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October 2019 - Week 2

A Purple Politician ?? Say it Ain't so !!

from The Los Angeles Times

Impeachment bellwether?

GOP Rep. Will Hurd could be on a collision course with the president

Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas tours the Rio Grande River with Border Patrol agents in June. The House's lone black Republican, Hurd has criticized President Trump’s rhetoric and policies.

By Molly O’Toole

EAGLE PASS, Texas — On a two-lane highway between Del Rio, Texas, and Eagle Pass, Republican Rep. Will Hurd shifted in the passenger seat of a small rental car. He’d folded his long frame into the tight space for the hour’s drive through his massive district, which stretches along more than 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The summer heat blurred the landscape outside.

Ever since his time as an undercover officer in the CIA, where he learned how to maintain control at high speeds, Hurd said, he prefers being in the driver’s seat.

“Old habits die hard, man.”

A few months later and 1,700 miles away in Washington, the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is hurtling forward with House Democrats behind the wheel. That leaves Hurd with a difficult decision: Put up roadblocks, or try to navigate?

Hurd, the lone black Republican in the House, is the rare GOP lawmaker who’s been willing to criticize Trump, both over his “me first” foreign policy and his harsh rhetoric toward immigrants and minorities. In August, Hurd announced that he would not run for another term, giving him even more latitude.

Now, amid the biggest drama of his congressional career, Hurd may not be in control, but his perch on the Intelligence Committee, which is leading the investigation of Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his reputation for going his own way, make him one of the most keenly watched people in the House.

How he handles the impeachment battle could shape public perception of whether the inquiry is a purely partisan exercise or an appropriate check on presidential power.

Under Trump, national-security-minded Republicans and those who believed the party needed to expand its support among nonwhite voters — Hurd fits both descriptions — have increasingly contorted themselves to justify policies they once vocally opposed. Impeachment may mean a final choice on whether to accept Trump’s dominance of their party.

Hurd was among the first Republicans to call on the Trump administration to release the whistleblower complaint that has brought the impeachment debate to a boil. Last month, after questioning acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, Hurd stopped short of openly supporting the impeachment inquiry, but called for further investigation.

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from The Los Angeles Times

Raising PURPLE People

A Muslim’s lesson for Yom Kippur

By Rob Eshman

Yom Kippur begins Oct. 8. It’s the holiest day of the Jewish year, when Jews engage in self-reckoning and look for ways to fix their flaws. This year someone helped me with this. His name is Mohammed.

I showed up to my book club earlier this month to discuss Mohammed Al Samawi’s book, “The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America.” In front of a coffee table filled with the usual nuts, chocolate and cheese, a smiling, dark-skinned man was sitting on the couch.

“I’m Mohammed,” he said.

And I said, “Wow.”

I had just read his book in a gulp. It is a gripping and true international thriller that, in the end, left me teary-eyed.

His story was miraculous, sure, but what really got to me were the lessons the book offers on how to heal the divisions that plague our country, our world and, ultimately, ourselves.

Al Samawi was raised in a devout Muslim home and trained in an educational system that taught him Western culture was corrupt and Jews were evil.

“The Jews are foxes,” one of his teachers told him. “Even if they seem good, they’re always hiding something.”

But first curiosity, then doubt, crept into Al Samawi’s mind. He began seeking out Christian and Jewish texts to see for himself. This led him to the internet, where Facebook groups brought him in contact with Jewish, Christian and Muslim interfaith activists around the world.

When civil war came to Yemen, Al Samawi, a Shiite, was staying in a neighborhood surrounded by Sunni fighters. He knew if he stayed, he faced certain death. His only hope was to flee his country.

He turned for help to the interfaith friends he had made online. Using all of their collective connections, this improbable group of Jews in America and Israel — Al Samawi calls them his “Avengers” — pulled off the rescue of a Muslim man thousands of miles away.

The twists in Al Samawi’s life didn’t stop there. One of his Avengers led him to producer Marc Platt, which led to a movie deal. Platt urged Al Samawi to write his story, and “The Fox Hunt” has been on international bestseller lists since its 2018 release.

But it all began with that moment, long before the civil war, when Al Samawi decided to challenge his own ingrained beliefs, when something inside nudged him to open his heart and mind.

What was that something ?

That’s what I wanted to know. In a world riven with religious and political conflict, we desperately need more of whatever it was.

I asked Al Samawi whether he could define what it was that led him to even want to change.

“My parents,” he said. “It was my parents.”

Even though his mother and father both adhered to a strict interpretation of Islam, they made education a priority for Al Samawi and allowed him to watch Western movies and television and listen to American popular music. These influences began to crack open his worldview. By the extremely conservative and closed standards of Yemeni society, they allowed just enough light in. And Al Samawi bloomed.

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from The Los Angeles Times

Are most homeless mentally ill?

Psychological, substance abuse and other problems are more pervasive than L.A. agency reported, a Times analysis finds

Nearly 17,000 were chronically homeless in L.A. County as of January.

By Doug Smith and Benjamin Oreskes

Mental illness, substance abuse and physical disabilities are much more pervasive in Los Angeles County’s homeless population than officials have previously reported, a Times analysis has found.

The Times examined more than 4,000 questionnaires taken as part of this year’s point-in-time count and found that about 76% of individuals living outside on the streets reported being, or were observed to be, affected by mental illness, substance abuse, poor health or a physical disability.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which conducts the annual count, narrowly interpreted the data to produce much lower numbers. In its presentation of the results to elected officials, the agency said only 29% of the homeless population had either a mental illness or substance abuse disorder and, therefore, 71% “did not have a serious mental illness and/or report substance use disorder.”

The Times, however, found that about 67% had either a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder. Individually, substance abuse affects 46% of those living on the streets — more than three times the rate previously reported — and mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder, affects 51% of those living on the streets, according to the analysis.

The homeless services authority did not dispute what The Times found. Rather, Heidi Marston, the agency’s acting executive director, explained that its report was in a format required by federal guidelines, leading to a different interpretation of the statistics.

“We’re acknowledging that there are more layers to the story,” Marston said.

The Times analysis aligns with a national study released Sunday by the California Policy Lab at UCLA, which found even higher rates in most categories. It also found that a mental health “concern” affected 78% of the unsheltered population and a substance abuse “concern” rate of 75%.

The findings lend statistical support to the public’s frequent association of mental illness, physical disabilities and substance abuse with homelessness. But neither the UCLA study nor the Times analysis suggests that these disabilities and health conditions alone cause people to end up on the streets. Elected officials and researchers largely agree that California’s affordable housing crisis and poverty are the primary drivers of homelessness.

Rather, both the analysis and the study illuminate a population struggling with complex mental health conditions and physical disabilities that interact and grow worse as people remain outside. Both data sets found mental and physical impairments to be far more prevalent among those living on the streets than in shelters.

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from The Los Angeles Times


Defining ‘sex’ discrimination

The Supreme Court should hold that the Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender workers too.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled four years ago in favor of same-sex marriage, gay Americans in many parts of the country found that they could be married on Sunday only to be fired from their jobs on Monday because of their sexual orientation. The court has an opportunity this term to rectify this unjust situation. The justices can and must do so.

On Tuesday, the court will weigh whether gay and transgender employees are protected not by the Constitution — the authority it cited for its marriage ruling — but by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII of that landmark law makes it illegal to dismiss or discriminate against any employee “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The question for the court is whether discrimination against gay or transgender employees constitutes sex discrimination. The answer is emphatically yes, even though these forms of discrimination may not have been on the minds of the members of Congress who enacted the Civil Rights Act.

The first oral argument to be heard Tuesday concerns two claims of alleged discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. One was filed by Donald Zarda, a New York skydiving instructor who said he was fired after telling a female customer to whom he would be strapped during a dive that he was gay, in an attempt to ease any nervousness she might be feeling. (Zarda has died, but his lawsuit is being pursued by his mother on behalf of his estate.) A second plaintiff, Gerald Bostock, says he was fired as a child advocate for the Clayton County, Ga., juvenile court system after he joined a gay softball league.

Additionally, the justices will consider a claim by a transgender woman named Aimee Stephens who says she was dismissed from her job at a Michigan funeral home after she informed the owner that she was transitioning to female and would be dressing as a woman at work.

If the plaintiffs were fired because they were gay or transgender, that’s an outrage. But is it a violation of Title VII? Some judges have answered no because the term “sex discrimination” wasn’t thought to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the time Title VII was enacted.

The Trump Justice Department is also taking a narrow view of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. In his brief in the funeral home case, U.S. Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco argues that when Title VII was enacted, “‘sex’ meant biological sex” and referred to the “physiological distinction” between male and female. (Francisco’s brief cites a definition of “sex” from a 1958 edition of Webster’s dictionary.)

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from The Los Angeles Times

A constitutional blind eye

Trump neither knows nor respects how our basic law limits his power


Letter from Washington -- There are times in Washington when events shift into fast forward. The last two weeks have felt faster than that.

To recap the most head-snapping events: After initially denying that he had urged Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, President Trump boasted that he had done just that — and publicly asked China to investigate Biden too.

Then, after Trump denied that his demand to Ukraine was linked to his decision to withhold U.S. military aid, text messages between U.S. diplomats and an account from a Republican senator confirmed that it was.

As the evidence mounted, the president accused House Democrats of plotting a “coup” and suggested that a senior member of Congress should be arrested for treason.

