1. Bill to ban shark fins - your help needed - especially to educate Leland Yee and Fiona Ma
2. Derail the Central Subway boondoggle - at Bd of Supervisors Feb 15
3. Spurious, damaging information about herbicides being circulated in schools
4. HANC Recycling Center eviction hearings TODAY/support needed for SF Urban Ag zoning proposal
5. School gardens teacher training in Occidental
6. Relationship between advertising and fiscal constraints - no direct source of guaranteed funds for MTA
7. Feedback: Heyday Books/miner's lettuce
8. Tribute to Egyptian people, from Devil's Dictionary
9. Animal encounters potpourri in Mercury News
10. Full Moon Walk is back - Feb 17
11. David Kato Kisule, gay campaigner in Uganda, died Jan 26
12. LTEs, The Economist - tea party/more fun with State of Union map
13. Silvio Berlusconi takes it in the groin
14. International Threat levels - as seen by John Cleese
15. In Tennessee it's against the law to......
"I see myself in all species and I see all species in me." Thich Nhat Hanh
1. From Eric Mills, Action for Animals
ASSEMBLYMEMBER PAUL FONG - BILL TO BAN SHARK FINS
Saturday, February 11, 2011
THINGS ARE HEATING UP, FOLKS!
See the enclosed, regarding shark finning, the live animal markets, and the Asian Caucus. This could be fun. Senator Leland Yee, running for Mayor of San Francisco, has already come out in opposition to Assemblymember Paul Fong's bill to ban the sale of shark fins. Note that Assemblymembers Fong (D-Sunnyvale) and Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), plan to hold a press conference on the matter in San Francisco, Monday, 2/14, 9 am at California Academy of Sciences
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BILL, ONE WE SHOULD ALL BE WORKING ON. Will put Senator Yee in an interesting position as he runs for Mayor of S.F. Will be interesting, too, to see where Senator Mark Leno and Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma come down on this issue. Call their offices and put 'em on the spot.
RELATEDLY, OUR PAID AD (live food markets) APPEARS IN THE SAME 2/10 ISSUE OF THE CAPITOL WEEKLY. Great placement, too: page 3, the Table of Contents page, and in color. It'll run again on 2/17.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: firstname.lastname@example.org. The paper appears on Thursday, so get those letters in NOW. (Deadline for bills to be introduced this session is Friday, February 18.) (Please send me blind copies of any letters you write.) And the SF CHRONICLE deserves a few, too: email@example.com.
LIVE FOOD MARKETS & POLITICS
LTE, San Francisco Chronicle
Methinks that Mayoral candidate Senator Leland Yee will soon regret his unfortunate support of the live animal food markets and his opposition to Assemblyman Paul Fong's bill to ban shark fins ("Willie's World," 2/13). Must cultural politics and profits always trump environmental protection and the public health? Hopefully this issue will be discussed in the coming debates.
Eric Mills, coordinator, ACTION FOR ANIMALS
And here's more from American Tortoise Rescue:
Update on the Live Food Markets - The Fish & Game Commission met earlier this month and with the exception of one member (Commissioner Dan Richards), were all wishy washy on the permit issue. Fortunately, they have put the Invasive Species Council on the agenda for later this year - we are hopeful that they will recommend supporting the total ban on turtles and frogs.
Politicians Fiona Ma and Leland Yee claim that turtle and frog eating is part of a Chinese culture. Our Chinese friend Michele Tsai takes issue with that and says, "I dare say I represent the silent majority of Chinese and Asian immigrants. The overwhelming majority of Chinese and Asians do not eat turtles or frogs. I'm an immigrant Chinese and my wide circle of family, friends and relatives, old and young, from all parts of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and many other parts of Asia, never ever ate those 'foods' or even heard of it. There is really no such thing as 'culture food.' "
So the battle continues. We'll keep you posted. Here's a story that came out right before the meeting. Capitol Weekly
"...A core task shared by education and environmental awareness is to keep alive seeds and roots. For an educator, it means the seeds and roots of civilization and culture; for an environmentalist, the literal seeds and roots of earth's biodiversity. You might call this core task: the preservation of wildness at the core of all life." Sigrid Mueller, California Institute for Biodiversity Educator of the Year
2. ALERT ! DERAIL THE CENTRAL SUBWAY BOONDOGGLE !
Bad infrastructure projects, like the Embarcadero Freeway, need citizen persistence to avert waste and flawed planning. The Central Subway Project will be sending its funding plan to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in February 2011---seeking federal funding approvals in December 2011. The citizenry need not subsidize the Central Subway Boondoggle, which drains the citywide Muni system of funding and services.
