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OP-ED: This Government Shutdown is Destroying America

HOUSTON FORWARD TIMES — As a result of this catastrophic and life-altering shutdown, so many people who have relied on the government for their livelihood have been severely impacted in a major way.



By Jeffrey L. Boney

Imagine having to choose between paying your mortgage and picking up the much-needed prescription you need for your health crisis, because the job you report to and the federal resources you have relied on to live day to day are no longer available to you because of things beyond your control.

Choices like that, and many others, have been exactly what the approximately 800,000 federal workers, the roughly 4 million contractors and the countless number of low-income families who rely on the federal government, have had to deal with since the beginning of what has become the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. This has been the third shutdown of the federal government since President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office.

As a result of this catastrophic and life-altering shutdown, so many people who have relied on the government for their livelihood have been severely impacted in a major way.

People have had their Medicare and Medicaid disrupted. The stock market has been volatile. Federal workers have gone without paychecks and are in danger of losing everything they have worked so hard to attain to live the American dream. Safety has also become an issue.

Our food is not safe. As a result of the shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) immediately announced that most they had stopped most of their routine food safety inspections because staff had been working without pay. These inspections handled by the unpaid workers included things like doing safety inspections on foods that had been imported from overseas, dangerous recalls, foodborne illness outbreaks, and much more.

Our drugs are not safe. The FDA also stated that because of the shutdown, they don’t have the ability to review new drugs that could be beneficial in helping people get better until the government reopens.

Even our airports are not safe.

Just a few weeks ago, a passenger on Delta Air Lines who was traveling from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta to Tokyo, Japan, informed authorities that he had inadvertently carried his loaded firearm through airport security and onto the plane. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed this and there are more concerns that unpaid TSA workers may not have the same level of focus due to the non-pay and many are not even reporting to work. Just this past week, the TSA checkpoint in Terminal B at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston was closed due to TSA agents calling in sick to protest the shutdown. Things are getting more and more out of hand.

On top of the potential safety issues, the financial strain this shutdown is putting on the American people, especially here in Texas is devastating.

This government shutdown will impact more than 3.5 million Texans who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits come February 2019.

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, there are currently 3,580,375 people receiving SNAP benefits as of December 2018.

Texas State Senator Borris L. Miles states that while the shutdown is already hurting Texans all across the state, he believes it’s about to hit the poorest in our communities the hardest because after February 2019, SNAP beneficiaries will no longer receive the necessary funds to purchase food.

“This is unacceptable,” said Miles. “I am calling on the Texas leadership to make emergency preparations to help Texans on food stamps and other programs impacted by the shutdown. I am prepared to roll up my sleeves and work with my colleagues to ensure we fund these programs adequately so that no Texan should go hungry.”

Senator Miles also sent a joint letter to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make it clear that Texas is prepared to help those impacted in our state and expects to be reimbursed when the federal government reopens.

“This is not a Democratic or Republican issue, or a rural, urban or suburban issue; it’s a poor people issue,” said Miles. “We need to do the right thing, help the poorest in our communities and minimize the impact of this shutdown.”

It has been unconscionable to witness the very people who have been elected to represent the American people, turn around and allow personal politics and political ideologies to severely hurt the American people after being voted to represent them as advocates, not enemies.

The longer this government shutdown continues, the more the American people will suffer and America as a whole will be at risk.

The American people must demand more from the elected officials who have been voted in to represent them and let them know that things have gone too far and must stop.

To hold the country hostage because President Trump can’t get his beloved wall across the border, when he stated from the onset that he would make the country of Mexico pay for it, is unfair and disingenuous. Subsequently, any elected official who cosigns with this mode of thinking and action is equally as irresponsible.

It is time for all elected officials to stop playing chicken with the American people’s livelihoods and stop playing the role of elected enemies to the people they are elected to serve.

This article originally appeared in the Houston Forward Times.  

Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.



Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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California Pushes Back on Judge’s Decision to Outlaw State’s Ban on Assault Weapons

According to Statista Research Department, California had a total of 22 mass shootings  between 1982 and 2021.



assault rifle courtesy sctimes

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced last week that the state has appealed a federal court’s decision that declared California’s ban on assault weapons unconstitutional.

Several state officials, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, also shared their disagreement with the court’s ruling during a press conference held at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The state partnered with a number of gun control advocate groups for the event, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center.

“We can agree that the decision was disappointing,” said Bonta. “In many ways, the opinion was disturbing and troubling and a big concern, but we cannot be, and we are not, deterred by this,” he said.

Federal Judge Roger Thomas Benitez presided over the decision in Miller v. Bonta. The case was heard at the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Bonta said his office has appealed the decision, requesting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit leave the current laws in effect for 30 days.

California’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation under the Roberti–Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 (AWCA) which bans the use of specific models of firearms classified as assault weapons.

In the pending court case Miller v. Bonta, James Miller, a lawyer who serves as a board member of the San Diego County Gun Owners, advocated for the use of the AR-15 rifle. However, the semiautomatic rifle with certain features is an illegal assault weapon according to California gun laws.

Miller argued that AR-15 rifles can be used for self-defense under the second amendment. Miller, who also serves on the Cajon Valley School Board, initially challenged former Attorney General Xavier Becerra on California’s criminalization of AR-15 rifles in April this year.

The ongoing case, which Bonta inherited, sparked heated debates about gun laws in the wake of increasing gun violence and mass shootings.

Breed recalled her personal experience with gun violence growing up in the Bay Area.

“We’re here at San Francisco General Hospital. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been here after a friend that I grew up with was shot,” she said.

Breed was joined by Mattie Scott who lost her son to gun violence. The mayor grew up with Scott’s son who was killed in 1996 at a graduation party in San Francisco.

“We don’t want to see another person, another child lost to gun violence in this city in this state in this country,” said Breed.

“We’ve had a law on the books in the state for over 30 years, and a judge decides that our law is no longer constitutional. That law has saved countless numbers of lives,” she said.

According to Statista Research Department, California had a total of 22 mass shootings  between 1982 and 2021. In the court decision, Benitez compared the effectiveness of an AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army Knife. Based on the federal court’s ruling, the semiautomatic machine gun is, “Good for both home and battle,” said Benitez.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” the federal judge said in favor of Miller.

Although the murder of Scott’s son remains unsolved, she is an avid activist for social justice related to gun violence.

“The judge who issued this decision is wrong,” said Scott. “It is insulting to read his decision when he called the kind of weapon that killed my son akin to a pocketknife,” she said.

“Pocket knives don’t tear families apart. They don’t shoot up schools, churches, movie theaters, and street corners,” she said in reference to the recent mass shootings across the country.

Contrary Benitez’s belief that AR-15 rifles can be compared to pocket knives, trauma surgeon Dr. Andre Campbell said that the semiautomatic rifle is a lethal assault weapon designed for the battlefield.

“An AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction. It is used in the battlefield to kill the enemy. It’s a gun that is used in warfare and should not be available or used in the streets of the United States,” said Campbell.

Campbell has treated many bullet wounds on the frontlines of trauma care for more than two decades and has witnessed the devastation a single bullet can cause to the human body.

“It is as if a bomb went off in the tissues of patients,” said Campbell describing the impact of an AR-15 bullet in patients he’s treated over the years.

Giffords Law Center Executive Director Robyn Thomas said that the federal judge’s decision to give civilians access to military-grade weapons sets California’s gun laws back by 32 years.

“The decision is not based on the correct interpretation of the law,” said Thomas.  “The comprehensive gun regulation which we have pioneered here in the state is protecting the lives of Californians. It is making us safer,” she said.

In its budget for 2021-22, the state has allocated $200 million for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program. The investment was set up to prevent gun violence in high-risk communities statewide.

“Folks that wax on about public safety and (then) they sit back passively and say nothing about this outrageous decision. Shame on them. What frauds,” said Newsom.

The governor urged lawmakers to evaluate the absurdity of the court’s decision to justify the personal use of a rifle that is, “nothing more than a weapon of war,” he said.

The governor said that gun control has always been a bipartisan issue that helped California lawmakers enact, “progressive and aggressive,” gun safety laws that regulated the people’s right to bear arms for over three decades.

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Juneteenth National Independence Day

Biden said:  “I have to say to you, I’ve only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have as president.”




President Joe Biden signed legislation into law on June 17, 2021, making June 19 a US federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day.

Biden said:  “I have to say to you, I’ve only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have as president.”

“I regret that my grandchildren aren’t here because this is a really, really, really important moment in our history.  By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history–and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come (and) the distance we have to travel.”

Biden added:  “Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments.  They embrace them.  Great nations don’t walk away.  We’ve come to terms with the mistakes we made and in remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger. ”

“We can’t rest until the promise of equality is fulfilled for every one of us in every corner of this nation.  That to me is the meaning of Juneteenth.”

It’s the first federal holiday since MLK Jr. Day in 1983 and the eleventh federal holiday recognized by the US federal government.

Juneteenth falls on a Saturday in 2021 so most federal employees will observe on Friday, June 18th.

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