On Friday, House Democrats issued a subpoena to the White House for documents about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and his aides’ alleged attempts to cover them up. That kicked the impeachment inquiry into overdrive and probably means a ferocious court battle ahead.

One thread ties these collisions together: This president doesn’t appear to know or care much about the Constitution, especially the limits it puts on his power.

“I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want,” he said last year, referring to the part of the founding document that establishes the executive branch. But that’s not what Article II does at all.

Article II is the president’s job description. Like any job description, it spells out what he should do — and, by implication, what he shouldn’t.

It says that the president is commander in chief of the armed forces; that he has the power to appoint officials once Congress authorizes their positions; and, most important, that “he shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.”

It doesn’t give him the authority to ask foreign governments to investigate a potential opponent in the next election or block U.S. military aid to an ally to help his reelection campaign.

After trying out several explanations for his actions, Trump belatedly tried to cloak them in virtue, saying they were part of a hitherto undetected campaign against global corruption.

“I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty” to investigate corruption, he tweeted, including asking “other countries to help us out.”

But no president’s rights are absolute. And if Trump had read the Founding Fathers, he would know they saw foreign governments meddling in American politics as a threat, not an opportunity.

“As often as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recurs,” warned John Adams, who would become vice president under George Washington.

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from The Washington Post


Trump's defiance of oversight presents new challenge to Congress's ability to rein in the executive branch

By Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade

For the first time since Democrats took control of the House last year, President Trump's effort to stonewall congressional efforts at oversight have begun to show some cracks.

On Thursday, a former State Department official set off a firestorm when he defied the White House's no-cooperation strategy and provided Congress with text messages detailing the administration's effort to leverage a meeting with Trump to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart to launch investigations into the U.S. president's political rivals.

And House Democrats are expected to interview other critical witnesses this week as they try to build a case for impeaching Trump over his alleged willingness to seek the help of a foreign leader for his own political gain.

But these rare triumphs are seen as fleeting even by Democrats and serve as a stark reminder of how much the administration has run roughshod over Congress, prompting concerns among constitutional experts and lawmakers that Trump's hostile stance toward congressional oversight is undermining the separation of powers in a way that could have long-term implications for democracy.

“He is shaking the foundations of the republic,” said Kerry W. Kircher, who was House counsel for the Republican majority between 2011 and 2016. “He is poking his fingers into all of the places where we have norms and traditions and things that both parties have respected for years, and he has blown all of those out the window.”

Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who has overseen the recent flurry of oversight activity in the House, said the spike in witness cooperation and the willingness of whistleblowers to come forward has been a welcome change in an otherwise frustrating exercise. But Schiff doesn't expect it to last long, predicting the White House will continue what he called its “siege” on documents and witnesses in the coming days.

That's one reason Democrats have decided they can no longer wait on the courts to come to their rescue. If Trump continues to stonewall their investigations — particularly on Ukraine — they will compile a list of his defiant actions and package it into an article of impeachment on obstructing Congress, according to senior Democrats familiar with their strategy.

“The real risk of the Trump administration's blanket stonewalling of Congress is that it's fundamentally altered the balance of power that our framers intended,” Schiff said in an interview Saturday. “If a president can thwart congressional oversight that means any future president can be as corrupt as they choose and there's no recourse.”

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from The Atlantic


Top Military Officers Unload on Trump

The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?

By Mark Bowden

For most of the past two decades, American troops have been deployed all over the world—to about 150 countries. During that time, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have experienced combat, and a generation of officers have come of age dealing with the practical realities of war. They possess a deep well of knowledge and experience. For the past three years, these highly trained professionals have been commanded by Donald Trump.

To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees. Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly; the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated. They come from different branches of the military, but I’ll simply refer to them as “the generals.” Some spoke only off the record, some allowed what they said to be quoted without attribution, and some talked on the record.

Military officers are sworn to serve whomever voters send to the White House. Cognizant of the special authority they hold, high-level officers epitomize respect for the chain of command, and are extremely reticent about criticizing their civilian overseers. That those I spoke with made an exception in Trump’s case is telling, and much of what they told me is deeply disturbing. In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president. Trump’s pronouncements and orders have already risked catastrophic and unnecessary wars in the Middle East and Asia, and have created severe problems for field commanders engaged in combat operations. Frequently caught unawares by Trump’s statements, senior military officers have scrambled, in their aftermath, to steer the country away from tragedy. How many times can they successfully do that before faltering?

Amid threats spanning the globe, from nuclear proliferation to mined tankers in the Persian Gulf to terrorist attacks and cyberwarfare, those in command positions monitor the president’s Twitter feed like field officers scanning the horizon for enemy troop movements. A new front line in national defense has become the White House Situation Room, where the military struggles to accommodate a commander in chief who is both ignorant and capricious. In May, after months of threatening Iran, Trump ordered the carrier group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to shift from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

On June 20, after an American drone was downed there, he ordered a retaliatory attack—and then called it off minutes before it was to be launched. The next day he said he was “not looking for war” and wanted to talk with Iran’s leaders, while also promising them “obliteration like you’ve never seen before” if they crossed him. He threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” and dispatched a three-aircraft-carrier flotilla to waters off the Korean peninsula—then he pivoted to friendly summits with Kim Jong Un, with whom he announced he was “in love”; canceled long-standing U.S. military exercises with South Korea; and dangled the possibility of withdrawing American forces from the country altogether. While the lovefest continues for the cameras, the U.S. has quietly uncanceled the canceled military exercises, and dropped any mention of a troop withdrawal.

Such rudderless captaincy creates the headlines Trump craves. He revels when his tweets take off. (“Boom!” he says. “Like a rocket!”) Out in the field, where combat is more than wordplay, his tweets have consequences. He is not a president who thinks through consequences—and this, the generals stressed, is not the way serious nations behave.

The generals I spoke with didn’t agree on everything, but they shared the following five characterizations of Trump’s military leadership.






Under Trump’s command, a return to the antiquated notions of “toughness” will worsen the epidemic of PTSD plaguing soldiers who have served repeated combat tours. Senior military officers have learned much from decades of war—lessons that are being discarded by a president whose closest brush with combat has been a movie screen.

The military is hard to change. This is bad, because it can be maddeningly slow to adapt, but also good, because it can withstand poor leadership at the top. In the most crucial areas, the generals said, the military’s experienced leaders have steered Trump away from disaster. So far.

“The hard part,” one general said, “is that he may be president for another five years.”

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from The Miami Herald

Florida businessmen with Giuliani, Ukraine ties won’t comply with impeachment inquiry

House asks questions of South Florida businessmen tied to Giuliani's Ukraine work

By Alex Daugherty and Kevin G. Hall

Two South Florida businessman who peddled supposedly explosive information from Ukraine about corruption involving Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton will not comply with a request for documents and depositions from three House committees overseeing an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will not respond to a Monday deadline for documents and do not plan to appear for depositions scheduled for Thursday and Friday, their attorney John Dowd told the Miami Herald.

“No response planned,” Dowd, who helped defend Trump during part of the recently concluded Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, said in email.

Democrats working on the burgeoning impeachment inquiry said Parnas and Fruman’s decision to ignore a request issued last Monday will lead to subpoenas, which would compel them to testify and provide documents or face criminal charges.

“While we have engaged with counsels for these witnesses, they have so far refused to agree to testify or turn over relevant documents. If they continue to fail to comply, they will be served with subpoenas in short order,” an official working on the impeachment inquiry said.

Dowd sent the House Intelligence Committee an email on Oct. 3 detailing his objections to the request for documents and depositions. In the email, which was released on Monday, Dowd said getting up to speed on Parnas and Fruman’s legal situation “will take some time” and that their discussions with Giuliani regarding Trump would be covered by “attorney-client, attorney work and other privileges.” Dowd began representing Parnas and Fruman last week.

He also called the request for documents “overly broad and unduly burdensome,” saying he has reached the “inescapable conclusion that the Democratic Committee members’ intent is to harass, intimidate and embarrass my clients.”

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from The Washington Post


Federal judge rules Trump must turn over his tax returns to Manhattan DA, but Trump has appealed

By David A. Fahrenthold and Ann E. Marimow

A federal judge on Monday dismissed President Trump's lawsuit seeking to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining the president's tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.

That decision does not mean Trump's tax returns will be handed over immediately. Trump appealed within minutes, and an appeals court put the case on hold until it can hear the president's challenge.

But Monday's ruling by U.S. Judge Victor Marrero was still a broad rejection of Trump's precedent-shattering argument in this case.

The president argued that, as long as he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor, anywhere, for any reason.

Marrero said that was “repugnant” to an American ideal as old as the Constitution: that no man, even a president, is above the law.

“The Court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the President above the law with the text of the Constitution, the historical record, the relevant case law” or any other authority, Marrero wrote.

How a 1924 law could give Trump's tax returns to Democrats In May, the Treasury Department refused a statutory and subpoena request for President Trump's tax returns. Now, it's unclear whether Democrats will get them.

“This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process,” Marrero wrote in another section of his 75-page ruling.

Trump reacted on Twitter, writing that Democrats “have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democratic prosecutors to go get President Trump. A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!”

Jay Sekulow, a private attorney for the president, struck a more positive tone: “We are very pleased that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued a stay of the subpoena.”

