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Source: MedleyStory

Mountain lion spotted in residential Brentwood area

A mountain lion was spotted in a residential area of Brentwood on Tuesday, according to police.

A resident reported seeing the animal around 9 a.m. Tuesday in an open field north of Copperfield Court in the Brentwood Hills subdivision in the western part of the city, police said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was notified of the sighting. No others have been reported in the area.

Police are reminding any residents who see a mountain lion to stay away from the animal and call 911.

More information about mountain lions can be found here.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:07:11 -0700

City of Berkeley begins enforcing ban on feeding wildlife in parks

City of Berkeley officials today began enforcing a new ordinance that prohibits the feeding of wildlife in city parks and other public spaces.

People caught feeding wildlife will face $100 fines after an initial warning period and fines of up to $500 for multiple infractions within a one-year period.

The ordinance applies to the feeding of all wildlife but was drawn up by city officials in response to widespread objections to a plan earlier this year to kill ground squirrels who were believed to be harming water quality by burrowing into the ground at Cesar Chavez Park, a former landfill near the Berkeley Marina.

Berkeley officials said the burrowing by the large number of ground squirrels and gophers at the park was endangering the clay cap that seals the toxic substances inside the former dump.

Because the toxic substances could potentially leak into San Francisco Bay, the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Board told the city it needed to find a solution.

In response, Berkeley officials came up with a plan in February to kill the squirrels, but withdrew the plan after thousands of animal lovers sent emails objecting to the plan.

On July 1, the City Council approved an alternative solution that creates an ordinance criminalizing the feeding of wildlife in Berkeley's parks.

Animal rights advocates said in a statement that ground squirrels and gophers can be harmed by food handouts and feeding wildlife endangers animals by causing malnutrition, overpopulation, the spread of disease and the loss of fear of humans.

Another concern is that ground squirrels at Cesar Chavez Park have a symbiotic relationship with burrowing owls, which are classified as an at-risk species of concern, because the owls depend on the squirrels for their burrows to find shelter when they arrive at the park each winter.

The enforcement of the ordinance is being combined with new "no feeding" signs and brochures at the park.

Animal rights groups said the fines and the improved signs are the result of a successful collaboration between the city, WildCare, the Golden Gate Audubon Society and In Defense of Animals.

The three organizations said they applaud the city for moving away from its plan to kill the squirrels and switch to what they described as "a compassionate and effective means of returning squirrel populations to naturally lower levels."

They said the city's approach can serve as a national model for other parks that are faced with similar challenges where human feeding of wildlife has created an imbalance in wildlife populations.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:59:18 -0700

Shooting injures 2 teens in Mercedes near Richmond mall

Two teens driving near the Hilltop Mall in Richmond were injured by gunfire from a passing vehicle Wednesday afternoon, a police sergeant said.

The teens were driving a tan Mercedes on Hilltop Drive near the intersection with San Pablo Avenue at 1:57 p.m. when five shots were fired at them from a white Mazda, Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.

The 16-year-old driver of the Mercedes suffered three graze wounds while the 17-year-old front passenger suffered a graze wound to his head, Abetkov said.

A 14-year-old male riding in the back seat of the car was uninjured.

The victims were taken to a hospital for treatment of their wounds, which are not considered life threatening, Abetkov said.

Police have been unable to obtain a description of the suspects, who drove away in the white Mazda, Abetkov said.

She said that police are asking for help solving the brazen daylight shooting at a busy intersection. Anyone with information has been asked to call police dispatch at (510) 233-1214 or the anonymous tip line at (510) 232-TIPS.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:02:12 -0700

Power restored in San Mateo after crash into pole

Power has been restored for about 5,000 San Mateo residents and businesses after a vehicle crashed into a power pole at a construction site Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The vehicle hit a power pole at low speed in a construction site near the corner of Pacific Boulevard and South Delaware Street at about 1:30
p.m., according to San Mateo police.

The crash caused a power outage for about 5,000 PG&E customers, mainly in the Fiesta Gardens neighborhood, police said.

PG&E crews responded to make repairs and power was restored to the neighborhood by 3:15 p.m., according to police.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:32:32 -0700

Free Wi-Fi now available in 32 San Francisco parks and open spaces

San Franciscans can now get free wireless Internet access in 32 city parks, plazas and open spaces, thanks to a grant from Google, city officials announced Wednesday.

Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Mark Farrell announced that the .SFWiFi network, currently available along Market Street between Castro Street and The Embarcadero, will now be available in new public areas including Alamo Square, Marina Green and the Tenderloin Children's Playground and Rec Center.

"San Francisco is the center of innovation and technology, and providing free Internet access in our parks, plazas and open spaces is the first step in a broader vision to deliver free Wi-Fi to every resident in our city," Farrell said in a statement.

 Google's grant of $608,000 helped the city expand the Wi-Fi network.

"This network will make the web more accessible than ever for thousands of our neighbors -- getting online is as easy as heading to the local park," said Rebecca Prozan, public policy and government affairs manager at Google.

City leaders said they hope expanded free Wi-Fi -- which is also available at the city's libraries and at City Hall -- will help get more people online who might not otherwise have access to the Internet.

"Powering up parks across San Francisco with .SFWiFi gets us closer to bridging the digital divide by allowing the public to explore apps, share images and access city services on a free and robust Wi-Fi network," said Miguel Gamiño, the city's acting chief information officer.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:07:47 -0700

Facebook apologizes to drag queens for name policy

Facebook is apologizing to drag queens and the transgender community for deleting accounts that used drag names like Lil Miss Hot Mess rather than legal names such as Bob Smith.

The world's biggest online social network caught heat recently when it deleted several hundred accounts belonging to self-described drag queens, other performers and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Facebook has long required its users to go by their "real names" on the site for security purposes, to stand out from other social networks and so it can better target advertising to people. Now, the company says the spirit of its policy doesn't mean a person's legal name but "the authentic name they use in real life."

"For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess," Chris Cox, Facebook's vice president of product wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Though the real names policy isn't changing, the way Facebook enforces it might.

Last month, the company suggested that performers such as drag queens have other ways of maintaining their stage identities on the site, such as creating pages that are meant for businesses and public figures. But a fan page is not the same as a regular Facebook account and users were not happy with the suggestion.

While standing by the real names policy on Wednesday, Cox said "we see through this event that there's lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who's real and who's not, and the customer service for anyone who's affected."

Cox also gave some background on why so many accounts with drag names and other stage names suddenly started getting deleted.

"An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake," he wrote. "These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn't notice the pattern."

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:42:41 -0700

Girl missing for 12 years found with mom in Mexico

A Texas girl reported kidnapped 12 years ago has been found in a town outside Mexico City with her mother, who is now facing charges in the U.S., authorities said Wednesday.

The FBI and Mexico authorities say 17-year-old Sabrina Allen was found Tuesday night in Papalotla, Tlaxcala, outside of Mexico City. She was reported missing by her father in 2002, after the then-4-year-old girl vanished after a weekend visit with her mother.

The case was twice profiled on "America's Most Wanted."

The teen and her mother, Dara Llorens, were flown back to Texas early Wednesday. Llorens is now jailed in Austin on an aggravated kidnapping charge and being held on a $300,000 bond. It was not immediately clear if Llorens has an attorney.

Gregory Allen said during a news conference with the FBI and Austin police that he hasn't yet seen his daughter.

"I'm going to ask her if I can give her a hug," Allen said. "She's in pretty bad shape as far as my understanding ... She was not living a regular life. She has not been going to school."

Authorities didn't reveal the teen's whereabouts, and Allen said she was being evaluated by a therapist.

U.S. and Mexico authorities revealed few details about Llorens' arrest or about how long she had been in Mexico with her daughter. They said only that mother and daughter had been living in an apartment, and that Llorens initially put up some resistance to arrest.

Allen, who had hired a private investigator to help find his daughter, said authorities were tipped by a confidential informant. He declined to give more details.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:24:57 -0700

Cat, dog, lasers: A senior portrait to remember

A New York boy and his cat, a principal and her dog — and lasers.

They all came together in teenager Draven Rodriguez's senior portrait, which ended up with him holding his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, and Schenectady High School principal Diane Wilkinson holding her Chihuahua, Vivienne.

The 16-year-old had originally wanted his senior yearbook portrait to show him holding his cat, with lasers in the background. He posted the photo on the Internet, and it went viral.

The school denied his request but said the photo could appear somewhere in the yearbook.

Wilkinson got in on the act, and school district officials say the portrait with the two pet owners will appear on the principal's yearbook page. It'll be used to raise awareness for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and rescue animals.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:19:05 -0700

San Jose woman hit, killed by car while walking near mall

A 75-year-old San Jose woman was struck and killed by a motorist last Friday while walking on a sidewalk outside the Westfield Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara, a police lieutenant said Wednesday.

At about 3:45 p.m. Friday, Aihua Liu was walking south on the east sidewalk on Winchester Boulevard north of Stevens Creek Boulevard when a car driven by a 19-year-old woman struck her, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.

The motorist was exiting the driveway of the CVS Pharmacy at 3081 Stevens Creek Blvd. and attempting to turn north onto Winchester when she struck Liu, according to Clarke.

Emergency responders transported Liu to a hospital, where she later died, Clarke said.

The driver was not arrested but police have submitted the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office for review, Clarke said.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:00:13 -0700

Alleged gang member convicted in South San Francisco triple murder

A Petaluma man was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco Wednesday of a gang-related triple murder on a South San Francisco street in 2010.

Victor Flores, 22, was also found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and the attempted murder of three U.S. Homeland Security Department agents who conducted a predawn raid on his family's house in Petaluma to arrest him in 2012.

The verdict came after a three-month trial of Flores and three other defendants in the court of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.

The defendants were alleged members of the Norteno-affiliated 500 Block/C Street gang in South San Francisco.

Federal prosecutors said the three young men who were fatally shot on the evening of Dec. 22, 2010, were members of a rival Norteno gang, the Cypress Park Locos, which was perceived as threatening the territory of the 500 Block/C Street gang.

Another defendant, Benjamin Campos-Gonzales, 23, of San Mateo, who was alleged to have driven the car carrying the shooters, was acquitted of the three murders, but was convicted of racketeering conspiracy.

The two other defendants in the trial were not charged with the murders.

Armando Acosta, 29, of Pacifica, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, being an accessory after the fact to the murders and obstructing justice.

The fourth defendant, Mario Bergren, 25, of South San Francisco, was acquitted of all charges.

The three men who were convicted will be sentenced by Illston on Jan. 16. Flores faces a life sentence for the murders. Prosecutors could have sought a rare federal death sentence for Flores but decided not to.

The four defendants in the trial were the last of 19 alleged gang members and associates who were indicted on racketeering and other charges in 2012. The 15 others pleaded guilty to various charges.

One of them, Joseph Ortiz, 23, of South San Francisco, pleaded guilty last year to the three murders and numerous other charges and was sentenced by Illston to five consecutive life terms plus 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors had decided to seek a death penalty for Ortiz but his guilty plea enabled him to avoid that penalty.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:50:41 -0700

Assemblywoman Skinner says new law addresses rape kit backlog

A new law that has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will help address the backlog of rape kits that are sitting untested on police evidence shelves throughout the state, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference outside the state building in downtown Oakland, Skinner said Assembly Bill 1517, which she authored, "will help ensure that criminal evidence contained in rape kits is tested promptly and more rapists are caught and convicted."

After a sexual assault, a victim undergoes an invasive physical examination to gather forensic evidence.

Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick, who joined Skinner at this morning's news conference, said leaving that evidence untested in "unconscionable" but happens far too often.

According to Skinner, Los Angeles County had more than 12,000 untested rape kits in 2008 and Alameda County had a backlog of 1,900 untested kits in 2012.

The bill stipulates that sexual assault forensic evidence must be sent to a crime lab within five days after it is booked into evidence by a law enforcement agency.

The crime lab would then have to process the evidence and upload DNA profiles to the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, within 30 days.

Drenick said AB 1517 will help ensure that "all rape kits are tested in a timely manner and will be entered into a national database so perpetrators can be identified, arrested and prosecuted."

Drenick said it is also important to process rape kits in cases where a suspect has been identified because often a suspect in one case can be linked to other cases through DNA evidence because many sex offenders tend to be repeat criminals.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, who helped sponsor the bill, said, "Every day that rape kits remain untested in storage is another day that a rapist is on the street potentially attacking another victim."

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:31:13 -0700

Weather Service issues heat advisory for Bay Area

Forecasted temperatures approaching 100 degrees in the Bay Area on Thursday and Friday prompted the National Weather Service on Wednesday to issue a heat advisory for the region.

The advisory for the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas takes effect Thursday at about noon and lasts until Friday evening but may be extended into Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to be highest on Friday, with coastal areas climbing to the mid- to high-80s and potentially reaching the mid-90s in Santa Cruz, weather service forecasters said.

Inland areas are expected to get even hotter, with temperatures in cities like Concord, Livermore and San Jose expected to approach 100 degrees Friday afternoon.

