Thursday, January 31, 2008

Political Gangs Run Riot After Stolen Election

No, this isn´t a post about the 2000 US election. However, where people don´t have bread and circuses (and People magazine) to distract them from thinking about politics, things can turn violent after rigged elections.

For educated insights on the continuing violence in Kenya, see Oxford scholar Dave Anderson´s article from yesterday´s Independent.

Wouldn´t it just be easier if they had computer voting machines like we do here?

Focus the 'Tos

Today is "Focus the Nation," a national teach-in on global warming. It comes amidst a lot of exciting progress on climate change at UCLA Law. Last week's law review symposium highlighted some of the best idea for addressing the problem. The school announced that it had received a $5 million gift to open the country's first center for climate change law. A group of students has embarked on an effort to personally comply with the Kyoto Protocol. And I even got to meet one of the impostor Jonathan Wieners. (Details to follow in another post).

But this blog is not about the nation, the globe, or even UCLA Law. It is about the 'Tos, which joined the party last week.

Thanks to the efforts of Kacey Fitzpatrick and the other folks behind Cool Los Altos, our city has pledged to meet the Kyoto Protocol by 2012. This seems like it will require rethinking, among other things, how much we want to continue use free public parking to subsidize driving. I'm not optimistic that we will necessarily pull it off -- at least so long as council member and blog whipping boy Ron Packard believes that the only thing Los Altos should do about the great challenge of our time is promulgate weak revisions to the building code. But at least it will be nice to know that we inspired Iraq.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An exquisitely crafted tribute to folly

If you've got $24.5 million lying around, 47 View St. is unsurprisingly still on the market.

(If this is your first time at the blog, and you are already convinced it is not worth your time, please at least watch the video in the above link).

Whatever else you want to say about the house, you can't deny that it's ironic. The contractor bought it during the tech crash, and is now trying to sell it during a housing crash. Moreover, I'm not an architect, but "modern life as a celebration of nature" probably does not entail living in a house made out of Honduran mahogany.

Perhaps we do still have some shame in this town. Then again, if the Winbigler property sold, why shouldn't this one?

(Speaking of "art," if you only have $41,000 lying around, perhaps you can pay Rachel Slick not to build a sculpture of birds in the Shoreline wetlands)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NOE's Recycled Bullis Bench: Finished or Poised for Revival?

In 1991-92, with help from Karen and Bruce, NOE established an environmental club at Bullis. The hallmark achievement of this group was the acquisition of a bench made from recycled plastic. The bench was subsequently commemorated “from the class of 1992” and proudly placed in front of the school next to the famous Bullis Bear statue.

Sadly, however, NOE’s bench now sits dejectedly among some rusting exercise equipment (that BigDra still uses) behind the school. Perhaps decision makers at Bullis are saving the bench for eventual reinstallation at the front of the new school?

Monday, January 21, 2008

We shall overcome

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I figured today would be a good time to direct readers to the lawsuit LASD has filed against the County Board of Education for its preposterous approval of Bullis Charter School's effort to restrict poorer kids from enrolling.

After the Voice editorial blasted LASD for picking a fight with rich people, one commenter equated the lawsuit to "ultimately the greatest sin in American history."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Behind every great man is a surprised mother-in-law."

NOE congratulates The Professor on his ascension to the mayor's office. NOE would also like to congratulate Laura Macias on a successful term in which she spearheaded a climate change initiative and helped beat back the squirrel insurgency.

Friday, January 11, 2008

African no longer welcome in Los Altos Hills

Although he has not been implicated in growing marijuana on the periphery of the "town" as other immigrants have, Los Altos Hills residents still want the African immigrant out of their upscale community.

"I'm getting tired of him," said Thomas Puorro, 82.

At first, the African immigrant intrigued neighbors, even though residents suspected that he was an escapee from a holding area in South San Francisco. A native to Uganda, the immigrant caught the attention of a Ugandan ambassador who sent a friendly note to "The Heights" Hills on the immigrant's behalf.

Despite international goodwill for the African, tensions are high.

Puorro added, "I'm getting closer and closer to getting myself a slingshot."

*John Rocker was unavailable for comment at press time.

Friday, January 04, 2008

For those of you looking for actual information

Perhaps out of post-Rwanda and ongoing Darfur guilt (or because its a big tourist destination), the Western media has been giving a lot of coverage to the recent violence in Kenya. However, the tendency has been to oversimplify the situation and chalk it up as just another example of horrific "tribal conflicts" in Africa. Even the regional head of the ICRC, who should certainly know better, has made ignorant statements along these lines.

The violence began after there were delays in declaring a winner in the recent presidential election. The vote counting was subsequently stopped (sound familiar?) and current president Mwai Kibaki quickly declared the winner after trailing his opponent Raila Odinga. The majority of those killed have been protestors shot by security forces, but because Odinga is Luo and Kibaki is Kikuyu, Western media outlets have quickly jumped to the conclusion that “tribal rivalries” are at the root of the conflict. However, according to an anonymous expert on ethnic conflicts in Western Kenya, the unrest stems more from disenfranchised youths and anger over years of corrupt governments.

"No one is focusing on the real cause of violence ... which is political disillusionment," she said in an exclusive interview with Nemesis of Evil. "It's the young unemployed men who were told to vote and promised change, and who en masse were voting for the opposition, despite the fact that he was Luo."

News articles on the crisis have overlooked another crucial fact: that Odinga's opposition coalition was multi-ethnic in nature.

"What Raila (Odinga) did was tap into leaders in the other provinces and into the general feeling (outside of the central province) of wanting a new political system -- federalism, which to most people on the ground literally means roads," said the expert.

Hopefully a better understanding of the causes of the conflict will lead to a more effective solution. I'm waiting for Obama, whose father is Luo, to weigh-in on the matter. It's too bad he’s got other things on his mind right now, because he’s hugely popular in Kenya and might be able to help the move towards peace.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Problem solved

Facing a severe funding shortfall, Hidden Villa is hosting a community meeting Jan. 13 to discuss how to accomplish its goal of creating a $10 million endowment. The Town Crier favors leasing some space to Bullis Charter School as a start. I have another idea.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

That felt weird

Let's get back to founding principles...

The Voice is running a three-part series on the problems media consolidation poses for democracy. Part one includes the following:
"Award-winning media critic Ted Glasser says the Bay Area's media consolidation is emblematic of a larger problem and leads to three things: fewer journalists, homogenization of coverage (with the same story appearing in multiple newspapers), and poor media coverage of journalism itself."
Glass houses, guys.

The article is written by the publisher of the Pacific Sun, which was an independent paper up until a few years ago, when it was purchased by Embarcadero Publishing Company. The story has already appeared in other understaffed EPC papers, including the flagship Palo Alto Weekly (where readers had plenty of critiques of the article itself), the Pleasanton Weekly and the Danville Weekly.

I can't decide whether this is actually ironic, or if it just looks really silly.

Local holiday fund profiles

I figure we might as well kick off 2008 with a positive post.

Two days are left to donate to the Voice Holiday Fund (so named as part of the paper's ongoing War on Christmas). The paper has lined up foundation grants to match donations, so doing so is doubly worth it.

The recipients include:
The Town Crier's Holiday Fund, which is much older and tends to raise more money, is benefitting 17 organizations this year, including:
(The rest of the profiles either are not yet posted or I just can't find them.)