Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010-11-25 News digest

Don’t forget “Buy Nothing Day”

"4 smart reasons to celebrate Buy Nothing Day"

"Buy Nothing Day + Carnivalesque Rebellion"

"Reverend Billy prepares for Buy Nothing Day"

San Pablo Bay Ecology:
"Marin creek being restored to bring back coho" by Peter Fimrite from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
2010-11-12 -
Sharon Farrell tromped through mud, trudged over a bridge and schlepped into a recently cleared field near Muir Beach, in Marin County, where she pointed out a gravel-filled ditch that might soon hold the secret to bringing endangered coho salmon back to the Bay Area. The meandering hole in the ground is a crucial part of a $13 million project by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to restore Redwood Creek. The 650-foot-long crevasse is the intended new route into the ocean for the creek, which flows from Mount Tamalpais, through Muir Woods, past the cozy Pelican Inn and out to Muir Beach. "Over the past century there has been a lot of agricultural use in this area, which has degraded the creek," said Farrell, the associate director of park projects, resource conservation and project implementation for the conservancy. "A levee and a road were built and they pinched the creek. Because it is so confined, the water moves very rapidly through here and there is very little backwater habitat, which the fish need." The Redwood Creek Restoration Project, which began in 2009, is an attempt to restore the 46-acre creek floodplain, historic tidal lagoon and surrounding wetlands habitat so that native fish, birds and amphibians may again thrive.
[ ... ]

"Maps tell stories of pollution, health impacts"

“How many people live in communities burdened by multiple sources of pollution?” That was a question Sarah Sharpe, director of Fresno Metro Ministry’s environmental health program, asked the approximately100 people who attended the Central California Environmental Justice Network conference last Saturday afternoon in Wasco. Across the room, hands shot up in the air. People then listed off the sources of pollution in their San Joaquín Valley communities: superfund sites, incinerators, municipal waste facilities, slaughterhouses, diesel emissions, and hazardous waste sites.
Now, a new initiative is striving to formally document those multiple pollution sources, in order to prevent further pollution in these communities. Through the San Joaquín Valley Cumulative Health Impacts Project, local environmental and health organizations are partnering with the UC Davis Center for Regional Change to map cumulative health impacts in socially vulnerable Valley communities.
The maps document the local pollution sources, and are layered with social data, like the percentage of young people without a high school degree, the percentage of people of color in the community, the percentage of people living below the federal poverty level, and the percentage of people who don’t speak English at home. The resulting maps, which were revealed Saturday at the conference, prove what many community residents already know: San Joaquín Valley communities suffer from polluted air, dirty water and unsafe unhealthy environments, and lower-income communities of color are often hit hardest.
The maps can now be used to build community’s advocacy capacity, and ultimately influence regulatory decision-making, by the San Joaquín Valley Air Pollution Control District and other entities. “This is a tool to document and support what you already know,” said Tara Zagofksy of UC Davis. She said the project utilized publicly available information about pollution and health issues, “to tell your stories in a different way.”

"Wi-Fi Makes Trees Sick, Study Says"

"Your City Council Report"

"Final vote tally confirms Supervisor Dillon’s win"
[ ... ]
While the late-counted ballots may not have had a significant effect on any local candidates, they added an element of interest to the vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. As of the last Election Night update, Proposition 19 was failing in Napa County by a margin of 14,799 votes against to 14,366 in favor.
Fast forward to Friday’s official results and the controversial measure had made up a significant amount of ground — enough to make Napa one of only 12 counties that votes in favor of the measure.
With all the ballots counted,
Napa County voters approved Prop. 19 by only 13 votes, with 23,210 in favor and 23,197 opposing.
Overall, this year’s midterm election saw almost 48,000 voters participate in the democratic process — 68 percent of Napa County’s nearly 70,000 registered voters. Tuteur noted that Napa County’s participation level was better than the statewide average, and placed the county in the top 10 in terms of voter turnout.

"New Tech students set composting goals" by Marissa Faulkner and Danielle Cole (Faulkner and Cole are seniors at New Technology High School in Napa.)
It has recently come to our attention that although New Technology High School is considered to be at a Gold level of LEED certification, the school is not sufficiently supporting this by continuing to enforce green practices in the school. One particular area of concern is the landscaping and agricultural department. To help with this, our goal is to create and maintain a school compost pile that is completely student-run. We already have compost bins that were put in place to reduce the amount of trash that New Tech produces which goes into a city landfill.
Though it benefits the earth to have a city landfill, our school does not directly benefit from it, and thus we are not doing so well in the landscaping and agricultural department. We simply send our compost off to the larger city compost, which uses non-renewable fuel in the transportation of the compost. By creating our own school compost pile, we would be able to benefit the school in many ways. We have set up two major goals for this project.
One, to eliminate the use of non-renewable energy, such as petroleum, that is used to transport the compost to the city compost center.
Two, to use the compost in the student-run garden.
We have been grateful enough to receive space for our own campus garden, but we are lacking an important piece of that garden. Composting has been shown in many ways to improve garden quality and would directly benefit our school. To meet the permission and code compliance, we will speak with our school administrators to find out if there are limitations on our projected goals.
We have been given permission from faculty and staff, so we have eliminated rejection as a concern. Our campus compost does not require a lot of materials, for it is constructed and built up through the reusable waste that goes into it. One material we know we will need is large mesh plastic. This material is very easy to obtain.
We will set up a maintenance committee to manage the compost pile, but they will not have much work to do. The compost does all the work on its own. However, we do want people to make infrequent check-ups on the compost to ensure proper usage. These people should remove the trash and in return will get school service hours.
The reason we have contacted the public is because we need your help. We need some general funds to get this program started. We are asking for a base sum of $300. This money would go toward setting up the actual compost pile area, maintaining it, and supporting the maintenance committee. We would like to thank you for taking to the time to read this letter and take our project into consideration.
We look forward to hopefully hearing from you soon.

"Fourteen security cameras monitor Napa public areas" by Alisha Wyman from "Napa Valley Register"
[ ... ]
The systems continuously record images, but they aren’t monitored by police unless an unusual event occurs. They are meant to alert dispatch whenever there is motion in areas that are closed to the public at night. Police can call up the images in their patrol cars. This is one area the department is working to fine-tune, Troendly said. The new system allows police to call up images if a crime occurs in the vicinity.
[ ... ]
The cameras were helpful when Wells Fargo Bank on Main Street was robbed in July. Police were able to place the suspect’s vehicle in the area at the time of the robbery. This is another piece of evidence prosecutors can use in court, he said.

Student Power:
"Berkeley Campus Protest Echoes Major Themes"

Gang Wars and cultural criminalization:
"Gang injunctions face federal test in OC, skepticism in Oakland"

"Do Gang Injunctions Work?"

Community Sovereignty:
"Oakland soon will issue municipal ID cards"

