Heating up

Mar 20, 2012

A looming trade war with China over solar panels was the hot topic at a major gathering in San Jose attended by thousands of solar industry professionals. Dana Hull in the San Jose Mercury tells the tale.


"Many fear that the Obama administration, eager to create American manufacturing jobs, is about to apply additional duties on solar cells and solar panels made in China, possibly driving up solar prices and curtailing solar adoption in the United States just as the industry is taking off."


"The battle began last fall when the American arm of SolarWorld, a German company that makes solar cells and panels in Oregon, filed a trade complaint on behalf of American solar manufacturers. SolarWorld argues that Chinese solar companies benefit from enormous subsidies like free land and low-interest government loans and are illegally dumping solar cells in the United States, driving American companies out of business."


The chief justice of the state Supreme Court, who has been engaged in a feud with lawmakers over funding,  delivered her first address to a joint session of the Legislature. The style was restrained but the topics were familiar.


From Cheryl Miller at the Recorder, a legal newspaper: "Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Monday reiterated her support for a strong, centralized judicial branch, telling lawmakers in her first State of the Judiciary speech that the diverse needs of Californians are best managed by the Judicial Council."


"Local courts and judges are effective advocates for local needs" Cantil-Sakauye said in her inaugural address to a joint session of the Legislature. "But the Judicial Council serves statewide needs," just as the Legislature handles broader issues while cities and counties take care of local problems, she said."


"Cantil-Sakauye made no direct mention of Assembly Bill 1208, the controversial Trial Court Rights Act, which Assembly members approved on the very floor she was speaking from seven weeks ago. But the remarks seemed to be targeting the legislation that would shift significant spending control from the Judicial Council to local trial court."


Budget cuts are having a dramatic effect on the California State University, which is ratcheting down on admissions.


From Nanette Asimov in the Chronicle: "California State University will accept no new admissions for the spring semester of 2013 - with a few exceptions - as part of a drastic cost-cutting strategy to reduce enrollment by about 16,000 students next spring, officials said Monday."


"Another 20,000 to 25,000 qualified students could be barred from attending CSU in the 2013-14 academic year if voters reject a proposed tax measure that hasn't yet qualified for the November ballot. Failure of the tax measure would trigger an automatic funding cut of $200 million for CSU under a scenario proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. That loss would come on top of a $750 million budget hit that CSU already took this year."


One of the more depressing aspects of the recession is the discrimination endured by unemployed job hunters who get shunned by employers because they don't have a job. Legislation to change that is being considered by lawmakers. Jeff Katzanek in the Press-Enterprise has tnhe story.


"The bill, AB 1450, would prohibit employers from turning away applicants because they are unemployed. The bill was proposed in January by Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, and is scheduled for its first committee hearing next week." 


"AB 1450 also would crack down on employment agencies and online job boards that list “must be currently employed” as a prerequisite for being considered. The law as proposed would ban offending companies from bidding on state jobs for three years."


And from our "Up, Up and Away" file comes word that, once again, the U.S. is going to search for Amelia Earhart's plane, which disappeared 75 years ago when Earhart was flying across the South Pacific. Her disappearance has mystified and intrigued generations of Americans.


"Earhart's twin-engine Lockheed vanished July 2, 1937, as she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea) on their way to Howland Island in the South Pacific as part of an attempt to circle the Earth."


The half-million-dollar search, financed with private funds, will begin in July. The key area is the Pacific atoll of Nikumaroro between Hawaii and Australia."


"The Journal reports: A search team will concentrate on the deep waters near Nikumaroro, which was the site of a 2010 search that focused on coral reefs and nearby shallow waters, these people said."


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