Monday, February 26, 2024







        State-by-state standings on deaths from gunfire form a striking contrast between Republican- and Democratic-led states as one reality becomes ever more clear: The stronger Republican control of a particular state, the more deadly gunfire that state will see.


        So it's plain that onetime Californians who left for cheaper housing and more conservative politics in states from Florida and Texas to Wyoming and Missouri have increased their chances of dying from gunshots.


        That’s beyond question in the state standings published by many organizations, but never by the National Rifle Assn., whose anti-control lobbying remains as determined as ever.


        It’s still too early to assess the full consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s mid-2023 shootdown of New York’s tough concealed carry law, but before that decision, New York was the fifth least likely state for dying from a gunshot, at a mere 5 such deaths per 100,000 population.


        New York is almost as Democratic-dominated as California, which was the eighth-safest gunfire death state at just 8.5 per 100,000.


        These statistics come from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC.


        The CDC rankings may serve as a safety barometer for persons wanting to move. By far the safest state, gun-wise, is Hawaii, with just 3.4 firearm deaths per 100,000, or a total of 50 such killings in 2022. With only a brief two-year exception during which gun laws did not change, Hawaii’s governor and legislature have been Democratic for decades.


        Second-safest has been Massachusetts, another generally ultra-blue state which has had only occasional Republican governors since 1970, both of them moderates.


        Of the 10 safest states, all are consistently blue in presidential elections. Meanwhile, the 10 states with the highest gun death rates (Mississippi and Louisiana rank 1-2) all are dominated by Republicans, except No. 7 New Mexico, at 22.7 gun deaths per 100,000.


        California Gov. Gavin Newsom tried to focus on this during his fall debate with Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who made unlicensed concealed carrying of guns completely legal in his state (14.1 gun deaths per 100,000, almost double the California toll).


        Where California demands universal background checks before allowing gun purchases, Florida has none. Concealed carry can legally be done only with a license in California, while Florida has no licensing. California has among the strongest laws against domestic violence, Florida’s are among the most lenient. California has restrictions on high capacity gun magazines, Florida has none. And where California funds community interventions to prevent violence, Florida does not.


        Of DeSantis and Newsom, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, survivor of a would-be assassin’s gunshot to her head, said this: “One governor had the courage to stand up to the gun lobby… The other is Ron DeSantis.”


        Said Newsom, “Strong gun laws save lives. I want (people) to expect to see some significantly increased activity on this issue this year.”


        But no one is quite certain how far Newsom or anyone else can get in making America safer from gun violence so long as there’s no change in the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. Bruen (the state police superintendent).


        Lower courts here and in a few other places have ruled that the case does not apply in California and several other locales whose concealed carry laws are worded differently from New York’s.


        But all it would take is a few words from the high court’s 6-3 conservative majority to shoot all that down.


        This could leave the entire country in a position much like what prevails in Texas, where Republicans have passed more than 100 pro-gun laws since 2000. That state has virtually unfettered unlicensed concealed carry except on college campuses, which can make their own rules. There’s also no concealed carry in Texas elementary and high schools, but those very limited rules may also fall soon to the reasoning of the Bruen case.


        It’s a pessimistic situation that calls for concerted pressure on Congress to pass federal laws and dare the Supreme Court to shoot them down. But so far, Newsom is the only major politician ready to push for anything that big.       


    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit







Strong signs abound that this year will mark the end of the over-publicized “California exodus,” which saw this state lose about 340,000 persons in 2021 and 2022, a bit less than 1 percent of its population.


The dates alone give some idea of why this population reduction occurred: They coincide with the nadir of the coronavirus pandemic, when thousands more Californians than usual died and hundreds of thousands of workers were given license to operate from home, wherever they chose to make it.


Some of those factors are now reversing. The virus is now at bay, stymied by a combination of vaccines, boosters and natural forces. No virus wants to kill off all its hosts, thus preventing expansion. So COVID-19 has evolved into something less serious than it was, with a lower percentage of cases than before carrying potential dire outcomes.


Death rates have dropped precipitously, with many hospitals converting their former Covid wards into other functions and treatments like Pfizer’s Paxlovid knocking symptoms back quickly.


        At the same time, many employers are asking workers to return at least part-time to offices, so distance between home and office is again a factor in choosing where to live.


        All this shows up in new Census figures. Yes, California had the lowest in-migration rate in the nation in 2022, with out-of-staters kept away mostly by sky-high property prices.


        Only about 11 percent of those moving to California spots during that last year of severe pandemic came from other states. This meant the vast majority of residential moves were within California. That did not end the out-migration trend, but slowed it considerably, while making the Inland Empire region of Riverside and San Bernardino counties and the Sacramento into the fastest growing regions in the state, even as population decreased a bit in coastal areas around San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The big metro areas, of course, are where home prices remain highest while the growth regions see far lower real estate and rental prices.


        The actual figures show that about 4 million persons moved in 2022, when the current trends began, with a pretty normal 9 percent of Californians changing their residences.


        California’s in-migration rate was among the nation’s lowest in part because home prices remain high in its coastal areas, where most newcomers prefer to live. But the in-state migration numbers indicate that once they’ve been here awhile and start to yearn for home ownership, folks are quite likely to move inland, even if the weather is often  hotter than near the ocean.


        By comparison, Texas had an even lower migration rate than California over the last year on record, with just 11.7 percent of its moves going out of state (California saw 44,279 persons move in from Texas, the highest from any out-of-state location, beating out New York state by about 13,000.)


        All this also means that the factors behind California’s many decades of steady growth remain in effect: Scenic coastlines, gentle and blizzard-free climates that allow outdoor activity year-‘round, accessible mountain activities from hiking to skiing, industries like entertainment and electronics and many work openings in agriculture are keeping any massive population drain from lasting long.


        So the usual reporting of trends seems to have occurred: They tend to go unnoticed until they’re almost over and beginning to reverse.


        That’s happening right now with office workers. While some of those leaving in 2021-22 went to cheaper, more rural locations like Idaho and Montana, that’s ending as some employers want to see more of their workers in office. Some who moved to distant points now face the dilemma of how to move back into California if they want to keep high-paying tech jobs.


        But new tech workers can find plenty of luxury accommodations close to office areas because of the boom in apartment building spurred by pro-density state laws, combined with a plethora of vacancies in those same areas.


        Plus, inflation-boosted pay and a likely easing of interest rates promise soon to make California more affordable.


        All of which means that in the long run, the so-called California exodus will likely turn out to be very short-lived, with 2024 promising to be the year it began to peter out.






    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Friday, February 16, 2024








        Urban sprawl has been anathema to California housing planners for the last 10 years or so. As they passed law after law eliminating zoning for single-family residences and emphasizing high rise buildings and other infill housing near mass transit, the old California pattern of building outward became passe.


        But maybe not anymore.


        Two prospective massive new developments emerged from obscurity into the realm of distinct possibility over the last few months.


        One would be in mostly rural portions of Solano County, an often-overlooked county covering much of the ground between Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay area and stretching south toward Stockton. The other would extend Fresno to the southeast.


        Together, the two proposed developments (neither as yet has won even a single government agency’s approval) could account for as many as 85,000 new housing units, mostly single family. That would provide a sizeable chunk of the 1.8 million new dwelling units in one estimate of current housing need from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.


        But some words of caution are advised here: Tejon Ranch. Housing advocates rejoiced in 2021, when the big land company with huge amounts of vacant property atop the Grapevine area between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, got an OK from Kern County. But less than two years later, a Los Angeles County judge sent the project back to the drawing board, and its approval process may now drag on for many years.


        Still, in this era when every new law seems to seek a knockdown for existing housing and commercial buildings in exchange for large new apartment buildings with stores, gyms and other commerce on the lowest floors, there’s may be broad appeal to brand new homes on what has been agricultural land.


        In Solano County, a group of Silicon Valley billionaires including Lorraine Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Corp. co-founder Steve Jobs, and other venture capitalists, quietly bought up more than 55,000 acres (78 square miles) of pastureland wind farms and other low-density development. They appear willing to pay whatever penalties are needed for taking the land out of agricultural use, where the state’s Williamson Act has long given much of it preferred tax status in exchange for remaining rural.


        This projected new city, which would have more than 10,000 acres of parks, could eventually become the largest town in Solano County, where Fairfield is the county seat and other significant locales include Rio Vista, Vacaville, Dixon and Suisun City.


        To change the use of so much land would require first a vote of the entire county and then a slew of other permits from state and regional agencies. So this is years away, but promises lots of affordable housing, plus European-style homes for wealthier buyers. And plenty of profit for the billionaire investors.


        Then there’s the Southeast Development Area on the edge of Fresno, a mostly-rural area of about 9,000 acres whose prospective developers promise a series of “walkable” neighborhoods in what would be one of Fresno’s most sprawling suburbs. Plans tentatively call for each neighborhood to have its own elementary school, community garden, shops and parks. Plenty of public transit is also proposed.


        This one also would need public votes and myriad government permits before going forward.


        In both places, local opposition has already formed. Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown, a former schoolteacher, told one reporter that “We’re growing food and helping people (now). Why would you stop economic growth like that? Why would they spend $800 million and not be transparent about it?”


        Brown referred to the five years of secrecy investors maintained while becoming Solano County’s largest landowners. Their spokesman responded that secrecy was needed to prevent speculative land price increases.


        At the same time, school officials and others worry about “gaping holes” in infrastructure if the southeast area plan goes forward.


        But prospective developers of both areas say they will take care of all those concerns.


        So it will initially be up to local voters to decide: Do they want new, but traditionally California-style developments near them, or do they want to leave things alone and thus have the state continue stressing urban infill? Or could these possible new suburbs be harbingers of other new developments in California deserts and the Central Valley?




    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit








        The more time goes by since the 2014 passage of California’s Proposition 47, the more it’s clear that voters blundered in approving the initiative’s setting an absolute $950 floor value for a theft or burglary to be considered a felony.


        This ballot measure deprived judges of the right to decide whether a crime involving less than $950 value in merchandise or other goods might also be felonious.


        One result has been a cadre of repeat offenders who time and again take goods worth less than $950 and then are quickly released by police even when they are caught, because many cops and courts disdain spending time on “minor" cases.


        That’s one thing which led to repeat assaults on stores by so-called “smash-and-grab” robbers who carefully design their crimes to involve $949 or less in store value – per person involved.


        These crimes sometimes see long caravans of late-model cars and pickups descend suddenly on stores and malls and depart with the loot almost as quickly.


        It does not now matter how often a person is caught among those thieves; each offense is completely separate, unlike many other crimes where repeat offenders often get stronger sentences than first-timers.


        That’s why the currently circulating initiative now seems certain to get a vote in November. Known as the “Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act,” it aims to make possession of fentanyl a felony and allow judges to treat repeat misdemeanor thefts as more serious crimes.


        That ballot will also include a measure making it far more difficult to pass local tax initiatives, among others.


        The move to toughen Prop. 47 leaves most of the original initiative intact. It does not change the felony threshold level for most thefts, which is far lower than the bottom limit or felonies in many other states.


        When it passed, few foresaw it could spawn a new form of robbery and burglary in California, the smash-and-grab. This gets its name from the manner in which store windows and glass counters are smashed, with items locked inside transparent displays often quickly grabbed, bagged and then quickly sold on the Internet.


        The phenomenon has become common enough to convince mayors of many significant cities they need to band together and promote the proposed new initiative, which passed the 25 percent mark for needed voter signatures on Jan. 24.


        Prop. 47 made most forms of drug possession a misdemeanor, as it did with many thefts. It passed with support from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was then lieutenant governor, Los Angeles District Atty. George Gascon, Santa Clara County D.A. Jeff Rosen, several police chiefs who didn’t want to waste their cops’ time on “minor” crimes, plus the American Civil Liberties Union, Roman Catholic bishops and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.


        The new effort to toughen it up – even if that increases the state’s prison populace a bit – now includes San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan.


        Said Breed, “the challenges…related to fentanyl and organized retail theft require real changes to our state laws.” She added that she seeks to keep what works well in Prop. 47 and only change what does not.


        Once this measure qualifies for the ballot – and it has until late June to do that – it will probably prove the most popular item this fall.


        For as early as 2018, the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California noted that Prop. 47 appears linked to some theft increases. That’s important in an era when violent crimes like rape and murder are down, but car burglaries and other forms of property theft are way up.


        Newsom has resisted calls from district attorneys, mayors and police chiefs to modify Prop. 47, as have many voters, as reflected in the 2020 rejection of a previous initiative to alter Prop. 47. But that was before the start of smash-and-grabs and before the gap between violent crimes on persons and property crimes became wide.


        The new realities make it clear some change is needed, but sponsors of the current effort have been careful not to completely gut Prop. 47. That combination makes it more likely the new effort will succeed where the past effort did not, in part because it took an indiscriminate wrecking ball to Prop. 47.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, February 12, 2024







        If anything seemed like a lock, a sure thing for passage during last year’s state legislative session, it was recall reform. The need for changes in the way voters can rid themselves of officials they no longer want was one key takeaway from the abortive 2021 attempt to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom.


        Not that the recall attempt hurt Newsom. It gave him both a chance to campaign for an extra few months and the added status of having crushed a movement to oust him. Traditionally, both have strengthened candidates who survive such attacks.


        But recall reform went nowhere last year, and its fate this year is essentially unknown. Both last spring and right now, the recall reform efforts have been spearheaded by another recall survivor, Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton.


        Newman was recalled in 2018, but then won his seat back two years later. He suggested a straight-up yes-or-no vote for recalls, with a special election to follow when the yes side wins.


        This would differ somewhat from many local recall rules, as when voters in San Francisco in 2022 nixed then-District Attorney Chesa Boudin, with his successor named by the city/county mayor, London Breed. That system is unique because San Francisco is the state’s only locale where city and county lines are nearly identical.


        His last recall reform effort having failed, Newman is back with a new plan, focusing especially on gubernatorial recalls, of which California has seen two in the last quarter century – Newsom was not recalled, but in 2003, then-Gov. Gray Davis was emphatically removed, with muscleman actor Arnold Schwarzenegger taking his place after coming in first in a field of 135 replacement candidates.


        In both the Davis and Newsom recalls, voters faced two questions: First, did they want the incumbent removed, and second, who should replace him, with no limit on the number of replacement candidates.


        Almost two decades later, the no side easily won and the votes for potential replacements became largely irrelevant. Meanwhile, leading replacement candidate Larry Elder drew 3.5 million votes, or 28 percent of the 12.8 million cast. But more than 5 million recall election voters did not bother voting for a replacement candidate.

        Seeing all this, Newman proposed a plan last year to have ousted governors who have served less than two years replaced by the lieutenant governor until a special election can be held. Only one question – the recall itself – would face voters in future elections.      

It was somewhat surprising that this planned state constitutional amendment got nowhere in the Legislature, as it would have made lawmakers a bit more difficult to recall than they are now.

It’s anyone’s guess what will befall Newman’s newest measure, which quickly passed the state Senate in a 31-7 vote. It awaits action in the Assembly, where Newman’s previous effort was killed.

Like his previous effort, the new measure – a proposed

state constitutional amendment that, if passed, would appear as a proposition on the November ballot – would set up a system considerably more democratic than today’s.


        Under today’s system, if Newsom had lost on the first question, the yes-or-no vote on dumping him, Elder would have replaced him even if Elder got far less votes than the no’s recorded on question one, which were essentially votes to keep Newsom.


        Newman claims his new plan, which allows the lieutenant governor to take over if a governor is removed, is far more democratic. He also claims it would keep recalls personal, preventing them from being diverted into “political opportunism and gamesmanship.”


        Of course, it would also take some of the fun out of recalls, which have featured candidates from former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to Republican Kevin Kiley, an former state assemblyman who used his recall candidacy to propel him into a congressional seat. There were also gadfly entertainer Angelyne and Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Hewitt.


        Removing lists of potential replacements from recall ballots would make them far less entertaining and engaging, but also more democratic and serious-minded. So, for sure, if Newman’s latest proposal makes the fall ballot, future recall elections would be a lot less flashy than the last few have been, but also far sounder.     

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It"







A look at what homeless individuals suffered during the record-level intense rains of early February demonstrated for a second consecutive year the utter inadequacy of programs to help California’s approximately 180,000 unhoused.


It also exposed the crying need for original thinking, going beyond today’s paltry shelters, most of them open only parts of the day.


At countless charity facilities that distribute clothing to the very needy, lines formed during and between downpours as thousands around the state sought shoes, plastic ponchos, blankets, water-resistant jackets and whatever else might offer a little relief from the seemingly relentless cold and damp that lasted almost a week.


It was a carbon copy of what happened in January 2023, when harsh rains that began the wettest winter in decades demonstrated starkly the inadequacy of this state’s many programs to help the homeless. Yes, there were some shelter beds available, but many required clients to leave before 8 a.m. and did not allow many back in until after 6 p.m.


During that interval, in both years, thousands endured soakings seemingly without end as temperatures in most areas did not rise above the mid-50s.


What were officials doing during this mass drenching, while newspapers and TV showed pictures of mudslides and other problems of the housed?


In California’s largest county, Los Angeles, for one, the five-woman Board of Supervisors voted to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to let local governments criminalize occupants of homeless encampments that have become commonplace under freeway overpasses and along sidewalks.


Many local officials want the court to alter a 2020 ruling in an Idaho case called Martin v. Boise that held it is cruel and unusual punishment to make camping on public property a crime when the people involved have nowhere else they can legally sleep.


“The interpretations of (that case) have tied the hands of cities and counties in imposing common-sense time and place restrictions on some key public spaces to keep people safe and move those who want assistance into shelter,” said one Los Angeles supervisor. “We have no interest or intention to criminalize homelessness. We need clarification about what tools we have to address this crisis and keep people safe.”

        So the Los Angeles board voted to support a new appeal of a case from Oregon called Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, which restricts local government’s ability to clear homeless encampments.


Sure there are problems with encampments. No one can deny some criminals hide out in them. No one can deny that some encampments deny the public use of parks their tax dollars built and maintain. No one likes encampments near schools.


But what execrable timing it was for officials to act against encampments just when many unhoused were being swamped while others lined up to beg for something, anything, to help them dry out and warm up.


Instead of sounding off against the homeless (while still saying they should not criminalized), public officials might have done better if they’d sent police cars and buses to collect some unfortunates forced to sleep in cardboard boxes on hard sidewalks while drenched.


The rains demonstrated just how serious this problem remains, despite California having thrown tens of billions of dollars at it. For sure, the state has more homeless today than when Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature spent more than $10 billion to help reduce the problem in the 2022-23 budget.


Plus, civic efforts to create ever more affordable housing don’t help the homeless, when supposedly “affordable” units often rent for $1,800 per month or more, even without parking spaces. How many of the unhoused can pay that much each month?


Here's one idea that could help, a tactic that could and should have begun when last winter’s rains first showed how desperate the need is: Use part of the huge government allocations to buy or lease some of the hundreds of millions of square feet that remain vacant today in office buildings, even where some companies now require white collar workers to report to offices at least part-time.


Without permanently converting those spaces to residences, they could at least offer dry indoor spaces where people could sleep.


But why would officials think creatively when they can instead order up legal briefs seeking more power to harass the homeless?




    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, February 5, 2024







If Donald Trump, as seems likely after the first few Republican primary elections and caucuses, wins a third consecutive GOP nomination for president and then goes on to a November victory, he will likely consider it a mandate for his announced plans. That’s virtually certain, whether or not he loses the national popular vote by millions, as happened twice before.


        Those plans include revenge on any- and everyone he believes has wronged him in the past, sending military units to police cities run by elected Democrats and “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical-left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country…”


        So far, he has not named any names. But his declaration that “I am your retribution” looks like a statement that he will act on the resentments of (mostly white) Americans who feel wronged by the advancement or prosperity of some Blacks, Latinos and immigrants.


        Trump has also questioned American military aid to Ukraine in its two-year battle against Russian invaders, but neither opposed nor supported similar aid to Israel as it fought the Hamas terrorists who killed and kidnapped more than 1,400 Israelis on Oct. 7.


        This did not surprise anyone who watched Trump as president repeatedly kowtow to Russian President Vladimir Putin and express admiration for other strongmen like North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.


        While still president in early 2021, Trump openly floated the idea of unilaterally imposing martial law on the entire nation to keep himself in office despite losing the 2000 election. He did not actually do it then. Might he attempt this tactic if elected now, when his second and (constitutionally) last term in the White House expires? If so, it would be the most serious test ever for military commanders sworn to obey only legal orders.



        Never before has any presidential candidate laid out such a specific plan for his term. Never before has a major party nominee made revenge a major campaign theme.


        With mail ballots for California’s March 5 primary election either already in the hands of millions of voters, or about to arrive in their mailboxes, the fate of Trump’s plans just might be decided by the 26 percent of California voters registered as Republicans.


        Trump’s party allies here set up rules that would give him all California’s Republican National Convention delegates if he gets even one vote more than 50 percent in the primary tally here. By itself, that delegation would make up about 15 percent of what it would take to nominate Trump for a third time.


        But what if California’s GOP voters (Republican primaries are the only publicly staged and financed elections in this state not open to all voters, but only to party members) gave him less than 50 percent?


