Rapid transformation of downtown Los Angeles’ skyline is being fueled by huge investments from Chinese companies now under FBI Investigation | Jan 16 2019

FBI corruption probe of L.A. City Hall focuses on downtown development boom

|| LA Times

“The rapid transformation of downtown Los Angeles’ skyline is being fueled in good measure by huge investments from Chinese companies eager to burnish their global brands and capitalize on L.A.’s real estate boom.

..

The warrant, which was filed in federal court in November but reviewed by The Times this weekend, sheds new light on the investigation and shows federal investigators are seeking records related not only to Huizar but also other City Hall officials, including Councilman Curren Price and current or former aides to Huizar, Council President Herb Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti.”

Now some of those projects have become a focus of federal agents seeking evidence of possible bribery, extortion, money laundering and other crimes as part of a corruption investigation at City Hall.

Federal investigators have cast a wide net for information about foreign investment in Los Angeles real estate development, according to a search warrant that names an array of political and business figures.

Among those named are executives of Chinese firms bankrolling two ambitious downtown projects that would result in three new towers on Figueroa Street. Investigators are also seeking records about L.A. development projects involving other foreign investors, including firms with large-scale hotel and residential projects in downtown.

The warrant does not say the FBI has gathered evidence of criminal activity by any of the people or companies named in the document. No one has been arrested or charged in the investigation.

The federal investigation became public in November, when FBI agents descended on the home and offices of L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the vast majority of downtown. Since then, The Times has reported that investigators have sought records involving a longtime lobbyist and a fundraiser close to City Hall.

The warrant, which was filed in federal court in November but reviewed by The Times this weekend, sheds new light on the investigation and shows federal investigators are seeking records related not only to Huizar but also other City Hall officials, including Councilman Curren Price and current or former aides to Huizar, Council President Herb Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Until recently, Huizar headed the powerful council committee that vets development projects. Price, in turn, heads a council committee focused on economic development, which reviews taxpayer subsidies offered by the city to hotel developers in and around downtown.

The warrant is not the only sign of FBI interest in L.A. development.

In recent months, real estate developers with projects in Huizar’s downtown-to-Eagle Rock district have received federal grand jury subpoenas instructing them to turn over communications with the councilman and dozens of current and former Huizar staffers since 2013, according to two sources familiar with the FBI’s instructions.

Those developers also have been told to provide information on any contributions they have made to Huizar’s reelection bid, his officeholder committee, any legal defense fund or his alma mater, Bishop Mora Salesian High School, the sources said. The subpoenas seek information on any donations made to two political committees with ties to Huizar — Community Support PAC and Families for a Better Los Angeles.

Developers in Huizar’s district also have been instructed to provide information on any gifts, meals, trips, vacations, flights, event tickets or rounds of golf they have provided to Huizar, his staff or any other council member, the sources said.

Among the information sought in the warrant were records related to trips to Las Vegas and stays at four hotels, including the Palazzo and Caesars Palace. The document does not explain why investigators want them.

Depending on where it goes, the FBI investigation could spur Angelenos to demand reforms of real estate development and campaign contributions and gifts at City Hall, said Kathy Feng, who was until recently the head of California Common Cause, a watchdog group that monitors ethics and money in politics.

“People already have a level of skepticism about how City Hall decisions are made around major development projects,” she said.

In the warrant, agents sought information from Google about a Gmail account tied to Ray Chan, a former deputy mayor for economic development for Garcetti who once headed the city building department and has worked since then as a consultant. Agents said they were looking for evidence related to an investigation into bribery, extortion, money laundering and other crimes that could involve more than a dozen people.

Among those named were two executives linked to Shenzhen New World Group, a Chinese company that has unveiled plans to redevelop the L.A. Grand Hotel downtown with a 77-story tower and build a 31-story hotel near Universal Studios.

The Times was unable to reach Wei Huang, president of Shenzhen New World Group, and Ricky Zheng, who was identified in state campaign contribution records as a Shenzhen New World LLC executive. Besides evidence of any possible crimes involving the two men, the federal warrant sought records relating to Shenzhen New World Group and two of its hotels.

The warrant, first reported by George Washington University counterterrorism expert Seamus Hughes, also named Fuer Yuan, founder of another company called Shenzhen Hazens. In 2017, the City Council approved a Shenzhen Hazens project on Figueroa Street, allowing the developer to demolish the nine-story Luxe City Center Hotel and replace it with two skyscrapers, one for a hotel, the other for condominiums.

As part of the approval process, the developer signed an agreement to contribute to initiatives long backed by Huizar, including $750,000 to support a planned downtown streetcar and $550,000 to the effort to revitalize the Broadway corridor.

Investigators asked in the warrant about the Luxe Hotel and George Chiang, who city records indicate was involved with the skyscraper project. David Chaiken, a company attorney, told The Times that Shenzhen Hazens was unable to share any information about its activities or the investigation.

 …Read more including comments @ LA Times

The United States’ first confrontation with the Islamic world | Jan 12 2019

Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates

|| City-Journal.Org

“When I first began to plan my short biography of Thomas Jefferson, I found it difficult to research the chapter concerning the so-called Barbary Wars: an event or series of events that had seemingly receded over the lost horizon of American history. Henry Adams, in his discussion of our third president, had some boyhood reminiscences of the widespread hero-worship of naval officer Stephen Decatur, and other fragments and shards showed up in other quarries, but a sound general history of the subject was hard to come by. When I asked a professional military historian—a man with direct access to Defense Department archives—if there was any book that he could recommend, he came back with a slight shrug.

