This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

July 24

Rep. George Miller helped introduce a resolution Thursday calling for better protection for the migrant workers in Qatar who are building that tiny Middle Eastern emirate's facilities for the 2022 World Cup.

Miller, D-Martinez, who co-chairs the Congressional Soccer Caucus ...

Wait, what?

Yes, there is a Congressional Soccer Caucus. It has three other co-chairs plus 23 members.

"The mission of the Congressional Soccer Caucus is to encourage legislation, activities and events that promote soccer and issues affecting the greater soccer community, toward encouraging healthy and active lifestyles among America's youth," according to the U.S. Soccer Foundation's website. The foundation "serves as the public advocacy arm for the game and provides information and support for the Caucus."

Who knew? I did not. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming ...


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Lawmakers contend Qatar's migrant workforce faces horrible conditions, including 12-to-16-hour working days in triple-digit heat, indentured servitude by unscrupulous labor contractors, and squalid, overcrowded labor camps. More than 500,000 additional immigrant workers, primarily from Nepal, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, are expected to arrive in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Recent reports warn that as many as 4,000 migrant construction workers could die from the unsafe living and working conditions by the time the tournament kicks off.

"After America's exciting showing in the 2014 World Cup and as soccer fans around the world look forward to future world cups, we must ensure that the workers who make these events possible have safe working conditions," Miller said in a news release. "The current conditions Qatar's migrant workforce face are simply unacceptable. The Qatari government, FIFA, the United Nations, and the International Labour Organization have all recognized that conditions need to improve but have taken no meaningful action. We've introduced this resolution in hopes of ending the abuse of migrant labor in Qatar."

Among the resolution's 17 co-sponsors (all Democrats) is fellow Soccer Caucus member Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, who attended the University of Maryland initially on -- you guessed it -- a soccer scholarship.

July 25

California's anti-drought slogan is "Brown is the new green," even as Gov. Jerry Brown's environmental bona fides are at issue during his re-election campaign.

Coincidence? Absolutely ... but let's exploit it anyway!

The slogan aims to make property owners feel better about letting their lawns shrivel. A state water agency last week approved unprecedented penalties for those who waste water, and Brown signed a bill into law Monday prohibiting homeowners associations from fining residents who don't water their lawns.

Already the signs are proliferating. An Antioch golf course adopted the slogan a few weeks ago, and the Santa Clara Valley Water District on Friday announced a $500,000 summer ad campaign using the slogan. District spokesman Marty Grimes said the district is merely following in the state's footsteps and it's strictly nonpolitical: "I think the message is pretty clear that it has nothing to do with the governor."

But could it hurt the governor for his name to be deemed "the new green" as he seeks re-election against Republican challenger Neel Kashkari? Actually, there are more than a few environmentalists -- especially opponents of fracking -- who would say Jerry Brown is certainly not "the new green."

Dan Newman, a consultant to Brown's re-election campaign, said Friday this slogan is a zero-sum equation with an earlier, unofficial drought slogan. "Isn't that canceled out by the classic 'If it's brown, flush it down -- if it's yellow, let it mellow'"?

Likewise, Kashkari spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner's response to the slogan Friday was, "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

Great minds think alike, no matter what side of the aisle.