California

Ethnic Voters Bolster Democratic Edge in State, Poll Finds

Lissette Alvarez, SF Public Press — Nov 4 2012 - 12:56pm

California is reliably “blue” — Barack Obama carried the state by 23 points in the last election — largely because of the rise of ethnic voters, a new survey by the Field Poll found. “This hasn’t always been the case,” said the poll’s director, Mark DiCamillo. Republicans won seven of the nine elections between World War II and 1982, when the state became solidly Democratic in federal elections. “The main reason for it is because of the growth of ethnic population.”

Food Prices at Center of Debate Over GMO Labeling in Prop 37

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Oct 29 2012 - 12:20pm

Proposition 37, the state ballot measure requiring labels on genetically modified food, has revived a long-simmering debate about whether genetically modified food harms human health or the environment. But it’s the claim by opponents that food prices would increase that is riling proponents.

Without long-term support, human trafficking survivors at risk of re-exploitation

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Aug 30 2012 - 9:31am

Some who flee captive labor conditions end up with low-wage jobs, insecure housing

People trafficked into the country receive temporary government and nonprofit social service benefits after rescue or flight from captivity: shelter, health care, counseling, employment and legal help. But once these benefits term out, counter-trafficking specialists worry that victims, who generally have little work experience and weak social and family networks, could fall back into labor conditions as exploitative as the ones they fled. As a victim of international labor trafficking, Lili Samad received government help to stay in the U.S. But she is among hundreds of trafficking survivors each year who end up, months after getting help trying to build a new life, living in marginal housing and working in low-wage jobs.

Krugman: California represents the worst of current U.S. economic crisis

Shawn Gaynor, SF Public Press — Jul 13 2012 - 12:37pm

The budget pain facing California this year is not California’s fault, said Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who has been among the most outspoken writers critiquing the government’s response to what he calls an economic “depression.” “Gov. Brown faces political constraints that, if anything, are even worse than those faced by President Obama, because of the craziness of California’s constitutional setup,” Krugman said at a recent appearance at the Commonwealth Club of California. He said Proposition 13, the state’s requirement of a legislative supermajority to pass tax increases, was the main culprit.

State, tech companies forge alliances to combat sex trafficking

Shoshana Walter, California Watch — May 21 2012 - 2:59pm

Last year, California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined attorneys general across the country in declaring war against Backpage.com, a free classified website run by Village Voice Media. The officials threatened legal action if the site didn’t stop running ads for adult services, some of which have been linked to underage sex trafficking. But while Harris took a confrontational tone with Backpage – which has since balked at shutting down its adult pages – a more cooperative dynamic has emerged this year between the attorney general and online companies.

Tobacco brands zero in on black youth, study finds

Bernice Yeung, California Watch — Apr 23 2012 - 5:12pm

Tobacco marketing is targeting California's low-income and African American youth, according to researchers who examined advertising throughout the state. Academic researchers funded by the state’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program found that there was greater visibility of menthol cigarette advertising at retailers near high schools where there are larger African American student populations.

New center harnesses mobile technology to fight trafficking

Ashley Aires, New America Media — Apr 19 2012 - 3:09pm

In the effort to combat human trafficking, mobile technology is becoming an essential tool. That’s why in late 2011, Kavitha Sreeharsha and colleague Kelly Heinrich left their positions with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to join the fight. In October 2011, the pair began the anti-trafficking group Global Freedom Center, which focuses on harnessing the growing potential of smartphone technology to spread the word about human trafficking. “Computers aren’t the only way to stay connected,” Sreeharsha explains. “More and more people … are getting smart phones. A group in India can easily communicate with a similar group in West Africa, and our network wants to make this even easier.”

State says lax rules might let builders use questionable licenses

Les Mahler, SF Public Press — Mar 26 2012 - 9:13am

This story appears in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

The agency overseeing companies that build houses and office buildings across California has for years trumpeted its ability to sniff out phony contractors, often publishing photos of dramatic undercover police stings of unlicensed builders at work on half-finished suburban cul-de-sacs. But now the agency, the Contractors State License Board, is looking into a problem of the state’s own making — a program that allows contractors to essentially lease out their licenses.

How California ranks in investigation of states' integrity

Carol Goodhue Shull and Robert Shull, Investigative Newsource — Mar 19 2012 - 5:29pm

For better or worse, there’s only one California. With the largest population, third-largest area and by far the most campaign spending, it has been both mocked and admired for its independence, its powerful citizen initiative process, its far-reaching political reforms, its Hollywood actors-turned-governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan, and its sometimes-wacky ideas of governance.

Citizen petition claims more than 800,000 signatures for anti-trafficking ballot measure

Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Mar 16 2012 - 8:00pm

A nearly three-year effort to put a strong anti-human-trafficking law before voters succeeded this week, organizers said, when they counted 873,000 signatures on their petition to put the proposed Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act on the November state ballot. The citizen-led campaign to strengthen criminal penalties against people who traffic teenagers, children and immigrant laborers on the streets of California cities, and over the Internet, has been working on the issue since 2009, when some Fremont residents started a grassroots organizing effort.

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