Bookmark and Share

rss logo Top San Francisco Area Local News Stories

Source: MedleyStory

Uber, Lyft get permits to operate at SFO

UberX and Lyft will be allowed to operate at San Francisco International Airport in the next 30 days, SFO officials announced Monday.

"We are committed to be an industry leader, creating a roadmap for innovative business models like Lyft and UberX to operate legally in an airport," airport director John Martin said in a statement today. "We're proud to be the first airport in the U.S. to have both signed permits from both companies. This gives customers at SFO more choice, without compromising our focus on safety and security."

Lyft was the first company to obtain a permit to operate at a U.S. airport, in Nashville, while Sidecar became the first to get a permit at a California airport when it reached an agreement with SFO last week.

The transportation network companies, in which travelers are connected through a smartphone app with part-time drivers using personal vehicles, were prohibited from picking up or dropping off passengers at airports when the California Public Utilities Commission set new regulations on the companies last year.

SFO began requiring permits in April, but none of the companies actually reached an agreement with the airport until last week. Meanwhile, the airport has issued numerous citations for drivers operating there illegally.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said last week that hundreds of verbal admonishments had been issued for drivers using the airport while not permitted and about three dozen misdemeanor citations have been issued for second offenses.

Airport security found some of those drivers did not have proper licenses, insurance or were operating a car that was not their own.

Most of the drivers cited were working for Uber, Yakel said. The terms of the agreements with Uber and Lyft were not announced Monday, but Yakel said last week that the permits offered for each company were the same.

Sidecar's permit required a $3.85 fee for each trip to the airport, similar to what taxi and limo services pay, and for the company to track how many drivers were coming into and out of the airport.

Uber and Lyft were mainly in talks to determine how to track the vehicles coming to the airport, Yakel said.

"Lyft will be available throughout all SFO terminals, providing a flexible choice for pick up and drop off for passengers and drivers in our home city," the company said in a statement today.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:10:35 -0700

San Francisco bars prep for World Series

On the eve of the World Series, orange appears to be the new black in San Francisco.

Coit Tower and City Hall are glowing orange but some fans told KTVU those tributes were now expected.

With the Giants heading into a wild-card World Series, its third in five years, fans wanted to pay homage by doing more.

At Amante in North Beach, owner Wizz Wentworth decided to limit the number of people who could watch the games by requiring fans to reserve seats at the bar and tables in advance. He's already booked. "We put you on a list if you're not on it, you can't get in."

Wentworth said he did it so fans could focus on the game, not waste time trying to order beverages or go to the bathroom.

He plans to serve the house specialty cocktail which glows orange from an infusion of fruit. He has also tailored the menu so it's better suited for World Series watching.

Other restaurants around the ballpark did the same, showing off newly printed menus with a different lineup of entrees.

Even at European-inspired pubs like Maggie McGarrys, the spotlight is on America's favorite pastime.

"We'll be very, very busy," Bartender Patrick Dunphy told KTVU.

Dunphy says the pub will unveil new Giants-inspired mixed drinks ahead of the first game of the series. The names of the new concoctions will be determined before the first pitch Tuesday night.


Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:49:56 -0700

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dies at 82

Oscar de la Renta, the worldly gentleman designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades, has died. He was 82.

De la Renta died at home Monday evening in Connecticut surrounded by family and friends and "more than a few dogs," according to a handwritten statement signed by two of his company's executives, Alex Bolen and Eliza Bolen.

"While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much us. Oscar's hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company," the statement said. "All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit. Through Oscar's example we know the way forward. We will make Oscar very proud of us by continuing in an even stronger way the work that Oscar loved so much."

The late '60s and early '70s were a defining moment in U.S. fashion as New York-based designers finally carved a look of their own that was finally taken seriously by Europeans. De la Renta and his peers, including the late Bill Blass, Roy Halston and Geoffrey Beene, defined American style — and their influence is still spotted today.

De la Renta's specialty was eveningwear, though he also was known for chic daytime suits favored by the women who would gather at the Four Seasons or Le Cirque at lunchtime. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colors.

Most recently, Amal Alamuddin wore a de la Renta-designed wedding dress when she married George Clooney. First lady Laura Bush wore an icy blue gown by de la Renta to the 2005 inaugural ball and Hillary Clinton wore a gold de la Renta in 1997. On the red carpet at the Academy Awards, Penelope Cruz and Sandra Bullock were among the celebrities to don his feminine and opulent gowns. His clothes even were woven into episodes of "Sex and the City" with style icon character Carrie Bradshaw dropping his name — and comparing his designs to poetry.

"We will miss Oscar's generous and warm personality, his charm, and his wonderful talents." Bush said in a statement. "My daughters and I have many fond memories of visits with Oscar, who designed our favorite clothes, including Jenna's wedding dress. We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful."

