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Black elementary school students in California missed more school last year than children from any other group, including the... Read more...

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Police Chief Charlie Beck said that “on initial review,” he believes the officers who detained actress Daniele... Read more...

November 08, 2012


Associated Press


The California man behind an anti-Muslim film that roiled the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for violating his probation stemming from a 2010 bank fraud conviction by lying about his identity.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license. Prosecutors agreed to drop the other four allegations under an agreement with Youssef’s attorneys, which also included more probation.

None of the violations had to do with the content of “Innocence of Muslims,” a film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale argued Youseff's lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film’s cast and crew. The movie sparked violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.

“They had no idea he was a recently released felon,” Dugdale said. “Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts” about being part of the film.

Youssef’s attorney Steven Seiden said his client admits to being the film’s scriptwriter but had no other involvement except what he described as being a “cultural adviser.”

Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted in the Middle East.

Enraged Muslims had demanded severe punishment for Youssef, with a Pakistani cabinet minister even offering $100,000 to anyone who kills him.

Federal authorities initially sought a two-year sentence for Youssef but settled on a one-year term after negotiating a deal with Youssef’s attorneys. Prosecutors said they wouldn’t pursue new charges against Yousseff — namely making false statements — and would drop the remaining four probation-violation allegations leveled against him. But Youssef was placed on four years’ probation and must be truthful about his identity and his future finances.

Seiden asked that his client be placed under home confinement, but Snyder denied that request. Youssef will spend his time behind bars at a Southern California prison.

Youssef served most of his 21-month prison sentence for using more than a dozen aliases and opening about 60 bank accounts to conduct a check fraud scheme, prosecutors said.

After he was released from prison, Youssef was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.

Federal authorities have said they believe Youssef is responsible for the film, but they haven’t said whether he was the person who posted it online. He also wasn’t supposed to use any name other than his true legal name without the prior written approval of his probation officer.

At least three names have been associated with Youssef since the film trailer surfaced — Sam Bacile, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Youssef. Bacile was the name attached to the YouTube account that posted the video.

“This is a defendant who has engaged in a long pattern of ­deception,” Dugdale said. “His dishonesty goes back years.”

Court documents show Youssef legally changed his name from Nakoula in 2002, though when he was tried, he identified himself as Nakoula. He wanted the name change because he believed Nakoula sounded like a girl’s name, according to court documents.

After the hearing, Seiden told reporters he had a message to relay from his client.

“The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology,” Seiden said.

Asked what that meant, Seiden said, “I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know.” 

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

November 08, 2012

Sacramento, CA – African American election night victories in races for the California State Assembly resulted in a net gain of one and increased the California Legislative Black Caucus to nine members.

The Caucus has never had more than nine members since its founding in 1967, and is particularly proud of the election of representatives in districts where African Americans are not in the majority.

“I want to congratulate the newly elected African American legislators for breaking new ground and increasing our strength and collective voice in the California Legislature,” said Senator Curren D. Price, Jr., Chair of the Black Caucus. “The Caucus was instrumental in helping achieve these victories and we are gratified.”

The newly elected African Americans to the State Assembly are:

Cheryl Brown, 47th District

Chris Holden, 41st District

Reggie Jones-Sawyer, 59th District

Shirley Weber, 79th District

“Without the commitment and tireless support of Senator Price and the California Legislative Black Caucus, these electoral victories would not have been possible,” said Brown.

Weber is the first African American ever elected to a state office from San Diego County. Also, Los Angeles County elected its first ever African American female District Attorney, Jackie Lacey.

“I think these election results are particularly important because they underscore the fact that African Americans can win elections in districts that are not traditionally represented by African Americans,” said Senator Price.  “Good elected representation has no color and we are proud to be a part of that progress both socially and politically.”

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

November 08, 2012

By Yussuf J. Simmonds

Co-Managing Editor


All over the country, President Obama’s supporters were rejoicing: horns blasting, people jumping in the air, hugging each other and celebrating as jubilant as four years ago, chanting in unison, “Four more years.”  It was a hard fought victory and the president got what he deserved: four more years.

