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News of the Week
Each week we produce a page of news that can be used for reference to the weekly shows here at murrayTALK. Please notice that the following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the concerned PURPLE community. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We simply present this page each week as a convenience to our followers.
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October 2019 - Week 1

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FEATURES - Speaking Purple

from The New York Times

These 526 Voters Represent All of America. And They Spent a Weekend Together.

by Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy

Put a diverse group of people in a room, the political scientists James Fishkin and Larry Diamond argue, and they're likely to mute their harshest views and wrestle more deeply with rebuttals. They become more informed, even more empathetic. And in this setting, the political scientists say, pollsters can get a picture of what people believe when they're not just relying on sound bites and tribal cues.

In Texas in late September, Mr. Fishkin and Mr. Diamond were trying this experiment ahead of the 2020 election with a microcosm of American voters, each one selected from a nationwide survey of thousands of households to resemble the country's demographic diversity. “America in One Room,” the event was called.

Participants wore nametags without any indication of partisanship, and in the conversations that resulted, it was often hard to tell which camp to place voters in.

A nonpartisan group named Helena raised about $3 million to fly everyone here to a hotel and convention center with cowboy-themed carpets, 10 restaurants and an indoor river walk. The research institution NORC at the University of Chicago conducted in-depth surveys of the group and worked to find the right representation of voters, calling some of them two, three, four times to coax them onto planes or away from home — sometimes for the first time in their lives.

Many of the voters were sure at first that the invitation was a scam — an all-expenses-paid trip to a Texas resort to … give their opinions?

Over four days, mostly in small groups, they debated foreign policy, health care, immigration, the economy and the environment. They talked through policy proposals in a 55-page briefing booklet that made little mention of whom the proposals came from. Partisan trigger words — Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives — were, by design, largely missing from the text.

Often, the language voters used was personal rather than political.

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About the survey
The registered voters in “America in One Room” were drawn from AmeriSpeak, a nationally representative panel developed by NORC at the University of Chicago.

The sample was designed to be representative of registered voters by age, race, gender, educational attainment and geography. For many of these variables — like being age 40 to 49, or living in New England — the group pictured above closely matches the population of registered voters in America, even without survey weights. But, without survey weights, white voters were underrepresented (64 percent of the group was non-Hispanic white, compared with 73 percent in census data), as were voters who did not attend college (10 percent of the group, compared with 27 percent among all registered voters). And combinations of these variables are not necessarily representative. For example, young white voters were underrepresented.


https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/02/upshot/these-526-voters-represent-america.html

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Public Safety 101


LAPD & LA County Sheriff -- How are they doing?

We'll explore how listeners feel about their local law enforcement agencies. How safe do they feel? How good is the local quality of life in their home town and what can be done to make things better?

We'll continue this discussion ..

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Law Enforcement

The Washington Post

Why did Park Police officers kill Bijan Ghaisar?

Nearly two years have passed since officers shot nine times at an unarmed man after a minor accident. There remains no explanation for why they did it.

by Lee Hockstader and Sergio Peçanha

A man is rear-ended in a fender bender on the George Washington Parkway in Northern Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington. He drives off. Two U.S. Park Police officers chase him and, minutes later, repeatedly shoot him in the head. The man, Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant, dies after 10 days in a coma.

Nearly two years later, the FBI has released virtually no information about its investigation into the police shooting. But police videos of the shooting raise questions that must be answered: What threat was so grave that the officers seemingly ignored protocol, and common sense, to shoot an unarmed man multiple times at point-blank range? And why are the FBI and federal prosecutors taking so long?

The incident, on Nov. 17, 2017, begins when Ghaisar's Jeep Grand Cherokee suddenly stops on the southbound parkway and is hit from behind by an Uber driver in a Toyota Corolla. It's a minor incident; no one is hurt, and property damage is slight.

Most of what is known about that evening comes from a video released by the Fairfax County Police Department. It was recorded by a police cruiser that was trailing Ghaisar's Jeep and the Park Police SUV chasing him.

7:38 p.m.

The recording released to the public starts at 7:38 p.m., approximately nine minutes after Ghaisar's vehicle is rear-ended. A few seconds into the video, Ghaisar stops in the right lane. The Park Police vehicle pulls just in front of him.

In most traffic stops, the police car would stop behind the vehicle in question. In this case, the officers try to block Ghaisar's Jeep, then approach his vehicle with guns drawn. Conceivably, that might be authorized if officers believe a suspect has committed a felony in leaving the scene of an accident. But leaving the scene of an accident becomes a felony in Virginia only if there is an injury or more than $1,000 in damage. Neither seems to apply in this case, though it is unclear whether the officers knew that.

A few seconds after he is stopped, Ghaisar slowly edges to the right and drives off, leaving the two officers behind. One of them bangs his weapon on the window of Ghaisar's Jeep as it pulls away.

“That traffic stop was bad police procedure,” said Cedric L. Alexander, a psychologist who was a police chief in Rochester, N.Y, and DeKalb County, Ga. “It didn't give the officers adequate cover. When he bangs on the window, there's nothing there procedurally that I am familiar with. He could have accidentally fired the weapon, it could have hurt himself or someone.”

Blocking a vehicle is not authorized in many police departments because it creates an unsafe situation — the evading driver could run into the police car or the officers. The most common procedure is to pull behind a suspect and approach the vehicle cautiously.

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from Dept of Justice

Inland Empire Man Sentenced to Nearly 6 Years in Federal Prison for Bogus Debt-Elimination Services that Cost Victims $1.6 Million

by Nicola T. Hanna - United States Attorney, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A Riverside man was sentenced today to 70 months in federal prison for defrauding hundreds of victims, mainly distressed homeowners who paid thousands of dollars after attending seminars that promoted a “Free and Clear” program pitched by the defendant and his salespeople.

James Ignatius Diamond, 69, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner.

At the conclusion of a six-day trial in June, Diamond was found guilty by a jury of 15 counts of mail fraud affecting a financial institution and 15 counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution.

Between 2010 and 2013, Diamond sold fraudulent debt-elimination services to desperate victims whose finances had been ravaged by the Great Recession. Diamond owned and operated a number of businesses – including the Riverside-based Transmitting Assets Inc., Operation Safe Haven, Buyer Beware, and Unlimited Logistics Corp. – through which he fraudulently offered services that he claimed could wipe out the debts of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments and other debts.

Diamond personally pitched the “Diamond Home Reclamation Method” to solicit victims with false promises that his methods would entirely eliminate their mortgages and allow people to own their homes “free and clear.”

Relying on the false representations, victims paid substantial fees, including an upfront fee – typically $3,500, payable only in cash, money orders or cashier's checks – periodic program fees, and inflated notary fees. After paying the upfront fee, victims were required to sign and notarize documents, which they were instructed to send to financial institutions and government agencies – documents prosecutors described in court documents as “fraudulent and nonsensical.”

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from Dept of Justice

San Fernando Valley Swindler Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Conning Elderly Victims Out of Their Homes and Money

by Nicola T. Hanna - United States Attorney, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A long-time con artist was sentenced today to 240 months in federal prison for running a multimillion-dollar real estate scam that conned elderly people out of their homes, gouging them with fraudulent threats of litigation and extorting monthly payments for illegal foreclosure and eviction delay.

Michael “Mickey” Henschel, 70, of Van Nuys, was sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips. A restitution hearing in this matter has been scheduled for December 2.

Henschel pleaded guilty on May 13 to one count of mail fraud after spending years filing fraudulent documents on homeowners' properties, and then using the fraudulent filings and fraudulent litigation to steal money from victims, sometimes stealing homes outright, and other times extorting settlement payments in actual or threatened civil litigation.

Henschel – who used various aliases, including “Frank Winston,” “Steve Lopez” and “Ron Berman” – and his co-conspirators deceived vulnerable homeowners – typically elderly people in financial distress, some of whom spoke limited English. Henschel tricked the homeowners into signing fraudulent deeds on their properties with false promises that the deeds would help homeowners protect properties from creditors or enable them to get equity out of the properties. Unbeknownst to his victims, the deeds described fake loans that the homeowners were supposedly guaranteeing for third parties, and in signing the deeds, they were pledging their houses as collateral for these fake loans. Henschel used the fraudulent deeds to steal homes and money from the victims.

In total, the scheme generated more than $17 million in profits. Henschel's fraudulent conduct also caused losses to mortgage lenders in connection with lawful foreclosure actions and to purchasers of foreclosed properties in depriving them of lawful possession to those properties.

Henschel's criminal conduct devastated his victims, leaving some of them penniless. Many other victims had to face financial insecurity – even homelessness – in their old age as they struggled to pay for basic necessities such as food and clothing. Several victims lost homes that their families had owned for generations.

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from Dept of Justice

Federal Grand Jury Charges 3 Men in Scheme to Distribute Fentanyl-Laced Pills that Caused Overdose Death of Rapper Mac Miller

by Nicola T. Hanna - United States Attorney, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – Three men were named today in a federal grand jury indictment that alleges they distributed narcotics, including counterfeit pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of hip-hop artist Mac Miller.

Cameron James Pettit, 28, of West Hollywood; Stephen Andrew Walter, 46, of Westwood; and Ryan Michael Reavis, 36, a former West Los Angeles resident who relocated to Lake Havasu, Arizona earlier this year, were charged in a three-count indictment.

All three defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances resulting in death and distribution of fentanyl resulting in death – each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a potential sentence of life without parole. Walter alone is charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition, which, if he were to be convicted, would result in a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, the three defendants distributed narcotics to 26-year-old Malcolm James McCormick – who recorded and performed under the name Mac Miller – approximately two days before McCormick suffered a fatal drug overdose in Studio City on September 7, 2018. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner later determined that McCormick died of mixed drug toxicity involving fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.

According to the indictment, late on the night of September 4, Pettit agreed to supply McCormick with 10 “blues” – a street term for oxycodone pills – as well as cocaine and the sedative Xanax. But, instead of providing McCormick with genuine oxycodone when he made the delivery during the early morning hours of September 5, Pettit allegedly sold McCormick counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl – a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. The indictment alleges that Pettit ordered the fentanyl-laced pills from Walter, and then Reavis delivered the narcotics to Pettit.

Investigators believe that McCormick died after snorting the counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and that those pills had been provided by Pettit, according to court documents. While another individual allegedly supplied McCormick with other drugs prior to his death, those narcotics did not contain fentanyl, according to court documents.

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from Dept of Justice

Federal Indictments Charge 21 Rollin' 30s Crips Gang Members and Associates with Narcotics Distribution and Firearms Offenses

by Nicola T. Hanna - United States Attorney, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – Ten members and associates of the South Los Angeles-based Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips street gang were arrested today pursuant to six federal grand jury indictments that charge a total of 21 defendants with conspiring to traffic narcotics, such as crack cocaine that allegedly was sold at a minimart and in front of a public library.

The defendants arrested today are expected to be arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

The main indictment stemming from the investigation into the Rollin' 30s charges 14 gang members and associates with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute crack cocaine in the territories they claim to control. Specifically, this indictment alleges that the lead defendant – gang leader Angelo Gabriel Reed, 39, a.k.a., “Maniac” and “Yacc,” of Inglewood – “cooked” crack cocaine in his kitchen and then sold it through a variety of methods. Reed allegedly distributed the drug outside a Los Angeles Public Library branch in Exposition Park and in a nearby park, the indictment alleges.

Between May 2017 and April 2018, Reed allegedly oversaw a crew that sold drugs on the street, delivered drugs to other distributors and customers, and collected illicit narcotics proceeds on Reed's behalf. During the course of the conspiracy, Reed allegedly was involved in supplying, cooking and distributing more than 280 grams of crack cocaine.

One of the other indictments alleges that Rollin' 30s members last year sold cocaine at an Exposition Park minimart that appeared closed, but was widely known as gang hangout where illegal narcotics were sold. After law enforcement performed two undercover buying operations at the minimart, a search warrant resulted in the seizure of a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol, dozens of rounds of live ammunition, drug paraphernalia, and baggies of cocaine, according to the indictment.

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LA County Sheriff's Dept

from The Los Angeles Times

Deputy prevails in case against county

Plaintiff claimed retaliation after raising misconduct allegations. Won an $8.1-million verdict.

by Alene Tchekmedyian

As a trainee, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Rodriguez said he had a recurring thought while on patrol with his training officer: Oh, man, we’re going to end up in federal prison.

The officer, he said, instructed him to lie on a report documenting the arrest of a man found with a meth pipe. She’d routinely harass people in motel parking lots for no reason, he said, and those who slept along shopping center walkways.

