Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 8 November 2010

Criminal barbering? Raids at Orange County shops lead to arrests, raise questions - with 14 armed Orange County deputies -

Criminal barbering? Raids at Orange County shops lead to arrests, raise questions - with 14 armed Orange County deputies - 

As many as 14 armed Orange County deputies, including narcotics agents, stormed Strictly Skillz barbershop during business hours on a Saturday in August, handcuffing barbers in front of customers during a busy back-to-school weekend.

It was just one of a series of unprecedented raid-style inspections the Orange County Sheriff's Office recently conducted with a state regulating agency, targeting several predominantly black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Pine Hills area.

In "sweeps" on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 targeting at least nine shops, deputies arrested 37 people — the majority charged with "barbering without a license," a misdemeanor that state records show only three other people have been jailed in Florida in the past 10 years.

The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will. Deputies said they found evidence of illegal activity, including guns, drugs and gambling. However, records show that during the two sweeps, and a smaller one in October, just three people were charged with anything other than a licensing violation.

Orange County sheriff's Capt. Dave Ogden, who commands the area that includes Pine Hills, described the operations as a "minuscule" part of a larger effort to snuff out crime in one of Central Florida's notorious hot spots.

Asked why his unit made arrests for licensing violations, Ogden said: "It was a misdemeanor crime being committed in our presence. We decided to make arrests."

But many of the barbers who were swept up in the operations are still angry months later.

"They made a big charade about it," barber Jason Abrams said, "like we were selling drugs or something."

No ordinary inspection?

Brian Berry owns Strictly Skillz, a barbershop on Pine Hills Road. He says he's used to licensing inspections, but what happened in his shop Aug. 21 was something else.

Berry said deputies entered his store and told his barbers to stop cutting and put their hands behind their backs. As barbers sat on the ground in handcuffs, he said, deputies removed his customers — including children — from the store, and began searching workstations and checking licenses without explanation.

Barbers and witnesses at several shops told the Orlando Sentinel that deputies shouted and cursed during the raids, demanding the location of illegal drugs, which they searched for extensively. They never found more than misdemeanor amounts of marijuana at eight of the nine shops they raided.

The lone exception: Just Blaze on Semoran Boulevard in Apopka, where an arrest report shows deputies found Ski Joseph Vasquez, 40, with "2 baggies of cocaine in a prescription bottle" and cutting agents in the barbershop's office during the Sept. 17 sweep. Vasquez was arrested on drug- and gun-related charges after deputies said they found a handgun in his car.

On the same day, deputies raided two other barbershops and found no illegal activity other than unlicensed barbering. And besides the arrest at Just Blaze, reports show the two sweeps turned up the following: evidence of gambling, equipment "that appeared to be used" to make pirated DVDs and CDs, "some sort of tax service," two handguns and misdemeanor amounts of marijuana.

During the smaller operation Oct. 8, deputies arrested two additional people on unlicensed-barbering charges at one salon.

With the exception of two misdemeanor marijuana charges and Vasquez's arrest, deputies were unable to connect any of the illegal activity to anyone. Meanwhile, store owners reported property damage from the raids, including a large hole employees said deputies busted into a wall at 809 Barbershop in Ocoee.

However, several owners said the damage to their businesses and reputations has been much worse.

Read more - http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/crime/os-illegal-barbering-arrests-20101107,0,2783682.story

George Bush On Fox News’ ‘Hannity’: Tea Party Shows ‘Democracy Working,’ Jeb Bush Should Run In 2012 -

George Bush On Fox News’ ‘Hannity’: Tea Party Shows ‘Democracy Working,’ Jeb Bush Should Run In 2012 - 

Fox News host Sean Hannity sat down with former President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, for an hour-long interview set to air tonight at 9PM ET.
Key excerpts from the interview are below:

On the rise of the Tea Party movement:
"I see democracy working. People are expressing a level of frustration or concern and they're getting involved in the process. And the truth of the matter is democracy works in America. When Senator Brown wins, the attitude began to change. People showed up and voted. And people are concerned enough to take to the streets. And to me to watch people participating in the democratic system is good. It's a good thing for the country. It inspires me to know that our democracy still functions. What would be terrible is if people were frustrated and they didn't do anything."
On whether he thinks his brother Jeb will ever be President:
"I wish he would. He has to run first. And he has made it clear he is not running in 2012. And when the man says, 'I'm not running,' he means it. I wish he would run.
On being a wartime President:
"I was, sadly. And I wouldn't wish that on any president. You know, the -- the toughest decision a president makes is to send you know some -- somebody's boy into combat, or somebody's daughter into combat. And that the consequences of combat can be awfully devastating."
On being the President during unexpected moments like 9/11:
"Now, it's interesting that the presidency often turns out to be something you didn't expect. And I bet that's probably the case for all presidents. It's the unexpected that really helps define whether or not you're capable of leading the country. And in my case the unexpected of course was 9-11 and Katrina to a certain extent, and the financial meltdown."
On how he feels post-Presidency:
"I am at peace. I was honored to serve the country. I gave it my all. I'm not desperate to try to shape a legacy, because I fully understand that there needs to be time for history to be able to analyze--for historians to be able to analyze the decisions I made. I'm a content guy. I've got a great marriage. I've got a lot of friends."
On the media and public scrutinizing the semantics of his speeches:

"Words matter. The modern president is of course every word is analyzed. And sometimes I didn't get my words right. And I never tell these audiences I speak to, you didn't elect me cause I was Shakespeare. And I didn't pretend to be. The truth of the matter is you speak a lot as the president. And of course you're going to say things that when you look back at it, you wish you could put it differently."
On Obama taking shots at him:

"I understand that tactic. It really doesn't bother me. One of the biggest sacrifices for running for President if you are fortunate enough to win is a loss of anonymity. And I know I'll forever be known. On the other hand, staying out of the limelight restores a certain sense of anonymity."
On inviting foreign leaders to his Crawford, Texas ranch during the Presidency:

"I think Prime Minister Koizumi came here. I think Tony Blair came here. I can't remember everybody who came here. But I like to show them this, because it gives them a good feel for the topography. And the truth of the matter is conducting diplomacy on the ranch was easier, because people tended to relax. And if you put a person in an informal environment, you're more likely to be able to get a better feel for how they think. And once you get a feel for how a leader things, and you know what their interests are, and their concerns, then it makes it easier to conduct diplomacy."
On working with former President Clinton:
"He's a fun guy. And we're the same age. And I like him. And we're working the Haiti project together. And you know, Bill's got a good soul. He's not a mean spirited guy. And it's fun to be with him. And it's fun to share insights into the presidency. We don't debate. I'm through with debating. I debated enough."

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors -

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors - 

In his last two months in office, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is considering a December surprise: a posthumous pardon for Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, for indecent exposure charges after an infamous 1969 Miami concert.

In a phone interview with The Hill, Crist said “stay tuned” regarding the idea of a posthumous pardon for the singer who died in Paris in 1971. Crist on Tuesday lost his independent bid for the U.S. Senate and will replaced by Republican Rick Scott in January.

“Candidly, it's something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, but it's something I’m willing to look into in the time I have left,” said Crist. “Anything is possible.”

Morrison, a native of Melbourne, Fla., was convicted of indecent exposure and profanity after a March 1, 1969, concert in Miami in which he allegedly exposed himself and acted lewdly. He had seen a provocative stage play the night before in Los Angeles and was purported to have drank steadily that day en route to Florida.

Other band members have stated in interviews over the years that Morrison was clearly drunk at the concert, as obvious from sound recordings which showed he also tried to provoke the audience at various times.

Ironically, Morrison was cleared of drunkenness charges in the ensuing trial, as well as a felony charge for lewd and lascivious behavior, but was convicted of exposure and profanity. Morrison and his lawyers had hoped to turn the trial into a First Amendment battle, and he claimed in several later interviews that the trial was a sham. Morrison’s death in 1971 ended the case without him ever serving any prison time.

Doors fans have clamored for years to get Morrison’s name cleared, but Crist’s predecessors in the governor’s office were unmoved. In 2007, Crist said he would consider it, acknowledging “there was some doubt about how solid the case was.” Both Morrison and Crist attended Florida State University in Tallahassee, which Crist cites as one reason he is considering the issue.

Crist hasn’t moved on a Morrison pardon since then — but time is the difference now. Pardons in Florida must go through the Board of Executive Clemency, which has one final meeting Dec. 9. Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson all sit on the board, but all will leave office in January.

Crist’s Senate run prevented him from seeking a second term, while Bronson is term-limited, and the unsuccessful bids for governor by Sink and McCollum will force them from office.

Under state law, a pardon must have the consent of Crist and at least two other members. Bronson spokesman Terence McElroy said Bronson is willing to consider it, while a McCollum spokesman said McCollum would consider it only if Crist brings it forward.

The uncertainty frustrates Doors fans such as Dave Diamond, a TV producer in Ohio who has mounted a petition drive and letter-writing campaign to Crist on Morrison’s behalf for years. Diamond, who has compiled a website and an 11-part YouTube series to explain the effort, wants Crist to see Morrison as a Florida citizen, not a rock star.

“Basically all we're doing these days is waiting,” Diamond said Friday. “This is the last chance Gov. Crist will have with the board to make good on his 2007 commitment to give this longstanding case a fair review and a vote in favor for or against the special posthumous pardon request.”

Diamond notes the Dec. 9 pardon board hearing falls one day after Morrison’s birthday — the late singer would have been 67 today. In letters to Crist, he notes that in 2003, then-Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.) pardoned the late comedian Lenny Bruce for a 1965 obscenity conviction. And in 2006, charges against the late Enron founder Kenneth Lay were tossed by a Texas judge.

Both Lay and Morrison died pending appeal, Diamond points out, but Lay’s charges were abated within three months while Morrison’s charges haven’t been reconsidered in 40 years.

“We are still hopeful that he will see this case through,” Diamond said of Crist. “He's the only governor in Florida that's even acknowledged this effort at all, and we appreciate his time towards this matter.”

Crist said he won’t make the decision lightly, noting the many complexities surrounding the 41-year-old case. Numerous sound recordings from the show exist, for example, but Morrison’s defenders say none of the scores of photographs from the show prove the exposure charge.

“We would have to look into all of that,” Crist said.

Kanye West - @kanyewest - SouthPark-Gay Fish *Official Music Video*

Kanye West - @kanyewest - SouthPark-Gay Fish *Official Music Video* -