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Second federal judge rules against health reform law

January 31, 2011

By Daniel Weintraub

A second federal judge has ruled that the federal health reform law passed last year violates the US Constitution, matching the two judges who have affirmed the law’s legality. The dueling opinions all but ensure that the matter will be decided in the Supreme Court.

Federal District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida ruled that the law’s provision requiring most Americans to buy insurance coverage violates the Commerce clause of the Constitution because it would regulate not what people buy but what they decide not to buy.

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Safe Routes to School: Minimizing the Liability Risks

January 29, 2011

More than a decade ago California led the way for the “Safe Routes to School” movement, an international effort aimed at making it safer and more appealing for kids to use their own power to get to and from school. Mapping out routes, organizing groups of young walkers and bicyclists, and funding street and sidewalk improvements are some of the hallmarks of Safe Routes to School programs. Despite all the advantages, we’ve found that school districts are sometimes afraid to launch a Safe Routes to School program. Why? Because they’re worried about being sued if an injury occurs. But liability fears shouldn’t stop school districts from supporting these programs.

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Report: California hospitals should do more to promote breastfeeding

January 27, 2011

Report: California hospitals should do more to promote breastfeeding

The latest study on hospital breastfeeding rates is out, and advocates say California still has a long way to go toward ensuring that every new mom who wants to breastfeed is given the support she needs to make that happen. According to the WIC Association — a network of nutrition programs for mothers and infants — and the UC Davis Human Lactation Center, breastfeeding is a “crucial first step” in protecting the health of mothers and infants. Hospitals that have followed baby-friendly practices, including offering formula supplements only as directed by a physician, have the highest rates of breastfeeding. Those hospitals that do not have these policies, including many serving the state’s poorest families, tend to have the lowest rates.

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New poll shows support for Brown’s budget

January 26, 2011

By Daniel Weintraub

Californians are not too fond of Gov. Jerry Brown so far and they don’t quite understand the state’s budget mess, but they seem to like the ideas that Brown has put on the table for solving the state’s fiscal predicament, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

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Budget primer: CalWorks would be cut by 50 percent

January 25, 2011

By Daniel Weintraub

California’s welfare-to-work program, known as CalWorks, would take a major hit if the budget proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown becomes law.

While the program has long been a symbol of “big government” and even lent its name to what some call the “welfare state,” welfare has changed significantly since the 1990s.

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A schoolyard comes back to life

January 24, 2011

A schoolyard comes back to life

Gay Olivos loves Willard Intermediate School. It’s a family thing. Olivos, her father and grandfather graduated from the Santa Ana junior high on the corner of Ross Street and Washington Avenue. Her family’s history is here, and Olivos wants to preserve the place that holds so many good memories. “When I was growing up, we would always go to Willard and play,” she said. The Willard schoolyard was where Olivos and the neighborhood kids went to run and fly kites after school and on weekends. But time, neglect and the statewide school funding crisis changed the grassy, five-acre field where Olivos played into a disheveled lot with portable classrooms parked on asphalt. The field was fenced, gates were locked, and Santa Ana’s children lost a rare piece of open space in one of California’s most densely-populated cities. See Margaret Simpson’s story on how Olivos and her husband helped bring the old schoolyard back to life.

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A Second Chance in Salinas

January 21, 2011

A Second Chance in Salinas

Brian Contreras created 2nd Chance in Salinas, California in 1989 after a shooting took place outside of his home. For the last twenty-two years the non-profit has worked to address the city’s growing problems with gang violence and empower residents. Megan Baier interviewed Contreras in Salinas. Here is his story:

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Bleak employment numbers obscure good news in California economy

January 21, 2011

By Steve Levy

The headline numbers in today’s California employment report (12.5% unemployment and a 4,900 job gain) give a misleading reading of the improvements in the California economy during the pat two months.

Job growth in November, originally reported 1,600, was revised upward to 30,500 based on gains in manufacturing, retail trade and services.

And the job growth for December includes losses of 15,400 government jobs and additional losses of another 3,200 construction jobs.

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State analyst proposes limits on community college classes

January 20, 2011

California’s independent legislative analyst has recommended a series of steps to prioritize community college resources for students who are making progress toward educational goals while ending subsidies for students who have exceeded a certain number of units or are repeatedly enrolling in non-academic courses such as physical education. Under the analyst’s proposal, the state would mandate registration priority for students who have participated in testing, orientation and counseling and completed an educational plan while making satisfactory progress to their academic goals

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Walmart joins healthy foods movement

January 20, 2011

If there were still any doubt that the healthy foods movement has reached critical mass, it was dispelled Thursday when Walmart jumped on the bandwagon with promises to improve the nutritional content of food it sells in its superstores. The retail giant vowed to force its suppliers to reduce the sugar and sodium content of the food it sells and eliminate trans fats from the products on its shelves. The company also pledged to bring down the price of healthy foods so that they are on par with less healthy fare.

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