Where’s the Bacon

Proposition 12, California’s Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was approved in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote. The voters enacted Prop 12 for the stated purposes of treating farm animals humanely and taking precautionary measures to promote food safety by reducing animal density in confined areas. Specific requirements for veal calves and egg-laying hens went into effect on January 1, 2020.  The final phase of Prop 12, with additional requirements for egg-laying hens and a minimum confinement space of 24 square feet for breeding pigs, goes into effect on January 1, 2022.

Industry lawsuits opposing the initiative failed, but grocers and restauranteurs are now suing to force a 28-month delay. Critics including some lawmakers of both parties have called for putting off enforcement until 2024 for fear prices will rise and jobs will be lost.

California is allowing the continued sale of pork processed under the old rules, which proponents say should blunt any shortage and price surge.

California’s restaurants and groceries use about 255 million pounds of pork a month, but its farms produce only 45 million pounds, according to Rabobank, a global food and agriculture financial services company.

If half the pork supply was suddenly lost in California, bacon prices would jump 60%, meaning a $6 package would rise to about $9.60, according to a study by the Hatamiya Group, a consulting firm hired by opponents of the state proposition.

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Meteor showers, eclipses, full moons: All of the reasons to look up in 2022

From CNN

Full moons and supermoons

There are 12 full moons in 2022, and two of them qualify as supermoons.

Here is the list of full moons for 2022, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:

  • January 17: Wolf moon
  • February 16: Snow moon
  • March 18: Worm moon
  • April 16: Pink moon
  • May 16: Flower moon
  • June 14: Strawberry moon – Supermoon
  • July 13: Buck moon – Supermoon
  • August 11: Sturgeon moon
  • September 10: Harvest moon
  • October 9: Hunter’s moon
  • November 8: Beaver moon
  • December 7: Cold moon

Lunar and solar eclipses

There will be two total lunar eclipses and two partial solar eclipses in 2022, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

A partial solar eclipse on April 30 can be seen by those in southern South America, the southeastern Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic peninsula. Another one on October 25 will be visible to those in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeastern Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India and western China. Neither of the partial solar eclipses will be visible from North America.

A total lunar eclipse will be visible to those in Europe, Africa, South America and North America (excepting northwestern regions) between 9:31 p.m. ET on May 15 and 2:52 a.m. ET on May 16.

Another total lunar eclipse will also be on display for those in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America on November 8 between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET — but the moon will be setting for those in eastern regions of North America.

Meteor showers

The new year kicks off with the Quadrantid meteor shower, which peaks during the first week of January.

It’s the first of 12 meteor showers throughout the year — although the next one, the Lyrid meteor shower, doesn’t peak until April.Here are the other showers to watch for in 2022:

  • Lyrids: April 21-22
  • Eta Aquariids: May 4-5
  • Southern delta Aquariids: July 29-30
  • Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
  • Perseids: August 11-12
  • Orionids: October 20-21
  • Southern Taurids: November 4-5
  • Northern Taurids: November 11-12
  • Leonids: November 17-18
  • Geminids: December 13-14
  • Ursids: December 21-22
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Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Project

Concord First Partners, LLC, the developer, has created a newsletter about their planning efforts and community outreach. Here’s their first…Read on…

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New year, new COVID rules

From CalMatters

California appears to have settled on a new strategy to combat COVID-19: Instead of instituting lockdowns in response to the omicron variant, which has helped push the statewide testing positivity rate to nearly 16% and prompted a spike in hospitalizations, state and local leaders are mandating stronger safety measures to keep businesses and schools open. Some key examples:

But there’s one key exception when it comes to tougher COVID rules: prisons. Newsom’s administration is continuing to fight a federal judge’s order mandating vaccines for prison guards, saying increased testing is sufficient. But attorneys representing inmates contend that many prison workers are failing to get tested twice a week as required — and note that prisoners must be fully vaccinated by today if they want to have in-person or family visits.

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Rainfall Totals In Oakley for December 2021

Average precipitation in December

2.41″

Rainfall Totals in December 2021

5.23″

Accumulated Monthly Totals through December 2021

8.79″

Average annual precipitation

13.22

Percent of average YTD

189.85%

Weather data – https://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/oakley/california/united-states/usca2070

A rainfall year season is defined as the 12-month period beginning July 1 that continues through June 30 of the subsequent year.

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Sunday Reading – 01/02/2022

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

Here’s Why California Is Losing Population for the First Time – Net domestic migration hit a decade-long low, ballooning from a loss of 34,000 in 2012 to 277,000 in 2021. Over the last 10 years, California lost more than 1.625 million net domestic migrants—more than the population of Philadelphia. Altogether, 2.7 million more people—a population larger than the cities of San Francisco, San Diego and Anaheim combined—have moved to other states from California than the other way around over the last 20 years, and immigration is no longer making up the difference.

Housing costs, according to the recent Berkeley poll, was by far the biggest factor cited by people wanting to move, with more than 70 percent of Californians considering them “a very serious issue.” Since 1970, income-adjusted median home values in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose have increased to more than double those of major metros outside California. Even the less costly interior markets of Riverside-San Bernardino, Sacramento, and Fresno are increasingly unaffordable compared to metros outside California.

This is particularly critical for young families. Despite pundits suggesting otherwise, the vast majority of millennials and the Z generation would like to become homeowners. According to one recent study, the median family in San Jose or San Francisco would need 125 years (150 in Los Angeles) to collect a down payment; in Atlanta or Houston the figure is 12 years. According to recent AEI survey, California is home to six of the nation’s worst markets for first-time homebuyers.

Disadvantaged minorities and the foreign born are also heading to the exits, or simply not coming. According to the United Way of California, over 30 percent of California residents—including 40 percent of African Americans and 50 percent of Latino— lack sufficient income to meet their basic cost of living. Incomes for African Americans and Hispanics rank 48th to 50th in the nation, while home ownership rates are among the lowest as well. In terms of cost-of-living adjusted income, African Americans in California do about as well as those in states with reputations for poverty such as Mississippi and Louisiana, and well below that for Texas, Virginia, or Michigan, according to research to be published next month by Chapman University.

The Latino population in California rose at only one-half the national rate from 2010 to 2019, while California’s Black population grew by only 0.8 percent, well below the 7.2 percent national rate and even further below the rates of Florida and Texas. Over the past two decades, the African American household population has declined in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Read More > at The Daily Beast

This Scientist Created a Rapid Test Just Weeks Into the Pandemic. Here’s Why You Still Can’t Get It. – When COVID-19 started sweeping across America in the spring of 2020, Irene Bosch knew she was in a unique position to help.

The Harvard-trained scientist had just developed quick, inexpensive tests for several tropical diseases, and her method could be adapted for the novel coronavirus. So Bosch and the company she had co-founded two years earlier seemed well-suited to address an enormous testing shortage.

E25Bio — named after the massive red brick building at MIT that houses the lab where Bosch worked — already had support from the National Institutes of Health, along with a consortium of investors led by MIT.

Within a few weeks, Bosch and her colleagues had a test that would detect coronavirus in 15 minutes and produce a red line on a little chemical strip. The factory where they were planning to make tests for dengue fever could quickly retool to produce at least 100,000 COVID-19 tests per week, she said, priced at less than $10 apiece, or cheaper at a higher scale.

On March 21 — when the U.S. had recorded only a few hundred COVID-19 deaths  Bosch submitted the test for emergency authorization, a process the Food and Drug Administration uses to expedite tests and treatments.

A green light from the FDA could have made a big difference for the many Americans who were then frantically trying to find doctors to swab their noses, with results, if they were lucky, coming back only days later.

But the go-ahead never came. Read More > at ProPublica

More believe in cheating in 2020 election, hit ‘Zuckerbucks’ – Angered by growing reports that Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg steered vote-generating donations to pro-Biden counties, more voters believe that cheating occurred in the 2020 elections.

Shoving aside repeated liberal media dismissals of cheating claims, those who believe it occurred increased from 56% in October to 59% in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll previewed for Secrets.

Asked “How likely is it that cheating affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election?” just 36% said unlikely. What’s more, the largest group, at 40%, said that cheating was “very likely.” Read More > in the Washington Examiner

Lab-Grown Embryo Research Is Poised to Transform Medicine – New advances in stem cell science could alleviate devastating early-life conditions. But this comes with a moral conundrum.

