No Grand Jury For California

No Grand Jury For California?

California became the first state in the entire U.S. to prohibit the use of Grand Juries. These secret legal bodies no longer can be used when deciding if police officers should be indicted in cases of deadly force or not. With the many recent cases of police brutality, being a complete abuse of their authority, people firmly marched against Grand Juries as they were helping these cases stay out of the justice they truly deserved.

“Stop killing our boys” states a sign in a protest against a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. That is but a single case of police brutality that, thanks to a grand jury, that will never see justice.

It is believed that grand juries are a process that incite the refusal to indict and created an atmosphere of great suspicion that completely compromises the justice system. People are getting angrier about it, making everything turn into a delicate situation. Most of last year’s protests were motivated by this issue.


The grand juries were also heavily criticized because of their how secretive they are. This is, at first, to protect witnesses, who supposedly will not come forward if the documents were subject to open record. Regardless of that, those who oppose the grand jury firmly state that the secrecy surrounding them only serves as a protection to the police and does absolutely nothing for justice.


Also, grand juries do not necessarily need to reveal the reason why a police officer was not indicted. Most people believe that sort of crucial information has to be revealed to everyone, in order to know if justice was properly served or not. We are talking about the lives of young people, who die due to police brutality in a very vicious and satantic way. It is no surprise that so many people rise against grand juries.


With the changes of this law, California can now leave the decision up to the prosecutor. Police brutality will now be something easier to judge with a lot more of transparency and accountability.


A terrifying number was released by Bowling Green State University, which stated that in seven years, only less than 50 police officers who abused their authority and inflicted excessive force, killing the innocent, were charged with murder for an on-duty action. And, during the same period, the FBI classified over 2,700 police brutality killings as homicides.


Take a minute to internalize that last bit of information. This issue is severe and very serious. California made the first step towards erasing the grand juries from the system. People need to feel safe around the police, not feel that their children could get killed at any moment, especially Black children, who seem to be the target of police brutality.

With a grand jury, it is very rare that an officer gets charged with homicide because he is protected by secret White Supremacist groups that have infiltrated the court system and many police departments across the country. So, it is great news for California. And we can only hope that other states take this example and start applying the same law in every region.

Damaged road of Yokohl Drive in California, USA - cracked asphalt blacktop with potholes and patches

California having the worst roads

California has been ranked for having the worst roads in the United States! Many of the sunshine state have been victims of cracks, dips, potholes, etc. The poor pavement reportedly is causing travelers to deal with high car maintenance and repair costs. Californians could care less if you arrive to an event in ripped jeans, flip-flops, and a tank-top, as long as you have a beautiful, well-kept vehicle with nice rims. Hitting a nasty, deep crack out of nowhere in the middle of the road and destroying your $3,000 rims will definitely ruin your day. Spending more on your rims than your car itself is a popular trend in Los Angeles, leading many to poor car maintenance and repairs are not cheap. In order to finance these repairs many will seek emergency funding such as personal loans through companies like LA Title Loans.


The legislation is demanding to pass Accountable Funding Stream for Transportation. To put this into action, special legislative sessions are finally on the schedule.

The poor condition of fifteen damaged roads also placed California under the high car maintenance report among other states. California drivers are aware of the fact that their state has very poor road repair. Many believe it is because the government simply did not care?


TRIP, being one of the prominent national transportation groups located in Washington D.C., has been looking closely into this matter. A TRIP report declares that poor road conditions cause motorists up to $762 per year in damages. According to Chris McKenzie, Executive Director of the League of California Cities, communities such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles have costs as high as up to $1000 per year in vehicle maintenance.


Jim Earp, Executive Consultant of the California Alliance for Jobs reports that if we look back and now and then, no adequate funding has ever been invested to fix these roads. Governor Jerry Brown has called for special legislative sessions to get out of this tragedy as a whole, associating annual funding in major roads improvements. He says it will be as a positive step by the government under the special legislative session called in by Brown. Some of the highlighted topics are Caltrans facing backlog of $59 billion in deferred maintenance, whereas an annual shortfall in Protection Program and State Highway Operations is $5.7 billion.


The estimated shortfall faced by roads and local streets of California is of $78 billion, whereas annual shortfall is $7.8 billion.


Year after year, California’s poor roads are demanding more and more funding for the repair of local streets, state highways, and roads. Per the California’s roadway system, its rural and residential streets and major urban thoroughfares are interconnected.


Currently, the entire roadway network system is in disrepair. Hence, the entire road system needs to be fixed for the sake of California’s progression. If the government does not take an immediate action, the repairing cost will become highly expensive in the future.


Currently, roads and local streets of California are the backbone of transportation system. Counties and cities are maintaining almost eighty percent of their roadways within California. Chris McKenzie also reports this session of legislation by Brown is coming at a very critical time. If serious amendments and funding have not been made, a major loss is expected in coming days. In August, city officials also claimed to contribute their services in special legislative session.


Matt Cate, Executive Director of California State Association of Counties, stated the major problem is the shift of repair resources. This problem needs to be addressed on a serious level for additional long-term funding for improvements.


According to TRIP, the Federal Highway Administration reports estimated benefit amounts of $5.20 to come in reduced form of vehicle maintenance cost, fuel consumption, delays, and safety.


Schwarzenegger and Brown’s Plan To Save The Planet

SUNNYVALE, CA - OCTOBER 09:  California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers the keynote address during the TechNet "Growing Green Technology in California" forum at Applied Materials October 9, 2008 in Sunnyvale, California. Schwarzenegger promoted green practices during his speech.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When California voted Governor Jerry Brown into office, they did so on the heels of predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decidedly Republican platforms. But for all his political flexing to bring bring one of the most notably liberal states in the Union into line, there was one area where the body builder made movie star has always differed greatly from his party – climate change. Schwarzenegger has been speaking up about climate change for years, which is why it was no surprise when he joined current Governor Brown in Paris to talk about a call to action. But just what do the two California governors have in mind?

A Bipartisan Gesture

During their time together, the two didn’t actually lay out much of a cohesive plan in terms of climate change. They’ve each been working on their own toward actual change. Instead, their coming together during the United Nations Summit was an effort to call attention on an international level to a need to work beyond politics to create real strategies.

Schwarzenegger encourages the international community to think about climate change in a non-political way, and instead encouraged consideration of scientific evidence. Brown, for his part, sent a message meant to hit closer to home as he talked about the importance of Republicans and Democrats being able to work together on this issue.

Historically, the Republican Party has been opposed to taking any action regarding climate change, and has often dismissed it as a theory or myth. For the two statesmen to sit down together for a bipartisan call to action, then, is no small deal. The message they’re trying to get across at home and abroad is that regardless of politics, a state does not have to suffer under environmental regulation. They cited their two exceptionally different terms as an example of how environmental regulation doesn’t have to be subject to politics.

What They’re Doing

During his term, Schwarzenegger approved landmark legislation that capped greenhouse gas emissions, cracked down on utilities and corporations working with non-compliant suppliers, and issued an executive order to reduce greenhouse gases to 80% below their 1990 levels by 2050.

For his part, Brown has been a major player in devising the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding, a sub-national effort seeking an agreement to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius. Brown has also been incredibly vocal about Republican rejection of climate change. Even as the party as a whole starts to warm up to the facts, Brown has been targeting the party in full to draw attention to 2016 frontrunners’ nay-saying about the matter. Brown has also been spearheading efforts increase California consumption of renewable energy and make the state as a whole more energy efficient, signing in new statewide goals in October of 2015.

How the two Governors’ efforts will stand up over time has yet to be seen, but they send out the same clear message that the two tried to send during their Paris meeting – regardless of politics, the time for action is now.

California Terrorists

For the life of me I do not understand the mind of a terrorist. From the Chicago gang members, to people from other countries strapping on a bomb and setting out to destroy any and everyone, including themselves. What kind of prayer to God or Allah does one say before they set out on a mission to destroy? If I stumbled across one of those suicide bomber trainings, I would be really pissed off if I was chosen to kill myself. I would so look at them like,”Who me? Nah…not me!” What are the politics behind who gets to strap the explosives onto their person and go for it? While President Obama remains calm and cool, consoling America the way a good President should after the San Bernardino shooting, others are freaking out, causing hysteria.

The country is up in arms about terrorists attacks striking America. They might want to finally admit that Obama handled the situation like a cool glass of water, not skipping a beat. Unlike Trump, who concluded that all Muslims must leave the United States. As technology is rapidly growing, the government did not have any concrete intelligence warning them of a shooting. The attacks on Wednesday killed 14 in San Bernardino, California. Beefing up surveillance and Big Brother does not sound so crazy, now does it?

Americans seem to be focused on the terrorism overseas, forgetting the terrorists right here who are already homegrown and/or replanted here on visas posing as students, doctors, office workers, and the list continues. Quick, methodical, and deadly, the attack caught everyone off guard, including the co-workers to one of the shooters Syed Rizwan Farook. Whatever kind of office disagreement he had with this team of people, Farook and his partner-in-crime Tashfeen Malik took it beyond imaginable extremes.

Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, reported terrorism has been outsourced in an attempt to attack the United States. American business owners outsource overseas to pay employees a smidgen of what they are worth. Terrorists overseas, however, have learned to outsource groups that are already present right here on American soil for attacks. We will never see it coming. It could be anybody. We are needing an entirely new approach to a deadly and frightening problem.

Though tightening up on the TSA at airlines is an obvious solution, it is far from a solution that actually works when the terrorists are already here eating at iHop, skateboarding up the street, and working next to you in the cubicle over. What good is a TSA? I am afraid there is no way of knowing. The devil’s greatest trick was convincing you he did not exist. Unless you happen to visit the home of a terrorist and stumble across hardware and ammunition, there is just no way to tell who is here to blow up America tomorrow. Though the government wants to also tighten up on the visa program allowing visitors from other nations entry into the country, I still do not see how anyone can determine who is a threat.

As much as the NRA hates the thought of this, we really need to tighten on gun control. We can regulate much easier who should and should not have a fire arm much quicker than we can determine, correctly, who should be able to get on a plane or not.
The government now wants to rely on family and friends to turn in those who have been recruited into a terrorist group and those who are in. Very similar to how the Black community in America put out a cry to Caucasian families and friends to report racism and hatred and any affiliation with the terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan. Mayor Rahm Emanuel urges Black families and friends to report gang activity immediately. Though no one wants to be a snitch, if being a snitch can save innocent lives, then snitches should be awarded a medal of bravery and honor during this sensitive and dangerous climate.

I believe the administration is receiving the wake-up to do something because what has been in place is clearly ineffective. Focusing on Muslims could also alienate and infuriate a group of people pushing them into the arms of an IsIs group online.

Though the number of deaths in terrorists attacks in Iraq or here in America still do not come close to the amount of Black Americans dying in the streets of Chicago by assault rifles and law enforcement, the death toll from jihad terrorism is about the same as the terrorist attacks motivated by white supremacist and other right-wing extremist.

America has its work cut out. This problem is a serious one. Time is of the essence. Operation Snitch seems to be the only sure-fire solution. Because if we just go by appearance, name, and religious faith, I could be targeted. I have a Muslim name that means female ruler. Arabs often mistaken me for one of them because of my skin complexion and long, straight black hair. I get stopped in the airports for a security check. I studied Islam many years ago. I do not know if that shows up anywhere. It is a beautiful faith, but I am a spiritualist who prays to God today and I believe in Jesus. In America I get judged for being a Black woman and now a Muslim woman. Interesting space to be in. You should try it sometime.

California Politicians Still Allowing Refugees Access

A very hot debate has been going on regarding Syrian refugees throughout the United States. After the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13th, many government officials are saying Syrian refugees should not be allowed into the country. President of the United States, Barack Obama, has his own thoughts on the matter, which might not align with that of some future presidential nominees and state Governors. California and Bay Area officials want to keep allowing Syrian refugees into the state, but want to do so with a balance of caution and empathy for individuals in need.

White House views on refugees

The White House pledged to admit about 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country over the fiscal year. More than half of the nation’s Governors are against this choice, and want a freeze in their state. Governor Jerry Brown of California is one of the only people not backing this choice. He hopes to work closely with Barack Obama to ensure the safety of Syrian refugees wishing to enter California. Shutting the door for those in need should not be an option. Ultimately, the authority over admitting refugees lies in the hands of the federal government and not the states. However, states can make the overall acceptance process much more difficult.

Why many don’t want to let Syrian refugees in

The terrorist attacks in Paris were believed to be the work of terror group ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). It was extremely easy for members of the terror group to make their way over the France border and allow an attack to happen. If the United States plans to let in over 10,000 Syrian refugees, who is to say some of them aren’t part of the terror group as well? Many Governors believe that refusing refugees means putting the security of the American people first.

California officials respond back

California state officials believe that letting in refugees can be done in a way that allows a careful examination of each person who enters the border. Syrians are now the world’s largest refugee population, while many struggle to find a safe place throughout Europe. The United States can be another protected home for these individuals, especially with over 250,000 deaths since violence broke out in 2011. Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California has stated that “Now is a time for us, as Americans, as Oaklanders, to turn toward each other — not on each other. We should not let fear and danger lull us into accepting the false choice between safety and compassion.” It is all about not losing our humanity and making judgements on people based on those who are guilty. These Syrian refugees are seeking safety for themselves and their families.

There will be more information to follow, in regards to how each state chooses to handle the Syrian refugee debate. It seems as though California politicians want to lend a helping hand, without being overly cautious of individuals. Of course it is important to keep the terror threat in the United States at a minimal level, but California doesn’t believe that letting more Syrian refugees into the country will increase the chances of a terrorist attack.

Pot Is Booming


Long before the Eagles first welcomed us to the Hotel California, the Golden State has been associated with marijuana use, culture and abuse. Yeah!

Perhaps it started with the lassez faire environment of Hollywood and the creative types who inhabit the place. Perhaps it started even earlier, in the Gold Rush and land rush and frontier days of its first European settlement.

Some say that Mexican immigrants brought the drug along with them when they migrated to California in droves in the 1910s. Or maybe it was the Mormons from Salt Lake City who were heading down Mexico way for the same purpose, who shared a bit of their purchases as they wound their way back home.

However it began, the push to marginalize marijuana users began not long after the drug began achieving popularity. In fact, California became the first state in the union to pass a law prohibiting the possession or use of marijuana – as far back as 1913.

That law did little to stop the sale and use of marijuana in California, though. Through generations, the struggle continued.

Remember “Reefer Madness,” the scared-straight film about doped up kids destroying the fabric of our society? The film was the brainchild of Lammont DuPont and media mogul William Randolph Hearst, and it struck fear into the hearts of many. On the flip side of the debate in the 1930s were the jazz musicians, artists and fans who built an entire subculture around the drug.

That all segued pretty seamlessly into the 1960s and the Summer of Love, when suburban kids from all around the country converged on San Francisco’s Height and Ashbury streets to tune in, turn on and drop out. That’s the drug culture that many think of to this day when they think of recreational marijuana users. During the 1980s and early 90s, California’s war on drugs – including marijuana – reached a boiling point, with “three strikes” rules and mandatory minimum sentences that packed California’s jails and prisons with thousands of petty drug offenders, alongside more dangerous and serious criminals.

By 1996, the first time that California voters decided to legalize and regulate the sale and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the lines for and against the drug and drug culture had not only been drawn, they’d been drawn in thick, black, indelible marker, which then was capped with a 20-foot concertina-wire fence, built next to a moat full of hungry crocodiles.

Opponents of the Compassionate Use Act sounded like the parents in Reefer Madness all over again. Legalizing medical marijuana would essentially be making it legal for any use. Children would be smoking it on their way to nursery school. The social fabric of the state would unravel again.

Proponents of the act argued that adults should have the right to use the drug to treat a number of common illnesses – to alleviate the symptoms of those suffering from cancer or anorexia, from AIDS, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines, chronic pain or any other illness that might be treated with the drug.

It’s that last part that has brought at least some of critics’ fears to reality – the types and descriptions of ailments for which Californians have been able to secure prescriptions for marijuana are as varied as the people who hold them. In that sense, the Compassionate Care Act really did “drive a truck through” the state’s drug enforcement laws.

On the other hand, only a few hundred thousand Californians have obtained prescriptions for marijuana. There has been no epidemic of children smoking it on the way to day care. The social fabric seems to be, more or less, intact. At the same time, Gov. Jerry Brown is being forced by budget constraints and basic human dignity to release incarcerated persons in droves. Even conservative Republican lawmakers at the state and local level are pushing for sentencing reform – urging communities to deal with the personal use of most drugs as a public and mental health concern, rather than a matter of public safety.

And voters’ decisions in other states to decriminalize marijuana for even recreational use seems to make quaint California’s medical marijuana law and its nominal restrictions. One wonders where the next line in the sand will have to be drawn.

Court Rules Against Obama on Immigration

A federal appeals court ruled against President Obama on immigration last week. The ruling deals a blow to the President’s efforts to bypass an unfriendly Congress and reform the nation’s immigration system through executive channels.

Last November, President Obama announced that he would use his executive authority to stop deporting the undocumented parents of children who came to the US at a young age or who were born on US soil. Obama coined the program the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.” It would have also allowed those individuals that applied for the program to work lawfully in the United States. Obama justified the move by calling it an executive action to prioritize certain deportations over others. The ability to do so has long been a part of the executive branch’s authority. However, the second part of the plan, granting work authorization to parents of US born children, faced a greater challenge. Such a move had less precedent in history and encroached on territory traditionally associated with Congress.

Several states challenges Obama’s action on the grounds that the move would place a substantial and costly burden on their agencies to implement the action. The Obama administration, on the other hands, argued that states do not have a say in policy concerning the administration of the immigration system. Furthermore, Obama argued that the states lack standing to bring suit.

The lower court in the Federal District Court in Texas ruled against Obama, writing that the move would be too costly to Texas, the lead plaintiff. Furthermore, the judge declared that the Obama administration did not follow the proper process to implement the new program. The administration swiftly filed a motion with the appellate court after the ruling to let the program proceed. Now, the appellate court has issued a ruling that affirms the District Court’s decision and continues the hold placed on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans plan.

In a 2-1 decision, Judge Jerry E. Smith, who was nominated to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987, wrote “Congress did not intend to make immune from judicial review an agency action that reclassifies millions of illegal aliens in a way that imposes substantial costs on states.” The 2 judge majority rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the program was a legitimate reorientation of federal priorities intended to prioritize deportation in the most efficient and effective manner. In a scathing dissent, Judge Carolyn King noted that the two judges writing for the majority, as well as the lower court Judge Andrew S. Hanen, mischaracterized the nature of the case. Furthermore, Hanen argued that the judges have carved out an entirely new theory of state standing that did not exist prior to the ruling. According to the dissent, states would now have a precedent to challenge any federal action that places any kind of administrative burden on its or their departments and agencies.

The Obama administration has vowed to appeal the ruling. According to Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center, “the silver lining is that this is just in the nick of time for the administration to go to the Supreme Court.

Why Immigrants Are On Strike In CA Prison

Adelanto is a small town in California’s high desert, the kind that doesn’t get much attention outside local news sources. At least 20 and as many as 300 men within the town’s prison are reportedly on a mission to change that, though, launching a hunger strike in the immigrant detention facility, starting to refuse food as of Oct. 30 in order to protest the center’s conditions. Prison complexes and detention centers have received a fair amount of attention recently for lack of adequate conditions for detainees, but just what about Adelanto is causing the men to strike?

The Private Detention Facility

Adelanto is a privately operated facility, run by the Florida-based GEO Group. The Geo Group has a long list of allegations stacking up against their centers, from claims of sexual harassment at one Arizona facility to forcing immigrant detainees to work for little or no pay at a facility in Colorado. In Adelanto, though, it all comes down to basic human rights..

Detainees at the center were already facing major concerns regarding poor conditions, neglectful and malicious treatment by center staff, and a lack of medical care since the center opened in 2011. When the GEO Group announced it would add another 650 beds to the already overcrowded, underserviced facility, the thought of even more systematic neglect was too much for the detainees. Even after the House called for an immediate cessation of the expansion, those in the center were unimpressed by the medical care, visitation hours, and treatment they received.

That’s when they began refusing meals. One of the primary demands from the detainees was to be able to lodge complaints with a grievance coordinator who does not work for GEO. With 4 allegations of extreme physical abuse at Adelanto in the past 15 months, detainees are desperate for some means of representation and protection from a system that is controlled by a private organization.

The issue there is that private detention and corrections contractors are in it for the profit, not the people. They cut costs by undertraining staff, underfeeding and undercaring for those within the facilities, and outright ignoring detainees’ rights to the point of abuse. The problem is worse in prisons, where companies like GEO set up their program to encourage recidivism simply to bulk their bottom line.

The Adelanto Outcome

Not all detainees have continued on with the hunger strike, but the concerns regarding GEO’s operation of Adelanto remain. Other such strikes at facilities in Austin and El Paso, TX are helping draw attention to the matter, putting further pressure on the issue of immigrants’ rights as the 2016 election cycle draws nearer.

GEO has released no information regarding plans to improve care for detainees at the center, though, leaving the detainees in a vulnerable spot after having shined a light on the center’s poor facilities and care. Even so, the strikes continue to spread from center to center as a means of peaceful protest and raised awareness that one can only hope results in change with respect for the human rights of the affected detainees.