Domestic violence motive investigated in California rampage
By JOHN ANTCZAK and AMANDA LEE MYERS
Friday, September 14
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Detectives on Friday were investigating a possible domestic violence motive after a gunman shot and killed his ex-wife and four others before killing himself during a nearly 40-minute rampage in Southern California, authorities said.
Javier Casarez fatally shot himself as a deputy closed in on him after the killings in Bakersfield, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Thursday.
Casarez, 54, shot his ex-wife and a man at a trucking company before chasing after another man, killing him, and then driving to a home where he shot dead a father and daughter on Wednesday.
Court records show a divorce between Casarez and Petra Maribel Bolanos de Casarez was finalized earlier this year.
In his petition for divorce filed in December, Cesarez accused Bolanos of cheating and asked the judge for his wife’s text messages to specific phone numbers. The judge denied the request.
Bolanos recently filed for a change involving child support and custody over the couple’s two teenage children, and the pair had a hearing set for Oct. 11, court records show.
Youngblood said it appears that Casarez targeted every victim, starting with a worker at T&T Trucking, and that domestic violence appears to have played a large part.
“It appears to be there’s more than just husband and wife having a fight because other people were targeted,” he said. “There’s a reason for that and we need to find that reason.”
Investigators are looking into whether Casarez’s ex-wife may have had relationships with Contreras or Valadez, the sheriff said.
Casarez likely took his ex-wife to the trucking company against her will and then fatally shot 50-year-old Manuel Contreras with a .50-caliber handgun, authorities said. He shot his ex-wife and then turned the gun on a second man, 50-year-old Antonio Valadez, the sheriff’s department said.
Casarez fired at Valadez as he ran away, but then tracked him down in his car and killed him, the sheriff said.
Casarez then drove to the house of 57-year-old Eliseo Garcia Cazares, who Youngblood identified as a friend. Casarez fatally shot Garcia and his daughter, 31-year-old Laura Garcia.
“She may have tried to intervene to keep the suspect from approaching her father, and he shot and killed both of them,” Youngblood said.
After the shooting at the Garcia home, Casarez carjacked a woman driving with her child. The woman and child escaped, and Casarez drove to a highway where a sheriff’s deputy saw him, Youngblood said.
As the deputy closed in, yelling at Casarez to drop his gun, Casarez fatally shot himself in the stomach, according to graphic body camera footage released by police on Facebook.
The video shows deputies and paramedics working to save Casarez. Deputies look over Casarez’s gun and talk about how he would have had to reload it during the rampage.
David Bunting, who said he’s a friend of Eliseo Garcia Cazares and lives two doors down from him, said he has no idea why his neighbor would have been targeted.
He said Garcia was a self-employed truck driver who always was with his grandkids when not working, often driving them around on his golf cart.
“He’s a really nice guy. I can’t say enough good things about him,” Bunting said. “It’s kind of a shock because of the kind of a person he was.”
He said his daughter Laura was a mother of four and that most of the Garcias’ large family was home at the time of the shooting. He said they’re devastated and in shock.
He said Eliseo Garcia Cazares and his wife had four grown children, including a daughter who was killed in a car accident a few years ago.
T&T Trucking, where the initial shooting happened, said in a statement that the company “is in a state of mourning.”
“We are greatly saddened and offer our heartfelt condolence and prayers to those who lost a loved one.”
About 30 witnesses were being interviewed by deputies, Youngblood said.
He said Casarez was a legal permanent resident of the U.S. The 50-caliber gun used in the shootings was legally purchased in 2004, Youngblood said. Casarez had been arrested for vehicle theft in the 1980s, but he did not have a history of violent crime, the sheriff said.
Youngblood called the shootings devastating, especially for Laura Garcia’s children, who may have witnessed their mother’s death.
“These young children, when they see this, that’s something that will stay with them the rest of their lives,” he said. “But officers … they’re also not immune to those emotions. Those cases stay with them their entire career, so this has a far-reaching impact on a lot of people in our community and in our department.”
Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report.
Opinion: Democrats’ Strategy Undermines Effect of Revelation Against Kavanaugh
By Michael Graham
The sudden release of a “mysterious letter” allegedly accusing Judge Brett Kavanagh of sexual misconduct as a teenager appears to be a last-ditch effort by Democrats to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court. And the behavior of anti-Kavanaugh senators during his confirmation only adds to the view that this latest charge is more about theater than substance.
On Thursday, nearly a week after the Senate Judiciary Committee’s televised hearings on Kavanaugh’s confirmation — and two months after she received it — ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California announced that she had turned over a letter to the FBI for investigation.
“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said in a statement. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
For its part, the FBI has declined to open any investigation into the allegations and is merely placing it in Kavanaugh’s background file “per the standard process,” an FBI representative said. They may not have had any choice. According to CNN, sources who’ve seen the letter say all the names in it were redacted by Feinstein.
Few people have actually seen the letter and reporting on the details is sketchy at best. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer has not seen the contents of the letter, according to his staff. The Guardian claims to have a source who was “briefed on the contents of the letter” who says it describes an incident that occurred when Kavanaugh and the accuser were 17 years old and at a party. “Kavanaugh and a male friend had locked her in her room against her will, making her feel threatened, but she was able to get them out of the room,” the Guardian reports.
Sources close to Kavanaugh say the judge was “completely blindsided” by the allegations. A spokesman for Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland, the private school Kavanaugh attended, said the school has “no knowledge regarding any accusation.”
Kavanaugh supporters note that Feinstein, who has had the letter since July, could have asked the judge about the allegations during private meetings or discussed it with fellow members of her committee behind closed doors. She declined to do either one. This has sparked speculation that she didn’t find the allegations in the letter serious enough to pursue.
It also appears that Feinstein only released it under pressure from fellow Democrats desperate to block a nomination that appears to be on track for confirmation before the Supreme Court reconvenes in October. Senate Republicans have announced that the Judiciary Committee will vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation — almost certain to be a party-line 11-10 vote for confirmation — September 20.
“There’s no plan to change the committee’s consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” a representative for Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley said. Committee member Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was even more dismissive:
“Let me get this straight: this is statement about secret letter regarding a secret matter and an unidentified person. Right?” the senator tweeted. “I will add: the FBI already performed and has reported on a background investigation on the nominee and this has been made available to all senators on the Judiciary Committee.”
In fact, Kavanaugh has gone through multiple background checks for various government jobs — including working in the White House — since 1993. Due to the contentious politics of his appointment to the D.C. Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush, he went through the committee hearing process twice. These allegations, or anything similar, never surfaced.
If the goal of committee Democrats pressuring Feinstein to reveal the existence of this letter was, as White House representative Kerri Kupec says, an “11th-hour attempt to delay his confirmation,” the behavior of their own members may have undermined the effort. High-profile theatrics by senators (and likely 2020 presidential candidates) Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California who suggested scandals that failed to appear have been criticized by court-watchers, including some of their fellow Democrats.
Tennessee Democrat and Senate candidate Phil Bredesen said Wednesday he’s “embarrassed by the circus” the hearings became. Indiana Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly called the behavior of Kavanaugh’s critics “shameful.”
Schumer, on the other hand, was pleased with the Judiciary Committee’s performance, saying afterward, “It was a good week.”
American moderates may not agree. In the wake of Booker’s widely mocked “I am Spartacus” moment, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine became the target of what her office describes as an “extortion” campaign — a crowd-funding effort raising more than $1 million Democrats are threatening to spend against her in 2020 if she votes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
And Thursday, the same day the “mysterious letter” story was being revealed, Collins’ office received “a 3-foot-long cardboard cutout of male genitalia, accompanied by a profanity,” according to the Washington Post.
Unless the allegations in the letter are both explosive and corroborated, it’s unlikely that, in the environment of partisan chaos Kavanaugh’s opponents have created, this story will stop his eventual confirmation.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Michael Graham is political editor of NH Journal. He is also a CBS News contributor. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
KEEPING RACISM ALIVE AT THE POLLS
By Robert C. Koehler
There’s almost no such thing as voter fraud, even though the Trump administration — and Republicans in general — affect to be so afraid of it they’ve had to develop a system guaranteed to purge voters from the rolls in enormous numbers.
They’re keeping America safe!
This, you might say, is the elephant in the room, politely unacknowledged even when the Republican system, very much embraced by the Trump administration, is critically analyzed. It’s called the Interstate Crosscheck System, developed by Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor, and its flaws are unavoidably — indeed, grotesquely — obvious.
But before that matters, I think it’s crucial to establish the fact that voter fraud — bad citizens, or worse yet, illegals, voting twice, indeed, driving from one state to another (Georgia to Illinois, say) in order to do their part to swing a national election — is itself a complete fraud. However, trumpeting the fear of such non-existent behavior is absolutely brilliant.
It’s the current manifestation of minority vote suppression. It’s the new racism.
All this is made clear in investigative journalist Greg Palast’s irreverent new documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, which takes on Crosscheck and present-day vote suppression, no holds barred, linking modern racism with the old-fashioned kind. In the process, the film lets us know the real value of the right to vote, from the point of view of those who had to fight and die to attain it.
Here, for instance, is author Linda Blackmon Lowery describing her experience on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965 — Bloody Sunday: “When we got to the top of the bridge, then you could really see what was on the other side. And there were white people sitting on their cars with their Confederate flags and their banners. ‘Die nigger.’ ‘Go home, coon.’”
Suddenly she heard a popping noise, as teargas canisters went off all around her. “You couldn’t breathe, you couldn’t see. I ran into this big old thing of teargas. (A police officer) was running behind me with a billy club. (She makes a hand gesture describing being clubbed from behind.) When I woke up they had me on a stretcher, putting me in the back of a hearse. I just jumped up and before anybody could catch me I was heading across that bridge.”
A short while later, the film shows a protester holding a sign: “My vote has been paid for in blood.”
And this begins to create the context for discussing Crosscheck, part of today’s oh so politically correct racist gaming of democracy, which is — let’s be frank — an incredible inconvenience to people in power. It was then and it still is now. What’s a rich, powerful white person supposed to do?
Crosscheck is part of the answer. Kobach’s system is simplicity itself. In order to protect America from the horror of millions of people voting twice (risking prison time for committing this federal offense), Crosscheck collects the names on the voting rolls of all participating states, which at this point is 27, mostly under Republican legislative control, and conducts a computer search for matches, or quasi-matches. Those matches — all the Fred Jacksons, all the Jose Garcias, etc., etc. — become potential double voters. Note: The matching names are first and last only, with middle initials ignored. Allegedly, Crosscheck also compares birth dates, though such data is often missing from voter rosters.
A list of the matches are sent to the participating secretaries of state and state election boards, which can then purge their rolls of these folks. According to Palast, these states have so far removed 1,067,046 voters, not counting Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s recent “purge-frenzy,” removing 591,000 voters’ names in the current election cycle.
Here’s the thing. Most of the matched names belong to people of color. “Jackson, Rodriguez, Garcia, Lee, Kim — these are primarily minority names,” Palast explained. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this system is unbelievably racially biased.”
In the documentary, Palast points out that 90 percent of Washingtons, for instance, are black. In some states, “20 percent of minority voters … are on the Crosscheck list.”
So, as the Washington Post reported a year ago, the Crosscheck method is so utterly slipshod that way-y-y-y over 99 percent of the name matches the system reports to participating states “were unlikely to have anything to do with even attempted voter fraud.” But because of Crosscheck, a huge number of voters, mostly men and women of color, who tend to vote Democratic, will either be denied their right to vote or forced to vote provisionally, which usually means they won’t have their vote counted.
I repeat: There is virtually no such thing as voter fraud — certainly nothing at a level that could actually impact an election. As the Brennan Center for Justice pointed out last year, in its report “The Truth About Voter Fraud”: It is more likely that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”
But keeping Americans of color — those who have truly paid with their blood for the right to vote — away from the polls by the millions, does indeed impact our elections. Look at who got “elected” president!
Palast, hardly content simply to expose this outrage in book and film, has teamed with Jesse Jackson and the two, with the pro bono help of the New York law firm Mirer, Mazzocchi and Julien, have filed suit, under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, with every Crosscheck state to get the names — the million-plus names — of registered voters purged from the rolls. The public, after all, has a right to hold the state accountable for the games it plays.
Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.
As Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolina/Tidewater coast, the Better Business Bureau is already receiving reports from consumers about high prices for necessary emergency items.
The attorneys general for three coastal states — North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia — have initiated their state price-gouging laws, which automatically go into effect during a declared state of emergency in order to prevent businesses from over-charging customers who are preparing to weather a storm or stocking up their vehicles to evacuate.
BBB warns businesses not to give in to the temptation to raise prices during a storm, both because it may be illegal to do so and because it erodes marketplace trust. Consumers will remember which businesses took advantage of them during a storm.
WOMEN VOTERS, WOMEN CANDIDATES — TWO VIEWPOINTS
Opinion: Women Won’t Vote for Only Democratic Women Candidates
By Karin Lips
A blue wave of Democratic women is coming in November, poised to win every office from city dog catcher to U.S. senator and lead the resistance to President Donald J. Trump. That’s what many headlines would have us believe.
If the dream scenario plays out for Democrats, history would mark January 21, 2017, as the day this particular blue wave began forming as thousands of women attended the Women’s March in Washington and cities across the country.
What began as a group of women upset at some of then-candidate Trump’s comments related to women quickly morphed into a partisan progressive political effort. The Women’s March consisted mostly of disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters.
A SurveyMonkey national poll conducted after the Women’s March found that a large majority of marchers voted for Clinton — 79 percent said they voted for Clinton, 8 percent said they voted for Green Party nominee Jill Stein and 5 percent said they didn’t vote. At most, then, less than 10 percent voted for Trump. The Women’s March transformed into an organization, channeling energy into the Power to the Polls national voter registration campaign effort to elect progressive candidates in 2018.
While the Women’s March and Power to the Polls program has focused on promoting liberal and progressive women, we shouldn’t forget the Republican women this fall. A look at the number of women running for office from both parties shows that women increasingly entering politics crosses partisan lines.
Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics data show that more Democratic women than Republican women are running in the offices they measure — U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governor, lieutenant governor, other statewide elective executives, state legislature, state senate and state house.
But women across the board — both Democratic and Republican — are setting records. Some 476 women filed to run for the House, smashing the previous record of 298 set in 2012, and 234 won their primary, again beating the record of 167 set in 2016. Democrats alone broke the record of women who filed to run, but together Democrats and Republicans increased the number of women who filed by 178. More women filed this election to run for Senate, governor and lieutenant governor than ever before.
Women are running across the political spectrum — from advocates of socialism to advocates of free-market policies. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District as a self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist. Representative Kristi Noem is running to become South Dakota’s first female governor, touting her conservative leadership.
Women are motivated for a variety of reasons to run. Making sure women have equal opportunity to run and compete on the issues is what matters.
All women should celebrate this November that gender isn’t the main motivation behind how the youngest generation of women votes. During the last presidential election, there seemed to be a disconnect between Hillary Clinton’s version of feminism and women’s empowerment and what the youngest women voters wanted. Clinton’s version said women should vote for her because she was the first woman running as a major party candidate for president, regardless of her policies. This message was front and center — she even wore a suffragette white pantsuit for her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
But the enthusiasm just wasn’t there among the youngest women voters. CNN found in Democratic primaries across 27 states that Clinton won 61 percent to 37 percent among women overall, but Bernie Sanders bested Clinton by an average of 37 percentage points among women ages 18 to 29.
This is consistent with a Refinery29 and CBS News poll of women ages 18 to 35 that found women of all ages and politics said health care was the top issue and ranked gender of a candidate as a low priority for winning their vote. What is most important according to this poll is the candidate shares their culture and values.
As we recognize the victorious women candidates this November, it would be a shame if we lost sight of the success of women overall. Women, like men voters, are focused on issues, and not simply gender or one party. That’s something to honor.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Karin Lips is president of Network of Enlightened Women. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: Women Are Leading the Wave
By Juanita Tolliver
Who runs the world?
Come on, we all know that answer, especially in this midterm cycle.
Women are leading from the front this election cycle and pulling the rest of politics with them. And that’s not just women candidates, but also women voters.
The midterms will see women candidates riding the wave into office in November, and there are plenty of historic firsts and achievements to be made.
Firsts like Rashida Tlaib, a congressional candidate in Michigan’s 13th District and potentially the first Muslim woman in Congress. Like Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, congressional candidates from Texas and potentially the first Latina congresswomen to represent the Lone Star State. Like Paulette Jordan, Idaho’s Democratic nominee for governor and the first Native American woman ever nominated for governor. And, of course, Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, potentially the first African-American woman governor in America, and Debra Haaland, a congressional candidate in New Mexico’s 1st District and potentially the first Native American woman in Congress.
This cycle alone, there are 18 women running for governor, 24 female Senate candidates, and 243 women running in House races, which is historic in and of itself. And who’s going to carry them across the finish line and into office?
According to a recent CBS News poll, 46 percent of women voters are likely to support a Democratic candidate versus 34 percent who would support a Republican candidate, and among women independent voters, 38 percent are more likely to support Democratic candidates compared to 32 percent who are more likely to vote for Republicans. This same poll shows that 40 percent of white women plan to vote Republican, down from the 53 percent of white women who supported Donald Trump and congressional Republicans in 2016.
In addition to the polling, women are leading the charge at home in their communities. They’re spearheading get-out-the vote efforts with local resistance groups. They’re powering the campaigns of women candidates as campaign managers and volunteers. And they’re fighting to get results in November.
This puts women candidates, particularly Democratic women candidates, at a massive advantage as we head into the home-stretch of the midterms, and it allows for new types of candidates to emerge — activist candidates, human candidates, tough candidates.
Candidates like Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who are challenging the old guard, which largely comprises older white men — and making space for themselves as activist candidates. These women are pushing the party beyond its comfort zone and offering diverse approaches and solutions along the way.
Candidates who are showcasing their humanity like Zephyr Teachout, a candidate for New York attorney general whose most recent ad features her receiving an ultrasound and emphasizes that “being a parent and being in power shouldn’t be in conflict for a woman any more than they are for a man.”
Candidates like M.J. Hager and Amy McGrath who take pride in their military service and toughness to act in difficult, dangerous situations and how that has led them to push for change and seek public office in the first place.
These women have thrown the rule book about what women candidates have to be like, look like and sound like out the window — and our political system should get ready for a jolt. Instead of “waiting in line” women, especially women of color, are stepping up, taking the reins, and forcing new debates about the problems facing all Americans.
Big or small, there will be a wave of historic outcomes this election cycle and the energy from voters can’t be ignored. Turnout in primaries has been off the charts (voter participation was up by more than 1 million in Florida’s recent primary compared to the 2014 midterm cycle, for example), Democratic candidates outraised Republicans in contested Senate races and out-raised them by $44 million in 56 House races during second quarter, and 65 Republican-held seats are now rated as competitive.
No matter what, Congress is going to look a lot different come November.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Juanita Tolliver is the campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. She wrote this for InsideSources.com