"Progressives jockey for 'holy grail': S.F. mayor" by Rachel Gordon from "San Francisco Chronicle" newspaper
2010-11-23 -
The solid left majority on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to do what city voters haven't done for more than two decades: put a progressive in the mayor's office. Not since the election of Art Agnos in 1987 has a progressive served as mayor, and his tenure ended four years later when he lost his re-election bid to Frank Jordan, the more conservative former police chief.
The only progressive mayor before Agnos, George Moscone, was assassinated in 1978, three years into his first term.
Now, with Mayor Gavin Newsom, a San Francisco-style moderate, set to leave office in early January to become lieutenant governor, the Board of Supervisors can appoint his replacement to finish his last year. "This is a golden opportunity for the progressives," said David Lee, a political science lecturer at San Francisco State University who heads the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. "Mayor is the holy grail of city politics. ... This is their moment." At the same time, he said, the progressives must make sure the appointment isn't perceived as a raw power grab and end up alienating voters heading into next November's mayor's race. Fall election an issue A big part of the supervisors' calculation selecting an interim mayor is whether the person will run for election next fall or whether he or she will serve as a caretaker who will leave office after a year. It will take at least six votes on the 11-member board to appoint an interim mayor, and supervisors cannot vote for themselves. If no one is selected, the board president - a post now held by David Chiu - will fill in as acting mayor while continuing to serve as supervisor. The Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss the nominating process today. Newsom is scheduled to leave the mayor's job Jan. 3.
Progressives came close to winning the mayor's race in 2003, when Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, then a Green Party member, almost beat Newsom. Gonzalez won on election day, but lost once all the absentee votes were counted.
To succeed in next year's mayoral election, progressives will have to focus more on the absentee vote and corral the factions that make up the city's political left - from labor activists and tenant advocates to those fighting for neighborhood empowerment and immigrant rights, said political scientist Rich DeLeon, author of "Left Coast City," which tracked San Francisco's progressive political movement from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. But the next mayor will be in for a rough ride, given the tough economic climate, he said. The projected deficit for the new fiscal year that starts July 1 is at least $400 million. "There's not going to be room for a lot of grand ideas and ambitious agendas," DeLeon said. "Under these conditions, people have to ask themselves what can they really gain?" A lot, said Gabriel Haaland, political director of the largest city employee union and an architect of San Francisco's progressive agenda. "My hope is that we would have a mayor who would constructively work with the Board of Supervisors," he said. Priorities include preserving essential city services, such as health care and education, he said. "The way to do that," he added, "is through raising revenue."
The tax divide The issue of taxes has been a major dividing line between San Francisco's progressives and moderates. The other issues include development, tenant-landlord, criminal justice and homeless policies. Part of the board's left flank, Supervisor David Campos is interested in the job of interim mayor and said appointing a progressive to the job would provide "an opportunity to move an agenda forward." The prospect of having a mayor and board work more collaboratively, he said, "would make the government a lot more effective." What voters want But is it what voters want? In the late 1990s, when Willie Brown appointed the majority of supervisors by filling vacancies on the board, his power at City Hall was unrivaled, and he pushed through his pro-development policies with ease.
In 2000, voters rebelled, ousting almost all of Brown's allies from the board and ushering in a new system of district supervisors and a left majority led by Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin. They followed through on their campaign promises to blunt the mayor's power. Ben Tulchin, a pollster who has worked for Newsom, said San Francisco voters have tended to elect a mayor and a Board of Supervisors that serve as counterweights to one another. "They want balance," he said.

Citizen Sovereignty:
"Investigation Conclusion By Sheriff's Department Raises Far More Questions Than Answers"

Video: L.A. Police with guns drawn on Venice organic food co-op

Stop Racial Profiling, Justice Department Warns LAPD

"No freedom from searches" letter by Karri Lewis, Lakewood (Los Angeles County) to the editor of "San Francisco Chronicle"
The full-body screening devices installed in most American airports are a huge breach of privacy and civil rights. The ensuing pat-downs examining genital areas are government-sanctioned sexual molestation.
The terrorists have won. The government has taken away our civil rights in order to "protect" citizens. The terrorists hate our freedom and are now thrilled that we are being sexually molested by our own government.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." We are officially a full-fledged police state. Civil rights are no longer a right of every citizen.

“Hollywood superheroes get helping hand from federal judge” by Robert Jablon and Thomas Watkins from "Associated Press" newswire
2010-11-18 -
LOS ANGELES — Batman, Superman and other superheroes are getting some help from the feds for their caped crusades along Hollywood Boulevard. U.S. Judge Dean Pregerson on Wednesday blocked police from cracking down on the costumed characters who perform and pose for pictures for tips along the fabled street. It may not seem like a traditional form of free speech, but their right to perform is protected under that provision of the U.S. Constitution, Pregerson wrote in the ruling that was welcomed by the performers. "If cops want to do their job correctly, go find a real criminal," Michael Jackson impersonator Sean Vezina said Thursday.
[ ... ]
The federal injunction was issued in a lawsuit brought by some of the characters. Police have not decided whether to appeal. Officers stepped up their presence after receiving numerous complaints from business owners and the public that costumed performers had made violent threats against tourists who refused to hand over cash after snapping photos, said Hollywood area police Sgt. Robert McDonald. The Chamber of Commerce disagreed with the judge's decision, noting that police are sometimes needed to protect tourists from large crowds of impersonators. Chamber President Leron Gubler said as many as 60 characters sometimes congregate before dawn in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where they crowd tourists into the street and refuse to move unless their photos are taken. "We think that the judge did not bother to take into consideration the situation on the street," Gubler said. "I would just say it's basically a license for these characters to harass the public. "We have had no one — and I repeat not one person — who has said they miss the characters," he said. Vezina, who has been a Jackson impersonator for six years, said he takes pains not to be aggressive when asking for tips. Yet on Wednesday, an officer still told him to beat it, he said.

2010-08-31 photo by Kevork Djansezian of "Getty Images": "Chris Mitchell wears a Darth Vader costume and protests with fellow costume characters Superman, The Hulk and The White Ranger at the Los Angeles City Hall in Los Angeles, Calif. "

Down we go...
“California unemployment rate again the third-highest in nation” by Alana Semuels
2010-11-23 -
At 12.4%, California again clocked the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday morning.
The state trailed only Nevada (14.2%) and Michigan (12.8%).
The nation's unemployment rate in October was 9.6%. California also added the third most jobs in the nation, 38,900. Texas added 47,900 and New York gained 40,600.
New Jersey, on the other hand, lost 37,100 jobs. Midwestern states had the lowest joblessness in October, the BLS said. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 3.8%, followed by South Dakota (4.5%) and Nebraska (4.7%). They were three of the 27 states with jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. average. California was one of five states with rates measurably higher than the U.S. rate. Many states seem to be in better economic situations than they were a year ago.
States such as Alabama, Michigan and Tennessee all saw their employment rates fall by more than a percentage point from a year ago, and other states, including Pennsylvania and Minnesota, have gained jobs compared with the year-ago period. California's unemployment rate is 0.2 percentage points higher than it was a year ago.

"California Leads in Hate Crimes"

"Blacks, prison and joblessness"

"Senate approves compensation for black farmers" by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Peter Cooney, from "Reuters" newswire
2010-11-19 -
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate unanimously approved a bill on Friday funding $1.15 billion in compensation to black farmers in a decades-old bias lawsuit that is one of the largest civil rights settlements in U.S. history. The Pigford v. Glickman case was settled in 1999 and provided that qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle claims they were denied farm loans or subjected to longer waits for loan approval because of racism. But tens of thousands of farmers missed the filing deadline. The settlement in Pigford II, reached in February, allowed those farmers to pursue their claims. The lawsuit was named for North Carolina farmer Timothy Pigford. The Senate bill, totaling $4.6 billion, includes compensation for American Indians in a class-action lawsuit against the Interior Department over the mismanagement of Indian trust fund accounts. "This is a huge, huge victory for myself and black farmers, many of whom have died waiting for justice," said John Boyd of the National Black Farmers Association. "I have been working on this thing for 26 years. I've been hearing 'no' for so very long." The measure must still be approved by the House of Representatives before the end of the "lame-duck" session of the outgoing Congress. U.S. President Barack Obama praised the Senate's move. "I urge the House to move forward with this legislation as they did earlier this year, and I look forward to signing it into law," Obama said in a statement. Boyd said Senate approval was the biggest hurdle, noting it was the 10th time the funding measure had come before the Senate. The House approved the funds in May as part of a different bill, but the Senate left for a recess without passing it. "Black farmers and Native American trust account holders have had to wait a long time for justice, but now it will finally be served," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement. "I am heartened that Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to deliver the settlement that these men and women deserve."

Weirder still...
"The sci-fi inventions that maths predicts are possible" by Richard Alleyne from "Daily Telegraph" newspaper of London, England.

"Psychic Powers Proved Real"

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