Three strikes, you’re out: Voters decide the future of stringent law of life imprisonment for repeat felons

Three strikes, you're out

Three strikes, you’re out

Voters decide the future of stringent law of life imprisonment for repeat felons

By Carla Iacovetti 08/16/2012
“The law is reason free from passion.” – Aristotle

Whether one agrees with the “three strikes” law or not, it is a reality here in California. In 1994, “three strikes” was passed by the Legislature, and signed by Gov. Pete Wilson and approved by voters as a ballot initiative. While the “three strikes” law was passed as a result of several highly publicized violent crimes, it has posed a series of harsh circumstances for those who did not commit serious and or/violent crimes.

“The law doesn’t say that the current charge has to be serious,” says Kim Gibbons, a Ventura County senior deputy district attorney. “It has to be any felony if they have two serious felony convictions.”

According to the California Penal Code, section 667 (b), the three strikes law is intended to “ensure longer prison sentences and greater punishment for those who commit a felony and have been previously convicted of serious and/or violent felony offenses.” Yet many of those who have been sentenced have not committed violent crimes.

“The law has sentenced people to life imprisonment for relatively small crimes such as drug possession or petty theft,” said Michael Romano, co-founder and director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project.


Michael Romano, co-founder and director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project.

In addition to repeat offenders facing life in prison for nonviolent crimes, the sentences are doubled for prior offenders, and juvenile and out-of-state convictions also count as strikes.

Some have commended the law as being the definitive get-tough-on-crime measure, while others have been concerned with unfair and unnecessary imprisonment. Conceivably, a man who had two prior felonies could spend 25 years to life in prison for shoplifting.

“That is not a way to run a state or a criminal justice police. A life sentence for petty theft or drug possession is excessive,” Romano said.

As controversial as the law itself are the wide-ranging studies that show opposing statistics where the effectiveness of the law is concerned. Recently, the Los Angeles Times reviewed the findings of a study on the effectiveness of the three strikes law. Robert Parker, the director of the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies at the University of California, Riverside, said that the three-strikes law has done nothing to deter crime but has increased the state’s prison population. In fact, because of the findings, Parker claims that the three-strikes law should be repealed.

“If this very expensive policy isn’t really impacting crime, what are we doing? Why are we spending all of this money? Why are we cutting health, welfare and education repeatedly to fund an expensive system that doesn’t deliver on what its promises were?” he asked.

In 2011, an initiative for the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 was filed and approved by the attorney general. California Proposition 36 is scheduled to appear on the November 6 ballot as an initiative state statute with the hope of seeing the original intent of California’s three-strikes law restored. This will impose life sentences for dangerous criminals like rapists, murderers and child molesters. According to Ballotpedia, if passed, Proposition 36 will result in the following:

1.    Revise the three-strikes law to impose life sentences only when the new felony conviction is “serious or violent.”

2.    Authorize resentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if their third strike convictions were not serious or violent and if the judge determines that the resentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.

3.    Continue to impose a life sentence penalty if the third-strike conviction was for “certain non-serious, nonviolent sex or drug offenses or involved firearm possession.”

4.    Maintain the life sentence penalty for felons with “non-serious, nonviolent third strike if prior convictions were for rape, murder or child molestation.”

The issue in question seems to be related to the types of felonies committed. The way the law is now, any felony can send an offender to a long-term prison sentence. According to Gibbons, the district attorney’s office is required to file, no matter what the offense. Even so, there is a process that goes something like this: Once the DA’s office files, then the defendant is arraigned in court, or in some cases there will be a grand jury hearing, and the grand jury might issue an indictment.

“At a preliminary hearing, the DA’s office will produce evidence (police and civilian), and the judge decides if there’s enough evidence to hold a trial,” Gibbons said. “We have to produce probable cause at the preliminary trial.”

If the proposed initiative goes through, those prior felons who commit nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will not receive a life sentence, but they will receive twice the normal sentence.

A lot of times, the defendant will plead guilty if some of the priors are stricken. In most cases, judges will strike in more than one prior. For example, suppose a criminal has committed two residential burglaries in the past, and now he’s charged with grand theft in the amount of $950 or more. If the defendant has one serious prior felony, chances are he will not be facing 25 years to life; but instead of the normal three-year sentence, he will get six years.

