Snuff film

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“Snuff film”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A snuff film is a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation.”

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Did you know that “sharing” a video of a puppy or kitten getting its head cut off can get you seven years in the federal slammer? And that it was our own Elton Gallegly that helped get that bill passed?

“Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010”.

18 USC § 48 – Animal crush videos

(a) Definition.— In this section the term “animal crush video” means any photograph, motion-picture film, video or digital recording, or electronic image that—
(1) depicts actual conduct in which 1 or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 and including conduct that, if committed against a person and in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, would violate section 2241 or 2242); and
(2) is obscene.
(b) Prohibitions.—
(1) Creation of animal crush videos.— It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly create an animal crush video, if—
(A) the person intends or has reason to know that the animal crush video will be distributed in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce; or
(B) the animal crush video is distributed in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.
(2) Distribution of animal crush videos.— It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, market, advertise, exchange, or distribute an animal crush video in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.

(d) Penalty.— Any person who violates subsection (b) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 7 years, or both.

(e) Exceptions.—
(1) In general.— This section shall not apply with regard to any visual depiction of—
(A) customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices;
(B) the slaughter of animals for food; or
(C) hunting, trapping, or fishing.
(2) Good-faith distribution.— This section shall not apply to the good-faith distribution of an animal crush video to—
(A) a law enforcement agency; or
(B) a third party for the sole purpose of analysis to determine if referral to a law enforcement agency is appropriate.

[Note: Just being a member of law enforcement and sharing the crush video with your law enforcement buddies on social media is NOT an exception to prosecution]

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/48

From the The Feministe blog, I quote,

The New York Times describes ”Crush Porn” as follows (You have been warned!):

“A decade ago, Congress decided it was time to address what a House report called “a very specific sexual fetish.” There are people, it turns out, who take pleasure from watching videos of small animals being crushed.

“Much of the material featured women inflicting the torture with their bare feet or while wearing high-heeled shoes,” the report said. “In some video depictions, the woman’s voice can be heard talking to the animals in a kind of dominatrix patter. The cries and squeals of the animals, obviously in great pain, can also be heard in the videos.”

Congress went a step further and in 1999 outlawed the depiction of crushing, and most depictions of cruelty to animals, making crush-porn illegal.

Last month, the United States solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. “Depictions of the intentional infliction of suffering on vulnerable creatures,” the brief said, “play no essential role in the expression of ideas.” The First Amendment, the brief went on, is therefore irrelevant to the case.

Interestingly, most of the cases that have been brought under this law have depicted dog-fighting, not crush-porn. But crush porn essentially disappeared from the market after 1999; since a Third Circuit court ruled that the law banning animal cruelty videos is unconstitutional, the videos have sprung up again. To complicate things further, it doesn’t matter if the act was legal where it was filmed; the standard is that if the act of cruelty is illegal where the video is bought or sold, the law is being violated. So a video of bullfighting in Spain (or dog-fighting somewhere dog-fighting is legal) is illegal to sell in the United States.

Basically, the “crush” law places depictions of animal cruelty in the same category that we place depictions of child pornography, where we say that depictions of the crime have absolutely no free speech value; or alternately, where the potential for harm is so great that it justifies this kind of reach. Amy Adler, who I had as a professor at NYU, has written about the exceptionalism of child pornography laws extensively, and I’d recommend checking out her stuff for a deeper understanding of the constitutional issues involved here. The other legal scholars who the reporter speaks to also seem to think that the law will be struck down.”

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/01/06/crush-porn-and-free-speech/

And here is the link to the Congressional Report re “Crush Videos”

http://www.congress.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?sel=DOC&&item=&r_n=hr397.106&&&sid=cp106FWNRg&&refer=&&&db_id=cp106&&hd_count=&

There are challenges to the “Crush Video” law, as demonstrated recently by a ruling in Texas.

“Torturing animals and filming their painful deaths is an activity protected by the U.S. Constitution, according to a federal judge in Texas.

In an opinion issued this week, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake tossed out charges against a Houston couple accused of violating the federal “animal crush video” statute. Lake wrote that the law “abridges the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.”

Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice allegedly created and distributed violent sex fetish videos — animal snuff films — that depicted the torture of puppies, kittens, rabbits, and other animals.

In one of the videos, Richards was seen torturing a pit bull puppy. According to the Houston Chronicle, Richards bound the puppy’s mouth with tape, cut its back leg with a meat cleaver, slit its throat and severed the dog’s head from its body.

Other videos purportedly show Richards crushing crawfish, crabs and lobsters under her bare feet or stilettos.”
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/Judge_Animal_snuff_films_protected_by_1st_Amendment.html

And not withstanding that one judge’s ruling in Texas, the Crush Video law still remains the law of the land everywhere else in the nation.

So, the question of the day remains,

IF IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHARE ANIMAL CRUSH SNUFF VIDEOS, WHY IS IT NOT ILLEGAL TO SHARE HUMAN MURDER SNUFF VIDEOS???

Riddle me that, Batman

“Snuff film”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A snuff film is a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation.”

I Still Like Mike Judge

I hear the news vans have been to City Hall today regarding the recent news about Councilmember Mike Judge.  Honestly, that bothers me.  Here’s why:

I see Mike Judge as an important symbol in our community. It seemed the odds were against him when he first ran for City Council, but his numbers were pretty decent.  He gave Barbra Williamson a run for her money, but she still retook her seat.  The next time around, he firmly landed a seat on the Council.  He did that without the business accolades and awards.  He did that without the community connections and big dollar donors.  He did that without the support of sitting Council members.  For me, it was an exciting milestone.  It was sad to see Michelle Foster leave, but exciting to see a guy that we could all relate to be victorious.  His campaign style and general demeanor were very appealing to me from the very beginning.  I liked seeing him win.  I’d like him to stick around.

To Mike Judge: we’ve all made errors in judgment over the years ever since email gained traction as a main stream form of communication.  When you can share content with a ton of people by a simple click of a button, bad things are bound to slip out.  Own it.  Accept accountability and apologize.  You have a lot of supporters, and those who are troubled by this can forget about it and let it go if they know it won’t happen again. Your First Amendment rights are a true privilege that you value, I understand.  But a few people and the media are concerned.  So commit to not doing it again.

To Mike Judge’s advisors: thanks for sticking by him during a tough time. But if you’ve got an agenda to protect and you’re not publicly defending him, then you’re not doing anyone any favors.  You know who you are.

Mike Judge is a solid person who I respect as an individual and as a Councilmember.  I’d like to see this blow over really soon.  Let’s move on with a little assurance from Mike that this isn’t a concern moving forward.  It’s time to get back to business, folks!

Full Audio – December 4 Tapo Street Grant Meeting

Today, I received a lawsuit threat from Ted Mackel for posting the article referencing the timeline of events related to the Tapo Street renovation grant dispute. Check back later for the screen capture of the lawsuit threat letter that was delivered via Facebook. This is important to note because it explains why the article was edited shortly after it was published.

For clarification and full disclosure, I’m providing a full, unedited segment of audio. The video embedded below is the full audio of the meeting that took place at City Hall on December 4, 2012, between city officials and a group of citizens. It is over an hour long, but I encourage you to listen to it in full so that you can draw your own conclusions.

For your own copy of the audio CD of the meeting, write to City Clerk, City of Simi Valley, 2929 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley, CA 93063, and request a CD of the meeting between Doug Crosse and the City Manager held on December 4, 2012, pursuant to the California Public Record Act. Give the City at least 10 days to respond.

(Mitch Green has provided a cliff notes summary of the meeting dialogue which can be found here.)

Grand Jury Tea Party Meeting – Audio Review

It’s a certainty that the next City Council meeting will involve several public statements regarding a grand jury complaint filed by Doug Crosse of the Simi Valley Tea Party regarding an accusation of inappropriate handling of a project in relation to the Tapo Street Facade Renovation program. I’ve received requests to post commentary on this subject but haven’t because I do not have all the data. For people interested in learning more, listen to the highlights below and consider attending the City Council meeting on Monday, October 29th.

