California’s “Three Strikes” Law Has Done Little Except To Cost State’s Taxpayers Big Bucks

October 14, 2012

CALIFORNIA – Contrary to what police, politicians and the public believe about the effectiveness of California’s three-strikes law, research by a University of California, Riverside criminologist has found that the get-tough-on-criminals policy voters approved in 1994 has done nothing to reduce the crime rate.

In a rigorous analysis of crime in California and the nation, sociology professor Robert Nash Parker determined that crime has been decreasing at about the same rate in every state for 20 years, regardless of whether three-strikes policies are in place or not.

Parker’s findings appear in the paper “Why California’s ‘Three Strikes’ Fails as Crime and Economic Policy, and What to Do,” published recently in the California Journal of Politics and Policy. The online journal publishes cutting-edge research on national, state and local government, electoral politics, and public policy formation and implementation.

California’s three-strikes law imposes a minimum sentence of 25 years to life on the third felony conviction for offenders with prior serious or violent felony convictions. Approximately 23,000 individuals have been incarcerated under three strikes. Proposition 36, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would impose the life sentence only when the new felony conviction is serious or violent.

“There is not a single shred of scientific evidence, research or data to show that three strikes caused a 100 percent decline in violence in California or elsewhere in the last 20 years,” Parker said, adding that the downward trend began two years before the California law was enacted.

Violent crime decreased by about the same rate in California and other three-strikes states as well as those without similar legislation, Parker found. Other researchers who have examined crime in California cities and counties since the legislation took effect have reached similar conclusions, he noted.

“Three-strikes is not driving the trend in violent crime,” Parker said.

Nor is threat of a life sentence for repeat offenders a deterrent, he added, citing the work of other researchers on offender behavior which found that neither prior arrests nor prior convictions had any impact on an individual offender’s perception of being caught, suggesting that three-strikes laws are not the deterrent that law enforcement officials, politicians and the public would like to believe.

If three-strikes laws do not account for the significant decline in violent crime, what does?

Alcohol consumption and unemployment, Parker believes.

Citing earlier research, analyses of 60 years of national crime data investigated alcohol consumption, unemployment, poverty, proportion of young people in the population, average earnings, welfare payments, and U.S. involvement in war as possible influences on crime.

Parker and Wisconsin researcher Randi Cartmill determined that when alcohol consumption increases, violent crime follows one or two years later, and that when alcohol consumption decreases, the crime rate drops one to two years later.

“Alcohol consumption peaked nationally in 1982 and has declined significantly and steadily ever since,” Parker said. “Beer and spirits consumption are the two most consistent predictors of homicide.”

Unemployment is a lesser, but influential factor, in the rise and fall of crime rates, they found.

“These findings are consistent with a growing body of research that demonstrates the important relationship between alcohol and violence in the U.S.,” Parker said. “There is no justification for continuing three strikes from a violence prevention point of view. In fact, this analysis suggests that alcohol policy designed to reduce overall consumption in California may be more effective at reducing violence than three strikes and/or other criminal justice policy initiatives.”

While three strikes has been ineffective in reducing the crime rate, Parker says, the law has contributed significantly to California’s serious budget woes, which now also impacts county jails as inmates are transferred from state prisons to local jurisdictions to comply with court orders to reduce overcrowding—a policy known as “realignment.”

Incarcerating so many Californians has shifted state spending priorities, he points out. In 1985, spending on higher education in the state accounted for about 11 percent of the budget; prisons consumed 4 percent of state spending. By 1993, spending for each accounted for about 6 percent of the budget. By 2010, higher education spending accounted for less than 6 percent of the state budget while prison spending consumed nearly 10 percent. K-12 budgets and spending on health and welfare programs have eroded substantially since the implementation of three strikes as well.

The state spends approximately $57,500 to house one inmate for one year, according to the California State Auditor.

Leaving three strikes intact while pursuing the policy of realignment could result in significant financial problems in the near future for both state and local governments, Parker cautioned.

“California should give up its addiction to the all-you-can-eat buffet of imprisonment, the result of which has been to undermine the financial health of the state, weaken the quality of education at all levels, and force the state to make draconian cuts in programs that enhance and benefit the lives of its residents in exchange for the mistaken idea that public safety was the result,” Parker concluded. “The bottom-line result of three strikes has been an almost unbearable financial burden that looms in the future despite current efforts, and which will only be resolved when the pipeline of over-punishment is finally shut down.”

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El Dorado County California Judge Fall For The Old “I’ll Be Right Back”, Man Sentenced To State Prison For Domestic Violence Now In The Wind

October 10, 2012

EL DORADO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA – A man who was being sentenced to state prison ran away after he was released for three hours Thursday to get his affairs in order.

According to El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Pete Van Arnum, a judge signed a three-hour release for Anthony James Katello, 51, to take care of business before his incarceration. A volunteer from a local church was tasked with driving Katello to a couple places in South Lake Tahoe. When he drove into the Barton Memorial Hospital area, where Katello said he had to meet someone, Katello took off on foot.

“I don’t think the judge would have released him if he felt he was dangerous,” Van Arnum said.

Sheriff’s deputies, South Lake Tahoe SWAT, a CHP airplane and K-9 units searched the meadow area behind Barton, where Katello was reportedly last seen, for hours, Van Arnum said.

Katello was in custody for spousal battery and making terrorist threats. Police have issued a warrant for his arrest. Anyone who sees Katello is asked to call 911.

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Congressmen Press Army To Purchase Tanks That It Doesn’t Need – 2000 Parked In Nevada Collecting Dust And No New Purchases, Which Will Save Taxpayers Billions

October 10, 2012

HERLONG, CALIFORNIA – If you need an example of why it is hard to cut the budget in Washington look no further than this Army depot in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada range.

CNN was allowed rare access to what amounts to a parking lot for more than 2,000 M-1 Abrams tanks. Here, about an hour’s drive north of Reno, Nevada, the tanks have been collecting dust in the hot California desert because of a tiff between the Army and Congress.

The U.S. has more than enough combat tanks in the field to meet the nation’s defense needs – so there’s no sense in making repairs to these now, the Army’s chief of staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told Congress earlier this year.

If the Pentagon holds off repairing, refurbishing or making new tanks for three years until new technologies are developed, the Army says it can save taxpayers as much as $3 billion.

That may seem like a lot of money, but it’s a tiny sacrifice for a Defense Department that will cut $500 billion from its budget over the next decade and may be forced to cut a further $500 billion if a deficit cutting deal is not reached by Congress.

Why is this a big deal? For one, the U.S. hasn’t stopped producing tanks since before World War II, according to lawmakers.

Plus, from its point of view the Army would prefer to decide what it needs and doesn’t need to keep America strong while making tough economic cuts elsewhere.

“When a relatively conservative institution like the U.S. military, which doesn’t like to take risks because risks get people killed, says it has enough tanks, I think generally civilians should be inclined to believe them,” said Travis Sharp a fellow at the defense think tank, New American Security.

But guess which group of civilians isn’t inclined to agree with the generals on this point?

Congress.

To be exact, 173 House members – Democrats and Republicans – sent a letter April 20 to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him to continue supporting their decision to produce more tanks.

That’s right. Lawmakers who frequently and loudly proclaim that presidents should listen to generals when it comes to battlefield decisions are refusing to take its own advice.

If the U.S. pauses tank production and refurbishment it will hurt the nation’s industrial economy, lawmakers say.

“The combat vehicle industrial base is a unique asset that consists of hundreds of public and private facilities across the United States,” the letter said. The outlook for selling Abrams tanks to other nations appears “stronger than prior years,” the letter said. But those sales would be “inadequate to sustain the industrial base and in some cases uncertain. In light of this, modest and continued Abrams production for the Army is necessary to protect the industrial base.”

Lima, Ohio, is a long way from this dusty tank parking lot. The tiny town in the eastern part of the Buckeye State is where defense manufacturing heavyweight General Dynamics makes these 60-plus-ton behemoths.

The tanks create 16,000 jobs and involve 882 suppliers, says Kendell Pease, the company’s vice-president of government relations and communications. That job figure includes ancillary positions like gas station workers who fill up employees’ cars coming and going to the plant.

Many of the suppliers for tank manufacturing are scattered around the country so the issue of stopping production or refurbishment becomes a parochial one: congressional representatives don’t want to kill any jobs in their districts, especially as the economy struggles during an election year.

“General Dynamics is not the industrial base,” Pease said. “It is small vendors.”

But General Dynamics certainly has a stake in the battle of the tanks and is making sure its investment is protected, according to research done by The Center for Public Integrity, a journalism watchdog group.

What its reporters found was General Dynamics campaign contributions given to lawmakers at key times, such as around congressional hearings, on whether or not to build more tanks.

“We aren’t saying there’s vote buying” said Aaron Metha, one of the report’s authors. “We are saying it’s true in pretty much all aspects of politics – but especially the defense industry. It’s almost impossible to separate out the money that is going into elections and the special interests. And what we found was the direct spike in the giving around certain important dates that were tied to votes.”

Pease said General Dynamics is bipartisan in its giving and there is nothing suspicious in the timing of its donations to members of the House and Senate. The giving is tied to when fundraisers are held in Washington – which is also when Congress is in session, he said.

Lawmakers that CNN interviewed denied that donations influenced their decisions to keep the tanks rolling.

Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California and chairman of the House armed services committee, said he didn’t know General Dynamics had given him $56,000 in campaign contributions since 2009 until CNN asked him about it.

“You know, the Army has a job to do and we have a job to do,” McKeon said. “And they have tough choices because they’ve been having their budget cut.”

McKeon said he’s thinking about the long range view. “… If someone could guarantee us that we’ll never need tanks in the future, that would be good. I don’t see that guarantee.”

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California Whining Now That Folks Out Of State Folks Take Them Up On Their Free Money Program

October 7, 2012

CALIFORNIA – Just over 8.5 billion recyclable cans were sold in California last year. The number redeemed for a nickel under California’s recycling law: 8.3 billion.

That’s a return rate of nearly 100%.

That kind of success isn’t just impressive, it’s unbelievable. But the recycling rate for certain plastic containers was even higher: 104%.

California’s generous recycling redemption program has led to rampant fraud. Crafty entrepreneurs are driving semi-trailers full of cans from Nevada or Arizona, which don’t have deposit laws, across the border and transforming their cargo into truckfuls of nickels. In addition, recyclers inside the state are claiming redemptions for the same containers several times over, or for containers that never existed.

The illicit trade is draining the state’s $1.1-billion recycling fund. Government officials recently estimated the fraud at $40 million a year, and an industry expert said it could exceed $200 million. It’s one reason the strapped fund paid out $100 million more in expenses last year than it took in from deposits and other sources.

“The law says California has to make it easy to recycle … so anyone with a devious mind, it’s so easy, they can just go right in,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Dave Chapman, who has investigated fraud rings in recent months.

Under the state’s 25-year-old recycling law, California charges consumers a deposit on most beverage containers sold within its borders. Anyone who brings empty containers back to one of about 2,300 privately run recycling centers can collect 5 cents for most cans and bottles and 10 cents for larger containers.

Only products sold in California are eligible. But a can is a can — and many recycling centers in California aren’t that interested in where they come from.

Hence the influx from out of state. Last summer, the state Department of Food and Agriculture counted all vehicles driving into the state with used beverage containers through 16 border stations. The three-month tally was 3,500, including 505 rental trucks filled to capacity with cans.

Officials with the state Department of Justice said they have filed approximately 10 criminal cases this year against fraud rings bringing in cans from outside California.

Investigators looking into one case sometimes stumble across another.

In the spring of 2010, special agents Jose Soto and Joe Somanek, part of the Justice Department’s recycling fraud unit, were driving east on Interstate 8 to tie up some details in a case in Arizona.

Around 5 a.m, they were drinking coffee and making plans for the day when a white Ford pickup and trailer sped past them, heading west. Suspecting the truck might be carrying cans, the agents flipped a U-turn and followed it more than 150 miles to San Diego, where it pulled into Ace Recycling. The driver and his passenger unloaded 21 large bags full of cans, were paid by the owner and headed back to Yuma.

The suspects made the same journey at least three more times over the next few weeks. Officials said that fraud ring brought in at least $189,000 worth of cans before they were caught.

Ultimately, the owner of Ace Recycling, Michael Barshak, and several others pleaded guilty to grand theft and unlawful recycling.

Eleven states have container redemption programs, and experts believe some level of fraud exists in each. “Seinfeld” fans will recognize the scheme: Two characters once conspired to drive a mail truck full of empty bottles from New York, where they could be redeemed for 5 cents each, to Michigan, where they could fetch 10.

The problem is particularly challenging — and costly — in California. This is the only state in the region besides Oregon with a deposit program, making it a magnet for recycling fraud. And it is the only state besides Hawaii to directly administer the program through private recycling centers.

Other states have beverage distributors or sellers collect the deposits and pay the redemption costs, so they — and not the state — are responsible for the money. But grocery stores and markets opposed that approach in California, which opted to have private recycling centers take in the material. The state reimburses the centers for what they spend on redemption costs, based on their account of what they take in by weight.

The centers, which make their money by selling the material for scrap value and sometimes by collecting additional fees from the state, have a financial incentive to maximize the amount of material they take in, not to look for fraud.

State officials say recycling centers in California are required to take reasonable precautions: They are not allowed, for instance, to buy more than 500 pounds of aluminum or 2,500 pounds of glass from any one person in any given day.

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Los Angeles California TSA Agent Clyde Reese Arrested After Stealing $100 From Traveler

October 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Authorities say a Transportation Security Administration officer was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after being accused of stealing $100 from a passenger.

Clyde Reese, 47, of Gardena, was arrested on suspicion of theft about 8 a.m. Friday and booked at the 77th Street Station in response to an airline passenger complaint in Terminal 5, Los Angeles Airport police Sgt. Karla Ortiz told the Daily Breeze.

The victim, who wasn’t identified, said he put his wallet and other items in a bin and passed it through the X-ray machine, and Reese said it needed to go through a second time, Ortiz said.

When the bin emerged, the victim said his wallet was open and his credit cards were scattered inside, Ortiz said. She told the Daily Breeze the victim said his boss gave him $500 for expenses and $100 was missing.

TSA spokesman Nico Melendez issued a statement, saying the agency “holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has a zero tolerance for theft.”

“In cases involving theft on duty, it is agency policy to remove the officer immediately from screening duties and terminate the officer from employment,” Melendez said.

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Costa Mesa California Mayor Eric Bever Sees Starvation As Answer To City’s Homeless Problems – Fortunately He’ll Be Out Of Office Next Month

October 6, 2012

COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA – The mayor of Costa Mesa proposed to get rid of soup kitchens to deal with the area’s homeless problem at a city council meeting on Tuesday.

“My belief is that if we manage to put the soup kitchen out of business that will go a long way to addressing the attractiveness in our city that’s creating a huge negative impact,” Eric Bever said.