Rodriguez alleged he suffered retaliation and harassment while assigned to the Industry station — which at the time was led by Undersheriff Tim Murakami, now the Sheriff’s Department’s No. 2 official — after he complained about the misconduct. He alleged that Murakami told him he’d “find something” to get Rodriguez fired.

Sheriff’s officials denied the allegations, but on Friday, a jury in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom sided with Rodriguez, awarding him $8.1 million and concluding that he faced “severe and pervasive” harassment after protesting illegal orders.

“They killed his career,” Alan Romero, Rodriguez’s attorney, told jurors before they began deliberating late Wednesday afternoon. “How much does it cost to kill someone’s dreams?”

Murakami testified that the allegations against the training officers were without merit and that he did not retaliate against the deputy.

An attorney representing L.A. County told jurors that Rodriguez was unprepared to take on the rigors of patrol training and was investigated for several policy violations, including failing to report that he had a second job.

“Mr. Rodriguez blames everyone else for his failures,” the county’s attorney, Tomas Guterres, told jurors. He added later, “There was no harassing conduct. What they were doing was investigating violations of their policy.”

Guterres, among a team of lawyers representing the county, declined to comment on the verdict.

The Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that it is disappointed in the verdict and plans to “vigorously appeal” the decision.

Rodriguez, who has been on medical leave since 2016, alleged that the retaliation began in 2014 after he reported his field training officer, Joanne Arcos, now a sergeant in the department, for instructing him to lie on a report.

He testified that Arcos told him to write that they found a pipe in a man’s pocket when it was really hidden in the center console of his vehicle under a pile of papers.

He pointed to another incident he said still haunts him. Arcos, he said, threatened to have the Department of Children and Family Services remove a woman’s children when the woman refused to help her contact a man she wanted to question.

“This isn’t what I signed up for,” Rodriguez said he told a supervisor after the incident. The supervisor, he said, rolled his eyes.

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Homeland Terrorism


from The Los Angeles Times – 100 years ago – (it's not always guns)

From the Archives: The 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times

In observance of the 100th anniversary of the bombing of the Los Angeles Times, reporter Lew Irwin wrote in Oct. 3, 2010, editions:

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Oct. 1, 1910, 100 years ago Friday, a time bomb constructed of 16 sticks of 80% dynamite connected to a cheap windup alarm clock exploded in an alley next to the Los Angeles Times. It detonated with such violence that for blocks around, people ran panic-stricken into the streets, believing that an intense earthquake had hit the city.

The explosion destroyed the Times building, taking the lives of 20 employees, including the night city editor and the principal telegraph operator, and maiming dozens of others. Two other time bombs — intended to kill Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, the publisher of the newspaper, and Felix J. Zeehandelaar, the head of a Los Angeles business organization — were discovered later that morning hidden in the bushes next to their homes. Their mechanisms had jammed.

Eventually, two brothers, J.B. McNamara, who planted the bombs, and J.J. McNamara, an official of the International Assn. of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers union who ordered the attacks, were arrested, convicted and imprisoned.

The attack didn't stop the Oct. 1, 1910, issue of The Times; it was printed at the Los Angeles Herald.

Irwin's full article is online: Bombing of The Times in 1910 set labor back a generation.

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ARTICLES

China / Hong Kong

from The Los Angeles Times

Hong Kong seethes as masks are banned

The step is decried as a move toward martial law. Police shoot a second protester, 14.

PROTESTERS moved a statue depicting a demonstrator with gas mask, helmet and umbrella. The ban on face masks comes from a colonial-era emergency law.

by Alice Su and Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

HONG KONG — A 14-year-old was shot with live ammunition by a plainclothes police officer Friday — the second young protester to be shot by an officer with a live bullet this week — amid violent and chaotic protests as Hong Kong’s chief executive invoked a colonial-era emergency law to ban face coverings at public gatherings, sparking even more violent and chaotic protests.

Ugly clashes broke out in the suburb of Yuen Long, where the teen was shot.

A video circulated on social media shows black-clad protesters beating and throwing a firebomb at a plainclothes police officer in a white T-shirt, who then leaps out of the flames and drops a handgun on the ground. Local media reported that the policeman had shot a teenager.

Medical authorities confirmed that the 14-year-old protester was shot in the leg by live ammunition and hospitalized. Police issued a statement that an officer had fired a live round, but only because “his life was under serious threat.”

Meanwhile, two activists launched a last-ditch effort to obtain an interim injunction against the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which went into effect at midnight and bans face coverings. The High Court rejected the request just after 11:30 p.m.

Under the ordinance, anyone who wears a mask or paint obscuring their face during a public assembly, whether authorized or not, could face a fine of more than $3,000 and imprisonment for one year. Invoking the law is a move squarely aimed at protesters who have taken to the streets for four months.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a news briefing Friday that the law was intended to “create a deterrent effect against masked violent protesters” and “assist the police in law enforcement.”

As she spoke, thousands of protesters poured into the city streets, chanting, “Hong Kongers, resist!” and “Disband the police!”

Some burned Chinese flags and patriotic banners. Others vandalized restaurants reputed to be pro-Beijing. Many were spontaneous protesters coming out of school, work or home: office workers in suits, elderly couples, children in school uniforms, and men and women carrying laptops or purses.

Almost everyone wore a mask.

Invoked under an emergency law that gives power to the territory’s chief executive to implement “any regulations whatsoever which he may consider desirable in the public interest,” the announcement sparked fears that Hong Kong was slipping toward martial law.

“Carrie Lam wants to turn Hong Kong into China. This is only the start. Next, they censor the media, monitor our communications online, reporting people,” said Samuel, 18, a protester in a full-face mask who, like other protesters, asked not to use his full name for protection from authorities. “We have no way to keep ourselves safe anymore.”

The new law comes as public fury at Hong Kong’s police and government is at an all-time high, fueled by anger over a police officer’s shooting of protester Tsang Chi-kin, 18, in the chest on Tuesday, China’s National Day. Tsang, a high school student, has since been charged with rioting, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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OPINION

The Washington Post

How the Russian media is covering the Ukraine scandal

by Christian Caryl

The Russian media loves President Trump's latest scandal — which might surprise those Americans who think that the Kremlin automatically applauds everything he does. But it's not quite that simple.

It's a Monday night in Moscow, and Russia's flagship current affairs talk show is starting off with a screaming match.

The Russian political scientist Sergei Markov is assailing three Ukrainian guests on the other side of the studio: “We all know that Ukraine is a symbol of catastrophe,” he yells. “Comrades, what have you done to your country?” The Russian audience applauds.

The Ukrainians try to protest but Markov just talks over them. Footage shows their newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, arriving in New York for the United Nations General Assembly — also the venue of his meeting with Trump, whose dealings with Zelensky's government have enmeshed him in the biggest scandal of his administration.

But the hosts of “60 Minutes,” as the show is called, couldn't be happier. One of them, Yevgeny Popov, is broadcasting live from New York, where he's sitting with John Varoli, an American public relations consultant who learned to speak Russian during a stint as a journalist in St. Petersburg a few years ago. When Popov asks him about the president's prospects in 2020, Varoli replies: “I think his victory is almost guaranteed, because the economy is flourishing and growing. A majority of Americans support him.” Varoli, who hastens to add that he's not a Trump supporter, doesn't cite any polls. (Last week, Gallup put Trump's approval rating at 43 percent.) Varoli continues: “Trump is constantly breaking the law, but Obama also broke the law, Bush broke the law — all our presidents break the law.”

“Wow, what kind of country do you have?” asks Olga Skabeeva, who's moderating back in the studio in Moscow. “Everyone's breaking the law!” More applause. Then she takes a turn scolding the Ukrainians.

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OPINION

The Washington Post

Do Democrats realize McConnell would call the shots in a Senate impeachment trial?

by Henry Olsen

Few Democrats likely think that the Republican-controlled Senate will vote to remove President Trump from office if he is impeached. But they also have likely underestimated how a Republican-controlled Senate trial could be used to put Democrats on defense and exonerate the president.

The Senate has standing rules governing how impeachment trials are conducted. They do not establish many constraints on what the Senate can consider when sitting as a court. For example, there is no provision that the federal rules of evidencee or criminal procedure be employed. Thus, the federal prohibition against hearsay evidence need not be adhered to if the Senate chooses to disregard it.

The fact that Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would preside over that trial does not prevent the Senate from drafting its own bespoke procedures and rules. The Senate's impeachment rules provide that Roberts's evidentiary rulings can be subjected to a Senate vote and overturned according to the Senate's standing rules. Presuming motions to overturn such rulings are handled according to Senate Standing Rule XX governing questions of order, a simple majority of the Senate would be sufficient to overrule the chief justice. In other words, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), not Roberts, would be the de facto presiding officer if he so chooses.

It's not hard to see why McConnell would choose to use the Republican majority in such a fashion. Suppose the president's attorneys want to call Joe and Hunter Biden to testify about their activities in Ukraine. They would contend such testimony and investigation is necessary to exonerate the president as, under this theory, any acts he took to pressure the Ukrainian government to look into their activities would be a legitimate act to protect U.S. interests. The Republican base will also likely be whipped into a frenzy by the president's media defenders to look into the Bidens' alleged misdeeds. This type of defense probably wouldn't be permitted in a regular criminal trial, but why would McConnell stand meekly to one side when the chance to effectively put the former vice president on trial presented itself?

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OPINION

The Washington Post

John Bolton has finally spoken, and he put up a big warning sign about Trump and North Korea

by Aaron Blake

John Bolton spoke Monday in his first big public appearance since his acrimonious split with President Trump three weeks ago.

And while Bolton didn't weigh in on the growing Ukraine scandal, he did rebuke the Trump administration over one of its central foreign policy initiatives: the pursuit of a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Appearing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Bolton declined to directly address things that had occurred during his time in the White House. But he made few bones about his concerns surrounding Trump's continued pursuit of the elusive deal.

Bolton set the tone by noting early on that he was about to speak about North Korea in “unvarnished terms” and suggested that Kim was happy to see him outside the White House. Bolton then suggested that the negotiations between the two sides were very likely to be fruitless.

“I don't think the North Koreans will ever voluntarily give up enough” in negotiations, Bolton said, adding, “There is no basis to trust any promise that regime makes.”

Bolton said the United States should stop focusing on summits with Kim and instead pursue a harder approach involving possible regime change and even military force to stop the North Korean nuclear program.

He also suggested that the Trump administration, as it pursues a nuclear deal, is giving North Korea too much of a pass on its violations of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

“North Korea today, as we speak, is violating” those sanctions, Bolton said. “When the U.S. led the fight to get those resolutions, and we say we really don't care, other countries draw their own conclusion that they don't really care about enforcing sanctions.

“When you ask for consistent behavior from others, you have to demonstrate it yourself.”

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/30/john-bolton-has-finally-spoken-he-put-up-big-warning-sign-about-trump-north-korea/

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ARTICLES

North Korea

from The New York Times

Hours After Agreeing to Resume Talks, North Korea Launches Missile

by Choe Sang-Hun and David E. Sanger

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched at least one ballistic missile toward waters near Japan early Wednesday, just hours after announcing it had agreed to resume long-stalled talks with the United States over its nuclear weapons program.

The missile was launched from waters near Wonsan, a city east of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, the South Korean military said in a statement. It said that the missile, a version of the North's Pukguksong ballistic missile, flew 280 miles to the east while reaching a height of 565 miles.

It was unclear whether the missile that launched on Wednesday was fired from a submarine, a ship, or a platform on or under the water. The North's solid-fuel Pukguksong can be launched from either land or a submarine, although the office of President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said this projectile could have been the submarine-launched version.

North Korea last successfully launched its Pukguksong-1 in August 2016 after several test failures, but there have been indications since then that it was developing a more powerful version. In May 2017, it launched a land-based Pukguksong-2 missile.

Along with its intercontinental ballistic missiles, North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missile programs pose one of the biggest military threats to the United States and its regional allies because they can extend the range of the North's nuclear missiles. Submarine-launched missiles are also harder to detect in advance.

In July, the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, inspected a newly built submarine that South Korean officials said had three missile-launch tubes, compared with its older Sinpo-class submarine that could fire only one missile.

Japan said North Korea had launched a ballistic missile that flew far enough to fall in its exclusive economic zone. Wednesday's test was the first time a North Korean missile had landed in Japanese waters in nearly two years, evoking memories of a period when the Japanese public was awakened to alarms warning of potential missile landings.

The launch also comes as Japan and South Korea are increasingly at odds, and as the South plans to withdraw from a military intelligence sharing pact with Japan.

