Thursday Reads

judgegavel

Good Morning!!

There’s been quite a bit of legal and courthouse news this week, so I’m going to focus on that today.

Yesterday was a big day at the Boston Federal Courthouse as the Whitey Bulger trial was briefly eclipsed by the first court appearance of Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. From The Boston Globe:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shuffled into the courtroom, appearing confident despite the ankle chains and an orange jumpsuit so big on him that it made him appear younger than his 19 years.

As federal prosecutors read the charges against him Wednesday in his first appearance since being captured in April, Tsarnaev repeatedly looked over his shoulder at the packed courtroom, at one point blowing a kiss to his sisters, one sobbing and another holding a baby.

He leaned into the microphone in the hushed courtroom to tell Judge Marianne B. Bowler with an accent that he pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, including use of weapons of mass destruction. More than 30 victims of the Marathon bombings and about a dozen supporters who say they believe Tsarnaev is innocent watched intently as the accused terrorist yawned and stroked the side of his face, which appeared swollen from a wound.

Tsarnaev, who could receive the death penalty, fidgeted in his seat as he listened to the charges, one of his attorneys patting him on the back gently several times. He had a visible scar just below his throat and had a cast on his left arm.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

ABC News talked to survivors of the April 15 bombings who showed up to watch Tsarnaev’s court appearance.

Friends and family members of people whose lives were shattered when two homemade bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 packed three rooms in a federal courthouse on Wednesday as suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to a 30-count indictment.

But the fleeting courtroom encounter brought little relief to Bostonians who said the 19-year-old —accused of conducting the deadly bombings with the help of his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev —showed little feeling.

“He came out and he smirked at the families,” said Ed Fucarile, 64, outside of the John Joseph Moakley federal courthouse along the water in South Boston. “The lawyers put their hands on his shoulders like it was going to be all right.”

Fucarile wore a Boston Strong t-shirt with the name of Marc Fucarile, his son who lost his right leg and still carries shrapnel in his body, the father said.

Marc Fucarile, 34, was standing near the second blast when it went off. He still has more surgeries to go, and has spent every day of the nearly three months since receiving medical care, his father said. Members of the family have taken weeks off work so that someone is always at Marc’s bedside, he said.

Read more survivors’ stories at the link.

Bulger defense team: J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan

Bulger defense team: J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan

At the Whitey Bulger trial, there was a bit of comic relief as Bulger flew into a rage toward the end of testimony and exchanged curses with his former close friend and partner Kevin Weeks. It was reminiscent of a scene from Sopranos.

Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, tried to portray Weeks as an opportunist who knew how to manipulate the system, someone who cut a deal with prosecutors to serve just five years in prison for aiding and abetting five killings, several of which, Weeks testified, he saw Bulger commit.

“You won against the system,” said Carney.

“What did I win? What did I win,” Weeks said, his voice sounding strained and tired. “Five people are dead.”

Asked whether that bothered him, Weeks shot back, “We killed people that were rats, and I had the two biggest rats right next to me …”

At that, Bulger turned and hissed, “You suck.”

“F— you, OK,” snapped Weeks.

“F— you, too,” shouted Bulger as the jury watched.

“What do you want to do?” said Weeks, his eyes locked on Bulger, who was flushed and staring right back.

At one point Weeks even threatened Carney, asking him if he’d like to step outside.

Weeks grew belligerent and threatening as Carney accused him of lying, challenged his motivation for cooperating, and suggested that Weeks, not Bulger, was a rat.

“You can’t rat on a rat,” said Weeks, adding that he lives in South Boston and walks the streets without being called a rat.

When Carney asked Weeks what he would do if someone did call him a rat, Weeks snapped that if he stepped outside the courthouse he’d show him.

James Bulger and Kevin Weeks

James Bulger and Kevin Weeks

Yesterday the testimony was even more grotesque and sickening, as forensic expert Ann Marie Mires testified about remains of murder victims Arthur Barrett, Deborah Hussey, John McIntyre, and Paul J. McGonagle. I’ll spare you the descriptions; you can go to the links and read more if you’re interested.

This morning  Carney asked the judge for a break in the testimony so the defense team could catch up.

The defense team for James “Whitey” Bulger is asking the judge to suspend testimony until next week so they can catch up on evidence.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney filed the motion with the court on Thursday.

“Simply put, the defendant’s counsel have hit a wall, and are unable to proceed further without additional time to prepare for upcoming witnesses,” the motion reads. “Counsel have struggled mightily to be ready for each day of the trial since it began on June 3, 2013, working seven days a week and extraordinarily long hours.” [....]

“A major problem has been the delay in the receipt of discovery from the prosecution,” the motion reads, citing examples of receiving binders of documents pertaining to testimony to be given by witnesses the evening before they take the stand.

