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Supreme Court rejects ex-Illinois governor’s latest appeal

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s latest bid to shorten his 14-year prison sentence for corruption offenses including soliciting bribes for appointment to the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated after being elected president in 2008.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that rejected Blagojevich’s arguments that he deserved leniency because he has been a “model prisoner” in the years he has already spent in federal prison and because some counts in his original 2011 conviction had been thrown out.

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 Blagojevich, 61, was convicted on charges including wire fraud, extortion and soliciting bribes while governor. He served from January 2003 to January 2009, when the Illinois Senate removed him from office. Blagojevich began serving his sentence in 2012.
Prosecutors said Blagojevich, a Democrat and former contestant on President Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” reality TV show, solicited campaign contributions in exchange for raising pediatric healthcare reimbursement rates and legislation supporting his state’s horse racing industry. Blagojevich also tried to sell or trade the Senate seat that Obama vacated after winning the 2008 U.S. presidential election, prosecutors said.

 The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015 voided five of Blagojevich’s 18 convictions and ordered a resentencing, but U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago reimposed the 14-year term.
In its later 2017 decision, the 7th Circuit ruled that Zagel did not abuse his discretion in refusing the reduce the sentence.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Will Dunham


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We’re watching the same impeachment hearings, but seeing vastly different TV shows

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Are we watching the same show?” Let me tell you, critics love this timeworn retort from readers or other media types who disagree with something they’ve said or written about a favorite episode or series.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Opinions are singular and can be based on observation, structural minutiae, or simple gut feeling. They’re neither right nor wrong, unless some element of that opinion is related to a false premise. Or, and this seems to be more likely to be the case now than ever, unless the person declaring that your opinion is incorrect – not debatable, simply wrong – is utterly convinced they, themselves, are right. Nothing can persuade them otherwise.

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Pope Francis warns of Nazi-like fascism and corporate crimes — and adds ‘ecological sin’ to church teachings

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Pope Francis on Friday issued a warning against the rise of fascist forces worldwide that remind him of the Nazis of the 20th Century as he also railed against corporate crimes and announced consideration of adding "sins against ecology" to the church's official teachings.

During a speech at the Vatican before the 20th World Congress of the International Association of Penal Law, a network of justice system and criminology experts from around the world, the leader of the Catholic Church said worrying developments both in the political arena and from the world of business remind him of dark episodes from humanity's past, including Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

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Iowans flocked to Trump in 2016. He betrayed them

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There has been no escape this week from the mainstream media’s wall-to-wall Trump impeachment drama. Yet while the media’s fixation on the Beltway crime wave makes for good television (and newsprint), there is scant attention being paid to the continuing slide of the economic circumstances of tens of millions of American families.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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