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Sheriff Joe Arpaio to visit Silicon Valley next week

Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., will speak to the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley next Tuesday, May 6, in Mountain View.

ArpaioTickets, costing $30 for forum members and $40 for non-members, are available online; doors open at the IFES Portuguese Hall, 432 Stierlin Road, at 6:15 p.m. and the program starts at 7 p.m.

The forum – perhaps one of the final bastions of conservatism in an increasingly blue region – welcomes Arpaio, 81, as a hero. First elected to his office in 1992 and since nicknamed by supporters as “America’s toughest sheriff,” Arpaio might best be known for his stance over the past decade as an outspoken advocate for stronger enforcement and laws against illegal immigration. He also has undertaken an investigation into the validity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

But a federal judge twice has ruled unsafe living conditions and inadequate health care at Arpaio’s jails violate inmates’ constitutional rights; he’s been accused of abusing his authority for political purposes against local officials; and he has been sued by the U.S. Department of Justice and by other plaintiffs for racial profiling.

Posted on Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Hillary Clinton joins Political Shoe Hall of Fame

Hillary Clinton’s brush with flying footwear yesterday got us thinking about great shoes of political history. (Oh, just shut up and go with it.)

Naturally, we all went to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on his delegate desk at the United Nations in 1960; we were stunned to find out that there is neither film footage nor a photograph of this moment. (No, he didn’t wield the shoe during his “We will bury you” speech at the podium, of which footage exists.)

Another reporter suggested the Imelda Marcos shoe collection, circa 1986.

President George W. Bush showed quick reflexes in December 2008 by dodging shoes hurled by an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad.

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was the target in October 2010:

In October 2011, Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square held their shoes aloft in protest as Hosni Mubarak gave a speech:

Likewise in a January 2012 protest against German president Christian Wulff in Berlin:

And that brings us to yesterday’s moment as Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Las Vegas:

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014
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CA17: GOP candidate Vanlandingham speaks out

San Jose Republican Joel Vanlandingham decided to enter the 17th Congressional District race because he “got a little frustrated with all the politics,” he said Thursday afternoon.

Joel VanlandinghamFremont Democrat Ro Khanna’s challenge to incumbent Mike Honda, D-San Jose, has been making headlines for almost a year, and though Fremont Republican Vanila Singh entered the race at the start of 2014, none of them impress Vanlandingham.

The 47-year-old father of three said none of them seem willing or able to address “what’s going on in this country … the complete lack of accountability and perpetuation of the problems.”

He said Honda’s seven terms in Congress and Khanna’s stint in President Obama’s Commerce Department haven’t led them to any concrete achievements or plans on behalf of the district’s constituents. “It just doesn’t make any sense, the things that they say and do.”

Instead, he said, the district needs someone who’ll be accountable for what they actually accomplish – and that takes knowing what constituents want and need. He noted he’s half-Latino and was raised in a working-class family, and has worked as a tech-sector job recruiter for almost 20 years.

“I understand the people who actually live here, who are striving to build something better for their children,” he said.

Both Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, a product counsel at Google, filed candidacy papers shortly before last Friday’s deadline, perhaps radically altering the electoral calculus for June’s primary election.

Vanlandingham – who finished a distant second to incumbent Democrat Ron Gonzales in San Jose’s 2002 mayoral election – isn’t concerned that the other 17th District candidates have raised enough money to drown him out.

“This is not about money for me, I don’t need to raise $6 million so I can put TV commercials on – I think the people who live in this area are much more intelligent than that,” he said. “If you want donate some money, donate it to a charity – I don’t need it, I don’t want it.”

Posted on Thursday, March 13th, 2014
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Dueling petitions on the Chabot Gun Club’s fate

Activists are petitioning for and against an effort to shut down or significantly restrict the Chabot Gun Club, one of the East Bay’s most accessible and most used public outdoor shooting ranges.

The club, located in Chabot Regional Park, is open four days a week, never before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Its lease with the East Bay Regional Parks District to operate for the marksmanship range in Chabot Regional Park expires this year, and critics’ MoveOn petition to the EBRPD board reads:

Require a schedule for specific, stringent limits on noise as a condition of any operation of a gun range in Anthony Chabot Regional Park after the lease of the Chabot Gun Club expires this year. Your website says, “We acquire, manage, and preserve natural and cultural resources for all to enjoy now and into the future. Our parks are ideal for healthful recreation and environmental education. We invite you to enjoy hiking, biking, picnicking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, golfing, and nature study in our parks.” Consistent with your statement, users of the parks and neighbors deserve to be able to enjoy the parks and their homes and yards without being assaulted by the sound of gunfire, which because of increased use of the gun range and the way the sounds reverberate in the canyons and hills, is incessant and intrusive sometimes for hours at a time.

But club supporters’ petition reads:

We support the Chabot Gun Club marksmanship range as a safe place to shoot. This is a valuable community resource in that it promotes firearms training and safe use among local citizens.

The latter petition – which has more than twice as many signatures as of now – bears a warning that says, “MoveOn volunteers reviewed this petition and determined that it may not reflect MoveOn members’ progressive values. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site. Click here if you think MoveOn should support this petition.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
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Jesse Jackson on Silicon Valley’s ‘apartheid’

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is back in the valley.

The renowned civil rights leader told the Mercury News editorial board Thursday that his Rainbow PUSH Coalition plans to revitalize its Silicon Valley project and make its case to the region’s top tech firms that “we need to democratize the economy.”

Dai SuganoThe lack of minorities in Silicon Valley’s upper echelons is symptomatic of an economic apartheid that is less visible than the segregation of half a century ago but just as pernicious, he said.

“This valley is driving the industrial growth of America – in fact, it’s driving global growth,” Jackson said. But while people of color constitute a huge part of the marketplace for tech products and services, he said, they’re woefully underrepresented in the sector’s executive offices and boardrooms.

“To make America America, all of us must play,” he said. “This is not about diversity as much as it is about justice.”

It’s not a new theme. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition in 1999 bought stock in 50 Silicon Valley companies so it could have a say at annual shareholder meetings. Later that year, it announced the opening of an East Palo Alto office to highlight the disparity between Silicon Valley’s richest and poorest residents and advocate for more training and hiring of minorities and women at high-tech companies.

Jackson at the time ended up in an op-ed war with Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers, who contended the tech industry was a meritocracy offering equal access to anyone with the talent, education and ambition to succeed.

The public exchange got incredibly nasty. “Once, the civil rights movement was led by a great American who stirred the conscience of the nation,” Rodgers wrote at the time. “Today, its most visible spokesman is a hustler who exploits white shame for his own financial and political ends.”

Jackson on Thursday contended minorities still are being shut out of many of Silicon Valley’s opportunities. He scoffed at the idea that there aren’t enough minorities entering the industry with appropriate training: “It’s almost insulting to suggest they can’t be found.”

“We can’t go on this way,” he said, adding the coalition will reach out to the region’s leading employers and arrange meetings either individually or en masse. “We must begin to take these numbers back across the country to make people aware of who are partners and who are not.”

Reminded about his war of words with Rodgers, Jackson smiled and asked: “Is he still around?” Assured that he was, Jackson quipped that he wouldn’t mind meeting up with Rodgers — perhaps for a round of golf “one night.”

We would like to caddy.

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

Politicians mourn folk legend Pete Seeger’s death

Some prominent politicians from the Bay Area and beyond are among the legions mourning the death of folk music legend and activist Pete Seeger.

From President Barack Obama:

Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, posted this on Facebook:

I join the world in mourning the loss, but also celebrating the life, of legendary folk musician and incomparable American, Pete Seeger. He sang for all of us, and he got us all singing, as you can see in this video.

Pete Seeger stood for equality, for children, for a clean environment, and for an end to war. May the memory and spirit of Pete Seeger live in all of us for years to come.

