Tag Archives: The Guardian

Stop the Mass Shootings!

rainbow flag candleBy Roger Straw, June 12, 2016
UPDATE – mass shooting in Orlando FL
This Michael Moore tweet says it all:

Here is the latest sad mass shooting statistic from The Guardian (6/14/2016):

Guardian_mass-shootings_2016-06-14


Previously (October 7, 2015): 
I will take a brief time out … again … from my reporting on crude by rail to raise the awful issue of gun control and the almost daily occurrence of mass shootings in the United States.  (Mass shooting is defined as four or more people shot in an event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period).   See below.

– Roger Straw, Editor, The Benicia Independent

IMPORTANT: The Guardian’s report, “994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: this is what America’s gun crisis looks like,” is a shocking visual representation of the almost daily mass shootings in the U.S.

The Guardian article is based on statistics gathered by Mass Shooting Tracker.  The current page on Mass Shooting Tracker shows three more mass shootings on the day after the college campus shooting in Roseburg, Oregon:

  • 10/2/2015 – 1 dead, 4 wounded in Baltimore, MD
  • 10/2/2015 – 3 dead, 1 wounded in Inglis, FL
  • 10/2/2015 – 1 dead, 4 wounded, again in Baltimore, MD

Your news media simply CAN’T KEEP UP with the flood of mass shootings.  So far in 2015, (on October 7, the 280th day of the year) 379 have been killed in mass shootings, and 1094 have been shot and survived.  Who knew, you might ask?  Well, survivors, for sure.  Their lives will never be the same.  Nor will those of families, friends and neighbors of those who are killed or injured in these mass shootings.

LOCAL:  Note this story from last week about the gunshot slaying of a local family: 16-year-old Benicia boy suspect in his family slaying.


FROM BENINDY ARCHIVES…
For a short time in May 2013, not long after the Sandyhook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Massachusetts, the Benicia Independent’s “single-issue focus” was on gun control.  At that time, I linked to a series of stories showing that the issue extends to our small town of Benicia.  (See archive copy below.)  

Gun Violence is a problem in Benicia

Gun violence is in fact a BENICIA problem … it is time to take action in EVERY city and town. Here are 21 links to Benicia Herald reports of gun violations in Benicia April, 2010 to May 16, 2013.

BREAKING: Armed Liberty High student accused of threatening classmate

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter
Benicia police arrested a 17-year-old Liberty High School student they said made threats Wednesday to kill a classmate, and Thursday brought a gun to campus, Lt. Frank Hartig said. The youth’s identity was not disclosed, but he was accused of felony counts of terrorist threats and possessing a firearm on school grounds, as well as misdemeanor accusations of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number; of being a minor in possession of ammunition; possession of an assault weapon; and being a minor in possession of a concealed firearm, Hartig said.
May 16, 2013

County youth homicide rate on the rise
Solano ranks 6th in California

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Solano County has been ranked sixth among California counties in youth and young adult homicides, said Marty Langley, policy analyst for the the Violence Policy Center, Washington, D.C. San Joaquin County topped the list that is based on 2011 statistics, and several counties reported no homicides among those 10 to 24, the age range that is the focus of the center’s report.
March 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

Police search reveals drugs, ‘suspected Molotov cocktail’
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Benicia police arrested a Benicia man early Monday in the Solano County Square parking lot after a police dog detected drugs in the vicinity of the man’s car. A search turned up drugs, weapons and a suspected incendiary device, Lt. Frank Hartig said Tuesday afternoon.
December 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Man sought in Benicia robbery dies in standoff Police: After chase to Treasure Island, Duncan Phillips shot himself
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A man sought by Benicia police in the Thanksgiving Day armed robbery of one woman and theft of another women’s car died early Tuesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot after a lengthy standoff on Treasure Island, San Francisco police said. Duncan Phillips, 29, had been the subject of a Benicia police search after he was suspected of attacking and robbing a 52-year-old woman at her apartment on the 900 block of Southampton Road, Lt. Frank Hartig said.
November 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Armed robbery at Fast and Easy Mart
Staff Report

Fast and Easy Mart, 1500 East Fifth Street, was held up Thursday night by armed robbers, police said. The lone clerk described the four assailants as African-American men in the 20s or 30s, wearing dark-colored bandanas over their mouths, police said.
August 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

Held in county lockup, suspect charged with attempted murder of police officer 
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

