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California Supreme Court To Review Constitutionality of Medical Malpractice Damages Cap

The California Supreme Court said today it will review the constitutionality of the state’s arbitrary 39-year-old damages cap of $250,000 in medical malpractice cases in Hughes v. Pham. Last week, Consumer Watchdog wrote an amicus letter asking the Court to review Hughes and overturn this decades-old injustice.

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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Consumer Alert on Scams Targeting Immigrants and their Families

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued a consumer alert to Californians about possible scams targeting immigrants and their families. Major changes to United States immigration policy, like those contained in President Barack Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions announced on November 20, 2014, often lead to con artists emerging to prey on vulnerable consumers seeking help with immigration services.

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Op-Ed: Reshma Shamasunder: Black Lives Matter

The story of Mike Brown reflects a painful reality felt all across the country: for too long, in too many communities of color across the nation - particularly in African-American communities - people have suffered harassment, humiliation, bias, and abuse at the hands of law enforcement.

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Consumer Watchdog: CA Medical Board Must Investigate Drug Company Payments to Doctors Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs To Foster Children

Following a report that prescription drug manufacturers have paid or spent more than $14 million to doctors who prescribe drugs to children in California’s foster care system, Consumer Watchdog called on the California Medical Board to expand an investigation into doctors who prescribed dangerous and unapproved psychotropic medications to children.

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Jay Lund: How engineers see the water glass in California

How do engineers see the water glass in California? The same as they did two years ago when this blog was first posted, though with today’s drought the glass is perhaps down to a quarter full — or three-quarters empty.

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Op-Ed: David Lamfrom: National Parks Group Applauds Lights Out Decision for Silurian Valley Solar Proposal

Today, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rejected an application for a solar energy proposal in Silurian Valley, located in California’s San Bernardino County. The solar proposal was on 7,218 acres of public lands, crossing over the Old Spanish National Historic Trail in the serenely beautiful area between the trail, Death Valley National Park, and Mojave National Preserve.

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Hazards of Open Pits for Storing Wastewater From Fracking Is Focus of New Study

Unlined open-air wastewater pits brimming with the toxic leftovers of fracking and other types of oil and gas development are threatening California's air and water quality, according to a study by two national environmental organizations.

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San Francisco turning to groundwater for its taps
Full story: SF Chronicle

Executive action will increase safety for many domestic violence survivors across California

President Obama’s recently-announced executive action will bring relief to many immigrants in California and across the country, including survivors of domestic violence and their families. Abusive partners often use the victim’s lack of immigration status and threats of deportation as tools to maintain power and control and prevent the victim from coming forward. The administrative actions announced yesterday will help protect those living in the shadows and enhance or increase safety for vulnerable victims and their families.

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Consumer Watchdog Praises European Parliament's Call To Break Up Google

Consumer Watchdog today praised an expected call from the European Parliament to break up Google to end the Internet giant’s monopolistic dominance, a remedy that the public interest group proposed more than four years ago.

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Thanksgiving Travel Shoots Up

This year Thanksgiving holiday travel is well on its way to reaching its highest levels since 2007, according to the latest travel survey from AAA.

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Op-Ed: Sally Miller: Wilderness advocates applaud BLM's denial of solar project in California's Silurian Valley

A decision by the Bureau of Land Management in California to reject an application for a large scale solar project in the remote Silurian Valley could aid in the protection of thousands of acres of desert lands that conservationists, local residents and community leaders have been focused on for years.

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Consumer Watchdog Asks California Supreme Court To Overturn Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages

Consumer Watchdog has joined the plaintiffs in Hughes v. Pham in asking that the California Supreme Court review the constitutionality of the state’s arbitrary 39-year-old damages cap of $250,000 in medical malpractice cases. Even though a jury awarded the injured plaintiff millions in noneconomic damages for his permanent disability, this award was slashed to $250,000.

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Northern California Reps. Statement on Senator Feinstein Pulling Deeply-Flawed Water Bill

Today, Northern California Representatives Jared Huffman (D-02), George Miller (D-11) Mike Thompson (D-05), Doris Matsui (D-06), Jerry McNerney (D-09), John Garamendi (D-10), and Ami Bera (D-07) released the following statement after Senator Dianne Feinstein announced she will not be pursuing passage of her water bill this year

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AG Harris Announces $23.8 Million Settlement with AT&T for Environmental Violations

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley today announced a settlement with AT&T to resolve allegations that hundreds of AT&T’s California facilities unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste and material over a nine-year period. As part of the settlement, AT&T will pay $23.8 million. In addition, AT&T will spend an estimated $28 million over the next five years to implement the enhanced environmental compliance measures required by the settlement. The settlement and proposed judgment, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, requires approval from the court before becoming final.

