Delta Tunnel Draft Environmental Impact Report Public Comment Session

Delta Tunnel Draft Environmental Impact Report Public Comment Session

Tuesday, December 6
4 PM to 5:30 PM

Willow Ballroom
10724 CA 160, Hood CA 95639

The Delta Legislative Caucus and Delta Counties Coalition are hosting an in-person session in the Delta to collect comments on the Delta Conveyance Project (also known as the Delta Tunnel) Draft Environmental Impact Report. The session will be hosted at the Willow Ballroom in the community of Hood.

Get More Information on the Delta Tunnel Comment Session
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Giving Tuesday – November 29

GivingTuesday reimagines a world built upon shared humanity and generosity.

Our global network collaborates year-round to inspire generosity around the world, with a common mission to build a world where generosity is part of everyday life.

Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts, and everyone has something to give.

How to Participate in GivingTuesday

There are so many different ways to show generosity on GivingTuesday. Be sure to share how you’re giving with the hashtag #GivingTuesday and inspire others!

GivingTuesday

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Freezing temperatures and rain: Here’s the weather the Bay Area can expect this week

From the San Francisco Chronicle

The Bay Area work week will start with chilly temperatures and gusty winds as a cold front passes through on Monday, bringing a slight chance of precipitation, with more rain and even colder mornings expected later in the week. The gusty winds could make driving difficult at times, especially for taller vehicles and travel across bridges. The cold front is part of a low pressure system that will give the Sierra Mountains a chance of snow on Monday, and a slight chance of showers for mountainous regions in the North Bay and across the coast in Sonoma County. After the front moves southeast through the Bay Area, even colder air will move into the region as the skies clear, pushing temperatures into freezing overnight.

Cold air surges south

While Monday morning will start off cold, the next several mornings will be even colder and close to the freezing mark. Why? The winds that will come with the cold front will decrease Monday night and the air will be drier and skies clearer making the thermometer dip further. Clouds act like a blanket, keeping the warm air in place and since the skies will be clear, there will be nothing holding in the warmth.

North Bay valleys, like Petaluma Valley and Napa Valley, have the potential to get close to the freezing point during the early morning on Tuesday and Wednesday. Inland, including the Amador Valley and the Ygnacio Valley, will also be chilly, with lows dropping to the mid-30s, into Tuesday morning and then again into Wednesday morning.

Monday Breakdown

• San Francisco: The morning will start off chilly, with a low in the upper 40s, under mostly clear skies, with gusty onshore winds coming in the northwest. Wind speeds are expected to be between 15-25 mph, with gusts to 30 mph, starting late morning around 10 a.m. Skies will stay mostly sunny until the early afternoon, with any clouds dissipating later in the day. San Francisco will be one degree cooler than average, with highs at 60 degrees. San Francisco averages 61 degrees for this time of year. Similar temperatures can be found in Bernal Heights, Excelsior and Hunter’s Point. The western half of San Francisco county, from Presidio to Lake Merced, highs will reach the mid to upper 50s.

• Pacific Coast and Peninsula: There will be a slight chance of showers across the Sonoma County coastline. Up to one-hundreth of an inch of rain is possible, with skies starting off a little cloudy and becoming mostly sunny by the afternoon. Along Highway 1 from Westlake to Moss Beach, highs will reach the mid-50s with mostly sunny skies. Winds across the coastline will be gusty, up to 30 mph for most of the day, so it could make the temperature feel colder than what it actually is. From Pillar Point to Half Moon Bay, highs will reach the mid to upper 50s. Across the Marin Coast, from Dillon Beach to Tomales Bay and from Bolinas Lagoon to Kirby Cove highs will reach the lower to mid-50s. Along the Sonoma Coast, from Shell Beach to Bodega Bay, highs will reach the lower 50s.

The brisk conditions will also be possible across the Peninsula. Winds could be gusty at times up to 20-25 mph. South San Francisco to North Fair Oaks highs will top off at 60 degrees. The cooler spot in the region will be in San Bruno, where highs could reach the mid-50s. Portola Valley and Redwood City will be slightly higher, in the lower 60s.

• North Bay: The morning will start off with a low near 40 degrees and mostly cloudy skies, turning sunny by late morning and lasting the rest of the afternoon. Winds will pick up from the northwest starting after lunchtime, until 6 pm. From Santa Rosa to Petaluma and Sonoma highs will top off at 60 degrees. Sears Point will reach the upper 50s. In Napa county, Napa and towns along the Silverado Trail will reach the upper 50s. For both of these valleys, prepare for the freezing temperatures to return overnight into Tuesday morning.

In Marin county, Novato to San Rafeal will reach the lower 60s. Mill Valley will be slightly lower, in the upper 50s. Across the Tiburon Peninsula and Belvedere Island, highs will reach the lower 60s. Marin City and Sausalito will be among the cooler spots with highs in the mid-50s. Most of Solano County, like Benicia, Vallejo, and Fairfield will reach the lower 60s. Winds will be gusty up to 20 mph from the northwest, closer to the Carquinez Strait. Along Interstate 80 from Cordelia to Fairfield, it will be breezy at times.

• East Bay: The morning will start off cool closer to the Bay shoreline with lows in the upper 40s. The colder morning spots will be inland, in San Ramon Valley with lows in the lower 40s. Skies will be mainly sunny and conditions will be breezy with southwest wind gusts up to 20 mph. Cities along the Eastshore Freeway, like Rodeo, Richmond and Emeryville, temperatures will hit highs in the upper 50s. Cities and towns along the Nimitz Freeway, like Oakland to Fremont, highs will range from the upper 50s to near 60 degrees. Newark will be slightly cooler with a high in the mid-50s. Most inland cities will be slightly higher, like Walnut Creek to Danville, highs will reach the lower 60s. On the Highway 4 corridor, from Martinez to Pittsburg, highs will be similar, in the lower 60s. It will be slightly cooler for Dublin, Asco and Pleasanton, where highs will make it to the upper 50s. Interior spots need to prepare for mid-30s overnight into Tuesday morning.

• South Bay and Santa Cruz: The morning will start off with lows in the lower 40s. Skies will be partly cloudy for half of the day, starting in the morning to midday. By the late afternoon the region will become mostly sunny. The Santa Clara Valley will be less windy compared to the rest of the Bay Area with a breeze from the northwest up to 15 mph, with temperatures in the upper 50s. San Jose will see similar conditions. Just north in Milpitas and due east, Alum Rock and Evergreen will reach the same temperatures. The western half of Santa Clara county, like Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Los Altos, highs will reach the upper 50s. Highs will be slightly higher for Almaden Valley and Cambrian Park, near 60 degrees.

Higher elevation spots in the Santa Cruz mountains have a slight chance of showers during the day. Winds will be moderate at times with speeds between 10-20 mph. Scotts Valley will reach the upper 50s by the afternoon. The cooler spot will be Watsonville, with highs in the mid-50s. Along State Route 9 from Boulder Creek to Felton, highs will range between the upper 50s to lower 60s. Santa Cruz will top off at 60 degrees, but it could feel colder at times with the wind.

On tap this week

After the colder weather moves in, the next weather system brings a chance of rain starting Wednesday night, lasting until Friday morning. The American weather model (GFS – Global Forecast System) is showing impressive potential rainfall totals.

There will be a brief break on Friday during the day, but another system sets up for the weekend, moving in on Saturday morning and out of the Bay Area that night. The timing and how much rain we could receive is still up in the air, but as we get closer, The Weather Wonks will keep you informed of its impacts.

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Oakleigh’s Stuffed Animal Sleepover December 8th

Help welcome our elf, Oakleigh, by

joining us for a stuffed animal and elf sleepover at the Recreation Center on Thursday, December 8th. Bring your elves and stuffed animals for a fun craft & snack from 4PM to 5PM!

Leave your elves and stuffed animals overnight as they have a fun sleepover that includes:

❄️ Fun & Games

🎅 Holiday Training from Santa

🍪 Baking Cookies

📚 Reading a Story

& More!

Families who participate will be sent photos of their elves/stuffed animals the next day via email. Pick-up of elves and stuffed animals will be on Friday, December 9th from 8AM

to 5PM. Pre-registration is required.

Click here to buy tickets.

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Sunday Reading – 11/27/2022

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Doomsday scenario for sinking Bay Area transit: No weekend BART, bus lines cancelled or a taxpayer bailout. – In an apocalyptic vision of Bay Area public transit, BART cancels its weekend service and shutters nine stations just to keep the lights on elsewhere. Trains run once an hour, instead of every 15 minutes. San Francisco’s Muni buses crawl around on life-support, and the East Bay’s AC Transit eliminates “numerous local lines.” Ferry service across the bay is halved.

This is not a doomsday fantasy, conjured up on a paper napkin. These are real scenarios drafted by the region’s transit agencies in a series of federally mandated planning documents obtained through a public records request by the Bay Area News Group. The grim projections come as the region’s commuter trains, buses and boats struggle to recover from massive ridership declines during the COVID pandemic and burn through the remaining federal relief funds that have helped keep them operating.

“People don’t understand the transit system is so close to collapse,” said Ian Griffiths, who heads Seamless Bay Area, a transit advocacy group. “They’re on the brink.”

How bad could it get? A closer look at the documents sent by each agency to the region’s umbrella transit group, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, provide a rare regionwide accounting of what service cuts could look like under dire fiscal outlooks. This is what is possible, they say, unless Bay Area taxpayers and state leaders in Sacramento pony up more money to revive the ailing system.