Regarding the audio, note that Penal Code 623, which pertains to unauthorized recordings, has an exception for public meetings, sub (c ). The meeting was announced on Facebook as a Tea Party meeting, press conference and public information session.

In the embedded audio below, Doug Crosse discusses the nature of the grand jury complaint and what compelled those who helped him to get involved. At this meeting, it sounds like hard copies were shared with those who were interested.

In the audio below, Doug Crosse indicates that he hopes for Council Member support on the issue, suggests that the issue could impact who people choose to vote for in the upcoming election and Council Candidate Eric Halub offers commentary.

In the audio below, the position on the issue is clarified, Doug Crosse expresses his desire to have this handled as a Tea Party matter, discusses the importance of the timing of the issue, and the issue is approved as a Tea Party matter.

To hear the highlights above in context, the complete audio is available below. It is over an hour in length:

Again, I have no inside knowledge of the program (which is now officially a dead program with the loss of the CDA), but I believe Council Members are involved in the application process only. Once an application is approved, the management of the process from beginning to end is handled by the Assistant City Manager’s office. I could be wrong, but that was my understanding.

Lastly, I do have concerns that a legitimate business will have its name dragged through the mud over an issue that might be politically charged. In the audio, Doug Crosse mentions doing research on the business from “both counties” (the business has multiple locations), suggesting he’s researching deeply into the business rather than just the business’s participation in the renovation program. The business owner was an outspoken critic against Crosse during his brief campaign for City Council.

I can’t offer a whole lot beyond that and really encourage those concerned to attend the next City Council meeting. I would like clarity and assurance, and I hope we can get it without smearing a good business in Simi Valley.

Huber’s 20 Point Plan

Doug Crosse is an outspoken Simi Valley community leader and former candidate for Simi Valley City Council. As he gets acclimated to the social media world, it’s evident that he has a lot to say about Simi Valley issues. Earlier today, he emailed me an article regarding Mayor Huber’s 20 point plan for Simi Valley. What follows is an excerpt and a link to the full article.

Since the deep recession of the early 1990s triggered by post-Cold War defense cuts, Simi Valley has evolved from industrial center to bedroom community to small-business hub.

Now, Mayor Bob Huber wants to reinvent the city as what you might call Simi Valley 4.0, combining the best parts of its past but bringing more of a startup and tech culture to the region’s second-largest city. He took the wraps off his vision in an Economic Strategic Plan that was presented to City Council on Aug. 13.

The 20-point plan includes developing an online permit process to automate and speed simple projects for homeowners, contractors and small businesses. He also wants to borrow some ideas from San Diego County, which pioneered a concierge style approach to helping property owners and developers navigate the permit process with a one-stop-shopping approach.

Read this article in its entirety by clicking here. Thanks to Doug Crosse for providing the details.

Heroin in Schools?

Is heroin use in Simi Valley a problem that starts in our schools?  If you believe it is, then you may be inspired to pay attention to this year’s local elections.

Dan White is running for Simi Valley School Board and communicated openly to the Heroin Task Force members his thoughts on the subject last week, as well as his thoughts on the strength and accuracy of the draft report that was being circulated among the members before the presentation to the City.  Here is a small sample of that communication:

In this 52 second video excerpt from the June SVUSD School Board meeting, we hear School Board President DiFatta’s summary of the activities of the Task Force.

Transcribed, her words are as follows:

“… it has been fairly consistent when we look at any of the data – from any source – that we are targeting that – or should be looking at that 19 to 25 year old age group – that seems to be where we want to focus. That seems to be where we want to focus much energy with regard to the heroin use … in this community anyway. And so the thought was that working with our local community college would be a good idea because that is where that segment of the population might be.”

I do not share Ms. Difatta’s conclusions. Instead, I believe that the public comments provided ample evidence that focus needs to be placed on the schools.  What she is saying is that the public comments from our citizens do not constitute “evidence”.

I also believe the draft report circulated last Friday to Task Force members has obviously been influenced by SVUSD leaders. The report circulated Friday has 4 pages describing all the wonderful things the SVUSD has been doing and will continue to do per the recommendations of the task force. It states that many of the new “recommendations” refer to continuation of the “same successful programs already ongoing”.   In the preparation of the official draft report, the recommendations appear to have been changed between the evaluation spreadsheet and the published report. The modified version of recommendations in the report states that “All Agencies” are responsible for a drug education program. However in the evaluation spreadsheets circulated to task force members the week prior, the SVUSD was listed as the responsible agency.

