Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NRA-ILA)

 

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2018

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

Lawmakers in California must have temporarily exhausted their store of ideas for legislating against law-abiding gun enthusiasts. After years of padding the bureaucracy with ever more complicated rules, restrictions and bans for people who legally own and enjoy guns, lawmakers are now considering a measure to strike a preemptive declaration against gun ownership.

The California bill, AB 1927, introduced by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, directs the state’s Department of Justice to “develop and launch a secure Internet-based platform to allow a person who resides in California to voluntarily add his or her own name to the California Do Not Sell List.” This list would be uploaded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), meaning the system would affect a person’s ability to acquire a firearm not just in California, but anywhere in the country.

On registering, a person has the option of providing the state with the names and email addresses of up to five contacts, who have the right to be notified as soon as the registrant seeks a restoration of the right to acquire guns. The bill makes it a crime to knowingly sell or transfer a firearm to a person on the list (and a licensed gun dealer is liable to lose their dealer’s license, too). “Receipt” of a firearm is “unlawful” for anyone on the list, although the bill specifies that mere possession is not prohibited (“possession after the moment of receipt is not unlawful and the fact of possession may not be relied upon to prove a violation” of the law).

While getting on the Do Not Sell List may be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse, getting off the list is challenging different matter entirely. The registrant must file a petition with a court to have his or her name removed. All persons on the registrant’s contact list are entitled to advance notice of the date, time, and location of the court hearing. And although a person may register on the list for any reason (or no reason at all), a court is authorized to remove a registrant off the list only after he or she establishes, by a “preponderance of the evidence that he or she is not at elevated risk of suicide.” The evidence needed to satisfy this standard isn’t specified, but it’s safe to assume that a mental health evaluation and testimony from a mental health professional will be required. Once a court grants the order, the state must remove the person from the NICS Index and expunge all records related to the person’s registration on the list.

A similarly inspired bill to allow a “voluntary waiver of firearm rights” is pending in Washington State.  S.B. 5553allows anyone to file a waiver document with the court, and to include the name of a “person to be contacted” if a voluntary waiver is later revoked. All waivers are fed into a state police database used to determine eligibility to purchase a handgun. The person is free to revoke the waiver at a later date, but the waiver must stay in effect for a minimum of two weeks (seven days, plus another week in which the police must delete the waiver from the database). The bill makes it a felony to provide a gun to a person where there is reasonable cause to believe the person is subject to an active waiver, and a licensed dealer is prohibited from selling or transferring a gun to such persons.

The apparent rationale behind these bills is to provide those at risk of suicide with a way to declare themselves “prohibited persons” for the purposes of future gun purchases. Assemblyman Bonta describes his bill as giving “people the power to create a potentially life-saving barrier,” and the summary on the Washington proposal claims it will prevent suicide by helping “people in crisis maintain their autonomy while saving their lives.”

Overlooking several practical issues, the bills’ effectiveness isn’t likely to match the declared sentiment of advocates.

The California bill requires that the “Internet-based platform” for the list “credibly verif[y]” the identity of those who sign up online. Neither bill, though, has a corrective procedure to remove anyone included because they share a name and birthdate with someone properly listed, or because of some other error. The only way the bill provides for getting de-listed on California’s registry is convincing a court not that there’s been a mistake, but that the registrant has a non-elevated risk of suicide.

Waivers of constitutional rights “must be voluntary and must be knowing, intelligent acts done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.” In Washington State, persons contemplating a waiver should be aware that the waiver remains effective even after it is revoked because the police have a week to process the revocation, with ensuing legal consequences. Because of the time lag between actual revocation and the update to the police database, a person who seeks to obtain a gun after revocation but during that period is liable to be reported to a separate police database of people who attempt to acquire guns while prohibited under state or federal law.

The most distressing thing about these bills is the focus on the method while bypassing the underlying, core problem of the person’s suicidal impulses, depression, or other mental health emergency. Experts estimate that the vast majority of persons who commit suicide suffer from a mental illness at the time of their death. The same mindset impelled “gun violence restraining order” laws in California and Washington State, aimed specifically at disarming persons at risk of harming themselves (but only with a gun). Regardless, Assemblyman Bonta, resorting to the favorite catchphrase of the gun control movement, describes his bill as “a common-sense measure” to allow people to “self-restrict their ability to purchase a firearm.”

While lawmakers continue to look for new ways to restrict gun rights, people seeking help may find there’s a lot of talk about promoting health through “innovative” prevention strategies for at-risk individuals, without much in the way of actual help.

California pot shops ring in 2018, ring up first legal sales

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

California pot shops ring in 2018, ring up first legal sales


Margot Simpson, right, and Diana Gladden wait in line to purchase marijuana at Harborside marijuana dispensary, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. Starting New Year’s Day, recreational marijuana can be sold legally in California. (Mathew Sumner/Associated Press)
 January 1 at 1:09 PM
OAKLAND, Calif. — Customers lined up early to purchase recreational marijuana legally for the first time in California as the new year brought broad legalization some two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.Jeff Deakin, 66, his wife Mary and their dog waited all night and were first in a line of 100 people when Harborside dispensary, a longtime medical pot shop in Oakland, opened at 6 a.m. and offered early customers joints for a penny and free T-shirts that read “Flower to the People — Cannabis for All.”

“It’s been so long since others and myself could walk into a place where you could feel safe and secure and be able to get something that was good without having to go to the back alley,” Deakin said. “This is kind of a big deal for everybody.”

The nation’s most populous state joins a growing list of other states, and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

California voters in 2016 made it legal for adults 21 and older to grow, possess and use limited quantities of marijuana, but it wasn’t legal to sell it for recreational purposes until Monday.

Finding a retail outlet to buy non-medical pot in California won’t be easy — at least initially. Only about 90 businesses received state licenses to open New Year’s Day. They are concentrated in San Diego, Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Palm Springs area.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the many cities where recreational pot will not be available right away because local regulations were not approved in time to start issuing city licenses needed to get state permits. Meanwhile, Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside are among the communities that have adopted laws forbidding recreational marijuana sales.

Just after midnight, some raised joints instead of champagne glasses.

Johnny Hernandez, a tattoo artist from Modesto, celebrated by smoking “Happy New Year blunts” with his cousins.

“This is something we’ve all been waiting for,” he said. “People might actually realize weed isn’t bad. It helps a lot of people.”

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and state Sen. Nancy Skinner were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony as his city began selling marijuana legally. Customers began lining up before dawn Monday outside Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest dispensaries in the nation.

Los Angeles officials announced late last month that the city will not begin accepting license applications until Jan. 3, and it might take weeks before any licenses are issued. That led to widespread concern that long-established businesses would have to shut down during the interim.

However, attorneys advising a group of city dispensaries have concluded that those businesses can continue to legally sell medicinal marijuana as “collectives,” until they obtain local and state licenses under the new system, said Jerred Kiloh of the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many of those shops, if any, would be open New Year’s Day.

“We are trying to continue to provide patient access,” said Kiloh, who owns a dispensary in the city’s San Fernando Valley area. With the new licensing system stalled in Los Angeles “my patients are scared, my employees are scared.”

The status of the Los Angeles shops highlights broad confusion over the new law.

State regulators have said shops must have local and state licenses to open for business in the new year. But the city’s top pot regulator, Cat Packer, told reporters last month that medicinal sales can continue to consumers with a doctor’s recommendation until new licenses are issued.

The state banned “loco-weed” in 1913, according to a history by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the pot advocacy group known as NORML. The first attempt to undo that by voter initiative in 1972 failed, but three years later felony possession of less than an ounce was downgraded to a misdemeanor.

In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Clinton’s drug czar and three former presidents, California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational use and gave the state a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in 2018.

Today, 29 states have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, five more states have passed recreational marijuana laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.

Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.

The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.

“There’s going to be a public-health cost and a public-safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations,” said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. “It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.”

