Dispatches From The Edge—Syria Attack: Changing the Rules

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday December 04, 2008 - 09:54:00 AM

A little more than a month ago, four U.S. Blackhawk helicopters cros-sed the Syrian border from Iraq and attacked a civilian farmhouse near the town of al-Sukkariyeh. The U.S. claims the farmhouse was an al-Qaeda way station and the eight men killed during the raid were terrorists, including a major al-Qaeda leader, Abu Ghadiya. The Syrians say the dead—five of them members of the same family—were building a house and had nothing to do with terrorism or al-Qaeda. A BBC report found that most of the dead appeared to be construction workers, including a night watchman, which suggests the raid may have been botched. -more-

Undercurrents: Elements of Brown’s ‘Community Cleansing’ Still in Effect Under Dellums

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday December 04, 2008 - 09:55:00 AM

Oakland, in the Jerry Brown years, practiced an unofficial policy of what might be called “community cleansing.” This is not to be confused with “ethnic cleansing,” the horrific activity in parts of, say, Eastern Europe or Central Africa where whole ethnic populations are violently and bloodily removed, either through exile or actual genocide. No, Mr. Brown’s “community cleansing” policies were far more genteel, involving little violence (though some—that’s what the whole Oakland Riders police scandal was about) and targeting not whole ethnic groups, but rather portions of the population that were considered as being “undesirables.” Part of this involved harassment, part of it deliberate neglect of certain population segments and entire neighborhoods. In their place, Mr. Brown sought to attract more “desirable” (in his opinion) Oakland residents. Thus, while whole neighborhoods wasted away in the Brown administration, havens for crime and violence and poverty, Mr. Brown put millions of dollars of city funds into shiny new neighborhoods (the famous “10K plan”) that sought to attract people to live in Oakland who had previously looked down upon the city. -more-

Green Neighbors: Dealing with Sudden Oak Death: Dying by Degrees

By Ron Sullivan
Thursday December 04, 2008 - 10:11:00 AM
A live-oak in China Camp, dying by degrees. This is one of the places hardest-hit by SOD, but there are still live live-oaks who just might be a basis for species survival.

In dealing with Sudden Oak Death, we’re trying to limit or cope with an enormous wide-ranging biological change, the sort of thing we can’t quite map let alone stop. Its outlines are almost fractal; one complication leads to more and those to more still, and that’s true at whatever scale we see it. But fractals can be calculated, and we don’t quite have the knowledge to calculate this stuff precisely. -more-

About the House: Working Well with Contractors (Horror Story or Happy Ending?)

By Matt Cantor
Thursday December 04, 2008 - 10:11:00 AM

Why do so many people have horror stories about remodeling and the contractors who perform this work? Is there a direct line from the Mafia to the remodeling industry? Do they post notices in High School locker rooms reading “School not working out? Why not try contracting? Anyone can qualify!” As a recovering contractor and one who inspects the work of contractors, I have had occasion to see both sides of this curious and often heated area of commerce. -more-