<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Local News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:04:16 -0800 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:04:16 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[San Jose Police Activity Forces School to Shelter in Place]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:48:55 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sj-mirdana.jpg

Students and teachers at a west San Jose elementary school were forced to shelter in place Thursday due to nearby police activity, a spokeswoman said.

The principal of Lynhaven Elementary School, a K-5 school at 881 Cypress Ave., ended the shelter in place at about 2 p.m. after students remained in their classrooms for about 45 minutes, according to Campbell Union School District spokeswoman Marla Sanchez.

San Jose police, who were called to an area near the school, notified the principal, who ordered the school's teachers and children to shelter in place, Sanchez said.

The principal lifted it after police called and said their activity there was over, Sanchez said. Students were permitted to leave at the regular school hours for dismissal, which is 2:10 p.m. for kindergarten to third grade students and 2:15 p.m. for grades four and five, she said.

San Jose police said Thursday afternoon two suspects were taken into custody at Williams Road and San Tomas Expressway.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Nannette Miranda]]>
<![CDATA[New Science Paints Picture of Salmon Shark Diet]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:32:36 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shark+still.jpg

If you hear a snippet of the ominous musical score from the film Jaws, you probably won't conjure up an image of a salmon shark.

In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve never even heard of a salmon shark.

But this lesser-known cousin of the famous white shark is out there - indeed munching on salmon - following some unknown trajectory between California and Japan.  

“Until relatively recently, it’s been pretty poorly studied,” said Aaron Carlisle, a researcher with  Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey. “Salmon sharks just for some reason kind of fell through the cracks.”

It’s not to say these sharks were basking in complete obscurity; they’re fished in Alaska where they turn up each year to dine on an endless salmon smorgasbord. But Carlisle and other marine researchers wanted to know more about these creatures and their travels.

Carlisle and his team have now turned to an experimental process in which isotopes are taken of the sharks’ vertebrae which hold bands of information, kind of like the rings of a tree. By tracing the bands, scientists can see what the sharks ate during each year of their life, which in turn revealed where they ate it.

 “If you eat a squid in California,” said Carlisle, “that looks different than the same kind of squid in Alaska.”

Through the testing, the research revealed some sharks which visited Alaska, turned up at the back door of the research center - in the Monterey Bay. They also visit Hawaii and Baja.

The team is using the isotope track in conjunction with traditional electronic tagging to get a more elaborate picture of the sharks’ travels.

“What’s really becoming cutting edge,” said Hopkins research coordinator Steve Litvin, “is using these advanced techniques together to give us much deeper knowledge than we ever could with only one.”

Researchers at Stanford may try using the isotope tracing with other marine life, including white sharks.

The information gleaned about the sharks could be used by fishery managers to set regulations to protect the shark, like continuing bans on gill nets in some areas salmon sharks frequent.

“If you actually want to conserve and manage the population,” Carlisle said, “what you really need to understand is the survival.”

Photo Credit: Joe Rosato Jr.
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<![CDATA[Man Accused of Sex Assaults on Women Twice His Age]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:03:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Kenneth-Bridges.jpg

San Jose police have arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of sexually assaulting two women about twice his age.

In a news release, police said they arrested Kenneth Bridges, of Morgan Hill, on Wednesday for a "sexual assault in progress" in the 1600 block of Stokes Street. Two women, ages 54 and 63, both of San Jose, were allegedly his victims, police said. Nothing further was released about the women.

Bridges was taken into custody at the scene and booked into the Santa Clara County Main jail.

Attempts to track down Bridges' attorney were not immediately successful. His case on Thursday had not yet been forwarded to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Police said Bridges was on active parole for robbery.

Photo Credit: San Jose police]]>
<![CDATA[Tougher Rules on "Alcopops" in Contra Costa]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:27:18 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/four-loko.jpg

Four Loko is not outlawed, yet, but the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors is asking the California Legislature to pull that boozy sugary drink from store shelves across the state, according to the Bay Area News Group, and in the meantime, stores in the county are under greater restrictions when selling the potent cocktails.

The new law on where so-called "alcopops" can be displayed and sold only applies to unincorporated areas of the county, but city councils in the county may also move on the restrictions, the newspaper reported.

This could be the "strongest stance any California county has taken against these new alcohol-laden drinks," a county official told the newspaper.

Four Loko and other drinks will now have to be displayed in "different locations than soft drinks" in order to help people tell "these sweet soda-like products from actual pops," the newspaper reported.

It appears that Four Loko and similar drinks are the boozy beverage "of choice for underage drinkers from 12 to 18 years old" because of their similarity to soda, the newspaper reported.

"Until you try to stand up," that is, in the words of Ed Diokno, a policy analyst for a county supervisor.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oakland Restaurants Search For Ways to Go Tipless]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:19:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/193*120/020309+Dennys+Free+Breakfast+p6.jpg

Tips are going away, but nobody's quite yet sure what will replace gratuities at restaurants.

Oakland eateries eager to do away with the tipping model are still searching for an adequate replacement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Camino and Duende in Oakland had thought about applying a 20 percent surcharge to each meal. But, thanks to the Oakland minimum wage increase, there may be a legal restriction on which employees can receive that service charge.

So that idea is nixed for now, and instead, the restaurant's owners are merely raising menu prices "20 to 25 percent," the newspaper reported.

Aster on Guerrero Street in San Francisco will also have higher menu prices in lieu of tips and in lieu of a service charge applied to each bill post-meal. Others are experimenting with a 15 percent service fee, with further tipping optional.

Still, it beats cooking at home.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Santana Row Developer Buys Mountain View's San Antonio Center]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:01:13 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/185*120/santanarow.jpg

Is a Santana Row coming to Mountain View? Its owners certainly are.

The Maryland-based company that owns San Jose's upscale shopping center is close to closing a deal to buy Mountain View's San Antonio Center, the largest shopping area in that South Bay town, according to the Mountain View Voice.

The newspaper reports Federal Realty is paying $60 million for the 33-acre shopping complex that includes a Trader Joe's, Walmart, 24-hour Fitness, and other local favorites.

Two-thirds of that purchase was in cash, most of it paid to the "Buck family of Marin," the newspaper reported.

With one owner now in command of the parcel, there's opportunity for the entire center to be redeveloped, observers say.

The immediate area is rapidly changing and might sustain a high-end shopping area quite well: There's a 500,000-square foot Google building coming in nearby, and there are "several large apartment projects" coming at El Camino Real and San Antonio Road, the newspaper reported.

However, any big change is years down the road and would require action from the city as well as many vacancies in the area. And most retailers, like Walmart, have leases, according to the paper.

Photo Credit: Santana Row]]>
<![CDATA[Former Grateful Dead Manager Dies at 73 ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:28:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rock-scully.jpg

Rock Scully has passed on.

The former manager of the Grateful Dead died Tuesday at 73 near his home in Monterey, according to the Monterey Herald. He had been battling lung cancer.

Scully managed the band for 20 years, from when he first heard the band at a Ken Kesey acid test, those infamous happenings in which attendees received a dose of LSD as well as a dose of music, until 1985.

Scully had a "mischievous sense of adventure" and was "full of wonder and curiousity," attributes that served him well as the man in charge of an outfit as weird, wild and woolly as the Dead, according to guitarist Bob Weir.

He also "lived 'the hippie ethos' of peace and love every day of his life, like nobody I've ever met before," said David Bean, a Big Sur-based promoter.

A Carmel native, who met current U.S. Congressman Sam Farr in sixth grade at Sunset School, he had studied German literature before deciding to go into music after a ski trip to Squaw Valley, the newspaper reported.

It was Farr to whom Scully announced that he'd be manager of a new band, with a new name. The Grateful Dead. At the time, Farr thought it was "the nuttiest thing I've heard heard," the congressman told the newspaper.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Deer Collides With Cyclist Near Sausalito]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:22:07 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/DEER-VID.jpg

Bay Area cyclist Silas Patlove was enjoying a quiet Sunday ride last weekend near Sausalito when an unexpected obstacle suddenly blocked his path — a deer.

Out of nowhere, the animal jumped the rail and slammed right into Patlove, sending him crashing to the ground. Both Patlove and the deer are fine.

TODAY show host Matt Laeur is no stranger to accidents like this. He had his own bicycle incident with a deer a few years ago.

Photo Credit: Silas Patlove
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<![CDATA[Critic Weighs In on CPUC President's Legacy]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:56:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tonyandpeevey.png

For a dozen years, Michael Peevey has occupied one of the most powerful seats in California. As president of the Public Utilities Commission, he has the power to control the companies that bill consumers for electricity, gas and water.

His legacy includes presiding over the CPUC during the deadly San Bruno explosion in 2010 and accepting a safety award just months after the agency was accused of failing to properly regulate Pacific Gas & Electric Company. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that those mistakes contributed to the disaster that killed eight people and injured dozens more.

Peevey’s legacy also includes a leaked internal survey in 2013 when his employees accused the agency of an overly cozy relationship with utility companies. Last year Peevey decided to dodge requests from senators to answer questions at the state capitol, opting instead to attend a conference at an exclusive Napa winery with utility representatives among other invitees.

“Michael Peevey’s legacy is a degradation of a principled man who did a lot of good in his life,” said consumer advocate Harry Snyder. “He became holier than thou he could do no wrong.”

Snyder lectures at UC Berkeley and recently criticized Peevey and Governor Jerry Brown in an opinion column in the Sacramento Bee.

“Michael Peevey should have resigned a long time ago,” Snyder said.

During his tenure as CPUC president, Peevey accepted more than $165,000 in free travel from nonprofit groups, many of which received funding from the utility companies the CPUC regulates.

Now, Peevey finds himself in the middle of a scandal, and under investigation by the United States Attorney and the state Attorney General for questionable meetings with top PG&E executives. An internal PG&E email serves as the center of the investigation because it details how Peevey asked PG&E to contribute more than $1 million to a CPUC anniversary celebration and a political cause Peevey supported.

“You don’t say things like that unless you think you are above the law,” Snyder said. “You don’t write something like that unless you think you are above the law. So these men think they are above the law. Michael Peevey is going to be the shadow that follows Jerry Brown everywhere.”

Whether Brown should have removed Peevey as president of the commission remains a lingering question as Peevey prepares to close the door on a dozen years directing the California Public Utilities Commission. Just days after inappropriate emails between PG&E and the CPUC became public, PG&E fired three top executives. In contrast, Brown allowed Peevey to finish his term in the president’s seat.

