Monday, September 7, 2015


California Gov. Jerry Brown wants over three billion dollars in new taxes, including a $65 tax on every vehicle, plus increases in gasoline and diesel excise taxes. The money will go to paying for transportation needs that he ignored in his recent budget.

Once again, Brown has decided that the 42 Republican legislators in the State Capitol are chumps.
This week, Brown’s office circulated his latest proposal to fund transportation infrastructure–after both the State Senate and State Assembly Republican Caucuses have been unequivocal that raising taxes on Californians is off of the table.
Gov. Brown Proposes $65 Fee On Drivers As Part Of $3.6 Billion Plan To Fix Highways
CBS San Francisco
Within hours of the release of the Governor’s wish-list for legal plunder, Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) released a statement saying that “the Administration’s ideas call for more than doubling the vehicle registration fees and raising the price of fuel on all Californians–we disagree and think Californians have paid enough.”
State Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) issued a joint release with Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, in which Nielsen spoke to the proposed taxes:
The Governor’s solution to fixing our roads and highways cannot be to raise taxes. We are already paying enough. What are they doing with the taxes Californians have been paying at the pumps? Most Californians drive over 10,000 miles each year; an increase of six cents per gallon for gas, eleven cents per gallon for diesel and paying an additional $65 in car taxes per vehicle is an enormous burden on California’s working families least able to pay them.
Apparently Governor Brown thinks that Republicans are “posturing,” and not serious about drawing a line in the sand against higher taxes.
The Governor wants Republican legislators to forget that it was just two-and-a-half months ago that he signed the largest budget in state history, coming in at nearly $160 billion dollars. This partisan budget was negotiated between Brown and Democrat leaders, without any meaningful input taken from Republicans. Since a budget requires only a simple majority vote, no Republican votes were needed.
Despite billions of dollars in unanticipated tax revenues, and rosy forecasts for the year, the new budget “shorted” needed transportation funding. This was done with premeditation on the Governor’s part, given that as soon as he signed the budget, he then called for a special session of the legislature to raise taxes to fill the politically manufactured transportation funding deficit.
Clearly, again, Brown’s thinking is that Republican legislators are just lacking in intelligence, at even a basic level.
Republicans spent the 2013-2014 legislative term in the super-minority in the Capitol. They had very, very little power. What little leverage they did have was only due to serial corruption by Democrats in the State Senate, with three of them not voting for much of the term (one of the three was convicted on multiple felonies, the other two await trial, but have since termed out).
The 2014 campaign by Republicans to climb out of the super-minority, and regain relevance in the State Capitol, was largely centered around an explicit theme that if the GOP could pick up seats, they could stop tax increases from being passed in the legislature. Perhaps if they were taking a shot at being the majority party in the Capitol, there would have been a more robust and broad campaign theme. But climbing back to over a third in each caucus was about being able to mount an effective defense: no new taxes.
Right now is when Republican legislators are showing their worth, and demonstrating their resolve. This is the moment when they are showing countless volunteers, donors and supporters that elections do matter, and that united together Republicans can protect California taxpayers.
Ironically, the Governor’s ongoing insistence that taxes be hiked by billions of dollars gives Republican legislators a chance to demonstrate that they have the courage of their convictions.
The sad reality is that this kind of high-stakes kabuki with Republicans has a tremendous downside for the State of California, which is that despite the fact that taxpayers are sending record funds to state government, Democrats simply won’t spend any of that money on the basic brick-and-mortar building of roads.
If the Governor was truly interested in making California a better place, instead of abusing Republicans, he should actually listen to them. While some solid Republican ideas were incorporated into the Governor’s latest proposals, largely rejected were a lot of great and creative proposals put forward by the GOP caucuses to fund transportation infrastructure using existing tax revenues.
Maybe, just maybe, if Capitol Democrats will absorb the fact that car taxes, gas taxes, income taxes, property taxes, tobacco taxes, and oil severance taxes (to name a few of those proposed) are not going to happen, the last week of the legislative session could be used productively to prioritize some existing revenue for roads, highways and bridges.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher His column appears weekly on this page. You can reach Jon at

