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Each week we produce a page of news that can be used for reference to the weekly shows here at murrayTALK. Please notice that the following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the concerned PURPLE community. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We simply present this page each week as a convenience to our followers.
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October 2019 - Week 4


PURPLE JOURNALISM - or isn't that an oxymoron?

Marc Benioff: We Need Journalism to Elevate Humanity


Marc and Lynne Benioff are the owners of Time. Mr. Benioff is also the chairman and co-C.E.O. of Salesforce and the author, with Monica Langley, of “Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change.”

It’s a paradox of this moment in human history — we have a vast universe of information at our fingertips, yet we still struggle to understand the forces that shape our world.

The very technologies and social media platforms that were supposed to bring us together have been used to sow division and undermine our democracy. Power comes from “we the people,” yet public trust in institutions continues to decline. The free press that ensures transparency and accountability is under attack, here in the United States and around the world. We’re surrounded by unprecedented prosperity, but also shocking inequality, leading to calls for a new, more equitable and sustainable form of capitalism. Artificial intelligence can make us smarter, wealthier and healthier, yet algorithms increasingly decide the articles we read.

In moments of transformation like this, how do we ensure that we’re elevating humanity and not undermining it?

More than ever, the truth matters. Facts matter. Values matter. Whatever organization, business or institution that we’re a part of, we need to realize that we are not separate from the larger social issues that surround us. We have a responsibility not simply to make a profit, but to make the world a better place. We have an obligation to serve all our stakeholders, including employees, communities and our planet. When we do, each of us can be a platform for change and a force for good.

This includes a free and vibrant press, which helps us understand our world and the stories of our fellow human beings. We are inspired — and moved to action — by families grappling with the injustice of economic inequality, by entrepreneurs striving to use technology ethically and humanely, and by young activists demanding that we address the climate crisis that imperils our planet.

That’s why my wife Lynne and I decided to become the owners of TIME one year ago. For nearly a century, TIME has been trusted by millions of people around the world to tell the stories that matter most and to help us see each other. We see this commitment to telling the stories that matter and that shape our lives in TIME’s coverage, led by Editor-in-Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal and a global team. Every week, that red-bordered cover is a call to action to shake off our complacency and face squarely the most pressing issues confronting our world.

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The Los Angeles Times


Trump isolated on Syria pullout

Members of GOP join a House resolution condemning his Mideast decision.

By Noah Bierman and Sarah D. Wire

WASHINGTON — President Trump found himself increasingly isolated on Wednesday as members of his own party joined a House resolution condemning his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, congressional Democrats stormed out of a White House strategy session and top administration officials departed on an uncertain diplomatic mission to Turkey.

The rising tensions in the White House underscored the difficulty Trump is facing in navigating twin crises that are inflaming all elements of government — an impeachment probe at home and Turkey’s invasion into Kurdish strongholds of Syria, a move triggered by Trump’s abrupt troop withdrawal.

During a White House meeting with congressional leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) described Trump as having a “meltdown,” shaken by the House vote, and attacking her as “a third-grade politician” with communist sympathies.

“This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe. A nasty diatribe,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican, blamed Pelosi, who “tries to make everything political.” He insisted the meeting was productive after she left.

Trump later tweeted a photograph of the meeting showing Pelosi standing and talking to him, which he described as showing her in a “meltdown.” Pelosi quickly adopted the photo for the top of her Twitter account.

The meeting was Trump’s first face-to-face engagement with top Democrats since Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry last month, though the speaker said impeachment was not discussed at the meeting.

Regardless of who was to blame, the aborted meeting suggested that even an international crisis is not enough to prompt cooperation between Trump and a Democratic-led House that is seeking to impeach him. As Pelosi left, Trump said, “Goodbye. We’ll see you at the polls,” a senior Democratic aide said.

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The New York Times


The World Condemns Erdogan’s War on Kurds. But Turkey Applauds.

Attacked abroad, and facing a raft of sanctions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may nevertheless be getting what he wants from Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish-held Syria.

By Patrick Kingsley

ISTANBUL — A raft of new American sanctions. An embargo on European arms sales. The indictment of a state-owned Turkish bank. Threats to isolate Turkey within NATO. A rise in global sympathy for the Kurdish cause. And the Syrian Army back in northern Syria.

The problems keep escalating for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, whose invasion of Kurdish-held northern Syria last week unraveled already tense relations with American and European partners and radically reshuffled the battle lines and alliances of Syria’s eight-year-old Syrian war.

But as challenging as Mr. Erdogan’s predicament appears from the outside, analysts say, it is only likely to buttress his standing at home, as the fighting fans an already heightened state of nationalist feeling.

It also masks the near-fulfillment of one of the president’s most important foreign policy goals: Breaking the stranglehold of a hostile Kurdish militia on a vast stretch of the border, and the fracturing of the United States’ alliance with a group that Mr. Erdogan considers an existential threat to the Turkish state.

All of that has made it harder for the opposition to unite against Mr. Erdogan, or even to criticize him, and it has bolstered the president’s narrative that he and Turkey are the victims of an international conspiracy.

“Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Arabs — all united against Turkey,” the front-page of Sozcu, a newspaper usually fiercely opposed to Mr. Erdogan, said on Wednesday. “Bring it on.”

(see the MAP of the region)

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Notes from murrayTALK:

ISIS stands to gain from U.S. withdrawal

President Trump's decision to pull American troops from northeastern Syria has greatly improved the prospects of the Islamic State, analysts say.

The militant group still has as many as 18,000 “members” in Iraq and Syria, according to Pentagon estimates, and although it's unlikely to regain vast territory, ISIS remains a threat, particularly as an underground insurgency.

News analysis: The withdrawal from Syria reflects Mr. Trump's conviction that bringing troops home — or at least moving them from hot spots — is more important than negotiating concessions, our chief White House correspondent writes.

The details: The president has promised to end what he calls “endless wars.” Here's where the roughly 200,000 U.S. troops remain overseas.


Canada Elections

Buckle up -- Canada's election will be a cliffhanger

By Paula Newton, CNN

Canadians are going to the polls today [Monday] to vote in their general election, and all signs point to it being quite the fight. The two top contenders are current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is Liberal, and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. Through it all, they've been virtually deadlocked in a tie for the popular vote.

That's complicated enough, but remember that Canada operates on a parliamentary system. There are 338 seats across the country up for vote, and 170 seats are needed to form a majority government.

Polls show neither Trudeau nor Scheer are anywhere near that threshold, so the winner of the populat vote still may not have the support needed to actually fulfill that requirement. Both of the main candidates have had major challenges leading up to the election. Trudeau has been beset by flubs and scandals in recent months.

In September, he admitted to wearing blackface during a school event two decades ago. Scheer, meanwhile, surprised voters during the campaign when he disclosed the fact he is actually an American citizen, with dual citizenship in Canada and the US. It doesn't disqualify him, it's just an interesting thing to be noting years into one's career as a Canadian politician.

Notes from murrayTALK:

Justin Trudeau wins a second term

Canada's prime minister overcame doubts as his Liberal Party kept enough seats in Monday's election to allow him to form a government, although it will lose its majority.

Canada has prospered since Mr. Trudeau, 47, came to power in 2015, with unemployment at its lowest level in decades. But his re-election campaign was damaged by his efforts to influence a corporate corruption case and by questions about his authenticity.

What's next: Mr. Trudeau is not expected to form a formal coalition, instead relying on the support of smaller parties on a vote-by-vote basis.


The New York Times

Speaking of Impeachment ..

What's a quid pro quo?

Last week, President Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said that military aid had been withheld from Ukraine to get the country to investigate political rivals — essentially confirming a major premise of the impeachment investigation.

“To be clear,” a reporter in the room said, “what you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mr. Mulvaney replied, “We do that all the time with foreign policy.”

“Quid pro quo” — Latin for “something for something”is a legal phrase describing an arrangement where you give someone something they want, but only if that person gives you what you want.

It's most commonly seen in federal bribery trials, where politicians use the power of their office to help someone in exchange for some sort of personal enrichment. It can also appear in sexual harassment lawsuits.

Since the start of the impeachment investigation, Mr. Trump has turned “no quid pro quo” into a rallying cry. Mr. Mulvaney's admission that one might have taken place could have enormous consequences.


The Los Angeles Times


Mexico’s one-way ride south

The nation has been busing migrants with U.S. court dates to the Guatemalan border.

