Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Stevens Calls For Second Amendment Repeal MARCH 27 2018

03/27/2018 10:27 am ET

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Calls For Second Amendment Repeal

"That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday's marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform," he wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

Calling it "a relic of the 18th century," retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called Tuesday for the outright repeal of the Second Amendment, saying it would achieve "more effective and more lasting reform" than other efforts to curb the country's scourge of gun violence. 

In a New York Times op-ed, Stevens ― who as a high court justice dissented on a key gun rights case in 2008 ― praised the student demonstrators at Saturday's March for Our Lives protests, saying that the thousands of marchers, led by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, "demand our respect."

Beyond pushing for stronger legislative measures, such as banning assault-style weapons and mandating background checks, he advised the movement to "demand a repeal of the Second Amendment:"

That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday's marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.

In 2008, the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller was widely considered a victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights advocates, helping to cement a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and limiting legal grounds for gun control measures.

The ruling barred Washington, D.C., which has among the country's strictest gun laws, from enforcing a ban it had on handguns and other gun requirements because they violated the Second Amendment.

Stevens, among the four justices in the court's liberal wing who dissented in the case, wrote Tuesday that he still believes the ruling was "wrong and certainly was debatable," arguing that it "has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power."

"Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA's ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option," he continued.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Proposal going to Ventura County Board of Supervisors would put limits on public comments

Proposal going to Ventura County Board of Supervisors would put limits on public comments


Members of the public could speak for at most three minutes instead of five under a proposal going to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Managers in the office of County Executive Officer Mike Powers are recommending the change in the rules governing public comments at the board's meetings. It's being done to be consistent with what most other county governments in California do, Assistant CEO Matt Carroll said.

"We felt we were an outlier with current practices," Carroll said.

Critics, though, saw it as an attempt to curtail the public's voice.

The Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business and the Ventura County Taxpayers Association are opposed to the idea.

"We see this as a solution in search of a problem," said Sean Paroski, director of policy and advocacy for the coalition.

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Ventura County Taxpayers Association President David Grau said the group believes the proposal to cut by 40 percent the time residents may address supervisors on important policy issues "sends a message they are not interested in public input."

Supervisors are generally bound by a state law requiring them to allow public comment on items before them, but the law does not specify the number of minutes. 

The reduction would apply to issues on the board's agenda and those not on the agenda that are heard during a public comments period early in the meeting.

Carroll said the move was not proposed by a particular supervisor or motivated by a concern that comments were taking too much time. 

Members of the public may speak for undefined periods of time with individual supervisors privately or send letters to the board.  But staff reports on meaty issues generally do not appear until the Thursdays or Fridays before the Tuesday meetings. That is too little time to write a letter, so it is important to preserve the time for public speaking, Paroski said.

A county survey showed that seven of 58 California counties allowed five minutes: Butte, Calaveras, Fresno, Kings, Mariposa, Stanislaus and Ventura. The others generally permitted two or three minutes or set the limit at the discretion of the board chairman.

City councils in Ventura County vary on time limits. Fillmore is the only one that permits five minutes, Carroll said.

The cap is not specified and up to the discretion of the city councils in Santa Paula, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, according to survey results. Setting the cap at three minutes are Camarillo, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Ventura, county officials said.

Public comments do not ordinarily consume long periods of time, although there are exceptions for controversial matters such as developments at Channel Islands Harbor and stalled labor negotiations.

Ceremonial presentations before the board can go on for an hour, pushing back the time when other items are heard, Paroski said.

"A lot of times, those take too long," he said.

"This idea they need to limit the ability for people to speak is ridiculous," he said.

Carroll said the reduction could provide more people with the opportunity to speak.

County policy does not limit the number of speakers, but residents sometimes leave because they have other commitments or get tired of waiting for their turns.

Supervisors will also consider changing their policies to say that speakers are encouraged rather than required to fill out cards identifying themselves before speaking. Speakers cannot be required to provide their names under the law.

Supervisors will meet at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in their board room at the Hall of Administration at the County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave. in Ventura. The item is not scheduled at a definite time.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Read This: "What Else Does Stormy Daniels Have on Trump?"

Read This: "What Else Does Stormy Daniels Have on Trump?"

The first time Stormy Daniels was threatened over her alleged affair with President Trump, she was in a Las Vegas parking lot with her baby daughter. 

A stranger approached the porn star in the weeks after she spoke to In Touch magazine in May 2011 about her romp with the reality TV star, according to Daniels' hotly anticipated CBS 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper.

Daniels said she was heading to a fitness class and collecting a diaper bag from the back seat of her car when the man warned, "Leave Trump alone. Forget the story." 

Before he walked off, the creep said, "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom."

Daniels, 39, told Cooper she never saw the man again. "But I—if I did I would know it right away," she said in the Sunday evening program. "If he walked in this door right now, I would instantly know" his face, she added.

The adult film actress—who is suing to void a "hush agreement" about her alleged affair with Trump—said she was too afraid to go to police.

The interview marked the first time Daniels spoke publicly, on national television, about what led to the infamous "hush agreement."

But the segment left burning questions unanswered, including whether Daniels has text messages and photographs relating to Trump. (According to Daniels' NDA, she agreed to hand over any such images and texts. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, alluded to having pics in a Twitter post last week.)

And the program didn't address why Daniels was paid the very specific and relatively paltry sum of $130,000 for her cooperation.

For his part, Cooper grilled the porn star about why she was speaking out to set the record straight, even as she risked a million-dollar fine.

Sent from my iPhone by Nick Iqbal Quidwai Newbury Park CA

Saturday, March 24, 2018

​Rental suit falters in court Short-term stays at Venice building didn’t break city law, judge rules LA Times

Rental suit falters in court
Short-term stays at Venice building didn't break city law, judge rules
CITY ATTY. Mike Feuer accused the owner of this building on Ocean Front Walk of operating an illegal hotel by renting out units for short-term stays. (Mel Melcon Los Angeles Times) 
By Emily Alpert Reyes
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided Friday with a man who was accused of running an illegal hotel in Venice Beach, concluding that renting out apartment units in his building for short stays was not banned under city codes.
Carl Lambert was one of several people targeted by the city attorney two years ago and accused of operating apartment buildings as illegal hotels.
In his civil suit, City Atty. Mike Feuer argued that Lambert was defying city law and exacerbating the housing crisis by taking units off the rental market, and that he and his company were "well aware that what they are doing is illegal." The Venice building falls under city rent stabilization rules.
Lambert and his attorneys countered in court filings that it was consistent with city rules to rent out the building on Ocean Front Walk for short stays, arguing that an occupancy certificate issued decades ago had authorized it to be used as an "apartment-hotel."
More broadly, his attorney Matthew Hinks wrote that the municipal code "simply does not contain a restriction on renting on a short-term basis."
Backing that argument, Judge Teresa Beaudet wrote in a tentative order this week that "there is no statutory basis for restricting the use of an apartment house based on length of occupancy."
Night-to-night rentals at the building do not violate the zoning code, she concluded. Beaudet added that even if the building is only allowed for apartment use, as city attorneys contend, that would not matter. City attorneys had not shown that short-term rentals change the use of an apartment building into a hotel, she wrote.
"The judge exercised a very careful legal analysis that determined that I am allowed to rent for less than 30 days," Lambert said after Friday's ruling.
It is unclear whether the city attorney's office will challenge the decision. City attorneys are still reviewing their options, said Ivor Pine, a spokesman for the office. Legal records indicate that in two other cases pursued by Feuer involving such rentals, courts have at least tentatively sided with the city attorney.
Although the recent decision focuses specifically on the Ocean Front Walk building, the legal arguments outlined in the case could help other people defend themselves against city citations for renting out apartments for short stays, said Tom Nitti, an attorney who specializes in real estate law and attended the Friday hearing as an observer.
"I've been saying for a number of years now, there's no law to prohibit short-term rentals in Los Angeles," Nitti said. "People are going to hear about this case and pick up this argument."
The decision troubled activists who have argued that such rental practices worsen the housing shortage in neighborhoods like Venice. "In essence she's ruling that any apartment house can be a hotel, without a permit," said Judith Goldman, co-founder of Keep Neighborhoods First. "Hopefully a higher court will correct this error."
Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, a tenant advocacy group, said the ruling makes it "even more imperative" for the city to act swiftly to regulate short-term rentals, "to ensure that more housing is not lost."
Nearly three years have passed since L.A. lawmakers first proposed prohibiting people from renting out a house or apartment for short stays if it is not their primary residence, in order to stop commercial operators from buying buildings and running them like hotels.
Renting out homes or units night to night has become more popular with the rise of online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway that link travelers to hosts.
At the Friday hearing, Beaudet did not rule on whether advertising the building as a hotel was false or misleading, as the city attorney had alleged, or whether Lambert had violated state law by engaging in "unfair competition." Those two issues could still be decided at trial.

Nick  I.  Quidwai

Thousand Oaks CA 91360
 Cell 805-390-2857        Email: nick.ch2rd@gmail.com

He’s a political flamethrower now in hot seat Bolton joins the Trump White House LA Times

He's a political flamethrower now in hot seat Bolton joins the Trump White House
John Bolton, the new national security advisor, is known for ideological and personal clashes.
JOHN BOLTON has in the past advocated bombing Iran and attacking North Korea. (Alex Brandon Associated Press) 
By Tracy Wilkinson and Noah Bierman
WASHINGTON — John Bolton, President Trump's new national security advisor, has a take-no-prisoners approach that may prove problematic as he tries to manage a White House riven by leaks and defections.
Known for his brash style and bushy mustache, Bolton has been an informal advisor to Trump, a frequent commentator on Fox News and a longtime hawk on Iran, North Korea and other U.S. adversaries.
He is best known for his 16 months' service as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations — an organization he frequently said shouldn't exist — from mid-2005 until the end of 2006. President George W. Bush named him as a recess appointment because the White House knew Bolton was too toxic to win Senate confirmation.
Some State Department officials accused him of being so abrasive at the U.N. that he undermined U.S. policies.
Earlier, serving as Bush's arms-control point man at the State Department, he famously engaged in ideological and personal clashes with subordinates, colleagues and superiors. Even one of his defenders at the time described him as a "knuckle-dragger in a cave."
It was during that period that Bolton decided to add Cuba to the administration's list of "axis of evil" nations, a term coined in 2002 by Bush to describe the terrorism-sponsoring states of Iran, North Korea and Iraq. To justify adding Cuba, Bolton claimed the communist-ruled island was producing biological weapons, although there was no evidence for that, recalled Price Floyd, then a State Department media affairs official.
Floyd had to call in then-deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to stop Bolton. Bolton was furious and took to calling Floyd "Pink Floyd," for his supposed softness toward communism.
"My concern is not that he has extremist or neocon views … but that he would make up facts and things that further his vision for a more muscular national security," said Floyd, an 18-year veteran of the department who is now a private consultant.
More recently, Bolton, 69, has advocated hard-line — some would say extreme — positions on foreign policy challenges that have roiled the Trump administration.
He has vigorously opposed the Iran nuclear deal and no doubt will back Trump's threats to withdraw from the landmark accord. Before it was signed in 2015, he suggested bombing Iran to quash its nuclear ambitions.
He also has called for a military attack on nuclear-armed North Korea. Six months ago, as Trump and North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un traded insults and threats, Bolton said the solution was to topple the Pyongyang government and have South Korea take over the North.
In 2003, when Bolton was Bush's undersecretary for arms control, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il — father of the current dictator — sought to ban him from U.S.-proposed multilateral talks on North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program after Bolton criticized Kim publicly while visiting South Korea.
"Such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks," said a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Bolton now will backstop Trump's agreement to conduct a summit with Kim Jong Un, tentatively planned for May, a high-wire diplomatic act that will test both leaders.
Unlike Trump, Bolton is a staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin's military incursion in Ukraine. It's not clear whether he agrees with Trump's skepticism of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Bolton's defenders include the most conservative members of the Republican establishment. Some welcomed him as national security advisor after H.R. McMaster, whom they saw as more moderate and more inclined to try to block some of Trump's suggestions.
"Obviously, I think Bolton's worldview is more muscular" than McMaster's, said Lanhee Chen, a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution who was Mitt Romney's chief policy advisor in 2012. "But there clearly are similarities and actually more similarities than people might see at first blush."
Chen said both men favored an engaged America around the world, a contrast to how many conservatives initially viewed Trump's "America first" policy as isolationist. "Some will try to portray him as being out of the mainstream, particularly detractors of the administration, but I don't actually think that's where Bolton is," he said.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said via Twitter: "A national security advisor must be an honest broker, ensuring the [president] considers all points of view. Second, he is a counselor with his own views.... The obvious question is whether John Bolton has the temperament and the judgment for the job."
Many veterans in the foreign policy, global democracy and human rights communities were appalled.
Bolton "generally disparages international law," Amnesty International said in a statement.
The "McMaster ouster means no more adults in the room — except [Defense Secretary James N.] Mattis, who now has no allies," said Charles Stevenson, a former State Department official who teaches foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
McMaster, Mattis and outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom Trump fired this month, were seen as forces who could sometimes rein in the impetuous president.
"McMaster was no dove. But Bolton falls into an entirely different category of dangerous uber-hawk," Colin Kahl and Jon Wolfsthal, national security officials in the Obama administration, wrote Friday in Foreign Policy.
"Bolton's views on Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and other issues reveal a general pattern of thought: a tendency toward worst-case thinking; a pattern of warping and misusing intelligence to build the case for war with rogue states; a disdain for allies and multilateral institutions; a blind faith in U.S. military power and the benefits of regime change; and a tendency to see the ends as justifying the means, however horrific."
If another of Bolton's tasks is to impose discipline on a fractious staff, his track record is not favorable there, either. In his various government jobs, Bolton was known as hot-tempered and volatile and quick to belittle employees. One former employee recalled him throwing a stapler at a subordinate.
Even among his detractors, however, Bolton — in contrast to McMaster — is seen as effective, a seasoned mover and shaker in Washington who knows how to exercise power and get things done. For good or for bad.
After the 2016 election, Trump initially considered nominating Bolton as secretary of State, but reportedly decided the mustachioed Bolton didn't "look" the part. Trump instead picked Tillerson, the dapper chief executive of ExxonMobil.
A Baltimore native and son of a city firefighter, Bolton was a student organizer for Republican conservative Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in 1964, a race that ended in overwhelming defeat. Bolton later worked for Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), an archconservative who opposed civil rights laws, and in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The Yale-trained lawyer earned points in the GOP by helping fight the recount battle in Florida after the razor-thin presidential election in 2000. The Supreme Court ultimately gave the state, and thus the election, to George W. Bush over Democratic nominee Al Gore.
He has been a consistent flamethrower, critics and supporters agree. When he left a position at the U.S. Agency for International Development in the late 1980s, colleagues presented him with a special gift: a bronzed hand grenade.

“Saudi Prince On A U.S. Mission” Tracy Wilkinson” A Saudi prince on a U.S. mission Visits to the White House, Wall Street and Silicon Valley are on two-week itinerary.

"Saudi Prince On A U.S. Mission" Tracy Wilkinson" 

A Saudi prince on a U.S. mission

Visits to the White House, Wall Street and Silicon Valley are on two-week itinerary.

Tolga Akmen AFP/Getty Images
S AU D I Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is keen to attract American investment, business and expertise in a bid to diversify and modernize a sclerotic economy that historically has relied on oil and foreign workers.

WASHINGTON — Peddling the image of a new Saudi Arabia, controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives Monday in Washington on a crosscountry trip to court government officials, Silicon Valley techies, big-buck investors and one of his biggest fans: President Trump.

He is a prince on a mission and in a hurry.

The 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne already has curried favor with the Trump administration, winning over the president and his family, and played a key role in restoring the desert kingdom to favored-ally status after years of tension under President Obama.

The prince will meet with Trump at the White House on Tuesday and then is expected to travel over the next two weeks to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and Houston, where he will confer with oil and energy executives.

Trump made his first overseas trip as president to Saudi Arabia last year, where he and the Saudi king, the crown prince's father, inked new agreements to fight terrorism, to counter Riyadh's bitter regional rival Iran and to plan billions of dollars in business deals, most of which have yet to materialize.

Mohammed is keen to take the next step: attracting American investment, business and expertise in a bid to diversify and modernize a sclerotic economy that historically has relied on oil and foreign guest workers. He is promoting a development blueprint he calls Saudi Vision 2030.

The White House meeting comes on the heels of Mohammed's vow to acquire nuclear weapons if Tehran is allowed to build them. Iran's nuclear program was largely dismantled under a 2015 accord, but Trump has threatened to scrap it unless Iran and other signatories agree to numerous revisions.

That has raised fears of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, already one of the world's most volatile regions.

The Trump administration "needs to make sure, in a region with many failed states, that this state, the most important in the region, remains stable," said Bernard Haykel, a Middle East expert at Princeton University. Mohammed "has a short time to make change. He's in a terrible hurry, but he could also hit the wall in a terrible way."

Known by his initials, MBS, the prince is widely viewed as a reformer at home. But his actions are progressive only in the Saudi context of an ultra-conservative society that practices a rigid form of Islam.

He has led changes in the kingdom that will allow women to drive and will reopen cinemas, and that have allowed some foreign musicians to perform; more mixing has begun to be permitted between men and women at some public events.

He also has reined in the unpopular religious police, who enforce regulations including attendance at prayers and strict public dress codes.

But numerous limitations remain. The social openings have benefited the growing number of Saudis ages 18 to 35, while maintaining restraints on political freedoms.

The prince is politically shrewd, said Steven Cook, a senior Middle East fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "So when the backlash does come, he will have a wellspring of support," he said.

Mohammed's brash style, impatience and lack of a deep bench of advisors already have rocked the Saudi royal family. Some Saudis say the Trump administration may be putting too much faith in a single person, one with vast ambition and few apparent limits.

Concerts by the Greek composer Yanni are "nice," said a veteran Saudi analyst who requested anonymity to freely express his views. "But at the same time, there has to be transparency, good governance, rule of law, accountability. These are missing."

The prince already has stumbled in several episodes.

Last year, he ordered the detention of hundreds of super-wealthy businessmen, including members of the royal family. Many were confined for weeks at the glitzy Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh and released only after they had agreed to fork over cash and shares in their companies.

Saudi authorities portrayed the arrests as a crackdown on rampant corruption and said they recovered more than $106 billion in assets from targets of the investigations. But they did not release details of the financial settlements or the charges they faced, citing privacy concerns.

Although many Saudis welcomed the crackdown, others questioned whether the arrests were really a financial shakedown or an attempt to sideline the prince's potential rivals for the throne.

Norman Roule, a former CIA expert in the Middle East, said Mohammed's move showed a ruthless willingness to challenge the old guard. "He needs money," Roule said.

Even as Mohammed touted his anti-corruption drive and budget cuts, reports surfaced of his purchases of a $550-million, 440foot yacht, complete with two helipads and a submarine hangar, from a Russian vodka tycoon; a $450-million painting by Leonardo da Vinci; and a $300-million chateau near Paris that has been called the world's most expensive home.

More serious was his decision, as Saudi defense minister, to intervene in the civil war in neighboring Yemen in a military campaign that humanitarian groups say has led to widespread atrocities.

Instead of a quick victory, Saudi Arabia is mired in a grinding war against Iranaligned Houthi rebels. Saudi airstrikes — some backed by U.S. intelligence and using U.S.-supplied munitions — have killed thousands of people, according to human rights groups, and have targeted schools, medical facilities and other civilian sites.

Mohammed will find a warm welcome at the White House, however. He began working with Trump's sonin-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, shortly after the 2016 election, and the two orchestrated Trump's visit to the kingdom last year. Kushner's recent loss of a top-secret security clearance may limit his role, however.

That may leave the Trump administration illequipped to handle what appears to be a sea change in Saudi culture and politics. The State Department has no ambassador posted to Saudi Arabia, and other key Middle East posts are also empty.

While in America, Mohammed will focus heavily on his country's economic challenge. The plummeting price of oil, which fueled the Saudi economy for decades, has cut deeply into the national budget.

The prince's Saudi Vision 2030 plan includes provisions to sell off shares in the state oil monopoly, Saudi Aramco, and remake the kingdom into a hub of international business, finance and technology.

"Nothing he is doing is for the West," said Haykel, the Princeton scholar. "It's for himself. It happens to coincide with our interests and our ability to have influence in the region."