Monday, Feb. 17, 2014@<
The Hearst News Service will file or has filed these news and feature stories for Tuesday. If you have questions, please call Dan Freedman or David McCumber at 202-263-6400. After 8 p.m. EDT, call Dan Freedman at 240-461-5405.
WASHINGTON ("w'' category)
IMMIGRATION-REFORM (Washington) — It just gets harder from here. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., vowed Sunday to keep up the immigration-reform fight, repeating that he doesn't believe Republicans can win another national election without acting on the topic. Meanwhile, back in the House of Representatives, where national elections are not viewed with the same urgency, "We're in a pause," Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, said last week. While he has attributed the "pause" to the fact that GOP House members don't trust President Obama, his words are widely perceived as spackle to cover the fact that many — not all — House Republicans recognize that most of the people who voted for them are sharply opposed to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented residents. And they want to avoid a nasty "civil war" that could hurt the party's chances in the midterms. By DAVID McCUMBER. (Already filed)
NATIONAL ("a'' category)
TECH-WOMEN (Berkeley, Calif.) — Peering out from behind the cool glow of iPads and MacBook Pros, some students sit with rapt attention. A few appear lost in daydream, or perhaps just lost. At least two cruise Facebook. It is a predictable college scene, but this Berkeley computer science class is at the vanguard of a tech world shift. The class has 106 women and 104 men. The gender flip first occurred last spring. It was the first time since at least 1993 — as far back as university enrollment records are digitized — that more women enrolled in an introductory computer science course. It was likely the first time ever. By KRISTEN BROWN.
DESALINATION-CALIF (San Francisco) — As the drought bakes its way toward a fourth year, the state has a string of secret weapons in the works that could supply millions of gallons of new drinking water and help stave off disaster: desalination plants. Seventeen plants are in planning stages along the coast to convert salt water from the ocean or bays, including one near Concord that would serve every major water agency in the Bay Area. By KEVIN FAGAN. (Already filed)
TREASURE-ISLAND (San Francisco) — Residents and others familiar with the contamination issues at Treasure Island say toxics known to pollute the island's soil since before residents were moved there in 1999 raise questions about whether San Francisco should have moved people there in the first place, and whether it should have allowed them to live there during the cleanup. By MARISA LAGOS. (Already filed)
APPLE (San Francisco) — Apple is thinking bigger. Much bigger. A source tells The San Francisco Chronicle that Adrian Perica, the mergers and acquisitions chief at Apple, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring around the same time analysts suggested Apple acquire the electric car giant. The newspaper has also learned that Apple is heavily exploring medical devices, specifically sensor technology that can help predict heart attacks. By THOMAS LEE and DAVID BAKER. (Already filed)
GUNSAFE-TAXES (Stamford, Conn.) — Connecticut Walmart customers were wrongly charged sales tax on gun safety equipment. Many have filed with the state Department of Revenue Services for refunds. Will state Attorney General George Jepsen investigate? BY JOHN PIRRO.
SANTERIA (Houston) — Disciples fill Faizah Perry's sunny suburban Houston home for a day of worship as chanting emanates from a sheet-curtained side room in which she divines the future and enacts other secret rituals. Perry, a priestess, feels a deep spiritual connection to a saint-like "patron" called Ogun and predicts events channeling other spirits using sacred seashells. Her faith is called Santeria, a religion grounded in African beliefs that were transported to the New World aboard slave ships and melded with Christian beliefs in Cuba. By ALLAN TURNER. (Already filed)
SMOG (Houston) — Houston has a long way to go before its air is safe to breathe, despite a decades-long effort to scrub the skies of lung-damaging smog, the latest science suggests. The Environmental Protection Agency this month released a study showing that ozone, or smog, can cause asthma attacks and heart disease and contribute to early deaths at levels lower than the current national standard. By MATTHEW TRESAUGUE. (Already filed)
INCOME (Houston) — Jerome Edmond trudges through the damp grass along the shoulder of the North Freeway here, gripping the strap of his backpack. He's ridden three buses from his home in Houston's Third Ward and now he's in the homestretch, a mile away from a north Houston technical college where he's training to be a wind energy and power plant operator. He walks the last leg, wishing he had a car, past a long row of car dealerships. Edmond, 34, a former Army sergeant, is emblematic of income inequality in Houston, one of those Americans for whom "inequality has deepened" and "upward mobility has stalled," as President Obama said last month in his State of the Union address. By ANITA HASSAN. (Already filed)
BUSINESS/FINANCIAL NEWS ("f'' category)
AFL-CIO (Houston) AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks with the media Monday afternoon, in advance of the union's winter meeting in Houston Tuesday and Wednesday. By L.M. SIXEL.
WHITHER-RACKSPACE (San Antonio) — Amazon Inc., IBM and Microsoft are taking big bites out of Rackspace Hosting's lunch. Lanham Napier, whose enthusiasm and showmanship kept Rackers fired up, is out as CEO. Its tumbling stock price makes the cloud-computing and Web-hosting company an ever more attractive takeover target. By NOLAN HICKS. (Already filed)
EF-CRASHES (San Antonio) — Fatal accidents in the Eagle Ford Shale region had a slight dip last year, but the overall number of serious wrecks in the region is still on the rise. The Texas Department of Transportation is again rolling out its "Be safe, drive smart" campaign in South and West Texas, where an energy boom has put more cars and heavy trucks of all sorts on the road. In the Eagle Ford, there were 3,430 crashes that resulted in serious injuries or fatalities in 2013. There were 236 fatalities, down from 248 the year before. By JENNIFER HILLER. (Already filed)
INSURERS-DECEASED (San Antonio) — Major life insurance companies failed to pay millions in benefits following policyholder deaths, an ongoing investigation by various states' insurance regulators has uncovered. Such giants as MetLife, New York Life, Prudential Insurance Co. are among insurers that didn't follow the law in identifying those due benefits. San Antonio-based insurer USAA, though, isn't one of them. In a report released last week, insurance regulators found USAA has been using the Social Security Administration's Death Master File since the 1990s to identify deceased life-insurance policyholders. By PATRICK DANNER. (Already filed)
BEEF-LABELING (San Antonio) — So the farm bill passed, and with it country-of-origin labels that must detail where that animal for that steak or pork chop was born, raised and slaughtered. Canada and Mexico are upset and say that it's a form of discrimination against their product; Texas and northern U.S. ranchers who may have mixed herds also are upset. By LYNN BREZOSKY. (Already filed)
ENTERTAINMENT ("e'' category)
TV-BOY-FISHER (Undated) — NBC capitalizes on Olympics broadcast to premiere two new shows, "About a Boy," starring Minnie Driver, and "Growing Up Fisher"; Boy has an early premiere of Saturday, Fisher premieres Sunday before moving to their regular time slots. Boy is the better show but the takeaway here is that both shows eschew the kind of snarky humor that has been part of so many recent TV shows. By DAVID WIEGAND. (Already filed)
TV-DOWNTON-COMMENT (Undated) — Review of the fairly terrible season finale of "Downton Abbey." When we reviewed the previous seven episodes, we concluded that the cliches were overwhelming but the show was still entertaining, somewhat. The finale is ridiculous. It should infuriate viewers who expect better from the series. By DAVID WIEGAND. (Already filed)