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By Eric Johnson
Published Jan 15, 2024

Hey, Mickey—please pay attention to your driving! Hey, Mickey—please pay attention to your driving! Image credit: Antonio Gravante, Shutterstock

Killer Cars, COVID & Copyright

Happy MLK Day, California. A reminder that this day was dedicated to volunteerism when Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act of 1990, encouraging Americans to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy “with acts of civic work and community service.” If you are in a position to do that and plan to do so, we commend you.

And a reminder that below our featured articles, you will find an easily digestible digest of curated news from trusted sources. 


Are Fatal ‘Accidents’ a Form of Violence?

This week we begin with the first of two articles about unnecessary losses of life. Jon Vankin writes about the increasing phenomenon of “traffic violence,” which is also known as the automobile “accident.” As you will see, thousands of Californians lose their lives each year because we’ve designed our transportation system to optimize for cars instead of people. Meanwhile, pedestrians are being killed by distracted drivers in bigger and bigger cars in devastating numbers.


Death on the Roads: Traffic Fatality Crisis Far From Over

California traffic deaths dropped by 12 percent in the first three months of 2023, but road fatalities remain at crisis levels.
As the COVID pandemic eased, so did the epidemic of death on the road. Somewhat. But the ongoing crisis of traffic fatalities remains at high levels with early numbers form 2023 appearing to top 4,000 in California.

Reading ‘The Wisdom of Plagues’ on COVID

In his new book, a former New York Times science reporter and expert on pandemics writes: “If the lies hadn’t been told ... we really would’ve ended up with only about 600,000 dead instead of 1.1 million dead.” I consider the book’s harrowing truths while suffering from a late case of COVID-19.


COVID Still Sucks

As I post this, the tiny pipe-mark beneath the T on this COVID test card, indicating that I am still infected, feels like it’s lodged in my stinging left eyeball.
A new book, ‘The Wisdom of Plagues,’ makes me feel angry that I contracted the disease in what should be the post-COVID era.

Mickey Mouse Is Free

For generations, US copyright law was determined largely by the value of one iconic piece of intellectual property. The fascinating tale of the Walt Disney Company’s successful campaign to protect the world’s most famous mouse, which has finally come to an end.


Mickey Mouse Enters Public Domain. What That Means for California

The version of Mickey Mouse seen in the 1928 animated short “Steamboat Willie” is now free for public use.
Disney icon Mickey Mouse is now in the public domain, meaning anyone can create their own Mickey Mouse cartoons. Here’s what that means, and how it could affect the California economy.


Impact Report Image for decorative use


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Recent Statewide News

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• SCOTUS to Hear Case with Major Implications for Homeless

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case related to whether cities and towns can ban camping on public property. The high court could overturn Martin v. Boise, a 2018 federal court decision that keeps western cities and counties from blocking public camping when sufficient shelter space is unavailable.

(01/12/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Fourth Graders Might Lose Free Access to California State Parks

California’s projected budget deficit of close to $38 billion likely means some cuts are coming. Among them, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed ending the California State Park Adventure Pass, which offers free access to some state parks for fourth graders.

(01/12/2024) → SFGate

• Iconic California Restaurant Closes Without Warning

Pea Soup Andersen’s, a Buellton, Calif., restaurant just shy of its 100th birthday, closed suddenly. The restaurant's other location, near Interstate 5 in Santa Nella, remains open.

(01/10/2024) → SFGate

• $10M-Plus Lawsuit Follows Multiple Deaths at Sacramento Jail

Sacramento attorney Mark Merin has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a man who died in May after being held at the county jail. Other inmates have died in recent years, and the jail is under a federal consent decree to improve its health care.

(01/09/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Hate Crimes Rising in Los Angeles

Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism found that hate crimes rose 12.9% between 2022 and 2023. The spike follows a particularly stark increase in crimes against Jewish people.

(01/09/2024) → LAist

• Newsom Sets March 19 Special Election to Fill McCarthy’s Seat

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for a March 19 primary to elect a replacement for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who resigned from Congress in December. If a candidate doesn’t win outright, a runoff will be held on May 21.

(01/08/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• State Trying to Use Generative AI to Reduce Traffic

Caltrans has set a Jan. 25 deadline for tech companies to show how generative artificial intelligence might reduce traffic congestion in the state. This follows an executive order that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in September related to this type of AI.

(01/08/2024) → LA Times

• New Year Brings Protections for Deep-Sea Corals and Ocean Fishing Opportunities

New rules took effect Jan. 1 permanently protecting the most fragile deep sea corals off Southern California. Simultaneously, more than 4,500 square miles of ocean waters are now reopened to fishing after more than 20 years of closures.

(01/08/2024) → YubaNet
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (01/11/2024)

World Green Nutrition, Inc. is Recalling ELV Alipotec Brand Mexican Tejocote Root Supplement Pieces (Raiz De Tejocote Mexicano Suplemento En Trozos), Net. Wt, 0.3 0Z (7g), Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander in this Product

WORLD GREEN NUTRITION, INC. is recalling ELV ALIPOTEC brand MEXICAN TEJOCOTE ROOT SUPPLEMENT PIECES (RAIZ DE TEJOCOTE MEXICANO SUPLEMENTO EN TROZOS), NET. WT, 0.3 0Z (7g), due to the presence of yellow oleander in this product. The consumption of yellow oleander can cause adverse effects on neurolog
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/10/2024)

U.S. Trading Company of Hayward, CA is Recalling Dragonfly Jelly Bars Because it Contains Konjac Powder and May Present a Choking Hazard

U.S. Trading Company of Hayward, CA is recalling Dragonfly jelly bars because it contains konjac powder and may present a choking hazard. Konjac and its consequent texture and consistency could pose a choking hazard to small children as well as adults with functional and/or anatomic abnormalities.
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/10/2024)

Rizo Lopez Foods, Inc. Recalls Aged Cotija Mexican Grating Cheese (8oz) Because of Possible Health Risk

Rizo Lopez Foods, Inc. of Modesto, CA is recalling a total of 344 cases of Aged Coja Mexican Gratng Cheese (8oz), UPC 72724200043 batch number 4DW-23318 because it has the potenal to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and somemes fatal infecons
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/10/2024)

Update: Quaker Issues Revised Recall Notice with Additional Products Due to Possible Health Risk

The Quaker Oats Company today announced an expansion of the December 15, 2023, recall to include additional cereals, bars and snacks listed below because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children,
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/10/2024)

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Outrageous Oat Cookies for Undeclared Wheat

Wegmans has initiated a voluntary recall of Outrageous Oat Cookies purchased from its in-store bakeries starting on January 3, 2024, because they may contain undeclared wheat.
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/09/2024)

Kinjin Food Pvt Ltd, Maharashtra, India Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Wheat Traces in "Vandevi Asafoeitida Yellow Powder"

Kinjin Food Pvt. Ltd. Maharashtra, India is recalling its 50 gm, 100 gm, 200 gm & 500 gm, 1 Kg packages of "Asafoetida" Vandevi Yellow powder because they may contain undeclared traces wheat. People who have allergies to wheat run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they con
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/09/2024)

HY Success Inc. Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Fat Choy Kee Dried Longan

HY Success Inc. of Brooklyn, NY is recalling its 5 ounce packages of Fat Choy Kee Dried Longan because they contained undeclared sulfites. Consumers who have severe sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume this product.
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/08/2024)

Ventura Foods Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Fish (Anchovy) Allergen in Publix Deli Carolina- Style Mustard BBQ Sauce

Ventura Foods of Brea, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2024) - has initiated a voluntary recall on Publix Deli Carolina-Style Mustard BBQ Sauce sold exclusively at Publix Super Markets, Inc., because it contains Traditional Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce that may contain a fish (anchovy) allergen that is not declared on
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/08/2024)

Vesta Fiery Gourmet Foods Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Wheat in 1.5oz Glass Jars of Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauces

Vesta Fiery Gourmet Foods, Inc., of Raleigh, NC - JANUARY 8, 2024, is voluntarily recalling Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauce Ghost 1.5oz glass jar UPC 7 94571 99498 0, Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauce Hot 1.5oz glass jar UPC 7 94571 99497 3, Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauce Reaper 1.5oz glass jar UPC 7 94571
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/08/2024)

Vesta Fiery Gourmet Foods Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Wheat in 1.5oz Glass Jars of Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauces

Vesta Fiery Gourmet Foods, Inc., of Raleigh, NC - JANUARY 8, 2024, is voluntarily recalling Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauce Ghost 1.5oz glass jar UPC 7 94571 99498 0, Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauce Hot 1.5oz glass jar UPC 7 94571 99497 3, Benny T's Vesta Dry Hot Sauce Reaper 1.5oz glass jar UPC 7 94571