Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Uncertain Future of Journalism

by Sam Levin
Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Last night, Bay Area journalists got together at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club for a panel discussion on the approaching death of newspapers and the uncertain future for news media and journalism at large.

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Michael Jackson's Ride Featured at Alameda County Fair

by Sam Levin
Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 5:18 PM

The Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, which opens tomorrow, will feature a ride purchased from Michael Jackson's infamous Neverland Ranch amusement park.

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Nomad Cafe Changing Owners

Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 11:42 AM

"It's official: nomad is changing owners."was the report on twitter

The coffee shop on Shattuck Ave. in the Ashby BART neighborhood has been a pillar of the community. Caffeine and Pastries. Live music. Local Art Gallery. Meeting space for knitters. Unofficial wifi office for many nearby residents. Oh yeah, and they're green, oh so green.

Also according the Nomad's twitter feed, the new owners take over August 3rd and already own Orchard Valley Coffee in Campbell, Coffee to the People in the Haight, and Thinkers Cafe in Potrero.

Current owner Christopher Waters, who lives on the same block as the cafe, sent the following email to the Express:

I founded the Nomad Cafe six years ago and am proud of what I, my staff and our community have done together.  Over the past year and a half, my other work and family obligations became much more pronounced, and I did not want to see Nomad's committed focus on community, art and sustainability compromised.  My greatest concerns were to ensure that my staff would not be displaced, that the Nomad venue, name and philosophy would live on to continue benefiting Oakland, Berkeley and beyond, and that the business would remain to inspire others like it, both in the Nomad neighborhood and elsewhere.

I am delighted that the incoming owners not only share our philosophy, but have the experience and inspiration necessary to live up to our reputation without living in our shadow.  Nomad's accomplishments under the new ownership will continue to bring me a sense of personal pride, and I will enjoy watching it grow and thrive.

I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has ever supported Nomad Cafe with their business,  loyalty, and friendship.  I'm honored to have been a part of building this institution and I'm thrilled that the transition is not a goodbye.  Nomad is my neighborhood cafe and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the Nomad Community.

Christopher Waters

Eric Klein

Brown Takes Big Lead in Governor's Race

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 10:47 AM

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has received a big boost in the polls thanks to the decision by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to drop out of next year's governor's race, according to the Chron. With the race for the Democratic nomination now between Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the former Oakland mayor has opened up a commanding 20 point lead. It appears that most of Villaraigosa's supporters have moved over to Brown.

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Future Is in Doubt for County's Largest Private Employer

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 9:53 AM

The future of Alameda County's largest private employer, the NUMMI auto plant, is in doubt because General Motors is pulling out of Fremont, according to the Chron. As part of its bankruptcy restructuring, GM is abandoning its longtime deal with Toyota to jointly make autos at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory. Toyota has not decided whether it will continue NUMMI on its own. One drawback could be that NUMMI workers are unionized and Toyota typically runs non-union auto plants.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

BART Cop Hurled N-Word at Oscar Grant

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 6:58 AM

BART cop Anthony Pirone called Oscar Grant a "Bitch-ass Nigger," just before fellow BART cop Johannes Mehserle shot Grant to death as he lay face down on the ground, according to the Chron. Pirone was caught hurling the racial epithet on tape, and the bombshell revelation may further help explain how a routine arrest suddenly turned deadly. Pirone, however, maintains that he was merely repeating what Grant had said to him moments before. There is only one problem: Grant can't be heard on the tapes, while Pirone can. Moreover, Pirone has a history of not telling the truth.