By Patrick J. McDonnell

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — The exhausted passengers emerge from a sleek convoy of silver and red-streaked buses, looking confused and disoriented as they are deposited ignominiously in this tropical backwater in southernmost Mexico.

There is no greeter here to provide guidance on their pending immigration cases in the United States or on where to seek shelter in a teeming international frontier town packed with marooned, U.S.-bound migrants from across the globe.

The bus riders had made a long and perilous overland trek north to the Rio Grande only to be dispatched back south to Mexico’s border with Central America — close to where many of them had begun their perilous journeys weeks and months earlier. At this point, some said, both their resources and sense of hope had been drained.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do next,” said Maria de Los Angeles Flores Reyes, 39, a Honduran accompanied by her daughter, Cataren, 9, who appeared petrified after disembarking from one of the long-distance buses. “There’s no information, nothing.”

The two are among more than 50,000 migrants, mostly Central Americans, whom U.S. immigration authorities have sent back to Mexico this year to await court hearings in the United States under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program.

Immigration advocates have assailed the program as punitive, while the White House says it has worked effectively — discouraging many migrants from following up on asylum cases and helping to curb what President Trump has decried as a “catch and release” system in which apprehended migrants have been freed in U.S. territory pending court proceeding that can drag on for months or years.

The ever-expanding ranks pose a growing dilemma for Mexican authorities, who, under intense pressure from the White House, had agreed to accept the returnees and provide them with humanitarian assistance.

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The Wall Street Journal


U.K., EU Agree on Draft Brexit Deal, Paving Way for Key Vote

Approval from EU leaders at a summit would set up a critical vote in the U.K. Parliament

By Laurence Norman and Max Colchester

BRUSSELS—European Union and U.K. negotiators overcame a major hurdle to Britain’s exit from the bloc Thursday, announcing an agreement on the draft of a new Brexit deal and paving the way for a knife-edge vote in the British Parliament.

The accord will likely be approved by the leaders of the other 27 EU countries at a summit in Brussels later Thursday. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s next formidable challenge will be gathering enough support from the U.K. Parliament. In a setback for the deal’s prospects, a political party allied to his government said it wouldn’t back the deal.

After days of intense talks and more than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, the two sides struck a compromise intended to ensure a border doesn’t appear on the island of Ireland. It was the main sticking point in negotiations aimed at smoothing Britain’s split with its largest trading partner.

The breakthrough marks an unexpected turn of events in Britain’s tortured three-year journey out of the EU, and a victory for Mr. Johnson, who has pledged to deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum. It comes after weeks of at-times-acrimonious confrontations between U.K. and EU officials over the terms of Brexit, scheduled for Oct. 31.

The proposed deal would leave Britain somewhat free to set its own rules and strike trade deals independently from the EU, a key demand from Brexit supporters in Parliament. A previous deal negotiated by Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was rejected by Parliament three times.

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Notes from murrayTALK:

Boris Gets Brussels to Say Yes

Can the British PM get Westminster on board with his Brexit deal?

WSJ - OPINION - There's still no guarantee the United Kingdom will leave the European Union by the current Oct. 31 deadline, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson deserves credit for negotiating an exit agreement many wrote off as impossible. The question now is whether he can win over Parliament.

“The negotiators reached an agreement on a revised Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and on a revised Political Declaration,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wrote in a letter Thursday. He's referring to negotiations to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, which is divided between the independent Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement relies on a frictionless border between the two countries.


on Monday:
A "Super Saturday" in the UK has led to a messy Monday. A rare, emergency sitting of Parliament was called this weekend to vote on whether to approve Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal. The verdict? Nay. After the thumbs-down, Johnson was forced to request an extension on Brexit -- scheduled for October 31 -- from EU leaders.

However, Johnson has made it clear he really, REALLY didn't want a Brexit extension, so he's bringing his deal back to the table today to see if he can get it approved by Parliament. Meanwhile, EU leaders are getting antsy. The French Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin implored British lawmakers to make a decision before the end of the month, saying the uncertainty could cause serious economic woes.


The New York Times


As Netanyahu Fails to Form a Government, Benny Gantz Gets a Chance to Try

The former army chief will have 28 days to assemble a coalition government for the fiercely divided country. Otherwise, a third election could follow.

By David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel abandoned his latest attempt to form a government on Monday, clearing the way for his chief rival to take a shot but leaving a divided country no closer to knowing who its next leader would be.

It remained to be seen whether the move was the beginning of the end for Mr. Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister, or just another twist in a political standoff that has paralyzed the government for six months.

President Reuven Rivlin said he would give Benny Gantz, the former army chief whose party won one more parliamentary seat than Mr. Netanyahu's in last month's election, the mandate to try to become the country's next leader.

But Mr. Gantz, a political newcomer who has capitalized on pending corruption cases against Mr. Netanyahu, has no clear path to assembling the required 61-seat majority in Israel's Parliament.

He has 28 days to try. If he fails, Israel could be forced into an unprecedented third election, a prospect few Israelis would relish.

Two days before his 28-day deadline was up, Mr. Netanyahu, 70, who has been prime minister since 2009, told Mr. Rivlin that he had been unable to put together a parliamentary majority.

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The New York Times


Rikers Would Close in Historic Plan to Remake N.Y. Jail System

The City Council is expected to approve an $8 billion plan on Thursday to close the complex by 2026 and build four new jails that could become a national model.

By Matthew Haag

Even as New York City has recorded a sharp plunge in crime in recent years, its jail complex on Rikers Island has been plagued by levels of abuse, neglect and mismanagement that have turned it into one of the country’s most notorious correctional facilities.

The dismal conditions have set off waves of protests, lawsuits and federal investigations.

Now the city will officially acknowledge the failures of its main jail by declaring that Rikers Island will be shut down, a momentous decision that supporters say pushes the city to the forefront of a national movement to reverse decades of mass incarceration that have sent African-Americans and Latinos to prison in significantly disproportionate rates.

The City Council on Thursday is expected to approve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s second largest jail network, pledging within seven years to rebuild the corrections system with safer, smaller and more humane jails that officials say could become a model for the rest of the United States.

But the plan still faces major obstacles, including opposition to new jails in some neighborhoods where residents worry that they would harm the quality of life and criticism that the city is boxing itself in if crime were to spike or more jail cells were suddenly needed.

And the plan is reliant on an aggressive timeline, the city’s crime rate going down even further and the commitment of future elected leaders to seeing it through.

Rikers, which sits in the East River near La Guardia Airport, would be replaced by four jails scattered across the city that would provide job training, mental health counseling and education services.

To appease opponents, the city announced this week that the new jails would be smaller than first anticipated with a combined daily capacity of about 3,300 prisoners, down from an earlier estimate of 5,000. The last time the city had 3,300 prisoners was in the 1920s.

The city’s plan is feasible politically and pragmatically in large part because of New York’s plummeting jail population. At their peak, during the crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s, the jails held nearly 23,000 people every day.

Today they hold about 7,000 people, but downsizing the new jails would require driving that figure down by more than half.

[HISTORY: For nearly 85 years, Rikers has cast a dark shadow on the city. Locals refer to it as “the island” or “the rock,” a collection of white and tan buildings that are noticeable when flying into La Guardia Airport. The city bought the land in the late 1880s, when it was only a few dozen acres, and used it as landfill that enlarged it into its current size.

In 1935, the first inmates moved into a penitentiary on Rikers, as the city began to shut down jails on what became known as Roosevelt Island. Like Rikers, the facilities there had developed a notorious reputation for deplorable conditions.

The next debate over Rikers will be what comes of the prime real estate. Council members have already signaled that they would not allow it to return as a jail.]

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On each murrayTALK episode, Bill will express his Opinion of some of the top issues of the week. There'll be no shortage of topics ..

We promise stimulating and thought-provoking presentations, and we'll see a way for the audience to contribute .. perhaps via Facebook and Twitter if we can figure out how to do it.

For now we'll use the OPEN MIKE discussion forum and the panelists who call the show.

Stay tuned for more on this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Washington Post


Progressives are all too willing to cut constitutional corners

By George F. Will

Presidential aspirant Beto O’Rourke, thrashing about in an attempt to be noticed, says tax exemptions should be denied to churches and other institutions that oppose same-sex marriage. O’Rourke’s suggestion, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to tax the “excessive” exercise of a First Amendment right, and the NBA’s painful lesson about the perils of moral grandstanding illustrate how progressivism has become a compound of self-satisfied moral preening and a thirst for coercion.

O’Rourke is innocent of originality: Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet recommends a “hard line” against people who deviate from progressivism: “Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War” and “taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.” Apparently it is progressive to regard unprogressive Americans as akin to enemies vanquished in wars. No Churchillian nonsense about “in victory, magnanimity.”

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh notes that, in 1952, California voters used a progressive device, a referendum, to amend the state’s constitution to deny tax exemptions to certain people despised by the majority — people who advocated the unlawful overthrow of the U.S. government. Fortunately, in 1958, in another case from California (concerning denial of property tax exemptions to veterans who refused to swear an oath not to advocate the unlawful overthrow of the government), the U.S. Supreme Court did its counter-majoritarian duty to protect minority rights, striking down this measure: “To deny an exemption to claimants who engage in certain forms of speech is .. the same as if the State were to fine them for this speech.”

Warren, a policy polymath, has a plan for everything, including for taxing speech that annoys her. The pesky First Amendment (in 2014, 54 Democratic senators voted to amend it to empower Congress to regulate spending that disseminates political speech about Congress) says “Congress shall make no law” abridging the right of the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” One name for such petitioning is lobbying. Warren proposes steep taxes (up to 75 percent) on “excessive” lobbying expenditures, as though the amendment says Congress can forbid “excessive” petitioning. Lobbyists are unpopular, and her entire agenda depends on what the amendment was written to prevent: arousing majority passions against an unpopular minority (the wealthy). Warren, who like O’Rourke is operatic when denouncing President Trump’s ignorance of, or hostility to, constitutional norms, might not be a plausible person to make the case against him.

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The Los Angeles Times


Democrats are going after the rich like it’s 1929

By Evan Halper

WASHINGTON — When investment mogul Henry Kravis put his Colorado ranch on the market earlier this year for $46 million, attention to its big-game hunting grounds, marble-countered butler’s pantry and golf course designed by Greg Norman ran high on the society pages — and on the Twitter feed of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“Billionaires like this guy make me wonder what our country needs more of,” the Massachusetts senator wrote, “ranches with golf courses designed by PGA players & fireplaces ‘imported from European castles’ — or universal childcare & a Green New Deal?”

It wasn’t long ago that demonizing the super-rich was risky politics for Democrats. Candidates worried about charges of class warfare and feared turning off voters who dreamed of joining the ranks of the 1%. The Democratic Party’s economic policies sought to aid the poor and the middle class, but mostly not at the expense of the rich.

As Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate made clear, such reticence has vanished from the current campaign.

A widening economic divide, a raft of misdeeds by the billionaire class and diminished political clout for campaign mega-donors have turned the richest Americans into a particularly ripe target this election cycle. Not since the Great Depression have so many candidates so aggressively pilloried the well-to-do.

“We haven’t seen anything like this since 1936,” said former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, whose films and writings have been a rallying point for rage against the ultra-rich. “That was when FDR said, ‘I welcome their hatred,’” Reich said, referring to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now Bernie Sanders has been recycling that exact line on the campaign trail.

“Billionaires should not exist” is emblazoned on bumper stickers sent to Sanders enthusiasts.

[Not every billionaire disagrees. Eighteen of the wealthiest Americans, including Abigail Disney and George Soros, wrote a letter encouraging presidential candidates to embrace the type of wealth taxes Sanders and Warren advocate.]

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The Washington Post


Teen suicides are increasing at an alarming pace, outstripping all other age groups, a new report says

By William Wan

Suicide death rates among teenagers and young adults have increased at an alarming pace in the past decade, according to a new government report. While suicide has steadily become more common across the population, the increase among youths has outpaced all other age groups.

For many years, suicide among youths was relatively rare and its frequency relatively stable. But from 2007 to 2017, the number of suicides among people ages 10 to 24 suddenly increased 56 percent — from 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people to 10.6, the new report shows.

Suicide has become the second-most common cause of death among teenagers and young adults, overtaking homicides and outpaced only by accidents.

“Just looking at these numbers, it’s hard not to find them completely disturbing. It should be a call to action,” said Lisa M. Horowitz, a pediatric psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health. “If you had kids suddenly dying at these rates from a new disease or infection, there would be a huge outcry. But most people don’t even know this is happening. It’s not recognized for the public health crisis it has become.”

The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also showed homicides among ages 10 to 24 increasing 23 percent from 2014 through 2017 after a long period of decline. This trend mirrors a similar uptick in homicides across other age groups, said CDC statistician Sally C. Curtin, who compiled the new report.

Firearms are one factor looming over both worrisome trends. The United States has more guns per capita than any other country. It also has by far a higher rate of gun deaths than any other wealthy country. And while violent homicides often grab headlines, more gun deaths every year are attributed to suicide.

The sharp increase in teen suicides has especially frustrated and puzzled researchers, who have struggled to explain its causes. Some have attributed it to changing social structures, lack of community and the rise of social media and smartphones. Others have pointed to bullying and less sleep.

A few have latched onto media — the popularity of shows such as “13 Reasons Why” that depict and focus on suicide, or the high-profile suicides of celebrities.

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Obituaty - HISTORY

Rep. Elijah Cummings, civil rights advocate and key Trump opponent, dies at 68


BALTIMORE — Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the powerful chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68.

Cummings was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.

Trump criticized the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now,” and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said.

[Cummings’ committee, authorized to investigate virtually any part of the federal government, is one of three conducting the House impeachment probe of Trump. Cummings was among the three chairmen to sign a letter seeking documents in the formal inquiry into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the family of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, the former vice president. The committees have issued subpoenas of witnesses in the face of the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment probe and have jointly been meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony.]

[“I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want,” Cummings said, quoting from the Bible.]

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RACEISM in America

The Wall Street Journal

How a can of spray paint, a rock and a Facebook video exposed a racial divide in North Carolina

By Wesley Lowery

DENTON, N.C. — The call for violence appeared a week and a half before classes began. A group of students at South Davidson High, a nearly all-white school in central North Carolina, arrived to paint the “spirit rock,” a knob of stone normally covered with signatures and school slogans.

But on that morning in August, one of the teens had something more sinister in mind, scrawling two words in shaky white letters.

“Kill Niggers!”

Within minutes, the slur was gone, painted over by other students. But a grainy video was soon ricocheting across the Internet, igniting a weeks-long controversy that has exposed raw racial tensions, imperiled the fall football season for dozens of middle school students and sparked a tempestuous debate over whether the incident constitutes a hate crime.

While local residents have been united in condemning the slur, they are deeply divided over its meaning and importance. Was it harmless graffiti — a stupid decision by a single teen — or a dangerous call to racial violence?

That controversy soon metastasized. The local sheriff announced there would be no hate crime investigation, dismissing the incident as a matter for school discipline rather than a criminal probe. School officials said they punished the teen but provided few details, citing student privacy laws.

School district officials in the racially diverse city of Lexington, 16 miles to the north, responded by canceling their middle school football game against South Davidson, saying they feared for the safety of the predominantly black Lexington team.

Outraged, county school officials declared that if Lexington wouldn't play South Davidson, it would not be allowed to play any of the other schools in the county — which fully surrounds the city — a move that threatened Lexington's entire fall schedule.

The spiraling indignation echoes a recurrent national debate about whether pervasive prejudice or knee-jerk charges of racism is the more urgent threat to society. At times, the warring factions seemed to occupy different worlds despite living in the same small community.

“We're still segregated in so many ways,” said the Rev. Ray Howell, the white pastor of First Baptist Church in Lexington, who said he was cautioned by white friends against moving into the city in 1990.

“Every Sunday, I look out and, with one or two exceptions, I see all white faces. I bet most of the people in my church don't have any black friends,” Howell said. “They know people who are of color. But because they don't associate with them, stereotypes and tensions can flourish.

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The Wall Street Journal


Inside Facebook’s Botched Attempt to Start a New Cryptocurrency

Major partners bolted after Washington challenged the social-media giant’s foray into finance

Facebook's libra project is on life support after high-profile backers dropped out of the network under pressure from lawmakers and regulators. President Trump, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Rep. Maxine Waters, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee—three people who agree on little—have all criticized it. European officials are trying to halt its launch.

With libra, Facebook barreled into the world of finance with techno-utopian bravado, then found itself caught in a tangle of regulatory skepticism and entrenched interests. Lawmakers, already uncomfortable with how Facebook handled privacy around users’ photos and posts, have drawn the drawbridge on users’ money.

