Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BIZARRE SHOOT-THRU MAN'S HEAD TO WOMAN'S CHEST HOMICIDE

by Bob Walsh

I have to admit this is a new one for me. Victor Sibson was stinking drunk in his apartment in Anchorage when he attempted to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. He was successful in shooting himself in the head, but the wound was not fatal. The bullet, however, passed thru his skull and hit and killed his girlfriend, Brittanymae Haag, 22. He is being charged with second-degree murder.

The truly interesting part of this case is the cops really do think that only one bullet was fired and the bullet really did go thru Sibson's skull before it hit Brittanymae. Maybe his brain was so small, or shrivled up by alcohol, the bullet hit only empty air in his cranial vault. The cops believe that she was trying to act to prevent him from killing himself when the gun fired. The bullet lodged in her chest.

Victor claims to have no recollection of the incident. He might even be telling the truth. He is being held pending $250,000 bail and could get 99 years as a guest of the people of Alaska if convicted.

‘AS A YOUNG OFFICER, THIS BECAME ONE OF THOSE SALIENT MOMENTS IN MY CAREER’

For 25 years, the burned remains of a teenager found during L.A. riots was a mystery. Now, the cop who found him has the answer

By Richard Winton

Los Angeles Times
May 23, 2017

This month the Los Angeles Police Department marks a milestone 25 years since the city’s 1992 riots. The department also closed a long open chapter of the violence that claimed more than 60 lives.

Armando Ortiz Hernandez, until now known only as John Doe No. 80, was identified through fingerprints. He was the last victim to be identified. Hernandez, 18, was inside the auto repair shop at 5801 S. Vermont Ave., just north of Slauson Avenue, when it was set on fire sometime after the riots started on April 29, 1992. His body was not found until May 2.

Jorge Macias was a young officer patrolling the area at the time. He discovered the body. Macias had to wait 25 years to learn the name of the dead man. He talked to The Times about his recollection of finding the victim and what it took to finally make the identification:

FLAGGED DOWN BY A KID
‘Officer, there’s a dead guy in there!

Here are the circumstances leading to the initial finding of the victim’s body. Although I was assigned to work Southeast Patrol Division, this incident took place in 77th Division. I was patrolling around the third day of the riots, when I was flagged down by a 10-year-old boy. He said, “Officer, there’s a dead guy in there!” He pointed to a burned-out pile of rubble on the west side of the street, which I believe was either Figueroa or Vermont. I asked him to show me where and we approached the still smoldering structure. The boy pointed beyond some fallen girders which had fallen at acute angles ostensibly from the roof, when the roof had given way, sealing the victim’s fate. I had to duck walk under the maze of obstacles including the blackened steel beams until I reached the remains.

FINDING THE REMAINS
‘This became one of those salient moments in my career’

The ground was covered with some four inches of building materials including soaked drywall, which was like a thick opaque slush. Upon seeing the body, I noted the exposed parts including a leg were mostly skeletonized. However, the face and arms were saved by the ground detritus that had protected his hands and face, somewhat mummifying those body parts spared from the flames. I remember thinking that perhaps the Coroner’s Office might be able to fingerprint and identify the body so that loved ones would know what had happened. As a young officer, this became one of those salient moments in my career. I notified Communications Division and set up the ubiquitous yellow crime scene tape as I had so often during that tumultuous time period.

FINDING SOME CLOSURE
‘I am relieved that there is at last a name to this person’

I remember thinking that the young boy who had spotted the body should never had had to witness such a macabre scene. This latter thought has remained with me all these years and I recounted the experience to my children when they asked about these troubled times.

I moved forward in my career eventually making sergeant and lieutenant, where today I oversee recruitment for the Department. However, I never forgot this person or the young boy that first led me to the body. I am relieved that there is at last a name to this person and closure (if there is such a thing) for the family.

VOTER-APPROVED MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION LAW ALLOWS FELONY CONVICTIONS OF CALIFORNIA DRUG DEALERS TO BE REDUCED TO THE EQUIVALENT OF A TRAFFIC TICKET

Pot convictions go up in smoke with California marijuana legalization

By Brian Melley

Associated Press
May 22, 2017

Jay Schlauch's conviction for peddling pot haunted him for nearly a quarter century.

The felony prevented him from landing jobs, gave his wife doubts about tying the knot and cast a shadow over his typically sunny outlook on life.

