Saturday Open Thread

I hope that you are enjoying this weekend with family and friends.

I want to put a plug in for a series that will premiere on Monday, May 29th, on ABC.

A new production from Shondaland.

 

STILL STAR-CROSSED – ABC’s “Still Star-Crossed” stars Dan Hildebrand as Friar Lawrence, Torrance Coombs as Count Paris, Grant Bowler as Lord Montague, Medalion Rahini as Princess Isabella, Sterling Sulieman as Prince Escalus, Lashana Lynch as Rosaline Capulet, Wade Briggs as Benvolio Montague, Anthony Head as Lord Capulet, Zuleikha Robinson as Lady Capulet, Ebonee Noel as Livia Capulet and Susan Wooldridge as Nurse. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

A Bunch of New Cast Photos from ABC’s Upcoming ‘Still Star-Crossed’
May 12th 2017

STILL STAR-CROSSED – ABC’s “Still Star-Crossed” stars Dan Hildebrand as Friar Lawrence, Torrance Coombs as Count Paris, Grant Bowler as Lord Montague, Medalion Rahini as Princess Isabella, Sterling Sulieman as Prince Escalus, Lashana Lynch as Rosaline Capulet, Wade Briggs as Benvolio Montague, Anthony Head as Lord Capulet, Zuleikha Robinson as Lady Capulet, Ebonee Noel as Livia Capulet and Susan Wooldridge as Nurse. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

ABC’s much-anticipated post-“Romeo & Juliet” TV series from Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, titled “Still Star-Crossed,” which stars British actress Lashana Lynch, is finally set to premiere on Monday, May 29, airing from 10:01-11:00 p.m.

Written by Heather Mitchell, and based on the book by Melinda Taub, “Still Star-Crossed” is set in 16th century Verona, picking up where Shakespeare’s original work ended. It chronicles the treachery, palace intrigue and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers’ tragic fate.

The story centers on Rosaline (Lashana Lynch), described as a beautiful, intelligent and headstrong Capulet and Juliet’s cousin. Following the death of her parents, Rosaline is taken in by her aunt and uncle, Juliet’s parents Lady and Lord Capulet, and forced to work as a servant. She does her best to tolerate her aunt’s cruelty, and focuses on finding a way to free herself of the humiliation. She is eventually ordered to marry Benvolio (male lead Wade Briggs), a Montague.

The diverse cast also includes (in terms of actors of African descent) Lucien Laviscount, Sterling Sulieman, and Ebonee Noel.

Prepping for the new series’ in less than 3 weeks, ABC has released a set of new cast photos from the series which are embedded above and below, followed by the most recent promo:

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Federal judge tosses out life sentences for DC sniper Malvo

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia’s most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk said Malvo is entitled to new sentencing hearings after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

Malvo was 17 when he was arrested in 2002 for a series of shootings that killed 10 people and wounded three in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, causing widespread fear throughout the region.

His accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, was executed in 2009.

Malvo also was sentenced to life in prison in Maryland for the murders that occurred there. But his lawyers have made an appeal on similar grounds in that state. A hearing is scheduled in June.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh, who helped prosecute Malvo in 2003, said the Virginia attorney general can appeal Jackson’s ruling. If not, Morrogh said he would pursue another life sentence, saying he believes Malvo meets the criteria for a harsh sentence.

A spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring did not return a phone call and email seeking comment Friday.

Malvo’s first trial took place in Chesapeake after a judge agreed to move it from Fairfax because of pretrial publicity. A jury convicted Malvo of capital murder, which under Virginia law requires either a death sentence or life without parole. Prosecutors sought a death sentence, but a jury opted for life in prison.

He then negotiated a plea bargain in Spotsylvania County and agreed to a life sentence.

Jackson, in his ruling, wrote that Malvo was entitled to a new sentencing hearing because the Supreme Court’s ruling grants new rights to juveniles that Malvo didn’t know he had when he agreed to the plea bargain.

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Friday Open Thread | Jared Kushner Now A Focus in the Russia Investigation

Last week, it was reported that a person inside the White House had become of interest in the Russia investigation.

Today, the Senior Adviser was named -Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

From the Washington Post:

Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation
By Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous May 25 at 6:33 PM

Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

The Washington Post reported last week that a senior White House official close to the president was a significant focus of the high-stakes investigation, though it did not name Kushner.

FBI agents also remain keenly interested in former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.

The Post has not been told that Kushner is a target — or the central focus — of the investigation, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. “Target” is a word that generally refers to someone who is the main suspect of investigators’ attention, though prosecutors can and do bring charges against people who are not marked with that distinction.

“Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry,” said Jamie Gorelick, one of his attorneys.

In addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.
……………………..

In addition to the December meetings, a former senior intelligence official said FBI agents had been looking closely at earlier exchanges between Trump associates and the Russians dating to the spring of 2016, including one at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Kushner and Kislyak — along with close Trump adviser and current attorney general Jeff Sessions — were present at an April 2016 event at the Mayflower where then-candidate Trump promised in a speech to seek better relations with Russia. It is unclear whether Kushner and Kislyak interacted there.

Read the complete article at the link.

Very interesting that they brought up the Mayflower Hotel. Remember, Mr. Kushner ‘ forgot’ to put all sorts of contact with foreign entities as he applied for a Security Clearance.
But, it’s all a coincidence….right?
Not.enough.coincidences.in.the.Western.World.

Posted in 2016 Elections, Open Thread, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 61 Comments

Montana Politician Greg Gianforte body slams reporter Ben Jacobs

A Montana politician running for congressional office body slammed a reporter … and the sounds of the scuffle were caught on audio tape.

Greg Gianforte — who’s gunning for a House seat in Congress in the 2018 election — slammed Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, Wednesday in Bozeman, Montana during an event … around local TV crews, at that. He then yelled to “Get the hell out of here!”

Jacobs tweeted about the incident, saying Gianforte “broke my glasses.”

The reporter’s question about the GOP healthcare bill seemed to spark the attack, but it’s unclear if Gianforte faced any repercussions. Jacobs was quick to get the audio to the Guardian, which posted it soon after.
Jacobs also shared a photo of his broken glasses … as he was being taken away in an ambulance.

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Thursday Open Thread | The CBO Has Scored the Evil Legislation Known As Trumpcare 2.0.

It’s as bad as you think.

I have said, from the beginning, that Trumpcare is nothing but a TAX CUT BILL masquerading as a Healthcare Bill.
The core of this is cutting HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS FROM MEDICAID – the most vulnerable citizens having their healthcare taken away – so that millionaires and billionaires can get TAX CUTS.

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks.

From Mayhew at Balloon Juice

16:42 CBO thinks MacArthur/Upton will produce structurally unstable markets in 15% of the population due to split risk pools

the agencies estimate that about one-sixth of the population resides in areas inwhich the nongroup market would start to become unstable beginning in 2020. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two
provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. One type of waiver would allow states to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits (EHBs), which set minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the nongroup and
small-group markets must cover. A second type of waiver would allow insurers to set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage; that is, the waiver would eliminate the requirement for what is termed community rating for premiums charged to such people. CBO and JCT anticipate that most healthy people applying for insurance in the nongroup market in those states would be able to choose between premiums based on their own expected health care costs (medically underwritten premiums) and premiums based on the average health care costs for people who share the same age and smoking status and who reside in the same
geographic area (community-rated premiums)

The Upton money is an incredibly underfunded high cost risk pool:

CBO and JCT expect that, as a consequence, the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all—despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums.

1645 Don’t be sick in a full MacArthur/Upton state

Finally, about one-sixth of the population resides in states that would obtain waivers involving both the EHBs and community rating and that would allow premiums to be set on the basis of an individual’s health status in a substantial portion of the nongroup market…. less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly. As a result of the narrower scope of covered benefits and the difficulty less healthy people would face purchasing insurance, average premiums for people who did purchase insurance would generally be lower than in other states—but the variation around that average would be very large. CBO and JCT do not have an estimate of how much lower those premiums would be.

Now time to follow the money. It is a net cut of $964 billion dollars in spending on federal health insurance funds.

 

Continue reading

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Wednesday Open Thread | What’s the Matter With Republicans?

What’s the Matter With Republicans?
Paul Krugman
MAY 19, 2017

On Wednesday, Paul Ryan held a press conference just after the revelation that Donald Trump had pushed James Comey to kill the investigation into Michael Flynn — you know, the guy Trump appointed as national security adviser even though his team knew that Flynn’s highly suspicious foreign ties were under investigation.

Faced with questions about the Flynn scandal and the Comey firing, Ryan waved them away: “I don’t worry about things that are outside my control.”

This might sound like a reasonable philosophy — unless you realize that Ryan is speaker of the House of Representatives, a legislative body with the power to issue subpoenas, compel testimony and, yes, impeach the president. In fact, under the Constitution, Ryan and his congressional colleagues are effectively the only check on a rogue chief executive.

It has become painfully clear, however, that Republicans have no intention of exercising any real oversight over a president who is obviously emotionally unstable, seems to have cognitive issues and is doing a very good imitation of being an agent of a hostile foreign power.

They may make a few gestures toward accountability in the face of bad poll numbers, but there is not a hint that any important figures in the party care enough about the Constitution or the national interest to take a stand.

And the big question we should be asking is how that happened. At this point we know who and what Trump is, and have a pretty good idea of what he has been doing. If we had two patriotic parties in the country, impeachment proceedings would already be underway. But we don’t. What’s the matter with Republicans?

…….

And even if Trump goes, one way or another, the threat to the Republic will be far from over.

In a perverse way, we should count ourselves lucky that Trump is as terrible as he is. Think of what it has taken to get us to this point — his Twitter addiction, his bizarre loyalty to Flynn and affection for Putin, the raw exploitation of his office to enrich his family, the business dealings, whatever they were, he’s evidently trying to cover up by refusing to release his taxes.

The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we’d be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control. Trump may have done himself in; but it can still happen here.

TREASON
TREASON
and more TREASON.

With every inaction, they prove that they are in bed with a hostile foreign power against AMERICAN SOVEREIGNTY.
While, yes, we should not take our eyes off of this illegitimate White House and all it’s shenanigans, never lose sight of everyone in the Republican Party who is putting power over country. Who mumbles platitudes, but nothing else. Remember, at every turn, they have blocked any real investigation into the treason that this White House has done. Anything that would resemble this so-called President being held accountable, they have blocked.
They are knee deep into treason against this country and should be held accountable.

They should not be able to utter the word patriotism, for they are selling out this country to the Russians at every turn.
THE.ENTIRE.LOT.OF.THEM.

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Congressman Al Green Threatened With LYNCHING After Calling For Trump’s Impeachment

U.S. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) received voicemails threatening to lynch him and calling him racial slurs after he called for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, he said Saturday.

Green, who is black, played the recordings for about 100 attendees at a town hall in Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle. They include death threats, racial epithets and graphic language.

“Hey Al Green, we’ve got an impeachment for you. It’s going to be yours,” one caller said. “It’s actually going to give you a short trial before we hang your nigger ass.”

“We’ll lynch all you fuckin’ niggers,” another caller said. “You’ll be hanging from a tree.”

That caller went on to claim no one had called for Barack Obama’s impeachment (they had), even though “he was born in Kenya” (he wasn’t). Trump helped spread the “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. He finally disavowed it last year, though in a September HuffPost/YouGov poll, 39 percent of Republicans still said Obama was not born in the U.S., and 28 percent said they weren’t sure where he was born.

“It does not deter us,” Green said after playing the recordings. “We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to allow this to cause us to deviate from what we believe to be the right thing to do, and that is to proceed with the impeachment of President Trump.”

“When people say that they will lynch you, I think you have to take that seriously,” Green told MSNBC host Joy Reid on Saturday, adding that his team had “extreme security measures” in place for the town hall.

Green on Wednesday called for Trump’s impeachment on the House floor after the president fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia and the question of interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump reportedly asked Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a memo Comey wrote describing a February meeting in the Oval Office. The memo was shared with The New York Times.

Posted in 2016 Elections, Current Events, FBI, impeachment, News, Obstruction of Justice, Open Thread, Politics, Russia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments