California’s great Sierra forests are dying. We all have a stake in saving them: Given the huge sums California has spent staving off wildfires, curbing greenhouse gas and ensuring clean air and clean water, it is surprising that more attention hasn’t been paid to the one factor those challenges have in common: trees. California’s forests, and in particular the massive forests of the Sierra Nevada, play a role that is as critical to California’s environment as it is misunderstood and taken for granted. Now a report issued Monday by the governmental watchdog Little Hoover Commission sounds the alarm on the state of the state’s forests, noting something we have warned of before: The Sierra Nevada forests are being mismanaged in ways that affect every Californian. Our approach must change. Read more.
Jack Ohman suggests how people could spend the $1.50 a week in tax cuts House Speaker Paul Ryan was bragging about. See more.
Erwin Chemerinsky: It is increasingly clear that President Donald Trump and the Republicans are engaging in a campaign to smear and discredit special prosecutor Robert Mueller. All of this is an effort to undermine an investigation into whether serious federal crimes occurred that potentially implicate individuals at the highest levels of the government, including Trump and members of his family. How Rep. Devin Nunes attacks the Constitution when he tries to smear Mueller’s Russia probe. Read more.
Sasha Abramsky: I wonder, these days, if the American president is an android. It is a question that has intrigued me since I read, a few weeks back, Philip K. Dick’s classic sci-fi novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. The book, published in 1968 and later adapted into the movie “Blade Runner,” is set in what was then the distant future, in the year 2021. If empathy defines humanity, how is a narcissistic president who lacks it any more human than a machine? Read more.
Jane Braxton Little: An iconic bird of California is heading for its last dance as climate change and drought dry the state’s lakes. Read more.
Columns & op-eds
Marcos Breton: Sacramento County may arm hotel maids with panic buttons to protect them from sexual harassment and abuse. Read more.
Aaron Fischer and Tifanei Ressl-Moyer: People with disabilities encounter law enforcement at a disproportionately high rate, sometimes with tragic results. To improve the criminal justice system, we must understand that disparities influenced by disability, race and gender are deeply intertwined. Read more.
Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: There is no question that China is gaining ground in Latin America. While Latin America bought 50 percent of its total imports from the United States in 2000, that percentage has gone down to only 33 percent today. Read more.
Take a number: Devin Nunes
As Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, fight over House Intelligence matters, voters might be forgiven for thinking they come from parallel universes. And though their districts aren’t all that far from one another, you’d never guess they’re both Californians. Here are some numbers, gleaned from the California Target Book, illustrating how different their districts are: Read more.
Raleigh News & Observer: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., is a cautious guy. That’s a good trait for the senator leading his chamber’s Intelligence Committee. In keeping with his deliberate style, Burr hasn’t commented on the report released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare. Burr’s staff said Monday he would have no comment, citing his committee’s ongoing investigation. But Burr would serve the country well during this super-heated moment by lending his measured voice to correct some of the inflammatory remarks made by elected officials, especially President Donald Trump. Read more.
Kansas City Star: while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are making many fewer arrests at the border under President Donald Trump — arrests and removals there were down 17 percent — deportations of those already living in the United States were up by a quarter. Unfortunately, we’re now kicking out many more non-criminals like Syed Ahmed Jamal, the father, chemist and soccer coach from Bangladesh who was handcuffed outside his Lawrence home last month as he was leaving to take his seventh-grade daughter to school. Read more.
Los Angeles Times: Facing off in recent debates, the four Democrats and two Republicans leading the race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown have sparred on the hot topics of the moment: President Donald Trump, of course, as well as immigration, climate change, the proposed border wall, single-payer healthcare and the candidates’ own history of smoking marijuana. But it’s time for the gubernatorial candidates to address less sexy but equally important issues facing the Golden State. Read more.
Orange County Register: California’s annual state payroll grew by 6 percent in 2017, an increase of $1 billion and twice the rate of growth of the previous year. The reason? Generous new labor contracts for 13 of the states 21 employee bargaining units, representing more than 60 percent of California’s state workers, excluding university employees. Read more.
San Diego Union-Tribune: President Donald Trump’s promise to “fully fund” the U.S. military won cheers from Republicans during his State of the Union speech Tuesday, and likely on U.S. military bases in San Diego County and around the world as well. But among the seeming relative handful of Americans who worry that our nation is on track for a spectacular debt meltdown, the president’s remark amounted to a reminder of our national leaders’ indifference to the mass societal pain that awaits unless the federal government stops chronically spending much more money than it takes in. Read more.
San Jose Mercury News: Let’s hope Elon Musk grows up. The creator of Tesla and SpaceX demonstrated that he’s a self-centered child in a grownup’s body with his reckless pre-sale last month of 20,000 flamethrowers. While the creator of Tesla and SpaceX deserves much credit as a visionary who has led the way with electric-vehicle development and the next generation of rockets, his fire-producing devices designed to look like military artillery undermine that reputation. Read more.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat: The outlook for the Sonoma County’s economy is positive on many fronts. Employment has never been higher. Wages are climbing, and tourism is projected to continue to grow, particularly for the area’s emerging cannabis industry. But the challenge that weighs heavily on the hearts of locals also weighs on the economy – the unknowns ahead concerning efforts to rebuild and rebound from the fires of October. Read more.
Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg View: President Donald Trump seems much more likely to get no deal than to get one that cuts legal immigration. Yet focusing on this fact risks obscuring Trump’s triumph in pulling the debate in a restrictionist direction. Read more.
Charles M. Blow, New York Times: President Donald Trump is incensed by the threat of the Russia investigation and is shifting every lever of power to thwart it. His own survival, and that of his family and empire, is all that matters. Read more.
Paul Krugman, New York Times: Market turmoil should make us take a hard look at the economy’s prospects. And what the data say is that at the very least America is heading for a downshift in its growth rate. Read more.
David Leonhardt, New York Times: If you spend any time on planes, you’ve probably noticed the surge of animals. There have been pigs, monkeys, turkeys, snakes and oh-so-many dogs, often sprawled across crowded cabins. The number of problems is rising, too. Read more.
Petula Dvorak, Washington Post: First lady Melania Trump is an immigrant who made it in a cutthroat industry. She is capable of tackling tough issues, of respecting the responsibility and opportunity she’s been given. And yet she hasn’t. Read more.
Michael Gerson, Washington Post: The existence of reckless partisans such as Rep. Devin Nunes is hardly surprising. The nearly uniform cowardice among elected Republicans is staggering. The Republican-led Congress is now an adjunct of the White House. Read more.
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: It’s simply not possible, on any level, to take seriously the histrionics from President Donald Trump and his true-believer allies over the Nunes memo – except as evidence of how far the GOP has plunged into cynicism and madness. Read more.
Paul Waldman, Washington Post: It wouldn’t be that hard to come up with an immigration compromise both Democrats and Republicans could live with. The problem is that there are just too many points at which a deal can be shot down, and not enough reason for Republicans to feel as if they have no choice but to come to an agreement. Read more.
Tweet of the day
“Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!” – President Donald Trump, @realDonaldTrump