SF sex-trafficking case. Why would judge free defendant? Answer. She didn’t.

Excellent incisive and heartfelt reporting by Heather Knight.  Read the article in full by accessing the link.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 4.14.2019

Spending time inside the decrepit concrete box that is San Francisco’s Hall of Justice is never pleasant, but a hearing there Tuesday was particularly stomach-churning.

The perfunctory meeting in the bland courtroom lasted just a few minutes, but the reason for it couldn’t have been more important. Would a man held over for trial on eight felony counts of pimping and sex trafficking underage girls, and engaging in unlawful sex with a 15-year-old, be released as he awaited trial?

San Francisco Superior Court judges have a reputation for being too lenientin this liberal, live-and-let-live city, where it’s easy to see crimes happen before your eyes. In broad daylight. On crowded streets. With seemingly no repercussions. Think drug dealing, breaking into cars, shoplifting and chopping up stolen bicycles, to name just a few.

At a hearing April 5, Judge Kay Tsenin (photo below)  indicated she was open to releasing him. Despite the fact she’d presided over his December preliminary hearing, which was full of graphic, devastating testimony about his treatment of teenage girls. Despite the fact she had ordered him to stand trial on all the charges. Despite the fact that if he is found guilty at trial, he could face 25 years or more in state prison. Despite him not showing up for past court dates.

Judge Kay Tsenin 4.14.2019.jpg

Tsenin said Stovall would have to wear a GPS monitoring device on his ankle.

But, according to Assistant District Attorney Asha Jameson (top photo), who vehemently fought Stovall’s release, the Sheriff’s Department has just two deputies to monitor the 190 people currently wearing monitoring devices. And the deputies can monitor only where the defendants are, not if they’re committing crimes. And guess who’s responsible for keeping the monitors charged? The defendants!

Perhaps the smartest thing Jameson did was alert advocates for victims of sex trafficking, a few of whom showed up to the hearing. I was there too. Tsenin, whose last day on the job before retiring happened to be Tuesday, ended up making the right decision.

“My job is to protect society, so I’m going to deny your motion,” Tsenin said. “Sorry.”

Don’t be sorry, judge.


Prominent rabbis shown in anti-vax pamphlet aimed at Orthodox Brooklyn parents

Normally I would never post (pardon the pun) anything from  scandal rag The New York Post. But, there’s always the exception when a story elaborates on how ridiculous it is when religious dogma impacts the safety of the population at large.

New York Post 4.14.2019

New York Post 4.14.2019

A computerized pamphlet that bears the names of leading rabbis — and warns of decidedly non-kosher vaccine ingredients like animal organs — is being circulated among ultra-Orthodox Jewish moms in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The 40-page “Vaccine Safety Handbook” bills itself as “An Informed Parent’s Guide” and says it was prepared by a group called Parents Educating & Advocating for Children’s Health, or P.E.A.C.H.

The pamphlet includes quotes attributed to Israeli Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky of Philadelphia that say schools shouldn’t turn away unvaccinated children.

It also claims that vaccines are made from ingredients that include “human cells from aborted fetuses,” “rabbit brain” and “monkey kidney” — all of which can’t be consumed under Jewish law.

A 25-year-old mother of four who gave her name as Breindy told The Post she decided not to vaccinate her kids after “a friend forwarded me a PDF of the handbook.”

Measles NYC III 4.14.2019.jpg

“When I read through it, it confirmed a lot of things I’d been suspicious about,” she said. Breindy also said she was heavily influenced by the rabbis mentioned in the pamphlet, calling them “Gedolei HaDor,” Hebrew for “greatest of their generation.”

“These aren’t just local no-name rabbis,” she said.


A pal with a baby who identified herself as Gitty, 28, also said all five of her kids had measles.

“God created all humans perfectly. My children are perfect and beautiful,” she said.

“It’s my religious belief. I will never put anything in my child to alter their immune system.”

But Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union — which certifies kosher foods — said it’s “completely irrelevant” how vaccines get made.

“It’s not an edible substance. It’s not ingested through the mouth. So kashrut [kosher laws] doesn’t come into play,” he said.




San Francisco. Springtime on the Coastal Trail and Golden Gate Park

Every Picture Tells a Story – April in Golden Gate Park and on the Coastal Trail

April 13, 2019

Above- Birds over the Pacific looking towards the Marin Headlands from the Coastal Trail (Photo – Liz Heidhues)

Below – Art lovers viewing the Claude Monet exhibit at The De Young Museum

Ms. Squirrel in Golden Gate Park

Liz, Luke and Jack at the haystacks on the Coastal Trail






Photos – Lee Heidhues

Julian Assange’s charges are a direct assault on press freedom

Every Picture Tells a Story – Ongoing Series

Excerpted from The Guardian 4.12.2019

The charge sheet accusing Julian Assange of engaging in criminal theft of US state secrets contains a direct assault on fundamental press freedoms and could have a devastating effect on the basic acts of journalism, leading first amendment scholars and advocacy groups have warned.

