TODAY

– September 30, 2014

Calif. Assembly OKs money for gun-seizure program

In California, 20,000 people possess firearms illegally.In California, 20,000 people possess firearms illegally.(AP) — Legislation that would expand the state Department of Justice's ability to go after felons, the mentally unstable and others prohibited from owning firearms is one step from the governor's desk.

 

SB140 by Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco passed the Assembly 57-10 on Thursday.

The bill authorizes $24 million for the Armed and Prohibited Persons program so the department can create six teams to seize weapons.

The program checks databases to identify people who bought guns legally but are no longer permitted to own them because of a felony conviction, a violent misdemeanor, a determination that they are mentally unstable or a domestic violence restraining order.

It is the only such program in the nation.

Supporters say 20,000 people in California have been identified as possessing weapons illegally.

Do you respond to social media comments?

Blogs

gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 09/30/2014, 10:51 am by Business Journal staff
Central Valley foreclosure activity continues to shine compared to the nation, according to new data from real estate statistics firm CoreLogic.
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:41 am by Hannah Esqueda
Dutch Bros. Coffee is expanding to a third location in central Fresno. The chain is expected to open at the end of October in the 1800 block of McKinley Avenue, east of Fresno City College. The drive through coffee chain already has locations at Bullard and West avenues in northwest Fresno and Ashlan and Willow avenues in east Fresno. Local franchise owner Brent Wilson said the new location is an ideal spot because of the close proximity to the college and morning commuters on their way to Highway 41.  "It was offered to me and I thought it would be a great spot to open. It's also nice because it's helping to improve an area of town that needs improving," local franchise owner Brent Wilson said.  The new shop will be in the building of a former drive-thru fast-food restaurant and Wilson said the floor plan needs little change. The new coffee shop will have a patio area where customers can sit and enjoy their drinks, he said.  Thirty jobs will be created with the new shop, Wilson said. 
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:22 am by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Education is supposed to help bridge the gap between the wealthiest people and everyone else. Ask the experts, and they'll count the ways: Preschool can lift children from poverty. Top high schools prepare students for college. A college degree boosts pay over a lifetime. And the U.S. economy would grow faster if more people stayed in school longer. Plenty of data back them up. But the data also show something else: Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they're widening the nation's wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids' futures. Their average education spending per child jumped 35 percent to $5,210 a year during the recession compared with the two preceding years — and they sustained that faster pace through the recovery. For the remaining 90 percent of households, such spending averaged around a flat $1,000, according to research by Emory University sociologist Sabino Kornrich. "People at the top just have so much income now that they're easily able to spend more on their kids," Kornrich said. The sums being spent by wealthier parents amount to a kind of calculated investment in their children. Research has linked the additional dollars to increased SAT scores, a greater likelihood of graduating from college and the prospect of future job security and high salaries. The trend emerged gradually over the past three decades but accelerated during the worst economic slump since the 1930s. Now, enrollments at pricier private schools are climbing. Parents are bidding up home prices in top public school districts. Pay is surging for SAT tutors, who now average twice the median U.S. hourly wage of $24.45. The patterns suggest that the wealth gap could widen in coming years, analysts say. "If you're at the bottom and the top keeps pulling away, you're just further behind," said Melissa Kearney, a senior economics fellow at the Brookings Institution. Between 2007 and 2011, enrollment at private elementary and secondary schools whose annual tuition averaged $28,340 jumped 36 percent, according to federal data. The intensified reach for the costliest schools occurred even as enrollment in private schools overall fell. "What we know about parents who send their kids to private school is that by and large they place a very high priority on education," said John Chubb, president of the National Association of Independent Schools. "As prices go up, they may be frustrated and angry, but they find a way to make it work." Most families can't compete. Incomes have barely budged for most Americans since 1980 after accounting for inflation. For the top 10 percent, IRS data show pay has jumped 80 percent after inflation. For the top 1 percent, it's soared 177 percent. The education divide has grown despite the multi-decade presence of Head Start, the federal program for nutrition and early childhood education. Most states rely primarily on a private pre-school system that can reinforce the wealth gap, said Sean Reardon, a Stanford University professor who has studied education and income inequality. Among those spending more is Marisela Martinez-Cola's family. A suburban Atlanta mother, Martinez-Cola sends her 7-year-old son to private school and has hired a tutor to improve his reading — expenses made possible by her husband's salary as a regional buyer for Costco Wholesale. Many families also pay a premium to live in top public school districts. Homes in top-rated school zones command a 32 percent premium over the national average, real estate data firm Trulia has found. On top of that, there are the tutors. An average SAT tutor advertised through WyzAnt charges $51.20 an hour, double the average U.S. wage. The disparity in spending patterns creates a hurdle for reducing income inequality through additional education — the preferred solution of many economists. Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose exploration of tax data helped expose the wealth gap, has argued that education "is the most powerful equalizing force in the long run." Affluent parents tend to get what they pay for: Their children score 125 points higher on SATs than those from the poorest homes, up from a gap of 90 points during the 1980s, according to research by Reardon, the Stanford professor. "The worry is that it becomes a feedback loop, where the children of the rich do the best in school, and those who do best in school become rich," Reardon said. Some middle-income parents have come to feel that personal sacrifices are an acceptable price for giving their child a potential edge. Tysha Wheeler-Timmons of Rahway, New Jersey, a contract coordinator for a pharmaceutical company who is married to a truck driver, earns modest pay. But she took a part-time security job to pay for $3,000 in tutoring for her daughter, Shayla, a high school senior aiming for an Ivy League bioengineering degree. She worries about having to pay for similar opportunities for her two sons. Yet she feels she has no choice. "I've been able to get a decent job, even though I don't have a college education," she said. "We're the last generation to do that."
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:14 am by 
DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
(AP) — The NFL said Tuesday that Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception. The league's rule book prohibits players from celebrating while on the ground, but spokesman Michael Signora wrote in an email Tuesday that the "officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play." The flag thrown in the fourth quarter of Kansas City's 41-14 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday night led to criticism on social media, with many wondering how it was different from players such as former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow dropping to one knee in Christian prayer. Abdullah is a devout Muslim who took a year off from football to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. He said after Monday's game that he knew before he even reached the end zone he would drop to his knees in thankful prayer after intercepting Tom Brady. After he slid to the grass in Arrowhead Stadium, yellow flags came flying from the officials. "I don't think it was because of the actual prostration that I got the penalty," Abdullah told The Associated Press afterward. "I think it was because of the slide." And that's precisely the explanation that Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he received from the game officials. They had no issue with the prayer, Reid said, only the celebratory slide. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil liberties and advocacy organization, issued a statement early Tuesday asking that the NFL take steps in response to the penalty. "To prevent the appearance of a double standard, we urge league officials to clarify the policy on prayer and recognize that the official made a mistake in this case," CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said. Reid didn't agree with the penalty, but he also didn't make much of it. "When you go to Mecca," he said, referring to the end zone, "you should have the privilege to slide anywhere you want to slide. We have two priests in here. I think they will vouch for me." Indeed, there were two pastors sitting in Reid's postgame news conference. Abdullah is in his second year with the Chiefs after spending an entire season away from the game. He decided that, in the prime of his career, he would join his brother Hamza — who also was playing in the NFL at the time — to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Fifth Pillar of Islam is The Hajj, the pilgrimage that all Muslims are supposed to make once in their lifetime. Abdullah, who also fasts during Ramadan, told the AP in an interview last year the brothers wanted to make sure they did the pilgrimage while they still had the health and means to go. In the case of Hamza, it proved costly. He never got a shot to return to the NFL. Husain Abdullah said he didn't expect any repercussions from his penalty Monday night, least of all from his coach. After all, it was Reid who gave him an opportunity to work his way back into the league after he had stepped away. "I'm pretty sure he understands who I am, what my faith is," he said. "And again, I think the prostration is all right. It's the slide. Come to a full stop, get down, make the prostration, get up and get out."
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:12 am by Associated Press