De la Renta's path to New York's Seventh Avenue took an unlikely route: He left his native Dominican Republic at age 18 to study painting in Spain but soon became sidetracked by fashion. The wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain saw some of his sketches and asked him to make a dress for her daughter — a dress that landed on the cover of Life magazine.

That led to an apprenticeship with Cristobal Balenciaga, and then de la Renta moved to France to work for couture house Lanvin. By 1963, he was working for Elizabeth Arden couture in New York and in 1965 had launched his own label.

He told the AP in 2004 that his Hispanic roots worked their way into his designs.

"I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant," he said.

And while de la Renta made Manhattan his primary home, he often visited the Dominican Republic and kept a home there. Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour was a frequent visitor and she has said traveling with him was like traveling with the president. "He's a superstar," she said.

He also had a country home in northwestern Connecticut. Gardening and dancing were among his favorite diversions from work. "I'm a very restless person. I'm always doing something. The creative process never stops," he said.

As a designer, De la Renta always catered to his socialite friends and neighbors — as the designer and his wife, Annette, were fixtures on the black-tie charity circuit — but he did make occasional efforts to reach the masses, including launching a mid-priced line in 2004 and developing a dozen or so perfumes, the first, called Oscar, was introduced in 1977 and more recently, Rosamor.

He was an avid patron of the arts, serving as a board member of The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, among others, and he devoted considerable time to children's charity, including New Yorkers for Children. He also helped fund schools and day-care centers in La Romana and Punta Cana in his native country.

The Dominican Republic honored de la Renta with the order al Merito de Juan Pablo Duarte and the order of Cristobol Colon. Here in the U.S., he received the Coty American Fashion Critics Award twice, was named womenswear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2000 and also received a lifetime achievement award from the CFDA — an organization for which he served as president in the 1980s.

In addition to his own label, de la Renta spearheaded the Pierre Balmain collection from 1993-2002, marking the first time an American designed for a French couture house, and he was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur as a Commandeur. He also received the Gold Medal Award from the king and queen of Spain.

De la Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen, but he remained active on the design end, continuing to show his collections during New York Fashion Week.

De la Renta also is survived by an adopted son, Moises, a designer at the company.

De la Renta's first wife, French Vogue editor Francoise de Langlade, died in 1983.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:36:02 -0700

US agency warns car owners to get air bags fixed

The U.S. government issued an urgent plea to more than 4.7 million people to get the air bags in their cars fixed, amid concern that a defect in the devices can possibly kill or injure the driver or passengers.

The inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed in crashes. Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem and there have been multiple injuries.

Multiple automakers have recalled vehicles in the U.S. over the past two years to repair air bag inflators made by Takata Corp., a Tokyo-based supplier of seat belts, air bags, steering wheels and other auto parts. In a statement Monday, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration warned owners of those cars to act right away.

The agency has been investigating the problem since June, and has cited reports of six inflators rupturing, causing three injuries.

Worldwide, automakers have recalled about 12 million vehicles because of the problem.

The warning covers cars made by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, General Motors and Ford. Passenger or driver air bags or both could have the faulty inflators. Safety advocates say the problem could affect more than 20 million vehicles in the U.S.

The rare action by federal regulators comes three weeks after a Sept. 29 crash near Orlando, Florida, that claimed the life of a 46-year-old woman. In that crash, Hien Thi Tran suffered severe neck wounds that could have been caused by metal fragments flying out of the air bag on her 2001 Honda Accord. Her Accord was among the models being recalled.

One police agency concluded that the air bags caused her wounds, while another is still investigating. NHTSA is seeking information in the case.

Toyota on Monday issued a recall covering passenger air bags in 247,000 older model vehicles including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia and Tundra. Like many earlier recalls, Toyota's covers vehicles in South Florida, along the Gulf Coast, in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa — all areas that have high absolute humidity.

Toyota said it's working with Takata to pinpoint the cause of the rupture and to gauge the influence of high absolute humidity, which is a measurement of water vapor in the air.

Toyota could expand the recall to more areas pending further testing, according to spokesman John Hanson. Toyota says it knows of no crashes or injuries in the recalled cars.

NHTSA urged people to check if their car has been recalled.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, estimated there are 20 million to 25 million cars in the U.S. alone that are equipped with the faulty air bags.

In the Florida case, Tran turned left in front of another vehicle and the front ends collided. Her air bag inflated. The original report on the death said the seat belt could not have cut the right side of her neck. Also, there was no broken glass and no other apparent cause of the neck wounds.

Initially the case was turned over to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, whose homicide investigators determined that the air bag caused Tran's neck injuries, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Because the death appears to be traffic-related, the matter was sent back to the Florida Highway Patrol, which has not finished its investigation.

