Freedom Makes America Great

By Bryan Golden  |  2016-07-01
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On Independence Day, we celebrate the gift of freedom given to us by the founders of our great nation. Freedom is as precious as life itself. However, its true value is rarely appreciated unless it is either threatened, or lost.

The United States is the only country established exclusively on the principle of individual liberty as an unalienable right. The founders of America recognized freedom as a fundamental human right, not something bestowed by an individual or group. Our Constitution was written specifically to protect our rights and freedoms from being usurped by power hungry tyrants.

We have more rights and freedoms than anywhere else in the world. Our freedoms are rights, not privileges granted by government. Our freedoms are the envy of the world. Every item in the bill of rights is a precious jewel designed to ensure the immortality of our liberty.

The power of freedom is unlimited. Free people build, create, and invent. Everyone’s life improves as the result of freedom. You have the freedom to benefit from your hard work. You have the freedom to ignore naysayers

Freedom is the foundation of America’s greatness. Freedom is opportunity. Freedom has created the highest standard of living in the world. Freedom is responsible for amazing discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Freedom unleashes the human spirit to improve life.

Even when living in a free country, there are people who voluntarily give up their freedom. They do this by giving others the power to make decisions for them. This approach is fraught with peril because no one cares as much about your well-being as you do.

Our founders understood the tactics used by oppressors to enslave a population through the suppression of freedom. America’s founders knew tyrants have an attitude that they are above the law and better than others. Our founders foresaw that authoritarian individuals would inevitably come along, intent on stealing power and wealth from the people.

The process of confiscating your freedom involves deceptive scare tactics. The power hungry claim to know what’s best for you. The erosion of your freedom is expedited by polarizing the population, splitting them into groups which are pitted against each other. Then freedom can be taken from each group under the pretext of protection from the other groups.

When all freedom has been taken from you, compliance is what remains. Life in a tyrannical, totalitarian society consists of misery and suffering. Tyrants consider the Constitution and your freedoms as an impediment to their accumulation of absolute power. Tyrants believe they are above the law. Tyrants feel they know best and are intent on imposing their will on you.

The destruction of America occurs when elected representatives or governmental agencies act illegally in defiance of the Constitution. The destruction of America takes place when these people refuse to enforce existing, duly passed laws, while imposing their own unconstitutional decrees.

Freedom is the arch enemy of tyrants. Individual liberty is a roadblock to a tyrant's ascension to power. In order for tyranny to succeed, liberty must be destroyed. When liberty is destroyed, America is destroyed.

Nothing surpasses the gift of freedom where each individual has the right to determine their own life. What is the alternative? Is it being told what you can and cannot do? Is it having some person or government deciding what, and how much you are permitted to have?

Freedom is your right. It's not a commodity granted to you by someone else. Yet, freedom can be compromised by the malicious actions of others. The typical approach to confiscating your freedom is to start small by taking seemingly inconsequential freedoms under the guise of fairness, safety, or security. Then, piece by piece, your freedoms are eroded until they cease to exist.

Your freedom is not free. Countless people have given their lives so that you may live free. If you are not vigilant, you will lose your freedom. Freedoms lost are extremely difficult to get back. If you don't recognize how precious your freedom is, and speak out against anyone trying to take it, you will lose your freedom. Freedom makes America great.

Bryan is the author of “Dare to Live Without Limits.”Contact Bryan at Bryan@columnist.com or visit www.DareToLiveWithoutLimits.com - 2016 Bryan Golden


Illegal Pharma, Counterfeit Goods Seized in Search

Source: Board of Equalization  |  2016-07-01

The California Attorney General’s Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement (TRaCE) Task Force served seven search warrants in the capital region turning up hundreds of boxes of foreign pharmaceuticals and thousands of articles of suspected counterfeit clothing.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the California Department of Public Health’s Food and Drug Branch, Franchise Tax Board, and Department of Justice eCrime Unit assisted in the June 21, 2016 operation that involved more than 50 agents and investigators.