According to multiple studies, one in three pregnancies results in miscarriage, and one in 33 babies that are born will have a birth defect, due to the embryo forming incorrectly in the womb. Studying how the embryo develops can help us find ways to bring these numbers down. In 2022, we will see advances in this research thanks to stem-cell-based, embryo-like structures that can be grown in the lab.

Stem cells offer a powerful way to study the early development of the embryo. They can be grown in the lab in vast numbers and can be pushed toward making a huge assortment of cell types, including brain, blood, bone, and muscle.

Recently, several researchers have found ways to join stem cells together into small 3D balls of cells, which facilitate the creation of tiny embryo-like structures. These are currently rudimentary—the structures can be variable, they are inefficient to create and are unable to develop much further. Next year, we are likely to see improvements, with more advanced embryo-like structures made from stem cells. And we are also likely to see scientists using these models to investigate specific problems, such as how the embryo implants into the uterus, how organs start to develop or how the embryo ensures that cells are in the right positions.

Such research has traditionally been difficult to perform with human embryos. Parents using in vitro fertilization are able to donate their surplus embryos, but regulation (upheld internationally and enshrined in law in the UK) prevents researchers from culturing them beyond 14 days. This makes it impossible to study the progress of the human embryo directly as it changes from a cluster of cells to a structure with the organization of a rudimentary body—when it is between two and four weeks old. The International Society for Stem Cell Research, which represents researchers in this field, has called for a public dialog about whether this limit should be changed. It is proposing that human embryo culture should be extended on a case-by-case basis. How regulatory bodies will respond to this remains to be seen. Read More > at Wired UK 

Two sexes only, 75% agree – People don’t agree on much in the political press anymore, but one subject appears to be uniting them — gender identity.

And for exactly 75%, there are only two genders: male and female.

That is the surprising result of the latest Rasmussen Reports survey done at a time when transgender controversies are smashing into college sports, provoking protests in federal prisons, and feeding protests of those such as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling who have argued that there are only two sexes.

Rasmussen asked voters about Rowling’s statements, and 75% agreed that there are only two sexes, with 63% “strongly” agreeing.

But they apparently don’t like the debate being so public. When asked if they side with Rowling or consider her comments a “hate crime,” 58% said they agree with the author, 17% called her words hate, and 25% said they weren’t sure.

People also largely agreed that they do not want their schoolchildren counseled on their gender identity without their consent. By a margin of 68% to 19%, voters said they don’t want the counseling without their knowledge. Read More > in the Washington Examiner

Why Are Young People Drinking Less Than Their Parents? – As we head towards the end of the year, office get-togethers, Christmas lunches and New Year’s parties are upon us. It seems like a prime opportunity for young people to be drinking the night away.

But something unexpected has happened since the start of this century. Young people in Australia, the UK, Nordic countries and North America have, on average, been drinking significantly less alcohol than their parents’ generation did when they were a similar age.

During COVID lockdowns, some surveys indicate this fell even further.

Our research suggests this is unlikely to be due simply to government efforts to cut youth drinking. Wider social, cultural, technological and economic changes seem to be key to these declines.

Researchers conducting interview-based studies with young people in a range of countries have identified four main reasons for declining youth drinking.

These are: uncertainty and worry about the future, concern about health, changes to technology and leisure, and shifting relationships with parents. Read More > at Real Clear Science

New U.S. Census Data: Major Migration From Blue States To Red States – According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2021 national and state population estimates and components of change released today, the population of the United States grew in the past year by 392,665, or 0.1%, the lowest rate since the nation’s founding. The slow rate of growth can be attributed to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. …

  • The largest net domestic migration gains were in Florida (220,890), Texas (170,307) and Arizona (93,026). …
  • In 2021, 20 states and the District of Columbia lost residents via net domestic migration. Largest domestic migration losses were in California (-367,299), New York (-352,185) and Illinois (-122,460).

Wall Street Journal editorial, The Great Pandemic Migration: Census Data Reveal Huge Shifts Out of the Most Locked-Down States:

The pandemic has changed America in many ways, and one major change is the migration from states that locked down their economies and schools the most to those that kept them largely open. …Read More > at TaxProf Blog

For weight loss resolutions, experts suggest finding diet method that fits lifestyle – Folks who are determined to shed some pounds in the New Year face a bewildering array of fad diets and quickie weight-loss schemes.

Those weighing eating patterns and diet plans such as intermittent fasting, the Keto diet, the Whole 30 Program and the Mediterranean diet would do well to keep two primary facts in mind, nutrition experts told HealthDay Now.

First, the diet that’s right for you depends in large part on what you like to eat and what will fit best into your personal lifestyle.

“What works best for people is what you will stick with, what is comfortable for you. So, if you’re seeking to change your diet, you first have to know yourself and to do things you will stick with,” said Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, chair of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

“It’s useless to do any of these diets if you’re going to do them for a week and then go back to business as usual,” Cheskin said.

Second, any diet or eating pattern will help you lose weight only if you’re ingesting fewer calories than you’re burning day in and day out.

A good weight-loss diet will include all of the nutrients that you need to maintain health, but limit your calories. Read More > at UPI

How would humans respond to the discovery of aliens? NASA enlisted dozens of religious scholars to find out. – A rabbi, a priest, and an imam walk into a research program funded by NASA to talk about the intersection of God and aliens.

It’s not the start of a religious joke. It’s precisely what happened at Princeton University’s Center for Theological Inquiry in 2016 when two dozen theologians gathered to participate in a program partially funded by NASA to research how humans might respond to the discovery of extraterrestrial life. 

…Davison, whose own work involves studying how astrobiology and Christianity interconnect, told the outlet that he and his fellow participants considered how followers of major religions might react to the discovery of aliens.

Their findings suggested that adherents of religion could be more prepared for otherworldly company, and that those who weren’t already indebted to a religious movement could be tempted to seek one out should aliens make their presence known.

“The headline findings are that adherents of a range of religious traditions report that they can take the idea in their stride,” Davison wrote in “Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine,” a forthcoming book that touches on his time during the program, reported The Times, which obtained portions of the book. Read More > at Insider

Can the IRS Be Trusted With Your Data? – In fiscal 2021, the Internal Revenue Service processed 269 million tax forms, each one rich with information that scammers and thieves would love to have. A scathing new report from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration calls into question the ability of the IRS to protect this mass of data.

Consider the Income Verification Express Service, known as IVES, which allows lenders to use IRS data to check income claims. Few of the companies that use the service have complied with security mandates. And the IRS itself has scarcely done better: “We identified 8,754 tax transcripts that the IVES Program improperly issued for 4,726 taxpayers during Processing Year 2019” — all because either the software of the clerks didn’t take proper note that the file in question had been flagged for identity theft.

The report is full of similarly alarming nuggets, from improperly sanitized laptops and smartphones to insecure physical door locks, from inactive accounts with administrative access that nobody’s disabled to inaccurate equipment inventory in the department’s crime lab.

And there are bigger issues. For instance, the legacy systems have persistent vulnerabilities: “Configuration management compliance for Windows and Linux servers is not effective,” the report states flatly. It’s hardly reassuring that the explanation that follows, which occupies a good two pages, has been almost entirely redacted.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering: “Vulnerabilities open past remediation time frames are not effectively documented and tracked.” In other words, the agency itself isn’t sure which vulnerabilities have been patched — or even which ones exist. Read More > at Bloomberg Opinion

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Delta Flood Ready website

There are over 1,100 miles of levees protecting 700,000 acres of lowland in the California Delta, and no matter how well built the levee, no levee is flood-proof.  Know as much as you can about the threat of flood – your knowledge will be crucial to your safety and the safety of those your care about. Flooding in the Delta can happen at any time, not just during the rainy season – it can even occur during times of drought! By planning ahead, you can help protect your family and neighbors, reduce damage to your property, and be better prepared to recover from a flood emergency in your area. This website will help you take the steps you need to be awarebe prepared, and take action in the event of a flood.

The Delta Protection Commission (DPC) has created the www.DeltaFloodReady.com website with Delta residents and businesses in mind. Use the resources compiled on this website to help you be flood ready.

For further information and tips, visit the DPC Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Make sure to share so we can all stay safe together

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BART offers extended service for New Year’s Eve

For New Year’s Eve BART will run standard Friday service but with an extended closing time to help people celebrate the arrival of 2022 as well as to support workers who are relying on BART to get to and from their late-night shifts.

The regular last trains of the evening (Yellow, Blue, and Orange lines) will be dispatched from the end of their lines at midnight and then at 1:00am, we will run another set of last trains of the evening to serve 48 out of our 50 stations. The 1am dispatched trains will not serve the airport stations (OAK and SFO) but will stop at all other stations. These last trains will be timed to easily transfer to other lines to get home.

For those celebrating in downtown San Francisco, the last East Bay-bound train running through downtown San Francisco will be at around 1:30am and the last southbound train heading toward Millbrae will run through downtown San Francisco at 2:10am.

BART will offer overtime shifts to train operators to run extra event trains that can be dispatched between the one-hour gap in between the midnight and 1am dispatch.

Unlike previous years, BART will not run skip-stop service on New Year’s Eve. All trains will make their regular stops, except for the 1am dispatch which will not stop at SFO or OAK airports.

1am extended service details

  • Only the Yellow line (Millbrae to Antioch) will run transbay. Riders heading from San Francisco towards Richmond, Berryessa, and Dublin will need to transfer. The train will not serve SFO.
  • Southbound Yellow line (Antioch to Millbrae) trains will run to Millbrae, stopping at all stations except SFO.
  • The Blue line will operate from Bay Fair to Dublin only. If travelling from San Francisco, Dublin-bound riders need to transfer at 12th Street to a Berryessa (Orange line) bound train and then transfer to a Dublin (Blue line) train at Bay Fair to complete their trip. These transfers will be timed meets to reduce travel time.
  • The Orange line (Richmond to Berryessa) will also run hourly to coincide with the other trains. Riders coming from San Francisco who need to transfer to a Richmond-bound train will do so at MacArthur; riders who need to transfer to a Berryessa-bound train (or Dublin) will do so at 12th Street. These transfers will be timed meets to reduce travel time. BART to OAK service will not be operating after regular BART hours.

Parking

Parking is free after 3pm on Friday. You can also leave your car overnight if necessary. Parking is free on weekends.

Stay Safe

Save these numbers in your phone:

  • 510-200-0992 to text BART Police dispatch to discreetly report criminal activity
  • 510-464-7000 to call BART Police in an emergency (It’s faster than calling 911)

We also offer the free the BART Watch app–a free mobile app available on the App Store and Google Play that allows you to quickly and discreetly report criminal or suspicious activity directly to BART Police.

You can reach the train operator using call buttons in each car. On old cars the button is at the end of the car, on new cars, the call button is by the side doors.

Note your train car number when contacting police or the train operator. The train number is located above the doors on the inside of each end of the train car.

BART will have extra safety staff working on New Year’s Eve to have more staff on trains, on platforms and inside stations. 

Tips for Riding

Masks are required at BART, even if fully vaccinated. Spread out among all the cars. The first and last cars are often less crowded than those in the middle.

To save time and hassle, it is recommended you get a Clipper card in advance with round trip fare loaded. You can add Clipper to your mobile wallet and pay for BART fares with Google Pay and Apple Pay. All riders can immediately load funds through their wallet to their Clipper card.

Saturday Service on New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day, January 1, 2022, will be a regular Saturday schedule with service running 6am until midnight.

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BART’s top 21 accomplishments in 2021

2021 was the first full year we spent living in the midst of the pandemic. Despite the challenges, we accomplished many things to help serve the Bay Area.

Improvements to the Rider Experience:

Improvements to Personal Safety:

  • We launched our groundbreaking Progressive Policing Bureau that includes deploying Ambassadors and Crisis Intervention Specialists.  
  • Our efforts to increase safety staff visibility is paying off with a 37% drop in violent crime in 2021 and 21% drop in crime overall- this comes as ridership has been increasing.
  • We launched the Not One More Girl campaign and changed our code of conduct policy to send a clear message that sexual harassment and gender-based violence has no place on BART.  

Investments in Infrastructure:

  • We replaced 7.5 miles of track, 2 major interlockings, and 66 miles of power cables.

Improvements at Stations:

Leadership in the Region:

  • We offered our stations and parking lots for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing sites, and we made it easy for residents to take transit to get vaccinated.
  • We launched our Link21 Program to transform Northern California’s rail network with an eye on equity and how best to serve the mega-region.
  • Our Transit-Oriented Development program advanced with new homes at Pleasant Hill and MacArthur leasing up. Construction at Millbrae and Walnut Creek stayed on track for 2022 completion.  Projects at Lake Merritt and West Dublin were entitled. 
  • Our electric power supply was certified as 100% greenhouse gas free.
  • We contracted $73.2 million dollars to a diverse group of small, minority, and women owned businesses.
  • We implemented a COVID vaccine mandate for all employees to help keep our workforce and riders healthy. 
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770 new laws are coming to California. Here are some highlights –

Bacon Ban

WHAT THE LAW DOES

Proposition 12 — the Farm Animal Confinement Proposition — was overwhelmingly passed by voters back in 2018. Beginning in 2022, pork producers will have to abide by Proposition 12, a California farm animal cruelty law passed in 2018 that introduces minimum space requirements for veal calves, egg-laying hens and breeding pigs. National veal and egg producers are optimistic they can meet the new standards, but only 4% of hog operations now comply with the new rules. Unless the courts intervene or the state temporarily allows non-compliant meat to be sold in the state, California will lose almost all of its pork supply, much of which comes from Iowa, and pork producers will face higher costs to regain a key market.

Gender-neutral toy sections

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB1084 would require large department stores that sell kids’ products to maintain a gender-neutral section of toys and child care items. Stores that do not comply would face a light penalty: a fine of up to $250 for first offenses, and a fine of up to $500 for second offenses. It’s carried by Democratic Assemblymembers Evan Low of San Jose and Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens.

Ethnic studies to graduate

WHAT THE BILL DOES

This is the third attempt by Democratic Assemblymember Jose Medina of Riverside to require ethnic studies for all California public school students, and this time he succeeded. AB101 makes ethnic studies a graduation requirement. The law will go into effect by the 2024-25 school year, beginning with the class of 2030. School districts could either develop their own lessons or use the model curriculum developed by the state board of education.

Ending secret settlements

WHAT THE BILL DOES

SB331 would ban employers from using secret settlements to prevent workers from speaking out about all kinds of illegal harassment or discrimination, with some limited exceptions. Carried by Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino, it builds on a law passed in 2018, which limited the use of non-disclosure agreements to settle cases of sexual discrimination, harassment or assault.

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB453 would make it illegal to remove a condom without consent during sexual intercourse. This bill by Democratic Assemblymember Cristina Garcia of Downey would make it so that “stealthing” — nonconsensual condom removal — be considered sexual battery under the state’s Civil Code, allowing victims to sue their sexual partners for damages.   

Food delivery and facility personnel will keep all of their tips.

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB 286 makes it unlawful for a food delivery platform to retain any portion of amounts designated as a tip or gratuity. Instead, food delivery platforms must pay any tip or gratuity for a delivery order to the person delivering the food or beverage.  Any tip or gratuity for a pickup order must be paid in its entirety to the food facility.

End of Life Option

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB 15 will has implement the End of Life Option Act to provide aid in dying for qualifying terminally ill California residents. This law legalizes physician aid-in-dying and has a sunset clause and is scheduled to expire on January 1, 2016. Any terminally ill adult California resident with an anticipated lifespan of 6 months or less and with intact decision making capacity has the right to request her/his attending physician for an ‘aid-in-dying’ drug prescription.

Restaurants Can Continue to Sell “To Go” Cocktails

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB 61 allow restaurants to continue selling to-go cocktails, using parking lots for expanded seating, and serving alcohol in parklets. The laws are already in effect but are now made permanent—at least until 12/31/2026.

Banning the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers 

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB 1346 requires all newly sold small-motor equipment primarily used for landscaping to be zero-emission — essentially to be battery-operated or plug-in — by that target date or as soon as the California Air Resources Board determined it is feasible. New portable gas-powered generators also must be zero-emission by 2028, which also could be delayed at the discretion of the state agency.

Offering year-round fishing licenses.

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB 817 now authorizes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue (the option for) a 365-day fishing license as well as an option for a digital fishing license (displayed via your mobile device).

Allow Local Governments to Reduce Speed Limits

WHAT THE BILL DOES

AB 43 Caltrans requires cities to set the speed limit at the speed of the car going faster than 85 out of 100 car drivers. The bill would allow communities to set lower speed limits.

