- Old Occupy camp dismantled on Market Street (SF Chronicle)
The final vestige of the past year's Occupy encampments in San Francisco was swept off the street late Wednesday night in a speedy police raid that had the mostly homeless denizens shooed off or arrested, and their tents trucked away, before reinforcing activists could arrive to effectively protest. The clearance began at 11:35 p.m. when about 70 police officers suddenly trotted up in formation and surrounded the blocklong stretch of more than two dozen campers on Market Street in front of the Federal Reserve Building.
- California limits role of student tests in API scores (LA Times)
California's key measure of public school quality will be redefined to lessen the impact of standardized test scores under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The law, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), will broaden how the Academic Performance Index is calculated by limiting test scores to 60% for high schools and including graduation rates and other factors. The 1,000-point index, which is currently based entirely on student test scores, has been criticized as an inaccurate gauge of campus quality even as it is widely used by parents to choose schools and real estate agents to sell homes.
- New San Francisco archbishop facing more headaches with planned protests (SF Examiner)
In the realm of local activism, next week’s planned protests against the installation of San Francisco’s new archbishop could reach biblical proportions. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a group of gay-rights activists whose members satirically wear the garb of Roman Catholic nuns — is furious about the recent naming of Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone to lead San Francisco’s 91-parish archdiocese. The Sisters are targeting Cordileone mostly for his central role in advocacy and fundraising for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage statewide in 2008.
- Biofuel startups turn to cosmetics, health supplements for profits(The Bay Citizen)
Once a promising source of green energy, high-tech biofuel is being eclipsed by skin cream and food products as manufacturers shift to more lucrative products. After Congress enacted a renewable fuel standard in 2005, more than a dozen Bay Area companies joined the race to design new biofuels. The idea was to use genetically engineered microorganisms or other novel techniques to convert renewable crops into fuel with half the carbon emissions of gasoline.
Driven by the Obama administration's vision of clean power and energy independence, the rush to build large-scale solar plants across the Southwest has created an investors' dream in the desert. Taxpayers have poured tens of billions of dollars into solar projects -- some of which will have all their construction and development costs financed by the government by the time they start producing power.
...Harvey Milk Plaza has become a refuge for transients. Street dwellers call it a safe and carefree place to be with their friends. The magnet is the purple benches that wrap gracefully around half of the plaza. They were installed in 2010 to make the area more inviting, but instead became a way for drifters to evade the city's ban on sitting and lying on sidewalks.
As Treasure Island residents express alarm about a radioactive waste investigation that has expanded into their yards and homes, San Francisco health officials and a local nonprofit are stepping in to separate fact from speculation. Navy contractors have been searching for and removing low-level radioactive waste at the former Treasure Island Naval Station since 2003, the legacy of an atomic warfare school and a warship repair yard. But recently, the Navy has had to broaden its efforts after state health officials said military contractors had misidentified and mishandled potential radioactive waste sites.
Two East Bay legislators on Wednesday called for a state hearing on steps that government agencies are taking to prevent incidents like last month's massive fire at Chevron's local refinery. "We've learned hard lessons from past events such as the San Bruno pipeline explosion, and it's clear from information that has emerged so far about this refinery fire that more needs to be done to protect public health and safety," Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said in a news release. "As legislators, it's our responsibility to ensure that our regulations are working and that companies are in compliance."
In what animal welfare activists say is the end of an inhumane, unsporting practice and hunters call legislative meddling in natural resource policy, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a law banning the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats. The bill, authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu, makes it illegal to use dogs to chase down the wild animals, which are forced to escape up a tree at which point they are then shot by a hunter. The high-profile environmental bill takes effect Jan. 1.
Low-price Japanese retailer Daiso has signed a five-year lease at Alameda South Shore Center, a move that follows the company opening a pop-up store at the mall last December to serve holiday shoppers. Daiso will move into a 4,100-square-foot space, according to Jamestown L.P. which owns the center and announced the agreement on Wednesday.
Resistance is futile for the vast majority of mugging victims in San Francisco. An examination of a whopping 100 muggings in 23 days on city streets and on Muni vehicles showed that victims who fought back or resisted were most likely beaten up and still lost their possessions.
A Mendocino County judge on Wednesday overturned controversial state water rules designed to regulate how grape growers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties divert water from the Russian River. Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman declared the law to be “constitutionally void” and “invalid.” “There is not substantial evidence in the record to show the regulation, as enacted, is necessary,” she said.