Sunday, March 26, 2017

GOVERNOR BROWN WORKING HARD TO MAKE CALIFORNIA NICER ... FOR CRIMINALS

by Bob Walsh

The formerly great state of California is working very hard indeed at marking California a more inviting place for criminals. A new proposal will grant additional "good time" credit to most prisoners for doing just about everything except sucking air, and I am not sure that isn't included.

These new proposal allow prisoners to seek parole after they have served their base term, regardless of sentence enhancements which often equal or exceed the base term. For instance, you can do time for armed robbery and then have a LOT of years tacked on for possession of a firearm and for being armed in the furtherance of a criminal street gang. This proposal would essentially ignore the sentencing enhancements (assuming the parole board goes along, which they might or might not).

Criminals will also get an additional three months off their sentence for completing a college degree, in addition to the three months already granted. They can also get up to one month per year for participating in various self-help programs.

The idea is to keep the prison population below the 137.5% of design capacity that various court orders demand.

WHITE GIRL, 17, ABDUCTED BY BLACKS IN SOUTH CAROLINA, GANG-RAPED, SHOT TO DEATH AND FED TO ALLIGATORS

Attorney: FBI, authorities conducting search in Georgetown County connected to Brittanee Drexel case

By Gregory Yee

The Post and Courier
March 25, 2017

Brittanee Drexel's family is once again waiting for news from a search near Georgetown connected to the teen's 2009 disappearance.

Brad Conway, an attorney who represents Drexel's mother, Dawn, confirmed that the new search was related to the case but said that no other information was available Friday.

The FBI contacted Dawn Drexel Friday morning to inform her of the search, Conway said.

"She's encouraged but also it's heart-wrenching," he said.

Drexel, a 17-year-old from New York, traveled to Myrtle Beach for spring break and was last seen on a hotel security camera on April 25, 2009.

Don Wood, a supervisory agent with the Bureau's Columbia office, confirmed that "investigatory activity" took place in the area of Foxfire Court, which is located outside of Georgetown city limits.

The activity was centered on a small wooded area and an open area, Wood said, but did not comment on whether the case was connected to Drexel's disappearance.

Authorities have pursued leads back and forth from Myrtle Beach to McClellanville for years without luck before catching a break in August 2016. A prison inmate came forward with information that authorities used to piece together what they believe happened to Drexel after her disappearance.

She was abducted, gang-raped, shot to death and thrown into an alligator-infested swamp in a densely-forested area near McClellanville, according to the FBI.

The inmate, Taquan Brown of Walterboro, told investigators that he went to a "stash house" near McClellanville days after Drexel went missing and that he witnessed Timothy Da'shaun Taylor, then 16, "sexually abusing" the teen, according to a court transcript of a statement by FBI agent Gerrick Munoz.

Taylor saw others in the room with the girl and Da’Shaun Taylor, and he kept walking through the house to the backyard to give some money to Da’Shaun Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor, according to the transcript. While they talked, Drexel ran from the house, was caught, “pistol-whipped” and taken back inside.

Two shots rang out and the inmate assumed Shaun Taylor shot the girl, according to the transcript. Then the girl’s body was wrapped up and taken away.

Asked what happened to the girl’s body, the FBI agent testified that it has not been found but that “several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators.”

Information on why authorities believe the scene in Georgetown is connected to the case was not available on Friday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Where is a white ‘Al Sharpton’ expressing his outrage over this awful crime? At least this case is for real, not the 1987 Tawana Brawley rape hoax that made Sharpton a headliner.

KILL THOSE DAMN JEWS, AMEN!

Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint

By Brennan Neill and Stephen Smith

CBC News
March 24, 2017

A Montreal mosque is facing a police complaint and rebukes from the larger Muslim community after a video of an imam delivering a sermon in which he asks for Jews to be killed surfaced online.

The sermon took place at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in the city's Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Dec. 23, 2016.

The video was posted to the mosque's YouTube channel three days later. The imam in the video is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr — he was reportedly an invited guest of the mosque.

In the video, the imam recites in Arabic the verse: "O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

The controversial verse comes from a religious text known as a hadith, which interprets the words and actions by the Prophet Muhammad.

The hadith in question deals with end times and tells how stones and trees will ask Muslims to come and kill Jews hiding behind them.

CBC Montreal has reached out to the Dar Al-Arqam mosque for comment and was told no one was available.

Accused of inciting violence

The video was brought to the attention of B'nai Brith Canada, which filed a complaint with Montreal police on Monday.

The organization said it is totally unacceptable that a mosque would allow this to go on.

"This is inciting violence, and this is inciting radicalization," said Harvey Levine, regional director of B'nai Brith in Quebec.

"It's against the law and has to be stopped," he said, adding that the complaint was filed with the Montreal hate crimes unit.

Montreal police confirmed they received a complaint, but would not provide any more information.

Mosque should apologize, says Muslim council

The president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, wants to know why the imam was invited. He says the mosque should apologize.

He added that the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque is not one of the more than 40 institutions the council represents.

Imam Ziad Asali of the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Thursday that he was also mystified as to why the cleric was invited to preach.

"I do not understand how this person was invited to come and give a sermon and spread this hatred in Montreal against any community," he said.

The hadith is one of more than 100,000 that are written in many books, some of which are considered authentic, while others are not, said Asali.

"To use the themes of the Prophet to spread hatred is actually something that is disrespectful towards the Prophet himself," Asali said.

There are mosques in Montreal, the imam said, that embrace a more extremist message.

"These people, not only do they show hatred towards non-Muslims, they even show hatred to us Muslims," he said.

Other complaints

Levine said this is the second complaint against a Montreal-area mosque filed with the Montreal police's hate crime unit in just over 40 days.

He said the police are still investigating that first instance but says they are not taking action soon enough.

"This is totally unacceptable. We want to know why the hate crimes unit has not done something to date yet. This person should be arrested and charged for hate crimes," said Levine.

CIJA Quebec, an organization that advocates for the Jewish community, said it has a close relationship with the Montreal police and has been following the two complaints.

"We know the Montreal police are seriously and diligently investigating these sermons," said David Ouellette, deputy director for CIJA Quebec.

He added the group believes the police are close to completing their investigation of the first complaint.

ICE HOCKEY: LOSS OF FINGER JUST PART OF THE GAME

Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher: Marc Methot's finger is 'destroyed'; no punishment for Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby

ESPN
March 24, 2017

The Ottawa Senators got a big win but lost a player in the process.

Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan scored in a shootout as the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Thursday night. They appear to have lost defenseman Marc Methot for perhaps an extended period of time, though, after he took a slash from Sidney Crosby in the first period.

Ottawa played the final 45 minutes without Methot, who left the game with a bloodied and mangled finger on his left hand following a two-handed slash from Crosby, who didn't receive a penalty on the play.

Methot grabbed Crosby by the jersey after the whistle and had a few words for the Penguins captain before leaving the ice.

"His finger is destroyed. It's shattered and he's out for weeks," Senators coach Guy Boucher said.

Crosby will not face discipline for the play, as NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN the league is not looking into the incident.

While not referencing Crosby by name, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk went off about the incident on Friday and called for a suspension.

"We all know who he is. The guy is just beyond belief," Melnyk told TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa. "You do this kind of stuff, I don't care who you are in the league, I don't care if you're the No. 1 player in the league, you need to sit out a long time for this kind of crap."

Senators captain Erik Karlsson said it was an unfortunate play but one that happens all the time. This one just went bad.

"[Crosby] puts his stick in as [Methot] is trying to shoot the puck in, and unfortunately, it hits his finger," Karlsson said. "It turns out worse than most other times. Plays like that happen all the time, but I don't think it was intentional or dirty."

Crosby echoed those sentiments, saying he wasn't looking to injure Methot.

"I was just trying to get his stick, and I think I caught his finger, judging by his reaction and their reaction," Crosby said. "I've gotten those before. They don't feel good."

EDITOR’S NOTE: For the uninitiated, Sidney Crosby is considered one of the greatest hockey players ever. He is not a dirty player.

MILITARY AIDES TRY TO CHEER UP KIM JONG-UN AFTER FAILED MISSILE LAUNCH BY PUTTING ON SURPRISE EXECUTION

The Onion
March 23, 2017

PYONGYANG—Following the country’s failed test launch of a new long-range missile, North Korean military aides reportedly tried to cheer up Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un Thursday by putting on a surprise execution.

“He was pretty upset by how things went yesterday, so we figured surprising him with the summary execution of a government official would be a great way to boost his spirits,” said Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong-so, adding that aides had worked overnight to find a disloyal judge or Korean Workers’ Party official and arrange the execution in secret. “You should have seen the look on his face when he opened the door to what he thought was an ordinary cabinet meeting and found a former vice chairman of the Central Committee tied to a chair, with a revolver nearby. He was smiling in no time and shot the enemy of the people in the face.”

At press time, reports confirmed that Pyong-so and a dozen other officials who had helped organize the surprise execution had been hanged for deceiving the Supreme Leader.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

WAR HERO WHO LOST BOTH LEGS TO IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE BECOMES COP

Double amputee who served as a Marine in Afghanistan to become New York cop

By Chris Perez

New York Post
March 23, 2017

A Marine war veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan will fulfill a lifelong dream Friday when he graduates from the Suffolk County Police Academy — and becomes one of the nation’s first double amputees to serve as a fully active cop.

