Category Archives: San Francisco

No More Gun Shows At SF’s Cow Palace If CA Sen. Scott Wiener Gets His Way

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – A new California senate bill would put an end to gun shows at the Cow Palace, an issue that has been the subject of debate for years. Known as SB281, the measure would also transfer ownership of the event space to a new board made up of local representatives.

The Cow Palace has been a fixture in the Bay Area since it opened almost 80 years ago, and one group says if the bill passes, it would effectively lead to the arena being torn down.

A local cheerleading competition occupied the main amphitheater at the Cow Palace on Saturday, as cheers and pop music echoed through the concrete hallways. It’s one of hundreds of small community events held her every year.

“It promotes shows here that can’t afford Oracle arena. This cheerleading event can’t afford the Chase Arena because it’s a cheerleading event, not the Warriors,” says Kevin Patterson. He is the Executive Director of the Coalition to Save the Cow Palace. He also organizes the Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace every year.

Patterson is concerned for the future of the Cow Palace because of SB 281.

The measure was introduced by state Senator Scott Wiener, last month. It would transfer ownership of the Cow Palace from the State Department of Agriculture to a joint-powers authority, made up of representatives from San Francisco, Daly City and San Mateo County.

Wiener says the Cow Palace has outlived its usefulness. He says the site needs millions of dollars of maintenance and repairs to be a viable events space moving forward, adding there are plenty of alternative locations for these types of community events.

“This is about making sure that the local community can actually have a say in what happens at the Cow Palace and what the future holds,” said Sen. Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco.

One of the main reasons there is so much interest in the property is its size. Almost 70 acres, the Cow Palace has 250,000 square feet of events space and a 14,000-seat amphitheater.

“It’s right now being very under-utilized. The community has wanted something to happen with that property for a long time. Housing, mixed use development,” said Wiener.

Patterson worries if a local board takes control, they will only look at the value of the real estate. He thinks the board may not consider the importance of the Cow Palace as an affordable community events space. Each year it hosts everything from the Grand National Rodeo, to dog shows, to the Christmas Fair.

He also points out the history of the Cow Palace. There are dozens of signatures on the box office wall from some of the greatest artists of our time, like Elvis Presley, who performed at the Cow Palace in 1970.

“It’s not the place to solve the housing crisis, that’s for sure. There are lots of other places to build houses. You don’t need to bulldoze history and an important community asset,” said Patterson.

Senator Wiener says the bill does not dictate what happens with the property. That will be up to you he newly created joint powers authority board. He said there could be a compromise.

“You can have the Cow Palace there, and also take a portion of this mega-massive parking lot and turn it into housing and retail,” said Wiener.

If the SB281 passes, it would pass ownership of the Cow Palace to the local board on January 1, 2021.

There is a sub-committee hearing scheduled next Wednesday to discuss the bill.

Man Accused Of Smuggling Electronics To Russia Faces Charges In SF Federal Court

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Russian-born Estonian citizen has been extradited to face charges in federal court in San Francisco of illegally buying specialized microelectronic components and smuggling them to Russia.

Valery Kosmachov, 66, a Russian native who became a naturalized Estonian citizen, was indicted under seal by a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Sept. 21, 2017.

He was arrested in Tallinn, Estonia, one year later and was extradited to the United States on March 14.

The indictment, unsealed Wednesday, alleges that some of the smuggled chips and other components had potential military as well as civilian uses.

Kosmachov and a co-defendant named in the indictment, Russian citizen Sergey Vetrov, 66, are accused of using two Estonian companies they owned as fronts to export the components between 2012 and 2014 by representing that the end users were in Estonia. They allegedly then smuggled the items to Russia.

Vetrov has not been apprehended, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons. The U.S. and Russia do not have an extradition agreement.

Kosmachov pleaded not guilty to the charges before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on March 15. At another court appearance on Wednesday, he waived a detention hearing and agreed to remain in custody for the time being.

Kosmachov’s next appearance is before U.S. District Judge William Orrick on March 28.

Kosmachov and Vetrov are each accused of 52 counts of 52 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and violation of the federal International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which forbids the unlicensed export of items of potential military use.

The charges include conspiracy to export unlicensed electronic components to Russia; 12 counts of exporting unlicensed items; 21 counts of smuggling items by means of false paperwork; conspiracy to launder money; and 17 counts of laundering money by transferring funds from an Estonian bank to U.S. banks to pay for the exports.

