NSA Can Spy on Turned Off Phones—AND USE Camera!

Whether Ed Snowden is a traitor or a patriot is no longer the point. We know that question needs to be asked about Barack Obama. Thanks to Snowden we have found out that the U.S. government have put bugs in our cell phones so they can take pictures in a room—and LISTEN to conversations in a room, even if your phone is turned off. Not a typo. Barack Obama, the sneak, has had the NSA bug your phones, whether they are on or off.

This column is by Kim Komando (her real name) a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who is totally non political. Her radio show is about technology, not politics or public policy. Everyone is concerned about the sneaks that run our government, steal our privacy. Maybe we all need to get a Maxwell Smart “Cone of Silence” if we want private conversations to be private.

nsa fbi obama spying

Can the NSA spy on your phone when it’s turned off?

Kim Komando, 6/14/14

Whether you consider Edward Snowden a traitor or a patriot, before he hit the news most people didn’t give much thought to government spying on everyday citizens. During a recent interview, he said that the NSA has the ability to spy on your smartphone, even if it’s turned off.

Yes, this is exactly what you think it means. The NSA can listen to your conversations and use your camera when you power off your phone. Sounds crazy, but it can happen.

The most likely way is with a type of invisible spying app. Spying apps aren’t anything new; everyone from corporations to hackers to jealous exes use them.

This spying app, though, doesn’t just steal your surfing history, text messages and photos. It also gives the NSA full access to your phone’s microphone and camera.

Your phone basically becomes a bug that tells the NSA everything going on around you. Any conversation you have or any embarrassing thing you do, the NSA will have it recorded.

The worst part is that even if you turned the phone off to be safe, it wouldn’t really be off. The app makes your phone pretend to be off – it turns off the screen, ignores incoming calls and doesn’t respond to button presses – but the spying will still be going on.

Now, if you wanted to have a sensitive conversation without worry, you could remove the phone’s battery. Then the phone would really be off. But, some phones, like the iPhone, don’t have a removable battery.

Here’s when you get to feel like a spy. To truly turn off an iPhone, you have to know how to use the “device firmware upgrade” or DFU, mode. This is what Apple and developers use to install iOS updates, jailbreak a phone or unlock a SIM card.

Don’t worry, you’re not doing any of that. You just want to really turn off your iPhone.

To get into DFU mode, you’ll need an iPhone, USB cord and a computer with iTunes installed.

First, connect the iPhone to your computer using the USB cord and start iTunes. Once iTunes is running, go to the iPhone and hold down the Power button for three seconds, then press the Home button. Hold both buttons and count to 10 seconds.

The phone’s screen will go black, but keep holding the buttons. After the 10 seconds are up, let go of the Power button, but keep the Home button pressed.

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Hold the Home button for another 10 to 15 seconds. When you see a pop-up message in iTunes, you know you’re successfully in DFU mode.

Click here to watch a video of these steps in action.

When you’re ready to get out of DFU mode, hold the Home button and Power button until the Apple logo appears. Then let the phone start like it normally would.

Of course, this turning on and off procedure is a complete hassle. So you might think it’s better to keep the NSA or anyone else from putting the spy app on your phone in the first place. Good idea, but it’s going to be tricky.

The NSA or anyone else after you could slip a spy app on your phone disguised as another legitimate app. This is easier to do on Android phones because they can download apps from third-party sites and Google Play’s review policy is very relaxed.

Apple gadgets can only download from the Apple App Store, and the nefarious sneak would have to get the app past Apple’s reviewers. That’s harder, but still isn’t impossible.

Another concern is that the NSA knows undiscovered bugs in operating systems and common programs that let it collect data without anyone knowing. It turns out the NSA was exploiting the Heartbleed bug to spy on people, so it isn’t that farfetched. And it’s just about impossible for you to stop.

In the worst case, the NSA could pull the same trick it allegedly uses with American-made routers heading overseas. The NSA intercepts a router shipment, puts a backdoor in the software, packages the routers back up and sends them on. Then it can spy on any networks the routers connect to.

I doubt the NSA is doing that to phones coming into the U.S. – it would be a logistical nightmare if nothing else – but you never know.

If you’re really worried about the NSA and spying apps, you might want to look into the new Blackphones. These Android-based phones are built from the ground up with security and privacy in mind.

Of course, once on the market, a Blackphone will set you back $630, so it isn’t for the faint of heart or light of wallet. It might worth it, though, if it keeps the NSA out of your life – for now.

 

Record Low Voter Turnout for November: California’s November Ballot Could Be Shortest Ever

We just finished a primary election with an historic low vote. The November election will bring another historically low voter turnout. There are 11 seats where the incumbent has NO opponent (unless a write in qualifies—and then that candidate will have no money to campaign). There are, at this time 27 races for legislative seats with only one Party on the ballot—so why should folks of the other Party vote. There are ZERO Third Party candidates on the ballot—so why should those folks vote?

The Statewide races will be little noticed. As of June 4—the GOP candidate has no money in the bank to run for Governor, while the incumbent has about $21 million. The same goes for the GOP candidates for Secretary of State, Treasurer, Lt. Governor and even Controller. The Democrats have money and the Republicans have none. This is public record on the Secretary of State web site.

Now we are going to have an historic low number of ballot measures and only a couple will provide any interest. That is not enough to bring out the public to vote. Thanks to those that passed Prop. 14—the Top Two—instead of increasing voter participation, it has tanked the electoral system. Time for repeal.

vote initiative

California’s November Ballot Could Be Shortest Ever

John Myers, KQED, 6/13/14

After months of private maneuvering, polling and even some expensive signature-gathering efforts that appear to have been in vain, November’s statewide ballot in California is looking like the smallest ever when it comes to propositions.

State law requires that ballot measures clear all hurdles at least 131 days before the election; and in the case of Nov. 4, that’s June 26.

