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uber driver allegedly hunted, attacked intoxicated women

uber users are being warned to make sure the driver who picks them up is the same one shown on the app, after an uber driver allegedly sexually assaulted four female college students in the san luis obispo area.uber driver alfonso alarcon-nunez, 39, allegedly used uber’s system to scout potential victims seeking a ride, then would nip in before the selected driver arrived, and make the pickup himself, authorities said.“he targeted highly intoxicated women returning from parties and downtown san luis obispo,” said sophia mathews, spokeswoman for the san luis obispo county district attorney.three of the women attacked were cal poly students and one was a cuesta college student. two were 19, one 21 and one 22. the women were assaulted in december and january, with the most recent incident jan. 14, the tribune in san luis obispo reported.alarcon-nunez is suspected of driving the women to their homes and assaulting them there, mathews said.“what police have reported is absolutely horrifying, and something no person should ever have to experience,” an uber spokesperson said monday. “we have been working with law enforcement to provide them with information for their investigation, and the driver has been permanently removed from the app.”alarcon-nunez pleaded not guilty on jan. 22 to 10 charges including raping an intoxicated person and grand theft of personal property. he remains in custody with bail set at nearly $1.5 million, the district attorney said.the accused...





renée fleming stays real, as well as glamorous and talented – the mercury news

the great female opera singers are often depicted as pampered and demanding, reveling in their own fabulousness. opera legend renée fleming, however, has always been known for being friendly and down-to-earth, as well as immensely talented. she’s glamorous, but unwaveringly genuine.in a career spanning more than 30 years, she has performed for heads of state and royalty. she has thrilled audiences around the globe with her magnificent soprano voice. but fleming doesn’t seek to be glorified. she just wants to do everything she can to spread the joy of music.she is often referred to as “the people’s diva.”“i think that’s the perfect oxymoron. it’s absolutely terrific,” fleming said, reached by phone en route to a concert date.fleming has performed at the world’s most prestigious concert halls and opera stages, but also in other settings, including the super bowl, president obama’s inauguration and the 2008 olympics in beijing. she even appeared on “sesame street” and sang a top 10 list for david letterman. her aim is to help open up general audiences to opera, removing the sense the genre might be an elitist form.“frankly, today, given the amount of information we’re bombarded with every day, it’s very difficult for classical musicians and the classical arts in general to get any kind of mainstream traction,” fleming said. “if people don’t know about it, they’re not going to come. so it’s important for all of these art forms that we tr...





congress ends shutdown on promise of action for 'dreamers'

by sean sullivan, ed o’keefe and elise viebeck | washington postwashington – after three days of contentious negotiations and name-calling, congress voted to end a government shutdown monday when democrats agreed to trust the word of majority leader mitch mcconnell.president donald trump signed the spending bill monday evening.the impact of the shutdown, which began at midnight friday, was minimal, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers unsure of what the week would bring – but apparently stretching into just one workday.start your day with the news you need from the bay area and beyond. sign up for our new morning report weekday newsletter.lawmakers agreed to fund the government through feb. 8 after mcconnell, r-ky., promised to address the status of young immigrants called “dreamers” who were brought to this country illegally as children.the pact came at a time when trust has been in short supply on capitol hill – and it unnerved liberal activists who aren’t sure mcconnell will fulfill his promise.mcconnell delivered a carefully worded speech on the senate floor, stating that it was his “intention” to address the dreamer issue, whether in the next spending bill or thereafter. he did not offer a specific promise to protect dreamers, and he suggested he would offer nothing if government shuts down again, but he said he would follow an evenhanded process.even if such a bill passed the senate, it remained entirely unclear monday how it would fair in ...





unwieldy script diminishes ‘peter and the starcatcher’ – the mercury news

like the unrelenting flu going around these days, mid-peninsula theaters seem to be experiencing an incurable (but sometimes irreverently funny) case of the “wackys.”first was los altos stage company’s excellent “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” last april, then dragon production theatre’s passionate production of “the further adventures of hedda gabler” last fall, and now hillbarn theatre in foster city takes theatergoers on an equally insane — and even more madcap — adventure with “peter and the starcatcher,” through feb 4.there’s a presumption with rick elice’s loopy 2009 play (based on the 2004 dave barry-ridley pearson novel) that people are interested in learning this much about what actors call the “back story” behind j. m. barrie’s beloved “peter pan,” which had a stellar run at palo alto players last november.that’s not altogether untrue, but it’s also not altogether true.  and while some of the raunchy humor of “starcatcher” is distasteful for long-time theatergoers, it goes over big with exactly the right age audience theaters seek to attract these days: millennials.yet for some in the opening night audience last friday night, the overly long, occasionally tedious and frequently difficult to hear (or even understand) first act was enough of a turnoff that some left or were heard to remark, “hopefully that’s the end” at intermission.it’s not that jeffrey lo didn’t direct the dickens out of his versatile, har...





‘stay’ is a very important command to teach to a dog – the mercury news

dear miss behavin’: i’m trying to teach my 2-year-old labrador to “stay” when i’m working on my car in the garage. she listens most of the time, but yesterday i told her to “stay” and she darted into the street to greet our neighbor’s dogs who were walking by. how can i stop her from doing that?reply: in many ways a 2-year-old dog is still very much a puppy. depending on her previous training and history, you might not be able to rely on her staying put just yet. a reliable “stay” is very important not only for a dog’s safety, but also for managing impulse control and situations where your dog truly needs to stay put.if she understands the basic fundamentals of a “stay” but isn’t reliable, continue practicing but set her up to succeed. by using a long line or tether when supervised outside, you can ensure her safety but still give her the opportunity to be successful in her “stay.” keep in mind that this behavior can be one of the most challenging to train and maintain. continued practice is the best recipe for success.the beauty of a long line or extended lead is that she won’t actually be able to get away from you or cross the street if she breaks her “stay.” you could also keep her leash attached and let it drag on the ground giving you the option to step on it when asking her to “stay.”the next time a dog walks by, give her the “stay” cue and step on the long line or lead. if she stays put, reward her. if she stands up or brea...





warriors forward andre iguodala probable for tuesday's game against knicks

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what’s everybody watching? – the mercury news

what’s everybody watching?while desperately searching for a topic for researching this week’s column, i found myself reading through the wikipedia entry for “january 19,” and discovered that on this day 65 years ago, nearly three quarter of americans with television sets watched that week’s episode of “i love lucy.” and from the episode’s wikipedia description, it’s easy to see why this was “must see tv”:“january 19, 1953: almost 72% of all television sets in the united states are tuned into ‘i love lucy’ to watch lucy give birth.”whoa! talk about pulling out all the stops for sweeps week! in 1953 no less!ok, ok — before any of you compose condescending emails to me with openings like “dear chowderhead,” i know that this episode didn’t literally depict lucy while giving birth. in fact, wikipedia further notes that scripts for the episode “were reviewed by a rabbi, a minister, and a priest in order to make sure it would not be offensive.” which makes sense for a sitcom since, as we’ve learned from countless jokes, putting a rabbi, a minister and a priest together is comedy gold. in fact, i’m surprised they didn’t also run the scripts by a guy who walks into a bar.like the palo alto daily news facebook page for neighborhood news and conversation from palo alto, menlo park, mountain view, redwood city and beyond.still, it’s kind of a shame that the network didn’t take audiences into the delivery room, since viewers would have n...