“The judge has a choice of giving the defendant 16 months, two years or three years,” Gibbons said.

Every prior felon sentenced in this way has a probation report prepared by a probation officer. These reports are very thorough, and judges make decisions based on the probation report and the nature of the crime or crimes. The judge will know from the report what the defendant has done and his/her history, and if the person is guilty, the judge will determine whether he/she will go to trial and what the sentence will be.

“Everyone charged with a crime has the right to choose a jury or not,” Gibbons said. “Most people charged with a crime actually plead guilty — about 90 percent of them.”
It is important to note that while three strikes can present serious consequences for a felon, in the interest of justice, a judge may dismiss a strike.

Population explosion?

Is the three-strikes law causing a population explosion within many of our state prisons? Back in June of 2010, the California state prison population included 32,479 second-strikers and 8,647 third-strikers. Since “strike” sentences can by initiated by any felony conviction, a number of prisoners are serving lengthy life sentences for various nonviolent crimes like stolen property, petty theft and possession of a controlled substance. Since the law was passed in 1994, approximately 8,800 prisoners have been sentenced to life terms in California under the three-strikes law.

According Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes (FACTS), excessive incarceration in America is a problem, and California is leading the parade with locking up more people than ever, especially with additional “tough-on-crime” laws. The result? FACTS said we are experiencing a “prison-building boom and rapacious bargaining” by the prison guards union, with state penitentiaries becoming the fastest-growing major cost in the state budget. The concerns have continued with consequential cutbacks on school and university funding, and the state’s recurring budget crisis.

Prison overcrowding is another concern, with the 2011 United States Supreme Court ruling that California must reduce its imprisoned population to reinstate humane conditions. With a population of 156,000, the prison population was nearly double the system’s capacity.


Because of severe overcrowding, prisons in California have to set up bunks in the gymnasiums in order to house all of the inmates.

The Stanford Three Strikes Project claims that approximately 9,000 inmates have been incarcerated for their third-strike crimes, and more than 4,000 inmates are serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates an average cost of $47,000 a year per inmate.

In his book Long Walk To Freedom, Nelson Mandela writes, “It is said that no one really knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” Because of overcrowding, inmates have continued to file lawsuits against prisons, claiming that prison overcrowding violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Along with overcrowding, there are other conditions that the courts have focused on, such as sanitation, safety and medical care provided by the correctional facility. Each prison is governed by either the federal government or the individual state, and guided by the American Correctional Association (ACA). For more than 135 years, the ACA has been the acknowledged authority in establishing measurable standards in prison supervision and providing certification of facilities after a scrupulous audit and review of proof of practice for conformity.

In California, three prisons began the process of seeking accreditation from the ACA: The California State Prison – Sacramento, Central California Women’s Facility, and California State Prison – Solano. All three prisons met all 61 of the mandatory requirements. California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) intends to pursue accreditation for all of its facilities. The audits are scheduled to begin in February 2013.

“The accreditation of all CDCR facilities will ensure we achieve our goal of modeling correctional leadership and complying with national best practices,” said CDCR Undersecretary Terri McDonald.

It’s complicated

With some of the largest correctional institutions in America, there is no doubt that we have woven a tangled web here in California, and now realignment will move tens of thousands of prisoners who are considered low risk into county jails. If an inmate is on good behavior, he or she will be given the chance to serve only half of his or her sentence as opposed to the required two-thirds.

According to FACTS, “Inmates already doing time in a state prison will stay there, but since October, anybody in California who commits a new crime that is non-serious, nonviolent and nonsexual (or “non-non-non”) has been sent to a county jail instead of prison.”

A study by the California Department of Corrections found that third-strikers jailed for non-serious, nonviolent crimes were the least dangerous inmates. According to Romano, “Giving them a way out of jail would leave more room for higher-risk inmates.”

Growing concerns

Has the three-strikes law actually discouraged crime? Based on Parker’s study, The Los Angeles Times said the law is “costly and ineffective” and further claimed that it has “done nothing to deter crime despite expanding the state’s prison population.” The former state parole chairman, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), disagreed with the study’s findings and believes the three-strikes law has been successful.

Many of those who oppose the reformed three-strikes law are concerned with issues like violating the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, criminals being allowed to plea-bargain their first two convictions, the law interfering with the flexibility of the courts and the judges, and the law adding more criminals to an overcrowded and expensive prison system.

