On the rise

Feb 14, 2011

Here's a cheerful thought to start your week: The cost of fuel is on the rise and this spring we may see the return of $4-a-gallon gasoline. Gary Richards in the San Jose Mercury News has the story.


"For the first time in three years, pump prices this year may reach the psychologically frightening $4 threshold, which is sure to change some drivers' habits. Gas prices are already the highest they've been since 2008, and a growing number of energy analysts think they will keep rising until the current $3.45 a gallon in the South Bay seems cheap."


"Gasoline prices will breach $4 a gallon in San Jose at some point in April or May," predicted Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at gasbuddy.com. "Diesel prices in California should easily breach $4 a gallon in the next two months."


Speaking of cars, the Toyota Highlander once driven by former Sen. Carole Migden  and the wife of Sen. Leland Yee is turning into the legislative car from hell, reports the Chronicle's Matier and Ross. The price tag is $425,000-plus.


"The SUV from hell or just plain unlucky - either way, the state-owned, 2007 Toyota Highlander that's been assigned to two of San Francisco's state senators over the past four years has cost Californians well over $400,000."


"This costly taxpayer ride began four years ago when then-state Sen. Carole Migden traded in her state-leased, $53,000 Cadillac STS for the greener Highlander hybrid."


And yet more on cars: The LAT's George Skelton says if you're driving to Sacramento, think twice. That's because the city just approved a so-called "crash tax."


"River City, The City of Trees, Sacotomato — is the latest local entity in California to adopt the dreaded "crash tax." More than 50 have imposed it as they struggle to make ends meet."


"Starting in another 10 days or so, an out-of-towner who has the misfortune to get into an accident that prompts the dispatch of Sacramento city firefighters or paramedics will be billed for the service if the visitor is judged to be at fault. Insurance companies will decide who's liable in a multi-car accident based on the accident report."


The U.S. lags in its proportion of women leaders, and groups are emerging to try and do something about it. The Bee's Jack Chang has the story.


"Such concerns, in fact, have stopped many American women from entering politics, so much so that the United States claims one of the lowest rates of women legislators in the developed world."


"Reversing this trend has been the 9-year-old mission of Emerge California, a groundbreaking, San Francisco-based group with branches in nine states. In monthly sessions for selected classes, Emerge tries to give women the confidence to run for office along with the skills to win."


The battle over public pensions is heating up in San  Francisco, where pressure is rising to make changes. The Bay Citizen has the story.


"But interviews reveal that some members of the group are growing impatient, even exasperated, at the pace of the conversations, and old rivalries and grudges among the different unions and city officials now crowding the table are beginning to become apparent. Meanwhile the city's pension and health care liabilities continue to grow."


"Hellman says that if nothing is done, San Francisco will be bankrupt in five years." 


Finally, we peek into our "Tales from Italy" file to learn that Italian women like sex, but not bunga bunga. This is an important distinction if your country is run by 74-year-old Silvio Berlusconi. Angry women took to the streets.


"In the main protest, Rome's Piazza del Popolo, a central square which can hold about 100,000 people, was packed with mothers, daughters, grandmothers and many husbands and boyfriends as the music blasted across the space, including Aretha Franklin's song “Respect.”


"Caricatures of some of the women promoted by Berlusconi, including former showgirls who are now ministers in his government or other officials from his conservative People of Freedom Party, decorated the walls surrounding the square. Berlusconi's penchant for choosing starlets for political posts has even been denounced by his estranged wife, Veronica Lario, a former actress herself."


“It's the fault of TV if women are seen if this way,” said one of the Rome protesters, Eleonora Ermini, a woman in her 60s. “The majority of the people see things (on TV) that the powers want them to see.”


As for "bunga bunga" you'll have to Google it...



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