Judge halts California law forcing Trump to release tax returns
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "President Donald Trump won’t have to release his tax returns for California voters to see his name on their ballots next year, at least not yet."
"A federal judge on Thursday temporarily suspended a new California law that was intended to force Trump to release five years of tax returns ahead of the state’s March 3, 2020 primary."
"Trump’s lawyers argued in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento that the law was unconstitutional because the federal government has jurisdiction over eligibility requirements for candidates running for president."
Your PG&E bill is about to go up. Here's why and how much California customers will pay
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "PG&E Corp. bills are going up next month, mainly to cover the utility’s costs from major wildfires and storms in recent years."
"However, PG&E said Thursday the rate hike won’t pay for any of the billions of dollars in liabilities generated by the disastrous wildfires of 2017 and 2018. Those liabilities drove PG&E into bankruptcy in January."
"PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty said electric customers’ bills will climb an average $3.07 a month. Natural gas bills will rise $1.73. The California Public Utilities Commission approved the higher electric charges in May and the gas bills last week, but both increases will take effect Oct. 1."
Democratic donor Ed Buck paid at least 10 men to use drugs for his own pleasure, prosecutors say
LA Times's JAMES QUEALLY/RICHARD WINTON: "In political circles, Ed Buck was best known as a wealthy donor who championed animal rights and LGBTQ causes, dumping more than half a million dollars into the coffers of Democratic candidates running for school boards, Senate seats and spots on the West Hollywood City Council."
"In West Hollywood’s Plummer Park, less than a mile from Buck’s home, homeless men in desperate circumstances had a much simpler frame of reference for the 65-year-old."
"They called him “Dr. Kevorkian."
California's car rebate bill could be an end run around Trump relaxed emission rules
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "As the Trump administration revoked California’s right to set strict auto emissions rules, a state lawmaker from San Francisco joined the fray Thursday with legislation that could entice car companies to keep producing clean vehicles."
"Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting introduced a bill that would require automakers to meet California’s highest-in-the-nation mileage standards if they want their cars to be eligible for state rebates."
"California provides roughly $240 million in rebates to people who buy electric and hybrid vehicles each year — $2,500 per car — and the windfall of checks helps shape which autos are purchased from which companies."
Kamala Harris to hit campaign trail hard amid falling poll numbers
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "Sen. Kamala Harris is reorienting her presidential campaign strategy to spend far more time in early primary states amid slipping polling numbers for the California Democrat, political aides said Thursday."
"Campaign officials insisted the shift was part of a long-planned effort to reach Democrats “when voters are tuning in,” and follows months of focus on fundraising to be able to invest in early states. Harris’ goal, communications director Lily Adams said, is a top-three finish in the Iowa caucuses in February, the first voting in next year’s nomination process."
"But the pledge comes as Harris has noticeably ebbed in national polls, recently registering in the single digits and slipping further behind the three leading candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren."
Darrell Issa's nomination for trade post hits a snag over his FBI backg round file
LA Times's SARAH D WIRE: "Darrell Issa’s nomination to serve as a Trump administration trade official hit a roadblock Thursday amid concern over something in the former California congressman’s FBI background file."
"Early in a confirmation hearing by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, the GOP chairman announced that a vote on Issa’s nomination to lead Trump’s U.S. Trade and Development Agency would be delayed until the White House agreed to make available Issa’s FBI background file to the full committee. It was unclear what in the file was raising concerns among members."
"There’s information in his FBI background investigation that concerns me greatly, and that I believe members may find problematic, and potentially disqualifying for Senate confirmation,” said ranking Democrat Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who has held up Issa’s nomination for a year."
Trump says feds will punish SF over filth, needles and pollution. City leaders fight back
LA Times's BENJAMIN ORESKES/COLLEEN SHALBY: "President Trump ratcheted up his attacks on California over its homeless crisis, threatening San Francisco with some type of violation notice for what he described as environmental pollution."
"He said “tremendous pollution” was flowing into the ocean because of waste in storm sewers, specifically citing used needles. It was unclear what Trump was referring to, and there was not clarification about what rules San Francisco supposedly violated."
"It’s a terrible situation — that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Trump said, according to a pool report from Air Force One. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco — they’re in total violation — we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon."
California approves controversial tropical forest offsets plan
The Chronicle's MALLORY MOENCH: "As tropical rainforests around the world burn, the California Air Resources Board voted 7-4 Thursday evening to approve a controversial carbon-offsetting standard that would let companies buy carbon credits to stop deforestation."
"The proposed Tropical Forest Standard would not immediately allow companies participating in California’s cap-and-trade program to combat climate change to buy the offsets — that would require further regulatory action."
"Rather, it would provide standards for emerging voluntary carbon markets to inform offset programs, create international payment systems for programs that demonstrate reductions, and help companies source more sustainably, the air board said."
Border Patrol agents, rather than asylum officers, interviewing families for 'credible fear'
LA Times's MOLLY O'TOOLE: "Border Patrol agents, rather than highly trained asylum officers, are beginning to screen migrant families for “credible fear” to determine whether applicants qualify for U.S. protection, the Los Angeles Times has learned."
"The first Border Patrol agents arrived last week to start training at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, the nation’s largest immigrant family detention center, according to lawyers working there and several employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services."
"The move expands the Trump administration’s push for Border Patrol agents to take over the interviews that mark the first step in the lengthy asylum process. Border Patrol agents began training to conduct asylum interviews in late April, but agents have now deployed to family detention facilities for the first time."
Bay Area school districts won't excuse students for climate rally, angering some parents, teachers
The Chronicle's ANNA BAUMAN: "Jemima Kiss is looking forward to taking her two sons — one 7, the other 10 — out of school Friday to attend the Global Climate Strike march in San Francisco."
"They’ll miss a day of reading, writing and math, but they’ll get schooled in politics and civics, she said."
"Being an active, engaged citizen is an incredibly important thing to be teaching our kids,” said Kiss, whose kids attend Wagner Ranch Elementary School in Orinda."
Sacramento's beloved tree canopy is in grave danger. Here's what you can do to help save it
Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS: "Trees are a part of Sacramento’s identity. But our tree canopy is facing a critical moment."
"Climate change, sprawl, invasive species and an aging tree stock are combining to create a severe threat. And it’s left scientists and urban planners wondering whether a tree canopy that helps protect us from Sacramento’s blistering summer heat will be there for the next generation."
"The Sacramento Bee has a long history of fighting for and protecting our city’s urban forest. For more than 160 years, the McClatchy family has advocated for planting and preserving trees in the city they helped build."
California farms, ranches strive to adapt as climate warms -- it's a matter of survival
The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE: "If ever there was a glaring example of the havoc and heartache climate change can cause to a farming family, the assortment of chain restaurants, stores and 300 apartments on El Camino Real in Sunnyvale is the one."
"The 16-acre development in the heart of Silicon Valley is where Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson’s family had a cherry orchard and fruit stand, called C.J. Olson Cherries, that was a landmark for about a century in the agricultural region once known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight."
"The orchard, at the corner of El Camino and Mathilda Avenue, was bulldozed in 1999, one of the last farms in Sunnyvale to be plowed under. But Jacobson said it wasn’t high-tech urbanization that compelled the family to develop the land after more than a century of farming it."
Californians are buying up electric cars. But where will they plug in?
The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "As a renter, Bruce Wolfe knows the struggles many people face driving an electric car when they lack access to a charging outlet at home."
"He parks on the street outside his Haight-Ashbury flat in San Francisco, which doesn’t have a garage. There aren’t any public charging stations in the neighborhood, so he charges in a parking lot outside the nonprofit where he works in Marin County."
"Wolfe said he can’t afford to rent an apartment that has a garage, at least not in San Francisco. Twice in the seven years he has driven electric cars, he’s run out of juice on the road and had to be towed to a charging station."
Sacramento nurse charged in $31M Medicare kickback scheme, feds say
Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON: "A Sacramento registered nurse has been charged in a massive Medicare fraud scheme that cost the federal health care program $31 million in payouts, court documents say."
"John Eby, whose Facebook page says he is a nursing care coordinator at Mercy General Hospital, was charged in a two-count information filed in Sacramento federal court Thursday with conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and receipt of health care kickbacks."
"Eby did not respond to a voicemail left for him at Mercy General or to a message left with his wife."
DNA lets scientists peer into the faces of our ancient cousins, the Denisovans
AP: "Scientists say they’ve deciphered features of a Denisovan skull and learned other details about our mysterious, extinct cousins by analyzing ancient DNA."
"The genetic material came from the finger bone of a female member of the Denisovans, a population known mostly from small bone fragments and teeth recovered in Siberia’s Denisova Cave. Denisovans may have occupied that cave from more than 200,000 years ago to around 50,000 years ago."
"Scientists say Denisovans and Neanderthals descended from a common ancestor that had split from the lineage leading to modern humans. Even so, our species interbred with both and picked up genetic markers that are still detectable in some people today."
Missing: Nearly 3 billion birds that used to live in North America
LA Times's AMINA KHAN: "North America has lost nearly 3 billion birds since 1970, according to a new analysis of bird survey and radar data from across the continent."
"The sharp decline, described in a study published Thursday in the journal Science, is not just bad for birds. It also bodes ill for the ecosystems those birds inhabit, and points to a need for action to halt and perhaps reverse the drop, scientists said."
"Three billion was a pretty astounding number for us,” said lead author Kenneth Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at Cornell University and the American Bird Conservancy."