Thursday :: March 30, 2023

Donald Trump Indicted by NYS Grand Jury

And there you have it. An honest to goodness Indictment has been returned by a New York State grand jury investigating Donald Trump's finances and the reimbursement of the hush money payment Michael Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels on his behalf.

Donald Trump is presumed innocent. No one knows the exact charges. I've heard reports of two charges and of 34 charges, but these are just leaks.

He is expected to surrender to the DA's office on Tuesday, where he will have his mugshot and fingerprints taken, and then appear before a judge and be released on a personal recognizance bond.

One Indictment down, two to go? Grand jury investigations of Trump have been ongoing in the state of Georgia and at the federal level over the Jan. 6 uprising at the Capitol. [More....]

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Sunday :: March 19, 2023

Trump Says He Will Be Arrested Tuesday

Last week, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified twice before the state grand jury (free link) and Stormy Daniels, the former adult film star, met with state prosecutors in New York. The grand jury is investigating Trump over a payment Cohen allegedly paid Daniels to keep quiet about a one-night sexcapade Daniels claims she had with Trump in 2006. (Trump married Melania in 2005 and Barron Trump was born in 2006).

Today, Donald Trump announced on his social media site that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday. He called on his supporters to protest and "take our nation back." [More...]

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Sunday :: March 12, 2023

Sunday Night Music and Open Thread

Incredible performance by Shakira (with BZRP) on the Tonight Show last week. I've never seen a late night TV show audience so engaged in the song that they know every word and move in Spanish. (It's her "swan song" to her long- time partner/father of her kids, the soccer player Pique, who cheated on her with a much younger female, and who is not helping her with her tax evasion case pending in Spain). It is the number one song globally.

Click on the bottom right corner of the video to view it in full size. You can also click the "cc" button to read the lyrics in English, you won't want to miss them. She has created a "sisterhood", not just a lot of fans with this one.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Oscars Red Carpet is On

Was "the Slap" really only a year ago? Yes.
Am I glad Jimmy Kimmel is back as host? Yes. (He sounds like he has a cold).
Have I seen the movies up for awards? No, but I never do ahead of time.

Are the Oscars over-indulgent? Yes. Have they diversified? Yes, but they're not there yet.
Is there a reason to watch? Yes. Fashion, hair, jewels and the true joy on the face of that actor or ensemble that didn't expect to win but did.

Glenn Close had to cancel her appearance because she came down with COVID. Lady Gaga will be appearing after all.

Here's a place to talk about the Oscars.

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Thursday :: March 02, 2023

Move Over Supermax, You've Got Competition

El Salvador, whose President suspended civil rights last March 27 and had 60,000 alleged members of MS-13 and other gangs arrested (no probable cause needed), proudly showed off to the world last week its newest creation --the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism, a concrete prison built in the middle of nowhere that will house 40,000 gang members. The first 2,000 moved into last week. The videos are deplorable to anyone with a belief that human beings must be treated as such, and not as caged animals.

For El Salvador, there will be no rehabilitation programs. Forced labor. No outside cell activities. No gyms, no classes. No going outdoors. No seeing the sun.

The enormous prison, which was built in 7 months, is now the largest and most severe on American continents. [More...]

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Thursday Open Thread: Coming Up for Air

February was short and busy. I followed the trial of Genaro Garcia-Luna and the temporary amparos against extradition given to Ovidio Guzman-Loera, which lasted until last week when Mexico timely received the formal U.S. request for extradition. Now he will start the appeals process, from inside the prison in Almaloya where he has been held since his arrest in in January, 2023.

Closing arguments just finished in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial. You can watch here. There will be an hour and 1/4 break and the Judge will come back to instruct the jury. If you've been following the trial, please listen to the instructions before making up your mind.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: February 07, 2023

State of the Union 2023: "Let's Finish the Job"

Update: I think this might have been Biden's best speech. I watched almost all of it, changing the channel only when he started talking about crime, fentanyl and the border, to keep my blood pressure in check. He actually seemed real, likeable, and sincere for minutes at a time.

He was so energized. At first I wondered if he had received a B-12 shot this afternoon, but he seemed as happy as he was energized, so I decided probably not. I think he practiced a lot, had a very good speechwriter, stuck to the script with a minimum of ad-libbing, and was enthused talking about his accomplishments. After he got away with his trick of baiting the handful of radical far-right Congresspersons in the audience over Medicare and Social Security, there was no stopping him. It was like watching a comedian who is tickled pink when he makes his audience laugh for the first time.

*Original Post*:

Joe Biden will deliver his State of the Union address tonight. You can watch everywhere. This is the transcript of his speech as prepared. [More...]

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Friday :: January 27, 2023

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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Thursday :: January 19, 2023

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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Tuesday :: January 10, 2023

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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Wednesday :: January 04, 2023

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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