Arson Suspect Detained After Being Chased Down by Witnesses in Anaheim Hills Area
“A man suspected of trying to set multiple vegetation fires in the Anaheim Hills area Friday was detained after two witnesses chased him down, police said.
Authorities responded after receiving reports that a male subject dressed all in black was setting fires in an area near the Festival Center, Anaheim Fire and Rescue tweeted shortly before 6 p.m.
The man managed to spark one blaze before being detained by two witnesses who ran after him and held him at the scene until police arrived, authorities said.
An off-duty lieutenant was having dinner with his family when he spotted someone setting a fire in the brush near Santa Ana Canyon Road and Festival Drive, according to police. He called 911.
Another person who was staying at a nearby hotel also saw flames. Scott Nelson watched as authorities set up a perimeter to search for the arsonist.
He was told by a fire commander that authorities were looking for the perpetrator.
While crews were busy putting out the fire, Nelson spotted someone who looked suspicious. Nelson said he has trouble walking, but nevertheless he went after the person.
“Even though I suffer from MS, you know, you got to stop somebody like that,” Nelson told KTLA. “Then I passed a gentleman, said, ‘Hey, there’s an arsonist, I need help.'”
Josh Vietti, a resident of Ventura who was staying in the area because the Thomas Fire is burning in his community, said he had heard rustling prior to being approached by Nelson.
Together, the two men followed the suspect about a half-mile and cornered him until police arrived and took him into custody, Vietti told KTLA.
Authorities thanked the two witnesses for helping to detain the suspect, and said things could have been pretty bad if the alleged arsonist had ignited a blaze.
“This area is very thick underbrush … historically if we have fires in those areas we have hundreds of homes and thousands of residents who would be at risk,” Anaheim Police Department Sgt. Daron Wyatt said.
Authorities searched the area but did not find anyone else and believe they have the sole suspect in custody. He has not been arrested yet.”
The Latest: California governor: Fires are ‘new normal’
|| San Jose Mercury News
“California Gov. Jerry Brown says deadly and destructive wildfires in winter are “the new normal.”
Brown on Saturday toured Ventura County neighborhoods ravaged by a weeklong wildfire that killed at least one person and destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings.
At a news conference, Brown said drought and climate change mean California faces a “new reality” where lives and property are continually threatened by fire, at a cost of billions of dollars.
He added that gusty winds and low humidity are continuing and warned that there’s a good chance of seeing “firefighting at Christmas.”
He said it will take “heroic” efforts in the U.S. and abroad to stem climate change and urged U.S. lawmakers to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.
Authorities say they’ve counted some 800 homes and other buildings destroyed by wildfires ravaging Southern California for the past week.
Six fires driven by gusty Santa Ana winds have torched neighborhoods and rural communities from Ventura County north of Los Angeles all the way south to San Diego County.
One person died in a car crash Wednesday trying to escape the largest fire in Ventura County.
Gov. Jerry Brown toured the devastated neighborhoods on Saturday.
The fire also is burning toward a sanctuary for the endangered California condors in Los Padres National Forest.”
Firefighter Says California Fires Are ‘Human Caused,’ Then Backs Off
|| Daily Caller
“The raging California wildfires were started by humans, Robert Baird, the Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the U.S. Forest Service, said on Fox News Friday.
“When you have human caused fires which these all are, they’re not related to lighting or anything, then the wind whips up the fires and makes them very difficult to contain, and that causes a challenge for us on the ground,” Baird said during an interview on “America’s Newsroom.”
Baird then back pedaled his answer.
Host Bill Hemmer asked Baird for clarification on whether the fires were started intentionally.
“However they were started, accidentally is often the situation, but that’s being dealt with by law enforcement,” Baird said.
“I’m focused on getting containment,” he added. “We are focused on life and safety and protection of the public. Law enforcement is coming in to determine what the cause and origin of these fires were.”
Fireworks, arson fires set in Isla Vista during red-flag conditions
|| ABC TV
“Amid severe fire warnings throughout Southern California, commercial-grade fireworks were set off in Isla Vista and four items were set on fire during an impromptu gathering, Santa Barbara County officials said.
The southern part of Santa Barbara County was hit with a power outage for several hours Monday night as the Thomas Fire raged in Ventura County. During that time, someone began setting off commercial grade fireworks in the beachside community, described as both mortar style and cinder cones.
Some were set off over the ocean and others at intersections in residential areas.
The fireworks attracted thousands of college students and local residents, who began to congregate on Del Playa Drive. As they gathered, some individuals set a number of items on fire, including two couches, a chair and a dumpster, and in at least one instance used gasoline as an accelerant.
Isla Vista is known to be home to many students of the University of California, Santa Barbara as well as Santa Barbara City College. Individuals involved in setting off the fireworks and fires have not been identified.
County authorities said the incident required a diversion of resources as they were being kept busy with the Thomas Fire and the power outage.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the series of events diverted resources away from other important calls for service,” the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office said.
“The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind the public that first responders and the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch Center are extremely busy due to the Thomas Fire in Ventura County and the widespread power outages we have experienced in southern Santa Barbara County. We request your cooperation as we work together to provide safety during this crisis period.”
Valley Assemblyman Matt Dababneh accused of sexually assaulting Sacramento lobbyist
|| LA Daily News
“Assemblyman Matt Dababneh was accused by two women Monday of sexual misconduct, becoming the latest Los Angeles-area state legislator to face allegations of harassment.
At a news conference in Sacramento, lobbyist Pamela Lopez said that Dababneh, a Democrat who represents the West San Fernando Valley, pushed her into a bathroom during a 2016 party at a Las Vegas hotel and masturbated in front of her. Former legislative staffer Jessica Yas Barker said Dababneh regularly made inappropriate comments when both worked for Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks.
Dababneh put out a statement Monday afternoon denying Lopez’s charge.
“I affirmatively deny that this event ever happened — at any time,” the statement said. “I am saddened by this lobbyist’s effort to create this falsehood and make these inflammatory statements, apparently for her own self-promotion and without regard to the reputation of others. I look forward to clearing my name.”
But at least one San Fernando Valley elected official, Los Angeles school board member Kelly Gonez, called on Dababneh to resign.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, said Dababneh would step down as chairman of the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee while an investigation of the Lopez incident is investigated by an outside law firm hired by the Assembly Rules Committee.
The allegations came after weeks of rumors about Dababneh as cases of sexual harassment have come to light in California politics and other industries.
A week earlier, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Arleta, announced he was resigning immediately as harassment charges against him grew, and state Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Cerritos, was stripped of committee leadership positions pending an investigation of harassment allegations.
Also last week, Lopez testified at an Assembly subcommittee hearing on sexual harassment about an incident involving a state legislator. But she didn’t identify Dababneh as the legislator until Monday.
Lopez described the incident in a letter to Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, and other lawmakers, including Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, chairwoman of the Assembly Rules Subcommittee on Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Prevention and Response.
“On January 16, 2016, Mr. Dababneh and I were two of the many invited guests at a party to celebrate two mutual friends who were planning to get married,” Lopez’s letter read. “Most of the guests in attendance were political professionals, including many colleagues and associates I have known for years. I should have had no reason to fear for my safety.
“When I went to the bathroom after being at the party for a few hours, I felt the weight of a body push me into the restroom. I heard the door slam behind us. When I turned around, I saw that it was Matt Dababneh. He stood blocking the door and began to masturbate and move toward me, urging me to touch him.
“It was a terrifying experience. During the time he blocked me in that room, my instincts were focused on escaping without any physical contact and in a way that would not cause a scene. Before the ordeal ended, he told me not to tell anyone.”
Lopez wrote that she was moved to identify Dababneh after hearing members of the Assembly subcommittee say they were committed to protecting victims of sexual harassment from retaliation.
She said Dababneh, through his attorney, “has tried to silence me by threatening to sue me for defamation if I persisted in reporting this assault.”
Mexico Deploys Military to Pacific Beach Resort Areas to Quell Cartel Violence
“In response to the cartel violence that has engulfed the once peaceful tourist beach resort towns of La Paz and Los Cabos in Baja California Sur, the Mexican government announced the deployment 2,000 military and police officers to restore peace.