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Year In Review: Our Top 10 Stories of 2021

From California City News

California saw its own share of special craziness. 2021 was a banner year for recall elections across the state. Sadly, we saw the passing of a number of elected officials too.

As always, the best part of the year here at California City News was getting to experience it all with you. Below are the top ten stories you cared about most.County News’ Top 10 Stories of 2021

  1. California Says Goodbye to Single-Family Zoning
  2. Los Angeles’ Murder Rate Keeps Rising
  3. The Decade in Review: a Political Earthquake in California Local Government
  4. Here’s what your city will get from the COVID relief bill
  5. Don’t Shoot! San Francisco Will Pay Criminals to Stop Gun Violence. 
  6. SANDAG Mulls Per-Mile Tax for Drivers
  7. The Best Places to Live in 2021
  8. Bell City Manager, Former State Senator Charged in Public Corruption Scheme
  9. America’s Most Dangerous Small Town Is Right Here in California
  10. CalPERS Triples Its Investment Target, But Many Public Employees Will Have to Pay More
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Sunday Reading – 12/26/2021

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.

California redistricting stumbles toward finish line – It’s crunch time for California’s independent redistricting commission, and it looks like they’re nearing the finish line, though not without continued criticism.

The 14 commissioners are under intense scrutiny — and face a Dec. 27 deadline to submit their final report to the secretary of state, including new district lines for the U.S. House, state Assembly, state Senate and Board of Equalization.

They’re pledging to vote on adopting the maps today. At the same time, however, they’re hearing from outside critics because they’re drawing some weirdly shaped districts in trying to keep communities of interest together and protect minority voting power.

After a barrage of calls last week about the city of San Jose being split into four congressional districts, the commission redrew the congressional map into what some experts called the “ribbon of shame” – a coastal district starting just south of San Francisco, and moving inland towards Kern County just north of Bakersfield.

Even former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in, calling it “absurd and unnecessary.”  

  • Holder: “The CA Commission to now has been a model for the country. I hope they find a way to draw lines that respect communities of interest and avoid a district like this that will only be parodied for the decade.”   

But by Sunday night, after several commissioners voiced “buyer’s remorse” on that district, they opted to walk it back for now.   

That prompted a quick response from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who complained that his city would become the only major U.S. city without its residents making up a majority of constituents for at least one member of Congress. 

  • Liccardo: “Please stand up for SJ. The commission can revise problems with other districts without depriving SJ of voice in DC.” 

The tug-of-war in response to public comment – solving one problem while trying not to create another – is part of the process, but also emblematic of the commission’s struggles since adopting preliminary maps on Nov. 10  Read More > at CalMatters

‘Christmas comet’ to zip through sky, won’t be back for 80,000 years – The 2020 holiday season featured a “Christmas star” when Jupiter and Saturn appeared extremely close and shined together, and this year, stargazers are in for another gift as the brightest comet of 2021 races through the evening sky.

Comet C/2021 A1, more commonly referred to as comet Leonard, was discovered earlier this year and made its closest approach to the Earth on Sunday. Before its approach, it was visible only in the early morning sky, but its journey has now made it more prominent in the evening sky, making it a target for backyard stargazers.

The “Christmas comet” will appear in the evening sky throughout the rest of the year, but folks should look for it sooner rather than later as it will become dimmer and dimmer heading into the final days of December.

Comet Leonard is not expected to be a repeat of comet NEOWISE, which impressed stargazers last year on its journey through the inner solar system. Read More > at UPI

Global demand for coal could hit all-time high in 2022 – Coal power is on track to hit a new global record this year after an economic rebound that could drive worldwide coal demand to an all-time high in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency.

The amount of electricity generated from coal power plants has soared by 9% this year after a surge in fossil fuel demand to fuel the recovery from Covid lockdowns, a report by the watchdog says.

Coal power fell by 4% in 2020 as the pandemic caused a global economic slowdown, but the IEA found that demand for electricity this year had outpaced the growth in low-carbon sources, leading many wealthy economies to rely more heavily on fossil fuel power plants.

The global gas supply crunch, which has caused record-high prices worldwide, has also helped reignite demand for coal, the IEA report says. Read More > at The Guardian

California Exodus? Avoidance is the Bigger Problem, Study Shows. – The number of Californians exiting the Golden State continues to tick up. But it’s the drop in the number of people moving in that has made the biggest difference.

All 58 California counties have experienced a decline in the number of people moving in from out of state since the end of March 2020, according to the California Policy Lab. The steepest declines in in-migration occurred in San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Mateo.

“The public’s attention has been focused on the so-called ‘CalExodus’ phenomenon, but the reality is that the dramatic drop in ‘CalEntrances’ since the pandemic began has been a bigger driver of recent population changes in the state,” said the report’s co-author, Natalie Holmes.

Combined with an increased California exit rate of 12%, “population loss due to domestic migration has more than doubled since the beginning of the pandemic,” according to the report.

In 52 of the 58 counties, the exit rate also increased. Another study released Friday highlights record population loss in California’s most populous cities. 

Read the report here. Read More > at California City News

BMO to double its U.S. presence by buying Bank of the West – Bank of Montreal (BMO) said on Monday it will buy BNP Paribas’ U.S. unit, Bank of the West, for $16.3 billion US in its biggest deal ever, allowing the Canadian lender to double its footprint in the world’s biggest economy, while giving France’s largest bank a huge step up in firepower for deals. 

The deal gives BMO, Canada’s fourth-largest lender, a large-scale presence in California, whose population is bigger than the bank’s home country. It will add 1.8 million customers and give BMO the ability to deploy almost all of its excess capital, which has been a drag on returns.

Analysts hailed the deal as a positive for BMO, which has made no secret of its ambitions to build on its existing presence in the United States. It has operated there for decades, from its acquisition of Harris Bank in 1984, to deals including its 2011 takeover of Marshall & Ilsley Bank. Read More > at CBC

The American Addiction to Speeding – Speeding is a national health problem and a big reason why this country is increasingly an outlier on traffic safety in the developed world. More than 1 in 4 fatal crashes in the United States involve at least one speeding driver, making speeding a factor in nearly 10,000 deaths each year, in addition to an unknowable number of injuries. Thousands of car crash victims are on foot, and speed is an even more crucial determinant of whether they live or die: The odds of a pedestrian being killed in a collision rise from 10 percent at 23 mph to 75 percent at 50 mph. And we’re now in a moment of particular urgency. Last year, when the pandemic shutdowns lowered total miles traveled by 13 percent, the per-mile death rate rose by 24 percent—the greatest increase in a century, thanks to drivers hitting high velocities on empty roads. “COVID,” Roberts said, “was midnight on the day shift.”

In the first six months of 2021, projected traffic fatalities in the U.S. rose by 18 percent, the largest increase since the U.S. Department of Transportation started counting and double the rate of the previous year’s surge. “We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release.

But we do. Such carnage has not prompted a societal response akin to the movement elicited by drunk driving in the 1980s. Part of the reason is that Americans love driving fast and have confidence in their own abilities. About half admit to going more than 15 over the limit in the past month. Meanwhile, drivers do generally regard their peers’ speeding as a threat to their own safety, and so we have wound up with the worst of both worlds: Thousands of speed-related deaths on the one hand, and on the other, a system of enforcement that is both ineffective and inescapable. Read More > at Slate

America Needs a Rebirth of Science – A healthy and flourishing republic requires a social and political climate that respects true scientific inquiry and exploration. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the astonishing capacity of science to produce breakthroughs such as vaccines and other drugs for the public good. At the same time, we have seen the biggest public-health fiasco in history, and the marginalization and censoring of dissident scientists. The pandemic has exposed myriad long-standing problems facing science that go far beyond a single virus.

In science, centralization has created a harmful uniformity and herd thinking that hinders the free exchange of ideas. A de facto scientific cartel system determines who receives essential research funding; who ends up published in the most prestigious and influential journals; and who are promoted to more senior positions. In many scientific fields, a small group of senior scientists — who may have an interest in their ideas not being challenged — determines who will be published and who will get the research grants. Ultimately, this system creates a highly impenetrable and shielded sphere of thinking that crowds out new ideas and true scientific debate.

The solution to the current state of stifling scientific sclerosis is not an abandonment of science. Instead, science must be reformed, restored, and reinvigorated so all scientists can engage with independence and boldness in the pursuit of a never-ending horizon.

It’s not an exaggeration to view the iron-fisted grip over the funding and publication of new scientific findings as a threat to the continuation of scientific freedom. It’s increasingly hard for ideas that challenge orthodoxy to break through. This is a recipe for a prolonged stagnation that could jeopardize the societal well-being, economic health, and security of the United States. Read More > at National Review

A Wave of Head-Coach Firings Could Hit the NFL Immediately Due to New Rule – Before the Bears played on Thanksgiving and barely beat the then-winless Detroit Lions, it was reported that Chicago coach Matt Nagy would be fired after the game.

That didn’t happen and Nagy, who has never finished a season below .500 during his three previous seasons as a head coach but will this year with the Bears now 4-10 following a loss to the Minnesota Vikings last night, is still employed.

But, thanks to a new rule in the NFL governing coaching interviews, that may soon change.

Breaking from previous seasons where interviews were not permitted to be conducted during the regular season, NFL franchises will be permitted to officially commence interviewing assistant coaches from other teams while there are still games left to be played. This season, the window opens on virtual interviews on December 27.

However, there’s a very important caveat: Teams that interview assistants from other teams must have a coaching vacancy or have already informed their current coach he’ll be gone after the season ends, per ProFootballTalk. Read More > at InsideHook

TikTok Was A Threat Long Before Its Crazed School Shooting ‘Challenge’ – Right before the beginning of Christmas Break, schools all over the country canceled classes in response to a wave of shooting threats inspired by a TikTok video challenge. According to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, the challenge was to “take a stock photo of a weapon, put that under a post and write you’re going to shoot up a school.” It could be any school, and those making the threat could be from anywhere in the country. 

As many as hundreds of kids took to social media and sent threats to various students or faculty of bringing a gun or bomb to school. While schools beefed up their security or kept students away, many students who made threats were arrested. Fortunately, as of now, it seems no actual shootings followed the challenge, and most of the threats have been proven to be empty.

As heartbreaking as it is to see students mindlessly following TikTok influencers and threatening their schools with mass shootings, it is even more frustrating to know how preventable this is. One parent on a local Facebook group captured this frustration perfectly: “Today, parents across the country will fear TikTok enough to not send their kids to school — but not fear TikTok enough to take it off their kids’ phones.”

As many teachers and parents can attest, 2021 has been the year of TikTok. The incredibly addictive app has supplanted many other social media and streaming services, moving past popular apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Because the videos are so short and the customizing algorithm is so effective, users will unwittingly stay glued to their screens for hours at a time.

All this has made TikTok a powerful influence among its users. It’s not just another form of entertainment that diverts its audience; it’s a media platform that ultimately consumes its audience and informs their whole reality. Sure, there are silly videos of people singing, dancing, and playing pranks, but there are also videos of people propagandizing harmful ideas and, as in the school shooting case, actively instigating violence. If you ever wondered where kids get their dumb ideas, today look no further than TikTok. Read More > at The Federalist

Nearly $100 billion in pandemic relief funds stolen, Secret Service says – The Secret Service is looking to hunt down criminals who it said are responsible for the theft of nearly $100 billion in COVID-19 relief funds.

The agency, which is best known for its protecting political leaders but is also tasked with investigating financial crimes involving fraud, said in a Tuesday news release that it is appointing Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Dotson to oversee the recovery of funds lost to fraud.

While fraud related to personal protective equipment was of the highest concern early in the pandemic, federal funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, has more recently attracted the attention of criminals. The Secret Service estimates almost $100 billion has been stolen through the use of fraudulent COVID-19 relief applications.

Some $2.3 billion in fraudulently obtained funds have already been recovered as a result of investigations into unemployment insurance and Small Business Administration loan fraud, the Secret Service said. Those investigations have led to the arrests of about 100 people suspected of defrauding the government. Read More > in the Washington Examiner

Rite Aid to close 63 stores over the next several months – Rite Aid said it plans to close 63 stores over the next several months they say will help cut costs and “drive improved profitability.”

The closures were confirmed during the pharmacy chain’s third-quarter earnings call on Tuesday by CEO Heyward Donigan.

“The decision to close the stores is one we take very seriously as we evaluate the impact on our associates, our customers and our communities,” Donigan said.

Rite Aid did not reveal which locations will close as part of the company’s plans. Read More > at Yahoo!

Seconds before a 6.2 earthquake rattled California, phones got a vital warning – In the moments before a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the northern California coast on Monday, roughly half a million phones began to buzz. An early-alert system managed by the US Geological Survey sent warnings out before the ground started to shake, giving residents in the sparsely populated area vital time to take cover.

The earthquake brought significant shaking but minimal damage in Humboldt county, about 210 miles north-west of San Francisco, and officials said it was an excellent test of the alert-system. It was the largest magnitude quake that’s occurred since the system, known as ShakeAlert, was officially rolled out across the west coast.

ShakeAlert issues warnings through a series of agencies and apps including the MyShakeApp, public wireless emergency alert systems, and the Android operating system, powered by Google. A data package is created from information provided by USGS sensors and – within seconds – shows up on phones. Some apps that provide alerts are available to download but even some who didn’t have an app on their phone were notified. Affected individuals are instructed to drop, cover, and hold on. Having extra seconds to do so can save lives. Read More > in The Guardian

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A Christmas Wish – 2021

Christmas gifts that we can give year-round.

Patience, Compassion, Faith, and Resilience

I wish for you a Christmas with the patience to endure the hardships placed on us by government decree; with loved ones that we have been pent up with for a prolonged period of time, these trying times have tested these bonds and hopefully strengthened them.

I wish for you a Christmas filled with compassion for the sick, suffering, isolated and afraid. This wish is constant but more profound and needed at this time.

I wish for you a Christmas consumed with the faith that the sun will rise tomorrow on a better day. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully its approaching at the speed of a bullet train.

I wish for you a Christmas with the resilience necessary to persist and move forward to whatever the “new normal” is.

I hope you have an opportunity to reflect on all that you have and then give a little of yourselves to those less fortunate.

So, whether its Feliz Navidad, Buone Feste Natalizie, Feliz Nata, God Jul, Nollaig Shona or Sretan Bozic from our home to yours have a Merry Christmas.

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Christmas Is What You Make It

Excuse the Hobby Lobby ad but as we move into the Christmas Season it’s important to remember that giving a gift can be as simple as sharing a little of yourself.

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5 Steps to Take Now to Prevent Mice at Your Holiday Celebration

Mice can spread bacteria and viruses in their droppings and nesting material. They’ve also been associated with asthma.

Mice have difficulty maintaining body warmth, so they are attracted to the warmth, food and shelter that can be found in your home — where one mouse is too many — but, two mice can produce up to 2,000 new mice within one year.

So, now is the time to take steps to make sure mice don’t ruin your upcoming family gatherings and holiday celebrations.

As we enter winter, with overnight temperatures in the 30°s and 40°s — not to mention our currently productive rainy season — mice are looking for somewhere they can be warm and dry. According to the Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District (District), mice have an incredible sense of smell and are constantly looking for a source of heat. When a garage door opens and there’s both heat and the smell of a food source, the mouse is already inside before the door closes.

“Mice are so small, they have a hard time burning enough calories to stay warm, so they need sources of warmth to keep their body temperatures up,” said District Operations Supervisor Terry Davis. “They’re attracted to the warmth that can be found under a refrigerator or in the insulation surrounding a dishwasher.”

And once in your home and warm, mice will look for sources of food. If they are under a refrigerator or in the insulation around the dishwasher, they’re already in your kitchen, so, they don’t have to travel far.

5 Tips on How to Prevent Mice from Taking Over Your Home

  • Inside the House
  1. Store items off of the floor and away from walls
  2. Store items away from known heat sources including the water heater, or along the sides of a refrigerator that prevents you from seeing behind the refrigerator
  3. Close doors, including the garage door as soon as possible
  • In Your Yard
  1. Remove anything stored against the house, including a grill or furniture stored for winter, and woodpiles
  2. Takedown bird feeders in winter

Once you’ve removed the items that can attract mice and closed the holes and openings where mice can enter your home, remembering they can enter a hole the width of a pencil, then it’s time to think about traps. According to Davis, it’s important when using traps to be persistent and diligent to check traps often and reset any trap if it goes off empty.

And if after taking these steps you still find evidence of mice in or around your home, contact the District to request Rat and Mouse service.

The bottom line is, by taking these steps now, mice are less likely to ruin your upcoming family gatherings and holiday celebrations.

