Aaron Hernandez Murder Conviction Erased

For the past couple of years, most sports buffs have been watching the outcome of the Aaron Hernandez murder trial/s.  Recall that he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd, and was recently acquitted for a different double slaying in 2012.

Hernandez hung himself on April 19 in his jail cell and his appellate attorneys made their request under a long-standing legal principle that states when defendants die before their direct appeal is decided, their convictions are vacated or erased.

aaron hernandez alex popovic blog

Photo courtesy NY Daily News

It begs the question then, did Hernandez know and understand this, and did he take his life in an effort to collect on monies owed to him now under his old contract he had with the New England Patriots?

His contract was worth $40 million, but at the time of his death his estate was worthless and the only item of value, his home, is what his daughter and fiancee may have been able to collect from.

The Patriots may owe Hernandez an additional $3.25 million in guaranteed salary that was halted after his 2013 arrest.

The Patriots pin their case primarily on the notion that Hernandez allegedly committed two murders before signing the 2012 contract. Hernandez’s argument arises from the notion that he earned the payments, and that the Patriots cut him immediately after he was arrested for killing Odin Lloyd, instead of waiting for the league to suspend him.

I guess this is one of those classic cases of “I’ll see you in court.”

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Phoenix Police Arrest Serial Street Shooter

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Aaron Juan Saucedo, suspect in Serial Shooting case in Phoenix.  Picture courtesy of Phoenix Police Photos

After almost 2 years and 12 shootings that killed nine people and wounded two others, Phoenix Police announced today that they arrested Aaron Juan Saucedo and charged him with first-degree murder in a killing not originally linked to the string of shootings that had the city on edge for almost two years.

Saucedo is the suspect in at least 12 shootings and faces 27 felony charges including aggravated assault and drive-by-shootings.

He was the same person who was declared a person of interest in the case last month.

The reward on the case got as high as $75,000 and police said the received more than 3,300 tips in the case.

The map below shows where the shootings occurred and mainly in the city’s Maryvale section, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on Phoenix’s west side.

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Pat Tillman’s 13th Annual Run Attracts Over 28,000 Participants

Today is the 13th annual Pat Tillman 4.2 mile run which has been held every year since he was killed in combat while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.  This years race is the largest to date with over 28,000 participants.

Pat Tillman Alex Popovic BlogEvery year the Tillman foundation gives away full scholarships to veterans and active duty service members from all branches of service in both undergraduate and graduate studies that cover all expenses for awardees.

Who was Pat Tillman you ask, well here are some quick facts

  • He married his High School sweetheart (Marie Ugenti Tillman) and was very close to friends and family.
  • He started his college career in 1994 at ASU as a linebacker and got the last scholarship for the team.
  • He majored in marketing at ASU with a 3.85 GPA he graduated in 3.5 years
  • He was selected as the 226th pick in the NFL draft (one of the last players chosen) by the Arizona Cardinals.
  • He turned down a 5 year, $9 million dollar contract from the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to the Cardinals.  Amazing right! This guys loyalty is something that was unwavering
  • He finished his NFL career with 155 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 9 pass deflections and 1 interception for 30 yards.
  • He enlisted in the army after 9-11 and completed basic training in September 2002
  • He was killed by friendly fire while serving as a Ranger with the 2nd Ranger Battalion.
  • The army meritoriously promoted him to corporal and he was awarded, posthumously, the Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal

This event has been growing year over year and has given more scholarships away to service members and veterans attending ASU that has impacted so many lives, it’s an honor to be an ASU Sundevil.

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U.S. Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Bomb In Eastern Afghanistan

It was just announced that the US military has dropped the largest bomb in its arsenal that is non-nuclear, in Nangahar Province located in Eastern Afghanistan.

The bomb, known as a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast or MOAB was first tested on March 11, 2003 and weighs 22,600 lbs.  To put that in perspective, each Tomahawk cruise missile weighed 1,000 lbs that were launched into Syria last week.

Just days ago a US Special Forces soldier was killed there and the US has been actively fighting ISIS there who is trying to establish a foothold and expand its caliphate.