The Mexican government deployed 1,200 Mexican Navy Infantrymen and 800 federal cops called Gendarmes in an apparent response to the recent murders of the state’s human rights commissioner Silvestre de la Toba Camacho in Los Cabos and a state police commander in charge of the communications system in La Paz. As Breitbart Texas reported, Baja California Sur has gone from 147 murder cases between January and October in 2016 to having 409 during the same time frame in 2017.
Ricardo Barroso Agramont, a senator of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), told local news outlet BCS Noticias that the Mexican Navy would assume command of the state and local police forces in La Paz and Los Cabos.
The Gendarmes or gendarmerie is a federal force created in 2014 for hotspots where the local municipal and state police are unable to control cartel violence. The Gendarmerie officers receive special training in Colombia, Chile, Spain, France, and the United States.
This escalation of violence in Baja California Sur is linked to a split within the Sinaloa cartel and a push by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) to take control of key beach resort areas.”
Amid new groping allegations, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra says he will not run for re-election
|| Sacramento Bee
“Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, a Los Angeles Democrat accused of groping a woman in 2009 when he was a legislative staff member, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election next year.
The announcement came just hours before the Los Angeles Times reported allegationsinvolving Bocanegra and six more women. If they are true, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said, he will move that Bocanegra be expelled from the Assembly.
“These allegations are extremely disturbing, especially since they come after Mr. Bocanegra had previously been investigated and disciplined as a staff member and agreed to stop any harassing or abusive behavior,” Rendon, D-Paramount, said in a statement. “The decision to deny constituents the representation of their elected official can be a difficult one, but make no mistake: If the investigation affirms the allegations, I will move to immediately expel Mr. Bocanegra from the Assembly.”
In a message posted to Facebook on Monday morning, Bocanegra said he would immediately resign from his leadership position as majority whip and suspend his campaign for the San Fernando Valley seat.
“As you may know, news stories were reported a few weeks ago about a regrettable encounter when I was a legislative staffer in 2009. It was a moment that I truly regret, that I am very sorry for, and for which I have accepted responsibility for my actions,” Bocanegra wrote. “These news reports have since fueled persistent rumors and speculation, and I do not believe that this is in the best interest of my constituents to continue to serve next term.”
“I have sought counsel from community members and constituents,” he continued. “After much discussion and reflection, the most prudent decision to avoid another costly special election in Los Angeles and ensure our community is not left without any representation in the State Assembly would be for me to resign at the end of the legislative session. I will spend this time focusing my energy on serving my constituents.”
His decision comes more than three weeks after longtime Capitol staff member Elise Flynn Gyore spoke publicly, including to The Bee, about an after-hours event in 2009 in which Bocanegra, then a chief of staff, stalked her around a downtown Sacramento nightclub and grabbed her underneath her clothes.
The Assembly investigated Bocanegra at the time and ordered him to stay away from Gyore. She said she continues to deal with what she feels was an inadequate response by the Legislature.
Bocanegra apologized for that incident in a statement and said it “was something I regret and learned from.” But the Times story describes six more allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct since then. Bocanegra responded that the Assembly Rules Committee should investigate, “rather than adjudicate these allegations in media reports.”
One woman who worked for former Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes when Bocanegra was his chief of staff said Bocanegra asked her out on dates for years and repeatedly made comments about her appearance.
Two more former Fuentes employees described a drunken party in 2012 where Bocanegra touched one of them on the stomach and tried to get the other to stick her hand in his front pants pocket. Yet another former Fuentes staffer said Bocanegra came up behind her at a house party that same year and ran his hands down her neck and along the sides of her breasts, before grabbing her bottom.
Two other women shared separate episodes, in 2010 and 2014, where Bocanegra tried to kiss and grab them without permission during events at the same club where he allegedly groped Gyore.
Sylvia Castillo said she was living in Sacramento during the summer of 2010 for a temporary job with a nonprofit organization focused on youth leadership when a friend invited her to the Mix Downtown one evening. After visiting the restroom, Castillo was separated from her friend, and she circled the bar trying to find her.
At the booth where they had been sitting that night, Castillo found Bocanegra, whom she said she had met a few times through work. She sat down to ask him if he had seen her friend. Bocanegra told her he had not and asked how she was doing, Castillo said, then almost immediately lunged for her.