  • BART: Terminating two of five train lines – Red and Green – meaning no more direct trains from Richmond and Berryessa to San Francisco.
  • Caltrain: Slashing service amid a $50 million deficit, even as its $2.4 billion electrified trains hit the rails.
  • AC Transit: “Numerous local lines” reduced or fully discontinued.
  • Ferries: Major midday and weekend services slashed across the bay. Service expansions to Berkeley, Redwood City and Mission Bay halted.
  • Muni: Entire network returns to pandemic-era levels with frequency reductions starting on bus lines 2, 6 and 21

The scenarios – akin to transit planning war games – also provide a window into alternative versions of the Bay Area’s post-pandemic future.

In the most optimistic scenario, Bay Area commuters return to pack trains and buses every day. Connections are fast and reliable as city centers and tech campuses hum with life. But a darker picture is emerging as downtown San Francisco and Silicon Valley slog through growing tech layoffs and warning signs flash of an impending recession. Read More > in The Mercury News

California’s economic double whammy: tech, housing losses mount – Two pillars of California’s economy – technology and real estate – are looking wobbly, at best.

Think about the layoff headlines of recent days affecting California companies.

Twitter cuts 3,700 workers.” Billionaire Elon Musk slashed staffing worldwide after he bought the San Francisco-based social media giant and found it in poor financial shape. On Thursday he told the staff a bankruptcy is possible, Bloomberg reported.

Meta cutting 11,000 workers.” Fellow billionaire and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced even more layoffs (not just in California) at the Menlo Park-based owner of Facebook. He admitted he misread advertising demand and misplayed a huge bet on his new-fangled “metaverse” communities.

Meanwhile, news swirls about other tech pullbacks or hiring freezes. There was a discouraging forecast from Cupertino’s tech-titan, Apple. And Mountain View-based Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube, is cutting hiring plans by half.

The tech tumble follows an awful summer for California housing.

Soaring mortgage rates scared off house hunters. Sales collapsed to lows last seen during the Great Recession. Prices weakened.

No deals, no loans. Thus, Orange County-based LoanDepot says it’s trimming jobs, too. The mortgage-maker, which started the year with 11,300 workers nationwide, had 8,500 employees in September and plans to cut to as low as 6,500.

How deeply will technology and housing pain cut into California’s economy?

It’s not easy to quantify. Industry impact studies suggest tech and housing represent roughly one-third of all business activity. Read More > in The Orange County Register

Four reasons why so many tech companies are doing mass layoffs – The wave of tech layoffs at Bay Area companies in the past month have affected more than 24,000 workers globally, levels of downsizing not seen since the early part of the pandemic. The once-booming job market has cooled, and there are fewer opportunities as companies such as Meta, Twitter and Oracle seek to cut costs.

The tech sector is facing challenges that are also being felt by other industries, but the industry’s trajectory during the pandemic has made it especially vulnerable to downsizings. Here are the main reasons the tech sector has been shrinking:

Overhiring during the pandemic: Some of the biggest layoff rounds have come at companies that have grown at unprecedented rates during the last three years. They’re now scaling back as business has slumped….

Rising interest rates and high inflation: The Federal Reserve’s multiple rounds of interest rate increases is a major shock to venture capital funding, the lifeblood of tech startups. Venture capital firms are generally less attractive to outside investors as interest rates rise, as investment consultant firm Callan noted recently.

Dropping advertising spending: Ads are what make most of Google’s search and YouTube services, and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, free to use. A continued drop in spending is an ominous sign for the industry. In October, U.S. ad spending fell 3.2% compared with the previous year, the fifth straight month of declines, according to a MediaPost tracker.

Crypto crash: The huge collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which was once valued at $32 billion, has been tech’s biggest meltdown in years. It’s unclear how many FTX employees will be affected, but other startups in the sector have also downsized…. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Feds approve $1 billion to keep Diablo Canyon open – California’s last nuclear power plant, which provides about 10% of the state’s electricity, just took a big step toward staying open past its planned 2025 closure date: The U.S. Department of Energy announced Monday that PG&E, the operator of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, was awarded a grant of about $1.1 billion to help keep the facility open. The move comes about two months after a controversial, last-minute process that culminated in Newsom and state lawmakers authorizing a loan of as much as $1.4 billion for PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon open until 2030 to help stabilize California’s fragile energy grid. Anti-nuclear advocates opposed the action, noting that the aging facility near San Luis Obispo is located close to earthquake fault lines and could pose safety issues.

  • PG&E said in a statement it will use the federal money to pay back the loan and “lower costs for customers” if the plant’s operating license is extended, which still requires additional federal and state approvals. It also said the plant has “an excellent safe operating record and is subject to rigorous regulatory oversight.”
  • Newsom said in a statement“This investment creates a path forward for a limited-term extension of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant to support reliability statewide and provide an onramp for more clean energy projects to come online.”
  • Laura Deehan, state director of Environment California Research & Policy Center, said in a statement: “It’s disappointing to see the federal government throw PG&E more than a billion in taxpayer dollars for an outdated and potentially dangerous power source, when cleaner, safer and more affordable energy solutions exist. … California should turn a new leaf and lean into building the electric system of the future.” Read More > at CalMatters

A Work-From-Home Culture Takes Root in California – Even as pandemic lockdowns fade into memory, covid-19 has transformed California’s workplace culture in ways researchers say will reverberate well beyond 2022.

According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, working from home for some portion of the week has become the new normal for a large segment of Californians. The data shows high-income employees with college degrees are more likely to have access to this hybrid work model, while lower-income employees stay the course with on-site responsibilities and daily commutes.

In addition, researchers say the shift will ripple across the broader economy in ways big and small, as more employees have the flexibility to live farther from a job site and as workplace traditions like lunch outings and bar nights fade or evolve.

The U.S. Census Bureau interviewed roughly 260,000 Americans from June through October, including about 20,000 Californians, as part of a wide-ranging questionnaire called the Household Pulse Survey. Surveyors asked dozens of questions about pandemic-era lifestyle changes, including some about working from home.

The survey found that nearly 20% of California adults lived in households in which at least one person had telecommuted or worked from home five days or more in the previous week. About 33% of California adults lived in households in which someone had worked from home at least one day the previous week.

Nationwide, the survey found that almost 30% of adults lived in households in which at least one person worked from home for some portion of the previous week. About 16% lived in households in which someone worked from home at least five days the previous week. Read More > at California Healthline

Whales off California coast delay commercial crab season – For the fourth year in a row, the start of the commercial Dungeness crab season in California will be delayed to protect humpback whales from becoming entangled in trap and buoy lines, it was announced Monday.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it was delaying the start of the commercial season, which traditionally begins Nov. 15, until further notice for waters between the Mendocino county line and the border with Mexico.

Authorities first announced a delay late last month. The situation will be reassessed on or before Dec. 7 and if conditions allow commercial crabbing could be permitted on Dec. 16, the department said.

The crab industry is one of California’s major fisheries and the shellfish is especially popular around the holidays, said Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist at the nonprofit conservation group Oceana. Read More > in the Associated Press

American Fitness Has National Security Implications. It’s Time to Take It More Seriously. – Fiscal year 2023 is projected to be the most difficult year for military recruiting since the inception of the all-volunteer force in 1973. Every branch of the military is reporting extreme challenges in recruiting enough volunteers to fill their ranks. Not only are fewer people volunteering, but there are fewer eligible Americans to recruit as the prevalence of obesity grows and disqualifies an ever-increasing number from military service.

The Army is having the worst time of it. By the end of the 2022 fiscal year on September 30, the Army reported a 25% shortfall in their desired numbers—about 15,000 soldiers short. While the other services just barely met their recruitment goals, they are facing similar troubles that have set them behind for the coming year.

Where usually the Marine Corps would have as much as 50% of its recruiting goal already satisfied, officials say they have only a little over 30%. The Air Force has roughly 10% where it would normally see 25%, and the Navy sits at an equally meager 10%.

In the midst of this building crisis, there has been a swirl of discussion around how to incentivize more Americans to join the military. That is an important discussion, but often overlooked is the question of how to increase the percentage of Americans even qualified to join the military at all.

Since 2014, studies have shown that only a meager 29% of Americans were qualified to serve without being granted a waiver for one of the standards for entry into service. In a Senate hearing earlier this year, Army Chief of Staff General James McConville reported that number has now fallen to just 23%. Read More > at The Daily Signal

US Consumers Are Doing Exactly What They Did Just Prior To The Crash Of 2008We never seem to learn from our mistakes.  Just before the financial markets crashed and the economy plunged into a horrifying recession in 2008, U.S. consumers went on a debt binge of epic proportions.  Mortgage debt, auto loan debt and credit card debt all skyrocketed, and so when the economy finally crashed all of a sudden there were millions of Americans drowning in bills that they were unable to pay.  Well, now it is happening again.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, during the third quarter of 2022 household debt increased at the fastest pace that we have seen since the first quarter of 2008

Households added $351 billion in overall debt last quarter, taking the total to $16.5 trillion, according to data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Tuesday. That’s an increase of 8.3% from a year earlier, the most since a 9.1% jump in the first quarter of 2008. The debt figures aren’t adjusted for inflation.

As I have been warning my readers for years, you want to have as little debt as possible when economic conditions get really bad.

Unfortunately, even though everyone can see that economic activity is slowing down all around us, consumers are piling on debt at a stunning pace. Read More > at ZeroHedge

Amazon Alexa is a “colossal failure,” on pace to lose $10 billion this year – Amazon is going through the biggest layoffs in the company’s history right now, with a plan to eliminate some 10,000 jobs. One of the areas hit hardest is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant unit, which is apparently falling out of favor at the e-commerce giant. That’s according to a report from Business Insider, which details “the swift downfall of the voice assistant and Amazon’s larger hardware division.”

Alexa has been around for 10 years and has been a trailblazing voice assistant that was copied quite a bit by Google and Apple. Alexa never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream, though, so Alexa doesn’t really make any money. The Alexa division is part of the “Worldwide Digital” group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with “the vast majority” of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year. It sounds like Amazon is tired of burning through all that cash. Read More > at ars TECHNICA

The search has started for a “crashed alien spaceship” off the coast of Australia. – Astrophysicist Avi Loeb believes that a meteor from outside our solar system that splashed down in 2014 is actually extraterrestrial technology.

The scientist has been fully funded for a £1.9 million mission to find the “UFO” that is lying at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Loeb said: “Our discovery of an interstellar meteor heralds a new research frontier. The fundamental question is whether any interstellar meteor might indicate a composition that is unambiguously artificial in origin.

“Better still, perhaps some technological components would survive the impact.”

NASA says that the unidentified meteor soared through the sky at more than 100,000 miles an hour before hitting Earth near Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Loeb said: “The material is tougher than iron. The question is whether it’s just an unusual rock or perhaps a spacecraft.” Read More > at MSN

Oil prices boomerang on OPEC headlines – Oil prices whipsawed Monday as news about what the OPEC oil price cartel would decide at its meeting next month sent traders scurrying.

Driving the news: A story in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting that OPEC was considering a 500,000 barrel-a-day increase in production, jolted the crude oil markets at around 9 am ET.

U.S. benchmark crude oil prices fell more than 5% in response, to about $75 a barrel.

Context: The news came as a surprise to oil industry observers, especially in light of the fact that just last month, OPEC and its petro-ally Russia announced plans to cut oil production sharply in an effort to prop up prices.

But, but, but: A statement from Saudi Arabian Authorities later in the day seemed to knock down the Journal’s reporting.

What they’re saying: “The current cut of 2 million barrels per day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said in a statement issued by the Saudi Press Agency.

  • Oil prices promptly reversed course and surged, briefly going positive before ending the day down less than half a percentage point, at just under $80 a barrel. (They’re up another 1% Tuesday morning to about $81.) Read More > at Axios

What If the Dinosaurs Hadn’t Gone Extinct? – Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid hit the Earth with the force of 10 billion atomic bombs and changed the course of evolution. The skies darkened and plants stopped photosynthesising. The plants died, then the animals that fed on them. The food chain collapsed. Over 90% of all species vanished. When the dust settled, all dinosaurs except a handful of birds had gone extinct.

But this catastrophic event made human evolution possible. The surviving mammals flourished, including little proto-primates that would evolve into us.

Imagine the asteroid had missed, and dinosaurs survived. Picture highly evolved raptors planting their flag on the moon. Dinosaur scientists, discovering relativity, or discussing a hypothetical world in which, incredibly, mammals took over the Earth.

This might sound like bad science fiction, but it gets at some deep, philosophical questions about evolution. Is humanity just here by chance, or is the evolution of intelligent tool-users inevitable?

Brains, tools, language and big social groups make us the planet’s dominant species. There are 8 billion Homo sapiens on seven continents. By weight, there are more humans than all wild animals.

We’ve modified half of Earth’s land to feed ourselves. You could argue creatures like humans were bound to evolve. Read More > at Real Clear Science

The science on remote schooling is now clear. Here’s who it hurt most. – Academic progress for American children plunged during the coronavirus pandemic. Now a growing body of research shows who was hurt the most, both confirming worst fears and adding some new ones.

Students who learned from home fared worse than those in classrooms, offering substantial evidence for one side of a hot political debate. High-poverty schools did worse than those filled with middle class and affluent kids, as many worried. And in a more surprising finding, older students, who have the least amount of time to make up losses, are recovering much more slowly from setbacks than younger children.

Most school districts saw declines, but the magnitude varied.

Those are the findings from more than a half-dozen studies published in recent months examining the pandemic’s toll on academic achievement. Across-the-board, they find big drops between spring 2019, before the pandemic hit, and spring 2021, one year in.

Students made more progress last year, but it was nowhere near enough to make up for the losses already sustained. Read More > in The Washington Post

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Shop Oakley E-Gift Card Program

It’s the start of the holiday shopping season, and today, the City of Oakley is proud to relaunch an exciting Shop Oakley incentive program to support small businesses by encouraging residents to shop locally over fall & winter holiday season.

Purchasers who buy a $50 gift card through Shop Oakley page receive a free $50 e-gift card in return, which can be used for purchases at any participating business. The program will run until the allotted $100,000 is distributed.

The e-gift cards can be purchased on the City of Oakley’s Yiftee page, which includes a list of participating merchants.

The cards purchased can be redeemed at any participating Oakley business. The digital gift cards allow customers to split the original and bonus portions to keep for themselves or gift to others via text or email.

Gift card holders are encouraged to check back frequently to see the expanding merchant list.

Click here to buy and learn more. 

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Shop Local – Small Business Saturday, November 26

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday (SBS) is a staple in the post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend. For the past 12 years, Small Business Saturday has been the perfect way for small businesses to generate revenue and get back in touch with their communities. And, Small Business Saturday 2022 is no exception.

Small Business Saturday, November 26, will be the official kickoff for small businesses’ year-end run. They’ve been challenged throughout the year by inflation, the need to raise prices and continuing supply-chain issues.

They’ve also struggled with ongoing difficulties in hiring and retaining optimum staffing levels, critical to providing the enhanced customer service that sets independent retailers apart from big retailers.

Originally conceived and promoted by American Express back in 2010, Small Business Saturday last year alone attracted more than 88 million people to “shop small.” But what exactly are the benefits of shopping small, and why should you do it on Small Business Saturday, and every day? Here are some huge reasons:

1. Small businesses give back (more) to your community

When you support a local business, you’re also supporting your town, city, and neighborhood. Business pay sales taxes to the city and county the business is located in. Stray to a big box business elsewhere and that money isn’t benefiting your community at all. Plus, that tax money is used to support public schools, parks, roads, and sidewalks, as well as fund public service workers, like firefighters.

What’s more, according to Civic Economics, “on average, 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores.”

2. Small businesses make a major economic impact 

As mentioned above, more than half of the U.S.’s jobs since 1995 were created by small businesses. And according to the SBA, since 1990, big businesses eliminated 4 million jobs, while small businesses added 8 million jobs. The more you shop at a local store, the more potential job opportunities you could help them provide.

3. Small businesses provide better customer service 

Small business owners strive to survive and one of the biggest advantages they have over large retailers is the ability to provide more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service.

4. Small businesses provide greater access to product diversity  

Small businesses have just as much access to vendors (who also determine pricing, not stores) that big box businesses do. If a small business doesn’t have the products you want or need, ask them – they’re also usually much more receptive and willing to order them for you.

5. Small businesses create a sense of community 

You’re much more likely to get to know a small business owner in your neighborhood. According to a study conducted by Trulia and noted in Forbes, the second most popular desire amongst urbanites is a stronger sense of community – number one being more local restaurants.

6. You’re going to feel good

Would you rather feel the pang of guilt buying so-so coffee from Starbucks or a lifeless burger at McDonalds, or be entirely satisfied with your latte made with love from Sextant Coffee Roasters, and a bangin’ burger from V Cafe?

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A Spare the Air Alert is in effect, Friday, November 25, for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Spare the Air Alert is in effect, Friday, November 25, for the San Francisco Bay Area.

It is illegal for Bay Area residents and businesses to burn wood or manufactured firelogs in fireplaces, woodstoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire pits, or any other wood burning devices.

Concentrations of particulate matter pollution are forecast to be unhealthy. High levels of particulate matter pollution are harmful to breathe, especially for young children, seniors and those with respiratory and heart conditions. Protect your health by staying indoors and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities.                     

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How To Cook a Turkey

Can you leave turkey out overnight to thaw?

Turkey, which, if left out, will take hours to thaw completely. If you thaw raw meat at room temperature for two hours or more, it will be subject to rapid bacteria growth. Is thawing a turkey at room temperature a good idea? Nope.

What happens if turkey isn’t completely thawed?

It’s perfectly safe to cook a frozen or partially frozen turkey — you just need to allow some extra cooking time. Estimate 50 percent longer cooking time for a completely frozen turkey and around 25 percent longer for a partially frozen turkey.

How do you know when your turkey is completely thawed?

Use a probe thermometer to test both the breast and the thighs; they should be at least 32°F to 40°F, or about the same temperature as your fridge. Be sure to clean your probe thermometer after inserting it in the raw turkey!

Do you leave the plastic ring on the turkey?

Speaking of plastic, turkeys usually come with a plastic or metal crimp, called a hock lock, holding the legs together at the back. You can leave it on or take it off; the legs may cook more evenly without it. Rinse the turkey thoroughly in cold water, inside and out.

