- San Bruno blast: Federal hearings could affect laws (San Francisco Chronicle)
Federal investigators will convene an extraordinary, three-day public hearing this week on the deadly natural gas blast in San Bruno - an inquiry that could affect pipeline safety laws in California and around the nation. The fact-finding hearing, which starts Tuesday in Washington, D.C., will include the sworn testimony of 10 top employees of the San Bruno pipeline owner, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which has been under intense scrutiny.
- NTSB Begins Hearings on San Bruno Gas Explosion (KQED's The California Report)
On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board begins three days of public hearings over the San Bruno Gas explosion. The September blast killed 8 people and leveled 38 homes. The tragedy could mean big changes for the industry.
- Supreme Court to hear arguments in Stanford patent dispute (San Jose Mercury)
The invention of an AIDS test is a big deal, and it takes a lot of time, smarts and money to develop a good one. So there's a lot at stake in the legal tussle between Stanford University and the pharmaceutical giant Roche, with oral arguments opening Monday before the U.S. Supreme Court. The question is this: Do patents on inventions that arise from federally funded research go to the university where the inventor worked? That is Stanford's assertion.
Years ago, when I was trying to produce movies and Peter Guber [currently co-owner of the Golden State Warriors] was the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, I made the mistake of asking him a simple question: What does the studio want? “ ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ done sideways,” Mr. Guber replied. I still haven’t figured that out. But Mr. Guber, 68, who throws off ideas the way a storm hurls bolts at the prairie, has finally found a pattern in what can seem to be the brilliant disorder of his own thinking. Along the way, he’s also spotted a few things that the movie industry can teach the rest of us.
San Francisco's big push for low-flow toilets has turned into a multimillion-dollar plumbing stink. Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months. The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.
Sonoma County Supervisors last December approved funding for a mobile support team that will assist law enforcement in dealing with mental health and substance abuse crises—an area that is increasingly common and difficult for enforcement to deal with. The Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department and the Santa Rosa Police Department experience such confrontations up to 15 times per day, according to a county feasibility study, which recommended the creation of the mobile support team.
San Jose still considers all of the city's 100 or so medical marijuana shops to be unlawful nuisances, but officials will welcome the pot providers to City Hall on Monday to talk about a new program of great interest to the broke city: a marijuana tax. Starting Tuesday, San Jose will slap a 7 percent tax on marijuana dispensaries under a measure voters overwhelmingly approved in November.
While Californians voted last year not to tax and legalize marijuana to help solve the state's financial problems, two Democratic state senators and a Republican congressman are betting that residents are ready instead to embrace legal online gambling as a way to generate jobs and revenue.
It's not often that Lance Armstrong and Don Perata get mentioned in the same sentence, but Alert readers can expect to start seeing their names more often in the next few months. That is, if there's a special election in June. The seven-time Tour de France winner and the former Senate leader are co-chairing the campaign backing the so-called California Cancer Research Act, the ballot measure that would increase the cigarette tax by $1 a pack to fund cancer research and prevention programs. It would also impose an equivalent tax on other tobacco products.
A report of an armed man around Lafayette Reservoir led parks police to shut down the park entrance briefly Sunday morning, only to discover that the suspect was merely packing heat for his physique. The man was working a hand grip exercise tool along the trail, said an East Bay Regional Park District police dispatcher. The call came in at 10:42 a.m. Police shut down the park entrance for about 15 minutes but did not evacuate it. "I guess it looked unusually large," the dispatcher said of the hand gripper. She declined to give her name.