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Sunday Open Thread

Is anyone going maskless here?

I used to say about Wordperfect that they'd have to pry it out of my dead hand before I changed to Microsoft Word. That's how I feel about my mask. I'm still going to wear it and I won't be shopping at any grocery store or butcher where either the employees or customers are not masked.

As for restaurants: Just the thought of an unmasked worker handling my food and breathing over convinces me it's not time to eat at an indoor or outdoor restaurant yet.

With the large numbers of law enforcement and prison guards refusing to take the vaccine, and the government claiming they don't have the right to demand they get one, I'm not feeling any safer today than I did two weeks ago or a month ago. [More...]

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Liz Cheney Ousted as Party Leader

The House of Representatives today held a vote on Liz Cheney and she has been removed as House Republican Conference chair

which is considered to be the third most important Republican position in the House.

Donald Trump was happy, calling her "a poor leader, a major Democrat talking point, a warmonger, and a person with absolutely no personality or heart.”

He did get one right: warmonger.

I don't understand why Democrats and progressives are flocking to defend Liz Cheney. Liz Cheney holds the same beliefs as her father, Dick Cheney. See Maureen Dowd's column this week, on the similarity of beliefs held by Cheney and her father. I'm with Dowd on this.

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Bill and Melinda Gates Announce Divorce

Bill and Melinda Gates have announced they are getting a divorce. Both their twitter feeds have the same message. They say they will continue their work together at the Gates foundation, but won't continue to work together as a couple.

The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth nearly $50 billion. It has focused on global health and development and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000.

Melinda Gates has been heavily involved in gender equality initiatives in the past few years. Maybe she wants to start her own foundation. Given they are announcing a divorce, not a separation, I suspect they have already settled their financial affairs.

It may be the largest divorce settlement in history, since they are reportedly worth $150 billion. I found this part of their announcement curious:

‘We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives

They've been married for 27 years. What kind of continued growth as a couple were they expecting? [More...]

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Did Rudy Finally Strike Out?

Rudy Giuliani is playing dumb. He feigns surprise the FBI didn't want his hard drives with Hunter Biden's material.

As if he doesn't know the FBI is investigating his activities, not Hunter's, regarding the Ukraine.

The FBI warned him and the Trump Administration that Rudy was the target of a Russian disinformation campaign to influence the election. Update: The Washington Post and NYTimes have now retracted the allegation that Rudy was formally warned by the FBI. [More...]

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Oscars: Sad Movies for a Sad Year

The Oscars will begin shortly.

There will be no host, no audience, nor face masks for nominees attending the ceremony at Los Angeles' Union Station - this year's hub for a show usually broadcast from the Dolby Theatre.

Steven Soderbergh is in charge this year:

The Oscars will look more like a movie, Soderbergh has said. The show will be shot in 24 frames-per-second (as opposed to 30), appear more widescreen and the presenters - including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya - are considered "cast members." The telecast's first 90 seconds, Soderbergh has claimed, will "announce our intention immediately."

It may be a landmark year for diversity but I agree with Bill Maher - the movies are just so sad.

Then again, it was a sad year all the way around.

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Derek Chauvin Convicted On All Counts

Justice for George Floyd!
Derek Chauvin has been convicted on all three charges.

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Closing Arguments in George Floyd Murder Trial

Both sides gave their closing arguments in the case of Derek Chauvin, who is charged with the murder of George Floyd.

Was it murder?

The prosecutor reminded jurors that Floyd said "I can't breathe" 27 times in the first 4 minutes and 45 seconds of this encounter. He also said "9 minutes and 29 seconds" all throughout his presentation, reminding jurors of the length of time that Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement.

"Was George Floyd resisting when he was trying to breathe? No," he said, adding that Chauvin chose to mock Floyd by saving, "It takes a lot of oxygen to complain."

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The prosecutor told the jury all the state had to prove was the Chauvin did it on purpose: [More...]

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Johnson and Johnson Vaccine "Paused" in U.S.

Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 have been afflicted with a blood clotting disorder within three weeks of taking the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. One died, one is in critical condition in the hospital. While that's a tiny number of the 9 million people in America who have received the vaccine, the government is concerned enough to put a "pause" on the vaccine until they know more.

Scientists with the F.D.A. and C.D.C. will jointly examine possible links between the vaccine and the disorder and determine whether the F.D.A. should continue to authorize use of the vaccine for all adults or modify the authorization, possibly limiting it to certain population groups. An emergency meeting of the C.D.C.’s outside vaccine advisory committee has been scheduled for Wednesday.

