Twenty-five people were arrested for trespassing Sunday as hundreds protested outside a strategy session of conservative political donors at a resort near Palm Springs, authorities said.
The mostly peaceful demonstration had been arranged with authorities, but some protesters crossed the street to the entrance of the Rancho Las Palmas Resort where they were met by deputies in riot gear, Riverside County Deputy Melissa Nieburger said. They were arrested without a struggle, booked at Indio Jail and released.
Sunday was the second day of the four-day, invitation-only conclave of about 200 wealthy conservative political activists. It was organized by brothers David and Charles Koch, whose Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries is one of the nation's largest privately held companies.
The brothers have held similar conclaves in the Palm Springs area and Aspen, Colo., for years, but this conference was met with increased scrutiny. Liberal groups have targeted the brothers for criticism because of their funding of the fight against global warming laws and their financial support of Americans for Prosperity, an organization that has worked closely with tea party groups.
The group did not say who was attending the conference, and reporters were not allowed inside the resort, but the strategy sessions in years past have included radio talkers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, according to The New York Times.
Last year Big Journalism chronicled Occidental College professor Peter Dreier, who served on the Obama campaign’s urban policy task force and as an adviser to ACORN, using his position with the university to recruit operatives for the “battle with conservative ideas” (new tone, anyone?). According to an email obtained by BigGovernment.com, Dreier is at it again, this time drafting activists to protest a meeting headed up by conservative businessmen Charles and David Koch.
He also encourages people to attend a panel discussion before the protest featuring, among others, UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, U.C. Berekely Professor and former Obama adviser Robert Reich, and Van Jones.
The easy bit of snark would be to say sarcastically that this is part of all of the "new civility" we are hearing so much about.
Still, this is serious enough to warrant a little more than finger wagging. We've been hearing a lot about right wing violence during the last two years. But, most of that violence was in the form of citizens showing up at "meet your Congressman" events and yelling at their representative. Has there ever been a Tea Party protest at, say, George Soros' last progressive fund raiser? Is there even an easy method by which your typical "teabagger" could even find a George Soros fundraiser? And, how did Dreier and co. find out the time and location of this invitation-only Koch Bros. event? (a mole working at the Rancho Las Palmas?)
What about these protesters? It looks like the usual crowd of Code Pink and International ANSWER types who have been features of the last 10 years' worth of left-wing "grass roots" protests. These are hardly the sort of spontaneous protesters you could equate with Tea Partiers. They were bused into Riverside County, the classic sign of astro-turfed pressure groups. Van Jones is one thing, but aren't Robert Reich or Erwin Chemerinsky at least a little embarrassed to be part of this display, even if they were only acting at the "panel discussion" level?
The left is at war with the decent people of this country. They don't even like it when conservatives gather together to discuss issues among themselves.
If he wasn't a Democrat back in 1992, was he an independent? "No, I was a registered Republican," he confesses happily. "I became a Republican in 1951, the first year I could vote. Eisenhower was running [for president] and we were all in the Army. He ran on the fact that he'd go to Korea [and end the war]. I don't know if that was anything more than a show, but he went there, and the Korean War did end." He then adds with a smile, like the easy-going Eisenhower Republican he is, "But I've supported Democrats along the way."
Drudge is highlighting this story in the UK Telegraph, which claims that the mass street protests in Egypt are the fruition of a "secret" US plan to support a democratic opposition movement that would overthrow the Mubarak regime in 2011. Well, it is 2011...
The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.
On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.
He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.
The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office.
The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.
The source? Why Wiki-leaks, of course!
The US government has previously been a supporter of Mr Mubarak’s regime. But the leaked documents show the extent to which America was offering support to pro-democracy activists in Egypt while publicly praising Mr Mubarak as an important ally in the Middle East.
In a secret diplomatic dispatch, sent on December 30 2008, Margaret Scobey, the US Ambassador to Cairo, recorded that opposition groups had allegedly drawn up secret plans for “regime change” to take place before elections, scheduled for September this year.
The memo, which Ambassador Scobey sent to the US Secretary of State in Washington DC, was marked “confidential” and headed: “April 6 activist on his US visit and regime change in Egypt.”
It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”.
Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. However, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and received extensive support for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.
