The identity of @HiddenCash is hidden no more. He’s Jason Buzi, a San Francisco real estate investor, house-flipper, author, internet marketer and entrepreneur. For the past two weeks Buzi has played the role of benevolent mystery man, hiding money across California. Nearly half a million followers of his Twitter read the clues he leaves and solve the scavenger hunt for cash. Within days of uncovering @HiddenCash’s identity more than a week ago, NBC Bay Area found in Buzi's past a history of cash-giveaways, online money-making attempts and controversial real-estate deals.
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NASA acknowledged that the government agency has been effectively giving a price break on jet fuel to a private company. In a letter to an Iowa Senator, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs admitted the agency was selling jet fuel below market rates to H2-11, a company owned by the founders of Google. Senator Chuck Grassley said he received the letter on Thursday, March 6, although it's dated Feb. 24, NBC Bay Area reported. In the letter, NASA's Seth Statler writes, “in light of the concerns expressed with those agreements, NASA has reviewed its pricing approach and…is now charging a ‘market rate’ for aviation fuel at Ames research center.”
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Illegal pot grow sites in California's national parks have begun to take a toll on the surrounding wildlife and environment the public pays to protect. It doesn’t matter what they’re growing; it’s how they’re growing it that’s killing wildlife, tainting water supplies and endangering hikers at national parks. Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon in California have become the new ground zero for marijuana growing on public land. NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit rode along with a sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Task Force last month on a bust of a grow site just yards from Kings Canyon, where they discovered shotguns, 280 marijuana plants and large containers of poison used to protect the crops. Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter last week to the EPA condemning the illegal pot growers and asking it to help identify environmental crimes that are having deadly effects on nearly-endangered species, like the Pacific Fisher. There are only 300 of the weasel-like mammals left in California.
NBC Bay Area
A year-long examination of federal government documents shows that a company owned by the founders of Google has purchased millions of dollars’ worth of jet fuel at below-market prices from NASA and the Pentagon. The records show the company, H211, whose principals are also the principals of Google, used the fuel to fly their private airplanes around the world. Local officials in Santa Clara County confirm that H211 pays no property taxes on the airplanes that are housed at Moffett — a potential loss to local tax rolls of up to $500,000 per airplane per year. A NASA Space Agreement which lets the planes be housed at Moffett, in exchange for $108,938.62 a month in rent. NASA was allowed to use the planes for science — but an examination of records by NBC Bay Area in May 2012 showed that only 155 out of more than 1,039 flights were actually used for science. Newly released fuel records show the planes used the below-market-rate fuel to fly to exotic locales like Paris and Tahiti.
For the first time, California state law will now directly regulate and track the controversial practice of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, for oil in the state. Thursday, California Senate Bill Four (SB4) which provides for direct regulation, tracking, monitoring and oversight of fracking operations in the state passed concurrence, meaning the language meets approval of both the State Senate and State Assembly. It now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown to sign into law. The action follows an NBC Bay Area Investigation last year that uncovered how widespread and unregulated fracking is in California. But environmental critics say the law has huge holes in it and does not go far enough. They say it would have been better if the California legislature would have done nothing. Oil and gas companies representatives aren’t happy with the new bill, either. They say it goes too far and could impact the state’s energy future.