Kanye perpetuates colorism with latest project. “Colorism”

“Colorism” is a new word—it is used to connote the racist view that color matters more than character.  Kanye West is a singer and fashion designer he wanted to do a fashion show and did not send out a notice wanting Asian models, or white models—he wanted women of color that were of a mixed race.  So what?  Did I mention that West is black (and the husband of Kim Kardashian)?  Who cares.  He is creating jobs for people of color.

Sadly, at San Fran State University, where this opinion piece was published, believes only folks of the “right” color have the right to work.  This modern day racism is of the same kind promoted by the KKK—shame on these students promoting a vile racist organizations’ values as if a University should be promoting hatred and bigotry.

“Earlier this month, Kanye West tweeted a casting call asking for “multiracial women only,” that caused a stir among fans and critics alike. People took to twitter and the real world to criticize the statement that left entire communities out to dry.

“Kanye West asking for multiracial models kind of sends an anti-Black message,” said Andrew Jolivette, an American Indian professor at SF State who identifies as Louisiana Creole. “Saying he wants mixed performers sends the idea that Black is not beautiful.”

Yup, to the racists, hiring black models of a mixed race background is racist—but hiring model of only a black background is Progressive.  The KKK made excuses for their racism as well.  While I am not a fan of Kanye West music or family connections, he is a free American and has the right to take economic risks in the fashion industry and hire whoever he wants as a model.

Photo courtesy pd2020@sbcglobal.net, flickr

Photo courtesy pd2020@sbcglobal.net, flickr

Kanye perpetuates colorism with latest project

Kevin Vega, Golden State Express,  9/21/16

Earlier this month, Kanye West tweeted a casting call asking for “multiracial women only,” that caused a stir among fans and critics alike. People took to twitter and the real world to criticize the statement that left entire communities out to dry.

“Kanye West asking for multiracial models kind of sends an anti-Black message,” said Andrew Jolivette, an American Indian professor at SF State who identifies as Louisiana Creole. “Saying he wants mixed performers sends the idea that Black is not beautiful.”

Being a non-Black person of color myself, I can’t speak for what is and what is not anti-Black; however, sentiments like West’s come off as biased.

West should know better than to further restrict people of color from their already very limited opportunities in the fashion world. The Fashion Spot reported that in the most recent fashion season only 25 percent of models cast in shows were models of color, while the remaining 75 percent were white.

Being such a successful Black man in pop culture has not been easy for West, from calling out George Bush during his presidency on live television to becoming public enemy number one after interrupting Taylor Swift. I’m disappointed and surprised that he’d use his platform to perpetuate something as detrimental as colorism, where lighter skin is favored over darker skin.

Preferring multiracial people to those who are not multiracial leaves out entire communities of people because they don’t measure up to the light skin standard West is aiming for. The lightest skin in minority communities typically exists in those who have a parent from a minority community (usually one with a darker skin tone) and a white parent.

It’s important to note that though half-White half-minorities have White privilege, they also are minorities, so their lives aren’t exactly easy. They still experience racism from those around them. But when Kanye and others continue to uplift half-White biracial individuals while also alienating monoracial individuals, the conversation of having a half-White privilege is one that needs to be had.

With Colin Kapernick refusing to stand during the national anthem and multiple killings of unarmed Black people by policemen raising racial tension in America, West’s request adds to this tension. Asking for “multiracial models only” implies that there’s something wrong with being unambiguously Black, Latino, Asian, or a person of any color that is not White.

“I think often the problem and what most people think of mixed is that most people always assume mixed is white and something else,” Jolivette said. “They forget that people aren’t trying to be better than somebody or that people don’t want to be something else.”

Even within minority communities being biracial will get you further than those who are not biracial because of the privilege that being white grants you. Multiracial individuals may share oppression with their monoracial community members, but having lighter skin grants them access to opportunities that they may not have had otherwise – like avoiding punishment by school officials or having less time in punishment while in elementary school.

West’s casting call also begs the question: where is the representation for double minority individuals? What about multiracial individuals who are half-Black and half-Latino? Or half-Latino and half-Asian? Or any combination that does not involve White? Do these types of models and people have the same kind of privilege that light skinned biracial people have, or are they just as underrepresented as monoracial individuals?

Artists like West and other trend setters should refrain from perpetuating industry standards that favor White individuals. Instead of following racist ideals they should use their power and influence to diversify the White-dominated entertainment industry.

Why Are So Few People Paying Attention to Forced Live Organ Harvesting in China?

Donald Trump is talking about the trade imbalance between the United States and China.  Some have spoken about the lack of civil rights in China—and the fact that China decides what can be on Facebook, Google and the Internet.  It is a totalitarian regime—anybody disagree?  Now, the abuse of humans has become more specific—China is forcing the harvesting of organs from LIVE people.

“A government killing their own citizens for their political or spiritual beliefs for profit? The crime is so horrific it almost defies belief.

In Hard to Believe, two-time Emmy-award-winner Ken Stone highlights both the atrocity and the world’s lack of response by investigating why a 2014 U.S. House Resolution condemning the crime of forced organ harvesting from tens of thousands of Chinese prisoners of conscience was proposed but never voted on.”

This is a documentary you must see.  We need to understand the issue and ask why the State Department and the White House has been silent.  See the documentary and get a better understanding of the problem.  Silence is no longer an option.

jerry brown china

Why Are So Few People Paying Attention to Forced Live Organ Harvesting in China?

Award-Winning Documentary Investigates One of the Most Horrifying Crimes of Our Time and the World’s Tepid Response

Swoop Films,  8/5/16

A government killing their own citizens for their political or spiritual beliefs for profit? The crime is so horrific it almost defies belief.

In Hard to Believe, two-time Emmy-award-winner Ken Stone highlights both the atrocity and the world’s lack of response by investigating why a 2014 U.S. House Resolution condemning the crime of forced organ harvesting from tens of thousands of Chinese prisoners of conscience was proposed but never voted on.

Stone explains that he was well into his second decade as an independent producer who had never heard of the term “live organ harvesting” when he was first approached by Swoop Films producer, Kay Rubacek, to do a documentary about the subject.

At the time, he had virtually no knowledge of the Chinese spiritual practice called Falun Gong or why its practitioners were targeted by Chinese authorities. Initially skeptical, he soon realized he had stumbled on a gruesome murder mystery that virtually no one was paying attention to – until his film was released on PBS in 2015.

After more than sixty screenings worldwide and eleven awards, Resolution H.R. 343 was unanimously passed in Congress in 2015 condemning organ harvesting in China.

What Daily Mail calls “the first sustained examination into why the world is so willing to turn a blind eye to one of the most catastrophic human rights violations in our time” has now been broadcast on America’s PBS TV stations, translated into 12 languages, and screened in ten countries, including in Parliament House and numerous cinemas, colleges, film festivals, and other venues.

Top U.S. colleges have purchased educational licenses for the film for use in libraries and classrooms, and the film is newly available on iTunes, Google Play, and Vimeo for online streaming or digital download.

Stone comments, “The story I wanted to tell was why no one was paying attention. It reminded me of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., writing about the civil rights era in the United States: ‘History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.’ One of the lessons from Hard to Believe is that so many good people – so many of us – haven’t just been silent, we haven’t even paid attention. I hope this film prompts a few more people to do so.”

Hard to Believe has received the following awards:

  • Winner of Best Documentary, 2016 Hoboken International Film Festival;
  • Winner of Outstanding Achievement, 2015 Global Film Awards Humanitarian Award;
  • Winner of Outstanding Achievement, Accolade Global Film Competition 2015 Humanitarian;
  • Six Awards of Excellence from the 2015 Accolade Global Film Competition in the categories of Documentary Program, Social Change, Religion, Ethics, Health, and Medicine;
  • 2015 IndieFEST Global Film Award in the categories of Liberation and Social Justice

Hard to Believe dives into a topic that is utterly disturbing for the medical profession and society in the twenty-first century. The true horror of this crime is summed up in the few words of Chinese surgeon Dr. Enver Tohti: “Remember… nothing happened today.” ~ Torsten Trey, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH)

AUTHOR: Two-time Emmy award-winner Ken Stone spent twenty years in American broadcast newsrooms, the bulk of that time at public television stations. His U.S. national awards include a duPont Silver Baton (Columbia University’s broadcast equivalent of its Pulitzer), an Emmy Award, and a Gabriel Award for The Next Mission (2010) and an Emmy Award for Fundamental Rights: The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act (1992).

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Click here to view complete information in PDF or see attached
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Hard to Believe by Ken Stone; Produced by Ken Stone, Irene Slber, and Kay Rubacek; Swoop Films, LLC; Category: Medical Ethics, Education, Law, Philosophy, Human Rights, Home DVD: 978-0692522844, $19.99; Availability: DVD (Comes with bonus 32-page full-color film booklet) HardtoBelieveMovie.com; Digital Online Streaming (VOD Video on Demand): iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vimeo

 

Game Changer: World’s Leading Medical Group Backs E-Cigarettes

e-cigaretteOne of the world’s most prestigious medical organizations has delivered a groundbreaking 200-page report that supports e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking and demolishes several vaping myths in the process.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the most respected medical institution in the United Kingdom, concluded e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than regular cigarettes and are likely to be hugely beneficial to public health.

Titled “Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction,” the report is one of the most comprehensive ever published examining e-cigarettes and could be a game changer for health officials and politicians all over the world. The RCP’s seminal 1962 report, which demonstrated the link between smoking, lung disease and bronchitis spurred the U.S. Surgeon General to publish the historic 1964 “Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States.”

The RCP’s new report tears apart scare stories, including the ever-more popular idea that vaping is somehow a gateway to smoking. “To date, there is no evidence that any of these processes is occurring to any significant degree in the UK,” said the report’s authors. (RELATED: CDC Admits, No ‘Concrete’ Evidence E-Cigarettes Are Gateway To Smoking)

The authors are emphatic there is no evidence e-cigarette use has in any way “renormalized” smoking. “None of these products has to date attracted significant use among adult never-smokers, or demonstrated evidence of significant gateway progression into smoking among young people.”

One of the most damaging myths about e-cigarettes that caught fire in 2015 was e-cigarettes don’t actually help smokers quit. (RELATED: Study Claiming E-Cigarettes Make Quitting Harder Exposed As ‘Unscientific Hatchet Job’)

Contrary to the claims of some public health activists in the U.S., the RCP is clear: e-cigarettes can help smokers kick their habit for good. “Among smokers, e-cigarette use is likely to lead to quit attempts that would not otherwise have happened, and in a proportion of these to successful cessation. In this way, e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking.” (RELATED: Study Finds E-Cigarettes Raise Chances Of Quitting, ‘Can Save Lives’)

The RCP does not claim vaping is totally safe, as vapers inhale nicotine and flavorings. But they conclude any risk to vapers is likely to be “very small, and substantially smaller than that arising from tobacco smoking.”

Concurring with a previous report by Public Health England, RCP believes the health risks to vapers is unlikely to reach more than five percent of the risks associated with smoking. The report also warns overzealous policymakers to resist the temptation to regulate e-cigarettes in a way that would stifle innovation or discourage use.

“This report lays to rest almost all of the concerns over these products, and concludes that, with sensible regulation, electronic cigarettes have the potential to make a major contribution towards preventing the premature death, disease and social inequalities in health that smoking currently causes in the UK,” said Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group. “Smokers should be reassured that these products can help them quit all tobacco use forever,” he added.