Yesterday defense teams rested in both the Bradley Manning and the George Zimmerman trials.

From the Guardian via Raw Story: Bradley Manning defense rests its case after calling just 10 witnesses

130710-manning-hmed-418p.photoblog600

Having called just 10 witnesses over the space of three days, the defence phase of the trial was brought to a close far quicker than expected. The defence had indicated in earlier hearings that it intended to call more than 40 witnesses, although many may yet still be presented in court during the post-verdict sentencing stage of the court martial.

By contrast, the prosecution took 14 days to make its case, drawing on 80 witnesses.

On Wednesday, the defence team lead by the civilian lawyer David Coombs, focused its attentions on the most serious charge facing the Army private – that he “aided the enemy” by transmitting information to WikiLeaks knowing that it would be accessible to enemy groups notably al-Qaida. Manning faces a possible sentence of life in military custody with no chance of parole under this single charge.

The final defence witness called, the Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, delivered blistering testimony in which he portrayed WikiLeaks as a legitimate web-based journalistic organisation. He also warned the judge presiding in the case, Colonel Denise Lind, that if the “aiding the enemy” charge was interpreted broadly to suggest that handing information to a website that could be read by anyone with access to the internet was the equivalent of handing to the enemy, then that serious criminal accusation could be levelled against all media outlets that published on the web.

Prosecutor John Guy with dummy

Prosecutor John Guy with dummy

Yesterday was quite a theatrical one in the Zimmerman trial, as a mannequin was brought into court and both a prosecutor and defense attorney Mark O’Mara got down on the floor and straddled the dummy in effort to act out what might have happened during an alleged altercation between Zimmerman and his victim Trayvon Martin.

As professional images go, what followed in the courtroom was probably not something for which Mark O’Mara would most like to be remembered.

Hitching up his pant legs and straddling a life-size human mannequin, Zimmerman’s lead defense counsel got down and dirty on the courtroom floor and proceeded to demonstrate for jurors the “ground and pound” move that they have been told Martin exerted on the accused.

Coming a day after he encouraged one of his witnesses, gym owner and mixed martial arts trainer Adam Pollack, to “step down from the stand to give me an example of a mounted position,” prostrating himself on the floor and asking Pollack, “Where do you want me?” the episode made for an awkward role play, leaving court observers snickering and biting their lips in the midst of an otherwise tragic plot.

Earlier in the day, prosecutor John Guy—described by one public observer in the courtroom on the trial’s opening day as “the supermodel of attorneys”—had also hopped on the mannequin for a similar demonstration in front of the all-female jury.

Don West and George Zimmerman

Don West and George Zimmerman

Later Judge Debra Nelson had a “testy exchange” with defense attorney Don West as she asked Zimmerman whether he planned to take the stand. Zimmerman seemed unsure, and West tried to step in.

West repeatedly challenged Nelson’s decision to press Zimmerman for a clear answer. The judge repeatedly slapped him down, her voice gathering volume every time.

“The court is entitled to ask Mr. Zimmerman about his determination as to whether he wants to testify,” Nelson insisted tersely after West objected to her line of questioning.

She looked back at Zimmerman: “How long do you think you need before you make that decision?” she inquired again, as the defendant—who had a minute earlier been made to raise his hand and swear under oath that any decision whether to testify would be his—turned to his counsel for help.

“I object to the court inquiring of Zimmerman about his intention to testify,” West whimpered for a second time.

“I object to the court inquiring of Zimmerman about his intention to testify,” West whimpered for a second time.

“And I have O-VER-RULED” Judge Nelson spat back—several times—as the objections kept coming.

Finally Zimmerman haltingly said he did not want to testify. I think he actually wanted to–if only. What a disaster that would have been for his attorneys! Closing arguments are scheduled to begin this afternoon.

In other news, I can’t resist sharing this article from Time Magazine about what former Russian spies think is probably happening to Edward Snowden in Russia.

In the summer of 1985, KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky was called back to Moscow from the Soviet embassy in London, where he was serving as a resident spy. As a pretext, his commanders told him that he was going to receive an award for his service. But in fact the KGB suspected him of being a double agent — which he was — and they were looking to interrogate him. So upon his arrival, his KGB colleagues, still concealing their suspicions, took him to a comfortable country estate in the suburbs of the Russian capital, much like the one where Gordievsky and other former spies believe Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, has spent the past few weeks….

The official story coming from the Russian government since then is that Snowden has been holed up in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, waiting for some third country to grant him asylum. But few experts or officials in Moscow still believe that to be true. The accepted wisdom, unofficially acknowledged by most Western and Russian sources, is that Snowden was taken soon after his arrival — if not immediately — to a secure location run by some arm of the Russian government.

