A.M. Splash: Alameda Co. Closes ‘Sweepstakes’ Cafes; Lawsuit Charges SF Housing Corruption; ACLU Calls for More English Classes

  • Alameda County ready to close Internet ‘sweepstakes’ cafes (Hayward Daily Review)
    Less than a year after Net Connection Internet cafe opened its doors on Hesperian Boulevard, county officials are trying to close it and a string of similar businesses in unincorporated neighborhoods after the state declared them illegal gambling operations. Net Connection sells customers Internet time and, in turn, access to online sweepstakes games for a minimum $5 fee. Payouts at Net Connection can reach $1,000, according to an online review of the operation. A private security officer stands guard outside the door.

  • SF Housing Authority contracts questioned (SF Chronicle)
    A lawyer for the San Francisco Housing Authority says it pays to have friends at the agency – literally. Two contracts awarded by the public housing agency last year and obtained by The Chronicle have raised suspicions among employees and comprise the meat of new allegations in a lawsuit filed by the agency’s attorney, Tim Larsen, against his boss, director Henry Alvarez.

  • ACLU pushes English classes for 20,000 California kids (Associated Press)
    The American Civil Liberties Union of California on Wednesday charged that about a quarter of California school districts are violating state and federal laws by failing to provide English language instruction to all students who need it and demanded state education officials take action. The ACLU, along with the Asian Pacific Legal Center, sent a letter to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and state school board members stating that it will file a lawsuit if English classes are not provided to some 20,000 students within 30 days.

  • HIV-Resistant Cells Created By Stanford Researchers Could Protect Patients From AIDS (Huffington Post)
    Researchers at Stanford University have created HIV-resistant T-cells, a breakthrough that, if proven successful in humans, could potentially stop the virus from developing into AIDS. The discovery was announced in Tuesday’s issue of Molecular Therapy, and according to researchers, could replace lifelong drug treatments and protect the immune systems of those infected.

  • San Francisco has no plans to show Super Bowl in Civic Center Plaza (SF Examiner)
    Giants fans flocked to Civic Center Plaza in 2010 and 2012 to watch the team win the World Series. But for the Super Bowl, as of now there are no plans to broadcast the 
Feb. 3 game outside City Hall. “I don’t think we are permitted to do one,” Mayor Ed Lee said of showing the 49ers game. “No Jumbotron for the Super Bowl.” The NFL on Wednesday did not respond to questions about why San Francisco would not be able to show the game to a crowd of nonpaying viewers.

  • Governor Brown, Democrats may clash over spending (SJ Mercury News)
    Gov. Jerry Brown will take center stage Thursday morning when he gives his State of the State address. But he’ll have to keep his eye on restless Democratic lawmakers — fresh off winning two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the Legislature — who consider themselves equal partners in a brand new era of political dominance. The irony is that the governor’s own party’s power surge could be as much of a headache for Brown as were the Republicans, who thwarted him on tax hike measures over the last two years.

  • Big jump in U.S. government requests for Google user data (SJ Mercury News)
    The United States again leads the world in official requests for Google users’ personal information. That’s according to Google’s “transparency” report released Wednesday. In the second half of 2012, Google received 8,476 requests for information, up 6 percent from the first half of 2012.

  • Stop-and-frisk, Bratton generate heat (SF Chronicle)
    Famed lawman William Bratton was pilloried by hundreds of Oakland activists who fear he will bring “stop-and-frisk” tactics to the city. But they’re already here. In fact, the practice is widely used by police across the country and hardly new: The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed its legality nearly a half century ago.

  • John Mackey book tour something to chew on (SF Chronicle)
    The founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market has been in the Bay Area the last few days trying to promote his new book, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” (Harvard Business Review Press), but all anyone wants to talk about is his controversial comments on Obamacare and climate change. On NPR several weeks ago, Mackey was asked whether he thought the president’s health care plan was a form of socialism. “Technically speaking,” he said, “it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it – and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.” He later backtracked, telling “CBS This Morning” that “it was a bad choice of words on my part.” On the issue of climate change, he told Mother Jones, “Climate change is perfectly natural and not necessarily bad.”

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