Here are the week’s best pieces from WOW!
Well, now we remember the numerous undercover videos that exposed the ugliness of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry don’t we? So how would a left wing state like, say
CaliMarxifornia react to such means of bathing the moral morass of Planned Paenthood? Would its legislature seek to come down on Planned Parenthood? No, no, instead they are going to go after the whistleblowers
The California legislature is near final approval of a bill that would make it a crime, punishable by a jail sentence, to carry out and distribute undercover video or audio stings against Planned Parenthood and other health-care groups.
The measure was inspired by two California antiabortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. The project prompted multiple investigations by Congress and states.
The bill was approved by the California state Senate on Wednesday and has broad support in the Assembly, which passed an earlier version and is expected to concur in several Senate amendments before sending it to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
California law, like laws in other states, already bars use of an electronic device to listen in on or record people without their permission.
The new measure, authored by Assembly member Jimmy Gomez with the backing of Planned Parenthood, protects health-care providers in particular and would prohibit the intentional disclosure of such recordings, video or audio, without the consent of all parties “in any forum, including, but not limited to, Internet Web sites and social media, or for any purpose …”
When faced with its own depravity, the Left will seek to punish those that tell the truth. It does not matter what the facts are, because, again, truth is not valued by the Left
After 19 denials, Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten is a step closer to being free, after a parole board panel recommended her release, a spokesman for the California department of corrections said Thursday.
The full Board of Parole Hearings will review the decision during the next four months, then could send the case to California Gov. Jerry Brown, according to corrections spokesman Luis Patino.
Brown will have 30 days to decide whether to approve or deny the recommendation.
Van Houten and others were convicted for the 1969 murders of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. Van Houten was sentenced to death in 1971 but one year later the death penalty was overturned. Her first conviction was overturned, too, because her lawyer died before that trial ended.
She was tried twice more (one ended in a hung jury) and in 1978 was sentenced to life in prison.
In 1994, Van Houten described her part in the killings in a prison interview with CNN’s Larry King.
“I went in and Mrs. LaBianca was laying on the floor and I stabbed her,” said Van Houten, who was 19 at the time of the murders. “In the lower back, around 16 times.”
Van Houten reportedly has apologized to the LaBianca family.
She was not directly involved in the killings of five people at the home of film director Roman Polanski, near Hollywood. Among the victims that night was Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate.
Van Houten, 66, was convicted of being involved in the conspiracy of those killings and for the murders of the LaBiancas the next night.
She has been described as a model prisoner who worked with other inmates and who earned a college degree.
I was walking through downtown Sacramento recently when raindrops started falling. People on the street stopped dead in their tracks, looked up at the sky, and began acting giddy. “What’s that?” I asked a man. “I think it’s something called rain,” he responded. Such is the gallows humor in a state that hasn’t seen substantial rainfall in years.
The obvious lack of rain is the seemingly obvious reason for the state’s lack of sufficient water. Water levels in state reservoirs are falling, officials are cracking down on “excess” water use (lawn-watering, etc.), and voters passed a water bond on the 2014 ballot to help fund more storage. The Capitol crowd is obsessed with the water issue, while local planners use the crisis to clamp down on building permits.
State officials say California’s drought is “one of the most severe droughts on record,” and they warn that even an El Niño rainy season is unlikely to fix the situation. In fact, nothing seems to fix the situation. Californians have slashed their water use by 31 percent during July – well above the 25-percent reduction targeted by the governor. And there’s still not enough water.
But as this series will show, California’s drought is largely a man-made crisis. It is caused by a series of policies – some from the past, many ongoing – which has prioritized environmental demands above the basic provision of water resources to the public. More than half of the state’s water resources simply flow out the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
Even now, in the Sierra foothills, state officials empty reservoirs to protect “unimpeded” river flows to benefit small numbers of non-endangered hatchery fish. The California Coastal Commission, the powerful agency with control of development along the shoreline, is holding up a privately planned desalination plant over concerns about its impact on plankton. The environment-friendly commission want to force the developers to build a pumping system that destroys the economics of the plant.
Meanwhile, slow-growth activists see opportunity in the drought. Their goal is to stop new developments despite California’s growing population, so a lack of water is a useful tool in their arsenal. A state law forces developers to prove sufficient water resources for decades into the future – before being able to get a permit to build developments. This slow-growth lobby sees no reason to come up with water-storage solutions.
Even the federal government is in on the action. In the far northern part of the state, along the Klamath River, federal environment officials want to remove four dams that provide water storage near the Oregon border. Their goal is to help preserve the habitat of non-native salmon. The “destroy the dams” movement had gained so much steam in recent years that San Franciscans were asked in a 2012 advisory vote to destroy the O’Shaughnessy dam in Yosemite National Park and drain the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir – the main source of water for the state’s third-largest city. Even that city’s notoriously lefty voters said “no” to shutting their main water spigot.
If one takes a map of the state of California and turns it on its side, with the Pacific boundary at the bottom, it’s easy to better understand the state’s water geology. Water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through rivers that head toward San Francisco Bay. It all ends up in a place called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the West Coast’s largest estuary. That’s near the lowest point in your sideways map. Then it heads to the bay and, then, the ocean.