How long to cook a turkey at 350°:

  1. 8–12 lb.: 1¾–3 hours.
  2. 12–14 lb.: 3–3¼ hours.
  3. 15–16 lb.: 3½–3¾ hours.
  4. 18–20 lb.: 4–4¼ hours.
  5. 21–22 lb.: 4½–4¾ hours.

Roast the turkey uncovered at a temperature ranging from 325°F to 350°F. Higher temperatures may cause the meat to dry out, but this is preferable to temperatures that are too low which may not allow the interior of the turkey to cook to a safe temperature.

Should I cover my turkey with foil while cooking?

We’ve found that covering a turkey in foil yields much moister results than roasting it without foil, and we favor simply covering up the breast to even out cooking time. Some people swear that roasting a turkey breast-side down and flipping it halfway through achieves the same results as a foil covered breast.

Should you put water in turkey roasting pan?

Add about a half-inch of liquid (water or stock) to the roasting pan. This will keep the oven moist, and the turkey juicy. This aromatic liquid can be used to baste the turkey while it cooks (there is a debate whether basting does anything, but it’s part of the tradition).

How often should I baste my turkey?

Most recipes will tell you to baste your turkey every thirty minutes. But our rule of thumb is actually every forty minutes, and here’s why. You don’t want to open the oven too many times, or else the whole bird will take much long to cook, and that’s a huge inconvenience.

How do you prepare a turkey the night before?

Leaving your bird uncovered in the fridge for 8-10 hours before cooking dries out the skin, which will give it that beautifully browned, extra-crispy exterior that we all dream about.

Don’t butter your bird

Placing butter under the skin won’t make the meat juicier, though it might help the skin brown faster. However, butter is about 17 percent water, and it will make your bird splotchy, says López-Alt. Instead, rub the skin with vegetable oil before you roast.

How long before cooking should I take turkey out of fridge?

Get your turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it. You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven. Always preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking your turkey. Place a trivet of veggies and onions in the bottom of the tray to help make an epic gravy with all the juices.

Should I cook the turkey on a rack or directly on the pan?

Whether we’re talking a 20-pound turkey, a fryer chicken, or even something like a leg of lamb, a rack helps lift the roast away from direct heat of the pan and allows hot air to circulate underneath. The roast cooks more evenly and tends to develop a crispier skin.

Should you poke holes in turkey before cooking?

Poke holes all over the turkey, the legs, wings, breast and butt. 

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Turkey Facts

Here are some top facts about turkeys that you may not know –

  • Around 46 million turkeys are consumed in America on Thanksgiving Day.
  • The average person in the United States will eat 15 pounds of turkey this year.
  • The average weight of a turkey bought for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
  • A turkey egg is 50% bigger than an egg from a chicken.
  • A turkey can run up to 25 mph and can hit 55 mph during flight.
  • Commercially raised turkeys are unable to fly.
  • The tradition of breaking the wishbone or “furcula”, dates back to the the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization. They they thought the birds had divine powers and and they made wishes upon the furcula. The ancient Romans later adopted this custom.
  • The record for the heaviest turkey to date is 86 pounds, around the size of a big dog.
  • On average, a 15 pound turkey will yield 70% light meat and 30% dark meat.
  • Turkey has more protein than beef or chicken.
  • Upon maturity, a turkey will have an average of 3,500 feathers.
  • The turkey gobble sound can be heard from over a mile away by the human ear.
  • Turkeys cannot see very well at night or in the dark.
  • It takes around 75 pounds of feed to rear a 30 pound turkey.
  • A 16 week old turkey is called a “fryer”, a “roaster” will be between 5 and 7 months old, a yearling is one year old, and a 15 month turkey or older is called mature.
  • Did the Pilgrims Eat Turkey? – There is a lot of controversy around this question, and the truth is that no one really knows. Wild turkey was plentiful, so the Pilgrims may have eaten it at their Thanksgiving feast, but the Pilgrims dined mostly on venison and seafood.
  • Do They Eat Turkey in Turkey? – The short answer is no, despite the fact that turkeys were, in fact, named after Turkey. Prior to the Pilgrims arriving in the Americas, the Turkish were importing large guinea fowl from Madagascar. The English didn’t know what to call these birds, so they started calling them “turkeys” after the Turkish that were importing them. 
  • Wild turkeys sleep in trees
  • Among the more surprising facts about turkeys is that they have three-times better vision than humans. They can also see in color, and their eyesight covers 270 degrees.
  • One can tell a turkey’s gender by their poop shape. Female droppings have a spiral shape while those of males are ‘J’ shaped.
  • Turkeys swallow stones to aid digestion. Turkeys don’t have teeth, so they swallow small stones to help grind up food in their first stomach—the gizzard. Bonus fact: turkeys have two stomachs. 
  • Only male turkeys, or toms, can make a call known as a “gobble,” and they mostly do it in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts the hens. Wild turkeys gobble when they’re surprised by loud sounds and when they settle in for the night. The wild turkey can make at least 30 different calls!
  • The loose red skin attached to the underside of a turkey’s beak is called a wattle. When the male turkey is excited, especially during mating season, the wattle turns a scarlet red. The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler’s beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited.
  • A baby turkey is called a poult, chick, or even turklette. An adult male turkey is called a tom and a female is a hen.
  • The average life span of a wild turkey is three or four years.
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The Weather has Cooled Ushering in Rat and Mouse Season

Recently, a Contra Costa County resident recounted the story of taking her car to the mechanic for an oil change, only for the mechanic to discover a rat’s nest under the hood. After the resident’s initial surprise, the mechanic explained that he has seen this before, typically when the weather cools and rats look for warmth, which they can find on a warm engine.

Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
House Mouse (Mus musculus)

A few years ago, another resident shared how much she paid to repair the damaged wiring in her car that had been caused by a rat seeking warmth in her car that then gnawed on the wiring and cables.

These stories are not unusual because rats and mice are common in Contra Costa County. The key is to take the following steps to reduce the risk of damage and disease from rats and mice on your property.

Remove Food

Rats and mice can be attracted to a yard by the availability of food. The first step to keep rats and mice from being attracted to your home is to remove potential food sources.

  • Pick up fallen fruit and nuts and harvest mature fruit and nuts from trees as soon as possible. This is especially important when the fruit is citrus or berries.
  • Store grass seed and bird seed in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Also, store pet food in metal containers with tight-fitting lids, and be sure to bring pet bowls indoors before nightfall.

Remove Shelter

Once a rat or mouse has found a source of food on a property, they are more likely to look around for shelter. After removing food options, it’s time to remove potential sources of shelter.

  • Rats and mice can live in dense vegetation, particularly types of ivy. Remove or trim dense vegetation.
  • Also, trim climbing vegetation four feet from a roof, walls, fences, utility poles, and trees.
  • Store wood and lumber piles at least 12 inches above the ground and 18 inches away from any structure.
  • Keep shed doors closed at night and install wire mesh on the base of the shed to prevent access under the shed.

When rats and mice find food or shelter they have more time on your property to look for entry into your home. Find more information here on where rats and mice commonly enter homes and what to do about it.

Reduce the Risk of Leptospirosis

Keeping rats and mice out of your home is important because they can spread bacteria and viruses through their waste products and nesting materials which can make people and pets sick. Rats and mice are known to transmit the bacterium that causes leptospirosis through contamination of water sources. “Leptospirosis is endemic in the Bay Area, and the threat it poses is real,” said Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM, Medical Director of San Bruno Pet Hospital.

Dr. Barchas explains the bacterium is spread when an infected animal urinates in or near a water source, contaminating the water source. When a rat or mouse gets into a home, it can crawl and gnaw its way into food cabinets and appliances, contaminating indoor food and water sources and putting people at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people can also be exposed to the bacterium that causes leptospirosis outdoors while engaging in activities that involve water, even wet or flooded soil because the bacterium can enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth, or abrasions in the skin. The CDC says the majority of people who become sick experience mild flu-like symptoms; however, up to 10 percent of people who become infected can experience potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Man’s best friend can also become infected from contaminated water sources that are large or small — even a drop of water on a blade of grass can pose a risk. When a dog swims in, drinks, or steps in the water there is a risk of infection, and that infection can be serious. Leptospirosis can infect a dog’s bloodstream, liver, and kidneys, and if left untreated it can be fatal.

There is a vaccine available for dogs to reduce the risk of leptospirosis; however, there is no such vaccine for humans, making it even more important to take the steps necessary to reduce the risk of damage and disease from rats or mice now, because the weather is only going to get colder.

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At Big Break Park – The Puzzling Delta

BIG BREAK: November 26. 11:00AM-12:00PM

THE PUZZLING DELTA! Join us as we explore the park while collecting hidden puzzle pieces and learning cool Delta facts. We will work together and use our Delta knowledge to assemble the puzzle and solve the picture riddle.

Drop-in program, no registration. Free Program. Meet at the Visitor Center. Parent participation required. For information, call: (510) 544-3050.

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Sunday Reading – 11/20/2022

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

8 billion and counting – We never know precisely how many of us are alive at any one time, but this Tuesday is the United Nations’ best estimate on when we’ll reach 8 billion human beings. 

Eight billion. It’s a number too big to imagine but think of it this way: In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, the world’s population grew by around 20 people. 

While the Earth’s population is growing quickly, the growth rate is starting to slow down. Eventually, it will start falling and our societies will shrink. 

Humanity is changing day by day in ways we can’t perceive over short periods, but in ways that will reshape our world over the coming century. 

The world is likely to have a couple more billion mouths to feed in just a few decades.

The UN’s latest projections, released earlier this year, suggest the world will house about 9.7 billion humans in 2050.

“Demographic projections are highly accurate, and it has to do with the fact that most of the people who will be alive in 30 years have already been born,” the UN’s population division director, John Willmoth, says.

“But when you start getting 70, 80 years down the road, there’s much more uncertainty.”

Under its most likely scenario, the UN projects the world population will reach about 10.4 billion in the 2080s.  

But the range of reasonable possibilities in 2100 is considerably wider, between 8.9 and 12.4 billion. 

From there, it’s set to plateau for a couple of decades, before falling around the turn of the 22nd century. Read More > at ABC News

California gas prices are dropping. Here’s how low they could get – Gas prices in the Bay Area and California have dropped about 70 cents since last month, and experts say prices could continue to fall over the Thanksgiving holiday — and possibly through the end of the year.

The drop in prices was due to several factors, experts say, including refineries in the state resolving issues that caused prices to spike as high as $8 in October, as well as the state switching to a winter blend of gas that is cheaper to make. Crude oil prices have also ranged between $85 and $95 per barrel for several weeks.

Demand for gas is also typically lower during the winter months — especially in Northern California, experts say — as temperatures drop and people tend to stay close to home.

Still, California continues to have the most expensive gas in the nation, with the national average price at $3.74 per gallon as of Wednesday, according to AAA.

The average price for a gallon of gas in California was $5.40 on Wednesday — 68 cents lower than a month ago, according to data from AAA.

In the Bay Area, which has some of the nation’s highest gas prices, the city of Napa saw the largest price drop — 81 cents — over the last month, according to AAA data. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Budget whiplash: CA faces $25B deficit – $25 billion.

That’s the estimated deficit Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers will confront when crafting a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal advisor announced Wednesday.

The projection marks a stunning reversal from back-to-back years of unprecedented prosperity: The budget for California’s current fiscal year clocked in at a whopping $308 billion, fueled by a record $97 billion surplus that was by itself enough to treat every state resident to a $7,500 vacation. The year before, Newsom and lawmakers approved what was at the time a record-busting $263 billion budget that included a $76 billion surplus.

Although the outlook is sobering — not since the Great Recession have California’s revenue estimates been so weak, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office — it could be worse, in ways both good and bad.

  • The good news: California “is in its best-ever position to manage a downturn, by having built strong reserves and focusing on one-time commitments” rather than ongoing spending in the last two budgets, H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the California Department of Finance, said in a statement. Indeed, Newsom has for months been sounding the alarm about lower-than-expected revenues, vetoing bills that he said would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars. And due to legislative Democrats’ “responsible approach, we are confident that we can protect our progress and craft a state budget without ongoing cuts to schools and other core programs or taxing middle class families,” Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego said in a statement. (GOP lawmakers had a different assessment: “Democrats overtaxed Californians and grew government while ignoring investments in critical infrastructure like new water storage,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City said in a statement.)
  • The bad news: The Legislative Analyst’s fiscal outlook doesn’t take into account soaring inflation rates or the increasingly likely possibility of a recession. Due to inflation, “the actual costs to maintain the state’s service level are higher than what our outlook reflects,” the analyst’s office wrote. The estimated $25 billion deficit thus “understates the actual budget problem in inflation-adjusted terms.” And, if a recession were to hit, it would result “in much more significant revenue declines,” meaning California could bring in $30 to $50 billion less than expected in the budget window.

A lot could change between now and January — when Newsom will unveil his budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning in July — and between now and May, when Newsom will release a revised proposal following negotiations with lawmakers. They must reach a spending deal by June 15.

But what is clear is that the budget will pose political challenges for Newsom — who has not yet had to govern during an economic downturn — and for California’s newly elected lawmakers, who are set to be sworn into office on Dec. 5.

For one thing, a massive deficit could complicate Newsom’s efforts to levy a new tax on oil and gas companies. And for another, Newsom and lawmakers could be forced to slash, delay or downsize programs they’ve touted as signature achievements.

One program it might make sense to delay: Newsom’s $500 million plan to clean up homeless encampments, Legislative Analyst Gabe Petek said.

  • Petek“That’s a very good example of the type of pause we had in mind.”

But that may not go over too well with Newsom, who is under pressure to make a dent in California’s growing homelessness crisis — a problem he’s tied to the fate of the Democratic Party — and who is set to meet with local leaders on Friday to push them to develop more ambitious plans to reduce the number of people living on the streets. Read More > at CalMatters

Red Meat Is Not a Health Risk. A New Study Slams Years of Shoddy Research. – Studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer for years. But nestled in the recesses of those published papers are notable limitations.

Nearly all the research is observational, unable to tease out causation convincingly. Most are plagued by confounding variables. For example, perhaps meat eaters simply eat fewer vegetables, or tend to smoke more, or exercise less? Moreover, many are based on self-reported consumption. The simple fact is that people can’t remember what they eat with any accuracy. And lastly, the reported effect sizes in these scientific papers are often small. Is a supposed 15% greater risk of cancer really worth worrying about? 

In a new, unprecedented effort, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to various health outcomes, formulating a new rating system to communicate health risks in the process. Their findings mostly dispel any concerns about eating red meat

“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, we found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke,” they summarized.

The IHME scientists had been observing the shoddy nature of health science for decades. Each year, hundreds of frankly lazy studies are published that simply attempt to find an observational link between some action — eating a food for example — and a health outcome, like death or disease. In the end, owing to sloppy methods, varying subject populations, and inconsistent statistical measures, everything, especially different foods, seems to be both associated and not associated with cancer. How is the lay public supposed to interpret this mess? Read More > at Real Clear Science

Poll: Majority Say Mainstream Media A ‘Major Threat’ To Democracy – According to the latest New York Times/Siena poll, a healthy majority of Americans believe that democracy is under threat — and over half of those who believe democracy is at risk say the “mainstream media” presents a “major threat.”

The poll, which surveyed 792 registered voters between October 9 and October 12, asked respondents to select one of the two following statements as aligning closest to their views — even if they did not match exactly: American democracy is currently under threat (71%); American democracy is not currently under threat (21%).

The poll then directed the 71% who believed democracy was under threat in the United States to answer a few more specific questions about where they thought the greatest threats were coming from.

Fewer of those polled believed Republicans in general presented a major threat (28%) compared to Democrats (33%), but more believed that former President Donald Trump presented a major threat (45%) compared to President Joe Biden (38%). But the mainstream media — with 59% of respondents calling it a major threat and an additional 25% calling it a minor threat — was ranked as the greatest danger to democracy among the listed options. Read More > at The Daily Wire

3 Common Myths About Recreational Marijuana Use – As of today, 19 U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana and as many as half of all young adults in the country have used cannabis. With the stigma around recreational use crumbling, it’s important to talk about the mental-health consequences of marijuana use.

The main psychoactive cannabinoids found in marijuana, THC and CBD, are intoxicants. These compounds interact with your brain and body chemistry in complex ways to induce feelings of pleasure, relief, and well-being. Along with its positive effects, marijuana can also stir up negative feelings like anxiety and paranoia.

Moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with marijuana. Consider these 3 false but widely-held myths you need to stop believing to have a healthy relationship with marijuana.

1. “Marijuana is not harmful to your mental health.”

The science is conclusive: The THC concentration in marijuana is on the rise. A recent study published in The Lancet found that this increase in potency brings a slew of serious mental health risks for marijuana users. The study revealed that high-potency cannabis use was associated with a fourfold increase in the likelihood of addiction when compared to low-potency cannabis use. The research is in line with real-world trends in cannabis addiction treatment, which, in the past decade, has seen a 76% increase. According to CDC estimates, around 30% of all marijuana users in the U.S. meet the criteria for cannabis use disorder….

2. “Marijuana cures anxiety.”

Marijuana is touted by some as an almost magical herb that relieves you of anxiety and improves your quality of life. Science, however, finds that reality to be much more nuanced. A study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine found that while CBD may be helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety, THC is not. In fact, THC has anxiety-inducing properties….

3. “Marijuana makes you creative.”

Pop culture is full of anecdotal evidence that marijuana makes you a better writer, musician, or artist. Let’s explore this claim through a scientific lens. A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology discovered that while users may think they are more creative while under the influence, the drug had no bearing on the actual creativity displayed… Read More > at Psychology Today

Smoking Cannabis Could Harm Your Lungs More Than Tobacco, Study Finds – Cannabis may do more harm to a smoker’s lungs and airways than tobacco, according to a small Canadian study published Tuesday.

Researchers from the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Hospital looked at chest X-ray scans of 56 cannabis smokers, 57 non-smokers and 33 people who smoked only tobacco between 2005 and 2020.

They found higher rates of airway inflammation and emphysema – a chronic lung disease – among regular cannabis smokers compared to regular tobacco-only smokers and non-smokers.

“Marijuana smoking is on the rise and there’s a public perception that marijuana is safe, or that it’s safer than (tobacco) cigarettes,” Giselle Revah, a radiologist at the Ottawa Hospital, where the research was conducted, told AFP.

“But this study raises concerns that this may not be true.”

She said the higher rates of inflammation and disease among cannabis smokers versus tobacco could be related to the differences in how the drugs are typically consumed.

Despite these possible explanations, the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Radiology, pointed out that some of the cannabis smokers also smoked tobacco, and that some of the lung scans produced inconclusive results, meaning more study is necessary.

As Revah noted, there is very little research on the health effects of cannabis overall, as it is banned in most countries. Read More > at Science Alert

What it’s like living as a female psychopath – Psychopathy is not an official mental health diagnosis and is not listed in the fifth and latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Instead it is grouped under the wider term of antisocial personality disorder, although psychopathy is widely used in global clinical environments. It is broadly understood to be a neuropsychiatric disorder, where a person displays unusually low levels of empathy or remorse, often resulting in antisocial and sometimes criminal behaviour. The term was used by doctors in Europe and the US in the early 1900s and became mainstream by 1941, following publication of the book The Mask of Sanity by American psychiatrist Hervey M Cleckley.

“The world’s leading academics have debated the definition of psychopathy,” says Abigail Marsh, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Georgetown University, in Washington DC. “You’ll get very different explanations of psychopathy depending on whether you are talking to a forensic psychologist or a criminologist.”

Marsh says that criminal psychologists tend to classify people as having psychopathy only when they display violent and extreme behaviour. For her, however, the condition displays itself as a spectrum with other, less dramatic behaviour that can vary from person to person.

Psychologists and psychiatrists generally agree that between one and two in every 100 people in the general population meet the criteria for psychopathy, but Marsh claims that as many as 30% of people in the general population display some degree of psychopathic traits. For those who have psychopathy, it can mean they struggle to maintain close friendships and put themselves in risky situations, but the condition also takes its toll on the people around them too.

“Being around a callous or manipulative person is often devastating for people who are close to them, and exhausting for people living with extreme psychopathy,” says Marsh.

She says that the majority of studies concerning people with psychopathy have been conducted on criminal offenders. Some of these studies point to psychopaths – or those showing psychopathic traits – as making up a disproportionate number of people in prison, although there is some dispute about how prevalent it really is. In general, the research suggests that psychopathy is higher among male offenders (accounting for perhaps 15-25% of prisoners) than female offenders (where it is found in 10-12%).

But it is a field that is still understudied in the general population, while even less research is conducted on women. Read More > at BBC Future

The U.S.’s Struggle to Wean Itself From Chinese Solar Power – Solar accounts for about 4% of U.S. power generation. President Biden and other advocates of green energy are trying to boost that number significantly.

To make that happen, though, the U.S. would need to build a supply chain almost from scratch.

At the moment, the U.S. has little or no manufacturing for almost any component needed to produce solar energy. China, which can produce solar components less expensively, controls more than 80% of the supply chain, dominating the manufacture of solar panels and other vital equipment. In recent years, China has spent almost 10 times as much on solar manufacturing as the U.S. and Europe combined.

In a bid to boost U.S. solar production, President Biden in August signed into law the bill dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides bonus tax credits to renewable-power projects that use American-made equipment, as well as incentives for manufacturing solar panels, wind turbine blades and other components in the U.S. The Energy Department forecasts solar will need to grow to at least 37% of the U.S. power mix by 2035 to hit the Biden administration’s clean-energy targets.

With vast deposits of oil and gas, the U.S. has largely avoided the energy shortages Europe now faces in the wake of the war in Ukraine and Russia’s restrictions on fuel exports. The U.S. government and green energy advocates, however, want to boost energy production from sources that emit less greenhouse gas. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Target: ‘Organized retail crime’ drove astounding $400 million loss in profits this year – Target stores are getting looted, and it’s taking a huge bite out of profits.

The discount retailer told reporters on a call to discuss its third quarter earnings results that inventory shrinkage — or the disappearance of merchandise — has reduced its gross profit margin by $400 million so far in 2022.

“There’s a handful of things that can drive shrink in our business and theft is certainly a key driver,” Target CFO Michael Fiddelke said. “We know we’re not alone across retail in seeing a trend that I think has gotten increasingly worse over the last 12 to 18 months. So we’re taking the right actions in our stores to help curb that trend where we can, but that becomes an increasing headwind on our business and we know the business of others.”

A Target spokesperson told Yahoo Finance via email after the call the shrinkage was mostly “organized retail crime.”

Organized retail crime is not just a Target issue as it has impacted other big name retailers such as Best Buy and Rite-Aid. Read More > ay Yahoo! Finance

A third railroad union rejects proposed contract, further raising the odds of a strike – A third railroad union has rejected a tentative labor deal, a move that further raises the odds that America’s 110,000 freight railroad workers will go on strike early next month.

The rank and file members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers voted against a tentative agreement reached in September, according to the union and the railroads. The precise margin of the opposition to the proposed deal was not immediately available.

The union represents about 300 workers who repair and rebuild diesel locomotives and railroad tracks. It is the smallest of 13 unions that represent more than 100,000 union members at the nation’s major freight railroads. But if any of those unions do strike the railroads, its picket lines would honored by the other unions, which would shutdown a still vital link in the nation’s supply chain.

In October members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes District (BMWED), which represents about 23,000 track maintenance workers, voted to reject a similar tentative deal. So did the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, who maintain the signal system needed to run the railroads. The two unions are set to go on strike as soon as December 4.

A freight railroad strike would create massive problems for the US economy, snarling still-struggling supply chains and triggering widespread bottlenecks and shortages.

About 30% of US freight, when measured by weight and distance traveled, moves by rail. Any prolonged strike could send prices for goods from gasoline to food to cars soaring. In addition, factories could be forced to shut temporarily due to parts shortages. Products that consumers want to buy could be missing from store shelves. Read More > at CNN Business

Chemicals industry warns that rail strike will shut plants and cost economy billions – The U.S. chemical manufacturing industry is one of the largest users of freight rail, shipping more than 33,000 carloads per week, and it is forecasting billions of dollars in economic damage if a labor deal isn’t reached between rail companies and unions before a potential strike in December.

A new economic analysis released by the American Chemistry Council estimates that a rail strike would impact approximately $2.8 billion in chemical cargo that is moved weekly, with a month-long strike resulting in an overall hit to the economy of $160 billion, or one percentage point of GDP.

Chemicals are among the most sensitive cargo moved by freight rail companies, and the first to be dealt with when there is risk of a strike. Strike preparation plans released by the railroads back in September when a looming work stoppage was averted indicated that the freight companies would start securing critical chemicals like chlorine for drinking water over regular cargo seven days prior to the strike date. Ninety-six hours before a strike deadline, all chemical shipments are no longer moved.

“Railroads will stop shipping chemicals that are essential to everyday life well in advance of a strike, including products that are critical to safe drinking water and food production,” Sloan said. “Many chemical facilities would be forced to shut down within the first week of a rail service embargo.”

The ACC says the impact of a potential strike would be felt almost immediately across nearly every sector of the economy. It has asked Congress to step in, using the authority it has to impose a deal under the Railway Labor Act. Its economic analysis projects a spike in a key inflation indicator, the Producer Price Index — which showed signs of cooling on Tuesday — of four percent. Read More > at CNBC

Scientists Have Developed a Wearable Ring That Repels InsectsMartin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) scientists have invented a new type of insect-repellent delivery device. The active ingredient is first “encapsulated” and shaped into the appropriate shape, such as a ring, which may then be worn and releases an agent meant to repel mosquitoes for an extended period of time. The team published their findings in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

The researchers used “IR3535” an insect repellent developed by MERCK, to create their prototypes.

“Mosquito sprays containing IR3535 are very gentle on the skin and have been used all over the world for many years. That’s why we’ve been using the agent for our experiments”, says Professor René Androsch from the MLU.

It typically comes in the form of a spray or lotion and provides protection for several hours. However, Androsch and his colleagues are searching for methods to release the agent over a much longer length of time, such as encapsulating it in a wearable ring or bracelet.

Insect repellent was carefully inserted into a biodegradable polymer using a specialized 3D printing technology, and the mixture of substances was successfully shaped in various ways. “The basic idea is that the insect repellent continuously evaporates and forms a barrier for insects”, explains the lead author of the study, Fanfan Du, a doctoral candidate at MLU.

The rate at which the insect repellent evaporates depends on many different factors, including temperature, concentration, and the structure of the polymer used. After conducting various experiments and simulations, the team predicts that the insect repellent needs well over a week to evaporate completely at a temperature of 37°C (98,6 °F, i.e., body temperature).

While the researchers have proven that it is absolutely possible to develop a wearable insect repellent, the rings and other forms created for the study are only prototypes. According to Androsch, further research needs to be carried out to determine how well the rings function under actual conditions. The encapsulation material could also be further optimized. Read More > at SciTechDaily

Inventing the Crypto King – How the media created the myth of Sam Bankman-Fried – One of the most striking things about the collapse of crypto exchange FTX, once counted among the world’s largest, is the extent to which it caught the supposed watchdogs of the tech industry by surprise. How could Sam Bankman-Fried, the brainiac financial visionary, crowned earlier this year the “crypto emperor” by The New York Times, have steered his armada of crypto firms into the rocks so recklessly? With allegations of an enormous, brazen fraud lingering, the first place to look is at the central role of the media in this fiasco. Through an almost endless churn of fawning coverage, the news media turned an inexperienced—and, it seems, ethically deranged—trader into the second coming of Warren Buffett.

Bankman-Fried’s head has filled the frame of the most coveted business news covers in the world, including Fortune (“The next Warren Buffett?”) and Forbes (“Only Zuck has been as rich (23 billion) this young (29)!”). CNBC star Jim Cramer once compared Bankman-Fried, who has been active in crypto finance for only a handful of years, to John Pierpont Morgan, the giant of industry who worked in banking for nearly four decades before striking out on his own.

Remarkably, some major news outlets have continued to round the edges of the SBF myth, even after the discovery of at least a billion-dollar hole in FTX’s books, the assets seeming to vanish into the crypto ether. This week, Twitter erupted in outrage when The New York Times published what many have described as a “puff piece” on Bankman-Fried, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

The Times story on Bankman-Fried, who allegedly funneled FTX customer money into his private hedge fund, Alameda Research, is couched in passive, soft-touch language reflected even in the headline: “How Sam Bankman-Fried’s Crypto Empire Collapsed.” The Times pieces describes Bankman-Fried’s misallocation of funds—which, if true, amounts to mass-scale fraud—in terms that remove active agency, writing: “Alameda had accumulated a large ‘margin position’ on FTX, essentially meaning it had borrowed funds from the exchange, Mr. Bankman-Fried said.” The piece, which describes Bankman-Fried as “surprisingly calm,” lays little to no blame at SBF’s feet, writing that FTX “lent as much as $10 billion to Alameda.” In contrast, business writer Trung Phan noted in a widely shared tweet that “fraud,” “crime,” “stolen,” “theft,” “criminal,” and “hidden,” make no appearance amid the article’s 2,000-plus word count.

But if critics found the recent Times article full of off-the-charts puffery, previous coverage makes this latest, post-FTX collapse piece look like searing investigative journalism. A May 2022 article by the same writer, The New York Times’ David Yaffe-Bellany, titled “A Crypto Emperor’s Vision: No Pants, His Rules,” jump-cuts from rapt audiences “roaring” with laughter at Bankman-Fried’s wit to his penchant for living “modestly” (in a $40 million Bahamas penthouse) to his chummy relationship with Tom Brady that purportedly began with Brady approaching the unassuming Bankman-Fried at a party to talk crypto. Read More > at Tablet

Not Beyond Coal: Despite Latest IEA Report, China and India Are Building More Coal Plants – On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency released a report on coal which it touts as being “the most comprehensive analysis to date” as to what would be required to “bring down global coal emissions rapidly enough to meet international climate goals.” In a press release, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said “a major unresolved problem is how to deal with the massive amount of existing coal assets worldwide.”

The “Coal in Net Zero Transitions” report is being released during the second week of the COP27 climate meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. And while the report contains a myriad of graphics and charts about how coal use might be reduced, the hard reality is that coal continues to be an indispensable fuel for power generation and industrial production. For proof of that, we need only look at India and China. 

Before doing so, let me quote again from the IEA’s press release, which says that “far from declining, global coal demand has been stable at near record highs for the past decade. If nothing is done, emissions from existing coal assets would, by themselves, tip the world across the 1.5°C limit.” It also quotes Birol as saying “Coal is both the single biggest source of CO2 emissions from energy and the single biggest source of electricity generation worldwide, which highlights the harm it is doing to our climate and the huge challenge of replacing it rapidly while ensuring energy security.” 

Therein lies the rub. And few countries demonstrate how energy security is trumping climate concerns than India, where electricity use averages about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per capita per year. Put another way, the average American uses about as much electricity in a month as the average Indian uses in an entire year. 

Given such paltry electricity consumption numbers, it’s no surprise that earlier this month, the Indian government launched its biggest-ever auction for coal mining. According to a November 3 article in The Hindu Business Line, the government has offered “133 blocks for auction, of which 71 are new mines and 62 are rolling over from earlier tranches of commercial auctions.” The auctions came just a few weeks after Power Minister Raj Kumar Singh said that India would add as much as 56 gigawatts of new coal-fired generation capacity by 2030. That would be an increase of about 25% over the country’s current installed base of about 204 GW of coal-fueled generation. In explaining the move, Singh said “My bottom line is I will not compromise with my growth…Power needs to remain available.” Read More > at Real Clear Energy

World’s Major Greenhouse Gas Emitters Falling Short Of Climate Goals – The world’s major greenhouse gas emitters are not on their way to meeting their climate goals almost seven years after the Paris Agreement was signed.

Overall, none of the four largest producers of greenhouse gases have cut their emissions enough to reach the benchmarks set by the Paris Agreement. Those main emitters are the U.S., India, China, and the E.U., according to new information released by Climate Action Tracker, an independent organization, as reported by The New York Times.

Each country differs on how it is progressing regarding emissions. China has the highest amount of emissions, which have been increasing over the past twenty years.

The country puts out almost one third of all greenhouse gases released by humans on the planet, which is more than the U.S., Japan, and Europe all put together. China’s emissions are getting close to their peak amounts, yet the country hasn’t put out new emissions reductions goals this year.

The United States has put out the most emissions historically and is still one of the highest emitters per capita. President Joe Biden has pushed for more climate change agenda items since taking office. The Democrats also pushed through the Inflation Reduction Act, which included a lot of federal money for green energy projects, including tax credits for wind turbines and solar panels, nuclear power plants, and carbon capture, plus help for electric vehicles.

While the European Union reduced its emissions in recent years, it has faced energy crises this year. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set the countries back. Russia drastically cut energy supplies to the EU and has created a dangerous situation ahead of winter, forcing most on the continent to try to find other energy sources.

Germany has ramped up its coal mining and imports to get more resources before the cold winter months hit, and European citizens are struggling under high energy costs. The EU is making the most progress of the four emitters toward reaching its pledges to cut emissions, but their efforts have come at a cost.

India’s emissions are projected to surpass the EU’s next year, which will be exacerbated as its population rises. India’s population is on track to surpass China’s next year. Read More > at The Daily Wire

The End of Silicon Valley’s 20-Year Boom – The last month has seen a bunch of big technology companies—including MetaTwitterLyftSalesforceMicrosoft, and Stripe—announce layoffs. Now the New York Times is reporting that Amazon is preparing to lay off about 10,000 workers in its corporate offices.

These tech-industry job cuts have come in the face of new data showing that hiring in the broader economy remained strong in October. Companies added 261,000 workers, beating analysts’ expectations. So it looks like Silicon Valley is tightening its belt more than other industries.

I suspect this reflects a significant change in the economics of the sector. For the last 20 years, Silicon Valley has had the wind at its back thanks to rapid adoption of new technologies like the internet and smartphones. As a result, the industry fared better than the broader economy during and after the 2008 recession.

But the internet is maturing, and as a result big tech companies don’t have the same growth potential today that they did in 2012 or 2002. Investors, recognizing that, are increasingly demanding that tech companies focus on profits rather than growth. And that means there could be even more pain ahead for Silicon Valley workers.

It also means that the phenomenal deals tech companies like Uber and DoorDash offered to consumers in the 2010s are unlikely to come back. Back then, venture capitalists were willing to subsidize rides, deliveries, and other services in a bid to expand their market share. But now these markets are becoming saturated, and investors want to see a return on their past investments. All together, it could make for a less dynamic internet to live on—and, perhaps, a less lucrative industry to work in. Read More > at Slate

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Oakley – North Pole Mailbox Has Returned

Our North Pole mailbox returns from November 14- December 5th. Please drop off your letter to Santa with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and our elves will make sure Santa sends a reply before Christmas.

Santa’s mailbox will be located at the Oakley Recreation Center at 1250 O’Hara Ave & Oakley City Hall at 3231 Main Street. The Recreation Center is open Monday-Thursday 8am-6pm, and Fridays from 8am-5pm (closed the first and third Friday). City Hall is open Monday-Thursday 8am- Noon closed on Fridays.

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Check your cord — firewood buying tips from CDFA

CDFA’s Division of Measurement Standards (DMS) oversees fair commerce in California, including firewood purchases that are common this time of year.

If you’re a consumer who wants to purchase firewood to last through the winter, you’re going to be spending hundreds of dollars per cord. The current average prices are $330/cord in the Sacramento-area, $360/cord in the Bay area, and $350/cord in Southern California.  Prices can go higher if you want a more expensive type of wood like maple or oak.

It’s important that consumers make the best purchasing decisions and value comparisons.  To do that, buyers need to be able to compare one seller’s offer with another.  Knowledge of the proper terms and units of measure used for firewood is key. 

Firewood is sold by the “cord.”  The cord, or fractions of a cord, are the legal units of measurement for firewood, just as milk is sold by the gallon or hamburger is sold by the pound.  A cord is 128 cubic feet.  To determine how much firewood you purchased, measure and multiply the length x width x height in feet to calculate cubic feet.  Any number less than 128 cubic feet is short of a cord. A helpful link of how to measure firewood may be found on the DMS webpage: CDFA – DMS – Programs – QC – Firewood (ca.gov)

Beware buying bulk wood by a “truckload”, “face cord”, “wheelbarrow”, or any other term other than a cord. These units of measure are not legally defined and therefore not comparable. For example, a dump truck load is far more than the capacity of an pick-up truck. Also, make sure you get a receipt for the wood from the seller.  The law requires this, plus the seller’s name and address, date, identity of the wood, quantity, and price.  If in doubt, take photographs and don’t burn any of the wood; file a complaint with your local sealer of weights and measures.

