Possible conflict worries Schiff, Sherman

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) have been raising alarms about potential new hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan where violence erupted for years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on March 1, Sherman asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take a strong stance against the increasing threats of Azeri violence against ethnic Armenians in the region.

“The defense minister of Azerbaijan stated recently that his country is seriously preparing for war,” Sherman said at the hearing. “I hope you could outline for the record the serious repercussions that Azerbaijan would face if it renewed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

Clinton, who was fielding questions on topics ranging from the Korea Free Trade Agreement to the flaring unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, said she would submit an answer in writing to Sherman’s inquiry.

In an interview, Sherman said the saber-rattling in Karabakh has grown over the last two years or so, a source of increasing concern for groups such as the Armenian National Committee of America.

Of the hearing, Sherman said, “Most important was to use this as an opportunity to push the State Department into making it plain and public that Azeri aggression to resume the conflict would be regarded negatively by the United States.”

Sherman is still awaiting the formal reply from Clinton, but said, “I’m confident we will get a good response.”

In a speech on the House floor, Schiff was one of several members of Congress to commemorate brutal incidents in Azerbaijan in 1988 and 1990, where Armenians in the cities of Sumgait and Baku were beaten and killed.

Schiff is the sponsor of legislation to have the United States formally recognize the Armenian Genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1921.

“Just as we cannot allow the first genocide of the 20th Century to fade into history, the memory of the victims of Sumgait must not be forgotten either,” he said.


The Bob Hope Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration have agreed that meeting a 2015 deadline for increasing the distance between the tower and runways at the airport is “not practicable.”

On Wednesday, Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority officials announced that they and the FAA are again seeing eye-to-eye on runways that are closer to the terminal than federal law allows.

In 2010, FAA inspectors made a preliminary finding that the airport must do more in the near future to increase the distance between the runways and the terminal should distressed planes deviate from their intended paths.

The FAA has set a 2015 deadline to make 90% of all commercial runways in the country compliant with updated safety regulations. Currently, only 72% of all runways meet the standards.

The preliminary finding about Bob Hope’s runways raised an issue nearly as old as the airport itself.

Airport officials acknowledged the current configuration does not meet federal standards, but said the airport has operated safely and that in 2002, the FAA administrator determined operations could continue while the airport and the city worked out long-term plans for a possible reconfiguration.

On Wednesday, the airport said the FAA now agrees it is “not practicable to provide the standard runway safety areas by the end of 2015,” according to a statement from Dan Feger, the airport’s executive director.


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is seeking new legislation expanding the use of DNA databases in criminal cases.

On Wednesday, Schiff and co-sponsor Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) introduced “Katie’s Law,” which would provide funds for states to take DNA samples at the same time they take fingerprints of people arrested for sex crimes and acts of violence.

The law is named for Katie Sepich, a young woman raped and murdered in New Mexico in 2003 by a man who evaded arrest for three years. If New Mexico had operated a DNA database at the time, the man would have been linked to the murder only three months later when he was arrested for a different incident, Schiff contended.

California already has a law requiring those arrested for sex crimes and acts of violence to give DNA samples. But Schiff said in a statement that 24 states still do not have viable databases to help solve violent crimes.

“The legislation will help keep our communities safe by solving cold cases, and will give some closure to the families of victims nationwide,” Schiff said in a statement.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate.


Washington D.C. political magazine National Journal recently unveiled its lists of the most liberal and conservative members of Congress, based on floor votes on foreign policy, social and economic legislation.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) is the 87th most liberal member of the 435-member House of Representatives, according to the magazine. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is 117th.

A nine-way tie for most liberal House members included two Southern California lawmakers, Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove).

Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) is the 90th most conservative member of the House. No Californians were among the top 10 conservatives.

In the Senate, Sen. Barbara Boxer is ranked 34th most liberal and Dianne Feinstein 40th. Among the senators tied for most liberal were Harry Reid of Nevada and Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Among the most conservative were John McCain of Arizona and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

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