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Fourth of July Open Thread

As America celebrates Freedom and Independence today, here are some thoughts on what they mean.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. I hope you all have a great day planned. When you return, please tell us about it.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Colo Supreme Court: No Protection for Workers Who Use Marijuana

The Colorado Supreme Court yesterday ruled employers can fire workers who use marijuana outside of the workplace. The opinion in Coats v. Dish Network is here.

The supreme court holds that under the plain language of section 24-34-402.5, 13 C.R.S. (2014), Colorado’s “lawful activities statute,” the term “lawful” refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law 16 but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute. We therefore affirm the court of appeals’ opinion.

Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic and medical marijuana user who was fired from his job as a telephone operator at Dish Network for using marijuana in his off-job hours. [More...]

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Three Jurors Dismissed From James Holmes Trial

Three jurors were dismissed today from the Aurora Theater shooting trial of James Holmes. One juror (juror 872) had told other jurors about media accounts of a mistrial request that had been denied. On another occasion she told them about information she received from her husband that one of the lawyers in the case (who was chief prosecutor George Brauchler) got in trouble with the court for tweeting about the case from the courtroom. Her husband told her that @GeorgeBrauchler had tweeted about the trial from the courtroom and he called him an "idiot." On one occasion, she had her husband on speakerphone in the presence of up to four other jurors.

The judge said, "This isn't' a one word type of thing. These were multiple comments."

There are four women jurors who hang out together on breaks on the patio where they can smoke cigarettes. The fifth juror sometimes went out to the patio. [More...]

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Bill Clinton: 1994 Crime Bill Went Too Far

Bill Clinton makes it official in an interview with Christine Amanpour: The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act went too far and locked up too many people.

"The problem is the way it was written and implemented. We have too wide a net. We have too many people in prison. And we wound up spending - putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out that they could live productive lives," he said, according to a CNN transcript of the interview.

He approves of Hillary's recent commitment to back off from that stance. [More...]

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Live Opening Statements in James Holmes Case

Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler is giving the opening statement for the prosecution in the trial of James Holmes. It's being televised on Channel 7 in Denver (thankfully no commentary so far.) Above is the streaming version from Fox News, also no commentary so far.

Why is the elected District Attorney trying this case personally? My guess: This is his stepping stone to a run for Congress or Governor. He is a very fluid speaker, he's got a powerpoint going but he's not using notes. His speech is free of "ums" and "ahs," and his tone is modulated and conversational. I didn't see the beginning so I can't tell what his theme is. He doesn't use trilogies to continually bring it home. Instead, he's doing a chronological presentation. [More...]

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James Holmes Trial Begins Over Aurora Theater Shootings

There will be two people fighting for their lives in court this week: James Holmes, the Aurora Shooting suspect who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose defense team will start their case for life. Both begin Monday morning.

I'm curious to see what witnesses the defense will call for Jahar. I'd like to see his friend Junes Umarov testify for him. I'm sure they've canvassed the friends and neighbors for anyone who can say Tamerlan dominated him and he did whatever he asked. I think we may see some teachers in the early grades, a sports coach, and some high school friends to say this was all out of character from him.

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Jury Picked for James Holmes in Aurora Theatre Shooting Case

After 3 months and 9,000 candidates, the jury has been picked for James Holmes in the Aurora Shooting case.

Interestingly, there are two members who have direct ties to the Columbine shootings in 1999.

Juror No. 737, fled the building safely, but was childhood friends with the gunmen and went to prom with a victim.

He told the judge that after a decade of therapy "to get over it" he thought he could be fair and that the experience might make him a better juror.

A second juror has a niece who was in the cafeteria at Columbine at the time of the shootings. [More...]

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$2 Million Bond Set for CO Woman in Womb Cutting Case

Who does something like this?

According to the arrest warrant, Dynel Lane, the mother of two teenagers, told her family she was pregnant. In December, 4 months ago, she showed them ultrasound photos. She once worked as some kind of nurse. She put an ad on Craig's list to sell baby clothes. An expectant mother, 7 months pregnant responded. When she arrives at Lane's home, Lane beats her and then performs a caesarian section on her with a three inch knife, taking out the baby. Lane puts the baby in the bathtub upstairs, leaving the expectant mother bleeding the bed in the basement.

Lane's husband comes home early from work, around 2:15 pm to take her to a pre-natal appointment. (Apparently he never noticed his wife wasn't pregnant.) When he got there, he starts to go down to the basement when suddenly Dynel Lane "turns a corner" and appears. She has blood on her. She tells him she had a miscarriage and the baby was upstairs in the tub. He runs upstairs and finds the baby in the tub. He said the baby gave a gasp. They leave to take the baby to the hospital. [More...]

