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Woolsey Fire Burns Nuclear Meltdown Site that State Toxics Agency Failed to Clean Up

THE SANTA SUSANA FIELD LABORATORY (ROCKETDYNE) BURNED IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE, THREATENING TOXIC EXPOSURES FROM CONTAMINATED DUST, SMOKE, ASH AND SOIL. THE DEPARTMENT OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL DENIES RISK THAT IT CREATED BY DELAYING THE LONG PROMISED CLEANUP.

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles | November 9, 2018

Last night, the Woolsey fire burned the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), a former nuclear and rocket engine testing site. Footage from local television showed flames surrounding rocket test stands, and the fire’s progress through to Oak Park indicates that much of the toxic site burned.

A statement released by the California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said that its staff, “do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.” The statement failed to assuage community concerns given DTSC’s longtime pattern of misinformation about SSFL’s contamination and its repeated broken promises to clean it up.

“We can’t trust anything that DTSC says,” said West Hills resident Melissa Bumstead, whose young daughter has twice survived leukemia that she blames on SSFL and who has mapped 50 other cases of rare pediatric cancers near the site. Bumstead organized a group called “Parents vs. SSFL” and launched a Change.org petition demanding full cleanup of SSFL that has been signed by over 410,000 people. “DTSC repeatedly minimizes risk from SSFL and has broken every promise it ever made about the SSFL cleanup. Communities throughout the state have also been failed by DTSC. The public has no confidence in this troubled agency,” said Bumstead.

Nuclear reactor accidents, including a famous partial meltdown, tens of thousands of rocket engine tests, and sloppy environmental practices have left SSFL polluted with widespread radioactive and chemical contamination. Government-funded studies indicate increased cancers for offsite populations associated with proximity to the site, and that contamination migrates offsite over EPA levels of concern. In 2010, DTSC signed agreements with the Department of Energy and NASA that committed them to clean up all detectable contamination in their operational areas by 2017. DTSC also in 2010 committed to require Boeing, which owns most of the site, to cleanup to comparable standards. But the cleanup has not yet begun, and DTSC is currently considering proposals that will leave much, if not all, of SSFL’s contamination on site permanently.

Dr. Robert Dodge, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, shares the community’s concerns. “We know what substances are on the site and how hazardous they are. We’re talking about incredibly dangerous radionuclides and toxic chemicals such a trichloroethylene, perchlorate, dioxins and heavy metals. These toxic materials are in SSFL’s soil and vegetation, and when it burns and becomes airborne in smoke and ash, there is real possibility of heightened exposure for area residents.”

Dodge said protective measures recommended during any fire, such as staying indoors and wearing protective face masks, are even more important given the risks associated with SSFL’s contamination. Community members are organizing a campaign on social media to demand that DTSC release a public statement revealing the potential risks of exposure to SSFL contamination related to the fire.

But for residents such as Bumstead, worries will remain until SSFL is fully cleaned up. “When I look at that fire, all I see is other parents’ future heartache,” said Bumstead, “And what I feel is anger that if the DTSC had kept its word, we wouldn’t have these concerns, because the site would be cleaned up by now.”

# # #

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) is the largest chapter of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility and has worked for the full cleanup of SSFL for over 30 years.. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

Parents vs. SSFL is a grassroots group of concerned parents and residents who demand compliance with cleanup agreements signed in 2010 that require a full cleanup of all radioactive and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Contact: Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.org, Melissa Bumstead 818-298-3192* or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net,

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

TSA facial biometric body scanners and government watchlists being used in train stations

MassPrivatel | August 22, 2017

The TSA is winning the war on Americans minds as commuters are being tricked into giving away their rights without a fight.

The above video warns that facial recognition body scanners are coming to a train station near you…

Soon you might have to pass through one of these to get to your train or subway.”

Last week, the TSA  Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority ‘voluntarily’ asked commuters to walk through facial recognition body scanners before being allowed to board a train.

If you watched the video you might have noticed that the mass media (CBS) did not interview a single person who was concerned about their privacy. Instead, they quoted passengers who think body scanners are a good thing.

Nothing suspicious about that, right?

CBS warned that if the LA Metro installs the body scanners next year, commuters won’t be able to opt-out. 

According to an article in the LA Times, the LA Metro has begun piloting biometric body scanners that send short-wave radio frequencies through commuters bodies to search for bombs and weapons.

A ‘pilot program’ is really a government euphemism for gauging the public’s response to another intrusive police search.

Bill Gates bankrolled high speed body scanners

According to an article in ‘The Guardian’, the start-up company Evolv Technology is pilot testing high speed body scanners at the Los Angeles’s Union Station, Union Station in D.C., and the Denver international airport.

Evolv has taken a page right out of the TSA playbook citing safety concerns and fear of terror to justify their usage.

Evolv CEO Michael Ellonbogen said, “I think we need to change our entire take on physical security and knit it into the flow of our daily lives”.

“It’s an unfortunate trend, but physical security is morphing and the problem is worsening”, said Lux Capital’s Bilal.

Corporations are using Americans fears of terror to make huge profits.

Evolv stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars if commuter train stations install their body scanners. A single scanner will cost taxpayers $60,000, while Bill Gates who helped fund Evolv Technoloy makes a nice profit.

Police use our fears of terror to justify losing of our rights

An LA Times article served as a mouthpiece to justify more government spying.

“While we’ll never become a fully secured environment like you’d have in the airport, we do want to find a way to more effectively screen passengers,” Metro security executive Alex Wiggins said. “We are trying to stay ahead of the threat.”

