Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: Feds Threaten to Cut Off $3.5 Billion in Education Funds to State; New UC President Vows to Increase Minority Enrollment

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Federal education officials are threatening to cut off $3.5 billion in funding to public schools in California this year because of a dispute over standardized testing, the Mercury News reports. The feds are angry about legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown last month that eliminates the STAR test this spring. The state is launching new computerized testing for public schools this year to replace the STAR test, but will not release the results because the new exams are only in a testing phase. Brown has argued that it’s unfair to require students to take two sets of standardized tests, but US Department of Education officials say the legislation violates federal law.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Federal Budget Cuts Will Cause More People to Go Hungry This Holiday Season

by Madeleine Key
Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect this Friday will cost Alameda County residents about $1.24 million in food stamp benefits, forcing many East Bay families to go hungry this holiday season. According to data from Feeding America, a national nonprofit, the cuts to the nation’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as the food stamps progam) will result in 453,922 fewer meals a month for the 124,000 East Bay residents served by the program.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Lawmakers to Probe BART Worker Deaths; Obamacare Working Just Fine in California

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The state Assembly will hold a hearing next month to investigate the deaths of two longtime BART workers who were killed by a train operated by a management trainee during the recent strike, the CoCo Times reports. Lawmakers say they want to know why BART failed to change its track safety protocols after another worker was killed in 2008. The transit agency, in fact, didn’t change them until last week — after the most recent deaths.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Express Wins More Awards for Journalism Excellence

by Express staff
Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 1:59 PM

The Express has won two awards for journalism excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter. The paper won in the investigative journalism category for Darwin BondGraham’s report “Public Research for Private Gain.” The paper also won an award for arts and culture reporting for Ellen Cushing’s story, “The Bacon-Wrapped Economy.” Both awards were in the print/small newspaper division for publications with a circulation of less than 100,000.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Amount of Toxic Chemicals in the Bay Increases; Warriors Plan for San Francisco Arena Gets More Expensive

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The amount of toxic chemicals — including flame retardants and pesticides — in San Francisco Bay is increasing, according to a new study, the Chron reports. The chemicals mostly come from everyday uses in homes and businesses and are nearing a level of “high concern,” according to the report from the Regional Monitoring Program. The report states that more monitoring and regulation is necessary to prevent the bay from becoming too polluted. The report also warns that scientists have yet to do a full inventory of all the pollutants.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Must Reads: Obamacare Website Troubles Deepen; Feinstein Strongly Defends NSA Spying on Americans

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The problem-plagued Obamacare website could cause health insurance costs to spike unless it’s fixed soon, The New York Times reports. The viability of Obamacare is dependent on young, healthy people signing up for health insurance, but if they decide to give up because of the website’s many problems, it could cause health premiums for everyone else to skyrocket. Insurers need young, healthy people to buy insurance to offset the high costs related to insuring older folks with more medical needs — who now cannot be denied insurance under Obamacare.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Drones and Automatic Weapons on Display in Downtown Oakland for Urban Shield

by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Hundreds of police and sheriffs’ officers — about half of them donning military battle fatigues — converged on downtown Oakland's Marriott Hotel today for the first day of Urban Shield, one of the nation's largest security conferences and weapons shows. Outside the Marriott, dozens of community members representing churches and racial and economic justice organizations, rallied against the event. United under the name Facing Urban Shield, the coalition said the militarized tone of the event reflects the worsening human rights records of police forces around America, and the waste of billions on jails and state prisons. They also said the presence of arms dealers in the city undercuts Oakland's efforts to stem gun violence.

Inside the Urban Shield conference, dozens of vendors showed off robots, drones, assault rifles, and computer software to officers and staff from police agencies all around Northern California.

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Friday Must Reads: Oakland A’s Owners Pumped $9 Million Into Dark Money Group; Cal Football Players Have Worst Graduation Rate in Nation

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Fisher family, which owns the Gap and is the majority owner of the Oakland A’s, pumped more than $9 million into a dark money group at the center of an illegal campaign to restrict the power of unions in California and block a tax measure designed to fund public schools. The LA Times$ reports that the Fishers made the huge donation to the Virginia-based Americans for Job Security, a conservative nonprofit that funds Republican causes. Americans for Job Security then funneled the money through two Arizona-based dark money groups, which gave the cash to a campaign that sought to harm unions and stop Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure — Prop 30 — last year. State regulators announced yesterday that they had levied the largest ever fine — $1 million — against the Arizona groups for violating campaign disclosure laws. It’s unclear why the Fishers donated so much cash to the dark money organization. The family has long been supporters of Brown, and the governor’s wife, Anne Gust, is a former top executive at the Gap.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

BART Votes to Allow All-Day Bike Access, Permanently End Rush Hour Ban

by Sam Levin
Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Some good news for East Bay cyclists today: The BART Board of Directors unanimously voted to permanently end the rush-hour ban on bikes. This decision comes during a pilot period that launched in July, which has allowed BART riders to bring their bikes on the train ruing all hours of operation. The trial apparently convinced the board that permitting bikes during rush hour is not a huge problem — and cycling advocates are celebrating this latest development as a major victory for commuters.

“By making full access for bikes on BART a permanent policy change, East Bay residents will have a new healthy and convenient commute option,” Renee Rivera, executive director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition said in a statement. “This particularly benefits those who commute within the East Bay on BART lines where there is ample room for bikes, but who are restricted from bringing bikes on board by the current rules.”

Keep in mind, however, that there are still some restrictions!

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Thursday Must Reads: State Regulators to Fine Shadowy Right-Wing Group $1 Million; Pepper-Spray Cop Gets $38,000 Settlement

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The state’s political watchdog agency plans to fine a shadowy right-wing group $1 million for it actions during the 2012 election, the Mercury News reports. The Arizona-based group Americans for Responsible Leadership pumped $11 million into campaigns last year to defeat Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure plan and to strip organized labor of political influence in the state. The conservative group acted as a conduit for two other secretive right-wing organizations, one of which has ties to the billionaire Koch brothers. However, those groups have yet to reveal their actual donors, and it’s unclear whether the California Political Practices Commission will do so when it makes its $1 million fine announcement today.

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