Putin wink

Experts and former spies who have dealt with the Russian security services are sure that agents would want to get the encryption keys to the data stored on Snowden’s four laptops. The only way to do that would be to get Snowden to give them up.

So Gordievsky believes Snowden would have gotten roughly the same treatment that the KGB spy got back in 1985. “They would have fed him something to loosen his tongue,” Gordievsky says by phone from the U.K., where he has been living in exile for nearly three decades. “Many different kinds of drugs are available, as I experienced for myself.” Having been called back to Moscow, Gordievsky says his KGB comrades drugged him with a substance that “turned out his lights” and made him “start talking in a very animated way.” Although the drug wiped out most of his memory of the incident, the parts he did recollect horrified him the following morning, when he woke up feeling ill. “I realized that I had completely compromised myself,” he says.

One of the substances the KGB used for such purposes at the time was called SP-117, which is odorless, tasteless and colorless, according Alexander Kouzminov, a former Russian intelligence operative who describes the drug’s effectiveness in his book, Biological Espionage. Now living in New Zealand, Kouzminov worked in the 1980s and early 1990s for the Foreign Intelligence Service, the spy agency known as the SVR, which handles undercover agents, or “illegals,” stationed in foreign countries. In his book, Kouzminov writes that various drugs were used periodically to test these operatives for signs of disloyalty or diversion. Once the drug had worn off, the agents would have no recollection of what they had said and, if their test results were satisfactory, they could be sent back into the field as though nothing had happened.

Yesterday, Snowden announced through Glenn Greenwald that “I never gave any information to Chinese or Russian governments.”  I guess he assumes that Chinese and Russian officials don’t read The Guardian, The Washington Post, or the South China Morning Post. Anyway now it’s not clear if he would even remember if he gave them anything.

For all you Snowden and Greenwald fans out there, this information comes from an article in Time Magazine based on interviews with people who have actual experience with the ways Russia deals with spies. Don’t shoot the  messenger.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focused on today. Please share you links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!


Wednesday Reads: Flowered Floats and Fiscal Cliffs and Fruitless Lawsuits

3f05186vGood Morning

How did y’all spend your first day of 2013?

Were you watching the fiscal “parley” of enemies down in the swamp?

After seeing what as become Obama’s calling card, his apparent need for approval and for people to “like” him…that makes Obama a shitty negotiator, I could not stand the constant cliff talk on all the news channels.

If, you avoided the news frenzy over the fiscal bunny slope, as Dakinikat calls it, you can read the updates as it happened here. Boston Boomer also posted this link in the comments, you should not miss it:

Political Animal – Obama and the Anxieties of the Financial Meritocracy

Otherwise, you can take a look at the following two articles:

‘Fiscal Cliff’: Congress Passes Compromise to Avert Recession – ABC News

Amid Pressure, House Passes Fiscal Deal – NYTimes.com

(Check out Biden’s grin at that NYT link…he sure is pleased with himself.)

Yesterday was the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade . The still make those floats out of all natural flowers and plants, and even though the Rose Parade commentary can be annoying as hell, I still like to see the pictures of the floats and performers.

FireShot Screen Capture #369 - 'The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade I Jan_ 1, 2013 - Framework - Photos and Video - Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times' - framework_latimes_com_2013_01_01_2013-rose-para

Dole’s “Dreaming of Paradise” float, love the flaming volcano! Click image for more photos of the parade.

This year Dole won the top trophy, the third time in a row…The colors are wonderful and brilliant, way much nicer than the other tropical color we have seen a lot of lately. You know, that tangerine orange skin tone of the big man on the hill.

Blossoming with lush tropical flowers and fresh fruits grown by Dole just for the Rose Parade, the award-winning float “Dreaming of Paradise” honored the independent family farmers from around the world that Dole partners with, and paid tribute to the beauty and bounty of Latin America’s tropical paradise.

The float, which heralded Dole’s mission of being actively involved in the communities of independent family farmers, also served as a reminder that with responsible, sustainable growing and operating practices the dream of paradise can remain alive.

To capture the essence of a tropical landscape, the Dole float featured a 26-foot erupting volcano complete with smoke and real fire shooting 20 feet into the sky over prowling tigers, fluttering butterflies, chimpanzees, parrots, dragonflies and three life-like waterfalls cascading more than 1,000 gallons of recycled water. Fully completing the spirit of Latin America, twenty Costa Rican dancers dressed in traditional costumes performed alongside the exotic and rare flowers from around the world.

That Paradise float is over 22 tons! Ooof!

