Pro-Life Advocates Inspire Movement in Europe

From Politico:

U.S. abortion opponents are giving new life to the movement abroad, where once-stagnant European allies are pushing changes that could affect the whole continent.

A younger generation of anti-abortion activists has turned to the United States for legal advice, strategic training and transatlantic inspiration. They credit a distinctly American approach with forcing abortion, long a deeply private issue in Europe, into the public conversation. And for the Americans who travel overseas to assist, strengthening their cause internationally also strengthens their position at home.

“Let’s face it, the world is getting smaller every day,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, reached during a week of conferences and events in Rome. Any new abortion rights in Europe would be a “distinct threat to American law,” she said, because they give ammunition to domestic judges looking for an international consensus.

(Read Full Article)


Eric Holder’s Disparate Impact Obsession

From The Daily Caller:

Attorney General Eric Holder purports to believe the Trayvon Martin case — in which a Hispanic man shot a young African-American man — illustrates a need to reduce police interactions with African-Americans. Citing Martin’s case, Holder announced on Monday that the Department of Justice will dole out millions of taxpayer dollars to collect and analyze data on police stops, searches and arrests. His goal? Tackling the “problem” of “overrepresentation of young men of color in our criminal justice system.” This is just another example of Holder’s quest to brand anything with a “disparate impact” on African-Americans as discriminatory.

The problem with Holder’s disparate impact obsession is that for multiple reasons having nothing to do with discrimination, the races do not engage in all behaviors at the same statistical rate. In the context of the criminal justice system, for example, African-Americans are undoubtedly stopped, searched and arrested at higher rates than whites, Hispanics or Asians. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), 28 percent of those arrested for violent crime are black, despite the fact that blacks comprise only thirteen percent of the population.

(Read Full Article)

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Another ‘Job-Killer’ Bill in the Senate

Just days after Toyota announced plans to move its corporate headquarters to Texas, the California Senate is poised to adopt a bill that would create a split-roll parcel tax system.

Senate Bill 1021, introduced by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, would allow school districts to impose different parcel tax rates on different types of property. That means commercial, industrial, residential and multifamily residential could see different tax bills for properties of equal value.

SB1021 is essentially split-roll at the local level, Jennifer Barrera, a policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, explained on CalChamber’s website. It would allow school districts to pass parcel taxes just against commercial property.

Alameda County’s parcel tax overturned by courts

The bill comes in response to a controversial parcel tax adopted in Alameda County that was ultimately thrown out by the courts. In 2008, more than two-thirds of Alameda County voters approved Measure H, which imposed a $120 parcel tax on residential and small commercial properties and a substantially higher parcel tax — up to $9,500 a year — on large commercial parcels.

Last June, a unanimous state appeals court overturned the parcel tax. In Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco found that the parcel tax violated the requirement that taxes “apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real property within the district.”

The bill’s author said that the issue is one of local control, granting local districts the power to set different tax rates for each community’s needs.

“Under the recent court decision, school districts can no longer apply higher or lower rates to parcels based on commercial, industrial, or residential classification of the parcel,” Wolk’s office argued, according to the Senate’s legislative analysis. “SB1021 restores this needed local control by allowing school district boards to structure its tax according to local values and priorities.”

CalChamber: Unfair job-killer bill

Opponents of the bill include CalChamber, the California Business Properties Association, the California Association of Realtors, the California Grocers Association, the California Mortgage Bankers Association, the Family Winemakers of California, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and the California Building Industry Association. The opponents are worried SB1021 will lead to school districts targeting parcel taxes on businesses and commercial property owners.

“At a time when California officials should be doing everything in their power to attract and retain jobs, this legislation takes exactly the opposite approach by targeting employers for even higher taxes if they stay here,” said David Kline, vice-president of the California Taxpayers Association. “This bill would allow a free-for-all parcel tax system, with no limits on what rates school districts could levy, and would create opportunities for massive tax hikes targeted at businesses of all sizes.”

The state’s business leaders and taxpayer advocates also say the bill is an end run around Proposition 13, the state’s landmark 1978 initiative that placed a cap on property taxes. With other “add-on” property taxes and fees, such as parcel taxes, Mello-Roos fees, and assessment districts, many property owners pay substantially more than Prop. 13′s base rate of 1 percent of the property’s value.

Higher rate applied to different properties

In addition to applying different tax rates to commercial and residential properties, SB1021 authorizes school districts to target individual owners for higher tax rates. Under the bill, school districts would be allowed to treat multiple parcels of real property as one parcel for tax purposes.

“Under this provision, a school district could aggregate multiple, smaller parcels owned by one owner to capture all the properties under a square footage parcel tax,” CalChamber warned in a recent legislative alert. “Additionally, a school district could impose a parcel tax based upon the use of one parcel within multiple parcels owned by the same owner, even if those other parcels are not used for the same purpose.”

Despite recent national headlines of the state’s declining business climate, the legislature is expected to pass the bill, in part because it only requires majority approval of the Legislature. Traditionally, most tax increases are subject to two-thirds approval. However, SB1021 isn’t technically a tax increase, according to the legislature’s attorneys.

However, Gov. Jerry Brown is running for re-election and likely would veto the tax increase. In his 2010 campaign, he promised that no new taxes would be imposed without voter approval. And when he campaigned for Proposition 30, which increased taxes $7 billion, he insisted it would be temporary. SB1021 would allow permanent tax increases.

(John Hrabe is a contributor to CalWatchdog. Originally published on CalWatchdog.)

CA Lawmakers Look to Pull Plug on NSA Snooping

Big Brother might have to close his eyes.

A new bipartisan bill would prohibit California’s cooperation with warrantless snooping by the National Security Agency.

Senate Bill 828 is by state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach. Invoking the Bill of Rights’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, SB828 would affect the state, its employees, its governmental subdivisions and even corporations providing services for the state.

According to the language of the bill, all those affected are barred from “materially supporting or assisting” any “federal agency or federal agent in collecting electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place, and thing to be searched or seized.”

That broad wording would extend legal protections against surveillance to non-citizens and citizens alike. Snooping with a warrant still would be allowed.

Additionally, SB828 bans the use of electronic data and metadata obtained without a warrant in state and local criminal investigations or prosecutions.

Dubbed the “Fourth Amendment Protection Act,” the bill would put California on a collision course with a major federal policy for the second time in recent years. Last October, the lawmakers passed the Trust Act. It introduced sweeping measures to shelter illegal immigrants from federal action.

Over strenuous objections of those favoring tighter immigration laws, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Trust Act with a suite of other bills that activists estimated would keep some 20,000 undocumented people out of federal detention every year.

Anti-surveillance momentum

Nationally, California legislators stuck their necks out with the Trust Act.

But with SB828, they wouldn’t be alone. One of the bill’s two co-sponsors, State Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, invoked similar measures passed by state legislatures in Arizona, Maryland, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.

Anderson explained the bill “would stop NSA access to DMV records, Covered California records, state records, even voting records that might otherwise be confiscated at will.” Although “unequivocally dedicated to stopping terrorism,” Anderson insisted that Americans “must be ever vigilant that our desire for safety does not come at the expense of the freedoms and liberty our enemies seek to destroy.”

A press release describing the impact of the bill was also issued by Lieu. “State-funded public resources should not be going toward aiding the NSA or any other federal agency,” he said, in “indiscriminate spying on its own citizens” that “violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Last year, the release noted, Lieu successfully spearheaded a bipartisan resolution “urging Congress to reconsider its vote for the NSA to stop its unconstitutional practices.” That resolution, SR16, also called on President Obama to end “the NSA’s blanket, unreasonable, and unconstitutional collection of all Americans’ telephone records,” singling out overbroad uses of the PATRIOT Act for reform.

Earlier this year, Anderson and Lieu teamed up to push Sacramento to cut off the NSA from access to basic utilities and services in California. Then as now, Lieu explicitly compared NSA surveillance to the federal government’s wholesale detention of Japanese-Americans during World War Two, warning that the “last time the federal government massively violated the U.S. Constitution, over 100,000 innocent Americans were rounded up and interned.”

California leadership

As the debate continues in Congress over the scope and force of federal law surrounding America’s surveillance regime, elected officials in California face an opportunity to take a notable lead on the issue.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was recently at the center of an unusually fierce dispute with the CIA over detention and interrogation. The controversy came to a head when Feinstein discovered that the CIA had secretly spied on Senate staffers working on a committee report critical of the agency’s practices.

Previously, Feinstein herself had been criticized for a lax attitude toward surveillance issues. The last time the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court turned down a government request to conduct electronic surveillance was in 2009.

Events will unfold quickly in California once legislators determine whether or not to support the bill. If passed, SB828 would go into immediate effect as an “urgency statute.”

(James Poulos is a contributor to CalWatchdog. Originally published on CalWatchdog.)

Obama and Benghazi

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Oil Production Presents a Huge Dilemma

From The Sacramento Bee:

California is an auto-dependent society, with 25 million licensed drivers – two-thirds of our population – and 30 million motor vehicles consuming 16 billion gallons of fuel each year to rack up 329 billion miles of travel on 172,000 miles of roads, streets and highways.

That evolution was fueled, as it were, by an abundance of cheap oil. California was one of the nation’s earliest oil producers and still is its third most productive state, but after peaking at nearly 400 million barrels a year in 1985, in-state production has slowly declined to half that level now.

Therefore as the state’s population expanded, as vehicular travel increased – doubling in the last 30 years – and as demand for petroleum increased, our supply has increasingly come from elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

Photo courtesy of Lyndi&Jason, flickr

Americans Give Up Looking For Work

From The Daily Caller:

More than 800,000 Americans gave up hope and stopped looking for work in April 2014, five years after President Barack Obama was inaugurated.

The startling change in the workforce was accompanied by good news show that 288,000 new jobs were added to the economy. That’s roughly three times the normal monthly growth of the working-age population, including roughly 50,000 extra immigrants.

The combination of fewer people looking for work, plus the increased number of employed, dropped the formal employment rate from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Read Full Article)

hope unemployment jobs obama

Nation’s Highest Tax Rate Plagues State’s Small Businesses

From The Riverside Press-Enterprise:

California is a tough place to do business. Small businesses in particular suffer from taxes and regulations higher than in most states. On April 22, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, a think tank, released its latest Small Business Tax Index. It ranked California dead last, with the highest tax burden of the 50 states.

The index fingered California for imposing the most punitive income and capital gains tax rates. In addition, almost any small business must pay an $800 state franchise tax just for doing business – even if it never makes a profit.

Small businesses also will be hurt by the state minimum-wage hike in July to $9 an hour from $8; and to $10 in 2016.

(Read Full Article)


White House Told Susan Rice To Lie About Benghazi

From The Daily Caller:

And to our good friends on the left: No, the story is not going away.

Catherine Herridge, Fox News:

Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.

More than 100 pages of documents were released to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Among them was a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications…

(Read Full Article)


Fight over Sriracha Factory Heating Up

From U-T San Diego:

A spicy drama has been heating up since the popular hot sauce Sriracha was declared a public nuisance by the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale, where it’s made. For now, Irwindale’s City Council has tabled a resolution that forces Huy Fong Foods, Sriracha’s maker, to stop odor emissions.

The City Council should vote down this resolution, because it’s most likely illegal. If not, Irwindale will have a Sriracha hangover, from ordering too many unlawful choices and becoming the emblem of California as anti-business. When this Sriracha-apocalypse began in October, enthusiasts feared the end of sauce production. Now the conflict fuels rivalries between states, exchanging anti- and pro-business fighting words over who keeps the sauce.

(Read Full Article)

Hot Sauce Lawsuit