(AP) — EBay is splitting off its fastest growing segment, mobile payment service PayPal, the e-commerce company said Tuesday.Investors applauded the news, sending eBay's shares up nearly 7 percent in morning trading. The move comes after months of pressure from activist investor and billionaire Carl Icahn. EBay CEO John Donahoe had been adamant that splitting off PayPal was the wrong move for the company. But Tuesday, the company said that making the mobile payment service a separate publicly traded company next year "maximizes strategic focus and flexibility for eBay." Although it has not become mainstream yet, the mobile payment sector is growing quickly. Citi Investment Research analyst Mark May said in a note last month that the sum total of mobile payments could grow from $1 billion in 2013 to $58.4 billion by 2017. Apple threw down a gauntlet in September with its own digital wallet Apple Pay, seen as a major competitor to PayPal. Donahoe also said he will step down as CEO of eBay after overseeing the separation of the two companies and will not have a management role in either of the two afterward. He may have a seat on the board at one or both, along with eBay Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan. Dan Schulman, an executive at American Express, will be the new president at PayPal, effective immediately. The 56-year-old will become PayPal's CEO once the separation takes place. Devin Wenig, currently president of eBay Marketplaces, will become CEO of the new EBay Inc. He will lead the eBay Marketplaces and eBay Enterprise businesses. Cowen and Co. analyst John Blackledge said the spinoff "makes a great deal of sense," because there is "manageable overlap" between the two businesses and the new structure makes PayPal "more nimble" to respond to challenges like Apple Pay. EBay, based in San Jose, California, said that the separation was the best path for growth and shareholder value creation for each business. EBay is an e-commerce site that connects sellers to buyers. PayPal, acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.3 billion, has been its fastest-growing segment. In the most recent quarter, PayPal gained 4 million new, active registered accounts, up 15 percent, to 152 million. Payments revenue rose 20 percent to $1.95 billion, about 45 percent of eBay's total revenue. PayPal users can send and receive payments online, with all transactions backed by prepaid user accounts, bank accounts or credit cards. The service is available in 203 markets worldwide and is on track to process 1 billion mobile payments in 2014. There is a push away from traditional credit cards, particularly after a string of high-profile data breaches that have ensnared major retailers like Target and Home Depot. Citibank predicts that the mobile payments business will grow from $1 billion last year, to nearly $60 billion by 2017. "A thorough strategic review with our board shows that keeping eBay and PayPal together beyond 2015 clearly becomes less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively," Donahoe said. PayPal has been expanding beyond mobile payments and offering other financial services. It began lending money to small business customers late last year. And eBay bought Braintree, a payment processor used by startups such as vacation rentals site Airbnb and cab-hailing app Uber, a year ago for about $800 million and will be part of the PayPal. Shares of eBay jumped nearly 7 percent to $56.16 in morning trading.
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:12 am by TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Walgreen booked a $239 million loss in its fiscal fourth quarter after swallowing a huge accounting charge from its Alliance Boots acquisition, but the drugstore chain's results still met Wall Street expectations. Walgreen Co. said Tuesday that it recorded a non-cash loss of $866 million in the quarter that ended Aug. 31 because it decided to exercise early its option to buy the remaining stake in Alliance Boots that it did not already own. The Deerfield, Illinois, company bought a 45 percent stake in the Swiss health and beauty retailer in 2012. It had until next year to decide whether to buy the rest of Alliance Boots, which runs the largest drugstore chain in the United Kingdom. But the company said last month that it had decided to complete that deal. Walgreen spokesman Michael Polzin said that because the company exercised that option early, it had to remove its value from its books. That led to the non-cash charge. Overall, Walgreen lost $239 million, or 25 cents per share, in the quarter. That compares to a gain of $657 million, or 69 cents per share, in the same period last year. Adjusted earnings, which exclude the Alliance Boots charge, totaled 74 cents per share. That matched analyst expectations, according to Zacks Investment Research. Walgreen's revenue rose more than 6 percent to about $19.1 billion, while analysts expected $19.02 billion. Walgreen runs the nation's largest drugstore chain, with more than 8,200 locations. It said sales from its established stores climbed more than 5 percent in the quarter. That's an important measurement for retailers because it leaves out the impact of recently opened or closed locations. But Walgreen executives cautioned Tuesday that the company is dealing with lower reimbursement for prescriptions as well as rising prices for generic drugs. That cuts into the profitability of those drugs if the reimbursement that the company receives doesn't keep up with the price increases. "We are realistic about the headwinds we face for the year," CEO Greg Wasson said, adding that Walgreen also is dealing with a "cautious consumer." Walgreen wrapped up a rough quarter Aug. 31 in which its stock price tumbled 16 percent while the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 4 percent. Much of that drop came in early August after Walgreen lowered a forecast for earnings it expects after combining with Alliance Boots. It also announced that it would not pursue an overseas reorganization with Alliance Boots that could have trimmed its U.S. taxes. The drugstore chain said it wasn't sure such a move would pass IRS scrutiny, and it acknowledged feeling pressure to not pursue the move known as an inversion. Several politicians had scolded the company, which draws nearly all its revenue from U.S. stores, for even considering it. Walgreen Co. shares slipped 54 cents to $59.06 in midday trading Tuesday while broader trading indexes rose slightly. The stock price had climbed almost 4 percent so far this year, as of Monday's market close.
