Comey firing resonates

May 15, 2017

FBI Director Comey's firing is putting a national spotlight on California's two U.S. senators.


The Chronicle's CAROLYN LOCHHEAD: "The burgeoning fallout from President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey has thrust California’s two senators into a new prominence on the national stage that shows no sign of diminishing anytime soon."

"The two Democrats, veteran Dianne Feinstein and freshman Kamala Harris, widely seen as a potential presidential contender in 2020, sit on committees that are at the center of a gathering maelstrom."

"Feinstein is the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, which oversees law enforcement, and the former chair and ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, where she remains a sitting member. Harris also sits on Intelligence, which is conducting a high-profile investigation of Russian meddling in November’s election. It is running parallel to a separate investigation by the House Intelligence Committee and an FBI probe that Comey had headed."


READ MORE related to Local: Trump presidency eases Gavin Newsom's path in his second run for California governor -- LA Times' MICHAEL FINNEGAN.


There's a tunnel under way in Downtown Los Angeles, 60 feet beneath the crowded city streets.


LA Times' THOMAS CURWEN: "Ten weeks in and 60 feet beneath the streets of downtown Los Angeles, the miners have clawed through nearly 2,600 feet of earth."

"At 5 a.m. on a cool Thursday morning, they gather in the construction yard for the start of another shift."

"The moon, just starting to wane, hangs above the distant skyscrapers as the men stretch like athletes and huddle to hear the latest safety report."


READ MORE related to Transportation: California races to issue drivers' licenses that will work at airport security -- Sacramento Bee's JIM MILLER; More gas tax fallout: East Bay lawmaker loses key committee post -- Sacramento Bee's TARYN LUNA


Lake Oroville's history between government and citizen is dubious at best, and now some wonder if residents can trust the state any longer.


Sacramento Bee's RYAN SABALOW/DALE KASLER: "There was going to be a steam train – and a monorail. Plus a major resort featuring a 250-seat restaurant and a 1,000-seat amphitheater. As many as 5 million visitors a year would show up."

"When it came to wooing Butte County about the construction of Oroville Dam, state officials weren’t shy about setting grand expectations. In return for losing entire communities and thousands of acres of taxable land, the region would become home to California’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, and a tourist destination akin to Disneyland."

"The construction boom in Oroville is over,” Gov. Ronald Reagan said at the dam’s dedication ceremony in May 1968. “But it will be followed by even larger growth as recreation brings millions to the lake."


READ MORE related to Environment: California rains brought super bloom -- and toxic invaders -- Sacramento Bee's MARISA AGHA; Neil deGrasse Tyson opens up on the universe, and more -- The Chronicle's JOHN MCMURTRIE


With over 2,000 hospital jobs available in the area but a lack of skilled workers in the market, the need for training is crucial.


Sacramento Bee's CLAUDIA BUCK: "That MRI technician handling your ultrasound image or the medical assistant copying your insurance card is holding a job that’s in hot demand."

"And in the Sacramento area, there aren’t enough well-trained graduates to fill the vacancies. Aiming to heal a “quality-skills gap,” a new campus for training medical assistants, ultrasound, X-ray and MRI technnologists made its debut this week in Sacramento County. When it opens for classes in July, Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts, part of a San Mateo-based small chain, will offer certificate and two-year associate degrees."

"We’re just on the cusp of being one of the top health care markets in the country, but there’s a skills gap. We have 2,000 jobs (at hospitals) that aren’t filled because they don’t have the trained talent,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, standing in the school’s newly leased 16,480-square-foot space off Highway 50 and Watt Avenue."


How did hundreds of undocumented immigrants fall for a recent citizenship scam?


Sacramento Bee's STEPHEN MaGAGNINI: "Many of Helaman Hansen’s hundreds of victims first heard about his citizenship-through-adoption scheme in their neighborhood churches."

"The 64-year-old Elk Grove businessman or his surrogates would show up promising undocumented immigrants that, for a fee, they’d be adopted into loving families and given fresh birth certificates and Social Security numbers, along with job training, to pursue the good life in the United States. Between October 2012 and January 2016, 471 immigrants from Mexico, Fiji, India, Ecuador, Laos and other nations paid between $150 to $10,000 apiece to join Hansen’s “Migration Program.”

"Some victims completed the adoption stage of the scheme, but not one person obtained citizenship, according to evidence presented at Hansen’s trial, which concluded with his conviction Tuesday. Immigration experts said Hansen’s scheme was just one part of a growing industry that routinely offers false hopes to immigrants desperate for some path to legal residency. Federal authorities called Hansen’s scam possibly the largest case of its kind, with the highest number of victims, and the first ever to be prosecuted."


READ MORE related to Immigration: US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Trump's revised travel ban -- LA Times' MAURA DOLAN; Alex Jones said refugees ravaged an Idaho town with disease and crime. The town says folks get along just fine -- LA Times


Microsoft has publicly blasted the NSA for its role in the recent ransomware attacks known as 'WannaCry,' which crippled many businesses across the country this past weekend.


LA Times' CHRIS O'BRIEN: "A MMicrosoft executive sharply criticized a U.S. spy agency Sunday for its role in weaponizing a weakness in Windows and allowing it to be stolen by hackers and used to launch history’s largest ransomware attack."

"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem," Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, wrote in the wake of the “WannaCry” computer virus attack, which crippled computers worldwide."

"He compared it to the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen. “And this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today — nation-state action and organized criminal action,” he added."


READ MORE related to Economy: How the big TV networks are adapting to ad-skipping viewers ... and Google, Snapchat and Facebook -- LA Times' MEG JAMES/STEPHEN BATTAGLIO


Trump prepares for his first overseas trip with big prospects amid controversy at home after ousting FBI director James Comey.


LA Times' NOAH BIERMAN: "At his inauguration in January, President Trump looked down the National Mall and described a nation beset by “carnage,” its jobs going overseas and its military overextended to the advantage of other countries. He declared “America first,” a new inward-looking doctrine that invoked the phrase of the nationalists who opposed entering World War II."

"Yet as Trump prepares to depart Friday for his first trip abroad, he no longer behaves like a president eager to disengage from the world, and from the postwar alliances of the last seven decades that he so denigrated as a candidate. Nor is the foreign stage looking as receptive to his anti-globalism as he had once expected, and hoped, when nationalists seemed ascendant only months ago."


"The dual developments make Trump’s debut abroad a big test of just what he means by “America first.” While American allies look anxiously for clarification, Trump aides see no disconnect." 

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