Archives for July 2017

Feds Spend Millions on Failed Program to Combat Extremism in America

Obama knew how to waste tax dollars and create thousands of new government workers—people the Democrat party needed.  Looks like the Trump Administration is ending the fraud and corruption of Obama and his buddies.  And, it will end phony Federal programs Obama set up to “fight” terrorism—when all they were doing is a publicity stunt to make the public believe Barack was against terrorism.

“The U.S. government has spent millions in taxpayer dollars on programs to combat violent extremism, despite the absence of evidence these programs have prevented the growth of terrorists in the United States, according to Congress, which criticized the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for enacting policy preventing its authorities from referencing “Islam” and “Islamic terrorism.”

The FBI and DHS are still providing upwards of $10 million dollars to fund a slew of community organizations committed to countering the rise of homegrown terrorism. Nevertheless there is little evidence these programs have had an impact, and in some cases, the money has been awarded to “partisan” organizations that have ties to the anti-Israel movement and radical groups such as Black Lives Matter, according to Congress.

Yup, Obama was financing the violence and hatred of the Black Lives Matter totalitarian movement.  Is this how you want your money spent—to promote riots?

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Feds Spend Millions on Failed Program to Combat Extremism in America

FBI, DHS preventing its authorities from referring to ‘Islam,’ ‘Islamic terrorism’

BY: Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon,  7/28/17
The matter sparked a heated debate Thursday between congressional officials on the House National Security Subcommittee and senior law enforcement officials in the Trump administration.

Lawmakers accused DHS and the FBI of relying on Obama-era policies that downplay Islamic terrorism, despite clear guidance from the Trump administration that it does not support this approach.

Law enforcement anti-extremism training manuals—which were codified under an Obama-era program known as Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE—continue to ban the use of such terms as “Islamic extremism.”

While government reports have concluded that these programs are a failure, federal agencies continue to rely on them, sparking concern in Congress amid an uptick in domestic terrorism cases.

The FBI continues to have active terrorism investigations in all 50 states and at least 128 individuals have been charged in the last three years of attempting to aid ISIS.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), chair of the subcommittee on national security, verbally sparred with officials from DHS and FBI, who continue to maintain that these CVE programs have been a success.

“Radical Islamic extremism is the primary driver of this problem and deserves the federal government’s immediate attention,” DeSantis said during the hearing.

“Currently, [DHS] still follows the Obama-era policies related to CVE,” DeSantis added. “The guidance developed during the Obama administration specifically limits any intelligence or law enforcement investigative activity through CVE.”

“The government manuals, they will not mention radical Islam, they don’t use anything associated with the word Islam,” he said.

“By leaving this information on the table, CVE efforts are potentially missing opportunities to identify and disrupt terrorist plots,” DeSantis said. “Obama era guidance also fails to properly identify the threat of radical Islamic ideology.”

The Obama-era guidance on the matter, which is still being used, “does not even mention radical Islamic terrorism at all,” DeSantis said.

Grants totaling some $10 million for community organizations that are part of the CVE effort are still being awarded to groups with “questionable agendas,” DeSantis said, noting instances in which grants were given to partisan organizations and those with stated anti-Israel agendas.

DHS has declined to share information on these grant recipients with Congress and also has refused multiple requests from these lawmakers for a briefing on the situation, DeSantis disclosed.

Experts who testified alongside officials from DHS and the FBI also described the CVE programs as a failure.

“The time has come to definitely have a more direct approach,” said Raheel Raza, president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, which seeks to counter extremist ideologies. “Fluff stuff and interfaith dialogue hasn’t really led to much deradicalization. There needs to be specific policies put in place that tackle the ideology.”

Raza also called on Congress to formally designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization due to its efforts to foment radical ideologies.

Raza pointed to polls showing that 27 percent of Muslims support the execution of non-believers, while around 26 percent of young American Muslims believe that suicide bombing against non-Muslims can be justified.

 

Walters: California workers’ compensation system plagued by high costs and fraud

By definition, government is mismanaged, incompetent and/or corrupt—usually all three.  The Workers Comp system, controlled by government is no exception.

“prosecuted and reported that they totaled more than $1 billion. But authorities believe that prosecutions merely are the tip of the iceberg.

Why Southern California? Its large numbers of immigrant workers are easily persuaded by recruitment agents, called “cappers,” to file claims that allow unscrupulous lawyers and medical providers to milk inflated payments for nonexistent injuries.

Isn’t it time for Sacramento to get out of this business—one that is in conjunction with major corporations and unions?

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California workers’ compensation system plagued by high costs and fraud

By Dan Walters, CalMatters, 7/23/17

 

The progressive era of California government a century ago spawned many innovative reforms, among them a “grand compromise” between the state’s workers and their employers.

Under “workers’ compensation,” enacted in 1914, workers would give up their right to sue employers for injuries and in return, employers would be obligated to pay for medical care and provide cash benefits while disabled employees recuperated.

Today, work comp, as it’s dubbed, is a huge program – well over $20 billion a year – whose operating rules are a source of perennial political jousting.

Five major stakeholder groups – employers, insurers, labor unions, medical care providers and lawyers who specialize in work comp cases – maneuver incessantly behind the scenes. About once a decade, several of the big interests agree among themselves on rules changes and get the Legislature and the governor to enact them.

Usually, what’s called “reform” involves financial gains for its sponsors and financial hits on those left out of the deal. It last happened in 2012 when employers and unions, with the tacit approval of work comp insurers, agreed to raise cash benefits and pay for them by tightening medical care and rehabilitation services. It angered medical providers and lawyers, of course, but followup studies indicate it’s done what it was supposed to do.

However, it still left California employers with – by far – the nation’s highest work comp burden. The 2016 annual survey of costs by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services kept California in the No. 1 spot with an average cost of 3.24 percent of payroll for work comp insurance, 76 percent above the national average.

Obviously, working in California is not inherently more dangerous than in other states, and cash benefits to disabled California workers are not out of line, so the enormous cost differential must be rooted in the system itself, which explains why its rules are the subject of constant political infighting.

One factor in those costs is what officials say is an enormous amount of fraud, concentrated in Southern California.

Last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting reviewed work comp fraud cases that had been prosecuted and reported that they totaled more than $1 billion. But authorities believe that prosecutions merely are the tip of the iceberg.

Why Southern California? Its large numbers of immigrant workers are easily persuaded by recruitment agents, called “cappers,” to file claims that allow unscrupulous lawyers and medical providers to milk inflated payments for nonexistent injuries.

The Legislature occasionally addresses fraud. Last year, Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Cerritos, carried legislation to prevent medical providers charged with work comp fraud from making claims for payment until their cases are settled, citing “fraudulent or unnecessary surgeries and compound medicines, as well as the selling of patient referrals to lawyers and doctors.”

The continuing litany of cases underscores that concern. Just last month, Orange County prosecutors filed fraud charges against 10 attorneys and six others in an alleged scheme involving more than 33,000 “patients” for which more than $300 million in insurance payments had been made. Two months earlier, Orange County had busted a similar operation, bringing charges against more than two dozen doctors, pharmacists and business owners.

The “grand compromise” is just as valid today as it was in 1914, but it could collapse if costs – and the fraud and other unseemly aspects of work comp that drive them – are not tamed. The next overhaul should be systemic, not just another backroom deal.

 

Rapidly growing hyperloop industry offers alternative to California high-speed rail

Confused Guv Brown wants to spend $200 billion on the corrupt, mismanaged scam called High Speed Rail, from L.A. to San.  No idea where the money comes from—in fifteen years not a single private investor has been willing to invest a dime in this failed effort.  Then you have the hyperloop from Elon Musk—he could build a system from L.A. to San Fran, for $190 billion—most from private investors.  Which do you think is the best deal?

“Hyperloop promises to be both faster and cheaper than high-speed rail. The California High-Speed Rail project is supposed to transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours 40 minutes, but actual travel time will be limited due to the cost-saving decision to use existing track at the northern and southern ends of the system. With a maximum speed of 760mph, hyperloop could theoretically cover the required distance in well below one hour.

Elon Musk estimated that a California hyperloop system would cost $6 billion to transport passengers and $7.5 billion for passengers plus cargo. This compares quite favorably to the $64 billion projected for the high-speed rail project.

More recently, Transpod has estimated that a hyperloop system in Ontario would cost CAD 29 million per kilometer, which is equivalent to USD 37 million per mile. Applying this rate to California – an assumption that CEO Sebastien Gendron told me would be a good first approximation – and assuming a total phase one length of 520 miles, a California hyperloop would cost about $19 billion.”

Why is failed government involved in the first place—imagine if Brown wanted to create Facebook—you know it would be a disaster.

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Rapidly growing hyperloop industry offers alternative to California high-speed rail

By Marc Joffe, California Policy Center,  7/26/17
Since Elon Musk introduced hyperloop in 2012, several startups have been formed to commercialize the technology. Hyperloop is a 21st century approach to intercity travel in which pods fly through sealed, low pressure tubes at speeds of up to 760mph. Although a large amount of hyperloop research is occurring in California, our state government is ignoring it while pressing ahead with a costly high-speed rail project that is based on mid-20th century technology.

The two largest hyperloop companies are based in Los Angeles County. Hyperloop One has raised $141 million in capital thus far. After some internal friction, the firm appears to be gaining momentum, recently announcing a successful test run at its development facility near Las Vegas. The company reported levitating a pod and accelerating it to a speed of 70mph during a 5.3 second run. Its next goal is to reach a speed of 250mph with a passenger on board.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has raised $30 million. While headquartered in Los Angeles County, the company has remote teams scattered around the world. It is partnering with several foreign governments to conduct hyperloop feasibility studies. HTT has announced agreements with public agencies in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Hyperloop One is also active in the UAE where it is planning to build a link between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The third largest hyperloop company – as measured by reported equity funding – is Toronto-based Transpod which has raised $15 million. Transpod’s initial goal is to build a line connecting Toronto with Windsor. The firm recently published a study showing that its system would cost 50% less than a high-speed rail system under consideration by the province. If it succeeds in Ontario, the company hopes to extend service into the United States, with possible destinations including Detroit, Buffalo and ultimately New York City.

Although Elon Musk did not form his own hyperloop company, he has remained a key player in the technology’s development. His rocket company, SpaceX, holds periodic design competition in which university-based teams test their designs in front of judges selected by the company. In a previous article, we profiled HyperXite, a hyperloop design team based at UC Irvine. Other California schools that have hyperloop teams include Sacramento State University and UC Santa Barbara. These three Golden State teams will be competing with 21 others in SpaceX’s second hyperloop competition weekend August 25-27.

Musk has also discussed hyperloop in connection with his latest venture, The Boring Company.  This endeavor aims to lower the cost of tunneling below and between cities. One tunneling project Musk has proposed is an underground link between New York and Washington, DC that could be traversed by hyperloop pods in less than 30 minutes.

There are at least two other players in the commercial hyperloop space. Los Angeles-based Arrivo was recently founded by Brogan BamBrogan, the former CTO of Hyperloop One. Finally, a Dutch team that won the first SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition has formed Hardt Global Mobility with €600,000 in startup capital. One early investor is NS, the main Dutch railway operator.

Hyperloop vs. High Speed Rail

Although hyperloop is not yet a practical transportation alternative, the amount of research and investment going into the technology strongly suggest that it will become viable within a few years. Since we cannot expect California High-Speed Rail service to start until at least 2025, it is reasonable to compare these two alternatives: one or both could play a major role in transporting passengers and cargo between California cities by the middle of this century.

Hyperloop promises to be both faster and cheaper than high-speed rail. The California High-Speed Rail project is supposed to transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2 hours 40 minutes, but actual travel time will be limited due to the cost-saving decision to use existing track at the northern and southern ends of the system. With a maximum speed of 760mph, hyperloop could theoretically cover the required distance in well below one hour.

Elon Musk estimated that a California hyperloop system would cost $6 billion to transport passengers and $7.5 billion for passengers plus cargo. This compares quite favorably to the $64 billion projected for the high-speed rail project.

More recently, Transpod has estimated that a hyperloop system in Ontario would cost CAD 29 million per kilometer, which is equivalent to USD 37 million per mile. Applying this rate to California – an assumption that CEO Sebastien Gendron told me would be a good first approximation – and assuming a total phase one length of 520 miles, a California hyperloop would cost about $19 billion.

Some of Hyperloop’s advantages stem from the system’s lighter weight. Transpod’s analysis assumes that the 28-passenger pods will weigh 10 tons, but this may be conservative. One team at the SpaceX competition estimated that its pods would weigh less than one ton.

While we don’t yet know the weight of future California high-speed rail trains, we can use Amtrak Acela weights as an indication. Acela is currently the highest speed train in North America, operating up to 150 mph. Acela cars weigh about 64 tons each and have 65 seats. A typical Acela train has six passenger cars and two power cars (e.g. locomotives) which weigh over 100 tons each. Two of the six passenger cars have reduced capacity: one serves as a café car and the other contains the first-class cabin. An entire Acela trainset weighs about 586 tons and can carry 304 passengers.

Hyperloop pods weigh less per passenger and much less overall than high-speed rail trains. This confers two important advantages. First, it is more practical and less costly for hyperloop tubes to be elevated. While high-speed rail tracks at ground level necessitate the condemnation of large amounts of farmland, hyperloop tubes can be mounted on pylons. Tractors and agricultural workers can easily move between sections of a farm bisected by elevated hyperloop tubes – making it much less disruptive to Central Valley agriculture.

In urban areas, hyperloop can be more easily grade-separated thereby eliminating the need for railroad crossings. Ground level railroad intersections block traffic and often cause injuries and deaths to drivers and pedestrians. Under the blended system proposed for the San Jose to San Francisco segment of high-speed rail, Caltrain and high-speed rail trains will pass through more than three dozen grade crossings, causing massive inconvenience.

Hyperloop also promises drastically reduced noise pollution. When a train approaches a grade crossing, federal regulations require the engineer to sound its horn twice at a volume of between 96 and 115 decibels. If a city makes expensive grade crossing improvements, it may be able to obtain a quiet zone designation – exempting it from the horn sounding requirement, but engineers still have the option to sound their horns in quiet zones if they see potential danger. In addition to sound from horns, trains also make noise as they pass by. High-speed rail trains operating at maximum speed produce upwards of 100 decibels of sound within a 100-foot radius. By contrast, hyperloop pods operating within a sealed tube are unlikely to generate significant levels of exterior noise.

The much lighter weight of hyperloop also translates into reduced energy use. In his original hyperloop white paper, Elon Musk estimated that the system would consume 50 megajoules of energy for each passenger journey, compared to over 800 MJ per passenger journey for train travel. Musk contends that hyperloop’s energy consumption is low enough that its power could be fully supplied by solar panels mounted on the tubes. By contrast, California high-speed rail would require over 13 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year when fully built out (based on estimates of 21.1 million trainset miles and 63 kwh per trainset mile in HSR’s 2012 business plan).

Further Investigation Needed

Since hyperloop has yet to be implemented, this discussion is admittedly speculative. At the same time, hyperloop has now attracted upwards of $200 million in capital and the attention of many serious engineers. As a result, it is becoming harder to dismiss, as high-speed rail proponents initially did.

Under the circumstances, it would be wise for the state to commission an independent study of hyperloop’s prospects and applicability to California intercity travel. If an independent body determines that hyperloop has a high probability of becoming viable, it could recommend changes to the high-speed rail authority’s business plan that would enable it to leverage this exciting new technology.

You can learn more about hyperloop and its advantages over high-speed rail on Tuesday. October 24 at 6:30pm, when California Policy Center and the Lincoln Network hold a forum on this topic in San Francisco.

Triggered: Hollywood Liberal Was Not Happy With Steve Bannon’s Higher Tax Proposal On The Wealthy

The very rich were major donors to Hillary and the Democrat Party in 2016.  The rich wanted you to pay higher taxes, you to lose your job if it meant lowered carbon footprints—and at the same time they got $500 million from Sacramento to finance their films and TV shows—the California taxpayers financing the hate filled, anti-freedom Hollywood message.  Now they are upset that a major White House official is suggesting a 5% increase in their taxes.

“Well, for one Hollywood liberal, Debra Messing, her resistance inner-self prompted her to take to social media, denouncing the proposed 44 percent tax rate as “disgusting.” That’s quite a stark difference from her April 20, 2016 tweet, where she said “I pay a s**tload of taxes. And I’m happy to.” It’s another case of Trump derangement syndrome.

Maybe Congress should create a new tax category, “Hate America taxes” for Messing and her friends?

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Triggered: Hollywood Liberal Was Not Happy With Steve Bannon’s Higher Tax Proposal On The Wealthy

 

Matt Vespa, Townhall,  7/27/17

 

Earlier this month, Axios reported that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was mulling higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for substantial middle class tax cuts. It’s a populist idea. The publication added that if tax reform doesn’t get done this year, it would probably never happen. Moreover, the thought is that when Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, knows the effort is dead, he’ll make his way to the exit:

Steve Bannon is causing a stir inside the administration by pushing an idea that’s anathema to most Republicans: raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for steep middle and working-class tax cuts. (Some officials who’ve heard Bannon’s idea think it’s crazy, but the President’s chief strategist believes it’s a potent populist idea.)

