Tag Archives: California

Not from The Onion: California is cracking down on cow farts

cow-fart3

Via Yahoo: California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

cow-fart

“If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science advisor for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report.

Since the passage of its landmark global warming law in 2006, California has been reducing carbon emissions from cars, trucks, homes and factories, while boosting production of renewable energy.

cow-fart2

In the nation’s largest milk-producing state, the new law requires dairies and other livestock operations to reduce methane emissions 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. State officials are developing the regulations, which take effect in 2024.

“We expect that this package … and everything we’re doing on climate, does show an effective model forward for others,” McCarthy said.

But dairy farmers say the new regulations will drive up costs when they’re already struggling with five years of drought, low milk prices and rising labor costs. They’re also concerned about a newly signed law that will boost overtime pay for farmworkers.

“It just makes it more challenging. We’re continuing to lose dairies. Dairies are moving out of state to places where these costs don’t exist,” said Paul Sousa, director of environmental services for Western United Dairymen.

The dairy industry could be forced to move production to states and countries with fewer regulations, leading to higher emissions globally, Sousa said.

“We think it’s very foolish for the state of California to be taking this position,” said Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager for the Milk Producers Council. “A single state like California is not going to make a meaningful impact on the climate.”

Regulators are looking for ways to reduce so-called enteric emissions — methane from the bodily functions of cows. That could eventually require changes to what cattle eat.

udderly-ridiculous

But the biggest target is dairy manure, which accounts for about a quarter of the state’s methane emissions. State regulators want more farmers to reduce emissions with methane digesters, which capture methane from manure in large storage tanks and convert the gas into electricity.

The state has set aside $50 million to help dairies set up digesters, but farmers say that’s not nearly enough to equip the state’s roughly 1,500 dairies.

New Hope Dairy, which has 1,500 cows in Sacramento County, installed a $4 million methane digester in 2013, thanks to state grants and a partnership with the local utility, which operates the system to generate renewable power for the grid.

But co-owner Arlin Van Groningen, a third-generation farmer, says he couldn’t afford one if he had to buy and run it himself. “The bottom line is it’s going to negatively impact the economics of the California dairy industry,” Van Groningen said of the new law. “In the dairy business, the margins are so slim that something like this will force us out of state.”

State officials say they’re committed to making sure the new regulations work for farmers and the environment. “There’s a real opportunity here to get very significant emissions reductions at fairly low cost, and actually in a way that can bring economic benefits to farmers,” Ryan said.

government solve all problems

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Hundreds walk out of Stanford classes, demand ‘sanctuary campus’

illegal

From SF Gate: More than 500 Stanford University students, faculty and staff members walked out of classrooms and ducked out of jobs Tuesday in a protest of the policies of Donald Trump, the latest in a wave of Bay Area and national demonstrations against the president-elect.

Some of the Stanford dissidents, though, came with a concrete demand for the university’s administrators: investigating the possibility of the Peninsula campus serving as a sanctuary against the sort of millions of deportations Trump has said he’ll seek as president.

stanford-u-protest

Hundreds of people — students, faculty, staff and other supporters — had as of Tuesday evening signed an open letter addressed to President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost John Etchemendy urging the two leaders to “immediately develop a protocol for making itself a sanctuary campus.”

They join a growing number of schools calling for sanctuary status, all citing a 2011 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement memo that curtails the ability of federal immigration officials to conduct raids without permission in “sensitive locations,” such as schools.

Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, have formally adopted policies for local law enforcement limiting their cooperation with federal immigration authorities when it comes to deporting individuals just for being undocumented illegal. The legal standing of schools to do the same is unclear, and there doesn’t appear to be a precedent.

Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for the university, declined to take a position, saying the school does “not know and cannot speculate about what laws or policies may be adopted in the future, or what the impact at Stanford might be.”

Emphasizing Stanford’s support for the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented students to attend the school and apply for citizenship if passed by Congress, Lapin added that “this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to free expression, diversity and inclusion.”

California passed its own version of the Dream Act in July 2011, granting undocumented students access to private scholarships to attend state schools.

Those involved in the walkout — which Lapin said had the university’s full support — left classrooms just before noon Tuesday, gathering at White Plaza for a series of speeches before marching through campus, chanting.

In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” Sunday, Trump said he would deport or arrest two million to three million undocumented immigrants illegal aliens, though adding that he would prioritize those with criminal records.

Lina Khoeur, a junior who walked out of class Tuesday, said an assortment of student groups, including her own Stanford Asian American Activism Committee, the Black Student Union, Stanford Students for Queer Liberation and other groups pitched in to organize the walkout.

It was less about decrying Trump and more about coming together as a community to plot a path forward for students who fear deportation, she said.  “In a lot of ways, this is a response directly to the election, but it’s not necessarily rooted in reactionary work,” said Khoeur, who is majoring in human biology. “A lot of the messages that were said today were around support and love and resilience and strength and continuing to move forward regardless of what happens.”

Regardless of whether a sanctuary campus would be legally binding, Khoeur said, “there’s a demand for Stanford to publicly announce that they are going to be in support of this community and publicly denounce hateful speech and actions around the world.”

Stanford administrators have as of late seen an uptick of reports of “people from a variety of backgrounds and across the political spectrum feeling targeted or silenced on our campus,” Lapin said.

maga

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Ex-California state senator gets prison for taking bribes

Yep, he’s a demorat.

Demorat Ron Calderon

Demorat Ron Calderon

From Fox News: Former California state Sen. Ron Calderon was sentenced Friday to 3½ years in prison in a corruption scandal in which he acknowledged taking bribes in exchange for his influence in Sacramento.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder imposed the sentence in Los Angeles after listening to Calderon emotionally ask to remain under house arrest or “at least get me home to my family sooner.”

Federal prosecutors had asked for a 5-year prison term in a blistering brief that mocked Calderon for making false and misleading claims about bribes he accepted and distorting his previous admissions in court.

“Defendant asks this court to endorse his view that an elected official who repeatedly and egregiously abuses the trust of the electorate warrants essentially the lowest possible sanction for a federal conviction,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins wrote. “Defendant’s requested sentence would permit (Calderon) to continue to trivialize his corrupt actions, as he does throughout his sentencing position, and continue to evade true accountability.”

Calderon was ordered to report to prison Jan. 3.

The sentencing brought an end to an ugly chapter in California politics that saw three state Democratic senators indicted in 2014. It also tarnishes what was a Calderon political dynasty in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Calderon, 59, pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud in June and admitted to soliciting more than $155,000 in payments or financial benefits in exchange for supporting or blocking legislation.

He took $12,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas from an undercover FBI agent who posed as the owner of a Los Angeles movie studio seeking his support for film tax credits, though the legislation never passed, according to his signed plea agreement. The agent hired Calderon’s daughter for a $3,000 a month no-show job and paid $5,000 toward his son’s college tuition.

Calderon also acknowledged helping a hospital owner maintain a massive health care fraud scheme in exchange for hiring his son for $10,000 over three summers for no more than 15 days of work a season filing papers.

Demorat Thomas Calderon

Demorat Thomas Calderon

The defendant’s brother, ex-Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, was also caught up in the FBI investigation. Thomas Calderon, 62, a political consultant, pleaded guilty to laundering some of the bribes and was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison. Half of that term was to be served at home.

The two Montebello Democrats had followed their older brother, Charles Calderon, to Sacramento, where he served in both chambers of the Legislature before they were elected. After the indictments came down against his brothers, Charles Calderon lost a race for a seat on the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench. His son, Ian Calderon, is a Democrat in the state Assembly.

The legal troubles for the two younger Calderon brothers in 2014 came at an embarrassing time for Senate Democrats. Fellow Sens. Leland Yee and Rod Wright were facing unrelated felony charges.

All three were suspended, though they continued to be paid under rules later reversed by voters to give state lawmakers the ability to suspend colleagues’ pay and voting power if accused of wrongdoing in office.

leland yee

Yee, of San Francisco, was sentenced to five years in federal prison in an organized crime case centered in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Wright was convicted of lying about living outside his Los Angeles district and sentenced to three months in jail.

Jaime Regalado, a political science professor at California State University, Los Angeles, said the convictions of the Calderons were symbolically important, but he didn’t think they would have a big impact on future corruption.

“The public would like to think the convictions and sentences of Tom and Ron would help clean up Sacramento and the body politic, as well as strike fear in the hearts of legislators who are willing to engage in illegal gambits with the public’s money,” Regalado said. “But the reality is we’ve seen this time and again. … There’s a lot of greed that continues to go around, so this will be a drop in the pan.

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California State government’s largest union is edging closer to a strike

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker speaks at a rally for democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Sacramento City College on June 5, 2016. (Photo by Mack Ervin III)

From Sacramento Bee: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has called for a strike vote of the union’s 95,000 members beginning next week, according to a statement on the union website.

The union is trying to get a bigger raise than the 2.96 percent pay hike Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is offering. Brown’s proposal would raise SEIU salaries by 12 percent over four years, but also require its members to begin paying a contribution toward their retiree health care costs.  “We still believe the state can do better,” Walker wrote in a message to SEIU members.

