I’m working with a project that will be launch in a few weeks, called California Newsladder. California Newsladder is a news aggregator for progressive California blogs and news sites.
It is running now, so go take a look. Here is what it is about: If you have signed up, you can add links to stories that you think are important or interesting. If you click a link you can read the entire story at the site where it came from.
You can also recommend links that you see there. As the stories are recommended they climb up the ladder. After Newsladder’s launch, each day the top ten stories be sent to legislators and their aides, reporters and editors and TV and radio stations around the state. This will help expand the reach of progressive blogs and news sites like California Progress Report and Calitics.
California Newsladder is part of the system that also has Burma Newsladder and some new sites coming up.
by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino
March of 1995 began like any other month for me. The days were filled with chasing soon to be five year-old triplets, washing hundreds of pounds of laundry, kissing skinned knees and picking up toys, until the phone rang. Captain Mike Gauldin, the detective who worked my case after a man broke into my apartment when I was a twenty-two year-old college student and raped me at knifepoint in Burlington, N.C. wanted to come see me with Rob Johnson, then the assistant D.A. of Alamance County.
They arrived before lunch and we sat on the deck enjoying the spring sunshine. We talked about the weather, the kids, current events, and then quickly the topic changed. Ronald Cotton, the man sent away for life for attacking me, wanted a DNA test. They needed new blood drawn because my sample from the eleven year-old rape kit had deteriorated.
I had already sat through two trials and I was furious, but I didn’t hesitate. “Let’s go to the lab right now,” I responded. Within hours Mike Gauldin and Rob Johnson were headed to the SBI labs with my vial of blood. I knew the tests would show what I had known all along: that Ronald Cotton was a monster. It was Ronald Cotton who threatened to kill me, who had chased me through the rain that night while I fled for my life. And it was Ronald Cotton who I saw every night in my nightmares, who I prayed God would have killed, and who I hated each and every day of the last eleven years.
By John Van de Kamp
Health care reform hasn’t made it to the Governor’s desk this year, but 3 crucial public safety bills have. Governor Schwarzenegger has the opportunity to sign landmark legislation that would help prevent wrongful convictions in California, and make this state a leader in addressing a serious nationwide problem.
How serious is the problem? When the innocent go to prison, the guilty go free. That is a very serious public safety problem. And it happens more often then most people think.
Just recently, Stephen Colbert interviewed the 200th DNA exoneree, Jerry Miller. Colbert gave him a card on behalf of “society” saying “Sorry.” Here in California, Herman Atkins spent 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Here is Herman Atkins’ story:
(As I mentioned yesterday, I am helping ACLU of Northern California and The Justice Project to get three very important bills signed. Right now there are three bills that the California legislature has passed and are ready for Governor Schwarzenegger to sign. But he might not sign them. These bills will help stop wrongful convictions. So we are trying to get some public awareness that these bills are waiting to be signed. These bills are SB 511, SB 609 and SB 756.
Today I am guest-posting a piece by a police officer who took a false confession and knows that it really can happen. — Dave J.)
As I write this, the post-arrest recorded interview of Senator Larry Craig has hit the press, circulated around the blogosphere, and produced heated discussion among the public. The recording includes a confession to a crime that Senator Craig now says he did not commit. No doubt that tape will prove central to the consideration of Senator Craig’s claim, since it will provide incontrovertible evidence of what both he and law enforcement said.
Coincidentally, just last week the California legislature passed a bill, SB 511, which would mandate the recording of custodial interrogations to prevent wrongful convictions based upon false confessions. The bill has now been sent to Governor Schwarzenegger.
To most, falsely confessing to a crime seems counterintuitive. It is hard to understand — barring outright torture – why a sane and intelligent person would admit to a crime that he did not commit, especially if the confession could yield a lifetime prison term or even a death sentence.
As a law enforcement officer with 24 years of experience with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. (13 of those as a homicide detective), the phenomenon always eluded me too. Until someone provided a false confession to me.
Health care reform may have stalled in California, but Governor Schwarzenegger still has a chance to make the state a leader in fixing a national problem: wrongful convictions. Three major criminal justice reform bills are now on the Governor’s desk. The measures are designed to safeguard against wrongful convictions by making practical changes to eyewitness identification procedures, reforming the process by which confessions are attained, and regulating the use of jailhouse snitch testimony.
