Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Must Reads: OPD Ordered to Reinstate Punished Cops; Bay Bridge Appears to Have Corrosion Problems, Too

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 20, 2013 at 6:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An arbitrator has ordered the Oakland Police Department to reinstate two police commanders who were demoted for their roles in a botched raid that left two officers dead, SFGate reports. The arbitrator ruled that while the two commanders — Captain Rick Orozco, who was demoted to sergeant, and Lieutenant Chris Mufarreh, who was demoted to officer — had made mistakes during the deadly raid, the department’s decision to punish them — and not other commanders who were involved — was “unfair and unbalanced.”

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Greener Neighborhood, Bigger Babies

by Glenys Webster of Environmental Health News
Sun, May 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Living in areas with more plants and vegetation during pregnancy is linked with improved fetal outcomes, a new study from Spain reports. On average, babies born to mothers living in "greener" areas — places covered with more plant life — had higher birth weights and slightly larger head circumference compared to babies whose mothers lived in areas with lower plant cover. Effects were stronger in women with lower education, suggesting increased benefits of green space in areas with lower socioeconomic status.

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How the IRS’s Nonprofit Division Got So Dysfunctional

by Kim Barker and Justin Elliott of ProPublica
Sun, May 19, 2013 at 7:14 AM

The IRS division responsible for flagging Tea Party groups has long been an agency afterthought, beset by mismanagement, financial constraints and an unwillingness to spell out just what it expects from social welfare nonprofits, former officials and experts say. The controversy that erupted in the past week, leading to the ousting of the acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner, an investigation by the FBI, and congressional hearings that kicked off Friday, comes against a backdrop of dysfunction brewing for years.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Flame Retardants May Affect Toddlers' Mental Development

by Glenys Webster of Environmental Health News
Sat, May 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Flame retardants in breast milk are associated with slightly lower mental development scores in fourteen-month-old children, reports a new study from Spain. The chemicals were measured in the first milk called the colostrum. On average, children with higher exposures scored two points lower on the mental development scale than less-exposed children. The scale measures age-appropriate advances, including performance abilities, memory, and early language skills. The average mental development score is 100, and two-thirds of children score between 85 and 115 points.

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Traffic Noise Increases Risk of Diabetes

by Craig Butt of Environmental Health News
Sat, May 18, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Noise from honking cars and police sirens can disrupt sleep, but it also may increase the chance of developing diabetes, according to a large study from Denmark. The researchers compared noise levels from road traffic to the incidence of diabetes in 57,000 people. As the noise levels increased, so did the risk for developing the disease. The risk increased by 8 to 11 percent for every 10-decibel (dB) increase in road noise. A decibel is a measure of loudness and intensity of sound.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Must Reads: FEMA Moves to Chop Down 82,000 Trees in Berkeley and Oakland Hills; Lead Ammunition Ban Clears Assembly

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 17, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Officials from FEMA are moving forward with a controversial plan to chop down more than 80,000 trees in the Berkeley and Oakland hills — 22,000 in Berkeley and 60,000 in Oakland — as a fire safety measure, according to the California Progress Report. The proposal would clear-cut large swaths of eucalyptus groves in Strawberry and Claremont canyons, and would pour up to 1,400 gallons of herbicides in the hills to prevent the non-native trees from growing back. FEMA has quietly held two public meetings already on the proposal and is planning to hold a final one tomorrow — Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Ave. in Oakland.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: Bay Area Housing Market Remains Red Hot; Oakland Council Shelves Plan to Audit the City Auditor

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 16, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Bay Area housing market remained red hot in April, as the median home sales price soared to $510,000 — its highest point in five years and a 30.8 jump over the same month a year ago, the Chron$ reports. A relatively small number of homes on the market are continuing to spark fierce bidding wars. However, the region’s median home price is still short of its peak of $650,000 in the summer of 2007. The low point was $375,000 in March 2009 during the height of the foreclosure crisis.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: Assembly Speaker Perez Rewarded Big Fundraisers; Brown’s Budget Boosts Spending for Schools, But Nothing Else

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Speaker John A. Perez rewarded politicians who raised the most funds to help elect more Democrats last year with prime jobs in the Assembly, the Center for Investigative Reporting reports. In all, Perez’s efforts pumped $5.8 million into campaigns to help Democrats win a super-majority in the Assembly. And then Perez handed out choice positions to the biggest fundraisers. San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins donated the most money — $282,000 — and Perez made her Assembly majority leader. Most of the cash raised by Democrats came from special interests with business in front of key committees in the Assembly.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Appellate Court Appears Ready to Rule Against Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 14, 2013 at 12:49 PM

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco appears to be ready to rule against a controversial oyster farm in Point Reyes, according to reporters and environmentalists who attended today's hearing. Scott Graham, a longtime, respected journalist for the The Recorder legal newspaper, tweeted after the hearing: "Sounds like win for the govt and enviros." And Pamela MacLean of Trial Insider wrote, " The days may be numbered for the popular Drakes Bay Oyster farm, if the questions Tuesday from three judges on 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are any indication." The Obama administration and environmentalists want the courts to uphold then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision last fall to not renew Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease in Point Reyes in order to make way for the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Brown to Propose Big Boost in Education Spending; Feds to Probe Bay Bridge Bolt Scandal

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 14, 2013 at 6:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown will propose a major boost in education spending later this week when he unveils his budget plan, the AP reports. The billions in new spending will be financed by a $4.5 billion increase in tax revenues this year. Brown wants to direct more than a $1 billion toward schools in low-income areas. In addition, he wants to spend another $1 billion to implement new, more rigorous academic standards.

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