another east bay city sues oil companies over climate change – the mercury news

richmond — accusing the oil industry of concealing that it knew long ago that gasoline and oil use was warming up the planet, richmond has joined the ranks of cities and counties suing oil companies to cover the cost of shoring up shorelines from rising sea levels.richmond  — home to the chevron oil refinery, largest in the bay area — named chevron, shell, exxon-mobil, bp, conoco phillips and 24 other oil, gas and coal companies in a lawsuit filed monday in contra costa county superior court.the lawsuit alleges that the oil companies knew for 50 years that greenhouse gases from widespread fossil fuel use would contribute to rising sea levels, but the industry spent large sums on public relations campaigns to hide the truth.“the fossil fuel industry could have taken steps to transition to a lower carbon future, but they didn’t,” richmond mayor tom butt said. “instead, they continue to spend billions fighting public policies intended to reduce greenhouse gases, even in some cases, while their own assets are endangered by rising seas.”richmond is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels because it has 32 miles of shoreline, more than any city in the bay area, as well as 3,000 acres of waterfront parks, butt said.oakland and san francisco announced similar lawsuits in september that accused the oil companies of contributing to a public nuisance that will cost huge sums to deal with.sea level lawsuits against the oil industry also have been filed by the coun...





youth pastor allegedly sent sexual images to girl

san jose — a san jose youth pastor was arrested last week on suspicion of sending sexually explicit images of himself to a 13-year-old girl who was part of the congregation that he served, according to san jose police.luis cruzcruz, 24, of fremont, is a san jose youth pastor who was arrested jan. 18, 2018 on suspicion of sending sexually explicit images to a 13-year-old girl he met at his church, according to police. (san jose police dept.) luis cruzcruz, 24, of fremont, was booked into the santa clara county jail wednesday on suspicion of two counts of sending harmful matter to a minor, jail records show. he is being held on $50,000 bail.an investigation by the sjpd internet crimes against children and child exploitation detail task force contends that between november and december last year, cruzcruz sent multiple illicit images to the underage victim. there is no current evidence that the victim sent any in return.the victim and her family attended iglesia adventista del séptimo día san josé (san jose seventh-day adventist church), where cruzcruz worked as a youth pastor, police said.cruzcruz was arrested in fremont, and an examination of his electronic devices suggest that he might have sent similar illicit material to other minors, sgt. enrique garcia said.garcia encouraged congregants to talk with their children about any possible contact with cruzcruz.“we want to encourage kids to be honest so proper action can be taken by law enforcement,” he said. “parent...





tesla 'on autopilot' slams into parked fire truck on freeway

a tesla model s reportedly on “autopilot” smashed into the back of a fire truck parked at a freeway accident scene monday morning, authorities said.the union representing culver city firefighters whose truck was hit around 8:30 a.m. on interstate 405 in culver city tweeted that the tesla driver said he had been using tesla’s autopilot system, which performs automated driving tasks.the california highway patrol and culver city fire department confirmed the southbound tesla had struck the fire truck, but could not immediately confirm whether the vehicle had been on autopilot.the fire truck had been parked in the left emergency lane and carpool lane, blocking off the scene of a previous accident, with a chp vehicle behind it and to the side, said culver city fire department battalion chief ken powell.both emergency vehicles had their lights flashing, powell added.the tesla suffered significant damage, and the fire truck has been taken out of service to have body work done, powell said.had any firefighters been at the rear of the truck rather than in front attending to the earlier crash, there “probably would not have been a very good outcome,” powell said.“it was a pretty big hit,” powell said.the firefighters union tweet indicated that the tesla had been traveling at 65 miles per hour before the crash, but it was unclear to what extent the car may have slowed before striking the fire truck.because of the force of the impact, firefighters advised the tesla driver t...





naomi parker fraley, east bay woman who inspired ‘rosie the riveter,’ dies – the mercury news

alameda — a woman credited with inspiring the “rosie the riveter” poster of world war ii with its gutsy slogan of “we can do it!” that went on to represent female empowerment decades later, has died.naomi parker fraley died in washington on saturday, the same day that hundreds of thousands of women around the world took to the streets for the annual women’s march.she was 96, according to the new york times.start your day with the news you need from the bay area and beyond. sign up for our new morning report weekday newsletter.fraley was a 20-year-old civilian working at the former alameda naval air station shortly after the japanese attack on pearl harbor when a news photographer snapped a photo of her wearing coveralls and a polka dot bandana, hunched over a lathe.the aim was to highlight the strict dress code that the base commander had put down for women doing industrial jobs to boost the war effort: slacks and turbans were mandatory. no sandals or open-toed shoes. jewelry, including rings, was out.the photo appeared in an oakland newspaper with a caption that said the clothing policy “hasn’t made miss naomi parker any less attractive.” newspapers across the country also published it.fraley saved the newspaper clipping among her family papers, and mostly forgot about it in the years after the war, she said in an interview with the bay area news group in 2016.then in 2009, she and her sister visited the rosie the riveter/world war ii home front national h...





