Where are they now?

Separated immigrant children are now everywhere throughout the US, far from parents who can’t locate them

The whereabouts of their mothers and fathers unknown and often distant, many immigrant children separated from parents at the U.S. border are dependent on a system of institutions for survival. Their numbers are widely dispersed in multiple states, including Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, and California.

separated immigrant children

Separated immigrant children exist in impersonal living conditions where adults are not allowed to comfort them, or with foster parents unfamiliar with the effects of the children’s circumstances.

The White House maintains that the separations have stopped and that there is an ongoing plan to reconnect the children with their families. Yet over 2,000 children remain estranged from parents who have no knowledge of where the children are located.

Conditions are largely unknown. Most locations seem to be churches; suburban group home-like settings; a WalMart converted into lodging; and locked shelters with scarce outside time. Some locations house large numbers of children and have a constant need for head counts.

separated immigrant childrens center

2018 video from inside facility for separated immigrant children

A government’s official time estimate to satisfy a federal judge’s request that separated immigrant children be identified and reunited with their families is approximately two years.

The identification process entails examining the records of approximately 47,000 children generally referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement under varied circumstances, including border separations.

Currently, this author has no information on how closely the government’s treatment of detained immigrant children is monitored. Any feedback or input into the conditions of detained immigrant minors is welcomed.

Source content: The New York Times: U.S. Says It Could Take 2 Years to Identify Up to Thousands of Separated Immigrant Families, and The Washington Post: Separated immigrant children are all over the U.S. now, far from parents who don’t know where they are

From GMO to Biofortied

gmo-bell-pepper-injections

As genetically engineered product manipulators work against what many say is a well-deserved bad name, they continue to push for public acceptance. According to the Waking Times and other publications, the latest push very aggressively leads towards relabeling GMO as “biofortified”.

Biofortification cross-breeds certain food crops to increase needed vitamin and mineral content without genetic engineering. An example would be to increase the vitamin or iron content of sweet potatoes, moving certain areas of the planet towards better nutrition, including nutrition for areas with soil depletion.

The results of a 2010 study show that the number of respondents who find GMOs dangerous had shot up to 79% in 2016, while just 18% thought GMOs are not dangerous, and 4% said they did not know.

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 7.33.40 PM

However when asked in the same time frame, only 7% of the average (wo)man on the street stressed that GMO labeling was most important in their consideration of food quality, and only 6% wanted more info about where or how food was grown or processed.

In spite of the lower indication of worry exhibited in the more casual inquiry, the consistent flow of evidence pointing to the biological and ecological harm related to GMO products is causing consumers to increasingly avoid brands that contain GMO. GMO companies have therefore “adopted” the term “biofortified” as a new idea to divert consumers from regarding GMOs as health detractors and into seeing these products as health promoters.

Codex Authority

Under the jurisdiction of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Codex Alimentarius is a collection of codes and guidelines that standardize world food trade, safety, and production. The Codex standard allows use of the term “biofortified” for the cross-breeding of vegetables to increase the content of certain vitamins and minerals as a nutrition boost to malnourished populations.

In an apparent effort to exercise control over Codex influence, a primary GMO engineering company is pressuring Codex delegates to broaden the definition of “biofortified” to include foods that are genetically modified. The National Health Federation (NHF), the only natural health advocate delegate at Codex, reports that many of the delegates saw the deception in this attempt. Even so, the topic was tabled for further consideration at the November, 2018 Codex convergence in Berlin under a new chairperson, Dr. Anja Brönstrup, a Policy Officer at the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

Dr. Brönstrup did not call upon any of the international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) signaling her that they wanted to speak. Only the sponsoring INGO, the International Food Policy Research Institute, was allowed to speak, and then only on the broadened definition of the term “biofortified”. The NHF however was able to submit written comments stating its position against the proposed definition.

At days end Chairwoman Brönstrup suddenly stated, “I am referring this definition back to the Codex Committee on Food Labelling [CCFL],” proclaming that the GMO-inclusive definition would be sent to CCFL for its review and probable approval.

INGO Resistance

A strong resistance to GMO engineered foods in many European countries spawned a movement which has led to a moratorium in the EU and hostility towards imported genetically modified (GMO) products. The considered healthy alternative to GMOs in the EU is termed “biofortified,” just as “organic” is used in the U.S.

Blue-Corn-Seeds

In addition to confusion in Europe, the U.S. population’s consideration of “biofortified” could easily be paired with “organic,” encouraging perception of the broadened term to support health, instead of containing perceived GMO health detractors.

NHF President Scott Tips said: “It is a very sad state of affairs where we have come to the point where we must manipulate our natural foods to provide better nutrition all because we have engaged in very poor agricultural practices that have seen a 50% decline in the vitamins and minerals in our foods over the last 50 years. We will not remedy poor nutrition by engaging in deceptive marketing practices and sleight of hand with this definition.”

In May of 2019 at a gathering in Ottowa, Canada CCFL delegates will continue to review the conflict of the term “biofortified” being broadened to include GMO products. Opposers of the broadened terminology are encouraged by the fact that the Final Report of the Nutrition Committee meeting, upon which the CCFL must rely, will not include the misleading impression that there is broad support for GMO-inclusive biofortification.

A sharp eye, detailed concentration, and uncommon knowledge is already required for consumers to decode food labels. Deceptive infusion of GMO into biofortified terminology can only further confuse the situation. The conflict now depends on objections from the EU and others to prevent this mis-terminology. However even if GMO companies are unable to broaden biofortification, it is almost certain that they will continue to promote GMOs to consumers in other ways.

For more information on the attempt of the GMO engineering industry to infuse genetically modified organisms into the definition of “biofortification,” see the following sites, from which this information was derived:

Natural Blaze – GMO Foods Will Soon Be Mislabeled As Biofortified

Biology Fortified – The scary truth behind fear of GMOs

WAKING TIMES – MONSANTO TRYING TO HIDE GMO FOODS UNDER THE TERM ‘BIOFORTIFIED’

Natural News – Monsanto’s latest marketing ploy: Labeling GMOs as “biofortified”

Will the ‘Wall’ be Funded by Cutting SNAP and Medicaid?

medicaid

Reportedly the White House is proposing to replace Medicaid with block grants using waivers, allowing state ‘flexibility’ in issuing funds, while also lowering the ratio for able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps.

Many hospital administrators throughout the nation maintain that the use of block grants will place a cap on federal funding for medical coverage, assigning an added financial burden to states in filling healthcare funding gaps. The result would be further limiting the number of people covered by healthcare, and/or reducing payments to hospitals for care of the uninsured. Nursing homes would also experience payment reductions.

Chip Kahn, CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, “questioned whether the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] can legally allow these waivers.”

The American Hospital Association (AHA), accompanied by other hospital groups, are also in vehement opposition of a block grant, and previously enacted their concerns by contending against such a proposal in 2017, offered as an Obamacare repeal by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy.

“We have long voiced concerns about how block granting Medicaid could ultimately result in losses of coverage and negatively impact access to quality care,” stated Ashley Thompson, AHA Senior Vice President of Public Policy.

Currently White House policy seems to bypass statutory precedent with fiat dominance. It also seems that the administration may be looking toward funding the ‘Wall’ with revenue extracted from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid.

snap-food-stamps-facebook

Just as the current briefly relieved government shutdown has placed burdens on public services, pulling funds out of food and healthcare programs heavily impacts state finances and the plight of those in need. Recipients of the provisions from these programs would experience further food and healthcare insecurity.

Congressional Democrats are apparently poised to combat SNAP reductions and block grants that would replace Medicaid.

“Hell no,” tweeted Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. “If the Administration tries to decimate Medicaid through executive action after its scheme was rejected by Congress and the American people, I will fight it with everything I have.”