FireShot Screen Capture #370 - 'The 124th Tournament of Roses Parade I Jan_ 1, 2013 - Framework - Photos and Video - Visual Storytelling from the Los Angeles Times' - framework_latimes_com_2013_01_01_2013-rose-para

This image is also from the parade, you can click that photo of the Korean dancers to see more Rose parade pictures.

Of course, New Year’s Day does not only bring floats of flowers, it also brings plenty of college football. One state university that was nowhere to be seen on any bowl game field was Penn State. Their football program was punished by the NCAA for ignoring the obvious child abuse that was taking place within their “winning” football machine. A punishment that I thought lacked enough oomph in relation to the level of pain and trauma Penn States non-action caused. Well, guess what? The State of Pennsylvania is suing the NCAA. Money is honey and it is all that matters. State of Pennsylvania to file lawsuit against NCAA

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett will announce a federal lawsuit against the NCAA tied to the historic sanctions levied against Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Corbett will hold a press conference on Wednesday morning in State College, Pa., to announce the suit, which will be filed by the state.

Penn State, which has been working in concert with the NCAA since the scandal, is not involved in preparing the suit. It is being handled solely by the state.

Corbett’s office has been vague in regard to the specific aim of the suit, but it appears to be dedicated to the overall sanctions issued by the NCAA in July. Corbett referred to them on Tuesday as “illegal sanctions.”

A wholesale suit against the NCAA by a third party as powerful as the state of Pennsylvania could loom as an important case in testing the ultimate power of the NCAA.

This suit against the NCAA could also have repercussions with any civil cases yet to be brought against Penn State University, as well as, the State of Pennsylvania because PSU is a state-run university.

Another possible suit that floated about news headlines this past week was proposed by the parents of a surviving victim of the Sandy Hook Shooting. However, it required prior approval by the state’s claims commissioner for the lawyer to even file a lawsuit against the state. Though the child’s attorney has withdrawn the request, I still feel it is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

The State of Connecticut has some of the most wealthiest residents in the nation, it also has a law that gives the state sovereign immunity against lawsuits…the only one in the country were only one person has the power to approve a suit brought against the state.  Check this out…for an Attorney to seek permission to sue the State they must first get one man to sign off on it. For a…

…lawsuit to proceed…(you) need a single man in an obscure agency in Hartford to agree — J. Paul Vance Jr., the state’s claims commissioner.

Vance’s power is unparalleled. Connecticut’s system, experts say, is unlike that of any other state.

“From the lawyers I have spoken to in other states, this is not something they have ever heard of,” said David Cooney, immediate past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association.

Seems like this one man is the all powerful Oz when it comes to “who” can hold the state accountable for their actions.

The position, which dates back to the 1970s and is appointed every four years by the governor and Legislature, determines whether many types of claims of damages or injury lodged against state government are “just.”

The commissioner, after reviewing evidence and if necessary, scheduling hearings, can: Approve immediate payment of claims worth $7,500 and under; recommend the General Assembly pay or reject claims over $7,500; and allow lawsuits against Connecticut to proceed.

His decisions can only be appealed to the Legislature.

According to a decade’s worth of reports, the fewest number of claims submitted were 288 in fiscal year 2006-07, with the most — 586 — in 2004-05. Since 2004, an average of two dozen lawsuits have been allowed to proceed each year.

Hey, the state’s claims commissioner is an important and influential post. I’d imagine this dude has many ethical decisions to make every day…not just whether lawsuits are justified to move forward, but also addressing any conflicts that arise from who or what company this commissioner associates with…I mean, this is a sensitive position to hold.

The role of the claims commissioner originates with the principle of sovereign immunity: Governments should be protected from paying damages private citizens can be held liable for.

“Sovereign immunity is something we got from England,” said Richard Kay, a University of Connecticut law professor. “It originates in the phrase, `The king can do no wrong.’ Nonetheless, in modern times, given all the things a state does … you want the state accountable for its wrongs.”

So, Kay explained, processes were established for states to grant the right to be sued. Initially in Connecticut, claims were filed with the General Assembly, then a commission was created and whittled down in the 1970s to one person.

Michael Tardif, a Washington-based lawyer who in 2005 helped author a report on sovereign immunity, said many states have decided to waive that protection, instead setting damage caps to protect finances.

“In most you can go to court and file a lawsuit,” Tardif said.

Other states may also have commissions or boards that must approve lawsuits against the state, but they have several members who must vote on whether the suit can go forward or not. In Connecticut, only one man holds ALL the cards.

“It’s a bizarre, convoluted and arcane system,” said state Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, a senior member of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, the first stop for claims appeals. “Hopefully it weeds out bad claims. The risk is it also weeds out legitimate claims.”

