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Wednesday’s Fresh Picks



It all started on Friday when some enterprising political science students from the California State University at Stanislaus decided to poke around in a trash bin outside the university’s administration building, and found some shredded documents and something that appeared to be a contract. They fished the rest of the documents out and discovered that six pages out of a nine-page document were still intact and, indeed, appeared to be some kind of speaker’s contract. The speaker—while not named— was coming from Anchorage Alaska on June 25, the date that Sarah Palin was set to show up on campus for a $500 a plate dinner being put on by the CSU Stanislaus Foundation.

Those six pages spelled out all kinds of fun details of what the speaker required—from flex straws for water to a diagram showing how furniture should be arranged for the post-speaking photo shoot with audience members. (The Sacramento Bee has most of that.)

The find was relevant because, for the past month, there had been a on campus about Palin’s appearance, what she was being paid, and where the proceeds of the night were going. And, in response to inquiries on the subject, both university officials and foundation administrators had been extremely non-disclosing.

The biggest kerfuffle was about whether or not the public had the right to see any relevant speaker’s contract for an event such as this one being held on the campus of a public university. In response to a Public Records Act request, CSUS officials reportedly claimed there was no contract anyway, which is what led students to go dumpster diving. Et voila!

The divers turned their finds over to State Senator Leeland Yee, and a joint press conference was held early on Tuesday featuring Yee and students Alicia Lewis, and Ashli Brigg, now cleaned up and wearing heels. By afternoon the docs were handed over to Attorney General Jerry Brown who has launched an investigation.

The San Francisco Chronicle (among others) has reported on the unfolding story here and here.

“This is not about Sarah Palin,” Brown said in the statement his office put out Tuesday. “She has every right to speak at a university event, and schools should strive to bring to campus a broad range of speakers. The issues are public disclosure and financial accountability in organizations embedded in state-run universities. We’re not saying any allegation is true, but we owe it to the taxpayers to thoroughly check out every serious allegation.”

Yee likened the whole thing to a mini-Watergate-–which overstates the matter’s importance by about 1000 degrees. But it is nonetheless an intriguing story to follow, in part because of the pro-active student participation, but also because it has implications that, as Brown said, go to the heart of what our public universities do and do not owe us in terms of information and accountability.


Respected LA journalist Bill Boyarsky looks at how Annenberg’s student-run digital publication, Neon Tommy, is filling some of the gaps left by traditional media and finds himself heartened by young reporters’ and editors’ “nothing can stop me” attitude.

Here’s how Boyarsky’s column opens:

My search for the I.F. Stone of the 21st century took me to the campus of the University of Southern California and the highly energized office of the Web-based news operation Neon Tommy, sponsored by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

The university, long shackled with a reputation for conservatism, might be considered an odd place to look for a potential successor to Stone, a crusading liberal journalist ostracized by the mainstream media during the Cold War who nevertheless broke major stories in his own I.F. Stone’s Weekly. But USC is changing. And even the old conservative USC produced progressives such as my personal hero, Carey McWilliams, who was editor of The Nation from 1955 to 1975. Truthdig’s editor, Robert Scheer, is on the Annenberg faculty.

I wanted to talk to some of the Neon Tommy staff because I think that the salvation of journalism rests with young people who are talented, ambitious, intelligent, obsessive and crazy enough to jump into what is rapidly becoming a low-paying, insecure business. As Alan Mutter said of young journalists in his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog, “The starving-artist lifestyle may be colorful and appealing for a while, but it gets old fast if you are bunking on a friend’s sofa, living under the same roof you did in junior high and lying awake at night wondering how you are going to repay your staggering five-figure student loan.

Read the rest. It’s hope producing.


And not all law enforcement is thrilled. The LA Times has the story. Here are the first few ‘graphs.

Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday approved what foes and supporters agree is the toughest measure in the country against illegal immigrants, directing local police to determine whether people are in the country legally.

The measure, long sought by opponents of illegal immigration, passed 35 to 21 in the state House of Representatives.

The state Senate passed a similar measure earlier this year, and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is expected to sign the bill.

The bill’s author, State Sen. Russell Pearce, said it simply “takes the handcuffs off of law enforcement and lets them do their job.”