It was the ninth time North Korea had tested ballistic missiles or other projectiles since late July, and was its first weapons test since Sept. 10, when it fired what it called two super-large caliber rockets. After the last weapons test, Mr. Kim indicated that his country would conduct more tests of the same system.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/world/asia/us-north-korea-nuclear-talks.html

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Taxing the VERY Rich

from The New York Times

Democrats' Plans to Tax Wealth Would Reshape U.S. Economy

Proposals from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have raised concerns from economists and business leaders who fear the plans would sap economic growth.

by Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan

WASHINGTON — Progressive Democrats are advocating the most drastic shift in tax policy in over a century as they look to redistribute wealth and chip away at the economic power of the superrich with new taxes that could fundamentally reshape the United States economy.

As they compete for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have proposed wealth taxes that would shrink the fortunes of the richest Americans. Their plans envision an enormous transfer of money from the wealthy to ordinary people, with revenue from the wealth tax used to finance new social programs like tuition-free college, universal child care and “Medicare for all.”

The wealth taxes under discussion would deal a major blow to the balance sheets of American plutocrats like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. If the tax that Ms. Warren has called for had been in place since 1982, the net worth of the 15 richest Americans in 2018 would have been half as much, according to two economists who helped develop her plan. The Sanders wealth tax, which was released last week, would have eroded their fortunes even further, to barely one-fifth of their 2018 total.

The idea of a wealth tax has become an animating issue for the Democratic Party, which sees it as a solution to long-festering concerns about inequality and the rapid concentration of economic power among wealthy Americans. Its emergence is also an antidote to the policies of President Trump, whose $1.5 trillion tax cut largely benefited rich Americans and corporations while leaving future generations with the bill.

“We are living in the second Gilded Age,” said Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale University, referring to the stark wealth gap produced by the Industrial Revolution. “What we have once again is people both on the right and the left being provoked by the perception they are being left behind.”

But the idea of redistributing wealth by targeting billionaires is stirring fierce debates at the highest ranks of academia and business, with opponents arguing it would cripple economic growth, sap the motivation of entrepreneurs who aspire to be multimillionaires and set off a search for loopholes.

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/us/politics/sanders-warren-wealth-tax.html

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Abortion

from The Washington Post

Antiabortion law spreads in East Texas as ‘sanctuary city for the unborn' movement expands

by Emily Wax-Thibodeaux

City council meetings in East Texas address typical small-town issues, such as road contract approvals, tree removal and street closures for fall festivals and high school homecoming parades.

But a far more controversial agenda item has been appearing in this deeply conservative region of rural America: abortion.

Labeling it “murder with malice,” a growing number of town councils have been passing abortion bans and declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” Five towns have adopted the restrictive ordinance, which outlaws emergency contraception such as Plan B, criminalizes reproductive rights groups and fines doctors $2,000 for performing the procedure. A sixth East Texas town has adopted a more lenient version of the ordinance.

The activist behind the movement, Mark Lee Dickson, said he and antiabortion group Texas Right to Life plan to travel to more than 400 Texas municipalitiesto pitch the ban.

“This is a local issue because it impacts the most vulnerable — the unborn child,” Dickson said. “If we could do this in Texas, we can do this in cities and towns in Arizona, in Florida, in Iowa. It could happen all over the country.”

Texas has always been at the center of the abortion wars. Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, originated in the state. But this year, Texas didn't follow other Republican-held state legislatures in passing a “heartbeat law” that outlaws abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Dismayed by the lack of state action, Dickson and other antiabortion activists are bringing their cause “straight to the people” and lobbying town governments more adept at trash collection contracts than matters of constitutional law.

None of the new “sanctuary cities” — most with a population under 3,000 — have abortion clinics, but Dickson's goal is to prevent health centers that perform the procedure from moving into Waskom, Joaquin and other towns that adopt the restriction. Dickson also hopes to attract a legal challenge that forces the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.

But hundreds of miles west of these deep-red towns, another Texas city council is pushing the state's abortion politics in the opposite direction.

[ Map: The nation's widening gap in abortion laws ]

<< more >>

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/antiabortion-law-spreads-in-east-texas-as-sanctuary-city-for-the-unborn-movement-expands/2019/09/30/cfef46d8-daf1-11e9-bfb1-849887369476_story.html

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Impeachment

from Parliament, UK

Impeachment - from UK's House of Commons Library

Impeachment was a means by which Parliament could prosecute and try individuals, normally holders of public office, for high treason or other crimes and misdemeanours. Impeachment is considered obsolete, as it has been superseded by other forms of accountability, and the rules underpinning the procedure have not been adapted to modern standards of democracy or procedural fairness

What is impeachment?

The impeachment process was invented prior to the creation of popular political parties and the establishment of the conventions of collective and individual ministerial responsibility. When impeachment was used, for example in the 16th and 17th century, it represented the only means by which Parliament could dismiss an individual holding office under the Crown.

The first edition of Erskine May, published in 1844, describes impeachment as: “the commons, as a great representative inquest of the nation, first find the crime and then, as prosecutors, support their charge before the lords; while the lords exercising at once the functions of a high court of justice and of a jury, try and also adjudicate upon the charge preferred”.

When was impeachment used?

The first recorded use of the procedure was in 1376, when Lord Latimer was impeached. The procedure was last used, unsuccessfully, in 1806 for Lord Melville (Dundas). There have been fewer than seventy impeachments during the whole course of English history.

There are two distinct periods in which impeachment was relatively common; firstly in the 14th century until the establishment of the Tudor dynasty and secondly in the 17th and 18th centuries. A quarter of all of them occurred between 1640 and 1642, when parliamentarians revived the ancient right.

Why is impeachment considered obsolete?

The 1967 Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege listed impeachment as being among the existing privileges of the House in its corporate capacity. The committee recommended that the right to impeach should be formally abandoned via legislation. No such legislation was introduced. The recommendation was repeated in the third report from the Committee on Privileges in 1976-77. More recently the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege Report stated, in 1999, that ‘the circumstances in which impeachment has taken place are now so remote from the present that that the procedure may be considered obsolete.'

Impeachment operated in an era when Parliament and the courts had very limited oversight of government power. Different mechanisms have developed in modern politics to allow for the scrutiny of the executive. These include parliamentary questions, inquiries by select committees and independent committees of inquiry. The growth of the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility, and the use of confidence motions have both contributed to the disuse of impeachments in modern times. Judicial review also now provides an effective check on the legality of the actions of public officials and government ministers. The impeachment process, last attempted in 1806, has not been revised to reflect the fundamental changes that have occurred in Parliament.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7612

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Impeachment Briefing - end of week

OCTOBER 4, 2019

by Noah Weiland

Welcome back to the Impeachment Briefing, a special edition of the Morning Briefing that explains the latest developments in the House impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

I'm Noah Weiland, and I'm here to catch you up on the day's news, along with insights from the Washington bureau, where I work, and the rest of the Times newsroom.
Text messages between two top American envoys to Ukraine, about a week before President Trump's phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

What happened today

  • The chairmen of three House committees requested documents from Vice President Mike Pence, seeking materials that could shed light on President Trump's pressure campaign on Ukraine and any role that the vice president played in it. They gave him a deadline of Oct. 15.

  • House Democratic leaders were expected to send a subpoena to the White House for a vast trove of documents. The State Department is facing an end-of-day deadline for a separate subpoena to hand over other Ukraine documents.

  • The House Intelligence Committee privately questioned Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community watchdog who received the whistle-blower complaint that spurred the impeachment probe. Mr. Atkinson had conducted a preliminary investigation into the complaint's validity and deemed it urgent and credible.

  • Mr. Trump denied again on Friday that there had been any quid pro quo attached to his pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, but a new batch of text messages suggested that his own representatives saw things differently. One of them, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, eventually asked the group to move the conversation offline. That “clearly indicates an awareness of a record that could be created later,” my colleague Peter Baker told me.

Why is this all moving so quickly?

My colleague Mike Schmidt, who helped break the story last night about American envoys drafting a statement for Ukraine's president, called me this morning as he was eating breakfast to help me answer that question.

Mike, you covered Robert Mueller for two years. That investigation — the evidence-gathering and writing of the report — felt relentlessly plodding. This impeachment inquiry feels like it's moving at Mach speed. Why?

Mueller was premised on the idea that his investigators had to do their work in secret and then would release what they found. It was this self-contained thing inside the Justice Department, operating under the rules of a federal investigation that are designed to shield work from the public. Then you basically got a big dump of Thanksgiving dinner — the report — and you were supposed to sit there and try to wade through it.

What makes this impeachment investigation so different from one run by professional prosecutors?

The witnesses are scurrying to get their side out publicly to make sure it doesn't look like they were enabling the president. It propels the story forward at an incredible speed. These inspectors general, like Mr. Atkinson today, are not bound by the same rules of a federal investigation. They're sort of like free agents and can largely make reports to Congress without going through the Justice Department.

So should Democrats in Congress be grateful that they're the investigators this time around?

A lot of times, Congress is impeded by a federal investigation and can't get to a lot of the evidence or witnesses, because the F.B.I. says, “We're conducting an ongoing investigation.” That's a huge chill. While Democrats are upset there isn't an F.B.I. investigation, it has still freed up witnesses to cooperate with them. They benefit from being able to do it themselves.

Ambassador Who?

One through-line of the Trump presidency has been Mr. Trump trying to dissociate himself from people around him who have been linked to a controversy or alleged crime. He did it with Paul Manafort. He did it with Michael Cohen. He tried again today. “I don't even know most of these ambassadors,” he told reporters who asked him about the revealing text messages of American envoys. “I didn't even know their names.”

We put together a helpful graphic today that explains what was actually in those texts.

What else we're reading

  • Ukraine's top prosecutor said he would audit several investigations carried out by his predecessors, including a case involving a natural gas company that employed Mr. Biden's son.

  • The Oregonian wrote about Mr. Sondland, who is at the center of the Ukraine investigation. His parents escaped the Holocaust. He founded a Portland-based boutique hotel chain. Before his companies gave money to Mr. Trump's inauguration, he was a bundler for Mitt Romney.

  • Senator Ron Johnson said he was blocked by Mr. Trump in August from telling Ukraine's president that military aid was coming, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

  • Does John Cornyn know something we don't? The Texas senator tweeted this morning that the Justice Department was investigating Mr. Biden's “conflicts of interest.” Then one of his aides appeared to walk back the statement. When asked about it, Mr. Trump told reporters they should ask the attorney general.
  • “No pro quo,” Mr. Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House this morning while talking to reporters. Do we sense a new rally chant?

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Impeachment

The Washington Post

The Fix (9/30/19)

by Amber Phillips

Congress is technically out of town, but the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is moving forward. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is meeting with Democrats on the political front lines to get their take. Republicans are struggling to defend Trump's call with the Ukrainian president. And people close to Trump are being subpoenaed to talk to Congress. Meanwhile, two new polls show public support for impeachment is growing, but the country is still divided.

That's the backdrop. Here are the questions you have about how this will work. Keep 'em coming; I'll try to answer some in every newsletter going forward. And join me Tuesday at noon Eastern for my regular live chat about the week in politics, which will almost certainly center on impeachment.

What's the actual crime Trump is accused of?

He isn't charged with any crime. There doesn't need to be one. Congress can define “high crimes and misdemeanors” however it wants. Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry say the July call between Trump and the Ukranian president s evidence that he tried to involve a foreign power in U.S. elections and use his position of power as president to help his own reelection. They also want to uncover whether he held up taxpayer-funded military aid to Ukraine as leverage to get what he wants. But they're not trying to match these accusations to a specific crime.

That's in part because there's a decades-old Justice Department guideline that says a sitting president can't be indicted. Democrats argue he may have violated laws about witness tampering (he's indirectly threatened the whistleblower), and campaign finance laws saying that you can't solicit contributions from a foreign national, among other things. But because of that Justice guideline, he almost certainly won't be charged with any crimes while he holds office.

Another reader asked whether Democrats are successfully making the argument that you don't need a crime for impeachment. To which I say: If you all have questions about it, then probably not.

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Impeachment

from The Los Angeles Times

Impeachment's loose rules

The Constitution is not precise on how the process has to play out

by Sarah D. Wire

WASHINGTON — Amid allegations that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate one of his political rivals, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) opened a formal impeachment inquiry.

Trump has acknowledged that he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenesky to open investigations into Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. At the time of the July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Zelensky for this “favor,” the U.S. president had also put a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine.

Those actions — first disclosed in a whistleblower's complaint — are now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump insists the withholding of the aid was not related to his request that Ukraine investigate one of his leading political rivals in 2020.

Though three presidents have faced serious impeachment efforts, and two were impeached, the road ahead is only loosely laid out by the Constitution.

Here's a look at what's expected to happen next.

How does the House impeach a president?

