10 brightest ideas of the week: Sunday, July 4, 2010 

Man connects fitness with academic performance, engineers develop flying car, FDA urges less antibiotics in meat, and heart attack survivor searches for good Samaritans.

1. BP help

Oil giant aiding gas stations
The details: Oil giant BP PLC is floating a financial lifeline to the owners, operators and suppliers of the gas stations around America that bear its name and have been struggling because of boycotts prompted by the Gulf spill. The head of a trade group that represents distributors of BP gasoline in the U.S. said the company is informing outlets that they will be getting cash based on distributors’ volume, reductions in credit card fees and help with more national advertising.

2. Working out

Man does pushups to send message to kids
The details: A 62-year-old Mill Valley man is doing all he can do to prove to Bay Area youth that there is a connection between physical activity and academic performance. Joel Kirsch dedicated six weeks to doing pushups and jumping his way from Novato to the Golden Gate Bridge. The 35-mile trip comes as Kirsch prepares to launch a tuition-free private school in San Rafael or Novato.

3. Flying car

Terrafugia Transition gets go-ahead from FAA
The details: It flies at 115 mph, drives at normal highway speeds and gets 30 miles per gallon — and you can have a light sport aircraft license in just 20 hours of pilot training. The FAA gave the two-seater Terrafugia Transition a 120-pound overweight exemption so it can be sold with airbags and other mandated road-safety features. Seventy people have already left $10,000 deposits on the $194,000 car-plane, which can park in garages and drive to the nearest mini-runway.

4. FDA push

Fewer antibiotics urged in meat
The details: Amid rising concerns the antibiotic drugs given to feed animals pose a health threat to humans, the Food and Drug Administration is recommending that meat producers cut back on their use. The FDA was opposed by the National Pork Producers Council, which said the recommendation was excessive and that the drugs are important to the health of animals.

5. Microbe hunters

China, US open disease study center in Shanghai
The details: American and Chinese health officials opened an epidemiology center in Shanghai to train experts in how to identify and block epidemic diseases. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has trained more than 3,000 epidemiologists worldwide since it began international programs 30 years ago. Outbreaks of SARS, bird flu and swine flu have driven home the rising risks from new diseases, deadly mutations of epidemic ailments, or unexplained illness and deaths — especially in developing countries.

6. Perfect record

AC Transit driver retires accident-free
The details: John Nussbaum, 75, has retired after more than 45 years driving a bus — with no accidents. Nussbaum was a bus driver in L.A. from 1960 to 1964 before moving to the Bay Area to work for AC Transit. He says driving the AC Transit route, compared to traffic in L.A., was “like driving in the country.” So what’s next for Nussbaum? Driving his motorhome around, of course — unless he decides to jump to Muni.

7. Dressing Wonder Woman

DC Comics gives classic character a tamer makeover
The details: Comic character Wonder Woman is getting a makeover at age 69 — a more restrained and less revealing costume. The tamer outfit is unveiled in the latest issue, No. 600, of “Wonder Woman.” Her story has changed, too. No longer raised by Amazons on Paradise Island, Diana is smuggled out as a child while her sisters are murdered.

8. Back on board

Muni plans to restore service cuts in September
The details: Muni’s proposal to restore half of its recent service reductions will go before the agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday. The hearing will come one week after Muni officials announced their intention to roll back the 10 percent cut in service by Sept. 4. The debt-ridden agency implemented the service cuts May 8 as a means to save roughly $29 million annually. Through a plan that would raise $11.9 million, the agency now says it has enough funding to bring back half of the reduced service.

9. LA confidential

Judge says Metro can watch drivers
The details: L.A.’s heavy rail transit system, Metrolink, can use video surveillance cameras in the control cabs of its passenger trains, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson ruled, quashing a challenge from a union representing locomotive engineers. The suit said Metro violated employees’ rights by installing cameras to monitor engineers’ activities.

10. Off to Texas

Giants trade Bengie Molina
The details: The San Francisco Giants traded well-liked veteran catcher Bengie Molina, 35, and $2 million cash in exchange for two pitchers, Chris Ray and Michael Main. In 3½ seasons with the Giants, Molina was a solid part of San Francisco’s pitching staff, but the team probably wanted to move him to let their 2008 No. 1 draft pick, Buster Posey, shine more. The Rangers have been looking for a better catcher for a while.

Bright light of the week

Saved and searching

What: Man recovers after massive heart attack at Bay to Breakers

The details: The man who suffered a massive heart attack at the finish line of the 2010 Bay to Breakers is spending part of his recovery searching for the two fellow runners whose swift and selfless actions helped save his life. Ken Byk, 52, says his survival defied all odds after he collapsed amid throngs of athletes at the end of the 12-kilometer footrace from downtown to Ocean Beach. Byk said he suffered two heart attacks that day — one at the finish line, and another after he was transported to UCSF. Since then, Byk has been on a mission to personally thank his saviors.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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