Massive Customs Dept. Airplane Tracking Program Wastes Resources, Violates Rights

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department, such outrageous activities of private pilots as long travel distances, frequent course changes, not filing a flight plan (not required for private pilots), landings at remote airports, and flying east from California are all activities so suspicious that they entitle federal agents to ignore first and fourth amendment rights and conduct extensive searches of aircraft, with no additional probable cause, often while holding the pilot and any passengers at gunpoint, and frequently dismantling portions of their aircraft.

This has now come to light due to complaints made to members of Congress by the 570,000 member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. As many as 70 AOPA pilots have made complaints of searches of their aircraft, with not a single such search resulting Continue reading

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The Conundrum of Municipal Elections – How To Fix Them

Continually changing demographics have resulted in the under representation in local government of significant groups in cities across the country. Cities that now include large numbers of residents from various backgrounds overwhelmingly are governed by councils that have retained the same ethic makeup as before such population shifts. As with ethnic makeup, much the same thing can be said about the gender makeup of local governmental bodies.

In the past year in California, several lawsuits have met the issue of ethnic representation head on, with solutions that have in the past been largely ineffective in producing desired results. Continue reading

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What Does It Take For LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to Fire Anyone?

I recently wrote about the final Los Angeles Police Commission report on the firing of over 100 rounds by a group of LAPD officers at two innocent women, without any form of probable cause and without any warning whatsoever, causing injuries to both of them, and resulting in the city paying $4.2 M to settle the two women’s’ damage claims. Despite overwhelming evidence of misconduct, LA Police Chief Charlie Beck determined that none of the offices should lose their jobs, and in fact went virtually unpunished, being ordered only to undergo retraining before being returned to full duty.

Now in another case that has received a measure of notoriety, though for very different reasons, Chief Beck has overruled a LAPD Disciplinary Board determination that another officer should be fired for misconduct. Continue reading

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Death of Lawrence Walsh Should Refresh Our Memories of Iran-Contra

Lifelong republican and legal icon Lawrence E. Walsh died last week. Lawyer, federal court judge, and Deputy Attorney General, he worked for and served at the behest of gop and right wing interests, but he was not a demagogue, and he looked for justice and fairness in most all he undertook. He lived to be 102, and accomplished much, but he will be remembered as the independent counsel who investigated and exposed the massive cover-up of perhaps the biggest actual scandal ever perpetrated by an occupant of the White House, all occurring under the watchful eye of the worst president, and the most inherently evil president (with the possible exception of Andrew Jackson), that this county has ever seen, ronald reagan.

Reagan was elected president in 1980 in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and the taking hostage of 52 American diplomats and citizens, all ultimately held for close to a year and a half and released to coincide with reagan’s inauguration. US-Iran relations were, on the surface and as far as American citizens knew, non-existent for decades thereafter. Under the surface and hidden not just from the public but also from Congress, reagan administration officials were working with the new fanatically anti-American Iranian government, selling to them a vast array of US military weapons. Continue reading

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Worse Than Tim Donnelly? Amazing, But True

Glenn Champ, a resident of Tollhouse, CA, in Fresno County, is seeking a new job. His resume is as follows:

  • 1992 – Guilty Plea to Carrying a Concealed Weapon;
  • 1993 – Conviction on two Counts of Assault with Intent to Commit Rape, resulting in a 90-day jail sentence and his placement on the state’s Sex Offender Registry;
  • 1998 – Guilty Plea to Loitering to Solicit a Prostitute;
  • 1998 – No Contest Plea to Voluntary Manslaughter, incurring a 12-year state prison sentence.

So, what job is he seeking? You’ll never guess. Continue reading

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Georgia – Where Medical Care is For the RIch, But Guns Are For Everyone, Everywhere

A few weeks ago, it was widely reported how Georgia governor Nathan Deal had devised a plan to stop the continuing surge of bankruptcies among rural Georgia hospitals. Due to his and other state gop leaders, Georgia refused the Affordable Care Act medicaid expansion, leaving more than one half million state residents with no health coverage. Hospitals that were treating such uninsured residents, especially in rural areas, were going broke, with as many as eight such hospitals reportedly filing for bankruptcy in the recent past.

Gov. Deal’s response was certainly not to reconsider the state’s position on the ACA and accept all that free federal money to pay for medicaid coverage for the next three years (plus 90% of the cost the following year), but rather his plan was to tell the federal government that the laws requiring that hospitals must treat emergency care patients – you know, those people having heart attacks, hemorrhaging from gunshot wounds, or with broken legs – regardless of their ability to pay, should be changed so that such patients could be turned away. Continue reading

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Do Gun Nuts Really Want to be Literal?