“I’m just really eager and excited to prove myself to my colleagues in my new job, my new career, that I’m capable of doing the job just as well as somebody with both legs,” Matias Ferreira told Newsday. “I don’t think the prosthetics hinder me in any way.”

The 28-year-old married father of one is set to become a police officer on Friday following a 29-week training program that included sit-ups, push-ups and a mile-and-a-half run — all of which he completed, no problem.

“A lot of guys are like, ‘What happens if one of your legs break?’ I’m sorry to say, but if I break my leg, I go in the trunk, I put on a new one,” Ferreira said. “If you break your leg, you’re out for a couple months, my friend.”

The Marine machine-gunner managed to run the department’s required mile-and-a-half in about 11 minutes — which is a minute and 29 seconds less than the demands for his age category.

“This is someone who served our nation, paid a significant sacrifice, and is now able to overcome adversity in a tremendous way,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini told Newsday. “He’s done a terrific job as a recruit in the academy, both physically, academically and in his leadership to the other recruits, and he’s going to make a fine officer.”

In 2011, Ferreira was forced to have both of his legs amputated below the knee after he accidentally stepped on a 30-pound improvised explosive device. He will be one of the only cops in the country to have ever had the procedure done, according to Newsday.

There was at least one officer in the Arizona State Police who was a double amputee, the newspaper reports.

During Ferreira’s training, officials said he practiced taking down aggressive suspects wearing a protective suit. He only fell once — and was able to hop right back up immediately.

“If you have somebody coming at you and attacking you, we didn’t know how that was going to end up, we didn’t know if he would fall and not be able to get back up, so

‘For us it was an important moment,” said Lt. Steven Rohde, commanding officer of the academy’s recruit training section.

“Kind of an exclamation point on, ‘This guy’s the real deal. I wouldn’t want to fight him!’”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Matias Ferreira is a true hero in every sense of the word, and not some overblown sports star like O.J. Simpson or Brucella Jenner.

MORE ON THE DAMN DAM

by Bob Walsh

The Oroville dam and the area immediately downstream is going to be the focus of some intense concentration and work over the next few months. It is now pretty obvious that the entire gate-controlled spillway is going to have to be replaced BEFORE November 1 or the reservoir will be at serious risk. That doesn't count the work on the downstream side of the emergency spillway.

The Oroville damn is a very large earth fill dam, at 900 feet it is the largest in the country. The power house even running at max is capable of running less than 20,000 CFS out of it. That isn't nearly enough to do the job once the snow starts melting and the lake starts rising quickly.

Under normal circumstances in the formerly great state of California you couldn't even get permits in that period of time. Or twice that period of time. Or thrice even. Then need to get a plan, get contracts and permissions and waivers and actually DO the work in less than eight months.

One thing I know for sure. If I lived in Oroville or anywhere else close to that dam I would make real sure my flood insurance was paid up.

TIME FOR TRUMP TO UNDO OBAMA’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE ISRAEL-HATING U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Is it time for the US to resign from the Human Rights Council?

By Yossi Aloni

Isrel Today
March 22, 2017

Israel is working to persuade the Trump government to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Oren has begun a campaign to persuade the US to quit the council he calls an "anti-Semitic body."

Oren spoke yesterday with Deputy Secretary of State Erin Berkley, who earlier this month addressed the council in Geneva and called on them to stop their obsession with Israel. The United States is one of 47 council members and their three-year membership is due to end in 2019. "The US government headed by Donald Trump is examining his participation in the UN human rights body in order to promote a reform that will lead to a more balanced agenda that will end the organization's obsession with Israel. In order for the Council to have any credibility, and especially in order to succeed in its role, it must abandon its unbalanced and ineffective positions. When we look at our continued conduct, my administration will consider the Council's actions with a view to reform - in order to achieve the Council's goals of protecting and promoting human rights, "Berkeley said.

Berkeley added: "The United States continues to be very concerned about its consistent, unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic state, Israel. At present, North Korea and Iran are denying millions of people the right to freedom of religion, belief, assembly, freedom of association and freedom of expression. "The obsession with Israel is the greatest threat to the credibility of the Council. It limits the good we can achieve by making this council a mockery. The United States will oppose any effort to delegitimize or isolate Israel. Not only in the Human Rights Council, but everywhere it happens. When it comes to human rights, no country should be free from criticism, but there should not be a situation in which a democratic state is always judged unfairly, unbalanced or based on unfounded prejudices."

"I very much hope that some of the changes in foreign policy and policy toward Israel in particular will be one of the changes that the US will stop legitimizing for a body that is not only anti-Israel but also anti-Semitic," said Oren. Berkeley replied to Oren that the administration was considering exiting the body. Oren said, "I certainly enjoyed a sympathetic ear."

In addition, Oren held a number of discussions on the subject with members of Congress. US Secretary of State Tillerson also published an article on the subject in which he said that the US demands reforms from the Council otherwise the US will leave.

The Bush administration withdrew its ambassador from the council in 2006 partly because of the anti-Israel nature of the council. Obama returned the ambassador and refused Israeli demands to withdraw him on the grounds that the American presence on the council could change the council from within.

Michael Oren believes that it is precisely the American presence that legitimizes a body that is fundamentally anti-Israeli. "The Americans did not succeed during the Obama administration in bringing about any change for us in the council, and our situation has only deteriorated," he added.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An even better idea is for the U.S. to get entirely out of the U.N. And whatever happened to Trump’s pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

EXPERT CLAIMS PEOPLE ARE STUCK IN JAIL BECAUSE THEY ARE MOTIVATED TO REMAIN INCARCERATED

In Closing Argument, Harris County Says Almost No Poor People Are Stuck in Jail

By Meagan Flynn

Houston Press
March 24, 2017

In a case that could have sweeping effects on the American money bail system, Harris County lawyers squared off against civil rights attorneys during closing arguments Thursday to defend the county from the plaintiffs’ claims that its bail system is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal will decide in the coming weeks whether to grant the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction — an order which could possibly force Harris County to overhaul the bail system in a way that ensures no poor person would ever be kept in jail before trial solely because they can’t pay for their release.

Yet, remarkably, the county continued to argue this happens so rarely in Harris County that on any given day there are likely only one to three people in jail just because they are indigent. And therefore Judge Rosenthal has no reason to grant the injunction. The plaintiffs — Civil Rights Corps, Texas Indigent Defense Project and Houston law firm Susman Godfrey, representing all indigent misdemeanor defendants — found this argument most unreasonable.

And it’s with this argument, throughout the entire lawsuit, that the county appeared to most pointedly fall off the wagon, providing questionable explanations as to why else the other 350 or so people sitting in jail on misdemeanor charges couldn't get out before trial. At least seven percent of those people have additional holds preventing their release, attorneys said, such as from immigration authorities or warrants in other counties. But as for the other 93 percent, too often, the county seemed to fill in the blanks with thinly supported assumptions about why they remained behind bars. Assumptions that included some people "want to be in jail," and some people, "as tough as it is to say, have criminal proclivities," said attorney James Munisteri, just after claiming as few as one to three people were in jail because they couldn't pay. What he was suggesting was unclear.

To arrive at the conclusion that it is so rare for a poor person to get stuck in jail, Harris County relied in part on an interpretation of its data by Dr. Robert Morris, whose rather ironic definition of what it means to be indigent excludes anyone who had a job (including at Burger King), anyone with prior arrests (not convictions), and anyone who scored more than three points on his or her risk assessment — for factors like not owning a car, not living in a structured household, being a male, and not owning a landline phone (i.e., being a poor male). (It should also be noted that Dr. Morris has been paid thousands of dollars by the American Bail Coalition in the past to testify about his research to the New Jersey Legislature, and was liked so much by ABC that it had a webpage about Dr. Morris stating he has found that multiple detainers or "defendant choice" to be "motivations for continuing to remain incarcerated pending trial." Morris asked them to take it down once the plaintiffs presented it to Judge Rosenthal.)

It was questionable data interpretation like this that seemed too often to detract from the county’s otherwise reasonable arguments — that the bail system, though imperfect, is nevertheless legal and constitutional in all 50 states. That bail is not necessarily required to be “affordable.” That the reforms the county plans to make to its bail system will resolve many (but not all) of the plaintiffs’ complaints. These reforms, which have been widely applauded, include giving people defense attorneys at bail hearings to advocate for personal bonds, and using an innovative, objective tool to determine the flight risk someone poses or the risk that they will commit another offense if released.

But the plaintiffs say the changes do not resolve their underlying constitutional concerns.

Here’s why: The plaintiffs aren't arguing it's unconstitutional to impose money bail on petty misdemeanor defendants; the problem, plaintiffs argue, is how bail is imposed in Harris County. And that’s something that, without comprehensive, court-ordered relief, the plaintiffs don’t believe will change.

In Harris County, they argue, bail hearing officers do not consider a person’s ability to pay bail, as required by the Constitution. So for example: When those hearing officers set a $5,000 bail for a person charged with trespassing for sleeping under a bridge (a real example), the plaintiffs argue the high bail amount serves as a de facto detention order for the homeless man since it's obvious he cannot afford it. Detention orders for misdemeanors other than domestic violence are illegal in Texas. Given a rich person popped with a DWI probably could’ve easily paid that bail amount, plaintiffs argue it is an equal protection violation.