“It didn’t cross my mind that I had anything to fear,” she said in an interview with The Bee. “Before I could even finish my sentence, he grabbed me and put his hand up my dress. Grabbed me and put his tongue in my mouth.”
Castillo said she managed to push Bocanegra away and ran out of the club. She decided at the time not to report the incident, because she was leaving Sacramento in a few days and “I just honestly wanted to move past it.”
But she was forced to confront the memory earlier this year when she came to the Capitol to advocate for a bill, as part of her current job with a Bay Area nonprofit that works on women’s access to health care, and testified before Bocanegra in committee. She said she finally came forward because she read Gyore’s account and was shocked by the similarities.
Castillo said she wants male lawmakers to stop “preying on us” and realize, “We are your equals.” She also wants Bocanegra to resign sooner than the end of the legislative session next Sept. 1.
“He’s already proven he can’t play nice, he can’t play by the rules and respect women,” she said. “Those who work in the field, are we still going to have to face him in the hallways for ten very long months?”
In recent weeks, the Los Angeles Daily News and a handful of Bocanegra’s constituents have also called on him to resign, including former Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, a fellow Democrat who defeated Bocanegra in a stunning upset in 2014 and then lost to him again last November.
After his announcement Monday, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, demanded that Bocanegra resign immediately.
“@AsmBocanegra you are not the victim, you are the perpetrator who’s victimized untold #’s of women & girls & brought shame to the people you purported to represent,” she wrote on Twitter. “Don’t wait till 2018. Leave now. #WeSaidEnough #MeToo #IBelieveYou”
The allegations against Bocanegra have surfaced amid a broader discussion about sexual harassment at the Capitol and beyond. Hundreds of women in California politics launched a campaign last month called We Said Enough, urging changes to male-dominated power structure that they say has led to “pervasive” abuses.
Adama Iwu, a leader of We Said Enough, commended Rendon for saying he would move to expel Bocanegra from the Legislature if an outside investigation confirms the allegations. But she added that the Legislature’s process for reporting and investigating complaints remains “deeply flawed,” and she repeated calls for a confidential hotline.
Investigations are conducted by the the Assembly Rules Committee, an administrative office overseen by a panel of lawmakers, though the Assembly has said complaints against members are referred to outside counsel. Many women at the Capitol say they are reluctant to come forward about the harassment or abuse they have experienced, because they fear being seen as difficult or suffering professional retribution for speaking up.”
She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story.
“When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”
Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.
Conyers confirmed he made the settlement in a statement Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was published, but said that he “vehemently denied” the claims of sexual harassment at the time and continues to do so.
And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.
Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.
The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.
Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.
After this an employee can choose to take the matter to federal district court, but another avenue is available: an administrative hearing, after which a negotiation and settlement may follow.”
France Seeks To Ban Muslim Street Prayers In Paris After Clashes
|| Daily Caller
“Muslims won’t be allowed to hold mass prayers on the streets of a Paris suburb where protestors and worshippers have clashed in recent weeks, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Sunday.
Weekly street prayers have taken place in the suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne every Friday since the local mosque was shut down by authorities in the spring. Local politicians and protestors have tried to stop the street prayers and the national government is ready to take action.
“They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying,” Collomb told Franceinfo in an interview published Sunday. “We will make sure we resolve this conflict in the next few weeks.”
Collomb emphasized that “Muslims must have a place of worship to pray” while acknowledging that the current solution doesn’t work.
Dozens of French politicians sang the national anthem Nov. 11 as they marched into a gathering of around 200 Muslims in the area. A mayor, members of parliament, local councilors and civilians walked under a banner reading “Stop Illegal Street Prayers”as they tried to push worshippers out of the town’s market square.
Riot police had to separate the groups to avoid a potentially violent confrontation.
Populist leader Marine Le Pen also weighed-in and showed support for the protests.
“The Republic must go on the offensive in the face of Islamist provocations,” Le Pen said in a tweet. “What is the Minister of the Interior waiting for to restore public order and secularism? Laxity is not an option.”
Laxity, or lacité, is the French tradition of keeping religion out of public activity.”