The report circulated Friday is not the right report.  The report that more accurately presents the information is attached to this e-mail.

To view the report proposed by Dan White, click here.

Final Draft of Expansion EIR Complete

VENTURA COUNTY PLANNING DIVISION’S FINAL DRAFT OF ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT COMPLETE

January 28, 2011, Simi Valley, Calif. – The Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center (SVLRC) announced today that the Ventura County’s Final Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is now complete and expected to go before the Planning Commission sometime in March.

Waste Management, as part of its commitment to complete transparency before, during and after the proposed modernization project, is continuing its efforts to keep the community informed about our project as much as possible.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of community transparency,” said Mike Smith, Director of Operations for Waste Management. “We are glad the final draft is complete and look forward to the next stage of the process.”

Copies of the final document can be obtained by the following:

* Visit the County’s website at http://www.ventura.org/rma/planning/ceqa/eir.html
* Reduce paper-get a CD copy by contacting WM’s Simi Valley Landfill & Recycling Center at 2801 Madera Road in Simi Valley. Contact Lisa Hemenway at 805-581-1746 or email Lhemenway1@wm.com.
* Visit WM’s website at http://www.keepingventuracountyclean.com/expansion.html

The SVLRC is not only responsible for employing more than 230 Ventura County residents, it also injects $48 million annually in to the Ventura County economy and is at the forefront of the green energy industry, powering over 2,500 homes with its landfill gas to energy (LGE) technology.

“We thank all our supporters for sticking with us and hope to garner even more support at the hearing, Smith said.

For more information on the project or to schedule a landfill tour, please contact Lisa Hemenway at (805) 581-1746 or email Lhemenway1@wm.com.

about waste management

Waste Management provides Ventura County with recycling, trash hauling and solid waste disposal through G.I. Industries and the Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center.  Waste Management has owned and operated G.I. Industries since 1998 and the SVLRC site since 1983 and employs more than 230 people in Ventura County. The SVLRC provides approximately 60% of Ventura County’s daily refuse disposal needs. The company operates a “green power” program at the site that generates enough power for 2,500 homes, and clean-burning LNG powers 48 of its trucks.  Waste Management is a significant contributor to area community groups. For more information visit our website: www.KeepingVenturaCountyClean.com.
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Chief Lewis Defends the SVPD

I’m used to taking the unpopular position, so I’ll go ahead and say this: I don’t believe the SVPD has done anything wrong in their handling of the Takasugi fraud case, the controversial criminal complaint regarding Mayor Huber’s former law associate. And these aren’t just my miscellaneous thoughts on the subject. I believe I have asked the right people the right questions to better understand the situation as well as the investigative process and required resources for such cases.

Even though I was on vacation last week, I was still tuned in enough to be thoroughly disappointed when the Ventura County Star decided to run another story on the SVPD where the City Council requests a third party investigation on their handling of the Takasugi case. The story shed no light on any new facts or information and seemed to only keep the topic fresh on the minds of Simi Valley readers. I wasn’t the only one who saw it this way.

Chief Mike Lewis has drafted a response to be published in the Ventura County Star. He lays out the facts regarding the timeline of events as well as the resources allocated to the investigation. Understandably, his frustration is evident regarding the story’s constant revival in our local paper.

When we’re not in the midst of an election cycle, I’m proud to say that I’m a supporter of our City Council. But I don’t always agree with every stand they take, either as a unified Council or individually. I hope that our City Council can let this issue rest for now and I think they really have since mentioning this issue several weeks back. Even better, I’d hope the Ventura County Star can ease up until there’s something new and relevant to report. There’s an awful lot we don’t know about how these cases are investigated, not to mention an even bigger issue regarding available resources and concerns about mandatory job rotations. Rather than open Pandora’s box, I propose we all rest easy and let this play itself out.

