Where the Death Penalty Still Lives. In the U.S., 20 states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment and four others have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 states that remain, only 14 handed down death sentences last year for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just two percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row. [more inside]
Who's Funding Kevin Johnson's Secret Government? — Deadspin's detailed report on a developing scandal involving Sacramento, California mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson's alleged misuse of the power of his office to benefit for-profit charter schools. [more inside]
An 8:44 long timelapse in 4K resolution on Vimeo and YouTube. Includes Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic, Banff, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Acadia, Rocky Mountains, Mesa Verde, Arches, Mount Rainier, Mount Revelstoke and Zion. Also Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, St. Louis, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Plus Mount Rushmore, New Orleans, Toronto, Boston, Calgary, Springdale, Three Rivers, Pagosa Springs, Swift Current, New York, Niagara Falls, Lake Palourde, Keene Lake, Horseshoe Bend, White Mountains, Hobson and the Mississippi River. [more inside]
His homes would give feudal-age rulers property envy. There’s the 28-bedroom, 32-bath, 12,500-square-foot French-inspired home in Brentwood that has an actual moat around it. The 30,000-square-foot European manor in Beverly Park. The 40,000-square-foot home with a 8,500-square-foot guest house in Beverly Hills.
Nearly becoming a teacher, he turned to California and became King of the Megamansion.
Nearly becoming a teacher, he turned to California and became King of the Megamansion.
"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons." Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
Jeff Stone, a politician from Riverside County, wants 13 conservative Southern California counties to secede and become the country's 51st state.
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
The current federal and state budget woes have lead many to create their ideal budgets to keep it all in balance, and now you can try your hand at the push and pull of budgets large and larger. You can be a nation-wide budget hero (toggle-able music) at Marketplace for American Media. The LA Times makes the California budget into buttons, where you can add and subtract whole segments of the budget in a quick-and-dirty attempt at making things even out. Next 10 have created a more detailed budgeting system in their California budget simulator and localized Oakland variation. Too much information to handle? Stockton's budget balancing options cover police, fire community service and public works, with sliding scales of money to spend on each.
In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, stickers and more. [more inside]
The US Clean Air Act makes it illegal to sell highly environmentally-friendly cars in 42 states. Apparently.
New Hampshire approves same-sex unions with bipartisan, if contentious support, recognizing both in- and out-of-state unions and marriages. While New York's Eliot Spitzer follows up on a campaign promise, higher courts in California and Connecticut may make decisions on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage later this year, deciding if a civil union is an adequate legal substitution for marriage.
Jonson takes pictures of The Salton Sea, which is a strange place, like some kind of huge, perpetual, Burning Man, but by a huge, salty, polluted, manmade lake with distant shores, dying fish, has-been resort towns, Salvation Mountain, fundie dinos, fountains of youth, and nice churches. [via mefi projects] [previously] [howdy]
"Everything is foggy. Everything is not clear. He was alive when we got to the other side. And now I have brought him back dead. Whatever hopes we had, that's where they ended." The Summer of the Death of Hilario Guzman (BugMeNot)
"If I allow the fact that I am a Negro to checkmate my will to do, now, I will inevitably form the habit of being defeated".
The Jackie Robinson of architecture. An orphaned African American boy from downtown Los Angeles, Paul Revere Williams wanted to be an architect, and when he mentioned his career goal the high school guidance counselor ”stared at me with as much astonishment as he would have had I proposed a rocket flight to Mars... Whoever heard of a Negro being an architect?”. Therefore, Williams learned to read and draw upside down -- he knew that white clients would not sit next to him -- graduated from USC and in 1924 became the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi. In a 50-year long extraordinary career, he designed landmarks like the Theme restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport (with Welton Becket), the LA County Courthouse, the Hollywood YMCA, Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, restored the Beverly Hills Hotel. Some of his most interesting buildings, like the La Concha Motel in Las Vegas have either been razed to the ground or, like the "Batman house", aka 160 S San Rafael mansion in Pasadena, have been destroyed by fire. Now, Williams' historic Morris Landau House has been cut into 21 separate pieces and sits in a Santa Clarita storage yard, rotting away. More inside.
California holds a "No Hearing Hearing" on Diebold certification. "In June, over 200 people traveled to Sacramento to voice their concerns at a public hearing before a panel of advisors to the Secretary of State on voting systems. Since then, every scheduled meeting of the Voting Systems Panel has been cancelled, and now the Secretary has simply disbanded the VSP without notice, without hearings, without any type of due process." This isn't the only jurisdiction in which Diebold is attempting to circumvent legal requirements - in North Carolina they filed for and received a broad exemption from new disclosure rules recently passed into law. The EFF are now suing to force Diebold to comply with the law. As if that wasn't enough, an official Certification Test (PDF) for Diebold's Optical Scan voting machines confirms an earlier threat analysis test (PDF) that the memory cards on these machines run uncertified and arbitrary executable code, a charge that Diebold has vigorously denied.
Call her Madame. Among the old-timers, the story went like this: a woman known to everyone as Madame came to California from Kentucky with her children and her husband. But once they were in the Gold Rush State, her husband left her. Desperate to find work, she introduced herself to a movie director named D. W. Griffith. He not only cast her in his movie, but the two became friends for life. And with this woman, called Madame Sul-Te-Wan, what we now call Black Hollywood began -- as a new book by historian Donald Bogle explains. (more inside)
"Hubert Selby died often. But he always came back, smiling that beautiful smile of his, and those blue eyes of his... This time he will not be back. My saints have always come from hell, and now, with his passing, there are no more saints". Selby is the author of Last Exit to Brooklyn, (tried for obscenity in England and supported by, among many others, Samuel Beckett and Anthony Burgess), Requiem For a Dream, Song of the Silent Snow. He is being eulogized in the USA and UK, but also, massively (I've just watched a fantastic TV special) in France, where he is much more popular than in his native land (Selby's death was the cover story -- plus pages 2, 3 and 4 -- in the daily Libération today -- .pdf file): Dernière sortie vers la rédemption, L'extase de la dévastation. What makes all this kind of ironic -- in a very Selbyesque way -- is that Selby himself used to say, "I started to die 36 hours before I was born..." (more inside)
The Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, California takes the impeachment question directly to the local street and neighborhood and asks the following question on it's marquee. What is an impeachable offense? Lying to wage war? Or lying about sex? Across the country billboards and marquees have been commonly used to express political sentiment (original link from Buzzflash)
Dog-mauling convicts' adopted Aryan son might be the Night Stalker says the SF Chronicle. This case continues to get weirder. The DA now wants DNA evidence from Paul "Cornfed" Schneider -- the Pelican Bay inmate and Aryan Brotherhood gang leader whose Presa Canario dogs mauled Diane Whipple to death and whose lawyers (convicted in that death) adopted him -- to see if he is the missing link in the decades old "Night Stalker" serial killer case in California. Yeesh.