Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016



No Indictment In Beavercreek Police Shooting


A special prosecutor says a grand jury found the white Beavercreek police officers who shot and killed an African-American man inside of a store  were justified in their actions. 

Mark Piepmeier said Wednesday the Greene County grand jury in Xenia opted not to issue any indictments in the Aug. 5 death of 22-year-old John Crawford III. A 911 caller reported Crawford was waving what appeared to be a rifle in the store. Police said he didn't obey commands to put down what turned out to be an air rifle he had apparently taken off a shelf. Crawford's family says the shooting was not justified and wants federal authorities to investigate whether race was a factor.

John Crawford Shooting: Surveillance Video Shows Police Killing Black Man Holding BB Gun He Picked Up In Walmart Store


Newly released surveillance footage shows the final moments of John Crawford, a 22-year-old black man, who was shot by police inside a Walmart outlet while carrying a BB gun that he had picked up in the store.

The footage can be viewed here (warning: Features disturbing images). It shows John Crawford standing at the end of an aisle in the Beavercreek, Ohio, outlet, being shot moments after encountering officers. Police had responded to a 911 call from Ronald Ritchie, 24.

A report from NBC News said that Richie told authorities that a man was “walking around with a gun in the store... like, pointing it at people.” He added that Crawford was “loading [the gun] right now... waving it back and forth” and that “he [Crawford] just pointed it at, like, two children.”

Video footage released Wednesday shows Crawford picking up the rifle, and then seemingly browsing in the store. However, Crawford disappears from the view of the cameras on a few occasions making it hard to prove either way if the incidents described in the 911 call, and not seen in the video, took place.

An Ohio grand jury decided Wednesday not to indict Sean Williams and Sgt. David Darkow, the officers involved in the shooting, according to a report from the Dayton Daily News. The jury had reportedly considered charges of murder, reckless homicide and negligent homicide. The officers said that they fired on Crawford after he refused to comply with instructions to drop the rifle. However, Crawford's family disputed this version of events.

In a statement released after the grand jury's decision, the family said that they were “disgusted” with the announcement, adding: “The undisputed evidence shows that Officer Sean Williams shot and killed Mr. Crawford while his back was turned and without adequate warning. Needless to say, there was definitely sufficient evidence and probable cause to move forward with criminal charges.”

The family also called for a federal investigation to determine if race was a factor in the shooting, according to a report from Crawford was black, while the two officers who shot him are white.

Following the grand jury's decision not to indict the officers, the Department of Justice announced that it would launch a review into the case. The Justice Department’s civil rights division and the FBI will “take appropriate action if...


New York climate march attracts nearly 400,000 people


The People’s Climate March in New York has attracted nearly 400,000 people, say organizers, making it the largest climate march in history.

The march aims to shine a spotlight on environmental issues ahead of the U.N. Climate Summit on Sept. 23. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took part in the two-mile march through the streets of Manhattan, along with musician Sting and actors Leonardo di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo. Former vice president Al Gore and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also were present. 

Attendance at the New York march dwarfs the 50,000 people who took part in the Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., last year, and the 80,000 who attended a march at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. Organizers had predicted that more than 100,000 demonstrators would attend the Manhattan march.

The New York march was the largest of 2,646 events taking place in 156 countries, according to organizers.

“We said it would take everyone to change everything -- and everyone showed up,” said Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, in a statement.

To calculate the attendance, organizers used a crowd density analysis formula developed by a professor of game theory and complex systems at Carnegie Mellon University. The formula calculated average crowd density over specific intervals, factoring in the surface area covered by the crowd and the speed and duration of the march.

The Climate Summit, which President Obama is expected to attend, is timed to coincide with the start of a new U.N. General Assembly session. Advocates for a climate agreement are hoping that the event will breathe new life into the U.N.’s green agenda.

The U.N. has suffered a number of blows in its push for a climate agreement. Australia’s new government, for example, recently repealed its two-year-old national carbon tax, and countries such as Canada, Russia and Japan have refused to sign on for an extension to the Kyoto Protocol to combat greenhouse gases.

Dan Simmons, vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based free market think tank, told that public desire for greenhouse gas reductions should not be over-stated.

“Environmental activists have tried really hard in recent years to raise the profile of greenhouse gas issues,” he said. “Limiting greenhouse gas is not something that the...

Tens Of Thousands Crowd New York For Climate March


NEW YORK, Sept 21 - An international day of action on climate change brought tens of thousands onto the streets of New York on Sunday, with organizers predicting the biggest protest on the issue for five years.

Some 100,000 people, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. senators were expected to join the People's Climate March in midtown Manhattan, ahead of Tuesday's United Nations hosted summit in the city to discuss reducing carbon emissions that threaten the environment.

Organizers said some 550 busloads had arrived for the rally, which followed similar events in 166 countries including Britain, France, Afghanistan and Bulgaria.

"Today I am marching for my children. I am marching so they can live in a world without worrying about the next big storm destroying their community," said Bill Aristovolus, the superintendent of an apartment building in New York City's working-class Bronx borough.

A crowd including U.S. senators Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island lined up along a mile (1.6 km) long stretch along New York's Central Park, bearing signs reading "stop tar sands" and "keep the oil in the ground." Marchers carried pictures of sunflowers and, at the rally's head, a banner reading "front lines of crisis, forefront of climate change."

The march was due to step off around 11:30 a.m. ET (1530 GMT), covering a 2-mile (3.2-km) route winding past Times Square.

Organizers billed the event as the largest gathering focused on climate change since 2009, when tens of thousands gathered in Copenhagen in a sometime raucous demonstration that resulted in the detention of 2,000 protesters.

De Blasio on Sunday unveiled a new plan for the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

All 3,000 major city-owned buildings would be retrofitted with energy saving heating, cooling and light systems by then, he said, though meeting the commitment will also require significant investments by private landlords.

"Climate change is an existential threat to New Yorkers and our planet," de Blasio said. "Acting now is nothing short of a moral imperative." 


Convicted felon Roderick Wright to resign from state Senate


Democratic State Sen. Roderick D. Wright said Monday that he will resign from office effective Sept. 22-- bowing to pressure three days after a judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail on felony perjury and voting fraud charges for lying about living in his Senate district when he ran for office in 2008.

Wright, who was threatened with an expulsion vote if he did not step down, agreed to step down but asked for a week to say goodbye to his staff and constituents.

"Effective Sept. 22, 2014, I hereby resign from the California State Senate," Wright said in a letter Monday to the Senate secretary.

It's painful. At the end of the day you want to consider what's the best thing for the house and that was the best thing for the house.- Roderick D. Wright

“It’s painful,” Wright said in an interview. “At the end of the day you want to consider what’s the best thing for the house and that was the best thing for the house.”

Wright has said in the past that he was wrongly convicted and plans to appeal but did not want to talk about his guilt or innocence. “It doesn’t matter what I think at this point. You have to move on with your life,” he said.  

"The Pro Tem has accepted his resignation," said Rhys Williams, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) helped broker the deal, "Today is a sad day for both my friend and for California,” he said in a statement. “Senator Wright’s prosecution has been unfortunate and, in many ways, unfair.  At best, this is an ambiguous law and, in this case, its application has been both arbitrary and selective. But today, Senator Wright did the right thing for his community and the Senate by resigning from office."

Wright, 62, was sentenced Friday to jail time, a lifetime ban from holding future public office,   three years' probation and 1,500 hours of community service. He was ordered to surrender and begin serving his sentence Oct. 31.

Wright had originally proposed to step down Oct. 31, but Senate Democratic leaders worried the longer he stayed in office the bigger issue it would become in the Nov. 4 election, where their party is struggling to regain a two-thirds majority. In agreeing to delay Wright's resignation one week, Senate leaders considered that it would cost about $20,000 to reconvene the Senate, which had adjourned...

Rod Wright sentenced to 90 days in residency case


For his conviction on eight felony counts over lying about where he lived when he ran in 2008, state Sen. Roderick Wright was sentenced Friday to 90 days in the Los Angeles County jail system. He also has to serve 1,500 hours of community service and three years’ probation. Wright was banned from ever holding public office again. The jail term is scheduled to begin Oct. 31. How long it lasts in reality is up to the jail system.

Politically, this has to send another shiver through the spines of political candidates who cut corners on official papers — or outright lie — about where they live when they register to vote and file to run. Wright claimed to live in Inglewood but prosecutors said he actually slept in Baldwin Hills. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was recently convicted of felonies for saying in official papers that he lived in Panorama City, while the DA argued he actually lived outside the district in Sun Valley. There are believed to be lots of electeds who do this, either because they don't like living in certain districts or because the district where they have the best chance to win is not the one where they live. Now prosecutors are acting on it. Members of Congress, by the way, don't have to live in their districts, but they also can't lie on their voter registration.