Beyond saying it should be based on “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution provides surprising little information governing how to impeach a sitting president.

Just two presidents, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, have been impeached. President Richard Nixon resigned from office in 1974 when it became clear there were enough votes in the House to impeach him and in the Senate to remove him from office.

Each was handled differently.

In the Clinton and Nixon cases, the House Judiciary Committee held lengthy investigations and then recommended articles of impeachment to the full House. Johnson was impeached a few days after firing his secretary of war in violation of the Tenure of Office Act, which Congress had passed to keep him from changing the members of his Cabinet without their permission.

Pelosi has announced that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) will lead an investigation into the whistleblower's allegations, and along with five other committees, feed information about potential articles of impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee, which will then decide whether to forward any to the House for a vote.

If a majority of representatives supports even a single article, the president is impeached.

Doesn't the House have to vote to open an impeachment inquiry?

This has been the subject of much dispute. The House voted to open an inquiry into Nixon and Clinton, but when the House impeached President Andrew Johnson in 1868, it did not.

Pelosi has indicated she doesn't see such a vote as being necessary. Republicans, meanwhile, are using the lack of a vote to argue the inquiry isn't legitimate.

Just because the House voted to open an inquiry in the past doesn't mean it must always do so, Brookings Institution fellow Margaret L. Taylor said.

“There's no real technical reason for a full House vote,” Taylor said. “The Constitution does not prescribe how the House impeaches.”

Does this mean House Democrats are done with their other investigations into Trump and his administration?

No. The Financial Services Committee will continue seeking the president's financial records from Deutsche Bank.

The Ways and Means Committee is still seeking copies of Trump's tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. The Judiciary Committee will keep looking at Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election.

But at this point, any articles of impeachment are expected to focus on Ukraine and the whistleblower complaint.

Can the White House block the Ukraine investigation?

The Trump administration could try, and there have been some indications that it will resist the House inquiry. In other House investigations, the administration has refused to hand over documents or comply with subpoenas. When officials have appeared to testify before Congress, many have asserted they are covered by executive privilege and aren't able to answer questions.

But the stakes are much higher in an impeachment inquiry. White House attempts to stonewall the House impeachment investigation could themselves become grounds for impeachment.

“Now instead of Congress saying pretty please comply with our subpoenas, they can demand that people provide this testimony, and if they refuse to do so, use that refusal to do so by the White House as the basis for additional articles of impeachment,” said Susan Hennessey, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.

Congress used Nixon's refusal to hand over documents and audio as the basis of its third article of impeachment against him.

The House could also potentially use its so-called inherent contempt power to compel the administration to comply.

Once a commonly used congressional power in which the House arrests or fines people who won't comply with subpoenas, it hasn't been used in 84 years. More recently the House has asked the Justice Department and the courts to uphold their right to gather information. Such efforts have proved fruitless under the Trump administration.

“The efforts by the White House to intimidate, to prevent access, to prevent us from doing our investigative responsibilities is a violation of the Constitution. So we should be exercising our rights under inherent contempt,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), an Intelligence Committee member, said.

What will be in the articles of impeachment?

That's fluid and it's way too early to say for sure. Generally it's expected that any articles could include obstruction of Congress, obstruction of justice and abuse of power.

Clinton was impeached on two articles: lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Nixon faced three articles: obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress. Johnson was impeached on 11 articles.

Hennessey said Democrats have to look for two things as they decide what to include: unambigously impeachable conduct and unambiguous evidence. That means it's unlikely articles of impeachment will include Trump's behavior before he was president or anything the House has been investigating since Democrats took power in January that is embroiled in a legal battle.

It also is unlikely to include Democrats' frustration over immigration and other policy disagreements, or most of what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III found in his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Impeachment is not an airing of any and all grievances against the president,” Hennessey said.

But that might be difficult to balance, she said, because Democrats will not want to appear to be condoning other behavior they've been investigating.

“Impeachment is the mechanism by which Congress says what is acceptable and what is not acceptable,” Hennessey said. If something isn't included, “you risk sending the message to future presidents that this other stuff is not impeachable conduct.”

Once the House votes, then what?

In case high school civics feels like a long time ago, here's a reminder. Impeachment itself does not mean removal from office.

Think about impeachment as the House voting to bring charges against the president, not unlike how a grand jury might hand up an indictment.

It then becomes the job of the Senate to hold a trial and determine whether to convict the president and remove him or her from office.

A team of representatives, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president gets to have defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury. (Several Republican senators have already claimed they cannot answer reporters' questions about the allegations against Trump because they are potential jurors, though that did not stop GOP lawmakers during the Clinton impeachment.)

If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president. There is no appeal.

This has never happened. Both Clinton and Johnson were not found guilty and remained in office.

Nixon resigned when it became clear that he had lost the support of fellow Republicans and was going to be removed.

Is the Senate required to hold a trial?

Kind of.

Under Senate rules, if the House votes to impeach, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “I would have no choice but to take it up.” Speaking on CNBC on Monday, he added, “How long you're on it is a whole different matter. But I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment.”

That could take several different forms. It would take just a majority vote of senators, for example, to bring the articles up for consideration and then simply dismiss them without having a complete trial. Also, it's always possible for the Senate to just change the existing rules.

What McConnell decides to do may depend on public opinion, and whether vulnerable Republican senators feel like they can defend their votes enough at home to be reelected.

When will this be over?

Pelosi wants the investigation to move “expeditiously.”

Democratic leaders have hinted that it will take weeks, a few months at most. They don't want to drag this out too long and lose public interest.

Democrats might want to file articles of impeachment by the end of the year to lessen the appearance that they are trying to influence the 2020 presidential election, and to reduce how much time their 2020 nominee has to spend time talking about it.

“At this point my view is we need to either go forward with impeachment — or not go forward — by the end of this year,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), a member of the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees. “At some point the American people will be able to remove or not remove [the president] in November. The closer you get to an election the less sense it makes to do an impeachment process.”

John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said it was too early to know which party would politically benefit from the inquiry and which would be hurt.

“The next five to eight weeks are probably going to tell us a lot more about the 2020 election that the last three years have,” he said.

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ARTICLES

from Fox News

‘Predators' like Jeffrey Epstein familiar faces in seedy 'underbelly' of the modeling world


by Georeen Tanner, Angela Bertorelli

Jean Luc Brunel ran a Miami-based modeling agency launched in part with a $1 million investment from Jeffrey Epstein. In exchange for the contribution, Brunel is alleged to have funneled young models to the now-deceased pedophile.

Brunel vanished fter Epstein's suicide, before being spotted in South America in September, according to the French outlet Le Parisien. French authorities are investigating him for rape, sexual assault and his ties to Epstein, but Brunel has denied that any misconduct arose from his relationship with the perverted financier, who hung himself in a prison cell weeks after his July 6 arrest on child sex trafficking charges.

But men like Brunel and Epstein are nothing new in the world of high fashion.

“There are solid people in the industry,” supermodel Kathy Ireland told Fox News. “There are also a lot of predators.”

The majority of female models enter the fashion industry between the ages of 13 and 16. Their age and the often unfamiliar surroundings in which they find themselves make them especially vulnerable to sexual predators like Epstein.

“Before entering the modeling world, my universe was as far as I could ride my skateboard in Santa Barbara,” said Ireland, who started working at age 16. “When I came to the city [New York], I was very naïve. I thought that all adults would be good, honest, respectable people like my mom and dad.”

She was wrong.

Ireland recalled her narrow escape from a harrowing early job. The owner of the agency she worked for scheduled her with a photographer who was said to be a good friend of the agent. Ireland quickly learned that the photographer had seedy intentions when she got in a car with him and headed to a hotel.

“This photographer had set this up so that there was one hotel room and it's only one bed in the hotel room and I was expected to stay with him,” Ireland said.

“We were on a freeway. I was contemplating, ‘What do I do? Do I jump out of a car on the freeway?'”

Situations like this were commonplace, and according to Ireland, agents were often complicit.

“What I came to learn from other girls is they referred to them as playboys,” she said. “They're not playboys. They're predators.”

“It's illegal to have sex with a child, with a minor, and that's not consensual. There's nothing consensual about that.”

<< more >>

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/jeffrey-epstein-predator-models

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Child Porn

from The New York Times

Last year, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused — more than double what they found the previous year.

The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?

Online predators create and share the illegal material, which is increasingly cloaked by technology. Tech companies, the government and the authorities are no match.

by MICHAEL H. KELLER and GABRIEL J.X. DANCE

The images are horrific. Children, some just 3 or 4 years old, being sexually abused and in some cases tortured.

Pictures of child sexual abuse have long been produced and shared to satisfy twisted adult obsessions. But it has never been like this: Technology companies reported a record 45 million online photos and videos of the abuse last year.

More than a decade ago, when the reported number was less than a million, the proliferation of the explicit imagery had already reached a crisis point. Tech companies, law enforcement agencies and legislators in Washington responded, committing to new measures meant to rein in the scourge. Landmark legislation passed in 2008.

Yet the explosion in detected content kept growing — exponentially.

Exploited

Articles in this series examine the explosion in online photos and videos of children being sexually abused. They include graphic descriptions of some instances of the abuse.

An investigation by The New York Times found an insatiable criminal underworld that had exploited the flawed and insufficient efforts to contain it. As with hate speech and terrorist propaganda, many tech companies failed to adequately police sexual abuse imagery on their platforms, or failed to cooperate sufficiently with the authorities when they found it.

Law enforcement agencies devoted to the problem were left understaffed and underfunded, even as they were asked to handle far larger caseloads.

The Justice Department, given a major role by Congress, neglected even to write mandatory monitoring reports, nor did it appoint a senior executive-level official to lead a crackdown. And the group tasked with serving as a federal clearinghouse for the imagery — the go-between for the tech companies and the authorities — was ill equipped for the expanding demands.

A paper recently published in conjunction with that group, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, described a system at “a breaking point,” with reports of abusive images “exceeding the capabilities of independent clearinghouses and law enforcement to take action.” It suggested that future advancements in machine learning might be the only way to catch up with the criminals.

In 1998, there were over 3,000 reports of child sexual abuse imagery.

Just over a decade later, yearly reports soared past 100,000 .

In 2014, that number surpassed 1 million for the first time.

Last year, there were 18.4 million , more than one-third of the total ever reported.

Those reports included over 45 million images and videos flagged as child sexual abuse.

by Rich Harris | Source: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Times reviewed over 10,000 pages of police and court documents; conducted software tests to assess the availability of the imagery through search engines; accompanied detectives on raids; and spoke with investigators, lawmakers, tech executives and government officials. The reporting included conversations with an admitted pedophile who concealed his identity using encryption software and who runs a site that has hosted as many as 17,000 such images.

In interviews, victims across the United States described in heart-wrenching detail how their lives had been upended by the abuse. Children, raped by relatives and strangers alike, being told it was normal. Adults, now years removed from their abuse, still living in fear of being recognized from photos and videos on the internet. And parents of the abused, struggling to cope with the guilt of not having prevented it and their powerlessness over stopping its online spread.

Many of the survivors and their families said their view of humanity had been inextricably changed by the crimes themselves and the online demand for images of them.

“I don't really know how to deal with it,” said one woman who, at age 11, had been filmed being sexually assaulted by her father. “You're just trying to feel O.K. and not let something like this define your whole life. But the thing with the pictures is — that's the thing that keeps this alive.”

The Times's reporting revealed a problem global in scope — most of the images found last year were traced to other countries — but one firmly rooted in the United States because of the central role Silicon Valley has played in facilitating the imagery's spread and in reporting it to the authorities.

While the material, commonly known as child pornography, predates the digital era, smartphone cameras, social media and cloud storage have allowed the images to multiply at an alarming rate. Both recirculated and new images occupy all corners of the internet, including a range of platforms as diverse as Facebook Messenger, Microsoft's Bing search engine and the storage service Dropbox.

In a particularly disturbing trend, online groups are devoting themselves to sharing images of younger children and more extreme forms of abuse. The groups use encrypted technologies and the dark web, the vast underbelly of the internet, to teach pedophiles how to carry out the crimes and how to record and share images of the abuse worldwide. In some online forums, children are forced to hold up signs with the name of the group or other identifying information to prove the images are fresh.

To report online child sexual abuse, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

With so many reports of the abuse coming their way, law enforcement agencies across the country said they were often besieged. Some have managed their online workload by focusing on imagery depicting the youngest victims.

“We go home and think, ‘Good grief, the fact that we have to prioritize by age is just really disturbing,'” said Detective Paula Meares, who has investigated child sex crimes for more than 10 years at the Los Angeles Police Department.