“It’s bologna, its self-serving excuses for doing the wrong thing,” Snyder said. “And Jerry Brown is not serving the people of the state of California. Not serving the people of San Bruno but serving, his own political interests. It’s just unacceptable.”

The governor’s office has declined multiple requests for an interview about why he did not ask Peevey to relinquish his position as CPUC president. Brown told the Associated Press that the emails were “troubling” and that he wanted to wait for the results of the federal and state investigations.

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit email theunit@nbcbayarea.com or call 888-996-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Dawson's Light]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:43:37 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/dawsonslighthashtag.jpg One family's emotional connection to a San Francisco landmark.]]> <![CDATA[Suspect Beat Up Cashier, Stole $18K: Police]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:46:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/elrancho.jpg

Menlo Park police are searching for four men who allegedly beat up a store cashier before taking off with $18,000 in cash.

According to police, the armed, masked men stormed into the El Rancho Market on Willow Road on Tuesday and demanded money from the cash register.

The cashier couldn’t open the drawer and was subsequently punched in the face several times. Two of the gunmen forced another employee into the check cashing booth inside the market and made him take money out of those registers.

The four robbers were described as 5’10” to 6’ tall, all wearing hoodies, facemasks, and gloves. They all got away before police arrived.

Anyone who may have witnessed this incident or with information pertaining to this incident, is asked to please contact the Menlo Park Police Department at (650) 330-6300 or the anonymous tip line at (650) 330-6395.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Man Recorded Women in Wal-Mart Bathroom: Police]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:48:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/bathroom8.jpg

Union City police are searching for a man who they say recorded video of women while hiding out in a women’s bathroom at Wal-Mart.

A woman noticed the man recording her inside the stall of the bathroom on Tuesday where he allegedly hid for 10 minutes before she spotted him, according to police. The man left the store after being discovered.

The suspect was described as a white male adult, about 6 foot 4 inches tall, approximately 45 years old, with curly salt and pepper hair, wearing a brown jacket, with a white long sleeve undershirt.

Anyone with information about the identity of the depicted suspect is encouraged to contact the Union City Police Department at (510) 675-5207 or at email: tips@unioncity.org.

Photo Credit: Union City police]]>
<![CDATA[4 NorCal Counties Proclaim " Local Emergencies"]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:20:01 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/Novato+Levee+Breach+1.jpg

With rains reaching near-record levels in California this winter, the storms have brought much relief to the drought-stricken state, but the rains have also brought flooding, mudslides and other damages.

As of Thursday, four counties in California, all in the northern part of the state, have proclaimed "local emergencies," according to Lilly Wyatt, spokeswoman for the State Office of Emergency Services. Only the governor can proclaim a state of emergency.

Tehama County decided to note the "public calamity" first, on Dec. 9, after Sheriff Dave Hencratt requested the board of supervisors formally issue the proclamation.

Sonoma, Marin and Lake counties are the other three counties where the boards of supervisors there proclaimed local of emergencies.

According to the state Office of Emergency Services, Monterey and San Mateo counties are preparing to proclaim, and Butte County is considering, also.

These types of proclamations kickstart the formal request for for state and federal financial aid if the need arises. Sonoma County has asked for the most so far - $17 million, and Marin County has asked for $1 million. The other two counties have not yet specified a dollar amount as crews are still assessing the damage.

The wreckage in each of the counties are related to the drenching rains, which have caused mudslides into homes, crumbled highways and in the case of Marin County, a breached a levee near downtown.

But just because a county asks for state help, doesn't mean they get it all.

In 2005, for example, Marin County suffered $12 million in damages during the stroms then. Marin County spokesman Brent Ainsworth said FEMA reimbursed the county for $8 million of it.

The wet December, however, did bring some cautious optimism to the state. The U.S. Drought Monitor said that reservoir levels have improved slightly, and the Sacramento River is at it's highest level since December 2005.

Meteorologist Christina Loren said over the next week, Northern California should remain relatively dry.

Updates: Interactive Radar and Severe Weather Alerts

NBC LA's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Marin County
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<![CDATA[Storms Provide "Foothold for Drought Recovery" in California ]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:30:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/221*120/12-18-2014-drought-monitor-ca.jpg

A string of storms that marched across California this month provided enough rain to boost reservoir levels and slightly improve drought conditions after three consecutive dry years.

The state still likely needs several consecutive wet winters, but the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report offers reason for "cautious" optimism with several months left in California's wet season. This month's storms brought precipitation to most of California, pushing the Sacramento River to its highest level since December 31, 2005.

Consecutive days of rain and snow led to a decrease in the percentage of the state under the Monitor's most severe drought category, called exceptional drought (D4). Last week, 55 percent of California was in the exceptional drought category. The latest report shows 32 percent of state in the D4 category.

Nearly 95 percent of the state remains under severe drought, according to the Monitor.

California's critically low water reservoirs remain well below historical average for mid-December, but Drought Monitor researchers noted "good capacity increases" of 6 to 10 percentage points in northern and central California's major reservoirs.

"It takes years to get into a drought of this severity, and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it," said Jay Famiglietti, a researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

A study of satellite data released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory earlier this week found that at the peak of the drought earlier this year, water storage in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 11 trillion gallons below normal seasonal levels.

