Franken under fire

Nov 17, 2017

The Roundup is compiled and curated by GEOFF HOWARD, Associate Editor. 

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 Not you, too: U.S. Sen. Al Franken is now under fire for an alleged forceful kiss and a prank-gone-wrong during a comedy tour in 2006,  before the former SNL star was in public office. 


McClatchy DC's ALEX ROARTY/KATIE GLUECK: "Democrats called Al Franken’s behavior unacceptable, returned his campaign donations, and hinted that — absent a satisfying explanation in response to a sexual harassment allegation — they’d eventually demand he resign."


"Anything less would risk catastrophe for a party that stakes its political reputation on fighting for women. Especially one that is just now, 20 years after the fact, grappling with its unyielding support of Bill Clinton."


"Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment."


READ MORE related to Boy's Club: Third woman alleges misconduct by state Sen. Tony Mendoza -- Sacramento Bee's TARYN LUNA; Trump, who has avoided talk of Roy Moore allegations, weighs in on accusations against Al Franken -- LA Times' CATHLEEN DECKER


Speaking of sexual harassmwent, actor Jeffrey Tambor is now being accused.


NY Daily news: "Transparent" may be losing its lead."


"The writers on the hit Amazon show "have contemplated" moving forward for the fifth season without Jeffrey Tambor, according to Deadline."


"The 73-year-old actor has been accused of "inappropriate behavior" by former assistant Van Barnes, a transgender woman who worked for him from 2014 until this year."


READ MORE related to #MeTooPorn star Ron Jeremy accused of sexual assault, rape -- NY Daily News


Has incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa has met his match? Dems, at least, hope so: A young, accomplished woman by the name of Sara Jacobs who is a former Obama State Department official.


OC Register's MARTIN WISCKOL: "Sara Jacobs, a State Department official in the Obama administration, on Thursday entered the pool of Democratic challengers to Republican congressman Darrell Issa, whose district that extends from Dana Point to La Jolla."


"Jacobs, a 28-year-old Encinitas resident, said she’s focused on fixing an economic system in the country that’s increasing the divide between rich and poor."


"Either we’re going to see this opportunity gap get exponentially worse or we’re going to figure out how to use the power of technology to close it,” Jacobs said in an emailed statement."


Cannabis connoisseurs and growers rejoice: The state's long-awaited regulations have been announced.


The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "There will be no cannabis cappuccinos or drone deliveries in California under the new pot rules state officials released Thursday that regulate everything from who can legally sell and deliver marijuana to how it must be packaged and transported."


"The rules released by three licensing agencies — the Department of Health, Department of Food and Agriculture and the Bureau of Cannabis Control — offer the first glimpse of the future in which pot is legal throughout California."


"Big farms will continue to thrive in Mendocino and Monterey. Small delivery services will finally operate legally. Pot won’t be transported in self-driving cars or on bicycles, and it isn’t allowed in strip clubs."


READ MORE related to Cannabis: The price of cannabis is falling, suggesting a supply glut -- The Economist


Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin is now in law enforcement's crosshairs after allegedly violating local election laws.


The Chronicle's LIZZIE JOHNSON: "Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín is under investigation by a city commission for 18 possible campaign funding violations."


"The Fair Campaign Practices Commission was meeting Thursday to discuss whether Arreguín deliberately broke local election laws during his campaign last year by not reimbursing his campaign manager before a statutory deadline for $3,339.66 worth of supplies purchased on 18 occasions. He was elected in 2016."


"Arreguín did not respond to calls for comment."


Mankind's garbage has caressed the very depths of the ocean floor,  as an ominous report finds that crustaceans in the most yawning parts of the Deep Blue are now consuming illegally dumped pollutants.


"The crustaceans crawling through the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean are almost like aliens: We know little about them, they’re otherworldly-looking — almost shrimp-like — and they exist in an environment that we can hardly imagine."