The Highway Patrol will call in an air bag expert to help make the determination, said Sgt. Kim Montes. The car's steering wheel and spokes were not damaged and appeared to be a normal air bag deployment, she said. Investigators also will look for evidence of metal fragments in the car and try to determine what caused Tran's neck wounds, Montes said.

Last week, two U.S. senators questioned why the safety agency is limiting the recall to certain regions.

They cited the May 27, 2009, death of 18-year-old Ashley Parham of Oklahoma City as proof the problem can occur in areas where humidity isn't so prevalent. Parham was driving a 2001 Honda Accord across a high school parking lot in Midwest City, Oklahoma, when it hit another car. The air bag inflated and sent shards of metal into her neck, causing her death.

Takata said Monday it supports Toyota's recall decision and will continue to support NHTSA and its customers with replacement parts and technical analysis.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 19:58:51 -0700

2 Investigates: English-speaking students misidentified as 'English learners'

There are more than 1.6 million "English learners" in California schools, according to recent estimates.  It's a designation that can make a big difference in the success of students who need extra help with English as a second language. 

But some parents say their kids, for whom English is their first or only language, are being incorrectly included in the program.

One wrong answer

A mother, who asked not to be identified, told KTVU problems for her two youngest children started when she filled out a parent survey before her kids entered kindergarten in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The questionnaire asked about languages spoken in the home.

"They also ask if there's a second language, so we marked 'Spanish,'" said the woman, who came to the United States from El Salvador in 1980.

The mother says that answer prompted the school district to give her children the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).  Their scores fell short of qualifying them as proficient in English.  They were labeled "English learners" and placed in the English Learning Development program even though English is their first language.

Now in fourth and fifth grade, the brother and sister have been unable to get reclassified.  Parents cannot opt out of having their children tested.

"I feel like a hostage to the system. Because you really don't have an out.  Once they're labeled, they're labeled," said the children's mother.

State test criticized

Once school districts identify a child as a possible English learner, they are required by the state of California to give them the CELDT. 

2 Investigates found 93 percent of students in West Contra Costa Unified who took the test in 2012-2013 were found to be not proficient.  Researchers have found similar results statewide. 

Chancellor's Professor of Education and Political Science at UC Berkeley, Lisa Garcia Bedolla, co-authored a study of the CELDT in 2011.  It found school districts were frequently over identifying students to take the state test.

"The disturbing thing that we found though was once a student gets triggered to take the test, it's very unlikely that student is going to be found to be English proficient," said Garcia Bedolla.

A subsequent study by the California Department of Education found that even a large percentage of "English only" students failed to score at a level high enough to be labeled "English Proficient."

"It's important to be accurate in how we're defining students and to make sure we're providing resources to the students who actually need those resources," said Garcia Bedolla.

Limited resources

The mother who contacted 2 Investigates says she can appreciate the value of English learning development programs in public schools.  When she arrived in California at the age of seven from El Salvador, she says she needed help with English in school.

"It helped me tremendously.  Here I am today -- fluent," she said.

Experts worry the over identification of English learners hurts those who need it the most.

In addition to some federal funds, school districts receive $5 from the state for every student who is tested for English proficiency using the CELDT.  2 Investigates found West Contra Costa Unified received $53,770 in 2012-2013.  The 10,754 students tested were the third most in the Bay Area, behind San Francisco Unified and Oakland Unified School Districts.

West Contra Costa Unified insists money isn't the issue.

"If you look at $54,000 dollars in the context of a budget that's $300 million or so, I don't see how anyone can say we want to raise the number of CELDT test takers for that amount of money," said the district's Director of Communications, Marcus Walton.  "The district wants to do what's best for its students and English language development instruction is important."

Seeking solutions

By law, school districts are required to identify potential English learners. But once students are given the state test, they say the scores dictate whether a child is labeled. 

West Contra Costa Unified denied 2 Investigates’ request to speak to the district's superintendent Bruce Harter, so reporter Eric Rasmussen asked Walton if he thinks the district is identifying too many kids as "English Learners."

"Well, that's something the district doesn't have too much control over," Walton replied.

Experts such as Garcia Bedolla disagree.

"Districts actually have quite a bit of control," Bedolla said. She points to the Home Language Survey used by most school districts in California.  She says most districts surveyed in her study did not tell parents how their answers could impact their children. 

"What happens to parents, is their opinions about their child's English proficiency is not taken seriously," said Bedolla.  "And I think this is based on this fallacious assumption that immigrant parents somehow don't want their kids to learn English."

Walton says teachers in West Contra Costa Unified are given flexibility to follow up with parents about their answers on the survey before identifying a student for testing.  The district has also developed a new "master plan" to improve the process.

Now district officials say the CELDT is being overhauled and could be replaced with a new state test in the coming years.

The mother who contacted 2 Investigates says the chance to give input about her children's language skills is something she never received.

"It's not right.  It's not ethical and it shouldn't happen," she said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:31:20 -0700

Rush for Giants tickets, hotel rooms ahead of World Series

This weekend the eyes of world will be on San Francisco as the Giants host two - possibly three games of the World Series.

"The first Giants home game on StubHub the get in price is around $500," said Cameron Papp of StubHub.

But that price is just for standing room only. If you want to sit down get ready to pay a lot more. "From $500 to around $10,000 and those are for luxury suite tickets lower box tickets," said Papp. Thankfully the fees are included in the price.

But with big games, comes scams. StubHub says it's aware of this and the company has a partnership with Major League Baseball. 

So if you buy your ticket with StubHub, Papp says it is the real deal. "A seller couldn't potentially take a ticket and put it on StubHub and print it out and sell it somewhere else. Because once it’s sold on StubHub that barcode is then canceled," says Papp. 

Meanwhile, hotels in the area are getting booked up with Giants fans. "Friday morning the phones were off the hook. The reservation department kept getting bombarded with phone calls," said Tina Keramari of San Francisco's Chancellor Hotel.

A quick look online showed hotel prices upwards of $300 per night this weekend. KTVU also checked out Airbnb prices that ranged from $60 to more than $4,000 a night.

If you want to be adventurous you can get a tent and camping gear for $65 a night. If that's not your style, on the opposite end you can get a house that sleeps 40 for $4,332 a night.

Either way you go, it's best to act on your sleeping arrangements fast. 

"Always call ahead of time. I would never wait for the day of to see what's going on." said Keramari.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:15:26 -0700

Apple Pay now available to consumers

With all the credit card hacking at major retailers and banks, Apple launched its new Apple Pay system at an opportune time. 

Some may, or may not, want to use it. If you have the new iPhone 6, Apple Pay is simplicity itself at 220,000 store and online retailers from Walgreens to Walt Disney World. "An entirely new way to pay for things in stores and in apps," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.

To use Apple Pay you place your phone near the terminal and hold your finger on the button for print identification and you're done. It bills one of as many as eight cards you scan into the phone. The store or restaurant gets only a payment code, never your card number, security number, pin number, address or other ID theft information.

"I'm very interested in using it because I think it's gonna give me more security with my credit cards," said Greg an iPhone user who didn't want to give his last name.

If your iPhone is lost or stolen there's no security worry because none of the critical financial information is stored on the phone anyway.

But, technology analyst Larry Magid says in the cat and mouse game of cyber security, Apple Pay is not guaranteed as bulletproof. "All financial transactions are vulnerable.

“If you use cash, you can have it stolen, if you use a credit card we know that there are many cases where it's been hacked and, of course, it is possible to hack technology like Apple Pay," says Larry Magid, Tech Analyst.

In an odd sort of way, Google is probably hoping that Apple Pay works because its own application, Google Wallet, has not been all that successful and since they both use the same technology, if this succeeds, they may too.

“By publicizing it and getting people excited about it, there are gonna be folks that have Android phones that are gonna want to try Google wallet so they can be on a par with their Apple brethren," says tech analyst Magid.

The Apple Pay app became available Monday only for the iPhone 6 and millions have already downloaded it.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:51:27 -0700

Oakland police move to improve 9-1-1 dispatch response time

It's a plan that could take years to complete, but Oakland police say their goal is to start accepting some 9-1-1 cell phone calls instead of routing them to CHP dispatchers by the end of the year.

Some concerned residents tell KTVU that change can't come soon enough.

If you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone in Oakland, the call doesn’t go directly to Oakland police. It is first sent to the California Highway Patrol’s dispatch center in Vallejo before being transferred to Oakland’s dispatch center. 

Oakland police said plans are in the works to change that system to start accepting some 9-1-1 cell phone calls from one or two towers by the year’s end.

Oakland resident Karen Ivy remembers the day almost four years ago when she saw a pedestrian get hit by a car while crossing Broadway in North Oakland

"I saw her fall across the hood and fall into the street," Ivy said. "It was pretty appalling."

Ivy knew that if she called 9-1-1 from her cell phone, the call would go to the CHP first.  So she called the Oakland Police seven-digit emergency line, which she had already programmed into her phone.

She thought it would allow her to speak to a dispatcher more quickly. Instead, she heard a recording.

"It was a minute and a half before a human being picked up," Ivy said.

The average wait time for any 9-1-1 caller in Oakland is much shorter than that, but still above recommended averages.

According to the dispatch communications supervisor, the average wait time for people who called 9-1-1 in September 2014 to speak to an Oakland police dispatcher was 20 to 30 second, regardless of whether the person called from a cell phone or landline.

In Sept. 2013, the average wait time was 13 to 16 seconds.

The National Emergency Number Association recommends 90 percent of all 9-1-1 calls be answered in 10 seconds or less.

"It's an emergency call coming in and we here at the city want to make sure we can respond as quickly as possible. Any delay is too extensive," said Oakland Police Deputy Chief Eric Breshears.

