Thursday, May 26, 2016

NO NEED TO APOLOGIZE TO JAPAN FOR MURDERS COMMITTED BY AMERICANS

After being berated by the Japanese prime minister, Obama did what he does best … apologize

Obama’s trip to Japan was marred Wednesday when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe berated the president for the rape-murder of a young Okinawa woman committed by a former U.S. Marine who worked at the U.S. Kadena Air Base. Abe said that he felt “profound resentment for this self-centered and despicable crime this case has shocked not just Okinawa but all of Japan.”

Obama then turned to the prime minister and did what he does best … going around the world apologizing for the U.S. The President expressed “his sincerest condolences and deepest regrets.”

President Obama doesn’t need to apologize to Japan for any murders committed by Americans. He should have just said something like, “Yes, I understand because there is profound resentment for the scores of Americans who have been killed and seriously injured by your Takata airbags, deaths and injuries that have shocked not just drivers but all of the United States.”

If any apology is called for, it’s the Japanese who should apologize for the horrendous atrocities committed by their troops before and during WW2.

Lest the Japanese forget, it was they who attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. And it was the U.S. that helped rebuild Japan after it surrendered in 1945. Also it was the U.S. that helped Japan become one of the world’s leading economic powers after the war.

Instead of apologizing, perhaps Obama should pull the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan out of that ungrateful country and let the Japanese fend for themselves against the military might of China.

Obama is scheduled to visit Hiroshima. He has said he will not apologize for the A-bombing of that now thriving metropolis. We shall see.

DUMB ASS DESERVES TO GET CAUGHT

By Bob Walsh

There was a road rage incident along I-580 in Richmond early Sunday (05-22) evening. Shots were fired, but the cops will probably be able to identify the shooter without too much trouble.

These two numb-nuts got in some sort of a beef and started brake-checking each other. Finally the numb-nuts in the Volvo pulled up along-side and fired three rounds at the other numb-nuts.

The shooter then goosed it, took an off-ramp and smacked a light pole. He disentangled his Volvo and took off, leaving his front bumper with license plate wrapped around the pole.

NEAR DEATH BY STUPIDITY

By Bob Walsh

It seems that a 15-year old boy in Santa Rosa, California engineered his own unsuccessful suicide-by-cop Monday (05-23) evening.

The as-yet not publically identified young man called the cops himself just before midnight and told the dispatcher that a man answering his description was in Coffey Park with a gun. The local constabulary arrived promptly and confronted the teen. The young man initially hit the deck when ordered, but then stood up and pointed his realistic but fake gun at the cops. An officer fired on him, hitting him once in the foot. He then fell down for real and was taken into custody.

I have no idea what the range was but I can’t help but wonder if the cop deliberately shot low. In 2013 a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy shot and killed a stoned youngster in possession of a very realistic fake AK-47, creating a local shitstorm. The deputy was cleared in the shooting.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Knowing what piss-poor shooters most cops are in a life-threatening situation, I suspect he was aiming at center mass and was lucky he hit the idiot in the foot.

I remember going up to a NY cop right after he shot a gun out of a robber's hand who was pointing the weapon at him from inside a car. He said something like, "Shit I wasn't aiming to do that ... I was trying to shoot the bastard between his fucking eyes."

POLICE CHIEF IN HOT WATER AFTER SHOOTING FRIEND WHILE HUNTING

Oops, I must’ve gotten my tongue twisted up when I said he accidentally shot himself … what I meant to say was that it was me that shot him in the back

CBS/AP
May 25, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland mayor has placed Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea on paid administrative leave after information emerged that the chief may have misled an investigator about his involvement in an accidental shooting while hunting in eastern Oregon.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward told them O'Dea indicated to a deputy responding to the scene that his friend accidentally shot himself April 21 during a hunting trip.

Ward says O'Dea never identified himself as a police officer and didn't tell responding deputies that he had fired the shot from his rifle.

O'Dea on Friday acknowledged to the public that he'd shot and injured a 54-year-old friend in the back.

CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV reports that neither the police department nor the city publicly acknowledged the incident before Friday, when the Willamette Week first published an article about the incident.

Oregon State Police and the state Justice Department are investigating.

Mayor Charlie Hales has appointed Assistant Chief Donna Henderson to serve as acting chief.

THE NATIONWIDW CRIME WAVE IS BUILDING

As the homicide rate keeps rising in many cities, even some who dismissed the ‘Ferguson effect’ admit the phenomenon is real

By Heather Mac Donald

The Wall Street Journal
May 23, 2016

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey has again drawn the wrath of the White House for calling attention to the rising violence in urban areas. Homicides increased 9% in the largest 63 cities in the first quarter of 2016; nonfatal shootings were up 21%, according to a Major Cities Chiefs Association survey. Those increases come on top of last year’s 17% rise in homicides in the 56 biggest U.S. cities, with 10 heavily black cities showing murder spikes above 60%.

“I was very worried about it last fall,” Mr. Comey told a May 11 news conference. “And I am in many ways more worried” now, he said, because the violent-crime rate is going up even faster this year.

Mr. Comey’s sin, according to the White House, was to posit that this climbing urban violence was the result of a falloff in proactive policing, a hypothesis I first put forward in these pages last year, dubbing it the “Ferguson effect.” The FBI director used the term “viral video effect,” but it is a distinction without a difference. “There’s a perception,” Mr. Comey said during his news conference, “that police are less likely to do the marginal additional policing that suppresses crime—the getting out of your car at 2 in the morning and saying to a group of guys, ‘What are you doing here?’ ”

The reaction to Mr. Comey’s heresy was swift. White House spokesman Josh Earnest immediately accused the FBI director of being “irresponsible and ultimately counterproductive” by drawing “conclusions based on anecdotal evidence.”

Mr. Comey’s dressing-down was the second time he has been rebuked by his bosses for connecting the crime increase to a drop in proactive policing. Last November, President Obama accused Mr. Comey of trying to “cherry-pick data” and pursuing a “political agenda” after the FBI chief spoke of the “chill wind” blowing through American law enforcement since the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014.

But the evidence is not looking good for those who dismiss the Ferguson effect, from the president on down. That group once included Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, who was an early and influential critic. Mr. Rosenfeld has changed his mind after taking a closer look at the worsening crime statistics. “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian recently. “These aren’t flukes or blips, this is a real increase.”

A study published this year in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that homicides in the 12 months after the Michael Brown shooting rose significantly in cities with large black populations and already high rates of violence, which is precisely what the Ferguson effect would predict.

A study of gun violence in Baltimore by crime analyst Jeff Asher showed an inverse correlation with proactive drug arrests: When Baltimore cops virtually stopped making drug arrests last year after the rioting that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, shootings soared. In Chicago, where pedestrian stops have fallen nearly 90%, homicides this year are up 60% compared with the same period last year. Compared with the first four and half months of 2014, homicides in Chicago are up 95%, according to the police department. Even the liberal website Vox has grudgingly concluded that “the Ferguson effect theory is narrowly correct, at least in some cities.”

Despite this mounting evidence, the Ferguson effect continues to be distorted by its critics and even by its recent converts. The standard line is that it represents a peevish reaction from officers to “public scrutiny” and expectations of increased accountability. This ignores the virulent nature of the Black Lives Matter movement that was touched off by a spate of highly publicized deaths of young black men during encounters with police. As I know from interviewing police officers in urban areas across the country, they now encounter racially charged animus on the streets as never before.

Accountability is not the problem; officers in most departments are accustomed to multiple layers of review and public oversight. The problem is the activist-stoked hostility toward the police on the streets and ungrounded criticism of law enforcement that has flowed from the Obama administration and has been amplified by the media.

“In my 19 years in law enforcement, I haven’t seen this kind of hatred towards the police,” a Chicago cop who works on the tough South Side tells me. “People want to fight you. ‘Fuck the police. We don’t have to listen,’ they say.” A police officer in Los Angeles reports: “Several years ago I could use a reasonable and justified amount of force and not be cursed and jeered at. Now our officers are getting surrounded every time they put handcuffs on someone.” Resistance to arrest is up, cops across the country say, and officers are getting injured.

The country’s political and media elites have relentlessly accused cops of bias when they police inner-city neighborhoods. Pedestrian stops and broken-windows policing (which targets low-level public-order offenses) are denounced as racist oppression. That officers would reduce their discretionary engagement under this barrage of criticism is understandable and inevitable.

Policing is political. If a powerful segment of society sends the message that proactive policing is bigoted, the cops will eventually do less of it. This is not unprofessional; police take their cues, as they should, from the messages society sends about expected behavior. The only puzzle is why many Black Lives Matter activists, and their allies in the media and in Washington, now criticize police for backing off of proactive policing. Isn’t that what they demanded?

Ultimately, denial of the Ferguson effect is driven by a refusal to acknowledge the connection between proactive policing and public safety. Until the urban family is reconstituted, law-abiding residents of high-crime neighborhoods will need the police to maintain public order in the midst of profound social breakdown.

Last week in Chicago, a man on the South Side who works in a bakery told me that he now sees “a lot of people disrespect the police, cussing and fussing.” He added: “There’s so much killing going on now in Chicago, it’s ridiculous. The problem is not the cops, it’s the people, especially this younger crowd with the guns.”

That message needs to be heard by the activists, politicians and media who have spent the past two years demonizing American law enforcement. Officers must of course treat everyone they encounter with courtesy and respect within the confines of the law. But unless the ignorant caricaturing of cops ends, there will be good reason for FBI Director Comey and the rest of us to worry about what the rising tide of bloodshed holds in store for U.S. cities this summer.

