Family Members and Friends Await Judge's Verdict on UC Berkeley Hikers Detained in Iran
Family members of two University of California at Berkeley graduates who have been detained in Iran on espionage charges for two years hope they will be freed later this week.
Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, and a third UC Berkeley graduate, Sarah Shourd, were arrested on July 31, 2009, after embarking on a hike in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iranian border.
Iran has accused them of espionage, but the hikers and their families say they aren't spies but instead were detained after they accidentally crossed an unmarked border into Iran.
Iran released Shourd, 32, who is engaged to Bauer, last September because she was in poor health. Shourd announced in May that she would not return to Iran for a trial because she is suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Iranian authorities held a four-hour hearing for Bauer and Fattal on Sunday, according to a statement issued by Shourd and the men's families.
The families said the attorney for Bauer and Fattal, Masoud Shafii, told them that the judge in the case announced in court that he would issue his verdict within a week.
Bauer and Fattal again testified as to their innocence, and Shaffii had an opportunity to present their defense, according to the family's account.
Shourd and the families of Bauer and Fattal led a rally outside the Iranian mission to the United Nations in New York on Friday to demand that Bauer and Fattal be released.
Nine-Year-Old Boy Saves Two From Near-Drowning Incident
A 9-year-old boy who helped save the lives of a 3-year-old girl and her grandfather after finding them floating face down in a San Jose pool on Monday is the city's latest hero.
"He just feels very proud of himself," San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said of Isheen Singh.
"He said, 'I'm very proud that I was able to save her,'" Gutierrez said.
Isheen was among 10 to 12 people who had been hanging out by the pool at an apartment complex at 355 South Kiely Blvd. around 1 p.m. when he noticed two bodies floating in the deep end.
He dove in and pushed the little girl to the side of the pool while other residents helped pull her out. Meanwhile, a woman dove in and pushed the man to the side of the pool, and he was also pulled from the water, Gutierrez said.
Bystanders administered chest compressions on both the man and the little girl until firefighters arrived.
Firefighters arrived within four minutes and found the man and child lying by the side of the pool. They were breathing but were unconscious and unresponsive, she said.
As of Monday evening, the little girl was doing well but her grandfather was in serious condition, Gutierrez said.
She said it is likely the girl was underwater for about three minutes that and her grandfather had been underwater for anywhere from three to five minutes.
Last week, a man came to the rescue of a 6-year-old girl and her father at another housing complex pool in San Jose. He found both at the bottom of the pool, pulled them out and helped resuscitate them.
Fire Chief William McDonald will present the Singh with a special award for his heroism today at 11:30 a.m. at Fire Station 14, 1201 San Tomas Aquino Road.
Participation in Oakland's National Night Out Continues to Increase
Oakland's participation in the National Night Out tradition has increased dramatically in recent years, growing from 35 parties in 2004 to 559 parties this year, a new city record and largest number in the Bay Area.
The nonprofit National Association of Town Watch started the tradition 28 years ago.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan started the evening's events with a short speech at Frank Ogawa Plaza, before 75 teams of police, firefighters and other government employees fanned out to introduce themselves to residents.
"How can we strengthen community policing?" Quan asked, saying that she would be visiting numerous parties in some of the areas with the highest unemployment and violent crime.
Chief of Police Anthony Batts followed Quan by addressing Oakland's recent spike in violent crime.
He has been in communication with police chiefs in several other Bay Area cities. "Each is having a spike in crime," he said.
Batts said he would be visiting several parties himself to "tell residents how much we appreciate them."
San Quentin Prisoners Perform Shakespeare Play
"If music be the food of love, play on ..." are perhaps not words one expects to hear in the halls of San Quentin State Prison.
This Friday, however, 13 inmates will perform one of Shakespeare's most popular romantic comedies in front of more than 300 of their peers.
Marin Shakespeare Company's Suraya Keating has worked with the inmates once a week for two hours a day over the past 10 months. The performers practiced songs, learned dance moves, and rehearsed lines for an adaptation of "Twelfth Night."
The Marin Shakespeare Company, which normally performs at Dominican University's Forest Meadows, began the program at San Quentin eight years ago and Lesley Currier, the company's managing director, said the enthusiastic response from participating inmates and the audience has been overwhelming.
Currier credits the acting experience with helping inmates to improve their self-confidence, enhance their conflict resolution skills, and learn to express emotions. She said that over the years she has seen the participants transform before her eyes.
Currier, who is also performing in the play as one of the show's three female characters, said that after all the hard work invested in the play, the participants would love to do more than just one performance -- but due to security issues, putting on even one show is a hurdle.
Keating and the performers are using a script adapted by Lesley Currier and her husband Robert Currier, the artistic director of Marin Shakespeare Company.
The Curriers' version keeps the original language, with a few exceptions, but has been modernized to take place in the 1960s. The actors will be lip-syncing and dancing to music from the period, including songs by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Federal Appeals Count Upholds San Diego State Policy on Sororities and Fraternities
A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday upheld a policy by San Diego State University to refuse to recognize a Christian sorority and a Christian fraternity as official student groups.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based its ruling on a similar case in which the Supreme Court last year upheld the denial by Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco of official student group status to the Christian Legal Society.
Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson wrote, "Constitutionally speaking... San Diego State's policy is not materially different" from the policy approved by the Supreme Court in the Hasting case.
"The university's policy does not violate plaintiffs' rights of free speech and expressive association," Pregerson wrote.
"Plaintiffs are free to express any message they wish, and may include or exclude members on whatever basis they like; they simply cannot oblige the university to subsidize them as they do so," the court said.
In the San Diego State case, the student sorority Alpha Delta Chi and the fraternity Alpha Gamma Omega required members to be Christians.
The university said that requirement violated a policy barring official student groups from discriminating on the basis of factors such as religion, race and gender.
At Hastings, the Christian Legal Society barred members who were nonbelievers or engage in "unrepentant homosexual conduct."
In both cases, the non-recognized groups were denied university funding, free publicity in student newsletters and free meeting rooms. But the groups could still hand out flyers on school property, recruit student members and rent university rooms for meetings.
One difference between the two cases was that Hastings required groups to open membership to all interested students, while San Diego State had a narrower policy barring discrimination against specific categories of students.
But the appeals court said the Supreme Court's ruling applied to San Diego State as well.
The court sent the case back to a federal trial judge in San Diego, however, to consider a second claim in which the sorority and fraternity allege that the policy is enforced unfairly.
Opponents of Train Connecting Sonoma and Marin Gather Petition Signatures
Opponents of the proposed passenger train between Sonoma and Marin counties have announced that they will gather signatures on petitions to repeal the 20-year, quarter-cent sales tax measure voters approved in 2008 for the project.
RepealSMART spokesman Clay Mitchell said in a news release the proposed 70-mile rail and pedestrian path between Cloverdale and Larkspur "has been chopped to a fraction" of what was promised to voters.
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District is now proposing to build 37 miles of rail line and pathway between the downtowns of San Rafael and Santa Rosa because of less than anticipated sales tax revenue and increased costs to build the entire rail line and pathway.
The RepealSMART organization must gather 37,314 valid signatures of Marin and Sonoma counties' voters within six months to place the issue on the ballot next year.
Mitchell said repealing the sales tax measure will give SMART a "strategic timeout to re-evaluate their plan and come back to the voters with an accurate, effective and fully funded plan."
Valerie Brown, chair of SMART's board of directors, said that the district has been transparent with the rising costs of the project and that all transportation projects in the country are also dealing with that issue.
SMART originally estimated the project between Cloverdale and Larkspur would cost $541 million.
When that estimate rose to $695 million in the fall of 2010, SMART's board of directors cited a $350 million funding gap and proposed building the line in segments.
The first segment would be between Railroad Square in Santa Rosa and the Marin Civic Center. In January, the SMART board expanded that first segment to include downtown San Rafael.
In July, Farhad Mansourian, SMART's acting executive director, recommended proceeding with that initial segment. Though Marsourian estimated the total cost of the initial segment would be $403.8 million, he also forecast $407 million in available revenue.
SMART's board of directors is scheduled to discuss the latest cost and revenue projections in Mansourian's report on Aug. 17.
El Dorado County District Attorney Report Criticizes Garrido's Law Enforcement Failures
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson has released a report blasting law enforcement failures related to Phillip Garrido, who was on parole when he and his wife kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard in 1991 and held her captive for 18 years.
The report, released Tuesday, argues that despite improvements in federal and state parole supervision, law enforcement continues to rely too heavily on psychiatric evaluations of criminals to determine whether a person should be granted parole and to evaluate the level of risk they would pose to the public if paroled.
It also argues that the systemic flaws that led to Garrido's early release from prison could allow similar mistakes to be made again if further reforms to the system are not made.
While some reforms have been made to the system, Pierson's report argues that criminals like Garrido continue to be evaluated by what he calls a "dysfunctional process."
