Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Court Blocks Fracked Natural Gas Plant in East Bay; State Legislators to Introduce Smartphone Kill Switch Law

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A state appeals court has blocked a proposed new power plant in the East Bay that would use fracked natural gas, saying there’s no solid evidence that the PG&E facility in Oakley is necessary. According to the Chron, the state appellate court unanimously concluded that the California Public Utilities Commission had improperly approved the power plant last year, because PG&E had failed to produce sufficient evidence to back up its claims that it needed the fossil fuel facility to help regulate the power grid. The legal decision represents a victory for environmentalists, green energy producers, and consumer advocates.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
  • San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
2. California Democratic lawmakers say they will introduce new legislation that would require smartphone manufactures to equip their devices with kill switches that render the phones inoperable when stolen, the LA Times$ reports. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and other law enforcement officials in the state have been pushing for kill switches, contending that the refusal by smartphone makers to install them has led to a surge in robberies nationwide. Oakland police say 75 percent of robberies in the city involve a mobile device.

3. The principal of Corondelet High School, an all-girls private school in Concord, apologized for a racially insensitive planned lunch menu at the school that sought to commemorate Black History Month by serving fried chicken, watermelon, and cornbread, the CoCo Times$ reports. It’s not clear who came up with the idea for the now-canceled lunch.

4. Up to forty state lawmakers, including several prominent Democrats, may be caught up in a campaign finance corruption scandal in Sacramento involving an influential lobbying firm that held lavish — and illegal — fundraisers for political candidates, the SacBee$ reports. The state Fair Political Practices Commission has fined the lobbying firm, Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates, and plans to issue warning letters to politicians who benefitted from the firm’s illegal activities.

5. Just a week after federal immigration reform looked as if it might finally get approval in Congress, GOP House Speaker John Boehner has all-but-abandoned the effort, saying conservative Republicans will never agree to an immigration deal with President Obama, the LA Times$ reports.

6. And Twitter’s stock plummeted after the company revealed that it had far fewer new users than expected, AP reports.

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