“If the government is going to deprive people of such an important right — their pretrial liberty — then we believe the government bears some burden to find other alternatives to detention,” Civil Rights Corps lead attorney Alec Karakatsanis told Judge Rosenthal.

If Rosenthal were to order the bail system be overhauled, it is unclear what it would look like. The plaintiffs are not asking for the abolition of money bail in misdemeanor court. They are not even asking Judge Rosenthal to "legislate" how the system will operate in Harris County. They are merely asking Rosenthal to order that Harris County fashion its own system that will have the protections built in for poor people that they say are lacking now.

This could mean Harris County changes the bail schedule so that people charged with misdemeanors are released on varying levels of pretrial conditions—like GPS monitors, curfews or drug tests—instead of varying amounts of money. It could mean Harris County uses unsecured financial bonds instead, meaning a person is released without having to pay anything at the onset — but is on the line for the bail amount if they fail to show up to court, which is the whole incentive of money bail to begin with. Or it could mean Harris County has to implement new procedures to ensure that judges and hearing officers do everything in their power to consider a person's financial circumstances.

There's no telling when Judge Rosenthal will release her decision — but if she does grant the injunction, it's possible that the order will impact the bail system across the country for years to come.

And if she doesn't grant it, then the plaintiffs are prepared to take the county to trial.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Almost no poor people are stuck in the Harris County jail? Yeah, and pigs can fly! That reminds me that the only difference between a lawyer and a liar is the spelling.

TEXAS LIQUOR REGULATORS PARTYING ON TAXPAYERS’ TAB

Texas alcohol regulators know how to party: records show they've spent tens of thousands of dollars to travel to swanky resorts where liquor flows and industry lobbyists abound

By Jay Root

The Texas Tribune
March 24, 2017

No agency can kill a buzz quicker than the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, but behind the scenes state liquor regulators have shown they know how to party — all on the tab of taxpayers and members of an industry they oversee.

Consider the boozy junket the top TABC brass took to San Diego in the summer of 2015 — depicted in a humorous illustration officials created during work hours at the agency. It portrays agency director Sherry Cook, licensing chief Amy Harrison, a TABC analyst and an agency contractor riding in a plane while holding or guzzling from bottles of Lone Star Beer.

"Here we come California!" reads the caption above the doctored picture. "Woo Hoo!!!"

Cook couldn’t say precisely how or if the illustration was used internally, but in an interview with The Texas Tribune she acknowledged that using government computers to create a cartoonish picture showing state alcohol regulators downing beer may not have been done “in the most appropriate manner.”

The illustration, included in a slew of documents obtained by a grocery supply company that is suing the agency, highlighted the regulators’ enthusiasm for the conference in San Diego — just one of numerous trips agency honchos take each year to attend meetings of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA), an industry trade group that brings liquor interests and government regulators together at swanky resorts around the nation.

The gatherings aren’t cheap. TABC billed the state at least $8,000 for the jaunt to San Diego alone, records from the agency and the state comptroller's office show. And in 2013 TABC shelled out more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds to send four people to the association’s annual conference at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu, according to the records.

NCSLA — funded in large part by the alcohol industry — spent another $2,000 in direct-billed lodging and airfare reimbursements for the island adventure, state records obtained by the Tribune show.

The state comptroller's records show the alcoholic beverage commission has spent at least $85,000 on out-of-state travel since the 2011 fiscal year, much of it on liquor industry conferences. Almost $17,000 has been paid to NCSLA for registration and membership fees over the same period, the comptroller records show.

TABC could not say how much the liquor association has provided in travel reimbursements over the years to the agency or its employees. NCSLA Executive Director Pam Frantz said in an email Thursday that Cook, who sits on the group's board, has received travel reimbursements as a member of the association. But Frantz could not provide a list of all the travel reimbursements Cook and other TABC officials have received in the past five years.

After the Tribune asked questions about travel reimbursements, Cook contacted the Texas Ethics Commission, which informed her that payments the liquor organization made to her should have been reported on the personal financial statements she must file as a top agency official; the commission is working with her to determine how to rectify the disclosure “oversights,” said agency spokesman Chris Porter.

TABC is also examining whether it gave erroneous information about travel reimbursements when it answered an open records request related to the grocery supply company's demand for documents in 2015 by saying Cook had not received any reimbursements from outside groups.

Cook says the group's meetings she and her colleagues attend provide vital training and networking opportunities that help keep her agency abreast of the complicated regulatory structure in various states; TABC officials, meanwhile, impart wisdom they’ve learned in Texas to their national counterparts, she said.

“NCSLA is a place where state regulators from across the United States come together, and we talk a lot about, you know, best practices,” Cook said. “This is that place where we come together to have these discussions.”

Critics say they're junkets that waste precious tax dollars while raising troubling questions about the cozy relationship between the government regulators and powerful corporate interests. Austin lawyer Howard Wolf, who as a Texas Sunset Commission member a decade ago publicly complained that the state’s arcane liquor laws foster monopolies and discourage competition, said the conferences do little more than strengthen the liquor industry’s grip on Texas regulators.

“These people have virtually unlimited budgets for entertainment of all types, in order to be on the scene continually to monitor what is going on in the regulatory scheme,” Wolf said. “The TABC is ... not protecting the consumer. It’s not protecting the taxpayer. It’s protecting these very wealthy industry companies that own and dominate the industry.”

Wolf says that domination explains why Texas has adopted some of the strictest — and strangest — alcohol laws in the country. They may have started out as well-intended regulations aimed at combating organized crime and public drunkenness at the end of prohibition in the 1930s, but in modern times they’ve been adopted and promoted at the behest of politically connected companies, he says.

For example, when brewing giant Anheuser-Busch bought SeaWorld parks in 1989, state law prevented its amusement park subsidiary from selling liquor under “tied house” rules that force alcohol makers, distributors and sellers into three separate silos and supposedly forbid commercial cross-pollination. The next year, the Legislature came to Anhueser-Busch’s rescue by making retail alcohol sales legal at any “marine park” in “an enclosed restricted access area of not less than 254 acres nor more than 255 acres in a county with a population of over 950,000.” Only SeaWorld qualified.

In the distribution silo, powerful beer wholesalers have benefited from laws that require they be paid in cash upon delivery of their product and allow them to profit from exclusive distribution rights that they can sell — but politically weak craft brewers can’t. Texas craft brewers sued over the distribution rights issue and won, but the state is still fighting to stop them.

And a another bizarre liquor law, believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation, prevents publicly traded companies from selling spirits — thereby favoring politically powerful package stores and their blood relatives in maintaining the exclusive rights to sell hard liquor.

All layers of the liquor industry show up at NCSLA conferences, but the internal emails, state travel records and association literature obtained by the Tribune show business isn’t the only thing being conducted at the meetings. They typically feature sponsored parties, a well-stocked open bar and a busy array of social events.

On the 2015 trip to California, where Cook signed off on paying $73 more per night than the maximum allowable lodging rate of $142, TABC employees stayed at the posh Rancho Bernardo Inn, which NCSLA described as a “warm and welcoming resort nestled on 280 acres of green lawns” with “an 18-hole championship golf course and luxurious day spa,” records indicated.

“This resort has it all, so plan to come early and/or stay after the conference to relax, rejuvenate, and play,” the association said in its greeting message.

Beside boasting about all the sightseeing that could be done in San Diego, NCSLA officials arranged for a discounted round of golf — $89, cart rental included. The hospitality suite remained open until 2 a.m. on all four nights “for those wishing to extend their business and socializing into the evening.”

“We might even break out the karaoke!” organizers gushed.

In Hawaii, entertainment options included a golf tournament at Pearl Country Club, a “luau under the stars,” a networking event at the Bishop Museum, which boasts “the world’s largest collection of Polynesian artifacts,” and more.

At least two top agency officials — Cook and Deputy Executive Director Ed Swedberg — brought their spouses to Honolulu, records show. TABC declined to elaborate about when and where spouses were included on that or any other NCSLA jaunts but stressed that taxpayers never fund their travel.

A year after the Hawaii junket, Texas hosted the national liquor conference in San Antonio, and TABC spent at least $28,000 to send 17 employees, state records show. Partying appears to have been on the agenda in the Alamo City as well: After the event, liquor lobbyist Dewey Brackin — a former TABC staff attorney — sent a picture of himself with TABC licensing chief Harrison and others.

“Feeling no pain,” he said of the moment captured in the photo. Brackin said later he was merely “enjoying the fellowship” with NCSLA attendees.

Last year, the boozing at the NCSLA conference in Austin spilled into the newspapers — after the agency was accused of failing to get the proper alcohol permit while serving alcohol in its own hospitality room. TABC launched an investigation of itself and determined there was no wrongdoing, said Porter, the spokesman.

TABC declined to immediately provide the investigative report, which the Tribune is now seeking under state open records laws. Porter said the Texas Rangers received a copy of the investigative report and decided no further action was warranted.

As the Texas Legislature grapples with a tight budget this year, the TABC is already making plans to send representatives to the upcoming NCSLA annual meeting in Colorado this summer.

Next year, NCSLA’s annual conference will once again graces the shores of Hawaii, according to the NCSLA calendar of events. This time, though, attendees will bypass Honolulu and hit the spectacular Waikoloa Beach on the Big Island, according the NCSLA website.