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Mayo Clinic: Heartburn from holiday feasts can be easily prevented

From UPI

Like Mr. Grinch, heartburn can crush your holiday, but there are easy ways to prevent it.

“Heartburn is caused by acidic stomach content moving into the esophagus, or gullet, which is much less resistant to acid,” said Dr. James East, a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London. “This results in irritation and damage to the lining of the esophagus, literally a burn, that causes pain.”

Some holiday favorites can be culprits. Eating large, fatty, greasy or spicy meals can trigger heartburn, as can onions, citrus fruits, tomato-based foods, and even chocolate and peppermint. Alcohol, fizzy beverages and caffeine can bring on heartburn, too.

Chronic heartburn is known as GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.

So how can you avoid it and still enjoy your holiday celebration?

Taking antacids or even acid-suppressing drugs before eating can reduce heartburn symptoms, East said. But, he warned, don’t use them to overindulge.

While these medications lower acid, they don’t stop the regurgitation that can accompany reflux, so overeating can still lead to uncomfortable symptoms, East said.

“Moderation in both food and alcohol, and enjoying the range of dishes available from your host is a better strategy than additional medication,” he said in a Mayo Clinic news release.

Read More > at UPI

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Traffic Advisory – Delta Ferries – Modified Schedule

Delta Ferries operating on reduced schedule due to staff shortage
starting Dec. 24, 2021; Motorists are encouraged to use State Route
84 Miner’s Slough Bridge

The State Route 84 (SR-84) Real McCoy Ferry and State Route 220 J-Mack Ferry will be on a reduced schedule starting on Friday, December 24, 2021 due to staff shortage of ferry captains. Both ferries will be out of service starting on Friday, December 24 until Sunday, December 26.

State Route 84 Real McCoy Ferry Reduced Schedule:
Out of service:

  • 12:01 PM, Friday, 12/24/21 until 11:58 PM, Saturday,12/25/21
  • 12:01 PM, Sunday,12/26/21 until 11:58 PM, Sunday, 12/26/21

In service:

  • 12:01 AM (Midnight) until 12:00 PM (Noon), Sunday, 12/26/21
  • 12:01 AM (Midnight) until 12:00 PM(Noon) Monday, 12/27/21

State Route 220 J-Mack Ferry Reduced Schedule:


Out of service:

  • 12:01 PM (Noon) Friday, 12/24/21 until 12:01 PM (Noon) Monday,
    12/27/21 
  • 12:01 AM (Midnight) Thursday, 12/30/21 until 12:01 AM (Midnight)
    Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

In service:

  • State Route 220 J-Mack Ferry will be operating on a regular schedule on
    Monday, 12/27/21, Tuesday, 12/28/21, and Wednesday,12/29/21 from 12:01 AM (Midnight) until 12:01 PM (Noon)
Visit the Caltrans’ Delta Ferry Webpag

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Sunday Reading – 12/19/2021

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.

Will new bacon law begin? California grocers seek delay – A coalition of California restaurants and grocery stores has filed a lawsuit to block implementation of a new farm animal welfare law, adding to uncertainty about whether bacon and other fresh pork products will be much more expensive or in short supply in the state when the new rules take effect on New Year’s Day.

The lawsuit is the latest step in a tumultuous three-year process of enacting rules overwhelmingly approved by voters but that remain in question even as the law is set to begin. Since voters approved Proposition 12 by a 2-to-1 ratio in November 2018, state officials have missed deadlines for releasing specific regulations covering the humane treatment of animals that provide meat for the California market.

Most hog producers haven’t made changes to comply with the law. And now a coalition of business owners is seeking more than a two-year delay.

While groups are working to delay the measure, the state has eased the transition to the new system. It has allowed pork processed under the old rules and held in cold storage to be sold in California in 2022, which could prevent shortages for weeks or even months.

California is the nation’s largest market for pork, and producers in major hog states like Iowa provide more than 80% of the roughly 255 million pounds (115 million kilograms) that California’s restaurants and groceries use each month, according to Rabobank, a global food and agriculture financial services company.

Without that supply, it’s unclear if a state that consumes about 13% of the nation’s pork supply will have all the meat it demands. The North American Meat Institute, an industry group, said packers and processors “will do their best to serve the California market.” Read More > in the Associated Press

New data shines light on “California Exodus” – Is there really such a thing as the California Exodus? The takeaway from a Wednesday report from the nonpartisan California Policy Lab: It’s complicated. The report found that while the Golden State is losing more than twice as many people to domestic migration than it did before the pandemic, the decline is largely due to fewer out-of-state residents moving in, not more Californians moving out. And the report doesn’t take into account international migration — which for more than a decade has helped California’s population grow, albeit at a slower pace than the rest of the nation.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • 38% fewer people from other states entered California in September 2021than in March 2020.
  • 12% more Californians left the state during that period — but that uptick is on pace with pre-pandemic trends.
  • All regions of California saw steep declines in people entering from out of state, but the impact was especially pronounced in the Bay Area, which saw a 45% decrease. (There was also a 21% increase in Bay Area residents moving to another state.)
  • By net moves, the most popular destinations for Californians leaving the state were Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Washington. Tennessee, Montana and Idaho saw the largest percentage increase in California arrivals, according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis.

“If these trends continue, the implications for California are significant, ranging from federal funding allocations and tax revenues to how many seats we have in Congress,” said report co-author Natalie Holmes. “Population swings can have even more dramatic effects on local jurisdictions.” Read More > at CalMatters

Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID – In November, my wife asked me whether I had seen an article with the remarkable headline “Is It Safe to Go to Thanksgiving Dinner?”

“Is that from last year?” I asked.

“No, it’s a few days old,” she said, her voice sinking to a growling murmur. “These people.”

I am old enough to remember the good old days when holiday-advice pieces were all variations on “How to Talk to Your Tea Party Uncle About Obamacare.” As Christmas approaches, we can look forward to more of this sort of thing, with the meta-ethical speculation advanced to an impossibly baroque stage of development. Is it okay for our 2-year-old son to hug Grandma at a Christmas party if she received her booster only a few days ago? Should the toddler wear a mask except when he is slopping mashed potatoes all over his booster seat? Our oldest finally attended her first (masked) sleepover with other fully vaccinated 10-year-olds, but one of them had a sibling test positive at day care. Should she stay home or wear a face shield? What about Omicron?

I don’t know how to put this in a way that will not make me sound flippant: No one cares. Literally speaking, I know that isn’t true, because if it were, the articles wouldn’t be commissioned. But outside the world inhabited by the professional and managerial classes in a handful of major metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while.

In my part of rural southwest Michigan, and in similar communities throughout the country, this is true not despite but without any noticeable regard for cases; hospitalization statistics, which are always high this time of year without attracting much notice; or death reports. I don’t mean to deny COVID’s continuing presence. (For the purposes of this piece, I looked up the COVID data for my county and found that the seven-day average for positive tests is as high as it has ever been, and that 136 deaths have been attributed to the virus since June 2020.) What I wish to convey is that the virus simply does not factor into my calculations or those of my neighbors, who have been forgoing masks, tests (unless work imposes them, in which case they are shrugged off as the usual BS from human resources), and other tangible markers of COVID-19’s existence for months—perhaps even longer. Read More > in The Atlantic

Richmond Mayor Butt Hit With Restraining Order – A Contra Costa County Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Mayor Tom Butt. The order was granted on December 7th, after the court reviewed a petition filed by the City of Richmond. The petition alleged that Mayor Butt “has willfully and flagrantly violated the City’s privilege,” and that his multiple disclosures on his E-forum constitute a violation of both attorney-client privilege and his duties as enshrined in Charter of the City of Richmond.

The City’s petition asserts that, “despite these clear legal mandates and duties, and despite warnings and requests from the City Attorney to comply with his duty as a City official,” the Mayor has refused to remove privileged information from his E-forum. 

In a separate filing, the City provided a memorandum supporting its petition for a restraining order against the Mayor in detail. Here are some key points from the 17-page document supporting the petition for the restraining order:

The document provides a four-page description, entitled “Factual Background,” of the events leading to the City’s request for a restraining order against the Mayor. Details are provided about several posts made on Mayor Butt’s E-Forum, which publicize attorney-client privileged information about ongoing federal litigation. Description of subsequent actions taken to intervene were also provided, including two Cease and Desist letters from the Office of the City Attorney and a resolution passed by the City Council to censure the Mayor.