The 22-year-old American Canyon man identified as the suspect who exchanged gunfire with a Benicia police officer Saturday afternoon remained in Solano County Jail, Fairfield, after his arrest Sunday morning in Vallejo, authorities said Monday. Robert Flores Folster was arrested by Benicia police with help from Vallejo police at 1324 Lincoln Road East in Vallejo on Sunday morning, according to Lt. Mike Greene and Solano County Jail records. Folster has been booked on charges of burglary, endangerment of a child that could result in injury or death, attempted murder, carjacking, receiving stolen property and vehicle theft, according to jail records. All are felony charges. While bail of $1,050,000 was set for the first three charges, Folster is being held without bail on the latter three.
July 17, 2012 at 8:08 am

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A 17-year-old Benicia driver who ran a stop sign late Thursday was arrested on weapons and drug charges and was taken to Solano County Juvenile Hall in Fairfield, Lt. Frank Hartig said Friday. Read the rest of this entry »
July 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm

BREAKING: Man robs 7-11 at gunpoint

with 2 comments
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A convenience store clerk was robbed at gunpoint early Tuesday, and the suspect not only demanded money from the register’ but the clerk’s wallet as well, Benicia police Lt. Frank Hartig said.
The robber escaped on foot, and the clerk was not harmed, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
June 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Police say Rio Vista man had 2 concealed guns

with 2 comments
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A Rio Vista man has been jailed after Benicia police accused him of two firearms violations following a traffic stop in a residential area. Read the rest of this entry »
May 25, 2012 at 5:54 am

Gunshots in Benicia lead to charge of endangerment

with one comment
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Benicia Police arrested a 20-year-old Napa man early Wednesday and accused him of endangering a child when he negligently fired a revolver from his car while he on the 1300 block of Southampton Road, Lt. Frank Hartig said. Read the rest of this entry »
May 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

BREAKING: Armed gunman holds up Benicia business

with 43 comments
Staff Report
Benicia police said an armed robber entered a Southampton business Thursday afternoon and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash.
No one was injured in the holdup at Check Into Cash, 806 Southampton Road, police said. Read the rest of this entry »

with 5 comments

SOME of the 59 guns police confiscated from a Benicia resident Thursday, including a 9mm UZI.
Courtesy BPD
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A 49-year-old Benicia man has been arrested and a cache of guns, including an illegal 9 mm UZI assault weapon, were confiscated after Benicia police looked into reports Thursday that the man had been harassing a 20-year-old Martinez woman, Lt. Mike Daley said. Read the rest of this entry »
October 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Police arrest parolee on weapons charges
Staff Report

Benicia police on Friday arrested a Magalia, Calif., man after finding a handgun and tools commonly used for car theft in his possession. Police Sgt. John Daley stopped a 1994 Acura on the 900 block of Cambridge Drive at about 6:24 a.m. for an expired registration. After the stop police determined that the passenger, Brad Stancliff, 23, had a felony warrant for his arrest from the California Department of Corrections, according to a Benicia Police Department news release.
April 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Police: Man aimed gun at roommate

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A 28-year-old Benicia man who police said pointed a handgun at his roommate’s forehead Tuesday evening was arrested and charged with a felony.
Lt. Mike Daley said the 34-year-old roommate called police and said the man had pointed the gun at him about 6:46 p.m. after they had been arguing. Read the rest of this entry »
March 17, 2011 at 5:31 am

Absent plate leads to weapons, drug arrest
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

The occupants of a Ford Thunderbird missing its rear license plate were arrested Tuesday night and charged with weapons and drug violations, Benicia police Lt. Mike Daley said Wednesday. Benicia K-9 Officer Damiean Sylvester noticed the Thunderbird was missing its plate and stopped the vehicle on East Fifth Street at the eastbound Interstate 780 on-ramp, Daley said. Sylvester spoke with the driver and passenger and discovered each had some prescription medicine but no prescriptions, Daley said. The passenger also had a substance police believe is methamphetamine, he said.
March 10, 2011 at 1:32 am

Lone gunman robs store in Southampton

By Marc Ethier
Editor

“Friday the 13th” it was not, but a lone gunman wearing a mask popularized by the horror film series was deadly serious Wednesday when he entered a Southampton Shopping Center store.
The gunman entered GameStop, 821 Southampton Road, at 9:54 p.m. wearing a white hockey mask, according to a Benicia police report. He brandished but did not point a black, semi-automatic-type handgun and demanded cash, then escaped with an undisclosed amount, police said. Read the rest of this entry »
December 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Police: Benicia man hospitalized with apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

