Friday, March 24, 2017

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.

SCORE ONE FOR GUN OWNERSHIP

Man tied up during home invasion frees himself, shoots both burglars, killing one

By Tribune Media wire service

Fox6
March 15, 2017

LAS VEGAS – A suspect was killed and another injured after a home invasion in northwest Las Vegas, according to Las Vegas Metro police.

Investigators said they believe a third suspect could be on the run.

Officers responded to the incident Monday, March 14th at 10:26 p.m. in the 8000 block of Hesperides Avenue, near Cimarron Road and Elkhorn Road. A neighbor said he called police after hearing gunshots and screams.

“I definitely heard him yelling something so I called 911 again, they told me the wrong route. Next thing I know there were helicopters and police car,” Matt Ciaglia who lives next door, said.

Ciaglia was not the only one who heard the screaming.

“I wasn’t sure what the loud noise was – they were shots, but maybe we thought they were firecrackers because I don’t know what a gunshot is supposed to sound like but it didn’t immediately seem like that. The girl was screaming really loud and that was what was so scary, like a horror movie kind of screaming,” said a neighbor who only gave her first name, Angela.

Police said two suspects entered the home and tied up a man and woman. The man was able to break free and grab a gun, shooting the suspects.

One of the suspects was found dead inside the home and another suffered gunshot wounds to the lower back, police said. The second suspect, identified by KSNV as 21-year-old Arnold Morales, was being treated at University Medical Center for a gunshot wound.

Neighbors in the area said they believe the victims acted appropriately.

“I would have shot him a couple of more times to make sure he was dead absolutely yeah there’s no reason to be that way there’s no reason to steal or Rob,” Tom Shiloh said.

Neighbor Lisa Warren said they live in a quiet neighborhood, but the crime makes her wish she had more protection.

“I wish I still own a gun. I used to, I wish I still did,” Warren said.

Other residents said they had been thinking about getting a dog or installing an alarm system to repel criminals.

The female victim of the home invasion was struck in the arm and was receiving treatment at University Medical Center, police. It was unclear if she was hit by accident or by one of the suspects returning fire.

Detectives said they believe a third suspect may have fled the scene.

The Clark County Coroner’s Office said it will later release the name of the deceased.

Friday, March 17, 2017

HATRED OF TRUMP BY CELEBRITIES COULD LEAD TO THE ASSINATION OF OUR PRESIDENT

By Howie Katz

Big Jolly Politics
March 16, 2017

The Democrats just can’t get over Trump’s thrashing of Hillary Clinton. They can’t blame Clinton’s loss on Bush, but Putin fits nicely in their playbook. That is, the Russians stole the presidency from Clinton, thereby making Trump an illegitimate president.

Anger over Clinton’s loss has led many on the left to hate Trump and to express their hated publicly. It’s been a long time in our history since a president has been so hated. I believe that because of this hatred, President Trump is in real danger of getting assassinated.

The internet is replete with hateful comments about Trump. That’s bad enough. But when celebrities express their hatred of Trump publicly, their inflammatory words and actions could lead to the assassination of our president.

Here are just three examples:

• During her performance at the British 2017 BRIT Awards, Katy Perry hung and set fire to skeletal effigies of Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

• During January’s Women’s March in Washington, Madonna expressed her anger over Trump’s election by telling the throngs that “I thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”

• In a new music video, Snoop Dog using a toy gun, shoots a clown resembling Trump.

While Katy Perry and Madonna’s disgusting capers are bad enough, Snoop Dog went way over the top in expressing his hatred of our president.

In an interview with Billboard, Snoop Dog said he was motivated to make the video because of “the ban [on immigrants] that this mother***er tried to put up, him winning the presidency, police being able to kill mother***ers and get away with it, people being in jail for weed for 20, 30 years.”

Snoop Dog, unlike Perry and Madonna, is nothing but a piece of excrement who struck it lucky as a rapper. He was a member of the Rollin' 20 Crips gang in Long Beach, California. Shortly after graduating from high school – give him credit for that – he was busted for possession of cocaine and spent the next three years in and out of jail.

There are too many crazies out there itching to be in the national spotlight, so that we do not need to have celebrities motivating them into attempting an assassination of our president.