The lower court decision marked a key setback for Trump, who has taken an unorthodox, aggressive approach to fighting off investigations from prosecutors and congressional committees seeking his tax returns and financial documents. He has sued the investigators and the companies they subpoenaed, including his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA and two of Trump's banks.

Judges have ruled against Trump twice in other cases, but those lawsuits are still tied up in appeals in New York and Washington, and the subpoenas have not been enforced.

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from The Los Angeles Times

Biden’s actual role in Ukraine

As vice president, he sought to demonstrate Western support for the ex-Soviet state.

By Tracy Wilkinson and Sergei L. Loiko

KYIV, Ukraine — Four days before President Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, the outgoing vice president, Joe Biden, was in Ukraine — his sixth visit in seven years — to deliver a rousing farewell speech.

“You’re fighting both against the cancer of corruption, which continues to eat away at Ukraine’s democracy within, and the unrelenting aggression of the Kremlin,” he told local leaders, members of parliament and other politicians in Kyiv, the capital.

“It’s imperative that you continue to strengthen all of your anti-corruption institutions to root out those who would return Ukraine to rule by cronyism and kleptocracy,” he added.

The rousing speech reflected not only Biden’s focus on driving out entrenched corruption in Ukraine but the Obama White House efforts to help the former Soviet republic on its difficult path to democracy.

Trump has now turned that on its head, arguing that it was Biden and his son Hunter who were corrupt — although no evidence has emerged to indicate that.

The dispute is at the center of the impeachment inquiry raging in Washington. House Democrats say Trump abused his office when he pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden and, thus, interfere in an American political campaign. Trump says he acted appropriately to root out corruption, wherever it appears.

Biden’s interest in the region goes back to his first term in the Senate in the 1970s. He focused on European affairs, and after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, he directed attention to former Soviet states including Ukraine, arguing they be allowed to join NATO and given economic and military support.

After Russian troops seized and occupied the Crimean peninsula in the spring of 2014 — the first post-Cold War territorial takeover by Moscow — Ukraine rose to the top of the Obama administration agenda. Obama essentially outsourced the portfolio to his vice president — a task, by most accounts, Biden enthusiastically embraced.

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The New York Times

Your Weekend Briefing

By Remy Tumin and Judith Levitt

Here are [some of] the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.

1. It was another extraordinary week of developments in the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump publicly called on China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Mr. Trump and his attorney general have now solicited assistance in discrediting the president’s political opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and, according to one report, Britain.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was any quid pro quo in his dealings with Ukraine, but a new batch of text messages suggested that his own representatives saw things differently.

Meanwhile, House Democrats subpoenaed the White House for a vast trove of documents and requested more from Vice President Mike Pence related to “any role you may have played” in the Ukraine matter.

On Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed the impeachment inquiry and the political drama around it as a “silly gotcha game.” Members of his department will testify before the House this week.

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2. Joe Biden, torn over how to respond to President Trump’s continuing allegations against his son, is perhaps at the most vulnerable point of his candidacy.

In interviews with more than 50 Democratic strategists, lawmakers and lobbyists, a portrait emerged of a campaign facing challenges on all sides, and a candidate struggling to reconcile his protectiveness for his family and meeting the moment.

In other 2020 news, Bernie Sanders was released from the hospital after having a heart attack this past week; Mr. Biden and Elizabeth Warren are on a collision course in the latest polls; and new fund-raising totals came in.

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3. Immigrants will be denied visas if they cannot prove that they have health insurance or the ability to pay for medical care, the Trump administration said.

“Immigrants who enter this country should not further saddle our health care system, and subsequently American taxpayers, with higher costs,” President Trump wrote on Friday. The proclamation, which has been in the works for months, will become effective Nov. 3.

Looking ahead in Washington: In its first full term since the arrival of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court is preparing to issue blockbuster decisions on divisive issues in a presidential election year. Our Supreme Court expert previews five big cases to watch.

1) Does a Landmark Civil Rights Law Protect Gay and Transgender People?

2) Can the Trump Administration Strip Protection from ‘Dreamers’?

3) Will the Court Restrict Abortion Rights?

4) Will the Court Expand Second Amendment Rights?

5) Can States Bar Aid for Religious Schools?

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4. Weeks after the Middle East seemed on the verge of war, Saudi Arabia and Iran are seeking ways to ease tensions.

The countries have taken steps toward indirect talks, a remarkable turnaround prompted by President Trump’s refusal to retaliate against Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia. Above, the remains of Iranian weapons used to attack Saudi oil facilities last month.

In response, Saudi Arabia decided to seek its own solution to the conflict. That could subvert Mr. Trump’s effort to build an Arab alliance to isolate Iran.

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Elsewhere in the region, Iraqi security forces have repeatedly turned their weapons on fellow Iraqis this past week, killing at least 91, and wounding more than 2,000, as tens of thousands of antigovernment protesters have taken to the streets.

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5. A white former Dallas police officer was sentenced to 10 years for murdering her unarmed black neighbor. At the end of the trial, the judge gave her a Bible and a hug, igniting a debate about the limits of compassion.

Some saw the striking moment between a black female judge and a white former officer as an extraordinary example of humanity; others have criticized it as inappropriate, biased and potentially unconstitutional.

“We don’t get handshakes, we don’t get hugs, we don’t get Bibles,” said Christopher Scott, a black man who spent nearly 13 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. “They just say, ‘We’re sorry for what happened to you and you are a free man to go.’”

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6. A surprising new study released this week found that eating less red meat may not make you healthier, faulting nutrition studies. But what the study didn’t say is that its lead author has past research ties to the meat and food industry.

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Bradley Johnston, an epidemiologist who led the analysis, said he was not required to report his past relationship, which was as recent as 2016, with a powerful industry trade group.

The new report stunned scientists and public health officials because it contradicted longstanding nutrition guidelines. Many medical groups said they would keep their guidelines despite the findings.

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U.S. backs Turkey over Kurdish allies

President Trump has endorsed a Turkish military operation that would target American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria, the White House announced on Sunday.

Turkey considers the Kurds a terrorist insurgency, but they've been the most reliable partner for the U.S. in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic part of northern Syria.

The details: Mr. Trump's decision, which goes against the recommendations of top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department, would involve pulling back the 100 to 150 U.S. troops who are deployed to the area.

Background: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has demanded a “safe zone” along the Turkish-Syrian border that would be used for the involuntary return of at least a million Syrian refugees.


Another whistle-blower emerges

An intelligence official with “firsthand knowledge” has provided information related to President Trump's dealings with Ukraine, lawyers representing the official said on Sunday.

The person, who has hired the same legal team as the first whistle-blower, has been interviewed by the intelligence community's inspector general but has not filed a formal complaint.

Mr. Trump has said that the original whistle-blower's accusations are based on secondhand information, a defense that could be undermined by the new information.

Response: “It doesn't matter how many people decide to call themselves whistle-blowers about the same telephone call — a call the president already made public — it doesn't change the fact that he has done nothing wrong,” said Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary.

What's next: As part of their impeachment inquiry, Democrats are scheduled to talk to at least two senior American diplomats this week. Associates of Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have also been called to testify.

Another angle: Attorney General William Barr and a veteran federal prosecutor have been reviewing the origins of the investigation into Russian election interference, an effort that may bolster Mr. Trump's theory that foreign governments plotted with his “deep state” enemies.


from The Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court’s docket likely to divide

Abortion, LGBTQ rights and DACA may make this term more polarizing than last.

By David G. Savage

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court opens its new term Monday facing decisions on the so-called Dreamers, LGBTQ rights, religion and abortion.

The justices will decide whether President Trump may revoke the Obama-era protections for more than 700,000 young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. And they will rule on whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which forbids job discrimination “because of sex” — protects gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer employees from being fired.

The cases come before a court with five conservatives appointed by Republicans and four liberals appointed by Democrats.

Compared with the relative calm of last year, this term’s lineup of cases will almost surely spark more ideological splits, predicted Irv Gornstein, director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law School. “We will likely see a court moving further and faster in a rightward direction,” he said. “The docket almost guarantees it.”

But the wild card again may be Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who often strives to show that the high court, unlike the rest of official Washington, is not divided along political lines.

“When you live in a politically polarized environment, people tend to see everything in those terms,” Roberts said last month at an appearance in New York City. “That is not how we at the court function.”

In late June, Roberts spoke for a 5-4 conservative majority to reject legal challenges to partisan gerrymandering and to uphold a Republican-drawn map in North Carolina that allowed the GOP to keep control of 10 of the state’s 13 congressional districts.

But the chief justice switched sides to join the four liberals in blocking the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The pair of decisions handed down together ended the last term on a bipartisan note.

The fall’s major cases on LGBTQ rights and the Dreamers are likely to divide the justices along familiar lines.

Few argue that when Congress adopted the Civil Rights Act in 1964, its aim was to protect gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer employees. But Title VII of the law says employers may not fire someone “because of … race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

LGBTQ rights advocates point to those words and invoke an unlikely source for support: the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The conservative icon had insisted judges should decide cases based on the words of the law, not the intentions of the legislators. In one such example, he wrote a 1998 opinion upholding a sexual harassment claim filed by a worker on an offshore oil rig who said he was harassed in the shower by other men.

