Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Must Read: Soros Gives $500,000 for Three-Strikes Reform; Brown Appointee Weakens Ethics Panel

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Billionaire progressive George Soros has donated $500,000 to a ballot measure proposal that would reform California’s draconian three-strikes law, the LA Times reports. The measure is proposed for November and it would require that a defendant’s so-called third strike be a violent felony. Current law allows defendants to be sentenced to life in prison even if their third strike is not violent, and the law has contributed to overcrowding in California prisons and the rapid growth of the taxpayer-funded prison industry.

Ann Ravel
  • Ann Ravel
2. Ann Ravel, an appointee of Governor Jerry Brown to the state Fair Political Practices Commission, has eased enforcement of political wrongdoing since taking over the ethics panel last year. The LA Times reports that Ravel has softened rules on gift-giving from lobbyists to lawmakers, has curtailed the number of public ethics investigations, and has decided to keep secret the names of politicians who are being investigated for political wrongdoing. Brown declined to comment specifically on Ravel’s controversial moves, but said he supports her work.

3. California has one of the highest underemployment rates in the country, with more than 20 percent of adults either out of work or working part-time when they would rather work full-time, according to a new Gallup survey, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports (via Rough & Tumble). California is among five states with the highest underemployment rate.

4. Air pollution not only is bad for your lungs, it appears to be bad for your brain, California Watch reports, citing new research. A new study shows that air pollution appears to accelerate cognitive decline in women, and may be playing a role in the increased number of reported cases of dementia among seniors.

5. The Ninth Circuit appellate court appears unwilling to overturn Prop 209 and reinstate affirmative action in college admissions even though the numbers of blacks and Latinos in the UC system have declined significantly since the ballot measure passed, the Chron and Mercury News report. The federal appellate panel indicated that it was bound by an earlier ruling from the same court that upheld Prop 209 as constitutional in 1997.

6. State regulators are investigating welds in PG&E pipelines after two welders said numerous welds in the utility’s pipeline system are faulty, the Chron reports.

7. And the abundance of hatchery salmon in the Mokelumne River could be decimating wild salmon, the Chron reports, citing a new study. Research shows that the ability of wild salmon to reproduce can be harmed if they mate with hatchery salmon, because of genetic defects in the hatchery fish.

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