“The trafficking of counterfeit goods poses a triple threat,” said Ryan Spradlin, the special agent in charge who oversees HSI operations throughout northern California. “Such activities deliver shoddy and often dangerous goods into the economy, rob Americans of good-paying jobs, and generate proceeds that are often funneled back into other criminal enterprises. HSI will continue to work with its enforcement partners to combat the distribution of counterfeit products, like those seized in Sacramento yesterday, that could put unwitting consumers at risk.”

“This action was a big blow to the underground economy in Northern California, and that makes yesterday’s raid a win for our whole state,” said Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma, whose district includes West Sacramento, one of the communities where the raids occurred. “I want to thank the hardworking agents and investigators who spent months of painstaking work in shutting down these illegal operations.”

“Illegal activities hurt legitimate businesses and inflict unfair costs on law-abiding Californians,” said Board of Equalization Member George Runner.  “Law enforcement deserves a huge thank you for their ongoing efforts to fight the underground economy.”

This warrant follows months of investigation into the sale of illegal foreign prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and counterfeit clothing by a couple and their adult son. Inside the family’s homes and three area businesses – Fashion Moda in North Highlands, Victoria’s Health Products in Citrus Heights, and Elena’s Health Products in West Sacramento – investigators discovered and confiscated the foreign pharmaceuticals, clothing, and more than $10,000 in cash.

The Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement Task Force (TRaCE) is comprised of public officials from the California Department of Justice, Board of Equalization, Franchise Tax Board, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Employment Development Department, Department of Motor Vehicles, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Santa Ana Police Department.


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Citrus Heights Police Celebrate Tenth Anniversary

Story and Photos by Steve Liddick  |  2016-07-01

The Citrus Heights Police Department’s honor guard participated in the department’s observance of the tenth anniversary of its creation.

It was ten years ago, June 26, 2006, that Citrus Heights Mayor Jeannie Bruins says the city “created something out of nothing.” It was on that date that the city started their very own police department. For the first six years following Citrus Heights’ incorporation, the city contracted with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.

Hundreds of police, family members, volunteers, interns, explorers, and citizen supporters packed the Citrus Heights Community Center auditorium to observe the decade milestone and to honor those who contributed to the success of the department.

The youngest attendee was two weeks old. The oldest was, ... well, ... old.

A good portion of the Citrus Heights community turned out to honor what Chief Christopher Boyd described as “the greatest men and women law enforcement has to offer.”

Promotions were announced and medals were presented to those who performed outstanding acts of heroism or selflessness.

The Medal of Valor was presented to Sgt. Jason Baldwin, Officer Chrystal Battaglia, Officer Nathan Culver, and Officer Kyle Shoberg. The Distinguished Service Medal was presented to Sgt. Kris Frey, Sgt. Ken Lewis, Officer Dave Jones, Officer Patrick McCoy, and Officer Kyle Shoberg Life Saving Ribbons were presented to Officer Elena Calderon and Officer Nicholas Oldwin

Nineteen newer officers were officially sworn in, although the rite was strictly ceremonial, since most have already been on the job for the past year.

In 2006, the first order of business had been to hire a police chief. Christopher W. Boyd answered the call and has headed the department since the very beginning. Chief Boyd noted at the anniversary celebration that they launched the original recruiting effort even before they had the materials to equip the officers they hoped to hire. “We had to convince recruits to join a department that had not even been created yet,” he said. It was a scramble to gather the gear to arm and mobilize the new hires and put them to work for the community.

It took six months to hire the first 90 sworn officers. That is the current number, as well. In all, 140 people make up the department today, from the person who answers the telephones to the officer who shows up at the scene of some unpleasantness.

The result of the Citrus Heights Police Department’s community involvement concept has had a measurable benefit. “The crime rate has gone down year by year,” Mayor Bruins said of the ten years since the police department was created.

Now, a decade later, Chief Boyd told the audience, “there are no people of greater character than the officers of the Citrus Heights Police Department.” He stressed that the job of a cop goes beyond the hazards they often face. It includes relating to the community on an everyday basis. It is the diplomat behind the badge worn by the men and women of the department who are “working to make Citrus Heights a better and safer community” that has endeared them to the citizens they are sworn to serve.


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Gasoline Tax Reduced Before July 4 Weekend

Source: Venus Stromberg, California State Board of Equalization  |  2016-07-01

The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) announces that the state excise tax on gasoline will drop by 2.2 cents per gallon on July 1, 2016. This will lower the excise tax rate from 30 cents to 27.8 cents per gallon for the 2016-17 fiscal year, effective July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017.

“Californians have another reason to celebrate during Independence Day weekend,” said BOE Member Runner. “This gas tax rate cut comes right on time for those hitting the road during the holiday.”

The Board approved the 2.2-cent tax rate reduction at its February 2016 meeting. The Board has been tasked with adjusting the excise tax rate on gasoline since 2010, when two pieces of legislation (AB x8 6 and SB 70, collectively known as the fuel tax swap) took effect. The Board sets the rate annually so that over a three-year period, no more or less revenue is collected under the fuel tax swap than would have been collected under the prior gasoline tax structure. The excise tax on gasoline goes to the State Transportation Fund for the construction and maintenance of public roads and mass transit.

Although Californians will pay less in state excise tax on gasoline starting July 1st, this may not necessarily translate to lower overall prices at the pump. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, factors such as crude oil prices, refining costs, and distribution and marketing costs also affect gasoline prices. Crude oil prices—which are affected by worldwide economic growth, regional economies, supply and demand—are the largest component of United States gasoline prices, as explained in the latest issue of BOE’s Economic Perspective.

The latest issue also highlights the strong relationship between U.S. gas prices and California gas prices, and California’s gas price is one of the biggest components in setting the excise tax rate annually. U.S. gas prices have declined 37 percent from June 2014 to May 2016, and California’s gasoline excise tax rate has decreased every year since fiscal year 2013-14. Gasoline purchases in California also have increased, with the latest data showing that gasoline consumption for the fourth quarter of 2015 was the highest since 2007.


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FBI Announces $50,000 Reward to Identify East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer

Source: Gina B. Swankie, Federal Bureau of Investigation  |  2016-06-29

40 Year-Old Cold Case Unites Law Enforcement Agencies in the Hunt for Subject Who Stalked Citizens in Multiple California Counties

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department held a press conference to announce the launch of a reward and national campaign to help identify the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer, a violent serial burglar, rapist, and murderer who terrorized multiple communities in California throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The digital media campaign includes the launch of a webpage, www.fbi.gov/EastAreaRapist digital billboards throughout the country; social media outreach on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube; and audio broadcasts via podcasts and radio PSAs. The public can play an active role in helping law enforcement find the subject by sharing links to the website and official social media content.

Law enforcement asks the public to consider the following information when reviewing information about the case:

  • Did they live in one of the areas of criminal activity and remember someone in the area who matches the physical description of the subject or may have been known to spend a considerable amount of time in the areas?
  • Have they discovered a hidden collection of items among the belongings of a friend or family member—notably coins and jewelry—as described on the FBI webpage about the crimes?

The subject, who may be 60-75 years old now, was described as a White male standing approximately five feet, ten inches tall, with blond or light brown hair and an athletic build. He may have had an interest or training in military or law enforcement techniques as he was familiar and proficient with firearms.

People who know the subject may not believe him capable of such crimes. He may not have exhibited violent tendencies or have a criminal history.

Detectives have DNA evidence from some of the crime scenes which can either positively link or exclude a suspect. This enables investigators to quickly exclude innocent parties and the public should not hesitate to provide information—even if it is the name or address of an individual who resided in the areas of the crimes—as many parties will be quickly excluded by a simple, non-invasive test.

Between 1976 and 1986, this single subject committed 12 homicides, approximately 45 rapes, and multiple residential burglaries in the state of California. All of the crimes have been linked by DNA and/or details of the crimes. His victims ranged in age from 13 to 41 and included women home alone, women at home with their children, and couples.

The subject was active in the greater Sacramento area from June 1976 to February 1978. Burglaries and rapes began occurring in the Sacramento area during the summer of 1976. During these crimes, the subject would ransack the homes of his victims and take small items such as coins, jewelry, and identification. These cases include the homes of families, couples, and single women; burglaries in a neighborhood tended to precede clusters of sexual assaults. On February 2, 1978, Rancho Cordova couple Sergeant Brian Maggiore and his wife, Katie, were on an evening walk with their dog, chased by the subject who overcame the couple, and shot at close range.

His activity continued primarily in the East Bay Area of Northern California in 1979 and, by October 1979, his activity escalated into rapes and homicides/attempted homicides along the California Coast with homicides in Goleta (October 10, 1979, December 3, 1979, and July 27, 1981), Ventura (March 16, 1980), Laguna Niguel (August 19, 1980), and Irvine (February 6, 1981 and May 5, 1986). During the commission of the homicides, the subject tied up both victims, raped the female victim, and then murdered the couple.

After July of 1981, no associated incidents are known to have been reported for five years. In 1986, an 18-year-old woman was raped and murdered in Irvine. No additional crimes have been connected to the subject after this incident.

A graphic illustrating the general location of these crimes is available on the FBI’s webpage.

Law enforcement is seeking any information that may help identify the subject, dubbed the “East Area Rapist” in Sacramento. He has also been called the “Original Night Stalker,” “Diamond Knot Killer,” and, more recently, the “Golden State Killer.” Individuals with information about the subject may call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Additionally, information may be submitted to the FBI’s online tip line, tips.fbi.gov.


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Oldest Living Female Veteran Honored by American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary

By Elise Spleiss  |  2016-06-28

Balmer holds a plaque recognizing her as the oldest living female member of the American Legion.  Her nephew, Ken Hicks holds her certificate of lifetime membership. 
--Photo by Brenda Hicks

Lynn Balmer is 108 years old, going on 109.  She was recently honored as the oldest female veteran still alive in the United States, and the oldest living female member of the American Legion in the country.

Balmer was a Lieutenant in the US Coast Guard, working Intelligence during WWII.  She was a high school math teacher in 1942 in Albany, CA when she answered the call by her government for mathematicians able to read and interpret weather maps and charts. She worked out of a secret base in Connecticut helping to safely navigate US ships on the least dangerous route from the United States to England. Upon discharge in 1945, she moved to Seattle, Washington where she met and married her husband, Charles Balmer.

Balmer was honored in April by American Legion Post 709, Rancho Cordova where she is a member, as the oldest living member of the American Legion.  She is also the oldest American Legion Auxiliary member in the United States, receiving a lifetime membership from Auxiliary Unit Citrus 637.  Niece Brenda Hicks of Citrus Heights describes her great aunt as still being “as bright as can be.”

Lynn was also a professional ice skater, performing in the Ice Capades before and after WWII.

Balmer’s nephew, Ken Hicks of Citrus Heights, describes his aunt as “an extremely sharp woman.”

She now resides in a care facility in Chico, CA.  As a graduate of Chico State University, Balmer also holds the distinction of being the oldest living graduate of any of the California State Universities.  She will be 109 in September.


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Sheriff Takes Aim at Criminal Justice Realignment

Story and Photos by Margaret Snider  |  2016-06-24

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (left), with Jane Toff of Toastmasters International and Kyle Macdonald, Jones’s campaign manager in his bid for Congress.

As guest speaker at the Rancho Cordova luncheon on June 17, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones spoke bluntly. “In my entire career I have never seen the criminal justice system or public safety challenged as much as it is right now,” Jones said. “It’s been a sequence of events and mindsets that transitioned us to where we are.”

