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Your Representatives on Nuclear Fallout, Shutdowns and Security

A look at what your representatives in Congress and in Sacramento are up to.

"Dirty Tricks"

Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA)

Stark signed on to a letter sent to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats by Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) calling for an investigation into HBGary Federal, a defense contractor recently thrust into the scrutinizing eyes of media after leaked emails, obtained by support of hacktivist group Anonymous, made their way to the Internet. In the emails, HBGary, Palantir Technologies, and Berico Technologies discussed conducting a "dirty tricks" campaign to discredit Wikileaks, counter critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and intimidate Salon.com reporter Glen Greenwald for his support of Wikileaks.  

Unconstitutional War

Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA)

Following the United Nations-sanctioned military intervention against Libyan leader Maummar Gaddafi for his continued violence against dissenters of his regime, and the subsequent U.S.-led airstrikes that followed, a number of Congress members, Stark included, signed on to legislation to end the conflict. The bill (R.E.C.L.A.I.M. Act), introduced March 29 by Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich), would direct President Barrack Obama to cease all hostilities with Libya. Critics say that the war is unconsitutional as it did not involve Congress, while supporters point to the UN mandate to prevent the slaughter of civilians. The bill is in committee.

The Great Shutdown

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

With a Federal government shutdown looming, members of Congress are positioning themselves for what will surely be nasty fallout as an untold number of federal workers and military personnel stop receiving paychecks, and for Americans, the loss of some services. But a number of senators have vowed not to take paychecks during a shutdown, as Congress members will, ironically, still get paid; Boxer is among those on both sides of the partisan aisle who have make such a pledge. 

Boxer and Feinstein also introduced a bill, which passed the Senate on March 1, to block congressional pay in the event of a shutdown. It has yet to be scheduled in the House of Representatives, but Houe Republicans have tacked on a similar measure to their budget bill that would make $61 billion in cuts to social services.

Going Nuclear

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

In the wake of the disastrous earthquake plus tsunami plus nuclear radiation crisis that has virtually crippled Japan, attention to the state of domestic nuclear power plants has focused on whether or not facilities here can withstand a disaster of that magnitude. Boxer strongly criticized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (the body that oversees nuclear power in the U.S.) for not reviewing a recent California report about the dangers posed by the San Diego County-based San Orofre and Central Coast-based Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants—both could affect at least 8 million Californians if an earthquake damaged them. The agency plegded to study the issue.

Meanwhile, Feinstein gave a statement on March 30 at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, where she praised the safety precautions at both nuclear plants, but called for the NRC to evaluate whether the plants could withstand a quake as large as the one in Japan.

Both Feinstein and Boxer introduced legislation that would expand earthquake-related research and readiness.

Woman of the Year

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward)

Hayashi named Pleasanton resident Kathleen Wat "woman of the year" for her work promoting the health and well-being of children in Alameda County. Wat, a third generation Japanese American, serves on the advisory committee for Foothill High School Health & Bioscience Academy, is a fundraiser for the Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation, developing the Fremont Central Park PlayPark, which features playground equipment designed to allow children with disabilities a place to play.

Assembly members have named a woman of the year for their respective districts since 1987 to celebrate Women's History Month.  

Hospital Security

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward)

A bill introduced by Hayashi to improve security at hospitals is expected to soon clear the Assembly Committee on Health. The bill, supported by the California Nurses Association, would require more stringent security in hospitals, an annual review of security, and greater reporting requirements when violence occurs. The California Hospitals Association opposes the bill, saying it could place undue burden on hospitals.

Champion Against Sexual Assault

State Senator Ellen Corbett (D-10th)

The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault awarded Corbett the title "Lawmaker of Distiniction" for her work in advancing legislation to tackle issues revolving around sexual assault. Her record includes two bills: one that requires a mandatory sexual examination in cases of sexual assault, and one that ensures greater privacy for survivors of sexual assault. 

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