At first, pot shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls. But eventually, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all pot from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.

Jamie Garzot, founder of the 530 Cannabis shop in Northern California’s Shasta Lake, said she’s concerned that when the current crop dries up, there will be a shortage of marijuana that meets state regulations. Her outlet happens to be close to some of California’s most productive marijuana-growing areas, but most of the surrounding counties will not allow cultivation that could supply her.

“Playing in the gray market is not an option,” Garzot said. “California produces more cannabis than any state in the nation, but going forward, if it’s not from a state-licensed source, I can’t put it on my shelf. If I choose to do so, I run the risk of losing my license.”

In 2016, the state produced an estimated 13.5 million pounds of pot, and 80 percent was illegally shipped out of state, according to a report prepared for the state by ERA Economics, an environmental and agricultural consulting firm. Of the remaining 20 percent, only a quarter was sold legally for medicinal purposes.

That robust black market is expected to continue to thrive, particularly as taxes and fees raise the cost of retail pot by as much as 70 percent.

___

Melley reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Christopher Weber, Michael R. Blood and Michael Balsamo contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

___

Follow AP’s complete coverage of marijuana legalization in California: https://apnews.com/tag/CaliforniaMarijuana .

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thomas Fire is the largest blaze in California history

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Thomas Fire is the largest blaze in California history

Strong wind blows embers from smoldering trees at the Thomas Fire last week in Montecito, California.

(CNN)The Thomas Fire is now the largest wildfire in California’s modern history after torching 273,400 acres.

The blaze has surpassed the size of the Cedar Fire near San Diego, which destroyed 273,246 acres in 2003, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.
Cal Fire has compiled a list of the biggest fires since 1932.
The Thomas Fire has devastated swaths of Southern California since it began on December 4 fueled by strong Santa Ana winds in Ventura County. It remains as the third-most destructive in structure losses, with 1,063 buildings burned, according to Cal Fire.
As of Friday night, the blaze was only 65% contained. Firefighters have been battling the flames for nearly three weeks in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and are expected to continue working around the clock until January 7, fire officials said.
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Currently, there are more than 2,800 firefighters trying to put down the flames.
Improving weather conditions have helped firefighters in the past days. A higher humidity and cooler temperatures have decreased the threat of new fires, leading authorities to continue lifting evacuations that had forced thousands to leave their homes.

The latest

• Long-awaited rain: The fire area has not received any rainfall over .10 inches since February, Cal Fire said. No rain is expected in the next weeks.
• Hefty price tag: About $110 million has been spent fighting the massive blaze, fire officials said. This year has been the costliest for wildfires in US history. Damages have topped $10 billion, and that was before the current fires began in Southern California.
• Size: The Thomas Fire has burned an area larger than New York City, Washington, DC, and San Francisco combined — and larger than any city in California except Los Angeles.
• Casualties: One firefighter has been killed since the Thomas Fire began. Cory Iverson, from the San Diego unit of Cal Fire, was killed on December 14.

9 People Contract Legionnaire’s Disease After Visiting Disneyland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM NEWS)

 

By Jamie Ducharme

November 11, 2017

Nine people have contracted Legionnaire’s disease after visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

Disneyland voluntarily shut down two water cooling towers in one of its backstage areas after discovering they contained high levels of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s, according to the Orange County Register. The towers were chemically treated to combat the problem, and there is no ongoing threat to guests’ health, the Register reports.

Legionnaire’s Disease is a serious lung infection most often caused by inhaling microscopic water droplets tainted by the bacteria Legionella. It typically strikes the elderly and people with compromised immune systems and can be fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Twelve cases of the disease have been reported in the Anaheim area; among those, eight people had visited Disneyland in September and one worked there, the Register reports. One person, who had not visited Disneyland, died from the disease. The victims’ ages range from 52 to 94.

“Totally Mentally Unhinged” Is A Very Good Description Of Donald Trump!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

‘Totally Unhinged.’ Trump Fires Back at California Billionaire Campaigning for His Impeachment

8:01 AM ET

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is responding to a California billionaire who has vowed to spend at least $10 million in advertising calling for the president’s impeachment.

Trump is using Twitter to call Tom Steyer “wacky & totally unhinged.” He says Steyer “has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from the beginning,” adding the billionaire environmentalist “never wins elections!”

Steyer recently launched the advertising, which has been running on Fox News and other national outlets, arguing that Trump should be ousted from office. Steyer contends Trump is pushing the U.S. toward a nuclear war, is obstructing justice at the FBI and threatening to shut down news organizations he doesn’t like.

Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!

Steyer wants viewers to call their members of Congress and tell them to bring articles of impeachment.

Life Through A Windsheild

Life through a Windshield

 

In 81’ the story began, first with my brother and then with a friend

Seeing life through a windshield like a gypsy on eighteen wheels

But when you do this for a living it’s life you omit

White line fever they call it in song

White lines on the concrete is to what you belong

The back rows of the truck stops and the cab of a truck is your home

From Beantown to Shaky to big D then Windy you roam

Dispatch can get you a load to anywhere except the state you belong

Driving your shiny KW is not just a job now you see

Through the windshield is your life on this unending concrete sea.Boston

Aspirin, Doan’s Pills and Preparation H

Always part of your luggage because that hot load just can’t wait

Truck driving is a hobby for the homeless no roots do you need

Life through the windshield is now the life you can’t leave

Single-Payer Plan’s Price Tag in California: $400 Billion Per Year

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF KQED NEWS)

Single-Payer Plan’s Price Tag in California: $400 Billion Per Year

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It would cost the state of California an estimated $400 billion per year to cover all of its 39 million residents, according to a staff analysis by the state’s Senate Appropriation Committee.  That’s more than twice the state’s total annual budget of $180 billion.

But the main legislative advocate for single-payer, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), explained the state could get access to half of that amount, $200 billion, by shifting over what it already spends on Medicare, Medi-Cal and other state-run health services. That assumes the federal government would agree to let California re-route federal funds in that way.

To raise the other $200 billion, the state could implement a 15 percent payroll tax, according to the analysis, which was released Monday during a Senate Appropriations Committee in Sacramento.  It’s unclear how that tax might be split between the employer and the employee.

“Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiency, and the uncertainty created by Republicans in Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path,” said Lara at the committee hearing.

“It will eliminate the need for insurance companies and their administrative costs and profits,” he added. “Doctors and hospitals will no longer need to negotiate rates and deals with insurance companies to seek reimbursement.”

At the hearing, Kyle Thayer, a paramedic who works in San Diego, urged the legislators to move forward with the plan.

“I see every single day the people that don’t have health coverage and the things that happen. Often they choose between one medicine and another, and end up in the back of my ambulance for something as simple as high-blood pressure medication,” said Thayer, a resident of Carlsbad.

His concerns were personal as well as professional, he said.

“My fiancee’s mother was trying to manage her blood pressure, and for a time wasn’t taking her medication, and she ended up with a stroke in the emergency room,” said Thayer. “It cost them all kinds of money.”

Opponents of the plan also spoke, including representatives of the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Association of Health Plans. Private health insurance companies would see their business model collapse in California in the face of a single-payer plan, which would be state-administered and not-for-profit.

“We don’t need to go backwards and start from scratch. This bill could have catastrophic implications for the health care system in our state,” said Teresa Stark, the chief lobbyist for Kaiser Permanente in California, which covers 8.5 million Californians.

“We share the goal of health care for all,” she explained, but added that a single-payer system would “dismantle Kaiser Permanente as we know it.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Introduces Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Canada

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

 

Justin Trudeau Introduces Bill to Legalize Marijuana in Canada

3:51 PM ET

(TORONTO) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced legislation Thursday to let adults possess 30 grams of marijuana in public — a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana.

Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot use and sales. U.S voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

The South American nation of Uruguay is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.

The proposed law allows four plants to be grown at home. Those under 18 found with less than five grams of marijuana would not face criminal charges but those who sell it or give to youth could face up to 14 years in jail.

