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Sanchez takes heat over comment about Muslims

By Josh Richman
Friday, December 11th, 2015 at 11:40 am in U.S. Senate

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a candidate in California’s 2016 U.S. Senate race, is taking heat for comments about Muslims that some have deemed offensive.

Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, was on PoliticKING with Larry King on Thursday to discuss U.S. efforts against the so-called Islamic State. Early in the segment, she said “we shouldn’t look at people in a one-dimension way – in other words, this is not against all Muslims, this is not about Muslims in our country, many of them are helping us in this heroic fight against ISIS.”

But soon after the first commercial break, King asked Sanchez to discuss President Obama’s hesitance to deem acts like last week’s San Bernardino shooting as “radical Islamic terrorism” – a term many experts say plays into ISIS’ hands by casting this as a holy war.

“We know that there is a small group – and we don’t know big that is, that can be anywhere between 5 and 20 percent from the people that I speak to – that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible, and in particular go after what they consider Western norms, our way of life,” she said. “They are not content enough to have their way of looking at the world, they want to put their way on everybody in the world. And again, I don’t know how big that is, depending on who you talk to, but there certainly, they are willing to go to extremes, they are willing to use – and they do use – terrorism, and it is in the name of a very wrong way of looking at Islam.”

Estimates of ISIS’ fighting force range from 32,000 to 200,000, though that number doesn’t include radical Islamic fundamentalists elsewhere. But the Pew Research Center estimates there were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010, making up 23 percent of the world’s population, and it is the world’s fastest-growing religion. In the United States, there are an estimated 1.8 million Muslim adults, just under 1 percent of the nation’s adult population.

Eddie Kurtz, executive director the California-based liberal grassroots Courage Campaign, issued a statement Friday urging Sanchez to quit the Senate race.

“America is a melting pot – and California is the most diverse place in the nation – with more than 388,000 Muslims living as our neighbors and friends across our state. For Rep. Sanchez to suggest that even 5 percent of them would resort to violence is the sort of racist, idiotic nonsense we expect from Donald Trump and right-wing Republicans,” Kurtz said.

“While Rep. Sanchez has a legacy of leadership, these comments make it clear that she does not have the skills, or the judgment to represent our beautiful state and all its peoples in the U.S. Senate,” he said.

The California Immigrant Policy Center demanded an apology.

“At a time when bigoted, Islamophobic rhetoric is spurring troubling incidents of hate across the country – including in Orange County – Representative Loretta Sanchez’ wildly off-the-mark claims are irresponsible and dangerous,” said Reshma Shamasunder, the center’s executive director. “We expect California’s representatives to uphold our values of inclusion and diversity, not trample them. We call upon Rep. Sanchez to immediately apologize.”

Other candidates seeking to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in next year’s election include California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat; Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside; former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette; and former state GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills.

UPDATE @ 12:07 P.M.: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles has now weighed in, too, blasting both Sanchez and LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich; the latter, in a speech to constituents after the shooting, had said, “The first thing I asked about this incident, was the guy named Mohammad?”

“In the most diverse state in the nation, California’s political leaders must uphold our cherished principles of tolerance and diversity and strive for unity, not divisiveness,” said Karin Wang, the group’s vice president. “We call upon both Representative Sanchez and Supervisor Antonovich to apologize. Their recent comments will serve only to jeopardize the safety of not just Muslim communities but also other South Asian and Middle Eastern communities, as we have already seen from the attack this past weekend against a Sikh temple in Buena Park.”

UPDATE @ 12:48 P.M.: The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American Islamic-Relations now has condemned Sanchez’s comment, too.

“California Muslims are disappointed by the harmful statement made by Rep. Loretta Sanchez about Muslims,” said CAIR-LA spokesman Haroon Manjlai. “Using inaccurate polls that reinforce false stereotypes about the Muslim community, at a time when right-wing bigots are calling for fascist measures against Muslims, is inexcusable, and even more perplexing considering she represents a large Muslim constituency and has had the opportunity to learn how peaceful and patriotic that community is.”

Polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of American Muslims, more than any other religious community in the nation, see no justification for violence, he noted.

