HERE WE GO AGAIN: Newsom Orders California Back To Essential Lock Down

SACRAMENTO — California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday issued order that indoor activities and all bar operations be shut down state wide in response to rising Coronavirus numbers.

During a press conference, Newsom declared that all restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment venues, zoos, museums and other indoor public places cease operations and that all bars must close entirely.

As part of Newsom’s order, restaurants will be permitted to provide service for outdoor dining and take-out only.

Further, Newsom ordered fitness centers, places of worship, offices for “non-critical sectors,” personal care services, hair salons, barbershops and malls in 30 counties to shut down entirely. The order encompasses 80 percent of the state, including Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento and San Diego counties.

In his statement, Newsom referenced a California Department of Health’s report which quoted a rise in new cases as the cause of his latest order. Newsom said the state’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases increased this week to 8,211, compared to last week’s total of 7,876.

“This continues to be a deadly disease,” said Newsom.

‘NO WAY!’: Trump Warns Mail In Votes Would Equal ‘Rigged Election’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday shot down plans by California leaders to use mail ballots for the November election, warning that such an option would lead to a “rigged election.”

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed,” the president wrote in a two part tweet. “The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one.”

The president was joined in outrage over the plans by Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, who also criticized the California governor Gavin Newsom’s plan, calling the effort an “absolute, brazen power grab.”

“What he is talking about is just sending ballots directly to registered voters,” McDaniel said during an appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

“In LA [Los Angeles] County alone, there are 1.5 million more registered voters than there are adults in the state because California never cleans up their voter rolls,” McDaniel declared.

On Sunday RNC officials announced they’d filed a lawsuit with the National Republican Congressional Committee and the California Republican Party in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to try and stop the mailed ballots.

“There will be ballots littering the streets,” McDaniel said of the Trump administration’s efforts to prevent mail in ballots. “If you don’t believe me look at what is happening in Nevada … thousands of ballots are littering mailboxes and garbage cans because Clark County did the exact same thing: sent ballots to inactive voters. Not a single state sends ballots to inactive voters. This is frightening and this is why we are suing the governor.”

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BACKING THE BLUE: Officer killed in California bar shooting described as hero

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Friends are remembering sheriff’s sergeant who was killed trying to stop a shooting rampage at a California bar as a “cop’s cop” who didn’t hesitate to run toward danger.

Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus died of gunshot wounds he suffered trying to stop gunman Ian David Long, who authorities say opened fire in a packed country music bar, killing 12 before police believe he turned the gun on himself Wednesday night.

Colleagues of Helus describe him as a friend and an exceptional man and officer.

“The fact that he was the first in the door doesn’t surprise me at all,” sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow said Thursday. “He’s just one of those guys that wouldn’t hesitate in a situation.”

Helus was married with a grown son and took up fly fishing a few years ago, Buschow said. He loved fishing in the Sierra Nevada mountains with his son.

“He was just a great guy, a gentle soul,” Buschow said. “Patient. Calm no matter what. When you call 911, he’s one of the guys you want showing up.”

He said Helus was on the SWAT team for much of his career and worked in narcotics and investigations.

“If you were a victim of a crime, you want him investigating the case,” Buschow said. “He would go to the ends of the Earth to find a suspect. Just an awesome investigator.”

He said he has no doubt Helus’ tactics at the scene “were sound when he went in.”

“But unfortunately, you go into the unknown, you know there’s shots being fired, obviously the suspect was in there and ready for him,” he said.

Sheriff Geoff Dean, who choked back tears while talking about Helus, said his friend had been talking to his wife when the shooting call came in.

″(He) said to her, ‘Hey I got to go handle a call. I love you. I’ll talk to you later,’” Dean said.

Dean said he has no doubt Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer who also was the first to respond “saved lives by going in there and engaging with the suspect.”

He called Helus a hero.

“He went in there to save people and paid the ultimate price,” he said.

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BATTLE FOR THE BORDER: Judge rejects bid to block California ‘sanctuary’ laws

SACRAMENTO, CA (Politico) — A federal judge on Thursday rejected the bulk of a Trump administration demand to block three California sanctuary laws, allowing the state to keep in place its most significant legislative measures aimed at countering President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Sacramento-based U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez rejected, for now, the Justice Department’s drive to halt a California law that limits the kinds of immigration-related information state and local law enforcement can share with federal officials. The judge also declined DOJ’s request to block another law guaranteeing California officials certain information about local and privately run jails that hold immigration detainees in the Golden State.

While the ruling is a setback for the Trump administration’s attempt to enforce immigration laws in states where leaders favor more liberal policies, Mendez did block parts of one of the disputed California laws, including provisions that banned private employers from voluntarily cooperating with immigration officials and from re-verifying the legal work status of employees.

Mendez, an appointee of President George W. Bush, took a narrow view of state and local governments’ obligations to allow their employees to assist federal immigration officials. He said California had broad authority to limit use of its resources for immigration enforcement.

“Refusing to help is not the same as impeding,” wrote Mendez. “Federal objectives will always be furthered if states offer to assist federal efforts. A state’s decision not to assist in those activities will always make the federal object more difficult to attain than it would be otherwise. Standing aside does not equate to standing in the way.”

Justice Department lawyers argued that a 1996 federal law prevents California from blocking disclosure of information helpful to immigration authorities, such as prisoners’ expected release dates and their home addresses. But Mendez said that law covers only records “strictly pertaining to immigration status” and not a broader set of data.

Mendez’s decision denied a preliminary injunction against the most significant provisions the Justice Department challenged in a suit filed with fanfare last March. The ruling doesn’t eliminate the possibility that the federal government could prevail in more aspects of the suit in the future, but it leaves the administration without much of the immediate relief it wanted.

A Justice Department spokesman had no immediate comment on the decision.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, whose office defended the laws, hailed the ruling.

“The right of states to determine how to provide public safety and general welfare to their people continues to stand strong,” Becerra said in a statement.

The author of the law limiting information-sharing with federal officials, California state Sen. Kevin De Léon, tied the judge’s decision to the outcry over Trump’s move to separate some immigrant parents from their children.

“Today, a federal judge made clear what I’ve known all along, that SB 54, the California Values Act is constitutional and does not conflict with federal law,” De Léon said. “California is under no obligation to assist Trump tear apart families. We cannot stop his mean-spirited immigration policies, but we don’t have to help him, and we won’t.”

Mendez said he hoped his ruling would be seen as a legal one, not a political one, and he said “piecemeal opinions” from judge will not resolve hot-button immigration debates.

“This Order hopefully will not be viewed through a political lens and this Court expresses no views on the soundness of the policies or statutes involved in this lawsuit. There is no place for politics in our judicial system and this one opinion will neither define nor solve the complicated immigration issues currently facing our Nation,” wrote the judge, who added that he ruled “without concern for any possible political consequences.”

The judge closed his opinion with a strong exhortation to Congress and the White House to enact legislation addressing the most contentious disputes relating to immigration policy.

“This Court joins the ever-growing chorus of Federal Judges in urging our elected officials to set aside the partisan and polarizing politics dominating the current immigration debate and work in a cooperative and bi-partisan fashion toward drafting and passing legislation that addresses this critical political issue,” Mendez wrote. “Our Nation deserves it. Our Constitution demands it.”

Politico’s Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD SMACKDOWN: SCOTUS rules in favor of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in battle over First Amendment

Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers affirming that a California law passed in 2015, which requires the centers to inform clients about free or low-cost abortion services, violates the centers’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court invalidated the California law, putting in peril similar laws on the books in Hawaii and Illinois.

The Golden State law, which targeted centers that provide abortion alternative counseling, mandated that such centers prominently post information on how to obtain abortion and contraception.

Centers that failed to comply with the law were fined $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, under California law.

Pro-life groups fiercely challenged the regulations, arguing that they violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The court concurred. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously rejected that argument.

“California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” Justice Clarence Thomas said in his majority opinion, referring to the regulations as “unjustified and unduly burdensome.”

Thomas was joined in his findings by fellow conservative justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan each dissented.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spoke out after the high court’s decision was announced, calling the ruling “unfortunate.”

“When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women — regardless of their economic background or zip code — deserve access to critical and non-biased information to make their own informed decisions,” Becerra said in a statement.

“Today’s Court ruling is unfortunate, but our work to ensure that Californians receive accurate information about their healthcare options will continue.”

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HANDCUFFING THE POLICE: California moves to limit use of force by law enforcement

Sacramento, CA (Sacratmento Bee) — Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a proposal that would restrict the circumstances under which California police officers could use deadly force.

Assembly Bill 931, which would raise the standard for lethal use of force from “reasonable” to “necessary,” passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on an initial vote of 5-1.

It was the first hearing for the controversial measure, which has raised sharp objections from law enforcement groups that contend it would put officers’ lives in danger. Under the bill, deadly force could be justified only if there were no reasonable alternatives.

“We ask officers to run toward danger and sacrifice their safety,” Cory Salzillo of the California State Sheriffs’ Association said. It would be “unfair” to ask them to do so when an after-the-fact analysis might undermine their actions in the field, he added.

Supporters filled the committee room, many of them carrying pictures of friends and family members who had been killed by police. Several lawmakers expressed that the bill was necessary to address a deeper problem of racism in policing.

“It always blows me away that law enforcement only fear for their life when they are facing black and brown people,” Sen. Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, said.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, introduced AB 931 in April, after the death of Stephon Clark in south Sacramento. Clark was shot 20 times in his backyard by police officers who said they thought the cellphone in his hand was a gun.

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SANCTUARY STATE GONE WILD: California to Give free healthcare to all illegals

Sacramento, Ca. (Politico) — California is poised to become the first state in the nation to offer full health coverage to undocumented adults even as the Trump administration intensifies its crackdown by separating families at the border.

The proposal — which would build on Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015 decision to extend health coverage to all children, regardless of immigration status — is one of the most daring examples yet of blue-state Democrats thumbing their nose at President Donald Trump as they pursue diametrically opposed policies, whether on immigration, climate change, legalized marijuana or health care.

“California has never waited for the federal government, or for a political climate, to be able to take leadership on a whole host of issues,” state Sen. Ricardo Lara, author of the state Senate bill to extend Medicaid coverage to all adults, told POLITICO.

But at a time when Trump is already attempting to re-energize state Republican voters — he met with California conservatives at the White House last week to strategize against the state’s sanctuary policies — the initiative might be risky. For starters, it will be costly: The annual price tag to expand Medicaid benefits to poor adult immigrants without legal status is projected at $3 billion annually. Some also worry that extending health coverage could make California a magnet for undocumented immigrants from other states.

“It would give Republicans relevance in California they would never have before,” said David McCuan, a political analyst and political science professor at Sonoma State University. He suggested the proposal would energize Republican voters, who make up a quarter of the electorate, as well as conservative-leaning unaffiliated voters.

Any meaningful opposition could slow the plan’s progress through the state Legislature despite its strong backing from Democrats, providers and advocates for the poor.

Brown, who is leaving office later this year and has not yet committed to the plan, is required by law to sign or veto bills passed this session by Sept. 30, just five weeks before the midterm elections. And the injection of immigration politics into the universal health care debate will likely provide talking points for both parties.

“It seems to me astounding that California could consider an expansion like this at this particular moment,” said Paul Ginsburg, director of the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. He described the plan as “fiscally very dangerous” given California’s fragile long-term financial outlook and the potential negative effects of the Republican tax overhaul on the state’s budget.

But Lara, the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants who grew up without health coverage, contended the state is already paying for health care for the undocumented in the most expensive way possible, through hospital emergency rooms. He pushed unsuccessfully for a single payer health plan for California last year, and argues California needs to be a laboratory for social change by taking the lead on progressive causes.

“We are trying to address the fact that, whether you like it or not,” he said, “our undocumented community needs the care, and we are paying for it anyway.”

Democrats say they want to build on the coverage gains made under Obamacare by targeting the state’s nearly 3 million remaining uninsured — about 60 percent of whom are undocumented immigrants and 1.2 million of whom would qualify for the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, based on their incomes. Companion bills in the state Assembly and Senate have easily passed their respective health committees with party-line votes.

Still, the latest revisions to Brown’s proposed budget last week did not include significant increases in health spending — a move that frustrated some backers of the expansion, who note the state’s budget surplus has swelled to nearly $9 billion — about $3 billion more than expected.

“It’s doable for a fraction of the budget surplus we have,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a consumer advocacy coalition. “We recognize if we were to do so, we would be the first state to expand Medicaid to an [undocumented] adult population.”

Wright acknowledged the price tag may look alarming but said it should be viewed within the context of Medi-Cal’s $100 billion budget. He also emphasized that covering only poor young people and the elderly — which the budget forecasts estimated at $140 million and $330 million, respectively — could be more achievable in the short term. A Senate health budget sub-committee on Thursday recommended covering undocumented adults over age 65 as part of the Senate funding package to be considered during negotiations.

California already provides emergency and pregnancy-related Medi-Cal benefits for undocumented immigrants to the tune of about $1.7 billion annually. The $3 billion for full Medi-Cal benefits assumes that all eligible adults would enroll in the program over 12 months, which is unlikely.

Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, said the cost debate must take into account the measure’s broader benefits, including increased worker productivity and improved community health.

“Since most undocumented immigrants are productive members of society, it would, of course, be much better to give them all a path to citizenship and immediately naturalize them to make it easier for them to buy regular health insurance,” Weinberg said. “But just because we have bad immigration policy does not mean we shouldn’t have good health policy. And truly universal coverage is good health policy.”

Other health economists struck a more cautious note.

Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford physician and health economist, said the plan should have a dedicated funding source, which could mean higher taxes. “Looking at the current surplus and saying we’re likely to have that forever so we should spend more doesn’t seem like a wise idea to me,” Bhattacharya said.

Bhattacharya also expressed concerns that the extension could exacerbate the state’s illegal immigration problems. “If you make a program like this available, undocumented workers in other states might be attracted to California because of this,” he said.

But Lara insisted the bill is not only a long-term cost-saver, it’s the right thing to do.

“All you have to do is say ‘immigration’ in Washington, D.C., and everyone runs to their respective corners,” he said. “That doesn’t happen in California.”

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GOLDEN STATE IN CHAOS: California appoints illegal alien to State Office

SACRAMENTO, CA — The State of California has appointed its first illegal alien to state office.

Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. illegally at the age of 14, has been to the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee by Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D)- Los Angeles, according to a report published by The Sacramento Bee.

Claiming illegal aliens are not adequately represented in state government, Mateo said her appointment marks a step towards correcting that “injustice”.

“While undocumented students have become more visible in our state, they remain underrepresented in places where decisions that affect them are being made,” Mateo told Fox News.

De León, who is challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for her U.S. Senate seat, referred to Mateo as a kind of anti-Trump and mocked the president’s efforts to build a wall dividing the southern U.S. from Mexico.

“While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities,” de León said in released statement. “Ms. Mateo is a courageous, determined and intelligent young woman who at great personal risk has dedicated herself to fight for those seeking their rightful place in this country.”

According to León’s office, Mateo took and passed the California state bar exam in 2017 after graduating from California’s Santa Clara University School of Law in 2016.

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WAR ON SCHAAF: Trump takes on Oakland mayor in sanctuary city showdown

OAKLAND, CA — President Donald Trump stepped up his efforts Thursday to take down Oakland, California Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Schaaf, who last month warned thousands of illegal immigrants in her city of a pending ICE raid, has openly defied federal orders to comply with immigration officials.

“Oakland police officers are prohibited from participating in ICE activities,” Schaaf stated in a press release issued on February 24, adding that she wanted city residents “to prepare, not panic.”

Despite facing immense backlash, Schaff doubled down on her stance Tuesday, saying Oakland would “continue to inform all residents about their constitutional rights.”

In response, the president said Thursday its time to make an example of public officials who “harbor dangerous criminals” by standing in the way of arrests and deportations and called Schaaf’s actions “a disgrace”.

Federal officials were prepared to take nearly 1,000 illegal immigrants into custody last month, Trump said during Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, but Schaaf’s heads-up allowed all but 150 to escape.

“Many of them, they say 85 percent of them, were criminals and had criminal records,’ the president said. “This was long in the planning, and she said, “Get out of here.” And she’s telling that to criminals. And it’s certainly something that we’re looking at, with respect to her individually.”

Trump also said the U.S. government may cut off funding to states who refuse to comply with federal immigration enforcement.

“I do think we should have legislation where we put an extra line in the money that we give them. You want the money? You can’t have the sanctuary cities,” said Trump. “That way we avoid the court battles all the time – which we probably will win, but who needs it?”

The president’s comments come just one day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed suit against the state of California over its sanctuary city policies.

In announcing the Justice Department’s lawsuit against California on Wednesday, Sessions also targeted Schaaf.

“Her actions support those who flout the law and boldly validate illegality,” Sessions said of the Oakland mayor. “There’s no other way to interpret those remarks.”

“Here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf,” Sessions continued. “How dare you? How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement officers to promote your radical open borders agenda?”

“Immigration law is the province of the federal government. It’s in the Constitution,” Sessions told the California Peace Officers Association.

“I don’t want to be in this position of having to challenge these laws,” he added. “It wasn’t something I chose to do, but I can’t sit by idly while the lawful authorities of federal officers are being blocked by legislative actions and politicians.”

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GUN GRABS BEGIN: States seizing guns from firearm owners they deem ‘dangerous’

SAN DIEGO, CA — Since January, states with so-called “red flag” laws have begun confiscating firearms from individuals they consider “dangerous”.

Within the last two months, police officials in California have seized guns from individuals they deemed an immediate threat, among them, a 38-year-old man who they say had threatened his wife after an incidence of domestic violence, a 23-year-old ex-Marine who, authorities claim, had developed paranoia and a 39-year-old man who was reported by neighbors for firing his weapon in his own backyard.

The move toward seizing guns has reached a fever pitch in the wake of such high profile mass shootings as the Las Vegas massacre and Parkland, Florida high school shooting and, experts say, it’s only the beginning.

Red flag laws, which are on the books in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington State, allow law enforcement officials to remove guns from people deemed by a judge to be dangerous. Similar measures are being considered in more than a dozen additional states including Hawaii and Pennsylvania.

“The reason I like gun violence restraining orders as an option is that we can use them even if the person hasn’t been convicted of a crime,” Mara W. Elliott, the San Diego city attorney, told The New York Times (https://tinyurl.com/y85sc9eb). But many Republicans oppose the new laws, Many Republicans oppose red flag laws and argue that a judge’s order to seize a person’s weapon may violate Second Amendment rights when no crime has been committed.

In a statement on its website shortly after Oregon passed the new law, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action called it a violation of due process.

“Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 719A. Based on a California law enacted in 2014, SB 719A will create a so-called “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) that could be obtained by a law enforcement officer, family member, or household member in an ex parte hearing to deprive someone of their Second Amendment rights without due process of the law,” the statement reads (https://tinyurl.com/yckwha9j).

“By allowing a law enforcement officer, family member, or household member to seek the ERPO, SB 719A will allow people who are not mental health professionals, who may be mistaken, and who may only have minimal contact with the respondent to file a petition with the court and testify on the respondent’s state of mind. This ex parte order, which strips the accused of their Second Amendment rights, will be issued by a judge based on the brief statement of the petitioner. The accused will not be afforded the chance to appear in court to defend themselves against the allegations when the ERPO is issued. These orders may be issued without any allegations of criminal behavior,” the statement continues.

Ramesh Ponnuru, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group, says that more laws that restrict the rights of those not convicted of a crime, is not the answer.

“This is a country with hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, and that fact imposes real constraints on what policy can achieve and on what kind of policy makes sense,” said Ponnuru. No one, Ponnuru added, should expect any one law to fix everything. “Realism is the right attitude,” he said.

Brad Banks, an Indianapolis criminal law attorney at Banks & Brower, says in his state, the law appears to be working.

“It’s fair and balanced and addresses the immediate need of protecting people with significant mental impairment but also has safeguards for the court to review” whether an individual should have the firearms returned, Banks told the Indy Star (https://tinyurl.com/y73qbuuc).

During a roundtable meeting at the White House this week, President Donald Trump met with state leaders and gun victims to discuss the effectiveness of such laws and to determine what steps need to be taken to prevent further mass shootings.

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