Alert: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) – Big Break Regional Shoreline & San Joaquin River at Potato Point

There are currently “Danger” level advisory for harmful algal blooms at the Big Break Regional Shoreline kayak launch in Contra Costa County. There is also a “Warning” level advisory in the San Joaquin River at Potato Point. It is recommended to stay out of the water in these areas and to keep pets from coming into contact.

Learn more about these alerts and stay updated on Delta HABs with the HAB Incident Reports Map.

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Validation Action Filed Regarding Financing of Proposed Delta Conveyance Project

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a “validation action” with the Sacramento County Superior Court regarding DWR’s authority to, among other things, issue revenue bonds to finance the planning, design, construction and other capital costs of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project. Although DWR has existing legal authority to finance and construct the proposed project under the Central Valley Project (CVP) Act, a validation action is necessary to provide the requisite assurance to the financial community for the sale of the Delta Conveyance Project revenue bonds. The documents filed as part of the validation action can be accessed here.

Background

  • DWR proposes to issue revenue bonds to raise funds for the environmental review, planning and, if approved, construction of a Delta Conveyance Project.
  • The validation case will confirm DWR’s authority to use revenue bonds to fund the effort. Bonds for construction will not be issued unless and until specific conditions precedent are satisfied.
  • DWR derives its authority to issue bonds to finance planning and construction of the State Water Project (SWP) under the following acts of the State legislature: The State Water Resources Development Bond Act of 1959 (Burns Porter Act), CWC section 12930 et. seq., and the CVP Act, CWC section 11100 et. seq.
  • The CVP Act authorizes DWR to issue revenue bonds to pay the cost and expense of carrying out the CVP Act, which include environmental review, planning, and construction of SWP facilities for the conservation, storage, and distribution of water for the welfare and benefit of the people of California.
  • This CVP Act includes the Legislature’s instruction that the Act be liberally construed to effectuate its purpose.
  • As is the case with other revenue bonds issued to finance the SWP, these revenue bonds, if issued, would be repaid by participating SWP contractors.

CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES
CONTACT US | WATER.CA.GOV/DELTACONVEYANCE

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Contra Costa 2020 Homeless Point In Time Count Report

Each year in January the county conducts a comprehensive Point in Time (PIT) count of families and individuals experiencing homelessness. The count provides a one-day snapshot of homelessness. The 2020 PIT count was conducted on January 22, 2020 and found:

2,277 people experiencing homelessness –

  • 707 people in shelters
  • 1,570 sleeping outside
  • 154 children
  • 2,123 adults

People were identified in 30 incorporated cities and unincorporated jurisdictions across
the county during the PIT count. Antioch and Richmond each had 15% of the
unsheltered population (n=238, n=280), Concord had 10% (n=160), Martinez had 8%
(n=127), and Pittsburg had 6% (n=102)

Number of Unsheltered Individuals by Contra Costa County Cities

Read Full Report

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Sunday Reading 08/09/2020

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.

In Contra Costa, debate erupts over whether to close juvenile hall or boys ranch – At the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron — commonly called “the boys ranch” — the basketball court is an open setting just like any found in a typical neighborhood park court, except for the perimeter fence around the facility.

The basketball court at the more traditional juvenile detention facility near the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in Martinez, on the other hand, is enclosed in a cage, even above.

…The county’s district attorney wants the main juvenile detention facility shut down and the county’s probation chief is pushing for the closure of the boys ranch instead.

…By the end of the hearing, no resolution had been reached, ensuring that the debate will be resumed in the future.

Before the hearing, District Attorney Diana Becton announced in a statement that she is encouraging the county to keep Orin Allen open while she convenes a Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force to study a process for closing juvenile hall.

Although Becton had signaled her intent to help kids avoid getting locked up by launching a restorative justice pilot program last year for young people, some supervisors were surprised and angry that she sprung the announcement of a task force without their knowledge or any discussion. Read More > in The Mercury News

‘There’s no stopping it’: Bay Area cities reluctantly approve housing in face of state laws – …A few years ago, this type of development might have been shot down. But despite the opposition, the commission unanimously approved the project. The reason? Under a slew of state laws passed in recent years, cities and counties no longer have the power to reject housing that meets local rules and includes affordable homes.

From San Bruno to Castro Valley to Lafayette, a slew of major Bay Area housing approvals are the result of changing politics and new state legislation that forces cities to accept development despite residents’ protests. This includes SB35, which streamlined housing construction in counties and cities that fail to build enough housing to meet state housing goals. Also, SB330 cuts the time it takes to obtain building permits, limits fees and prevents local governments from shrinking projects that abide by all city codes.

Land use attorney Jennifer Hernandez said new state law “has very much narrowed the lawful reasons cities and counties can deny projects that comply with zoning and the general plan.”

Some of the pressure to force cities to comply with the new legislation comes from the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, known as CaRLA, which has filed dozens of lawsuits against cities that have illegally rejected or sought to downsize projects. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

California loses thousands of jobs and crucial fuel as Marathon Martinez refinery goes idle – California just experienced a catastrophic loss from the COIVD-19 impact on the economy, as one of its major refineries, Marathon Martinez has just announced it will be idled indefinitely.

With airlines and cruise ships virtually shut down, and vehicle transportation at an all-time low, the demand for fuels and petroleum derivative products manufactured from petroleum, are at an all-time low, the Northern California refinery, one of the largest in the state has just become a COVID victim.

The immediate impact on the California economy will ONLY be 1,000’s of jobs, most of Marathons’ 700 employees and those of the companies that have been providing products and services to support the refinery. Most of the 40 million residents of the state will not be impacted immediately, but later. As we recover from the pandemic, the economy demands for fuels will not be readily available and all will experience more expensive energy in perpetuity.

With the state being an energy island and an energy hog, California is heavily dependent on in-state manufacturing for its fuel demands. California is an “energy island” situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Arizona/Nevada Stateline, with no existing pipelines over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The state is inhabited by roughly 40 million citizens and is an energy hog demanding more than 65 million gallons of various transportation fuels daily from suppliers to drive (no pun intended) the 5th largest economy in the world. Read More > at Fox and Hounds

California sets in-person voting rules amid coronavirus – Worried about the unpredictable coronavirus wreaking havoc on the November election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed a law to let counties offer fewer in-person polling places in exchange for opening the sites earlier.

The change follows another law Newsom signed in June requiring counties to mail ballots to every active registered voter ahead of the Nov. 3 election…

While every active registered voter in California will get a ballot in the mail, some people must vote in person for various reasons, including lost or damaged mailed ballots, the need for language assistance or help due to a disability, or because they want to register to vote on Election Day, which California law allows at polling places.

Traditional polling places — community centers, retirement homes and in some cases people’s garages — have been hard to come by because of the pandemic. Sacramento County had 84 vote centers for the March 3 primary election. But it has only been able to secure locations for 39 vote centers for November, according to county spokeswoman Janna Haynes.

Senate Bill 423, approved Thursday by the state Senate, gives counties a workaround. It lets them merge precincts, as long as they keep the ratio of one precinct per 10,000 registered voters instead of the typical 1,000 voters. These consolidated polling places must be open from Saturday, Oct. 31, through Monday, Nov. 2, for at least eight hours each day and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Read More > from AP

Critics demand fairer prop ballot labels and summaries, but lawsuits tend to flame out – In California elections, it’s practically tradition.

About 100 days before the election, the state attorney general writes up a label and succinct summary of each ballot proposition. And then, like clockwork, pro- and anti-camps spend the next 20 days feverishly filing lawsuits. Their goal: convince judges, before the ballot goes to print, that the attorney general has linguistically tilted the playing field against them.

This year has been more of the same — only more so.

Over the last two weeks, Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been sued six times for the way he has labeled and summarized some of this year’s most contentious ballot measures. That’s a modern record. No election cycle has seen more proposition summary battles since at least 2008, according to a CalMatters review of court filings.

But despite the surge, state courts seem generally inclined to defer to the attorney general’s choice of verbiage. And that’s sharpening critics’ demands that California transfer at least some of the task of describing ballot measures to more objective, nonpartisan hands — as Utah, Michigan and the city of San Francisco do.

What’s printed on the ballot provides the last and, for some voters, the only impression of what a “yes” or a “no” vote on a proposition actually means. That makes the 75-word prop label on the ballot, along with the title and summary in the state election guide, some of the most fiercely litigated text in California’s political universe.  Read More > at CalMatters

U.S. economy added 1.8M jobs in July; unemployment at 10.2% – The U.S. economy added nearly 2 million jobs during July, the Labor Department said in its monthly report Friday.

The widely-anticipated assessment said 1.8 million payrolls were added for the month. The unemployment rate declined to 10.2%, it added.

The assessment showed that the number of unemployed persons in the United States fell by 1.4 million last month.

Most economists expected an addition of about 1.5 million. The range varied, but most analysts agreed in their projections that the pace of hiring would slow in July.

July’s figure is well below the 7.5 million positions added in June and May, when the economy was showing signs of a solid rebound from the initial stages of the pandemic. The May report was a surprise, announcing 2.5 million jobs when analysts were expecting a loss of about 2.5 million.

A resurgence of cases in the United States has stifled the recovery in recent weeks, however, and some states and cities have answered by scaling back plans to reopen their economies. Read More > from UPI

Over 80,000 mail-in ballots disqualified in NYC primary mess – The mail-in ballots of more than 84,000 New York City Democrats who sought to vote in the presidential primary were disqualified, according to new figures released by the Board of Elections.

The city BOE received 403,103 mail-in ballots for the June 23 Democratic presidential primary.

But the certified results released Wednesday revealed that only 318,995 mail-in ballots were counted.

That means 84,108 ballots were not counted or invalidated — 21 percent of the total.

One out of four mail-in ballots were disqualified for arriving late, lacking a postmark or failing to include a voter’s signature, or other defects. The Post reported Tuesday that roughly 30,000 mail-in ballots were invalidated in Brooklyn alone. Read More > in the New York Post

Why do humans prefer to mate in private? – Yitzchak Ben Mocha, an anthropologist with Zürich University, has conducted a study of human procreation habits as part of an effort to understand why humans prefer to mate in private. In his paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, he describes his analysis of other studies that involved human sexual practices, among other things.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that  beings generally prefer to mate in private—but why? And why is it so rare? Other than humans, only one other species has demonstrated a preference for  during : Arabian babblers. To learn more, Ben Mocha retrieved data from 4,572 accounts of cultural studies—ethnographies—and studied them looking for what he describes as normal sexual practices. Those involved were not trying to shock or avoid punishment for engaging in taboo practices such as incest—and were also not in the pornography business. He found that virtually every known culture practices private mating—even in places where privacy is difficult to find. He also looked for examples of other animals mating in private, and found none, except for the babblers. He also found that there were no explanations for it, and in fact, there were very few other people wondering why humans have such a proclivity. And, not surprisingly, he was unable to find any  on the topic. Read More > at Phys.org

Black Americans Want Police to Retain Local Presence – When asked whether they want the police to spend more time, the same amount of time or less time than they currently do in their area, most Black Americans — 61% — want the police presence to remain the same. This is similar to the 67% of all U.S. adults preferring the status quo, including 71% of White Americans.

Meanwhile, nearly equal proportions of Black Americans say they would like the police to spend more time in their area (20%) as say they’d like them to spend less time there (19%).

These findings are from a June 23-July 6 Gallup Panel survey, administered by web in English and conducted as part of the newly launched Gallup Center on Black Voices. The study includes large samples of Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans, weighted to their correct proportions of the population.

Of these four racial/ethnic groups, Asian Americans are the most likely to want less police presence where they live, with 28% saying this. That contrasts with 12% of White Americans, 17% of Hispanic Americans and 19% of Black Americans. Read More > from Gallup

Should California borrow more or tax more? – The state budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed earlier this summer had been hastily adjusted to cope with projections that state revenues would plummet by tens of billions of dollars due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden recession it sparked.

Nevertheless, it was a budget based on hope — that the federal government would provide as much as $14 billion in emergency aid so some spending could be restored, and that the recession would be relatively brief.

In the final month of the 2020 legislative session, however, neither of those hopeful scenarios appears likely to occur and state finances could be submerged in red ink for years.

Democratic politicians, therefore, have been busily drafting elaborate schemes to generate more money, generally falling into two categories — borrow more or tax more.

The borrow-more faction, which includes the legislative leadership, has floated a $100 billion plan to “securitize” various revenue streams — using them as collateral for loans. It also would borrow money from personal and corporate income taxpayers by inducing them to pre-pay future taxes with discounts.