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:06 am by LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Business Writer
(AP) — The maker of the world's top-selling erectile dysfunction drug on Tuesday will begin airing the first Viagra TV commercial that targets the less-obvious sufferers of the sexual condition: women. In the new 60-second ad, a middle-aged woman reclining on a bed in a tropical setting addresses the problems couples encounter when a man is impotent. "So guys, it's just you and your honey. The setting is perfect. But then erectile dysfunction happens again," she says before encouraging men to ask their doctor about Viagra. "Plenty of guys have this issue — not just getting an erection, but keeping it." Having a woman speak directly to men about impotence is a unique strategy for Pfizer Inc. The world's second-biggest drugmaker is looking for ways to boost sales of Viagra, Pfizer's No. 6 seller, at a time when it is encountering new competition. Patents give a drug a monopoly, generally for 20 years. But when those patents expire, cheaper generic versions flood the market, often wiping out most of the brand-name drug's sales within a year. Viagra has faced competition from cheaper generic versions in Europe since its patent expired there 15 months ago. Sales fell 8 percent last year to $1.9 billion. And in three years, Viagra will get generic competition in the U.S., where it costs about $35 a pill. Meanwhile, new competitor Stendra just got approved. Pfizer has seen generic competition for several of its other drugs cut revenue by billions, so it is hoping to stem the revenue losses for Viagra. The market for ED drugs is big. About half of men over 40 suffer from ED, occasionally or always, yet only 10 percent take medicine regularly, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, who directs the San Diego Sexual Medicine center and has researched sexual disorders for decades. Having a woman in ads makes sense because women often are more upset by ED than their man, he said. They often lose interest in sex and find it painful, said Goldstein, who has done patient testing of multiple ED pills and received consulting fees from their makers. He said men generally dislike going to doctors, and when older ones do, they often linger as the doctor finishes, shifting from one foot to the other in what doctors call "the Viagra shuffle." Doctors then ask if the man wants Viagra, he said. Executives at New York-based Pfizer hope the new ad campaign, which includes print ads in publications such as Esquire and Time, will nudge women to broach the subject with their mates. In the ad, the actress also uses the word "erection" instead of the industry euphemism, "ED." Pfizer's marketing chief, Vic Clavelli, told The Associated Press that the company is trying to take a more direct approach in ads, unlike past ones that were "built around very subtle innuendo." Until now, women have been absent or played background roles in the many ads for ED drugs since the first, Viagra, was launched in 1998. Viagra gave men an alternative to penile suppositories, surgery and injections, and 50 million worldwide have since taken it. Ads for rival Cialis have featured couples getting frisky during everyday activities and then lounging in his-and-hers bathtubs. Viagra ads typically show middle-aged men doing things such as construction work and deep-sea fishing. "It's definitely a unique strategy that could work," said Edward Jones health care analyst Ashtyn Evans. "The more people they can get loyal to their brand, the better." But some question whether the ad, which is slated to appear on shows including "CSI," ''Blue Bloods" and "48 Hours," will build loyalty. "I'm not sure it will result in more sales," said Les Funtleyder, health care portfolio manager at Esquared Asset Management. ___Viagra commercial: http://www.viagra.com/viagra-tv-commercial.aspx
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:01 am by MAE ANDERSON, MICHELLE CHAPMAN, AP Business Writers
(AP) — EBay is splitting off its fastest growing segment, payment service PayPal, the e-commerce company said Tuesday. Investors applauded the news, sending eBay's shares up nearly 7 percent in morning trading. The move comes after months of pressure from activist investor and billionaire Carl Icahn, who has a 2.5 percent state in eBay, according to FactSet. EBay CEO John Donahoe had been adamant that splitting off PayPal was the wrong move for the company. But Tuesday, the company said that making the payment service a separate publicly traded company next year "maximizes strategic focus and flexibility for eBay." Acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.3 billion, PayPal became eBay's fastest-growing segment. It lets customers use their bank accounts to make payments and money transfers without using credit or debit cards or checks. It makes money by charging a fee for many transactions. It is also a growing force in the mobile payment arena with its acquisition of companies like Braintree and its One Touch mobile payment service. Although it has not become mainstream yet, the mobile payment sector is growing quickly. Citi Investment Research analyst Mark May said in a note earlier this month that the sum total of mobile payments could grow from $1 billion in 2013 to $58.4 billion by 2017. Apple threw down a gauntlet in September with its own digital wallet Apple Pay, seen as a major competitor to PayPal. "The payments landscape is hyper-competitive, the pace of change is accelerating and everyone is gunning for PayPal," said Forrester analyst Denee Carrington. "The split will give PayPal greater agility to help it achieve its full potential." Donahoe also said he will step down as CEO of eBay after overseeing the separation of the two companies and will not have a management role in either of the two afterward. He may have a seat on the board at one or both, along with eBay Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan. Dan Schulman, an executive at American Express, will be the new president at PayPal, effective immediately. The 56-year-old will become PayPal's CEO once the separation takes place. Devin Wenig, currently president of eBay Marketplaces, will become CEO of the new EBay Inc. He will lead the eBay Marketplaces and eBay Enterprise businesses. Cowen and Co. analyst John Blackledge said the spinoff "makes a great deal of sense," because there is "manageable overlap" between the two businesses and the new structure makes PayPal "more nimble" to respond to challenges like Apple Pay. EBay, based in San Jose, California, said that the separation was the best path for growth and shareholder value creation for each business. In the most recent quarter, PayPal gained 4 million new, active registered accounts, up 15 percent, to 152 million. Payments revenue rose 20 percent to $1.95 billion, about 45 percent of eBay's total revenue. PayPal users can send and receive payments online, with all transactions backed by prepaid user accounts, bank accounts or credit cards. The service is available in 203 markets worldwide and is on track to process 1 billion mobile payments in 2014. There is a push away from traditional credit cards, particularly after a string of high-profile data breaches that have ensnared major retailers like Target and Home Depot. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse in China, split off its PayPal-like mobile payment arm, Alipay, in 2011. "A thorough strategic review with our board shows that keeping eBay and PayPal together beyond 2015 clearly becomes less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively," Donahoe said. PayPal has been expanding beyond online and mobile payments and offering other financial services. It began lending money to small business customers late last year. And eBay bought Braintree, a payment processor used by startups such as vacation rentals site Airbnb and cab-hailing app Uber, a year ago for about $800 million and will be part of the PayPal unit. Shares of eBay jumped nearly 7 percent to $56.16 in morning trading.__AP Business Writer Joseph Pisani contributed to this report.
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:00 am by SADIE GURMAN, Associated Press
(AP) — The Colorado Supreme Court is considering a marijuana-related firing case that could have big implications for the state's pot smokers. The justices heard arguments Tuesday in the case of Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired from his job at the Dish Network after failing a drug test in 2010. Coats says he needs the drug to help with violent spasms he's suffered since he was paralyzed in a car accident. Dish says that because pot is illegal at the federal level, medical marijuana isn't covered by a state law intended to protect cigarette smokers from being fired for legal behavior off the clock. Twenty-three states allow medical marijuana, but courts have ruled against patients fired for using it. The justices didn't indicate when they would rule or which way they were leaning.
Written on 09/30/2014, 9:55 am by 
FENIT NIRAPPIL, Associated Press
(AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. Brown on Tuesday signed the bill by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles. Plastic bags will be phased out of large grocery stores starting next year and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The legislation is meant to encourage consumers to bring their own bags and as a way to reduce litter. The bill preserves more than 100 local plastic bag bans, including in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Grocers support the ban because it sets a statewide standard and allows them to charge consumers a 10 cent fee for using paper bags. Plastic and paper bag manufacturers opposed to the legislation say it will result in lost manufacturing jobs in California.

Latest State News

Written on 09/30/2014, 10:12 am by Associated Press
(AP) — EBay is splitting off its...
Written on 09/30/2014, 9:55 am by 
FENIT NIRAPPIL, Associated Press
(AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed...
Written on 09/30/2014, 9:52 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Johnson & Johnson is buying...
Written on 09/29/2014, 2:22 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — Tibco Software Inc. said Monday...

Latest National News

Written on 09/30/2014, 10:22 am by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Education is supposed to help...
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:14 am by 
DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
(AP) — The NFL said Tuesday that Kansas...
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:12 am by TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Walgreen booked a $239 million...
Written on 09/30/2014, 10:06 am by LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Business Writer
(AP) — The maker of the world's...