Toyota, Audi Prep Self-Driving Cars

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Toyota Motor Corp. and Audi AG are throwing their hats into the ring of potential suppliers of self-driving vehicles.

Both auto makers confirmed on Thursday that they will be demonstrating autonomous-driving features at the Consumer Electronics Show in the coming week, signaling a new effort to raise the technology’s profile among consumers.

In a preview video posted to its website on Thursday, Toyota showed a five-second clip of one of its Lexus brand cars outfitted with various sensors and the caption, “Lexus advanced active safety research vehicle is leading the industry into a new automated era.”

Boutique Cinemas Veer Toward the Nonprofit Scene

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Some of San Francisco’s boutique movie theaters have found a new way to boost revenue: become a nonprofit or rely on financial support from nonprofit groups.

In recent years, the Roxie Theater has become a nonprofit, while the Balboa Theatre and the Vogue Theatre have started using more dollars from a nonprofit organization for maintenance and upgrades. Of the roughly 20 movie theaters in the city, about half aren’t part of a theater chain, according to theater executives.

Take Zap! Tech Geeks, Starved for More Battery Power, Give Themselves a Charge

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Any geek can tell you that battery life hasn’t kept up with gadget innovations. But not to worry: Inventors are figuring out how to turn geeks into batteries.

While most gadget lovers hunt for empty wall sockets to charge their devices, Kevin Bartholomew just plugs his cellphone into his hip. That is where he keeps a nine-inch device looped around his belt that converts the kinetic energy of his motion into enough power to keep his devices running.

Mr. Bartholomew’s tube-shaped personal energy generator, called the nPower PEG, can turn 15 minutes of walking into a minute of phone talk time.

Hopes Dim for a Haight Street Lift

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When Whole Foods Market Inc. opened a store in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury early this year, many locals and community leaders hoped it would help improve a grungy corner of their famous neighborhood. Nearly a year later, they’re still waiting.

Since the upscale market opened in February across from a section of Golden Gate Park known as Alvord Lake, known for attracting drug dealers and homeless people, crime within a 500-foot radius of the store has shot up, according to the San Francisco Police Department. At the same time, Whole Foods hasn’t lifted the overall neighborhood’s business prospects, sales-tax receipts data from the San Francisco Comptroller’s Office show.

Steve Jobs Memorial Held

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Apple plans to close some of its retail stores for at least an hour Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter, a gesture that coincides with the company’s planned celebration of co-founder Steve Jobs’s life at its headquarters.

Retail employees were informed that a private company event was scheduled and that the retail stores will temporarily close during that time, according to two people who work for Apple but aren’t authorized to speak on its behalf. One of the employees said the event would last for up to three hours.

California High Court Upholds Furlough Plan

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SAN FRANCISCO—California’s top court ruled Monday the state has the authority to furlough state workers, potentially clearing one more hurdle to the eventual passage of California’s budget.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of California ruled the state’s 2010 budget, passed in 2009, gave Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger authority to furlough state workers being paid under that budget. The ruling doesn’t directly address furloughs recently enacted by the governor. California is currently operating without a budget.

Barack Obama and Selma, Alabama

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Many factors went into making Barack Obama the man he is today. But had he come of age at any other time, the color of his skin would have dashed any of his hopes.

I traveled to Selma, Alabama, to revisit its civil rights legacy and to find out exactly what Barack Obama’s presidency means to the people who struggled all those years ago.