Going back to realignment in the 2011 time-frame, Jones said, the Supreme Court insisted the State prison system must reduce the prison population by a certain number by a certain date. “There are really only two ways to reduce prison population,” Jones said. “You close the front door, or you open the back door.”

The State’s efforts to respond to the court’s ultimatum resulted in realignment and Proposition 47. Closing the front door left criminals on the street, their felonies changed to misdemeanors, and prisoners were sent to County jails instead of State prisons. Opening the back door resulted in more criminals receiving early release. Titled the safe neighborhoods and schools act, Proposition 47 had nothing to do with safe neighborhoods and schools, Jones said. “I believe Prop 47 was the worst piece of public safety legislation in my lifetime. We’re going to be feeling the effects of that for a long, long time.”

Jane Taff, club growth director for Toastmasters International, agreed with much of Jones’s talk.  “We are not being told the whole truth about propositions that are placed on the ballot or the effects of (the Governor’s) executive orders,” Taff said.

Jones thought of running for Congress only after the 2014 murder of Sacramento Deputy Danny Oliver. The alleged perpetrator was in the country illegally, had been convicted in Arizona of selling drugs, and had been deported multiple times. Jones’s video plea for immigration reform to President Obama went viral on YouTube. “I realized that I could throw rocks from afar as much as I want,” Jones said, “but unless I get in the ring and actually get my knuckles bloody, then there’s nothing I could do for Sacramento for the things that I wanted to change.”

Rancho Cordova’s Chief of Police, Michael Goold, said that Jones would bring a unique viewpoint to Congress, “able to provide firsthand knowledge of the challenges we face on the local level and what we need to succeed in providing community based policing.”


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Vision Test for Pre-Schoolers

Story and Photos by Steve Liddick  |  2016-06-24

Public health nurse Kiyo Sato shows pre-school children at the Edward Kelley School in Rancho Cordova her Blackbird Screening System tools. They include cardboard glasses with flaps that allow a child to see a flash card one eye at a time. 
--Photo by Steve Liddick.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that three-percent of children in the U.S. suffer from amblyopia (lazy eye). If not corrected by the age of four, it is often irreversible. The organization’s survey further reports that only 25-percent of preschool children receive vision testing of any kind.

How do you check the vision of a small child who has not yet developed communication skills and has the attention span of a butterfly?

In 1975 Kiyo Sato had tried everything she could find to test the vision of children from three to five-years-old. “Nothing was working,” she said. “Nothing I could find on the market.” The standard eye test uses letters preschoolers have not yet learned and images they may not be able to identify.

So the public health nurse took matters into her own hands. She invented the Blackbird Vision Screening System. Kiyo’s method starts out by the telling an interesting story about blackbirds swooping back and forth, up and down. Then she incorporates the animated tale with a series of flash cards with the image of a blackbird in flight to determine whether a child has a vision deficiency.

The subject sits exactly 20-feet away from the tester. They wear cardboard glasses with flaps that allow them to see out of each eye separately. As the images shown get progressively smaller, the child indicates the direction the blackbird is flying: up, down, left or right. In that way the tester is able to determine whether the child needs corrective lenses.

Enthusiastic youthful bystanders often get into the procedure. “Up,” shouts one youngster.

“It’s Kaspar’s turn,” their teacher said. “You’ll get your chance.”

“The children have fun doing it,” Kiyo said. “Also, they are trying to get my attention.”

Indeed, Kiyo Sato has that special way of relating to young people. They like and trust her. “They know me as a friend and share personal things with me,” she said. “There is an openness that is so remarkable and I enjoy that.”

Of the 16 children tested at a recent session, two youngsters, or approximately 12-percent of the group, were found to suffer from amblyopia and would need medical attention to correct the lazy eye condition.

In the four decades since Kiyo’s original inspiration she has used her system to test thousands of children.