Sen. Casey continued, “That fight will be through legislation, in the courts, holding up Administration nominees, literally every means that a U.S. Senator has.”

The political issue is the action to preserve SNAP and Medicaid as much needed public resources. The conceptual issue is mandating the role of Congress as the originator of laws which the administration must follow.

If you are concerned about the possibility of reduced funding to SNAP and Medicaid, please contact your Congressional representatives to pressure for continued funding at current levels.

Find more on the administration’s actions in respect to SNAP and Medicaid in the following articles, from which the above information was derived:

DAILY KOS: Hospitals ‘furious’ at Trump’s Medicaid block grant proposal

POLITICO: Trump wants to bypass Congress on Medicaid plan

Modern Healthcare: Medicaid block grant waiver reports revive hospitals’ funding worries

DAILY KOS: Trump administration plans to bypass Congress, institute Medicaid block grants

DAILY KOS:Trump administration unveils plan to make more Americans go hungry

The Effects of the Government Shutdown

government shutdown

Closing out its fourth week, the Federal Government shutdown continues with no limit in the forecast. December 22 marked the occasion when the funding that would continue government operations went unsigned in a border wall dispute.

Interests with economic reserves barely feel the shutdown effects. But those on the government payroll, or on government services, are significantly affected.

Among agencies and agency employees affected was the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with a block on issuing flood certified flood insurance, preventing banks by federal law from approving federally backed home mortgages and causing projected millions in lost revenue. Since the block placed added stress on banks and financial institutions, on December 21 — hours before the shutdown — Congressional interests temporarily reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), allowing FEMA flood insurance certifications to flow through May of 2019.

Even though FEMA strongly maintained that the Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits government agencies from entering into contracts or spending money if the projects aren’t funded, Congressional supporters of the flood insurance extension suggest the NFIP will ‘obtain’ its own funding.

“Now we can work on long-term reforms. We can make the program sustainable without it becoming unaffordable,” stated Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy.

Meanwhile, roughly 800,000 federal employees are furloughed or working unpaid; thousands of contractors are temporarily out of work; key agency approvals are causing business slowdowns; the Small Business Administration is closed down for assistance to small businesses; many imports are going unprocessed; grants and contracts processing is delayed; and thousands of businesses with contracts tied to the federal government could lose a cumulative $200 million a day.

The Transportation Security Administration is anticipating the inability to make payroll to its  TSA employees. And millions of Americans are becoming even more food insecure as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could be disrupted.

You can express your concern for the Government shutdown by urging your Congressional representatives to pressure for financing to reopen the Federal Government.

For more detail on the Government Shutdown see:

 

El Cerrito Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

mlk celebration

This extended weekend, January 20th and 21st, El Cerrito celebrates the birthday and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The recognition starts at 4:00 PM, Sunday, January 20, with a screening:

“Cracking the Codes: The Racial Inequality”

Held at El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater

540 Ashbury Ave. El Cerrito, CA 94530


Monday, January 21st, begins the Holiday recognition with:

  • A Rally at 8:30 AM
  • A Parade assembling at 9:30 AM. The Parade leaves at 10:00 AM from El Cerrito City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave.
  • A Celebratory Program honoring the Holiday at 11:00 AM, held at the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater

Wishing everyone a joyous Celebration!

Minimum Wage Increase in El Cerrito

Minimum Wage_El Cerrito1 2019

From: Management Assistant Margaret Livingston – City of El Cerrito 

El Cerrito Minimum Wage Increase on January 1, 2019

The minimum wage in El Cerrito will increase to $15.00 per hour on January 1, 2019. All employers are required to pay their employees at least the local minimum wage rate for the hours worked within the geographic limits of City of El Cerrito, regardless of the size of the employer or where the employer’s business is based. The minimum wage requirements apply to any employee (part-time or full-time) who performs work within the City of El Cerrito, except employees who work less than 2 hours per week within El Cerrito. More information at THE EL CERRITO MINIMUM WAGE IS DIFFERENT THAN THE CALIFORNIA MINIMUM WAGE – City of El Cerrito.

Posted on Nextdoor El Cerrito del Norte (Outer S).

 

The Nationwide Disappearance of Affordable Housing

House for Sale

As the crisis of housing affordability hits El Cerrito and the rest of California, it also assaults housing security throughout the nation.

According to data held by ATTOM Data Solutions (a multi-sourced national property data warehouse), housing affordability in the United States recently dropped to a 10-year low not seen since Q3 2008.

Prop 10 to remove rent control limits, failed on the November, 2018 ballot in California. Proposition 10 stated that it:

“Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose on residential property. Fiscal Impact: Potential net reduction in state and local revenues of tens of millions of dollars per year in the long term. Depending on actions by local communities, revenue losses could be less or considerably more.”

But in California, Proposition 1, which authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs, grants, and housing loans for veterans, did pass.

A nationwide survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shows that 75% of U.S. households believe there is a crisis of housing affordability. Many respondents reported having observed effects of housing price increases in their local communities and at state levels.

In the opinion of one El Cerrito resident:

“Landlords should not take advantage of the Tenants, we’re living in the country of Laws, [In] El Cerrito … they keep raising rent 20% per year. They took advantage of the tenants because there is no rent control.”

Randy Noel, Chairman of NAHB, maintains:

“Housing affordability is an increasingly serious problem in communities across America. A mix of regulatory barriers, ill-considered public policy and challenging market conditions is driving up costs and making it increasingly difficult for builders to produce homes that are affordable to low- and moderate-income families.”

People nationwide are watching housing affordability seriously wane and needing to be addressed. Last November voters in several states (including California), counties, and some cities passed a number of initiatives and local measures to address affordable housing.

What do we do about the need for affordable living conditions? How can we pull universal public enthusiasm for affordable housing into workable solutions?

What type of civic response to the critical issue of affordable housing is within the scope of residential resources? Is there a way to negotiate with business interests to formulate local solutions to the crisis? How viable is it to pressure for local or state ordinances that attain and maintain affordable housing costs?

AFC street post

The challenge is daunting.

Locally many El Cerrito residents, including members of El Cerrito Progressives, are tirelessly involved in developing workable solutions to the lack of affordable housing. The challenge apparently lies in the dichotomy of affordable living and profitable real estate investment. The answer could lie in effecting the type of real estate and real estate agreements that produce both affordable housing and profitable returns.

The quest is how.

To reduce the outflow of renters from Boston, at the beginning of this year Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh proposed incentives to landlords that would include tax breaks or credits to landlords who charge rents below market value. Mayor Walsh also proposed that nonprofits would receive $5 million to assist in buying housing to rent at affordable rates.

But by November of this year, the general consensus among Bostonians seemed to be that the proposal’s activation didn’t address enough of the affordability issue.

“There is a feeling that the city needs to do more, but I think it’s good to reflect on what we have done,” said Sheila Dillon, Boston’s Chief of Housing and Director of the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development.

Tenant Housing

As a result of popular criticism, it seems that Boston is encouraging the redevelopment of up to 4,500 Boston Housing Authority public housing units, and protecting tenants in units with expiring affordability restrictions, a decades old state affordable housing program.

Like Boston, innovations employed by other cities, states, and nonprofits that include inclusionary zoning, removing parking minimums, changing building codes to make it easier to rehab older buildings, and new funding models are in operation. Still none offers an all-in-one solution to this enormous problem.

While the progress towards affordable housing is initial, public concern pleads for organized efforts towards effective solutions.

More information on the crisis of affordability in housing can be seen in the EAST BAY TIMES: Housing affordability crisis is nationwide article by ROSE MEILY | rmeily@silvar.org | Contributing columnist, from which much of this information was derived.