So when an opportunity arose to reduce his record to a misdemeanor under the voter-approved law that legalized recreational marijuana last year, Schlauch wasted little time getting to court.

"Why should I be lumped in with, you know, murderers and rapists and people who really deserve to get a felony?" he asked.

This lesser-known provision of Proposition 64 allows some convicts to wipe their rap sheets clean and offers hope for people with past convictions who are seeking work or loans. Past crimes can also pose a deportation threat for some convicts.

It's hard to say how many people have benefited, but more than 2,500 requests were filed to reduce convictions or sentences, according to partial state figures reported through March. The figures do not yet include data from more than half of counties from the first quarter of the year.

While the state does not tally the outcomes of those requests, prosecutors said they have not fought most petitions.

Marijuana legalization advocates, such as the Drug Policy Alliance, have held free legal clinics to help convicts get their records changed. Lawyers who specialize in pot defense have noted a steady flow of interest from new and former clients.

Attorney Bruce Margolin said he got two to three cases a week, many of them decades old.

Margolin has spent most of his five-decade career fighting pot cases and pushing for legalization of marijuana, even making it a platform for unsuccessful runs for state Legislature and Congress.

A coffee table in the waiting room of his office is covered with copies of High Times magazine, a book called "Tokin' Women," a history of women and weed, and copies of Margolin's own guide to marijuana laws in every state. His office in the back of a bungalow in West Hollywood has the faint whiff of pot in the air.

Since the passage of Proposition 64, he's gotten convicts out of prison, spared others time behind bars and successfully knocked felonies down to misdemeanors.

But he's also encountered a lot of confusion about the law that went into effect immediately in November.

"They were totally unprepared," he said of judges and prosecutors in courts he's appeared in throughout the state. "It's amazing. You would have thought they should have had seminars to get them up to speed so we don't have to go through the process of arguing things that are obvious, but we're still getting that."

That has not been the case in San Diego, where prosecutors watched polls trending in favor of marijuana legalization and moved proactively to prevent chaos, said Rachel Solov, chief of the collaborative courts division of the district attorney's office. They learned lessons from the 2014 passage of Proposition 47, which reduced several nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors.

Prosecutors in the county researched which convicts serving time or probation were eligible for sentence reductions and notified the public defender's office so they could quickly get into court. Many were freed immediately, Solov said.

"Whether we agree with the law or not, our job is to enforce it," Solov said. "It's the right thing to do. If someone's in custody and they shouldn't be in custody anymore, we have an obligation to address that."

San Diego County led the state with the most number of petitions reported in the first two months after the law was passed. It has reduced sentences or convictions in nearly 400 cases, Solov said.

In Mendocino County, where pot farming is big business and violent crimes are often tied to the crop, District Attorney C. David Eyster said he fights any case not eligible for a reduction, such as applicants with a major felony in their past, a sex offense or two previous convictions for the same crime.

He said he would also fight a reduction if someone is caught cultivating weed while committing an environmental crime, such as stealing or polluting water. Otherwise — in a quirk that has some in law enforcement baffled — someone caught with two plants or 2,000 would both face a misdemeanor.

"This is one of those areas where size doesn't matter," Eyster said.

When it came time for Schlauch's hearing this winter, he showed up an hour early at the Van Nuys courthouse. He was anxious but optimistic as he paced the hallway clutching a folder with letters praising him for doing volunteer work with veterans, working with children with disabilities at a martial arts school and earning a nursing degree long after his run-in with the law.

It had been more than two decades since he was sentenced to nine months in jail. He only served about a month.

The case was so old that the court file was incomplete.

A prosecutor rifling through papers wondered whether he was eligible for relief. He had 8.5 pounds of marijuana, she said. The file noted psychedelic mushrooms were also found, and she questioned whether the discovery of guns made him a threat.

Schlauch, 58, was never charged with a gun offense. He said the registered weapons were unloaded and locked in a safe. His only conviction was for possession with intent to sell marijuana, Margolin said.

The judge flipped through the fat penal code book to review the new law.

"I don't see any reasonable risk of danger. It seems like he's entitled," Judge Martin Herscovitz said. "The petition is granted."

