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24 Feb 2012 08:54


U.S.: Marines killed in helicopter training at California’s Camp Pendleton

  • what Two military helicopters collided in midair Wednesday night. The collision, which happened during a routine training session along the Arizona-California border, killed seven U.S. Marines.
  • why The investigation is still on-going, so officials have not announced the cause of the collision. The crash occurred at night with a lot of dust in the air from the aircraft, limiting visibility. source

08 Feb 2012 20:23


Politics: Big successive days for marriage equality movement

  • yesterday A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down California’s Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban which voters approved in 2008. As we noted, the ruling didn’t endorse same-sex marriage as a right, but said voters had no rational reason to prohibit it; a step forward regardless.
  • today Washington’s state legislature passed, by a vote of 55-43, a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage. The bill will almost assuredly face a legal challenge by opposing advocacy groups, but Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire will likely sign it into law at some point during the next week. source

08 Feb 2012 02:00


Politics: “Judge Reinhardt wrote his opinion for an audience of one: Justice Kennedy”

  • Judge Reinhardt does not hold there is a right to same sex marriage, only that CA had no rational reason to take away the label of marriage for use by gay and lesbian couples after the state had had already given it. By crafting the argument in this way, and making the case that the only reason for passing Prop. 8 was anti-gay animus, Judge Reinhardt has given Justice Kennedy a way to decide the case without embracing a major holding recognizing a right to same sex marriage generally.
  • Rick Hansen • Regarding the nature of the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling on Proposition 8 earlier today. Hansen is suggesting that Judge Reinhardt cast the ruling in an intentionally narrow sense so as to make it easier for Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court’s most notorious swing voter, to uphold it on appeal. The distinction we made earlier could thus affect the future of gay marriage in California. In short, court rulings often possess a strategic, as well as a legal, foundation. source

07 Feb 2012 18:30


Politics: Some important nuance regarding Proposition 8

  • A quick note about today’s prop 8 ruling: While the court did rule in favor of gay marriage, the court did not assert that gay marriage is a fundamental or constitutional right. That’s not the angle the court was coming from, and in fact, it intentionally deferred answering that question. Rather, the ruling rested on two assertions. One, the notion that US Constitution requires a “legitimate reason” for states to pass laws that treat “different classes of people differently.” Two, the fact that “under California statutory law, same-sex couples had all the rights of opposite-sex couples, regardless of their marital status.” Because of this fact, Proposition 8 serves only and exclusively to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.” The court ruled that this isn’t “legitimate reason,” and therefore, is unconstitutional. As we’ll explain later, this nuance has significant implications for future court rulings. source

06 Feb 2012 20:03


U.S.: Amid molestation scandals, parents keep Miramonte Elementary students home

  • 73% of Miramonte students showed up Monday source
  • » And parents were protesting outside: Roughly three dozen parents and supporters protested outside the L.A.-area school Monday, which has been rocked by two shocking but unrelated allegations of sexual molestation. The first case, involving a former teacher accused of doing unspeakable things to his students (note: trigger warning), was shocking enough; the second case, involving a teacher active until last week, only worsened things, as the allegations against him came out only as a result of the first case. The initial allegations did not lead to parents keeping their children home en masse (as the school had over 90 percent attendance throughout last week), but the second case, however, did. Low attendance hurts the school’s funding, so this hurt financially, but the school will also close Tuesday and Wednesday for emergency staff meetings, so the pain could go even deeper for the school. And things might go deeper: A third allegation at a different school in the region led to the arrest of a janitor.

03 Feb 2012 16:31


U.S.: Second teacher accused of molestation at Los Angeles-area school

  • Monday Los Angeles’ Miramonte Elementary School was cast under a pall after unspeakable allegations against one of its third-grade teachers, Mark Berndt, surfaced. We covered the allegations over here. (Note: Trigger warning.) Let’s just say it’s not pretty, and was so bad that his $2.3 million bail was increased tenfold later in the week.
  • Thursday Another student, inspired by the arrest of Berndt, came forward in regards to another teacher at the school. The teacher has been removed from their duties while the investigation continues. Also, word that Berdnt was investigated for molestation in 1994 has surfaced, leading to much anger at the school district. source

29 Jan 2012 10:58


U.S.: Occupy Oakland protests: Arrests, tear gas, tough statements from officials

  • Whenever journalists are arrested/detained for reporting the news, everyone’s freedom is at risk.
  • KGO Radio reporter Kristin Hanes • Discussing her arrest late Saturday as the Occupy Oakland protests flared up. She and Gavin Aronson of Mother Jones were among the over 200 people placed into custody Saturday night, as the Oakland protests reached a new breaking point — including the burning of an American flag. Both mayor Jean Quan and the police were quick to pin negative attention on the protesters: “The Bay Area Occupy Movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground,” Quan said in a statement. However, it’s important to keep in mind the nature of the police actions — including violence towards protesters and the use of tear gas grenades. An OpenSalon writer has a pretty informative first-person piece worth reading, which describes both the nature of the protesters (not as bad as reported) and why things flared up Saturday. source

26 Jan 2012 23:41


U.S.: California’s new “Clean Car” regulations: Necessary or too costly?

  • We can’t afford to wait. We have to act on these issues now. Our projections show continued growth in population and vehicle miles traveled, which will affect air quality for years to come.
  • Mary Nichols, the chairman of the California Air Resources Board • Discussing why new ‘Clean Car’ regulations are necessary. California’s new bill, which would require vehicles to cut down on pollutants by 75 percent, would start in 2015, and the rules would tighten further by 2025. This could be a step in the right direction for such a smog-ridden state, but opponents say that it would hurt consumers and car manufacturers, claiming it raises the price of a new vehicle by $3,200. The new standards could inspire other states to follow suit. source

18 Jan 2012 08:53


Offbeat: A witness to a murder-suicide was able to escape — and she’s only 7 years old.

  • This young girl witnessed a heinous crime, yet she was able to provide great insight into that fateful day. She may be young, but she’s extremely bright, articulate and courageous.
  • Fresno, Calif. Police Department Deputy Chief Keith Foster • Regarding a child who escaped a triple murder-suicide. The 7-year-old was able to leave the scene of this bloody crime unharmed. She had stayed the night at the house of her neighbor, Aide Mendez, the woman police say was behind the murder-suicide. The young girl witnessed at least one of the murders; Mendez allegedly shot her two children and also killed her cousin before killing herself. She also shot and stabbed her husband, but he survived the attack and is recovering in a local hospital. What could have caused Mendez to go through with all of that? While we may not know the complete truth, investigators discovered an iPad video recording of Mendez and her cousin smoking methamphetamine hours before the deadly incident. source

03 Jan 2012 00:18


U.S.: L.A. Arsonist: Suspect arrested, identified, motive explained

  • $2million in damages from 50+ fires set by the alleged arsonist source
  • » The suspect? A 24-year-old German immigrant: The L.A. arson spree, in which cars were used to ignite flames, is still under investigation, but no new fires have been started since their lead suspect has been taken into custody today. “I feel very good that we’ve got the right guy,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. “[The suspect] had the right stuff in his van, and we are confident in the arrest.” The man, Harry Burkhart, is a German immigrant who was reportedly upset about the immigration status of his mother. According to L.A. Weekly, when Burkhart was arrested, he uttered the words “I hate America.” No civilians were hurt during the costly spree.