"With several more months still left in the wet season, it is possible that additional storms similar to the ones that just occurred will continue to chip away at the long-term hydrological drought, and the addition of lower temperatures would help build the snow pack," according to the report.

Rainfall has been trending above normal in many places so far during the 2014-2015 rain season that began July 1. As of Wednesday, downtown Los Angeles had collected 4.47 inches, more than 1.4 inches more than normal to date. A year earlier, it had collected just 0.86 inch to date. Downtown San Francisco had tallied 13.40 inches, or nearly 6.5 inches more than normal to date.

But drought improvement will depend largely on this season's precipitation in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Springtime runoff from the melting Sierra Nevada mountain range snowpack supplies water for an estimated 25 million Californians. In November, the southern Sierra had received just 47 percent of its normal rain and snow so far, and the northern Sierra 79 percent.

The report noted that temperatures remained above normal, so more rain than snow was reported at higher elevations.

The tropical Pacfic Ocean phenomenon known as El Nino also could have a say in California's drought situation. The chance of El Nino weather conditions, which can potentially usher moisture into California, developing this winter for the Northern Hemisphere increased to 65 percent in December.

That figure represents an increase from last month's estimate of 58 percent.

Gov. Jerry Brown in January declared a drought emergency, and asked Californians to cut residential water use by 20 percent -- a mark that has not been met, according to recent estimates. Farmers in the Central Valley have fallowed fields and mandatory water restrictions are in effect as California faces a fourth-consecutive dry year.

Photo Credit: US Drought Monitor
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<![CDATA[Rallies for Racial Justice, Police Accountability]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:26:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/244*120/public.jpg

A host of rallies and marches for racial justice and police accountability were on tap in the Bay Area on Thursday, from public defenders showing their support for "Black Lives Matter," to activists in San Jose demanding a police officer be fired after he allegedly post threatening tweets toward protesters.

All the demonstrations stem from the summer deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Both African-American men were killed by white police officers who grand juries found were not criminally responsible for their deaths.

At 8:10 a.m., Alameda County public defenders stood for 4 and a half minutes of silence at the Oakland courthourse, wearing black gloves that symbolize "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!"

Public Defender Brendon Woods, who the first African-American to head the office, stood on the steps and said that he wanted to honor all those who "have been killed and not received justice simply because they were black."

He said a large part of why he became a public defender is because "All Black Lives Matter," citing statistics that show black men are incarcerated and killed at higher rates than whites. He cited a 2013 study that said 1 out of 15 black men in the United States are in prison compared to 1 out of 106 white men. He also said that in 2012, Santa Rita Jail housed 54 percent African American imates, when they only make up 12 percent of the population in the county.

San Francisco public defenders will be holding a similar rally at noon, and offices in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties are also holding similar rallies. In Brooklyn, public defenders held a "die-in" on Thursday, but the Bay Area effort by public defenders is believed to be the first of its kind in California.

Then at 4 p.m., the Coalition for Justice and Accountability is leading a march from the Santa Clara County government building to the San Jose police department.

Organizers said that demonstrators plan to hand over documentation of an online petition they say contains more than 13,000 electronic signatures calling for the termination of Officer Phillip White. The coalition has started its own hashtag #FireWhiteNow.

White has declined to be interviewed.

White was embroiled in controversy over social-media posts, first reported by Buzzfeed, that he allegedly made on Twitter against "Black Lives Matter" protesters. The most inflammatory tweets read, "Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you. #CopsLivesMatter" and "By the way if anyone feels they can't breathe or their lives matter I'll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun."

White has since been placed on paid administrative leave while the police department, which has denounced the posts, investigates his alleged acts.

The coalition, which comprises the Silicon Valley NAACP, Asian Law Alliance, and social-justice media collective Silicon Valley De-Bug, also hopes to pressure the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office to file charges against two San Jose State University officers in the February shooting of Antonio Lopez Guzman, who was killed just outside campus after police say he charged them with a jagged-edge knife. The medical examiner said he was shot twice in the back.

NBC Bay Area's Josh Keppel contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel
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<![CDATA[Community Pitches in for Belmont Flood Victims]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:25:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/belmont29.JPG

Flood victims on the Peninsula, battered by the last two storms, are returning home Wednesday night to assess the damage — and there's a lot of it.

But for some families at a flooded mobile home park in Belmont, help is on the way. Generosity no one ever imagined would appear weeks before Christmas.

The flood waters took a big hit on everybody at the Belmont mobile home park, especially the ones with children. But because of the kindness of the community and one local elementary school principal in particular, things are about to get much better.

Elena Barriga lost all her food when flood waters knocked out power at her home for five days. Her family also lost everything that they had stored under their home.

For those five nights away, Barriga stayed at an emergency shelter with her husband and three frightened children.

“It was raining really hard — it was at night so when I slept I was still worried … I had nightmares,” one of her children said.

The Red Cross provided a hotel room for Barriga's parents because her father Jesus is on dialysis, and her mother Maria is battling breast cancer. They live at the mobile home park too.

But before the storms had even ended Robin Maganaris, the principal at Nesbit elementary in Belmont, where Barriga’s children go to school , had learned that a total of 11 families with children at Nesbit had also been flooded out.

“When you are principal of the school you love the teachers, the parents, the community — you love the children — you're like the mom,” Maganaris said.

Maganaris reached out to school district parents for help, hoping to raise maybe $500.

