Letter: Stanford’s expansion plan helps address housing crisis

Stanford’s expansion plan
respects community input

Re: “Stanford offers $4.7 billion package as part of its proposed expansion” (Mercurynews.com, June 24):

Kudos to Stanford for putting together and submitting to the county a comprehensive proposal that helps to address our region’s housing and transportation challenges.

The housing shortage and transportation problems in the Bay Area are serious concerns that require thoughtful solutions. Particularly impressive is Stanford’s offer to accelerate housing construction. Our region needs that housing as soon as possible.

Stanford’s proposal deserves serious and thoughtful consideration by Santa Clara County, and I encourage everyone involved – from the county supervisors to the Planning Commission to take the time to review and discuss it fully.

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This proposal is responsive to the requests that a number of local communities have made of Stanford. It is in everyone’s interest to have a thorough discussion of Stanford’s offer and how it can benefit our region.

Mary O’Kicki
Palo Alto

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


New Zealand struggles to enforce gun-control law

By Emanuel Stoakes | The Washington Post

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — It was one of the defining moments as New Zealand grieved after a pair of deadly mosque attacks: a near-unanimous parliamentary vote in April to ban assault-style rifles and similar weapons.

The lawmakers’ move was immediately acclaimed by gun-control advocates worldwide as an example of decisive collective action in a nation unified in horror by the March 15 assaults in Christchurch that left 51 people dead.

Then the momentum began to slow.

Growing opposition from New Zealand’s pro-gun groups has complicated efforts to round up the now-banned firearms under a buyback program. Lawsuits are threatened.

Gun-control advocates argue that compensation rates may not be fair and warn of a possible spike in black-market sales.

The government, meanwhile, is faced with a sobering set of challenges over how to enforce the new law.

There is no national registry for many of the weapons targeted by the ban, including the AR-15 — a semiautomatic rifle that has been used in mass shootings in the United States and is often at the center of American gun-control debates.

As a result, estimates of the numbers of newly banned weapons vary widely. So far, about 700 firearms have been voluntarily surrendered.

Authorities are “operating a little bit in the dark,” said Joe Green, gun-safety specialist and former arms control manager for the New Zealand Police.

“It’s really an open checkbook,” he added, “because they don’t know how many they are buying back.”

The suspected gunman, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, became the first person charged under New Zealand’s post-Sept. 11, 2001, anti-terrorism laws. His trial date is set for May 4.

Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is moving ahead with plans to further tighten gun controls. Measures could include a national firearms registry and a more comprehensive vetting process for gun ownership.

Gun groups and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Oakland judge bars Trump from using $2.5B to build border wall

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday prohibited President Donald Trump from tapping $2.5 billion in military funding to build high-priority segments of his prized border wall in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. in Oakland acted in two lawsuits filed by California and by activists who contended that the money transfer was unlawful and that building the wall would pose environmental threats.

“All President Trump has succeeded in building is a constitutional crisis, threatening immediate harm to our state,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led a 20-state coalition of attorneys general in one lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, praised the decision.

“This decision upholds the basic principle that the president has no power to spend taxpayer money without Congress’ approval,” said ACLU staff attorney Dror Ladin. “We will continue to defend this core principle of our democracy.”

Speaking Saturday at a news conference marking the end of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Trump called the decision “a disgrace.”

“So we’re immediately appealing it and we think we’ll win the appeal,” he went on to say. “There was no reason that that should have happened. And a lot of wall is being built.”

The decisions are in line with Gilliam’s ruling last month that blocked work from beginning on two of the highest-priority projects — one spanning 46 miles (74 kilometers) in New Mexico and another covering 5 miles (8 kilometers) in Yuma, Arizona.

But the fight is far from over. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to take up the same issue of using military money next week.

At issue is President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency so that he could divert $6.7 billion from military and other …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Trump becomes first sitting president to set foot into North Korea

By Seung Min Kim and Simon Denyer | The Washington Post

PANMUNJOM, South Korea — President Donald Trump met Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Sunday and crossed briefly into North Korea, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the isolated state.

The two men held 53 minutes of private talks and agreed to set up teams to “work out some details” to determine whether progress could be made in their negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program, Trump said.

“Speed is not the object. We want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal,” Trump said after the talks. “Nobody knows how things turn out, but certainly this was a great day. This was a very legendary, very historic day.”

“It’ll be even more historic if something comes up, something very important,” he added. “Very big stuff, pretty complicated, but not as complicated as people think.”

The meeting came four months after the second summit between the two leaders broke down in Hanoi. Trump has argued that the summit was a success because his relationship with the North Korean leader deepened.

History was made at 3:45 p.m. local time on Sunday as Trump and Kim walked up to the line dividing the two Koreas and shook hands. Kim then invited Trump to cross into North Korea. The two men strolled a few yards to a road on the North Korean side, stayed a few seconds, then crossed back into South Korea.

“Good to see you,” said Kim, dressed in a black Mao suit. “I never expected to see you in this place.”

Kim said the very fact of the meeting was significant.

“We want to bring an end to our unpleasant past and bring in a new future, so this is a very courageous and determined act,” he …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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