"But the real aliens in these unthinkably deep corners of the ocean, like the Mariana Trench, aren’t the animals at all. Instead, the aliens here are human-made plastics like rayon and nylon."


"The oceans are filled with 300 million tons of plastic litter, all of it produced by humans. And now, scientists say they have found those foreign, human-created plastics inside the stomach of some of least understood animals on the planet — the crustaceans who live on the deepest ocean floors."


READ MORE related to Environment: Keystone pipeline leaks 210K gallons of oil in South Dakota -- AP; Do dryer sheets drive wildlife away from your yard? -- Mercury News' JOAN MORRIS


The Senate is now applying more pressure on Jared Kushner as a committee investigation has revealed Donald Trump's son-in-law failed to submit documents relating to foreign contacts.


AP: "The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee are saying President Donald Trump's son-in-law hasn't been fully forthcoming with the panel's probe into Russian election interference, asking him to provide emails sent to him involving WikiLeaks and a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite."


"Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Jared Kushner's lawyer Thursday saying the collection of documents he has provided the committee is "incomplete." The committee gave Kushner a Nov. 27 deadline to provide the additional documents, including the emails and Kushner's security clearance form that originally omitted certain contacts with Russian officials."


"The request is part of the panel's probe into the Russian election meddling and whether the Trump campaign was involved. The Judiciary committee is one of three congressional committees looking into the issue, along with the Senate and House intelligence panels. The committees have separately requested and received thousands of documents from people associated with the Trump campaign, and have interviewed dozens of individuals. Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller is also looking into the meddling."


Despite rising healthcare costs, Covered California says it saw a 23% enrollment increase.


The Chronicle's CATHERINE HO: "The number of new customers signing up for health insurance through the Covered California exchange jumped 23 percent during the first two weeks of open enrollment compared with the same period last year, state officials said Thursday."


"About 48,000 new customers signed up for subsidized health plans between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14 — up from 39,000 during the same period in 2016."


"“What’s most stunning is that the number of people enrolled so far is so much higher than those enrolled the year before,” said Nadereh Pourat, research director at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. She noted that the Trump administration has cut back on advertising, and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have created confusion."


GOP tax plan passes first hurdle, but steep climb awaits in the Senate


McClatchy DC's LESLEY CLARK/EMILY CADEI: "Now comes the hard part. House Republicans cleared a tax overhaul Thursday after a pep talk from President Donald Trump, but the course is littered with speed bumps in the Senate."


"Republican angst in the House — over the prospect of raising deficits by $1.5 trillion and delivering more benefits to corporations than people — is mirrored in the Senate, where the margin for success is razor thin and prospects for passage remain shaky. Several House members said they voted reluctantly for their chamber’s bill Thursday."


"Like the House bill, the Senate version makes corporate tax cuts in the measure permanent, but phases out individual tax cuts by 2026, creating a political predicament for many lawmakers."


READ MORE related to Death & Taxes: House passes sweeping GOP tax plan -- The Chronicle's CAROLYN LOCCHEAD; House tax plan would mean higher borrowing costs for hospitals, schools, affordable housing -- LA Times' JAMES RUFUS KOREN


A lawsuit has been filed against the San Jose Police Department on behalf of 6 men claiming they were the victims of illegal gay sex stings.


Mercury News' ROBERT SALONGA: "A notable gay-rights attorney has filed a federal lawsuit against the San Jose Police Department over undercover lewd-conduct stings targeting gay men more than a year after a judge threw out six cases and deemed the “decoy” operations unconstitutional."


"While the complaint filed last week in federal court seeks monetary damages of at least $1 million for the five of the six defendants cleared by the June 2016 ruling of Judge Jose S. Franco, attorney Bruce Nickerson is also seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, and is hoping it will help end the practice by police overall."


"Nickerson has made a name for himself over the past 30 years defending gay men caught in the decoy operations where undercover police officers solicit and suggest sex acts in public places like city parks and arrest men who reciprocate interest."


UC President Janet Napolitano has been admonished by the University regents for audit tampering.


The Chronicle's MELODY GUTIERREZ/SARAH RAVANI: "The University of California regents took disciplinary action against President Janet Napolitano on Thursday, publicly admonishing her for authorizing actions that led to her staff’s interference with a state auditor’s investigation last year."


"The regents also ordered Napolitano to apologize for approving the scheme that resulted in her chief of staff and his deputy pressuring campuses to change their responses to a confidential state auditor survey to remove negative remarks and instead have them reflect positively on the president’s office."


"The president’s decision to approve a plan to coordinate the survey responses reflected poor judgment and set in motion a course of conduct that the Board of Regents finds unacceptable,” UC Regents Chair George Kieffer said during a UC regents meeting in San Francisco with Napolitano sitting beside him."


Salmon are back! A restoration effort at Amador County's Mokelumne River is proving fruitful as the river's fish hatchery teems with the scaley pink creatures.


The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "Salmon crowded in and around the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery on Thursday, offering leaping and squiggling proof of what so far is a near-record return of the big pinkish delicacies after several years of low breeding numbers."


"Schoolchildren watched as the fall-run chinook squirmed on conveyor belts into the “egg take” building, where, with help from about a dozen hatchery workers, they engaged in the decidedly unromantic process of spawning the next generation."


"“It’s going to be one of the top three or four years that we’ve seen since 1940,” said Jose Setka, the manager of fisheries and wildlife for the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which supplies Mokelumne River water to 1.4 million East Bay customers. “We are getting more of our fish back where they belong.”"


South Sacramento's famous smoke-stacked Campbell's soup factory that shut down a few years ago has officially changed hands.


Sacramento Bee's MARK GLOVER: "The hulking industrial complex that looms over Franklin Boulevard in South Sacramento used to churn out cans of Campbell tomato soup. This holiday season the old plant is busy again – as Macy’s workers assemble, package and ship items ordered online by customers."


"Macy’s began interviewing people in October for seasonal jobs in the Sacramento distribution facility, which moved into the shuttered space in 2015, two years after Campbell pulled out. The facility started out with about 175 employees but expects to build up to 500 by the peak of the holiday season."


"For years, landing a holiday shopping season job was likely to put you behind the counter of a retail department store like Macy’s, which is celebrating its 159th year in business. Today’s seasonal job applicant is just as likely to spend November and December in a retailer’s warehouse, processing online orders and shipping them to far-flung locales."


READ MORE related to Economy: Apple opens its $108 million Visitor Center to the public -- Mercury News' SEUNG LEE


Tesla's ambitions expand to freight trucks.


The Chronicle's DE-ANN DURBIN: "After more than a decade of making cars and sport utility vehicle — and, more recently, solar panels — Tesla wants to electrify a new type of vehicle: big trucks."


"The company unveiled its electric semi tractor-trailer Thursday night near its design center in Hawthorne (Los Angeles County)."


"CEO Elon Musk said the semi is capable of traveling 500 miles on an electric charge and will cost less than a diesel semi considering fuel savings, lower maintenance and other factors. Musk said customers can put down a $5,000 deposit for the semi now and production will begin in 2019."


READ MORE related to Transportation: Elon Musk lifts the veil on Tesla's electric truck of the future -- and teases a new sports car -- LA Times' RUSS MITCHELL


Millions of Californians will soon find themselves in the DMV applying for new federally approved identification cards known as 'REAL IDs'


Sacramento Bee's NASHELLY CHAVEZ: "As the deadline to meet new federal standards for state licenses and ID cards approaches, Department of Motor Vehicles offices in Sacramento and around the state are preparing for a rush."


"The new standards mean California fliers who rely on their driver’s license to board domestic flights will no longer be able to do so beginning Oct. 1, 2020, unless they come equipped with the federally approved IDs and licenses or a different form of acceptable identification, such as a valid U.S. passport or military ID, the DMV said."


"California DMV offices will begin accepting applications for the new licenses and identification cards, called REAL IDs, on Jan. 22, said Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokeswoman."


The quaint town of Red Bluff, California, is still reeling from this week's mass murder that left six dead, and residents are turning to the internet in hopes of finding understanding and catharsis.


Sacramento Bee's ANITA CHABRIA/RYAN SABALOW: "Poor and so rural the bus only runs into town a few times a week, a rambling community southwest of Red Bluff faces a long road to recovery after a disgruntled gunman killed six and wounded at least nine people, many of them children, this week."


"The poverty rate is very high and that area has needed help before this tragedy,” said Amanda Sharp, director of Tehama County Social Services and Community Action. “This is only exacerbating the suffering people are going to experience."


"Nearly 20 percent of people in Tehama County – 12,000 of 63,000 residents – have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level, according to the latest American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income is about $41,000, compared to $64,500 statewide."


Killings of transgender people have spiked over 2016.


AP: "At least 25 transgender people in the United States have been homicide victims so far this year, the highest annual total on record, according to advocacy groups that have been monitoring the grim phenomenon and seeking ways to reduce the toll."


"The Human Rights Campaign, in a report released Friday, calculated that 102 transgender people have been killed in the U.S. over the past five years — including 25 this year. Its report, jointly sponsored by the Trans People of Color Coalition, was issued ahead of Monday's annual Transgender Day of Remembrance observations, commemorating the hundreds of transgender people killed worldwide each year."


"Another monitoring group, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs , has tallied 26 homicides of transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the U.S. so far this year."


SF homeless, activists camp out to protest tent sweeps


The Chronicle's LIZZIE JOHNSON: "It seemed like everyone had a place to be — except him."


"Darby Carroll stood on Market Street with his dog, Tall Boy. Streetlights flickered on one by one, and rain misted Market Street. Commuters huddled at bus stops. The 25-year-old unfurled a sleeping bag on the sidewalk. Home was in Jacksonville, Fla., and he had nowhere here to stay. But this time, at least, he had company."

"Dozens of homeless people and activists layered Hallidie Plaza in sleeping bags Thursday night to protest the city’s tent sweeps and find solace in one another. The holidays are often the hardest times — many have no family or friends to join for dinner. So volunteers passed out trays of sandwiches, quinoa salad and steaming cups of coffee. Later in the evening, they planned to offer haircuts, movie screenings and live music."


READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: Young and homeless in America -- EdSource's CAROLYN JONES; What $700,000 buys right now in three Orange County communities -- LA Times' JACK FLEMMING; In a Boyle Heights already wary of gentrification, rumors about a mural's fate stir concern -- LA Times' BRITTNY MEJIA/STEVE SALDIVAR; There's hope for LA County foster care boys facing cold realities. This guy is why -- Daily News' DENNIS MCCARTHY; A half-loaded gun, a well-built bunker and 1,000 hidden bikes found at Fountain Valley homeless camp -- LA Times' JORDAN GRAHAM; Green Day's Mike Dirnt sells ocean-view Newport Beach property for $3.09 million -- OC Register's MARILYN KALFUS


In international news, Mungo Man has made his way home for eternal rest.


AP: "The oldest human remains found in Australian were on Friday returned to the Outback desert that he roamed some 42,000 years ago in a ceremony celebrated by traditional owners."


"The ice age Aborigine was dubbed Mungo Man after the dry salt Lake Mungo where he was found in 1974 in remote New South Wales state 750 kilometers (470 miles) west of Sydney."


"He was studied in the national capital Canberra at the Australian National University, which handed him back to traditional owners two years ago and formally apologized for the pain caused by his removal."


READ MORE related to International: Iraqi forces retake the country's last Islamic State-held town -- AP; Mugabe makes 1st public appearance amid talks on departure -- AP; Infamous Mafia don Salvatore 'Toto' Riina died early Friday morning -- AP's COLLEEN BARRY/FRANCES D'EMILIO

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