Here are Chief Mike Lewis’s thoughts on the matter:

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

For many weeks now, the 195 fine men and women of the Simi Valley Police Department have been maligned regarding the alleged delay of a complex fraud investigation.  Normally, our internal review and a subsequent request for an investigation (which was declined) by the District Attorney’s Office would be sufficient to quell any questions regarding the allegation of an inappropriate action, in this case the intentional delay in completing an investigation.  However, this particular issue seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I will not silently stand by while the integrity of my officers and support staff is continually impugned for questionable purposes.

A review of the facts are as follows:

Beate Kirmse, administrator for the estate of Oscar Muro, filed a criminal complaint on October 19, 2010, alleging attorney Russell Takasugi, embezzled funds from the estate of Mr. Muro.  This was 14 days before the recent City elections.  An article reporting this criminal complaint appeared in the Ventura County Star on October 25.  This was one week before the election.

When this complaint was filed, our lead expert economic crimes investigator was out of the office for an extensive training class to prepare him for a new position as the Department’s lead homicide investigator.  A law enforcement agency must constantly review its workload and allocate resources based upon priority of the type of investigation and our detectives’ current caseload.  Based upon this review, our Investigative Unit made the decision to wait until our lead investigator returned from training to assist a newer detective with the investigation of this particular case.  There were no exigent circumstances requiring immediate action such as the destruction of evidence.

Fraud and embezzlement cases are very complex and require hundreds of records, including bank statements and other types of documentation, which must be subpoenaed from banks, trusts, estate attorneys, etc., before a case may be presented to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Investigations of this nature typically take many months, even years, to complete based upon the complexity.  Only after an investigation is complete would there be any information released to the public.

We are now a full six weeks into this investigation, and it will probably take several more months to complete.  If I had put my entire Investigative Unit on this case when it was first received, there would have been nothing to report before the election and this investigation would still be ongoing.  As the head of this agency, it is my professional opinion, based upon knowing all of the facts, that the Department took the proper steps in an appropriate timeframe.  For some to suggest otherwise is nothing more than an attempt to keep this “story” in the news with unfounded claims of biased policing.

The constant rehashing of this story smacks of Police Department bashing.  In fact, much of this story is attributed to second hand comments reportedly made by a civil attorney during a probate hearing in Superior Court.  The repeated assertion that there is a “black cloud” over our Department comes from not knowing all of the facts and not allowing the City Manager to complete his review and report back to the City Council with his findings.  I have already stated my desire to have full transparency on this issue and once again pledge to the community of Simi Valley that a review is welcomed.

As the Chief of Police, I am proud to state that I stand with the investigators who are diligently working this investigation; unequivocally support their decisions made, and the Department’s handling of this case.  As with all of the calls for service we receive, this case will be handled with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism because this purported dark cloud truly has a silver lining composed of the 195 dedicated staff who make up the Simi Valley Police Department.

Mike Lewis, Chief of Police
Simi Valley Police Department

Williamson Resigns as Chair of Task Force

Barbra Williamson has officially resigned from the Simi Valley Landfill Expansion Task Force, according to this news release distributed this morning by the Task Force:

*** UPDATE: Barbra Williamson has resigned as Chair of the Task Force, but still remains a member of the group. ***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Resignation of Barbra Williamson, Chair of the Simi Valley Landfill Expansion Task Force

Simi Valley, CA (December 8, 2010) – Barbra Williamson announced today the resignation as Chair of the Simi Valley Landfill Expansion Task force effective immediately.

Citing the perception of a possible conflict of interest due to her recent appointment to the negotiating committee with Mayor Huber and City Manager Mike Sedell on discussions with Waste Management and the proposed landfill expansion, Williamson thought it best to step down.

SVLET member Louis Pandolfi will take over as acting chair.  “The Task Force has exceeded my greatest expectations and I know it will continue in its professional investigation of the impacts of the landfill expansion on the residents and businesses in our Community”, Williamson said.

“Task Force members will surely miss the leadership that Barbra has provided for over three years, during which she has worked tirelessly to protect Simi Valley from the negative environmental impacts that will result from the proposed landfill expansion”  said Charles Blaugrund Task Force Member. “We wish her success in her new assignment with Mayor Huber.”