From reporter AnnaMaria Andriotis:

Facebook set out to reinvent payments but didn't factor in the backlash it would receive. Unlike in the company's previous missteps, Facebook wasn't the only party that officials could exert pressure on. The Treasury Department, senators and others cautioned the payments companies Facebook had assembled against moving forward. A project that initially had little downside for giants like Visa and Mastercard became a lot riskier. They asked Facebook for more clarity to assuage their concerns and believed they didn't receive it. Libra could still come to fruition, but it could be at a much smaller scale than Facebook envisioned just a few months ago.

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Notes from murrayTALK:

Mark Zuckerberg delivered a major speech on free expression this week

"Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to recast the challenges facing his company in a historical light on Thursday, describing social media as a kind of 'Fifth Estate' and describing politicians' calls to clamp down on tech companies as an effort to restrict the freedom of expression," Brian Fung reported for CNN. "In a speech citing landmark Supreme Court cases and historical figures such as Frederick Douglass, Zuckerberg told an audience at Georgetown University that during times of social upheaval, policymakers have instinctively sought to limit the freedom of speech."

>> Key quote from Zuck: "The impulse is to pull back from free expression," he said. But, he continued, "We are at a crossroads. We can either stand for free expression ... or we can decide the cost is simply too great. We must continue to stand for free expression."

Defends allowing politicians to lie in ads

Zuckerberg said during his speech that he "considered" whether to ban ads from politicians altogether, noting "the controversy certainly is not worth the very small part of our business that they make up." But he said he decided against the ban, arguing that ads can be an "important part of voice" for local candidates.

...but says he worries "about an erosion of truth"

While Zuckerberg continued to defend permitting politicians to lie in ads, he also said he is concerned about the deterioration of truth. “People worry, and I worry deeply, too, about an erosion of truth,” Zuckerberg told WaPo's Tony Romm. “At the same time, I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true. And I think that those tensions are something we have to live with.”

Biden campaign: Facebook "unprepared" for "this unique moment in our history." “Facebook has chosen to sell Americans’ personal data to politicians looking to target them with disproven lies and conspiracy theories, crowding out the voices of working Americans," said a statement from Bill Russo, deputy comms director of the Biden campaign.

Warren: Facebook "helped elect Donald Trump once. They might do it again—and profit off of it." "Trump isn't just posting a lie on his own page for his own followers. Facebook is accepting millions of dollars from Trump to run political ads, including ones with misinformation and outright lies. Ads that TV stations won't even run. Facebook is actively helping Trump spread lies and misinformation. Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once. They might do it again—and profit off of it."

Brian Fung: The big takeaway from Zuckerberg's Thursday remarks is his framing. In Zuckerberg's view, Facebook is at the center of an epic, centuries-long struggle of ideas against authoritarianism and illiberalism. To help make his case, he cited historical figures who took advantage of the right to free speech and who in some cases redefined it, like Martin Luther King, Jr., Black Lives Matter and Frederick Douglass. In this view, Facebook is helping those who would continue their work.

The result? A curious tension -- one in which Zuckerberg’s speech appeared to alienate those whose rhetorical support could have helped Facebook the most.


on Monday:

Disinformation on Facebook: The company said it had removed four campaigns supported by Iran and Russia and announced new steps to reduce the spread of false information.

Facebook's leadership is trying to shore up the platform's integrity before the 2020 election. Yesterday, the company announced it is taking new steps to clearly identify state-run media for users and to better protect the accounts of political candidates to prevent the platform from being used for future election meddling. However, it appears the meddling attempts have already started.

Facebook also revealed that a host of Russian troll profiles have been building a network of accounts on Instagram designed to look like groups in swing states (Instagram is owned by Facebook). Facebook has made several attempts to crack down on foreign disinformation on its platforms since the 2016 election, including hiring former intelligence officials to root out campaigns like those run from Russia.


The New York Times


How Amazon Has Transformed the Hasidic Economy

Amazon has become a lucrative place to do business for many Hasidic Jews, offering anonymity to a largely insular community and allowing women to work from home.

By Joseph Berger

They are a religious community known for clinging to 18th-century fashions and mores — strict rules that keep men and women apart and constraints on attire, with men favoring black suits and formal hats and women in long sleeves and long skirts.

But when it comes to doing business, Hasidic Jews have become enamored with a distinctly 21st-century company: Amazon.

The ability to sell merchandise easily and relatively anonymously on Amazon has transformed the economies of Hasidic enclaves in Brooklyn, suburban New York and central New Jersey, communities where members prefer to keep to themselves and typically do not go to college, let alone graduate from business programs.

But Amazon allows Hasidim to start selling without much experience and without making the investments required by a brick-and-mortar store. It permits Hasidic sellers to deal with the public invisibly — almost entirely by mail, by email or through package-delivery firms.

“Amazon doesn’t ask for your résumé,” said Sam Friedman, a marketer who designs trade show exhibits and works with many Amazon sellers. “And your picture is not on your business. The investment is minimal. You can work out of your bedroom.”
And if Amazon takes over the packing and shipping, according to some interpretations of Jewish law, owners can operate their businesses through the Sabbath and on holidays like Rosh Hashana and the Sukkot festival without violating the proscription against working on sacred days.

Amazon also provides men who at certain ages spend a good deal of their day studying the Talmud and praying and women who tend to the seven or eight children common in Hasidic families the flexibility to become full-time and successful merchants.

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The New York Times


Drug Giants Close In on a $50 Billion Settlement of Opioid Cases

The nation’s three largest drug distributors, as well as two manufacturers, are in intense negotiations to settle thousands of cases before a trial set to begin on Monday (10/21)

By Jan Hoffman

CLEVELAND — The nation’s three largest drug distributors and two manufacturers have agreed with multiple states on a framework to resolve thousands of opioid cases with a settlement worth nearly $50 billion in cash and addiction treatments, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.

The agreement would release AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corporation, which together distribute about 90 percent of the country’s medicines, along with Johnson & Johnson and Teva, the Israel-based manufacturer of generic drugs, from a rapidly growing list of more than 2,300 lawsuits that they face in federal and state courts.

Although the states have agreed in principle to the framework, cities and counties across the country have not yet fully embraced it, said lawyers for a committee that represents thousands of municipal governments. They are seeking more information about how the money will be distributed, whether it will be directed to relief measures or end up in general funds for state legislatures, and “when they could expect the financial support to start,” the lawyers said in a statement.

All the parties are under extreme pressure to reach a deal by Monday, when opening statements are set to begin in Cleveland in the first federal trial to determine responsibility for the opioid epidemic, which has led to 400,000 deaths in the United States over the past two decades.

In New York State alone, the distributors sold 1.6 billion oxycodone pills to pharmacies between 2010 and 2018. It was distributors, said the office of Attorney General Letitia James of New York, who “jammed open the floodgates.”

<< more >>

Opioid lawsuit

Four pharmaceutical companies reached a $260 million settlement yesterday, just hours before the first federal trial of the opioid epidemic was set to begin. McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. settled with the two plaintiffs, Summit and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio.

The case was supposed to be the first federal multidistrict litigation trial (kind of like a class-action lawsuit) covering pharmaceutical companies' role in the ongoing opioid crisis.

But the legal battle is far from over: Thousands more communities are lined up awaiting trials similar to this one. Both Ohio counties have said the settlement awards will go toward treatment programs and first responder support.


The New York Times


This Investigator Used to Stake Out Women. Now, She Tails Men Online.

In her 30 years, the sleuth trade has gone from disguises to digging for data.

By Jennifer Harlan

It’s a tale as old as love itself, or at least as old as the internet. Girl meets boy. Girl falls for boy. Girl starts to suspect that boy may secretly be a married father of two in Buffalo.

That’s where Marie Schembri comes in.

Ms. Schembri has been a private eye for more than 30 years, tracking down grifters, liars and cads from her Brooklyn base. When The New York Times first met her, in 1995, she was a queen of disguise. With a wig, a pair of glasses or some prop bubble gum, Ms. Schembri transformed herself into a high-powered businesswoman, a dowdy schoolteacher or a casual, 20-something persona she called “Queens woman.”

When we ran across the Times photos decades later, we had to track her down.

Twenty-four years later, she is still investigating. But the get-ups that were once the tools of her trade are gathering dust and rarely called into action. These days, all Ms. Schembri really needs to do most of her sleuthing is a cellphone and an internet connection.