What would have happened to Clint Eastwood had he expressed blowing up Obama’s White House? What would have happened to Kid Rock had he made a video in which he shot President Obama? There’s no doubt that Obama’s feds would have arrested them forthwith. And they would have probably been safer locked up than free to face the fury of Obama’s supporters.

Celebrities have every right to express their dislike or hatred of Trump, but not in a way that could lead to the assassination of our president. Shame on Perry, Madonna, Snoop and their ilk. There should be a special place in hell for them.

CA CHIEF JUSTICE PISSED AT ICE

by Bob Walsh

Tani Cantil-Sakauye is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the formerly great state of California. And she is pissed off at ICE because she thinks (with some justification) that they are using courthouses to stalk illegal aliens, kind of like a leopard hanging by the only watering hole around to snag a gazelle.

The justice sent a letter to John Kelly, head of Homeland Security, requesting that ICE stop this practice. She did NOT question the agencies authority to do so, merely the wisdom in doing some from a public policy standpoint.

Presumably illegal aliens are not at the court house to serve jury duty so they are, again presumably, there because they are the subject of some court action. If they were not, then they would be wise to find another watering hole, thereby avoiding the leopard.

Personally it sounds to me like ICE is being smart, at least they know the illegals are (probably) not armed inside the court building and therefore unlikely to shoot down innocent by standers in an attempt to avoid capture. Or, in other words, fuck them.

THE PERILS OF FISHING OFF THE COMPANY PIER

by Bob Walsh

The University of the Pacific is, I believe, the oldest private university west of the Mississippi. It is a very prestigious school and has, among other things, an outstanding Pharmacy program and a very respectable Theatre Arts program. And, of course, sports.

Ron Verlin used to be the men's basketball coach at UOP. He was sacked almost exactly one year ago, with two years remaining on his five-year contract, at $400,000 per year. He is suing.

Verlin is citing two items as the REAL reason he was sacked. One is that one of his subordinate coaches (who is black) was (allegedly) banging the athletic director's adult daughter, who is white. The second was the alleged desire of UOP to hire former NBA player Damon Stoudamire as the new head basketball coach.

Verlin is suing for the $800,000 plus unspecified punitive damages.

THE TEFLON FINALLY WORE OFF

The rise and fall of Lee Baca, L.A. County's onetime 'Teflon Sheriff'

By Shelby Grad

Los Angeles Times
March 15, 2017

Former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s conviction Wednesday for obstructing a federal investigation into abuses in county jails and lying to cover up the interference is a dramatic end to career marked by both early promise and running scandal.

For years, Baca won praise in law enforcement circles around the nation for his outreach to Muslim groups, progressive views on educating jail inmates and battling homelessness. But in the years before he stepped down from office in 2014, his department had been mired in scandal.

Here is a look at Baca’s record from the pages of The Times:

An East L.A. native

Raised by his grandparents in working-class East Los Angeles, Baca dropped out of community college. He was hired as a beat cop with the Sheriff's Department and worked his way up the ranks, earning a doctorate from USC. Along the way, he developed a philosophy about policing that went beyond simply arresting criminals and included rehabilitation and education.

In 1998, as a top commander within the department, he launched a campaign to unseat his longtime mentor, incumbent Sheriff Sherman Block. One top aide recalled Baca's approach then as being the opposite of Daryl Gates, the controversial former LAPD chief criticized for a militaristic take on law enforcement that alienated minority communities. Baca drew his support from ethnic communities within the county.

Hailed as reformer

In his first years in office, Baca impressed some reformers.

He required his deputies to memorize a pledge to fight against racism, sexism and homophobia. He created dozens of ethnic advisory committees, formalizing a pipeline between his office and the county's many minority groups. He opened a drug and alcohol treatment center for jail inmates as part of rehabilitation efforts.

Baca successfully pushed for a watchdog agency that would monitor how the department handled allegations of misconduct by deputies. The move was all the more notable because it came at a time when the LAPD was mired in the Rampart corruption scandal.

A few years into his tenure, Baca was faced with a series of problems. Racially motivated violence erupted between black and Latino inmates. Sheriff's officials were blamed for failing to prevent a string of inmate killings by other inmates.

The ‘Teflon Sheriff’

By the mid-2000s, Baca was under fire for releasing thousands of inmates early from his cash-strapped jails, with many of the freed going on to commit new crimes.

His department was accused of giving actor Mel Gibson preferential treatment following his 2006 drunk driving arrest in Malibu. A year later, Baca's decision to free Paris Hilton weeks before she finished her jail term for a probation violation made international news.

