Search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Reveals Garbage Pollution Problem in the Ocean

By Leila Monroe

Natural Resources Defense Council

In the desperate search for clues about the fate of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, information about a global environmental issue has unexpectedly come to light. Multiple times in the past week, search and rescue teams have been disappointed when debris spotted from the air or satellite has turned out to be “ordinary garbage.”

Feinstein, Congressmen Request More Delta Water for Corporate Agribusiness

By Dan Bacher

Senator Dianne Feinstein and six San Joaquin Valley Congressmen on March 27 sent a letter to Interior Secretary Jewell and Commerce Secretary Pritzker requesting more Delta water for San Joaquin Valley corporate agribusiness interests, claiming that water exports wouldn't harm endangered Central Valley Chinook salmon, Delta smelt and other fish species.

"We are writing to urge you to immediately evaluate the operating criteria that govern the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP) so that actions can be taken as soon as possible to capture the maximum amount of water from this week's storm in California," said Feinstein and Representatives Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and David Valadao.

Majority of Californians Support High Speed Rail Project

By Robert Cruickshank

Great news from the Public Policy Institute of California, which has a new poll out on various political issues in California. The poll shows that a clear majority of Californians continue to support high speed rail:

Funding for the War on Poverty Seems to Have Dried Up

By Virginia Hamilton

I started my career in workforce development in 1978 in Stockton California, at a local “employment office.” My job was to call employers to see if they had job openings, and transcribe those job openings by pen on to a piece of paper posted in the lobby. Unemployed people stood in front of the “job board,” and if they saw a job they thought they might qualify for, they would ask to talk to a job placement specialist like me, to see if they could be referred to the employer. I could also refer them to job training to gain skills, or to Public Service Employment, to gain work experience.

Restore the Delta Calls for Investigation into Water Mismanagement

By Dan Bacher

As supporters of corporate agribusiness interests carried signs proclaiming "Food and People Before Fish" at a Congressional field hearing in Fresno, Restore the Delta (RTD) today called on the federal government to provide drought relief to Delta farmers and business owners and to investigate the mismanagement of water resources in California.

Apparently, the public relations folks who crafted the signs didn't understand the irony of the fact that salmon and other fish that depend on the Sacramento River and the Bay Delta Estuary provide food for millions of people in the state of California - and support thousands of jobs in a multi-billion dollar industry.

Driverless Vehicle Regs Must Protect Users' Privacy

By John Simpson

I was up in Sacramento recently to call on the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure that the regulations that they are developing to govern the use of autonomous vehicles – popularly known as driverless cars –will protect the operators’ privacy.

The company that will be most directly affected by the new autonomous vehicle regulations is Google, which is pioneering development of the robot-driven cars. The Internet giant was the driving force behind SB 1298, which charged the DMV with the task of developing the regulations and also rebuffed attempts to require privacy protections in the law.

The Castaway Elders: Living Alone and Poor

By Viji Sundaram

New America Media

Somehow, the dozen or so hats piled atop Brenda Washington’s wardrobe and those hanging from hooks on her apartment walls initially draw a visitor’s gaze away from all the other items that clutter her 8 x 10-foot room.

Hats, some of them rather fancy, are the last things you’d expect to see in such profusion in a room where someone clearly lives in dire straits. Washington’s closet is crammed with clothes. “I paid a lot for some of them, like my London Fog,” she says of a coat. “I dress for success. Is there anything wrong with that?”

But signs of better times are few for Washington, 64, who says she hates living alone in a Central City single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel room.

Paid Sick Days a Win-Win for California

By Krista Collard

California Labor Federation

Every time I start to feel under the weather, I’m reminded of the wise words of a former supervisor. During cold and flu season she would always remind us that if we’re not feeling well or even just a little “off,” we should stay home. She’d sweetly say, “We don’t need a hero, guys. If you’re sick, please don’t come into the office. Stay home. Rest up.”

She had been around long enough to know that it took just one person trying to work with a cold to pass it around, and before long the whole staff would be down for the count. While she genuinely cared about our health and wellbeing, any smart supervisor understands that if the entire staff is ill, productivity goes down the tubes.

California's Radical De-Incarceration Experiment

By Mike Males

Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

California has undertaken two gigantic experiments in de-incarceration, one of youths and the other adults. They were largely forced on the state by court mandates and budget constraints—but also by some key policy changes.

The first experiment is so radical that even the most progressive reformers could never have envisioned it. California has all but abolished state imprisonment and has sharply reduced local incarceration of youths to the lowest levels ever recorded—by far.

A Great Divide: The Election Fight for California's Schools

By Gary Cohn

An election campaign now being fought almost completely out of public view could radically alter the way California’s school children are taught. If Marshall Tuck unseats incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the state’s public education system could become a laboratory for a movement that prizes privatization and places a high value on student test scores over traditional instruction. The contrasts between the two top contenders in the nonpartisan race could not be more dramatic – nor could the stakes for the country’s largest education system.