Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. UC Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu, once touted as possibly the first Asian-American Supreme Court justice, won't even make it onto the appellate court. The Associated Press reports that US Senate Democrats, with approval from the White House, have quietly agreed to kill Liu’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in exchange for Republicans approving some of President Obama’s less controversial judicial nominees. Liu, a liberal, came under fire from conservatives in part because he once strongly criticized right-wing Justice Sam Alito. Liu has since shown contrition for his remarks, but Republicans decided to block Obama’s other nominations as long as Democrats kept pushing Liu and three other liberals for judgeships.
2. Oakland police shot and killed a man that they said flashed a gun at them after a high-speed chase, the Tribune reports. Police say they found the man’s gun, along with an assault rifle in the car he was riding in. It was the fourth fatal shooting by Oakland police officers this year.
3. East Bay residents are less likely to smoke than the average Californian, the CoCo Times reports, citing a new study. But surprisingly, that’s not true of San Franciscans. The Chron reports that San Francisco has an adult smoking rate of 13.5 percent, compared to a 10.9 percent rate for urban areas throughout the state. By contrast, the rate in Alameda County is 10 percent, and it’s 9.6 percent in Contra Costa County.
4. Stung by criticism of building a “train to nowhere,” the California High-Speed Rail Authority voted unanimously to spend another $1.2 billion so that the first segment of the state’s bullet train will connect Bakersfield to Fresno, the San Mateo County Times reports. However, high-speed trains won’t be put into service until the state raises at least $30 billion to extend the line from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
5. Jerry Brown announced a $2 billion settlement deal with Wells Fargo to modify 15,000 mortgages in California, in what was perhaps his last major act as attorney general, the Trib reports. The deal calls for Wells Fargo to refinance so-called “pick-a-pay” loans in which borrowers picked the monthly mortgage amount that they would pay for a time, before their payments would skyrocket.
6. Unfortunately, taking Echinacea does not significantly improve your ability to beat the common cold, AP reports, citing a new study released as the winter cold and flu season hits its stride. However, Echinacea may slightly improve your ability to overcome colds more quickly and lessen the symptoms.
7. And GM sold its first Chevy Volt in the Bay Area yesterday, helping launch the era of plug-in hybrids, the Chron reports. The Volt operates on its electric battery for about forty miles before its gasoline engine kicks in, allowing motorists to make long trips without having to recharge.