Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Must Read: Appeals Court Poised to Reinstate Gay Marriage; Legislature Blows Off Schwarzenegger

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 7:09 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A federal appeals court appeared ready yesterday to reinstate gay marriage in California, but seemed reluctant to extend same-sex marriage rights to the rest of the nation, the Chron reports. During a two-hour-plus-long, televised hearing, the three-judge panel appeared to be looking for ways to limit the scope of its ruling to just overturning Proposition 8 without taking a stand on whether gay marriage bans in other states violate the US Constitution. The panel also questioned whether gay marriage opponents had the right to appeal a lower court ruling that overturned Prop 8, but nevertheless appeared ready to rule on the merits of the case.

2. In his last act as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a proposal for drastic budget cuts yesterday that was promptly ignored by the state Legislature, the CoCo Times reports. Schwarzenegger called for ending the state’s welfare program and its childcare program for low-income families, and proposed releasing more state prisoners. But the legislative leaders quickly dismissed the proposals and said they will wait until Governor-elect Jerry Brown takes office to solve the state’s budget problems.

3. The largest wind-power company at Altamont Pass in the East Bay has agreed to replace thousands of its aging turbines to cut down on bird deaths, the Chron reports. As part of a settlement agreement with environmental groups, NextEra Energy Resources either will swap out 2,400 turbines or will stop using its old ones, which have shredding birds by the thousands. The company also will pay $2.5 million for raptor habitat restoration.

4. A University of California panel is recommending that UC schools accept more out-of-state students, while offering more three-year-degree programs and online classes to raise revenues and cut costs, the Chron and CoCo Times report. But the panel’s recommendations were immediately decried by critics who contend it’s a model for privatization.

5. UC Berkeley police have teamed up with the city of Berkeley police department in an effort to curb rowdy frat parties, the Chron reports. The so-called “party patrol” features a UC Berkeley officer partnered with a Berkeley city cop, patrolling the areas around campus to deal with out-of-control partiers.

6. Berkeley’s Iceland may turn into a sporting goods store under a proposal that will go before the city council tonight, the Chron reports. Iceland closed four years ago, and preservationists have been unable to raise the funds needed to restore the landmark Art-Deco building, which has turned into an eyesore. But San Francisco retailer Sports Basement as expressed interest in taking over Iceland and the council appears ready to give it the preliminary go-ahead.

7. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who recently made international headlines for publishing thousands of confidential US State Department cables, was arrested in Great Britain yesterday on charges of sexually assaulting two Swedish women, AP reports. Assange maintains he’s innocent and says the charges are politically motivated.

8. And Google introduced its new smartphone, the Nexus S, on the same day that Consumer Reports rated AT&T, service provider for the iPhone, as the worst in the industry.

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