Breshears said Oakland police dispatch has the technology to receive mobile 9-1-1 calls, but they don’t have enough people to answer all of those calls.

"The delay for us comes from a couple of areas. One is making sure we have enough staff to handle the calls," he said.

The Oakland Police Department has 52 dispatchers. They are authorized to have as many as 74.

It takes more than eight months to train a new dispatcher, according to Communications Supervisor Regina Oliver. She told KTVU the job is not for everyone. It is a high-stress, demanding job and retaining the dispatchers the department hires and trains is a challenge.

Oliver said of the nine new dispatchers Oakland hired in December of last year, four have already left. She said one took a higher-paying position in another city and the three others decided to pursue a different line of work.

Breshears said the Oakland Police Department is beginning the process of transitioning some of the city's cell phone towers to their local dispatch system. 

"If we're going to take over a certain number of cell towers in the city, we have to look at which ones to take over? They all don't have the same amount of calls flowing through them," explained Breshears.

He said the plan to take 9-1-1 calls directly into Oakland police dispatch would start with the cell towers in the "highest risk, high-crime" areas first.

The goal, eventually, would be to no longer rely on the CHP dispatch, but Breshears said in order to do that, Oakland would need to hire enough dispatchers to handle an extra 150,000 to 200,000 9-1-1 calls every year.

 "Bottom line is, we have to gradually build this, we can't take them all at one time," Breshears said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:36:58 -0700

Humane society trades car rims for malnourished dog

Trading car rims for a dog wasn’t something that had ever been done at the Humane Society of the North Bay. But, Director of Operations Sue Strek says in the case of 6-year-old Chico, they had to do something.

"People don't like to be judged," says Strek, "and I want this place to be a safe place for animals."

Chico is a small dog and when he came to the attention of the Humane Society of the North Bay in Vallejo he was in pretty bad shape. He was severely malnourished, his ribs were showing and he was infested with fleas.

"I've never seen so many fleas on a little dog," explained Strek. "Yes this was extreme. This dog would have probably died from flea infestation; he would not have survived the winter," she said.

Strek still doesn't know where Chico used to live. The person who reported him is a volunteer with the Humane society but out of fear of retaliation didn't want to reveal his location. Still given his condition they wanted to help. So they asked Strek if she would help Chico if they could get the owner to give him up and she agreed immediately.

At first Strek says the owner of the dog didn't want to give him up, but the volunteer persisted and finally ended up giving the dog's owner car rims in exchange for Chico.

Strek says in some situations it's about calling the police and animal control but in others like this one, it's just about getting the dog to safety.

She says Chico's now former owner didn't think he was doing anything wrong, and says "sometimes you just have to be patient with people and not threaten them with the law."

Strek who has been the Director of Operations for just three months says she wants the community to look to the Humane Society as a safe haven for animals and says the board has agreed to reimburse the volunteer for the cost of the rims.

Chico still has a long road ahead. The cost to treat him will be about $2,000. They are still trying to raise money for his care. 

They already have at least one person looking to adopt him when he is well enough.



Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:16:38 -0700

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape

The suspect in the disappearance of a University of Virginia student was charged Monday with abducting and raping a woman in suburban Washington, D.C., in 2005.

The indictment against Jesse L. Matthew Jr. was handed up by a Circuit Court grand jury in Fairfax County and includes a charge of attempted capital murder.

Matthew, 32, is being held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on a charge related to the Sept. 13 disappearance of Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old from northern Virginia.

At a news conference Monday, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh declined to discuss any details of the case, but did say the victim is cooperating. Police had previously said that on Sept. 24, 2005, a 26-year-old woman was walking home from the grocery store about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, when her assailant grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area behind some townhomes, and sexually assaulted her.

The man fled the area when he was startled by a passerby, police said.

Morrogh said he will seek a bench warrant later this week requesting that Matthew be brought to Fairfax for an initial appearance, and he expected that to be granted. But no court date has been set. Morrogh said he was not sure whether Matthew would be tried first in Charlottesville or in Fairfax.

"I'm willing to go first, last or whenever," Morrogh said.

Law enforcement officials who have been searching for Graham found human remains over the weekend and they were taken to the Virginia Medical Examiner's office in Richmond. A spokesman in the office could not say Monday when the results of the forensic examination would be completed.

One of the officials who made the discovery said the remains were found just as he and his team were about to move on to another site.

"We were on our way back to our vehicle and I just decided to keep going," said Sgt. Dale Terry of the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department. "So we swept a different area and luckily we just came upon what we came upon. ... Divine intervention is the only thing I can think of."

Matthew's attorney has repeatedly refused to discuss his client, and a message on his law office telephone on Monday said he was not taking questions in the case.

