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California pulls most National Guard troops from U.S.-Mexico border

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California pulls most National Guard troops from U.S.-Mexico border

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday signed an order withdrawing more than two-thirds of the state’s National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border, calling claims of an illegal immigration crisis there nothing but “political theater.”

FILE PHOTO: California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom speaks after being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Newsom said most of the roughly 360 National Guard members deployed to the border would be reassigned to other duties in the state, with about 100 remaining behind as part of a task force targeting drug trafficking and cartels.

“This whole border issue is a manufactured crisis. We are not interested in participating in this political theater,” Newsom said at an afternoon news conference in Sacramento.

The governor, a Democrat who took office in January, said border crossings were at their lowest level since 1971 and that the state’s undocumented population had dropped to a more than 10-year low.

“This is pure politics, period full stop,” he said.

The move was a rebuke to President Donald Trump, who won election in 2016 partly on a populist pledge to build a wall on the southern U.S. border which he said in his campaign Mexico would pay for.

Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to help build that wall was central to a 35-day partial U.S. government shutdown that ended last month. He agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow lawmakers time to find a compromise and avert another shutdown on Feb. 15.

Newsom’s predecessor, Governor Jerry Brown, agreed to send National Guard troops to the border last April after reaching agreement with the Trump administration that they would focus on fighting criminal gangs and smugglers and not enforce immigration laws.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham last week ordered the withdrawal of most National Guard troops deployed at the border by her Republican predecessor at Trump’s request last year.

Trump has deployed an extra 3,750 U.S. troops on the border this month.

Newsom said some of the National Guard troops would be re-deployed to help fight what he said were mushrooming illegal marijuana farms following approval of a 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis – legislation the governor helped champion.

“We have to hold accountable those who are not participating in the legal cannabis market,” he said. “These illegal grows are manifesting, getting bigger.”

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Peter Szekely in New York, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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Washington state could become first state to allow human composting

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Washington state could become first state to allow human composting

Washington state lawmakers on Friday passed a bill that would allow residents take part in “natural organic reduction” of human remains, citing in part research that said careful composted human remains could be safe for use in a household garden, reports said.

The Seattle Times reported that Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s office on Friday said he did not review the final legislation. Inslee– who is running for president— has been active on Twitter since the state Senate and House of Representative passed bill 5001, but did not mention the bill in any posts. The bill reportedly passed easily and had bipartisan support.

The report pointed out that the measure has been several years in the making. There was a trial that involved six backers who agreed to organic reduction. The results were positive and “the soil smelled like soil and nothing else,” the report said.

Troy Hottle, a fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told the paper that the method is as “close to the natural process of decomposition [as] you’d assume a body would undergo before we had an industrialized society.”

An NBC News report last year said the procedure could cost $5,500.

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“People from all over the state who wrote to me are very excited about the prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves,” Democratic state Sen. Jamie Pedersen told NBC.

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Ben Carson explains benefits of investing in ‘Opportunity Zones’ for areas facing economic challenges

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Ben Carson explains benefits of investing in 'Opportunity Zones' for areas facing economic challenges

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spoke on “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton” in an interview that aired Sunday about proposed new regulations aimed at making it easier for investors to take advantage of tax breaks for investing in “Opportunity Zones” in low-income areas.

“Policies have been pretty much aimed at putting people into programs,” Carson said, and now the Trump administration is trying to get poor Americans “out of the programs and self-sufficient.”

President Trump said last week that 8,700 neighborhoods across all 50 states and U.S. territories have received the Opportunity Zone designation and would be eligible for the federal tax incentives he’s proposed.

“The entire island of Puerto Rico is an opportunity zone,” Carson said.

“We are very concerned about the rural areas, too,” he added.

Trump’s proposed regulations were issued by the Treasury Department. They sought to clear up questions that were keeping some investors from using the incentives.

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The program was included in the $1.5 trillion tax cut legislation that Trump pushed through Congress in 2017.

The new Opportunity Zones were set up to enable private investors to re-invest profits into designated areas.

“They are going to invest that money somewhere,” Carson said.

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He noted private investors would do what they do because they “want to be successful.”

As White House officials have explained, investors in Opportunity Zones could get tax benefits by deferring their capital gains taxes invested in the zones until 2026. They also could receive discounts of up to 15 percent on capital-gains profits invested in the zones and would pay no capital-gains taxes on investments in the zones held for at least 10 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Tulsi Gabbard: Mueller report found ‘no collusion took place,’ Dems shouldn’t push to impeach Trump

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Tulsi Gabbard: Mueller report found 'no collusion took place,' Dems shouldn't push to impeach Trump

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 2020 candidate for president, told Fox News on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election found “no collusion” between President Trump and Russia — and that it’s time for the country to focus on the issues that matter most to Americans.

Gabbard, a Democrat, told “America’s News HQ” that while she supported the Mueller investigation, “the conclusion that came from that Mueller report was that no collusion took place. Now is the time for us to come together as a country to put the issues and the interests and the concerns that the American people have at the forefront, to take action to bring about real solutions for them.”

She continued, “I don’t think that we should defeat Donald Trump through impeachment. I think it’s really important for us, in this country, to come together and have the American people vote to take Donald Trump out of office in 2020.”

Gabbard’s position came in direct contrast to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who last Friday called on the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings. Warren explained Saturday at an event in New Hampshire, “I know people say this is politically charged and we shouldn’t go there, and that there is an election coming up, but there are some things that are bigger than politics.”

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Also Friday, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, another 2020 candidate, said launching impeachment proceedings would be “perfectly reasonable.”

Gabbard countered, “What I am worried about is the continued divisiveness and putting partisan political interests ahead of the interest of the people,” citing a voter’s concerns about making ends meet while struggling with the costs of health care.

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The Justice Department released a redacted version of Mueller’s report last Thursday. Mueller wrote that he found no proof of collusion between Trump and Russia, and did not draw a conclusion over accusations the president may have obstructed justice.

For his part, President Trump tweeted on Sunday, “Despite No Collusion, No Obstruction, The Radical Left Democrats do not want to go on to Legislate for the good of the people, but only to Investigate and waste time. This is costing our Country greatly, and will cost the Dems big time in 2020!”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Leland Vittert contributed to this report.

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