But police were deeply divided on the matter, with police unions backing it but the state police chief’s association opposing the bill, contending it could erode trust with immigrants who could be potential witnesses.

Immigrant rights groups were horrified, and contended that Arizona would be transformed into a police state.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio must be ecstatic.


The Houston Chronicle reports—almost offhandedly at the end of a news article—that in the ever escalating Mexican drug gang battles that have, in many cases, frozen traditional media in the area, people are turning to social media to communicate news and dangers. (Chapeau tip to Grits for Breakfast for flagging this piece.)

Here’s the relevant clip:

With the traditional media gagged by gangster threats and officials’ desire to downplay events, common citizens have largely taken to reporting on the violence on their own though You Tube, Twitter and blog postings.

State and local officials first blamed such “social networks” for fueling unfounded fear.

But Reynosa officials started twittering in late February about gunbattles and other “risky situations.” And the official Web site of Tamaulipas state, of which Reynosa is the largest city, has begun carrying news about such clashes.

“It could be a gunshot, it could be a grenade, it could be a threat,” Triana, who directs Reynosa’s Twitter efforts, said of what merits a tweeted alarm. “We are just trying to advise people so they don’t run risks.”

Photo by Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press


  • Arizona’s a maverick state, alright. I imagine they already have been smacked in ways for interfering with the cheap labor scam being committed by this country’s true owners. Haven’t seen Arpaio on t.v. lately… It’s all about money, people. If liberals had enough power to compromise the southern border, do you think pot would still be illegal? Do you think gays would still have trouble marrying? Do you think we would have had George W. Bush…? Try to read between the lines, my crazy minutemen friends. Well, first learn how to read.

  • Congratulations to Arizona !!!!!!!!!!
    Arizona is doing what the federal government isn’t doing. The smart Arizona House of Representatives is not waiting for the state to become bankrupt supporting social programs for illegal aliens. Arizona has also become a victim of Mexico criminals with a rise in kidnappings and murders.

  • Sounds like you just don’t like Mexicans WTF, just ask Rob, because that has to be what you’re all about. A few Americans kidnapped or killed by illegals, what’s the big deal?

  • A speaker contract should contain non-disclosure clauses which prohibit the paying organization from making any of its contents public. As far as the students bringing up silly things like flex straws shows, what I consider, to be their true motives…attack Sarah Palin. I doubt that there would be such incentives to go dumpster diving if the speaker was a radical such as Obama buddy William Ayers. This, then, shows what we can expect from the next crop of journalists – more liberal bias.

  • So how do the police in Arizona “determine” who is an “illegal alien”? Setting up roadblocks, going into Catholic Churchs in Mexican AMerican neighborhoods, rousting and questioning anybody who looks “Mexican”?
    Will there be a bounty paid on the heads of undocumented “Mexicans”?
    How many times will I be profiled, stopped, questioned, as a Mexican AMerican driving through Arizona on my way to someplace else.

  • And just a question Celeste, was it just a coincidence that you posted up the LA Times article about Arizona’s new law and police state tactics of questioning and profiling Mexicans and Mexican Americans, and then immediately following that with one of those sensationalistic stories of Mexican Drug wars and it’s fallout?
    Well I guess it’s in the interest of fairness and giving both sides of the story huh?

  • I think the salient question here is does being Mexican-American (or just having darker skin tones) give the police probable cause to detain someone for just walking down the street minding his/her own business? There’s Constitutional questions here.

  • DQ,

    Yeah, I dithered over the juxtaposition. But last night when I posted, I didn’t want to dump the second story just because some people might use it wrongly as a cudgel. I’m always interested in this kind of use of social media—ordinary people getting around those who would control them—whether the controllers are repressive governments or drug cartels.

    The truth is, Arizona passed a really horrible, destructive, truly ghastly law, that as Tony says, is very questionable in terms of its constitutionality. AND the drug cartels are out of control in certain areas and people are using social media when mainstream media fails them. I’m not trying to be “fair and balanced.” Those two stories just happened to pop up on the same day.

