The demise of coverage of Berkeley’s commission meetings by news outlets, including this one, makes it desirable or even mandatory for anyone who’s interested in local public policy (estimated to be about 1000 of our 113,000 citizens) to watch meetings as online video. Currently that’s only possible for city council and the zoning adjustment board, both of which meet in the wired-for-video city council chambers in the Maudelle Shirek building. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
How to report the news continues to be a question. Today (Friday) we’ve been flooded with interesting press releases, and even with Riya’s help I can’t possibly re-write them all to appear that we did original reporting to dig up the information. And besides, I’m thoroughly bored with that technique, a staple of conventional reporting in the many years since I started as a journalist. So what I’ve done instead, thanks to the magic of modern word processing, is simply to swallow them whole: to post full releases, and rely on the good sense of the readers to ignore any hype the senders might have added. -more-
Looking for something entertaining to do on Memorial Day this year? How about attending at least a hundred garage sales? -more-
It was with quite some shock that we learned in the press today that incoming freshman for the class of 2014 in the College of Letters and Science will be sent a swab with which to send in a DNA sample. Your website announcement of the program states “(T)he information Berkeley students will glean from their genetic analysis can only lead to positive outcomes.” This is a woefully naïve. The information produced by these tests, even for ostensibly benign purposes, has the risk of increasingly being used out of context in ways that are contrary to the interests of the individual, perhaps even discriminatory and certainly privacy invasive. Having worked for many years on passing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) I am keenly aware of the number of entities, from pharmaceutical companies wanting to target their marketing to banks and life insurance companies that want to use such information to discriminate, that are actively seeking this information. Many of these uses remain unprotected and unregulated; such testing should not be taken lightly. -more-
Here is a little clip of some of the protest outside the Helios construction site.
Mainly I got Michael Delacour speaking.
Michael talks about his experiences working as a welder in the oil industry—about unions, and how that the rig that went up in the gulf was not a union rig. -more-
The Berkeley Planning Commission’s usual majority resorted to skullduggery on May 19. They had to, to override the opposition. The only interest groups on their side are realtors and big-property-owning developers. They have money but not many votes. The opposition are a large group of active residents, the Ecology Center, the Sierra Club, the industrial interest group WEBAIC and various of its members, and the Northern California Recycling Association. The votes may be on the opposition’s side, and the city may get the chance to see if they are. -more-
This is a letter Library Users Association sent to the Planning Commission expressing concern about the Berkeley Public Library's product and process for carrying out branch library renovations under Measure FF and the consequent concerns about granting the Library special exemptions from the customary scrutiny that its current and future building projects would undergo: -more-
On June 8th you will be asked to vote on Measure C to provide funds to construct, repair and maintain Berkeley’s four public pools – a therapeutic warm water pool to be built at West Campus, repair of the existing West Campus and Willard pools, and repair and expand the King Middle School pool. I’m voting yes on Measure C, and writing this because many people have asked me why. -more-
Every transit agency in the Bay Area, and beyond, is hurting financially, but AC Transit has more financial resources than many, so if there had been good stewardship of their funds, they may have had to cut some service, but not to the bone. At a recent Financial and Audit Committee meeting they recognized it was to the bone and said after the presently slated cuts, there would be no more in the foreseeable future. -more-
Recently the U.S. and Iran have been engaged in an intense battle that involves both diplomacy and sanctions. On May 17, 2010 Iran announced a deal that would have Iran ship low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for higher-enriched nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor. The announcement of the deal was intended by Iran to deter Russia and China from reaching an accord with the U.S. imposing tougher U.N. sanctions against Iran. -more-
As everyone certainly knows, government, families and individuals are facing catastrophic loss of assets and income, a situation deemed by most experts as the most serious since the Great Depression. There is no sure end in sight and there is a reasonable chance that the situation could even worsen. -more-
In a stunning move that targets the poor, the Obama Administration is pushing hard to privatize our nations 1.2 million public housing units, in addition to proposing a radical change to the way 13 major federal subsidized housing programs including the Section 8 voucher program, are being funded by congress. -more-
When 9/11 occurred, the TV stations played the images of the planes hitting the towers for hours and days, thereby showing it to lots of people, since they couldn't explain it, no one from the government had yet delivered misinformation.The event then sank into the eyes and minds of the watchers as an actual event not a construction of Hollywood. A true disaster has to stay around. How? By repetition. -more-