October 17, 2021

America's Top Colleges (According To Forbes)

For the first time, a public school, UC Berkeley, took the number one spot on the list. Yale is #2. MIT and Harvard are #6 and #7, respectively. The next public school on the list after Berkeley is UCLA at #8. The next public school is UC San Diego at #15. Next is UC Davis at #20. The first non-California public school on the list is Michigan, Ann Arbor at #22.

Wellesley is #32. Tufts is #38. Boston College is #56. Northeastern is #76. Babson is #81. Boston University is #83. Brandeis is #128. Bentley is #139.

Filed under California | October 17, 2021 at 08:27 PM | Comments (0)


The mother cat started showing up around my house a little more than a year ago as a kitten. I never fed, petted or otherwise encouraged her to stay around, but I also didn't chase her away. At some point my neighbor began to feed her, but she still liked to hang out in my yard (and kill birds) a lot. She has gone into heat at least two or three times, bringing the loose male cats to my yard. But this is her first litter. I had no idea she was pregnant. Yesterday morning I heard plaintive, squeaky meowing and followed it to its source. The mother had hauled her two kittens to a sheltered spot by my A/C unit and left them there while she ate food over at the neighbor's. Today I set up a motion-activated security camera pointing at this spot and got several videos, but this is the only close up of a kitten so far. At night she returns them to her hidey-place under a trailer in my backyard which is where I'm sure she gave birth.

Filed under Desert Hot Springs | October 17, 2021 at 06:53 PM | Comments (2)

Lucy Visiting The Trojans

Yesterday NASA launched Lucy, a robotic explorer that will travel to the Trojans, arriving in 2027. This gives you about five years to refresh your knowledge of Lagrange points (every pair of bodies orbiting each other has five of them) and Trojans (two of the Lagrange points). When astronomers refer to The Trojans, they mean the ones at Jupiter because those are the most numerous and were the first to be identified.

Lucy will visit the "Greek camp" first (2027-28), then visit the "Trojan camp" in 2033.

Filed under Science | October 17, 2021 at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

Prisoner Firefighters

An interesting, well written account of why California prisoners prefer fighting wildfires to sitting in prison cells.

Sending us to fight fires was abusive. We preferred it to staying in prison.

By Matthew Hahn
Matthew Hahn is a union electrician and meditation teacher who writes about his time in prison and issues related to criminal justice. He lives in San Jose, Calif., with his wife and two cats.
October 15, 2021 at 6:55 a.m. EDT

On the perimeter of the smoldering ruins of Lassen National Forest in Northern California this summer, an orange-clad crew of wildland firefighters worked steadily to contain the Dixie Fire, the largest single wildfire in state history. Using rakes, axes and chain saws, they literally moved the landscape, cleaving burned from unburned to contain the flames. This work was dangerous, and they made just a few dollars per hour, working 24-hour shifts.

But it was better than being in prison.

I used to be one of the incarcerated people whom California employs to fight wildfires, and I was fortunate. During my nine years in prison for drug-related burglaries, ending in 2012, I never met a fellow prisoner who didn’t want to be in “fire camp,” as the program is known. Some dreamed of going but knew they would never be allowed to live in such a low-security facility. Others, like me, did everything in their capacity to ensure that they got there as soon as humanly possible. For the most part, this meant being savvy and lucky enough to stay out of trouble during the first few years of my incarceration.

Though the program is voluntary, some well-meaning people on social media and in activist circles like to compare fire camp to slavery. Every fire season, they draw attention to its resemblance to chain gangs of the past, its low wages and its exploitative nature. Some argue that incarcerated firefighters face insurmountable barriers to careers in that field after parole, though this has started to change in recent years. Others argue that the voluntary nature of fire camp is a ruse, that consent cannot be offered by the coerced.

There is some truth to these objections, but they ignore the reality of why people would want to risk life and limb for a state that is caging them: The conditions in California prisons are so terrible that fighting wildfires is a rational choice. It is probably the safest choice as well.

