Friday, December 12, 2014

An Express Reporter’s Twitter Nightmare

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

In a case that could have a chilling effect on journalism and free speech on the internet, Twitter temporarily suspended the user account on Thursday held by East Bay investigative reporter Darwin BondGraham after he posted public records on Twitter that he had obtained from the City of Modesto. Twitter suspended BondGraham’s account because an employee of the company PredPol, which markets so-called crime-prediction technology to cities and police agencies, claimed that the public documents tweeted by BondGraham included her private information — an allegation that turned out to be false.

However, Twitter initially refused to investigate whether the accusation against BondGraham was true and informed him via email on Thursday night that the company planned to permanently suspend his Twitter account unless he agreed to delete his posting of the public documents about PredPol. BondGraham, an award-winning freelance journalist whose work often appears in the Express, described the experience as “surreal.”

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oakland Bans the Bullhook Starting in 2017

The council approved a compromise plan pushed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 3:37 PM

The use of bullhooks and other implements for controlling circus elephants will be banned in Oakland starting in late 2017 after city councilmembers reached a compromise agreement to phase-in the prohibition rather than the beginning of next year. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan offered the amendment after labor leaders reached an agreement with the operator that it would not pull the circus out of town within the next three years.

The ordinance passed, 5-2, with Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks voting no and Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney abstaining.

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CHP and Berkeley Police Target Protesters and Journalists with Questionable Force

And some of their assertions about their actions do not square with what happened.

by Ali Winston
Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 2:14 PM

CHP at Monday night's protest. - JOAQUIN PALOMINO
  • Joaquin Palomino
  • CHP at Monday night's protest.
Two weeks of intense protests in the East Bay over the grand jury non-indictments of police-involved deaths of black men in Missouri and New York City have resulted in more than 500 arrests, almost daily freeway occupations, and property destruction in Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, and downtown San Francisco. Until last week, however, local law enforcement officers were relatively restrained in their reaction to the demonstrations, including the Oakland Police Department, which has had a long record of violently overreacting to protests.

All that changed on Saturday night when the Berkeley Police Department used teargas and flash-bang grenades, fired less-than-lethal beanbag rounds, and attacked demonstrators on Telegraph and Bancroft avenues with batons. A march earlier that evening down University Avenue left the windows of a Trader Joe's, a Radio Shack, and a Wells Fargo branch in shards. Chaos ensued around University and Acton Street, where officers from Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, and the Alameda County Sheriff' attempted to surround – also known as a kettle — several hundred people. As demonstrators tore down a fence on Berkeley Way to escape the trap, at least one man was struck with a shotgun-fired less-than-lethal round, breaking his kneecap. The clashes later in the evening on Telegraph Avenue involved three credentialed journalists being attacked by Berkeley Police, and left a cloud of teargas from Bancroft to Dwight Way, impacting residents of and visitors to the area.

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Stormageddon: Bay Area Storm Watch Live Updates

The storm has caused widespread power outages and roadway flooding.

by Anna Pulley
Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Underpass flooded at Ashby Ave. near I-80. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Underpass flooded at Ashby Ave. near I-80.

As predicted, a major storm has walloped the Bay Area on Thursday, leaving thousands without power, leading to BART shutdowns, a child trapped under a fallen tree in Santa Cruz, and constant pouring rain in some areas. We'll be updating as news unfolds.

 See Also:
Bay Area Schools Closed Today Due to Storm
"Storm of the Decade" Coming to Bay Area

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Updated: Undercover CHP Officer Points Gun at Journalists and Protesters in Oakland

The CHP cop was working with another CHP officer, who was wearing a bandana over his face at the time while arresting a protester.

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

  • Noah Berger/Courtesy of Reuters.

An undercover CHP officer pointed his handgun at journalists and protesters last night during an anti-police-brutality demonstration in Oakland. The photo of the gun-brandishing CHP cop, first reported by Reuters and taken by freelance photographer Noah Berger, has gone viral on social media. The CHP has yet to comment on the incident, but Oakland police are referring all inquiries about it back to the CHP.

"On the evening of December 10, 2014 the Oakland Police Department responded to a request for assistance made by an outside agency near Bay and Harrison Streets in Oakland. We have received number questions about the incident. We are referring all inquiries regarding this incident to the California Highway Patrol," said Frank L. Bonifacio of OPD in a statement.

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A California Ban on Cigarette Filters, Take Two

by Jimmy Tobias
Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Mark Stone
  • Mark Stone
Mark Stone’s big idea is back. Last week, the legislator from Monterey Bay re-introduced a bill into the state assembly that would ban single-use cigarette filters in California. Along with a growing chorus of environmental advocates and scientists, he says filtered cigarettes too often end up as toxic plastic trash that pollute waterways and harm wildlife. He wants them gone altogether. 

An earlier bill to ban cigarette filters, which Stone introduced in the legislature last January as AB 1504, died a fast death in the state assembly’s governmental organization committee. He says Big Tobacco didn’t even flinch.

“They weren’t really engaged with it,” he says, “because they knew they could kill it.”

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Thursday Must Reads: Feds Launch Investigation Into Oakland City Attorney; Protests Costing Oakland $100,000 a Day in Police Overtime

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Barbara Parker.
  • Barbara Parker.
1. Federal officials are investigating whether Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker improperly steered a legal contract to a law firm that made large campaign contributions to her 2012 campaign, Reuters reports. The legal contract went to the law firm Nossaman, which then lost a key arbitration case in which the city was forced to rehire disgraced cop Robert Roche after he had fired a teargas canister at people trying to help the injured Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen during an Occupy Oakland protest. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who was angered by the fact that OPD had to rehire Roche, ordered the probe of Parker. The city attorney has denied wrongdoing, saying the Nossaman firm was well qualified to handle the Roche case. Parker and Nossaman, however, have come under intense criticism for losing the Roche case, and the city attorney has lost numerous other cases in which OPD attempted to discipline officers accused of misconduct. Parker also has refused to turn over sensitive legal documents from the Roche case to the court, arguing that they’re protected by attorney-client privilege.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Bay Area Schools Will Be Closed Thursday Due to Storm

by Anna Pulley
Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Flooding at 81st Ave. in Oakland - NEIL GIRLING
  • Neil Girling
  • Flooding at 81st Ave. in Oakland

While the rest of the country may have "snow days," Bay Area school kids are getting a "rain day" on Thursday. Public school officials announced this afternoon that schools in San Francisco, Oakland, and Novato (more schools may be added to the list) have decided to cancel classes Thursday because of the approaching "storm of the decade."

See Also:
Storm of the Decade Coming to Bay Area

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Oakland Approves First Protected Bike Lane, Prioritizes Cyclists in Telegraph Redesign

by Sam Levin
Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 11:23 AM

Renee Rivera of Bike East Bay. - BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / file photo
  • Renee Rivera of Bike East Bay.
Though it only covers a ten-block stretch on Telegraph Avenue, the city's first-ever protected bike lane could be a catalyst in making Oakland's roadways significantly more friendly to cyclists. That's the perspective of East Bay bike advocates who scored a key victory last night when the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a Telegraph redesign proposal that includes new bike lanes on the busy thoroughfare. 

The first phase of the so-called Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Plan that council passed yesterday involves installing "parking-protected bicycle lanes" from 20th to 29th streets — meaning a bike lane that runs adjacent to the sidewalk and is separated from vehicle traffic by a lane of parking. These kinds of bike lanes already exist in San Francisco, and according to cycling advocates there, the designs have been successful in encouraging more cycling and reducing conflicts between bikes and cars. 

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The Express Is Looking for a Few Good Interns

by Anna Pulley
Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 11:04 AM


Calling all college students!

The Express is looking to hire several interns for spring 2015, specifically in the editorial, photography, videography, and web management arenas. Interns will be responsible for a broad range of newsroom tasks — including blogging, reporting, photography, database and web management, research, social media marketing, and various other projects — depending on experience and interest. 

We're looking for go-getters who know their stuff and are not shy about pitching and writing stories that matter. As an intern, you'll have opportunities to write about news, culture stories, biking, sexuality, features, music, food, and other topics we might not have even thought of, but are important in the East Bay.

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