Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Female Students Accuse UC Berkeley of Botching Rape Cases; Oil Companies Dump Fracking Waste in Pacific Ocean

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Thirty-one current and former female students have filed federal complaints against UC Berkeley, alleging that the campus routinely mishandled sexual assault investigations, the LA Times$ reports. The women contend that Cal officials encouraged them to not pursue criminal charges against their male student attackers and operated a disciplinary system that failed to adequately punish rapists. UC Berkeley is one of several campuses targeted by activists who contend that sexual assaults at universities are treated as a normal part of college life.

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2. Oil companies that have been fracking for fossil fuels off the California coast are routinely dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean, KCET Rewire reports (via Rough & Tumble). Federal regulators have awarded permits to oil companies to dump up to nine billion gallons of fracking waste into ocean waters along the California coast each year.

3. The Berkeley City Council put off a vote until next month on whether to place a council redistricting plan on the November ballot that would create the first-ever student district in the city, Berkeleyside reports. Opponents of the plan successfully gathered enough signatures to force the council to rescind the student district that it approved last year. The council can now approve a new district, which would include student co-ops and dorms on the northside of campus, or ask voters to decide.

4. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors put off for ninety days a vote on whether to adopt Laura’s Law, a program that allows judges to order mentally ill people into treatment, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Backers of the plan include the parents of Candy DeWitt, whose mentally ill son bludgeoned a Berkeley man to death. But opponents of the program contend that it’s wrong to coerce mentally ill people into treatment programs.

5. A federal laboratory has offered to test steel rods on the new Bay Bridge, the Chron reports. Critics contend that Caltrans’ testing program, which began after 32 rods snapped last year, is inadequate.

6. And electric-car maker Tesla announced that it will build a giant factory to produce batteries for up to 500,000 electric cars by 2020, the Mercury News$ reports. The factory also will be powered by solar panels and wind turbines.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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