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]
"It's the ultimate Gordian knot ... There is no other system in the world as complex as the Delta." [more inside]
Your dreams of rapping superstardom are stymied by your Scottish sound, so what do you do? Simple: reinvent yourself as a West Coast wild boy, with American accent and history to match. Keeping it real might be murder, but even when it all falls apart, at least you got to tour with Eminem and D12 – and you can salvage something by writing a book about it all.
You may have heard about Romeo Agents, the male employees of the East German Ministry for State Security (also known as MfS or Stasi). They were unleashed on female federal employees in West Germany, with whom they began long-term relations and then began using as sources. That tactic has apparently been used in the United States as well; David Cay Johnston writes about the real legacy of Daryl Gates, the former chief of the LAPD. Gates died Friday. [more inside]
Combination Chinese restaurants-doughnut shops are common sights in California strip malls... But how did they get to be that way? The Atlantic investigates. Strangely enough, most are owned by Cambodians.
After being caught drunk driving on his way back from a gay night club, consistently anti-gay California State Senator Roy Ashburn has publicly come out as being gay.
Jerry Brown announces his candidacy for governor of California. Jerry Brown was derided as "Governor Moonbeam" during his two-term tenure as California's governor in the mid-70s and early 80s. He even had a famous fling with Linda Ronstadt. Later he became a radio-show host and mayor of Oakland, and he's currently California's Democratic attorney general. Brown contrasts his experience with current governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republican candidiate Meg Whitman, saying: [more inside]
Yummy avocados. So delicious...so contentious...and at times...so expensive. Why have prices in the U.S., particularly California, been so high? And why have they dropped? Weather and a bad crop? Or are the causes often more insidious? A one act play sums up one perspective on the situation. [more inside]
In its January 13, 2010 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the public broadcast of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a U.S. District Court case challenging the constitutional validity of California's Proposition 8, despite the ruling of Judge Vaughn Walker. Working directly from court transcripts and first-hand accounts from bloggers who have been present at the trial, marriagetrial.com is re-enacting the trial, to provide a "non-biased, objective presentation" of the case for public benefit.
Carly Fiorina, perhaps best known as the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is attempting to become the Republican candidate for Barbara Boxer's long-time Senate seat. But her nomination isn't sewed up yet; her potential GOP challenger is former Congressman and Stanford Law professor Tom Campbell. So earlier today, Fiorina's campaign released this political attack ad against Campbell. It features her newly-minted acronym "FCINO", it's about six times longer than most political ads, it makes copious use of stock photography, and it stars demon sheep with red glowing eyes. Wait, what?
From The Wild Hunt:
A case coming before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could end up having major legal ramifications for all religious minorities in the United States. Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum has been fighting for years to overturn the State of California’s “five faiths policy”, which limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents. While McCollum has suffered setbacks in his quest, with a California federal district court ruling in early 2009 that he had no standing to bring his suit, he recently gained support on appeal from several civil and religious rights groups who argue that his case should be heard.[more inside]
Frederic, Prinz von Anhalt is running for Governor of California Zsa Zsa Gabor's 9th husband, Frederic, Prinz von Anhalt wants your vote as governor of California. Originally Hans Robert Lichtenberg, the son of a German police officer, he was adopted by the octegenarian Princess Marie von Anhalt. Now he's running for governor, promising to return the good life to California by promoting its world-class "avocados, wine, weather beaches and marijuana." [more inside]
Vernon, California, a tiny city in Los Angeles county, was the personal fiefdom of one family for over 100 years. That all came to an end with the conviction of the town's long-serving mayor, and his wife, for voter fraud. [more inside]