TOURISTS MAY WANT TO THINK TWICE BEFORE GOING TO BAJA CALIFORNIA

Baja California Sur is now a war zone that has been abandoned by the Mexican government

By Texcoco De Mora

Borderland Beat from Zeta Tijuana
May 23, 2016

The security cabinet of Enrique Peña Nieto is concentrated in states where insecurity has overflowed and authorities have been overwhelmed by criminals and drug traffickers, such as Tamaulipas, Guerrero, and Michoacan, entities that had been peaceful but now they are on the doorstep of unprecedented violence.

Baja California Sur has been a tourist paradise. Particularly Los Cabos and the capital, La Paz, have been preferred by tourists from the United States and Europe. In fact it had remained as one of the states with the lowest rates of drug-related violence. It even recorded zero executions in the years when Mexico's northern border was in flames.

The calm of this prodigious peninsula, a true wonder of nature, has change because of the bad government administration from Narciso Agundez Montano, a member of the PRD political party, he even set foot in prison for his bad administration, that kept the criminals unpunished and made Baja California Sur a haven for drug traffickers.

It was there where they protected members of the Arellano Felix cartel who sailed on the sea of Cortez, they party here and lived quietly since no local authority were investigating or pursuing them, while the federal government look the other away.

It was in Baja California Sur that Francisco Javier Arellano Felix "El Tigerillo" was arrested in 2006, by the FBI with other members of his organization on a yacht, supposedly on international waters. Same thing on 2010, in La Paz, leaders of a cell at the service of the Sinaloa Cartel were arrested, Teodoro García Simental, "El Teo"; Raydel Lopez Uriarte "El Muletas" and Jose Manuel Garcia Simental, "El Chiquilín" who, in the previous four years, had kept Baja California Norte as a war zone against the Arellano Felix cartel, leaving thousands dead north of the peninsula.

From this south paradise "El Tigerillo", "El Teo", "El Muletas", and "El Chiquilín" continued managing their multi-million and illicit drug business in other states of the Republic via cell phone and radio communication without anyone bothering them.

Baja California Sur 2012, elements of the Mexican Navy, were about to arrest Joaquin Guzman Loera in Los Cabos while vacationing in a mansion at the tourist destination where he knew no one would look for him. A corrupt element warned Guzman of the operation to apprehend him and when the armed forces arrived the drug kingpin was no longer there.

In late 2013, also in Los Cabos, a gunman dressed as a clown, working for Jose Rodrigo Arechiga Gamboa "El Chino Antrax" killed Rafael Arellano Felix as he was celebrating his 60th birthday.

And in the Baja California Sur peninsula alleged narcos live there in retirement. Life is comfortable for them in those remote places where a criminal war has began.

Despite having documented knowledge of the recreational activity of drug traffickers in Baja California Sur, the Government has not yet developed a strategy to contain the oncoming violence. No special operations, or a red alert.

Given the apparent abandonment of the authority to seek order and justice, criminals no longer see Baja California Sur as a recreational place and now it has become a distribution center for Sinaloas drug to Baja California and then to the United States. Like all narcotics distribution area, part of cargoes are left behind for local consumption, creating addicted communities that support drug dealing, another headache for the local society.

The second capture of Joaquin Guzman Loera, created an internal reshuffle in the Sinaloa Cartel sparked a war in Los Damaso, led by Damaso Lopez Nunez, who split off from the group of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, and they took the Baja California Sur territory to start their war .

Other criminal organizations have settled in the heavenly destination, but today, due to insecurity and violence, it has a travel alert from the United States Department, for its citizens not to visit that Mexican region .

Among the other criminal groups in La Paz and Los Cabos apart from the Arellano Felix cartel we know about a cell of the Beltran Leyva, and it has even been reported about the presence of Los Zetas.

In addition, a recent DEA report, states that Jalisco New Generation Cartel has move in to sell and transport drugs in La Paz and Los Cabos.

Whit no federal police presence and the absence of a strategy to contain the insecurity by the Government and local authorities, organized criminals have settled in Baja California Sur. They have declared war and it is lead by four cartels: Arellano cells, Sinaloa, Los Damaso, Jalisco New Generation.

In recent months, police have been attacked while citizens are violated, witnesses of shootings during the day and at night. With clashes with police, burning of vehicles, the killing of two policemen and the attack on Luis Alejandro Osorio Alvarez, Commander of the State Preventive Police, criminals have put the war aside between them, to declare war on the police.

Still, Baja California Sur has not been addressed by President Enrique Peña Nieto or secretary of national security, Miguel Osorio Chong.

Arrested in 2015 Melisa Margarita Calderon Ojeda "La China" a cell leader of Los Damaso in Baja California Sur, give information on her statements at the Seido (Deputy Attorney Specialized in Organized Crime Investigation) the woman layout a web of corruption on her criminal organization, they have local, municipal and state police corporations on payroll, to keep their illicit activity outside of the law. But this information has not been properly analyzed or follow up by the Federal Government to bring the apprehension of corrupt police and officials.

Baja California Sur is in abandonment by the federal government. Far from the center of the country, which has been known as a haven for tourists has become in recent years in a battle between the cartels that now dispute this coveted territory. And nobody says anything.

Is not Tamaulipas, or Guerrero, but this entity governed by the PAN Carlos Mendoza Davis required the attention of federal forces to stop the wave of violence that affects its citizens, which puts national security at risk, and drawn the attention of the United States Government.

If this continues like this, there is a risk of seeing Baja California Sur to join the list of states in the brink of chaos as in the case of Guerrero and Tamaulipas. Mexico deserves an attentive and able government to end the drug war that increasingly extends to more territories before the astonished gaze of citizens who perhaps never expected to see the place become a death zone and shootouts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

FUR CLAD POLE DANCER

SOME DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS GO TO HEAVEN, SOME TO HELL, AND SOME RETURN FROM BOTH PLACES YEAR AFTER YEAR TO VOTE

CBS2 Investigation Uncovers Votes Being Cast From Grave Year After Year

By David Goldstein

CBS Los Angeles
May 23, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- A comparison of records by David Goldstein, investigative reporter for CBS2/KCAL9, has revealed hundreds of so-called dead voters in Southern California, a vast majority of them in Los Angeles County.

“He took a lot of time choosing his candidates,” said Annette Givans of her father, John Cenkner.

Cenkner died in Palmdale in 2003. Despite this, records show that he somehow voted from the grave in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

But he’s not the only one.

CBS2 compared millions of voting records from the California Secretary of State’s office with death records from the Social Security Administration and found hundreds of so-called dead voters.

Specifically, 265 in Southern California and a vast majority of them, 215, in Los Angeles County alone.

The numbers come from state records that show votes were cast in that person’s name after they died. In some cases, Goldstein discovered that they voted year after year.

Across all counties, Goldstein uncovered 32 dead voters who cast ballots in eight elections apiece, including a woman who died in 1988. Records show she somehow voted in 2014, 26 years after she passed away.

It remains unclear how the dead voters voted but 86 were registered Republicans, 146 were Democrats, including Cenkner.

“He’s a diehard Democrat, and I was thinking that if somebody was voting under his name, he’s probably rolling in his grave if they were voting Republican,” Givans said.

She said her dad always voted at the polls, only now records show someone else may be casting his vote.

“It just astounds me. I don’t understand how anybody can get away with that,” she said.

And then there’s Julita Abutin.

Records show she voted in Norwalk in 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2008 though she died in 2006.

Abutin’s daughter, Marivic, says it’s impossible that her mother voted.

But the Los Angeles County Registrar confirms they have signed vote-by-mail envelopes with her mother’s name for the 2014 and 2012 election, though she died 10 years ago.

Edward Carbajal Jr.’s father died in La Puente in 2001 but state records show a vote was cast in his father’s name in eight elections after he passed away.

It’s possible as a junior, election officials mistakenly attributed the vote to his father. There is no way to tell from CBS2’s data but he wonders why his dad is still registered.

“I mean, that should be something that everybody that’s involved with these types of things should know who’s alive and who isn’t,” he said.

The Los Angeles County Registrar told CBS2: “We remove 1200 to 2000 deceased records from the database per month.”

But the news station checked all of the dead voters from LA County on the Registrar’s website and found 212 of the 215 were still registered and eligible to vote in next month’s presidential primary election.

“It’s very troubling because it basically dilutes the voice of the lawful voter,” said Ellen Swensen with the “True the Vote,” a nationwide voter-rights group.

“What it does is every single vote that’s cast by a dead voter actually cancels out a vote of a lawful voter cause if they voted for one candidate and you voted let’s say for another, your vote got canceled out,” she said.

As Goldstein reports, it was all supposed to change after the hanging chads incident in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which mandated sweeping reforms, including a statewide voter registration system that would eliminate ineligible voters.

But California is the only state that’s still not compliant with the act. Secretary of State Alex Padilla hopes to have it compliant later this year.

“You’re not supposed to have dead people on the rolls,” said J. Christian Adams, who is with the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

“The problem is California has been the most derelict state in the country in implementing statewide databases that are required under federal law. They just blew it off for over a decade,” said Adams.

And in that decade and more, CBS2 found hundreds of votes on the state’s own database cast for people who have died, like Cenkner.

“It’s very said that people can just take somebody’s name and go out and vote for them,” said Givans.

Los Angeles County supervisors are expected to call for a full investigation Tuesday as a result of this story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This goes on all over the country. Chicago is notorious for votes by the dead being cast. In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, there are some counties in which more dead people vote than live ones.

It was subsequently uncovered that thousands of dead voters in Jim Wells County helped Lyndon Johnson overcame a 20,000-vote deficit to win the 1948 Democratic runoff primary for the U.S. Senate by 87 votes.

BALTIMORE STATE’S ATTORNEY MARILYN MOSBY CRITICIZED FOR RUSH TO JUDGMENT IN FREDDIE GRAY CASE

Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz said, “There's no question she [Mosby] acted irresponsibly.”

By Juliet Linderman

Associated Press
May 24, 2016

BALTIMORE -- After two trials and no convictions, Baltimore's top prosecutor faces criticism that she moved too quickly to file charges against six officers in the case involving a 25-year-old black man who died a week after he was critically injured in police custody, triggering protests and riots a year ago.

Even the judge overseeing the cases - in his verdict Monday acquitting the latest officer to stand trial in the death of Freddie Gray - said the state failed to prove its case on any of the charges.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero of the assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges in connection with Gray's arrest outside a West Baltimore housing complex.

Gray died on April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken while handcuffed, shackled, but left unrestrained by a seat belt in the back of a police van. The circumstances of his arrest and his death triggered protests demanding justice for Gray. On the day of his funeral, rioting and looting broke out. The National Guard responded, and a curfew was imposed.

Nero, 30, who is white, was the second of six officers charged to stand trial. The manslaughter case against Officer William Porter ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked. Prosecutors plan to retry him in September.

Williams delivered his verdict in the racially charged case before a packed courtroom Monday. Nero's parents and his brother sat in the front row; a few rows away, Gray's stepfather. Noticeably absent, however, was State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who was present when Williams declared a mistrial in the trial for Porter in December.

After announcing charges against the officers last May - one day after receiving the police department's investigation while a tense city was still under curfew - Mosby did not shy from the spotlight. She posed for magazine photos, sat for TV interviews and even appeared onstage at a Prince concert in Gray's honor.

After the acquittal, Nero's lawyers sought to send a strong message to her.

"Officer Edward Nero, his wife and family are elated that this nightmare is finally over," wrote Marc Zayon and Allison Levine in a statement. "The state's attorney for Baltimore city rushed to charge him, as well as the other five officers, completely disregarding the facts of the case and the applicable law. His hope is that the state's attorney will reevaluate the remaining five officers' cases and dismiss their charges."

Mosby spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie, citing a gag order in the case, declined comment.

David Weinstein, a Florida attorney and former federal civil rights prosecutor, said the verdict will probably serve as a "wake-up call" for prosecutors.

"This speaks to the notion a lot of people had when this first happened, which is that it was a rush to judgment," Weinstein said. "The state's attorney was trying to balance what she had with the public outcry and call to action given the climate in Baltimore and across the U.S. concerning policing, and I think she was overreaching."

Harvard University professor Alan Dershowitz said he believed the judge's verdict was an example of the legal system looking at the facts of the case without being influenced by race or community pressure. He said he "absolutely" believed Mosby overreached in bringing charges against the six officers.

"There's no question she acted irresponsibly," Dershowitz said in a telephone interview. "She acted politically. She acted too quickly, and the public ought to make her pay a price for seeking to distort justice."

Although the judge's ruling referred specifically to Nero's case - the other officers will be tried separately for their alleged roles - he rejected nearly every claim the state made at trial, repeatedly telling prosecutors they'd failed to prove any of the counts beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors had argued that Nero and colleague Garrett Miller illegally detained and arrested Gray without probable cause, and that Nero was reckless when he failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt during the van's second stop blocks from the arrest. Zayon argued Nero wasn't involved in Gray's arrest, having only arrived after Gray was in handcuffs. As for the seat belt, Zayon said not only was Nero unaware of a newly revised policy requiring officers to buckle in prisoners - the previous policy gave officers discretion based on circumstances - but that it was the van driver's responsibility to make sure Gray was safe.

In his verdict, Williams said he believed Miller, who took the stand as the state's principal witness and testified that he alone detained and handcuffed Gray. The judge told prosecutors they failed to prove Nero did anything wrong.

"The state's theory from the beginning has been one of negligence, recklessness, and disregard for duty and orders by this defendant," Williams said. "There has been no information presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen."

Warren Brown, a Baltimore attorney who observed much of Nero's trial, said the verdict proved how thin the state's cases are against the officers.

"It was clearly a case where the state decided that come hell or high water they were going to prosecute Nero and Miller, and I think that the ridiculous prosecution was borne out," Brown said. "This thing may extend on and on, quite frankly. It's the prosecution that keeps on giving."

Trial No. 3 - that of van driver Caesar Goodson, who prosecutors believe is most culpable in Gray's death - is set to begin in two weeks. He is charged with second-degree murder.

INDY 500: WHY 500 MILES?

Thanks to Jerry Doyle here is an excerpt about the origin of the Indianapolis 500 auto race from Black Noon: The Year They Stopped the Indy 500 by Art Garner:

In the early 1900s, Indianapolis was competing with Detroit for supremacy in the nascent automobile industry. To bring attention to their city's new industry, civic leaders in Indianapolis started an auto race that became known as the Indianapolis 500:

"The idea behind the Indianapolis Motor Speedway started in the early 1900s as a proving ground for the budding American auto industry. Detroit and Indianapolis were battling for the right to be called 'the Motor City' and Indy was the early leader, building more cars than its Michigan rival. However, Detroit had the advantage of being located on the Great Lakes, with a port to ship in raw materials and ship out vehicles, and Henry Ford was hard at work there, developing the assembly line. So a group of India¬napolis industry leaders figured a large testing facility was needed to help tip the balance in favor of their city.

"In late 1908, the group led by Carl Fisher, a partner in the Prest-O-Lite Company that manufactured headlamps, purchased more than 320 acres about 6 miles west of town on the corner of Georgetown Road and Craw¬fordsville Pike for the then-significant sum of $72,000. Fisher liked to dream big, and his dream for the proving ground was big: a 5-mile circle track. Only one problem -- the track wouldn't fit on the land purchased by the group. So Fisher dialed back his vision to a 3-mile outer oval with an infield road course. Combined, the track would total 5 miles in length.

"Even that proved too ambitious. A New York engineer was called in, and he eventually came up with a design stretching to each corner of the prop¬erty. It's sometimes referred to as an oval, though a rectangle is a more ac¬curate description -- a 2.5-mile rectangle with the corners rounded off. The two long straightaways are each five-eighths of a mile, while the two shorter straights are each an eighth of a mile long. The straights are connected by four quarter-mile turns, each turn with 9 degrees of banking. The track was only 45 feet wide at most places, occasionally flaring to 60 feet in width. The same basic design exists today.

"This design created an enormous infield area of more than 250 acres, capable of fitting such sporting venues as Churchill Downs, Wimbledon, the Roman Coliseum, Yankee Stadium, and the Rose Bowl all inside the track at the same time.

"Construction started as soon as the snows cleared in March 1909. ... Once it was completed, the owners decided to stage races at the track in an effort to help create awareness about the facility. At the time, auto rac¬ing in America was relegated to dirt tracks used primarily for horse rac¬ing, or cross-country events run on public roads. After the track served as the starting line for a balloon race, a motorcycle exhibition was planned. It immediately became apparent the surface was unsuitable for the skinny motorcycle tires, and the race was suspended soon after it started.

"A series of exhibition auto races the following weekend attracting the era's leading racers -- including Barney Oldfield, Louis Chevrolet, and Ray Harroun -- proved to be an even bigger disaster. Chevrolet nearly lost an eye when a flying stone broke through his goggles, and the races were marred by accidents and death, as one driver, two riding mechanics, and two spec¬tators were killed. The feature race was stopped before the finish, and as the slim crowd filed out, the future of the proving ground was very much in doubt.

"Comparisons to the Coliseum were not well received at this point. The Detroit News, highlighting the problems its rival city was having, editorial¬ized that the racing was 'more brutal than bull fighting, gladiatorial com¬bat or prize fighting.' To head off efforts to shut down the track, the owners decided to invest further in the facility and pave it, choosing bricks because they would last longer and provide better traction than concrete. It was a massive undertaking. More than 3.2 million paving bricks, each weighing 9.5 pounds, were laid at a cost of $165,000, more than twice the original investment. A 33-inch-high concrete wall was built around the outside of the track to protect spectators. It took just two months to complete, and the track has been known ever since as 'the Brickyard.' ...

"The promoters wanted an all-day affair, leaving just enough time for the fans to arrive at the track and return home in daylight. They figured 500 miles would last about seven hours and still provide the needed travel time, so the first 'Indianapolis 500-Mile Race' was set."

MASSACHUSETTS COP KILLER KILLED IN SHOOTOUT WITH POLICE

Jorge Zambrano had a lengthy criminal record, having been released from prison in 2013 after serving time for trafficking in cocaine, assault and battery on a police officer and other charges

Associated Press
May 23, 2016

AUBURN, Mass. -- The manhunt for a suspect accused of fatally shooting a Massachusetts police officer has come to a violent end.

Authorities say 35-year-old Jorge Zambrano was shot to death Sunday evening at a duplex in Oxford after exchanging gunfire with police and wounding a state trooper. The trooper is an 18-year veteran and former U.S. Navy Seal. He's expected to survive.

Officials say the manhunt ended nearly 18 hours after Zambrano fatally shot Officer Ronald Tarentino during a traffic stop early Sunday morning in Auburn.

The 42-year-old Tarentino was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He had been with the Auburn police force for two years, and before that worked with the Leicester Police Department in his hometown. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

Zambrano had a lengthy criminal record, having been released from prison in 2013 after serving time for trafficking in cocaine, assault and battery on a police officer and other charges

Zambrano was sentenced in 2011 on a list of charges that also included assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest, and selling, using or possessing a firearm silencer.

State officials said he was released from a maximum-security prison in Shirley, Massachusetts, on Nov. 1, 2013.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What I cannot fathom is that Zambrano served only two years with that shitload full of serious charges.