Sunday, September 6, 2015

[OPINION] Nuclear States Do Not Comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Farhang JahanpourFarhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.This is the second of a series of 10 articles in which Jahanpour looks at various aspects and implications of the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme reached in July 2015 between Iran and the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany, plus the European Union.
OXFORD, Sep 5 2015 (IPS) - Article Six of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) makes it obligatory for nuclear states to get rid of their nuclear weapons as part of a bargain that requires the non-nuclear states not to acquire nuclear weapons. Apart from the NPT provisions, there have been a number of other rulings that have reinforced those requirements.
However, while nuclear states have vigorously pursued a campaign of non-proliferation, they have violated many NPT and other international regulations.
An advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996 stated: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” Nuclear powers have ignored that opinion.
The nuclear states, especially the United States and Russia, have further violated the Treaty by their efforts to upgrade and diversity their nuclear weapons. The United States has developed the “Reliable Replacement Warhead”, a new type of nuclear warhead to extend the viability of its nuclear arsenal.
The United States and possibly Russia are also developing tactical nuclear warheads with lower yields, which can be used on the battlefield without producing a great deal of radiation. Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge to reduce and ultimately abolish nuclear weapons, it has emerged that the United States is in the process of developing new categories of nuclear weapons, including B61-12 at a projected cost of 348 billion dollars over the next decade
India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea cannot be regarded as nuclear states. Since Article 9 of the NPT defines Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) as those that had manufactured and tested a nuclear device prior to 1 January 1967, it is not possible for India, Pakistan, Israel or North Korea to be regarded as nuclear weapon states.
“All nuclear powers have continued to strengthen and modernise their nuclear arsenals. While they have been vigorous in punishing, on a selective basis, the countries that were suspected of developing nuclear weapons, they have not lived up to their side of the bargain to get rid of their nuclear weapons”
All those countries are in violation of the NPT, and providing them with nuclear assistance, such as the U.S. agreement with India to supply it with nuclear reactors and advanced nuclear technology, constitutes violations of the Treaty. The same applies to U.S. military cooperation with Israel and Pakistan.
Nuclear states are guilty of proliferation 
Paragraph 14 of the binding U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 that called for the disarmament of Iraq also specified the establishment of a zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in the Middle East.
It was clearly understood by all the countries that joined the U.S.-led coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait that after the elimination of Iraqi WMDs, Israel would be required to get rid of its nuclear arsenal. Israel – and by extension the countries that have not implemented that paragraph – have violated that binding resolution. Indeed, both the United States and Israel are believed to maintain nuclear weapons in the region.
During the apartheid era, Israel and South Africa collaborated in manufacturing nuclear weapons, with Israel leading the way. In 2010 itwas reported that “the ‘top secret’ minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa’s Defence Minister P.W. Botha asked for nuclear warheads and the then Israeli Defence Minister Shimon Peres responded by offering them ‘in three sizes’.”
The documents were uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries. Israeli officials tried hard to prevent the publication of those documents. In 1977, South Africa signed a pact with Israel that included the manufacturing of at least six nuclear bombs.
The 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference also called for “the early establishment by regional parties of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other WMDs and their delivery systems”. The international community has ignored these resolutions by not pressing Israel to give up its nuclear weapons. Indeed, any call for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East has been opposed by Israel and the United States.
The 2000 NPT Review Conference called on “India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) promptly and without condition”. States Parties also agreed to “make determined efforts” to achieve universality. Since 2000, little effort has been made to encourage India, Pakistan or Israel to accede as NNWS.
The declaration agreed by the Iranian government and visiting European Union foreign ministers (from Britain, France and Germany) that reached an agreement on Iran’s accession to the Additional Protocol and suspension of its enrichment for more than two years also called for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction throughout the Middle East.
The three foreign ministers made the following commitment: “They will cooperate with Iran to promote security and stability in the region including the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations.” Twelve years after signing that declaration, the three European countries and the international community have failed to bring about a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

[EDITORIAL] Missouri Bridge Crisis

Kimberling City bridge
The latest bad news about deteriorating bridges in Missouri makes us even more grateful about the pending construction of a new Missouri River bridge here.

Based on recent inspections, MoDOT officials say that 641 bridges in Missouri are in such bad condition they are a blink away from being closed. And there’s no funds earmarked for repairs or replacement.
hat’s 50 more bridges on the critical list than last year.
MoDOT has closed four bridges because of their deteriorated condition and expects to close more in the coming year.
Expect that list to grow year after year because many bridges in Missouri are just plain OLD!
Like the bridge here at Washington.
When work begins late next year on a new Missouri River span, the current structure will be 80 years old, well beyond its expected 50-year lifespan.
It was a long struggle to secure approval and funding to replace the old bridge, which had not been on the short list for replacement. Major repairs were made twice since 1996.
In the end, transportation officials and lawmakers bowed to the squeaky wheel, in this case a regional committee spearheaded by local attorney Bob Zick. Zick became passionate about getting a new bridge after the Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis, Minn., collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145. That bridge, which had components similar to the Washington Bridge, was only 40 years old.
Zick and company never wavered from their mission, first getting support of local government officials throughout the area and then the backing of federal and state officials who were able to secure funding for the $60 million project.
Efforts for a new bridge also were backed by the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee and the city.
Here, it has been a success story, with the next chapters to be written in 2016 when a contract will be awarded and initial work started. Officials hope to have traffic on the bridge in 2018.
Meanwhile, many other Missouri bridges continue to deteriorate because of a lack of funding to repair or replace them.
Will it take a catastrophe like the bridge collapse in Minnesota to get Missouri lawmakers to realize the need to address our aging bridges and other transportation infrastructure?
Everyone’s tired of more of the same political sidestepping.
While our legislators continue to fiddle around, more Missouri roads and bridges are failing!
Where’s the leadership?

