Most powerful sheriff in the country now faces 20 years in prison

❝ Once the most powerful sheriff in the United States, Lee Baca is now headed to prison.

A jury convicted the former Los Angeles County sheriff Wednesday on conspiracy charges stemming from his role in a cover-up of extensive civil rights abuses inside the county’s vast jail system.

❝ The scope of Baca’s actual conviction is much narrower than the departmental scandal that eventually chased him out of office in 2014, as dozens of his officers faced criminal charges.

❝ Baca’s own convictions tie back to one specific incident within a much longer saga of abusive and corrupt practices in the county jail system. Human rights lawyers had documented allegations of brutality and corruption inside Baca’s jails for years before federal investigators got involved. When Baca’s team discovered the investigators had an inmate informant, they hid the inmate from the FBI agents who were working with him and sent two people to confront the lead investigator at her home.

❝ Baca’s role in crafting and approving efforts to stymie an investigation put him in a legal box. But that’s akin to catching Al Capone for cheating on his taxes, considering the years of detailed reports on the culture of extreme and routine violence deputies used to maintain their authority within Baca’s jails.

❝ Baca, now 74, had initially sought to avoid trial entirely, copping a plea on lesser charges in exchange for a six-month sentence. A judge decided that the sentence was too light and refused to approve the deal.

Which is why continued vigilance over judges, how they are elected and/or appointed is critical. One of the last defenses against corruption and crime in a nation that often rewards criminal behavior with elective office. Worshipping the strong man syndrome.

Baca now faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Saudi women file petition to end male guardianship — the fight never ends

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❝ A petition signed by more than 14,000 Saudi women calling for an end to the country’s male guardianship system is being handed to the government.

Women must have the consent of a male guardian to travel abroad, and often need permission to work or study…

Activist Aziza Al-Yousef told the BBC she felt “very proud” of the campaign, but now needed a response.

❝ In the deeply conservative Islamic kingdom, a woman must have permission from her father, brother or other male relative – in the case of a widow, sometimes her son – to obtain a passport, marry or leave the country.

Many workplaces and universities also demand a guardian’s consent for female employees and students, although it is not legally required…

Renting a flat, undergoing hospital treatment or filing a legal claim often also require a male guardian’s permission, and there is very little recourse for women whose guardians abuse them or severely limit their freedom.

❝ In July, an Arabic Twitter hashtag which translates as “Saudi women want to abolish the guardianship system” went viral after a Human Rights Watch report was published on the issue. Saudi women tweeted comments, videos and artwork calling for change. Bracelets saying “I Am My Own Guardian” appeared.

❝ The women counted on the petition all gave their full names, though more signed anonymously. Hundreds of women – one estimate suggests as many as 2,500 – bombarded the Saudi King’s office over the weekend with telegrams containing personal messages backing the campaign.

Human Rights Watch researcher Kristine Beckerle, who worked on the report, described the response as “incredible and unprecedented”.

❝ Ms Yousef, who was stopped by police in 2013 for breaking the country’s ban on women driving, said she did not expect any negative consequences from the petition: “I’m not worried, I’m not doing anything wrong,” she said.

She and another activist took the petition to the Royal Court in person on Monday, but were advised to send it by mail…

“In every aspect, the important issue is to treat a woman as a full citizen,” she said.

Might be nice if some of our prominent citizens get on board this Freedom Train.

Georgia homophobes want Christian sharia — 400 companies ready to say “Goodbye”

A coalition of more than 400 companies is openly opposing a Georgia “religious liberty” bill that is rapidly heading toward passage, with at least one major company already leaving the state over the proposal.

The proposed law would allow both individuals and organizations to refuse to conduct business with or otherwise discriminate against anyone whose marriage they find counters their religious beliefs. It also protects individuals from existing nondiscrimination laws in Atlanta and elsewhere.

A similar bill was dismissed last year, but the speed at which this year’s version…is moving has raised serious concerns among state lawmakers, business owners, the faith community and activists.