NO ONE BELIEVED HER WHEN SHE SAID SHE KILLED HER HUSBAND WITH A STONE FROG UNTIL HIS BODY WAS FOUND 18 YEARS LATER

By Ben Guarino

The Washington Post
May 20, 2016

Leigh Ann Sabine never found fame while she was alive. It was not for lack of trying, as she and her husband, John, moved from Britain to New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, where Sabine attempted to achieve celebrity as a cabaret singer. Back in Britain years later, Sabine would tell friends that she once worked as a supermodel, or she was the ex-wife of a millionaire, or she had, in fact, been a famous singer in Australian nightclubs.

In reality, none of those occupations panned out quite the way she spun them. But, as she grew sick with cancer, she revealed she had a final trump card to play: Sabine told her hairdresser that the spotlight was coming, as Wales Online reported, “because of the body.” No one gave that claim much credence, either. What body?

In October, Sabine died of brain cancer at age 74, her talk of “the body” still a mystery.

Perhaps it makes sense in hindsight. It certainly did at the coroner’s inquest that took place this week.

Her husband, John, had gone missing in 1997. For what reason, nobody seemed to know. There were theories but few answers.

John and Leigh Ann Sabine’s romance had lasted for nearly four decades. Their relationship kindled when Leigh was a 17-year-old nurse and John was a 28-year-old married man with two children, according to the Bristol Post. When Leigh became pregnant, John’s first wife threw him out. The rocky start was an ill portent of things to come.

The couple married in 1960. John, a veteran of the Korean War, worked as an accountant while Leigh raised their children. Their early years of British domesticity were fleeting, a half-decade spent in southwest England. The family vanished in 1965, facing accusations that John had defrauded his company on the order of $6,000.

“Prior to their disappearance we saw John burning lots of A4 papers in the garden,” a neighbor told the Bristol Post, “and after the Easter a detective told me that it was sure to have been papers relating to his frauds.”

The Sabines surfaced in New Zealand with their five children, aged 2 to 11. But just as swiftly as they had fled Britain, the family uprooted once again. This time, however, John and Leigh divested themselves of their children. All five, the BBC reported, were abandoned at an Auckland nursery in 1969.

Now alone with her partner, Leigh made her way across Australia and New Zealand, according to news reports. But not until the mid-’80s did Leigh and John — going under the assumed last name Martin — attempt to contact their children.

Their daughters Jane and Lee-Ann promptly alerted the New Zealand authorities, said the BBC. With nowhere left to turn Down Under, Leigh and John retreated to Britain. The couple settled in the South Wales village of Beddau.

It was there — in 1997 — where the last accounts of John Sabine take place. It was as if he evaporated. But after he disappeared, no one filed a missing person report. Leigh told some of her friends that her husband was a “womanizer,” according to Wales Online, and he had simply run away with a new flame.

The same year John disappeared, during an out-of-the-blue call to an old acquaintance, Leigh said the strangest thing. The friend, Valerie Chalkley, commented that it had been such a long time since she’d heard from the Sabines that one of them must have killed the other. “t’s funny you should say that,” Sabine replied, according to Chalkley’s recollection to the Daily Mail. “I’ve killed him. I’ve battered him with a stone frog which was at the side of the bed. He was just driving me mad. Every night he would get into bed crying and weeping, saying you don’t fancy me.”

Chalkley took none of this seriously. Who would? As Wales Online described the inquest testimony, Chalkley “said she put the comment down to Mrs Sabine making it up, because she had heard nothing on the news which would tally with what she had said during their conversation.” After the telephone call, Chalkley said that death by stone amphibian — “Watch out or I will frog you” — became something of an inside joke among her family members.

Sabine began to tell stories of a body in a bag, a skeleton in her home. It was fake skeleton — a medical tool for training to be a nurse, Sabine told her neighbor, 45-year-old Michelle James. According to evidence presented at the inquest, Sabine “had mentioned to a number of people there was a skeleton in the communal garden area which she wanted moving.”

One day, Sabine asked a woman named Lynne Williams, who cared for Sabine while she was sick in the hospital, to move the skeleton. It was in her shed, in a communal garden shared with neighbors, according to testimony at the inquest, and Sabine wanted it in the attic.

Williams said she hoped it wasn’t actually a body.

“‘You never know,'” Williams said Sabine replied, “and wagged her finger at me with a smile.”

Sabine died in October.

A few weeks later her neighbor, Michelle James, thought the medical skeleton would be the perfect prop for a prank. She went looking for it and found it, wrapped in layers of tin foil, plastic wrap, old bags and roofing material.

Out tumbled not a fake skeleton, however, but the 18-year-old remains of Sabine’s husband, smothering James’s hands in partially decomposed gristle. “I was screaming,” she told the BBC. “I was shouting, ‘It’s a dead body! It’s a dead body!'”

It was indeed a dead body, or what was left of it. Police Constable Joy Nicholls told the inquest she remembered a “very strong smell of rotting waste,” according to Wales Online.

On Nov. 24, 2015, the police began their investigation. John, whose identity was confirmed by DNA analysis, was still wearing Marks & Spencer pajamas. Under all the wrapping, his body had “chemically mummified,” according to the coroner, Andrew Barkley, who released his assessment on Thursday at the conclusion of the inquest.

The blow to John’s skull left a curious outline, which matched a specific object: the 2.5-pound ornamental frog from Leigh’s garden. There were a number of skull fractures, pathologist Richard Jones told the inquest, and any could have caused his death. The pattern, he said, was consistent with assault using the green ceramic frog, with its bulging eye and leg.

“It is my view that Leigh Sabine probably killed John Sabine and wrapped up his body,” said detective chief inspector Gareth Morgan, as reported by the Guardian. “There was no evidence to suggest anyone else knew of his death.”

“It is beyond doubt in my mind,” Barkley concluded Thursday, “that foul play was at the cause of his death.”

It was an end that fit the way Sabine lived. “She liked to create attention,” Barkley said. “She liked to be theatrical.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FEDERAL PRISON BLUES

FEDERAL JUDGE BLASTS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE LIARS

By Bob Walsh

U. S District Court Judges as a rule hate to be lied to. They especially hate to be lied to by lawyers. Judge Andrew Hannen got lied to four times by DOJ lawyers and he is not at all happy about it.

Hannen is hearing the case where several states are suing over Obama’s legally dubious administrative amnesty program. The feds have repeatedly told the judge (twice verbally, twice in writing) that there has been no action taken with regard to the President’s amnesty proposal.

In fact the feds have given reprieves of deportation to over 108,000 illegal aliens and granted them work permits in apparent violation of law. If this is allowed to run its course about five million illegal aliens would be granted executive amnesty from the law.

The judge is livid and has said so. He has apparently issued an order directing the four lawyers involved to go to ethics training classes. Judge Hannen could pursue the matter much farther if he chooses to and may yet do so depending on how things shake out.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Q: What is the difference between a lawyer and a liar?

A: The spelling.

NOT GUILTY IN BALTO

By Bob Walsh

Baltimore police officer Edward Nero was smart enough to ask for a bench (judge only) trial rather than a jury trial when he was lined up to be a sacrificial goat for the paddy wagon death of Freddie Gray.

His smartness paid off this morning (05-23) when Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams announced NOT GUILTY on all counts.

The question now is whether or not the city will again burn and what will happen to the other officers who are being lined up to be sacrificed at the altar of surrender to the Black Lives Matter fanatics.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t think the BLM rabble can get their bowels into much of an uproar since Judge Williams is black.

WHEN A ‘SPEEDY TRIAL’ INCLUDES A 14-MONTH DELAY

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the right to a speedy trial doesn’t include the whole process of arrest, trial and sentencing -- just the time between the first two

By Noah Feldman

BloombergView
May 20, 2016

The Supreme Court has unanimously held that your right to a speedy trial doesn’t cover a 14-month delay after conviction and before sentencing -- because after conviction, the trial is over. To reach this formalistic conclusion, the court had to invent a new legal category -- the “criminal justice process” -- and break it into three separate parts. But although the holding seems wrong to me, there’s still a ray of hope for defendants who sit around waiting for sentencing: The justices left open the possibility that a different part of the Constitution might afford relief in a future case.

Given the issue in the case, there’s some irony in the fact that the court turned around the decision in the case, Betterman v. Montana, at lightning speed. The justices heard oral argument in the case on March 28 -- a turnaround of less than two months.

But the speed did petitioner Brandon Betterman no favors. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for a unanimous court that the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee didn’t apply to anything that happens after conviction.

Her rationale was based on the central argument that the right to a speedy “trial” doesn’t include the whole process of arrest, conviction and sentencing -- just the time between the first two. To make this claim, she began with the assertion that “criminal proceedings generally unfold in three discrete phases.” The first is investigation until a criminal charge. The second runs from arrest until conviction, during which the defendant is presumed innocent. The third, according to Ginsburg, begins after conviction -- during which “the court imposes sentence.”

The first division makes some sense. Before a charge is filed, there’s no “trial” to speak of. But the distinction between trial and sentence is more or less made up for the occasion. Functionally, if I’m in jail, there isn’t a big difference between awaiting trial and awaiting sentencing. Either way the detention is based on the danger I pose to society and my risk of flight. Indeed, I could
be sentenced to time served and released at the moment of sentencing -- suggesting that my post-conviction detention was part of my trial process.

History isn’t a source of the distinction between the trial period and the post-trial, pre-sentencing period, either. When the Bill of Rights was enacted, sentencing typically followed trial immediately.

Today, there are pre-sentence reports to be written and a complex bureaucratic process to be followed that will largely determine the length of the sentence. All that, however, is new.

Ginsburg’s opinion purported to rely on history anyway. She quoted the statement of Sir Edward Coke explaining that, presumed innocent, a person shouldn’t be detained long before trial. And she emphasized that the term “accused” has long been used in contradistinction to “convicted.”

This history is correct -- but not that relevant, considering that ordinarily there was no delay between conviction and sentencing.

In an era of plea bargaining, the pre-sentence report and the hearing are the heart of the criminal justice process -- and should therefore be considered part of the trial. Ginsburg herself acknowledged that today, “many -- if not most -- disputes [about sentencing] are resolved … though the pre-sentence report process.”

A hint of the court’s thinking emerged in Ginsburg’s observation that under the court’s speedy-trial jurisprudence, the only remedy for a violation is that the charges are dropped. The get-out-of-jail-free card would be a “windfall” for already-convicted defendants.

I’m not sure that’s such a problem, since the free pass is also a windfall for those whose trials have been too long delayed. But even if it is a problem, the court could fix it by inventing a new remedy that falls short of a dismissal of charges.

The court didn’t do that. But the majority opinion did point out that Betterman had only brought a claim under the speedy trial clause, not under the due process of clause of the 14th Amendment. That means another defendant could claim that post-conviction delay can count as a due process violation.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred separately to say she would welcome the chance to consider that related question -- and she recommended a legal framework for analysis. That due process framework comes from the same Supreme Court case that laid out the speedy trial analysis -- a further reminder that the court here was being highly formalistic.

There’s no guarantee how a due process case would come out. Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Samuel Alito, also concurred to say that he might not apply the same standard. It might be enough, he wrote, for states to allow defendants to ask some other court to order the sentencing to happen.

But that dispute will have to wait for another case -- and maybe for a court with an odd number of justices.

SOME GREAT LINES FROM JEWISH COMEDIANS

Thanks to Jerry Doyle for this reminder.

Those fabulous Jewish Comedians. A few of you may be old enough to remember the old Jewish Catskill comics of Vaudeville days: Shecky Greene, Red Buttons, Totie Fields, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles, and Jack Benny.

For most of them, there was not one single swear word in their comedy. Here are a few great ‘one liners’:

I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

I've been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she'll kill me!

What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she's making love? "Honey, I'm home!"

Someone stole all my credit cards but I won't be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night. Only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.

My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea.

She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.

The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back." Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"

Doctor: "You'll live to be 60!" Patient: "I am 60!" Doctor: "See! What did I tell you?"

Patient: "I have a ringing in my ears." Doctor: "Don't answer!"

A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk says "Okay, let's get started."

The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much. The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now .

Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers? A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!

A man called his mother in Florida, "Mom, how are you?" "Not too good," said the mother. "I've been very weak." The son said, "Why are you so weak?" She said, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days." The son said, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?" The mother answered, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."

A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks, "What part is it?" The boy says, "I play the part of the Jewish husband." The mother scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part."

Q: What's the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother? A: Eventually, the Rottweiler will let go.

Q: Why are Jewish men circumcised? A: Because Jewish women don't like anything that isn't at least 20% off.

THE MOST CORRUPT CITY IN CORRUPT FLORIDA

Opa-Locka has been nearly destroyed by poverty and corruption

By Francisco Alvarado

VICE News
May 18, 2016

Early last Wednesday evening, Timothy Holmes, a raspy-voiced city commissioner for Opa-Locka, Florida, was assuring about two dozen residents gathered in a village community center that their small municipal government was not under siege from all manner of bandits, crooks, and thieves.

"Don't believe everything that you read in the paper," Holmes said. "You got people out there who want to see Opa-Locka come down. Even in the city departments, we got people working against us to make Opa-Locka look bad. I am always here to do the right thing and the best thing for this community."

Earlier that day, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials raided a local flea market to gather evidence and arrest a bevy of suspects charged in a $13 million food-stamp scam. It was the second time in two months that law enforcement descended on a prominent Opa-Locka locale. Back in March, FBI agents raided city hall proper as part of a separate, ongoing criminal investigation, although no one has actually been arrested in that probe—at least not yet.

The food-stamp bust dealt another gut punch to a city already reeling from an onslaught of negative press involving allegations of unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats shaking down business owners and city contractors, illegally pillaging city coffers for personal gain, and driving the city to the precipice of insolvency. The cascade of woes suggest that for all the rage seething across America in recent decades about the evils of big government in Washington, all it takes is a few local grifters to unleash chaos on a community.

In fact, some ethics experts suspect Opa-Locka is one the most corrupt cities in Florida history. In a state where the current governor pleaded the Fifth 75 times about his alleged role in one of the biggest healthcare-fraud schemes ever, that's really saying something.

"It's a small, poor city that has never had good government," Robert Jarvis, a legal ethics professor at Nova Southeastern University, told me. "Opa-Locka was formed in the 1920s, a time when there was a lot of swindling and phony land deals going on in Florida. When you add on top of it poverty, crime, and real urban ills, the chances of having a clean government are basically nonexistent."

Think New Jack City meets Casablanca.

A 4.2-square-mile city located just north of Miami, Opa-Locka was founded in 1926 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss, who incorporated Middle Eastern designs into the city's early buildings and named streets after characters from Arabian Nights. In fact, the city boasts the largest collection of Moorish revival architecture in the Western hemisphere, including the original city hall on Ali Baba Avenue. Developers initially marketed Opa-Locka as an exclusively white, middle-class enclave, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel. But after desegregation, mirroring a nationwide trend, whites seemed to flee the place as African Americans moved in.

Today, Opa-Locka is a low-income, working-class community where about 65 percent of the 16,000 residents are black and roughly 45 percent earn an annual income below the poverty level.

The city's notoriety as a hotbed of corruption and intrigue be traced to a 1977 grand jury report decrying "a widespread pattern of blatant mismanagement of the city government and public funds entrusted to it, corruption and venal politics." The investigation led to the arrests and convictions of Opa-Locka's then-Mayor Candido Giardino and then-Commissioner Al Tresvant for bribery, conspiracy, and unauthorized compensation of official behavior. According to the report, Giardino and Candido received a $28,000 kickback in exchange for awarding the construction of the city's public works building to a politically connected company.

The grand jury also discovered a free-for-all inside the Opa-Locka Police Department, where three narcotics cops known as the "unholy trio" had "systematically engaged in illegal narcotics trafficking as a means of paying informants," including supplying "heroin to known addicts for the purpose of eliciting their cooperation," according to the report.

Cops formed cliques with city commissioners, who brazenly interfered with open investigations involving their cronies, the grand jury found. In addition, "new officers were deliberately trained and ordered to enforce the law against black citizens in a discriminatory fashion."

Nine years later, another public corruption probe nabbed Stephen Cuiffo, Opa-Locka's planning council chairman, accepting $4,000 in bribes from Joseph Lazar, the flea market's owner at the time. Cuiffo pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful compensation, though prosecutors dropped bribery charges against Lazar.

Back then, investigators also trained their sights on John Riley, then the mayor and accused—among other misdeeds—of pocketing a $5,000 bribe from Alberto San Pedro, a local businessman whom Miami media outlets dubbed the "Great Corrupter" after secret tape recordings of him name-dropping the politicians he allegedly paid off went public. San Pedro was convicted and sentenced to ten years on seven counts of drug trafficking and offering bribes, but Riley was never prosecuted. (He did lose his reelection bid, at least.)

South Florida cities like Opa-Locka end up enduring decades of unethical leadership due to a very transient and disengaged public, according to Jarvis. "You really don't have people watching what the politicians are doing," he said. "In the case of Opa-Locka, you have a very low-income demographic, and low-income people tend not to have good government or civic engagement at the top of their agendas."

Jarvis also added that scandals are genetically embedded in the local culture. "It's part of the DNA," he said. "Opa-Locka has problems endemic to all of south Florida."

Nearly forty years after the 1977 grand jury report, the faces at city hall have changed, but accusations of malfeasance remain. Consider Mayor Myra Taylor, the wife of a local pastor and mother of eight children who won her first seat on the Opa-Locka City Commission in 1996.

Eight years later, after she'd won the mayoralty, a federal grand jury indicted Taylor, her husband John Taylor, and her sister Elvira Smith for conspiracy to defraud the IRS, as well as making false statements to federal investigators. In 2005, the government dropped the conspiracy charges against the Taylors and Smith when they pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of filing a false income tax return. Taylor, who was removed from office by then-Governor Jeb Bush, served one year's probation along with her sibling, while her spouse got three-years probation. In 2008, though, she was reelected to the city commission, and two years after that got her old job back when she was reelected mayor.

The Taylors ran into trouble again in 2012 when Miami-Dade Police arrested the mayor's husband, sister, and son on fraud and fabricating evidence charges over an alleged scheme to cover up illegal contributions to her 2010 campaign. (The sister completed a pretrial intervention program, and the son got slapped with two years of probation.)

Now the local powerbroker is under federal scrutiny once more after she and her husband allegedly received a $150,000 kickback from a city contractor in exchange for supporting a sewer project, according to local media reports. At the commission meeting last Wednesday, an indignant Taylor accused journalists working for the Miami Herald and local television stations of spreading false rumors and innuendo.

"We have been vilified, fried, and dyed in the media," she told the assembly. "Even our own citizens are criticizing us and talking about us... that we are doing this and that, firing people, and stealing money with no real facts whatsoever."

When the meeting concluded, Taylor declined to speak with me about her past federal indictment and the current investigation. The mayor also did not return two subsequent phone messages seeking comment. But Opa-Locka residents in the audience that day were fed up with all the local drama.

"It's embarrassing to know that you have these elected officials that you voted for being investigated for corruption, racketeering charges, and kickback schemes," said Dwayne Manuel, 26-year-old law student who grew up in Opa-Locka but currently lives in neighboring Miami Gardens.

"When you take an elected position, you are not supposed to be in it to make money," he added. "Unfortunately, in their minds, this was a good way to make some extra cash. They should have resigned after the first FBI raid."

Natasha Ervin, a local caterer whose family moved to Opa-Locka in 1976, said she decided to buy her first home in the city 24 years later out of a profound sense of civic pride.

"It's sad to see [Opa-Locka] being torn down like this," she told me. "But I love my city. The only way to change things is for people to stand up."

