by Juliana Birnbaum Fox
The Green Party of California (GPCA) called on California Democratic Party state and federal lawmakers this week to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reveal what she learned in 2002 when she was given a “virtual tour” of the CIA’s torture program. According to CIA reports, there were no objections raised by members of Congress who were briefed on the program, which included the use of the illegal waterboarding technique.
“That Democratic Party lawmakers are being briefed about torture, and thentacitly agreeing with it, is one more example that voters in California are being misled when they are being told the Democratic Party is the answer to ending this war,” said Cres Vellucci, a Vietnam veteran and member of the GPCA Veterans Caucus.
Regulations considered to curb port diesel fumes
California port truck drivers face increased health risks from breathing dangerous levels of diesel exhaust fumes inside their truck cabs, according to a new report. Released just days before regulators are to consider cleaning up the trucks, the report’s authors say their study shows the tortureneed to overhaul the fleet, reduce waiting times at terminals and limit pollution from other port sources.
Diesel engines emit a toxic brew of pollutants, causing adverse health impacts, such as asthma, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, increased emergency room visits, birth defects, premature births, and other respiratory illnesses.
The report revealed that the amount of diesel particulate matter found inside the truck cabs was up to 2,000 times greater than the level considered acceptable by federal environmental protection agencies.
Mayor Newsom calls for budget cuts and hiring freeze to address deficit
Faced with a serious budget deficit, Mayor Gavin Newsom today asked for thirteen percent across the board cuts and an immediate hiring freeze. The Mayor’s Office is currently projecting a $229 million General Fund shortfall for 2008-2009, with continuing deficits into the following year.
“Today’s announcement of a projected deficit simply means that the City is going to have to tighten its belt in terms of spending,” said Newsom. “Our revenue continues to be strong and our local economy is still in very good shape.”
National Endowment for the Arts Honors San José Festivals
The Mexican Heritage Corporation, producer of San José’s annual Mariachi and Jazz festivals, announced this week that they had been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for grants in support of Access to Artistic Excellence.
“The Festival has grown significantly over the past three years and achieved a level of artistic excellence that San Jose and the nation may be proud of,” stated Marcela Davison Aviles, President and CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corporation.
Proposed “carbon tax” would combat global warming
Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to ask voters next year to approve a “carbon tax” on businesses that he says would provide a financial incentive for conserving energy and motivating workers to use public transportation. The ballot measure would increase the city’s 5 percent commercial utilities tax to encourage energy-saving steps by hotels and offices.
To keep the higher rates from becoming an economic drag on the city, the initiative would carry a corresponding decrease in the 1.5 percent payroll tax on for-profit businesses in San Francisco, according to the mayor.