- Defense of Marriage Act called unconstitutional (SF Chronicle)
The Obama administration's decision Wednesday to stop defending a 1996 federal ban on same-sex marriage marks a major victory for gay rights advocates and a fork in the road for Democrats and Republicans. President Obama, who said his personal view on same-sex marriage is "evolving," must choose whether to remain to the right of former first lady Laura Bush on the pre-eminent civil rights issue of his presidency.
- Snowstorm picks up speed, heads toward Bay Area (SF Chronicle)
...As of Wednesday evening, the forecasting consensus was that the target time for fluttery cold things to start dropping on the region is tonight, not Friday night, courtesy of an Alaskan cold front sweeping our way. The first snowflakes are supposed to fall in the North Bay, but by Friday afternoon, people in downtown San Francisco could well be gawking at them as well.
- New ‘Taxpayers Caucus’ takes on Brown plan (Sacramento Bee)
...GOP lawmakers announced Wednesday that 30 Republicans had formed a "Taxpayers Caucus," vowing not to send Brown's tax hike extensions to the ballot unless they are accompanied by tax reduction proposals. Since the latter idea is a nonstarter among Democrats – and has been brushed aside by GOP leaders so far – the group's position essentially amounts to 30 "no" votes for Brown's budget, more than two-thirds of Republicans in the Capitol.
The uprising in Libya unleashed the specter of $4 a gallon gasoline in the Bay Area on Wednesday, fueled by crude oil touching the benchmark of $100-per-barrel for the first time since 2008. Even worse, the sharp rise in gasoline prices could shove an already feeble California economy back into recession, industry watchers warned. That's because the Golden State, with its strict array of rules for reformulated gasoline, would likely suffer higher gasoline prices than the rest of the United States.
A 25-year-old barber named in the city's Fruitvale gang injunction lawsuit on Wednesday took the stand for the first time testifying that he's committed no violent crimes and that he knows of no Nortenos gang at all. Abel Manzo is one of 40 adults accused by City Attorney John Russo in October of being among the most dangerous members of the street gang police say is behind half the severe violent crime problem in the district.
Wednesday's hearing was the second day of Judge Robert Freedman hearing evidence, which could conclude next week with Freedman deciding whether to issue a preliminary injunction before a full trial. The injunction would forbid the defendants to wear gang colors, associate with any gang members or be in public after 10 p.m.
Santa Clara City Council members voted to create a stadium authority, vesting themselves with powers to make financial and legal decisions on the planned San Francisco 49ers football stadium near the Great America theme park. The council also took steps to make clear that its redevelopment agency has long been working on the stadium project in a concerted effort to stave off Gov. Jerry Brown's desire to dismantle redevelopment agencies and funnel that money instead to counties and schools.
The San Francisco Police Commission voted 6-1 Wednesday night to allow the Police Department to look into the use of Tasers by officers, nearly a year after shooting down a similar proposal...Last March, the commission voted 4-3 against a proposal by then-Police Chief George Gascon to study the use of Tasers by the department.
...In a teleconference with reporters...attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies said they had just filed a motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to lift the stay on same-sex marriages, which was temporarily imposed when Prop. 8 was ruled unconstitutional last August. Judge Vaughn Walker granted the stay to Prop. 8 supporters after his ruling on Prop. 8 in order to give them a chance to appeal his decision.
State regulators are expected to vote today on whether to adopt new reporting requirements for utilities whose natural gas-pipeline pressures accidentally spike above legal limits, as has happened on several Pacific Gas and Electric Co. lines in recent years.
San Francisco is hoping to sway building owners to reduce their energy footprint with the power of knowledge. Mayor Edwin M. Lee signed into law on Friday a new requirement that buildings 10,000 square feet or larger be subject to regular energy audits. The idea is that once building owners know how much money can be saved, they’ll voluntarily take steps to increase efficiency.
Chemical pollution in a small waste pond west of Sacramento reached such virulent levels that a dog died after swimming in it in the 1980s and federal regulators warned it would take two centuries to clean up. On Wednesday, those same officials proudly unveiled high-tech gear - including an array of solar energy panels - that would shorten the decontamination process at the Frontier Fertilizer Superfund Site, in the city of Davis, by more than 150 years.
In less than a year, Apple's iPad has gone from a new gadget with uncertain prospects to a revolutionary product that has upended the consumer electronics market...Even as rivals such as Hewlett-Packard and Samsung race to sell me-too tablets, Apple appears poised to announce its next version. It sent out announcements Wednesday for an event next week in San Francisco, doing little to hide the focus of the announcement. The electronic invitation shows the image of an app-like calendar date being peeled away, revealing an iPad behind it. "Come see what 2011 will be the year of," it reads.