Cooney, who has handled around two dozen claims cases, argued, “You have one person who has the complete discretion to say either you can file a lawsuit or not … I don’t see any reason why the state should have this mechanism in place to make it incredibly difficult to sue the state when no other corporate entity or individual has the same shield.

“If a judge hears it and there’s no legal basis for a claim, the judge will render a judgement for the state,” Cooney said. “Our clients would feel they’re getting a fairer shake because they get their day in court.”

And just who is this man? Well, his name is J. Paul Vance Jr., and he gave up his Waterbury mayoral bid when he was first appointed to the position by Gov. Daniel Malloy in the Fall of 2011. (You can read about the politics of this appointment here.)

Vance, Jr’s comments have caused some concerns from litigation lawyers in Connecticut. When he was given the claims commission job, Vance’s comments to the Waterbury Republican American were:

“I’ve always been a litigator, primarily defense, so this is the perfect fit for me.”

According to Bridgeport Attorney Charles Willinger, who represents the victim of a chimp attack and has been waiting for Vance’s decision on their request to sue the state.

“The claims commissioner has been described by the Connecticut Supreme Court as `the conscience of the state.’ What he is supposed to be doing is not defending the state against claims.”

Vance declined to discuss pending matters, but he said he knows his responsibilities.

“My job is not to protect the state,” Vance said. “It’s to make sure it’s a fair process for people.”

“There is that (sovereign) immunity, and there are situations where that immunity should be yanked.”

That is a huge responsibility for Paul Vance Jr. to hold, and if the claims commissioner’s name sounds familiar, it should. His father is J. Paul Vance, Sr., the official “spokesman” for the state police in charge of the Sandy Hook investigation.

We have seen Vance Sr. in action during the past few weeks giving information, or should I say…not giving information, during press conferences about the Newtown shooting.

I’ve stated repeatedly that I have a gut feeling about the peculiar attitude of Lt. Vance Sr. at these press conferences. There is something strange about the lack of information coming forward too. As Dak mentioned in a comment a few weeks ago:

….people are trying to understand what caused this to happen or at least what factors contributed to it. The only thing that I’ve noticed about this particular shooting is that the police haven’t been very forthcoming with anything. In some of the other shootings, we had all kinds of people coming forward and the police offered up a lot of different bits and pieces of information. The Head of the State troopers hasn’t been saying anything which leads to all kinds of rumors and speculation as people try to understand how something this horrible could happen. I think it’s just people looking for answers when no information has been forthcoming from the traditional sources. Think of how we knew immediately from the Aurora Mall shooter’s school and the Tuscon Mall shooter’s school and parents about their issues. They both had to even go through the criminal justice system so it’s rather odd that the Connecticut State Police seem so tight about whatever it is they have. Again, I think it’s just rampant speculation because no has come forward with anything concrete. Probably doing the community a lot of injustice and likely the shooter and his mom who both are the sources of all kinds of media rumors.

I got the impression Lt. Vance was very defensive about giving information on the investigation. You can click this link below to review the press conference I am talking about:

WATCH: CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE UPDATE ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TRAGEDY

Lt. Vance has a defensive attitude about his position as the singular voice of authority for all the various agencies investigating the shootings.

Maybe that has something to with Lt. Vance’s immediate family connection to the man who must approve any lawsuits the shooting victim’s families bring against the state.

Sounds like a conflict of interest to me…

And there is a difference in the tone and substance of the information they are releasing.  Take the Columbine shooting, and how that was handled in the press:

Officials In Newtown Follow A Well-Worn Media Script

In setting himself up as the sole source of reliable information, the state police spokesman was following a well-worn script for getting control of a big, growing story, says Steve Davis, who experienced similar challenges as the official liaison to the media covering the 1999 mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

‘Brutally Honest’ When Needed

On the day of the Columbine shootings, Davis was on the phone and first realized something was wrong when officers rushed out of the office. Within minutes, he was in a car on his way to the high school, trying to make sense of dozens of early and contradictory reports.

“I know it’s hard to imagine now that it could have been any worse, but there were reports that day that we had as many as eight gunmen in the school. Some were [reportedly] hiding in ductwork,” remembers Davis, who is now the spokesman for the police department in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.

Davis said he told reporters at Columbine, “Look, let’s try to understand that there’s going to be a lot of misinformation here. I will try to confirm it and reconfirm it before I give it to you.”

But Davis said he also was “brutally honest” when needed. “Sometimes I had to tell them, ‘You know what? I do know the answer to your question, but … I can’t release it quite yet.’ “

He set up on-the-hour news conferences to keep reporters informed and control the flow of information.

“A big part of each news conference was just rumor control,” Davis says. But he took all questions and did his best to get timely answers for reporters, he says.

