Monday, December 28, 2009

Tech Press Gets Wind of Berkeley High Lab Ban

by Chris Thompson
Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Wired editor Chris Anderson read the East Bay Express' piece on the Berkeley High proposal to end science labs, even for AP classes, and redirect the funds toward remedial education. So he did what any self-respecting tech magazine editor would do: he tweeted it. And TechDirt promptly picked up the piece. "It seems like there must be more to this story than what's being reported," writes blogger Mike Masnick. "The concept of cutting science labs because more white students take them just seems too preposterous to make sense." Will this thing go viral? And will the school board finally step back from the brink?

Berkeley to Declare War on Plastic Bags

by Chris Thompson
Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 10:42 AM

It's a little surprising to realize that Berkeley is late to this game, but according to the Contra Costa Times, the city is finally gearing up to ban plastic bags at grocery stores. Numerous cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, have passed such bans. But plastic bag manufacturing companies sued Oakland and forced it to rescind its ban, arguing that the city didn't study the environmental consequences of forcing people to use paper bags instead. So Berkeley's come up with a rather novel approach. If the motion to comes to the City Council in February as anticipated, Berkeley will not only ban plastic bags, but attach a fee to paper bags as well. This will possibly discourage the use of paper in favor of reusable cloth bags, and perhaps get past the legal ruling that did in Oakland.

Raiders Earn More Disgust

by Chris Thompson
Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 10:33 AM

So there we were at the Oakland airport, nursing a little liquid cheer as, on the screen behind the bar, a pass interference call gave the Raiders a chance to actually win the game against the hapless Cleveland Browns. Sure, they were down by 14 with less than five minutes to go. But they were at the two-yard line with first and ten. A touchdown and an onside kick, or a touchdown and a solid defensive performance, and hey, you got yourself a game. What happened? Four incomplete passes — four ineptly incomplete passes. The bartender watches the last, sad snap, turns his back, and mutters, "Jesus, Al." Browns win it, 23-9. And so the calendar year closes on the Raiders.

Iran's Berkeley Hostages Get a Lawyer

by Chris Thompson
Mon, Dec 28, 2009 at 10:26 AM

Last summer, as three UC Berkeley graduates accidentally wandered across the border into Iran, they stumbled into a country with two American armies on its borders, a rush to develop nuclear weapons seemingly at any cost, and its own velvet revolution threatening to topple the hoary old mullahs. That's hardly a formula designed to expedite their release. But now, the families of the three adventurers have hired an international attorney known to get results from the theocratic regime. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, attorney Masoud Shafii helped in a case in which Iran charged two of its own physicians, who specialize in AIDS treatments, with trying to help the United States undermine the Iranian government. Now, he's working with the families of the three imprisoned Americans.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slap Hitter: Raiders—Kicking but not Alive

by Kibby Kleiman
Sun, Dec 27, 2009 at 5:22 PM

The Raiders peaked today at the end of the first half with a 61-yard field goal converted by Sebastian Janikowski. The record breaking kick also represented the last points the Raiders would score as the visiting team for the 2009 season, getting worked today by the Cleveland Browns 23-9.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

BART Braces for New Years

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 11:37 AM

BART officials really don't want a repeat of last year's New Years Eve tragedy, when BART cop Johannes Mehserle fatally shot Hayward resident Oscar Grant in the back. To avoid the chaos and arguments that certainly didn't help during that incident, they're doubling their usual police patrols, changing up the schedule to keep riders from crowding onto delayed trains, and deploying non-police employees in special vests, whose job will be to politely answer questions and try to keep everyone calm. Drink up, they say, but do it responsibly.

Hey, Madoff Got His Ass Kicked!

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Let's say that again: Bernie Madoff got his avaricious ass righteously handed to him, with a freakin' bow on it! The press is agog with word that Madoff has been transferred from his North Carolina prison to a local hospital equipped with emergency services. Prison officials refused to explain the nature of Madoff's medical status, but local TV station WTVD reports that Madoff's injuries are consistent with a condition known as Somebody Just Stomped Your Ass But Good! We're talking facial fractures, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. Hey Bernie: better hope that hospital's endowment didn't invest with you, know what I'm sayin'?

Rape Witness Fine, Sez Mom

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 11:24 AM

As you know, Salvador Rodriguez, who was arrested and released in connection with the disgraceful rape of a young Richmond girl in October, vanished on December 7, after expressing fears that the suspects in the crime think he may have "snitched" on them. Eventually, his family got so worried that they contacted the police, and the press picked up the tale. Now, reports the Chron, Rodriguez has called his mom and assured her he's just fine. Mama Rodriguez didn't offer any more details. So we can all rest easy, knowing that a man who allegedly watched while a young girl was assaulted for two hours is not in harm's way.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Richmond Rape Witness Missing

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 11:47 AM

It looks bad for Salvador Rodriguez, one of the men present at the horrific gang rape of a Richmond girl in October. Police had originally arrested him along with five other men for the crime, but released him after concluding that they didn't have enough evidence to charge him. According to the Bay City News Service, Rodriguez was afraid that people thought he had ratted out people at the scene of the crime and promptly made himself scarce, crashing at the homes of different friends. But on December 6, Rodriguez vanished and hasn't been seen since. So: did something unpleasant happen to Mr. Rodriguez? Or has he taken steps to ensure it never does?

Judge Slaps Woodfin Suites

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Those wacky fellas at Emeryville's Woodfin Suites Hotel just never stop having fun. Here's the latest example of their jocular ways. Back in 2005, Emeryville residents passed a living wage ordinance, but it seems the hotel's managers didn't want to comply. The city was forced to sue Woodfin in 2007, and now, according to the East Bay Business Times, a federal judge has sided with Emeryville, ordering the hotel to pay some $200,000 in back wages to 50 employees. Honestly, four years of fighting for $200,000? Those Woodfin guys really know how to pinch a penny.

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