In a pants-on-fire moment, the White House press office today denied anyone there had issued threats to remove Carla Marinucci and possibly other Hearst reporters from the press pool covering the President in the Bay Area.
Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib:
Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.
The Chronicle's report is accurate.
If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter.
I was on some of those calls and can confirm Ward's statement.
Messy ball now firmly in White House court.
The White House threatened Thursday to exclude the San Francisco Chronicle from pooled coverage of its events in the Bay Area after the paper posted a video of a protest at a San Francisco fundraiser for President Obama last week, Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee said.White House guidelines governing press coverage of such events are too restrictive, Bushee said, and the newspaper was within its rights to film the protest and post the video.
The White House press office would not speak on the record about the issue.
Chronicle senior political reporter Carla Marinucci was invited by the White House to cover the Obama fundraiser on April 21 on the condition that she send her written report to the White House to distribute to other reporters who did not attend. Such "pool reports" are routinely used for press coverage at White House events that are not open to the entire press corps.
About 200 donors paying $5,000 to $38,500 each attended the event at the St. Regis Hotel in the city, a day after Obama visited Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley touting the proliferation of "new media" breaking the confines of traditional journalism.
At the St. Regis event, a group of protesters who paid collectively $76,000 to attend interrupted Obama with a song complaining about the administration's treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who allegedly leaked U.S. classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
As part of a "print-only pool," Marinucci was limited by White House guidelines to provide a print-only report, but Marinucci also took a video of the protest, which she posted in her written story on the online edition of The Chronicle at SFGate.com and on its politics blog after she sent her written pool report.
Proponents of the ban took 12,265 signatures to the Department of Elections today and should learn within a month whether 7,168 of them indeed came from registered city voters. If so, the city will have another one of its classic only-in-San Francisco measures to debate.
Wearing pins reading "May the foreskin be with you," the backers of the ban gathered at City Hall to turn in their signatures. Then they told reporters more than anybody ever wanted to know about the increasingly controversial procedure.
Jonathon Conte, a 29-year-old resident of the Alamo Square neighborhood, said he personally gathered 300 signatures and wasn't embarrassed to talk to strangers about his foreskin or the lack thereof.
"We have a lot of people in the city who believe boys deserve the same protection as girls," said Conte, who said he's angry that his parents had him circumcised as an infant.
"I discovered my sexuality and body had been impacted by this -- for no reason and without my consent or my input," he said. "To cut any body part off somebody who can't consent to me is just madness. You wouldn't cut off an ear or a finger or a nose."
The ban would outlaw circumcision in the city on any male under 18 years old - even for religious reasons. Breaking the law would count as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time for up to a year. Opponents say the ballot measure would never stand up in court because it violates the freedom of religion clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Naomi Pitcairn, the ringleader of the East Bay serenaders who disrupted President Obama's breakfast fundraiser to protest the treatment of accused WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning, says she's actually a big supporter of the president.
In fact, records show she gave $28,500 to Obama's Victory Fund in 2008.
"He's the best shot we have," said Pitcairn, a fourth-generation heir to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass fortune.
Pitcairn and fellow anti-war activists disrupted Obama's big-ticket gathering at San Francisco's St. Regis Hotel on Thursday with an a cappella song: "We paid our dues ... where's our change?"
The cost of the group's tickets was over $76,000, which Pitcairn said she fully intends to pay.
It wasn't your usual legislative hearing. A group of largely Republican California lawmakers and Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled here last week to hear from businesses that have left their state to set up shop in Texas.
"We came to learn why they would pick up their roots and move in order to grow their businesses," says GOP Assemblyman Dan Logue, who organized the trip. "Why does Chief Executive magazine rate California the worst state for job and business growth and Texas the best state?"
The contrast is undeniable. Texas has added 165,000 jobs during the last three years while California has lost 1.2 million. California's jobless rate is 12% compared to 8% in Texas.
"I don't see this as a partisan issue," Mr. Newsom told reporters before the group met with Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry. The former San Francisco mayor has many philosophical disagreements with Mr. Perry, but he admitted he was "sick and tired" of hearing about the governor's success luring businesses to Texas.
California, by contrast, seems to constantly lose focus. Several Democrats who agreed to go on the Texas trip were pressured by public-employee unions to drop out—and many did. And just as Texas business leaders were testifying about how the state's tort reforms had improved job creation, word came of California's latest priority: On April 14, the state senate passed a bill mandating that all public school children learn the history of disabled and gay Americans.
One speaker from California shook his head in wonder: "You can have the most liberated lifestyle on the planet, but if you can't afford to put gas in your car or a roof over your head it's somewhat limited."
Controversial Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones was ordered taken to the Wayne County Jail after refusing to post a $1 peace bond. However, someone posted the bond on his behalf not long after he was taken into custody.
The development came after a jury found a proposed protest by Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp outside the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the United States, was likely to breach the peace and incite violence.
The jury began debating the case at around 3:30 p.m. Thursday. The main issue of the one day trial was whether or not Jones's main purpose was to say or do something that would incite violence. They came back with their verdict shortly after 6:30 p.m.
Based on the decision Jones was required to submit a peace bond. The judge set the bond at $1. He also ordered that neither Jones nor his associate could enter the property of the Islamic Center of America or the area surrounding it for 3 years..
Obama's two-day trip to California this week has another important purpose - fundraising.
The Democratic presidential candidate will headline six fundraisers in San Francisco and Los Angeles that could raise millions for the Democratic National Committee and his campaign.
The president's trip, his ninth visit to California since he was elected in 2008, will include four events to pick up campaign cash in the Bay Area - including two at Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco expected to draw 2,500 attendees each, with tickets ranging from $25 for general admission to $10,000 for a VIP reception.
A more exclusive gathering will be a private dinner for 60 supporters at the Pacific Heights home of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff that is sold out at $35,800 a seat.
The U.S. government plans to sell a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer despite the disappointing performance of the auto maker's stock, people familiar with the matter said.
A sale within the next several months would almost certainly mean U.S. taxpayers will take a loss on their $50 billion rescue of the Detroit auto maker in 2009.
To break even, the U.S. Treasury would need to sell its remaining stake—about 500 million shares—at $53 apiece. GM closed off 27 cents a share at $29.97 in 4 p.m. trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, hitting a new low since its $33-a-share November initial public offering.
Government officials are willing to take the loss because the Obama administration would like to sever its last ties to the auto maker, the people familiar with the matter said. A summer sale makes it more likely Treasury could sell all of its stake in GM by year's end, avoiding a potentially controversial sale in the 2012 presidential election year.
(Designers have) stormed legislative hearings to warn of the mayhem that would ensue if the measure passes.
Among the scenarios they've conjured: flammable carpets sparking infernos; porous countertops spreading bacteria; jail furnishings being turned into weapons.
The thought of "someone in my position that thinks they know what they're doing because they watched HGTV for two weeks scares me," licensed interior designer Terra Sherlock said at a hearing in March.
Another licensed designer, Michelle Earley, argued that use of the wrong fabrics in hospitals could spread infection. By deregulating, she told lawmakers, "what you're basically doing is contributing to 88,000 deaths every year," citing a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on deaths from hospital-acquired infections.
Though the CDC study doesn't mention interior design as a cause of infections, Ms. Earley says that bacteria can spread if moisture-resistant fabrics aren't used on things like chairs and mattresses. That, in turn, can lead to urinary tract infections, staph and other life-threatening conditions, she says.
Interior design "sounds like this simple hanging curtains on a wall," said Ms. Earley in an interview. But "it only takes a couple things to go wrong for people to lose their lives."
Democrats appear to have recruited retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, setting the stage for the party to field a well-known candidate in the 2012 race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat, confirmed that Democratic Senate campaign chief Patty Murray, D-Wash., was referring to Sanchez on Thursday when she said Democrats were close to announcing a candidate in Texas.
Sanchez, reached by phone at his San Antonio home, asked where the reports of a Senate run came from and then said, "I can neither confirm nor deny."
Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq who was left under a cloud from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, would not discuss the Senate race. But he did respond to questions about his career and political philosophy.
"I would describe myself as during my military career as supporting the president and the Constitution," Sanchez said. "After the military, I decided that socially, I'm a progressive, a fiscal conservative and a strong supporter, obviously, of national defense."
Sanchez, a Rio Grande City native, said he was shaped by his upbringing. "It's my views and my history, having grown up in South Texas, depending on social programs and assistance, that America has a responsibility to its people," he said.
A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.
Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs — Pell grants for poor college students, health research and "Race to the Top" aid for public schools, among others — from Republican knives.
And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous cuts to the Agriculture Department's food inspection program.
The full details of Friday's agreement weren't being released until overnight as it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially "score" as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.
Mr. Obama is conspicuously failing to mount any kind of challenge to the philosophy now dominating Washington discussion — a philosophy that says the poor must accept big cuts in Medicaid and food stamps; the middle class must accept big cuts in Medicare (actually a dismantling of the whole program); and corporations and the rich must accept big cuts in the taxes they have to pay. Shared sacrifice!
I’m not exaggerating. The House budget proposal that was unveiled last week — and was praised as “bold” and “serious” by all of Washington’s Very Serious People — includes savage cuts in Medicaid and other programs that help the neediest, which would among other things deprive 34 million Americans of health insurance. It includes a plan to privatize and defund Medicare that would leave many if not most seniors unable to afford health care. And it includes a plan to sharply cut taxes on corporations and to bring the tax rate on high earners down to its lowest level since 1931.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center puts the revenue loss from these tax cuts at $2.9 trillion over the next decade. House Republicans claim that the tax cuts can be made “revenue neutral” by “broadening the tax base” — that is, by closing loopholes and ending exemptions. But you’d need to close a lot of loopholes to close a $3 trillion gap; for example, even completely eliminating one of the biggest exemptions, the mortgage interest deduction, wouldn’t come close. And G.O.P. leaders have not, of course, called for anything that drastic. I haven’t seen them name any significant exemptions they would end.
You might have expected the president’s team not just to reject this proposal, but to see it as a big fat political target. But while the G.O.P. proposal has drawn fire from a number of Democrats — including a harsh condemnation from Senator Max Baucus, a centrist who has often worked with Republicans — the White House response was a statement from the press secretary expressing mild disapproval.
What’s going on here? Despite the ferocious opposition he has faced since the day he took office, Mr. Obama is clearly still clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences. And his political strategists seem to believe that he can win re-election by positioning himself as being conciliatory and reasonable, by always being willing to compromise.
But if you ask me, I’d say that the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing.
Arab League chief Amr Mussa said on Sunday the organisation will ask the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza, which Israel has pounded with air strikes in response to rocket fire.
Mussa told an emergency meeting of Arab League ambassadors that "the Arab bloc in the United Nations has been directed to ask for the convention of the Security Council to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza and impose a no-fly zone."
Israeli and Palestinian officials were on Sunday floating a ceasefire to end fighting in the coastal strip where Israeli air strikes have killed at least 18 people since Thursday.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of an even stronger response if more rockets are fired from the Palestinian territory controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas.
"This is probably one of the worst times we've seen because the numbers of people elected to Congress. I went through this as co-chair of the arts caucus," Slaughter said, according to a CNS News report. "In '94 people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they're here to kill women.""You are allowed to have an abortion if you have been raped or it's a matter of incest," said Slaughter. "However, you have to keep a receipt. Did you know that? It's sort of like an old German Nazi movie. Show me your papers!"
Ages of Butler's starters in Monday night's game:
- Matt Howard: 22Ages of Oklahoma City's starters, if James Harden were subbed in for Thabo Sefolosha:
- Shawn Vanzant: 22
- Chase Stigall: 21
- Shelvin Mack: 20
- Andrew Smith: 20
- Kendrick Perkins: 26Additionally, in OKC's game in L.A. on Saturday night, the Clippers started three 22-year-olds in Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan, with Eric Bledsoe (21) and Al-Farouq Aminu (20) getting rotation minutes, as well.
- Kevin Durant: 22
- Russell Westbrook: 22
- Serge Ibaka: 21
- James Harden: 21
San Francisco's biggest gang trial in years opened Monday with a federal prosecutor accusing seven men of terrorizing city neighborhoods with assaults, shakedowns and four 2008 murders.
They are "a group that lives, breathes and celebrates violence," said Justice Department attorney Theryn Gibbons.
From the mid-1990s onward, Gibbons said, local leaders of El Salvador-based Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have used fear and intimidation to control their Mission District turf, extort money from drug dealers and phony-document peddlers, and eliminate rivals.
Gang members are initiated by undergoing a brutal beating - which lasts 13 seconds - and then "rise in the ranks through acts of violence," Gibbons said in her opening statement in a U.S. District Court trial that could last six months.
She said their attitude was illustrated by the July 2008 shooting death of Armando Estrada, 30, of Rodeo, a seller of fake documents who had refused to pay "taxes" to MS-13 in its territory.
Gang member Guillermo Herrera, 20, fired a shotgun into the back of Estrada's head in broad daylight at 20th and Mission streets, then got into a car, "pulled down his blue bandana and laughed," the prosecutor said.
The defendants all face life sentences if convicted.
Naturally, this is a case brought by federal prosecutors, and not the local district attorneys office. Former DA Kamala Harris was well known for turning a blind eye to crimes committed by young men of a certain, shall we say, undocumented status. Luckily for us, she left office last fall, but, ha ha, she only left to become California's latest soft-on-crime Attorney General. You'd think her Republican opponent would have made a big deal about her tendency to coddle illegal alien perps (not to mention her low conviction rate and staunch opposition to the death penalty), but loser Steve Cooley is one of those "moderate" types who doesn't like negative campaigning.