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Police arrest man after carjacking at gunpoint in Berkeley

Berkeley police arrested 26-year-old Benny Williams of Oakland after investigators say he was connected to not one, but two stolen vehicles, and a carjacking at gunpoint Sunday evening.

Officers caught the suspected carjacker after he slammed a stolen Prius into an overpass while speeding eastbound on Ashby Avenue. “Officers estimated approximately 65-70 miles per hour,” said Lt. Dave Frankel of the speeds at the time of the collision.

Officers arrested Williams after they say he ran from the wreckage.

“He tried to run from the officers, but he was apprehended moments later,” said Lt. Frankel.

The chase started before five in the evening when investigators say Williams ditched a stolen Audi then held up a woman at the Sea Breeze Market along West Frontage Road and University Avenue.

“I don’t know why he chose to leave it and go for a Prius,” said Lt. Frankel, who added that the Audi was registered in Piedmont and reported stolen in Oakland.

The victim, while physically unharmed during the theft, was clearly emotional after being held-up at gunpoint.

“We did recover a loaded firearm in the vehicle,” confirmed Lt. Frankel.

Williams was booked into the Berkeley Jail for charges related to the carjacking, evading police, and the firearm.

Berkeley investigators say they are coordinating their investigation with Oakland Police because the first vehicle was stolen in that city. 

 

 

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 22:51:41 -0700

Oakland police investigate 2 Sunday night homicides

Police in Oakland are investigating two homicides that happened Sunday evening within hours of each other.

The first happened at 46th and Market streets around 7:20 p.m.

Police say a man, who was shot multiple times, was found on the street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say the shooter is thought to be male, but they are not releasing additional details and no arrests have been made.

The second homicide happened inside a home on Chestnut Street near 14th Street. Police say they found a man stabbed to death inside a home.

A person called police after entering the home and finding the victim's body.

At this point, additional details have not been released.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 22:31:51 -0700

Caltrans removes steel plates on Bay Bridge after commute chaos

Caltrans has removed the giant steel plates that caused major traffic backups going across the Bay Bridge Friday.

Caltrans is looking for a new way to repair the expansion joints on the Bay Bridge after the work caused major traffic delays Friday.

Caltrans spokesman, Bob Haus, said crews had discovered cracks near the bridge's expansion joints. The joints act as a way to accommodate normal expansion and contraction due to weather conditions.

The repair usually means bolting down large steel plates on the road to hold the bridge together while crews work on the joints. Crews installed several steel plates Wednesday and Thursday nights, and by Friday morning the commute melted down. The traffic jam stretched all the way back to the maze, and drivers said crossing the bridge took them an hour.

"The traffic backups really were horrendous," said Haus. "We wanted to see if we could find some way to do this without causing such terrible backups."

Over the weekend crews removed the steel plates, and Caltrans will now take Monday to consider its next move. Caltrans says it doesn't want to disrupt the commute, but it still needs to work on the expansion joints.

"It's still an issue, yeah. We still have the cracking in the deck section, right next to the expansion joints," said Haus. "So, that's what we have to look at tomorrow."

Some commuters like Jamil West from Oakland watched the traffic jam unfold, and took an alternate route to work. "The commute, it was messed up," said West. "You know, I come back and forth from Oakland, from time to time, and when I heard about the commute I actually took the San Mateo bridge."

Caltrans said by Saturday morning the plates had been removed, and West, like many commuters is hoping for a smooth trip into San Francisco. "Yeah, I'm happy to hear about that. Actually I went over the bridge today," said West. "I didn't really feel the bumps, so I think they're up now."

At this point there's no word on when Caltrans will resume the repair work.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 21:57:45 -0700

3 Ohio residents now quarantined after Ebola nurse visit

Two more people have been quarantined in northeast Ohio following the visit by a Dallas nurse who tested positive for Ebola, raising the total here to three following the issuance of new monitoring guidelines by the state.

None of the three quarantined in Ohio have exhibited any Ebola-like symptoms, a Summit County health department representative said Sunday.

Previously, only Amber Joy Vinson's stepfather had been quarantined in his home in suburban Akron. One of the newly quarantined individuals is in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, the other is in Summit County.

No details were released on the possible contact the two new additions to the quarantine list had with Vinson.

Gov. John Kasich ordered the new guidelines, which include travel restrictions, on Saturday. A state health official said the guidelines are meant to remove any chance of Ebola spreading.

The 29-year-old Vinson was diagnosed last week with Ebola after caring for a man at a Dallas hospital who died from the disease. Vinson flew from Dallas to Cleveland on Oct. 10 to prepare for her wedding and flew back Oct. 13.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids. Someone who is infected does not become contagious until they show symptoms of the disease. Health officials have said Vinson exhibited some symptoms while in Ohio.

There are now 153 people being monitored in Ohio because of contact or potential contact with Vinson. They include people with whom Vinson had direct contact, those who visited the same Akron bridal shop where her bridesmaids tried on dresses on Oct. 11 and those who were passengers on the same flights.

Vinson is being cared for at a specialized unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

A state health report issued Sunday showed there were 22 people in Ohio whose temperature is being taken twice a day by health professionals and have restrictions that include no commercial travel. Forty-eight people are reporting their temperatures twice daily and have international travel restrictions. Fifty-two people are supposed to monitor their temperatures twice a day but don't have to report unless there is a change. The remaining 28 are listed as "pending."

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 21:35:10 -0700

2 injured in hit-and-run at downtown SF intersection

Two people were injured in a hit-and-run collision in downtown San Francisco Sunday evening, police said.

Officers responded to a report of a hit-and-run collision at Mason and Turk streets, north of Market Street, around 6:30 p.m.

A 50-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man, were hit by a light-colored BMW that left the scene.

Both people were transported to San Francisco General Hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening.

The driver fled west on Mason Street and remains at large, police said.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 20:56:52 -0700

Giants head to Kansas City for World Series as Orange October continues

The San Francisco Giants reported to AT&T Park Sunday to board a bus for the airport. They are Kansas City bound.

"We're beyond thrilled," Giants fan, Janet Kunze said smiling. Her husband, John, said they'll be going to the home games next week, but won't go to Kansas City. "No, no, no! Only home, Kunze said emphatically. "I could never go there. That's enemy territory!"

A check of tickets on StubHub showed tickets to games in K.C. starting at $288. That's a bargain compared to Giants home game World Series prices. StubHub shows those are going for as much as $625 right now.

The Dugout at AT&T Park is doing brisk World Series gear business, even among non-Giants fans.  

"Twins and Brewers fans, but we're here," Minnesotan Terry Kieffer declared while holding up a Giants adult sweatsuit onesie. Kieffer used to play AA ball for St. Louis. "Kind of a diehard St. Louis fan too," he said.

"I have to go home to my St. Louis buddies, so I have to hide a shirt I'm going to give to my son that's gonna say 'San Francisco' on it!"

On Sunday afternoon, in the shadow of AT&T Park, kids played baseball at the Junior Giants Field. Both the fielding and hitting teams sported Giants gear.

The roles were a little reversed. A boy wearing a "Posey" jersey pitched and another with "Lincicum" on his back played catcher. "Going to the World Series, that is a whole different thing," 12-year old Rowan said right before hitting a grand slam home run.

Fans are anxious to start the series. "We have no business being here but here we are," Kunze said. "Just like the last two times. It's awesome!"

You can catch all the games on KTVU. The Giants and Royals get underway Tuesday in Kansas City just after 5 p.m. Tuesday. Game 2 is Wednesday in K.C., then Friday the series heads home to AT&T Park for game 3.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 19:55:49 -0700

Driver killed in solo Marin County crash

A person was killed in a solo vehicle crash near Novato Sunday morning, Novato police said.

Novato police officers and firefighters responded to a report of a car crash in the 800 block of Atherton Avenue, east of U.S. Highway 101, around 8:30 a.m.

The driver was found dead inside the car and was the sole occupant, police said.

It appears the driver drove off the roadway and crashed into a tree, according to police.

The Marin County coroner's office was called to the scene and the driver's identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 19:26:36 -0700

Apple launches new way to pay Monday

It could be a game changer and could make credit cards obsolete down the road.

On Monday, Apple will launch Apple Pay which is a new, and some experts say, better way to pay with your smartphone without fumbling through your wallet. It can't be used with older versions of iPhones, only on the new iPhone 6 and newer versions of iPads.

Many people heading into the Apple store in Los Gatos Sunday knew very little about Apple Pay or how it worked. Apple announced the program last Thursday touting it as a more convenient way to pay.

Users can put their credit card information in the iPhone’s Passbook app, go to any store that accepts Apple Pay, point their phone at the reader. It then scans it and users are good to go.

According to Rob Enderle, principal analyst of technology research firm Enderle Group, it's more secure than credit cards.

“You are going to recognize you've lost your phone a lot more quickly if you lost a credit card,” said Enderle. “You could wrap the phone with security.”

Enderle said if someone loses his or her phone, that person can notify the banks just like people do now with credit cards. He is also not too concerned about privacy with Apple.

“I know a lot of folks are concerned but seriously a lot of times when you use your credit card, people know you used it,” said Enderle.

Some people said they are willing to try it out.

“If that payment aspect is something friendly enough, safe enough, secure enough,” said Danny Lee of San Jose. “I wouldn't mind doing it.”

Yet for others, it will take time for them to trust Apple Pay.

“It just seems like every day, every week there's another hack,” said Judi Carollo of Los Gatos.

“Maybe in  a year or two, it’s something people are going to be using but right now I will sit on the sidelines and just wait and see,” said Gus Elfar of Campbell.

Visa, American Express and MasterCard are all on board with Apple Pay as well as many retailers like McDonald’s and Macy’s. To use it, iPhone 6 users will have to upgrade to Apple's new operating system. The update will be available Monday.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:23:52 -0700

Woman suffers burns in Pleasant Hill apartment fire

A woman suffered burns in a one-alarm apartment fire in Pleasant Hill Sunday afternoon, a fire official said.

Firefighters responded to a report of the fire in the 2100 block of Geary Road shortly after 4 p.m., Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said.

A second alarm response was called for but was quickly canceled, according to a dispatcher.

The blaze at the two-story building was under control around 4:25 p.m., Marshall said.

Once fire crews knocked down the fire, they searched through the building and located the woman in a unit involved in the blaze, according to Marshall.

She was transported to a hospital for burns to her legs and smoke inhalation, he said.

The fire was caused by unattended cooking in a kitchen in the same unit where the woman was found, Marshall said.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 17:35:14 -0700

Maui birthday invite washes ashore in California

A Central California beach outing has turned into a mystery after a bottle turned up with an invitation to a party in Hawaii — four years ago.

David Wilson of Nipomo says he and his family went to Shell Beach on Sunday to fish but it was too rough.

Wilson lost his sandal to a wave, but it brought him something else. While feeling for the shoe, he found a plastic bottle sealed with a cork. Inside was a tattered piece of paper dated 2010 from Maui.

It appears to be a hand-written invitation to a birthday party from a little girl named Safina. Her mother's name is Kim and their last name may be Woodstocker.

KEYT-TV says there were phone numbers on the paper but they've been disconnected.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:59:57 -0700

Tim Lincecum waits his turn, still yet to pitch

Tim Lincecum walked silently through the bustling clubhouse before Saturday's workout and stuck his left arm straight out as he passed Jean Machi's locker, offering a friendly fist bump to the reliever.

No words necessary.

Lincecum, so far an unused reliever this postseason, is doing everything he can to stay involved in the San Francisco Giants' latest World Series run after he was such an important part of the previous two.

Ask anybody, and it's a little bit freaky not seeing The Freak on that familiar October stage. A two-time NL Cy Young Award winner relegated to the back of the bullpen.

Lincecum hasn't pitched since Sept. 28, though he has thrown warmup tosses and kept his routine to ensure he's ready for his next chance — and manager Bruce Bochy hinted he very much expects to use the right-hander against the Royals.

"I'm just trying to keep that flow in my emotional state, as well," Lincecum said. "Just kind of stay positive and just take every day for what it is. Every day in the playoffs is pretty special."

Even if he's left watching and waiting for his turn.

Lincecum pitched the 2010 Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas. In 2012, he moved to the bullpen for the playoffs and emerged as a reliable reliever when San Francisco won another title.

After landing a new $35 million, two-year deal last October, Lincecum tossed his second no-hitter in less than a year June 25 against San Diego. He went 12-9 with a 4.74 ERA in 26 starts, ending a run of three straight years with a losing record.

His teammates understand this can't be easy for the guy once nicknamed "Franchise."

"I do everything I can do to encourage him on a daily basis because at some point in time (his) number could be called and it's going to be in a big spot. It's the World Series now," said Jake Peavy, the Game 2 World Series starter. "We believe in Timmy Lincecum. He's done amazing things, he's as big-time as anybody and has had tremendous playoff starts as a starter, tremendous playoff experience out of the bullpen."

The Giants' 10th overall draft pick in 2006 and was in the big leagues by the following May, Lincecum lost his rotation spot in late August and was replaced by Yusmeiro Petit. Lincecum won his last two outings pitching out of the bullpen, including his 100th career victory Sept. 25 against the Padres.

Even Bochy considers Lincecum, knowing how much he wants to contribute — and how much Bochy wants him to get that opportunity, when the moment is right.

In the NL Division Series and NLCS, Lincecum was the only player on the 25-man roster not used.

"He's just an unbelievable teammate, he's so selfless that it inspires each and every one of us," right fielder Hunter Pence said. "He's also a big-game pitcher. He has that flair for the spectacular. You've seen it with two no-hitters where he lifts us up through some of our tough times and you've seen it in the postseason. "

Lincecum didn't even enter the 18-inning Game 2 division series win at Washington. Bochy said he would have used him but plans changed once the Giants took the lead.

"Timmy's done a lot for us, I'll start with that," Bochy said. "When you get in the postseason, there is probably going to be a guy, maybe two who doesn't get a lot of work, but that doesn't mean he might not play a key role. ... I think about Timmy, trust me, the fact he hasn't been in there because I haven't forgotten what he's done or what he could do for us. So far it's worked out well. But still, I'd like to get him to be part of it."

Lincecum is still among the fan favorites, and that was evident when a long line of people waiting to see him weaved around a corner and down the hallway for FanFest at AT&T Park last Feb. 1.

When the 2013 season ended, Linecum wasn't sure he would even be back in orange and black. Instead of testing free agency, he stuck with the only team he has known and the comfort of remaining in a place he belongs and knows so well.

"I feel great," Lincecum said. "It's just about staying that way. ... I don't think there's any way to kind of lose it at this time of the year. Everybody's kind of, whatever's left in the tank you're going to pour it on that field whenever you get a chance. I just try to be myself, keep a light mood. Along with that grind, we celebrate our small accomplishments."

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 15:35:16 -0700

Sonoma County inmate found dead in cell Saturday a day following drug arrest

An inmate booked into the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility in Santa Rosa on Friday and found dead Saturday night has been identified as 50-year-old transient Rhonda Jean Everson, the sheriff's office reported Sunday.

At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, a nurse dispensing medication in a special housing unit at the jail found Everson unresponsive inside a cell, Sonoma County sheriff's Sgt. Cecile Focha said.

After a correctional deputy could not detect a pulse, other jail personnel were called to the scene and paramedics arrived but life-saving attempts failed and Everson was pronounced dead at 9:49 p.m., deputies said.

Everson was arrested and booked into the jail Friday on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, bringing a controlled substance into a jail and violating felony probation, according to Focha.

Jail medical employees screened the inmate and because Everson had an extensive history of substance abuse and associated medical concerns, she was assigned to a special housing unit for inmates going through withdrawals from drug abuse, deputies said.

Everson was placed into a cell in the unit at about 9:40 p.m. on Friday, Focha said.

She awoke Saturday morning and correctional deputies accounted for the inmate in twice-hourly rounds, deputies said.

There is no indication of injury or foul play and the circumstances behind the inmate's death are still under investigation, according to Focha.

Detectives of the sheriff's office are conducting the investigation, she said.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 15:05:23 -0700

Three arrested in connection with Vacaville stabbing, robberies

Police on Saturday arrested three people in connection with the stabbing and robbery of a homeless man and an attempted robbery of another man in Vacaville.

Daniel Ortiz, 20, of Fairfield, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery, vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, felony evading, resisting an officer, conspiracy and probation violation.

Angel Alvarado, 19, of Fairfield, was arrested on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery and conspiracy.

A 17-year-old from Vacaville was arrested on suspicion of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery, conspiracy and a probation violation.

Police responded at 5:14 a.m. to a gas station at 605 Elmira Road, where they located a transient man who had been beaten, stabbed and robbed.

Police said the man was sleeping when the suspects threw a beer bottle at him before running away.

Later, the man was walking near the gas station at 605 Elmira Road when the suspects returned and surrounded him.

Police said the victim ran away, but the suspects chased him, physically assaulted him and robbed him of a small amount of cash.

The victim was stabbed twice during the assault.

He was transported to the hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.

At around 6:38 a.m., police received a report of an attempted robbery that occurred at Nut Tree Road and Summerfield Drive.

Police said a second victim told investigators he was fishing when a green Honda pulled up next to him, and one of the occupants tried to rob him.

The victim was able to run away, and the suspects fled in the car.

Officers located the vehicle nearby and learned it was reported stolen from an address in Vacaville.

Police said officers tried to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the driver, later identified as Ortiz, fled at a high rate of speed before crashing into a tree at an apartment complex in the 100 block of Summerfield Drive.

Police said Ortiz fled on foot but was apprehended a short time later, and the two other suspects, who had remained in the vehicle, were also taken into custody.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 14:06:30 -0700

PG&E drastically reduces fees to install gunshot-tracking devices in SF

Installation of new devices to detect the sounds of gunshots in San Francisco will move forward after the utility company PG&E agreed to drastically lower its fees, according to a spokeswoman.

PG&E, in a pact with the city and county of San Francisco, will immediately begin placing the gunshot-tracking devices on 35 of its telephone and power poles in the city, county Supervisor David Campos spokeswoman Carolyn Goossen said.

The sound-sensitive mechanisms are affixed to light poles, government buildings and schools to alert police about shootings within 40 feet of where the shots were fired, allowing officers to respond quickly, according to Goossen.

The San Francisco Police Department began using gunshot-tracking technology in 2008 in areas of the city with the highest levels of gun violence, city officials said.

Then last year, the department started a project to expand locations of the technology to include PG&E telephone and power poles, but the effort stalled when PG&E charged installation fees that were higher than anticipated, Goossen said.

On Friday, PG&E agreed to reduce its installation fee from $1,500 per pole to between $200 and $400 and to begin putting the devices in right away, she said.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:56:50 -0700

Huge crowd of runners turns out for Nike Half Marathon

The starting line at Union Square had the look and feel of a night club, with lights flashing, music pumping and the first of 25,000 runners anxiously waiting early Sunday morning to begin the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

It is the 11th year the event has taken place in San Francisco.

"It's insane! And everyone dresses up in crazy costumes, and it's so fun. And I feel like everyone's so encouraging of one another," said race participant and Nike pace runner Kristi Howell.

There were some changes to the event this year. For the first time, the course started at Stockton and Post in Union Square before running through Golden Gate Park and ending at Marina Green.

Howell said the course is more challenging this year.

"There's a lot more hills this year than there were last year. It should be interesting," explained Howell.

In past years, the event included a full and half-marathon, but this year it's just the half marathon.

Event organizer Nicole Mayo said the shorter race is more popular, because it’s more accessible. People are more easily able to tackle 13 miles instead of 26. 

"This race is on my bucket list," said Diodita Avenis of San Francisco. "I initially wanted a full marathon, but half marathon is good for me."

Tom Craig flew in from Houston to watch his daughter run.

"She's focused like a laser beam and she's the top fundraiser in her group in Houston," he said. Craig explained that his daughter was motivated in fundraise and participate in honor of a family friend who had passed away from lymphoma.

The money raised from the half marathon benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. Nike spokespersons said that during the past decade, their marathon and half marathon events have raised more than $150 million dollars for the organization.

46 survivors of Leukemia and Lymphoma ran the San Francisco Half Marathon Sunday morning.

Craig said some of their stories brought him to tears.

"While I was standing here [on the race course], I met this other lady," said Craig. "Her daughter is one of 46 survivors running in this. I said, 'Well, we might as well cheer for your daughter, too!"

He said it was an example of the support and camaraderie on the 13-mile race course and on the sidelines.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:27:27 -0700

As Sweden hunts for sub, 'Cold War' comparisons flourish

With the Swedish navy on the hunt for a suspected Russian submarine, in October... you'd be forgiven for drawing up certain comparisons. 

And a number of outlets have done exactly that, with the news that the Swedes had detected possible "foreign underwater activity" and have mobilized some 200 personnel to look for the suspected sub. (Video via Euronews)

SASKIA O'DONOGHUE, BBC: "All of this has overtones of the Cold War, submarine activity around Sweden was a major concern at the height of the conflict. Russia submarine U137 ran aground in a secret Swedish submarine leak in 1981."

That refers to the so-called 'Whiskey on the Rocks' incident, when a Soviet submarine prompted a standoff and investigation after running aground in a Swedish military zone. (Video via STV)

The Guardian also took that angle, describing the operation as, "reminiscent of the cold war when neutral Sweden regularly swept the island-strewn Baltic Sea coastline around the capital for Soviet spy submarines."

Couple that with reports last month that a Russian jet had violated Swedish airspace, and it's easy to see why Nordic states would be on edge. 

But Russia and the U.S. aren't exactly threatening each other with nuclear warheads, or fighting proxy wars across the globe, so it's worth asking if coverage isn't jumping the gun on Cold War comparisons.

Writing for The New York Times, historian Viktor Sebestyen argues it's not an apt comparison because, stripped of the ideology, the current conflict is localized and Putin-centric.  

"If there is a threat, it is geographical, not ideological, and it is to a confined area on Russia’s periphery ... there is no global military challenge, no clash of a cultural or economic kind." He goes on to say only the rhetoric feels familiar. 

There has been plenty of that — especially in the wake of Western sanctions. RT quoted Russia's foreign minister as saying, "You can essentially feel it in their statements and actions, the true goal of restrictions."

And rhetoric from Western leaders in response probably hasn't helped, as John Kerry described Russia last spring

JOHN KERRY VIA CBS: "In Russia, an authoritarian country." 

For its part, the Swedish military has been very careful about disclosing the origin of the foreign underwater activity, and hasn't confirmed that it is of Russian origin. 

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:55:20 -0700

Study links soda to accelerated DNA aging

We already know drinking soda can lead to obesity, but new research suggests drinking a can of the carbonated beverage everyday can be as bad as smoking. Yikes.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found those who drank 20 ounces of soda had DNA typical of someone 4.6 years older. 

To come to this conclusion, researchers looked at how soda intake effected the DNA of more than 5,000 people nationwide. 

