Tag Archives: California

CHP writes thousands of tickets for hands-free driving law violations

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

SAN BRUNO, CA — “They still don’t get it,” says California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall.  He was, of course, referring to the more than 20,000 tickets CHP has issued over the past three months to drivers breaking the by using a hands-free cell phone law.

The California driving law imposes as fine of $20 for a first-time offense and a $50 fine for each additional offense.  Exceptions however are allowed, like calls to law enforcement agencies for emergency purposes or emergency services personnel while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

According to a Harvard study in 2002, 5 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by distracted cell phone users.  CHP statistics also show that cell phone use is the top cause of accidents triggered by distracted drivers going all the way back to 2001.  (www.asianjournal.com)

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California Allows Same-Sex Marriage

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court ruled out on Thursday, May 15, that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting State marriage laws as discriminatory. California has followed the State of Massachusetts as the second state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

The SC Justices, voting 4-3, in a decision penned by Chief Justice Ronald M. George, ruled that “excluding access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couples or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by marriage statutes. That will simply make the benefits of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children.”

“The exclusion of the same-sex couples in the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children,” the Justices wrote. “No one is hurt by allowing same-sex couples to marry; instead same-sex couples and their children will be getting the same benefits that everybody else enjoys in the state. No more, no less.”

Fairness and Equality

“Today, our Supreme Court has acted in accordance with the great California traditions of fairness and equality, of live and let live. The California Supreme Court had the integrity and the courage to do its job and say that all Californians are entitled to equal protection of the law,” said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood. “All but one was appointed by Republican governors. And today, that moderate court did exactly what it is supposed to do.”

“It’s been four hard years, but with persistence, strategic thinking, and fearless determination, we’ve succeeded,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, and co-counsel on this case. He thanked the support that he received from more than 500 groups from the state of California “who submitted briefs to the court, asking them to uphold the freedom to marry, including the NAACP, MALDEF and APALC.”

“Today’s a historic day. I think future generations will look back to today’s decision as a landmark decision for fairness and equality,” Davidson added.

Long overdue

The long-awaited court decision stemmed from the city of San Francisco’s highly publicized same-sex weddings, which in 2004 helped spur a conservative backlash in a presidential election year and a national dialogue over gay rights. After a month of jubilant same-sex weddings in San Francisco, the California Supreme Court intervened and ordered city officials to stop issuing licenses to gay couples, and later invalidated the documents and declined to address the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage until lower courts acted first.

Last September, a broad coalition of over 60 local, state, and national Asian American organizations filed a groundbreaking amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the plaintiffs in the Marriage Cases, a case before the California SC challenging the state’s marriage statute. The Asian American organizations sought to support basic fairness for same-sex couples and their families, drawing from parallel discriminatory efforts targeting the Asian American community, including past struggle of Asian Americans with marriage discrimination in California.

“We are thrilled by today’s landmark victory. Now our fight will be to preserve this win in November, where there will likely be an initiative to overturn this breakthrough,” said Karin Wang, API Equality-LA steering committee member and vice president of programs at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC).

“I am truly excited that a Filipino can marry other gay people,” opined Noel Alumit, 40, a FilAm community organizer with the Make Arts/Stop AIDS at University of California, Los Angeles.

“This is an incredible right that the Philippines could not have. That is why my family is here. My family brought us here so that we could follow our dreams,” Alumit added.

Proud Californian

“Today, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Californian,” said Mayor Villaraigosa at a press conference held at the Gay & Lesbian Center in Hollywood, a couple of hours after the ruling came down. “I couldn’t be prouder of the California Supreme Court – whose shift 60 years ago, in a landmark decision – ruled that you couldn’t discriminate on marriage based on race. We are now leading the way once again, and here in California same-sex couples can marry; that it’s a fundamental right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Not yet over

The ruling is not likely to end the debate over gay marriage in California. Even before the ruling was handed down, conservative groups have been circulating petitions to put an initiative in the November 2008 elections that would seek to amend California’s Constitution to block same-sex marriage. Before Thursday’s ruling, gay rights lawyers predicted that a victory in the California Supreme Court would help them defeat the proposed constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, which the lawyers predicted could qualify for the November ballot. The California Supreme Court has six Republican appointees and one Democrat.

