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San Francisco

Heavy rains and high winds slammed northern California leaving more than 220,000 people without power.

The storm brought rainfall of more than an inch an hour in San Francisco and winds gusts of 140mph in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Flooding has already closed two major motorways in the area, delayed public transport, cancelled 240 flights and shut ferry services.

The rain is much needed in the drought-hit state but mudslides are a concern.

Power cuts were widespread, from the suburban area south of San Francisco to Humboldt, near the Oregon border.

National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson said: “It’s a two-pronged punch – it’s wind and rain.

“Once the ground gets saturated and the winds are howling, there’s a bigger chance of trees going down on power lines.”California storm December 2014

There were multiple vehicle accidents but no series injuries.

Rain and floods also led to rare weather-related school closures for students in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz County.

Some 240 flights at San Francisco’s airport were cancelled and delays averaged two hours, said a spokesman.

In Santa Cruz, a young child was trapped after an 80ft (24m) tree fell on his arm and shoulder,

Rescuers with chain saws cut it apart and the student was taken to hospital in a good condition.

In the small town of Healdsburg, cars were stalled in heavily flooded streets.

However, surfers welcomed forecast of waves as high as 15ft and unseasonably warm temperatures near San Francisco Bay and ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada were hoping for more than two feet of snow.

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San Francisco city has approved a measure for the November ballot that would place a two-cents-per-ounce municipal tax on sodas and other sugary beverages.

San Francisco is hoping to become the first major city to successfully impose such a levy.

Other US cities have tried and ultimately failed to tax sugary drinks. Among them has been Richmond, California, across the bay from San Francisco, where a penny-an-ounce tax was defeated after a multimillion-dollar campaign by the American Beverage Association.

San Francisco’s plan, which was approved on July 22 by a 6-4 vote of the board of supervisors, would be applied to any nonalcoholic, sweetened drink with more than 25 calories per 12 ounces.

“I think the nation is watching what happens here,” said John Maa, a surgeon on the board of directors at two organizations that support the measure, San Francisco Medical Society and American Heart Association.

“It has been referred to as a last stand.”

San Francisco city has approved the soda tax for the November ballot

San Francisco city has approved the soda tax for the November ballot (photo AP)

Roger Salazar, a spokesperson with Coalition for an Affordable City: Stop Unfair Beverages Taxes, a project of the American Beverage Association, said that if the city wants to educate people about health issues it should do so without taxing the most needy.

“Taxing sugar sweetened beverages won’t alter lifestyle,” Roger Salazar said.

“All it really does is impact the very people that are struggling to get by in San Francisco at a time when they can least afford it.”

San Francisco’s office of economic analysis estimates that the tax would bring in $35 to $54 million per year and, if it’s passed directly on to consumers, as expected, it could reduce consumption by 31%.

Income from the tax would go towards funding city programs to improve food access, health and nutrition.

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Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane – believed to be carrying 291 – crash landed at San Francisco airport this afternoon reportedly killing at least two passengers and injuring 61.

The tail of the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 flight from South Korea was ripped off in the tragic accident around 11.30 a.m. PDT and a huge blaze tore through the plane which onlookers described as spinning around on impact.

Horrific photographs of the damage emerged moments after the crash as well as cellphone videos of the plane as it spun out of control.

At least two of those on-board were killed, authorities have confirmed, with a further 61 injured.

Several other passengers managed to escape unscathed and could be seen fleeing down emergency inflatable slides.

A coastguard team was also dispatched to search the nearby water.

A huge smoke cloud could be seen for miles from the site of San Francisco International and tourists in the airport terminal and on waiting flights could only look on in horror as the plane spun across the runway on its belly.

Onlookers said much of the tail came off in the crash while others reported seeing the plane’s fuselage spinning around as it journeyed across the concourse.

The entire ceiling of the plane was destroyed in the blaze that immediately followed.

Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash landed at San Francisco airport this afternoon reportedly killing at least two passengers and injuring 61

Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash landed at San Francisco airport this afternoon reportedly killing at least two passengers and injuring 61

Emergency workers rushed to its aid and doused it with white foam to try and control the flames. They were able to help those who were miraculously able to escape the wreckage and were seen fleeing down emergency slides.

According to an excerpt of the radio recorded at the airport tower the plane was cleared to lane at 18.21, just over a minute later the flight called in and appears to have called for emergency assistance.