But now the curious reader may choose from a freshet of writing on the subject. Added to my own shelf in the recent past have been The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World, by Frank Lambert (2005); Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror 1801–1805, by Joseph Wheelan (2003); To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines, by A. B. C. Whipple (1991, republished 2001); and Victory in Tripoli: How America’s War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation, by Joshua E. London (2005). Most recently, in his new general history, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, the Israeli scholar Michael Oren opens with a long chapter on the Barbary conflict. As some of the subtitles—and some of the dates
of publication—make plain,
this new interest is largely occasioned by America’s latest round of confrontation in the Middle East, or the Arab sphere or Muslim world, if you prefer those expressions.

In a way, I am glad that I did not have the initial benefit of all this research. My quest sent me to some less obvious secondary sources, in particular to Linda Colley’s excellent book Captives, which shows the reaction of the English and American publics to a slave trade of which they were victims rather than perpetrators. How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night?

Some of this activity was hostage trading and ransom farming rather than the more labor-intensive horror of the Atlantic trade and the Middle Passage, but it exerted a huge effect on the imagination of the time—and probably on no one more than on Thomas Jefferson. Peering at the paragraph denouncing the American slave trade in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, later excised, I noticed for the first time that it sarcastically condemned “the Christian King of Great Britain” for engaging in “this piratical
warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers.” The allusion to Barbary practice seemed inescapable.

One immediate effect of
the American Revolution, however, was to strengthen
the hand of those very same North African potentates: roughly speaking, the Maghrebian provinces of the Ottoman Empire that conform to today’s Algeria,
Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. Deprived of Royal Navy protection, American shipping became even more subject than before to the depredations of those who controlled the Strait of Gibraltar. The infant United States had therefore to decide not just upon a question of national honor but upon whether it would stand or fall by free navigation of the seas.

One of the historians of
the Barbary conflict, Frank Lambert, argues that the imperative of free trade drove America much more than did any quarrel with Islam or “tyranny,” let alone “terrorism.” He resists any comparison with today’s tormenting confrontations. “The Barbary Wars were primarily about trade, not theology,” he writes. “Rather than being holy wars, they were an extension of America’s War of Independence.”

Let us not call this view reductionist. Jefferson would perhaps have been just as eager to send a squadron to put down any Christian piracy that was restraining commerce. But one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When
they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” (It is worth noting that the United States played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)

Ambassador Abd Al-Rahman did not fail to mention the size of his own commission, if America chose to pay the protection money demanded as an alternative to piracy. So here was an early instance of the “heads I win, tails you lose” dilemma, in which the United States is faced with corrupt regimes, on the one hand,
and Islamic militants, on the other—or indeed a collusion between them.

It seems likely that Jefferson decided from that moment on that he would make war upon the Barbary kingdoms as soon as he commanded American forces. His two least favorite institutions—enthroned monarchy and state-sponsored religion—were embodied in one target, and it may even be that his famous ambivalences about slavery were resolved somewhat when he saw it practiced by the Muslims.

However that may be, it is certain that the Barbary question had considerable influence on the debate that ratified
the United States Constitution in the succeeding years. Many a delegate, urging his home state to endorse the new document, argued that only a strong federal union could repel the Algerian threat. In The Federalist No. 24, Alexander Hamilton argued that without a “federal navy . . . of respectable weight . . . the genius of American Merchants and Navigators would be stifled and lost.” In No. 41, James Madison insisted that only union could guard America’s maritime capacity from “the rapacious demands of pirates and barbarians.” John Jay, in his letters, took a “bring-it-on” approach; he believed that “Algerian Corsairs and the Pirates of Tunis and Tripoli” would compel the feeble American states to unite, since “the more we are ill-treated abroad the more we shall unite and consolidate at home.” The eventual Constitution, which provides for an army only at two-year renewable intervals, imposes no such limitation on the navy.

Thus, Lambert may be limiting himself in viewing the Barbary conflict primarily through the lens of free trade. Questions of nation-building, of regime change, of “mission creep,” of congressional versus presidential authority to make war, of negotiation versus confrontation, of “entangling alliances,” and of the “clash of civilizations”—all arose in the first overseas war that the United States ever fought. The “nation-building” that occurred, however, took place not overseas but in the 13 colonies, welded by warfare into something more like a republic.

There were many Americans—John Adams among them—who made the case that it was better policy to pay the tribute. It was cheaper than the loss of trade, for one thing, and a battle against the pirates would be “too rugged for our people to bear.” Putting the matter starkly, Adams said: “We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.”

The cruelty, exorbitance, and intransigence of the Barbary states, however, would decide things. The level of tribute demanded began to reach 10
percent of the American national budget, with no guarantee that greed would not increase that percentage, while from
the dungeons of Algiers and Tripoli came appalling reports of the mistreatment of captured men and women. Gradually, and to the accompaniment of some of the worst patriotic verse ever written, public opinion began to harden in favor of war. From Jefferson’s perspective, it was a good thing that this mood shift took place during the Adams administration, when he was out of office and temporarily “retired” to Monticello. He could thus criticize federal centralization of power, from a distance, even as he watched the construction of a fleet—and the forging of a permanent Marine Corps—that he could one day use for his own ends.