In truth, though, there are deadlines that come much earlier — unless the measure is written by the Legislature.

But we’ll come back to that in a minute.

At this juncture, five measures have either qualified for California’s fall ballot or are sure bets to be included; a sixth also has pretty good odds, though it remains in some political limbo at the state Capitol.

Six propositions would be the lowest on any general election ballot since California enacted the direct democracy system in 1911. The low-water mark, to date, for propositions was seven measures in both 2002 and 1916.

The small crop of 2014 measures stands in contrast to the more than four dozen proposed laws that have been in circulation for voter signatures in the 2013 and 2014 cycle.

As of now, only four measures have officially qualified. They include an effort to lift the state’s existing cap on medical malpractice awards; an effort to change how health insurance rates are regulated; a referendum on the state’s first off-reservation Indian casino project; and the expanded state budget rainy day fund crafted by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature.

The fifth likely candidate is an initiative, now in the process of signature verification, to change some nonviolent felony crimes into misdemeanors. The random sampling by elections officials of signatures (PDF) suggests it will be certified for the ballot by the official deadline.

And there may be a sixth measure: a still-being-discussed statewide water bond to replace the $11 billion proposal now sitting on the ballot unless lawmakers recraft it before adjourning at the end of August.

Of the fall 2014 crop, expect the medical malpractice initiative — which also includes drug testing rules for doctors — and the health insurance regulation initiative to be the biggest spending campaigns.

So when will the ballot be officially all set? Well, for the water bond and any other measures crafted by lawmakers, the deadlines get… sorry… fluid.

Although state election law clearly says that no measure may be placed on the ballot within 131 days of the election, don’t forget that legislators and the governor write laws. And they can suspend those laws when it comes to writing ballot measures, as they’ve done time and time again. That means that water bond negotiations — which are expected to produce a smaller and refocused borrowing plan to boost water resources — can continue on for weeks, much to the frustration of elections officials who would have to scramble to print voter guides, ballots, and more.

(In 2011, some noodling over the drop-dead date for lawmakers to create a tax ballot measure seemed to suggest 88 days may be the practical bare minimum — which would give water bond talks until early August.)

Several much talked about proposals look to have fizzled out, at least for 2014, including talk of a marijuana legalization initiative and a unique proposal to split California into six separate states. The reason for those measures missing the mark are many; and keep in mind that in some cases it may be purely tactical, as the November 2016 election — a presidential election — is expected to have a much larger turnout than the gubernatorial election that will be held in a little more than four months.

There’s also a chance of other proposals coming from the Legislature before it adjourns just before Labor Day — notably, that could include a constitutional amendment to allow for the suspension of legislators without pay, an idea born out of the recent Capitol corruption allegations.

That would mean 2014 wouldn’t break a record for fewest propositions. Still, it’s shaping up to be a very lean year for voters to write laws — something Californians have done an awful lot of over the last century.

 

How Obama energy rules hurt, help CA

Thanks to the Obama EPA rules, the high cost of energy will go even higher. Between AB 32 and the EPA rules the California Great Depression of 2014 (U-6 unemployment rate is 16.7%, cash deficit is $8.5 billion, debt is $340 billion and Medicaid is exploding our budget—while the confused government calls all of this a “recovery miracle”). While indigenous California energy will not be affected, we import lots of energy from Oregon and the State of Washington—they get killed—so their price to California will soar.

California, thanks to the confused Guv Brown and the radical Obama, we are about to assure generations of Depression for the former Golden State.

“But the president’s much-more ambitious renewable energy targets of 91.7 percent for the state of Washington and 85.3 percent for Oregon may reduce cheap hydropower availability to California because these states might stop exporting to California — especially during cold snaps or heat waves. This could be devastating for a state energy grid that in coming decades will be forced to rely more on inherently less dependable wind and solar energy supplies.

California doesn’t count hydroelectric power as renewable energy under AB32, its Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. However, the U.S. EPA’s draft new renewable energy targets for each state leave it open whether hydropower will count or not.”

650px-Coal_power_plant_Datteln_2_Crop1

How Obama energy rules hurt, help CA
By Wayne Lusvardi, Calwatchdog, 6/13/14 

On June 2, President Barack Obama announced his new rules to mothball “dirty” coal power plants so as to reduce carbon-dioxide power plant emissions by 30 percent from their 2005 level. He also set voluntary targets for the percentage of renewable energy in each state by 2029.

Coverage generally focused on Obama’s overall proposals rather their specific implications for individual states. But if Western states take Obama’s goals seriously, or if these goals are given some teeth, that could hurt California.

At first glance, it appears the Golden State would fare well under key sections of the president’s plan.

California has no large in-state coal power plants connected to the power grid. While several cities in Los Angeles County get their power from coal-fired power plants in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, their contracts expire by 2020.

There are 80 fossil fuel power plants in California that would be subject to 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide levels from 2005. But normally, they would be retired by 2030 anyways and replaced with more energy-efficient natural gas power plants as well wind and solar power plants.

Furthermore, Obama’s 34.1 percent renewable energy target for California by 2029 seems oddly low. Because of state policies, California is already on course to reach 33 percent by 2020.

But the president’s much-more ambitious renewable energy targets of 91.7 percent for the state of Washington and 85.3 percent for Oregon may reduce cheap hydropower availability to California because these states might stop exporting to California — especially during cold snaps or heat waves. This could be devastating for a state energy grid that in coming decades will be forced to rely more on inherently less dependable wind and solar energy supplies.

California doesn’t count hydroelectric power as renewable energy under AB32, its Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. However, the U.S. EPA’s draft new renewable energy targets for each state leave it open whether hydropower will count or not.

Washington and Oregon, however, would be prone to keep their cheap hydropower in-state to meet their high renewable energy targets. Today, Washington’s and Oregon’s hydropower plants produce 57 percent and 50 percent of their power, respectively.

EPA mandate may reduce some states’ advantages

A central focus of the debate over the AB32 state law is whether the higher energy costs it mandates for California in coming years will spur companies to go to cheaper states or nations. The term used in environmental and regulatory circles for this is “leakage.”

Cara Horowitz — executive director of the Center on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law — says this concern has “been one of the motivations all along for California hoping it wouldn’t have to go it all alone. Leakage is a real risk to California if it continues to be well out in front on the climate change question.”

But if AB32-style mandates such as the EPA rule take effect, then “California becomes less likely to lose business to Texas,” she thinks.

Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, put it another way: “Requiring the use of renewable power and ‘energy efficiency’ is exportable.”

What she means by the term “exportable” is exporting California’s high electrical energy prices to other Western states that now have the competitive advantage of cheap coal, hydro or nuclear power.

States that generate enough electric energy to meet their consumption such as Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah and Texas would have to play by the rules of those Western states that are not self-sustaining: California, Nevada and Colorado.

By keeping the cost of electrical energy high like California in all Western states, there is less likelihood of “leakage” of not just companies but of population to states that no longer have the huge economic advantage of cheaper power.

 

 

South Los Angeles parents leverage California’s empowerment law for reforms.

Thanks to a 2010 State law, parents in California government schools, by majority signatures, can fire teachers, administrators and take over schools—take the management of the schools away from unions?   They could also push for the creation of charter schools—that would allow teachers to be responsive to the parents not a dues collecting union. This could be the salvation of government schools—parents and teachers controlling them rather than a powerful union more interested in owning the system than creating quality education. Unions equal power/control, not quality education.

Passed in 2010, mired in controversy, and loathed by teachers’ unions, the parent trigger provides that if at least half of eligible parents at a low-performing public school sign a petition, local school officials must adopt one of several specified reform models. These include replacing the principal and staff or converting the school to an independently operated charter. After a couple of false starts, Golden State parents have availed themselves of the parent trigger on a handful of occasions over the past two years.”

This will also end the bigotry of unions—since most of the totally failed schools are in the minority communities—bigotry and unions go together—not by word, but by action.

schools reform

The “Trigger” that Wasn’t Pulled

South Los Angeles parents leverage California’s empowerment law for reforms.

Ben Boychuk, City Journal, 6/13/14

Parents and school administrators assembled late last month in the auditorium of West Athens Elementary School in South Los Angeles to sign an unusual agreement. After months of discussions with a group calling itself “Aguilas de West Athens” (Eagles of West Athens), the Los Angeles Unified School District agreed on May 23 to spend $300,000 on a full-time psychologist, a new attendance officer, a part-time social worker, an additional teacher’s assistant, and a few part-time aides for the school. The agreement also commits West Athens to improving student discipline; directing more staff resources to Common Core implementation; and, more broadly, strengthening parent participation on campus in the coming year.

The announcement was significant enough to merit an appearance by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who added his signature to a pair of oversized, ceremonial copies of the agreement. “I actually think this is a remarkable model,” he said. “I’m proud to sign this pledge and this promise to work for youth.” Yet in order to achieve this “remarkable” outcome, parents didn’t need to file any lawsuits, form any picket lines, or hold any rallies or sit-ins. They simply said they were considering a petition campaign under California’s landmark Parent Empowerment Act, also known as the “parent trigger.” Almost immediately, West Athens principal Ruth Castillo and local administrators stopped paying lip service and started listening to what the group of mostly black and Latino parents had to say. West Athens marks the first time parents have effectively used the 2010 parent trigger law without, in fact, using the law.

Passed in 2010, mired in controversy, and loathed by teachers’ unions, the parent trigger provides that if at least half of eligible parents at a low-performing public school sign a petition, local school officials must adopt one of several specified reform models. These include replacing the principal and staff or converting the school to an independently operated charter. After a couple of false starts, Golden State parents have availed themselves of the parent trigger on a handful of occasions over the past two years. The first successful effort attracted national attention in 2012. Parents at Desert Trails Elementary School in Adelanto faced heavy resistance from school administrators, local school board members, and other parents before a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge ordered the district to accept their petition and hand the failing school over to a charter operator. The newly rechristened Desert Trails Preparatory Academy opened last July and completed its first year on May 30.

Other parent groups have stopped short of pulling the trigger, too, but not before beginning serious petition drives. Parents at Lennox Middle School and Haddon Avenue Elementary in L.A. used signed petitions as leverage to persuade administrators to adopt curricular changes and improve school security. Last year, parents at Weigand Elementary School in Watts used the law to force out a recalcitrant and unpopular principal. But West Athens parents told me they were happy to work with Principal Castillo, despite her initial resistance. And all of the parents I spoke with said that they never contemplated following the Adelanto model and converting West Athens to a charter school. They understood that opponents of the parent trigger have portrayed the law as a blunt instrument, less about empowering parents than empowering “private” charter operators. (Charter schools are public schools and the vast majority of charter operators in California are nonprofit organizations.) For the Aguilas de West Athens, their primary concern was ensuring their children have better opportunities than they’ve had. Their refrain: “We just want our kids to go to college.”

“Despite some differences of opinion,” said Winter Hall, one of AWA’s leaders, “whether it be with the school, district, parents, teachers . . . this proves that we are able to sit down, despite all of that, and have a dialogue.” Added Principal Castillo: “It’s been a bumpy road, but it’s about students.” Not all West Athens parents welcomed the May 23 announcement. The morning of the assembly, a group of volunteers allied with United Teachers of Los Angeles handed out flyers emblazoned with “No AWA” to parents and other passersby, inviting them to “come and join us to demand the truth!” Working from a clichéd playbook, the leaflets denounced an agreement that existed only in the imaginations of its opponents. “We do not want to privatize our education!” “These people DO NOT REPRESENT our interests!” “We are fine here!”

West Athens is anything but “fine.” Serving 800 predominantly Latino and black students in the first through fifth grades, the school is one of the worst performers in the district and the state. West Athens scored 721 on the state’s Academic Performance Index last year—30 points below the district average and in the bottom 10 percent of schools statewide. (The statewide API target is 800, on a scale of 400 to 1,000.) The school has been classified as “program improvement” since 2006, which means it has consistently missed state-mandated academic performance goals in reading, math, and science.

Apart from the lagging academic indicators, West Athens also has a serious discipline problem. Hall helped organize Aguilas de West Athens in part because another student had stabbed her daughter, a first grader, in the face with a pencil. And the place looks like one would expect a 40-year-old urban school to look. Shavonn Jones was more blunt. “Walk around the school,” she told me. “It looks like a jail. It’s so bland. There’s no enthusiasm.” Jones, who is also Hall’s sister-in-law, said she attended West Athens and has sent her five children to the school. She described how campus bathrooms were in severe disrepair at the start of the school year. Under a 2004 class action lawsuit settlement, the LAUSD must ensure that every school has clean, functioning bathrooms. (Yes, it took a lawsuit to compel the second largest school district in America to keep its toilets working.) Jones joined the group, she explained, because she hoped to help restore some of the school’s lost luster. “Just because the neighborhood is poor,” she said, “why should the people be treated that way?”

Aguilas de West Athens exists in part because parents became fed up with bureaucratic intransigence, and in part because the Los Angeles-based Parent Revolution gave parents the organizational training and logistical support they needed to succeed. In fact, the proliferation of these “parent unions” at schools across Southern California is the direct result of Parent Revolution’s efforts. Ben Austin, the organization’s executive director, is unapologetic about emulating the tactics of public-employee unions. Over the years, he’s explained how the parent-trigger law gives parents “a seat at the table” in much the same way that the state’s byzantine education code has strengthened and protected teachers. Lately, Austin has come to think of the parent trigger as akin to a strike. Of the West Athens agreement, Austin said, parents could negotiate a satisfactory outcome without using the full force of the law. “The unions don’t go on strike every time,” he said. “They sit down and negotiate. Why shouldn’t parents do the same?” The parent-trigger movement, Austin wrote recently, “isn’t about any particular policy endgame. . . . Different parent unions at different schools in different communities will have different needs. That’s the point.”

After six states quickly adopted laws modeled after California’s, efforts to pass parent-trigger legislation have foundered this year as teachers unions and their allies have tried to make “charter school” into a pejorative. But California’s experience suggests far more innovative possibilities for local reform through parent empowerment. “The real power of the law,” Austin told me, “is just knowing that it’s there.”

Ben Boychuk ([email protected]) is an associate editor of City Journal. His account of the controversy surrounding the parent-trigger law appears in City Journal’s book, The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It.

Worst Bill of the Day: SB 1010—To Allow Leniency/Probation to Cocaine Dealers

I am always shocked when a legislator PROMOTES cocaine use in a minority community. It is even more shocking when you know the Democrat legislator is herself a Black American—why does she want more people in her community using and selling cocaine?   Yes, there are two types of cocaine—so what—both are devastating—neither is good for the individual or society. But here you have SB 1010 which DOUBLES the amount of cocaine someone has on them that constitutes a felony.

Then the bill allows a 400% increase in the amount of cocaine and still allow probation. This promotes drug use in the minority community. Also, the Hollywood Elites that snort cocaine will also be free from police action.   This is a sick bill promoting the frying of brains of minorities, because too many minorities already use cocaine. It has already passed the State Senate—protect society from those that see no problem with hard drugs. Tell your Assembly member to vote against the bigotry of SB 1010.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16843792

Senate Bill No. 1010

 

Introduced by Senator Mitchell
(Principal coauthor: Senator Hancock)
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Ammiano)
(Coauthors: Senators Lara and Leno)
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Hall, Jones-Sawyer, and Quirk, Skinner, and Stone)
February 13, 2014

 

An act to amend Sections 11351.5 and 11470 of the Health and Safety Code, and to amend Section 1203.073 of the Penal Code, relating to controlled substances.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

 

SB 1010, as amended, Mitchell. Cocaine base: penalties.

Existing law provides that every person who possesses for sale or purchases for purposes of sale cocaine base is subject to imprisonment in the state prison for a period of 3, 4, or 5 years.

This bill instead would provide that every person who possesses for sale or purchases for purposes of sale cocaine base is subject to imprisonment in the state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years.

Existing law generally provides that the interest of any registered owner of a boat, airplane, or any vehicle, except as specified, that has been used to facilitate the manufacture of, or possession for sale or sale of, 14.25 grams or more of cocaine base or 28.5 grams or more of cocaine is subject to forfeiture, as specified.

This bill would revise that provision to instead make property that has been used to facilitate the manufacture of, or possession for sale or sale of, 28.5 grams or more of cocaine base or cocaine subject to forfeiture.

Existing law, except in unusual cases, prohibits granting probation or suspending a sentence for persons convicted of specified crimes relating to controlled substances, including possessing for sale a substance containing 57 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine, 14.25 grams of or more of cocaine base, or 57 grams or more of a substance containing at least 5 grams of cocaine base, and transporting or importing for sale, selling, or offering to sell cocaine base.

This bill would delete those provisions and would instead prohibit, except in unusual cases, granting probation or suspending a sentence for persons convicted of possessing for sale or selling a substance containing 28.5 grams or more of cocaine base or 57 grams or more of a substance containing at least 5 grams of cocaine or cocaine base.

By making additional persons eligible for probation, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

Digest Key

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES

Bill Text

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

 

SECTION 1.

This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the California Fair Sentencing Act.

SEC. 2.

(a) The Legislature finds and declares that cocaine hydrochloride (powder cocaine) and cocaine base (crack cocaine) are two forms of the same drug, the effects of which on the human body are so similar that to mete out unequal punishment for the same crime (e.g., possession for sale of a particular form of cocaine), is wholly and cruelly unjust.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to provide that for the purposes of determining appropriate penalties for crimes relating to cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base, including, but not limited to, the crime of possession, possession for sale, or transportation for sale, cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base shall be treated in an identical manner.

SEC. 3.

Section 11351.5 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

11351.5.

Except as otherwise provided in this division, every person who possesses for sale or purchases for purposes of sale cocaine base, which is specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for a period of two, three, or four years.

SEC. 4.

Section 11470 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

The following are subject to forfeiture:

(a) All controlled substances which have been manufactured, distributed, dispensed, or acquired in violation of this division.

(b) All raw materials, products, and equipment of any kind which are used, or intended for use, in manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing, or exporting any controlled substance in violation of this division.

(c) All property except real property or a boat, airplane, or any vehicle which is used, or intended for use, as a container for property described in subdivision (a) or (b).

(d) All books, records, and research products and materials, including formulas, microfilm, tapes, and data which are used, or intended for use, in violation of this division.

(e) The interest of any registered owner of a boat, airplane, or any vehicle other than an implement of husbandry, as defined in Section 36000 of the Vehicle Code, which has been used as an instrument to facilitate the manufacture of, or possession for sale or sale of 14.25 grams or more of heroin, or a substance containing 14.25 grams or more of heroin, or 14.25 grams or more of a substance containing heroin, or 28.5 grams or more of Schedule I controlled substances except marijuana, peyote, or psilocybin; 10 pounds dry weight or more of marijuana, peyote, or psilocybin; or 28.5 grams or more of cocaine, as specified in paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11055, cocaine base as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, or methamphetamine; or a substance containing 28.5 grams or more of cocaine, as specified in paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11055, cocaine base as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, or methamphetamine; or 57 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine, as specified in paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11055, cocaine base as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, or methamphetamine; or 28.5 grams or more of Schedule II controlled substances. No interest in a vehicle which may be lawfully driven on the highway with a class C, class M1, or class M2 license, as prescribed in Section 12804.9 of the Vehicle Code, may be forfeited under this subdivision if there is a community property interest in the vehicle by a person other than the defendant and the vehicle is the sole class C, class M1, or class M2 vehicle available to the defendant’s immediate family.

(f) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, or securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of Section 11351, 11351.5, 11352, 11355, 11359, 11360, 11378, 11378.5, 11379, 11379.5, 11379.6, 11380, 11382, or 11383 of this code, or Section 182 of the Penal Code, or a felony violation of Section 11366.8 of this code, insofar as the offense involves manufacture, sale, possession for sale, offer for sale, or offer to manufacture, or conspiracy to commit at least one of those offenses, if the exchange, violation, or other conduct which is the basis for the forfeiture occurred within five years of the seizure of the property, or the filing of a petition under this chapter, or the issuance of an order of forfeiture of the property, whichever comes first.

(g) The real property of any property owner who is convicted of violating Section 11366, 11366.5, or 11366.6 with respect to that property. However, property which is used as a family residence or for other lawful purposes, or which is owned by two or more persons, one of whom had no knowledge of its unlawful use, shall not be subject to forfeiture.

(h) (1) Subject to the requirements of Section 11488.5 and except as further limited by this subdivision to protect innocent parties who claim a property interest acquired from a defendant, all right, title, and interest in any personal property described in this section shall vest in the state upon commission of the act giving rise to forfeiture under this chapter, if the state or local governmental entity proves a violation of Section 11351, 11351.5, 11352, 11355, 11359, 11360, 11378, 11378.5, 11379, 11379.5, 11379.6, 11380, 11382, or 11383 of this code, or Section 182 of the Penal Code, or a felony violation of Section 11366.8 of this code, insofar as the offense involves the manufacture, sale, possession for sale, offer for sale, offer to manufacture, or conspiracy to commit at least one of those offenses, in accordance with the burden of proof set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (i) of Section 11488.4 or, in the case of cash or negotiable instruments in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), paragraph (4) of subdivision (i) of Section 11488.4.

(2) The operation of the special vesting rule established by this subdivision shall be limited to circumstances where its application will not defeat the claim of any person, including a bona fide purchaser or encumbrancer who, pursuant to Section 11488.5, 11488.6, or 11489, claims an interest in the property seized, notwithstanding that the interest in the property being claimed was acquired from a defendant whose property interest would otherwise have been subject to divestment pursuant to this subdivision.

SEC. 5.

Section 1203.073 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

1203.073.

(a) A person convicted of a felony specified in subdivision (b) may be granted probation only in an unusual case where the interests of justice would best be served. When probation is granted in such a case, the court shall specify on the record and shall enter in the minutes the circumstances indicating that the interests of justice would best be served by such a disposition.

(b) Except as provided in subdivision (a), probation shall not be granted to, nor shall the execution or imposition of sentence be suspended for, any of the following persons:

(1) Any person who is convicted of violating Section 11351 or 11351.5 of the Health and Safety Code by possessing for sale, or Section 11352 of the Health and Safety Code by selling, a substance containing 28.5 grams or more of cocaine as specified in paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11055 of, or cocaine base as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054 of, the Health and Safety Code, or 57 grams or more of a substance containing at least five grams of cocaine as specified in paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11055 of, or cocaine base as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054 of, the Health and Safety Code.

(2) Any person who is convicted of violating Section 11378 of the Health and Safety Code by possessing for sale, or Section 11379 of the Health and Safety Code by selling a substance containing 28.5 grams or more of methamphetamine or 57 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine.

(3) Any person who is convicted of violating subdivision (a) of Section 11379.6 of the Health and Safety Code, except those who manufacture phencyclidine, or who is convicted of an act which is punishable under subdivision (b) of Section 11379.6 of the Health and Safety Code, except those who offer to perform an act which aids in the manufacture of phencyclidine.

