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Ricin suspect appears in U.S. District Court for scheduling

Clad in a white Spokane County Jail jumpsuit and sporting a long, black beard, the Spokane man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to a federal judge and President Barack Obama appeared in court Wednesday to set a tentative timeline for his legal proceedings.

Matthew Ryan Buquet, 38, was mostly silent during an appearance in U.S. District Court for Eastern Washington on Wednesday morning, conferring in whispers with his attorneys and sipping water from a styrofoam cup. Buquet has been in federal custody since he was arrested shortly after mailing letters containing the biological toxin derived from castor seeds in mid-May. His case was recently transferred to District Judge Ancer Haggerty of Portland, Ore., because Buquet allegedly mailed one of the poisioned letters to Eastern Washington District Judge Fred Van Sickle.

According to a federal indictment filed earlier this summer, each of the letters Buquet sent read, “We have a bomb placed, we are going to Kill you! Hezbollah.”

Though the FBI has said field tests have produced positive results for the presence of ricin in the letters, Eastern Washington Assistant U.S. District Attorney Stephanie Van Marter said Wednesday the government expected to have final, peer-reviewed test results by the beginning of October. Judge Haggerty set motion hearings for January and February ahead of Buquet's expected trial date, to begin in May of next year.

The FBI discovered a total of five ricin letters mailed from Spokane in May, including missives directed to Fairchild Air Force Base, the CIA and a post office. Buquet's legal team declined comment on the pending investigation Wednesday. No one was injured as a result of the poisoned letters.

Buquet has pleaded not guilty to the three counts against him: one charge of developing, producing or possessing a known biological toxin and two counts of mailing a threatening communication. The first count carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Mailing threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years under federal law.

Murray backs Obama’s plan not to negotiate

The new leader of the U.S. Senate’s Budget Committee said Tuesday that Republican threats to shutdown the government are irresponsible.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said there will be opportunities to negotiate budget cuts without crafting a deal around increasing the county’s borrowing limit.

 

“The budget ceiling debate just puts our country in a very precarious position where we’re defaulting on our loans,” said Murray, who held a forum about job programs in Spokane on Tuesday. “That puts every business and person in our country in jeopardy. And it’s not a good place to be debating.”

 

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Obama coming to Seattle next week

OLYMPIA — President Obama will hit the Washington state campaign ATM again next week. He's scheduled to attend two fundraisers in Seattle.

A press release this morning from the Obama campaign said Washington is on a list of stops the president will make to raise money: Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington and Louisiana.

No firm details on the stops yet, although there will be two in Portland before the two in Seattle.

Obama was last in Seattle, for a pair of fundraisers, on May 10, the day after he announced he'd changed his mind and was supporting same-sex marriage. He also made campaign money stops in Seattle in February and last September.

Designers don’t like request by Obama for donated jobs posters

obama poster companyWe found this curious, ironic story at Rollingstone.com, describing some harsh reactions by designers to the suggestion by President Obama that they design a free poster for his jobs campaign.

The president has asked graphic artists to donate their work for nothing. That's set off a few people to attack the idea, saying that the program has plenty of cash and that no one should be asked to work for free. Especially in this economy.

The full hullabaloo is over at Rolling Stone, and the story notes those designers whose work is chosen will not get paid but receive a framed copy of their poster, signed by the president. (Approximate retail value: $195.)

The effort to generate the posters came out of Obama's relection campaign, not from the White House. The goal was to cite the president's jobs campaign as a reason why graphic artists support his election.

A “creative brief” that explains how to submit work is right here.

The “sample” poster on the right is by Ryan Roche and was reprinted at RollingStone.com.

ICB: Is Obama Proud Of America?

It is a curious time for me as an American who has always been proud of America and what it stands for. I don’t remember a time in my life ever questioning America’s good in the world. I certainly never questioned if our President was proud to be an American or of this country. Not even Jimmy Carter, as misguided as he was. Unfortunately today, with President Obama I can’t say the same. Over the last two years by his words and actions I can’t help but question how President Obama feels about America. It’s my belief that President Obama is not proud of America or to be an American/Idaho Conservative Blogger. More here.

Question: What do you make of ICB's contention that President Obama isn't proud of this country?

Obama Delivers Graduation Address

Students react with tears and laughter after meeting President Barack Obama before he delivers the commencement address at the Booker T. Washington High School graduation at Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn., today. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Question: Do you remember who gave your commencement address, either at your high school or college graduation?

Militia man guilty in Idaho grenade case

A self-described militia leader pleaded guilty this week to federal gun charges connected to a grenade manufacturing operation at his trailer in Spirit Lake, Idaho.

Kenneth B. Kimbley Jr., 58, discussed bombing local bridges with an undercover federal agent and made threatening statements toward President Barack Obama, leading investigators last July to seize 20,000 ammunition rounds and several firearms from Kimbley’s property, where he and other suspected militia members gathered to construct grenades, according to court documents.

Kimbley, who remains in federal custody, pleaded guilty to Monday to unlawful possession of a firearm and attempt to make a firearm in violation of the National Firearms Act. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 22.

“There was no plea deal,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan.

Past coverage:

Sept. 20: Glenn Beck inspired alleged grenade maker

July 6: Illegal grenade manufacturing uncovered in Spirit Lake

Obama urges liberals to “keep up the fight”

President Barack Obama signs emergency unemployment benefits legislation Thursday

LAS VEGAS – President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders sought to soothe relations with the party’s disgruntled left wing Saturday in advance of elections in which Republican gains could upend the White House agenda.

“Change hasn’t come fast enough for too many Americans. I know that,” Obama said in a surprise video appearance to liberal activists and bloggers at Las Vegas convention. “I know it hasn’t come fast for many of you who fought so hard during the election.” In a year when Democrats are expected to lose seats in Congress, party leaders have grown increasingly concerned with malaise running through the left wing. More here.   Michael R. Blood, AP Political Writer

Do you agree that there’s “malaise running through the left wing”? If so, what’s the cause?