The sheriff weathered the storms, comfortably winning reelection. L.A. Weekly began calling him the "Teflon Sheriff."

Brought down by jail scandal

The beginning of the end of Baca’s career as sheriff came several years ago when federal authorities began investigating allegations of abuse in the jail system, which he oversaw.

The investigation led to numerous prosecutions and convictions of lower-level jail officials and sheriff’s commanders.

But the federal prosecutors focused on Baca’s role in trying to impede the investigation.

To get to Baca, prosecutors methodically worked their way up the ranks of a group of sheriff’s officials who were accused of conceiving and carrying out a scheme to impede the FBI jail inquiry. In all, 10 people — from low-level deputies to Baca and his former second in command — have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Several other deputies have been found guilty of civil rights violations for beatings they delivered on inmates and visitors in the jails.

Prosecutors argued that Baca was part of a conspiracy, hatched in the summer of 2011, to obstruct attempts by the FBI to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse by deputies in his jails.

Although Baca delegated day-to-day handling of the obstruction plot to his trusted undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, he helped direct it and was kept apprised of developments from his place at the top of the command chain, prosecutors led by Assistant U.S. Atty. Brandon Fox told jurors. The scheme, prosecutors argued, included efforts to keep FBI agents away from an inmate who had been working for them as an informant, manipulating potential witnesses in the federal inquiry and intimidating an FBI agent.

In his closing words to the jury before they began deliberating, Fox excoriated Baca, comparing him to a cowardly chess king who remained safely back while dispatching pawns and other underlings to do his “dirty work.”

Courtroom drama

The government’s first trial against Baca ended in a mistrial. So prosecutors adjusted their case this time around.

The addition of new witnesses, elimination of others, and playing excerpts of Baca’s interview were an attempt by prosecutors to address what jurors from the first trial said was a fundamental problem with the government’s case: A lack of hard evidence tying Baca directly to the plot to interfere with the FBI investigation.

In the face of the government’s adjustments, Baca’s attorney, Nathan Hochman, stuck largely to the script that almost won Baca his freedom in the first trial. He argued that Tanaka took advantage of the sheriff’s trust, keeping Baca in the dark while he carried out the obstruction scheme. And as before, Hochman tried to poke holes in the government’s case by emphasizing the lack of any smoking gun that proves Baca’s guilt.

USA! USA! USA! WE’RE NO. 1

Americans use far more opioids than anyone else in the world

By Keith Humphreys

The Washington Post
March 15, 2017

The number of opioid prescriptions has decreased in the past few years, after more than a decade of explosive growth. This reflects new practice guidelines underscoring opioids’ generally poor effectiveness at reducing chronic pain, increased monitoring of prescribers by government and health-care organizations, and widespread horror within and without medicine over the epidemic of opioid-related deaths.

Although reducing the number of prescriptions will decrease the number of people who become addicted to opioids, too many prescribing restrictions could deny opioids to patients who need and benefit from them. How can we know if and when prescribing controls have gone overboard and the population has insufficient access to prescription opioids? In short, how will we know if the effort to restrict opioids has gone too far?

United Nations data provide one important benchmark against which to judge how much more or less opioid consumption might be appropriate for a given country. And what it finds about the United States is jaw-dropping: Even when the list is restricted to the top 25 heaviest consuming countries, the United States outpaces them all in opioid use.

For example, Americans are prescribed about six times as many opioids per capita as are citizens of Portugal and France, even though those countries offer far easier access to health care. The largest disparity noted in the U.N. report concerns hydrocodone: Americans consume more than 99 percent of the world’s supply of this opioid.

One might think that Americans consume more opioids because as an aging population, they have objectively more aches and pains. But the U.S. population ranks only 42nd in the world in its proportion of people aged 65 or older. Countries with a much higher proportion of senior citizens than the United States, such as Australia and Italy, consume only a fraction of the prescription opioids of Americans.

If objective need doesn’t explain the relatively enormous prescription opioid consumption in the United States, what does? Economics, politics and culture are all likely at play.

Unlike most of the developed world, the United States puts minimal constraints on aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies, whether the target is patients, prescribers, or medical and scientific societies. U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers have been highly successful at promoting prescription opioids in this lightly regulated, profit-driven health-care environment.

