Reality TV show follows Fish and Game wardens on their dangerous beats (Sacramento Bee)

In a trash-filled creek bed near Oroville, state Fish and Game Warden Mark Imsdahl pulls on rubber gloves to inspect a pile of mutilated flesh. He quickly concludes it is the remains of a black bear that has been skinned, dismembered and left to rot: another example of the wildlife crimes plaguing California.

So begins “Wild Justice,” a new reality TV show on the National Geographic Channel that debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. Imsdahl’s find is just the first in a rush of eye-opening criminal encounters on the program, which reveals an underworld of environmental abuses unknown to most Californians.

Cal Sports: Athletes Choice—Play or Stay? (San Francisco Chronicle)

Andrew Knapp always wanted to play baseball at Cal, just like his dad. He learned the school fight song at age 6, attended football games at Memorial Stadium throughout his childhood and posed for a photo in the dugout at Evans Diamond at 10. Knapp promptly pasted the photo on his bedroom wall at home near Sacramento.

So he was thrilled to accept Cal’s scholarship offer and begin classes in August. Then, little more than a month later, the school announced it was eliminating four sports – including baseball – because of budget woes.

Muni Jobs Training Failed for Many of the Temporary Workers (Mission Local)

The Muni program was one of many jobs programs paid for by California’s $1.8 billion share of the federal jobs stimulus money and organized under a national program known as Jobs Now. The city’s share of $25 million paid for one year of employment for 1,300 city and 3,000 private-sector positions.

The Muni program represented only 65 of those positions, but the experience of the 52 workers who completed it underscores the difficulties even a long-standing training program can run into when temporary workers are hired in the midst of layoffs. The Muni Entry Level Training Program has been in existence for nine years.

Space Tourism Becoming Big Business in N. California (San Jose Mercury)

Plenty of travel agents can sell you a trip to just about anywhere on earth, from Accra to Zanzibar. But Lynda Turley Garrett goes one better. She can sell you a ticket to a place few have gone before: Outer space.

Garrett, of Alpine Travel of Saratoga, is one of three “Accredited Space Agents” in Northern California selling $200,000 tickets for slightly more than two hours of flight on Virgin Galactic, with trips beginning as soon as 18 months from now. As such, she exemplifies a striking development: How an idea that has long been in the exclusive realm of science fiction — that someone could buy a ticket to fly into space, stay on an orbiting space station or even travel to the moon — has moved from the fictional to the commercial.

Richmond Activist Sees Humanity’s Common Thread (West County Times)

Fred Davis Jackson, the man who brings Santa Claus to life for the low-income families in North Richmond each December, is well-known for his hearty laugh, his humor and warm smile. Each year right before winter break, Jackson dons a red suit and hands out gifts and warm coats to children at Verde Elementary School. Jackson’s impeccably trimmed and unmistakable white whiskers sometimes give him away to suspecting children who know him from the neighborhood, but they do not want to take any chances that Santa isn’t the real deal, he said.

“I love Santa, I love playing Santa, I love the mystique,” said Jackson, a 72-year-old retiree who has found a second career as a community activist on behalf of young and old — and everyone in between. “I’d like to be a real Santa, a 365-day-a-year Santa,” he said. “What we should do is put Santa in our hearts and be Santa every day. Let it be Christmas every day of the year.”

Missing Decimal Point Proves Costly for Pittsburg Man (Contra Costa Times)

Woodie Williams’ experience may serve as a cautionary tale for people who have shifted to paying bills online or are thinking about it. Williams, 79, found that a decimal point means a lot when he apparently left one out when paying his cable TV bill to Comcast on Nov. 8.

Williams, a retired Contra Costa County employee, meant to pay the company $68.94 but actually paid $6,894 when he omitted the decimal point. “I had enough money in the bank so the payment cleared,” he said.

After he discovered his mistake, Williams found that getting the money back wasn’t so easy.

Last Cal home game until 2012 poses economic questions (Berkeleyside)

After this Saturday’s final home football game against Washington, there will be a year of silence on my street and many others in Berkeley. Memorial Stadium, home of the Cal Bears since 1923, is closing for a long-awaited seismic retrofit and renovation. During the 2011 season, Cal will play its home games across the Bay, in the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park.

The loss of six or seven home games won’t just mean quieter streets, however. It also means a loss of business in Berkeley’s hotels, restaurants and stores on the days when extra thousands flood into the city to support the Bears.

For restaurants and stores, the loss of increased business on game days will hurt. For hotels, the problem is more significant. Home games are a major source of room nights for Berkeley hotels — the local equivalent of winning a major convention or trade fair.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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