“In six hours we were up to $4,000 and by the next morning it was $8,000 and now we sit at a little over $19,000,” she said. “Children have brought in their allowances, their tooth fairy money, their presents from their grandparents.”

For the Barriga family, there really is a Santa Claus, in fact hundreds of them, all over the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District.

You can help Belmont flood victims by donating here.

<![CDATA[Bay Area Public Defenders Hold "Black Lives Matter" Rallies]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:52:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/240*120/blacklivesmatter.jpg

Bay Area public defenders plan to host a "Black Lives Matter" rally Thursday, believed to be the first of its kind in California.

"We've been considering this for a while, and struggling with what to do to show that black lives matter," Alameda County Public Defender Brendon D. Woods told NBC Bay Area.

Public defenders in Contra Costa, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties are planning similar rallies the same day.

In Oakland, the public defenders will be leading the rally at the Rene C. Davidson main courthouse at 8 a.m. dressed in T-shirts and black gloves that symbolize, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”

The rally will be short, consisting of four-and-a-half minutes of silence, to honor Michael Brown, whose body remained on the street in Ferguson, Missouri for four and a half hours on Aug. 9 after he was shot and killed by a white police officer. Protesters have been adding another 28 seconds, or 28 minutes, to their rallies to signify the number of African Americans who died in the United States in 2012, one every 28 hours, according to a study.

And according to 2012 statistics, 54 percent of those incarcerated at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin are African American, and many are represented by Woods' office.

The Bay Area rallies follow on the heels of a 7-minute "die-in" hosted by public defenders in Brooklyn, who walked out of court on Wednesday to symbolize the chokehold July death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. A group of lawyers in Philadelphia also participated in a die-in at the Criminal Justice Center, according to reports.

While this is the first formal move by public defenders in the Bay Area, the Richmond police chief  grabbed headlines when he held up a "Black Lives Matter" sign earlier this month, a move which garnered criticism from his union.

As people throughout the country have been holding "Black Lives Matter" demonstrations, there have been others who are saying that "Cops Lives Matter," too. And the Richmond police union said their chief shouldn't involve himself in politics.

In both the Brown and Garner case, the white police officers who killed them were not held criminally responsible. Both Brown and Garner were African American.

Photo Credit: Scott Morris/Bay City News]]>
<![CDATA[California Could Benefit From Better US-Cuba Relations]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:40:10 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/121714+cuban+flag+american+flag.jpg

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee is back from Cuba. And the United States is back with Cuba, too, which could mean good things for California businesses.

Industries including technology, biotech and agriculture might all be bolstered by the new, closer ties between the two countries announced Wednesday.

Relations will be closer than they have been at any other time since the early 1960s, when the U.S. broke off diplomatic ties with Fidel Castro's newly-communist state.

And at some point, the 50-year-old embargo on trade will be lifted as well, according to reports.

Lee has lobbied for decades to make Cuban-American relations closer, and on Wednesday she hailed President Barack Obama's announcement to move toward normalized relations with the Caribbean nation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Business leaders, some of whom claim to have made more than 50 trips to Cuba despite the embargo on trade and limitations on tourists, said closer ties present an opportunity.

For example, only 5 percent of Cubans have Internet access, according to the San Francisco Examiner. That would seem to present a chance for tech companies.

But first comes normalized travel and a spread of ideas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SF's Ganja Yoga Relies on Marijuana]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:30:12 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*160/108176601583474911884047511209701n.jpg

Marijuana and yoga, in the same studio.

Ganja Yoga in San Francisco's South of Market is combining cannabis use with the full array of poses, the first studio in San Francisco to offer "marijuana yoga classes," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Students are allowed to use "as much or as little" cannabis as they like, during a 15-minute pre-yoga session or throughout the class, instructor Dee Dussault told the newspaper.

Hits off "a joint or vaporizer" come in between instructions on deep breathing.

The marijuana is provided by the students, who must have valid medical marijuana recommendations in order to partake.

There's some contention in the yoga community as to what benefits marijuana offers a yogi. Some teachers say no marijuana use at all is what to strive for. 

Others, like Dussault, note cannabis has proven healing ability and – at the right amount, with a "less is more" attitude – can help with a healthy person's focus.

Ganja Yoga offers classes on Wednesday nights at Merchants of Reality at 285 Ninth Street.

Photo Credit: sweatfitness/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Fight Over Parking Spot Leads to Attack With Beer Bottle]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:17:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Parking+lot+generic+cars.jpg

A 32-year-old man was arrested for smashing a beer bottle over another man's head during a dispute over a parking spot in San Carlos, authorities said.

San Mateo County Sheriff's Office deputies arrived in the 500-block of Chestnut Street in San Carlos at 9 p.m. Monday to discover a 51-year old man who had been "hit in the face with a bottle," according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The man who had allegedly attacked him, Alfredo Vega, "returned to the area" with deputies still on scene and "admitted his involvement" in the attack, according to deputies.

He was arrested for assault.

The 51-year-old, meanwhile, received stitches for his wound.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Family Celebrates Gift of Life By Returning the Favor]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 06:27:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/organ+transplant+3.jpg

 Janice MacKinnon says she wouldn't believe it if she hadn't lived it.

"I would probably think that somebody made this story up," Janice says.