Monday, May 23, 2016

THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL SHRINK UNDER PRESIDENT HILLARY CLINTON

A left-wing Supreme Court will reverse District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago to rule that the right to bear arms does not apply to individual citizens

Gun owners and gun-rights advocates celebrated the District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago in 2010, decisions in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects individual gun ownership.

In Heller, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

Justice Scalia has since passed away, leaving the Supreme Court evenly divided between liberal and conservative justices.

McDonald held that the right of an individual to "keep and bear arms" protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states.

Both Heller and McDonald were 5-4 decisions with the conservative justices voting for and the liberal justices voting against.

Celebrate yes, but for how long?

Let’s say that Hillary Clinton gets elected President, which is still likely to happen. If she wins by a substantial margin, not necessarily a landslide, she will drag a bunch of down-ballot Democrats with her. That would put the Democrats back in control of the Senate which has to confirm any Supreme Court nominees.

In addition to the now departed Justice Scalia, it is very probable that at least one more conservative justice will leave the Supreme Court. This means that Clinton will be able to replace two conservative justices with two left-wingers like Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan which will give the liberal justices a 6-3 majority.

With the liberals in control of the Supreme Court and the Democrats in control of the Senate, you can bet that Heller and McDonald will be revisited. When that happens, the Second Amendment will be shrunk.

By a 6-3 decision the Supreme Court will rule that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” applies only to people in the military and law enforcement, thus stripping away the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.

Now this does not mean that gun owners will have their firearms confiscated. But it does mean that the individual states, cities and counties will be able to enact the strictest of gun-control regulations, up to the confiscation of all privately held firearms.

Take California. The Democratic controlled state legislature has been on a gun-control rampage for some time now. It is not inconceivable that a Democratic legislature would go so far as to ban private gun ownership within the state of California. And San Francisco, that liberal bastion of perversion, would most likely ban gun ownership within the city. So would uber-liberal Berkeley.

Chicago would probably ban gun ownership and New York City would probably do the same.

On the other hand, Texas and the southern states will not ban private gun ownership and neither will the cities and counties within those states. Austin, the Berkeley of Texas, might be the lone exception.

Of course, those gun bans wherever they may be enacted will apply only to normal law abiding citizens, not to criminals, crackpots or Islamic terrorists. Criminals, crackpots and terrorists will hold onto their guns and continue running around shooting defenseless law abiding citizens to death.

Many police chiefs favor strict gun controls because they fear losing their jobs if they do not toe the political correctness line. However, most rank-and-file police officers do not favor punishing law abiding citizens for the deeds of criminals, crackpots and terrorists who are running around shooting cops and other people.

Those of us who are opposed to further gun controls better get down on our knees and pray every day between now and November that Hillary Clinton does not get elected President! Maybe the Good Lord will hear us and answer our prayers.

BLM ACTIVIST CHARGED WITH SEX TRAFFICKING

Charles Wade was charged April 25 with four counts of prostitution and three counts of human trafficking after a 17-year-old prostitute told police he was her “manager.”

By Ashley Jost

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 21, 2016

COLLEGE PARK, Maryland -- An out-of-town activist and member of the Black Lives Matter movement who was vocal during Ferguson protests was arrested and charged in Maryland with prostitution and human trafficking last month.

Charles Wade, a fashion stylist turned consultant, was charged April 25 with four counts of prostitution and three counts of human trafficking.

Wade, 33, is using social media to dispute the charges.

An undercover officer responded to an advertisement on a website often used for sex trafficking, and set up a meeting at a Howard Johnson Inn in College Park, Md., according to police. After he identified himself to a girl, 17, who met him, she told him Wade was her “manager,” according to the charging documents.

In a statement posted to Wade’s Twitter account, he says he was asked to temporarily house the girl, whom he believed to be 20. He redeemed his hotel reward points to get her a room. A few hours later, she was arrested.

“As the person who booked, paid for, checked in with government issued identification, I was also arrested as I was walking to store on about a half dozen charges related to her activities and arrest,” Wade said in his statement.

He posted his $25,000 bail two days after his arrest.

“This situation in no way should reflect on the movement or anyone else in the movement other than myself,” Wade said. “Ultimately, I had the final decision on moving forward with housing her and putting my name on the line. And ultimately, the embarrassment now caused and whatever consequences there may be are solely mine.”

Wade runs Operation Help or Hush, an organization created during the Ferguson protests focused on building an infrastructure of support for protests to continue, including raising money to feed and temporarily house protesters.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was obviously a bum bust designed by white cops to discredit Mr. Wade who was only helping out a 17-year-old BLM protester by temporarily housing her at a Howard Johnson Inn.

MEXICO APPROVES EXTRADITION OF ‘El CHAPO’ TO U.S.

The approval required a guarantee by the U.S. government that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán will not face the death penalty

By Joshua Partlow

The Washington Post
May 20, 2016

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico’s decision Friday to approve the extradition of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán helps clear the way for the infamous drug lord to face what has long been his worst nightmare: living behind bars in a U.S. prison.

The extradition of Guzmán, who has publicly claimed responsibility for delivering much of America’s cocaine and heroin and has fought bloody battles with rival traffickers, could still be months or even years away. His lawyers vowed Friday to appeal the ruling by the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

But the government’s decision marks a recognition that the political stakes have changed dramatically since Guzmán escaped for a second time from a Mexican federal prison last summer.

After his first recapture in 2014, Mexican authorities rejected U.S. pressure and vowed to force Guzmán to face justice on his home soil, making it a point of pride that they could hold him secure, extract intelligence from him and successfully convict him for his role leading the Sinaloa drug cartel. Those boasts collapsed last July when Guzman slipped away from a maximum-security prison west of Mexico City through a mile-long tunnel and went on the lam in the rugged mountains of his home state along Mexico’s Pacific coast.

This time, after Guzmán was recaptured in January, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has moved methodically toward extraditing him to the United States. The president’s approval ratings have already fallen from earlier in his term, fueling worries about enduring another humiliating escape.

Mexico’s new attorney general, Arely Gómez González, has also been far more willing to extradite prisoners than her predecessor, Jesús Murillo Karam, who predicted that Guzmán would die in a Mexican jail.

Foreign Ministry officials visited Guzmán on Friday in his cell in a federal prison in Ciudad Juárez, along the Texas border, where he was moved earlier this month, to inform him of their decision to proceed with his extradition. In a statement, the ministry said Guzmán would face a raft of charges from two U.S. federal jurisdictions — the Western District of Texas and the Southern District of California — including murder, money laundering, weapons possession, distribution of cocaine and other alleged crimes. It said Mexico received guarantees that the death penalty, which has been abolished here, would not be sought against Guzmán in the United States.

Guzmán also faces U.S. charges in Chicago, New York and Miami, among other jurisdictions.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico confirmed that the death penalty was off the table, “consistent with our extradition assurance policies with Mexico.” In Washington, a Justice Department official said it was not immediately clear where Guzmán, if extradited, would be tried.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said recently that Justice Department officials would “look at all of the relevant charges against him” and determine which jurisdiction could generate a case covering most, if not all, of the alleged criminal conduct.

For Mexico, extradition offers the benefit of dropping a political hot potato and avoiding the dilemma of securing a prisoner who has proven his ability to bribe a wide range of officials and whose allies are adept at building tunnels, flying private planes to mountain hideouts, operating a network of safe houses and constructing high-tech escape hatches.

“Why the change of opinion from the Mexican government?” asked Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former intelligence official. “Because he already escaped them. Nothing more than that; he escaped.”

Guzmán now has up to 30 days to appeal the Foreign Ministry’s decision, which his lawyers have told Mexican news outlets they plan to do. A judge then will determine how to proceed. Guzmán’s lawyers have at least two attempts at appeal, which could drag the process out for months, a Mexican official said. Now that the Foreign Ministry has acted, “it’s in the judiciary power’s court,” the official said.

One of Guzmán’s lawyers told a television station that any extradition would take “at least one to three years.”

The decision struck some Mexicans as an admission that they did not have a prison capable of holding such a powerful prisoner.

“There’s an absolute lack of confidence in the Mexican judicial system,” said Martin Barron Cruz, a criminologist at the National Institute of Penal Sciences, who has written about the drug war. “For the corruption, for the impunity. Sending him to the United States is a way of saying, ‘I’m stepping around this judicial problem, because I don’t have the sufficient capacity to handle it.’ ”

Guzmán, a Sinaloa native whose nickname means “Shorty,” was first arrested in 1993 in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico, where he was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on drug trafficking and other charges. But he was able to bribe prison workers and guards, living like a sultan behind bars and continuing to run his drug empire with his brother, who was still at large. His Sinaloa cartel became the most powerful in Mexico, smuggling tons of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs into the United States.

While imprisoned in Mexico, Guzmán was indicted in San Diego on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges. Apparently fearing extradition, he bribed guards to help him escape in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart that was rolled out of the prison.

He remained on the loose until February 2014, when he was found at a beachfront hotel in Mazatlan, thanks in part to tips from U.S. federal agents. But the Altiplano federal prison, about 50 miles west of Mexico City, proved unable to hold him. He managed to flee in July 2015 through an elaborate tunnel that associates dug from a house a mile from the prison under rolling fields to the floor of the shower stall in his cell.

Guzmán was tracked down to the coastal city of Los Mochis in northern Sinaloa state in January and arrested following a shootout and an attempt to flee via a secret tunnel that led to the city’s sewer system. He was caught when federal police intercepted him in a stolen vehicle.

After his capture, it was revealed that Guzmán, among the world’s most-wanted men, sat for an interview with actor Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, one of the many brazen moves that burnished his legend as a drug lord living far above the law.