Those in favor of the amendment believe it will address a flawed judicial system, where too many nonviolent and non-serious offenders stay in prison. The law offers an effectual deterrent after a second conviction, and the law applies only to three convictions, not marginal cases. Usually, when the three strikes law is applied, it affects those who have actually committed more than three crimes.

In its purest form, the three-strikes law is primarily about deterrence. When this law first came into play, it was a response to several high-profile murders committed by ex-felons. The most notorious case was the kidnapping and strangling of 12-year-old Polly Klaas in 1993. With current issues like overcrowding and the high cost of housing an inmate, it seems as though a modification is in order. Last month a Field Poll was taken in California addressing its prison-overcrowding problem. The poll confirmed that 79 percent of those surveyed believed the matter to be serious. According to the Committee for Three Strikes Reform, “Most California voters see a court order to reduce the state prison population by 30,000 inmates as a serious problem, and nearly three out of four say it’s time to revamp the state’s three-strikes law.”

Original Article: http://www.vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/?id=10092


Violent and serious felonies according to California statutesVIOLENT FELONIES

Murder or manslaughter.

Mayhem.

Rape by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Lewd act on a child.

Any felony punishable by death or life sentence.

Any felony resulting in great bodily injury or in which a firearm was used.

Robbery of an inhabited dwelling, vessel or trailer coach in which a deadly or dangerous weapon was used.

Arson that causes great bodily injury.

Penetration by a foreign object.

Attempted murder.

Explosion with intent to commit murder.

Out-of-state kidnapping transported to California.

Continuous sexual abuse of a child.

SERIOUS FELONIES

Murder or involuntary manslaughter.

Mayhem.

Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Lewd or lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 years.

Any felony punishable by death or imprisonment for life.

Any other felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person or personally uses a firearm.

Attempted murder.

Assault with intent to commit rape or robbery.

Assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer.

Assault by a life prisoner on a non-inmate.

Assault with a deadly weapon by an inmate.

Arson.

Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to injure.

Exploding a destructive device or any explosive causing great bodily injury or mayhem.

Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to murder.

Burglary of an inhabited dwelling, house or trailer coach as defined by the Vehicle Code or inhabited portion of any other building.

Robbery or bank robbery.

Kidnapping.

Holding of a hostage by a person confined in a state prison.

Attempt to commit a felony punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Any felony in which the defendant personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon selling, furnishing, administering, giving or offering to sell, furnish administer or give to a minor, heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), a methamphetamine-related drug, or a precursor of methamphetamine.

Any violation of subdivision (a) of Section 289 where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person.

Grand theft involving a firearm.

Any attempt to commit a crime listed in this subdivision other than an assault.
Continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Taken from http://www.threestrikes.org/tscrimes.html.

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Colorado nightmare: Does the media affect human behavior?

The news of the horrific crimes committed last night in Aurora, Colorado has sent a chill up my spine.  Watching the continual updates of this tragedy has caused me to pause and “think” about how and why these kinds of crimes continue to escalate in this nation.

With last nights tragedy, I cannot help but wonder why a 24-year-old man would commit acts of violence like this?  I cannot help but wonder if television and movie violence has played a part in the promotion of these kind of acts against humanity.

As a screenwriter (thankfully I don’t write horror or thriller stories), I am asking myself if the media is playing a part in the acceleration of evil we’ve seen over the years. Does violent entertainment feed these kinds of minds, and if so can it really be classified as entertainment? If the answer is yes, then it might be detrimental to society, and no amount of money is worth promoting things that contribute to this kind of criminal thinking.

The Academy of Pediatrics says “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.”  If children begin to think that this type of violence is normal behavior these thoughts are often said to be difficult to change later on in life.  Hence, the child becomes an angry adult.  The American Psychological Association says there are three major effects of watching violence in the media (i.e.: video games/television) children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them, and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or hurtful ways toward others.

Of course, it’s not just violence in the media.  There are other reasons children/adults commit violent acts. According to one study, “The involvement of parents in what their children watch, how the family interacts with each other, what the children are exposed to in their environment are also indicators of  how they will behave and what value system they will follow.”