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Oakland Schools Get Local Control Today

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 6:41 AM

After more than six years of running Oakland schools, the state Department of Education will finally return local control to the district today. The long-awaited move by State Superintendent Jack O'Connell comes nearly seven months after state auditors recommended it. Oakland's locally elected school board will now have full authority over nearly all aspects of the district for the first time since the state took over in June 2003. The state, however, will maintain veto power over all financial decisions for years to come, because the district still owes about $80 million to the state from its original $100 million loan.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

County Guts Criminal Justice System

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 6:34 AM

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to make deep cuts in the criminal justice system to help fix the county's $178 million budget deficit. According to the Trib, the supervisors went ahead with plans announced earlier this month to cut 14 prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office, 15 defense attorneys from the Public Defender's Office, 49 positions in the Probation Department, and 100 jobs in the county Sheriff's Office. The cuts will further burden the already overwhelmed county court system, and likely will have serious consequences for cities with crime problems, especially Oakland. But the supervisors left open the possibility of restoring some, if not all, of the jobs if the affected unions will take pay cuts. "If they want to stop layoffs, they have to give back," said Supervisor Nate Miley. Let's hope the unions make the right choice.

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Tauscher Confirmed to State Department Post

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 6:18 AM

The US Senate finally confirmed East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher to a top State Department post, according to the Chron. Tauscher is to become a lead adviser to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on arms control issues. Her nomination reportedly had been held up by Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, who was unhappy about the Obama administration's plans with Russia to reduce both countries nuclear weapons' arsenals. Tauscher's confirmation sets in motion a special election to fill her seat in the US House of Representatives. Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi and state Senator Mark DeSaulnier are the leading candidates to replace her.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Berkeley Couple Takes on Food Stamp Challenge

by Sam Levin
Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 2:08 PM

For one week, Yoav and Shira Potash spent no more than a dollar per meal. And their meals were all whole-grain, seasonal, and organic.

The Berkeley couple completed what is known as the food stamp challenge: Eat meals that cost a dollar or less for an entire seven-day period. Shira, a certified nutrition educator who teaches in Hayward, brought the idea to her husband after she first learned of the challenge at a nutrition conference. She had seen local Congresswoman Barbara Lee take on a similar low-budget diet plan for a week. Shira, however, wanted to add her own twist. Instead of the ramen noodles, large jars of peanut butter, and white bread that typically make up a dollar meal, she wanted to eat with the high health standards she preaches to her primarily low-income students.

So Yoav and Shira spent a week eating as cheaply and as healthily as possible - which meant a lot of lentils, and sometimes a can of tuna. They also stormed Andronico's and Berkeley Bowl for some free - and, of course, organic - samples. The couple even went Dumpster diving for a loaf of whole wheat bread.

They completed their challenge in 2008, and since then have been shooting and editing a film about their experience, called Food Stamped, which will screen this Sunday at the JCC East Bay Theater.

Both agreed that the most difficult and surprising part of the whole experience was the amount of time and planning they had to devote to the week. "Everything had to be planned out," said Shira. "We couldn't have our normal social life. It was like taking a week out of our lives."

"We worked our butts off," Yoav added. "We did a good job." Part of the film includes a trip to a registered dietician for a kind of report card assessment, which concluded that their meals were in fact balanced and that they certainly made the most of their dollar, though the dietician also determined that both of them were not getting quite enough calories on the whole. Their diet - which pretty much cut out all meat options and mostly consisted of protein from dried beans - also lacked Vitamin D.

Yoav, a filmmaker, said he was at first skeptical to take on the challenge. "I was like, food stamp what?" He said it sounded to him more like the south central diet. But after Shira roped him into filming the whole experience, he dived in alongside his wife, and as Shira said, it was a really nice way to meld their two careers together.

They both agreed that they learned a lot from it. "It really gave me the idea of how difficult it is to eat on a budget," Shira said, adding that she is now more cost-conscious at the grocery store.

Yoav said that the film also includes some of their larger political beliefs. "It is really hard to eat healthy. And our current government policies subsidize a system that relies on cheap and junky starches," he said. "That's how McDonalds can offer a Big Mac for a buck."

Food Stamped screens on Sunday, June 28, 7:00 pm at the JCC East Bay Theater. Tickets: $10.

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