    I don’t normally post about topics like the drug cartels because they are simply crime stories, with no particular social justice content. But this case was an exception because of the new media angle.

    Anyway…Long answer for a short question. Hope that helps.

  • WTF, hey, states rights. Frankly, I think big business will somehow circumvent these cowboy theatrics by Arizona’s legislature, to ensure they still get their cheap labor. But the fact that Arizona is doing this opens up a perfect opportunity for people in California who whine about Mexican immigration to move to Arizona. States rights. California has made their decision on Mexican immigration, Arizona has made theirs. This is a great opportunity for people who are anti-Mexican immigration to move to a state that has enacted laws which they’ve been pushing for. Or, they can stay, and continue to bitch, whine, and make asses out of their selves.

  • DQ, great point. That’s another thing. In order to enforce these laws, they will have to violate the US constitution by profiling American citizens of Latin descent. This will never get off the ground. And, I think they know that. This is just cowboy theatrics, anyway. It’s primary season and right wingers are just on a rat race to play to their base.

  • Mavis Beacon Says:
    April 14th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I know very little about crime in Arizona,


    Obviously, so does WTF.

  • Rob says:
    I think big business will somehow circumvent these cowboy theatrics

    Cowboy Theatrics. What a choice of words. That’s almost exactly the same choice of words Ahmadinejad used to describe President Obama’s warning to Iran about developing nukes. Ahmadinejad even used the “quick on the trigger” analogy.
    This shows what a nut case Ahmadinejad is. He sees BHO as a “cowboy” too. So much for BHO being able to get along with that idiot.

  • So much for BHO being able to get along with that idiot.

    Wow. I’m amazed a man of your intellect could miss that Rob. I thought I made my point clear in the last sentence with the above statement. I guess that is probably just way too simple for a man of with the complexity of thoughts that you have.

  • My point was that that idiot in Iran doesn’t want to get along with BHO. Some people just don’t want to get along.

  • I’m just curious. What qualifies as a rant here? I certainly didn’t mean to rant by posting a seven line total post, two of which were your statement. I’ll try to be more careful in the future and not post such long statements that you might qualify as a rant.

  • See, my last one was only five lines. This one will be down to two. Trying to get along.

  • Ahmadinejad said:
    “American materialist politicians, whenever they are beaten by logic, immediately put their finger on the trigger like cowboys,” he said.

    “Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer (to politics). Wait until your sweat dries and get some experience. Be careful not to read just any paper put in front of you or repeat any statement recommended,” Ahmadinejad said in the speech, aired live on state TV. “(American officials) bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you.”

    Wow. I guess some people just don’t want to get along. Have I made my point yet? Too simple? Too long a rant?

  • If Arizona law enforcement is now going to question “anyone” arrested on their immigration status by developing a form, kind of in the line of medical questionaire forms used by all of law enforcement to determine weather a local p.d. jail can house a prisoner as compared to sending them to county, how would that be a constitutional problem. I’m talking about people already in custody.

    I would think if the process of how one’s citizenship is determined is done in a lawful manner the law would hold up. If you have law enforcement pulling people over based on their looks and that’s it it won’t. Fact is the law was passed, the government doesn’t do it’s job well enough in this area and having local law enforcement assist isn’t the only area of what’s usally been federal responsibility that locals assist in so what’s the real beef except liberals want to keep providing illegals with resources better spent on our own citizens.

  • ATQ, I never claimed to be a man of intellect. And, I indeed missed your point. Now that you explained it, I still don’t understand what it has to do with the current topic being discussed. Sounds like you’re picking a fight, again.

  • Sure Fire, it’s sad that I have to continually explain the law to a self proclaimed cop, and quite scary, frankly, but it is not the role of local law enforcement to decide for itself where federal law enforcement is lacking. It is the role of local law enforcement to worry about their own jurisdiction. I’d like to see the full crime report in Arizona. I’d like to look at their drunk driving arrests next to alcohol related auto fatalities. See if there’s room for improvement there. And that’s just one small example. Is Arizona in good enough shape in every other area to start deploying their law enforcement to federal jurisdiction? I doubt it. Again, this is cowboy theatrics that they know won’t fly. Just primary season grandstanding.