In some sense, increased detection of the spiraling problem is a sign of progress. Tech companies are legally required to report images of child abuse only when they discover them; they are not required to look for them.

<< more>>

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/28/us/child-sex-abuse.html

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Immigration

The Los Angeles Times

Mexican asylum seekers at multiple border crossings grow frustrated with waiting

by MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Thousands of Mexican migrants seeking asylum in the United States are waiting at border crossings as a result of the Trump administration's recent crackdown despite concerns for their safety in their home country, migrants and advocates say.

At Ciudad Juarez's Bridge of the Americas, also known as Puente Libre, dozens of frustrated migrants — some holding newborns — confronted Mexican soldiers last week, challenging a waiting list they worried was keeping them out of the U.S. unfairly.

“We have been here eight days — how much longer?” a woman shouted.

“We all have rights!” a man yelled.

The Trump administration has returned nearly 50,000 migrants from Central America to Mexico under the “Remain in Mexico” program this year, and more recently added an asylum ban for migrants from other countries. Mexican migrants are not subject to the those conditions but nevertheless are finding they may have to wait from days to months for processing in about half a dozen Mexican border cities.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials issued a statement Monday saying the agency would process those who are waiting as capacity allows and “as expeditiously as possible.”

“When our ports of entry reach capacity, we have to manage the queues and individuals presenting without documents may need to wait in Mexico as CBP officers work to process those already within our facilities,” the statement said, noting that the facilities at border crossings “were not designed to hold hundreds of people at a time who may be seeking asylum.”

The Homeland Security Department has devoted resources to expanding the Remain in Mexico program and building temporary tent courts. Last year, Customs and Border Protection stationed officers at the midpoints of border bridges to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, a process called metering.

Migrants were expected to maintain some of the lists, while others were supervised by Mexican immigration officials who faced allegations of corruption. Late last year, Mexican officials took control of the lists, which have grown to include more than 26,000 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union called metering Mexican asylum seekers illegal.

“The practice of metering has no basis in U.S. law,” said Shaw Drake, policy council for the ACLU Border Rights Center in El Paso. “By turning away a Mexican you're sending them back into the arms of the country they are fleeing.”

Drake said the ACLU was aware of Mexican asylum seekers waiting in Juarez, Matamoros, Nogales and Tijuana. He said Customs and Border Protection was supposed to ensure asylum seekers were processed quickly and not subjected to waiting lists supervised by fellow migrants.

“That entire system of chaos exists because CBP is breaking the law and rejecting people at ports and also refusing to take responsibility for the systems that crop up. It's been a trend with metering,” Drake said of the migrant waiting lists.

Migrants from Chiapas and Guerrero have been waiting for processing in Matamoros, where volunteers helped at least one Mexican family of three claim asylum Saturday, said local immigration lawyer Jodi Goodwin.

About 300 Mexican asylum seekers were waiting in Nogales on Monday, said Joanna Williams, director of education and advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative. She said Mexican migrants were also having to wait south of Douglas, Ariz.

More than 800 Mexican asylum seekers were waiting south of Yuma, Ariz., as of last week, according to Stephanie Leutert, director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin.

“This is one of the last groups that hasn't been completely cut off from the U.S. asylum system,” said Leutert, who has been visiting the border to track asylum waiting lists.

Many of the migrants said they were fleeing organized crime. During the first eight months of this year, 23,724 people were slain in Mexico, a 3.5% increase compared with the same period the year before, which was the most violent year since the government started recording statistics in 1997. Some of the states that asylum seekers were fleeing — Guerrero, Michoacan and Zacatecas — were among those with the highest per-capita homicide rates last year.

The recent increase in Mexican migrants may be because of a recent uptick in violence between drug-trafficking gangs in places like Michoacan, Leutert said, but it could also be because the U.S. has blocked asylum seekers from other countries, creating fear among Mexicans.

<< more>>

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-09-30/u-s-customs-blocking-mexican-asylum-seekers-at-multiple-border-crossings

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Immigration

from The Los Angeles Times

LETTERS ON LETTERS

In the migrants’ corner

MIGRANTS seek to enter the U.S. camp near the Bridge of the Americas in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Articles on humans struggling to survive or improve their lives sometimes prompt scolding replies from our letter writers. That’s even more true if those people have children or are immigrants.

It’s a pattern we’ve seen on everything from working or unemployed mothers who cannot afford diapers to, most recently, asylum seekers held up interminably just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. In response to an article this week on the growing frustration of Mexican migrants waiting to enter the United States, several letter writers said they were unmoved by the asylum seekers’ plight.

Those letters prompted a backlash by readers who expressed dismay at the antipathy shown to people who are suffering. Below are some of those replies.

— Paul Thornton, letters editor

Bella Silverstein of Santa Clarita rebuts the letters point by point:

Three letter writers made interesting claims. The first said that Mexican refugees are under no threat. The second claimed no one has a right to come to the U.S. The third said migrants bring on their own troubles by having babies.

Mexicans seeking asylum can be under threat of persecution and violence from drug cartels and organized crime, with local police, judges and courts unwilling to help.

Seeking refuge in the U.S. is legal. To request asylum you must first show up. You must be inside the U.S or at a port of entry to request asylum. The U.S. must grant refugee status to anyone with credible fear of persecution due to political opinion, race, religion, social group or national origin. The U.S. recognizes the right of asylum as specified by international and federal law.

Having babies is a fact of life. Central and South American countries often lack available (or even legal) birth control, abortion and maternity care. To fault the poor in these countries under these circumstances for lack of family planning indicates ignorance, racism or callous indifference.

Charles Kohorst of Glendora has had enough of the migrant-bashing:

I have read with dismay as the L.A. Times has published letters that express cruelty toward immigrants. The gratuitously mean-spirited letters on Oct. 3 were too much.

One writer said that the migrants have brought their problems upon themselves, “of their own free will,” and another asserted that no one has the right to enter the U.S. Even this country is legally bound to allow individuals to apply for asylum. The last writer wondered why those who do not have a “satisfactory life” have the audacity to reproduce.

Is this what passes as informed discourse in Los Angeles these days? Does The Times feel a duty to offer its more circumspect readers a view of how cold and harsh some of our fellow citizens actually are?

Venice resident Mindy Taylor-Ross keeps her reply short:

These writers sit in the comfort of their homes and criticize poor, scared migrants who are forced to relocate far from home because of threats from criminals and crushing poverty. Good one!

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Immigration

from The New York Times

Shoot Migrants' Legs, Build Alligator Moat: Behind Trump's Ideas for Border

by Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis

WASHINGTON — The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president's edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president's zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That's not allowed either, they told him.

“The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button,” said Thomas D. Homan, who had served as Mr. Trump's acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recalling that week in March. “The president wanted it to be fixed quickly.”

Mr. Trump's order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.

Today, as Mr. Trump is surrounded by advisers less willing to stand up to him, his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active. “I have absolute power to shut down the border,” he said in an interview this summer with The New York Times.

This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen White House and administration officials directly involved in the events of that week in March. They were granted anonymity to describe sensitive conversations with the president and top officials in the government.

In the Oval Office that March afternoon, a 30-minute meeting extended to more than two hours as Mr. Trump's team tried desperately to placate him.

“You are making me look like an idiot!” Mr. Trump shouted, adding in a profanity, as multiple officials in the room described it. “I ran on this. It's my issue.”

Among those in the room were Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary at the time; Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state; Kevin K. McAleenan, the Customs and Border Protection chief at the time; and Stephen Miller, the White House aide who, more than anyone, had orchestrated Mr. Trump's immigration agenda. Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff was also there, along with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, and other senior staff.

Ms. Nielsen, a former aide to George W. Bush brought into the department by John F. Kelly, the president's former chief of staff, was in a perilous position. She had always been viewed with suspicion by the president, who told aides she was “a Bushie,” and part of the “deep state” who once contributed to a group that supported Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump had routinely berated Ms. Nielsen as ineffective and, worse — at least in his mind — not tough-looking enough. “Lou Dobbs hates you, Ann Coulter hates you, you're making me look bad,” Mr. Trump would tell her, referring to the Fox Business Network host and the conservative commentator.

The happiest he had been with Ms. Nielsen was a few months earlier, when American border agents had fired tear gas into Mexico to try to stop migrants from crossing into the United States. Human rights organizations condemned the move, but Mr. Trump loved it. More often, though, she drew the president's scorn.

That March day, he was furious at Mr. Pompeo, too, for having cut a deal with Mexico to allow the United States to reject some asylum seekers — a plan Mr. Trump said was clearly failing.

A complete shutdown of the border, Mr. Trump said, was the only way.

<< more >>

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/01/us/politics/trump-border-wars.html

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Immigration

from The New York Times

U.S. to collect DNA from immigrants

Genetic samples collected from hundreds of thousands of people taken into immigration custody each year would be added to a national criminal database under new government plans, officials at the Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday.

Until now, immigrants have been exempt from a 2005 law authorizing the collection of DNA data, and advocates said changing that could raise privacy concerns for an already vulnerable population.

Trump administration officials did not provide a timeline for the rollout of the regulation.

“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” said Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

Related: The Times Magazine examined how Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pick their targets in the age of big data.

Yesterday: President Trump denied a Times article that said he had discussed fortifying barriers along the Mexican border with a reptile-filled moat. A Times spokeswoman said, “We are confident in the accuracy of the reporting.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/02/us/dna-testing-immigrants.html

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SPACE - SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY

from The Los Angeles Times

Five things we learned from Elon Musk's rollout of the SpaceX Starship prototype

by SAMANTHA MASUNAGA

A prototype of SpaceX's Starship Mars spaceship could reach orbit in less than six months and fly humans next year, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Saturday during an unveiling at the company's facility in south Texas.

Standing in front of the towering stainless steel prototype known as Starship Mk 1, Musk told an audience the Hawthorne company would be building versions of the spacecraft in rapid succession at two different SpaceX facilities — one near Boca Chica Beach in Texas and one in Cocoa, Fla.

The goal is to build at least two per site before SpaceX starts work on the Super Heavy rocket booster that will power Starship to orbit. Both Starship and Super Heavy are intended to eventually replace SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket and its newer Falcon Heavy rocket, which first launched last year.

Musk did not give an updated timeline for when Starship — essentially a second-stage rocket and lander — would go to Mars. SpaceX has said its “aspirational goal” is to send cargo missions to the Red Planet in 2022.

“It's going to be pretty epic to see this thing take off and come back,” said Musk said of Starship.

Here are some other takeaways from Musk's presentation.

Starship Mk 1 could launch soon

Musk estimated that the prototype could be test-launched to an altitude of about 60,000 feet in one to two months. Musk, however, is known for overly optimistic timelines — in 2016, SpaceX said it could send an uncrewed Dragon capsule to Mars as soon as 2018. That mission did not happen, and SpaceX's plans for Mars changed to use Starship, rather than Dragon capsules.

SpaceX is building Starships quickly

SpaceX's team at Boca Chica Beach built Starship Mk 1 in about four to five months, Musk said. That was after he changed the design from a carbon fiber exterior to stainless steel — a design he said would be cheaper, heat-resistant and would result in a similarly strong, lightweight vehicle.

This rocket system will have a lot of fire power

The Starship spaceship will have six Raptor rocket engines, which use liquid oxygen and methane as propellant. The Super Heavy booster could have as many as 37 Raptor engines, though Musk said that number was still in flux and could drop to as few as 24.

When stacked together, Starship and Super Heavy will be about 387 feet tall, more than twice the height of the Starship Mk 1 that was the centerpiece of Saturday's event. The completed Starship and Super Heavy stack would be 150 feet taller than United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy rocket, which is the tallest U.S. operational rocket today.

Starship development only involves a small portion of the company

Though Starship was the focus of Saturday's event, Musk said less than 5% of SpaceX's resources were dedicated to working on development of the Mars spaceship.

“From a SpaceX resource standpoint,” Musk said, “our resources are overwhelmingly on Falcon and Dragon.”

Musk is under pressure to deliver on other programs. In addition to commercial and government satellite launches, SpaceX is also under contract with NASA, as is Boeing Co., to develop separate crewed spacecraft capable of carrying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX flew an uncrewed Dragon capsule to the space station in March, but that capsule was later destroyed in an accident during a ground test.

On Friday, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that although he was “looking forward to the SpaceX announcement” Saturday, the commercial crew astronaut transport program was “years behind schedule.”

“NASA expects to see the same level of enthusiasm focused on the investments of the American taxpayer,” Bridenstine tweeted. “It's time to deliver.”

Both SpaceX's and Boeing's schedules for capsule test launches have slipped over the years.