With more than 200 exonerations to date in California it is critical that measures are enacted before more mistakes are made. The governor has the ability to not only protect the innocent but enhance public safety and the integrity of California’s law enforcement by signing these important bills into law, and setting a standard for the nation.
I attended the Santa Clara County Annual Democratic Dinner tonite. One of the speakers was California Controller John Chiang. I did not know anything about Chiang before I saw him speak, and had never heard him speak. I don’t know about the next governor’s race here, and don’t know who is thinking of running.
But now I have head of John Chiang. This guy is one of us, and he was on fire. Everybody should start paying attention to this guy. He’s great. He’s there to protect the people of California – ALL of us. He talked about corporate domination, global warming and energy, gay rights, Asians, and everyone. This guy is GOOD.
So keep an eye on John Chiang. I’m excited. I hope he runs for Governor.
Shorter Daily Kos: Californication: Yachts safe, homeless not so much.: The new California budget removes $45 million from spending to help the homeless mentally ill, in order to add a $45 million tax break for yacht owners.
California came out of the “conservative revolution” with a requirement that 2/3 of the legislators approve any budget. So a few Republican Senators were able to block passage of the most recent budget until they got everything they wanted. Among other Republican priorities this included a rule preventing California Attorney General Jerry Brown from enforcing global warming rules, and big cuts in health care spending.
How long will the public continue to let this radical minority treat us this way?
…Under a single-payer system, the government has sole control over health care coverage, so it controls how and when money can be allocated to health care expenses. With this system, government bureaucrats will be charged with saving money for the government – not patients’ lives. The current health care system is in need of reform, but a single-payer system is not the cure for universal access to proper coverage. We need to seek alternative solutions, such as free-market competition, and not assume government-run care is in our best interest.
This is an example of the thinking that sets in after years of anti-government propaganda.
So how does this letter read if you think of government as citizens banding together to take care of each other and get things done?
…Under a single-payer system, the people have control over their health care coverage, so they control how and when money can be allocated to health care expenses to best benefit the public. Compare this to the current system, in which corporate accountant bureaucrats are charged with saving money for the company – not patients’ lives. … We need to corporate-run health care, and should not assume publicly-run care is in the public’s best interest.
This is a guest post by John F. Terzano of The Justice Project
Harold Hall was only 18 years old when he was sent to prison. He spent nearly two decades of his life in a California prison for crimes he did not commit.
Hall was wrongfully convicted of double murder in 1985 based in part on evidence provided by a jailhouse informant who fabricated a confession Hall allegedly made to him.
Jailhouse informant testimony is widely regarded as the least reliable form of testimony in the criminal justice system, but unfortunately in Mr. Hall’s case and numerous others, uncorroborated testimony from unscrupulous jailhouse informants, or “snitches,” is still used by prosecutors to obtain convictions.
This is a guest post by John F. Terzano of The Justice Project
Herman Atkins suffered for 12 years in a California prison – for crimes he did not commit. Then DNA exonerated him. Mr. Atkins was a victim of faulty eyewitness identification.
Mr. Atkins’ wrongful conviction for rape and robbery began when the victim and a witness identified him as the perpetrator after seeing his picture on a wanted poster for an unrelated crime. Then, the photo array used later by police also contained the wanted poster photo, which had already been viewed by the witnesses.
Watch three minutes of Herman’s story on YouTube:
In California two of the several propositions are to tax oil companies to fund research into alternative energy and to tax cigarettes to pay for health care.
So the tobacco and oil companies have paid for a flier that has been mailed to registered Democrats telling them that the Democratic Party opposes those propositions. AP Wire | Democrats angry over flier suggesting they oppose oil tax measure.
Leading Democrats joined supporters of Proposition 87, an initiative seeking to fund alternative fuel research by taxing instate oil production, to publicly distance the party from the flier, which was mailed to 4.2 million households.
The so-called Voter Information Guide for Democrats endorses Democratic candidates running for statewide offices. But it also urges voters to defeat the oil tax measure and another initiative seeking to boost taxes on cigarettes to fund health programs. Both initiatives are supported by the California Democratic Party.
I’ll bet that things like this are happening all across the country. It is time to put corporate executives in jail for things like this. And it is time to get corporations OUT of our politics.