Author Archives: DCG

Los Angeles fire started in homeless encampment

jerry brown

Jerry Brown blames climate change for the fires in California. Wrong again with that fear mongering.

From The Guardian: Authorities have revealed the wildfire that razed homes owned by LA’s wealthiest residents was started in a homeless camp inhabited by its most downtrodden.

After the Los Angeles fire department announced on Tuesday that the Skirball fire began life as a cooking fire under a freeway about 20 miles from downtown, the homeless services community took a sharp intake of breath.

“These kind of reports are never good for us in general,” said Laurie Craft, a director at Hope of the Valley, which runs the only winter shelter in the area where the Skirball fire started.

Craft fears a backlash against the homeless community as a result of the disaster, which included the destruction of six Bel Air homes valued at $20m, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Yet assigning blame in this situation is far more complicated than it might be if the fire had been started by a careless hiker or a driver unthinkingly disposing of a lit cigarette.

“Are people going to react the same way to someone who works a job and has a car [as] to someone who’s homeless?” Craft asked. “Or is it worse in their eyes?”

There are hundreds of homeless encampments filling the nooks and crannies of Los Angeles’s elaborate freeway system, home to many of the county’s estimated 58,000 homeless people. The encampments pop up under bridges and alongside exits, ranging from two or three residents to a dozen or more.

People live in tents or jerry-rigged shelters made of tarps and branches, often with little access to sanitation or clean water. And they often set fires to cook food or keep warm in a region where nighttime temperatures often dip down into the low 50s.

The law is clear, said deputy chief Scott McLean of Cal Fire, the state fire protection agency. Any time a person lights a fire “on someone else’s property, it’s always illegal,” he said. But he added that campfires were not a particularly common source of wildfires. “It takes one spark. Even parking your car on dry grass right could be a risk.”

And owing to the harsh conditions in which homeless people live, social workers and others involved with the community are more focused on mitigating the risk than telling people not to start fires in the first place.

Victor Hinderliter, an associate director at the Los Angeles homelessness services agency, said his teams have been advising people at encampments they visit to be extra careful – and they usually are.

“The first people impacted if a fire does get out of control is the people in the surrounding encampment,” he said. “But it gets cold at night, and people have to eat. Sometimes, for survival, people have to make difficult decisions.

Hinderliter argued that the fires are merely a consequence of a much broader and more important issue. There is approximately one shelter bed available for every three people who are homeless in Los Angeles county, and a recent study found that the county would need an additional half-million affordable housing units to keep up with its growing low-income population.

“For me, this [fire] really highlights the urgency of getting people off the street and into housing,” he said. “Where people have to rely on warming fires in the middle of the night to survive, we should get them a roof over their heads, so they don’t have to make that difficult decision.”

A fire is not even always the first resort for people in encampments, said activist Mohammed Aly, who works in homeless encampments along the Santa Ana riverbed in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.

“There’s an interest in self-preservation in keeping these fires safe,” he said. People often use other methods to keep warm or cook if they can, like gas stoves or electric generators, and display “proper etiquette”.

For those quick to judge the person who set in motion a catastrophe in order to satisfy their hunger, he urges restraint. “None of us understand what life is like in a homeless community.”

DCG

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Scourge of savage MS-13 spreads further into Nassau, New York

ms-13

This is why you need the Second Amendment. And no sanctuary for illegal aliens.

A very informative story from the New York Post. A report that most in the sanctuary-city-protection media won’t dare tell.

From NY Post: On West Greenwich Avenue in Roosevelt, Long Island, the oak trees were just thick enough to hide Angel Soler’s mutilated body. The 15-year-old boy had been stabbed to death with a machete and dumped in a wooded area bordering the Southern State Parkway by members of the vicious El Salvadoran gang MS-13.

His family said he had been threatened by the gang in July, although it is still unclear why. Soler wasn’t a suspected member of MS-13 — he had actually fled his native Honduras more than four years earlier to escape gang violence. He went missing shortly after receiving threatening texts, and was found dead Oct. 19.

“You’re not safe anyplace,” Roosevelt resident Sybil Greenidge, 76, recently lamented to The Post, standing a few dozen feet from the area in Nassau County where Soler’s body was found.

