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California fires, moving north, force Santa Barbara evacuations

 Monster fires in Southern California raged for a seventh day on Sunday, edging into Santa Barbara County while leaving residents of neighboring Ventura County to deal with the aftermath of a historic inferno.

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Featured Shifting Paradigms Washington Post

Her fiance gave her heroin. She overdosed. Does that make him a murderer?

Her fiance gave her heroin. She overdosed. Does that make him a murderer?

May 8, 2016

When Jarret McCasland and his fiancee decided to celebrate her 19th birthday with heroin, it meant the end of her life and the end of his freedom.

Flavia Cardenas, who worked in a nightclub, died of an overdose the next morning in Baton Rouge. After a prosecutor convinced a jury that McCasland administered the fatal dose, the 27-year-old pipe fabrication shop worker was found guilty of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison in February with no chance for parole.

With deaths from heroin and opioids at their highest level in U.S. history, prosecutors have begun charging those who supplied the final dose with murder, even when that person is the deceased’s friend, lover, sibling or spouse.

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Accountability Featured Washington Post

Is the presidency good for Trump’s business? Not necessarily at this golf course

Is the presidency good for Trump’s business? Not necessarily at this golf course.

At President Trump’s golf club in Southern California, there is a driving range on a cliff, with a stunning view of the blue Pacific. There’s room for 24 golfers.

But, on a recent afternoon, there was only one.

And he was playing with a guilty conscience.

“I feel like I’m cheating on my wife,” said Richard Sullivan, a 59-year-old doctor.

 

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Featured Washington Post

Pro-charter majority to take power on Los Angeles school board

Pro-charter majority to take power on Los Angeles school board

June 8, 2017

 A revolution is coming to the nation’s second-biggest school system, with a pro-charter majority set to take over the governing board of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Backed by billionaire charter interests and fiercely opposed by teachers unions, the two winners of last month’s bruising election — said to be the most expensive school board race in U.S. history — will take office in July.

Nick Melvoin, 31, and Kelly Gonez, 28, will join two other charter-friendly members on a seven-member board that oversees a system with 1,300 schools, 735,000 students and major academic and fiscal challenges.

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Featured Washington Post

Scrutiny over terrorism funding hampers charitable work in ravaged countries

As the Syrian military began laying waste to the city of Aleppo in an offensive to vanquish rebel forces last year, a doctor was at his wit’s end.

Anas Moughrabieh was trying to save civilian lives, treating patients remotely via teleconference from his office in Detroit. As people were rushed into the Syrian hospital with grave head injuries, doctors there had run out of hypertonic saline, which relieves pressure in the brain. That and other simple supply shortages led many to die, including children. He looked on helplessly from 6,000 miles away.

Although the hospital was run by the Syrian American Medical Society — a District-based charity that relies on donations — lack of funding wasn’t the issue. And in this case, the brutality of the Syrian regime wasn’t responsible for the supply shortage.

The problem was a U.S. bank.

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Featured Washington Post

‘I heard him load a gun’: San Bernardino students recall school shooting

‘I heard him load a gun’: San Bernardino students recall school shooting

April 11, 2017

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Third-grader Jeremy Muschell was returning to his classroom after using the restroom when he heard the first of four loud booms.

“They were really, really loud, and he heard people yelling, ‘No, don’t!’ ” said his mother, Jane Muschell. “He told me he heard [the shooter] reload the gun — cocking the gun.”

And so the nightmare began on Monday morning at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, where Cedric Anderson, 53, gunned down his wife, teacher Karen Smith, and killed 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez. Anderson also wounded a 9-year-old child before turning the gun on himself.

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Featured Washington Post

‘A community on edge’: Town torn apart by sexual assault accusations against football players

‘A community on edge’: Town torn apart by sexual assault accusations against football players

DIETRICH, Idaho — The first child they adopted was a 2-year-old from the Marshall Islands who had rotten teeth and a large abscess covering the side of his face.

At the time, the family of Tim and Shelly McDaniel was still passably conventional in this ­no-stoplight town of 330, surrounded by high desert dotted with sagebrush and cattle.

But since that first adoption in 2000, the couple have brought into their fold 19 more castaway kids from all over the country — most from troubled families, and half of them black. The McDaniels now provide their town, in Idaho’s conservative Mormon country, with the entirety of its black population, save one mixed-race child from another family.

It is a town in turmoil, thrust into national headlines by a tale of racially charged violence and negligence graphically detailed in a $10 million lawsuit the McDaniels filed last week against the 230-student school district. The suit claims that three players on the high school football team sexually assaulted a mentally disabled teammate — a son of the McDaniels — with a coat hanger, which they kicked deep into his rectum. The three alleged assailants are white; the McDaniels’ son is black.

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Featured Shifting Paradigms Washington Post

An unprecedented experiment in mass forgiveness

An unprecedented experiment in mass forgiveness

LOS ANGELES — Jose Gonzalez remembers feeling disoriented as he stepped out of Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and into the vastness of the Colorado Desert. A corrections van was waiting to shuttle him to freedom. The driver rolled down the passenger window and told Gonzalez to get in. The door handle felt foreign in his fingers, and he struggled to open it.

“I’d never been able to open my own door in 20 years,” he said.

Gonzalez had just served a long stint on a life sentence for his role in a grisly 1996 murder. Until his release last April, Gonzalez had no doubt he would die in prison: “If you had a life sentence . . . you were going to do life. No one was getting out.”

But Gonzalez, 36, returned to society and is now answering phones in downtown Los Angeles as a paid intern for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and Human Rights Watch, two nonprofit groups that sponsored the law that cleared the way for his release.

Gonzalez is among thousands of felons benefiting from a grand experiment, an act of mass forgiveness unprecedented in U.S. history. In California, once a national innovator in draconian policies to get tough on crime, voters and lawmakers are now innovating in the opposite direction, adopting laws that have released tens of thousands of inmates and are preventing even more from going to prison in the first place.

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Featured The Daily Beast

Does Masturbating Make You a Sex Addict? What About Porn? What About Bondage? Even the Experts Can’t Agree.

Aug. 26, 2017

 

In the world of sex therapy, there is no consensus on what constitutes a sex addict.

On one end of the spectrum are people—usually men—who believe they might be sex addicts because they masturbate a couple times a week.

And then there are people like Josh, a 44-year-old retired military officer from California who couldn’t stop flirting with women online. These digital dalliances sometimes developed into in-the-flesh flings. Ultimately, Josh contracted herpes and infected his wife. As part of his therapy, he told her everything. Now, their marriage is on the rocks, and he fears he will lose the love of his life.

“She hasn’t said it in a long time—that she loves me,” the father of four told The Daily Beast.

Are both examples illustrations of sex addiction?

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Featured Washington Post

Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’

(Published in the Washington Post — June 13, 2015)

Rich Californians balk at limits: ‘We’re not all equal when it comes to water’

RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

Yuhas lives in the ultra-wealthy enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, a bucolic Southern California hamlet of ranches, gated communities and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average. In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.

But a moment of truth is at hand for Yuhas and his neighbors, and all of California will be watching…

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