The Mayor and his supporters have indignantly maintained that the City’s actions against his confidential disclosures are a violation of his First Amendment rights. The memorandum counters this argument. Using federal and state case law, the City reminds the court that the Mayor “may benefit from the First Amendment’s shield only when they themselves are not involved in prior wrongdoing involving the communications in the first place.”  Read More > at Richmond Progressive Alliance

Report: The End of 3G Could Leave Your Vehicle With Fewer Features – When people started burning down 5G towers in fear, the practice seemed a little misguided. But if you happen to be the owner of a connected automobile, there’s a chance you’ll be wishing enough of them had been taken down to delay those low-latency spires from becoming the default broadcasting network.

While you were probably aware that 3G cellular networks will be shut down in the U.S. next year so the telecom industry can focus in on 5G, you may not have been hip to the fact that this could totally nullify the connected features inside of your car. Unfortunately, loads of automobiles manufactured the early days of phone pairing and internet integration won’t be able to make the journey into 5G like the new phone or tablet you purchased. Worse yet, there are even some modern vehicles that are about to become a lot less feature rich with companies that have no intention of offering updates. 

The issue is basically the same one that’s about to impact some cell phones. Older vehicles weren’t built with 5G in mind because it didn’t exist. But even after it arrived, plenty of companies stayed with 3G because most manufacturers are prefer to cheap out on components whenever possible to reduce overhead. The Federal Communications Commission also isn’t interested in holding onto 3G bandwidth just for automakers (who it doesn’t have a great relationship with anyway) when it can be reallocated to serve newer technologies.

Despite being aware of the transition to 5G, your author was under the assumption that most vehicles would be getting updates that set them up for 4G (which is supposed to be around for a while). That’s true, however, it won’t be the situation for everyone. According to The Drive’s Rob Stumpf, there’s a good chance that a lot of cars will lose items like navigational/traffic data, emergency call services, remote locking/unlocking, smartphone connectivity, voice controls, WiFi hotspot capabilities, telematic data, and more when 3G finally goes dark. Read More > at The Truth About Cars

Schools Confront a Wave of Student Misbehavior, Driven by Months of Remote Learning – School districts across the U.S. say they are seeing a surge of student misbehavior in the return to in-person learning, after months of closures and disruptions due to the pandemic.

Schools have seen an increase in both minor incidents, like students talking in class, and more serious issues, such as fights and gun possession. In Dallas, disruptive classroom incidents have tripled this year compared with pre-pandemic levels, school officials said. The Albuquerque, N.M., superintendent sent a letter to parents warning of a “rise in violence and unacceptable behaviors posted to social media” that have disrupted classes. The National Association of School Resource Officers said it has seen a rise in gun-related incidents in schools.Some schools are responding to the disciplinary problems by dispatching more staffers to patrol school grounds or by hiring more counselors. Others are reducing student suspensions, or in Dallas, eliminating them altogether in favor of counseling. Some districts have enacted what they call mental-health days, closing schools around holidays to give students and administrators a break. Peoria, Ill., is planning a special school that would be dedicated to students with issues caused by the pandemic.

Educators at disadvantaged schools, often in low-income neighborhoods, said they had anticipated students would return to in-person learning with mental-health scars from Covid-19. The issues are also coming up at schools that previously had few serious incidents…

Peter Faustino, a school psychologist in New York who serves on the board of directors for the National Association of School Psychologists, said school psychologists across the country have seen roughly the same volume of mental-health complaints and behavioral issues in the first three months of the school year that used to occur in an entire academic year. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Jussie Smollett guilty of staging race-baiting hate attack to boost career – Nearly three years after he claimed two Trump-loving bigots beat him up, tied a noose around his neck and doused him in bleach, Jussie Smollett was convicted Thursday of staging a hate crime in a misbegotten bid to raise his public profile. 

Twelve jurors in Chicago criminal court found the disgraced actor guilty of five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report following testimony from 13 witnesses and more than nine hours of deliberation

The guilty verdict is the final chapter in the made-for-TV saga that jurors found Smollett not just starred in but directed from start to finish when he asked two men to “fake beat him up,” gave them a script of homophobic and racist slurs to deliver, and selected a stage for the phony beatdown that he thought was in direct view of surveillance cameras. Read More > in the New York Post

U.S. Inflation Hit a 39-Year High in November – U.S. inflation reached a nearly four-decade high in November, as strong consumer demand collided with pandemic-related supply constraints.

The Labor Department said the consumer-price index—which measures what consumers pay for goods and services—rose 6.8% in November from the same month a year ago. That was the fastest pace since 1982 and the sixth straight month in which inflation topped 5%.

The so-called core price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, climbed 4.9% in November from a year earlier. That was a sharper increase than October’s 4.6% rise, and the highest rate since 1991.

The increase in prices for new vehicles, which came in at 11.1% in November, was the largest on record, as were those for men’s apparel and living room, kitchen and dining room furniture. A 7.9% surge in fast-food restaurant prices last month marked the sharpest on record too.

The steady rise in restaurant prices during the past few months is a sign of pass-through from wages into higher prices, economists say. That dynamic is increasingly showing up in other industries. Wages tracked by the Atlanta Fed climbed 4.3% in November, up from 4.1% in October and the highest since 2007.

Some energy prices showed signs of easing—in part because of fear in the financial markets that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 could slow growth. But gasoline rose at a 6.1% monthly rate for the second straight month. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Gas Up 58%, Meat Up 13%: Inside The Newest Record-Breaking Inflation Report – …the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that consumer price inflation in the United States has reached a rate of 6.8% — the largest year-over-year increase since June 1982, as well as the sixth straight month in which inflation remained above 5%.

Inflation is the erosion of a currency’s purchasing power over time. More dollars chasing fewer goods implies a diminished value for each dollar — resulting in pinched budgets for Americans who do not experience wage increases to match the rising price levels.

As summarized by CNBC, the following are some of the largest consumer price jumps between November 2020 and November 2021:

  • Gas — 58.1%
  • Used vehicles — 31.4%
  • Hotels — 25.5%
  • Meat, poultry, and fish — 13.1%
  • Furniture and bedding — 11.8%
  • New vehicles — 11.1%
  • Domestic services — 10.2%
  • Jewelry — 6.7%
  • Electricity — 6.5%
  • Food — 6.1%
  • Apparel — 5%
  • Milk — 4.6%
  • Fruits and vegetables — 4%

According to a recent Gallup poll, American families — especially less advantaged ones — are feeling pressure from the rising prices.

The effect of inflation is more pronounced upon poorer households because they tend to have more of their wealth saved in the form of dollars — whether in cash, checking accounts, or savings accounts — than wealthier families, which are more likely to hold retirement accounts, property, or other assets that accrue interest or increase in value over time. 

Indeed, low-income earners typically spend a greater percentage of their wages on food, fuel, and other basic necessities — the same items that are becoming less affordable due to inflation. Read More > at The Daily Wire

World population forecast to decline for the first time in centuries – A new study published in the Lancet journal revealed that for the first time in centuries, the world’s population is set to decline starting in the next few decades.

There are currently around 7.8 billion people in the world. Experts believe the global population would peak at around 9.7 billion in 2064 before steadily declining to 8.79 billion by 2100.

Up to 23 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and South Korea, could see their populations decreased by 50 per cent as a result of low birth rates and an aging population.

Even China, the most populous country in the world and a nation often associated with exorbitant population growth, has a projected decline from 1.4 billion people to 732 million in 2100. Read More > in the National Post

Easy Money: Fraud, Fortune and Failures. A KCRA 3 Investigates documentary – Beginning in September of 2020, KCRA 3 Investigates producer Dave Manoucheri and Photographer Victor Nieto began traveling across California and interviewing people in other states as part of an unprecedented documentary project that revealed a wave of problems created by the failures of California’s Employment Development Department, or EDD.

With nearly 15 hours of interviews from 17 people – and dozens of hours of news footage — Easy Money tells the story of what is being called the worst fraud in California history.

The documentary can be watched in four chapters below or you can watch the full version by clicking here.

Skip to Chapter 2

Skip to Chapter 3

Skip to Chapter 4

We encourage you to scroll as you go (App, Google and Facebook users, click HERE for the best mobile experience).

You’ll find a timeline of EDD’s problems , an interactive quiz that might surprise you about how the fraud operated, examples of other things you could fund with $20 billion from stolen taxpayer money and resources for how to protect your identity. Read More > at KCRA

California paid out $20 billion in fake unemployment claims. How much will it recover? – McGregor Scott was brought on by the state’s embattled unemployment agency in July with the mammoth challenge of coordinating investigations into fraud schemes targeting pandemic relief.

