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Gavin Newsom’s reparations experiment backfires as 2024 speculation swirls

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Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is trying to dig himself out of a political predicament when it comes to slavery reparations proposed by his own task force.

Fox News Digital was first to report Tuesday evening that Newsom, after months of complete silence on the issue, declined to endorse the cash payments – which could reach as high as $1.2 million for a single recipient – recommended by his reparations task force, arguing that dealing with the legacy of slavery “is about much more than cash payments.” 

“It will take absurd mental gymnastics to require California taxpayers, including new immigrants, low-income workers, and even some African Americans to pay for a wrong committed by other states more than 150 years ago, but that’s the position Newsom put himself in,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher told Fox News Digital. 

“No matter what he does, he’s going to anger part of his base,” he said. “This is just one more example of the Governor’s tendency to make big promises he can’t or won’t keep, and people are going to learn quickly that Newsom is all talk but no action.”

Newsom’s predicament – having to choose between endorsing budget-busting checks or angering a key Democratic constituency – is in large part a problem of his own making. 

After the George Floyd riots in 2020, Newsom signed legislation that made California the first in the nation to embark on a massive socio-economic experiment of creating a majority governor-appointed group to explore potential slavery reparations for Black Americans.

The proposal set forth by the California Reparations Task Force on Saturday, which is estimated to cost more than double California’s overall budget, would risk bankrupting the state, but those who likely support it make up a significant block of the Democratic Party – a 2021 poll by the University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB found that 64% of Democrats and 86% of Black Americans support reparations.


While the Democratic governor applauded the task force’s work in Tuesday’s statement, he declined to endorse any specific recommendations, though he pledged to continue to “advance systemic changes that ensure an inclusive and equitable future for all Californians.” 

“Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we’ve already been hard at work addressing: breaking down barriers to vote, bolstering resources to address hate, enacting sweeping law enforcement and justice reforms to build trust and safety, strengthening economic mobility — all while investing billions to root out disparities and improve equity in housing, education, healthcare, and well beyond. This work must continue,” he said. 

“Following the Task Force’s submission of its final report this summer, I look forward to a continued partnership with the Legislature to advance systemic changes that ensure an inclusive and equitable future for all Californians.” 

In a reiteration of the statement that was billed as a clarification by Newsom’s office and some media outlets, Newsom again stopped short of endorsing cash payments, saying he was waiting for the task force’s final report.

Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his plans to build 1,200 small homes across the state to reduce homelessness, during the first of a four-day tour of the state in Sacramento Calif., on Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The task force recommends giving just under $360,000 per person to approximately 1.8 million Black Californians who had an ancestor enslaved in the U.S. Other factors would stack additional reparations payments on top of the slavery-specific checks. In total, a Black Californian who is 71 years old and has lived in California his entire life could receive up to $1.2 million, according to an analysis from the New York Times.

The total cost of the program is estimated at about $640 billion, exceeding the nearly $300 billion state budget by more than double, at a time when the state is facing its first deficit in years.

Newsom smirks

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Newsom declined to weigh in for months on where he stood on reparations, even though the proposal has been in the works for more than two years. His hand may soon be forced, however. The task force’s final recommendations will soon be submitted to the California Legislature, which will then decide whether to implement the measures and send them to Newsom’s desk to be signed into law. 

Critics argue that Newsom will use the lofty proposal to score political points because he views it as a non-starter in the state legislature. To that point,  CalMatters recently asked all 80 assemblymembers whether they supported the task force’s proposal, and only three said yes, while the rest declined to respond.


But if the legislature doesn’t pass a bill, proponents have called on Newsom to use his authority as governor to unilaterally enact the proposal. He likely sees it as a no-win situation, hence the vagueness of his comments so far.

“This futile reparations exercise exposes the non-serious nature of Governor Newsom‘s leadership,” Republican Assemblyman Bill Essayli told Fox News Digital. “Rather than dealing with the problems of California head on he prefers headlines and do-nothing commissions. It might work in a Democrat super-majority state like California, but the rest of America will see right through him.”

