AP's THOMAS BEAUMONT/JUANA SUMMERS: "Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer said Wednesday that he will not run for the White House in 2020 and will instead focus on calling for President Donald Trump's impeachment."
"Steyer, who has spent $50 million on his Need to Impeach campaign and announced plans to spend $40 million more this year, said at an event in Des Moines that "the impeachment question has reached an inflection point," given that Democrats have taken majority control of the House."
"I said last year that I'm willing to do whatever I can to protect our country from this reckless, lawless and dangerous president," Steyer said. "Therefore, I will be dedicating 100 percent of my time, effort and resources working for Mr. Trump's impeachment and removal from office. I am not running for president at this time."
'It was like a ton of bricks crushed me': California grapples with historic clemency rejections
Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Joe Hernandez found out that the California Supreme Court had rejected his commutation request late last month during a phone call with his wife, when she checked the online docket for his case."
"The two talk daily while Hernandez, 47, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, plus another 46 years to life, for two murders he committed in 1993. As a young gangster in El Monte, Hernandez killed a rival gang member one night, then shot two other men whom he mistakenly believed were part of a rival gang. One survived."
"During more than 25 years in prison, Hernandez said he has come to terms with how “self-centered” his behavior was and begun using his “tragedies to help people,” including founding a youth diversion program and training service dogs."
These policy changes will impact legal immigrants in the US in 2019
Sacramento Bee's DANIEL SHOER ROTH: "In 2018, the Trump administration pushed to cut down on legal immigration and strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to enforce immigration laws."
"Among the changes were U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations and procedures that affect immigrants who entered legally the United States — particularly pertaining to deportations. However, not all of the new rules are punitive. Some help foreign citizens obtain immigration benefits such as green cards or permanent residence."
“Each year, immigration benefits are attainable for many law-abiding individuals legitimately seeking greater opportunity, prosperity, and security as newly entrusted members of society,” USCIS spokesman Michael Bars said in a statement. The immigration agency, “is committed to rule-of-law and merit-based immigration reforms that benefit U.S. workers, the American people, and our society to the greatest extent possible.”
Amid closure at Joshua Tree National Park, volunteers struggle to clean up after unruly visitors
LA Times' LOUIS SAHAGUN: "In this high desert enclave, Rand Abbott is a well-known man of action. He’s a paraplegic rock climber; a vocal lightning rod at town hall meetings; and a tireless promoter for the desert landscape and its resident creatures."
"So it came as little surprise to friends two weeks ago when he volunteered to clean restrooms and remove trash that was littering Joshua Tree National Park due to a partial government shutdown over funding for President Trump’s border wall."
"Unfortunately, the park was in far more disarray than a one-man army could handle."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: California Democrats made plastic straws hard to get. Are paper receipts next? -- Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON
LA teachers union postpones strike until Monday
LA Times's HOWARD BLUME/MELODY GUTIERREZ: "Thousands of signs were ready, along with thousands of teachers to hold them. Nothing, it seemed, could stop a Los Angeles teachers’ strike from starting Thursday."
"Then, the day before, came a midday announcement from the teachers union: The strike would have to wait until Monday."
"United Teachers Los Angeles didn’t make the decision Wednesday because of progress in contract talks. A deal still seemed beyond reach for the time being. Instead, the delay was due to a legal technicality."
Kamala Harris reportedly ready to jump into 2020 race, lining up East Coast headquarters
The Chronicle's PHIL MATIER: "Word is California Sen. Kamala Harris will announce she’s running for president either on or shortly after the upcoming Martin Luther King weekend."
"The exact date is still being worked out, but sources tell us it’s going to be sometime this month — the MLK holiday is Jan. 21."
"Right now, she is on a book tour, which to me looks like an unconventional run-up to an announcement,” said former political consultant Bob Shrum, who is now director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. As part of that tour for her new book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” Harris will appear at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco Saturday."