Gates donates $28 million
for diaphragm study
SAN FRANCISCO–The University of California at San Francisco announced this week that the world's wealthiest man and his wife have given the school $28 million to study whether a diaphragm can prevent HIV.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing the money to UCSF's Women's Global Health Imperative so it can conduct a randomized trial with 4,500 women in South Africa and Zimbabwe, where one-third of the population is infected with HIV.
Study director Nancy Padian said, "[The women’s] enthusiasm to use a product that did not require negotiating with their male partner was overwhelming.''
Diaphragms are a form of birth control that cover a woman's cervix, which is considered a “hot spot'' in terms of susceptibility to HIV infections and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to Padian.
Although there is no proof that using a diaphragm will prevent HIV, she said the study is promising because it could give women a chance to protect themselves with something other than a condom.
Three Salinas men killed
in apparent gang shooting
SALINAS — Three Salinas teenagers were killed outside an apartment complex in what police said appeared to be a gang-related shooting.
Police have no suspects in the Sunday evening shooting, Salinas Lt. Henry Yoneyama said. He identified the victims as Alexis Ramirez, 17, and Andres Garcia, 17; the identity of an 18-year-old man was withheld pending notification of relatives.
The teenagers were hanging out in a driveway when someone began firing — police say they have some witnesses but need others to clarify what happened.
“We believe that the incident is gang related and we’re investigating it from that perspective,” Yoneyama said.
Wine auction raises money
for children of vineyard workers
SONOMA — The Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, a little brother to the better-known Napa Valley Wine Auction, raised $586,000 for a variety of charities.
The take was just off last year’s $592,000.
The 10th annual auction at the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa drew about 650 people Sunday to bid on some of wine country’s finest products.
Of the total haul, $60,700 will help finance health care policies for uninsured Sonoma Valley children.
“Many of the poorest people in the valley are the children of those who work in our vineyards,” said Mike Nugent, former chairman of the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center. “It’s a nightmare for undocumented children.”
Organizers said the auction has raised about $3 million since it began in 1993. The Napa Valley Wine Auction raised $6 million in June.
Davis campaigns across state, Simon says he’s ready
Thirty six hours after the Legislature handed him a two-months-late state budget, Gov. Gray Davis switched into campaign mode Monday and toured California with labor leaders, seeking to paint challenger Bill Simon as a threat to workers.
“The race really begins now,” Davis said as he winged from Burbank to Livermore on a private jet chartered by the same unions that have helped bankroll his re-election bid.
Simon also spent the day stumping across the state, telling audiences Davis was a bust as governor.
“We’re going to talk the truth about Gray Davis’ record and we’re going to talk the truth about Bill Simon’s vision for California,” Simon said at a Labor Day picnic at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. “We are going to talk about how Gov. Davis has failed as a governor.”
Davis seized on a tradition of kicking off political campaigns on Labor Day, leading other Democratic candidates for statewide office on his first campaign-style tour since the day after Simon won the GOP nomination in March.
He addressed charged-up gatherings of hundreds of painters, teachers, hotel workers and others, warning that Simon would siphon off some of the rights Davis has helped them gain since he took office in 1999.
“Mr. Simon wants to undo four years of progress,” Davis said in Los Angeles at the opening of a new University of California, Los Angeles labor center. “Let’s send a memo to Mr. Simon: ’Mr. Simon, you are not going to rollback anything.”’
Labor unions — including police and fire organizations — have contributed more than $10 million to Davis since he took office, according to spokesman Roger Salazar.
Smokey Bear revamps message
to fit new policy
PORTLAND, Ore. — Smokey Bear, the lovable World War II-era icon of forest fire prevention, is back on the scene with a new Web site, a new message, and a Gen X competitor.
The Forest Service mascot, who turned 58 on Aug. 9, has become more serious — and scarier. His new message, “Only you can prevent wildfires” — as opposed to “forest fires” — reflects the rising dangers faced by homeowners living closer than before to areas that are vulnerable to flames.
The creators of the original poster bear, the Forest Service and the Ad Council of America, decided to revamp Smokey’s kid-friendly message after studies found average adults didn’t think they would ever start a wildfire. Most also believed wildfires occur hundreds of miles from population centers, although the movement of people toward the wild has changed that.