I’m from a long line of California ranchers. Now we flee fires all the time.

California prisons have, on average, three times the murder rate of the country overall and twice the rate of all American prisons. These figures don’t take into account the sheer number of physical assaults that occur behind prison walls. Prison feels like a dangerous place because it is. Whether it’s individual assaults or large-scale riots, the potential for violence is ever-present. Fire camp represents a reprieve from that risk.

Sure, people can die in fire camp as well — at least three convict-firefighters have died working to contain fires in California since 2017 — but the threat doesn’t weigh on the mind like the prospect of being murdered by a fellow prisoner. I will never forget the relief I felt the day I set foot in a fire camp in Los Angeles County, like an enormous burden had been lifted.

The experience was at times harrowing, as when my 12-man crew was called to fight the Jesusita Fire, which scorched nearly 9,000 acres and destroyed 80 homes in the Santa Barbara hills back in 2009. I distinctly remember our vehicle rounding an escarpment along the coast when the fire revealed itself, the plume rising and then disappearing into a cloud cover of its own making. Bright orange fingers of flame danced along the top of the mountains.

The fire had been moving in the patches of grass and brush between properties, so we zigzagged our way between homes, cutting down bushes, beating away flames and leaving a four-foot-wide dirt track in our wake. I was perpetually out of breath, a combination of exertion and poor air quality. My flame-resistant clothing was soaked with sweat, and I remember seeing steam rise from my pant leg when I got too close to the burning grass.

The fire had ignited one home’s deck and was slowly burning its way to the structure. We cut the deck off the house, saving the home. I often fantasize about the owners returning to see it still standing, unaware and probably unconcerned that an incarcerated fire crew had saved it. There was satisfaction in knowing that our work was as valuable as that of any other firefighter working the blaze and that the gratitude expressed toward first responders included us.

Prisons are getting Whiter. That’s one way mass incarceration might end.

There are other reasons for prisoners to choose fire camp if given the opportunity. They are often located in secluded natural settings, giving inmates the chance to live in an environment that doesn’t remotely resemble a prison. There are no walls, and sometimes there aren’t even fences. Gun towers are conspicuously absent, and the guards aren’t even armed.

Camps have good meals, more nutritious and higher-calorie than those served in the chow hall behind the walls. Hobby shops give the men and women of fire camp the opportunity to do woodworking, metalsmithing and painting.

Perhaps the greatest incentive is the work-time credits, allowing for earlier parole. Before I got to fire camp, my earliest possible release date was November 2013, yet I ended up paroling in February 2012.

It’s understandable that fire camps are seen as dicey ethical terrain. Yes, the decision to take part is largely made under duress, given the alternative. Yes, incarcerated firefighters are paid pennies for an invaluable task. And yes, it is difficult though not impossible for participants to become firefighters after leaving prison. Despite this, fire camps remain the most humane places to do time in the California prison system.

The risk of the slavery conversation is that it further endangers the fire camp program. Already, the state has closed some camps as it tries to reduce the incarcerated population and fewer eligible people remain in prison. There are now 1,600 incarcerated men and women scattered in 35 fire camps across the state. “We are in desperate need of these programs,” Brandon Dunham, a former U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management firefighter, said recently. “They need us and we need them.”

Private prisons aren’t uniquely heinous. All prisons are abusive.

If one is genuinely worried about slavery or the choiceless choice of incarcerated firefighters, consider the guy pushing a broom in his cell block making the equivalent of one Top Ramen noodle packet per day, just so he can have the privilege of making a collect call to his mother. Or think of the man scrubbing the streaks out of the guards’ toilets, making seven cents an hour, half of which goes to pay court fees and restitution, just so he can have those couple of hours outside his cage for the day.

I appreciate the collective efforts and concern on behalf of incarcerated firefighters. But they fail to take into account the hundreds of thousands of people in jails and prisons across America in conditions so terrible as to make fire camps seem like country clubs. Places where people are forced to choose between working for nothing and losing their humanity.