Janice is talking about the story of how, 10 years ago, her son Jake's life was saved by an organ donation. And how, this year, Janice was able to return the favor to the very same family that helped Jake.

"It really sounds like a made-up story," Janice says.

It all started in 2004, when 20-year-old Kalem Millard, of Livingston in Merced County, was killed in an ATV accident. Just weeks before his death, Kalem told his girlfriend that he wished to sign up to be an organ donor.

When she shared that information with Kalem's parents, Bill and Tish, shortly after his death, they agreed to donate his organs to those who needed them.

"We didn't even second-guess it," Tish says.

Kalem's pancreas ended up being transplanted into then-19-year-old Jake MacKinnon, in need of one due to the effects of severe diabetes.

The two families connected a year later when Janice wrote a letter of thanks to the donor family (at the time unknown to her) and asked the transplant network to deliver it.

Tish soon responded and the two families formed a friendship that lasted and deepened over the past decade.

The two families gather each year at the MacKinnon's Petaluma farm each December to light a Christmas tree in memory of Kalem Millard.

At last year's gathering, though, Bill Millard couldn't stay long. He was too ill. A diabetic himself, Bill was in need of a kidney transplant. Janice wrote a letter to the Millard's offering to donate hers.

The surgery happened this past summer and both Bill and Janice have recovered nicely.

Like Janice, Bill can hardly believe what has happened. "For (Jake's) mother to turn around 10 years later and save my life, it's mind boggling."

<![CDATA[Muni Removes Seats From Buses Over Safety Concerns]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 16:23:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/070813-muni-bus-patients-released.jpg

Some seats on Muni buses are hazardous to your health.

San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency is telling passengers to avoid 1,434 seats on its bus fleet, two seats each on of 717 buses, for "safety reasons" after receiving a warning from bus-builder New Flyer, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The trouble seats are conjoined fold-up seats that, on other buses, have led passengers to be "ejected from these forward facing seats" and suffer "quadriplegic injuries" on at least three occasions, according to transit officials.

In San Francisco, the seats are now locked up, with warning stickers telling passengers not to sit there, according to the newspaper.

But that still hasn't stopped passengers from sitting on the locked-up seats, the paper reports.

<![CDATA[4 Vehicles Set On Fire in San Francisco]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:44:39 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SF-CAR-ARSONS-HENRY-RAW---12553611.jpg

San Francisco police are on the hunt for an arsonist who set four vehicles on fire near Dolores Park Wednesday morning.

It’s the second time in under a month that cars have caught fire in the area. Eight vehicles in less than a month have been set on fire, according to police. This time, someone intentionally set a Mercedes SUV, two Jeeps and a pickup truck on fire, all within about a 10 block radius.

Authorities say the fires broke out within a short amount of time. The 911 calls came in between about 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.

The fires are being investigated as arson, authorities said.

Eric Hartwig’s 2007 Jeep parked at Cumberland and Church was the first vehicle set on fire, police said. He had a simple message for the person who started the blaze: “Please stop!”

Officers responded to a second call about a truck on fire at 17th and Church Street at about 4:45 a.m. About 20 minutes, later another vehicle was reported on fire at Liberty and Rayburn. An hour later, police got one more call about another fire on Rayburn.

Police and fire investigators are interviewing residents to see if they heard or saw anything. They’ll also be checking to see if a surveillance camera might have caught the apparent fire bug.

Back in November, someone set a van and three other vehicles on fire in the same general area of the Mission.

No arrests have been made in either case.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[San Francisco 49ers Release Ray McDonald]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:43:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/ray-mcdonald-new.jpg

The San Francisco 49ers released Ray McDonald on Wednesday after San Jose police revealed the defensive lineman is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault.

"This isn't about just this incident. This is about a pattern of poor decision-making,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. “This is a team decision, not a league decision.”

That pattern, Baalke added, "has led to multiple distractions that no longer can be tolerated."

Police executed a search warrant at McDonald's San Jose home on Tuesday. He has not been arrested. This is the second time in recent months that McDonald has been the subject of a police investigation.

"We just want to inform everybody that after the recent allegations concerning Ray McDonald, we as an organization have notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately. Effective immediately," Baalke said.

Baalke said CEO Jed York and coach Jim Harbaugh, who notified the players, were also involved in the decision. "We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions,'' Baalke said.

In a statement released earlier in the day, SJPD Sgt. Heather Randol said police were called to an area hospital at 10:43 a.m. Tuesday morning regarding a "possible sexual assault victim" who was receiving treatment. Officers spoke to the woman, and she told them she was "possibly assaulted" on Monday.

The "preliminary investigation revealed the alleged suspect was Ray McDonald," Randol said.

The San Jose Police Department Sexual Assaults Investigations Unit  responded to conduct follow-up investigation.  Based on preliminary investigation, detectives secured a search warrant at McDonald's home some time on Tuesday. The woman's identity was not revealed, but two sources told NBC Bay Area that she is not McDonald's fiancee.

Players said they were shocked by the team’s decision to cut McDonald, but understand the reason.

“This is an organization, it’s a franchise,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “You want to have a high standard and we do around here. You have to be able to abide by that.

Reached by phone in Florida on Wednesday, McDonald's mother, Labrina McDonald, said she didn't yet know the full story but insisted it was a "bunch of mess. There's  no truth to it at all."

She added that her son has “cameras all over his house” after his home was broken into, which she said will show that “he’s been targeted.”

“This is just an accusation, anyone can make it. It has no merit to it,” she said. “I don’t like that they’re releasing him, and that this cost him his job.”

She offered no other details, and said her son asked her not to divulge any more.

McDonald was arrested on Aug. 31 after his pregnant fiancee at the time accused him of choking and punching her at his 30th birthday party at his home in San Jose.

On Nov. 10, the Santa Clara County District Attorney decided there was not enough evidence to charge him, Two female prosecutors investigated the altercation, releasing a public memo,  deciding there weren't any "verifiable witnesses." McDonald had steadfastly denied harming his fiancee.

After the arrest, he told CSN Bay Area he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship."

When asked for a comment Wednesday regarding the latest sexual assault allegation, an NFL spokesman said, "We are looking into it."

The Associated Press and CSN Bay Area contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[Grocery Giveaway at Glide Memorial Church]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:08:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/glide2.jpg Volunteers were staffed at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, where 5,000 bags of groceries were expected to be handed out before Christmas. Bob Redell reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Third-Wettest t December for San Jose, at 746% of Average]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:27:20 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/195*120/graphic3.jpg

This is now the third wettest December for San Jose.

If the city, specifically at the San Jose International Airport, receives .16 inches of rain by December's end, then the rainfall will beat a record for the second wettest winter set in 1894 when the same spot received 7.4 inches of rain.

As of early Wednesday morning, San Jose had seen 7.24 inches of rain. And meteorologist Christina Loren predicted the record for No. 2 would be reached by 4 p.m.

Still, the wettest winter on record in San Jose was set in 1955, when the area near the airport saw 9.26 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

So far in San Jose, the city is already at 746 percent of what it normally averages in a typical December, according to National Weather Service data culled over the last 120 years.

Track: Interactive Radar

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the wetted record in San Jose was set in 1894.

Photo Credit: David Parkinson via National Weather Service Data]]>
<![CDATA[Play Lottery, Win Meal at French Laundry]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:09:02 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/tlmd_thefrench_laundry_wikipedia.jpg

Winning this lottery involves no numbers.

Aside from 18: the number of courses at the French Laundry the winner will dine upon.

The San Jose Mercury News reports, starting Jan. 5, the California Lottery will reward one lucky and literary lottery player with a meal at Thomas Keller's famed French Laundry.

All one need do is play an Emerald 10's Scratcher, take a selfie, or other photograph featuring one's self, along with a 500-character caption. What kind of caption? "The best caption they've ever written," according to lottery officials," telling us who they'd share this exceptional dinner with and why."

The single prize, on top of the dinner, includes a two-night stay in Napa at a spa, a special gift from Thomas Keller, and a ride to the restaurant – and the wine pairings for each 18 courses – via a BMW, the newspaper reported.

That's a $6,500 value, according to the lottery.

The French Laundry, it should be noted, has three Michelin stars -- and such a meal costs about $2,500 alone.

<![CDATA[Protest, Sign: Richmond Police Chief Says He'd Do Again]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:19:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/black+lives+matter+boston.jpg

Chris Magnus is serious.

Black lives matter, especially to the chief of police of Richmond.

Magnus, the top cop in the Contra Costa County city, received significant criticism for standing in a protest line holding a sign bearing the message that "#black lives matter." And he'd do it again, he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Magnus, whose department has not fatally shot a member of the public since 2007, and recorded the lowest number of homicides in 33 years in 2013, neither apologized nor rationalized his appearance at the protest on Dec. 9.

Police are upset, but "this is pretty innocuous," he told reporters. "That 'black lives matter' is something I would think we should all be able to agree upon."

At the same time, he said he'd be vehemently opposed to one of his officers rallying in support of Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo. police officer who fatally shot 18-year old Michael Brown in August.

Meanwhile, he says most of the reaction to the sign-holding has been positive.

Photo Credit: Carly Luiza]]>
<![CDATA[Fatal Accident Causes San Jose Road Closure]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 07:40:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_tape_lights_generic2.jpg

Crews on Wednesday worked to clear the scene of an overnight fatal crash involving a stolen vehicle that crashed into a PG&E power pole in San Jose.

Police estimated eastbound Yerba Buena Road would be closed at Chisin Street until 1 p.m. due to a downed power pole.

Officers responded just before midnight to a report of a single-vehicle crash that occurred in the 2100 block of Yerba Buena Road.

Police said the vehicle crashed into a power pole, and a man was killed in the crash. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.

<![CDATA[Jelly Belly Launches Champagne-Flavored Jelly Bean]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:44:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/210*120/eb0a6bbb-da10-47c8-8c0d-1bad347f177e.jpg

Jelly Belly wants in on the Champagne game.

Not to be left out of the New Year's festivities, the Fairfield-based manufacturer of jelly beans has launched a new flavor: sparkling white wine of the French variety.

That'd be a Champagne jelly bean, of course.

Patch.com reports that the company is shipping orders made online in time for New Year's parties, and the beans -- alcohol-free -- are so Champagne-like, they look "like a freshly-poured glass as the foam begins to settle."

Not bad.

You can get a one-pound bag for $8.99 or a 10-pound case for $85.99.

Photo Credit: Jelly Belly]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Cruz Police Nab Serial Graffiti Suspect]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:02:40 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/sc-tag-suspect.jpg

Santa Cruz police are celebrating the arrest of the man they say is behind a string of graffiti tags throughout the Bay Area.

