Friday, March 29, 2013

Secondhand Smoke During Pregnancy Alters Children's Behavior

by Glenys Webster of Environmental Health News
Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Children exposed to secondhand smoke in the womb are more likely to have behavior problems when they’re five to six years old, reports a study from China. Kids with pre-birth exposures were twice as likely to have attention and aggression problems — together called “externalizing" behaviors — compared to non-exposed kids. Prebirth exposures are of particular concern because of the negative effects on the developing fetus.

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Friday Must Read: Sierra Snowpack Is Just 52% of Normal; Obamacare to Lower Healthcare Rates for Poor, Raise them for Middle Class and Wealthy

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Sierra snowpack is just 52 percent of normal after much of the state experienced the driest first three months of any year on record, the SacBee$ and other media outlets report. But thanks to a very wet November and December, many of the state’s major reservoirs are at normal levels. The reservoirs, however, are expected to be depleted this summer, and so the state is urging people to conserve water this year.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Study Finds High Levels of Flame Retardants in Airplanes

by Brett Israel of Environmental Health News
Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Spending about one hundred hours each month in the air, flight attendants are bombarded with pesticides, radiation, ozone, and any illnesses passengers carry on board. Now, new research shows that they also fly along with some of the highest levels ever measured for some flame retardants.

All nineteen commercial airliners in a new study had several flame retardants in their dust. And one chemical was measured at concentrations more than one hundred times higher in the airplane dust than in dust collected from homes and offices.

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Thursday Must Read: Broken Bolts May Delay Bay Bridge Opening; Brown’s Giant Tunnels Spur More Controversy

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Caltrans officials are at loss to explain why more than two-dozen giant steel bolts have snapped on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, and acknowledged yesterday that the problem could delay the opening of the bridge, which is currently slated for Labor Day, the SacBee$ and other media outlets report. Overall, officials are concerned about 288 of the 24-foot-long bolts, which are designed to help the new $6.3 billion span withstand a major earthquake.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Chron Employees Are Protesting For Fair Health Care; Here's How to Help

by Ellen Cushing
Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM

It's no secret the Chron's had a rough couple of years, reportedly hemorrhaging some $50 mil annually. Efforts to stanch the bloodletting have included a series of layoffs that have ravaged the newsroom, a couple of paywall attempts (the most recent of which went into effect this weekend) — and now, apparently, cutting benefits for the very people who've actually had to shoulder all this more-with-less burden: the paper's staff. According to a release posted on MediaWorkers.org, despite "sacrificing pay raises, giving up seniority, losing vacation time and holidays, even working through what used to be our paid lunch hour," over the years, the paper's staff members (many of whom are, full disclosure, friends and acquaintances, and, in my experience, good people and very hardworking journalists) are now being asked by Hearst, the Chron's privately held parent company, to chip in more for health benefits, for an increase that they estimate will total hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars annually per person.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Must Read: Oakland Councilmembers Brooks and Reid Could Be Censured; A’s Plan to Move to San Jose Hits New Snag

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland City Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Larry Reid could be censured by their council colleagues as a result of an independent audit that found that they had broken city laws. The Chron reports that Council President Pat Kernighan plans to develop a process for censuring councilmembers who’ve engaged in wrongdoing, noting that the council apparently has never before censured one of its own. A censure would not automatically result in Brooks and Reid’s removal from office, but it would be a public rebuke of their behavior. Brooks and Reid maintain that they’ve done nothing wrong, but City Auditor Courtney Ruby said the evidence against them is conclusive. Ruby has also forwarded her findings to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Must Read: Oakland Councilmembers Brooks and Reid Broke Laws; School Board Revokes American Indian Charter Schools License

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Larry Reid broke city laws in an attempt to steer a public contract to a construction firm that has ties to them, according to a new report from City Auditor Courtney Ruby, the Trib and Chron report. Ruby said she found that Brooks violated city laws on at least twelve occasions, and illegally interfered in city affairs concerning work on two teen centers. Brooks and Reid deny any wrongdoing, but Ruby said the evidence against them was conclusive. Ruby also found that one of Reid’s aides pressured city staffers to get rid of her parking tickets.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Poll: Obama Voters Strongly Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline

by Express staff
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 3:38 PM

If President Obama green lights the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project — as many environmentalists fear he will do — it will anger a lot of the people who voted him into office. A new national poll shows that Obama voters overwhelming (68 percent) oppose the Keystone XL, which would ship dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

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Major Fuel and Emissions Savings from Autos Are Unlikely

by Brian Bienkowski of The Daily Climate
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Efforts to drastically slash automobile emissions and fuel use within forty years don't stand a chance without subsidies, technology improvements and more stringent government standards, according to a report by a panel of experts released this week. In 2010, Congress directed the National Research Council to assess the feasibility of reducing both gasoline use and greenhouse gas emissions in cars and light trucks by 80 percent by 2050. The council concluded that the goal would be "extremely challenging." Even hitting an intermediate target — cutting fuel use in half by 2030 — would be "very difficult," the council reported.

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Wednesday Must Read: Assault Weapons Ban Is Dead; Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s Won’t Sell Genetically Modified Salmon

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal for a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines has died in the US Senate, the Chron reports. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Feinstein last night that he would not bring the proposed ban to the Senate floor because it doesn’t have enough votes to pass. Republicans, who are united in their opposition to the proposed ban, have been joined by conservative, pro-gun Democrats in red states. Reid, however, is pushing forward with a proposal to mandate universal background checks on gun purchases nationwide.

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