So, while we may have faced the heat of a wildfire for a few bucks a day, and we may have saved a few homes and been happy doing so, understand that we were rational actors. We wanted to be there, where some of our dignity was returned to us.

Filed under California | October 17, 2021 at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2021

Four In New York City

All in New York in July 2001; all Ektachrome.
Herald Square (1)
Herald Square

Empire State Building Base (1)
The base of the Empire State Building

Empire State Building (3)

Macy's - July 2001
Macy's at the corner of 34th Street and 6th Avenue

Filed under Architecture,Cities/Urbanism,Photography | October 16, 2021 at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)

Oat Shortages Coming

According to this WSJ article, oat futures are double what they were last year. The main causes are (1) a 13% reduction in the acreage planted this year and (2) dry weather.

“Supplies will be tight,” said Jack Scoville, a grains analyst with Chicago trading firm Price Futures Group in a note. “There will not be much in the way of high quality oats for consumers to buy in the coming year.”

Filed under Food and Drink | October 16, 2021 at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

F-150 Taillights

Taillights on new Ford F-150s include a 4-LED display to show how heavily loaded the pickup is. All four LEDs light up on a fully loaded F-150; if it's overloaded, the top LED flashes. So now when you pass an overloaded F-150 on the highway (or they pass you) and you ask yourself, "My, isn't that truck overloaded?" you will be able to confirm the fact by looking at the taillights.

Filed under Automotive | October 16, 2021 at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2021

Nice Nutrition News

Reports of specific foods that are supposed to be beneficial to health are as common as dirt and contradict each other at least twice a day, so you might as well pick out the reports you like. Here's a nice one based on Iowa State University research and published in the Journal of ALzheimer's Disease:

Here are four of the most significant findings from the study:
  1. Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life;
  2. The daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function;
  3. Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess; and
  4. Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.

IOW, you can't just drink red wine, you've got to eat cheese too. Or, better, take a trip to Greece.

Filed under Food and Drink,Health | October 15, 2021 at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

USPS Initiates Check Cashing Pilot

The Post Office will cash checks up to $500 for a flat fee of $5.95 and put the proceeds on a gift card in four post offices in these locations: The Bronx, Washington DC, Falls Church VA and Baltimore.

| October 15, 2021 at 06:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2021

Bezos Dises Shatner

Filed under Science | October 14, 2021 at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

Video Inside Desert Hot Springs's Biggest Cultivation Facility

Video inside the San Jac marijuana cultivation facility in Desert Hot Springs. They say this is the largest such facility in DHS. The story is broken into four segments, so keep viewing to the end to see all of it. I'm impressed with the audio in this little documentary. Everywhere they go inside the facility there is overwhelming white noise from the ventilation system (640 tons of A/C we are told), yet the voices are always clear enough to be understandable. (The first 2½ minutes are just intro that you can skip).

Filed under Coachella Valley,Desert Hot Springs,Marijuana | October 14, 2021 at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

Police Shoot & Kill Fleeing Suspect At Indian And I-10

Very early this morning. Riverside County Sheriff's Office press release:


Deputy / Officer involved shooting occurs after Beaumont Police officers, Riverside Sheriff’s deputies and Palm Springs officers locate suspect who shot at a Banning Police officer during a traffic stop.

On Thursday, October 14, 2021 around 12:24 AM a Banning Police officer was shot at by a suspect during a traffic stop off State Highway 243 in Banning. During the shooting the gunfire struck the Banning Police vehicle and disabled it. The suspect fled the scene in an older model green wagon. Banning Police requested the assistance of surrounding law enforcement agencies. Beaumont Police officers responded to the area and located the shooting suspect driving eastbound on Interstate 10.