Musk is interested in a lunar presence

Musk said Saturday it would be “very exciting to have a base on the moon,” adding that a base focused on scientific research would be useful.

His moon musings come as NASA has stated that it plans to return to the moon and land astronauts at the moon's South Pole by 2024.

Samantha Masunaga covers aerospace for the Los Angeles Times. She has previously worked for the Oregonian, the Orange County Register and the Rafu Shimpo, among other publications. A Southern California native, she is an alumna of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and UCLA.

https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-09-28/spacex-starship-presentation

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SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY

from The Los Angeles Times

Your Tesla can now pick you up

Smart Summon is for parking lot use. But drivers have other ideas.

CALIFORNIA officials say Tesla's new Smart Summon feature isn't autonomous because it's controlled by cellphone.

by Russ Mitchell

Tesla unleashed the latest twist in driverless car technology last week, raising more questions about whether autonomous vehicles are outracing public officials and safety regulators.

The Palo Alto electric car company on Sept. 26 beamed a software feature called Smart Summon to Tesla owners who prepaid for it. Using a smartphone, a person can now command a Tesla to turn itself on, back out of its parking space and drive to the smartphone holder's location — say, at the curb in front of a Costco store.

The car relies on onboard sensors and computers to help it move forward, back up, steer, accelerate and decelerate on its own, braking if it detects people, other vehicles or stationary objects in its path. The “driver” must keep a finger or thumb on the smartphone screen or the car will stop.

Tesla recommends the feature for parking lots, and the technology's range — 200 feet — limits its applications. But in theory, a car can be summoned anywhere — to drive down a public street, for instance. Sure enough, videos quickly sprouted of Tesla owners doing just that, and more. Is it legal? Yes, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. And even though the state has safety requirements that must be met before companies can deploy driverless cars, Tesla's latest service doesn't need a permit.

That's because the DMV determined that the combination of Smart Summon and the cars' robot systems doesn't count as “autonomous technology.” The department's rationale is the car is “under the control” of the person holding the smartphone.

The new director of the DMV, Steve Gordon — a longtime Silicon Valley executive — declined to be interviewed for this story.

Some safety officials worry that Smart Summon hasn't been thoroughly tested and may be marketed in ways that confuse users. The National Safety Council, a nonprofit health and safety advocacy group, has expressed concern about the rush to deploy full driverless technology by Tesla and other companies.

Kelly Nantel, an NSC vice president, issued a statement on Smart Summon:

“In introducing any new advanced safety feature, it is important for manufacturers to ensure that the feature is extensively tested and mature, and that the role of the driver in controlling the vehicle is crystal clear. Failing in either of these responsibilities risks creating confusion that can put road users at risk and reduce public trust in the potential of automated vehicles.”

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is aware of Smart Summon and is in contact with Tesla. The agency said in an email it “will not hesitate to act” if it finds evidence of a safety-related defect.

A week after Smart Summon was issued, no injuries involving the technology have been reported, and no government has barred its use.

State laws on driverless cars vary dramatically. States such as Florida, Michigan and Arizona are more permissive than California, and some states have no driverless car laws at all.

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Environment

from The Los Angeles Times

Cattle ranching remains top threat to the Amazon

In Brazil, even laws cannot prevent deforestation

BRAZIL produces more beef than any other nation except the United States. Its cattle suppliers include tens of thousands of ranches in the Amazon.

by Jesse Hyde

REDENCAO, Brazil — It was a moment of hope in the fight to save the world's largest rainforest.

In 2009, Walmart, Nike and other global companies vowed to stop buying beef and leather from Brazilian companies operating in the Amazon.

They were responding to pressure from the environmental group Greenpeace, which had determined that cattle ranching there had become the largest driver of deforestation in the world, with an average of one acre of the Amazon cleared every eight seconds for grazing.

The threat of a boycott didn't last long, thanks to a pledge by Brazil's largest beef processors — responsible for 70% of beef production in the Amazon — to rigorously monitor their supply chains and avoid doing business with ranches linked to post-2009 destruction of forest.

In the northern state of Para, where most of the deforestation has occurred, the meatpacking companies went even further and entered into a legally binding agreement with the state government mandating fines and abattoir closures if their cattle were not cleanly sourced.

But a decade later, the Amazon is in even graver danger, with 17% of its forests already gone and some scientists warning that losing as little as 3% more could begin turning it to savanna because the ecosystem will produce too little rainfall to sustain itself.

This year has been especially bad as more than 70,000 fires — most set by farmers and ranchers to clear land — have dramatically accelerated the pace of deforestation. Cattle ranching remains the biggest driver, responsible for 80% of the deforestation, according to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The failure of the monitoring agreements illustrates the limits of environmental activism and the necessity of political will if the Amazon is to be saved. Experts said the experience shows that pledges and laws amount to little if authorities are not dedicated to enforcing them and closing loopholes.

Brazil produces more beef than any other country except the United States and export more than anywhere else, sending 20% of its production to Hong Kong, China, the European Union and several smaller buyers.

The Brazilian company JBS, the world's largest meatpacker with more than $50 billion in annual revenue, counts Walmart and Costco as major clients.

Its cattle suppliers include tens of thousands of ranches in the Amazon, making the company by far the most important player in the 2009 promise by meat processors to cut ties to ranches involved in deforestation.

The company became Exhibit A in what appeared to be a dramatic success. It cut off business with thousands of ranches after its monitoring systems flagged them.

By 2013 just 4% of Amazon-based suppliers to JBS and other meatpackers in the Para agreement could be linked to deforestation — down from 36% before the measures took effect, according to a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the Brazilian nonprofit Imazon.

More broadly, cattle became easier to trace, because the tens of thousands of ranches that supplied the slaughterhouses covered by the Para agreement registered their properties with the state government. The vast majority had never had a legal deed to their land.

Now they could be tracked in real time using satellite imagery and publicly available databases of geographic data.

Brazil has touted the statistic that the rate of deforestation fell 70% between 2005 and 2012.

But most of that drop occurred before the ranch-monitoring deals took effect and could be attributed to declining commodity prices, which reduced incentive to clear forest for grazing and soybean cultivation. The leftist government in power at the time also made environmental conservation a priority, designating 150 million acres of rainforest as protected land and stepping up efforts to arrest and fine violators.

<< more >>

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PUBLIC SAFETY 101

LAPD & LA County Sheriff -- How are they doing?


We'll explore how listeners feel about their local law enforcement agencies. How safe do they feel? How good is the local quality of life in their home town and what can be done to make things better?

We'll continue this discussion tonight ..

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from LACP.org web site - MAIN ARTICLES

DHS and FEMA - Preparedness Newsletter


DHS and FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter
This Digest is provided by FEMA to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources, an important part of FEMA's mission to help people before, during, and after disasters. We're building a culture of preparedness together.

Introducing the New Ready Kids Webpages

Webinar: Youth Can Help With Preparedness

Podcast: Teaching Children What to do in an Emergency

and more ..

About FEMA
Emergency Management and Response -- Information Sharing and Analysis Center
EMR-ISAC
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Homeland Security
INFOGRAM
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Prepare. Plan.
Stay Informed.
This INFOGRAM is distributed weekly to provide members of the Emergency Services Sector with information concerning the protection of their critical infrastructures.

Firefighter cancer study finds link between screening, safety officers

FEMA requests input on disaster housing, financial management, PIOs

Fire Prevention Week October 6-12, 2019: Not every hero wears a cape

Webinar: Emergency Childcare Services Post-Disaster

Cyber Threats

and more ..

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LAPPL Law Enforcement News - Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch:

Law Enforcement News - Fri, 10/04

Thousands Remember Slain Texas Deputy As ‘Ambassador Of All That Is Good'
When he joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office — and fought for the right to wear his turban and beard — Sandeep Dhaliwal became a trailblazer for Sikhs across North America. NYPD Sgt. Gurvinder Singh, president of the Sikh Officers' Association, first got to know Dhaliwal in 2016, after hearing about his mission to wear his articles of faith on duty. “He was the motivation to a lot of guys here,” he said, standing inside the cavernous entrance of the Berry Center in northwest Houston on Wednesday, where he and dozens of other Sikhs from NYPD had traveled to pay their respects at Dhaliwal's funeral. Dhaliwal was shot to death Friday during a traffic stop. Robert Solis, 47, was arrested later that day and charged with murdering the deputy, a 42-year-old father of three.
Houston Chronicle

LAPD Notes ‘Public Concerns', Says No Credible Threats For ‘Joker' Debut
Police are pledging a “high visibility” presence Thursday night in areas around Southern California where the “Joker” movie will be premiering. The Joaquin Phoenix film is a realistically violent take on the Batman comic book villain. LAPD says while there are no credible threats in the L.A. area, the department “will maintain high visibility around movie theaters when it opens”. “The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of public concerns and the historical significance associated with the premiere of the ‘Joker',” officials said. “We encourage everyone to go out and enjoy all of the weekend leisure activities this city has to offer, however, Angelenos should remain vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings. As always, if you see something, say something.” 
CBS 2

San Francisco DA George Gascon quits post, eyes challenge to LA County DA Jackie Lacey
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon on Thursday announced his resignation and said he is moving to Los Angeles to explore a run for top prosecutor there. The San Francisco Police Officers Association issued a statement regarding Gascon's resignation, “We are praying for the residents of Los Angeles hoping that George Gascon does not do to their city what he did to San Francisco during his tenure. We are happy he will be leaving San Francisco but feel horrible that he is taking his record of failure to an even larger county where he can cause even more harm to public safety. Good riddance.”
ABC 7

LAPD Officers Don Throwback Badges To Commemorate 1869 Founding
The Los Angeles Police Department is getting a new look – or, rather, an old one. Officers can choose to don badges that are near-replicas of the original shields the LAPD issued when the agency was born in 1869. The first day officers could wear the old-style badges, in the shape of sunflowers, was Tuesday. They can keep them on until Dec. 31. Chief Michel Moore, who wears one, said the badges are almost the same design as those worn by the first six officers 150 years ago. Back then, the city had just 5,000 residents and paid policing was a new concept. “This was a frontier city at the time,” Moore said. The throw-back badges, unlike the originals, though, do feature the rank and official badge number of the officer to comply with state law. Officers could buy a commerative badge, for about $150, and keep it as a memento after this year. Of the department's 10,000 cops, about 2,000 have bought the special badge. The LAPD's standard-issue, oval-shaped badges, by the way, don't carry a modern design, either. They were created in 1940.
Los Angeles Daily News

LAPD To Deploy Drones Under Certain Guidelines, Officials Say
After a year-long pilot program, drones are now part of the standard procedure at the Los Angeles Police Department. They can be deployed under certain guidelines that are limited to tactical situations. "The only folks that can operate this are SWAT officers, hazardous materials and bomb squad personnel," said Asst. Chief Horace Frank. Frank stressed approval requires going up the chain of command. It starts with a captain determining it is the only safe way to resolve a situation, getting it signed off by a commander and then a deputy chief. During the pilot program, a drone was used four times. Like body worn camera video, police would release footage of a categorical use of force incident.
ABC 7

Over 2 Dozen People Detained In Watts Area; LAPD Investigating
Over two dozen people have been detained in the area of E 105th Street and Wilmington Avenue in the Watts area of Los Angeles. The incident began at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday after LAPD gang units responded to a large party report. Aerial video from SkyFOX shows a long row of individuals against a white fence as LAPD officers look through several vehicles and search nearby areas. Police have the immediate area blocked off. The public is asked to avoid the area. No further details were immediately known.
FOX 11

LAPD Releases Bodycam Video Of Deadly Shootout In El Sereno Between Gunman, Officers
Los Angeles police released video of a deadly shootout between officers and a gunman in El Sereno. The incident happened Aug. 18 before 11:30 p.m. It was captured on the officers' body worn cameras. The newly released video captures the shootout on the streets of El Sereno between LAPD officers and man, who minutes earlier walked up to their patrol car and opened fire, hitting the driver's side door. Officers turned around to try to track down the suspect, later identified as Roberto Gabriel, a 33-year-old gang member, police said. One officer spotted him nearby on the sidewalk. Video captures when the shots are being fired. During the situation, other vehicles pass by. Police said Gabriel took off running. The suspect then takes off running again, but encounters other officers responding to the original call. "He's behind you. He's behind you," an officer is heard shouting. Multiple shots are then fired. Police said the suspect was shot and officers moved in to handcuff him. Gabriel later died in a hospital. Investigators said a 9mm handgun was recovered at the scene.
ABC 7

Accused Crips Gang Members Charged With Selling Crack From Library, Minimart In Exposition Park
More than 20 alleged members of the Rollin' 30s Harlem Crips gang in South Los Angeles were charged Wednesday in federal indictments accusing them of selling crack cocaine from a minimart, outside a public library and in a park, prosecutors said. Ten of the defendants were arrested Wednesday, two were already in custody on unrelated charges and another nine remain at large, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. The main indictment alleges 39-year-old gang leader Angelo Gabriel Reed of Inglewood, aka “Maniac” and “Yacc,” prepared the drug in his kitchen and sold it from an Exposition Park library branch and a public park nearby. Reed is accused of overseeing a crew that distributed more than 280 grams of crack cocaine from May 2017 to April 2018.
KTLA 5

San Pedro Man Pleads Not Guilty In Girlfriend's Killing
A San Pedro man pleaded not guilty Thursday to murdering his live-in girlfriend, whose body was dumped along the Long Beach (710) Freeway more than a decade ago. Carl Mayes, 41, is charged with the July 14, 2006, killing of Tyquesha Myers. The murder count includes allegations that Mayes intentionally used a firearm. He is also charged with a felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Myers, 20, of Long Beach, was found dead along the bike path north of Pacific Coast Highway about 7:30 a.m. July 15, 2006, according to Long Beach police. She died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to records from the coroner's office. The person who found the body said he had not seen Myers when he walked along the same path about 11 p.m. the night before, a Long Beach police lieutenant said at the time. Police said they believe the motive for the killing was domestic violence-related.
MyNewsLA.com

Encino Man Faces Sentencing For Threatening To Kill Boston Globe Journalists
An Encino man faces sentencing on Wednesday for threatening to kill journalists at the Boston Globe in retaliation for its role coordinating an editorial response by hundreds of newspapers to President Donald Trump's attacks on the media. Federal prosecutors in Boston are seeking a 10-month prison term for Robert Chain, 69, who they say lobbed “abhorrent, vicious, and menacing” threats at the Boston Globe and at reporters at The New York Times. Chain pleaded guilty in May to transmitting violent threats to the Boston Globe after in August 2018 it urged other newspapers nationally to run editorials denouncing what it called a “dirty war against the free press.” The threats that prosecutors said Chain made to the Globe in a series of phone calls that August mirrored Trump's statements, saying in one phone call that “you are the enemy of the people, and we are going to shoot you all.”
Los Angeles Daily News

Mother Found With 65 Hidden Bundles Of Meth, And Her 6-Year-Old Son, In SUV, Border Patrol Says
Border Patrol agents arrested a 25-year-old mother Tuesday night at a freeway checkpoint in San Diego County after finding nearly 68 pounds of methamphetamine inside the SUV she was driving with her 6-year-old son inside, authorities said. The woman, a Mexican citizen, pulled up to an Interstate 8 checkpoint in Pine Valley, east of San Diego, around 9 p.m. driving a 1999 Ford Expedition, Border Patrol officials said in a statement. Agents at the checkpoint sent her to a secondary inspection area where a drug-sniffing dog zeroed in on the rear door of the SUV, authorities said. Agents searched the inside panels of the Expedition and a spare tire, turning up 65 bundles of crystal methamphetamine with a total weight of 67.68 pounds, authorities said. Officials said the estimated street value of the drugs was more than $179,000.
Los Angeles Times

Public Safety News

Local Police Departments Unveil Pink Patrol Cars, Patches In Honor Of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
From Glendale to Burbank and Los Angeles County, several law enforcement agencies in Southern California are showing their support for breast cancer awareness by unveiling pink patrol cars and patches. October is breast cancer awareness month; and many residents will be seeing pink throughout SoCal. The Glendale Police Department is showing their support by adding a partially wrapped pink Jeep and five police motorcycles to its fleet of vehicles. The department has been doing this for the past five years. The Glendale Police Officers' Association has partnered with the Pink Patch Project to bring awareness and funds by selling pink police patches. The patches are $10 and all proceeds will be donated to Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital for cancer research.
FOX 11

Health Officials Now Investigating 21 Serious Vaping-Related Illnesses In L.A. County
A total of 21 serious vaping-related illnesses are now under investigation in Los Angeles County, along with one death, authorities said Thursday. That's five more cases since Sept. 19, when the county Department of Public Health warned Angelenos to “STOP VAPING NOW,” the agency said in a news release. All but one of the patients with serious pulmonary injury reported using both tobacco and marijuana products, but not necessarily at the same time. One person said they used only flavored liquids, with no nicotine, THC or CBD, authorities said. All those sickened reported using various devices and products, which remain under investigation. Roughly two-thirds of the patients are age 25 or younger, officials said.
KTLA 5

Local Government News


LAX To End Curbside Pickup By Uber And Lyft -- Frequent fliers, beware.
Los Angeles International Airport will soon ban ride-hailing companies from picking up passengers outside its terminals, LAX officials said Thursday. Starting on or about Oct. 29, travelers looking to hop on an Uber or Lyft will be taken by shuttle to a parking lot next to Terminal 1, where they can book their rides, said Keith Wilschetz, deputy executive director of the Operations and Emergency Management Division at Los Angeles World Airports. Drop-offs at terminals will still be allowed. The decision is in response to worsening congestion at the airport, which is undergoing a $14-billion overhaul of its aging road network and terminals. In recent months, construction has often required LAX to close some lanes. And because airlines have been adding routes, more people are coming to the airport in general, Wilschetz said. Passenger volume increased from 63.7 million in 2012 to 87.5 million in 2018, according to LAX officials.
Los Angeles Times

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Law Enforcement News - Thur, 10/03

2 Guilty Of Aiding Man Accused Of Killing California Officer
Two men who are in the United States illegally have been convicted of helping a third man as he tried to escape to his native Mexico after killing a California police officer, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. Jurors on Monday found Erik Quiroz Razo, 28, and Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, guilty of conspiring to aid and abet the latter's brother Paulo Virgen Mendoza as he fled. They face up to five years in prison when they are sentenced Jan. 13. Mendoza, who is also in the U.S. illegally, was previously identified by authorities as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an alias that he used when he was arrested. He has pleaded not guilty to murder in the Dec. 26 shooting death of Cpl. Ronil Singh during a traffic stop.
Associated Press

Dr. Drew & LAPPL Discuss Addict Who Shot Up in Central Station Lobby
Following a tweet by the LAPPL showing a drug user shooting up in the Central Division lobby, Dr. Drew and LAPPL Director Steve Gordon discuss the current status of the drug epidemic in Los Angeles; and the long-term impacts of Prop 47 which was co-authored by potential LA County District Attorney candidate George Gascon, the current DA of San Francisco.
Midday Live with Dr. Drew
 

Man Convicted Of Shooting At Police, Wounding Police Dog
An ex-con was convicted Wednesday of repeatedly shooting at police officers during a series of gunfights and wounding a police dog in South Los Angeles. After about four days of deliberations, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury found Jose Alfredo Rauda, 36, guilty of a dozen counts of attempted murder and one count of assault of a police animal in connection with the series of gunshots he fired on June 15, 2017, according to Deputy District Attorney David Ayvazian. Jurors also found true allegations that Rauda personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and that he knew or reasonably should have known that the officers were engaging in the performance of their duties.
MyNewsLA.com

LA Police Open ‘Homicide Library' To Help Solve Cold Cases
Los Angeles police Wednesday opened a “Homicide Library” _ believed to be the first of its kind _ of digital files in the hopes it will aid detectives who are investigating cold cases. Ultimately, the library will house large binders known as “murder books” for more than 15,000 solved and unsolved cases across the city and create a centralized digital database for records going back to 1960. “It changes everything for families like mine,” said LaWanda Hawkins, whose 19-year-old son was killed in 1995. “This is a blessing.” Currently, the library stores nearly 5,000 cases between 1990 and 2010 from the LAPD South Bureau.
Associated Press

Man Found Shot To Death In Downtown LA's Skid Row
A man was found shot to death Thursday in downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row. The shooting happened in the area of Fifth Street and San Pedro. Police called to the scene just after 3 a.m. on the report of someone down in the street found a man who had been shot several times in the chest. The man, described only as being in his 50s, was pronounced dead at the scene. The body was covered by a white tent and remained in the street in front of a row of homeless tents on the sidewalk. The shooter was last seen running eastbound on Central. Investigators have not recovered a gun, and say they don't believe anyone else was hurt.
CBS 2

Suspected DUI Driver In Custody After Pedestrian Critically Injured In Vermont Square Area Hit-and-Run
A suspected intoxicated driver was in custody Wednesday after a pedestrian was critically injured in a crosswalk in the Vermont Square area of South Los Angeles. The crash was reported at the intersection of West Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and South Budlong Avenue at about 6 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Jon Pinto said. The driver attempted to flee the scene after striking the pedestrian but was followed by a witness, Pinto said. Authorities were able to locate the suspect, who was taken into custody on suspicion of DUI, police said. Aerial video from Sky5 showed a car with a broken windshield stopped in an area marked off by crime scene tape. The unidentified 50-year-old victim was transported to a local hospital in critical condition, Officer Chavez said.
KTLA 5

Police: Good Samaritan Stabbed Attempting To Stop Fight Between Woman, Rideshare Driver
Two people were stabbed in Boyle Heights after an argument over a car seat escalated late Tuesday night, police said. A woman with a small child requested a rideshare service around 9:30 p.m. in the 3300 block of Sabina Street, located near the intersection of Lorena and Sixth streets. The argument began shortly after the driver arrived to pick them up, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The rideshare driver noticed the woman did not have a car seat for the young child, and he did not have one available for the child to use. An argument ensued after the driver informed them he would not be able to give them a ride without a car seat. A Good Samaritan heard the woman and rideshare driver arguing and witnessed the woman hit the driver and push him into a bush. The rideshare driver responded by brandishing a knife, according to the witness. The witness stepped in to help when he was stabbed, LAPD said.
FOX 11

LAPD SWAT Team Raids Alleged Illegal Gambling Site In Pacoima
Los Angeles police raided an alleged illegal gambling business in the San Fernando Valley, arresting one person Wednesday night. A number of individuals were seen outside the business lying prone on the ground with their hands behind their heads as SWAT officers raided the establishment in the 13100 block of Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima. More than a dozen people were initially taken into custody. AIR7 HD was overhead as authorities used a battering ram to open a door. The exact nature of the business and type of activities that allegedly occurred inside were not immediately disclosed.
ABC 7

Boy Arrested After Handgun Found In His Backpack At Crenshaw High
A student at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles was arrested today after a loaded gun was found in his backpack. Staff was performing a random metal detection and search operation around 9:30 a.m. at the school at 5010 11th Ave. and the boy was asked to remove his backpack. A search of the pack revealed the handgun, according to Los Angeles School Police Department spokesman Sgt. Rudy Perez. The officer on campus was notified but while the student was being escorted by staff to the school office he fled and ran into the surrounding neighborhood, Perez said. A perimeter was set up and officers began searching the area, Perez said. Officers went to the boy's home, where family members consented to a search, but the boy was not found, Perez said.
FOX 11

Man Sentenced To 37 Years To Life In Prison In 2016 Stabbing Of 3-Year-Old At DTLA Factory
A man who fatally stabbed the daughter of a couple he worked with at a downtown Los Angeles garment factory in 2016 has been sentenced to 37 years to life in prison, officials said Wednesday. In September, a jury found 37-year-old Ricardo Augusto Utuy guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Utuy stabbed 3-year-old Ruby Vasquez on Oct. 31, 2016 at the factory where her parents worked, officials said. The couple had brought their daughter to work in the 800 block of McGarry Street, according to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office. "When the girl went to give her father a cookie, the mother saw Utuy running toward the 3-year-old," prosecutors said in an earlier statement. "The defendant then stabbed the girl multiple times with a knife." Ruby was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
KTLA 5

2 Men Arrested, Suspected Of Stealing $290K In Coins, Precious Metals From Southern California, Nevada Businesses
Officials arrested two men Sunday, Sept. 30 on suspicion of burglarizing roughly $292,000 worth of collectible coins and merchandise over a 10-week period from business in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. Investigators believe Caleb Jamal Griffin, 20, of Long Beach and Owen Lazaro Thompson, 49, of Las Vegas worked together in 21 separate heists that happened between July and September, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives officials said in a news release Monday. The thefts took place in Fullerton, Covina, Hesperia, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Tustin, Huntington Beach, Rolling Hills Estates, Torrance, Signal Hill, Santa Ana, Lake Forest, Brea, Alhambra and Las Vegas. Authorities arrested Griffin on Sunday while he was allegedly in the process of stealing from Fullerton Coins, 123 N. Raymond Avenue, ATF officials said in their release. Thompson was also taken into custody that day without incident at his home in Las Vegas.
Los Angeles Daily News

