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Dying Northern India art form revived in Bay Area

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — May 6 2010 - 7:15pm

For the past two years, Devendra Sharma, an assistant professor of communication at California State University, Fresno, has been resuscitating and reinventing a dying Indian folk operatic performance art — Nautanki — in the Bay Area. The opera, characterized by exuberant singing in Hindi about religious, mythological or sociopolitical-themed stories, is a nightlong communal event performed in outdoor venues in northern Indian villages.

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Two business tax plans aim to encourage new jobs in SF

Dana Sherne, May 5 2010 - 4:33pm

In an effort to increase revenue and spur the local economy, San Francisco’s Office of the Controller is proposing two revised business tax plans that may end up on the November ballot.

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SF schools negotiations go to mediator; shorter school year likely

Dana Sherne, SF Public Press — May 4 2010 - 3:41pm

The San Francisco Unified School District and its teachers union have turned to a mediator for help in resolving a $113 million budget shortfall. Both sides are calling for a shorter school year, but disagree on many of the financial points in the new budget.

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Protests set stage for Arizona boycott, immigration reform

Shawn Gaynor, SF Public Press — May 3 2010 - 4:04pm

The large march and rally in San Francisco this weekend has set the stage for Tuesday’s vote by the Board of Supervisors on a resolution calling for a boycott of the state of Arizona and Arizona-based companies over its new immigration law. The rally and resolution are in response to a new law that makes it a state crime to be in America illegally and gives police the power to question people about their citizenship status.

Oakland teachers and families’ one-day strike (photo gallery)

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Apr 29 2010 - 9:06pm

Oakland teachers and families picketed outside schools Thursday. According to various reports, few students attended school.

Asians denounce suspected hate crimes

Dana Sherne, SF Public Press — Apr 28 2010 - 3:55pm

Hundreds of Asian Americans joined city supervisors and Mayor Gavin Newsom at a rally Tuesday to call for safer neighborhoods after a rash of attacks against Asians, with much of the blame being focused on African Americans. Newsom promised a $100,000 reward for finding the youths who assaulted and fatally injured Huan Chen on Jan. 24.

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Banksy street art pops up around town

Shawn Gaynor, SF Public Press — Apr 26 2010 - 2:31pm

International graffiti artist Banksy has been leaving his mark around San Francisco on several buildings. The mysterious street artist is now also a filmmaker and his new film, "Exit Through the Gift Shop'' is playing in several Bay Area cinemas. Although he does not personally sell his artwork, collectors have been paying big bucks for his work at auction.

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San Francisco gives Web users a peek at lobbyists’ work

Anna Rendall, SF Public Press — Apr 26 2010 - 11:16am

San Francisco has put lobbyist information on the Ethics Commission website, giving greater access to information about special interests pushing their viewpoints in City Hall. But the site has received some criticism from those who say the site should be easier to use. The new site allows anyone to get answers to questions that had required a trip to the commission’s office.

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Some Lawyers Want to Keep Debt Collection Out of the Courts

Bernice Yeung, SF Public Press / The New York Times — Apr 23 2010 - 6:29am

Debt collectors are increasingly using litigation as a tool to collect on aging debts. Critics say the practice clogs the courts and turns the credit card companies’ debtor lists into free-fire zones that sometimes target the innocent. In the Bay Area, a coordinated response to these practices is being developed, as a loose-knit group of public-interest lawyers pools resources to fight what they see as a misuse of the court system.

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State should extend abortion access: Q&A with gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown

Saul Sugarman, SF Public Press — Apr 22 2010 - 5:17pm
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Jerry Brown came out strongly in support of women’s abortion rights last weekend, saying he planned on pushing budget reforms to aid access for low-income women if elected governor in November.

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Neighbors scuttle plan for condo tower near Transamerica pyramid

Dana Sherne, Apr 21 2010 - 10:25pm

After nearly five hours of public debate, the Board of Supervisors halted plans for the development of a 38-story condominium tower Tuesday night. Many of the project’s opponents were concerned with the possibility that the building would harm surrounding parks — Maritime Plaza, Sue Bierman Park and the privately owned redwood grove at the foot of the Transamerica pyramid. Specifically, they emphasized the impacts of shadows, wind and interrupted bird migration routes.

