UNEMPLOYMENT WENT TO DEATH ROW PRISONERS

UNEMPLOYMENT WENT TO DEATH ROW PRISONERS

Scams led California to send COVID jobless
benefits to Scott Peterson, death row inmates

UNEMPLOYMENT WENT TO DEATH ROW PRISONERS

San Quentin inmate Scott Peterson, convicted of killing his wife and unborn son, received California unemployment benefits in recent months, according to a group of state and federal prosecutors who have been investigating fraud in the pandemic relief system administered by the state Employment Development Department.

So did convicted serial killer Cary Stayner, who murdered two women and two girls near Yosemite in 1999 and now is jailed, near Peterson, on death row.

Also allegedly approved for an unemployment debit card: Isauro Aguirre, sentenced to death in 2018 for the torture and death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

Nine district attorneys across California and a federal prosecutor on Tuesday made these allegations and called for Gov. Gavin Newsom to intervene to stop such unemployment swindling in California jails and prisons.

BIGGEST FRAUD ON TAXPAYERS IN HISTORY

The D.A.s called the situation “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,” according to a letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times, describing fraud that involves identity theft of prisoners as well as alleged scams by individual inmates and organized gangs to game the state system.

“It is a manifest problem that cannot be ignored, and the governor needs to take steps to address it,” said McGregor Scott, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Though few dispute the need for unemployment aid during an unprecedented economic downturn — and the potential need for further stimulus money — the latest allegations highlight ongoing problems with EDD that have left many questioning the agency’s ability to administer the massive number of new claims.

So far, investigations have uncovered more than $400,000 in state benefits paid to death row inmates, and more than $140 million to other incarcerated people in California’s 38 prisons, according to Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, who helped organize and lead a task force that uncovered the alleged dupery. In total, payments to those ineligible due to incarceration in prisons and jails could total nearly $1 billion, the prosecutors claim.

“The murderers and rapists and human traffickers should not be getting this money,” said Schubert. “It needs to stop.”

THE FEDS ARE INVESTIGATING

Scott, the federal prosecutor, said unemployment fraud in prisons was a national problem, and that 10 U.S. assistant district attorneys have been hired in recent months specifically to investigate it, including one in California.

In California, Scott worked with district attorneys to file a subpoena on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor to compel the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to give them a list of all incarcerated people. The Department of Labor compared that list with unemployment insurance data from March to August, according to the letter, and found that more than 35,000 inmates had filed claims, and more than 20,000 have been paid. One unidentified inmate was paid more than $48,000.

Kern County Dist. Atty. Cynthia Zimmer, whose district has five prisons, the most of any county in California, called the scope of the scams shocking. Zimmer said her office had found about $16 million in allegedly fraudulent claims in her county alone.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 36 years,” she said. “I have never seen fraud of this magnitude.”

Newsom on Tuesday announced a task force to tackle the problem.

DAWG SAYS: THIS IS WHAT YOU CALL BEING INSTITUTIONALIZED AND KNOWING THE SYSTEM.


 

JUDGE NEWSOME VIOLATED STATE CONSTITUTION

JUDGE NEWSOME VIOLATED STATE CONSTITUTION

California Gov. Gavin Newsom exceeded his authority and violated the state Constitution with an executive order that let all Californians vote by mail if they wanted to.

JUDGE NEWSOME VIOLATED STATE CONSTITUTION

Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman ruled Friday that the order, N-67-20, “improperly amended existing statutory law, exceeding the governor’s authority and violating the separation of powers.”

The order stated, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, that “all Californians who are registered to vote in” the Nov. 3 election “must be empowered to vote by mail, as an alternative to in-person voting.”

Newsom, a Democrat, argued that California’s government code gave him the power to issue orders like the one concerning mail ballots, but the judge was not convinced.

READ RULING HERE:

The legislative branch makes laws, Heckman said in the ruling, while the governor and the executive branch sees that laws are faithfully executed.

“The Governor may not exercise legislative powers unless permitted by the Constitution. Article V, Section 1 of the California Constitution does not grant the Governor the power to exercise those functions which have been given to the Legislature, absent the Legislature’s delegation of a portion of its legislative authority to such executive officials or entities through statutory enactments,” the judge ruled.

THE RULING VOIDED NEWSOMS ORDER

The ruling voided Newsom’s June order. It also clearly stated that the governor doesn’t have the power to amend laws or make new laws, about a week after the judge said California’s governor cannot do so but can issue orders.

“Gavin Newsom, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of California is enjoined and prohibited from exercising any power under the California Emergency Services Act (Government Code 8550 et seq.) which amends, alters, or changes existing statutory law or makes new statutory law or legislative policy,” Heckman said.

The judge was elected in 2012. Her term runs through 2021.

The case is James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley vs. Gavin Newsom.

Kiley and Gallagher are Republican assemblymen.

“Today, the Court confirmed that Gavin Newsom does not rule California and that we are still a nation of laws. California has not been well-served by one-man rule. A return to representative government will be best for public health and the economy,” they said in a joint statement regarding the ruling.

“The Governor must accept this ruling as a fundamental principle of our democracy and govern himself accordingly.”

DAWG SAYS: THESE GOVERNORS SEEM TO WANT TO JUST DA AS THEY PLEASE DESPITE THE LAW OR CONSTITUTION


JUPITOR AND SATURN TO ALIGN

JUPITOR AND SATURN TO ALIGN

Jupiter and Saturn are about to appear closer in the sky than they have for 800 years, aligning as a ‘double planet’

JUPITOR AND SATURN TO ALIGN IN DECEMBER

A man with a telescope watches the night sky over the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in Los Angeles on July 19.

Jupiter and Saturn will align in the night sky on December 21. It’ll be the closest they’ve appeared in 800 years.

  • The two planets move into alignment, or conjunction, every 20 years. But this year they will be so close that they’ll look like a “double planet.”
  • The last time Saturn and Jupiter were both this close and visible was in 1226.
  • Here are the best ways to see this conjunction.

Jupiter and Saturn are about to line up perfectly in the night sky, getting so close on December 21 that they’ll seem to touch.

The last time they looked this close from Earth’s vantage point was nearly 800 years ago, on March 4, 1226.

An astronomical event in which celestial bodies align is called a conjunction. Since this conjunction involves the two biggest gas giants in our solar system, it’s known as the great conjunction. It happens to some degree once every two decades.

PLANETS ALIGNING EXCITING NEWS TO SCIENTISTS

“But it is fair to say that this conjunction is truly exceptional in that the planets get very close to one another,” Patrick Hartigan, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University, explained on his website.

He added, “In fact, they will be so close it may be a challenge to separate them with the unaided eye for many people.”

Here’s how to see this rare conjunction.

How to view a ‘double planet’


On the night of the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will be separated by a distance in the sky equal to about one-fifth of a full moon’s diameter, according to Hartigan. They’ll look like they form a double planet.

Of course, the two planets are much farther apart than that — more than four times the distance between Earth and the sun. But to the naked eye, they’ll look like a single point of bright light.

A TELESCOPE WILL BE NEEDED

If you peek through a small telescope, Jupiter and Saturn will appear in the same field of view, along with some of their moons.


How Jupiter and Saturn will appear in a telescope set up in Houston, Texas, on December 21 as they approach each other in the sky. Patrick Hartigan/Rice University/Adapted from Stellarium graphics

But it will be challenging to see this conjunction in the United States, Canada, and Europe because of how low it will be on the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, Hartigan said.

“Viewing conditions are best close to the equator, though no matter where you are there is maybe an hour or so to observe this conjunction before the planets sink into the haze,” he added.

If you head out around twilight — the hour after sunset — and point your telescope toward the southwestern sky, you can spot the event, Hartigan said. (Websites like Stellarium can help you orient your telescope toward the planets’ meeting point.)

“You will need to have a clear southwestern horizon and no low clouds in the distance,” Hartigan said.

He recommended setting up your telescope before it gets fully dark and bringing binoculars.

CAN BE SEEN FOR SEVERAL DAYS

If it ends up being cloudy where you are on the night of the solstice, don’t worry, Hartigan said. The conjunction is an ongoing event from December 17 to 25 — December 21 is just when the two planets will be the closest in the sky.

Another conjunction like this will come in 2080

In the last 2,000 years, there were just two times that Jupiter and Saturn came closer in the sky than they’ll get this year.

One of those was in 1623, but the sun’s glare made it impossible to see.

But if you miss this upcoming rare conjunction, another will come in 60 years.


On March 15, 2080, Jupiter and Saturn will look just as close as they do this year. That event will be much easier to see because it’ll take place higher above the horizon, Hartigan said.

“The major challenge there is you’ll have to stay alive for another 60 years to see it!” he said.


NEW YORK BUSINESS OWNERS DEMAND WARRANT

NEW YORK BUSINESS OWNERS DEMAND WARRANT

GRAPHIC LANGUAGE WARNING:

WATCH: NY business owners demand warrant when health inspector barges inside over Cuomo COVID restriction

NEW YORK BUSINESS OWNERS DEMAND WARRANT

Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost her in-laws living in assisted living facilities to COVID-19, says while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ‘accepts his award, many of us just accepted caskets and urns of our loved ones.’

A group of New York business owners on Friday could be seen having a tense confrontation with sheriff’s deputies and a county health inspector over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions, in a viral video that made the rounds online over the weekend.

The video, shared on a blog post by Tim Walton, shows Erie County sheriff’s deputies and a county health official visiting Athletes Unleashed, a private gym in Orchard Park, where more than 100 Buffalo-area business owners were gathered.

The business owners were reportedly there to brainstorm ways to survive Cuomo’s recently implemented “orange zone” restrictions, in which schools go remote and “high-risk” businesses such as gyms are closed.

The sheriff’s deputies and the county health inspector showed up at the meeting about 20 minutes after it had begun, telling the attendees that they were in violation of Cuomo’s restrictions, which prohibit 10 or more people.

BECAME HEATED WHEN OFFICIALS REFUSED TO LEAVE AFTER REQUESTED.

A heated confrontation ensued, with the attendees telling the officials that they are on “private property” and need to leave the premises.

“Some of these people actually work for their money and they don’t want to lose their livelihood,” one man can be heard saying. “I’ve seen clients die because they’ve lost their livelihood.

Either side can be heard talking over one other, with people on the business side repeatedly telling officials that they are on private property and must have a warrant.

Others among the group continually shout, “Get out!” while recording on their cell phones as the three officials eventually decide to leave. The group follows them all the way to the parking lot. As the officials head for their vehicles a man can be heard shouting: “Take your commie s— elsewhere!”


THE MYSTERIES OF THE DESERT

THE MYSTERIES OF THE DESERT

Utah monolith: Helicopter crew discovers mysterious metal monolith deep in the desert

THE MYSTERIES OF THE DESERT MONOLITH IN UTAH

What started as routine wildlife assistance took an extraterrestrial turn for Utah’s Department of Public Safety after officers stumbled upon a mysterious monolith in the middle of rural Utah.

Officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Aero Bureau were flying by helicopter last Wednesday, helping the Division of Wildlife Resources count bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, when they spotted something that seemed right out of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“One of the biologists … spotted it, and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” pilot Bret Hutchings told CNN affiliate KSL. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘What.’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there — we’ve got to go look at it!'”

And there it was — in the middle of the red rock was a shiny, silver metal monolith sticking out of the ground. Hutchings guessed it was “between 10 and 12 feet high.” It didn’t look like it was randomly dropped to the ground, he told KSL, but rather it looked like it had been planted.

“We were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then the rest of us make a run for it,” Hutchings said.

OFFICIALS DOWNPLAYING IT FOR NOW

Still, Hutchings said he thinks it was most likely placed there by an artist rather than an alien.

“I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big (“2001: A Space Odyssey”) fan,” he said, referencing a scene in the 1968 film where a black monolith appears.

Still, it is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on public lands “no matter what planet you’re from,” said Utah DPS in a statement released Monday.

The location of the monolith is not being disclosed, and it is not yet clear who — or what — put the monolith there, DPS said.

As of Monday, the Bureau of Land Management will be deciding whether further investigation is needed.


TRANSGENDER INMATE SUES GEORGIA SECOND TIME

TRANSGENDER INMATE SUES GEORGIA SECOND TIME

Transgender inmate sues Georgia prison officials over alleged assaults

TRANSGENDER INMATE SUES GEORGIA SECOND TIME

A Black transgender woman is suing the Georgia Department of Corrections, accusing officials of failing to protect her from alleged sexual assaults and failing to provide her with “adequate healthcare” while behind bars. Ashley Diamond, an inmate at the Coastal State Prison in Savannah, settled a similar lawsuit against the department in 2016.

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of Diamond on Monday. Diamond, who was released from prison in 2015, was incarcerated after a parole violation last year.

According to the lawsuit, Diamond was housed in men’s prisons where she has been allegedly assaulted more than 14 times in the past year by inmates and prison staff. The lawsuit claims she has also been subjected to sexual harassment and has been denied necessary treatment for her gender dysphoria, which has led her to attempt suicide.

“Being a woman in a men’s prison is a nightmare,” Diamond said in a statement. “I’ve been stripped of my identity. I never feel safe. Never. I experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, and the fear of sexual assault is always a looming thought. I’m bringing this lawsuit to bring about change on behalf of a community that deserves the inherent dignity to simply exist.”

Joan Heath, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Corrections, said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

PREVIOUS CUSTODY LAWSUIT OVER POLICIES FOR TRANSGENDERS

In 2015, Diamond filed a lawsuit over the Georgia Department of Corrections’ “freeze-frame” policies for transgender inmates, which only allowed inmates to continue treatment they received before their sentence and prevented them from beginning new treatments. Diamond, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria as a teenager, said she was not allowed to continue her hormone treatment.

The Department of Justice said the practice was unconstitutional and said the Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to care for inmates’ gender dysphoria. Diamond settled her lawsuit against the state for an undisclosed amount in 2016 and the Georgia Department of Corrections ended its policy, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Suing to hold Georgia accountable for its abuse of trans people is the worst kind of déjà vu because Ashley Diamond has been down this road once already,” Chinyere Ezie, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement Monday. “Ashley won so many rights for trans prisoners with her lawsuit in 2015, it’s shocking and horrific to see that five years later incarcerated trans people are still being sexually assaulted, denied necessary medical care, and left to perish. We hope with this lawsuit, the cruel and unusual treatment stops today.”


DIANE FEINSTEIN STEPPING DOWN (VIDEO)

DIANE FEINSTEIN STEPPING DOWN (VIDEO)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein to step down as ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) spoke at the beginning of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12, 2020, asserting that Congress shouldn’t vote on the nomination until “the next president has taken office.”

DIANE FEINSTEIN STEPPING DOWN AS COMITTEE MEMBER

I hope, some review for the will of the American people.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein on Monday announced that she will not seek a top spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee when the 117th Congress begins next year.

Feinstein has served as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2017, but she will decline to seek the position of chairman or ranking member, her office said in a statement.

“California is a huge state confronting two existential threats – wildfire and drought – that are only getting worse with climate change. In the next Congress, I plan to increase my attention on those two crucial issues. I also believe that defeating COVID-19, combating climate change and protecting access to health care are critical national priorities that require even more concentration,” Feinstein said in prepared remarks. “I look forward to continuing to serve as a senior Democrat on the Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules committees as we work with the Biden administration on priorities like gun safety, immigration reform and addressing inequities in criminal justice. I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years.”

Feinstein’s announcement comes weeks after her remarks praising Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s handling of the confirmation hearing for now Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Feinstein then embraced Graham, prompting outcries from many Democrats.

“This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” Feinstein said at the time. “It leaves one with a lot of hopes, a lot of questions and even some ideas perhaps of good bipartisan legislation we can put together.”

DAWG SAYS: SHE S ONLY STEPPING DOWN AS A COMMITTEE MEMBER, SHE NEEDS TO RETIRE, LIKE PELOSI SHE IS GETTING TO OLD TO KEEP UP.