“Interim” SF DA Loftus brushes aside questions of Nepotism and Cronyism.

Earlier in the year I attended a District Attorney candidates debate.  Afterwards an older woman when asked her opinion of Suzy Loftus tartly replied, “She’s too corporate.”  That observation was spot on as Suzy willingly took the Mayor’s offer to become “Interim” DA. Ethics and good judgment took a back seat to raw ambition.  

Excerpted from San Francisco Examiner 10.20.2019

Mayor London Breed has been accused of pulling a political stunt by appointing her preferred candidate as interim district attorney just two weeks before voters will decide who holds the position permanently.

At least two of her opponents, deputy public defender Chesa Boudin and deputy state attorney general Leif Dautch, have said their campaigns garnered more volunteers and support after Breed announced her controversial decision to appoint Loftus earlier this month.

Breed has been criticized for unfairly tipping the scales of the election by tapping Loftus for the interim role instead of allowing the race to play out.


The mayor explained her decision by saying that the office was too important to leave vacant for even a minute.

But many said that there was not much Loftus could get done in the short two weeks leading up to election day.

But on Sunday, newly appointed interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus explained how much she planned to accomplish while serving in the role for 11 court days before the hotly contested Nov. 5 election.

In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, Loftus seemed intent on boosting morale in an office that she said had lost more than 40 attorneys over the last year and a half.

“What you can expect from me is me getting right to work and telling both the staff and San Francisco why I’m doing what I’m doing and why I think it’s important for the safety of our city,” Loftus said.

“In one week, 125 new cases come into that office that are charged,” Loftus said. “So one week matters, and how we handle every case, how the prosecutors feel and are they getting direction [matters].”

Loftus said she had already ordered prosecutors to reexamine the handling of a “handful” of sexual assault cases to determine whether further investigation is needed or whether charges were properly filed.

She has also halted the practice of letting first-time offenders accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs enter a diversion program instead of facing criminal consequences, Loftus said.

“That is a dangerous practice that was widely criticized,” Loftus said. “It’s not going to make us more safe, and I’m all for identifying smart ways to divert people out of our criminal justice system, and I will continue to look for ways to do that, but drunk driving is not one of them.”

Loftus was surrounded by family when the mayor swore her in to office during a small ceremony Saturday morning.

Former District Attorney George Gascon officially stepped down Friday evening to explore a run for district attorney in Los Angeles after serving as San Francisco’s top prosecutor since 2011.

Gascon had previously said he would not seek re-election in San Francisco, but the public did not expect him to suddenly announce earlier this month that he would not finish his term.

The announcement came in the middle of the first district attorney’s race in more than a century without an incumbent in which Loftus is running against candidates Chesa Boudin, Leif Dautch and Nancy Tung.

Loftus will be running her campaign while at the same time serving as interim district attorney, and political observers previously told the Examiner she would be wise to avoid making any significant changes.

“It’s strange that the district attorney decided to leave his post when he did,” Loftus said. “It was very unexpected for many people including myself.”

“But when the vacancy opened up,” she continued. “The mayor asked me to step in and do this job which I think is so essential to The City. Who I am is always someone who is going to say yes to serve The City that I love and in particular in an office that I think is in disarray and very needing of leadership.”

Loftus worked as assistant chief legal counsel for Sheriff Vicki Hennessy until her appointment. She previously served as president of the Police Commission and worked in the District Attorney’s Office under former top prosecutor and presidential candidate Kamala Harris.


Green Wave. Surge in Swiss elections by Greens as voters’ climate concerns grow

Even conservative Switzerland is moving to the Left politically.  I keep asking myself why in America, with so many “Progressive” folks, there is not a Party which represents their interests.  Instead, American “Progressives” are assimilated, homogenized and neutralized within the mainstream Democrat Party.

Deutsche Welle 10.20.2019

Switzerland’s Green opposition parties have made historic gains, while the anti-immigration People’s Party saw a drop in support. But political tradition might keep the Greens out of the cabinet.

