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October 2019 - Week 3

The Washington Post

PURPLE Newsman Available

Shepard Smith, Fox News veteran anchor and frequent Trump target, abruptly resigns from the network

By Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison

Shepard Smith, one of Fox News's leading anchors and a frequent target of President Trump, abruptly stepped down from the network on Friday, departing with little explanation after 23 years on the air.

Smith, Fox News's chief news anchor and host of its afternoon news program “Shepard Smith Reporting,” said the decision to leave was his own but gave no further reason for his resignation. He signed off with a brief statement, surprising even his colleagues. Fox News said Friday's program would be Smith's last.

Smith has been at Fox News since its founding in 1996 and is one of its signature figures. He was among the first people hired by Fox News's co-founder, the late Roger Ailes, for the network's launch. His recent tenure, however, has been marked by conflict and criticism, not just from President Trump but from within the network itself.

The internal tensions at Fox News appear to have contributed to his resignation, according to multiple people at the network and those close to Smith who spoke to The Washington Post for this story. Smith was also in the middle of a long-term contract, making his resignation — and Fox's agreement to release him — highly unusual.

Earlier this month, he engaged in an extraordinary war of words with Tucker Carlson, one of the network's most popular opinion hosts. Smith called Carlson “repugnant” for not defending Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano when a guest on Carlson's program called Napolitano “a fool” for criticizing Trump's efforts to gain damaging information on Democratic rival Joe Biden from the president of Ukraine.

Carlson fired back, clearly referring to Smith but not naming him: “Unlike maybe some dayside hosts, I'm not very partisan.”

Trump suggests Shepard Smith left Fox due to ratings President Trump on Oct. 11 wished Fox News anchor Shepard Smith well after Smith resigned hours earlier. (The Washington Post)

A former Fox News staffer who has recently been in touch with Smith said that the spat with Carlson was the last straw and that Smith had grown frustrated in recent months by the repeated attacks on the news division by other opinion hosts. Fox News declined to comment on the reasons for Smith's resignation.

In farewell remarks, Smith said, “Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small-town Mississippi have been many. It's been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor.”

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PURPLE Politics .. anyone?

Brexit’s knotty problem

As the Oct. 31 deadline nears, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is making a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement with European leaders that he hopes will pass in Parliament this Saturday.

But there’s no consensus on a central concern: the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The line was drawn in the early 1920s, dividing the newly independent Republic of Ireland from the six counties of Northern Ireland, which remained part of the United Kingdom. Ireland’s customs controls sharply reduced trade between the two.

The boundary took on increased significance during the decades of the Troubles, the sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland that left some 3,600 dead.

In the 1990s, with the adoption of the European Single Market resolving trade issues and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement putting an end to the bloodshed, the border became all but invisible.

Now, as Britain — and, by extension, Northern Ireland — prepares to leave the European Union, leaders are working to avoid reinstating border controls that might renew violence.

See: "The history of the Irish Border: From Plantation to Brexit"


The Washington Post


U.S. foreign policy is for sale. Who else is buying?

By Anne Applebaum

Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, a pro-Trumper or a never-Trumper, an inhabitant of a blue state or a red state, you owe it to yourself and your country to read the text of the statement prepared for Congress by former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. If you care about the Constitution, if you feel any fealty to the ideas and ideals that have shaped U.S. foreign policy for the past century, then you will find it deeply disturbing.

Yovanovitch is a career State Department official who served under multiple presidents from both political parties. She was fired by the Trump administration — told to go home “on the next plane” — because, it turns out, her campaign against corruption in Ukraine bothered some corrupt Americans with Ukrainian ties. Specifically, her campaign against corruption bothered two men, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, who were clients of Rudolph W. Giuliani, a friend of President Trump as well as the former mayor of New York. The men spread rumors about her that reached the president's ears — and he believed them.

“I was nevertheless incredulous,” she writes, “that the U.S. government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.” She also points out that the precedent set, for State Department officials as well as other civil servants, is terrible: “We make a difference every day on issues that matter to the American people,” she writes. “We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm's way to serve this nation. And we do that willingly, because we believe in America and its special role in the world. We also believe that, in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.”

That is no longer the case. Foreign interests — specifically, the interests of Fruman and Parnas, who have just been indicted on a charge of conspiring “to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence” — not only sought the removal of a U.S. ambassador; they sought, successfully, to distort and undermine U.S. foreign policy, to undermine our decades-long push for rule of law in Ukraine.

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The New York Times


U.S. military fears it’s seen this before

By allowing Turkey to attack America’s Kurdish allies in Syria, the U.S. risks repeating a scenario that helped pave the way for the Iraq war, according to military and national security officials.

“It takes time to build trust,” said Paul Eaton, a retired major general and veteran of the Iraq war. “And any time you erode trust, like this, it’s that much harder to bring it back.”

At the end of the Persian Gulf war nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. allowed Saddam Hussein to crush insurgents in Iraq, including Kurdish groups, leaving him in power until the U.S. invaded more than a decade later.

Catch up: At least 16 Kurds were reported to have been killed in Turkey’s assault in Syria, a monitoring group said today. The attack on the Kurds, a crucial American ally in the fight against the Islamic State, came days after President Trump agreed to let the operation proceed. Here’s a quick look at the history behind the conflict.

What’s next: It’s too soon to say what will happen, but Pentagon officials express fear that Turkey’s incursion into Syria could lead to the release of tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and the return of the self-proclaimed caliphate that the U.S. and its partners have spent the past five years destroying.

Related: The American military was working to remove as many as several dozen Islamic State detainees from Syria. The U.S. already has two British men in custody who tortured and killed Western hostages, according to officials.

Response: Mr. Trump said Turkey’s offensive, which has prompted criticism in Congress, was “a bad idea” but reiterated his opposition to “senseless wars.” He also said that the Kurds had fought with the U.S. only out of self-interest, and that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War.”

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The Washington Post

ARTICLE - Middle East

Who are the Kurds, and why is Turkey attacking them?

By Siobhán O'Grady

Kurdish fighters in northern Syria have served as a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State. But U.S. troops stepped aside this week as Turkey launched an offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

President Trump has faced pressure even from Republicans as he has defended his decision not to intervene against the Turkish incursion, which many see as abandoning an ally in the face of extreme danger. Kurdish forces have described the U.S. departure as “a stab in the back.”

“Some want us to send tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Others say STAY OUT and let the Kurds fight their own battles. I say hit Turkey very hard financially with sanctions if they don't play by the rules.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to move into northeastern Syria for months. Here's why he went ahead with it.

Who are the Kurds?

The Kurds are members of a large, predominantly Muslim ethnic group. They have their own cultural and linguistic traditions, and most speak one of two major dialects of the Kurdish language, which is closely related to Persian. After World War I, Western powers promised Kurds their own homeland in the agreement known as the Treaty of Sèvres. But a later agreement instead divided them among Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Today, there are about 30 million Kurds living across the region, with about half of them in Turkey. Iraq is the only country in the region to have established an autonomous Kurdish region, known as Iraqi Kurdistan, inside its borders. Its parliament was founded in 1992.

“The Kurds have been suppressed in all sorts of ways, often very violently,” said Henri Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “They have really suffered at the hands of the four states.”

Omer Taspinar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that for decades Turkey has had a policy of “assimilating the Kurds into Turkish ethnic identity, denial of Kurdish ethnic identity and denial of Kurdish linguistic rights.”

Kurds in Turkey are free to be Kurds, he said, only if they accept that they're Turkish citizens. “The problem begins when they want a hyphenated identity,” Taspinar said.

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The New York Times


Assault in Germany was live-streamed

The gunman who attempted to storm a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on Wednesday was wearing a head-mounted camera that streamed the attack to Twitch, the Amazon-owned video platform.

The gunman was unable to enter the building, where 51 congregants were gathered for Yom Kippur, but fatally shot two people outside before driving away. The police later said a suspect had been arrested.

In the video, the gunman denied the Holocaust, denounced feminists and immigrants, and said, “The root of all these problems is the Jew.”

Related: Twitch, which has struggled to police its content, apologized and said that only five people had watched the shooting live. About 2,200 people viewed a recording before it was removed.

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The Washinton Post


From Germany to America, synagogues are frequently the target of attacks

By Jennifer Hassan

LONDON — A shooting near a synagogue in the German city of Halle claimed at least two lives Wednesday, an attack that coincided with Yom Kippur — one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen on German soil and in other European countries in recent years, with synagogues — once considered safe havens — frequently becoming targets.

And it's not just in Europe. According to a report issued this year, anti-Semitic incidents around the world rose 13 percent in 2018.

In October 2018, an armed gunman opened fire inside Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, killing 11 people and wounding many more. The massacre became the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

At the time, police said he motive of the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, was “to kill Jews.”

While synagogues in Germany are usually protected by police, worshipers and officials around the world are increasingly forced to weigh tighter security measures. In the United States, the Pittsburgh massacre prompted many to debate the idea of ramping up security measures in and around holy buildings.

Those in support of the measures think tighter security would make people feel safer, while others fear the protective steps could make a place of worship less welcoming.

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The Los Angeles Times

Rush for body parts as coroners wait

Dozens of autopsies have been complicated or upended when organs or tissues were taken for transplant before a medical examiner’s scrutiny, The Times has found

By Melody Petersen -- First of two parts

When 69-year-old Marietta Jinde died in September 2016, police had already been called to her home several times because of reports of possible abuse. A detective described conditions at the woman’s home in Gardena as “horrendous.”

She was so emaciated and frail that the hospital asked Los Angeles County adult protective services officials to look into her death.

Yet by the time a coroner’s investigator was able to examine Jinde’s 70-pound body, the bones from her legs and arms were gone. Also missing were large patches of skin from her back. With permission from county officials and saying they did not know of the abuse allegations, employees from OneLegacy, a Southern California human tissue procurement company, had gained access to the body, taking parts that could have provided crucial evidence.

Coroner officials said police did not inform them of the possible abuse complaints until 10 days after Jinde died. They said they were able to complete their investigation by using the autopsy exam, hospital records and photos, and determined that she died of natural causes, including severe heart disease.

After reviewing the autopsy report, Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist who has consulted on many prominent death investigations, questioned the coroner’s ability to make that determination when the bones and skin had already been removed.
“We can’t be sure the bones weren’t fractured,” Wecht said. “This could have been a manslaughter case.”

The case is one of dozens of death investigations across the country, including more than two dozen in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, that The Times found were complicated or upended when transplantable body parts were taken before a coroner’s autopsy was performed.

In multiple cases, coroners have had to guess at the cause of death. Wrongful-death and medical malpractice lawsuits have been thwarted by early tissue harvesting. A death after a fight with police remains unsettled. The procurement process caused changes to bodies that medical examiners mistook as injuries or abuse. In at least one case, a murder charge was dropped.

Organ procurement before an investigation has long been legal, provided the coroner agreed. The motivation was to increase the number of hearts, kidneys and other vital organs needed to extend the lives of Americans waiting for transplants. To raise those numbers, California and other states over the last decade passed laws requiring coroners and medical examiners to “cooperate” with the companies to “maximize” the number of organs and tissues taken for transplant. Procurement companies’ lobbyists helped to write the legislation and push it into law.

In a handful of states the laws go even further, giving the companies the power to force coroners to delay autopsies until they have harvested the body parts.