“As long as we’re a dues-paying members of NCSLA we’ll continue to attend those conferences to meet with our counterparts from across the country and discuss issues that are of importance to the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas and nationwide,” Porter said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s real easy to spend money when it’s not your own

GETTING NAKED AT AUSCHWITZ DEATH CAMP

Fourteen naked men and women slaughter a sheep at Auschwitz death camp before chaining themselves under the 'Arbeit macht frei' sign in shocking and unexplained ritual

By AFP and Chris Summers

Daily Mail
March 24, 2017

A group of naked men and women today slaughtered a sheep in a bizarre ritual at the former Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Poland.

Fourteen people, aged between 20 and 27, chained themselves together in front of the camp's infamous 'Arbeit macht frei' ('Work makes you free') sign, according to museum staff.

The group also used a drone to film the incident but it is unclear what nationality they were or what was the point of the sick ritual.

Museum guards at the site in the southern city of Oswiecim immediately intervened, and police said all those involved have been detained.

'The individuals will be transferred to a police station for questioning. A large group of police officers are at the scene,' local police spokeswoman Malgorzata Jurecka told AFP.

She said they plan to inform prosecutors of the incident.

'This is the first time something like this has happened at Auschwitz,' museum director Piotr Cywinski told AFP.

'I have no idea what their motives were.'

Nazi Germany built the Auschwitz death camp after occupying Poland during World War II.

The Holocaust site has become a symbol of Nazi Germany's genocide of six million European Jews, one million of whom were killed at the camp from 1940 to 1945.

Poland's chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said that the actions of those involved were wrong, regardless of the group's motives.

'Any use of Auschwitz for political statements, even using Auschwitz for moral statements, is not how Auschwitz should be remembered,' he told AFP.

'The Germans used Auschwitz to try to eliminate the Jewish people. Any happenings are a desecration of the memory of all those killed at Auschwitz, Jews, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, Roma and others,' he added.

More than 100,000 non-Jews, including Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and anti-Nazi resistance fighters also died at the death camp, according to the museum.

An estimated 232,000 of Auschwitz's victims were children.

Friday, March 24, 2017

CLEAN YOUR CARPET AND MORE WITH ..... WD-40

HI YO GLEN CAMPBELL

Hi Yo Silver, Away! – It doesn’t get much better than this. "The William Tell Overture" by Giaochino Rossini. Many of us grew up watching the Lone Ranger and Tonto on black and white television. Years later, many of us watched the Glen Campbell show on TV as well.

This video is a clip of a younger Glen Campbell playing the William Tell Overture (with symphony orchestra) and dedicating it to Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto. You may never have seen Glen play like this before. This is world-class guitar playing and Campbell makes it look easy. The sounds of Glen Campbell on guitar and the symphony orchestra playing Rossini's "William Tell Overture" will take you back to those golden days of yesteryear, when the strains of the Rossini's masterpiece coming over the radio meant the Lone Ranger show was about to begin.

ENERGY SECRETARY RICK PERRY CLAIMS ELECTION FOR TEXAS A&M STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT WAS STOLEN

Perry: Did A&M shun due process in the name of 'diversity'?

By Rick Perry

Houston Chronicle
March 23, 2017

As Texas' first Aggie governor and as someone who was twice elected Yell Leader of Texas A&M University, I am deeply troubled by the recent conduct of A&M's administration and Student Government Association (SGA) during the Aggie student-body president elections for 2017-2018.

When I first read that our student body had elected an openly gay man, Bobby Brooks, for president of the student body, I viewed it as a testament to the Aggie character. I was proud of our students because the election appeared to demonstrate a commitment to treating every student equally, judging on character rather than on personal characteristics.

Unfortunately, a closer review appears to prove the opposite; and the Aggie administration and SGA owe us answers.

Brooks did not win the election. He finished second by more than 750 votes to one Mr. Robert McIntosh. However, McIntosh was disqualified by the SGA Election Commission and Judicial Court through a process that - at best - made a mockery of due process and transparency.

At worst, the SGA allowed an election to be stolen outright.

Here are the facts: Six hours after the election polls closed, the SGA Election Commission received 14 anonymous complaints, accusing McIntosh of voter intimidation. Rather than question McIntosh or conduct an investigation, the Election Commission immediately disqualified McIntosh and declared Brooks the winner. Later, the Commission added a second charge - again from an anonymous complaint - that McIntosh had failed to provide a receipt for glow sticks appearing in a campaign video on Facebook.

Now, as someone who appointed university regents for more than a decade, I assumed that the administration would have briefed the Board of Regents, considering the allegations of widespread voter intimidation and the disqualification of thousands of student votes. If anything is worthy of oversight, these events should qualify.

Incredibly, it appears that the Board of Regents was never informed.

Upon appeal, McIntosh was cleared of all charges of voter intimidation. None of the complaints were made by students who interacted with McIntosh, and many of the accusers turned out to be supporters of Brooks or his campaign volunteers. In other words, the entire episode that initially disqualified McIntosh was dismissed as a series of dirty campaign tactics.

The second charge of missing receipts was upheld by the Court, despite the fact that McIntosh had acquired the glow sticks for participating in a charity event prior to the campaign. Further, they were no different than visual props used by McIntosh's rivals' campaign videos - none of which were itemized or expensed.

In its opinion, the Judicial Court admitted that the charges were minor and technical, but, incredibly, chose to uphold the disqualification, with no consideration given to whether the punishment fit the crime. The desire of the electorate is overturned, and thousands of student votes are disqualified because of free glow sticks that appeared for 11 seconds of a months-long campaign. Apparently, glow sticks merit the same punishment as voter intimidation.

Now, Brooks' presidency is being treated as a victory for "diversity." It is difficult to escape the perception that this quest for "diversity" is the real reason the election outcome was overturned. Does the principle of "diversity" override and supersede all other values of our Aggie Honor Code?

Every Aggie ought to ask themselves: How would they act and feel if the victim was different? What if McIntosh had been a minority student instead of a white male? What if Brooks had been the candidate disqualified? Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks? Would the student body have allowed a black student body president to be disqualified on anonymous charges of voter intimidation?

We all know that the administration, the SGA and student body would not have permitted such a thing to happen. The outcome would have been different if the victim was different.

Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley must explain why she chose to overturn a fairly won election and disqualify thousands of votes on the basis of anonymous complaints and flimsy technicalities. Chief Justice Shelby James must explain why she treated these cases as annoyances rather than with respect. The administration must explain why it stood passive while equal treatment was mocked in the name of diversity, and why officials did not brief the Board of Regents.

Campus diversity is something every school and student should strive to consistently improve. But it must be done the right way. The quality of diversity on a campus depends on fair treatment, rather than preferred outcomes or engineered results. McIntosh's treatment suggests that A&M is choosing preferred outcomes over equal treatment: that the ends justify the means, and that not every student is deserving of the same treatment.

That is precisely opposite from the values that I learned as an A&M cadet.

Robert McIntosh was not treated the same as his competitors.

If we do not serve him and the voting majority of students, then we fail every student at our beloved university - and tarnish the ring that our alumni wear with pride.

EDITOR'S NOTE: So far no one has accused Putin of stealing the Aggie election.

FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T CALL THE AMBULANCE UNTIL WE HIDE THE EVIDENCE

by Bob Walsh

It happened recently in Phoenix. A major tragedy. The nine-year old boy was shot in the head in the home, allegedly-maybe by the two-year old. That being said the mother, Wendy Lavarnia, delayed substantially in calling the ambulance so she could clean up evidence in what is alleged to be several rooms of the house.

Wendy Lavarnia, 28, and her ex-con husband, Kansas Lavarnia, are both currently under investigation for murder. The cops don't believe the story that the two-year old just happened to find a gun on the bed and happened to shoot the nine-year old in the head. Some of this disbelieve was triggered when the dead kid's father showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound on his arm that had been "reamed out" with a screwdriver in order to disguise the fact that it was a gunshot.

Kansas has been booked for first degree murder, child abuse and hindering prosecution. Wendy has been booked on suspicion of first degree murder. The DA has yet to file charges.

The couple have other children who have been moved into child welfare.

The authorities are unable to say whether the delay in calling for help was significant in the death of the nine-year old.

RIOTING OUTSIDE JAIL, NOT INSIDE

Riot Breaks Out Outside Pennsylvania Jail

By Shelly Bradbury

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
March 23, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Wrapped in jackets and hats, six protesters sat in a circle on the sidewalk near the Allegheny County Jail on Tuesday beneath a hand-drawn banner that declared in bold, black letters, "Until everyone is free."

Snacks and spent coffee cups littered the sidewalk. A harp sat nearby. Pedestrians walked past without second glances.

The quiet protest was nothing like the scene at the jail Monday night, when police said armed, masked protesters shot off fireworks, threw rocks at jail windows, tussled with officers, damaged cars and sprayed graffiti to protest the treatment of inmates.

Eleven protesters were arrested after what police called a riot outside the jail. Many of those arrested carried weapons; one man had a backpack filled with Mace, brass knuckles, marijuana and a firearm, which police said he had a license to carry.

Jail employees called 911 at 7:43 p.m. Monday to report the protesters were throwing rocks at the building and breaking windows, according to a statement from Warden Orlando Harper.

