Senate passes bill banning
imports of genetically
SACRAMENTO — California’s fish farmers will have to wait at least until 2005 to begin growing genetically altered salmon if a bill passed Wednesday by the state Senate becomes law.
The bill temporarily bans the so-called “superfish” from being introduced into California, requiring the state to decide by 2004 if the ban should become permanent. The Senate passed the bill 21-11, sending it back to the Assembly for agreement to Senate changes.
The federal government is presently deciding if salmon should become the first altered animal or fish approved for human consumption.
Many farmers and environmentalists worry that genetically enhanced salmon, which grow to full size in half the time of natural fish, could escape from farms in Washington state and prey on California’s native salmon. They cite studies by Purdue University that altered salmon could overpower natural species for food, mates and habitat.
Growers dispute the notion, saying they only use sterile females.
Consumer group says one
gas grade could curb prices
SANTA MONICA — Californians could save billions of dollars if oil companies were forced to offer only a single grade of gasoline, a consumer group estimated Wednesday.
A law requiring stations to offer only one grade of gas with an octane of 87 or 88 “would greatly reduce the ability of oil companies to create price spikes” by artificially lowering supplies of the most sought-after gas, said the study released by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.
By eliminating underused premium and mid-grade varieties, the state could free storage space for a public fuel reserve that could be used to cushion higher future prices, according to the two-year study.
“Rather than drill in the Arctic, let’s clean the pumps of the 50 percent of higher-octane fuel that is not used,” Jamie Court, executive director of the foundation, said in a statement.
About 95 to 97 percent of California cars could use the single grade and motorists whose vehicles need higher octane could use additives, the study argued.
Judge dismisses case filed
by former Mexican workers
SAN FRANCISCO — In a blow to Mexican laborers who had hoped to claim money they said they were owed for working on American farms and railroads more than 50 years ago, a judge Wednesday granted requests by the United States and Mexican governments and Wells Fargo Bank to dismiss their case.
The workers were among more than 300,000 Mexicans who came to the United States between 1942 and 1949 to harvest crops and maintain railroad tracks as guest workers. Called “braceros,” after the Spanish word for arm, they came under an agreement between the United States and Mexico aimed at filling labor shortages caused by World War II.
Under the agreement, 10 percent of each worker’s wage was to be withheld and transferred, via U.S. and Mexican banks, to individual savings funds set up for each bracero. But many braceros said they never received that money when they returned to Mexico.
SF’s Asian Art Museum
acquires 999 new works
SAN FRANCISCO — The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is the proud owner of 999 new works of art for its growing collection, the museum announced Wednesday.
The new works include more than 800 objects from the LLoyd Cotsen Bamboo Basket Collection. Costen also provided the museum with a research endowment.
The remaining objects come from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Southeast Asian Art Collection.
The Duke collection includes many rare paintings and decorative arts as well as Thai, Burmese and Cambodian sculptures. One of the Duke objects is an 11-foot-tall, 19th century gilded Burmese throne for a Buddha image.
“We rearranged the entire gallery plan at our new facility to showcase some of the new objects from the Duke collection,” said chief curator Forrest McGill. “The pieces were so important and stunning that we had to give the a prominent place.”
The Asian Art museum outgrew its home in Golden Gate Park and is set to reopen in a new facility at the city’s Civic Center in January.
The museum’s collection now stands at more than 15,000 objects.