Rep. Maxine Waters, state Sen. Holly Mitchell and Assemblyman Steve Bradford allattended the sentencing hearing in support of Wright.

The other political angle, of course, is in Sacramento. The Democrats in the Senate lost their super majority when Wright and two Democratic members also facing felony charges — Ron Calderon of Montebello and Leland Yee of San Francisco — were suspended and prevented from voting. Wright will eventually be out of office — it's unclear whether he has to be ousted by the Senate or not — but then will likely be replaced by another Democrat. The Democrats hope to get the supermajority back by the time the budget comes up for a vote again next spring. For what it's worth, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg on Friday called on Wright to resign.


On one-year anniversary of Bridgegate episode, New Jersey Gov. Christie appears back to normal


The New Jersey Republican seems to have mostly moved past the bizarre traffic scandal that threatened to derail his presidential ambitions, even though multiple investigations into the incident are still ongoing.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears to have largely moved past the lane-closing scandal that rocked his administration and threatened to derail his political career one year later. But many outside his tight inner circle are still waiting for investigations to conclude before making up their minds.

What happens next will depend largely on the outcome of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey into the lane realignments that started a year ago Tuesday on the George Washington Bridge and were apparently hatched by the Republican governor’s aides as political payback. That includes how close they cut to Christie and whether any new evidence emerges pointing to him knowing more about the plot earlier than he’s said. It’s not known when, or if, indictments could come.

A state legislative committee has also been investigating the allegations, while the Manhattan District Attorney and Securities and Exchange Commission have been looking into potential abuses of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey money on another bridge.

Meanwhile, things appear to have returned to normal for Christie. After a self-imposed period of exile and contrition, Christie is back to his old self, warning calamity unless public workers accept another round of pension and benefits cuts and earning national headlines with footage of him blowing up at a New Jersey woman who dared to suggest that his musical idol, Bruce Springsteen, didn’t want his music played at the Republican governor’s events.

“Christie’s strategy has been essentially to put it in the rearview mirror. I think it’s the right strategy.” said David Redlawsk, director of the local Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. “And so far, he’s been lucky that it’s working,”

From Jersey shore boardwalks to restaurants in early-voting states, Christie is constantly urged to run for president in 2016 — which he is publicly mulling. Nationally, he is bruised, but back to being considered a top-tier candidate for the Republican nomination. And locally, his poll numbers are back to where they were in the summer of 2012, before Superstorm Sandy sent them through the roof.

Still, many party heavyweights and GOP donors are waiting to see what develops before making their minds up about the governor.

“Nobody wants to start working for a candidate who may be tied up in ongoing, never-ending investigations,” said Steve Duprey, New...

Christie's 2016 bid still affected by bridge scandal, a year after traffic jam


TRENTON — There’s no sugarcoating it.

Gov. Chris Christie’s status as Republican presidential favorite for 2016 took a big hit following the George Washington lane closure scandal, and he’s still trying to recover a year after the massive traffic jam.

At this time last year, Christie was poised to sail into a second term after his Democratic challenger failed to gain much traction. But shortly his resounding victory helped burnish his national image as Republican who could win over a blue state, Christie’s political fortunes turned.

The traffic jam, slowly at first, trickled into a serious problem for a governor many believe is ramping up to a White House run in 2016.

It exploded into a full-fledged scandal after the infamous "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email sent by a former top Christie aide was released to the public. The U.S. Attorney’s office continues to investigate the lane closures, which Democrats believe were orchestrated by those close to Christie because Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor refused to endorse the governor’s re-election.

After a deflated Christie normally known for sparring with reporters declared he was "embarrassed and humiliated" during a nearly two-hour Statehouse press conference, his approval ratings tanked and the national conversation surrounding his 2016 Republican presidential chances was turned on its head.

It left Christie scrambling to survive the scandal and then repair the damage.

"It was significant," said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian and professor at Princeton University. "He went from being the probable frontrunner of the Republican Party to a guy who is struggling to overcome a scandal. It tarnished his image and raised doubts among donors whether he can go the distance."

Before the scandal, Christie could have taken ease in knowing influential donors interested in being an early supporter of a winning candidate would be quick to line up behind a 2016 Christie presidential ticket. The early support could have helped to clear the field from other GOP contenders likely to pose a significant threat.

But the bridge controversy put that on hold and now, Zelizer says, some donors are still proceeding with caution. "They’re worried about what other stories emerge," he said.

Others agree Christie took a hit with his base of political movers and shakers needed to inject life into a...