Civil Rights

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Marriage Equality Activists Push for Social Security Benefits

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

In the past month, an online petition — on the campaign platform CREDO Mobilize — that urges Congress to extend Social Security benefits to same-sex couples has garnered more than 109,000 signatures. The petition is just one of many campaigns by advocacy groups backing the Social Security and Marriage Equality Act (SAME).

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New Opposition Emerges Against Smartphone Kill Switches

by Charlie Guese
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM


As smartphone kill switch legislation moves toward passage in Sacramento, new opposition is emerging against the bill — and it’s not from cellphone manufacturers and carriers. Instead, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based advocacy group that is generally aligned with progressive causes, has decided to come out against SB 962 on the grounds that it might allow the government to turn off people’s cellphones in certain instances.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland May Take Animal Shelter Away From OPD; ALCO Sheriff Sued for Forcing Female Inmates to Take Pregnancy Tests

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council is considering a proposal to take the city’s troubled animal shelter away from the police department and put it under civilian control, the Trib$ reports. Animal rights activists have pushed for this change for years, but previous Oakland police chiefs opposed it. However, new Police Chief Sean Whent supports the plan because it would relieve the overburdened department from having to run the shelter and enable OPD to reassign officers to more pressing police duties. Other Bay Area cities, like Berkeley, have already moved to civilian control.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Judge Orders Berkeley to Use Disputed Student Council District; Oakland Schools Get New Superintendent

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 2, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered Berkeley to use in this year’s elections new council district boundaries that include a disputed district, in which a large majority of the residents are UC Berkeley students. As a result, Berkeley might have its first Cal student on the city council since Nancy Skinner (now an Assemblymember) won election in the 1980s. Some opponents of the new district contended that it was designed by the council majority to remove Councilmember Kriss Worthington from office. But Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that the city could not return to old council districts drawn up in 2002, because they are now unconstitutional, the Trib$ reports.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Affirmative Action Measure; Warriors Buy New Property for San Francisco Arena

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court today upheld a Michigan law that bans affirmative action in public programs, including university admissions, the Mercury News$ reports. The high court held that states have the right to establish such bans — a ruling that likely means California’s nearly identical anti-affirmative action law, Proposition 209, cannot be overturned by the courts. As a result, opponents of Prop 209 will need to now pass a statewide ballot measure to overturn it. A recent attempt at such a measure, however, stalled in the state legislature after Asian-American lawmakers blocked it, arguing that it would make it tougher for Asian students to gain admission to the University of California system.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: OPD Still Targeting African Americans; Explosive Fracked Oil to Be Shipped Through the East Bay

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Despite a decade-long reform effort, Oakland police are disproportionately stopping black motorists in the city, the Trib and Chron report, citing a new OPD analysis. Blacks accounted for 62 percent of all OPD stops from April to November of last year, even though they represent 28 percent of the city’s population. OPD officers also were far more likely to search African Americans during traffic stops, doing so 47 percent of the time compared to 17 percent for whites and Asians. Searches of black motorists, however, were no more likely to recover illegal items than searches of other ethnic groups. In addition, black motorists also were often stopped — 39 percent — even though they had not violated any traffic laws.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Council Backs Away from Surveillance Center; Bay Bridge Contractor Pocketed $49 Million in Bonuses

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A majority of Oakland city councilmembers made clear last night that they have no intention of expanding the city’s surveillance center and intend to limit it to the Port of Oakland — a reversal from last year and a strong rebuke to city and port staffers. The Trib$ reports that councilmembers were clearly uneasy about the potential abuses of the so-called Domain Awareness Center, or the DAC, in light of revelations over the past several months about NSA spying on US citizens. The council wants city and port staffers to come up with a plan for limiting the DAC’s uses to just the port — as originally proposed in 2009, and postponed a vote on the issue for two weeks. City officials also acknowledged last night that the surveillance center was never intended to help fight crime in Oakland.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation Opposes Oakland Surveillance Center

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Adding to a small, but growing list of organizations that publicly oppose construction of Oakland’s Domain Awareness Center, or DAC, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a letter today to city councilmembers calling on them to halt the project.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Brown Declares Drought Emergency; Obama Announces NSA Reforms

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown today declared a drought emergency in California, following the driest calendar year in state history, the Mercury News$ reports. The governor’s announcement comes as the National Weather Services is predicting that California’s thirteen-month dry spell likely will continue for at least three more months, and thereby leave the state without a rainy season for the second straight year. Brown’s declaration is expected to be followed by strict water rationing throughout the state in the weeks and months ahead.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

After Homeless Deaths, UC Berkeley and San Jose State Students Launch Sleeping Bag Drive

by Sam Levin
Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Over the past two weeks, seven homeless people have died in the Bay Area, all most likely a result of the cold weather. The deaths prompted students from UC Berkeley and San Jose State to join together and raise funds for hundreds of sleeping bags, which they will deliver next week before Christmas.

"Who knows how many have died that haven't been reported?" said Taliah Mirmalek, a UC Berkeley student who is helping to coordinate the drive. "It's very upsetting news. The sadness led to wanting to take action. ... This is everybody recognizing that every community has homeless community members."

The students have well surpassed their original fundraising goals. Details on how to donate below.

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