An onlooker named Kristina Stapchuck told CNN it looked like the tires split and the plane leaned back on the tail before the tail broke off.

Others described it as “cartwheeling” across the runway.

One witness told CNN that there didn’t seem to be any preparations for a crash landing before the plane came in suggesting it was an issue that only emerged on landing.

The weather conditions were also described as ideal for San Francisco airport which can often be blighted with fog and poor visibility.

Luckily no other standing planes were caught in the accident despite dozens waiting to take off from the major airport.

The plane departed Incheon airport near South Korea’s capital around 10 hours ago and was due to land at 9.45 a.m. on the West Coast.

All flights in and out of San Francisco have now been cancelled with several being diverted to nearby Oakland International or Los Angeles.

Face CEO Sheryl Sandberg was supposed to be on the flight but decided to change her flight last minute so she could use air miles on a United flight instead, according to her post on Facebook.

“Taking a minute to be thankful and explain what happened. My family, colleagues Debbie Frost, Charlton Gholson and Kelly Hoffman and I were originally going to take the Asiana flight that just crash-landed. We switched to United so we could use miles for my family’s tickets. Our flight was scheduled to come in at the same time, but we were early and landed about 20 minutes before the crash.”

Asiana is a South Korean airline, second in size to national carrier Korean Air. It has recently tried to expand its presence in the United States, and joined the OneWorld alliance, anchored by American Airlines and British Airways.

The 777-200 is a long-range plane from Boeing. The twin-engine aircraft is one of the world’s most popular long-distance planes, often used for flights of 12 hours or more, from one continent to another. The airline’s website says its 777s can carry between 246 to 300 passengers.

The last time a large U.S. airline lost a plane in a fatal crash was an American Airlines Airbus A300 taking off from JFK in 2001.

Smaller airlines have had crashes since then. The last fatal U.S. crash was a Continental Express flight operated by Colgan Air, which crashed into a house near Buffalo, N.Y. on February 12, 2009. The crash killed all 49 people on board and one man in a house.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of investigators to San Francisco to probe the crash. NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Saturday that NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman would head the team.

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Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the social networking pioneer and Internet privacy advocate who dared to challenge Facebook and Google, died on Saturday in San Francisco.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, 22, died Saturday after San Francisco police were summoned for a reported suicide, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy was one of the founders Diaspora*, a new social networking service meant to give users more control of their information online, and sought to lure people away from bigger sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Police would not release other details of his death and a medical examiner’s report could take weeks before it becomes public.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the social networking pioneer and Internet privacy advocate who dared to challenge Facebook and Google, died on Saturday in San Francisco

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, the social networking pioneer and Internet privacy advocate who dared to challenge Facebook and Google, died on Saturday in San Francisco

Ilya Zhitomirskiy and three friends, Daniel Grippi, Maxwell Salzberg, and Raphael Sofaer, launched a trial run of Diaspora* in 2010, which attracted the attention of The New York Times and National Public Radio and left the tech world buzzing.

The four friends were all students at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Ilya Zhitomirskiy described himself on his Twitter account as a “free culture and open web enthusiast. Now one of the four Diaspora* bros.”

Despite their desire to compete with Facebook, the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg praised the group, telling Wired last year: “I think it is cool people are trying to do it.

“I see a little of myself in them. It’s just their approach that the world could be better and saying, <<We should try to do it.>>”

Friends and fans of Ilya Zhitomirskiy have written tributes on Twitter after hearing of his death, with one posting: “Death of a young entrepreneur is a great loss to the community.”

The four friends announced their software programme in April 2010 and raised more than $200,000 for the project through the online fundraising system Kickstarter.

The project even inspired Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to donate money to the project.

In November 2010 the four students released a consumer alpha version of the programme, while still making further developments.

Diaspora* is based around privacy concerns related to centralized social networks by allowing users to set up their own servers to host content and then interact with others by sharing status updates, photographs and other data – much like Facebook.

But Diaspora* is different because sites like Facebook and Google store user data within their own networks and own whatever data users upload.

Ilya Zhitomirskiy was a hardcore computer programmer, obsessed with Internet security and maintaining privacy online.

But since he began working on Diaspora*, Ilya Zhitomirskiy began focusing on user interfaces and started thinking about how to lure “normal” users away from Facebook.

“We want to move people from websites that are not healthy to websites that are more healthy, because they’re transparent,” Ilya Zhitomirskiy told New York magazine last year.

“Even though a nontechnical person may not understand it, they’ll know there’s a community that has said, this is okay.”

Co-founder Raphael Sofaer told the New York Times last year: “In our real lives, we talk to each other.

“We don’t need to hand our messages to a hub. What Facebook gives you as a user isn’t that hard to do.

“All the little games, the little walls, the little chat, aren’t really rare things. The technology already exists.”

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Two earthquakes took place on Thursday in Texas and California, according to US Geological Survey.

The first one was a 4.8 magnitude earthquake which took place in Texas, having the epicenter near rural Karnes County, 47 miles southwest of San Antonio. The quake struck at 7:24 a.m. local time and was eye-opening because it was a record breaker.

It was the largest earthquake on record for the area, surpassing a magnitude of 4.3 shock recorded in 1993, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Don Blakeman, USGS geophysicist, said that southern Texas has been experiencing small earthquakes since the 1970s, and that 14 quakes between 2.6 and 3.4 magnitudes have been recorded since 1982.

However, the Thursday morning quake was significantly larger.

Don Blakeman also said it is impossible to predict if there will be any aftershocks. The Texas quake was both big enough to produce some small aftershocks and small enough that they wouldn’t necessarily be expected.

The second earthquake took place in California and had a 3.9 magnitude. The quake had the epicenter two miles southeast of Berkeley near San Francisco. It caused a sharp jolt but no immediate signs of damages or injuries.

The earthquake in California struck at 2:31 p.m. local time and was at a depth of about 6.1 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

San Francisco quake struck in the same day Californians took part in an annual earthquake preparedness drill

San Francisco quake struck in the same day Californians took part in an annual earthquake preparedness drill

Yesterday, the earthquake in California was felt as a sharp jolt in the East Bay area, and across the bay in San Francisco. The quake came almost 22 years to the day after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area during the 1989 World Series.

It also came on the same day Californians took part in an annual earthquake preparedness drill at 10:20 a.m. Thursday. More than 8.5 million people signed up to participate in the 2011 Great California ShakeOut.

Restaurant workers of San Francisco, California, want to implement a standard tip of 25% onto the bill.

According to Contra Costa Times , the restaurant workers proposals for standard 25% tipping in San Francisco already have support from some high-class restaurants.

The main issue with their proposal is that diners should pay the 25% tip whether the service is good or bad.

Regularly, people are tipping on average somewhere between 15 and 20%.

Restaurant workers of San Francisco want to implement a standard tip of 25 per cent onto the bill

Restaurant workers of San Francisco want to implement a standard tip of 25 per cent onto the bill

The San Francisco restaurant workers proposal comes after a recent incident, when a diner declined to tip a waitress in Washington and allegedly insulted her on the receipt.

Victoria Liss was so incensed by the diner’s comment and his lack of gratuity, that she has made it her mission to find the “jerk” responsible.

The waitress posted a picture of the offending receipt on her Facebook page and named the customer as Andrew Meyer, after she found the name of the credit card user.

The picture of the offending receipt was re-posted on Facebook, blogged, tweeted and reported on by several media outlets.

The proposal of standard tipping in San Francisco, however, has not gone down well with those living nearby.

Speaking to Contra Costa Times, Mike Alexander, from Antioch, said:

“They have to be kidding.

“The whole purpose of a tip is to reward service. If the price is dictated it’s not a tip.

“If they’re serious they’ll meet a lot of resistance. It seems like everyone is trying to squeeze another buck out of us.”

Another potential diner, Martha Haider, from Brentwood, also told Contra Costa Times: “I don’t mind tipping for good service, but 25% is going too far.”

“There might be some well-heeled people who will do it, but not me.”

Around the world there are wide variations for a standard tip, often leaving even the most experienced of travelers confused.

The tipping rules sometime can be extremely complicated and vary not only by country but also by scenario.

According to travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, tipping in the Middle East is “complex and subtle”. While you may pay out often, it is usually in smaller amounts.

In some of the world’s poorer countries – including those in Africa – travelers are advised to not just be generous but also thoughtful.

Travelers are advised to always tip in India as it has been known for restaurant workers to run after people and scream for money.

In Europe, one rule is too always tip in cash and not on credit card. That way, the waiter or waitress will receive the money.

In the U.S you would be expected to leave between 15 and 20% on a meal. But in Latin America it is more like 8 to 12%.