A Benicia man was taken to an area hospital early Monday after police found him wounded by a gun he may have fired himself.
The man was listed in critical but stable condition at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek later that day, Lt. Bob Oettinger said. Read the rest of this entry »
December 20, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Gunpoint robbery at Homecoming

with 3 comments
“One suspect pulled a black, semiautomatic gun and stuck it into the stomach of one of the victims.” — Benicia police Sgt. Scott Przekurat 
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Two 14-year-old Benicia High School students were robbed at gunpoint by four teenagers Friday night after the school’s homecoming game, Benicia police said Monday.
A school administrator appeared shortly after the four robbed the two boys of their wallets, cell phones and a small amount of money, prompting the robbers to scatter, said Sgt. Scott C. Przekurat of the department’s investigations unit.
The victims were walking through the campus after the game and had entered an outside hallway along the school’s A Wing at about 11 p.m. when they were approached by the four robbers, all described as wearing dark sweaters or jackets, dark pants, and flat-billed ball caps, Przekurat said. Read the rest of this entry »
October 18, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Gunshots spur school lockdown

❒ None hurt; police arrest 4 in drive-by 
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Robert Semple Elementary School was placed on lockdown about 2:30 p.m. Thursday while authorities searched the area for gunmen who apparently were stalking a Benicia man and his girlfriend.
Vincent Winnie, a 22-year-old Vallejo man, and three others were arrested by Benicia police at the Interstate 780-Interstate 80 interchange, Lt. Mike Daley said. They were still being processed by police at press time.
The incident started before 1 p.m. when police received multiple calls of a possible drive-by shooting at the first block of La Prenda Avenue, Daley said. Read the rest of this entry »
October 1, 2010 at 12:32 am

BENICIA POLICE Lt. Mike Daley.
Herald file photo
❒ None injured in 2 incidents last week
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Benicia police are asking residents to help them solve two incidents involving gunfire that occurred four days apart, Lt. Mike Daley said Wednesday.
The first report was of shots fired on the 400 block of East L Street about 8:10 p.m. on June 29, Daley said. Read the rest of this entry »
July 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Autopsy confirms Benicians’ deaths came by gunshot

By Donna Beth Weilenman
Staff Reporter

Autopsies performed Wednesday on the two Benicia residents who died in an apparent murder-suicide confirmed that Walter Little, 48, and his girlfriend, Julie Strack, 49, both died of gunshot wounds, Solano County Deputy Sheriff Corey McLean said.
Little, of 69 Vista Grande, died of an intraoral gunshot wound while Strack, of the same address, died of two wounds, one to the head and one to the neck, McLean said. Read the rest of this entry »
April 17, 2010 at 12:11 am

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    Bill Gates gives Exxon cover: The Gates Foundation is deadly wrong on climate change, fossil fuels

    Repost from Salon.com
    [Editor:  Significant quote: “To Bill Gates’ credit he got the equation partly right, when he said that ‘the solution is investment’ in clean energy – a statement he backed up by committing to invest $2 billion in clean energy. However…”  – RS]

    Bill Gates gives Exxon cover: The Gates Foundation is deadly wrong on climate change, fossil fuels

    When Exxon shares your view, time to reconsider. Bill Gates has divestment, clean energy and fossil fuels wrong

    By Alex Lenferna, Nov 7, 2015 08:59 AM PST
    Bill Gates gives Exxon cover: The Gates Foundation is deadly wrong on climate change, fossil fuels
    (Credit: Reuters/Pearl Gabel)

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation, has been under an unprecedented amount of scrutiny regarding their investments in the fossil fuel industry lately.

    Alongside a persistent and growing local Seattle-based campaign, about a quarter of a million people joined the Guardian in calling on the Foundation to join the $2.6 trillion worth of investors who have committed to divest from fossil fuels.

    In response, Bill Gates has proffered two public rejections of fossil fuel divestment, the most recent in a lengthy interview on climate change in this month’s edition of the Atlantic. Both rejections were based on misleading accounts of divestment which created straw men of the divestment movement, and downplayed the remarkable prospects for a clean energy revolution.

    Activists (and kayaktivists alike) were quick to point out the flaws in Gates’ argument and to highlight that by not divesting Gates is supporting the very industries that are lobbying against climate progress and whose business models are deeply out of line with averting the climate crisis. A disconcerting example of this came when Exxon Mobil endorsed Bill Gates’ view. They did so, furthermore, as part of an article attempting to deny their culpability for intentionally misleading the public about the reality of human-caused climate change, and by extension the risks of its product. Like Big Tobacco before them, Exxon are facing calls for federal investigation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by no less than Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and more. In order to try and vindicate themselves and justify their deeply problematic position on climate change, Exxon turned to Gates’ views as support.

    Gates’ problematic statements remain the only response a representative of the foundation has given, and for a foundation dedicated to a better world, sharing worldviews on climate change with a corporation implicated in one of the more egregious corporate scandals arguably in human history seems like a poor position to be in.

    Thus, while the Gates Foundation has, of course, done much good work, such a response to divestment and framing of the climate change issue should lead us to question the intentions and motivations behind Bill Gates, the Foundation and its leaders.

    For instance, Warren Buffett, who owns much fossil fuel infrastructure, is the largest donor to the Gates Foundation, with donations of over $31 billion. What role does this play in the Foundation’s unwillingness to divest? Also, does Bill Gates’ chairman role on TerraPower, a nuclear power company, make him more willing to knock down clean energy in order to position TerraPower and their nuclear reactors favorably in the market? After all, the Atlantic interview in which Gates rejected divestment read almost like an advert for TerraPower.

    Divest-Invest: Two Sides of the Same Coin

    To Bill Gates’ credit he got the equation partly right, when he said that “the solution is investment” in clean energy – a statement he backed up by committing to invest $2 billion in clean energy. However, clean energy investments are only part of the equation; if we are to solve climate change, we also need to wind down investments in the fossil fuel industry and related infrastructure, while breaking the fossil fuel industry’s corrupting stranglehold on politics so that we can unlock the sorts of policies, societal changes and investments needed to tackle the climate crisis.

    While Gates claims that divestment is a “false solution” that “won’t emit less carbon” and that there is no “direct path between divesting and solving climate change,” the 2° Investing Initiative (and the International Energy Agency) point out that “divesting from fossil fuels is an integral piece to aligning the financial sector with a 2°C climate scenario,” with reductions in fossil fuel investments of $4.9 trillion and additional divestment away from fossil-fueled power transmission and distribution of $1.2 trillion needed by 2035 if we are to achieve the internationally agreed upon 2°C target.

    It seems that even Peabody, the largest private-sector coal company in the world, has a more enlightened view on divestment than Bill Gates. Peabody have recognized that by shifting perceptions around fossil fuels and spurring on legislation, divestment efforts “could significantly affect demand for [their] products and securities.” Peabody’s conclusion aligns closely with that of the researchers at Oxford University’s Stranded Assets Program, whose influential report on divestment illustrates that the political and social power that divestment builds through stigmatizing the fossil fuel industry could also “indirectly influence all investors… to go underweight on fossil fuel stocks and debt in their portfolios.”

    Contradicting Bill Gates’ claim that divestment “won’t emit less carbon,” the “radical” environmentalists over at HSBC bank recently issued a research report showing that divestment could lead to less fossil fuel production and less carbon emissions. According to HSBC, divestment could help “extend the carbon budget” by creating “less demand for shares and bonds, [which] ultimately increases the cost of capital to companies and limits the ability to finance expensive projects, which is particularly damaging in a sector where projects are inherently long term.”

    The “Miracle” of Clean Energy

    Gates also provided a misleading assessment of the economics of the clean energy transition (seemingly out of the pages of a fossil fuel industry misinformation handbook or his favored climate contrarian adviser Bjorn Lomborg). Gates claimed that the only way current technology could reduce global emissions is at “beyond astronomical cost,” such that a “miracle” on the level of the invention of the automobile was necessary to avoid a climate catastrophe.

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      FBI: Oil Trains At Risk of “Extremist” Attacks

      Repost from DeSmogBlog
      [Editor: DeSmog refers here to an October 2014 article by Curtis Tate of McClatchy News that first broke this story.  I regret that the Benicia Independent failed to take note of this important article back then.  I will add that I have mixed feelings about this report.  Folks my age are aware of a long history of rogue investigations by the FBI, and we’ve become understandably wary of government agencies that serve the needs of corporate interests.  Nonetheless, I fear that there are in fact real and horrendous risks of security attacks by unbalanced individuals on the left and the right – and abroad.  For me, this is only one more reason to ban oil trains.  – RS]

      FBI Advisory: Oil Trains At Risk of “Extremist” Attack, But Lacks “Specific Information” To Verify

      By Steve Horn, July 18, 2015 – 05:58
      First responders in Lac Megantic. Photo: Transportation Board of Canada.