Those most applauding the study’s conclusions are e-cig groups who have been fighting an onslaught of attacks from politicians and dubious public health researchers. (RELATED: Read The Stunning Correction This Scientist Dropped On Her Own Anti-E-Cig Study)

“When the RCP told the truth about cigarettes in 1962, it took two years for the U.S. government to play catch up and release its own report. It should not take two months, let alone two years, for American public health authorities to correct their past misstatements about vaping. The FDA and CDC must seriously consider the RCP’s guidance before moving forward on any new regulations or public campaigns about smoke-free nicotine products,” said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association.

“For those in mainstream tobacco control, the question for them is, how can you dismiss this report out of hand? The authors are credible experts without financial conflicts of interest in tobacco or vapor products. At some point, these groups will have to realize that the science has long outpaced their rhetoric,” Conley added.

Cancer charities added their voices to the chorus of praise for the RCP’s report. “This important report is an accurate summary of the latest scientific evidence on e-cigarettes and will help dispel the increasingly common misconception that they’re as harmful as smoking. They’re not,” said Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention Alison Cox.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

Bond/Tax Orgy Grows in San Fran Area: $500 Million to “Restore” Wetlands

You can never have enough bonds or taxes when you are an environmentalist or lover of big government (Democrat).  The November ballot, so far, State and local, including interest costs, has over $300 billion in tax increases and bond measures to sell the suckers—ur, public.

“While the purchase was enabled by federal and state agencies, along with private donations, there was never a revenue source for the actual restoration of the land. Now, a nine-county ballot measure seeks to change that. By asking for a $12 annual tax on every parcel, the San Francisco Bay Area Restoration Authority is seeking a total of $500 million, or $25 million a year, for restoration projects and real ecological benefits.”

The Bay Area already has the highest housing energy and water costs in the State and arguably the worst traffic on streets and freeways.  Yet some wetland seems to be more important than the survival of the families of the area.  That could be why the middle class has fled the area—that is good news for Texas—and terrible news for the future of the Bay Area and California.

government-vote

Editorial: vote Yes on Measure AA

San Mateo Daily Journal,  4/22/16

 

 

In 2003, 15,100 acres of salt ponds were purchased from Cargill Inc. with an aim to eventually restore them to tidal wetlands. For decades, those lands that were taken from the Bay were used for salt production and the purchase was part of a larger effort to restore that land back to its natural state.

The project has several goals, to bring back habitat that would allow for dwindling wildlife to flourish again and to also provide ways for the area’s water quality to improve while also creating better flood control.

While the purchase was enabled by federal and state agencies, along with private donations, there was never a revenue source for the actual restoration of the land. Now, a nine-county ballot measure seeks to change that. By asking for a $12 annual tax on every parcel, the San Francisco Bay Area Restoration Authority is seeking a total of $500 million, or $25 million a year, for restoration projects and real ecological benefits.

Though the San Francisco Bay is the defining characteristic of this region, it historically receives disproportionately less federal funding compared to other significant national bodies of water. Puget Sound, the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay receive between five and 60 times more federal support than the Bay. Though there has been some effort by local federal legislators to correct that, but so far there has been little to show. This measure would be able to produce the money needed to begin many of the projects and could be used to leverage additional state and federal funds.

While many of those projects are in the South Bay, they would help in assuring the entire Bay stays healthy and also ensure that decades of development, diking and fill would be rectified. There are also opportunities in San Mateo County for projects, including the restoration of marsh land near San Francisquito Creek and even some improvements at Coyote Point.

Restoring Bay marsh land is key to preventing flooding, reducing pollution and creating new recreation areas for all to enjoy. The purchase in 2003 was a tremendous step toward the potential for this land, and other areas, to be restored. This nine-county proposal, Measure AA, now provides the much-needed funding for its restoration. This has been a long thought-out process with tremendous benefits for everyone in the Bay Area with just a small amount of revenue provided by each and every property owner in nine counties. It deserves your support.

 

Cal Berkeley has $150 Million DEFICIT—not a Media Story

The radical indoctrination camp known as Cal Berkeley has a $150 million debt.  This is the University that uses gender based departments to teach the superiority of one gender over another.  Cal also has ethnic departments teaching that white people are bad and that black races are superior in black classes, Hispanics are superior in Hispanic courses, etc.  Bigotry and hatred are the roles of these department.  Try claiming all lives matter in a Black History class and see if you survive the 45 minutes.

“Chancellor Nicholas Dirks opened the meeting with a statement on the campus’s larger financial problems. The budget deficit is $150 million this year, Dirks said at the meeting, and without immediate action, the deficit could grow by another $50 million by July 2017. Present efforts will reduce the deficit by $85 million by next year, he added.

Dirks said the administration has already begun to take action — such as the recent creation of the Office of Strategic Initiatives — and is well into the process of balancing the budget within the next five years.

Instead of ending the indoctrination and bigotry they are firing 500 workers—just like Leftists—make the people suffer while they preach chaos and radicalization.  Seriously, when will the workers understand they have been used by radical for political purposes?

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley faculty hold special meeting on campus deficit, academic realignment

 

By Sareen Habeshian, Daily Californian,  4/13/16

Campus to eliminate 500 jobs over next 2 years as part of deficit reduction UC Berkeley faculty hold emergency meeting on sexual harassment handling Update to campus Academic Realignment Initiative outlines potential cost-cutting changes

The Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate held a special meeting Tuesday on the campus’s financial deficit and the faculty’s role in progress with academic restructuring.

