Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Austin Releases 5 Men Linked to Gang-Related Homicide; Former NBA Players Indicted in Insurance Fraud Scheme; Newsom Approves Process to Decertify Policemen; Sheriff Won't Enforce Vaccine Mandate; and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

Recall Gascon campaign had collected 200k signatures; "Traffic Defenders" facing disciplinary proceedings; BLM caused exodus of black police officers

 

October 18, 2021

Facebook

Police are investigating alleged sexual misconduct by DJ Diplo, including invasion of privacy and knowingly infecting someone with an STD

California federal court announces vaccine mandate for workers--The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California now requires all employees, volunteers and judiciary contractors working onsite be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Kiry Gray, the clerk of the court, issued the policy on Friday. The announcement referred to the mandate as "necessary to combat the spread of Covid-19 and protect the health and safety of the court's employees, volunteers and contractors, as well as members of the public and others within the court's community."

Courthouse News Service--9th Circuit blocks California law limiting private jails

A divided federal appeals court panel ruled on Tuesday that a California state law aimed at phasing out private detention facilities in the state cannot be enforced because it is likely to unconstitutionally intrude on the federal government's power over immigration. The 2-1 decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a District Court ruling that upheld the 2019 California legislation, known as AB 32.

Politico--Disciplinary isolation in jail was not excuse for non-participation in 'reunification'

A father who did not participate in reunification services with his baby was properly denied a second six-month period of such services, the Court of Appeal declared yesterday, rejecting the man's excise that he was precluded from participation by virtue of being isolated while in jail as a disciplinary measure. That isolation, Presiding Justice Elwood Lui of Div. Two said in an unpublished opinion, was of the father's own doing.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise--Newsom names Glendale judge to Superior Court

Glendale resident Abraham Meltzer is one of six new judges recently appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor also announced 22 Superior Court judges across the state. Meltzer, 55, has been a deputy chief since 2018 at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, where he began working as an assistant U.S. attorney in 2004. His previous posts have included serving as counsel at the California State University's Office of General Counsel from 2000 to 2004, an associate at from 1997 to 2000 and a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney from 1995 to 1997.

Outlook Newspapers

Biden selects Elizabeth Prelogar to be solicitor general

President Joe Biden has nominated Elizabeth Prelogar, the veteran appellate lawyer who has pursued the administration's interests at the Supreme Court over the past seven months, to become solicitor General on a permanent basis, the White House announced early Wednesday. Prelogar, a Harvard Law graduate and a former clerk to Attorney General Merrick Garland during his tenure as a judge on the D.C. Circuit, served as a prosecutor on the staff of special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Politico

Cell doors slam on Capitol rioter who stole police officer's badge and radio

A federal judge refused Friday to order the release of man who insists he was only trying to help when he stole a police officer's badge and radio during the Jan. 6 insurrection while the officer was getting assaulted by a group of rioters. Footage from D.C. Police Officer Mike Fanone's body-worn camera shows Thomas Sibick, of New York, using his left hand to pull off Fanone's badge and his right hand to pull off the officer's radio.

Courthouse News Service

State's 'Stay-at-Home' order didn't cause property 'loss'

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed the scuttling of a putative class action against Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America alleging that the insurer is wrongfully failing to pay up under comprehensive commercial liability and property insurance policies to businesses that were force to shutter their buildings while a "stay at home order" issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom was in effect.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Judge says Trump can be deposed in former 'Apprentice' contestant's lawsuit

A New York state judge on Monday gave former U.S. President Donald Trump a Dec. 23 deadline to undergo questioning in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former contestant on "The Apprentice" after he denied her sexual assault accusations. Justice Jennifer Schecter of the New York state court in Manhattan said Trump must submit to a deposition, after his lawyer said Trump planned to countersue his accuser, Summer Zervos, under a state law designed to encourage free speech.

Reuters

Supreme Court turns away closely watched criminal justice disputes

Liberal members of the U.S. Supreme Court used the opening of the 2021 session Monday to push back on the denial of appeals involving the death penalty, qualified immunity and sentencing enhancements. In an opinion separate from the high court's first orders list of the new term, Justices Stephen Breyer highlighted the case of Carl Wayne Buntion, a 77-year-old man convicted of murder in Texas in 1991 and sentenced to death.

Courthouse News Service

State employee had right to union agent at strip search

A state employee's right, under the Dill Act, to have a union representative present during an investigatory interview extends to having such a representative on hand during a strip search conducted for law enforcement purposes, even where no questions are posed, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday. Presiding Justice Vance W. Raye authored the opinion which, though apparently presenting an issue of first impression, was not certified for publication.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Ninth Circuit shuts down journalists' challenge to California's freelance law

A three-judge Ninth Circuit panel found Wednesday that a federal court was correct in dismissing a lawsuit filed by the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association challenging the State's passage of Assembly Bill 5 and its various amendments. AB5 took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, limiting the type of work certain freelancers in the state can perform without being considered on-staff employees.

Courthouse News Service

Assertion of state secrets in CIA torture case has justices looking for alternate intel

Grappling with a discovery order that the U.S. government says would threaten national security, the chief justice of Supreme Court and several of his colleagues sparred in oral arguments Wednesday over the possibility that a Guantanamo Bay detainee has other sources to call upon, including his own memory. "I don't think the court realizes the extent to which Guantanamo prisoners are muzzled," Joe Margulies, a Cornell University law professor representing the detainee, said in a call to Courthouse News after the hearing.

Courthouse News Service

Los Angeles District Attorney

Recall effort against L.A. District Attorney George Gascón seeks to reorganize with a 160-day reset

The effort to force a recall election against L.A. District Attorney George Gascón waned in recent weeks as organizers determined the campaign would be unable to gain the 580,000 signatures needed before the Oct. 27 deadline. Proponents of the Recall George Gascón campaign collected slightly more than 200,000 signatures in six months after residents and family members of crime victims, upset with Gascón's progressive policies on crime, launched the effort.

USC Annenberg Media

Attention LA County DA: Where's the justice for murder victim Michelle Avan?

Michelle Avan, a Los Angeles, California, bank executive, was tortured and beaten to death, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. He faces murder and first-degree robbery charges that, without so-called special circumstances, would allow him, if convicted, to serve less than 10 years. But L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón refuses to permit any special circumstances charges against the defendant, which would allow a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

The Patriot Post

Former USC campus gynecologist's accusers call for investigation of top university officials

Michelle Avan, a Los Angeles, California, bank executive, was tortured and beaten to death, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. He faces murder and first-degree robbery charges that, without so-called special circumstances, would allow him, if convicted, to serve less than 10 years. But L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón refuses to permit any special circumstances charges against the defendant, which would allow a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Los Angeles Times

Prosecutors

Catalytic converter theft surged nationwide. LA's top prosecutor is threatening a fight with auto companies to force change

George Gascón knocks on his dark wood desk for good luck. The Los Angeles County District Attorney has two hybrids in his home and knows it could only be a matter of time before he joins the estimated 30,000 people in Los Angeles County this year who have been victim to a crime rising in popularity: Stealing catalytic converters.

USA Today

Kern County DA releases warning for fake vaccination cards

District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer issued a consumer alert warning Kern County residents not to print fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards at home and not to purchase them from individuals selling counterfeits. "Our office is aware of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination record cards advertised on social media websites, e-commerce platforms, and blogs, as a way for individuals to misrepresent themselves as vaccinated," said District Attorney Zimmer.

Bakersfield Now

Diplo may face criminal charges for sexual misconduct

The Los Angeles city attorney's office is considering criminal charges against celebrity DJ Diplo following a police investigation into sexual misconduct allegations. The office told BuzzFeed News it is considering charges of invasion of privacy and intentionally giving someone a sexually transmitted infection. The investigation into the 42-year-old performer, whose legal name is Thomas Wesley Pentz and who has worked with some of the world's biggest music stars including Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, stems from a complaint made with the LAPD in October 2020.

