California law gives anyone the right to walk into a police department and inspect a wide variety of information, from crime and arrest reports to statistics on officer-misconduct complaints.

But a statewide audit of such access released today shows a wide gap between the law and the reality of what happens when people ask to see public information at California police stations.

Police often violated laws that mandate open access to public records and delayed for weeks the release of ordinary reports, intimidating people who asked for them and researching their backgrounds, according to the audit of more than 200 departments and California Highway Patrol offices, including 63 in the Bay Area.

Written requests for records were sometimes ignored and some departments even refused to accept them.


Full article found here.

Newsy Bits

Dec. 20th, 2006 10:41 am
Some stories in the news are latching onto my brain and not letting me go. The first one is the report that 95% of Americans not only have pre-marital relations, but the level of sex-before-marriage has been steady since the 1950s. This whole lasciviousness of impulsive and spoiled youth cry is total bullshit. But then, we knew that--didn't we?

As I mentioned over at [livejournal.com profile] die7fox's journal, the part that really gets me is this:

Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defended the abstinence-only approach for teenagers.

''One of its values is to help young people delay the onset of sexual activity,'' he said. ''The longer one delays, the fewer lifetime sex partners they have, and the less the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.''

He insisted there was no federal mission against premarital sex among adults.

''Absolutely not,'' Horn said. ''The Bush administration does not believe the government should be regulating or stigmatizing the behavior of adults.''

Horn said he found the high percentages of premarital sex cited in the study to be plausible, and expressed hope that society would not look askance at the small minority that chooses to remain abstinent before marriage.


HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars spent in PUBLIC EDUCATION to promote the choice of "the small minority that chooses to remain abstinent."

What could we accomplish if we spent HUNDREDS of MILLONS of dollars on text books? on paying a living wage to teachers? on health education and awareness of STDs. What if we spent even a tiny portion on that to allow our own scientist and doctors of the CDC to attend the world health conference on AIDS instead of prohibiting them from traveling and participating in the conference because it counters the Administration's policy on abstinence only education?

Oh what a wonderful world this could be.

==

And in other news...a baby was sent through an airport x-ray machine. I can't believe this. I feel sorry for the grandmother as well as the baby, who wasn't harmed in this. However. I have a hard time understanding the lack of comprehension on the part of the adult as to who thought this was a good idea. I suppose I don't know what it is to be that naive. I wouldn't run my dog through that, much less my child. AND...having traveled through LAX several times in my life. That airport is NEVER empty. Why did the hundreds of people around in line not say SOMETHING? This includes passengers and security/airport employees. WHY? It's not their kid so it's not their job? WTF is wrong with these people?

==

It's no secret that the Bay Area has some of the HIGHEST prices for homes/land in the nation. I don't own a house here. I never will be able to afford a house here, short of winning the lottery. I'm content to rent really. My credit thanks to two disastrous marriages and a few other issues is not perfect. To get a loan on my credit would require a WHOPPING down payment or an inflated monthly price on the mortgage, neither of which I'm willing to do. I have to confess I felt a twinge of relief when I read this article saying: "As many as 2.2 million Americans with subpar credit could lose their homes through foreclosure over the next several years."

That would be me. And through foresight and not giving into the pressure of economic slavery by those who insist I MUST have credit cards, mortgages, car payments etc. it won't be me. However, I worry about and feel badly for those who will find themselves out of a house, foreclosed on, credit ruined forever. Because I know far too many that this can happen to and they assess their self-esteem and self-worth according to what someone ELSE says their credit score is.

I'm telling ya, I'm ready for that YURT, off the grid, just enough solar power to run a small fridge and my laptop/cellphone. Well water and a septic tank.
1. Bush admits to the presence of secret CIA prisons. The existence of these prisons has been vehemently denied for far longer than just this presidency.

2. To catch a leaker, Hewlett-Packard's chairwoman spied on the home-phone records of its board of directors. Articles found here and here. I think this is setting the stage for another court battle regarding corporate secrets vs. individual privacy. However, I have to admit the idea of Tom Perkins taking a 'moral high road' is vastly amusing. Even if he weren't a venture capitalist, he is among a select group of vultures who represent a souless lack of professional ethics and morality in this bay.

3. On Monday evening I was commenting to the Enigma about my alarm in the rise of stock-tip oriented SPAM filling my mail box and then I read this and this. Of course I think anyone who would spend money on a stock that arrived unsolicited in their email box is pretty cracked anyway. A fool and his money...A mayonnaise jar in the back garden or a stuffed mattress are both looking pretty good at the moment.
I live in Berkeley, California. In so many ways it lives up to its reputation as a haven for the intellectual elite and the hard-core, left-leaning, hippy-loving, peace-nik haven that it is. However, I have to say, Berkeley is at least honest about itself, its inhabitants, its contradictions and its idiosyncrasies.