Thursday's temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s in coastal areas and the mid-90s in inland areas. Saturday is expected to see some cooling, with temperatures similar to Thursday's. 

The hot weather, dry air and light winds will also elevate the threat of wildfires, officials said. However, the highest danger for fires will be in Southern California where the dangerous Santa Ana winds are forecasted to be howling in excess of 35 mph in the canyon areas.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:31:05 -0700

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigns amid White House security breach

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned amid security lapses at the White House.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that Pierson offered her resignation, and he accepted it.

The move came one day after her appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in a congressional hearing focused on recent security lapses at the White House.

Pierson had worked at the Secret Service for 30 years.

Meanwhile, the man accused of jumping a fence at the White House pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he ran into the presidential mansion while carrying a knife.

A lawyer for defendant Omar J. Gonzalez, David Bos, entered the plea on his client's behalf in a 20-minute proceeding that grew contentious because of a disagreement between Bos and U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.

Wearing a standard prison-issue orange jump suit, Gonzalez sat attentively at the defense table but did not address the court.

Robinson wants Gonzalez to undergo a forensic screening to determine whether he is competent to stand trial. Bos opposed that, telling reporters he does not want to provide the government with an extensive amount of information about his client that would be revealed by a forensic screening.

Bos said Gonzalez is competent to stand trial, an assertion that marked the start of a dispute over whether Gonzalez will have to undergo the screening.

A three-count federal grand jury indictment issued Tuesday accuses Gonzalez of unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a deadly weapon, a federal charge. He also was indicted in the Sept. 19 incident on two violations of District of Columbia law — carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or business and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Following Gonzalez's arrest, investigators recovered more than 800 rounds of ammunition, a machete and two hatchets in his car. The indictment said the ammunition consisted of eight types, including 12 gauge shotgun shells and .45 caliber rounds.

The judge handling the case will be U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was nominated for the post in the first term of President George W. Bush. She had been general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board from 1984-1989 and chairman of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission from 1981 to 1984.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:22:50 -0700

Blame your ticket on your car, not your driving

Got a speeding ticket recently? A new study shows your lead foot might not be the only thing to blame. 

A study by insurance comparison site found the specific car you're driving could be part of the reason for those flashing lights. 

The Subaru WRX is the most ticketed car driven in the U.S. –– with one in three drivers receiving a traffic citation recently. 

Right on the WRX's tail, in second place, came the Pontiac GTO, with about 32 percent of drivers receiving traffic citations. 

Although the insurance website says more than 550,000 insurance quotes were analyzed, we're talking about correlation, not causation here. No explanation was given as to why the WRX is the most ticketed.

For the sake of our speculation, we first have to narrow down what specific "traffic citation" could be the most dependent on a car. The popular car comparison site polled police agencies and independent traffic experts to create this list of the most likely reasons for being pulled over. Those top five? Speeding, illegal cellphone use, hazardous driving, equipment violations, tailgating and improper lane changes. 

With the exception of equipment violations, the other four reasons could all be classified as "risky driving behaviors." One possible hypothesis is that drivers choose a car they believe is capable of letting them exercise their already-established dangerous behavior. 

The missing link could be "rally racing," a relatively new type of racing that combines drifting and quick turns on off-road courses –– a setting that, unlike a race track, can be mimicked by an average citizen. In this video the Subaru WRX is actually presented as an ideal rally vehicle. (Video via G4 / "Attack of the Show")

And Subaru's own website shows the WRX is the model the company uses and promotes for professionalrally car racing. 

Rally racing recently was picked up as an event by ESPN's X Games. 

And as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, the summer X-Games average the youngest viewers out of any sporting event. 

And as one of many reports on young drivers puts it, "We know that young beginners are more likely than older drivers to perform risky driving behaviors such as speeding, close following, and smaller gap acceptance."

So you could argue the disproportionately high ticketing of WRX drivers might be related to its use as a race car in events many young drivers are watching. Maybe if rally racers start using Priuses, we can better test this hypothesis. 

But Chris Bruce, a writer for AutoBlog, casts some doubt on the findings, saying: "These facts are almost useless because the list isn't based on percentages from the whole pool. ... All we know about the sample size for each model is that it's higher than 50." 

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:07:08 -0700

Sister: US Ebola patient said he was from Liberia

The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States told relatives that he notified health care workers the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting the U.S. from Liberia, the man's sister said Wednesday.

Mai Wureh told The Associated Press that her brother, Thomas Eric Duncan, went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics. He returned two days later after his condition worsened and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Mark Lester confirmed Wednesday that a nurse asked Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa, but that "information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team."

A nine-member group of federal health officials was tracking anyone who had close contact with the man.

The team from the Centers for Disease Control is in Dallas to work with local and state health agencies to ensure that those people are watched every day for 21 days.

"If anyone develops fever, we'll immediately isolate them to stop the chain of transmission," Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said in an interview.

Duncan has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sunday. He was listed in serious but stable condition Wednesday.

Ebola is believed to have sickened more than 6,500 people in West Africa, and more than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Three members of the ambulance crew that transported the man to the hospital have tested negative for the virus and are restricted to their homes while their conditions are observed.

Duncan was vomiting when the ambulance got to the hospital, Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said.

A handful of schoolchildren who had contact with him are also being monitored at their homes, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told reporters.

The ambulance crew is among 12 to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man. Some are members of his family, but not all, Syed said.

Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus. The disease is not contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.

Officials said there are no other suspected cases in Texas, but the diagnosis sent chills through the area's West African community, whose leaders urged caution to prevent spreading the virus.

The man left Liberia on Sept. 19, arrived the next day to visit relatives and started feeling ill four or five days later, Frieden said.

Stanley Gaye, president of the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth, said the 10,000-strong Liberian population in North Texas is skeptical of the CDC's assurances because Ebola has ravaged their country.

"We've been telling people to try to stay away from social gatherings," Gaye said Tuesday at a community meeting.

The CDC has not advised that people avoid large gatherings in this country.

The association's vice president warned against alarm in the community.

"We don't want to get a panic going," said vice president Roseline Sayon. "We embrace those people who are coming forward. Don't let the stigma keep you from getting tested."

Frieden said he didn't believe anyone on the same flights as the patient was at risk.

The man traveled from the Liberian capital of Monrovia to Brussels and then to Dallas, according to a spokeswoman for the Belgium health ministry, Vinciane Charlier.

"Ebola doesn't spread before someone gets sick, and he didn't get sick until four days after he got off the airplane," Frieden said.

Four American aid workers who became infected in West Africa have been flown back to the U.S. for treatment after they became sick. They were treated in special isolation facilities at hospitals in Atlanta and Nebraska. Three have recovered.

A U.S. doctor exposed to the virus in Sierra Leone is under observation in a similar facility at the National Institutes of Health.

The U.S. has only four such isolation units, but Frieden said there was no need to move the latest patient because virtually any hospital can provide the proper care and infection control.

Blood tests by Texas health officials and the CDC separately confirmed his Ebola diagnosis Tuesday. State health officials described the patient as seriously ill.

The hospital is discussing if experimental treatments would be appropriate, Frieden said.

Passengers leaving Liberia pass through rigorous screening, the country's airport authority said Wednesday. But those checks are no guarantee that an infected person won't get through and airport officials would be unlikely to stop someone not showing symptoms, according to Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority's board of directors.

CDC officials are helping staff at Monrovia's airport, where passengers are screened for signs of infection, including fever, and asked about their travel history. Plastic buckets filled with chlorinated water for hand-washing are present throughout the airport.

Liberia is one of the three hardest-hit countries in the epidemic, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:53:34 -0700

Berkeley’s minimum wage raised to $10 beginning Wednesday

Minimum wage in the city of Berkeley was raised to $10 per hour Wednesday, the first in a gradual rise to more than $12 an hour in two years, city officials said.

The hikes were approved in a unanimous vote by the City Council in June and will keep Berkeley ahead of raises in the statewide minimum wage.

The city's wage will rise to $11 on Oct. 1, 2015, and to $12.53 an hour on Oct. 1, 2016. That schedule would catch Berkeley's minimum wage up with an anticipated hike in Oakland.

A measure on the November ballot in Oakland would raise the minimum wage there to $12.53 an hour next March. Oakland's City Council rejected a proposal in July that would have more gradually raised the minimum wage.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is asking other East Bay cities to pass similar minimum wage laws and coordinate their adoption.

"I have proposed that other East Bay cities join with us in adopting a regional minimum wage and am pleased that discussions for such an approach are underway in some of our neighbor cities," Bates said in a statement Tuesday.

One nearby city, Richmond, is already committed to raising its minimum wage to $13 by 2018. San Francisco and San Jose have also recently raised their minimum wages.

The statewide minimum wage is set to rise to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016, and was raised to $9 an hour in July of this year.


Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:50:49 -0700

Gas leak prompts street closure in Redwood City

Police Wednesday morning closed a street in Redwood City because of a gas leak that started when a contractor hit a gas main, a PG&E spokesman said.

A private contractor who was clearing tree roots in preparation for sewer line work at 97 Arch St. struck a four-inch plastic gas main with a power saw at 10:07 a.m., according to PG&E spokesman Jason King.

A PG&E crew responded to the scene within 20 minutes and worked with police and firefighters to make sure the area was safe, King said.

There were no injuries or evacuations as a result of the gas leak, but the street will remain closed until PG&E can stop the flow of gas, likely within an hour, King said shortly after 11 a.m.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:43:39 -0700

Armed man robs San Rafael gas station

San Rafael police said an armed man stole cash and lottery tickets from a gas station early Tuesday morning.

The clerk of the Shell station at 950 Del Presidio Blvd. said he was outside of the station near the gas pumps when he saw a male inside the store around 3:35 a.m. Tuesday, police Lt. Dan Fink said.

When the clerk went into the store, the male customer pulled a handgun from his waistband and demanded cash and lottery tickets, Fink said.

Before he fled, the suspect ordered the clerk to go to the back of the store and wait five minutes before calling police, Fink said.

The suspect is a black man in his late 30s to mid 40s who is approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and has dreadlocks or braids, Fink said.

The suspect was wearing a black hat with "Oakland" written on it, dark sunglasses and a white tracksuit, Fink said.

The clerk did not see the suspect arrive or flee in a vehicle.

Police are asking anyone with information about the robbery to call them at (415) 485-3000 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:20:24 -0700

Hidden bra cam used to raise breast cancer awareness

A woman wearing a pink bra barely concealed by a jacket walks around the city, while the hidden camera keeps track of how many times people glance at her chest during a single day.

This isn’t a study on sexism; it is actually a campaign from Nestle Fitness that encourages everyone to check their breasts as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Nestle Fitness had a bright pink bra custom-designed to easily hold the bra-cam, which recorded strangers, from male construction workers to female subway passengers, looking at the chest of the actress. In total, 37 people are recorded looking at the subject’s breasts.

Nestle’s tagline states: “Your breasts are checked out every day. So, when was the last time you checked your own?” The company is using the hashtag #CheckYourSelfie to promote their campaign on social media.

The video has gone viral, generating over 1.2 million page views in a week.

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:55:27 -0700

Marinovich goes from NFL QB to bust to muralist

Former Raider quarterback Todd Marinovich is making another start — in life. This time as a muralist.

The city of Garden Grove has hired the former University of Southern California and Los Angeles Raiders quarterback to paint a 25-by-30 foot mural on the side of a downtown theater.

Marinovich, 45, was a 1991 first-round draft pick by the Raiders who became one of football's biggest busts, first struggling with his game, then with drug addiction.

More than 20 years after he played for the Raiders and more than a dozen years after he last played pro football of any kind, Marinovich was recommended for the $20,000 commission by a councilman in Garden Grove, a city of 175,000 that itself is trying to make a cultural comeback.

"Can you think of anyone more symbolic of comebacks?" said Councilman Steve Jones, a USC graduate.

Marinovich has been working on the mural for three weeks and it will be unveiled Oct. 12, the Orange County Register reported Tuesday.

"I got chills when they asked me to do this project," said Marinovich. "I have some ideas about where I want this mural to go, but I'm mostly letting the art flow."

The mural is mostly shielded by tarps, but the parts he is working on show the deep roots of a tree with sprawling farmland in the background. He has invited elementary school kids to add doodles, handprints and scribbles.

With his black board shorts, baseball cap and bare feet, Marinovich doesn't look much different than a typical artist working on such a project. But many fans have recognized him and stopped to chat, get autographs and take pictures.

He has no direct ties to Garden Grove. He was a high school superstar in another Orange County city, Mission Viejo, famously bred from birth to be a quarterback and dubbed "Robo QB." Then came short stints with the Trojans and Raiders before he faded into drug problems. He made comebacks to play in Canada and the Arena Football League before leaving the game altogether.

Now he says he doesn't so much as watch football, unless he's throwing one around with his two kids at their home in Oceanside.

"I'm into this," he said, looking at the mural that is the biggest project he's ever done.

"That's the beauty of art," he said. "You can control it."

Published: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:51:47 -0700