Michael Lewis' newest piece of financial disaster tourism came out a few days ago, relating his take on California's Bond problems. Some think that he didn't interview the right experts in the field and that the lesson of the city of Vallejo have already been internalized by city managers. Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy code, governing municipal bankruptcies has been used less than 600 times since 1937. This means that the case law is still relatively undeveloped. Only in 2009 did it become clear that municipalities could void union contracts for public workers. [more inside]
Fans of "The Shield" should learn more about the LAPD's Rampart scandal. Rafael Perez and his cronies were the inspiration for Vic Mackey and the Strike Team. [more inside]
"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that a rubbish dump being created would, in the space of a century, become a protected area. Yet that is exactly what happened to what has come to be known as Glass Beach, just outside Fort Bragg in California." [more inside]
Kudzu and the California Marriage Amendment Proposition 8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: Initiative Constitutional Amendment SECTION I. Title This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage Protection Act." SECTION 2. Article I. Section 7.5 is added to the California Constitution, to read: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. The biggest problem is that laws like the California initiative will make the courts decide who is male and who is female — and all available decision criteria create unavoidable miscarriages of justice that will, or should, dismay initiative proponents. You're probably thinking, about now, that I'm going to exaggerate the sex-definitional 1 problem: Probably, you and everyone you know is unambiguously male or female — or at least has always believed himself or herself to be so, and nobody's challenged that, and nobody's likely to. That's true, absolutely: Only maybe one live birth in 100 has some non-standard sex anatomy, and genetic anomalies are slightly rarer than that. However, let's talk about those 1-in-100 or 1-in-1000 cases — because those could be you, or your aunt, or your best friend — and because our system of law has to deal with 1-in-1000 situations, too.
"The thing I regret most that I cannot change -- except by what I do now -- was drafting the death penalty initiative."
"The way I look at it, what I created can and may already have resulted in the [execution] of an innocent person." Donald Heller is partly responsible for turning California's death row into the most populous and expensive in the nation. So why'd the lawyer known as "Mad Dog" change his mind?
Jeff Stone, a politician from Riverside County, wants 13 conservative Southern California counties to secede and become the country's 51st state.
US Supreme Court finds Cali. law restricting sales of violent videogames to adults violates First Amendment. [more inside]
Last month, California decided to shutter 70 of its 278 state parks. "70in70 is an attempt to create memories before history outpaces us: 70 state parks are slated for closure this year, and we intend to visit each one within the next 70 days."
A camera can survive in the sea, apparently. A man finds camera on the beach, rescues the SD card and puts all of them on flickr in an effort to find the original owner.
In CA-36, Democrat Calls For Blanket Condemnation Of Stunning New Web Ad. Initially, businessman Craig Huey, a tea party Republican, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the Los Angeles County GOP. Eventually, Huey's campaign manager stated, "If I could wave a magic wand and take it down, I would. The video was created by Turn Right USA PAC.
"Theme from Confusion Range" is the first of several music videos, each shot by a different independent director, for LA desert rock band Spindrift's next album "Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1." Songwriter Kirpatrick Thomas, who takes many of his sonic cues from Ennio Morricone said, "the album is an homage to our love of film scoring and the medium which surrounds it." [more inside]
Carleton Watkins (1829-1916) was an early western photographer, notable for his views of San Francisco and Yosemite. Watkins made his images with a custom built "Mammoth" 18x22" glass plate camera. [more inside]
Conditions in California’s overcrowded prisons are so bad that they violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, ordering the state to reduce its prison population by more than 30,000 inmates. [more inside]
The Lazarus File. "In 1986, a young nurse named Sherri Rasmussen was murdered in Los Angeles. Police pinned down no suspects, and the case gradually went cold. It took 23 years—and revolutionary breakthroughs in forensic science—before LAPD detectives could finally assemble the pieces of the puzzle. When they did, they found themselves facing one of the unlikeliest murder suspects in the city’s history." [more inside]
"As Woody Guthrie put it seventy years ago: California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see. / But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot / If you ain't got the do re mi. My father, who risked all our do re mi in pursuit of his own California dream, is a case in point."