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Green Friday Adventures in Regional Parks 

Join us on Friday, Nov. 25 for a Free Park Day in the Regional Parks. Trade in your shopping bags for a backpack and spend the day after Thanksgiving in nature! 

• Green Friday Frolic8:30am, Big Break

• Hike It Off, 9am, Reinhardt Redwood

• Burn the Turkey Hike, 10am, Sunol

• Get Outside! Green Friday Hike, 10am, Contra Loma 

More Info

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2022’s Best Places to Shop on Black Friday – WalletHub Study

With last year’s Black Friday sales drawing 66.5 million Americans to shop in person and 88 million to shop online, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2022’s Best Places to Shop on Black Friday, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.

WalletHub surveyed nearly 4,000 deals from 16 of the biggest U.S. retailers’ 2022 Black Friday ad scans to identify the stores offering the biggest discounts in various product categories such as “Appliances,” “Jewelry” and “Toys.”

The following are some highlights from the report:

Best Black Friday Retailers (Avg. % Discount)
1. JCPenney (64.71%)6. Lenovo (40.67%)
2. Belk (64.23%)7. Target (32.87%)
3. Macy’s (53.05%)8. Big Lots (32.86%)
4. Office Depot and OfficeMax (49.93%)9. Academy Sports + Outdoors (31.10%)
5. Kohl’s (44.23%)10. The Home Depot (30.90%)

Key Stats

  • JCPenney has the highest overall discount rate at 64.71 percent, whereas Costco has the lowest at 16.80 percent.
     
  • The overall average discount for Black Friday is 37 percent. Consumers should aim for this discount amount or higher to avoid Black-Friday traps.
     
  • The “Apparel & Accessories” category has one of the biggest shares of discounted items, 21.09 percent of all offers, whereas the “Furniture” category has the smallest at 3.73 percent.

To view the full report and each retailer’s rank in all product categories, please visit: 
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-retailers-for-black-friday/8385/

More from WalletHub

Expert Commentary

How can consumers distinguish between real Black Friday deals and marketing traps?

“The best way to identify a ‘deal’ on Black Friday vs clever marketing is to shop right now. Explore pricing that is available in-store and online for the items you will be looking for. Often you will find deals nearly as good today as you will on Black Friday. Also, do not be fooled by look-alike products from vendors you do not recognize. That is a common trap to lure you into a store just to find out it is not what you were looking for. Also, watch to see if the item is the same on Black Friday or just similar. Make a note of the vendor’s stock number of the item. This is particularly important for big-ticket items such as TVs and appliances. Often a sale item looks the same but may be missing the features you are looking for. This is a common way for retailers to get to a lower price without cutting into their margins.”
Robert Paul Jones, Ph.D. – Department Chair and Associate Professor, Texas Tech University; Regional Editor (Americas), International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management

“I think there are a few ways to discern a good deal from a trap during this time. Consumers should consider if this is a product routinely sold by the retailer or if it is produced and/or sold at this retailer for Black Friday (e.g., can you purchase this product from this retailer before or after the holiday?). They can also consider if this is available at other reputable retailers and whether there is a history of product reviews (on this retailer or another). Lastly, the Black Friday season has recently drastically expanded from one day to multiple weeks, so consumers might also consider if the retailer is offering a ‘Black Friday’ guarantee wherein their purchase price will be the lowest in this time frame.”
Jared Watson – Assistant Professor, New York University

How can consumers protect themselves from overspending on Black Friday?

“Overspending is a big problem and I think consumers should be aware of that not only during the holiday season but throughout the year. My basic rule is: to have a list of items you absolutely need and the items that you do not need but want to buy before shopping. Also, think ahead about the approximate amount you can spend for each item and your overall shopping trip (offline or online). When you begin shopping, start with items you absolutely need and monitor the amount of money you may still have to spend on things you want but do not necessarily need. If you do not need something, you do not have to buy it! Simply because an item is on sale does not mean that you have to buy it. I think consumers have a Fear of Missing Out when they see deals and end up buying items they do not need just because those items are on sale. I know sometimes it is hard to resist a good deal, but when you get an item you do not need for 50% off, you are not saving 50%; you are losing the 50% you pay for it. So, prepare a list before a shopping trip and think about the range you can spend. Try to follow your list and your price range as much as possible.”
Omid Kamran Disfani, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University

“There are different strategies for consumers to protect themselves from overspending. Some consumers observe Buy Nothing Day instead of Black Friday, to participate in an international movement that highlights the negative social and environmental consequences of consumerism. Others choose to support brands with ethical business practices or to carefully choose products that will provide durable, long-term benefits. Other shoppers, who feel financial pressure to take advantage of Black Friday discounts, can avoid overspending by setting a budget and planning purchases ahead of time. Retailers can prompt impulse purchases online and in-store, and indulging in these unplanned purchases can quickly send a consumer over budget.”
Aimee Dinnín Huff, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, Oregon State University

What are some tips for maximizing bargains on Black Friday? 

“If consumers want to maximize their bargains on Black Friday, they need a game plan. Know what your budget is and what items you are looking to purchase. Pre-shop the sales flyers and look online. Have a good idea what the ‘regular’ price is for your big-ticket items, so you will know if it is a true ‘doorbuster’ deal. If you are shopping in a brick-and-mortar store and need to get the ‘hot toy’ for the year, shop with a partner and split up to pick up different items that are scarce. And lastly, remember not to let FOMO push you to exceed your limits and abandon your plan.”
Tyra Burton – Senior Lecturer, Kennesaw State University

“Only buy products that you were planning to buy anyways and take advantage of the deals offered on Black Friday! Do not buy products you do not need just because it is on sale! Have a list before shopping, it really helps you focus.”
Omid Kamran Disfani, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University

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Widespread strikes descend on California

from CalMatters

It’s strike season in California, again.

Today, fast food workers across the state are set to picket outside of Starbucks, Chipotle, Jack in the Box and other restaurants to protest the companies’ efforts to qualify a 2024 referendum to overturn a new state law. The first-in-the-nation law, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed on Labor Day, would create a state council to regulate fast food industry working conditions and push the minimum wage to as much as $22 per hour next year.

Meanwhile, 48,000 University of California academic workers — who conduct much of the teaching, grading and research at the nation’s premier public university system — are prepared to begin their second straight day of strikes at all 10 UC campuses to demand significantly higher wages to help cover sky-high housing costs, improved child care subsidies, enhanced health coverage and other benefits.

The widespread walkout of teaching assistants, postdocs, graduate student researchers and other employees has already prompted class cancellations and forced labs to close or scale back their research — not long before the start of final exams.

The UC strikes have attracted the attention of some of the state’s most powerful leaders: 33 state lawmakers sent a letter to UC President Michael Drake urging him to “avert strikes by ceasing to commit unfair labor practices and begin bargaining in good faith” with the four United Auto Workers unions representing the academic employees. The UC Regents are set to meet Wednesday and Thursday in San Francisco. 

  • The lawmakers, led by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, a San Jose Democrat and chairperson of his chamber’s labor and employment committee: “As one of California’s largest employers, the UC has not only the opportunity but also the obligation to be a leader in setting industry standards for academia, thus leading the way for other public employers. … By failing to do so, UC is risking mass disruption and losing the talent that has earned UC its prestigious reputation.”
  • UC said in an online statement that it “strongly disagrees” with allegations that it has committed unfair labor practices, adding, “Throughout the negotiations, UC has listened carefully to the union’s concerns and bargained in good faith,” including by making offers that are “generous, responsive to union priorities, and recognize the many valuable contributions of these employees.”

The fearsome California Labor Federation, led by former state lawmaker Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, also threw the weight of its 1,200 unions behind the UC workers by granting a statewide strike sanction that allows its 2 million members to honor picket lines. Other labor groups, including local Teamsters unions representing UPS employees, did the same — which could limit deliveries to UC campuses during the strike.

CalMatters’ College Journalism Network fellow Megan Tagami spoke with some of the hundreds of protesters — including undergraduate students and faculty members supporting the academic workers — at UCLA on Monday.

Aya Konishi, a doctoral student in the sociology department, said she regularly commutes two hours round-trip between West Hollywood and Westwood because her current salary prevents her from living closer to campus. Even so, she said, half of her $2,400 monthly salary still goes toward rent.

  • Konishi: “For many of us, more than 30% of our paycheck every month goes towards rent. And that’s a very huge issue that I think applies to many, many people in our union.” 

And more strikes are headed UC’s way: On Wednesday, unionized resident physicians and fellows at UCLA hospitals are set to hold a “unity break” to call for improved pay and benefits. “Despite serving on the frontlines of the state’s largest healthcare system, residents at UCLA are overworked and underpaid, while often carrying over $200,000 on average in student loan debt,” according to the Committee of Interns and Residents, part of the Services Employees International Union.

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Oakley’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting – Saturday, December 3rd

The City of Oakley is hosting its Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Saturday, December 3rd, starting at 4pm. Join us at Civic Center Plaza, 3231 Main Street as we kick off the holiday season with this family-friendly event. Admission and parking are FREE and the event will take place rain or shine.

Civic Center Plaza will be adorned with lights and Christmas decorations. There will be free cookies and cocoa, arts & crafts for the children, live entertainment and more. Santa Claus will also be making a special visit!

Entertainment for the night will include performances by local organizations. We will gather around the live Christmas tree near the Veteran’s Memorial to watch the lights turn on at approximately 6pm

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