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Ultimate Resource For What’s Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Originally seeking to define digital assets, the bill now orders for a study to look at the impact of digital assets if these were securities. Ultimate Resource For What’s Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)


California’s Senate Banking and Financial Institutions committee has passed a bill seeking to define digital assets and measure its impact on the state and consumer protections.

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Ultimate Resource On California’s (And Other States, Countries) User Data Privacy Laws

California Legalizes Public Banking!!!!

Assembly Bill 2150, which can potentially influence how federal regulators approach digital assets, unanimously passed the Senate’s Banking and Financial Institutions committee. It will be discussed in the Committee on Appropriations as early as August 17. The bill had previously passed the California Assembly before moving to the Senate.

The bill, first proposed by California Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, initially sought to presume digital assets are not securities. However, amendments to the bill by the Senate refrained from further defining digital assets and tokens. It now focuses on directing the Department of Business Oversight to conduct a study to see if California can enact policies similar to the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Proposed Securities Act Rule 195- Time Limited Exemption for Tokens.

The study wants to see how treating digital assets as securities for a limited amount of time can impact consumer protections, benefits to the state, and hat the minimum standards to meet the exemptions.

The Department of Business Oversight must also provide suggestions for regulatory frameworks and define key terms. The report should be presented to the California Legislature on or before January 1, 2022.

SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce proposed the token exemption back in February though the regulatory body has not officially enacted it.

Updated: 9-29-2020

California Governor Signs Law Bringing State ‘New Tools’ To Regulate Crypto

The California department responsible for the regulation of financial services will soon have more powers to supervise the cryptocurrency industry.

* California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Friday to rename the California Department of Business Oversight as the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

* The bill (AB 1864), introduced by lead author Assemblywoman Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) on Jan. 7, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

* The changes will equip the regulator with “new tools to shape the regulation of virtual currency,” the department’s
commissioner, Manuel P. Alvarez, told CoinDesk via email.

* The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law will, among other things, provide the department with greater enforcement powers designed to protect Californians from “pandemic-inspired scams,” per a Friday press release.

* The move means the department will have new regulatory authority to begin cracking down on deceptive or abusive practices undertaken by unlicensed financial services or products.

* But the new law will also see the creation of an Office of Financial Technology Innovation designed to engage with new industries and consumer advocates to encourage consumer-friendly innovation and job creation within the state.

* In addition, a new Division of Consumer Financial Protection will be created to monitor markets, with a research arm that will keep up with emerging financial products such as cryptocurrencies.

* With the expansion of the department, 90 additional employees will be added to the government payroll representing a 13% increase in staffing.

* The legislation would allow his department to increase consumer protections without hamstringing “honest and fair operations,” Alvarez said.

Updated: 6-30-2021

San Jose To Require Gun Owners To Carry Liability Insurance

San Jose officials have passed the first law in the country that requires gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay a fee to cover taxpayers’ costs associated with gun violence.

San Jose officials have passed the first law in the nation that requires gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay a fee to cover taxpayers’ costs associated with gun violence.

The new law was unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday, a month after a disgruntled San Jose rail yard employee fatally shot nine of his co-workers and then himself at the rail yard, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Mayor Sam Liccardo praised the measures and said gun owners who do not comply with the new rules shouldn’t have guns.

“We won’t magically end gun violence, but we stop paying for it,” Liccardo said in a statement.

The new law is part of a 10-point gun control plan that Liccardo unveiled following the May 26 mass shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard.

Officials have not decided how much gun owners will be required to pay in fees. They would be used to cover the direct costs of gun violence to city taxpayers for services that include police response, ambulance transport and gunshot-related medical treatment for victims.

The fees would be determined upon completion of a gun harm study from the Pacific Institute on Research and Evaluation, a group that promotes individual and public health, welfare, and safety.

In a preliminary report released ahead of the vote, the institute estimated that gun-related homicides, suicides and other shootings cost San Jose around $63 million annually. A more thorough study is expected to be completed in the fall.

Jaime Bellemare of Brady United Against Gun Violence, the national nonprofit that advocates against gun violence, said there have been other similar laws proposed but San Jose is the first city in the country to have passed one.

One challenge to enforce the law will be in determining how to administer the new liability insurance and fee requirements.

City officials know how many guns were purchased in San Jose since 2001, Liccardo said, but the city has no gun registry and no way to track gun owners.

Earlier this month, city lawmakers passed a new law requiring all retailers to record video and audio of all firearm purchases. San Jose became the largest California city with such a rule.

Updated: 9-18-2021

California Named ‘Most Crypto Ready’ US State

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Measures such as Google searches, Bitcoin ATM installations and the number of crypto-focused bills were used to tabulate the crypto-ready index.

California has emerged as the most crypto-ready jurisdiction in the United States thanks to the proliferation of cryptocurrency ATMs and growing interest in digital assets among the state’s population, according to new industry research from review site Crypto Head.

With a score of 5.72 out of 10, California edged out New Jersey (5.44), Texas (5.28), Florida (5.03) and New York (4.29) in the crypto-ready index. The state’s point total was also 2.54 points higher than the national average.

The results were tabulated using metrics such as crypto-related Google searches, the presence of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrency ATMs and the number of blockchain-related bills passed in each state. California ranked first in crypto-related Google searches per 100,000 and in the number of crypto ATMs. These positive factors offset the lack of crypto-focused legislation in the state.

By comparison, New York has passed eight crypto-focused bills but was 33rd in terms of crypto ATM installations. New Jersey has the highest number of crypto ATM installations per 10,000 square miles and scored third-highest for searches per 100,000 people. Texas and Florida also scored well with respect to ATMs and overall searches.

Despite regulatory uncertainty and a looming infrastructure bill that could affect key segments of the blockchain economy, the United States continues to be a global leader in cryptocurrency adoption. In 2020, BTC trade volumes in the U.S. exceeded those of Europe, Nigeria and China combined. For the same year, Americans booked $4.1 billion in realized profits on their crypto trades, far exceeding any other country. The U.S. also leads the globe in Bitcoin ATMs, accounting for a whopping 86.4% of total installations, according to industry sources.

Crypto’s success in the United States largely stems from its status as an investable asset class. As such, other adoption metrics don’t rank nearly as high. In August, financial comparison website Finder ranked the U.S. 26th out of 27 countries in terms of crypto ownership among residents. Emerging markets that depend more heavily on remittances — such as those in Southeast Asia and Latin America — ranked much higher.

Updated: 9-22-2021

California To Send $500 – $1,100 Stimulus Payments To Millions

Here’s when the next batch of California stimulus checks will be released.

The third batch of California stimulus checks, also known as the Golden State Stimulus, will be sent out at the start of October, the California Franchise Tax Board said.

The payments will be sent out on Oct. 5, according to the Franchise Tax Board, which could not immediately provide an estimate for the size of the batch. For reference, the last batch went out to 2 million Californians, and the one before that went out to 600,000. It’s estimated that about 9 million Californians are eligible for the payments.

This round of payments will also include mailed paper checks, rather than just direct deposits.

The Franchise Tax Board previously said that payments would be sent in two-week intervals. The previous payments were sent on Aug. 27 and Sept. 17. In other words, it may take some time for your check to reach your mailbox.

Wondering how much you’ll receive? The Tax Board has a handy tool on its website that helps you determine the amount.

Generally, if you qualified for the first Golden State Stimulus payment and claimed a credit of one or more dependents, you’ll receive $500. If you did not qualify for that stimulus payment and did not claim a credit of one or more dependents, you’ll receive $600. If you did not qualify for that stimulus and claimed one or more dependents, you could receive $1,100. Lastly, if you qualified for the stimulus and did not claim a credit for one or more dependents, you do not qualify for the second stimulus payment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill July 12 that includes $12 billion in relief for families “hit hardest by the pandemic.”

“The state is taking on the inequities laid bare by the pandemic, expanding our support for Californians facing the greatest hardship,” Newsom said at the time.

The funds were drawn from federal recovery funds and California’s budget surplus. Newsom said about two-thirds of residents will be eligible for the $600 payments. Those with children will receive an additional $500.

Tesla Is Building A New Battery Factory In California

A California mayor said Tesla Inc. broke ground in his city on what it calls a new “Megafactory,” praising the planned facility in a Facebook post that was deleted and is now visible again.

“We are proud to be the home of the Megafactory, Tesla’s most recent expansion here,” Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal wrote in the post. “The future of green energy will be produced right here in our community.”

The plan is for a factory expansion to make Megapacks, the energy-storage product Tesla sells to utilities. Lathrop, in San Joaquin County, has long been home to the company’s warehouses and logistical operations. Tesla’s flagship U.S. auto plant is in Fremont in neighboring Alameda County. The company is based in Palo Alto.

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Tesla, which currently manufactures battery packs at a plant in Nevada, didn’t respond to a request for comment, and the mayor’s office didn’t respond to questions about why the original post was taken down.

An expansion in Lathrop, a city of more than 24,000, would be a good sign that California is still a key part of Tesla’s footprint.

After Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk moved to Texas in December and criticized California policies, there was concern Tesla’s operations might leave the state. The company is building a new factory for production of the Model Y and Cybertruck in Austin.

While Tesla is known for its electric vehicles, it’s always been more than a car company: Its official mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Utility-scale batteries are needed to store the electricity produced by wind and solar.

PG&E Corp. and Tesla have constructed a 182.5 megawatt system at an electric substation in Moss Landing, near Monterey, that should be operational later this year.


Updated: 9-23-2021

Gov. Newsom Signs Privacy Laws For Abortion Providers And Patients

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two laws on Wednesday that aim to protect the privacy of abortion providers and their patients, declaring California to be a “reproductive freedom state” while drawing a sharp contrast with Texas and its efforts to limit the procedure.

One law makes it a crime to film people within 100 feet of an abortion clinic for the purpose of intimidation — a law abortion rights groups believe to be the first of its kind in the country. The other law makes it easier for people on their parents’ insurance plans to keep sensitive medical information secret, including abortions.

The laws, coupled with Newsom’s comments, have only intensified the political rivalry between the nation’s two most populous states. California and Texas have become bastions of their respective political ideologies, with each state carving out opposing positions on issues including health care, immigration and the environment.

That rivalry has come into sharper focus recently with a new Texas law that bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to let the law take effect for now, banning most abortions in the state.

“These are dark days. I don’t think one can understate the consequential nature of the moment that we are living in,” Newsom said. “It becomes of outsized importance that California assert itself.”