Interesting timing right, a day after failed talks with Russia who’s been accused of helping ISIS and Al-Qaeda there, by our top Generals on the ground, not something they’d do unless we had hard evidence.  What do you think Bashaar Al-Assad is thinking holed up in Syria?

There’s a new Sherriff in the world Al-Qaeda and ISIS and his name isn’t Barry O.

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Deedra Abboud CAIR Executive Director Runs For US Senate Against Jeff Flake

Deedra Abboud is a Phoenix attorney, community activist, advocate for women’s rights and a democrat running against Senator Jeff Flake (R), AZ in 2018.

Abboud, 45, formally announced her candidacy this morning at 10.30am in downtown Phoenix surrounded by family, friends and supporters.

Deedra Abboud

Notice the upside down AZ flag behind Abboud

Abboud said the following “The journey that I have decided to take on today is not just for the people who look like me or sound like me, but for all Arizonans,” Abboud told onlookers. “Because we cannot continue to go backwards on this path that weakens our children’s education, strips health care from people who need it the most, locking up and breaking up families, and, once again, empowering big banks that caused the worst housing crisis in Arizona.

During her 15 minute speech, the Arizona flag was hung upside down, and her campaign quickly said it wasn’t a political statement.

In a 2006 interview, she defended her husband’s right to have up to four wives.  She used to be a southern baptist Christian who converted to Islam and married her Iraqi husband.  She also doesn’t believe that Jesus could be the son of God.

During the Danish cartoon controversy, you know the one that caused radical’s to go on a killing spree worldwide, she said she “didn’t understand the fuss over the controversy.”  Her press release said otherwise:  “The [Danish] paper wanted to instigate trouble by disrespecting Muslims from the very beginning,” she wrote in an e-mail to local media on February 9.” Well now we also know she speaks out of both sides of her mouth and will say whatever “needs to be heard,” but truly believes something else.

Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu is likely to challenge Flake for the second time, however, Abboud is the first Democrat to formally run against Flake, who I believe needs to go along with Senator John McCain.

Abboud is the founder of an organization called the Global Institute of Solution Oriented Leadership and the recipient of the Martin Luther King Award in Tempe and Phoenix, according to the short bio that accompanied the news advisory about her Senate candidacy. As a lawyer, she focuses on immigration and estate planning.

In 2003, Abboud helped open the first Arizona office of the (CAIR) Council on American-Islamic Relations. She was the group’s local executive director at the time.  Yes that CAIR, with ties to radical Islamists.

“When 9/11 shook our country to the core, I became an advocate,” Abboud said Monday. “Not just because Muslims were facing anger and fearmongering, but because I am an American. Because I have always believed in our compassion and our strength in our country that can come together.”

Dr. Kelli Ward you’ve gotta win this go round, for our state’s sake.  (Update since this blog:  While back then I was in favor of Dr. Kelli Ward after her recent statement about Senator McCain, I have decided to pull my support for her.  For an educated doctor you sure said a really stupid thing and at the worst time.  You had this and just lost it because of a really stupid statement.)

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Arizona’s Famous Tent City To Be Shut Down Immediately​

After almost 24 years since it was first founded by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, tent city will be closed down today by the new Sherriff who defeated Arpaio last November in the election, a move which stunned many here in Maricopa County.

Newly elected Sheriff Paul Penzone announced yesterday that his office would close down the globally known and often controversial Tent City detention facility. He said “Starting today, the circus ends, and the tents come down,”

alex popovic tent city blogPenzone cited safety as playing a large part in his decision to close down the now infamous tents that housed inmates in pink pajamas and fed them brown bag lunches.

According to Penzone “For those who are concerned, let me be as crystal clear as I can be. I have five other detention centers with plenty of space,” he said. “We have the room.”

The current inmates housed there will take at least 45-60 days to move to other detention facilities and will save the MCSO about $4.5 million each year.

Arpaio touted the prison as being a large deterrent for crime, however, no statistical data shows that it prevented or even lowered crime rates across the crime spectrum. In fact, a recent inmate survey showed they actually preferred living there over more traditional confinement facilities.

Some famous people who were housed at tent city were Mike Tyson, Mark Grace, Charles Barkley and Glenn Campbell to name a few.

