As the Cal College Republicans' "affirmative action bake sale" — at which patrons are charged differently for pastries based on race and gender — becomes national news, Slate's ever-informative Dave Weigel has a fascinating piece on the (apparently long) history of the phenomenon, which dates back at least nine years to a 2002 sale of "quota cookies" at the University of New Mexico. Weigel's ultimate conclusions:
1) Inflation isn't much of a problem for baked goods. The dollar baseline has remained strong for nearly a decade.
2) It's awfully fortunate that intellectual originality isn't as much of a factor in admission as race is.
Read the full post here.
Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Oakland schools Superintendent Tony Smith is proposing to close five elementary schools and consolidate several small schools at the city’s high school campuses in a cost-cutting move, the Chron and Trib report. Smith has been arguing for the past couple years that Oakland can no longer afford to have so many schools because of declining enrollment over the past decade. The district has lost about one-third of its students since 2000, but still has the same number of schools. Oakland, as a result, now has the fewest students per school of any large district in the state.
According to NBC News, the actor-turned-activist flew all the way to Venezuela to placate his homey Hugo Chavez, who, in turn, encouraged Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release UC Berkeley grads Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who spent more than two years in prison for alleged espionage. Anyone who watched clips of Penn's amazing derring-do in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, or saw his on-screen depiction of former US diplomat Joseph Wilson, wouldn't doubt it for a minute.
Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is coming under heated criticism because overgrown vegetation at her Oakland home appears to represent not only a fire hazard but blight under city law, KTVU and the Chron report. At Tuesday night’s council meeting, City Hall gadfly Ken Pratt displayed photos of the mayor’s home and called her the “Queen of Blight.” A gardener hired by Quan’s family said he was dispatched to clean-up vegetation at the home after the council meeting. At a press briefing, Quan admitted that she has not maintained vegetation in front of her home during much of the past two years while she was campaigning and then taking over as mayor. She and the fire department also said that none of her neighbors have complained and that her home has repeatedly passed fire inspections.
2. Quan, meanwhile, appeared to reassure the federal judge who is considering placing the Oakland Police Department in receivership because of its slow progress in adopting mandated reforms, the Trib reports. “I'm committed as mayor to end this so you can go on and we can go on,” Quan told Judge Thelton Henderson at a hearing yesterday. “Thank you for those comments and that commitment,” the judge responded. “I'm encouraged by that.” Henderson had been considering putting OPD under federal receivership right away, but decided to give the mayor and the department until January. Still, Henderson remains frustrated at OPD’s lack of progress and called out the department for its “culture of resistance” to the mandated reforms.
This is campaign piece from Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard prof running for US Senate in Massachusetts, may be the single best political video of the year. It's all about the social contract — a contract, that Republicans and tea partiers these days contend doesn't exist:
Twenty-three thousand California health care workers are picketing outside their workplaces today, drawing attention to a massive debate over contract negotiations at Sutter Health. The demonstration, which may be the largest of its kind, began the same most employee pickets do — with a debate over cuts and benefits. Since health care is one of the few industries that appears to be thriving during the economic downturn, nurses can still clash with hospitals over benefits, pay, and pensions. Right now workers at Sutter are rankled over increases in health premium and retirement contributions, as well as cuts to paid sick-leave, which, workers note, would endanger patients besides inconveniencing workers.
After two years in an Iranian prison, UC Berkeley grads Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, were finally freed on $1 million bail, the Merc reports. The two men had been hiking in the Kurdish region in July of 2009 when they apparently crossed an unmarked boorder with Iran, where they were captured and accused of espionage. A fellow hiker, Sarah Shourd, was also arrested and released on $500,000 bail last year. She met Fattal and Bauer — to whom she is now engaged — at a main international airport in the gulf state of Oman. The men, who had been sharing a cell and were let out for only 40 minutes a day, blindfolded, were described as "thin, but in good health."
Good news for fans of sangria, limoncello, herb-infused spirits, and other fruity, spice-y, liquory awesomeness: earlier today, Governor Brown signed a bill reversing an age-old ban on bars infusing liquor with their own fruits, herbs, and other flavorings.Change.org petition recently circulated by a pair of SF bartenders, "The original law was intended to control the production of spirits being distilled outside of the parameters of the government (i.e. those not paying taxes on illegally distilled spirits, or rather, moonshine). As we move farther away from this time, the spirit of that law couldn't be more irrelevant, while the letter of that law has proven incredibly problematic for a very large group of people — those hardworking and creative people in the bar and restaurant business." The petition only got 635 onlien signatures, but no matter: the ban was lifted immediately after Brown signed the bill — which, as NBC LA points out, means you can go ahead and order your infused liquors right this instant if you'd like. We'll drink to that.
The premiere of the film Moneyball has been a big boost this week for Oakland, particularly with Brad Pitt showing up Monday night at the Paramount Theatre. But there’s also a compelling case being made that the bestselling book on which the film was based helped prompt the downfall of Oakland’s beloved baseball team.
Anyone who remembers the flap about Feelmore510 might think the same fate has befallen Good Vibrations, the Everest of "sex positive" retailers, which is currently trying to open a shop on Lakeshore Avenue. But it's actually a little different this time. Whereas Feelmore vied for a storefront on 17th and Telegraph, close to Youth Radio and Oakland School of the Arts, but far from, say, toy stores, yogurt shops, city parks, and other places where little kids dwell. This location, in contrast, is smack in the middle of what many people describe as a "family friendly" corridor of Lake Merritt, about 500 feet from a park, and cheek-by-jowl with a lot of businesses that serve the very young (including, yes, toy stores — the G-rated kind).