It’s already illegal in California to post personal information about abortion providers or their patients online. But that law hasn’t been updated since the mid-2000s, before the proliferation of smart phones with high-tech cameras that can rapidly post to social media websites.

The new law authored by state Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from Orinda, makes it a misdemeanor to film someone without their consent for the purpose of intimidation. Offenders can be punished by up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

The law also requires extensive training for local law enforcement agencies on how to enforce it.

“We’re upping the ante. We’re saying in California we will not accept that our reproductive health care providers and patients be subject to threats both online and in person,” Bauer-Kahan said.

The Pacific Justice Institute, a conservative legal defense organization, opposed the bill. In a letter to lawmakers, the group said violence is “outside the bounds of legitimate political discourse regardless of who perpetrates it.”

“At the same time, spirited debate must not be punished or stifled by merely relabeling it as intimidating or threatening, based on the viewpoint of the speaker,” the group wrote.

Newsom also signed a law on Wednesday making it easier for people who are still on their parents’ health plans to keep their medical treatment secret. State and federal law already provide privacy protections for people who are not the primary policyholder on a health insurance plan.

But state Assemblyman David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, said patients had to request that confidentiality, and the law has not been consistently enforced.

This new law, authored by Chiu, requires insurance companies in California to automatically keep certain medical procedures confidential — including abortions. Chiu said the bill is important now because the federal Affordable Care Act lets people stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.

“This violation of privacy has put them in a terrible and, in some instances, an even dangerous position,” Chiu said. “If you’re receiving sensitive health services, only you should get confidential communications about it.”

Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, said the bill should have distinguished between a 25-year-old on their parents’ health plan and a 12-year-old.

“Parents should be consulted before their minor children are given life-altering medical treatment,” he said. “It’s deeply concerning that the Legislature and the governor continue to usurp parental authority.”

California Governor Signs Legislation Targeting Amazon Warehouse Speed Quotas

“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I’m proud to sign this legislation giving them the dignity, respect and safety they deserve and advancing California’s leadership at the forefront of workplace safety.”

The legislation requires that employers notify workers about their quotas, including any punitive action that could be taken should an employee fail to meet a required task. The legislation would also not require an employee to meet their quota if it affects their ability to do things such as take a rest period or go to the bathroom.

For quotas that stop an employee from being able to take a rest period or go to the bathroom, or quotas that have not been disclosed previously, an employer would also be prohibited from taking action against an employee.

An investigation into an employer could be potentially opened up under the legislation if their annual employee injury rate is higher than the average annual injury rate of the warehousing injury by at least 1.5 percent.

The legislation will become effective beginning next year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The legislation is considered a direct jab at Amazon; a coalition of labor unions, Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), reported earlier this year that Amazon’s rate of reported serious injuries was almost twice that of other warehouses between 2017 and 2020.

The president of the California Retailers Association, who chairs a coalition of 50 groups that are against the legislation, slammed the bill in a statement on Wednesday, calling it a “recipe for disaster.”

“We are disappointed Governor Newsom signed AB 701, which will exacerbate our current supply chain issues, increase the cost of living for all Californians and eliminate good-paying jobs.

With California’s ports facing record backlogs of ships waiting off the coast and inflation spiking to the fastest pace in 13 years, AB 701 will make matters worse for everyone – creating more backordered goods and higher prices for everything from clothes, diapers and food to auto parts, toys and pet supplies,” Rachel Michelin said in a statement.

Updated: 9-30-2021

Governor Newsom Signs Policing Reform Legislation

SB 2 creates a system to investigate and revoke or suspend peace officer certification for serious misconduct.

Ultimate Resource For Nationwide Firsts Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

SB 16 increases transparency over peace officer misconduct records.

The Governor also signed legislation strengthening policing responsibility and accountability guidelines, raising eligibility standards and banning harmful techniques.

GARDENA – At Rowley Park, alongside legislators, community leaders and families of victims of police violence, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation creating a system to decertify peace officers for serious misconduct.

The Governor also signed legislation increasing transparency of peace officer misconduct records, improving policing responsibility and accountability guidelines, raising eligibility standards and banning harmful restraint techniques.

“Today marks another step toward healing and justice for all,” said Governor Newsom. “Too many lives have been lost due to racial profiling and excessive use of force. We cannot change what is past, but we can build accountability, root out racial injustice and fight systemic racism. We are all indebted to the families who have persevered through their grief to continue this fight and work toward a more just future.”

SB 2 by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) creates a system within the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to investigate and revoke or suspend peace officer certification for serious misconduct, including excessive force, sexual assault, demonstration of bias and dishonesty.

This legislation creates the Peace Officer Standards Accountability Division and the Peace Officer Standards Accountability Advisory Board within POST to review serious misconduct cases.

SB 16 by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) increases transparency of peace officer misconduct records pertaining to findings of unreasonable or excessive use of force, discriminatory or prejudiced behavior, failure to intervene when witnessing excessive use of force by a peace officer, or participation in unlawful searches and arrests.

“Today is an important day. It’s an inflection point in how we provide for public safety in the State of California,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “I’m proud to stand with my former colleagues and Governor Newsom to embark on a new chapter in our shared fight to infuse our criminal justice system with more trust, transparency, and accountability.

By building trust today, we are ensuring officer and community safety for tomorrow. Trust generates safety and safety generates trust. It will take sustained work by all of us to get the job done, but this is a monumental step forward on the path toward justice.”

“I am proud of the important progress the Legislature and Governor have made this year to help make sure people of color in California can be safer in their dealings with law enforcement. No one should have to fear those who are sworn to protect them,” said Senate President pro Tempore Atkins.

“My colleagues in both houses who worked tirelessly for these bills, and the family members, community advocates, and responsible law enforcement leaders who helped get the bills across the finish line all deserve our thanks. There is more work to do, and we are already back at it. Four hundred years of racism won’t be erased overnight—but the arc is bending and the moral momentum is on our side.”

“California has one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the nation,” said Senator Bradford. “But for too long, problematic officers that commit heinous acts in one department are either not held accountable and continue to be a problem for that community, or are punished, but able to find employment in another department.

This rinse and repeat style of accountability has led to the continuous erosion of community trust. At long last, California finally joins the 46 other states with processes for the decertification of bad officers.

I’m proud to have authored this landmark bill for California, which honors Kenneth Ross Jr. and the many others who have had their lives taken by police who abuse their power. My deep appreciation goes out to the families, community organizations, advocates and legislators who were willing to stand up and support this positive change.

I applaud Governor Newsom for standing with us on this issue and look forward to working with the Administration on more ways to improve public safety and rebuild public trust in our law enforcement system.”

“Trust in law enforcement erodes when police misconduct is kept secret and officers who’ve acted badly are allowed to avoid consequences,” said Senator Skinner. “SB 2 and SB 16 will help restore public trust in California policing.

By signing these bills, Governor Newsom has ensured that police who commit serious misconduct will no longer have the privilege of wearing a badge and that we, the public, have the right to know when officers use excessive force or engage in racist or biased behavior.”

Governor Newsom also signed AB 26 by Assembymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) which creates guidelines for police officers to intercede and immediately report if another officer is using excessive force; AB 89 by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) which raises the minimum age to become a police officer to 21 and will enhance education requirements; and AB 490 by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) which bans technique and transport methods that involve risk of positional asphyxia.

A Full List Of The Bills Signed By The Governor Is Below:

Ab 26 By Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) – Peace Officers: Use Of Force.

Ab 48 By Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) – Law Enforcement: Use Of Force.

Ab 89 By Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) – Peace Officers: Minimum Qualifications.

Ab 481 By Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) – Law Enforcement And State Agencies: Military Equipment: Funding, Acquisition, And Use.

Ab 490 By Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) – Law Enforcement Agency Policies: Arrests: Positional Asphyxia.

Ab 958 By Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) – Peace Officers: Law Enforcement Gangs.

Sb 2 By Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) – Peace Officers: Certification: Civil Rights.

Sb 16 By Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Peace Officers: Release Of Records.

Governor Newsom last year signed a series of bills into law initiating critical criminal justice, juvenile justice and policing reforms in California, including banning the carotid restraint, requiring the Attorney General to conduct investigations into officer-involved shootings of unarmed individuals that result in death and legislation that reforms the juvenile justice system to put more emphasis on rehabilitation and education.

The Governor last year also released recommendations from his policing advisors for improving police response to protests and demonstrations and directed the statewide Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) to modernize training and guidance for law enforcement.

Updated: 12-12-2021

California’s Gavin Newsom Favors Gun Suits Modeled On Texas Abortion Law

Governor’s proposal would allow private citizens to sue manufacturers in the state for at least $10,000 per violation.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to create a path for private citizens to sue gun manufacturers, sellers and distributors in the state, modeling his proposal after the legal framework used in the Texas law that bans abortions past six weeks.

On the heels of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling allowing the Texas law to remain in effect for now, Mr. Newsom said he would work with the Democratic-dominated Legislature and Attorney General Rob Bonta, also a Democrat, to draft a proposal.

The bill would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, sells or distributes assault weapons or ghost gun kits or parts in the state for at least $10,000 per violation.

The state of Texas had used a similar mechanism in an attempt to insulate its abortion ban from legal review, assigning enforcement authority to private civil litigants instead of public officials. The Supreme Court on Friday did give abortion providers a narrow legal path to challenge the Texas ban.

In June, a federal judge struck down California’s 32-year-old ban on certain weapons, likening AR-15 rifles to Swiss Army knives. The ruling was subsequently put on hold pending appeal. Last month a federal appeals court upheld the state’s ban on high-capacity magazines.

“If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement Saturday.

At last month’s Supreme Court arguments over the Texas abortion ban, Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked the state’s lawyer about concerns raised in a brief from the Firearms Policy Coalition predicting proposals like Mr. Newsom’s.

“This will easily become the model for suppression of other constitutional rights, with Second Amendment rights being the most likely targets,” Justice Kavanaugh said.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s three liberal justices warned in dissent to Friday’s ruling that the limited ruling could inflict long-term damage on the protection of constitutional rights. “Texas has employed an array of stratagems designed to shield its unconstitutional law from judicial review,” the chief justice wrote.

Mr. Newsom’s office, which laid out the proposal Saturday evening, didn’t provide additional details including timing for a bill or whether legislative leaders or Mr. Bonta had signed on in support. Mr. Bonta, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate leader Toni Atkins didn’t respond to requests for comment.

As the Supreme Court weighs protections for abortion, Mr. Newsom and other state leaders have said they want to make California a sanctuary for women from out of state who are seeking to end their pregnancies, which could include paying for abortions and other related costs.