Ed Watson and Derence Kernek have been together for forty years (SLYT). Last summer, 78-year-old Ed Watson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His greatest fear is that he will "lose the ability to recognize [his] beloved Derence when he gets on his knee to propose." This is their heartbreaking plea to the California Supreme Court to rethink its refusal to expedite key Proposition 8 hearings.
Hate Man. "How a New York Times reporter dropped out and became a hate evangelist in Berkeley." [more inside]
When the sun goes down, it's time to hit the streets. Dusty is a cat burglar.
As California goes, so goes the country, they used to say. Well, yikes. Golden State, an n+1 piece by Nikil Saval, presents a bleak picture of paralysis and conflicted interests that has rendered "The Bellwether State" all but inoperable. (via Arts & Letters Daily)
"People could stake me and Gov. Perry on the ground and torture us, and we still would not raise taxes."
'Analysis: Texas vs California: A tale of two budget deficits'. 'Texas Governor Rick Perry treated guests to a barbecue lunch paid for by a wealthy businessman. Supporters of California Governor Jerry Brown munched on hot dogs at a union-sponsored picnic. The stark contrast in inaugural menus last month highlights the different approaches the two most populous U.S. states are taking to deal with massive budget deficits. Perry, a Republican, campaigned on the strength of the Texas economy and made political hay of the fact the Lone Star state had avoided California's massive deficit, pegged at $25.4 billion through the upcoming budget year. Now Texas faces a budget deficit estimated as high as $27 billion for the upcoming two-year cycle of 2012-2013. To close the gap, state legislators have proposed steep cuts in funding to education and welfare programs.' [more inside]
Two years ago, Mann says, he had never seen a pot plant. Today, he envisions weGrow becoming the "Wal-Mart of Weed", a vertically integrated chain of big-box stores perfectly positioned to cash in on California's booming marijuana industry as it moves from the shadows to the mainstream. In this "green rush" for semi-legal weed, Mann and his partner Derek Peterson, a 36-year-old investment banker, seek to be the modern equivalents of Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan—the Gold Rush entrepreneurs who made a killing not from mining, but from selling pans, pickaxes, and victuals to the forty-niners.
A box of raisins saves a family from the Nazis. The Pop Laval Foundation in Fresno, CA adds an interesting WWII story to a historical photo from a local raisin processing plant.
176 Horn Lane, Acton, London, probably isn't an address you think of when it comes to death sentences in Arizona and California. It is the home of a small driving school. And Dream Pharma, a mom and pop pharmaceutical wholesaler. [more inside]
"We raise rates only when absolutely necessary to pay the accelerating cost of medical care for our members"
Blue Shield of California seeks rate hikes of as much as 59% for individuals. 'Insurer says the increases result from fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws. The move comes less than a year after Anthem Blue Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39%.''Nearly 1 in 4 of the affected customers will see cumulative increases of more than 50% over five months.''Michael Fraser, a Blue Shield policyholder from San Diego, learned recently that his monthly bill would climb 59%, to $431 from $271.''Anthem's attempt to raise rates by up to 39% led to national outrage and helped President Obama marshal support for his healthcare overhaul. The insurer was ultimately forced to back down, accepting maximum rate hikes of 20%.' [more inside]
"If you get arrested in California, better hope there are no incriminating texts or e-mails or sensitive data stored on your phone. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled [PDF] that police in that state can search the contents of an arrested person's cell phone." [more inside]
California's ailing Republicans: A dying breed? 'Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity. The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor's offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties. California counted more registered Republicans in 1988 than it does today, even though the state population has since grown by about 10 million.''It's been said the future happens first in California, and the state hit a little-noticed milestone this month that will have implications in voting booths for years to come. For the first time, Hispanics account for more than half the students in the state's public schools. They will be tomorrow's voters.' [more inside]
A former magazine writer in his late fifties moves to San Diego and lives on very little money indeed. In the October 1977 issue of The Atlantic, he describes the stratagems behind his thriftiness. [more inside]
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Thursday signed into law a bill that decriminalizes the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The bill reduces simple possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction. via [more inside]
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]
Over fifty years after Los Angeles' first nuclear meltdown, the State of California is finally getting around to decontaminating the radioactive fallout.
"Out of the blue, in the middle of a recession, the phone rang. What would it cost, the caller asked the founder of DonorsChoose.org, to fund every California teacher's wish list posted on the Web site? The founder, Charles Best, thought perhaps the female caller would hang up when he tossed out his best guess: "Something over $1 million," he told her. A day later, Hilda Yao, executive director of the Claire Giannini Fund mailed a check of more than $1.3 million to cover the entire California wish list, 2,233 projects in all, with an extra $100,000 tossed in to help pay for other teacher needs across the country. (DonorsChoose: previously on MeFi) [more inside]
NASA once sent a robot in - and nobody ever saw the machine again or collected any scientific data from it... [more inside]
In honor of 9/02/10, 90210Locations
Pennsylvania Outlaws Shackling of Prisoners Giving Birth. Amnesty International has tried to raise awareness of this issue in the past. [more inside]
8 poeple died on Saturday, August 14th when an off-road truck race driver accidentally veered into the crowd of spectators in California's Mojave Desert. Andrew Therrien , 22, was there and pushed three people out of the way when the truck jumped off course, saving their lives. One of them was his three-year-old daughter. Therrien was killed instantly.
With a ruling scheduled today on Prop 8 — the California ballot measure that took away the right to marry from same-sex couples — Dave Fleischer has an in-depth analysis of all of the polling data on Prop 8, and his findings include some counter-intuitive numbers, like that the confusing wording actually ended up helping the No vote more than the Yes.
This November, California citizens will decide whether or not to legalize the possession, buying and selling of, and recreational use of marijuana. Early polls concerning proposition 19, also known as the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010", reveal a slight majority for legalization, as well as an interesting case of status quo bias. (Previously) [more inside]
Want to fire a teacher in the LA Unified School District? Be prepared to spend several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. [more inside]
A federal judge in California will hear closing arguments today in the landmark legal case that will determine the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban , first approved by voters as Proposition 8 in November 2008. Previously. also Previously. [more inside]
Libraries and commercial publishers have struggled with each other over the skyrocketing costs of academic journals for years. As costs have increased more rapidly than library budgets, the libraries have had to cut journal subscriptions and other acquisitions. The recent recession has necessitated further cuts. Against this backdrop, Nature Publishing Group told the University of California that next year subscription prices would increase 400 percent, with the average annual cost of a journal increasing to $17,479. UC Libraries fought back with a combative letter to UC faculty suggesting that faculty should consider boycotting the journals, and cease submitting or reviewing articles for these journals. NPG responds, saying that UC currently pays unfairly low rates, and that "individual scientists, both within and outside of California are already suffering as a result of [UC]'s unwarranted actions."
1) “But there are other lives to be saved, of people who haven’t done horrible things, who haven’t actually hurt anyone.” 2) "Fix it or lose it."
Arguing Three Strikes. A defense lawyer (and co-founder of Stanford's unique Criminal Defense Clinic), and a tough-on-crime Republican D.A. make for unusual allies in the move to reform California's Three Strikes law. [more inside]
Last August (2009), the "ephemeral artists" of Nothing Happened Here staged a mobile public reading event, meandering around the town of San Luis Obispo, CA with The Reading Chair, and a group of folks reading a variety of stories, poems and tales. The group has planned Typing in Public to take place tomorrow (May 15, 2010), in the same little town. The event is primarily focused on people writing on typewriters around town, but people can also share comments via Twitter, Flickr, or texting the event coordinators. To spark some inspiration, the group has received submissions from a variety of people, including Gerald Casale for Devo, Paul Frommer writing in Na'vi (with translation to English), Dr. James J. Duderstadt, President Emeritus, University Professor of Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, writing on the library as the poster child of the it revolution, and plenty more. [more inside]
Five Californian high school students were sent home on cinco de Mayo for the clothes they were wearing. A vice-principal demanded they turn their shirts inside out so as to not offend other students, calling their clothing incendiary. They refused and, threatened with suspension, left campus. Their offense? Wearing American flag designs on American soil. At least one student believes the five owe everyone an apology for their disrespect.
Yesterday, in a highly split decision with six separate opinions, the United States Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling in Salazar v. Buono. The issue at hand? Whether the location of the Mojave Memorial Cross represented an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The Ninth Circuit decided that it did, but its ruling has been called into question by the high court on several levels. [more inside]