“You don’t have to sit outside someone’s house to see when they’re coming and going,” she explained. “You can track them from anywhere.”

As her work has gone from cloak-and-dagger to point-and-click, her clients have changed as well: There are fewer jealous husbands trying to sniff out infidelity, she said, and more women who, on the verge of a relationship, are trying to protect themselves from a broken heart, a scam or something much worse. Women are far more likely than men to be abused or stalked by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For Ms. Schembri, a married mother of two and a professed feminist, the clientele shift was a welcome change. “It used to be the men had all the money, and they hired all the lawyers and picked on the women and went after them,” she said. It ate at her, especially when she was starting out.

While the cases and techniques may have changed, Ms. Schembri approaches her work much like she always has.

“You have to let the documents tell you the truth,” she said.]

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The Wall Street Journal


The Worlds That AI Might Create

Artificial intelligence will have a profound impact—on our jobs, our health and possibly our very existence. But that's where consensus ends.

By Michael Totty

When it comes to artificial intelligence, there's a clear consensus: It is a growing presence in our offices and homes. But the consensus ends when you ask the next question: What will it mean?

To some experts, an AI world means more jobs, and more interesting ones; to others, it means a devastating loss of employment opportunities. To some, it means a deadly threat to human existence; to others, it means better health and longer—perhaps much longer—lives. To some, it means a time when AI can help us make smarter decisions; to others, it means the destruction of our privacy.

How are experts looking at the same present and arriving at such different and contradictory futures? Here's a look at five scenarios, and the paths that getting there might take.

Many jobs will disappear, and won't be replaced

As artificial intelligence becomes more powerful, a lot of current jobs are doomed to disappear.

Robots at Work

Manufacturers are expected to employ nearly four million robots world-wide by 2022. Singapore currently has the highest density of industrial robots, but their use is growing fastest in China.

There will be plenty of jobs (just different ones)

It's true that many jobs will be lost in the AI revolution, just as in previous waves of automation. But history is a guide, and once again, even more jobs will be gained.

Domestic and Medical Robots

Robots are expected to become far more common outside the workplace as well.

Our very existence is threatened

Here's the truly nightmare scenario of artificial intelligence: It kills us all.

How might it happen? One possibility is that researchers succeed in creating a humanlike AI system—what is called artificial general intelligence, or AGI—that is capable of learning on its own and that could then design itself to be even more intelligent. In this event, which researchers refer to as the singularity, the machine could improve so rapidly that it turns into a superintelligence that is beyond our ability to monitor or control.

Such a computer would be able to commandeer resources, such as automated factories or the computerized financial system, to achieve its objectives with indifference to the consequences, and regardless of whether its mission matches up with what humans want.

Mixed Feelings

Both positive and negative feelings about artificial intelligence are common.

Start with the doctor's office. Physicians, in theory, already have access to previously unimaginable sources of health information: electronic medical records, radiology and lab reports, the patients' fitness trackers and the results of genetic tests. But by themselves, it's almost impossible for doctors to draw meaningful insights from all that information.

AI will be a constant companion

It won't be long before AI will be following us everywhere.

The path to a ubiquitous AI isn't hard to imagine. Artificial intelligence is an all-pervasive, general-purpose technology, more like electricity than, say, the airplane. Like electricity, it eventually will be integrated into all aspects of our lives, homes, cars and offices, though in ways that are far more disruptive and far-reaching.

AI will drive us to work in our autonomous cars, and once we're there it will manage calendars, screen and interview job candidates, run meetings, and even take on some management tasks such as forming work teams and assigning projects. Back at home, smart devices will react automatically to changing temperatures, noise levels and air quality, change lights and music to fit our mood and help children with their homework.

“At a certain point in the near term, referring to a building as AI-enabled would be as silly as referring to one as electrified today,” says Mr. Cascio.

Journal Report --

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The New York Times

Google claims a computing breakthrough

The company said today that it had achieved “quantum supremacy,” a milestone that would make current supercomputers look like toys.

At a research lab in California, a mathematical calculation that the largest supercomputers could not complete in under 10,000 years was done in 3 minutes 20 seconds, Google said in a paper in the science journal Nature.

Background: Our reporter Dennis Overbye explains: “Ordinary computers store data and perform computations as a series of bits that are either 1 or 0. By contrast, a quantum computer uses qubits, which can be 1 and 0 at the same time, at least until they are measured.”

What's next: Scientists likened the announcement to the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903 — proof that something is possible even though it may be years before it can fulfill its potential.



What can we learn from the success of animal kingdom?

When a young lion is cast out of the pride to fend for himself, he faces a steep learning curve.

His years of easy meals from his mother and aunts will continue no longer.

Now, he must hunt for himself.

He's learned the basics from prior generations. But only the bare basics. His hunts will sputter along for some time. Many of his hunts, will be laughable.

He won't time his sprints correctly. His sprints will begin far outside of the range of his endurance. He'll trip over brush. He'll trip over his own feet. He'll foolishly tackle the alpha bull of the herd, getting shaken off like a bad habit. He'll wear himself out trying to chase too-fast prey. Many of his attempts will get him dinged up and bloodied. He'll stumble into enemy territory and, if he is lucky, escape with his life. He'll stalk too loudly, crunching on loud brush. His hiding spots will be inadequate. His choice of prey will seem devoid of any logic.

A long list of mistakes will puncture each of his hunting attempts. He will be reminded of those mistakes as his stomach groans and his juicy prey gallops away. A thousand generations of evolution will chant: Eat or die. Kill or die. Eat or Die. Kill or die. Hunting is his singularity, it defines his existence. Every move, every skill, every ounce of effort, revolves around his next kill. Until he dies or until he eats, he will not relent.

He will eventually get kills. And with each attempt and each kill, he will improve.

He will better time his sprints. He will pick better angles. He will master the geometry of an effective ambush. He will recognize unfavorable terrain. He will recognize the scent of enemy males. He will draw the lines of territory in his mind. Lines to avoid. Lines of certain death. His experience will bring recognition. And with that recognition, competency. He'll learn to watch the movement of prey, to notice the fluidity of their steps, watching for limps, staggers, fatigue. He will learn to judge the confidence of their posture. His sharpening eye for weakness will be paired with an increasing capacity for violence. His legs and back will become stronger. His coordination will improve. His mane will fill in. His fighting prowess will grow as he learns to use his teeth and claws. Scars will form on his face and body. They will be visible signals, invitations to oncoming challengers: “come - let us speak in the language we know best.”

No longer a cub. No longer weak. He can now hunt. He can now fight. He is ready. He will not die. He will live.

A young male lion has one goal: to eat. This pursuit, born of necessity, demands well-honed savagery. Everything he does, every skill, every competency, is a result of pursuing that goal.

When a lion fails a hunt, he extracts only useful information from that failure, and then, he moves forward to his next attempt.

There is no self-pity for failed hunts. There is no comparing his hunting prowess to that of others.

A lion's mentality toward success offers a useful lesson to our own goals and path forward.

Treat success as your only option and you won't even notice the failures. You will only get better.



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

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We'll continue this discussion tonight ..


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LAPPL Law Enforcement News - Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch:

Law Enforcement News - Wed, 10/23

Deputy Killed In El Dorado County Shooting. Two In Custody, Authorities Say
An El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy was shot and killed early Wednesday morning while responding to a call in a rural community southeast of Placerville. The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office in a news release identified the fallen officer as Deputy Brian Ishmael, who was fatally shot while responding to a call at Sand Ridge Drive and Mt. Aukum Road in the town of Somerset. A "ride-along" passenger with Ishmael was also shot and injured. That person's condition is not known, the news release said. Two men are in custody and the scene is "still active" with a large law enforcement presence, according to the news release. Ishmael was a four-year veteran with the sheriff's office who previously served the Placerville Police Department.
Sacramento Bee

LAPD Officer Injured, Shooting Suspect At Large In Boyle Heights

A suspect who exchanged gunfire with Los Angeles Police Department officers in Boyle Heights was at large this morning following a more than six-hour search. Around 10 p.m. Tuesday, officers with Hollenbeck Division attempted to stop a pedestrian in the area of First and Gless streets and there was an exchange of gunfire, police said. The suspect ran off and a perimeter was set up from First to Fourth streets and Pecan and Utah streets. SWAT and K-9 officers conducted a search for the suspect, which ended around 5 a.m., the LAPD said. It was unclear if the suspect was struck by gunfire, police said. Broadcast reports said the search began shortly after a radio call of an officer needing help. One officer suffered a minor injury not related to gunfire. The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment and released, police said.

