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Saturday, January 31, 2015

NIMBY replaces responsible policymaking Ventura County Star (CA) - January 31, 2015 Oxnard Editorial

NIMBY replaces responsible policymaking

Ventura County Star (CA) - January 31, 2015

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors’ rejection this week of Anterra Corp.’s request to consider making permanent its oil field waste disposal site in Oxnard was a victory for NIMBYism and a loss for rational policymaking.

Anterra had come to the county officials with a plan to change the zoning laws to make permanent its facility on three acres in an agriculture field off Wooley Road and Rose Avenue that has been operating for 15 years. What the board was faced with in its decision Tuesday was not approval or rejection of the idea, but approval of its planning department’s continued review of the idea.

On a 4-1 vote, the board said no.

It was swayed by an outpouring of opposition from Oxnard residents and officials, plus the strident rejection by the area’s supervisor, John Zaragoza. There was fear expressed about possible accidents from the site, even though Anterra has not had any reported incident during its operation, and possible contamination of potable aquifers even though there is no evidence of leaching from the underground disposal pools to the drinking water pool.

Using deep injection wells to dispose of nonhazardous oil and gas waste is a long-standing and approved industry procedure. In fact, there are 585 such injection wells in Ventura County handling the waste from the 1,729 active oil-producing wells. Most sit adjacent to the oil wells and handle the material from that site. The few drillers who do not have an injection well need a commercial operation to handle it. That’s where Anterra came in.

The site, sitting just yards away from Oxnard city limits and surrounded on three sides by industrial development, was first approved for oil drilling in the 1950s, and for the deep injection wells 15 years ago under a conditional use permit.

That permit runs until 2018. Anterra proposed a permanent zoning change to allow this type of commercial operation in all similar agriculture zones in the county. It also proposed a change in its use permit to run the business 24 hours a day and triple the number of truckloads.

We have serious concerns about the change in the zoning laws, and about the expansion of the uses. We certainly wanted to know more about the impacts of these changes, and particularly about the long-term impacts on the water table. But we were willing to allow the professional county staff to do its job and explore the proposal, gathering and presenting the factual information so the various entities involved in approving the changes could make fact-based decisions.

Instead the board decided to respond to the loudest voices and not proceed. That’s unfortunate. It unnecessarily provides more fodder for those who say this county is anti-business.

Finding a home for this waste product that we produce in the county is an imperative policy decision. In making that decision, we do need to understand more about the long-term impacts of pumping this waste into the ground. Deciding only that we don’t want it in my neighborhood, or don’t want it anywhere in the county as has been expressed, is not a reasonable public policy approach.

Tens of thousands fill Spanish capital in support of Podemos, as anti-austerity message surges in polls aljazeera

nternational
Andres Kudacki / AP

Huge Madrid march in support of anti-austerity party

Tens of thousands fill Spanish capital in support of Podemos, as anti-austerity message surges in polls

Tens of thousands of people have marched in Madrid on Saturday in support of the anti-austerity party Podemos, whose surging popularity and policies have drawn comparisons with Syriza, Greece's new leaders.
Protesters chanted "Yes we can!" as they made their way from Madrid city hall to the central Puerta del Sol square. Podemos and its anti-austerity message have been surging in polls ahead of local, regional and national elections this year. Podemos ("We Can") was formed just a year ago but gained international attention after winning five seats in elections for the European Parliament last May.
Antonia Fernandez, a 69-year-old pensioner from Madrid, came to the demonstration with her family. Fernandez, who lives with her husband on a combined pension worth about $790 a month, said she used to vote for Spain's Socialist party but had lost faith in it because of its handling of the economic crisis and its austerity policies. "People are fed up with the political class," Fernandez said. "If we want to have a future, we need jobs," she said.
Like Syriza, Podemos has found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting a European austerity program aimed at lifting struggling economies out of a deep crisis. After his Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election on Jan. 25, Alexis Tsipras promised that five years of austerity, "humiliation and suffering" imposed on Greece by international creditors were over.
Spain is emerging from a seven-year economic slump as one of the eurozone's fastest growing economies, but those gains have done little to improve the fortunes of thousands of households in a country where nearly a quarter of the workforce is unemployed.

Saudi support has blocked change in the Middle East. Dawn 1/31/15 Irfan Hussain

http://www.dawn.com/news/1160530/bad-saudi-vibesTHIS last week witnessed the gathering of the great and the good in Riyadh to pay their respects to the recently departed King Abdullah, and to suck up to King Salman, the newly crowned monarch.
Next month, many of these same worthies will meet in Washington to discuss measures to counter terrorism.
How many lives have to be lost before Western leaders finally connect the dots between the Wahabi/Salafi ideology being pumped out by the desert kingdom and the killing fields of Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan?
It was no coincidence that many of the 9/11 suicide bombers and planners, as well as Osama bin Laden, happened to be Saudi citizens. Over the years, a large body of evidence has been built up by diplomats, journalists and intelligence agencies pointing to the nexus between jihadi terror and extremist elements in Saudi Arabia. And yet King Abdullah’s death is being considered a huge loss.
In his tribute, President Obama went so far as saying of Abdullah’s deeds: “They will outlive him as an enduring contribution to the search for peace in the region.” Really? Since when has the architect of a project that has destabilised much of the Muslim world deserved such accolades?

Saudi support has blocked change in the Middle East.


In 1924-25, Ibn Saud, the founder of the current Saudi dynasty, defeated the Hashemites and seized control of Saudi Arabia with the help of the British. According to contemporary accounts, over the next seven years or so, tens of thousands were killed, many more had a limb amputated and up to a million fled Saudi Arabia.
So when we deplore the actions of the Islamic State, we need to remember who provided them with a model for conquest. And when we are repulsed by their public beheading of prisoners, we need to keep in mind the fact that on Fridays, those given the death penalty by Saudi Arabia’s opaque and draconian legal system are decapitated in public squares.
In a Faustian pact, the Saudi monarchy is left unchallenged by the country’s ultra-conservative clergy, provided it does not try and bring the country out of the 7th century. Meanwhile, millions of dollars are sent from private and public sources to madressahs in mostly poor Muslim countries.
Saudi Arabia, among some other Arab states, also funds mosques in Western cities where many clerics, whose salaries are reportedly paid by Riyadh, preach hate against the West and non-Wahabi sects. While the official Wahabi clergy stick to a literalist, joyless interpretation of Islam, they overlook the injunctions against rule by despots. They have thus provided the Saudi royal family with a spurious legitimacy in exchange for the tight control they wield over internal social policy. The royal family and the clergy are in a symbiotic embrace that has made them a barrier to change.
With an army of some 7,000 princes to keep in style, the House of Saud has a strong incentive to maintain a lucrative status quo. This creates their leverage with Washington, London and Paris: with the world’s biggest oil reserves, Saudi Arabia has been ensuring a steady supply of oil to the global markets.
The other factor that keeps leaders like Obama and Cameron onside is the rich market for arms the kingdom has become over the years. These purchases, often accompanied with allegations of vast bribes, generate jobs as well as obscene profits.
Finally, the ‘stability’ repeatedly evoked in the recent eulogies to Abdullah refers to his role in leading the fight to roll back the Arab Spring. From Egypt to Bahrain, it has been Saudi money and political support that has blocked change. Simul­tan­eously, however, Saudi Arabia has also reportedly financed extremist rebel groups in Syria.
But there are signs that the Saudis are losing some of their leverage in Washington. When Obama decided against launching an attack on Syria, it was a big setback for Riyadh. For King Abdullah, it was a humiliating reminder that his country is no longer the highest American priority.
Another reality check came when Obama refused to be led into an Israeli-inspired attack on Iran to destroy its nuclear programme and ambitions. A senior Saudi had been quoted in a leaked US diplomatic cable urging the Americans to “cut off the serpent’s head”.
But Saudi support for General Sisi has been directly helpful to Israel as Egypt has acted vigorously against Hamas, shutting down virtually all the tunnels that had been a lifeline for the beleaguered Palestinians virtually imprisoned in the tiny enclave of Gaza.
Thus far, the Saudi government has bought off its people by giving them huge subsidies and many free services. But with falling oil prices, it may not be able to forever bribe the young to stay quiet. Its Shia population in eastern Saudi Arabia is growing increasingly restless under unending discrimination and repression. And no system, even one as backward as Saudi Arabia’s, stays static forever.
irfan.husain@gmail.com
Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

crimes VC star report Fox exec murderer arrested 1/30/15

Ventura County Star (CA) - January 30, 2015   CRIMES Report
OAK PARK

Officers make arrest in film exec’s death

A 42-year-old convicted drug dealer has been arrested in connection with the death of a 20th Century Fox executive last seen alive in Oak Park more than two years ago, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

John Lenzie Creech is being charged with the May 2012 killing of Gavin Smith, 57, who disappeared after leaving a friend’s house in Oak Park. Investigators in March 2013 named Creech a “person of interest.”

Smith’s remains were found in October near Acton, officials said. His vehicle was found Feb. 13 at a Simi Valley storage facility linked to Creech, authorities said.

Officials back then said Smith had “some kind of relationship” with Creech’s wife, Chandrika, after meeting her in rehab.

Authorities believed Smith’s car was in the Porter Ranch area of the San Fernando Valley about a week after he was last seen and eventually was moved to the storage facility by two people.

Creech is serving an eight-year jail sentence for a 2012 drug case. He pleaded no contest to one count of sale or transportation of a controlled substance.

If convicted of killing Smith, Creech could face 25 years to life in prison, officials said. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

Smith’s death remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.

He was a West Hills resident who had worked with 20th Century Fox’s movie distribution department for nearly 18 years.

OXNARD

Monument installed for slain bystander

A monument for a bystander killed by Oxnard police was installed without fanfare this month at the site of his shooting in the city’s La Colonia neighborhood.

The granite monument for Alfonso Limon Jr., the 21-year-old shot to death in October 2012 when officers mistook him for a violent suspect as a chaotic gunfight unfolded, was installed in the first week of January, Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams said. There was no ceremony.

The monument stands outside the fence of a small parking lot near Garfield Avenue and Cooper Road. It was there that Limon, walking home with his brother, was first accidentally shot in the leg as officers returned fire at a suspect. Limon fell to the ground wounded and was later shot by other officers who believed he was a suspect, according to authorities. In all, five officers shot at Limon, with 16 bullets leaving 21 wounds.

The monument was required as part of a $6.7 million settlement between Limon’s family and the city. An inscription on the base reads, in English and Spanish: “Earth guards your body, the Creator guards your soul, and we guard your memory. We love you and will always remember you.”

PIRU

Wreck kills horses, injures 2 in vehicles

Two vehicles hit horses Thursday night on Highway 126 just west of Piru, sending at least two people to a hospital.

The California Highway Patrol reported the crashes about 6:10 p.m. on Highway 126 near Hopper Canyon Road.

Rescue crews reported one person suffered minor injuries and another suffered moderate injuries. Both people were taken to Ventura County Medical Center, officials said. The horses were reported dead.

Two cars were being towed away with major front-end damage, the patrol reported.

Westbound lanes of Highway 126 were blocked for a time but had reopened by 8:30 p.m.

Responding agencies included the Fillmore Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department and Santa Paula Fire Department.

THOUSAND OAKS

Jury trial delayed in lewd-acts case

The trial of a Thousand Oaks tanning salon co-owner accused of committing lewd acts on minors was continued Thursday to March.

Gary Alan Haw, 51, appeared before Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell, but his jury trial was continued to March 26.

A grand jury indicted Haw in July 2013 on five felony counts of committing a lewd act on a child between the ages of 14 and 15. The incidents allegedly occurred from about January 2000 to January 2002.

He also was charged with one count of oral copulation of a person under 18 in an incident that allegedly took place between September 1998 and September 1999. He faces another charge of sexual battery that involved an adult victim in April 2011 and a felony count of dissuading a witness from reporting a crime during an incident in August 2012, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, Haw molested two teenage boys who worked at his Tan LA business on Thousand Oaks Boulevard. The two are now in their 20s, sheriff’s officials said.

Haw is out of jail on $500,000 bail.

Uber bust yields two riders, honey oil

Two Conejo Valley men were arrested in Thousand Oaks after they hired an Uber driver to get them to a drug deal, police said.

The arrest was made about noon Wednesday on Westlake Boulevard south of Avenida de los Arboles after deputies pulled over a vehicle for an unspecified violation. Officers learned the driver was operating the car as an Uber ride service, police said.

Officers found the two passengers in the back seat had a quarter-pound of concentrated cannabis known as butane honey oil and $2,000, authorities said. The men were using the car service to take them to a place where they planned to sell the drugs, authorities said. There was no indication the driver knew anything about the drugs, authorities said.

Police said that a typical dose of the drug is a tenth of a gram and that the men had more than 1,000 doses.

Cody Jens, 24, of Agoura Hills, and Luke Karasiuk, 22, of Thousand Oaks, were arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance for sale and booked into county jail, authorities said.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dark Money Is Destroying Our World, Not Just Our Politics | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Dark Money Is Destroying Our World, Not Just Our Politics | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community: "Unsurprisingly, at a conference supported by an organization that shills for the fossil fuel industry, the energy panel, headed by Rep. Jeff Duncan, promoted opening up federal lands to oil and gas exploration and production – prohibiting the designation of new wilderness areas that could conflict with natural resource development, preventing the Endangered Species Act from interfering with oil and gas exploration and production and passing the Keystone KL pipeline, among many other initiatives heavily reliant on continued fossil fuel development. As anyone informed about the global climate crisis knows, none of these tactics will create lasting job opportunities or serve the best interests of future generations. Scorched earth is a pretty crummy inheritance.

The panel featured the usual dribble about the “excellent economic opportunities” for working Americans like those in North Dakota. No mention was made of the boom and bust economy that fossil fuel development brings or the empty promises that have left many communities with poisoned water, poor health and dire social consequences.

And of course, any conference held by the Heritage Foundation would wax poetic about the “great potential” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for bringing “significant opportunities.” But for whom? Like the trade agreements in the past that sent jobs overseas and compromised health and safety at home, the TPP would lead to more of the same: pressure to frack for shale gas, increasing potentially unsafe seafood imports and privatization of our municipal water systems and our food safety inspection system. It will harm hard working American families, not help them. Only corporations stand to benefit from this secret trade deal that is about off-shoring our health and safety."



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If Elections Matter for Greece, Why Not America? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

If Elections Matter for Greece, Why Not America? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community: "Countries that have not developed a democracy sufficient to the challenge of producing meaningful change—or that have allowed their democratic infrastructure to decay so thoroughly that little faith remains in the prospect of real change, in the prospect of an election that might produce “a new birth of freedom” or a “New Deal” or a “Great Society”—should recognize in the results from Greece an example of democracy’s potential.

That does not mean that Syriza and its allies in other European countries will succeed in charging every economic policy, or even most economic policies. That does not mean that everyone can or will agree with Syriza’s approach to every issue. The party’s political progress has won support from Greek voters who differ with elements of Syriza’s manifesto, just as it has been cheered on by Europeans who do not occupy the same space on the ideological spectrum as Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras.

This support is grounded in a belief, or at the very least a hope, that elections still matter in these times—that politics can be more than mere theater, more than a game played by elites that are already rich and already powerful. This is not a new faith. It is an old faith that democratic experiments begun long ago, with all the inspiration and energy of the enlightenment, might yet begin the world over again."



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Fillmore council OKs pay Ventura County Star (CA) - January 29, 2015

Fillmore council OKs pay

Ventura County Star (CA) - January 29, 2015
Author: Tony Biasotti Special to The Star

The Fillmore City Council voted to start paying the city planning, film and parks commission members stipends of $25 to $50 per meeting.

The commissioners are appointed by the City Council and usually make recommendations to the council, although there are some areas where they have final authority. They have not been paid in the past, but many other cities do pay their appointed commissioners.

The pay in Fillmore will begin when the new fiscal year starts July 1. Planning commissioners will make $50 per meeting, and members of the film and parks and recreation committees will make $25 per meeting.

The typical meeting schedule is once a month, and the council placed a cap on pay of two meetings in a month. A planning commissioner, then, will make $600 in a typical year, with a maximum of $1,200; members of the other two commissions will make $300 in a typical year, with a cap of $600.

With five members on each commission, the total cost to the city will be $6,000 for a normal meeting schedule, with a maximum of $12,000.

“Our commissioners are expected to show up to the meetings, to prepare for the meetings and to participate in the meetings,” Councilman Rick Neal said. “I think we can afford it. It’s not a lot, to show our appreciation for what they do.”

Before the council voted at its meeting Tuesday, the city sent an email to a list of every city clerk in the state, asking whether their cities paid appointed commissioners. Fifty-five of the state’s 482 cities replied; 38 of the 55 said they pay their planning commissioners. Most pay between $10 and $100 per meeting. Simi Valley had the highest pay of any of the 55 cities that replied, with a stipend of $543 per month, typically for two meetings a month.

City Council members are in line for raises themselves. A measure approved by voters in November will take their pay from $75 a month, the lowest in Ventura County, to $300 a month. It goes into effect in 2016.

The council also voted Tuesday to have the phrase “In God We Trust” painted in the council chamber, above the dais. The council voted last year to display the national motto somewhere in City Hall, in some form. It decided Tuesday on paint, in part because, at a cost of about $500, it was cheaper than the other options. Bronze lettering in the council chamber would have cost about $2,300.

Refocus: Michael Winokur |intel revolution picture taking

Refocus: Michael Winokur |: "Michael Winokur took these photos using a tablet with RealSense snapshot technology. Intel processed them online in order to embed them here. Click around the photos below to bring different parts of the image into focus."



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Conejo men accused of hiring Uber to get to drug deal Ventura County Star Jan 28, 2015

Conejo men accused of hiring Uber to get to drug deal


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Two Conejo Valley men were arrested Wednesday in Thousand Oaks after they hired a Uber driver to get them to a drug deal, police said.
The arrest was made about noon on Westlake Boulevard south of Avenida de los Arboles after deputies pulled over a vehicle for an unspecified violation. Officers learned the driver was operating the car as a Uber taxi service, police said.
Officers found the two passengers in the back seat had a quarter-pound of concentrated cannabis known as butane honey oil and $2,000, authorities said. The men were using the car service to take them to a place where they planned to sell the drugs, authorities said. There was no indication that the driver knew anything about the drugs.
Police said a typical dose of the drug is a 10th of a gram and the men had more than 1,000 doses.
Cody Jens, 24, of Agoura Hills, and Luke Karasiuk, 22, of Thousand Oaks, were arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance for sale and booked into county jail, authorities said.

Camarillo Council won't have prayer at meetings Michele Willer-Allred, Jan 29, 2015 VC Star

Camarillo Council won't have prayer at meetings

CAMARILLO, Calif. - Prayer won’t be coming back to Camarillo City Council meetings.
Mayor Bill Little and Councilwoman Charlotte Craven served on an ad hoc committee that was tasked back in June to look into bringing prayer or invocations back to council meetings.
Little and Craven gave a report on Wednesday to the entire council, which voted 4-1, with Councilman Mike Morgan dissenting, to not pursue the issue of prayer any further due in part to difficulty in trying to find someone to lead the prayer at every meeting.

Little said it is also very difficult for a limited city staff to contact every religious group and church in the city and invite them to participate.
Councilmembers were concerned that if every group wasn’t asked to participate, the city could open itself up to litigation.
There are 86 groups in Camarillo that are identified as “churches” in the community by the IRS, though some of the groups are run by just a few people. The Supreme Court last year ruled that the content of the prayer is not critical as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.
Craven said it was the direction of the council back in June for the committee consider to make sure it didn’t place “undo pressure” on the city clerk’s office to make sure someone was available to give a prayer at every meeting.
She said previous attempts of having prayer at meetings failed because “it was impossible to get people to come. People would say they’d come and wouldn’t show up.”
Craven said the ministerial association wouldn’t send someone when they said they would, and the city clerk’s office would have to search the entire afternoon to find someone to fill the slot.
Morgan said he has talked to people from different religious groups, and they were already willing to come to the meetings.
However, Councilman Kevin Kildee agreed with the majority of the council on the committee’s decision to shelve the issue.
“The committee did their homework on this, and you have to remember we have a very limited staff in the city clerk’s office,” said Kildee.
The council also on Wednesday approved a final pay estimate of $969,748 and accepted two phases of improvements completed in response to a debris flow in the Camarillo Springs community as a result of heavy rains late last year.
A construction contract in the amount of $326,908 was awarded on Dec. 10 to Camarillo-based Staben Brothers Inc. for interim improvements prepared by the Natural Resources Conservation Services ahead of and right after the storm on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12.
The storm caused a large debris flow in Camarillo Springs, which deposited thousands of cubic yards of mud and materials in two main areas of the community and also eroded a large void in the slope downgrade of a concrete drain channel.
Emergency repairs were completed to the scour area and debris removal was also completed on Gitano Avenue and San Como Lane.
Phase two improvements in the amount of $642,840 began on Dec. 20 and were completed on Dec. 31. Those improvements include completing debris paths and other mitigation efforts.
The city prefunded the repairs out of its general fund, but will be reimbursed for 75 percent of the work by the NRCS. The remaining 25 percent is expected to be paid for by the Camarillo Springs Homeowner’s Association and other property owners.
The council also:
Gave final approval to an ordinance regulating the sale of electronic smoking devices and products in the same manner as tobacco products in the city. It adds to the city’s already existing ordinance restricting the smoking of e-cigarettes as it also does with tobacco products.
Approved the issuance of revenue bonds by the California Municipal Finance Authority to provide for financing of a $12 million, 60-unit multifamily affordable rental housing development being developed in the Springville Master Planned community by C&C Development Company, LLC.

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