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Friday, December 20, 2013

Police Raid Spanish Ruling Party Headquarters

Investigators raided the Madrid headquarters of Spain’s governing People’s Party (PP) late last night, searching the premises for 14 hours to seize documents which prove off-the-book payments at the time of the building’s renovation from 2005 to 2011. The investigation, led by Magistrate Pablo Ruz, seeks to validate evidence turned over to the government by former PP treasurer Luís Barcenas. Barcenas testified millions of euros were paid to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party leaders from cash donated by construction companies. Rajoy and other politicians named by Barcenas have so far denied any wrongdoing.

Utah Judge Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Judge Robert Shelby of Federal District Court for the District of Utah struck down Utah’s nearly decade old same-sex marriage ban today, citing the rights of gay and lesbian couples to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Shelby found the state failed to show allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way. “In the absence of such evidence,” Shelby wrote, “the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens.”

The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” said Shelby. “Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.” While the state’s lawyers may yet appeal the ruling and the Utah attorney general’s office is expected to file an emergency stay of action before the end of today, for the time being, Utah is the 18th state in the U.S. to recognize marriage between same-sex couples. Salt Lake’s Deputy Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee has already begun issuing licenses.

Three More Silk Road Arrests

According to a recently unsealed indictment, three men have been charged in connection with Silk Road, the anonymous Internet market for items of dubious legality. In what appears to be a [simultaneous international bust](Andrew Jones, Gary Davis, and Peter Nash), Andrew Jones, Gary Davis, and Peter Nash were arrested in the U.S., Ireland and Australia respectively.

Prosecutors say Jones, Davis, and Nash are guilty of conspiracy to engage in narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, and money laundering. The three allegedly worked in various capacities for Ross Ulbricht, more popularly known as Dread Pirate Roberts the owner and operator of Silk Road, who was arrested this Fall. As Ulbricht was arrested, authorities managed to shut down Silk Road, but since then, Silk Road 2 debuted.

Russian Political Prisoner Amnesty

The Russian parliament has formally adopted an amnesty measure which will end the legal troubles of the Greenpeace Arctic 30, see the two jailed members of Pussy Riot released, and Putin’s political adversary Mikhail Khodorkovsky pardoned. Numerous other political prisoners have been or will be freed as well.

Putin gave a number of talks yesterday regarding the eminent amnesties which mark the twentieth anniversary of the Russian Federation’s constitution, including a televised speech wherein he said, “I feel sorry for Pussy Riot not for the fact that they were jailed, but for disgraceful behavior that has degraded the image of women.” In another he noted Khodorkovsky had been in prison for more than a decade, adding, “His mother is ill, and I think, taking into consideration all these circumstances, one can take an appropriate decision.”

After his release Khodorkovsky issued a statement saying, “I am very much looking forward to the minute when I will be able to hug my close ones and personally shake hands with all my friends and associates.

Weekend Read: The Manhunt for Christopher Dorner

Christopher Dorner swore vengeance on the corrupt Los Angeles police officers he believed were responsible for firing him. Using hit and run tactics, Dorner instilled fear into the LAPD after he killed two people and released a manifesto declaring asymmetric war on the police. What some characterize as the largest manhunt in history ensued. Christopher Goffard, Joel Rubin, and Kurt Streeter detail the affair in the Los Angeles Times.

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