Democratic IT Staffer Arrested On Fraud Charge Has Family Links To SoCal Lawmakers
|| CBS TV Los Angeles
“LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Family members of a staffer for the former Democratic National Committee chair who was arrested this week while attempting to leave the U.S. for Pakistan once worked for several Southern California congressional offices.
Imran Awan was fired Tuesday by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the same day he pleaded not guilty to a bank fraud charge in connection with a $165,000 home equity loan, authorities said.
His brother Abid Awan, was employed earlier this year by Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu, Tony Cardenas, and nearly 30 more House Democrats as a “shared employee”, according to Legistorm, a website that tracks congressional employment.
March 10 was the most recent end date for Awan’s employment under both Lieu and Cardenas, records show.
Lieu made headline in February for releasing a “how to” guide to help members of the Trump administration leak information to the media.”
“Last year, eight members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a demand that their staffers be granted access to top secret classified information.
The signatories to the letter were Andre Carson, Luis Guiterez, Jim Himes, Terri Sewell, Jackie Speier, Mike Quigley, Eric Swalwell and Patrick Murphy. All the signatories were Democrats. Some had a history of attempting to undermine national security.
Two of them have been linked to an emerging security breach.
The office of Andre Carson, the second Muslim in Congress, had employed Imran Awan. As did the offices of Jackie Speier and Debbie Wasserman Schultz; to whom the letter had been addressed.
Imran Awan and his two brothers, Jamal and Abid, are at the center of an investigation that deals with, among other things, allegations of illegal access. They have been barred from the House of Representatives network.
A member of Congress expressed concern that, “they may have stolen data from us.”
All three of the Pakistani brothers had been employed by Democrats. The offices that employed them included HPSCI minority members Speier, Carson and Joaquín Castro. Congressman Castro, who also sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, utilized the services of Jamal Moiz Awan. Speier and Carson’s offices utilized Imran Awan.
Abid A. Awan was employed by Lois Frankel and Ted Lieu: members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also on the committee is Castro. As is Robin Kelly whose office employed Jamal Awan. Lieu also sits on the subcommittees on National Security and Information Technology of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.”
California Swamp: CA Democrat House Members Hired Muslim Brotherhood Awan Brothers
|| Canada Free Press
“In post—9/11 America, “If you see something, say something” has become the unofficial slogan of the Department of Homeland Security, with the idea of enlisting American citizens to help identify real terrorism threats. Yet California Democrats in Congress apparently ignored this advisory with their silence, support and promotion of possible terrorists in their own workplace.
The Congressional hacking suspects—the Pakistani born Awan brothers—ran the Information Technology (IT) for dozens of Democrat congressmen and women, and could read every email and communication sent or received. Members of the California Democrat House delegation also hired the Awan brothers, along with nearly 30 more House Democrats as a “shared employee,” according to Legistorm.
In fact, the hackers appear to have had access to some of the most sensitive classified information provided to members of several intelligence oversight committees. As “shared” employees, their salaries were cobbled together with part-time payments from multiple members, on an estimated 80 House Democrats’ payrolls, the Daily Caller reported.
The California members of the House who hired the Awan Brothers (past and present), and what they paid the Awans include:
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA 16) = $161,896
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA14) = $136,897
Rep. Xavier Becerra (Formerly D-CA34, currently California Attorney General) = $130,811
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA37) = $106,664
Rep. Henry Waxman (Former D-CA 33) = $85,552
Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA 29) = $73,917
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA 41) = $42,057
Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA26) = $79,504
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA31) = $35,415
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33) = $16,456
“March 10 was the most recent end date for Awan’s employment under both Lieu and Cardenas, records show.” CBS Los Angeles reported.
Ironically, Rep. Ted Lieu is something of an IT whiz kid, according to his Congressional bio: “As one of only four computer science majors currently serving in Congress, and as a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Information Technology, Ted is frequently sought out for his insight on technology and innovation matters including cybersecurity, cloud computing and innovation as well as the sharing and creative economy.”
It’s a darn shame Ted Lieu wasn’t sought out for his insight on cybersecurity in the House.
While Imran Awan ran technology for multiple House Democrats, he soon brought in four of his relatives—including brothers Abid and Jamal. The Awan family members appeared on the payroll of dozens of other members, collecting $4 million in taxpayer funds since 2010, the Daily Caller reported:”