The charges each carry possible maximum sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison if the defendants are convicted.

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act, enacted by Congress in 1977, authorizes presidents to declare a national emergency to regulate international commerce when there is an unusual or extraordinary threat to the nation’s security, foreign policy or economy.

Since 2001, according to the indictment, U.S. presidents have used that authority to order continuous one-year extensions of the Export Administration Act, which expired in 2001 and which restricted the unlicensed export of items with potential military use.

 

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Phil Collins, WWE Latest Acts Announced At Chase Center

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Renowned English musician Phil Collins and the WWE were the latest entertainment announced to appear at the soon-to-be-open Chase Center in San Francisco, Golden State Warriors and arena officials said Thursday.

Collins, who has sold 100 million records during his career, will perform in the city on Oct. 17 at the 18,064-seat arena located in the Mission Bay neighborhood, team officials said.

Tickets will go on-sale to the general public on March 30 at 10 a.m., with a presale available on March 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Those wishing to register for the pre-sale should visit https://philcollins.ontouraccess.com.

Chase Center officials at 2 p.m. announced that the arena will host WWE Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live, though the exact date and time for both events, along with ticket information, will not be announced until a later date.

The next act to appear at the Center is scheduled to be announced Friday at 4 p.m. There have been other acts revealed all week, starting Monday with the announcement that Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony will perform at the arena’s inaugural event on Sept. 6.

Other acts that have been announced include classical singer Andrea Bocceli (who will perform with the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus on December 5, 2019), EDM group the Chainsmokers and rock bands the Black Keys and the Dave Matthews Band.

For more information on the Chase Center, people can visit www.chasecenter.com.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Starbucks Testing Compostable, Recyclable Cups In San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF / CNN) — After years of looking for greener alternatives to its paper cup — which is lined with plastic — Starbucks is testing out something new in San Francisco.

The company announced on Wednesday that it is testing out a compostable cup in San Francisco and four other locations — New York, Seattle, Vancouver and London. Starbucks showed one of the cups being tested during its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

The new cup looks just like Starbucks’ current paper cup. The difference is inside, where instead of a plastic liner, a biodegradable liner serves as a barrier to make sure liquid doesn’t leak out. That liner, developed by a Thailand-based company, makes the cup compostable in commercial composting facilities, which are rare.

Though the innovation may appear small to consumers, it’s a big moment for Starbucks, which has been struggling to find a greener alternative to its cup for three decades.

Most recently, in 2018, Starbucks committed to the NextGen Cup Challenge. Along with other food companies, Starbucks and Closed Loop Partners, a recycling-focused investor group, crowdsourced solutions for greener cups from the public. In February, the company announced 12 winners, including greener cup liners, barriers and cups themselves.

Now, Starbucks is ready to start testing out some of those winning ideas.

Technically, Starbucks’ paper cups can be recycled — but in practice, they usually are not. Most facilities don’t recycle paper cups because to do so, they would have to separate the cups’ plastic lining from the paper. Many recyclers find that process to be more trouble than it’s worth. If those facilities try to recycle paper cups without separating out materials first, the plastic lining can jam up their machines.

The cities where Starbucks is testing out its compostable cups are already set up to recycle paper cups with plastic linings, including the traditional Starbucks cup.

“We want to play a leading role in helping around the sustainability of the planet. And that means serving our coffee in sustainable packaging,” CEO Kevin Johnson told CNN Business. “We think there’s a better solution.”

In order for the plan to work, Starbucks customers will have to dispose of the cups in recycling bins in the test markets. Environmental advocates point out that’s a major challenge because it requires the company to change customer behavior.

“While utilizing less plastic is important, this announcement does not do nearly enough to address the plastic pollution crisis that the company contributes to,” Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges said in a statement. “Just because packaging is recyclable or compostable in an industrial facility, does not mean it will be recycled or composted.”

Melges said that Starbucks should also invest more in reusable cups. Although the company offers a small discount to customers who bring their own mugs, that effort has failed to gain traction. As of spring 2017, only 1.4% of Starbucks’ beverages were sold in reusable cups. Some of the NextGen Cup winners included reusable cup systems, and Starbucks said it is working to see if any of those proposals are feasible.

On Wednesday, the company also shared that it will roll out recyclable, strawless lids to all stores in the United States and Canada over the next year. The lids are made with 9% less plastic than the current lid and straws, Starbucks said.

The coffee company first announced strawless lids over the summer as a way to help it phase out plastic straws, which were the target of consumer backlash.

Overall, Starbucks still has a long way to go before the company will be satisfied in its quest to develop a greener cup.

“We have a lot of work to do on understanding these cup technologies, how they scale, how they work in the cup manufacturing environment, and then of course how they flow through the waste management infrastructures,” said Rebecca Zimmer, Starbucks’ global director of environment.

© Copyright 2019 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

San Francisco Police Officer Hospitalized After Altercation In Tenderloin

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A San Francisco police officer was hospitalized after being injured in an altercation with a woman in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood on Wednesday morning, a police spokesman said.

At 6:37 a.m., the officer contacted the woman, who police spokesman Officer Robert Rueca described as being “in crisis” and trespassing at a property in the 200 block of Turk Street.

An altercation ensued that led to injuries to the officer, who was eventually taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, Rueca said.

The officer called for assistance and other officers arrived around 7:20 a.m. The woman was taken into custody but will be cited and released for trespassing, according to Rueca. Her name was not released.

Officers were clearing the area and reopening the street as of shortly after 8 a.m., Rueca said.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Experimental Therapy Gives Children With Genetic Disorders A New Chance At Life

by Juliette Goodrich and Molly McCrea

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Imagine giving birth to what appears to be a healthy baby, only to discover your newborn has a devastating disease and will have to fight every day to stay alive.

While these children and their families would have faced grim prospects in the past, today an experimental gene therapy is giving them a new chance in life.

The landmark clinical trial for the therapy recently happened at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay in San Francisco. Inside, doctors performed six daring, complex brain surgeries on six children — ranging in age from 5 to 9 — with life-changing results.

The trial unfolded inside a specially designed hybrid operating room that combines an innovative surgical theater with an MRI. The neurosurgeons allowed KPIX 5 to go into the hybrid room to see the remarkable technology first hand.

In the specialized room, a team of doctors conducted the trial as a small number of parents took a giant leap of faith.

“We are really lucky to have this. And we have to take the chance,” explained Ashlee Lo, the mother of 6-year-old Alex.

Three of the six families spoke to KPIX 5. They all expressed their deep desire to help their kids.

“I was wondering, you know, is it something they can do for my daughter?” said Kaili Qu, remembering what she thought when she first heard of the therapy for her 9-year-old daughter Sellina.

“To be able to provide for her what she wants or what she needs,” remarked Albert Lou as he held his 7-year-old daughter Audrey’s hand.

In each family, there is a child who was born with a defective gene that causes an extremely rare disorder.

The inherited problem is so rare, only about 100 cases have been documented in the scientific literature. Roughly 25 cases have been identified in Asia, but experts explain it impact all races and ethnicities.

The disorder is called AADC deficiency. “AADC” stands for “aromatic l-amino acid decarboxylase.”

In children who have inherited the defective gene that leads to AADC deficiency, they are unable to make an enzyme that creates critical neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters include dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are important for motion and cognition. The disability leaves the children locked in their bodies. Severe cases can lead to premature death within the first 7 years of life.   These children suffer from severe developmental delays.

“They cannot walk, they cannot talk, they cannot feed themselves and as a result, they require lifelong care,” explained Dr. Nalin Gupta. Dr. Gupta is chief of pediatric neurosurgery at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and involved in the trial.

The children have no muscle tone. The children have no ability to control any of their body parts. They can’t lift up their heads, or sit up on their own.

“If you pick him up, it feels like you’re picking up a pile of Jell-O. He kind of falls between your arms,” explained Alex’s father James Lo.

Catching a cold can kill them. They are unable to cough up any mucus.  The winter months are perilous.

“She was checked into the hospital nearly every single month,” said Carrie She who is Audrey’s mom.

They suffer painful involuntary movements that can last for hours. The condition is known as an “oculogyric crisis.” This event is characterized by the eyes deviating extremely upward, laterally or downward where they remained fixed and causes pain. It is extremely frightening for family members.

“It’s heartbreaking to see these children being affected by this disease.’ remarked Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz. Dr. Bankiewicz is a neurologist who holds many titles at UCSF as well as numerous patents that focus on powerful new approaches to treating brain diseases.

