Astros’ left-handed bullpen role is Tony Sipp’s to lose

By Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle Updated 11:48 am, Saturday, March 3, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-3', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 3', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle Image 1of/3 CaptionClose Image 1 of 3 Houston Astros LHP pitcher Tony Sipp (29) as full squad workouts began during spring training day at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in West Palm Beach . Houston Astros LHP pitcher Tony Sipp (29) as full squad workouts began during spring training day at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, in West Palm Beach . Photo: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle Image 2 of 3 Houston Astros LHP pitcher Tony Sipp (29) throws a bullpen session as the pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time during spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in West Palm Beach . less Houston Astros LHP pitcher Tony Sipp (29) throws a bullpen session as the pitchers and catchers worked out for the first time during spring training at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Wednesday, Feb. 14, ... more Photo: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle Image 3 of 3 Astros' left-handed bullpen role is Tony Sipp's to lose 1 / 3 Back to Gallery WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The left-handed reliever job in the Astros’ bullpen had been up for grabs, but now it is Tony Sipp’s to lose. Two weeks into spring training, manager A.J. Hinch said there is one bullpen spot open, and he is favoring Sipp. Sipp has shown improved movement on his split-fingered fastball, his critical off-speed Continue Reading

San Diego’s Toni Atkins is tapped as the first woman leader of the California State Senate

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León announced Thursday that the chamber is set to pick San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins as his successor, making her the first woman and first openly gay legislator to hold the leadership position, a move that is bringing praise from Democrats and Republicans alike.De León, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement that Atkins, D-San Diego, “will make history and be our Senate's next president pro tempore. I have every confidence she will lead America's most accomplished legislative chamber to even greater heights and build on our extraordinary progress.”De León said Democratic senators are unified in their support for Atkins and there will be a formal vote in early January before a transition next year. De León leaving stepping down as president to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein.If De León’s statement holds true, it will be the second time that Atkins, 55, of South Park, has been the leader of one of the chambers in Sacramento. Elected to the State Assembly in 2010, she served as speaker from May 2014 until March 2016.Atkins was a San Diego City Council member from 2000 to 2008. She served as acting mayor for several months during the pension crisis that erupted in 2005.“Today, I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me, and I intend to earn that trust every day by working tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone,” Atkins said in a statement.“Given our national divisions, California’s example is more important than ever – and I look forward to working with our president pro tem and all of our colleagues to ensure that the Senate continues to rise together to meet the challenges faced by the great people we represent,” Atkins’ statement said.Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, issued a laudatory statement about the Continue Reading

California Is Ready To Recognize A Third Gender. Is The Rest Of The Country?

Late last year, Star Hagen-Esquerra began thinking it was time for a legal name change. Star had been going by that name for two years, since coming out at age 15 to friends and family as nonbinary — identifying as neither a woman nor man and choosing to use plural, nongendered pronouns. But now they were 17, stretching toward adulthood, and confronting all of adulthood’s tedious paperwork. Star had a driver’s license with the wrong name on it. They had begun applying to colleges, also under the wrong name. This was a problem for a few reasons, but mostly because Star really liked to follow the rules. And yet every time they had to fill out an official form, Star felt almost fraudulent, writing down a name they barely recognized on the rare occasion they heard it said aloud.And so 10 days after the presidential election, when the Diversity Center in Santa Cruz County, California, offered a “Documents Day” for locals to learn more about state and federal name and gender changes, Star decided to look into legally changing their name.But going to the Diversity Center that day wouldn’t just result in a name change for Star. It would turn them into an accidental trailblazer. On Documents Day, Star met Sara Kelly Keenan, a 55-year-old intersex activist who, four months earlier, had became the first Californian (and second-known American) with a court order declaring her gender as nonbinary. A match was lit. In Star, Keenan saw an opportunity to help younger generations achieve the same legal recognition she didn’t get until her fifties.Keenan walked Star through the paperwork, and then the Santa Cruz County court clerks walked Star and their family through more paperwork. Three months later, a blissful Star became the nation’s first known minor to be granted nonbinary status. Still, no state in America — and certainly not the federal government — formally recognizes any gender beyond male or female. Nonbinary Continue Reading

