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Hero Mom Has the Perfect Response to Son Begging to Join ISIS

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 2:48 PM EST

Everyone of us can relate to having once been a stupid teenager, irrationally whining to our parents about needing to hang out with that group, wear this outfit, etc.

Such is the case of 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov of Brooklyn who had a burning desire to join club ISIS, like all the cool kids seem to be doing these days. But despite having all the gear to prove he was ready to commit to the band, Saidakhmetov's dreams were ultimately crushed by a very adolescent roadblock—his mom. From the Times:

Mr. Juraboev and Mr. Saidakhmetov bought tickets, planning to travel to Turkey and then sneak into Syria, court papers say, and as the date of their departure neared, they seemed eager.

But Mr. Saidakhmetov still needed his passport, and on Feb. 19 he called his mother. In a conversation recorded by federal agents, he asked for it. She asked him where he was going. He said to join the Islamic State.

"If a person has a chance to join the Islamic State and does not go there, on Judgment Day he will be asked why, and it is a sin to live in the land of infidels," he told her, court documents say.

She hung up the phone. It is unclear if he managed to get his passport back. But the government’s informer helped Mr. Saidakhmetov secure travel documents. In the days before he left, he told the informer that he felt that his soul was already on its way to paradise.

Trust us, young Saidakhmetov, you'll thank your mom one day. We already do.

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Friday Cat Blogging - 27 February 2015

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 2:15 PM EST

My biopsy is scheduled for this morning, so once again you get early cat blogging. Hopper got center stage last week, so this week it's Hilbert's turn.

Speaking of Hopper, though, a few days ago she demonstrated the wonders of the internet to me. That wasn't her intent, of course. Her intent was to chew through the charging cord of one of my landline phone extensions. This effectively turned the phone into a paperweight—and not even a very good one. But then I looked on the back of the charger and there was a model number etched into the plastic. So I typed it into Google. Despite the fact that this phone is more than a decade old, I was able to order two used replacements for $4 each within five minutes. Truly we live in a miraculous age.

But I still wish Hopper would stop chewing on every dangling cord in the house. Steps need to be taken, but I'm not quite sure yet what they'll be.

This Correction Is Supremely Unfortunate. I Can't Stop Cringing.

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 1:25 PM EST

Courtesy of New York Times staff editor Michael Roston, this is an unfortunate push alert error:

I feel genuinely awful for whoever is responsible for this. Everyone of us has made that mistake, but this will haunt them.

In the interest of solidarity, here's a Star Wars mistake I once made when I worked for CNET:

Stay strong, anonymous ABC7 push alert writer. You'll come back from this.

UPDATE: The ABC7 digital editor responsible seems like a mensch.

Sean Hannity Said Some Something Really Creepy at CPAC Today

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 1:20 PM EST

In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this morning, Fox News' Sean Hannity had some downright creepy things to say about the "young, good-looking crowd:"

I can look out in the crowd, I kinda have Fox X-ray vision, and I can see that some of you women, you don't even know it yet, but you're pregnant. It's not your fault. It's not his fault.

The joke—if that's what it was—bombed, drawing nervous laughter and groans from the crowd. The Twitter reaction was swift and perplexed:

Other CPAC attendees were apparently unfazed by Hannity's claim that he could seen into women's uteruses.

Marco Rubio Has a Peculiar Idea of How to Defeat ISIS

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 1:18 PM EST

Steve Benen points me to Marco Rubio today. Here is Rubio explaining how his ISIS strategy would be different from President Obama's:

“ISIS is a radical Sunni Islamic group. They need to be defeated on the ground by a Sunni military force with air support from the United States,” Rubio said. “Put together a coalition of armed regional governments to confront [ISIS] on the ground with U.S. special forces support, logistical support, intelligence support and the most devastating air support possible,” he added, “and you will wipe ISIS out.”

Hmmm. As Benen points out, this sounds awfully similar to what Obama is already doing. Local forces? Check. Coalition of regional governments? Check. Logistical support? Check. Air support? Check.

But there is one difference. Rubio thinks we need a Sunni military force on the ground to defeat ISIS. The Iraqi army, of course, is mostly Shiite. So apparently Rubio thinks we should ditch the Iraqi military and put together a coalition of ground forces from neighboring countries. But this would be....who? Yemen is out. Syria is out. That leaves Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey. Does Rubio think these countries are willing to put together a ground force to invade Iraq? Does he think the Iraqi government would allow it?

It is a mystery. What exactly does Marco Rubio think?

Turn That Frown Upside Down. These Pandas Make Life Worth Living.

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 1:02 PM EST

It's been so cold and terrible lately that I've really been down in the ditch emotionally. They call it SAD, they call it bad, they call it late for dinner. I know it as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. But put away your shrug 'cause, babe, I got a helluva drug: the kids call it red panda:

Happy Friday!

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RIP Leonard Nimoy

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 12:37 PM EST

Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as the iconic Mr. Spock of "Star Trek" died on Friday at the age of 83.

His wife confirmed the news to the New York Times, saying the actor died from "end-stage" pulmonary disease. Nimoy announced he had been battling the disease earlier this year and attributed his many years of smoking for the cause.

Below is his last tweet:

California's 3-Strike Prison Reform Is Working

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 12:19 PM EST

California's three-strikes law used to mean that all third-time felons had to spend at least 25 years behind bars—pretty harsh, considering that the third strike could be the result of stealing a $2.50 pair of tube socks. Last year, voters decided to scale back the policy, and passed two initiatives to give judges more sentencing discretion and retroactively reduce the penalties for low-level drug and theft crimes. Law enforcement leaders warned that the reform would set free "thousands of dangerous inmates," and called it "a radical package of ill-conceived policies" that "will endanger Californians."

Of roughly 2,000 former life prisoners freed as a result of the three-strikes reform, only 4.7 percent have returned to prison.

But almost five months after the second initiative passed, that warning sounds increasingly overblown. About 45 percent of inmates released from California prisons normally re-offend within 18 months. Of roughly 2,000 former life prisoners freed as a result of the three-strikes reform, only 4.7 percent have returned to prison, according to the New York Times. These ex-convicts had been out for an average of 18 months.

Experts say that intense exit counseling helped contribute to the low recidivism rate. "There's a lot of emotional work," Mark Faucette, director of community relations for the Amity Foundation, told the Times. "They're moving from a number to a name."

Crime rates did fall—but a 2012 study from UC-Riverside later found that it had nothing to do with three strikes.

Two decades ago, fear of crime was at a nationwide peak. The murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas by a career criminal helped push Californians to pass the three-strikes law, the country's strictest, in 1994. Crime rates did fall—but a 2012 study from UC-Riverside later found that it had nothing to do with three strikes. The law also added an estimated $19 billion to the state prison budget. As federal courts started pressuring California to shrink its prison population in 2009 due to inhumane treatment and overcrowding, the three-strikes legislation made even less sense.

The tides may be shifting for the rest of the country, too. As my colleague Shane Bauer writes, a 2013 poll found that even among Texas Republicans, 81 percent favor treatment over incarceration for drug offenders. Other states—more than 20 of which also passed three-strikes laws in the 1990s—may also soon be questioning prison time as a blanket solution for low-level crimes.

Republicans Shoot Selves in Foot, Schedule Second Shooting for March

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 11:59 AM EST

Here's the latest bit of drama in the DHS funding fight:

The House will vote Friday on a bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for three weeks in an attempt to avert a shutdown slated for Saturday at the massive agency.

....Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the new strategy to his rank-and-file members during a closed-door caucus meeting Thursday night. Senior Republicans predicted it would win enough support to clear the lower chamber. “I think we’ve got plentiful support. I was very pleased with the response. I think it’ll be a very strong vote,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) told reporters after the meeting.

This is, literally, the worst possible outcome for Republicans. It means they'll spend the next three weeks embroiled in this inane battle instead of working to advance their own agenda. It means the tea party ultras will have three more weeks to whip up even more outrage. It means John Boehner will have to fight his own caucus yet again on this same subject in March.

In the meantime, Democrats are probably cackling with glee. This has got to be one of the most dimwitted legislative own goals of all time.

Watch a US Senator Use a Snowball to Deny Global Warming

| Fri Feb. 27, 2015 11:09 AM EST

 

This story was first published by the Huffington Post and is reproduced here via the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Senate's most vocal critic of the scientific consensus on climate change, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, tossed a snowball on the Senate floor Thursday as part of his case for why global warming is a hoax.

Inhofe, who wrote the book The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, took to the floor to decry the "hysteria on global warming."

"In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, 'You know what this is?'" he said, holding up a snowball. "It's a snowball, from outside here. So it's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable."

"Catch this," he said to the presiding officer, tossing the blob of snow.

Inhofe went on to list the recent cold temperatures across parts of the United States, which included 67 new record lows earlier this week according to the National Weather Service, as evidence that global warming claims are overhyped. "We hear the perpetual headline that 2014 has been the warmest year on record. But now the script has flipped."

Despite the record lows in some parts of the country, the nation overall has been experiencing a warmer than average winter.