But it's important to point out researchers did not find diet soda to have the same effect, making the extraordinary amount of sugar in each can of regular soda the likely culprit. 

Senior study author Elissa Epel said, “Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”

However, even though diet soda might not age you quite as much, it's probably not a good idea to make a habit of drinking either. 

Previous studies have shown the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may even cause cancer. 

And both regular and diet soda can be bad for your teeth

But some good news — soda consumption has actually been going down in the U.S. for years now. 

Last year, water replaced soda as America's favorite drink.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:55:12 -0700

Tesla's sales model could get it banned in Michigan

Electric car manufacturer Tesla is asking consumers to fight a bill passed by the Michigan legislature earlier this month.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has until Tuesday to sign a bill that includes an amendment many believe is directed at Tesla's business model.

CAROLYN CLIFFORD VIA WXYZ: "An amendment added to the bill earlier this month bars auto companies from selling to consumers. The luxury electric brand is the only major company that operates that way."

The issue stems from Tesla's unusual sales model.

The company has galleries, usually located in shopping malls, where potential customers can learn about the cars. Vehicles are then purchased using a computer connected to the Tesla factory in California. 

And here's the rub: other automakers are prohibited from this type of direct-to-consumer sale under franchise law in almost every state, having instead to sell through licensed dealerships.

Tesla contends it is exempt from Michigan's franchised dealership law because it's never had a dealership in the state. The amendment barring direct-to-consumer sales would change that. 

In a blog post, Tesla accused auto dealers of adding the amendment at the last minute, claiming: "The dark-of-night tactics highlight the dealers concerns that their arguments don't stand up well to public scrutiny...No consumer unaffiliated with dealers would ever want this."

A spokesperson for the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association, which had a hand in attaching the amendment, denied it was intended to block Tesla from selling in the state, telling The Detroit News: "We would expect if Tesla wanted to operate in the state of Michigan that they would follow the laws."

Tesla has fought similar legal battles before.

In 2013, a similar bill was dropped by the North Carolina House after winning unanimous approval in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, the company won a Supreme Judicial Court case brought by the state's Automobile Dealers Association in 2012 claiming Tesla's gallery violated state law barring car manufacturers from owning dealerships.

And the company has encountered problems in Missouri, Texas and New Jersey as well.

A representative from Tesla said that while the company intended to enter the Michigan market, the bill "forecloses that opportunity in a very definitive way." Snyder has not said whether or not he will veto the bill. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

 

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:53:39 -0700

Motorist suffers major injuries after veering off Hillside Road in Castro Valley

The California Highway Patrol is at the scene of a major injury accident in Castro Valley in Alameda County where the driver was able to get out of their car after it veered off a hillside roadway.

At 7:52 a.m., the CHP was dispatched about an injury accident at 27361 Palomares Road in a rural area about 4 miles east of Hayward and a mile south of Interstate Highway 580, the CHP said.

The driver of the vehicle left the roadway, located along a foothill near Palomares Creek, and suffered major injuries, the CHP reported.

The injured motorist was able to get out the vehicle on their own and a tow truck is using a 200-foot-long cable to remove the vehicle from an embankment, according to the CHP.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 10:32:04 -0700

Monday Weather Forecast: Scattered morning showers

A weak system moves into the Bay Area Monday! Scattered showers will develop in the North Bay Monday morning. The activity will gradually shift to the south by mid-morning. The showers should be out of here by the evening hours. Rainfall totals should range from .02” in the South Bay to .25” in the North Bay. Monday highs should range from the mid 60s near the coast to the mid 70s inland.

Projected highs for Monday:

  • Santa Rosa: 69
  • Napa: 69
  • Concord: 70
  • San Rafael: 68
  • Oakland: 68
  • San Francisco: 66
  • Pacifica: 63
  • Redwood City: 70
  • Fremont: 70
  • San Jose: 70
  • Morgan Hill: 71

Dry weather returns Tuesday. Temperatures will be trending up by midweek.

Published: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 10:03:56 -0700