“While Congresswoman Sanchez’s record on civil rights, especially with the American Muslim community, is praiseworthy, public discourse is not advanced by the use of biased polls that fuel paranoia,” Manjlai said. “In the face of terrorism that knows no faith or morals, we expect our elected leaders to unite us, celebrate our rich diversity, and protect our pluralism. We call on Congresswoman Sanchez to discredit and reject this, and other bias motivated studies that aim to malign Muslims.”

UPDATE @ 1 P.M.: Sanchez’ campaign has just issued a statement, but not an apology.

“Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is not withdrawing from the U.S. Senate race. California voters will decide who the Senator will be in the 2016 election,” reads the statement sent by spokesman Luis Vizcaino. “I trust they will elect the only candidate with national security experience – Loretta Sanchez is that candidate.”

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GOP knocks Clinton for Solyndra-related supporter

By Josh Richman
Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 4:37 pm in 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton

Republicans are trying to revive Solyndra – the Fremont-based solar energy company that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving a federal loan guarantee – as an issue in 2016’s presidential campaign.

Hillary screenshotThe Republican National Committee has published an opposition research brief titled “Another Scandal in the Making” that knocks Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her scheduled attendance Friday at a Tulsa, Okla. fundraiser hosted by billionaire oilman and banker George Kaiser, a prominent Democratic fundraiser.

“Clinton is cashing in with a central figure in the Obama administration’s Solyndra scandal,” the GOP’s memo says.

Bloomberg News reported in 2011 that Kaiser’s family foundation invested $340 million in Solyndra, partly in hope that the solar-cell manufacturer would open a plant in Tulsa.

Solyndra also had received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government. The company, facing stiff competition from solar manufacturers in China and elsewhere, declared bankruptcy in September 2011; taxpayers took a loss of about $500 million. However, the renewable-energy loan program overall has made more money than it lost.

Solyndra in 2012 became a poster child for GOP charges of the Obama administration’s cronyism, in that the Energy Department apparently had pushed the loan guarantee through for a company in which several prominent Democratic donors were invested. Republican nominee Mitt Romney held a news conference in May 2012 outside the company’s shuttered headquarters. And an Energy Department inspector general’s report released in August found that Solyndra company officials had misrepresented facts and omitted key information in their efforts to secure the loan guarantee, while the department itself wasn’t adequately diligent and felt political pressure to OK the application.

The GOP’s new memo notes Clinton spoke in support of Solyndra in 2011 while serving as U.S. Secretary of State, and that Kaiser has donated up to $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. It also notes that although Kaiser said he didn’t discuss the loan guarantee with the government, an email trail later revealed that his foundation’s staff had.

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Might California ban gun sales to terror watch lists?

By Josh Richman
Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 4:03 pm in Assembly, Gavin Newsom, Gov. Jerry Brown, gun control

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed Thursday to use an executive order to ban gun sales to those on federal no-fly watch lists – begging the question of whether California might seek to do the same.

The Democratic governor said state officials are working with the federal government to get access to the lists. “If you cannot fly due to being on a government watch list, you should not be able to purchase a firearm while on that watch list as well,” Malloy told reporters at the Capitol. “This is basic common sense. The American people get it.”

Congress repeatedly over the past two weeks has turned away efforts to enact this as a federal law. Critics say the government’s terrorist watchlists are error-prone and bureaucratically generated, so using them to deny gun purchases could mean violating Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms without due process of law.

Gov. Jerry Brown was just arriving back in California on Thursday after attending an international conference on climate change in Paris. Spokesman Gareth Lacy said he didn’t anticipate commenting on Connecticut’s action.

A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – who has proposed a ballot measure for next November that would require people to give up their high-capacity ammunition magazines and require background checks for ammunition purchases, among other things – said this might not be practicable at the state level.

“States aren’t able to compel the federal government to share that information,” spokesman Rhys Williams said in an email. “But Lt. Governor Newsom believes it could and absolutely should be a federal action, as simple as adding the relevant information to the NICS (the FBI’s firearm background-check system) – and it should be done today.”

Still, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said Friday he plans to introduce legislation barring individuals on the government’s no-fly list from being able to purchase guns and certain chemicals, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“You are not going to stop every single one of these occurrences,” Gatto told the Bee. “But it does make sense to make sure that the people who have been deemed too dangerous to even board a quick flight to Vegas, that they are not allowed to go out there and buy guns and chemicals en masse.”

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Honda, Lee, Farr vote against Visa Waiver reform

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at 5:45 pm in Barbara Lee, Immigration, Mike Honda, Sam Farr, U.S. House, War on Terror

The House voted 407-19 Tuesday to tighten the Visa Waiver Program that lets people from certain countries travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa – a reaction to fear of terrorism, particularly given the roles of French and Belgian nationals in last month’s Paris attacks.

But three Northern California members – Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; and Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel – were among the few who voted against HR 158.

The bill would require visas for anyone who’s been in Iraq or Syria in the previous five years; exceptions are made for official government visits and military service. Countries in the visa waiver program would also be required to share counterterror information with the U.S. or face expulsion from the program. All travelers would be checked against Interpol databases, and visa waiver countries would be required to issue “e-passports” with biometric information.

Sam FarrFarr this evening said the bill “casts too wide a net to be effective. Throwing anyone who travels to Syria or Iraq into the same category as suspected terrorists won’t help us catch the bad guys but it will harm humanitarian efforts there. Investing in better human intel is how we will stop them, not by disrupting tourist travel to the United States.”

Honda went into more detail, noting that although he strongly supports the need for increased security in the Visa Waiver Program, he voted against this bill “because it unjustly targets individuals based on their nationality.”

He said the program, used by 20 million people per year from 38 countries, is far less secure than the two-year screening process to which refugees are subjected, and needs to be improved. He said he supports some parts of this bill, including requiring all travelers to be checked against INTERPOL databases, using fraud-resistant e-passports with biometric information to protect against false identities, and strengthening background check procedures and information-sharing.

honda.jpg“I cannot, however, vote for a bill that categorically bars access to the Visa Waiver Program for dual nationals of Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Iran and people who have traveled in the last 5 years to Iraq and Syria, including humanitarian workers,” Honda said. “Under this bill, a French citizen of Syrian descent who has never been to Syria would still fall into this blanket category. Since the Visa Waiver Program functions on reciprocity, I am also concerned that this bill will trigger restrictions from other countries on travel for Iraqi, Syrian, Sudanese, and Iranian Americans.”

“I reject the stereotype that Arabs and Muslims are terrorists and I strongly oppose the targeting of people from these specific countries,” he continued. “I know what it is be singled out as a threat and potential enemy due to nationality, despite a lack of evidence and despite being an American citizen. We can and must protect Americans without compromising American values. It is time to refuse wartime hysteria and prejudice based on nationality, and instead show true political leadership.”

UPDATE @ 12:14 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Lee said she shares “the concerns of the ACLU, AILA, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and others that this bill would allow for the discrimination of individuals based on their nationality. We cannot let fear drive us to create bad policies. Congress can and should carefully examine the visa waiver program and I will work to support changes which do not open the door for blanket discrimination.”

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Your gallery of ugly campaign Christmas sweaters

By Josh Richman
Monday, December 7th, 2015 at 11:08 am in 2016 presidential election

And now, ladies and gentlemen, your gallery of ugly campaign Christmas sweaters, because: America.

From Ted Cruz:
Ted Cruz

From Ben Carson:
Ben Carson

From Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton

And, for those feeling the Bern, a non-official offering:

Bernie Sanders

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Report: Kamala Harris living well on campaign trail

By Josh Richman
Monday, December 7th, 2015 at 10:12 am in Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris has a penchant for pricey luxury hotels, cars and airfare, according to a report published Sunday by the National Journal.

Kamala HarrisHarris, California’s attorney general, is seeking the seat that U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will vacate at the end of next year. She’s competing with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Republicans including Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and former state GOP chairs Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills.

Per Harris’ latest FEC filing, her campaign had burned through 44 percent of what it has raised. That still left her almost $3 million in the bank (after accounting for outstanding debts), which is far more than Sanchez ($1.25 million) or any of the Republicans have. (UPDATE: Sanchez’s campaign notes that about half the money Harris has banked can’t be used in the primary while all of Sanchez’ bankroll can be, so they’re not really so far apart.) She also has close ties to President Obama’s fundraising network, so it’s unlikely she’ll run out of money anytime soon – or ever.

And the spending – including $18,000 on luxury hotels, $20,000 on car services, and 13 instances of air travel costing more than $1,000 each – still isn’t much in the context of the campaign’s spending overall.

Still, some Democrats are taking Harris to task for what looks like unseemly spending – not a good narrative for a candidate who declared early and tried to clear the field in order to project an aura of inevitability.