HILLARY AND DONALD GO ICE FISHING

Always quick to best one another, Donald Trump claimed he was better at ice fishing than Crooked Hillary.

Hillary Clinton immediately tool up the challenge, chirping “Anything that jerk can do, I can do better.”

So, when the November election day was close at hand, the two presidential candidates agreed to a week-long ice fishing contest. Whoever caught the most fish at the end of the week would have something else to slam the other one with.

They agreed a remote frozen lake in northern Wisconsin would be the ideal place. No observers on the fishing grounds, but both candidates would need to have their catches verified and counted each evening at 5pm.

After Day 1, Trump returned with a total of 10 fish, Hillary came back with nothing.

Day 2 finished, and Trump caught another 15 fish, but Hillary once again came back with nothing.

That night, Hillary and her team decided that Trump had to be a “low-life, cheating son of a bitch.”

Instead of fishing on Day 3, Hillary and her close aide Huma Abedin were just going to follow Trump to spy on him and figure out how he was cheating.

Day 3 finished up and Trump had an incredible day, adding another 25 fish to his total.

That night, Hillary and Huma got the team got together for the report on how Donald was cheating. Huma said, “I’ve had experience with a cheating son of a bitch, but I’ll let Hillary tell you what we discovered.”

Hillary stood up and said, “You are not going to believe this, but that jerk is cutting holes in the ice.”

WANTED: A NEW LION TAMER

A circus owner runs an ad for a 'lion tamer wanted', and two people showed up.

One is a retired K-9 cop and the other is a gorgeous brunette with a drop-dead body in her mid-twenties.

The circus owner tells them, "I'm not going to sugar coat it. This is one ferocious lion. He ate my last tamer so you two had better be good or you're history. Here's your equipment -- a chair, a whip and a gun. Who wants to try out first?"

The gorgeous brunette says, "I'll go first." She walks past the chair, the whip and the gun and steps right into the cage. The lion starts to snarl and pant and begins to charge her. As he gets close, the gorgeous brunette throws open her coat revealing her beautiful, perfect naked body.

The lion stops dead in his tracks, sheepishly crawls up to her and starts licking her feet and ankles. He continues to lick and kiss every inch of her body for several minutes, then lays down and rests his head at her feet.

The circus owner's jaw is on the floor! He says, "That's amazing! I've never seen anything like that in my life!"

He then turns to the retired cop and asks, "Can you top that?"

The former K-9 cop replies, "Possibly . . . but you're gonna have to get that lion outta there first."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

TARANTULAS ON A PLANE

'It started tickling me': Passenger recounts horror at meeting tarantula on Air Transat flight; Quebec woman thought she was hallucinating as tarantula climbed up her leg

By Elysha Enos

CBC News
May 20, 2016

Catherine Moreau was watching a movie on her iPad on a flight to Montreal when she felt what she thought was a wire brushing against her.

"I brushed [it] away and it started tickling me again. That's when I noticed the tarantula," Moreau told CBC News.

"I hit it to get it off me before it bit."

Now Moreau is asking Air Transat for a partial refund over her encounter with the spider.

The tarantula that climbed her leg was one of two on a Montreal-bound Air Transat flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on April 18, the airline and the union representing its flight attendants have confirmed.

Passengers screamed and stood on their seats after learning they shared the cabin with the eight-legged critters.

Julie Roberts, vice-president of Air Transat's flight attendant union, said flight attendants "did what they could to calm people down."

"They gave first aid to the person who said that a spider climbed [her] legs," she said. Flight attendants also asked passengers to put on their shoes and cover their ankles.

Calls for a refund

Moreau wants the four flight tickets for her family partially reimbursed by Air Transat. The incident left her scratched and her 11-year-old daughter suffering from shock, she said.

According to Moreau, after she brushed the spider off her leg, it hid under her daughter's luggage. Her husband came and grabbed it and asked for a bag from the cabin crew to hold the spider.

"It took a long time from when we screamed to get a bag to put it in," Moreau said.

That delay was only the beginning of her grievances with Air Transat.

Her daughter has been suffering from nightmares. In addition, Moreau was promised a report from Air Transat so she could identify the spider in case the scratches led to health issues. She never got the report.

She said she sent the airline a registered letter about her complaint, which they signed for a week ago, but still hasn't heard back.

She also claims she was stopped from taking a photograph of the spider that would have helped her identify the species.

While the tarantula that crawled up her leg remained in custody, the other spider continued to roam the plane before being recovered by a federal agent once the plane landed at Montreal's Trudeau Airport

According to Moreau, after she brushed the spider off her leg, it hid under her daughter's luggage. Her husband came and grabbed it and asked for a bag from the cabin crew to hold the spider.

"It took a long time from when we screamed to get a bag to put it in," Moreau said.

That delay was only the beginning of her grievances with Air Transat.

Her daughter has been suffering from nightmares. In addition, Moreau was promised a report from Air Transat so she could identify the spider in case the scratches led to health issues. She never got the report.

She said she sent the airline a registered letter about her complaint, which they signed for a week ago, but still hasn't heard back.

She also claims she was stopped from taking a photograph of the spider that would have helped her identify the species.

While the tarantula that crawled up her leg remained in custody, the other spider continued to roam the plane before being recovered by a federal agent once the plane landed at Montreal's Trudeau Airport

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shades of the movie, Snakes on a Plane.

Holy Shit! "The market for live tarantulas is very lucrative," I didn’t know that. While I was on patrol near Riverside, I found a hill that was crawling with tarantulas. Every so often I would stop by there to spend a few minutes – OK, I was fucking off – to play with the fuzzy critters. I even took one to an Elks Lodge meeting and dropped it in the collection hat when I got fined. (What happened when the guy collecting the fines … well that’s another story in itself.) Had I known those tarantulas were lucrative, I would have made a pot full of money.

GROUP SUES HARRIS COUNTY OVER BAIL SYSTEM THAT KEEPS PEOPLE IN JAIL JUST BECAUSE THEY’RE POOR

By Meagann Flynn

Houston Press
May 20, 2016

On Wednesday, 22-year-old Maranda O'Donnell was driving to her mom's house to pick up her four-year-old daughter. Then she got pulled over, and she never made it there.

O'Donnell was hauled off to jail after being arrested for driving with an invalid license. She couldn't afford her bail amount set at $2,500, an amount set by a pre-determined bail schedule that did not consider O'Donnell's circumstances. O'Donnell had been living with a friend because she could not afford her own place. She obtained a job waiting tables about two weeks ago, but because she is sitting in jail, her attorneys say she fears that job won't be there for her when she gets out.

Yesterday, lawyers with the national organization Equal Justice Under Law filed a lawsuit on O'Donnell's behalf against Harris County, Sheriff Ron Hickman, and five bail-hearing magistrates. The lawsuit alleges that Harris County's use of a strict bail schedule is unconstitutional, given that magistrates rarely ever stray from it and therefore almost always fail to consider someone's ability to pay, as is required by law. The lawyers also asked a judge to immediately release O'Donnell and give her a proper bail hearing, one in which a judge actually considers her circumstances and whether she can afford the amount on the chart. They are asking the same for more than 500 people who they say are in the same position.

"Harris county has really perfected and, in a lot of ways, epitomized the efficient processing of human beings in and out of cages," Equal Justice Under Law attorney Elizabeth Rossi told the Houston Press. "Shining a light on a place like Harris County really highlights the pervasiveness of money bail and the thoughtlessness with which criminal injustice systems throughout this country keep people in jail cells just because they're poor."

In Harris County, 77 percent of the jail population are people who have yet to be convicted of crimes, who are in jail because they cannot afford to get out. A recent study by Gerald Wheeler, retired director of Harris County Pretrial Services and a doctoral researcher, found that 81 percent of people charged with misdemeanors will spend time in jail, and of those, a quarter of them can't afford bail costing $500 or less. Only 7 percent were released on a personal bond.

Rossi said that she and other attorneys sat in on bail hearings about 20 different times. She says those hearings only lasted about one minute, and that the magistrate never even gave defendants a chance to speak. Curiously, the attorneys note in the lawsuit that one magistrate even told someone that a bail hearing was "not the forum" for discussing his ability to pay bail. When another asked, "Can I say something?" the magistrate responded: “You can talk to me all you want, but it’s not going to change the outcome. I’m setting it according to the schedule."

Rossi said that, after watching enough of them, it was the "banality" of these hearings that struck her.

"Everybody who’s involved in that process, from the judge to the deputies, just looked at it as another routine doldrum chore they have to do," she said, "and no one is thinking about the individual standing in that red square, maybe in an orange jumpsuit who’s about to be told whether he’ll be released to his family or not based on whether he can pay an arbitrary dollar figure."

This is not the first time that Harris County has come under fire for practices that contribute to the county jail's longstanding overcrowding problem. Most recently, the Department of Justice concluded in a yearlong investigation in 2009 that jail conditions were bad enough to violate inmates' constitutional rights. It was a conclusion that echoed a federal lawsuit the county lost decades ago in 1972, when inmates claimed that the jail was so overcrowded that it led to inhumane conditions and treatment. After the county lost, Wheeler founded Harris County Pretrial Services, a department that would seek to provide pretrial supervision to people released on personal bonds, as opposed to keeping most of them in jail before their court date.

But it was a vision that simply never fully materialized. Judges instead were reluctant to the idea of letting defendants go home to their families before their court date, even if they were only accused of petty or non-violent crimes. Perhaps that's because of a bail bond industry that mounted a highly successful tough-on-crime campaign throughout the 1990s urging judges not to grant anyone that trust. As a result, Harris County developed a reputation for its unparalleled stinginess when it comes to issuing personal bonds that has persisted over the years.

In recent months, however, criminal justice officials have began signaling their openness to change. Administrative Judge Susan Brown said that judges have been uncomfortable with issuing personal bonds in the past because they don't trust the current risk assessment test, a point system that Harris County Pretrial Services uses to determine whether you should be released without having to pay a bondsman hundreds or thousands of dollars. So, she said, they're developing a new one. They've also hired seven more pretrial supervision officers, apparently to prepare to give more people personal bonds. In addition, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson told the Press last week that the judges have also finally approved a pilot program for providing all people defense attorneys at their bail hearings, so they have someone to argue before the magistrate why they deserve a more affordable bail. (A spokesperson for Anderson and also Sheriff Ron Hickman did not return a request for comment.)

That's something that may have mattered to Patrick Brown, a man accused of stealing a guitar, the most recent person to die in the Harris County Jail. A source with knowledge of the case told the Press that Harris County Pretrial Services had recommended Brown for a personal bond. Yet even though he had no violent criminal history, a judge for some reason still denied it, and Brown couldn't afford his $3,000 bail. Two men, one who had just posted bail and was on his way out of lockup, have been charged with beating Brown to death inside a holding cell later that night.

Since the start of 2015, Equal Justice Under Law has filed 17 lawsuits across the country, including this one, seeking to end the cash bail system. Where it has won, local jurisdictions—mostly mid-size cities such as Montgomery, Alabama, or Velda, Missouri—have been forced to upend their bail systems and entirely ditch their existing bail schedules, which were found to be unconstitutional.

The group has won eight cases so far, and hasn't yet lost a single one.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe that misdemeanants who are too poor to make bail should be released from jail on their promise to appear in court provided they are not likely to commit any more offenses.

I’ve also been critical of standard fines for traffic offenses. Let’s say a single mother of three who has a minimum wage job gets busted for going 15 miles over the speed limit and a man driving a Lamborghini gets busted for the same thing. Let’s say the standard fine is $150. That’s pocket change for the Lamborghini driver but devastating to that mother of three. I strongly feel that a judge should suspend all but a few dollars – say maybe $20 – of that mother’s fine. Unfortunately most judges say, “$150, next case.”

And forget community service. How’s a working mother of three going to find time for that?

Speaking of Lamborghinis, one passed me up the other night doing at least 70 on a freeway access road. I spotted it pulling into a golf driving range.

HOUSTON JURY CONVICTS ROAD-RAGING COP WHO SHOT WOMAN IN THE HEAD

When he applied to become a cop, a psychologist concluded that Kenneth Caplan would “approach problems in a cool and dispassionate manner" and put facts over emotion, and that he was mentally fit for duty

By Meagan Flynn

Houston Press
May 20, 2016

Yesterday, a jury found a former Harris County Precinct 6 constable who decided to shoot a woman in the head during an extreme road rage episode guilty of aggravated assault. That former cop, Kenneth Caplan, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Back in 2014, Caplan was off duty and driving with his wife when a 24-year-old woman named Lori Annab cut him off, as he claims. So, in response, Caplan pulled up next to her, asked his wife to lean back in her seat, then pointed his gun at Annab and shot her. Though struck in the head, Annab managed to pull over and call 911, and ultimately survived the near-fatal injury.

At the time, Caplan was on leave from Precinct 6 for another road-rage incident.

In an interview with the Houston Press in January, Caplan told us that shooting the woman was not intentional, but if it were, it still would have been justified because Annab was driving “aggressively.” He said that, actually, Annab was not the victim, but was trying to wipe out him and his wife by slamming on her breaks in front of them intentionally, and should be the one prosecuted for aggravated assault instead.

Explaining why he is innocent, he said: “What I did was more than legal. I had every right…I don't bullshit anybody; I'm not the kind of person to lie. And I'm going to tell you this: If I really tried to kill this woman in cold blood, I wouldn't be saying anything to anybody. My mouth would have been shut from the very beginning, I would've said 'lawyer,' and that would have been the end of it. I tried to explain to the detectives…they would not believe it…I'm a fellow fucking police officer. What the hell is wrong with these people?”

Annab has also sued in civil court—and not only are Caplan and Harris County named, but so is the psychologist who signed off on letting Caplan become a cop, who pled guilty to tampering with government records just last week. Specifically, tampering with mental health evaluations of peace officers.

Even though Caplan told us that he suffered from PTSD and had childhood-onset of bipolar disorder after growing up in an abusive family, when Dr. Carole Busick examined him in May 2012, her conclusion was that he would “approach problems in a cool and dispassionate manner" and put facts over emotion, and that he was mentally fit for duty. As Annab's lawsuit claims, Busick should have noticed red flags about Caplan even before she “purportedly” examined him: Not only was he fired from 12 of the 21 jobs he held in five years, but was also kicked out of a law enforcement academy for acting hostile toward teammates, ignoring safety standards during traffic stops, jumping chain of command multiple times, and lying.

Caplan, who was on psychiatric medication for a mood disorder when Busick evaluated him, told us he lied during that evaluation too, saying, "I am more than smart enough to fool any test.”

Busick and her husband, Don Busick, also a psychologist, both came under fire last year for failing to properly evaluate and screen thousands of peace officers. They had apparently been skipping face-to-face evaluations with the peace officer candidates, as required by law. Last week, each pled to ten years of deferred adjudication and will each pay over $8,700 to four police agencies that have had to retest dozens of officers. They will also retire and give up their licenses.

Despite the fact that the Busicks' questionable evaluations have been public for months, a recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that only a fraction of officers have been re-screened.

According to the Chron, the investigation was prompted by a tip from a peace officer who had once been evaluated by the Busicks, who wrote in a complaint:

"I'm not sure this was a real 'evaluation.' I wondered if my experience means there are some … deputies out there carrying weapons who had similar 'evaluations' as mine? If so, could there be some crazy deputies in Houston carrying weapons?"

Sounds like his gut feeling was right.

EDIYOT’S NOTE: What a jerk! Caplan claims the victim victimized him. That’s called chutzpah.

ATTORNEY SAYS HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT’S ‘CODE OF SILENCE’ LED TO RETALIATION AGAINST HARASSED OFFICER

By Meagan Flynn

Houston Press
May 18, 2016

Eight years after 24 Houston police officers first sued HPD and the city for discrimination and retaliation, the case has finally come to a close—ending at the foot of the U.S. Supreme Court door with one of the original plaintiff's sons.

At a press conference Tuesday, Sgt. Chris Zamora's attorneys said that the verdict in Chris's case sheds light on the “code of silence” that exists within the HPD. It's a culture that punishes officers for speaking up about officers' wrongdoing, said Chris's attorney, Kim Ogg, who is also running for Harris County district attorney. And it's exactly what happened to Chris Zamora eight years ago, she says.

Months after Chris's father, Manuel Zamora, and 23 others filed their retaliation class-action suit in 2007, alleging that they were denied promotions based on their race, Manuel says that Chris immediately felt the backlash. Manuel said Chris began facing daily harassment from his supervisors—one of whom was named in the lawsuit—and he was even removed from the department's Crime Reduction Unit and placed on night-shift patrol. It prompted Chris (who could not comment because he is still working the night shift for HPD) to join his father's lawsuit in September 2008—which soon amounted to a ten-day suspension, according to court documents.

That's because, even though the Internal Affairs Division investigated Chris's harassment claims, it ended up concluding that Chris had lied to them during questioning, an event that became central to Chris's case. As the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ultimately ruled in Chris's favor, noted in its August 2015 filing, “That [suspension] determination was largely based on statements made by Zamora's CRU supervisors that harshly attacked his credibility and baldly contradicted his factual assertions.”

Manuel said that, to ultimately prove his case in court, Chris presented recorded threats that supervisors made to him at the time he was removed from the Crime Reduction Unit. Manuel said they told Chris that, if he left quietly and said it was his own decision, they would not “stab him in the back" or say they forced him out because of bad performance. Instead, Manuel claims, that's exactly what they did.

Since then, two federal juries and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals have agreed that Chris's supervisors retaliated against him, dating back to December 2012. But due to the city's appeals, it's only now, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the city's last challenge, that it will be forced to pay damages to Zamora, which have yet to be fully determined. In a statement, City Attorney Ron Lewis said that, "the 5th Circuit’s opinion likely will make it much more challenging for employers—both public and private—to insulate themselves against liability" when their employees are "biased" or "untruthful" (or discriminate or retaliate against officers). In other words, the Fifth Circuit ruling means police departments can't be let off the hook when their employees break the law and ruin careers of others.

Ogg and her co-counsel, attorney Randall Kallinen, said that the city's decision to appeal this case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court proves just how far it will go to shield itself from liability, in turn perpetuating the "code of silence" that led to retaliation against Chris.

"A government willing to violate its officers' own civil rights is likely to violate the rights of its own citizens, and we have to stand against that," Ogg said.

Manuel is still worried about the effects that this entire case will have on his son's future chances of promotion. In the past eight years, he has since been bumped up to the sergeant rank, but is still working the night shift, and Manuel fears that this case has something to do with it. In fact, during Chris's trial, a former police chief he called as an expert testified that being accused of lying is "a bell that can't be un-rung," and that the actions his supervisors took against him may still affect his future. He, too, testified that HPD appeared to operate under this code of silence—something Manuel said he experienced first hand.

“It's a culture of its own. There are very tight groups that will label another officer and ostracize that officer and create a harmful environment for him,” Manuel said. “They don't support them when they ask for help. They exclude them from all social activities. It's the same culture you've probably seen in docudramas or movies or even read about in textbooks, and that is that they ostracize an officer who speaks out.”

Manuel was with the Houston Police Department for 31 years before he received an honorable discharge and retired, around the time he withdrew from the lawsuit. He said he felt like it was time. And besides, he said he figured it would be the best thing to do for Chris.

“I was told that, if I left, they'd leave my son alone,” he says.

And if you believe two federal juries and a federal appeals court, then clearly that is not what happened.