LGBT employees protected from workplace discrimination, appeals court rules

The Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBT employees, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.”We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination,” Judge Diane Wood wrote for…

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McConnell starts clock on Neil Gorsuch nuclear showdown

Senate Republicans took their first procedural step Tuesday toward implementing the “nuclear option” to get Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court over Democratic opposition when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to end debate on his nomination.

A vote on that “cloture” motion will take place Thursday. Democrats can block ending debate — what’s known as a filibuster — by mustering 41 votes against it, which they are expected to be able to do.

At that point, McConnell will turn to the nuclear option by essentially declaring from the Senate floor that from now on filibusters of Supreme Court nominees can be stopped with 51 votes not 60, as has been the case for decades.

McConnell’s declaration would then be enforced by a roll call vote when 51 votes are needed to create the new Senate precedent. Vice President Mike Pence will be standing by to break a tie if not all 52 Republicans back the nuclear option, which is possible.

Once the new threshold is in place, there will be a re-vote to end debate, or break the filibuster of Gorsuch, which will then be able to be done with just 51 GOP votes.

McConnell offered a one word answer: “yes” when asked earlier Tuesday at his weekly presser if Republicans are confident they have the votes for the nuclear option.

Senate rules then allow for up to 30 hours of “post-cloture” debate time, which Democrats are expected to use. That would set up a final confirmation vote sometime Friday evening.

The change is an unpopular move that the then-majority Democrats used in 2013 for lower court judges and executive nominees. Many Republicans have shown great reluctance about using it this year but argue they have no other path to overcome the filibuster.

Some members from both parties have expressed hope that informal, bipartisan discussions could yield a compromise in the next couple of days to avert the nuclear option.

“I am open to conversations about how we might preserve the filibuster. There’s three paths forward here, and now it is clear to the Republican majority that if they choose to break the rules, to change the rules, that will be on them,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said on CNN’s “New Day.” “They can step back and recognize this is a historic moment, now that it’s clear both sides have the votes and we need to have a conversation. Or they could consult with us and reconsider Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.”

Sen. Susan Collins, who’d been involved in the bipartisan talks to find a compromise, said Tuesday the chances of a compromise looked bleak.

“I think it’s extremely unlikely, regrettably,” she told reporters.

Republican Sen. John McCain, who was also part of the talks in recent weeks, said on “New Day” that the nuclear option is “going to happen.”

“I think it’s a dark day in the history of the United States Senate. It’s going to happen. It’s interesting that Republicans were dead set against it when my former colleague Harry Reid invoked it with the judges, but now it seems to be OK,” McCain said.

He described the Senate as “so polarized” now that “there’s no communications anymore.”

“If you can do this with 51 votes, what do you think the next nominee is going to be like? What do you think will happen when eventually Democrats are in majority in the Senate? That’s doing to happen sooner rather than later,” he added. “I hope later.”

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Chinese-Americans anticipate outcome of Trump’s meeting with Chinese president president

Miami businessman James Zheng runs a wholesale tool business, and many of his products are made in China.

Zheng moved to the United States  from China 22 years ago, and now is leader in the Chinese-American community in South Florida.

 He plans to lead 50 buses to Palm Beach to line the streets this week to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of his meeting with President Donald Trump.

“We are very excited, the whole Chinese community is very excited,” Zhang said. 

President Donald Trump has been very critical of trade relationship between the U.S. and China.

He claimed on the campaign trail that China was taking advantage of the U.S. economically.

“We are living here so we do business with China and all over the world, we bring things in from China. We hope everything settles completely,” Zhang said.

Zhang believes that culturally there is a disconnect between the leaders, that can be fixed with a productive meeting.

“A lot of the things in the culture are different we need to learn from each other,” Zhang said.

The latest White House announcement about the visit gave a few more details about what will happen over the two days.

Both presidents will arrive in Palm Beach on Thursday afternoon and the 24-hour meeting will begin immediately.

Thursday night, there will be a formal dinner; the next day, the meeting will continue through a working lunch.