When officers arrived, they found about 25 people, many with their faces covered by bandannas or masks. The protesters were shooting fireworks, playing a drum, and banging sticks and pipes together, according to police.

The fireworks exploded between the jail building and the Parkway East, according to a criminal complaint, and posed a danger to passing drivers.

As the first two officers approached on bicycles, the group began to march away. One officer pulled in front of the protesters and ordered them to stop, but they ignored him.

Tyler Kobel, 25, of Altoona, at that point darted out from behind a highway pillar and jogged to catch up with the group. Officer Daniel Nowak caught up to him and grabbed him, according to a criminal complaint.

Mr. Kobel struggled to get away while another person punched Officer Nowak in the back, according to police. Mr. Kobel surrendered when the officer pointed his Taser at him, according to the complaint.

Another protester, 25-year-old James Griffin of Allison Park, charged at an officer and also was arrested after a brief scuffle, according to police. He carried the backpack full of weapons, according to a criminal complaint.

The other nine protesters were arrested as they fled from officers, according to the complaint.

It's unclear who organized Monday's protest and what, exactly, they were demanding. Members of the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project protested peacefully at the jail on Saturday, but spokeswoman TeOnna Ross said her organization had nothing to do with Monday's events.

"However, we sympathize with those who showed their frustration about the abuses that are occurring inside the jail," she said in a statement.

Those arrested were Pittsburgh residents Ian Greynolds, 22, Anthony Ambroso, 26, Liam Swanson, 25, Thomas Stiller, 26, Blanca Chavez-Alvarez, 29, Joshua Szymanski, 22, and Raina Legrand, 23. Morgan Prescott, 22 of York, and Nicholas Hodgson, 36, who was said to be homeless, also were arrested.

All 11 face charges of rioting, vandalism, criminal mischief and conspiracy. Mr. Griffin and Mr. Kobel also are charged with assaulting the officers and were being held in the county jail. The other nine had been released, according to court records.

All are scheduled to appear for preliminary hearings on April 4 and 5.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I suspect this was organized by some jerk on social media. You can organize just about anything at the drop of a hat through the social media.

WISCONSIN SHOOTING SPREE LEAVES POLICE OFFICER AND THREE OTHERS DEAD

A domestic dispute at a bank escalated into shootings at three locations in northern Wisconsin

Daily News
March 23, 2017

WESTON, Wis. -- A police officer and three other people were shot and killed when a domestic dispute at a bank escalated into shootings at three locations in northern Wisconsin on Wednesday, investigators said. A suspect was in custody.

The shootings happened at a bank, a law firm and an apartment complex, where officers, including a SWAT team, had a standoff with the suspect for several hours before ending in a volley of gunfire around 5 p.m.

Authorities took no questions in a brief news conference late Wednesday and gave no details on the four victims or suspect. They said there was no remaining threat to the public. Jason Smith, a deputy administrator for the state Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation, said more than 100 officers were investigating and more information would be released Thursday.

The violence unfolded in a cluster of small towns south of Wausau, about 90 miles west of Green Bay. The officer worked for Everest Metro, a small, 27-officer force that serves Schofield and Weston.

"I would like to send all my thoughts and ask everybody listening, 'Thoughts and prayers to all the victims and their families.' Everest Metro Chief Wally Sparks said. "Please keep them in your prayers and be with our officers."

The first shooting was reported shortly after midday at Marathon Savings Bank in nearby Rothschild. Officers responding to a reported "domestic situation" at the bank arrived to find two people had been shot. They said the suspect was gone when they arrived.

A second call came about 10 minutes later from the Tlusty, Kennedy and Dirks law firm in nearby Schofield. The third shooting happened at 1:30 p.m. at an apartment complex in Weston.

A woman who lives in the complex said she looked out her apartment window at the complex about 1:15 p.m. to see a squad car approach, and a few seconds later heard a gunshot and saw the officer fall. Kelly Hanson, 21, told The Associated Press she saw other officers put the wounded policeman in an armored SWAT vehicle and take him away, but she could not tell if he was alive or dead.

"I thought, what is going on? I know what a gun sounds like, and thought 'This isn't good,'" Hanson said. She said she stayed in her apartment until about 4:45 p.m. when she heard a volley of about 10 shots and began to "freak out." Authorities eventually let her leave her apartment.

It's tragic that had to happen, but I think they did a good job out here today," Hanson said.

SWAT members entered the apartment building about 2:30 p.m., the Wausau Daily Herald reported. Nearby schools and a hospital went on lockdown. The lockdowns were later lifted.

Susan Thompson, a resident of the building, told the newspaper she heard gunshots and heard someone scream. As she left her apartment, police called to her to get inside and lock her doors. Thompson, 21, said she had her 2-year-old daughter in the apartment. Officers later came to her door and helped her and her daughter outside, she said.

Omar Sey, 31, who said he had just moved to the apartment complex, learned of the shooting after he arrived home to find dozens of squad cars outside. Sey, who said he had moved to Wisconsin from Gambia, said he didn't understand why such things happen in America.

"This is crazy," he said. "You have everything at your disposal. Why don't you make your life better instead of engaging in this?"

TEENAGER ARRESTED IN ISRAEL FOR THREATS TO AMERICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTERS

Israeli Police Arrest American-Israeli teen in Bomb Threats Made Against American Jewish Centers

By Paul Goldman, Tom Winter, Pete Williams and Erik Ortiz

NBC News
March 23, 2017

Israeli police arrested a 19-year-old man Thursday in connection with the wave of bomb threats and hoaxes against Jewish community centers in America, authorities in Israel said.

The unnamed man — a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen — is Jewish himself, officials said. While a motive remains unclear, his attorney told a Magistrate Court that the suspect was diagnosed with a brain tumor that effects his cognitive functions.

He was arrested on suspicion of making security-related threats and publishing false reports causing panic in Jewish communities in countries around the world, said Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

A federal official with direct knowledge of the investigation into the telephone bomb threats told NBC News exclusively that authorities first believed they had their man on Monday of this week.

"This kid was very sophisticated" the official says. "What he did in avoiding law enforcement, he did a great job. We just did better than him."

The official says dogged cyber work and IP tracing led to what he described as the "eureka moment" that was the result of a 6 month intensive effort with Israeli authorities.

In the U.S., Jewish centers and synagogues in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Florida and elsewhere have reported menacing calls and emails warning of violence in the past six months. Facilities were routinely locked down and police made sweeps with bomb-sniffing dogs. In other cases, Jewish cemeteries and synagogues reported vandalism to their properties.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the arrest in Israel is "the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents ... and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs."

Rosenfeld said the investigation had begun in several countries where dozens of ominous calls were received at public places, events, synagogues and community buildings. In one instance, he added, a Delta Airlines flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport had to make an emergency landing in 2015 after a false threat about explosives on board.

The FBI and other law enforcement cooperated with the investigation in Israel, using technology to track down the origin of the threats, which were received in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Israeli police officials said the suspect used his neighbor's Wi-Fi as one of the means to disguise himself. A U.S. law enforcement source said the suspect made the calls from his bedroom.

Rosenfeld said the suspect used "advanced camouflage technologies" when contacting other countries and making those threats. The FBI said he made the calls from his bedroom.

"He didn't use regular phone lines. He used different computer systems so he couldn't be backtracked," said Rosenfeld, according to The Associated Press.

Investigators were removing items from the suspect's home in southern Israel, where they reportedly found antennas and satellite equipment.

The official with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News that the Israel Police, with FBI agents near the suspect's location, moved on the teen early Thursday morning local time and arrested him. Israeli officials said he tried unsuccessfully to grab an officer's gun.

Meanwhile, the suspect appeared Thursday at a court in Rishon Letzion, northwest of Jerusalem.

A public defender said he does not have a criminal record, but has suffered from a brain tumor since he was 14 that appears to effect his cognitive functions. He has been home schooled since the diagnosis and cannot work or serve in the Israel Defense Forces, his attorneys added.

The court granted a request by the suspect's attorneys to have him undergo a medical evaluation.

Officials also said he called the Israel Police's emergency number two months ago to falsely claim that bombs were planted in schools across Israel.

U.S. authorities are not expected to seek extradition.

That effort to catch the caller, the U.S. official said, was first led by the Israeli Police.

"A very capable Israeli police force that came through and took the case to the 5 yard line," the official said, using an American football metaphor.

The FBI then dispatched 14 agents to Israel and worked together with Israeli Police "to cross the goal line."

That "goal line" moment came when Israeli officials and the FBI realized they had found their man on Monday of this week.

The official credited the "deep dive collaboration" that began in September of last year and involved the expertise of both agencies in making the arrest.

In the first two months of 2017 alone, the Anti-Defamation League has counted at least 150 threats in 37 states made against JCCs as well as Jewish day schools, other Jewish institutions and the ADL's own offices.

The ADL tweeted Thursday that it was "relieved and thankful" a suspect was caught, and that despite there not being an obvious motive, the "impact of this individual's actions is crystal clear: These were acts of anti-Semitism."

"Even though it appears that the main culprit behind the majority of these attacks has allegedly been identified, anti-Semitism in the U.S. remains a very serious concern," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.

"No arrests have been made in three cemetery desecrations or a series of other anti-Semitic incidents involving swastika graffiti and hate fliers. JCCs and other institutions should not relax security measures or become less vigilant."

