Whale tale

Dec 28, 2012

It's whales vs. ships, and the whales won: Some shipping lanes are going to be moved.


From the Press-Telgram's Karen Robes Meeks: "Next year, shipping lanes that intersect three national marine sanctuaries off the California coast will be moved to help curb encounters between whales and ships, after the International Maritime Organization recently adopted changes to the routes..."


"Ships approaching the San Francisco Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach often travel through NOAA's Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Channel Islands national marine sanctuaries where blue, humpback and fin whales gather and eat."


"This has led to whale deaths. Four blue whales were killed "by confirmed or likely" ship strikes in and around the Santa Barbara Channel in 2007, while two blue, one humpback and two fin whales were killed in the San Francisco area and along the north-central California coast in 2010."


Organized labor won a major legal victory, as the state Supreme Court said the right of union members to picket on the private walkways in front of stores did not violate the constitution.


From the Bee's Denny Walsh: "The long-awaited and much-watched ruling reverses a 2010 decision by Sacramento's 3rd District Court of Appeal striking down two parts of the state's labor laws as unconstitutional and declaring retail owners can't be forced to allow picketing on their property just because it relates to a labor dispute."


"The high court sent the case back to the 3rd District for further proceedings in accord with Thursday's ruling."


"The appeal court will have to withdraw its order to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Loren E. McMaster to issue an injunction prohibiting United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8 from picketing at the entrance and on sidewalks adjacent to a Foods Co. store in the College Square development on West Stockton Boulevard in Sacramento. McMaster had refused to issue an injunction."


Five of Wall Street's heavy hitters got smacked by the feds for lobbying the governmnent and then billing the government for fees to cover the cost of lobbying. This is called chutzpah.


From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "Financial regulators ordered five of the nation's biggest bond underwriters to pay $4.5 million in penalties and restitution for unfairly billing government agencies for fees the underwriters paid an industry group to lobby the state Legislature and government officials."


"On Thursday, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in Washington said it had signed consent agreements with Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley."


"The companies neither admitted nor denied the charges but agreed to pay $3.35 million in fines to the authority and $1.13 million in restitution to certain bond issuers in California. The fees to the California Public Securities Assn. were not spelled out and violated federal regulations, according to the settlement agreements."


The drive across the Bay Bridge offers cool views, but soon a new element will be added -- lights.


From the Mercury-News' Denis Cuff: "Month after month, motorists traveling across the Bay Bridge have watched as the dazzling new eastern span takes shape high above San Francisco Bay."


"But come March, the old western span will grab the spotlight from its newer, flashier cousin. Work is proceeding to fit the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge with a coat of 25,000 white LED lights, transforming the gray workhorse into a shimmering, undulating light sculpture."


"Project organizers say the $8 million, privately funded project, set to sparkle nightly beginning March 5, is the largest sculpture of its kind in the world -- some four times larger than the permanent light installation on the Eiffel Tower in Paris."

That gun buyback in L.A. set records, according to officials, and the weapons that were turned in included -- are you ready for this? -- two rocket launchers.
From Alexander Abad-Santos in the Atlantic Wire: "The final numbers from the massively successful one-day gun buyback in Los Angeles have arrived: 2,037 firearms, including 75 assault weapons and two anti-tank rocket launchers were traded in for supermarket gift cards — no questions asked."
"But ... but ... we have so many questions. The first being, who in Los Angeles had military-grade rocket launchers in their house(s)?"
"Initial reports (like the one from The Los Angeles Times) only reported one anti-tank rocket launcher, but LA Weeklyhas word from an LAPD official that there were two picked up during yesterday's gun drive (and they have proof, pictured above at right). CBS Los Angeles reported that the city offered Ralph's gift cards up to $100 in exchange for handguns, shotguns and rifles, and gift cards up to $200 for California classified assault weapons, so we're guessing whoever turned in the rocket launcher got the full $200."

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