Although the companies have emphasized organ transplants, in far more cases nationwide they harvested skin, bone, fat, ligaments and other tissues that are generally not used for life-threatening conditions. Those body parts fuel a booming industrial biotech market in which a half-teaspoon of ground-up human skin is priced at $434. That product is one of those used in cosmetic surgery to plump lips and posteriors, fill cellulite dimples and enhance penises. A single body can supply raw materials for products that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In lobbying for the laws, the companies pointed to papers published in professional journals stating categorically that there has never been a single documented instance of body-part procurement interfering with a death investigation.

But the papers’ authors included procurement company executives and others with undisclosed ties to the industry. And the source of the claim was a short article in a 1994 American Bar Assn. newsletter, which did not even discuss the donation of bone and other tissues.

The expanded reach of the procurement industry has troubled some death investigators.

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The Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA - Mental Health

Killing of patient, allegations of dangerous care haunt South L.A. psychiatric hospital, investigation finds


Jacob Masters had been drifting around Southern California for months when he began suffering a mental breakdown.

On Oct. 27, 2017, Redondo Beach police took him to the Kedren Community Health Center in South Los Angeles, where he was placed in an involuntary hold.

He would never leave.

A week into his stay, Masters was strangled to death in his room. Another patient — psychotic and suicidal, according to hospital records — has been charged with murder.

Government inspectors later discovered that the hospital had failed to monitor Masters’ room and that his alleged assailant, who’d been brought to the facility after attempting suicide, was never given a psychiatric evaluation.

A Times review of inspection reports and court records has revealed serious failures of oversight in the care of patients at Kedren’s acute psychiatric hospital, a key resource for people struggling with mental illness.

Among the cases: One patient reported being choked by a Kedren employee. Another said she had been sexually assaulted by her roommate. There was no evidence the hospital investigated either complaint, according to state inspectors.

In recent years, several former employees have alleged in lawsuits that they were fired for reporting serious misconduct and dangerous practices at the hospital.

The claims have focused scrutiny on a historic institution founded in the ashes of the Watts riots, which for more than 50 years has been a mainstay of mental health, primary care, education and other family services.

The inspection in the wake of Masters’ death found widespread safety issues at the hospital that put patients in “immediate jeopardy” of harm or death.

Of the nearly 800 similar inspections conducted at psychiatric hospitals across the nation last year, that level of violation was found only 28 times, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the administrator of the federal healthcare programs.

State, local and federal regulators say that Kedren has carried out numerous reforms and is capable of providing quality care to its patients. Since the July 2018 inspection, the hospital added 24-hour psychiatric coverage, appointed a medical director of inpatient psychiatry and installed new software systems to track patients and reports of safety violations.

In March, Kedren’s federal certification was renewed.

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The Los Angeles Times


Column: How do we stay humane when housing homeless people comes with a view to your backyard?


When Pilar Schiavo got word that a homeless housing project might be going up near her daughter’s school, Chatsworth Park Elementary, she went on the parents’ Facebook page “to ask some questions and get the facts.”

Four hours later, Schiavo logged off — still short on facts, and chastened by an online juggernaut of parents rallying to block the project.

Later that week, a protest over what would be the northwest Valley’s only homeless housing project drew dozens of Chatsworth residents to a vacant car lot on Topanga Canyon Boulevard proposed as a site for the complex.

It was a reprise of protests over homeless housing that have taken place in other communities: Venice, Koreatown, Sherman Oaks, San Pedro.

Chatsworth had always seemed to me like such a live-and-let-live place. Tucked up against the Santa Susana Mountains, it’s where my girls played soccer, our family hiked and rock-climbed, and I dabbled in horseback riding. So I headed for the early morning protest to see what the grumbling was about.

On this Wednesday morning, their protest drew dozens of Chatsworth residents to the shuttered car lot on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

The project’s opponents massed on the sidewalk, waving “Protect Our Children” signs, buoyed by honks of support from cars and trucks crawling along the busy thoroughfare.

One block away, on the sidewalk outside the elementary school, Schiavo stood with a small group of parents and local activists willing to give the project a chance. They had signs too — “Moms Support Transitional Housing” — but nobody honked.

Schiavo had grilled the project developer and was passing out a fact sheet she composed “because parents just want to know more,” she said.

It won’t be a “shelter,” as protest signs proclaimed, but a building with individual apartments and resources like job training and drug treatment. It would have 63 tenants; six floors, not seven; and take three years to build.

“I’m inclined to support it if the services are reasonable,” Schiavo told me. “There are seniors and veterans and people who want to get off the streets. We can’t keep saying ‘not in my backyard.’”

But in this case “not in my backyard” literally is the project’s sticking point.

The six-story complex would dwarf everything around it; you can drive for miles in Chatsworth and not pass another building that tall.

From its rooftop terrace, residents would be able to see into the backyards of homes on the quiet street behind it.

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The Los Angeles Times


As Boise Goes, So Goes …

Homelessness in Boise, Idaho, and in Los Angeles is vastly different. Anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 homeless people live in Boise; more than 36,000 live just in the city of L.A. Yet because of a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, this midsize city in Idaho sets the enforcement standards for its much bigger counterparts in the West. Now, L.A. and other local governments have joined Boise’s mayor in challenging that decision, which prohibits cities from ticketing or arresting homeless people for sleeping or camping on public property if there are no shelter beds available as an alternative.


This city in Idaho is why L.A. can’t legally clear its streets of homeless encampments


BOISE, Idaho — The homeless men and women who live in Idaho’s largest city are well-nigh invisible. You might see a line waiting for the main library doors to open. Or a solitary shape, wrapped in a blanket, sleeping at the base of a bridge along the Boise River. Or maybe a grizzled veteran holding a cardboard sign at a busy corner.
But just one.

The difference between homelessness in Los Angeles and homelessness in Boise is stark — as in orders of magnitude stark. There is no skid row here, no Tenderloin like San Francisco’s, no American River Parkway as in Sacramento.

Yet, it is this midsize city with its relatively manageable homeless population that is setting the enforcement standards for its much bigger counterparts in the West.

Boise Mayor David Bieter is attempting to challenge a landmark federal court ruling that prohibits cities from ticketing or arresting homeless people for sleeping or camping on public property if there are no shelter beds available as an alternative. The city and county of Los Angeles, along with several local governments in California and elsewhere, have filed court documents supporting Bieter’s bid.

The mayor hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will take up and then overturn Martin vs. City of Boise. He contends the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has hamstrung more than 1,600 Western municipalities in their efforts to control homeless encampments in parks and on sidewalks. Los Angeles, which President Trump says is “destroying” itself with homelessness, is chief among them.

L.A. has more than 36,000 homeless people and an untold number of encampments, which pop up faster than city sanitation crews can dismantle them. A recent Times analysis found that a majority of homeless people have either reported or showed signs of mental illness, a physical disability or substance abuse — conditions that get worse the longer people remain outside.

Boise, by comparison, has anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 homeless people, depending on whom you ask. There has been one encampment in recent memory. It was called Cooper Court, and the city tore it down in 2015.

This is perhaps the key difference between homelessness in California’s biggest city and in the leafy capital of Idaho: optimism.

“We have a great chance of actually taking care of everyone,” said Jodi Peterson-Stigers, executive director of Interfaith Sanctuary, one of Boise’s three overnight shelters. “Los Angeles is completely out of control … whereas we really do have a manageable problem if we can work together in supporting the population as opposed to criminalizing the population.”

Bieter declined to comment on Martin vs. City of Boise or on homelessness in his fast-growing city of about 228,000 people. But in a written statement released when Boise filed its petition with the Supreme Court, he said, “Cities will not have the tools they need to prevent a humanitarian crisis on their own streets” if the ruling stands.

Pamela Hawkes, 36, is one of half a dozen or so people who sued the city in the Martin case, which was filed in 2009. She and her then-partner had driven to Boise from Spokane, Wash., in a friend’s RV, hoping for a fresh start.

“My ex-boyfriend mentioned that he had lived in Boise and how nice it was, and maybe we could get on our feet there,” Hawkes said. She was in her early 20s at the time. “But we got stuck in a cycle. There were times we’d get on our feet.”

She fell silent on the other end of the phone, the rest of the sentence left unsaid: There were times we would fall flat.

Boise is the heart of the burgeoning Treasure Valley, a swath of southwestern Idaho that’s among the fastest-growing regions in the country. It’s a college town (home of Boise State University) and the financial heart of the Gem State. The preliminary unemployment rate for August, the most recent figure available, is a scant 2.6% — more than a percentage point less than the national rate, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Now Hiring” signs dot the city. The sounds of construction echo.

But, as in Los Angeles, prosperity has had unintended consequences.

The city’s 2019 point-in-time count placed the number of homeless people at 713, down slightly from the previous year. But 836 homeless children attended Boise Unified School District in the 2018-19 school year, the most up-to-date statistics available, according to the state Department of Education. And the Idaho Housing and Finance Assn. pegs the number of homeless people in Ada County, where Boise is located, at 2,059.

Eight times in the last two years, the Idaho Statesman has published headlines like this one about the two main counties in the Treasure Valley: “Ada, Canyon home prices set records again in August as ‘perfect storm’ fuels sales.” Since February 2018, the median home price in Ada County has risen 19.3% to a high of $354,405, the Statesman wrote in September.

That sounds great, if you have a California salary. But just like California, wages here haven’t kept up with the price of housing. The minimum wage in Idaho is a bottom-of-the-nation-scraping $7.25 an hour, which makes even so-called affordable housing pretty unaffordable.

That is, if there is any — and that’s a big if.

Housing that Boise’s poorest residents can afford is all but nonexistent. And even at the lowest estimate, the number of homeless people outstrips emergency accommodations: 372 emergency beds, 146 overflow mats, 12 cribs spread over three shelters.

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The Los Angeles Times

Fatally intertwined on L.A.’s fringes

By Benjamin Oreskes, Matthew Ormseth and Maria L. La Ganga

The two women tried to avert disaster.

Kandince Cuellar told her abusive boyfriend she was going to leave him. He was having terrible headaches and said he wanted to die. She was afraid.

Her best friend, Marlene Lopez, tried to persuade him to go to the emergency room for help; she thought it would keep all of them safe. Maybe tomorrow, he told her.

They hid his handguns, the 9-millimeter and the chrome-plated revolver. But they missed the Remington Wingmaster 12-gauge shotgun tucked away in the garage.

That’s the one Eric Krause grabbed on a chilly November day. The one he used on Cuellar and her lover, Geoff Garland. The one he finally turned on himself.

Chances are, you didn’t hear about the double murder-suicide in Atwater Village, which played out in the early morning darkness on Veterans Day. It happened just days after a gunman shot 12 people to death in a Thousand Oaks country music bar, while raging wildfires scorched the state and midterm elections flipped the U.S. House of Representatives from red to blue.

But news overload is not the only reason the carnage in the small stucco house with a Spanish tile roof escaped widespread notice. It claimed three people who were bound by poverty, addiction and mental illness. Like many in Southern California’s growing population of people who are homeless, and those who are nearly so, they were searching for a place to belong. They found one — and that was the problem.

This is a crime story. And a love story. It’s a story about life on the porous border between haves and have-nots, between hanging on and losing everything, between home and homeless encampment, between life and death.

Most of all, it’s a story about Los Angeles.

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The Los Angeles Times


Democrats reach out to LGBTQ voters

Presidential hopefuls at an L.A. forum vow to reverse Trump’s rollbacks of rules against discrimination.

By Michael Finnegan

Nine Democratic presidential candidates vowed Thursday to reverse President Trump’s rollbacks of LGBTQ rights as they sought to appeal to a key group of voters in the race for the party’s 2020 nomination.

In back-to-back appearances at a CNN town hall in Los Angeles, the Democrats sketched out similar agendas on LGBTQ issues. One after another, they vowed to reverse President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The most warmly received candidate was Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who spoke at the last primary debate about his decision to publicly come out as gay soon after returning from war.

In criticizing the ban on transgender troops, the 37-year-old veteran who served in Afghanistan took a swipe at the president for getting a medical deferral to avoid service in the Vietnam War.

“The transgender military ban is an outrage against the willingness of service members to put their lives on the line for this country, and they are having their careers threatened by a president who avoided serving when it was his turn,” he said to a burst of applause. “That is dead wrong.”

Turning to the mental health of LGBTQ youth, Buttigieg called for a national “three-digit suicide prevention hotline.” He also bemoaned the federal rule barring blood donations by men who have had sex with another man within the last year.

“My blood’s not welcome in this country,” he said, “and it’s not based on science; it’s based on prejudice.”

The forum, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, came as public support for LGBTQ rights has been rising. Large majorities of Americans back same-sex marriage and oppose the ban on transgender people in the military.

Trump promised during his 2016 campaign to be a friend to LGBTQ Americans, but as president has sought on multiple fronts to roll back their rights.

His administration argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not bar employers from firing workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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The Los Angeles Times


Why do Trump's supporters stick with him? Partisan divisions have never been wider

Impeachment is unfolding against a background of ever-more bitter partisanship. That helped produce Trump, and it keeps him afloat.

By David Lauter

In 2016, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center surveyed the American electorate and discovered levels of partisan mistrust and animosity worse than any in a generation. The findings helped explain how tribal American politics have become and the rise of a political figure, President Trump, who has made exploiting those divisions his main stock in trade.

Three years later, Pew is out with a new report, based on a survey of 9,895 American adults. Its conclusion? Partisan divisions have gotten worse.

Just over half of people who identify themselves as Republicans say that Democrats are “more immoral” than other Americans, for example. Just under half of people who identify themselves as Democrats say the same about Republicans. In both cases, the share holding that view of the other side has increased since 2016.

And this latest survey was conducted in early September — before the impeachment debate took hold.


Democratic figures, most notably former Vice President Joe Biden, often blame Trump for the divisions in American society. But while the president has definitely stoked the fires of grievance, the earlier Pew study serves as a reminder that the blaze existed before him — he probably wouldn’t have captured the Republican nomination without it.

Partisanship has raged out of control because the two party labels have become proxies for so many preexisting divides. Democrats have become a party of a racially diverse, urban, coastal population, much of which is unmoored from traditional religious practices and accepting of immigration and dramatic changes in gender roles and sexual mores. Republicans are increasingly the party of older, white, rural conservatives, suspicious of urban elites and feeling threatened by immigrants and what they see as a decline of traditional morality and social order.

The breadth and bitterness of the partisan division explains why Trump is so unlikely to lose the support of his core voters in the current impeachment debate — it’s not some special magic of his own so much as the dislike, often revulsion, they feel toward the other side.

Indeed, the fact that, despite partisanship, a significant minority of Republicans currently say they find Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine scandal “troubling” — about one in five in the latest Fox News poll, for example — is a strong indicator of just how serious his problems are.

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The Los Angeles Times

POLITICS - Economy

Manufacturing is now officially in recession, despite Trump’s vow to boost industry


WASHINGTON — During President Trump’s first two years in office, his standing with many voters was buoyed by a surge in manufacturing that helped create millions of new jobs and undergirded the whole U.S. economy.

But today, manufacturing has plunged into recession and is threatening to pull down other sectors, perhaps hitting hardest on supporters in those states that helped put Trump in office.

Impeachment may be dominating the news, but the less-noticed industrial slump ultimately could pose a greater threat to Trump’s reelection.

As measured by the Federal Reserve, manufacturing output shrank over two straight quarters this year. That’s the common definition of recession.

A separate, widely followed index drawn from purchasing managers showed September’s contraction in manufacturing was the steepest since June 2009, with production, inventories and new orders all falling.

And after adding nearly half a million jobs in the prior two years, which Trump frequently stressed in hard-hat rallies throughout the Midwest, manufacturing employment has stalled.

Instead of healthy job growth, layoff announcements have spiked this year, especially in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. Friday’s jobs report for September showed a slight drop in total factory jobs.

Manufacturing today accounts for only about 10% of economic activity, and so far, the overall economy and employment in the U.S. are still growing. But the pace has slowed considerably this year. The faltering industrial sector has started to crimp businesses in the transportation and warehousing sectors. And there are growing worries of spillover effects in the larger services sector and broader economy.

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The Los AnelesTimes


Watergate with outsourcing

Nixon at least hired Americans for the job. So much for ‘America first.’


Give Richard M. Nixon credit: When he set out to sabotage his opponents in a U.S. presidential campaign, at least he hired Americans for the job.

President Trump outsourced his dirty tricks overseas, asking Ukraine to help destroy former Vice President Joe Biden.

It has landed Trump in a Watergate-size world of trouble.

The 37th president’s path to his ignoble resignation may be the best guide we have to the possible future of the 45th — although that doesn’t mean the two scandals will end the same way.

Still, the similarities are undeniable. In both cases, a president was accused of abusing his power in an attempt to hobble one of his Democratic opponents. The initial allegations led to others, including charges of illegal campaign contributions to the president’s reelection efforts.

On Thursday, 17 federal prosecutors from the Watergate case published an open letter charging that Trump is guilty of the same offenses that brought Nixon down: abuse of power, obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress.

“The same three articles of impeachment could be specified against Trump, as he has demonstrated serious and persistent abuses of power that in our view satisfy the constitutional standard of high crimes and misdemeanors,” they wrote in the Washington Post.

Nixon tried to tamper with the 1972 election when he was seeking a second term. First he sent undercover agents to sabotage the campaign of Sen. Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, the Democrats’ early front-runner.

Then Nixon’s ham-fisted “plumbers” broke into a Democratic Party office in Washington’s Watergate complex to plant listening devices, only to be thwarted by a security guard. A two-year whodunit revealed numerous other crimes. Nixon quit after Senate Republicans warned him he’d be ousted from office in an impeachment trial.

Senate Republicans still support Trump — but his Ukraine imbroglio has moved at warp speed compared with Watergate. The House’s impeachment inquiry only began on Sept. 24.

Both presidents tried to shield themselves by holding onto public support — but both lost ground as evidence of their misconduct piled up.

In Nixon’s case, public sentiment changed slowly. Support for his impeachment didn’t reach 50% until June 1974, two years after the Watergate burglary.

Trump’s polls hit that mark less than a month after the White House released a rough transcript of a call that showed Trump had pressed Ukraine’s president for a “favor,” an investigation of his political enemies. Last week, a Fox News poll found that 51% of the public already favors Trump’s removal from office.

Much of that sentiment is partisan. Some 85% of Democrats favored removing Trump from the White House, according to the poll, while 82% of Republicans said he shouldn’t be impeached at all.

But the president’s GOP base may not be as solid as it looks. A Washington Post-Schar School poll found that 28% of Republicans support House Democrats’ decision to open an impeachment inquiry, and almost 1 in 5 Republicans said they favor removing Trump from office.

If those numbers grow, the president is in serious trouble.

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The Los Angeles Times


Wage inequality is surging in California — and not just on the coast. Here’s why


Wage inequality has risen more in California cities than in the metropolitan areas of any other state, with seven of the nation’s 15 most unequal cities located in the Golden State.

San Jose, with its concentration of Silicon Valley technology jobs, had the largest gap of any California metro area between those at the top of the pay scale and those at the bottom. It ranked second in the nation after the suburb of Fairfield, Conn., home to wealthy New York financiers, according to a new analysis of 2015 U.S. Census data by Federal Reserve economists. San Francisco and Los Angeles also ranked high on the list.

More surprising, perhaps, is the inclusion of Bakersfield, where high-wage engineering jobs are juxtaposed with poverty-wage farm work.

The heavy concentration of California metro areas is a striking turnabout from 1980, when just three figured in the top 15.

As inequality has soared across the United States, most sharply since the 1980s, it has been the focus of widespread debate and become a hot political issue. But less attention has focused on dramatic geographical differences in inequality.

“Wage inequality … has risen quite sharply in some parts of the country, while it has been much more subdued in other places,” wrote Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who titled their report, “Why Are Some Places So Much More Unequal than Others?”

“Rising inequality in the United States has largely been an urban phenomenon,” they added.

Large cities with dynamic economies tend to have higher wage disparities, while midsized cities with “sluggish economies” are less unequal because they attract fewer high-wage workers, the authors found.

Nationally, outsized executive pay has become a major issue. Under President Obama, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission ordered corporations to publicly report the ratio between what top executives are paid and what their median workers earn, drawing attention to big compensation packages. But the new tax law backed by President Trump and congressional Republicans cut income taxes for top earners.

The new Federal Reserve study only addresses wages and does not examine growing disparities in assets such as real estate and stocks, the focus of recent calls by progressive politicians to impose a wealth tax on the rich.

U.S. wages have grown “much more rapidly for highly skilled workers at the top of the wage distribution than for those in the middle or at the bottom,” the authors wrote. “A worker in the 95th percentile of the wage distribution earns more than three times what the median worker earns and more than seven times the earnings of a worker at the 10th percentile, well above what these ratios were just a few decades ago.”

Comparing wage data from 1980 to 2015 in 200 metropolitan areas, Abel and Deitz documented a disproportionate rise in inequality in the most populous cities, like Los Angeles, New York and Houston. By contrast, the pay gap has remained largely flat in midsized Midwestern and Southern cities, such as Wasau, Wisc., Fort Wayne, Ind., and Ocala, Fla.

The report focused on what the authors call the 90/10 ratio: the difference between the earnings of workers in the 90th percentile of wage distribution and those in the 10th percentile. But the disparities were reflected throughout pay levels.

“In 1980, there was virtually no relationship between city size and the level of wage inequality,” according to the report. “None of the 10 largest metropolitan areas ranked among the nation’s most unequal places.… By 2015, five of the 10 largest areas ranked among the most unequal in the country.”

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The Los Angeles Times


Uber says LAX’s new pickup system could cause long waits and traffic jams

Starting Oct. 29, shuttle buses will carry LAX passengers to a new pickup area, just east of Terminal 1, to summon an Uber or Lyft.


Uber has warned Los Angeles International Airport officials that travelers could face traffic jams and long waits for rides when a new pickup system for Uber and Lyft begins later this month.

Starting Oct. 29, LAX will ban Uber, Lyft and taxi pickups from the curb in an attempt to address worsening traffic. Travelers will board a shuttle or walk to a parking lot next to Terminal 1 to catch a ride.

In a letter to the city agency that runs LAX, Uber’s security team said it was concerned that the system would not have a test run before the formal launch date. Similar changes this summer at the San Francisco airport sparked weeks of chaos.

Uber’s letter to LAX

LAX estimates that travelers will be out of the airport within 25 to 30 minutes of leaving the terminal. Right now, summoning a car, meeting the driver at the curb and getting out of traffic jams in the horseshoe can take an hour.

Airport officials have converted the western half of a parking lot next to Terminal 1 into a plaza with bathrooms, seating and shade umbrellas. The pickup area will have free Wi-Fi, food trucks and cellphone charging stations.

The pickup lot will have 37 assigned spaces for Uber, which is not enough to satisfy rider demand, the company said in the Oct. 2 letter. Drivers for Uber pick up an average of 500 riders per hour at LAX, and during the busiest parts of the week, that number more than doubles, the company said.

Without a significant expansion of the lot, we expect the level of service to be poor,” the Uber letter said. The expansion would need to include at least twice as much space, the company said, with more space for pickups, more curb area for passengers to wait, and more road capacity for cars to enter and exit.

The five loading bays where drivers will pick up riders will narrow to two exit lanes, which could “cause a bottleneck, risking gridlock during peak periods,” Uber wrote. That problem could be “further compounded” by shuttle buses to the terminals that will pass by every 45 seconds or so, the company said.

If the pickup area is not able to handle all the pickup requests, Uber said, the airport should consider moving some pickups back to the curbside “as a quick solution to relieve pressure on the lot.”

Airport officials said they have done “extensive traffic modeling” and are confident that the pickup area will have enough capacity to satisfy rider demand, spokeswoman Becca Doten said in an email.

Traffic officers will be on duty 24 hours per day to direct the flow of vehicles, the airport said. Employees will be on hand to answer questions, load luggage into shuttles and help passengers find their rides.

The airport has been “working collaboratively with Uber and our other stakeholders for many months” on the design and operation of the pickup area, she said.

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The Los Angeles Times


Acting chief of Homeland Security steps down

Kevin McAleenan is latest exit from agency at war with White House and itself.

By Molly O’Toole and Molly Hennessy-Fiske

WASHINGTON — President Trump is pushing out Kevin McAleenan, his acting Homeland Security secretary, making the lawyer and former Obama administration official the latest target in a long purge of leadership from the U.S. government’s third-largest department.

McAleenan leaves the Department of Homeland Security in turmoil, at war with the White House and itself over the Trump administration’s aggressive drive to restrict immigration, prioritizing it above the department’s other responsibilities, such as counter-terrorism and disaster response.

“We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down,” Trump tweeted Friday, announcing McAleenan’s departure. “Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector....”

The president added he’d be naming McAleenan’s replacement at Homeland Security next week. “Many wonderful candidates!”

Despite withstanding months of public sniping from the administration and clear policy disagreements with the president, McAleenan also proved an effective implementer of some of Trump’s most extreme initiatives to crack down at the border.

In a tweet following Trump’s, McAleenan referenced these results, and thanked the president. He reportedly submitted his resignation earlier Friday.

“With his support, over the last 6 months, we have made tremendous progress mitigating the border security and humanitarian crisis we faced this year,” McAleenan said. He added that he’d be working with the department and White House on a “smooth transition.”

Ultimately, McAleenan’s efforts weren’t enough for Trump. This reality was recently underscored when Trump refused to back down from a misstatement on Hurricane Dorian, forcing McAleenan, whose department also oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to hold up a doctored chart forecasting the storm’s path for cameras in the Oval Office. As McAleenan led Trump in a tour at the border late last month, other officials interjected to defend and praise the president.

Under McAleenan, Homeland Security has been beset by political infighting and frustration between border and immigration officials over the ever-changing directives from the White House and a surge in migrants at the U.S. southern border, current and former officials told the Los Angeles Times.

A Border Patrol agent who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly said morale has suffered as the department struggles to respond to the surge on the border this year. He did not fault McAleenan.

“Politicians have to come together and fix the problems with the immigration system,” the agent said, noting McAleenan served “at the request of the president.” Still, he said he hopes the churn ends soon. “Ultimately, we do need stability with DHS.”

That churn has helped pit Homeland Security agencies against one another.

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The Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA - Environment / Transportaion

Metrolink proposes new trains from Burbank to Anaheim, using billions from bullet train


Ridership on Metrolink would double between Burbank and Anaheim, relieving freeway congestion, and new high-speed electric trains would slash emissions along the route under a plan that would shift up to $5.5 billion from the bullet train project in the Central Valley to Southern California.

Metrolink outlined these improvements to the commuter rail system in an internal report it submitted to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is weighing a decision over the next several months to direct some of the $20.5 billion in funding for the bullet train to Southern California and the Bay Area.

Budget increases, construction delays, technical problems and management turmoil involving the bullet train project have undermined political support and prompted Southern California legislators to question the existing plan to pour all of the remaining funds into the troubled Central Valley segment.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said he favored a concept that would put investments in urban areas with the greatest potential payoffs in terms of carrying passengers, relieving highway congestion and reducing pollution.

The Burbank-to-Anaheim corridor is part of the future bullet train system, so an investment in it is not a diversion of money from the statewide system, legislative staff said.

“We have a market here that is excited about high-speed rail,” Metrolink Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins said in a July interview. “There is a great synergy with Metrolink.”

The idea has gained momentum among Southern California legislators, whose votes could be decisive in a political showdown. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who backed the Central Valley plan in his first State of the State speech this year, has been silent on the matter for months.

Under the rough plan, all of the existing construction work along 119 miles in the Central Valley would be completed and track would be installed, but without an electrical system.

The San Joaquin Valley Joint Powers Authority, which operates the Amtrak system in the Central Valley, would run high-speed diesel trains that would link up with existing service into the Bay Area for the foreseeable future. That would theoretically free up about $5 billion to $6 billion to invest in passenger rail elsewhere in the state.

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The Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA - Education

Only half of California students meet English standards and fewer meet math standards, test scores show


Just over half of public school students who took the state’s standardized English language arts test performed at grade level, while only 4 in 10 are proficient in math, scores that represent a slow upward trend over the past four years, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Education.

Proficiency rates rose about 1 percentage point each in both English and math between 2018 and 2019, with 50.9% of students meeting English standards and 39.7% of students meeting math standards on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, designed to test Common Core concepts. However, scores among African American students are markedly lower, prompting calls from educators to address the achievement gap.

Although the overall incremental progress is a good sign, education experts said it’s troubling that the majority of public school students test below grade level in math, and nearly half in English. Students in grades three through eight and 11th-grade high school juniors take the test. The low scores reflect a lack of investment in early childhood education and in the public school system, the experts said.

“We don’t have high-quality preschool available; the same supports that you see in the affluent, suburban and private schools, you don’t see in the public schools serving poor kids,” said UCLA education professor Pedro Noguera.

“No one ever says, ‘Wow, we should do for the kids in Compton what we do for the kids in Brentwood,’” where a plethora of expensive private schools with small class sizes serve the wealthy, Noguera said.

Students at California charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate independently, performed about the same in English — 50.51% were proficient — but lagged in math, where 36.65% of charter students met or exceeded standards.

In Los Angeles — where about 80% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of low family income — scores improved at a higher rate, almost 2 percentage points in each category: 43.9% of students met English standards in 2019, and 33.47% met math standards.

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The Los Angeles Times

WORLD & NATION - Protests

‘It’s not about the money’: What Beijing doesn’t get about Hong Kong protesters


BEIJING — Chinese state media released a video this month that was directed at Hong Kong youth and titled: “Shenzhen’s success could be yours too.”

It features old and new shots of the mainland city located just across the border from Hong Kong, set to a triumphant chorus celebrating its transformation over the last three decades from a collection of fishing villages into a metropolis of shiny new skyscrapers.

“When you are on the right track, positive changes will occur,” says a caption.

The video appeared on China’s National Day, as tens of thousands of protesters were marching in Hong Kong, burning celebratory banners and hoisting up signs condemning the Communist Party for human rights abuses.

NOTE: CGTN is funded by the Chinese government:

As the demonstrations enter their fifth month, the Chinese government continues to pursue a strategy that misunderstands the motives of the protesters and has little chance of quelling the unrest.

The video encapsulates a trade-off at the core of the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic legitimacy: Give up your freedoms in exchange for stability, development and wealth.

It’s a social contract that’s been widely successful in mainland China, where many of the 1.4 billion people remember living through famine and poverty, and willingly eschew freedom of speech and other rights for the sake of economic well-being.

But it does not resonate in Hong Kong, the semiautonomous Chinese territory that was a British colony until 1997 and remains one of the world’s top financial centers. Many of its residents arrived as refugees fleeing communist rule and are accustomed to legal and education systems established by the British.

What started as a series of protests against an unwanted extradition bill has become a movement with five demands, none of them economic: withdrawal of the bill, investigation into police violence, amnesty for arrested protesters, the right of Hong Kongers to elect their own politicians and an end to government descriptions of the protests as “riots.”

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The Wall Street Journal


Facebook CEO to Testify at House Panel About Libra

Mark Zuckerberg will be asked about Facebook's foray into cryptocurrency and its impact on the financial-services sector

By Bowdeya Tweh and Peter Rudegeair

Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is slated to return to Capitol Hill this month to testify before a House panel about the company's foray into cryptocurrency, just weeks after facing a chilly reception from lawmakers about his vision for internet regulation.

The House Financial Services Committee said Wednesday that Mr. Zuckerberg will be the sole witness at an Oct. 23 hearing that examines Facebook's impact on the financial services and housing sectors.

Facebook in June revealed plans to launch a new cryptocurrency, known as libra, and digital wallet, called calibra, that could be used to pay for goods online and send money world-wide.

Since the project was announced, it has received a steady stream of criticism from lawmakers in the U.S. and other countries based on Facebook's prior missteps in data privacy and skepticism that the company could prevent libra from being used to launder money. House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), and other Democrats have called on Facebook to abandon plans to implement libra.

Mr. Zuckerberg has said Facebook wouldn't move forward with the project in the U.S. until it had satisfied regulatory concerns. The company has touted the project as having the potential to help provide basic financial services to people who lack bank accounts.

“Mark looks forward to testifying before the House Financial Services Committee and responding to lawmakers' questions,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. Company executive David Marcus faced wide criticism in July during a Senate Banking Committee hearing focused on libra.

Mr. Zuckerberg, who also serves as Facebook chairman, met last month with President Trump and members of Congress to address various issues involving the social-media giant. He also spent two days on Capitol Hill last year parrying questions from lawmakers, some of whom called for stronger regulation of Facebook given its dominant market position.

Facebook has hired seven additional lobbying firms to work on financial issues and cryptocurrencies since June, federal disclosures show. The roster of lobbyists includes former congressional staff members from both parties, such as two former aides to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R., Idaho).

Facebook's lobbyists have emphasized to congressional staffers a willingness to work with U.S. authorities. After receiving a letter in late September from Mr. Marcus, the Facebook executive in charge of libra, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.), a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, said: “Their desire to be transparent in this process is a good start.”

Mr. Zuckerberg's pending Washington visit comes as partners in the proposed cryptocurrency-based payments network are reconsidering their involvement. PayPal Holdings Inc. said earlier this month it would withdraw from the group, but remained supportive of libra's mission.

Mr. Zuckerberg's appearance on the Hill would come a little over a week after the roughly two dozen companies it recruited to help launch libra are slated to meet in Geneva. The Libra Association on Monday will discuss the future of the libra payments network and appoint a board to oversee it, and the meeting's outcome will likely bear on Mr. Zuckerberg's congressional testimony.

If Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc. or other big companies commit to moving forward with libra and agree to have their representatives sit on its board, that could neuter complaints that Facebook is dominating the project. But if more companies follow PayPal's lead and withdraw, that would make it harder for the social-media giant to argue that it doesn't have outsize control over libra's future.

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The New York Times

HISTORY - Obituary

SAMUEL MAYERSON, 1922 - 2019

Prosecutor of heiress Patty Hearst, Contested Hughes Will

By Steve Marble

Samuel Mayerson, the L.A. prosecutor who helped win a conviction against newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and then in a stunning display of compassion urged the court to spare her additional time behind bars for her crimes, has died at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Later, in private practice, Mayerson was at the center of the fantastical Howard Hughes fake-will trial, a case so astonishing that the story practically wrote itself as a Hollywood movie script.

Active as a judge until late in life, Mayerson died Sept. 30 of natural causes, his son, Matthew, said. He was 96.

It was a turbulent time in California when the 19-year-old Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley apartment in early 1974. A group of self-styled revolutionaries calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army claimed responsibility for abducting the heiress, whom they viewed as an entitled elitist from a family dripping with money.

For months, Hearst’s whereabouts remained a mystery as her family shelled out millions to her captors in hopes of winning her release.

Finally, in the spring of 1974, the narrative flipped. Now going by the name Tania and sporting a black beret and a vacant gaze, Hearst burst into a San Francisco bank with her captors, waving a sawed-off M1 carbine as she strode menacingly across the floor. Hearst, it seemed, was now an urban terrorist.

She was arrested in the fall of 1975, months after many members of the SLA died in a gun battle with the Los Angeles Police Department, a shootout so furious that the house on East 54th Street where the SLA held out burned to the ground.

The Los Angeles half of the Hearst case landed on Mayerson’s desk.

Already convicted of the San Francisco bank robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison, Hearst faced 11 felonies in Los Angeles, including shooting up the streets of Inglewood after a bungled shoplifting attempt at what then was Mel’s Sporting Goods.

Hearst’s was a complex case for Mayerson, a veteran L.A. County deputy district attorney who had seen his share of criminals in the courtroom.

Though charged with a healthy cross-section of crimes, she claimed she had been raped and abused by her captors and joined them on their crime rampage only out of fear of the reprisals they would take out on her or her family. Others saw Hearst as a privileged college student who found adventure or perhaps purpose in the SLA mayhem and then turned to her wealthy parents when she was in deep trouble.

Mayerson exercised empathy in reviewing the case, and — knowing she already faced years in prison — recommended the court give her probation.

“The only thing Miss Hearst’s wealth got her was kidnapped,” Mayerson later told The Times.

Mayerson secured much harsher sentences for SLA members Emily and William Harris, who served years in prison for the Los Angeles crimes and the original kidnapping.

As soon as the trials ended, Mayerson retired as a prosecutor and shoved off to Las Vegas to help represent the Hughes estate’s interest in what seemed a far-fetched claim. At issue was the eccentric billionaire’s will.

A magnesium plant worker named Melvin Dummar claimed in court that he had been driving through the Nevada desert in 1967 when he spotted a thin, graying man on the ground, bleeding. Dummar said he helped the man into his Chevy pickup and then dropped him off at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, as his passenger requested.

Worried that the man was broke and probably hungry, Dummar said, he rummaged in his pocket and handed him what change he had.

The man, Dummar said he later learned, was Hughes, who was so grateful for his kindness and charity that he left him more than $150 million in his will.

The handwritten will, which Dummar said was delivered to him by one of Hughes’ agents, was ultimately deemed to be a fake and Dummar walked away empty-handed — though hardly forgotten once the film “Melvin and Howard” was released in 1980.

Mayerson was born Oct. 6, 1922, in Corpus Christi, Texas. His parents had moved from the Bronx and were among the few Jewish families in town. His father was a merchant and later ran a mattress store. Mayerson dreamed of becoming a pilot.

After two years at a community college, Mayerson enlisted after the U.S. entered World War II. Deployed to North Africa, he flew sorties over Tunisia to cover ground troops and later was part of a combat squadron that flew missions over Sardinia and Sicily. He was a flight instructor on the West Coast until the war ended.

After moving to Los Angeles, he graduated from UCLA and earned a law degree from USC, joining the district attorney’s office shortly after passing his bar exam. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1981 and — after a brief retirement — went back to work as a magistrate in California’s Assigned Judges Program, a position he held until he was 92.

Mayerson gave few interviews and tended not to revel in the attention showered on the criminal cases he oversaw.

He was described as “Lincolnesque” by one colleague and simply as “a total gentleman” by another.

Linda Deutsch, a former Associated Press reporter who covered the Hearst trial, recalled that Mayerson was a friend to the media, though he often avoided interviews. “He was very devoted to the law; he did a lot of research on all his cases,” she said.

In addition to his son, Mayerson is survived by a daughter, Julie Mayerson Brown; and four grandchildren, Mickey, Madeline, Samuel and Anna. His wife of more than 60 years, Ruth, died in 2016.


The Washington Post


Five black men raided Harpers Ferry with John Brown. They’ve been forgotten.

Every October, on the anniversary of the raid that helped fuel the Civil War, much attention is focused on Brown, not on his African American soldiers

Five African American men joined John Brown on the 1859 Harpers Ferry raid: John Anthony Copeland Jr., Lewis Sheridan Leary, Dangerfield Newby, Shields Green and Osborne Perry Anderson.

By Eugene L. Meyer

It was chilly and damp on Sunday evening on Oct. 16, 1859, when abolitionist John Brown climbed onto a horse-drawn wagon for the five-mile ride down a dark country road to Harpers Ferry. There he and his small band of men would seize the town and its federal arsenal in a futile attempt to foment a slave rebellion and bring down the South’s “peculiar institution” of slavery.

In front were two men shouldering arms. Behind were 16 more, marching two abreast in silence, “as solemnly as a funeral procession,” and that’s exactly what it was. None would survive, except for the author of those words, Osborne Perry Anderson, who would also write the only insider account of the raid that rocked America.

Anderson was one of five African Americans who went with Brown to Harpers Ferry. Every October, on the anniversary of the raid, much attention is focused on Brown, the radical white abolitionist who would be tried, convicted and hanged less than two months later. Brown would become legendary in a nation still grappling with its original sin of slavery.

For far too long, the five African Americans have been overlooked, overshadowed by their martyred commander, treated as footnotes, if at all, in the John Brown saga. When they are mentioned, it is often in passing, and they are lumped together, as “five black men” also accompanied Brown to Harpers Ferry. But each came for different reasons and by different routes that are worth recalling on the 160th anniversary of the raid, and as the country also marks four centuries since the first enslaved Africans were brought to its shores.

Four were free men of color. The fifth had fled from slavery in Charleston, S.C., and was said to be African royalty. He went by Shields Green, and his nickname was “Emperor.” Two were from Oberlin, Ohio — one, John Anthony Copeland, had attended the college’s preparatory department.

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The Washington Post


The growing debate over spaying and neutering dogs

By Karin Brulliard

Beneath the fluffy backsides of Valerie Robson’s two male golden retrievers is an unusual sight: intact anatomy. Neither dog is neutered.

This presents occasional challenges. Astro and Rumble are barred from most doggy day-cares, and many boarding kennels won’t take them. But although Robson has no intention of breeding the dogs, she says she has no regrets. Research that suggests neutering could be linked to cancers and joint disorders persuaded her that skipping sterilization was best for her pets.

“Sometimes people notice,” said Robson, a county government employee in Conifer, Colo. “I just explain that we chose to do this for health and wellness, and he’s a good boy, and it’s never been an issue.”

“Intact” dogs were the norm for a long time, and a litter of puppies was often part of the deal. But in the 1970s, when overflowing animal shelters were euthanizing millions of homeless dogs annually, spaying and neutering puppies — procedures that involve removing ovaries or testicles — became the dogma in the United States.

It still is: Surveys indicate a large majority of pet dogs are fixed, and 31 states and the District require that pets adopted from shelters or rescues be sterilized. The surgeries simplify pet ownership by preventing females from going into heat and, some believe, by improving dog behavior, though experts say that is not clearly supported by research.

But the common wisdom has been complicated in recent years amid widening evidence connecting spaying and neutering to health problems in dogs. The findings are stronger for certain breeds and large dogs, and age of neutering plays a role. But the research is causing some owners and veterinarians to question the long-held tenet that fixing puppies — or fixing, period — is a necessary part of responsible pet ownership.

“We owe it to our dogs to have a much larger conversation about spay and neuter,” said Missy Simpson, a veterinary epidemiologist with the Morris Animal Foundation, a charity that funds animal health research. “It’s nuanced, and there isn’t a great one-size-fits-all recommendation for every dog.”

Simpson was lead author of a recent paper on about 2,800 golden retrievers enrolled in a lifetime study, which found that those spayed or neutered were more likely to be overweight or obese. The study also found that dogs fixed before they were 6 months old had much higher rates of orthopedic injuries, and that keeping dogs lean didn’t prevent those injuries.

The research has sparked controversy in the veterinary and shelter worlds, in part because widespread spaying and neutering are credited with helping fuel a dramatic decline in euthanasia. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which says about 670,000 dogs are killed in shelters each year, supports “early-age” sterilization.

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Drug Trafficking

Exclusive: Police chase suspected kingpin of vast Asian meth syndicate

By Tom Allard

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The largest ever task force assembled to fight organized crime in Asia has identified a long-time drug trafficker, a China-born Canadian national, as the suspected kingpin of a crime syndicate that police say dominates the $70 billion-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade.

The suspected syndicate leader is Tse Chi Lop, 55, an ex-convict who formerly lived in Toronto and has moved between Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan in recent years, according to counter-narcotics officers from four countries as well as law enforcement documents reviewed by Reuters. Authorities have not publicly identified Tse as the boss of the drug trafficking group.

The syndicate he is suspected of running is known to its members as “The Company.” Law enforcers also refer to it as “Sam Gor,” or Brother Number Three in Cantonese, after one of Tse’s nicknames.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP), which has taken the lead in the sprawling investigation, has compiled a list of top syndicate members that identifies Tse as “the senior leader of the Sam Gor syndicate.” The group, the list says, has “been connected with or directly involved in at least 13 cases” of drug trafficking since January 2015. The list, reviewed by Reuters, does not provide specific details of the cases.

A flow-chart of the syndicate in a Taiwanese law enforcement document identifies Tse as the “Multinational CEO” of the Sam Gor syndicate. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) alert circulated among regional government agencies this year says Tse is “believed to be” the leader of the syndicate.

“Brother Number Three is target number one,” said one AFP officer.

Reuters was unable to contact Tse Chi Lop. In response to questions from Reuters, the AFP, the DEA and Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau said they would not comment on investigations.

According to interviews with regional law enforcers from eight countries, as well as a review of law enforcement documents, the syndicate produces vast quantities of high-grade methamphetamine in Myanmar and trafficks the drug to countries stretching from Japan to New Zealand. The group is “conservatively” raking in $8 billion a year and could be earning as much as $17.7 billion annually, according to an estimate by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Tse Chi Lop is in the league of El Chapo or maybe Pablo Escobar,” said Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia and Pacific representative for UNODC, referring to Latin America’s most legendary narco-traffickers. “The word kingpin often gets thrown around, but there is no doubt it applies here.”

The syndicate is the major factor in the fourfold increase in region-wide meth trafficking in the past five years, the UNODC says. The supply of the highly addictive drug has surged, causing the street price to plummet in many countries. In a report in July, the UN agency said the meth trade had reached “unprecedented and dangerous levels,” and was a “direct challenge to the public security and health of the region.”

<< more >>


The Los Angeles Times


A wide disparity in LAPD searches

In traffic stops, whites are scrutinized far less often but more likely to have contraband, a Times analysis finds.

By Ben Poston and Cindy Chang

Los Angeles police officers search blacks and Latinos far more often than whites during traffic stops, even though whites are more likely to be found with illegal items, a Times analysis has found.

The analysis, the first in a decade to calculate racial breakdowns of searches and other actions by LAPD officers after they pull over vehicles, comes amid growing nationwide scrutiny over racial disparities in policing.

The Times obtained the data used in its analysis under a new California law targeting racial profiling that requires the LAPD and other agencies to record detailed information about every traffic stop.

The Times analysis found that across the city, 24% of black drivers and passengers were searched, compared with 16% of Latinos and 5% of whites, during a recent 10-month period.

That means a black person in a vehicle was more than four times as likely to be searched by police as a white person, and a Latino was three times as likely.

Yet whites were found with drugs, weapons or other contraband in 20% of searches, compared with 17% for blacks and 16% for Latinos. The totals include searches of the vehicles as well as pat-down searches of the occupants.

Racial disparities in search rates do not necessarily indicate bias. They could reflect differences in driving behavior, neighborhood crime rates and other factors.

But the lower contraband hit rates for blacks and Latinos raise serious questions about the law enforcement justification for searching them more often than whites, criminologists said.

Stop-and-search statistics are commonly used by law enforcement agencies to gauge the disparate racial effects of policing. The U.S. Department of Justice sometimes requires agencies with civil rights issues to collect and analyze the data.

But the LAPD’s constitutional policing advisor said this type of analysis does not account for the complexities of a police officer’s decisions in sizing up a situation and deciding how to deal with the people in a vehicle. Officers receive training on their own implicit biases and have a lawful basis for every stop and search they perform, said the advisor, Arif Alikhan, who recently left the LAPD.

Alikhan noted that the analysis includes stops in which officers exercise little discretion and racial bias is less likely to be a factor, such as a search during an arrest.

“We don’t pull people over based on race. We’re not supposed to do that,” Alikhan said. “It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional. And that’s not the basis [on which] we do it.”

<< more >>


The Los Angeles Times

LAPD’s Metro unit to curtail random stops

Shift follows a Times report on anti-crime strategy’s toll on black and Latino drivers.

By Cindy Chang and Ben Poston

In a major shift prompted by a Times investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Metropolitan Division will drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles, a cornerstone of the city’s crime-fighting strategy that has come under fire for its disproportionate impact on black and Latino drivers.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore told The Times that Metro’s vehicle stops have not proven effective, netting about one arrest for every 100 cars stopped, while coming at a tremendous cost to innocent drivers who felt they were being racially profiled.

Metro crime suppression officers, who number about 200, will instead track down suspects wanted for violent crime and use strategies other than vehicle stops to address crime flare-ups ranging from burglaries to shootings.

“Is the antidote or the treatment itself causing more harm to trust than whatever small or incremental reduction you may be seeing in violence?” Moore said Thursday.

“And even though we’re recovering hundreds more guns, and those firearms represent real weapons and dangers to a community, what are we doing to the tens of thousands of people that live in those communities and their perception of law enforcement?” Moore added.

The changes, which take effect in late November, were hailed by community leaders who were critical of the LAPD’s stop strategies. But the union that represents rank-and-file Los Angeles police officers said Moore had left the residents of South L.A. vulnerable to being preyed on by criminals.

The Times investigation, published in January, showed that Metro officers stopped African American drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population.

Nearly half the drivers stopped by Metro were black, in a city that is 9% black, according to the analysis.

Even in South L.A., where most residents are black or Latino, the percentage of black drivers stopped by Metro was twice their share of the population, the analysis found.

Moore said the Times investigation spurred the changes to Metro, both through the statistics themselves and through the attention that community groups subsequently brought to the issue.

<< more >>



COP Stuff

Talk Up or Clam Up?

During the traffic stop

By Dave Anthony

There's a secret handshake for officers that lets them know you're an informed citizen. Any time you ever get pulled over, put your hands at ten and two on the wheel. If it is night time, put your inside lights on. Do not fidget, do not move. Many officers get shot in the face in the line of duty when approaching cars and they do not know if you're a regular citizen or a criminal. They love to be able to see your hands. If you're squirming, it may signal something is wrong, and they are taught to assume the worst for their own safety. Always make sure the officer can see your hands. It's just a courtesy to them, and you can easily put them at ease by doing so.

Never admit to knowing you did something wrong. The less you say the better. This why the very first Miranda right is, “you have the right to remain silent.” Officers are trained to know the smell of alcohol on your breath, and if you watch closely, every time you get pulled over, they will inhale through the nose as you answer. The correct response to “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Is “No idea.”

Do not argue, do not plead or beg. Say as little as possible. If asked if you know how fast you were going, again, “No idea.” Short, clear answers let the officer know that you know your rights and they may not want to go through the hassle of having to write you a ticket. When he asks for your license and registration, before you take your hands off the wheel, look at him and clearly state that you are reaching for your license, wherever it is. Then clearly state you are reaching for your registration from the glove box, if it's in there. You may feel stupid, but the extra clarity will establish more trust. [Or better yet, have your lic./reg./insurance already in your hand or on the dashboard. It saves time, and prevents any assumptions about what you're doing with your hands, or what is in them. It also makes you look cooperative, sober, and intelligent.]

Be courteous and respectful. Cops who are assholes have seen some dark things and have an embittered view of the world because of these experiences. Do not try to be friends, because they will get you to slip up, but be kind and professional. If you follow this protocol you are much less likely to get a ticket since the officer may assume you are related to a cop or a lawyer or someone in the know.

As for arguing the ticket, if the officer does write you up, you can always argue that you were watching the other cars and going with the flow of traffic. “The safest thing to do was to maintain the speed I was traveling.”



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LAPPL Law Enforcement News - Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch:

Law Enforcement News - Wed, 10/16

Shot LEO Tied Tourniquet Around Leg, Went Back To Scene Of Dispute
The police officers who were first at a domestic dispute call in Dauphin County showed “great bravery” in the incident, the county district attorney says, even after one was shot. Lower Swatara Township Police Chief Jeffrey Vargo said police were called to a domestic dispute on Bentley Lane, a trailer park off of Vine Street near the Middletown line, around midnight. A woman inside was being held against her will, Vargo said. “Almost immediately upon entering the residence, the officers were met with gunfire,” Vargo said. “One officer sustained an injury, he was shot in the leg.” That officer, Timothy Shea, put a tourniquet on himself and went back inside the home “in an act of great bravery,” District Attorney Fran Chardo said. Shea and his partner, Joshua Malott, were able to get the woman out of the house safely, Chardo said.

16-Year-Old Girl Fatally Stabbed In Exposition Park; 2 Arrested
A 16-year-old girl was fatally stabbed in Exposition Park Monday afternoon, police said. Los Angeles police said the stabbing happened at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, and officers responded to the scene at about 1:25 p.m. According to LAPD, the teenager was in a verbal argument with two people, described as a male and a female. The argument turned physical at some point and the teen was stabbed, police said. She was transported to a hospital, where she later died. Police said both suspects were arrested. The victim was not immediately identified.

High-Speed Chase On Surface Streets Ends In Violent Crash In Downtown LA

A high-speed police pursuit on surface streets came to a crashing end after the vehicle the suspect was driving was clipped by another vehicle at an intersection in downtown Los Angeles Monday night. Los Angeles police were in pursuit when a vehicle clipped the suspect's vehicle at the intersection of W. Olympic Boulevard Grand Avenue shortly before 11:20 p.m. After the initial crash, the suspect's car slammed into another nearby vehicle and spun out. Multiple LAPD vehicles gathered in front of the suspect, who surrendered. Two suspects in the vehicle were arrested. The suspect was going at high speeds on surface streets before the crash. It was not immediately known what the suspects were wanted for.

LAPD Changing Controversial Program That Uses Data To Predict Where Crimes Will Occur
Los Angeles Police Department leaders announced changes Tuesday to a controversial program that predicts where property crimes could occur throughout the city. The changes come seven months after an inspector general couldn't determine whether the department's predictive-policing program, called PredPol, helped reduce crime. Critics contend the program leads to heavier policing of minority neighborhoods. Chief Michel Moore told a meeting of the L.A. Police Commission that the LAPD needs location-based strategies to target crime and keep residents safe. Moore said the department will adjust programs when needed and that he disagrees with critics who believe the program unfairly targets Latino and black neighborhoods. “The manner of how we use data is informed by the evolution of technology,” Moore said. “We're going to smartly use our precious resources.” 
Los Angeles Times

Naked Man Accused Of Carjacking Arrested After Leading Police On Short Chase In South LA, Police Say

Police said they arrested a man who was only wearing shoes after he allegedly carjacked a person in South Los Angeles early Tuesday morning. Los Angeles police responded to a robbery call at about 1:45 a.m. to the 400 block of Broadway after a person said their keys and car were stolen by a naked suspect. Officers said the suspect took off in that stolen vehicle when they arrived to the scene, prompting a brief chase. The suspect later crashed down the street and was taken into custody. Police believe he was under the influence of drugs.

Missing Sylmar Woman, Children Found Safe At Mexico Border, Suspect Still At Large
A 29-year-old Sylmar woman and her three children who had not been seen in nearly a week and were feared to have been the victims of a kidnapping were found safe on Tuesday when they crossed into the United States from Mexico. Liliana Lopez, and her children, Jakob Cabrera, 9; Steven Matthew Lopez, 6; and Linda Lopez, 5, crossed into the United States about 1:45 p.m. at the San Ysidro Point of Entry, and they met with Robbery-Homicide Division detectives investigating the case, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Esteban Lopez, 28, the father of at least two of the children, was still being sought by police and is believed to be in Mexico, according to the LAPD. The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation after a 29-year-old woman and her three children, ages 9, 6, and 5 were reported missing from their Sylmar home. 
FOX 11

Closing Arguments To Begin In Penalty Phase Of The 'Hollywood Ripper' Trial

Closing arguments are scheduled for Wedensday in the final phase of the trial for the man dubbed the "Hollywood Ripper," who is accused in the grisly stabbing deaths of two Southern California women. Jurors are being asked to recommend whether Michael Gargiulo should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury in Gargiulo's trial heard testimony last week from family members of the two women, along with a woman who survived being stabbed eight times. The panel also heard from Gargiulo's 16- year-old son, who said he didn't want his father to be executed. Closing arguments, originally set for Tuesday, were postponed until Wednesday.

Former CEO Of Sherman Oaks Firm Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For $1.3 Billion Fraud Scheme
A Sherman Oaks man has been sentenced by a Florida judge to 25 years in prison for orchestrating a $1.3 billion fraud scheme that stole money from at least 7,000 investors nationwide. Court records show 61-year-old Robert Shapiro was sentenced Tuesday in Miami federal court after previously pleading guilty to mail and wire fraud and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors say Shapiro's Woodbridge Group, which was based in Sherman Oaks, had offices in California, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado and Connecticut. Investors were told Woodbridge, where Shapiro was CEO, held real estate loans paying them high levels of interest. In fact, the real estate was also owned by Shapiro and sometimes didn't exist. It was a Ponzi scheme paying older investors with money from newer ones. Woodbridge employed roughly 130 people, according to federal prosecutors. It ran the Ponzi scheme at least from July 2012 to Dec 2017, when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and defaulted defaulted on obligations to investors.
Los Angeles Daily News

Gun Investigators Cautiously Optimistic About New Fingerprint Technology

A decade ago, chemistry professor Paul Kelly was conducting experiments at England's Loughborough University when he noticed his glass beakers were emerging from a vapor-filled chamber with clearly defined fingerprints on them. The quality of the fingerprints was remarkable, and Kelly and his colleagues decided to see if their discovery could have any practical applications. They teamed up with the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, and began exposing fingerprints on various materials to a chemical vapor, and adjusting the process to improve their results. Kelly's team then licensed the technique to a private company called Foster + Freeman, which built a machine called RECOVER to run the tests. Foster + Freeman started selling it to law enforcement agencies in the United States this year and has delivered machines to about 10 of the country's 400 public labs so far, two sources said. Lab technicians can use the machine to pull fingerprints from shell casings and other metal surfaces, like knives and explosives. It's not as useful on guns themselves because they are often textured or treated to prevent corrosion, which can make it more difficult to retrieve usable prints, one expert said. 
The Trace

Public Safety News

Fire Breaks Out At Church Near MacArthur Park
Los Angeles firefighters worked to extinguish a blaze that broke out at a one-story vacant church in the 700 block of S. Park View Street near MacArthur Park Tuesday evening. Crews were dispatched to the scene shortly after 5 p.m. Aerial footage from SkyFOX showed moderate smoking coming out of a hole in the rooftop that was created by firefighters for ventilation. It took fire crews approximately 18 minutes to put out the fire, according to Nicholas Prange of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Prange said firefighters began an aggressive interior fire attack, "without relief from vertical ventilation in this case (concrete roof)." No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
FOX 11

Temperatures To Fall Thursday In Southern California, But High Winds Renew Wildfire Risks
Temperatures should come down from higher-than-average levels in most of Southern California over the next few days — but windier conditions beginning Thursday, Oct. 17, will keep the risk of fire high through the start of next week. Highs in inland valleys saw double-digit increases from Monday to Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologists said. Readings were in the upper 80s and low 90s Tuesday, with similar figures expected for Wednesday in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as well as inland portions of Los Angeles County like the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, according to the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, temperatures will be slightly colder in coastal areas like Long Beach, Malibu and much of Orange County. Then, on Thursday, a transition from an offshore to an onshore wind pattern will bring cooler weather to most regions, and a return of windy conditions in inland areas.
Los Angeles Daily News

Local Government News

City Approves $350 Million For Homeless Housing Via Measure HHH
The final round of loans for permanent supportive housing projects funded through the Proposition HHH housing bond measure was approved by the Los Angeles City Council Tuesday. The ballot measure approved by voters in 2016 provides for up to $1.2 billion in housing bonds for eligible projects aimed at combating homelessness. The council on Tuesday approved about $231 million for 34 permanent supportive housing projects, and another $120 million was slated for projects chosen through the city's Housing Challenge Request for Proposals, with those projects expected to create about 1,000 units. In total, the City Council has approved funding for about 8,600 of the city's goal of 10,000 permanent supportive housing units by 2026.

Los Angeles City Council Moves Forward With Eviction, Rent Increase Moratoriums
The Los Angeles City Council took a stopgap step Tuesday to stop no-fault evictions and rent increases, following fears that landlords are hiking rent and removing tenants before new state rental rules take effect in January. In a 13 to 0 vote, the council instructed the city attorney to draft an emergency ordinance that would stop landlords from evicting tenants without sufficient cause, such as failure to pay rent. The council also voted unanimously to draft an ordinance that would limit rent increases for the rest of the year and block evictions for failure to pay rent if recent increases were above the coming state cap. The ordinances must still come before the council for a final vote and, given state restrictions, the city would surely face legal pushback if it tried to cap rents on currently uncontrolled units.
Los Angeles Times


Law Enforcement News - Tue, 10/15

Maryland Officer Dies After Being Shot In Parking Garage
A Maryland police officer died Monday after he was found with a gunshot wound in a parking garage that was part of his regular patrol, authorities said. Acting Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones told news reporters that the death of 38-year-old officer Thomas J. Bomba is being treated as a homicide. He added that there was no immediate threat to public safety. Bomba had reported Monday morning that he encountered "disorderly subjects" at a parking garage. Jones said that when fellow officers arrived, they found Bomba suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. Jones said that while the case is being investigated as a homicide, officials have not ruled out other possibilities. He added that there was no immediate threat to public safety.
Associated Press

Indiana Trooper Dies In Crash While Headed To Help Colleague

An Indiana state trooper has been killed in a car crash while he was headed to help another trooper. Indiana State Police said in a news release that 27-year-old Peter R. Stephan of Lafayette died late Friday after his car struck a utility pole in Tippecanoe County. Police said the crash happened after his car went off the road and rolled on Old State Road 25 while heading toward Americus. Police said they don't know why his car left the road. Police said Stephan was responding to another trooper's request for help. Stephan had worked for Indiana State Police for four years. He's survived by his wife and a 6-month-old daughter. Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statement saying he and his wife were "heartbroken" to learn of Stephan's death.
Associated Press

Man In His Mid-30s Killed In Noon-Hour Shooting In Van Nuys
A man in his mid-30s was fatally wounded Monday in a shooting in Van Nuys. Officers responded about 12:25 p.m. to a report of a shooting in the 14600 block of Burbank Boulevard and found the victim down with gunshot wounds, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Tony Im. Firefighters pronounced the man dead at the scene, Im said. He was not immediately identified. It's unclear if the shooting was gang-related, according to Im, who said no suspect information was immediately available.
FOX 11

LAPD Investigating Possible Kidnapping, Asks For Public's Help
Los Angeles police were asking for the public's help in a possible kidnapping investigation of three children from Sylmar. According to police, officers responded to a call in the 13600 block of Fellows Avenue last Wednesday where they found that a possible kidnapping had occurred. Police said nobody has seen the family for five days and that the parents — 28-year-old Esteban Lopez and 29-year-old Liliana Lopez — were persons of interest in the case. Investigators said the two may have taken three children — 9-year-old Jakob Cabrera, 6-year-old Steven Matthew Lopez and 5-year-old Stephana Lopez. Esteban was described as a 5-foot-8 Hispanic male weighing approximately 180 pounds. He has a “Lopez” tattoo on his chest. Liliana was described as a 5-foot-2 Hispanic female weighing approximately 135 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

Assault Suspects Not Located In Broadway-Manchester Area Smoke Shop After 7-Hour Standoff

A seven-hour long standoff at a Broadway-Manchester neighborhood smoke shop came to an end Monday morning with authorities still searching for five to seven allegedly armed assault suspects. The incident began about 11 p.m. Sunday when two people attempting to repossess a vehicle were assaulted and threatened by a large group of who then apparently barricaded themselves inside the AG7 Smoke Shop in the 9700 block of South Main Street. “We know of at least two suspects that our victims have identified, however our victims did say that there were multiple individuals invovled in this crime,” Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Emada Tingrides said. The victims estimated between five and seven people were involved in the assault. A SWAT team was called to the scene to try and coax the individuals out of the smoke shop, but after about seven hours officials no longer believed the suspects were inside. "At this time we have no idea where they fled to or at which time they did flee," Tingrides said.

Suspect In Fatal Stabbing At North Hollywood Hostel Charged With Murder
Authorities have arrested a homicide suspect in Studio City who allegedly stabbed and killed a man he got into an argument with earlier this month at a hostel in North Hollywood, police said Monday. William Rivera, 45, was taken into custody Oct. 4 by members of the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI on suspicion of killing 31-year-old Noel Cabrera, LAPD officials said in a news release. He was found living out his black 2019 Nissan Sentra that authorities think he drove from the scene of a violent encounter two days prior. Investigators believe the suspect and victim had rented separate beds at a hostel on the 6700 block of Tujunga Avenue, and became involved in an argument with each other on Oct. 2, police said. The situation escalated. Rivera allegedly produced a knife and then stabbed Cabrera once in the left leg. Police were notified of the assault and responded at about 7 p.m. that evening. Paramedics transported Cabrera to a hospital, where he ultimately bled to death.
Los Angeles Daily News

L.A. Man Arrested, Accused Of Targeting ‘Elderly Woman' In Fillmore With Lottery Scam

A Los Angeles man was arrested on suspicion of trying to scam a woman in Fillmore after she told deputies two other people asked her for money to cash a supposedly winning lottery ticket, authorities said Monday. The victim, who authorities described as an elderly woman, came in to the Bank of the Sierra in Fillmore on Oct. 10 around 2:40 p.m. to withdraw “a large sum of money from her account,” according to a news release from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Authorities did not say how much cash was being withdrawn but Nelson Davila Cruz appeared to have “an unusual interest” in the woman and her transaction, sheriff's officials wrote in the release. Bank employees contacted authorities and Cruz was found “scurrying out of the bank” when deputies arrived, sheriff's officials wrote. The woman then told enforcement another man and a woman had asked her for help cashing a winning lottery ticket.

Suspect Surrenders In Sylmar After Leading CHP On Erratic High-Speed Chase On Southbound 5 Fwy
A suspect was taken into custody after leading the California Highway Patrol on a high-speed, and at times, erratic chase in a white Mercedes-Benz on the southbound 5 Freeway in Santa Clarita Monday morning. The driver, who was wanted for speeding, was cutting through traffic at up to 130 miles per hour. As the driver approached the Sylmar area, he exited the freeway and drove through a residential neighborhood where he stopped and parked. The suspect was seen exiting the Mercedes and lying face down on the ground with his hands behind his back, seemingly complying, before authorities arrived. Once authorities caught up with the suspect, the suspect was taken into custody.

1 In 4 Female Undergrads Said They Were Sexually Assaulted On Campus. At USC, It's Nearly 1 In 3
One in four female undergraduates at leading campuses across the country say they have been sexually assaulted by force or because they were passed out, asleep or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs and unable to consent, according to a national survey released Tuesday. USC reported higher numbers, with 31% of female undergraduates saying they were sexually assaulted sometime during their college years. In California, Caltech and Stanford also participated in the survey of 181,752 students conducted for the Assn. of American Universities, an organization of the nation's 62 leading public and private research universities. Caltech and Stanford were set to release their statistics on Tuesday. The University of California conducts its own sexual misconduct survey and did not join the AAU effort. The survey by AAU and Westat, a leading social science research firm, represents the nation's largest ever effort to examine college sexual assault and expands on its initial groundbreaking study in 2015. The survey, conducted last spring at 33 public and private campuses, received a 21.9% response rate.
Los Angeles Times

Public Safety News

Saddleridge Fire 44% Contained After Damaging Or Destroying 75 Structures
Fire crews worked overnight to increase containment of the Saddleridge Fire, which has destroyed dozens of homes in the San Fernando Valley. The fire, which began just after 9 p.m. on Oct. 10, was 44% contained as of Monday evening, the Los Angeles Fire Department stated in an update. The blaze had scorched 8,391 acres, or just over 13 square miles of land, as of the 8 p.m. update. At least 75 structures were damaged or destroyed by the fire, which caused some of its heaviest damage in the Porter Ranch and Granada Hills areas. 

Saddleridge Fire Started Beneath SoCal Edison High-Voltage Transmission Tower: LAFD Investigators

Authorities on Monday confirmed that the Saddleridge Fire started beneath a high-voltage transmission tower in the Sylmar area before spreading to consume thousands of acres. Though it's unclear what sparked the blaze, investigators narrowed down its origin to a small patch under the Southern California Edison-owned power lines, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Fanned by strong Santa Ana winds, the blaze scorched 8,391 acres, or just over 13 square miles of land, damaged or destroyed 75 structures, blanketed neighborhoods with thick smoke and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. One Porter Ranch man died of a heart attack while trying to douse approaching flames with a garden hose, and three firefighters were injured in the fire, including one who suffered a minor eye injury, authorities said. LAFD Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said Friday that investigators were following up on reports that a man witnessed the fire start at the base of a power line in Sylmar.