It barely took five minutes to lift a weight he had carried so long. He never had to say a thing or show he had turned his life around. He bounded from the courtroom, elated.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some guy by the name of Joe Bates made the following comment on the KPCC publication of this article:

When Mr. Schlauch made the decision to illegally deal drugs 25 years ago he knew perfectly well it was a serious felony. He didn't care. Now I do not care that he ruined his life.

I couldn’t have put it any better myself. When Schlauch decided to sell drugs, whether pot or heroin, he sealed his own fate. Fuck him and the others like him!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY ….. BUT WHOSE HISTORY?

LGBTQ supporters are crying foul over the Texas House passage of a watered-down bathroom bill

BY Howie Katz

Big Jolly Politics
May 22, 2017

Under Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s threat to force a special session, the Texas House passed a watered down bathroom bill that, unlike the Senate version which applies to all public facilities, applies only to public schools.

The House version was attached at the last minute Sunday night to another bill. It prohibits transgenders from using the public school bathroom of their choice. However the House bill requires schools to have a single-occupancy bathroom for those students who don’t want to use the facilities designated for their biological sex.

Houston’s Rep. Senfronia Thompson cried foul. “I was living through that [Jim Crow] era. Bathrooms divided us then, and it divides us now,” she told the House. “America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all.”

I know this is not politically correct, but when we’re talking about transgenders, we could actually be talking about mentally ill people. Dr. Joseph Berger is a prominent Canadian psychiatrist in Toronto whose list of credentials establishes him as a mental illness expert. Dr. Berger believes that people who identify themselves as transgendered are mentally ill or simply unhappy. Accordingly, he has pointed out that hormone therapy and surgery are not appropriate treatments for psychosis or unhappiness.

Bruce Jenner is a perfect example of Dr. Berger’s diagnosis. Brucella – oops, I mean Caitlyn - waited until his 60s to decide he was really a woman. And that was after three marriages and fathering six children, two with each of his wives. He didn’t develop a gender identification problem until he got mixed up with the Kardashians. I’ll believe Caitlyn is a woman when Jenner can get pregnant.

So here we are fighting over bathrooms in order to accommodate a bunch of nut cases. No one knows yet what the final version of the bathroom bill will be when it reaches the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott.

Even the watered down version of the House bill has the LGBTQ groups and their politically correct supporters all exercised. Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas says, “Targeting some of the most vulnerable children in our state is abhorrent, shameful, and disgraceful. The Texas lawmakers of the 85th legislative session are on wrong side of history.”

The wrong side of history? Smith must mean the politically correct version of history. From the founding of our country until a relatively few years ago, no one worried about who used which bathroom. The simple rule of law was, if you had a dick you used the ‘boys/men’ bathroom and if you did not have a dick you used the ‘girls/ladies’ bathroom. And that’s the way it should continue to be.

CLOCK BOY IS S.O.L.

by Bob Walsh

You might remember Ahmed Mohamed, who at the age of 14 was arrested at McArthur High School in Irving, Texas when he brought to school a device which looked very much like a bomb but was in fact a disassembled, ancient Radio Shack clock wired to some junk that looked remarkably like a bomb.

The D.A. never filed charges. Young Ahmed's father, Mohamed Mohamed, sued the Irving Independent School District, McArthur High School, the City of Irving and the school principal for unspecified damages.

U.S. District Court Judge Sam Lindsay has just told Mr. Mohamed (very politely I am sure) to kick rocks. His mere assertion that they were discriminated against is not proof of actual discrimination.

The family has in the intervening time left the country and moved to some middle-east shit hole country. At one time they were asking for $15 million and an apology. What they got instead was a "fuck you" which is pretty much what they deserved.

PARTING WAYS WITH THOSE DAYS IN AMERICAN HISTORY WHEN CHILD BRIDES WERE QUITE COMMON

Texas Legislature Passes Bill Aimed to End Its Forced Child Marriages Problem

By Meagan Flynn

Houston Press
May 22, 2017

When Dr. Nusrat Ameen hears from young women who married as children, it is often at the stage when they are trying to escape.

Ameen works for Daya, an organization in Houston that helps women or families that are dealing with domestic violence, and has been studying and advocating against forced marriages since 1999. She has heard from a 20-year-old college student whose parents had forced her to marry her cousin at age 16, and whose parents threatened to take away her tuition money unless she consummated the marriage. Ameen has heard from a 17-year-old girl forced to marry a 25-year-old man and who wanted to go off to college, not move in with a man she did not love. She's heard from a mother who was concerned that her daughter's friend was being forced into a marriage, who was wondering, what can we do to stop this?

The Texas Legislature may have just answered with a solution: banning child marriages altogether, as the House voted to do on Friday, sending the legislation up to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature.

Texas has long enjoyed the unfortunate honor of having the second-highest rate of child marriages in the United States, with a rate of seven per 1,000 children married between the ages of 15 and 17, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center report. The Lone Star State just barely second to West Virginia. In Texas, there is actually no minimum age for marriage, so Ameen has even seen child brides as young as 12 or 13 marrying men in their 20s or 30s. From 2000 to 2014, more than 40,000 children got married in Texas, according to data published by the Tahirih Justice Center, another organization staunchly supportive of the bill. The problem cuts across cultural, religious and ethnic divides, Ameen said, but is more common with teen girls than boys.

For a child to get married in Texas, if she is 16 or 17, all she needs is a parent's consent — which can at times be more akin to coercion — and if she is 15 or younger, she also needs judicial approval.

"The parents may have good intentions to get the children off in hands of people they trust, and do something good for them in the long run," Ameen said. "But that may lead to a forced marriage because of the fact that the person is a child, not knowing how to protect herself. Forced marriage can give rise to domestic violence, to having reproductive rights refused and to being financially dependent on the person they are marrying."

Once the child is married and possibly faces domestic violence or sexual assault, even though they are still kids, Child Protective Services cant help them, because they are married.

The bill that passed Friday — Senate Bill 1705, authored by Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano) and sponsored by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) — would change all of that. It makes 18 the legal age to marry, and would only allow people younger than 18 to marry if they have already been emancipated by a court order (i.e., a judge found that they live on their own and are no longer dependent on parents or guardians to support themselves).

"We are very grateful to Senator Taylor for his leadership in taking this critical step to protect children in Texas from being forced to marry," Jeanne Smoot, senior policy counsel at the Tahirih Justice Center, another supporter of the bill, said in a statement. "This bill empowers young people to enter marriage only with their full and free consent."

Two poignant stories that circulated in recent months largely rallied legislators to support the bill. One was that of a Houston Chronicle writer's mother, who was forced into a marriage at age 14 and later escaped the marriage and lived lived out of a car for with an infant for several months at age 17. Another was that of Trevicia Williams, who at 14 was forced into a marriage with a 26-year-old abusive man. She gave birth to her first child while she was still one herself, at 15, and when she turned 18 she filed for divorce.

"I felt a deep sense of being powerless because of my age," she told legislators in written testimony. "Within the first 30 days of the marriage, my now ex-husband hit me. ...I asked my mother if I could return home and she told me no."

Should the bill be signed by Governor Abbott, it will go into effect on September 1.

Monday, May 22, 2017

STUDY REVEALS TRUMP HAS SUFFERED THE MOST UNFAVORABLE PRESS COVERAGE OF ANY PRESIDENT ON RECORD

A Harvard study found that 80 percent of Trump coverage was negative during his first 100 days in office, with the tone of the coverage being exceptionally antagonistic

By Sally Persons

The Washington Times
May 18, 2017

President Trump has suffered the most unfavorable press coverage of any president on record, according to a report from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard.

Mr. Trump has dominated the news since taking office, with 41 percent of all stories reviewed by the center focusing on the new president. That’s three times more than the average of previous presidents.

But the tone of the coverage was exceptionally antagonistic.

“Negative reports outpaced positive ones by 80 percent to 20 percent. Trump’s coverage was unsparing. In no week did the coverage drop below 70 percent negative and it reached 90 percent negative at its peak,” the analysts said in their new report, released Thursday.

The numbers could be seen to back up Mr. Trump’s claim this week that he’s suffered “unfairly.”

“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly,” the president said in an address to graduates at the Coast Guard Academy.

The Shorenstein study looked at coverage from ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN and Fox News as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. It also included the Financial Times, the BBC and ARD, Germany’s oldest public broadcast.

Since the 1960s, every president has dominated the news cycle, accounting for about an eighth of all news. But on national television, Mr. Trump accounted for 41 percent of coverage and was the main speaker in his news pieces two-thirds of the time. Another 11 percent of coverage was his administration staff, including his press secretary Sean Spicer.