Prosecutors in the eastern district of Virginia released on Thursday an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder that has been under seal since March 2018. It will now form the basis of the US government’s request for Assange to be extradited from the UK to Alexandria to face trial.

Chelsea Manning.  Currently in jail for refusing to testify before US Grand Jury

Academics and campaigners condemned large chunks of the indictment that they said went head-to-head with basic activities of journalism protected by the first amendment of the US constitution. They said these sections of the charges rang alarm bells that should reverberate around the world.


Nihilist in Chief. Banal, Evil, Destructive Reign of Mitch McConnell

Fascinating feature length article. Required reading for political afficianados.

Excerpted from The New Republic 3.21.2019

Mitch McConnell is just what he looks like: a man serenely unbothered by anything he’s done to get his power or anything he’s done with it, having few friends but many allies.

As Trump’s presidency has predictably proved to be a series of outrages and self-inflicted national crises, punctuated with periodic updates on all the crimes and should-be-crimes his friends, associates, and children have committed, McConnell has receded into the wallpaper. It’s another of his special political talents. During that historic shutdown, he simply vanished for days at a time, letting his louder, dimmer counterpart in the Democratic minority, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, make himself the face of the Senate side of the negotiations. And the thing is, with every other major player in Washington desperate to get in front of a camera, this strategy works astoundingly well at deflecting attention and blame for things that are absolutely your own fault.

Mitch McConnell IV TNR 4.11.2019.jpeg

Recounting McConnell’s handling of a prior crisis, Bloomberg Businessweek writer Joshua Green described his strategy well: “McConnell nevertheless manipulates the press masterfully, using methods that are head-smackingly obvious and yet still elude most politicians. He knows exactly what he wants to say, repeats it with emphasis, then stops.” For those wondering how he’ll react if the government shuts down again, or if Trump causes some constitutional crisis by firing everyone investigating him, or if John Bolton declares war on Sweden, there’s your answer.

McConnell and his first wife would be divorced. Sherrill Redmon (shown in photo below)  went on, improbably, to become the director of the Sophia Smith collection of Women’s History at Smith College, where she collaborated with Gloria Steinem on the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project. He does not bring her up often.

Mitch McConnell I TNR 4.11.2019.jpeg



In the Fade. Sobering German film

I am watching the gripping, intense and ultimately sad German film In the Fade.  The story of a young mother whose Turkish husband and six year old son are assassinated by Nazis in Hamburg.  The acting is very personal and effective. The courtroom scenes illuminating the German justice system are fascinating. The ferocity with which the main character seeks justice is intense.

In the Fade (GermanAus dem Nichts) is a 2017 German drama film written and directed by Fatih Akin. It stars Diane Kruger as a German woman whose husband and son are killed in a terrorist attack perpetrated by neo-Nazis. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where Kruger won the Best Actress award. It was selected as the German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, making the December shortlist,  but it was ultimately not nominated. It did, however, win the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

In the Fade II 4.10.2019

Photo above – Two Neo Nazis accused of murder and their lawyers.



“White Nationalist”Stephen Miller. Racist and Xenophobic. Trump’s Josef Goebbels

(UPDATE) One follower of this Blog post noted that White House adviser Stephen Miller is to Trump like Josef Goebbels was to Adolf Hitler.

Congressman Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) is being attacked  for calling racist, xenophobic Stephen Miller a “White Nationalist.”  The Congresswoman’s detractors are trying  once again to foist the “anti-semitic” label on Ms. Omar.  Correctly calling out someone for being a “White Nationalist” has nothing to do with Judaism. Rabid shameless Republicans and some misguided Democrats will go to any length to destroy the Muslim legislator.  Stephen Miller is the shadow image of Boss Trump. 

Excerpted from The Washington Post 4.9.2019

A familiar story line played out Monday night for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who condemned one of President Trump’s most trusted advisers, only to end up being accused of anti-Semitism.

“Stephen Miller is a white nationalist,” she tweeted Monday afternoon. “The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.”

Stephen Miller 4.9.2019.jpg

Because Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser, is Jewish, Omar’s fervent detractors on the right viewed her comments not as incendiary criticism of Miller’s hard-line immigration policies but instead as part of a pattern of targeting Jews.