Relying on Scalia’s approach, U.S. appeals courts in New York, Chicago and Cincinnati ruled recently that job discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal discrimination “because of sex” under the federal Civil Rights Act.

But the U.S. appeals court in Atlanta tossed out a similar discrimination claim filed by Gerald Bostock, a child welfare coordinator for Clayton County, Ga., who said he was fired shortly after he joined an LGBTQ-friendly softball league.

On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments in Bostock vs. Clayton County, along with a suit brought by a transgender employee who was fired from her job at a funeral home in Detroit.

Trump administration lawyers will urge the court to rule for the employers. “The ordinary meaning of ‘sex’ is biologically male or female,” they say, and it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

<< more >>


from The Los Angeles Times

Arms race, made in USA

American guns are stoking a homicide epidemic in Mexico

By Kate Linthicum

FILO DE CABALLOS, Mexico — The sun had not yet risen when dozens of gunmen stormed into the town of Ocotito in southern Mexico and started shooting.

Salvador Alanis Trujillo tried to fight back, but his shotgun was no match for their assault rifles. So he and his family fled.

This rugged stretch of Guerrero state had always been a little lawless, home to cattle rustlers and highway bandits. But by the time the gunmen seized Ocotito in 2013, the region was overrun with dozens of criminal groups battling for territory.

There was another key difference: The criminals were now packing AR-15s, AK-47s and other weapons of war.

Mexico is in the grips of a deadly arms race.

It began as part of an escalating conflict among major criminal groups, and it accelerated in 2006 after Mexico’s military went to battle with the cartels.

Today, millions of weapons are in private hands — in direct violation of Mexico’s strict gun laws.

Some of those firearms once belonged to the military or police and were sold into the underworld. But the vast majority were smuggled from the world’s largest gun market: the United States.

The arms buildup has helped fuel record levels of violence. Last year, Mexico saw 20,005 gun homicides — nearly seven times as many as in 2003. Impunity in Mexico, where 95% of killings go unpunished, has spurred more people to take up arms — and carry out their own justice.

After Alanis was forced to abandon his property, which he had bought with savings from a stint as an auto mechanic in North Carolina, he went to state authorities for help.

When none arrived, he and others who had been displaced formed what they describe as a community police force — and began acquiring the most powerful guns available on the black market.

The group’s aim is to eventually take back Ocotito, a town of 6,000 at the base of a verdant mountain range, using an arsenal that includes dozens of machine guns.

In the meantime, Alanis and his group — the United Front of Community Police of the State of Guerrero — have been steadily taking territory.

They say they are cleansing the countryside of predatory gangs, a mission that they acknowledge sometimes employs the same brutal tactics of their enemies.

They have incurred, and inflicted, many losses in a conflict that Alanis said can only be described as a “civil war.”

“The assassins that kill us are Mexican,” said Alanis, 40. “And the people we shoot are Mexican.”

As for the weapons, that’s another story. He pointed to the words stamped on the barrel of a Colt Match Target assault rifle slung across the chest of a teenage fighter: “HARTFORD, CONN, U.S.A.”

“We kill each other,” he said. “And you send the bullets.”

The only gun store in all of Mexico is located on a heavily guarded army base.

Before entering the Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales on the outskirts of Mexico City, customers must undergo months of background checks and present six documents verifying their identity.

The process is so onerous that last year the store sold just 15,754 firearms. None were assault rifles, which are illegal here.

In contrast, an estimated 13.1 million guns were sold in the United States by tens of thousands of licensed firearms dealers. That includes readily available military-style rifles.

The exact number of firearms trafficked to Mexico is unknown, but in one of the few academic studies of the issue, researchers at the University of San Diego estimated that more than 750,000 guns were purchased in the United States between 2010 and 2012 to be smuggled into Mexico.

Data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also make clear where criminals in Mexico are getting their firearms.

Of the 132,823 guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico from 2009 to 2018, fully 70% were found to have originated in the U.S. — primarily in Southwest border states, most commonly Texas.

Most firearms trafficked to Mexico are bought legally at gun shows or stores by people known as “straw purchasers,” who then hand them off to cartels or middlemen.

Moving weapons across the border is simple. More than a million people and about $1.7 billion in commerce cross the border legally each day, and Mexico rarely checks goods heading south.

As a result, the black market for guns in Mexico is well stocked.

<< more >>


from The Los Angeles Times

The wrong lesson from Khashoggi’s death

A year after the journalist was slain by Saudi agents, many regimes have grown more repressive.

By Nabih Bulos

BEIRUT — Far from being a wake-up call, the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi just over a year ago appears to have instilled a negative lesson — that stifling dissent, even in a lurid fashion, can have limited consequences.

Since Khashoggi was choked and dismembered by Saudi agents in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, murders, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances of journalists have increased worldwide, according to Reporters Without Borders. A total of 80 journalists were killed in 2018, an additional 348 were imprisoned and 60 were held hostage, the group said.

In particular, Middle Eastern nations, never centers of free speech, appear to have grown bolder since Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, to seek papers he needed to get married. And journalists are just one group being targeted — also under attack are human rights campaigners, political activists and others.

“For a moment, we thought Khashoggi’s murder would lead to a significant change for the better, that there would be a before Khashoggi and after him,” said Hassan Abbass, co-editor of Raseef 22, a pan-Arab news website based in Lebanon that had featured a column by Khashoggi, in a phone interview Friday.

But events have proved otherwise, Abbass said. In recent weeks, he noted, the Egyptian government arrested 2,300 people after rare protests against President Abdel Fattah Sisi; some of those detained hadn’t even participated in the demonstrations.

In Sudan, more than 100 people were massacred in June during a crackdown by pro-government paramilitary groups; the perpetrators have yet to be put on trial. In Iraq, thousands of young men demonstrating for better conditions in the country were shot at by authorities; in the last five days, some 93 people have been killed and 4,000 wounded, according to the Iraqi parliament’s human rights commission.

“Had they been afraid, they wouldn’t have done this,” Abbass said. “That’s proof that Khashoggi didn’t affect them.”

Khashoggi was murdered by a Saudi hit team, and his body has never been found.

A Washington Post columnist, Khashoggi was a well known figure in D.C. circles. His death sparked worldwide opprobrium, with the CIA and other intelligence agencies assessing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing. (In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Bin Salman said he took “full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia” but denied he had ordered the operation.)

Western governments have long treated human rights in the region as a matter of concern but one that could largely be ignored in favor of lucrative business deals and security arrangements.

Khashoggi’s death could have been a turning point, said Timothy Kaldas, a nonresident fellow at the Cairo-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. But the outrage was “ultimately empty” because it didn’t translate into action: The U.S. and others continued to sell Riyadh the weapons it needed to pursue a brutal air campaign over Yemen, and private corporations continue to fight for hefty contracts to modernize Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure.

“You can’t condemn someone for murder while selling them arms or facilitating their war crimes and expect to be taken seriously,” Kaldas said.

<< more >>


from The Washington Post


Trump faces crucial decision on China as both economies strain

By David J. Lynch

Nathan Jeppson, the chief executive of Northwest Hardwoods, this summer cancelled a $1.8 million order for new forklifts. He shuttered a pair of saw mills in Virginia and Washington and laid off 130 workers, all because of fallout from President Trump's trade war with China.

The company's sales to China cratered after Beijing last year imposed tariffs on American red oak and other hardwoods in retaliation for the president's import taxes on Chinese products. As lumber that would have gone into Chinese furniture or homes stayed in the U.S., the resulting glut drove domestic prices into a double-digit decline, further battering the company's bottom line.

“Roughly 25 to 30 percent of our revenues have disappeared,” said Jeppson. “It's been devastating.”

In Washington this week , U.S. and Chinese negotiators are scheduled to resume stalled trade talks as each economy shows significant signs of strain. Whether the mounting casualties will hasten a deal is unclear, but for millions of workers, the damage is already done.

Northwest Hardwoods' plight reflects the economic toll of more than a year of open confrontation. For months, Trump has crowed about the damage his tariffs were inflicting on the slowing Chinese economy even as the U.S. powered into the 11th year of a record-setting expansion.

“China is getting killed,” Trump told reporters Friday. “The tariffs are killing China.”

Fresh data last week, however, showed that American factories are operating at their lowest rate in 10 years, matching Chinese plants, which posted their own worst-in-a-decade results in July.

While the president's rhetoric remains cheery -- he said last week “we have the hottest economy in the world” -- the reality of the manufacturing recession and anemic growth he will likely carry into the 2020 campaign shows the trade war has pinched on both sides of the Pacific. That shifting economic landscape is making a settlement more urgent, according to groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We've reached the point where both countries are in the same boat,” said Ethan Harris, head of global economics for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “In the absence of the trade war, both the U.S. and China would be doing quite well. There would be no slowdown.”

As the trade war began last year, the U.S. was enjoying the economic amphetamine of the 2017 tax cut, which helped offset any drag caused by higher import penalties. China, meanwhile, was trying to wean itself from an unhealthy dependence upon debt to power its growth. The chilling effect of U.S. tariffs only compounded Beijing's challenge.

More than a year later, the U.S. boasts the lowest unemployment rate since 1969 and rising wages. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York puts the chance of a recession in the next 12 months at a little more than one-in-three.

<< more>>



What are the companies that no one knows about but could dominate future markets?

How to make $1 trillion? .. Start an AI company

By Aled Jenkins, CEO at Babblebrick

'DeepMind' had a simple task.

In 2013, DeepMind created an AI company to play the Atari arcade game: Breakout. The AI used data and pattern recognition to master the game.

After only 600 games, the AI was playing like an expert.

This was truly groundbreaking.

Vicarious had a much more complex task.

They took DeepMind’s AI and made it play a tweaked version of the game. The game was only slightly different, but the AI could not play at all. It was a complete beginner.

Co-founder of Vicarious, Dileep George, explains that, “We humans are not just pattern recognisers … We’re also building models about the things we see.”

As humans, we can adapt to new situations very quickly. Vicarious is a company that is focussed on creating Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Their aim is to combine what we know about Artificial Intelligence with what we know about neuroscience.

In effect, they want to create a machine that thinks like a human.

They took the idea to investors and everybody wanted to invest. Vicarious’ investors include Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Samsung, ABB, and many more.

The idea would be to attach the AI to robots who could work in factories, cook meals, solve problems etc. There are endless possibilities and endless applications.

Unlike my other answers, this business story does not have an ending. We will all watch what will happen. Companies like Vicarious are the unknown authors of our future.

They will dominate every market. At some point, for better or worse, these robots will become better than humans.

A better employee, a better artist, a better carer, a better YOU !

If you are interested I will leave a few AI future possibilities in the comments. I hope you enjoyed the “half-story”!!


from The Washington Post


Smartphones are changing the way we type

A study found that the fastest way to type on mobile is with two thumbs and auto-correct, and that 10- to 19-year-olds type faster than people in their 40s.

by Marie C. Baca

Tapping out a message with a finger or two on a smartphone is catching up to the speed of typing on a traditional keyboard.

Two-thumbed mobile typists generated an average of about 38 words per minute, according to what researchers describe as the largest experiment to date on mobile typing. That’s still a quarter less than the 51.56 word-per-minute average in physical keyboard users, but the gap isn’t as big as expected, researchers said, adding that they were “amazed” by the results.

Mobile typists who use auto-correct are faster than those who use word-prediction tools, according to a study that looked at 37,000 volunteers tested by researchers at Finland’s Aalto University, the University of Cambridge and ETH Zürich.

Many children grow up with some kind of school training to learn how to type — 10 fingers on the keyboard, index fingers on the F and J keys, looking at the paper or the screen instead of the keys.

Earlier devices such as the BlackBerry promoted typing on miniature keyboards, too.

Now, most smartphone users type on their devices with one or two thumbs. Some also type with a single index finger.

As the smartphone has claimed a bigger and bigger portion of our communications, many educators and researchers have posed questions about the longer-term effects the move to typing on a digital keyboard may have — particularly on younger generations.

The better-than-expected results surprised researchers, because typing on a smartphone “is a type of motor skill that people learn on their own with no formal training, which is very unlike typing on physical keyboards," study co-author Antti Oulasvirta said in a news release.

In fact, 10- to 19-year-olds type about 10 wpm faster than people in their 40s do, regardless of whether the keyboard was on a smartphone or a computer. The best typists could do more than 80 wpm.

The study’s authors predict that the typing gap may close at some point as the population becomes less skilled with physical keyboards and as mobile typing technology improves.

<< more >>


from The Los Angeles Times

An assault, a garden and a battle over a statement

Stanford students want victim’s words on plaque

By Colleen Shalby

In June 2016, a woman known only as Emily Doe read a 12-page single-spaced letter inside a courtroom to the man who had sexually assaulted her behind a dumpster on Stanford’s campus more than a year before.

Her statement was published online the following day and quickly emerged as a viral rallying cry for survivors of sexual violence. Now, three years later, her words are at the center of a clash between Stanford students and administrators.

Chanel Miller, who publicly identified herself in September as the 23-year-old who was attacked by Stanford student Brock Turner, came to an agreement with the university: The scene of the crime would be transformed into a garden and marked with a plaque etched with words of Miller’s choosing from her victim impact statement.

In the two years since the garden was built, the university has twice rejected the language Miller chose for the plaque, instead offering alternatives she has nixed. Miller withdrew from the project, and the space — flanked by wooden benches and a bubbling fountain — has remained devoid of any context. The university has argued that her selected language could be triggering for victims of sexual violence.

And that has sparked a debate about whether her words — which have profoundly influenced how society talks about sexual assault — are too raw for a public space or simply offend the sensibilities of Stanford leaders.

The crime that occurred in that space ultimately changed the law. Turner was sentenced to six months in jail and served only three. The sentence spurred outrage and prompted then-Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would ensure similar perpetrators would receive mandatory prison time. And Judge Aaron Persky — who handed Turner the light sentence in the case — was the first California judge to be recalled in 85 years.

Turner, who was 20 when he assaulted Miller, will remain listed as a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. The former competitive swimmer left Stanford and was banned from swimming competitions. In addition to his jail sentence, Turner was given three years’ probation, which expires this year.

<< more >>


from The New York Times

After a Caribbean Hurricane, the Battle Is Where, or Even Whether, to Rebuild

When Hurricane Irma crushed St. Martin two years ago, the French state vowed swift assistance. Aid has flowed in, but a fight has followed about recovery plans, exposing racial and class tension.

When things go wrong, those in power often promise to make it right. But do they? In this series, The Times investigates to see if those promises were kept.

By Kirk Semple

SAINT-MARTIN, French West Indies — In the debris that had once been furniture and a roof were the vestiges of a holiday home: a cluster of flip-flops, a romance novel, a child’s ball floating in a plunge pool’s fetid waters.

On a recent visit, it looked like an artillery barrage had smashed into this small bungalow and a dozen or so other nearby cottages in a similar state of ruin, in what had been a pleasant vacation compound on a bluff above the Atlantic Ocean.

This scene of utter destruction in the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane was not in the Abaco Islands or on Grand Bahama, devastated by Dorian last month. This wasteland was on St. Martin, an island that took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6, 2017, and where, two years later, recovery is still far from complete.

The hurricane caused billions of dollars in damage across the 34-square-mile island, which is split between the French territory of Saint-Martin, with a population of about 32,000, and Sint Maarten, a mostly autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with a population of about 41,000.

Immediately after the storm blasted the island, President Emmanuel Macron of France promised a speedy recovery for the French side.

“Saint-Martin will be reborn, I am committed,” Mr. Macron vowed. “We will do it quickly, we will do it well, and we will do it better.”

But Saint-Martin’s slow, if steady, recovery shows just how difficult coming back from a hurricane can be on a small island, with challenges that go well beyond just the size of financial aid packages.

In Saint-Martin, the toughest, most uncomfortable questions are less about who will pay for rebuilding — France has delivered more than a half-billion dollars of aid — but where and how to rebuild, or whether to rebuild at all amid the threat of evermore powerful storms.

This has made the debate less an economic one and more about politics, class, culture and race, often pitting the local majority-black population against the French state.

The top French official on the island says she wants more restrictions on construction in the areas most at risk to future storms, in order to protect lives and the economy.

But many working-class residents fear they could be forced to abandon property that has been in their family for generations. Some suspect a land grab, where their waterfront plots will be taken and sold to wealthy developers.

In a region that has experienced the awesome forces of Category 5 storms with terrifying frequency in recent years, the story playing out on St. Martin is likely to be repeated on many other Caribbean islands — and in the United States, too.

<< more >>


from The New York Times


Samuel Little Is Most Prolific Serial Killer in U.S. History, F.B.I. Says

Mr. Little, 79, has confessed to 93 murders, and the agency believes “all of his confessions are credible.”

By Timothy Williams and Karen Zraick

After years of painstaking investigation into the grisly confessions of a graying man in a wheelchair inside a Los Angeles County prison cell, the F.B.I. announced on Sunday that Samuel Little, who has admitted to strangling vulnerable women across the country for decades, is the most prolific known serial killer in American history.

Mr. Little, 79, has confessed to 93 murders, the F.B.I. said. The agency said in a statement that it had verified 50 of the killings and that it believed “all of his confessions are credible.”

Now the F.B.I. is looking for help identifying the rest of his victims, a task it says is all the more urgent because of Mr. Little’s age, poor health and sometimes faulty memory. Over the weekend, the agency asked for assistance from the public after releasing five sketches that Mr. Little had drawn of women he claimed to have killed, with information about where he met each one.

After Mr. Little was approached by a Texas Ranger seeking information about 18 months ago, he has confessed crimes to numerous prosecutors and police officers who have flown to the Lancaster, Calif., prison where he is serving consecutive life sentences for three murders from the 1980s. Prosecutors say they have closed dozens of homicide investigations dating back nearly five decades, some of them cases they feared would never be solved.

“For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” Christie Palazzolo, an F.B.I. crime analyst, said in a statement. “Even though he is already in prison, the F.B.I. believes it is important to seek justice for each victim — to close every case possible.”

Mr. Little has been convicted of at least eight murders, including several he has confessed to. Prosecutors around the country are still weighing whether to formally charge him for killings; it was uncertain how many charges he will ultimately face. No one representing Mr. Little could be reached for comment.

Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, was convicted of 49 murders in Washington State during the 1980s and 1990s, the highest number of murder convictions for an American serial killer.

Mr. Little was arrested dozens of times for crimes including armed robbery, rape and kidnapping as he traveled around the country, drifting through poor neighborhoods and transient communities. But until 2014, he served fewer than 10 years in prison, avoiding a murder conviction.

<< more >>


from Dept of Justice


South Florida Jury Convicts Man Who Cybserstalked and Threatened Families of Parkland Victims

By United States Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – Today, a federal jury in South Florida convicted Brandon Michael Fleury, 22, of Santa Ana, California, of cybserstalking and sending a kidnapping threat to families of victims of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, announced U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

According to evidence introduced at trial, Fleury used thirteen different Instagram accounts, using aliases including alleged Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, and others, to target families and friends of Parkland shooting victims with messages over the course of three weeks between Dec. 22, 2018 and Jan. 11, 2019. Many of the messages, including ones written under usernames referring to Cruz and containing Cruz’s profile picture, taunted the message recipients about the deaths of loved ones in the Parkland shooting. On Dec. 25, 2018, Fleury, sent a message stating, “I’m your abductor I’m kidnapping you fool.”

On January 9, 10, and 11, 2019, Fleury continued to harass, intimidate, and threaten the message recipients from multiple Instagram accounts. These included messages sent under the username “the.douglas.shooter,” and using a profile picture of Nikolas Cruz. These messages included statements like, “With the power of my AR-15, you all die,” and “With the power of my AR-15, I take your loved ones away from you PERMANENTLY.”

After examining Fleury’s tablets, law enforcement found thousands of saved images of Ted Bundy, images of the targeted victims, and saved screenshots of the messages that he had sent the victims.

Fleury was convicted of interstate transmission of a threat to kidnap, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 875(c), and interstate cyberstalking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2261A. Fleury is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2, 2019 by United States District Judge Rudolfo A. Ruiz II (Case No. 19cr60056). Fleury faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigatory efforts of the FBI’s South Florida Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force and Broward Sheriff’s Office in this matter. U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan also thanked the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and task force members. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jared M. Strauss and Ajay Alexander.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

CONTACT: Sarah J. Schall, Public Information Officer



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We'll continue this discussion tonight ..


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LAPPL Law Enforcement News - Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch:

Law Enforcement News - Wed, 10/09

Teen Pleads Guilty To Murder In Death Of Police Officer During Pursuit
A Kent teenager who led police on a high-speed police pursuit last year that ended in the death of Kent Police Officer Diego Moreno pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday. Emiliano Garcia, 17, was charged as an adult with second-degree felony murder last year, but his case will return to juvenile court as a condition of his plea agreement, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Garcia was 16 when he led officers on a high-speed vehicle pursuit the early morning of July 22, 2018. The pursuit, which reached speeds of 95 mph, ended in Moreno's death. He was struck and killed by a fellow officer while laying out spike strips to stop Garcia's car. Prosecutors argued that Moreno died as a result of Garcia's attempt to elude police. Moreno, 35, was a decorated eight-year veteran of the police department and was married with two young children.
Seattle Times

Vehicle Theft Suspect Crashes And Flees, But Police Find Him

A driver suspected of stealing a vehicle crashed in San Fernando and was taken into custody Tuesday morning by authorities. Officers spotted the vehicle near San Fernando Road and Paxton Street in Pacoima about 2:40 a.m. and tried to pull the driver over, but the suspect fled and police began a pursuit of the vehicle, but pulled back and tracked the vehicle until it crashed about 3 a.m. near Carlisle and Hewitt streets in San Fernando, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The suspect ditched the vehicle and ran off, but was quickly found by officers. The suspect suffered a cut and was treated at the scene before being taken into custody, the LAPD said.

LAPD Releases Video Of Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting In Pacoima
The Los Angeles Police Department has released bodycam video of a deadly officer-involved shooting in Pacoima from August. The shooting happened Aug. 19 around 4:19 p.m. when police were called to the 13100 block of Ottoman Street. LAPD said officers were responding to a "family dispute" call and encountered the suspect, identified as Carlos Torres Jr., on the front porch. While talking with the suspect, he apparently pulled out a gun from his waistband and pointed it at officers and fired, police said. Torres retreated back into the house and multiple gunshots can be heard. A few minutes later, Torres was seen running through a neighborhood yard and onto Ottoman Street. Officers again fired as they were chasing him. As Torres ran into an alley, he allegedly pointed his gun at responding officers, who fired back at the suspect and fatally wounded him. Police said a .22 caliber handgun was recovered at the scene.

SUV Slams Into Sedan In Lake Los Angeles Killing 5-Year-Old Girl, Alcohol Suspected
Police said drunk driving might be to blame in a Tuesday night crash that killed a 5-year-old girl in Lake Los Angeles. The crash happened near the intersection of Avenue O and 165th Street East shortly before 9 p.m. when a 61-year-old man driving an SUV drifted into oncoming traffic and slammed into a sedan with two adults and three children inside. The 5-year-old girl was pulled from the wreckage, but died at the scene. The driver and other passengers of the car — a 26-year-old woman, 27-year-old man, 3-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl — all suffered moderate injuries. The driver of the SUV, identified as George Kokoteev of Palmdale, suffered major injuries and was arrested at the scene. CHP said the accident was still under investigation.

Man Charged In Los Angeles With 1985 Death Of TV Director

Prosecutors have charged a man in the cold-case killing of a TV director who worked on "The Incredible Hulk," ''The Six Million Dollar Man" and other shows more than three decades ago. The district attorney's office in Los Angeles said Tuesday that 53-year old Edwin Jerry Hiatt is facing one count of murder with a special allegation that he used a deadly weapon to kill director Barry Crane. Officials say Hiatt was linked to the 1985 killing with DNA evidence. Hiatt was arrested in North Carolina and is awaiting extradition to California. It wasn't immediately clear if he has an attorney. Investigators believe the 57-year-old Crane was bludgeoned with a large ceramic statue before being found with a telephone cord wrapped around his neck.

Democratic Donor Ed Buck Indicted On Charges Relating To 2 Overdose Deaths
The criminal case against activist and Democratic donor Ed Buck expanded Wednesday, with a federal grand jury indicting him in connection with the overdose deaths of two men inside his West Hollywood apartment. Buck, 65, had been previously charged with providing the methamphetamine that caused the overdose death of Gemmel Moore, 26, inside Buck's apartment on July 27, 2017. But Wednesday's grand jury indictment also charged him with the same offense for the Jan. 7 death of 55-year-old Timothy Dean, who also died of an overdose in Buck's apartment. The indictment also accused Buck of distributing meth to three other men — in May and December of last year and in September of this year.

Woodland Hills Man Pleads Guilty In Chinese Student Visa Scam
A Woodland Hills man pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges stemming from a scheme to help Chinese nationals obtain student visas by hiring people to take their English proficiency tests for them. Liu Cai, 24, is among six defendants charged with using doctored People's Republic of China passports to impersonate various Chinese nationals at testing locations in and around Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Cai, who is himself living in the United States on a student visa, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to two counts of using a false passport and agreed not to contest removal to China. Each of the two felonies carry 10-year maximum prison sentences, but prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison term of no more than 14 months at sentencing on Feb. 13, court documents show.
Los Angeles Daily News

CA Woman Charged With Defrauding Immigrants Out Of $100K After Promising Green Cards, Citizenship

Federal prosecutors accuse a California business owner of advertising services to help immigrants get citizenship and then pocketing her clients' money without filing any paperwork. The Virginian-Pilot reports Helen Kennedy, also known as Helen Abdi, was indicted last month in connection with an alleged fraud of more than $100,000 from victims across the country. The newspaper reported the woman mainly targeted Iranian immigrants in her online advertisements. Under one advertisement video posted to YouTube, a commenter said Abdi was supposed to help with their family's immigration case. “After receiving the money she hasn't even answered the phone,” the commenter wrote. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, Kennedy promised clients political asylum, visas, green cards and even citizenship if they paid a fee. The indictment says Kennedy pocketed the money and never submitted immigration paperwork on behalf of her clients.

FBI Seeks Help ID'ing Victims Of California Inmate Who Is America's Most Prolific Serial Killer
Samuel Little, 79, confessed to strangling 93 victims between 1970 and 2005 last year — triple the number of victims that Ted Bundy confessed to killing. Now, the FBI is asking the public to help identify more victims of the man they say is America's most prolific serial killer. Little targeted women, often of marginalized and vulnerable groups, many who were involved in prostitution or suffering from drug addiction. Their bodies sometimes went unidentified and their deaths uninvestigated. The FBI is hoping to change that. “For many years, Samuel Little believed he would not be caught because he thought no one was accounting for his victims,” said ViCAP Crime Analyst Christie Palazzolo in a statement. “Even though he is already in prison, the FBI believes it is important to seek justice for each victim—to close every case possible.”

Public Safety News

Los Angeles Could Ban All E-Cigarettes And Vaping Devices
Los Angeles officials are considering banning all e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the city, one of the most extreme proposals yet to curb a nationwide outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping. Amid reports that more than 1,000 people have been diagnosed with severe lung problems, politicians across the country have been pushing restrictions on e-cigarettes, which have soared in popularity among young people in recent years. San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban e-cigarettes earlier this year. Massachusetts also recently instated a four-month ban on e-cigarettes, while Michigan and New York have outlawed flavored e-cigarette products.
Los Angeles Times

STD Cases Hit 30-Year High In California, With Some Diseases Increasing Over 200% In Last Decade
Sexually transmitted diseases reached epidemic levels in California last year, with three STDs hitting their highest levels in the state in 30 years, according to a report released Tuesday. For 2018, the California Department of Public Health saw an increased number of reported syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia cases. The number of cases also rose significantly from a decade ago. Syphilis had the most dramatic spike over the 10-year period in terms of percentage; the 25,344 diagnoses represents a sharp rise of 265% from 2008, according to the report. Chlamydia had the most cases last year with 232,181, up 56% over the past decade. And there were 79,397 cases of gonorrhea, 211% more than 10 years ago.

Local Government News

City Council President Proposes $30/Hour Wages For Lyft, Uber Drivers
City Council President Herb Wesson proposed Tuesday that drivers working in Los Angeles for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft be paid a minimum of $30 an hour. Wesson proposed the idea because he said drivers are not paid enough, and he called the action "one of the most significant rebukes" of the gig-economy by a local government. "The flexibility that a ridesharing gig provides should not serve as an excuse for short-changing these drivers," Wesson said. "Earning less than $10 per hour in Los Angeles simply won't cut it. If these companies want to operate in Los Angeles, they need to compensate their workers fairly." Wesson's proposal would require the companies to pay drivers a $15 an hour wage, along with $15 an hour for operating expenses like gas, insurance and basic wear-and-tear on a driver's vehicle.

LAX Officials Break Ground On $220 Million Police Facility
City and Los Angeles World Airports and officials broke ground Monday on a 160,000-square-foot Airport Police Facility at LAX to consolidate operations under one roof. “The new consolidated LAWA police facility, which will watch over all of LAX as well as the LAX Northside, will improve public safety and allow for faster response times to calls on or immediately adjacent to airport property,” City Councilman Mike Bonin said. “It will also be a revitalizing improvement for the neighborhood, bringing more business and economic growth to the many small businesses in downtown Westchester.” The $220 million building will be located on the northeast corner of Westchester Parkway and Loyola Boulevard. The 12-acre development will also include a new 960-stall parking structure.


Law Enforcement News - Tue, 10/08

Tennessee Special Agent's Killer Pleads Guilty
A convicted felon was sentenced to life in prison Monday for the 2016 killing of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent. Brenden Burns pleaded guilty to felony murder and aggravated robbery in the shooting death of Special Agent De'Greaun Frazier, Madison County District Attorney Jody S. Pickens said. Frazier, 35, was killed during an undercover drug investigation in Jackson in August 2016. Burns, 24, received a sentence of life in prison without parole in a plea deal that resulted from discussions between prosecutors and defense attorneys in the run-up to a trial scheduled in November, Pickens said. Frazier was the first agent in the history of the state police agency to be killed in the line of duty.
Associated Press

Transient Killed In Deadly Shooting On Skid Row
The Los Angeles Police Department was investigating a deadly shooting on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles Thursday after a man reportedly shot a transient multiple times before leaving the scene. The shooting was reported around 3:10 a.m. in the 500 block of 5th Street, near the intersection of San Pedro Street. Arriving officers and firefighters found a man, believed to be in his 60s, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, LAPD said. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the victim but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim was identified Oct. 7 as 58-year-old Julio Martinez. His hometown remains unknown. The suspect was described as a black man about 6 feet 2, about 215 pounds, whose hair was in dreadlocks that reached his shoulders. 
FOX 11

Driver Sought In South L.A. Hit-And-Run That Killed 60-Year-Old Woman
Police are searching for a driver involved in a hit-and-run crash in South Los Angeles that left a 60-year-old woman dead, authorities said Saturday. Elvia Bercian was crossing the street southbound along Century Boulevard, just west of Baring Cross Street in the Vermont Vista neighborhood, when she was struck by a Toyota Corolla traveling eastbound on Century just after 7 p.m. Friday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. She lied motionless in the road before being struck a second time by another vehicle — believed to be a white Chevy pickup truck — and was then hit a third time by a red KIA Soul, LAPD officials said. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The drivers of the Toyota Corolla and KIA Soul both remained at the scene but the driver of the pickup truck fled the area, police said.

Man Wounded In Boyle Heights Gang Shooting
A man was wounded Monday in a shooting in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, authorities said. It happened at 12:30 a.m. at Soto and Marengo streets, a dispatcher in the Los Angeles Police Department Operations Center said. The man was in the intersection when a suspect walked toward him and fired one shot that struck him, the dispatcher said. The man was hospitalized with stable vital signs, he said. The shooting was believed to have been gang-related, the dispatcher said.

LAPD: Sexual Assault Suspect Posed As Driver, Picked Up Passengers At WeHo Club
Police have arrested a suspect they say sexually assaulted passengers while posing as a driver and offering rides outside a West Hollywood nightclub. LAPD officials would not state exactly where the passengers were picked up but said the location was in the 8000 block of Sunset Boulevard. Investigators are asking the public to take a look at the mugshot of 48-year-old Dayvid Sherman, who they claim posed as a driver-for-hire and approached women leaving a nightclub alone. In two cases, once in October 2018, another in September 2019, police say he drove into L.A. and after the drunk passenger lost consciousness during the ride, the suspect assaulted them. “He was targeting individuals coming out of nightclubs, possibly intoxicated, advised them, ‘Hey, I would take you home at a cheaper rate,'” said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez.

Lyft Driver At Large After Robbing Passenger At Gunpoint In Westwood
Police are investigating after a man taking a ride home after a night out in West Hollywood was robbed by his Lyft driver at gunpoint this summer. Albert Sera says he called a ride to his home in the San Fernando Valley only to have his cellphone, wallet and other belongings stolen in an experience he describes as "horrifying." Sera was picked up around 1:45 a.m. Aug. 31 at the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, according to a crime report from the Los Angeles Police Department, which is investigating the robbery. During the route, the driver turned off Wilshire Boulevard into a dimly lit area of Comstock Avenue in Westwood, near the Los Angeles Country Club. He then stopped the vehicle, pointed a semiautomatic handgun at Sera and ordered him to, “Get out,” according to the report.

Opening Statements In Penalty Phase Of ‘Hollywood Ripper' Trial
The convicted double-murderer dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper” is a ”sadistic, thrill-seeking psychopath” who deserves the death penalty, a prosecutor told jurors Monday, while a defense attorney countered that the killer would die in prison regardless of what punishment the panel recommends. Michael Gargiulo “has led a life of crime and violence that has left a swath of death, grief and destruction behind him,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Dan Akemon told the panel as the penalty phase of the trial got underway. ”He has earned and deserves the maximum penalty of death.” Defense attorney Dale Rubin said the jurors had already made the most important decision when they convicted his client Aug. 15 of first-degree murder for the slayings of 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin and 32-year-old Maria Bruno. “Mr. Gargiulo is going to die in prison. The question is when? Is it going to be in God's time or is it going to be in your time?” Rubin said.
Los Angeles Times

Federal Agents Raid 4 Southern California Addiction Treatment Centers
Federal agents raided four addiction treatment centers in Los Angeles and Orange counties last week seeking evidence in a criminal probe, officials said Monday. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the reason for searches at four locations — contained in probable-cause affidavits — were filed under seal in federal court, and the FBI would not comment further on the nature of the investigation. Agents searched Malibu California Model Drug Treatment Center Inc., doing business as Inspire Malibu on Kanan Road in Agoura Hills; Progressive Recovery Solutions LLC, doing business as Victory Detox Center on Morse Avenue in North Hollywood; BLVD Centers Inc., doing business as BLVD-Sawtelle on Sawtelle Boulevard in Los Angeles; and Reflections Recovery LLC, doing business as Reflections Recovery on Bush Street in Santa Ana, according to Eimiller and data from the state Department of Health Care Services, which licenses and certifies addiction treatment centers.
Los Angeles Daily News

Inmate Is Most Prolific Serial Killer In US History: FBI
The inmate who claims to have killed more than 90 women across the country is now considered to be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. Samuel Little, who has been behind bars since 2012, told investigators last year that he was responsible for about 90 killings nationwide between 1970 and 2005. In a news release on Sunday, the FBI announced that federal crime analysts believe all of his confessions are credible, and officials have been able to verify 50 confessions so far. Investigators also provided new information and details about five cases in Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nevada and Louisiana. The 79-year-old Little is serving multiple life sentences in California. He says he strangled his 93 victims, nearly all of them women.

Public Safety News

Fire Weather Watch Issued For L.A. And Ventura Counties Starting Thursday Morning
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Oxnard have issued a fire weather watch for Ventura and most of Los Angeles counties that will be in effect early Thursday through Friday evening. Moderate, possibly strong, Santa Ana winds are expected to develop in the mountains before sunrise Thursday. The winds are expected to be widespread and to peak Thursday before weakening slightly on Friday and then diminishing Saturday, according to the weather service's Monday evening update. The region could see a rapid onset of the Santa Anas in the valleys and along the coasts, with northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 55 mph; in the foothills and mountains, winds of 25 to 40 mph with gusts of up to 70 mph are expected.
Los Angeles Times

California Introduces 1st Toll-Free Statewide Mental Health Line Ahead Of World Mental Health Day
California on Monday launched its first statewide mental health line to help those struggling with mental and emotional well-being, officials announced. The free service offers non-emergency emotional support and referrals to anyone who calls or messages the number 1-855-845-7415. It will be staffed 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. The goal is to have 24/7 service by the end of the year. “When addressing issues surrounding health, the conversation must also include emotional wellness. This new state resource builds on our current mental health system by serving a population that is not in crisis but still in need of support,” Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said in a news release posted on his office's website.