The huge profits of opioid manufacturers and distributors translate into significant political clout, further supporting expanding U.S. opioid consumption. For example, as previously reported in The Washington Post, when federal drug agents began holding opioid distribution companies accountable for shipping massive numbers of opioids to pill mills, lobbyists from the industry successfully pressured the Justice Department’s leadership to curtail the investigation.

Cultural factors may augment U.S. opioid consumption, as well. Relative to Europeans, Americans have more faith that life is perfectible (e.g., all pain can be avoided). Consider, for example, a 55-year-old who feels acute back and leg pain after doing the workout that was easy when he was 25. A European in this situation might reflect sadly that aging and physical decay must be accepted as part of life, but an achy American might demand that his doctor fix what he sees as an avoidable problem by prescribing him opioids.

None of this means that some Americans don’t have a legitimate need for opioids, nor that U.S. doctors sometimes don’t prescribe opioids when they should. But it does suggest that before launching into hysteria that the recent, small drops in opioid prescribing reflect a “war on pain patients,” we should recognize that U.S. consumption dwarfs that of other developed countries that have older populations with better access to prescribing health-care providers.

‘FAT LEONARD’ BRIBERY CASE IS WORST CORRUPTION CASE IN NAVY HISTORY

Admiral, seven others charged with corruption in additional ‘Fat Leonard’ indictment

By Craig Whitlock

The Washington Post
March 14, 2017

The Justice Department unsealed a fresh indictment Tuesday charging eight Navy officials — including an admiral — with corruption and other crimes in the “Fat Leonard” bribery case, escalating an epic scandal that has dogged the Navy for four years.

Among those charged were Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a senior Navy intelligence officer who recently retired from a key job at the Pentagon, as well as four retired Navy captains and a retired Marine colonel. The charges cover a period of eight years, from 2006 through 2014.

The Navy personnel are accused of taking bribes in the form of lavish gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays courtesy of Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of tens of millions of dollars.

The indictment lists page after page of bribes allegedly provided to the defendants including $25,000 watches, $2,000 boxes of Cohiba cigars, $2,000 bottles of cognac and $600-per-night hotel rooms.

According to the charging documents, Francis also frequently sponsored wild sex parties for many officers assigned to the USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, and other warships.

During a port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in May 2008, for example, five of the Navy officers attended a “raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitutes,” at the Shangri-La Hotel, according to the indictment. The group allegedly drank the hotel’s entire supply of Dom PĂ©rignon champagne and rang up expenses exceeding $50,000, which Francis covered in full.

On another port visit by the Blue Ridge to Manila in February 2007, Francis allegedly hosted a sex party for officers in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila hotel. During the party, “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts,” according to the indictment.

In exchange, according to federal prosecutors, the officials provided Francis with classified or inside information that enabled his firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, to gouge the Navy out of tens of millions of dollars.

Federal agents fanned out across six states Tuesday in a coordinated operation to arrest the defendants, authorities said.

Loveless, the retired admiral, was arrested at his home in Coronado, Calif. The Navy had announced in November 2013 that he was under scrutiny by the Justice Department and suspended his access to classified material. He was allowed to retire last fall.

Navy officials have said that about 30 admirals are under investigation, although only a handful have been named publicly.

Robert Gilbeau, a one-star admiral, was convicted last June after he pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators about his contacts with Francis. He has since retired. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month in federal court.

Separately, the Navy has censured or disciplined three admirals for ethics violations after they accepted lavish meals and other gifts from Francis.

Others taken into custody Tuesday included David Newland, 60, a retired captain from San Antonio; James Dolan, 58, a retired captain from Gettysburg, Pa.; David Lausman, a retired captain from The Villages, Fla.; and Donald Hornbeck, a retired captain who lives in Britain.

Agents also arrested Enrico de Guzman, a retired Marine colonel from Hono¬lulu; Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Shedd, an active-duty officer from Colorado Springs; and Robert Gorsuch, 48, of Virginia Beach, a retired chief warrant officer.

None of the defendants could be reached for comment Tuesday. The charges against them include bribery, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators.

All of the accused officers formerly held key positions on the command staff of the Japan-based 7th Fleet and were bribed by Francis because they could help steer business to Glenn Defense Marine Asia, according to court papers.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego with the assistance of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

“This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions,” said Alana W. Robinson, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. She said the defendants “worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor and not those of their own country.”

