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Council Members Call For More Openness in San Jose's Permit Process

Two San Jose council members say their city makes it too tough on small business owners who want to open shop or expand.

CPUC to File Revised PG&E Penalty

The California Public Utilities Commission is set to file a revised penalty proposal Monday for PG&E’s part in the fatal San Bruno gas line explosion.

Lawmaker Wants State To Collect Data on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

State agencies already collect information about our sex and race. A bill introduced in Sacramento on Thursday would require them to start asking about our sexual orientation and gender identity.

New Year Brings New Laws, and New Legislators, to Sacramento

It's a new year, and that means new laws kick in, new tax credits take effect, and new legislators start learning the ropes in Sacramento. California lawmakers were busy in 2014, with a Democratic supermajority passing more than a thousand bills.

PBS NewsHour

Watch LIVE: Hillary Clinton addresses Emily’s List gala

Fresh off of allegations she may have illegally used a personal email account during her tenure as Secretary of State, likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will address the Emily’s List 30th Anniversary Gala at 8 pm ET. Emily’s List is a political action committee dedicated to supporting pro-abortion rights women for democratic office.

Will Clinton react to the email controversy? Watch Clinton’s remarks in our live stream, along with the rest of the Gala’s speakers, including:

  • EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock
  • Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
  • California Attorney General Kamala Harris
  • Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
  • Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley

The post Watch LIVE: Hillary Clinton addresses Emily’s List gala appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

House decides immigration battle will have to wait with vote to fund Homeland Security

FUNDING DEAL  monitor dept of homeland security

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

JUDY WOODRUFF: As we mentioned earlier, the dramatic fight over Homeland Security funding has ended three days before the money was to run out. Many House Republicans wanted to use the agency’s budget to take a stand against President Obama’s actions on immigration.

As a result, last week, the chamber could not pass a funding bill.

Our Lisa Desjardins reports on what changed today.

LISA DESJARDINS: The numbers tell this unusual story. See those yes-votes to fund Homeland Security with no strings attached there on the left? Those came mostly from Democrats. Only a minority of Republicans, like Idaho’s Mike Simpson, joined those Democrats.

Those Republicans argued that the battle over the president’s actions which allow more undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, that battle will have to wait.

REP. MIKE SIMPSON, R-IDAHO: Congress must continue the fight, fight the president’s actions on immigration that I do not support and the American people do not support. We must continue this fight, but we must also allow funding for critical security functions to move forward.

LISA DESJARDINS: That’s the split. Dozens of other GOP conservatives, like Raul Labrador, also of Idaho, insisted the president’s actions are so egregious, that Republicans should use all their leverage.

REP. RAUL LABRADOR, R-Idaho: This fight today is not about immigration. This fight today is about the separation of powers. Any person who votes for this deal today is voting to cede some of our power to the executive.

LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid hailed the outcome and blasted Republicans.

SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader: This crisis was completely unnecessary. In the future, I hope we can avoid those kinds of knockdown, drag-out fights and work together for the good of the American people.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa joins me now.

What a day at the Capitol.

LISA DESJARDINS: Incredible. What a weekend.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what is it that caused Speaker Boehner to change his strategy and call this vote for full funding for Homeland Security through September?

LISA DESJARDINS: To be fair, Speaker Boehner has been very quiet through this whole fight, even going back a week ago, about exactly what his strategy was the whole time.

And, in fact, he hasn’t said anything publicly today. But I think what happened here, Judy, is this. He tried to pass a funding bill with the immigration bill attached, as his conservatives wanted. That didn’t work. He took that apart, detached the immigration issue. And then Friday night in that amazing vote I know you talked to Mark and David about, they still could not pass as bill with just a three-week extension.

My sources tell me that Friday night, it was clear to the speaker and those around him that the only option was the Senate bill if they wanted to keep Homeland Security funded. And they came. They got the bill in their hands today and then they voted on it.

One other factor I want to bring up is the political factor. We saw something very rare today, in that a Republican action group called the American Action Network posted this e-mail, posted this press release saying they were going to send $400,000 in ads to support Homeland Security funding. This came out this morning. Those ads were going to be run against conservatives.

We’re talking TV ads, Rush Limbaugh, 50 congressional districts. Judy, they were targeting the leaders, if you will, of this immigration action, the ones who were willing to go to the brink on this. And here’s a Republican group saying, no, don’t go to the brink; we will fight you as Republicans on this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Highly unusual to see something like that.

LISA DESJARDINS: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, what does it mean that you had, what, almost two-thirds of Republicans voting against their own Republican speaker?

LISA DESJARDINS: It means these are very difficult times for the Republican Conference. As one congressman told me today, they have a major and difficult conversation as a conference to have now.

But they have been having that conference for a while. I think, looking more big picture, our viewers are probably looking at governance and what happens next in general. And I think this shows that for now the only way that these must-pass fiscal spending bills can pass is with a combination of Democrats and Republicans, and not necessarily a majority of Republicans.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Republicans, we have been talking about an historically high number of Republicans, what is it, 242 Republicans, as many as we have had in almost 80 years, but are we now seeing a new alignment among these Republicans?

LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, right.

So, since we’re on TV, I will say one caucus, we can call maybe the no-way caucus. They’re willing to draw the line and stand there and not move. They were the ones who held up this spending bill. Then let’s say there’s another caucus that maybe I will call the another day caucus. I’m opening a box here, but maybe our viewers have other suggestions.

But this is the caucus that says, let’s not fight this battle now. Let’s pass a spending bill and let’s get to other issues. Then there’s a group in the middle that’s not sure what to do. They feel strongly. They are tempted to say no way. They also feel that there’s a pragmatic call to govern, and it’s that group in the middle, which, by my calculation, is about half the caucus, that will decide what happens next.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, but they today are the ones who sided with the no way members, the 50 or so members who were driving this issue.

LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I think that gets to my point.

If you look at the numbers, there were 50 in the no way caucus Friday — that’s a lot of members — and then about 70 today who said, let’s do this another day. And then there’s people that go back and forth. Those folks who today sided with the speaker and said let’s fund DHS now includes a lot of freshman up-and-comers, Martha McSally, Mimi Walters, people who are strong on security issues, maybe have serious swing districts, and they’re taking a stand and saying, we want to govern and we want to get past this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It will be interesting to see what this means for the speaker going forward.

LISA DESJARDINS: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, we thank you.

LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

The post House decides immigration battle will have to wait with vote to fund Homeland Security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

7 clear ways Ferguson police violated the Constitution, according to DOJ

ferguson-FB2WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation will allege sweeping patterns of discrimination within the Ferguson, Missouri, police department and at the municipal jail and court, law enforcement officials familiar with the report said Tuesday.

The report, which could be released as soon as Wednesday, will charge that police disproportionately use excessive force against blacks and that black drivers are stopped and searched far more often than white motorists, even though they’re less likely to be carrying contraband.

The Justice Department also found that blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge, and that from April to September of last year, 95 percent of people kept at the city jail for more than two days were black, according to the officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record before the report is made public.

The Justice Department began the civil rights investigation following the August shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer. That killing set off weeks of protests.

The officials say the report will allege direct evidence of racial bias among police officers and court workers and detail a criminal justice system that prioritizes generating revenue over public safety.

The months-long investigation also found:

  • Ferguson’s black drivers were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be stopped and searched, according to records over two years. Black drivers were also 26 percent less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
  • According to the police department’s internal records concerning force, 88 percent of those cases involved force against blacks. More so, all 14 canine bite incidents involved blacks.
  • Blacks are 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed in municipal court. An arrest warrant was more likely to be issued for blacks.
  • The Justice Department found that the court uses petty crime charges to pad the city’s budget. As of December 2014, 16,000 out of Ferguson’s 21,000 residents have outstanding warrants for minor violations, including traffic tickets.
  • A racially tinged 2008 message in a municipal email account stating that President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”
  • Over a six-month period in 2014, 95 percent of inmates who spent more than two days in the Ferguson jail were black.
  • Petty offenses disproportionately target black citizens. 95 percent of all “Manner of Walking in Roadway” charges were against blacks.

The department has conducted roughly 20 broad civil rights investigations of police departments during the tenure of Attorney General Eric Holder, including Cleveland, Newark, New Jersey and Albuquerque. Most of those investigations end with the police department agreeing to changes its practices.

The post 7 clear ways Ferguson police violated the Constitution, according to DOJ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CentCom

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (L) listens as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey testifies
         before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2016 on Capitol
         Hill in Washington March 3, 2015.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, listens as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin Dempsey testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington March 3, 2015. At the hearing, top Pentagon Officials said the plans for the Iraqi-led offensive on Mosul should not have been detailed to reporters in mid-February. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

A U.S. military officer’s media briefing about plans for an Iraqi-led ground offensive in Mosul, including its expected timing, amounted to a mistaken disclosure of “military secrets,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Tuesday.

The briefer, whose presentation for reporters at the Pentagon on Feb. 19 was authorized by U.S. Central Command, said the U.S. wanted the Iraqis to launch the offensive in Mosul in April or May, although he also said it might go later.

“That clearly was neither accurate information nor, had it been accurate, would have been information that should be blurted out to the press,” Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “So it’s wrong on both scores.”

It now appears likely that the offensive will not begin this spring, with Iraq’s security forces requiring more time for U.S.-organized training. It has been widely known for months that the offensive is in the planning stages and that it would likely mark a decisive moment in the campaign to dislodge the Islamic State from Iraq.

Islamic State fighters overran Mosul last June. Iraqi government forces folded quickly, leading to the start of a U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq in August.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was testifying alongside Carter, said he had discussed the Mosul briefing with Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of Central Command.

“He’s conducting an internal inquiry,” Dempsey said, adding that he is confident Austin will “take the appropriate action.” He did not say what that might be.

The briefing was done by an officer at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. He spoke by phone to a group of reporters in the Pentagon on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by Central Command.

The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets.

Asked about it by reporters twice last weekend, Carter was more circumspect.

“The important thing is that it will get done when it can be done successfully,” he said last Friday, referring to the Mosul offensive. “And even if I knew exactly when that was going to be, I wouldn’t tell you.” Asked to comment again the following day, Carter said it’s important to keep the public informed, “consistent with security and other considerations.”

On Tuesday he was more pointed and expansive in directly criticizing Central Command.

“It is important that we be open as a department — not with military secrets and not with war plans, which was the mistake made in this case — but we do try to keep the country informed of what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s about protecting them. It is a democracy. And so, openness is important but it has to have limits when it comes to security matters, and those limits obviously weren’t respected in this case.”

The post Pentagon calls Mosul briefing a mistake by CentCom appeared first on PBS NewsHour.