trump's solar tariff could cost local jobs

the trump administration on monday announced it would slap costly tariffs on imported solar technology, drawing ire from bay area solar companies who rely on the parts for solar panels, and homeowners who worry that the costs of converting to green energy will spiral.administration officials framed the 30 percent tariffs as a way to protect domestic manufacturers and take a more aggressive stance toward china, which produces a number of the photovoltaic cells and modules that go into solar panels.start your day with the news you need from the bay area and beyond. sign up for our new morning report weekday newsletter.but local businesses, state officials and industry groups say u.s. manufacturers can’t keep pace and fear the move could slow the adoption of renewable energy, raise the price of solar panels and cost the region jobs.“i think it’s a self-inflicted wound,” said david hochschild, one of five members of the california energy commission, the state agency that focuses on energy policy. “any policies that arbitrarily raise the price of clean, domestic sources of energy like solar are a mistake, and i think the evidence is very strong that when you do that kind of thing, it results in a net reduction in total solar industry jobs.”“this is a political decision for the president and i think it’s unfortunate because people on the left and right embrace solar energy,” said bernadette del chiaro, executive director of the california solar energy industries...





california mudslides, before and after cleanup

(click here if you are having trouble viewing this gallery on a mobile device)at least 21 people were killed and two are still missing in the jan. 9 flash flooding and ensuing mudslides in santa barbara county. but officials are making progress on the cleanup, and hope to let residents into their homes by the end of the month, according to the associated press. highway 101 was reopened on sunday, jan. 21.these photos show some of the damaged areas and how they look now after the state’s cleanup efforts.





authorities identify man killed in half moon bay crash

half moon bay — a man killed in a crash along highway 1 in half moon bay has been identified by the san mateo county coroner’s office as maxwell eddings vincent, 20, of san gregorio.vincent was driving south on the highway, just north of stage road, when his 2002 honda veered off the roadway and down an embankment, according to the california highway patrol.start your day with the news you need from the bay area and beyond. sign up for our new morning report weekday newsletter.the honda hit several trees before coming to a stop with its wheels against a fence post.a passing bicyclist found vincent dead in the honda and alerted authorities, the chp said.he appeared to have been driving under the influence of alcohol and was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision, according to the chp. authorities are not certain what time the crash occurred, but vincent was last seen at about 2:45 a.m. saturday.a missing persons report was filed with authorities early sunday morning, and vincent’s family was already at the crash scene by the time officers arrived, the chp said.the collision remains under investigation and anyone with information can call chp officer lou saeturn at 650-369-6261.





giants get austin jackson for center field on two-year deal

even after the big acquisitions of evan longoria and andrew mccutchen, the giants still had a glaring need in center field. they have now found a solution.the giants have confirmed to bay area news group a report that they have agreed to a 2-year, $6 million deal with center fielder austin jackson. incentives in the contract could push the deal up to $8.5 million.jackson, who turns 31 next month, played for the cleveland indians in 2017, batting .318 with seven home runs and 35 rbis in 85 games. having played all three outfield spots last season, jackson figures to slot into the giants lineup as the starting center fielder. once a tremendous defensive center fielder, jackson’s defensive prowess seems to have regressed a bit. jackson has finished below average in defensive runs saved the past three seasons.but as he showed last season, jackson can still make highlight-reel catches, like this one:in addition to the indians, jackson has also played for the detroit tigers, seattle mariners, chicago cubs, and chicago white sox. in eight seasons at the big league level, jackson is a career .275 hitter.





austin jackson is a can't-lose signing for the giants

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california uber driver in us illegally charged with 4 rapes

christopher weber | associated presslos angeles — a mexican uber driver living in the u.s. illegally was charged monday with raping, assaulting and robbing young women in california, prosecutors said.this undated booking photo provided by the county of san luis obispo shows alfonso alarcon-nunez. california prosecutors say alarcon-nunez an uber driver living in the country illegally has been charged with raping, assaulting and robbing young women. san luis obispo county district attorney dan dow said monday, jan. 22, 2018, that alarcon-nunez’s alleged victims are between 19 and 22 years old and three were intoxicated when they were assaulted. (county of san luis obispo via ap) alfonso alarcon-nunez’s four alleged victims are between 19 and 22 years old and three were intoxicated when they were assaulted, san luis obispo county district attorney dan dow told reporters.officials said alarcon-nunez was not always driving for uber when he picked up those women but said the alleged crimes show that the company should improve its driver screening process, dow said.alarcon-nunez, 39, faces 10 criminal charges including forcible rape, rape of an intoxicated victim, oral copulation of an intoxicated victim and first degree burglary. it wasn’t immediately known if alarcon-nunez has an attorney. his arraignment was scheduled for later monday.detectives are looking for potential witnesses and trying to determine if there are additional victims in san luis obispo and santa barbar...





massive pescadero coastal estate selling for $24.5 million

january 22, 2018, 11:40 am for many interior designers, toss pillows are not only a secret design weapon, but also the icing on the cake. instead of being an afterthought, toss pillows can and should complete a color story, serve as an opportunity to bring in graphics and texture as well as serve as a prominent design accessory.





netflix keeps its crown as new subscribers surge

los gatos — go ahead and put a crown on netflix’s head, because there is nothing strange about what the internet tv leader had to say with its fourth-quarter report on monday.in a sign that not even a price increase can slow down netflix’s momentum, the company said monday that successful new seasons of hit shows such as the young queen elizabeth ii drama “the crown” and the 1980s-themed suspense series “stranger things” helped netflix add 8.33 million new subscribers during the final three months of 2017. netflix said it was biggest single quarterly gain in subscribers in the company’s history, and blew past its own forecasts for 6.3 million new subscribers in the quarter.with those additions, netflix ended 2017 with 117.6 million subscribers worldwide.during the quarter, netflix implemented a price increase, which raised its subscriber fees by $1 or $2 a month, depending on a member’s subscription plan.netflix said the gains in subscribers also helped it report a fourth-quarter profit of 41 cents a share, on revenue of $3.29 billion. the earnings were line with wall street analysts’ forecasts, while netflix’s revenue slightly exceeded analysts’ consensus outlook for $3.28 billion in sales.investors showed their enthusiasm for netflix’s results by sending the company’s shares up by more than 8 percent, to $246.11, in after-hours trading monday.earlier, netflix shares rose 3.2 percent, to $227.58, in monday’s regular trading session.





man linked to 1980 child killing through dna had been previously cleared after taking a polygraph – the mercury news

martinez — decades before authorities arrested and charged a man in the 1980 kidnapping, sexual assault, and stabbing death of a young antioch honor roll student, investigators had cleared him when he took a polygraph with “inconclusive” results, according to recently released court records.mitchell lynn bacom, 63, was charged last year with kidnapping, raping, and murdering 14-year-old suzanne bombardier, nearly 38 years after he allegedly dumped her body in the san joaquin river within a day of taking her by force from her sister’s antioch apartment, where she was babysitting two young children. he has not yet entered a plea and remains in county jail.the affidavit to bacom’s arrest warrant, obtained by this newspaper last week, tells the story of how police looked at dozens of suspects and persons of interest — including a notorious serial killer — before refocusing on bacom, who had been interviewed by police a month after suzanne was killed and was cleared as a suspect  after a district attorney inspector gave him a polygraph a month after the killing and the inspector told police he believed the man’s denials.the records reveal other things about bacom’s past as well: he was labeled an “anger rapist” during a parole review process for a 1973 conviction, where he raped and attempted to kill a woman while humming a song to himself, in a case with eerie similarities to bombardier’s killing. he was also interviewed by then-pittsburg police det. jo...