Posts tagged with "California"

Two men charged with conspiracy to attack Democratic HQ in Sacramento

july 19, 2021

On July 16, federal authorities announced they had arrested two men in California who allegedly wanted to organize a movement to overthrow the government—and who had discussed blowing up the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento—in a new, major case of would-be domestic terrorists motivated by former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, CNN reports.

Five days before the presidential inauguration on January 20—which prosecutors believe was to be a key date in the planning of the attack—the Justice Department apprehended one of the men, who had amassed a large arsenal. Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, California, showed strong support for White supremacy and for Trump, and said in text messages he realized he would be labeled a domestic terrorist, according to Justice Department court filings.

A man Rogers communicated with, Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, California, was arrested in Sacramento this week, DOJ said.

According to CNN, court records citing extensive encrypted messages between Rogers and Copeland raise the alarm of how the men sought to inspire domestic terrorism toward Democrats—and how their anti-government motivations may still persist.

In January, Rogers had told Copeland, “I want to blow up a democrat building bad,” and Copeland responded in agreement, writing, “Plan attack.”

The pair discussed “war” after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Justice Department said. They also discussed attacking George Soros, a billionaire donor who supports liberal causes; and Twitter, which by then had removed Trump from the social media platform.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” newsletter.”I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn’t I will,” Rogers allegedly wrote.

The larger idea, the FBI and prosecutors say, was for Rogers to become violent near where he lived, to prompt others into similar actions nationwide, according to the court record.

Both men are charged with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce.

Rogers also faces weapons charges after investigators found 49 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs at his home and business in January, shortly after they discussed the plan but before January 20, according to court records. One of the guns, investigators noted, appeared to be a replica of a fully automatic machine gun that Nazi troops had used during World War II, according to a charging document for Rogers. Rogers told investigators after his arrest the pipe bombs were for “entertainment.”

Secret Service intel briefings ahead of January 6 concluded there was no indication of civil disobedience

Rogers and Copeland are currently being held in custody and have yet to be arraigned, and a federal prosecutor said Thursday they remain a threat. “All of the political and social conditions that motivated them to plan what they themselves described as a terrorist attack remain,” the prosecutor write in a court filing.

Rogers’ attorney declined to comment, and it was not immediately clear if Copeland had a lawyer. Copeland is due in court in San Francisco on July 20.

Prosecutors, national security officials and politicians have warned that after Trump and his allies ramped up his lies of a stolen election in November and after a mob of hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, their inflammatory rhetoric could lead to violence.

An FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism wrote in court about the messages, “I believe that these latter messages indicate Rogers’ belief that Trump (“45″) actually won the presidential election and should ‘go to war’ to ensure he remained in power.”

Prosecutors also say Rogers had written to Copeland months before, in November, that he wanted to “hit the enemy in the mouth” with homemade explosives attacking the Governor’s Mansion and the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento, according to DOJ.

Copeland had told Rogers he was in touch with an anti-government militia group and also had made contact with a militia leader after Rogers’ arrest, who advised him to delete his communications, which he allegedly did, the Justice Department also said.

In various searches, investigators found Copeland had rifles, a “go bag” with a helmet, elbow and knee pads, ammunition magazines and zip tie handcuffs, and anabolic steroids.

The zip ties, prosecutors say, were intended for the men’s plot. “The fact that he still had them six months later indicates that he still believed a situation would arise where he would need to take prisoners,” a Justice Department court filing said. “His sentiments are deeply felt and long-standing and reflect a belief that the government is illegitimate. He is not likely to obey rules imposed on him by someone he views as part of a tyrannical government.”

Prosecutors note that Copeland served in the military but had deserted in 2016 under an “other than honorable” discharge.

“It doesn’t matter for our purposes whether the steroids make Copeland more violent and aggressive, or he seeks out steroids because he tends to be more violent and aggressive. Either way, he is a greater danger to the community,” prosecutors noted about the steroids.

At first, CNN reports, Rogers’ idea was to use Molotov cocktails and gasoline, and his a “first target” of the governor’s mansion, because he believed it was empty and there would be no casualties. “Would send a message,” Rogers allegedly wrote to Copeland, according to the court record. “That’s the best target I think too,” Copeland responded.

Prosecutors say Rogers then decided to change the target to the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento. The two men allegedly made plans over the next two months, prosecutors say. The discussed pipe bombs and gallons of gasoline, among other violence at the building, according to their messages included in court records.

Research contact: @CNN

Capitol Police open offices in California, Florida to probe threats against members of Congress

July 7, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced on July 6 that the department is in the process of opening regional field offices in California and Florida to investigate threats to members of Congress, as part of enhanced security efforts in the wake of the Capitol insurrection last January 6, The Hill reports.

Capitol Police said in May that threats against members of Congress have more than doubled—increasing 107%— since last year.

“The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region,” Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.

She added, “The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.”

“It has been six months since rioters attacked the United States Capitol and our brave police officers and law enforcement partners who fought valiantly to protect elected leaders and the democratic process,”  Pittman said.

“We will never forget USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood, who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured,” Pittman added.

While more than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the FBI is still searching for some 300 subjects, including those involved with placing pipe bombs at each party’s national headquarters.

The department said it has been working to implement recommendations from multiple Juary 6 reviews, including those from the Government Accountability Office, the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General, and a House panel.

The various reviews found that the force was operating with aging equipment, failed to follow up on intelligence or widely distribute information to officers, and sidelined the Architect of the Capitol, one of its board members, from assisting with security planning.

Now, the force is expanding wellness services, with an emphasis on psychological trauma and stress; enhancing member protection; increasing training; and enhancing critical incident response training.

According to The Hill, the department also has purchased new helmets and batons for its forces, as well as shields, which its watchdog previously found were improperly stored and damaged.

What’s more, Pittman announced, the Capitol Police will increase its intelligence sharing with officers. “Externally, USCP leadership has increased intelligence sharing and collaboration between all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners; as well increased our partnership within the intelligence community and Congressional stakeholders.”

Research contact: @thehill

Move to tax ultra-rich Americans gathers steam, as states and Biden Administration float plans

Narch 17, 2021

Several states are unveiling new tax proposals—adding to a wave of interest in taxing ultra-rich Americans and corporations being led by the Biden Administration and Senate Democrats, reports YahooFinance.

Lawmakers in California are considering a tax on extreme wealth that would impose an annual excise tax of 1% on those who have wealth exceeding $50 million per taxpayer and a 1.5% tax on those with wealth above $1 billion. The tax would raise an estimated $22.3 billion starting in 2023.

New York and Washington State also are looking at new taxation targeting ultra-wealthy individuals, notes Yahoo.

“This is the way that we get back to a California where everybody has an opportunity, and I don’t know a single business leader or moderate who doesn’t believe in that,” Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said during a press conference on Tuesday, March 16. “It’s time to do something about it and quit bitching, quite honestly.”

On a national level, the Biden Administration and Democratic lawmakers are floating several different tax measures related to higher taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) recently reintroduced her proposal on taxing the ultra-rich.

“I know Senator Warren has put forward a wealth tax, and the president shares her view that middle-class families are paying more than their fair share and those at the top are not doing their part,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Monday, March 15. “Certainly he has that shared objective.”

The proposed wealth taxes in California and Washington State are similar to Warren’s plan and would impose an annual tax rate on income above certain thresholds.

“Since the start of the pandemic, billionaires have accumulated an additional $1.1 trillion in wealth,” Assembly Member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) said. “In order for California to really come back roaring, we need sizable investments in our communities… we’re proposing a modest 1% tax on households with net worths of over $15 million, and 1.5% on wealth over $1 billion.”

Critics of the wealth tax say it may be difficult to calculate and be enforced. The revenue generated might not be as much as expected while the costs of administering the tax could be higher than calculated.

“Taxing wealth is something we’ve never done in the United States and that most countries have not done,” Jared Walczak, the Tax Foundation’s vice president of state projects, told Yahoo Money. “They’re complex and they create a lot of economic harm because they’re paid on your assets — which often have to be liquidated to pay them.”

While wealth taxes reached their peak in OECD countries in the 1990s, the number of OECD countries that currently have a wealth tax dropped to five from 12 by 2019 because of the challenges those taxes create.

The proposed plan in New York—which includes raising income taxes, imposing new capital gains taxes, and increasing the estate tax among other measures — is similar to President Joe Biden’s campaign plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, require a true minimum tax of 21% on all foreign earnings on U.S. companies, raise the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% (the current maximum is 37%), and require those who make more than $1 million annually pay the same rate on investment income as they do on their wages.

Research contact: @YahooFinance

Chipotle to open its first digital-only restaurant: No dining room; just advance orders

November 12, 2020

Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the completion of its first-ever Chipotle digital-only restaurant called the Chipotle Digital Kitchen.

Located just outside of the gates to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the adjacent town of Highland Falls, New York, the restaurant will open this Saturday, November 14, for pick-up and delivery only, the company said in a release.

The new prototype will enable Chipotle to enter more urban areas that wouldn’t support a full-size restaurant and allows for flexibility with future locations.  It will not offer a dining room or front service line. Guest must order in advance via Chipotle.com, the Chipotle app, or third-party delivery partners for pick-up or delivery.

Orders can be picked up from a lobby that is designed to include all of the sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional Chipotle restaurant. The Digital Kitchen also will service large catering orders available for pick up in a separate lobby with its own dedicated entry.

“The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests,” said Chipotle CTO Curt Garner. “With digital sales tripling year over year last quarter, consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before so we’re constantly exploring new ways to enhance the experience for our guests.”

Chipotle’s new design concepts and menu innovation are envisioned at the company’s Cultivate Center in Irvine, California. Located minutes from Chipotle’s corporate headquarters, the new 22,000-square-foot facility features the same natural aesthetic with ecofriendly materials and designs found in Chipotle restaurants. To pay homage to its heritage, the original sign from the first Chipotle restaurant opened in 1993 in Denver, Colorado dons the entryway.

Research contact: @ChipotleTweets

In nine states nationwide, the wealthy are looking at a tax increase

September 28, 2020

Legislators in nine states—among them, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland—have renewed their efforts to hike taxes on high earners. The states are facing multibillion-dollar revenue shortfalls, due to the costs of the coronavirus pandemic; as well as lost revenue from shuttered businesses.

Indeed, Democratic lawmakers are arguing that the wealthy—who have largely have escaped the economic hardships of the pandemic—should pay more of the costs and help those who have suffered most, reports CNBC.

However, Republicans and some Democratic governors say tax hikes at the state level will only cause the wealthy to move to lower-tax states, such as Florida and Texas.

After New Jersey passed its “millionaire’s tax” last September— under which state residents who earn more than $1million per year will face higher income taxes, while 800,000 lower-income families will get a tax rebate—legislators in other states renewed similar efforts with greater vigor.

Along with New York, lawmakers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont have proposed various forms of tax increases on high earners, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Those states account for more than one-third of the U.S. population, and nearly half of the nation’s millionaires, according to population data and wealth surveys.

Research contact: @CNBC

Gallup: 66% of Americans still are ‘worried’ about COVID-19 exposure; 29% are ‘very worried’

June 18, 2020

While about one-third of Americans believe, if you can’t see it, you can’t catch it; the rest of us still are relying on face masks and hand sanitizer. In fact, about two-thirds of Americans continue to say they “are  worried” about being exposed to the coronavirus, as multiple states see a new spike in cases, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday reveals, according to a report by The Hill.

Gallup found that 29% of respondents are “very worried” about exposure to the coronavirus, and 66% are either “somewhat” or “very” worried.

The proportion who are concerned about the coronavirus has risen since Gallup began asking the question in February, The Hill notes. That month, 36% of Americans said they were either somewhat or very worried about exposure—a figure that more than doubled in March; and has plateaued at somewhere between 63% and 67% since then.

Specifically, 37% of black respondents and 50% of Hispanics said they were “very” worried, compared to only 25% of white respondents. A number of studies have indicated that COVID-19 is impacting people of color at disproportionate rates across the country. 

And The Hill says, there are also partisan divides over how concerned Americans are, with 85% of Democrats saying they are at least somewhat worried that they or their family will come into contact with the virus, compared with 47% of Republicans and 66% of Independents.

There have been over 2.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, and nearly 117,000 people have died.

The poll comes as several states across the country are seeing new spikes in coronavirus cases, throwing reopening plans into question. California, Texas, Arizona and Florida are among the states reporting the highest daily increases in case counts. In Texas, health authorities on Tuesday registered the state’s highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Trump Administration has sought to blame the rise in cases on the increasing number of tests, but experts say there has also been a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,034 adults from May 28 to June 4.

Research contact: @thehill

Pedal to the metal: Elon Musk dares California to arrest him as Tesla plant reopens

May 13, 2020

He has challenged the laws of mobility and gravity with his companies, Tesla and SpaceX, so why should Elon Musk bend to the laws of Alameda County, California?

This week, Musk has escalated his war with Alameda officials—tweeting that he is reopening Tesla’s manufacturing plant there despite a local ban by authorities who believe it’s not safe to do so.

If county officials don’t like it, Musk said, they can arrest him, according to a report by Fast Company. Indeed, he tweeted on May 11, “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Indeed, he says, county officials are illegally flaunting California law. Also on Twitter, Musk noted, “Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!”

The tweet and decision to reopen Tesla’s only U.S. plant come after a dramatic weekend, during which Musk threatened to move the company’s headquarters from California to Nevada or Texas, Bloomberg reports.

The threat came after California Governor Gavin Newsom gave the okay last week for manufacturers in the state to start operations again, but Alameda County officials overruled that decision. It should be noted, however, that Governor Newsom granted local authorities the power to remain more restrictive with their stay-at-home orders than the state’s as a whole, essentially allowing them to decide when certain types of businesses can reopen in their areas.

That did not sit well with Musk, and Tesla then sued Alameda County over the weekend.. In response, Alameda County health officials issued a statement saying they were aware Tesla’s plant was reopening and hoped the company would choose to comply with local stay-at-home rules “without further enforcement measures.”

According to Fast Company, after Musk announced the Tesla plant would reopen, employees at the plant were emailed a memo announcing their furlough ended on Sunday and that they will be contacted within 24 hours with their return-to-work start date. Tesla said those who aren’t comfortable returning to work can stay at home—but they will be on unpaid leave and lose any jobless benefits.

The news outlet says that, since lockdown orders began, Musk has been the most vocal billionaire demanding people get back to work—going so far as to channel Trump in random outbursts on Twitter ranting against stay-at-home orders.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Gap is dedicating factories to make masks, gowns, and scrubs for healthcare workers

March 26, 2020

Gap is the latest retailer to announce a commitment to use its resources to create personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, Business Insider reports.

The clothing and accessories manufacturer and marketer announced on March 25 via Twitter, “Our teams are connecting some of the largest hospital networks in Calif. w/our vendors to deliver PPE [personal protective equipment] supplies, while we pivot resources so factory partners can make masks, gowns & scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines.”

The company—which opened its first store in 1969 in San Francisco, selling primarily jeans and LP records—said it would connect with hospitals in California to deliver the supplies.

In order to provide the crucial and urgently needed supplies to healthcare providers, Gap made the decision to temporarily close its company owned and operated stores across North America, including Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Janie and Jack, and Intermix brands. The closures were effective March 19.

Other retailers have announced similar initiatives to support healthcare workers as the coronavirus prompts a nationwide shortage of masks and other protective equipment. In California, hospitals have turned to Los Angeles seamstresses to make masks.

Nike also announced it was creating personal protective equipment such as face shields to support doctors and nurses in Oregon. Zara announced a similar initiative.

Research contact: @GapInc

Biden gets another boost from rivals-turned-endorsers Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke

March 4, 2020

Following his bang-up win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, February 29, former Vice President Joe Biden would be justified in invoking the famous Mark Twain quip, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Biden, who had been struggling until that crucial victory, took home 35 delegates (for a total of 54) and 48.4% of the vote from the Palmetto State; compared to Bernie Sanders’ booty of 13 delegates (for a total of 60) and 19.9% of the vote, The Huffington Post reported.

But the stakes were much higher on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states—among them, California and Texas, with 415 and 228 pledged candidates, respectively—were scheduled to go to the polls for their Democratic primaries, as Yahoo reports.

However, a new wave of endorsements, coming the night before the Super Tuesday polls opened, could give Biden the boost from moderate voters that he needs.He appeared on stage with former rivals Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke on Monday night and presented his emerging two-person race with Bernie Sanders as a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, NBC News reports.

Pete Buttigieg flew from South Bend, Indiana, to Dallas to endorse Biden before his rally but returned home and did not join the former vice president at the event.

At the rally, Biden told cheering supporters that Super Tuesday voters are “going to determine what this party stands for, what we believe,and what we’re going to get done” — and took a series of swipes at Sanders.

“If Democrats want a nominee who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it; take on the NRA and gun manufacturers, protect our children; who’ll stand up for the middle class, not raise their taxes and make promises that can’t be kept, then join us,” Biden said. “If Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, then join us. We can either win big or lose big, that’s the choice.”

According to the NBC News story, a running theme in the remarks of Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke was that Biden is the party’s best chance at victory and offers a decent and caring alternative to President Donald Trump.

“We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump. The man in the White House today poses an existential threat to this country, to our democracy, to free and fair elections, and we need somebody who can beat him,” O’Rourke said. “In Joe Biden, we have that man.”

Buttigieg said Biden would “bring back dignity to the White House” if elected president and “change the toxic and divisive nature of our politics right now.”

“He is somebody of such extraordinary grace and kindness and empathy,” said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Klobuchar appeared to take a veiled dig at Sanders: “It is time for a president who represents all of America, including people at the middle of this country, at a time when we see people in extremes that are trying to drown out people,” she said.

Speaking to reporters in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, Sanders addressed the consolidation of party elites behind Biden, calling it “a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders,” NBC said.

“The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up…We are winning working class voters, by big numbers,” Sanders said. “So it doesn’t surprise me why would I be surprised that establishment politicians are coming together?”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Bud Light promotes special edition alien-themed cans, as ‘raid’ of Area 51 approaches

September 16, 2019

Next Friday, September 20, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. (PDT), a huge group of alien enthusiasts—close to a million—has agreed to meet up at the U.S. government’s off-limits, heavily guarded  Area 51 in the desert 80 miles north of Las Vegas “and coordinate our entry.”

And just in time for that raid—on a facility at which scientists are rumored to study actual alien bodies and spacecraft—Bud Light is introducing alien-themed cans of beer “for legal drinking age humans;” as well as special wearables, such as caps with alien artwork.

However, Bud Light and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, have made it clear that they are not necessarily encouraging the attack on Area 51.

Calling itself “the favorite light lager of American Earthlings,” the  Bud Light brand says, “”The way we see it, we’d much rather people crack open a crisp Bud Light with alien visitors rather than storm Area 51. Nothing says ‘we come in peace’ like sharing a beer with friends from another place or another galaxy. We promised to have beer waiting for any alien that wants it and we plan to deliver on that promise. Our hope is that humans stock up, too—because you never know when you might need some Bud Lights to welcome intergalactic neighbors.”

Starting on September 13, the alien cans of brew went on sale in NevadaArizona, and California . The special-edition aluminum cans feature a green alien and black background, as well as a new crest welcoming all extraterrestrials from near and far to crack a cold one.

To bring the fun to fans everywhere, Bud Light also has produced a line of limited-edition merchandise—including not only the caps, but koozies, shirts, and bomber jackets. Legal drinking age fans can purchase items online from the www.abgiftshop.com at prices of $100 or less.

Research contact: @BudLight