- U.S. Supreme Court poised to take up gay marriage (SJ Mercury News)
When the U.S. Supreme Court convenes behind closed doors Friday, the justices will weigh whether to jump headlong into the historic same-sex marriage debate -- or merely dip their toes in the roiling legal waters. The high court could decide whether to rule once and for all on California's Proposition 8, the 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. And it could choose to hear up to eight other cases that challenge the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal benefits to same-sex couples.
- UCSF lapses mean research animals suffer (SF Chronicle)
...In one instance, a primate starved for weeks. In another, mice died of thirst. And for nearly two years, a rhesus monkey remained in a brain study despite chronic and painful complications. A Chronicle review of laboratory inspection reports by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's animal welfare division, and an examination of UCSF's internal list of incidents, reveal that in the seven years after UCSF paid more than $90,000 to settle federal findings that its researchers violated the Animal Welfare Act, incidents of animal neglect or mistreatment have persisted.
- San Francisco General Hospital wants $1.2 million from LA Dodgers over Bryan Stow beating case (SF Examiner)
San Francisco General Hospital is seeking a $1.2 million reimbursement from the Los Angeles Dodgers for extensive brain trauma care provided to Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten by two Dodgers fans following the March 2011 season-opening game between the two teams. The hospital joins a bevy of other entities seeking millions of dollars from the team and its former owner, Frank McCourt, in U.S. bankruptcy court. Stow and his family also are suing the team because of what they estimate to be $50 million in lifetime medical expenses caused by the beating, which the suit blames on lax security and dimly lit facilities that McCourt allegedly allowed to persist because of financial difficulties around the time of his messy and well-documented divorce.
- 3-D printing a boon to entrepreneurs (SF Chronicle)
...The use of personal 3-D printers, which sell for $1,000 to $2,000, is growing rapidly, but they are mostly for hobbyists since their technical limitations prevent them from making a range of durable consumer products. But as access to higher-end 3-D printers becomes more affordable, creative Bay Area residents are using the technology to start small businesses based on concepts that would have been impossible just a few years ago.
A gang of cantankerous flying aliens known to some avian aficionados as "devil birds" have been spotted flitting around San Francisco's Lake Merced acting like they belong. The crow-sized creatures, which ornithologists know as great-tailed grackles, are native to Latin America and the southern United States, but the aggressive birds have recently been moving west, gobbling up the eggs of other birds and threatening to make a nuisance of themselves. As many as six males and two females have been seen at Lake Merced, the largest concentration of the species ever recorded in San Francisco, according to the experts.
The holidays are hard on birds, at least those with plump, tasty bodies. But bird-kind can be hard on us too, and not just in Hitchcock films. For the jet-set, birds pose a deadly threat: Flying into an engine during takeoff or landing, they can send a plane into a fatal plunge. Airlines paint eyes on the engines because apparently birds find a 150,000-pound jetliner scarier if it's looking at them. But they don't always fall for that. So in a move to make flying a little less fretful for people, San Jose leaders this week will allow airport staffers more ammo in their battle against the birds. For real. The proposed ordinance modification will let airport staffers and contracted biologists shoot at birds to clear them from the airfield.
Once-stalled negotiations between San Francisco and Sutter Health over a new California Pacific Medical Center on Van Ness Avenue are apparently making headway - thanks in part to a strategy change by the hospital chain. The deal to build a 555-bed hospital looked as if it had collapsed after Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu asked Sutter for a guarantee to keep open its financially strapped St. Luke's Hospital, which serves many low-income residents, for at least 20 years.
The FBI sees social media as a potential breeding ground for securities fraud, and has agents scouring Twitter and Facebook for tips, according to two top agents overseeing a long-running investigation into insider trading in the $2 trillion hedge fund industry. April Brooks, a special agent in charge of the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and David Chaves, a supervisory agent, said it is hard to predict the next wave of securities fraud, but they add that it will have a lot to do with advances in technology and social media.
Family members trying to rescue their dog from powerful surf in Northern California were swept out to sea, leaving a couple dead and their 16-year-old son missing, authorities said. Waves reaching 10 feet in height pulled the dog into the ocean as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, a beach north of Eureka, said Dana Jones, a state Parks and Recreation district superintendent. Jones said the boy went after the dog, prompting his father to go after them. She said the teenager was able to get out, but when he didn't see his father, he and his mother went into the water looking for him.