BuzzFeed News

'Traffic Defenders' lawyer faces disciplinary hearing, charged with not appearing at clients' trials

The State Bar of California announced it is moving ahead with formal disciplinary charges against Robert Amparan, the attorney behind "California Traffic Defenders." He's accused of "intentionally, recklessly, or repeatedly" failing to perform with competence by not appearing at trials for his clients in traffic court. Amparan has offices in San Francisco and South San Francisco. Two of the alleged victims say they've lost faith in the legal system.

ABC7

NBA vets indicted in alleged multi-million-dollar health insurance fraud scheme

More than a dozen former NBA players have been charged in New York federal court in an alleged multi-million-dollar health insurance fraud scheme to rip off the league's benefit plan, according to an indictment unsealed in the Southern District on Thursday. The 18 former players named in the indictment include alleged scheme ringleader Terrence Williams, selected 11th overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the then-New Jersey Nets, six-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Tony Allen, former Lakers Guard Shannon Brown and Ronald Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who played for the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers over the course of his career.

NBC4

Policy/Legal

California nixes mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug crimes

California's era of mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug crimes will soon expire under new legislation intended to atone for strict sentencing laws hatched during the height of the war on drugs. Beginning next year, state judges will be allowed to ditch mandatory sentencing schedules and assign probation, treatment programs or other alternative punishment for people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

Courthouse News Service

Governor signs bills to curb police misconduct, including Gonzalez's AB 48 on use of rubber bullets, tear gas

Gov. Gavin Newsom this week signed a package of bills into law aimed at cracking down on misconduct by law enforcement, while also setting standards and restrictions on certain uses of force. Most notable among the new laws was Senate Bill 2, which creates a process for decertifying officers who are found to have engaged in misconduct - preventing culpable officers from simply moving to a different law enforcement agency.

Times of San Diego

Los Angeles County/City

LA Council pushes marijuana regulators to clear the haze around license delays

The LA City Council will consider directing the City's Department of Cannabis Regulation to speed up the licensing process for many would-be marijuana retailers. "Stakeholders report waiting months to receive basic licensing responses from DCR," Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price, Jr. said a motion introduced this week. "Hundreds of critical license modification requests remain unprocessed, many almost a year after submission," they said.

NBC4

Former LAPD commander alleges superiors chastised him for military duty

A former Los Angeles police commander is suing the city, alleging he was chastised by Chief Michel Moore for maintaining his Air Force Reserve status and was eventually forced to retire earlier this year because of the department's hostility toward his military service. Edward Prokop's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges discrimination and harassment based on military service.

City News Service

For Los Angeles public safety personnel, could it be the jab or the job?

It's not often that a city commission starts a session with a bang. But that was precisely the case last Tuesday morning, when William Briggs began the weekly meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission by throwing haymakers. Briggs, the president of the civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department, is among the many who've decried the slow pace of coronavirus vaccinations for the more than 12,000 sworn and civilian LAPD employees. Unlike others in upper-crust positions, however, he didn't hold his tongue.

Los Angeles Magazine

County allocates $5 million to combat illegal cannabis grows and dispensaries

In an effort to stop the illegal cannabis grow operations springing up in the Antelope Valley and the illegal dispensaries opening countywide, the Board of Supervisors approved nearly $5 million to address these crises. "Illegal cannabis operations continue to threaten the well-being of our residents, water supply, and environment," Supervisor Barger said. "By empowering and equipping our law enforcement partners with the resources they need, we can better protect our communities."

Kathryn Barger, 5th District Supervisor

Sheriff's deputy fired for allegedly having sex at Universal Studios

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who allegedly had sex while on duty at Universal Studios and mistakenly left his microphone on for a dispatcher to hear has been fired, according to a report. The deputy, who has not been publicly identified, was fired for violating departmental policy during the X-rated encounter in December with a woman near the Bates Motel section of Universal Studios Hollywood, TMZ reported Wednesday.

New York Post

Will a city mandate cause thousands of unvaccinated L.A. cops to walk off the job? We're about to find out

First, Los Angeles Police Department officers flouted rules requiring them to mask up in public. Now, thousands are refusing to take a mandated Covid vaccine. With an October 20th deadline looming to get jabbed or lose their jobs, cops in L.A. are going to extreme lengths to justify their intransigence - from claiming dubious medical and religious exemptions to filing lawsuits in federal court claiming that "forced injection" violates their constitutional rights or is inferior to "natural immunity."

