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Tackling California's budget crisis: Raise taxes, cut programs, or form a bank?

BND building
In 2022, the state of California celebrated a record budget surplus of $97.5 billion. Two years later, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office, this surplus has plummeted to a record budget deficit of $73 billion. Balancing the budget will be challenging. Unlike the federal government, the state cannot just drive up debt and roll it over year after year. The California Balanced Budget Act, passed in 2004, requires the state legislature to pass a balanced budget every year.

The usual solutions are to cut programs or raise taxes, but both approaches are facing an uphill battle. Raising taxes would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature, which would be very challenging, and worthy public programs are in danger of getting axed, including homelessness prevention and funding for low-income housing.

A third possibility might be to increase the income tax base and state income by stimulating the economy with a state-owned depository bank. The state-owned Bank of North Dakota, which has raised record profits for its state, is a stellar example. In a review of states with the healthiest budgets based on data from the PEW Charitable Trusts, U.S. News & World Report puts North Dakota at No. 1 in Budget Balancing and #1 in Short-term Fiscal Stability.

California has an Infrastructure and Development Bank, which is already capitalized and has an established track record of prudent and productive lending, but it is not a depository bank and its reach is small. Transforming it into a depository bank would be fairly uncomplicated and could substantially increase its reach.

But first a look at what happened to the state's copious revenues.

Comment: All states should evaluate this option.


Best of the Web: King Bibi's Land Grab

gaza building
If you've ever taken a lifesaving course, you know there's a real possibility that a drowning person will drag you under and you'll both die. It's a lesson that should be kept in mind when discussing America's relationship with Israel. (adapted from)@LarryBoorstein
On Monday, Israel intensified its airstrikes on Rafah, bombing more than 50 sites in the heart of the city. Video footage on Twitter showed plumes of smoke rising from the makeshift encampments and residential buildings where more than 1.4 million refugees are presently huddled in the most densely populated place on earth. Israel's air campaign was accompanied by a sizable ground-offensive that deployed tanks and armored vehicles to the southern border where Israeli troops quickly seized the Rafah Crossing without resistance.

The sudden uptick in violence has triggered widespread panic among the Palestinians many of who have already gathered their families and belongings onto carts and buses and fled northward to safety. The opening assault on the civilian enclave is reminiscent of earlier attacks on Gaza City and Khan Younis both of which followed a similar pattern. The launching of random bombings is designed to amplify feelings of terror within the population while the humanitarian blockade tightens the stranglehold on critical food and medical supplies. The objective here is not to kill as many Palestinians as possible, but to force them into sprawling tent cities where they will languish amid the rubble until the international community finds a way to spirit them out of the country. For Israel, the endgame has always been ethnic cleansing, a comprehensive erasure of the native population. The ground invasion of Rafah represents the final phase of that maniacal strategy. This is from an article at the World Socialist Web Site:

Comment: The following speech, by a Jewish Holocaust survivor, is likely one of the most insightful we've heard on this subject and what a man of True conscience sounds like:


Trump trial postponed indefinitely

© Chet Strange/Getty ImagesFormer US President Donald Trump
A US federal judge has indefinitely postponed the trial of former US president and Republican front runner Donald Trump over allegations of mishandling classified documents.

In the summer of 2022, FBI agents raided Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence, recovering hundreds of classified documents. The Washington Post reported in September of the same year that some materials related to US nuclear secrets, Iran's missile program, and Washington's intelligence activities in China.

A year later, Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami, Florida. The former president has pleaded not guilty.

The trial was initially set to begin on May 20, 2024. However, in a ruling on Tuesday, US District Judge Aileen Cannon reset the date, arguing that there were eight substantive pending motions on which she has yet to decide. The judge also said she believed the national security mishandling allegations to "present novel and difficult questions."

Cannon said that the finalization of a trial date at this point "would be imprudent and inconsistent with the court's duty to fully and fairly consider" numerous issues in the case, noting that "additional pretrial and trial preparations [are] necessary to present this case to a jury."


'Israel is too cowardly': Houthis speak to RT about war, Zionism and Palestine

Houthi official Nasr Al-Din Amer
Exclusive interview with Nasr al-Din Amer, an official representative of Yemen's Ansar Allah movement

Yemen's Houthis (officially the Ansar Allah movement) have dismissed US peace proposals, The National writes, citing Yemeni sources.

Over the past week, Ansar Allah fighters have attacked US and Israeli ships in the Red Sea at least four times, following a brief pause in hostilities. These attacks have caused considerable economic damage and undermined the public image of the US and its allies. Unable to deal with the Yemenis by means of the "stick," the US resorted to the "carrot," promising to lift the blockade on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and the port of Hodeidah if the Houthis stopped the attacks. However, the Ansar Allah movement does not intend to stop its operations until Palestine is liberated.

Nasr al-Din Amer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Yemen's Saba news agency, and deputy head of the press service of the Ansar Allah movement, spoke with RT about all this and more, in an exclusive interview.


Biden's DOJ threatens to sue another state for enforcing immigration law

people walking
© unknownMigrant caravan
The Department of Justice is threatening a lawsuit over Iowa's new illegal immigration law, the latest move in the Biden administration's effort to stop GOP states from addressing the ongoing border crisis.

Justice Department Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton wrote to Iowa Republicans Gov. Kim Reynolds and Attorney General Brenna Bird on Thursday, threatening to sue the state unless they suspend enforcement of the newly-enacted Senate Bill 2340, the Des Moines Register first reported.

"SF 2340 is preempted by federal law and violates the United States Constitution," Boynton wrote in the letter, arguing that the Iowa law violated the Immigration and Nationality Act and "intrudes into a field that is occupied by the government and is preempted."

He gave Iowa officials a deadline of May 7 to put a halt to the law or else the Justice Department will take action.

Dollar Gold

Conflict in Ukraine perpetuated by private and corrupt interests linking Zelensky and the Bidens

Zelensky Biden
With regards to the ongoing Israeli military campaign in Gaza, the point of Benjamin Netanyahu's supposed personal and political interests in the perpetuation of the military occupation has been raised by several analysts and journalists. Marc Champion, for example, writing for Bloomberg, highlighted the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister is currently "fighting corruption charges in court" (it being implicit that it is of course usually harder to investigate and to condemn incumbent national leaders). Netanyahu, in addition, will "face a political reckoning over Oct. 7's security failures as soon as the war in Gaza ends."

Thus, writes Champion, "under cover of the country's blinding rage and deep yearning for long-term security, Netanyahu is fighting to secure his own political survival." Champion and other analysts may or may not be spot on, with regards to Netanyahu's motivations and calculations. The point is that personal, private and business interests (sometimes even involving shady deals) may indeed shape, to some degree, foreign policy decisions. And the issue is more outstanding in Ukraine than perhaps anywhere else.


'NATO lake' to put pressure on Russia's Kaliningrad during upcoming Baltic training, writes former supreme allied commander

With the addition this year of Sweden and last spring of Finland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Baltic Sea has been dubbed a "NATO lake" by some analysts. A glance at a map show that is largely (but not completely) true — the coastline has a couple of slivers of Russian territory. The rest of the coastal littoral is in NATO hands: Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark.

Russia controls a bit of coast between Lithuania and Poland because of its strange enclave of Kaliningrad. And President Vladimir Putin remains in control of the far eastern corner of the Baltic Sea in the approaches to St. Petersburg — ironically once thought of as the "window to the Western world" by the czars beginning with Peter the Great. Today, in the event of a conflict between Moscow and NATO, any of Russia's warships there would be quickly and easily bottled up or destroyed.

Comment: Unfortunately, in order to garner insight into the West's scheming, one must bear with Stavridis' delusions of grandeur, and the relentless inaccurate and snide remarks.

Comment: Delusions, such as that displayed in the last line, in addition to the rapid deterioration of NATO member states, and Israel's escalating genocide in Gaza, does not bode well for the future of the West and its vassals.

We can take the above opinion piece as perhaps a hint as to how the West has might provoke Russia next.


Israel threatens it'll use 'imprecise missiles and destroy 10 buildings instead of 1' after US pause on 'precise' arms supplies

© Hatem Khaled/ReutersRemnants of Israeli strike on a house in Rafah • May 5, 2024
A member of the Knesset (Israel's parliament) threatened on Thursday to use "imprecise missiles" in the war on the Gaza Strip in response to a US pause on arms transfer to Tel Aviv.

"The US is threatening not to give us precise missiles. Oh, yeah? Well, I got news for the US. We have imprecise missiles, and we have the right to defend ourselves," Tally Gotlive, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party, told Israeli Channel 7.

Comment: Actually, according to China's testimony at Israel's ICJ genocide trial, according to international law it's the Palestinians inalienable who have the right to defend themselves and to take up 'armed struggle' in order to liberate themselves from the occupying forces of Israel.

"So, maybe instead of using a precise missile and take down a specific room, or a specific building, I'll use my imprecise missiles, and I'll just destroy ten buildings. That's what I'll do."

Comment: Israel claims to be able to continue without Western support, but it, like Ukraine, would cease to function were it not for weapons supplies; the tens of billions of dollars in funding that is helping keep its collapsing economy afloat; as well as military assistance in the form of intelligence, and even dual citizens who are fighting for them in the IDF:


Israeli businessman murdered on video in Egypt is alleged to be Mossad spy, follows IDF seizure of shared border crossing

Egypt   Israel border rafah
© GettyEgypt and Israel have technically been at peace since the late 1970s.
The murder of a Canadian-Israeli businessman in Alexandria came a day after the Israeli army seized control of Rafah Border Crossing.

The Egyptian authorities opened an investigation into the murder of a Canadian-Israeli businessman in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, an incident believed to be triggered by Israel's ongoing onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

In a brief statement released in the early hours of Wednesday, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said that a Canadian man was shot in Alexandria and that a team of investigators has been formed to probe what it described as "a criminal case."

An Egyptian security official told The New Arab that senior national security officers are among the investigators tasked with probing the case.

Comment: See also:

Cell Phone

Is Meta facilitating Israel's AI-aided bombing of Palestinians in Gaza?

Meta Gaza
A distant rumbling growing louder warns of a menacing airstrike, and suddenly the sky tears open with the deafening roar of engines and the piercing whistle of falling bombs.

Explosions send shockwaves through the air, shattering windows, and tearing apart walls.

Debris is raining down and the air is thick with smoke. Survivors emerge from the rubble, dazed and bloodied, searching frantically for loved ones amid the relentless cacophony of death and destruction.

This is the grim and gory reality unfolding across Gaza due to Israel's genocidal war on the besieged territory which has killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, two-thirds of whom are women and children.

According to recent reports, Israel has been indiscriminately targeting Palestinians in the narrow strip using its artificial intelligence (AI)-based programs such as "Lavender," "Gospel," and "Where's Daddy" using information partly provided by Meta's messaging app WhatsApp.

Comment: See also: