Friday Open Thread

Time for a new open thread. Is anyone besides me following the Genaro Garcia Luna trial in Brooklyn? Or the capture of Ovidio Guzman in Mexico? Or watching the new Season 8 of El Senor de los Cielos on Telemundo?

Whether you are or aren't, that's okay. All topics welcome.

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Alec Baldwin Charged in "Rust" Shooting Death

The District Attorney's office in Santa Fe has concluded its investigation into the shooting death that occurred during the filming of the movie "Rust".

Alec Baldwin and the film's armorer, Hannah Guiterrez-Reed, who was in charge of handling guns and ammunition on the set are being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The first assistant director, Dave Hall, who handed the weapon to Baldwin declaring it safe, took a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to "negligent use of a deadly weapon" in exchange for a suspended sentence and probation. [More...]

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Weisselberg Sentenced to Five Months at Rikers

Former CFO of Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, age 75, who has worked for the company since the days of Fred Trump, was sentenced today to 5 months at Rikers. He was taken into custody after the sentencing.

Prosecutors were satisfied with his cooperating testimony, even though he refused to turn against Donald Trump. So even though he pleaded guilty to 15 charges, they recommended the 5 month sentence. The judge said had he known before the extent of the fraud, he might not have agreed to such a light sentence.

The bigger benefit from Weisselberg's point of view is that by pleading guilty, his son, who also received untaxed benefits including a luxury apartment at a Trump Org. building, two leased Mercedes-Benzes and private school tuition for his kids, didn't get charged. Weisselberg's attorneys wrote about the threat in an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the case before he turned.

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Why Can't Kevin McCarthy Take a Hint and Move On?

Sometimes in life, you try out for something and don't get it. Sometimes, you get up and try again. And maybe even a third time.

But when you fail at something as many times as Kevin McCarthy has failed to get the votes to make him Speaker of the House, doesn't there come a point when you figure out this isn't for you and you should just dust yourself off and move on?

When you fail so many times at being elected to the same position, at what point does a reasonable person acknowledge the constituency doesn't want him? And that even should he win on the 5th or 6th try, he'll never be viewed as a leader or with respect from either side? He'll only be viewed as divisive.

Republicans don't need Kevin McCarthy, and America needs him even less. It's time for him to bow out.

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College Admissions Fraud Leader Rick Singer Sentenced to 42 Months

Rick Singer, the Pied Piper behind "Varsity Blues", the Government investigation into rich parents paying Singer , his company and even athletic coaches at colleges for tricks to ensure their kids got into certain impressive colleges they knew their kids were likely to be rejected at if they applied the traditional way, was sentenced today to 3.5 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $10,668,841 to the IRS and forfeit another $8.7 million. The Government had sought a sentence of 6 years.

According to the NYTimes article, the Government wrote in its sentencing memo that Singer "was a reluctant and duplicitous cooperator who destroyed evidence and tipped off at least six clients. As a result, the government did not call him as a witness at trial." [More...]

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Happy New Year and Open Thread

Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and joyous New Year!

Here is a collection of photos from CNN of New Years' celebrations around the world.

This one from Wuhan, China just takes the cake, given the resurgence in China after it dropped its zero-covid policy in early December.

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Hello Sunshine, Goodby Freezing Temps: Open Thread

Thank goodness the freezing cold has passed us and the roads are now drivable. For those who are waiting for the icy weather to reach them, be prepared. It is really cold out there.

Today will be my first day outside in about 4 days. I'll be back after I make my rounds.

It is also Christmas Eve. Merry Xmas Eve, to all who observe.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Congress Deleted Free PACER From Spending Bill, OKs Solar Aid to Mexico

This is like a joke. A $1.66 trillion spending measure was unveiled on Tuesday. It deletes the provision that would have provided the public with free access to federal court records. While Mexico announces the U.S. has agreed to provide it low-interest loans to invest in solar energy.

I spend hundreds of dollars a month on PACER, much of which is to ensure my historical and present facts are correct in writing TalkLeft. I use Lexis for my law practice. Public records are public and should be retrievable by all of us at no cost. (Colorado's efiling system is even worse -- it costs $15.00 just to look at a particular case docket if you aren't counsel of record.)

Joe Biden needs to turn around his thinking cap and stop the endless money going around the world, especially for war and the war on drugs. People here are in need as well, of everything from more pay to teachers, more access to health care and taking better care of our senior citizens.

Please Joe Biden, don't run again. Your noggin' just can't do this. We don't need a country run by your surrogates. We should have a real leader..

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Harvey Weinstein Convicted of Assaulting One of Four Accusers

A California jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty on 3 of the 7 counts against him. All three counts pertained to a "Jane Doe #1", an Italian model who testified Mr. Weinstein attacked her in her hotel room at the "Mr. C Hotel" in February 2013. Here's a recap of Jane Doe #1's testimony and her daughter's testimony .

The jury acquitted Weinstein of sexual battery as to Jane Doe 3, a massage therapist, and hung on counts of sexual battery by restraint pertaining to Jane Doe 2, who has been publicly identified as Lauren Young, an actress and screenwriter.

The jury also hung on three counts, pertaining to Siebel Newsom (wife of CA. Gov. Gavin Newsom), who alleged Weinstein raped her at the Peninsula Hotel 18 years ago. During the trial she testified:

 “I could tell he just needed, he was so determined, just so scary, just all about him and his pleasure, his need for satisfaction, so I just did it to make it stop,” Siebel Newsom told the jury.


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Trump Referred for Criminal Prosecution For July 6 Events

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol has concluded its investigation and released its report.

The Committee referred Donald Trump to the Justice Department for prosecution of four crimes.

You can read the 154 page executive summary here.

Shorter version:

The central cause of of January 6th was one man, ...Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.

In response, Trump called the Committee a "Kangaroo Court". The four counts of referral are:[More...]

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Saturday Open Thread: Who Really Cares?

I think the media has traded Donald Trump for Elon Musk. Why can't the media focus on what informed members of the public care about, instead of incessantly repeating stuff that doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the real world?

Does anyone (other than individual and corporate investors) really care about the future of Twitter or Tesla? Or, for that matter, Google or Microsoft?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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U.S. Finally Swaps Viktor Bout for Brittany Griner

Brittany Griner is back in the U.S. and Viktor Bout is back home in Russia, 14 years after the U.S. engineered his arrest in Thailand and extradition to the U.S. as part of a sting operation in which DEA informants posed as FARC rebels.

Mr. Bout was sentenced to 25 years in jail in a federal court in Manhattan in 2012, protesting his innocence to the end. Prior to that he spent around two years in detention in Bangkok pending extradition to the U.S., and then a further two years in detention in America before he was convicted.

Even former Judge Shira Scheindlin, who sentenced
Bout, said last year Bout's sentence was excessive:

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Trump Family Business Convicted on All Counts

The Trump Organization was convicted by a New York jury on all 17 counts of fraud (tax fraud and a scheme to defraud), conspiracy and falsifying business records.

Shorter version: The jury didn't believe Alan Weisselberg acted only for his own enrichment. They believed that he also acted to benefit the Trump Organization.

Remember Michael Cohen? I heard him on the car radio last week on MSNBC and he said what the Trump Org. and Weisselberg were doing is called "Grossing Up". He thought it was a theory that might appeal to the jury. In essence, by paying bonuses to Weisselberg and sons in real property, like apartments in Trump-owned buildings, instead of increasing their salaries on which the company would have to pay payroll taxes, the Trump Organization saved big on taxes. (Same for paying for private school tuition for the Weisselberg grandkids and for new expensive cars every year)[More...]

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War on Pain Meds Leads Man and Wife to Suicide

The mainstream press sells the DEA's story: Opioid deaths and suicides are up among seniors. Time to rachet up the war on pain doctors.

That misses the point, of course, which is why? VICE News gets it right in This Couple Died by Suicide After the DEA Shut Down Their Pain Doctor. Millions of people live in chronic pain, and only strong opioids, including fentanyl patches prescribed by their doctors, brings them down from a pain scale of 10 to something livable, like a 5.

There are millions of chronic pain patients suffering just like me," Danny Elliott wrote before ending his life. "Nobody cares."

It's the war on pain doctors that needs to end, so they can exercise their judgment without fear of intimidation. Prosecutors, legislators and drug agents don't have medical licenses. They shouldn't be making one size fits all rules for what type of pain medicine and how much of it a chronically ill patient is allowed to have.

Just like with lethal injection, you wouldn't do a dog this way. Chronic pain kills. It killed Prince. Leave the pain doctors treating seniors and others with chronic pain alone.

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Happy Thanksgiving and Open Thread

I hope your holiday is filled with great food and spirits, warmth and pleasant company.

I think that there actually are a few things we can be thankful for this year -- but we are not yet out of the woods: The good news is the narcissist who posed the biggest threat to our democracy in the last century (at least) has slipped to the back-burner and faces legal hurdles at every turn, from his removal of documents from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his or his legal team's attempts to overturn the 2020 election, especially in Georgia, troubles over his and his corporation's taxes, a pending civil lawsuit for sexual assault, and probably more.

More good news is that vaccines and new COVID treatments have lessened the likelihood of severe illness and death the past several months. [More...]


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