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Blizzard cancels CoCo supervisor’s D.C. trip

The  massive snow dumps on Washington, D.C., has forced Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia to cancel his planned trip to a national pension conference.

He had intended to attend the conference on Monday and then piggyback visits to the East Bay congressional delegation on Tuesday. But he has to be back in California for meetings on Wednesday and cannot risk being stranded at Dulles Airport.

How bad is the weather? Rep. George Miller chief of staff Danny Weiss took this picture earlier today from northwest Washington, D.C. It reminds me again why I live in California. (Updated photo: Second picture shows Rep. George Miller out in front of the snow-covered Capitol.)

Blizzard in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Daniel Weiss of Rep. George Millers office

Blizzard in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Daniel Weiss of Rep. George Miller's office

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, poses in front of the snow-covered Capitol on Feb. 10, 2010. Photo courtesy of Millers office.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, poses in front of the snow-covered Capitol on Feb. 10, 2010. Photo courtesy of Miller's office.

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California law students nab D.C. internships

Law students from the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA are beltway-bound in a new full-semester academic internship program.

“UCDC Law” will place second- and third-year law students in congressional offices, the Justice Department, regulatory agencies and elsewhere around the nation’s capital; UC-Irvine students eventually will take part, too. Only a handful of U.S. law schools have academic programs in Washington, D.C.

“This is a direct and powerful way to expose students to aspects of lawyering in Washington and thereby broaden their thinking about professional paths available to them,” says Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edley Jr., who recently advised President Barack Obama’s transition team. “Our new classroom technology will also enable us to connect our students and experts in Washington with law students on campus, combining resources for dynamic interactive instruction.”

The first batch of interns, including seven from Berkeley, already has settled into Washington. Second-year Berkeley student Dyanna Quizon, placed in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said the level of responsibility they’ve been given “is amazing.”

“I’ve been asked to help lead a substantive training session for federal employees on making programs more accessible to non-English speaking communities,” she said. “A law student telling government officials what to do in important situations? Pretty incredible.”

More, after the jump…
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Scenes from the inauguration and McNerney react

Andy Stone, head flak for Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, sent me these photos from the inauguration ceremony this morning.

Meanwhile, here is what McNerney said about Obama:

“Today, we celebrate an extraordinary moment in American history as Barack Obama becomes America’s 44th President and the first African-American to lead our nation. It is truly a historic day and this is a great new beginning for our country. President Obama’s inauguration renews faith in the power of ordinary Americans coming together to create monumental change”

“I look forward to working with President Obama to address our country’s urgent priorities: reversing the course of our economy, creating millions of new jobs, especially those through new energy technology, making health care more affordable and keeping America safe and secure.”

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Today’s Congressional odds and ends

Lee speaks out on poverty, AIDS: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, spoke today at a Poverty Prayer vigil in Washington, D.C.: “With the help and guidance of the faith community we can as a Congress, and a country, seize this opportunity to finally and truly address the needs of our most vulnerable. Record enrollment for food stamps and increasing demand at community food banks and homeless shelters have stretched our communities’ social safety nets to their breaking point. Because 37 million Americans living in poverty is 37 million too many. Because 47 million Americans without access to healthcare is 47 million too many. And yet again, our minority communities bear the greatest burden. 31.6 percent Hispanic children under 5 and an astounding 40.7 percent of African American children under 5 grow up under the shadow of poverty. That is why we have gathered here today, because working together we will change all that. We, as a nation, must commit to breaking this cycle of poverty.”
Also, Lee has followed up her call for a national AIDS strategy by introducing a resolution to that effect in cooperation with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. Said Lee: “The sobering new statistics on HIV and AIDS in the United States show that this disease continues to take a heavy toll right here at home –particularly in minority communities. It is unacceptable that we are not doing more to address the epidemic in populations where infections rates are highest.”

Woolsey blasts DC gun amendment: Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, had harsh words today for a proposal to lift some gun-control provisions for Washington, D.C. She said an amendment offered by Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., to H.R. 6842, the National Capital Security and Safety Act — a bill revising DC’s gun laws to comply with the Supreme Court’s repeal of the city’s handgun ban — would repeal the District’s semi-automatic weapons ban and registration requirements, letting people who’ve been convicted of some crimes, committed to mental institutions or are under 21 buy firearms. Said Woolsey: “Allowing people to go out and buy a gun the day after they are released from a mental institution is reckless, not reasonable. Putting in their hands the same weapons that killed 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech and 13 students and teachers at Columbine is reckless, not reasonable. Removing the requirement that they register these guns is reckless, not reasonable. I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this amendment because the safety of every person who steps foot in this city depends on it.”

Stark wants Medicare truth in advertising: House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, wrote yesterday to Kerry Weems, Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urging strict enforcment of newly released final and interim rules for marketing of private Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans. Said Stark: “Given the insurance companies’ propensity to put their needs ahead of seniors and people with disabilities, it’s important that CMS take the steps needed to ensure truth in MA and Part D advertising. However, given that the Inspector General just recently pointed out CMS’s failure to enforce existing regulations, we’ll be paying close attention to make sure these new regulations are more than just another press release.”
In other news, Stark today announced his selection of Fremont’s Rodney Clark, executive director of Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, to receive a 2008 Angels in Adoption award sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute; this lets members of Congress honor individuals from their community who enrich the lives of foster children and orphans. Said Stark: “Each day, through the work Mr. Clark does, he positively impacts the lives of foster children, orphans, and children in at-risk families. He is helping to ensure that all children in our community are kept safe, are provided the tools needed to thrive and become healthy, educated, and productive adults.”

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Hear the Supreme Court’s gun-ban arguments

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning heard its first case in 70 years on interpreting the right to bear arms granted under the Second Amendment, dealing with Washington, D.C.’s ban on private handgun possession.

The court took the special step of releasing a recording of the oral arguments immediately, so if you’ve got about 90 minutes to spare, here it is via C-SPAN:




Read any of the dozens of briefs here. And here’s the Washington Post’s take.