10 brightest ideas of the week: April 25, 2010 

Party canceled after concerns are raised, city jobs are saved, caring for wounded veterans gets easier for families, jogger makes an ocean rescue and  charity hits a milestone

1. Mega-thud

North Beach party canceled after publicity

The details: When you hear about the venues in North Beach trying to put together what they were calling a club crawl, you knew city officials were not going to react very well. So the day an Examiner article put the issue out in public, event organizers promptly pulled the plug. City officials were concerned about safety with the number of extra individuals likely attracted to the event. Also, the area tends to attract unsavory characters during weekend evenings.

2. Fort Hood shootings

Pentagon adopts rules on guns

The details: The U.S. military will adopt a broad policy governing how privately-owned guns can be carried or stored at military installations after the shooting deaths of 13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas. A disgruntled Army psychologist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, had little or no access to military firearms in his job and is charged in the deaths. The new policy is expected to mirror restrictions already in place at some military installations that, for example, require guns brought onto a base to be registered with military police.

3. Saving jobs, money

Deal brokered to save city jobs

The details: After several weeks of haggling that had many city employees wondering whether they would have a job, Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco unions struck a deal that benefits everyone. The deal calls for Newsom to rescind 17,000 pink slips in exchange for 12 unpaid days off per year over the next two years and the closure of nonessential city services during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Newsom’s pink-slip proposal would have rehired many of the 17,000 at a reduced workweek of 37.5 hours.

4. Undersea scouts

South Korea developing robots for ocean floors

The details: South Korea will spend about $18 million to develop undersea robots by 2016 that can swim and crawl their way across the ocean floor nearly four miles down, speeding up location of sunken vessels and possible rescue of crews. The project became a national priority after a South Korean Navy frigate was sunk last month, killing dozens of sailors. The six-legged robots will walk at speeds of 98 feet per second and swim at 59 feet per second.

5. Veterans’ bill

Support for care providers

The details: Congress has approved and sent to President Obama the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, a merger of two earlier bills that should improve health care for military personnel, veterans and their families. About 20 percent of active duty, 15 percent of reserve and 25 percent of retired and separated members have a family member or friend who has been forced to leave a job to care for the veteran full-time. The legislation and amendments provide support to family and others who care for disabled, ill or injured veterans and provides other benefits.

6. Local hero

Jogger saves 14-year-old girl at Ocean Beach

The details: Noa Bourke was running along the beach near Great Highway and Sloat when he heard screams coming from the area where a teenage girl had been swept out to sea by the undertow. Bourke jumped in the water, got to the girl and brought her back ashore. Bourke, who has had no rescue training, grew up swimming and surfing in Hawaii and has even saved some friends and family before, he said. He said he was in the right place at the right time, and would like to talk to the girl he saved and make sure she’s doing OK.

7. Tut, Tut

Amid recession, SF museums still booming

The details: King Tut and other exhibits can still bring the crowds out to The City’s three public art museums. The de Young Museum had record-breaking attendance during the Tut exhibit despite less tourism and more unemployment. The de Young, the Asian Art Museum and the Legion of Honor recorded a 42 percent increase in their visitor numbers over the past year. Part of that is certainly due to locals enjoying “staycations.”

8. Google opens up

Search engine releases figures on censorship

The details: Google has created a new tool to show users, country by country, which governments are applying the most pressure to censor Web material and which are asking Google for users’ personal information. Although it was spurred by the China censorship controversy, Google can’t release numbers from China because those are classified as state secrets. However, other nations’ demands come as a surprise: Brazil had the highest number of data and takedown requests, while the United States issued 3,580 requests for users’ info.

9. Protected Picasso

Art behind glass after woman fell into it

The details: Picasso’s “The Actor” is now safely secured behind plexiglass after a woman accidentally fell into the canvas in January, causing a six-inch tear across the right hand corner. Following the incident, the 105-year-old painting underwent three months of work to restore it to its original state. Restoration included a careful realignment of the painting to reset the memory of the canvas. Retouching was also necessary where paint had chipped off.

10. Hot meals

Tenderloin foundation served up 36 millionth free meal  

The details: St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin served up its 36 millionth free meal Thursday. The organization provides food, clothing, drug rehabilitation and medical services to The City’s poor and homeless, including seniors, disabled persons and veterans. The foundation serves about 2,600 meals each day. Roughly three-quarters of the food is reclaimed, from second-harvest fruits and vegetables with minor imperfections to day-old baked goods, all of which would otherwise be thrown out.

Bright light of the week

Willa Johnson

What: The Muni operator has become the second female “gripman” ever to operate the complex system of levers and handgrips that controls cable car speed from the rear of the iconic vehicle. Johnson follows Fannie Barnes — who retired in 2002 — as the only two women ever to hold that physically- and mentally-demanding job. About 80 percent of all applicants fail the month-long training course to qualify for what should now properly be titled a “gripperson.”

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