News in Brief
Governor Schwarzenegger Signs State Budget
After a 100-day impasse in the Senate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the much- awaited 2009-10 California budget into law Feb. 20, closing a $42 billion budget gap.
The record $130 billion budget will take the California budget back to 2005-06 levels and will allow the state government to resume numerous projects stunted by the lack of cash, including $5 billion worth of construction throughout the state.
In order to carry the state until 2010, the plan will reduce spending by 11 percent over the next 16 months and will initiate $12.5 billion in tax hikes, raising the 7.25-percent statewide sales tax for the first time in 17 years.
Citing fiscal responsibility, Schwarzenegger also vetoed around $1 billion worth of items from the budget.
The Cal State and University of California school systems will both take a significant hit from approved changes. The adopted budget contains a new $115 million reduction in UC funding. In addition to $122 million in under-funded enrollment and $213 million in unfunded mandatory costs for utilities and employee health benefits among others, the additional cut brings the UC shortfall to a total of $450 million.
UC Irvine Researchers Investigate Breast Cancer Treatment
UC Irvine researchers working with colleagues from St. Jude Heritage Medical Group in Fullerton, California, recently investigated a new technique to treat the spread of breast cancer.
Lead by orthopedic researcher Dr. Joyce Keyak, researchers experimented with injecting radioactive bone cement into the vertebral body for breast cancer patients whose cancer has spread to their spines. The study has yielded promising results that suggest the possibility of eliminating the need for numerous radiation therapy sessions.
Keyak’s therapy combines the two initial stages of treating the spread of breast cancer, the surgical procedure in which the bone cement is injected into the body to stabilize the bone followed by external beam radiation therapy to control the growth of the tumor.
Injecting bone cement mixed with a radioactive compound directly into the spinal cord would result in higher, more effective doses being delivered to the target area rather than overall exposure to normal tissue while at the same time radiating the tumor from within.
The American Cancer Society reports that nearly 185,000 people in the United States, primarily women, suffered from invasive breast cancer in just this past year. Furthermore, breast cancer tends to spread destructively, resulting in spinal tumors in 75 percent of all breast cancer patients.
The research will be presented in a paper entitled “Feasibility of Using Radioactive Bone Cement to Treat Vertebral Metastases” at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society from Feb. 22-25.
Animal Rights Extremists Arrested For Violent Activity
Federal authorities have arrested four suspects this past week after an increasingly violent pattern of animal rights activists attacks on University of California researchers ranging from Oct. 21, 2007 through July 29, 2008.
Nathan Pope, 26, of Oceanside, former UC Santa Cruz student Adriana Stumpo, 23, of Long Beach, Joseph Buddenberg, 25, of UC Berkeley, and former UCSC student Maryam Khajavi, 20, are suspected for violent protests in Santa Cruz and Alameda. Previous crimes include demonstrating outside a professor’s home at UC Berkeley, chalking and demonstrating in front of several other homes, attempting to forcibly enter a researcher’s home and possibly planting firebombs, an accusation that has not been verified but could result in murder charges. They have collaborated in efforts at UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Santa Cruz.
While most animal rights activists in the past have generally focused their actions against institutions, attacks against individuals are becoming more and more common. According to the Foundation for Biomedical Research, there were 10 episodes against the center in 2000 and 77 in 2006.
Most recently, in January 2009 the UC Davis campus was on high alert after the “Revolutionary Cells Animal Liberation Brigade” posted bomb warnings on an Internet Web site.
None of the suspects have been charged but they will most likely be charged, in part, under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which calls for a penalty of no less than five years for “threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment or intimidation.” The group will appear in a U.S. district court later this month.