He found a surprise as the search for an estimated $20 billion in fraudulent payments proceeded.

“When I first assumed this role, I just broadly thought gosh, we’re never gonna see that money again,” he told The Bee in an interview.

Instead, “I can think right now off the top of my head of at least four federal cases where search warrants were executed and boxes of cash were found, each exceeding $500,000,” said Scott. That’s money linked directly to the fraud.

His job as special counsel has tentacles that could reach around the world. Along with local and state prosecutors, the Justice Department and others, the investigation is finding large organized crime efforts as well as people who simply try and try to deceive the government.

The search for the people behind the fraud centers on the now-ended federally-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, created just after the COVID pandemic triggered an economic collapse in March 2020.

His surprise aside, Scott, former U. S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, figures most of that $20 billion in fake payments won’t be recovered.

“At the end of the day it’s all going to be pennies on the dollar,” he said, “because most of it is long gone.” Read More > at the Merced Sun-Star

When the “Climate Catastrophe” Levee Breaks – The climate crowd (Al Gore, JFK Heinz, and the other green profiteers, buoyed by generations of the indoctrinated) has already lost the 50-year climate crusade to Xi Jinping, Nahrenda Modi, and the African Energy Chamber.

In a carefully worded statement issued just prior to the thankfully failed climate catastrophe party in Glasgow (where activists wine and finely dine unmasked on other people’s money), Premier Li Keqiang announced that China needs to prioritize its economic development. Translation: China will continue to use oil, coal, and natural gas to generate its mammoth energy needs.

At about the same time, R. P. Gupta, India’s Environment Secretary, asserted that merely announcing a “net zero” goal creates no real-world solution to the presumed climate catastrophe. Gupta claimed that India is a victim of global warming and not a contributor. Indeed, India and China are demanding a trillion-dollar buy-in by “developed” nations before they will submit to serious net zero conversations.

India is projected to lead world oil demand growth, thanks to a five-fold increase in per capita [mostly fossil fuel powered] car ownership. The nation, already the world’s fourth largest energy consumer (behind China, the U.S., and the EU), is now the fastest-growing market for natural gas. India is on a path toward rises in demand of 75 percent for oil, 30 percent for coal, and 50 percent overall in the next decade or two.

NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber, spoke for much of Africa when he posted, during the Glasgow climate summit, his utter disappointment with the global elites (the aforesaid losers) for their eagerness to “rid the world of fossil fuels” before Africa (where millions die from disease or malnutrition every year) has had the chance to grow. Read More > at Real Clear Energy

‘Diet’ soda is disappearing from store shelves – As you make your way through the soda aisle, you may notice a lot less of the word “diet” than you used to.

That’s because some diet sodas are disappearing — or at least, that packaging is gone. Instead you’ll find those beverages under their new branding: zero sugar.

“Zero sugar” has replaced “diet” for many no-calorie soft drinks. Canada Dry and Schweppes ginger ales, 7Up, A&W and Sunkist, made by Keurig Dr Pepper, now label their diet drinks “zero sugar.” (One exception is the namesake Dr Pepper brand, which will still come in “diet” packaging in addition to a different zero sugar version.)

The reason for the overhaul: The word “diet” has fallen out of fashion — especially for Millennials and Gen Z-ers.

But distaste for the word diet doesn’t signal an aversion to no-calorie beverages. The diet soda segment, which includes diet and zero-calorie branded drinks, has ballooned since it first hit the mainstream in the 1960s. In 2020, the US retail diet carbonated soft drink market hit $11.2 billion, according to Mintel, a market research company.

The segment is still far smaller than the market for regular carbonated soft drinks, which was $28.2 billion in 2020, but it’s growing much more quickly. Diet soda sales are up about 19.5% from 2018, compared to just 8.4% for regular soda in the same period, making it an attractive segment for soda makers seeking growth. Read More > at CNN

For The First Time in History, a Spacecraft Has ‘Touched’ The Sun – In an incredible historic first, a human-made spacecraft has swooped in and made contact with the Sun.

On 28 April 2021, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe actually flew into and through the solar corona, the upper atmosphere of the Sun. Not only did it live to tell the tale – proving the efficacy of Parker’s high-tech heat shielding – it took in situ measurements, giving us a wealth of never-before-seen data on the heart of our Solar System.

“Parker Solar Probe ‘touching the Sun’ is a monumental moment for solar science and a truly remarkable feat,” said astrophysicist Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

“Not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun’s evolution and its impacts on our Solar System, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the Universe.”

Parker Solar Probe launched in 2018, with its primary objective to probe the solar corona. In its planned seven-year mission, it should be making a total of 26 close approaches, or perihelions, to the Sun, using a total of seven gravity assist maneuvers from Venus to bring it ever closer. The April perihelion was the eighth, and the first to actually enter the corona. Read More > at Science Alert

Hybrid vehicles a better option than full battery powered vehicles – Let’s assume you want to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions with your choice of the vehicle you drive.  Below is a comparison of hybrid vehicles compared to full battery powered electric vehicles, or EVs for short.  The EVs offer essentially no emission savings while the hybrid vehicles do, along with significant cost savings on gasoline. 

A common refrain is we must switch to EVs to minimize emissions.  Federal legislation aims to spend billions on public EV charging stations and for subsidies up to $12,500 per EV to encourage people to buy this expensive option.  Over 90% of all the EVs on the road are either Teslas or Chevrolet Bolts.  

Let’s compare the lifetime CO2 emissions of the Chevrolet Bolt (Bolt) to a comparable compact hatchback, the Honda Fit (Fit), with a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE). 

The base price of the 2021 Bolt is $31,995 compared to the Fit at $16,500, for a premium price of $15,495, thus the need for a whopping subsidy to get anyone to buy a Bolt.  The original tax credit was $7,500 for the first 200,000 vehicles produced.  When the tax credit ran out, General Motors dropped the price of the Bolt $5,000 to today’s price.  You have to wonder what the price might be with a bigger tax credit. 

The Bolt weighs a thousand pounds more than the Fit because of its 60 kWh battery pack.  That means more wear on highways, but since the Bolt doesn’t use gasoline, owners don’t pay the highway repair and construction tax built into gasoline prices.  That heavy battery requires mining, ore processing, shipping, and assembly that all emit CO2. A Swedish report, “The Life Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Lithium-Ion Batteries,” summarized several studies and had determined battery manufacturing emissions will average 150-200 kg CO2-eq/kWh.  That translates to 9.9 to 13.2 tons of carbon dioxide per Bolt or an 11.6-ton average. 

The Bolt battery is warranted for eight years, or 100,000 miles. If you need a new battery due to capacity degradation, a new one will cost $15,734, excluding labor. The Bolt will need 27,778 kWh of electricity, with 90% of the charging done at home to travel 100,000 miles.  The electricity generation emits CO2.  The latest system mix of our regional grid marked up 21.5% for transmission and charging efficiency losses totals 1.09 pounds CO2 emissions/kWh, or 15.1 tons for 100,000 miles.  So, over the eight-year period, the Bolt will have total emissions of 26.7 tons of CO2

The Fit gets 36 miles per gallon of gasoline and will use 2,778 gallons of gasoline which emits 19.2 pounds/gallon, or 26.7 tons of CO2 for 100,000 miles. The lifetime emissions savings of the Bolt may be zero. Read More > at CRI

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Oakley’s Strategic Planning Survey

It’s time to develop the City of Oakley’s next Strategic Plan and you can help! Since the City was incorporated, Oakley has used the strategic plans process to outline goals that lead to actions.

We are in the early stages of a process which will ultimately include a series of public workshops in the Spring and culminate in the creation of the detailed Strategic Plan. Currently, the best way to share your opinion is to complete our survey.

The Strategic Plan is an important document dictates the direction and priorities of the City. What is important to you ‐ public safety, planned growth, business? Take the survey and offer your perspective and feedback.

Survey in English
Survey in Spanish

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Celebrate Small Businesses in Isleton this Holiday Season – Saturday, December 18

Saturday, December 18, 2021
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Main Street, Isleton

40 Main St. Art Gallery is hosting this Saturday’s event. Restaurants, drinking establishments, vintage shops, Isleton Museum, and the Chamber of Commerce will be open. Local businesses will offer great gifts, and there will be music and refreshments!

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