SEIU represents workers in nine different bargaining units. Its contracts for nurses, administrative employees and information technology workers are among the 14 state labor agreements that expired this summer.

SEIU's best buddy...

SEIU’s best buddy…

Walker wrote to union members that SEIU has been in negotiations with the state for the past six months. In July, union leadership voted to authorize a strike vote. The next step toward a strike would be a vote by union members. A vote to strike would not necessarily lead to workers walking off the job.

Before workers strike, the union likely would have to declare an impasse in negotiations and participate in mediation with the state. That process could take months. But surveying members on their willingness to strike could strengthen SEIU’s position at the bargaining table.

Last year, the California State University sweetened a contract offer for the union that represents its faculty after professors voted to strike. As a result, professors received a 10.5 percent pay raise over three years rather than 2 percent raises the state university had been offering.

The Brown administration has been offering raises of about 3 percent a year to most unions. The state’s correctional officers accepted that agreement. Other unions representing attorneys, engineers and scientists are getting bigger raises this year.

All of the new contracts call on state workers to begin to making contributions toward retiree health care. So far, most employees with new contracts are paying about 1.3 percent of their salaries toward retiree health care, with the portion rising to greater than 3 percent over time.

Walker has led the union since 2008. Her union and several others without contracts argue that they sacrificed during the recession to help the Schwarzenegger and Brown administrations resolve budget gaps.

With a better economy, they contend, the state should reward its workforce. “Now that the state’s coffers have significantly improved, we strongly feel that state employees deserve a robust improvement from pre-recession cuts. But the situation has turned bleak and sluggish in contract negotiations,” four union leaders wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. Those unions include two AFSCME bargaining units, a group that represents operating engineers and one more that represents psychiatric technicians.

SEIU conducted a series of surveys recently that showed its members are worried about the rising costs of housing and child care. The union says 39 percent of its members could not afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment in their communities.

CalHR spokesman Joe DeAnda said the Brown administration looks “forward to continued negotiations with SEIU, and hopes to secure an agreement that both reflects the contributions of our hard-working state employees and maintains the integrity of the state’s current budget stability.”

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California petitions to become first state to offer ObamaCare to illegal immigrants

Shocker, not.

obamacare

From Fox News: California’s health care exchange is requesting that it be allowed a waiver from ObamaCare regulations in order to allow illegal immigrants to buy insurance on the exchange – which would make California the first state to extend ObamaCare to illegal immigrants.

Peter Lee, Director of Covered California

Peter Lee, Director of Covered California

In a Sept. 30 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee said that the Affordable Care Act has been “tremendously successful” in the state and has cut the rate of uninsured in half.

“While millions of Californians have benefitted from coverage purchased through the Covered California marketplace, certain individuals are prohibited from buying insurance through our state marketplace due to their immigration status,” Lee wrote, before requesting the waiver.

The Affordable Care Act technically bars illegal immigrants from insurance exchanges, but in June Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that allowed the state to apply for a federal waiver to open Covered California to illegal immigrants living in California. The bill’s sponsor said such a waiver would allow 390,000 illegal immigrants to receive health insurance.

However, even if the Obama administration green-lights the waiver, the insurance plans that would be offered – California Qualified Health Plans – would not be subsidized.

yeah right

The Department for Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com.

Critics have objected to the plan, saying it is the latest sign the federal government misrepresented the purpose of the law.

“This is the first step in another misrepresentation of the Affordable Care Act,” Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform told US News & World Report in June. “It was sold to the American people on the fact that you wouldn’t have to subsidize health care for illegal immigrants.”

The issue of whether ObamaCare would be available to illegal immigrants was highly contentious in the debate building up to the law’s passage in 2010. In an address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, the president said ObamaCare would not apply to illegal immigrants, to which Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. shouted “You lie!” Obama immediately responded, “That’s not true. That’s not true.”

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No election fraud charges against Ami Bera, says U.S. Justice Dept.

I’m sure Ami had no idea what his father was doing. Riiiiight.

Demorat Ami Bera

Demorat Ami Bera

From Sacramento Bee: The U.S. Justice Department announced Friday that it has closed the books on its investigation of contributions to the campaign committee of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.

The only result of the investigation was the prosecution of Bera’s father, Babulal Bera, who pleaded guilty to election fraud and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. He was also fined $100,000 and ordered to serve three years under the supervision of federal probation authorities upon his release from prison.

“No other charges will be sought in this matter,” the Justice Department’s announcement said. “The United States will not comment further on this matter.”

Babulal Bera

Babulal Bera

Rep. Bera issued the following prepared statement after the department’s announcement:

 “After conducting an exhaustive investigation, this case was closed after the U.S. attorney stated that my campaign and I had been fully cooperative and that neither I nor my staff were targets of this investigation.