Monday, state and local law enforcement officials continued to search an area about 12 miles southwest of the Charlottesville campus of U.Va. where the remains were found on Saturday after an extensive search in the city of 40,000 and in Albemarle County.

Police let Graham's parents know about the discovery before they publicly released the information. They are looking for clues and evidence in a heavily wooded area that is dotted with farms.

Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. He is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The remains were discovered roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished in 2009. Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Harrington's killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to the 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia. He has not been charged in the Harrington killing.

As for the link between the Graham case and the Fairfax case, Morrogh would only say that "indirectly, that case was of value to the department in conducting its investigation" but declined further comment.

Fairfax City Police Chief Carl Pardiny credited his investigators with their work on the case, going back to 2005.

"We never gave up, not over nine years," Pardiny said.

Graham hasn't been seen since after a night out with friends. She had met friends at a restaurant for dinner before stopping by two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops. On Sunday, the area was buzzing with people having brunch at outdoor cafes on a brisk, sunny day. Graham's disappearance and the discovery of human remains was a frequent topic of conversation.

"Everybody was rattled. Everybody knew it was coming, but you still hope for the best. As much as you can prepare for it, you can never prepare for it," said Claire Meyers, a University of Virginia nursing student who has friends who knew Graham and Matthew.

Matthew was an operating room technician at the university's hospital, where Meyers works as a patient care assistant.

Albemarle County resident Bill Gnas, a retiree who lives a few miles from where the remains were found, said he suspected the worst.

"Truly, I was saddened by it. After three or four days you had to anticipate it was going to be another Harrington event where they were going to find the body, and the only thing you could hope for at that point was that there be some closure for the parents that it was in fact discovered," he said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:48:11 -0700

Man charged with murder for shooting outside nightclub

A man has been charged with murder for a shooting earlier this month outside a downtown Oakland nightclub, prosecutors said Monday.

Billy Shaffer Jr., 30, is accused of shooting and killing 27-year-old Connie Sowels III during a robbery outside of the Bella Ultra Lounge at 11th and Clay streets at about 1:18 a.m. on Oct. 1, according to prosecutors.

Police said the two got into an altercation before the shooting. Sowels was taken to Highland Hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Shaffer has also been charged with possessing a firearm as a felon because of a 2010 conviction for possessing a gun he was not registered to own in Sacramento County, prosecutors said.

Shaffer was arrested last Monday after being pulled over for traffic violations. He had a warrant out for his arrest and is currently being held without bail in Glenn Dyer Jail in Oakland, according to jail records.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:17:22 -0700

Consumer advisory: Defective airbags

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. 

The NHTSA released the following list:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
2006 – Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 – 2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 – Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 – Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:56:05 -0700

If no checks, more Ebola cases might leave Africa

A new study underscores the potential danger of airplane passengers infected with Ebola leaving West Africa: If there were no exit screening in place, researchers estimate that three people with the disease might fly out of the region each month.

The hardest-hit West African nations have been checking passengers since summer, but the new work is a reminder of how much easier it could be for the virus to travel outside the outbreak region if those measures weren't in place — and that screening can't catch every case.

Since the Ebola outbreak was first identified in March, there have been only two known exported cases involving flights, one before and one after screening began in Liberia.

A Liberian-American flew to Nigeria in July and sparked a small outbreak there, which has since been contained. The second man, Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, passed a screening when he left for the U.S. last month; he didn't have a fever or symptoms until days after arriving in Dallas.

For the study, researchers used international flight data and Ebola case tallies to calculate that — without screening — three infected people a month could fly out of the region. They noted that screening isn't foolproof: It can take up to three weeks for people exposed to Ebola to develop symptoms, so it is likely some cases will slip through.

The out-of-control epidemic has killed an estimated 4,500 people.

"As the outbreak grows, we will be seeing more international exportations of Ebola," said Dr. Kamran Kahn of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, the study's senior author.

He added that disaster could strike if people with Ebola fly to less developed countries. "What might happen if cases were to wind up in a slum in Nairobi or Mumbai?"

Kahn noted that there were few flights from the West Africa nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia even before the outbreak. He and his colleagues calculated that countries most at risk of getting imported Ebola cases are the nearby Ghana and Senegal, followed by Britain and France.

The U.S. was significantly further down the list, followed by India, Kenya and Germany. The study was published online Monday in the journal Lancet.

"There are more and more cases of Ebola every week so the risk of exportation is also increasing every week," said Benjamin Cowling of the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, who co-authored a commentary.

"Maybe the one case exported to Texas was just bad luck. Or maybe there are more cases traveling as we speak," he said.

U.S. health officials earlier this month said airport screening in West Africa had stopped 77 people from boarding planes, none with Ebola but some had malaria.

Some American lawmakers have called for a ban on travelers from West Africa. At a European Union meeting on Monday, foreign ministers scrapped the idea of a ban, reasoning people from West Africa would simply go elsewhere en route to Europe. In the meantime, the U.S. and other countries are now checking travelers from West Africa.

Health officials have repeatedly said the only way to stop exported cases is to stop the epidemic in West Africa.

"As long as Ebola continues to spread in Africa, we can't make the risk zero here," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:40:06 -0700

Apple reports record 39.3 million iPhone sales

Excitement for Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models drove sales of a record 39.3 million iPhones in the last quarter, boosting the company's earnings and revenue well above expectations.

All told, the company sold $23.7 billion worth of iPhones, beating the $21.5 billion in sales expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Apple's signature smartphones are the company's biggest source of revenue and profit.

"We had a really, really good quarter," Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told The Associated Press. He also credited strong demand for the company's Mac computers and its online app store.

But the company didn't do as well with its iPad tablets. Apple said it sold 13 percent fewer iPad tablets than it did a year ago. That follows an industry-wide decline in tablet sales. Still, the company reported even lower iPad sales than analysts had expected.

Maestri said Apple is counting on interest in new models coming out this week and a partnership with IBM, which will create new tablet software for business users, to help shore up tablet sales in the coming months.

Apple's profit rose more than 12 percent for the three months that ended Sept. 27 to $8.47 billion. Total sales also climbed over 12 percent year-over-year, to $42.12 billion.

The Cupertino, California, company issued a strong forecast for the upcoming holiday shopping season as well. The company said it expects total revenue, from all products, of between $63.5 billion and $66.5 billion during the quarter that ends in December. That suggests the company will likely beat the expectations of analysts, who were forecasting $63.7 billion, according to FactSet.

Apple's shares have surged more than 35 percent this year, when adjusted for a seven-to-one stock split that occurred in June. The stock is off slightly since hitting an all-time adjusted high of $103.30 last month.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:22:39 -0700

Family shocked after texting dead grandmother, getting a response

The phone was placed in the coffin of 59-Year-old Lesley Emerson because she loved texting her family members.

Cancer took Lesley in 2011 but her granddaughter Sheri sent messages to the phone from time to time “as a way of coping.”

The Shields Gazette reports Sheri was stopped in her tracks last week when she received a response.

“I’m watching over you, you’ll get through this, you’ll be all right,” the message said.

Sheri admitted to being rattled by the situation.

“Obviously we know that nan wasn’t ever going to reply to our texts," she said. “You can imagine what I was thinking seeing a message flash up from her.”

More popular and trending stories

Sheri’s uncle called the number and, sure enough, someone answered.

The man on the other end said he thought the messages he had been getting were jokes, so he decided to send something back.

The family isn’t mad at the guy, but they are peeved at their cell provider.

They said they paid the company, Q2, to retire Lesley’s number but instead it was given to another customer.

The Daily Mail reports Q2 is trying to get the number back so the family won’t have to go through this again.

More here.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:13:31 -0700

8-year-old with Down syndrome scores TD in high school game

Owen White plays wide receiver for the freshman football team at  Rhinelander High School in Wisconsin. His younger brother, Gabe, is the squad's honorary captain.

He also has Down syndrome.

This relationship on Friday night provided one of the best moments of the football season on any level.

"I wanted to make a special moment for him. [He's a] special kid. All you have to do is hang out with him for 30 seconds and you see that," coach Mark Apfel told WJFW.

So with the game over, the stage was set.

"They kicked it off, and it went over his head so I hit it on the ground," Owen White said.

"I caught it, and then I blocked it, and then ran to coach," Gabe said.

"And he took off for the end zone, it was pretty special," Owen White said.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:38:17 -0700

Denver police warn parents of pot-spiked candy this Halloween

Colorado parents are being told to be on the lookout this Halloween for marijuana-laced candy, NBC News reported.

The Facebook page of the Denver Police Department is warning that mass-produced candy can by sprayed with hash oil, and once the spray dries, there is no way to tell that the candy has been infused.

The station reported that the Denver PD Facebook page features Patrick Johnson, owner of marijuana shop Urban Dispensary. In the film, Johnson urges parents to inspect any candy their children bring home after trick-or-treating on Halloween to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.

According to Children’s Hospital Colorado, accidental exposures of marijuana products to children in Colorado have increased in the past three years, based on the rate of emergency department visits and admissions at the hospital

“Since 2005, states that allow some form of legal marijuana have seen a 30 percent annual increase in calls to poison control centers for marijuana ingestion, relative to a 1 percent increase in non-legal states,” the hospital states on its website.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:32:36 -0700

Missing WWII airman to be buried in Oakland

A World War II airman whose remains were found more than 60 years after he was shot down over Germany is set to be buried in Oakland.

William "Billy" Parker Cook will be laid to rest with full military honors near other family members at Mountain View Cemetery on Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (

Cook and a five-man crew were on a mission to take out a critical rail bridge in Germany when their plane came under fire and went down in December 1944, according to the Department of Defense.