Bannon has told colleagues he wants the top income tax bracket to “have a 4 in front of it.” (The top bracket is currently 39.6% for Americans who earn more than $418,400.)

Lobbyists who have met with Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin say they’ve been struck by how impatient the two appear:

Cohn has told associates that if tax reform doesn’t get done this year, it’s probably never going to happen.

Sources who know Cohn speculate that he’ll leave the White House the instant he concludes tax reform is dead.

While Cohn and Mnuchin differ stylistically — Cohn is brash and physically imposing while Mnuchin is mild-mannered — sources who’ve been meeting with them say they share the same philosophy: Go big or go home.

The site added that there appears to be a shift in the notion that the tax cuts should be revenue neutral, adding that they may be comfortable with tax cuts that last over a quarter century that doesn’t involve balancing the budget. Axios also noted that the last time tax reform was accomplished was in 1986 under Reagan, but that was a two-year endeavor when the two parties were different and the GOP was stumbling over another health care reform, like they are now, bumbling their way to a final bill, which will almost certainly disappoint conservatives.

Now, The Intercept is reporting the same thing:

Top White House adviser Steve Bannon is pushing for tax reform to include a new 44 percent top marginal tax rate, hitting people who earn more than $5 million a year, with the revenue paying for tax cuts for the rest, according to three people who’ve spoken to him recently.

The top rate is now 39.6 percent and most Republicans have been planning to lower it significantly as part of tax reform. The plan Trump put out previously would have only three brackets, with the top one brought down to 35 percent.

Raising taxes on the very rich has been a rare policy that President Donald Trump has publicly espoused throughout much of his life. On Tuesday, he told the Wall Street Journal, “if there’s upward revision it’s going to be on high-income people.”

“I have wealthy friends that say to me, ‘I don’t mind paying more tax,’” he said. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was pressed on Trump’s comment at a televised briefing Wednesday, and said that further specifics of the plan would be released shortly, with an emphasis on tax cuts for the middle class.

Well, for one Hollywood liberal, Debra Messing, her resistance inner-self prompted her to take to social media, denouncing the proposed 44 percent tax rate as “disgusting.” That’s quite a stark difference from her April 20, 2016 tweet, where she said “I pay a s**tload of taxes. And I’m happy to.” It’s another case of Trump derangement syndrome.

 

California High Court Reinforces Environmental Review of Rail Projects

The State Supreme Court will have the environmental issues in regards to the choo choo to nowhere, again.  In the past, it had ruled that California environmental rules must be those used for the building of the scam.  Actually, that gives the Feds and Trump the ability to say no to further funding and no to any requested exemptions wanted by the confused Guv Brown.  This may be a good move.

“The California Supreme Court ruled that because the state has a controlling interest in the railroad line in question, it must adhere to its environmental laws when deciding whether to reopen a freight rail line that traverses through Northern California.

“To determine the reach of the federal law pre-empting state regulation of a state-owned railroad we must consider a presumption that, in the absence of unmistakably clear language, Congress does not intend to deprive the state of sovereignty over its own subdivisions to the point of upsetting the usual constitutional balance of state and federal powers,” California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the 69-page majority opinion.

If California will not obey Federal law, then why should Federal tax dollars finance this scam?  What do you think?

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California High Court Reinforces Environmental Review of Rail Projects

MATTHEW RENDA, Courthouse News,  7/27/17

An artist’s rendering of a bullet train gliding through a California city. (Credit: California High-Speed Rail Authority)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (CN) – In a ruling with implications for the future of high-speed rail in California, the state’s highest court ruled that while federal laws governing transportation trump state environmental laws for the most part, there are still areas where those state laws can prevail.

The California Supreme Court ruled that because the state has a controlling interest in the railroad line in question, it must adhere to its environmental laws when deciding whether to reopen a freight rail line that traverses through Northern California.

“To determine the reach of the federal law pre-empting state regulation of a state-owned railroad we must consider a presumption that, in the absence of unmistakably clear language, Congress does not intend to deprive the state of sovereignty over its own subdivisions to the point of upsetting the usual constitutional balance of state and federal powers,” California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the 69-page majority opinion.

Justice Carol Corrigan wrote a brief dissent, which seemed to be a nod to the implications of the decision, including California’s burgeoning high-speed rail project.

“Today‘s holding will displace the longstanding supremacy of federal regulation in the area of railroad operations by allowing third-party plaintiffs to thwart or delay public railroad projects with CEQA suits,” Corrigan wrote in the dissent.

Indeed, high-speed rail supporters closely watched the case and the ruling, hoping the state Supreme Court would rule that federal law pre-empts state law when it comes to the regulation of railroads.

Had the court ruled in this direction, it could have prevented potential lawsuits against high-speed rail that will likely cite the environmentally rigorous California Environmental Quality Act as the basis for their complaints.

Now that the court has ruled states are obligated to follow their laws in the absence of federal regulation, CEQA-related lawsuits pertaining to high-speed rail are likely to follow.

Regardless, California’s high court carved out a small area where CEQA prevails and only in the absence of federal regulation, but did not say that state law could trump federal law – only that it could apply in areas where an absence of federal jurisdiction exists.

“The parties and amici curiae have argued that particular CEQA remedies might be pre-empted by the ICCTA [Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act] to the extent the remedy is one that unreasonably interferes with the jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board, which has authorized service over the rail line in question,” Justice Leondra Kruger wrote in a concurrence. “I do not read the majority opinion to foreclose such arguments on remand.”

The dispute dates back to 1989, when the California Legislature expressed concern that shuttering a railroad line that carried consumer goods through the Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties would be bad for the economies of the mostly rural regions.

The Legislature then created the North Coast Railroad Authority with the intention of preventing closure of the line, which had been previously operated by private companies for more than a century.

In 2000, the Legislature allocated $60 million to the railroad authority for necessary repairs to comply environmental regulations, as floods, deterioration and deferred maintenance led to oil leaks and other ecological contamination.

Finally, the rail authority tapped a private company – the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company – to operate the freight line in 2006, while receiving more federal money to bring the project into compliance.

The final environmental review was certified by the rail authority’s governing board in 2011, effectively allowing it to resume running freight 271 miles between Schellville and Eureka, California.

However, environmental groups Friends of the Eel River and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics sued, saying the environmental review was inadequate on several grounds. They asked the court to delay reopening of the line until the rail authority complied with CEQA.

Lawyers for the state and Northwestern Railroad argued they were not bound by CEQA because they had approval from a federal agency, in this case the Surface Transportation Board.

They pointed to ICCTA, which abolished the Interstate Commerce Commission and appointed as successor the Surface Transportation Board, which was given jurisdiction over all railroad operations in the United States.

The law explicitly makes clear that the Surface Transportation Board can pre-empt state and local regulations when it comes to construction, maintenance and operation of federal rail lines.

But in the present case, because the state is the operator of the rail line, the justices ruled that it must abide by its internal rules in the absence of federal regulation – much like a private operator adheres to its internal controls.

“In the area of activity in which a private owner is free from regulation, the private owner nonetheless ordinarily would have internal corporate rules and bylaws to guide those market-based decisions,” Cantil-Sakauye wrote for the majority. “In the circumstances here, those state laws are not regulation in the marketplace within the meaning of the ICCTA, but instead are the expression of the state’s choice as owner within the deregulated sphere.”

In other words, as private corporations adhere to their own rules in an atmosphere where federal regulations don’t abide, the state must also follow its laws in areas where federal agencies don’t assert jurisdiction.

The situation described by the court presents an obvious comparison to the California high-speed rail project which, like the North Coast Railroad Authority, will be owned by the state and operated by private companies.

California orders closer look at these 93 dams after Oroville crisis

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California officials have ordered owners of 93 dams to reinspect their flood-control spillways following the Oroville Dam crisis, saying the spillways need a closer look following a preliminary review.

The list released by the Department of Water Resources includes some of the largest dams in California, such as the New Exchequer Dam on the Merced River, New Bullards Bar on the Yuba River, and Lake Almanor Dam on the Feather River in Plumas County. Each holds back reservoirs roughly the size of Folsom Lake, which can store about 977,000 acre-feet of water.

Also on the list is New Don Pedro Dam, on the Tuolumne River, which is about twice the size of Folsom and contains the sixth largest reservoir in California.

DWR’s list also features scores of obscure facilities, including two owned along the American River by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District: Ice House and Union Valley dams.

The 93 dams represent less than 10 percent of the 1,250 dams overseen by the Department of Water Resources’ dam safety division. …

Click here to read the full article

Nearly 1 Million Illegal Aliens Now Have Driver’s Licenses in California

The State of California is on track to issue a total of one million driver’s licenses to illegal aliens by the end of 2017.

In 2013, California lawmakers passed legislation that allowed illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses if they can prove to the Department of Motor Vehicle their identity and state residency. The plan was one of the largest victories to date by the open borders lobby.

Years later, an estimated 905,000 illegal aliens have driver’s licenses in California, according to the Sacramento Bee, despite issuances beginning in 2015. The number of illegal aliens in California with driver’s licenses is likely to surpass one million before the end of this year.

In the first half of 2017 alone, more than 83,000 illegal aliens received driver’s licenses in California.

Soros groups are currently pushing a plan that would make it illegal to not rent a residence to an illegal alien because of their immigration status, Breitbart Texas reported.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Could L.A. Mayor Garcetti/San Fran Mayor Lee Be ARRESTED for Smuggling Illegal Aliens?

I love Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  His has taken the fight against crime to El Salvador, causing hundreds of MS-13 gangsters to be arrested in that country, while arresting hundreds of these criminals in the United States.  Now, the ICE acting head, obviously with the cooperation and support of Sessions, is suggesting that officials that create sanctuary cities could be held on “smuggling” charges of illegal aliens.  My guess is that even more charges—like co-conspirators in the crimes of the illegal aliens could be added.

“The country’s top immigration enforcement officer says he is looking into charging sanctuary city leaders with violating federal anti-smuggling laws because he is fed up with local officials putting their communities and his officers at risk by releasing illegal immigrants from jail.

Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also told Americans to expect more work site enforcement targeting unscrupulous employers and more 287(g) agreements with willing police and sheriff’s departments that want to help get illegal immigrants off their streets. Eventually, he said, ICE will break the deportation records of 409,849 migrants set in 2012 under President Obama.”

Trump is keeping his promise to end the scourge of illegal aliens—and provide safety for all Americans.  Let the arrests of council members and Mayors begin!  Why didn’t you see this story in the mainstream media?  Fake News replaces real news for them.

Maria Ortiz, at left, a Mexican immigrant has been living in the United States for 23 years. "I am single. I work so hard to stay. I never needed support from the government," Ortiz said. She is not a citizen and works as a janitor, she said during an immigration protest outside Rep. Ed Royce's office in Brea. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   – MINDY SCHAUER, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER – Shot 111713 – immig.fast.11.19 Advocates for immigration reform will camp our near the office of Rep. Ed Royce for five days, where they will stage a fast.  They are asking OC's Republican leaders in Congress to publicly support an overhaul to the nation's immigration laws, including the so-called pathway to citizenship that would create a process for some 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally the right to become citizens.

ICE chief wants to slap smuggling charges on leaders of sanctuary cities

By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, 7/26/17

The country’s top immigration enforcement officer says he is looking into charging sanctuary city leaders with violating federal anti-smuggling laws because he is fed up with local officials putting their communities and his officers at risk by releasing illegal immigrants from jail.

Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also told Americans to expect more work site enforcement targeting unscrupulous employers and more 287(g) agreements with willing police and sheriff’s departments that want to help get illegal immigrants off their streets. Eventually, he said, ICE will break the deportation records of 409,849 migrants set in 2012 under President Obama.

“I think 409,000 is a stretch this year, but if [the Justice Department] keeps going in the direction they’re going in, if we continue to expand our operational footprint, I think we’re going to get there,” he told The Washington Times. “Our interior arrests will go up. They’re going to top last year’s for sure.”

Mr. Homan is the spear tip of President Trump’s effort to step up immigration enforcement — perhaps the largest swing in attitude for any agency in government from the last administration to the current one.

Agents and officers have been unshackled from the limits imposed by Mr. Obama, whose rules restricted arrests to less than 20 percent of the estimated illegal immigrant population.

Now, most illegal immigrants are eligible for deportation, though Mr. Homan said serious criminals, recent border crossers and people who are actively defying deportation orders are still the agency’s priorities.

He said the biggest impediment to expanding deportations is no longer ICE priority, but rather a huge backlog in the immigration courts, which are part of the Justice Department. Migrants who in the past would have admitted their unauthorized status and accepted deportation are now fighting their cases.

“They can play the system for a long time,” he said.

That resistance extends well beyond the courtroom.

Migrants are increasingly refusing to open doors for his officers and, when they do, the encounters are turning violent, Mr. Homan said. Use-of-force instances are up about 150 percent, and assaults on ICE officers are up about 40 percent, he said.

Local officials are also pushing back, declaring themselves sanctuaries and enacting policies that block their law enforcement officers from cooperating with ICE.

The refusals range from declining to hold migrants beyond their regular release time to refusing all communication — even notifying ICE when a criminal deportable alien is about to be released into the community.

For Mr. Homan, who came up through the ranks of the Border Patrol and then ICE as a sworn law enforcement officer, that sort of resistance is enraging.

“Shame on people that want to put politics ahead of officer safety, community safety,” he said.

Sanctuaries say that cooperating with ICE frightens immigrants — both legal and illegal — and makes them less likely to report other crimes. They say that is a bigger threat to public safety than crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

Solid data are tough to come by, though some police chiefs say they have been able to calculate drops in crime reporting among Hispanics since Mr. Trump took office, and they blame his get-tough approach to illegal immigration.

ICE is also facing headwinds in the courts. One judge this week halted efforts to deport Iraqi migrants who have been convicted of serious crimes and have been ordered deported, but who now say as Christians they fear for their lives if sent back to their home country.

The judge faulted the U.S. for not being able to guarantee that the deportees won’t end up in territory controlled by Islamic State terrorists, who routinely execute Christians.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week issued a ruling that law enforcement cannot hold migrants for pickup by ICE beyond their normal release times. That effectively forbids police from complying with detainer requests, which ask local authorities to hold targets for up to 48 hours.

Mr. Homan said one officer in a jail can process 10 people a day, but once someone is released, it takes a whole team of officers to track down and arrest the person in the community — where interaction is more dangerous for all sides.

That has helped fuel the spike in violent encounters that Mr. Homan highlighted in the interview.

“When we knock on doors, as any law enforcement officer will tell you, it’s risky, it’s dangerous. Compare that to arresting someone in the jail, when you know they don’t have weapons in the jail,” he said.

“It’s a matter of time before one of my officers is seriously hurt or doesn’t go home because someone made a political decision on the backs of my officers,” he said.

But he said he won’t be chased out of “sanctuaries” and pointedly raised a section of federal code — 8 U.S.C. 1324 — that outlaws attempts to “conceal, harbor or shield” illegal immigrants.

“I think these sanctuary cities need to make sure they’re on the right side of the law. They need to look at this. Because I am,” he said.

Asked whether that means he will recommend prosecutions, he said, “We’re looking at what options we have.”

The law carries a penalty of five years in prison in most cases, but penalties could rise to include life in prison or even death if someone is killed during the crime.

Mr. Homan said refusing to cooperate is counterproductive for sanctuary cities, whose goal is to protect illegal immigrants from deportation. He said if his agents have to knock on doors in the community, then thy are likely to encounter still more illegal immigrants to round up.

“If I arrest a bad guy in the jail, I arrest him. But if I go to his home or his place of employment and arrest the bad guy, and there’s five guys with him? They’re going to come too,” the chief said.

Indeed, those kinds of arrests have stirred anger among advocacy groups, which say “collateral” arrests are hurting immigrant communities.

Not all communities are resisting.

Mr. Homan said the number of police and sheriff’s departments signed up for the 287(g) program allowing them to help process illegal immigrants for deportation from their jails has already doubled under Mr. Trump and should triple by the end of the year.

He said he also has received inquiries from departments that want to restore 287(g) task forces, which would train state and local police to enforce immigration laws on the streets. Mr. Homan said he is studying that possibility.

Mr. Homan has become a target for immigrant rights groups — particularly after the ICE chief linked this weekend’s horrific deaths of 10 migrants at the hands of smugglers to sanctuary cities.

“Dishonest and disgusting,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund. “This country deserves an immigration debate that connects the dots between development and opportunity in home countries, safe and legal migration policies, and intelligent immigrant integration policies. What it doesn’t need are hard-liners shamelessly politicizing a tragedy.”

Mr. Homan, who led the investigation into an even worse 2003 incident in which 19 migrants died in a trailer in Victoria, Texas, said the solution is to enforce the laws and persuade people not to make the dangerous journey in the first place.

His agency has even begun arresting parents who pay smugglers to bring their children on the dangerous journey to the U.S. Mr. Homan said it was too early to talk about numbers for that operation.

But he challenged his critics to see what he sees.

“People who don’t think we should enforce immigration law — I wish they’d hang out with me for a week,” Mr. Homan said. “I wish they were with me in Phoenix, Arizona — people held hostage. A guy with duct tape all over his body, with a hole poked out in his mouth where he breathed through a straw for days, until they paid his fee. They weren’t with me on the trail in the Border Patrol where we found dead aliens abandoned by smugglers. They weren’t with me standing in the back of that traffic trailer with a 5-year-old boy who suffocated in his father’s arms.”

 

 

 

Nation Economic Growth: Texas #1—California #42

The bottom line is that Texas is doing great in the short and long run.  At the same time California is in a tailspin, while the confused Guv Brown and his Sacramento buddies are putting on a brave—phony—face, claiming we are in the midst of a miracle.  State revenues are down, spending is up, cap and trade will decimate the middle class economically and with the loss of jobs.  State debt is $1.5 trillion, CalPERS has a $1.4 trillion unfunded liability.  Cities are forced to cut basic services to finance the collapsing CalPERS and schools are forced to cut education program to keep CalSTRS open.  If you want ot fill taco shells, plenty of minimum wage jobs.  Want a well paying job?  Go to Texas.

“Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, had the fastest growing economy in the nation in the first quarter of this year with its state GDP growing at a real annual rate of 3.9 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

By contrast, California, the nation’s most populous state, ranked 42nd out of 50 states for first quarter economic growth, with its GDP growing at a real annual rate of just 0.1 percent.”

The facts that Brown and his Democrat Legislative buddies have fail 38 million people.  We have a chance to fix this next year at the polls—if the GOP’ers elected are really Republicans and work for families and jobs—not the Democrat Governor and party invitations.

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Texas Booms (+3.9%) as California Flatlines (0.1%); Mining, Manufacturing Drive Growth

By Terence P. Jeffrey, CNSNews,  7/27/17

Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, had the fastest growing economy in the nation in the first quarter of this year with its state GDP growing at a real annual rate of 3.9 percent, according to data released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

By contrast, California, the nation’s most populous state, ranked 42nd out of 50 states for first quarter economic growth, with its GDP growing at a real annual rate of just 0.1 percent.

Nebraska had the worst economic performance of any state in the first quarter, with its real GDP declining at an annual rate of 4.0 percent.

West Virginia had the second best economic performance in the first quarter with its GDP growing at an annual rate of 3.0 percent. New Mexico had the third best performanc with its GDP growing 2.8 percent.

The Texas economy, according to BEA, was driven up by a boom in the mining sector and by a large increase in manufacturing. California’s economy was dragged down by the arts, entertainment and recreation sector; finance and insurance; retail trade; and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.

California still has by far the largest economy of any state, with its GDP at an annual rate of $2,670,788,000,000 in the first quarter of this year, according to BEA. Texas remained a distant second, with its GDP at $1,682,888,000,000 in the first quarter.

That made California’s GDP $987,900,000,000 (or 58.7 percent) more than Texas’s annual GDP as of the first quarter.

When divided by the Census Bureau’s July 2016 population estimates, California (with a population of 39,250,017) had a per capita GDP of $68,045.52. Texas (with a population of 27,862,596) had a per capita GDP of $60,399.54.

At $1,500,994,000,000, New York ranked third among the states for GDP as of the first quarter.

Florida ranked fourth with a GDP of $955,647,000,000.

The 3.9 percent growth in Texas was largely driven by the mining industry, which contributed 2.08 points to that 3.9 percent growth.

Manufacturing contributed another 1.15 points (including 0.62 for manufacturing of nondurable goods and 0.53 for durable goods); real estate and rental leasing added 0.43 points; administrative and waste management services added 0.32; government added 0.21; construction added 0.15; transportation and warehousing added 0.15; health care and social assistance added 0.14; accommodation and food services added 0.08; education services added 0.06; arts, entertainment and recreation added 0.02; professional, scientific and technical services added 0.01; and other services except government was flat at 0.00.

Like many states in the first quarter, the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector had a negative impact on the Texas economy—taking 0.27 points away from the state’s growth. Finance and insurance subtracted 0.17 from the Texas economy; information subtracted 0.17; retail trade subtracted 0.15; utilities subtracted 0.10; management of companies and enterprises subtracted 0.03; and wholesale trade subtracted 0.01.

By contrast, California’s meager 0.1 percent growth was led by an 0.32-point contribution from the real estate and rental leasing sector.

California also had positive contributions from wholesale trade (0.29), construction (0.19), nondurable goods manufacturing (0.16), administrative and waste management services (0.12), health care and social assistance (0.12), information (0.10), mining (0.04), durable goods manufacturing (0.04) accommodation and food services (0.04), educational services (0.03), professional, scientific and technical services (0.02) and government (0.02).

Sectors that put a drag on California’s economy included other services except government (-0.01); transportation and warehousing (-0.02); management of companies and enterprises (-0.03), utilities (-0.07); arts, entertainment, and recreation (-0.12); finance and insurance (-0.19); retail trade (-0.28), and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (-0.68).

“Mining grew 21.6 percent nationally,” the BEA said in the press release it put out with the state GDP numbers. “This industry contributed to growth in 48 states. It was the leading contributor to growth in Texas, West Virginia, and New Mexico—the three fastest growing states—which grew 3.9 percent, 3.0 percent, and 2.8 percent, respectively.”

“Durable-goods manufacturing grew 4.4 percent nationally,” said BEA. “This industry contributed to growth in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The largest contributions to growth occurred in Michigan and Kentucky; these states grew 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.:

“Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting declined 39.8 percent nationally,” said BEA. “This industry subtracted from growth in 39 states. The largest subtractions occurred in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, the states with the largest declines in real GDP. Real GDP in these states declined 3.8 percent, 3.2 percent, and 4.0 percent, respectively.”

Eber: Identity politics is a losing strategy

Rich Eber makes the point that unions and others that hold children hostage in failed government schools are not acting in the best interest of the children—especially minority children.  To my mind the head of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten, is a Klan like racist.  She hates the idea of minority children getting anything but a Jim Crow education.  And, that is what we need to call it.

“The first thing to do is not allow ourselves to be pushed around by these progressive bullies who are trying to instill their social values on us.  How can we let someone like President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten say parents who favor school choice are guilty of different forms of “racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia.”?

In the next breath the supposedly liberal union official explains that anyone who disagrees with her assessment is obviously against the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown vs. the Board of Education in Topeka Kansas.  So what is does an average parent do who wants their kids to obtain the best education possible?  Obviously, in Weingarten’s mind, you send your children to low performing schools and take your chances regardless of the consequences.”

Are parents ready to defend the right of children to a quality education?  Will the voters end the election of racists to school boards?  Or, will we lose another generation of students on the altar of Progressive hate?

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Identity politics is a losing strategy By Richard Eber

Richard Eber, California Political News and Views,  7/28/17

“I’m falling and I can’t get up” is the battle cry heard late at night for those of us who suffer from insomnia. During these moments, we turn on cable TV to sooth our nerves. In this enactment, an old women collapses and cannot fend for herself. Fortunately, she can press a magic button to have paramedics come to the rescue.

Even though an individual is not involved, a similar situation exists today with our democratic form of government.  Much like the elderly victim who has tumbled to the ground, our 230 year old democracy has fallen into hard times. Progressives, who utilize identity politics to keep the troops in line, have little regard for the damage they cause in its wake.

The frail lady personified by the statue of liberty has been injured and some say is on life support. What can be done to resuscitate the old gal? In real life magic buttons aren’t always available.

The first thing to do is not allow ourselves to be pushed around by these progressive bullies who are trying to instill their social values on us.  How can we let someone like President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten say parents who favor school choice are guilty of different forms of “racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia.”?

In the next breath the supposedly liberal union official explains that anyone who disagrees with her assessment is obviously against the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown vs. the Board of Education in Topeka Kansas.  So what is does an average parent do who wants their kids to obtain the best education possible?  Obviously, in Weingarten’s mind, you send your children to low performing schools and take your chances regardless of the consequences.

If Weingarten’s s rant seems familiar, it might remind us of Hillary Clinton’s feeble foray into identity politics in the 2016 Presidential election.  She stated in no uncertain terms “You know, to just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. “

Both Weingarten and Clinton’s message is the same. One has a choice of agreeing with them or faces being convicted in the court of public opinion of being some sort of race baiting Nazis sympathizer.

But this is what is being done and little is said publicly about how folks feel threatening by the progressive juggernaut. Proof of this intimidation factor could be found in the election for President last year. Following the basket of deplorables, a good number of voters preferred to remain silent when taking opinion surveys because they did not want to be labeled as a bunch of KKK supporters.

It was only known what the voters really thought in the first week of November when they elected Donald Trump to be President of the United States.  This is why progressives think they were cheated when Hillary lost. They just can’t fathom what transpired.

What to do? Is the electorate who supported Donald Trump’s triumph supposed to sit back and allow Rachel Maddow, CNN, The Washington Post, and New York Times continues to bully them with their identity politics and pseudo feminism-PMS attitude?  The answer is “no”, we have had enough.

Rich and poor families have the right to send their kids to the best school they can afford that meets their needs. If they care more about the level of instruction in English and math than bathroom choice or the CTA’s selfish interests, should they be considered to be bigots?

In the same breath can be it is considered to be treason to put more emphasis on promoting job creation, vocational education, and family life rather than increasing entitlements?  Can we allow the democratically elected President of the United States do his job unencumbered by Progressive judges, sour faced Democratic leaders, and  self serving leftist media outlets?

Who gave these people the authority to try to impose their will that was rejected at the polls?  I always thought when a political party losses an election, you put together your ideas to appeal to those who didn’t choose you in two years.  Instead, lead by Pelosi, Schumer, and impeachment advocates, Democrats are pouting in the corner like they are in a constant state of “time out”.

In California it is even worse. Like fellow Democrats across the land, Governor Brown and the legislature they control want to ignore federal immigration and environmental laws of the Trump administration to create their own little socialist utopia on the Left Coast.  The only problem with this vision is:

  1. Increased governmental regulations and utilization of Project Labor Agreements are not going to build very much affordable housing even if such a program is imposed on local communities.
  2. While the California Teachers Association is one of the largest donors to the Democratic Party, is the public education the Golden continue to be held hostage by them at the bargaining table while test scores continue to plummet?
  3. CalPERS, CalSTERS and other public pension funds are falling behind every year digging the state into a bigger hole than before. Unlike the Federal Government, California can’t just print more money to pay these alarming bills. Tax payers must pick up the tab.
  4. While the legislature loves to talk about high tech job creation, government regulation, cap and trade, increased taxes etc… are driving many of the good paying positions to other states. Don’t they realize $15.00 per hour minimum wages at Taco Bell are not going to create a new middle class?
  5. Playing the Sanctuary City card with the Federal government is a losing hand because even if undocumented residents are protected, the state will still be on the short end of receiving matching funds from Uncle Sam.
  6. California like everyone else must control medical costs and is not even remotely close to paying for a one payer system.

So what is this all saying? Playing victim in the identity politics game is not a very effective strategy for the Democratic Party or for California to take. Whether it is Jerry Brown defending Cap and Trade, Senate leader pro tem Kevin de Leon making his own immigration foreign policies or Kamala Harris acting belligerently towards her fellow Senators, the Golden State is not for now a sovereign country

So Jerry Brown and all your buddies in Sacramento and Washington D.C: stop your cry baby “I’m falling and can’t get up routine. Deal with the real problems of your constituents for a change.