When you hear Californians argue about the Delta, that’s what they are talking about. It’s a 1,100-square-mile area with 1,000 miles of rivers filled with historic towns, orchards, swamps, islands, and marinas. That estuary serves as a giant water filter. Primarily, the mighty Sacramento River meanders through the delta, kept within its banks by a series of aged dirt levees. A pumping station at the south end near Tracy sends water along a system of canals to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley – and also to the Southern metropolises.
During wet years, the estuary is filled with fresh water. During droughts, the salinity levels are high as water from the Pacific migrates eastward. That region remains Ground Zero for the state’s water fights. The fate of a tiny baitfish called the Delta Smelt is central here. Occasionally, a few dead smelt are found at the fish screens in Tracy, which causes administrators to shut down water supplies from the Delta toward the south. Water supplies are also stopped during drought years.
In 1982, our past and current governor, Jerry Brown, wanted to build a peripheral canal that would bypass the crumbling levees and take Sacramento River water around the Delta – before heading to the farm and urban water users. The state’s voters rejected that measure. Southern Californians were mostly indifferent to the idea, but Northern Californians resented having more of “their” water sent away.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest plan is to build twin tunnels under the Delta to provide a more consistent water supply southward. The planned cost: $25 billion for the total project, with a separate portion geared toward environmental restoration. Northern Californians are still mostly against it, as they claim it’s a water grab by Los Angeles-based users. (To understand the emotions, watch “Chinatown,” the 1974 movie about the deceptive way Owens Valley water was diverted to the Southland to spur the growth of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley).
Looking deeply into the plan, this much is clear: The newly renamed “California Water Fix” doesn’t even promise more water to southern cities. It simply promises a more consistent water supply. The twin tunnels are designed to change the flow of the rivers and protect the Delta Smelt. With the smelt protected, there will be fewer reasons to shut the pumps. In other words, this is a costly engineering solution to a political problem.
And therein lies California’s main water problem. No one here denies the importance of the environment or that some portion of the state’s scarce water resources needs to be used to protect wetlands and river habitats. But the balance of power has shifted from those who believe that people come first to those who seem to view the population as a scourge.
In April, I reported on a contentious meeting at the Oakdale Irrigation District east of Modesto. Farmers and local residents were aghast. The state and federal officials insisted on releasing massive amounts of water from the large New Melones Reservoir and Lake Tulloch, a small lake downstream from New Melones surrounded by homes. As the governor was threatening fines for people who take long showers, his State Water Resources Control Board was going to empty reservoirs to save about a dozen fish.
The local farmers and residents were asking for a temporary reprieve. I remember the words of one of the district officials, who was calling for “off ramps” during times of severe drought. That’s jargon for temporarily putting aside some of the more aggressive environmental demands at a time when farms and people are out of water. Bad publicity delayed the “pulse flows,” but by September water officials began insisting on new releases.
Recent reports showed that farmers use 80 percent of California’s water resources. It’s true that farmers are an important interest group. And because of the state’s old and quirky system of water rights, we see infuriating misuses of resources – e.g., farmers growing water-intensive hay in one of the driest regions on Earth, the southern Imperial Valley.
But that 80 percent number was deceptive because it completely omitted environmental uses of water, which constitute more than 50 percent of the state’s flows. Farmers, businesses, and residents fight over what remains. What we’re seeing – water releases to benefit a small number of common fish, removing dams along major rivers, delays of desalination plants, failure to build adequate water storage – is not an anomaly. It is the cumulative effect of water policies dominated by environmental interests.
It wasn’t always this way. In earlier days, California’s water policies had more in common (and with some admittedly ill environmental effect) with the ideas of capitalist defender Ayn Rand than John Muir, the famed naturalist whose environmental legacy dominates California discussions. California leaders were proud of taming the wilderness and building massive infrastructure projects – especially water projects – that allowed the state’s phenomenal growth.
In 1961, when Jerry Brown’s dad, Pat Brown, was governor, the State Water Project was begun. “The project includes 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; four pumping-generating plants; five hydroelectric power plants; and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines,” according to a state description. “The project provides supplemental water to approximately 25 million Californians and about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.”
I’ve toured a lot of the facilities and even was on an official tour of the Colorado River project, following the water as it flowed from reservoirs behind New Deal-era dams at the Arizona border down to the treatment facility in the Los Angeles. It was quite a feat to build these projects. As I argued in my Orange County Register column at the time, it could never be replicated today in a world of Environmental Impact Statements, greenmail lawsuits filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, and a political system dominated by officials more interested in quashing human development than providing the means for humans to thrive in this arid climate.
Sure, it would help if it rained – but the lack of rain is the least of California’s drought problems.
Huntington Park became the first city in California to appoint two undocumented immigrants as commissioners on city advisory boards, a lawmaker confirms.
City Councilman Jhonny Pineda has picked Francisco Medina to join the health and education commission and Julian Zatarain for the parks and recreation commission.
The 32-year-old lawmaker told CBSLA online producer Deborah Meron that he promised voters while running for office that he would create more opportunities for undocumented residents.