Updated: 12-16-2021

California Gun Victims Can Sue Gun Manufacturers For Violence

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday that his administration will push for a new measure, modeled after Texas’s controversial abortion ban, to limit the sale of assault weapons and “ghost guns” in the state.

The proposed bill, according to a press release from Newsom, would allow Californians to sue “anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” for damages — the same injunction-skirting mechanism Texas has used to ban all abortions after six weeks, which has so far been permitted by the Supreme Court.

“If that’s the precedent then we’ll let Californians sue those who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets,” Newsom said in a tweet Saturday. “If TX can ban abortion and endanger lives, CA can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives.”

Newsom’s statement comes on the heels of a Friday Supreme Court ruling, which further entrenched Texas’s ability to ban virtually all abortions in the state, despite allowing a suit against Texas state health officials to advance. As Vox’s Ian Millhiser explained:

The upshot of this decision is that, while the abortion provider plaintiffs in Jackson may be able to get a federal court order declaring that SB 8 is unconstitutional, the only real relief they are likely to win is an order preventing a few state health officials from carrying out the minor role they play in enforcing the law. The most important provisions of the law — the ones that effectively prevent anyone from performing an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy by threatening them with financial ruin if they do so — will most likely remain in effect. 

Currently, few details are known about the proposed California legislation other than its enforcement mechanism; according to Newsom’s announcement, plaintiffs suing firearms manufacturers could be awarded at least $10,000, plus attorney’s fees if they win their case.

As the LA Times reports, however, the California State Assembly and Attorney General Rob Bonta won’t be able to move on putting together a bill until January 3, when the legislature reconvenes after the holiday break.

SB 8, the law that Newsom references in Saturday’s announcement, hinges on a novel, convoluted enforcement scheme. Though it functionally bans all abortions after a mere six weeks of pregnancy, Texas officials are prohibited from directly enforcing the law, according to its text.

Instead, SB 8 is constructed so that an individual — who doesn’t even have to be a Texas resident or have anything to do with the abortion in question — can sue an abortion provider or someone suspected of aiding an abortion performed after the six-week window.

Updated: 1-7-2022

When Goats Become Firefighters, Not Everyone Follows Orders

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Hungry animals clear away potential tinder; ‘not the most high-tech thing’.

Australia has already used satellite technology, helicopters with infrared cameras, and firetrucks with mobile data terminals to battle deadly wildfires. Next up are the goats.

The idea is to send out the four-legged laborers to munch through brush and leaf litter that can act as tinder during hot, dry years. In late October, around 40 of the animals were dispatched for a trial at an unused railway corridor across from Lue Public School. The workers, being animals, didn’t always stay focused on the job at hand.

“The school bus pulls up and the goats all turn around to have a look and see who is getting out of the bus,” said Caron McDonald, the school’s principal.

Goat handlers use electric fencing to try to keep their charges chomping in the right places. But some try to escape the electric pens. Others nibble the clothing of their handlers to see if it tastes good. Another challenge: Goats like to stay in family groups.

“When we’re trying to put together a mob to take somewhere, we think, ‘Oh, well we’ll take Judith because she’s a good follower,’ ” said Billie Johnstone, who has supplied goats to some of the New South Wales trials. “But if we take Judith, we have to take her daughters from last year, as well as their kids and Judith’s current kids.”

Climate change and associated drought have made wildfires more frequent and difficult to control in countries including Australia and the U.S. That has driven a debate about how best to manage stretched firefighting resources and what more can be done to prevent blazes from spreading quickly.

More than two dozen people died in Australia’s bush fires two years ago, which burned an area bigger than Washington state. An inquiry into the fires in New South Wales state, home to Sydney, recommended that authorities review hazard-reduction techniques such as controlled burning of loose vegetation, and consider the effectiveness of other methods.

One suggestion was to assess how livestock such as hungry goats can reduce woody weeds and hard-to-clear vegetation near forests and wild grasses that abut towns. It is estimated that 40 goats can chew through more than half an acre of dense vegetation in two weeks, and medium-density vegetation in one week, according to New South Wales authorities.

Peter McKechnie, deputy commissioner at New South Wales Rural Fire Service, said goats “are not the most high-tech thing” in firefighting but can do things beyond the abilities of crews or machinery. One advantage of the animals is that they make light work of rocky, undulating terrain that would be hard to tackle using traditional methods.

“If it’s wet, we can’t do our hazard-reduction burn,” he said. “Goats will still eat in the wet.”

The trials involve herding the goats into cells—blocks surrounded by electric fencing—then moving them to a different spot after they have munched through enough vegetation.

Ms. Johnstone, who runs Dry Creek Farm with her husband Michael Blewitt, trains goats to follow instructions before they are allowed onto other properties. For the most part, they do as they are told.

But the couple excluded two goats—a nanny named Sasha and her son Tucker—from the trials after they jumped a fence at a residential property. Another male goat, known as Cheeky’s Boy, likes to dig under fences so he can feed on vegetation first. Mr. Blewitt said the animal appeared to have picked up bad habits from his mother, once the mainstay of a petting zoo.

At one trial site, Cheeky’s Boy escaped the pen while Mr. Blewitt was working there alone. That led to the other goats trying to get out as well. Mr. Blewitt rang for help to round up the few that breached the fences. “I was running back and forth, trying to get the guys in,” he recalled.

Scott Stewart, a farmer and volunteer firefighter at Coolatai, another trial site, has been impressed with the goats and thinks they could have a future in helping to prevent fires from breaking out. Goats have a reputation for eating things that other animals, including cows and sheep, won’t. Goats also love to climb, and can reach up more than 6 feet by standing on their hind legs to eat tasty gum tree leaves or even pull over entire saplings.

Authorities believe the trials could be expanded in coming months based on preliminary results, which build on evidence from places such as California, Spain and Portugal, where the animals sometimes help with hazard reduction burns.

Still, using goats or other livestock in Australia’s fire-prevention strategy may be a tough sell to some. Several years ago, a plan to let cows roam the Alpine National Park in Victoria state to reduce dry vegetation sparked an outcry among environmental groups that feared it would threaten endangered species such as the smoky mouse and alpine tree frog. The trial was scrapped within months.

Goats sometimes get a bad rap because they have been brought in after cattle and sheep already have grazed in an area, said Dr. Sandra Baxendell, who runs a veterinary clinic for goats in Queensland state. “They’re brought in last, but the damage has been done well before then,” she said.

At Lue, the goats have cleared about 25 acres of land so far, roughly half of their target. Mrs. McDonald, the school principal, said the animals have generally been good neighbors and a source of joy for the younger students, who wanted to name them.

But “the goats kept moving around,” she said. “They couldn’t remember which one was which.”

 

For full text of the bills signed today.

Updated: 1-7-2022

California’s Governor Is Set to Unveil Budget Padded With Surplus

* Another Multi-Billion Dollar Cushion To Tap As Revenue Rises
* Newsom Beat A Recall In September, Faces Re-Election This Year

California Governor Gavin Newsom is set to unveil a budget that boasts another multi-billion dollar surplus as the world’s fifth-largest economy continues to benefit from top earners amassing even more wealth during the lopsided recovery from the pandemic.

The first-term Democrat on Monday will release a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning in July that will show a sizable surplus coming on the heels of this year’s $75.7 billion windfall. The state’s nonpartisan fiscal adviser in November estimated it could be about $31 billion.

With a progressive tax system that rakes in more revenue when the income of the highest earners rises, California continues to collect more than it forecast. That group has reaped the benefits of rising stock prices and stable employment even as lower-income workers lost their jobs during the pandemic. The top 1% of earners pay nearly half of personal income-tax collections.

“California is one of the better performing” states, said Jennifer Johnston, director of research for Franklin Templeton Fixed Income’s municipal bond team. “Part of that is because of the very progressive tax structure that we have and the strength of employment at the high wage earner level, we tend to outperform in good years, and underperform in bad years.”

The current budget spends approximately $196 billion, up 18% from the previous year.

Severe Problems

To be sure, California faces severe problems from extreme drought to wildfires exacerbated by climate change to a deepening homelessness and affordable housing crisis. Yet for Newsom, he will have more at his disposal to deal with them without significant political pitfalls.

Newsom easily prevailed in a rare recall election in September. While at one point polls were showing that he might lose, the entry of Larry Elder, a Donald Trump-supporting, conservative talk show host, as a replacement candidate helped galvanize voters to reject Newsom’s removal.

Newsom now faces a November re-election in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one.

And despite departures of notable Californians and their companies to Texas such as Elon Musk, it would take major upheaval to disrupt the world’s fifth-largest economy.

The state’s gross domestic product increased 21% during the past five years ending in December 2020, dwarfing No. 2 New York (14%) and No. 3 Texas (12%), according to the most recent data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bond Prices

The budget presentation is unlikely to affect prices of California bonds as the state regularly provides updates of its fiscal position, said Bernhard Fischer, senior analyst at Principal Global Fixed Income.

California’s bonds are “from a credit standpoint, very attractive. From a relative value, perhaps a bit expensive,” Fischer said, adding, “but everything in the muni market right now is pretty expensive.”

Newsom’s budget blueprint will undergo revisions, often significant, in May. The Democratic-led legislature must approve a spending plan by June 15 or forgo pay. Here are some items anticipated Monday:

Higher Revenue Than Expected:

* California has collected about $66.8 billion of revenue so far during the fiscal year that will end in June, about 25% more than was anticipated in the budget, according to the state’s finance department last month. Personal income tax collections alone are 26% more than expected year to date.

Higher Spending On Education And Social Programs:

* With revenue running ahead of projections, that means the state’s spending on education will increase, per a constitutional amendment.

Newsom has also said he would like to allocate more to early education and programs for dyslexia.

* Liberal Priorities

An advisory group recommended that the state expand its ability to provide abortions to out-of-state residents, including potentially helping to cover their costs, if the landmark Roe v. Wade case is overturned. Some of the report’s recommendations will appear in his budget proposal, Newsom told the Associated Press.

Possible Rebates To Taxpayers:

* Constitutional requirements constrain use of the surplus dollars falling over the appropriations limit. Lawmakers can cut taxes, spend more on specific items like infrastructure or education, or issue tax rebates. Newsom has suggested he could send checks to residents, as he did with this year’s budget.

Addressing Retail Crime:

* Following a string of highly publicized break-ins, Newsom said in November that the upcoming budget “will be investing even more to aggressively curb retail crime.” He didn’t specify the amount.

