Friday, January 22, 2016


You know that sinking feeling  you get when you find out 

your three closest friends on Facebook are bots?

I've released 10,000 emails to the Houston Chronicle. They 

have asked me not to do that again.

I think I'm feeling far too much pride in quickly and properly 

installing a new shower head.  I should raise my goals to a 

higher level to justify my existence.



3 Houston Lawyers Represent Pardoned Iranians

Joel M. Androphy, partner, Berg & Androphy, David Gerger, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and Kent Schaffer,with Bires Schaffer & DeBorde

Three criminal defense attorneys in Houston have each practiced for decades but only now can say they have represented a client who received a presidential pardon.
The lawyers—David Gerger, Joel Androphy and Kent Schaffer—represented three Iranians who were pardoned Jan. 17 by President Barack Obama in a prison exchange that resulted in the release of five Americans who had been held in Iran. A total of seven Iranians in the U.S. were involved in the exchange.
Khosrow Afghani, Tooraj Faridi and Bahram Mechanic were each indicted in April 2015 and charged with violating trade sanctions. Afghani and Mechanic had been in federal custody for nine months, while Faridi had been free on bond. Each pleaded not guilty to the charges in USA v. Mechanic, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Gerger, a partner in Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, represented Afghani; Androphy, a partner in Berg & Androphy, represented Mechanic; and Schaffer, a partner in Bires Schaffer & DeBorde, represented Faridi.
Androphy said the pardons had been in the works for months, and he found out two months ago from an Iranian contact in Washington, D.C., that Mechanic was among those who might be pardoned in an exchange. Androphy had been seeking a visa so he could go to Iran to gather evidence to defend his client. On Jan. 7, Androphy said he learned the pardon was no longer a possibility but a probability for his client. On Jan. 13, Androphy said, he received word from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas that the president wanted to pardon his client within the next couple of days.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas referred questions to the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The NSD press office did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
All three lawyers were asked to be at the Federal Detention Center in Houston at 5:30 a.m. Jan. 16 for the pardons. Schaffer said his client, Faridi, was not in custody, but still had to go to the detention center for paperwork. James Kennedy, a lawyer at his firm, went to the detention center for Faridi.
It was hurry-up-and-wait time for the defendants and the lawyers representing them.
"We got to the jail at 5:30 in the morning and waited until 8 at night and nothing happened," Androphy said. "The government wanted to make sure the hostages in Iran were outside of Iranian airspace and that apparently got delayed for multiple reasons."
Androphy and Gerger said they went home for a while and came back to the detention center in downtown Houston in the wee hours of the morning. They said their clients were officially pardoned at about 4:45 a.m. Jan. 17. That was around the time athletes were collecting nearby to run the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Houston Half Marathon.
Gerger said a pardon isn't official until it's physically handed to the person being pardoned. He said the warden had the pardons in his possession, already signed on Jan. 15, but the defendants had to wait 23 hours for word from Washington that he could deliver the pardons early Sunday.
All three lawyers said their clients are understandably relieved, but Schaffer notes that even with the unusual pardon, his client wasn't acquitted of the charges against him and fears fallout from that.
"The Republican presidential candidates are making it look like all of these people are terrorists when they were charged with violating trade sanctions," Schaffer said.

Read more:

Read more:

Ted Cruz with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, whom Mr. Cruz clerked for in 1996.
As Supreme Court Clerk, Ted Cruz Made Death Penalty His Cause


Mr. Cruz became known among his fellow clerks for his death penalty advocacy and for dwelling on the lurid details of murders in his case summaries.





Former LSU Professor Fires Lawsuit Challenging Her Termination For Sexual Harassment

by jonathanturley


Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Declared Chess UnIslamic

by jonathanturley
We have previously discussed the wacky announcement of Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh like his announcement that Twitter is “the source of all evil and devastation.” Now the grand mufti has ruled that chess is forbidden in Islam even though Arabs helped spread chess around the world after conquering Persia in the Seventh Century. Yet, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s supreme Shia religious authority, has previously issued rulings forbidding chess. Likewise, after the 1979 revolution in Iran, chess was declared haram, or forbidden.
Read more of this post
jonathanturley | 1, January


You Could Be Seeing An Image Here!