Local Government News

A New Look At LA's Homeless Count Numbers Has Some Wondering If There Will Be A Shift In Conversation Around Mental Illness, Drug Addiction
Officials with Los Angeles's homeless services agency on Monday stuck to the characterization that just under a third of the people counted as homeless struggle with a serious mental illness or drug addiction, but they added that a deeper conversation about the needs of this segment of the homeless population is warranted. That figure is frequently used by some advocates to deflect concerns from some members of the community who resist the idea of a permanent or temporary housing projects. Those who have worries about such projects often express fears that building them would attract people experiencing mental illness or struggling with drug addiction into their neighborhoods. But a Los Angeles Times analysis of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Agency's own homeless count data, that was released Monday, pegged the percentage at 67 percent of the population. The story's headline also stated that the figure supports “the public's perception.”
Los Angeles Daily News

LA City Council President To Propose City's First Public Bank

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson said Monday that he will propose establishing the city's first public banking institution. Wesson said he'll file a motion this week calling for the council to authorize a search for a “banking expert” to help the city get a public bank up and running. The move comes several days after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 857, which allows statewide establishment of public banks. “I do believe that this is the way that government is supposed to work, where we partner with the people … together trying to affect change,” Wesson said. “Rarely do people have the chance to make history, and I just want to say to everyone standing beside me and behind me, that you folks have made history.” Public banks are intended to focus local investment by offering business loans and could be used to finance public supportive housing among other projects, according to proponents of the system.
Los Angeles Daily News


Law Enforcement News - Mon, 10/07

24-Hour Vigil Honors L.A. Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen Who Was Killed In Execution-Style Killing In Lancaster 3 Years Ago
Deputies on Saturday lined the Lancaster street where sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen was killed in an “execution-style" shooting three years ago. "Today, we stand here in honor of our friend and beloved Sergeant. We've been here every October 5th, and will be here every October 5th in honor of this incredible person," the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lancaster station said. 53-year-old Owen responded to reports of a burglary at a home in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7 on Oct. 5, 2016, and was going around the back when he was “immediately” shot by a 27-year-old parolee, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at the time. Trenton Trevon Lovell "executed Sgt. Owen by firing four additional rounds into his body,” then jumped into Owen's patrol car and rammed it into the vehicle of another responding deputy, who shot Lovell in the torso, authorities said. Lovell was later arrested and charged in Owen's killing in 2016. The man is still awaiting trial for the killing.

LAPD, FBI Capture Man Suspected Of Fatally Stabbing Roommate At Starbucks In Studio City
A man who is suspected of fatally stabbing his roommate and was on the run was captured by LAPD officers and FBI agents at a Starbucks located in a strip mall in Studio City Friday. LAPD homicide detectives and the FBI's Fugitive Task Force were working around the clock to find the person involved in a deadly stabbing at a North Hollywood hostel. A man and his roommate were involved a "mutual combat," kind of fight earlier in the week. The suspect struck the victim once in the leg with what authorities believe was a pocket knife. The victim used a chair leg in the altercation. The victim, only described as a man in his 30s, was taken to a hospital where he died, police said. The suspect was on the run and was tracked to a Starbucks location at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Vineland Avenue just before 12:00 p.m. where law enforcement had the area surrounded.
FOX 11

Man Killed By Hit-And-Run Motorist In South Los Angeles
A 61-year-old man was struck and killed by a hit-and-run motorist in South Los Angeles Sunday and police are asking the public's help in identifying and locating the motorist. Wardell Nelson Jr. of Los Angeles was crossing eastbound on Manchester Boulevard at Figueroa Street about 3:40 a.m. when he was struck by an unknown vehicle going southbound on Figueroa Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported. Nelson lay motionless on the ground and was struck a second time by a silver Chevrolet Traverse, which remained at the scene. The unknown vehicle failed to stop and Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene. LAPD South Traffic Division detectives asked anyone who saw the crash to call them at 323-421-2500.

Woman Stabbed In Venice, Husband Arrested Police arrested a man after his wife was found repeatedly stabbed in Venice on Friday night, officials said
The attack was first reported about 6:10 p.m. in the 00 block of 27th Avenue, just south of Pacific Avenue, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Tony Im. A 48-year-old woman was found suffering from multiple stab wounds, the officer said. She was taken to a hospital. An update on her condition was not available. A man, described by police as the woman's husband, was detained in the area. He was ultimately arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, Im said. Witnesses told KTLA they could hear the woman screaming for help around the time of the stabbing. No further details were available.

LAPD: Grifters Targeting Rideshare Drivers With “New” Scheme
Burglary detectives at the LAPD's Hollywood station Friday were investigating a series of thefts targeting rideshare drivers using what police call “a new method” of stealing victims' earnings. “The suspects request a ride through the app and when they enter the vehicle, trick the victims into giving them their cell phones,” according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. “Most commonly this ruse involves switching the passenger's destination. The suspects then access the driver's rideshare account, manipulate the driver's settings and transfer any stored cash amount into a newly entered bank account. In some cases, the suspect accesses other bank applications and withdraw(s) money from those accounts, as well.” The thefts have occurred over the past six weeks across the city, according to investigators who are working to “to obtain information from various rideshare companies to identify the people involved,” the LAPD reported.

LAPD Searching For Critically Missing 62-Year-Old Granada Hills Woman
Los Angeles police asked for the public's help on Sunday to find a critically missing 62-year-old Granada Hills woman who is believed to have the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. Rosa Avila was last seen today in the 16500 block of McKeever Street wearing a dark jacket, navy shirt, black pants and black shoes, according to the LAPD's Devonshire station. Avila is asian. She stands 5 feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds, police said. Anyone with information on her whereabouts was asked to call the LAPDat 818-832-0633 or 911. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.
FOX 11

Paw Patrol: 2 LAPD Officers Rescue Tiny Puppy In Hollywood
A teeny, tiny puppy is safe thanks to two Los Angeles police officers. The department says Officers Mercado and Tavera found the little pup while on patrol near Hobart Boulevard. The pint-sized dog was renamed "Hobart", after the street where the officers found him near. The puppy really took to the officers, refusing to leave their side. So they scooped him up and took him back to the Hollywood Division, where he was captured on camera trotting next to Officer Mercado. The department tweeted, "Welcome to LAPD Hobart!" No word on when training begins for the newest furry member of the LAPD.

DNA Links Man Arrested In String Of Sexual Assaults To 1996 Killing Of Fresno College Student
A man arrested in a string of sexual assaults in Central California has been named a suspect in the rape and killing of a college student 23 years ago. Authorities in Fresno said Friday that they linked Nick Duane Stane, 52, to the slaying of Debbie Dorian after making a DNA match based on genetic genealogy. The news came as Stane pleaded not guilty in Tulare County court to a series of attacks on young women in Visalia from 1999 to 2002. He was ordered held without bail. The Fresno Bee reports investigators linked DNA evidence collected in the sexual assaults in Visalia to Dorian's killing in her Fresno apartment in 1996. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer praised two detectives who continued looking for her killer after they retired.

Guns From The United States Are Stoking A Homicide Epidemic In Mexico
The sun had not yet risen when dozens of gunmen stormed into the town of Ocotito in southern Mexico and started shooting. Salvador Alanis Trujillo tried to fight back, but his shotgun was no match for their assault rifles. So he and his family fled. This rugged stretch of Guerrero state had always been a little lawless, home to cattle rustlers and highway bandits. But by the time the gunmen seized Ocotito in 2013, the region was overrun with dozens of criminal groups battling for territory. There was another key difference: The criminals were now packing AR-15s, AK-47s and other weapons of war. Mexico is in the grips of a deadly arms race. It began as part of an escalating conflict among major criminal groups, and it accelerated in 2006 after Mexico's military went to battle with the cartels. Today, millions of weapons are in private hands — in direct violation of Mexico's strict gun laws.
Los Angeles Times

Public Safety News

Hollywood Hills House Fire Prompts Massive Response From LAFD
A fire broke out Friday morning at a three-story home nestled in the Hollywood Hills, prompting a massive response from Los Angeles firefighters. The fire was reported shortly before 10:30 a.m. at a house on a descending hillside in the 3100 block of North Hollyridge Drive. Firefighters were seen atop the 2,009-square-foot residence as massive flames roared inside the structure and through the roof. The cause of the fire was unknown. No injuries were reported.

Local Government News

City Councilman Proposes $2.2 Million More For Skid Row Homeless Services
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar proposed expanding the hygiene station in Skid Row and asked for funding for rapid re-housing programs for 150 women facing homelessness. "We must move quickly to combat the homelessness crisis, and we must incorporate both short- and long-term strategies,'' Huizar said. "The motions I presented today are essential to providing the funding to meet the immediate needs of Skid Row's homeless population and our long-term goals of setting people on a path to permanent placement.'' Huizar is seeking $1.5 million for rapid re-housing and social services including support for education, employment, housing placement and more. The goal is to help the women make the transition from homelessness to temporary or permanent housing, he said. 
FOX 11

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