A.M. Splash: Hantavirus Outbreak Stumps Specialists; Robotic Future Planned for Bay Area; Fetishes Flourish at Folsom Fair

  • Hantavirus outbreak puzzles experts (SF Chronicle)

    The deadly outbreak of hantavirus in Yosemite National Park has sent disease experts and rodent researchers scrambling for answers as people across the country second-guess their plans to visit California’s most famous landscape. The California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are trying to figure out why the mouse-borne virus struck suddenly, spread quickly and infected so many people this summer, but not in any other years. One prominent theory is that the mysterious cluster of hantavirus cases was caused by a skyrocketing mouse population in Yosemite Valley.

  • Robot culture blossoms in Bay Area (Oakland Tribune)
    They may not look exactly like their goofy, gangly ancestors on ’60s TV. But the robots have begun to arrive — and many of them are being sired right here in the Bay Area. “The robotics community here is pushing envelopes all over the place,” said Andra Keay with Silicon Valley Robotics, which supports the innovation and commercialization of robotic technologies and has about 40 members. “You’ve got a whole group of smaller startups in San Francisco, while the South Bay tends to do more industrial and health care robots.” At a group networking event earlier this month, many of the Bay Area’s most creative roboticists were on hand to talk shop, show off prototypes and collectively ponder a future that robots will increasingly inhabit right alongside us.

  • $245M program under way for new airport body scanners (California Watch)

    Airports in California could soon see the second generation of full-body scanners used to detect nonmetallic weapons and improvised explosive devices after earlier machines raised privacy and health concerns. Following a solicitation process that began in February, the Transportation Security Administration last week selected two contractors as part of a $245 million program for body scanners that first must be tested at a Transportation Security Administration laboratory and systems integration facility before being operationally tested at airports.

  • Calif. doctor at center of fat-reduction device controversy(California Watch)
    In a complaint filed with the Medical Board of California, a consumer advocacy group is claiming that a physician’s use of a massage machine for weight loss is endangering patients. Public Citizen has alleged that Dr. Gail Altschuler, a California physician who runs a Novato weight loss center, and other doctors who use and promote a medical device called the LipoTron for fat reduction are demonstrating a “reckless disregard for the health and welfare of patients.”

  • 50 shades of fetish at Folsom St. Fair (SF Chronicle)

    Suburbia may be open to the idea of bondage-tinged romance, thanks to the best-selling “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy, but may not be ready for the Folsom Street Fair just yet. Among the costumed participants at the 29th annual leather and fetish fair, which drew an estimated 400,000 people to Folsom Street on Sunday to celebrate alternative sexuality, were men in leather chaps and studded vests and police-like hats; citizens in latex bodysuits and hoods that covered their faces; and women in corsets and fishnet stockings carrying whips.

  • Trader Joe’s recalls peanut butter tied to illness(Oakland Tribune)

    The grocery store chain Trader Joe’s is recalling peanut butter that has been linked to 29 salmonella illnesses in 18 states. The Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control said Saturday that the store’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, which is sold nationwide, is the likely source of the outbreak. The agencies are investigating whether any other items sold at the store could be contaminated.

  • Low garage fees cut Rec and Park revenue (SF Chronicle)

    Paying less to keep your car in one of the city’s parking garages may be good for drivers, but it’s sending the Recreation and Park Department’s bottom line into a skid. Rec and Park – an agency that’s struggled with budget cuts – is projecting it will bring in $3.1 million less than budgeted at the five parking garages it owns, according to a recently released monthly financial report for August.

  • Santa Clara elementary principal busted with methamphetamine for sale, police say (Bay Area News Group)

    The principal of a Santa Clara elementary school faces drug sales charges after investigators found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine at his San Francisco home, authorities said Sunday. Agents arrested Eric Dean Lewis, 42, principal of Montague Elementary, on Friday. The arrest occurred at a Caltrain station where Lewis had arranged to meet an undercover agent he contacted through a gay dating website, said California Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory.

  • Football fans zapped at Raiders game in Oakland (Oakland Tribune)

    Two football fans were rushed to the hospital Sunday from the Raiders game after they raised a flag pole into a high-voltage power line, authorities said. The people had electrical burns from the roughly 8:35 a.m. incident in the northeast parking lot at the Coliseum near Baldwin Court, said Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Darin White. Their injuries were not considered life threatening, he added.

  • Silicon Valley electric car show leaves the hobbyists behind (Oakland Tribune)

    On National Plug In Day, the newest in electric vehicles were on display Sunday at De Anza College in Cupertino. What used to be a gathering of geeks who built eccentric vehicles in their garages has become more like a regular, commercial car show. “I don’t know where all the hobbyists went,” said Frank Bletsch, who sat quietly behind his hand-built “Electric Urban Micro Hauler,” a tall, three-wheeled contraption with a short cargo bed. “It’s become more commercial.” Most visitors to the 40th show put on by the Silicon Valley chapter of the Electric Auto Association gravitated to commercially manufactured or customized electric cars, motorcycles or bicycles that could get them to work and back on the same day, or to Lake Tahoe with speed and style.

  • Rival District 1 candidate David Lee questions Eric Mar backers (SF Examiner)
    Mudslinging has started in the fierce head-to-head battle over who will represent the Richmond neighborhood as incumbent Supervisor Eric Mar is being blasted about contributions to his campaign. Former Recreation and Park Commissioner David Lee is characterizing Mar as the super PACs darling. “Don’t let SuperPACs buy this election,” the ad says.

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