Mr. Wiggins isn’t done scaring the public just yet…

“Transportation is a very soft and attractive target,” said Wiggins,“Given the recent large-scale attacks at transit facilities in Europe, we need to see if there is technology that can screen large number of peoples and focus in on weapons and explosives.

Curiously, the LA Times devoted only one sentence to privacy concerns.

Three months ago, I warned everyone that California Transit Authorities have a history of using corporate spy gear to spy on commuters.

A class action lawsuit in California revealed that Transit Police are using a ‘Bart Watch’ app and Stingray surveillance to allegedly spy on commuters texts and emails.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, the war on terror is a for-profit business being led by private corporations and DHS. (The TSA is part of DHS.)

To learn more I recommend checking out Gary Jacobucci’s article that asked if, ‘DHS is a private offshore corporation.‘ Here are two companies that appear to be fronts for DHS: Homeland Security Solutions and Homeland Security Corporation. (Click here & here to find out more.)

Body scanners use government watchlists 

Evolve uses ‘Known Wolves’, watchlist software that can identify people of interest or anyone on a government watchlist.

“Stay on constant lookout for known wolves and other watchlist individuals using proven facial recognition and human IQ. Integrated video camera provides positive ID for alarm resolution. Send notifications and alerts to mobile team or operations center.”

Getting the public to accept facial recognition body scanners at airports and Disney World is only part of a much greater privacy nightmare.

Evolv’s facial recognition body scanners are being used at public area screenings, sporting events, and employee screenings.

Retail stores and conference centers are also using facial biometric cameras and scanners.

Imagine a future where the police use government watchlists, facial biometric scanners, Stingray cellphone surveillance, Bluetooth, and license plate readers to spy on our every movement.

This is our future unless we fight for our privacy rights.

image credit: CryHavok

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

California Lawmakers Looking To Make Bad Law Worse By Banning ‘False’ Political Speech

By Tim Cushing | TechDirt | March 20, 2017

There’s something to be said for an informed electorate, although it really shouldn’t be elected officials advocating for it. They’d benefit least from people knowing more about sausage and the making thereof. And legislators definitely shouldn’t be robbing the First Amendment to pay for better information, as a few California lawmakers are attempting to do.

A new bill, pointed out by the EFF’s Dave Maass, seems to be a response of sorts to “fake news” and other political detritus of this highly-partisan system. Ostensibly, the bill is aimed at keeping voters from being misled on issues that affect them. The problem is, this bill would allow the government to determine what is or isn’t misleading and apply to a citizen’s social media posts, blog, etc.

California’s existing “political cyberfraud” law (yes, really) already contains wording that forbids cybersquatting, misleading redirects, and otherwise tricking internet users who are seeking information on ballot measures. The existing law is more concerned with acts along the lines of false impersonation and deliberate fraud. The amendment, however, isn’t. It adds a couple of new aspects, both making the bad law worse.

First, the law would no longer be limited to “cyberfraud” related to pending ballot measures. It would expand to protect political candidates from being bested by wily web denizens. Where it really goes downhill is this new clause, which criminalizes even more speech.

SEC. 2.

Section 18320.5 is added to the Elections Code, to read:

It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and willingly make, publish or circulate on an Internet Web site, or cause to be made, published, or circulated in any writing posted on an Internet Web site, a false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote on either of the following:

(a) Any issue submitted to voters at an election.

(b) Any candidate for election to public office.

With this law, opinions and misinterpretations of ballot measures/candidates’ political stances are now illegal acts. The law goes further than simply punishing the writer of false statements. It also aims to punish publishers (which could be read as punishing hosts who would normally be protected by Section 230) and anyone who shares the newly-illegal content. If anything in the original post hints of political leaning, it can be construed as “designed to influence the vote,” which would make most heated political discussions a breeding ground for criminal communications.

It would seem the “victims” listed in the proposed amendment aren’t really in need of a free speech-abusing law. If California’s government doesn’t like the tone of online posts about ballot measures, it has plenty of opportunities (and numerous platforms) to set the record straight. Worse, it gives the government the power to shut down speech it doesn’t agree with under the pretense preventing voters from being misled.

As for political candidates, they rarely suffer the problem of having too little speech. Bullshit can be countered with more speech, a rhetorical weapon everyone has access to, but political candidates in particular tend to be especially well-equipped in this department.

How the original law managed to survive a constitutional challenge remains a mystery. This addition has zero chance of being found constitutional if it somehow manages to become law.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Many States Out of Step with the Constitution on the Use of Force by Police

By José-Antonio Orosco | CounterPunch | July 18, 2016

Recently, President Obama held a town hall meeting to address the growing tension between minority communities and police forces after the shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the police officers in Dallas.  He urged police officers to forge trust with communities and recommended better training and more resources.

Many groups around the country have been asking for better training programs, mandatory body cameras, and other reforms. These may indeed help to reduce shootings of civilians, but a deeper concern has to do with the laws surrounding the use of deadly force by law enforcement. What legal standards exist that police officers can use to defend their actions after the fact?

Last year, Amnesty International conducted an investigation into the legal standards for the use of deadly force by police officers in the United States, comparing them with current Supreme Court rulings and international human rights standards, and found enormous disparities.

* It turns out that nine states and the city of Washington, DC have absolutely no legal standards about when officers may use deadly force in arresting suspects.

