Thursday News and Open Thread

Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have reached a settlement the civil suit brought by the New York hotel housekeeper.

The U.N. has upgraded Palestine's status to that of "non-member observer state."

The 193-member U.N. body voted 138 to 9 in favor of a resolution that stops well short of conferring independence on the Palestinians, but grants their territory limited privileges as a state, including the right to join international treaty bodies. Forty-one countries abstained

Bradley Manning will be allowed to plead guilty to 7 or 8 charges carrying a possible sentence of 16 years. [More...]

Under the proposal, Manning would admit to willfully sending the following material: a battlefield video file, some classified memos, more than 20 Iraq war logs, more than 20 Afghanistan war logs and other classified materials. He would also plead guilty to wrongfully storing classified information.

...Manning made the offer as a way of accepting responsibility for the leak. Government officials have not said whether they would continue prosecuting him for the other 15 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

His lawyers are also seeking a dismissal, arguing he's been punished enough. Manning testified today about his conditions of confinement.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is suffering from lung problems.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Update on Oregon voter fraud case. (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by caseyOR on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:11:03 PM EST
    Here is the latest news in the case of the election worker accused of tampering with cast ballots.

    That election worker, Deanna Swensen, has been indicted on four class C felony counts, two counts of unlawfully altering a cast ballot and  two counts of unlawfully voting more than once. She was also indicted on two counts of official misconduct which is a class A misdemeanor.

    Swensen, age 55, is a registered Republican. It is alleged that on Oct. 31, while opening mail-in ballots, she marked ballots for  GOP candidates in down ticket races where the voter had left the ballot blank. She was caught when a coworker saw her marking ballots.

    Today Swensen and her lawyer held interviews with the news media where she claimed that she did not remember anything that happened, that she was on medication and did not know what she was doing until a coworker pulled the ballot out of her hand. She cried through the interviews.

    It sounds like her lawyer is planning some kind of diminished capacity defense. There were hints that Swensen has some mental health issues or at least that her lawyer intends to make that argument.

    I confess I am inclined to not believe her. I watched her on TV tonight. My impression was that she is really sorry she got caught, that perhaps she did not give much, if any, thought to the possible consequences of vote tampering, and that she is stunned to discover that she could end up serving time.

    Both our Attorney General and our Secretary of State are firm right now in their determination to follow this through to, as the SoS stated, "the fullest extent of the law."

    More later as this develops.

    Thanks for the update! (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by shoephone on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 10:21:22 PM EST
    It sounds like someone in the GOP fraud machine is finally going to be held accountable.

    That's a winning argument (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by CoralGables on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 11:09:52 PM EST
    She probably suffers diminished capacity due to too many hours viewing Fox Punditry.

    Oh, snap! (none / 0) (#5)
    by DFLer on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 07:23:59 AM EST
    Ellis Rubin is dead (none / 0) (#6)
    by CoralGables on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:21:39 AM EST
    so someone else will have to take up the TV insanity approach.

    What defense lawyer wants to make national headlines, become a laughingstock, but get a book deal and appear on all the TV talk shows as the one who defends a client using the "Indoctrinated by Fox News insanity defense".

    It's just a matter of time


    OK, while obviously not acceptable by any (none / 0) (#14)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:48:00 PM EST
    measure, it's hardly indicative of a "machine:"
    Oregon was the first state to conduct elections exclusively by mail, and the November election marked the fourth presidential contest in which the system was used. Never before had an election worker been accused of marking choices.
    Here is the statement DOJ released this morning:[...]Investigators found no evidence of involvement by others.

    Apparently, somewhere between two and six ballots were allegedly altered:
    A Clackamas County grand jury indicted her Wednesday on two counts each of unlawfully altering a cast ballot, unlawfully voting more than once and first-degree official misconduct.
    Authorities previously said on Nov. 6 -- Election Day -- that six suspect ballots had been identified.

    Random acts of kindness (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 02:09:37 AM EST
    NEW YORK (AP) -- A Missouri man posing as "Secret Santa" is giving away $100,000 this holiday season and spent a day in New Jersey and New York giving money to people robbed of their belongings or homes by Superstorm Sandy.
    He said he is setting an example and hopes others will follow.

    Keeping close watch over the cash handouts was his security entourage -- police officers in uniform from New York and New Jersey, plus FBI agents. Some wore red caps marked with the word "elf." link

    Nice one... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:22:47 PM EST
    related season of giving story...the cop who bought the homeless guy a pair of shoes.  

    Nobody more down on the police than me, so nice to see at least one who actually serves and protects in such a selfless loving way.  Usually such a man would be harassed by those sworn to serve, not served.

    Larry DePrimo, Officer of The Year. Lock it up!


    Of the two stories (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:45:01 PM EST
    I have to vote for the the cop who bought the homeless guy a pair of shoes as the best. The shoes and socks were over $75.00.

    With the pittance.. (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:09:59 PM EST
    they pay young beat cops, &75 is a big chunk of change...such a beautiful reminder of the good in people, we can always use those MO!

    I'm glad that even with your suspicion of cops (none / 0) (#18)
    by Slayersrezo on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 03:38:32 PM EST
    You've bothered to learn enough about them to know their working conditions aren't all peaches and cream and that they usually aren't paid more than any other working schmoe.

    Good job, Kdog.


    The median pay (none / 0) (#21)
    by MKS on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:04:17 AM EST
     for Sheriff Deputies in my neighborhood, with overtime, was reported a couple of years ago to be in excess of six figures.

