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'It's burning down the city': Fires linked to fireworks erupt across SF, Bay Area

'It's burning down the city': Fires linked to fireworks erupt across SF, Bay Area

Grass fires — many linked to illegal Fourth of July fireworks — flared across the Bay Area on Saturday night, straining firefighter resources and leading authorities to beg on social media for the explosions to stop.San Francisco saw at least 100 fires between 3 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Saturday. At dusk, a blaze chewed through 4 acres at McLaren Park, and crews scrambled to fight another fire at 50 Cargo Way in Hunters Point. The fire department tweeted about roughly 15 blazes in a single hour.Across the bay in Contra Costa County firefighters responded to 50 fires between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m....

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Rachel Swan
6h ago
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AC Transit could cut 30% of bus service in East Bay as revenue sinks

AC Transit could cut 30% of bus service in East Bay as revenue sinks

Photo: Michael Short / Special to The Chronicle 2019As San Francisco braces for a wholesale bus system, AC Transit is contemplating similar cuts in the East Bay.A new proposal would eliminate a dozen lines that cross through Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including the popular 72 bus that runs on San Pablo Ave. and the 67 bus that carries people to Tilden Park. Other lines could be shortened or served by fewer buses.Between 15 to 30 percent of service could be slashed, a drastic measure to staunch financial wounds caused by the coronavirus. Once shelter-in-place orders took effect, the...

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10h ago
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MoveOn endorses Joe Biden, a sign that progressives are embracing him

MoveOn endorses Joe Biden, a sign that progressives are embracing him

Photo: Susan Walsh / Associated Press 2019The influential online liberal organization MoveOn endorsed Joe Biden for president Wednesday, a sign that to his candidacy.Biden won the support of 82% of MoveOn members, which counts 13 million people on its mailing list. He is the fourth presidential candidate that the organization has endorsed in its 20-year history, after Barack Obama (twice) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. MoveOn declined to reveal how many members voted.“MoveOn’s millions of members are ready to mobilize together in support of Joe Biden, working to turn...

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4d ago
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Why coronavirus cases are rising but deaths are not, for now

Why coronavirus cases are rising but deaths are not, for now

The number of new coronavirus cases exploded in California last week while the death toll held steady, prompting predictions that the low body count, instead of a bright spot, might represent the calm before an ever-growing storm.A record number of new coronavirus cases were recorded in the Bay Area, with 430 people hospitalized Tuesday, bringing the total number of hospitalizations to 1,197 since Saturday, the highest three-day total in a month.There were 5,355 COVID-19 patients in the hospital in California on Thursday, the highest number since Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed the shutdown order...

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18h ago
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Bay Area doctors explain the COVID-19 treatments they're using now

Bay Area doctors explain the COVID-19 treatments they're using now

Photo: Matthew Horwood / Getty ImagesThere is no cure or vaccine yet for COVID-19, but Bay Area doctors now have months of experience treating the illness, using what they’ve learned from similar respiratory diseases while absorbing new research and trying out different drugs to help people heal.These front-line health professionals say the shelter-in-place orders put in place back in March bought them valuable time to learn how to treat the disease before seeing more cases.“We’re writing history as we’re living it, but we do anchor in what we do know,” said Dr. Erica Farrand, a...

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1d ago
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Leland Yee, convicted in 2015 corruption scandal, released from federal prison

Leland Yee, convicted in 2015 corruption scandal, released from federal prison

Photo: Paul Chinn / The ChronicleFormer California senator Leland Yee was released from federal prison on Friday after serving a five-year sentence for a corruption scandal, officials said.Yee, 71, was released from the Federal Correctional Institution, Big Spring, in Texas, according to a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.Yee, a Democrat who represented San Francisco, to racketeering charges. He admitted to taking bribes and trafficking guns from the Philippines.During a 26-year career, the politician served on the San Francisco school board and California Assembly and Senate....

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5d ago
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Will Bernie Sanders' backers get behind Biden? Key endorsement vote will be a sign

Will Bernie Sanders' backers get behind Biden? Key endorsement vote will be a sign

Photo: JoeBiden.comJoe Biden will find out Thursday if he wins the endorsement of the liberal online hub MoveOn, a sign — if he gets it — that he is inching closer to winning over progressive voters who remain skeptical about him.It’s not a given that Biden will receive the two-thirds vote he needs to win the backing of MoveOn, which has 13 million people on its mailing list. Four years ago, MoveOn chose to launch a “United Against Hate” campaign against Donald Trump rather than ask its members to endorse Hillary Clinton, after more than three-fourths of them voted to back Sen. Bernie...

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4d ago
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SF's 49% surge in hospitalizations puts city on high alert

SF's 49% surge in hospitalizations puts city on high alert

On a day that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signaled additional restrictions for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, the city of San Francisco announced an alarming rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations that is putting new strain on an anxious health care system.Among other major developments Tuesday, the state recorded 7,820 new cases — its second highest tally in a 24-hour period — and surpassed 6,000 deaths from the coronavirus; New York, New Jersey and Connecticut imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from California; and the nation’s top infectious disease official warned the U.S....

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Catherine Ho
4d ago
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California extends unemployment benefits by 7 more weeks

California extends unemployment benefits by 7 more weeks

Photo: Gabrielle Lurie / The ChronicleJobless Californians could get up to seven additional weeks of unemployment benefits, bringing the maximum duration to 59 weeks for those on regular state unemployment and 46 weeks for those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to an Employment Development Department Wednesday.The extended benefits are part of a program known as Federal-State Extended Duration benefits; the EDD calls it Fed-Ed. It becomes available when a state experiences high or prolonged periods of unemployment. California previously became eligible for 13 weeks of...

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3d ago
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San Francisco police to stop releasing suspect mug shots in effort to prevent racial bias

San Francisco police to stop releasing suspect mug shots in effort to prevent racial bias

Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle 2018Police in San Francisco will stop releasing mug shots of most people who have been arrested, a change that Chief Bill Scott described as a groundbreaking attempt to curb implicit bias in policing.The publication of mug shots on social media or in the news “creates an illusory correlation for viewers that fosters racial bias and vastly overstates the propensity of Black and brown men to engage in criminal behavior,” Scott said Wednesday as he issued the directive.Mug shots have been at the center of controversies in recent years — particularly when...

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Alejandro Serrano
3d ago
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The Bay Area's tiki bars are just another example of the Uncle Ben's problem

The Bay Area's tiki bars are just another example of the Uncle Ben's problem

Photo: Yalonda M. James / The ChronicleWhenever I walk down the aisles at Safeway or Target and witness non-Black people products, Uncle Ben’s rice or even the occasional box of Cream of Wheat — brands that have long had African American faces as logos — I think about shopping with my grandfather as a kid. Each time he bought one of these containers, he would shake his head before putting it in his cart.I now understand why.My grandfather, who is in his mid-80s, knew something it would take me about two decades to figure out: Just because these brands had Black faces on the boxes didn’t...

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4d ago
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SF cleans up Tenderloin - dramatic, 65% drop-off in homeless tent camps

SF cleans up Tenderloin - dramatic, 65% drop-off in homeless tent camps

The Tenderloin looks better than it has in months, now that the city has removed 65% of the hundreds of tents that had covered the troubled neighborhood since the coronavirus pandemic clamped down on San Francisco in March.The first phase of reducing the appalling crush of tent camps and moving their homeless occupants indoors ends Friday, city officials reported. It’s been one of the most intensive street-camp cleanups in city history.The all-out campaign by the city’s Healthy Streets Operations Center and city emergency workers began June 10, and resulted in 497 homeless people being...

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2d ago
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SF is piling tax hikes on the ballot. Will voters embrace them in a recession?

SF is piling tax hikes on the ballot. Will voters embrace them in a recession?

San Francisco voters could be weighing as many as five tax hike measures this fall, in what will be a test of how the coronavirus-fueled recession influences attitudes on economic growth and whether the city’s big businesses are paying their fair share.Four of the five tax-increase proposals — which have been placed on the November ballot but could still be withdrawn up until the end of July — were rooted in the pre-COVID days of 2019 when the city was flush with cash, the hotels were packed with business travelers, unemployment was about 2% and the growth of tech companies seemed...

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6d ago
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Muni expects to lose the majority of its bus lines permanently as financial devastation mounts

Muni expects to lose the majority of its bus lines permanently as financial devastation mounts

San Francisco, a city that once packed 68 crowded bus lines into its tight streets, stands to lose most of them as the pandemic sinks its transit budget and steers riders into cars.Up to 40 of the bus lines that San Francisco cut at the beginning of the pandemic are not coming back unless the city finds a new revenue spigot, transportation chief Jeffrey Tumlin said this week. Just about every aspect of San Francisco’s transportation future looks grim.Elbow-to-elbow transit has long been a feature of life in San Francisco. Yet the daily bustle ended with COVID-19, which closed schools and...

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3d ago
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Road trip checklist: How to prep for California car travel in the coronavirus pandemic

Road trip checklist: How to prep for California car travel in the coronavirus pandemic

It’s officially summer, and many Bay Area residents may be itching to get out of sheltering in place and hit the road. But being in a pandemic adds another layer of planning and preparation for a road trip.Dr. Jeanne Noble, director of COVID response for the UCSF Emergency Department, traveled recently to the Navajo reservation in Gallup, N.M., to help with COVID-19 patient care and had to think about ways to stay safe in unfamiliar places.“The most important thing … is not to expose yourself to a large number of other people, especially if you get within a few feet of them and not everyone...

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Kellie Hwang
Jun 20
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Newsom orders new shutdown of restaurants, other indoor business in 19 California counties

Newsom orders new shutdown of restaurants, other indoor business in 19 California counties

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 19 counties with surging coronavirus outbreaks to close indoor restaurants, wineries, movie theaters and other venues Wednesday, saying California must act to keep the pandemic from spiraling out of control.Newsom said the state has directed counties on its “watch list” — those with spiking numbers of new cases and hospitalizations — to reimpose parts of stay-at-home orders that had been lifted starting in May, when California appeared to have flattened the curve of infections. His directive came as the state warned that the virus could spread from...

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4d ago
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'Least of my worries': Minimum wage hikes in Bay Area add to costs, could boost spending

'Least of my worries': Minimum wage hikes in Bay Area add to costs, could boost spending

The coronavirus pandemic has torn the economy down, but across the Bay Area, the hourly minimum wage is still going up.Several cities are sticking with plans to raise the hourly wage floor Wednesday. Across much of the Bay Area, the local minimum wage is higher than California’s, which is to $15 an hour by 2023.Some business owners said the increases bite into their cash flow as they are still reeling from the economic effects of the pandemic. Others said it is the least of their worries in the face of plummeting sales.“The central problem businesses are facing right now is they need more...

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4d ago
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Video: 81-year-old woman violently slammed in brazen daylight robbery near SF's Diamond Heights

Video: 81-year-old woman violently slammed in brazen daylight robbery near SF's Diamond Heights

Photo: San Francisco Police Officers Association / RingSan Francisco police are searching for a man caught on video slamming an elderly woman to the ground and wrestling a purse from her hands during a brazen gunpoint robbery Monday afternoon.The 81-year-old woman told authorities the suspect appeared to be 20 to 30 years old and weighed about 230 pounds, according to the San Francisco Police Officers Association, which posted the surveillance video online Tuesday. The suspect’s car was believed to be a silver Jeep Cherokee.The robbery occurred around 4:40 p.m. in the area of 28th and...

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5d ago
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Measure raising Bay Area bridge tolls was legal, appeals court rules

Measure raising Bay Area bridge tolls was legal, appeals court rules

Photo: Liz Hafalia / The ChronicleA toll increase for seven Bay Area bridges, on the local ballot in 2018 to fund projects to increase mass transit and reduce traffic congestion, was legally approved by 55% of the voters and did not require the two-thirds majority needed for a tax increase, a state appeals court ruled Monday.Regional Measure 3 was designed to raise $4.5 billion to improve and increase bus, ferry, BART and commuter rail service. The first $1 toll increase took effect in January 2019 on the Bay Bridge and the San Mateo-Hayward, Richmond-San Rafael, Dumbarton, Carquinez,...

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5d ago
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Stanford's plan for fall quarter: Most classes online, half the students on campus

Stanford's plan for fall quarter: Most classes online, half the students on campus

Stanford freshmen will have an extraordinary introduction to college in the 2020-21 academic year, spending the fall quarter on campus and not returning until the summer quarter begins about seven months later.That’s one notable element of Monday’s announcement, in which school officials revealed more details of their effort to resume in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Stanford will stagger student attendance, to limit the on-campus population and allow for physical distancing.Even then, school officials expect “the vast majority” of courses to be , according to Monday’s...

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5d ago
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It started with Mohammed Nuru. Who knows where SF City Hall corruption investigation will end?

It started with Mohammed Nuru. Who knows where SF City Hall corruption investigation will end?

Photo: Jeff Chiu / Associated PressThe federal investigation into corruption at San Francisco City Hall appears to be widening, and the U.S. attorney looking into the malfeasance is upping his game by adding investigators and teaming up with other other agencies to beef up the hunt.“What we are finding in our City Hall corruption investigation is that one case leads to another,” U.S. Attorney David Anderson said in a recent interview.In addition to the more than six prosecutors and one auditor already assigned to the case, Anderson is teaming up with more than a dozen special agents from...

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Jun 28
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Contrary to BET Awards, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is very much alive

Contrary to BET Awards, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is very much alive

Photo: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle 2019The BET Awards on Sunday evening included former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in an “In Memoriam” tribute segment to people who died in the last year.Just one problem: He’s very much alive.Brown, 86, was surprised to field a flood of calls from friends and family members checking on his well-being.“I couldn’t figure out why the phone was all lit up,” Brown said Sunday night. “Finally, my niece called and she was pissed off — she said, ‘If you’re going to die, you’re supposed to tell me.’”Screenshots of the broadcast shared over social media...

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6d ago
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Bay Area contact tracing shows early signs of success

Bay Area contact tracing shows early signs of success

Photo: Paul Chinn / The ChronicleThe Bay Area’s efforts to track coronavirus cases and prevent the spread of disease are showing early signs of success, although plans to directly contact a vast majority of people who tested positive still face daunting challenges.Many local counties are approaching their goal of contacting 90% of the region’s positive cases, while others are still scrambling to ramp up their contact-tracing operations. Despite those obstacles, the Bay Area’s early progress is encouraging, even as coronavirus cases spike across the state.The relatively high rates of contact...

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6d ago
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SF gets state OK to reopen hair salons, outdoor bars, zoo

SF gets state OK to reopen hair salons, outdoor bars, zoo

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The ChronicleSan Franciscans may be able to get a haircut, tattoo, manicure and tour an outdoor museum as soon as Monday.The California Department of Public Health on Thursday approved San Francisco’s request for more flexibility to begin reopening certain parts of the economy. With the approval, S, barber shops, nail salons, massage establishments, tattoo studios, outdoor bars, outdoor museums and zoo.“We plan to move up parts of our Phase 2C reopening to include hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, massage establishments tattoo studios, outdoor bars,...

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Jun 26
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Former Silicon Valley venture fund manager hit with federal fraud charges

Former Silicon Valley venture fund manager hit with federal fraud charges

Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle 2015A tech venture capitalist’s financial troubles spilled over into federal criminal court Friday with the unsealing of felony fraud charges against the founder of Rothenberg Ventures Management Company, Michael Rothenberg.Prosecutors charged Rothenberg, 36, of San Francisco with 23 fraud offenses, alleging he set out to mislead investors and banks, illegally using their cash for his personal gain.If convicted, Rothenberg could face decades in prison. He did not respond to an emailed request for comment.Rothenberg raised four annual funds between 2013 and...

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Jun 28
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