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Friday Open Thread and Downtime

TalkLeft is moving to a different server later today and tonight. I don't know exactly how long it will be down. You can always check our backup site and I'll put something there when the site gets back up.

Busy work day, this is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Restaurant in Trump SoHo to Close, Low Patronage Since Election

Koi, the sushi restaurant in the TrumpSoho hotel, is closing. It used to be filled with celebrities. Business has tanked since the election. (Koi's other New York Restaurant in Bryant Park is reportedly doing very well.)

The success of Koi in the Trump Soho is of little interest meanwhile to the president, as he does not actually own the hotel and is instead paid to manage the property, which bears his name.

A similar decline in dining attendance was reported by the Michelin-starred restaurant Sixteen, which is located in Chicago's Trump Tower.

And that's not all. Grub Street says it's collateral damage from the rise of Trump: [More...]

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Trump Administration's Inconsistent Views of Humanitarian Treatment

The agencies in Donald Trump's Administration continue to resemble a kid who leaves for school looking like he was dressed by different mothers.

The latest example: ICE jails a Venezuelan intending to detain him pending a final order of removal (deportation) even though he was tortured in a Venezuelan prison for opposition to the government and has a pending petition for asylum, while the State Department asks Venezuela to return an American jailed there and awaiting trial on weapons charges, citing humanitarian concerns.

Why is it okay for the U.S. to deport someone to Venezuela where they have been tortured in the past and likely will be in the future, but it is not okay for Venezuela to jail an American it believes has committed a serious crime? Apparently, in a Trump administration, humanitarian grounds only apply to Americans. The backstory: [More....]

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ICE Starts Victims' Telephone Program

The latest appalling action by ICE: Check out its "Voice Program", announced yesterday. It stands for "Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office." There's even a VINE feature to help anyone track find and track undocumented persons who have been convicted of a crime.

ICE also says this is just a beginning. It is going to be also expanding services to allow the agency "to collect metrics and information." On whom? The victims or the perpetrators? Or both?

It uses deprecated terms like "illegal" to refer to undocumented persons.

My view: This program is an unacceptable use of federal resources that highlights the shameful bigotry in the Trump Administration's agenda.

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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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Trump's Appointments Not Keeping Pace

The Washington Post reports Trump is not nominating people to important positions:

The Senate has confirmed 26 of Trump’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts. But for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation, [Trump] has advanced just 37 nominees, according to data tracked by The Washington Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition.

Despite Trump's camp's attempt to spin this into how rigorous their requirements are, I don't take this as a sign Trump is not offering people jobs. I take it as an indicator that his overtures are being rejected because no one wants to work for his Administration.

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Federal Judge Says No to Trump and Sessions on "Sanctuary City" Funding

Donald Trump and Jefferson Sessions lose another round in court, this time on the threat to withhold federal funds from cities that don't comply with its requests to detain undocumented persons when released from state and local jails or assist in enforcing federal immigration laws.

A judge in San Francisco on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Trump’s efforts to starve localities of federal funds when they limit their cooperation with immigration enforcement, a stinging rejection of his threats to make so-called sanctuary cities fall in line.

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Ted Cruz: All Hat, No Cattle, Again

Ted Cruz is hardly the first to propose using forfeited assets from Mexican drug traffickers to pay for a border wall. In February, Rep. James Sensebrenner introduced H.R. 1067: Build up Illegal Line Defenses with Assets Lawfully Lifted Act of 2017, aka the "Build Act." You can read it here. (It's gone nowhere, and Sensenbrenner seems to have pulled his news release on it from his website.)

Despite being unoriginal, Ted Cruz' "El Chapo Act" will not get a border wall built, even in the unlikely event it passes Congress.

First, El Chapo is facing a criminal, not civil forfeiture. Before anything can be criminally forfeited, a criminal conviction is required. Unless El Chapo pleads guilty (and why would he since he's likely to get the same life sentence handed down last month to Alfredo Beltran-Leyva who also pleaded guilty) a conviction will take a year or two or more. If he loses and appeals, the conviction and judgment aren't final until the appeals are over. No money could be distributed or spent before then.

Second, there isn't any evidence El Chapo has money or property in the U.S. If his assets are in Mexico, the U.S. can't get its hands on it without Mexico's agreement. There's a treaty on the topic.

Why would Mexico agree to let the U.S. have El Chapo's assets to be used for a border wall when it doesn't want a wall? [More...]

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Trump's Latest Whoppers

Biggest lie of the weekend by the Trump Administration: Chief of staff, Reince Priebus on Meet the Press (according to the New York Times):

“We expect a massive increase in military spending. We expect money for border security in this bill....And it ought to be. Because the president won overwhelmingly. And everyone understands the border wall was part of it.” (my emphasis)

More than 10 million people voted for Trump's opponents than voted for him. I'd say that's an overall rejection, not an endorsement, for his positions on issues. [More...]

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Sunday Open Thread

I haven't followed the news this week, so there's been little to write about. That will probably change soon. In the meantime, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday TV: Series "El Chapo" Premiere

I'm looking forward to the start of the Univision series El Chapo tonight. The fictionalized series about the life of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was based on the collective work of screenwriters and journalists in Univision's investigative unit who have followed El Chapo for years. From the Columbia Journalism Review:

To construct the narrative of El Chapo, the screenwriters and journalists had to learn to understand and accommodate each other’s perspective. While scriptwriters have the creative licence to tell a story in the most engaging and dramatic way, journalists are wed to the reality of what actually happened. Reyes describes it as a mixture of fun and frustration. “Fun because it’s a creative process,” he says. “But at the same time, we journalists are fact-addicts, and we think that reality is colorful, interesting, and complex enough that you don’t need to make it up.”

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Thursday Open Thread

In the news: 7 things Trump and Sessions Get Wrong About MS-13

Jeff Sessions wants the border wall to hurry up.

Ivanka Trump is going to participate in the W20 (Women 20) summit in Germany next week. Her topic is "women's economic empowerment." She can share her experience in one sentence: Be born with a rich father, then marry a rich husband.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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MA to toss 21,000 Drug Convictions Due to Lab Fraud

Massachussetts is throwing out 21,000 drug convictions due to the lab fraud by chemist Annie Dookhan. (Background here.) Dookhan was convicted in 2013 and jailed. She was released on parole in 2016.

Most of the defendants have already served their time. Dismissal is just the first step: [more...]

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Fox Announces O'Reilly Exit

Bill O’Reilly is leaving Fox News.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, said in a statement.

O’Reilly lost more than 50 advertisers due to the allegations of sexual harassment and reports that some claims were settled with financial payments. O’Reilly denies the sexual assault allegations and his lawyers have said he is the victim of a left-wing smear campaign.

Financially, O'Reilly will probably never have to work again. [More...]

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Supreme Court Rejcts Arkansas Request to Lift Stay on Execution

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the State of Arkansas to lift the stay of execution on Don Davis, an inmate scheduled to be executed Monday night. (It conceded the stay as to a second defendant, Bruce Ward.)

Arkansas scheduled 8 executions for 11 days in April because it's running short on Midazolam, one of the execution drugs.

Arkansas has not executed anyone in 12 years, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson is chomping at the bit:

In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he's disappointed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to lift a stay. The Republican governor says he was heartened by other court rulings Monday that could pave the way for Arkansas to execute several more inmates before the end of April.

The Arkansas Gazette has more here.

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