FROM Paige St. John
Newly Uncovered Videos Reveal Anti-abortion Activist Tactics Anti-abortion activists were emboldened by undercover videos that appeared to show Planned Parenthood admitting to illegally selling fetal tissue. A dozen state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, and the people who made the videos have been indicted for fraud and and are facing civil lawsuits. The activists say they were simply acting as “investigative journalists,” but as a Los Angeles Times/UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program collaboration reports, newly uncovered videos reveal their tactics were more than simply investigative.
Is California’s Infrastructure Safe? Two years ago, Southern California Gas asked state officials to approve a rate hike . The gas company said it needed to increase rates to conduct safety inspections of existing natural gas wells. Wells in four storage fields were deteriorating -- including its Aliso Canyon facility near Porter Ranch. Of course, we all know what happened there. A massive gas leak led to the evacuation of thousands of residents before it was finally capped last month. The wells weren’t fixed. The gas company is still waiting on that rate increase request. So who’s to blame -- the gas company or the regulators? And which regulators? There is a maze of agencies that oversees our infrastructure, which is deteriorating. Can the public trust that state agencies are doing what they need to to protect Californians?
Giving the "SHU" the Boot? Today California is taking a step back from its use of one of the harshest measures in criminal justice -- unlimited solitary confinement for gang members and inmates who commit crimes while inside. Now as part of a landmark legal settlement the prison system will enforce strict limits on how long prisoners can spend in isolation, and who goes there in the first place. The lawsuit prompting this overhaul goes back to 2009, and two convicted killers serving time in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay Prison in Northern California. Todd Ashker and Danny Troxell were among 78 prisoners who'd been held in solitary housing units (SHUs) for more than 20 years. They said living in concrete "holes" -- as they called them -- for 23 hours a day with minimal human contact was tantamount to torture.
Prison Realignment and the Early Release of Jail Inmates Three years ago, the US Supreme court ruled that overcrowding in California’s prisons violated prisoners constitutional rights. The Brown Administration then instituted “realignment,” which means sending convicts for lesser crimes to county jails instead of state prisons. But there is no system of oversight—or even data collection—to determine the impact. So the LA Times conducted its own investigation .
Is Solitary Confinement 'Cruel and Unusual?' Pelican Bay is California's prison for the so-called "worst of the worst." In the state's northwest corner, it's designed for inmates called too dangerous to stay in the prison population. Some reportedly are kept in windowless cells for 22 hours a day — sometimes for more than a decade. This week, a federal judge agreed to make hundreds of current and former inmates part of a class action lawsuit claiming their treatment, solitary confinement, violates the US constitution.
California Prisons, Hunger Strikes and Overcrowding A federal court has forced California to reduce its prison population by diverting more low-level offenders to county jails. But the state still has 9,600 too many prisoners, and they need to be moved out of crowded prisons by the end of the year. That may force the state to release as many as 1,000 prisoners before they have completed their sentences. At the same time, there are still hundreds of prisoners on hunger strike in protest against the Department of Corrections' use of solitary confinement. Paige St John has been following both of these stories for the Los Angeles Times .
Can a Hunger Strike Force Changes in State Prisons? After months in the planning stage, 30,000 inmates in California prisons began refusing food on Monday in what they hope will come to be recognized by corrections department officials as another full-fledged hunger strike. One of the organizers of this week's action is Todd Ashker, who's recorded voice is on the website of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity group. Asker lives in a Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay up near the Oregon border – a windowless cells where he spends 22 and a half hours alone every day. He's been there for 27 years.
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
White House budget proposal slashes and burns President Trump's first budget request is considered dead on arrival in Congress — a familiar development in Capitol Hill. We hear what it reveals about the priorities of the new administration. What's likely to die… and what might survive?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.