Davis seems to have been genuinely concerned with relaying information to the public, more forthcoming with information and less arrogant with his attitude.

Considering the state has also decided to keep affidavits and warrants sealed, is there something the state wants to keep out of the press?  Sandy Hook affidavits remain sealed

A state Superior Court judge said Thursday that search warrant affidavits for the cars and home of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza and his mother would stay sealed for another 90 days.

Judge John Blawie granted motions filed Wednesday by Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky to extend the statutory sealing period for the five warrants, including three for the Yogonanda Street home where the 20-year-old Lanza fatally shot his mother, Nancy, four times in the face on the morning of Dec. 14, before embarking on the rampage that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

The judge’s order also covers the two other search warrants, for the 2010 Honda Civic Adam Lanza drove to the school and for Nancy Lanza‘s 2009 silver BMW, which was parked in the garage attached to the home.

“The court finds that due to the nature and circumstances of this case and the ongoing investigation, the state’s interest in continuing nondisclosure substantially outweighs any right to public disclosure at this time,” Blawie wrote.

Those warrants and affidavits would have been made pubic 14 days after the being filed with the court.  Danbury’s State Attorney Sedensky said…

 …his applications that the affidavits contained information “not known to the general public” and that premature disclosure would “seriously jeopardize the outcome and success of the investigation” by “divulging sensitive and confidential information” known only to investigators.

Although no arrests have been made and “none are contemplated,” Sedensky also said the possibility has not been ruled out, and that releasing the information would make it difficult to solve crimes that others might have committed.

I understand the need to control the information coming out, and keep rumors and false media reports at bay, however much of the information first given by Lt. Lance was incorrect. (Like the name of the shooter, the weapons used to kill the students and faculty, etc.)

We have heard absolutely nothing new from Lt. Lance, in fact the only recent update to the investigation is reported by The Hartford Courant: Police To Re-Create Scene Outside Sandy Hook School

State police are considering partially re-creating the scene outside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14 as the first police officers responded to the mass shooting to try and answer a nagging question: Did Adam Lanza fire at police officers?

Police are discussing bringing back some of the cars that were in the school lot as the first Newtown officers and state police troopers arrived following 911 calls that was a shooter was on the loose. The cars will be placed exactly where they parked that morning as will the police cruisers of the first responders. The plan is to receate the scene in the coming week.

[...]

Police have found numerous bullets outside the school that hit at least three cars, including the one owned by Lauren Rousseau, who was killed by Lanza in her classroom along with 14 of her students and a special-education aide. The three cars that were hit, belonging to Sandy Hook staffers, were near where at least one of the first group of officers parked before running into the school, sources said.

Why weren’t these bullet holes investigated earlier?

Sources said the bullets that hit cars outside probably were fired from teacher Victoria Soto’s room. That was the second room Lanza entered as he firing at teachers and students. Soto and her aide, Mary Ann Murphy, were killed there, as were six students. Six other children escaped because, police believe, Lanza stopped firing briefly either because his gun jammed or he had trouble reloading his gun. Seven other students survived because Soto hid them in a closet.

Investigators are trying to determine if the bullets fired into the parking lot were strays as Lanza fired in Soto’s classroom or if he saw officers arriving and fired through the window at them. Investigators have done trajectory work in the classroom but now want to line up the police cars and see if it is possible some of the bullets were aimed at them.

No cruisers were hit and none of the officers interviewed so far has indicated that they were shot at. But several of the officers involved in the initial response have not been interviewed yet because they are still traumatized and they may not have realized they were being shot at as they ran towards the school.

Now, that article was published on Dec. 29th…and it states several of the initial response officers have not been interviewed yet? That seems strange to me….what do you think?

The partial re-creation will likely be one of the last things state police do at the school before wrapping up that part of the investigation. There are no plans to recreate what happened inside the school or to interview any of the students who survived, police say.

Well, it seems like police should talk to the students who survived for possible information relative to the case, it would also help these kids talk through this violent shooting that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There have been several shooting deaths since the Sandy Hook massacre, and we know more about those crimes than we do about this shooting in Newtown. Think back to the information that was released in the days and weeks after the Holmes shooting in Aurora. The press had plenty of reports about James Holmes and what evidence they had found.

I sound like one of those conspiracy nuts, but there is a nagging in the back of my mind, and I can’t quiet let it go.

So, that is what I have for you this morning, be sure to post links to what you are reading today…hope to catch up with you later in the comment section.


Evening News Reads: Gossip, Kansas, Pharmacies and Yo Quiero Taco Bell!

Good Evening

Tonight’s post is going to be along the lines of what Wonk the Vote calls…a link dump.

What I am going to do is group them into subjects. Let’s start with the angry stuff first, and then we can move on from there. I say angry cause these new items are sure to get you fired up.