The Egyptian people against overwhelming state power.
The Embarcadero Freeway stopped at Broadway.
Freeway protesters at the steps of City Hall.
Transportation Authority Board (all 11 Supervisors)
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2011, 11:00 am start (Item 9 about 11:30 am)
City Hall, Legislative Chamber Room 250
ITEM 9. Amend the Baseline Funding Plan for the San Francisco Municipal Agency's Central Subway Project, Affirm the Authority's Funding Commitments to the Project and Amend Related 5-Year Prioritization Programs.
Board Attachment: http://www.sfcta.org/images/stories/Executive/Meetings/board/2011/02feb15/r11-44%20central%20subway%20baseline%20funding%20plan%20amendment%201.pdf
EMAIL if you are unable to attend:
David.Chiu@sfgov.org, Ross.Mirkarimi@sfgov.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org, Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org, Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org, Jane.Kim@sfgov.org, Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org, firstname.lastname@example.org
GENERAL INFORMATION: The MTA’s Funding Plan and New Starts Reports are required for federal funding. The MTA is spending millions of dollars in public relations, staff and contracts to control their message. A united citizenry can refocus priorities on citywide Muni needs.
· The Central Subway is draining Muni of its scarce funding, creating unnecessary budget deficits.
· The MTA has drained $636 million of state/ local funds from the citywide Muni system for the short 1.7 mile subway, which will serve a small percentage of Muni’s riders.
· 700,000 daily Muni riders and 800,000 taxpayers are subsidizing the Central Subway, while Muni crumbles and declines.
· Muni is going backwards because “backdoor taxes”: are subsidizing the Central Subway boondoggle.
· Self-inflicted deficits have forced unnecessary service cuts, fare increases, higher parking fees/ meter rates, aggressive traffic citations, draconian revenue generation, depleted reserves, wage/ benefit decreases, deferred maintenance, crumpling infrastructure, high liability and life safety risks.
· In the current MTA fiscal year, a mid-year budget deficit of $21.2 million is further exacerbated by the robbing of MTA’s Reserves by $65 million, leaving only $12 million---not the $$77 million, or 10% of operating budget, mandated by MTA policies established in April 2007.
· Without reserves, major disasters and emergencies would cripple the Muni System.
· The MTA’s deferred infrastructure investments already threaten public safety, by example, dilapidated vehicles, deteriorating rails/ tracks, spalling/ cracking concrete in Metro tunnels due to water infiltration…. The structural integrity of older tunnels warrants immediate retrofits.
· Finally, the Central Subway just doesn’t make transportation sense, disconnecting the Market Street Corridor/ Transbay Terminal, reducing surface buses on the Stockton Corridor, shortening stations to 3-car lengths, eliminating moving sidewalks, increasing total travel times between most major destinations….
For additional information, contacts:
Jerry Cauthen, PE: (510)-208-5441
Howard Wong, AIA: (415)-982-5055
"Most ailing companies have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems." John Gardner
3. Spurious, damaging information being circulated regarding herbicide use in our open spaces
Mischievous people--possibly well-meaning, but uninformed--are circulating false information, and they are doing it in schools and pre-schools, whipping up fears that have no foundation. Here is a sample:
> Hi Everyone, Our preschool was recently alerted that there is a
> scheduled spraying what seems to be a really nasty herbicide in Glen
> Park. The spraying was going to happen this Fri, Feb 11, but it has
> been postponed till Fri Feb 18. The Chemical is Gabron 4 Ultra.
> We are concerned about the use of Gabron 4 Ultra in a place where
> hundreds of small children hike each week. It is used by 16
> preschools a week, plus several small family day cares and the 50
> families at Glen Ridge! Not to mention the harm for everyone,
> pregnant women and dogs who may be particularly vulnerable.
> If you would like to register a complaint or ask more questions, you
> can call SF Parks and Rec's pesticide office at 415-831-6306 or go to
> www.sfenvironment. org/IPM. It seems there is still time for Public
> Comment and possible we could encourage them to stop using this
> potentially dangerous pesticide.
