Brightest ideas of the week: Nov. 22, 2009

Tim Lincecum

What: The Giants’ ace pitcher won his second straight National League Cy Young Award, which goes to the top pitcher in each league.

Why: Coming off a dominant first full year in the major leagues last season, Lincecum was even more dominant in 2009 and won a razor-close vote by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The lanky right-hander dubbed “The Freak” and “The Franchise” led the NL in strikeouts (261) while posting a 15-7 record. His 15 wins are the least by a Cy Young winner in history during a non-shortened season. He paced a pitching staff that single-handedly kept the Giants in playoff contention until late in the season.

1. Going against the grain

Richmond leaders honor woman who reported gang rape

The details: These days you hear a lot about how people in crime-plagued neighborhoods are intimidated from “snitching” to the police. Thank goodness, an 18-year-old Richmond High graduate ignored such pressure and called 911 the night a 16-year-old girl was gang raped after leaving the school’s homecoming dance. Acts of conscience need to be honored if we hope to encourage them.

2. Adios

Warriors ship disgruntled star out of town

The details: Just a year after seemingly shedding his label as a malcontent and stepping into a bigger leadership role, Stephen Jackson earned himself a one-way ticket out of the Bay Area when the Warriors shipped the guard-forward to one of the NBA’s versions of Siberia — the Charlotte Bobcats — along with guard Acie Law for guard Raja Bell and forward Vladimir Radmanovic. This summer, Jackson moaned and groaned, then gave up his captaincy during training camp after apparent disagreements with coach Don Nelson.

3. This land is your land

Congress allots funds toward GGNRA expansion

The details: Rancho Corral de Tierra, land surrounding Montara and Moss Beach, is the largest piece of undeveloped space on the San Mateo coast, according to the Peninsula Open Space Trust. POST owns the land, but will transfer it to the National Park Service for federal protection. Congress has set aside a total of $11 million to date towards the purchase.

4. Gift card action

Fed cracks down on gift card abuse

The details: The Federal Reserve proposed new rules protecting consumers from hidden costs and restrictions on gift cards, as directed by Congress. Consumers would have at least five years to use gift cards before expiration, and service or inactivity fees may be charged only under limited conditions. More than 95 percent of Americans have used gift cards. Public comment is now open for the Fed’s proposal, which could be revised before taking effect Aug. 22.

5. Sold!

Feds auction off Madoff yacht, boats, car

The details: Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff’s yacht, two boats and a Mercedes-Benz convertible were sold at auction this week for more than $1 million combined. The private auction was held by the U.S. Marshals Service, which seized Madoff's property and assets after his massive Ponzi scheme was exposed. All proceeds will benefit Madoff's wronged investors. Madoff himself is serving a 150-year federal prison sentence.

6. Staying put

Raiders extend stadium lease in Oakland

The details: As the NFL pushes even closer to a state-of-the-art stadium in Los Angeles and rumblings of a mystery team hitting the country’s second-biggest television market, the Raiders secured their future in Oakland through the 2014 season. The team, despite its poor play and continued television blackouts due to an inability to sell out the stadium, agreed to a three-year lease extension to remain at the Oakland Coliseum. The deal needs City Council approval. The current lease was set to expire after next season.

7. No drinking league</p>

NFL cracks down on unruly fans

The details: Football and beer go together like coffee and cream. But with a number of fans creating disturbances during games after having a bit too much to drink before the game, the NFL has asked teams to limit tailgating to just 3½ hours before the game. Many teams allow fans into parking lots five hours before kickoff. It has rubbed many fans the wrong way, several of which have even threatened not to renew their season tickets.

8. Santa’s shot

St. Nick asks to get swine flu vaccine

The details: As millions of children prepare to flock to overpriced malls in hopes of telling Santa Claus what they want for Christmas, jolly old St. Nick could be a health hazard. That is why department store Santas are lobbying to receive the swine flu vaccine before kids climb onto their laps. While children are one of the groups most-susceptible of coming down with the H1N1 virus, obesity — a key trait for a jolly elf — is a major risk factor in contracting the illness.

9. Third-world kids

U.N. says more children are in school, fewer are dying

The details: Twenty years after the U.N. treaty guaranteeing children’s rights, 1 billion children are still deprived of food, shelter or clean water, and nearly 200 million are chronically malnourished. But there are some significant improvements — fewer youngsters are dying and more are going to school. The U.N. treaty has the widest support of any human rights treaty, ratified by 193 countries. The United States has not ratified it because of some groups’ fears about infringement of parents’ rights.

10. Huge education gift

Bill Gates gives $335 million to improve teacher quality

The details: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is handing three school districts and a coalition of charter schools $335 million to test some radical ideas for improving teacher quality — from paying new teachers to spend another year practicing before having their own class to letting student test scores affect teacher pay. The focus is on putting the best teachers in the most challenging classrooms with added roles as mentors and coaches. It is the biggest Gates Foundation gift for education reform.

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