* War on Women

A few of these links just got published, so I know it will be news to you.

Use Birth Control? You’re Fired!

Here is where the “Yo quiero Taco Bell” comes into play…

First, a bill that gives immunity to doctors who lie to couples about the results of their prenatal tests in order to prevent them from getting an abortion. Now, a bill that would give your boss the green light to fire you for using birth control. You think I am kidding? I wish. For a decade now, Arizona insurance companies have been required to provide coverage for contraception just like other prescriptions. But, because they saw an opening to score some political points, some politicians there are suddenly moving to take that coverage away from women and their families.

And we aren’t talking here just about exemptions for religiously affiliated employers like Catholic hospitals and universities. We are talking about authorizing secular, for-profit employers to deny a woman coverage for birth control if the employer doesn’t believe that she and her partner should be allowed to have sex without getting pregnant. Yup, that’s right. If the owner of the Taco Bell where you work opposes birth control, Arizona legislators want to give him a legal right to deny you insurance coverage for your pills.

Sadly, that isn’t even the half of it. You may want to sit down for this one. Arizona legislators know that whether or not her insurance covers it, a woman may get the prescription she needs to prevent an unintended pregnancy. They want to give her boss the right to control that too. The bill they are pushing would not only allow employers to take the insurance coverage away, but it would also make it easier for an employer who finds out that his employee uses birth control to fire her. You heard me right . . . to fire her.

Do you believe this? It is an outrage! My damn blood pressure went up just posting this quote.

ACLU: Tell Politicians: Don’t Play Politics With Women’s Health

That link will take you to an advocacy page…so you can sign a petition. I signed so many petitions regarding the Texas Planned Parenthood Defunding, state sanctioned rape laws and other ridiculous anti-woman legislation…and it did not make a difference. I think the advocacy folks need to get campaigns going on Twitter, that really seems to get the ball rolling.

A couple of more links for you on women’s issues.

Kansas to Pregnant Women: “A Little Lie from Your Doctor Won’t Hurt You” –  Wrongful Birth? These laws are promoting the kind of bad medicine that goes along with the war on women. Doctor’s purposely keeping information about your health and the health of your fetus to keep them from infringing on their rights… “religious conscience” strikes again.

Not Again: Two More Pharmacies Refuse to Sell Emergency Contraception to Men –  Same shit different pharmacy.

“Mad as Hell:” Wisconsin Women Rally Tomorrow Against Last-Minute Rush to Pass Anti-Choice Bills –  “Women Watch, Women Rally, Women Vote: Mad as Hell” Three bills are up to bat in the state legislature…and women are pissed off and getting together to protest the bills.

Expanding Catholic Hospitals Put Reproductive Care, Women’s Health at Risk  –  Article and map that breaks down the percentages of Catholic hospitals per state throughout the US.

10 Badass Moments in Girl Scout History–  That title is self-explanatory.

Women In The World Summit 2012: Highlights From HuffPost Women–  Another summary of the Summit held this weekend.

Hillary Clinton: Extremists “All Want to Control Women…Even Here At Home” [VIDEO] –  The woman who fights for all of us…

I love this woman..just listen to the three minutes. America must lead by example. Yes!

* Big Fat Misogynistic Pig Update

EXCLUSIVE: 141 Companies Drop Advertising From Rush Limbaugh

* Rich Man Poor Man

Building A Caste Society – Krugman

* GOP Farts In Your General Direction

A Mighty Wind

A Mighty Wind © Pat Bagley,Salt Lake Tribune,Climate Change, Climate, Global Warning, Deniers, Denial, Hurricane, Tornadoes, Rain, Snow, Flooding, Drought, Hoax

* Fuck Bank of America!

Well, that is my own personal opinion!

Here are two articles from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism:

The Legal Lie at the Heart of the $8.5 Billion Bank of America and Federal/State Mortgage Settlements

Is the Fed Going to Go Easy on the Banks to Help Obama?

* Afghanistan and Iran

Afghanistan Is Turning from a War to a Madhouse, by Charles P. Pierce

This weekend, everything about the United States policy in Afghanistan stopped making whatever sense it ever made in the first place.

An American soldier, Christ alone knows why, committed an act of terrorism against the Afghan people. According to reports, the soldier wandered off the base and into an Afghan village, where he systematically went door to door and murdered 16 people, including nine children. There are now the low, mumbling noises of regret from the U.S. government, and the general tone of the commentary in this country is to ponder deeply how this might affect the American “mission” in Afghanistan.