Rolling Stone

LAPD command staff defied Los Angeles Police Chief Moore' directives

On August 12th. LA Times article written by Kevin Rector notes that LAPD Chief of Police Moore told members of the Los Angeles Police Commission that"all Los Angeles Police officers are mandated to wear a face masks whenever in public or in the workplace during the time that they represent themselves as members of the Los Angeles Police Department.

CityWatch

Los Angeles sheriff says he will not enforce vaccine mandate

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he will not force his employees to get vaccinated as required by a mandate the City Council passed on Wednesday. "The issue has become so politicized," Villanueva said on Thursday. "There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated, so I don't want to be in a position to lose 5 percent, 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate"

The Hill

Crime/Public Safety

Deadly hit-and-run highlights increase in stolen cars (Video)

Some 1,200 more cars were stolen in LA city this year, compared to last year. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021.

NBC4

SCV sees rise in property crimes

Local law enforcement officials noted Friday that repeat offenders continue to be a significant factor in their efforts to reduce property crime, which rose in the Santa Clarita Valley over the same time last year, according to a look at August crime data. While violent crimes were down in August compared to the same time last year, and remain relatively low in the SCV, property crimes continue to rise.

The Signal

Records show details about jet pack sightings near LAX (Video)

The NBC4 I-Team has obtained new records that add additional detail to the latest reported "jetpack" sighting near LAX. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

NBC4

Murder by death

There is none so blind, goes the old saw, as he who does not want to see. Witness the intellectual contortions inspired by the FBI's recent release of crime data for 2020. Murders rose 30 percent over 2019's figures, the largest single-year increase since the FBI began compiling the data 60 years ago. There were 21,570 people murdered in the United States last year, almost 5,000 more than the previous year. Our sophisticated betters in the media are at pains to explain this, attributing this horrifying surge in bloodshed to the Covid pandemic, poverty, and, naturally, the ubiquity of guns in our culture.

Jack Dunphy/The Pipeline

FBI Crime Report 2020: See trends in California

Violent and property crimes increased in California last year, according to data released by the FBI in its 2020 uniform crime report. It's a reality that reflects the national trend and rise in homicides. It's also one of the largest increases since the FBI started gathering data in the 1960s. In California, the FBI estimated crime statistics based on reports from the state's law enforcement agencies. The FBI has issued a caution about the crime data coming in at the local levels, however.

Santa Monica Patch

America is losing its Black police officers

When Ray Kelly was appointed commissioner of the New York Police Department, in 1992, he announced that his No. 1 priority was to recruit more Black officers to the force. "Without these actions, there will be increased tension between the communities and the police," Kelly told The New York Times. "Tension leads to hostilities and that will lead to more cries of racism in the department." Kelly was not alone.

The Atlantic

17-year-old victim of human trafficking rescued and given relief services in San Bernardino

A 17-year-old girl, who is believed to be a victim of human trafficking, has been rescued and provided services by investigators from the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, San Bernardino City Unified School Police Department, and federal agencies. Investigators noticed the girl trying to get the attention of male drivers passing by in the 500 Block of North G Street at around 4 p.m. on September 14th.

Crime Voice

California/National

Prosecutors reject charges against 5 suspects in deadly gang-related gunfight in Austin: 'It's just like the Wild West

Five men linked to a deadly gang-related shootout Friday in Austin were released from custody after prosecutors declined to charge each of them with a pair of felonies, including first-degree murder, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Chicago Sun-Times

Professor suspended for not giving Black students easier final exam sues UCLA

A University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor who was suspended and later reinstated for brusquely rebuffing a request to give Black students leniency on their final exams following the death of George Floyd has filed a lawsuit against the school. Gordon Klein, who teaches financial analysis, law, and public policy at UCLA, filed a lawsuit Monday claiming that he suffered financially and emotionally because of the incident.

