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Connecting the dots: Afternoon edition for Monday, January 30, 2012

Labor unions in California are preparing to pitch a fight for their political lives. In November, Californians will decide whether to require unions to ask for written permission from each member to use their dues for political purposes. Political scientists say the measure has the potential to severely damage the political clout of big labor...

Former high-tech industry laborers are having a hard time finding work in Silicon Valley’s evolving job market. Over-40-year-old members of a government-financed support group based in Sunnyvale say they’re having a much more difficult time landing a job than their more youthful industry counterparts...

As many continue to look for work, others continue their search for aliens. Using money from Silicon Valley millionaires and the general public, a group of astronomers has revived its search for extraterrestrials in Northern California after a brief funding shortage...

While some have their eyes and ears on other planets, others just want a better commute – and commuters from the North Bay might get just that. Opponents of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit have failed to gather enough signatures to repeal the sales tax that supports the SMART train project, clearing a hurdle for the proposed railway...

Deceased San Francisco billionaire Warren Hellman will be remembered at a free concert next month, either in Golden Gate Park or on Ocean Beach. Hellman, who funded the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, died last month at the age of 77.

Connecting the dots brings the day’s news together.