At one point, Jefferson hoped that John Paul Jones, naval hero of the Revolution, might assume command of a squadron that would strike fear into the Barbary pirates. While ambassador in Paris, Jefferson had secured Jones a commission with Empress Catherine of Russia, who used him in the Black Sea to harry the Ottomans, the ultimate authority over Barbary. But Jones died before realizing his dream of going to the source and attacking Constantinople. The task of ordering war fell to Jefferson.

Michael Oren thinks that he made the decision reluctantly, finally forced into it by the arrogant behavior of Tripoli, which seized two American brigs and set off a chain reaction of fresh demands from other Barbary states. I believe—because of the encounter with the insufferable Abd Al-Rahman and because of his long engagement with Jones—that Jefferson had long sought a pretext for war. His problem was his own party and the clause in the Constitution that gave Congress the power to declare war. With not atypical subtlety, Jefferson took a shortcut through this thicket in 1801 and sent the navy to North Africa on patrol, as it were, with instructions to enforce existing treaties and punish infractions of them. Our third president did not inform Congress of his authorization of this mission until the fleet was too far away to recall.

Once again, Barbary obstinacy tipped the scale. Yusuf Karamanli, the pasha of Tripoli, declared war on the United States in May 1801,
in pursuit of his demand for more revenue. This earned him a heavy bombardment
of Tripoli and the crippling
of one of his most important ships. But the force of
example was plainly not sufficient. In the altered mood that prevailed after the encouraging start
in Tripoli, Congress passed an enabling act in February 1802 that,
in its provision for
a permanent Mediterranean presence and
its language about the “Tripolitan Corsairs,” amounted to a declaration of war. The Barbary regimes continued to underestimate their new enemy, with Morocco declaring war in its turn and the others increasing their blackmail.

A complete disaster—Tripoli’s capture of the new U.S. frigate Philadelphia—became a sort of triumph, thanks to Edward Preble and Stephen Decatur, who mounted a daring raid on Tripoli’s harbor and blew up the captured ship, while inflicting heavy damage on the city’s defenses. Now there were names—Preble and Decatur—for newspapers back home to trumpet as heroes. Nor did their courage draw notice only in America. Admiral Lord Nelson himself called the raid “the most bold and daring act of the age,” and Pope Pius VII declared that the United States “had done more for the cause of Christianity than the most powerful nations of Christendom have done for ages.” (In his nostalgia for Lepanto, perhaps, His Holiness was evidently unaware that the Treaty of Tripoli, which in 1797 had attempted to formalize the dues that America would pay for access to the Mediterranean, stated in its preamble that the United States had no quarrel with the Muslim religion and was in no sense a Christian country. Of course, those secularists like myself who like to cite this treaty must concede that its conciliatory language was part of America’s attempt to come to terms with Barbary demands.)

Watching all this with a jaundiced eye was the American consul in Tunis, William Eaton. For him, behavior modification was not a sufficient policy; regime change was needed. And he had a candidate. On acceding to the throne in Tripoli, Yusuf Karamanli had secured his position by murdering one brother and exiling another. Eaton befriended this exiled brother, Hamid, and argued that he should become the American nominee for Tripoli’s crown. This proposal wasn’t received with enthusiasm in Washington, but Eaton pursued it with commendable zeal. He exhibited the downside that often goes with such quixotic bravery: railing against treasury secretary Albert Gallatin as a “cowardly Jew,” for example, and alluding to President Jefferson with contempt. He ended up a supporter of Aaron Burr’s freebooting secessionist conspiracy.

His actions in 1805, however, belong in the annals of derring-do, almost warranting the frequent comparison made with T. E. Lawrence’s exploits in Arabia. With a small detachment of marines, headed by Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, and a force of irregulars inevitably described by historians as “motley,” Eaton crossed the desert from Egypt and came at Tripoli—as Lawrence had come at Aqaba—from the land and not from the sea. The attack proved a total surprise. The city of Darna surrendered its far larger garrison, and Karamanli’s forces were heavily engaged, when news came that Jefferson and Karamanli had reached an understanding that could end the war. The terms weren’t too shabby, involving the release of the Philadelphia’s crew and a final settlement of the tribute question. And Jefferson took care to stress that Eaton had played a part in bringing it about.

This graciousness did not prevent Eaton from denouncing the deal as a sellout. The caravan moved on, though, as the other Barbary states gradually followed Tripoli’s lead
and came to terms. Remember, too, that this was the year of the Battle of Trafalgar. Lord Nelson was not the only European to notice that a new power had arrived in Mediterranean waters.
Francis Scott Key composed a patriotic song to mark the occasion. As I learned from Joshua London’s excellent book, the original verses ran (in part):

In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d,
Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation:
And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscur’d
By the light of the star-bangled flag of our nation.
Where each flaming star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turban’d head bowed to the terrible glare.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.

The song was part of the bad-verse epidemic. But brushed up and revised a little for the War of 1812, and set to the same music, it has enjoyed considerable success since. So has the Marine Corps anthem, which begins: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.” It’s no exaggeration
to describe the psychological fallout of this first war as formative of the still-inchoate American character.

