In California: Governor, Assembly support removing Trump; state hits 30,000 COVID deaths

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It’s a new week — how about we give 2021 another chance? I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you the latest news from the Golden State.

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

California governor, state Assembly support removing Trump

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a COVID-19 testing facility in Valencia, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2020.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom added his support Monday for removing President Donald Trump from office through impeachment or the 25th Amendment.

“I’m all for it,” the Democratic governor said, answering a question about his stance on both options before quickly changing the subject. 

“That’s not my focus right now. My focus, candidly, is on you and your family, as it relates to issues associated with getting us through this very challenging wave in this pandemic,” he said, referencing the effort to vaccinate California’s nearly 40 million residents against the coronavirus. 

The U.S. House will begin debate Wednesday on an impeachment resolution charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

While California has been at odds with the Trump administration since the Republican took office in 2017, Newsom has carefully chosen his words during the pandemic to avoid Trump’s ire, often praising his administration for providing resources. When asked last week about removing Trump from office, he declined to answer.

Alongside the governor’s support, the California Assembly has passed a resolution calling for Trump’s resignation or removal. The Democratic-led chamber approved the measure by a vote of 51-6. All six people voting against it were Republicans. But the majority of Republicans did not vote. The Assembly has 80 members: 60 Democrats, 19 Republicans and one independent. 

Schwarzenegger weighs in on attack on Capitol

Schwarzenegger thumb

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an extraordinary statement on week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol, which the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician likened to the rise of Nazism in Europe at the beginning of World War II.

In a video posted to Twitter, the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger, who wasn’t yet alive when Nazis rampaged Germany during Kristallnacht (the “Night of Broken Glass”) in 1938, attacking Jewish homes and businesses. Though born two years after the end of the war, Schwarzenegger saw firsthand the effects of the trauma inflicted by the violent collapse of democracy.

“Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history,” he said. “Not all of them were rabid anti-Semites or Nazis. Many just went along step by step down the road.” Schwarzenegger said his father and other men in the neighborhood would often come home drunk and get violent. “They were in physical pain from the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain from what they saw or did,” Schwarzenegger said. “It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance.”

Similarly, he said, Trump misled his supporters with lies as he sought to overturn the results of the presidential election. “Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States,” Schwarzenegger said, calling President Trump a “failed leader” who will go down in history as “the worst president ever.”

Bay Area companies halt political donations after Capitol siege

Uber and Lyft decals are shown on a vehicle at Palm Springs International Airport on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Facebook, Google, Airbnb and Lyft are among the Northern California-based companies that have announced plans to halt some or all political donations in the wake of last week’s events at the U.S. Capitol.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that actions such as this, along with similar ones from many other major corporations nationwide, “could prove significant, since business-backed political action committees [PAC] provide considerable funding for the campaigns of incumbent members of Congress.” Some companies have halted all donations, which would negatively affect all candidates, while others are only targeting those who tried to overturn the election.

While tech PACs are known for donating to candidates on both sides, online companies are more targeted; Twitter, Facebook, Amazon Web Services and various web security, hosting and payment companies have committed to no longer providing services to President Trump and organizations that incite violence.

While Facebook, Google and Lyft have vowed to temporarily freeze all political donations, Airbnb said it would withhold its support only from members of Congress who voted against the certification of the presidential election results.

“Airbnb strongly condemns last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol and the efforts to undermine our democratic process,” said the San Francisco vacation-rental company in a statement. “We will continue to uphold our community policies by banning violent hate group members when we learn of such memberships, and the Airbnb PAC will update its framework and withhold support from those who voted against the certification of the presidential election results.”

David McCuan, professor of political science at Sonoma State University, said while halting donations reflects anger over the tumult Trump encouraged, it’s also “about pivoting away from this administration to the next one.” In addition, he said, it shows companies trying to be more accountable in areas such as diversity and transparency.

COVID-19: California hits 30,000 deaths

People wait in line for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Roy Wilson Training Center in Thousand Palms, Calif. on Thursday, January 7, 2021.

California has lost more than 30,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, as hospitals scrambled to find beds for severely ill patients during a continuing spike in COVID-19 case numbers.

Deaths have exploded since a COVID-19 surge began in October. It took California six months to record its first 10,000 deaths. But in barely a month, the total rose from 20,000 to 30,000. Over the weekend, state officials reported a two-day record of 1,163 deaths. Hospitalizations also have exploded and many hospitals are stretched to the limit. 

California ranks third nationally in coronavirus deaths, behind Texas and New York, which is in the No. 1 position with nearly 40,000. 

2 gorillas in San Diego test positive for COVID-19

Two gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19 in San Diego.

In other pandemic news, two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for COVID-19, according to CBS Los Angeles.

After the two gorillas began coughing on Jan. 6, zoo officials tested the animals’ fecal samples for SARS-CoV-2. Positive results were confirmed Monday by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

While officials don’t yet know how the animals were infected, they are said to be doing well and are being closely observed. A third gorilla also has symptoms, but all are expected to make a full recovery.

That’s all for this Monday, we’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with more news.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: CBS Los Angeles, San Francisco Chronicle.

As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at winston.gieseke@desertsun.com.

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