Beaumont Police Department officers attempted to stop the suspect who failed to yield. The suspect fled at a high rate of speed and a pursuit was initiated. Beaumont Police Department officers were joined by Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputies as they pursued the suspect eastbound on Interstate 10 towards the Palm Springs area. The suspect shot several times at Beaumont Police officers who were behind him during the pursuit. Information was relayed to Palm Springs Police Department advising them of a pursuit of an armed suspect heading towards their jurisdiction.

Upon entering the Palm Springs area, the suspect exited on North Indian Canyon Drive where he ultimately stopped his vehicle on the offramp. At that time, a deputy / officer involved shooting occurred.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau and the Palm Springs Police used Armored Rescue Vehicles, to protect the law enforcement officers from the suspect who was still armed and barricaded inside his vehicle. Upon approaching the vehicle, the suspect was found deceased. The rifle used by the suspect was located inside the vehicle. The suspect’s identity will be withheld pending next of kin notification.

No deputies or officers were injured during this incident. There are no outstanding suspects and there is no threat to the public.

The following agencies were involved in the deputy / officer shooting: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Beaumont Police Department and Palm Springs Police Department. The involved deputies and officers will be placed on administrative leave per their Department policy. The names of the involved deputies / officers will not be released at this time.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Public Safety | October 14, 2021 at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

Dutch Royals Can Marry Same-Sex Partners

When I first saw the headline Dutch Royals Can Marry Same-Sex Partners Without Risking Throne, Government Says I first thought that perhaps the Dutch monarch was also the leader of a (the?) church, as are the monarchs in some other countries. But my brief and shallow research into Dutch religion seems to indicate the church there is organized along democratic lines.

A Dutch royal couldn't marry a Roman Catholic until 1983 when the law was reformed to say simply that parliamentary approval was required for any royal marriage to be valid. So the question now boils down to 'Would parliament approve a royal same-sex marriage?'. And the response from the government is Yes, it would. That is all. It's just the Dutch dotting their i's and crossing their t's. They are cousins to the Germans, ya know.

[Prime Minister Mark] Rutte said the question of whether adopted children or children born from donated sperm or via a surrogate could be named legitimate heirs remained unresolved.

He said it wasn’t appropriate to consider the matter now, as “this depends too much on the facts and circumstances of the specific case.”

Filed under Gay Issues,Politics | October 14, 2021 at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2021

Southern Culture Contribution

We can always look to our southern states for ideas on how to use sugar in novel ways.

DEAR HELOISE >> My grandkids love ice cream, so I usually keep some cones and ice cream on hand for when they visit. Unfortunately, they never seem to finish the cone until it’s leaking at the bottom.

The next thing I know, I’m washing everyone’s shirt. Finally, I started to place miniature marshmallows in the bottom of the cones, and no more leaky ice-cream cones!

— Colleen F., Bainbridge, Georgia

Filed under Food and Drink | October 13, 2021 at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Vulnerability of Kilters

Seen in Dear Abby today:

DEAR ABBY >> I married a proud Scotsman a year ago who often wears kilts.

When we go out, women think nothing of coming over and lifting his kilt, which exposes him to anyone who has a visual advantage. These women scream with glee and then become physically aggressive with their hands.

Frankly, I am shocked and horrified anyone would do this. The last time it happened a woman ripped his kilt off and the police became involved. Originally, the police were going to charge my husband with indecent exposure.

After several hours, it became clear that it was the woman who assaulted my husband. The police then kinda laughed it off. They didn’t plan on doing anything further. We were furious.

Why is there a double standard that women feel they can lift a man’s kilt to expose him and call it fun, yet the same women would scream sexual assault if a man lifted their skirt? Women need to understand that lifting a man’s kilt is sexual assault and should be treated as the crime it is. Now, every time a woman does it, we immediately call the police and report the crime.

The perpetrators are then shocked and angry that they are being arrested for a sex crime for something they thought was innocent fun and games. Your column reaches many readers. With your help, we can help women understand that doing this is unacceptable.

— Double Standard

DEAR DOUBLE >> It is no more acceptable to lift a man’s kilt “in the name of fun” than it would be to pull his trousers down. I hope any person reading this, who didn’t have the common sense to know better, will take note and respect the personal space of Scotsmen and ALL individuals. (It beats finding one’s name on a sex offender registry.)

First, I want to know where is this weird land where people are flipping up men's kilts. Second, I want more context. Does her husband have very hairy legs? Did he let some lassie (of any gender) buy him a Guinness? If so, then it sounds like he was just asking for it. A lassie deserves something in return for their investment in stout and the husband could've just worn pants if he didn't want the attention. /s

| October 13, 2021 at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Reefer Madness Alive In The Republican Armpit Of Riverside County

Residents of rural De Luz (just west of Temecula) are hauling out all the old shibboleths in their arguments against the first legal marijuana cultivation in Riverside Count outside of an incorporated city. Fine. Let 'em object. Send those developers over to Desert Hot Springs.

"Vikki Havins said she worries robbers will think her van is full of cannabis from Fuego Farms." Because that's just how they do it after spending millions to build a cultivation facility, they assemble a fleet of used Ford vans to drive their valuable cargo around rural backroads.

It would be very interesting, but terribly unethical, if someone who wanted to keep the marijuana cultivation real estate market high were to support a misinformation campaign to encourage the uninformed citizenry to panic. That would be the sort of thing Russia would do.

Filed under California,Desert Hot Springs,Marijuana | October 13, 2021 at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2021

Watch Palm Springs Pride Live - November 7

Streaming on YouTube.

Filed under Coachella Valley,Gay Issues | October 12, 2021 at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

My New Right Hip

My New Right Hip (2209)

Surgery was at Eisenhower on October 4. Recovery has gone really well. Two days ago I walked the track around the outside of Mission Springs Park once which, IIRC, is a bit less than half a mile long. I did that carrying my folded-up walker in case I needed it. I still have some restrictions, but can walk anywhere for as far as I can tolerate. The left hip is still good, so I don't think this is going to happen a second time.

Filed under Health,Photography | October 12, 2021 at 04:49 PM | Comments (1)

Mt. Whitney View

Summit View
July 1968 view from Mt. Whitney Peak captured on Kodachrome
by John Fisher.
The caption he provided:

Mt. Whitney California U.S.A. At 14,505 Ft (4,421 m) Mount Whitney is the highest peak in California. Iceburg lake is lower left. 10,000 ft. below is the town of Lone pine in the Owens Valley.
Olympus OM-1, 24mm f2.8, Zuiko, Kodachrome

Mt. Whitney is the tallest in the 48 states.

Filed under California,Photography | October 12, 2021 at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Velaslavasay Panorama

I'm pretty surprised that I never heard the slightest peep about this weird and interesting place until I saw this LA Times story. Here's the website for The Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles. It's a cousin to Boston's Cyclorama which was built to display one panorama.

Velaslavasay Panorama's Instagram account.

Filed under Art | October 12, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

Mountain Lion "Monrovia" Found Dead

She had been rescued from last year's Bobcat Fire and kept in rehab for a few weeks due to burned paw pads, and then released. Her tracking collar and occasional appearances in front of wildlife cameras indicated she successfully returned to life in the wild, wandering over 67 square miles of urban-wilderness interface. Her body has been recovered, but a cause of death could not be determined. She was estimated to be 6 or 7 years old when rescued.

Filed under California | October 12, 2021 at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2021

"Who Goes Nazi?"

Harper's reprints the article by Dorothy Thompson from August 1941. Do you see yourself among the personalities described?

Filed under Politics | October 11, 2021 at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2021

Constitutional Rights Restored In Texas — For Now

"U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law, saying the state had pursued 'an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.'" "Judge Pitman chose not to delay the effective date of his injunction."

| October 6, 2021 at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

Latino Assembly Members Object To Riverside County Redistricting Maps

"'These proposed maps were drawn with a clear intent to protect certain incumbent supervisors and dilute the influence of Latino voters,' read a joint statement issued Monday, Oct. 4, by [Sabrina] Cervantes, [Jose] Medina and [Eduardo] Garcia."

