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Guns and Crime

Shafeeq Sheikh, doctor convicted of rape, should be in jail. He got probation instead.



Shafeeq Sheikh doctor convicted of rape should be in jail He got probation instead

Shafeeq Sheikh raped a heavily sedated patient while working at the Baylor College of Medicine. After a rape kit matched his DNA, the jury convicted him of 2nd degree sexual assault with a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. For whatever reason, the jury decided to give him 10 years probation instead.

Indian-American Doctor Convicted For Raping Patient Won’t Serve Jail Time will have to register as a sex offender. Unlike most states and the federal government, Texas grants juries the power to set criminal punishments.

The punishment has surprised defense attorneys, disappointed law enforcement and raised concerns from a victims advocacy group, according to media reports.

The jurors had recommended the sentencing, to which visiting Senior District Judge Terry L Flenniken was required to follow by law, according to local media report.

Generally, I like the way Texas handles criminal sentencing. Every now and then, justice is not served and this is clearly one of those cases. Here is a victim who has been permanently changed, having been raped by someone she should have been able to trust in a place where she should have felt safe. He is a predator who the victim believes has committed similar crimes before.

Violent criminals must be punished. While the maximum term may have been too much, to not serve at least a decade in jail after what he did is sickening.

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Guns and Crime

Americans need a public hearing on the First Step Act



Americans need a public hearing on the First Step Act

Contrary to popular belief, most bills on Capitol Hill are pretty easy to support or oppose. A gun control bill comes up and conservatives pan it while leftists embrace it. An abortion restrictions bill comes up and conservatives embrace it while leftists pan it. But the First Step Act, the latest attempt at criminal justice reform, has both the left and right split among themselves.

Conservative stalwarts such as Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are on opposite sides of the debate. They’ve aired their arguments at one another on Twitter the last couple of days. The latest volley from Cotton is worth noting:

All of this makes sense and highlights some of the information that is being withheld by proponents of the bill. Claims that it does not reduce prison sentences for serious drug offenders is an outright lie. But it was in his final Tweet from the thread that we get the crux of the issue.

This is the first major bipartisan action that has a serious chance of reaching the President’s desk, yet the information on it seems so ambiguous, Americans should be asking questions. There should never be a time when Americans ignore legislation that will directly affect us, but this bill should be grabbing our attention even more than others. It’s our streets that could get an infusion of criminals.

Lt. Col. Allen West opposed the bill until some on Capitol Hill reached out to him over the weekend.

Legislators tell Allen West: Next version of First Step Act will cut loopholes legislators echoed our concerns and said the version that is currently available doesn’t reflect the changes that cut the loopholes. They say it will be impossible for these two groups – serious violent offenders and criminal illegal immigrants – to get the benefits of the bill. Many felons will be released early. Future felons will be given lighter sentences. That makes sense for many, but by no means should anyone in either of the two most dangerous groups receive sentence reductions, according to the letter to West.

Call me cynical, but lately I’ve changed my general rules regarding promises of politicians. It used to echo President Reagan’s stance on nuclear disarmament: “Trust but verify.” I now have to go with a more adversarial stance on political promises: “Show me proof, then we’ll talk.”

This should not be debated solely on Twitter. We need to hear much more about it before formulating our own opinions. Public hearings would give interested Americans an opportunity to hear both sides debate the issue rather than relying on one-sided op-eds and paid ads. On this issue, we need the whole truth with opponents and proponents both asking questions and sorting through the facts in a public forum.

If Senator Cotton is correct (and the evidence he’s shown on Twitter seem to indicate he is) then we’re not being told the truth, even by conservatives. A public hearing isn’t too much to ask… unless proponents really don’t want us to know something.

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Guns and Crime

Gunman in California mass shooting showed warning signs



Gunman in California mass shooting showed warning signs

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — At first, the outlines of the mass shooter’s 28 years appeared unremarkable.

Ian David Long enlisted in the Marines out of high school and married at 19. Within five years, he was honorably discharged, divorced and in college.

As the picture sharpened, troubling details emerged — the kinds of clues that, in hindsight, make people wonder out loud whether the impulse that led Long to kill 12 people at a country music bar had been forming in plain sight.

Neighbors avoided him. He made them uncomfortable, and then there were the fits of aggressive yelling and property destruction at the home Long shared with his mom. One of his high school coaches says he scared her.

Others who interacted with Long at different stops — high school classmates, Marines in his regiment, professors — struggled to recall much about him. Meanwhile, family who did know him and investigators who are learning his story aren’t talking publicly.

One thing that has leaked out: During the Nov. 7 massacre at the Borderline Bar & Grill, Long posted on social media about whether people would think he was insane.

Authorities haven’t settled on a theory of why Long opened fire, then killed himself. Reconstructing a motive may take weeks, or much longer.

“We may never know what was in his head,” said Tricia Benson, who grew up and still lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks. “We may never know what that darkness was.”


Long’s desire to join the Marines dated at least to high school.

It was a life goal that helped rescue him from consequences when, a decade ago, Long allegedly assaulted a track coach.

One day at practice, Dominique Colell was asking who owned a lost a cellphone. Long said it was his. When she didn’t immediately hand it over, she said, he grabbed her rear and midsection.

Another time, Long mimicked shooting her in the head.

“I literally feared for myself around him,” said Colell, who no longer coaches at Newbury Park High School.

She wanted to kick Long off the team. Another coach argued the black mark could jeopardize his goal of joining the military. Long, a sprinter, was allowed to stay.

Neither the school nor its district has responded to requests for comment.

A third coach, Evie Cluke, recalled profanity-laced tirades that forced people to back away.

“The warning signs were there,” Cluke said.

In a calm moment, she asked Long why he wanted to enlist.

“When you hear somebody say they want to be in the military because they want to kill people in the name of our country, that’s chilling,” Cluke said.

Long’s family had a military pedigree. His grandfather was a Naval Academy graduate who served 30 years and retired with the rank of commander.

Long enlisted a few months after high school graduation. It was 2008.

Stationed in Hawaii, Long became a machine gunner. Two weeks before he returned from a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan in 2011, he legally separated from his wife of two years.

Authorities with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department have publicly speculated that, like many veterans, Long suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

No such diagnosis has been confirmed. A spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said Long wasn’t enrolled in health care there.

The theory that something fundamental about Long changed in the Marines does not persuade Thomas Burke, who served in Long’s regiment and is now a pastor. Though the two did not know each other, Burke said he has spoken recently with their mutual friends.

“Really what this was more about was his own loneliness and isolation,” Burke said.

Long left the service in 2013 and enrolled at California State University, Northridge. During three years at the school about a half-hour drive from Thousand Oaks, he took classes that lead to becoming a physical trainer or rehab specialist.

Students in the school’s physical therapy club did not recall Long. Campus police have no record of him. Professors said they have no helpful insights.

“An unremarkable student in good standing,” Konstantinos Vrongistinos, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, wrote in email.

For reasons that remain unclear, Long dropped out after three years.

Around that time, his Facebook posts alienated at least one high school acquaintance.

Raven Chavanne ran track with Long. She was turned off by his personality, but like many high school classmates, they were connected online.

Chavanne said she unfriended Long around 2016 because she didn’t like what he was writing — though she couldn’t remember the details.

“I was like, ‘Who is this guy posting this? Oh, it’s Ian,’” said Chavanne.

What Long did over the past two years is largely a public mystery.

In April, one particularly alarming uproar on the Longs’ property prompted an intervention.

“It sounded to me like the man was out of his head,” said Tom Hanson, a next-door neighbor who called 911.

Deputies summoned a mental health specialist, who interviewed Long. A 72-hour involuntary psychiatric commitment requires an “imminent” threat of harm, and the specialist concluded his behavior wasn’t extreme enough.

The standard can be tough to meet, said Marisa Randazzo, who has interviewed five mass shooters as the former chief research psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service. “We don’t want laws that somebody can be taken in because of something they said over Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

Hanson, the neighbor on a quiet block in a city often ranked as one of California’s safest, said he sympathized with Long’s mother.

“I think she was all the time overwhelmed by this guy,” Hanson said. “You never knew when he was going to go off.”


Pritchard reported from Los Angeles; contact him on Twitter. Also contributing were Julie Watson in San Diego; Tami Abdollah in Washington; Audrey McAvoy, Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Caleb Jones in Honolulu; Jennifer Farrar in New York; and Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Guns and Crime

Newt Gingrich calls for release of information regarding Imran Awan



Newt Gingrich calls for release of information regarding Imran Awan

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called on the House of Representatives Inspector General Mike Ptasienski to release information regarding Imran Awan, the former employee for Debbie Wasserman Schultz who participated in illegal activities while working IT for the Representative.

He isn’t trying to nail Awan, who made a plea deal, Schultz, or anyone else in Congress. The reason he wants the documents released is to demonstrate that the investigation by the FBI was completely insufficient. He said they interviewed 40 people. That number, to Gingrich, is very low considering the scope of the charges against Awan and his associated over a 13-year period.

“Conducting investigative interviews in this manner suggests that the FBI investigators merely wanted to be able to say that they contacted witnesses and raises significant questions as to whether these interviews were actually conducted in good faith,” Gingrich wrote on Facebook.

I’m not a lawyer or law enforcement officer, but everything listed in Gingrich’s post makes me believe he is correct.

“The sheer scale and size of the alleged criminal activity, the potential damage it could have caused, and the continual threats it potentially poses for the United States, raises significant questions that every American deserves to have answered.”

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