San Francisco, CA

Disability group sues airp ort

April 18, 2002
Groups representing disabled passengers are suing San Francisco International Airport, accusing it of failing to provide adequate access to deaf and hard-of-hearing travelers.
     The suit, filed Wednesday, seeks class-action status. It accuses the airport of failing to inform deaf passengers when they are to board, wrongly bumping them from flights and failing to notify them of gate changes.
     The suit was brought by Disability Rights Advocates and the California Center for the Deaf.
     A spokeswoman for the airport, owned and operated by the city and county of San Francisco, could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Evicting Grandma

April 10, 2002
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     At 10 a.m. on a recent Friday, the housing projects at 531 Bay Street are mostly deserted. The stairs reek of urine, there's a broken shopping cart hanging upside down over the edge of the concrete balcony. Two sullen boys hang around a denuded courtyard.
     Alma Lark squints down from the third-floor balcony. Behind her, 8-year-old Nefertiti watches from behind an iron grille on their apartment door. She and her sister came to live with Lark, their grandmother, when their mother, addicted to drugs for almost 20 years, couldn't care for them anymore. 

Recent lawsuits just the beginning of reparations 

April 05, 2002
Lawsuits charging that three companies profited from the slave trade are just the beginning of a larger legal effort to seek reparations for American blacks who are descendants of slaves.
      More than a dozen of the nation's most prominent black attorneys and scholars expect to file suit against the U.S. government later this year, said Randall Robinson, co-chairman of the Reparations Coordinating Committee.
      "The centerpiece of the campaign will unfold in the fall," said Robinson, whose book "The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks," argues for reparations. "We're talking about the responsibility of the government that participates in a crime against humanity."

One man's struggle to keep his pet could help safeguard others

February 24, 2002
Sophie is the kind of dog that can change your life. Just ask Guy Lowe, who adopted the tan, golden-eyed puppy in November. Lowe, a 38-year-old man living with AIDS, was diagnosed with depression and prescribed a pet to lift his mood.
     Although the lease on Lowe's Hayes Valley apartment prohibits animals, federal law requires landlords to make "reasonable accommodations" for people with disabilities. There's just one problem: Sophie's a pit bull mix. And that, according to the building's owners, makes her an unreasonable request. They've already threatened Lowe with eviction and are now taking him to superior court.
     In the wake of last year's highly publicized dog mauling, Lowe's struggle could become an important test case. Although a landlord generally gets to say which and how many pets are allowed, disabled tenants are legally exempt from those restraints. But with more building owners now worried about liability, that protection is under siege.

Report says civil rights of homeless under attack

January 15, 2002
The civil rights of homeless Americans are under attack coast-to-coast through laws designed to criminalize homelessness by banning such things as sleeping in public, according to a new report released on Tuesday.
      The report by two homeless advocacy groups said California was the "meanest'' state to the homeless, while San Francisco, New York and Atlanta tied as the worst cities for homeless residents.
      "We looked at the number of laws that are used against the homeless, and the number of infractions cited,'' said Paul Boden, director of San Francisco's Coalition on Homelessness.

California Macy's settles suit 

December 19, 2001
Macy's agreed to widen entrances and aisles in its California stores and to pay nearly $3 million to settle a 5-year-old lawsuit by disabled customers.
     The settlement, which affects more than 70 California stores, sets standards for entrances, rest rooms, fitting rooms, counter tops and aisles between departments.
     "Macy's has made a real commitment to improving access for people with disabilities throughout its stores in California," Larry Paradis, executive director of Disability Rights Advocates in Oakland, told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

DMCA seen denying free speech rights in cyberspace

December 02, 2001
Two court decisions considered victories for the film and music industries could deny U.S. citizens the same free speech rights in cyberspace that they have in the real world, according to copyright experts and civil rights activists.
      A federal appeals court in New York last week ruled that the controversial 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- which bars creating or distributing technology that can be used to circumvent copyright protections -- does not infringe on First Amendment free speech protections of the U.S. Constitution.
      The court barred Eric Corley, publisher of hacker Web site 2600 magazine, from posting or linking to sites that post software used to descramble anti-piracy protections in digital video discs.

Univ. Calif. may revamp admissions

November 14, 2001
A University of California regents committee Wednesday approved a new admissions policy that would take into account any hardships a student had to overcome.
     The 13-2 vote sends the measure to the full Board of Regents, which is expected to adopt it Thursday. Critics had branded the new policy as backdoor affirmative action.
     The move to look at more than applicants' grades and test scores comes six years after the university system eliminated race-based affirmative action. 

Court to hear 4th Amendment case

November 05, 2001
Police investigating as many as 30 firebombings of utility poles focused on a man with an apparent grudge against the Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and searched his home without a warrant.
      The man, Mark Knights, was on probation for public intoxication. Under a state law -- the strictest of its kind in the nation -- Knights had agreed to waive his constitutional protection against warrantless searches as a condition of his early release.
     Now Knights is challenging that 1998 search.
     On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Knights' case, which could determine whether the nation's 4.4 million convicts on probation or parole can be forced to waive their Fourth Amendment rights. 

Census: blacks leaving San Francisco

September 06, 2001
Bobbie Webb considers himself a survivor of a seismic shift in San Francisco's population.
      Blacks abandoned San Francisco faster than any other major U.S. city in the last decade, according to 2000 census data. More than 18,500 have left since 1990, a 23 percent decline that extends a trend that began a generation ago when urban renewal forced many to relocate.
      The main reason for the decline, according to population experts: Blacks are moving out to the suburbs in search of more affordable housing and the opportunity to be with their own.

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