Just before he went on the stage, he e blasted a thank-you to his millions of supporters stating, “I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.  I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen. You organized yourselves block-by-block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.

“I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started. But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.  Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests. There's a lot more work to do.

“But for right now: Thank you.”

This has been the costliest election in U.S. history and according to the results, the money seemed to have been well spent – the right man has been returned to the White House.  At press time, the resident had 303 electoral votes, and Gov. Mitt Romney had 206. If one takes a long look into previous presidential campaigns and elections, the quality of the winner most times signals the right man for the time. 

In the past, there have been major shifts between campaign rhetoric and the subsequent administration’s reality.  However, President Barack Obama’s reality has stayed very close to his election promises, despite the adversity he has faced in his first four years.  Now armed with a record of accomplishments, he can move forward and continue the work, as he explained, that he started four years ago. 

Amidst a recalcitrant Congress, and a harsh, resistant environment, President Obama pushed through a massive healthcare reform bill (the Affordable Care Act), a feat that had eluded presidents since early in the 20th century, and simply said, “it was the right thing to do.” Now, loosely called Obamacare, it has become his signature domestic policy achievement. 

For that and numerous other less high-profiled achievements, the American electorate has given him four more years. In his concession speech, Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Romney very graciously told his supporters that he would “pray for Barack Obama's success in leading the nation. We have given our all.”

In delivering his victory speech, President Obama said to the American people, “we have picked ourselves up and fought back during tough economic times, and the best is yet to come.  We still have work to do.”

Some of the President’s accomplishments were echoed in the following statements:


“The Affordable Care Act is saving my daughter's life.” Stacey, Arizona


“Obama is for the vets. He helped us wind down in Iraq, he's improved mental health policy with VA benefits.” Joel, Minnesota


“Obama stuck his neck out for us, the auto industry. He wasn't going to let it just die, and I'm driving in this morning because of that, because of him.” Brian, Ohio


“Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”  Vice President Joe Biden, Delaware


“Arithmetic.”  Former President Bill Clinton, New York


“He cares for the 100 percent.”  Shana, Texas


“When Obama came into office, he successfully renewed our country's place in the community of nations, making cooperation in tackling the world's challenges possible.” Willis, North Carolina


“The actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid.”  Former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, Virginia 


“For me, President Obama is our best choice because he has a vision of the United States as a place where we are all in this together.” Bruce Springsteen, New Jersey


“He has a real plan for rescuing the economy that passes the 'math' test.” Teresa, Virginia


“Having someone in office who understands how powerful our voice can be is very important.”

Jay Z, New York


“I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden because I can trust them to care for the middle class and restore the American dream.” Steven, Florida


“I believe in the America he wants for my grandchildren.”  Nancy, Michigan


“We need four more years of repair, of helping the middle class achieve a sustainable economy.”

James Taylor, North Carolina


“I've watched him fight for our country, stand by the middle class, the working class, the military, the education of our children, universal health care, women, the environment, and matters of national and domestic security.”  Susan, Virginia


“I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York


Post Election Comments on the Re-election of President Barack Obama



“President Obama campaigned on a vision of strengthening America’s ladder of opportunity, expanding our middle class and making the investments that will ensure America’s future prosperity. Tonight, this vision won.

“I would like to congratulate President Obama on his resounding victory. I look forward to working with him in the coming days and months to keep America moving in the right direction.”



“The American public has sent President Barack Obama back to the White House. With the support of an energetic base of citizen donors and enthusiastic volunteers, President Obama won a decisive victory despite unprecedented spending by special interests that ran highly negative and often divisive ads. 

“The president’s reelection is a statement that our strength comes from our diversity and our ability to work together for the common good.  And while we maintain our individual spirit and drive to succeed we understand that America is better off when we take care of each other.” 



The Los Angeles Urban League congratulates President Barack Obama, the First Family, Vice President Joe Biden and his family.  We also congratulate the American people for participating in and supporting the democratic process.