That's the story, anyway. Do I believe it? Well, I don't know. On the one hand, it's the sort of "Uncle Sam's hidden hand" conspiracy theory much beloved on the Arab Street. It's also the sort of "We can control world-shaking events in the Middle East from our desks at Foggy Bottom/CIA Headquarters" story that America's establishment loves, too. If there are two groups whose worldviews I simply don't find credible, it's the Arab Street and the State Department/CIA. So I think this deserves all of the grains of salt in the world.
Still, if it is true, why in the world would America target Hosni Mubarak for the Shah treatment? Egypt's the most populous country in the Middle East. The obvious successor to Mubarak would be the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group with spiritual ties to al-Qaeda. Egypt also controls access through the Suez Canal, and shares a long border with Israel. A destabilized, or radicalized, Egypt would promptly become a disruptive force to be reckoned with. Mubarak may be a son of a bitch. He may not quite be our son of a bitch. But, he's a predictable son of a bitch. A US plan to get rid of Mubarak, when there are so many others in the Middle East who richly deserve to precede him into exile, would not seem to be a display of "smart power."
The Republican Party, as a brand, is dead in California.
That's the eye-opening consensus of a crowd of political observers, lawmakers and strategists - Democrats and Republicans - gathered at a UC Berkeley symposium this weekend to mull over California's defiantly blue status in the wake of a conservative tide that swept the nation in November.
Many of the 200 attendees at the two-day Institute of Governmental Studies conference appeared surprisingly unified on one issue: that, barring dramatic upheaval, the GOP's prospects may be doomed in the voter-rich Golden State.
"Republicans, as a brand, are dead," Duf Sundheim, the former state GOP chair, told the gathering Saturday
"Republicans need to learn how to talk to non-traditional Republican voters," said Bettina Inclan, who worked on the communications team for losing California GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner. Not just Latinos, she said, but African Americans and young people, too.
Republicans will remain dead in California until the party "decides it won't be hostile to people who aren't old and white," said Darry Sragow, interim director of the USC/Los Angeles Times Poll and a longtime Democratic strategist.
Just how much Meg Whitman, the defeated 2010 billionaire gubernatorial candidate, is to blame for the California GOP's sorry prospects was the subject of sharp debate.
Whitman's crushing 13-point defeat by Gov. Jerry Brown, despite spending more than $140 million of her own money, was roundly bashed by experts. But neither she, nor her team of highly paid consultants, was present to defend themselves.
The former eBay CEO's team declined to attend, becoming the first gubernatorial campaign in the history of the prestigious academic symposium to do so.
In the wake of her defeat, the outlook for Whitman's party is stark, said Kimberly Nalder, associate professor of government at Cal State Sacramento, who titled her talk "Are California Republicans Doomed?"
Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired television viewers to trim down, eat well and pump iron for decades before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died Sunday. He was 96.
Lalanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end, Hersh said.
"I have not only lost my husband and a great American icon, but the best friend and most loving partner anyone could ever hope for," Elaine LaLanne, Lalanne's wife of 51 years and a frequent partner in his television appearances, said in a written statement.
Just before he had heart valve surgery in 2009 at age 95, Jack Lalanne told his family that dying would wreck his image, his publicist Ariel Hankin said at the time.
LaLanne may have been a showman, and a bit of a ham, but he was very serious about health and fitness:
In 1936 in his native Oakland, LaLanne opened a health studio that included weight-training for women and athletes. Those were revolutionary notions at the time, because of the theory that weight training made an athlete slow and "muscle bound" and made a woman look masculine.
"You have to understand that it was absolutely forbidden in those days for athletes to use weights," he once said. "It just wasn't done. We had athletes who used to sneak into the studio to work out.
"It was the same with women. Back then, women weren't supposed to use weights. I guess I was a pioneer," LaLanne said.
The son of poor French immigrants, he was born in 1914 and grew up to become a sugar addict, he said.
The turning point occurred one night when he heard a lecture by pioneering nutritionist Paul Bragg, who advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet.
"He got me so enthused," LaLanne said. "After the lecture I went to his dressing room and spent an hour and a half with him. He said, 'Jack, you're a walking garbage can.'"
Soon after, LaLanne constructed a makeshift gym in his back yard. "I had all these firemen and police working out there and I kind of used them as guinea pigs," he said.
He said his own daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the swimming pool.
"It's a lifestyle, it's something you do the rest of your life," LaLanne said. "How long are you going to keep breathing? How long do you keep eating? You just do it."
Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”
The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”
The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.
The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States.
