Monday, September 23, 2013

Kenya Reeling from Shopping Mall Attack

The World from Public Radio International with a brief but worthwhile report from Nairobi, Kenya as the shopping mall siege continues.

News outlets continue to report the Somalia-based al-Shabaab terrorist group as responsible for the attack at the high-end Westgate Mall.

Simon Tisdall of the Guardian writes here about what might be going on within al-Shabaab to spark this attack, namely a brutal power struggle:

At first glance the Westgate atrocity simply looks like a vicious reprisal for successful military operations undertaken in southern Somalia by the 4,000 Kenyan troops attached to Amisom, the 18,000-strong African-Union-led, UN-backed peacemaking mission. A statement by al-Shabaab said as much, and threatened more of the same until the "Kenyan invaders" withdrew.
But Westgate also looks like a chilling statement of intent by Ahmed Abdi Godane, the al-Shabaab leader, who consolidated his power in June in an internal coup. Among four top commanders who were executed by Godane were two of the group's co-founders, known as al-Afghani and Burhan. Al-Shabaab's spiritual leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, fled for his life, and was subsequently detained by Somali government forces.
The rest of the piece is worth a read.

For more on al-Shabaab see, Al-Shabaab: the Rise of a Youth-Led Islamist Movement.

Hundreds of people queue to donate blood to the injured victims of the attack on a shopping mall at a temporary donation centre at Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi September 23, 2013. Photograph: Noor Khamis/Reuters

Friday, September 20, 2013

Is The United States Spending Too Much On Military?

The world's military spending estimates $1.7 trillion each year, with the United States responsible for 39%. Hopefully with the war in Iraq-Afghanistan possibly decelerating, The United States will seek to cut down on military spending. Lets hope the United States stays out of a potential war with Syria to keep spending down.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Richest Americans: They're Doing Better Than Ever

Forbes Magazine gives us some facts and figures about its list of the 400 richest Americans.

Four hundred wealthiest Americans have a net worth higher than the GDP of Russia, over $2 trillion. It is rather hard to get on this list now.  A fair number of billionaires didn't make enough to qualify,

Interesting timing for us.  We're reading Marx in class.

Friday, September 13, 2013

More on the Bill to Grant Driver's Licenses to Undocumented Immigrants

Legislation passed last night to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants will require the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to develop a license with a special watermark on it indicating that the license is for driving only and not for identification purposes, a provision that will indicate that the holder is indeed undocumented.   The Los Angeles Times reports the license will include the mark DP (driver's privilege) and not DL (driver's license), with a notation that would say the document "does not establish eligibility for employment or public benefit."

Some supporters of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants are nevertheless disappointed about the mark because of fears it could be used as a red flag for federal immigration enforcement action (i.e. deportation).   The bill's strongest supporters say, however, that even with this provision,   potentially licensing over a million more people will improve safety and actually prevent undocumented drivers from losing their cars or even worse when pulled over for routine traffic stops.

See this piece on the ABC news website titled "Why Driver's Licenses Matter for Undocumented Immigrants."

For some enforcement perspective, both pro and con, read this second Los Angeles Times story here.

Finally, here is a fascinating story from the Seattle Times in June explaining that California is joining 10 other states in issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Assad's Interview

This is the link to the Charlie Rose Interview with Assad, the president of Syria, that happened last week. I find it interesting the way Assad responds to Charlie Rose's questions but also how fast this situation in Syria moves rapidly with what is happening, especially from this interview to Obama's speech that took place on Tuesday.

CA Legislature Approves Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

See the story in the Sacramento Bee.

The California Legislature late Thursday sent a bill to Governor Jerry Brown allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses.  In a statement before the final vote in the state Assembly, the Governor signaled he will sign the bill:

This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally,” Brown said in the statement. “Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

California $10 Minimum Wage Awaits Governor's Approval

The California legislature today passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage in the state to $10 an hour.   The bill is structured so the wage goes up in two increments: $9 an hour by July 1, 2014, with another dollar an hour by January 2016.    The measure now heads to Governor Brown, who has already indicated he will sign it into law. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Politics? (first of many parts...)


Friends of Teen Killed in Traffic Accident Win Approval for New Signal

Read more here:
Please students, don't ever let anyone tell you that politics is somehow inherently dirty and undesirable.   Here's a bittersweet and beautiful example of local politics in action.

The Sacramento Bee today reports of an announcement by local government and school district officials that a much-needed traffic signal is slated to be installed at the intersection of Fruitridge Rd and 58th Street, the result of political action by West Campus High School students following the death of their friend and classmate, Michelle Murigi nearly two years ago.    Michelle was walking in the intersection's crosswalk near the high school after mentoring younger children at nearby Mark Twain Elementary School.  As the Bee reports:

Sacramento police said a car in the far eastbound lane had stopped to allow Michelle to cross at 56th Avenue, but a car in the inside eastbound lane continued through the crosswalk and struck her. The second driver had been unable to see Michelle because of the stopped car.

Michelle sustained severe trauma and died the next day.

According to Terry Preston, coordinator of pedestrian advocacy group WALK Sacramento, Fruitridge Road was initially designed as a “mini-highway in an urban area.”

“That leads to people flying down the road too fast,” he said.
Preston said the city of Sacramento has known about unsafe conditions on Fruitridge for years...
Michelle's friends petitioned neighbors, lobbied school and city officials and even made a documentary in their successful effort to convince leaders to prioritize the Fruitridge Road signal.

That's working to improve the community.  That's being political.  That's politics.   

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Did the American People Silence the War Drums?

President Obama spoke on Syria tonight.   If you didn't catch it or want to read the transcript, please go here.

I've also include this opinion piece by writer David Sirota on the push for military action by high level government officials and political analysts.   Its title, "Take that, D.C. Gasbags!  How Angry Americans May Stop a  Disaster," should give you a sense of the blistering message. Read it and comment.  (And to my 5th period students, pay particular attention to the Orwell reference, which is especially noteworthy considering we just finished reading his Politics and the English Language.)  I'm very interested in your thoughts.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Across the California Delta

 Lauren Korth, C.K. McClatchy High School Class of 2012

The multi talented Lauren Korth just released this video as a sort of love letter to the gorgeous and unique region where she grew up, the California Delta.  Watch and then read on below.

Here's Lauren:
Since I'm moving back to Santa Cruz tomorrow, I wanted to leave a gift for my home. I have been in awe this summer over all the support around the Delta against the tunnels, and I wanted to contribute as well! Thus, I spent a good portion of my summer creating this. I hope you like it, please share with others if you do! (p.s. please let it load to HD if you have the time, then it will be as clear as I could get it)
Also, if you have no flipping idea what the tunnels are or any of this stuff, check out
...and a bit more:

The California Delta is a region in Northern California located between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. Currently there are plans under way to create tunnels to other parts of the state that would take monstrous amounts of our Delta water. For detailed information on this issue, and the "Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels" signs seen in this video, please visit Restore the Delta at

Song: Delta
Artist: C2C

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Senator Steinberg's Prison Plan

Post from Melissa McDaniel, Period 5

California State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s prison plan proposition continues to spark debate after it had been successfully passed. The Senate Budget Committee, after much deliberation, decided Wednesday eleven to five.  The plan seems more favorable to the Senate than Jerry Brown’s proposition, which would expand more housing in the prisons at the cost of $715 million. Sonya Shah,of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice supports the Steinberg bill, speaking on behalf of the prisoners telling the press they (like victims) need to be rehabilitated just as Steinberg’s plan proposes. On the other end of the debate, Dawn Koepke of Crime Victims United speaks against the passing of the plan, since it would allow offenders into the streets.
I picked this article off of Sacramento's KCRA television news site, thinking about the repercussions of both plans. I’ve been hearing plans similar for months prior to this hearing. In my personal opinion, I honestly believe that there are reasons for every prisoner to be in there. Also, how can this bill pass when these people have been tried, given a sentence, and have yet to finish that debt to society? Who will take responsibility if they offend again however small it may be?
These plans differ, and I admit that I see folly in both plans. So, maybe after you read this argue in the comments for against the Steinberg bill's passage.

The KCRA story is found here.

~ Melissa McDaniel                       

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The 51st State of Jefferson

"The state of Jefferson is where I want to raise my son."  ~ Kayla Brown

Read more here:

The Board of Supervisors in California's Siskiyou County voted on Tuesday to pursue seceding from California, citing their frustration with a lack of representation in a state legislature dominated by Southern California interests.   Supporters of leaving the state believe Siskiyou County should join with other rural counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon to form the new state of Jefferson.  Actually, talk of a state of Jefferson goes back to the 1940s.   Check out the website for the Jefferson Statehood Project here.

Below, is one proposed map of the 51st state of Jefferson, carved out of parts of N. California and S. Oregon.