California Officer In Critical Condition After Being Hit By Alleged Drunk Driver
A Yuba-Sutter California Highway Patrol officer remains in stable but critical condition at UC Davis Medical Center after being struck, while directing traffic at Lomo Crossing on Highway 99 Saturday, by a suspected drunk driver. According to a Facebook post by the Yuba-Sutter California Highway Patrol, officer David Gordon was struck while he and his partner were directing traffic due to a malfunctioning railroad crossing sign. Gordon underwent a seven-hour surgery to treat compound breaks in his legs, a broken arm and his spleen was removed to treat internal bleeding. Gordon is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday to treat multiple pelvis fractures, a broken jaw and broken shoulder blade. The post said the information given on the extent of his injuries was not all-inclusive and that Gordon faces a long recovery.

Man Who Attacked 2 Birmingham Police Officers Caught, Arrested
Felony warrants have been obtained against a man accused of tasing two Birmingham police officers. Demetrious Restee Williams, 32, is charged with two counts of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree escape, one count of disarming a law enforcement officer, and first-degree robbery. He was already wanted on charges of second-degree robbery, first-degree theft of property and unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle that happened in late August. Thursday's incident happened when a Birmingham police officer responded to Kingston Grocery around 1 p.m. Thursday on a call of a theft, according to Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Johnny Williams.

Man Fatally Struck By Hit-And-Run Driver In Hollywood: LAPD

A 29-year-old man was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver in Hollywood early Friday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The crash was reported about 3 a.m. near the intersection of Highland and Willoughby avenues. Police said a white, late-model Mercedes C300 or similar vehicle was heading north on Highland when it crashed into a pedestrian crossing west from the southeast corner of the intersection. The pedestrian died at the scene. He was later identified as Richard Dubose. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office had previously given a different spelling of the victim's name. The driver then left the scene without identifying him or herself, or stopping to help the victim, police said. A reward of up to $50,000 is available for anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the hit-and-run driver.

School Burglars Recorded On Surveillance Video
Detectives Tuesday released surveillance video of two men and a woman suspected of burglarizing a school in the Pico-Union area. The burglary occurred about 3 a.m. on Oct. 12. The suspects walked into the school in the 2600 block of West 15th Street and placed several items into containers before fleeing down the street on foot, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Police did not disclose the name of the school or the item taken. There are several campuses in the area, including Loyola High School. All three suspects were described as Hispanic, 18-25 years old, 5 feet 1 inch to 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 140-160 pounds. They all wore dark hoodie-style jackets. One of the young men had a crown on his head and the woman wore a purple cape, police said. Anyone with information about the burglary or who recognizes any of the suspects was urged to call detectives at the LAPD's Olympic Station at 213-382-9540.

Southern California Campaign Fundraiser Accused Of Falsifying Records, Evading Taxes
Federal prosecutors have accused a Southern California campaign fundraiser of falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying U.S. government officials, authorities said Tuesday. Criminal charges against Imaad Shah Zuberi, of Arcadia, also allege that he engaged in lobbying efforts that earned him millions of dollars, much of which was stolen from his clients, according to federal prosecutors. In addition to alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the 49-year-old Zuberi is accused of tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions that included funneling money from foreign entities and individuals to influence U.S. elections. Prosecutors said Zuberi has agreed to plead guilty to three counts in the case filed against him. A plea agreement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court notes that Zuberi faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
Los Angeles Daily News

California Driver Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI While Carrying Loaded Ghost Gun
A man booked on charges of driving with a blood alcohol level three times above the legal limit also faces charges of carrying a loaded 9 mm ghost gun, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office reports. Ghost guns are firearms fabricated without serial numbers, a crime in California. The weapon taken from Michael Martinez of Lemoore was patterned from a Glock design. Sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti said that about 1:30 p.m. Monday, Martinez was northbound on South Dickenson Avenue approaching West Mt. Whitney Avenue when he narrowly avoided a collision with another car and then reportedly went airborne for about 20 feet in a gray Buick SUV. Martinez, who had turned 28 Monday, walked to a nearby farming business and asked to use a telephone. A worker there suspected Martinez was drunk and followed Martinez back to his vehicle to prevent him from driving away, Botti said. The worker noticed a handgun on the floor of the Buick, and called sheriff's deputies, who detained Martinez and contacted the California Highway Patrol. CHP officers determined that Martinez failed a sobriety test with the high alcohol level.
Fresno Bee

California Man Arrested In Crash That Killed Three On I-80 In Nebraska
A California man wanted in connection with a Sept. 20 collision that killed three men near a construction zone on Interstate 80 near Gibbon is in custody. Kenneth Kratt, 34, remained at the Madera County Department of Corrections in California on Monday after his arrest Friday. He will be extradited to Nebraska, where he faces three charges of felony manslaughter in Buffalo County in connection with the unintentional deaths of Ryan Vanicek, 37, of Schuyler, and Daniel Seelhoff, 50, and Scott Gaylord, 54, both of Lincoln. Kratt was driving a 2020 Peterbilt semitrailer 75 mph to 78 mph in the construction zone with a posted speed limit of 65 mph, according to crash investigators. The semi first hit the rear of a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Vanicek that had slowed for traffic. The resulting chain-reaction crashes caused the deaths of Vanicek and Seelhoff, both occupants of the Silverado, which caught fire.
Omaha World-Herald

Public Safety News

LA County Reports First Flu Death Of The Season
Los Angeles County health officials Monday confirmed the county's first flu-related death of the 2019-20 flu season. The patient was a middle-aged person with underlying health conditions, according to the county Department of Public Health. During the 2018-19 flu season, there were 125 flu-related deaths in Los Angeles County. “This is a sad reminder that the flu can be a serious illness, especially for the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems,” Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County health officer, said in a statement. “I would like to remind everyone that even if you're healthy, you can still get seriously sick from the flu and spread the illness to others. Immunization is the best method to protect yourself and reduce the likelihood of spreading the flu to others in your community.”

Measles Confirmed In LA County Resident, 19th Case This Year
Health officials have confirmed another case of measles in a resident connected to another recent case in Los Angeles County. Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Heath said others might have been exposed to measles since the person visited public locations while infectious. The potential public exposure locations, days and times were as follows: Starbucks, 3006 S. Sepulveda Blvd. on Oct. 16 between 7:50-10 a.m. and Disneyland Anaheim on Oct. 16 between 9:15 a.m.-8:35 p.m. Anyone who might have been at these locations during the listed time frames might be at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after exposure.

Heat, Winds And Power Outages: California Braces For Days Of Dangerous Conditions
California is bracing for days of hot conditions, dangerous winds and possible power outages. Red flag warnings were in effect beginning Wednesday in a large swath of Northern California as well the Los Angeles area. Southern California is in the midst of a fall heat wave brought by a mixture of high pressure and offshore winds, with temperatures at least 10 degrees warmer than usual, said Jimmy Taeger, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego. Temperatures ranging from 90 degrees to over 100 degrees are expected across much of the Southland. The coolest beaches in the region are expected to see the mid- or upper 80s, forecasters say. The warming trend prompted the weather service to issue a heat advisory from 10 a.m. til 5 p.m. Tuesday, suggesting that people “drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.”
Los Angeles Times

Local Government News

LA City Council Unanimously Votes To Stop ‘No-Fault' Evictions Until New State Law Goes Into Effect
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to approve an emergency ordinance aimed at stopping “no-fault” evictions until Jan. 1, when a new state law goes into effect. According to the motion, an estimated 30,000 evictions take place in Los Angeles each year, and the threat of no-fault evictions are escalating. A no-fault eviction is defined as when a tenant is evicted for reasons that are no fault of their own. The ordinance establishes eviction protection for renters in non-rent-stabilized housing built before 2005 and could go into effect by the end of the week. For some renters, however, local intervention may not come soon enough.

L.A. County Prepares To Launch $134M Lead Clean-Up Effort
Anticipating a $134 million payout from paint manufacturers, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to take a variety of steps to launch a massive lead-based paint clean-up effort at the start of 2020. Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer called the agreement with paint companies -- disclosed in July, nearly 20 years after local governments in California filed suit -- a "landmark legal settlement.” Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger co-authored a motion to get the work underway. "We have our work cut out for us," Hahn said, estimating that at least 5,000 homes are in need of remediation. The county will prioritize homes built before 1951 in low-income communities with a significant population of children under 6 years old.
FOX 11


Law Enforcement News - Tue, 10/22

Montana Deputy Dies While Responding To Stranded Motorist
A Gallatin County sheriff's deputy was killed Saturday after being trapped under his patrol vehicle while conducting a welfare check of a stranded motorist. According to the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, Jake Allmendinger and partner Ryan Jern were responding in the same vehicle to check on a motorist stranded on an icy road in the Bridger mountain range. While they were attempting to find the motorist, the vehicle began to slide backwards. According to GSCO, Allmendinger exited the driver's side of the patrol vehicle and got trapped underneath it. Jern attempted to rescue Allmendinger but was unsuccessful, according to GCSO. During a press conference livestreamed on Facebook, Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin described Allmendinger as “one of those guys” everyone liked. 

Man Shot To Death At Boyle Heights Homeless Encampment
A man was shot to death at a Boyle Heights homeless encampment early Monday morning. Just after 1 a.m., responding Los Angeles police officers found the man dead from a single gunshot wound under the East 1st Street overpass at Mission Road, according to LAPD Lt. Ryan Rabbett. The victim, a Hispanic man in his 20s, was not immediately identified. Authorities are unsure if the man lived in the camp. “This is a larger encampment, at least with somewhere close to 50 people who live here,” Rabbett said. Rabbett disclosed that the man was found shot outside of a tent. There was no motive or suspect information. Investigators were speaking to witnesses and canvassing the area for surveillance video.

60-Year-Old Man Killed In Sun Valley Hit-And-Run
A 60-year-old man was fatally struck in a hit-and-run crash in Sun Valley over the weekend, officials said Monday. The crash was reported about 11:50 p.m. Saturday when a pedestrian got out of his vehicle near the intersection of San Fernando Road and Truesdale Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. As the pedestrian crossed east on San Fernando road he was struck by a dark-colored vehicle, possibly a black Lexus SUV heading south. The driver of the SUV continued without stopping or rendering aid, police said. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the scene and transported the victim to a local hospital where he died from his injuries. He has not been identified. A $50,000 reward is available for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction, police said. Anyone with information about the incident can call 818 644-8115 or 818-644-8022.

2 Los Angeles Men Arrested In Alleged Illegal Marijuana Grow In Southwest Riverside County
Two Los Angeles men were arrested on suspicion of running an illegal marijuana grow in unincorporated De Luz in southwest Riverside County, authorities said. Deputies served a search warrant Friday afternoon, Oct. 18, on a property in the 45000 block of Vista Del Mar in De Luz, west of Temecula, Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Jon Wade said. When deputies arrived at the location, they arrested Cung Nim, 44, and Sonny Nim, 48, who were allegedly maintaining the 400-plant operation, according to Wade. In addition to the plants, authorities also seized about 100 pounds of processed and packaged marijuana, he said. Cung also has an outstanding felony warrant for burglary, according to jail records. Both suspects were booked into the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley, but were released after posting bail.
Los Angeles Daily News

Man Charged After 2 Unregistered AR-15s, High-Capacity Magazines Found In Palos Verdes Estates Home
Two short-barreled AR-15 style rifles and a 9mm handgun, all unregistered, were found in the Palos Verdes Estates home of a man who was prohibited from having firearms after his mother reported that he robbed her, officials said. Maxwell Miner, 29, has since been charged with robbery, making criminal threats, two counts of possession of an assault weapon, two counts of possession of a short-barreled rifle and possession of brass knuckles, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records. He has pleaded not guilty to all seven counts. The incident occurred about 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in the 3300 block of Palos Verdes Drive North, Palos Verdes Estates police Capt. Luke Hellinga said. A woman called police to report that her son tried to stab her and took property from her, according to the Police Department.

Detectives Still Searching For 2 Missing 16-Year-Old Girls From Compton
The Compton Sheriff's Station detectives continued their search on Sunday to find two 16-year-old girls who were last seen together at a Motel 6 in Redlands. The two girls are from the Compton area, authorities said. Both teens are Hispanic. Yenifer Landeros is 5'3” tall, 120lbs with straight brown hair and brown eyes. She may have recently dyed her hair blonde. Landeros was last seen wearing black pants and a black shirt. Dulce Lopez is 5'1” tall, 90lbs with straight brown hair and brown eyes. She also may have recently dyed her hair blue. Dulce has a “Y” tattoo on her left wrist and a scar on her right arm. Lopez was last seen wearing a yellow gold chain with the Virgin Mary charm and unknown clothing. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of either Yenifer or Dulce, are encouraged to contact Compton Sheriff's Station at 310-605-6500.
FOX 11

Man Gets 12 Years For Phishing Attack On L.A. County Court Computers
A 33-year-old man was sentenced Monday to a dozen years behind bars for hacking into the Los Angeles Superior Court computer system and using it to send millions of malicious phishing emails designed to retrieve employees' banking information. Oriyomi Sadiq Aloba was also ordered by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to pay restitution and a special assessment totaling $50,000, and to serve three years under supervised release following his 145-month federal prison term. However, the judge indicated that Aloba would probably face deportation proceedings immediately after prison. Aloba was found guilty in July in Los Angeles of 27 federal counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and aggravated identity theft. The Katy, Texas, resident was taken into federal custody after the verdict was read.

Teen Gang Member Gets 8 Years For Attack On Special-Ed Student In Long Beach

A young man pleaded no contest Monday to assaulting a special-needs student in Long Beach -- an attack captured on cell phone video and posted online -- and was immediately sentenced to eight years in prison. Bryan Blancas, 19, pleaded to one count of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and also admitted gang and hate crime allegations, according to the District Attorney's Office. Blancas and two teenage boys, aged 16 and 17 at the time, were arrested six days after the May 15 attack on the 16-year-old black victim, which occurred near 15th Street and Long Beach Boulevard. A third juvenile, 16, was taken into custody June 25 at a residence in Torrance. Petitions for two of the juveniles are still pending, but the third has already resolved his case, according to Ricardo Santiago of the District Attorney's Office.

Public Safety News

69-Year-Old Woman Found Dead In Boat Fire At Port Of L.A.
A 69-year-old woman was found dead on a boat that burned while docked at the Port of Los Angeles early Monday, officials said. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to berth 258 at Terminal Island, near San Pedro, around 4 a.m. after a firefighter at the station across the marina spotted the blaze. Crews arrived at the scene to find a 28-foot cabin cruiser engulfed in flames, the agency said. Firefighters put out the fire in about 15 minutes, after which one body was found in the living quarters of the vessel, Fire Department spokesman Cody Weireter told reporters. Investigators believe that person, a 69-year-old woman, resided on the boat, Weireter said.

Fire Crews Battle Rapidly Growing Uphill Brush Fire In Pacific Palisades
Authorities issued mandatory evacuations as flames raced up a hillside in Pacific Palisades hillside late Monday morning consuming at least 40 acres and injuring two people. Los Angeles Fire Department officials said a firefighter suffered minor injuries and another, described as a civilian, was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries resulting from "respiratory distress." The fire burned through trees and brush as it headed toward multimillion-dollar homes. Some residents were seen fleeing on foot to escape the blaze. 
FOX 11

Local Government News

Metro Plans Updates On North San Fernando Valley Bus Rapid Transit Project
The Metro Board of Directors will review the proposed North San Fernando Valley bus rapid transit project this week, months after it became a hotly debated issue in the recent election for the northwest San Fernando Valley's LA City Council seat. In June, Metro released an alternatives analysis study with a proposed route from Chatsworth Metrolink Station to the North Hollywood Red Line and Orange Line station, with some variations along the way. In the following weeks, the agency has received “voluminous” public feedback from critics and supporters of the transit system. At issue has been an option in which the bus — similar to the Orange Line — would run down the middle of Nordhoff Street. That prospect touched off vocal opposition earlier this year during Metro meetings and in the race for the City Council District 12, which John Lee — who was opposed to the project — won.
Los Angeles Daily News


Law Enforcement News - Mon, 10/21

2 Iowa Deputies Stable After Being Shot Serving Arrest Warrant
Two Iowa sheriff's deputies are in stable condition after being shot while trying to serve an arrest warrant. WHO reports three Guthrie County sheriff's deputies and one Stuart police officer were serving an arrest warrant Thursday night when they reported shots had been fired. Law enforcement negotiated with someone inside the apartment and got him to surrender, but officials would not release if he was either the shooter or the person named in the arrest warrant. Someone inside the apartment was also shot and is now in stable condition, WHO reports. A police officer was treated for gun powder burn and released from the hospital. 

Man Killed In Shooting In North Hills
A man in his early 20s was killed in a shooting in North Hills and the shooter was at large Saturday. The shooting was reported at 7 p.m. Friday in the area of Chase Street and Orion Avenue, according to Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Officer Drake Madison. “Officers determined that witnesses had transported the victim from another location in an attempt to drive the victim to a local hospital and had stopped to render immediate aid,” according to an LAPD news statement. The man was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, Madison said. The death was being investigated as a homicide, Madison said. His name was withheld pending notification of next of kin, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Driver Arrested After Running Away From Pickup Truck Involved In Fatal Crash In Northridge: Police

Authorities arrested Van Nuys woman who ran away after being involved in a two-vehicle crash in Northridge early Sunday that left another Van Nuys woman dead, authorities said. Officers and paramedics responded to the area of 9857 Balboa Boulevard at about 5:20 a.m. to find that a white pickup truck and a silver sedan had crashed, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The driver of the sedan was pronounced dead at the scene, LAPD said. She was identified as 54-year-old Maribel Elizabeth Garcia of Van Nuys, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz. Police say the injured pickup truck driver was seen leaving the crash site on foot. "Investigators at scene conducted relentless follow-ups and subsequently located the female suspect," the LAPD said in a written statement. "She has been identified as Barbara (Ann) Vergara, a 54-year-old resident of Van Nuys."

Police Seeking Hit-and-Run Motorist In Pedestrian Fatality In Hollywood Area

Authorities sought public help to find the hit-and-run motorist responsible for killing a pedestrian Friday in the Hollywood area. The pedestrian, a man about 30 years of age, was injured about 3 a.m. at Highland and Willoughby avenues and died at the scene, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. His name was withheld, pending notification of his relatives. According to police, the man was hit by a white late-model Mercedes C300 or similar vehicle that was northbound on Highland Avenue. No description was available of the motorist. A standing reward of up to $50,000 is available from the city of Los Angeles for information that helps police solve a fatal hit-and-run. Anyone with information on the case was urged to call police at 213-473-0234 or 877-LAPD-247; or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.
FOX 11

9 Hurt In Cangoga Park Crash; Sheared Hydrant Causes Roof Collapse At Nearby Shoe Store

Nine people were hurt, including four who were seriously injured, in a chain reaction crash in Canoga Park that also sheared a fire hydrant, which caused the roof of a nearby shoe store to collapse, authorities said. One of the involved drivers was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. The two-vehicle wreck took place shortly before 9 p.m. at Sherman Way and De Soto Avenue, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. One of them sheared off a fire hydrant, sending a geyser high into the air, and onto a nearby Warehouse Shoe Sale store. The pooling water on top of the building caused the roof to give way. The impact also knocked high-voltage power lines down. Among the injured was a 10-year-old child who was inside the store and suffered a broken leg in the roof collapse, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Joe McGee said.

Suspects Sought In North Hills Home Burglaries

Police asked for the public's help this morning in finding three burglary suspects seen on surveillance video breaking into homes in North Hills. The burglaries occurred on Oct. 8 between 7:30 a.m and 3 p.m. in the 11300 block of Darby Avenue, 10900 block of Baton Rogue Avenue, 10300 block of Monogram Avenue and 11600 block of Swinton Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. "The suspects accessed the properties by smashing the rear sliding glass door," the LAPD said in a statement. "Once inside, the suspects removed property and fled in a getaway vehicle." The first suspect was described as a black man, 18 to 25 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 140 to 160 pounds with a goatee. The second suspect is a white or Hispanic man, 18 to 25 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 140 to 160 pounds with a shaved head.

Former CSUN Student Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison For Rape

A former Cal State Northridge student was sentenced to eight years in state prison for sexually assaulting a woman on the school's campus in January 2018, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Friday. Davis Moreno-Jaime, 20, was convicted on one count of forcible rape in September after he was arrested in connection with multiple sexual assaults. Authorities said that they believed Moreno-Jaime attacked multiple victims between April 2017 and July 2018 throughout Southern California. “This was not your stereotypical jumping-out-of-the-bushes type of thing,” CSUN Police Chief Anne Glavin said at the time, explaining that Moreno-Jaime knew the victims. The District Attorney's Office was unable to proceed with counts related to a second victim and dismissed them during a preliminary hearing.
Los Angeles Times

'Hollywood Ripper' Trial: Jury Recommends Death Penalty For Serial Killer Michael Gargiulo
A Los Angeles jury has recommended the death penalty for the man dubbed "The Hollywood Ripper" who was convicted of the killings of two women and the attempted murder of a third. The jury's decision in the case of 43-year-old Michael Gargiulo was read in court Friday afternoon. In August, the same jurors convicted Gargiulo of the killings including the 2001 murder of Ashley Ellerin on a night she was to go out with actor Ashton Kutcher, who testified at the trial. The surviving victim and Gargiulo's teenage son were among those who testified in the penalty phase. Prosecutors also assigned Gargiulo the "Boy Next Door Killer" moniker because he lived near all the victims and watched them. 

California Braces For Deluge Of Child-Sex-Assault Lawsuits Under New Law
Matt Smyth's secret was revealed his senior year of high school with a knock on the front door of his family's home in Fallbrook, Calif. Two plainclothes sheriff's detectives were investigating reports that Smyth's former assistant scoutmaster — the one who'd driven kids to Boy Scout meetings, chaperoned camp-outs and hosted fishing outings on his bucolic property — had molested several boys. To the shock of his parents, Smyth shared that he'd been a victim, too. But the bombshell stayed close to home for decades. Smyth never heard from the investigators again, and he moved on — or tried to. More than 40 years later, Smyth is finally ready for his day in court and a public reckoning. The 55-year-old, who still lives in Fallbrook, is among potentially thousands of Californians who are preparing to file sexual abuse lawsuits under a new state law that allows victims more time to report allegations of abuse and to take legal action.
Los Angeles Times

Public Safety News

Saddleridge Fire 83% Contained As Red Flag Warning Remains In Place
Containment of the Saddleridge fire rose to 83% Sunday, as a red flag warning remained in place through Sunday evening due to lowering humidity and gusty northerly winds, officials said. The fire engulfed 8,799 acres, or 13.7 square miles, as of Saturday evening, nine days after the blaze in Sylmar erupted. Firefighters continued to battle rugged terrain in order to increase containment lines and address hot spots, according to Saturday evening's multiagency incident report. Tactical patrols remained in place to monitor the area for smoldering debris, officials said. A red flag warning remained in effect until 10 p.m. Sunday for the Los Angeles County, Santa Monica and Ventura County mountains and San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys, Santa Barbara County mountains and south coast, the National Weather Service said.

Southern California Back On Fire Watch As Dangerous Winds Return; Red Flag Warnings Expanded

Southern California is back on fire watch this weekend amid winds and warm temperatures, with Southern California Edison warning of possible preventive power outages. A small brush fire broke out Saturday morning in the Hollywood Hills off Stanley Hills Drive but was quickly extinguished by firefighters, who said there were no winds at the time. But that is expected to change throughout the region. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for Santa Barbara County's south coast and mountain regions that remains in effect through Sunday night. The Real fire near Goleta started Thursday and burned 420 acres. It is now 50% contained. There, so-called sundowner winds were expected to combine with low humidity and dry brush to increase the threat of wildfires. 
Los Angeles Times

Local Government News

George Gascón was a progressive DA in progressive San Francisco. Why did he make so many enemies?
Gascón made enemies with police groups, who resented that he pushed aggressively to investigate misconduct, as well as liberal activists, who believed he should have charged cops in controversial fatal shootings. And though violent crime fell dramatically under his watch, he became a target of Mayor London Breed's frustration over the city's growing street problems. But many in San Francisco — including many rank-and-file police officers and sheriff's deputies and the mayor — turned against him. Gascón's work as district attorney, they said, contributed to worsening problems on the streets, from open-air drug use to rampant theft. “I think his policy failures and his failing to prosecute crimes is what's largely responsible for what the streets of San Francisco look like today,” said police union President Tony Montoya, who blamed epidemic levels of property crime on statewide propositions supported by Gascón that lowered punishments for some nonviolent offenders.
San Francisco Chronicle

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