Tag Archives | California

California Reconsiders Draconian Three-Strikes Prison Sentences

American justice: 17 years behind bars for stealing cigarettes. The Los Angeles Times writes:

A Los Angeles County judge responsible for reconsidering the life prison terms of more than 1,000 offenders sentenced under the state’s three-strikes law began the process at a hearing Monday, reducing the punishments for five inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes.

Among those given shorter sentences was a 74-year-old who has served more than 15 years for possessing $10 worth of drugs and an 81-year-old behind bars for more than 17 years for stealing dozens of packs of cigarettes.

The hearing came three months after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 36, which softened California’s tough three-strikes law and allowed many inmates sentenced for non-serious and nonviolent offenses to ask for shorter prison terms. In Los Angeles County, the hearings are expected to continue through at least much of this year.

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Dorner Surrounded By Police – Gun Battle – Hundreds Of Rounds Fired

BREAKING NEWS, via the LA Times:

“Hundreds of rounds” were exchanged in about half an hour during the gun battle between fugitive former police officer Christopher Dorner and law enforcement officers Tuesday afternoon, sources said.

At least two San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies were wounded, sources said. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Days ago, Dorner broke into a cabin off Route 38, a source said. He allegedly tied up the couple inside and held them hostage until Tuesday morning when he left. It is unclear whether Dorner stole their vehicle or another, but Fish and Wildlife officers knew to be on the lookout for a white pickup truck when they spotted Dorner driving one and attempted to stop him, the source said.

Dorner crashed the truck during the ensuing chase and allegedly exchanged gunfire with the officers as he fled into another cabin, where he was quickly surrounded by San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies.

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‘If Corporations Are People, Can They Ride In The Carpool Lane?’

Kudos to Jonathan Frieman, the California political activist who has come up with a clever way to challenge corporate personhood. From Huffington Post:

The legal classification of corporations as people allows for a whole host of things, from making lawsuits simpler to justifying why Goldman Sachs was able to donate some $4.7 million to American political campaigns during the last election cycle.

But if corporations are people, can one of them ride in your car? And if so, does that qualify you to use the carpool lane?

That’s the question Northern California political activist Jonathan Frieman hoped to have answered when he was pulled over driving in the carpool lane last October on Highway 101 in Marin County. The police officer issued Frieman a nearly $500 ticket for driving by himself in the carpool lane, and Frieman countered that he wasn’t solo because he had stack of documents in the car representing a corporation he had co-founded.

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Marijuana The New Normal In California

California often paves the way for cultural shifts in America and with the front page of the New York Times declaring that marijuana is so common that it might as well be legal in California,  should we expect the whole nation to follow?

Let Colorado and Washington be the marijuana trailblazers. Let them struggle with the messy details of what it means to actually legalize the drug. Marijuana is, as a practical matter, already legal in much of California.

No matter that its recreational use remains technically against the law. Marijuana has, in many parts of this state, become the equivalent of a beer in a paper bag on the streets of Greenwich Village. It is losing whatever stigma it ever had and still has in many parts of the country, including New York City, where the kind of open marijuana use that is common here would attract the attention of any passing law officer.

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Global Corporations Eye The Privatizing Of Highways

As they say, as goes California, so goes the nation. The News Review reports:

It slipped under the public’s radar, but a couple of years ago, Caltrans formed a unique contract that effectively privatized a major Northern California roadway traversed by millions annually. Now, more privatized highway projects might be approved over the next several years as major financial corporations and lobbying groups eye California as a potentially lucrative market for infrastructure, especially highways.

These so-called public-private partnerships, or P3s, are a multibillion-dollar global business. One Swedish corporation has called the United States the “trillion-dollar opportunity” for privatized highways and other public infrastructure.

Critics and union groups, meanwhile, argue that Californians should be wary of privatization of their roads. They remind that the reason California got rid of its P3 laws the first time in 2004 was because of bankruptcies and messy contractual clauses that suggested privatization might not be in the public’s best interest.

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On Fighting Against Hegemonic Urban Development

BayOfRage reveals infrastructure and redevelopment projects in Oakland (and beyond) as a means of reshaping cities for social control:

Further development will not open space for meaningful social activity and will only constrict it — In the slew of development projects coming down the pipe, residents will be free to consume, travel to and from work, or stay inside to not bother anyone.

Mistakes in architecture will never be repeated in future developments. The UC system learned the danger in building large plazas where dissident students could gather during the free speech movement at Berkeley. University of California campuses built since the sixties are subdivided into a number to smaller campuses, to better contain and neutralize student revolt. Housing projects are built to make the space transparent and easily surveillable, often by the administrators of social services. Likewise, we can be entirely sure that the city of Oakland will never allow the construction of another space like Oscar Grant Plaza, where thousands of people were able to gather, meet their needs and organize an assault against capitalism.

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California Outlaws Violating Workers’ And Students’ Electronic Privacy

It blows my mind that companies and universities would require employees and students to hand over the log-ins to their personal email and Facebook accounts — in short, demanding access to people’s love lives, friendships, private conversations, bank accounts, and everything else. TechHive reports:

It’s officially illegal for employers and universities in California to request social media log-in information—that is, user names and passwords for Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail—from employees and students.

On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two privacy bills, Assembly Bill 1844 and Senate Bill 1349. These laws prohibit employers, universities employees, and university representatives from requiring or requesting the social media log-in information of their respective employees, prospective employees, students, prospective students, or student groups.

The privacy question came up earlier this year when reports suggested that employers (and universities) were requiring employees and students give up their log-in credentials. [San Jose Democrat Nora] Campos’ office says that 129 cases relating to employer social media policies are currently before the National Labor Relations Board.

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How Much Does The Right To Vote Cost In California?

It now costs at least three hundred dollars cash (plus days wasted and lost wages.) Via Notes From Class:

California requires a valid driver’s license to exercise the right to vote, and that new residents acquire new tags and registration immediately upon relocation. Documents needed: birth certificate, vehicle registration, smog test, vehicle inspection, statement of facts, divorce papers.

Smog Test: $38
Douglas County Court Records: $26
Registration/License Plate Fees and Taxes: $200
Driver’s License Fee: $40
Estimated Fuel Cost: $6

Actual Cost of California Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, and My Voting Rights: $310

This is why people are so angry, or should be, about being required to present a valid state driver’s license at the polls. The total cost would change, of course, if the potential voter had no car: but so would the time and wages lost to long bus rides to the DMV to get a license. There has to be a way to prevent “voter fraud” without disenfranchising those who are living in poverty.

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