Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Let's look a bit closer at the Green Fee.
As folks know, environmentalism has been trying its best to model itself after institutional religion, right down to the sale of indulgences ("carbon offsets"). It only makes sense that the next step is raising our fees for no reason.
(I hear Dwight Asuncion is a Republican. I don't know any interpretation of Republicanism, cynical or not, that would support something like this. BCR needs to excommunicate him for showing allegiance to a different religion.)
Anyway, let's just read right down the bill:
The authors are Dwight Asuncion, Jane Park, and a "Joel Guenther," who I don't know. He has a pony tail, though, which explains a lot.
The sponsors are Dwight, Jane, and Taylor Allbright and Caro Jauregui.
WHEREAS, environmental sustainability is of vital importance to current and future students, the University of California at Berkeley, and the greater community in which it is placed; andI believe the position currently gets between $300-$400, according to Title 24.
WHEREAS, the ASUC has exhibited its long-term commitment to sustainability by specifically calling for a Director of Environmental Sustainability in Title 24 of the Bylaws; and
WHEREAS, the current financial model for sustainability projects on campus makes the goal of environmental sustainability untenable for UC Berkeley unless an alternative source of funding is found for these projects; andWell, this is half right. Yes, under the current model, the goal is "untenable," but the new model isn't going to change that. And by "untenable," I mean the actual definition of the word.
Even if we assume the word here is supposed to be "unattainable," though, throwing money away doesn't seem to be the kind of thing that would achieve environmental sustainability. There's no plan here. No assessment of how successful the (nonexistent) plan will be. No guarantee. Not even a hint of how throwing money away might even slightly solve any problem.
WHEREAS, similar mandatory student fees have been passed at other UC campuses such as UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz to address the lack of financial resources for sustainability projects; andIf other UC campuses jumped off a cliff, would you do that, too? Note that these fees "address the lack of resources," but don't actually "accomplish" anything. So, essentially, these campuses went from poorly-funded failing projects to well-funded failing projects.
WHEREAS, the level of sustainability of UC Berkeley is not on par with the student body's support for sustainable development and concern regarding issues such as global warming; andHow self-contradictory can a statement get? The student body's support is exactly the level of sustainability. (Here, I'm using the definition of "support" which requires actual action) What this clause really means is that the student body doesn't support it as much as the authors would like, so we need to coerce folks into providing more funds. If students really cared, they would volunteer this money.
WHEREAS, TGIF will create a direct avenue for student involvement in and improvement of the material operations of the physical campus; andWell, not quite direct. It'll create an avenue for a few students (the ones pushing this fee increase), but everyone else is just screwed. And out $5.
WHEREAS, a mandatory student fee to create and sustain TGIF is a proposed solution to the unavailability of financial resources for sustainability projects at UC Berkeley and the want for greater student involvement in setting the tone for the campus' environmental stewardship.Um... might you propose a different solution, maybe one that doesn't raise our fees? Say, leave it to those who have that "want for greater student involvement" to get involved, and let the rest of us keep our money. How much ramen can you buy for $5 a semester?
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the following language below is the contract that the ASUC Senate will forward to the UC Office of the President to consider as the TGIF Referendum, given that it is approved.Wow, that's quite a "contract." No ambiguities or anything.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the below phrase be placed on this year's ASUC ballot for consideration of the TGIF Referendum by the student body:
A mandatory student fee of $5 per semester has been proposed to raise funds for projects that address UC Berkeley's environmental sustainability and our impact on global climate change and that support student-led sustainability efforts. Do you approve of this fee?
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the funds will be managed by the TGIF Grant Making Committee under the ASUC Auxiliary; and............ More on this later.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the TGIF Grant Making Committee will be governed by the By-Laws of the Green Initiative Fund in the custody of the authors and sponsors of this bill.
For now, let's see if any of our Senators will have the balls to stand up for students.
. . .
Another week of ASUC antics, this time including a pointless fee increase which will accomplish nothing. Which is actually thrice-redundant.
A Bill in Support of The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) Referendum on the Spring 2007 ASUC Ballot: Well, who can oppose TGIF? Jane Park and Dwight Asuncion are the authors, and Caro Jauregui and Taylor Allbright hop on as sponsors. It will place a fee increase referendum on the ballot to raise our fees by $5 per semester in order to... uh... assuage some folks' consciences? We seem to be pretty lose on fee increases when students supposedly face affordability crises. Guess who controls the money? The same people who put it on the ballot, of course. "Give us money to boost our resumes and reduce our guilt!" Sounds like fun. I wonder how well monetary waste squares with the goals of the Greenies.
A Bill in Support of the ASUC's Sponsorship of The Oskis Leadership Awards: There's something redundant about that title, I think. This is an attempt by the ASUC to give awards to itself. Clearly, ASUC Senators need recognition through getting awards, and ASUC Senators are quick to help sponsor and control them. Way to provide civic service, folks. There's also an award for best ASUC-run program, and best ASUC member. I should win that last one. They're going to find a way to spend $1000 a year on these awards, too.
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF CLEAR & CONSISTENT ELECTION PRACTICES: You know all about capitalization by now. This is actually based off one of my drafts, which is to have the ASUC By-Laws explicitly describe how referenda are presented on the ballot. Unfortunately, the bill includes an "abstain" option, which provides students an easy out and encourages laziness on the part of proponents, who won't have to convince folks as much. Folks who don't understand, because the proponents failed to convince them, will vote "abstain" rather than "no," which is how they should vote. This is especially important when folks deliberately write vague ballot questions. I refused to have my name on it as co-author for this reason.
. . .
Discussion on showing
From the minutes last week, on whether showing evidence to be tampered with should be cause for contempt and such:
Mr. Rizzo said it seemed to be vague, "evidence that was shown to have been tampered with." He thought "proven" was much different than "shown."And with Brandon Chen's stunning argument, the clause was struck.
Ms. Cuevas said she believed "shown" was the same as "proven," but she could see how some people might feel it wasn't strong enough. They have to be "shown" something was true all the time, and that was how they made their decisions.
Mr. Wasserman said that to be "shown" that something was tampered with required that it be proven that it was tampered with. Otherwise it wasn't "shown" to have been tampered with.
Mr. Chen said that when they get an e-mail, the format might be different. If someone showed one e-mail from one server, and compared the same e-mail from another server, they would look different.
. . .
So, I decided to run for ASUC office before I figured out what I was running for. I think, at this point, the best way to approach it is the same way as I did AlcoholEdu. We'll be learning about ASUC campaigns the most direct way, by running one! (Except we won't actually be running one)
What this means, then, is that if you have any... uh... "experiments" to run on the ASUC, let me know!
. . .
Tonight is the candidate informational meeting for the ASUC at 6pm in the Senate chambers. Any questions folks want to pass along?
. . .
I'm not as carefully versed in prostitution customs as I would like, but:
"What I see going on here is prostitution," said Ignacio Chapela, an assistant environmental science, policy and management professor, to more than 100 audience members.Don't voyeurs usually have to pay, too?
"They touted it as a 'green' deal, which is not true," [Hillary Lehr] said. "They're making money by looking green."Green is the color of money.
Chapela said that while he understood the lack of funding available for research, "that need has to be tempered by... social responsibility."Is it okay for other people to cross that line without his permission?
"Before crossing the line, I want to ask questions," he said. "And my answer at this point is no."
. . .
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
. . .
It's a painful opinion page today.
CHALLENGE: Find the point here.
See if this makes sense:
With the $2,916 saved by station cuts, the ASUC should focus on making the elections more visible. Fliering, chalking and other forms of relentless campaigning—the very means used to promote voting for a candidate—often drive many students to avoid Upper Sproul Plaza at election time. With students out of the loop at such a crucial time, alternative forms of publicity should be a focus for the newly freed funds.They know enough about the election to avoid the major campaign locations, but aren't aware there's an election going on?
We care why?
. . .
Monday, February 26, 2007
I hope you like comedy
"Laugh Out Loud Funny!" When people fall over themselves to condemn racism, they say some funny things.
"The hate is based on ignorance and is very similar to the rationales that the KKK uses against African Americans," said Henry Der, director for 22 years of Chinese for Affirmative Action and the former state administrator for Emeryville's schools.Out of context, eh? Sometimes, you overuse a phrase so much you forget what it means. I don't think there's any contextual ambiguity going on here. Should the piece have been printed "in context"? Would that be the better judgment? What would that entail?
"What gives me the greatest concern was AsianWeek's judgment in printing such a piece out of context," Der said. "It is so trite and hateful, it doesn't speak well for the publication."
Ted Fang's brother James, who is president of the paper, has spent more than a decade on the BART Board of Directors and previously worked as international trade director for former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan.See, now we're out of context. Or maybe we're in context. It's so confusing!
Eng's "reasons" for hating black people include:Comedy gold! What we need now is a black paper writing a one-word rebuttal: Communism.
-- "Blacks hate us. Every Asian who has ever come across them knows that they take almost every opportunity to hurl racist remarks at us."
-- "Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years."
-- "Blacks are easy to coerce. This is proven by the fact that so many of them, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, tend to be Christians."
The leaders' statement, issued in Washington, D.C., called the piece "irresponsible journalism, blatantly racist, replete with stereotypes and deeply hurtful to African Americans."Good thing the poor widdle black folk have us Asians to stand up for them. They'd shatter at the slightest racism, otherwise. Isn't there an "easily offended" stereotype that needs fighting?
San Francisco writer Claire Light, one of several bloggers who wrote about the column over the weekend, said the newspaper in general -- and especially Eng's column -- makes her embarrassed to be Asian.Yeah, man. Everyone knows we Asians share a telepathic bond, and anything stupid any one of us says reflects poorly on the rest of us. Besides, white folks can't tell us apart, anyway.
She said that "most Asian Americans have never even heard of AsianWeek, much less agree with its editorial decision making."I guess I'm suddenly curious as to how much damage this paper that nobody ever reads can do.
Der said the column was offensive not only to African Americans but to everyone -- and especially because it was published during Black History Month.Publish this in April, though, and it's not so bad. Is it really necessary to seek exacerbating factors?
. . .
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I had wondered about this. I certainly read something Zachary Runningwolf said as a threat, but I just assumed that hippies would never carry through on their threats, so I didn't think much of it.
(By the way, the threat I'm talking about is this:
"I am going back into the tree," he said after his release. "I told them that if they go into the tree after me, I will see it as a threat and respond accordingly. If they attack me, they are attacking my entire community.")
. . .
Yay! It's time to "get started" in the fight against global warming, according to Dianne Feinstein.
No one has ever done anything to fight global warming. No one has developed cars with better gas milage, or promoted conservation, or even sought to push solar energy. None of these things have happened, and it's time to get started.
Oh, I see, she means "get started" in terms of passing bills (not that this is particularly new, either). Because if the government doesn't do it, it doesn't count.
"I do not believe that any of these are perfect bills or that they cannot be improved," she said. "What I have tried to do is put forward a practical, achievable and sustainable regimen."Just out of curiosity, do any of these doomsday scenarios concerning global warming actually provide an out by "controlling and containing" global warming? If we halted carbon dioxide emissions completely right now, would we still head it off? Because if not, maybe we ought to be thinking less in terms of "controllin and containing" and a little more in terms of "adapting." Environmentalism seems to suffer from the same problem as conservativism: change is scary, and the only way to address change is to stop it.
"Right now, we are looking for the access ramp to the freeway for change," she said.Be sure to take the Bad Metaphor Expressway to that freeway.
. . .
So, I just got back from my Judicial Council hearing, where nobody showed up. I'm probably going to lose, since I'm not telepathic, but it was still good times. As a sidenote, it is the official position of the ASUC, apparently, that voters are too ignorant to know how the ASUC works.
I got a new hearing for Friday at 5:30 to discuss whether incumbents should have their status in elected office appear on the ballot. This was an idea suggested by the defense, actually, in today's case.
. . .
Hey, more free publicity. The Cal Student Coalition for Marriage Equality has a blog. It doesn't appear to be Berkeley-related, so I'm probably not going to add it to my sidebar, but if you're intereted, head on over.
. . .
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Yeah. I bet you could find a lot of crazy things in most folks' family histories. Why do I keep hearing the word "reach" in my head as I read this story?
. . .
Friday, February 23, 2007
Error! The Daily Cal tries to report on the JRP... uh... experience.
The senate decided to reject eight of the 21 new clauses proposed by the council, including a new rule that would have made defendants in council hearings liable for the actions of their spokespeople or representatives in the case.Ouch. No, sorry, that's not correct. The new rule clarified that defendants in council hearings are liable for the actions of their spokespeople and representaties, but that was the old rule, too, and is actually part of the Elections Bylaws. So striking that part of the JRPs didn't change anything, it merely made things clear. Which, of course, makes the next complaint pretty odd:
Many senators who moved to strike specific clauses said they took issue with the language of certain reforms, pointing to a lack of clarity.Do you think they really understand what they did, and are just bullshitting, or do you think they're deluded into thinking that the rules they struck actually changed how the Judicial Council would operate?
"The executives know the implication of things being vague and ambiguous," said Student Action Senator Vivienne Nguyen.
Some members of the Student Action party said the voting pattern was a result of different levels of preparation among some of the senators.The voting pattern here was the party line votes. This is correct, but the "preparation" being referred to and the actual preparation are different. Jeff Manassero wants us to think Student Action just studied them harder. Of course, the real preparation was the decision by Student Action ahead of time to strike these clauses regardless of the ridiculousness of the argument. (e.g. "Show" is not as strong as "prove" because Google and Calmail format their e-mails differently. I'm not making this up. I hope this one makes it to the minutes.)
. . .
A little help?
Students aren't the only group on campus who will be impacted by having a more diverse food selection near campus. Of the dozens of events that the university hosts each day, many provide food and drink as an enticement. Now, a last-minute change of plans won't sink a poetry reading or scholarly debate.I don't get it.
. . .
I'm so hungry
Now that you mention it...
The technological failure at last Tuesday's City Council meeting might have been understandable in other cities. But in Berkeley, which has received national recognition for its efforts to accommodate the disabled, it just seemed out of place.Strangely, I had the exact opposite reaction.
. . .
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Actually, there is nothing recent about my interest in the GA
. . .
We missed one
One thing that hasn't been proposed, and probably won't be, is instructions for the Elections Council on how to present referenda on the ballot. Should there be an explicit "abstain" option? I'm not entirely sure why no one's bothering with it, since it did come up last year, and it was pointed out to them. It's also not particularly controversial that it should be done, I would think, since they clearly define how candidate ballots should look.
Also on the not-done list, though perhaps more controversial, is more clearly defining who is eligible to run for office. We've seen cases come up in two consecutive years, and both years the Judicial Council begged the Senate to clarify the rules. I know this issue was pointed out, too. In fact, the exact words were:
Remember when a big dispute arose around Rocky Gade as to whether extension students are eligible to hold office? (ASUC v. AAVP Gade) And remember when the Judicial Council advised the Senate to clarify the issue? And it didn't?Are there any extension students who want to go for the hat trick? BEARS-United has a place for you.
And then remember when a similar issue came up last election, with Ronald Cruz, because the Senate was too busy blowing itself to fix the damn rules? (See DAAP v. ECC Wren)
Maybe the Senate should actually deal with it this time.
. . .
Next week, for the ASUC, I thought we'd be getting our first fee increases. Apparently not.
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF The Early Appointment of an Elections Council Chair: You can tell that Jeff Manassero wrote part of this bill by the capitalization. This a great one to put some force behind the requirement to hire an Elections Council Chair by the 8th week by halting all Senate business if they don't, (like with the Attorney General and Solicitor General).
A Resolution in Support of Modern Election Practices: YES! Another great one. This one stops wasting money by hiring the League of Women Voters for $4,000 to watch over all 1 provisional ballots (last year). SIS handles security and such, now, and I think that's fine (though it may raise some issues about autonomy). Despite the general idiocy of this Senate, I think they're actually doing a relatively good job on elections reform.
A Bill in Support of Humble By-Laws: This seeks to remove the names Quigly and Helig from the election by-laws (the author, Sammy Averbach, doesn't know their sex). Also, a moment of silence is being called for Jeff's efforts.
A Resolution in Support of Lower Sproul Lighting: Dwight Asuncion writes
WHEREAS, we need lighting in Lower Sproul; andUgh. Okay, look. There's a reason you propose bills a week in advance. This "we'll write the bill later" shit needs to stop. Don't make me break out the charge sheets again.
WHEREAS, I have a midterm tomorrow and cannot write an adequate bill; and
WHEREAS, changes to the bill will be written during the course of the week.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that an ASUC elected official, along with the ASUC President, write a bill addressed to the campus architect, Jim Horner, explaining the vital need for lighting in Lower Sproul.
A Bill in Support of Increasing Access to Education: This provides scholarships to minorities (exlusively?) from some trust fund somewhere. I don't actually know the details of this trust fund.
A Bill in Support of the ASUC Senate Contingency Fund: More money for contingency! They just blow through that shit.
. . .
So, I was reading the minutes from last week's Senate meeting, and discovered that the GA reps did not find out about the plans to reduce polling locations until the Daily Cal reported them the previous day. Might I suggest that, if they're interested in the ASUC, they should try to keep up with it a bit better. There may be other outlets which would have provided that information earlier. *cough*.
Josh Daniels also lies that the GA doesn't have the funds for an election. They do. Because they don't need any, since the infrastructure is already there.
. . .
Fill in the blank
Oh, I thought I'd share with folks another excellent display of Senate competence.
Vishal proposed a "fill in the blank" amendment for the amount of money to give some folks for Lobby Day or something. Essentially, the way it works is that a bunch of numbers are proposed, and they start from the top and say "all in favor" and so on until they reach a majority. Presumably, once you vote, you keep your hand up for the lower values. This way, the amendment passes with the highest amount that could reach a majority.