According to Bever, the “negative impact” is homeless people who like Costa Mesa because of services that offer food to less fortunate individuals.

Clients at Someone Cares Soup Kitchen and the non-profit Share Our Selves were stunned by the controversial comments.

“It’s very hard to come here. I’ve been a very self-sufficient person my entire life,” said a tearful Mary Raphael. “When I need some help, I’m told I’m trash? It’s not a very kind thought.”

Shannon Santos, the executive director of Someone Cares, said nearly half of her clients are low-income seniors and most of the people who eat there live nearby.

She said she’s thankful the mayor will be termed out of office next month, but still offered him an invitation.

“My open invitation is for him to come in and have lunch with me,” said Santos.

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California Gas Prices Jump 20 Cents Overnight, Stations Run Out And Shut Down – $5 Gas Prices If Trend Continue

October 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Gas prices seem to be climbing by the second, setting unwanted records, angering drivers and even causing closures at some pumps.

Gas prices shot up 19.2 cents overnight Thursday. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in L.A. County was $4.58 on Friday, the highest figure since 2008.

In Orange County, the average is up 20 cents to $4.53, while in the Inland Empire, it’s up to $4.48. In Ventura County, the average price per gallon is $4.54.

The price increases could continue for weeks and the average might even break the $5 mark, according to experts.

Refinery and pipeline mishaps, along with the state’s strict pollution limits are all, in part, to blame. They’ve sent wholesale prices soaring to all-time highs this week.

One of the disruptions involved a power outage on Monday at the Exxon Mobil plant in Torrance, which normally produces 150 millions barrels of gas per day.

Additionally, Chevron’s Richmond plant, the largest refinery in Northern California, has been running at reduced capacity since a fire Aug. 6.

At the same time, California refineries have dropped production in recent weeks in anticipation of switching over to a “winter blend” of gasoline, which emits more pollutants, next month.

But California’s summer-blend fuel requirements are in effect in Southern California until Oct. 31.

Because of the spike in wholesale prices, some gas station owners have stopped making purchases to fill their underground tanks.

Mom-and-pop stations are really feeling the squeeze. They’ve had to shut down because they can’t get gas from their regular distributor, or they can’t afford it.

And at least 12 Costco gas stations, including those in Marina del Rey, Tustin and Inglewood, have run out of gasoline.

The Costco in Simi Valley ran out of regular fuel on Thursday and was selling premium fuel at regular prices.

Costco is an independent gas provider, so it has to find gas on the open market.

Costco’s CEO said Friday morning that he expects to have gasoline back in their tanks soon, but probably not in time for the weekend.

Valero Energy Corp. stopped selling gasoline on the wholesale market in Southern California and is allocating deliveries to customers.

Exxon Mobil Corp. is also rationing fuel to U.S. West Coast terminal customers.

Gas prices in California should continue to rise as retail prices catch up with wholesale prices, analysts say.

“Wholesale prices have gone up $1 a gallon in the last week alone, and retail prices have only followed for 30 cents,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, told the Daily News.

He said that means there’s still room for gas prices to climb, and he expects that’s exactly what they will do.

Gas prices have already surpassed $5 a gallon at a few filling stations in California, according to GasBuddy.com.

The average price per gallon in California is already well above the record high national average price of $4.114 a gallon, which was set in 2008 when oil prices rose to $140 a barrel.

And it’s likely that California’s record average price of $4.61 per gallon, set in June 2008, will be broken, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service.

Analysts expect that the surge in California gas prices will retreat sometime in October, though it’s impossible to say exactly when.

Relief could come more quickly if the state’s refineries are allowed to switch to the cheaper winter-grade fuel before the end of October.

The California Independent Oil Marketers Association, which represents wholesale and retail fuel marketers, asked the state Thursday to expedite a waiver allowing for the switch.

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California Oil Refiners Start Rationing Fuel And Gas Stations Shut Down – Prices Surge To A Record

October 5, 2012

CALIFORNIA – Gasoline station owners in the Los Angeles area including Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) are beginning to shut pumps as the state’s oil refiners started rationing supplies and spot prices surged to a record.

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) stopped selling gasoline on the spot, or wholesale, market in Southern California and is allocating deliveries to customers. Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) is also rationing fuel to U.S. West Coast terminal customers. Costco’s outlet in Simi Valley, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, ran out of regular gasoline yesterday and was selling premium fuel at the price of regular.

The gasoline shortage “feels like a hurricane to me, but it’s the West Coast,” Jeff Cole, Costco’s vice president of gasoline, said by telephone yesterday. “We’re obviously extremely disheartened that we are unable to do this, and we’re pulling fuel from all corners of California to fix this.”

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles has surged $1 a gallon this week to a record $1.45 a gallon premium versus gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the highest level for the fuel since at least November 2007, when Bloomberg began publishing prices there. On an outright basis, the fuel has jumped to $4.3929 a gallon.
Prices Jump

Gasoline at the pump gained 8.3 cents to $4.315 a gallon in California yesterday, according to AAA.com, 53.1 cents more than the national average of $3.784. In Los Angeles the price was $4.347. Gasoline futures for November delivery on the Nymex rose 14.34 cents to settle at $2.9429 a gallon, after falling yesterday to a 10-week low. Retail price movements tend to lag behind those of futures.

“Product supply in California has tightened, especially in Southern California, due to refinery outages,” Bill Day, a Valero spokesman at the company’s headquarters in San Antonio, said by e-mail.

Exxon’s Torrance refinery is restoring operations after losing power Oct. 1. Phillips 66 (PSX) is scheduled to perform work on gasoline-making units at its two California refineries this month, two people with knowledge of the schedules said. A Chevron Corp. (CVX) pipeline that delivers crude to Northern California refineries was also shut last month due to elevated levels of chloride in the oil.
San Francisco

Spot California-blend gasoline, or Carbob, in San Francisco surged 30 cents to $1.40 a gallon over futures, also the highest level since at least 2007, at 4:03 p.m. New York time.

Low-P, a gasoline station in Calabasas, California, 30 miles west of Los Angeles, stopped selling unleaded gasoline Oct. 2 and ran out of high-octane and medium-octane fuel yesterday, John Ravi, the station’s owner, said by phone yesterday. Ravi said he posted an “Out of Gasoline” sign on each pump and took down the prices outside his shop.

“I can get gas, but it’s going to cost me $4.90 a gallon, and I can’t sell it here for $5,” Ravi said. “If you come here right now, I’ve got some diesel left. That’s all. My market is open, but no gas.”

“We’re going to start shutting pumps Friday,” Sam Krikorian, owner of Quality Auto Repair in North Hollywood, said by phone yesterday. “Gas is costing me almost $4.75 a gallon with taxes. There’s no sense in staying open. The profit margins are so low it’s not worth it.”
’Squeeze is On’

“The squeeze is on, and people are doing desperate things,” Bob van der Valk, an independent petroleum industry analyst in Terry, Montana, said by e-mail yesterday. “The mom- and-pop gas stations are having to close down from either not being able to obtain gasoline from their regular distributor or cannot afford the break-even price of almost $5 per gallon.”

Costco is working on a plan to alert its members as gasoline runs out at the company’s stores “so customers don’t have to guess where to go,” Cole said. The company will sell whatever premium gasoline it has stored for regular gasoline prices wherever supplies run out, he said.

“Costco is a membership warehouse club with a relationship based on trust,” he said. “We’re not delivering what the members asked us to deliver, and that’s not acceptable to us. So we’re doing whatever we can to fix it.”
Short-Term Problem

Van der Valk called the price surge a “a short-term problem.” Wholesale costs should start falling as Exxon’s refinery returns to normal operations and other plants finish maintenance.

The California Independent Oil Marketers Association, a Sacramento-based group that represents wholesale and retail fuel marketers, asked the state yesterday to expedite a waiver that would allow refiners to produce and sell winter-grade fuel, Jay McKeeman, a spokesman for the association, said by telephone yesterday.

“Everybody is concerned about what might happen,” he said. “The real question is: How long is this going to last and what can the state do?”

California’s summer-blend fuel requirements are in effect in Southern California until Oct. 31. The Reid Vapor Pressure, or RVP, limits are lifted in other areas of the state as early as Sept. 30.

The state Air Resources Board and Energy Commission are evaluating fuel supplies and haven’t decided on the waiver, Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the air board in Sacramento, said by e- mail.
‘Losing Money’

The independent gas station owners are typically the first to run out of fuel and shut their pumps when spot prices surge because they often lack long-term contracts to buy from fuel suppliers at set prices, McKeeman said.

Jim Li said yesterday that he may stop selling gasoline at his independent station, Best Auto Care, in San Francisco. He’s charging $4.59 a gallon for the fuel, “and I’m still losing money,” he said.

Wholesale prices are “going up so quick that there’s not even any margin to make any money at all,” he said by telephone.

California-grade, or CARB, diesel in Los Angeles climbed 0.5 cent to 16.5 cents a gallon above heating oil futures on the Nymex. The fuel in San Francisco was unchanged at a premium of 17 cents a gallon versus futures.

Jet fuel in Los Angeles increased 0.37 cent to a premium of 11.25 cents a gallon against futures, the highest since Sept. 19.

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Bad Cops: Lawyers Call For Feds To Take Over Oakland California Police Department To Protect Citizens, Especially Minorites, From Dangerous Police Officers – 10’s Of Millions Spent To Settle Police Abuse Lawsuits

October 5, 2012

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – A historic fight over whether Oakland can reform its own police force began in earnest Thursday when civil rights attorneys asked a federal judge to take the unprecedented step of appointing a receiver to assure the changes are made.

The attorneys said a broken culture in the department had turned a decade-long reform effort into a “chronic failure,” endangering citizens – especially minorities – and costing the city tens of millions of dollars to settle police abuse lawsuits.

The lawyers represented more than 100 people who sued the city after four officers, who called themselves the Riders, were accused in 2000 of imposing vigilante justice in West Oakland. In a resulting settlement, Oakland had to implement a raft of reforms – which remain incomplete.

“A receiver is now required to do what city and (Oakland Police Department) officials have refused to do,” wrote John Burris, James Chanin and Julie Houk, in a 57-page motion to U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson.

“There can be little doubt that further extensions will result in more constitutional violations,” they wrote, “and cause injuries, and even death, to innocent human beings, including members of the OPD.”
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3rd Fullerton California Police Officer, Joseph Wolfe, Charged With Beating Innocent, Mentally Ill, Homeless Man To Death – Caught On Security Camera

October 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A third former Fullerton, California, police officer was charged in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man, the Orange County district attorney said.

Joseph Wolfe, 37, pleaded innocent Thursday to one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of use of excessive force in connection with the death of 37-year-old Kelly James Thomas on July 7, 2011.

The charges against Wolfe came as a result of a grand jury indictment handed down on Monday, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a statement.

Since Thomas’ death, the district attorney’s office “has actively continued its investigation and legal review and decided to seek indictment against Wolfe following extensive legal and factual analysis and development of evidence,” the statement said.

Wolfe was released on $25,000 bail, according to authorities at the Orange County jail. He faces up to a maximum four years in prison, if convicted.

Wolfe’s defense attorney, Vicki Podberesky, did not immediately respond early Friday to a CNN request for comment.

The indictment against Wolfe comes nearly a year after two other former Fullerton police officers were charged in the case. They were ordered to stand trial in May.

The grand jury heard testimony from 10 witnesses and reviewed 113 exhibits of evidence over three days before handing down the indictment against Wolfe, the statement said. State law requires grand jury transcripts to be sealed for 10 days after the defense has received the documents.

Thomas, a lifelong resident of Fullerton, was shirtless and carrying a backpack, and was wearing long pants and slippers, when Fullerton police were called to investigate a “homeless” man looking in car windows and pulling door handles of parked cars at the city’s bus depot last July, according to a lawsuit filed by Thomas’ father.

Father sues California police

A security camera at the downtown bus depot provided 16 minutes of video of the officers questioning and then beating Thomas, who was schizophrenic.

Former Officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and former Cpl. Jay Patrick Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony use of excessive force.

Both have pleaded not guilty. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for November 30.

Ramos, 37, a 10-year veteran of the police department, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life, if convicted, authorities have said. Cicinelli, 39, a 12-year Fullerton police veteran, faces a maximum of four years in prison, if convicted.

Recently, Thomas’ mother, Cathy, received $1 million from Fullerton’s insurance reserves in an agreement to settle her claim against the city in her son’s death, according to a city statement. Cathy Thomas, who’s divorced from Frederick “Ron” Thomas, released the city and its police officers from all potential claims, the city’s statement said.

Thomas’ father, Frederick Thomas Jr., filed a lawsuit in July against the city, its police chief and the six officers allegedly involved in the fatal incident. The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

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Lawsuit Charges Los Angeles California Police Officers With Violent And Brutal Beating And Tasering Of Innocent Unarmed College Student – All Charges Against LAPD’s Victim Dropped

October 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A college student who claims he was unjustly beaten and Tasered by officers while out with his friends in Hollywood last October is suing the Los Angeles Police Department.

“All I could remember was just sirens and punches,” said Aibuedefe Oghogho, who has no criminal past. Oghogho has filed a lawsuit against the LAPD, alleging excessive use of force and a violation of his civil rights for the arrest that happened on Oct. 22, 2010.

In the video, officers can be seen pulling up in an unmarked car and asking Oghogho what he’s holding. He says one of the officers pushed him, and Oghgho admits to putting up an arm and saying, “Stop.” That’s when he says things went south.

During the struggle, Officer Jenkins can be seen pulling his baton and striking Oghogho in the neck. He and his partner, Officer Tafoya, are then seen repeatedly punching Oghogho while he is on the ground. Oghogho is then put in handcuffs and is motionlesson the ground when what appears to be an army of backup officers arrive.

“They picked me up, threw me onto this fence and they threw me onto the fence started hitting me while I was on the fence and then they slammed me down like head first,” Oghogho said. “And I’m…and it’s the whole time they’re doin’ it, the whole time they’re doin’ it, I hear one officer keep punching me in my face, he’s telling me, ‘stop resisting arrest, stop resisting arrest’ and all I could say to myself was, ‘I’m not resisting.’”
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Harbor City California School Police Officer Uses Pepper Spray To Assault Every Student In Sight As 2 or 3 Girls Fight – “She Just Started Spraying. She Was Going Crazy With The Spray” – Spraying People Just Walking Past That Weren’t Involved – 47 Students Examined And Treated At The Scene And At Least 2 Taken To Hospital

October 4, 2012

HAROBOR CITY, CALIFORNIA – Forty-seven patients were examined after police used pepper spray to break up a fight at Narbonne High School in Harbor City, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

A fire department spokesman and a Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman both stated the treatment was taking place after school police used pepper spray. It wasn’t clear where on campus the incident occurred.

Witnesses said a fight between two girls escalated and others became involved, then a a female police officer pulled out the pepper spray.

“The lady just said, ‘Disperse.’ She didn’t give nobody no time to leave, she just started spraying. She was going crazy with the spray,” one student witness said. “People that was walking past that wasn’t even involved got sprayed.”

A mother whose daughter was involved in the fight said the incident started with bullying.

Los Angeles Fire Department’s Brian Humphrey said in an emailed alert to news media that 47 patients were examined on campus “for minor respiratory + eye irritation following pepper spray exposure.”

Some patients briefly accepted oxygen, and one 16-year-old male student was taken to the hospital in good condition with “lingering respiratory irritation,” Humphrey said.

“When firefighters arrived, the campus was very calm,” Humphrey said.

Aerial video showed two patients being wheeled to waiting ambulances. Several fire trucks sat outside the Harbor Area school, which had about 3,300 students last year.

The incident was reported at 10:18 a.m. at the school at 24230 Western Ave.

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US Begins To FLY Wetbacks Home To Mexico – Illegal Immigrants Previously Bussed To Mexican Border Towns, Now Thousands – Many Of Them Criminals, Will Be Flown In Luxury To Mexico City At US Taxpayer Expense

October 4, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. government began flying Mexican deportees home on Tuesday in a two-month experiment aimed at relieving Mexican border cities overwhelmed by large numbers of people ordered to leave the United States, some who fall prey to criminal gangs.

The flights will run twice a week from El Paso, Texas, to Mexico City until Nov. 29, at which time both governments will evaluate the results and decide whether to continue. The first flight left Tuesday with 131 Mexicans aboard.

The flights are not voluntary, unlike a previous effort from 2004 to 2011 to deport Mexicans arrested by the Border Patrol during Arizona’s deadly summer heat. The U.S. government will pay for the flights, and the Mexican government will pay to return people from Mexico City to their hometowns.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretary said late Tuesday that more than 2,400 passengers will be flown to Mexico City during the next two months. Mexicans from the country’s northern border states are not eligible.

The experiment comes as Mexican cities along the U.S. border are grappling with large numbers of deportees who have no roots, few job prospects and sometimes limited Spanish. Many are deported to cities that are among the hardest hit by organized crime in Mexico, particularly across the border from Texas in the state of Tamaulipas.

“The newly repatriated, often with no means to return home, are susceptible to becoming part of criminal organizations as a means of survival,” Gustavo Mohar, Mexico’s interior undersecretary for population, migration and religious affairs, said in a statement released by ICE.

ICE Director John Morton said the flights “will better ensure that individuals repatriated to Mexico are removed in circumstances that are safe and controlled.”

ICE, which is managing the flights, said passengers will include Mexicans with criminal convictions in the United States and those who don’t have any. They will be taken from throughout the United States to a processing center in Chaparral, N.M., before being put on flights at El Paso International Airport.

President Barack Obama’s administration has made migrants with criminal convictions a top priority among the roughly 400,000 people of all nationalities who are deported each year. The Department of Homeland Security said nearly half of the 293,966 Mexicans deported in its last fiscal year had criminal convictions in the United States.

The policy has fueled concern in Mexican cities along the U.S. border that deportees are being victimized, turn to petty crime or are recruited by criminal gangs. In February, Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Mexican Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire announced plans for a pilot program, which was to begin April 1, but negotiations delayed the start until Tuesday. Homeland Security officials said the time was needed considering the complexities and logistics of the effort.

The Border Patrol will not participate in the flights, which is called the Interior Repatriation Initiative, said ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas.

Under a previous effort, some Mexicans who were arrested by the Border Patrol in Arizona’s stifling summer heat were offered a free flight to Mexico City, but they could refuse. The Mexican Interior Repatriation Program flights carried 125,164 passengers at a cost of $90.6 million from 2004 to 2011, or an average of $724 for each passenger, according to ICE.

The flights became a key piece of Border Patrol enforcement in Arizona as the agency moved to end its decades-old, revolving-door policy of taking migrants to the nearest border crossing to try again hours later.

Doris Meissner, who headed the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1990s, said the pilot program was an encouraging sign that that two governments are working together to address the large number of deportees in Mexico’s northern border cities.

“It makes it less likely these people will try to renter the U.S. … and it creates some chance that they are in an environment where they actually have some ties,” she said.

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Sacramento California Lawyer Scott Johnson, Who Targeted 2,100 Businesses With ADA Lawsuits, Faces Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Filed By Four Former Legal Assistants – His Unethical Legal Practices Come To Light

October 3, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Scott Johnson, the quadriplegic attorney who has sued more than 2,100 businesses for violating his civil rights, finds himself on the receiving end of a lawsuit that sheds harsh light on his legal practice.

Four former legal assistants employed by Johnson, all women, have filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court claiming sexual harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to the complaint, all four women claim they were fired or otherwise forced out of their jobs at Johnson’s Carmichael home office this summer for complaining about the hostile work environment.

The plaintiffs are Jenna Doeuk and Esra Jones, both 5-year employees; Monthica Kem, a 4-year employee; and Micaela Lucas, who worked for Johnson for a year-and-a-half.

The women said they were only allowed to work as legal assistants after they spent approximately two weeks in “personal care training” learning to dress and undress their boss.

They claim their duties included placing Johnson in a hot tub and rubbing lotion on his body.

The women said the intimate contact made them uncomfortable, but that they were initially afraid to complain for fear of retaliation.

The lawsuit also claims the women were constantly under video surveillance, which included a camera aimed at the restroom to monitor how much time they spent there.

When it came time to hire staff, Jenna Doeuk, the most senior assistant involved in the lawsuit, said Johnson told her not to interview “men, ugly women and anyone over 30,” regardless of their qualifications.

The former legal assistants also offer insight into allegations that contrary to his claims, Johnson never personally visited many of the businesses he has sued under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The women said they would accompany Johnson in his van for “field work” during which he would send them into a business as customers to look for ADA violations.

“He would call such actions a visit to the property even if he never left the van,” the lawsuit claims.

The women said they were uncomfortable going into a business under a ruse and felt as though they were committing fraud, but said they were paid a bonus for the field work.

The lawsuit also claims Johnson recruited and subsidized rent for disabled students who lived in apartment complexes he was interested in suing.

The former legal assistants are seeking an unspecified money judgment against Johnson along with a court order that he discontinue conduct alleged in the lawsuit.

Johnson did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

LEGAL ANALYSIS:

Former federal prosecutor and veteran criminal attorney Bill Portanova read the complaint and called the allegations, “very serious.”

“If these people had been hired to be nursemaids to him, that would be one thing. But when they’re young, professional students in law school, looking to be law clerks,and they’re hired to be law students but they’re forced to go through two weeks of naked, physical handling of the boss, I can honestly say I’ve never heard of that happening in any law office,” Portanova said.

As for never personally visiting many of the businesses he sued, Portanova said the legal action could shed new light on Johnson’s ADA lawsuits.

“(In) cases that are active right now, attorneys and purported defendants are probably going to take a much closer look at what they’ve been accused of before they give in and just pay the price to settle these lawsuits,” Portanova said.

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Los Angeles California City Council Reverses Recent Ban On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Instead Of Allowing Voters To Decide – Voters Who Are Also Selecting New Mayor, Controller, City Attorney, And 8 Council Members

October 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted 11-2 to repeal its recent ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, averting a March election on the explosive issue of storefront pot sales.

The action leaves Los Angeles, once again, without any law regulating the estimated 1,000 pot shops operating within its boundaries. But that does not necessarily mean dispensaries will be allowed to stay open.

Council members say they are hoping that a new federal crackdown on L.A. dispensaries may accomplish what they hoped to achieve with their ban. “That is our relief,” Councilman Jose Huizar said of the federal action, which began last week with raids on several dispensaries. Dozens of other pot shops were sent letters, ordering them to close.

The city may also seek to shut down dispensaries on its own by prosecuting operators for violating city land use laws.

After the City Council voted for the ban in July, activists collected tens of thousands of signatures to send a referendum repealing it to the ballot. Council members on Tuesday had to decide whether to rescind the ordinance or put the matter on the March ballot, when voters will be choosing a new mayor, city controller, city attorney and eight council members.

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9/11 Hysteria: San Mateo California Police Overreact And Call In Bomb Squad After Seeing Man’s Early Halloween Costume

October 1, 2012

SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA – A man who decided to try out his costume and dress up ahead of Halloween prompted an explosives scare in downtown San Mateo Monday that resulted in the dispatch of a police bomb squad, authorities said.

Police received several calls about a man standing in front of a market along 4th Street wearing what witnesses described as a full gas mask and army gear with several grenades hanging around his neck.

The bomb squad responded to the scene and police said the man was detained; he was found with an “inert grenade,” but police indicated there was “no current danger” to the public.

Police said the man’s “early Halloween costume provoked (their) reponse.”

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Landmark Sacramento California Ford’s Hamburgers Closing – Sued By Douchebag Local Lawyer Scott Johnson, Who Makes His Living By Filing ADA Cases, Often On His Own Behalf

September 30, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – So long sizzle; Ford’s Real Hamburgers is finished.

The recession has been hard on the Land Park landmark.

“We scrimped and saved and cut down the staff. I’m down to 6 employees. But…” said owner Hank Vereschzagin.

But then came the lawsuit. The allegation is that Ford’s is out of compliance with the ADA – the American’s with Disabilities Act.

And in truth, Ford’s is out of compliance. Go rolling up to the Ford’s bathroom in a wheelchair, and you won’t get in. There’s not enough room.

“I’ve been coming here 21 years,” said jerry Silvia. Silvia is paralyzed from the chest down, but that did stop him from making Ford’s a favorite.

1/3 pounder with fries is his regular order.

Ford’s owners say the lawsuit they are facing for their ADA problems was brought by Scott Johnson, a local attorney who makes a living by bringing these types of cases – often on his own behalf.

He didn’t respond by news time to our request to talk with him about this story, but he did speak to FOX40 in February when he was suing a diner in Pollock Pines.

“Being a quadriplegic,” Johnson said of himself during that interview, “there’s nothing I can do about that. But these businesses that have structural barriers to access, that’s frustrating.”

Jerry Silvia said he doesn’t feel like Johnson is working on his behalf.

“No. He’s strictly crusading on his own behalf,” Silvia said.

Still, today, on this battle ground of burgers, it seems good eats and the greater good can’t coexist on the same plate. Ford’s owners say there just isn’t enough money to fix the building that was built more than 60 years ago.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do next,” said Vereschzagin. “I just know I can’t keep this open.”

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Stockton California Man Fined $1,050 For $1.50 Fare – Had Bus Pass That Expired 10 Or 20 Minutes Earlier – Bought New Pass, But Accidently Tossed It And Kept Old One

September 30, 2012

STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA — A Stockton man was fined 700-times the amount of his bus fare for not having a valid ticket.

Aug. 6, Delta College student Richard Sentz says he bought a new bus pass, but accidentally threw it away when cleaning out his pockets and kept an expired one.

“The police department hopped on the bus and asked for tickets,” Sentz told FOX40. “My ticket was expired by 10, 20 minutes or so. It was not valid.”

Two weeks later, Sentz got a letter from the San Joaquin County Court. He was fined $1,050 for not having a $1.50 bus ticket. That’s a 700 percent markup.

“It’s a very, very high fine and the irony is (the San Joaquin Regional Transit District) receives none of that back,” said Paul Rapp, with the transit district.

The base fine for fare evasion is $250; double that for the state penalty. Tack on another $175 in county penalties and so on and so forth until it hits $1,050.

“This is ridiculous,” said Sentz. “I just couldn’t believe there was a $1,050 ticket for that. I mean, a speeding ticket doesn’t even cost that much.”

The way fees are handled is about to change, though. Assembly Member Cathleen Galgiani has pushed through AB 492, which hands over control of fare evasion fees and the money that comes from them back to the San Joaquin Regional Transit District and not the state.

AB 492 will take effect in January.

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Sacramento Calfirnia School Guard Returning To Work 2 Weeks After Beating 13 Year Old Disabled Girl – School District Acts Like Nothing Happened – His Victim Doesn’t Want To Go To School And Worries About Other Student’s Safety

September 30, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – The Twin Rivers Unified School District is putting a security Guard back at school on Monday — two weeks after he allegedly assaulted a 13-year-old girl in the classroom.

“Makes me not wanna go to school knowing that he’s gonna be there,” the alleged victim, Alexus Harris said. “It was shocking that they would let him back onto the school campus with other students.”

Alexus said the school district didn’t protect her from the guard, who allegedly pushed her against a desk and slammed her against the wall after she threatened to go to the principal when the guard took away her cell phone.

Cell phones aren’t allowed in the classroom.

It’s unclear what disciplinary action, if any, the school district took against the guard. The assistant superintendent didn’t return phone calls.

Principal Danny Williams said his students are priority.

“Our students will be safe and I’ll be vigilant, making sure that everyone treats our students with respect and care,” Williams said.

Alexus’ mother, Colleen Lee, said the district’s decision is unacceptable, especially because they know her daughter suffers from Cerebal Palsy. Alexus has suffered seizures and has had a stroke.

“They’re allowing him to go back and possibly do this to another child,” she said with tears. “They’re acting as though nothing has happened.”

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US Border Patrol Agent Shoots And Kills Innocent Mother Of 5 In Chula Vista California, Claiming He Was On Hood Of Her Moving Car, While At Least 2 Witnesses Say He Wasn’t

September 30, 2012

CHULA VISTA, CALIFORNIA — A plainclothes Border Patrol agent clinging to the hood of a moving car shot and killed the woman behind the wheel in Chula Vista Friday afternoon, authorities said.

There were several witnesses to the 1 p.m. shooting, which occurred on Moss Street near Oaklawn Avenue in a residential area lined by stucco apartment complexes and small homes.

Border Patrol agents were in the neighborhood to serve a felony warrant when the agent was struck by the woman’s car, said Border Patrol Deputy Chief Rodney Scott.

The agent was lodged in the windshield and carried several hundred yards on the hood of the Honda, he said.

“Fearing for his life, he discharged his weapon to get the vehicle to stop,” Scott said. He was the only agent who fired.

The agent was taken to a hospital with unknown injuries, although witnesses said he appeared to be OK.

Family members identified the woman as Valeria “Monique” Alvarado, a 32-year-old housewife who grew up in Chula Vista and lived in Southcrest. She died at the scene.

She had five children, ranging in ages 3 to 17.

“I love her to the fullest. That’s my heart,” said her husband, Gilbert Alvarado, before choking up.

“She has a huge heart,” said cousin Bernice Ratcliffe.

Several family members sobbed and hugged each other after speaking with investigators, and they demanded answers.

“Where’s the evidence my wife threatened a trained officer?” her husband asked. “I want justice.”

They said they didn’t know what had brought her to that neighborhood.

Authorities did not release further information, including how the agent was struck.