Risk Of Busy Wildfire Season Facing Southern California

Last winter's heavy rains allowed Southern California's hills and fields to flourish with fresh growth, but the dried-up post-summer brush has created plenty of wildfire tinder. That means increased potential for more blazes like the Saddleridge fire of recent days. “The grasses die off, add to available fuel and you can have devastating wildfires because of it,” said Capt. Larry Kurtz of the Orange County Fire Authority. While the 2011-2015 drought saw wildfires turning into nearly year-round occurrences, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Tony Imbrenda said the wet winter has pushed fire risk back to more of a seasonal cycle. But he agreed it sets the stage for more dramatic blazes. “After heavy rains, there's a lot of moisture stored in the brush,” he said. “It gives the brush resistance to fire. But as it dries out, it makes the fire risk greater because there's more of it. “So once the fire season starts, it can be more intense.”
Los Angeles Daily News

Local Government News

L.A. Hosts Fear Crackdown On Renting Out Second Homes For Short Stays
P.J. Lennon had a plan for his retirement: To pay his bills, he would rent out the one-bedroom house that sits alongside his home in the Hollywood Hills. He fixed it up with Buddha sculptures and artwork and began advertising it online through Airbnb and VRBO. Travelers paid up to $199 a night to sleep in the hideaway with banana trees and a show-stopping view. He was banking on that money to pay the bills, he said, after a career as an actor, model and photographer. When he dies, Lennon said, “I just want to be carried out of my own home in a pine box.” But he fears he may not be able to remain there under an ordinance that says Angelenos can rent out only their “primary residence” for short stays, not a second home or investment property. Lennon said those rules would eliminate his only source of income, likely forcing him to sell his house and move.
Los Angeles Times


Law Enforcement News - Mon, 10/14

Texas Deputy Killed, Police Chief Injured When Struck By Car
A sheriff's deputy was killed and a small-town police chief was injured when a car struck them as they aided a motorist on a Central Texas roadside. The incident happened about 2 p.m. Friday on Texas 6 near Riesel, about 20 miles southeast of Waco. The Texas Department of Public Safety reports Falls County sheriff's Deputy Matt Jones and Riesel Police Chief Danny Krumnow were helping a motorist when another car hydroplaned on the rain-slick highway and slid into them. DPS Sgt. Ryan Howard says Jones was dead at the scene of the crash, while Krumnow was airlifted to a Waco hospital in critical condition. The driver of the car involved also was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Jones was a deputy for four years.
Associated Press

5 Men Sentenced In Gang Murder Of NYPD Explorer
Five gang members convicted in the gruesome execution of a 15-year-old Bronx kid wrongly targeted as a rival gangbanger were slammed Friday with lengthy prison terms for the murder. Three of the murderous quintet were sentenced to 25 years to life, one was imprisoned for life without parole and the youngest killer was sentenced to 23 years to life at the Bronx Supreme Court hearing. Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, caught on a security video plunging a bread knife through the neck of outnumbered victim Lesando “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, was sentenced to life without parole in the June 20, 2018 killing by members of the Trinitarios gang. Co-defendant Jose Muniz was sentenced to 25 years to life for attacking the NYPD Explorer with a machete. Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago and Elvin Garcia received the same prison term. Manuel Rivera, 18, was sentenced to his lesser prison stay because of his age.
New York Post

LAPD Will Drastically Cut Back On Pulling Over Random Vehicles Over Racial Bias Concerns
In a major shift prompted by a Times investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department's elite Metropolitan Division will drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles, a cornerstone of the city's crime-fighting strategy that has come under fire for its disproportionate impact on black and Latino drivers. LAPD Chief Michel Moore told The Times that Metro's vehicle stops have not proven effective, netting about one arrest for every 100 cars stopped, while coming at a tremendous cost to innocent drivers who felt they were being racially profiled. In a written statement, the Los Angeles Police Protective League said the LAPD has “cut and run away from the residents of South Los Angeles” based on “incomplete data, presented with minimal context, coupled with sensationalized cherry-picked racial information intended to inflame and divide.” “The Chief's decision to buckle to the demands of anti-police groups like the ACLU, who have zero interest in ensuring criminals are arrested, is deeply disappointing,” the union's board of directors said in the statement. “We do not support this reckless gamble that will lead to the further victimization of people of color by criminals and gang members.”
Los Angeles Times

Man Shot And Killed Inside Car Near Downtown L.A. Hotel; Police Searching For 2 Suspects
A man in his 20s was shot and killed in a car outside a downtown Los Angeles hotel near Staples Center Saturday night, the Los Angeles Police Department said. Officers responded to the area of Francisco Street and James M Wood Boulevard at about 9:45 p.m. and found the victim suffering from at least one gunshot wound, authorities said. Investigators believe that two people approached the man while he was sitting in his car and shots were fired, police said. The two then fled the scene, possibly in a black Dodge Charger. Authorities did not provide a description of the shooter or shooters. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. LAPD said the incident remains under investigation and it's unknown whether the shooting was a robbery or if it was gang-related.

Multiple Assault Suspects Barricaded In Broadway-Manchester Area Smoke Shop
A SWAT team was negotiating with several assault suspects Monday morning who barricaded themselves inside a smoke shop in the Broadway-Manchester neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The incident began about 11 p.m. Sunday when two people in the area to repossess a vehicle were assaulted and threatened by a large group of who then barricaded themselves inside the AG7 Smoke Shop in the 9700 block of South Main Street. Officials were not sure exactly how many suspects were inside the smoke shop, but the victims estimated between five and seven, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Emada Tingrides said. A SWAT team has tried to coax the individuals out of the smoke shop as the hourslong standoff continued into Monday morning. The department has brought in a psychologist who has attempted to reach the suspects by cellphone.

LAPD Escorts Saddleridge Fire Evacuees Home To Collect Possessions But Some Defy Orders And Stay

Some residents had the opportunity to be escorted back to their homes by the Los Angeles Police Department to retrieve personal items or pets that may have been left behind. While some took the allotted five minutes to gather as much as they could and leave again, others defied officers and stayed home despite the looming threat of the massive Saddleridge Fire. LAPD officers were taking families to their homes one by one, including Alex Henson and his wife. Henson said he didn't think his Porter Ranch home would stay intact amid the roaring flames and embers. "I wasn't expecting to go back. This is the second time that it's happened to us," he said, his voice thick with overwhelming emotion. The Hensons locked up their home after grabbing the essentials, but not everybody heeded the warnings from authorities. Some residents abused the escort opportunity to go home and stay there despite the mandatory evacuation orders. Chief Michael Moore said those residents were staying at their own risk.

Van Nuys Man Agrees To Plead Guilty In Fentanyl Death Case
A Van Nuys man agreed Friday to plead guilty and serve 15 years in federal prison for selling the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl to a 23-year-old man, who then suffered a fatal overdose and crashed his car in a restaurant parking lot on Ventura Boulevard. James Dorion Rodriguez, 28, will enter a guilty plea later this month to a single count of possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute, according to his plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court. Rodriguez was arrested a year ago at a motel in Mission Hills in connection with the first indictment brought under a then-new state-federal task force created to investigate fatal opioid overdoses. Rodriguez had intended to sell cocaine to Romelo Rice, but accidentally gave him fentanyl instead, according to an affidavit filed in the case. The fatal overdose was the result of the North Hollywood man snorting, not injecting, the white powder.

Drawings Could Help ID Victims Of California Inmate Who Is America's Most Prolific Serial Killer
Most of the women in Samuel Little's hand-drawn portraits seem to be frowning. Their hair is short and curly or long and straight. They stare straight ahead or slightly off to the side. Some wear lipstick and jewelry. Little, whom the FBI identified this month as the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, produced startlingly detailed likenesses of dozens of women he says he strangled over the course of more than three decades. Now the FBI is publicizing his portraits — hoping that someone, somewhere, will recognize the face of a long-lost loved one in an image drawn by the killer himself. “I'm not sure I have a better solution in terms of how to get the information out there and how to notify families,” said Claire Ponder Selib, interim executive director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

California Adopts Broadest US Rules For Seizing Guns
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a law that will make the state the first to allow employers, co-workers and teachers to seek gun violence restraining orders against other people. The bill was vetoed twice by former governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and goes beyond a measure that he signed allowing only law enforcement officers and immediate family members to ask judges to temporarily take away peoples' guns when they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Newsom is also a Democrat and signed a companion bill allowing the gun violence restraining orders to last one and five years, although the gun owners could petition to end those restrictions earlier. The new laws are were among 15 gun-related laws that Newsom approved as the state strengthens what the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calls the nation's toughest restrictions.
Associated Press

New Calif. Law Gives Child Sex Assault Victims More Time To Sue
California is giving childhood victims of sexual abuse more time to decide whether to file lawsuits, joining several states in expanding the statute of limitations for victims over warnings from school districts that the new rules could bankrupt them. The law signed Sunday by Gov. Gavin Newsom gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until age 40, or five years from discovery of the abuse, to file civil lawsuits. The previous limit had been 26, or within three years from discovery of the abuse. It also suspends the statute of limitations for three years -- beginning Jan. 1 -- giving victims of all ages time to bring lawsuits if they wish. California is at least the third state this year to take this step. Earlier this year, New York and New Jersey raised their statutes of limitations to age 55.

Public Safety News

3 Deaths Connected To Fires That Swept Through Southern California
The fires that have hit Southern California have been linked to three deaths as officials on Sunday continue to gain ground. In the Saddleridge fire that swept across the San Fernando Valley foothills, a man in his late 50s died after suffering a heart attack while talking with firefighters early Friday. In the Sandalwood fire that burned dozens of mobile homes in Calimesa, two people died. Family members of Lois Arvickson confirmed the 89-year-old died in the fire. Don Turner, Arvickson's son, and his wife, Kimberly, spent Thursday night at an evacuation center, desperate to hear news of his mother, who lived alone at the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park. She was on the phone with her son when the blaze, dubbed the Sandalwood fire, reached the park.
Los Angeles Times

All Evacuation Orders Lifted In Saddleridge Fire; Containment At 42%
The Los Angeles Fire Department has lifted all of the evacuation orders for the Saddleridge Fire on Saturday. Community members are being allowed back into their homes. Law enforcement officers will stay in the fire areas for security and to offer up any questions residents or business owners may have. The brush fire that has burned 7,965 acres, damaged or destroyed 40 structures and forced about 100,000 people from their homes in parts of the San Fernando Valley was 42-percent contained as of Sunday evening. One fatality was confirmed Friday morning related to this fire that has torn a path of destruction across the northern San Fernando Valley. Additionally, all Los Angeles Unified School District schools previously closed by the fire will resume regular class schedules Monday morning, said LAUSD spokeswoman Barbara Jones.  
FOX 11

Local Government News

L.A. To Consider Emergency Measures To Prevent Evictions In Wake Of New State Law
Los Angeles City Council members are pushing for emergency provisions against evictions and large rent increases amid concerns landlords are aiming to remove their tenants before a new state law takes effect in January. Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who represents neighborhoods from Echo Park to Atwater Village, said the city must act to prevent a spate of evictions that could force out tenants prior to a statewide cap on annual rent increases going into effect. “We just want to make sure that there's not price gouging by predatory landlords,” O'Farrell said. “We know that that could very well happen.” On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1482, which limits annual rent increases across the state to 5% plus inflation for the next decade. The legislation also prevents tenants from being evicted without documented lease violations once they've lived in an apartment for a year. The law exempts apartments built within the last 15 years and single-family home rentals unless they're owned by corporate investors.
Los Angeles Times

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