Newsweek

Recognizing the only female CHP motorcycle officer in California (Video)

Josefina Ruiz is the only female motorcycle with the CHP in the state. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

NBC4

San Diego sued for wrongly confining veteran in state hospital for 20 years

A 72-year-old veteran was mistakenly forcibly committed to a state hospital for 20 years because of nearly two decades of legal malpractice by the San Diego Public Defender's Office, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday. Alan Alter, who served as a marine in the Vietnam War, has struggled with mental illness since he was discharged from the military in 1975, according to this complaint.

Courthouse News Service

Ex-CHP officer receives $2.2 million after agency settles anti-Gay case

A twenty year veteran California Highway Patrol officer who sued the agency after he was forced to leave in January 2015 on medical stress leave after years of constant anti-gay harassment, settled out of court with the CHP for $2.2 million. Jay Brome, agreed to the settlement after a lengthy, contentious legal fight that went through three courts and was set for trial when the agency agreed to settle, the Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.

Los Angeles Blade

San Jose extends COVID vaccination deadline for city workers

San Jose made a last-minute change to its COVID-19 vaccination policy that gives reluctant employees more time to get the jab before punishments start. Thursday was the deadline for city employees to be vaccinated, but Mayor Sam Liccardo said workers will be given a one-week grace period to get their first shot before being placed on a one-week unpaid suspension. Employees who have their first dose by Friday will be given reasonable time to get their shot before being subject to disciplinary action.

San Jose Spotlight

US unveils guidance for federal vaccine mandate, exemptions

With just weeks remaining before federal workers must be vaccinated against Covid-19, the federal government on Monday outlined procedures for employees to request medical or religious exemptions from President Joe Biden's mandate. The Office of Management and Budget released the new guidance Monday afternoon ahead of the Nov. 22 deadline for workers to be fully vaccinated, outlining specific medical conditions that would warrant an exemption.

AP

Jail informant who played central role in takedown of Mexican mafia chief takes own life

A prolific jailhouse informant who played a central role in the takedown of former Orange County Mexican mafia chief Peter Ojeda apparently took his own life in Huntington Beach last month, authorities confirmed. Oscar Daniel Moriel, 40, of Riverside, died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the morning of Sept. 14 in Huntington Beach, according to Jennifer Carey of the Huntington Beach Police Department.

City News Service

FBI raids offices of New York City police sergeants union

Federal agents raided the offices Tuesday of a New York City police union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, and the Long Island home of its bombastic leader, who has clashed with city officials over his incendiary tweets and hard-line tactics. FBI spokesperson Martin Feely said agents were "carrying out a law enforcement action in connection with an ongoing investigation." Agents were seen carrying boxes out of the union's Manhattan headquarters and loading them into a van.

AP

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

Man who killed CHP officer sentenced to 15 years to life in prison

Michael Joseph Callahan, the 39-year-old Winchester resident who was convicted of second-degree murder after running over a California Highway Patrol sergeant in Lake Elsinore in 2019, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on Friday, Oct. 1, in Riverside County Superior Court in French Valley. Callahan faced a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison from Judge Timothy F. Freer.

Southern California News Group

Jury recommends death sentence for man who killed San Diego police officer in 2016

A jury recommended Thursday that a man who opened fire on San Diego police officers in 2016, killing one and wounding the other in the throat, be sentenced to death for his crimes. The same Superior Court jury convicted Jesse Michael Gomez, 57, on charges of first-degree murder and a special-circumstance allegation of killing a police officer, which made Gomez eligible for the death penalty.

San Diego Union-Tribune

L.A. men to plead guilty to federal hate crime charge

Guilty pleas are expected today from two Los Angeles men accused of attacking diners at a family-owned Turkish restaurant while shouting anti-Turkish slurs, hurling chairs at the victims and threatening to kill them. William Stepanyan and Harutyun Chalikyan both agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and a hate crime count. After they enter their pleas to the two felony offenses, the defendants will each face up to 15 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

City News Service

Billionaire Bill Gross found in contempt in neighbor noise dispute

Billionaire bond king Bill Gross and his wife were found in contempt of court for violating a restraining order issued as part of a noise dispute with their Laguna Beach neighbor, and the couple were ordered to spend two days performing community service. Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill officially sentenced the PIMCO founder and his wife to five days in jail, but she said Friday they could serve two of those days performing community service and avoid serving the other three days in custody if they do not commit any other violations in the next year.