The report was released in anticipation of a meeting scheduled for today in Sacramento in which Pierson, Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, law enforcement leaders and victims' rights organizations plan to discuss possible state legislative reforms to better protect society from people like Garrido.
16-Year-Old Arreseted for Barber Shop Robbery
Antioch police reported a 16-year-old boy, originally the subject of a statewide Amber Alert, was arrested Tuesday in connection with a Monday barber shop robbery.
Police say the boy has admitted his involvement in the robbery, as well as the feigning of his kidnapping.
The robbery occurred at Al's Barber Shop, 11 W. 18th St., at about 3:40 p.m. Monday, police said.
Tuesday evening, police served a search warrant at an apartment in the 3100 block of Lone Tree Way in Antioch and arrested Eric Lerone Walker, 23, as the suspected gunman in the robbery.
According to police, the sawed-off shotgun believed to have been used in the robbery was located in a van during a search of the premises, along with items stolen during the robbery.
Al Holmes, who works at the barbershop, said Tuesday that he was in the shop alone when the gunman came in.
He said the man pointed the gun at his head and threatened toshoot him if he didn't do what he was told.
While this was happening, the boy, Hasaan Ameer Ford, who did odd jobs around the business, came back from running an errand, Holmes said.
The gunman stole Holmes' keys and wallet and appeared to force the teenager at gunpoint into Holmes' SUV, Holmes said.
Holmes reported the incident and police issued a statewide Amber Alert for Ford.
Investigators later heard from the boy's family that his captor had released him.
SFMTA's Board of Directors Vote to Increase City Taxi Fares and Number of Taxicabs
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's Board of Directors on Tuesday voted both to increase city taxi fares and the total number of taxicabs on city streets, SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said.
Rose said the board unanimously approved a flag drop rate increase by from $3.10 to $3.50. The flag drop rate is the amount of money on the meter when a passenger enters a taxi, Rose said.
According to Rose, the rate increase goes into effect in 30 days.
The board also voted 6-1 to increase the number of taxis driving in San Francisco, Rose said.
Currently, Rose said there are around 1,500 authorized taxis driving in the city. In 90 days, paperwork will be complete for the issuance of 85 new taxi medallions, according to Rose.
Rose said 50 of the new medallions will be for part-time single operators, which limit holders to driving for no more than 60 hours per week.
Thirty-five of the new medallions will be issued for full-time taxicabs, and Rose said these enable holders to have drivers working up to two 10-hour shifts per day.
Another two medallions will be issued specifically for 'battery switch' electric taxis which will also be able to drive full time, Rose said.
The two electric cabs won't be in service until 2012.
In May, the board approved a 10-cent increase to taxi rates from 45 to 55 cents per fifth of a mile or minute of wait time.
Lanes Painted on Golden Gate Bridge Sidewalk to Separate Bicyclists and Pedestrians
New painted lanes advising bicyclists and pedestrians to stay on separate sides of the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk were completed Tuesday, according to officials at the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.
The lanes are intended to help guide pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the iconic bridge, after they were crowded together following the closure of the western sidewalk in May.
The western sidewalk is currently closed for about four months of earthquake retrofitting work, and will reopen by Sept. 30, district officials said. Ordinarily, the western sidewalk is reserved for bicyclists and the eastern sidewalk is shared by both pedestrians and bicyclists.
Moving bicyclists to the eastern sidewalk has caused much more congestion and confusion for travelers on the bridge, as up-to-4,600 bicyclists previously used the western sidewalk on a daily basis, officials said.
Officials have reported two solo bicycle accidents on the bridge during the two months since the closure, while in the last three years, only four accidents have been reported each year.
Ongoing discussions of bridge safety have been partly spurred by a proposal from the transportation district to enforce a speed limit on cyclists crossing the bridge because of concerns about the cyclist safety.
There have been 164 bicycle-involved accidents reported over the past 10 years, most of which were solo accidents. Speed contributed to 39 percent of the incidents, according to the transportation district.
The speed limit proposal has drawn skepticism from local bicycle activists.
Currie said that the new advisories seem to be working well, and that the speed limit idea will not be examined again until September at the earliest.
Currie said that once the western sidewalk is reopened, another four months of work is planned for the eastern sidewalk. That sidewalk will need to be closed, significantly reducing access for pedestrians.
Weapons Stolen From Concord Home Still Missing
Albany police said Tuesday there are still weapons missing following the recovery of 22 stolen shotguns and rifles at a Concord home last Thursday.
Investigators are still seeking more firearms that were taken from an Albany home in a burglary reported late last month.
Police received a report of a home burglary in the 800 block of Hillside Avenue in Albany on July 26. The reporting party said the burglary had occurred sometime within the previous several days.
Three people, including a mother and daughter, were arrested at a Richmond motel in connection with the theft, in which precious heirlooms and a stamp collection were taken along with the cache of guns.
Police arrested the suspects -- Deanna Wilkinson, 64, her 35-year-old daughter Denise Wilkinson, of El Cerrito, and 38-year-old Gustavo Ramos, of Vallejo -- last Wednesday after they were found to be in possession of items connected to the burglary.
All three were arraigned on Friday, according to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
Deanna Wilkinson was charged with receiving stolen property. Her daughter is facing charges of receiving stolen property and residential burglary. Ramos faces three charges -- weapon possession by a felon, residential burglary and receiving stolen property, district attorney's office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said.
The trio was tracked down after a neighbor gave police a description of a suspicious vehicle seen in the driveway of the Albany home.
The investigation led police to serve search warrants at homes in the 1100 block of in Monterey Street in Vallejo and the 2800 block of Loma Vista in Concord early Thursday morning.
No weapons were found in Vallejo, but 22 firearms were recovered at the Concord home with the help of Concord police.
Police believe the weapons were awaiting sale to local gang members.
Massey Pleads No Contest to Murder
Jess Willard Massey pleaded no contest on Tuesday in Napa County Superior Court to the murder of Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross last year.
A court spokeswoman said Massey, 38, who was a patient at the hospital, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23.
Robbery and kidnapping charges were dismissed against Massey in return for his no contest plea, the court spokeswoman said.
Massey had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity last month to the strangulation murder on Oct. 23.
Two doctors were to evaluate Massey's mental health and report to Napa County Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker this week.
Massey was held over for trial in May on the murder, robbery and kidnapping charges.
Gross, 54, of Concord died of asphyxiation after she was attacked in an enclosed courtyard at the Napa hospital.
Gross took a dinner break around 4:30 p.m. She bought gum at a Target store and checked back in at the hospital at 5:15 p.m., Napa County Sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said.
She was robbed of jewelry, gum and less than $2, Stuart said.
Gross's watch, two necklaces and her earrings were found in Massey's room and the gum was found in a trash can on Massey's ward, Stuart said.
The sheriff's office believed Massey used his hands and arms to strangle Gross, Stuart said.
Massey was sent to Napa State Hospital after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to stabbing a woman in a Sacramento parking garage in May 1996.
San Jose City Council Votes to Annex Neighborhood in Unincorporated Santa Clara County
The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted to move forward with a deal agreement that would annex a neighborhood in unincorporated Santa Clara County to the city of Campbell.
The council voted 10-1 to authorize City Manager Debra Figone to finalize negotiations with the city of Campbell under which Campbell would annex the 103-acre neighborhood known as Cambrian 36.
As part of the deal, Campbell would pay San Jose $200,000 every year for the next five years following the annexation, in order to offset lost revenue.
Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio cast the sole dissenting vote.
"This has been a long time coming," said Councilman Pete Constant. "I'm thankful to the residents that have stuck with it because it because it has been a very long and painful process."
The city agreed in 2006 to annex all unincorporated areas that are 150 acres or less by April 15, 2011, as part of a lawsuit settlement agreement between the city and Santa Clara County.
Over the last 4.5 years, the city has annexed more than 1,200 acres and gained nearly 16,000 residents.
The annexation has brought about changes in municipal services, shifting the authority of services such as garbage, police and fire from the county to the city instead of the county.
Many of the 1,000 residents who live in Cambrian 36 prefer to annex to Campbell or remain part of an unincorporated area because they are concerned that annexing to San Jose will result in significant reductions in basic safety services due to the city's budget deficit.
Opponents of the annexation have argued that it would result in slower response times with the nearest San Jose fire station being four times farther away than the nearest county station.
San Francisco Bay Area Weather
The Bay Area is forecast to be cloudy with patchy fog this morning, becoming partly cloudy, with highs in the 50s to upper 60s.
It is expected to be partly cloudy this evening, becoming cloudy with patchy fog and drizzle expected after midnight. Lows are expected to be in the mid 50s.
Thursday is expected to be cloudy with patchy fog and drizzle in the morning, becoming partly cloudy, with highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s.
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