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UC system seks to gauge LGBT population to improve services  
Jenna Lyons @ sfgate.com

The University of California has a new feature on its undergraduate application €” questions that ask aspiring students to share their gender identity and sexual orientation. The voluntary, three-question survey won€™t affect a student€™s chance of getting in, officials said, but will gauge the LGBT population on campus so the schools knows how to best provide support and services. The questions represent one of several measures taken by a UC task force €” made up of students and LGBT advocates and experts, on and off campus €” that seeks to be at the forefront of reforms as they work with the nine undergraduate schools. Seeking a more inclusive climate, the university system as of this week requires new or renovated buildings to have gender-neutral restrooms and changing rooms, and this year allowed students to add a preferred name, along with their legal name, to campus records. €œThis is something that is important to the president,€ said Pamela Brown, vice president of institutional research and a member of the advisory council. Last August, Mills College €” a women€™s college in Oakland €” became the only single-sex college to let applicants choose a gender for enrollment, welcoming any applicants €œnot assigned to the female sex at birth,€ as long as they identify as women. Passed in 2011, it encourages changes to improve €œquality of life€ for LGBT students and requests that schools €œcollect aggregate demographic information regarding sexual orientation and gender identity of staff and students.€ Eventually, Brown said, the school hopes to expand the survey to graduate students and all UC employees. Theresa Sparks, a transgender woman who directs the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and serves on the UC advisory board, said that knowing how many LGBT students are on campus will help the schools provide stronger outreach. What sex were you assigned at birth, such as on an original birth certificate? (Male or female)
Submitted 8 hours ago by eureka!
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California electricity rates to undergo biggest change in 15 years  
sfgate.com

California regulators radically revamped the way electricity rates work in the state, approving changes Friday that will raise monthly utility bills for the most energy-efficient homeowners while giving many bigger energy users a break. The California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to narrow the gap between prices paid by people who use very little electricity and those who consume more. California has long charged utility customers higher prices for using large amounts of electricity as a way to encourage conservation. [...] while the commission€™s vote will benefit many homeowners who use more than average, the biggest energy €œhogs€ now will face a new penalty, a €œsuper-user electric surcharge€ designed to prod them to conserve. [...] most residential customers will soon pay different prices for electricity use at different times of day, with the highest prices likely hitting in the afternoon. The move, long studied by California officials, could reduce the strain on the state€™s power grid when electricity demand reaches its daily, late-afternoon peak. Shifting some electricity use to mid-day or the evening, in turn, could help the state integrate more solar and wind power into the energy mix. Solar power plants hit their maximum output just after noon, while California€™s wind farms generate most of their electricity at night. €œWe€™re committed to helping our customers and their families understand the changes and the best ways they can be energy efficient and save money,€ said Greg Snapper, spokesman for PG&E. [...] with many Californians installing home solar arrays and slashing their utility bills, the commission wanted to ensure that all customers pay their share for maintaining the power grid. For years, all electricity rate increases €” to pay for new equipment, safety upgrades or the state€™s expanded use of renewable power €” hit only the upper tiers, not the lower, letting the gap between them grew wider. €œPublic opposition to eliminating conservation incentives was loud and clear, as was utility support,€ said Mark Toney, head of the The Utility Reform Network, a consumer group. The commission also voted to slap a surcharge on the biggest residential energy users, those whose electricity usage is four times higher than the bottom tier. The utilities preferred the first proposal, while consumer advocates largely backed Florio€™s alternative.
Submitted 9 hours ago by eureka!
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Cluster of great white sharks has Monterey Bay scientists in awe  
sfgate.com

An unprecedented gathering of baby great white sharks near the Monterey Bay shoreline this week has scientists as curious as the public about what happens next. The arrival of more sharks, perhaps even the giant great whites on the tails of these smaller ones? Or their departure from local beaches to the sites of large elephant seal populations for feeding? Most of the sharks are 8- to 12-foot juveniles, part of a rookery that has been displaced north by the gathering strength of an El Niño, said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. €œIt€™s the same process of dynamics and water currents that has driven sea lions north,€ Van Sommeran said. No record exists of such a gathering in Monterey Bay or Bay Area coastal waters, though, perhaps as a prelude, a great white shark was verified inside Monterey harbor last year, Van Sommeran said. Rangers have since posted a shark warning sign at the kiosk near the park€™s campground. A week after the first en masse sighting, a great white swam under a kayak Tuesday €” and the paddler, a marine biologist out to see the sharks, snapped a series of photos unlike anything ever seen on the Central Coast. €œI was just off the cement ship (the ruins of the Palo Alto, just off Seacliff State Beach) when this 8-foot great white shark swam right under my kayak,€ said Giancarlo Thomae, who works as an interpretive specialist for a whale watching operation.
Submitted 6 hours ago by eureka!
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The Nooner for July 3rd

 

We'll be a bit short today, since most of you aren't working. Oh, and those forced to clock in today, admit it, you're not working.

TWO THUMBS UP:  New budget spurs Standard & Poor's to upgrade California's credit rating [Chris Megerian @ LAT] - "The state's new budget, which took effect Wednesday, "marks another step forward in the state's journey toward improved fiscal sustainability," said the agency's report. The upgrade, from A+ to AA-, was welcomed by state officials."

LIFE AFTER A RUN: Key Hillary Clinton aide honed her skills in Stanford athletics [Tom FitzGerald @ SFChron] = "Amanda Renteria doesn't shy away from challenges; she tried out for a WNBA team after three years off from basketball."

AD30 (Watsonville): Karina Cervantez Alejo preps for run at Assembly - "[Karina] Cervantez Alejo came to the Central Coast in 2001. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology from UC Santa Cruz and is currently a doctoral candidate there. After moving to Watsonville, she met her future husband while they both worked on the campaign of a school board candidate."

 

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