By Andrea Castillo for McClatchy DC – The city of Clovis won its more than three-month-long civil trial against chemical manufacturing giant Shell Oil Co. over the cleanup of a toxic chemical found in drinking-water wells around the city of 108,000 people. The chemical is 1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP, which is a waste product from making plastic. TCP was in farm fumigants last used in the 1980s, which were injected into the ground to kill tiny worms called nematodes. A jury on Wednesday awarded the city nearly $22 million, finding that Clovis residents were harmed by the design of the fumigant, that Shell did not prove the benefits of its product outweighed the risks, and that those risks were known at the time it was sold.
By Liz Martinez and Roque Planas for The Huffington Post – LOS ANGELES ― Days before he died, Pedro Villanueva asked his mother for permission to go to Tijuana with his cousin over the Fourth of July weekend. She refused, worrying that Mexico would be too dangerous for her 19-year-old son. Now she wonders if she made the right decision. “I said, ‘Oh no, if you go to Tijuana, what if something happens to you?’” Hortencia Villanueva told The Huffington Post. “You know, [as a parent] you’re always trying to protect your children. And always thinking that the worst things happen in Mexico, not knowing that these things can happen right here.
By Liliana Segura for The Intercept – ON THE DAY a California jury sentenced 25-year-old Irving Ramirez to die, Dionne Wilson went out to a bar to celebrate. “We had a major party,” she told me. Ramirez had shot and killed her husband, Dan, in 2005 — the first Alameda County cop to be murdered in the line of duty in almost 40 years. The district attorney tried the case himself; when the death sentence came down two years later, Wilson felt satisfied she could finally move on with her life.ON THE DAY a California jury sentenced 25-year-old Irving Ramirez to die, Dionne Wilson went out to a bar to celebrate.
By Ellen Brown for The Web of Debt Blog – School districts are notoriously short of funding — so short that some California districts have succumbed to Capital Appreciation Bonds that will cost taxpayers as much as 10 to 15 times the principal by the time they are paid off. By comparison, California’s Prop. 51, the school bond proposal currently on the ballot, looks like a good deal. It would allow the state to borrow an additional $9 billion for educational purposes by selling general obligation bonds to investors at an assumed interest rate of 5%…
By Nika Knight for Common Dreams – The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission on Wednesday voted 3-2 to reject a Phillips 66 oil train project, an outcome that was met by a standing ovation. “Here’s one for the people,” said Martin Akel, a member of Mesa Refinery Watch, a group that opposes the rail-spur project, according to local newspaper The Tribune. “The commissioners got it finally. We finally beat back a major business institution that only had its self-interests in mind, not the people.”
By Daniel Ross for Truthout – In a region known for being among the worst nationally for its air quality, plans are marching briskly forward on a proposed integration project that will combine operations at two sprawling oil refineries near Southern California’s Long Beach area, expanding it into the single largest oil refinery by far on the nation’s West Coast. The merger threatens to introduce additional toxins, such as benzene and sulfur gases, into a community that is already suffering from unnaturally high rates of asthma, cancer and other ailments, warn experts.
By Staff of Reuters – (Reuters) – An unarmed black man has died after being shot by a police officer in El Cajon in southern California on Tuesday, the local police department said, appealing for calm as local media reported crowds had gathered at the scene of the shooting. The death comes less than two weeks after black men in Charlotte, North Carolina and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were shot dead by police, sparking protests. In Charlotte, rioting prompted the authorities to impose a state of emergency.
By Sharon Bernstein for Reuters – SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept 12 (Reuters) – California will become the first U.S. state to require farmers to pay overtime to field workers and fruit pickers under a bill signed on Monday by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. The bill would phase in overtime pay for farmworkers from 2019 to 2022. In an industry where a work week during the harvest season can be as long as 60 hours, the measure requires farmers to pay overtime after eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News. California cities are leading the nation in eliminating one of the biggest hurdles to the growth of residential solar: lengthy and confusing permitting. Spurred by a recent state law, hundreds of California communities have streamlined their permit process for small residential solar systems over the past year, some bringing it down to a single day. Some cities have also fast-tracked inspections to within a few days of permit approvals. The outcome? The state’s biggest cities are now processing and signing off on hundreds of these solar projects each month. San Jose, for example, streamlined its permit review and approval process last August and has since approved more than 4,500 residential rooftop solar permits. That’s a nearly 600 percent increase over the previous year, when San Jose, California’s third-largest city, permitted a mere 661.
By David Bacon for Capital and Main – For the state’s first hundred-plus years, certain unspoken rules governed California politics. In a state where agriculture produced more wealth than any industry, the first rule was that growers held enormous power. Tax dollars built giant water projects that turned the Central and Imperial Valleys into some of the nation’s most productive farmland.
By Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News – Diablo Canyon, California’s last remaining nuclear facility, will be retired within a decade if state regulators agree to a proposal by Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation and several environmental and labor organizations to replace its power production with clean energy. The San Francisco-based utility said on Tuesday that it will ask state regulators to let operating licenses for two nuclear reactors at its Diablo Canyon power plant expire in 2024 and 2025. The utility said it would make up for the loss of power with a mix of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage that would cost less than nuclear power.
By Sonali Kolhatkar for Truth Dig – Hundreds of people crowded outside the Pasadena Courthouse on Tuesday—which was also California’s primary election day—jostling one another on the cramped sidewalk to show support for Jasmine Richards. The 28-year-old Richards, who has adopted the last name Abdullah to show kinship with her mentor, Melina Abdullah, faced a sentencing hearing after being convicted of a controversial charge that was until recently called “felony lynching.”
By Steve Early for Counter Punch – Residents of Richmond and other California refinery towns have learned, over time, to be wary of state and local officials too closely tied to companies like Chevron. Politicians who benefit from “independent expenditures” on their behalf or direct campaign donations from oil producers or, their lobbying group, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) tend to be less enthusiastic about protecting the environment by reducing fossil fuel dependence.
By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt – In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state’s oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND’s profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever. The BND has had record profits for the last 12 years, each year outperforming the last. In 2015 it reported $130.7 million in earnings…
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Hoping to avoid a costly ballot fight, California lawmakers and labor unions on Saturdayreportedly reached an agreement to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour gradually by 2023. Governor Jerry Brown is expected to make a formal announcement on Monday, but a source close to the negotiations revealed the content of the deal to the Los Angeles Times two days ahead. “According to a document obtained by The Times, the negotiated deal would boost California’s statewide minimum wage from $10 an hour to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2017