Sarah Phelan

Japan’s “unconscionable” radiation levels for schools

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Japan Times is reporting that Physicians for Social Responsibility, a U.S.-based nonprofit, is challenging Tokyo’s position that it is safe for school kids to use playgrounds in the nuclear-stricken Fukushima Prefecture as long as the dose they are exposed to does not exceed 20 millisieverts (20 millirems) a year.

PSR has condemned those safety standards as “unconscionable”, Japan Times reported. Read more »

Homeowner defense groups to target Wells Fargo shareholders

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“Foreclosures are the new F-Word.” So said Regina Davis, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, at an April 29 seminar at SFHDC's office on Third Street that explored ways to prevent more foreclosures in San Francisco, California and beyond.

Since the economic meltdown in 2008, there have been 2,000 foreclosures in San Francisco. And the majority have impacted low-income folks and communities of color, who were sold more predatory loans than other groups, Davis and a panel of foreclosure experts warned
And as the recession drags on, another 2,000 foreclosures could be in the works, further destabilizing communities and draining more resources from the city, in terms of lost property values and related tax revenues.

And while deep-pocketed lobbyists have been making it hard to pass laws that would offer at-risk homeowners more protections, homeowner defender groups have decided to target, and now protest against, the group they believe stand directly in the way of equitable reforms: the banks. Read more »

And the next chief is...yes, Suhr!

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Mayor Ed Lee appointed a deeply emotional Captain Greg Suhr as Chief of the San Francisco Police Department during a swearing-in ceremony where the majority of folks were either elected officials, running for election, running each other’s electoral campaigns—or wearing SFPD uniforms.

And in the end it seemed that the choice may have been influenced by pressure from the powerful San Francisco Police Officers Association, judging from the comment Lee jokingly directed at SFPOA leader Gary Delagnes, saying, “Gary, it’s time to get quiet and go to work.” Read more »

Spies in blue

A secret memo indicates that SF cops may be working as FBI spies — with no local oversight

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sarah@sfbg.com

San Francisco cops assigned to the FBI's terrorism task force can ignore local police orders and California privacy laws to spy on people without any evidence of a crime.

That's what a recently released memo appears to say — and it has sent shockwaves through the civil liberties community.

It also has members of the S.F. Police Commission asking why a carefully crafted set of rules on intelligence gathering, approved in the wake of police spy scandals in the 1990s, were bypassed without the knowledge or consent of the commission.Read more »

Deadlock over Ma’s trash bill

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A State Assembly committee deadlocked Monday over Assemblymember Fiona Ma’s AB 1178, which opponents say would make it easier for Recology to send San Francisco trash by train to Yuba County.Read more »

Challenging the "rogue cell" theory of cancer

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The GuardianUK has an interesting piece about a new theory on cancer: Read more »

Follow the pension reform money to Wisconsin

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For those tracking pension reform, here’s a handy way to follow the money in Wisconsin, which arguably birthed a heated nationwide discussion about public workers’ collective bargaining rights: MapLight.org, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the influence of money in politics, has launched a new website that provides what it calls “transparency tools that show a simple dashboard view of money's role in the Wisconsin State Legislature.” Read more »

Covering the royal wedding

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The New York Times has a revealing article about how US networks have been adding Britons to their coverage of the royal wedding this coming weekend.

“As long as you have an English accent, you’ll work,” joked Rob Silverstein, executive producer of “Access Hollywood,” which is moving to London for a week.

Actually, if Silverstein really wanted to impress, he should have said, “As long as one has an English accent.” Read more »

Busy week for immigration reform advocates

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On Tuesday, April 26, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee holds a hearing on AB 1081, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act. The TRUST Act seeks to allow local governments to opt out of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE's) controversial “Secure Communities” program and to set standards for jurisdictions that chose to participate in S-Comm.

Also on Tuesday, Congressmember Luis Gutierrez kicks off his “Change Takes Courage” immigrant rights tour in seven California cities. Gutierrez lands in San Francisco Wednesday, April 27, and the Bay Area immigrant community and LGBT leaders will host him on the steps of City Hall, as Gutierrez asks President Obama to stop the record number of deportations of immigrant families and students that have already occurred under the Obama administration. Read more »

Ma's bill would make it harder to resist big city trash

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Assemblymember Fiona Ma has thrown another curve ball at San Francisco’s already hotly contested plan to dispose trash in Yuba County: Ma recently introduced AB 1178 which would authorize a local agency to assess special fees, rather than local cities and counties. Currently, local cities and counties hold the authority to “assess special fees of a reasonable amount on the importation of waste from outside of the county to publicly owned or privately owned facilities.” And that’s exactly what Yuba County has been discussing in face of having San Francisco’s trash buried in its backyard, starting 2015.
Equally importantly, Ma’s bill seeks to prohibit a city, county, or local agency from otherwise restricting or limiting in any way the importation of solid waste into that city or county based on place of origin. And that's another topic that's been hotly debated in Yuba County as residents there have come to realize that their local dump will quickly get filled by San Francisco's big city trash--ultimately forcing Yuba County to export its own trash elsewhere in coming years. Read more »