As a writer, I fully understand the elements that are crucial when telling a story, especially in film.  However, perhaps we are “showing” far too much.  Unlike the visuals that are in a work of fiction, a film or television show has the capacity to visually bring the audience into the scene.  It’s not entirely about the imagination of our audiences.  We show perspective and intent visually, and that’s powerfully suggesting.  Stories about good vs. evil have been around forever, but perhaps the acts of violence that are being shown in the media are really the issue.  I don’t know… as a responsible writer, I am questioning it.

The New Media Foundation has a great article on media values, listing the 12 short-term effects of media on the public found in James Potter’s book , 11 Myths of Media.

Perhaps the film/media industry needs to reassess healthy values and truly realize the affects that certain kinds of human behavior can have on audiences.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
– Roy Disney

For Further Reading:

http://www.thenewmediafoundation.org/media/values.php

Interesting… Fox News talked about this:

Tragedy in Aurora: Hollywood to blame?

Screenwriters and Actors Collaborate Online

In 2010, Guy Goldstein, a screenwriter and program developer from Santa Barbara, California created ReadThrough.com.  “A buddy of mine wanted me to read his script, and I just didn’t have the time to sit down and do it.  One day, while I was stuck in LA traffic I found myself wishing I had a way to listen to the screenplay.  I went  home that night and created this program,” says Goldstein.

After 2 years ReadThrough.com is revolutionizing the script read-through and sharing process.  Reading a script is not always easy, but with this program, it becomes a pleasure instead of an inconvenience.

Often, I have heard producers say, “I wish there were more hours in the day.  I just don’t have the time to read through all of these scripts.”  Well, this program helps elevate that issue.  Imagine being able to listen to a script while driving, traveling or just while going for a walk.

Whether you are a writer, a producer looking for a new project, an agent, or an actor wanting to rehearse the dialogue on a script, ReadThrough.com makes the process much easier.  You can virtually listen to a script from anywhere!  Mp3’s can be downloaded, notes can be added and you can share the read-through with others.  In addition, a writer can communicate the storyline with background music, sound effects and images.  When casting parts, writers can readily search a database of actors and ask them to perform specific parts.

For actors, the computer acts as a scene partner by performing cues and pausing for the actor to deliver his or her lines.  Actors can also download the scene or script as an mp3 and rehearse it anywhere!  Additional features include:  public actor profiles, voice acting in real performances, voice-overs and more.”

Screenwriters are told to read their scripts out-loud, and part of the reason is because a screenplay is a spoken/acted, visual medium.  So, it is very important to hear the way dialogue sounds and how it relates to the development of the storyline and the main characters.

ReadThrough.com supports PDF files, Final Draft 8, Celt, Microsoft Word, Text and more.  It gives screenwriters and actors a quick and easy way to bring scripts to life through computer read-through rehearsals, script sharing, and hosting screenwriter and actor profiles.

Success: It’s all about your perspective

I don’t often post another person’s blog post, but this one is good, so I’m going to share it.  My advice to any and all who read this:  To everyone here who has been tempted to quit… Dream big, live large and don’t let anyone steal your vision!

What is your excuse for not succeeding?

John Lennon was abandoned by his parents

Check out what all these great people had to deal with

1. John Lennon was abandoned by his parents.

2. The English poet John Milton was blind.

3. Beethoven was totally deaf when he wrote the Ninth. He never heard it himself, except in his head.

4. Alexander the Great was a hunchback.

5. Homer was thought to have been blind.

6. Handel was paralyzed on his right side when he composed his greatest masterwork.

7. Edison was deaf when he discovered the gramophone.

8. Helen Keller was blind, deaf and dumb.

9. Golda Meir had leukaemia for twelve years.

10. Confucius was an orphan.

Edison was deaf when he invented the gramophone

11.  JFK had a very painful back injury and still became president.

12.  Roosevelt’s legs were paralysed when he was elected president.

13.  Stephen Hawking has motor neuron disease, which is incurable. When he was 21, he was told that he had a maximum of a year to live. He is now the most famous physicist since Einstein. His book A Brief History of Time has sold more than 10 million copies. He is totally paralysed and can only move two fingers which he uses to operate his voice computer.

14.  Christopher Reeve, who acted in the role of Superman, was paralysed from the neck down and he continued to amaze us. He collected millions of dollars in sponsor money for scientific research into his type of back problem.