The Senate decided to suspend the amendment rules and do this using a 2/3 vote, since that was what it would take to pass the bill. But, in its infinite wisdom, the Senate proceeded to start losing votes as the amount decreased. Good job, guys. Good job.
. . .
Mike Davis, if you're reading this, your life is in danger unless you sit down.
One of the arguments about removing graduate student-used locations is that, after the Memorandum of Understanding, graduate student polls shouldn't be closed to save money because the GA agreed to pay more money to elections: 12%.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
First of all, the GA agreed to pay a certain portion of election costs. It did not provide more money for the election.
But more importantly, 12% is not an increase. Or it is, in the sense that despite the fact that the old MOU required that they pay around 30%, they refused to pay up! Now they agreed "hey we'll pay a smaller amount," and they're calling that an "increase" because they're no longer breaking their agreement.
Ridiculous. I suggest that the Election Council deny graduate students the right to vote, and then next year, let them each get half a vote and say "Hey, since we're giving you an increase in voting rights, you should make a concession to us."
There's a reason for my intense distrust for the GA. I hope this helps illustrate it.
. . .
Graduate Assembly president Josh Daniels and academic affairs veep Mariyam Cementwala showed up to cost the ASUC money. They succeeded in convincing the Senate to keep the Etcheverry-Soda and GPB polling stations, and remove the South Hall one. The end result is that only three polling locations are gone, rather than four. But let's look at some of the arguments. The worst one will be saved for a different post, which will cause Mike Davis's head to explode if he reads it.
The "survey" I mentioned earlier got a grand total of 28 responses, of which only 6 had a concern. It didn't ask questions like "would you go to a different polling place."
Meriyam complained that it was important to have "universal access" to voting, which I totally agreed with. But when David Wasserman asked her in what way we didn't have universal access now (you know, with online voting and all), she went into question-dodging mode.
The GA folks wanted to have undergraduates lose some polling locations, because that would be fair. Or something.
Meriyam then mentioned that since the low-turnout voting locations were mostly grad student types, does this mean that the ASUC doesn't really reach graduate students? This, of course, came from representatives of the GA, which doesn't even hold elections. I can answer the question, though: graduate students often have offices, and don't wander around campus. We vote from home, or in our labs.
Anyway, the ASUC caved like usual. Good job, guys.
. . .
I have three things to report from the Senate. First is JRP revisions.
I'll only give you one example (the worst), but the way it worked was this.
Vishal bitched about some of the stuff requiring honesty. During the Senate meeting, Student Action senators moved to strike this stuff. They gave ridiculous explanations, and then struck it. Bobby wins, by the way, as Dimitri Garcia tried to strike the entire section on summary judgments.
Anyway, the example I'm going to give is as follows: The clause reads
Evidence that is shown to have been tampered with by the party attempting to submit it to the Council shall not be permitted and the party shall be subject to 22.214.171.124 of this document.Can you guess what the problem was?
Apparently, this was unfair, because people only had to "show" that it had been tampered with, not "prove" it. Seriously. That was the argument. It was then struck. David Wasserman was very vociferous about how stupid he thought that was, and he lit something on fire. (The two actions were not actually related, but it sounds better this way) Approximate quote:
That was retarded. No, sorry, I shouldn't say that because of folks who are mentally disabled. That was just stupid.The funniest thing is that the clauses they struck were clarifications of things the Judicial Council has already declared that it has the power to do under the old JRPs. Thus, the Judicial Council's powers aren't reduced at all, it's just more vague and more difficult for folks to know what they are.
By the way, folks objected to the oath that said "I understand that the Judicial Council can rule folks in contempt at any time for my being a lying asshole" or some such. This is especially funny because even if the oath is removed, the Judicial Council's powers still remain, so it just made it more difficult to ensure that folks understood the rules.
. . .
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Reading this, I can't help but think that Laura Nader, as an anthropology professor, simply finds the idea that engineers and scientists want to solve actual problems that people might have to be somehow foreign.
"Does the money come with strings attached that hinder academic freedom of research and teaching?" asked Laura Nader, a professor of anthropology, who said the deal may allow the patron company to dictate the type of research to be conducted.That's what sciency types do. We solve problems. We aren't philosopher-scientists who don't want our work interefered with by the real world. We need people to come in and dictate the type of research to be conducted. I think it says something very sad about the field of anthropology that such a concept seems so strange and wrong to Nader.
"He who pays the piper calls the tune," Nader said.
. . .
I love the way this headline came out. The bill was one I advised Jeff on simply to change the rules to make them constitutional. There was never any question about fees, and the passage of the bill wasn't going to make any difference in anything at all. But I don't mind the headline. Heh.
. . .
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Keeping you up to date
A little more from GA Prez Josh Daniels:
Could you please also let me know the other alternatives that were considered at the meeting this past evening so that I can evaluate them from the graduate student perspective?Heh. The graduate student perspective. Remember, last Monday, he admitted to me that the GA is very detached from the average graduate student and can't present the graduate student perspective. How quickly things change.
Can I offer "the graduate student perspective" too? Here we go: "I know how to use a computer. Therefore, there could be no polls, and it'd still be all good. Better, even, since the ASUC saves money." Yay!!!
Anyway, their survey apparently went kerploop because of the short time frame. We'll see what they pitch tomorrow.
. . .
Some stuff about polling locations
Vince Law has sent out an all-hands e-mail suggesting that he agrees with Jessica Wren that there's no way to save the money without axing polling locations. But an interesting thing I note is that "the GA is conducting a survey that will conclude
tomorrow to determine how adversely graduate students will be effected by the elimination of the specific polling stations." (I'm not the kind of person who puts "[sic]" in my quotes, by the way, because I think it looks really stupid)
I wonder about the methodology of this survey. I certainly hope that if it's brought up in the Senate meeting, someone asks about it. If they just asked the Delegates, then they're going to get a very inaccurate picture.
Oh, and from his signature:
Senator, Associate Students of the University of CaliforniaDo we start as assistant students, and become associate students, in the hopes of becoming full students in the future?
. . .
It took them long enough.
. . .
I'll probably be going to the ASUC meeting tomorrow to laugh as the Senate demonstrates its complete lack of spine on various topics. I'm especially interested to see whether the Senate has decided that rules requiring honesty are inappropriate for the JRPs.
Anyone have any other stuff you think I should pay attention to?
. . .
Today, on all-ACCESS
ACCESS is still busy doing the things that a student government should. Too bad it's not our student government.
Next Wednesday is some commission meeting on some topic which includes some other topic of interest. (Facebook) See, the boring old people who are commonly referred to as "residents" don't have lives, and thus want every food place closed by 10 pm. We normal folk, on the other hand, don't go to bed at the geriatric hour, and would like to have access to food places late at night.
If you don't help out, then the smelly old people will have won.
. . .
Pants are good
If you thought the Daily Clog was silly before, now it's getting swayed by Daily Planet hit pieces. They may as well put "DUNCE" in the header.
. . .
"Happy Valentines Day, love! I'm not going to beat you today!" That's probably not the message here, but that's the impression I get from the headline: "Helping Women, Stopping Violence Is Best Valentine."
Taylor Allbright's piece is a response to that other piece last week bitching about how radical feminists have hijacked flying vagainas and flown them into the World Trade Center of Romance. (Note to Daily Cal how about investing in hyperlinks?) Oh, should I use the word "bitching"? I can never tell.
But here we go. The one sentence approach:
I never thought that wanting to end oppression and believing in equality would be so controversial, but apparently it is.Burn! Well, okay, when people think you're a bunch of man-haters, you have an image problem, and it's not one solved by saying "nuh uh!" Nor does stating a goal absolve you of any blame for the image projected by your actions. Can people want to end oppression and believe in equality without coming off as a bunch of man-haters? If the answer is "yes," then that dismissive statement is just that: Dismissive.
Where do you go from being dismissed? "Oh, now that you've unfairly dismissed my complaints as anti-equality, I see that you are correct"? Yeah, not likely. CalSERVE has the same problem, by the way, when it comes to representing white folks.
Folks don't get together and say "Gee, you know what? We should take this perfectly fair and even-handed opinion and pretend that it's anti-dude!" Image problems occur because the things you do and the attitude you project. If your response to that problem is denial, than you may as well not bother responding to folks who see that image. The fact that you don't think your cause looks like that doesn't change anything.
For instance, in this case, you might talk about why it is that all the dudes in the Vagina Monlogues are dicks, which is one of the complaints raised by Allison Kasic. (I don't actually know if that's true, since I haven't stopped by a Vagina Monlogues performance) Right now, without an explanation, or just a denial, it's up to the reader to fill in the blanks about what message is being sent. Nothing in this piece changes how folks are going to fill in those blanks. An explanation, though, could explain how to fill those blanks in the right way, so that the feminist folks don't come off as anti-dude.
. . .
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Top Quality Legal Analysis
On the Chron front page: "McCain: Outlaw Abortion."
