Tag Archives: California

California’s New Vaccine Law Puts Kids In Danger

The new law in California which bans medical exemptions for vaccines puts thousands of children in harms way. The law prevents doctors from exempting children who could and have had life threatening reactions to vaccines. This Reality Check is part of a full podcast episode which goes much more in depth on this issue.


Truth in Media Podcast


California’s War on Vaccine Exemptions

In this episode, we’re discussing California’s newly passed mandatory vaccine law known as SB 276. The proponents of SB 276 claim it will improve the oversight of medical vaccine exemptions, and the bill’s passage has sparked controversy as some say it effectively removes all medical exemptions putting thousands of children at risk. We’re going to take a look at this law and break down what it means. Featured in this episode is an interview with the legendary activist, attorney and leading critic of the new law, Robert F Kennedy Jr., where we talk about who is actually behind the push for SB 276 as well as many other laws like it across the country In episode #3 of Truth in Media with Ben Swann.

Visit our sponsor for this episode: The Holland Center 


Join our Watch Party tonight (9/24) in our Facebook Group at 9pm eastern to chat with the podcast producers about this episode. Click here to join the group.

Want to listen to the Truth In Media podcast? Click here to see all of the available platforms to listen and download.

California Might Force Uber and Lyft To Drive Electric Cars

(DCNF) A bill in the California legislature calls for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to operate solely on zero-emissions vehicles.

Not to be outdone with a solar panel mandate for every household and other environmental decrees in recent years, legislators in California are now turning their focus to popular ride-sharing apps. Legislation introduced in the state Senate aims to quickly shift companies like Uber and Lyft onto a 100 percent electric vehicle mandate. If passed, the bill would require 20 percent of the miles traveled by ride-hailing services be done in zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs. This mandate rises to 50 percent by 2026 and ultimately 100 percent by 2030.

“It makes the most sense to focus on those cars that are going to be on the road the most,” state Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said in a Forbes article published Wednesday. “It doesn’t necessarily make sense to have all of our electric vehicles be somebody’s second or third vehicle that’s mostly just parked in their garage.”

The bill, which has been dubbed E-CAr, has already cleared two committees and is currently in Senate Appropriations Committee for review. E-CAr would still need to be approved before a vote in both chambers. (RELATED: California Will Force EVERY New Home Owner To Install Solar Panels)

If passed, the sweeping mandate would have a major impact on Uber and Lyft, both companies are headquartered in California and have over 200,000 drivers operating in the state. Uber is currently “neutral” on the bill, whereas Lyft has voiced more hesitation on the implications such a mandate could bring, according to Forbes.

“Our concern with this bill is the impact it would have on Lyft drivers, the vast majority of whom drive part-time as a way to supplement income and support their families,” stated Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin. “We are engaging with the sponsor of this legislation to find ways to prioritize infrastructure development and incentivize EVs.”

On average, electric vehicles cost around $10,000 more than equivalent gasoline-powered cars.

Written by Jason Hopkins. Follow Jason on Twitter @thejasonhopkins

This article was republished with permission from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

San Francisco D.A. to Eliminate Marijuana Convictions en Masse

Under authorities granted by the November 2016 California ballot initiative Proposition 64 that legalized recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older in the state, San Franscisco District Attorney George Gascón has announced in a statement that his office “will be reviewing, recalling and resentencing up to 4,940 felony marijuana convictions and dismissing and sealing 3,038 misdemeanors which were sentenced prior to the initiative’s passage.”

“While drug policy on the federal level is going backwards, San Francisco is once again taking the lead to undo the damage that this country’s disastrous, failed drug war has had on our nation and on communities of color in particular,” announced District Attorney George Gascón. “Long ago we lost our ability to distinguish the dangerous from the nuisance, and it has broken our pocket books, the fabric of our communities, and we are no safer for it. While this relief is already available pursuant to Proposition 64 for anyone with a conviction, it requires that they know it is available and to retain an attorney to file the expungement paperwork. A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, we’re taking action for the community.”

While Proposition 64 does allow those convicted under past marijuana-related statutes to petition for their cases to be dismissed at their own expense, Los Angeles defense attorney Eric Shevin told The Los Angeles Times, “District attorneys certainly have the right to research their own records and dismiss these cases on their own, en masse.”

Convicts who do not pose an “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety” are eligible to have their misdemeanor charges wiped out or felony charges reclassified as misdemeanors. Those who have violent or sex crimes on their records or who have sold drugs to children or across state lines will not be among those whose charges will be dropped.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Gascón will begin wiping out the misdemeanor charges right away, but clearing out the felony convictions “will take a little more time… It will be a lot of clerical work, and we will evaluate as we start reviewing felonies.”

District Attorney George Gascón’s biography on the official website of the City and County of San Francisco emphasizes his record on criminal justice reform and reducing over-incarceration through “alternative approaches to traditional prosecution.”

The Drug Policy Alliance told The San Francisco Chronicle that almost 5,000 people have petitioned to have their pot charges expunged since the passage of Proposition 64.

California Resolution Would Provide for a Nonpartisan “Public Ballot” Option for Presidential Primaries

(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), and the Independent Voter Project jointly announce the filing of resolution ACR 145 in the California State assembly urging Secretary of State Alex Padilla to provide an additional, nonpartisan presidential ballot that lists all the qualified candidates so that voters – regardless of their affiliation or nonaffiliation with a major political party – have an opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice this election. The state would continue to distribute partisan primary ballots to Democratic and Republican voters. The resolution would allow for the creation of a nonpartisan “public ballot” for voters who either can’t or don’t want to vote in a political party’s primary election to participate in the presidential primary.

“ACR 145 strikes a balance between the constitutionally-protected rights of voters to select a presidential candidate – regardless of political party preference – with the rights of political parties to determine who may or may not participate in their private nomination proceedings,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “We shouldn’t be disenfranchising voters in an open primary state by not giving them an opportunity to vote for the most important office in America.”

“Every year, more and more Californians are choosing to not affiliate with a political party. We simply must provide means for those citizens to participate in our democracy and in the elections that they help to pay for,” said State Senator Cannella. “Though I am a proud Republican, I have and will continue to protect the rights of my entire constituency – regardless of their partisan affiliation or nonaffiliation. All Californians should have a voice in the political process and ACR 145 will allow that.”

Under California’s statewide elections, voters can choose to vote for any candidate, regardless of the voter or the candidate’s party affiliation. However, for the presidential election, only Republican voters can vote for Republican candidates, and independent voters (called “No Party Preference”, or “NPP” voters in California) can only vote for Democratic, Libertarian, or American Independent candidates, and only if they actively request a ballot for these parties. Voters who want to vote for a Republican candidate have to register as a Republican within fifteen days of the election to do so. Resolution 145 asks the secretary of state to exercise his authority to ensure that California voters get to vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not they register with a given political party.

The Independent Voter Project provided legal research to both legislators and the legislative analyst and had previously discussed its legal analysis with the secretary of state and his lawyers, including the issue of spending taxpayer dollars on an important stage of the public election process that is controlled exclusively by the private political parties.

If the resolution is adopted, the parties would not be required to allow nonmembers to participate in their nomination proceedings nor would they be required to consider the results of the nonpartisan primary when selecting their party nominee for president. The resolution only asks the secretary of state to create a ballot that would open the process up more to independent voters who want to participate, but also don’t want to affiliate with a political party.

“A majority of new voters are choosing not to express a political party preference. Excluding them from this important stage of a publicly-funded election process of choosing the next president is voter discrimination. The Independent Voter Project (IVP) is dedicated to protecting the voting rights of every voter regardless of political preferences,” says Dan Howle, co-chair of the Independent Voter Project.

Over the last two years, the IVP has led a coalition of nonpartisan organizations and 7 individual plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s closed primary system, which allows only Republican and Democratic party voters to participate, despite the state’s 47% independent voter registration. As court precedent stands today, a voter must join one of the two qualified political parties in that state as a condition of gaining the right to vote during the primary election.

IVP has expressed their intent to challenge this legal requirement in other states as part of a long-term strategy to protect the rights of every individual voter, regardless of his or her party affiliation.

NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case

In an unprecedented move, a New York Magistrate Judge ruled Monday that the United States Department of Justice cannot force Apple Inc. to extract data from a locked iPhone, as ordered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a criminal drug case.

While the ruling is not binding in any other court, and the case deals with the iPhone 5 belonging to Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty to drug charges in October, the FBI is using the same defense that it is using to order Apple to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone of a San Bernardino shooting suspect.

[RELATED: Apple Policy Says They Won’t Unlock Devices for Government Requests]

The All Writs Act of 1789 states that “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law” and that an alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.”

In a ruling issued Monday, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge James Orenstein became the first federal judge to rule that the All Writs Act does not justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will.”

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

“The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching — both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about congressional intent in 1789 — as to produce impermissibly absurd results,” Orenstein wrote.

[pull_quote_center]The Application before this court is by no means singular: the government has to date successfully invoked the AWA to secure Apple’s compelled assistance in bypassing the passcode security of Apple devices at least 70 times in the past; it has pending litigation in a dozen more cases in which Apple has not yet been forced to provide such assistance; and in its most recent use of the statute it goes so far as to contend that a court — without any legislative authority other than the AWA — can require Apple to create a brand new product that impairs the utility of the products it is in the business of selling.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: FBI Ordered Password Reset on San Bernardino Shooting Suspect’s iPhone]

Claiming that it is “clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts,” Orenstein noted that former proceedings which were “shielded from public scrutiny,” have shown that the government has chosen to forego “taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking.” 

[pull_quote_center]It is thus clear that the government is relying on the AWA as a source of authority that is legislative in every meaningful way: something that can be cited as a basis for getting the relief it seeks in case after case without any need for adjudication of the particular circumstances of an individual case (as the arguments that the government relies on here to justify entering an AWA order against Apple would apply with equal force to any instance in which it cannot bypass the passcode security of an Apple device it has a warrant to search).[/pull_quote_center]

This case is just one of the 12 government orders Apple is contesting. The Intercept noted that while some cases such as the case of Jun Feng, would require Apple to “use its existing capabilities to extract data like contacts, photos and calls from locked iPhones running on operating systems iOS7 and older,” other cases such as the one in the San Bernardino shooting would require Apple to “design new software to let the government circumvent the device’s security protocols and unlock the phone.”

[RELATED: Reality Check: Why McAfee Says FBI Really Wants To End Encryption, Not Hack Just One iPhone]

During a recent Reality Check segment, Ben Swann interviewed John McAfee, a cybersecurity expert and the creator of McAfee security software, who questioned whether the FBI was honest when it claimed it wanted an encryption key to hack a single iPhone.

Reality Check: McAfee Claims FBI Wants To End All Encryption,…

Reality Check: McAfee Claims FBI Wants To End All Encryption, Not Just Hack One iPhone

Posted by Ben Swann on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

Documents Reveal Anaheim, Calif. Police Using Airborne ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Fleet

The American Civil Liberties Union of California has learned that Anaheim police maintain an inventory of cell phone surveillance devices including surveillance devices designed for Cessna planes.

The Anaheim police possess three different forms of cell phone surveillance tools, according to the newly released documents. These devices are known as cell site simulators or sometimes Stingrays. In 2011, Anaheim police purchased a Stingray and in 2013, Anaheim’s Chief of Police approved an upgrade.

Truth In Media has written extensively about how these devices are being used to track suspected criminals while largely operating without oversight from local, state, or federal authorities. Exactly how the devices operate and what data they collect and/or save has been unknown because of a vast amount of secrecy surrounding the tools.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the Stingray as “a brand name of an IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) Catcher targeted and sold to law enforcement. A Stingray works by masquerading as a cellphone tower– to which your mobile phone sends signals to every 7 to 15 seconds whether you are on a call or not – and tricks your phone into connecting to it.”

[READ MORE: A Guide to Stingray Cellphone Surveillance Technology]

Much of the information has been released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related specifically to the manufacturer of the Stingray – the Harris Corporation. The Harris Corporation has exercised a great amount of secrecy surrounding these tools. Truth In Media previously reported on documents which revealed the Harris Corp. worked with the Federal Communications Commission to maintain a high level of secrecy. Truth In Media has also discussed the fact that Harris Corp. lied to the FCC in their application for the use of cell site simulators.

The documents obtained by the ACLU also reveal that Anaheim police possess another powerful cell site simulator known as a “dirtbox.” The dirtbox is a military-grade surveillance tool made by Digital Receiver Technology Inc., or DRT. In 2009, Anaheim police used a federal grant to purchase a dirtbox. The device is capable of collecting information from thousands of phones at once.

The Center for Investigative Reporting wrote:

“The sophisticated surveillance equipment, manufactured by Digital Receiver Technology (DRT) Inc., a Maryland company acquired by The Boeing Co. in 2008, provides a more powerful class of cell-site simulator than the more widely used StingRay devices produced by Harris Corp., which require an upgrade to intercept communications and data transmissions. According to Digital Receiver Technology’s documentation, its devices are capable of breaking encryption on communications from 200 cellphones simultaneously across state-of-the-art 4G LTE frequencies used for rapid data transmission by the latest generation of smartphones.”

The documents also highlight how Anaheim police loaned out their surveillance equipment to local police departments outside their jurisdiction. In funding requests, the police wrote that “every city in Orange County has benefited” from their surveillance tools. The Anaheim police make it clear that the surveillance tools are available to other police departments in Orange County and also maintain written procedures for sharing the dirtbox.

[RELATED: Chicago, L.A. Police Using ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Capable of Breaking Encryption]

The ACLU says the spying program could potentially affect the privacy of Orange County’s 3 million residents and possibly the 16 million people who visit nearby Disneyland every year.

There is also concern over Anaheim police using the surveillance device in planes. An email from Lt. Dave Vangsness, head of the Anaheim Police Department’s Air Support Bureau, contains a memorandum of understanding for the dirtbox.

This would not be the first time that government agencies used planes outfitted with surveillance equipment to monitor the public. In late 2014, the Wall Street Journal revealed the existence of a cell-phone monitoring program being operated by the U.S. Marshals Service using Cessna planes mounted with dirtboxes.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a FOIA request with the Department of Justice and FBI but has yet to receive any additional information. The EFF has now filed suit against the DOJ and FBI.

In early March of 2015, it was revealed that the CIA has been working with the Marshals on the program. Over the last ten years, the U.S. Marshal’s Technical Operations Group worked with the CIA’s Office of Technical Collection to develop the technology. The agencies have spent more than $1 million developing the technology.

In June 2015, it was also revealed that agencies within the U.S. government operate fake, front companies to handle surveillance flights. Some of these flights included monitoring protesters in Baltimore.

In late 2013, Anaheim police also purchased a hand-held cell phone surveillance device manufactured by a company called KEYW. The tool is designed to covertly locate phone and encrypted LTE signals. The ACLU compared the documents with publicly available price quotes and concluded that the Anaheim police bought a device called a Jugular.

“With a lightweight Jugular in hand, individual officers can easily conduct cell phone surveillance around and inside of buildings, including private homes, without alerting bystanders,” the ACLU wrote.

California Police Dept. Using Software to Determine ‘Pre-Crime’ Threat Score

The police department in Fresno, California has begun implementing a new technology that, in addition to looking at arrest reports and property records, uses content from social media postings to calculate an individual’s “threat score.”

According to a report from the Washington Post, when Fresno police received a 911 call about a man threatening his ex-girlfriend, they consulted the “Beware” software, which “scoured billions of data points, including arrest reports, property records, commercial databases, deep Web searches and the man’s social media postings.”

The software search found that the man had both a “firearm conviction” and a “gang association,” which put his “threat level” at the highest of three possible color-coded scores.

The Post noted that while police officials claim that the software can “provide critical information that can help uncover terrorists or thwart mass shootings, ensure the safety of officers and the public, find suspects, and crack open cases,” privacy advocates argue that the tools are a “troubling intrusion on privacy, have been deployed with little public oversight and have potential for abuse or error.

[RELATED: ‘Pre-Crime’ Software Can Tell Police Who Will Commit a Crime Based in Part on Social Media Posts]

In Dec. 2014, Derek Smith, the Director of Cybersecurity Initiatives at the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College, said that while similar technology has been available in the past, the Beware software is much more efficient. However, he noted that it is not able to judge the intent of an individual based off of the information it gathers.

“It’s trying to forecast based on maybe your past behavior, or what is seen in your social media – a change in behavior or a change in the things you’re posting about,” Smith said. “They say ‘maybe this person is going to perpetrate a crime in the future,’ and then they want prevention from police officers.”

Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Post that this technology has been in progress since 9/11, and that both state and federal governments are funding it.

“This is something that’s been building since September 11,” Lynch said. “First funding went to the military to develop this technology, and now it has come back to domestic law enforcement. It’s the perfect storm of cheaper and easier-to-use technologies and money from state and federal governments to purchase it.”

The Post reported that Fresno’s police department is one of the first in the country to test the Beware software, which is housed in a “Real Time Crime Center” which cost an estimated $600,000.

New California Law Allows Seizure of Legal Guns Without Notice in 2016

A new gun law taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016 in California will allow for the seizure of an individual’s guns for a 21-day “holding period” if a complaint is submitted, and if a judge determines that the individual is in need of a mental health evaluation.

Assembly Bill No. 1014 authorizes “gun violence restraining orders” which lets law enforcement seize the firearms of an individual if a judge “finds that there is reasonable cause to believe that the subject of the petition poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.”

The law states that the petition to have an individual’s guns seized can be filed by “an immediate family member of a person or a law enforcement officer,” and that once granted by a judge, the petition can restrict an individual from “having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition.”

As previously reported, the bill was originally introduced in 2013 and it gained favor in May 2014 when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a shooting rampage, killing six people and injuring 14 others in Isla Vista, California. Rodger’s mother claimed she had raised concerns about her son’s mental state, but no action had been taken by law enforcement.

While California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country and it already lets licensed therapists recommend seizing a patient’s guns if they believe that patient is dangerous, it is now the first state to allow family members to petition for a seizure of firearms.

Other gun laws going into effect in California in 2016 will make it illegal for an individual with a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed weapon on the campus of a K-12 school or a college, and will require that all pellet, BB and airsoft guns can only be displayed in public if they contain special bright colored markers to differentiate them from real guns.

Indian-American Woman Investigated After Shopping for AR-15 Ammo

24-year-old certified firearms instructor and aspiring Los Angeles Police Department officer Sim Sangha of Fremont, Calif. says she feels like she was profiled on the basis of her skin color after she inquired about a possible AR-15 ammo purchase during a shopping trip to a local Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Sangha visited the store on Wednesday of last week. During the shopping trip, she inquired about purchasing 8 boxes of AR-15 ammo but opted against buying them at that time and instead purchased an exercise mask. Police officials say that the employee then notified police about the inquiry, prompting two officers to visit Sangha at her home two days later.

[RELATED: Fact Check: 355 Mass Shootings So Far in 2015?]

Sangha told NBC Bay Area, “I don’t know if it’s [because of] my skin color or that I’m Indian. I’m not a Muslim, but even if I were, that’s no reason to call police to my home, instantly.

She added, “I feel like I was racially profiled. I have tons of friends who are both law enforcement officers and normal citizens here, and they purchase ammunition all the time in bulk, before the San Bernardino shooting and after that incident as well, and they’ve never been questioned before. They’ve never had the police show up at their house before.” Sangha says she could have provided the store clerk with a copy of her firearms certification if asked.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Could Licensed Gun Owners Help Thwart Mass Shootings?]

The officers reportedly apologized to her but argued that it is their job to investigate activities that other residents find “suspicious.”

NBC Bay Area’s Chuck Coppola said, “Freemont police not talking a lot on camera at all about this, but giving us some information off camera.

According to a Fremont Police Department spokeswoman, the department is on high-alert following the deadly Dec. 2 San Bernardino mass shooting.

They singled me out. They singled me out because of the way I look,” claimed Sangha.

FBI Says CA Shooting “Was Terrorism”, Wife Pledged Allegiance to ISIS

San Bernardino- The FBI says they now believe that the mass shooting Wednesday in San Bernardino, California, was in fact a terrorist attack.  The agency claims that the couple, Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik attempted to destroy their digital footprint, including cell phones and computer hard-drives, before their deadly shooting with police.

In addition, the FBI says that Malik made a posting online in which she pledged allegiance to the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the Farook family held a news conference late Friday to explain that the family has been working with the FBI and has been privy to some of the FBI investigation.  The attorneys, Mohammad Abuershaid and David Chelsey, claim that the only evidence held by the FBI is flimsy.  In fact according to Chelsey, the FBI’s belief is based upon “One Facebook posting that was made under someone else’s name and account and was made on one website that the FBI has deemed as extremist.”

The attorneys also pushed back against the media saying that the narrative of this attack being ISIS inspired is being driven by media.  “When a Christian shoots up a Planned Parenthood there isn’t a rush to claim terrorism,” but when a Muslim is involved the media treats the story differently.

When pushed by reporters to explain why Farook and Malik would have targeted the center, the attorneys said that some co-workers had made fun of Farook’s beard.

As we have reported, according to the San Bernardino Sheriff the couple’s home was an ammunition stockpile.  Police say they found 12 pipe bombs, 3,000 rounds of bullets and tools to used to make explosives.

Inside the Inland Region Center where the shooting took place, the couple reportedly fired between 65 and 75 rounds.  Police also say they found more than 1,600 bullets inside the couple’s car.

Tashfeen Malik came to the United States in 2014 from Paskistan with her then fiancee Farook under a fiancee Visa.


UPDATE: Police Say California Mass Shooter “Recently Radicalized”

San Bernardino- As we learn more about the man and woman responsible for the San Bernardino mass shooting, Truth in Media has learned that authorities believe the main suspect Syed Farook had been recently radicalized.  Though authorities are not saying how that may have happened or perhaps more importantly, why.

As we reported, sources say Syed Farook was killed after he and his wife Tashfeen Malik got into a shootout with police several hours after the mass shooting that killed 14 and left 21 people injured took place.

We are also learning more about Farook who authorities say was born here in the United States to a Pakistani family.  His wife reportedly had a Pakistani passport and came to the U.S. last year on a fiancee Visa.

According to the San Bernardino Sheriff the couple’s home was an ammunition stockpile.  Police say they found 12 pipe bombs, 3,000 rounds of bullets and tools to used to make explosives.

Inside the Inland Region Center where the shooting took place, the couple reportedly fired between 65 and 75 rounds.  Police also say they found more than 1,600 bullets inside the couple’s car.

At a news conference late Wednesday night held by CAIR, the brother-in-law of Syed Farook said that he is in shock at reports that Farook was among those responsible for the shooting.

San Bernardino Suspect Attended Holiday Party Before Shooting, Left ‘Angry’

Following a shooting massacre in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and at least 21 wounded on Wednesday, the suspects have been identified as Syed Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27.

Hours after the massacre took place during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center where Farook was a county restaurant inspector, the couple reportedly led police on a chase where Farook fired while Malik drove. Both suspects were killed during a shootout with police.

During a press conference on Wednesday night, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said Farook was at the holiday party before the shooting, but left “under some circumstances that were described as angry.” He noted that 10 to 30 minutes passed between the time Farook left the party and the time the shooting started.

“These people came prepared to do what they did as if they were on a mission,” Burguan said. “They were armed with long guns, not with handguns.”

While police have not determined a motive, Burguan said that because Farook and Malik were found wearing tactical gear and armed with assault-style rifles when they were killed, “there had to be some degree of planning.”

Police said four weapons have been recovered in connection to the shooting: two assault rifles and two semiautomatic handguns. A spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed that “successfully traced” the weapons, and have determined that two of the weapons were purchased legally.

Officials also claimed Farook was “apparently radicalized,” and was “in touch with people being investigated by the FBI for international terrorism.”

Farhan Khan, Farook’s brother-in-law, said Farook and Malik had a 6-month-old daughter. The couple reportedly left the baby with Farook’s mother on Wednesday morning, claiming they had a doctor’s appointment.

“I just cannot express how sad I am for what happened today,” Khan said. “I am in shock that something like this could happen.”

While Burguan said he has no information on Malik’s background, he said Farook was born in the U.S. to a Pakistani family, and had been a San Bernardino County employee for five years. Relatives said Farook had traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet Malik.

Reports Of 20 Victims Wounded In Shooting In San Bernardino, California

By Tim Reid

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (Reuters) – A manhunt was under way for up to three suspects who shot as many as 20 people, some of them fatally, at a holiday party at a social services agency in the Southern California city of San Bernardino, authorities said.

San Bernardino Police Lieutenant Richard Lawhead told a local NBC television network affiliate there were multiple fatalities, and a reporter for that channel said he saw the bodies of three victims following the shooting rampage.

MSNBC also reported that law enforcement authorities had confirmed the three deaths.

The San Bernardino Fire Department said in a Twitter post that it was responding to reports of 20 victims. San Bernardino is some 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles.

A police spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times that the suspects were heavily armed and possibly wearing body armor, and CBS reported that a bomb squad was on the scene, trying to defuse what was believed to be an explosive device.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the attack and reiterated calls for stronger gun laws. “…We should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to make these (shootings) rare as opposed to normal.”

Agents for the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were dispatched to the scene to assist local law enforcement in the investigation, representatives for the two agencies said.

The shooting took place at the Inland Regional Center, one of 21 facilities set up by the state and run under contract by non-profit organizations to serve people with developmental disabilities, said Nancy Lungren, spokeswoman for the California Department of Developmental Services.

Lavina Johnson, executive director of the facility, told CNN that one to three suspects opened fire inside a conference center where a holiday party was being held for county health department personnel.

The conference building sits adjacent to the two larger three-story buildings that house most of the agency’s offices, Johnson said. Asked whether that meant that the Inland Regional Center staff and clients were safe, she said she understood they were being evacuated.

Television images on CNN showed people being evacuated from the building, their arms raised, as triage stations were set up outside. Police and SWAT teams were seen surrounding the building.


Loma Linda University Medical Center, on a recorded hotline, said it had received four adult patients and was expecting three more.

The regional centers like the one attacked in San Bernardino administer, authorize and pay for assistance to people with disabilities such as autism and mental retardation.

On an average day, doctors at the regional centers would be evaluating toddlers whose parents have concerns and case workers would be meeting with developmentally disabled adults. Lungren said that the San Bernardino facility is one of the state’s largest and busiest.

The shooting in California comes less than a week after a gunman killed three people and wounded nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. In October, a gunman killed nine people at a college in Oregon and in June a white gunman killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina.

The Inland Regional Center has been the focus of recent complaints that its clients were not receiving all services requested or that some services were cut back without proper notice, said attorney Terri Keville of the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP.

In a settlement last year, the agency agreed to implement new procedures to make sure clients were properly informed of their rights and received the services to which they were entitled.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)


Republished with permission from The Daily Caller.

Critics Warn New Calif. Law May Let Illegal Immigrants Vote In Elections

CALIFORNIA, October 12, 2015– On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed Assembly Bill 1461, the Motor Voter Act, into law. The bill makes it to where all who have registered for a driver’s license are automatically registered to vote. In January of this year, a California law went into effect that allows illegal immigrants to have a California driver’s license, which is why critics of the new Motor Voter Act have suggested it is a calculated way to allow illegal immigrants an opportunity to vote in elections.

“This bill is terrible. It makes an already bad situation much, much worse,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement.

Engelbrecht said that California’s registration databases “lack the necessary safeguards to keep non-citizens off the voter rolls.”

Eleven states and the District of Columbia currently allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. However, the licenses appear different than those issued to citizen drivers. In California, licenses issued to illegal immigrants carry the words “Federal Limits Apply” and “not valid for official federal purposes” according to DriveCA.org, which would theoretically prevent them from being used to vote in federal elections.

In California, however, True the Vote spokesman Logan Churchwell said that state officials “specifically chose not to make non-citizen license holders searchable in their DMV database,” and called the newly signed bill “unprecedented.”

“The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Digital Privacy Bill Blocking Warrantless Spying

Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law on Thursday that strengthen Californians’ digital privacy protections.

Senate Bill 178, the California Electronic Privacy Act (CalEPCA), prevents state-level investigators from obtaining a suspect’s digital communications without first securing a warrant. The law also mandates that California law enforcement agencies procure a warrant before compelling tech companies, many of which are headquartered in the state, to turn over metadata and other records.

The technology-focused publication Wired, which characterized the California Electronic Privacy Act as “the nation’s best digital privacy law,” quoted ACLU of California technology and civil liberties policy director Nicole Ozer as saying, “This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians. We hope this is a model for the rest of the nation in protecting our digital privacy rights. This is really a comprehensive update for the modern digital age.

[RELATED: California Governor Signs Assisted Suicide Bill Into Law]

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Dave Maass wrote, “CalECPA protects Californians by requiring a warrant for digital records, including emails and texts, as well as a user’s geographical location. These protections apply not only to your devices, but to online services that store your data. Only two other states have so far offered these protections: Maine and Utah.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, “The law also stipulates that law enforcement gather no more information than is necessary to achieve the objective of the search, and imposes other conditions on the use of the search warrant or wiretap order and the information obtained, including retention and disclosure requirements. Information obtained in violation of these provisions would be inadmissible in criminal, civil, or administrative proceedings.

Gov. Brown also signed a second bill, Senate Bill 741, which prohibits local governments in the state from acquiring stingray technology unless a bill passes through the locality in question’s legislature and requires that members of the public be given an opportunity to comment in advance of the vote. Tenth Amendment Center communications director
Mike Maharrey explained, “Cell site simulators, known as ‘stingrays,’ spoof cell phone towers. Any device within range is essentially tricked into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.” He added, “Since local police generally receive these devices directly from the FBI, or through grant money provided to them by the FBI, passage of SB741 allows local communities to interpose themselves in this process and block the FBI’s programs from coming to fruition.

Under Senate Bill 741, county sheriffs can purchase stingray technology without legislative approval, but must make a public announcement if they do. The bill requires that law enforcement “maintain a usage and privacy policy in order to ensure that the collection, use, maintenance, sharing, and dissemination of information and data gathered through the use of cellular communications interception technology is consistent with respect for an individual’s privacy and civil liberties.

California Governor Signs Assisted Suicide Bill Into Law

SACRAMENTO, October 5, 2015– On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed a controversial bill into law that allows physicians to prescribe lethal doses of life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients. The law is highly controversial. Proponents of such legislation often refer to it as “Right to Die”, or “Death with Dignity“. Meanwhile, opponents of assisted suicide say it is nothing more than legalized murder.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” Brown said. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

Last legislative session, proponents of the practice in Tennessee failed to pass an assisted suicide bill. Terminally ill attorney John Jay Hooker who has only been given months to live spearheaded the effort. Meanwhile, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont already have assisted suicide laws on the books. After two decades of debate, California became the fifth state to allow the practice.

Last year, the legislation was stopped by California lawmakers despite the heavily publicized story of Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill 29-year-old Californian who advocated for the legislation. Maynard left California and went to Oregon in order to have an assisted suicide. In a video recorded days before Maynard was prescribed the life-ending drugs, she told California lawmakers that the terminally ill should not have to “leave their home and community for peace of mind, to escape suffering and to plan for a gentle death.”

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

California Mayor Detained by DHS Without Warrant

SAN FRANCISCO, October 5, 2015–  Stockton, California Mayor Anthony R. Silva, who was elected in November 2012, said in a statement that he was recently detained by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the San Francisco International airport on his way home from a trip to China.

Silva’s two laptops and mobile phone were reportedly confiscated, and he said he was not allowed to leave until he relinquished his personal passwords to the devices. According to Silva, officers provided no warrant or court documents at the scene.

“DHS agents confiscated all my electronic devices including my personal cell phone. Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property,” said Silva. “In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices.”

Silva’s attorney, Mark Reichel, claimed the confiscation of personal property and passwords was illegal.

Silva noted in a statement that “They indicated that this action to confiscate personal property at the airport was in fact routine and not unusual.” Silva said that he was also told he had “no right for a lawyer to be present” and that being a U.S. citizen did not “entitle me to rights that I probably thought.”

United States Customs and Immigration Enforcement spokesman James Schwab would not comment on why Silva was detained.

“We can’t control what the mayor or his representatives say … but that won’t dictate what we do or don’t release to the media,” Schwab said. “Our priority is assuring the integrity of the investigative process and generally speaking we don’t acknowledge that an investigation is underway … unless or until charges are filed, arrests are made, or documents are publicly filed with the court that confirm a probe is taking place.”

While Silva said he was willing to comply if the confiscation of his property was legal, he still had concerns.

“I think the American people should be extremely concerned about their personal rights and privacy,” he said. “As I was being searched at the airport, there was a Latino couple to my left, and an Asian couple to my right also being aggressively searched. I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.”

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Berkeley, Calif. City Council to Consider Raising Minimum Wage to $19 Per Hour

The Berkeley City Council is set to vote on a proposal that would raise the city’s minimum wage for workers to $19 per hour by 2020.

According to KQED News, the proposed change to the city’s minimum wage schedule, which was recommended by Berkeley’s Labor Commission, will face consideration at a special council session on November 10.

Polly Armstrong, chief executive of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, told CBS MoneyWatch that despite the fact that the businesses she represents are largely run by political progressives in one of the most liberal corners of California, a blue state, “What I hear is business owners who say, ‘This may put me out of business, but I don’t want to say publicly that I don’t want to pay my workers everything they deserve.’

[RELATED: Pizza Shop Announces Impending Closure Due to Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Hike]

Because we care about our workers, it feels good to say everyone should get a living wage,” said Armstrong. However, she noted that many small business owners do not earn as much as $19 per hour themselves. “It’s just that bottom line,” she said.

CBS Moneywatch’s Aimee Picchi wrote that some business owners who “said boosting wages to $19 an hour would threaten the viability of their stores… spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of appearing to place business interests ahead of workers.

Berkeley’s current minimum wage is $10 per hour and is set to rise to $11 per hour on October 1 under a recently-passed minimum wage hike that will see it rise to $12.53 per hour by October of 2016. The Labor Commission’s new proposal would hike the wage even further to $13 per hour by October 2016 on a schedule that would end in a $19-per-hour minimum wage by 2020. The Labor Commission’s panel that recommended the proposal did not include any area business owners.

Supporters of the measure claim that workers need the sharp increase to keep up with rising Berkeley rent prices, which have reportedly spiked 75 percent in 6 years to an average of over $2,800 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Armstrong said that such a sharp minimum wage hike could drive small businesses out of the city in favor of corporate chain stores. “It’s one thing if you want a town full of Applebee’s and P.F. Changs, but that’s not what Berkeley wants,” she said.

Berkeley’s city manager pointed out the fact that 60% of companies in the city are small businesses.

Business owner Dorothée Mitrani told the Berkeley City Council at a hearing last week that she is already being forced to close one of her existing business due to increasing labor costs. “I can’t survive. It’s not about not paying people. It’s about allowing us to run our small businesses so we can pay these people,” she said.

Labor Commission Chairperson Wendy Bloom told ABC 7 News, “We’re looking at trying to raise people out of poverty. You know, as a registered nurse, I know that you can’t have a healthy community unless you have a living wage, you can pay the bills, you can pay your rent, and we know housing isn’t affordable in the Bay Area.

California Considers Limiting Use of Stingray Surveillance

Two bills currently making their way through the California legislature would limit the use of “stingray” cell phone surveillance by law enforcement. Both bills (SB178 and SB741) were recently unanimously passed out of Assembly committees.

Senate Bill 178, introduced in February by California Senators Mark Leno (D) and Joel Anderson (R), would “prohibit a government entity from compelling the production of or access to electronic communication information or electronic device information without a search warrant, a wiretap order, or an order for electronic reader records.”  The bill would also require a warrant before using a cell site simulator, commonly known as a “Stingray”. Under the bill, information collected without consent must be destroyed within 90 days, and law enforcement cannot gather more information than is necessary to achieve the objective of the search.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:



Police officers can use the devices to track your cellphones signal.  Once the signal is located the stingray can provide a general location on the map and police officers can drive around (or in one case, walk door to door) until they get a signal from your phone. This has civil liberties advocates up in arms over the potential for misuse of the tools.

The Tenth Amendment Center reports that “representatives from a number of big tech firms including Facebook. Google, Lyft and Tech Freedom” came to support SB 178. According to the Tenth Amendment Center:

“Sen. Jerry Hill, Sen. Joel Anderson and Sen. Mark Leno introduced SB741 earlier this year. The bill would prohibit a local agency from acquiring or using a stingray device unless “approved by a resolution or ordinance adopted by its legislative body at a regularly scheduled public meeting where the public has a reasonable opportunity to comment.”

The bill also requires the resolution or ordinance to set forth policies on stingray use based on specific guidelines outlined in the legislation.

The Committee on Local Government passed SB741 9-0 on Wednesday. It now moves on to the Committee on Appropriations, where it will be considered after the summer break in mid-August.”

Both bills will be considered by the appropriate committees before facing a full vote in the California State Senate. A similar bill was passed in Washington earlier this year. A number of police departments around the country are now facing questions and criticism as the public has slowly learned about the devices.

For the last decade local police across the nation have been purchasing and training in the use of  Stingrays. TruthInMedia has written extensively on how the devices are being used to track suspected criminals while largely operating without oversight from local, state, or federal authorities. Exactly how the devices operate and what data they collect and/or save has been unknown because a vast amount of secrecy surrounding the tools.


Both the Harris Corporation that manufactures the StingRay and the Federal Bureau of Investigations require police to sign non-disclosure agreements related to the use of the devices. Through these NDAs local police departments have become subordinate to Harris and even in court cases in front of a judge, are not allowed to speak on the details of their arrangements. 

For more information check out this Guide to Stingray Technology.