Cops say that Derek Murphy, 21, of Petaluma, is the tagger behind the series of "BERG" and "GREB," police said in their blog.

"It is time to get up on your feet... do "The Wave" and tip your cap to Detective Brian Warren," police wrote.

It's Warren who's credited with chasing down a series of leads that began on June 10 of this year. The BERG and GREB tags began showing up on city parks and police vehicles right around that time.

Tips from San Francisco police led to tips from Sonoma and Napa counties and eventually the identification of Murphy as the tagger, according to the police account.

Murphy was arrested Dec. 15, and a second suspect is not yet identified pending his arrest.

Murphy may be responsible for tags "throughout the west coast from Bakersfield to Seattle," according to police.

Cops say Murphy is responsible for "numerous tags... along Bay Area freeways."

Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Berkeley Sounds Off About Police Behavior, Tear Gas]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:26:00 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/berk_protest_meetings.jpg

Protesters at Berkeley's city council meeting delivered their message against police brutality loud and clear Tuesday night.

Berkeley’s city council meeting was moved to Longfellow Middle School because the mayor wanted to hold it in a large venue to accommodate crowds of people.

The crowd was smaller Tuesday night, probably because of the bad weather, but the topic was a hot button issue--alleged police brutality.

"This city is the most progressive city or one of them in this nation, and for this to be the first place where my 60-year-old friend was ever tear gassed is disgusting,” one speaker said at the meeting.

There were dozens of speakers at Berkeley’s rescheduled city council meeting Tuesday night, and their message was the same.

“Those Berkeley police department used excessive force on very innocent black youth,” another speaker said.

Speakers had to wait a week-and-a-half to confront the mayor and council members about alleged excessive force during the Ferguson demonstration on December 6 in Berkeley.

"I saw one guy got shot in the back with this, this is what they were firing," another speaker said. "If I were standing one foot to the left I would have got hit by this as well,” a protester said.

Protesters vandalized businesses and there many arrests.

“Mayor Bates, you defended the police riot on protesters the next day and blamed students who were beaten unprovoked by the police. That is a scandal," BAMN National Organizer Yvette Felarca said.

Bates said he defended Berkeley police.

"I believe we have the best police force in the U.S.," he said. "They use the right amount of force. I’m very proud of them. If somebody stepped over the line and did something that was bad, we’ll look into that. And we aren't going to shuffle things under the rug, and if we need to discipline people, we'll discipline people.”

The mayor said he will hold a special council meeting in January to talk about how police handle large crowds and to look at the role of the district attorney, and who will investigate police actions.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA["State of Emergency" in North Bay After Storms]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:58:33 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/216*120/Novato+Levee+Breach+1.jpg

The boards of supervisors in two North Bay counties proclaimed states of emergencies on Tuesday night, saying the damage because of the rains and flooding have reached at least $18 million in both their areas.

Sonoma County board of supervisors spokeswoman Rebecca Wachsberg said damage estimates there have reached at least $17 million. And the Marin County board of supervisors estimated the damage there to be at leat $1 million.

Both declarations allow the counties to apply for state and federal aid to help pay for repairs. 

The Marin County board ratification came one day after county administrator Matthew Hymel proclaimed a local emergency, and hours after a mudslide closed Tennesse Valley Road, which leads to a popular hiking trail.  In addition, one of the levees near downtown Novato was intentionally breached as an emergency measure to lower flood water on Novato Creek. And a portion of Highway 1 near Muir Woods crumbled last week.

The entire Bay Area has been drenched with rain - much needed after three years of drought - but the precipitation has most severely damaged the North Bay,  including residents of Tiburon, where a hillside crumbled into residents' backyards.

Marin County spokesman Brent Ainsworth said this is the fourth such state of emergency proclamation because of storms in the last decade. The board of supervisors declared states of emergencies in 2005, 2006 and 2011, as well.

But just because a county asks for state help, doesn't mean they get it all. In 2005, for example, the county suffered $12 million in damages, and Ainsworth said FEMA reimbursed the county for $8 million of it.

There is at least one silver lining to all the storm damage in Marin County, about an hour's drive north of San Francisco - four of the seven county reservoirs are full, and the others are nearly flush with water.

Updates: Interactive Radar and Severe Weather Alerts

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Marin County
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<![CDATA[Menlo Park Water Main Break Floods Homes]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 00:59:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/garage_flooding_menlo1.jpg The Peninsula got hit hard by the storm Tuesday night and not just by the driving rain. A water main break flooded homes in Menlo Park. NBC Bay Area's Terry McSweeney reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Four Arrested in South Bay Chain Snatchings]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 21:33:05 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SJPD-Seal.jpg

Four robbery suspects have been arrested for bold chain snatching thefts that have plagued the South Bay in 2014.

Surveillance video caught one man walk up to a woman and attack her to steal her necklace. The suspect then took off as people ran to help the victim.

He and three others were arrested, accused of snatching necklaces across the South Bay.

Investigators from many agencies used security videos from several businesses to track down the suspects. But authorities are still searching for more and additional victims.

Officials are also trying to find the owner of the necklace seen in the video, which may have been stolen in East San Jose sometime last November.

San Jose police is urging those with information to call them.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>