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Hoping to Save Limbs and Toes, California Moves to Curtail Diabetes

By David Gorn, CALmatters 
The word “amputation” threw a chill down Michael Rubenstein’s spine. The 67-year-old diabetic from San Mateo still winces at the thought. “They told me I’d need to cut it off right about here,” he said, sawing his hand across his left shin. Two months after that diagnosis, he’s on an exam table at the Center for Limb Preservation at UC San Francisco, his leg still whole, the threat of gangrene and amputation gone and his mood a lot less bleak and fearful. “Yeah, it turns out I didn’t need that,” he said.

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California’s Soda Tax Ban Stalled a Grassroots Movement, but Didn’t Kill It

By David Washburn, EdSource
It had, in many respects, become the little movement that could. After more than a decade of failed attempts at both the state and local levels to impose soda taxes, health advocates scored a watershed victory in 2014 when Berkeley voters approved by a two-thirds majority a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages sold within the city limits. It was the first city in the nation to do so. Read the complete story at EdSource.

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Once Again, California Lawmakers Won’t Crack Down on Payday Lenders

By Antoinette Siu, CALmatters
When phone bank worker Melissa Mendez, age 26, felt financially squeezed a few months ago —“I was short on cash and needed to pay rent”— she walked into a Cash 1 storefront in Sacramento and took out a payday loan. The annual interest rate: 460 percent. That rate would shock a lot of people. Not Mendez, who once worked behind the counter at an outpost of the lending giant Advance America. She had fielded applications for short-term loans from all sorts of people: seniors needing more money because their Social Security check wasn’t cutting it, people in between jobs and waiting for a first paycheck, and people like herself, lacking enough savings to get to the end of the month.

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California Considers Cutting Ties to Firms Carrying Out Trump’s Immigration Policies

By Elizabeth Castillo, CALmatters
Although California can’t do much to block the Trump administration’s controversial immigration policies, opponents in the “Resistance State” keep finding ways to chip away at their foundations. The latest: pushing the state and its Democratic leaders to cancel its business deals with, investments in, and campaign donations from private companies with federal immigration contracts. Read the complete story at CALmatters. 

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California May Soon be First State to Require Public Universities to Offer Abortion Pills

By Elizabeth Castillo, KQED News/CALmatters
Jessica Rosales recalls plunging into a downward spiral after discovering that her birth control had failed and she was pregnant. A financially unstable third-year student at UC Riverside, she immediately sought an abortion — something the campus student health clinic did not provide. Instead she was referred to private medical facilities off campus. One wouldn’t accept her insurance; the other didn’t provide abortions. Her grades slipped, she said, and she frequently slept the days away to escape her circumstances.

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New Pathway Gives State Community College Students Guaranteed Admission to Private Colleges

By Mikhail Zinshteyn, EdSource
Three dozen private California colleges and universities are offering a path to guaranteed admissions for community college students, adding a new option for those who want to earn their bachelor’s degrees in four years. The actions of the private colleges are part of a continuing trend that has seen stronger ties between the state’s community college system and its four-year colleges and universities. Read the complete story at EdSource.

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California Teacher Pension Debt Swamps School Budgets

By Jessica Calefati, CALmatters
California’s public schools have enjoyed a remarkable restoration of funding since the bone-deep cuts they endured during the recession, but many are now facing a grave financial threat as they struggle to protect pensions crucial for teachers’ retirement. Over the next three years, schools may need to use well over half of all the new money they’re projected to receive to cover their growing pension obligations, leaving little extra for classrooms, state Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates show. This is true even though the California State Teachers’ Retirement System just beat its investment goals for the second straight year. Read the complete story at CALmatters.

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Google Executive Is Dead, but Ex-Tenants Still Face Eviction

By Joe Eskenazi, Mission Local
Evan Wolkenstein has a lot on his mind these days. In a very San Franciscan touch, the high school teacher has, at age 44, just had his first child. And, in what is also a very San Franciscan touch, he is consumed with existential angst about where he and his wife will be raising this child. That’s a worry for so many burgeoning San Francisco families. But, as of June 1, the landlord of the building he’s lived in since arriving here 14 years ago ceased accepting Wolkenstein’s rent checks.

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Cleaning Up: Inside the Wildfire Debris Removal Job That Cost Taxpayers $1.3 Billion

By Sukey Lewis, KQED News/The California Report
Last Oct. 23, as the wildfires that ignited two weeks earlier still smoldered across Northern California, a few hundred survivors gathered at a press conference in downtown Santa Rosa to hear an update on their next major hurdle: getting rid of the ash, toxic debris and waste left behind where their homes used to stand. One after another, federal, state, and local officials reassured the anxious crowd. They promised that their devastated homes would be cleared safely, carefully and quickly. Read the complete story at KQED News/The California Report.