Talking Turkey 

Raiders drop the ball, bullets spray in Oakland, and UC saves labor studies.

Thanksgiving has a way of bringing a sleepy vibe to this 'burg, so your humble correspondent took advantage of the down time to walk the mean streets of El Cerrito, cruising San Pablo Avenue in search of some sweet Wienerschnitzel grease. We were saddened to see that not even the world's most reliably disgusting fast food joint would see fit to dole out the cholesterol crystals on this Day of Days, but heartened to discover we weren't the only ones in search of a heart attack. So props to you, Filipino stoners in your black Camero! May your munchie adventures bring you fortune!

Raiders Drop Ball. Literally.

Let's start with the Raiders. We know there's no hope, so we try not to care. But last Sunday's game was against the Kansas City Chiefs, who are racing Oakland to grab that brass ring known as Most Embarrassing Team of the 2008 Season. All you have to do is show up, and you walk away with a win. Unless, of course, you abandon a sure-fire field goal attempt and run with a trick play, slipping the ball to kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

You can already guess what happened next. Big J flubbed the catch, and a Chief picked up the ball and ran it back for six points. Oakland dropped another one, and Raider Nation will have to wait another week for a chance to see some potential for next year in their boys. In a slow news week, where everyone is dosing on tryptophan and glancing at the Idiot Box for a little Oakland sunshine, the Al Davis team limped off with a 20-13 loss. More metaphors for Oakland misery! Huzzah!

Would You Like a Little Crime with Those Yams?

Not everyone else was busy walking the earth this Thanksgiving in search of footlongs. Some were busy shooting each other. This holiday, the bad boys of Oakland let fly with the bullets, blasting people in two separate shooting incidents that left five people wounded. If you think that was bad, consider last Sunday. Four people were shot in separate incidents that day, from West Oakland to the San Leandro border; all survived and are being treated in local hospitals. On the same night, three armed men carjacked some poor soul, and three other villains committed armed robbery against innocent victims in North and East Oakland.

In response to these and other crimes, Mayor Ron Dellums has agreed to free up overtime pay to allow Oakland cops to fight the surge in crime over the holiday season. This can't be good for the budget, which was recently crippled by a $42 million deficit. But a few weeks ago, an eighty-year-old woman was horribly beaten while scavenging for recyclables in the Eastlake District, lending a certain frisson to the news that Oakland was recently ranked the fifth-most-dangerous city in the country. The mayor may have had little choice.

But at least we won't see Dellums' stepson Michael walking the streets anytime soon. Last week, Michael Dellums, who was convicted of shooting a drug dealer in 1979, was denied parole yet again. The last time parole officials denied him his freedom was January 8, 2007 — the very day Ron was sworn in as mayor.

Good Cash News for Cal

As the grinding state budget negotiations neared their end this summer, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger decided at the last minute to make one final change; he axed $5.4 million from the University of California's budget, in order to kill the state university's labor studies program. Now, new UC president Mark Yudof has stuck a pin in the Austrian's eye, doing a little accounting magic to free up $4 million to restore at least some of the labor studies' budget. The cash will be split between UC Berkeley and UCLA.

Meanwhile, UC Berkeley officials were pleased to learn that the National Institute for Standards and Technology has given them an $11 million grant to build a new facility to research nanotechnology on campus. Now, if only they can figure out what to do with their former president's house in the Kensington hills; according to the Contra Costa Times, the president's mansion is crumbling and falling apart, and the bill to restore the place will top $10 million. The facility is more than the president's residence; it typically serves as a place to host fund-raisers and other events to boost the university's profile in academic circles.

Three-Dot Roundup

The Trib reports that state Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, despite raising a fortune to win an election he was already guaranteed, is still busy getting donors to attend his swanky dinners for $100 a plate; the money will probably be diverted to the California Democratic Party in order to boost Swanson's juice in the Assembly. ... The East Bay contributed its part to the new Obama administration, as Cal economics professor Christina Romer has been tapped to run the president-elect's Council on Economic Advisors. And Oakland clothing designer Biscotti made the dress worn by Obama's eldest daughter on Election Night! In a grim week, this is welcome news, however trivial.


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