Newsom Vows Increased Spending To Fight Smash-and-Grab Thefts

Updated: 1-10-2022

Flush With Cash, California Has Problems That Are No Quick Fix

* Governor Tackles ‘Existential Threats’ In New Spending Plan
* Homelessness, Crime And Climate Change Are Top Priorities

With cash rolling in from a projected $45.7 billion budget surplus, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a spending plan designed to address a paradox of the most populous U.S. state: It’s thriving financially, yet beset with systemic challenges that threaten its long-term growth.

The Democrat aims to tackle the “existential threats” of Covid-19, climate change, homelessness, the wealth divide and public safety with a record $213 billion budget for the coming fiscal year.

The plan unveiled Monday, which still must be approved by legislators, proposes a tenfold increase — to $500 million — to clean up homeless encampments, for example, which the governor called the state’s “most vexing and serious issue.”

California is home to the world’s fifth-largest economy and remains a leader in progressive causes such as banning internal combustion engines in new cars by 2035.

Yet it continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, including wildfires, crime, port congestion and now an omicron variant surge, despite some of the toughest virus-mitigation standards in the nation.

Some of the state’s most pressing problems, like a shrinking population and high cost of living, can’t really be solved by the budget alone. Others like homelessness received increased funding, but that money pales against the scope of the problem, with an estimated 161,500 unhoused people across the state as of 2020.

To some, the spending plan is a step in the right direction, addressing California’s income inequality by offering tax credits to low-income workers, additional funding for pre-kindergarten classes and universal health care even for undocumented residents.

“I think the governor has proposed a good starting point for making a series of one-time and ongoing investments in the major challenges facing the state,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the nonprofit California Budget and Policy Center, which focuses on policies impacting the economic and social well-being of residents with low and middle incomes.

Others see a recurring issue with Newsom’s administration, hopping on issues that are trending with voters, but rarely solving problems over the long term.

“They sell the sizzle,” said David McCuan, chair of the political science department at Sonoma State University. “Actually delivering, they don’t have those kind of successes.”

California’s population declined for the first time in history in 2020 and the state lost a congressional seat last year. A number of high-profile companies have relocated their headquarters, including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co., Oracle Corp. and Tesla Inc., in part because of the cost of living.

But the economy is still strong, with gross domestic product rising 21% in the five years ended December 2020 and tax receipts coming in well above plan, thanks to the state’s dependence on high-income earners. Of the $45.7 billion surplus, $20.6 billion can be used for discretionary purposes.

The governor, running for a second term this year, proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and tax breaks for small businesses while continuing to spend heavily to promote California’s tourism economy.

He also pledged $3 billion over two years to pay down the state’s unemployment fund debt. In recognition of pocketbook issues that are hitting the less wealthy harder, Newsom announced he’d scrap an inflation-indexed hike in the gasoline tax for the fiscal year.

While not directly addressing corporate departures, he proposed $250 million in incentives annually for three years for qualified companies headquartered in California that are investing in research to mitigate climate change.

To Republicans, who account for less than a quarter of registered voters and a minority in the statehouse, Newsom’s new budget emphasizes many of the same failed policies. State Senator Jim Nielsen, a Republican from rural Red Bluff, said that’s evident in the governor’s proposals for drought mitigation.

The state passed a $7.5 billion bond proposition in 2014 to address the water crisis and yet no storage projects have begun, Nielsen said. Newsom earmarked an additional $750 million in spending on drought mitigation efforts in the new budget, including passageways for fish and technology to reduce farmers’ irrigation needs.

Nielsen’s skeptical too of the governor’s proposed homeless initiatives, which include construction of tiny houses.

“I’m not very confident,” said Nielsen, the vice chair of the Senate’s budget committee. “Most of what we’re doing is just throwing dollars out there and not really accounting for how it’s used.”

Homelessness, Crime

At a press conference Monday, Newsom touted success he’s had finding homes for 58,000 people, with the government leasing or buying old motels to use as shelters, and said cities will have accountability for their efforts to address homelessness.

His new budget proposes $2 billion in additional spending to address the issue, even as areas such as San Francisco and Los Angeles face uphill battles trying to find places to build temporary housing.

“I hope people see a real road map here and a strategy and to the extent people have better ideas, boy, we look forward every day to hear those,” he said.

Newsom, who handily beat back a recall effort last year, has also vowed progressive policy proposals such as expanding abortion access.

A group of more than 40 abortion providers and advocacy organizations have recommended the state expand its ability to provide services to out-of-state residents if the landmark Roe v. Wade law is overturned.

While there wasn’t a “mass expansion specifically” regarding abortion in the budget, Newsom said Monday he would be working on policy proposals with legislators in the coming weeks.

The governor’s plan includes $255 million in grants to local law enforcement and a new “Smash and Grab Enforcement Unit” designed to address the rash of shoplifting gangs swarming stores.

The proposal illustrates the tough position Democrats find themselves in this mid-term election year with the more liberal wing of their party pushing for police and criminal justice reforms, while many voters are worried about crime rates.

“The smash and grab unit is the all-sizzle approach,” said Sonoma State’s McCuan, “as opposed to actually doing things that can change the dynamic.”

Updated: 1-12-2022

Climate Swings Help Endangered Salmon Return To California Creeks For The First Time In Years

Endangered Coho salmon are returning to Marin County, California, creeks this winter where they’ve long been absent, thanks to intense rains that scientists say will become more frequent as the state swings between climate-driven drought and deluge.

It’s a rare bit of good news for a species whose population has plummeted in recent decades due to development and pollution.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of salmon historically made the annual migration from the Pacific Ocean to the redwood-shrouded creeks in Marin County where they were born.

There they would spawn the next generation of fish before dying. In recent years that population has dwindled to just a few hundred salmon and the future looked dire as California’s record-breaking drought dried out streams.

But an atmospheric river that inundated the Bay Area in October followed by heavy rains in December filled creeks in the largely rural county, allowing salmon to navigate culverts and other obstacles to reach creeks that had previously been impassable. First-time sightings of Chinook salmon in creeks have also been reported.

“Salmon have been able to adjust and adapt to a changing climate for hundreds of thousands of years, modern climate change should be no different, although how we manage natural resources in a changing climate will make a difference,” Preston Brown, director of conservation for the nonprofit Salmon Protection And Watershed Network, said in an email.

For instance, he said, it will be important to manage cities and forests to absorb more water during deluges and prevent excess depletion in dry times.

“When we have ample rainfall, the fish respond well,” he said. “Even if rainfall is intense [it] can provide benefit to salmonids, especially if our natural resources and forests are better managed to handle heavy rains.”

Ayano Hayes, a biologist with SPAWN, recently found Coho in Montezuma Creek, where they had been last seen in 2004. Salmon were spotted in another creek for the first time since 2006.

“It is amazing to see these giant two-foot fish in the small creeks, some no wider than six feet wide,” Hayes said in a statement.

Residents have taken to social media to post first-ever sightings of salmon in creeks flowing through their backyards.

The salmon sightings follow years of work by SPAWN and other groups to restore creeks to improve conditions for salmon. SPAWN, for instance, completed the removal of a dam on a main salmon-spawning creek in 2021.

Organic farmers in the west Marin town of Bolinas agreed more than a decade ago to stop withdrawing water from Pine Gulch Creek in the summer as part of an effort to return salmon to the waterway.

Last July, juvenile Coho were spotted in the creek for the first time since 2010. In November, the National Park Service discovered Chinook salmon in Pine Gulch Creek for the first time.

Those efforts have helped salmon survive but Brown said one restoration strategy in particular could aid the revival of the species: beavers.

“We need beavers!” he said. “Beavers do excellent work to support salmon, store water, dampen flooding, mitigate wildfire and make more habitat for other wildlife — all for free.”

 

Updated: 1-19-2022

Wildfire Risk In California Drives Insurers To Pull Policies For Pricey Homes

AIG and Chubb are cutting back on coverage of multimillion-dollar homes, following years of non-renewals by midrange insurers.

Worried about wildfire exposure and frustrated by state regulations, insurers in California have been cutting back on their homeowner businesses. Now, affluent homeowners are feeling more of the pain, as two of the biggest firms offering protection for multimillion-dollar properties end coverage for some customers.

As early as this month, American International Group Inc. will begin notifying about 9,000 customers in its Private Client Group that their home policies won’t be renewed this year. The change is part of a plan by AIG to cease selling home policies in California through a unit regulated by the state’s insurance department.

AIG told insurance brokers in an email late last year that some policyholders instead may be eligible for coverage via another AIG unit. The other unit operates alongside other so-called excess-and-surplus lines insurers, which have more freedom on policies’ rates and terms than do insurers in the broader, tightly overseen home-insurance market.

The policies could cost three to five times what AIG’s clients now pay, with less-generous coverage, brokers said.

“AIG is the first high-net-worth carrier to say ‘we’ve had it, we’re divorcing ourselves from California’s regulated market,’ ” said Jim Tolliver, an insurance broker in San Francisco with Woodruff Sawyer & Co., who fears others will follow suit.

Chubb Ltd., the biggest high-end insurer in the state, is continuing to non-renew some policies. But, “we are still accepting new customers across the state in areas where we have a fair chance of earning an adequate return,” Paul Krump, a Chubb vice chairman, said last week.

In an earnings call in October, Chubb Chief Executive Evan Greenberg said the insurer’s California shrinkage was “not a small amount” in locations “both highly exposed and even moderately exposed to wildfire.” He said “someone else will have the pleasure of writing” business for which “we cannot charge an adequate price for the risk.”

Chubb, which declined to provide policyholder figures, aims to offer excess-and-surplus policies to many policyholders who aren’t renewed.

The moves by AIG and Chubb follow years of non-renewals by mass-market insurers. California regulators have been encouraged that parts of the broader market are showing signs of stabilizing, thanks to recent rate increases. Allstate Corp. , Farmers Insurance and some others have committed to adding policyholders.

Some insurers are frustrated that California regulators require them to set home-insurance rates based on their historical loss experience, not projections of future losses that are determined by catastrophe modeling. Such models can reflect detailed, location-specific data that the insurers feel they need amid escalating wildfire activity tied partly to climate change.

State regulators say insurers can obtain adequate rate increases under the current system, and in general are concerned about modeling’s accuracy and fairness to minorities.

“We are very disappointed that a diversified company with massive global resources like AIG is not staying the course to help support safer, more resilient communities here in California,” said Michael Soller, a deputy insurance commissioner. The state has been trying to help consumers reduce wildfire risk, and has pushed insurers to provide discounts for mitigation measures.

In 2020, the state insurance department approved an average 17.5% rate increase for AIG’s home policies. A subsequent request from AIG for a 42% increase remains pending.

Finding replacement coverage can be difficult in California, particularly for the biggest and most-expensive homes.

“I am sure there is enough blame to go around: the insurance department, the insurance companies, the policyholders,” said Jeffrey Green, a managing director at a financial-services firm who lives in Napa County and is subject to AIG’s non-renewals this year. But “you’re going to devastate people if they are uninsured and their homes burn down.”

Mr. Green and his wife, Jane, have spent tens of thousands of dollars trimming trees, installing a fire hydrant to draw from a swimming pool and taking other steps to reduce the risk of their house burning down.

The house survived wildfire in 2020 even as nearby properties were destroyed. Still, a six-figure claim resulted for smoke and other damage.

In buying policies with tightly regulated terms and conditions, Californians with homes estimated to cost greater than $10 million to rebuild often pay $20,000 to $40,000 in annual premiums, while those with $30 million and higher residences often pay more than $100,000, brokers said. All total, tens of thousands of Californians with homes at such values are insured by a half-dozen or so carriers that specialize in the high end, and some are insured through insurers focused on the broader market.

AIG told state officials that its move is due “not only to heightened wildfire risk exposure in California, but also to the costs of servicing high-value homes” and the impact of global catastrophes on its reinsurance costs, Mr. Soller said. AIG’s email to brokers cited wildfires and mudslides of the past five years, in particular. AIG declined to comment.

Updated: 1-21-2022

States Are Swimming In Cash Thanks To Booming Tax Revenue And Federal Aid

New York, California, Florida are among the states planning big one-time investments in worker bonuses, tax rebates and paying down debt.

Numerous states are proposing tax rebates and bonuses for public workers as the fiscal doldrums of early 2021 give way to fat times fueled by booming markets, growing incomes and federal aid.

State revenues between April and November increased 24% from 2020 to 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Urban Institute think tank. Thirty-two states said revenue collections for fiscal years ending in 2022 were ahead of projections, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, including South Carolina, Minnesota and Washington.

While spending is going up in some areas, including K-12 and higher education, states are in many cases putting budget surpluses to one-time uses rather than programs with long-term commitments or permanent tax cuts. Officials say that is because pandemic-related federal aid is ending and revenue growth could halt if the economy slows.

Along with the tax rebates and bonuses, states are paying down debts and pension obligations and investing in short-term infrastructure projects. In addition, states’ reserve funds have reached a record level of nearly $113 billion for the 2021 fiscal year, the budget officers’ association said.

“Lawmakers, including Democrats and Republicans alike, are acknowledging that while the situation looks really good right now, these surpluses are likely temporary,” said Josh Goodman, who researches state fiscal health for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Congressional Democrats in March approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included $360 billion for state and local governments. Republicans objected to the funding, saying money intended for pandemic relief shouldn’t be used for states’ long-term fiscal challenges.

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a $286.4 billion budget plan. That spending is buoyed by an estimated $45.7 billion surplus in the current and next fiscal year, more than $20 billion of which can be used for discretionary spending.

Much of that is due to higher-than-expected tax revenue from the state’s highest-income residents, who are making more money on stocks and investments.

Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, proposed to put $9 billion of the surplus toward budget reserves and pension debts and direct $5.5 billion to restore tax breaks for businesses that were suspended in the early days of the pandemic, when state officials thought they were facing down a staggering $54 billion deficit that never materialized.

The governor’s budget also includes billions in one-time spending to address homelessness, wildfires, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last month proposed a $100 billion budget that includes a gas-tax holiday totaling $1 billion and $238 million for one-time, $1,000 retention payments for teachers and principals.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, on Wednesday proposed a budget that would add $2.4 billion to the state’s rainy-day fund and also begin phasing out income taxes for senior citizens.

Updated: 1-28-2022

Big Win For Open Internet As Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Law

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit’s opinion “a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide.”

Progressives rejoiced Friday after a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld California’s net neutrality law, rejecting an industry-funded challenge that sought to prevent the state from implementing protections enacted in the wake of the Trump administration’s gutting of federal open internet rules.

“Eat shit, AT&T!”

Digital rights group Fight for the Future, which played a key role in mobilizing grassroots support for California’s net neutrality law—widely considered the nation’s strongest—noted in a statement that “telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast spent millions of dollars lobbying against S.B. 822. They even funded astroturf groups that spammed senior citizens with robocalls. And surely they spent big money on the attorneys who just lost this case for them.”

“The California net neutrality law is now clearly enforceable, and bars telecom companies from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, abusing their gatekeeper power in interconnection, or engaging in ‘zero rating’ scams,” the group added. “The court’s decision also clearly paves the way for other states to impose their own net neutrality protections.”

Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, added, “Eat shit, AT&T!”

Former President Donald Trump tapped Ajit Pai to lead the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the fourth day of his term, and by December 2017, the corporate-friendly commissioner was giving internet service providers (ISPs) the power to block or slow down certain websites while opening the potential to charge extra fees for access to “fast lanes” that would betray the bedrock principle of treating online traffic equally.

State lawmakers in Sacramento responded to the Trump administration’s overturning of Obama-era net neutrality rules by passing the California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act. Though the bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in 2018, it didn’t take effect until last year.

As Reuters noted, “California had agreed not to enforce the law while legal proceedings were ongoing.” It wasn’t until February of 2021 that President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew the lawsuit filed by Trump’s DOJ.

Media reform advocacy group Free Press—which spent the past two years working with Access Now, Mozilla, New America’s Open Technology Institute, and Public Knowledge to file amicus briefs at district and appellate courts in defense of California’s legislation—explained Friday that “lawyers representing ISPs had made meritless claims that the Trump FCC’s decision preempted state laws in this field, preventing states from stepping in to protect internet users exposed by the 2017 federal repeal.”

“This decision clarifies that states have room to enact broadband consumer protection laws that go beyond the federal baseline.”

In its ruling, meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals argued—in keeping with a district court’s previous decision—that since the FCC in 2018 reclassified internet services as more lightly regulated information services, it “no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications services.”

John Bergmayer, legal director at Public Knowledge, called the Ninth Circuit’s opinion “a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide.”

“The court rightly found that when a federal agency determines that it has no authority over a service, it necessarily also loses the ability to preempt state laws on that topic,” said Bergmayer.

Matt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel at Free Press, praised the judges for dismissing “a bevy of pointless phone-and cable-company arguments that have now been rejected by courts on both coasts.”

“This decision is a huge step forward,” said Wood, “but the California law had an impact even before it cleared this latest court hurdle.”

“Industry lobbyists and other net neutrality opponents have argued, loudly but cynically, that the repeal of the FCC’s rules had no impact,” he continued. “But the passage of this strong state law meant ISPs still had to respect open internet principles even before this latest victory, because they knew their stall tactics in the Ninth Circuit were likely to fail, as they now have twice.”

“But while today’s ruling is great news, the job isn’t done,” said Wood, who added that “this win is significant because it offers protections to people in our most populous state and drives the national conversation forward.”

While applauding Friday’s ruling as “a significant victory in the fight for a free and open internet,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced that he intends to introduce legislation that “will make net neutrality the law of the land.”

Newly confirmed FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said Friday that restoring net neutrality rules nationwide is precisely what the federal government needs to do.

To make such reform likely, however, the U.S. Senate must finish rounding out the FCC, which still has a partisan 2-2 divide after Biden waited a historically long time to designate a permanent chair and nominate a candidate to fill the last seat on the five-person board.

“While today’s ruling is great news, the job isn’t done.”

The Senate Commerce Committee is set to vote on Biden’s FCC pick Gigi Sohn—a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy—next week.

Ars Technica reported last month, however, that Republicans are “mounting a serious challenge” to Sohn, making Democratic unity key to advancing the nominee who has, according to The Hill, “a history of advocating for open and affordable communications networks.”

Wood, for his part, stressed that “we still need the Biden FCC to reclaim its authority not just for nationwide open internet rules, but for policies promoting affordable, resilient, just, and reasonable internet connections for everyone.”

“That starts with the U.S. Senate moving quickly to confirm Gigi Sohn as the FCC’s fifth commissioner so the agency can begin to restore these essential safeguards,” he said. “After the Commerce Committee vote on her nomination next Wednesday, we need swift action on the floor to put the FCC fully back to work.”

Once the FCC is fully staffed, Bergmayer said, the agency should “put into place rules at least as strong as California’s nationwide,” which would render “some state measures unnecessary.”

“But even after that happens,” he added, “this decision clarifies that states have room to enact broadband consumer protection laws that go beyond the federal baseline.”

Updated: 1-31-2022

Los Angeles Is Building A Future Where Water Won’t Run Out

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to boost the city’s drought resiliency includes investment in water treatment and recycling facilities. In the era of mega-drought, will it be enough?

A helicopter whisks off a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, climbs above a thin layer of haze and soars over barren mountains past the city’s edge. Soon, scars of climatic stress are evident to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Martin Adams, general manager and chief engineer of the city’s water and power department, as they peer out the windows. Trees torched years ago by wildfire. Flats parched by sun and little precipitation.

It’s another July scorcher, days after California Governor Gavin Newsom asked residents to conserve amid one of the worst droughts on record. The crisis spans across the southwestern U.S. Outside Las Vegas, the enormous Lake Mead reservoir that feeds the Golden State as well as Nevada and Arizona plunged in June to its lowest level since 1937.

In August, federal officials ordered the first-ever water cuts on a Colorado River system that sustains about 40 million people.

Even after pounding holiday storms, 64% of the land in Western states was still experiencing severe to exceptional drought in January, which is on track to be the driest on record in some parts.

Yet leaders of Los Angeles—a metropolis forged by water heists from distant lands—think they’re on a path to drought resiliency. Heavy investments in water storage, rainwater capture and reclamation are serving towards a goal of supplying 70% of the city’s water from local sources by 2035.

“I have a strange confidence that we’re going to have plenty of water,” Garcetti says on a break on his day-long tour of water resources and communities north of L.A. that help hydrate his city.

Los Angeles has grown and thrived by piping in water from faraway places, and with meager precipitation and fast-melting snowpack the norm, a drier future almost certainly awaits. But observers say Garcetti’s confidence in L.A.’s potential for self-reliance is well founded.

“The L.A. area is going to be the epicenter of climate adaptation in urban water in the world,” says Felicia Marcus, the former chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board and former board president of L.A.’s department of public works who is now a visiting fellow at Stanford University. “It’s going to be expensive, but it’s going to seem like a bargain compared to being without water.”