15.  Fred Astaire was rejected at his first screen test in 1933. He received a letter with the comment that he could neither dance nor act. He had the document framed and hung above the fireplace of his expensive house in Hollywood.

Fred Astaire was told he couldn’t dance

16.  Caruso’s teacher said that Caruso had a terrible voice and could not sing.

17.  Darwin gave up his medical career and was reproached by his father for being a layabout.

18.  Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper publisher because of his ‘lack of creativity’.

19.  Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four.

20.  Louis Pasteur was fifteenth in a class of 22 chemistry students.

Disney was fired for ‘lack of creativity’

21. Newton was a poor student at primary school.

22. Tolstoy was expelled from school as being incompetent and unwilling.

23. Churchill had to do a year over at primary school.

24. Henry Ford went bankrupt five times.

25. And you? Do you believe you CAN despite …..?

Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times

 

How about that ending?

How about that ending?.

Shaked, Stirred, or Poured: Drinking Trends in Ventura County -Ventura County Reporter – Dining Guide 2012

Ventura County Reporter – Dining Guide 2012.

My latest article on the drinking trends in Ventura County! (Go to pages 12 & 16)

Heart disease: Surgeon speaks boldly about the “real” cause

World Renown Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong.. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries,today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream dietthat is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease,stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flourand all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed withomega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell — they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetesand finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

Dr. Dwight Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital , Mesa , AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on helping large corporations promote wellness. He is also the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.

Posted by at 1:40 PM

Internet promiscuity breeds a new kind of sexual revolution

Sensory Overload?

Local teacher’s porn star past sparks debate about the industry, teenage sexual proclivity

By Carla Iacovetti 03/29/2012

“In America sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it is a fact.”
—Marlene Dietrich
(German actress – 1901-1992)

America has been in a sexual revolution since the ’60s and some believe it is rapidly increasing, especially with the unlimited access to sexually graphic sites on the Internet.  While there is no doubt that through the Internet, pornography has become more accessible, it has actually been a part of society through the ages.
Erotica is not anything new. A recent article published on LiveScience.com says, “Whichever way you slice it, the diversity of pornographic materials throughout history suggests that human beings have always been interested in images of sex. Lots and lots of sex.”
Even though sexual promiscuity and pornography have been around for centuries, can we hold the Internet accountable for today’s current sexual trends? While sex is perfectly natural, some believe that pornography of any kind takes it out of the realm of being natural and can open up the door for addictive behavior. In addition, the accessibility on the Internet is creating a whirlwind of issues.
A recent situation that has gained national attention revolves around 31-year-old Stacie Halas, a seventh-grade science teacher at Richard B. Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard. She was recently placed on paid leave after some students reported seeing her in X-rated video clips on the Internet, and administrators at the school shortly thereafter discovered said images. Halas went by the alias “Tiffany Six”; she pursued a career in adult entertainment six years ago in San Diego.

 

SH

Seventh-grade science teacher Stacie Halas was put on paid leave when students discovered her X-rated video clips on the internet from her stint in the adult film industry six years ago.

 

Should a teacher who worked as a porn star be dismissed?

This incident has created controversy here in Ventura County. There are some who believe her removal is unjust and uncalled-for. This is something she did in her private time — before she was ever a teacher — and has nothing to do with her professional teaching career or her ability to teach. In a similar situation, former gay porn-star-turned-teacher Shawn Loftis was  fired by the Miami-Dade district when administrators found his sexually explicit pictures on the Internet in August 2011. The state, however, allowed Loftis to teach again in Florida. The content of Halas’ alleged porn video, on the other hand, constituted a cause for concern for some.
“We were shocked. … I saw parts of the video. It’s hard-core pornography,” said Oxnard School District Superintendent Jeff Chancer. There is a possibility that Halas is in more than one video, too. Chancer has asked parents with children attending Haydock Intermediate School to be very observant of their children’s Internet and cell phone activities.
Whether or not Halas will actually lose her job remains to be seen. After a closed session meeting with the school board last week, the board president released this statement:
“Direction was given to legal counsel regarding the discipline of a certificated employee and no action was taken in closed session. We know that there is considerable interest in our situation at Haydock Intermediate School. However, we respect the privacy of our employees and the Board Members and staff cannot comment on this matter
other than what is reported out of closed session.”
The issue at hand is still a very delicate one, as administrators discuss Halas’ future in correlation with the California Education Code.
“In a situation like this, possible consequences could lead to job termination and eventually the loss of a teaching credential,” said Stanley Mantooth, superintendent of Ventura County Board of Education. California Education Code, sections 44932 and 44933, spell out the grounds for dismissal or suspension of a credentialed employee. These sections list things like immoral or unprofessional conduct and evidence of being unfit for service.
Halas remains on paid administrative leave while the case is under investigation. Haydock Intermediate is a part of Oxnard School District, and the district is working closely with legal counsel to decide whether to move forward with a termination. Well-known feminist attorney Gloria Allred is representing Halas and had no comment.