You can find the four proposed redistricting maps by clicking here.

Filed under California,Coachella Valley,Politics | October 6, 2021 at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Bianco In Oath Keepers

From today's Press-Enterprise.

Riverside County sheriff acknowledges he was dues-paying member of Oath Keepers

By JOE NELSON | jnelson@scng.com and SCOTT SCHWEBKE | sschwebke@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
PUBLISHED: October 5, 2021 at 4:11 p.m. | UPDATED: October 6, 2021 at 6:58 a.m.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco was a dues-paying member of the Oath Keepers in 2014, an affiliation he acknowledges and makes no apologies for despite the group’s reputation as a militia of anti-government extremists.

Members of the Oath Keepers allegedly played a key role in the storming of the nation’s Capitol during the “Stop the Steal” rally in January. Bianco, however, defended the group as a pro-Constitution, pro-freedom organization mislabeled by the FBI and mainstream media.

Bianco’s one-time membership — along with the memberships of roughly 40,000 others including current and former law enforcement and military personnel nationwide — was exposed after hackers breached the Oath Keepers’ website and mined its data.

The information was made available to the media by Distributed Denial of Secrets, also known as DDoSecrets, a subversive whistleblower group founded in 2018. Its members use cloak-and-dagger monikers such as The Lorax and The Architect and secure web browsers so information can be disseminated anonymously. The group has been described as an offshoot of Wikileaks.

Bianco’s involvement was first made public Monday in a Tweet by JJ MacNab, a research fellow and expert on extremist organizations at George Washington University who has been tracking Oath Keepers since their formation in 2009 and, more recently, Bianco’s activities. She said Bianco popped up on her radar when she heard him describe himself as “the last line of defense from tyrannical government overreach” on his podcast, RSO Roundup.

“When there’s enough red flags, I start paying attention,” MacNab said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Political lightning rod

Bianco, who was elected sheriff of Riverside County in 2018, has earned fierce criticism from the left but high praise from his conservative supporters for his strident positions. He has been an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, mask mandates and business restrictions since the pandemic forced statewide business closures in March 2020.

Last month, he said he would not require Sheriff’s Department employees or job applicants to be vaccinated against COVID-19 despite a state public health order mandating vaccinations or regular coronavirus testing for those working in jails.

In a telephone interview with the Southern California News Group, Bianco said he forgot all about his affiliation with Oath Keepers until the data breach of its website and publicity surrounding his involvement with the organization jarred his memory.

“I found an email from 2014 where I joined for a year. I don’t even remember it. It was an email saying, ‘Thank you for joining.’ I paid for a year’s membership,” he said in the interview.

Bianco believes he was made aware of Oath Keepers by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), another organization he was affiliated with at the time and signed on as a member.

MacNab said the CSPOA is another anti-government fringe group. “They’re probably even more contentious than the Oath Keepers, but they’re relatively small,” she said. The group believes county sheriffs are the most powerful law enforcement offices in the country, outranking state and federal law enforcement, and have the authority to disregard any laws they deem unconstitutional, MacNab said.

She said Bianco, who was a lieutenant at the Sheriff’s Department when he joined Oath Keepers in 2014, signed up at time when it was “growing by leaps and bounds” and gaining widespread media attention. Oath Keepers, MacNab said, were involved in the standoff at Bundy Ranch in Nevada in the spring of 2014 and the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, in August the same year, following the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.

Officials at Oath Keepers did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

‘Not ashamed’

Bianco has been steadfast in holding his ground.

“I’m not ashamed of what I did in 2014,” Bianco said, adding that he had nothing to do with the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “I have been vocally against what happened there. What they did — the few that went into the building — was completely wrong and against the law and they should be held accountable for it.”