This is our country and our success is dependent on each other. Let's move forward over the next four years to get past the divides and ensure prosperity for each and every one of us.

God bless the United States and the office of the president.



“I congratulate President Obama on his reelection as the leader of this great country.  Every political office is an expression of public trust and carries the responsibility to work for justice and the common good — not only in our own country but also in the international community.  So I pray that God will grant our President the wisdom he needs to carry out his duties, along with the virtues of honesty, courage, prudence and humility that are necessary for true public service.”

“As faithful citizens, the Catholic community here in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the country stands ready to work with our president to fulfill the promise of America’s founders.”



 “The importance of this election was far greater than casting a ballot for one candidate over another—as important as that exercise in democracy is. The American people voted today to create opportunity and shared prosperity by sharing responsibility, and to reject the cynical ‘you’re on your own’ philosophy. The results of this election are a declaration by the American people that to rebuild a strong and vibrant middle class and ensure a voice for all, we all have to be in this together. Americans voted for a vision for our nation that says government has an essential role that includes protecting our families in times of crisis, investing in public schools as a foundation of our democracy, guaranteeing access to affordable healthcare, and ensuring retirement with dignity after a lifetime of hard work. 

 “On behalf of the 1.5 million teachers, healthcare workers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, and public employees of the American Federation of Teachers, I congratulate President Obama and Vice President Biden on their re-election.”



“The American people have spoken, and have given President Obama four more years!  With a clear voice, Americans rejected Romney's failed policies that put our country in dire straights, and said yes to the balanced leadership that has guided us out of that mess.

“As Co-Chair of the president's reelection campaign, it has been an honor to speak to people all across this country about the important choices we all faced in the voting booth this year.  And all across the country, people saw the stakes and made the right choice for the middle class, our children and this nation's future.  I congratulate President Obama on his reelection, and look forward to working with him to help move our country forward."

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Photo Credit (all):

Gary Hunter for Sentinel

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

November 01, 2012

By Assemblymember Mike Davis


Anyone who tells you that the Three Strikes law in California should be credited for reducing or controlling violent crime is mistaken.

In fact, studies show that there is no correlation between Three Strike imprisonments and a drop in crime rates or recidivism.  Counties that are inflexible about implementing the Three Strikes law saw an increase in violent crimes as compared to counties that have not been so strict.

Furthermore, national crime trends show states without the Three Strikes law have exhibited a drop in crime since the early 1990s.

So why not reform the Three Strikes law?

Mike Reynolds, the author of the Three Strikes law that passed in 1994, says that passing Prop. 36 would weaken it.

Not true. Prop. 36 is a modest reform to our current Three Strikes law. The law will continue to empower prosecutors to put violent repeat offenders in prison for life and sentence nonviolent offenders twice the ordinary prison term.

More importantly, as it was originally intended, crimes such as rape, murder and child molestation will not receive any benefit from the passage of Prop. 36. And, no prisoner will be released without resentencing in front of the judge.

Prop. 36 will make sure that the punishment fits the crime, so that precious financial resources are used effectively to impose life sentences for violent criminals. At this very moment, dangerous criminals are being released early from prison because jails are clogged up with non-violent offenders. We have to make more room in our prisons for violent criminals.

Prop. 36 was drafted by professors at Stanford Law School in conjunction with law leaders in California and lawyers at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It is based on policy that was implemented by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. Other law enforcement leaders, professors, civil rights leaders and taxpayer advocates are supporting the proposition because the law today is costly, ineffective and unfair.

And as Assemblymember, I work hard to find ways to reduce our state budget deficit each year. It makes perfect sense to reform the law so that California saves upwards of $100 million dollars every year by making this modest reform.

Furthermore, three strikes reform in California will put our state in concert with the 22 other states in the country that have three strikes policies which require a violent and serious offense for every offense including the third strike. This is a just and fair policy.

So Vote Yes on Prop 36 because it is smart, fair and just.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News


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