And it might make donors wonder what their money really pays for. She’ll attend a fundraiser Wednesday, Dec. 9 in Atlanta, hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed, for which tickets cost $500 to $5,400 each. Then she’ll be back in the Bay Area for a fundraiser Sunday, Dec. 13 in Richmond, hosted by the local chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, and others; tickets for that one cost from $75 to $5,400.

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Jerry Brown & gun control: How much is too much?

By Josh Richman
Monday, December 7th, 2015 at 9:08 am in Gov. Jerry Brown, gun control, Jerry Brown

As I noted in my story published Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013 vetoed a bill that would have classified all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines as assault weapons – rifles like those used in last week’s terrorism massacre in San Bernardino, and like those owned by many Californians.

That bill, SB 374, had been the centerpiece of a package of gun control bills that lawmakers introduced in the wake of December 2012’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“This ban covers low-capacity rifles that are commonly used for hunting, firearms training, and marksmanship practice, as well as some historical and collectible firearms,” Brown wrote in his veto message. “Moreover, hundreds of thousands of current gun owners would have to register their rifles as assault weapons and would be banned from selling or transferring them in the future.”

Brown told the Sacramento Bee on Saturday that “California has some of the toughest gun control laws of any state. And Nevada and Arizona are wide open, so that’s a gigantic back door through which any terrorist can walk.”

Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based progressive grassroots Courage Campaign, said Brown is “is correct that deeply irresponsible gun laws in other states make it more difficult to protect Californians, but the guns used in the San Bernardino attack were purchased legally in California.” The rifles were modified after purchase in ways that made them illegal under the state’s assault weapons law.

“When Gov. Brown had the chance to sign into law bills preventing the sale of such semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, he made an unconscionable and short sighted decision to veto SB 374 and other LIFE Act bills in 2013,” Kurtz said. “While guns used in the San Bernardino attack appear to have been purchased prior to 2013, Gov. Brown failed to do everything in his power to prevent mass shootings in California.”

Kurtz said “Brown needs to stop making excuses and immediately announce his support for the full policies of the LIFE Act, including a ban on semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and background checks for ammunition.”

But Brown believes it’s time for national action. In Paris for an international climate-change conference, Brown told CNN on Monday that he believes stricter federal laws are needed, but that he’s not sure a ballot measure – like that proposed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to ban possession of high-capacity magazines and require background checks for ammunition purchases – is the best way to enact further state gun controls.

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California politicos react to San Bernardino killings

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 at 4:38 pm in Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. House, U.S. Senate

California’s elected officials are sounding off on Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, in which 14 people reportedly were killed and more wounded.

Gov. Jerry Brown cancelled the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony that had been scheduled for Wednesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and everyone affected by the brutal attack,” he said in an emailed statement. “California will spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, yet another American community is reeling from the horror of gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of San Bernardino. As the families of the victims grieve and the survivors focus on healing, the entire American family mourns.

“Gun violence is a crisis of epidemic proportions in our nation. Congress has a moral responsibility to vote on common sense measures to prevent the daily agony of gun violence in communities across America. Enough is enough.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif:

“Today we add San Bernardino to the long list of communities that have fallen victim to a mass shooting, and my heart is with the victims and their families.

“Details in San Bernardino are still murky, but what we do know is that these deadly shootings aren’t slowing down. Just a week after a deadly attack in Colorado Springs, we’re prepared to mourn more victims today.

“The Washington Post reported this week that in the first 334 days of 2015, there were 351 mass shootings. That’s an average of more than one deadly rampage for every day this year.

“USA Today reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ran more than 185,000 checks for gun purchases the day after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t even count the sales that took place online or at gun shows, where no checks are necessary.

“When a convicted felon can walk into a gun show and buy an assault rifle, that’s a problem. When an individual with a known mental illness can buy an assault rifle online, that’s a problem. When a terrorist who can’t board an airplane can buy an assault rifle in a gun store, that’s a problem.
“Congress also has a problem—a debilitating fear of upsetting the gun lobby. Congress refuses even to require background checks on all firearms purchases, an action supported by the vast majority of Americans.

“Each time I see breaking news of yet another mass shooting, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Congress can’t stop every shooting, but we can help reduce their frequency. I remain hopeful that enough of my colleagues will join me to make that a reality.”

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

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Nurses’ union endorses Gavin Newsom for governor

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 at 11:01 am in Gavin Newsom

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, one of the Golden State’s most politically active unions, has endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom – almost three years before 2018’s gubernatorial general election.

Gavin NewsomNewsom, a Democrat, received the endorsement Wednesday morning while addressing a CNA/NNU conference in Los Angeles.

“Gavin didn’t even have to go through a questionnaire with us because he was 100 percent on all our issues – he’s part of the nurses’ family, just like Jerry Brown,” CNA/NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said in an interview before Wednesday’s conference. “This was the easiest endorsement we’ve ever made, besides Jerry and Bernie Sanders.”

DeMoro said Newsom “has substance, he’s very bright, he’s deeply studied on policy, he’s a risk taker, he’s a leader” who has worked closely with the nurses’ union ever since his days as San Francisco’s mayor on issues such as housing and homelessness, marriage rights, education, and – perhaps nearest and dearest to the nurses’ hearts – advocating for single-payer health care.

Newsom issued a statement before his speech Wednesday saying “the nurses stood with me when I was mayor and brought universal healthcare access to the first major city in the country, and I’m thrilled and honored that they continue to stand with me in my campaign.”

Though other major Democratic candidates might enter the race – perhaps including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former state controller Steve Westly, and hedge-fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer – “there is no better candidate” than Newsom, DeMoro said.

“We want to see Tom in the political world, but not against Gavin … We would love to be able to support Tom on something else,” DeMoro said of Steyer. “But this race is Gavin’s to lose – he’s going to win this.”

The Oakland-based CNA/NNU represents about 90,000 nurses in California, part of a national NNU membership of 185,000 RNs nationwide. The union was very active in 2010’s gubernatorial election, not just supporting Brown but haunting Meg Whitman’s campaign stops with “Queen Meg” street-theater shtick to paint the GOP nominee as out of touch with everyday Californians.

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Carly Fiorina to raise funds Dec. 14 in Palo Alto

By Josh Richman
Monday, November 30th, 2015 at 4:26 pm in 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Carly Fiorina

A lawyer who helped then-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina beat back a lawsuit that aimed to prevent 2001’s HP-Compaq merger now is about to host a fundraiser for Fiorina’s presidential campaign.

Carly FiorinaBoris Feldman, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and his wife, Robin, will host a reception for Fiorina on Monday, Dec. 14 at their Palo Alto home. Tickets for the “New York Deli style luncheon” cost $500 per person – here’s hoping that pastrami is excellent – or $2,700 for a host-committee reception and photo opportunity with the candidate.

Fiorina will head to Las Vegas the next day, Dec. 15, for the next Republican presidential debate, hosted by CNN, Facebook and Salem Media; CNN personality Wolf Blitzer will be the moderator, joined by correspondent Dana Bash and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Fiorina, a former Los Altos Hills resident who proudly touts her time at HP’s helm despite experts’ questioning of her business record, last visited the Bay Area in early October, for a fundraising reception in Piedmont.

According to the 2008 edition of Northern California Super Lawyers, Feldman usually defends “companies and senior executives facing shareholder suits and SEC investigations involving alleged violations of securities laws.

Boris Feldman“One example is a court victory that prevented a shareholder and former director of Hewlett-Packard from stopping the company’s merger with Compaq Computer,” the publication reported. “At the trial, Feldman put then-HP CEO Carly Fiorina on the stand. By carefully preparing her, he made Fiorina a knowledgeable, persuasive witness. ‘Too often litigators allow [senior executive] clients to look stupid for tactical reasons,’ he says.”

Feldman told the New York Times in mid-September that Fiorina’s first foray onto the prime-time debate stage would be “a defining moment in Carly’s career.” Her poll numbers did improve sharply after that first show-down with frontrunner Donald Trump, but the surge didn’t last: After a brief stint in third place nationwide with 11.8 percent of the vote in late September, she’s now in sixth place with 3.7 percent, according to an average of recent polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, she’s ranked sixth at 3.7 percent as well; in New Hampshire – where she’d been ranked second for a while – she’s now tied for eighth, at 4.3 percent.

Before Fiorina gets here, Marco Rubio will step up to the Bay Area campaign ATM with a fundraiser next Monday, Dec. 7 in Mountain View (as previously reported here).

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