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Sun Mar 31 2019 (Updated 04/02/19)
Governor Newsom Suspends Death Penalty in California
Governor Gavin Newsom signed an order on March 13 putting a moratorium on California's death penalty, thus ordering a reprieve for the 737 people on death row. The action suspends any further executions in California as long as Newsom is governor. But only California voters can repeal the death penalty, which they narrowly rejected at the ballot in 2016. Newsom also ordered the immediate closure of the state's execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison. The order does not otherwise change any existing convictions or sentences — and will not lead to any death row inmates being released.
The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Bureau of Land Management over its refusal to provide public records of its plans new oil drilling and fracking along California’s Central Coast and in the Bay Area. The BLM has yet to publicly release the final plans, but earmarked for leasing are lands in Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Merced, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus counties. The Trump administration’s plans would end a six-year moratorium on leasing federal public land and mineral estate in California to oil companies.
On March 18, climate activists targeted the nation's fourth largest bank for protest, just in time to crash its annual founding day celebration. They seized the entire block of California Street between Montgomery and Sansome for three hours, shutting down a major entrance at Wells Fargo headquarters during that time. The action was the culmination of the March for Fossil Fuel Freedom that started in Palo Alto days earlier, a trek of hundreds forming a human billboard to demand Wells Fargo stop funding the fossil-fuel industry.
On January 19, at women's marches throughout the Bay Area, the focus was on unity rather than the rift in the national group. Optimism was abundant despite a slight decrease in attendance over last year. The marches were not without critics who cited a lack of attention to the plight of the underhoused and other issues effecting women. Unlike the city of New York where there were two separate marches, however, a spirit of solidarity ruled the day.
Wed Jan 16 2019 (Updated 02/19/19)
Get Up, Get Down! Oakland Is a Union Town
On January 12, several thousand teachers, students, staff and supporters marched and rallied in Oakland to defend public education and call for increased funding. The Oakland Education Association contract has expired and teachers are discussing striking in February. In Los Angeles on January 14, tens of thousands of teachers went on strike. Oakland teachers are promising a wildcat strike on Friday, January 18.
Sun Jan 13 2019 (Updated 01/16/19)
Delta Smelt on the Brink of Extinction
For the first time ever, a fish survey that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts every autumn turned up zero Delta Smelt throughout the monitoring sites in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in the last four months of 2018. The Delta Smelt, listed under both federal and state Endangered Species Acts, is regarded as an indicator species, a fish that demonstrates the health of the entire Delta ecosystem.
Fri Jan 11 2019 (Updated 01/14/19)
DNA Testing May Save Kevin Cooper's Life
Kevin Cooper is an African-American man who was wrongly convicted of murder in 1985. He has been on death row at San Quentin for decades. On December 24, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown ordered new DNA testing. Kevin Cooper responds: I am happy that we have finally “won” something from some entity in this state. But after learning what exactly outgoing Gov. Brown wrote... I am not as excited as I was at first, or should be.
Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, that reclaims what was lost during the African holocaust, the sense of an African connection. In California's Central Valley, Kwanzaa takes on special significance in the long standing African American farming community's journey to reestablish agriculture as the foundation of culture in the farm to fork capital of America.
US border authorities fired tear gas into a group of Central American asylum seekers on November 25. Shortly before the attack, over 200 people attended a rally in San Ysidro to support the caravan migrants. The violence of the attack is being condemned worldwide. In Northern California, protests were held on November 25 in San Francisco; November 26 in Palo Alto; December 1 in Oakland, El Cerrito, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz; and December 2 in San José.
A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to cease issuing permits for offshore fracking and acidizing in federal waters — waters over 3 miles from shore — off of the coast of Southern California. On November 9, U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ruled that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act when it allowed hydraulic fracturing and acidizing in offshore oil and gas wells in all leased federal waters off Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
On November 16, Forest Defenders in Humboldt County took to the trees on forestland owned by Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), California's most massive clear cutter and largest landowner. They are defending old growth and mature trees on a timber plan very close to where they have been defending forests on Humboldt Redwood Company land. Activists are calling attention to corporate logging of large, fire-resistant trees, damage to water quality, and other destructive environmental impacts.
Wed Nov 14 2018 (Updated 12/01/18)
Fire Season of 2018 Brings Historic Devastation
California anxiously awaited the first winter rains, seeking reprieve from the notoriously destructive "fire season" of 2018. In the Northern California Camp Fire, 88 people are reported dead and hundreds remain missing. The fire destroyed virtually the entire town of Paradise. Firefighter radio transmissions suggest that PG&E could be to blame. In Southern California, the massive Woolsey Fire started on the grounds of Santa Susana Field Laboratory, the site of a partial nuclear meltdown, and area residents are concerned about contaminates. With heavy rains finally beginning on November 21, the wildfires are now either mostly contained or fully extinguished, and the hazardous air quality the fires created throughout the state has been cleared.
Sun Nov 4 2018 (Updated 11/08/18)
The Rent Is Too Damn High
UPDATE 11/8: While millions of ballots remain uncounted in California, it appears Prop 10 was defeated.

Grassroots activists have been campaigning hard for the Affordable Housing Act, a ballot initiative to repeal California’s Costa Hawkins state law and return control of rental housing law to local jurisdictions. Several localities have promised to act rapidly should Proposition 10 pass. But real estate interests have spent over $70 million to defeat Prop 10. Should it not pass on November 6, housing rights activists remain committed to pushing for rent control and other tenant protections locally and statewide in the future. Nationwide, a new movement has been inspired by California's efforts.
On October 19, the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Right to Adequate Housing, Lelani Farha, released her new report documenting the “global scandal” of homeless encampments. In January of 2017, Farha spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California to meet with unhoused residents and housed advocates and described the conditions as "cruel and inhuman." The only U.S. cities explicitly called out for violations in the UN’s report on global homelessness are San Francisco and Oakland.
UPDATE 9/18: Governor Brown signs AB-2178 into law.

The California Assembly and Senate have passed AB-2178, which would impose new restrictions on individuals and community groups like Food Not Bombs that share free meals. Volunteer groups feeding the poor and homeless pose little food safety risk. These grassroots groups have operated for decades and follow strong private food safety practices. They fill a critical gap that the state itself struggles to address.
Fri Aug 31 2018 (Updated 09/10/18)
Demanding an End to Modern Day Slavery
Prisoners in at least 17 states are coordinating sit-ins, hunger strikes, work stoppages and commissary boycotts from August 21 until September 9 — the 47th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. At New Folsom Prison, a hunger strike started by Heriberto Garcia on August 21 has grown. On August 25, around 500 activists turned out for a solidarity rally at San Quentin Prison.

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