The second amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The average gun nut generally chooses to ignore that first part, the first few words that modify the rest of the sentence, that part that makes all that stuff about the “right” of the people to bear arms not being infringed apply specifically and only to that militia. Gun nuts and the rest of the reactionary, libertarian, fanatical right are real good at that, pretending that the parts of the Constitution that they don’t like don’t exist, like that meaningless stuff about not establishing a religion. Continue reading

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Supreme Court Facing Far-Reaching Issues in Hobby Lobby Case

Next week, the United States Supreme Court will be deciding several issues of significant importance in cases brought by Hobby Lobby and a small furniture company, Conestoga Wood Specialties. I’ve written several times about these issues, including about Hobby Lobby and its fanatical, anti-Semitic owner, David Green, and his attempt to force his religious beliefs upon first the thousands of people who are employed by his company, and through this litigation, in effect upon millions of additional people who have employer-provided health insurance coverage.

The short and concise statement that these cases seek to overturn the Affordable Care Act provisions that requires full coverage for contraception in employer-provided health insurance policies is far too narrow and simplistic – much more is at stake. The broader issues include the far-reaching position that an employer can force his employees to subscribe to his personal religious beliefs, and in fact, that point is argued to apply to a corporate employer, that is, that a corporation not only can posses religious beliefs, but that it has the power to command that its employees also follow those beliefs. Continue reading

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Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Politicians Gaining Power, and Legitimacy from the US

Missing from the vast majority of news reports from the Ukraine is virtually any mention of the current makeup of the new government of acting president Turchynov, who has embraced the most despicable elements of Ukrainian society and provided them positions of power.

Sen. John McCain and Svoboda Party Leader Oleh Tyahnybok

Sen. John McCain and Svoboda Party Leader Oleh Tyahnybok

I am not voicing any support whatsoever for the tactics of Putin or for Russian aggression, but it is the current makeup of the Ukrainian power structure that is more than scary and that mirrors 1930s nazi Germany.

Right-wing nationalists groups, the most powerful of which is the Svoboda party, are major players in the acting government, and their racist and discriminatory policies are becoming embodied throughout the government. Svoboda party members now occupy numerous positions of power in Turchynov’s government, including deputy prime minister Oleksandr Sych, prosecutor general Oleh Makhnitsky, and the the position of minister of defense. Continue reading

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Schizophrenic Ninth Circuit Issuing Bad, Bad Decisions

As I wrote last month, while the ongoing legacy of decades of reagan and bush presidencies has been the flooding of the nations’ federal court system with hundreds of judges who possess insufficient intelligence and who are unable and unwilling to set aside personal prejudices and beliefs, and thus have no business being judges with lifetime tenure, the last bastion of judicial independence and non-partisan thinking has long been the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Even though the list of 27 full-time active justices* on the 9th circuit includes 18 judges appointed by Democratic presidents, it also includes nine appointed by republicans (all named either reagan or bush), and when three-judge panels are chosen to hear cases, there can be such panels that include two republican appointees who see things with a jaundiced eye. Such was the situation in Peruta and the National Rifle and Pistol Foundation v San Diego, where reagan and g w bush appointees destroyed the long-standing “good cause” requirement for the issuance of concealed weapons permits.

Now, a panel that again included reagan and g w bush appointees, plus a Clinton appointee who, unfortunately, concurred in part, the SAME justice, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, wrote for the court an opinion that slaps basic concepts of right and wrong across the face, and bodes very badly for improperly accused people, innocent of any wrongdoing. Continue reading

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GOP Plan – Out of Sight, Out of Mind

It seems that on a couple of fronts, gop controlled state governments are engaging in a practice of removing from sight, and in their warped thinking, from the minds of the rest of society, information and more about ideas and developments with which they disagree. This recently has been very evident concerning environment related issues.

In North Carolina, where environmental issues have been in the forefront of public awareness much of this year since the catastrophic event of the leaking of 82,000 tons of Duke Energy coal ash into the Dan River, and where the gop governor Pat McCrory is not just a climate change denier but a 28-year employee of Duke Energy prior to his election, Continue reading

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Proposed Military Budget Cuts a Step in the Right Direction

A measure of common sense and decency has suddenly arisen in Washington, D.C., where Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled a defense budget proposal that comes close to bringing the United States in line with the rest of the world and real twenty-first century needs.

The US has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet it accounts for 39% of the entire world’s spending on military. For comparison, China, with close to 20% of the world’s population, accounts for less than 10% of world military spending. US spending exceeds that of the next ELEVEN countries Continue reading

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