What population group would you exclude? Females between 18 and 48? [More...]

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Tuesday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full, time for a new one.

The trial of police officer Derek Chauvin is winding down. Judging from the reporting, it seems like the defense is going to have a hard time selling that George Floyd died of drugs and heart problems given the multiple experts called by the prosecution. The Judge expects the jury to get the case Monday, and they will be sequestered.

Nelson is presenting two key arguments. He says that whatever actions Chauvin took were reasonable and followed his training as a police officer, and that in any case those actions are not what killed Floyd.

“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career. The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing,” he told the jury.


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Happy Passover and Open Thread

To those of you attending seders this week for Pesach (Passover), enjoy. I made Matzoh Brei for breadfast, and will have matzoh ball soup for dinner, but I'm not willing to be in a room full of people I haven't seen in a year to do a live seder. Zoom doesn't do much for me either, so I'll take a pass.

Stay safe out there, and don't believe the hype that this virus is on its way out. This Wall St. Journal article about the P.1 variant that's overtaken Brazil is very scary. The Lancet has more on the P.1 variant and Manaus.

Maine got its first case 2 days ago. It is also in New York. [More...]

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Thursday Night Open Thread

Seriously, Joe Biden intends to seek a second term? Who is he kidding? Trump's kids must be screaming with delight, thinking it's their turn next.

Politics has been completely boring lately. I think it's to be expected after four years of living on the edge of our seats and not knowing whether we'd live another year -- as a country or individually.

I had court this morning and the Judge wasn't wearing a mask. The only people in the courtroom were his clerk, 2 U.S. Marshals and me and my client (all masked). (The prosecutor and court reporter appeared by video). At one point he said the risk wasn't too big since all of us had probably gotten at least one vaccination dose. [More...]

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Ahmad Alissi's First Court Hearing

My condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in and outside King Soopers in Boulder this week.

Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, age 21, will be told today that he is facing 9 counts of First Degree Murder -- After Deliberation; 1 count of First Degree Murder of a Police Officer and 1 count of Attempted First Degree Murder of a Police Officer.

He will be represented by members of Boulder's excellent Public Defender's office. The two defenders filing his pleadings are Kathryn Herrold and Samuel Dunn. (I assume they will be the ones who appear in court.)

The DA filed the case directly in District Court so there will be no county court judge. District Court Judge Thomas Mulvahill will handle all proceedings. He's held that position since 2009. Before then, he was a criminal defense lawyer in private practice. [More...]

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Waiting for the Snowpocalypse and Open Thread

The news in Colorado all week has been dominated by the massive and "historic" snowstorm expected to hit the state this weekend. At 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, downtown Denver has yet to see a single snowflake. I won't be surprised if it passes right over Denver and hits Ft Collins or Greely on its way north to Cheyenne.

I'll be upset if that happens. I want my Snowpocalypse. I braved the grocery and liquor stores Thursday where goods and foods and bottles of beverages were flying off the shelves faster than the employees could restock them. I got sucked into the mindset of the masses, stocking up on things I'll never use unless there's a big storm like flashlights, candles, an extra blanket. You better believe I want my snow storm. [More...]

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Andrew Cuomo: Sorry but He Will Not Resign

Andrew Cuomo today said he's sorry he made anyone feel uncomfortable but he won't resign.

Good for him. He should not resign. This piling on of accusations from years past with automatic acceptance of the accusers' allegations is simply wrong. This country was founded on the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Andrew Cuomo is not alleged to have physically assaulted anyone. It's not alleged that he threatened to use or used physical "force" against anyone with the intent of causing them physical injury. He's alleged to have used a "pattern of words and actions that have...made three women who are decades his junior feel deeply uncomfortable, in their collective telling."

By today's moral standards, if true, his words and actions constitutes sexual harassment. By legal standards, it might or might not constitute an actionable civil claim for damages or is unlikely to be a basis for criminal prosecution. (Personally, I think it should be neither, but I don't make the laws, I just defend people charged with breaking them.) [More...]

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Capitol Threat for Thursday: House Cancels Sessions

Due to the threat of a new assault at the Capitol for tommorrow, the House of Representatives has canceled its planned sessions.

Leaving nothing to chance, House leaders on Wednesday abruptly moved a vote on policing legislation from Thursday to Wednesday night, so lawmakers could leave town, according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the planning.

The Capitol Police issued a release that says:

“We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,” the force said in a statement. “We are taking the intelligence seriously.”

Runaway is the new policy for responding to terror threats? That's not a sign of strength.

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