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.Hmm... let's see if we can count the errors:
"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.
Overturning Roe v. Wade won't suddenly ban abortion.
Roe v. Wade didn't "legalize" abortion, it made it impossible to "illegalize" it.
It's not like the concept is entirely foreign to the writer, either:
Conservatives question McCain's opposition to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He opposes same-sex marriage, but says it should be regulated by the states.
. . .
The Daily Planet is still bitching about that BP deal, and I've been convinced by these articles. It's clearly a mistake to let industry folks fund research. The proper way to develop energy alternatives is to do it using funds solicited on Telegraph Ave.
Chapela was denied tenure and effectively fired despite a 35-1 vote of confidence by colleagues and a unanimous endorsement by the Academic Senate. That decision was endorsed by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, an enthusiastic supporter of the BP deal.Uh... really? Doesn't he still have his job? The Daily Cal seems to think so. I guess he wasn't fired that effectively after all.
. . .
In preparation for our end-of-year review of ASUC elected folks, which actually happens 3/4ths of the way through the year to make it in time for elections, I took a stroll through some of last year's campaign material. Today, let's talk about Student Action's "History" page. Be sure you're in a situation where you can laugh out loud freely.
The Student Action student organization was founded in 1995 by a group of students who were outraged by the incompetence of several ASUC leaders.Well, that didn't last long, did it?
Although they may have varied opinions, Student Action members are united by one common goal; to make student government work for students, not for itself.Oh, ouch.
A People's Party with Loyalty and Experience, APPLE, began as an independent ASUC party promising elected officials that would be dedicated to the humble virtues of transparency, honesty, and competent administration. APPLE was created to stand for loyalty toward the needs and desires of students, for experience and competency in office, and for an end to partisanship that interferes with service to students.That's how it was created, but they put a stop to that.
Anyway, I found it to be a fun read.
Visit our "DONE" page to see what we have been doing for you.The DONE page is actually under construction, so you'll have to come up with your own. Suggest your favorites here.
. . .
It's time for the nth annual thASUC awards (pronounced "They suck")! Right now, I'm taking nominations for ASUC officials to win the following categories:
Most Cognitively Dissonant
Most Pointless Abuse of Power
Most Selfish Abuse of Power
Most Severely Failed Campaign Promise
Most Wasteful Use of Student Money
Most Willfully Ignorant
The competition is going to be stiff this year. Make sure your favorite ASUC official is represented by nominating her now!
. . .
Friday, February 16, 2007
Not the words I'd have chosen
What should the first words about a nonbinding resolution that does nothing be? Let's ask the Chron:
Today, the talking ends.Hmm... I dunno... that doesn't seem quite right.
House Democrats have made it clear that they would never do anything to undercut the troops who are serving in Iraq.Uh... did they miss Murtha's plan? The "I don't have the balls to actually halt the war, so instead, I'll put conditions on it so it will fail and Bush will get blamed for it" strategy?
. . .
Another actual proposal
In yet another departure from Beetle Beat tradition, I'm going to make a real proposal that I think the ASUC and GA should consider (more accurately, that the ASUC should consider and force the GA to do the same). That proposal is:
The Graduate Assembly is supposed to represent graduate students. However, it doesn't. It represents delegates. The delegates are generally unelected, and are usually the one guy in the department who knows what the GA is. Josh Daniels made this case to me, too.
GA elections would finally bring representation to graduate students. Currently, delegates are highly insular and think they can do what they want with their money. This is why the GA spends money on food for itself, rather than on helping the student body in general. But elections would force folks to go out and talk to graduate students, and give those students a means to hold the GA accountable. It will also serve to inform graduate students about their student government.
The ASUC represents all students, so I think the Senate needs to take the lead here and demand that the GA work with it and develop elections. The Senate can take an amazing step to bring representation to graduate students, who are not represented in the GA, and who the GA discourages from seeking representation in the Senate (via things like the fact that all graduate student fees go to the GA, or that the election costs are dependent on the proportion of graduate students voting, rewarding apathy). This is also a perfect opportunity for several reasons:
It's cheap! The cost of printing up and distributing different ballots for every graduate department would be high. However, with the advent of computerized elections, the infrastructure is all already there. All we need is to get SIS to find a way to provide different ballots depending on which department the student is from, which should be possible. The GA and ASUC could hold joint elections, at almost no additional cost. (The big one would be voter guides, but I think they should be able to figure it out)
The ASUC has leverage. Josh Daniels is demanding that the ASUC open up more polling locations for graduate students. If the Senate requires, as a condition of doing so, that the GA take steps towards establishing elections, this would be an amazing step forward which Daniels has at least said he is interested in.
Beetle's plan for bringing elections to the GA: But for this to happen, the ASUC needs to take aggressive steps and for once agree not to be the GA's sounding board. The ASUC has to propose a joint ASUC-GA committee to create GA elections by 2008. They should also propose a charter amendment for the GA to allow computerized elections, which would need to be approved by both parties. The easiest way to do this is to amend the Memorandum of Understanding, which the Senate and GA can do.
The Senate has to put its foot down if the GA is not on board. It needs to deny the GA's requests for additional voting polls, representation, and money until it agrees. The Senate cannot allow the GA to continue its hypocritical approach of "power, but no cost." It's the job of the ASUC to look out for graduate student interests, and if the GA won't do it, it's up to the Senate.
. . .
This week's fascism award goes to BDP letter writer Summer Brenner for:
However, the right to free speech is legally limited by the public interest.No, that's not free speech, that's approved speech.
. . .
Fun vs. AntiFun
I support fun. The Pro-Fun op-ed is written by Daniel Montes, the CalSERVE External Veep candidate for this year. And it looks almost as badly written as one of mine. It's like no one bothered to edit it. I can't even comment on it, it's almost unreadable. This is the first I've seen/heard from this dude, and I'm not impressed. BEARS-United clearly has the better candidate.
The Anti-Fun op-ed is much better in writing style, though far inferior in author name (Nima Golzy and Nalini Padmanabhan?). They're from "Students for a Safer Southside." I'm strongly opposed, and support a more dangerous Southside (apparently).
However, the proposed Social Host Ordinance has created quite a stir in Berkeley, effectively pitting students who like to party against neighbors who have jobs instead of webcasted lectures and, therefore, are more in need their sleep.I'm not sure this style works. I'm still of the "quite" opinion. And I don't even have webcasted lectures.
Well, not quite. In fact, we at Students for a Safer Southside have come together with this very issue in mind.
We're not against partying—we're not even against drinking—but...Hmm... even, you say? It's written like it's some sort of concession to us. "Normal people are against drinking, but we're on your side," huh. That one word tells us so much about the attitude of these fun-haters.
While some opponents of the proposal contend that this reduction is merely a result of people covering up their parties to avoid the fine, there has been no evidence to support this claim.Um, yeah. That's what happens when stuff gets covered up.
Instead, it is probably the case that party hosts eager to avoid the penalty have taken relatively simple preventative measures, such as having a guest list or just keeping an eye on the door, that have contributed to the increase in public safety. How can anyone argue against that kind of common sense?Yeah. How could anyone? Did I mention the firebombing? Everyone knows high school students go away if you ask politely.
UC Berkeley may be all about individual freedom, but do we really want to show ourselves as the city where you can get away with anything, legal or illegal?That's what individual freedom means. I think what the question is supposed to be is "Do we really want to show ourselves as the city where we support freedom, rather than demanding that all conform to the laws that we elders declare." And I think the answer is probably yes.
Support fun! Oppose people who hate fun!
. . .
Back that up
In a follow-up, Josh Daniels explains that the reason he opposes reducing polling locations is because graduate students are too stupid to use computers without assistance. Well, I guess he implied it. No, his real issue is that graduate students need to "have an equitable say in campus-wide referenda that increase our fees." No argument here. My argument is that it's not clear how desperately needed these polling locations are to pull that off.
The real issue, of course, is that Josh Daniels wants to make sure his pet Lower Sproul project looks like it has the support of the whole student body.
Let's look at some paired events:
Josh Daniels fails to appoint graduate student members of the Election Council Chair selection committee, and Josh Daniels feels the Election Council Chair isn't representing the interests of graduate students.
Josh Daniels whines about how it's fair for graduate students to pay no fees to the ASUC Senate since it doesn't make considerations for graduate students, and calls on the ASUC Senate to make special considerations for graduate students.
Josh Daniels bitches about how holding GA elections would be too expensive, and demands that the ASUC spend more money to add more useless polling locations for incompetent graduate students to vote in ASUC elections.
The GA makes its share of election costs depend on how many graduate students vote, so that it no longer has reason to bitch about not being catered to enough, and bitches about not being catered to enough.
So here's a tip, and one Josh should be quite familiar with: If you want control, you have to pay. Wasn't that the argument for why we needed a fee increase for Lower Sproul? Oh, wait, in this case, that rule would mean Josh doesn't get what he wants, so it doesn't apply. Stand by for the ASUC to bend over and take it once again, since our Senators lack spines.