Regarding the importance of the meeting, White House officials said there is no greater economic relationship in the world, and that they are very concerned about the imbalance.

During the 24-hour meeting, they hope to start a relationship and create a framework where issues can be productively discussed. 

Zhang is on board with that plan.

“We need to help each other; not only China need America, America need China,” he said.

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Chinese-Americans anticipate outcome of Trump’s meeting with Chinese president president

Miami businessman James Zheng runs a wholesale tool business, and many of his products are made in China.

Zheng moved to the United States  from China 22 years ago, and now is leader in the Chinese-American community in South Florida.

 He plans to lead 50 buses to Palm Beach to line the streets this week to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of his meeting with President Donald Trump.

“We are very excited, the whole Chinese community is very excited,” Zhang said. 

President Donald Trump has been very critical of trade relationship between the U.S. and China.

He claimed on the campaign trail that China was taking advantage of the U.S. economically.

“We are living here so we do business with China and all over the world, we bring things in from China. We hope everything settles completely,” Zhang said.

Zhang believes that culturally there is a disconnect between the leaders, that can be fixed with a productive meeting.

“A lot of the things in the culture are different we need to learn from each other,” Zhang said.

The latest White House announcement about the visit gave a few more details about what will happen over the two days.

Both presidents will arrive in Palm Beach on Thursday afternoon and the 24-hour meeting will begin immediately.

Thursday night, there will be a formal dinner; the next day, the meeting will continue through a working lunch.

Regarding the importance of the meeting, White House officials said there is no greater economic relationship in the world, and that they are very concerned about the imbalance.

During the 24-hour meeting, they hope to start a relationship and create a framework where issues can be productively discussed. 

Zhang is on board with that plan.

“We need to help each other; not only China need America, America need China,” he said.

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In a Trump-defying move, California’s Senate passes sanctuary state bill

In defiance of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the California Senate passed a bill to limit state and local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Senate Bill 54, which unofficially has been called a “sanctuary state” bill, bars state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources, including money, facility, property, equipment or personnel, to help with immigration enforcement. They would be prohibited from asking about immigration status, giving federal immigration authorities access to interview a person in custody or assisting them in immigration enforcement.

The bill passed the Senate in a 27-12 vote along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition.

SB 54 heads to the California State Assembly, where Democrats hold a super majority. If it passes there, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Its author, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, hailed SB 54’s passage on Monday as “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.”

What the bill says

SB 54 bars law enforcement from detaining a person due to a hold request, responding to federal immigration enforcement’s requests for notification or providing information about a person’s release date unless that’s already available publicly.

“Our precious local law enforcement resources will be squandered if police are pulled from their duties to arrest otherwise law-abiding maids, busboys, labors, mothers and fathers,” said de León in a statement.

The bill contains some exceptions, allowing local agencies to transfer individuals to federal immigration authorities if there is a judicial warrant or if the person has been previously convicted of a violent felony. It also requires notification to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of scheduled releases of people who have been convicted of violent felonies.

“No one wants dangerous or violent criminals roaming our streets,” de León said.

Opposition to the bill

But critics say the bill has critical flaws.

State Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican representing southwest Riverside County, argued on the floor that he recognized many undocumented workers don’t commit crimes and play a vital role in California. But he said that’s not what SB 54 addresses.

“We’re prohibiting local and state unfettered communications with federal authorities in getting many dangerous and violent felons out of our communities,” Stone said.

He said the latest amendments to the bill don’t cover other serious crimes such as human trafficking, child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.

“How many more Kate Steinles do we need?” he asked.

The shooting death of Kate Steinle in 2015 sparked a national debate over so-called sanctuary cities and became a rallying cry for Trump on the campaign trail.

An undocumented immigrant and repeat felon from Mexico who’d been deported five times, is accused of shooting Steinle as she walked on a San Francisco pier. Her family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against San Francisco and its former sheriff over the city’s sanctuary policy, which was dismissed earlier this year.

