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Crackdown: Gov. Newsom Adds Muscle to Fentanyl Fight by Increasing National Guard Presence at Border by 50%

Building on California’s $1 billion investment to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Sept. 7, that he is increasing the deployment of California National Guard (CalGuard) service members by approximately 50% (from 40 to 60 soldiers) at the four U.S. ports of entry along the state’s U.S.-Mexico border.

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“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” Newsom said in his announcement. “California is cracking down — and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard service members to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”
“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” Newsom said in his announcement. “California is cracking down — and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard service members to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”

By Joe W. Bowers Jr. and
Edward Henderson
California Black Media

Building on California’s $1 billion investment to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Sept. 7, that he is increasing the deployment of California National Guard (CalGuard) service members by approximately 50% (from 40 to 60 soldiers) at the four U.S. ports of entry along the state’s U.S.-Mexico border.

This expansion enables CalGuard to further support U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) narcotic search operations, including through the operation of a vehicle X-ray system used for detecting the transportation and concealment of narcotics.

This increased deployment builds on Newsom’s prior expansion of CalGuard-supported operations that contributed to a 594% increase in seized fentanyl in the state last year.

“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” Newsom said in his announcement. “California is cracking down — and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard service members to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”

Last year, CalGuard’s efforts helped law enforcement seize 28,765 lbs. of fentanyl, an amount with an estimated street value of more than $230 million.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, a majority of the fentanyl entering the U.S. is smuggled through ports of entry by U.S. citizens, not by migrants seeking asylum.

Over 150 Americans die every day from overdoses and poisonings related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

Funded by Big Tech? Calif. Lawmakers Debate the Future of Journalism

Last month, Sen. Steven Glazer (D-Orinda) vowed to bring back a journalism support bill he authored that had hit a snag in the legislative process. A few weeks later, the lawmaker lived up to his promise. On June 27, the California Senate moved to advance Senate Bill (SB) 1327 with a 27-7 vote under the Urgency Clause – special language contained in legislation that privileges it to take immediate effect after the governor signs it.

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Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a former journalist and member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, supports SB 1327.
Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a former journalist and member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, supports SB 1327.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

Last month, Sen. Steven Glazer (D-Orinda) vowed to bring back a journalism support bill he authored that had hit a snag in the legislative process.

A few weeks later, the lawmaker lived up to his promise.

On June 27,  the California Senate moved to advance Senate Bill (SB) 1327 with a 27-7 vote under the Urgency Clausespecial language contained in legislation that privileges it to take immediate effect after the governor signs it.

SB 1327 would impose a charge – called a “data extraction mitigation fee” in the bill — on major digital technology platforms such as Meta, Amazon, and Google to fund local news. Glazer pulled the bill from the floor in May when he discovered he didn’t have the minimum two-thirds votes for passage. Now, that he has generated enough support to move the bill forward, Glazer called his push to pass it a “rescue effort.”

SB 1327 is now on its way to the Assembly for review.

“We are in a moment of peril in our democracy, and our hollowed-out newsrooms are in the center of that crisis,” Glazer said during the opening of his presentation during a hearing for the bill on the Senate floor.

Glazer continued, “Ours is 248 years young. Seventy-one percent of the world’s population is under autocracies. Now, in countries such as Hungary, Argentina, and Turkey, we see these democracies teetering. You simply have to see their actions to curtail and take control of independent news media that was keeping these democracies honest.

SB 1327 has been getting pushback from digital tech giants and some publishers that are worried about losing advertising, the supposed threat of government influence, discrimination against larger publishers, and nonprofit newsrooms getting a slice of the mitigation fee.

Sen. Roger Niello (R-Roseville) voted against the bill. During the debate on the floor, Niello said it gives him “great pause to entertain a proposal” where over half the journalism industries today are “owned by hedge funds and individual investors,” he said.

The lawmaker who owns several high-end car dealerships added that the bill could bring “unintended consequences such as capital venture groups reaping the profits, should SB 1327 become law.

To qualify for the tax credit, news media outlets must initially circulate or distribute news content within the state of California and operate internet platforms.

SB 1327 proposes a 7.25% on gross receipts derived from data extraction transactions, according to the bill’s language.

Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D-Los Angeles) spoke the ways public opinion, politics and civic life have been influenced by misinformation and disinformation since the decline of the journalism industry. A member of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), Smallwood-Cuevas is a former journalist.

“These are efforts to make a difference,” Smallwood said of SB 1327. “I must applaud the author for his work particularly because the alternative must also include building a representative workforce within the newspaper industry, which this bill takes into account– ensuring that those who look like California tell the story of California.”

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California Black Media

California’s U.S. Senators Padilla and Butler Support Bill That Would Double Pell Grants

California’s U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler announced last week that they are backing White House efforts to expand Pell Grant awards for working students and families. The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act of 2024 is bicameral legislation that aims to make college more affordable for low-income students. The initiative will double the Pell Grant to students and undocumented immigrants pursuing higher education. The California senators are among several U.S. senators who have thrown their support behind the legislation.

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California’s U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler. File photos.
California’s U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler. File photos.

By California Black Media

California’s U.S. Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler announced last week that they are backing White House efforts to expand Pell Grant awards for working students and families.

The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act of 2024 is bicameral legislation that aims to make college more affordable for low-income students. The initiative will double the Pell Grant to students and undocumented immigrants pursuing higher education. The California senators are among several U.S. senators who have thrown their support behind the legislation.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is the sponsor of the bill.

Butler, a former recipient of a Pell Grant, highlighted that the program helped her further her studies and afford a college education.

“As a proud recipient of the Pell Grant, I know the transformative power of the program in turning the dream of higher education into a reality for students in California and across the nation,” said Butler.

“We must expand the Pell Grant Program to put higher education in reach so that every student has the opportunity to succeed,” she said.

With this new initiative, the program will index maximum awards for inflation. If passed, the measure will make Pell Grant funding fully mandatory to protect it from funding shortfalls. The act would also restore eligibility for the program up to 18 semesters for students.

Padilla, a first-generation college graduate, acknowledged that the Pell Grant supported his goal to attend college and overcome financial challenges.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to pursue higher education, no matter the size of their parent’s paycheck,” said Padilla.

“As a proud, first-generation college graduate, I know the challenges students face in accessing an affordable education, especially as the cost of education continues to climb,” he said.

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California Black Media

Californians Will Vote on “End Slavery in California Act” on November Ballot 

The California Senate voted 33-3 to approve Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 (ACA 8), a proposition that would end involuntary servitude in state prisons.  The state senate approved the ballot measure June 27, two years after a similar measure was rejected. ACA 8 would mostly impact all prisons in the state that currently use slave labor and indentured servitude as a punishment for crime.

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Asm. Lori Wilson (Suisun City), Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. The Senate advanced ACA 8, a bill authored by Wilson, with a 33-3 vote on June 27. The bill would remove language regarding involuntary servitude from the California Constitution. It will be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Asm. Lori Wilson (Suisun City), Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. The Senate advanced ACA 8, a bill authored by Wilson, with a 33-3 vote on June 27. The bill would remove language regarding involuntary servitude from the California Constitution. It will be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Bo Tefu, California Black Media  

The California Senate voted 33-3 to approve Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 (ACA 8), a proposition that would end involuntary servitude in state prisons.

The state senate approved the ballot measure June 27, two years after a similar measure was rejected. ACA 8 would mostly impact all prisons in the state that currently use slave labor and indentured servitude as a punishment for crime.

The same day, the bill’s author and California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) Chair Lori Wilson made amendments to the legislation before the Senate voted 68-0, clearing the measure to appear as a ballot proposition for voters to decide in the November elections.

ACA 8 is part of a 14-bill package sponsored by the CLBC to implement policy recommendations from the state-funded reparations task force.

“It is a testament to our collective resolve to correct historical wrongs and ensure that every individual in California is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Wilson.

“Now, as we look ahead to the November 2024 ballot, let us continue to work with the same spirit of determination and unity that has brought us to this moment,” she said.

A section of California’s Constitution state, “slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited.” However, state law makes an exception for incarcerated individuals.

Inmates can earn as much as 48 cents per hour for working as technicians. Inmates working as firefighters earn approximately $5.80 per day to contain fires statewide.

Lawrence Cox, a former inmate and policy fellow with nonprofit Legal Services for Prisoners with Children said forced labor prevents inmates from focusing on rehabilitation. He shared in front of the senate committee that California designates approximately 65,000 work assignments to inmates, including high risk job tasks.

Cox was incarcerated for 17 years and shared that he was often forced to work and had no right to refuse dangerous work assignments.

“I have been forced to work jobs and had jobs where I couldn’t get out,” said Cox. “When I wanted to take my on-site college courses to complete my degree, forced labor was prioritized over my rehabilitation.”

Depending on the outcome of the vote, the anti-slavery measure requires the state to pay inmates minimum wage $16 per hour for their job assignments. The California Department of Finance estimated that it would cost the state $1.5 billion to pay inmates at minimum wage.

If approved, California will join Alabama, Colorado, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont in outlawing indentured servitude.

Jamilia Land, a Sacramento-based advocate who contributed to drafting ACA 8 and serves as Coordinator of the End Slavery in California Act Coalition, called the passage of ACA 8 “exciting news.”

Encouraging all Californians to support the measure, Land said, “In November, voters will have the opportunity to support the End Slavery in California Act directly at the ballot box. Stay informed and help spread awareness on ways to contribute to ending slavery in California. Visit our website at www.abolishslavery.us to join the effort.”

ACA 8 was passed without requiring the approval of Gov. Gavin Newsom. The amendment qualified for the November ballot on June 28, the last day to finalize propositions for the November ballot.

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Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a former journalist and member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, supports SB 1327.
Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌3 days ago

Funded by Big Tech? Calif. Lawmakers Debate the Future of Journalism

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