Senators ask for probe into ICE spokesman's resignation
The Chronicle's HAMED ALEAZIZ: "California’s U.S. senators and several Democratic colleagues called Thursday for an investigation into the resignation of a federal immigration agency spokesman who quit after a Northern California sweep for undocumented migrants, saying he was being asked to perpetuate false statements by Trump administration officials about the operation."
"The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s spokesman in San Francisco, James Schwab, told The Chronicle this monththat he resigned in frustration over statements by ICE chief Thomas Homan and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that 800 people had eluded the agency because of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s public warning before the operation. Schwab said the number was probably far lower."
"The mayor’s Feb. 24 warning came on the eve of a four-day immigration sweep that resulted in 232 arrests."
What we know (and don't know) about the police shooting of Stephon Clark
Sacramento Bee's NASHELLY CHAVEZ/ANITA CHABRIA: "Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old Sacramento man, was fatally shot in his grandparents' backyard Sunday night after two Sacramento Police Department officers responded to a call about car break-ins on 29th Street. The caller reported the suspect was a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and that he ran into a backyard."
"A Sacramento County Sheriff's Department helicopter arrived to the scene to help with the call minutes later, and told two officers on the ground about a man in the backyard of a nearby home. A crew member described the suspect as picking up a "tool bar" and breaking the window of the home. Helicopter video of the incident shows Clark jumping over a wooden fence and into the adjacent backyard. This was the backyard belonging to his grandparents' house, where he was staying."
"The officers on the ground eventually found Clark in the backyard and told him to show his hands. Seconds later, they fired their weapons 10 times each."
READ MORE related to Stephon Clark Shooting: Sacramento mayor asks city to 'remain peaceful' after fatal police shooting of black man -- Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS; Sacramento protesters rage over Stephon Clark's death -- Sacramento Bee's ANITA CHABRIA/RYAN LILLIS/CYNTHIA HUBERT/SAM STANTON; Sacramento protesters condemn fatal police shooting of unarmed man -- The Chronicle's SOPHIA BOLLAG/DON THOMPSON; What the shooting of Stephon Clark sounded like to the police dispatcher -- Sacramento Bee; Police shootings raise plenty of outcry. Why California lawmakers don't act. -- Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF
NorCal utlity says it will turn the lights off when fire risk spikes
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "PG&E has long resisted the idea of shutting off electrified power lines to prevent wildfires, saying the public safety risks of putting communities in the dark was too high."
"Stung by accusations that its power lines may have sparked last October's disastrous wine country fires, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Thursday it will begin switching off the juice during periods of "extreme fire conditions." The plan is part of a multipronged initiative the utility announced to tamp down wildfire risks, including trimming trees and vegetation adjacent to transmission wires more aggressively."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: An alternative approach to managing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta -- Water Deeply's JEFFREY MOUNT; Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now nearly 4 times the size of California -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE; Sierra foothills dam, part of SF's Hetch Hetchy system, pushed to near failure -- The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN/KURTIS ALEXANDER; Despite evacuation warnings, some Montecito residents have had enough -- LA Times's MELISSA ETEHAD/RUBEN VIVES/JOSEPH SERNA; The Great Pacific Garbage Patch counts 1.8 trillion pieces of trash, mostly plastic -- LA Times's AMINA KHAN; How do coyotes thrive in urban SoCal? The answer is not for the weak-stomached -- LA Times's LOUIS SAHAGUN; More than 60 deaths in fires, floods expose weaknesses in California's emergency planning -- LA Times's PAIGE ST. JOHN/JOSEPH SERNA; Major storm makes a mess of Bay Area traffic, numerous accidents reported -- The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI
New Sessions memo pushes death penalty for big drug dealers. That could include legal cannabis business owners.
The Cannabist's ALICIA WALLACE & Denver Post's JOHN INGOLD: "To the litany of challenges facing state-licensed marijuana business owners, add another one: The federal government could — though probably won’t — try to execute them."
"This week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to the nation’s federal prosecutors urging them to seek the death penalty in cases involving large-scale drug traffickers. The memo points to an existing but little-known federal law that already allows for such a punishment."
"Sessions’ memo talks largely about opioids, but federal law contains no such drug-specific limitation on prosecutors’ power. Trace the law’s meandering route through federal statutes and you’ll come to this conclusion: Anyone convicted of cultivating more than 60,000 marijuana plants or possessing more than 60,000 kilograms of a substance that contains marijuana could face death as a punishment."
READ MORE related to Cannabis: New podcast humoursly highlights the heroes and hidden history of cannabis -- LA Times's ADAM TSCHORN; People with cannabis crimes on their record can clear them up under Prop. 64; most haven't -- The Cannifornian's BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGS
Feinstein to keep pushing for gun controls
The Chronicle's CAROLYN LOCHHEAD: "For the second time in just over four months, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for tougher gun control laws — including a ban on assault weapons — while prosecutors, police chiefs and gun violence survivors stood by her side."
"Thursday’s news conference was nearly identical to one she held last fall after mass shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Las Vegas. But this time, three of the survivors were from last month’s school massacre in Parkland, Fla. And instead of fading away into the next news cycle, as in the past, the push for gun controls is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the March for Our Lives protest Saturday in Washington, D.C., and more than 600 other U.S. cities."
"Organizers in San Francisco are expecting more than 100,000 gun violence protesters at the Civic Center starting at 1 p.m."
Court puts onus on California colleges to protect students from 'foreseeable violence'
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Colleges in California have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect their students from “foreseeable violence” on campus and in school-related activities off campus, and can be sued for failing to do so, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday."
"The ruling, in the case of a near-fatal stabbing of a student by a classmate in a UCLA chemistry lab, comes during a time of increased campus violence that has galvanized demands for better safety measures and mental health treatment in schools at all levels. The court cited the April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, when student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 students and teachers before taking his own life, as an event that made schools re-examine their security policies."
“Students are comparatively vulnerable and dependent on their colleges for a safe environment,” Justice Carol Corrigan said in the majority opinion. “Colleges have a superior ability to provide that safety with respect to activities they sponsor or facilities they control.”
White House could be blowing smoke with plan to cut nicotine in cigarettes
LA Times's DAVID LAZARUS: "It looks like the Trump administration has finally found a business it doesn't like."
"Amid a far-ranging push to deregulate American companies — from payday lenders to internet service providers — Trump has singled out Big Tobacco as the one industry he intends to crack down on."
READ MORE related to Health & Health Care: OP-ED: Priority: Boosting Denti-Cal reimbursements -- JOHN LUTHER in Capitol Weekly; Trump proposal could push health premiums up by $2K for older Americans -- CNBC's SARAH O'BRIEN; Are there risks from secondhand cannabis smoke? Early science says yes. -- KALW's MARISSA ORTEGA-WELCH
With increased focus on students' social and emotional skills, teachers turn to class pets to help lead the way
EdSource's ASHLEY HOPKINSON: "It’s the end of the day in Mr. Tim’s kindergarten classroom at the International Community School in Oakland. A dozen 5-year-olds gather around an aquarium and meticulously curve their fingers into tiny heart shapes. Pulling their hands close to their chests, then pressing them out, with heart shapes extended, they say in unison, “We love you, Maurice."
"Maurice is a red-eared slider, one of the most popular pet turtles on the market. He is also the beloved class pet, seven years and counting, in Timothy Douglas’ kindergarten classroom."
"Like many class pets, Maurice symbolizes a classroom feature that has long been common in schools. But now, in some classrooms, class pets are doing more than helping children learn about animals. They are being integrated into teachers’ efforts to help young students learn social and emotional skills, such as self-awareness, self-management, responsibility and relationship building."
READ MORE related to Education: First time superintendent, in just his second year, faces demands to quickly improve student learning -- EdSource's THERESA HARRINGTON
Told to stop 'flaunting' his sexuality, firefighter files discrimination lawsuit against Cal Fire
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "A gay firefighter who felt harassed by his peers in Cal Fire is suing the department, alleging that his last supervisors discriminated against him because of his sexuality and because he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder."
"Capt. Dru Snider, 38, says in the complaint he filed last week in San Bernardino Superior Court that the harassment he experienced at a Cal Fire camp in Owens Valley was so severe that he considered suicide."
"He filed a discrimination complaint in December 2015, but the department did not open a full investigation into the camp’s leadership until the camp’s chief sent a rude text message that a higher-ranking official read, according to a Cal Fire investigative report."
Tariffs on China could spark a response, hitting agriculture, tech and aerospace in the US
LA Times's HUGO MARTIN/RYAN FAUGHNDER/GEOFFREY MOHAN: "President Trump's call Thursday to impose tariffs on Chinese products prompted an outcry from several U.S. industries that expressed fear of an all-out trade war that could ultimately hurt U.S. consumers, farmers and manufacturers."
"The effect of Trump's move won't be clear until the U.S. submits a final list of products subject to the new taxes, which should be announced this spring after a public comment period. Also crucial will be how China responds."
READ MORE related to Development & Economy: Silicon Valley played by a different set of rules. Facebook's crisis could put an end to that -- LA Times's DAVID PIERSON/TRACEY LIEN; Amazon patents delivery drones that can react to people screaming and flailing -- WaPo; Congress OKs compromise $1.3 trillion budget bill -- The Chronicle's LISA MASCARO/ALAN FRAM; Global markets slump as trade-war tensions escalate -- CNBC's MATT CLINCH
OP-ED: Are driverless cars safe enough to be on the road? No one knows. That's a big problem
LA Times's EDITORIAL BOARD: "Driverless cars offer a future with fewer deaths on the roadways. Today, roughly nine out of 10 car crashes are caused by human error; autonomous vehicles, with their sensors, radars and undistractable computer-driven system, should be much safer. That is, they should be much safer eventually."
"But they still have some glaring shortcomings, a point that was underlined in tragic fashion this week. On Sunday a self-driving Uber plowed into a pedestrian walking across a road in Tempe, Arizona, killing her. A video of the incident released Wednesday shows that the woman was crossing mid-street in the dark. The car didn't slow down, according to reports. There was no braking or swerving. There was no attempt by the vehicle or the back-up operator (who had been looking away from the windshield) to avoid crashing into the woman."
READ MORE related to Transportation: Train buffs will fight Sacramento bike trail plan that would remove old tracks -- Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK/RYAN LILLIS
In the LA area, many options for joining the March for Our Lives on Saturday
LA Times's HOWARD BLUME: "Josie Hahn, who attends Polytechnic High in Long Beach, is not a survivor of a school shooting. Neither is Sofia Lizardi of Venice High or Edna Chavez of Manual Arts. But all three seniors are part of a movement that found full voice after a 19-year-old wielding a semiautomatic rifle killed 17 at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last month."
"On Saturday, these students and hundreds of thousands of others are expected to take part in at least 838 marches and other official and unofficial events worldwide in what organizers have called the March for Our Lives."
OC's grand homeless plan collapsing as residents balk at having shelters in their neighborhoods
LA Times's HANNAH FRY/ANH DO: "Just a few days ago, Orange County appeared to have a grand plan to deal with its swelling homeless population."
"The idea was to move hundreds of people being evicted from camps along the Santa Ana River into motels and eventually into three temporary shelters in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel, marking the county's most concrete effort yet to find housing for the unsheltered."
Mitch McConnell 'should be ashamed' for blocking sex harassment bill, congresswoman says
McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI: "California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, one of the leading voices advocating for sexual harassment victims in Congress, is not happy that Congress just punted on what was perhaps its best chance of overhauling how harassment complaints are reported and adjudicated in Congress."
"She’s pointing the finger squarely at one person: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell."
"According to Speier, who represents a portion of San Francisco and Silicon Valley, the Kentucky Republican is responsible for the fact that the Senate has still not acted to change Congress’ handling of sexual harassment. The House passed a bill to overhaul the legislative branch’s arcane system for handling workplace complaints in February, but it was left out of a massive spending bill that lawmakers are expected to pass this week. That so-called spending “omnibus” is widely believed to be the last major piece of legislation Congress will approve this year, which made it an attractive vehicle for a whole range of legislative proposals that are still awaiting a vote."