Sanctuary cities in California

The immigration issue looms large in California where nearly a quarter of the US population of undocumented immigrants reside. Estimates range from 2.35 to 2.6 million, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Several California counties such as Monterey, Santa Clara and San Diego already have sanctuary protections.

The term “sanctuary cities” refers to jurisdictions including counties and major cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco that have policies in place that limit cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws and protect local immigrant populations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said the Trump administration will use federal funds to crack down on “sanctuary cities” and states that choose not to comply with federal immigration laws.

Other bills that passed the Senate

On Monday, the Senate also passed Senate Bill 6 in a 28-11 vote that creates a $12 million legal defense fund for immigrants who are facing deportation, except for those convicted of a violent felony.

It also approved Senate Bill 31, which prohibits any state or local agencies from disclosing personal information regarding a person’s religious beliefs to the federal government for the purpose of creating a database. The bill doesn’t explicitly refer to a Muslim registry. SB 31 passed 36-0.

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In a Trump-defying move, California’s Senate passes sanctuary state bill

In defiance of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the California Senate passed a bill to limit state and local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Senate Bill 54, which unofficially has been called a “sanctuary state” bill, bars state and local law enforcement agencies from using their resources, including money, facility, property, equipment or personnel, to help with immigration enforcement. They would be prohibited from asking about immigration status, giving federal immigration authorities access to interview a person in custody or assisting them in immigration enforcement.

The bill passed the Senate in a 27-12 vote along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition.

SB 54 heads to the California State Assembly, where Democrats hold a super majority. If it passes there, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Its author, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, hailed SB 54’s passage on Monday as “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.”

What the bill says

SB 54 bars law enforcement from detaining a person due to a hold request, responding to federal immigration enforcement’s requests for notification or providing information about a person’s release date unless that’s already available publicly.

“Our precious local law enforcement resources will be squandered if police are pulled from their duties to arrest otherwise law-abiding maids, busboys, labors, mothers and fathers,” said de León in a statement.

The bill contains some exceptions, allowing local agencies to transfer individuals to federal immigration authorities if there is a judicial warrant or if the person has been previously convicted of a violent felony. It also requires notification to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of scheduled releases of people who have been convicted of violent felonies.

“No one wants dangerous or violent criminals roaming our streets,” de León said.

Opposition to the bill

But critics say the bill has critical flaws.

State Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican representing southwest Riverside County, argued on the floor that he recognized many undocumented workers don’t commit crimes and play a vital role in California. But he said that’s not what SB 54 addresses.

“We’re prohibiting local and state unfettered communications with federal authorities in getting many dangerous and violent felons out of our communities,” Stone said.

He said the latest amendments to the bill don’t cover other serious crimes such as human trafficking, child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon.

“How many more Kate Steinles do we need?” he asked.

The shooting death of Kate Steinle in 2015 sparked a national debate over so-called sanctuary cities and became a rallying cry for Trump on the campaign trail.

An undocumented immigrant and repeat felon from Mexico who’d been deported five times, is accused of shooting Steinle as she walked on a San Francisco pier. Her family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against San Francisco and its former sheriff over the city’s sanctuary policy, which was dismissed earlier this year.

Sanctuary cities in California

The immigration issue looms large in California where nearly a quarter of the US population of undocumented immigrants reside. Estimates range from 2.35 to 2.6 million, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Several California counties such as Monterey, Santa Clara and San Diego already have sanctuary protections.

The term “sanctuary cities” refers to jurisdictions including counties and major cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco that have policies in place that limit cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws and protect local immigrant populations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said the Trump administration will use federal funds to crack down on “sanctuary cities” and states that choose not to comply with federal immigration laws.

Other bills that passed the Senate

On Monday, the Senate also passed Senate Bill 6 in a 28-11 vote that creates a $12 million legal defense fund for immigrants who are facing deportation, except for those convicted of a violent felony.

It also approved Senate Bill 31, which prohibits any state or local agencies from disclosing personal information regarding a person’s religious beliefs to the federal government for the purpose of creating a database. The bill doesn’t explicitly refer to a Muslim registry. SB 31 passed 36-0.

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