  • Rob,
    Honestly. I’m being sincere. I was just reading the comments about the Arizona border situation. When I read your “cowboy theatrics” comment it reminded me of another very relevant current event. I wasn’t trying to insult you. I was trying to point out how Ahmadinejad is an idiot. That’s all. It was just your choice of words to describe Arizona’s new strategy that brought it to mind. So I pointed it out.
    Okay, I admit, when you came back and asked me if there was a point to my “rant”, I cracked a little wise. But it wasn’t meant in a mean spirited way.
    I already asked you if there was anything I can say or do to get you to not take offense with everything I say. I received no response from you on that.
    I was simply pointing out that the idiot in Iran was insulting our President and doesn’t want to get along in the world. It seems like you took offense to that.

    Again, is there anything I can say that will not piss you off? I WANT CIVILITY. I WANT TO GET ALONG.

  • A very relevant current topic is still not the topic we’re discussing. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog somewhere that’s discussing Iran, and President Obama’s foreign policy.

  • Good point. I’ll try to remember to stay on topic. I didn’t realize it was that big of deal. When reg and Jim went off topic and nobody got upset I thought it would be ok. Not making excuses. Just pointing out that I didn’t think it was wrong to do it, and I definitely wasn’t trying to offend.

  • A person would have to blind, stupid and in complete denial to not consider the effect of mexican criminals (drug cartels in particular) and our lack of enforcement of immigration laws.

    Just look at the DEA website and you see that the majority of people on it’s most wanted list are mexican nationals.

    Here are just a few news clips out of thousands of these types of stories.

    1) “FORT HANCOCK, Texas (AP) — When black SUVs trail school buses around here, no one dismisses it as routine traffic. And when three tough-looking Mexican men pace around the high school gym during a basketball game, no one assumes they’re just fans. Fear has settled over this border town of 1,700, about 50 miles southeast of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, epicenter of that country’s…”

    2) “Krentz, 58, was a long-time rancher in Arizona’s southeast region on the border with New Mexico and Sonora. On March 27, he was found shot dead astride his Polaris ATV, his dog dying by his side. Sheriff’s deputies suspected illegal migrants or drug mules”

    3) “Wildfire investigators in California are looking for marijuana growers tied to a Mexican drug cartel they suspect of igniting a blaze that has charred more than 87,000 acres of a national forest.”

    4) “Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) — Mexican drug cartels, which have caused a surge in violence south of the border, are kidnapping and killing people inside U.S. territory, said John Walters, director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Some of these groups not only engage in crime and violence in Mexico, but they come across and kidnap, murder and carry out assassinations,” Walters said in a news conference in Mexico City.”

    And there is also the cost of social services for hundreds of thousands of poor illegal aliens.

  • I think if AZ wants to ruin it’s economy with it’s insane policies it should be allowed to do so. That would be a ggod example for the rest of the border states to not follow their lead. If they want to spend a large percentage of their budget on border secrutiy, let the rest of country sit back and watch it’s failure.

  • AZ can be a perfectly good bad example. Let the rest of country learn from it.

  • don quixote Says:

    Well I guess it’s in the interest of fairness and giving both sides of the story huh?

    What is she supposed to do, leave that side of the story out so Woody and Sure Fire can accuse her of being one sided? Jesus Christ man. Give it a break. That she reports on something that’s happening shouldn’t invite criticism. Discussing how to deal with it is another matter, but to suggest she should ignore it is another matter completely.
    Don’t kill the messenger.

  • WTF, nice bluff. But as usual, you’re called on it. Not only does your point not address the discussion, which is jurisdiction, but your cut and pasted accounts (not linked, of course) don’t even back up your point.

  • What Rob claims to know about the law is just that, claims. His arrogance shines through as it did when he tried to lecture Celeste on gangs but once again pointing out he doesn’t know what he’s talking about is easy to do. This part of his post points out he is wrong.