Chula Vista police said the crash occurred on Moss closer to Broadway, and the car drove west, coming to rest near Oaklawn. A large dent was left in the windshield where the officer had impacted, police said.

Witnesses gave differing versions of how the shooting unfolded, including whether they saw the agent on the car.

Hector Salazar, who lives in the area, said he was standing at his mailbox looking through letters when he heard a man yell, “Stop!”

He looked up and saw a man in civilian clothing on the hood of a two-door car, aiming a gun at the windshield.

The man then started pulling the trigger, shooting about five rounds.

Salazar hit the ground, and moments later saw other plainclothes agents approach the car.

Eduardo Comacho, 22, was walking on Woodlawn Avenue with his friend when they heard about seven shots.

He saw a man in a red shirt, without a badge, holding his gun. He appeared shaken. Other undercover officers joined him, pulling out their badges as they walked.

“The lady was hanging out the door, barely moving,” Comacho said. The agents checked her pulse, and medics who arrived shortly after began CPR on her on the ground. Comacho could see what appeared to be bullet wounds in her chest, shoulder, arm and leg.

“He did not miss,” Comacho said.

Ayanna Evans, 19, who lives in a neighboring apartment complex, said she never saw the agent on the car.

She said she happened to look out the window to see the Honda backing up slowly, and a man in a red shirt walking toward the car.

“Then I heard, ‘Pop, pop, pop,’” she said. She yelled at her children and aunt with her in the apartment to get down.

Apartment resident Prince Watson said he also saw the driver going in reverse, with no one on the car.

“She wasn’t speeding or driving erratic at all. I heard the agent say, ‘Stop.’ He was in the street and started shooting and walking toward the car,” Watson recalled.

Authorities did not name who they were going to arrest, but said it was not the woman.

Christian Ramirez, an immigrant rights activist with Southern Border Community Coalition, said the shooting was “troubling.”

“The victim was not wanted by authorities and she was a U.S. citizen,” Ramirez said.

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Savage Brown And Black Beasts Fight For 2 Days At Victorville California School

September 28, 2012

VICTORVILLE, CALIFORNIA — Students at a high school in Victorville said violent fights have been breaking out between African-Americans and Latinos for the past two days.

Rafael Muñoz said a group of people started the fights at Silverado High on Wednesday, which have poured out into the streets.

“One person started fighting, then the other would jump in. And continuously jump in and (it) ended up to be mob fighting. (I) got pepper sprayed by the security,” he said.

Cellphone video caught one brawl, which spilled into 14-year-old Jeremy Buenrostro’s lawn.

“They busted my lip. Well, they broke my tooth. And then I have some knots on the back of my head,” he said.

Monica Rodriguez, who asked the school for extra security and complained to police, said the riots are a recurring problem.

“The cops are nowhere to be seen. We’ve been calling them. They took forever. 911 placed people on hold. It was ridiculous,” said Rodriguez.

Linda Rodriguez, 60, said she was punched in the face when she tried to break up a fight.

“I come out and my grandson, his mouth is bleeding. My granddaughter… she wears glasses and she has a cut right here and a bump where they hit her,” she said.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department deployed cruisers and a helicopter on Thursday to assist with the disturbance on campus.

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Apply Apologizes For Their Near-Worthless Map Application That Replaced Ditched Google Maps – Tells Purchasers Of New iPhone 5 To Use Competing Map Applications

September 28, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized Friday for the company’s error-ridden new mobile mapping service, pledging to improve the application installed on tens of millions of smartphones and, in an unusual mea culpa, inviting frustrated consumers to turn to the competition.

In a letter posted online Friday, Cook said Apple “fell short” of its own expectations.

“Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working nonstop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard,” Cook said.

Apple released an update to its iPhone and iPad operating system last week that replaced Google Maps with Apple’s own map application. But users quickly complained that the new software offered fewer details, lacked public transit directions and misplaced landmarks, among other problems.

People have been flocking to social media to complain and make fun of the app’s glitches, which include judging landscape features by their names. The hulking Madison Square Garden arena in New York, for instance, shows up as green park space because of the word “garden.”

Until the software is improved, Cook recommended that people use competing map applications to get around – a rare move for the world’s most valuable company, which prides itself on producing industry-leading gadgets that easily surpass rivals.

Apple has made missteps in the past – even under founder and CEO Steve Jobs, whose dogged perfectionism was legendary.

“I think they are clearing the air and, more importantly, clarifying why they had to do their own maps,” said Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who’s followed Apple for more than three decades.

He recalled an infamous problem with the iPhone 4’s antenna that caused reception issues when people covered a certain spot with a bare hand. Jobs apologized, though he denied there was an antenna problem that needed fixing. Apple quickly recovered.

But Cook’s remarks went further, saying the company was “extremely sorry” and pledging to make swift improvements.

Contrast that with Jobs’ statement from 2010, when he said the antenna issue had been “blown so out of proportion that it’s incredible.”

Still, Jobs also acknowledged that Apple was “stunned and upset and embarrassed.” But he insisted the antenna issue was not widespread and only a small number of users complained to Apple’s warranty service.

On Friday, Cook said the new version of the mapping app was designed to give users the features they’ve been asking for. It includes turn-by-turn directions, voice integration and a 3-D flyover feature.

Google’s map application for the iPhone did not give turn-by-turn directions or voice-guided navigation, although its version for Android devices does.

Google, Bajarin said, wouldn’t license the turn-by-turn feature to Apple because Google prefers to give devices running its own Android software an advantage over the iPhone and iPad. Maps and navigation are among the most-used features of smartphones.

Cook said Apple’s maps will get better as more people use the app and provide feedback.

That’s true for all digital maps. Google’s system wasn’t perfect when it launched, but it got better over the years as users pointed out mistakes and helped the company collect its vast trove of data.

“Ultimately, what (Apple) discovered early on is that Google had access to 100 million iOS users who helped them build the Google Maps database, Bajarin said. “At some point Apple had to put its foot down.”

It came time, he explained, for Apple to own the users of its mapping service, not Google.

But for now, Cook actually recommends that users look at other options – including Google maps.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app,” Cook wrote.

Could Apple have avoided the debacle? Bajarin thinks so, maybe by acknowledging that the map app was a work in progress. That’s what the company did when it released Siri, its virtual assistant. Customers understood.

Apple released the iPhone 5 last week and on Monday said it sold more than 5 million of them in three days. Although the number is a record for any phone, it was fewer than analysts expected.

Shares of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. slid $8.12 to $673.20 late Friday morning, amid a broader market decline.

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US Government Cooks Up “Probation Violation” Charges Against Anti-Islam Filmmaker – Apparent Attempt By Federal Government To Appease Filthy Muslims Around The World – Free Speech? Not When Roundabout Punishments Are Available.

September 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne Segal has ruled that the anti-Islam Innocence Of Muslims film producer known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula will be held in the Metropolitan Detention Center after his arrest earlier today on probation violations. He will remain in the jail until a revocation hearing is scheduled. The judge said she was detaining him because ”the court has a lack of trust in the defendant”. She explained that he has engaged in a lengthy pattern of deception in a variety of situations, and that he poses “a danger to the community”. Nakoula today told the court that his real name is Mark Bacile Yousef. He is being cited on 8 probation violations for which the probation office is recommending 24 months in custody.

His lawyer Steven Seiden argued it would be a danger for Nakoula to be in custody in the Los Angeles County jail because of the large Muslim population there. U.S. Attorney Robert Dougdale said: “I’ve been assured that he’d be protected in custody. It’s likely he’d be safer in custody than out of custody.”

There was little mention of Nakoula’s crude film trailer whose posting on YouTube has sparked rioting, violence, and deaths in 30 countries in the Mideast, Europe, and Asia since 9/11. The prosecutor remarked that Nakoula’s pattern of deception extended to the hiring of the film’s actors. “They had no idea who he really was and no idea that he was a felon, and he parlayed that into the making of the film.” The prosecutor also indicated that Nakoula may have financed the film under deceptive circumstances. “Granted, if you look at the film, it doesn’t look like it cost much money.”

PREVIOUS 3:15 PM, BREAKING… There is a courtroom proceeding this afternoon in the Roybal Federal Building in Downtown LA regarding what the feds are saying is the arrest of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, reputed filmmaker of the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims which has sparked rioting, violence, and deaths in 30 countries in the Mideast, Europe, and Asia since 9/11. An initial appearance in USA v. Nakoula, 09-cr-00617-CAS, has been scheduled on or after 3 PM today. Nakoula was arrested for violating terms of his probation and is set for an initial appearance in U.S. District, which sentenced him in June 2009 following a bank fraud conviction. Federal officials were looking into whether Nakoula violated his probation in that case by uploading the crude film’s 14-minute trailer onto the Internet. He and his family have been in hiding since he was voluntarily interviewed by federal authorities and has since put up for sale his Cerritos home where some of the video was shot. Nakoula served 21 months in prison on 2009 federal bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges and a $795K fine. He now could face more prison time if it is determined his involvement in the film was a violation of his probation, which barred him from either owning or using devices with access to the Web for five years without prior approval from his probation officer. Earlier, when LA County sheriffs escorted him to a police station for FBI questioning, Nakoula left his family’s Cerritos home with his head wrapped in a towel to hide his identity.

His arrest today is an apparent U.S. attempt to appease worldwide Muslims and their clerics and governments demanding for the YouTube video to be removed and its filmmaker punished. In an address on Tuesday condemning the content of the video, President Obama explained, “The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.” This legal action is a way to preserve America’s First Amendment principles but at the same time find a roundabout but legitimate way to punish Bakoula for the crudely made film that portrays the Muhammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile.

In most federal cases alleging probation violations, the probation officer submits a confidential report to the sentencing judge who has the option of holding a probation revocation hearing. Then the judge can send the defendant to prison or impose additional terms of probation without jail time. But first the probation violation has to be proven, and Steven Seiden is Nakoula’s defense attorney in this matter. Nakoula may argue that he’s being singled out on a probation technicality for exercising his right to free speech.

At first, Innocence Of Muslims was ignored even when trailers were posted on YouTube in July. But then Egyptian television aired certain segments, which sparked protests which intensified with the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and other U.S. personnel. When news of his movie first broke, the filmmaker identified himself to media as Sam Bacile and made up lies about his identity. But the paperwork filed for the Screen Actors Guild was that of Abenob Nakoula Bassely. A public records search showed an Abanob B. Nakoula residing at the same address as Nakoula. Now the filmmaker is believed to be a Coptic Christian with many aliases. Details about the purported filmmaker have emerged over recent weeks:

– Court records show that Nakoula was once a federal informant. The Smoking Gun obtained a transcript showing attorneys for Nakoula pleaded for “cooperation points” when their client was sentenced in 2010. Lawyers argued cooperation with prosecutors in a separate case should be taken into consideration.

– Family members of Nakoula have left their Cerritos home to join him in hiding. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies escorted members of Nakoula’s family out of the house early Monday and into sheriff’s vehicles so they could rejoin Nakoula at an undisclosed location.

– News reports claim a second filmmaker, Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, president of Media for Christ, is an associate of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

– Film LA released the permit (read it here) for the film, which lists Media for Christ as the production company. Names and contact information for the producer, director and other crew members were redacted. The permit covers a one-day shoot at Blue Cloud Ranch in Santa Clarita for the film Desert Warriors, which has since become known as Innocence Of Muslims.

– Nakoula was connected to the persona of Sam Bacile, a federal law enforcement source told the AP. A man calling himself Sam Bacile initially claimed to be the writer and director of the film, but doubts surfaced regarding his identity. He has no credits on any movie industry database and SAG-AFTRA tells Deadline they have no information about the film; the DGA confirms they have no ‘Sam Bacile’ on record. It appears that Bacile is one of many aliases Nakoula used, the AP noted.

– The YouTube profile ‘Sam Bacile’ was used to post clips of the film on July 1 and comments as recently as Tuesday last week. It lists the age of the account holder at 74. Nakoula is believed to be 55.

– Another man, Steve Klein, told CNN he worked with Bacile on the movie vetting the script. Klein is an insurance agent and self-described militant Christian activist who resides in Hemet, CA.

– There are accounts of the film being screened in June under the name Innocence Of Bin Laden. According to Klein, Nakoula wanted to give it a title that would draw in and then trick “hardcore Muslims” into watching a movie that slammed Islam. But according to Klein, no tickets were sold and Nakoula was “crushed,” the AP said. Klein told The Times “felt great” about consulting on the film.

– CNN received a statement from the 80 or so people in front of and behind the cameras denouncing the film they say they worked on without knowing it was propaganda.

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Video Shows Nutcase TSA Agents Ordering Passengers In Secure Portion Of Air Terminal To “Freeze” On Command In Obedience Training Drill

September 27, 2012

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – The TSA’s bizarre new policy where it orders travelers who have already passed security to “freeze” on command has been caught on camera, with the clip illustrating once more how the federal agency has implemented a series of ludicrous policies that seemingly have no other purpose than to act as an obedience test for the traveling public.

The video shows the final 24 seconds of a 2 minute period during which travelers were ordered to “freeze” by TSA workers and were not allowed to move.

One TSA screener is heard to say, “stay right where you are,” at a man who is walking through the airport, as the other static travelers look on in bewilderment.

According to the You Tube user responsible for uploading the clip, “This video was shot within the “secure” area of the terminal, BEYOND the security gate.”

“Note that the TSA “guard” is offering no explanation, only giving harsh threats and orders to stay still. Note that there was NO event or threat taking place of any kind,” he adds.

As we have previously highlighted, the “freeze” policy, which has been experienced by numerous travelers across the country, is known as Code Bravo Sierra or simply Code Bravo by the TSA.

New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey described how he was caught up in the policy on two separate occasions last year while traveling through airports in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

When Sharkey failed to obey a TSA screener who shouted “freeze,” he was assailed by another traveler who “growled” at him, “You’re supposed to freeze!” as other passengers complied with the bizarre demand. Sharkey later discovered that the TSA had no power to force travelers to comply with the command.

“Passengers are not required to ‘freeze’ in place like statues,” TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee admitted.

“It was clear to me that travelers believed they were required to stop and stand motionless — even those who had cleared security and were merely within shouting distance of the checkpoint. Officers seemed to reinforce that impression, too,” writes Sharkey.

As WeWontFly.com’s James Babb describes, this is nothing more than “obedience training.” The American people and travelers in general are being ‘broken in’ to accept their subservience in what represents the human equivalent of horse training.

“There is literally no other purpose to this “drill” than to reinforce the notion in travelers’ heads that this is a “security state”, and that you may be told to stop dead in your tracks by a TSA “voice of authority” at any time. Legally, TSA has NO RIGHT TO STOP YOU… but it’s hard to imagine that defending your rights by walking away would end well in a (phony) tense situation if there happens to be an armed police officer nearby,” concludes the You Tube user who uploaded the video.