The mouth of the woods is in her back yard, at the end of a dead-end street, just beyond her son’s basketball hoop. MS-13 members used the thick, leafy area — and the roar of the parkway — as cover while they brutally murdered Soler. Greenidge never even heard a scream.

While MS-13 has been operating in neighboring Suffolk County for the past decade, its increasing infiltration of Nassau is alarming authorities — and terrifying residents more used to worrying about the traffic on the Long Island Expressway than gang warfare.

“Thank God I haven’t been killed,” Greenidge said, standing in the doorway of her home on a serene, tree-lined block of manicured lawns and two-story brick-and-stone houses. “It’s crazy something like this could happen so close to your house.”

MS-13’s motto is “Murder, rape, control.’’

Authorities consider it the world’s most dangerous street gang at the moment, and its heavily tattooed, machete-wielding members easily live up to the hype.

The gang was born in Los Angeles in the 1980s in the wake of deadly civil wars wracking the three countries forming the so-called “Northern Triangle’’ at the top of Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Refugees from those countries fled to the United States, landing mostly in poor LA neighborhoods, leaving them vulnerable to Mexican street gangs already in power. The refugees banded together to fight back, taking cues from the Mexican gangs while forming their own version of a ruthless organization.

The new gang of street terrorists dubbed themselves Mara Salvatrucha 13, or MS-13 for short. The name is believed to be a combination of the Spanish word mara, or “gang,’’ Salva for Salvador and trucha, street slang for staying vigilant. The number 13 supposedly refers to M’s place in the alphabet — an homage to Mexico, the home country of the gangs that gave it its start.

About three decades after first hitting the US, the gang has infiltrated more than 40 states with 10,000-plus known members, according to FBI estimates. Their numbers in New York are murky, but one thing is certain: Long Island has become one of the gang’s major East Coast strongholds after Washington, DC, and its surrounding areas, authorities say.

The gang follows work opportunities, officials say: Where there are wealthy areas in need of cheap immigrant workers, you will find MS-13.

The gang has developed a grip especially in Suffolk County in the past 10 years, mostly in the Hispanic neighborhoods of Brentwood and Central Islip. Two sets of slayings tied to the gang in those towns have garnered national attention — including from President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, both of whom visited the county last spring to personally vow to eradicate the gang.

First, there were the double murders of Kayla Cuevas, 16, and her friend Nisa Mickens, 15, who were hacked to death by MS-13 members in Brentwood in 2016 after getting into a schoolyard fight with one of the gang’s thugs.

Then came the quadruple homicide of Justin Llivicura, Michael Banegas, Jorge Tigre and Jefferson Villalobos in a park in Central Islip this year.

The only working motive? The victims somehow “disrespected’’ MS-13.

But MS-13’s presence is slowly but surely spreading to adjoining Nassau County, following new work opportunities.

“We live in this nice neighborhood, and this is not what you would expect,” said a mom who lives with her kids in the Gates of Woodbury community on Long Island’s tony North Shore, where houses go for $1 million-plus. Her home was recently vandalized by suspected members of MS-13. “It freaks me out . . . I felt violated,’’ she said. “I sleep right there, and they were right [below me]. We’re upgrading our whole alarm system.”

Since last year, MS-13 has been responsible for at least nearly 30 deaths across Long Island, authorities say. Dozens more suspected victims remain missing.

MS-13 is not like other gangs, the head of Nassau’s gang unit, Detective Sgt. Michael Marino, told The Post. “They’re more organized, more sophisticated than you think,” he said. “They have a very distinct structure, a very strong punishment scale for not following certain rules within their gang.’’

The gang also is very ritualistic. For example, new members are initiated with a 13-second beating, and higher-ups divide their turf into 13 units to oversee.

Marino said MS-13’s bosses don’t care about making money like other gangs do — many of their members work as day laborers in places such as Home Depot and restaurants. One gang member doubled as the caretaker of the sprinkler system of a multimillion-dollar mansion on the North Shore.