* There are no states in the country that comply with international law enforcement standards. The current United Nations standard is that police officers should only use deadly force when it is a last resort, and then, only to prevent grave harm or imminent death to themselves or another person.

* What is even more astounding is that there are 13 states that that do not even comply with current constitutional standards set by the US Supreme Court.  In the 1985 case of Tennessee v. Garner, the Court ruled that police officers may only use deadly force if they have probable cause that the suspect poses significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officers or others.

My home state of Oregon is one of these places out of step with the Constitution, along with the very populated states of New York, New Jersey, Florida, and California.  In Oregon, for instance, police officers are allowed to shoot to kill if the police officers have a reasonable belief that a fleeing suspect has committed a kidnapping, arson, burglary, or indeed, any felony at all, even if the suspect is not posing an immediate threat of death of physical harm. Oregon law does not require that a suspect be given a warning of the use of deadly force, even though such a warning is an international legal standard. Up to 20 states allow police officers to kill a suspect simply for trying to escape prison or jail.

Given this legal framework, incidents of police shootings will not be reduced by body cameras or better training alone since it is the law itself that licenses wide discretion on whom and when police can kill.

This year, at least one state, Missouri, has started working to change that. After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the protests that followed, legislators looked at the use of force provisions (which allowed officers to kill suspects who they believed had committed a felony) and found that it was out of step with the Garner standard.

Everyone who is concerned about the tension in the country and the grievances of the Black Lives Matter movement should press their state lawmakers to ensure that law enforcement officials in their states are at least upholding the US Constitution.

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solitary Confinement Under Attack

By Marjorie Cohn | teleSUR | September 15, 2015

Confirming Frederick Douglass’s adage, “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” prisoners held in solitary confinement for many years in California have won an unprecedented victory. After three hunger strikes, in which tens of thousands of California inmates participated, and a federal class action lawsuit filed on behalf of prisoners by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a landmark settlement was reached. It effectively consigns indefinite solitary confinement in California to the dustbins of shameful history.

More than 500 prisoners had been held in isolation in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay prison for over 10 years, and 78 of them had been there for more than 20 years. They spend 22½ to 24 hours every day in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell, and are denied telephone calls, physical contact with visitors, and vocational, recreational, and educational programs.

Now California prisoners will no longer be sent to the SHU solely based on allegations of gang affiliation, but rather based on infraction of specific serious rules violations. Prisoners will only be put in solitary confinement if they commit a serious offense such as assault or murder in prison, and only after a due process hearing.

And they will be put into solitary for a definite term – no more indeterminate solitary confinement. An estimated 95 percent of California prisoners in solitary confinement based solely on gang affiliation (about 2,000 people) will be released into the general prison population.

The settlement also limits the amount of time a prisoner can spend in the SHU, and provides a two-year step-down program for transfer from SHU to general population. It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 prisoners will be released from SHU within one year of this settlement.

“California’s agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement. “This victory was achieved by efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters.”

The plaintiffs in Ashker v. Governor of California argued that California’s use of prolonged solitary confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and denies the prisoners the right to due process.

The federal district court judge found that prolonged solitary confinement had deprived the plaintiffs of “normal human contact, environmental and sensory stimulation, mental and physical and health, physical exercise, sleep, nutrition, and meaningful activity” which could constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

Although no U.S. court has yet ruled that solitary confinement violates the Eighth Amendment, Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated in a concurring opinion in June that he would likely entertain such an argument in the future. Commenting on the case of a man who had been isolated for 25 years in California, Kennedy told the U.S. Congress in March that solitary confinement “literally drives men mad.”

Indeed, after visiting Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia in 1842, Charles Dickens noted, “The system here, is rigid, strict and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it … to be cruel and wrong … I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body.” Dickens felt that isolation of prisoners was a thing that “no man had the right to inflict upon his fellow creature.”

Juan Mendez, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, concluded that solitary confinement for more than 15 days constitutes torture. He wrote that prolonged solitary confinement violates the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The United States has ratified both of these treaties, making them part of U.S. law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Ireland refused to extradite a man to the United States to face terrorism-related charges earlier this year. The High Court of Ireland worried that he might be held in indefinite isolation in a Colorado “supermax” prison, which would violate the Irish Constitution.

Between 80,000 and 100,000 people are held in some type of isolation in U.S. prisons on any given day, generally in supermax prisons, in 44 states and the federal system. Yet there is no evidence that solitary confinement makes prisons safer, the Government Accountability Office determined in 2013.

Solitary confinement exacerbates mental illness. In Madrid v. Gomez, a U.S. federal court judge wrote that for those with diagnosed mental illness, “placing them in [solitary confinement] is the mental equivalent of putting an asthmatic in a place with little air to breathe.”

Professor Craig Haney described the deprivation of basic human needs of social interaction and environmental stimulation as a “painfully long form of social death.”

The European Court of Human Rights has determined that “complete sensory isolation coupled with complete social isolation can no doubt destroy the personality,” in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Likewise, the Inter American Court of Human Rights has stated that prolonged solitary confinement may violate the American Convention on Human Rights.

Suicide rates in California, New York, and Texas are significantly higher among those held in solitary confinement than in the general prison population. And juveniles are 19 times more likely to take their own lives in isolation than in the general population. Connecticut, Maine, Oklahoma, New York, and West Virginia have banned or put restrictions on solitary confinement of juveniles.

President Barack Obama has asked his Attorney General to “start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons.” Obama said, “The social science shows that an environment like that is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile, potentially more violent.”

The purpose of the penal system is social rehabilitation, according to the ICCPR. In contravention of that mandate, the California legislature has specified that the purpose of sentencing is punishment. Solitary confinement implicitly denies any chance of social rehabilitation. The ICCPR requires that prison guards respect the inherent dignity of every inmate. Prolonged solitary confinement, like other forms of torture, destroys a person’s dignity.

Mendez proposed a worldwide ban on nearly all uses of solitary confinement, which has increased throughout the globe, especially in the context of the “war on terror” and “threats to national security.” He particularly criticized the routine use of isolation in U.S. supermax prisons.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Kennedy quoted Dostoyevsky: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” So one must wonder why the United States refuses to ratify the U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which requires international inspection of prisons.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. She is editor and contributor to “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.” See www.marjoriecohn.com.

September 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Despite Billion-Dollar Budget, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Cancels Project Studying Cancer near Nuclear Facilities

By Ken Broder | AllGov | September 12, 2015

A five-year federal pilot program to determine levels of contamination around eight nuclear facilities in the United States was cancelled this week because, apparently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is already doing such a fine job of oversight.

“The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations,” agency spokesman Scott Burnell wrote in defense of the decision. “The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.”

There is nothing to see, so why waste the time and money. “The NRC determined that continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.”

The cost was $8 million, $1.5 million of which has already been spent. The NRC has a budget of more than $1 billion. Results from the testing were not expected until at least the end of the decade. The study, led by National Academy of Sciences (NAS) researchers, was meant to update a 1990 National Cancer Institute (NCI) report that focused on cancer mortality, with limited occurrence of the disease in two states.

The NRC decided in 2007 to update the report and contacted the NAS to commence a two-phase study of cancer risks in populations living near NRC-licensed facilities. Phase 1 was to determine if doing the study was feasible. The conclusion reached in 2012 was “Yes.”

Phase 2 was to be broken into two parts: planning and execution. The commission killed it on Tuesday. Nuclear sites to be studied included active and decommissioned plants in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. A nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Tennessee was also on the list.

Supporters of the program are not happy. “Study after study in Europe has shown a clear rise in childhood leukemia around operating nuclear power facilities, yet the NRC has decided to hide this vital information from the American public,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.

Folkers blamed nuclear industry manipulation. Beyond Nuclear points to the NRC staff recommendation (pdf) that the commission drop the program. The policy issue document mentions a cheaper, crummier project pitched by the president of the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), but the staff concludes that no study is worth doing.

U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), who pushed for the cancer study in 2009, also did not sound happy. He said,

“We need a thorough, accurate accounting of the health risks associated with living near nuclear facilities so residents can know if there are any adverse health impacts. But the NRC has decided to take a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ approach to this public health concern by ceasing work on what could be a lifesaving cancer risk research study.”

To Learn More:

Cancer Risk Study Canceled at San Onofre (by Morgan Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune )

Regulators Halt Study of Cancer Risks at 7 Nuclear Plants (by Stephen Singer, Associated Press )

NRC Pulls Plug on Cancer Study near Nuclear Plants (by Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times )

Memo on Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations near Nuclear Facilities Study (Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff) (pdf)

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The $ Amount It Took Big Pharma To Strip California Parental Rights

The Edgy Truth | July 2, 2015

SB277 passed. And some political campaigns got richer and more powerful in the mean time. But let’s start with the spin factory. Via Sac Bee :

“We aren’t pushing this bill behind the scenes,” said Priscilla VanderVeer, the senior director for communications for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, the industry’s main trade group. The group has no taken no position on SB 277, although the group has long backed vaccinations as sound public health policy, she said.

This statement from VanderVeer is absolutely absurd and panders to the lowest denominations of our society’s intelligence. Who would believe this stuff? This can’t be real life.

Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat, himself nabbed $95,000 during the 2013-14 year. That’s a serious amount of cash from Pharmaceutical companies who just don’t seem to care about mandatory vaccinations, no? I wonder what policies he supports which they enjoy? It couldn’t be a more transparent situation.

The overall spend from Big Phama was $3 million to lobby legislature, the governor and the state pharmacists’ board. Again, a lot of cash for a group that isn’t “pushing the bill behind the scenes.”

State records show that pharmaceutical companies and trade groups donated more than $2 million to current lawmakers in 2013-2014.

Courtesy of the Sac Bee, this is a total joke. I hope everyone who supported this bill understands what these numbers mean. And when Big Pharma comes calling for more mandatory drugs, like forced SSRI treatment to depressed kids, please understand where it all started.

Pharmaceutical company or group Campaign donations to current state legislators Direct lobbying payments
Johnson & Johnson Inc. $86,300 $583,926
GlaxoSmithKline $32,250 $561,479
Eli Lilly & Company $193,100 $280,863
Gilead Sciences Inc. $77,600 $196,732
Biocom PAC $30,000 $223,224
Sanofi $48,000 $172,500
Abbott Laboratories $173,600 $42,500
Astellas Pharma US Inc. $47,900 $161,440
AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LLP $157,300 $49,583
Merck & Co. Inc. $91,600 $108,204
California Pharmacists Association $53,389 $134,176
Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers Assn. $137,950 $45,455
Eisai Inc. $92,000 $88,000
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company $32,300 $144,101
Pfizer $150,600 $21,250
AbbVie $138,425 $25,530
Amgen $105,600 $45,455
Allergan USA Inc. $120,100 $22,757
Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. $40,000 $83,348
Pharmacy Professionals of California $32,000 $0

