Friday’s Briefing: Animal Rights Activist Arrested at Comal; Flame Retardants Cause Lower IQs in Kids

Plus, officials issue warnings about eating trout from two East Bay reservoirs.


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Comal Berkeley

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Aug. 4, 2017:

1. A radical animal rights activist was arrested by Berkeley police on charges of battery and trespassing for allegedly assaulting the general manager of Comal restaurant, which serves artisanal Mexican meat dishes, the East Bay Times$ reports. The activist, Samuel “Chase” Willis, 34, is part of the militant group Direct Action Everywhere, which staged an illegal protest inside the restaurant on Wednesday night. Earlier this week, the same group forced The Local Butcher Shop, an artisanal butchery in Berkeley, to put a sign in its window decrying the killing of animals under threat of continued protests outside the business. The group claims that the Comal general manager assaulted Willis, but police said there is no evidence to prove that allegation.

2. Flame retardant chemicals in old furniture and other household products are linked to lower IQ scores in children, reports Jill Tucker of the San Francisco Chronicle$, citing a sweeping new study by UC San Francisco researchers, published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The researchers found the children of pregnant women who were exposed to flame retardants had lower IQ scores. The flame retardants that researchers studied have been banned in the U.S., but they still remain in older household items.

3. State health officials have issued the first-ever warning about eating trout caught in two East Bay reservoirs—Lake Chabot and Lafayette reservoir—because of toxic industrial PCBs and mercury found in the fish, reports Denis Cuff of the East Bay Times$. The new warning also applies to other fish species, including catfish and sunfish.

4. State fire officials suspect an arsonist caused this week’s 20-acre wildland blaze in the Oakland/Berkeley hills, the East Bay Times$ reports. One firefighter suffered minor injuries in the blaze but no structures were damaged.

5. The family of a muralist who was shot dead while painting in 2015 in West Oakland has sued the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, alleging that Antonio “Tony” Ramos, 27, of Emeryville, was killed by an ICE agent’s gun that was stolen after it was left unsecured in the agent’s car, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$.

6. Oakland’s latest “pothole blitz” resulted in the filling of 5,208 potholes and the repaving of more than 1.5 miles of city streets, reports Scott Morris of Oakland Hoodline. Mayor Libby Schaaf acknowledged that the city still has long way to go to repair city streets, which have named as being among the worst maintained in the nation.

7. The last of the toxic Ghost Fleet—old World War II-era ships that have been leaching pollution for years—is leaving Suisun Bay near Benicia today, reports Denis Cuff of the East Bay Times$. “Toxic paint, PCBs, and heavy metals from the mothballed ships polluted the bay, California’s biggest route for salmon, striped bass and other anadramous fish to migrate from the Pacific Ocean into spawning areas upstream.”

8. And special prosecutor Robert Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in the criminal investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election to help elect Donald Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton, the Wall Street Journal$ reports. Mueller has “assembled a team of more than a dozen investigators, including current and former Justice Department prosecutors with experience in international bribery, organized crime, and financial fraud,” the AP reports.

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