Trump administration calls for opening California coast to oil drilling
The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "Nearly all U.S. waters, including the long-protected California coast, would be opened to new offshore oil- and gas-drilling rigs under a sweeping proposal that the Trump administration unveiled Thursday."
"Administration officials said the plan to vastly increase the number of drilling leases offered in the Pacific and other oceans would boost the nation’s energy independence. But the proposal was met with widespread concern from California and other coastal states that the economic benefits would not justify the risk of an environmentally disastrous oil spill."
"No oil or gas lease has been issued for the California coast since 1984, and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the state have generally supported limiting drilling operations to the few dozen rigs that have long operated in Southern California."
READ MORE related to Fight for the California Coast: California leaders vow to fight Trump expansion of offshore oil drilling -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/STUART LEAVENWORTH/RYAN SABALOW; Trump administration calls for opening California coast to oil drilling -- The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER
Republican candidates for California governor spar in their first debate
LA Times' SEEMA MEHTA: "The top two Republicans running for governor met for their first debate Thursday, clashing over their records, who was the true conservative and which one of them could bring change to Sacramento."
"Largely unknown to the state’s voters, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) and businessman John Cox sparred for more than two hours, with the sharpest and most frequent barbs traded over their support — or lack of it — for President Trump."
"Allen repeatedly blasted Cox for voting for libertarian Gary Johnson over Trump in the 2016 presidential election."
Man accused of plotting terror attack on SF's Pier 39 indicted
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A man who allegedly told undercover FBI agents he was planning an armed Christmas day attack on Pier 39 in San Francisco was indicted on terrorism charges Thursday."
"A federal grand jury in Fresno charged Everitt Jameson with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State group known as ISIS, and with a second felony, providing information about making bombs to an agent he believed was working for ISIS."
"Jameson, 26, of Modesto, is a tow truck driver who converted to Islam after being expelled from the Marines, which trained him as a sharpshooter. Prosecutors said he was arrested at his home on Dec. 20 after an investigation that started when an unnamed confidential source told the FBI that Jameson’s Facebook account contained posts endorsing ISIS and terrorism."
READ MORE related to Pier 39 Plot: Alleged Pier 39 terrorist planned to 'funnel people into an area in order to shoot them' -- Fresno Bee's PABLO LOPEZ
California says it will defend legal cannabis despite Jeff Sessions' threat of crackdown
From the Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART and KATE IRBY: "California signaled its intent Thursday to defend the state’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana, hours after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo clearing the way for a federal crackdown on weed."
"Two state leaders – Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Executive Lori Ajax – issued statements saying they’ll defend Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that led to the opening of the state’s first retail cannabis stores this week."
“We’ll continue to move forward with the state’s regulatory processes covering both medicinal and adult-use cannabis consistent with the will of California’s voters, while defending our state’s laws to the fullest extent,” Ajax said."
READ MORE related to Cannabis: -- Sessions' weed decision puts spotlight on new US attorney for eastern California -- Sacramento Bee's BRAD BRANAN; California's pot world sees 'reefer madness' in Sessions' assault on letgal marijuana -- LA Times' EMILY ALPERT REYES/ANGEL JENNINGS/HAILEY BRANSON-POTTS; Jeff Sessions, Trump administration target legal marijuana states days after California's new rules go into effect -- Daily News' TONY SAAVEDRA/BROOKE STAGGS
Pregnant inmates are abused in Santa Rita Jail, women charge in lawsuit
The Chronicle's SOPHIE HAIGNEY: "Six women, formerly or currently incarcerated at Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail, have charged in a legal complaint filed Thursday morning that pregnant women are abused and discriminated against in the Dublin jail."
"The federal complaint was filed against the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. It asks for a temporary restraining order and motion for a preliminary injunction."
"The alleged abuses detailed in the complaint are extreme. In their declarations, women describe feeling coerced by guards to have abortions rather than carrying their pregnancies to term. They said they were given inadequate clothing and food. One woman said she was forced to give birth while in solitary confinement, with no medical assistance."
READ MORE related to PublicSafety: Police kill gunman holding hostages at Holiday Inn Long Beach Airport hotel -- City News Service; LAFD graduates next wave of firefighters, including first woman to snag top recruit honors -- Daily News' WES WOODS II
Obstruction inquiry shows Trump's struggle to keep grip on Russia investigation
NYT's MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT: "President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election."
"Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode."
"Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F . Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama."
READ MORE related to Trump, KremlinGate: Trump had lawyer urge AG against Russia recusal -- AP's ERIC TUCKER; Trump pushed to stop recusal by Sessions -- The Chronicle's ERIC TUCKER; Trump called Hope Hicks 'the best piece of tail' Corey Lewandowski will ever get -- Washington Examiner's KATIE LEACH; Michael Wolff, author of new Trump book, not one to shy away from controversy -- LA Times' NINA AGRAWAL; Michael Wolff, Sarah Huckabee Sanders give dueling TV interviews as controversial Trump book hits the stores -- AP
FBI reportedly launches new Clinton Foundation investigation
The Hill's JOHN SOLOMON: "The Justice Department has launched a new inquiry into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, law enforcement officials and a witness tells The Hill."
"FBI agents from Little Rock, Ark., where the Foundation was started, have taken the lead in the investigation and have interviewed at least one witness in the last month, and law enforcement officials said additional activities are expected in coming weeks."
"The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes."
Woman seeks $1 million after paramedic allegedly fondled her while she was unresponsive
Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS: "A 19-year-old woman has filed a $1 million claim against the city of Sacramento after a paramedic allegedly fondled her breasts while she was unresponsive, strapped to a gurney and being taken to a hospital in an ambulance after suffering a seizure."
"The woman – whose name is blacked out in her Sept. 28 medical malpractice claim against the city – had suffered a seizure at her home on April 1, 2017, and was taken to the Kaiser Permanente hospital in south Sacramento by a Sacramento Fire Department ambulance."
"A paramedic intern who was in the ambulance told detectives that Sacramento Fire Department paramedic Jared David Evans motioned to the woman’s breasts as she lay strapped to a gurney and said “take a look,” according to a warrant issued for Evans’ arrest by Sacramento police."
Medi-Cal patients get something to smile about
Caalifornia Healthline's EMILY BAZAR in Capitol Weekly: "Susan Inglett’s dental coverage changed just after she got a root canal on one of her top teeth."
"It was 2009, and California was in the midst of a budget crisis. To cut costs, Medi-Cal, the state health insurance program for low-income residents, eliminated non-emergency dental benefits for adults."
"Inglett, 63, of San Diego, needed a crown for that vulnerable tooth, but the state no longer paid for them."
READ MORE related to Health & Health Care: LA County woman becomes first to contract Zika virus locally via sexual contact -- Daily News' SUSAN ABRAM; Half of hospitals in CT and DE hit by Medicare's safety penalties -- California Healthline's JORDAN RAU
Former Supervisor Angela Alioto is first official candidate for SF mayor
The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA/RACHEL SWAN: "San Francisco attorney and former Supervisor Angela Alioto became the city’s first official candidate for mayor Thursday, after registering her candidacy paperwork with the Department of Elections."
"Alioto pledged to focus her campaign on combatting homelessness and increasing the city’s stock of affordable housing “so that everyone can afford to live here, not just the rich,” she said."
"She previously had called the city’s homelessness crisis the “prime motivator” behind her decision to run for mayor. Finding permanent, supportive housing for people living on the street will be the policy nucleus of her campaign, she said."
No damage reported as 4.4 Berkeley quake rocks Bay Area
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN/NANETTE ASIMOV/ALIX MARTICHOUX/SARAH RAVANI: "The 4.4-magnitude earthquake that struck near Berkeley early Thursday damaged mainly the sleep of hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents who were shaken awake, but it also rattled the serenity of those who know the likelihood of a far more serious quake looms."
"Seismic experts said aftershocks are likely in the coming days, though their severity is unpredictable. The quake could be a precursor to a larger one, they said, but the chance of that occurring is just 5 percent."