“What is important about this decision is that not only is it historic – what is important is it goes into effect in 30 days, and basically that means that gay people who have been longtime partners who wanted to be married, who haven’t been able to get married, will be able to go out and do it,” said Tori Osborne, senior adviser to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Center.

“It looks as if the conservatives are going to call for a marriage ballot initiative in the November (2008) ballot,” Osborne said, “but it would be much harder to the people of California – who are fair-minded and good – to take away this right once they see people actually line up and get married.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Major Earthquake to Hit California – Forecast

by Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – A new research study released Monday reported that Southern California is likely to experience an earthquake of 6.7 magnitude or greater in the next 30 years. Researchers found that there’s a 46% chance of a magnitude 7.5 or greater temblor striking in the next few decades.

The study marks a rare effort to actually forecast the likelihood of a major temblor in California known as “earthquake country.” The report is significant because such a large temblor could cause billions of dollars in damage as well as loss of life.

“This new, comprehensive forecast advances our understanding of earthquakes and pulls together existing research with new techniques and data,” explained USGS geophysicist and lead scientist Ned Field in a statement. “Planners, decision makers and California residents can use this information to improve public safety and mitigate damage before the next destructive earthquake occurs.”

The forecasts were made by combining “information from seismology, earthquake geology, and geodesy [measuring precise locations on the Earth’s surface. For the first time, probabilities for California having a large earthquake in the next 30 years can be forecast statewide.

Study participants include the US Geological Survey, the California Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Illegals Not to Blame for Budget Problem – Gov

by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

In a meeting with local officials and business leaders in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked by Diane Blakeslee, mother of Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo,) how the state should handle fiscal burdens created by illegal immigrants.

In his response, Schwarzenegger said it would be a “big mistake” to blame illegal immigrants for the state’s looming $8 billion budget problem.

“There is, you know, always a time like this where you start pointing the finger at various different elements of what creates the budget mess, and, you know, some may point the finger at illegal immigrants,” Schwarzenegger said. “I can guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento, I don’t think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in.”

The governor has spent the last two weeks traveling to different cities to discuss the budget and ask local residents to pressure their legislators into early negotiations.

He was in San Luis Obispo to pitch his budget proposal to local officials and business leaders. His comments came a day after Assembly Republicans announced a package of 20 bills they said would help California reduce the “negative impact” that illegal immigrants have on the state budget. Included are proposals to repeal a law enabling undocumented students from paying in-state college tuition and demand more money from the federal government for housing illegal immigrants in state prisons.

Schwarzenegger said he believes the United States should pursue immigration reform and have tougher border controls. But he added that blaming illegal immigrants “because we have a budget problem would be a big mistake. I think we have to look at ourselves in Sacramento. We in Sacramento have the responsibility to come up with a coherent budget system, and we haven’t done that.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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“Don’t Blame Illegals for Budget Deficit” — Schwarzenegger

By Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com

In a meeting with local officials and business leaders in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked by Diane Blakeslee, mother of Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo,) how the state should handle fiscal burdens created by illegal immigrants.

In his response, Schwarzenegger said it would be a “big mistake” to blame illegal immigrants for the state’s looming $8 billion budget problem.

“There is, you know, always a time like this where you start pointing the finger at various different elements of what creates the budget mess, and, you know, some may point the finger at illegal

immigrants,” Schwarzenegger said. “I can guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento, I don’t think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in.”

The governor has spent the last two weeks traveling to different cities to discuss the budget and ask local residents to pressure their legislators into early negotiations.

He was in San Luis Obispo to pitch his budget proposal to local officials and business leaders. His comments came a day after Assembly Republicans announced a package of 20 bills they said would help California reduce the “negative impact” that illegal immigrants have on the state budget. Included are proposals to repeal a law enabling undocumented students from paying in-state college tuition and demand more money from the federal government for housing illegal immigrants in state prisons.

Schwarzenegger said he believes the United States should pursue immigration reform and have tougher border controls. But he added that blaming illegal immigrants “because we have a budget problem would be a big mistake. I think we have to look at ourselves in Sacramento. We in Sacramento have the responsibility to come up with a coherent budget system, and we haven’t done that.”

(www.asianjournal.com)

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Gas Prices Soar Nationwide

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

 

LOS ANGELES — Motorists in Northern California are already paying more than $4 a gallon for gas, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) reported on Tuesday. In Oakland, a Shell station sold premium gas at $4.05 a gallon, and in the State capital of Sacramento, gas prices are $1 higher than they were one year ago.

Analysts predicted that it will only take weeks before nationwide gas prices reach the $4 level. The national average this week for regular gas topped $3 per gallon, and motorists could be paying record prices this holiday season, the analysts added.
“Usually Americans have more money to spend each holiday season because gasoline prices tend to give up 25 per cent of their value after summer,” said Tom Kloza, an analyst with the Oil Price Information Service. “But this year there is a second coming of the gasoline rally that may be the Grinch that stole Christmas.”

Barring some unexpected developments like a big drop in the price of oil, Kloza and other experts said, gas could be headed towards $4 a gallon by spring. Gasoline prices have trailed surging oil prices, but they are starting to catch up as crude oil nears $100 a barrel. Oil settled down slightly on Tuesday, at $96.37 a barrel.

On Wednesday the national average gas price for unleaded regular reached $3.04—an increase of nearly 28 cents in the last month– according to AAA. Average gasoline prices in November had never exceeded $3 a gallon before this year. A year ago, the average price at the pump was $2.20, meaning it costs roughly $12.50 more today to fill a car with a 15-gallon tank.

In some states, like California, for example, the average price motorists are paying is higher. On Wednesday that average was $3.31. In the Northern California city of Stockton, the average price is $3.30 a gallon, and in Modesto, it’s a bit cheaper at $3.28 a gallon for regular gas. This year, the record price for regular gas was $3.43 and it was posted in May, according to AAA.

In Houston, Texas economist Barton Smith said that gas prices could breach the $4 a gallon mark by next summer. He added that despite the spikes, consumers will pay up. If, as a result of spiraling gas prices, Americans are driving less over all, it is not evident in the national statistics. Americans have consumed an average of 9.3 million barrels of gasoline a day so far this year, an increase of 0.6 per cent from last year, says the Energy Department. But there are signs that many Americans are feeling the pinch, and business economists are worried that rising gasoline prices will cut consumer spending this holiday season.

“I actually drive to Tahoe, but I can’t afford to drive right now,” says Diana Quintero, a driver from Houston, Texas. She was forced to change her driving routes and even her car. “I can’t afford $80 a week. I just can’t,” she said. Farhan Muhammed can only put $5 in his tank to make ends meet. “It’s really hurting everybody. It’s really expensive,” he said.

Economist Smith said whether prices go up or down, Americans have not noticeably slowed down in their consumption of gas. “Not only will the spikes hurt at the pump, it would trickle down and affect the day-to-day expenses,” Smith said. “It affects food, clothing, and electronics. You’ll see the effects at the grocery store,” Smith said.

“Generally, I go out less now,” said Janet LaVigne, 51, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. She fills her 1994 Mazda Protégé daily to deliver newspapers in communities outside Cleveland. “I do my job and come home. I used to go out to the movies, sometimes to restaurants, but now I can’t afford the gas.”

Sara Scheerer, a 17-year-old high school senior, said the high cost of fueling her 1999 Ford Explorer to drive to basketball team practices and school had forced her to get a salesclerk job at Walgreens. “I can’t spend as much money on other stuff like clothes,” she added.

Geoff Sundstrom, an AAA spokeman, projected that the average regular gas prices nationwide would be at least $3.20 by Christmas. Amanda Kurzendoerfer, a commodities analyst at Summit Energy Services Inc., predicted a price as high as $3.50 by Christmas—which would be a record for any time of the year.

Kurzendoerfer also predicted that while oil prices could exceed $100 a barrel in the near term, they will average $75 to $80 in 2008. Still, she said gasoline prices would most likely be higher in the spring when oil refineries will have to produce more expensive blends for warmer weather and the heavy summer driving season begins.

In the Los Angeles area, regular gas averages from $3.13 to $3.28 a gallon. At a Unocal station in Beverly Hills, premium gas is pushing the $4 level at $3.99. It could breach that level any day now.

As a consolation, American motorists are still ahead. In the United Kingdom, the price of a gallon of gas has reached the equivalent of $8 on Wednesday. (www.asianjournal.com)

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