Faculty gathered in the campus’s Booth Auditorium after 40 senate members petitioned to hold an open discussion on efforts by the administration to academically realign the campus by reorganizing certain colleges and staffing structures — a decision that has elicited criticism from the campus community, including faculty and students.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks opened the meeting with a statement on the campus’s larger financial problems. The budget deficit is $150 million this year, Dirks said at the meeting, and without immediate action, the deficit could grow by another $50 million by July 2017. Present efforts will reduce the deficit by $85 million by next year, he added.

Dirks said the administration has already begun to take action — such as the recent creation of the Office of Strategic Initiatives — and is well into the process of balancing the budget within the next five years.

“We know we have to do a great deal more,” Dirks said at the meeting.

The administration came under fire in February for considering the dissolution of the College of Chemistry — a plan that has since been abandoned — as a potential strategic initiative to remedy the campus’s growing deficit. Dirks also sent a memo to campus employees Wednesday announcing that administrative restructuring may lead to cutting staff by 500 positions.

At Wednesday’s meeting, however, Dirks brought up his proposal of a faculty-led working group that would produce reports by January regarding the future of the campus’s academic structure.

In the nearly two-hour open comment period, about 25 faculty members spoke, many of whom criticized the administration’s lack of transparency in the academic realignment process. Many said they were frustrated that their input, as faculty, had not previously been considered in the process.

“Why are these things secret in a place that has the motto ‘Fiat Lux’?” said Louise Fortmann, a campus professor of environmental science, policy and management,  at the meeting.

Campus ESPM professor Carolyn Merchant, an organizer of the petition, called for a “revolution in cost reduction” through reducing not only administrative pay but positions, among other methods. She also called on the administration to “recreate itself as a lean, efficient, moral entity devoted to the public trust.”

Allen Goldstein, professor of ESPM and civil and environmental engineering, urged the administration to stop the process of academic realignment altogether. He called the process “a destructive force within our community” and said the Academic Senate should further discuss the campus’s initiatives to alleviate its financial straits.

Some speakers also called on the administration to seek out alternative sources of funding rather than cut costs through academic realignment.

“We can’t cut our way to prosperity,” said mechanical engineering professor Panayiotis Papadopoulos at the meeting.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof emphasized that the campus cannot adjust its structures and finances without the the input of faculty, students, staff and alumni, among others.

“Meetings like this are extremely important, and perspective of faculty have to be taken into account if we’re going to succeed in our efforts,” Mogulof said.

 

More Misdirection On Our Plan For California Water

DroughtLet’s just get right to it. Appearing in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee, is an editorial titled, “GOP should drop effort to gut Endangered Species Act.” And like past editorials on this topic, the misrepresentation is as blatant as the Kern River is dry — and both are damaging for our state.

This “effort” the editorial board refers to is just the latest in numerous efforts from the House to get the Senate to act on California water. When Republicans regained the majority in the House, we passed legislation each Congress to address California’s water crisis. Last year my House colleagues and I spent hundreds of hours negotiating with Democrats, only to have our Senators fail to show the leadership and courage our state needs to say “yes” to commonsense reforms. So whether or not the Sacramento Bee sees Senator Feinstein’s latest proposal as “thoughtful,” it does little to move us closer to a resolution.

We cannot mistake motion for action. My colleagues and I are ready to go to conference to find a solution — Californians have made it pretty clear they want action. Using the appropriations process is our best course of action.

Moreover, defenders of the status quo continue to push the inaccurate claim that our effort will “gut” the Endangered Species Act. In reality, our language calls for the Bureau of Reclamation (the Federal agency that operates the pumps) to pump at the maximum rate within the biological opinion parameters (-5,000 cfs at Old and Middle River). Here’s the language in our legislation:

“The Secretary of the Interior shall … manage export pumping rates to achieve a reverse OMR flow rate of -5,000 cubic feet per second unless existing information or that developed by the Secretary of the Interior under paragraphs (3) and (4) leads the Secretary to reasonably conclude, using the best scientific and commercial data available, that a less negative OMR flow rate is necessary to avoid a significant negative impact on the long-term survival of the species covered by the smelt biological opinion or salmonid biological opinion.”

Another provision of our proposal allows Reclamation to pump at higher rates to capture El Nino-related storm water provided there are no adverse impacts to protected fish, again using the best science.

This language includes something that I would think all Californians would champion: the best scientific and commercial data available. Instead, the defenders of the status quo point to doomsday scenarios of ecosystem destruction.

mccarthy_2016 export constraints

Just a month ago the Delta outflow was over 100,000 cubic feet per second while regulatory policies limited our ability to pump only -5,000 cubic feet per second. The irreversible damage done? Three adult Delta smelt have been killed and no larval/juvenile smelt have been killed this year. With all the protections for fish in our language, one must wonder if the editorial board simply chooses to hide behind the Endangered Species Act, rather than forcefully defend why it makes sense to continue to arbitrarily cut off water to their fellow Californians who live and work in the two-thirds of our state that is south of Sacramento.

Communities, like in East Porterville, continue to have NO water. It should be commonsense to put the well-being of families ahead of perceived threats to fish. More pumping is something that Senator Feinstein has acknowledged is needed. Instead of mistaking this legislation as a “potshot,” it should instead be highlighted that this is a hopeful development that the House and Senate can reach agreement on California water.

Make no mistake, my House colleagues and I remain unflinching in our resolve to fix this issue for our state, communities, and constituents. We will continue to use every legislative opportunity available to do so.

Originally published by foxandhoundsdaily.com

County payroll hikes stay ahead of population increases

Government is out of control—even in small counties. “Sierra County, tucked in the foothills once traversed by the Donner Party along the Nevada border, has seen its population dip 7 percent since 2010 to 3,000 souls.

Meantime, though, the county’s payroll increased from $7 million in 2013 to $8 million in 2014, while the county’s top wage earner, former Sheriff John Evans, saw his overall pay package increase 13 percent.” This is mainly because of mandates and regulations from Sacramento. The people of Sierra are frugal fiscally responsible folks. Sacrament is a spend and tax place—spend what you want, they raise taxes to pay for it.