The new indictment brings the number of people charged with crimes in the Fat Leonard investigation to 27. Ten current and former Navy officials have pleaded guilty so far.

Prosecutors say the case is still unfolding and that more than 200 people have come under scrutiny.

The scandal is the worst corruption case in Navy history and has rocked the service since Francis was arrested in September 2013 in an international sting operation that lured him from Singapore to San Diego. Francis pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges two years ago. and court papers indicate he has been cooperating with authorities.

Over time, the investigation has revealed the ease with which the 6-foot-3-inch, 350-pound defense contractor was able to penetrate the senior ranks of the 7th Fleet and recruit moles to work on his behalf.

Court papers portray Francis as a master manipulator who persuaded Navy officials to feed him classified information about ship movements and confidential contract information that he used to undercut his competitors.

Corrupt Navy personnel have also pleaded guilty to leaking Francis sensitive law enforcement files that he exploited for years to thwart dozens of failed criminal investigations into his company.

Despite rising signs of widespread fraud, the Navy kept awarding business to Francis’s company to resupply its ships and submarines throughout Asia. In 2011, Glenn Defense won deals valued at $200 million to service U.S. vessels at ports stretching from the Russian Far East to Australia. The contracts were canceled after Francis’s arrest in 2013.

While Francis was already legendary within the Navy for his hedonistic parties, the indictment unsealed Tuesday provided fresh details of how senior officers with the 7th Fleet allegedly became accustomed to living the high life at ports throughout Asia, at Francis’s expense.

In February 2007, for example, Francis splurged for $50,000 worth of shopping, dining and luxury hotel rooms for Newland, de Guzman and others during a port visit to Singapore, prosecutors allege.

The next month, in Tokyo, the defense contractor allegedly took Newland, de Guzman, Hornbeck and others to the luxurious Oak Door restaurant, according to the indictment. The meal included foie gras, lobster thermidor, Sendai tenderloin, cognac and cigars.

For dessert: the “Liberte Sauvage,” the winning cake at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, a prestigious international baking contest.

During a four-day visit by the Blue Ridge to Hong Kong in January 2008, Francis provided rooms for Dolan, Hornbeck, Loveless and Shedd at the J.W. Marriott hotel at a price of $626 per night, court papers say.

Then he took all of them — plus Lausman — out for an extravagant dinner in a private room at the Petrus Restaurant overlooking Hong Kong harbor, according to the indictment.

That eight-course meal featured black truffle soup, rock lobster salad, osetra caviar, pan-seared duck liver with pear and sunchoke, Dover sole, grilled Wagyu beef tenderloin, fine cheeses and baked Alaska for dessert, court papers show.

Each course was paired with wine or Champagne. The total bill: $18,371.

Afterward Hornbeck, who at the time served as the 7th Fleet’s deputy chief of staff for operations, emailed Francis a thank-you note, according to the indictment. “The food, music and wine were wonderful,” he wrote.

Hornbeck, who was preparing to retire from the Navy, also sounded out Francis to see if he might be willing to hire him. “If you are still considering opening an office in San Diego in the near-future, I would very much be interested in being a part of that,” he wrote.

The job never materialized. But court papers show that Francis showered the Navy captain with other gifts, including $13,000 to pay for a culinary internship for a relative of Hornbeck’s at the Chalet Suisse restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

COP’S RAPE OF SMALL ANIMAL LEADS TO TEXAS BILL OUTLAWING BESTIALITY

Texas Bill Would (Finally) Make it Illegal to Have Sex With an Animal

By Craig Malisow

Houston Press
March 15, 2017

You know it's time for the human race to pack it in and call it a day when the need arises to pass a state bill criminalizing sex with animals.

But that's what State Rep. Carol Alvarado is trying to do with her introduction of what her office calls "landmark animal rights legislation," which is a nicer way of saying "Bestiality Bill." (Texas is one of only eight states without bestiality laws on the books, according to Alvarado's office).

In skin-crawling detail, House Bill 1087 lays out most permutations of person-on-animal sexual activity, including dry-humping. We say "most" permutations, because the bill overlooks actions that don't involve an animal's orifices. Not sure how to put this delicately, but, per the bill's current text, it apparently wouldn't be illegal to put a cat paw/donkey hoof/aardvark nose in any of your orifices. But we can certainly understand how normal, non-animal-rapists can forget to cover all the bases in a bill that highlights one of the darkest corners of the soul.

