Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday’s Top Stories: Komen Changes Mind on Planned Parenthood; Bay Citizen and California Watch Are in Merger Talks

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Today’s top stories:

1. The Susan G. Komen foundation, a breast cancer organization that was under siege for its decision earlier this week to defund Planned Parenthood, reversed course today, The New York Times reports. In a statement, the Komen foundation said it had changed its policies and would continue to fund Planned Parenthood. Earlier this week, Komen had said that it wouldn’t give money to any nonprofits that were under “investigation.” But today, Komen said it was altering that policy to clarify that the investigation would have to be criminal in nature and not political. Congressional Republicans, who want to kill Planned Parenthood because it provides abortion services, had launched an investigation of Planned Parenthood, but the probe is widely considered to be nothing more than a political stunt.

Phil Bronstein
  • Phil Bronstein
2. The Bay Citizen, an online-only news organization, is in merger talks with the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley and California Watch, the Bay Citizen reports. Former Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein is expected to run the new merged news organization if it happens. The Bay Citizen has lost numerous top level executives in recent months, in addition to the death of its founder and chief benefactor, billionaire Warren Hellman.

3. The powerful California Nurses Association has thrown its weight behind a millionaires’ tax that is competing with Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure, the SacBee reports. The millionaires’ tax, which would raise taxes on Californians who make more than $1 million a year, also is sponsored by the California Federation of Teachers. Brown’s plan raises taxes on the wealthy, too, but some progressives oppose it because it includes a sales tax increase. Sales taxes disproportionately impact low-income residents. The rival tax plans, however, have split the state’s labor community.

4. The California High Speed Rail Authority used taxpayer funds to hire a lobbyist to influence state legislators, the Mercury News reports. The authority defended the move as a necessary expense, but even backers of high-speed rail questioned the propriety of using government money to lobby government officials.

5. A judge refused to lift to stay-away orders against two Occupy Oakland protesters who are both charged with felony crimes for allegedly attacking police officers, the Chron reports. Michael Lubin, 21, is charged with throwing a two-by-four and large baseball-size rock at cops, while Mario Casillas, 23, allegedly swung a bicycle at police, injuring two officers. The young men deny any wrongdoing.

6. New Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan reorganized his command staff in a move that appears designed to reform the troubled department and appease federal court monitors. The Chron reports that Jordan promoted Sean Whent and Darren Allison, who both used to work in the department’s internal affairs division, to deputy police chief.

7. And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the video of the Prop 8 trial must remain secret, pointing to a previous Supreme Court decision that ruled that the Prop 8 trial could not be broadcast.

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