In 2014 the GOP gave the people of California an Obama supporter as its candidate. The folks had no choice but NOT to voice—which is why at 42%, the November, 2014 turnout for at an historic low. Just as the 25% for the June primary was an historic low.

The time has come for the Republican Party to act like Republicans. Until then even the small counties will be harmed. The Democrat “moderates” vote like socialists and the Progressives vote like Bernie Sanders. Not much of a choice.

WhiteHouseMoney

County payroll hikes stay ahead of population increases

Steve Miller, CalWatchdog, 1/30/16

Sierra County, tucked in the foothills once traversed by the Donner Party along the Nevada border, has seen its population dip 7 percent since 2010 to 3,000 souls.

Meantime, though, the county’s payroll increased from $7 million in 2013 to $8 million in 2014, while the county’s top wage earner, former Sheriff John Evans, saw his overall pay package increase 13 percent.

Inyo County’s population dropped a modest seven-tenths of a percent, and managed to keep its payroll package total to a minor jump, from $35.3 million in 2013 to $36.6 million in 2014.

But the price of mental health apparently increased in Inyo; Jeanette Schneider, a county psychiatrist, received an 18 percent hike in her employment package in a year, from $164,000 to $195,000.

In isolated pockets around the state, government salaries, with their accompanying benefits, continue to go up.

Even in areas in which there seems little need due to declining population, politicians like Sierra County’s Evans, who worked first as a reserve officer and moved up the ranks, are rewarded with pay increases that rival those in the private sector.

The state still stings from the public salary debacle in Bell, where in 2010 it was revealed that city officials were taking outsized salaries. The discovery led to a 12-year prison sentence for former City Manager Robert Rizzo.

At publicpay.ca.gov, the public can see who is getting paid what at all levels of government

Today, anyone can check salaries in a number of cities, counties and schools via State Controller Betty Yee’s payroll database. Go to publicpay.ca.gov or transparentcalifornia.com, an endeavor hatched by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. The latter is used for this report.

Numerous smaller counties have refused to produce the requested information. Most of the refusals have come from smaller counties losing population, including Trinity, Alpine and Modoc counties.

The state’s population increased 4.2 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to Census Bureau data. Few municipalities lost people, making Sierra County an outlier.

In cities with modest growth, though, double-digit raises have been handed out freely.

San Benito County experienced growth of 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2014. Between 2011 and 2014, the county’s payroll increased 10 percent. The county’s highest paid employee is District Attorney Candice Hooper, whose compensation went from $190,870 in 2011 to $233,061 in 2014, a 22 percent raise.

Then there’s Kern County, which grew 5 percent while County Administrative Officer John Nilon received an $83,210 raise between 2011 and 2014.

The county pay increases have wide variances, and in some cases, both population and overall payroll has remained the same.

The population of Nevada County, for example, has remained the same for five years at around 98,000. Its payroll, at $68 million, has also stayed the same.

“We have wide differences in the state’s 58 counties, and the number of people and the pay scale will vary just as widely,” said Greg Fishman, a spokesman for the California State Association of Counties. He ventured that some of the larger increases in pay are being made up after some years of zero raises, or “catching up.”

The pay of county administrators like Nilon has always been high, and some might say outsized when considering the number of people in a county.

In a number of counties, the boards of supervisors have set higher pay rates for both administrators and elected positions such as sheriff or tax assessor.

Sometimes, pay cuts don’t take.

In El Dorado County, the Board of Supervisors in 2013 vowed to cut the pay of some top positions in the government, including the auditor-controller and the treasurer-tax collector.

The culprit was pay package add-ons, the board said.

“They just started getting more and more and more,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Briggs told a reporter. The changes were to go into effect last year. Current total payroll is not yet available, but the episode typifies how compensation can get out of control, especially when collective bargaining contracts are in play.

Epitomizing the “more and more” concept are three physicians in Kern County, all of whom earn over $1 million in total compensation.

But despite calls for reform of the financially-troubled Kern Medical Center, where the three are employed, there has been little reform of the generous publicly-funded pay practices.

In December 2013, county leaders said the salaries at the medical center needed attention.

“We need to have a payroll review over there,” Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason told a local newspaper. “Cost control has to be paramount in everything we do over there.”

His colleague, Supervisor Leticia Perez, added that “we are making dramatic and significant changes at KMC — to better the organization. It’s good to revisit these contracts.”

In 2014, one of the three physicians, Andrea Snow, saw no boost to her regular salary of $498,429 or the cost of her benefits. Instead, her “other pay,” which can include allowances and bonuses, was boosted by $300,000, a 29 percent compensation increase.

Iraqi Refugee Arrested in CA on Terror Charge

Terror suspect

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab — Facebook

Two Iraqi refugees, one in California, have been arrested on joint terrorism-related charges.

“From his pictures on Facebook, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab looks like any other millennial with a wardrobe of Nike sneakers, Ray-Ban sunglasses and flannel shirts. But federal officials say the 23-year-old was living a double life — one as a refugee starting a new life in America and another as a young man anxious to return to the Middle East to fight in the Syrian Civil War,” the Daily Mail reported. “The Iraqi-born Palestinian man was arrested Thursday in Sacramento, California on charges he was plotting to travel to Syria to join the al-Nusra Front terrorist organization.”

Under the radar

As the New York Times reported, Jayab’s alleged partner in the scheme, 24-year-old Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, “was arrested in Houston and charged with three counts of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, according to a statement from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.”

“Prosecutors said that Mr. Jayab entered the United States from Syria as a refugee in October 2012, living in Arizona and Wisconsin before settling in Sacramento. Mr. Hardan, who lives in Houston, entered the United States as a refugee in 2009 and was granted legal permanent residence status in 2011, according to law enforcement.”

