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Saturday Open Thread

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

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DA Brauchler's Post Verdict Statement on the James Holmes Trial

Live blog: DA George Brauchler begins his press conference with a reading of the names of the 12 victims who died in the Aurora theater shootings.

He refuses to use James Holmes' name, calling him "that guy."

He says even though the verdict didn't go his way, and that his view of justice called for a death sentence, "those jurors did a helluva job."

While he's disappointed in the outcome, he is not disappointed in the process and he still believes in the system. He praises the jurors.

He talks about the work of the police officers and how they prevented many more injuries.[More...]

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James Holmes Sentenced to Life In Prison

The jury did not reach a unanimous death verdict in the trial of James Holmes. He will receive life in prison without parole.

Great work by Colorado Public Defenders Tamara Brady, Daniel King and the rest of the defense team. It was an enormous uphill battle to save his life, and they did it.

Holmes agreed to plead guilty and accept a sentence of life without parole before trial, but Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler would not agree and insisted on a far more costly death penalty trial. The cost of this trial is estimated to be between $5 and $10 million. That money could have better spent elsewhere.

There are only three inmates with death sentences in Colorado. All three were charged and tried by the Arapahoe County DA's office. (Brauchler was not D.A. then.) All three are African-American. The last execution in Colorado was 18 years ago, in 1977 (Gary Davis.) The last death penalty verdict was 6 years ago (Robert Ray.) The death penalty in Colorado has been severely criticized as arbitrarily applied.

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Joe Biden 's One Man Crime Band

Joe Biden, the "Band of One" needs watching. Last night I was reading a speech he gave on the Senate Floor in 1991, in which he claimed Pres. Bush wasn't tough enough on crime and his crime bill was tougher than Bush's. The cite is 137 Cong Rec S 8263.

Leopards don't lose their spots. If he gets elected we'll live in a police state. His major priority is throwing more money at police, DEA, Homeland Security and anyone else with a badge.

Here's some quotes from his speech pushing for his 1991 crime bill over then President Bush's bill. He thought Bush was soft on crime. [More...]

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Defense Rests in James Holmes' Aurora Theater Shooting Trial

The defense has wrapped up its case in the Aurora theater shooting trial of James Homes. The jury will decide whether he was insane at the time of his killing rampage.

After playing jurors a video of the defendant naked and running head-long into a cell wall, and another of him thrashing around in restraints at a hospital, the defense rested.

The prosecution said it would not present any rebuttal case. Attorneys from both sides will make closing arguments on Tuesday

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New Report on Rising Heroin Use and Deaths

The Centers for Disease Control released a report today, "Vital Signs: Demographic and Substance Use Trends Among Heroin Users — United States, 2002–2013." The press release is here.

It finds increased heroin use, particularly among users of pain pills and cocaine, and increased heroin-related deaths.

Predictably, the report calls for more restrictions on pain pills. The U.S. always gets it backwards when it comes to drugs.

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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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