A teacher at an East Oakland elementary school has been placed on leave as officials investigate accusations that two of his second-grade students engaged in oral sex in the classroom and that some ran around without their clothes on, a district spokesman said Friday.
Oakland Unified School District officials said the allegations involved students in a classroom at Markham Elementary School, and that the reported conduct happened sometime last week. A student came forward with details of the incidents Wednesday, district spokesman Troy Flint said.
"Acting on early findings, the investigation is leading us to believe that these details have merit," Flint said.
The district placed the teacher on paid administrative leave, Flint said. The teacher told officials that he was unaware of either incident. His name was not released.
Although details of the incidents remain sketchy, authorities said they are investigating reports that a girl and a boy engaged in oral sex in the classroom, Flint said.
When I first heard this story, I thought, no way; maybe the kids were talking about oral sex, or playacting at something and calling it oral sex, or whatever. But, the Free Will wife, who is a child psychologist with a couple years in Oakland working with (euphemism alert) "at-risk populations" under her belt, found the story to be absolutely plausible. There's a lot of prostitution and sex-for-drugs bartering that goes on, usually in front of the kids, who go on to imitate what they see. Pitiful, I know.
I don't think I have to mention that all of this doesn't arise from loose-moraled neo-hippie types living in Marin County mansions. No, this is going on in the other segment of the left-wing base: the ghettos and poor neighborhoods that have been the focus of so much earnest concern, and bottomless Great Society-style programs, all with the same perverse result. As Walter Williams said in the WSJ just this morning: The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do, what Jim Crow couldn't do, what the harshest racism couldn't do," Mr. Williams says. "And that is to destroy the black family.
Maybe liberals are right that budget-cutting Tea Partiers are just white racist crackers. But at least we haven't been using the power of government to destroy generation after generation of minority youth, all the while smugly bragging about how they are "saving" them.
A Concord family is fighting back against a reduced punishment for a man involved in the killing of their son, filing a lawsuit Thursday against the state and Arnold Schwarzenegger that argues the former governor illegally commuted the sentence of one of the attackers.
During his last hours in office, Schwarzenegger commuted the sentence of Esteban Núñez, the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez. Esteban Núñez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other charges in the fatal stabbing of Luis Santos. Schwarzenegger reduced Esteban Núñez's sentence from 16 years in prison to seven years.
The Santos family filed the suit against Schwarzenegger and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Sacramento County Superior Court, alleging that Schwarzenegger violated the state Constitution. The family wants Núñez's original sentence reinstated.
Kathy Santos, the mother of the murder victim, told reporters at a news conference that her family is "not well connected, politically powerful or wealthy, but we will not stop fighting for our legal rights and we will not stop fighting for our son Luis."
Fred Santos, the young man's father, said that after the sentencing in 2010 his family had hoped the new year would allow them to begin to move past the crime. "But boy, were we ever wrong about that," he said, calling the commutation a political favor.
"By commuting the sentence of one of our son's killers, Arnold Schwarzenegger committed a gross injustice," Santos said.
Specifically, the Santos family is claiming Schwarzenegger violated provisions of Proposition 9, also known as Marsy's Law, passed by voters in 2008, that amended the Constitution to provide greater rights for victims of crime. They allege Schwarzenegger failed to notify, involve and consider the victims of the crime, which is mandated under Prop. 9, prior to commuting Núñez's sentence.
The suit also cites provisions in the proposition - now part of the state Constitution - that call for people convicted of crimes to suffer the sentence imposed on them by courts.
Luis Santos' parents, who live in Concord, have said they were never notified that Núñez's sentence was commuted - and learned about the former governor's move through news reporters. Schwarzenegger later sent a letter apologizing to the Santoses for not informing them of his decision.
Gov. Jerry Brown defended his controversial plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies in California, speaking at an event hosted by one of the biggest supporters of the agencies and telling them his plan is what's best for the state.
Afterward, Brown told reporters that some of the more than $1.5 billion of redevelopment projects approved by cities in recent days - essentially an end run around his proposal - may not be legal.
At a gathering for new mayors and council members hosted by the League of California Cities, which has been one of the most vocal opponents of Brown's plan, the Democratic governor said the budget cuts this year are a "zero-sum game."
"If we don't do redevelopment, then what do we do, what do we take? Do we take more from universities? Do we cut deeper into public schools that have been cut year after year?" Brown told the group, some of whose members displayed posters and buttons opposing his plan. "I think we have to, all of us, rise above our own particular perspective, get out of the comfort zones and try to think of California first."