This absurd policy has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with security. Would a terrorist really be so dumb as to make himself stand out from the crowd by refusing to freeze and making himself look conspicuous?

It makes no sense whatsoever, until you realize that this is just another “layer” of pointless TSA security theater. It’s about reinforcing the notion that people are mandated to obey every order made by someone in uniform no matter how asinine.

The TSA has also provoked controversy by implementing other preposterous policies which have a tenuous security justification, most notably a new procedure where TSA agents test travelers’ drinks for explosives after they have already passed through security and purchased beverages inside the secure area of the airport.

Given that these bizarre policies are solely based around coercing obedience and have nothing to do with genuine security, we are encouraging Americans to show civil disobedience and reclaim their human dignity by opting out and filming TSA procedures during Thanksgiving week November 19-26. Click here for more details about the campaign or click here for the Facebook page.

Remember, it is your right to opt out of radiation firing naked body scanners and the TSA’s website also admits that it is perfectly legal to film TSA procedures, whether that’s inside an airport, in a subway, at a political event, a music concert or wherever else TSA screeners have infested. The TSA also admits it has no power to force you to “freeze” as is depicted in the video above.

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University Of California Pays About Nearly $1 Million To Settle Federal Lawsuit After Out Of Control UC-Davis Police Officers Attacked And/Or Arrested Peaceful Protesters

September 26, 2012

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA – The University of California has agreed to pay about $1 million to settle a lawsuit filed by UC-Davis students who were pepper-sprayed by campus police during an Occupy-style protest on campus last November, according to media reports.

The settlement also calls for a personal written apology from Chancellor Linda Katehi to each person hit with the spray, according to The Sacramento Bee.

UC and plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union filed the preliminary settlement in federal court in Sacramento on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

Police in riot gear pepper-sprayed University of California Davis students, as the young protesters sat arms linked, making no moves. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

Under the agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge, the university will pay $30,000 to each of 21 students and former students named in the complaint and an additional $250,000 for their attorneys to split.

The settlement also calls for the UC to set aside $100,000 to pay other individuals who can prove they were arrested or pepper-sprayed during the Nov. 18, 2011, incident.

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Feds Targeting California Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Set Sights On Los Angeles – Back Alley And Street Corner Deals To Replace Safe, Affordable, And Taxed Access For Medicinal Purposes

September 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — Federal prosecutors looking to take out California’s medical marijuana shops have now set their sights on Los Angeles, where city officials have struggled to stop a blooming of dispensaries.

The U.S. attorney’s office sued three property owners that house pot collectives and sent warning letters to 68 others as they enforce a federal law that doesn’t recognize a California initiative that legalized pot for medicinal use.

The move Tuesday came nearly a year after federal authorities began targeting the state’s pot shops. The city’s own ban on dispensaries also is being challenged and could be overturned by voters if a referendum is placed on an upcoming ballot.

“As today’s operations make clear, the sale and distribution of marijuana violates federal law, and we intend to enforce the law,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.
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9/11 Hysteria: Two Los Angeles California Radio Stations Evacuated “Due To A Bomb Threat” After Delivery Of Package Containing Harmless Promotional Materials

September 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Two Los Angeles news radio stations were evacuated for about two hours on Tuesday, along with a number of other offices in the 27-story building they share, after police were called to investigate a package that was making beeping noises.

A Los Angeles police bomb squad later determined that the parcel was harmless and contained only promotional materials.

The offices of KNX and KFWB, both CBS affiliates, were evacuated after calls to the police and fire departments at around 8:30 a.m., Los Angeles police spokesman Richard French said.

“We got a call … that a package had been delivered to the second floor lobby, and there appeared to be some kind of ticking or beeping coming from” it, he said.

An LAPD bomb squad responded to the building in the city’s mid-Wilshire district, which also houses law firms and other offices, to examine the parcel.

“The bomb squad examined it and discovered that it was promotional material,” LAPD Commander Andrew Smith said.

KNX said in a broadcast report that the package had been sent to a music radio station that shared the building and was considered suspicious because it was “oddly wrapped” and making beeping noises.

KFWB said in a statement posted on its website that the building had been evacuated by law enforcement officials “due to a bomb threat.”

Both radio stations broadcast content from other CBS affiliates during the evacuation.

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Los Angeles California Police Officers Pressured Witness Into Lying For Them, Resulting In Innocent Man Being Imprisoned For 19 Years For Murder He Didn’t Commit – Was At His Grandmother’s House When Shooting Took Place

September 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A Los Angeles man imprisoned for 19 years for a murder he didn’t commit was exonerated and set free from prison on Monday.

Cheers erupted in the courtroom as the judge exonerated John Edward Smith of a drive-by shooting in 1993, NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate NBC4 reported. Late Monday, Smith left Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail.

“I’m just thankful the same system that made the error was able to find the same avenue to get me out,” Smith said to a throng of reporters who met him outside the jail Monday night.

“I’m not bitter at all. That ain’t gonna get me nowhere, you know. I gotta move forward,” he said, according to NBC4.

When asked what he was going to do next, Smith replied: “I’m gonna go home and hug my grandmother.”

Smith, who The Associated Press described as a former gang member, was convicted of killing a man during a 1993 drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. Another man survived and was the single witness to the alleged crime. Two years ago, he recanted the testimony that led to Smith’s 1994 conviction for first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Smith was 18 when he went to prison. He told authorities he was at his grandmother’s house with family when the shooting took place in a gang-infested area.

He said he knew nothing about the crime until his mother called to tell him about it.

The 37-year-old was scheduled to be released on Friday, but the judge was out due to illness. But Smith was all smiles on Monday as Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg released him after nearly two decades behind bars: “Mr. Smith, you are now free.”

The ruling evoked mixed emotions from Smith’s family.

“I’m happy. I’m sad. But the part of me that was in there with him, I’m free now, too,” said Laura Neal, Smith’s grandmother and primary caretaker.

“I was hoping and praying that before I die he will be with me again,” she said.

Smith’s sister, Tiana Goodman, 25, said he would be meeting nieces and nephews who were born while he was in prison. “This is a big day for our family,” she said, tears running down her cheeks.

“I’m just so happy to have my brother back. My grandma’s been sick and she’s been holding on so she can see my brother, so this is a really big day for our family and we’re just so happy.”

‘Broken system’

Smith’s case spurred the creation of Innocence Matters, a non-profit organization whose pro-bono legal team has been at the helm of his exoneration for three years.

“We actually became a non-profit in a hurry so that we could have him be our first client,” founder and Smith’s lawyer Deirdre O’Connor told NBC4 on Friday.

The only eyewitness, Landu Mvuemba — a victim who was shot and survived — met with Innocence Matters representatives in 2010 and immediately blurted out that he had lied at the trial, O’Connor said.

Mvuemba said police pressured him to identify Smith as the shooter. Prosecutors told the judge they now believe he lied, and Schnegg found the conviction was based on perjured testimony.

“Within the first two minutes of the interview, Mvuemba recanted,” O’Connor said. Mvuemba was 16 at the time of the shooting.

He told representatives of Innocence Matters, “The police told me they knew who did it,” a defense motion stated.

O’Connor said Smith wept when she called him with the news about Mvuemba. “He said, ‘Why did he do it? Why did he lie?'” O’Connor recalled.

Mvuemba said police pointed to Smith, whom he had known in elementary school, and told him other witnesses had identified Smith as the shooter. Mvuemba said he also was shown a photo of his friend DeAnthony Williams, who died in the shooting.

“I felt a lot of pressure to go along with it,” Mvuemba said.

The two victims had been on the street examining the scene of another shooting the night before when a car pulled up and someone opened fire.

Mvuemba said he tried three times to tell authorities that he didn’t see enough to testify, but his pleas were ignored.

“Mvuemba knew it was wrong to identify Mr. Smith as the man who shot him,” according to the defense motion. “But when he saw his deceased friend’s crying mother in the courtroom, he felt as if he had no other choice.”

Mvuemba is currently imprisoned on a rape conviction.

Schnegg said she held many meetings with the defense and prosecution in the year since the recanting was disclosed. The judge said they lacked sufficient information to declare Smith factually innocent, but she vacated his convictions for murder and attempted murder, and ordered him released.

O’Connor said Smith’s trial was undermined by ineffective assistance of attorneys who failed to investigate the case properly at trial and on appeal.

“We have a bit of a broken system and the fact that we can come in and make some systemic changes like this and help prevent it from happening to somebody else, it means the world,” said Jessica Farris with Innocence Matters.

Smith, meanwhile, said the first items on his agenda now that he’s free is to get a license and find a job.

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5 Hour Roadblock By Red Bluff California Police Yields 1 Arrest: Man Riding Bicycle Without Headlight Had Been Drinking

September 23, 2012

RED BLUFF, CALIFORNIA – A man was arrested after he was found to be riding a bicycle while impaired, police said.

The arrest came during a sobriety checkpoint held Friday in Red Bluff, said officers with the Red Bluff Police Department. They said Christopher Pence, 30, of Paradise, rode his bike into the checkpoint area. Officers said they stopped him because he didn’t have a headlight on his bike, as required by law.

Police said Pence appeared intoxicated and was arrested on suspicion of riding a bicycle while under the influence.

About 240 drivers were also screened between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. One man was issued a citation for an outstanding warrant from Butte County. Two others were issued citations for driving with a suspended license, and two other drivers were driving with expired licenses.

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Botched Investigation By Redding California Police Resulted In Woman Being Arrested And Falsely Charged With $12,000 Embezzlement

September 22, 2012

READING, CALIFORNIA – A case against a Palo Cedro woman arrested late last year on suspicion of embezzling more than $12,000 from a Redding printing company, where she worked as a bookkeeper, was dismissed this week in Shasta County Superior Court.

Felony counts of embezzlement and grand theft that were filed in January against Lisa Gale Rayl, 59, were thrown out Monday by the district attorney’s office after additional financial documents were reviewed and further witnesses interviewed.

It was that extra information that convinced prosecutors they would be unable to obtain unanimous guilty verdicts against her, Chief Deputy District Attorney Josh Lowery said Thursday.

“It led us to believe the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

He also voiced strong doubt over whether the charges might be refiled in the future.

“I don’t see a scenario where the charges will be refiled,” he said.

Rayl’s Redding defense attorney, Joe Gazzigli, could not be reached Thursday or Friday to discuss the case.

But, she and her husband wrote in an email Friday, the case should never have been filed.

Rayl’s husband, Tim, said in his email that he and his wife, who also had her $10,000 bail bond exonerated, are relieved that the case is over and that “the truth prevailed.”

“Lisa did not embezzle anything,” her husband wrote. “The D.A. was misled by false and inaccurate information gathered by a substandard and incomplete police investigation. The police never talked to Lisa, they never interviewed her to get her side of the story.”

Instead, he said, she was handcuffed and arrested following a car stop and taken to RPD headquarters where she was interrogated.

“Lisa had no prior record of any kind, but was treated like America’s most wanted,” Tim Rayl said.

Lisa Rayl was arrested in December by Redding police after then Deputy District Attorney Erin Dervin, who now works for a Sacramento law firm, said a police investigation revealed she had improperly stopped deducting her share of health insurance premiums from her paychecks between 2008 to late 2010, thereby boosting her take home pay.

Rayl, who worked for the company for more than 12 years, was fired from her job after it discovered the alleged thefts and contacted Redding police.

But Tim Rayl said his wife had no signatory authority with the company. He said the business contacted police because it had filed an insurance claim for the money and were told they would need a police report to get paid.

According to a prior statement made by Dervin, Lisa Rayl denied any wrongdoing after being confronted by police, saying the “company let her do it.”

“Lisa did have permission,” her husband maintained in his email. “She had three conversations with Ken Peterson, the owner, and he gave permission.”

Peterson declined Friday to publicly discuss the case.

In his email, Rayl said he and his wife, who faced a maximum three-year jail sentence had she been tried and convicted, are grateful the ordeal is over.

“We are focusing on healing and resting,” he wrote.

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Mission Hills California Nursing Assistant Arrested For Assault – Savage Black Beast Molested Woman While She Slept, Another Attack A Week Earlier That Hospital Failed To Report Until Second Incident

September 21, 2012

MISSION HILLS, CALIFORNIA – A 44-year-old nursing assistant was arrested Wednesday in connection with an alleged sexual assault at a hospital in Mission Hills.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, a woman filed a report alleging she was the victim of a sexual assault after she was molested by the suspect at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.

Authorities say certified nursing assistant Jeremias Diego entered the 43-year-old victim’s room around 4 a.m. Monday, removed the woman’s garments and touched her inappropriately under the bed covers. The incident occurred when Diego was doing his regular round-the-clock rounds of checking patients’ vital signs.

The woman awoke her sister who was visiting her in the hospital and lay asleep nearby in the darkened room. The two of them reported the behavior to nurses, who then called police.

During the subsequent investigation, detectives learned another complaint against Diego was made by a female patient a week prior from the incident.

“After conducting several interviews, we now believe Diego may have done this to other patients as well,” said LAPD Detective Michael Brox.

According to Brox, the hospital is cooperating with authorities.

“I believe that they did what they had to do as Holy Cross Hospital,” said Brox. “Perhaps it could have been reported to us earlier, but sometimes things are lost in translation between staff and patients.”

“All of our staff members are trained to report any serious complaints to their supervisors,” Providence Holy Cross Medical Center said in a statement. “We take this very seriously and are conducting a thorough internal investigation.”

Diego, a Thousand Oaks resident, had worked as a floating nursing assistant at Holy Cross since April, and had previously worked at the Los Robles Care Center in Ojai, Calif.

The suspect has been charged with two counts of sexual battery, and his bail was set at $40,000. He is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

“We’re almost all like children when we’re in the hospital, because you’re there trusting as a child, and you’re hoping that the medical treatment that you get, or the people who are giving the medical treatment treat you with the utmost respect and dignity, and in this case, not only was this disrespect, this was criminal in nature,” said LAPD Detective Michael Brox. “There are certain things that make people uncomfortable and if someone out there was uncomfortable, if things simply were not done properly, let us know.”

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California Bill Will Have Law Enforcement Officers Ignore Federal Requests To Hold Illegal Immigrants And Illegally Release Them Back Into The Streets

September 20, 2012

CALIFORNIA – A California father whose son was murdered execution-style in 2008 by an illegal immigrant gangster has launched a campaign to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown to veto a bill that would have police release illegal immigrants into the streets even when the feds want them detained.

The controversial bill, which passed the legislature in August, would compel local law enforcement in most cases to ignore requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold illegal immigrants if they could otherwise be released.

Advocates say it’s a way for police to build “trust” with local communities — the name of the bill is the TRUST Act. But opponents warn the policy could have dangerous consequences.

The bill “will have real and potentially devastating consequences for people across our state,” Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose 17-year-old son was killed, said in a statement.
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Homeless Men Save 15 Year Old Girl Under Attack On Public Bus By Repeat Sex Offender Released From California Prison Just Hours Earlier

September 20, 2012

MODESTO, CALIFORNIA – Police say Kevin Long, sex offender, attacked a 15-year-old girl on a bus just hours after his release.

“I just wanted to get him away from the children,” said Curtis Mitchell.

Mitchell was one of the Good Samaritans aboard the Modesto bus when Long allegedly started making inappropriate comments to a 15-year-old girl on her way to school.

“He had made a verbal gesture to the young lady about ‘have you had sex yet’ and the girl was freaked out,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell kept an eye on Long during the interaction.

“All of the sudden, he just lunged out of his seat and grabbed her crotch area,” said Mitchell.

That’s when Mitchell and his four friends, who are disabled and homeless, jumped into action.

“One of the gentlemen had his neck. Joe had the body. He got there first, and I got the legs, twisted the legs and sat on his legs,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell and the others held him down for three blocks, until the bus driver pulled into the transit center, where police officers were waiting.

Turns out, Long was staying at the same shelter as the men who took him down.

“He thought nobody was going to do anything. Well, he was wrong and we got him,” said Mitchell.

Long was released from prison one day before the bus attack.

The 37-year-old has been in and out of prison since 1995, when he served time for trying to rape someone.

Not long after, he was locked up on drug charges; and most recently, Long served an eight-year sentence for burglary and making terrorist threats.

Mitchell’s back is a little sore, but says it’s worth helping a defenseless child.

“I’m not no hero (sic). I’m a regular person. I have kids, grown up now, but I would hope someone would help my kids if they needed it,” said Mitchell.

Long denied a CBS13 request for an interview. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

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Pedophile Released From California State Prison Attacked 15 Year Old Girl At 7:30 AM The Next Day – Sex Offender Charged With Sexual Battery, Lewd Acts With A Minor, And Parole Violation

September 18, 2012

MODESTO, CALIFORNIA – A registered sex offender was arrested Tuesday for sexually assaulting a teen on a public bus in Modesto, only one day after he was released from state prison.

Police say Kevin Michael Long, 37, got on the bus at around 7:30 a.m. on Yosemite Boulevard and attempted to talk with a 15-year-old girl who was on her way to school. He then made sexual comments to the girl and allegedly lunged at her and sexually assaulted her.

Other passengers on the bus pulled Long away from the girl and held him on the ground. A rider got off the bus in front of the police station at 10th and G Streets and notified police.

Officers arrested Long at the Downtown Transit Center on 9th Street.

He was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail for lewd acts with a minor, sexual battery and violating parole.

“We were very fortunate in this case that several concerned citizens immediately took action and stopped the ongoing assault,” said Modesto Police Department Acting Captain Scott Heller.

Long is a registered sex offender and was released from Corcoran State Prison on Monday. He was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy or oral copulation and indecent exposure.

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Womans Body Found Burning In The Street In Los Angeles California

September 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A body was found burning in a South Los Angeles street Monday night, according to fire officials.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene in the 300 block of West 94th Street between Broadway and Grand Avenue (map), said Brian Humphrey with LAFD. The initial report from a passer-by was received at about 10 a.m., said LAPD Lt. Gerald Woodyard.

Aerial video showed a charred body in the road not far from the sidewalk.

Investigators were attempting to determine whether somone lit the individual n

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Crazed Hollywood Florida Police Officer Luisito Calaguing Writes Parking Ticket With 6 Minutes Left On Meter – Caught On Video

September 17, 2012

It can be exasperating to be running just a few minutes late and receiving a parking ticket for an expired meter. A Los Angeles man says he knows a more sickening feeling – he was running a few minutes early, and got a ticket anyway.

On Sunday, he filmed his unlikely encounter with a parking officer and later posted the video on YouTube.

After initially protesting, the man said he filmed the incident because he had no other recourse. His video shows an officer, Luisito Calaguing, placing a ticket under the right windshield wiper of his car, which is parked on Argyle Street just north of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. In the video, the meter at which they are parked shows six minutes remaining.

In a recount of the incident on YouTube, he said he did not put more money in an attempt to alter the appearance before filming. He said his girlfriend paid the $1 fee on her credit card. “I’m not trying to fool anybody or get out of paying a parking ticket,” he wrote. “I’m exposing a corrupt system for what it is. I didn’t break any laws, and I find the officer’s act ridiculous.”

The fine for the parking ticket is $63.

***

Not that it would have helped this guy, but for the rest of us, our cell phones may soon help motorists avoid those pesky parking tickets. You’ll be able to feed the parking meter with your phone.

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Los Angeles California Residents Block City Council’s Ban On Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

September 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – “We’re letting the city council know that they can’t just come in and trump the will of the people, and that when they do things that are very unpopular, the people can stand up and say stop,” says Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access.

The people did say stop this September in response to Los Angeles City Council’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Fifty thousand Angelenos signed a petition, successfully blocking the ban that was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 6, 2012.

“After the city council adopted the ban, patients, collective operators and organized labor all got together and organized a referendum campaign,” says Duncan, “we were able to actually block the implementation of the ban before it even took effect and so that’s a tremendous victory for patients.”

Duncan sat down with ReasonTV’s Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss the battle for medical marijuana, which he says isn’t over yet. Voters have to either overturn the ban via the ballot box this spring, or come up with their own ordinance through the voter initiative process.

Duncan notes that there is massive support for medical marijuana with 77 percent of Californians supporting the regulation and control of medical cannabis. Unfortunately this support may not be enough.

“The city attorney is committed to the fact that medical cannabis is illegal, and so we expect some sort of enforcement action from the city attorney that will probably involve civil measures, but that’s almost certainly going to be coupled with some law enforcement activity,” says Duncan, “unfortunately that means some people who are trying to do right, and are trying to take care of sick people and obey the law are going to get caught up in that dragnet.

About 7:40 minutes.

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Savage Black Beast Charged After Driving His BMW SUV Into Apple Store – Left With Many Devices, But Left License Plate From His Car – Caught On Video

September 15, 2012

CALIFORNIA – Perhaps he thought the iPhone 5 would already be there.

Who can imagine why someone would risk the sensitive fenders of his BMW to drive straight through the front window of the Apple Store in Temecula, Calif.?

And yet here is footage of a smash, a grab, and a slight thoughtlessness, given that the robbers seemed not to have factored in the security cameras.

Footage that was release to YouTube shows action that seems as incontrovertible as it is rather tragic.

I am grateful to the BBC for grabbing this footage and smashing it into my eyes.

Some will be impressed that the thieves appeared to have chosen the smaller items, rather than the MacBooks.

However, I am sure many of the Apple faithful will be depressed at the sheer mess that these people made. Didn’t they understand that you can steal from an Apple Store without having to ram your car backward and forward into the pristine tables? Isn’t that what Samsung was accused of?

Look at that poor severed table leg. It’s not as if it could have moved out of the way. Didn’t they know how many design hours went into creating that beautiful thing?

Still, this story has a peculiar ending.

The security gates behind the car appear to have come down and hampered the thieves’ exit. The car’s tires allegedly suffered, as did the license plate.

Police now accuse 22-year-old Equonne Howard, after he had allegedly abandoned the car and then returned either to fix the flats or to retrieve a license plate he allegedly left behind.

He pleaded not guilty last Wednesday, the very same day the iPhone 5 was revealed.

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Thank Darwin: Drunk Rapper Tweets “YOLO” You Only Live Once, Boasts About Speeding, Drifting And Drunk Driving – Seconds Before Crash That Killed All 5 Savage Black Beasts In The Car

September 13, 2012

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA – A promising young rapper used his Twitter account to boast about speeding and drink driving – even tweeting ‘YOLO’ (the acronym for You Only Live Once) – moments before the car hit a wall in Ontario, Canada, killing everyone inside.

Ervin McKinness, 21, was one of five men all in their early twenties killed in the suburban crash just after 1am over Labor Day weekend.

A Twitter account linked to the Southern California rapper, known as ‘Inkyy’ and ‘Jew’elz’, contained a tweet at 1.19am on September 2 that read: ‘Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #F***It. YOLO.’

The final tweet was one minute later, reading: ‘Driving tweeting sipping the cup f*** yolo I’m turning it up.’

Police told the San Bernardino Sun that it might have been another rapper, 21-year-old Jonathan Watson, who was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The 2005 Nissan Sentra allegedly ran a red light, lost control and slammed into a wall before coming to rest in the backyard of a home.

Four of the five passengers died at the scene with the fifth pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The four other passengers have been identified as Marquell Bogan, 23, Dylan George, 20, Jonathan Watson, 21, and JaJuan Bennett, 23.

‘They’re certainly looking at that because it will be a vital part of the investigation, but it’s too early to give an opinion as to whether [drunken driving] was a cause or contributed to the crash,’ Ontario police Sgt. David McBride told the SBSun.

Since the crash his sister has taken over his Twitter page, according to Twitter user CENNAZAVEH3AVY, defending her brother as having been a passenger and not the driver that night.

That resulting activity by his Twitter account, ink2flashyy, originally sparked debate on whether police and local news reports had named the wrong Twitter user.

According to McKinness’ friends he was an up and coming rapper having been either recently signed or in the process by a major label.

A YouTube music video for his single titled Dreams has racked up more than 23,000 views since its upload on April of this year.

YOLO was made popular by the Canadian rapper Drake in his hit The Motto.

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Filthy Muslim Protesters Attack American Embassy In Libya, Kill US Envoy, Three Others, And Burn Down Embassy

September 12, 2012

LIBYA – A Untied States envoy and three others were reportedly killed in an attack on the American embassy in Libya, unconfirmed reports say.

Protesters angered over a film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad fired gunshots and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing one American diplomat, witnesses and the State Department said. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

It was the first such assaults on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders, Muammar Qaddafi and Hosni Mubarak in uprisings last year.

The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an American in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that one State Department officer had been killed in the protest at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. She strongly condemned the attack and said she had called Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif “to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.”

Clinton expressed concern that the protests might spread to other countries. She said the U.S. is working with “partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.”

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said in a statement released by the State Department. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind. “

In Benghazi, a large mob stormed the U.S. consulate, with gunmen firing their weapons, said Wanis al-Sharef, an Interior Ministry official in Benghazi. A witness said attackers fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the consulate as they clashed with Libyans hired to guard the facility.

Outnumbered by the crowd, Libyan security forces did little to stop them, al-Sharef said.

The crowd overwhelmed the facility and set fire to it, burning most of it and looting the contents, witnesses said.

One American was shot to death and a second was wounded in the hand, al-Sharef said. He did not give further details.

The violence at the consulate lasted for about three hours, but the situation has now quieted down, said another witness.

“I heard nearly 10 explosions and all kinds of weapons. It was a terrifying day,” said the witness who refused to give his name because he feared retribution.

Hours before the Benghazi attack, hundreds of mainly ultraconservative Islamist protesters in Egypt marched to the U.S. Embassy in downtown Cairo, gathering outside its walls and chanting against the movie and the U.S. Most of the embassy staff had left the compound earlier because of warnings of the upcoming demonstration.

“Say it, don’t fear: Their ambassador must leave,” the crowd chanted.

Dozens of protesters then scaled the embassy walls, and several went into the courtyard and took down the American flag from a pole. They brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that tore it apart.

The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with a Muslim declaration of faith, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” The flag, similar to the banner used by al-Qaida, is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region.

The crowd grew throughout the evening with thousands standing outside the embassy. Dozens of riot police lined up along the embassy walls but did not stop protesters as they continued to climb and stand on the wall – though it appeared no more went into the compound.

The crowd chanted, “Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.” Some shouted, “We are all Usama,” referring to Al Qaeda leader bin Laden. Young men, some in masks, sprayed graffiti on the walls. Some grumbled that Islamist President Mohammed Morsi had not spoken out about the movie.

A group of women in black veils and robes that left only their eyes exposed chanted, “Worshippers of the Cross, leave the Prophet Muhammad alone.”

By midnight, the crowd had dwindled. The U.S. Embassy said on its Twitter account that there will be no visa services on Wednesday because of the protests.

A senior Egyptian security official at the embassy area said authorities allowed the protest because it was “peaceful.” When they started climbing the walls, he said he called for more troops, denying that the protesters stormed the embassy. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The Cairo embassy is in a diplomatic area in Garden City, where the British and Italian embassies are located, only a few blocks away from Tahrir Square, the center of last year’s uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The U.S. Embassy is built like a fortress, with a wall several meters (yards) high. But security has been scaled back in recent months, with several roadblocks leading to the facility removed after legal court cases by residents.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry promised in a statement to provide the necessary security for diplomatic missions and embassies and warned that “such incidents will negatively impact the image of stability in Egypt, which will have consequences on the life of its citizens.”

One protester, Hossam Ahmed, said he was among those who entered the embassy compound and replaced the American flag with the black one. He said the group has now removed the black flag from the pole and laid it instead on a ladder on top of the wall.

“This is a very simple reaction to harming our prophet,” said another, bearded young protester, Abdel-Hamid Ibrahim.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Egyptian police had removed the demonstrators who entered the embassy grounds.

Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way. The 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper triggered riots in many Muslim countries.

A 14-minute trailer of the movie that sparked the protests, posted on the website YouTube in an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in an overtly ridiculing way, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.

A YouTube spokesperson said the website would not take down the video at this point. The website’s guidelines call for removing videos that include a threat of violence, but not those only expressing opinions. YouTube’s practice is not to comment on a specific videos.

“We take great care when we enforce our policies and try to allow as much content as possible while ensuring that our Community Guidelines are followed,” the YouTube spokesperson said. “Flagged content that does not violate our Guidelines will remain on the site.”

Sam Bacile, an American citizen who said he produced, directed and wrote the two-hour film, said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction.

“I feel sorry for the embassy. I am mad,” Bacile said.

Speaking from a telephone with a California number, Bacile said he is Jewish and familiar with the region. Bacile said the film was produced in English and he doesn’t know who dubbed it in Arabic. The full film has not been shown yet, he said, and he said he has declined distribution offers for now.

“My plan is to make a series of 200 hours” about the same subject, he said.

Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Christian in the U.S. known for his anti-Islam views, told The Associated Press from Washington that he was promoting the video on his website and on certain TV stations, which he did not identify.

Both depicted the film as showing how Coptic Christians are oppressed in Egypt, though it goes well beyond that to ridicule Muhammad – a reflection of their contention that Islam as a religion is inherently oppressive.

“The main problem is I am the first one to put on the screen someone who is (portraying) Muhammad. It makes them mad,” Bacile said. “But we have to open the door. After 9/11 everybody should be in front of the judge, even Jesus, even Muhammad.”

For several days, Egyptian media have been reporting on the video, playing some excerpts from it and blaming Sadek for it, with ultraconservative clerics going on air to denounce it.

Medhat Klada, a representative of Coptic Christian organizations in Europe, said Sadek’s views are not representative of expatriate Copts.

“He is an extremist … We don’t go down this road. He has incited the people (in Egypt) against Copts,” he said, speaking from Switzerland. “We refuse any attacks on religions because of a moral position.”

But he said he was concerned about the backlash from angry Islamists, saying their protest only promotes the movie. “They don’t know dialogue and they think that Islam will be offended from a movie.”

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Los Angeles California Considers Dual-Use ID Card For Illegal Immigrants – Wetbacks WIll Be Able To Use It To Open Bank Accounts And Access City Services

September 11, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles officials are considering a plan to turn the library card into a form of identification that the city’s large illegal immigrant population could use to open bank accounts and access an array of city services.

The City Council unanimously voted recently to consider the proposal, which would have Los Angeles join the growing number of cities across the nation that offer various forms of identification to undocumented workers and others who cannot get driver’s licenses because of their immigration status.

Though L.A.’s plan would not be as sweeping as those adopted by cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond, it would be a major step in serving the estimated 300,000 residents who don’t have bank accounts or debit cards.

The ID card would include a user’s name, address and a photograph, and would be issued through the city’s libraries. The city would partner with a private vendor to set up bank accounts for those who want to use the library ID as a debit card. Banks generally require official identification to open an account.

But anyone able to provide proof of L.A. residency would be eligible for the library card, said Councilman Richard Alarcon, who proposed the concept. Banking services would include direct deposit, international and domestic money transfers and the debiting.

Alarcon said that in his Northeast Valley district, some immigrants who don’t use banks end up being gouged by payday lenders or robbed if they keep large sums of cash on hand.

“They can be scammed and taken advantage of,” Alarcon said. “This will help end that.”

The cards would not be a substitute for driver’s licenses and would not provide any protection from deportation by federal immigration authorities. And they would come with a cost. Applicants would pay a fee, around $15 to $20, for the card, and then would be able to deposit and withdraw money through a network of ATMs at local grocery stores and shopping malls. There could also be a monthly fee of up to $2.99.

The plan is likely to face opposition, as it has in other cities. Ira Mehlman, communications director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said ID cards can easily be exploited by terrorists and criminals and encourage illegal immigration.

“Cities should not be in the business of making it easier for people to violate federal law even if they don’t pose a security risk,” he said.

L.A.’s proposed card would not go as far as programs in other cities.

San Francisco’s City ID card, for example, is accepted as a form of identification by most city banks, airlines and local businesses. The San Francisco card also lists a user’s medical conditions and an emergency contact, said Karen Hong Yee, director of the San Francisco County clerk’s office.

Oakland is contracting with SF Global, an L.A.-based company that operates prepaid banking systems.

The cards will cost $15 and may include a monthly fee of $1.99, said Arturo Sanchez, a deputy city administrator. The contract pays for itself, he said. With a population of 400,000, Oakland sees its ID card as a way of helping undocumented immigrants in dealing with police, not just banks, Sanchez said.

None have linked their cards to a city’s library system. But Alarcon said linking the cards to L.A.’s library system would help promote “financial literacy” among immigrants.

“We test students all the time on academic ability,” he said. “But we don’t determine if they are capable of handling their financial affairs. The foreclosure crisis demonstrated that there are a lot of people who are not.”

A New York City councilman in 2007 proposed an ID card for city residents regardless of status. But the proposal never got a committee hearing and died from lack of support. City ID cards are not the only way for illegal immigrants to get bank accounts. Some banks accept foreign government-issued identification such as the Mexican Matricular Consular to open accounts for immigrants regardless of their legal status. But immigrants often are hesitant to take that step, instead turning to payday lenders and check-cashing outlets.

A 2010 Pew Health Group report estimated that 300,000 people in Los Angeles don’t have a bank account. Nearly 70% are foreign born, earn between $10,000 and $15,000 a year and have been in the United States, on average, about 14 years.

Gustavo Martin, 32, a Pacoima mechanic, said he would be interested. On payday, he goes to Bronco Check Cashing in Pacoima, its bright-yellow, hand-painted sign drawing neighborhood workers who like its convenience. He pays $5.50 in fees to cash his $317 weekly salary, he said.

“It’s safe, then OK,” he said, his faded jeans smeared with grease. Then he smiled broadly: “My son likes ‘Harry Potter.'”

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Attention Seeking Former Los Angeles California District Attorney Christopher Darden Claims 17 Years Latter That OJ Simpson’s Lawyer Johnnie Cochran Tampered With Glove OJ Wore While Killing Former Wife And Her Lover

September 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Nearly 17 years after O.J. Simpson walked away from his Los Angeles murder trial a free man, a prosecutor at the center of the case has alleged that the lead defense lawyer tampered with a crucial piece of evidence.

Former Los Angeles deputy district attorney Christopher Darden on Thursday accused Simpson’s defense lawyer, the late Johnnie Cochran, of “manipulating” one of the infamous gloves that the prosecution said linked Simpson to the grisly double murder of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

After Simpson struggled to fit the gloves on his hands – in one of the defining moments of the racially charged trial that captivated the nation – Cochran famously admonished the jury, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

On Thursday, during a panel discussion about the trial at Pace Law School in New York City, Darden, a member of the prosecution team, declared: “I think Johnnie tore the lining. There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.’s fingers couldn’t go all the way up into the glove.”

Darden said in a follow-up interview on Friday that he noticed that when Simpson was trying on a glove for the jury its structure appeared to have changed. “A bailiff told me the defense had it during the lunch hour.” He said he wasn’t specifically accusing anyone, adding: “It’s been my suspicion for a long time that the lining has been manipulated.”

He said he had previously voiced similar concerns in TV interviews, but could not recall the details.

Darden’s charge surprised key participants in the trial and related legal action. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was a member of Simpson’s defense team, and Paul Callan, who represented Nicole Brown Simpson’s estate in a successful civil trial against Simpson, said it was the first time they had ever heard the allegation.

On Friday, Dershowitz called the claim that the defense had an opportunity to tamper with the gloves “a total fabrication” and said “the defense doesn’t get access to evidence except under controlled circumstances.”

Dershowitz said in a follow-up email that he “was certain” in this case that the defense team did not have access to the glove before it was tried on by Simpson in open court.

“Having made the greatest legal blunder of the 20th century,” Dershowitz said of Darden, “he’s trying to blame it on the dead man.”

Darden’s remarks came after Dershowitz, a fellow panelist, called Darden’s decision to have Simpson try on the glove for the first time before the jury “the most stupid thing” a prosecutor could have done.

Dershowitz said that if Darden had evidence that there had been tampering, he would have had an ethical obligation to report the alleged misconduct. He also questioned why Darden had not filed a grievance with the state bar association. Darden responded by saying that this would have been a “whiny-little-snitch approach to life” and that was not what he believed in because it did not change anything.

The event was part of a “Trials and Errors” series, co-sponsored by Pace Law School and the Forum on Law, Culture & Society at Fordham Law, that examines America’s most controversial cases. Also on the panel were Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, and his sister, Kim Goldman.

Derek Sells, the managing partner of Cochran’s old law firm, The Cochran Firm, did not respond to requests for comment. A call to Cochran’s daughter, Tiffany Cochran Edwards, who is a communications director for the firm, was not immediately returned. Cochran died in 2005 from a brain tumor at age 67.

Simpson was acquitted in the double murder case despite what prosecutors described as a “mountain of evidence” against him. The evidence included a blood-soaked glove found on Simpson’s estate and a matching one found at the scene of the murder.

Questions about the lining of the gloves emerged during the 1995 trial, but they did not involve allegations of tampering by defense lawyers.

Three other members of Simpson’s defense team, Robert Shapiro, Barry Scheck and F. Lee Bailey, did not immediately return requests for comment. Robert Kardashian, who also represented Simpson, is deceased.

A civil jury in 1997 found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the murder victims’ families. Simpson, the former National Football League star and Hollywood actor, is currently serving up to 33 years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery in which he claimed he was trying to recover his own sports memorabilia.

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Veteran Beverly Hills California Police Officer Jeffrey Sweet Arrested After Drunken Wreck – Hit House, Utility Pole, And Caused Gas Leak

September 9, 2012

SIMI VALLEY, CALIFORNIA – An off-duty Beverly Hills police officer was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence after his pickup truck smashed into a house, a utility pole, severed a natural gas pipe and came to a halt upside down, authorities said.

Bystanders pulled the driver, Jeffrey Sweet, 42, of Simi Valley, from the vehicle after the 10:22 p.m. Tuesday crash at a curve on Royal Avenue, the Ventura County Star (bit.ly/QlpVxH) reported Wednesday.

Sweet was taken to a hospital after complaining of pain before being booked.

Simi Valley police said two homes were evacuated because of the broken gas line.

The Beverly Hills Police Department’s professional standards unit responded to investigate.

Beverly Hills Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said Sweet has been with the department for 18 years.

Sweet’s blood-alcohol level will be determined by lab tests, said Simi Valley Sgt. Craig Dungan.

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Photographers In Los Angeles California Considered Terrorists By Los Angeles Police Department – Photos In Public Places Constitute “Suspicious Activity” That They’ll Investigate And Report To Federal Government

September 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The next time a tourist snaps a picture of the famous Hollywood sign, their photo won’t be the only item added to the annals. The LAPD considers photography a suspicious activity, and trying to take certain shots may add a page to your personal file.

A memo released last month by Police Chief Charlie Bucks re-categorizes certain behaviors — including photo shoots in public spots — to constitute suspicious activity, which is enough to have cops file a report, open an investigation and forward any further information about a suspect to the federal authorities — all over just an itchy shutter finger.

In an interdepartmental statement dispatched on August 16, Beck writes, “Taking pictures or videos of facilities/buildings, infrastructures or protected sites in a manner that would arouse suspicion in a reasonable person” is enough of a red flag to have authorities file a suspicious activity report, or SAR. According to departmental policies, those SAR files are then sent into a Consolidated Crime and Analysis Database (CCAD), where they are occasionally added to a Crime Analysis Mapping System (CAMS) for further investigation. From there, intelligence can be stored in a Information Sharing Environment (ISE) Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Shared Space and accessed at fusion centers across the country, such as the LA area’s Joint Regional Intelligence Center, where other intel is interpreted, dissected and divulged by agencies like the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security.

In a 2010 evaluation conducted by the US Justice Department, the DoJ writes, “Ultimately, the ISE-SAR EE, through the use of the Shared Spaces concept, provides a solution for law enforcement agencies to share terrorism-related suspicious activity information, while continuing to maintain control of their data through a distributed model of information sharing.”(.pdf)

Further in the report, the Justice Department determined that “The FBI and DHS should continue to support the interface with the Shared Space environment to allow continue ease of sharing SAR data with all law enforcement agencies,” which now includes any reports written up for something as boring as a blurry snapshot. Under the LAPD’s 2008 guidelines, taking photographs or video footage “with no apparent esthetic value” could warrant filing a SAR, but the department has now broadened what they considered potential terroristic activity.

According to the latest LAPD memo, the office notes that the suspicious behavior included on their updated list is “generally protected by the First Amendment” and should not be reported in a SAR, but could be considered if the witness thinks the action in question is “reasonably indicative of criminal activity associated with terrorism,” an explanation that is as broad and open ended as the NDAA, the federal legislation signed last year that lets the government imprison Americans without charge over suspected ties with affiliates of al-Qaeda.

On the official website of the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU writes, broadly speaking, “Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right… Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.”

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone tells the Center for Investigative Reporting that just as any civilian can shoot photos in public spaces, though, surveillance from the authorities is allowed as well. “This would be constitutional under existing law, as long as the government is not doing this in a discriminatory manner,” Stone says. “There may be some constitutional limitations on the government’s use or preservation of such information, but at present, such limitations do not exist, except perhaps in truly egregious circumstances.”

In the days after the latest memo was made public, a backlash directed at the LAPD forced the police commission to establish a five-member civil oversight panel to decide on a set of guidelines for when SARs can be written. The Los Angeles Times reports that the panel unanimously approved an order that will continue to allow officers to write up SARs on any activity that can be interpreted, somehow, as a terroristic threat, however, and things don’t end there either.

Trying to take a picture isn’t the only action being elevated to the level of potential-terrorism in LA. In last month’s memo, Chief Bucks writes, “Demonstrating unusual interest in facilities/buildings, infrastructures or protected sites beyond mere casual or professional (e.g., engineers) interest, such that a reasonable person would consider the activity suspicious.” Examples, he adds, include observations through binoculars, taking notes and attempting to measure distances.

Days after the LAPD memo was made public, Deputy Chief Michael Downing, commanding officer of the LAPD’s counter-terrorism unit, told members of the media, “In this region we have active terrorist plots, in this region, right now,” although authorities have not corroborated those claims with details for the public yet. Chief Downing later told the Times that he was unaware of any specific terrorism plot aimed at targeting the city, but was adamant that law enforcement should be on the ready to handle any reports.

The lengths at which they will go to in an effort to stay ahead of the game has others worried scared, though.

“We ought to be ashamed of ourselves,” National Lawyers Guild attorney Jim Lafferty tells the Times.

In an op-ed published this week in the Huffington Post, Yaman Salahi of the American Civil Liberties Union says the LAPD’s latest memo makes it so that cops can consider “Anyone snapping a photograph or taking notes in a public place [as] a potential threat to public safety.”

“This kind of information sharing might sound good in theory, but a recent study from George Washington University, co-authored by the LAPD’s very own Deputy Chief Michael Downing, the head of the LAPD’s Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau, found that suspicious activity reporting has ‘flooded fusion centers, law enforcement, and other security entities with white noise.’ In practice, the profusion of SAR reports ‘complicates the intelligence process and distorts resource allocation and deployment decisions,’” Salahi writes. “The head of LAPD’s own counterterrorism bureau knows that low value SAR reports hurt counterterrorism efforts more than they help. So we should ask the LAPD to take the simple steps necessary to protect our free speech and privacy rights, and to stop harassing people engaged in perfectly lawful – and often, constitutionally protected – activities.”

Because the LAPD is now narrowing their eyes to focus in on suspicious activity at critical infrastructure sites, seemingly normal behavior anywhere — from power plants and theme parks to even a basketball game — can get you in trouble. In 2004, then Mayor Jim Hahn said, “Los Angeles’ critical infrastructure goes beyond power plants and water mains and includes facilities like Staples Center, which generates millions of dollars for our economy and is, thanks to the Lakers, an internationally-known symbol of Los Angeles.”

LA was awarded $3 million that year through the Urban Area Security Initiative Operation Archangel grant to protect its infrastructure, including the Staples Center, Disneyland and Hollywood Boulevard, and began their involvement in the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) a few years later.