(Also, if I see one more headline calling this thing a “spree,” I may be forced to regret my own career choice. A spree is when some drunken frat-boy shoots out the streetlights on campus. This was mass murder, no different from the mass murders committed by Richard Speck or Jeffrey Dahmer or William Calley. If the American press tries to soften the edges of what happened with euphemism, which is what I suspect is already underway, the American press is guilty of one more crime against truth.)

I cannot express how sad and completely enraged I feel about this “spree” of bullets that murdered these innocent civilians.

U.S. soldier to be charged in Afghan shooting spree <————— See…crimes against truth!

A 38-year-old Army staff sergeant could be charged as early as today in the killings of 16 Afghan civilians in southern Kandahar province, a U.S. military official said Monday.

The Army soldier, whose identity wasn’t yet being released, is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, officials said. He was in military custody and was expected to be charged in Kabul.

The staff sergeant had done three tours of duty in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan, renewing the question of whether the multiple deployments — which have become the norm for U.S. service members over the past decade — contributed to emotional stress that set off the shooting spree, the worst of its kind in the decade-long U.S. war in Afghanistan.

This story has affected me greatly. My fingers are numb when it comes to writing about what this killer did. (Or, quiet possible killers.)

Afghans express skepticism over shooting account

Afghans are expressing growing skepticism that a shooting rampage that killed 16 civilians was carried out by a single U.S. soldier.

Abdul Rahum Ayubi, who is a lawmaker from Kandahar province where the tragedy occurred, said Monday it seemed impossible for one soldier to cover the ground between the houses that were attacked — over a mile (2 kilometers) — and also burn the dead bodies.

Bismullah Afghanmal, a parliament member, said the reports he received from villagers indicate the shooting before dawn Sunday came from several directions.

But Gen. Mohammed Zahir Azimi, defense ministry spokesman, said initial reports indicate a single shooter.

From 60 Minutes this weekend: The Spymaster: Meir Dagan on Iran’s threat

Meir Dagan has been described as “hard-charging” and “stops at nothing.” For more than eight years, Dagan made full use of those qualities as chief of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, where he focused on keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. When that job ended, Dagan did something unheard of for an ex-Mossad chief: he spoke out publicly, voicing opposition to Israel launching preemptive airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities anytime soon. Dagan believes the Iranian regime is a rational one and even its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who has called for Israel to be annihilated – acts in a somewhat rational way when it comes to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Lesley Stahl reports.

Sigh…I don’t know about you…but I am worn out!

*Insider Hollywood Gossip

After all that news up top, I had to end with something that requires no brain cells. Is a Secret Celebrity Tattletale Actually Robert Downey Jr.?

A certain anonymous commenter has become internet-infamous in the last few weeks by dropping some incredibly detailed, disturbing and very insidery gossip about Hollywood — regarding incest, pedophilia, and secret call girl rings that allegedly involve young starlets like Hayden Panettiere and Amanda Bynes — in the comments section of a popular blind item blog. Crazier than what he’s saying is who many believe is doing the blabbing: Robert Downey Jr.

That is it, I told you it was a dump!

What are you all doing this evening…any thoughts…what else are you reading about tonight?


Omar Suleiman and the U.S. Rendition and Torture Program

Omar Suleiman

Omar Suleiman was recently appointed Vice President of Egypt by desperate dictator Hosni Mubarak. There has also been talk that Suleiman could become Mubarak’s successor now that Mubarak’s son Gamal is seemingly out of the picture.

It will be interesting to see how the Obama administration responds to this appointment, since the U.S. has had very close relations with Suleiman. Some basic background on Suleiman from Reuters:

* He has been the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) since 1993, a role in which he has played a prominent public role in diplomacy, including in Egypt’s relations with Israel and with key aid donor the United States.

* He was born on July 2, 1936 in Qena, in southern Egypt. He later enrolled in Egypt’s premier Military Academy in 1954, after which he received additional military training in the then Soviet Union at Moscow’s Frunze Military Academy.

* He also studied political science at Cairo University and Ain Shams University. In 1992 he headed the General Operations Authority in the Armed Forces and then became the director of the military intelligence unit before taking over EGIS.

* Suleiman took part in the war in Yemen in 1962 and the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

* As Egypt’s intelligence chief, Suleiman was in charge of the country’s most important political security files, and was the mastermind behind the fragmentation of Islamist groups who led the uprising against the state in the 1990s.

Here is another profile from the BBC.

While he has shown little political ambition, General Suleiman has often been mentioned as a possible successor to the 82-year-old Mr Mubarak.

He would continue in the trend of military strongmen who have led Egypt since the 1952 revolution.

And perhaps more ominously, based on what you’re about to read about Suleiman’s activities,

Even if he is not the next president, even in a transitional capacity, some experts believe that Omar Suleiman is likely to be a kingmaker.

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