But League of California Cities leaders at the event, where Brown received three standing ovations and brought the crowd of several hundred people to laughter multiple times, said that while they would work with the governor, they flat-out oppose his proposal.
"We've told him we're willing to work with him, we will continue to work with him, but his proposal is so draconian, it's so bad for the creation of jobs in California ... it's so contrary with so many things he wants to accomplish," said Chris McKenzie, executive director of the league of cities.
It was business as usual on Tuesday morning for KUSF music director Howard Ryan, who played an eclectic mix of music while promoting a 10 a.m. in-studio appearance from local band the Pickpocket Ensemble.
When that hour arrived, his show abruptly went off the air - part of a complicated deal that gives classical music station KDFC the college station's 90.3 frequency - and leaves KUSF off the FM dial for the first time since 1977.
University of San Francisco officials said the station's blend of music and community programming will still be available by webcast. At the station late Tuesday morning, the somber group of DJs and staff felt angry and betrayed, saying that they didn't learn about the deal until minutes before the signal went dead.
Last month, Gov.-elect Jerry Brown argued that Californians were "in no mood" for new taxes. But on Monday, the new governor shifted gears and unveiled an austerity budget that proposed five-year extensions of increased rates in sales, income and some corporate taxes.
Brown's plan includes $12.5 billion in cuts, which would address what he called years of "gimmicks, tricks and unrealistic expectations," and the legislative analyst said the tax extensions could reap as much as $12 billion for a state awash in $25.4 billion of red ink over the next 18 months.
Those moves, and his calls to get the budget plan to the legislative floor by March 1, have been called bold by pundits of all political stripes.
But with some Republicans already lambasting what they call "the largest tax increases in California history," the penny-pinching governor now faces a formidable political test: fashioning a bipartisan truce to push it forward
More important, those of you who followed the campaign will remember that Brown repeatedly promised not to raise taxes without consulting the voters. His tax hikes will thus have to go before the voters as part of (yet another) proposition. As we just voted on - and rejected handily - a "let's raise taxes to balance the budget" proposition back in 2009, this would seem to be a tall order. Brown says that, as long as people believe there is a realistic plan, they will back him up. We'll see. People were all set to back up the Governator's plan to shrink state government, but when he proposed even the most penny-ante budget cuts, all those fiscal conservative voters vanished, replaced by aggressive public unions and self-proclaimed "moderates" quailing about partisanship.
And that brings us to the other "solution" from past budget crises: the search for bipartisanship. Brown is casting about for some Republican votes who can sign on to his tax increases. This brings to mind the budget negotiations in the spring of 2009 when the Governator and Sacramento Democrats spent their time chasing moderate Republicans, looking for the magic "third GOP vote," rather than, say, trying to cut more fat from the budget, passing pension reform or (God forbid) eliminating some public sector jobs. Profound questions of the size and scope of state government are tossed aside in favor of horse-race analysis about "recalcitrant" (and, of course, "extreme") right wingers.
All very flattering, but the fact is that Republicans had little to do with creating California's budget problems, and thus ought not feel compelled to "help" Democrats to save themselves and their political allies. I'd much rather sit in the back of the bus sipping a Slurpee, or whatever, instead of helping liberals to continue to tax and spend California to death.
The school board voted unanimously this week to provide an unprecedented line of credit to the 70-year-old station, which operates independently, but is technically owned by the district.
The station has been losing money for three years and now sits about $120,000 in the hole, said KALW general manager Matt Martin. Its annual budget is about $1.4 million, most of which is donated by listeners.
"We have not taken cash (from the district) for nearly 20 years," he said. "That's not what we want here. We want a loan we can pay back with interest."
The district gave the station 18 months to repay the loan's principal and about 1.5 percent in interest.
"The Green Hornet" may not be the end of movies as we know them, though the people who made this atrocity were certainly in there trying. The question—which rises to the level of an industrial mystery—is, trying to do what? Turn a dumb concept into a smart entertainment? Save a dim production by pouring a fortune into stupid effects? (The budget was reportedly as high as $130 million.) Kill the special-effects industry by doing a parody of its excesses? The effect of those effects, and of the cheesy 3-D process pasted on as an afterthought, is simply numbing. The film's only unqualified success is the end title sequence—because it's genuinely stylish, because it looks like it was shot in genuine 3-D and, most of all, because it's the end.