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Crosscurrents

Daily news roundup for Thursday, June 25, 2015

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Johanna Varner
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KQED Science
A wildflower grassland in McLaughlin Natural Reserve. The new study suggests grasslands are losing wildflower diversity with climate change. (UC Davis)

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

Reductions to bail rates divide S.F. legal community // SF Chronicle

"An attempt by San Francisco Superior Court judges to bring bail amounts into line with surrounding Bay Area counties has set off a firestorm of controversy in the legal community.

"The changes, which go into effect Wednesday, include lowering the scheduled bail for "continued sexual abuse of a child" from $1 million to $500,000 and "personal use of a firearm in specific felonies" from $1 million to $200,000."
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Judges help taggers spray city with graffiti // SF Gate

"Almost everything you thought you knew about graffiti tagging in the city is wrong.

"It isn't that he police can't catch the taggers. It's not easy, but the Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru says SFPD is booking more taggers than ever."

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25,000 librarians in S.F. to debate future of their business // SF Gate

"For years, Luis Herrera has fought against the perceived demise of public libraries.

"The city librarian at San Francisco's Main Library on Larkin Street has heard it all: Libraries are becoming obsolete. People are too busy with their iPads and iPhones. E-books are cheap. Technology is too great and any information people need can be found on Google."

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San Francisco requires water recycling // KQED

"The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance today requiring developers to instlal water recycling systems on large, new buildings in the city.

"'We need to stop using pristine drinking water to flush our toilets and to do landscaping,' says San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener. 'We are in a crisis and we need to act like we're in a crisis.'"

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East Bay hills tree removal plan still sparking debate // East Bay Express

"For residents of the East Bay hills, the question is not whether another fire will happen, but how bad the event will be. The hills are prone to particularly destructive fires, a result of hot, dry weather in summer and fall, huge amounts of flammable vegetation that litter the hills' forests, and the limited access that firefighters have to the area. Over the past century, fifteen major wildfires have raged through the hills. The worst, of course, was the 1991 firestorm, also known as the Tunnel Fire, which killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

"In the years after the fire, UC Berkeley, the City of Oakland, and the East Bay Regional Park District began devising plans to cut down on the number of trees and plants in the hills in order to reduce the fuel load during future fires. The three public agencies then applied for millions of dollars in grants from the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency (FEMA) to pay for their vegetation-management plans."

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Climate change threatens wildflower diversity in California // KQED

"Wildflowers are the newest addition to the growing list of California species being hit hard by climate change. A new study from UC Davis shows that drier winters are causing big declines in the state's native wildflowers, the first direct evidence of how climate change is affecting California's grasslands.

"'California is one of the world's most special places for plant diversity,' says Susan Harrison, professor of environmental science and policy at UC Davis and the study's lead author."