As RT wrote earlier this year as part of their ongoing investigation into the TrapWire surveillance system, the portal on the LAPD’s website that allows for civilians to contribute anonymous SARs is linked with an international intelligence database, as are surveillance cameras across the city. The iWatch reporting program has also been picked up in Washington, DC, where emails perpetrated to have been hacked from the servers of Strategic Forecasting last year suggest that the police department and closed-circuit cameras across the nation’s capital are tied to TrapWire as well. Intelligence collected in those instances are also fed to nationally-run fusion centers.

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Los Angeles California Wastes Court And Jail Time Prosecuting Homeless Man Who Killed Bird To Eat – 60 Days In Jail At Taxpayer Expense Because He Was Hungry

September 8, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A homeless man was sentenced today to 60 days in jail for choking a pelican to death because he was hungry.

The District Attorney’s Office said Sergio Alvarez, 30, caught the bird near the Malibu pier on Aug. 22.

About 5:50 p.m. that day, a bystander flagged down a sheriff’s deputy and said a man was choking a pelican.

When the deputy showed up, the brown pelican “flapped its wings in distress until its body went limp and died,” sheriff’s Lt. Robert Wiard said at the time.

Alvarez first said he found the bird dead, but later admitted he caught it and killed it because he was hungry and hadn’t caught any fish, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.

Brown pelicans are protected by state law. In a Van Nuys courtroom, Alvarez pleaded no contest to animal cruelty. Judge Jessica Silvers sentenced him to 60 days in jail and a year’s probation, prosecutors said.

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Local California Police And Feds Forcing Medical Pot Back Underground

September 7, 2012

CALIFORNIA – A stocky onetime mortgage broker is speeding through Costa Mesa in an old pickup with two pounds of weed in a paper bag. He wears gray cargo shorts and flip-flops and a faded cap with the image of a marijuana leaf stitched on the front. He just smoked a joint thick as a knuckle.

Cypress Hill thumps through the cab.

I’ll hit that bong and break ya off somethin’ soon

I got ta get my props,

Cops, come and try to snatch my crops

These pigs wanna blow my house down

For a man whose apartment was raided recently and now faces felony drug possession and cultivation charges, he doesn’t seem particularly worried about the mission at hand. Ricky rants about a federal and local crackdown on medical marijuana that closed various dispensaries that he ran and forced him back to the streets, where he began as a teenager in the 1970s. (Except then, he was a dealer. Now he is a “mobile dispensary.”)

“It’s too late!” he bellows. “The genie is out of the bottle. A huge demand has been created. It’s back to the underground. Anyone who is smart is just going to take it back to the streets.”

He says he knows lots of people scurrying to the shadows as the state has struggled and failed to regulate the medical cannabis industry and local law enforcement agencies and the federal government have tried to curtail it.

It’s an easy journey to the underground, as the line between the legal and illegal markets in California has always been sketchy. The medical cannabis trade did not rise from a boardroom meeting when voters passed the medical marijuana initiative Proposition 215 in 1996. It sprouted out of the marijuana networks that already existed, with largely the same growers, middlemen and customers.

As the medical cannabis industry evolved, sharp differences with the illicit market developed, but only at the extremes: the AIDS patient getting his lab-tested cannabis from a dispensary in a regulated city like Berkeley on one end, the street dealer selling Mexican cartel weed to high school students on the other.

In the middle was a vast, amorphous gray zone, and many operators have found it wise to stay there, keeping their heads low and leaving no paper trail.

Which is how Ricky does business —- no taxes, no permits and no paperwork. He stashes his cash in safe deposit boxes all over and buries it in the ground. But he still sells only to people with medical recommendations, he says, mainly in case he lands in court and needs a defense.

At 48, Ricky has been an entrepreneur in legal and illegal ventures since junior high school in Long Beach. I met him through a mutual friend, and he asked me to withhold his name and key identifying traits for this story. “Ricky” is an alias he has used and he agreed to be interviewed on condition he not be identified beyond that. If prosecutors knew he had resumed growing in the bedrooms of his apartment after the raid, or that he had 96 plants on the North Coast, or had two “girls” delivering packages all over Orange County, or that he used to distribute Mexican and Canadian pot in the 1990s, it would undoubtedly complicate his legal problems.

The strain of bud he has under his seat today is relatively mild, grown on a patch of Mendocino soil he had a stake in the previous summer.

His gruff voice overpowers my questions and even the rap music, and it is clear the joint he smoked has set loose a runaway train of thought.

Forget complying with city regulations, he says, or the state Board of Equalization, which collects sales tax. “All you’re doing is creating a record for when they come back to get you later.”

“The cops want to make this ‘weed’ again. It’s medicine. I believe in this. I need it. I got my card. . . . It helps me deal with every day. . . . I do get high on my own supply.” He laughs hard enough to cough.

“The above board thing is a recent phenomenon. It was always illegal, and it still is in Orange County.”

As Ricky tells it, he loved weed since the moment he first tried it in seventh grade. In shop, he and his friends made little wood pipes with a grinder and drill. He never thought it made sense that it was illegal when alcohol was not.

A friend’s older sister was a hippie with stoner boyfriends, and from them Ricky, at age 14, bought good Mexican sensimilla, divvied it up and sold it to his buddies. He broke even on the deal, but kept a portion for himself. He says he met more connections and cut more deals.

He earned a business degree from a respected Southern California university (which he asked to remain unidentified; officials there confirmed the degree), and met a friend from Santa Cruz whose brother was a pothead. Making a couple of dope runs up there, he supplied his dorms when the rest of the region was going through a weed drought.

With capital from his dealing, he says, he started a car repo business while he was still in school and managed to buy two homes in the Inland Empire by the time he was 26. He kept his hand in the marijuana racket, and in the early 1990s, started working with a man who was importing 100-plus-pound shipments of Mexican and Canadian pot every few weeks.

Ricky helped distribute the drugs in addition to his legitimate jobs. He sold the repo business and started a heavy equipment rental firm, bought real estate and got into the mortgage game. But in 2002, he says, the cannabis importer lured him away from what he calls a six-figure job at an Orange County mortgage firm to work full time.

“I used to be a money-hungry yuppie, believe it or not. I drove a new BMW. My problem was how to deal with the money physically,” he says.

Years of hard partying with booze and drugs culminated in heart failure in 2005. Then the weed importer’s foreign supply dried up, he says. Ricky tried to regain his health, giving up heavy drinking and drugs other than marijuana, and set off on his own. He bought cannabis from growers in Humboldt County (and always grew some on his own) and sold it to dispensaries popping up around Los Angeles. In the new verbiage of the medical pot world, he was a “broker” or a “vendor.”

He saw how the dispensaries sold his weed for more than twice what he paid, which showed him how lucrative the retail end could be. So with a partner, he opened his first shop in 2008 in Long Beach. He did well, but it closed in a year and a half due to new city rules and he started another, and then another, growing plants in his apartment to supplement the supply brought by other brokers and growers. The shops did well, and he says he felt pride bringing quality marijuana to people for low prices.

Despite the problems, he was in the sunlight for the first time in his marijuana career and enjoyed it. He had always known he could end up in prison, and he prepared for it mentally, but things seemed to be changing.

Then he got busted.

From a tip, police put his apartment under surveillance and noticed his Edison meter was spinning like a ballerina, a sure sign that grow lights were guzzling power. They served a search warrant last year, seized his plants and about $20,000, and charged him with drug possession and cultivation. He’s preparing for trial now.

With the cities and the federal government cracking down, he closed his last shop in March.

He says he learned a lesson from his dispensary interlude, but it’s not about staying away from pot. It’s about thinking the government is ever going to accept the drug as legitimate.

“Everybody old school was amazed at first: You can have a store and advertise and be above board. But the reality is you can’t do that. . . . Everyone is just registering for their own take-down.”

Now his headquarters is his three-bedroom apartment, which is once again filled with pot plants. Young seedlings and clones sprout like little green starbursts all over his deck. His back bedrooms are jungles of various strains — Master OG, Blue Dream, Skywalker, Mad Man, Rigor Mortis — shimmering under blazing sodium lights. Branches of marijuana hang on lines over his own bed, drying.

Like many growers, he loves to show visitors his plants: “Smell that one. . . look at that bud. . . feel how gummy that is. . . Check out this picture from up north.”

He takes a swim in the ocean and sits at his coffee table watching TV as he trims the buds to sell and texts his “girls” on where to deliver it.

He says he makes sure to deliver only to people with a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana to comply with the medical marijuana laws, but keeps no paperwork. “A lot of the medical market is still underground because people don’t want to be registered — nurses, teachers, firemen. They can get fired for using marijuana,” he says.

Two young women do the smaller deliveries. Ricky does the larger transactions.

On this day, he is meeting a friend, a manager of a marine supply store whose mother is in a senior citizens’ home. “They don’t have a supply so he gives it to her and she distributes it,” Ricky says. “He sells it to other people too.”

He pulls up in front of a liquor store, next to a green sedan. “What’s up brother,” he says, as he gets out. “How you doing?”

“Hey bro,” his friend says, slipping him an envelope with $3,000.

Ricky hands him the bag of bud, and they part, not much different than it would have gone down 30 years ago, except for a broader clientele.

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Judge Tosses PETA Lawsuit That Wasted Taxpayer Money And Court Time – Morons Don’t Like “Happy Cow” Advertising

September 7, 2012

CALIFORNIA – A California judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) seeking to stop California dairy farmers from running TV ads touting how happy, healthy and well-cared for dairy herds are.

PETA, which filed the lawsuit in 2011, had argued that the California Milk Advisory Board and the California Department of Food and Agriculture had violated state rules that bar misleading or inaccurate marketing with the “Happy Cows” ads.

The animal rights group had demanded that California dairy farmers prove that California cows are “happy cows,” as the milk board claimed in the ads.

According to court documents, PETA had specifically complained that “most California dairy cows are subjected to physical and psychological pain and stress caused by intense and uncomfortable dairying practices, have a high risk of suffering from a number of diseases, and die prematurely” and that “dairy producers take into account the animals’ wellbeing only to the extent that it is economically advantageous to do so.”

PETA claimed that the Milk Advisory Board was “lying about the condition of actual cows at actual California dairies.”

But in an Aug. 24 decision, Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly in Sacramento dismissed the suit, ruling that PETA had failed to provide any evidence that California dairy farms mistreat dairy cows.

Connelly held that state agriculture inspectors and the state dairy board had “extensive experience and knowledge that provides strong evidentiary support” justifying the dairy board’s claims that California dairy farmers “are very concerned about the health, comfort and safety of their cows” and “adhere to some of the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S.”

The judge further found that the marketing statements in the promotion “are general assertions about the efforts of California dairy farmers in caring for their cows, not factual representations of the health status and comfort level of the cows or the particular practices and standards used by farmers to care for the cows.”

The California Milk Advisory Board applauded the ruling.

“California dairy families take the well-being and care of their cows very seriously,” Jennifer Gambrioli, spokeswoman for the California Milk Advisory Board, told CNSNews.com.

However, PETA’s director of litigation, Martina Bernstein, said in denying the petition, the judge had “excluded all the evidence from peer-reviewed scientific journals and U.S. Department of Agriculture surveys.”

“The evidence shows that disease and suffering is rampant — more than 30 percent of cows suffer from udder infections, painful swollen knees, and hoof disorders, such as foot rot, ulcers, and abscesses, resulting in lameness and premature death,” Bernstein added.

But in his ruling, Judge Connelly declared that PETA had provided only general “declarations” about dairy farming and had provided no “data specific to California dairy farms, and no expert opinion testimony is offered to explain the data or relate it to the dairy farms.”

The judge also said that state veterinarians and agriculture officials regularly inspect California dairy farms, and are in a better position, scientifically, to know what condition the state’s cows are in.

“(Their) evidence stands in sharp contrast to nonprobative anecdotal information about the condition and care of cows on six or twelve dairy farms among the more than 1,600 farms in the state,” Connelly wrote.

“Statistical surveys and studies may be more detailed and systematic, but the aggregated experience and knowledge of Department personnel provides comprehensive and reliable information relevant to the care of cows on California dairy farms.”

PETA, meanwhile, said it is “continuing a review of the judge’s decision in order to determine its next step.”

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Judge Goes Against Prosecutor’s Recomendations And Spares Creator Of Obama “Hope” Poster From Federal Prison Time

September 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Rejecting a Department of Justice request for prison time, a federal judge spared Shepard Fairey–creator of the Obama “Hope” poster–time in custody during a sentencing hearing this morning.

Judge Frank Maas ordered the 42-year-old artist to serve two years probation, complete 300 hours of community service, and pay a $25,000 fine for a misdemeanor contempt conviction. Fairey pleaded guilty earlier this year to destroying and fabricating documents during a civil lawsuit over the iconic 2008 campaign image.

Fairey delivered a statement in U.S. District Court apologizing for violating the court’s trust in connection with litigation against the Associated Press. He termed his scheming the “worst thing I ever did.”

Fairey, who lives in Los Angeles, was ordered to report to probation officials there within 72 hours. If he completes his community service within a year, his probation term can be discontinued.

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4 US Marines Arrested For Beating Fags Outside California Gay Bar

September 6, 2012

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – A man described to CBS2/KCAL9 the night four Marines beat him unconscious outside a bar popular among the gay community.

“I remember blacking out. All I remember is being put next to the curb,” the man, who chose not to give his name, told reporter Stacey Butler.

“He starts pushing me and calling me f–. I told him I was gonna call police,” the victim said.

The San Dimas resident said the four men beat him after they all left The Silver Fox in Long Beach early Sunday morning.

Now, he said he’s afraid to show his face.

“I don’t want them to see who I am. They have friends out there,” the man said.

Police arrested the four Marines after they say the suspects beat the full-time film student until he passed out. They may be charged with a hate crime.

Charlie Harris was working in the bar and ran to help.

“You could hear the punches…it was bad,” Harris said.

“You just saw fists, and muscles, and tattoos, and all those guys were on top of him,” David, the victim’s boyfriend, said. He said he was too shocked to move.

David watched, as his boyfriend lay unconscious on the ground, as one of the Marines turned on Charlie.

Harris said, “When I threw him off, his partner grabbed me from the shirt…” and dragged him on his back.

Harris reportedly fought the suspects until police arrived.

David believes Harris may have saved his boyfriend’s life.

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Newberry Springs California Dog “Lucky” Brings Home Human Foot

September 5, 2012

NEWBERRY SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA – An investigation is underway after a dog brought home a human foot, deputies reported.

The dog’s owner called San Bernardino sheriff’s detectives to search the desert along the I-40 Freeway and they found more body parts.

Erica said she’s used to her dog, “Lucky,” bringing home animals but never expected to see a human foot.

“It didn’t seem like it was real…It was freaky, scary and I was in shock,” the Newberry Springs resident said.

Detectives said they can’t determine the race or gender on any of the remains.

They are looking into missing persons cases in the area and will gather DNA from the parts they’ve found.

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