The bill would make sexual assault of animal a state jail felony, which carries a sentence of 6 months to two years. However, it could be enhanced to a second-degree felony (2-20 years) if the animal is killed or seriously injured.

Alvarado's chief of staff Alex Hammond told us the bill was spurred by the Harris County District Attorney's Office and the Humane Society of the United States, which noted that there have been some instances — like the January arrest of ex-Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Sustaita Jr. — where prosecutors have been unable to charge someone with animal rape, even when the act was caught on tape.

Authorities say Sustaita recorded himself sexually assaulting an animal — one source claimed to KTRK it was a small dog — but, without a bestiality bill, prosecutors were only able to charge him with obscenity. The charge, along with child pornography-related charges, was later dismissed, and Sustaita was charged with sexual exploitation of children in federal court. (On a side note, Sustaita's case is the only one we've seen so far where prosecutors sought a "no contact" order to keep Sustaita away from domesticated and farm animals).

This deserves a big "Eeewwww!" and a hearty "Thanks, Rep. Alvarado." Unless there are some real weirdos in the legislature, we assume this bill will sail through, and animals throughout the land can sleep better at night. Now if you'll excuse us, it's time for a Clorox shower.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some Texas farmers and ranchers are going to be unhappy with this bill. It means they’re going to have to go into town on Saturday evenings and look for sex with women.

Some pig farmers are going to have a real problem because they can’t get the swine stench off their bodies even after they shower. That makes it nearly impossible to attract women, even some prostitutes.

KNIFING CARS ATTRACTS POLICE ATTENTION

by Bob Walsh

On Monday evening of this week the local constabulary responded to a shopping center in Napa, CA. They found a man stabbing and slashing at cars in the lot. When the cops showed up the knife-wielder somehow attracted their immediate attention and it ended with both cops firing multiple shots at the man. He died.

Witnesses state the dead guy was screaming, kicking at and knifing cars and in general acting aggressive and crazy. I can't help but think that there is some substance abuse involved in this. I also can't help but think that the man's demise is no great loss to society, though I am confident his family will find a lawyer who disagrees.

DEMOCRATS STAMPEDE INTO NEW ZEALAND (?)

by Bob Walsh

It seems that Hobbit-Land is experiencing a modest influx of ex-pat Americans. In the first 12 weeks since the election of Donald Trump 170 Americans have applied for citizenship in New Zealand, up from 100 during a similar period of time last year.

You must, generally speaking, live in New Zealand for five years before applying for citizenship though there are exceptions for people who have one or more parents who have New Zealand citizenship.

During the two days after the election the number of inquires into the webs site concerning New Zealand citizenship jumped from s normal 305 to 4,145.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bob, would you check to see if Rosie O'Donnell and Barbara Streisand were among the applicants.

IN FEDERAL COURT ….. OVER A TRAFFIC TICKET

Howard Herships argues: “Here we have a system in California in which the traffic court judge must find the traffic court defendant guilty [in order] to maintain the [court’s] funding”

by Matthew Kramer

Capitol Weekly
March 14, 2017

Traffic tickets aren’t so out of the ordinary – until you get to Howard Herships’ case.

After being caught by a red light camera on a right turn in suburban Sacramento, Herships, 73, contested the $200 ticket.

His fight has proven costly to Herships, who lost his driver’s license: The 2014 ticket penalty ballooned more than eight-fold to a whopping $1,665 in addition to a $55 driver’s license reinstatement fee, costs Herships said he couldn’t afford.

But the crux of the case isn’t the ticket. It’s the way California’s court system pays the salaries of its judges and employees. Judges impose fines, then use that money to pay themselves and other court workers, Herships argues.

“The judge who finds you guilty, his salary and benefits – health insurance and everything else – is paid for out of the guilty verdict,” Herships said. “It doesn’t make sense…you can’t have any financial interest in the outcome of the case.”

So Herships has gone to federal court to block the practice, citing a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision and a March 2016 U.S. Justice Department letter to prosecutors across the country saying judicial authorities should have no pecuniary interest in the fines they impose. He is seeking a court order to block the practice in California, targeting the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the Sacramento County Superior Court and the California Judicial Council, which administers the state court system.

