The Roundup

Jul 14, 2017

Summertime Sierra slowdown

The Sierra Nevada is having a slow start to summer this year, thanks to a record-setting snowmelt that, while taking California out of drought, has raised a host of other problems in the iconic mountain range.


From the LAT's LOUIS SAHAGUN: "Even when snowbound and inaccessible to vehicles, the rustic Tioga Pass Resort on the crest of the Sierra Nevada range offered homemade pie, a wood-burning stove and plump sofas to relax on after a day of backcountry skiing."

"But the winter of 2017 was more than the log cabin lodge, just two miles east of Yosemite National Park, could bear."

"Trails, roads and campgrounds throughout the Sierra high country were hit hard by snow and runoff from one of the largest snowpacks in recorded history, leaving public agencies scrambling and summer visitors feeling lost. At Tioga Pass Lodge, established in 1914, loyalists’ hopes of kicking back on a sunny afternoon have taken a particularly tough wallop."


READ MORE related to Environment: 'Hazardous' heat returning to parts of Southern California -- Daily News


Students who are saddled with school loans but don't have a job yet to pay them off are not going to be pleased by a Trump administration move.


The Bee's Alexei Koseff: "Students who rack up debt attending for-profit colleges were supposed to get some additional protections this month."


"If their school was found to have misled them into borrowing money to attend, a new rule would have simplified the process for seeking loan forgiveness..."


"But last month, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos abruptly announced that she would postpone the change and seek a “regulatory reset.” She later delayed key provisions in another regulation targeting programs with poor employment outcomes, and plans to rewrite both of them."


Obituary: The women's rights activist and anti-Walmart litigant Betty Dukes has died. She was 67.


East Bay Times' ROWENA COETSEE: "An Antioch woman who took her battle for women’s rights in the workplace all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court has died."

"Betty Dukes was found in her Antioch home on Monday, although it is unknown when she passed away."

"She was 67."


LA's sheriff drew protests yesterday for his opposition to the proposed 'sanctuary state' bill.


LA Times' LEILA MILLER: "Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s East L.A. station Thursday evening to demand that the sheriff support the so-called sanctuary state bill, which would block local and state law enforcement from using resources to help federal immigration agents."

"About 40 activists chanted in Spanish and English, some holding up signs that read “Sanctuary Now!”, while a handful of vocal demonstrators sat, arms linked, on the floor of the station’s lobby."

"Among those outside was David Abud, a sanctuary bill supporter who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 10 years old."


A federal judge in Hawaii has issued an expansion of the exemptions listed on POTUS45's travel ban.


LA Times' JAWEED KALEEM: "A federal judge in Hawaii on Thursday ordered the Trump administration to vastly expand the number of people exempt from a controversial travel ban to include those who have grandparents and other non-immediate family in the U.S., as well as refugees without family ties to the country."

"In his order, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said the government’s actions in implementing the limits on travel for refugees and residents of six Muslim-majority countries represented “the antithesis of common sense.”

"He said the government had failed to follow Supreme Court orders last month that established conditions for a partial revival of the ban, whose implementation had been blocked by the courts."


READ MORE related to Immigration: California could abolish the immigration-consultant industry to prevent fraud -- The Press-Enterprise's ALEJANDRA MOLINA


Disney just released a model of what their new massive theme park addition, Star Wars Land, will look like at their historical parks in Southern California and Florida.


OC Register's JOSEPH PIMENTEL: "Are you itching to be Han Solo’s shipmate and hop aboard the Millennium Falcon? Or take part in a battle between the First Order and the Resistance?"

"The Walt Disney Co. lifted up the curtain Thursday night of the much-anticipated “Star Wars” land, unveiling a 50-foot-wide model showing the land and its attractions to the media and special guests on the eve of Friday’s kickoff of the D23 Expo, Disney’s three-day biennial fan convention at the Anaheim Convention Center."

"The model shows what is under construction at Disneyland in Anaheim and at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Construction began in 2016 and should wrap up in 2019."


Originally the seemingly biggest of rivals, two at-odds presidents have now maneuvered themselves towards being the best of friends.


AP's LORI HINNANT/VIVIAN SALAMA: "With a military parade on the Champs-Elysees and a gilded tour of France’s most storied monuments, French President Emmanuel Macron laid on the charm as he positioned himself as the indispensable intermediary between Europe and Donald Trump."

"The Bastille Day demonstration on Friday capped two days of Parisian glitz for Trump and his wife, who were Macron’s guests of honor in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I."

"Thanking the United States for the decision that turned the tide of a devastating conflict, Macron said the Trumps’ presence on France’s national holiday “is the sign of a friendship across the ages.”"


A whistleblower's lawsuit against Wells Fargo alleges that the financial giant left debtors footing the bill with extra fees.


LA Times' JAMES RUFUS KOREN: "As Wells Fargo & Co. continues to be hit with fallout from its sham-accounts scandal, the bank is facing allegations that it put the screws to customers in yet another way: by slapping them with fees for delays in processing mortgage applications."

"A former Wells Fargo mortgage banker who worked in Beverly Hills alleged in a lawsuit this week that the bank falsified records so it could blame holdups on borrowers — and that it fired him for trying to report the practice."

"The legal action follows a months-long internal investigation into the alleged abusive practices, one that contributed to an executive shake-up in the San Francisco bank’s mortgage business. ProPublica first reported on the alleged improper fees in January."


In an interesting turn of events in neighboring Nevada, a shortage of legal cannabis has spurred the state's Tax Commission to quickly move into approving a regulations that would rapidly build and replenish the state's supply of pot.


LA Times' DAVID MONTERO: "Nevada approved an emergency regulation Thursday aimed at solving a marijuana shortage by expanding who is allowed to transport the drug from cultivation facilities to retail dispensaries."

"The Nevada Tax Commission voted unanimously in favor of the regulation two weeks after the state began allowing the sale of recreational marijuana and supply problems quickly arose because nobody had been licensed to transport it."

"The referendum passed last year by Nevada voters legalizing the drug for recreational use stipulated that for the first 18 months of sales only liquor wholesalers would be allowed to apply to distribute marijuana — a nod to the powerful alcohol industry, which is worried about new competition from pot."


An ex-Compton deputy treasurer and his wife have pleaded guilty to a nearly $4 million embezzlement scheme in which the former city official pilfered below-the-radar monetary deposits from the city's funding for years.


LA Times' ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN: "The former deputy city treasurer of Compton pleaded guilty Thursday to embezzling more than $3.7 million from city coffers over a six-year period, according to federal court records."

"Salvador Galvan, who spent more than two decades working for the city, was responsible for tallying the cash Compton received from residents paying their water bills, business license fees, building permit fees and trash bills, then depositing the funds at the bank."

"Starting in May 2010, according to federal officials and court records, Galvan, a resident of La Mirada, would pocket anywhere from $200 to $8,000 a day, in amounts small enough that they went unnoticed for years. That’s until one colleague spotted a $7,000 discrepancy that triggered an investigation."


OP-ED: Accord needed to resolve net neutrality battle.


Capitol Weekly's MICHAEL KLEEMAN: "On July 12, the Electric Frontier Foundation, ACLU and many tech companies and nonprofits mobilized for a day of action in support of net neutrality. At issue: making sure the Internet remains open and accessible. This is in response to the new Federal Communications Commission’s vote to start overturning the last FCC’s net neutrality policy."

"If this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve seen this movie before. Net neutrality has become a Groundhog Day policy fight for 10 years running that we’re doomed to relive until the issue is resolved."

"Over its history, the FCC has been controlled by Democratic majorities 19 times and by Republican majorities 14 times. This see-saw battle is reflected in how the issue is portrayed by elected officials. Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Al Franken say, for example, that “Trump’s FCC chairman wants to hand the Internet over to big corporations.” “Get government out of the Internet’s business,” respond GOP Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee a few days later. HBO’s John Oliver has gotten into the act: His YouTube video on the subject has more than 4.5 million views — and counting. And the last time it was before the Federal Communications Commission, four million people commented."


OP-ED: California's signature environmental law is being abused (again) to stop an environmentally friendly project.

The Times Editorial Board: "Critics of the California Environmental Quality Act have a new poster child for why state leaders need to take another look at the 47-year-old law. The Parking Spot, which operates airport parking lots across the country, has used CEQA to sue the Los Angeles International Airport over its $5-billion plan to modernize ground transportation services at LAX by finally — finally! — connecting a train line to the airport and providing a meaningful alternative to driving."

"There’s a perennial fight over California’s signature environmental law, which was enacted as a way to inform and empower the public by requiring developers to disclose the environmental effects of their projects in detailed reports and to mitigate any harm they may cause. While CEQA is a vital tool that has made countless projects better since its inception, it is also too easily used to stop projects for reasons that have nothing to do with environmental protection."

"Organized labor groups have used the threat of CEQA lawsuits to force developers to hire unionized labor. Companies have filed CEQA lawsuits to block competing businesses. Homeowner groups have used CEQA to stop construction or shrink the size of apartment complexes in the middle of cities. And now there’s the Parking Spot lawsuit, which on the surface certainly looks like one company’s attempt to ensure that the airport’s ground transportation plan doesn’t hurt its business."



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