There is of course another connection between 1805 and 1812. Renewed hostilities with Britain on the high seas and on the American mainland, which did not terminate until the
Battle of New Orleans, might have ended less conclusively had the United States not developed a battle-hardened naval force in the long attrition on the North African coast.

The Barbary states sought to exploit Anglo-American hostilities by resuming their depredations and renewing their
demands for blood money. So in 1815, after a brief interval of recovery from the war with Britain, President Madison asked Congress for permission to dispatch Decatur once again to North Africa, seeking a permanent settling of accounts. This time, the main offender was the dey of Algiers, Omar Pasha, who saw his fleet splintered and his grand harbor filled with heavily armed American ships. Algiers had to pay compensation, release all hostages, and promise not to offend again. President Madison’s words on this occasion could scarcely be bettered: “It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.” (The expression “the United States is” did not come into usage until after Gettysburg.)

Oren notes that the stupendous expense of this long series of wars was a partial
vindication of John Adams’s warning. However, there are less quantifiable factors to consider. The most obvious is
commerce. American trade in the Mediterranean increased enormously in the years after the settlement with Algiers, and America’s ability to extend its trade and project its forces into other areas, such as the Caribbean and South America, was greatly enhanced. Then we should attend to what Linda Colley says on the subject of slavery. Campaigns against the seizure of hostages by Muslim powers, and their exploitation as forced labor, fired up many a church congregation in Britain and America and fueled many a press campaign. But even the dullest soul could regard the continued triangular Atlantic slave trade between Africa, England, and the Americas and perceive the double standard at work. Thus, the struggle against Barbary may have helped to force some of the early shoots of abolitionism.

Perhaps above all, though, the Barbary Wars gave Americans an inkling of the fact that they were, and always would be, bound up with global affairs. Providence might have seemed to grant them a haven guarded by two oceans, but if they wanted to be anything more than the Chile of North America—a long littoral ribbon caught between the mountains and the sea—they would have to prepare for a maritime struggle as well as a campaign to redeem the unexplored landmass to their west. The U.S. Navy’s Mediterranean squadron has, in one form
or another, been on patrol
ever since.”

….read more @ City-Journal.org

LA County Forced to Clean Up Its Voter Rolls | Jan 10 2019

Los Angeles County agrees to purge up to 1.5 million voters from its rolls in settlement

|| Washington Times

“Los Angeles County has agreed to conduct a purge of its voting rolls, in a move that could strip perhaps 1.5 million inactive voters from the lists of those eligible to cast ballots.

The county made the deal in a settlement last week with Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest firm, saying that under a recent Supreme Court ruling, it has a duty to remove names of people who appear to have either died, moved from the county or lost interest in voting.

The county committed to mailing hundreds of thousands of voters already deemed inactive to see whether they are still eligible voters, and to removing names of people who don’t respond to notices and who miss two subsequent federal elections. The county also agreed to try to weed out dead people still on the rolls.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who was also part of the settlement, committed to send notices to all registrars informing them that they, too, must take steps to cancel voters who miss voting in repeated elections and fail to respond to follow-up notices.

Judicial Watch called the settlement, involving both the nation’s biggest state and the biggest county, a significant win for conservatives who have been trying to harness the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, better known as “Motor-Voter,” to try to clean up voter rolls even as Democrats use the law to expand voter access.

“This is a major NVRA victory — probably the biggest in the history,” said Robert Popper, the Judicial Watch lawyer who fought the case.

He said he expects most of the more than 1.5 million names on the county’s inactive voter list will end up being removed.

Mr. Padilla, the secretary of state, disputed Judicial Watch’s claims, saying he didn’t agree to specifically kick anyone off the rolls.

“The settlement is clear and simple, California will continue its work to adhere to modern list maintenance procedures under the NVRA,” he said in a statement. “This settlement will not lead to unnecessary removal of active and eligible voters. Safeguards remain in place to ensure voter list maintenance procedures are followed before canceling any voter registration records.”

Neither the Los Angeles registrar nor the county’s counsel returned messages Monday seeking comment. Neither did the League of Women Voters or Mia Familia, both of which sought unsuccessfully to intervene in the case earlier.

On Tuesday, however, the registrar finally responded, providing a statement saying last year’s Supreme Court ruling undercut his defense.

Registrar Dean C. Logan still said he’s confident voters won’t be wrongly kicked off the rolls because of the settlement.

“We have simply agreed to comply with the NVRA as interpreted by the Supreme Court and nothing in the agreement will jeopardize even one eligible Los Angeles County voter,” he said.

California becomes the third state to reach a settlement. Ohio reached one in 2014 and Kentucky entered into a court-imposed consent decree with Judicial Watch over its voter rolls last year.

Mr. Popper said the motor-voter law was a compromise. It boosted voter participation by requiring states to register voters at public offices such as motor vehicle bureaus, but it also encouraged states to keep their lists clean by removing outdated names in order to tamp down on the chances of fraud.

Democrats have chiefly focused on the expansion of registration, while battling against efforts to clean the rolls.

One example of that, according to Mr. Popper, was a 1998 decision by the Clinton Justice Department instructing California not to remove people identified as being inactive voters because they failed to respond to follow-up communications. Other states have made similar arguments.

But the Supreme Court, in a major 5-4 ruling last year, said states can use non-responses as part of their justification for cleansing rolls — and that people who have been notified and missed two subsequent federal elections must go.

