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How One Berkeley Teacher Is Tackling White Supremacy

By Ana Tintocalis, KQED News Fix

Hasmig Minassian has been teaching history at Berkeley High School for nearly two decades.

She’s covered many topics over the years, but after the violence in Charlottesville, Va., this past summer, Minassian decided to scrap her regular lesson plans and develop something entirely new.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix. 

California’s Resistance to Trump? So Far, Semi-Successes and a Few Fizzles

By Laurel Rosenhall, CALmatters

The 2017 legislative session now wrapping up began with a rhetorical punch in the face to Donald Trump.

Democrats who rule California’s Legislature passed a winter resolution urging the newly elected Republican president not to pursue mass deportations, and denouncing “bigoted, racist, or misinformed descriptions of the immigrant community.” They went on, in the ensuing months, to tout the introduction of dozens of bills meant to preempt Trump’s administration from whittling down health care, cracking down on immigrants and canceling out environmental safeguards. A hashtag went viral: #stateofresistance.

Read the complete story at CALmatters.

BART Weighs New Ordinance to Crack Down on Fare Cheaters

By Dan Brekke, KQED News Fix

It was that rarest of occurrences: a heart-warming BART moment.

Exiting just ahead of me at San Francisco’s 16th/Mission station one day last week, a woman, probably in her 20s, approached an unlocked side gate on the station’s concourse. 

She glanced behind her and toward the agent’s booth, 20 yards or so away, to see if anyone who would do anything was watching.

Then she pushed the gate open and left without paying her fare … almost.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix.

They Come Hat in Hand for California’s ‘Green’ Money

By Julie Cart, KQED News Fix/CALmatters

It should come as no surprise that when the California Legislature recently began the process of divvying up proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions, a cavalcade of local officials, community activists and lobbyists rushed to Sacramento, with hands out.

Billions of dollars burning a hole in the state’s pocket has that effect on people, and the competition is fierce.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/CALmatters.

For more information about California’s cap-and-trade program, read the San Francisco Public Press (in collaboration with Earth Island Journal and Bay Nature magazine) special report on climate change.

Bilingual Education Advocates Celebrate New Policy for English Language Learners

By Ashley Hopkinson, EdSource

Martha Hernandez, who began her career as a bilingual educator in California in 1976, remembers a time when knowing a language other than English was not considered an asset. It was difficult to advocate for students learning to speak English and often programs did not provide enough math and reading intervention for those students.

But that’s all changing now.

Read the complete story at EdSource.

For more information on bilingual education in California, read the San Francisco Public Press Special Report "Bilingual Schools."

Move to End DACA Leaves Some Young Immigrants Fearing for Their Health

By Anna Gorman, Barbara Feder Ostrov, California Healthline/El Tecolote

The Trump administration’s controversial decision on Tuesday to scrap the DACA program does more than put nearly 800,000 “Dreamers” in fear of deportation and losing their jobs. It threatens the health care of thousands of young adults who either have job-based insurance or whose incomes qualify them for Medicaid in California and several other states.

“I am very upset,” said Paulina Ruiz, a cerebral palsy patient and Medi-Cal recipient who organizes for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and lives near the city. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to my health.”

Please read the complete story at California Healthline/El Tecolote.



Public Press Weekly: Our Polluted Planet

Air quality took the spotlight during last week’s record-breaking heat wave when the thermometers maxed out at 106°F on Friday in San Francisco. The scorcher triggered a Spare the Air Day and overworked many an air conditioner, and air-pollution watchdogs were on hand to check out any dips in air quality caused by heat and smoke. Caught in the regulatory crosshairs was the soon-to-be-shuttered Russian Consulate in San Francisco. It got a visit from an air quality inspector all good and ready to check out reports of black smoke belching from the building’s chimney (ultimately, the Russians weren’t slapped with a ticket).

The air pollution problem, however, is a more permanent part of the environmental landscape in West Oakland, where emergency room visits for asthma top those in other parts of Oakland. Using a new measurement tool, a study has mapped pollution in West Oakland block by block, showing that pollutants can be six times more concentrated in one block as compared with those in the next. And San Francisco has a map of its pollution hot spots — the most besmirched being SoMa.

It appears that localized air pollution will continue to be an issue. California renewed its cap-and-trade program in July, which helps reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. However, that program has been faulted for its lack of successin preserving the air quality of communities — mostly low-income — near industrial polluters.

As for the drinking water supply in schools, it, too, could be more clean and pristine if it weren’t for annoyances like lead contamination. States acknowledge the risk but only six require testing for lead. California schools have access to free state-funded tests, but only 11 percent of K-through-12 schools have signed on.

But don’t assume that active steps are all that’s required to deal with pollution. There is the do-nothing approach, a.k.a. monitored natural attention, whereby environmental agencies can choose not to treat groundwater contamination at toxic cleanup sites and, instead, let it diminish over time, a technique that has been criticized for potentially harming drinking water supplies.

In the consumer sphere, there is no rest for the weary. It turns out that big impediments to the spread of cannabis in California aren’t the feds or pharmaceutical companies. Instead, the culprit is dirt in the form of mold, pesticides and toxic solvents. And if getting your nails done is your go-to form of relaxation, keep in mind that many nail workers are not only paid peanuts but are also exposed to a so-called toxic trio of chemicals: dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde.

And then there are the natural toxins. Up and down the California coast, efforts are underway to save marine mammals from a deadly toxin, domoic acid, that causes potentially fatal domoic acid toxicosis.

It looks like the environment still needs a lot of help.

 Keeping an Eye on the Right Wing

✤   If you are curious about who the conservative activists were who came to Berkeley to demonstrate last month, take a look at profiles a few of them in “Who Were the Trump Supporters Who Came to Berkeley on Aug. 27?” (Berkeleyside)

✤   And what if they hosted a right-wing rally and nobody came? Read all about it in “Amber Cummings Holds a Rally in Berkeley. This Time, No One Else Shows Up.” (Berkeleyside)

Drought’s Over, Yet Californians Keep Saving Water

By Alastair Bland, KQED News Fix/Water Deeply

Good habits die hard, it seems, after five years of epic drought — for most Californians, anyway.

The historic dry spell from 2012 to 2016 prompted many state residents to reduce their water consumption, as did strict regulations imposed by state agencies and individual water districts. Whether they wanted to or not, urban Californians reduced their use of the state’s most precious resource by about a quarter.

Read the complete story at KQED News Fix/Water Deeply.

California Colleges Undaunted by Trump's Decision to Phase Out DACA

By Carolyn Jones, EdSource

Undocumented immigrant students will remain welcome at California colleges and universities, regardless of President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to roll back legal protections for so-called Dreamers, education leaders said.

“Our doors will be wide open for all eligible undocumented students. They are welcome and wanted,” said Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley. “And we will continue to offer state financial aid to those who are eligible.”

Read the complete story at EdSource. 

Local Pet Shelters Help With Hurricane Relief

By Laura Wenus, Mission Local

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texas shelters are preparing for a wave of lost and displaced pets. They’ll need room, so other shelters are taking in animals to help make space — including at least two local ones.

KRON4 reports that the San Francisco SPCA (which has a branch in the Mission) and Muttville senior dog rescue are among those part in the relief effort.

Read the complete story at Mission Local.