 

Anytime, anywhere

With porn so easily accessible, is it as addictive as, let’s say, cocaine? Are Americans now on sexual overdrive? Some say no, that many Americans have always had issues with sex.
“All these issues were present before the Internet,” said licensed marriage and family therapist/certified sex therapist Jacqueline Richard of Ventura. “Pornography has been around forever, but the difference is that the Internet makes everything, including porn, much more accessible to us.
“Watching pornography can be extremely stimulating, depending on the individual. This level of stimulation can change our neurochemistry in ways similar to other kinds of excitement or arousal, not just similar to that caused by stimulating drugs,” Richard continued. “Some people are more prone to addiction or compulsivity than others, whether it’s substances such as drugs and alcohol, or whether it’s to other processes such as gambling or pornography. For the addicted, there is an ever-increasing need to increase the level of intensity in order to achieve the same effect, much like the need for more and more addictive drugs. For others, there doesn’t appear to be this need. Not everyone who views pornography becomes addicted.”
The accessibility of the Internet has taken porn viewing to a new level. Before the Internet, viewing porn was more complicated and secretive. Times have changed, however. Authors Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, in their book A Billion Wicked Thoughts — a book that shows a billion worldwide web searches, revealing the way the Internet has changed things — show that the Internet is revolutionizing sexual desires.
Part of that change has to do with two things: accessibility and sexual triggers. A sexual trigger, according to Phil Brewer, Ed.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and emergency room psychologist, is a commonly used term today that refers to stimuli that can trigger behavior, aggravate or promote addictions and vulnerabilities. Brewer said that when a young boy views hard-core porn, it can cause a cognitive imprinting and arousal of prurient nature.
Whenever one engages in sexual activity, the brain releases a tidal wave of endorphins, which produce a chemical high. The authors of A Billion Wicked Thoughts found that online porn has changed sexual desire; where men once did not have such easy access to triggers that promote sexual addictions, now they do. “Web porn has changed everything,” Gaddaam said.
These sexual triggers may be cause for concern when considering how a teenage boy might handle sitting in a classroom taught by a teacher whom he has seen on the Internet engaging in hard-core porn.
“Young boys with raging hormones will be titillated by this kind of thing,” Mantooth said. Chancer said he hopes that this situation sends a very strong message to parents about monitoring children’s Internet activity — via both the computer and smart phone.

 

RJ

World-renowned porn king Ron Jeremy dislikes how the Internet has morphed the adult industry and believes that there is a dark side to it.