Instead, the sadistic gang’s main interest is power. “In other words, ‘We are the gang, we are in control, this is our territory, everyone will follow our rules,’ ” Marino explained. “The more I learn about MS-13, the more I felt like I underestimated their organization.”

The gang’s presence remained relatively steady on Long Island until around 2014 and 2015, when it started to spike, authorities said. Marino attributed that mostly to an influx of “unaccompanied alien children,” or UACs, into the area — about 10,000 since 2014. UACs are minors who cross into the US alone without parents or guardians.

Marino estimated that 90 to 95 percent of UACs are legitimately trying to escape the poor conditions and violence taking over the Northern Triangle, which now has some of the highest murder rates in the world.

Marino said the gang, whose members are typically between 15 and 25 years old, uses the UAC “pipeline” to get current members here from Central America, as well as to boost its ranks with newbies. Even if the kids aren’t gang members when they come into the country, they experience tremendous pressure to join once they arrive, he said. They are primarily recruited while in the school system, Marino said.

“You’re taking a kid without parents . . . They don’t speak English . . . In school, they need ESL,” or English-as-a-second-language classes, which means they’re around the same group of kids all day long, Marino explained. ‘They lure them in either under the guise of girls or smoking marijuana. And they befriend a lot of them, too. They’ll go in the woods 10 times and smoke marijuana. On the 11th time, you get whacked.’

“Say [MS-13 has] a couple gang members or a couple bullies in there. They’re pressuring [the new kids] all day in the same class . . . recruiting for the gang or the rival gang. So [the UACs] are put in a very difficult situation . . . They are very high-risk to be recruited into the gang,’’ he said.

Marino said during a recent MS-13 sweep on Long Island, 22 percent of the people arrested were UACs. “That’s a statistically significant number,” he said.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

New York court upholds dismissal of defamation suit against Trump

maga

Kristen Gillibrand hardest hit.

From Bloomberg: You can’t sue Donald Trump for tweeting that you’re a “real dummy!” and a “major loser” with “zero credibility” — or for saying you “begged” him for a job on his presidential campaign when you insist you didn’t.

That’s what a New York appeals court ruled in the case of a Republican political strategist who accused Trump of inciting a “virtual mob” against her after she questioned his fitness for office on television last year. The defamation suit by public-relations specialist Cheryl Jacobus was dismissed in January by New York state court Judge Barbara Jaffe.

“Just because speech may be offensive to someone doesn’t make it defamatory,” said Lawrence S. Rosen, an attorney for Trump. “The president is entitled to his opinion just like anyone else is.”

A five-judge appeals court panel in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld the lower-court ruling, finding that Trump’s statements about Jacobus were “too vague, subjective and lacking precise meaning” to be defamatory. A reasonable person would find them to be opinion and not fact, the court found.

Jay R. Butterman, an attorney for Jacobus, said he intends to ask the state’s highest court to hear the case. “What this decision means is that the free speech is given only to those who have the power and authority to control the media,” Butterman said.

Trump is also fighting a suit by a former contestant on his “Apprentice” reality TV show who claims the president defamed her by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault. Trump’s lawyers have argued the U.S. Constitution bars him from facing state court suits while he’s in office and that his speech was protected under the First Amendment.

DCG

CAIR & suspected terrorist bomber’s family outraged at investigators’ tactics

albert fox cahn

Albert Fox Cahn: Representing the terrorist-supporting group CAIR

On Monday a Bangladeshi immigrant attempted to set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a crowded Manhattan subway. The immigrant, Akayed Ullah, 27, was taken to a hospital after suffering burns from the explosive device that was attached to his body, which did not fully ignite.

It appears his family is more outraged by the investigators’ actions than their own relative being a terrorist.

From NY Post: The family of the alleged ISIS-inspired Port Authority bomber said they were “heartbroken” by the attack on Monday and blasted law enforcement agencies for what they claimed were heavy-handed tactics by investigators.

“We are heartbroken by the violence that was targeted at our city today and by the allegations being made against a member of our family,” said the statement read by Albert Fox Cahn, legal director for the NY Chapter Council for Islamic Relations.

“But we’re also outraged by the behavior of the law enforcement officials who held children as small as 4 years old out in the cold and who pulled a teenager out of high school classes to interrogate him without lawyer, without his parents.”