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Requiring Parents to Do Unpaid Work at Charter Schools Is Unconstitutional and Inequitable

Public Advocates, the California civil rights organization, released a report today on the alarming number of California charter schools that require parental work hours as a condition of student enrollment. The group argues that the practice is an illegal school fee and that it inequitably restricts access to charters for students from time-strapped or unstable families. The report, Charging for Access: How California Charter Schools Exclude Vulnerable Students by Imposing Illegal Family Work Quotas, surveyed half of California’s charter schools and found that 30% of them require parents to work at the school in order to enroll their child. Requirements range from a high of 96 hours to a low of 1 hour of required work per year, and some charter schools require parents to pay $10 or $25 per hour if they cannot work the hours.

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New tool helps Californians clear their juvenile records

For California residents looking to move past the mistakes of their youth, sealing juvenile records is a frustrating, confusing, and burdensome process, with each of the state’s 58 counties requiring different sets of obscure procedures.

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Magnitude 4.6 Earthquake near Salinas

This earthquake is expected to have a low humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

Earthquake Magnitude 4.6M, Depth:9km
11/20/2014 6:26:48 AM
2852027 people within 100km

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Stream Pollution Report Shows Trends in Chemical Contamination, Toxicity

Detections and concentrations of pyrethroid pesticides are increasing in California stream sediments, according to a new report by the Stream Pollution Trends Monitoring Program of the State Water Resources Control Board.

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$68 Million in Statewide Refunds at Stake in CPUC Corruption Scandal

TURN today demanded that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) rescind a 2010 decision that awarded $29 million in excess profits to PG&E [and an additional $39 million to California’s other large energy utilities]. There is mounting evidence that disgraced President Mike Peevey, currently under investigation by state and federal authorities, engineered the unearned award to pay PG&E off for political support.

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Boxer Reintroduces Legislation to End Mining Leases in Soledad Canyon

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today reintroduced the Soledad Canyon Settlement Act, legislation that would resolve a 15-year-long mining dispute between the City of Santa Clarita and CEMEX USA by requiring the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to cancel current mining contracts in Soledad Canyon and prohibit future mining at this site. The legislation was updated to make clear that it will have no cost to the federal government or taxpayers.

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Fracking the Poor: 20 percent of Californians who live below the poverty line also live within a mile of a well
Full story: In These Times

Chevron's Misguided Campaign: Oil giant's heavy-handed tactics in Richmond backfired big time
Full story: East Bay Express

Op-Ed: Randy Simmons: California's severe drought shows why we need to raise the price of water

Last January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency following projections of severe drought. State bureaucrats and local officials jumped into action and mandated any number of water conservation tactics. While some have been relatively successful, most will do nothing. In fact, it appears that despite the drought, water use may have actually increased in the past year.

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Coalition Releases Comprehensive Recommendations to Help California's Cities, Farms and Environment Weather the Drought

As dreams of a wet, El Niño winter fade and California heads into a possible fourth consecutive year of drought, a coalition of 15 environmental, fishing and public policy organizations released a set of recommended actions to modernize California’s water system and respond to the drought.

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Culprit identified: Team of scientists names densovirus as the top suspect in a devastating sea star wasting disease

Since 2013, millions of sea stars native to the Pacific coast of North America from Baja California to southern Alaska have succumbed to a mysterious wasting disease in which their limbs pull away from their bodies and their organs exude through their skin — a disease researchers say could trigger an unprecedented ecological upheaval under the waves.

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Mapping Drought Impacts in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada Foothills Using Remote Sensing on Nov. 24

Mahesh Rao, a research scientist from Humboldt State University, will describe recent research investigating the use of several remote sensing techniques to understand the effects of drought across the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills.

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Earthquake Fault Interpretive Area Temporary Closure

The Inyo National Forest announces a temporary closure of the Earthquake Fault interpretive area starting Friday, November 21, 2014.

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Personal Use Fuelwood Season Extended this Year on the Stanislaus

Due to the Rim Fire Closure Order lifting, Stanislaus National Forest is extending the personal use fuelwood season through Dec. 15th of this year rather than the normal Nov. 30th cutoff date.

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State's Report: Gov. Brown's Tunnels Could Cost $62 Billion

Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Twin Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to a State-sponsored Report on Affordability and Financing for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) showing the project is likely to exceed construction cost estimates by 34 percent and cost up to $62 billion for the expensive and unnecessary project. The average cost per acre-foot in this report is nearly double the amount that the BDCP’s analysts have been saying in recent years. “The Brown Administration is planning to stick families and businesses with the bill for subsidized water to mega-growers to export almonds and pistachios,” said RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “The latest report includes the news that the $24 billion construction bill is likely to grow to $32 billion. If this weren’t the governor’s pet project, the Peripheral Tunnels would be rejected by the Dept. of Water Resources, based on its own guidelines.”

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