Public Safety News

L.A. County Reports First West Nile Virus Death
The first West Nile virus death has been reported in Los Angeles County. The public health department says the patient, who is a resident of the South Bay, was hospitalized and died from West Nile virus associated neuro-invasive disease. The victim's age or gender has not been released. The department says a total of nine cases have been documented in LA County this year. West Nile virus infected mosquitoes, dead birds and sentinel chickens have been reported in the county, the department says. “West Nile virus continues to be a serious health threat to residents in Los Angeles County. We encourage residents to check for items that can hold water and breed mosquitoes, both inside and outside their homes, and to cover, clean or clear out those items,” said Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis.
FOX 11

California Adopts 22 New Laws Aimed At Preventing Wildfires
California is adopting nearly two dozen laws aimed at preventing and fighting the devastating wildfires that have charred large swaths of the state in recent years and killed scores of people. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he had signed the 22 bills, saying several also will help the state meet its clean energy goals. The measures largely enact key recommendations from a June report by a governor's task force and build on $1 billion in the state budget devoted to preparing for wildfires and other emergencies, Newsom said. Newsom signed the legislation as the state approaches the anniversary of the wildfire that killed 85 people and largely leveled the Northern California town of Paradise last November. It's just short of the second anniversary of the firestorms that raced through the wine country counties north and east of San Francisco, noted state Sen. Mike McGuire, a Democrat representing Healdsburg in the affected areas. But he said the state is learning from its mistakes.
KTLA 5

Local Government News

L.A. Vows To Void 2 Million Court Citations And Warrants. Homeless People Will Benefit
Most In a dramatic move designed to ease the challenges facing the region's poor and homeless people, Los Angeles officials said Wednesday that they were voiding nearly 2 million minor citations and warrants that had kept people trapped in the court system. The announcement is designed to fix a system that has led to many people being repeatedly ticketed and arrested for minor infractions, leading to growing fines and warrants. For homeless people, that has created roadblocks to accessing housing and services. Nationally, big cities have been trying to move away from citations and infractions that according to critics “nickel and dime” those living on the streets into jail cells. Until now in Los Angeles, eliminating citations had been done on a limited basis. A Times data analysis in 2018 found a vicious cycle of homeless arrests. Los Angeles has more than a dozen “quality-of-life” laws — restricting sleeping on the sidewalk, living in a car or low-level drug possession, for example — that police usually enforce with a citation.
Los Angeles Times

As Gas Prices Rise, LA Officials Call On State To Phase Out Oil, Gas Drilling
With gas prices over $4 a gallon, Californians are already feeling the pain at the pump. Now some local lawmakers are calling for a ban on drilling in the state and for Gov. Gavin Newsom to take bold steps to restrict oil production as well. Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz is one of the local leaders pushing for new regulations. "We need to take some major steps forward, particularly stopping new permits for oil drilling, putting a 2,500 foot buffer around all oil drilling sites and moving to a 100% clean energy future," he said. Gas price research firm Gas Buddy says banning drilling will increase prices, though it is hard to say how much. The firm also says the state will have to import more oil from overseas from volatile regions like the Middle East. The proposals would also impact oil and gas sector jobs, especially in towns like El Segundo where a large Chevron refinery is a key part of the local economy.
ABC 7

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Law Enforcement News - Wed, 10/02

LAPD Leadership Making Suicide Prevention A Priority Until recently
The Los Angeles Police Department had a record streak going. No officer died by suicide for over two years. Before 2017the department was averaging two per year. LAPD points to several initiatives for their success. Proactive efforts by the Behavioral Science Unit, the police protective league increasing awareness, and leadership making suicide prevention a priority. Unfortunately, the streak ended a few weeks ago. NBC4 has learned of a recent death of a veteran detective. "Every day this fight has to go on," LAPD police Chief Michel Moore says. One example, the second annual heart of LAPD walk for suicide awareness and prevention. Organizers include the widow of a slain officer, and police psychologists who work with officers daily. Over 1,000 people shared stories as they walked.
NBC 4

Complaints Against LAPD Rise As Body-Worn Cameras Help Exonerate Officers And Prove Misconduct

Years after spending millions on body-worn cameras, the devices have shown that a small number of Los Angeles police officers committed misconduct while the public levied many false allegations against cops last year, according to a department report. In 2018, the recordings helped determine officers committed infractions in 56 cases. But police leaders found another 264 complaints against officers “demonstrably false” or resulted in complete exoneration, according to an annual report presented Tuesday to the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. Both of those figures rose significantly from five and 79, respectively, the prior year. The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the report shows LAPD “officers continue to provide excellent service in a professional manner and demonstrates the reality that officers fall victim to hundreds of false complaints a year.” The false complaints waste resources and harm officers careers, the union's board of directors said in a statement. The union said it is a strong advocate for effective training that improves officer and community outcomes. “As police officers, we are always looking for opportunities for continuous improvement and quality training,” the statement said.
Los Angeles Times

LAPD Rallies At Elementary Schools Seek To Discourage Students From Joining Gangs, Bullying
It isn't your typical auditorium assembly. Los Angeles police officers are tackling a serious issue, using a fun and hands-on approach. Outside on the playground of Harding Elementary, officers are asking kids to "Just Say No" to gangs, crime, drugs, and bullying. The kids danced, played games, and most important, took a pledge not to bully. Despite the efforts of many schools to prevent it, the LAPD says it has seen a rise in bullying. Last week, a 13-year-old Moreno Valley boy died, following injuries he suffered during a campus fight. In a separate incident, a student in Orange County was arrested for fighting. According to a 2017 survey from the California School Climate, 25 percent of students had experienced harassment or bullying in the last 12 months. Twenty percent had experienced cyber bullying in the last 12 months. This is why parents believe these programs are so important. This is the LAPD's 44th "Just Say No" rally at an elementary school. Officers say it's never too early to teach these important lessons.
ABC 7

LAPD Bodycam Video Shows Officer-Involved Shooting Of Armed Man With Slungshot Weapon In Venice, Police Say

Body camera footage released Monday by the Los Angeles Police Department shows the officer-involved shooting of a man in Venice who authorities say was armed with a slungshot weapon and a wooden plank. Officers shot 37-year-old John Penny in the leg and forearm on Aug. 14, near Thornton Court and Pacific Avenue, the LAPD said. The incident began as a police response to reports of a screaming man. According to investigators, the shooting occurred after Penny picked up the wooden plank and moved toward the officers, ignoring their repeated commands to put it down. Penny, who was on probation for battery at the time of the incident, subsequently surrendered and was taken into custody. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office later charged him with three counts of preventing an executive officer from the performance of their duties, and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon.
ABC 7

Woman Robbed At Gunpoint For $500 Purse On Front Porch Of West Hills Home

Authorities are looking for two suspects who were caught on security video robbing a woman on the doorstep of a West Hills home Monday night. The robbery occurred just after 10:30 p.m. in the 7700 block of Woodhall Avenue, according to Los Angeles police. The video shows a woman on the front porch, about to enter the home, when a hooded man rushes towards her brandishing what appears to be a handgun. “Give me your f—— purse,” the suspect is heard saying several times. The suspect waves the handgun at her as he rips the $500 purse from off her shoulder, turns and runs away. A second suspect who was standing on the front lawn during the robbery flees as well. The woman was not injured during the ordeal. She gave chase for a bit before realizing she wouldn't be able to catch up, and saw the car drive off. Her father told CBSLA that there were actually three suspects: the two men seen in the video and a third man waiting in a getaway car.
CBS 2

71-Year Sex Crimes Sentence For Sun Valley And San Fernando Wrestling Coach

For nearly two-and-a-half decades, former wrestling coach Terry Gillard used his position as a trusted community member to draw poor and struggling students into wrestling for his teams in San Fernando and Sun Valley. Once they were in his thrall, joining what he called his inner circle of wrestlers, prosecutors said, Gillard would manipulate his teenage victims into depraved sexual encounters with himself and other students. To keep them in line, Gillard demanded loyalty, deriding other students as “snitches” who weren't worthy of his attention, according to the victims and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. On Tuesday, in an emotional court hearing attended by some of those same victims and their families, Gillard was sentenced to 71 years in state prison for dozens of sex crimes involving nine children, some who were preteens at the time their coach abused them.
Los Angeles Daily News

WeHo Private School Director To Plead Guilty In College Admissions Scandal
The head of a West Hollywood private school where some parents allegedly had their children's college entrance-exam scores fixed filed court papers Tuesday in Boston indicating he will plead guilty and cooperate with investigators. Igor Dvorskiy, director of the West Hollywood College Preparatory School, agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, and he is expected to enter the plea no later than Nov. 20, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court in Boston. The Sherman Oaks man also agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation and to testify in court if called, according to a supplemental document. He also agreed to forfeit $150,000.
MyNewsLA.com

Can DUI Convictions Help Keep Guns Out Of The Hands Of People Prone To Violence?
Drinking and driving is already a deadly cocktail. New research finds that adding gun ownership to the mix heightens the risk for violent outcomes. A study that set out to track about 80,000 legal gun purchasers in California found that handgun buyers with a DUI on their record were more likely to go on to be arrested for a violent crime. That was the case even if driving under the influence of alcohol was the only criminal conviction in his or her past. In the roughly dozen years after purchasing a gun in 2001, Californians who had already been convicted of drunk driving were 2.5 times more likely than those with no DUI convictions to be arrested on suspicion of murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault, according to the study published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine. If the range of violent offenses was broadened slightly to include crimes like stalking, harassment or child neglect, handgun buyers with a prior DUI were more than three times likelier than those with no DUI conviction to be arrested.
Los Angeles Times

'Everything That You're Feeling Is Okay'

Tiffany Brown was on the second day of a much-needed vacation when her work phone rang around 10 p.m. It was a colleague from the coroner's office, where she'd worked for a decade. There'd been a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, and they needed her at a hospital where they were sending victims. The single mother left her two sons, who were 11 and 14, sleeping in their beds and rushed to a nearby hospital. Part of her job as a senior investigator was to examine the bodies of the dead and then notify next of kin. When she pulled up to University Medical Center, Tiffany found that wounded people were arriving in ambulances, Ubers, the back of a pickup truck. Their flesh was shredded. The floor was sticky with blood. Before she could do anything, Tiffany was called by a different colleague, who asked her to report to the scene of the shooting, where 58 people had been killed and 422 more injured when a man fired into a crowd of festival-goers from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. It was the deadliest shooting in modern American history.
The Trace

Public Safety News

Fire Damages Medical Building In Mid-City, Extinguished In About 90 Minutes
Firefighters needed about 90 minutes Tuesday morning to extinguish a "stubborn" fire in a two-story commercial building in Mid-City. Crews responded about 1:50 a.m. to the 5200 block of Washington Boulevard, just west of Redondo Boulevard, and found smoke coming from the medical building. Upon entry, they encountered fire on both floors, according to Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Medical and dental offices, as well as a methadone clinic, were located inside the building. A total of 68 firefighters battled the "stubborn blaze" and a knockdown was declared around 3:15 a.m., Stewart said. No injuries were reported and the LAFD Arson section was called to the scene to investigate the cause of the fire.
NBC 4

Valley Glen Intersection Where Crossing Guard Was Killed Gets LA's Newest Traffic Signal
A new kind of traffic signal has been installed at an intersection frequently traversed by students in the Valley Glen area, following the death of a crossing guard two weeks ago. The signal, known as a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (or HAWK) beacon, first blinks yellow to warn motorists to slow down, and then red for them to halt at Vanowen Street and Sunnyslope Avenue, allowing pedestrians to cross the street. It was installed this week, following the death of a crossing guard, 57-year-old Delia Huerta Arrearan of Sun Valley, on Sept. 16. Arrearran had been a crossing guard with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for 13 years when she was killed as she accompanied a teen pedestrian across the street. A full-fledged traffic signal had been planned for that intersection but would not have been ready until a year later, so installing the HAWK beacon signal was a way to improve safety at the intersection on short notice, according to transportation officials.
Los Angeles Daily News

Local Government News


L.A. County Votes To Ban Flavored Tobacco, Calls For Statewide Vaping Ban
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance banning flavored tobacco products, including menthol, and to call on Gov. Gavin Newsom to pass a statewide ban on vaping. The board had originally held the item for discussion, but ultimately approved it without comment from any of the supervisors as the meeting ran long. The board's vote to ban flavored tobacco came out of a request last year by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to better regulate tobacco shops. "The growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping puts the health and well-being of our communities, particularly our youth, at risk," Ridley-Thomas said following last week's initial vote to introduce the ordinance. "This is not an assault on businesses but a thoughtful and balanced approach to legislation."
FOX 11
 
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