- U.S. wants Chevron to justify new pipe (SF Chronicle)
Responding to concerns raised by federal investigators looking into the August fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery, company officials say replacement pipe being installed at the plant will resist the type of corrosion that led to the blaze. Investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board have pressed Chevron officials to justify their selection of pipe made with a metal alloy known as 9 Chrome to replace the carbon-steel pipe destroyed in the Aug. 6 blaze.
- De La Salle High wins fourth consecutive state football championship (Bay Area News Group)
The De La Salle High football team won its fourth consecutive California Interscholastic Federation Open Division state title over an old rival on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson. Senior Tiapepe Vitale broke the De La Salle single-season rushing record as the Spartans beat Centennial-Corona 48-28 in a rematch of the 2007 and 2008 Division I state championship games.
- S.F., Oakland gun buyback nets hundreds (SF Chronicle)
Arturo Hurtado of Richmond was still stricken with grief over the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 schoolchildren dead when he awoke Saturday morning. So he decided to get rid of his gun - "that darn thing," he called it - and purged it from his home. Hurtado was among hundreds of Bay Area residents who dropped off their firearms at buyback locations in Oakland and San Francisco on Saturday, collecting $200 cash for their weapon, no questions asked.
- Eye in the sky: Berkeley considers banning surveillance drones (Oakland Tribune)
City leaders on Tuesday will consider a proposal to declare the air here a "No Drone Zone" to prevent law enforcement from using small unmanned aircraft to spy on residents. The proposal by Berkeley's Peace and Justice Commission comes a week after Alameda County Supervisors tabled a proposal by the Sheriff's Office to spend a $31,646 grant on a surveillance drone. The supervisors and the sheriff came under pressure by privacy advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"The Master," an enigmatic drama about a soul-searching America just after World War II and a complicated relationship that develops between two men, was awarded the best picture prize of 2012 on Sunday by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. The intense Paul Thomas Anderson film also netted Joaquin Phoenix, who played a troubled former Navy man taken under the wing of a charismatic faith leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman), with best actor honors. The group, composed of film critics from Bay Area publications and websites, also bestowed two accolades on East Bay filmmaker Peter Nicks and his topical nonfiction film "The Waiting Room," a fly-on-the-wall documentary that takes you inside Oakland's Highland Hospital.
When The City first installed its SFpark meters — devices that would increase hourly parking rates based on demand — many motorists complained that it was one more way to gouge drivers for extra dollars. In fact, the program has done the exact opposite. Since taking effect in April 2011, average hourly rates have dropped by 14 cents from $2.73 to $2.59 at the 7,000 SFpark meters. Overall, 17 percent of those meters offer hourly rates of $1 or less — prices that are significantly cheaper than the ones offered at The City’s 22,000 older meters. And 6 percent of SFpark meters go for as cheap as 25 cents an hour, according to data from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees parking policies in The City. The drop in prices for on-street parking meters coincides with a 20 percent rate decrease in SFMTA-run garages
One intriguing name has surfaced in the search for a court-appointed compliance director to enforce reforms in the Oakland Police Department - former City Manager Robert Bobb. That's the same Robert Bobb who, as a city official, negotiated the settlement of a police-brutality lawsuit a decade ago that put the department under a federal consent decree in the first place.
Ah, the sounds of Christmas: carolers at the door, a crackling fire, the rip of wrapping paper and ... the sharp chirp of the yellow-rumped warbler. Ornithologists fanned out with military precision throughout the East Bay on Sunday for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. The tradition, started 113 years ago as an alternative to holiday bird shoots, puts bird lovers worldwide in the role of citizen scientists to collect vital data used by researchers to monitor climate change. Last winter during the two weeks near Christmas, more than 63,000 volunteers counted birds in 2,200 places around the globe.