“Prosecutors allege Al Hardan was coordinating efforts with another Iraqi refugee living in California, Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab,” the Associated Press reported. “The two men communicated through Facebook messenger from April 2013 to October 2014 and talked about getting weapons training and eventually sneaking into Syria to fight alongside the terrorist group,” according to prosecution witness Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Herman Wittliff.

In custody

While Al Hardan’s family has been evicted from their apartment, “Al-Jayab remains jailed in Sacramento, California,” the AP added. “Authorities say Al-Jayab fought twice in Syria, including with a group later affiliated with the Islamic State between November 2013 and January 2014.”

Hardan was denied bond by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. Based on details relayed by Wittliff, he ruled “there would be a serious risk that the Iraqi refugee would flee if released from federal custody,” reported Fox News. According to the channel, Wittliff “said that in addition to Al Hardan wanting to set off bombs at the two Houston malls, including the popular Galleria mall, the Iraqi man was also learning how to make electronic transmitters that could be used to detonate improvised explosive devices. Al Hardan wanted used cellphones — a collection of which were found in his apartment — to detonate the devices, Wittliff said.”

Fueling national fears

The arrests have fueled election-year concern, especially among Republicans, that U.S. screening processes have not been adequately tightened amid the rise of ISIS and the recent waves of Mideast migration it has caused. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a consistent critic of President Obama’s border and security policies, took the opportunity to press home the point. “I once again urge the president to halt the resettlement of these refugees in the United States until there is an effective vetting process that will ensure refugees do not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.

And Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, currently pushing a bill that would mandate additional procedures, tied Hardan and Jayab to the broader security situation in a statement. “While I commend the FBI for their hard work, these arrests heighten my concern that our refugee program is susceptible to exploitation by terrorists. The president has assured us that individuals from Iraq and Syria receive close scrutiny, but it is clearly not enough,” he concluded, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

“McCaul introduced the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act last year, which calls for Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks in addition to initial Homeland Security screenings for all ‘covered aliens,’ or refugees with ties to Iraq or Syria. The bill passed 289 to 137 in the House in November.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Sand: The Unions’ Assault on Truth

Union Lie. Unions steal. Unions blackmail. Unions harass. Unions bully and threaten. Sadly, these are all facts that even the unions can not deny. Fail to pay the union a bribe and in many schools you will not be allowed to teach. Want the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union, your car and family are in danger. So, when my good friend Larry Sand notes that unions assault the truth, that is not the only thing unions assaults.

Where does your bribe money go from teachers unions? “What Pechthalt doesn’t mention is that their spending goes to only leftist causes and many donations go to groups that have nothing to do with education whatsoever. A brief look at the union’s parent organization’s latest labor department filing shows that teachers’ dues money went to organizations like The National Newspapers Publishers Association and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. And what teacher isn’t going to be thrilled that the union donated $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative and another $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation? (Only about 13 percent of money given to the latter winds up as charitable grants for those in need. The rest is spent on salaries, benefits, travel and fund-raising.)”

The worst part of this is that government protects and promotes and protects the corrupt unions. Then, government becomes the bagman for these blackmailers/extortionists—government steals money form workers paychecks and gives it to the unions. The government/union cabal is killing freedom and the Rule of law—when government is allowed to steal from workers, when unions are allowed to threaten the jobs of honest people for refusing to pay bribes, we are in trouble.

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The Unions’ Assault on Truth

By Larry Sand, Union Watch, 11/3/15

The teachers unions continue to mislead its members and everyone else.

In the latest issue of the California Federation of Teachers quarterly newsletter, CFT president Josh Pechthalt writes “The lawsuits that educators and unions must defeat,” which is referred to as a “special report” – special because it is especially filled with half-truths, omissions and lies.

Pechthalt starts his piece with, “Education unions and public sector unions are facing legal attacks designed to destroy our ability to represent our members. Not surprisingly, these cases are supported by the usual anti-union law firms and wealthy backers. What follows is a snapshot of the cases CFT and other unions are now fighting.”

He then delves into four lawsuits he claims are an “attack on union treasury driven by wealthy education ‘reformers.’”

The first lawsuit on Pechthalt’s hit list is the Friedrichs case which, if successful, would make paying dues to a public employee union voluntary. The union boss skirts the essence of the suit and instead focuses on a secondary aspect. He writes, “While a complete elimination of agency fee is unlikely, the Supreme Court could make it more difficult to collect agency fee payments, which would have a serious financial impact on unions, weakening our ability to advocate for our members and be engaged in politics.” First, if his scenario is correct, dues collection could be more difficult, but only for teachers who don’t want to join the union. And he doesn’t mention the benefit to the taxpayer who, at least for the latter group, could be out of the dues collection business. Secondly, the ability to be “engaged in politics” is rather humorous. What Pechthalt doesn’t mention is that their spending goes to only leftist causes and many donations go to groups that have nothing to do with education whatsoever. A brief look at the union’s parent organization’s latest labor department filing shows that teachers’ dues money went to organizations like The National Newspapers Publishers Association and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. And what teacher isn’t going to be thrilled that the union donated $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative and another $250,000 to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation? (Only about 13 percent of money given to the latter winds up as charitable grants for those in need. The rest is spent on salaries, benefits, travel and fund-raising.)

Pechthalt’s next hit is on the Students Matter or Vergara case, which he uncleverly dubs “Students Don’t Matter.” In this well-publicized case, the judge struck down the tenure, seniority and dismissal statutes in California’s constitution. Pechthalt claims that these statutes “protect teachers’ ability to teach free of coercion and favoritism.” Baloney. No one in the private sector is entitled to have a job for life and gets to keep their position over a more talented colleague thanks to nothing more than an earlier hiring date; why should public employees merit such extraordinary privilege? All these statutes do is guarantee that mediocre and worse teachers are on equal footing with the good and great ones. And our poorest children have paid the price for decades.

The union president then rolls into Doe v Antioch, litigated by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the same firm that was responsible for Vergara’s success. This suit is based on a 2012 ruling in which Sacramento-based nonprofit EdVoice correctly maintained that teacher evaluations require, in part, the use of standardized test scores and the judge promptly ordered their inclusion. However, in a report released earlier this year that sampled 26 districts’ compliance with the decsion, EdVoice found that half of them were ignoring the court-ordered requirement to use the test scores. Pechthalt claims that, “While a 1999 law amended the 1971 Stull Act to broadly include the use of test scores, the advocates for education unions contend districts were given latitude to negotiate language relevant to their needs.” Fine. But the law says that student test scores still must be used as some part of a teacher’s evaluation. “Latitude” doesn’t mean “none.”

Pechthalt’s last broadside is saved for Bain v CTA, which he subtitles, “I-want-it-all-for-free.” This is a lie, plain and simple. The plaintiffs in this case want to belong to the union, are willing to pay dues, but don’t want to support the union’s political agenda. Maybe they don’t feel like supporting the Clintons. Or maybe they’d like to decide for themselves if their hard-earned money should be given to the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Or maybe they are actually in favor of the reforms that teachers unions regularly fight against in Sacramento.

Sad to say, Pechthalt is not unique. Distorting the truth is very common with union bosses. AFT president Randi Weingarten has proclaimed, “If somebody shouldn’t teach – if somebody can’t teach – they shouldn’t be there.” Nice words, but she doesn’t mean a word of it. During her reign as head of the New York City teachers union, just 88 out of 80,000 teachers lost their jobs for poor performance over a three year period.

The AFT also got caught in a whopper when it claimed in 2014 it had no agency fee payers – teachers who still have to pay money to the union but have exempted themselves from paying for the union’s political agenda – even as AFT locals reported that thousands have gone the agency fee route. In 2015, the union reported exactly one agency fee payer. One.

It’s not only teachers unions that have a loose relationship with facts. UnionWatch’s Ed Ring has given us a primer in Deceptive and Misleading Claims – How Government Unions Fool the Public. It is up to teachers, citizens and journalists to learn the truth and start calling unions on their BS. Maybe then their lies will stop, or at least slow down a bit. Maybe.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

 

Barriers to Care Persist Despite Massive Expansion of Medi-Cal

As said before in the California Political News and Views, Medi-Cal in California now has given out 12 million health care cards. At the same time we have a major doctor shortage, hospitals are closing and the availability of needed specialists is almost non-existent. The card is as valuable as a W.T. Grant credit card (anybody remember that out of business retailer?)

“Many of the clinic’s patients come from the communities just south of LA’s central core, where incomes are low and many people live in crowded conditions. The area suffers a severe shortage of primary care doctors and dentists and is considered medically underserved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon as Core prepares for an afternoon clinic, he learns that one woman he’d planned to see that day just passed away after battling kidney cancer.

“She should have seen an oncologist right away,” Core said.”

Obama and Jerry Brown lied, and people died. No surprise.

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Barriers to Care Persist Despite Expansion of Medi-Cal

By Robin Urevich, HealthyCal, 4/6/15

The Affordable Care Act, with its promise of health care for most Americans, represents a welcome step forward for physicians who have cared for the uninsured.

Michael Core, a primary care doctor at The USC Eisner Clinic, treats some of the city’s poorest people in a spare no-frills office just south of downtown Los Angeles. Core says it’s great that his previously uninsured patients have access to a range of specialists that they never did before—at least on paper.

Many of them are part of the ACA’s huge expansion of the state’s Medi-Cal program. State officials say the increase in recipients—3 million new enrollees in 2014— hasn’t affected the quality of service they receive, but both patients and physicians report potentially dangerous long waits for specialty care.

Many of the newly insured are baffled by insurance and have trouble navigating the health care system. Core now spends much of his time deciphering his patients’ paperwork and helping them cut through insurance company red tape.

Many of the clinic’s patients come from the communities just south of LA’s central core, where incomes are low and many people live in crowded conditions. The area suffers a severe shortage of primary care doctors and dentists and is considered medically underserved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon as Core prepares for an afternoon clinic, he learns that one woman he’d planned to see that day just passed away after battling kidney cancer.

“She should have seen an oncologist right away,” Core said.

Instead, she saw the specialist months after her diagnosis, delaying chemotherapy that should have begun within weeks.

Her managed care plan, LA Care, had denied her referrals to some of the specialty care she needed. Core’s patient was also repeatedly denied medication for potentially fatal blood clots because the insurer said a pulmonologist should have written the prescription, not Core, the primary care physician.

“Authorizations would come super late, so she’d go a week or two without blood thinner,” Core said. “You’re trying to coordinate care, and then you’re getting denied.”

“A story like that is absolutely unacceptable,” said John Wallace, LA Care’s interim CEO. “There are a lot of safeguards to make sure things don’t deteriorate. The health plan can be their advocate. What you find in the Medi-Cal population is that people are disenfranchised. They don’t know that regulations are in place to help them.”

It’s impossible to know if Core’s patient would have survived or lived longer had she gotten the care she needed on time.

“But it doesn’t help the perception,” Core said. “Someone has a terminal disease, and you don’t seem to be getting help, but barriers. The system is designed to provide barriers.”

Some 70 percent of Medi-Cal beneficiaries are enrolled in managed care plans. In exchange for a per person payment from the state, the plans are required to offer medically necessary care to all of their members. Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are not in managed care are in what’s called fee for service Medi-Cal in which the state reimburses physicians directly.

