Pleasant Hill CA In-N-Out Fined Over COVID Vaccine Rules

A second In-N-Out restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area faces a fight with health officials over COVID-19 vaccine rules.

The chain’s Pleasant Hill restaurant has been fined twice, for $250 and $500, for not checking the vaccination status of indoor diners, as required, Contra Costa County health officials told KPIX. The county imposed the second fine Tuesday.

In-N-Out earlier blasted San Francisco officials for ordering the chain’s only restaurant there to briefly close over the same rules, McClatchy News reported.

“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” Arnie Wensinger, the chain’s chief legal and business officer, said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Click here to read the full article from the Sacramento Bee

L.A. City Council Bans Homeless Encampments at 54 Spots

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a ban on camping at certain locations, in the first use of new laws that passed over the summer.

In a 12-2 vote, the council outlawed sitting, sleeping and lying at 54 locations in three of its districts. Amid contentious debate over the summer, the council enacted new rules regulating sitting, sleeping and storing property near fire hydrants, building entrances, driveways, libraries, parks, elementary schools and several other locations.

The council also asked that resources for outreach to homeless people in these locations be expanded and for city departments to draft new procedures to ensure people sleeping on the sidewalk aren’t forced to move without proper notice. Though the new procedures have been drafted, the city has yet to hire the staff to provide more outreach to accompany the new rules.

That worried several council members, who said their colleagues were rushing the process and should wait until there were more resources to help people. …

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

Opinion: John Eastman Isn’t Going Away Quietly

Dan Morain, former editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee, is the author of “Kamala’s Way: An American Life.”

John Eastman isn’t going away quietly.

Today, Eastman is notorious as the author of a legal memo asserting that Vice President Mike Pence could delay election results from seven states, potentially creating a pathway for President Donald Trump to “win” the 2020 election. But when I first met him, in 2010, he didn’t seem like a budding seditionist. Back then, the former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was running an uphill campaign to become California’s attorney general and came across as just your average eccentric law professor.

It was a mistake to write off Eastman then. And tempting as it is to dismiss him as a threat neutralized with Trump’s removal from office, it would be an even bigger error to write him off now.

Because Eastman, 61, has plans. Ever since Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, “Peril,” surfaced his election memorandum, his legal reasoning has been widely criticized. But it isn’t stopping him from using the law to advance his agenda. Along with his former Chapman University law-school colleague Anthony Caso, Eastman has founded a new firm in Orange County called the Constitutional Counsel Group. (Eastman and the Chapman University law school, where he was once dean, parted ways after Jan. 6.) …

Click here to read the full article from the Washington Post.

Parents Protest California COVID Vaccine Mandate for Kids

More than a thousand people crowded the front steps of the California Capitol on Monday to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to require all children to get the coronavirus vaccine to attend public and private schools.

Newsom’s mandate, announced earlier this month, made California the first state in the country to say it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for schoolchildren once the vaccines receive full federal approval.

California has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country — over 85% of people 12 and older have gotten at least one shot, and 72% are fully vaccinated. But as in other places, the state has a vocal minority skeptical of both the vaccine and the government’s assurances of its safety.

Many parents at the rally in Sacramento had pulled their children out of school to attend the rally, hoping the absences send a message to state officials. …

Click here to read the full article from US News.

Supply Chain Woes Strand Sailors Off SoCal Coast

Abrorizki Geraldy Aulia, the son of a ship’s captain, is part of the new generation that moves more than 80% of the world’s raw materials, parts and merchandise on commercial cargo fleets. At 24, he has already traveled farther by ship than most people ever will.

It’s heady stuff. Strange then, that he should feel so absolutely powerless.

Maritime union protections say Aulia should sail no more than 11 months a year on a contract with an employer-paid flight home at the end, but the Indonesian native has worked 15 straight months without a break. In June 2020, he boarded a cargo ship months before any country started vaccinating against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aulia is a valuable piece of the engine that powers world commerce, but he is never allowed to leave his ship. Like hundreds of other sailors marooned in the massive floating traffic jam off the Southern California coast, he had long been unable to get vaccinated and so is restricted to ship.

Some 300,000 of these migrant merchant sailors have been stranded on vessels at sea or in ports around the world, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation, a London-based trade union that is among the maritime agencies lobbying governments to address what’s been labeled the “crew-change crisis.” …

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

Asylum Seekers To Again Wait In Mexico

In compliance with a court order, the Biden administration said it plans to reinstate a Trump-era border policy next month that makes asylum seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court.

Reinstatement of the “Remain in Mexico” policy hinges on the approval of the Mexican government, which has raised concerns that U.S. officials are working to address, the Justice Department said in a court filing late Thursday. Mexico wants to see most cases concluded within six months and to ensure that asylum seekers have timely and accurate information about hearing dates and times and better access to legal counsel.

Mexico also wants exemptions for “particularly vulnerable populations” and better coordination on locations and times of day that asylum seekers are returned to Mexico.

About 70,000 asylum seekers have been subject to the policy, known officially as Migrant Protection Protocols, which former President Trump introduced in January 2019 and Biden suspended on his first day in office. A federal judge sided with the states of Texas and Missouri and ordered the Biden administration in August to reinstate the policy “in good faith.” The court filing says it should be in effect around mid-November. …

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

All California Public High School Students Will Soon Have to Take Ethnic Studies

The hundreds of new laws that Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed over the past several weeks include plenty of “firsts.”

California has become the first state to force the garment industry to pay workers by the hour, instead of per item. The first to ban the sale of gas-powered lawn mowers. The first to target Amazon production quotas. The first to outlaw removing a condom without permission during sex.

Of these landmark bills, perhaps the most controversial is one requiring all public high school students to take an ethnic studies course to graduate.

Under the new law, high schoolers will be taught about the struggles and contributions of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other ethnic groups, “which have often been untold in U.S. history courses,” according to the state’s model ethnic studies curriculum. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Times.

L.A. Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and Ex-USC Dean Indicted on Bribery Charges

Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted Wednesday on federal charges that he took bribes from a USC dean in exchange for directing millions of dollars in public funding to the university when he was on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Ridley-Thomas is accused of conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, who at the time was dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son Sebastian into the graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship.

Ridley-Thomas, 66, one of the most powerful figures in Los Angeles politics, is the third L.A. City Council member to face federal corruption charges over the last two years. In a 20-count indictment, he and Flynn face charges of conspiracy, bribery and mail and wire fraud. …

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

Alisal Fire Threatens Homes; 101 Freeway Still Closed

A fast-moving wildfire northwest of Santa Barbara threatened scores of homes as well as a shuttered oil refinery late Tuesday as flames covered more than 13,000 acres and continued to force closure of the 101 Freeway.

Dubbed the Alisal fire, the blaze has displaced thousands of residents and is threatening roughly 100 homes and ranches, fire officials said.

Firefighters were also monitoring the fire’s proximity to the ExxonMobile facility in Las Flores Canyon. The processing facility, part of what was officially known as ExxonMobile’s Santa Ynez Unit, halted operations following the 2015 Refugio oil spill. The following year, the petroleum giant trucked away all remaining oil stored in the unit and placed it into a “preserved state,” according to the company’s website.

Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the California Conservation Corps hiked up a Santa Barbara County hillside and braced for structure defense. Firefighter Alex Soto said the crew’s main goal was to clear vegetation and make room for firefighting vehicles to pass through, in an effort to defend some nearby ranches. …

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

California’s ‘Surf City USA’ Beach Reopens After Oil Spill

Surfers and swimmers returned to the waves Monday at a popular Southern California beach that was shut for more than a week after an undersea pipeline leaked crude oil into the ocean.

The reopening of Huntington Beach — dubbed “Surf City USA” — came far sooner than many expected after a putrid smell blanketed the coast and blobs of crude began washing ashore.

City and state park officials decided to reopen the shoreline in Huntington Beach after water quality tests revealed no detectable levels of oil-associated toxins in the ocean. That was good enough for Andrew Boyack, a 54-year-old commercial photographer, who usually surfs the waves in his hometown three or four times a week but has stayed out since the spill.

“There’s lots of guys out, so I figure it’s probably alright, and I guess they tested it,” Boyack said, while rinsing off at an outdoor beach shower. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.