Aviation researchers found the crash site near Allmuthen, Belgium in 2006. A dig in 2012 and 2013 led to the discovery of bone fragments and clothing belonging to Cook.

"This is something that came out of the blue," said Bruce Cook, 62, of Newport Beach, Billy Cook's nephew and closest living relative. "It's something I hadn't thought about in years. I'm just glad I'm still around to arrange the final resting place."

Billy Cook lived in Alameda after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley and getting married. He enlisted in the Army Air Forces and rose to the rank of 1st lieutenant, flying missions in a twin-engine B-26G Marauder called "Hunsucker," according to the Chronicle.

He was 27 when his plane was shot down.

Bruce Cook said he visited his uncle's home in Alameda in the early 2000s and met with Billy Cook's widow, Jean Swanson, who has since died.

"This man perished before I was born," said Bruce Cook, whose middle names, William Parker, come from his uncle. "But I'm named after him, and I spent my childhood hearing about him. He's certainly close in my psyche."

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:25:23 -0700

Barbecue chef one of three weekend homicide victims in Oakland

A man shot and killed in North Oakland on Sunday evening was wrapping up a day of selling barbecue with his fiancée.

Friends and family mourned the loss of Vallejo barbecue chef Eric "Trill" Harvis, 41, on Facebook Monday after he was gunned down in the 800 block of 46th Street at about 7:20 p.m. Sunday, according to police.

Harvis’ fiancée, who didn’t want to be identified, said they had packed up their cooking utensils and were leaving to go home when the shooting occurred. She was in the driver’s seat of her truck and Harvis was getting into the passenger side when he was approached, and shot.

Harvis’ fiancée tells KTVU the shooter did not demand money, and he didn’t take anything from them. She told KTVU she doesn’t know why anyone would want to hurt him.  

She said the shooter was on foot and got into a car after the shooting.

Harvis had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later. Police have not released any information about a possible motive or suspect in the shooting.

Harvis had been selling barbecue in a 46th Street driveway in his old North Oakland neighborhood for several weekends. He advertised on Instagram before arriving Saturdays and Sundays.

Dinner plates started at $10 each and he cooked a variety of dishes, including smoked ribs, hot links, greens, potatoes, beans and cake.

Harvis had an adult daughter who lives in Sacramento whom he spoke to daily. He also had a 16-year-old son.

Harvis’ fiancée said Sunday was a good day with family and friends coming out to support their new business until the shooting. “They will pay. Justice will be served and I’m praying on that,” she said.

Dozens of friends and family expressed their grief over his loss on social media Monday.

"He wanted to continue his get-togethers with friends and family so we can take time to forget about our daily lives and just come together and have a good time with love and food he cooked," one poster wrote.

Harvis' death was one of three in a bloody weekend in Oakland.

A man was found with multiple stab wounds inside a West Oakland home in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday.

Earlier in the weekend, a male victim was found fatally shot in the 800 block of Mead Avenue at 2:16 a.m. Saturday.

Police have released few details about the killings and have announced no arrests.

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:05:35 -0700

One dead, others injured in San Francisco pedestrian accidents

A deadly crash in San Francisco Monday morning killed an 87-year old pedestrian.

Louis Van Velzen was crossing the street in front of his house at Sloat Boulevard and 43rd Avenue before 7 a.m. to catch the 18-Sloat bus to the gym, something Van Velzen's wife and daughter said he did three times a week.

"We're, like, both in shock right now. Can't believe it," Van Velzen's wife, Petronella, said. "He had this very weak pulse, but then he just passed away. They just couldn't save him."

From Sunday night to Monday morning, there were three separate crashes involving four pedestrians in San Francisco.

It's unclear if Van Velzen was in or near the crosswalk when he was hit. He is the 13th pedestrian to be hit and killed in the city this year. "We've got to pay more attention," explained Police Chief Greg Suhr. "It's just really busy right now."

Police stepped up enforcement of crosswalks in the area of the deadly collision, pulling over drivers who didn't stop for pedestrians.

Chief Suhr said enforcement is up more than 50 percent, but that's just one piece of making streets safer. "We tell the little kids not only look both ways, but make eye contact with driver," Suhr said. "So you don't want to assert yourself when you could actually be hit by a car. Better to have the driver make their way through and you be safe."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has made safe streets a priority in his office, urging voters to approve Measure A, which would set aside $250 million to resign streets.

"It's making sure there's a bike lane and there's bi-cultural signage," Lee said. "Slowing down traffic, particularly where there's elderly, where there's schools. We've got to slow traffic down."

The driver in Monday's deadly crash stopped and is cooperating with police.

Van Velzen's wife said something needs to be done to keep pedestrians safe. "It's not the last one. There will be another one after my husband, that's for sure."

Published: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:38 -0700