“Not only are states allowed to remove registrants who satisfy these requirements, but federal law makes this removal mandatory,” the majority ruled.

The new agreement reached last week highlighted that part of the ruling, which appeared to undercut Los Angeles’s legal position and leave the county with little choice but to settle.

Judicial Watch said it targeted Los Angeles after finding the county’s total voter population was higher than the number of people the Census Bureau estimates to be citizens of voting age in the county. That’s true for the state overall, which Judicial Watch said has a 101 percent registration rate for its eligible adult population.

Mr. Popper said while much of the national debate about voter fraud is on in-person abuses, the bigger problem is fraudulent double-voting, which can happen if someone is still getting a ballot or registered at their old residence, while also being registered and voting at their new home.

He said Los Angeles’s inactive voter file is a major potential source for mischief.

Contrary to the impression left by several media fact-checkers, “inactive” voters in California are able to cast a legal regular ballot. The difference between them and active voters is that those on the inactive list don’t get regular communications such as sample ballots from elections officials.

Last week’s settlement agreement is just one of the battlegrounds over voting rights to emerge in recent years.

Democrats won control of the House in the midterm elections in part on a campaign arguing that Republicans were suppressing the votes of racial and ethnic minorities and poor people. They have vowed action to expand voter access and curtail voter integrity checks.

H.R.1, Democrats’ first marquee bill, would require states to allow same-day and internet registration. It would also amend motor-voter to overturn last year’s Supreme Court decision, eliminating the ability of states to remove people for failing to vote or respond to follow-up notices.”

….Read more @ Washington Times

 

Rep. Ted Lieu Says He Will Give Contributions From Ed Buck to Civil Rights Groups Following Deaths of 2 Men at Donor’s WeHo Home

|| KTLA

 

“After the body of a black man was found in longtime Democratic donor Ed Buck’s West Hollywood apartment this week, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu announced he will donate more than $18,000 in campaign contributions he received from Buck to LGBTQ and African American civil rights organizations.

Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment has been the scene of the apparent overdose deaths of two black men in the last two years, authorities said.

“I am deeply disturbed by the latest revelations of a second death by overdose at the home of Ed Buck,” Lieu (D-Torrance) said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “While we await the results of the law enforcement investigation, I am going to donate the contributions I have received from Mr. Buck to my federal campaign.”

Lieu said he will donate $5,000 to Lambda Legal; $5,000 to the NAACP; $3,000 to GLAAD; $3,000 to The Trevor Project; and $2,500 to the Equality California Institute.”

…Read more @ KTLA

Mexico Is Not Allowing Illegal Invasion on land in Baja California, Mexico | Jan 6 2019

No further invasions will be allowed in the entity; the law will be applied, warns BCS Government

| BCS News

 “under no circumstances will invasions be tolerated and the law will be applied in this matter, because the most important thing is to protect the integrity of our people.”

 

La Paz, Baja California Sur (BCS ). No further invasions will be allowed in any of the municipalities of Baja California Sur, since safeguarding the inhabitants is a priority, said the Secretary General of the Government, Álvaro De la Peña Angulo .

In the current administration, special attention has been given to this issue, to avoid further cases of irregular settlements, mainly in Los Cabos, so actions are taken to ensure decent housing for those who live in Baja California Sur , explained the state official.

The economic and tourist dynamics that characterize the region brings with it a greater demand for services and social security, for which reason the State works to cover basic needs, he emphasized.

It should be remembered that, a few days ago, a land reserve of 70 hectares was granted to develop housing in the municipality of Los Cabos, where 9,000 homes will be built as part of a sustainable project.

Finally, and for all the above, said: “under no circumstances will invasions be tolerated and the law will be applied in this matter, because the most important thing is to protect the integrity of our people.”

…Read more @ BCS Noticias – Google Translation

Migrants Illegally Rush the Border to Start the New Year | Jan 01 2019

150 migrants rush U.S. border, are met with tear gas from agents who say they were throwing rocks

|| U-T San Diego

“A group of about 150 migrants attempted to breach a San Diego border fence on New Year’s, and some began throwing rocks at responding U.S. border agents who deployed pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd, authorities said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the group was attempting to climb over and under the San Diego border fence. When agents and officers responded, about 45 migrants turned back to Mexico, according to the agency.

Some migrants began throwing rocks over the fence at agents and officers, according to the agency.

“Several teenagers, wrapped in heavy jackets, blankets and rubber mats were put over the concertina wire. Border Patrol agents witnessed members of the group attempting to lift toddler-sized children up and over the concertina wire and (have) difficulty accomplishing the task in a safe manner,” a news release from U.S. authorities states.

The Customs and Border Protection release said agents and officers deployed smoke, pepper spray and CS gas to address the rock throwers, who they said were assaulting border agents and also risking the safety of migrants who had already made it onto the U.S. side.

The gases caused people to stop throwing rocks and flee, CBP said.

The agency apprehended 25 people, including two minors, the release said.

“I don’t like that type of violence of people throwing rocks,” said Silvio Sierra of Honduras, one of the migrants who approached the border and turned back amid the gas. “We don’t like that type of violence of throwing rocks. The majority of people came in peace. Our intent was to walk up peacefully.”

Regarding the tear gas, he said, “It was very strong. It was everywhere. People were crying. Women and children too. The gas was everywhere.”

Several migrants from the group that rushed the border said they have been growing frustrated in recent weeks waiting in El Barretal shelter with conflicting and shifting information about how the U.S. immigration process is supposed to work. They said the majority in the group planned to peacefully approach U.S. immigration authorities at the border and “throw themselves at their mercy.”

Such a rush of the border has been discussed for several days. Plans to make the effort on Christmas Eve did not materialize.

“The thing about it is, you don’t want to be illegal but you are already illegal,” Sierra said. “So they tell you to take a number. You ask for a number and wait in line for an opportunity. But there’s so many people in line, you aren’t getting through. If you walk up and ask for asylum, they say you are in the wrong place. You tell me what are we supposed to do?”

Jose Alexander of El Salvador said he headed to the border with his four-year-old son and witnessed the tear gas fired across the border. He said he didn’t see anyone throwing rocks, a sentiment echoed by many migrants interviewed on Tuesday.

“My son is still scared today,” Alexander said. “We were a little farther back in the group. As soon as I heard the first shot, I scooped him up and ran back. He was really scared.”

Authorities also used tear gas on Nov. 25 during a similar rush on the border. Although some women and children said they were affected by the gas, officials said it was only targeted at rock-throwers in that instance as well. President Donald Trump said at the time it was “a very minor form of the tear gas itself” that he assured was “very safe.”

The migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have come to seek asylum from violence and other unrest in their native countries. They set out on foot in October, and eventually used buses and other means to arrive in Tijuana, awaiting U.S. processing. Their presence has been portrayed as an invasion by Trump and and a human rights crisis by others. They have been routed from one shelter to another, and many have decided to return to their homelands or stay in Mexico, where new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is more welcoming than Trump.

U.S. authorities are not the only ones who have used tear gas on the Central America migrants. Two suspects tossed tear gas canisters into the El Barretal shelter as migrants were settling into bed on Dec. 18.

Late Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman issued a statement on the incident.

“Once again we have had a violent mob of migrants attempt to enter the United States illegally by attacking our agents with projectiles,” the statement said. “As has happened before – in this and previous administrations – our personnel used the minimum force necessary to defend themselves, defend our border, and restore order. The agents involved should be applauded for handling the situation with no reported injuries to the attackers.”

Juan Carlos Caballero Jones said he participated in Tuesday’s rush on the border. He said he made it past the border fence and hid in the brush as agents searched nearby.

“When they passed me, I moved another inch or so, and then I stayed still,” he said. “They walked right past me but didn’t find me.”

He said he hid in silence holding his breath for 5 minutes.

Eventually, Caballero was discovered by the lights from an overhead helicopter, he said.

“I was just starting to think I was free.”

He said he was the only one caught in the spotlight of the helicopter and unsure if the agents were going to use some type of force to stop him.

“I was so nervous my whole body was shaking,” he said.

He said agents from the ground returned, and took him into custody and walked him back into the Mexico side.

“I was so close,” he sighed. “But I am going to try again on another day.”

….Read more @ U-T San Diego

As Some Move Out, Who’s Moving to California? | Dec 29 2018

Who moves to California? The wealthier and better educated, mostly

 || LA Times

 

“High taxes. Stifling regulations. Exorbitant housing costs. Freeway gridlock. Fires and floods.

Hand-wringing over an exodus of disillusioned Californians may be a Golden State pastime, the subject of political punditry and strung-out social media threads.

But the latest data are far from dire. The U.S. Census Bureau, in its newly released surveys for 2017, shows that California’s net migration remained fairly stable. Since 2010, as the economic recovery took hold and housing prices skyrocketed, departures accelerated — but the number of newcomers rose steadily as well.

The state attracts a steady stream of college graduates, especially from the East Coast, even as many less-educated residents move to neighboring states — and to Texas — in search of a lower cost of living.

Consider that in 2017:

More people left California (661,026) than arrived (523,131) from other U.S. states. But for the nation’s most populous state, with 39 million residents, that amounted to a tiny fraction in net departures: just 0.35%.

Among the 25-years-and-older set, the state lost a net 86,890 residents without bachelor’s degrees, and just 4,443 with a four-year degree. It gained 11,653 people with graduate degrees.

No state boasts more loudly of its attractions than Texas. Indeed, 63,174 people relocated from California to the nation’s second-most populous state, more than to anywhere else in the U.S. But it’s also true that no state sent more people here than the Lone Star State — 40,999.

“The cost of living, especially housing, is what stops the whole world from moving to California,” said USC demographer Dowell Myers, a longtime census expert. “Otherwise, who wouldn’t prefer California? We have superior weather. We have mountains and oceans. And we have better jobs — better paying and more specialized, whether in tech, entertainment, the arts or medicine.”

In the 1980s, Myers said, “millions of people came to California — too many — and that created an anti-growth backlash. But California has been losing people to other states since 2004. We lost people in the bubble because housing prices were so high. We lost them in the recession because our job market was worse than the rest of the country.”

Ask people why they came or left, and the reasons are often multifaceted. A few of them shared their stories:

California dream meets reality

Six years ago, Keith Johnson and Sandra Martinez-Johnson felt the lure, moving to Whittier from New Braunfels, Texas, outside San Antonio.

“On paper, the decision looked great,” said Johnson, 50, who got a job renting out construction equipment for a Downey firm. “You’ll make more money, live the West Coast dream, go to the beach, whatever. Then you get here and reality sets in.”

Two weeks ago, the couple packed their possessions to move back to Texas with their 6-year-old son, Javier.

“I’m making a good living,” Johnson explained. “But it doesn’t translate into a good quality of life. Everything costs more, from a gallon of gas to a gallon of milk. And it is impossible for an average person to buy a house.”

At one point, the family moved to Ontario, he added, thinking “that’s the only way to get a house. But then you’re commuting 80 miles a day because the work is on the coast. And you can spend 30 hours a week just driving.”

Johnson jumped at the chance when his firm posted an opening in Houston. There, he said, they found a three-bedroom single-family home for $1,750 in monthly rent, far less than they would pay in Southern California.

Since 2010, departures from California to Texas dropped by 8%. Meanwhile, the number of Texans moving to the Golden State edged up by 12%. “Migration is a revolving door,” said USC’s Myers, who lived in Austin, Texas, during the 1980s when he taught at the University of Texas. “In most locations, people come in and out at a pretty steady pace.

“A high number moves to Texas, but a high number moves from Texas back to California,” he said. “They move to Texas and boast on Facebook they bought a great house. But what do they give up? They have to stay inside all summer with air conditioning.”

Nonetheless, both Myers’ 30-something sons live in Texas. “One is in real estate,” he said. “One is a business consultant. During the recession, Texas was the only place with job growth. It became the big alternative.”

New York is ‘bleeding people’ 

For Paul Urcioli and his wife, Sasha Smith, who were living in Pelham, a New York City suburb, the tipping point came in the winter of 2015.

“I had a 90-foot gravel driveway to shovel by hand,” said Urcioli, 54, who taught drama at New York University and acted in television shows and commercials. “We’d had five snowfalls of at least 8 inches deep.”

Their twin sons were in preschool at the time, and “it was hard to find something interesting to do every weekend,” he recalled. “You’d bundle up the kids to go outside, but it was so cold they wanted to come back in after 10 minutes.”

One day Smith went to Los Angeles on business. “Within 12 hours, I got an all-caps text saying, ‘WHY DON’T WE LIVE OUT HERE?’ ” Urcioli said.

After Texas, New York was the largest source of migrants to California in 2017, with 34,278 arrivals — a 63% jump from 2010. Unlike Texas, more people moved to California from New York than vice versa: a net increase of 9,296. Departures from the Golden State to the Empire State remained flat over the eight years.

Last year, California gained, on net, residents from about a third of U.S. states, led by Illinois (11,071), followed by New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“New York has been bleeding people,” Myers said. “They were bottled up during the recession and now they are pouring out. New York’s out-migration is way more negative than California’s: more than 450,000 moved out last year, but only about 282,000 moved in.”

Today the Urcioli and Smith family is ensconced in Rancho Park, a leafy Los Angeles neighborhood. Urcioli takes the bus to USC, where he teaches, and Smith, a digital specialist at a talent agency, can walk to work.

“For so long, I identified as a New Yorker — with a certain chauvinism,” Urcioli said. “But here, we can still go to museums and try new restaurants. And the weekend after Thanksgiving we can go to the beach, or, if we want snow, we can drive to Big Bear.”

Neighboring states beckon 

While New Yorkers made a continental leap, slightly boosting California’s population, the three states accounting for the Golden State’s highest net losses in 2017 are along the border: Arizona (which gained 32,326 Californians), Oregon (29,561) and Nevada (23,745).

Paul McDermott, a Philadelphia native, first visited California in 1995. “I rented a convertible Mustang,” he recalled. “A friend took me to Newport Beach and we did something called rollerblading. Then and there I decided I wanted to move to California.”

But in October, McDermott, 59, a manager for a security guard company, and his fiancee moved to Henderson, Nev. “After 22 years in California, the politics, restrictive gun laws and the ridiculously high cost of living drove me out,” he said.

He was paying $1,900 a month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Huntington Beach. Now he pays $1,500 a month at a newer complex in Henderson. And Nevada has no state income tax.

The census report doesn’t reveal why people leave, but economics, lifestyle and culture may all play a part.

McDermott chose Nevada in part because of the warm weather. But also, he said, he was irked at the red tape involved in obtaining a concealed weapon in California, one required for his job. And then, he said, “there was the whole California mind-set: The final ‘straw,’ if you will pardon the pun, was when they restricted straws in restaurants…. I mean, seriously?”

On the other hand, Aimee Imlay, a 38-year-old San Diego social worker who recently moved to Lexington, Ky., for graduate school to study economic inequality, says emphatically, “I did not choose Kentucky based on weather and politics, to be sure.”

Rather, she said, the University of Kentucky’s stipend ”is similar to what the UCs offer and my money goes so much farther here.”

Despite the departures, California’s overall population has grown. Even as the number of California babies born each year has dropped since 1990, paralleling the aging of the U.S. population, the number of births still exceeded the number of deaths by about 220,000 in 2017, according to the California Department of Finance.

Moreover, international newcomers rose by a net 185,000 last year despite a steep drop in Mexican immigrants, from about 150,000 a year in the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s to about 40,000 a year in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. That reflects an improved Mexican economy and a government birth control push.

At the same time, immigrants from China, India and other Asian nations are moving to California in greater numbers. Between 2012 and 2016, 58% of new California immigrants came from Asia, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, while just 28% came from Latin America.

“Many Asians come for technology jobs,” Myers said. “Also, they can handle the housing prices better than Mexican immigrants.”

Neena Moorjani, 45, moved from her native Hong Kong to California to attend college at Biola University in La Mirada. After gaining her bachelor’s degree, she worked in public relations, moving to Washington, D.C., then to Singapore and, two years ago, back to the Golden State.

In Sacramento, Moorjani took a UC Davis course to become a certified financial planner, but now, she said, high taxes and rising housing costs are driving her out. She is moving to Virginia to be closer to family. “I need to buy a home soon and homes there are half the price,” she said.

Like Moorjani, most of California’s newcomers from abroad are well educated. According to a study by the Public Policy Institute, 51% of working-age immigrants who had lived in California for five years or less as of 2016 had bachelor’s or graduate degrees, compared with 37% of all Californians.

Better educated, better paid 

For college graduates, California’s high-tech economy is a powerful draw.

Paul Jordan, 28, and Alexandra Bede, 27, moved from the East Coast to San Francisco in April. The couple rent a one-bedroom apartment in the hip Potrero Hill neighborhood for $3,740 a month.

“The rents are ridiculous,” said Jordan, a Duke University graduate who works for a venture capital firm specializing in sustainable energy and industrial innovation. But he and Bede, a supply chain manager for an e-commerce firm, can afford it with their six-figure salaries.

report from the state legislative analyst’s office in February found that “although California has had net out-migration among most demographic groups, it has gained among those with higher incomes ($110,000 per year or more) and higher levels of education (graduate degrees).”

“Families with kids and those with only a high school education predominate among those moving from California to its top destination states,” it said.

From 2012 through 2017, Myers said, newcomers with bachelor’s and graduate degrees poured into California from other states, showing a net increase of about 76,000 over those leaving. At the same time, those with less than a four-year degree left in droves — a net loss of more than 400,000.

The imbalance may not be entirely positive. “We need low-skill workers too — hospital orderlies, school bus drivers, nannies and gardeners,” Myers said.

For Jordan, working in venture capital, California’s “dynamic energy” is the main attraction. “Everything new hits here first,” he said. “You feel like you are in the avant-garde.”

Still, the state’s high taxes and rents “impact everyone who lives here,” he said. “We are fortunate to be in the segment of the economy with high-paying jobs. But you can’t escape the fact that homelessness is a huge problem and people are getting displaced.”

The danger is that California will continue to attract 20-somethings but lose 30-somethings. “Young people do most of the moving,” Myers said. “They hunt around, and California is a big magnet. But then they face severe housing prices here, so the families are being lost. We are not growing a complete society.”

Meanwhile, he said, “Baby boomers are exiting the workforce. About a third are retired, with two-thirds to go. But they are still occupying housing.

“The states and cities that can build enough housing, both attracting and retaining workers, will have the dominant economies by midcentury.”

….Read more @ LA Times

DUI Illegal Alien Shoots Down Stanislaus Town Deputy | Dec 27 2018

On emotional day, search continues for suspect in death of Newman corporal

|| Modesto Bee

 

 

 

“The manhunt continued late Thursday afternoon for the man suspected of gunning down a Newman Police Department corporal.

Stanislaus County detectives searched a farmhouse about 12 miles south of Merced on Thursday afternoon in connection with the shooting death of Cpl. Ronil Singh.

While no suspect was found on that property, Sgt. Tom Letras said it was one of several searches being conducted on a day filled with urgency, emotion and politics from afar.

Speaking at a news conference in Newman Thursday morning, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said he believed the suspect was still in the area, although he would not elaborate.

“We will find him, we will arrest him and we will bring him to justice,” he said.

Singh, 33, was shot and killed at 1 a.m. Wednesday after pulling over a suspected drunk driver at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue.

Christianson said investigators have identified the suspect, and that he was in the country illegally.

“He doesn’t belong here; he is a criminal,” the sheriff said.

Less than two hours after after the press conference, President Donald Trump Tweeted about the suspect’s illegal immigration status.

“There is right now a full scale manhunt going on in California for an illegal immigrant accused of shooting and killing a police officer during a traffic stop. Time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!” he Tweeted.

Christianson said he could not speak to whether the suspect is believed to have been alone at the time of the traffic stop and shooting. He did say deputies are looking for no other suspects.

“The primary suspect is the only suspect involved in the murder of Officer Singh,” Christianson said.

He said Singh exchanged gunfire with the suspect but is not believed to have hit him.

“It was a gunfight,” the sheriff said. “Cpl. Singh absolutely tried to defend himself and stop this credible threat.”

The truck the suspect was driving was found Wednesday afternoon at a mobile home park in the 26000 block of River Road, about 4.5 miles northeast of the shooting scene.

The sheriff would not comment on any possible connection the suspect has to the mobile home park, or whether anyone is thought to have helped him flee after the truck was left there.

The search late Thursday afternoon was conducted in the tiny town of El Nido near Highway 59 and East Roosevelt Road. Law enforcement officers from Stanislaus and Merced counties dispersed by about 4:30 p.m., without comment.”

….Read more @ Modesto Bee