Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yelp Spins the MSM, Again

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 2:18 PM

You've got to hand it to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman; he certainly knows how to work the mainstream media. One of his latest successful spin jobs was directed at San Jose Mercury News tech columnist Chris O'Brien. Somehow in the wake of legitimate allegations by numerous business owners that they had been extorted by Yelp sales people, Stoppelman convinced O'Brien that it was all some sort of grand misunderstanding caused by ignorant shop owners stuck in the "analog" world. Yelp's sophisticated "2.0" digital model was just too difficult for them to understand. Jesus, Stoppelman is a master. Dick Cheney should have hired him long ago.

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Lawsuit Involving Yelp Moves Forward

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 12:56 PM

A lawsuit that could affect how the customer-review site Yelp does business in the future is still alive, thanks to a Santa Clara County judge. The case involves a libel suit filed by a dentist who claims she was defamed in a negative review posted on Yelp. Although Yelp is technically no longer a part of the case, the online site could be significantly affected by it. If the dentist wins the case, it could scare people into no longer writing negative reviews, thereby harming the Yelp business model. Yelp users depend on reviews to get an honest assessment of restaurants and businesses.

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Were the Cop Killings Bound to Happen?

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 11:29 AM

As more information is revealed in the shooting deaths of four Oakland cops, it's starting to become clear that the tragic incident was emblematic of a police department that's badly off track. There's even an argument to be made that Saturday's bloodbath, or something similar to it, was bound to happen. The root problem is that OPD's crime-fighting culture is ass backwards. For years now, the department has been obsessed with suppressing crime, and no longer makes solving crimes a top priority. This unfortunate shift not only has resulted in a dramatic increase in crime in recent years, but there's convincing evidence that it ultimately led to last weekend's unnecessary deaths.

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Mixon Really Was a Monster

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Lovelle Mixon, the fugitive parolee who killed four Oakland cops last weekend, allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl and was a suspect in at least five other rapes, according to the Chron. What a piece of work. The 12-year-old was raped February 5, and although she didn't know her attacker, police said she helped them put together a composite sketch that closely resembled Mixon. "It's pretty dead-on," Sergeant Jill Encinas told the Chronicle. Mixon's DNA was linked to the rape of the 12-year-old one day before he shot and killed the four cops. It's tragic that police didn't catch him before he went on his bloody rampage.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gov. Moonbeam, Satellites, and Parolees

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 1:24 PM

We thought Jerry Brown shook off his "Governor Moonbeam" moniker years ago, but his latest idea to use satellite-based-positioning systems to track parolees might just bring it back into fashion. Brown's proposal came in response to last weekend's tragic killings, and at first blush, it sounded sort of cool, high-tech and all. But on closer examination, it looks like another politician grandstanding for the media. I mean, these GPS devices are to be placed on "dangerous" parolees, right? So, who's going to decide which parolees are dangerous, using what criteria? And even if we figure that one out, there are about 120,000 people currently on parole in California, so even if just 10 percent are deemed "dangerous," it means keeping keep track of 12,000 GPS devices. Who's going to do that? The already overburdened parole officers? Overtaxed police? And what's going to happen when parolees start removing the devices in droves? Who's going to have the time or resources to stop that?

AK-47s Are Already Illegal

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 1:00 PM

In the wake of the tragic police officer deaths over the weekend, there's a renewed call for tougher gun control laws. Don Perata, who launched his political career on gun control issues, is among the voices calling for a crackdown. Now, we're all for gun control here at the Express, but let's be clear - AK-47s, the gun Lovelle Mixon used to fatally shoot two of the four Oakland cops he killed on Saturday, are already illegal in California. Yes, the federal assault weapons ban expired five years ago and it should be renewed. But re-upping the federal law would likely do little to stop another incident from happening again in Oakland, or anywhere else in our state. The reason is that there's a tremendous black market for assault weapons. If there's going to be a crackdown, then state and local agencies should make going after assault weapon sales and possession a higher priority.

Was Mixon a Threat to Anyone But Cops?

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Anonymous police sources are now telling the Trib and the Chron that Oakland police brass decided to send the SWAT team after Lovelle Mixon on Saturday because they viewed him as a threat to the people in the apartment building where he was hiding out. It was just too much of a risk, they said, to barricade the area and wait out the cop killer. But was Mixon really a threat to anyone other than cops? After all, it wasn't as if he had gone on a rampage, shooting up the streets of East Oakland. On the contrary, he seemed intent on gunning down police, and no one else.

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Was Rape the Motive? It Doesn't Add Up

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 10:09 AM

We may never know for sure why Lovelle Mixon killed four Oakland cops, but the revelation that DNA evidence had linked him to a rape provides another possible motive. Or does it? There is no doubt that a rape conviction would result in far more prison time than a parole violation - the other possible motive for why Mixon went on his cop-killing rampage. But at this point, it seems unlikely that he would have suspected that cops were after him for the rape case. According to the Chron, the rape victim did not know her attacker. Moreover, Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan told the newspaper that Oakland police may have had a "run-in" with Mixon in the days before the shooting. So if cops didn't arrest him then for rape, why would Mixon think they would arrest him for it a few days later? It doesn't add up. Mixon would not have known that investigators had discovered the DNA link a day before the shootings.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

More Signs of a Depression?

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 10:30 AM

The bad economic news just keeps coming. The latest? California's jobless rate jumped to 10.5 percent last month, as the state economy shed 116,000 more jobs. According to the Chron, it's the state's highest unemployment rate since the painful 1982-83 recession. About 4,000 jobs were lost in the East Bay in February, according to the Contra Costa Times. And experts say it's going to get worse, because the underlying housing crisis is a long way from being over. "The downturn still has a way to go," economist Jon Haveman told the CC Times. "The housing market still has a couple of more problems in its cylinders."

California's Parole System Is Broken

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 10:13 AM

It looks like Lovelle Mixon killed four Oakland cops because he didn't want to want go back to prison on a minor parole violation. According to the Chron, the 26-year-old ex-felon was facing a mandatory six months for failing to show up to a meeting with his parole officer. Which begs the obvious question, is supervised parole even a good idea? When a convict finishes doing his time behind bars, why isn't he just released back into society? Is there any proof that supervised parole actually helps ex-cons adjust to life outside of prison? Or is it simply a system of strict rules that sets ex-cons up for failure? Or worse, is it a system that propels former prisoners to act rashly and do anything to avoid being put back behind bars?

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