Clean money campaign launches in SF

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The campaign for Prop. 15, the California Fair Elections Act, kicks off in San Francisco this Sunday afternoon. It’s an appropriate city to launch this effort, given San Francisco’s leadership on electoral reform, from our pioneering ranked choice voting system to our low political contribution limits to the public financing available in the races for mayor and the Board of Supervisors.Read more »

Feeling Nice's analog Avatar chic

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See video

Just in time for spring (and a Primal Scream revival) comes the promo for local design collective Nice's spring 2010 "The Gathering" line -- complete with psychedelic military projections.

Berkeley's mayor pushes anti-PG&E protester

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At least, that's what Luke Thomas is reporting in Fog City Journal. He's got photos, too.Read more »

State by state, unions matter

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 250 of his recent columns.

Union members invariably have better pay and benefits than non-union workers. But, as a new study shows, the number of workers who’ve joined unions varies widely from state to state.

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Robert Skidelsky: The big bank fix

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If reformers are to win, they must be prepared to fight the world/s most powerful vested interest

By Robert Skidelsky 

Robert Skidelsky, a member of the British House of Lords, is Professor emeritus of political economy at Warwick University, author of a prize-winning biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes, and a board member of the Moscow School of Political Studies.

LONDON – Two alternative approaches dominate current discussions about banking reform: break-up and regulation. The debate goes back to the early days of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which pitted “trust-busters” against regulators. 

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Snap Sounds: The Bundles

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THE BUNDLES

The Bundles

(K, March 9 release)

“Don’t forget about your friends!” pleads Kimya Dawson from the thick of her new down-low supergroup of anti-folk pals and other rough ‘n’ ready types.

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Poll: Voters give $11 billion water bond thumbs down

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By Rebecca Bowe

There is very weak support across political and geographic boundaries in California for a proposed $11 billion water bond that will go on the November ballot, according to the results of a poll released yesterday.

Just 34 percent of respondents said they would vote yes on the proposed $11 billion bond, while 55 percent said they would vote no. A more detailed breakdown revealed that 32 percent of likely voters indicated that they would definitely vote no, while only 12 percent said they would definitely vote yes.

“This bond is in deep trouble,” said Ben Tulchin of Tulchin Research, the firm that conducted the poll. “No bond has ever won statewide that started with a majority against it. It faces a real uphill battle.” Tulchin Research conducted the poll at the request of groups opposing the bond. The poll surveyed 600 likely voters across California, asking respondents to share their opinions after reading them the title and summary. Read more »

The war on suburbs? Huh?

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Joel Kotkin, the author and urban scholar, was on KQED's Forum this morning talking about what he called "the war on the suburbs." He's got a new book out, called The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, and he's arguing, among other things, that the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts signals that the Democratic Party and progressives in America have lost touch with the suburbs and are being mean to the poor suburbanites.Read more »

Notes from the Sierra Club's gala dinner

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While I focused on Jerry Brown’s disappointing speech to the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter’s gala dinner on Wednesday night, there are a few more notable nuggets in my notebook worth posting here, starting with what appears to be the collapse of plans for a California Constitutional Convention.Read more »

This is embarassing

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Come on, folks.

Tiger woods just made international news with a 15-minute press conference in which he ... apologized to his wife. Oh dear me, I'm so bad, I've let the whole world down, won't you ever forgive me, I need more treatement, I need more therapy, please oh please I'm an awful human being but I'm trying to win back your respect ...Read more »

Go directly to "Superjail!"

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By Peter Galvin

From the studio that produced the terrifically-offensive animated sequences from MTV’s Wonder Showzen, Superjail! is an 11-minute cartoon series about a prison located inside a volcano, which is itself located inside a larger volcano.

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Why I love snowboarder girls

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II mean, they're really hot, of course, almost by definition.

But that's not why I love the snowboarder girls. Here's the thing (and it goes for the men, too; I just happened to be watching the women last night):

Every Olympics, every major competition, the boarders push the limits, try to do something they might not be able to pull off, and half of them fall, crash and burn, wipe out -- and when they take off their helmet and goggles, they're smiling.Read more »

Boogie Bird will save us all

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Health care bickering amongst our elected leaders, new wars on the horizon, the rising prominence of American Apparel -- it’s no secret, San Fran: we need a hero. Enter Boogie Bird, a “curious creature” brought to us by spray paint artist Chor Boogie, who is displaying his tiny winged friends as part of his first post-stabbing gallery show.

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Action alert: Stop the banks!

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Let's have a show of hands.

To those of you in small business: have you noticed the banks getting tough with you on credit?  To customers of banks: have you noticed all the funny business with higher fees and shorter grace periods with credit cards? Does it annoy you that the big banks and Wall street get bailed out with little oversight or accountability,  and the rest of us on Main Street and the neighborhoods of San Francisco and beyond suffer with no relief in sight?Read more »

Tuareg rebel rock, the Tinariwen way

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The awesome group of hypnotic rockers known as Tinariwen -- from "Kel Tinariwen," or "desert boys" -- dress in traditional costume for performances, have one of the most amazing political and social backstories of any band, and write songs that seek to convey the sorrows, longing, and occasional joys of living in exile. (They'll be performing Sun/21 at the Palace of Fine Arts as part of the SF Jazz Festival.) That backstory story begins:

In 1963, an uprising of the nomadic Tuareg people began in the Adrar des Iforas desert region against the new independent government of Mali. During the revolt, a mason and trader by the name of Alhabib Ag Sidi was executed for aiding the rebels. The army then destroyed his herd of camels, cattle, and goats while his four-year old son Ibrahim watched. Ibrahim and his family travelled into exile in Algeria with his family and their one remaining cow.

It goes on to incorporate a number of rebellions, several diasoporas, Muammar Gaddafi, and founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib's love for American blues. 

But there's something even more compelling going on about Tinariwen than any gonzo global-folk narrative, however remarkable, suggests.

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