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California Policeman Accused In Transient's Beating Death Acted Reasonably: Lawyer

celebrities Credit: Reuters/Pool SANTA ANA, California (Reuters) - A California ex-policeman on trial in the beating death of a mentally ill transient that ignited protests in a Los Angeles suburb acted reasonably and couldn't have known that "catastrophe was around the corner," his lawyer said in closing remarks in the case on Wednesday. Defense attorney John Barnett, who represents former Fullerton policeman Manuel Ramos, said officers believed that 37-year-old Kelly Thomas was dangerous and that they responded according to their training. Ramos, 39, is on trial for second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the case, while Jay Cicinelli, a 41-year-old ex-corporal with the Fullerton Police, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force. Prosecutors accuse the two officers, who approached Thomas near a bus depot on the night of July 5, 2011, to question him about reports of vandalized cars, of turning a routine police encounter into an unnecessary and savage beating that cost the unarmed homeless man his life. The confrontation was captured on video recording from a nearby bus depot and touched off angry protests in the city of Fullerton, as well as the ouster of three city councilman in a recall election. On the recording, Ramos is seen strapping gloves on his hands, balling them into fists in Thomas' face and telling the transient, whom he knew from previous encounters: "You see these fists? They are getting ready to f--- you up." Barnett, in his closing statement, dismissed that remark as sarcasm that wasn't meant to be taken literally and said Ramos was not prepared for the violent melee that would come next.
Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/08/us-usa-beating-police-idUSBREA071HW20140108

California exports jump to pre-recession levels

Documented non-citizens, the second of my categories of immigrants, are usually those who have a green card but have not applied for citizenship. I was surprised to see in the May 2013 report, by Manuel Pastor and Enrico Marcelli titled What's at Stake for the State, that the median number of years these immigrants have been in the country is 19 years. And I wanted to see if they just chose not to apply to citizenship and be naturalized or if there was some other reason. The study shows that the citizen immigrant fairs better than even the U.S.-born, judging by the economic indicators of percentage at least 150 percent above the poverty level (80 percent compared to 77 percent) or percentage with home ownership (64 percent compared to 59 percent). With this picture in mind, broadly speaking the impact of these immigrant populations our society can be characterized in two sharply contrasting ways: Citizen immigrants and documented non-citizens provide a disproportionate number of high performers in the workplace, particularly in the science, technology and math areas.
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sonya-christian/california-dreamers_b_4557696.html

California's Drought - We Can Do More Than Pray for Rain

Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources, left, leads his group out to measure snow levels near Echo Summit on Jan. 3, 2014. (Photo Credit: Steve Yeater/AP) Is our only option praying for rain? While it cant hurt, there are important lessons to be learned from our current dry circumstances about what the earthbound among us should and should not do to help California weather this and future droughts.Here are a few important ones: Conservation and Reduced Reliance on the Delta Work Despite the exceptionally dry conditions, vast regions of the State have no plans to impose water rationing or other mandatory conservation measures this year.The massive Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, serving close to 19 million people, has announced that it has enough water to serve its customers this year without requiring cutbacks in use, despite receiving only a 5% initial allocation from the State Water Project (its primary source of water imported from northern California).Similarly, the Contra Costa Water District in northern California does not expect to ration water to its Bay Area customers this year, despite warnings of very low allocations from the Central Valley Project, a key Contra Costa supplier from the Delta. Whats the secret of thesewater agencies that do not anticipate a problem meeting their customers water demands this year in spite of the record dry conditions?They planned ahead knowing that droughts are a regular and predictable occurrence in California, likely to increase in frequency and duration in a climate changed future and invested in sensible, local site water supply measures that allowed them to reduce their dependence on fickle water supplies from the Delta. Both agencies invested heavily in water use efficiency and conservation measures that have reduced the demand for water from their customers things like high-efficiency showers, low-flow toilets, and drought-resistant landscapes.Contra Costas neighbor at the East Bay Municipal Water District which also expects to meet its customers needs this year without rationing says that such investments have reduced water demands by one-third of what they were 40 years ago. Both agencies have seen a significant increase in water recycling in their districts in recent years, with Orange County operating the largest water recycling plant of its kind in the world. Both agencies invested in significant storage capacity in the last couple decades, with Met building the 800,000 acre-foot Diamond Valley Reservoir, and Contra Costa more than doubling the capacity of the Los Vacqueros Reservoir in Brentwood. Both of these storage projects were built with little opposition and local funds, because they were projects that made sense from an economic and environmental perspective. As reporter Tom Barnidge of the Daily Democrat states: The lesson from all this is that conservation and planning works. Lets take that lesson to heart and expand aggressive statewide investments in conservation, recycling, stormwater capture, and sensible storage, as the Governors draft Water Action Plan proposes to do. 2.
Read more: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kpoole/californias_drought_-_we_can_d.html

California should get on the trade fast track

A rise in manufacturing exports is helping to bring down the state's 8.5% unemployment rate by creating jobs at production plants, logistics and transportation centers and major seaports, said Irena Asmundson, chief economist at the California Finance Department. Agricultural exports, particularly to China, are another bright spot, although they could be threatened by California's severe drought, she said. The North American Free Trade Agreement a trading bloc that includes the United States, Canada and Mexico continues to be important, she said. "We have much stronger ties to Asia than the rest of the United States, and we also have big trade ties with NAFTA," Asmundson said. Although California trade with China and Japan could slow slightly next year, the overall outlook for exports remains upbeat for 2014, said Esmael Adibi, director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University in Orange.
Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-0109-california-exports-20140109,0,6655929.story

In newly solvent California, Dems propose free preschool

The plan by Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg to offer pre-kindergarten to California 4-year-olds comes as he and other Democratic lawmakers try to push Brown to raise spending on social services, including education, in next year's budget. "The era of cutting education in California is over," Steinberg told a news conference at a Sacramento elementary school. "The issue is, how can we prudently invest?" He said children who attend high quality preschools do markedly better throughout their educations, are more likely to attend college and less likely to commit crimes as adults. The proposal marks the latest effort by Democratic lawmakers to stake out progressive political ground at a time when Brown, also a Democrat, has charted a more centrist path. A similar plan is under consideration in the state assembly backed by Democratic Speaker John Perez, a spokesman said. The timing is deliberate -- the governor is expected to release his proposed budget for California's next fiscal year on Friday. His fiscal restraint is widely credited with helping the state emerge from a historic financial crunch and with persuading voters to approve new taxes.
Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/08/us-usa-california-education-idUSBREA0702820140108

California Dreamers: Education for All

More than once I heard from would-be Jeffersonians the lament, "Our biggest export is our children." What Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson told me was typical. He believes that the federal government could be forced to turn over public lands it administers to the new state, which could then monetize its timber stands, mineral wealth and fisheries. "We could create a state that tries to be strongly independent of federal dollars, and based on individual freedom, individual liberty and individual responsibility." The most frequent refrain I heard was that the southern part of the state inhibits the ability of northerners to solve their problems effectively. And it is that sentiment that fuels the cries for secession, which was recently endorsed by the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors by a vote of 4 to 1. Putting aside the unlikelihood of secession something both the Legislature and Congress would have to approve would separation be good for the sparsely populated north? According to figures from the California Department of Finance, the region takes in $20 million or this one so more from the state each year than it contributes.
Read more: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-laufer-jefferson-california-secession-20140109,0,114742.story

California's grumpy secessionists of the far north

But the deals face opposition from powerful interest groups, including union leaders (who fear competition from nonunion businesses) and environmental extremists (who view commerce, manufacturing or any productive economic activity as a sinful celebrities intrusion on the unspoiled state of nature). Trade is more widely supported by congressional Republicans, but even in our own camp 22 House members signed a letter opposing trade promotion authority. Some have expressed concerns about the pact's constitutionality. This is a nonissue, because the agreement retains Congress' authority to approve or reject trade agreements. It merely instructs the executive branch to do three main things: conduct negotiations to achieve certain objectives identified by Congress, consult with Congress during the negotiations and submit the resulting agreement to Congress for approval. Other Republicans seem hostile to trade promotion authority as a result of their opposition to Obama's overall agenda.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/California-should-get-on-the-trade-fast-track-5125724.php

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