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Crosscurrents

Daily news roundup for Thursday, April 9, 2015

Yemen.jpg
KTVU
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San Francisco's Mokhtar Alkhanshali (left) recently escaped from war-torn Yemen.

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

San Francisco man shares story of escaping war-torn Yemen // KTVU

"While the conflict and bombing in Yemen continues to escalate, it has become nearly impossible for people to leave the war-torn country. Citizens from other countries, including India and China have had help from their governments evacuating, but the U.S. has no embassy in Yemen and there is no U.S. campaign to move its citizens out of the country.

"A San Francisco man who made it out of the war-torn country thanks to sheer luck, and daring, shared his story with KTVU, in the hopes that it would highlight the plight and struggles of other Yemeni-Americans trapped in the country. Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco. He travels to his parents' native country of Yemen often to visit coffee farms for his business. He never expected he would be trapped there while the country was embroiled in a full-scale war."

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SF to hold 'ugliest lawn' competition in response to drought // SF Examiner

"Beautifully manicured, green lawns requiring constant watering could win an ugliest yard competition the San Francisco Department of the Environment announced Tuesday, in an effort to conserve water during California’s ongoing drought. Through the 'San Francisco’s Ugliest Yard' competition, which runs to May 15, the department seeks to redefine what an attractive yard looks like.

"'The ugliest yard really isn’t one that is desolate and full of weeds and dirt,' said department spokesman Guillermo Rodriguez. 'A yard that wastes a lot of water to maintain – that is ugly.' San Francisco residents may enter the contest by taking a picture of their ugly yard for a chance to win a makeover with drought-tolerant plants native to The City. The competition – a first for the department, supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order last Wednesday to cut water use 25 percent statewide, Rodriguez said."

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San Jose affordable housing law faces key legal test // San Jose Mercury

"The California Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider how far cities can go in trying to provide more affordable housing across the state as housing prices and rents continue to soar. In a challenge to San Jose's five-year-old affordable housing ordinance, the state's high court will hold arguments in Los Angeles in a case that tests a policy tool now in place in cities stretching from Santa Monica to Napa.

"The Supreme Court is specifically reviewing a legal challenge to a San Jose law that would require housing developers to include affordable, below-market priced units for low-income buyers on any new projects within the city. The so-called "inclusionary housing" law has been on hold since the building industry sued to block it several years ago."

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Silicon Valley: Perks for Some Workers, Struggles for Parents // NY Times

"Tech companies shower their employees with perks like dry cleaning, massages and haircuts. But there is one group for whom working at a tech company can be much more difficult than working elsewhere: parents. Facebook hosts all-night hackathons. Google has weekend laser tag retreats. Many start-ups have no parental leave policy at all, so the first employee to have a baby has to ask the company to create one.
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"That Silicon Valley — known for being on the forefront not just of technology but also of workplace policy — creates so many difficulties for working parents highlights a vexing problem for the American economy. The United States is arguably struggling to adjust to the realities of modern family life more than any other affluent country."

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Oakland museum exhibit asks, "Who is Oakland?" // Contra Costa Times

"… The amazing, the normal, the quirky, the good, bad and everything in between, from the hills to the estuary -- they are all Oakland. And collectively they're the answer to a question posed by a new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California aptly titled, "Who is Oakland?" opening Saturday and running through July 12.

"For [lead artist] Chris Johnson's own work, titled "The Best Way to Find a Hero," he took maps of Oakland's "bad" neighborhoods, blew up the images, merged them into one and used it as a dartboard. Wherever a dart hit, he'd go to that street, knock on doors and record short video interviews with the people who lived there."

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From beer to milk, your favorite drinks need water - but how much? // LA Times

"The California drought has people thinking more about the amount of water it takes to produce our favorite foods and drinks. The Times has created an interactive graphic that shows the water used for a variety of foods, from meats and starches to fruits and vegetables.

"Agriculture uses 80% of California's water supply, and producing what you eat and drink can require a surprising amount of water…. It turns out some (e.g., milk) take more water to produce, while others (beer and grapefruit juice) need less."