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In September 2003, Lakota Sioux Richard Iron Cloud and Armando Black Bear, novice swimmers from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near the Badlands of South Dakota, swam from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore in the first PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim. That tradition continued on Oct. 19, 2015, when Native Americans made the crossing from the “Rock” to San Francisco to conclude this year’s annual PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week.
Led by those inside California prisons, who often put their lives on the line, a settlement was reached on September 1 in the federal class action Ashker v. Governor of California that will mostly end indeterminate, long-term solitary confinement in all California state prisons. Subject to court approval, the agreement will result in a dramatic reduction in the number of people in solitary across the state and a new program that could be a model for other states going forward. Over a thousand people are set to make it out of Security Housing Units (SHU).
On November 2, red paint was splashed across the front door of Mission Santa Cruz. Following the Catholic church's canonization of Junipero Serra, a series of acts of vandalism has occurred on the Central Coast, including the beheading of a Serra statue in Monterey in October, and the splashing of paint on Mission Carmel and the toppling of a statue of Serra in September.
Sun Nov 1 2015 (Updated 11/02/15)
California Moves to Keep Whales Out of Crab Gear
A state-convened working group is recommending a series of initial steps toward reducing whale entanglements in crab gear in California, including more monitoring and retrieval of lost fishing gear. The Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group was convened in September after the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups found that whale entanglements in 2014 and 2015 had reached historic highs.
Governor Jerry Brown this October signed two bills that will require more frequent oil pipeline inspections and improve oil spill response, but the questionable "marine protected areas" created under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative still fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and Tribal gathering.
As advocates of Senate Bill 350 were celebrating the signing of the amended renewable energy bill by Governor Jerry Brown, a major appointment to a regulatory post in the Brown administration went largely unnoticed. In a classic example of how Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus in California, Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Bill Bartling who has worked as an oil industry executive and consultant, as district deputy in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources at the embattled California Department of Conservation.
As Jerry Brown continues to support the expansion of environmentally destructive fracking in California, the Governor on October 7 signed renewable energy legislation, SB 350, by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León. The bill was amended under heavy political pressure by the Western States Petroleum Association, the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento. Before being amended, Senate Bill 350 called for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks by 2030.
California:   4