Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker Make Fundraising Stops in California

Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, both running for the up-for-grabs Democratic presidential nomination, made campaign stops in Los Angeles Wednesday.

Warren spoke about the corruption in government and rebuilding the middle class, while Booker, at a separate event, spoke on gun violence and social activism.

The Republican National Committee released the following response to the candidates’ appearance in California:

“While the socialist policies of Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren may play well with the coastal elite of Los Angeles, hardworking Californians know that they would only serve to harm the Golden State. Between government-run healthcare, promises of ‘free’ college, and flip-flops on criminal justice reform, Warren and Booker’s policies would cripple the middle class.”

For a little background:

Earthquake Early-Warning Sensors Being Expanded in California

An infusion of federal funding will help expand or strengthen the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake early-warning system around Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, Mammoth and Bishop.

The University of Nevada, Reno, which runs the seismic network in eastern California, will use $1 million from the USGS to upgrade obsolete seismic sensors in Death Valley and the Mammoth and Bishop areas. The funding also will boost seismic networks in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas, where communications systems can be damaged in severe winters, said Graham Kent, director of the university’s Nevada Seismological Laboratory.

Eastern California and Nevada carry significant seismic risk. The Death Valley fault system, which stretches east of Bishop down to the southern reaches of Death Valley National Park, is capable of generating a quake of roughly magnitude 7.8, Kent said. The Las Vegas area would suffer damage if such a powerful quake occurred and the fault ruptured toward the southeast and toward the city, Kent said. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Tuition-free college program for working Bay Area adults

East Palo Alto Mayor Lisa Gauthier always wanted to finish her bachelor’s degree, but as a single mother of three, finding the time and money to go back to school seemed impossible.

Then she found a surprising way to do it — for free.

On Thursday, Gauthier, 54, crossed the graduation stage and received her degree in business administration at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. The mayor was one of 18 students in the first graduating class of a philanthropic program called Working Scholars, which gives employed Bay Area adults the chance to complete liberal arts or business degrees online at no cost. Their degrees were granted through Thomas Edison State University, an accredited public school in New Jersey.

Study.com, a Mountain View online education company, typically charges about $10,000 for a degree. But in 2017, its chief executive, Adrian Ridner, said he created Working Scholars to give back to the community and address income inequality where his company is based. Local companies — including tech giants Facebook, Google and LinkedIn — foot the bill for Bay Area residents accepted into the Working Scholars program. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

The end of Cabernet in Napa Valley?

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make America’s favorite wine, and they are the lifeblood of Napa Valley, our country’s most famous wine region. Cabernet accounts for 65% of the grapevines grown in Napa, where last year the crop reached a record $1 billion in gross value.

But Cabernet, like all of California agriculture, is under threat. As Napa’s wine industry continues to confront rising temperatures, increasingly frequent wildfires, intermittent drought and erratic weather, a small but growing contingent of vintners is becoming more vocal about the need to address climate change head-on.

Frustrated by the lack of industry-wide action, some are taking matters into their own hands by planting experimental vineyards — and, in some cases, acknowledging that the future of Napa Valley may not lie solely with Cabernet.

“I hear some wineries saying, ‘We’re going to have to start thinking about different grape varieties in 30 years,’” says Dan Petroski, winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards in Calistoga. His incredulous response: “You’re going to start thinking about it in 30 years?” …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

New Lawsuit Challenges California’s Assault Weapons Ban

A gun-rights group sued Thursday to block California from enforcing its assault weapons ban, contending it violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The lawsuit was the latest among gun advocacy and lobbying groups to challenge California’s firearms laws, which are among the strictest in the country, and comes after a recent series of deadly mass shootings nationwide involving military-style rifles.

The lawsuit was filed in the same San Diego federal court district where a judge in April tossed out a nearly two-decade-old California ban on sales and purchases of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

The new lawsuit says that decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez undercuts California’s ban on certain weapons defined as “assault weapons” because they can use large-capacity magazines. Benitez’s decision triggered a weeklong buying frenzy before he stopped sales while the state appeals his ruling. …

Click here to read the full article from CBS News

PG&E is accused of trying to dodge wildfire responsibilities

PG&E was accused on Monday of attempting to dodge potential liabilities in a lethal Wine Country inferno, at a time when fire victims must wrestle with two separate deadlines to file claims related to a series of deadly blazes.

The utility — a convicted felon for federal crimes it committed before and after a fatal gas explosion in San Bruno — is under fire because of the company’s attempts to convince a U.S. bankruptcy judge to predict how a jury would determine PG&E’s liability for a catastrophic Wine Country conflagration in 2017 known as the Tubbs Fire.

“What is going on here is PG&E is once again attempting to avoid responsibility for its fires and its actions,” said Robert Julian, an attorney with the Baker Hostetler law firm, which is representing fire victims with potential claims before the bankruptcy court. PG&E filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January to attempt to reorganize its shattered finances. …

Click here to read the full article from the Mercury News

California counties sue over public benefit immigration rule

San Francisco and Santa Clara counties filed the first lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rules to deny green cards to migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, came after the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement Monday of its expanded “public charge” rules to restrict legal immigration.

In a filing, the counties of Santa Clara and San Francisco argued that the rules will worsen the health and well-being of their residents, increase public health risks and financially harm the counties.

The rules, the counties argued, would result in a “chilling effect” in which migrants forgo or disenroll from federal public assistance programs to reduce the risk of being denied a green card. This practice would mean that the cost of services would shift from federal to state governments, the counties argued. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

California’s Background Check Law Had No Impact on Gun Deaths, Johns Hopkins Study Finds

A new academic study has found that, once again, gun laws are not having their desired effect.

A joint study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that California’s much-touted mandated background checks had no impact on gun deaths, and researchers are puzzled as to why.

In 1991, California simultaneously imposed comprehensive background checks for firearm sales and prohibited gun sales (and gun possession) to people convicted of misdemeanor violent crimes. The legislation mandated that all gun sales, including private transactions, would have to go through a California-licensed Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. Shotguns and rifles, like handguns, became subject to a 15-day waiting period to make certain all gun purchasers had undergone a thorough background check. …

Click here to read the full article from fee.org

Kamala Flip Flops On Health Care Roll-Out

What’s Kamala Harris’ stance on health care? It’s hard to tell. The Republican National Committee recently pointed out her hypocrisy on the issue:

The Facts:

Kamala Harris spoke yesterday at a health care roundtable after weeks of flip-flopping back and forth (and then back and forth again) on the issue.

Harris was the first Democrat to co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders’ government takeover of heath care that would eliminate private insurance, and then confirmed her intent to eliminate private insurance during a CNN town hall.

Months later Harris walked back her pledge to eliminate private insurance saying, “that’s not what I meant.”

Then, at the first Democrat debate, she raised her hand to say she would eliminate private insurance, but (again) walked it back following the debate and has continued to waffle on the issue for weeks.

HARRIS THEN RELEASED HER OWN BILL THAT WOULD ELIMINATE EMPLOYER-BASED HEALTH CARE FOR MORE THAN 150 MILLION AMERICANS

Harris then released her version of government-run health care, which was short on details and heavy on tax hikes.

Harris’ plan would eliminate the way most Americans get their health care, through their employer.

More than 150 million Americans rely on employer-based health care.

HARRIS’ PLAN DREW CRITICISM FROM ALL SIDES AS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF HER REFUSAL TO TAKE A “FIRM POSITION” ON HEATH CARE

The response to Harris’ plan was lukewarm at best, one expert critical of the plan noted its “several major shortcomings.”

Real Clear Politics: “Few rushed to align themselves with the Harris proposal.”

The plan even drew fire from her fellow Democrats, a Sanders campaign official called it “bad policy and bad politics.”

California’s recycling bills propose dramatic new rules

As bills that take aim at plastic waste make their way through California’s legislature, the damage they intend to fix already is rippling through the state’s recycling economy.

On Monday, rePlanet, a major collector of beverage bottles and cans, shut its 284 collection centers in California, citing lower subsidies from the state as well as challenges facing recyclers and municipalities across California: higher operating costs and dwindling returns from post-consumer recyclables.

It was a vivid example of challenges threatening the ability of Californians to recycle and helps explain the progress a trio of bills is making through the legislature. All aim to change the economics of recycling by legislating a tough financial incentive for manufacturers.

Two of the bills, authored by Democrats Lorena Gonzalez in the Assembly and Ben Allen in the Senate, are identical and would require manufacturers to reduce waste from packaging and certain plastic products. The other, by Assemblyman Phil Ting, calls on manufacturers to increase the minimum recycled content in plastic beverage bottles over the next decade. …

Click here to read the full article from CalMatters.org