“Huntington Park is a city of opportunity and a city of hope for all individuals regardless of socioeconomic status, race, creed, or in this case, citizenship,” the councilman said in a statement. “Both these gentlemen have accomplished a great deal for the city. For that, on behalf of the city council, mayor, and our city, I want to say thank you to them both and I am confident they will do an excellent job on their commission posts.”
The announcement was met with uproar at a city council meeting held in Huntington Park on Monday night.
“You only want to appoint these specific individuals, only two, because they’re your personal friends that worked on your campaign,” one resident stated to Pineda at the meeting. “Shame on you.”
Community activist Sandra Orozco also spoke out against the appointments, stating that they send the wrong message to the community and to the country.
“We’re sending the wrong message to other cities that you can be illegal, and you can come and work for a city,” Orozco said.
Mayor Karina Macias, meanwhile, was vocal in her support of the appointments on Monday, arguing that those who live here deserve a voice, whether they are legal or not.
Pineda says he cleared the appointments with the city attorney, who confirmed there’s nothing that requires a commissioner to be a registered voter, a documented citizen or even a resident, which technically means someone here without legal residency can serve.
“We need to make sure that we bring everyone together to the table here in Huntington Park so that we can make sure we’re sharing the same vision,” Pineda said.
Appointees first passed a LifeScan background check.
Medina and Zatarain would not be paid for the volunteer positions and would not have a direct hand in constructing policy but would help advise the council on legislation. Other commissioners receive a $75 monthly stipend on months when they hold meetings.
Medina attended the meeting on Monday evening but did not want to get into a debate with critics.
“I’m not going to say anything,” Medina explained. “I’m just happy for the fortune that I have, and I’m going to do my best to represent every single resident in Huntington Park, regardless if you’re undocumented, regardless if you are a citizen. We’re just going to be working for everyone.”
Coming the same year that California allowed residents to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status, this move is the latest in an effort to recognize an increasingly sizable demographic in the state.
Pineda says at 13 years old he emigrated alone to the United States. He established legal residency and told Meron he feels blessed to have been able to come here and work. He’s served as a district representative on the California State Senate and legislative assistant for the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently is president of the California Latino Leadership Institute, an organization designed for young professionals interested in leadership development and serving their community.
This is Pineda’s first year on the Huntington Park City Council.
The councilman touched on his childhood in Central America and says there would be nights he’d come home to a house with no food.
He says the criticism of people who emigrate illegally often comes without understanding the hardship they leave behind.
When asked whether he expected any reaction to his commissioner selections, Pineda said: “Having worked at the federal level, I understand that not everything that you do reflects good on the entire nation. Of course, we’re going to have people who disagree with me, but I’m fine with that.”
Pineda says he selected Medina and Zatarain primarily for their contributions to the city.
A graduate from Cal State Dominguez Hills with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Chicano studies, Medina interned for then-Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who now serves on the Los Angeles City Council, Pineda says. Medina also organizes immigration forums aimed a helping working-class communities.
Zatarain is a student at Santa Monica Community College who came to the U.S. in 2007, according to Pineda. At Huntington Park High School, he served as ASB president and graduated with the highest GPA in his class. He acted as campus representative for English as a Second Language program and created a club to help ESL students prepare for college. Pineda says he created a local chapter of the Red Cross and organized several blood drives. Zatarain wants to attend law school.
Pineda says the decision announced at the City Council meeting Monday became official after being processed by the council.
More than half of all new California driver’s licenses this year have gone to people who are in the country illegally, the state said Friday
The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported it has issued roughly 397,000 licenses to people who live in the country illegally. A total of 759,000 licenses have been issued in the first six months of the year. The DMV only issued 435,000 licenses in the first six months of 2014.
The new law initially generated huge interest causing long lines at motor vehicle offices in January and February. The DMV expects to see about one million more applicants over the next three years who are covered under new law.
“We hope that all of those people will be able to pass the testing and have the necessary documents to obtain” a license, said DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez.
Supporters of the law say giving licenses to people regardless of their immigration status makes the road safer for everyone. New drivers say having a license means they can travel more freely for work or pleasure.
“It’s great that people are taking advantage of this new law,” said Jackelin Aguilar, community organizer for Placer People of Faith Together, an Auburn, California-based group that supports the new licenses.
“It’s definitely a step forward for the families, and having identification is huge,” Aguilar said.
Opponents say people who get into the country illegally shouldn’t be rewarded.
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which advocates for legal and limited immigration, criticized California for making life easier for people in the country illegally, at the expense of citizens and legal residents.
“There are now 400,000 more signals to people all over the world that working illegally in California is encouraged by the government itself,” he said.
About 687,000 people have applied for the licenses issued to illegal immigrants. Applicants must pass driving tests and show proof of residency and identity.
The new license is marked differently than those issued to other drivers in the state and is not considered a valid form of federal identification, for example, to board an airplane.
More than 1.1 million people who qualify for the new licenses took the written driver’s test between Jan. 2 and June 30, and 436,000 have also taken a behind-the-wheel driving test.