He explained because these children can’t make important neurotransmitters, they barely sleep. That means the parents are severely sleep deprived as well

“20 minutes to 2 hours that’s all,” said Ashlee Lo, describing the longest her son Alex sleeps at night.

Sellina’s mom Kaili explained how her daughter was always yawning and looked perpetually exhausted. “She mostly sleeps in the early morning, like 3 AM, but then the slightest sound wakes here up. Her sleep is very light,” remarked Kaili.

Because AADC deficiency is so rare, there is limited clinical expertise and virtually no industry incentive to develop any treatments.   But now, there’s an experimental therapy.

“We just feel like we are very fortunate,” said Alex’s dad James.

These parents are all internet savvy, and found out about the trial online. They gleaned valuable information from the AADC Research Trust which is based in the United Kingdom. The trust is a charity organization that is dedicated to helping these children and their families. The trust has identified 130 children in 26 different countries who have been correctly diagnosed with AADC deficiency.

KPIX 5 discovered how these parents had been tracking the progress of the Bankiewicz lab for years.  The lab team had already deployed an innovative approach to deliver a gene therapy to Parkinson’s patient with long-lasting results. They understood how Dr. Bankiewicz and his team would soon attempt the similar approach with children suffering from this ultra-rare disease.

Once the FDA gave UCSF permission to proceed with the clinical trial, these families monitored, and jumped on board.

“They’re really pioneering this,” remarked Dr. Bankiewicz.

Dr.  Bankiewicz developed a way to replace the defective gene in these children by delivering millions of healthy copies deep into the child’s brain.

These good genes are tucked inside a disabled virus.

“So sort of like a Trojan Horse,” remarked Dr. Bankiewicz.

The virus slips into the brain cells and is then able to deliver the good genes.

“We have to be very clever to do it in a way that doesn’t damage other cells,” explained Dr. Gupta.

In the trial, the neurosurgeon needed to first drill a small hole into each child’s skull.

Using a sophisticated MRI, and special software, Dr. Gupta watched as he navigated a fine hollow needle thru the small hole to the exact right spot in the brain. Then thru the hollow needle, the gene therapy was delivered.

“Then we actually infuse a solution that contains the virus and the corrected gene,” said Dr. Gupta.

As to the benefit? KPIX 5 saw all the children after their surgeries, and the results were astounding.

All the children can now sit up on their own, and lift their heads. Their painful attacks have disappeared. And they all sleep better.

“It was a great surprise,” exclaimed Alex’s dad James.

Alex now interacts with his family. In fact, for the first time, there is sibling rivalry. He notices when his little sister Claire gets attention from mother and will express displeasure.  The brother and sister are now learning more about each other. His mother is thrilled.

“We’re really blessed and so fortunate,” said Alex’s mom Ashlee.

It is now clear that Sellina understands both Mandarin and English. For the first time, she can go to school.

KPIX 5 asked Sellina if she liked going to classes and she responded in the affirmative.

Sellina was the first out to get out of her wheelchair, and try to walk. The neuroscientists were astounded and pleased.

Audrey is also determined to get places. She most recently tried out a walker. She is swimming, kicking thru the water, and holding her head up.

Audrey is also practicing how to eat and swallow. Prior to the gene therapy, these children were all fed through a gastronomy tube, where a tube is inserted through the abdomen and nutrition enters the stomach directly.

“It’s just amazing that we’re living in this era: technology and science!  We’re very grateful and thankful,” exclaimed Audrey’s father Albert Lou.

The scientists are grateful for the families, and the families are grateful their children now have a new chance at life.

“A new start … a new start,” said Audrey’s mom Carrie Shi.

“Yes, yes, it’s a new life,” remarked Sellina’s mom Kaili.

“He’s really, really happy,” said Alex’s mom Ashlee.

“What I’m hoping for is that we get other leaps in the future,” said Audrey’s dad Albert Lou.

UCSF is now continuing the trial with other children, with the blessings of the FDA.

The treatment has the potential to set the standard to treat other neurological diseases caused by a single gene defect.

Links:

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital

Oculogyric Crisis

AADC Research Trust

Bankiewicz Lab at UCSF

Nalin Gupta, MD, PhD

Kristof Bankiewicz, MD, PhD

AADC Deficiency Clinical Trial at UCSF