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Mohammed Enwazi's Bidoon Background

Every day there are more and more irrelevant minor details published about Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John and unconfirmed reports about his so-called early terror connections. What I haven't seen is anything explaining why he would want to go live in Kuwait, when he wasn't a Kuwaiti citizen and could not become one, due to his Bidoon heritage, and given that the Bidoons are treated like an underclass in Kuwait.

I'd also like to know when his father moved from Iraq to Kuwait, and why. Did he want to take advantage of the increased business opportunities there in the 80's, or was he fleeing Saddam? Where in Iraq was he from? I've seen tweets Emwazi was a member of the Zuhairi tribe from Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, but no confirmation by a reliable source. If he was from that tribe, would he more likely be a Shi'a than a Sunni? If he was Shi'a, he must have renounced his faith and heritage in order to join ISIS, since ISIS doesn't view Shi'a as Muslims but apostates. [More...]

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Indonesia President: Religious Tolerance Best Response to Terrorism

Indonesia President Joko Widodo said this month Indonesia's approach to terrorism is one of tolerance, not security.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Wednesday that Indonesia practiced religious tolerance and was using cultural approaches to eradicate terrorism in the country, rather than adopting a security approach.

“We have shown that tolerance and mutual respect is strong and we always take the middle ground [...]. So there is no immense extremism and that is what other countries see [in us],” said Jokowi on the last day of the sixth Indonesian Muslims Congress (KUII) in Yogyakarta.

Widodo and Indonesia insist on executions of drug mules as a response to the problem of drug trafficking, but for the danger of terrorists, they urge “soft” religious and cultural approaches." Just like Indonesia offers "get of jail free" cards to terrorists.[More...]

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Wednesday Open Thread

It's still extremely busy around here. I've been trying to follow events in Libya, as well as some domestic stuff, but I'm just too busy right now to write.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Celebrity Apprentice: Geraldo vs. Leeza

When Celebrity Apprentice began this season, I wanted Geraldo and Leeza to be the final two. It just happened. This is the first semi-reality show I've watched where I know both finalists. I like them both so much, I don't know who to root for. What a great match-up. They have very different strengths and personalities, but they are both so talented.

Either one could win, but I think Leeza may have an edge, because the task is making a commercial and she's very creative and organized (as well as smart.) Presentation of the finished commerical will also count, and she's such a smooth public speaker. Geraldo is smart as a whip and also creative. He's got terrific instincts, but he's also more impulsive.

While they need to raise money (which Geraldo is more successful at) Trump went out of his way to say that wouldn't be a deciding factor. I'm actually nervous watching. Good luck to both of them.

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Texas Executes Man With IQ of 67

The Supreme Court has banned the execution of the mentally disabled. Robert Ladd has an IQ of 67. Texas killed him tonight anyway. He died 27 minutes after being injected with lethal drugs. He said they stung.

Under Texas’s unique – and widely ridiculed – definition of intellectual disability, he was deemed capable of being executed because he did not match the degree of mental impairment depicted in a character in a John Steinbeck novel.

Ladd is the second mentally disabled inmate to be killed in the U.S. this week. Georgia killed Warren Hill

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Colo. Wannabe Terror Teen Sentenced to Four Years

Shannon Conley, a 19 year old from Arvada, CO was sentenced to four years in federal prison today.

She actually caught a big break. Had she not agreed to cooperate and plead guilty, for which the feds agreed to let her plead to the catch-all conspiracy charge under 18 USC Section 371, which carries a five year maximum sentence, she would have been facing a lot more time. Her sentencing guidelines, according to her plea agreement, were 25 to 30 years.

What did she do? From her plea agreement (in which she admits the following): She met a guy online named Yousr Mouelhi who said he was with ISIS. They agreed on the need for violent jihad. They decided to get married and made plans for her to travel to Turkey. But first, to improve her jihadist skills, she enrolled in in the volunteer US Army Explorers (USAE)program and received training in military tactics and firearms.[More...]

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Assessing Virginia Roberts' Credibility

Alan Dershowitz says Virginia Roberts, aka Jane Doe #3 and 102 in the Jeffrey Epstein civil suits) is a "serial liar." (For background, see here). Yesterday, Roberts told the Daily Mail she is writing her memoirs and will name all the powerful people Epstein directed her to have sex with while she was employed by him.

Since she has publicly accused Dershowitz and Prince Andrew of engaging in criminal acts in a court pleading (available here), and threatens to make similar accusations against other prominent persons, I think she has put her credibility in issue. What has she said in her various interviews over the years and are there discrepancies? What was her life like before she met Epstein? Was she an average teen, or did she have severe problems? Her lawyers' statements should also be examined. Are their statements consistent with hers, and if not, why not? Is it just sloppiness? [More...]

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