World-renowned porn king Ron Jeremy (with more than 2,000 porn videos under his belt) dislikes how the Internet has morphed the adult entertainment industry.
“The world of porn is changing immensely because of the Internet,” he said. “We now create our own movies and show them to the neighbors. Everybody is a porn star.” He said that he also believes that no child younger than 18 should ever be exposed to porn. Few would argue that any child should ever be exposed to porn. It’s not adults, however, who are making such decisions for their children. Instead, adolescents are choosing to check various websites behind their parents’ backs.
Ben Marshall has been serving as youth pastor at Reality Church for the past four to five years, and he has observed an increase in the number of youths who are getting hooked on porn.
“Viewing this stuff takes away kids’ innocence and creates a stronger desire to experiment sexually,” he said. “I know of boys who have contacted girls via Facebook to discuss sex. They create a time and place to experiment with each other, and then they go home and never speak to each other again. With the Internet, you don’t have to feel shame. You can speak to someone boldly without any barriers. It’s creating open experimentation for all kinds of sexual experiences. Kids are being exposed to things that they shouldn’t ever be exposed to. Once a kid starts this stuff, it opens up Pandora’s box; and once that happens, it can become a serious problem that can affect someone’s entire life.”
A 2009 CyberSentinel poll recorded that many 13- to 16-year-olds spend almost two hours a week viewing pornography, and 11 is the average age at which a child is first exposed to Internet porn. In a recent article published in Psychology Today, porn may be seen as an increasing problem in young men from all cultures: “Desperate young men from various cultures, with different levels of education, religiosity, attitudes, values, diets, marijuana use and personalities, are seeking help. They have only two things in common: heavy use of today’s Internet porn and increasing need for more extreme material.”
Many of these young men began viewing porn on the Internet in their early teens, according to those who have studied the subject, and sometimes the need for more extreme material arises. Teenage boys seem to be particularly susceptible to pornography’s seductive lure. In the book Kids Online, author Donna Rice Hughes shares the following: “The male’s hydraulic sex system and the exterior genitals keep him more aware of his sexual feelings than the typical female is. His ejaculation pattern, once begun, will continue, and his psychosocial sexual appetite tends to be fully developed within 36 months after that first ejaculation. The porn market, therefore exploits this normal development of male sexuality, with the tragic effect that addiction to pornography tends to desensitize the male, such that a bonded heterosexual relationship is not only unlikely to develop, but the genuine relationship with one exclusive person is not even desired.”
In the case of Halas, the main issue doesn’t seem to be the fact that she did porn; the issue is that students discovered her. Given the amount of testosterone running through a male adolescent’s body, will a young man have the maturity and the presence of mind not to continue looking at porn once he is exposed to it? That also raises the question, how much of the burden should a former porn star bear for the choices of his or her students?
“Moral turpitude involves conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals,” Mantooth said. “This is the kind of thing that can ruin a teacher’s credibility and titillate young middle-school-age kids who have raging hormones.”
Mantooth further stated, however, that he believes that it is ultimately up to the parents to be on top of things, instilling core values into their children. “If it’s not porn, it will be violence or bullying. In today’s world, kids need to have family values of the highest caliber fostered by their parents.”

 

SL

Former gay porn-star-turned-teacher Shawn Loftis was fired from Miami-Dade school district, however, the state of Florida allowed him to teach again.

“Based on my personal experience in counseling,” Marshall said, “I would say that Internet porn is the number 1 or number 2 problem with high-school-age boys today. Not everyone is going to become an addict, but most high-school-age boys are having interaction with it on a fairly regular basis.”
Some consider the Internet to be a virtual sexual playground for some adolescent boys with budding hormones and curiosity.
“Adolescent boys have historically sought out information about sex through friends, family members and pornography, hoping that this knowledge will fulfill their new-found curiosity and urges,” said Alexandra Katehakis, the founder and clinical director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles and the author of Erotic Intelligence. “But in today’s digital world, most adolescents turn to porn for answers — and pleasure — and when porn becomes an adolescent boy’s primary mode of sexual education, it can be harmful to his brain’s development.”

Changing attitudes on porn

In a recent survey on the Internet Filter Review site, “40 million Americans visit Internet porn sites at least once a month.” In 2008, Nielson Online showed that 25 percent of employees here in the United States access porn from the workplace.
Ventura resident Ryan Gleason, who works in the Internet advertising industry, shared what he believes is a widely perceived perspective on pornography.
“Many believe porn is an infringement on a private, intimate, sacred act covenanted by a creative force — God; but that is only an opinion,” he said. “I’m not sure that it’s really a moral issue. Addiction to anything is another issue altogether, and when it comes to youth viewing it, they don’t have the capacity to process and understand what they’re watching. They shouldn’t be watching porn.”
Paul, a local man in his mid-30s, does not see Internet porn as that big an issue. “I actually don’t know one guy over 25 who is not, at some level, viewing Internet porn. It’s just the way the world’s flyin’ today. … Yup, everybody’s doin’ it — women too!”