Herships contends that California’s courts use traffic fines as self-funding revenue streams, despite the Supreme Court decision and the Justice Department’s directive. Representing himself in court, Herships filed the original suit on the grounds that he and millions of Californians had had their licenses illegally suspended after failure to pay exorbitant traffic fines and grossly inflated related fees. The traffic courts are directly funding their daily operating costs through these traffic fines – and this, he claims, represents a conflict of interest. He also contends that the courts don’t properly hold hearings on a defendant’s ability to pay the fine.

By one estimate, $858 million were raised in 2013 -2014, and these fees rose to the tune of several billion dollars over five years. According to a January 2016 report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state has $11.2 billion in outstanding fees, uncollected by fined residents.

After being denied an initial state court hearing on his ability to pay the fine, Herships went to federal court. He asked that the state halt license-suspension practices and hold ability-to-pay hearings for those facing enforcement over traffic infractions.

In his case, the hearing denial was illegal, he says. He cited a state court rule — Rule 4.335 – which requires that one of the factors a judge must weigh in deciding whether to order an ability- to-pay hearing is a defendant’s “receipt of public benefits,” including Medi-Cal. Herships receives health coverage through Medi-Cal.

Herships followed up by seeking a restraining order against the state agencies involved.

On Feb. 6, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers and representatives of the California Judicial Council held a conference with Herships. Out of that conference it was agreed that a ruling on his restraining order request would be given. The federal court ordered the state reply to his request for a restraining order — which the state did this week, opposing the restraining order — and Herships was given until March 20 to respond to the state. Rogers will then decide whether to issue the restraining order.

If the order is granted, Herships said that will be end of the case for him. But such a restraining order would only be temporary – and if Herships ultimately wins in court it could set a precedent and represent a landmark legal alteration which Herships said could cost the state of California approximately $2 billion in dismissed fines.

Herships remains determined if not optimistic.

“I’m requesting a temporary restraining order prohibiting their conduct,” he said. “You never get a fair determination; the judge has to look out where his paycheck is coming from.”

In part, his suit stems from the March 2016 “Dear Colleagues” memorandum. The letter from the Department’s Civil Rights Division and Office for Public Access said that “recent years have seen an increased attention on the illegal enforcement of fines and fees in certain jurisdictions around the country,” often for misdemeanors and civil infractions.

“Typically, courts do not sentence defendants to incarceration in these cases; monetary fees are the norm,” the letter noted, adding that when the fines “are not geared toward public safety but rather toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality” of the judicial system.

As part of his federal court filing in Oakland, Herships cited a 1972 decision, Ward v. Village of Monroeville. In that case, which involved an Ohio village official who also served as a judge and imposed fines that supported the court, in which the U.S. Supreme Court gave the opinion:

“This, too, is a situation in which an official perforce occupies two practically and seriously inconsistent positions, one partisan and the other judicial, [and] necessarily involves a lack of due process of law in the trial of defendants charged with crimes before him.”

Herships believes this is a strong boon to his own case, where he sees a conflict of interest between the court’s role in imposing fines and, he claims, standing to profit from the collection of those fines.

“Here we have a system in California in which the traffic court judge must find the traffic court defendant guilty to maintain the funding based upon the penalty assessments, fines, and fees which total $1 billion annually,” Herships said in an email.

Parallel to Herships’ case is SB 185 – a bill put forward by state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. SB 185 would halt the automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for people unable to pay fines and fees for minor traffic tickets. Further, it would require that courts determine an individual’s ability to pay on a case by case basis before setting fine amounts, according to Hertzberg’s office.

Capitol Weekly previously reported that one in six California drivers, approximately 4.2 million people, have suspended licenses because of inability to pay fines. This was the impetus for Hertzberg’s bill.

“Under existing law, it is virtually impossible for the driver’s license to be restored until all the unpaid fees, fines and assessments are completely paid. This jeopardizes economic stability in the state, limits the available workforce, and forces employers to bear the cost of replacing workers and finding qualified replacement workers with valid licenses,” according to Hertzberg’s office.

Whether Herships’ own case is decided in his favor or not it has already set a precedent in how far it has been taken. What follows the decision over a temporary restraining order remains to be seen.

The DMV and the Judicial Council returned request for comment saying that they have a policy to not comment on ongoing litigation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The old fart did an outstanding job of presenting his case. I hope he prevails!