A radical notion: who needs cops? Just pray down crime. But in Newark, where the murder rate has risen over 70% from 2010 to 2011, the approach doesn't seem to be working very well. Privatizing government services has long been a key goal of the American religious right, and as a 2-part new Talk To Action report details (here and here), the push for education vouchers has been orchestrated by right wing funders dedicated to eradicating public schools altogether. But voucher initiatives are presented as secular. Then, there's prayer-based crime fighting, an even more radical privatization scheme:
Tag Archives | California
This takes elaborate ruses to new level. Californian Yupeng Deng used uniforms, IDs, basic training exercises, and military parades in a scam tricking Chinese immigrants into believing they had joined a “special forces reserve” of the U.S. military. The New York Times reports:
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To the Chinese immigrants he recruited, Yupeng Deng was known as Supreme Commander. He offered them United States Army uniforms, conducted training exercises on Sundays, led marches in municipal parades and promised a path toward American citizenship.
The uniforms were real, but Mr. Deng’s U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit was a sham, the authorities said.
On Wednesday, Mr. Deng, 51, was arraigned in Los Angeles County Court on 13 felony charges related to the fake military operation, which concentrated on Chinese immigrants, eager to become American citizens, in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles.
More than 100 immigrants paid upwards of $300 to join the bogus unit, the authorities said, and $120 to renew their memberships each year.
Jason Motlagh writes in TIME:
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On the second floor of the downtown campus, a motley group of students listens to a lecture titled “Palliative and Curative Relief Through a Safe and Effective Herbal Medicine.” Not the sexiest of topics on the face of it, but there’s a catch: this is Oaksterdam University, and the medicine being discussed is marijuana. At “America’s first cannabis college,” in Oakland, Calif., the sallow-faced hippy-skater types that one expects to find sit beside middle-aged professionals in business attire, united in their zeal for the pungent green leaf. No one dares speak out of turn, until instructor Paul Armentano, a marijuana-policy expert, cites a news report that U.S. antidrug authorities plan to legalize pot’s active ingredient exclusively for drug companies’ use. “More stinking profits for Big Business,” mumbles a young man wearing a baseball cap. His classmates groan in agreement.
More than 17,000 students have enrolled since Oaksterdam opened in late 2007.
MIRA MESA — California man upset with his bank for disallowing his requested refinance said he decided to pay off his $6,500 credit card bill entirely with pennies. Thierry Cahez of San Diego County rolled 650,000 pennies in plastic, loaded them into crates and drove the lot to his Mira Mesa bank, KABC-TV, Los Angeles, reported. Cahez was turned away by the bank several times but eventually was sent to a branch with a vault large enough to handle the coins. Cahez said he opted to pay his credit card bill with pennies because he was turned down for a refinance and for the amount of charges and fees on his credit card, KABC-TV said Tuesday.
The geologist [Jim Berkland] who predicted 1989 SF earthquake within 4 days is predicting an earthquake on the west coast within the next month, but more likely between 3.19.11 through 3.26.11. His telltale signs are: rare closeness of the moon to earth (full moon is tomorrow), equinoctial tides on the 20th, earth and groundwater tides -- all of which loosen pressure in the earth. Also, massive fish kills in Redondo Beach and whale beaching.
Gabrielle Rivera, a 23 year old Puerto Rican model, was the decisive winner of the first California Ultimate Laughing Championship in front of over 200 people at the historic Fremont Cinema in San Luis Obispo, California Saturday night.
Rivera was declared “Best Laugher in California 2011.” She triumphed in the “Diabolical laugh,” “Snort laugh,” and “Laugh at Yourself” competitions before defeating 10 contenders in a series of knock down “Laughter Duels.” She said she practices by laughing at herself.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune called the event a “laugh riot” and local TV station KSBY reported that the contest brought smiles to the faces of San Luis Obispo residents.
As the organizer and speaking as a professional laughologist (I’m the director of Laughology, the first feature documentary on laughter), I would never have expected that a model would win the championship. In my (limited) experience, models are usually robots, but this woman really has an authentic, unstoppable laugh.… Read the rest
Sheepish scientists refer to it as a tail, but the appendage dragging behind the male frog recently discovered in Mendocino County is no tail. The little amphibian, known as a coastal tailed frog, is unique among frog and toad species for its comparatively magnificent, let's call it, copulatory organ. The unusual species was found recently for the first time in the 23,780-acre Garcia River Forest, farther south than it has ever been known to exist. Biologists say the 1- to 2-inch-long amphibian has a lot going for it, most notably its genitalia, which can get up to a quarter of the length of its body. But it is less about size than it is motion, as they say. This stream-loving critter apparently wags his tail with admirable dexterity.
Tired of spam e-mails and unwanted pop-ups? This bill will create regulations as to how marketers obtain information about you without your knowledge. The bill still allows web users the option to be tracked by advertisers, just in case you enjoy having marketing companies target you. Los Angeles Times reports:
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The first “do not track” legislation was introduced in Congress on Friday, raising the possibility that Web users will be able to prevent advertisers from recording their online behavior for marketing purposes, similar to the Do Not Call Registry created in 2003.
The bill, called the “Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011,” would give the Federal Trade Commission the right to create regulations that would force online marketers to respect the wishes of users who did not want to be tracked.
“Failure to do so would be considered an unfair or deceptive act punishable by law,” noted a statement from the office of Rep.
Welcome to a world in which suburban, big-box superstores sell all things marijuana-related. With pot nearly decriminalized in California, will the burgeoning retail chain weGrow become the Wal-Mart of weed? From Mother Jones:
On a Sunday in early October, Dhar Mann threw a party at weGrow, his hydroponic marijuana superstore in Oakland, California. Trailed by a three-person video crew from Hempire, the reality-show pilot he’s costarring in, Mann gave sound bites to a pack of reporters as he strutted past Ikea-style displays showcasing products for every stage of indoor cannabis cultivation—from Sun Pulse lightbulbs to $700 grow tents and Bud Candy plant nutrients. “It’s the whole supply chain,” said the fauxhawked 26-year-old, self-assured in a tailored gray suit and red silk tie.
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.… Read the rest
San Francisco has enacted a law prohibiting restaurants from giving toys away with high-fat and sugary meals, including the American staple: the Happy Meal. This was done in hopes that children won’t opt for unhealthy food just because they receive a toy as well. The New York Daily News reports:
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The McDonald’s Happy Meal went the way of Prop. 19 in San Francisco Tuesday when the city’s board of supervisors voted to forbid restaurants from offering toys with meals that contain too much fat and sugar.
Restaurants would also need to provide fruits and vegetables with meals that come with free toys. The city said the measure was an effort to combat childhood obesity.
“We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” Supervisor Eric Mar told the Los Angeles Times. “From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate.”
The rule, scheduled to take effect in December, says that restaurants may include a toy with a meal it contains fewer than 600 calories – food and drink combined — and if less than 35% of the calories come from fat, The Times reported.