As one commenter says:
"I never underestood the term 'douchebag' until I met Manuel Buenrostro, but this is bringing me entirely new levels of lexical clarity."
. . .
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Just kill yourself already
Assisted suicide! Again. Folks know I'm a supporter, of course. I encourage bridge-assisted suicide, too. Let's see what stupid things people have to say about it.
"This is a very significant issue and he thinks it's the one that should be decided by the voters," said Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear.Uh... what? Whether or not someone should have a choice in her life is an issue voters should decide? This is precisely the kind of issue that should not be subject to popular vote. Freedom conditional on popular vote isn't all that impressive.
. . .
I like big butts and I can not lie
Josh Daniels apparently showed up yesterday to derail the good idea of reducing polling locations. Disenfranchisement, and all that jazz. We've heard it all before. Josh Daniels is the president of the GA. Here are some thoughts to consider:
Josh Daniels told me earlier this week that the GA was for graduate students, and the ASUC was for undergrads. Thus, he thought it unfair for graduate students to have to pay any amount of fees to the ASUC. Suddenly, though, it's important for graduate students to have a voice in ASUC elections.
Oh, wait, let me clarify that. That's ASUC elections, excepting the GA, which doesn't hold elections where average graduate students can make their voice heard. One has to wonder why, given the convenience of online voting, the GA doesn't take steps to create elections. The cost wouldn't be terrible, since the infrastructure is pretty much all there. The Josh Daniels explanation would be: "GA Delegates are too stupid to think of something like that, so we need someone like you to show up to our bylaw revision talks." My explanation would be a touch more cynical, considering what I've seen from these folks year after year.
Also exciting is the fact that the GA took special steps to make sure they didn't have to pay their fair share of voting rights. This was last year's referendum (it's okay if you don't remember this detail, either, since they wrote it to be intentionally vague). Since the GA's share of the election cost is proportional to graduate student turnout, and since the ASUC supposedly doesn't represent graduate students, wouldn't "disenfranchising voters" be a benefit for the GA? More money for them!
No, no, of course not. They're not serious when they say they want autonomy. They want more money, more control, and more votes, but not the associated costs. Now that their share of the election is smaller, they strongly support higher election costs. Imagine that.
I guess it can't be helped. Graduate students are old, and can't be expected to understand these new-fangled interwebs that the kids are using these days. Online voting is complicated and inconvenient, compared to the simplicity of finding a polling station, waiting in line, and voting hunched over an uncomfortable table, while the guy standing behind you can see your votes quite clearly. And graduate students are on campus, walking between various locations, all the time. It's not like they live far away, or only use a single building all day.
. . .
The Judicial Council hearing for my case against bribing voters has been rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 25, at 2pm. If you're Student Action, you think that "four days before" this time is Sunday, Feb. 25 at 10am.
. . .
Clause of the day
The latest trends suggest prostitution may be creeping up Nob Hill from the Tenderloin, where it is generally more prevalent.Thank you.
. . .
Good luck with that.
. . .
Oh, yeah, the news
I should probably say something about this. CalSERVE picked their slate. It's a bit more populated than last year's.
I don't really have much to add. While I cover the ASUC, I don't have the internal connections to the gossip that flies around, so I don't know much about the particular folks up for election.
I'm also not sure where I stand on CalSERVE this year. As folks who aren't ignorant SA anonybots know, I usually support Student Action over CalSERVE. This is because CalSERVE has a cause, and I don't want my money being spent on causes, I want it being spent on student groups (this is why I support SQUELCH! over everyone). Those student groups can go fight for a cause if they want, but there's no need to get the ASUC directly involved.
This year, though, CalSERVE may be trying to take advantage of some disappointment in Student Action, and may de-causify a bit in order to win. I'm not sure whether that disappointment could actually manifest itself in terms of votes, but CalSERVE may very well think it will. If they do de-causify, and offer to run as the party of better-than-Student-Action, I'll have no problem supporting them, but it remains to be seen if that's the approach they'll take. If they continue to run as the party of minorities, women, and the eternally offended, there's not really much there even for folks who are unhappy with the direction Student Action is taking (i.e. more money for the executives so we can take credit for everything).
Or, you know, you can vote for BEARS-United.
. . .
Well, I'd like to have protest coverage, but the protest was so small it was hard to find.
Some old geezers were protesting the war or something. They want something, I'm sure, and they want it now. It probably rhymes with 4 and 8, too.
In more interesting news, SJP held dramatic readings from The California Patriot. I imagine the Patriot folks will have more to say, with pictures.
. . .
How gullible can Eugene Lee be?
Amidst the thousands cheering in Springfield, it became clear that Obama has gotten the United States excited about politics again by resuscitating our belief in our personal efficacy.Because finding a bunch of folks to cheer for you is something no other presidential candidate in recent history has pulled off.
. . .
Blah blah tobacco funding. But we have a great line which so perfectly encompasses this attitude.
"This is not a hard philosophical question," said David Kessler, dean of UC San Francisco School of Medicine and a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and chief witness in the federal investigation of Philip Morris. "There is an ongoing criminal enterprise. The question is do you want to be a part of it."It's so perfect because it's so exactly wrong. The question is not "do you want to be part of it?" It's "Do I want to let you be part of it?" We saw it with the San Francisco ROTC travesty, too. For these folks, "freedom" is nothing more than "room for error."
. . .
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Next week, in Kaysurk
A Resolution In Opposition to the Second Response Ordinance Amendments: Read title. This is to oppose a change in that booze party thingamabober to make a 180-day probation period, rather than a 60-day one. In an excellent display of the effectiveness of the ASUC in expressing opinions, it's been pretty much accomplished through Igor and co.
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF REDUCING IMPEDIMENTS TO ONLINE VOTING: You can tell by the capitalization that this is one of Jeff Manssero's bills. The goal is to remove all the dumb rules that folks put in to prevent voter fraud in online elections. The rules were really fucking dumb. They are: Voting only between 9am-7pm (uh... way to eliminate one of the big advantages of online voting: no need to schedule time during the day to do it), 5-minute delay between login and voting (too bad, if you're using a public computer), and one vote per computer (download our software! And I hope you own your own computer!). While I imagine Student Action likes that these restrictions will be eliminated, as it will make their job easier, there's a limit to how far you can take being a partisan whore.
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF ASUC MEMBERSHIP: This is the bill I got Jeff to write for me. (stuff here) It makes it possible to be a member! Basically, it now reads "If you want to be a member, you are!"
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF 2007 JRP REVISIONS: This is the bill to pass the new JRP revisions.
A Bill in Support of Accurate By-Laws: Er... this looks a lot like a bill from two weeks ago, to strike Title XII of the by-laws regarding the now-illegal Diversity Scholarship Program. I dunno what the difference is, and I'm too lazy to find out.
A Resolution In Support of Eshleman Safety: Allocate TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for lighting in Lower Sproul. Also, it asks for more CSO dudes for Eshleman.
. . .
Today, there's an ad in the Daily Cal. The ASUC Elections Council still needs a Publicity Coordinator
and Poll Coordinator, and they get paid, so if you're interested, contact the Elections Council or check out their website.
What's neat about the ad, though, is the title:
LET THE ASUC PAY YOU THIS YEAR!What an awesome line that strikes right at the core of what the ASUC represents. I don't think it was done on purpose, but since the Chair is Jessica Wren, who has seen the ASUC in "action," it may very well have been.
. . .
Now here's a lawyer who knows how to get results in San Francisco.
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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Iggy sent me a press releasish type thingamabober titled "Students to propose constructive amendments to BAPAC recommendations." I think "propose constructive amendments" is a long way of saying "not have fun," but I guess that sort of stuff is necessary if you're the thing-accomplishing type.
Dear Sir/Madam,I haven't included the contact info because I'm lazy like that. If you're smart enough to come up with an idea, you're smart enough to figure out how to contact these folks.
This evening at 7pm, a broad-based coalition of students representing the Associated Students of the University of California, Inter-Fraternity Council, Panhellenic, ACCESS, the University Students' Cooperative Assocation, and other organizations will propose recommendations to the BAPAC policy at the City Council meeting (2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way)
These recommendations will concern the Social Host Ordinance and provisions for police response at public gatherings and will focus on the spirit of nuisance abatement and minimization or elimination of irresponsible consumption of alcohol, while making the provisions more equitable and easier to enforce.
Should you have any questions, please contact the following representatives:
Igor Tregub, ACCESS Co-Founder
Nikhil Bhagat, IFC President
Taylor Allbright, ASUC Senator
Daniel Montes, student cooperative representative
Thank you for your time!
. . .
Monday, February 12, 2007
So, I didn't peform the joke I had planned on Josh Daniels, because it would be mean. I even bought him a chocolate flower.
The intended joke was to either stand him up completely or just show up late, and then say "Hey, I thought you were cool with demanding concessions and then failing to carry through on your obligations." He denies responsibility for last year's GA referendum. Apparently, all those people left. Leave a mess, and leave everyone else to clean up... it sounds just like Temina Madon.
Anyway, the summary was "Yeah, we suck, but why aren't you doing our job and helping?" I dunno if he was conceding how much they sucked because he thought that would make me more sympathetic, but all I got from the talk was "No one in the GA actually thinks about the basic foundations of government, so we need folks like you to volunteer to help, and to ignore every betrayal we've made in the past and trust us to take your recommendations seriously." The GA makes the ASUC look professional. If anyone really wants to take them up on that offer, let me know and I'll put you in touch, but I have better things to do than to try to convince GA delegates that they should design their government in an accountable way that communicates with graduate students in general, when that doesn't occur to them on their own.
Apparently, the fact that graduate students have the unfair power to vote in ASUC elections while also serving on the GA, which gets all their fees, is fine by Daniels, because "in practice," the ASUC is the undergradaute student government. I have to admit that this seems tough to square with the GA's demands for additional power in controlling ASUC elections. If they really wanted to do something with that control, they should propose GA elections to occur simultaneously. If anyone in the ASUC wants to take up that cause, have at it!
. . .
I want to whine a little bit about the Judicial Council's rejection of my case charging that the GA amendment was presented illegally. Unlike some folks, I respect that, in a democracy, I won't always get my way, so I don't expect to do anything about this, but I do like whining, and maybe Bobby wants to argue, so...
What I charged was that constitutional amendments can't be proposed as parts of larger legislative packages. The Constitution describes amendments and referenda as different, distinct things with different thresholds and such. It seems odd to me that we can restructure the government in a way that many people don't like simply by attaching a constitutional amendment to a more popular proposal.
The Judicial Council rejected this case because I only noticed the violation while writing up the charge sheet about the GA breaking the Memorandum of Understanding that they passed. They said that they didn't feel that voiding the MOU was an appropriate remedy for part of it being broken.
This explanation was fine for my MOU charge. But it doesn't seem to make sense for the illegal amendment one. The fact that a remedy is severe doesn't seem like it should matter when charging a constitutional violation. Is the standard being set that "Constitutional violations are okay as long as fixing them might seem a bit unfair"? The Judicial Council didn't seem to claim that the remedy I requested was inappropriate for the violation I charged (that it was illegally placed on the ballot), which is the standard I thought the Judicial Council used.
The timing of the suit is also a reasonable reason for questioning the suit, but I don't see why it would matter in this case. Is the standard being set this time that "Constitutional violations are okay as long as no one catches them fast enough"?
Essentially, the Judicial Council ruled that because I didn't notice a constitutional violation until and because the GA violated the MOU, the remedy has to be appropriate for the GA violating the MOU, rather than for the constitutional violation, and that doesn't make sense to me.
. . .
Take off every zig
This blog post serves as the announcement of BEARS-United's campaign for ASUC office this year. BEARS-United has a long tradition of critical, unserious, and insane saturation campaigns, and I hope to continue that proud tradition. I don't think I'll be hiring a blimp, though.
In fact, I won't be campaigning at all. As a person in touch with the vast majority of the student body, I know they don't want to hear from me. Can other candidates say they are as willing to serve the student body? I didn't think so.
Do YOU want to be part of the tradition? If so, let me know. (Also, if you want to join our legal team, which will handle things like my incentive suit, and may seek out campaign violations to get the ASUC sued again, let me know. It's fun!)
. . .
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Well, both GA charges got rejected. The voter bribe one was accepted, though. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21 at 5.
. . .
Well, James has already mentioned this, but I will, too. Harvard is putting some woman in the presidency. James mentioned how this person is a history professor, rather than a mathy/sciency type. NOW knows when to not back down:
"And it has only taken them 371 years," said Kim Gandy, president of National Organization for Women. "Larry Summers, we couldn't have done it without you."An interesting point of view. The implication seems to be that Drew Gilpin Faust was not hired on account of qualifications or anything, but as part of a PC backlash against Larry Summers. I guess NOW was trying to gloat as women are genetically predisposed to do, and since she didn't think (on account of being a woman), she just provided even more ammunition to those who might question the ability of women to serve in such roles.
Also, from that Crimson article James quoted:
In a statement last night, University spokesman John D. Longbrake declined to comment.
. . .
Friday, February 09, 2007
Good news, everyone! I went ahead and filed a quarter-dozen charge sheets. I'll be the first to admit that I don't really expect much success, but hey... it's news!
The charge sheets are:
Bribing voters unfairly benefits incumbents.
Voting on a constitutional amendment cannot occur as part of a larger referendum. (Yeah... it's a bit late...)
The GA has broken the MOU, and therefore the ASUC no longer needs to follow it.
. . .
Thursday, February 08, 2007
A dark day
I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Sammy Averbach.
Concerning the purchase and use of audio equipment in Judicial Council hearings, Judicial Council Chair Marisa Cuevas says that the records would be available to the justices only.
Well, let me clarify that. She is reported to say that by the Daily Cal. Folks know what that means.
News audio records would only be made available to the justices for their use, Cuevas said.While I come to the same conclusion as Sammy, the reasons he gives are very self-serving. If problems arise? What about if problems don't arise? Do students not have an interest in listening to the public hearings?
However, some senators said that while the Judicial Council should have a recording device, records should be made available to the public.
"If any problems arise regarding Judicial Council decisions, there should be a public record to ensure that the process is transparent to the student body," said Student Action Senator Sammy Averbach in an e-mail. "But even if it won't be made public, it is crucial that there is a recording device in place for the (Judicial) Council to have an objective, incontestable record of the proceedings."
No, it's a fundamental principle of open government. Records of public hearings are to be public. It's the fifth section in our ASUC Bill of Rights, in fact (which means that, whatever anyone says, the recordings will have to be made available to the public).
By the way, that raises an interesting question concerning the Judicial Council hearings of the summer. Can you think of it? It's a question that Student Action may have an interest in asking, if those folks are still feeling a bit vengeful.
. . .
Here we go!
First, we have some complaints about how that artist dude with the pictures of the torture thingie got turned away from those places in that country. They argue that he was turned away because people were afraid of being called anti-American. Chris Thompson offers an alternate theory: The art just isn't very good. It's opportunistic, and is getting a reaction not due to any artistic merit, but because people have opinions about the subject matter.
Moving on to the obvious "meh"ishness of the Graduate Assembly:
While the assembly is a part of and receives funds from the ASUC, it also receives money from the Graduate Division, the university’s umbrella organization for graduate affairs.If this is true (and it might not be, since we're reading the Daily Cal), then the "Defense from Autonomy" argument that the GA used for its affirmative action policy is that much more idiotic.
. . .
Here's a fun column which illuminates something about the writer. I haven't seen the stuff it's referring to, but judging from the descriptions, there's something to be said about this comment:
It would be credulous to simply brush this off as boys being boys. Something about this new genre sells: Only a year ago his first book "I Hope they Sell Beer in Hell" made it to No. 26 on the New York Times Bestsellers list with over 100,000 copies sold. And while many would initially conclude that women would be repulsed by Max's stories, almost half of his readership is female, revealing his lessons as truly universal in both their repugnant and liberating appeal.Actually, I think it's popular precisely because it's "boys being boys." Our society has sought so hard to feminize men, that when the occasional guy acts like, well, a guy, it's shocking and revolutionary. And the women like it when dudes act like dudes.
. . .
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
This week, on A-S-U-C!!!
The agenda packet is up early this week. BILLS!
A Bill in Opposition to the City of Berkeley Social Host Ordinance: Briefly mentioned here and here. I want to give you what's in the packet, though:
WHEREAS, the ASUC represents the voice of students, and;You know, not to be nitpicky, but I dunno how well "we'll write the bill later" fits with the philosophy of public notice. It's not like this bill will pass before the City Council meeting anyway.
WHEREAS, friendly amendments to this bill will forthcoming within the next week, then;
BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUC oppose the City of Berkeley Social Host Ordinance
A Bill In Support of the ASUC Judicial Council: David Wasserman wants to allocate $103.88 for two microphones for the Judicial Council to record hearings. My only concern is whether they would actually effectively record what is said by all parties, but otherwise, I hope this passes. Then we can hear the ridiculous arguments brought by Student Action as many times as we like!
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF SENATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEDURES: This bill will add a section to the by-laws on Senate Impeachment Procedures, which currently will only include a requirement for a committee to look at them be formed. Presumably, once they come up with their ideas, they'd fill it in.
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF PROMOTING ONLINE ELECTIONS WHILE REDUCING ELECTION EXPENDITURES: This bill seeks to reduce the number of polling stations, and thus reduce cost. Since we now have online voting, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the bill as written is unconstitutional, since the Constitution requires certain polling locations, and they aren't included in the bill. In particular, it looks like the residence hall locations are being removed.
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF PRACTICAL ASUC ELECTION DATES: (Daily Cal story) This bill forces the ASUC to schedule the election (i.e. fix the date) by the 10th week of the Fall Semester, and halts all business if they don't. It requires that this be done with the assistance of the Elections Council Chair, so this will indirectly force the Senate to appoint the Elections Council Chair on time, too. (I hope they don't amend this out, because it's probably even more important)
A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF 2007 ASUC ELECTIONS: This bill seeks to schedule the election for April 11-13. This is Wednesday-Friday.
. . .
Another update on stuff
So, does anyone have anything meaningful they want to suggest to Josh Daniels? I dunno if saying "stop being incompetent" is going to accomplish much. Neither will "give me back my money!" I have a meeting time, but besides reiterating what I already said, what else can I say?
. . .
Update on... stuff
I hope everyone else made the same request I did. I got a response from Josh Daniels, the substantive portion of which was:
You raised a lot of good (very correct) points. I'd be happy to talk with you about the refund and your other concerns. I can't comment on the feasibility or legality of giving you a refund, but we should definitely talk about it.If you're thinking "Wait a minute, that's not very substantive," you're right! Anyway, I let him know I was available to meet, though I pointed out that if he's responding because he wants to look "political," when he doesn't actually have anything meaningful to say or discuss (and he doesn't, since if he did, he could easily have said so in the e-mail without going through the effort of meeting), he shouldn't waste our time, and I won't hold it against him.
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Bring it on
Iggy likes drinking. The City of Berkeley doesn't like drinking. Which side do you want to be on? The fun side? Or the boring side?
If you're a supporter of fun, you might consider attending a protesty thing at the City Council next week. The City Council is putting stiff penalties on party hosts where there's problems with underage drinking and stuff. Law enforcement is hard, so the City Council wants to outsource that to party hosts, but instead of paying them for doing the city's job, they'll punish them for not doing it.
What are party hosts supposed to do? ID checks? Bouncers? Sure, you can do that, if you want to get shot, brained, or firebombed.
If it was me, I wouldn't pay attention at all, deliberately avoid noticing obvious violations of the law, etc., so that I won't be "knowingly" doing anything. I dunno if that makes us safer, though.
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Open Letter to Graduate Assembly President Josh Daniels
GA President Daniels,
According to your comments in the Daily Californian, our student government fees are voluntary. In particular, you stated "Students have voluntarily chosen to tax themselves for student government." This was news to me, but I'm glad you informed us.
I would like to note that there appears to be an error in the ASUC's records, as I have never chosen to tax myself for student government. Therefore, I would like to receive a refund of $395, for the seven years of ASUC fees that were erroneously charged to me. Please inform the relevant body in the ASUC and let me know where I can pick up my check.
If your comment was in error, I would appreciate it if you would inform the Daily Californian that you are an opportunistic liar, so it can issue the appropriate correction. If, on the other hand, you were referring to the fact that some students, many years ago, voted to impose this fee on me, I would advise you to invest in a dictionary and brush up on the definition of "voluntary." I understand that such competency can be difficult for one such as yourself, as evidenced by your failure to find members for an Elections Council Chair Selection Committee in a timely manner, partly due to your failure to understand the distinction between such a committee and the Elections Council itself, and the fact that, apparently, the Graduate Assembly ignores its own bylaws, and cannot effectively write or maintain them, leaving the graduate student body without any means of holding its government to account. Nevertheless, I would hope that Graduate Assembly members, as well as its leaders, such as yourself, would make an effort to behave in a manner befitting of a student government branch at the best public university in the country.
Thank you for your time.
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I don't know what Bobby sees in him
The hits keep coming when it comes to Graduate Assembly President Joshua Daniels.
Folks are wondering whether the affirmative action policy of the GA is legal.
Defense 1: We don't actually follow our rules.
While the bylaws state the assembly is "an affirmative action employer and appointer," many members of the assembly's executive board say that the policy is not clearly delineated and not actually used during hiring.That's good to know. Not only is the GA unelected and unrepresentative, it doesn't even follow the rules we use to keep them in check.
Part of the problem with the policy, assembly members say, is that many of the bylaws haven't been addressed or revised for a number of years.
The assembly's Organization and Rules Committee Chair Peter Dillon said his committee had not met to address bylaw reform until this year.
"(This is the) first time this committee has reached quorum in five years," Dillon said. "Currently there is a huge difference between what the (assembly) does and what the bylaws say."
Defense 2: Working for us sucks so much no one wants those jobs
"In the theory end, it says 'affirmative action' in the bylaws, but in practice it doesn’t exist," Assembly President Joshua Daniels said.This makes a huge difference.
Daniels said the policy currently applies to only assembly employees, not ASUC Auxiliary employees who work for the assembly, and the assembly only hires employees about every two years.
Defense 3: Students give their fees voluntarily
However, Daniels said the student fee was voluntary and not campus money.Holy fucking shit. Are you fucking kidding me? When was this? When did I voluntarily choose to tax myself to help run the worthless GA? Oh, other students chose to tax me for student government, and therefore it's voluntary. That makes sense. Really. Thank you, Josh Daniels, for explaining how you don't really see students as individuals, but a giant blob which has only collective existence.
"Students have voluntarily chosen to tax themselves for student government," Daniels said. "The university takes in the burden of collecting that (fee)."
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
This is actually kind of funny. Be sure to watch the video. All it really needed was for the dude with the camera to start laughing in Paul Harms's face.
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We work for free!
Apparently, Laura Nader works for free. On that BP grant:
The deal raises a host of questions for UC Anthropology Professor Laura Nader: 'Do they have academic freedom?" Nader asked in an interview with the Daily Planet Friday.I dunno. Do they? Does the fact that someone is paying them mean they don't? If that's the case, and professors have to choose between academic freedom and food, I dunno how useful academic freedom is. But I guess when you don't actually create anything productive, you don't need support from folks who have actual interests.
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"Young Americans for Freedom" threw an event today on Sproul to celebrate Ronald Reagan's birthday. It was a cardboard box wall, with some stuff on it. It was to symbolize the Berlin wall and Reagan's fight against communism, I think. Some interesting notes:
Students for Justice in Palestine are physically incapable of witnessing activism by someone else without trying to make it about them. (This, and the cardboard boxes, reminded me of a time when The Daily Cal was fun.)
Communists take offense when you point out that communist dictatorships cause problems. It's not really fair, apparently, to blame communism for the fact that communism always seems to end up turning into a dictatorship.
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I have the power!
Moon! Ah, the good old Graduate Assembly. Never afraid to demand more power at the cost of fairness.
The assembly's affirmative action policy states that it "does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, color, ethnicity, age, political persuasion, country of origin, sexual orientation, or disability, and is an affirmative action employer and appointer."That seems tough to square with Prop 209. Actually, it seems tough to square with itself. Anyway, the Graduate Assembly revised its rules to make it clear that it has the power to revoke funding to anyone who offends a black finance committee member.
"Nothing in the law requires us to revoke funding," said Philip Wolgin, an assembly delegate who authored the bill. "If it is someone going against the nondiscrimination policy, it's well within our right to revoke funding."Oh, nothing requires it, it's merely within their right. This makes it easier to treat people of different races differently. It's that all-important "discretion."
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Monday, February 05, 2007
According to this op-ed, we have the political infrastructure and capital to prevent hurricanes.
Anyway, it's an op-ed about how awesome Teach for America is. I have nothing specific to say about it, except that Manny Buenrostro found his way there. Yeah, this guy.
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Me graduate student. Me need special space for me only! No fat chicks! I mean, no undergrads! From Friday:
"I want someplace where no one is going to run up to you and ask why they got a B-minus," Assembly Delegate Johanna Franklin told the focus group.While I can understand the feeling, I'm not sure we need a special graduate-only facility to pull that off. How about, like, home or something? Or hey, better yet, learn to deal with people.
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Somebody failed statistics.
Friday saw the release of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which called global warming as a result of human activity "unequivocal". The scientific panel, formed by the United Nations in 1990, has released three earlier reports, but none have been nearly as definitive. The use of the word "unequivocal" was as formal as the study's methodology, corresponding to a 90 percent degree of certainty.Here's a followup question: What does it mean to be "90 percent certain" about something of this sort?
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When you want a fair opinion about Sonya Banerjee's performance as chair, the only logical thing to do is to ask Ben Narodick and Yvette Felarca. Was Felarca even involved with the ASUC during Sonya's reign?
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While the point is hidden a bit, there's an interesting whine here.
More than half of those taking the more advanced eighth-grade algebra tests score at or above basic levels, but eighth graders taking the general math exams score far lower, pointing to a discrepancy that some Berkeley Unified School District officials attribute to inappropriate testing standards.That's right. The students who take the advanced courses score HIGHER ON TESTS!!! This must mean there's something wrong with the tests, because it's absurd to think that students who take advanced math courses might be better at math.
Through seventh grade most students take the same math classes, but at eighth grade the district separates the students into either an accelerated or paced algebra program. Students in the accelerated classes take state standardized tests of a higher level.
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I must have missed this NIB. Among the reforms being passed is a Constitutional Amendment clarifying term lengths and a line of succession, which may be the first ASUC proposition I support. It may not be, though, because the succession stuff has me a bit concerned about power overreaches.
Also, the committee to specify impeachment procedures includes Van Nguyen, Jeff Manassero, David Wasserman, and Taylor Allbright, so it may actually preserve the fairness of impeachment.
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Sunday, February 04, 2007
Note the new subheading for the blog, concerning the issues surrounding the Elections Council Chair Selection Committee. I've noticed that appointed ASUC officials have awesome lines, compared to the extremely boring statements by elected officials ("Shut up, you underrepresented bitch" excepted, of course). I noticed this with former Attorney General Nathan Royer, too.
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Need a job?
Elections Council Chair Jessica Wren has asked me to help her advertise ASUC Elections Council openings. She is currently looking for a Publicity Coordinator and Poll Coordinator. The application from last year is available on the ASUC Elections website, here, and I don't think anyone will care that the date says "2006." Or, you can e-mail her directly.
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Armen over at Nuts and Boalts suggests that the half-billion dollar for energy thingie is going to displace the Haas-Boalt building folks were planning.
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Saturday, February 03, 2007
Okay, it's later, now, so let's talk about "A Bill for an ASUC Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of the Legal Challenge to Stop the Implementation of the Anti-Affirmative Action Proposition 2 in Michigan." Obviously, Dimitri Garcia is the author, and Vivienne Nguyen and Jeff Manassero are co-sponsoring it with him. Vivienne Nguyen is on board, so that should already tell you it's a bad idea, but let's look at it.
Basically, Michigan passed "Proposal 2" which was similar to Prop 209. Michigan universities didn't want it, though, so the government's branches all got together and agreed to try not to enforce it, hoping to deal with the lawsuits by settling and giving the plaintiffs everything they wanted. The injunction was in place, but then, in a repeat of Prop 209, that injunction was overturned, as the courts determined that another party could intervene, since the interests of supporters of Proposal 2 were not represented. BAMN and co. are hoping that eventually, the legal challenge to Proposal 2 will reach the Supreme Court, where, if they win, they can find Prop 209 unconstitutional as well. The legal arguments, as described by the ASUC bill, are:
Proposal 2 violates the Fourteenth Amendment by establishing an unequal political procedure in which alumni, veterans, residents and numerous others can seek what are, or can be called, preferences merely by lobbying the governing boards of the defendant universities. Minorities and women, however, no longer have the right to secure change through that same method. In fact, if minorities and women do secure a change from the governing boards, the changes they have secured--and those changes alone--are subject to challenge in state court. They and they alone must wage a statewide campaign to amend the Constitution in order to secure changes that are in their interest.I'll quote the Prop 209 injunction lifting order again:
We must be sure not to misread the district court's finding that those seeking race or gender preferences now must mount a statewide campaign while "those seeking preferences based on any ground other than race or gender, such as age, disability, or veteran status, continue to enjoy access to the political process at all levels of government." Proposition 209 only prohibits preferential treatment based on race or gender. "Those seeking preferences based on any ground other than race or gender, such as age, disability, or veteran status," who "continue to enjoy access to the political process at all levels of government," include, we must remember, everyone -- members of all races and both genders. If the state ever prohibited women and minorities from seeking preferences on a basis available to everyone else, such as age, disability, or veteran status, the state would violate Proposition 209's prohibition against race or gender discrimination.(I want to stress I'm quoting these as arguments, not as a legal explanation of whether the legal effort will fail.) Also:
Plaintiffs challenge Proposition 209 not as an impediment to protection against unequal treatment but as an impediment to receiving preferential treatment. The controlling words, we must remember, are "equal" and "protection." Impediments to preferential treatment do not deny equal protection. It is one thing to say that individuals have equal protection rights against political obstructions to equal treatment; it is quite another to say that individuals have equal protection rights against political obstructions to preferential treatment. While the Constitution protects against obstructions to equal treatment, it erects obstructions to preferential treatment by its own terms.Moving on with the arguments:
Proposal 2 violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by forcing the universities to adopt admissions systems that have the effect of excluding a disproportionate number of black, Latina/o and Native American students.I suggest you read the two rulings I've linked concerning Prop 209 and Proposal 2. They're quite illuminating, and go into the legal details of these and other arguments. But there's one more I can't let go without comment:
Proposal 2 violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by forcing the universities to abandon outreach and admission programs that seek to admit women in programs to increase the number of women in the sciences, in engineering, in math, and in similar areas where women are still badly underrepresented.
Proposal 2 violates the First Amendment rights of the universities and of the students at the universities by depriving the university of their traditional power to set admissions criteria in a manner that will increase the racial integration and diversity on campusesI just want to make sure the argument here is clear: The government has a First Amendment right to be free from the will of the voters. From the order on Prop 2:
One does not generally think of the First Amendment as protecting the State from the people but the other way around—of the Amendment protecting individuals from the State.Anyway, the first resolved clause is for the ASUC to file an amicus brief in opposition to Proposal 2. Presumably, BAMN and co. have dozens of lawyers laying around who can write it up for the ASUC. The rest of it is:
the ASUC will co-sponsor a public hearing to investigate and hear testimony from students on the development of a hostile campus climate for students at UC Berkeley that has resulted from the ban on Affirmative Action. The transcript from this hearing will be included as an appendix to the amicus brief filed by the ASUC.Will they allow folks to speak up about how they haven't experienced a hostile climate, too? We'll see.
The ASUC has already proven itself to be the university's bitch. Will it be BAMN's, too?
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This week, in the ASUC
Newly introduced bills for this week:
A Bill In Support Of Updated ASUC By-Laws: This bill strikes Title XII from the ASUC By-Laws, which provides for the "Diversity Scholarship," which has been discontinued due to Prop 209, apparently. The ASUC sure took their its time getting around to this.
A Resolution Commemorating Grace Rualo Asuncion: Grace Asuncion is the woman murdered in Eshleman Hall in 1992, which led to security measures and such. This bill is to establish a "Grace Rualo Asuncion Memorial Day."
A Bill for an ASUC Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of the Legal Challenge to Stop the Implementation of the Anti-Affirmative Action Proposition 2 in Michigan: Well, for once, the title pretty much says it all. More on this later.
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I want my resume boosted!
So, the ASUC released the minutes from their Jan. 24 meeting. A few things of interest:
Jeff Manassero wants "a transcript of student leaders to accompany their academic transcript," in order to codify the resume-whoring which motivates so much of the ASUC.
Vivienne Nguyen goes to great lengths in order to demonstrate that she is an idiot, during Jessica Wren's confirmation.
Mr. Wasserman said asked if him making a statement such as "I think that X party violated the Constitution" meant that he was biased against the party, or that he felt that the party broke the rules. Ms. Nguyen said she wasn't sure where he was going with the question, because that had nothing to do with the diagram or the comment that went with it.The diagram is here. See if you think David Wasserman's question had anything to do with it. Another choice quote:
Mr. Rizzo asked if she was biased against Student Action. Ms. Wren said she wasn't. Mr. Rizzo asked if there was any way to prove she wasn't biased.Donald Rizzo, everyone!
There was also a Special Order from Shanta Driver. For those of you familiar with her arguments, the BAMN folks say that anti-affirmative action measures are unconstitutional because they deny minorities from seeking special treatment, but don't deny other groups, like veterans or whatever, and therefore is racist. It doesn't get much dumber than that. More on this later, but I just want to quote one of my favorite passages from a ruling lifting an injunction against Prop 209:
Proposition 209 amends the California Constitution simply to prohibit state discrimination against or preferential treatment to any person on account of race or gender. Plaintiffs charge that this ban on unequal treatment denies members of certain races and one gender equal protection of the laws. If merely stating this alleged equal protection violation does not suffice to refute it, the central tenet of the Equal Protection Clause teeters on the brink of incoherence.
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Friday, February 02, 2007
"There are some serious skills that are being brought in," Moulitsas adds. "What we can't offer are the incumbency and the name recognition that brings. The assumption in the media is that they're unbeatable because they're an incumbent. But as we saw in Connecticut, those are things that can be overcome."In Connecticut? Lieberman? Did the Netroots really overcome those things? Who won that race?
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Man, finals are hard
No, really, Rio Bauce writes an article on it.
BHS required all teachers to give students a semester final. Most classes and all Advanced Placement (AP) classes got a written test as their final, while some elective classes such as the popular Politics and Power class (where they simulate a Model Congress), taught by Steven Teel, voted on final legislation in Congress.That must have been some final. "Hmmm... hmm... Aye?" "You pass!"
If you are completely confused about what finals are, I'll explain it to you. Most teachers use finals as a way to test kids on all the information they have taught them during the course of the semester. Sounds great, doesn’t it? If you’ve learned it all already, it should be easy, right? WRONG.I'm not sure how that makes the previous statement "WRONG." Folks who've learned it already find it easy. Those who don't understand the material find it hard. Those statements seem pretty consistent.
Many kids, who didn't understand the material before, either do really poorly or study the night before the test, "spit it out" on the test, and then forget it all again.
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