CALmatters

How California is rewriting the law on online privacy

Dec 2, 2019
Flickr/Stock Catalog

Our actions online have created a vast trove of information worth billions of dollars. Every time we search, click, shop, watch, send, receive, delete or download, we create a trail of data that companies can use to figure out our tastes and interests. We also hand over information when we use social media or loyalty programs at our favorite stores.

College students, seniors and immigrants miss out on food stamps. Here’s why

Nov 7, 2019
Jackie Botts/CALmatters

A college student in Fresno who struggles with hunger has applied for food stamps three times. Another student, who is homeless in Sacramento, has applied twice. Each time, they were denied.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to disgorge tens of thousands of inmates from its overcrowded prison system in 2011, Justice Antonin Scalia warned in his dissent of “the terrible things sure to happen as a consequence” including the “inevitable murders, robberies, and rapes to be committed by the released inmates.”

Wikimedia Commons/hakkun

If the plight of hungry and homeless college students has lately caught the national media’s attention, it’s in no small part due to the efforts of Temple University professor Sara Goldrick-Rab. 

California Air Resources Board

What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada?

That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline. Turns out the dust on his boots afforded him just the perspective he needed to take on the job Gov. Gavin Newsom gave him in January.

CALmatters

Russians hack Ukraine’s electricity network, turning lights off and on at will, rendering the country’s best tech hands helpless to intervene. North Korea takes over the controls of a South Korean nuclear power plant. Snipers with high-velocity rifles unleash a fusillade on a transmission station near San Jose, inflicting $15 million in damage.

It’s not the plot of the latest spy novel. Rather, it’s small sampling of actual attacks, the kind of sabotage against vulnerable energy systems that can cut off power with the click of a mouse and bring officials to their knees.

Shawn Hubler for CALmatters

Jen Burt lives with her husband and two kids in the woods not far from Grass Valley, in a four-bedroom foothill house in a stand of black oak and cedar trees. Tucked away on a private road, the five-acre spread is a hallmark California dream—and a potential California nightmare: It’s in wildfire country. Last February, Burt’s insurer of six years canceled her fire insurance. The scramble for new coverage was pricey and harrowing.

Should Baby Boomers get a property tax break to move?

Aug 14, 2018
Courtesy of CALmatters

Proposition 5, which California voters will decide on this November, allows homeowners age 55 and up to receive a major break on their property taxes when they move homes. Sponsored by the California Association of Realtors, the initiative attempts to address a problem familiar to many Californians of a certain age: You want to move from your empty nest, but you’re scared of the new taxes you’d have to pay on a downsized property.