 

Too much of anything is not a good thing

Famed author and feminist Erica Jong says, “If you have too many sweets, you feel sick. If everything is allowed, you don’t crave it anymore. Explicit sex can become boring in the end — hence the theory that people have to ratchet up the degrees of porn they watch, to find it sexy — with disturbing effects on society as a whole.”
“The Internet is exactly like nuclear energy,” Jeremy said. “Nuclear energy is clean. It can actually be good, but you can also make a bomb out of it. There are so many things that can be used for good, but they also have a real dark side. The Internet is much the same.”
While sexual revolutions may continue, and the Internet is surely not going away, the fact that we are living in an age where sexual expression may be at an all-time high should prod us all to be aware of how viewing porn affects us and its apparent addictive qualities. Perhaps now is also a good time to start talking about the effects of viewing porn with our teenagers instead of seemingly continuing to ignore the issue.
“Part of the sexual revolution is bringing rationality to sexuality — because when you don’t embrace sexuality in a normal way, you get the twisted kinds, and the kinds that destroy lives.” — Hugh Hefner, NPR interview, Sept. 6, 2003.

Original Article:

http://vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/?id=9683

Michael Sullivan contributed to this article.

 

 

KONY 2012: Stop this war criminal

We live in a very different age; an age where technology has made it possible to connect with people all over the world.  I’ve been aware of the INVISIBLE CHILDREN movement for awhile now, and I’ve posted things from time to time on Facebook and Twitter, but I want to blog about what this organization is doing to stop the evil crimes that are being committed against the innocent children of UGANDA.  Please watch this video, and join the thousands of Americans who want to see Joseph Kony, one of the worst war criminals against innocent children STOPPED.

Please sign the pledge and get involved in whatever way you can.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/kony2012/kony-4.html

WATCH THE VIDEO:

http://www.invisiblechildren.com/videos

Southern California’s growing dilemna: High rent in hard economy

Anyone who lives in Southern California, and actually throughout much of California’s coast are being affected by high rents in a low-paying economy.  With so many lay-offs, budget cuts, salary cuts and decreasing job security, life in this beautiful state is becoming hard for many.

At the end of February, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released its updated economic forecast report for California. According to the report California’s economy is on it’s way to recovery. It is difficult to understand where this report is getting its figures, because continued joblessness and housing issues are still alive and well.

The report actually reveals aspects of the tech industry are booming, while other sectors of the economy are still compromised–housing being at the top of that list.  Governor Browns tax forecasts were only off by a mere $6.8 billion, according to the LAO.

Californian’s… be advised…According to the report, bigger budget cuts are on the way!

I came across the following article in the LA Times, and thought it was noteworthy to post.

The rent is too darn high for many Angelenos

By Maria Dickerson

For RentRents are rising in Los Angeles and other markets across the United States. (Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press )
By Marla DickersonMarch 3, 2012, 6:00 a.m.

Housing affordability has long concerned would-be home buyers in Southern California. But L.A.’s renters are struggling too.

More than 60% of Angelenos who rent their dwellings are considered “rent burdened,” meaning they pay more than 30% of their income in rent.

That’s according to the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research group, which just released a report on the state of L.A.’s rental market.

There isn’t much good news in it for the 62% of Los Angeles residents who rent their dwellings. Here are some of the findings, which are based largely on census data:

*One in five rental units in Los Angeles was overcrowded in 2010.

*Average rent plus utilities in 2010 was $1,256, up 28% since 2000. Meanwhile, incomes of renter households declined 3.6% over the same time period, adjusted for inflation.

*Fully one-third of L.A.’s renters are “severely” rent burdened, meaning that they pay more than half their income in rent. That figure was 24% in 2000.

*Growth in rental units is lagging behind L.A.’s population growth.

Rising demand for rental property is outpacing supply in much of the country. Blame the housing meltdown.

Millions of Americans have been forced into the rental market after they lost their homes to foreclosure. Others can’t qualify for a mortgage because credit standards have toughened. Still others aren’t convinced that the housing market has hit bottom yet. They’re waiting for prices to fall further before jumping in.

Landlords are loving it. U.S. apartment vacancies hit a 10-year low of 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2011, according New York research firm Reis Inc.

Rents are rising in most major cities, including Los Angeles. Asking rents averaged $1,382 in the third quarter of 2011, up 1.2% from the same period a year earlier, according to the research group Marcus & Millichap.

Renters have it even tougher in San Francisco and New York City; rents in Manhattan are up 9% to 10% over the last year, the Federal Reserve Board’s beige book said this week.

Lots of renters out there agree with perennial New York political candidate Jimmy McMillan. To paraphrase the mustachioed gadfly: “The rent is too darn high.”

(Original Article):

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-los-angeles-high-rents-20120302,0,4401334.story