put through to the President. Can any other corporations do that?

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Staples Hacked, More Than 1.2 Million Credit Cards Affected

It may be time soon to go back to paying by check or in cash. There was another breach announced today: Staples Office Supplies. If you shopped there between July and September, this is for you.

Staples said on Friday that an investigation showed that the criminals used malware that may have allowed access to information for transactions at 115 of its United States stores. That includes cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and card verification codes. The company is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to customers who might be at risk.

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FBI Authorized Negotiations With ISIS in Bid to Free Peter Kassig

In what may be one of the most fascinating articles I've read this year, the Guardian (writers Shiv Malik, Ali Younes, Spencer Ackerman and Mustafa Khalili )reports play by play details of an attempt by the FBI, working with prominent activist New York lawyer Stanley Cohen, to free Peter Kassig. The FBI authorized and paid for Cohen and a translator to travel to Kuwait and Jordan to negotiate with ISIS for Kassig's release. There would be no ransom or prisoner release, but Cohen had come up with other terms ISIS might approve of.

At the time of the rescue effort, Cohen was awaiting sentencing on criminal tax charges, having plead guilty in April, 2014 to two indictments, one in the Northern District of NY and one in the Southern District. The Southern District case was transferred to the Northern District for sentencing. His plea agreement called for an agreed upon sentence of 18 months. A few weeks after his return from the rescue effort, he was sentenced to 18 months as agreed, and is scheduled to report to prison on January 6. A few days ago, his request for a delay was denied. [More...]

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Friday Open Thread

It's the end to a busy week for me. Our last open thread is about to be filled. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Wikileaks Releases CIA Report on High Value Detainees and Targeted Killings

Wikileaks has released a secret 2009 CIA report evaluating the High Value Detainee kill or capture program. The full report is here.

In its key findings, the report warns of the negative consequences of assassinating so-called High Level Targets (HLT), a prediction that has been proven right. “The potential negative effect of HLT operations include increasing the level of insurgent support […], strengthening an armed group's bonds with the population, radicalizing an insurgent group's remaining leaders, creating a vacuum into which more radical groups can enter, and escalating or de-escalating a conflict in ways that favor the insurgents.”

There's even a "best practices" section on targeted killings.

Al-Akhbar analyzes the report. and notes that it finds that the least successful HVT operations are those involving countries that the US and Israel have occupied or are currently at war with.

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Guards Laugh as Inmate Dies: Colorado to Pay $3 Million

Colorado has agreed to a $3 million settlement to the family of a mentally ill inmate who died while having seizures as guards stood around laughing. The event was captured on a six hour video.

Denver civil rights attorney David Lane, who represented the family, had this to say:

"The death of Christopher Lopez was easily preventable and was caused by a mentality that the lives of prisoners are worthless. Hopefully, this settlement sends a message not just to Colorado prison authorities but to prison and jail authorities all over the country that the human beings they incarcerate must be treated like human beings."

Three guards were fired, five were disciplined and the Colorado Department of Corrections said:

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Shami Witness' Detention Extended for 15 Days

Police in India have obtained a 15 day extension of time to hold Shami Witness (Mehdi Masroor Biswas) as they continue their investigation of him and his Twitter account. They had asked for an additional 25 days. Shami has been allowed to meet with his parents.

Biswas was arrested under Sec 125 of IPC (waging war against the Government of any Asiatic power in alliance or at peace with the Government of India or attempts to wage such war or abetting waging of such war), Sec 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Sec 66 of the Information Technology Act.

India has now moved to have ISIS added to its list of designated terror organizations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. However, the list already included any organizations that were designated terror organizations by the U.N. and ISIS has been designated by the U.N.

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Appears in Court

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused of committing the Boston Marathan bombing, was in court this morning. Reporters in the courtroom are live-tweeting. Almost all say he appeared much more alert, interested and engaged in the proceedings than at his prior appearance. He smiled when talking to his attorney Judy Clarke.

He wore slacks and a sweater, not an orange jumpsuit. He has a short beard and his hair is longer than at his last appearance.

As I wrote Monday, the Government asked for him to appear so that he could be quizzed about whether he is satisfied with his counsel, in case he is convicted and claims differently in an appeal. Today Dzhokhar (aka Jahar) assured the court he was satisfied with his attorneys, answering "Very much so." (One reporter tweeted he answered "Pretty much" and another said he responded "Yes Sir." Are they attending the same proceeding?)

One reporter said the Judge ruled the witness lists will be sealed until the jury is seated. Another said the judge said he will release the list on Dec. 28. [More...]

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Thursday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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