The Corruption Report: US Political Corruption at the Local, State & Federal Levels

It is our civic duty to know what our government is doing. For many unfortunate people in our nation, such reading material is a too familiar synopsis of what hell they have personally experienced at the hands of biased, bullying, and corrupt government officials at all levels of government. Knowledge is power. With action at the voting booth, we can begin to make a difference. Speak out. Resist. We all deserve a true democracy – nothing less.

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The Facebook Hearing, the ‘Tech Company’ Misnomer, and the Luddite Gap in Congress

It’s ridiculous to suggest that Facebook should independently monitor every third party’s advertisement on its site to make sure that the advertiser and the ad are legitimate, authentic, and safe for general consumption; but frankly between its “flag” feature where users can report problematic ads or behavior on the platform, its Artificial Intelligence surveillance, and its team of 10,000+ ad auditors (which Zuckerberg stated in the Senate that he’s increasing to 20,000 soon), Facebook is doing exactly that. So what more could we reasonably ask? On top of that, it’s Facebook users who are choosing to share so much private information about themselves with the public on their Facebook profiles!

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This Time We Must Support the Brave Protesters In Iran Seeking Democracy

All is not well in Iran. Quite the contrary, life in Iran for the people there is fear, poverty, dirt, disease, and corruption. Its pathetic statistical standing in world rankings in all such areas are facts. The voice of the people in the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran is rising again. We who fight with drones and missiles, we whose primary military-political export is regime change allegedly in the name of Democracy, must offer this linchpin nation in the Middle East far more than President Trump’s words that “the world is watching”.

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Of Empires and Colonies: Oliver Stone’s “Untold History of the United States”

Having just finished watching on Netflix the 12-part documentary by Oliver Stone, “Untold History of the United States” (2012), I find myself amazed. At risk of coming off as conceited, I am amazed at myself and at my many history teachers: for how did I, having studied Western history at the highest quality grade schools, university, graduate schools, and law school, having been an exceptional and curious student, and having continued to study such topics as history and politics well past my academic years, not know so much of the essential information gifted us in this documentary (and its companion 700-page book) by famed film-maker Mr. Stone and co-author Peter Kuznick, an American University historian?

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Precedented: Mr. Trump Fits Perfectly into US History of Elitism, Nepotism, and Corruption.

With few tools at our disposal, we must use them maximally and wisely: Protest, resist, vote, and support businesses that reflect your politics. Most importantly, let’s not make Mr. Trump into some sort of lightning rod. The corruption and anti-democratic actions of US politics is a much bigger story than our current President. Our resistance efforts should be similarly multi-pronged.

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Resisting Brother Trump is Futile

Mr. Trump, seemingly in lockstep with Orwell’s Party, is determined to deport millions of Mexican immigrants and keep them out with a giant border wall and to ban Muslims from entering the USA. Mr. Trump’s fans fervently love many or all of these ideas and remind one of 1984’s proles who turn out en masse to gleefully watch public executions of enemies of the state.

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Islamophobia requires our response

Middle Eastern Americans are removed from U.S. airlines ostensibly for speaking Arabic on board. Muslims are attacked outside U.S. mosques. Whispers and sometimes shouts of “terrorist” follow them in their daily lives. Their ethnicity is used against them in their jobs, in the courts, in relationships, in everyday business transactions. The stereotype is that they are dangerous, hateful and backward. Ugly epithets are flung at them. Where is the community outrage?

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Argo's Iranophobia and the Destabilization of Iran for Oil Profits and Regional Domination

US history is finally clear on the fact that the CIA paid mercenary Iranians to cause riots and protest the leadership of Iran in 1953 when the USA subversively overthrew Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh, and replaced him with the monarchy of the Shah in order to promote the USA’s own oil interests in the region. Of course, the US administration in 1953 internally justified its own shameful actions as promoting democracy in Iran, whatever that means.

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Je ne suis pas Charlie: Hate Speech amidst “Freedom” Rhetoric

In short, the USA and all the world’s nations stand to benefit from intelligently drafting and fairly enforcing laws that restrict and punish hate speech whilst upholding free speech to ensure that political, social, and artistic creativity flourish and racism and illegal discrimination are eradicated from the public domain. Laws rationally banning public hate speech can be drafted and should be drafted, for nobody can doubt the power and efficacy of the pen. Surely we can all learn this lesson from the martyred artists of Charlie Hebdo, may they rest in peace.

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Tort Reform, Defamation of Character, Depression in the Technology Age, and Other Modern Ethical Qualms

Indeed, technology is a double-edged sword. Perhaps part of the litigiousness of our nation, and especially of California, New York, and New Jersey, is caused by the ultimate distance that technology has placed between us, what with people feeling far more heady and sharp-tongued to slash and burn at each other’s character, business, and style on the internet’s social media sites, review sites, video posting sites, and all their comment sections, not to mention through the modes of email, text message, and of course the telephone.

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Unwanted Refugees: Racism against Middle Eastern-Americans Requires a Public Response

What can we, as Middle Eastern-Americans, expect from our new home’s cultural perceptions of us but antagonism? Whispers and sometimes shouts of “terrorist” follow us in our daily lives. Our Middle Eastern ethnicity is used as a stereotype against us in our jobs, in courtrooms, in our relationships, in day-to-day business transactions, such that we are painted as dangerous, hateful, and backwards. When we are called ugly epithets, such as “sand-n****r” or “dune-c**n”, there is no public outrage.

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Artisanal Coffee and Chocolate: My Silent Partners

I am convinced that the San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the best coffee roasters in the world. The Bay Area has Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, Thanksgiving, Barefoot, Verve, Sight Glass, Bicycle, Ritual, Roast, and the Johnny-Come-Lately of the group and my personal favorite, Wrecking Ball. After watching Amy Ferraris’ fun documentary, The Perfect Cappuccino, I was tempted to do my own little taste test among my favorite roasters in the area.

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MiscellaneousAli Shahrestani
No Housing, No Arts, No Community! — Oakland’s “Ghost Ship” Fire Born of Rental Pandemic

To stop the inevitable migration of artists, middle class families, and progressive white collar professionals from our nation’s cosmopolitan centers to outskirt towns and emerging middle American metro-areas, we need more aggressive housing safety regulations, much more expansive rent-control laws, and more affordable housing projects in Oakland and the cities across the nation like it, from Brooklyn, NY and Somerville, MA to LA, Austin, Seattle, and Portland.

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Business LawAli Shahrestani
How Lawyers Work and Get Paid

Almost all lawyers typically get paid on an hourly basis, and in major metropolitan areas that is usually at the average rate of $300 to $500 per hour. They collect upfront down payments, sometimes called Retainers or Advance Fees, from their clients, out of which they earn money for every minute of billable work they perform for the client. Billable work typically refers to work directly related to the client’s representation, such as reading documents, communicating with the client or related parties, researching facts or the law, thinking about and discussing the client’s case, writing documents, representing the client in court, arguing with opposing parties or lawyers, and so on.

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Lowering the Age of Consent is a Children's Rights Issue

It is this sense of control over children that pervades the US legal system’s treatment of minors in every part of their lives, including their ability to unilaterally and without parental supervision or approval partake in many activities until they reach the Age of Consent set by each state. In so many other nations and throughout time including the present, children under the age of 18 have been working professionally in various types of jobs, getting married, having sex, raising their own children, running companies, and even ruling nations. We know that children are better educated now than at any other time in history. Arguably with the kinds of experiences and information that they can access in the world today and especially online, children are more in touch with who they are, their place in the world, what they believe, and what they want to accomplish: all the hallmarks of maturity.

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What Real Democracy Looks Like: You at Your Laptop Making Stuff Happen

Ok, your street needs paving, and it’s been pockmarked with potholes for a while. Your air smells like sewage, so it’s time to look into your county’s wastewater treatment center. Or you need a better source of electricity in your state than you’re currently getting. So what do you do? Wait for your politician to do something about it, right?

Wrong! Because you’ll be old and gray before that happens, as we all know. But this is representative democracy at its finest. And representative democracy is really just a bunch of baloney parading around as democracy. It’s basically oligarchy — a political system where a small group of people (e.g., career politicians, the rich, the well-connected) control the government.

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So You Want to Be a Lawyer?

Often, I receive calls and emails from young men and women in high school, college, and law school seeking advice and mentorship regarding a hoped-for or pending law career. Now in early January mere days before so many law school applications are due, I write this short article for them. Here are some basic pointers and truths about the practice of law.

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