The FBI earlier this month had made one arrest in the case: a 31-year-old former journalist named Juan Thompson.

Authorities say he made a handful of bomb threats against Jewish groups while posing as his ex-girlfriend as retribution against her. But those threats were described by authorities as a "copycat" case.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's minister of public security, said he hopes the latest arrest "will help shed light on some of the recent threats against Jewish institutions, which have caused great concern both among Jewish communities and the Israeli government."

MAN OF THE HOUSE

Tom had just finished reading a new book entitled, 'You Can Be THE Man of Your House.'

He stormed to his wife in the kitchen and announced, 'From now on, you need to know that I am the man of this house and my word is Law.

You will prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I'm finished eating my meal, you will serve me a sumptuous dessert.

After dinner, you are going to go upstairs with me and we will have the kind of sex that I want.

Afterward, you are going to draw me a bath so I can relax.

You will wash my back and towel me dry and bring me my robe.

Then, you will massage my feet and hands.

Then tomorrow, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?'

His wife replied, 'The funeral director would be my first guess.’

Thursday, March 23, 2017

NO MORE GOODIES FOR JAILHOUSE INFORMANTS IF CALIFORNIA BILL PASSES

California moves forward on new jailhouse snitch rules

By Tony Saavedra

Orange County Register
March 22, 2017

“Puppet” and “Bouncer,” a pair of jailhouse snitches who were paid $335,000 over a four-year window for working dozens of cases in Southern California, have inspired a state bill to limit the rewards given to criminal informants.

Assembly Bill 359 on Tuesday sailed unanimously through the state Assembly Public Safety Committee, passing its first hurdle. The bill next goes to the Assembly floor for a full vote at a yet-to-be determined date.

Under the bill, snitches like Mexican Mafia members Raymond “Puppet” Cuevas and Jose “Bouncer” Paredes would no longer be able to live like kings behind bars, raking in as much as $3,000 a case as well as cartons of Marlboro cigarettes, fast food, Xbox machines and other perks.

Court ledgers obtained by Southern California News Group show that between 2011 and 2015, police in Orange County paid $14,200 to the men, Riverside County paid $6,000 and law enforcement in San Bernardino County paid $3,750. The rest of the informant pay came from police agencies in Long Beach and Los Angeles County.

Police typically sent the men into jails to befriend suspects, usually other members of the Mexican Mafia, who hadn’t yet obtained legal representation. Cuevas and Paredes, in cells wired with recording devices, offered to help the suspects dodge a death penalty from the Mexican Mafia, but only if they confessed a complete history of their alleged crimes.

Court records indicate that both men were among the informants sometimes employed to get information from suspects who already have lawyers, a practice that violates federal law. The so-called snitch scandal also was mentioned by sponsors of AB 359 as inspiration for the law.

“The integrity of our criminal justice system is crumbling, and one contributing factor is California’s long history of unethical and illegal use of jailhouse informants, like we are seeing play out in Orange County,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles.

“This bill is a small but significant step to make sure our criminal justice system does what it is intended to do, which is to deliver on the promise of justice for all.”

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office did not answer a request for comment, and the California District Attorneys’ Association reported that it had no opinion on the bill at this time.

The bill caps all monetary and nonmonetary payments to informants at $100 per case, including any investigatory work. Currently, the cap is $50 per case for testimony and no limit in compensation for investigation.

Additionally, the bill requires prosecutors to keep databases that track informant work and locations, and to turn detailed informant histories over to defense attorneys no later than 30 days before the preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors have repeatedly failed to turn over details of their informants’ past work with police, a violation of discovery law.

The use of jailhouse informants is mostly unregulated in California and often susceptible to abuse, because there is an incentive for snitches to lie in order to receive payment or lenient treatment in their own cases, often called “consideration,” experts say. Cuevas and Paredes received leniency on charges that could have kept them in prison for life.

Alexandra Natapoff, an expert on informants and a professor at Loyola Law School, said California is behind other states in regulating the use of jailhouse snitches, but the bill would be an important start.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Natapoff said. She added that while monetary incentives would be capped, the bill does not address the most important reward for informants: leniency in their own criminal cases.

“It’s a great first step, and the lesson from Orange County has only begun to resonate in Sacramento,” Natapoff said.

In Orange County, the district attorney’s office was booted in 2015 from the worst mass murder case in county history because the judge came to believe that deputies were hiding records about jailhouse informant. Additionally, six murder and attempted murder cases have resulted in overturned convictions, dismissed charges and lenient penalties because of problems with jail informants. The California Attorney General’s Office, the Orange County Grand Jury and the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division are each investigating the county’s snitch crisis.

The problems were first unearthed by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, while battling to spare mass killer Scott Dekraai the death penalty.

“The hidden and unregulated use of jailhouse informants, as we have seen in Orange County, breaks down the integrity of the criminal justice system in three key ways: Innocent people go to prison, justice for victims is delayed and public trust in the criminal justice system is eroded,” said a statement from Jones-Sawyer’s office.

“While informants can provide helpful information for sheriffs and district attorneys, and may help to obtain criminal convictions, it is essential that the means used be consistent with affording all defendants their constitutional rights to a fair process.”

A RETAIL ICON HEADED DOWN THE CRAPPER ..... PROBABLY

by Bob Walsh

Sears informed the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday that there was a very real possibility that they would cease to function in the foreseeable future.

Brick and mortar retail is a tough way to make a living these days. Wards went belly-up many years ago. JC Penny almost did, and still might, after their old CEO made some HUGE marketing miscalculations.

You can buy a cup of overpriced coffee damn near on every block, but soon you might not be able to buy a dish washer in a face-to-face transaction.

Sometimes "progress" sucks.

BREXIT BALL GETTING READY TO ROLL

by Bob Walsh

Great Britain will begin the process of exiting the European Union on March 29. It is anticipated the full proceeding will take about two years. Britain was a member for 40 years although they did retain their own monetary system. That will make things much simpler as the process moves on.

The Dutch elections last week were very much status quo in their outcome, meaning that the speculated exit of the Netherlands from the E.U. is probably NOT going to happen, at least in the near future.

FREE LUNCH IN CALIFORNIA

by Bob Walsh

Susan Talamantes-Eggman is my local assemblywoman here in Stockton. She is a hard-core liberal (though is personally very pleasant). She has not, however, managed to absorb the old adage about the free lunch.

Ms. Eggman has proposed a piece of legislation that would make tuition FREE in the formerly state of California for state residents at community colleges and state universities.

Her proposal, AB 1356, would put an additional 1% income tax on persons earning more than $1 million a year in order to pay for this "free" higher education.

California's income is biased very heavily on high-income wager earners. About 1.5% of CA income tax payers pay about 50% of the state income tax. When the economy goes poorly, the state income tax revenue dips precipitously. As we all know it is difficult to take away freebies once they are given away. This could, if passed into law, become very, very expensive for Californians indeed.

DAM ... THAT WAS DAMN CLOSE

by Bob Walsh

Yes it was indeed.

The emergency spillway at the Oroville dam came very close to structural failure over the weekend. Had it failed it would have covered Oroville in about 100 feet of water, which would have been bad. Fortunately they now have reduced the water level behind the dam to the point where they are no longer critically worried about it. The local authorities have kept a voluntary evacuation order in place but have lifted the mandatory evacuation order for many of the cities and downs downstream from the dam.

Within the next few days they are hoping to take the water level to the point where it is completely below the level of the structure of the emergency spillway, taking all of the pressure off of it. That is 50 feet below the maximum level of the lake. Then they can figure out what they are going to do about repairing the emergency spillway as well as the normal spillway. There are another three or four days of rain storms due starting Friday, but these storm will not carry nearly as much water as the last ones so the current spillway should be able to handle the intake OK. That will, of course, make the damage even worse for the standard spillway, but since it is toast anyway that doesn't seem to be a big deal.

The finger-pointing from the members of the political ruling class has started already. Remember the old axiom, it doesn't matter whose fault it is. It does matter who gets the blame. And of course who gets the government contracts to fix it.

IS WHAT IS GOOD FOR GOD GOOD FOR ALLAH?

by Bob Walsh

Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas has been doing pretty well in the diversity department until recently. They have a fair number of Muslim students. Those students would go into room C112 and pray a couple of times a day as their religion requires. This is a spare classroom and is used, among other things, for Buddhist meditation and for teachers to hang out and grade papers. This has been going on for seven years and apparently didn't bother anybody.

However it does bother the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton. It seems that he believes the room is exclusive to Muslim students and that this discriminatory practice is of dubious legality. He has written the school board to express his concern.

The Frisco Independent School District board say the AG is full of shit. They further assert that the AG didn't even inquire about the practice before they went 5150 on it.

Last year Paxton dove into a lawsuit in Killeen, Texas to support a nurses aid who put up a Christian quotation from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on a banner in her school. The principal ordered the aid to take the banner down. Eventually a lawsuit was filed against the principal by the nurse with the support of Paxton. The lawsuit was successful.

RIOT INJURES SIX CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS

by Bob Walsh

The California Correctional Center is located in the rather bucolic burg of Susanville (often known as Susan's Village) in northern California. It used to be primarily a feeder facility and training operation for minimum custody inmates headed for fire camps.

This last Wednesday a prisoner attacked an officer in a dining room. As other staff responded more inmates jumped in and it ended up with about 30 inmates fighting with officers.

The fight was eventually broken up with pepper spray, less-lethal projectiles and plain old physical force. The most serious staff injury was a broken thumb. One inmate had his eye socket broken in the fight.

NOTABLE DEATH

by Bob Walsh

Chuck Berry, one of the early icons of Rock and Roll, died on Saturday at the age of 90.

He was a prodigious talent.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

FOR THE PAST FIVE DAYS I HAVE BEEN WITHOUT PHONE SEERVICE AND WITHOUT THE INTERNET

A contractor employed by AT&T installed a new cable in my neighborhood, but in doing so, knocked out AT&T’s U-Verse service to some 30 customers

The reason BGB and TUG have not had any postings the past few days ia because my internet service, together with my phone service, has been down for five days.

It seems as though AT&T employed a contractor to lay a new cable in my neighborhood. When they finished the job, some 30 customers were left without their U-Verse service. To add insult to injury, the contractor left a trailer with a big cable spool sitting on my front lawn instead of parking it curbside.

The contractor fucked up big time, apparently severing a bunch of phone lines in the process. I noticed that the workers, of which there were only a handful, all spoke excellent Spanish. Any illegals, I wonder?

AT&T’s crews have been working the past few days trying to repair the damage. Today there were 23 AT&T employees working around the corner from my house, attempting to restore the knocked out service.

Let’s see now, four or five non-English speaking contract workers fucked up my phone and internet service and it took at least 23 AT&T workers more than four days to restore. By using a contractor, AT&T obviously thought it was saving a bundle of money. Yeah, right!

Anyway, we’re back up and running. For starters, I’m posting what I intended to publish last Sunday. I’ll follow tomorrow with the posts Bob Walsh sent me the past few days..

THE CONTROVERSIAL PRIVACY ACT

Bruce Jenner: He or she? Does Brucella still have a dick?

Right now nothing is more controversial than the Privacy Act, better known as the Bathroom Law, which just passed the Texas state senate by an overwhelming majority. The bill passed despite opposition by the business community and blackmail efforts by the NFL and NBA in threatening to prevent their special events from being held in the state if a privacy act were to be enacted.

When North Carolina passed its bathroom law, the NFL and NBA immediately announced that the Super Bowl and the NBA All Star Game would no longer be held in that state. An assortment of celebrities, as can be expected, also weighed in. Beyonce, that pro-Black Panther, anti-police mega star, urged a boycott of the state. Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffet, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Moore and Sharon Stone are among those who have stated that they find the NC law ‘hateful’ and discriminatory.

Opponents of the Bathroom Law assert that it discriminates against transgenders and that its supporters are nothing but a bunch of lowdown bigots. Those on the left have joined with the LGBT political bloc in declaring that transgenders should be designated as a protected class.

Now what about those transgenders? Were they born that way? I don’t think so. Take former Olympian Bruce Jenner for example.

Brucella Jenner – oops, I mean Bruce, waited until his 60s to decide he was really a woman. And that was after three marriages and fathering six children, two with each of his wives. He didn’t develop a gender identification problem until he got mixed up with the Kardashians. He or she(?) chose the first name of Caitlyn. I thought Brucella was more appropriate.

So is Jenner a he or she? I’ll believe Caitlyn is a woman when Jenner can get pregnant.

Whether Jenner has a mental problem or whether his transformation is the phony attempt to resurrect a fading star we’ll probably never know. But what about the other transgenders, be they schoolchildren or young adults? If they were born boys they are really boys and if they were born girls they are really girls, both physically and mentally. If later in life they develop a gender identification problem, that’s a mental problem which can be cured with some serious head shrinking.

What about the accusation that the Texas Privacy Act bill is discriminatory? Horseshit! Show me where this bill if passed would discriminate against those seeking jobs, housing or medical care. All it does is to protect girls and women from having to use toilets and take showers together with men. That’s not being discriminatory!

As I’ve said before, I have a simple rule for the use of school and public bathrooms: The person who has a dick uses the Boys/Men’s room, the person who does not have a dick uses the Girls/Ladies room!

The bathroom law provides for the safety not only of normal people, but also for the transgenders who are liable to get the crap kicked out of them, or worse, by some angry father or husband if one with a dick enters a Girls/Ladies room.

AMERICAN DRUG TRAFFICKER MAY SOON FACE AN INDONESIAN FIRING SQUAD

Indonesia transfers US citizen to 'execution island'

By Vincent Bevins

The Guardian
March 13, 2017

JAKARTA -- Indonesia has transferred a convicted US citizen to its so-called execution island, prompting fears among rights organisations that the government may be preparing another round of firing squads.

Human Rights Watch said Frank Amado, who faces the death penalty for drug trafficking, had been moved to facilities on Nusa Kambangan island, the site of previous recent executions.

Indonesian press is reporting six other foreign nationals on death row may have moved along with him, including Chen Weibiao, Xiao Jin Zeng and Lo Tin Yau, from China; Malaysian citizen E Wee Hock; Frank Nwaomeka from Nigeria; and Lai Siu Cheung Anika, from Hong Kong.

No US citizen has ever been executed by the Indonesian government.

“This is a worrying development. But we can’t be entirely certain if these transfers are part of preparations for new executions, due to the lack of transparency that is just one of many problems with Indonesia’s penal system,” said Ricky Gunawan, director of the Community Legal Aid Institute, an organisation in Jakarta that has worked with Human Rights Watch to monitor Amado’s case.

“The most recent executions were preceded by transfers to Nusa Kambangan, which is often called execution island here, but the government also sometimes moves prisoners there for other reasons.

“There are serious irregularities in Indonesia’s death penalty system and we call for a halt to this round of executions with a view to implementing a new moratorium and then abolition.”

After a halt on executions between 2009 and 2012, Indonesia has carried out three rounds of executions, the last of which took place in July 2016. Four of 14 death row prisoners were executed, and legal experts in the country are still unsure why the other 10 had their deaths postponed.

Human Rights Watch and Gunawan say Amado technically has one more appeal round available to him, but that in the past the Indonesian government has carried out the death sentence in similar situations.

These two groups are not working closely with the other death row prisoners reportedly transferred recently, but like many international organisations they call for a stop to all executions in the country.

Amado has said in previous interviews that he wasinvolved in the storing of shabu, a local name for a drug similar to crystal meth, but that since his arrest in 2009, he has seen that the Indonesian justice system is marked by abuse and corruption.

In 2011, US government representatives said they would not intervene in the case.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good riddance!

POVERTY IS NOT THE CHIEF CAUSE OF CRIME

The $1.4 billion in New York State tax dollars that Governor Andrew Cuomo is diverting into Central Brooklyn, are unlikely to dissuade budding felons from a life of crime

By Heather Mac Donald

National Review
March 10, 2017

I have been talking about the criminal-justice system at colleges recently and encountering the inevitable claim from students (picked up from their professors) that poverty causes crime. A video throws that exculpatory narrative into doubt.

Gang leader Thaddeus Jimenez is driving his convertible Mercedes through a Chicago neighborhood on the Northwest Side looking for someone to shoot. Jimenez is carrying a pistol; his passenger is carrying a semi-automatic rifle. Jimenez had received a $25 million windfall in 2012 for a wrongful conviction and had spent the money on “rebuilding his old gang, buying guns and fancy cars, and throwing lavish drug-fueled parties,” according to the Chicago Tribune. An ex-gang member and friend walks up to the Mercedes and asks:

“What’s up, folks?”

“Why shouldn’t I blast you right now?” Jimenez declares.

“Blast me, nigger?” the friend, Earl Casteel, replies. “You my brother, man! I ain’t got nothing against you.”

Jimenez aims his pistol at Casteel’s legs and opens fire, shooting him once in each thigh.

“Why would you do that?” Casteel cries out as he falls to the street.

“Shut up, bitch,” Jimenez says and takes off, speeding 70 mph down busy residential and commercial streets before crashing his Mercedes into a parked car.


Poverty had nothing to do with this gratuitous violence. The millionaire Jimenez was a master of conspicuous consumption, like so many gangbangers. Nor does any hypothesized “poverty” in his childhood explain such predatory behavior. There was real poverty in the Great Depression — no welfare recipients with smartphones and cable TV then — and crime rates were negligible. Many Asian immigrant families today have lower incomes than average inner-city residents, yet their children’s crime rates are also negligible. Poverty also does not explain flash mobs of “urban youth,” such as the ones in Center City Philadelphia that have been beating, macing, and possibly tasing white pedestrians over the last month.

The Chicago video shows the consequence not of poverty but of familial and cultural breakdown. Gang-infested neighborhoods need a reconstruction of norms, above all, bourgeois values of self-control, personal responsibility (especially for one’s children), and marriage. If $25 million couldn’t stop Thaddeus Jimenez from shooting an innocent man, big government anti-poverty programs, such as the $1.4 billion in New York State tax dollars that Governor Andrew Cuomo is diverting into Central Brooklyn, are unlikely to dissuade other budding felons from a life of crime either.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

PREPARING FOR THAT DREADED COLONOSCOPY

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-litre plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a litre is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result.'

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but, have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle.. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another litre of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.

At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me...