Gavin Newsom with Joe Biden

Gov. Gavin Newsom with President Joe Biden (Getty Images)

“Creating this committee was yet another half-baked ploy for votes & accolades that has landed him in dangerous waters with no path to safety,” said Elizabeth Kolstad, Chairwoman of the Fresno County Republican Party. “What is clear, is if Gavin’s committee’s recommendations are implemented, CA is going to financially sink faster than the Titanic; only the Titanic’s lights were on when it went down.”

The debate comes as Newsom continues to be floated as a possible 2024 Democrat alternative to President Biden, whose job approval ratings have sunk to a career low. Newsom has publicly backed Biden for re-election, but his actions have sparked questions about how committed he is to the president. 

The governor fueled speculation in March when he launched a political nonprofit called Campaign for Democracy that took him on a tour of multiple red states like Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Biden and Newsom

U.S. President Joe Biden, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Lynn Siebel Newsom wave to the crowd as they campaign to keep the governor in office at Long Beach City College on the eve of the last day of the special election to recall the governor on September 13, 2021, in Long Beach, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

For the first time in years, California is facing a $22.5-billion projected budget deficit after boasting about a robust surplus less than a year ago. Newsom outraged Republicans and Democrats alike after he proposed slashing his budget commitment for foster care services by two-thirds in order to help make up for the budget shortfall.

The state is suddenly strapped for cash despite being No. 1 in the country for highest income taxes, sales taxes and having the second-highest gasoline tax in the nation, second only to Pennsylvania.


California is also No. 9 in the nation for jobless claims, tied with Michigan with a 4.3% unemployment rate, compared to Florida’s 2.6%.

California’s homeless crisis has also severely worsened since the pandemic, despite Newsom spending billions to combat it since taking office. The state holds more than 30% of the nation’s homeless population, and that number has risen about 6% since 2020, compared to just 0.4% in the rest of the country, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.



RFK Jr. says it’s ‘hypocritical’ to blame Canada for wildfires, ‘foolish’ to attribute problem to single cause

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said it’s “hypocritical” to blame Canada for the wildfire smoke coating parts of the East Coast and prompting air-quality concerns, arguing that the same problem is afflicting U.S. forests.

Fox News Digital reached out to Kennedy’s campaign seeking a statement from the candidate on the current air-quality levels in parts of the U.S. and whether he believes Canada should pay some kind of penalty for the smoke coming across America’s northern border.

“It would be hypocritical to blame Canada for a problem that afflicts U.S. forests as well,” Kennedy said in exclusive comments to Fox News Digital. “Besides, attributing wildfires to a single cause would be foolish. Decades of fire suppression, the loss of apex predators and keystone species, ecological disruption due to pesticides, changing climate, soil loss leading to intensified flood-drought cycles and depletion of aquifers all may contribute to the problem.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks onstage at Food & Bounty at Sunset Gower Studios on Jan. 13, 2019, in Hollywood, Calif. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)


Smoke from ongoing wildfires in Canada has traveled as far as South Carolina, casting a thick haze that caused air quality in New York City and Washington, D.C., to drop to record lows. A number of professional sports teams have even postponed games over air-quality concerns. 

Many environmental activists and liberal politicians, such as President Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have blamed climate change for the problem. 

“Between NYC in wildfire smoke and this in PR, it bears repeating how unprepared we are for the climate crisis,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “We must adapt our food systems, energy grids, infrastructure, healthcare, etc ASAP to prepare for what’s to come and catch up to what is already here.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., echoed that sentiment on social media.

British Columbia wildfire aerial view

Smoke billows upwards from a planned ignition by firefighters tackling the Donnie Creek Complex wildfire south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, on June 3.  (.C. Wildfire Service/Reuters)


“These Canadian wildfires are truly unprecedented, and climate change continues to make these disasters worse,” Schumer wrote on Twitter. “We passed the Inflation Reduction Act to fight climate change, and we must do more to speed our transition to cleaner energy and reduce carbon in the atmosphere.”

However, many Republicans counter that these fires are the product of poor forest management, arguing that forests need to be managed through actions such as logging, controlled burns and forest thinning in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.

“To be candid, if you look at these issues throughout the United States and Canada, over time, it’s possible that climate is changing,” former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told Fox News. “At the same time, you can say that forest management practices in many places have contributed greatly to having a much higher fuel load, and fuel loads are a large driver of catastrophic wildfire.”

People take pictures of the haze

People take photos of the sun as smoke from the wildfires in Canada cause hazy conditions in New York City on June 7, 2023. Smoke from Canada’s wildfires has engulfed the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., raising concerns over the harms of persistent poor air quality.  (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)


“If you don’t use methodologies to clear some of that excess product out, that just is sitting there, literally, as a tinderbox box for a match,” he added. “In this case, what we’re seeing from Canada . . . is fires that are largely caused by lightning, strikes with an element of a very, very high fuel load.”

Earlier this week, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., lambasted politicians who are “complaining” about the Canadian wildfire smoke on Capitol Hill but “won’t allow” forest management in Western states.

“I have zero empathy for D.C. politicians complaining about the smoke,” Zinke tweeted. “If you won’t allow us to responsibly manage forests, you should have to deal with the consequences just like we do in the West.” 


The congressman also posted a video of him standing in front of the Washington Monument that was masked by smoke.

“Whether you’re a climate change activist or denier, it doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility to manage our forests,” said Zinke. “And if you don’t manage our forests, this is what happens. So welcome to Montana, Washington, D.C.”

As for Kennedy, the latest national polling indicates that he’s grabbing double-digit support as he challenges President Biden in the Democratic primary.

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Trump to make first public speech since federal indictment over classified docs

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday afternoon will make his first public appearance since his federal indictment over his handling of classified documents when he addresses the state Republican conventions in Georgia and North Carolina as part of his 2024 presidential bid.

The 2024 front-runner was indicted Friday on 37 federal counts, including willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements.

The indictment accuses Trump of failing to comply with demands to return classified documents — including plans for a retaliatory attack on an unnamed foreign power — he had gathered in Mar-a-Lago. Other documents include defense and weapon capabilities of the U.S. and details of the U.S. nuclear program.


Former US President Donald Trump arrives to meet with local Republican leaders at the Machine Shed restaurant in Urbandale, Iowa, US, on Thursday, June 1, 2023.  (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods,” the indictment says.

It also accuses him of storing the documents in a bathroom and other places at the residence, and of even bragging and showing off the documents to visitors. In one instance he is said to have told individuals of a document “as president I could have declassified it,” and, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

He is also said to have directed an aide to move boxes of documents demanded by a grand jury subpoena while claiming to have fully cooperated. The FBI opened a criminal investigation into the matter in March 2022.

Trump has dismissed the indictment as “election interference” and a witch hunt.

“This is the most corrupt administration in history — there has never been an administration so corrupt, and they’re just starting to find it right now,” Trump told Fox News Digital this week. “They are trying to deflect all of their dishonesty by bringing this ridiculous boxes hoax case.”

He added: “They’re not going to get away with it.”


Trump is likely to express similar sentiments on Saturday, when he will speak before overwhelmingly supportive crowds who will largely share his belief that the charges are politically motivated.


The indictment adds additional legal turmoil to Trump’s bid for re-election, coming after he was indicted in New York in an alleged hush money scheme earlier this year. He will make his first federal court appearance on Tuesday.

Other Republicans on the campaign trail, including those who have been extremely critical of the former president, have largely declined to attack him over the indictment so far, and have shared the sentiment that the prosecution is politically motivated.


“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society. We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said as news of the indictment emerged.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Jake Gibson and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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Native American tribe plans protests, considers suing Biden admin over oil-leasing crackdown

EXCLUSIVE: The president of the Navajo Nation told Fox News Digital that he has ordered the tribe’s attorney general to weigh legal action following the Biden administration’s oil-leasing ban impacting Navajo citizens.

Buu Nygren, the president of the Navajo Nation, a federally recognized tribe in the U.S. southwest, said that the Navajo Justice Department was considering pursuing litigation after Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s recent order, and he plans to protest her upcoming visit to the reservation on Sunday. Last week, Haaland banned oil, gas and mineral leasing within 10 miles of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico for 20 years, an action strongly opposed by nearby Navajo communities.

“To totally disregard those local communities — it’s unfair,” Nygren told Fox News Digital in an interview Saturday. “There’s no need to celebrate putting people into poverty, to celebrate undermining the Navajo Nation’s sovereignty, undermining everything that comes into working with tribes, in this case, Navajo Nation.”

“I tasked the attorney general to look into all our options, because I want to be doing justice for the local community,” he continued. “As president, I’ve already told my attorney general to look into all the options. So, we’re going to be moving forward with that as well.”


Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren criticized Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for moving forward with a oil leasing ban on Navajo lands.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren criticized Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for moving forward with an oil-leasing ban on Navajo lands. (Navajo Nation | Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

Nygren and other Navajo leaders, in addition to locals, have argued that the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) action banning leasing will harm low-income Navajo citizens who depend on revenue from leasing their allotments within ten miles of Chaco Canyon mainly to fossil fuel companies

The allotments date back to the 1900s, when the federal government awarded them to Navajo citizens as a consolation when the tribe’s territory was downsized.

“Since I’ve entered the legislative body for my Navajo people, I’ve listened to a lot of constituents out in that area and, you know, it’s just emotional distress, psychologically as well, that they’ve talked about this — it really disturbs me to know how much more of a hardship that these folks are going to be experiencing out there,” Brenda Jesus, who chairs the Navajo Nation Council’s Resources & Development Committee, told Fox News Digital earlier this week.


Jesus led a delegation of Navajo tribal leaders who met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week, making their case against the DOI’s ban. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., who chairs a House panel on Indian affairs, said the action represented a “taking” of tribal lands and vowed congressional action following her meeting with the delegation.

Overall, there are currently 53 Indian allotments located in the 10-mile buffer zone around Chaco Canyon, generating $6.2 million per year in royalties for an estimated 5,462 allottees, according to Navajo Nation data. In addition, there are 418 unleased allotments in the zone that are associated with 16,615 allottees. 

According to the Western Energy Alliance, an industry group that represents oil and gas producers in the area, Navajo members will lose an estimated $194 million as a result of Haaland’s actions.

Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland

“Today marks an important step in fulfilling President Biden’s commitments to Indian Country by protecting Chaco Canyon, a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors have called this place home since time immemorial,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on June 2. (Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“You can’t pound your chest on going after people in poverty,” Nygren told Fox News Digital. “I don’t know who would want to celebrate that. Personally, I think that’s, I don’t know, you got to not have a heart if you’re going to put people that are already impoverished in third-world-country conditions and barely have enough to pay for gas, food, laundry, the daily necessities — to put them into an even tougher situation.”

“To me, I don’t know how anybody could sleep with that thought,” he said. “Come to Navajo. It’s tough. Everybody’s struggling, everybody’s trying to make a dollar, literally.”


Haaland is expected to visit Chaco Canyon on Sunday to celebrate the action. Nygren said that Navajo citizens are planning to peacefully protest the event and that he has even faced calls to block the interior secretary’s access to Navajo roads.

“You shouldn’t celebrate beating up people in poverty,” Nygren said.

New Mexico

An archeological site is photographed at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park on Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio, File)

Nygren also noted that the Biden administration failed to offer any economic proposal to account for the income losses the Chaco land withdrawal would create for Navajo allottees. 

In addition, Nygren criticized Haaland for not properly consulting the Navajo Nation and the communities near Chaco Canyon that would be most impacted by the action. The tribe previously endorsed a five-mile buffer zone to protect the site while ensuring future drilling on oil-rich allotments, but has said that Haaland never considered the compromise.


“For her to go all over the country and the world to talk about tribal sovereignty and tribal communities and this and that. But then when it comes down to it, to put tribal sovereignty into question. Actions speak louder than words, in my opinion,” he said. 

While DOI stated Friday that the action won’t impact existing leases or production on them, opponents of the ten-mile buffer zone said it would indirectly make Indian-owned allotments worthless. Because drilling on the Navajo allotments requires horizontal crossings that pass through federal land impacted by the ban, the action effectively ends all drilling in the area, they argued.

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