California Becomes The First State To Recognize A Third Gender

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Sunday making his state the first in the nation to officially recognize a third gender.Californians will soon be able to identify as nonbinary, in addition to male or female, on state-issued identity documents, including driver's licenses and birth certificates. The bill also eases the process of legal gender changes of any kind — male to female, female to male, and either male or female to nonbinary — by removing requirements to obtain a doctor’s statement or appear in person in court.“I want to thank Gov. Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender, nonbinary, and intersex family members, friends, and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation," the bill's co-author Sen. Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said in a statement. "The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights."This summer, Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles became the first in the nation to offer a nonbinary option, “X,” on IDs and licenses. But California is the first to offer statewide legal recognition of nonbinary citizens — as supporters called it, “gender freedom.” BuzzFeed News reported on Senate Bill 179, or the Gender Recognition Act, in May. At the time, activists said California’s measure could inspire other progressive states to follow suit. The bill was widely supported by doctor, lawyer, and teacher groups; its main opposition was from the California Family Council, a religious organization.But despite the measure’s popularity, Gov. Brown’s support was never a sure thing because of the expense associated with it. SB 179 was forecast to cost the DMV $880,000 alone in system updates. The governor didn’t make his opinion of the measure known during the Continue Reading

Bengals’ All-Pro Geno Atkins injured in practice; Mike Nugent returns with Bears

The Cincinnati Bengals are still paying the price for Monday night’s loss to Pittsburgh as starting cornerbacks Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard and backup safety Brandon Wilson missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday.Starting safety Shawn Williams also remains out with a hamstring injury suffered in Denver.That leaves the Bengals thin at the corner position with two days remaining before taking on the Chicago Bears Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. More: Steelers-Bengals rivalry has brought NFL rules changes More: Bengals' safety George Iloka has suspension overturned More: Bengals’ George Iloka: ‘What are we doing then? We’re not playing football. It’s just flag.' “We’ve got that have been working their tails off all year long that may get a chance to show what they can do and I’ve got confidence in them,” secondary coach Kevin Coyle said. “However that ends up shaking out here at the end of the week, we’ve got a group that is focused and determined to play well and they’re preparing that way.”If none of those players are able to practice Friday or Saturday, a roster move might have to be made to promote corners Tony McRae or Sojourn Shelton off the practice squad. Currently, only William Jackson III, KeiVarae Russell and Josh Shaw are the only healthy corners.“Just ball out. It’s as simple as that. Just go out there and ball out,” Russell said. “I ain’t worried about who’s in, who’s out, I play football. That’s why I’m here. They pay me to play. If I have an opportunity to play, I’ll do that. It ain’t difficult. It’s as simple as that. We obviously get more reps now (in practice) but take advantage of every rep you get.”Shaw also has played safety this year, and serves as the third option there behind George Iloka and Clayton Fejedelem if Williams Continue Reading

New California law expands who can perform abortions

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform a type of early abortion. The legislation by Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins of San Diego would let those professionals perform what are known as aspiration abortions during the first trimester. The method involves inserting a tube and using suction to terminate a pregnancy. Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire already allow nurse practitioners to perform those abortions. Brown announced Wednesday that he signed AB154 along with several other bills related to women's health care. Atkins says the new law will help expand access to abortion services in areas of the state with few physicians. Republican lawmakers who opposed the legislation argued that it would increase risks to patients. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

California could adopt legislation that would allow non-physicians to perform abortions

Nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants could perform a type of early abortion under a bill approved Monday by the state Senate, leaving the measure one step from the governor. The measure by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would let those medical professionals perform what are known as aspiration abortions during the first trimester. The method involves inserting a tube and using suction to terminate a pregnancy. The Senate approved AB154 on a mostly party-line, 25-11 vote, sending it back to the Assembly for a final vote on amendments. Expanding the list of professionals who can perform those types of abortions would help make them available in areas that have few doctors, said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who carried the measure in the Senate. She said about half of California counties lack abortion providers. “All women deserve access to care in their local communities,” she said. The procedure is safest when performed early, yet women in rural areas often have difficulty arranging for and traveling to a provider, she said. Several Republicans objected to the expansion, saying it would increase medical risks for patients. “Abortion is a serious medical procedure with vast complications, and I would argue that only the best-trained should conduct such an operation,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. “It has direct and profound impact on lives: the mother and the baby — and there is a baby.” Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, said legalized abortion was supposed to end the days when women’s lives were put at risk. Yet he said Atkins’ bill would allow the procedures by providers who have less training and in clinics without sufficient backup if there are complications. Jackson responded that the medical professionals covered by the bill have been performing the procedure for six years without significant problems. The bill requires them to get Continue Reading

No El Centro, California protest as immigrants arrive

EL CENTRO – A day after more than 100 frustrated protesters in Murrieta blocked a federal plan to transfer three busloads of undocumented immigrants into Riverside County, U.S. Customs and Border Protection quietly transferred three additional busloads of undocumented immigrants to the El Centro Border Patrol Station on Wednesday.Unlike the political tension and the raw frustrations that broke out at the Murrieta Border Patrol station Tuesday, there were no protesters, immigrant activists or family members in sight to meet the buses as they arrived at the El Centro station around noon. RELATED: Immigrants arrive in El Centro RELATED: Protesters turn back busloads of immigrants in MurrietaIn a predominantly Latino and heavily immigrant city that sits just a few minutes from the Mexican border, the arrival of 140 immigrants didn't come as a surprise to most residents, who said it's a common occurrence in the area."It doesn't bother me," said Pete Rodriguez, a resident of El Centro. "I know why people are leaving their own countries — they're starving. You can't make $2 in a day over there."Rodriguez said the country's immigration system has been overlooked over several presidential administrations."The U.S. government hasn't enforced any sort of immigration policy," he said. "You can't blame one president for previous failure to establish policy."More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after crossing the Texas-Mexico border since October in what President Barack Obama has called a humanitarian crisis. Many are under the impression that they will receive leniency from U.S. authorities.U.S. officials are planning to fly immigrants to other cities in Texas and California to ease the crunch. After they are processed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will decide who can be released while awaiting deportation proceedings. Some immigrants have already been sent to Arizona and the federal government has announced plans to send others to Continue Reading

Some states see opportunity for single-payer health care

As Republicans continue to push reforms reducing the government's role in health care, some opponents are emboldened in their support for the opposite approach, one that would greatly increase government involvement.Progressive politicians and activists see a future in single-payer health care, the term for a government-run health insurance program that would be available to any American. While a Democratic-backed federal bill has no future in the GOP-led Congress, backers have had more success at the state level.On Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled their plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act. By Monday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 22 million fewer people would have health-care coverage by 2026; a similar plan that the House passed was expected to leave 23 million Americans uninsured and increase out-of-pocket costs for the sick and elderly.Following the election of President Trump, Jimmi Kuehn-Boldt of Palm Springs, Calif., began advocating for single-payer health care with the grassroots group Courageous Resistance. At 63, he doesn't expect anything to take effect before he's eligible for Medicare in a little more than a year, but he said he's worried about seeing care for others deteriorate if Republicans are successful. ► Later: Senate leaders delay health care vote, lacking GOP support ► Next: What's to come on health care now that the Senate has punted? The Senate proposal makes any talk of single-payer, either in Washington or Sacramento, "just as important, if not more than before," he said."We've got to see how it's fleshed out in Washington, but we can still move forward here," Kuehn-Boldt said.More than 100 Democrats in the House have signed on to a single-payer bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan called Medicare for All because it would eliminate the current 65-and-older requirement for Medicare. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has talked about introducing his own Continue Reading

Atkins Ave. in Brooklyn has steel nerves after 5 shot in 12 hrs.: ‘It happens’ teen says

It takes more than a few shootings to faze this Brooklyn block.Just days after five men were shot on the same block last weekend, residents of Atkins Ave. in East New York said they're used to violent crime. "It's bad, but it happens," said Alicia Tony, 17, who lives on Atkins between New Lots Ave. and Hegeman Ave., where the shootings took place. "I'm still outside today." The first shooting took place shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday, when shots were fired at a neighborhood party, killing one and injuring another. Less than 12 hours later, three more men fell victim to a drive-by shooting. From his stoop a few yards away, Ronnie Coates, 55, saw the car drive up the block and fire a half dozen shots into a crowd of about 20 people. "When they start shooting, I duck. I don't run, I duck," said Coates, who unloads trucks for a living. "If you live here long enough, you learn things like that." Coates added that the shooting was nothing new on his block. Five years ago, a young man was shot right outside his front door. "They shoot up all the time around here," he said. As bad as the shooting was, it wasn't uncommon for the street, said Cesar Catala, a 26-year-old construction worker who lives one block over on Atkins Ave. "There's at least one shooting a week," Catala said. "When I come home at night, I take a cab. It's not worth it, not worth your life." Catala said he's seen robberies, shootings and prostitutes outside his house in recent months, adding: "There's always something going on." There have been 69 shootings since January in the 75th Precinct, which includes the block on Atkins Ave. - 23% of all the shootings in Brooklyn North. There have also been 13 murders in the 75th so far this year - one-fifth of all homicides in Brooklyn North. In the same period last year, there were 10 murders and 72 shootings in the precinct. Despite the high numbers, police said there's always a silver lining. "Lucky for us, the perps still can't shoot straight or the numbers Continue Reading