The bill passed both the House and, in a different form, the Senate this month. The most recent version bars the government from taking “adverse action” against a person or faith-based organization that “believes, speaks, or acts in accordance” with the religious belief that “marriage should only be between a man and a woman”.

Telecom startup 373k announced it would to relocate from Decatur, Georgia, to Nevada immediately after the Georgia senate voted in favor of the measure last week…

Based on the over 500 emails he’s received from members of his district and elsewhere, House Representative Taylor Bennett agrees there’s “overwhelming opposition” to the proposed law.

Just in the last week, roughly 100 businesses have joined a coalition of what is now over 400 companies opposing the religious freedom bill. The group Georgia Prospers, of which Moore is a member, includes a range of businesses – from Fortune 500 companies like Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot to smaller ones across the state – in support of “treating all Georgians and visitors fairly”.

Several have cited fears that Georgia will suffer lost revenue, as in Indiana where public disdain for a similar bill, before it even became law, is said to have cost the state $60m. Atlanta’s chamber of commerce and visitors’ bureau produced separate studies citing a potential loss of $1bn to $2bn if the bill passes without civil rights protections.

The religious community is also represented among the many in opposition to the law. Nearly 300 clergy members in the state spoke out this week against the “overly broad, discriminatory” proposal.

This is part of the same range of defenses erected and attempted early days of the civil rights movement. Hard-core bigots can always rely on their officially religious peers to support any rejection of the rest of the nation moving forward. They get what they deserve when the civil portion of the United States decides to boycott backwards ideology and reactionary behavior.

I would be no more likely to support a business or social endeavor in a state with laws like this than I would have to deal with comparable bodies in apartheid South Africa BITD.

Want to go back to 19th Century bigotry – then you deserve a 19th Century income.

Symbol of a past whose time is over

Since Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis was taken into federal custody Thursday for refusing the Supreme Court’s order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples (and subsequently released on the condition she not interfere with the issuing of marriage licenses), the religious right has made the Democrat into an icon. Republican presidential candidates are elevating her as the poster child of the Barack Obama administration’s alleged crusade against religious liberty. But by using her government position to force same-sex couples into conforming to her religious beliefs, Davis has instead cast herself as a lasting symbol of bigotry…

While Davis’ actions could be misconstrued as civil disobedience, what separates her from actual civil disobedience leaders is that her actions are rooted in a denial of equality, rather than a push for greater equality. In his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King wrote,

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

In refusing the court’s order to recognize same-sex marriage, Davis is no different than Alabama governor George Wallace, who vowed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” and defied federal authorities by blocking a doorway to prevent two black University of Alabama students from going to class.

Kim Davis’ era is over. It’s time to impeach her and replace her with a clerk who will do the job without discrimination.

According to Pew research, American support of marriage equality went from 57 percent opposed and 35 in favor in 2001, to 55 percent in favor and 39 percent opposed in 2015…Even the right-leaning National Journal admits that support for gay marriage is up by at least 30 points among virtually all demographics — the only demographics that doesn’t include are African-Americans (up by 26 points), Southerners (up by 25) and Republicans (up by 21 percent). Davis and her supporters fall into a very vocal minority.

Americans have largely evolved beyond their hatred. While racism remains rampant 50 years after desegregation, racists can no longer deny equal access to public places solely based on the color of someone’s skin. And while homophobic views still pervade much of the rural United States despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, are finally having their marriages recognized. Kim Davis’ era is over. It’s time to impeach her and replace her with a clerk who will do the job without discrimination.

Even on the lowest common denominator of local politics – Kim Davis got her job as a replacement for Mommy who was retiring. All Americans are accustomed to the dangers of generational family politics. We’ve suffered through generations of Bushes starting with a Hitler supporter.

And by the way, one of her deputy clerks is her son. Ready to carry on the family traditions of religious bigotry – and nepotism.