“It’s too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We’re going to change that,” Trudeau said.

Officials said Canadians should be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018. The federal government set the age at 18, but is allowing each of Canada’s provinces to determine if it should be higher. The provinces will also decide how the drug will be distributed and sold. The law also defines the amount of THC in a driver’s blood, as detected by a roadside saliva test, that would be illegal. Marijuana taxes will be announced at a later date.

The Canadian government closely followed the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan. That panel’s report noted public health experts tend to favor a minimum age of 21 as the brain continues to develop to about 25, but said setting the minimum age too high would preserve the illicit market.

Canadian youth have higher rates of cannabis use than their peers worldwide.

“If your objective is to protect public health and safety and keep cannabis out of the hands of minors, and stop the flow of profits to organized crime, then the law as it stands today has been an abject failure,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told a news conference. “Police forces spend between $2 billion and $3 billion every year trying to deal with cannabis, and yet Canadian teenagers are among the heaviest users in the western world … We simply have to do better.”

Goodale said they’ve been close touch with the U.S. government on the proposed law and noted exporting and importing marijuana will continue to be illegal.

“The regime we are setting up in Canada will protect our kids better and stop the flow of illegal dollars to organized crime. Our system will actually be the better one,” Goodale said.

But Christina Grant, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Ontario, worries the government is conveying the message that marijuana is not harmful. She fears usage will go up because concerns about its safety will dissipate.

“One in seven youths who have used cannabis will develop an addiction to cannabis and that impacts your life, schooling, job prospects, social and emotional relationships,” she said. “And there is the risk of developing psychosis if you start using cannabis as a teenager. The more you use and the younger you start, you have up to four times the risk of developing some kind of psychotic illness.”

Former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, said officials learned from the experiences from other jurisdictions like Colorado and Washington state.

While the government moves to legalize marijuana, retail outlets selling pot for recreational use have already been set up. Trudeau has emphasized current laws should be respected. Police in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities raided stores earlier last month and made arrests.

The news that Canada was soon going to announce the law was noticed online last month by Snoop Dogg , who tweeted “Oh Canada!” Canadian folk singer Pat Robitaille released a “Weed song” to coincide with the government’s announcement.

Tesla Set to Unveil Electric Semi-Truck in September

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

DETROIT — Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk says the company plans to unveil an electric semi-truck in September.

Musk tweeted the announcement Thursday. He offered no other details about the semi, such as whether it will be equipped with Tesla’s partially self-driving Autopilot mode.

Musk also said the company plans to unveil a pickup truck in 18 to 24 months.

Tesla currently sells two electric vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. Its lower-cost Model 3 electric car is due out by the end of this year.

But Musk revealed last summer that the Palo Alto, California-based company is working on several more vehicles, including the semi and a minibus.

Tesla shares rose nearly 3 percent in late trading Thursday in response to Musk’s tweet.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mocks President Trump’s Approval Ratings

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mocks President Trump’s Approval Ratings and Challenges Him to a Middle-School Visit

8:42 AM ET

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday mocked President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings and challenged him to go to a Washington D.C. middle school to see after-school programs in action, after they were placed on the chopping block in the President’s proposed budget.

“Oh, Donald, the ratings are in, and you got swamped,” Schwarzenegger said in a video Tuesday. “Wow. Now you’re in the thirties?”

“But what do you expect?” he added. “I mean, when you take away after-school programs from children and Meals on Wheels from the poor people, that’s not what you call ‘making America great again.'”

Hey, @realDonaldTrump, I have some advice. See you at Hart Middle School? Here’s more info about : http://www.afterschoolallstars.org/programs/national-outcomes/ 

 The video is the latest addition to an ongoing feud between the two men. Trump regularly criticized the ratings of The New Celebrity Apprentice after Schwarzenegger took over as host earlier this year. The actor and former governor of California recently stepped down from the show after one season, prompting Trump to taunt him for “pathetic” ratings.
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