[COMMENTARY] What Will They Vote Themselves?

There seemed no end to the teeming tide of Irish that washed ashore in New York City when the famine compelled a mass exodus out of the isle. By the early 1850s, the city and the country faced its first immigration crisis. At a time in which there were no social services – indeed, the very concept of a social safety net did not yet exist – the first wave of unskilled, unlearned Irish immigrants soon became a plague upon the city’s slums. “You have no idea what an immense vat of misery and crime and filth this great city is,” wrote the Protestant missionary and philanthropist Charles Loring Brace. “Think of ten thousand children growing up almost sure to be prostitutes and rogues.”
Brace was one of many charitable souls who took it upon themselves to descend upon lower Manhattan and to house and educate the destitute (Brace’s Children’s Aid Society endures to this day). These works, while undertaken out of a sense of altruistic obligation, were in part a project of self-preservation. These children were a great humanitarian tragedy in 1853, but by 1873 they would become the vanguard of a violent criminal epidemic. By the 1850s, more than half of the arrests in the city were of Irish-born immigrants. Seven in 10 foreign-born prisoners by 1858 were Irish. Nearly three-quarters of those arrested for drunken and disorderly conduct by the final year of the decade came for the Emerald Isle. The future seemed bleak.
Still worse to some was the prospect that the products of this privation who eventually emerged from the shadows would participate ill-equipped in the democratic process. “In 20 years’ time, they will have grown up, and they will vote, and what will they vote themselves?” the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, summarizing Brace’s thinking, wondered. These foreign masses needed to be assimilated into American society, and soon. The alternative was too terrible to contemplate.
“The great duty,” Brace wrote, “is to get utterly out of their surroundings and to send them away to kind Christian homes in the country.” And that is precisely what he did. Over the next 75 years, 100,000 destitute children were uprooted, put onto trains, and absorbed into rural America. The blight Irish of criminality foretold in the middle of the 19th century never materialized.
Today, a new generation of children is in jeopardy, and the future they will inherit is in peril. “An estimated 13.7 million school age children from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Sudan aren’t in school, out of a total of 34 million, the United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef, said,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. That’s 40 percent of the children in five Middle Eastern nations marred by war and civil conflict. UNICEF officials believe that rate could rise to 50 percent or more in the coming years as the conflicts roiling these countries intensify.
Some of these children are taken from this world too early, as was illustrated so traumatically this week when a three-year-old Syrian boy clad in playful shorts and a bright red t-shirt washed ashore on a Turkish beach. He and his older brother drowned when their makeshift boat capsized on the way toward Western Europe and what they surely hoped would be peace. These children never made it to relative safety in Europe, but tens of thousands of Middle Eastern migrants have.
Europe is now gripped by a refugee crisis of proportions unknown since the Second World War. Great columns of migrants are startling observers as they make their way down Hungarian highways and Bulgarian rail lines toward Austria, Germany, France, Great Britain, and, ultimately for some, toward the Atlantic and North America. So far in 2015, more than 300,000 migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have crossed the Mediterranean and into Europe – more than the sum total of refugees who crossed the Mare Nostrum in 2014, which totaled over 219,000. The bulk of them are Syrians who are fleeing a horrible conflict characterized by authoritarianism, radical Islamism, and chemical warfare. A substantial number are, however, of Eritrean origins – a nation struggling with abject poverty and ruled by an oppressive, dictatorial regime. The crises in these two nations are distinct but equally inextricable.
The practical effects of this wave of migrants on Europe are dramatic. The rise of Europe’s far-right elements has been catalyzed by the migrant crisis. The Schengen Agreement, which permits passport-free travel in between European Union nations, is coming unglued. Borders are being tightly controlled again in places like Italy, and the outlying EU member states of Hungary and Bulgaria are exploring the possibility of constructing steel security fences along their borders to keep out the tide of humanity escaping death at home. The Czech Republic has called for NATO aid to help enforce the borders on the periphery of the Schengen zone.
The political impact of this crisis is equally unnerving. “There is a clear difference between the new member states and the old member states,” Slovakia’s foreign minister said of the “scary” invasion of migrants from the East. He noted that, while Old Europe is “multi-racial” and “multi-religious,” the former Warsaw Pact does not have this same experience. In Hungary, where the far-right Jobbik party is already in control of the government, migrants are being shuttled off into makeshift camps or toward their western border with Austria. The government has asked the refugees to avoid entering into Hungary, but there is little they can do to stop the tide. Images of anti-immigrant activists attacking and beating unfortunate refugees are already beginning to surface.
But while xenophobic activists in Europe surely expect that the thousands of refugees will one day return to the homes they left, which in many cases no longer exist, that is an unrealistic hope. Germany is preparing to take in a staggering 800,000 asylum-seekers this year. The image of a dead toddler on a Turkish beach so shocked the conscience Europe’s elite that even recalcitrant governments in places like Britain softened their stance toward refugee admittance. So far, the UK has accepted only 216 people into the country from war-torn regions. Thousands will soon be allowed to resettle in Great Britain. The EU is working on a quota system that would force Western Europe to take in a portion of the hundreds of thousands of migrants straining Greek, Hungarian, and Italian services.
These migrants are unlikely to leave – where would they go? The West has displayed no spine to impose a resolution on the conflicts raging in their native lands. These refugees will settle into their new countries; some will assimilate, but many more will not. Unlike the America into which the Irish migrants of the 19th Century settled, Western Europe does not fetish and facilitate the assimilation of the foreign-born. One cannot help but think of Moynihan’s warning when one considers the children of these wars both in the refugees’ adopted countries and in those war-torn lands in which they remain trapped. What will they vote themselves? Literally, in the case of Europe where they will one day grow up to take advantage of the franchise, and figuratively in the ravaged and authoritarian Middle Eastern and North African provinces they will be bequeathed by their brutish forbearers. What kind of future will they make? There are too few Charles Loring Braces today to take the hands of these children and show them a better way. Many are truly on their own. What kind of world will they build for themselves and for us?


San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, left, Under Sheriff Federico Rocha and legal counsel Freya Horne, right, speak during a news conference, Friday, July 10, 2015, in San Francisco. Mirkarimi provided information regarding the April 2015 release of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who is now accused in the shooting death of a woman at a popular tourist site.

A majority of Californians are opposed to “sanctuary city” policies in which local jurisdictions ignore federal immigration detainer requests, according to a new poll from the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California, Berkeley.

The poll, released Friday, reveals that opposition to local officials ignoring federal immigration requests runs high in The Golden State and cuts across ideological and ethnic lines.
According to the online survey of 1,098 California residents, 74 percent said “local authorities should not be able to ignore these federal requests,” and just 26 percent said authorities should be able to ignore such requests.
Republicans were the most opposed to sanctuary policies with 82 percent saying local officials should not be allowed to ignore detainers. A majority of Democrats and independents were also opposed — 73 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
“We found very broad-based opposition to the idea of sanctuary cities,” IGS Director Jack Citrin, a political science professor at UC-Berkeley said in a statement. “Californians want their local officials to abide by the requests of federal authorities.”
As for individual ethnic groups, 65 percent of Latinos said they opposed sanctuary policies. Seventy-five percent of Asians, 75 percent of African Americans and 80 percent of whites agreed.
Citrin noted that virtually all respondents (99.5 percent) identified as U.S. citizens.
“While these results for Latino residents are interesting, people should bear in mind some limitations on our data, including the fact that our survey was conducted only in English, and that our sample consisted almost entirely of citizens,” Citrin said.
Sanctuary city policies have been put under a national microscope following the July shooting death of Kathryn Steinle. Steinle was allegedly murdered by a multiple deportee illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet who was released from jail after San Francisco authorities ignored a federal immigration detainer.
According to the poll, which was conducted between Aug. 11 and Aug. 26, Steinle’s murder did not have much of an impact on the poll results as 71 percent of respondents who were polled just on the sanctuary city policy said local officials should comply with detainers. That percentage rose to 76 percent when respondents were offered details about the recent shooting.
“Whether they were told about the recent San Francisco shooting or not,” Citrin said, “a strong majority of respondents made it clear that local authorities should not be able to ignore a federal request to hold an undocumented immigrant.”

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