Bay Briefs

Monday December 17, 2001

MTC sets aside $1.7 million for bus passes for poor students


OAKLAND – Thousands of low-income students in Alameda and Contra Costa counties would get help in paying for bus fare under a plan debated Friday by a regional transit agency. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission set aside $1.7 million for a two-year pilot program that would give poor students discount bus passes. 

The size of the discount has yet to be determined. Advocates say thousands of East Bay children have to scrape together their transportation costs each month. 

Nearly 100 sign-carrying students from area schools attended the commission’s meeting and demanded free bus passes. 

Instead, commission members approved a more limited plan. They will try to work out the details and vote for final approval this Wednesday. 


Geologists find fault within S.F. borders


SAN FRANCISCO – Despite its history of destructive earthquakes, geologists have only just now found what appears to be a fault within San Francisco’s borders. 

Scientists say the fault is a relatively benign extension of the Serra Thrust Fault. Until now, that fault had been mapped only as far as Daly City, just to San Francisco’s south. 

The fault poses nowhere near the same threat as the San Andreas Fault, which cuts straight through towns to San Francisco’s south, but heads out to sea just south of the city’s border. 

New details of the little-known thrust fault were presented Friday by San Francisco State University researchers. 

The researchers say the buried fault has not rumbled to life anytime recently and was apparently quiet during both the 1906 San Francisco and 1989 Loma Prieta quakes. 


United Airlines adds security at SFO terminal


SAN FRANCISCO – United Airlines has added another security checkpoint at San Francisco International Airport. 

United hopes to shorten lines for all passengers, but those who travel light or fly first class likely will be happiest. 

That’s because United also created two new security lines Friday. One is for passengers who carry no luggage aboard other than a purse or briefcases, the other, for first-class passengers. 

Large carriers at Mineta San Jose International Airport and Oakland International Airport said they did not plan to offer similar treatment to first-class or light-traveling passengers. 

Most passengers say they are pleased at any effort to speed the wait for security checks at airports. Others say it’s unfair to speed some ticket-holders through security over others. 


Killer oil slick came from one source, state says


SAN FRANCISCO – State officials say an oil slick that killed more than 200 seabirds last month came from a single source. 

Dana Michaels, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said scientists performing chemical tests on seven samples of the oil verified a match Friday. The oil almost certainly came from a ship, rather than from a natural seep, they have concluded. 

Coast Guard investigators now will attempt to match the unique chemical “fingerprint” of the oil to tankers that were in the area when the spill is believed to have occurred. 

On Nov. 24, seabirds coated with oil began washing up at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. Since then, oiled birds have been found along 125 miles of California coastline, as far south as Monterey. 

Small-business owners optimistic about future


MENLO PARK – A survey of small-business owners found that most are optimistic about the future of their business and the economy and continue to believe the Internet is important to their success. 

The national survey of 976 small business owners, conducted by independent consultants for Homestead Technologies, Inc., found that 86 percent of those surveyed felt optimistic about the future of their own business, and only 9 percent expected to do worse in 2002 than they did this year. 

In addition, 67 percent said they felt optimistic about the U.S. economy, although 23 percent said they didn’t expect the overall economy to improve much in the next six months. 

Despite the recent collapse in technology stocks and the end of the “dot-com” boom, the survey also found that most were still feeling positive about the Internet as a business tool. 



Palestinian woman claims prejudice led to firing


SANTA CLARA – A Palestinian woman has sued Macy’s for firing her from her sales job in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Alia Atawneh, 28, moved to Santa Clara four years ago with her husband, a Jordanian who’s been a U.S. citizen for more than 20 years. 

Atawneh’s parents also are naturalized U.S. citizens who moved to Bloomington, Ill., after living in Kuwait and Jordan. 

Atawneh alleges, in a suit filed Dec. 5 in Santa Clara County Superior Court, that she lost her job because she’s Palestinian. 

Atawneh, who worked in the men’s department at Westfield Shoppingtown Valley Fair, says Macy’s managers grilled her about her views after she was berated by a customer, and then wrongfully accused her of telling colleagues that “America deserved” the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. 

Macy’s lawyers referred questions to the chain’s public relations office, which refused to comment on pending litigation.