        Because California’s vote comes relatively early in the primary season this year, there would be time for remaining  rival Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, to capitalize on later-voting states like New York, Pennsylvania and many more. This could throw the GOP convention into chaos and repeated ballots.


        But it won’t happen unless California Republicans change their views on Trump, who has long enjoyed huge polling leads here among his party mates. As the vote neared, there were no signs this was happening on a large scale.


        If that does not change with ballots in the hands of voters, the California primary will likely end any serious GOP campaigning during the spring.


        For with the full California delegation in hand, along with delegates already won in other states and even a minor share of delegates to be elected down the line, Trump effectively would have clinched the nomination.


        It would mark the first time in two generations that a major party nomination went to someone who refused to participate in intra-party debates. It would also be the first time any American party nominated a person openly bent on using the presidency to exact revenge on opponents and explicitly committed to weaponizing the Justice Department against perceived personal enemies.


        And if, as polls suggest they will, California Republicans vote for Trump despite or because of those commitments, what will that say about their views on things like democracy, equal justice and peaceful transfers of power?



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit








        It was easy this month to understand why the University of California’s long-planned adoption of a high school ethnic studies course requirement for admission is stalled and may never materialize.


        That’s partly because of what’s happened with the state’s separate but not yet official mandate that public school districts teach a one-semester ethnic studies curriculum as a requirement for graduation. Where they exist, many such classes have become hotbeds of anti-Israel lies and half-truths that border on outright promotion of Jew hatred.


        This has occurred in some districts that jumped the gun on ethnic studies, hiring members of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA) to write programs before they’ve become a requirement. Some of those hired were among authors of two versions of the state ethnic studies curriculum that were both rejected by state education officials as anti-white, anti-Western and anti-Semitic, with rewrites ordered both times.


        So far, there are no precise statewide standards for what must be taught, letting districts and classroom teachers design their own programs. But CESA, to which many UC and California State University ethnic studies faculty members belong, specifies classes should “analyze, confront and intellectually dismantle… institutionalized forms of racism, apartheid, settler colonialism and empire in and beyond the United States.”


        So when CESA members write curricula, classroom emphasis is often not on building pride and self-esteem in all children, as envisioned by legislators who enabled an ethnic studies course, but instead stresses resentments, divisions and fault-finding.


        That’s no surprise considering that some UC and Cal State academic departments use state-funded equipment and official websites to promote hatred of ethnic groups they despise and, more than any other country, the state of Israel. Within the last month, 405 non-ethnic studies faculty at UC signed a letter calling on their system’s Board of Regents to stop professors from using state-funded resources for promoting personal points of view.


        They pointed to the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz as an egregious example of using its website and classrooms to promote anti-Israel activity that all UC campus chancellors have unanimously condemned as “a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of students and faculty.” And they noted that state-supported anti-Israel activity has stepped up since the Oct. 7 Hamas kidnap/massacre of more than 1,500 Israelis. That included encouraging students to participate in a “Shut it down for Palestine” protest rally. All this runs counter to system-wide UC policies proscribing use of public funds and facilities to push private views.


        The faculty letter noted similarly illegal misuse of websites and facilities at UC Merced and UC San Diego, among others.


        But any distortions there have been mild compared to some of the high school classroom materials now in use. This academic malpractice is nowhere more egregious than at Woodside High School and Menlo Atherton High School, both components of the Redwood City-based Sequoia Union High School District.


        As first reported in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, materials there say “Israel controls the water and electricity of Gaza.” In fact, Israel prior to Oct. 7 controlled less than 20 percent of those utilities in Gaza. There are many more anti-Israel half-truths, as when the Arabic word “Nakba,” or catastrophe, is defined as describing “when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled…in the 1948 war that followed the formation of the state of Israel.” The materials don’t mention that war began when five Arab armies (from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria) invaded Israel the moment it declared independence under terms of a United Nations resolution.


    Via radio broadcasts, they asked Arab residents to leave so they could operate more freely. The materials do not mention that Israel at the time told Palestinian Arabs to stay put, warning that if they left, they would not be allowed to return. Nor do the materials mention that simultaneously, more than 800,000 longtime Jewish residents were forcibly expropriated and expelled by Arab countries from north Africa to Iraq and Syria, and then immediately taken in by Israel as full citizens.


        All this comprises a solid argument for delaying any statewide ethnic studies requirement until firm guidelines demanding factuality and prevention of falsehoods and propaganda are put in place.



    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit