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Huma’s Emails: They’re Baaaaack!

Last Friday, the State Department released 2,800 work-related emails from Huma Abedin that were found by the FBI on the laptop of Abedin’s disgraced husband Anthony Weiner. The emails were released because of the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the conservative group Judicial Watch filed against the State Department.

By Thursday, the number of emails that were deemed to be classified had risen to 18 (last week, the number was only 5). According to Politico, some of these emails deal with:

  • Talks between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas, which the U.S. has classified as a terrorist organization
  • A phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Conversations with the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister

The message with the fewest redactions is from November 2010. It concerns a call to the Prince of Saudi Arabia and Hillary’s talking points about WikiLeaks’ impending release of the documents leaked by former Private Bradley Manning (AKA “Chelsea” Manning). Ed alert: “Remember, we’re such a caring society that if you’re in prison and you want gender reassignment surgery, we pay for it.”

But that’s not all!

  • Huma also forwarded State Department passwords to her personal Yahoo email account before 500 million Yahoo accounts were hacked by foreign agents.
  • What foreign agent? Russian spy Igor Suschin.
  • Who did Igor Suschin work for? Renaissance Capital.
  • What’s Renaissance Capital? A Russian investment bank that paid Bill Clinton $500,000 to give a speech in Moscow in 2010.

Ed alert: “I just follow the bouncing ball. You want to support something worthy? Donate to Judicial Watch. These guys are making sure information comes out.”

Ed’s talking about the conservative group Judicial Watch filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department to get all of Huma’s emails released. Without that lawsuit, we would not know any of this.

Who’s Running for Senate, and Why Should You Care?

The 2018 midterm elections will be enormously important. Here’s what’s up for grabs in November:

  • The entire House of Representatives
  • One-third of the Senate
  • 36 state governorships
  • Many state legislature seats

So we have to start paying attention to who’s running, and we’re already getting a couple of hints. First is Mitt Romney, who is said to be running for the seat that will soon be vacated by Utah’s Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Senate Republican. Ed alert: “If you’re looking for a candidate with no skeletons in his closet, he’s your guy. I think they found he beat up some kid in 6th grade and that’s about it…but in 2016, they asked him to come forward to say what a loser Donald Trump was, and I didn’t appreciate that.”

But Romney’s not the only well-known Republican to consider running for Senate this year. Al Franken resigned as Senator from Minnesota this week, and one well-known Republican who is considering running for the seat is former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann.

New California Laws in 2018

In 2017, California state lawmakers passed nearly 900 bills that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law. Most of them took effect on January 1, 2018. Here are some of the laws taking effect with the new year.

IMMIGRATION

  • Police will no longer be able to ask people about their immigration status or participate in federal immigration enforcement actions under a law, making California a sanctuary state. Ed alert: “Instead of ‘Watch for Falling Rocks Signs,’ we need to make ‘Watch for Falling Home Values’ signs.”
  • The law also allows jail officials to transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities only if they have been convicted of “certain” crimes; as far as we can tell, those crimes are only major felonies. Ed alert: “In California, ‘major felonies’ only means murder someone. I think you’re allowed to shoot cops or rape a woman and it’s not a major felony.”
  • And in a different law, immigration officials will now need a warrant to access employee records, and landlords will be barred from disclosing tenants’ citizenship. Yet another new law will prohibit university officials from cooperating with immigration officers.

CANNABIS

  • Remember voting on Prop 64 in 2016? That’s the bill that legalized the sale of recreational marijuana, and it took effect on January 1st. However, it will still be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana – and this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he will roll back Obama-era policy that helped legal marijuana to thrive at the state level without federal intervention.

EMPLOYMENT

  • The state minimum wage will increase to $10.50 per hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and to $11 per hour for those with 26 or more employees, with the goal being to reach a $15 minimum wage by 2022. Ed alert: “I’m not sure how there should be a difference in minimum wage depending on what the size of the company is.”
  • Small businesses with between 20 and 49 people will have to offer 12 weeks of unpaid maternity and paternity leave to employees.
  • Employers can no longer ask job applicants about their past salaries. Ed alert: “What kind of bull is this? We can’t just talk to people anymore?”
  • California will become the 10th state to require both public- and private-sector employers of five or more employees to delay background checks and inquiries about job applicants’ conviction records until they have made a conditional job offer, a measure known as “ban the box.” Ed alert: “Now we’re not allowed to ask you if you’ve been convicted of a felony. But you know what? We still get to do a background check, and if it comes up that you’ve been convicted of a felony, we’re not going to hire you.”
  • Those arrested but not convicted of a crime may ask a judge to seal their records, a move advocates say will help them get hired.

CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs will start disappearing from shelves because they can no longer meet energy efficiency standards under a 2007 federal law.
  • The regulations take effect nationwide in 2020, but the federal government is letting California impose the higher standards two years early, which is why they are being enforced as of January 1st.
  • The National Electrical Manufacturers Association has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy challenging the law.

EDUCATION

  • The first year of community college may be free for full-time, in-state students under a law that waives the $46 per unit fee for one academic year for first-time students. Lawmakers still must provide the money in the next budget, so technically this has not passed yet.
  • Schools in grades 7-12 must be taught about sexual abuse and human trafficking.
  • Schools will be prohibited from “lunch shaming” (that’s publicly denying lunch to students or providing a snack instead because their parents haven’t paid meal fees).
  • School superintendents can no longer allow people with permits to carry concealed guns on school grounds.

FIREARMS

  • Speaking of guns, proposition 63 took effect on January 1st. That’s the 2016 ballot initiative that says ammunition purchased in another state, online or through a catalog can’t be brought into California except through a licensed ammunition dealer.
  • It also sets a new process and deadlines for gun owners to give up their weapons if they are convicted of a felony or certain violent misdemeanors.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  • Repeat drug offenders will no longer automatically get an additional three years added to their sentences.
  • Officials must consider paroling inmates who are over age 60 or older and have served at least 25 years – or, inmates who are age 80 or older and have served at least 10 years – would be eligible for parole, as long as they have not been sentenced to death or life without possibility of parole. This law is supposed to lead to the creation of a state Elderly Parole Program.
  • Intentionally transmitting the HIV virus is being reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, the same punishment as transmitting other communicable diseases. REALLY?
  • But here’s some good news: Criminals who videotape or stream their crimes on social media could face longer sentences under a law that allows judges to consider the recordings as aggravating factors in sentences for certain violent crimes.

JUVENILE OFFENDERS

  • California inmates serving life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles will get the chance to leave prison after 25 years – and another bill expands California’s “youthful parole” program to age 25. State law already required that inmates who were under 23 when they committed their crimes be considered for parole after serving at least 15 years. Sound redundant?
  • Counties will no longer be able to aggressively collect “cost of care” fees from the parents of juvenile inmates.
  • One more bill will require that records be sealed for dismissed juvenile court petitions or after a juvenile completes a diversion program, while another will let a judge seal juvenile records even for serious or violent offenses after the offender has completed the sentence.

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