It was not immediately clear if the 4-year-old or the teenager were related to the suspect.

The family continued to criticize the way the investigation was handled — even though the suspect, Akayed Ullah, allegedly launched a failed terror attack in a crowded city subway tunnel.

“These are not the sorts of actions we expect from our justice system,” the statement read.

“We have every confidence that our justice system will find the truth behind this attack and that we will in the end be able learn what occurred today.”

DCG

San Francisco mayor who defended sanctuary city status dies of a heart attack

ed lee

Mayor Ed Lee

After the death of American citizen Kate Steinle in 2015 by an illegal alien who had seven felonies and was deported five times, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee vowed to maintain their sanctuary city policy. On November 30, the illegal alien who killed Kate was found not guilty of murder, manslaughter and assault with a firearm. He was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On Tuesday, Mayor Lee died of cardiac arrest. Kate Steinle unavailable for comment.

From USA Today: San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, a champion of housing, civil rights and immigration issues, died Tuesday at 65.

Lee and his wife were grocery shopping at a Safeway supermarket just blocks from their home in San Francisco’s Glen Park neighborhood when he collapsed from a heart attack about 10:30 p.m. Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Lee was taken to San Francisco General Hospital and died early Tuesday, according to his family.

“It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away,” a statement from the mayor’s office said. “Family, friends and colleagues were at his side. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.”

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed steps in as acting mayor. The city’s Board of Supervisors, the equivalent of a city council, will vote on a new mayor in the coming weeks.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

College enlists Care Bears to comfort stressed-out students

care bears for college

Good grief. Any wonder why millennials don’t want to be called snowflakes?

From Campus Reform: A dorm display at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is using Care Bears to help students who feel “grumpy or stressed.”

“Feeling grumpy or stressed? Let the Care Bears help!” the display states above a large, hand-drawn rainbow adorned with bit of advice for students.

“It’s important to take care of ourselves! Self-care is an active choice and you should treat it as such,” one section proclaims, while other suggest that students “surround yourselves with supportive people” and “reminders of what you love.”

The display also suggests goofing around with friends, making time for fun, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep.

According to Bradley Polumbo, a sophomore at UMass-Amherst, the display was posted in Birch Hall, the dorm for students in the Honors College.

“Frankly, I just think it’s ridiculous,” Polumbo told Campus Reform. “The people that live in this dorm are either 20 or 21 years old. We could be overseas fighting in wars right now, or working full time with kids at home to feed.”

“But the school thinks we need Care Bears to remind us that we’re supposed to eat healthy and sleep at night?” Polumbo said, questioning the display. “If you don’t know that by age 20 you have bigger problems, and probably shouldn’t be pursuing a degree until you get those sorted out.”

The Residence Director for Birch Hall did not respond in time for publication of this article.

DCG

NFL week 14: Sunday night ratings suffer a steep drop

NFL blowback

Imagine my distress.

From Hollywood Reporter: Sunday’s super-slim 39-38 victory for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Baltimore Ravens was the biggest thing going for broadcast on Sunday night.

NBC’s latest Sunday Night Football averaged an 11.6 overnight rating among households. Before time zone adjustments, it easily won the night — topping even the midwinter finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead. But, stacked against a season high for the same week a year ago, the game suffered a pretty steep drop.

The Steelers’ win was down 30 percent from the huge Giants-Cowboys game a year ago. And, even with such a tight matchup, this week’s marquee primetime game was down 11 percent.

Good news for Fox: its own NFL overrun, from the day’s biggest game, propelled huge gains for its primetime lineup. Before any adjustments, The Simpsons averaged a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49 in Fast Affiliate returns. Bob’s Burgers (1.6 adults) was also improved, while Family Guy held steady with a 1.2 rating in the key demo.

ABC aired a special Frozen short, which pulled in a 1.2 rating in the key demo. On CBS, Wisdom of the Crowd dropped to a 0.7 rating in the key demo after a steady 60 Minutes. NCIS: Los Angeles (0.8 adults) and Madam Secretary (0.7 adults) rounded out the evening.

DCG