Thursday Must Read

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Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Welfare recipients can use their state-issued debit cards at casino ATMs throughout California, raising concerns that poor people are gambling away taxpayer benefits meant for food and clothing, the Los Angeles Times reports. The state began issuing welfare benefits to poor residents in the form of debit cards in the 1990s. But it's unclear how much of those benefits have been spent at casinos. Governor Schwarzenegger said his office would move to make sure that casino ATMs stop accepting welfare debit cards.

2. The BP oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is providing impetus for a compromise bill that would increase green energy use in California, the LA Times reports. Governor Schwarzenegger and state Democratic leaders are backing the bill, which would require public and private utilities to increase their renewable energy use to 33 percent by 2020. Proponents say the bill would spur more green energy production in California and throughout the West.

3. New home sales plummeted dramatically in May to their lowest point in 47 years, following the expiration of President Obama’s first-time homebuyer’s tax credit on April 30, the CoCo Times reports. The dismal housing news raises new concerns about the nation’s ability to emerge from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

4. A BART police trainer testified that Johannes Mehserle was warned about the dangers of mistaking his gun for his Taser, the Chron reports. In addition, a defense video expert testified that Oscar Grant and his friends were the aggressors — not BART police — in the minutes before Mehserle shot Grant to death, the Trib reports.

5. Solo drivers will be able to buy their way into carpool lanes starting on September 20 when toll lanes debut in the Bay Area on Interstate 680’s Sunol Grade, the Chron reports. Regional transportation officials plan to extend toll lanes throughout the Bay Area during the next 25 years. However, as the Express previously reported, some traffic experts say toll lanes are a taxpayer boondoggle.

6. And Meg Whitman’s claim that she only had a verbal confrontation with a subordinate at eBay appears to be bogus, considering the size — $200,000 — of the settlement, legal experts tell the Chron.

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