The tax-more faction is a coalition of left-of-center organizations, particularly public employee unions, and their legislative allies. Their plan, contained in Assembly Bill 1253, would impose surtaxes of 1% to 3.5% on taxpayers with taxable incomes over $1 million a year and raise perhaps $6 billion a year.

California already has, by far, the nation’s highest personal income tax rates and the approximately 80,000 individual or joint taxpayers who would be hit by the proposed surtaxes already pay about 40% of income tax revenues. Read More > at CalMatters

Does the Common Cold Protect You from COVID-19? – There are emerging signs that some people might have heightened protection against SARS-CoV-2, perhaps thanks to recent infection by other coronaviruses.

In labs all over the world lately, scientists working on COVID-19 have stumbled on an intriguing sort of finding again and again. They’ve found that blood samples from healthy people who were never exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus contain reactive immune cells and targeted antibodies that could, perhaps, help stave off COVID-19.

These people may—it is still just a hypothesis—possess some degree of pre-existing immunity. If correct, it’s even possible that this immunity has saved thousands from the worst manifestations of this terrible disease.

Some of the first hints of pre-existing immunity came via T cells, the white blood cells that destroy infected cells in the body or help other parts of the immune system target an invading pathogen. In one study originally published as a preprint on medRxiv April 22, a group of scientists in Germany reported an intriguing result.

Out of 68 healthy donors who had been tested for prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and who were found to be negative, 24 of them had a small number of T cells in their blood that reacted when exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein—a complex structure protruding from the virus’s exterior surface. The study, which was later published in Nature July 29, explains that the cells in question produced proteins on their surfaces, an indication of an immune response.

If that is indeed what’s going on here, one possible explanation would be that the healthy donors had been infected by another coronavirus relatively recently, perhaps one that causes a common cold, says coauthor Andreas Thiel, an immunologist at the Charité hospital, part of Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Besides more serious diseases such as COVID-19 and SARS, human coronaviruses have been known for decades to cause what are usually much milder infections. The specific viruses that cause these illnesses are found all around the world. Read More > at The Scientist 

The Great American Housing Boom Has Begun – What if I told you that US housing is one of the best money-making opportunities today? You’d probably think I’m crazy. After all, how can anyone think housing is a good bet right now… especially in the middle of a global pandemic?

Well, today I’m going to show you the facts. You’ll see exactly why I’ve never been more excited about US housing. You’ll see why the coronavirus hasn’t even dented this market. And you’ll find out the best way to play this boom for maximum profits.

The Residential Housing Market Is Worth $35 Trillion.

And it’s absolutely BOOMING. This past month, new home sales surged 55%—their biggest gain since 2005. The number of Americans looking to refinance their mortgages jumped 111%. And Quicken Loans—the US’s largest mortgage broker—just had its best quarter in its 35-year history.

In the first six months of 2020, Quicken funded a record $120 billion in home loans. It broke the record for its best lending year ever with six months to go.

And get this: last month, the average home sale price spiked 6%. This marks 100 straight months of gains, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

…But bidding wars are fast becoming the rule, not the exception in US housing. Data from internet realtor Redfin (RDFN) shows more than half of buyers who purchased a home in the past three months were forced into a bidding war. Read More > at RiskHedge

California prosecutors ask NFL to take down PSA on Stephon Clark – California prosecutors on Tuesday asked the NFL to remove a video produced as part of the league’s Inspire Change campaign, saying it misrepresents the circumstances leading to the Sacramento police shooting death of Stephon Clark in 2018.

The video shows Sequette Clark speaking about the death of her son, Stephon Clark, who was killed in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. The shooting led to weeks of protests in Sacramento and across the nation, sometimes disrupting games by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

“Though well-intentioned, the video performs a disservice instead of a public service by omitting the crucial facts which preceded Mr. Clark’s tragic death,” California District Attorneys Association president Vern Pierson said in a statement.

Pierson said the video doesn’t mention that Clark was suspected of vandalism and was running from police. Clark turned toward officers holding what the two officers said they thought was a gun, but it was a cellphone.

NFL officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Read More > at KCRA

Too many bills, too little time: Why COVID-19 has California Democrats feuding – A common maxim in the California Legislature holds that lawmakers shouldn’t fall in love with their bills.

This year, there are a lot of broken hearts in the Capitol.

Hundreds of bills meant to alleviate the homeless crisis, decrease medical bills and bolster labor laws ran into the buzz saw of a legislative year twice abbreviated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, with just three weeks to go on the legislative calendar, Democrats in each house are showing hard feelings over which remaining proposals deserve a vote and which will have to wait until next year.

A bill has to clear both houses before it can go to Gov. Gavin Newsom and become law.

Lawmakers had little time to get their bills to the finish line after recessing because of the coronavirus outbreak for much of the spring and again in July when two Assembly members tested positive for COVID-19.

The Senate, with its 40 members, sent around 160 total bills to the Assembly since the start of the two-year session in 2019.

The 80 Assembly members passed on 540 total measures to the Senate. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee

Your school wants a waiver to open in person? In the Bay Area, sit tight and wait – School starts as early as next week in many Bay Area districts, so the window to apply for a waiver to open the school year in person is closing fast. But the confusing process to get permission through county public health departments is just beginning.

That combination was leading to more questions than answers on Tuesday, as Bay Area health departments scrambled to assess the new guidelines that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office issued late Monday for “in-person instruction.”

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Alameda County Office of Education spokesperson Michelle Smith McDonald said. “We won’t find the gaps until we’re in them.”

With pressure building from teachers’ unions and health officials, the governor last month mandated that K12 schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus watchlist — including all of the Bay Area — start the school year online. But he cleared the way for county health departments to grant waivers to elementary schools that follow a rigorous set of guidelines — including reduced class sizes, mask mandates and routine schoolwide testing — to open their classrooms for instruction. Read More > in The Mercury News

What the videos of the Beirut blast tell us about the explosion – The massive explosions in a Beirut port on Tuesday provoked fear, then speculation after an eerie, white cloud enveloped the lenses of bystander videos, with many suggesting online that it looked something like a nuclear blast.

But the building consensus among arms experts and Lebanese officials is that the explosion, which killed at least 100 people and injured thousands more, may have been ignited by burning chemicals stored at a warehouse.

Many not accustomed to seeing large explosions may conflate mushroom clouds and spherical blast waves as nuclear, said Jeffrey Lewis, an arms-control expert and professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “But some of the things we associate with nuclear explosions are just associated with explosions.” Read More > in The Washington Post 

July Breaks Gun Sales Record – One of the country’s leading gun makers saw earnings triple as gun sales once again shattered previous records for the month of July.

July 2020 saw an estimated 1,795,602 gun sales—a new record and an increase of 133 percent over July 2019, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis of FBI data. July is the fifth consecutive month to set a gun-sales record. Chris Killoy, chief executive officer of Sturm, Ruger & Company, said the current spike in sales is unlike anything he has ever seen. The buying spree shows no signs of slowing down and heavy demand will “sustain itself” into the fall, Killoy predicted.

“Having been in this industry for 30 years, I saw the surge in 1994 before the assault weapons ban took place,” Killoy told investors on Thursday. “This is probably the strongest level of demand that I’ve seen. One of the most significant differences is how it has impacted all levels of the channel and the impact on inventory at all levels.”

The spike in FBI background checks and coinciding earnings at the gun-industry giant indicate an explosion of new gun ownership as Americans deal with the coronavirus outbreak and national unrest. FBI background checks indicate 2020 has now seen at least 10 million guns sold—many to first-time buyers and minorities. Read More > in The Washington Free Beacon 

Popular queer Native American Twitter account turns out to be unpopular straight white woman@sciencing_bi was a well-read Science Twitter account, a queer Native American professor with a unique perspective on science and university life. They reportedly caught coronavirus and and died of Covid, drawing tributes from online admirers, some of them prominent academics. But it was only the final straw in a haybale of suspicion for people who knew BethAnn McLaughlin, a white woman that @sciencing_bi often spoke of. It turns out, with grim predictability, that it was her all along, catfishing the academic pond.

The anonymous account, @Sciencing_Bi, was an active participant in the corner of Science Twitter that frequently discusses issues of sexual misconduct in the sciences. It claimed on at least one occasion to have grown up in Alabama, to have “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” and to have attended Catholic school. The account began to pointedly make reference to being Native American and, earlier this year, began to identify as Hopi. … In April, @Sciencing_Bi began to undergo a drama that belonged solely to her, announcing the coronavirus diagnosis in a tweet. It was Ms. McLaughlin who announced that the anonymous professor had died.

Twitter banned both McLaughlin and her sockpuppet, but there’s a lot more to unravel.

An interesting element of the sockpuppet was posing @sciencing_bi at Arizona State University. One of the largest universities in the U.S., ASU has a six-figure roster of students, academics and staff, a daunting prospect to any researcher trying to track the account author down. It would be almost impossible. Sciencing_bi’s “death” was what pushed it past the threshold of being interesting enough to turn “almost impossible” into “done.” Read More > at Boing Boing

A Brutal Assessment of Cable News – July 24th was my last day at MSNBC. I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore. My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.

You may not watch MSNBC but just know that this problem still affects you, too. All the commercial networks function the same – and no doubt that content seeps into your social media feed, one way or the other.

It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would “rate.” The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked in to the editorial process – and those decisions affect news content every day. Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing.

But behind closed doors, industry leaders will admit the damage that’s being done.

“We are a cancer and there is no cure,” a successful and insightful TV veteran said to me. “But if you could find a cure, it would change the world.”

As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis. The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events, at the expense of others… all because it pumps up the ratings.

This cancer risks human lives, even in the middle of a pandemic. The primary focus quickly became what Donald Trump was doing (poorly) to address the crisis, rather than the science itself. As new details have become available about antibodies, a vaccine, or how COVID actually spreads, producers still want to focus on the politics. Important facts or studies get buried. Read More > at ARIANA N. PEKARY

The Housing Market Shows ‘Continued Strength and Resiliency.’ What That Means for Home Prices. – Home prices were expected to decrease by 0.1% from May to June, according to CoreLogic’s May forecast. Instead, they rose 1%, the company said in a Tuesday release.

Home prices “really rebounded much more strongly than I think any of us had thought they were going to,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft told Barron’s, crediting millennial buyers taking advantage of historically low interest rates and a limited supply of homes for sale. Home prices grew 4.9% year over year in June, up from a revised 4.1% year over year in May, according to the company’s June Home Price Index and HPI Forecast, released Tuesday.

The 1% increase in June represents the fastest June gain since the same month in 2013, CoreLogic said. Prices are forecast to grow 0.1% on a month-over-month basis between June and July, according to the company’s report. Read More > from Barron’s

ESPN Settles on “Monday Night Football” Crew for 2020 – Though no official announcement has been made, ESPN has settled on a new crew for Monday Night Football for the 2020 NFL season.

After going with a two-man booth of Joe Tessitore and the Booger McFarland last season, ESPN is reverting to a three-man booth for its MNF broadcasts this fall featuring Steve Levy doing the play-by-play and former NFL players Louis Riddick and Brian Griese providing the color commentary, according to The New York Post.

ESPN’s top college announcing team, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, will call the late game of the season’s opening-week Monday Night Football doubleheader (Steelers versus Giants) and could still be in the mix for the main broadcast if the college football season is pushed back or canceled.

But, as of now, ESPN is planning to turn to Levy, Riddick and Griese to help revive a product that has decreased in popularity in recent years, at least partially because the pre-determined matchups on the field have proved to be short of marquee. Read More > at InsideHook

The Dirty Secrets Of ‘Clean’ Electric Vehicles – The widespread view that fossil fuels are “dirty” and renewables such as wind and solar energy and electric vehicles are “clean” has become a fixture of mainstream media and policy assumptions across the political spectrum in developed countries, perhaps with the exception of the Trump-led US administration. Indeed the ultimate question we are led to believe is how quickly can enlightened Western governments, led by an alleged scientific consensus, “decarbonize” with clean energy in a race to save the world from impending climate catastrophe. The ‘net zero by 2050’ mantra, calling for carbon emissions to be completely mitigated within three decades, is now the clarion call by governments and intergovernmental agencies around the developed world, ranging from several EU member states and the UK, to the International Energy Agency and the International Monetary Fund.

Yet, if one looks under the hood of “clean energy” battery-driven EVs, the dirt found would surprise most. The most important component in the EV is the lithium-ion rechargeable battery which relies on critical mineral commodities such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese. Tracing the source of these minerals, in what is called “full-cycle economics”, it becomes apparent that EVs create a trail of dirt from the mining and processing of minerals upstream.

A recent United Nations report warns that the raw materials used in electric car batteries are highly concentrated in a small number of countries where environmental and labour regulations are weak or non-existent. Thus, battery production for EVs is driving a boom in small-scale or “artisanal” cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo which supplies two thirds of global output of the mineral. These artisanal mines, which account for up to a quarter of the country’s production, have been found to be dangerous and employ child labour.

…the supposed advantages of EVs in emitting lower carbon emissions are overstated according to a peer-reviewed life-cycle study comparing conventional and electric vehicles. To begin with, about half the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric car come from the energy used to produce the car, especially in the mining and processing of raw materials needed for the battery. This compares unfavorably with the manufacture of a gasoline-powered car which accounts for 17% of the car’s lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions. When a new EV appears in the show-room, it has already caused 30,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide emission. The equivalent amount for manufacturing a conventional car is 14,000 pounds.

Once on the road, the carbon dioxide emissions of EVs depends on the power-generation fuel used to recharge its battery. If it comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, it will lead to about 15 ounces of carbon-dioxide for every mile it is driven—three ounces more than a similar gasoline-powered car. Even without reference to the source of electricity used for battery charging, if an EV is driven 50,000 miles over its lifetime, the huge initial emissions from its manufacture means the EV will actually have put more carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere than a similar-size gasoline-powered car driven the same number of miles. Even if the EV is driven for 90,000 miles and the battery is charged by cleaner natural-gas fueled power stations, it will cause just 24% less carbon-dioxide emission than a gasoline-powered car. As the skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg puts it, “This is a far cry from ‘zero emissions’”. Read More > at Forbes

Why a Data Breach at a Genealogy Site Has Privacy Experts Worried – The peculiar matches began early on a Sunday morning. Across the world, genealogists found that they had numerous new relatives on GEDmatch, a website known for its role in helping crack the Golden State Killer case.

New relatives are typically cause for celebration among genealogists. But upon close inspection, experienced users noticed that some of the new relatives seemed to be the DNA equivalent of a Twitter bot or a Match.com scammer; the DNA did things that actual people’s DNA should not be able to do.

Others seemed to be suspected murderers and rapists, uploaded by genealogists working with law enforcement. Users knew that the police sometimes used the site to try to identify DNA found at crime scenes. But users found the new profiles strange because they also knew that profiles made for law enforcement purposes were supposed to be hidden to prevent tipping off or upsetting a suspect’s relatives amid an investigation. What really drew attention, however, was the fact that all one million or so users who had opted not to help law enforcement had been forced to opt in.

GEDmatch, a longstanding family history site containing around 1.4 million people’s genetic information, had experienced a data breach. The peculiar matches were not new uploads but rather the result of two back-to-back hacks, which overrode existing user settings, according to Brett Williams, the chief executive of Verogen, a forensic company that has owned GEDmatch since December. Read More > in The New York Times

Mystery radio signal sent to Earth from ‘closest ever point’ within Milky Way – Scientists have traced mysterious radio signals detected on Earth to a dead star within our Milky Way galaxy.

The millisecond-long burst of radiation was emitted by a magnestar — a type of star with an extremely powerful magnetic field — roughly 14,000 light-years away, according to a study.

Known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), signals such as these have baffled scientists for years and typically originate from far beyond the Milky Way.

Their origins are unknown. Some think the energetic waves are the result of cosmic explosions, while others have controversially suggested they’re signals sent by aliens.

Picked up by radio telescopes worldwide in April, the FRB examined in the new study was the first to be detected from inside the Milky Way.

Astronomers traced it back to a magnetar called SGR 1935+2154, potentially settling the debate on where FRBs come from. Read More > in the New York Post

7-Eleven Parent To Acquire Speedway Stores For $21B – The Japanese owner of the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores, Seven & i Holdings, has inked a deal to acquire the Speedway chain of gas stations/convenience stores for $21B. The buyer is paying the seller, Marathon Petroleum Corp., cash for the properties.

Currently Seven & i Holdings owns more than 9,800 7-Elevens in North America, its largest holding in the Western Hemisphere, and in fact the largest chain of convenience stores on the continent. The company will add about 3,900 Speedway locations to that total, though it plans to keep the brands distinct.

Speedway is currently the third-largest convenience store chain in terms of unit count. Alimentation Couche-Tard, which operates about 8,000 Circle K stores, has the second-largest convenience chain. Read More > at Bisnow

Answering Questions about California’s Dysfunctional Energy Policies – California, with less than 0.5% of the world’s population (40 million vs. 8 billion), remains the state with the highest cost of electricity and fuels in the country and its dysfunctional energy policies are doing everything possible to further increase those costs to the detriment of those that can least afford it.

The states’ pursuit of going green at any cost, appears to be oblivious to the fact that renewable energy is only renewable ELECTRICITY, and intermittent electricity at best.

Wind and solar are incapable of providing societies and economies with the thousands of products made from petroleum derivatives manufactured from petroleum, and the various fuels also manufactured from petroleum. Those products and fuels “make things and moves products,” required by every transportation infrastructure for prosperous societies and economies.

Energy literacy will enhance one’s comprehension that the cost of energy affects everything, from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, transportation, communications, housing, healthcare, and the leisurely living made possible by energy and its products. Raising the cost of energy is immoral and racial biased as it negatively affects those that can least afford increases in their cost of living. Read More > at Fox and Hounds

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Free Wood Chips Every Saturday in August

Need some wood chips/mulch for your landscaping? The City of Oakley and Diablo Water District have teamed with West Coast Arborists, Inc. to offer free wood chips to spread as mulch around trees and shrubs.

Wood chips are available for pick-up August 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the City Yard at the corner of Neroly Road and Main Street (entrance on Neroly).

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California’s Most and Least Equitable School Districts – WalletHub Study

With research showing that low-income students will fall behind their wealthy peers if schools operate remotely due to COVID-19, and a renewed focus on racial equality, WalletHub today released its report on the Most and Least Equitable School Districts in California. To find out where school funding is distributed most fairly, WalletHub scored the equitability of each school district in California based on two metrics: average household income and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil.

Alongside this report, WalletHub also released rankings for the States with the Most and Least Equitable School Districts, along with accompanying videos and audio files. California ranked as the 2nd least equitable overall.

Below, you can see additional report highlights, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

Most & Least Equitable School Districts in California

Most Equitable Least Equitable
1. Los Nietos School District 910. Death Valley Unified School District
2. Gen Shafter Elementary School District 911. Portola Val Elementary School District
3. Browns Elementary School District 912. Panoche Elementary School District
4. Pajaro Valley Unified School District 913. Bolinas Stinson Unified School District
5. Bonita Unified School District 914. Hillsborough City School District
6. Roseville City Elementary School District 915. Ross Elementary School District
7. Tracy Joint Unified School District 916. Woodside Elementary School District
8. Anderson Valley Unified School District 917. Silver Fork Elementary School District
9. San Marcos Unified School District 918. Desert Center Unified School District
10. Val Verde Unified School District 919. Indian Springs Elementary School District

To view the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-equitable-school-districts-in-california/77056/

See where your school district is listed

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State paves way for elementary schools to reopen

On Monday the state issued guidelines and conditions for California elementary schools to reopen for in-person learning with the approval of local health official.

Overview

California schools have been closed for in-person instruction since mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School closures to in-person instruction were part of a broader set of recommendations intended to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) developed the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Learning Framework (PDF) to support school communities as they decide when and how to implement in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year.

This framework permitted schools and school districts to reopen for in-person instruction at any time if they are located in a local health jurisdiction (LHJ) that has not been on the county monitoring list within the prior 14 days. If the LHJ has been on the monitoring list within the last 14 days, the school must conduct distance learning only, until their LHJ has been off the monitoring list for at least 14 days.

The framework authorized local health officers (LHO) to grant a waiver of this criteria, in order for elementary schools to open for in-person instruction under specified conditions. Applicants must satisfy all waiver requirements in order to be granted a waiver. Waivers should be granted or denied pursuant to the process outlined below.

The Process

 

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One-way traffic control on State Route 12

Updated schedule:

  • Monday, August 3, through Friday, August 7, 2020 from
    9:00 PM until 5:00 AM
  • One-way traffic control will continue Sundays through Thursdays, from 9:00 PM until 5:00 AM through Friday, August 28, 2020.

Caltrans is performing long-term, one-way traffic control on eastbound and westbound State Route 12 (SR-12) between SR-160 and Interstate 5 (I-5) for repair work on the Mokelumne River Bridge located at the San Joaquin / Sacramento County line.

Motorists should expect 10-minute delays. Flaggers will be put in place to assist motorists during lane closures and Caltrans will also have changeable message signs alerting motorists of the potential delays.

This work is scheduled to begin as listed, but is subject to change due to traffic incidents, weather, availability of equipment, and/or materials and construction related issues.

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2020’s Best & Worst States for Health Care – WalletHub Study

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted medical care in countless ways, from postponing elective surgeries to moving many visits online. To shed some light on where people can get quality, affordable care during the current crisis, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s Best & Worst States for Health Care, as well as accompanying videos.

In order to determine where Americans receive the highest-quality services at the best prices, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 44 key measures of health care cost, accessibility and outcome. The data set ranges from average monthly insurance premium to physicians per capita to share of insured population.

Health Care in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 22nd – Avg. Monthly Insurance Premium
  • 46th – Hospital Beds per Capita
  • 24th – Physicians per Capita
  • 11th – Dentists per Capita
  • 48th – Physician Medicare-Acceptance Rate
  • 26th – % of Insured Adults
  • 17th – % of Insured Children
  • 51st – % of At-Risk Adults with No Routine Doctor Visit in Past Two Years
  • 28th – % of Adults with No Dental Visit in Past Year
  • 1st – % of Medical Residents Retained

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-best-health-care/23457/

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First Friday Night Food Trucks in Oakley – August 7, September 4 and October 2

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Sunday Reading – 08/02/2020

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.

‘A huge experiment’: How the world made so much progress on a Covid-19 vaccine so fast – Never before have prospective vaccines for a pathogen entered final-stage clinical trials as rapidly as candidates for Covid-19.

Just six months ago, when the death toll from the coronavirus stood at one and neither it nor the disease it caused had a name, a team of Chinese scientists uploaded its genetic sequence to a public site. That kicked off the record-breaking rush to develop vaccines — the salve that experts say could ultimately quell the pandemic.

The colossal impact of the coronavirus is motivating the speed, opening a spigot of funding and inspiring research teams around the world to join the hunt. But the astonishing pace of the progress is also a consequence of the virus itself: It is, scientifically speaking, an easier target for potential vaccines than other pathogens, and a prime candidate for cutting-edge vaccine platforms new to scientists’ toolkits.

“Once we got the sequence, we pulled the trigger to ask how fast we could go,” said Barney Graham, the deputy director of the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center. “And because it was a coronavirus, we could get into a Phase 3 trial in six months instead of two years.”

Of course, progress so far remains just that. The vaccines are now facing their real tests: the monthslong, Phase 3 trials that will demonstrate whether or not they protect people from the virus. Read More > at STAT

Hackers breached Twitter accounts by targeting employees by phone – Twitter says the people who took over the accounts of high-profile users in order to launch a bitcoin scam used tactics focused on phones to trick company employees into giving them access.

The attackers targeted a “small number of employees through a phone spear phishing attack,” Twitter said in a statement Thursday. Not all the affected employees had access to account management tools, the company said, but hackers used their credentials to gather information about Twitter’s internal processes. They then used that reconnaissance data to inform attacks on Twitter personnel with deeper access.

“This attack relied on a significant and concerted attempt to mislead certain employees and exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to our internal systems,” the company said in a blog post.

Twitter has not disclosed the number of employees and contractors who had access to user accounts, though Reuters reported more than 1,000 people had the internal access the hackers had sought.

“This was a striking reminder of how important each person on our team is in protecting our service,” the company said. “We take that responsibility seriously and everyone at Twitter is committed to keeping your information safe.”

While Twitter was not more specific about how the attack occurred, the described technique resembles SIM jacking. Read More > at CyberScoop

Extra: Newspapers are dead, just 3% get political news from them – Stick a thumb drive in them: Newspapers are dead.

Taken down by the same digital and social media papers heralded for years, a new survey found that just 3% of adults get their political news from print sources.

Instead, they turn to social media and digital media. Even radio does substantially better at drawing an audience, at 8%, according to the Pew Research Center.

The pathetic print number was in a Pew report that said those who turn to social media for their political news are dumb.

“Those who rely on social media for news are less likely to get the facts right about the coronavirus and politics and more likely to hear some unproven claims,” read the analysis. Read More > in the Washington Examiner

Coronavirus unemployment: Governor plans EDD reforms but relief is months away – Gov. Gavin Newsom, alarmed by the state’s difficulty in promptly paying unemployment claims to jobless workers, announced a “strike team” Wednesday to address the problems — but also indicated it could take months to catch up to a backlog of unpaid benefits.

The strike team of state officials is being set up to address a debacle at the Employment Development Department that has persisted — without solution — for more than four months. That’s when unemployment claims spiked after state and local government agencies ushered in wide-ranging business shutdowns to combat the coronavirus.

But tucked away in the governor’s announcement was an official acknowledgment that the EDD’s inability to pay unemployment claims has resulted in a massive backlog of unemployed workers in California who haven’t in some cases received any payments.

“There should be no barriers between Californians and the benefits they have earned,”  Newsom said Wednesday. “Unprecedented demand due to job loss during this pandemic paired with an antiquated system have created an unacceptable backlog of claims.” Read More > in The Mercury News

California Forms ‘Strike Team’ to Tackle Unemployment Issues – Facing a flood of complaints from jobless Californians who have been unable to obtain unemployment benefits, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he has formed a “strike team” to address issues with the system and will streamline the process for resolving claims.

The announcement came on the eve of a legislative hearing on problems in the unemployment insurance program at which department officials are expected to be grilled over complaints of computer glitches and clogged phone lines that are preventing claims from being filed.

“There should be no barriers between Californians and the benefits they have earned,” Newsom said in a statement. “Unprecedented demand due to job loss during this pandemic paired with an antiquated system have created an unacceptable backlog of claims. Californians deserve better, and these reform efforts aim to move the [Employment Development] Department in that direction.”

California has processed an unprecedented 8.7 million claims for unemployment benefits since March, when Newsom ordered Californians to stay at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19. That order shut down much of the state’s economy, putting millions out of work.

But many people who lost jobs or income say they have been unable to get the benefits for which they are eligible. They said the EDD’s clogged phone lines have prevented them from reaching a live service representative who can help them resolve problems with claims.

Others complain that the EDD’s old and inadequate computer system has prevented them from completing claims online. Read More > at Governing

Seattle Launches Investigation After Supply Van Full Of Weapons Found Trailing Behind Rioters

Setting the Record Straight on Penis Size – In 2014, researchers asked men to estimate the size of the average erect penis. Their guess? 6.2 inches (15.8 centimeters). That’s actually in line with what numerous scientific studies have reported. But guess what? Those studies are wrong.

Clemson University Professor Bruce M. King, senior author of the textbook Human Sexuality Today, drew attention to this issue in a recent review published to the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.

For years, researchers asked men to self-report the length of their erect penises by measuring along the top from the abdomen to the tip, and over that time, men consistently informed researchers that their members ranged from roughly 6.1 to 6.5 inches.

Can you see the problem with this procedure? Asking men to accurately report the size of their penises is like trying to eclipse the speed of light in a junker car: it’s not gonna happen.

When researchers actually measured erect penises in the lab from representative samples of men, the average length ranged between 5.1 and 5.5 inches. Globally, the real average is probably closer to the bottom of the range.

So the average erect penis is about an inch shorter than what most men think it is. The problem with this disconnect between perception and reality is that it has prompted male dissatisfaction with their genitalia. Surveys suggest that between 45 and 68 percent of men wish they had a larger penis. Forward-thinking male sexual health expert Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld once remarked, “It is not much of an exaggeration to say that penises in [men’s] fantasyland come in only three sizes—large, gigantic, and so big you can barely get them through the doorway.” Read More > at Real Clear Science

California minimum-wage jump to hit virus-battered companies – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday the state would keep in place a planned jump in the state’s minimum wage to $14 an hour next year for larger businesses, saying it would help hard hit lower-income workers even as many companies struggle to survive amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Democratic governor had the authority to suspend the scheduled increase given the state’s troubled economy. Since mid-March, California has processed nearly 6.8 million claims for unemployment as many businesses, especially restaurants and retailers, have been idled or forced to cut back operations while contending with government rules intended to limit the spread of the virus.

For hourly workers, Newsom said the increase represents “the raise they deserve.”

He said many of those workers “are on the front lines of the pandemic, providing child care, working in our hospitals and nursing facilities and making sure there’s food on grocery store shelves.”

But business groups warned that the increase would push even more struggling employers toward collapse, and make it harder for businesses to put furloughed workers back on the job — if those jobs come back at all. Read More > from the Associated Press

Following the Science—Where? – …We know a lot more about the virus—how it’s transmitted and how to treat it—than we did a few months ago. For instance, the coronavirus can spread person-to-person from both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. Dr. Fauci now espouses the opposite of each of his earlier statements, but there is nothing wrong with that. As economist John Maynard Keynes purportedly said, “When the facts change, I change my mind—what do you do, sir?”

The lesson: in evolving public-health emergencies—despite the demand from some politicians to “Listen to the science!”—science alone can’t always determine the best course of action. Policymakers have to balance multiple, competing factors while working with imperfect information and uncertain science. In a pandemic, infectious-disease experts can advise that shutting down the economy will limit the spread of deadly disease. But experts from other fields might warn that the same action will also throw millions out of work and lead to increased deaths of people unable or unwilling to obtain medical care for emergencies and chronic diseases, more suicides, and more drug and alcohol abuse.

Shifting advice from public-health officials can also undermine their public credibility and erode public confidence. It becomes easy to ignore warnings to “follow the science” when the science is fluid. This is particularly true when it becomes clear that the original justification for the advice was misleading. Americans were told that there was no evidence that face masks were protective, or that, at best, they might help protect other people, but not the mask-wearer himself. Now Fauci has explained that the main rationale for discouraging mask use was not really the belief that they don’t work but to preserve an adequate supply of masks for health-care workers. Small wonder that some opponents of mandatory mask-wearing say that they’re not convinced masks are helpful, and that they may even be harmful. They can be forgiven for wondering why masks were necessary and protective for health-care workers but not for them.

In discouraging mask use, Fauci—for decades, the nation’s foremost expert on viral infectious diseases—was not acting as a neutral interpreter of settled science but as a policymaker, concerned with maximizing the utility of the limited supply of a critical item. An economist could have told him that there was no need to misinform the public. Letting market mechanisms work and relaxing counterproductive regulations would ease shortages. Masks for health-care workers would be available if we were willing to pay higher prices; those higher prices, in turn, would elicit more mask production. Read More > at City Journal

Why Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple are Bad for America – On Wednesday, four big tech CEOs — Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — will come face to face with Congress, in a hearing held by Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline. The hearing is one result of a yearlong investigation by Cicilline’s subcommittee into whether these four companies regulate more of the U.S. economy than our public officials do.

For some, this hearing may seem like a series of technical questions about market power, and for others, a mere congressional spectacle. But the stakes are high. This hearing is part of the only major investigation into corporate power by any Congress in recent memory. How this hearing goes, and whether Congress over the next few years develops the confidence to break up and regulate these giants, will in many ways determine whether America remains a self-governing democracy.

That might seem like hyperbole, but it’s not. Until now, the harms of these giants were hidden from the public because they offer free or low-cost services to consumers. But low prices mask a deep threat to our society, starting with an invasive surveillance architecture that has concentrated ad revenue and threatens free expression itself. Two thirds of American counties have no daily newspaper, largely because Google and Facebook have diverted revenue from the free press to themselves. In addition, these entities propagate misinformationharm mental health and promote racial discrimination, with virtually no accountability. Even a giant ad boycott by a host of corporations opposed to Facebook’s hate speech policies drew a response fit for a monopolist: “My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough,” said Zuckerberg. That’s power.

Amazon, meanwhile, has built powers that rival, or exceed, those of the government. In 2004, Jeff Bezos privately told Amazon executives that he wanted to “draw a moat” around the company’s customers. The analogy was clear: Amazon would control access to those customers, becoming the only bridge for hundreds and thousands of other companies to reach those consumers.

The harms here are real. America has lost over a hundred thousand local, independent retail businesses, a drop of 40 percent from 2000 to 2015, largely due to Amazon. And this is not good for consumers; Amazon allows thousands of counterfeit and unsafe products on its marketplace, because it doesn’t have the same liability for products that normal retailers do. Because of its surveillance over its Marketplace, Amazon copies the design of successful products, which destroys the incentive to innovate.

In other words, these four corporations command bridges over which our news, entertainment, goods and services now flow, serving as the digital infrastructure of swaths of the American economy. These dominant platforms, whose market capitalization surpasses the gross domestic product of many large nations, function as the quasi-governmental gatekeepers of America’s commerce and communications. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg once made this point explicitly: “In a lot of ways, Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company.” Read More > at Politico

With silencing of speech, is America entering Orwellian territory? – In 1983, as Apple was about to debut its new Macintosh computer, the company hired English film director Ridley Scott to make what is now one of the most iconic ads in cultural history, “1984.” Taking a page out of George Orwell’s book, the Super Bowl ad was designed as an anti-conformity message, selling the idea that technology empowers individuality and individual thought can change the world.

But it was another Englishman 125 years earlier, whose essay, “On Liberty,” delivered one of the most important rationales for individualism in what he saw as an inherent conflict between tyranny and liberty that continues today. John Stuart Mill argued that speech gives us the opportunity to listen, to debate and understand differing views and ideas. More, not less, speech leads to rationality and liberty.

In too many venues today, the purpose of political speech isn’t to question and debate ideas but rather to ensure ideological conformity dictated by a cancel culture elite that punishes those with “contradictory true thoughts” because those thoughts are seen as incompatible with what amounts to an absolute belief in the infallibility of their own dogma.

Public opinion shows that cancel culture is having its intended effect and not just on conservatives. The latest July 16-18 survey by Winning the Issues shows that the concern and potential fear of consequences for not complying with certain narratives is not limited to conservatives, and may be much more broad-based than assumed.

A majority of the electorate (52 percent) identified with the statement that “true free speech and freedom of belief do not exist in this country today because of political correctness and potential consequences such as losing a job for not conforming to beliefs and narratives being promoted by the media, academia and elites.” Only 34 percent agreed that “free speech and freedom of belief exist in this country” and felt free to speak their minds and express their personal beliefs in the workplace and social settings.

In a 2019 Freedom Forum Institute survey on the First Amendment, almost half the respondents (46 percent) said they were willing to shut down a speaker at a public institution if the appearance would be “likely to offend.” Anyone who values liberty should be concerned that so many Americans are willing to let others restrict their right to free speech and assembly. When one side can effectively stifle the views of the other, that’s not democracy. It’s tyranny. And who gets to decide which thoughts are allowed and which are not? A student mob, the faculty Senate, the university president?  Read More > at Roll Call

‘We’re running out of homes for sale,’ Lake Tahoe brokers say as tech workers flee Bay Area – Lake Tahoe real estate is getting snapped up at a record pace, as San Francisco tech workers flee the city in search of more space and a healthier lifestyle.

A new wave of urban flight is reshaping real estate markets from New York to Chicago and Los Angeles to San Francisco. As part of this shift, Lake Tahoe is seeing unprecedented bidding wars, buying activity and price increases. Brokers say the inventory of homes for sale has shrunk to about one-fifth to one-tenth of the usual levels.

“People are writing all-cash offers for houses, sight unseen,” said Sabrina Belleci, a Lake Tahoe broker with Re/Max. “They just want to get out of the city.” Read More > at CNBC

More Than 300 Female Athletes, Olympians Urge NCAA To Protect Women’s Sports – More than 300 high-profile female athletes signed a letter released Wednesday asking the National College Athletic Association Board of Governors to preserve a “fair and level playing field” for women’s sports.

“True athletic parity for women demands that women’s sports be protected for biological females,” the letter said. “Protecting the integrity of women’s sports has, for decades, played an integral role in remedying past discrimination against women and empowering them to achieve their full athletic potential.”

The letter urges the NCAA not to boycott Idaho over passing the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which requires students to compete in sports based on their biological sex. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged Idaho’s law in a lawsuit representing transgender athlete Lindsay Hecox, and attempted to start a boycott of the state.

The athletes who signed the letter — including world-class competitors as well as college athletes — insisted the issue was one of fairness, not politics. “Fairness for female athletes should not be a political or partisan issue,” they said. “We athletes have diverse views on many topics, but stand united on this fact: protecting the integrity of women’s sports is pro-woman, pro-fairness, and consistent with the purpose and promise of Title IX.” Read More > in The Federalist

California’s Attorney General Decides How Ballot Initiatives Are Summarized. He’s Happy To Abuse This Power. – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is engaging in the Golden State custom of meddling with the wording of ballot initiatives to influence voter behavior.

Ballot initiatives and referendums are supposed to be a way for California voters to bypass entrenched political interests when lawmakers refuse to consider policies that voters support or pass laws that they do not. Yet California’s political class has a long history of putting its thumb on the scale to influence the outcome of the vote. One of those mechanisms is writing the initiative summary. That power is vested in the attorney general, who is beholden to a political party whose work and budget is heavily affected by voters’ behavior.

This November, California voters will have 12 propositions to consider along with all the candidates running for office. But for two of the ballot initiatives, Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra has used his power to subtly control how the initiative is summarized, in one case to help it pass, in the other, to turn voters against it.

Proposition 15 would scale back some of the government limitations of Proposition 13, the decades-old law that severely restrains the ability of state and local governments to raise taxes, particularly on property. Proposition 15 would eliminate the prohibitions on increasing the tax rates on commercial properties. This will lead to likely billions more in revenue for the state as a result of significant tax increases.

But you won’t find any references to tax increases in Becerra’s just-released summary. Instead, the title of Proposition 15 reads that it “increases funding for pubic schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industry property.” To be fair, the full description of the bill does make it clear that the state expects there will be a “net increase in annual property tax revenues of $7.5 billion to $12 billion.” But rather than presenting Proposition 15 as a tax increase, it’s deliberately framed as some sort of market correction, saying it will require that these properties “be taxed based on current market value.” Read More > at Reason

Mystery Seeds Postmarked From China to Be Tested by U.S. Officials – Federal officials are preparing to test seeds that have been appearing in mailboxes across the country to determine whether they could be harmful to U.S. agriculture or the environment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to test the seeds following reports that hundreds of people are receiving such packages in the mail that they didn’t order. Since last week, dozens of states from Florida to Nevada have warned residents about the unsolicited seed packages that appear to be mostly from China. State and federal officials have urged people not to plant the seeds, which they say could be invasive plant species that might threaten native plants and crops, or potentially introduce diseases or harm livestock.

The USDA said Tuesday it is collecting seed packages from recipients to test their contents to “determine if they contain anything that could be of concern.” The agency said it has no evidence the packages are something other than a “brushing scam,” in which people receive unsolicited items from an online seller who then posts fake customer reviews from a verified buyer to boost sales.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that mailing labels on the seed packages were forged and that the country has asked the U.S. to return the packages to China for investigation.

The Office of Indiana State Chemist, located at Purdue University, urged Indiana residents on Tuesday not to plant or even dispose of the seeds, because of the potential harm they could cause to backyard gardens and crops that are key to the agricultural economy. Read More > from The Wall Street Journal

That email asking you to check your voter information? It’s legit – With the prospect of a virtually all-mail election looming this fall, more than 6 million Californians received an email from the secretary of state this week asking them to check online to make sure their voter registration information is up to date.

That sounds like a lot of emails, but California has 20.6 million registered voters, a number larger than the total population of all but two other states. With every active California voter getting a mail ballot for the November presidential contest, election officials need to have updated registration information.

“To make sure you get your ballot, we are asking all California voters to double-check their voter registration status at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov,” the email said. “You can ensure a smooth voting experience by confirming your mailing address.”

These statewide email blasts were sent before the 2018 general election and the March primary and will probably go out again before the Nov. 3 election, state election officials said. Read More > from the San Francisco Chronicle

Contra Costa Supervisors Approve Fines For COVID-19 Health Order Violations – The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday used its emergency powers to pass a new ordinance that establishes fines for violations of COVID-19 public health orders including the wearing of face coverings.

Violations of coronavirus pandemic public health orders can also pertain to inadequate social distancing and group gatherings.

The Board unanimously approved Ordinance No. 2020-21 effective immediately after determining it was necessary to provide an alternative to criminal enforcement of public health orders that will augment the ability of Contra Costa County and other local agencies to ensure compliance with public health orders and slow the spread of COVID-19.

For individual health order violations involving non-commercial activities, the amount of the fine is $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation and $500 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation. For violations involving commercial activity, the ordinance designates a fine of $250 for a first violation, $500 for a second violation and $1,000 for each additional violation within one year of the initial violation.

According to the ordinance, if a violation continues for more than one day, each day counts as a separate violation. Read More > at CBS Local

Scientists Get Closer to Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease – An experimental blood test was highly accurate at distinguishing people with Alzheimer’s disease from those without it in several studies, boosting hopes that there soon may be a simple way to help diagnose this most common form of dementia.

Developing such a test has been a long-sought goal, and scientists warn that the new approach still needs more validation and is not yet ready for wide use.

But Tuesday’s results suggest they’re on the right track. The testing identified people with Alzheimer’s vs. no dementia or other types of it with accuracy ranging from 89% to 98%. Read More > at U.S. News and World Report

These are the 12 ways you can drastically cut your dementia risk – Almost half of all dementia cases could potentially be prevented or delayed by adopting 12 health measures, a major review has found.

The review identified the biggest known risk factors for dementia as smokingexcess alcohol consumptionhigh blood pressureobesitydiabeteshead injurydepressionhearing loss and exposure to air pollution, as well as lack of exerciseeducation and social contact.

Minimising these 12 risks could potentially prevent or delay up to 40 per cent of dementia cases globally, according to the review of the latest evidence by 28 leading dementia experts from around the world. Read More > at New Scientist 

Unions and NGOs call on big brands to stop using forced labor from China – A coalition of labor unions and NGOs on Thursday urged clothing brands and retailers not to exploit labor from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China.

The organizations called on brands to stop sourcing from the Xinjiang region within 12 months.

“The only way brands can ensure they are not profiting from the exploitation is by exiting the region and ending relationships with suppliers propping up this Chinese government system,” Jasmine O’Connor, head of Anti-Slavery International, said in a statement.The Chinese government rounded up 1 to 1.8 million of people in detention and forced-labor camps, committing crimes against humanity such as torture, forced separation of families and compulsory sterilization of women, NGOs wrote in a news release, saying that China was responsible of “the largest internment of an ethnic and religious minority since World War II.”

Nearly the whole apparel industry — including brands such as Adidas, H&M, Lacoste, Nike, Ralph Lauren and Zara — is linked to specific cases of forced labor in the region, the NGOs wrote, referring to investigation and reports by governmental agenciesnews outletsthink tanks and associations. Read More > at Politico

National teacher union supports strikes over reopening plans – One of the nation’s largest teachers unions is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic.

The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans.

In providing its blessing, the union is also offering local chapters access to its financial and legal resources as they navigate a return to the classroom. Union officials said they will provide legal support, communications support and staffing to local chapters that vote to strike.

Although the measure says strikes should be considered only as a “last resort,” it lists conditions the organization wants met for schools to reopen. It says buildings should reopen only in areas with lower virus rates, and only if schools require masks, update ventilation systems and make changes to space students apart. Read More > form the Associated Press

American Towns Don’t Want To Be Big Cities’ ‘Green Energy’ Graveyards – From New York to California, local opposition is thwarting wind and solar projects seen as essential to transitioning from fossil fuels. Many opponents support renewable energy in theory and express concern about climate change. And many landowners have partnered with environmental groups to block or delay natural gas pipelines designed to run through their property.

But enough of them just can’t stomach the outsize “green” projects themselves – wind farms with 500-foot-tall turbines (around the height of the United Nations Secretariat Building) and solar spreads covering many square miles that forever change the idyllic look of rural communities and threaten pristine desert habitat.

The opposition has been brewing for years and now poses a threat to states with plans to rapidly accelerate the buildout to meet ambitious renewable energy goals by 2030. The backlash is powerful because it’s coming from across the political and economic spectrum, including professionals, environmentalists, farmers, activists, and concerned parents.

…Local officials have to set new safety rules for developments with enormous footprints. A typical wind farm with 50 turbines might occupy 15,000 acres, or 23 square miles, which is many times the size of the world’s largest manufacturing plants. The proposed buildout of solar farms in Virginia could require 490 square miles of land (about the size of Los Angeles). Many counties and towns facing public opposition have responded with tough measures, imposing moratoriums or restrictions so onerous that they scare developers away. Read More > in The Federalist

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San Joaquin River: Feeds Stomachs And Souls Of Countless People

From the Escalon Times – July 28,2020

Seven miles into the Ansel Adams Wilderness I got my first view of Thousand Island Lake from the Pacific Crest Trail.

Its numerous namesake rocky islands — many complete with pine trees — broke up the gently wind whipped blue water sparkling below the 12,942-foot prominence of Mt. Banner dotted with several small glaciers.

The lake before me was unlike the 10 others I had passed as I made my way into the High Sierra from June Lake. This was the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River where some of the snowmelt — if it is lucky — will make a 366 mile journey before flowing into Suisun Bay at the Delta’s edge on its way to San Francisco Bay then out the Golden Gate to mingle into oblivion with the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Two days prior I had driven across the San Joaquin River via the Airport Way bridge where I spied a growing sand bar in the walled in channel just 10 miles south of Manteca. The water was more murky than clear. Due to flows propped up by dam releases primarily from its tributaries of the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers, the San Joaquin near the depth of summer almost looked mighty.

You can stand on the water’s edge just a few hundred yards from the Manteca Sportsmen’s Club nestled against the levee along Airport Way and, if you’re lucky, you can hear the river whisper to you as its large and mature flow makes its way behind Mossdale Crossing where it splits into the Old River and newer river channel.

That contrasted sharply with what I heard as I walked to where the San Joaquin River middle fork started in earnest from water that had flowed from Thousand Island Lake and into Garnet Lake. There you could carefully step across the water as the river eagerly picked up speed rushing over an incline of rocks long and steep enough to qualify as a low key waterfall while making a joyous sound that only imperious youth can create.

As I lounged in the sun on a massive outcropping on the lake’s edge I was 105 miles as the crow flies from Manteca where the San Joaquin has punched major holes 11 times since 1929 in levees man has thrown up to protect fertile farmland and now growing cities during abundant periods of snowmelt and rain.

The insanity of man’s attempts to tame the San Joaquin are rooted in the forces that spawned Thousand Island Lake from the once icy underbelly of a glacier that retreated long before even those we identify as indigenous Californians walked along the river 8,000 years ago.

The current course of the present-day San Joaquin was shaped well into the Tertiary Period that ended 2.6 million years ago. It was further reinforced by glaciers that once covered 1,100 of the 1,760 square miles that comprise the San Joaquin River Basin.

Man’s ingenuity has been broken by the San Joaquin 11 times in 91 years, a period of time that is similar to the fine decomposed granite I had brushed away from the rock to rest my bones when it is compared to the whole of Mt. Banner looming on the western horizon.

We tend to take the San Joaquin River for granted except for when we take forays to fish and play in its waters or are loading up the car with valuables to be ready to flee on a moment’s notice should one of the levees inch toward failure during high water flows.

The 1,760-square foot San Joaquin River Basin that the San Joaquin River and its web of tributaries provides with snowmelt helps support what is arguably the most productive agricultural region on earth. The bulk of California’s nearly $50 billion farm production, more than twice that of the nearest state, is produced in the San Joaquin Valley. The valley grows more than 400 commodities as well as two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts.

The ability to feed people has come at a great cost to the San Joaquin River that is among the most heavily dammed and diverted rivers in the West.

Up until a decade ago, a 150 mile segment of the San Joaquin River below the Friant Dam to just before the Merced River joins it five miles northeast of Merced frequently ran dry in the summer and fall.

Diversions were so high that during the 50 years prior to 2010 much of the river south of Merced would go dry.

That started to change a decade ago when an agreement between various agencies to reduce diversions once again made it possible for snowmelt that leaves Thousand Island Lake to possibly make it as far as the Airport Way bridge south of Manteca.

The vast majority of the flow we see pass by rural Manteca and under Interstate 5 comes from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers.

Water flowed year round as late as the mid-19th century without benefit of manmade storage thanks to groundwater seepage from what was once California’s largest natural body of freshwater — Tulare Lake. At one point 50 percent of the San Joaquin River’s summer flow that passed what is now rural Manteca and Lathrop came from Tulare Lake groundwater seepage.

Tulare Lake was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River and the second-largest freshwater lake entirely in the United States based upon surface area.

It at one time covered 690 square miles as recent as 1868. That was after a massive flood in the Great Central Valley and before man started heavy diversions of rivers and streams feeding the lake to help create massive farms and supply water to cities.

How a river basically was allowed to disappear for long periods of time over half a century had a lot to do with where it ran dry in the middle of an intense farm region off of the beaten track. It was out of sight and therefore not on the minds of most people.

Once the San Joaquin River breaks free of the Sierra public access is limited.

Ironically what may help change the stepchild status the San Joaquin River has suffered in the shadow of the mightier and longer Sacramento River whose 400 miles drains much of the north state and its namesake northern portion of the Great Central Valley is an 11,000-home planned community.

River Islands at Lathrop when completed will offer unparalleled access to the San Joaquin River via an 18-mile loop trail on levees surrounding Stewart Tract while the Old River splits off from the main channel.

The Cambay development firm is committed to restoring “benches” — flat areas below the levee on the riverside that flood in high water. It will allow the restoration of trees, fauna, and wildlife that levees largely displaced on the water side.

It will create a situation where more people can easily access the river, walking alongside it from above while taking in the sights.

The more people who appreciate a river the more allies it has in the never-ending struggle to balance the needs of its ecological system with that of civilization.

The San Joaquin helps fill the stomachs of countless people. It also helps feed the souls of those that hike to see its origins in the high Sierra and as it makes it way down to Friant Dam that at 520,500 acre feet is the 18th largest reservoir in California. By comparison New Melones with 2.9 million acre feet on the Stanislaus River that helps support the San Joaquin River is the fourth largest.

Glimpses of what a levee-less San Joaquin River looked like before 98 percent of riparian oaks woodlands were removed for farming and massive dirt berms were put in place can be seen while walking along the Stanislaus River at Caswell State Memorial Park south of Manteca and west of Ripon.

For now the best way to see the river in a different light than a restricted stream between levees once it leaves Friant Dam and until it reaches Suisun Bay is to see it from where it starts its 366 mile trek free of the torturous constraints put in place during the past 150 years.

As impressive as the sun setting on the river as it serenely flows past Mossdale Crossing in Lathrop may be nothing beats the reddish cast on Mt. Banner sparkling with areas of glacial ice and snow on a mid-July evening as Thousand Island Lake creates a melody from clear rippling water as a cooling breeze ushers in nightfall in one of the most stunning palettes Mother Nature created in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

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Register for After School Camp for Kids

The City of Oakley Recreation Division is offering an After School camp for kids in kindergarten though eighth grade on weekday afternoons during the month of August, beginning on Monday, August 3rd. Daily activities will include arts and crafts, outdoor fun, water games, and time for homework. Space is limited, so register soon at the link below.

Register

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Crafting a Blueprint for the Bay Area’s Future

The Plan Bay Area 2050 Draft Blueprint is a 30-year regional vision that seeks to create a more affordable, connected, diverse, healthy and vibrant Bay Area for all. How exactly will it do this? This accessible, informative video breaks down the strategies in the Draft Blueprint to answer that question.

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Virtual Town Hall with East Contra Costa Fire Protection District

 

It’s Fire Season in East County!
Join Oakley Community Leaders & Local Fire Service Leaders for a virtual town hall via Zoom.
East Contra Costa ALERT!Due to severe under-funding, our local fire service, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD), has just 3 fire stations open with a total of 9 firefighters on duty at any given time to cover 250 square miles and 140,000 residents. It’s not enough to keep our community safe. Attend this event to learn more.

Thursday July 30, 2020 7:00 – 8:30 pm

RSVP Link https://bit.ly/2WHZWJv

 

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States Where Unemployment Claims Are Recovering the Quickest – Updated WalletHub Study

Spikes in COVID-19 may threaten future job growth in the U.S., but new unemployment claims last week were still 79% below the peak during the COVID-19 pandemic. To help add some context to this statistic, WalletHub just released updated rankings for the States Whose Unemployment Claims Are Recovering the Quickest, along with accompanying videos and audio files.

To identify which states’ workforces are experiencing the quickest recovery from COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three metrics based on changes in unemployment claims. Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A. To see the states most recovered since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Change in California Unemployment Claims (1=Quickest Recovery, 25=Avg.):

  • 643.94% Change in Unemployment Claims (Latest Week vs Last Year)
    • 292,673 the week of July 13, 2020 vs 39,341 the week of July 15, 2019
    • 21st slowest recovery in the U.S.
  • 697.04% Change in Unemployment Claims (Latest Week vs Start of 2020)
    • 292,673 the week of July 13, 2020 vs 36,720 the week of January 1, 2020
    • 9th slowest recovery in the U.S.
  • 958.68% Change in Unemployment Claims (Since Start of COVID-19 Crisis vs Last Year)
    • 6,779,392 between the week of March 16, 2020 and the week of July 13, 2020 vs 707,159 between the week of March 18, 2019 and the week of July 15, 2019
    • 9th quickest recovery in the U.S.

To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/states-unemployment-claims/72730/.

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Sunday Reading – 07/26/2020

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.

Survey: Majority of Americans Afraid of Expressing Political Beliefs – A majority of Americans say they are worried about facing social or professional consequences for their political views, a new survey from the Cato Institute found.

The survey, conducted by Cato in collaboration with YouGov, found 62 percent of Americans self-censor their political expression out of fear of offending others. Majorities across the political spectrum said they are worried about sharing their political opinions, including 52 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 77 percent of Republicans.

Thirty-one percent of liberals, 30 percent of moderates, and 34 percent of conservatives said they are specifically worried about professional retribution for political speech. The only respondent group with a majority confident in sharing political opinions was the “strong liberal” group, 58 percent of whom said they were confident. Fifty-two percent of respondents who identified as “liberal” said the political climate prevents them from sharing some of their beliefs, while 64 percent of “moderate” respondents and 77 percent of “conservative” and “strongly conservative” respondents said the same.

Respondents with stronger ideological leanings expressed support for punishing business executives who engage in political speech, although the sentiment was higher for strong liberals than strong conservatives. Half of “strong liberals” and 36 percent of “strong conservatives” said they support punishing business executives who donate to the opposing party’s presidential candidate. Read More > in The Washington Free Beacon

Child care is on the verge of collapse in the Bay Area. Can parents go back to work? – A new report from UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment presents the crisis in stark terms. After surveying 953 programs throughout California from June 22 to July 1, it concluded that the state’s attempt to restart the economy “has only escalated the crisis in California child care, exposing providers to the dual threats of health risk and the potential collapse of their programs.”

As the pandemic surges and counties stumble through the start-stop process of reopening, the child care industry — a vital crutch for working parents — is facing financial ruin. The report lays out a grim scene. Roughly a quarter of the programs remain closed, and of those that have opened, 77% have lost income from tuition and 80% now contend with higher cleaning costs.

New social distancing rules have limited most programs to a fraction of their normal capacity, adding to the financial strain and creating a child care shortage just as parents prepare to return to work. Many who relied on public school as a path to child care are now casting about for babysitters, moving back home with grandparents or leaving the workforce altogether. Parents of kindergartners are trying to keep those children in preschool.Yet the coronavirus has also exposed an unsettling social divide, as wealthy parents shell out for tutors and nannies, and lower-income parents compete for a dwindling number of child care spots or subsidies. The child care industry, a patchwork of small businesses and nonprofits run mostly by underpaid women of color, will now have to fill in for public schools that have closed. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Parents’ New Plan for Fall: Import Teachers into Homes – Fed up with remote education, parents who can pay have a new plan for fall: import teachers to their homes. This goes beyond tutoring. In some cases, families are teaming up to form “pandemic pods,” where clusters of students receive professional instruction for several hours each day. It’s a 2020 version of the one-room schoolhouse, privately funded. Weeks before the new school year will start, the trend is a stark sign of how the pandemic will continue to drive inequity in the nation’s education system. But the parents planning or considering this say it’s an extreme answer to an extreme situation.

And this weekend, education writer JoAnne Jacobs shared a post from a Berkeley, California, mom that read in part:

If you are not a parent/in a mom’s group, you may not be aware that a kind of historic thing is going on right now. This week, there has been a tipping point in Bay Area families looking to form homeschooling pods. Or maybe ‘boiling point’ might be a better term.

Sound niche? It’s actually insanely involved and completely transformational on a lot of levels. Essentially, within the span of the last 48 hrs. or so, thousands of parents (far and away mostly moms because that’s how these things work) are scrambling through an absolute explosion of Facebook groups, matchups, spreadsheets, etc. to scramble to form homeschooling pods.

These are clusters of 3-6 families with similar aged (and sometimes same-school) children co-quarantined with each other, who hire one tutor for in-person support for their kids. Sometimes the tutor in question is full time and sometimes part time/outdoor classes, depending on the age of kids and individual circumstances … Suddenly teachers who are able to co-quarantine with a pod are in incredible demand.

This is maybe the fastest and most intense PURELY GRASSROOTS economic hard pivot I’ve seen, including the rise of the masking industry a few months ago. Startups have nothing compared to thousands of moms on Facebook trying to arrange for their kids’ education in a crisis with zero school district support.

I swear that in a decade they are going to study this because I have never seen an industry crop up and adapt so fast. Trends that would typically take months or years to form are developing on the literal scale of hours.

The writer goes on to acknowledge the equity elephant in the room: Only families with means are going to participate in this trend, absent programs to assist disadvantaged students: Read More > at redefinED

Office Owners Who Want Workers Back Face A Massive Hurdle: Schools – For weeks, companies have been gradually and carefully reopening their offices in a world still combating a pandemic. But efforts to bring workers back are getting more complicated as public school systems across the country prepare to start the school year with varying degrees of online and in-person learning.

Some businesses are trying to find alternatives for their employees’ school-aged children so their parents can return to their office. In other cases, parents are scrambling to find their own alternatives, including private schools and tutors.

But, like in most aspects of American life, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the inequality inherent in a remote school environment, especially among blue-collar workers.

School districts across the country have already begun to delay school openings or reinstating distance learning for portions of the year. Some of the largest school districts in North America have already led the way in these decisions, including Los Angeles Unified School District, Atlanta Public Schools, the Houston Independent School District and the New York City Department of Education, the country’s largest public school district.

One of the nation’s largest for-profit child care organizations, Primrose Schools, is seeing a boost in interest from large companies asking it to operate on-campus preschool and even elementary schools for employees’ children, said Annette Heng, who oversees Primrose’s more than 400 schools across the nation. Primrose also operates private schools for the workers of some Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble. Read More > at Bisnow

SF Mayor London Breed shreds white progressives for projecting beliefs onto city’s Black residents – San Francisco Mayor London Breed recently spoke with Vogue about certain white progressives involved in the recent demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, and did not have very nice things to say.

Breed stated that while she’s happy more white Americans are now supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement — recent polling shows upwards of 60% of white Americans support the protests and calls for police reform — she has “a real problem with the takeover of the movement by white people.”

“I want people to respect the opinions and feelings of Black people and allow us to decide what is in our best interest,” Breed told Vogue. “I talk about the plan to reduce the police budget and reallocate those resources to the African American community, and a large number of non-Blacks reached out to tell me what I should do for the Black community. Then, they say what their community deserves because of their challenges as well. That really bothered me. The Black community [of San Francisco] is capable of speaking for ourselves and deciding what’s in our best interest.”

Polling from the Pew Research Center has shown that just 22% of African-Americans want police funding “decreased a lot,” with the overwhelming majority favoring small decreases, no change, or even increases. Breed’s proposal to reallocate some funding was met with pushback from some white progressives who accused her of not going far enough. This prompted protests at Breed’s home, protests she was not happy about. Read More > at SFGate

How to Reopen the Economy Without Killing Teachers and Parents – The debate about reopening schools seems to pit parents and their employers against teachers. But there is actually a solution that would let grown-ups go back to work, educate kids and keep everyone safe at the same time.

More than 140,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, and there are growing outbreaks in many states. No other developed nation has sent children back to school with the virus at these levels. Data about transmission in classrooms is limited. Many teachers have health risks and are understandably afraid to return. The safest course would be for kindergartners through 12th graders to continue with online courses in the fall.

But what about the millions of kids from disadvantaged backgrounds whose homes are not conducive to online learning and who rely on schools for meals? And what about parents who cannot work from home and watch over them?

There is a better way: Allow schools to offer only virtual classes this fall, and convert schools and other large unused spaces into Safe Centers for Online Learning. We could call them not schools, but “SCOLs.”

Students who can keep learning at home should do so. As a result, the centers would not be crowded and it would be possible to maintain social distancing.

Staff members would simply help students connect to online courses provided by their schools — they would not need to be teachers themselves with subject matter expertise… Read More > in The New York Times

At SoCal’s drive-in concerts, fans, artists and promoters make the best of a live-music apocalypse – If you closed your eyes and leaned back in your car seat Saturday night at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, you’d have smelled the cool salt air and heard the manic ska-funk-punk of L.A.’s Fishbone and Ozomatli. You’d have almost felt like live music was back to normal in Southern California.

At the show, one of the region’s first drive-in concerts bringing live music back during the COVID-19 pandemic, cars encircled the main stage, plonked in the middle of the outdoor venue’s vast seaside parking lot (fans in the back could view the show on big LED screens).

Some families, donning face masks, climbed on the roofs of their cars to get an optimal view, while others stayed in, clandestinely tailgating with takeout pizza. Over a well-synced FM radio signal, Fishbone played its ageless hits — “Party at Ground Zero,” “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” — with extra verve to rouse those in attendance in the 500 cars at the show. Concertgoers honked their approval at the end of songs. Read More > at Yahoo News!

When Choosing What To Believe, People Often Choose Morality Over Hard Evidence – What happens when moral beliefs collide with documented evidence? For many people, it means doubling down on whichever compliments their worldview.

It’s not hard to find evidence of this phenomenon in everyday life. Now, new research from Princeton University cognitive science researcher Corey Cusimano and Princeton psychologist Tania Lombrozo explore more about how and why this seems to be.

In a pre-publication paper titled “Morality justifies motivated reasoning in the folk ethics of belief,” Cusimano and Lombrozo report that people “treat moral considerations as legitimate grounds for believing propositions that are unsupported by objective, evidence-based reasoning.” The researchers also found that people who deemed beliefs morally good also considered those same beliefs logically sound, even when the “good” belief lacked supportive evidence.

“Across three studies, many people prescribed motivated reasoning to others, reported that morally good beliefs require less evidence to be justified, and that, in some circumstances, a morally good belief can be justified even in the absence of sufficient evidence,” Cusimano and Lombrozo write. Read More > at Reason

Restaurant Revolution: How the Industry Is Fighting to Stay Alive – It’s never been easy to make money in the restaurant industry. A highly fragmented sector dominated by 70 percent independent owners and operators, the average restaurant’s annual revenue hovers around $1 million and generates an operating profit of just 4-5 percent. A financially sustainable business model for small independents is often elusive.

So when a crisis of the magnitude of the COVID-19 global pandemic forces restaurants to close, and their revenue drops to zero overnight, things get particularly dire. Unlike the oligopolistic airline industry, where a few large firms can easily band together to lobby for government support, the concerns of restaurant owners and the unique realities and concerns of their industry remain largely unaddressed by government programs designed to help small businesses.

Two months into the pandemic, 40 percent of America’s restaurants were shuttered and 8 million employees out of work—three times the job losses seen by any other industry. While some restaurants began reopening in May and June, most featured only takeout, delivery, or outdoor dining options due to local restrictions. The number of diners in June remained down more than 65 percent year over year, and the National Restaurant Association projected an industry revenue shortfall of $240 billion for the year.

Second-order effects of restaurant closures ripple through the American economy, bringing economic pain to farmers, fishermen, foragers, ranchers, manufacturers, and other producers who supply the industry. Equally hit are supply chain partners who move goods across the country.

…Restaurants are universally labor intensive—by any productivity metric they rank among the least productive industries. Labor is required to both produce food in the kitchen and serve to consumers in the dining area. On average, restaurants spend 30 percent of their revenue on labor. With increasing focus on fair wages and legislated wage increases, restaurants may easily exceed that average.

…At the outset of the crisis, most restaurants had only two to three weeks of operating reserves and those reserves were quickly exhausted. With no end date in sight of mandatory closures, owners moved quickly to furlough or layoff almost all staff, maintaining skeleton crews. Thomas Keller, whose restaurant group includes the French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in Manhattan, employed 1,200 staff in his 13 restaurants, but by mid-March staffing was reduced to 18 employees across all restaurants.

…Throughout the crisis, restaurants and regulatory authorities have discussed game plans for reopening. Prominent features of these plans include reconfiguring floor plans to enable physical distancing while acknowledging that the oft-cited six-foot rule may not be practical for restaurant dining, utilizing transparent screens or other physical barriers to demarcate table separation, limiting the number of individuals at each table, expanding outdoor seating, health and safety training and staggered shifts for employees, more flexible sick day policies, frequent and more rigorous sanitation of all surfaces, touch-free interactions between customers and waitstaff, scanning QR codes, single-use menus or contactless, mobile-device ordering and payment, waitstaff screening and gloving, and many more. Read More > from Harvard Business School

Even More Now Oppose Defunding Police, Fear More Violence – Opposition is growing to efforts by the political left to defund the police, with most Americans convinced that such a move will lead to more violent crime.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 66% of American Adults now oppose reducing the police budget in the community where they live to channel that money into more social services. That’s up from 59% in early June when we first asked this question. Just 23% favor defunding the cops where they live, down from 27% in the previous survey. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Calls for defunding the police are being aggressively championed by the Black Lives Matter movement, but even among black Americans, 57% are opposed to defunding the police in their home community. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of whites and 62% of other minority adults share that view.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all Americans believe that violent crime is likely to go up in communities that defund the police. Only 12% think violent crime is more likely to go down, while 20% predict it will remain about the same. Read More > from Rasmussen Reports  

Because of COVID-19, Fewer Laws – Back in April, I wondered on this page if the pandemic’s effect on the legislature shutting down the capitol during an extended break would result in fewer bills passed and signed into law. Apparently, that will be the case.

On top of the extraordinary month-long lockdown in March, the legislature was forced to extend its summer recess two weeks because some members and staffers contracted the COVID-19 virus. With an end of the session deadline of August 31 coming fast, Democratic leaders want members to consider pulling bills so that they get through legislative business before the end date.

The legislature may seek to extend the session, but this is an election year, and while in California few seats turn over, politicians want to conduct a campaign rather than sit in Sacramento—although campaigning this year will be different than any other.

Of all the bad news that comes out of the months long battle against the coronavirus, maybe the idea that fewer laws coming from the legislature can be viewed in a positive vein.

I’ve made the assertion before that there are too many bills and too many laws for any citizen to follow. Far fewer laws should be drafted so the “lawmakers” will have time to deliberate over them. And while they are at it, they could remove a number of laws from the books that have little resonance in this day and age. Read More > at Fox and Hounds

Report: Millennials, Generation Z Turn To Social Media First For Health Advice – A concerning new study reports the majority of millennials and members of Generation Z rely first on social media platforms for their health information. A situation made necessary partly by quarantine conditions, it would indicate those age groups are at the mercy of social media sources’ sometimes dubious accuracy.

The information from Healthline.com was gathered in a two-wave, online qualitative study in late April and early June 2020 with people living with chronic health problems. The sources represented mix of genders, ages and ethnicities, and come from 39 different states in the U.S.

The research focused first on people living with chronic health conditions and how they are impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Its primary data point makes it clear that health-centric web pages such as its home site and WebMD are the most popular general resource for those living with health conditions as 76% of those surveyed go to them first.

However, amongst those younger adults questioned, social media platforms become the first source of medical information. Millennials (62%) and Generation Z (52%) go to the likes of influencers on Twitter, Facebook and other apps with medical concerns. Generation X ranked third behind its younger peers at 44%. Read More > at Forbes

CIF delays start of all high school sports; football will end in April – There is still a chance that high school football will be played in California in the coming school year.

But teams will have to wait until December to take the field for the first time, there currently isn’t a plan in place for state championships, and the season isn’t expected to end until the middle of April.

The California Interscholastic Federation — the governing body for high school athletics in the state — Monday announced a modified schedule for its sports, all of which have been delayed from one to four months by the coronavirus pandemic. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Court Upholds Simple Majority Threshold for Special Tax Voter Initiatives – The Court of Appeal in San Francisco has issued a blockbuster decision on the threshold needed for special taxes imposed through a citizens’ initiative. In City and County of San Francisco v. All Persons Interested in the Matter of Proposition C, the court held that a two-thirds voting majority is only necessary for special tax initiatives put forth by governments. In the case of a special tax measure placed on the ballot by voters, a simple majority will suffice.

The parties may now petition for a rehearing or for a review by the California Supreme Court.

To see how the Court’s decision will impact local governments Read More >  here.

Walmart will close stores on Thanksgiving, ending a Black Friday tradition that drew huge crowds – Walmart on Tuesday said it planned to keep all its stores closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The closures, affecting both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, mark a huge departure from Walmart’s tradition of kicking off Black Friday in-store doorbuster sales on the Thanksgiving holiday, which falls on November 26 this year.

Walmart typically opens its stores during regular hours on Thanksgiving and ropes off the parts devoted to Black Friday sales and merchandise until doorbuster sales kick off in the evening.

Last year, Walmart launched its doorbuster sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. These deals typically draw huge crowds to Walmart’s stores. Read More > at Business Insider

The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19 – The clues have been mounting for a while. First, scientists discovered patients who had recovered from infection with Covid-19, but mysteriously didn’t have any antibodies against it. Next it emerged that this might be the case for a significant number of people. Then came the finding that many of those who do develop antibodies seem to lose them again after just a few months.

In short, though antibodies have proved invaluable for tracking the spread of the pandemic, they might not have the leading role in immunity that we once thought. If we are going to acquire long-term protection, it looks increasingly like it might have to come from somewhere else.

But while the world has been preoccupied with antibodies, researchers have started to realise that there might be another form of immunity – one which, in some cases, has been lurking undetected in the body for years. An enigmatic type of white blood cell is gaining prominence. And though it hasn’t previously featured heavily in the public consciousness, it may well prove to be crucial in our fight against Covid-19. This could be the T cell’s big moment.

T cells are a kind of immune cell, whose main purpose is to identify and kill invading pathogens or infected cells. It does this using proteins on its surface, which can bind to proteins on the surface of these imposters. Each T cell is highly specific – there are trillions of possible versions of these surface proteins, which can each recognise a different target. Because T cells can hang around in the blood for years after an infection, they also contribute to the immune system’s “long-term memory” and allow it to mount a faster and more effective response when it’s exposed to an old foe.

Several studies have shown that people infected with Covid-19 tend to have T cells that can target the virus, regardless of whether they have experienced symptoms. So far, so normal. But scientists have also recently discovered that some people can test negative for antibodies against Covid-19 and positive for T cells that can identify the virus. This has led to suspicions that some level of immunity against the disease might be twice as common as was previously thought.

Most bizarrely of all, when researchers tested blood samples taken years before the pandemic started, they found T cells which were specifically tailored to detect proteins on the surface of Covid-19. This suggests that some people already had a pre-existing degree of resistance against the virus before it ever infected a human. And it appears to be surprisingly prevalent: 40-60% of unexposed individuals had these cells. Read More > from the BBC

Has the Fed Discovered a Cure for Displaced Workers? – In recent months, an estimated 40 million Americans have been displaced from work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And economists predict that 40 percent of the job losses will be permanent.

That means that to regain their economic footing, millions of displaced workers will have to find their way to not just new jobs, but entirely new positions and sectors. Displaced restaurant workers will be challenged to apply their skills as a contact tracer. A hotel manager will need to translate customer service skills to consider managing an urgent care facility.

Making the connection between a worker’s existing capabilities and entirely new roles will require a match between an individual’s work history, and the demands of jobs that may be adjacent or closer than anyone expected. It will be especially challenging for low-wage earners, who face long documented gaps in access to the social capital required to navigate their way to and through a maze of education and training providers to find programs that are both the right match for them — and aligned with local labor market demand. A one-size-fits all approach won’t work — it will require personalization.

According to a groundbreaking report from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland the advent of personalized workforce development may soon offer a cure for laid-off workers. The study looks across 33 US metro areas at recent job data and to explain how an individual’s unique skills history, paired with more targeted training, might enable them to make the leap to a new occupation with at least a 10 percent salary bump.

By analyzing data from 60 million job postings in 33 major metro areas, researchers were able to spot patterns that help us understand the fastest paths to higher wages based on a similarity score reflecting the skills needed for a pair of occupations. The scores provide displaced workers with an unprecedented, real-time understanding of the skills required to jump to a new career. It helps them to understand how their unique skills and experience, paired with training, can help to cure their unemployment woes. Read More > at Real Clear Policy

Nike, Other Global Brands, Complicit in China Slave Labor – In March, the non-partisan Australian Strategic Policy Institute, in a report titled “Uyghurs for Sale,” accused Beijing of forcing more than 80,000 Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to produce products for Nike and 82 other brands.

The report’s accusations against Nike are damning. “A factory in eastern China that manufacturers shoes for U.S. company Nike is equipped with watchtowers, barbed-wire fences, and police guard boxes,” it noted…. There, people have been kept against their will in inhumane conditions. This facility, a Nike supplier for more than three decades, produces approximately eight million pairs of shoes each year.

U.S. law provides that products made with forced labor can be seized, but those made in horrific conditions in China and elsewhere routinely are cleared through Customs and end up on the shelves of American retailers.

“Slave labor.”

That is the term U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used on July 16 when speaking about China to television anchor Bill Hemmer on his Fox News show.

The polite phrase is “forced labor.” America’s top diplomat, however, was dropping the diplomacy and employing America’s most powerful weapon: Unvarnished truth.

The unvarnished — and horrific — truth is that the Chinese party-state has institutionalized slavery, ramped it up to industrial scale, and offered slaves to foreign companies. Moreover, compounding its crime, China picks its slaves from racial minority groups inside its borders. Read More > from the Gatestone Institute 

KFC hopes to develop the first lab-made chicken nuggets – The quest for lab-grown meat is extending to a staple of the fast food scene. The Verge reports KFC has teamed up with Moscow’s 3D Bioprinting Solutions with the goal of producing the world’s first lab-made chicken nuggets. The Russian firm is developing an additive printing technique using chicken cells and plant material that, ideally, recreates the “taste and texture” of natural chicken while keeping animal involvement to a minimum. KFC, meanwhile, will provide bread, spices and other ingredients to match the restaurant’s “signature” flavor.

KFC hopes to have a final nugget design ready for testing in Moscow by fall 2020.

As elsewhere, the lab-produced meat promises numerous advantages. It’s more environmentally friendly, as it doesn’t require nearly as much resources — KFC points to a study suggesting it requires 100 times less farm land, and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 25 times. They’re also more ethical by avoiding harm to animals, and healthier due to the lack of chemicals. Read More > at Engadget

Bay Area of 2050 will be more crowded — planners want to make it more equitable, too – For the first time, the Bay Area’s largest planning agencies have mapped what the region might look like in 2050 — and it’s a place where new jobs and housing increasingly migrate to the South Bay.

The draft document known as Plan Bay Area 2050 anticipates less growth in San Francisco and Oakland than had been forecast in the past — though both would continue to develop — and more in San Jose and nearby parts of Santa Clara County. It also warns that even with governmental and investment strategies to try and preserve a diverse population, lower-income residents will still be under pressure from housing and transportation costs.

Plan Bay Area 2050 — which still must go through public review and receive final approval — is the latest in a series of regional plans dating to 1970. But this one could have more impact than most: Funds related to needs such as bay restoration and transportation upgrades increasingly are allocated on a regional basis. The state requires the report every five years to show regulators how the region will try to reduce the Bay Area’s share of greenhouse gas emissions in coming years. Overall, the plan anticipates that the region’s population will grow from roughly 7.9 million in 2020 to 10.3 million by 2050. The number of jobs within the nine counties would climb from 4.1 million to 5.4 million. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

More on the Twitter breach – In this post we summarize the situation as of July 17 at 8:35p Pacific Time. The following information is what we know as of today and may change as our investigation and outside investigations continue. Additionally, as the investigation of this incident is unfolding, there are some details — particularly around remediation — that we are not providing right now to protect the security of the effort. We will provide more details, where possible in the future, so that the community and our peers may learn and benefit from what happened.

At this time, we believe attackers targeted certain Twitter employees through a social engineering scheme. What does this mean? In this context, social engineering is the intentional manipulation of people into performing certain actions and divulging confidential information.

The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections. As of now, we know that they accessed tools only available to our internal support teams to target 130 Twitter accounts. For 45 of those accounts, the attackers were able to initiate a password reset, login to the account, and send Tweets. We are continuing our forensic review of all of the accounts to confirm all actions that may have been taken. In addition, we believe they may have attempted to sell some of the usernames.

For up to eight of the Twitter accounts involved, the attackers took the additional step of downloading the account’s information through our “Your Twitter Data” tool. This is a tool that is meant to provide an account owner with a summary of their Twitter account details and activity. We are reaching out directly to any account owner where we know this to be true. None of the eight were verified accounts.

The most important question for people who use Twitter is likely — did the attackers see any of my private information? For the vast majority of people, we believe the answer is, no. For the 130 accounts that were targeted, here is what we know as of today.

  • Attackers were not able to view previous account passwords, as those are not stored in plain text or available through the tools used in the attack.
  • Attackers were able to view personal information including email addresses and phone numbers, which are displayed to some users of our internal support tools.
  • In cases where an account was taken over by the attacker, they may have been able to view additional information. Our forensic investigation of these activities is still ongoing.

We are actively working on communicating directly with the account-holders that were impacted. Read More > from Twitter

Walmart partners with Yahoo Mail for online grocery program – Walmart Inc. and Yahoo Mail have partnered for an online grocery program that will allow customers to fill their Walmart shopping cart directly from their email. “Groceries from Walmart” is available now on the Yahoo Mail iOS app and website, and will be available on Android later this year. Yahoo Mail is owned by Verizon Media. “Because of the unprecedented coronavirus challenge, online grocery shopping is now the new normal and Verizon Media is well positioned to take advantage of the behavior shifts,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media, in a statment. Last year, Yahoo Mail launched Grocery View, which offers users deals at their local grocery store. This option will allow customers to load up a Walmart basket and pick up items from the nearest location. Read More > at MarketWatch

Babies’ Mysterious Resilience to Coronavirus Intrigues Scientists – As the new coronavirus continues to burn through populations, studies are beginning to shed light on its impact on infants. And so far the findings have been promising for parents and researchers alike.

The initial data suggest that infants make up a small fraction of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released in April reported 398 infections in children under one year of age—roughly 0.3 percent of all U.S. cases at that time for which age was known. In addition, most of these cases appear mild in nature: a recent review published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics that looked at infants up to the age of six months found that those who were infected would typically exhibit only a slight cough, runny nose or fever, which disappeared in a week or so. Other studies have suggested similar minor reactions. The question is: Why?

One of the favored hypotheses focuses on how easily the new coronavirus can gain access to the body’s tissues. Infection occurs when particles of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, enter human cells through a receptor called ACE2 and hijack those cells’ machinery to make copies of themselves. These copies then invade new cells. The thinking is that infant cells have only a few ACE2 receptors, whereas those of an elderly person might harbor thousands. With fewer available points of entry in a baby, it could be harder for the virus to break in. Alternatively—and perhaps counterintuitively—an infant’s immune system might simply be too immature to attack SARS-CoV-2. Given that most of the damage in severe COVID-19 cases seems to be caused by strong immune responses, that immaturity may work in babies’ favor.

Although some of the details still need to be teased out, it is clear that infants are uniquely resilient to COVID-19—a finding that could aid in treatment development efforts. Scientists have already identified drugs that block certain inflammatory pathways in the body, and several are in clinical trials in COVID-19 patients. Another possibility is that drugs that target the ACE2 receptor could be the key to a vaccine or treatment. Read More > at Scientific American 

Historic Moon Landing Footage Has Been Enhanced by AI, And The Results Are Incredible – A photo and film restoration specialist, who goes by the name of DutchSteamMachine, has worked some AI magic to enhance original Apollo film, creating strikingly clear and vivid video clips and images.

Take a look at this enhanced footage from an Apollo 16 lunar rover traverse with Charlie Duke and John Young, where the footage that was originally shot with 12 frames per second (FPS) has been increased to 60 FPS. Read More > at Science Alert

‘Pent-Up Supply’ Floods San Francisco Housing Market, Most Since Housing Bust – There is a lot of discussion about the low levels of inventory for sale, as potential sellers have pulled their homes off the market or are not wanting to list their homes at the moment, waiting for the pandemic to blow over, or waiting for more certainty or whatever, or their mortgage is now in forbearance and they don’t want to make a move.

…But this is not the case everywhere. So we’re going to look at San Francisco, one of the most expensive housing markets in the US, based on weekly data that was compiled by real-estate brokerage Redfin, from local multiple listing service (MLS) and Redfin’s own data, updated at the end of the week.

San Francisco is now flooded with homes for sale. “Active listings” surged to 1,344 homes in the week ended July 5, up 65% from the same week last year, and the highest number since the housing bust amid a 145% year-over-year surge in “new listings.”

There normally is a seasonal surge in active listings after Labor Day that peaks in late October. But this month, the surge of active listings (1,344) has already blown by those peaks in October, including the multi-year peak of 1,296 in October 2019. This is “pent-up supply” coming on the market at the wrong time of the year when supply normally declines. Read More > at Seeking Alpha

Does Every Emergency Call Require Police Response? – Less than 10 percent of police responses involve a violent crime. Rethinking policing involves more than how police behave on the job. Often, they may not be the right people to answer calls of distress.

As the conversation about police reform heats up, one point of agreement between law enforcement and activists has come into focus: more often than not, police aren’t sent out to stop crime. Instead, they are dispatched to deal with citizens in distress, community members who need the kinds of help that law enforcement is not designed to provide.

recent analysis of calls for police service in 10 cities across the U.S. revealed that only about 1 percent involved violent crime. Other reports have put the figure at about 10 percent.

Today’s policing can involve “bad guys” who are more defenseless than dangerous. A 2015 report from the Los Angeles city administrative officer estimated that arrests of homeless persons accounted for over 14 percent of all arrests made by police in a year, at a cost of $80 million. At that time, the homeless population was estimated at 23,000; the current number is more than 53,000.

…Subramanian wants to see investments in pilot projects, based on best practices and research regarding innovative approaches, that go beyond business as usual to get at problems such as addiction, educational failure, homelessness, and unemployment that breed trouble in communities. Read More > at Governing

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2020’s Most & Least Educated Cities in America – WalletHub Study

With in-person learning threatened by COVID-19 and higher levels of education correlating with higher earnings, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2020’s Most & Least Educated Cities in America, as well as accompanying videos.

To determine where the most educated Americans are choosing to settle down, WalletHub compared the 150 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across 11 key metrics. The data set ranges from the share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to the racial education gap to the quality of the public-school system.

Most Educated Cities Least Educated Cities
1. Ann Arbor, MI 141. Fresno, CA
2. San Jose, CA 142. Salinas, CA
3. Washington, DC 143. Ocala, FL
4. Durham, NC 144. Stockton, CA
5. San Francisco, CA 145. Hickory, NC
6. Madison, WI 146. Modesto, CA
7. Boston, MA 147. Bakersfield, CA
8. Seattle, WA 148. McAllen, TX
9. Austin, TX 149. Brownsville, TX
10. Bridgeport, CT 150. Visalia, CA

Key Stats

  • The Ann Arbor, MI, metro area has the highest share of bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older, 55.20 percent, which is 3.8 times higher than in Visalia-Porterville, CA, the metro area with the lowest at 14.40 percent.
  • The Modesto, CA, metro area has the highest racial education gap, with the share of black bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older at 21.45 percent, compared with 10.74 percent for their white counterparts, a difference of 10.72 percent favoring black people.
  • For comparison, the national average for black people with the same attributes is 13.65 percent and it is 20.92 percent for their white counterparts.
  • The Anchorage, AK, metro area has the highest gender education gap, with the share of female bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 and older at 21.41 percent, compared with 18.24 percent for their male counterparts, a difference of 3.18 percent favoring women.
  • For comparison, the national average for women with the same attributes is 19.74 percent and it is 19.13 percent for their male counterparts.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-and-least-educated-cities/6656/

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A Pictorial Update for the Contra Costa Logistic Center in Oakley

Work on building one is progressing. It is the smallest of the five to be built.

The slab has been poured for building two. The walls are being formed on the slab, they will be poured and then lifted. The pictures with rebar are the walls.

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What’s Open in Contra Costa

From the office of Supervisor Diane Burgis

Watch a video excerpt of the CCHS update from the July 14, 2020 Board of Supervisors meeting

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