MyNewsLA

LA County contract worker pleads not guilty to stealing blank COVID vaccination cards

A former Los Angeles County contract worker on Thursday pleaded not guilty to stealing hundreds of blank vaccination cards from a COVID-19 vaccination center at the Pomona Fairplex. Muhammad Rauf Ahmed, 46, of Las Vegas, was charged June 9 with a felony count of grand theft. Ahmed allegedly stole more than 500 vaccination cards, which have a value of at least $15 each if illegally sold, according to Los Angeles County prosecutors.

City News Service

San Gabriel Valley man sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for role in conspiracy to sell counterfeit laptop computer batteries

A Chinese national who participated in a multimillion-dollar scheme to manufacture, ship and market counterfeit laptop computer batteries and other electronics made in China was sentenced today to 60 months in federal prison. Zoulin "Allen" Cai, 30, of La Puente, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who also ordered the defendant to pay $9,227,543 in restitution and a $25,000 fine.

Department of Justice Press Release

Robber who donned medical masks during string of heists that targeted pharmacies sentenced to over nine years in federal prison

A Riverside County man with a three-decade history of crimes was sentenced this afternoon to 110 months in federal prison for a month-long robbery spree of pharmacies in the Inland Empire while wearing medical masks. David Anthony Battle, 50, of Moreno Valley, was sentenced by United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal after pleading guilty on March 25 to six felony counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery).

Department of Justice Press Release

Beverlywood man pleads guilty to securities fraud, admitting massive Ponzi that falsely claimed to license foreign film rights

A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty this afternoon to a federal securities fraud charge and admitted operating a Ponzi scheme that raised at least $650 million with bogus claims that investor money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix purportedly had agreed to distribute abroad. Zachary Joseph Horwitz, 34, who resides in the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, admitted his fraudulent scheme has caused more than $230 million in losses.

Department of Justice Press Release

Capitol rioter recommended for home confinement given prison stretch instead

In the first instance of a Jan. 6 defendant facing a sentence in excess of the government's recommended punishment, a federal judge sentenced a Texas-based rioter to 45 days in prison on Monday. "Probation and a slap on the wrist does not prevent anyone from trying this again," said U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama appointee. "There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government."

Courthouse News Service

Corrections & Parole

Incarcerated college students at California State Prison, Los Angeles County earn degrees

Today, California State Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC) hosted a graduation ceremony for 25 incarcerated students who earned their Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications Studies through an educational partnership with California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA). Today's graduation was the first of its kind in a state prison from a California State University campus.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation News Release

California prison guard died after reporting corruption

A California prison guard killed himself after reporting corruption and harassment to authorities and cooperating with attorneys suing the state, a newspaper reported Wednesday. Sgt. Kevin Steele, 56, wrote memos to top prison officials early this year in which he said fellow correctional officers in his California State Prison, Sacramento, investigations unit had faked documents and planted drugs and weapons on inmates.

AP

Articles of Interest

Dozens of world leaders stash wealth in secretive offshore system: Pandora Papers

Dozens of current and former world leaders, billionaires, rockstars, and government officials have stashed billions of dollars in secret offshore accounts, according to an investigation conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The trove of documents, called the Pandora Papers, is a collection of nearly 12 million financial records that detail the existence of over 29,000 offshore accounts, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the BBC, and other outlets reported on Sunday.

Business Insider

Macy's sues to block an Amazon ad on the billboard next to its flagship store

Macy's flagship store on 34th Street in Manhattan - arguably the most nation's most prominent department store - is under fresh assault from Amazon, which reportedly wants to advertise on the massive billboard adjacent to the store. And Macy's (M) is fighting back, going to court to argue the company would be "irreparably damaged" by such an ad from its deep pocketed online rival, and claiming it has had the rights for nearly 60 years to stop any other retailer from advertising on the sign.