“In this matter, I have never believed it to be appropriate for me to comment on how authorities handle their job, and I trust the decisions they made in the pursuit of this case.

“My father made a grave mistake, but moving forward I’m focused on helping my parents get through the next year.”

Bera faces a stiff challenge in the Nov. 8 election from Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for his 7th District seat.

Jones’ campaign spokesman Dave Gilliard said in an email, “Congressman Bera was not exonerated or cleared. The statement simply says there will no more charges in the case.”

“That Bera’s elderly father masterminded a very sophisticated quarter of a million dollar political money laundering scheme is beyond rational belief,” Gilliard added.

The FBI, a branch of the Justice Department, investigated contributions made from 2009 through 2012 to Ami Bera’s campaign committee. The agents established that Babulal Bera, 83, of La Palma in Orange County, made unlawfully excessive contributions to his son’s committee and made contributions in the names of other people, also a violation of federal election law.

He solicited legal maximum contributions from people, allowed them to be recorded on the records of the committee and reported to the Federal Election Commission as contributors, and then reimbursed them.

At a May news conference after the matter became public, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said there were approximately 90 such straw donors who were contributors of record but were reimbursed a total of more than $260,000 by Babulal Bera. He said the straw donors included Bera family members, friends and acquaintances.

Yet, he said, there is no evidence Ami Bera or any members of his congressional and campaign staffs knew of Babulal Bera’s criminal activity.

Talbert acknowledged at the news conference that the straw donors, some of whom were interviewed by the FBI, were culpable due to their participation in the scheme. Their identities have not been made public, and none of them will be charged.

The Justice Department does not typically announce conclusions of its investigations. “It’s unusual for the government to announce its investigations to be over,” said William Portanova, a former federal and state prosecutor now in private practice. “It takes away from the deterrent value. The government wins when people are worried they may be involved in an investigation. Everyone’s behavior improves.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Planned Parenthood-backed bill faces ACLU, media backlash in California

The truth shall not be exposed...

The truth shall not be exposed…

From Fox News: California lawmakers have OK’d a Planned Parenthood-backed bill that creates new penalties for distributing secret recordings of discussions with health providers – but civil rights and media advocates say the measure goes too far. 

The bill, which passed Friday and now goes to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, targets activists such as the Center for Medical Progress — which last year released secretly recorded videos purportedly showing activists discussing the purchase of aborted fetal body parts with Planned Parenthood representatives.

Truth hurts...

Truth hurts…

The videos, while criticized for selective editing, sparked significant outrage among Republicans who called for the organization to be defunded.

Recording and distributing a “confidential communication” without consent already is a crime under California law. However, the new bill adds an additional layer of penalties — including additional fines and up to a year in prison — specifically for recording a conversation with a health care provider.

Planned Parenthood supported the bill and said that in light of the videos, it had seen a nine-fold increase in violence against its facilities. “With the Internet and the tremendous wildfire nature in which news can be spread now through social media, we need to have a crime against distribution by those in particular who did the illegal recording,” Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, told the Los Angeles Times.

The bill passed on a party-line vote. However, some voices often allied with Democrats were unhappy with the bill.

“We know of no legitimate governmental reason for singling-out disclosure of all health care provider communications for special criminal sanctions, making the bill vulnerable not only on First Amendment grounds but also on equal protection grounds,” the American Civil Liberties Union argued in opposition to the bill in June.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the measure initially stalled in the state Senate due to opposition from media advocates that it could prevent lawyers and journalists from doing their jobs. However, it passed after language was added that restricted who could be prosecuted under the law — which proponents said would prevent it being used against news organizations reporting on such videos.

“It is narrowly tailored to address the growing threat to health care providers,” Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson told the Bee. (Jackson has been honored by the Planned Parenthood Action FUND for her courageous efforts to support reproductive rights.)

hannah-beth-jackson

It did not appear, though, that those changes specifically addressed the ACLU’s complaints. The ACLU did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FoxNews.com on Tuesday.

Even after the amendments, The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board on Aug. 31 called the move to give health care providers special protection “mystifying” and accused the lawmakers behind the bill of pandering to special interests.

“But make no mistake, this measure would heap more criminal and civil penalties on making a secret recording — an act that’s already prohibited by state law, even when done in the public interest — simply to satisfy an interest group popular among Sacramento Democrats,” the board said.

The editorial board warned that the bill could disincentivize potential whistle-blowers from recording abuses such as a patient who sees a doctor handing out opioid prescriptions too liberally. “The potential for unanticipated and unwelcome consequences is huge,” the board said.

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