- GOP blocks UC Berkeley law professor's vote to bench (Oakland Tribune)
Almost 15 months after UC Berkeley law school professor Goodwin Liu was nominated to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Senate Republicans opposed to his judicial philosophy and liberal credentials blocked a vote on his confirmation Thursday. This is the first time the GOP has successfully filibustered one of President Barack Obama's judicial nominations, after its Senate leaders for years said they opposed obstruction of straight up-or-down votes; threats of filibusters have stymied other nominees, however.
- Two suspects killed in Oakland officer-involved shooting (Oakland Tribune)
Friends and family are grieving the death of two men killed by Oakland police after a shootout Wednesday night on a narrow street in East Oakland. Officers fatally shot the two men during an unspecified operation by police and drug enforcement agents, authorities said. The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m. in the 3000 block of Curran Avenue, between 35th and Coolidge avenues, in the Upper Fruitvale neighborhood.
- Chauncey Bailey trial: Prosecution's case is built on lies, defense attorneys argue (Chauncey Bailey Project)
Lawyers for two men charged with murder in the 2007 slaying of journalist Chauncey Bailey told jurors Thursday that the prosecution's star witnesses against their clients is a calculating, manipulative liar who set them up. In closing arguments, defense lawyers Gene Peretti and Gary Sirbu said the charges against their clients hinge on one thing: the testimony of Devaughndre Broussard, a confessed killer who lacks credibility. Former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and his co-defendant, bakery member Antoine Mackey, should be acquitted because of it, the attorneys said. Bey IV and Mackey, both 25, are charged with murder in connection with the Aug. 2, 2007, death of Bailey, 57, and the unrelated shooting deaths of two other men, 31-year-old Odell Roberson and 36-year-old Michael Wills, in July 2007. Bey IV and Mackey have pleaded not guilty, and face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
The state's nonpartisan budget analyst agreed Thursday with Gov. Jerry Brown's rosier view that California will take in $6.6 billion more than once thought through June 2012, assuring that the revenue bump will factor into the state's fiscal solution. But Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor framed the budget divide in a different light than the Democratic governor, suggesting that lawmakers have more options than all cuts or all taxes to close a remaining $9.6 billion deficit.
California regulators have approved construction of two new Bay Area power plants, despite criticism that they aren't needed. One will be built in Oakley, the other in the hinterlands of Alameda County 7 miles northwest of Tracy. Like most California power plants, both will burn natural gas. Each won unanimous approval from the California Energy Commission on Wednesday. Critics contend neither one is needed. Ten years after the energy crisis, the state has a substantial surplus of electric generation capacity, even in hot weather.
The Oakland City Council is demanding that Mayor Jean Quan prevent her legal adviser, Dan Siegel, from representing the city in any way as an attorney. Siegel, who is an unpaid adviser to Quan, has been representing the mayor's office on various legal matters, from public records act requests to a private meeting with a judge overseeing a consent decree with the police department.
One out of every seven Oakland Unified public school students last year missed nearly four weeks of school, a rate of excused absences that startled district officials into action and underscores a problem statewide that researchers say could lead to academic failure in the future.
LinkedIn's phenomenal curtain raiser Thursday seemed as much a religious revival as an IPO as entrepreneurs, investors and analysts took it as a sign that Silicon Valley is headed for heavenly heights. The consensus is clear and in some cases cautionary: LinkedIn's stock-price jump of more than 100 percent right out of the gate will mean more VC money chasing startups, more entrepreneurs bucking to take their companies public, more investors jumping into the secondary market for pre-IPO darlings like Facebook, and possibly a few belly-flops by wannabes not yet ready for prime time.
Five faculty members at Stanford University's School of Medicine have been disciplined for giving paid promotional speeches for drug companies, a direct violation of school policy. "The actions are significant and have had an immediate impact or could have an impact in the future on their compensation or position within the medical school," said Paul Costello, medical school spokesman. Because Stanford personnel actions are confidential, no additional details were provided. In December, the investigative reporting organization ProPublica found that Stanford and several other teaching hospitals were not enforcing their own conflict-of-interest rules and instead largely relied on the honor system. Changes in federal rules and laws may soon require more disclosure of payments to medical school faculty -- and potentially more monitoring by school officials.
Roughly two-thirds of Marin County is highly susceptible to landslides, according to state officials who released a new statewide map Thursday showing areas where the earth might move in heavy rains or during a major earthquake. "Areas of Marin were built on hillsides in the 1920s and 1930s before grading codes were enforced," said Chris Wills, California Geological Survey supervising geologist, who led work on the map project. "They were built in an era when landslides were not considered." While much of the rock in Marin is moderate to strong, the steep slopes on which some homes are built in Sausalito, Mill Valley and other communities put them more at risk, Wills said.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera, his mayoral bid shaken by recent ethics disclosures, is represented by a prominent political consulting firm that lobbied him while simultaneously running his 2009 re-election campaign, records show. The activity appears to have violated San Francisco’s ethics laws, which prohibit political consultants from lobbying public officials they represent.
The author of a controversial bill that would ban shark fin soup in California on Thursday amended the measure to allow businesses that already buy and sell the Chinese delicacy to continue doing so until Jan. 1, 2013. Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, initially wanted the ban to go into effect for all businesses on Jan. 1, 2012. But in introducing the amendments on the Assembly floor Thursday morning, he said he wants to "grandfather in" restaurants and distributors that already sell shark fins and shark fin soup.
Beginning May 29, the bridge's west sidewalk, which is reserved for bicyclists and open on weekdays, will close for four months for seismic repairs to the bridge. That means more bicycles on the east sidewalk, the province of pedestrians and lots of tourists on rental bikes. The west sidewalk is already closed on weekends, which makes the east sidewalk nearly gridlocked on sunny days, especially in the summer. That has led to occasional run-ins between some speedy cyclists and walkers strolling the landmark span.
A would-be arms deal on Thursday ended in a standoff and the arrest of a woman and two men -- one of them named in the Fruitvale gang injunction -- just blocks from where two men were killed by police the night before. Thursday's incident began at 2 p.m. on the corner of Cuthbert and Nicol avenues in the upper Fruitvale District. Police working on a tip set up a sting in which they offered to buy two high-powered assault weapons from the suspect, Lt. Fred Mestas said.
Sales were swell on the beach Saturday, thanks to "American Idol" celebrity James Durbin, who gave a free concert for an estimated 30,000 fans at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The "Durbin Day" visit generated an estimated $1 million in visitor spending, put more people to work, filled up two of the city's largest hotels and resulted in a sandwich called the Durbinator.