He said the misguided and illegal actions of several individual members of Oath Keepers does not justify the mainstream media and FBI painting the whole group as an “anti-government militia.” He said members of far-left militant organizations like antifa and Black Lives Matter have committed acts of violence and vandalism, with far less attention paid by the media and the FBI.

“Why was this not done with antifa and Black Lives Matter?” Bianco said. “I lost faith in the FBI a long time ago. The line workers are first rate. Their administration has no business carrying a badge. They strayed from nonbiased law enforcement a long time ago.”

‘Of monumental significance’

Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor and director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, called Bianco’s affiliation with Oath Keepers of “monumental significance.”

“This is the highest ranking law enforcement executive among the largest agencies to be tied to this militant insurrectionist group,” Levin said.

As for Bianco’s comments about antifa and Black Lives Matter, Levin said that while the violent hard left has indeed become increasingly active in recent years, the overwhelming majority of extremist plots and homicides in the United States over the last decade have come from far-right, anti-government extremists.

As to Bianco’s comments about the FBI, Levin said, “Someone who leads a department that serves the 10th largest county in the nation, yet reported no hate crimes in 2020, the worst year nationally since 2001, would perhaps do better with assessing the efficiency of his own agency, rather than firing imaginary barbs at my colleagues in the bureau.”

Bianco’s statements so incensed Levin that he resigned Tuesday from the Inland Empire Terrorism Early Warning Group, which includes the Riverside County and San Bernardino County sheriff’s departments. Levin, a former New York City police officer, was a member for more than 15 years. The group, composed of civilians and law enforcement officials, coordinates regional planned responses to terrorist attacks.

Although Levin said he has not been active in the group for years, he said he will no longer remain a member while Bianco is sheriff in Riverside County.

Anaheim sergeant listed

Another name appearing on the leaked Oath Keepers membership list is that of Anaheim police Sgt. Michael Lynch, a nearly 30-year veteran of the department. Lynch’s LinkedIn profile says he is a supervisor in the agency’s Investigations Division.

“I have experience in vice and narcotics enforcement and was a supervisor in community policing, patrol and SWAT,” his profile says. “From 1992-2006 I had assignments in patrol, field training officer, gang detail, crime task force and tourist oriented policing. I was promoted to sergeant in 2006.”

Lynch declined to comment Wednesday whether he remains affiliated with the Oath Keepers. However, he told USA Today last week that he joined the Oath Keepers many years ago, but didn’t renew his membership when he learned more about the group.

“I didn’t get anything out of it,” he said in an interview with the newspaper. “There was no local chapter or anything, so when it came time to renew, I was like, I’m not sending another $40.”

An internal affairs investigation has been launched into Lynch’s Oath Keepers membership, said Sgt. Shane Carringer, a spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department.

“We have policies that address off-duty conduct and behavior, but at the same time officers have constitutional rights the same as any citizen,” he said Wednesday. “All we have right now are allegations of membership in the Oath Keepers. Information also conflicts about the purpose of the organization from then (when Lynch joined) until now.”

Oath Keepers arrested in siege

In the nine months since since the siege at the U.S. Capitol, more than 600 people nationwide have been arrested for crimes related to the breach, including at least 185 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. Roughly 20 people identified as members of Oath Keepers were involved, authorities say.

Last month, Oath Keepers member Jason Dolan, 45, of Wellington, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official for his role in the breach, making him the third Oath Keeper to be convicted in the federal prosecution.

Dolan, according to the FBI, conspired with fellow members to bring firearms to the event, including an M4 rifle, which Donland dropped off with at least one of his co-conspirators at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

Bianco said that, to him, Oath Keepers is a group that supports and stands by the oath he took as a peace officer and sheriff — to defend the constitutions of the United States and California and to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

“In today’s politically toxic environment,” he said, “if you support the Constitution of the United States of America you are evil — you’re branded as some evil, right-wing conspirator.”

Staff writers Tony Saavedra and Nikie Johnson contributed to this report.

Filed under Politics | October 6, 2021 at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)