HIT: Following a pilot program that resulted in substantial cost savings, Bakersfield will begin using energy-efficient LED lighting for all new developments, according to Public Works Director Raul Rojas. Lights installed in several locations around town resulted in a halving of energy costs. It's a good move by the city. In addition to the cost savings, LED lights run cooler, render colors more accurately than sodium vapor lights, and can last about 35 times longer than traditional lights, according to Energy Star, a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.
MISS: Cancer equality achieved
Research published last week by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that women have gained equality with men in an area we'd assume they would rather not: They are now as likely as men to die from smoking-related diseases, including lung cancer.
Women are starting to smoke earlier and are smoking more than they did decades ago, and the impact is reflected in the research. In the 1960s, women who smoked were three times more likely to die of lung cancer than women who did not. Today, they are more than 25 times more likely to die.
Another troubling finding: Women smokers are less likely to quit smoking than men.
MISS: Did she or didn't she?
It took all of a day or two for President Obama to become embroiled in the first major controversy of his second term, and it's a doozie. Did Beyonce really lip-sync "The Star Spangled Banner" during last week's presidential inauguration? Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein haven't weighed in, but Stephen Colbert is all over it.
We can, however, report that numerous stories flashing around the Web stating that Republicans are calling on the president to resign in the wake of "Lipgate" are not true.
HIT: Help for foreclosed folks
The number of lenders willing to help homeowners save their homes from foreclosure has increased substantially in the past two years, and that's welcome news for Kern County property owners. RealtyTrac reports that last month 5,424 Kern properties, or 1 in every 352, had foreclosure filings.
The Fresno Bee reports that the federally funded program Keep Your Home California now has 101 lenders participating in the program. That's up from 10 lenders when the program first launched two years ago, and 55 lenders at this time last year.
HIT: Women in combat roles
The United States took a quantum leap toward gender equity in its armed forces last week with the announcement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that women soldiers can now serve in front-line combat roles.
Especially encouraging was the news that Panetta made the decision "upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," according to The Washington Post. This indicates a willingness at the highest levels of the military infrastructure to move toward full inclusion. The Pentagon says 152 female troops have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the heroism and bravery that has been displayed in those two wars by women in the field played a role in the decision.