CNN

More fire prosecutions, but still no personal responsibility

There were headlines all around the state late last month, when local prosecutors filed criminal charges including several counts of manslaughter in Shasta County over deaths in the 2020 Zogg fire, at least partially ignited because of negligence by the state's largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. That fire blazed for about two weeks starting in late September 2020, burning more than 56,000 acres in Shasta and Tehama counties.

California Focus

More than half of America's 100 richest people exploit special trusts to avoid estate taxes

It's well known, at least among tax lawyers and accountants for the ultrawealthy: The estate tax can be easily avoided by exploiting a loophole unwittingly created by Congress three decades ago. By using special trusts, a rarefied group of Americans has taken advantage of this loophole, reducing government revenues and fueling inequality. There is no way for the public to know who uses these special trusts aside from when they've been disclosed in lawsuits or securities filings.

ProPublica

Captured, killed or compromised: CIA admits to losing dozens of informants

Top American counterintelligence officials warned every CIA station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said. The message, in an unusual top-secret cable, said that the CIA's counterintelligence mission center had looked at dozens of cases in the last several years involving foreign informants who had been killed, arrested or most likely compromised.

New York Times

Operator in California oil spill didn't shut down for hours after leak alert, regulators say

Operators of the Southern California oil pipeline that leaked 144,000 gallons of heavy crude into the Pacific Ocean didn't shut it down for more than three hours after an alarm alerted them to the possible breach, federal regulators said. A corrective action order, which federal pipeline and hazardous materials regulators issued to a subsidiary of Amplify Energy Corp. on Monday, includes a timeline that says the subsidiary, Beta Offshore, was alerted to a "low-pressure alarm" that indicated "a possible failure" at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

NBC News

Former police sergeant: BLM, 'defund police movement' reversed diversity trend in police departments

After a heavy defund-the-police push and a surge in violent crimes plaguing cities across America, those cities are seeing a decline in recruiting Black police officers. "It doesn't surprise me. It's unfortunate that we have actually hit this point in American history where if you think about it, since the 90s, we have been on this community policing push where we have been trying to increase our ranks of diverse officers in our communities. It only took five years for the BLM movement and the defund police movement to reverse that whole process," said Texas congressional candidate Tre Pennie told "Fox & Friends."

Fox News

Consumer

Long after Aliso Canyon gas rupture, residents still fear long-term toll on their health

Joannie Summers feels perpetually uneasy living near Aliso Canyon in Porter Ranch. There is the strange laundry-detergent odor she sometimes smells. The people she's known who have died of cancer. The headaches that she never got until a massive gas leak spewed from an underground storage facility in the mountains above her home. "You question everything, and you think, well, maybe I don't have anything," said Summers, 71.

Los Angeles Times

Outage highlights how vital Facebook has become worldwide

The six-hour outage at Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp was a headache for many casual users but far more serious for the millions of people worldwide who rely on the social media sites to run their businesses or communicate with relatives, fellow parents, teachers or neighbors. When all three services went dark Monday, it was a stark reminder of the power and reach of Facebook, which owns the photo-sharing and messaging apps.

AP

Major auto insurers face deadline to refund customers who drove less during pandemic

Billionaire bond king Bill Gross and his wife were sentenced to community service for violating noise order - originally it was 5 days in jail

If you've been driving during the pandemic, some money could be coming your way. California's department of insurance said three major insurance companies in the state have been overcharging customers for auto insurance during the COVID-19 crisis. The companies have a month to explain why, start cutting checks or face potential legal action. The three insurers share a huge part of the California auto insurance market, according to the state insurance commissioner, who said they have charged what he calls pre-pandemic rates to people whose driving habits have declined significantly.

NBC4

Pensions

CalPERS 'watchdog' loses reelection bid as union-backed candidates claim pension board seats

Two union-backed candidates won election to the CalPERS Board of Administration, the retirement system announced Friday. Incumbent David Miller, an environmental scientist and former president of the state scientists' union, won re-election, defeating retired police officer Tiffany Emon-Moran. Jose Luis Pacheco, a San Jose Evergreen Community College District IT administrator, defeated incumbent Margaret Brown, a self-styled board watchdog and retired school administrator.

Sacramento Bee

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