(4) Except as otherwise provided in Section 1203.07, any person who is convicted of violating Section 11353 or 11380 of the Health and Safety Code by using, soliciting, inducing, encouraging, or intimidating a minor to manufacture, compound, or sell heroin, cocaine base as specified in paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054 of the Health and Safety Code, cocaine as specified in paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11055 of the Health and Safety Code, or methamphetamine.

(5) Any person convicted of violating Section 11379.6, 11382, or 11383 of the Health and Safety Code with respect to methamphetamine, if he or she has one or more prior convictions for a violation of Section 11378, 11379, 11379.6, 11380, 11382, or 11383 of the Health and Safety Code with respect to methamphetamine.

(c) As used in this section, the term “manufacture” refers to the act of any person who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis.

(d) The existence of any previous conviction or fact which would make a person ineligible for probation under this section shall be alleged in the information or indictment, and either admitted by the defendant in open court, or found to be true by the jury trying the issue of guilt or by the court where guilt is established by a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or by trial by the court sitting without a jury.

SEC. 6.

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

 

85% of Those Getting Vaccine for Whooping Cough—GET Whooping Cough

I am not one those that tell parents not to vaccinate their children. I do believe parents need to know all the facts before any medical procedure is given to their kids. In this case government has been promoting an outbreak of whooping cough and demanding parents get their children vaccinated against the whopping cough. So how well did that work to stop the outbreak of whooping cough? Remember the swine flu epidemic when Gerald Ford was president—it cost tens of millions in lawsuits due to defective vaccines.

Now, we find the best way to GET whooping cough is to take the government recommended vaccine. This is the result of government action, “Of the 621 people who contracted the illness, 85 percent had all their preventative shots — calling into question the efficacy of the vaccine.

“Pertussis vaccines offer high levels of protection within the first year of completing vaccinations,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, a San Diego county public health officer.

Why do we trust government?

Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

Photo courtesy of RambergMediaImages, flickr

Immunized People Getting Whooping Cough

By KPBS , Joanne Faryon, 6/13/14

Most of the people who got whooping cough in San Diego County so far this year were up to date with their immunizations, according to county data.

Of the 621 people who contracted the illness, 85 percent had all their preventative shots — calling into question the efficacy of the vaccine.

“Pertussis vaccines offer high levels of protection within the first year of completing vaccinations,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, a San Diego county public health officer.

“But then the protection decreases over time,” Wooten said.

KPBS and inewsource first raised questions about how well the vaccine worked in 2010, after its statewide analysis of the data showed the majority of people who got the disease were already vaccinated.

When Immunity Fails: The Whooping Cough Epidemic, a documentary co-reported by KPBS and inewsource, examined the worst epidemic in California in 60 years. One that made thousands sick and killed 10 babies.

The investigation led to several scientific studies which found that immunity faded sooner than expected after people were vaccinated.

Wooten said even with decreased immunity, the vaccine helps to lessen the severity of the illness.

Currently, children and teenagers are required to get a total of six shots to be considered up to date.

Of the 621 people who got whooping so far this year, 527 were up-to-date, 67 were not, and the immunization status was unknown for 27.

The vast majority, more than 400, were between 10 and 18 years old.

The number of positive cases so far this year has already surpassed total cases for last year, suggesting 2014 is on track to be as bad or worse than the 2010 epidemic.

 

Los Angeles Expired Parking Meter Fine: $63—Revenue Maker– Not Safety

When you buy gas for your car you are paying taxes so the streets and roads can be fixed. Is it moral for government to charge a fee (parking meters) for the roads and streets you have already paid for? In Los Angeles you can pay more than $3 an hour to park (Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles for instance. But the fine for a parking meter in any part of LA is $63! (not a typo) That is 2000percent more than the cost of parking. The fine is not about public safety. It is part of the way the city lowers it hundreds of millions of debt and deficit. But is this moral?

Steven Vincent leads a group that is negotiating with the city to lower the fine, possibly to $23. If the city does not agree, they will take it to the ballot—and we all know the people will beat City Hall on this. Radical Mayor Garcetti does not want this on the ballot, since when passed, it will prove people, not the special interests and make policy decisions. That takes power away from the unions that own the city of Angels.

Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Group pushes for $23 parking fee cap

BY ALMA FAUSTO, LA Register, 6/13/14

A local grassroots group is trying to change the way the city issues parking fines, and plans to put an initiative on the ballot if local officials don’t embrace their proposed changes.

The group, called Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative, is proposing that the city adopt a $23 cap on parking violations that don’t impact public safety, like those for expired parking meters. The average fine is currently $68, according to the city’s website.

The group also wants to give local agencies a say in their parking regulations, and to channel parking fine money into a separate fund instead of sending it into the general city budget. The fund would be used to improve transportation infrastructure, including fixing sidewalks and street signs.

“In the last few years the tickets have really exploded in frequency and price,” Steven Vincent, co-founder of the group.

Vincent thinks fines are too high, and said they impact poor people the worst. “A meter fine of $63 is about a day’s work at minimum wage, and that’s not reasonable,” he said.

Vincent first organized the group a few years ago to influence a range of parking issues. He’s most interested in fighting what he calls “sticker shock,” the rapidly rising cost of parking where you shouldn’t.

The group started out as just Vincent and a friend, but has grown to include dozens of people passionate about parking.

Around 40 of the group’s members met with city and other agency officials at City Hall on Thursday to discuss the city’s ticketing policy, according to mayor’s office spokeswoman Vicki Curry. The idea of capping parking fines at $23 wasn’t discussed in detail during the meeting, she said.

Mayor Garcetti came to the meeting and said he looks forward to working with the group, Curry said.

Vincent said he felt “optimistic but skeptical” after the meeting about the changes, if any, the city would make.

According to the mayor’s budget, this year more than $160 million was collected from parking violations.

Vincent’s group will meet with officials to come up with a parking reform plan.

If officials reject the plan, some of the group’s members say they may place parking reforms before voters next March.

The Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative website has more than 1,900 petition signatures.

“We think the tickets should be priced to incentivize compliance,” Vincent said.

“Sixty-three dollars is more than we need to incentivize putting money in a meter.”

 

Santa Barbara Supervisors Place Fracking Ban on Ballot

The people of Santa Barbara will have an opportunity in November to allow the creation of thousands of well-paying jobs, billions in revenues to the County and a real economic recovery based on honest jobs, not government handouts. Instead, they will take the road of high taxes, bad government services and joblessness—along with higher energy costs for all Californians.

“The Board of Supervisors also declined to receive and file the “Impact Report on Initiative to Ban “High Intensity Petroleum Operations,'” which the Board had earlier ordered to analyze the effects of the measure. Board members expressed concern that the Report did not correctly describe the scope of the Initiative by claiming that the measure would somehow ban routine maintenance of wells. They noted that this interpretation was at odds with the plain language and purpose of the Initiative.

The Board of Supervisors, while putting this job and revenue killer on the ballot, refused to accept a report—they ordered—that shows current oil drilling and thousands of jobs will be lost that already exist. The rich of Santa Barbara once again prove they hate the middle class and poor.

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

Photo courtesy of secretlondon123, flickr

Supervisors Place Fracking Ban on Ballot
Santa Barbara County Water Guardians, 6/13/14 

The Santa Barbara County Water Guardians are pleased to announce that the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted today unanimously to place their Initiative to Ban High-Intensity Petroleum Operations on the November 2014 ballot. The Water Guardians had gathered approximately 16,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot, which is 3,000 more than were needed. If passed, the Initiative would ban fracking, cyclic steam injection, and other forms of extreme oil well stimulation in the unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County.

The Board of Supervisors also declined to receive and file the “Impact Report on Initiative to Ban “High Intensity Petroleum Operations,'” which the Board had earlier ordered to analyze the effects of the measure. Board members expressed concern that the Report did not correctly describe the scope of the Initiative by claiming that the measure would somehow ban routine maintenance of wells. They noted that this interpretation was at odds with the plain language and purpose of the Initiative.

Board members also criticized the Report for not addressing the positive effect the Initiative would have on the environment. The Report neglected to discuss, for example, the proposed ban’s beneficial impacts on air and water quality, as well as the negative costs associated with these types of oil drilling. As members of the public testified, research is growing that demonstrates the potential dangers associated with extreme oil well stimulation techniques, particularly with regard to increasing air pollution and leaking toxic chemicals into groundwater supplies.

The Initiative would prohibit land uses related to fracking, cyclic steam injection and other high-intensity petroleum operations within unincorporated sections of the Santa Barbara County. It aims to protect the County’s air, water, and health in light of a planned expansion of these practices by oil companies. If the initiative becomes law, existing oil operations and traditional oil drilling practices, including well maintenance, would be allowed to continue in the County.

Water Guardians were thrilled that the Initiative has been placed on the ballot and gratified by the Board’s decision not to accept the erroneous Report. “This is the end result of hundreds of volunteers working tirelessly to qualify this initiative for the ballot,” said Rebecca August of the Water Guardians. “We thank these volunteers and all those who appeared today before the Board of Supervisors.”

 

Guv Brown Using State Budget to Control School Districts Budget

Guv Brown is a sneak. He has figured a way for Sacramento to take control of the budgets of local school districts. Almost all the money from Prop. 30, meant for the classroom, is instead going to save CalSTRS (It is unsustainable). He is using policy and money to force local districts to use Common Core, in an effort to dumb down education even more. Now he wants to control, by putting a cap on districts reserves, so when the Depression harms them, they will not have the resources to keep the doors open without further State control of the district and classroom.

The confused Governor—he thinks a $8.5 billion cash deficit is a surplus—has put a limit for school districts reserves in the budget. While he is putting nonexistent money into a State reserve, he wants school districts to live hand to mouth.

“The cap on reserves, which education organizations say they never saw coming, was inserted this week in the state budget trailer bill, which is the technical language accompanying the budget that Gov. Brown and legislative leaders negotiated behind closed doors.”

300px-JerryBrownByPhilKonstantin

Districts protesting closed-door deal restricting control over their budgets
By John Fensterwald, edSource, 6/13/14

Organizations representing school districts and superintendents are trying to stop a last-minute effort to limit the size of their budget reserves, which they’re characterizing as a bald-faced attempt by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to meddle with their finances. With the Legislature set to vote Sunday on the measure and the state budget, they have two days to head it off.

Issuing a warning to Gov. Brown, the presidents of three main education organizations threatened Friday to oppose the governor’s proposal to strengthen the state’s rainy day fund – which is on the November ballot – if he allows the cap on districts’ reserves to go through.

The cap on reserves, which education organizations say they never saw coming, was inserted this week in the state budget trailer bill, which is the technical language accompanying the budget that Gov. Brown and legislative leaders negotiated behind closed doors.

As of next year, state law will reset the minimum for school districts’ reserves. For Los Angeles Unified it will be 1 percent and for small districts, which have less room for error during a fiscal crisis, it will be 5 percent. For most districts, the minimum will be 3 percent.

The trailer bill, if approved, would set a maximum reserve that districts could set aside in their budgets for a potential fiscal emergency. Under the proposal, the maximum reserve for most districts would become 6 percent, with 3 percent in Los Angeles and 10 percent for small districts.

Coming out of the recession, a number of districts have built up reserves much larger than that: 20 to 30 percent in some of the smaller districts. Initially they did this because they didn’t know if Proposition 30 – which raised sales and income taxes partly to help fund schools – would pass. Then they didn’t know how much they would get under the first years of the Local Control Funding Formula. As a result, districts have been cautious about committing to future spending.

