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Honda resolution would protect LGBT House staff

Rep. Mike Honda introduced a bipartisan resolution Thursday to protect House workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“No person should be afraid of persecution, discrimination, threats, or bullying simply for being who they are,” Honda, D-San Jose, said in his news release. “It is important that in Congress, we lead by example and ensure that the workplace is safe and secure for all employees, and to ensure that discrimination has no place in Congress, especially for LGBTQ individuals. Congress needs to be an equal opportunity employer.”

Honda is founder and chairman of the Congressional Caucus to End Bullying; his resolution’s original cosponsors include Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

“Most Americans already believe that people in any workplace cannot be discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, that is not the case anywhere as it relates to federal law,” Ros-Lehtinen said in the news release. “If we are truly to be The People’s House, we must reflect our nation’s views and values and lead by example. No reasonable person can believe that discrimination or other reprisals based on an immutable characteristic is a tolerable situation in any workplace.”

The resolution is supported by groups including the Human Rights Campaign and the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee.

Honda one year ago Thursday testified before a House Rules subcommittee in support of the House’s LGBT workers, noting that under current rules, “individuals are protected from employment decisions on the basis or face, color, religion, sex, disability, age, or national origin” but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

“For the many LGBT employees of the House – today and tomorrow – we must ensure that employment discrimination has no place in this Congress, or any thereafter,” he said at the time. “After all, securing the comfort and protections for our employees ultimately serves our nation.”

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Speier & Sanchez seek equality for female athletes

Two California congresswomen introduced a resolution Wednesday urging the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to provide the same pay for female soccer athletes as it does for male athletes.

Jackie SpeierRep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Lakewood, were joined by 33 original cosponsors, while U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced the resolution in the Senate.

The USA Women’s Soccer team clinched its third World Cup victory July 5 – the most-viewed soccer series in U.S. history, attracting more viewers than the NBA finals, the World Series and the men’s World Cup, the lawmakers note. Yet women’s soccer players still make 40 times less than their male counterparts, and the USA Women’s World Cup team received four times less for winning than the men’s World Cup team was paid for losing in the 2014 tournament’s first elimination round.

“Whether you’re a soccer mom or a starter on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, women in our country deserve equal pay,” Speier said in a news release. “I’m proud to introduce this resolution demanding that FIFA ensure our champion women’s team is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. This is the 21st century and we need to stop shortchanging women’s sports worldwide.”

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California eagerly smack-talks Donald Trump

California is tripping over itself to open a can of whup-ass on Donald Trump.

Republicans and Democrats alike have been blasting the reality television star, billionaire businessman and (ersatz) GOP presidential candidate since the middle of last month, when he launched his campaign by saying that Mexicans who enter the nation illegally are responsible for a lot of drug-related or violent crime.

Isadore Hall IIIOn Thursday, state Sen. Isadore Hall III, D-Compton, introduced a resolution condemning Trump and fellow GOP contender Ted Cruz for their “recent racist remarks;” calling upon the state to divest from any ties with Trump’s businesses; and urging private businesses and individuals to do likewise.

“Immigrant families fundamentally enrich the extraordinary character of our state and nation,” Hall said in a news release. “California’s short and long-term economic, social, health, security, and prosperity require policies that allow individuals to become legal and enfranchised participants in our society and economy.

“I stand with my fellow State Senators, immigrant families and residents throughout California in denouncing Donald Trump’s reckless, arrogant and irresponsible actions,” Hall continued. “The racist statements made by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have no place in our state or national political discourse and no place for anyone who aspires to one day serve in the White House.”

It’s unclear what, if any, business ties the state might have with Trump.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, issued a statement agreeing that “convicting an entire nation and culture as Donald Trump has done with our neighbors to the south is offensive and should not be tolerated in California.

“At the same time, using state resources to protest the inappropriate statements from politicians on either side of the aisle or around the country, is a waste of taxpayer dollars and only draws attention to those politicians who are trying to grab headlines,” Huff said. “The Legislature should instead focus its time on improving our economy and ensuring that Californians have the opportunity to pursue the American dream.”

Shawn SteelMeanwhile, Shawn Steel – one of California’s Republican National Committee members – called on Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and state Attorney General Kamala Harris to give up $6,000 that Trump gave to her attorney general’s campaign committee – $5,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2013.

“When national embarrassment Donald Trump isn’t busy attacking immigrants, he’s writing big checks to Democrat Kamala Harris,” Steel said in a news release. “Attorney General Kamala Harris should denounce Trump’s offensive comments and give her ‘Donald Dollars’ to charity.”

“Conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats can agree: Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric has no place in politics,” Steel added. “It’s time that Kamala Harris stood up to her campaign contributor.”

But Harris already had done so before Steel made his call, campaign spokesman Nathan Click said Thursday. “Earlier in the week, the AG directed the campaign to send the contributions to CARECEN, a California-based civil rights organization that provides resources and support for immigrant children and their families.”

Steel neglected to mention that Trump gave a total of $3,500 in 2004 and 2006 to Jerry Brown’s campaign for attorney general; $25,000 to the California Republican Party in 2005; a total of $12,000 to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s committees in 2007 and 2008; and $2,500 to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign in 2009.

Finally, I’m told that San Jose’s Dulceria Mi Carnaval Party Supply has sold out of their newest, hottest product, but more are on order. This photo was taken elsewhere, but for illustrative purposes:

IMG_7720

Like a papier-mache chorus line from hell, no?

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Boehner prepares resolution to sue Obama

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday released a draft of a resolution he’ll introduce authorizing the House to sue President Obama over his 2013 decision to unilaterally delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.

“In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement issued with the draft. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

The resolution reads as follows:

Providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the President inconsistent with his duties under the Constitution of the United States.

Resolved, that the Speaker may initiate or intervene in one or more civil actions on behalf of the House of Representatives in a Federal court of competent jurisdiction to seek relief pursuant to sections 2201 and 2202 of title 28, United States Code, and to seek appropriate ancillary relief, including injunctive relief, regarding the failure of the President, the head of any department or agency, or any other officer or employee of the United States, to act in a manner consistent with that official’s duties under the Constitution and laws of the United States with respect to implementation of (including a failure to implement) any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, including any amendment made by such provision.

SEC. 2. The Speaker shall notify the House of Representatives of a decision to initiate or intervene in any civil action pursuant to this resolution.

SEC. 3. The Office of the General Counsel of the House of Representatives, at the direction of the Speaker shall represent the House in any civil action initiated, or in which the House intervenes, pursuant to this resolution and may employ the services of outside counsel and other experts for this purpose.

The House Rules Committee will consider the draft resolution next Wednesday, July 16.

Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, issued a statement later Thursday:

“Instead of working to create jobs, instead of working to strengthen the middle class or addressing any of the urgent issues facing our nation, Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars on another toxic partisan stunt.

“Time and again, House Republicans’ total abdication of responsibility has forced the President to act. They’ve wasted billions of taxpayer dollars forcing a downgrade of the U.S. economy and a shutdown of the federal government, and now, after wasting millions defending discrimination in the federal courts, the resolution unveiled tonight would authorize hiring more partisan lawyers for yet another legal boondoggle doomed to fail.

“This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction. Congress should be creating jobs, raising new ladders of opportunity, and focusing on the challenges facing hard working American families.”

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State Senator grows teary about multiple sclerosis

State Sen. Noreen Evans was overcome with emotion Monday as she introduced a resolution to declare this week Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

Noreen Evans speechThe debilitating neurological disease has hit close to home for Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who said four close family members have struggled with it. Her floor speech started out shaky, grew steadier for a time, and then ended in tears as she spoke of how the disease often strikes people in the prime of their lives. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and state Sen. Holly Mitchell moved to comfort her as she finished; the Senate passed her resolution 31-0. The California Channel has video of her speech here – it starts at about 38 minutes and 45 seconds – but I’m having trouble embedding it.

Evans – a mother of three who announced in August that she’ll return to her law practice rather than seek a second Senate term this year – wouldn’t discuss her family’s specific situation later Monday afternoon except to say “it is something that has affected my family very deeply.” She did say one relative who had struggled with the disease passed away last year.

“I always like to try to find to turn a negative into a positive, and if I can turn this into a way of helping other people understand… then that’s something I’d like to do,” she said, adding public attention can help lead to more resources and support for research toward treatment, from reversing the disease’s effects to an overall cure. “There are a lot of people in our communities who struggle with this disease and nobody ever knows about it.”

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State & federal calls for relief to Philippines

California and federal officials made urgent pleas Wednesday for more government and private aid for the Philippines, which is reeling in the aftermath of deadly Typhoon Haiyan.

In Sacramento, Assemblyman Rob Bonta – the Legislature’s first Filipino-American member – held a news conference Wednesday with Speaker John Perez and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, encouraging Californians to support relief efforts.

“California is uniquely affected by the typhoon in that our state is home to the largest Filipino American population in the entire United States,” said Bonta, D-Alameda. “There are approximately 1.5 million Filipino Americans in California; this represents 43 percent of the nation’s entire Filipino American population. Many came to the U.S. within the last decade and still have deep ties to the Philippines. I’m proud that our state leaders stand in solidarity in support of the relief efforts.”

Jaime Ascalon, deputy consul general of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, thanked Californians for their help. “It is great to see that when we are in need, California’s greatness, generosity and leadership is without hesitation.”

Pérez, D-Los Angeles, noted Assembly Democrats’ website now has a page directing people to organizations helping to assist typhoon victims. “As Californians, we have had our share of natural disasters, and we understand how horrific the cost can be — not just in dollars and cents, but in human terms. The photos and news reports have shown the devastation… And as with other recent massive disasters in Haiti and Japan, the people of California have been eager to respond.”

Steinberg said the stunning devastation in the Philippines puts Californians’ daily worries in perspective. “The California spirit is to ask what we can do to help and then to follow through. But recovery in such massive disasters will take years. What we cannot forget is that long after the news coverage wanes and the cameras are gone, the suffering and the need for help will remain for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

Californians who want to donate to relief efforts also can visit the American Red Cross’s Capital Region website or the CaliforniaVolunteer website.

Haiyan devastation

Meanwhile, two Bay Area House members introduced a joint resolution Wednesday urging Congress to render aid.

“The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the United States run deeper than any flood waters,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a news release. “I urge my colleagues to support this resolution to show our friends, the good people of the Philippines, that – as they stood with us in World War II – the American people stand with them at this, their time of greatest need. There are so many Filipino families in my district grieving over this and they deserve to know we are doing all we can to help.”

Speier’s 14th Congressional District has the largest population of Filipino Americans of any district in the nation – almost 70,000.

Joining Speier in introducing the resolution was Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, whose 17th Congressional District is the first in the continental U.S. with an Asian-American majority, and who is chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

“Alongside the 60,000 Filipino Americans in my congressional district, as well as the 3.4 million across the country, my heart goes out to the people of the Philippines and all those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan,” Honda said in the release. “I draw upon the spirit of Bayanihan – where communities join together to uplift their neighbors – and call our global community to action and stand in support and solidarity with the relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines.”

The two lawmakers’ resolution expresses the deepest condolences from the United States to the people of the Philippines affected by the typhoon, which has claimed nearly 1,800 lives and left more than 600,000 people homeless. It also urges additional support for the victims in the recovery and rebuilding process. Despite an initial release of $25 million in U.N. emergency funds, aid workers report medicine shortages and difficulty accessing fresh water and food.

Speier’s office said the U. S. military already is helping the Philippine government with aerial reconnaissance, search and rescue, and supplies and resources. Over 150 troops are on the ground; the USS George Washington nuclear supercarrier will arrive within a few days; and two KC-130 Hercules aircraft were deployed from Japan. More assets are on short notice for deployment depending on the level of need.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the Philippine government and international relief groups to provide water, food and emergency shelter; it’s estimated that 2.5 million survivors will need food aid for the next six months. The U.S. government is providing $20 million in immediate aid: $10 million from USAID’s office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide emergency shelter and hygiene kits for 10,000 families, and $10 million from USAID’s Food for Peace program. About 55 metric tons of nutrition are expected to arrive on Thursday to feed about 20,000 children and 15,000 adults for five days; 1,000 metric tons of rice shipped from Sri Lanka is expected to arrive in early December and will feed 60,000 people for one month.

Speier will hold a telephone town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday with 100 Filipino-Americans from her district who are concerned for relatives or friends affected by the typhoon; representatives from the federal government and the Red Cross will be on the call, too. “Nothing can ease the pain of those who have lost loved ones or are uncertain if their loved ones are alive, but we will not spare any efforts to help the survivors rebuild their lives,” Speier said.

More, after the jump…
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