TOP DRUG MAKER RECIPIENTS

Lawmaker Party/District Amount
Sen. Richard Pan* D-Sacramento $95,150
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins D-San Diego $90,250
Sen. Ed Hernandez* D-Azusa $67,750
Sen. Holly Mitchell* D-Los Angeles $60,107
Assemblyman Brian Maienschein* R-San Diego $59,879
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León D-Los Angeles $56,648
Sen. Isadore Hall D-Compton $52,400
Sen. Jerry Hill D-San Mateo $50,209
Assemblyman Henry Perea D-Fresno $49,550
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber D-San Diego $47,000
Assemblyman Mike Gatto D-Los Angeles $46,491
Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla* D-Concord $45,600
Sen. Andy Vidak R-Hanford $42,800
Assemblyman Tom Daly D-Anaheim $40,300
Assemblyman Kevin Mullin D-South San Francisco $38,400
Assemblyman Adam Gray D-Merced $37,000
Assemblyman Rob Bonta* D-Alameda $36,750
Assemblyman Anthony Rendon D-Lakewood $36,200
Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez* D-Los Angeles $33,850
Assemblyman Richard Gordon D-Menlo Park $33,100

*Member of the Assembly or Senate health committees

Source: Bee analysis of secretary of state campaign finance and lobbying reports

August 9, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 2 Comments

Police Union Caught Putting GPS On Rival Politician’s Car And Framing Him For DUI

By John Vibes | The Free Thought Project | December 14, 2014

Costa Mesa, California – This week, two former police officers were arrested and charged with felonies after a plot to frame a local politician failed miserably.

Private investigators and former police officers Chris Lanzillo and Scott Impola now face felony charges of illegal use of a tracking device, false imprisonment by deceit, conspiracy to commit a crime and falsely reporting a crime.

The two were not acting independently but were actually hired by Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir of Upland, a law-firm, which at the time represented over 120 police unions across California.

According to prosecutors, local Councilmen Jim Righeimer, Stephen Mensinger and Gary Monahan were targeted by police unions because they had a number of political disagreements, specifically in regards to police budgets.

A lawsuit that was later filed by Righeimer and Mensinger, claimed that the private detectives, working on behalf of the local police unions and their partner law firm, planted a GPS device on Righeimer’s car and attempted to have him wrongfully arrested for driving under the influence.

The incident occurred on August 22 of 2012, when Righeimer left a council meeting and met with Monahan at a nearby bar. The two talked about business and drank a few non-alcoholic beverages and then returned home. However, as soon as Righeimer got home, police knocked on the door and told him that a caller tipped them off that he had driven home drunk. He was then detained by police until they determined that he was not under the influence of alcohol.

Righeimer says that the two men tracked his car with the GPS and followed him, then called 911 to report that he had been drinking when they saw him leaving a bar.

The Costa Mesa Police Officers Association and many police unions throughout the country are known to stalk political opponents in a program known as “candidate research.” In this program, police unions hire private detectives to dig up dirt on politicians so that information can later be used as blackmail. This tactic is employed on political enemies, as well as political allies.

“What kind of world do we live in when the people we give guns and badges to hire private investigators to surveil public officials?” Righeimer said in a statement.

December 14, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

An End to Solitary is Long Overdue

By Marie Levin | CounterPunch | December 9, 2014

Less than two weeks ago the United Nations Committee against Torture issued a report strongly criticizing the U.S. record on a number of issues, among them the extensive use of solitary confinement. While the U.S. uses long-term solitary more than any other country in the world, California uses it more than any other state. It’s one of the few places in the world where someone can be held indefinitely in solitary. This practice is designed to break the human spirit and is condemned as a form of torture under international law.

Despite these repeated condemnations by the U.N., the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is harshening rather than easing its policies, currently with three new sets of regulations. The administration’s iron-fisted strategy is emerging: project the appearance of a reforming system while extending its reach, and restrict the ability of prisoners and their loved ones to organize for their rights.

First, the CDCR has instituted a “Step Down Program” ostensibly to create a pathway out of indefinite solitary. However, the program actually widens the net of who can be considered a threat and therefore eligible for placement in solitary. Recently adopted regulations replace the old language of “gang” with “Security Threat Group” (STG) and the previous list of a dozen identified gangs is now replaced with a dizzying list of over 1500 STGs. Under these new regulations, even family members and others outside the prisons can be designated as part of an STG. Given the fact that indefinite solitary is used disproportionately against people of color – in Pelican Bay, 85% of those in isolation are Latino – the language used to justify placement in solitary eerily mirrors the rhetoric of the federal government and its permanent state of war against its declared enemies, all of whom are people of color.

The CDCR promulgated a second set of rule changes last summer with sweeping new “obscenity” regulations governing mail going both in and out of prisons. The original proposal was to explicitly ban any “publications that indicate an association with groups that are oppositional to authority and society,” yet after coming under heavy criticism, CDCR decided to mask its Orwellian motives by hiding behind the above mentioned language of STGs. This ominous language violates First Amendment rights, and reveals a broader agenda: to censor writings that educate the public about what is actually occurring inside the prisons, and to stifle the intellectual and political education and organizing of prisoners themselves.

A third element of CDCR’s strategy of containment is the implementation of highly intimidating visiting procedures designed to keep family members away from their loved ones. Draconian new visiting regulations authorize the use of dogs and electronic drug detectors to indiscriminately search visitors for contraband, even though both methods are notoriously unreliable. These procedures effectively criminalize family members and deter them from visiting, especially in a period of a growing family-led movement against solitary.

The three new policies are also intended to extend CDCR’s reach beyond the prison walls. As an organizer and family member of a prisoner, I’m censored when sending letters to my brother, Sitawa N. Jamaa, subjected to gratuitous and intimidating searches during visits, and susceptible to being labeled an STG associate. These are all ways that CDCR is trying to keep me from knowing how my brother and others are doing, and to repress my organizing.

Taken individually, these regulations may seem to address unrelated issues. But given they are all coming down simultaneously – just a year after the last of a series of historic hunger strikes by people in California prisons has given rise to the highest level of self-organization and empowerment among imprisoned people since the 1970s – these regulations are nothing less than a systematic attempt to silence and retaliate against prisoners’ growing resistance. Over 30,000 prisoners participated in 2013’s strike, some for 60 days, risking their health and lives for an end to indefinite solitary. Prisoners’ family members and loved ones also took up leadership roles in political organizing in unprecedented ways. The movement to abolish solitary continues to gain momentum around the country.

The hunger strikes were a significant part of an ongoing national sea change regarding the use of solitary, as states are waking up to its dangers. Illinois, Maine and Mississippi have closed or drastically downsized their solitary units without any loss of institutional safety. New York and Arizona were recently forced to reduce their use of isolation, with Colorado and New Jersey following suit.

Yet California steadfastly remains an outlier seemingly impervious to change, led by an administration that relies on tired rhetoric about “the worst of the worst” to justify torture. People locked up in California have a decades-long history of fighting for the rights and dignity of prisoners, affirming their humanity in the face of inhumane conditions and demanding change. The U.N. report calls on this government to “ban prison regimes of solitary confinement such as those in super-maximum security detention facilities.” It’s time for California to listen.

Marie Levin is the sister of Sitawa N. Jamaa, a prisoner in solitary confinement at Tehachapi. She is a member of California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) and Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS).

Mohamed Shehk is the Media and Communications Director of Critical Resistance, and also contributed to this piece.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Professor Fires Off Lengthy Email In Defense Of Student Forbidden From Handing Out Copies Of The Constitution

By Tim Cushing | Techdirt | November 1, 2013

On Constitution Day (Sept. 17th), a student of Modesto Junior College, Robert Van Tuinen, was prevented by Modesto Junior College administration from handing out copies of the Constitution. The college apparently believes free speech is limited to a single small concrete slab on campus, generously named the “Free Speech Zone.” Contrary to the First Amendment (and the state’s laws governing public university policies), MJC restricts free speech to no more than two people per day, subject to approval of the administration.

Van Tuinen set out to challenge the stupidity of this policy and MJC administration obligingly played its part, resulting in a story that spread across blogs and news sites. As a result of its actions, the staff at MJC was “subjected” to insults, death threats, and even worse, an “unfair and negative portrayal” by the media. While no one condones death threats, one would be hard pressed to agree with Jill Stearns, the president of MJC, that the portrayal was “unfair” or that the school’s willingness to place policy above all else, including the Constitution and common sense, wasn’t deserving of a few disparaging remarks.

Shortly after MJC went into damage control, Van Tuinen sued the school for violating his First Amendment rights. Van Tuinen is seeking a permanent injunction against the school’s unconstitutional policies, as well as damages and court costs.

Now the organization that originally brought Van Tuinen’s experience to national attention (FIRE) brings news that a Modesto Junior College professor has written a lengthy email to all Modest Junior College faculty members to call attention to the college’s actions which the administration seemingly wants to let recede into the background.

Professor William J. Holly was kind enough to forward his entire email to me, as well as provide some additional info on California laws governing schools and students’ First Amendment rights, as well as this bizarre and tense interaction with school security over the supposed rule changes President Jill Stearns said were underway.

I do not know what rules are now in effect. Last week I stopped by campus security and asked what the rules now were, and he referred me to ASMJC office on the other campus. I said he must know what the rules are since he was responsible for enforcing the rules. He kept pushing the paper with the name of the office on it, saying he was referring me to that office. It got a little tense because I kept saying he must know the rules and should be able to let us know what the rules are. Finally, he said he was not allowed to discuss this with anyone because they are under litigation. Stearns says the rules are being reviewed. Does that mean there are no rules?

Stearns’ statement says the college is “evaluating its policies and procedures.” It also says this:

There is absolutely no requirement that a student register weeks in advance and hand out his literature only in a small marked area.

There may not be one now, but that requirement was certainly in place back in September.

It also says this.

To those who were offended by the appearance of censorship, we again affirm the commitment of the college and district to civil discourse.

Hilarious. Pity the poor people who took offense at Van Tuinen being accosted by a campus cop and repeatedly told he’d need to get on the waiting list for the Freedom Slab and mistakenly believed it violated his First Amendment rights.

Holly does a wonderful job in his email dismantling Stearns’ non-apology.

[I]t is unclear what she means when she addresses “those who were offended by the appearance of censorship.” Van Tuinen was not subjected to the mere “appearance of censorship.” He was silenced and he was prevented from distributing his literature. That is outright censorship, pure and simple, whether it resulted from a misunderstanding or not.

But Holly’s letter is more than just a deconstruction of Stearns’ statements and MJC’s dubious policies. It’s also a wake-up call directed at his colleagues, many of whom were either unaware of this event or simply stood by and let incident pass by not remarked on.

Dear Colleagues:

The paper attached above (Destructing Causal Deconstruction) exposes some of the absurdities that are committed in the name of “Deconstruction.” I think it is a good read — clear, amusing, imaginative, and instructive. If you ever wondered what “deconstruction” is really about, you would be hard pressed to find a better introduction. One question that I cannot answer, however, is whether or not I would be arrested by a security officer if I insisted on wandering about the quad on our campus, handing out copies of this paper and discussing it with those who might be interested in the topic. This is not a silly question…

Nearly a month ago (Sept. 17th) one of our MJC students, Robert Van Tuinen (also a veteran), was trying to pass out copies of our federal Constitution on Constitution Day. He was prevented in this exercise of free speech by an MJC security officer, and then by an official at the office of Student Services who told him he was allowed freedom of speech and the right to pass out literature only in certain tiny restricted areas on our campus, and then only after booking a reservation — which would not be available until the following month!

I am puzzled why there has been no faculty outcry over this ugly incident. Why are we not standing up for our student who only wanted to exercise his constitutional right to free speech? Do we really want to be known nationwide as the college that wouldn’t let a veteran pass out copies of our Constitution on Constitution Day?

Holly’s not being facetious about “nationwide.” The story was picked up by the Huffington Post, the Washington Times, FOX News, the L.A. Times, along with numerous other well-read sites like Reason, the Daily Caller and National Review Online. But Modesto Junior College itself? Apparently it isn’t interested in providing current or prospective students (or faculty, for that matter) with anything more than the president’s statement.

The First Amendment in pertinent part says, ” Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …” Some have taken this to be a right you have against the Federal Government, but not (say) against the State of California (as though the rights you thought you had simply in virtue of being a citizen of the United States could be nullified by the particular state in which you live). Happily, the point is largely moot because the constitution of California has its own guarantees of rights that largely parallel the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights — including separation of church and state, etc. Guarantees of freedom of expression even exist in parts of the California Code of Education, and even the University of California has a constitution that holds out these rights, and even individual campuses have their own codes regarding such things as Academic Freedom. At CSUS and at PLU, the rules that claim Academic Freedom for faculty make clear that such freedom should extend equally to students!

The most pertinent part of the California Education Code is this section.

66301. (a) Neither the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, the governing board of a community college district, nor an administrator of any campus of those institutions, shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus of those institutions, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.

Considering Van Tuinen’s lawsuit, the directly-following subsection is also relevant.

(b) A student enrolled in an institution, as specified in subdivision (a), at the time that the institution has made or enforced a rule in violation of subdivision (a) may commence a civil action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief as determined by the court. Upon a motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action pursuant to this section.

Given the state law governing the public college, it would appear that MJC’s free speech policies are in violation of state law, not to mention the state’s constitution, even granting a very generous reading of “time, place and manner” wording.

Holly also questions the “formal apology” extended by the school to Van Tuinen. Whatever it was (and no one has seen it but Van Tuinen and administrators), it’s clearly not sufficient.

[W[e are told that a formal apology has been provided the student. It seems to me, however, that apologies in such cases are best made in public. I think Van Tuinen would want a published apology, a public admission that MJC had no right to deny him the exercise of his liberties that they did, and a promise that no other students would have their rights similarly violated. And, since the violation of the rights of one of our fellow citizens violates us all, I believe that we all are entitled to see a copy of that apology, to see the particulars of the concessions made, and to see in what manner those liberties now are affirmed that then were denied.

As Holly points out, the fact that Van Tuinen is proceeding with his lawsuit is a good indicator that the apology offered wasn’t satisfactory.

Holly then goes further, suggesting what should be done, not only to satisfy Van Tuinen, but to make sure other students know their rights are protected and ensure this sort of restriction doesn’t make its way back into the school policies in the future.

In one interview, [Van Tuinen] has said that he is not doing this for the money. I think what he wants is a civil rights victory. That should be easy to give him, especially if President Stearns is right this all has just been a misunderstanding…

If he doesn’t really care about money, if he just wants public acknowledgement that he was wronged, perhaps we should offer this: Buy him a couple thousand copies of the Constitution or of the Bill of Rights, and offer to make the individuals he has sued do community service that is relevant. Make them each do twenty hours of community service that consist of passing out copies of the Constitution and explaining to people the importance of everyone’s right to free speech. That ought to make him whole. And, to show my sincerity, I hereby offer to do 20 hours of such community service myself. Perhaps I too bear part of the responsibility here, because this one flew under my radar too. I did not check to see if my students’ rights to free speech were properly protected. Sometimes the implications of rules just do not strike us until we see them enforced.

Summing things up, Holly asks what some famous free speakers would run into if attempting to speak on MJC’s campus.

Now, if you do not like my suggestion that we should have a policy of completely free, unfettered and unqualified freedom of thought and expression on this campus, just ask yourself this one question: Suppose that Thomas Paine, the great pamphleteer (“These are the times that try men’s souls…”) were to come to MJC. Would you make him show his ID or make an advance appointment? Would you sic campus security and Student Services on him before allowing him to distribute his literature? Hell, what would you do if Jesus came? Would you have Student services tell Him he needs an appointment in advance, that the free speech zone is booked up until next month, and that He needs to confine his speech to the designated free speech zone areas? I say, Let Freedom Reign!

Holly’s effort to light a fire under his colleagues is admirable. Many people are too willing to defer to existing policy, especially if it doesn’t apply directly to them. Van Tuinen pushed back against an unconstitutional policy and has brought the idiocy of campus “Free Speech Zones” back into the national limelight. Holly doesn’t suggest throwing away all restraints on speech (exempting classrooms and faculty offices in order to prevent disruption of educating), but his view of what a “Free Speech Zone” should actually include covers far more area than MJC’s infamous concrete slab.

Holly’s defense of students’ rights is a rarity in institutes of higher learning, many of which seem to believe the restraint of speech somehow creates better students.

Full email posted at link.

November 2, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Biomass Industry Fans Flames of Wildfire Hysteria

By Josh Schlossberg | The Biomass Monitor | September 2013

California’s Rim fire, expected to be fully “contained” by October after igniting in Yosemite National Park on August 17, will ultimately benefit the forests it has passed through. While media accounts sensationalize such large wildfires as “catastrophic” and “disastrous,” science demonstrates that, to the contrary, fire is a vital component of western forest ecosystems.

Journalists mischaracterize the ecological function of wildfire as “devastation” or refer to forests that have experienced fire as a “barren wasteland,” exploiting emotions to sell newspapers. Yet media is only an accomplice to one of the masterminds ultimately responsible for fanning the flames of wildfire hysteria: the biomass energy industry.

Ignoring sound science and common sense, the biomass industry insists that cutting more backcountry forests, including native forests, will somehow prevent wildfires and protect people.  

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the siphoning of even more taxpayer dollars to log and burn forests for energy under the guise of “reduc[ing] the risks of catastrophic wildfires.” In this most recent taxpayer handout to the biomass industry, $1.1 million in grants will be diverted to encourage more biomass incineration in California, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Alaska.

The biomass boosters’ well-worn talking points are laid out perfectly by Julia Levin, director of the Bioenergy Association of California, in a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. Without citing a single scientific study, Levin boldly claims that hacking apart forests to burn for energy would “prevent more Rim Fires,” asserting that keeping chainsaws out a forest is the same thing as letting it go “up in smoke.”

George Wuerthner, ecologist and editor of Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy, explains that instead of stopping fires, logging “typically has little effect on the spread of wildfires.” Contrary to industry and media spin, large fires such as the Rim fire are a product of “high winds, high temperatures, low humidity and severe drought.” These bigger fires are “unstoppable and go out only when the weather changes — not because of a lack of fuels” in a logged forest. 

Wuerthner contends that logging or “thinning” can actually “increase wildfires’ spread and severity by increasing the fine fuels on the ground (slash) and by opening the forest to greater wind and solar penetration, drying fuels faster than in unlogged forests.”

Biomass proponent Levin warns in her op-ed that wildfires have “enormous impacts on public health from the smoke, soot and other emissions.” Yet Levin sees no disconnect in building biomass incinerators that would spew deadly particulate matter into low-income communities twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, at higher levels than most coal plants.

Wildfire can “threaten lives, homes and businesses,” Levin states truthfully, particularly as more forests in the fire plain are opened to development. Yet the industry mouthpiece doesn’t once mention the only action that can actually protect structures from wildfire: maintaining “defensible space” 100-200 feet around a building. Instead, she offers more backcountry logging as the solution.

Levin claims to fret about the impact on climate change from an occasional wildfire, while pushing hard for more biomass incinerators that would pump out more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than some of the dirtiest coal plants in the country.

Recent science demonstrates that big blazes have been typical in western forests for hundreds of years. “If you go back even to the turn of the century, you will find that tens of millions of acres burned annually,” according to Wuerthner. “One researcher in California recently estimated that prior to 1850, an average of 5 million to 6 million acres burned annually in California alone.”

Yet biomass opportunists such as Levin cling to the outdated belief that “wildfires are increasing dramatically in frequency and severity as the result of climate change and overgrown forests.”

It would be unfair to suggest that Levin completely ignores forest ecology in her op-ed. She doesn’t. She just makes up her own version of it to suit industry’s desire to get out the cut, swearing that more intensive logging won’t harm forests, but magically “increase forest ecosystem health.”

That’s just dead wrong, according to ecologist Chad Hanson, director of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute in California. Hanson explains that burned forests “support levels of native biodiversity and total wildlife abundance” equal to or greater than any forest type, including old growth. Burned forests are also the rarest kind of forest, and therefore among the most ecologically important.

Black-backed woodpeckers drill their burrows in standing dead snags, according to Hanson, eventually providing homes for other cavity-nesting species of birds and mammals. Native flowering shrubs thriving in the wake of wildfire attract insects, which feeds species of birds and bats. Shrubs and downed logs provide habitat for small mammals, which become food for raptors like the California spotted owl and northern goshawk. Deer live off the tender new tree growth, bears gorge themselves on the resulting berries and grubs, and Pacific fisher hunt the rodents, while the decaying organic material rejuvenates soils for swiftly regenerating seedlings.

Levin and the biomass industry’s “cure” for our “sick” western forests includes a recent bill passed by the California legislature requiring the Public Utilities Commission to generate up to 50 megawatts of biomass power, which Levin says would be extracted from 300,000 acres of forests over a ten year period.

The director of the Bioenergy Association of California specifically advocates for the construction of the 2.2 megawatt Cabin Creek Biomass Energy Facility in Placer County, California. This proposed facility is currently under legal challenge from Center for Biological Diversity, the environmental organization alleging that the Environmental Impact Report “does not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.”

October 2, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment