All The News You Might’ve Missed This Week
OK, it has been two weeks since we’ve tackled the news. And I won’t lie, it’s been overwhelming…downright scary, the kind of shit that makes you want to crawl into bed and pull the blanket up over your head in hopes that when you surface, the bad trip has worn off. I tried that and it didn’t work. I peeked out after weeks of hermitting and incoherent babbling to find that it’s all still there, the walls are still breathing. Dammit.
So we might as well face it all head on. So here we go, and if you need to take a break to take a shot while reading, I won’t judge. I promise to try and find a Silver Lining somewhere by the end of this, because we could all use a spoonful of sugar right about now.
Sessions takes his temper tantrum to court
The last time we checked in, Mayor Libby Schaaf had stuck up for immigrant communities throughout the Bay by issuing public warnings of an impending ICE raid. The move prompted the attorney general (a.k.a. California’s #1 fanboy) to pay our fine state a visit, where he made a blistering speech condemning our “irrational, unfair and unconstitutional policies” and going as far as accusing state politicians of being “radical extremists” – a term usually reserved for “terrorists” of Middle Eastern descent. He personally charged Schaaf with endangering the lives of federal agents and spewed some “alternative facts” that California calls bullshit on.
Gov. Brown contested claims Sessions made about the constitutional legality of our sanctuary city policies, reiterating that the state is responsible for the safety and protection of its citizens and the feds have the mandate to deal with immigration enforcement – he basically told Sessions, ICE and the Department of Justice in general that we’ll do our damn job and you can do your own. “This is basically going to war against the state of California,” Brown said, as reported by the LA Times.
Sessions followed up his chest beating performance with a lawsuit against the state of California on behalf of the Department of Justice, making this a rare, if not unprecedented occurrence in which the federal government sues a state government for protecting civil rights. The fed has typically sued states when they fail to protect minority groups, as was the case in Georgia and North Carolina regarding protection for people with disabilities and transgender people, respectively. The suit specifically names three California laws and interestingly, one of which is AB-103, which allows state officials to inspect detention facilities. Now, why in the world would they take issue with the inspection of detention facilities? To that suit and to threats of withholding federal funding, our “radical” state politicians have basically said, “Come at me bro.” It’s all fun and games until you piss off the state with one of the 10 largest economies in the world.
All about the guns
Wednesday marked one month since the tragic valentine’s Day shooting at a Florida high school. In honor of and in solidarity with those students, thousands of kids walked out of schools yesterday at 10 a.m. for at least 17 minutes to pay respect to the 17 victims. Their goals go beyond a few minutes of press coverage. What students across the country are loudly saying is that they want real change in our gun control laws and the impact gun lobbies, namely the National Rifle Association, have on their overall safety.
Following a whole lot of pressure, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a reform bill Friday that many feel falls short of what’s needed in terms of real change. But it’s still something…I guess. The bill, S.B. 7026, according to the Washington Post, “imposes a three-day waiting period for most purchases of long guns, raises the minimum age for buying those weapons to 21 and bans the possession of bump stocks, devices that can make semiautomatic weapons fire like fully automatic firearms.” It also loads money into school security and mental health programs, and opens the door to arm some school faculty – the latter being a major point of contention. Still, no mention of an assault rifle ban, go figure.
But of course, even those meager reforms were enough to draw ire from our buddies over at the NRA, who wasted no time in filing a lawsuit against the state of Florida – like within hours of the bill signing – claiming that it violates the Second and 14th amendments. They and their ardent supporters publicized their distaste for Parkland student activists yesterday and during the past month, illustrating one more time that they believe children should be seen and not heard – dead or alive isn’t really their concern.
Why Aldon, why?
Aldon Smith, the former 49ers and now former Raiders linebacker, has had a life checkered with legal problems and much of it has been in the very public eye. His past charges are too lengthy to sum up, but they were apparently not enough to scare him straight. Smith turned himself into San Francisco Police Monday for a domestic abuse incident that occurred over the weekend prior with his fiancee. According to the East Bay Times, he was charged with “domestic violence, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, false imprisonment, and vandalism” and was released the next day on $30,000 bail.
Reports of police dispatch audio shed light on the disturbing scene that unfolded at a home on Bush St., fueled by two bottles of tequila and an ongoing fight between the couple that resulting in him biting her wrists, beating her up, and jumping out of a window to escape police when she called 911. His fiancee and others close to Aldon have expressed concern for his life as they watch him battle addiction and legal problems, and now the loss of another job.
Four lives lost and no one to blame…
It was not even a week ago when we got reports that an armed man had fired shots and taken hostages at the country’s largest veterans’ facility/home in Yountville, an event that got little to no national news coverage. What we did get was a lot of speculation circulating on social media, some going as far as accusing the man of being some “military hating” lefty. The sad truth is that the man who came prepared to kill and to die on Friday was 36-year-old decorated Army veteran Albert Wong. The building he occupied during the several-hour standoff was operated by Pathway Home, an organization that caters to younger vets suffering from issues like PTSD and those needing assistance to reintegrate into civilian life. Following the limited news that day was torturous and slow, with no contact or status reported and no idea how much damage the man would bestow upon the enormous campus that houses many older veterans and serves thousands of others.
As facts began to make their way through the hype, we learned that Wong had been released from that same facility the previous week. He knew the three women he held hostage and by the end of the day, we found out that he had killed all three women, one of which was seven months pregnant, and himself inside the building that had recently turned him away when he sought help.
In the end, five lives were really lost Friday and the program has suspended operations indefinitely, according to ABC7 News, and we’re not any closer to understanding how that could have been prevented. I’d imagine that first we’d have to even acknowledge that it happened.
SF Bay reports that a “celebration of life” service will be held Monday for the three victims: Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48, and staff psychologists Dr. Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, 32 and Dr. Jennifer Gray Golick, 42.
Stephen Hawking died Wednesday at the age of 76, decades after doctors expected him to die due to his battle with ALS. But the wheelchair-ridden genius never was one to follow the rules and we can forever thank him for that and for the contributions he made to our perceptions about the universe. Maybe he will find a way to time travel after all…
SFPD in the thick of it again with another shooting that resulted in the death of a suspect in the Mission District at 20th and Capp streets. The suspect was inside the trunk of car and reportedly not obeying police commands when he was fatally shot in a spray of bullets on the evening of March 6.
And because we just can’t seem to get enough officer-involved shootings: Oakland Police claim the man they shot and killed Sunday near McArthur BART was armed and non-compliant. East Bay Times reports that they recovered a gun at the scene.
Racism is totally in again. At least that’s what you’d think if you listened to Steve Bannon’s speech in France where he told a group of nationalists to “let them call you a racist…wear it like a badge of honor.” That’s a direct statement from a man that occupied a position in the White House not so very long ago. Terrific.
An apparent drowning claimed two lives in Oakland’s Lake Merritt early Thursday morning. First responders arrived at the scene after a call came in from a witness. One victim was pronounced dead on arrival and the other was taken to a hospital where he later died.
It was announced Sunday that Richard Sherman was signed to a 3-year deal with his former rival, the San Francisco 49ers. If anyone felt an earthquake that same day, it was likely related to either excitement or extreme rage from local fans – just depends on who you’re talking to. Personally, I say, “bring it!” Now I know he pissed us off, but if we can brush that aside, I think a man with an occasional attitude, a stellar education and a penchant for bowties will fit right in and may make the season well worth watching.