This weekend I came across an opinion column in the SF News. It was a different take on the whole Jon Bennett Ramsey issue. It didn't focus so much on the characters and the lurid details as it did the city of Boulder and the contradictions of its society.

First some facts. Boulder is one of the five richest counties in the United States, but it has the lowest rate of charitable giving in Colorado. A decade ago, Tajikistan donated an ornately hand carved Russian Tea House to the city. It cost Tajikistan millions of dollars. In return, Boulder promised to give a cyber cafe to Tajikistan because this Third World city's inhabitants do not have Internet access. More than a decade later, Tajikistan still waits for Boulder to fulfill its promise.


Full article is here.

I've been to Boulder. I loved its location and its atmosphere, but...this article is not the first I've heard of it's Schizophrenic social face. My former boss here lived there five years and attended college there. I have two friends who fled to Berkeley when Boulder got to be too much for them (instead of the other way around). It makes me wonder...if this isn't a factor in how long this case has gone unsolved.
aamusedinatx: (dorothy)
This from my copy of "Good Morning Silicon Valley"

Should the Government wish to revisit this issue, the Court strongly urges it to figure out what the hell it's doing

Turns out Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL acceded to the government's request for their search records a bit too readily (see "Thankfully, we weren't bound by a 'Do no evil' clause in our company charter"). As Google showed us, it was possible to legally and semi-successfully stand against the Department of Justice's worrisome demands for search data. Late Friday afternoon a federal court ruled that Google must comply with the DOJ's request for information about its search index, but only after that request was reduced to 50,000 URLs from one million, its time span narrowed to one week from two months, and its demand for specific search queries removed entirely. In the end, it seemed U.S. District Court Judge James Ware found the DOJ's argument that it needed the data for its defense of the Child Online Pornography Act a bit ... lacking (see "What if we promise not to show the records to Karl Rove?").

"The Government's disclosure of its plans for the sample of URLs is incomplete," Ware wrote in his ruling. "The actual methodology disclosed in the Government's papers as to the search index sample is, in its entirety, as follows: 'A human being will browse a random sample of 5,000-10,000 URLs from Google's index and categorize those sites by content' and from this information, the Government intends to 'estimate . . . the aggregate properties of the websites that search engines have indexed.' The Government's disclosure only describes its methodology for a study to categorize the URLs in Google's search index, and does not disclose a study regarding the effectiveness of filtering software. Absent any explanation of how the 'aggregate properties' of material on the Internet is germane to the underlying litigation, the Government's disclosure as to its planned categorization study is not particularly helpful in determining whether the sample of Google's search index sought is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence in the underlying litigation." In a word, this exercise is clearly a fishing expedition, and not even a particularly well planned one.

Ware went on to question the government’s claim that the search queries at issue here wouldn’t yield any personally identifiable information. “While a user’s search query reading ‘(user name) Stanford Glee Club’ may not raise serious privacy concerns, a user’s search for ‘(user name) third trimester abortion san jose’ may raise certain privacy issues as yet unaddressed by the parties” in the case," he wrote. “This concern, combined with the prevalence of Internet searches for sexually explicit material -- generally not information that anyone wishes to reveal publicly -- gives this court pause as to whether the search queries themselves may constitute potentially sensitive information."


Journal with links found Here.


Mind you I do not have a problem with cracking down on child pornography/ers at all. But as with anything in law, you have to limit the scope to pertain to the issue at hand. Current attitudes that the DoJ or anyone else in DC can do anything it takes to do anything they want has gone beyond ridiculous and in fact hampers them in doing the job they should be doing because they get caught in these round-robin debates in court rather than getting their finger out and actually DOING THEIR JOB. You'd think a bunch of attorneys who presumably have passed the BAR exam and--unlike Harriet Meyers--has kept their membership up--would have a better understanding about what is likely to fly in front of a Judge. It gives me a bit of a giggle that the DoJ seems to assume that because they are the DoJ they OWN the judiciary. That is often NOT the case.
Prosecutors of a Stockton man scheduled to be executed this month alleged for the second time Friday that his lawyers -- one of them Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton -- had submitted forged documents in support of their application for clemency.

Attorneys for Michael Morales offered statements Tuesday from six of the 12 jurors who voted to sentence him to death in 1983, saying they now want Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare his life or that they would not object to clemency. But on Friday, the San Joaquin County district attorney's office submitted statements from five of the jurors saying they had never made any such statements or talked to anyone representing Morales.

Two of the jurors said their names were misspelled on the purported declarations. One said she appeared on a radio program Thursday, opposite one of Morales' lawyers, and reaffirmed her support of the death sentence -- only to learn later that she was one of the jurors identified by the defense as backing clemency.

All five jurors said they still favor executing Morales.


I have to wonder if this article would make news if Kenneth Starr's name wasn't attache to it? It SHOULD, but I have to wonder.
aamusedinatx: (coffeeblack)
An article in this mornings San Francisco Chronicle nets this gem:
Nicola Miner, the daughter of Oracle co-founder Bob Miner, in the biography, "The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison," by Mike Wilson. (The famous subtitle to the book is: "God doesn't think he's Larry Ellison.")


I'm not alone in believing that Ellison is the most ethic and morally bankrupt man in Silicon Valley. (One friend will argue that it is Scott McNealy of SUN, but I think that comes from a more personal grudge).

If you gave me ONE percent of Larry's NET worth and allowed me to invest it in a money market fund. I could live comfortably on the interest alone and never touch the principle. Alas, no one is convinced enough, least of all Larry Ellison, to take me up on that challenge :)

This morning was nice and sunny as I walked the dork doggie and got ready for work. Restless, I decided to walk down a bus stop to the MacArthur BART station to wait for my connecting bus. I'm glad I did. For the first time I saw one of our H2 - Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Zero-emission buses. I knew we had an experimental fleet but I hadn't seen one. This was on the #14 route. I'll have to look that route up and see if I can ride one.

Coretta Scott King has died. I'm saddened by this. I also feel vaguely old. Even though she is my parent's generation not mine, her presence as a figure larger than life in the United States especially on issues such as gender as well as racial equality leaves a hole. In my generation and the one between us, I feel there is a great lack in charismatic leadership especially on those issues. That gap in leadership leaves me with an even larger sense of bereavement.

And there has been a postal shooting like we haven't seen in 10 years :( And, sadly, its right in [livejournal.com profile] stokemom's back yard! EEK. Nat, I hope you're all okay.
Three months before the annual Easter egg roll at the White House, the usually festive event is already taking on a divisive edge because of plans by gay- and lesbian-led families to turn out en masse in hopes of raising their public profile.

The Family Pride Coalition and other organizers envision the April 17 action as a celebration that will earn good will and showcase their families engaging in the annual tradition.
from Yahoo News' "Believe it or Leave it" file:

The authorities running a cemetery near Tel Aviv were bemused to find tourists beating a path to the grave of a 19-year-old British soldier who died in fighting 66 years earlier. His name, engraved on the headstone, was
Harry Potter.


Police in Newcastle, Australia, reported a spate of frozen chickens smashing into house roofs with great force. They suspected a prankster with a powerful catapult.


A Los Angeles taxi-driver found a pouch containing 350,000-dollars' worth of diamonds left in his cab. The driver, an immigrant from
Afghanistan, simply handed them in to the police.</blockquote
I'm catching up on some reading:

Never ask a guy who's in a bubble if he's in a bubble. He can't answer.

Maureen Dowd Column )

(12-16) 10:37 PST HERCULES -- East Bay residents got a small jolt this morning when a 3.4-magnitude earthquake struck just east of Hercules.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor hit at 10:21 a.m. and was centered about 3-1/2 miles beneath the Earth's surface.


I'm so blase about earthquakes and it drives the boys both a little crazy. I felt this jolt my chair as I was typing a frantic email to a key client on their renewal. I barely gave it another thought as I scooched (official term) my chair back over to the right and continued typing.
I love Mark Morford!
Jesus Bans 'Christian' Group
Shocking announcement sends militant Focus on the Family organization into crazed tailspin"


(I'm also embarrassed to say Focus on the Family is a client of ours)

Rock on! Dykes on Bikes(TM)

We are two countries separated by a common language:

UK:

'Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion'

Children won't get the Christian subtext, but unbelievers should keep a sickbag handy during Disney's new epic, writes Polly Toynbee


US:
C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was the product of a Great Britain that had just been through a war of survival. The story neither was about World War II, nor was it an allegory for it, and yet it was informed by the moral absolutes and challenges of the wartime period: There's the presence of darkest evil, which can't be avoided but must be faced head-on.


UK:

Officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on the Tube could face charges, it has emerged.


US:
One day after federal air marshals shot and killed an unarmed airplane passenger in Miami, Florida, the White House defended the marshals' actions.


Europe:
Ms Rice re-iterated that the US did not practise or condone torture, but said she could not rule out future abuse scandals.

"Will there be abuses of policy? That's entirely possible," Ms Rice said at a news conference.

"Just because you're a democracy it doesn't mean that you're perfect."


UK:
Secret evidence that might have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in UK courts, the law lords have ruled.

The decision means the cases of eight detainees facing deportation are expected to be reconsidered by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

It is a victory for eight men who had been held without charge.
The US body which oversees the workings of the internet is being challenged over its handling of the .com domain.

The row concerns the decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to allow the private firm Verisign to maintain control of .com forever.

A trade body for internet businesses says the deal between Icann and Verisign breaks US anti-trust laws.

It has filed a lawsuit against the two parties in San Jose, California.


Forever? Um...a tad optimistic and unfair I think. Still, I mean the US has the right, right? After all Al Gore invented the internet! </ tongue in cheek>

The full BBC.Com article is here



P.S. I *SWEAR* this for fact. Every post I've made today the music I was listening to at the time was a perfect match. This was not calculated, I'd just glance down at the iPod as I finished a post and there.... If you don't believe me, go back through the last 3 or for items in my LJ and see for yourself.
without much success.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/29/MNGG3FVJVP1.DTL

This is happening in North Oakland; a struggling area, but not as bad off as some of the worst sections in the south-east section of the city.

SUMMARY:
Two liquor stores were vandalized by a group of men in suits with bow ties. Then, the same stores were burned a few days later. Accelerants were found and arson was assumed. What I was unsure about, when I read the second article; the news about the fires, was whether they'd been set by the owners or by the same vandals, or other vandals.

Now it appears, in this third article, one of the owners was kidnapped 12 hours before the arson of his store.

All of this to back up the demand "don't sell alcohol to African Americans." (sorry Min, their words not mine)

For one, what about the *REST* of that diverse community. It is populated with whites, hispanics, asians and others.

For another, if you're angry about the toll alcohol is taking on the populace I can appreciate that, if you 'speak' for the African American community how about speaking TOO that community? Why are they threatening and burning stores instead of yanking the community they're so concerned about into alcohol awareness programs?

Are these men actually part of NOI or even Yusef Bey's Muslim Bakery ..."group"? Or is this their convenient costume to avoid drawing attention to other aspects of their selves?

Do they think burning liquor stores out of business means humans of any race will suddenly stop drinking and all will be well with the world?

I just *CAN'T* figure out where their brains are at on this one. Makes no sense to me. "By any means necessary" is exacting a toll on the very community it was supposed to uplift.
Federal law enforcement attempts to use cell phones as tracking devices were rebuked twice this month by lower court judges, who say the government cannot get real time tracking information on citizens without showing probable cause.


Full article here
First a 20 foot porn star in Cardiff, Wales.

Meanwhile the Vatican stands accused of harboring a war criminal and not being very helpful. This from a high placed UN Prosecutor.

And on the other side of the religious coin Simon Wiesenthal has died.

And he huffed...and he puffed...and he got his PR spin machine blown flat to the ground, but even as Rita reaches hurricane strength Bush43 is headed to Gulfport,MS.

Mother and war protester Cindy Sheehan was bodily removed from a platform in New York yesterday since he hadn't secured a permit for a loud speaker. Undaunted she is in Philadelphia today.

I personally question the viability of this article which says there is no 'housing bubble' in San Francisco and in fact our costs for housing are fully justified and in line with economic growth. Come on. The median price for a house in the 5 bay counties just soared to over $660,000 a home.

And, as usual, the Dems can't quite figure out what the fuck to do when it comes to supporting or opposing Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court.
First, a wonderful Morford Column today:
Beer & Porn & Guns & Manicures
How can marketers sell crap to the new, elusive modern male? And just who is he, exactly?

Full article is here. Enjoy, it's good to laugh.

Ebbers got 25 years for his part in the WORLDCOM scandal. All I can say is good riddance to bad rubbish.

And I can't say at all that I am surprised but the UK this morning seems stunned to learn that last Thursday's bombing on the London Underground and bus system is not the work of "foreign" terrorists, but home-grown British Nationals. The Home Secretary is shocked by this news. No doubt it will give the xenophobes UKIPpers more fodder for their anti-immigration diatribe. And the few folks in the US who have sent me information on this, are also shocked because they still think that the UK is a homogenous all white island filled with characters who just like they appear on Masterpiece Theater.

So Bush's drumming about foreign terrorist and nauseum...HA. Bastard.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4661059.stm
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/07/07/tube_explosions/


Already my emails and calls have begun this morning. Friends and Family, and friends of friends. So far, all accounted for, tho I am still awaiting word from the Enigma whose work partner's wife is at Uni London near where the Russel Square/Kings Cross blast was and where the bus was blown up.


What is this? Monday?


I will not be terrorized.

Thanks George W. This sort of crap will only escalate because of what you have gotten us into. Gods help the innocents because they deserve better than this and better than you.
From this morning's San Francisco Chronicle:

BART riders who could find themselves stranded by a strike Friday morning are being warned to start thinking about alternate routes to work -- before Friday morning.

But unless that alternative is hunkering down at home, commuters should expect packed buses and ferries and Bay Bridge traffic tie-ups stretching for miles, as was the case during the last BART strike in 1997.


Fortunately I take the bus more often then BART, but I know several people who reply upon BART on a daily basis.

Full article here.

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