From the Facebook page of Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

I am saddened to hear of the passing of folk legend Pete Seeger. His songs and activism inspired generations to fight for justice and peace. It is hard to imagine the Civil Rights and anti-war movements without “We Shall Overcome,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” I will honor his legacy by continuing to fight for the rights of all Americans and for justice around the world.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., tweeted:

And former President Bill Clinton tweeted:

Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
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Court won’t rehear challenge to foie gras ban

Attention California gastronomes: A federal appeals court refused Monday to re-hear a challenge to California’s law banning the force-feeding of fowl to produce foie gras, thus ending the case unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides to weigh in.

foie grasFoie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened beyond normal growth, usually by force-feeding that’s considered cruel by animal advocates. California’s law – passed by legislators and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 – gave producers years to prepare for the force-feeding ban before it took effect in mid-2012.

A group of foie gras producers and a California restaurant group sued two days after the law took effect, but a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in August that upheld a lower court’s decision that the plaintiffs failed to raise any serious questions about their rights under the new law, and that the law was within the state’s authority to enact.

That panel refused Monday to rehear the case, and no 9th Circuit judge has voted that the case be heard “en banc” by a larger, 11-judge panel.

The Humane Society reports more than a dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Israel, either have banned force feeding for foie gras production or have interpreted it as illegal under existing anti-cruelty laws.

Posted on Monday, January 27th, 2014
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Officials offer condolences on BART cop’s shooting

State and local officials are offering condolences to the family and colleagues of BART Police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr., who was fatally shot by another officer during a search of a suspect’s apartment Tuesday in Dublin.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the death of veteran BART Sergeant Tom Smith, who bravely served his community for two decades. Sergeant Smith’s family, friends and colleagues are in our thoughts as we honor his service during this painful time.”

From California Attorney General Kamala Harris:

“On behalf of the California Department of Justice, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Detective Sgt. Tom Smith. His sacrifice and service to the people of California will never be forgotten. The tragic loss of Detective Sgt. Smith reminds us of the danger our officers face everyday to keep our communities safe. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and with all the brave men and women of the BART Police Department.”

From San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón:

“Our deepest and most heartfelt condolences go out to the family of BART Sgt. Tom Smith. He was a veteran officer who lost his life yesterday in the line of duty. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Click here for our latest story on the tragedy.

Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
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Calif. firms to go on Pritzker’s 1st trade mission

Representatives from four California businesses will accompany U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on her first trade mission: a trip to Mexico in early February.

Penny PritzkerThey’ll be among 17 companies nationwide sending people as part of the delegation accompanying Pritzker – who was sworn in as Commerce Secretary in June – to Mexico City and Monterrey. The trip is focused on promoting U.S exports and business opportunities in key industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, information and communications technology, and health IT and medical devices.

Oracle, based in Redwood City; OSISoft LLC of San Leandro; Applied Science Inc. of Grass Valley; and Louroe Electronics of Van Nuys will send people on the trip.

“As the country’s chief commercial advocate, a key part of my job is to promote trade and investment and connect U.S. businesses with potential customers across the globe,” Pritkzer said in a news release. “Ninety-five percent of customers worldwide live outside U.S. borders, and that is why promoting exports is essential to economic growth and job creation. As part of our ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ we plan to carry out a robust schedule of trade missions all over the world.”

The Commerce Department notes Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner; 22 states depend on Mexico as the first or second destination for exports, and more than $1.25 billion in goods and services are traded between the United States and Mexico every day, supporting millions of jobs in both countries. Bilateral trade between the United States and Mexico was almost half a trillion dollars in 2012, and the United States exports more to Mexico than to all of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.

Posted on Monday, January 13th, 2014
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The Blotter is going on holiday hiatus

And so another year draws to a close, dear readers – I hope it’s been as happy for all of you as has been for me.

I’ll be on vacation until Monday, Jan. 6, and so the blog will go mostly dormant until then – although it’s possible something will come up between now and then that I just can’t resist posting.

I will leave you with my favorite holiday-season song, and my best wishes for a merry Christmas and very happy new year. See you in 2014.

Posted on Friday, December 20th, 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »