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Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Update: The judge sentenced Oscar to five years in prison on the culpable homicide charge and imposed a three year suspended sentence on the firearm count. The sentences will run concurrently. He was taken into custody. Neither side indicated they were going to appeal, and there was no mention of bail pending appeal or a delay to put his affairs in order. Oscar sat by himself throughout the sentencing, and did not display any emotion at the sentence. I didn't see any interaction between Oscar and his lawyer during the proceeding or after.

A summary of the judge's reasoning is below (from my notes this time, not tweets.)[More...]

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Monday Night Open Thread

I'm just catching up on today's news.

The Supreme Court will decide whether police can seize hotel registries of guests without a warrant. The 9th Circuit ruled the California law allowing warrantless access to the data violated the 4th Amendment. Among the data hotels are required to obtain from guests:

[I]dentification, method of payment, the license plate numbers of their cars and how much they paid. For guests who pay in cash or stay for less than 12 hours, it requires even more details.

The fighting in Kobane increased today. ISIS launched more suicide attacks, including one on a Kurdish village in Iraq where they disguised themselves in Peshmerga uniforms. They also struck again in Baghdad, killing 17 or 19 people attending a funeral at a mosque, and in Karbala. Congress approved the sale of $600 million in tank ammunition to Iraq. Who's the lucky seller? General Dynamics Corp. [More...]

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Jared Polis: The Most Internet Friendly Congressman

Jared Polis is one of my favorite Congresspersons. (Unfortunately, I don't get to vote for him because he's not in my district.) Kevin Collier of the Kernel and The Daily Dot writes about Jared today:

Jared Polis (D-Colo.) may be the most Internet-friendly congressman in history. He certainly has the credentials: A former Web entrepreneur, he’s the first openly gay parent in congressional history, a proponent of legalizing marijuana, an active redditor, and a League of Legends gamer. He’s also long accepted campaign contributions in Bitcoin, the booming cryptocurrency.

He says Jared has "assembled what is essentially the best Internet freedom voting record possible" and then lists Jared's accomplishments. They are too long too quote, but quite impressive, so please read the article. [More...]

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Fl Supreme Court Says Warrant Needed for Cell Tower Data

Courts continue to be divided on whether a search warrant is needed for cops to obtain cell site locator data. This week the Florida Supreme Court ruled a warrant is necessary. It is the first state to decide the issue based on the 4th Amendment.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written, it would also cover the use of so-called “stingrays”—sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms.

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UN Calls for Moratorium on Death Penalty in Iraq

A new U.N. report on the death penalty in Iraq says it is fueling the violence and a moratorium should be imposed.

The report says executions in Iraq have been increasing at an alarming pace and that is applied unfairly:

Judges often pass death sentences based on evidence from disputed confessions or secret informants, condemning suspects who are unaware of their rights, may have been tortured and have no defense attorney until they arrive in court, the report said.

[More...]

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"Resurgence" : Al Qaeda's New English Magazine

Seven months in the making, al-Qaeda’s as-Sahab Media Foundation has released the premiere edition of its new English magazine, "Resurgence." It has 117 pages and is filled with glossy graphics and articles about jihad and the war against America, all in understandable English. The content is global, but focuses a lot on the newest branch of al Qaeda in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.

The magazine visually resembles AQAP's Inspire. Content wise, it's different, in that there are no instructions for bomb making or lone wolf attacks. And unlike ISIS publications, there are very few Arabic words and it's not heavy on religious dogma. The magazine is available for download here, but it takes a really long time. For those who don't have the time or patience, I'll summarize what I think are the most interesting parts. [More...]

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Friday Night Open Thread

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

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Saddam's Pilots Teach ISIS to Fly

Former pilots for Saddam's air force are reportedly teaching ISIS to fly. Among the aircraft: MI-G fighter planes they got from Syria in battle. The fighter jets have been spotted over Aleppo in Syria.

Islamic State (Isis) is takings its first steps towards building an air force by training pilots to fly captured fighter planes, according to a group monitoring the conflict in Syria.

Isis is using lots of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery and Jeeps taken from the Syrian and Iraqi armies but this is the first report that it has planes in the air.

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Pistorius Sentence Expected Tuesday

Closing arguments are over in the Oscar Pistorius case. The judge is expected to rule Tuesday. Prosecutors asked for 10 years. The defense asks for house arrest and community service. From the defense closing:

Roux said there was also "no conscious unlawfulness" from Pistorius. He described Pistorius' suffering, both emotional and financial, since the Feb. 14, 2013 shooting.
"He's lost everything," Roux said of Pistorius, once an inspirational figure who became the first amputee to run at the Olympics in 2012. "He was an icon in the eyes of South Africans."

...."He's not only broke, but he's broken. There is nothing left of this man," Roux said. He said that Pistorius "hasn't even the money to pay for legal expenses. He has nothing left."

[More...]

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Thursday News and Open Thread

The House held a hearing on Ebola today. Several advocated for a travel ban. Here is the National Institute of Health's Ebola page. The Center for Disease Control's page is here.

James Cole, #2 at the Justice Department, is resigning. I like this quote of his:

“We have to stop filling our jails,” Cole said. “The only way you’re going to do that is to take people who are addicted and start dealing with addictions, dealing with their mental health issues, instead of just throwing them in jail.”

British ISIS hostage John Cantlie released episode four of his video messages today. You Tube took it down, but it's available on Daily Motion. More of the same, with a focus on how the media and government feed each other and ramp up fear. [More...]

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Cleric to Crucifixion

These kinds of headlines make me find 3 confirming reports before writing about them, in case there's a language difference as to the use of some words, like "crucifixion. In this case, it means what we think it means.

Nimr Baqer al-Nimr, a reformist cleric, has been sentenced to death by crucifixiton , the country's harshest punishment. He will be beaheaded and his body will be tied to two perpendicular pieces of wood. He'll be strung up and his severed head will be by him. This barbarity will take place in the public square severed head will be place by him. The event takes place in town square, with the public watching.

What was al-Nimr's sin? He preached against the Saudi King, arguing for civil rights. and an end to corruption and discrimination against minorities. [More...]

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U.S. Ditches Free Syrian Army Rebels: Iraq Comes First

Ret. Gen. John Allen, who is in charge of the U.S. response to ISIS, confirmed today that the U.S. will not be training and equipping the Free Syrian Army rebels. He said the U.S. will start from scratch, vetting and then training Syrian opposition fighters. He also made it clear Iraq comes first.

The Syrian arena is important, Allen said, but to the U.S., “the emergency in Iraq right now is foremost in our thinking.” There will be a simultaneous training-and-equipping campaign for Iraq, where the U.S.-trained military collapsed during the Islamic State’s summer offensive.

Allen said the new training program is “for those elements of the Iraqi national security forces that will have to be refurbished and then put back into the field,” with the ultimate goal of reclaiming Iraqi territories seized by the Islamic State. [More...]

The FSA has suspected as much for months. The FSA is interested in overthrowing Assad, not fighting ISIS. It has teamed up with Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaida in Syria) when it suits them, and fighters switch allegiances. In addition, the FSA is angry about the U.S. airstrikes and its targeting of al Nusrah leaders. [More...]

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Wednesday Open Thread

No ruling yet in Oscar Pistorius sentencing. The judge wants the parties to finish by the end of the week.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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U.S. Gives Name to War Against ISIS, ISIS Baits U.S. in Video

The U.S. today announced the name for the war against ISIS. It's called "Operation Resolve."

The operation name applies retroactively to all U.S. military actions conducted against ISIL in Iraq and Syria since airstrikes against ISIL began Aug. 8 in Iraq, officials said.

The name Inherent Resolve is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community, Centcom officials explained.

100 U.S. military advisors arrived in Anbar today to train Iraqi forces and tribe members.

ISIS has released a new video of three foreign fighters challenging the U.S. to send ground troops, titled "Wait, We Also Are Waiting." SITE has the transcript and a description. Or, you can watch it here.

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New Reports on Old Chemical Weapons

Here's the New York Times report on chemical weapons in Iraq at the long abandoned al Muthanna weapons plant, now under ISIS control.

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

Here's the 2007 CIA report on the long abandoned chemical weapons plant. [More...]

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