    Just ask Oculus.


    I made a mistake on Nov. 6 (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 11:48:23 AM EST
    Even increasing the margin of Atkin's loss was not worth voting for my sweet Claire.

    U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill wants a deal that cuts projected federal deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and she's not too particular about the details as long as the plan is realistic and doesn't put off tough decisions.

    In a news conference yesterday, the Missouri Democrat said any deal needs to bring together tax increases, spending cuts and changes to federal entitlement programs to generate savings.

    Beyond those principles, everything else is negotiable except raising the retirement age for Social Security, she said. link

    Let's see she doesn't care what the details of deal are just so a deal is cut. Unfortunately, I don't think she will step down so that someone who cares what ordinary people will have to sacrifice could vote on any changes.

    Oh boy, (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by KeysDan on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:30:40 PM EST
    The Republicans do not need facts, and the Democrats do not need details.   A marriage made in heaven--I pronounce us, $crewed.

    Yep (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:35:24 PM EST
    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 01:46:53 PM EST
    Although Todd Akin would have been much, much worse.
    But still, I see very, very few politicians who care about what ordinary people would have to sacrifice (and are sacrificing, for that matter).  This does not surprise me from the current crop of Republicans, but it fills me with absolute dismay coming from the Democrats.
    I just have a real feeling that there will be "changes" to Social Security and Medicare that will not be good for seniors.  Seniors who have paid into the system for their entire working lives.  Yes, dammit, they are "entitled" to those benefits, because they have contributed to the system for a long, long time.  I wish that the word "entitlements" did not have such a pejorative connotation.
    Of course, I would raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security withholding, and raise the top marginal rate on income tax way back to what it was under Nixon, if not before.  And I would listen to economists such as Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, who say that now is not the time to drastically cut federal spending, not with the economy still the way it is.
    But that's just me, the eternal leftie.  I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me.  Quite some time ago.   :-(

    ABG has provided us with an (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by MO Blue on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 02:15:55 PM EST
    explanation on why there are "very, very few politicians who care about what ordinary people would have to sacrifice (and are sacrificing, for that matter)". They are in just too much pain. :o(

    By "hurt" I meant that the concessions on each side will strike at the heart of their core beliefs. For the GOP to agree to tax increases will be ideologically painful and go against what they believe is the best way to help the country.

    We, on the other hand, must be willing to suffer the pain of abandoning our core beliefs along with the benefits we paid for and need all for the greater glory of Obama.  

    Also, we must discuss these proposals at a philosophical level rather than the real world impact because   "... these discussions become difficult to have if we are talking on that level."


    Oh, give me (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Zorba on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 03:08:20 PM EST
    a f*cking break.  I do not pay any attention to his opinions, although he is certainly entitled to them.  As are we all.  I just cannot continue to support a Democratic Party which has moved farther and farther to the right.  Just because they are "Democrats" does not mean that I have to await their breathless pronouncements and support them, no matter what.
    I do wonder what a lot of voters would think if, instead of being fed the propaganda of Fox Noise, or the pablum of the current Democratic Party, they would be exposed to the reality, and would be given educated, reasoned opinions.  OTOH, I also think that way too many voters in this country are just too unwilling, or unable, to truly look at every side and make reasonable, informed decisions.
    {{Sigh}}  Unfortunately, I do not see this happening, at least in my lifetime.  

    Actually (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by christinep on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 05:32:54 PM EST
    The "entitlements" discussion may have started turning a bit differently than the Repubs might have envisioned.  Case in point: Boehner is being asked by some in the press to specify what "entitlements" he would cut/reform.  Imagine, a question germane to the whole economic situation may actually have been asked.  Not answered, of course; but, asked.

    It could actually be that IF the question doesn't get submerged, the reality of what the Repubs want cut/lopped off (& have for a long time)may reach near-headline level.  Boehner's reference today to an its-in-our-budget won't even play as a semi-dodge.

    Seriously...so long as the focus moves toward highlighting in public what Boehner et al would pulverize, then things might bode better than initially portrayed.  We'll just have to see if the WH will continue to say "you go first, Boehner...tell us all what you want to do with or to Medicare, etc."  That seems to be what is going on now; & the question is whether the WH will increase that public pressure?

    Ever optimistic me!


    Obama's current offer (none / 0) (#20)
    by MKS on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:52:58 AM EST
    has no changes to Medicare or Social Security.  

    Almost every Democrat has said Social Security is off the table.  Medicare costs do create long run financing problems but how you deal with them is open to a lot of different solutions.

    It is unclear where this will end, but right now the negotiations look good....


    Obama and the Dems plan to make those changes (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by MO Blue on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:13:25 AM EST
    next year as part of the Grand Bargain.

    President Obama is seeking an Aug. 1 deadline for overhauling the tax code and making changes to expensive federal health programs, the final pieces of what the administration conceives as a far-reaching plan to rein in the national debt, senior administration officials said Friday.
    To ensure that Congress acts by Aug. 1, Obama is proposing to delay automatic spending cuts only through that date. The so-called sequester would then act as a new trigger to force congressional action. link

    The American public will be continually bombarded with "the sky is falling" until Obama gets his Grand Bargain.


    Personally, I would (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Amiss on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:31:28 PM EST
    Like to see some other cuts, such as DoD, DEA, DoJ, etc. Any cuts that are NOT SS or Medicare/Medicaid.