Support for environmentalist parties surged in Switzerland’s Sunday election, while the right-wing People’s Party (SVP) kept their lead but emerged chastened.

The left-leaning Green Party garnered 13.2% support, surpassing their pre-election projection with a six-point bump from their performance in the last election in 2015.

Read more: Tens of thousands join Swiss climate march ahead of election

The Liberal Greens, a more centrist environmental party with libertarian socioeconomic policies, also gained ground with 7.8% of the vote, moving up from less than 5% in 2015.

‘Green wave’

Sunday’s “green wave” marks a “tectonic shift” to the left, said Green Party President Regula Rytz, and gives the Greens or a coalition of the two environmentalist parties a chance for a seat in the broad coalition that has governed the country for decades.

“It is not a green wave, it is a tsunami, a hurricane,” Celine Vara, the deputy Greens leader who won a seat in the upper house of parliament for Neuchatel canton, told Swiss radio.
Swiss Greens I 10.2012019

“We have clearly beat our expectations,” Green Party Vice President Lisa Mazzone told public broadcaster RTS. “We are tremendously pleased that the mobilization we saw on the streets has translated into votes.”

Switzerland is especially vulnerable to climate change, with temperatures in the landlocked country rising twice as rapidly as the global average.

Dominant parties bleed votes

The anti-immigration SVP kept its top spot, but dropped from the 29% it won four years ago to 25.8%, according to RTS projections. The runner-up, the center-left Social Democrats, scored 16.6%, marking a 2.3% drop compared with 2015.

The SVP is the only major party that has not promised to pursue bolder climate action, and instead persistently denounced “climate hysteria” in Swiss politics.

“We knew we were going to suffer a setback,” outgoing SVP senator Oscar Freysinger told RTS. “But the important point remains that before saving the planet we have to save Swiss sovereignty.”

The Liberals came third with 15.3%, despite the party’s percentage also shrinking somewhat compared with the previous vote.

The Greens surpassed the Christian Democratic People’s Party, which holds one seat on the Federal Council, for the first time.

Under Switzerland’s unique electoral system, voters were electing members to the 200-seat lower house, known as the National Council (Nationalrat), and the 46 seats of the Council of States (Ständerat).

Read more: Swiss elections: What you need to know

Green gains expected to have little impact

However, analysts have predicted that Green gains will do little to change the Swiss government — the Federal Council— even if they do increase their share of the votes.

The seven Cabinet positions have been made up of the same four groups for the last 60 years, and according to Swiss political tradition, Greens can only become ministers after getting strong results in at least two elections in a row.

Currently, the SVP occupies two of these positions, as do the center-right Liberal party and the left-wing Social Democratic Party. One is held by the Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP). The same four parties have divided up the Cabinet posts between them for the past 60 years.

The country’s governance relies on consensus, and many have expressed reluctance to remove the long-serving CVP, who represent the country’s centrist bloc. Instead, the left-wing Greens would prefer to take a Federal Council seat from the Liberal party. To do so, though, the party may have to engage in a delicate alliance with Green Liberals.

Climate change to the fore

Although Switzerland has not borne the brunt of climate change owing to its geographical position, experts have warned that the Alpine country has lost 15% of its glacier volume in the past 10 years.

Experts also think younger voters may have been mobilized in this election by their concern for environmental issues, driving up voter turnout.

The new parliament will decide the governmental positions on December 11. More than 4,600 candidates stood for the 200 seats available in the National Council.


Cold War style intrigue. Three U.S. Diplomats in Russia Removed From Train

This article of intrigue is buried in the October 17 Wall Street Journal. It invokes the Spy vs. Spy era in Russian American relations.  Interestingly a follow up on line piece in the WSJ downplays the incident.  I would rely on the veracity of the original story which was published before talking heads for Moscow and Washington could weigh in with the “official” party line.

Wall Street Journal 10.17.2019

Three U.S. diplomats were removed from a train headed to Russian cities with restricted access and located near the site of a recent deadly nuclear explosion, according to Russian news agencies.

Russian authorities resorted to Soviet-era style secrecy in the aftermath of the explosion, such as deleting an announcement about a spike in radiation levels from the Severodvinsk city website. The incident triggered fear among residents over possible exposure to radiation and a rush on pharmacies to buy iodide that can help block radiation poisoning, if taken appropriately.

Earlier this month, Maxim Yakovenko, the head of the Russian meteorological service, Roshydromet, was dismissed from his position. Following the blast, his agency reported that “it is supposed” that the spike in radiation in the city of Severodvinsk resulted from “the passage of a cloud of radioactive inert gasses.”

Russia WSJ I 10.17.2019

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave the order to sack Mr. Yakovenko, who had headed the agency since September 2017. No reason was given for Mr. Yakovenko’s dismissal.

Citing a law enforcement source, the official Russian news agency, TASS, reported that the diplomats were taken off the train Monday as it was bound for Nyonoksa, a closed village near the Russian Navy’s main test site, and Severodvinsk, a city that foreigners need special permission to enter.

According to the Russian news agency, Interfax, which cited its own source, the incident occurred at around 6 p.m. Monday at the Severodvinsk station, and naval and military attachés were among the three checked and removed.

“When checking the documents, the passengers of the Nyonoksa-Severodvinsk train found three foreign citizens,” the agency’s source said.

It isn’t known what happened to the three U.S. diplomats after they were removed from the train.

The State Department confirmed in an email that “the American diplomats were on official travel and had properly notified Russian authorities of their travel.”

U.S. officials didn’t respond to further questions regarding the incident.

Officials at neither Russia’s Federal Security Service or Defense Department could be reached for comment.

TASS reported that the U.S. diplomats were regarded to have broken Russian law.

An Aug. 8 explosion during a missile test killed at least seven people and caused radiation levels to spike in the area around Severodvinsk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the incident occurred during the test of a “promising weapons system” and praised as national heroes the people who were killed.

U.S. officials said the explosion confirmed that Russia was working to develop high-grade specialized nuclear weapons, as Moscow seeks to produce a new generation of arms capable of overcoming U.S. defense systems.

Write to Ann M. Simmons at ann.simmons@wsj.com

Radical Road. Ride on. Market Street in San Francisco soon to be car free

Having ridden a bicycle in San Francisco since 1972, I am overjoyed.

It’s a time for celebration in San Francisco and major kudos to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in particular.  The City sets the pace for progressive change.

“Time has come today,” sang the Chambers Brothers in their classic 1960’s song.

Time came today in San Francisco in the fight to give cyclists and pedestrians preeminence on City streets. The busy Market Street thoroughfare will be off limits to private vehicles beginning in 2020.

San Francisco Examiner – Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez 10.15.2019

Applause broke out after the SFMTA board unanimously approved the project.

SFBC III 10.15.2019

San Francisco will soon kick cars off one of its busiest thoroughfares when Market Street goes car-free in January 2020.

That’s after a vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors on Tuesday, which approved the Better Market Street plan to transform the downtown street into a pedestrian boulevard and free up traffic to let buses flow more quickly.

“It is bold, it is transformative,” SFMTA board director Amanda Eaken told the public at City Hall shortly before the vote.

Malcolm Heinicke, SFMTA board chair, said he has remained on the board for eight years in order to see this project to fruition.

“This will not just be a better Market Street, this will be a magnificent Market Street,” Heinicke told the public. “We will have the above-ground subway for our bus lines. We will have a similar priority for our bikes and our taxis.”

The future was on everyone’s lips at the Market Street hearing at City Hall.

More than 60 people spoke, nearly every one of them in support of the project. That included entities and people who usually oppose transit projects: the business community, city leaders, and more.

SFBC II 10.15.2019

Even Mayor London Breed lent her support to Better Market Street, and in a letter to the SFMTA board wrote, “I urge your approval of this project so we can transform Market Street to be safer, more reliable for transit, and more inviting for anyone enjoying our city.”

This is a “once in a generation” effort, said Viktoriya Wise, acting director of sustainable streets at SFMTA.

SFBC II 3.19.2019.jpg

Photo above:  San Francisco Bicycle Coalition circa 1972

The $603.7 million Better Market Street Project has been more than a decade in the making. Under Mayor Gavin Newsom, SFMTA briefly piloted a car-free Market Street, and Third through Eighth streets now have turn restrictions that nudge many vehicles off Market.



“A decision between sickness and death.” Wall Street goes off the hook on Warren

This well written  article about the woman who will be President on January 20, 2021,  Elizabeth Ann Warren dissects the angst sweeping Wall Street. A link to the entire piece is attached.

Excerpted from Vanity Fair – William Cohan 10.11.2019

You can tell Wall Street is getting more than a little worried that Elizabeth Warren may become the next president of the United States when research reports start popping up about what her presidency might mean for the financial markets. Spoiler alert: It’s not good.

At least she’s a capitalist, unlike Bernie. And in a pick-your-poison election, many Wall Streeters see her as much, much better than Trump and his chaos.

A Wall Street bigwig and longtime Democratic Party stalwart likes to use a football metaphor when it comes to figuring out who the Democratic nominee will be. He thinks Warren has one spot in the Democratic Super Bowl locked up; the other spot looks like it will go to Biden but there are a host of more centrist Democratic candidates—Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar—who are going to use the next debate, scheduled for October 15, to try to displace Biden as the inevitable challenger to Warren. But they can’t go after Biden directly. “People have already been burned by that stove,” he says. He says they will go after Warren, instead of Biden, in order to displace Biden as Warren’s challenger. It’s a subtle strategy. “It’s a little bit of a bank shot,” he continues, “but you’re going out to be the alternative to Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren, on today’s facts, has a spot at the Super Bowl. That could change.

The trick here is for someone to basically say, ‘I am the person who can take on Elizabeth Warren. Let’s get down to the two of us or three of us.’” And what are his Wall Street brethren thinking about Warren? “They’re all whiny,” he says. “Every time they open their fucking mouths, they probably gain Warren another 50,000 votes.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren holds town hall at Laney College

Another  longtime Wall Street banker who has also been involved with Democratic politics has been impressed with Warren’s political skills. “She’s putting together a great campaign,” he says. “She has a great message. She’s resonating. She is smart politically, smarter than the rest of them.” He likes that she doesn’t “sugarcoat” things. And many parts of her message are resonating with him. In small groups, he says, she tones down her anti–Wall Street rhetoric and she’s becoming more moderate. “She’ll [now] put it differently,” he says, “which I don’t disagree with, which is ‘Do you think our country would be better off if we had less inequality?’ Well, I can’t argue with that. Of course, the answer is yes.” He seems genuinely impressed by her. “I think she’s incredibly smart and much more reasonable towards what she wants to do for this country than people think,” he continues. “A lot of what she does is against my own personal interest, but I think she has the greater interest at heart. And I like that. Okay. And she does not talk crazy.” He thinks she can win if she focuses her message on having wealthy individuals pay higher taxes than they are now, rather than talking about remaking capitalism by attacking corporate America. (He also thinks Tom Steyer, the billionaire and former hedge fund manager, is someone to watch at the next debate.)



Trump’s true personality on display in obscene video shooting, stabbing foes

The American electoral system allowed this horrific man to be selected President. Now, his deranged personality in the guise of a Fake News video is on display for all the World to see.  All the denials from his handlers and sycophants cannot hide the fact the Incumbent is unfit for the Presidency.

Wall Street Journal 10.14.2019

The White House said Monday that President Trump strongly condemns a graphic video that shows a fake version of the president shooting and attacking members of the news media and political rivals, but that he hadn’t yet seen it.

In the video, Mr. Trump’s targets include Sen. Mitt Romney, the late Sen. John McCain, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former President Barack Obama and others.

Cindy McCain, Mr. McCain’s widow, said on Twitter that reports of the video “violate every norm our society expects from its leaders & the institutions that bare their names. I stand w/ @whca in registering my outrage.”

Violence Video II 10.14.2019

Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement that the group was “horrified” by the video.

All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents,” Mr. Karl said. “We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.”


The New York Times reported Sunday that the video was shown at a recent three-day conference put on by the pro-Trump group American Priority at Trump National Doral Miami. As described by the Times, the most violent piece of the video appears to be a doctored version of a scene from the 2014 film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” It shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man who shoots and attacks a series of people with the heads of his critics or with news logos over their faces.

Event organizer Alex Philips said in a statement that “an unauthorized video was shown in a side room at #AMPFest19. This video was not approved, seen, or sanctioned by the #AMPFest19 organizers.”

Mr. Philips added that organizers weren’t aware of the video until they were contacted by the New York Times and said the group “always has and always will condemn political violence,” adding that there was a panel conversation condemning political violence during the event. Mr. Trump didn’t attend the conference.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham tweeted Monday that the president hadn’t seen the video and would see it shortly, “but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the president’s campaign, said in a statement that the “video was not produced by the campaign and we do not condone violence.”

Violence Video III 10.14.2019

Mr. Trump has branded the media as the “enemy of the people” and regularly assails “fake news” on his Twitter feed and at his rallies. Two years ago he tweeted a doctored video that showed him assaulting a man whose face was covered by the CNN logo.

The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. appeared at the conference. A spokesman said that he hadn’t seen the video and didn’t know about it’s existence before the media reports, but he “strongly condemns the type of disgusting and graphic violence purported to be depicted in the video against members of the media.”


“Attacked from Within” Neo-Nazi Suspect admits to Synagogue shooting

Nazi sentiment in Germany did not end with the death of Hitler. It has always percolated not far beneath the surface.  Anti-semitic sentiment is a world wide stain on humanity and needs to be crushed and obliterated wherever its ugly head arises.

Deutsche Welle 10.11.2019

The suspect in the synagogue attack, Stephan B., has confessed to the shooting in the eastern German city of Halle. He cited anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist motives for the attack.

German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in comments published inthe Tagesspiegel newspaper on Friday said, “Our country and its basic order is being attacked from within.” She also called for stronger security laws.

Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has accused right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) of being partially responsible for the attack, and said they should distance themselves from inflammatory and hateful rhetoric.

He also described an “elevated” risk of attacks. He warned on Friday that more attacks could happen “at any moment” and that Berlin was “extremely alert” to further attacks.

A 27-year-old suspect (shown below in white prison suit) has confessed to the attack at the synagogue in Halle ​​​​​​that left two dead, Germany’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office said on Friday.

Yom Kippur Attack VI 10.13.2019

During a lengthy meeting with German investigators on Thursday, Stephan B. spoke “very extensively” and admitted that anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist beliefs motivated him to commit the attack, a spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said.

Read more: Deadly attack targets synagogue in Germany — as it happened

“He gave an extensive confession. He confirmed far-right and anti-Semitic motives” for the attack, the spokesman said.

The suspect made the confession to the judge at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice on Thursday evening. The arrest warrant, issued on Thursday, was for two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

More than 2,000 members of the community came together on Friday to form a human chain in front of the synagogue, which was targeted in the attack.

Similar vigils took place in many other German cities. The Jewish holy day of Shabbat begins each Friday at sunset.

The leader of the German Evangelical Church, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, was also in attendance in Halle. He described himself as “overwhelmed by how many people had come.”

“There is hope,” he told the crowd.

People also lit candles outside the synagogue and held them in their hands as a mark of solidarity.

Prosecutors also said on Friday that Stephan B. had built his own weapons. After finding a 3D printer in his home, investigators said that they believed he had used this to assemble the weapons.

Stephan B. is currently in custody awaiting trial and the German authorities are treating the incident as a far-right terrorist attack.


Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, on Friday held a minute of silence for the victims of the attack.