Appointees: Feinstein, Harris in key role

Jan 16, 2017

Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris provide a significant Democratic bulwark against the Trump administration's judicial appointments.


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "The federal appeals court in San Francisco has four vacancies, giving President-elect Donald Trump a chance to nudge one of the nation’s most liberal tribunals somewhat to the right. A half-dozen U.S. District Court seats in California are also open, thanks in part to Republican stonewalling of President Obama’s nominees. The state’s four U.S. attorney positions could soon open up to Trump as well."


"But although Trump’s choices will go before a Senate controlled by his fellow Republicans, Senate rules and practices preserve significant influence for Democrats — particularly Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who will become her party’s leader on the committee that reviews judicial nominations."


"Under long-standing policies of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Feinstein and her newly elected Democratic colleague, Kamala Harris, will have the power to veto nominees to federal trial courts and seats formerly held by Californians on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals."


California lawmakers find themselves in a vexing quandary as the ACA repeal continues to hover ominously over the state.


Capitol Weekly's CHUCK MCFADDEN: "No one in and around the Capitol knows what will happen; almost everyone is worried."


"Republicans in Washington are moving at long last to follow through on their oft-repeated vow to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  On Friday the House, along mostly partisan lines, approved the first step of the ACA repeal. The Senate earlier acted similarly."


"The prospect of repeal has triggered a mixture of speculation, tensions, caution and dread among California policymakers."


READ MORE related to Healthcare: Physician aid in dying gains acceptance in the U.S. -- The New York Times' PAULA SPAN


The former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, responsible for the leak of the 'Kompromat' dossier against Donald Trump, finds himself in a very uncomfortable spotlight


L.A. Times' KURTIS LEE: "He’s a former British spy, a man used to operating in the shadows. Now, however, he is dramatically, and uncomfortably, in the spotlight."


"Christopher Steele, whom some confidants describe as a real-life Agent 007, has been identified in news reports as the author of a controversial dossier suggesting that Russian officials had gathered compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump that could be used to blackmail him."


"The dossier’s existence was widely known among journalists and politicians in Washington since the fall, but the allegations about the incoming president’s activities in Russia and his personal life were unverified and remained unknown to the general public. But this month the 35-page file, salacious allegations and all, was published by BuzzFeed News."


READ MORE related to Beltway: Sun sets on the Clinton Global Initiative -- PJ Media's RICK MORANTrump's apparent disregard for nation's laws raises fears -- The Chronicle's BOB EGELKOOne family fought the system and stopped Donald Trump's first venture in India -- L.A. Times' SHASHANK BENGALIArrest warrant sought for head of Samsung Electronics in South Korean political scandal -- L.A. Times' MATT STILESWhen Trump tweets, Wall Street trades -- instantly -- L.A. Times' JAMES F. PELTZGerman ministers reject Trump remarks on car tariffs -- AP's KIRSTEN GRIESHABER; Bill Maher isn't high on Trump: the state of Free Speech in a new era -- The New York Times' JIM RUTENBERG; Trump threatens carmakers with 35% U.S. import tariff -- Reuter's EDWARD TAYLOR and ANDREAS RINKE 


Federal Judge and civil rights champion Thelton Henderson has announced his retirement at the age of 83.


BOB EGELKO: "Fresh out of law school at UC Berkeley, Thelton Henderson traveled south as the Justice Department’s first black Civil Rights Division lawyer, assigned to keep an eye on local law enforcement for the Kennedy administration. It was 1962, and it was hazardous duty in hostile territory."


"But there were others, he soon found out, who were putting themselves in greater peril in the fight against white supremacy in the Jim Crow South."


"I would see these kids come to Birmingham with a toothbrush and toothpaste, wrapped in a face towel, ready to go to jail and take their beatings,” Henderson, 83, recalled in an interview last week after announcing his retirement as a federal judge in San Francisco. He met Martin Luther King Jr., who “knew he wasn’t going to live to old age.”


National activism against the ACA repeal came to a head in Michigan on Sunday as a large crowd led by Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced institutional Republicans for their part in the fabricated mandate against Obamacare


AP's COREY WILLIAMS: "Thousands of people showed up in freezing temperatures on Sunday in Michigan to hear Sen. Bernie Sanders denounce Republican efforts to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, one of dozens of rallies Democrats staged across the country to highlight opposition."


"Labor unions were a strong presence at the demonstration in a parking lot at Macomb Community College in the Detroit suburb of Warren, where some people carried signs saying "Save our Health Care."


"Lisa Bible, 55, of Bancroft, Michigan, said she has an autoimmune disease and high cholesterol. She said the existing law has been an answer to her and her husband's prayers, but she worries that if it's repealed her family may get stuck with her medical bills."


A cornerstone of Sacramento history -- the Heilbron Home -- may soon become another note on a page in a textbook if a planned high-rise office tower comes to fruition.


Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS: "August Heilbron had a vision when he built a home for his family at the corner of Seventh and O streets well over a century ago. He knew that as his family grew in that home, the city around them would grow as well."


"Sacramento was a bit of a lawless town in 1881. It had been destroyed by floods and fires, then rebuilt. Heilbron made his fortune in cattle and was a founding member of the Sacramento Hussars, a cavalry militia unit formed to safeguard the city."


"The streets were eventually paved and law was enacted. The Heilbron family owned their Victorian-style home until the 1950s. Then it was a restaurant, a bank and, later, an art gallery and then a state parks office."


Famed California historian and state librarian Kevin Starr has passed away.


Sacramento Bee's JIM MILLER: "Former California State Librarian Kevin Starr, the premier historian of the Golden State saga, who chronicled its potential and pitfalls in a widely read series of books, has died. He was 76."


"Starr died at a San Francisco hospital Saturday evening following a heart attack, said Sheila Starr, his wife of 53 years."


"Starr, a professor of history at the University of Southern California, researched and wrote “America and the California Dream,” a five-volume series that is the definitive account of the California story."


READ MORE related to ObituariesKevin Starr, author of California histories and former state librarian, dies at 76 -- DAVID ZAHNISER with L.A. TimesThomas Wright, geologist who guided search for oil, dies -- The Chronicle's STEVE RUBENSTEIN


Sacramento County native Lester Holt, popular anchor for NBC Nightly News, is familiar with adversity and recognizes his diverse roots while in town filming a news special for voter's opinions on a Trump presidency.


Sacramento Bee's BRAD BRANAN: "Journalists are taught not to become part of the stories they cover – a lesson Lester Holt has learned is easier said than done since becoming anchor of the NBC “Nightly News” in 2015."


"The 57-year-old Holt, who grew up in Rancho Cordova, became a story as the first African American to solo anchor a network news broadcast when Brian Williams was suspended and replaced for exaggerating his role in covering the Iraq War. Holt returned to the headlines during last year’s presidential campaign, when he faced criticism from both sides of the aisle for his role as a debate moderator."


"During an interview Sunday afternoon, Holt said he’s learned to take such criticism in stride. “We should not be concerned with being liked,” he said. “We have to rise to the occasion."


A new semester in the UC system is marred by shoddy programming as the newly crafted CalCentral application failed to update student GPA's due to errors in the software's configuration.


The Daily Californian's CAMRYN BELL: "As grades, financial aid and other campus information pour in after the end of the fall 2016 semester, issues have come up with the new CalCentral system."


"In an update released Jan. 13 on CalCentral, users were notified that up-to-date cumulative GPAs, cumulative units and summer 2016 courses on the site would be delayed because of data migration."


"According to Mariana Corzo — communications manager for the Student Information System, or SIS — the problem is due to a software configuration setting issue, and as of Jan. 13, the SIS team has completed a fix for the cumulative GPA issue."

READ MORE related to EducationIntentional failing discouraged by CS policy change -- The Daily Californian's EDWARD BOOTH; City College of San Francisco wins full accreditation after 5-year battle -- EdSource's FERMIN LEAL; Questions from California: what education leaders would ask Betsy Devos -- if they could -- EdSource's JOHN FENSTERWALD


More than a month has passed since Oakland's tragic warehouse fire; parents of a survivor share their story.


East Bay Times' ERIN BALDASSARI: "For the past six weeks, Stockton residents Wendi and Bill Maxwell have spent the bulk of their days within the confines of the pale blue walls that make up Saint Francis Hospital’s burn unit, watching their son, Sam, fight for his life."


"Sam was the last person to leave Ghost Ship warehouse Dec. 2 in Oakland’s Fruitvale District as flames ravaged the building, killing 36 people, they said. He made it to the curb, but not before inhaling plumes of smokes that seared the inside of his lungs and burned his nose, ears and hands."


"What was supposed to be a routine, three-day stay at the hospital has turned into an agonizing six weeks as Sam has struggled through complication after complication, they said. He has fought off two bouts of pneumonia, harmful bacteria in his blood, dangerously low blood pressure levels, a cardiac episode, fevers and a swollen liver and spleen. Now, however, Sam has turned a corner, though full recovery is still a long way off."

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