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Susan Rice, Obama Admin Ambassador Is Who Unmasked Trump Team Names

I wrote about the Trump Transition team being wiretapped and unmasked previously and specifically spoke about Ben Rhodes or Valerie Jarrett being persons likely to have exposed names of Trump team members who were collected during wiretaps of foreign nationals in the US.

Well, today another report just came out specifically naming Susan Rice, the former Obama administration UN Ambassador and probably greatest political hack and shrill, as being the person who unmasked the names of people associated with Donald Trump.

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She  “then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.”

Yep, there’s the connection and lap dogs who did the dirty work of the President and don’t for one second think that what they were doing wasn’t known to the former President both overtly and covertly.

What is ultimately going to happen is people are going to go to federal prison and this dark cloud will taint the prior presidency that will make “Watergate” look like a school kids playground story when all the dust settles. The precedence this sets and frankly, power it displays that can be manipulated and used against US citizens demonstrates why oversight and transparency is necessary and why distrust of the government is at an all-time high.

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Obama Administration Surveilled Trump Transition Team And Leaked Names to Press

Earlier this afternoon, House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., traveled to the White House to inform President Donald Trump that the intelligence community “incidentally collected” communications of the Trump transition team during legal surveillance of foreign targets.

Before we go any further, let me preface this piece with the following, unless you’ve held a security clearance higher than a Top Secret SCI with a poly and read on capabilities you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. I held such a clearance for almost 7 years and know what the intelligence community can do and does regularly with regards to US citizens “swept” up in surveillance operations.

alex popovic blog

President Donald Trump

Recall in a previous blog that I wrote when I stated the following “It’s a pretty big accusation to say what Donald Trump said, however, I’ve said all along, this guys’ intelligence and what he says is always spot on. Let me be clear, he says some off the wall crazy stuff, but when it comes to going after his opponents he waits patiently, gathers his Intel and fires his bullets.”

This revelation confirms what President Trump said earlier this month and completely contradicts what FBI Director James Comey testified to earlier this week, when he adamantly stated, that he had no evidence to support Trump’s claims.

So the leader of the world’s premier investigative unit that is charged with surveillance and counter-surveillance of foreign agents, didn’t know that this “accidental” collection, of at least one US citizen and perhaps more, occurred?

For those that don’t know a FISA warrant is only applied for and granted for surveillance and if a US citizen’s name is mentioned, it must by law be masked or blackened out.  And Rep. Nunes said the surveillance collection was “legally collected foreign intelligence under FISA incidental collection.”  Which begs the question, which US citizen/s was the Intelligence Community conducting surveillance on?  Could it have been President Elect Trump or people on his transition team?

Recall that several days before leaving office President Obama allowed intelligence agencies to share any and all intelligence information, an unprecedented act, which means the transcript of the surveillance being conducted on an unknown foreign national, and not Russian, was openly shared and passed among who knows who.  And that information would have definitely been seen by top Obama Administration officials and the former President too.

Is it any wonder how the entire Democratic party started with “Trump has ties with Russians” and the “Russians tainted the election?”

White House spokesman, Sean Spicer said “the NSA had been “very helpful” during the investigation, however, he was unsure if “the FBI is going to comply.”

Recall it was previously reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “unmasked” in this way, but Nunes said “additional names” were unmasked as well.”

So more people, presumably in President Trump’s camp, have been unmasked and fed to the media as Mike Flynn was. Remember, Mike Flynn was the former director of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) and if you don’t think the leaking of his name was retribution from people within the intelligence community, then go back up and read what I stated in the second paragraph of this blog.

It is becoming glaringly obvious, that the unmasking of names was done by persons with access to this highly sensitive and classified information and definitely from within the Intelligence Community.

Now it’s not such a far stretch to say that people within President Obama’s cabinet, people like Ben Rhodes or Valerie Jarret could have passed this along to the former President and further passed it along to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Like I said earlier, just because people within the Intelligence community are precluded from unmasking names or speaking with reporters about the Trump campaign doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and actually their own reporting proves it did.

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Dierks Bentley Whiskey Row Restaurant Denies Entry To US Marine Veteran

I’m not a big fan of what modern country music has become, maybe I’m more old school because I grew up with a father who listened to Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash’s of the world.

My wife, on the other hand, loves the modern day Luke Bryan’s, Brad Paisely’s and Dierks Bentley. Country music, in general, has always had a connection with us veterans, perhaps because country music speaks so much to patriotism, family values, and Americana.

As a veteran living here in Phoenix, the 5th largest city in the US, and who works closely with veterans in Real Estate and business, I believe in giving back to those that gave so much for our freedoms.  I definitely know not to judge a veteran family buying a home because one or both spouses have tattoos.  Do you know how much business I’d lose if I arbitrarily said “sorry I can’t work with you because of your neck or hand tattoos.”

Brandon Andrus Dierks Bentley Whiskey Row

Brandon Andrus, hugs his son with 22 tattooed on his neck to honor the 22 veterans committing suicide daily in the U.S.

Recently, a US Marine Corps veteran (with 2 tours in Iraq) was humiliated last Wednesday night when he was denied entrance into a Whiskey Row restaurant, owned and operated by Dierks Bentley into his new Gilbert Restaurant named Dierks Bentley.

Brandon Andrus, was turned away with family members because he had the number “22” tattooed on his neck to honor the 22 veterans taking their lives daily across the nation.

According to Andrus “they thought I was going to cause trouble,” talk about stereotyping right!

Robyn Moore, a spokeswoman for Riot Hospitality of Scottsdale, which operates three Whiskey Row restaurants owned and operated by Dierks Bentley and named after him, said: “the company was upholding a policy recommended by police.” Remember he’s from here and loves making money off them, but won’t allow “certain”vets into them.

So, Richard Park, a Phoenix resident called the Gilbert Police Department, who told him the following: “the police department recommends that companies formulate policies that they feel will make it a safe environment for their circumstances.”

So now you’re trying to throw blame on the Police Department and not accept the fact that it’s your policy and you’ve also been caught in a lie trying to defuse a PR nightmare.

Apparently, if Whiskey Row made an exception for Andrus, then “we would need to make an exception for everyone,” she went on to further say.

So let me get this straight, your policy is to allow no one with a neck tattoo in and how visible is considered visible? What if someone wore a jacket, took it off, and a tattoo peered out a little over the collar, would you escort them out after they spent several hundred dollars in your restaurant?

As a veteran in the community, I hope this hits you where it hurts best Whiskey Row, in your wallet. This is going to become a PR nightmare and mark my words it will spread like wildfire about what you did, and already has via local news.

The balls in your court, I know one thing though, I’ve never been to one of your places and now never will and I’ll do everything in my power and veteran network to spread the word about what you’re doing to those that sacrificed the most, our veterans.

Alex Popovic is a US Marine Force Reconnaissance and Scout/Sniper veteran.

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Bataan Death March 75th Anniversary Being Recognized in New Mexico

This week marks the 75th Anniversary that the Japanese military forced American prisoners of war to “march” 65 miles through the Philippine jungles in what has become to be known as the Bataan Death March.

Several years ago while traveling to see a friend in Taos, New Mexico, I stopped in at the Pueblo nation reservation and was fortunate enough to meet an old man, whose sunken eyes and dark tanned leather skin told the story of a tough life.

At first, I thought he was a farmer whose leathered skin bore the marks of long days spent in the sun, but I quickly found out that wasn’t the case.

His son came out and saw that I was wearing a military sweatshirt and asked me if had heard of the Bataan Death March. I said I had. He then pointed to his dad and said that’s one of the few that survived it.

They showed me pictures of what he looked like when he was saved and liberated. He weighed only 80 pounds and looked like a death camp survivor.

Battan Death March surivor

Alex Popovic with Bataan Death March survivor

This week, eight survivors of the march are gathering to participate in the 27th annual Bataan Memorial Death March. It is one of WW II’s greatest atrocities. Of the almost 10,000 Americans who endured starvation, torture, malnutrition and disease in 100+ degree temperatures, fewer than 50 survivors are alive today.

If you aren’t familiar with what happened during the March and why it occurred you can read about it here.

What these men endured, and particularly those from New Mexico, who sent 1,800 men fro the Army’s 200th and 515th regiments, is unbelievable. One thing it does show is the American spirit and how it endured at the horrific crimes committed against it by other men.

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