Two managed care plans serve Los Angeles County. LA Care is a non-profit overseen by the county Board of Supervisors and contracts with commercial plans to cover  nearly two thirds of beneficiaries. Health Net, a commercial plan, insures the rest.

But Core and other physicians report that some of their sickest patients can’t get timely specialty appointments, or have trouble obtaining the medications they’re prescribed.

The obstacles are particularly irksome to Core, who chose family medicine to offer quality health care to poor people.

Growing up poor in East Los Angeles, he was especially sensitive to the divide between rich and poor.

“I’d see the disparities on TV, and wonder, why isn’t my life like that?” he said. Then his family moved to the suburbs, and he saw first-hand that middle class people enjoyed better opportunities than those in his old neighborhood. The class divide loomed even larger when he was accepted to Yale University as an undergrad.

“It didn’t feel right,” he said, “that I could advance socially and economically and my friends couldn’t.”

He figured he’d do his part to close the gap as a family doctor in an area where physicians and especially Latino physicians are in short supply.

On this day, his first patient is 65-year-old Wassell Grissom, who wears a plaid fisherman’s cap and comes in with a sheaf of papers and an oxygen tank attached to a walker. Grissom has lung disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hepatitis C, from which he thinks he’s recovered with new medication, and perhaps a cold.

Core listens to his lungs, which sound pretty good, except for a crackle, which may be the cold he’s developing.

But most of the visit is taken up with untangling Grissom’s insurance troubles.

Grissom, whose managed care plan is Health Net, has come to the clinic because he ran out of medications and can’t get his prescriptions filled. He’s also having trouble getting all of the oxygen tanks he needs.

“The pharmacy only gave me a few pills because the doctor wasn’t registered through the insurance plan. Another problem, I’m on so many medications. The insurance company only allows four to six medications at a time each month. I have to get all my meds. At least I get my choice [of which medications to purchase],” Grissom said.

Core began practicing medicine just a few years before President Obama’s first term, when the Affordable Care Act was conceived, and although he backs the reforms, he says they don’t go far enough.

Many doctors won’t accept Medi-Cal patients at all, or do so selectively because Medi-Cal payments to California physicians are among the lowest in the country, while the costs of doing business are among the highest.

What’s more, physicians are in short supply altogether, and in rural areas or poor neighborhoods like those in South LA they’re even scarcer.

Just 32 physicians practice in zip codes 90011 and 90037, which include the communities just south of the Eisner clinic, according to Medical Board of California data. By contrast, 834 doctors are listed in zip codes 90049 and 90024, which include the wealthy communities of Pacific Palisades and Brentwood.

Still, Medi-Cal managed care plans like Health Net and LA Care report that their physician networks are sufficient to serve their patient loads in every region of the county.

So-called provider network reports for both plans for the third quarter of 2014 show compliance with state standards, which require that a single physician’s patient load not exceed 2,000 people.

But those reports provide little solace to patients whose assigned doctors can’t give them appointments for more than a month, or to those who might be seeking care from physicians who are out of business altogether or who no longer accept Medi-Cal.

A check of LA Care’s primary care doctors in the 90011 and 90037 zip codes shows that of 16 physicians’ offices contacted, two are no longer in business. One number was disconnected and the other rang up a skilled nursing facility whose medical staff didn’t include the doctor that LA Care listed.

Three medical offices couldn’t offer adult appointments for three weeks or more, even though state standards and the plans’ contract with the Department of Health Care Services require that non-emergency primary care appointments be available within ten working days.

Of 21 specialty care physicians’ offices contacted in the area, five in the LA Care directory were no longer in business, or were no longer located in the area. Two didn’t accept Medi-Cal patients at all.

All but one of those who said they did accept Medi-Cal, however, could book an appointment within 15 working days, meeting the state’s standard of care.

“First and foremost, the information should be up to date,” Wallace said, adding that it’s not easy to update because thousands of providers are changing addresses and affiliations. “We put a lot of resources into keeping data accurate.” Wallace also noted that a member who wanted to change doctors would go to the plan’s member services department, and wouldn’t necessarily need the published provider directory.

Medi-Cal is heading for a crisis, with a huge increase in enrollment in recent years, Leah Newkirk said in an email. Newkirk is the vice president of the San Francisco-based California Academy of Family Physicians. The organization has collected 70 responses from family doctors to a survey on Medi-Cal access. Most of them noted difficulties in getting specialty care for their patients, especially neurologists, endocrinologists, psychiatrists, rheumatologists, pain management specialists, orthopedists, and referrals for imaging or drugs

“Most respondents describe patients being shuttled in and out of the system as primary care physicians scramble to find a specialist who will accept a Medi-Cal patient,” wrote CAFP’s Abhinaya Narayanan in a summary of the results.

State regulators do not believe the crisis that Newkirk cites exists. Sarah Brooks, Chief of the Managed Care Quality and Monitoring Division at the Department of Health Care Services said the huge increase in Medi-Cal beneficiaries has not affected the quality of their care.

But LA Care’s Wallace argued that the influx of members has indeed required some adjustment in his network. Medi-Cal members used to be primarily moms and kids, but now adults with complicated conditions are entering the system.

“We have lots of work going forward to refine our delivery model now that we have the new membership,” Wallace said.

Still, Medi-Cal beneficiaries’ problems with access to health care have caught the ear of legislators, regulators and advocates.

The state legislature’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee has ordered the state auditor to investigate the adequacy of Medi-Cal managed care networks, as well as the state’s oversight of the plans, and the governor has signed legislation to tighten managed care regulation, including for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

In his office near the end of his day, Core says he’d like to get the insurance companies out of the business of medicine altogether. “We just need single payer,” he said.

Still, Core argued that even if all the obstacles to care were removed, there still wouldn’t be enough physicians to serve all of California’s patients, especially those who depend on public