<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Political News, Bay Area Politics]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.comen-usSun, 23 Apr 2017 13:26:58 -0700Sun, 23 Apr 2017 13:26:58 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Pelosi: Border Wall Is ‘Immoral, Expensive, Unwise’]]> Sun, 23 Apr 2017 09:07:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/pelosibudgetfeuerherd.jpg

A deal to fund the federal government this week won't necessarily include all the funds needed for a border wall, but White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Sunday said there will be "enough to get going" — even as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it "immoral," NBC News reported.

Asked by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview whether the Trump administration would push a government shutdown if border wall funding is not included in a bill to fund the government this week, Priebus said, "it will be enough in the negotiation for us to either move forward with either the construction or the planning or enough to get going with the border wall."

Pelosi said she and the Democrats will stand firmly against construction of a border wall. 

"The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise, and when the president says, 'Well, I promised a wall during my campaign.' I don't think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall on to the taxpayer," she said.



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<![CDATA[Will She Run? Feinstein Could Return for Historic Sixth Term]]> Sun, 23 Apr 2017 09:02:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Dianne-Feinstein-GettyImages-479912288.jpg

NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston reviews Sen. Dianne Feinstein's historic career and examines the pros and cons for a record sixth term.



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<![CDATA[Most Americans Think Trump Off to Fair-Poor Start: Poll]]> Sun, 23 Apr 2017 06:21:21 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-642088032.jpg

About two-thirds of Americans give President Donald Trump poor or middling marks for his first 100 days in office, including a plurality who say he's off to a "poor start," according to results from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Forty-five percent of respondents in the survey believe Trump is off to a poor start, with an additional 19 percent who say it's been "only a fair start," NBC News reported. That's compared with a combined 35 percent who think the president's first three months in office have been either "good" or "great."

Trump's overall job-approval rating stands at 40 percent—down four points from February. It's the lowest job-approval rating for a new president at this 100-day stage in the history of the NBC/WSJ poll.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 17-20 of 900 adults, including more than 400 who were interviewed by cell phone. The poll's overall margin of error is plus-minus 3.3 percentage points.



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<![CDATA[Mike Pence Discusses North Korea With Australia Leader]]> Sat, 22 Apr 2017 15:41:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2017-04-22-at-6.46.52-PM.jpg

Vice President Mike Pence and Australia's Prime Minister have joined forces on the issue of North Korea. They urged China to pressure the North Korean regime to drop its nuclear weapons program.

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<![CDATA[Hillary Clinton Warns Trump Admin. Threatens LGBT Rights]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:32:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hcAP_17096774888472.jpg

Hillary Clinton slammed President Donald Trump Thursday at a fundraiser, saying his administration is a threat to LGBT rights, NBC News reported.

"Each time this administration elevates an outspoken opponent of LGBT equality," the former presidential candidate said, "I picture all of the joyful, beaming couples that I've met across our country … who are so excited to get married, start a family, and begin their lives together."

At the event in New York City, Clinton criticized Trump for withdrawing Obama-era school guidance aimed at protecting transgender kids, which instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their chosen gender identities.

The former secretary of state was at the fundraiser to receive the LGBT Center's Trailblazer award.



Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Groups Take Aim at USDA for Animal Welfare Document Takedown]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:06:53 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/USDA-Headquarters-GettyImages-71752176.jpg

Thousands of public records about animal welfare have vanished from the internet, part of a government database that included atrocious puppy mill conditions, improper veterinary care and other mistreatment of animals. Now activists are hitting back at the USDA in the courtroom and by posting deleted records online.

The United States' Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) cited ongoing litigation and privacy concerns as the reason for its database's removal two months ago.

APHIS, an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), previously hosted open records on its website pertaining to the administration of the Animal Welfare Act. The law regulates the treatment of animals in research facilities, maintains a minimum standard of care for warm-blooded animals and requires cats and dogs to be held in pounds for five days before being released to dealers. Included in the records are inspection reports, research facility reports and enforcement actions. The documents provide information on animal experiments, puppy mill conditions and the treatment of animals at circuses, among other things.

APHIS' explanation for the documents' removal wasn't sufficient for those passionate about animal rights, or defenders of public information. They say the information is crucial for public oversight, and that it takes away animal-rights groups' ability to ensure the law is being enforced. 

One man took it upon himself to collect and post thousands of the deleted documents using his website The Memory Hole.

"When I first heard that the database had been pulled offline, I remember I proactively grabbed some of those documents," said Russ Kick, a writer and editor who runs the site.

While some of the records were the result of his own research, many have been sent to him by others who have also taken interest in the deletion of APHIS' database.

Talk of scrubbing the database began before President Donald Trump's administration took office in January. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Washington Post in February the department responsible for enforcing the Horse Protection and Animal Welfare acts had recommended removing the database from the web and making the documents available through a Freedom of Information Act request. He said he did not act on the recommendation because he did not have enough time left to review it before leaving his job. 

The documents were removed from the department's website in early February, and only some have been returned since. Some enforcement records are also available on the Office of Administrative Law Judges' website. 

Delcianna Winders, an academic fellow in the Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School, said that no new enforcement records had been posted online since 2016. 

On its website, APHIS said it decided to make adjustments to posting the records before the change of administration. 

"In addition, APHIS is currently involved in litigation concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency's website," the agency said on its site. 

Though APHIS said it is defending against the litigation, its statement added, "in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy."

Kick, with The Memory Hole, isn't alone in his effort to share the documents with the public.

Winders, who uses the documents for her own work at Harvard, sent thousands of the records she's saved to Kick to publish on his site.

"The impact is huge, I don’t think it can be overstated," she said of the documents' removal.

Numerous groups use the records regularly in order to ensure that the agency is complying with the Animal Welfare Act, she added. 

"Those laws have basically become unenforceable now," she said.

She isn’t the only one who feels that way.

"Animals across the country are in jeopardy so long as the USDA's illegal deletion of records continues," said Brittany Peet, the director of captive animal law enforcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

She said PETA is part of a coalition that has filed a lawsuit against the USDA to force them to restore the documents. Winders is a plaintiff in the same lawsuit, according to the complaint.

PETA has also made available through a Dropbox over 21,000 of its own copies of the deleted records, which Kick also said he linked to on his site.

APHIS has restored some of the deleted documents, but the amount is a far cry from the volume that had been maintained online for years, experts say.

In a statement to NBC, APHIS spokesperson Tanya Espinosa said the agency began reposting some information online on Feb. 17. The statement added that people can submit FOIA requests for the records.

"If the same records are frequently requested via the Freedom of Information Act process, APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website," Espinosa said.

Kathleen Conlee, vice president of Animal Research Issues at the Humane Society of the U.S., said her organization won’t stop working until all of the information is restored. 

"[This] has a major impact on the public and consumers and it spans a wide avenue of animal issues," Conlee told NBC.

Peet echoed Conlee’s sentiment, saying, "This isn’t just about animal welfare. The Animal Welfare Act also regulates important human safety issues."

Some of these issues include being able to find out about diseases at zoos, or attacks by dangerous, captive animals, she said.

This isn't the first time animal rights groups have had to battle it out with the USDA.

In the early 2000’s, Conlee said, the same information was inaccessible for a short time. The organization filed a lawsuit, which resulted in a settlement that compelled APHIS to make documents public.

All annual reports, including pain and distress information, had to be made available to the public electronically. The USDA was also forced to indicate on its site which facilities didn't submit annual reports. 

The Humane Society issued a notice of violation of court order and intent to enforce or reopen the lawsuit in February shortly after the documents were removed from the internet. The notice states that the USDA violated the terms of the 2009 agreement.

APHIS hasn’t always received a gold star for its enforcement of the law, either — something experts were quick to point out.

In a 2014 report, the Office of the Inspector General "cites specific examples of enforcement deficiencies, poor oversight, inadequate penalties, lack of deterrence, and many examples of animals suffering and dying," according to the Animal Welfare Institute.

Politicians are also backing efforts to get the records fully restored through legislation to compel the agency to make the documents public.

Peet said public scrutiny has been the primary thing holding the agency's feet to the fire when it comes to ensuring that basic animal welfare standards are upheld.

"And that's been taken away," she said. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[Ivanka Trump's Chinese Fan Club Worships 'Goddess Ivanka']]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:40:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ivankatrumpinauguration_1200x675.jpg

The White House's first daughter Ivanka Trump is a star among the young Chinese population, news agencies such as China's official news agency Xinhua has described Trump as "capable and stylish," and the Communist Party's flagship newspaper, The People's Daily, called her "elegant and sociable," NBC News reported.

An online fan club that has thousands of followers is called "Goddess Ivanka."

But her fame and fandom has meant that hundreds of copycat Chinese companies have tried to cash in on her brand. 

Trump's company has 16 registered trademarks in China and more than 30 pending applications, according to China's Trademark Office database, The Associated Press reported. Those are in addition to at least five trademarks given preliminary approval since the presidential inauguration.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Welcomes Palin, Nugent and Kid Rock to the White House]]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 07:27:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kidrockandthenuge.jpg

Rockers Ted Nugent and Kid Rock joined former reality show star and one-time Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin for dinner at the White House with President Donald Trump Wednesday night, an administration official told NBC News. 

Palin, a former Alaska governor, posted photos on Facebook of her, Nugent and Rock in the oval office, speaking with the president and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. 

"A great night at the White House. Thank you to President Trump for the invite!" Palin wrote in a caption that accompanies the photos.

Palin and Rock were early supporters of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Nugent, who has sparked controversies with his outlandish political comments in recent years, also supported the future president during the campaign. 

Known as the "Motor City Madman," Nugent called for President Barack Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be “tried for treason and hung” after an American ambassador and others were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. 

He was also recorded calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and a “gangster” in 2014.



Photo Credit: Getty/FilmMagic
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<![CDATA[Day 91: North Korea Promises a “Super-Mighty Preemptive Strike “ Against America]]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 07:32:28 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/3-2-17-100days-trump-SCOTT+MCGREW.jpg

If US does absolutely doing nothing means North Korea can continue their research. Scott McGrew reports.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[White House Defends Aircraft Carrier Claim]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:52:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/NC_trump160419_1500x845.jpg

White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended the Pentagon's claim of sending the Carl Vinson strike group to North Korea as a nuclear deterrent. The Carl Vinson was reportedly heading the opposite direction, to Australia, for a training exercise. 

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<![CDATA[Day 90: Do You See Elephants or Donkeys? A Political Rorschach Test.]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 07:47:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/3-2-17-100days-trump-SCOTT+MCGREW.jpg

Both Democrats and Republicans claim victory in a Congressional race where neither side actually won. Scott McGrew reports.



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<![CDATA[Examining President Trump’s Action on H-1B Visas]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:43:59 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/04-18-2017-h1b-visa.jpg

President Trump’s action on the H-1B visas is no surprise since as a candidate he vowed to end the program. NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston examines how this may affect California, especially the Bay Area.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>