Christine Frazier, the Kern County superintendent of schools, in a teleconference on Friday, said districts’ prudent budgeting has saved teachers’ jobs and protected students. “Those districts with minimum reserves had huge layoffs,” she said.

“To me this asks our districts to spend, spend and live paycheck to paycheck,” Frazier said. “It goes against what the governor has been saying about living within your means.”

Teachers unions, which advocated the proposed cap on reserves, said that after years of employee sacrifices and cuts, districts shouldn’t be sitting on piles of money. “Districts get public money for the purpose of spending it in the classroom, not for hoarding it,” Mike Myslinski, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association, told the Los Angeles Times.

But in the Friday teleconference, Josephine Lucey, president of the California School Boards Association, called the proposal “fiscally irresponsible” and “a blatant maneuver by CTA to move dollars to the negotiating table for salary increases” by draining reserves. She said that if the reserve limit goes through, she would urge the school boards association to oppose Brown’s rainy day fund in November. The presidents of the Association of California School Administrators and the California Association of School Business Officials, also on the phone call, predicted their organizations also would fight the rainy day fund if the reserve cap moves ahead.

Connected to state rainy day fund

The cap on district reserves would be tied to the passage of the state rainy day fund, which would set up two separate state reserves. One would be for the General Fund and the other for spending for K-12 schools and community colleges through Proposition 98, the main source of education funding. Under the proposed cap, every year that the state puts money into the Prop. 98 reserve, districts would then have to spend down reserves to the maximum allowed. As EdSource has written previously, diverting any money into a Prop. 98 reserve would be rare – and definitely wouldn’t happen for the next seven years. But that doesn’t assuage opponents like Lucey and Frazier, who said the state shouldn’t be interfering with districts’ decisions on the size of their reserves.

Bob Blattner, a consultant who advises school districts, predicted districts could face “boom and bust budgets” as they try to build up adequate reserves, only to shred them in years that the state puts money into its own reserve. “A healthy reserve is in the interest of districts and their employees,” he said.

Along with the cap, the trailer bill would also require districts to hold a public hearing to justify a reserve that exceeds the minimum 3 percent. Although they say they’re not against making finances transparent to the public, Lucey and others oppose the provision because it presumes that any money put aside above the minimum is excessive.

Kevin Gordon, president of Capitol Advisors Group, an education consulting firm, said districts address varying concerns in setting their reserves.  A tiny district may worry about replacing the one bus it runs; others may foresee the need to put aside money for building repairs or a decline in school enrollment. “This stigmatizes the notion that it is wise to save for a rainy day,” he said. “That’s contrary to everything Brown has stood for.”

 

High Costs Causes Port of Long Beach to Propose Money Losing Incentives—Instead of Changing Costly Rules

The Port of Long Beach is one of the most expensive ports on the West Coast. If Asian firms want to save lots of money they can go to Canada or to Mexico. The cost of AB 32 is killing California Ports. So much so that Long Beach is providing “incentives” to offset the cost of environment radicalism. Great thought but I doubt if it will work. Now that Obama has given us new EPA rules that vastly increase the cost of energy and the cost of doing business, Canada and Mexico will become even more financially efficient for shippers.

The root cause of the problem is government—financial incentives mean nothing to shippers. They know that tomorrow there will be even more expensive regulations and the breaks today will not pay for the rules next week. So, we will continue to see Canada and Mexico ports grow and unemployment grow at California ports.

EPALogo

Port of Long Beach offers incentives to shippers

Brian Watt, KPCC, 6/13/14

In the business of seaports, competition for ships to dock and move cargo is tough.  In California, new environmental rules make it even tougher.  So the Port of Long Beach will soon offer shipping companies two new incentives — both of which aim to boost business while reducing air pollution.

One incentive will waive “dockage” fees for cargo ships that slow down within 40 nautical miles of the Port — and then plug into on-shore power or use a technology that cuts emissions while docked.

“It’s free parking,” says Rich Dines, Vice President of the  Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Port of Long Beach.  Those parking spaces have value.

“This will average from $4,000 to $8,000 dollars a day for a large container vessel,” Dines says. That’s money the shipping company gets to keep.

Port of Long Beach officials estimate a loss of $3.3 million to $4.9 million a year due to the dockage waiver program, but the measure is expected to attract additional cargo to Long Beach, and help to offset the costs with an increase in revenue from other fees.

The other incentive encourages shippers to load their cargo directly onto trains on the dock in order to reduce truck traffic.  The “Incremental On-Dock Intermodal Incentive Program” will pay shippers $5 per loaded 20-foot-equivalent container unit for new cargo above the 2013 baseline level that is also rail-hauled either out of, or into, the Port said.

“Our community has demanded that we increase the amount of ‘on-dock’ rail,” Dines told KPCC, adding that two years ago, 19% of the cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach moved via on-dock rail, and now it’s 22%.  “You have fewer trucks driving around the ports to a near-dock rail facility, less congestion, and you increase productivity.”

The Port of Los Angeles has also offered incentives to increase cargo volumes.   Tom O’Brien, interim director of the Center for International Trade and Transportation at Cal-State Long Beach says the incentives are just as much about perception as they are about actual cost reduction for the shipping companies.

“I don’t think these are going to be a big money-maker for the ports, but part of the battle is changing the perception in other parts of the world and with the industry that the ports of LA and Long Beach are not business friendly because of environmental measures,” O’Brien said.

That perception has to change, he adds, because Los Angeles and Long Beach aren’t just competing with each other for cargo.   In a statement announcing the incentives, Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Doug Drummond referenced seaports north in Canada and Mexico.

“We are really in competition with Vancouver, with Prince Rupert, with Lazaro Cardenas, where costs are much lower than San Pedro Bay,” Drummond said.