Work is already underway. The city is planning massive upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants to make that water potable. Initial costs for new treatment required at the city’s Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant are about $4.3 billion. This is a key piece of L.A.’s water-security puzzle: to source 35% of the city’s water from recycling, up from 2% currently.

Meanwhile, some of the largest groundwater treatment facilities in the world are under construction throughout the San Fernando Valley, while federal-ordered remediation by groundwater polluters is underway.

To retain more of the scarce precipitation that hits the city, L.A. is expanding the catch-basins and inlets that recharge its aquifers, with a plan to double its annual rainwater capture capacity over the next 15 years. Today, a lot of stormwater flows into the ocean. Bolstering the ability to conserve and reuse such supplies will boost the city’s self-sufficiency, Adams says.

But the focus on building and renovating infrastructure may overshadow the vital need to conserve, according to Peter Gleick, co-founder and president emeritus of the Pacific Institute, a water think tank in the Bay Area. He fears that L.A.’s progress is blinding its leaders to the urgency of the current drought, pointing to the city’s increased per capita water use last summer.

“The water they’ve failed to save is water that is not in our reservoirs or streams any longer but could have been,” Gleick says. If this year is dry—and so far it has been—“they may be sorry that they weren’t more proactive.”

For his sojourn to northern communities that quench the city, Garcetti, 50, arrives early to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building. He’s clad in a plaid, dark jeans and boots, and armed with a text from 1948 that his father, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, gave him (“City-Makers: The Men Who Transformed Los Angeles From Village to Metropolis During the First Great Boom, 1868-76,” by Remi Nadeau). The get-up speaks to parts of the day ahead, including visiting dusty project sites.

“L.A. is a miracle born out of water,” says Garcetti, who describes himself as a student of the city’s history.

If Garcetti is in a contemplative mood, perhaps it’s because his days as mayor are numbered. After a second and final term challenged by a pandemic, rising homelessness, civil unrest and declining transit use, the mayor is likely to leave office within months to serve as U.S. ambassador to India—a position President Joe Biden nominated him for in July, just before his aerial tour.

(Garcetti, who awaits confirmation in the Senate, has faced allegations that he knew about a close aide’s alleged sexually harassing behavior, which the mayor has strongly denied.)

For now, the focus is on the water sites and the landscape, where the effects of drought are evident. “We usually see a lot more greenery early in the summer. You don’t usually see the sparsity of the brush,” Adams, the general manager of L.A.’s water and power department, says over the roar of the helicopter. “Now, it’s brown with green spots.”

In some places, the ground seems to be cracking. Approaching Owens Valley, a dry expanse about 250 miles north of L.A. and east of the Sierra Nevada, a blood-red gash—actually red algae—stains the brine pool of Owens Lake. Along the way, some spots are lush, including stretches that resemble golf courses running alongside waterways.

This journey to the Eastern Sierra was in part an effort to fortify Los Angeles’s historically discordant relationship with the region. On this day, Garcetti and Adams meet with leaders of the Fort Independence tribe of Paiute Indians, LADWP workers and local business owners in the remote town of Bishop. Topics include drought resilience and restoration efforts.

After sucking Owens Lake mostly dry last century, the city remains dependent on the area’s resources, but is trying to be a better steward. According to a 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, L.A. has spent at least $2 billion on controlling the lakebed dust that pollutes local air, following decades of litigation and a court-approved agreement forged early in Garcetti’s term. The report found those efforts have been effective but with room to improve.

It’s a saga that started in the 1900s, when Los Angeles agents bought up water rights to much of the Owens Valley by posing as farmers or ranchers, then channeled the water into the L.A. Aqueduct—a plot that inspired the classic 1974 film noir “Chinatown.”

Those resources—as well as water from the Colorado River and the California State Water Project, which funnels riparian flows from the north to the south —fed Southern California’s explosive growth during the 20th century. They also enabled the water-intensive suburban lifestyle that came to define the region, with tracts of single-family homes fronted by lush lawns and swimming pools.

Yet climate change is brokering a new reality. “There it is, take it,” William Mulholland, L.A.’s first chief water engineer, famously said when water finally reached his adopted city via the L.A. Aqueduct in 1913. “Now, it’s ‘There it is, reuse it,’” Garcetti says.

In the 1970s, conservation measures implemented after a severe drought started Los Angeles on a more water-wise trajectory. Today, L.A. uses less water per capita than it did 50 years ago despite a population increase of more than one million people—a decline in consumption of more than 40%.

Having grown far beyond what its Mediterranean climate can naturally accommodate, the threat of drought has never left the minds of regional engineers and policymakers, as well as many residents. In April, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California—which supplies water to cities across the region—had a record 3.2 million acre-feet of water in reserve, thanks to massive investments in storage and to the fact that locals have largely been willing to cut back when asked.

But experts say the city could still save more, given the dwindling supplies it relies upon. “L.A. definitely understands the limitations water scarcity has put on them and have come up with a plan that they can become water resilient,” says Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy at Stanford University’s Water in the West program. “It doesn’t mean they’re there right now.”

And while Angelenos have historically been good at conservation, they didn’t seem to respond to Newsom’s plea over the summer for Californians to slash water use by 15%. In fact, water use in L.A. slightly increased in July, the month of the governor’s request. (A spokesman for the mayor notes that L.A. County wasn’t included in California’s official drought state of emergency until October).

“It’s a difficult message. How do you say ‘there’s a shortage, but we’re not experiencing it?’” Adams says. “You want to deliver a good message that we’ve been successful—and the sacrifices and changes people have made have been working. At the same time, you’re always asked to tighten the belt one more notch.”

Even if L.A. is comfortable for the foreseeable future, the watersheds to which it’s connected may not be. If other communities are impacted by drought, “that will ripple through the system and eventually people dependent on this imported water will be impacted,” Ajami says. “That’s the problem with imported water.”

This much is clear: Even as L.A. boosts its independence, it will still rely on imported water for years to come. Local supplies will never be able to replace it entirely, according to LADWP.

It’s also hard to put a finger on just how much water security L.A.’s water investments can buy. Marcus, the visiting fellow at Stanford, says the city would likely be comfortable for a few decades, long enough for desalination—i.e., making ocean water drinkable—to be possible at a larger scale.

Others say hard times could come sooner if the city doesn’t focus more on conservation. On Dec. 1, the California Department of Water Resources announced that local agencies would receive 0% of their normal deliveries from the state water project in 2022, prompting LADWP to implore residents to use less water. (The allocation was bumped up to 15% this month after storms in December).

The cutback shows how Los Angeles remains vulnerable to drought as long as it depends on resources from afar, says Gleick of the Pacific Institute. He points to the devastation of this season’s winter-run Chinook salmon as an example of how no one is ever really in isolation when it comes to the wet stuff.

“Cities demanded too much of it,” he says. “That’s water that could have been left in the environment.”

Not every water development plan has gone over well. In the late 1990s, a $55 million LADWP plan to treat wastewater to potable standards was killed after public outcry, with newspapers labeling the concept with the icky phrase “toilet to tap.”

But attitudes have changed. Other parts of Southern California have shown that reclaimed water is safe to drink, and public awareness has grown to the point that what L.A. is planning at its sewage treatment plants no longer seems novel, Adams says.

“What do they say? The water in the Mississippi has been drank 17 times by the time it gets to New Orleans,” he says. “This happens all over everywhere: It just goes into rivers and the next person pulls it out and thinks it’s brand new water. It’s not brand-new water.”

At a groundwater cleanup facility set to open in the San Fernando Valley in 2023, water will flow from sand separators that will work in a cyclonic motion into a cartridge filter to remove small materials and then the advanced oxidation process begins. Hydrogen peroxide will be added and then a machine with 192 UV lamps will help break the contaminants, which are then destroyed.

Later, any remaining peroxide will be removed, helping to produce water that is safe to drink. An added bonus of this site: Wells that had been out of service because of groundwater contaminants—some for almost a decade—can soon be brought back online.

“This is in some ways an easier engineering feat than what the city did 100 years ago,” Garcetti says of the city’s hopes for self-reliance. “We won’t be drought-free, but I do believe we’ll be drought-resilient.”

 

Updated: 2-10-2022

California Becomes The First U.S. State To Hit 1 Million Plug-In Cars

Tesla’s birthplace took 11 years to reach this milestone.

California has become the first U.S. state to register more than a million plug-in cars, with almost one-quarter of them arriving in 2021 alone, as electric vehicle sales finally accelerate after years of slow growth.

In California’s case, reaching the 1-million milestone took 11 years.

As of Dec. 31, California drivers had registered 663,014 purely electric cars and 379,125 plug-in hybrids, which use gasoline when not running on electricity. Of those, 183,933 battery-electric cars and 63,141 plug-in hybrids were bought or leased in 2021, according to data from the California Energy Commission. Together, they accounted for more than 12% of all light-duty vehicles sold in the state last year.

Electric vehicle sales in several key markets around the world are now showing rapid growth, as the number of available models expands and consumers become comfortable with the technology. BloombergNEF estimates that the inflection point where EV sales take off can happen once they represent at least 10% of new car sales, with China and Europe already passing that mark.

The first of the current wave of plug-ins — the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt — began deliveries in California at the end of 2010 in response to a state regulation forcing automakers to sell zero-emission vehicles in the state or buy credits from companies that did.

Tesla started building its Model S electric sedan in the San Francisco Bay area in 2012 and soon dominated California’s EV sales, making almost 75% of all battery-electric cars sold in the state last year.

And the state’s eco-conscious, tech-obsessed population proved the perfect U.S. market for EVs, which at first encountered indifference or outright hostility in some parts of the country. By the end of September, California had more than eight times as many battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars as the next closest state, Florida, according to data from an auto industry trade group.

California Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020 signed an executive order to end sales of new, gasoline-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. The state also offers drivers rebates to buy many battery electric or plug-in hybrid models. And in a land renowned for bad traffic, California EV drivers get a coveted perk — a decal that allows them to drive solo in carpool lanes.

Updated: 2-17-2022

California Shifts To New Phase Of Covid Fight As Cases Fade

* State To Rely On Wastewater Scans To Spot New Outbreaks
* Plan Includes Stockpiling Masks, Building Test Supply

California, the first U.S. state to lock down its economy over the coronavirus, on Thursday became the first to explicitly shift to a new strategy of managing Covid as an ongoing risk — while preparing for future outbreaks.

Under a plan unveiled by Governor Gavin Newsom, the state will use wastewater surveillance to spot new infections and variants, while lining up its own supply of tests and a stockpile of 75 million masks to deploy as needed. California also wants to be able to administer 200,000 vaccine doses per day if another surge arrives.

The strategy represents a marked shift from the last two years of mask mandates and lockdowns that shuttered small businesses, emptied Silicon Valley’s corporate campuses and brought Hollywood production to a halt — while fueling an unsuccessful recall drive against the Democratic governor. But with the omicron surge now fading, Newsom said it was time for California to move to a new phase of fighting Covid.

“People are desperate to move past this crisis mode that we’ve been in for the last few years,” Newsom told reporters at a state-run warehouse in San Bernardino County. “People are desperate to get back to whatever semblance of normalcy they vaguely may remember from a few years prior. But they also need to know that we have their back, we’re going to keep them safe, and we’re going to stay on top of this.”

The new plan — given the acronym SMARTER — calls for the state to negotiate with manufacturers to maintain a supply of tests that can be quickly deployed in case wastewater scans detect new outbreaks. California, which has lost more than 82,500 people to the virus, will also work with health-care providers to ensure that hospitals can quickly bring on 3,000 additional clinical staff statewide within three weeks of a future surge.

California lifted its mask mandate for most indoor spaces this week, joining Democrat-led states including Illinois, New York and Nevada in taking steps toward normal life after first the delta and then omicron variant roiled plans. Washington state said Thursday that it plans to lift its mask requirement for spaces including schools on March 21.

California health officials this week said they would leave in place — for now — the requirement that students and teachers wear masks in class. Newsom said Thursday that the state on Feb. 28 would announce a timeline for lifting the mandate.

Updated: 2-19-2022

California’s Green-Energy Subsidies Spur A Gold Rush In Cow Manure

A lucrative state incentive to make natural gas from dairy waste is attracting companies from Amazon to Chevron.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a major distributor of natural gas made from waste, found a way to boost its earnings by millions of dollars, virtually overnight.

Ultimate Resource For What's Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

All it had to do was switch the main biofuel it supplies to power cars and trucks in California—currently a type of natural gas produced with methane emissions from garbage—to a chemically identical gas produced from the manure of cows.

California’s clean-fuels grading system gives cow-poop gas a much better score—and much higher subsidies—than landfill gas. So that simple substitution could net Clean Energy an additional $70 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by 2026, the company estimates.

Together with European energy giants BP PLC and TotalEnergies SE, Clean Energy is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into gas production on dairy farms to milk that advantage. A host of developers, financiers and carbon-conscious corporations, from Chevron Corp. to Amazon.com Inc., are looking to buy or produce the fuel as well.

“It is like magic,” said Andrew Littlefair, Clean Energy’s president and chief executive, of the projected earnings boost.

The surging interest in dairy renewable natural gas, as it is called, shows how incentives can spur action to address the emissions linked to climate change—and sometimes unintended consequences as well. Until a few years ago, the gas, which is interchangeable with conventional natural gas and can replace dirtier fuels like diesel, was a niche product that was too expensive to make commercially.

Now, California’s generous subsidies have prompted what some observers are dubbing a manure gold rush. One developer said he showed up at a dairy only to discover that the farmer had gotten more than 10 pitches for business tie-ups already.

Others said competition for business has gotten so heated that some developers are promising to pay farmers a fixed amount per cow—a risky setup if the price of the California credits plummets.

Ultimate Resource For What's Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

Driving the boom is California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard. The standard requires companies that sell transportation fuels in the state to lower their products’ carbon intensity—the carbon dioxide emitted during manufacture, distribution and consumption.

Companies that exceed the carbon-intensity maximums have to buy offset credits, each of which represents a metric ton of emissions. Those with low-scoring fuels generate credits, whose price goes up and down depending on demand.

The lowest carbon-intensity scores go to fuels that keep warming gases out of the air—particularly methane, a greenhouse gas that can be 84 times more potent in trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scientific group that helps the United Nations evaluate the state of research on the issue.

Other waste sources such as landfills produce methane, too. But California already requires landfills to curb methane emissions while farms don’t have to, and thus they emit more. So capturing the methane from decomposing manure at dairies to make truck fuel cuts net emissions a lot, and reaps some of the best scores of all.

U.S. regulators haven’t generally imposed controls on methane emissions from livestock, since they are tough to implement and politically sensitive.

California Bioenergy LLC, which develops projects to make energy out of manure, in 2016 received the first provisional carbon-intensity score—around negative 270—for a dairy-gas facility. Diesel by comparison has an average carbon-intensity score of more than 100. CalBio, as it is known, now has 41 dairy-gas projects in operation and another 60-odd projects in development.

Its latest project to go online is the 1,500-cow Rib-Arrow Dairy in central California, where manure is now flushed from the floor of the stalls into a covered lagoon, called a digester, so the methane can be collected for processing rather than released into the air.

That raw biogas, which is around 60% methane and the remainder mostly carbon dioxide, is piped to a central facility that collects gas from a cluster of dairies in the area and purifies it for injection into the local utility’s pipeline.

David Ribeiro, a third-generation co-owner of Rib-Arrow, said he had been approached by digester salesmen before, but that adding the gas sales to the environmental benefits finally made everything economically feasible: “We’re like, ‘Wow, this makes sense.’”

There are 116 such facilities currently operating in the U.S.—more than half of which went online last year—and another 121 planned or in construction, according to the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, a nonprofit that promotes gas made from waste. Analysts say thousands more dairies could support such plants, which can reduce foul odors in addition to capturing emissions.

The market is likely to remain small compared with the U.S.’s overall appetite for natural gas in homes, businesses and transport. Even in an optimistic scenario, biogas from manure would supply only around 3% of today’s demand by 2040, according to a 2019 study commissioned by the American Gas Foundation.

Still, money is pouring in from big companies looking to lower their carbon footprints quickly—as well as entrepreneurs smelling a business opportunity. Clean Energy said it is working on more than a billion dollars worth of deals through its dairy-gas joint ventures with BP and Total, and that it hopes to channel more than $2 billion in investment by 2026.

California-based Chevron has committed around $500 million to develop renewable natural-gas supply, starting with dairies. A Chevron investor presentation in September showed plans for a national network of as many as “190,000 milking cow equivalents” and forecast double-digit returns. Amazon has inked a deal with Clean Energy to buy biogas for its massive trucking fleet; it declined to comment.

Ultimate Resource For What's Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

More than half of California’s methane is released from dairy and livestock manure, and by cow burps. The state has vowed to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared with 1990 levels by 2030, and it is focusing on methane reductions in particular. It is also targeting a 20% reduction in the carbon intensity of its transportation fuel relative to 2010, and has so far managed to cut it by more than 7%.

“From our perspective, the program is working to drive private investment” to accomplish the state’s environmental goals, said Matthew Botill, the division chief at California’s Air Resources Board who oversees the state’s low-carbon fuel standard and other climate change programs.

California officials said the program doesn’t cost the state money because its market-based mechanism results in producers and consumers of higher-carbon fuels effectively paying the incentives to the producers and consumers of low-carbon fuels.

Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia are implementing similar fuel standards, and a number of other states are considering them, too. The federal government issues its own, less-lucrative, subsidies for low-carbon fuels.

California’s aggressive incentive system is producing some odd results. One dairy that was already using digesters to collect methane and produce electricity from its manure—the 35,000-cow Threemile Canyon Farms in Oregon—got a relatively high carbon-intensity score of negative 189 when it shifted to making gas for California, since it had fewer emissions to reduce.

Ultimate Resource For What's Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)

“The manure management practices on the farm were so good…that they were penalized a bit,” said Ben Vitale, CEO of Resilient Infrastructure Group, which owns Threemile’s gas plant.

Financiers at Cresta Fund Management, a Texas-based private-equity fund that has two renewable natural gas producers in its portfolio, said they have seen an increasing number of entrepreneurs with little experience in the area trying to raise money for dairy-gas projects.

“We had some authors pitch us,” said John Skrinar, Cresta’s director of sustainable investments. “The reality is, it’s a lot more complicated than just show up, put a swimming pool in the ground, shovel a bunch of cow manure into it, and make a fortune.”

 


Updated: 2-20-2022

New Bill Aims To Introduce Bitcoin As A Legal Tender In California

Ultimate Resource For What's Taking Place In California (#GotBitcoin)
Dennis Porter and Ian C. Calderon introduced a bill in California to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender in the state.

 

On 20 February, political advisor Ian C. Calderon wrote on Twitter that he introduced a bill in collaboration with Bitcoin expert Dennis Porter. The bill aimed to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender in California.

Dennis Porter Dennis Is The Host Of Smart People Shit And The Update. Dennis Is A Political Strategists Who Focuses On Defending Bitcoin Infrastructure And Industry
In The USA Through Public Policy Activism And Advocacy.

 

Related:

Petition: Let’s Make Bitcoin Legal Tender For United States of America

However, the majority of the people supported this bill as the next phase of Bitcoin adoption but on the other side, some people claimed that they are trying to use crypto as a payment method, not legal tender, a tweet like this can be seen below.

After Arizona and the Island of Tonga have recently hit the headlines with a possible move to make bitcoin legal tender, the California bill could disrupt the legal tender race once again.

On February 19th Calderon tweeted that “Together, @Dennis_Porter_ and I are working on a bi-partisan effort to legislatively explore #Bitcoin as legal tender in the State of California. More to come”

Critics aren’t far and a Twitter user replied promptly that the bill does not make #Bitcoin legal tender but would rather just be a provision that potentially allows people to pay tax in crypto.
This is already fact in other states and wouldn’t be a big gamechanger at all:

Another comment revealed:

Don’t trust verify you can read the legislation here

Porter added a link to his tweet which redirects to a petition hosted on votervoice, an advocacy tool to influence policies and educate lawmakers. The petition seeking to raise support and donations is printed in its unabridged form below:

“Now more than ever, it is important for Americans to have money that can be protected from inflation created through monetary debasement. This debasement is an invisible tax on Americans from an unelected board of bankers. We do not accept taxation without representation. Many of us have chosen Bitcoin as our medium of exchange, but the federal government does not recognize Bitcoin as legal tender. This stops the average American from using Bitcoin effectively as a daily medium of exchange without experiencing capital gains taxes.

Its time for the USA to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in the USA.

OUR PRE-AMBLE: We the People of the United States, in order to defend ourselves from debasement, establish freedom, insure domestic productivity, provide for individual defense, promote societal welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do decree and designate Bitcoin as legal tender in the USA.”

Crisis can be a good time to be creative and California is on a steep decline. Having one of the highest tax rates and a growing number of socialist regulations the state has lost it’s attractiveness. An ongoing braindrain not just makes talent move out but more importantly money.

Even the most attached to the Cali-lifestyle make a move and say “good bye” to Malibu and “hell yeah” to Miami. While Miami Mayor Suarez has bold plans to turn Miami into Bitcoin-Mekka, Eric Garcetti Mayor of Los Angeles, is struggling with heaps of hobos in the streets and looted cargo trains. Could a harsh change in policies be the solution?

What If California Would Follow El Salvador

Legalizing bitcoin as legal tender is one of the wildest things a state could possibly do. While El Salvador is risking international trade deals, ratings, correspondent banking and much more, it also has gained unimaginable media attention and hoards of bitcoin tourists.

The president still enjoys high popularity despite international criticism. His openness novel ideas like “volcano bonds”, “bitcoin city” and government level mining are more than just marketing stunts. They could actually help getting the country out of crisis.

California is no comparison to El Salvador. Despite having the same coast to surf, the economy is almost 12 times larger than the one of the developing nation El Salvador. It is in fact the largest in the United States, with a $3.0 trillion gross state product.

Remember, Germany the fourth largest GPD in the world is expected to turn a 4.22 Trillion GDP in 2022.

If California makes bitcoin legal tender it would probably be the official start for global government FOMO. Despite the socialist policies, California is still a tech powerhouse, a bustling economy, a center of innovation and education and a worldwide brand that enjoys admiration as the pinnacle for life quality and prosperity by leaders and nations around the world.

There is nothing to top it. Bitcoin adoption in California would most likely catapult us straight into hyperbitcoinization. It would also be more than a great joke if California would score the second podium on the legal tender races. From the poor micro nation El Salvador right to the top of the world. From OC California to OG California. History that only Bitcoin could write.

 

Updated: 2-21-2022

CA Lawmaker Introduces Legislation To Accept Crypto As Payment For Govt Services

Politicians seeking to represent California at the state or federal level have made proposals seemingly favorable to crypto adoption.

California State Senator Sydney Kamlager, representing the 30th Senate District, which includes parts of downtown Los Angeles, has introduced a bill that would amend the state’s code to allow for the acceptance of cryptocurrencies for certain payments.

According to Senate Bill 1275 introduced in the California Legislature on Feb. 18, Kamlager proposed authorizing a state agency “to accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment for the provision of government services.”

The modification of the current state law, which allows for the establishment of state agencies to provide services to residents that require payments, would add crypto to the list of acceptable payment methods.

The adoption of crypto and blockchain seems to be a prominent issue for many candidates running for office in California in 2022. Aarika Rhodes, an elementary school teacher running to represent the state’s 30th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, is accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and other tokens for campaign contributions in her efforts to unseat anti-crypto lawmaker Brad Sherman.

The crypto bill is the latest move by lawmakers on the state level to address any potential regulatory uncertainty around digital assets. Last week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he expects the state to accept tax payments using cryptocurrencies by summer 2022. In addition, a Tennessee state representative introduced a bill earlier this month that would allow the state to invest in crypto and nonfungible tokens.

Though many of the pushes for state-level regulation of crypto have been from Republican lawmakers, Kamlager and others suggesting similar legislation — as well as efforts at the federal level — seem to suggest that the space can be open to more than one political party.

Patrick McHenry, a Republican representing North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives, called for “broad, bipartisan consensus” in January over issues potentially affecting the crypto industry.

Updated: 2-22-2022

Guide To Animal Rights Laws In California

Laws related to animals are made at the federal, state, and local levels. This page is for laws throughout the state of California. Be sure to also read our Guide to Animal Rights in the U.S., and Guide to Animal Rights in the Los Angeles area and San Francisco area.

 

1. General

Is It Illegal To Kill Or Harm An Animal In California?

Yes, Animal Abuse Or Cruelty Is Illegal Except For Any Of The Following:

  • Legal Hunting Under The California “Game Laws
  • Killing Or Harming An Animal That Poses A Danger To Life Or Property
  • Killing An Animal “Used For Food” (See Section Below For More On This)
  • Scientific Experiments Under The Authority Of Faculty Of A Medical College Or University

Specifically, It Is Illegal To Do Any Of The Following To Animals:

  • Poison Them, Except For “Predatory” Animals
  • Torture Them, Including Force-feeding (For Foie Gras)
  • Overwork Them
  • Deprive Them Of Necessary Food, Drink, Or Shelter

Is It Illegal To Kill Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Or Fish?

It is illegal to kill these animals depending on where and what specific species, as specified in the California Fish and Game code.

2. Animals In Cars

Is It Illegal To Leave An Animal In A Car?

It is illegal to leave any animal in a car where it could endanger the health or well being of the animal, due to extreme heat, extreme cold, lack of food or water, or other circumstances.

Is It Legal To Break Into A Car To Rescue An Animal?

Yes, under certain circumstances. You must reasonably believe that it is necessary to break into the car in order to save an animal from imminent harm, and you must contact law enforcement, animal control, or the fire department. You must remain with the animal until the authorities arrive.7

If I Break A Car Window To Save An Animal, Can I Be Sued?

If you follow the above rules, you can not be held liable for the damage you cause to the car.

3. Fur & Other Products

Is It Legal To Sell Fur Or Manufacture Fur In California?

As of September 2019, there is now a ban on trapping animals for their fur and pelts in California. However, it is generally not illegal to sell fur in California, except for in a few cities. But the state may soon pass a law to change this.

As of August 2019, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, San Francisco, and Berkeley currently have fur bans.

In these cities, the general rule is that stores may not sell fur clothing or accessories unless it is vintage (used), or from an animal that was trapped under a state license.

Is It Legal To Sell Alligator Or Crocodile Products?

California bans the importation or sale of alligator and crocodile products. However this ban is currently on hold. The state of Louisiana sued to stop the ban, and the courts are determining whether or not to allow it.

4. Breeding Animals

Is It Legal For Stores To Sell Pets That Come From A Breeder?

Several cities in California prohibit stores from selling cats, dogs, or rabbits that come from a commercial breeder (aka “puppy mill”). These cities include Los Angeles, Irvine, Hermosa Beach and West Hollywood. But in general, stores may still sell rescued animals (“rescues”) such as from a shelter. And cities generally do NOT ban individuals from buying directly from breeders.

5. Animal Fighting

Is Dogfighting Illegal?

Yes, it is illegal to participate in dogfighting in any way, including simply being present and watching a dog fight.9

Is Cockfighting Illegal?

Yes.

Is It Illegal To Get Other Animals To Fight?

Yes.

6. Farm Animals or Animals Used For Food

Are There Any Rules On Treating Farm Animals?

Yes. For any pig during pregnancy, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen who is kept on a farm:

they may NOT be tethered or confined, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs; and turning around freely.12

This is also known as the “cage free egg” law. This law comes from Proposition 2, which California voters passed in 2008.

Beginning in 2020, there will be additional regulations, from Prop 12 which passed in November 2018. Phased in over the next 4 years, certain farm animals must not be confined in spaces smaller than the following: starting in 2020, calves raised for veal must have at least 43 square feet of space, and egg-laying hens (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) must have at least 1 square foot of space; and starting in 2022, breeding pigs must have at least 24 square feet. And meat cannot be sold in CA that does not meet these requirements.

Is It Legal To Sell Horsemeat?

It Is Illegal To Sell Horse Meat In California.

Is It Legal To Eat Roadkill?

Not yet, but it will be by 2022. A new law directs the California Fish and Game Commission to develop a program which would allow people to collect and potentially eat wild animals which were killed in traffic collisions.14 The animals would include deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, or wild pig. You would need to get a “wildlife salvage permit” from the Commission.

7. Cosmetics

Is It Illegal To Test Cosmetic Products On Animals?

Manufacturers and contract testing facilities are prohibited from using traditional animal testing methods within California when an appropriate alternative test method has been scientifically validated and recommended by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) or other specified agencies.

Also, as of January 2020, it is illegal to sell any cosmetics with ingredients that have been tested on animals.15

8. Bestiality

Is It Illegal To Have Sex With Animals?

Yes, Any Sexual Contact With Animals Is Illegal.

9. Circus Animals

Is It Illegal To Use Wild Animals In The Circus?

Yes, as of January 2020 it is illegal for a circus to use any animal other than a domestic cat, domestic dog, or domesticated horse. This means bears, tigers, lions, elephants, monkeys or other wild animals cannot be used for such entertainment.17

Further Resources

See more rules on animal welfare in California Penal Code, Title 14.

 

Updated; 6-2-2022

California Reparations Could See 2.8 Million African Americans Compensated

A California plan to financially compensate the descendants of enslaved African Americans could potentially see 2.8 million people in the state receive reparations, though details of the plan are not yet available.

California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans published its interim report on Wednesday about the state’s historic role in slavery.

That report did not outline how a program of reparations would work but a detailed plan is expected in the task force’s final report due out in 2023, which will have potentially major implications for California’s African American population.

There are around 2.8 million African Americans in California—less than 6 percent of the state’s population—but it’s not yet clear how many would qualify for reparations payments.

In March, the reparations task force voted to limit reparations to those who are descended from free and enslaved persons who were living in the U.S. during the 19th century. Some advocates had called for reparations to include all Black people in the state.

It is not yet known what form the reparations might take or how much individuals may receive in financial restitution.

One of the task force’s recommendations suggests the creation of a cabinet-level position to oversee a new African American Affairs agency.

That agency would assist people in filing claims for reparations and would include a genealogy branch “to support potential claimants with genealogical research and to confirm eligibility.”

California Attorney General Rob Bonta welcomed the interim report, saying in a statement: “Without accountability, there is no justice. For too long, our nation has ignored the harms that have been—and continue to be—inflicted on African Americans in California and across the country.”

“California was not a passive actor in perpetuating these harms,” Bonta said. “We must double down on our efforts to address discrimination in our state and nation and take a hard look at our own history, including at the California Department of Justice.”

“This interim report is a historic step by the State of California to acknowledge the insidious effects of slavery and ongoing systemic discrimination, recognize the state’s failings, and move toward rectifying the harm,” the attorney general said.

California is the first state in the nation to move forward with potential reparations for the descendants of enslaved people. Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation creating the task force in 2020.

In March 2021, Evanston, Illinois became the first city in the U.S. to pay reparations for slavery. The initial phase of Evanston’s plan involved paying 16 city residents $25,000 for home repairs or property costs. The overall program was set to cost $10 million.

The California task force’s report comes less than three weeks before Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army announced to the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, that they were free. Texas was the last former Confederate state that still had institutional slavery.

 

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