'Ha ha,' I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

YOUR FRIENDS CAN GET YOU KILLED

by Bob Walsh

Elana Mondragon died early this week at the age of 16. She left the house wearing sweats and did not take her cell phone so her mom expected her back soon. Instead she died in a hail of police gunfire in a stolen car with three men, one of whom may have been her boyfriend and who may have been the father of the fetus she was carrying.

The Fremont P D spotted a stolen car that had been linked to several robberies. They attempted to stop the car but instead the car deliberately rammed a police car, somewhat injuring two cops. Other cops opened fire and shot Elana to death. She was in the front passenger seat at the time. The three male occupants of the car were captured, one after he fled the immediate scene.

The girls parents are absolutely sure she was not personally involved with the robberies, though admit her companions may very well have been. They also didn't know she was pregnant.

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

by Bob Walsh

Jesus Alberto Geney Montes, 24. of Santa Clara, CA is never going to make it to 25. He was an immigrant from Columbia and wanted to become a forensic dentist. He was also unfortunately a crazy person with a knife and maybe a handgun, at least he was on March 9.

His mom and stepdad called the local cops when he was acting crazy and (among other things) stabbed himself. They said he had a gun and had barricaded himself in his bedroom. He fled out the window before the cops arrived but they found him hanging out on an overpass nearby. He refused to show his hands and they lit him up [using a Taser], with no effect. Montes then advanced at the cops and one of them shot his happy ass. He died. The cops did not find a gun. The whole incident was recorded on a body cam.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR REMOVES PROSECUTOR FROM COP-KILLING CASE BECAUSE SHE DECLARED HER OPPOSITION TO THE DEATH PENALTY

Orlando prosecutor removed from cop-killing case over her decision not to seek the death penalty in this or any other case

CBS News
March 16, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. - Just hours after Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced Thursday that she will not seek the death penalty in any case under her administration, including the case of a man accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and a police officer, the state’s governor asked her to recuse herself from the Markeith Loyd case, reports CBS affiliate WKMG.

When Ayala refused, Governor Rick Scott removed her.

“I completely disagree with State Attorney Ayala’s decision and comments,” Scott said. “She has made it abundantly clear that she will not fight for justice for Lt. Debra Clayton and our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.”

Ayala is the State Attorney for Orange and Osceola counties. Ayala cited time, resources and cost to taxpayers in her decision to not pursue the death penalty for Loyd or any other accused criminal. Loyd, 41, is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, 24, on Dec. 13 at her home in Pine Hills. Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton was shot four times outside an Orlando Walmart in January after she received a tip that Loyd was at the store.

“By choosing to seek life sentences over death, we can assure that violent offenders will never be released. They will never continue to drain resources from this state with decades of appeals,” Ayala said.

Law enforcement leaders in central Florida were also disheartened by the decision and urged Ayala to reconsider.

“I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground. She was given no chance to live. A cop killer -- who also killed his pregnant girlfriend -- should not be given that chance,” Orlando police Chief John Mina said in a statement posted to Twitter. “The heinous crimes that he committed in our community are the very reason we have the death penalty as an option under the law.”

In making her announcement, Ayala referenced a bill passed Tuesday that will require a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed.

“I have determined doing so is not in the best interest of this community or in the best interest of justice,” Ayala said. “By choosing to seek life sentences over death, we can assure that violent offenders will never be released. They will never continue to drain resources from this state with decades of appeals.”

Ayala told reporters that she understands that members of the law enforcement community may be upset. She said she reached out to Clayton’s husband on Wednesday, but has not yet spoken to every victim’s family.

WKMG reports that Gov. Scott assigned State Attorney Brad King to the Loyd case in an executive order issued Thursday afternoon.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Good for Gov. Scott! Here in Houston last November, Democrats elected a district attorney, Kim Ogg, who is also against the death penalty.

EL CHAPO NOT USED TO HIS NEW DIGS

Lawyers argue that El Chapo’s First, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are being violated by the current terms of his imprisonment

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is currently a guest of Uncle Sam, but he is unhappy with his new digs at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan. The court appointed lawyers for the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel submitted a 24-page letter Monday to federal Judge Brian Cogan.

The lawyers argue that his First (freedom of expression), Fifth (right to a fair trial) and Sixth Amendment (right to an effective defense) rights are being violated by the current conditions of his confinement. The letter requests that El Chapo be removed from solitary confinement and housed in the general prison population.

Among El Chapo’s complaints are:

• He is not allowed to have any contact with his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro.

• He is confined in a small windowless cell.

• He is alone for 23 hours a day.

• He is only allowed out of his cell for one hour a day to exercise, but not on weekends.

• He only gets a brief glimpse of sunlight through a small window on the way to meet his Lawyers or to the exercise room.

• His meals are served through a small slot in the door.

• The cell lights are always on.

• He is freezing his ass off because the air conditioning is running 24/7.

• He is unable to discern night from day because a clock he purchased at the prison commissary was taken away from him with no reason given for the confiscation.

Now I ask, is this any way to treat such a distinguished guest of Uncle Sam?

ABOUT THOSE CRIMINALS TRUMP SAID MEXICO WAS SENDING US

While campaigning for the presidency last July, Trump said:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Here is an article about those criminals by Jennifer Doleac of the University of Virginia that I just received.

ARE IMMIGRANTS MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT CRIMES?
There is no empirical evidence that immigration increases crime in the United States


By Jennifer Doleac

ECONOFACT
February 14, 2017

The Issue:

One concern about immigration is whether immigrants are more prone to commit crimes than the native born population. This concern is not unique to the United States; it has affected policy in Europe, as a flood of immigrants has fled turmoil and war in the Middle East. But in the U.S. the issue took center stage during the presidential campaign when candidate Trump claimed that many Mexican immigrants are criminals, drug dealers, and rapists. President Trump has followed up on this position with an executive order calling on the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of crimes committed by "aliens." And, in recent days, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted raids across the country, purportedly targeting immigrants who “pose a threat to public safety.”

The Facts:

• One measure of how likely a particular group is to commit crimes is to look at what share of that population ends up in prison. Recent immigrants are far less likely to be incarcerated than their native-born peers, according to United States Census data (see chart). In 2010, 1.9 percent of immigrant men ages 18-40 were incarcerated compared to 3.2 percent of native-born males the same age. This does not appear to be due to the deportation of immigrants who commit crimes, but the result of an actual difference in criminal behavior (see this research paper for analysis).

• Studies using different data sources and approaches have also concluded that immigrants are generally less likely to commit crimes, and that – as a result – changes in immigration rates have little or no effect on public safety. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth show that youth born abroad are less likely than youth born in the United States to be criminally active. A recent study that looks at flows of immigrants from Mexico concludes that Mexican immigration has no effect on violent or property crime in the United States. Research on immigration to the United Kingdom shows that waves of immigrants to that country had no effect on violent crime, although property crime increased slightly with an increase in asylum seekers, who largely came from the Middle East, and decreased with increased immigration from the European Union’s newest member countries in eastern Europe.

• One reason people might associate immigrants with crime is that they tend to have characteristics that generally result in lower employment opportunities, which is linked to higher incidence of crime in the general population. Immigrants face cultural and language barriers that are greater than those typically confronting native-born Americans. Many also have less education and more limited social networks that can help connect them with jobs. For these reasons, many immigrants face a more challenging employment situation than the native born. This might be expected to result in higher rates of crime, especially economically-motivated crimes such as theft or drug sales. However, as shown in the chart, there is consistently over time a lower share of immigrants who are incarcerated as compared to the native born.

• Lower immigrant incarceration rates may reflect the federal government screening out potential immigrants who are more likely to be engaged in criminal activity. But it is not just federal government selection that is at play here, but self-selection as well. Those who immigrate are motivated enough to sever ties to a homeland in the search for a better life for themselves and their families. Furthermore, the costs of getting caught committing a crime are higher for immigrants, who could face deportation, than for the native born.

• A recent effort to link local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities to increase the detection of immigrants who commit crimes appears to have had no effect on crime rates. The "Secure Communities" program, which was launched in 2008, enabled the automatic transmission of fingerprints from arrestees to the Department of Homeland Security to verify their immigration status. Before this program, checking the immigration status of people arrested for crimes usually required the presence of a federal officer in a local jail. In its first four years, Secure Communities led to the detention of over 250,000 immigrants and ultimate deportation of 200,000. However, a study that compared counties where the program was implemented with those that had yet to roll it out, found that the program had no meaningful reduction in the rates of violent crime –homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault—or in the overall crime rate.

What this Means:

There is no empirical evidence that immigration increases crime in the United States; indeed, the rate of incarceration of immigrants is consistently lower than that of the native born of similar ages. Policies that enable immigrants access to legal jobs could lead to even lower rates of crime. In Italy, legalization of immigrants – which allowed them to obtain legal employment – reduced their criminal activity. Conversely, United States policies that limited immigrants’ ability to work increased their rate of economically-motivated crime (such as drug offenses). Crime rates can also be affected if local police are tasked with enforcing immigration law since that that takes them away from other investigations and actions and, furthermore, could make immigrants in their community more hesitant to report crime, assist in investigations, and come forward as witnesses. Thus, police officers may find it more difficult to keep their communities safe when they, rather than federal immigration authorities, are required to enforce immigration laws.