As successful as the program has been in weeding out vision problems among the young, it has not attracted the interest of institutions such as the World Health Organization, which uses old standard testing programs that are ineffective for children as young as those who have benefitted from the Blackbird system. A letter in response to a recommendation to the agency about Blackbird said, “We are well covered for vision screening.”

On this day, Kiyo Sato has set up at the historic Edward Kelley School on Bradshaw Boulevard in Rancho Cordova. The school was built in 1869 and has been in service ever since, although it is now a pre-school facility.

Ironically, the school is where Kiyo, herself, got her early education. She attended from 1930 to 1937. “It was the best education I got in my whole life,” she said, standing on the very stage where she received her eighth grade graduation diploma 79 years ago.

The years since have been a long, hard journey: Kiyo was incarcerated with all west coast Japanese-Americans during World War II, became a registered nurse, raised four adopted children on her own, invented the Blackbird System, wrote a book about her family’s imprisonment (Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream), and continues, at the age of 92, as one of the oldest active nurses in the nation.

For more information about the Blackbird Vision Screening System, go to: http://www.blackbirdvision.com/how_it_works.htm


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Officer Involved Shooting in Carmichael

Source: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department  |  2016-06-24

At 11:00 p.m. on June 18, 2016, a Sheriff’s deputy observed a vehicle driving erratically in the area of El Camino Avenue and Walnut Avenue in Carmichael. The deputy attempted to pull over the suspect vehicle when a pursuit ensued. The pursuit continued for approximately four to five minutes, with the suspect vehicle reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in residential areas.

The suspect turned south on Horton Lane south of Sutter Avenue. The roadway turned into a dead end, where deputies exited their car and gave commands for the suspect to exit the vehicle. The suspect then put his car in reverse and began to accelerate. A deputy fearing for the safety of the officers behind the suspect’s vehicle discharged his firearm at the suspect. The suspect sustained gunshot wounds and was taken out of his vehicle. Deputies immediately began life saving measures. Sacramento Metro Fire responded and pronounced the suspect deceased at the scene.

The identity of the suspect in this case will be made available by the Sacramento County Coroner’s office, after notification has been made to his next of kin.

The investigation into the incident will be conducted by the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and Professional Standards Division, which is standard practice for any officer-involved shooting that occurs in the Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction. The deputy involved in the shooting is a 12 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. In accordance with the Sheriff’s Department policies and procedures, the deputy involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation. The deputy is currently assigned to the field services division.


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Two Dogs and One Bird Perish in Arden-Area House Fire

Source: Michelle Eidam, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District  |  2016-06-22

Four fire engines, two trucks, two medics, and two battalion chiefs worked quickly to search for victims, extinguish the fire, and protect nearby homes.

Wednesday, June 15th, around 9:30 this morning, Metro Fire crews were dispatched for a kitchen fire on the 2100 block of Red Robin Lane in the Arden area. Strong winds blowing through windows quickly spread the kitchen fire to the rest of this small house, and fire crews arrived to find a home well-involved with fire.

Four fire engines, two trucks, two medics, and two battalion chiefs worked quickly to search for victims, extinguish the fire, and protect nearby homes. Their strategic fire attack successfully contained the fire to the house of origin, with minimal charring to the exterior of an adjacent home. Firefighters pulled two dogs and one bird out of the fire and attempted to resuscitate them, but they did not survive. The cause of the fire was determined to be unattended cooking, with total damage estimated at $50,000.

Our thoughts go out to the resident who lost her pets and much of her home today.

Cooking remains the number one cause of home fires, causing more injuries than any other type of fire. Knowing what to do can make all the difference. Never leave unattended food cooking on the stove, even for a short time. If you encounter a small grease fire, leave the pan where it is, turn off the heat, and put a lid on it. If you can’t get a lid on the pan, use a fire extinguisher or call 911. For more information, check out www.metrofire.ca.gov.


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