> Here's a couple articles about it's regular and recent use (Feb 3-4)
> on Twin Peaks
> http://sutroforest. com/2011/ 02/06/its- spring-its- twin-peaks- its-toxic- garlon-herbicide /
> http://sutroforest. com/2010/ 04/17/garlon- in-our-watershed /
Conservationists and public agencies have been fighting off this kind of ignorant nonsense for decades now, and it drains staff time and energy from their jobs. The San Francisco Dept of the Environment has developed a great deal of factual information that guides the use of all pesticides in San Francisco. And, contrary to the misinformation above, there are now greater restrictions on pesticide use now than there have been in past decades. (When I was a gardener there were no restrictions at all. Thankfully, that is past.) So trying to portray this as a new threat is as groundless as all their other statements.
City parks and open spaces, and state and national parks need to be able to manage their natural resources and this depends in great degree on their ability to employ chemical assistance. There is no way they can contend with all the invasive plants muscling out the natural resources without chemical help--especially in the budget situations of today. Long experience and studies have adequately documented the safety of using currently-allowed herbicides. I have used them without incident for over 50 years, nor has their use affected my health, which is good.
I plan to say more in future, as the public needs to understand, and to stand up against mischievous hysteria.
4. Board Committee to Hold Hearing On HANC Recycling Center EvictionCity Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee Hearing
Date: Monday, February 14, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: City Hall, San Francisco, Room 250
HANCThe Board of Supervisor's City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee will be holding a hearing on the role of recycling centers in San Francisco's over all plan to reach zero waste goals. The Committee will specifically be looking at the eviction of the HANC Recycling Center. We are asking the Centers supporters to testify if they are available and to send emails and/or phone the Supervisors in support of the Recycling Center.
Please visit www.hanc-sf.org for more information.
SUPPORT THE SF URBAN AGRICULTURE ZONING PROPOSAL
Date: Thur, February 17, 2011
Time: 1:30 PM
Location: City Hall, San Francisco
Little City GardensThanks to the hard work of many people, last month the City officially announced a proposal that, if passed, will update San Francisco’s zoning regulations to explicitly permit gardening in all areas of the city and also officially allow for the sale of produce grown in these gardens. Whoo-hoo!
Please, if you can, join the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance at the public hearing to voice your comments and show your support.
The more people who are present at City Hall for the review of this proposal, the more apparent it is to the Planning Commission that residents of San Francisco value agriculture as a vital part of our city.
We feel strongly that in order for agriculture to be a lasting fixture in our city, made up of a diverse mix of people, skills and backgrounds, there has to be a way for urban farmers to make a living.
Here is an article about the proposal that appeared on the front page of the Chronicle last month and another article in the SF Examiner.
If you don’t have time to come to the February 17th Planning Commission hearing you can still support the passage of this important legislation by signing this petition.
5. Occidental Arts & Ecology Center
School Gardens Teacher Training 2011 Season is here!
Applications accepted through April 8th.
Teams from schools are invited to apply! If your school applied previously and would like to reapply, please contact us so we may retrieve your application from the waiting list and update as needed.
Summer Training Dates: June 13-17 and July 11-15
For more information, application, and list of FAQs click HERE.
6. The Relationship between advertising and fiscal constraints - From San Francisco Beautiful, 19 January 2010
The sum of dollars received per year from all advertising ranges from $22 to $25 million (including BART-operated advertising in Muni Metro stations), a large enough amount to be an integral part of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency's revenues, according to Ms. Bose, CFO of SF Municipal Transportation Agency.
However, targeting income from contracts with Titan and Clear Channel as a measure to clean up the proliferation of advertising is the wrong approach according to Ms. Bose. She stated the main problem with funding MUNI is the lack of a direct source of guaranteed funds - no tax, fee or other revenue-generating options are earmarked exclusively for the Agency. Furthermore, no singular policy board governs all facets of the system. The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (TA) is responsible for capital improvements, and the MTA is responsible for operating the transportation services. As a result, the TA may fund transit improvements and the MTA may have to scramble to find the funds - starving other service areas - to run the improved system.
Ms. Bose also discussed in detail several options to free up funds at the MTA. Long viewed as a problem on MUNI, fare evasion results in a yearly loss $22 to $25 million, equal to that of advertising revenues.
> Jake - I couldn't agree more about paying Heyday the full price. Why are otherwise perceptive and generous people so intent on getting books for the cheapest price? Heyday is invaluable. So are many small bookstores. So are the authors writing for small presses, for whom writing is more and more a total financial sacrifice.
> Many authors, especially those writing for small and university presses, receive a percentage of the difference between the retail and the wholesale price, frequently 6-8%, . If that difference shrinks to nothing or almost nothing, it becomes a percentage of nothing or almost nothing. Should only the wealthy be able to write?
> For all the pleasure I've gotten from Heyday Press, I'd like to give them a percentage of my royalties. However, Amazon has made that percentage disappear. The least I can do is buy their books for full price, a direct way to make a contribution to the cause. Four lattes will cover it.
I forgot to post the writer's explanation for his buying book cheaper:
>> I concur to all your comments. It's just that I was going to buy the book at the Colma B&N and it would have cost me $50, but because they didn't have a copy and offered to ship, I got it cheaper, which I didn't expect. I, too, do not care what I pay for something of value, but I'll bet a lot of your readers do.
>> I've never met Malcolm but I've been enchanted with him since purchasing The Ohlone Way years ago. Everything he touches is first-class.
On Feb 11, 2011, at 7:01 PM, ron maykel wrote:
> We happen to have randomly growing congregations of Indian (miners) lettuce in our yard along with oxallis. However the claytonia is greatly overtaking/covering the oxallis! Out of sight out of mind. It is interesting to note that the early design form of these lettuce leaves are heart shaped, appropriate for February.
Ron: You're seeing a snapshot in time. It won't look like that in five years; by that time the oxalis will probably have pushed out the miner's lettuce. This is the season for miner's lettuce to grow most vigorously. It must come from seed every year, whereas the oxalis comes from a corm (bulb-like organ). The corm has lots of stored energy, so it will get the jump on the miner's lettuce when autumn rains begin; the latter's development from seed is necessarily slower. The decline of miner's lettuce is initially slow, but as oxalis builds up more stored energy in its corm it muscles out the miner's lettuce.
This phenomenon is one of the problems in dealing with invasive plants; it's hard to convince people of the dynamics of invasion: What a given situation was like x-many years ago, and what it will look like in x-many years. Extrapolated to the larger world scene: Whatever world one was born into, that is the standard by which subsequent change is compared. People accept things gradually that they won't accept suddenly; older people die and are replaced by those who don't know the difference.
8. In tribute to the Egyptian people
The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce
absolute, adj. Independent, irresponsible. An absolute monarchy is one in which the sovereign does as he pleases so long as he pleases the assassins. Not many absolute monarchies are left, most of them having been replaced by limited monarchies, where the sovereign's power for evil (and for good) is greatly curtailed, and by republics, which are governed by chance.
Difference between arrogance and hubris: Arrogance is rewarded, hubris is punished. Hubris is feeling superior to everyone, even Zeus.
9. San Jose Mercury News animal encounter potpourri
10. The full moon walk is back! For various reasons, we missed the last two months, but we'll be back to our regular walk on Thursday, February 17 starting at 5:30 PM.
As always, the walk will start at the Quarry Road Entrance Park by the Brisbane Post Office and Community Garden. The Brisbane Post Office is at 280 Old County Road, Brisbane.
These quarry walks are fun, a companionable walk with friends and neighbors. Come join us. Children and dogs are most welcome.
Round trip distance is about two miles on a nearly flat road. Dress in layers. It can be cold and/or windy. Heavy rain cancels, but a bit of fog or a few clouds won't stop us. Right now, they're saying there's a 40% chance of showers in Brisbane on Thursday. It looks like we're having rain this week. And I have to say that though I've been enjoying the sunshine - and the clear skies at night - I've missed the winter rain, and will be happy to see it again.
What is more awe-inspiring, the huge, perhaps unending Universe, or the almost infinitesimal atoms that fill it with matter? Without the small, the large would have no meaning. We are tiny compared with the Galaxy, but have the power to comprehend its greatness. It is easy--but misleading--to confuse size with significance. James Kaler
11. David Kato Kisule, a gay campaigner in Uganda, died on January 26th, aged 46
Feb 10th 2011 | from The Economist
TO THE 935 pupils at St Herman Nkoni primary school, on the Masaka-Mbarara road, the slight, bookish-looking, soft-voiced man with the thick-lensed glasses was a pretty good head teacher. But to Uganda’s tabloid magazines, such as Red Pepper and Rolling Stone, he was a monster: a “bum-driller”, ever seeking “shaftmates” for “romping sessions”. To the sponsors of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill of 2009, which required witnesses to report homosexual activity within 24 hours, and which proposed the death sentence for repeat offending, he was a deviant and a corrupter of innocent boys. In the sermons of the evangelical Christian pastors who toured round Uganda’s towns, he was a dog, a pig, possessed by devils. Even the Anglican priest who conducted his funeral broke off to shout that he was worse than a beast, because animals at least knew the difference between a male and a female.
David Kato was one of a group so tiny, hated and hounded—indeed, illegal—that most Ugandans had never knowingly met one. Gays like him called themselves kuchus, meaning “same”, as in “same-sex”. He was not the same in any way ordinary Ugandans cared to recognise.
His neighbours in Nansana and Mukono, the districts near Kampala where he lived at various times, admitted that he could be generous and kind. He paid for electricity wires to be put up locally, settled people’s hospital bills, took drifters in when they were homeless. But this, they told the tabloids, was because he was “filthy loaded” with foreign dime, most of it donated to him for spreading a Western evil in Uganda, and a lot of the money was used as bribes for sexual favours. It was dangerous to get too close to him, because of his love for bums. His cleaning woman (who observed which young men came and went, and who stayed the night) noticed that he was tired on the day he was killed, and put it down to AIDS. A doctor took the false story on: Mr Kato was HIV-positive, and spreading it around, despite the government’s campaign to keep AIDS in check. An ex-homosexual called Paul Kagaba claimed that he had been irreparably seduced into evil in Mr Kato’s white house with the columns along Villa Road, after a couple of Guinnesses and a takeaway meal. He implied he was one of many.
In Mr Kato’s mind there were only two ways to deal with being gay in Uganda. The first was to hide, to seek the dark. This was how he had first encountered the gay scene in Kampala in the late 1990s, after hearing rumours of a night party in some gardens outside the city and deciding he had to gatecrash. The party hosts, suspicious of his eagerness, gave him the wrong address; they did not want him to find this secret, illegal gathering among the trees. When he gave interviews to Western media it was often in dark alleys or deserted bars, face shadowy and close to the camera, or on some red-dirt road out of town, while he kept nervously walking.
The second way of being gay, however, was to be out and proud. This was what he preferred, despite the risks. In 1998, just back from a few years of teaching in South Africa—where he had seen apartheid fall, and the old anti-sodomy laws with it, and had decided at last to admit his homosexuality—he held a televised press conference to start the push for gay rights in his own country. The police beat him up afterwards, the first of several beatings (he would show the scars on his head, where bottles had been broken on him), and arrested him, the first of three arrests. Not deterred, in 2004 he co-founded Sexual Minorities Uganda to campaign against the anti-homosexuality bill and general prejudice. He was the group’s litigation officer, partly because he knew his way round the mazes of the law, but mostly because he was loud, impatient, demanding, angry (too much so, when the beer got to him), and didn’t care that his face was now “Gay Uganda” for the tabloids.
When, last October, Rolling Stone ran a front-page article on “homos” recruiting in the schools, promising to expose 100 of them and calling for them to be hanged, Mr Kato was one of three who sued the magazine. He was the only one who went to court to state his case that homosexuals were born, not made, and therefore could not be recruited. He had known he was different as a child growing up in Nakawala, his ancestral village; his twin brother, John, had noticed it too, and simply laughed when, after years, he came out to him.
The new year looked propitious. On January 3rd a judge ruled against Rolling Stone; Mr Kato received compensation of 1.5m Ugandan shillings, or $640. It was not much, but it was the principle that mattered. Meanwhile, debate was suspended on the anti-homosexuality bill, partly as a result of world pressure that he had helped to stir.
Young men continued to mill around his house. One of them was a thief well known in the area: a rough part of town, with 15 iron-bar attacks in two months. Police assumed that when Mr Kato was bludgeoned to death with a hammer, on the afternoon of January 26th, he was just another victim in the series. Gay groups blamed the tabloids for incitement. Neighbours, hanging about, noticed with surprise that his blood on the walls looked much the same as theirs.
12. LTEs, The Economist
SIR – Your briefing on Barack Obama and the state of the union referred to the tea party’s “awe” of the American constitution. That awe, however, is of a fantasy text that is at odds with the original document. Tea partiers believe that the constitution was written to weaken an overreaching Congress. In fact, recognising that the preceding articles of confederation were weak, the framers of the constitution enumerated the powers of Congress: to levy taxes, make war, set the rules of commerce, and much more.
The tea party also thinks that the constitution was created to protect the states from federal power. Yet there is nothing to that effect in the document, which provides specific limits on states in relation to federal power.
George Stubbs, Melrose, Massachusetts
SIR – You said that most Americans prefer divided government, but what we really like is government divided between centre-left and centre-right parties. The mid-term elections returned a bevy of ultraconservative tea partiers, while thinning the ranks of moderate Democrats. The result is stronger polarisation in Congress, with a hollowing out of the political centre.
James Seidman, Naperville, Illinois
Our state-of-the-union cover
SIR – Your cover of