Canada is adopting one of Finland's greatest ideas: baby boxes.


This Time, Cheaper Oil Does Little for the U.S. Economy


Oil's downturn may not have helped the economy because more oil is being produced domestically, and consumers may not be spending their windfalls.


Officer Robert Olsen, who in March 2015 shot Anthony Hill, a naked and unarmed black man at an apartment complex near Atlanta.
Georgia Police Officer Indicted for Murder of Unarmed Black Man


A grand jury has indicted a white officer on six counts, including felony murder, in last year's shooting of Anthony Hill, 27, who was naked and behaving erratically.


The Brief: Fracking Billionaires Become the Latest Big GOP Donors

by Jacob Sanchez and John Reynolds | Jan. 21, 2016

The Big Conversation

The latest round of campaign finance filings are documenting the emergence of a new big dollar GOP donor in Texas.
The Wilks brothers of Cisco have already made a splash in the 2016 presidential contest through $15 million given by members of the family to a super PAC backing Ted Cruz.
But the reports filed last week with the Texas Ethics Commission demonstrate a desire to influence a number of legislative races involving House Speaker Joe Straus and his allies as well as some of Straus’ loudest critics.
For instance, as the Tribune’s Jamie Lovegrove reports, Farris Wilks gave a single donation of $500,000 to Empower Texans PAC, the political arm of the influential conservative advocacy group.
That PAC has distributed money to a group of tea party-aligned House Republicans who are critical of Straus’ management of the House. Wilks family members have also given $50,000 directly to Jeff Judson, who is trying to unseat Straus in the March 1 primary.
The Wilks brothers made their money in the fracking boom of the past decade. As far as divining their motivation for making such hefty contributions, Farris Wilks explained in a November TV interview that “I fear that our nation is going in the direction of socialism, and so I think that maybe we’ve forgotten what has brought us to the place we are as a nation.”


Guantánamo Detainee Refuses Offer of Release After 14 Years in Prison


Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir balked at the last minute, afraid to go to a country where he has no family, his lawyer said. Two others were freed.



Verdict looms in first Canadian criminal case involving claimed Twitter harassment

Jan 21, 2016, 5:00 pm CST



Facing new conduct probe, Kentucky judge fights back in First Amendment suit

After he was suspended from the bench last year for 15 days for criticizing the prosecutor in a driving under the influence case, a Kentucky judge said he did nothing wrong but didn’t fight the ethics penalty to avoid the cost of an appeal.
However, Campbell County District Court Judge Gregory Popovich is now asserting a violation of his First Amendment rights in a federal lawsuit, amid a new investigation by the commonwealth’s Judicial Conduct Commission, the reported Thursday.
Popovich alleges that the ethics probe is politically motivated. He says it violates not only his own free speech rights but those of the individuals who elected him; he is joined in the suit by three local residents who voted for him. “Out of fear of having their speech mischaracterized, judges will fail to speak candidly and provide the guidance for which they are sought,” Popovich says in the suit.
He also contends the JCC violated his due-process rights by both investigating and deciding complaints.
Attorney Jeff Mando represents the commission. He declined to comment on the Popovich ethics matter but said the Kentucky Supreme Court authorized the commission’s role in handling judicial ethics complaints, reports.
The article doesn’t include any comment from Popovich or his legal counsel.
The new ethics probe of Popovich would ordinarily have been confidential, but became public due to the lawsuit filed by the judge, the article notes.
In an October letter, the commission said it is investigating 54 allegations, including that the judge is “habitually impatient, undignified and discourteous” with lawyers and defendants, reports.
See also:
Northern Kentucky Tribune: “Campbell District Court Judge Popovich suspended for 15 days by state Judicial Conduct Commission”

Palin Blames Obama for Her Defeat in 2008 Election

“Like a lot of American families, we Palins had big plans and dreams—in this case, regarding me becoming Vice-President,” she said.


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