      A documentmarked “Confidential” and published a year ago today, on July 18, 2014, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded that “environmental extremists” could target oil-by-rail routes, as first reported on by McClatchyBut the Bureau also concedes upfront that it lacks “specific information” verifying this hunch.

      Rail industry lobbying groups published the one-page FBI Private Sector Advisory as an exhibit to a jointly-submitted August 2014 comment sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT), which has proposed “bomb trains” regulations currently under review by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

      FBI Oil by Rail Advisory

      Image Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

      We’ve heard overtures like this one before from the FBI, other agencies and from industry players themselves.

      As reported here on DeSmog, the FBI worked alongside TransCanada to take photos and monitor Tar Sands Blockade-affiliated activists and other anti-Keystone XL pipeline activists back in 2012 and 2013. The Guardian, Bloomberg and Earth Island Journal have also recently published stories, based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, further confirming that the FBI worked closely alongside TransCanada to monitor and disrupt activists opposed to the pipeline.

      In August 2014, DeSmog also reported that in Maryland, rail company Norfolk Southern submitted a July 23, 2014 legal filing to the Maryland Department of the Environment citing Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in its attempt to justify keeping oil-by-rail routes a trade secret. Norfolk submitted that filing merely five days after the FBI published its Private Sector Advisory.

      And at a 2011 industry public relations conference in Houston, a communication manager at a major company involved in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale oil and gas told the audience his community affairs employees use psychological warfare (PSYOPs) techniques in local communities, while another compared fracking opponents to “insurgents” who should be fended off by PR campaigns modeled after counterinsurgency warfare.

      ISIS, AQAP, Bin Laden

      While Norfolk Southern cited Biden Laden and Al Qaeda in its affidavit, the FBI honed in on the Islamic State (IS), also sometimes referred to as the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL). It also mentioned Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — and Osama Bin Laden.

      Like Maryland, the rail industry lobbying groups cited the FBI Advisory as a way to argue against disclosing oil-by-rail routes to the public.

      “It is not just environmental extremists who pose a threat to the transportation of crude by rail.  Foreign terrorists are also a risk,” wrote the industry lobbying groups. “Two publications reportedly by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula contain threats against crude oil trains…Furthermore, information from Osama Bin Laden’s compound indicates that Al-Qaeda has contemplated attacks on trains.”

      Louis Warchot, an attorney for the Association of American Railroads, co-authored the comment submitted to DOT.

      Before working for the association, Warchot “served in the United States Armed Forces and retired in the rank of Colonel in the United States Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps.” On top of his law, business masters and undergraduate degrees from University of California-Berkeley, Warchot also has a masters from the U.S. Army War College in Strategic Studies.

      “Extremism” or Peaceful Activism?

      In the FBI‘s advisory, it never uses the term “activist” or “advocate,” opting instead for the term “extremist.” So what does an “extremist” do and what exactly constitutes an extremist?

      “Environmental extremists,” explains the Bureau, “believe the use of fossil fuels contributes to the destruction of our environment and may believe that transport of crude oil creates the potential for environmental hazardous train derailments and oil spills.”

      It’s a definition that almost anyone who understands the science of climate change or is concerned about oil train explosions could fall under. The FBI then lays out what these “extremists” do.

      According to the FBI, they use social media to spread awareness of oil-by-rail routes (like sharing a link to the ForestEthics website “Oil Train Blast Zone”) and make or send “threatening” phone calls or emails to industry, contractors or others associated with moving crude by rail.

      “[T]actics to disrupt, obstruct or interrupt rail traffic to delay crude oil transportation” also makes the FBI cut, which is an activity that anti-coal activists sometimes take part in as a means of delaying coal trains.

      FBI Oil by Rail Advisory
      Image Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation

      “The FBI should be looking carefully at the imminent threat oil trains pose to millions of Americans living in the blast zone, but they should then turn their attention to the lax rules from the Department of Transportation and the oil and rail industry who fight common sense safety steps and hide train routes from emergency responders,” Ross Hammond, US Campaigns Director for ForestEthics, told DeSmog.

      Speaking of threats, perhaps the FBI should concern itself with the explosive oil-by-rail trains that pass underneath West Point and right next to nuclear missile launch sites, rather than things that fall under the purview of First Amendment-protected speech threatening to industry profits.

      *An earlier version of this article cited Chemical Security News as the first website to report on the FBI document. McClatchy DC was actually the first news outlet to report on the document’s existence as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation oil-by-rail rulemaking docket back in October 2014. We regret the error.

      Photo Credit: First responders in Lac Megantic via Transportation Board of Canada.

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