"Still, the quake was a mild jolt of a reminder that there’s a one-in-three chance that a 6.7 or greater earthquake will hit the Bay Area in the next 30 years, according to the USGS. The Hayward Fault is overdue for a large quake, seismologists say."
READ MORE related to Environment: Volunteers' efforts go down the drain as residents 'adopt' street ducts -- The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA; Sparse Sierra snowpack has officials worried about a long, dry summer -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE
Months after Equifax data breach, we're still no closer to privacy protections
LA Times' DAVID LAZARUS: "This is the year privacy safeguards finally kick in for consumers after outraged lawmakers wasted no time passing legislation in the wake of the Equifax data breach, which exposed the personal information of more than 145 million Americans."
"I’m just kidding."
"After lots of huffing and puffing for the cameras, Republican lawmakers have blocked all legislation aimed at improving privacy protections or holding companies more accountable for the loss of people’s info."
Berkeley teacher ordered to pay legal fees of Republican group's ex-leader
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "An Alameda County Court Commissioner ordered a Berkeley middle school teacher and activist to pay $11,100 in legal fees to the former head of the Berkeley College Republicans after the teacher dropped a demand for a restraining order against the ex-leader of the Republican group."
"The tentative court order, issued Thursday, requires Yvette Felarca, national organizer for By Any Means Necessary, a group that led protests against conservative speakers at the UC Berkeley campus in 2017, to pay the attorney and court fees for Troy Worden, the former president of the College Republicans, which promoted the events."
"Felarca filed for a civil harrassment restraining order against Worden in September, claiming he was stalking her by following her around on the Cal campus, taking a selfie with her and appearing at BAMN events. Worden denied any wrongdoing."
READ MORE related to Education: Federal government finds flaws in California's plan to improve lowest-performing schools -- EdSource; A focus on writing in every class is key to success in this rural California district -- EdSource's THERESA HARRINGTON; Cal State must improve online education across campuses, study urges -- EdSource's LARRY GORDON
Bike advocates put their bodies on the line to protect bike lanes
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "On a dark December night, with a chilly breeze blowing from the west, a dozen bicyclists parked their rides on the sidewalks of Market Street at Octavia Street, pulled bright-yellow T-shirts over their work apparel and grabbed glow sticks and signs."
"Then they wandered into the street, placing themselves in a line between evening commute traffic and a steady stream of cyclists pedaling home in a bike lane separated by a slender white, painted stripe."
"Join us,” they yelled, as portable speakers boomed “The Safety Dance,” a 1983 pop hit. “Protect the bike lanes.” The group quickly grew to about 70 people."
Comcast fired 500 despite claiming tax cut would create thousands of jobs
ARS Technica's JON BRODKIN: "Comcast reportedly fired about 500 salespeople shortly before Christmas, despite claiming that the company would create thousands of new jobs in exchange for a big tax cut."
"Comcast apparently tried to keep the firings secret while it lobbied for the tax cut that was eventually passed into law by the Republican-controlled Congress and signed by President Trump in late December. The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed the Comcast firings this week in an article based on information from an anonymous former employee, Comcast documents, and other sources in the company."
"The former employee who talked to the Inquirer "could not be identified because of a nondisclosure agreement as part of a severance package," the article said. The Inquirer headline notes that Comcast was able to implement the firings "quietly," avoiding any press coverage until this week."
READ MORE related to Economy: US employers add modest 148,000 jobs; unemployment 4.1 pct -- AP's CHRISTOPHER RUGABER; Dow crosses 25,000, aided by strong performance from Apple and Visa -- The Chronicle's WENDY LEE
Berkeley's free-form, leftist KPFA on the brink again -- and this time it could be final
The Chronicle's SAM WHITING: "After nearly 70 years on the air and on the brink, Berkeley-based KPFA-FM could be facing the end of its run as a pioneering, proudly left-wing radio outlet."
"There is some irony in the fact that after labor disputes, strikes and other controversies in the years since its founding in 1949, the station whose motto is “Vigilant as Always” faces demise because of the financial woes of a radio station in New York City."
"A New York judge has ruled that KPFA’s sister station, WBAI, is liable for $1.8 million in back rent for its transmission tower atop the Empire State Building. The judge also ruled that the landlord, Empire State Realty Trust, may pursue seizure of the assets of WBAI’s parent, Pacifica Foundation, of which KPFA is the flagship station."
Hundreds attend funeral for West Sacramento sisters allegedly killed by father
Sacramento Bee's STEPHEN MAGAGNINI: "Sophie and Sara Rouin, two sisters who were found dead along with their father in his car in West Sacramento on New Year’s Eve, were mourned by more than 200 people who attended their funeral Thursday at Salam Islamic Center."
"The girls were buried at the Sacramento Muslim Cemetery in east Sacramento County, their caskets draped in green and gold prayer shawls. “Those are the colors mentioned in the Quran,” said Asif Haq, director of Salam’s Center of Higher Islamic Learning. “When you are in heaven, you will be wearing green and gold silk brocades and bracelets."
"Many mourners, including religious leaders, struggled to come to terms with the deaths of children who by all accounts spread joy, kindness and compassion wherever they went. “I’ve been consoling people for 15 years and this time has really tested me,” said Imam M.A. Azeez of Taribiya Institute, where the girls and their mother worshiped."
City of Rocklin finalizes deal to buy Sunset Whitney Country Club
Sacramento Bee's BENJY EGEL: "The city of Rocklin has finalized an agreement to buy about 184 acres of land on what used to be Rocklin Golf Club, long known as Sunset Whitney Country Club."
"The $5.8 million purchase signed on Dec. 20 concludes a drawn-out, bitter battle between former owner Charlie Gibson and the city of Rocklin. In a news release distributed Wednesday, the city of Rocklin said groundskeepers were already trying to mitigate some of the safety and environmental hazards ahead of reopening the area."
"Parks and open spaces are highly valued by the Rocklin community and the city’s purchase of the former Rocklin Golf Club has a multitude of benefits,” Mayor Ken Broadway said in the release. “This green space at the heart of the city will provide an oasis for outdoor activities."
Luck of the draw helps Republicans hold Virginia House
AP's ALAN SUDERMAN: "Virginia Republicans cheered Thursday when their candidate won a state House of Delegates race by luck of the draw, having his name chosen first out of ceramic bowl."
"But inside a conference room in Richmond's Capitol Square, where the drawing was held, it was all agony of defeat and no joy of victory. That's because Republican David Yancey skipped the drawing, while Democratic challenger Shelley Simonds and many of her supporters absorbed it in stunned silence."
"The drawing of lots took place after an election, recount and legal battles between Yancey and Simonds ended in a tie. Yancey's win allows Republicans to maintain a slim majority in the House, though a final tally is still uncertain."
Former Olympic gold medal boxer accused of lewd acts on child
LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN: "Authorities are searching for more possible victims in connection with an Olympic gold medalist and boxing coach accused of committing lewd acts on a child."
"Los Angeles County prosecutors this week charged Paul Gonzales, 53, with eight felony counts, including four counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of possessing child pornography, according to court records."
"A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman did not have additional details on the alleged crimes late Thursday. It’s unclear how many victims investigators have identified."
Led by the Mercers, Bannon's allies abandon him
NYT's KENNETH P. VOGEL/JONATHAN MARTIN/JEREMY W. PETERS: "Enthusiasm for Stephen K. Bannon’s plans for a fiery Republican revolution had already been fading among some of the donors and candidates he was relying on to upend the party’s establishment."
"But Mr. Bannon’s provocative remarks about President Trump and his family, reported in a new book now scheduled to be released this week, and Mr. Trump’s angry response, further alienated some of Mr. Bannon’s most important backers — including the family of the hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer — leaving Mr. Bannon confronting the possibility of a dire fate for a publicity-hungry provocateur: political irrelevance."
"The Mercers were blunt on Thursday in cutting the cord, reiterating support for Mr. Trump while disavowing Mr. Bannon’s remarks and disowning his political endeavors. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Rebekah Mercer, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, said in a statement. “I have a minority interest in Breitbart News and I remain committed in my support for them."