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Saving the ocean by sparing sharks’ fins — Q&A with Goldman Prize winner Randall Arauz

Erica Gies, Apr 19 2010 - 10:43pm

Costa Rican biologist Randall Arauz is working to protect sharks from the practice of shark finning, when a shark’s fin is cut off and it is tossed back into the ocean to die a slow death. Finning has reduced shark populations 90 percent worldwide and is taking its toll on the ocean ecosystem.

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Coco Zhao’s Shanghai-flavored jazz

John C. Liau, SF Public Press — Apr 19 2010 - 11:05am

The red mood lighting enhances the lounge feel of the concert hall inside the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. For one night, MATCHA, a monthly night life event in the museum, is transformed into a Shanghai jazz club, complete with Coco Zhao, a jazz vocalist who’s been called “the boy Billie Holiday.”

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Parents, teachers withhold signatures on SF school budgets

Jennifer Martinez, SF Public Press — Apr 15 2010 - 2:29pm

Amid a jarring education funding shortfall, committees of parents and teachers at two San Francisco schools are refusing to endorse the budgets for next school year, saying that signing off on them would excuse unacceptable cutbacks. The shrunken budgets that the San Francisco Unified School District is requiring would make class sizes larger. School site councils, introduced in the 1970s throughout California as a way to broaden involvement in school administration, have faced disagreement about whether they have any real say in spending choices.

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Rival union vows fight after SEIU wins $1.5 million verdict

Christopher D. Cook, SF Public Press — Apr 9 2010 - 6:09pm

In a mixed verdict Friday morning, a nine-member U.S. district court jury awarded $1.5 million to the Service Employees International Union in its ongoing campaign against a rival created by former SEIU staffers. The judgment is unlikely to resolve the unions’ protracted battle over members and worker voice in the labor movement.

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Worldwide micro-lender looks homeward: Q&A with Kiva.org’s Premal Shah

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Apr 5 2010 - 3:15pm
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Despite high loan requests and lower repayment rates by borrowers in the country, San Francisco nonprofit microcredit Web site, Kiva, has managed to raise $765,900 since launching its pilot program this past June in the United States. Typically, the organization distributes loans raised on its Web site to microcredit organizations in developing countries that lend it to impoverished entrepreneurs. The impact of the economic downturn on small business owners set the stage for Kiva to establish a program in the U.S. last June.

Seeking to Help Budding Researchers With a Click of the Mouse

Victoria Schlesinger, SF Public Press / The New York Times — Apr 2 2010 - 12:38am

Eureka Fund, based in San Francisco, is one of a handful of new nonprofit organizations created to give the general public an opportunity to pay for scientific research that is not fully supported by government or private sources. They are part of a fledgling movement to take the idea of crowd-sourcing and crowd-financing, which has worked in arenas like small business and education, to scientific research.

Edible gardens grow up

Monica Jensen, SF Public Press — Mar 30 2010 - 11:28am
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Sanchez Elementary School, in San Francisco's Mission District, has erected the city's first public, off-the-grid, vertical garden. Equipped with a high-tech weather station, students will study the growth patterns of the edible, organic vegetables and measure weather patterns.

Welcome to the neighborhood: Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island (photo essay)

Monica Jensen, Mar 29 2010 - 2:14pm

Treasure Island, named for the imagined gold embedded in the mud dredged from the Sacramento Delta to build the manmade island, offers an oasis for some in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Yerba Buena Island, to the east, has sweeping views of the East Bay.

Protesters urge Feinstein to take lead on immigration reform

Christopher D. Cook, SF Public Press — Mar 25 2010 - 2:18pm

Capping a wave of national immigration-rights actions across the country, local organizers turned this week to urging Sen. Dianne Feinstein to support comprehensive reform. About 2,000 Bay Area immigrants and others rallied Wednesday in front of Feinstein’s San Francisco office. The nationwide effort — including a march of 200,000 in Washington, D.C. — is aimed at pressuring Congress to support reforms Immigration reform leaders are pressing Congress for “humane comprehensive immigration reform” to protect undocumented immigrants while moving them toward legal status, prevent immigrant families from being split apart by deportations, and other goals.