    Sure Fire, it’s sad that I have to continually explain the law to a self proclaimed cop, and quite scary, frankly, but it is not the role of local law enforcement to decide for itself where federal law enforcement is lacking. It is the role of local law enforcement to worry about their own jurisdiction

    So now Rob is the person we can all look to as the ultimate resource on the “role of local law enforcement”. Law enforcement officers in the states, Arizona, California, Oregon or anywhere else are granted their powers by their state, not by the feds. Now the state has tasked Arizona Law Enforcement officers to carry out a new duty based on a law passed by elected officials representing the citizens of that state. Rob, of course, blames local law enforcement but they don’t make or pass laws and decided nothing on their own. Rob is a liar and as usual making up things to support his own agenda, cop bashing being a constant part of that.

    If the feds want to try to block the law in court I’m sure they can try. As it stands now it’s not the feds who make the majority of bank robbery arrests it’s local law enforcement and yet all those cases wind up in federal court. Should local officers not respond to bank robbery calls?

    There are countless federal offenses that start out as local law enforcement cases that are moved to the federal system for one reason or another. Luckily, local cops are fully aware of what they can and can’t do, unlike Rob who is claiming a separation between feds and locals that doesn’t exist.

    I guess in Rob’s mind cops can only help the feds regarding certain crime problems and can ignore those that their own state require them to do, but Rob doesn’t like.

    Go figure.

  • Yeh, Sure Fire, only a cop can know about the law. The citizens? What business it is of ours? Oh, except for that little thing where it’s kind of OUR RESPONSIBILITY to know it? Yeh, that. And, it’s your responsibility, too. Which makes it all the more scary when you say things like Arizona having to step up their local law enforcement to meet needs where federal law enforcement is lacking. It’s not my fault you tack on these strong, brick headed opinions on to your half ass attempts at explaining the law that wind up getting you into trouble. But since you did, I’ll go ahead and remind you that it is not the jurisdiction, or even the ethical responsibility, for states to decide where federal law enforcement is slacking in their jurisdiction, and apply their valuable resources to these areas. I’ll ask again, is the state of Arizona dialed when it comes to crime? Crime down, in all areas? I doubt it. But Arizona knows this, anyway. It’s just grandstanding for primary season. Republicans are playing to the far right to win their party’s nomination, and this is just one other sideshow. None of this is ever going to really be put into action.

  • Every state is like it’s own little experiment, as long as it doesn’t violate the constitution. We should emulate what works, and avoid what doesn’t. Gambling and prostitution seem to work for Nevada. So be it. It won’t fly in Utah. So be it.
    If the AZ law is a bad thing it will reveal itself as such in due time. Let things shake out. Let people see the result.

  • A lot of states have casinos now. They wanted in on the action. Even before the Native Americans had casinos, there were cities that passed ordinances to allow gambling. Gardena had “card clubs” where you could go and play poker in the late 70’s early 80’s. Then came Commerce Casino and The Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens. They are still there and flourishing.
    But if Beverly Hills doesn’t want one. That’s their business.

  • I only brought up the fact that Arizona’s responsibility is its own jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction. I could see if crime was down in every category in Arizona. I seriously doubt it is. They don’t have the resources to start sending manpower to federal jurisdiction, just because lawmakers feel immigration is a bigger priority than other crimes.

  • I wonder how many cops were paid as tecnical advisors to the movies Colors and Training Day.

    I wonder why the the producers that make the big bucks and hire the tech advisors didn’t say:
    “Let’s go to blogs and find the tech advisors. The blogs are full of experts”.
    Those dumbshits. It’s a wonder how they make the mortgage on their multi-million dollar homes.

  • I’ve never offered the little I know about gangs as technical advice on a movie, so I don’t know who you’re talking about. You must be mad because nobody ever contacted you as a technical adviser. But those old ladies at the Santa Barbara channel club got a kick out of you.

  • reg Says:
    April 14th, 2010 at 10:51 pm
    “Bullshit talks”…and talks…and talks.

    LOL. Touchet. THAT is funny.

  • BFD, we might be able to do something in Mexico if Bush hadn’t have pissed all that money away on the private contractors in Iraq. But then again, you don’t want to help those poor people in that youtube. You just want to put a wall up, so neither them or the gangsters can get into America. The cartel can slit their throats for all you care, as long as they don’t sneak into America to escape that danger.

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