Monday, June 07, 2010

Oakland Mayor's Race - candidates forum Thursday May 10th

The Oakland Mayor's Race finally has its first official candidates forum. This Thursday, May 10th, 100 Black Men of The Bay Area will host the "Oakland Mayoral Candidates Forum" at the First Unitarian Church at 685 14th Street in Oakland from 6 PM to 9 PM. Yes, all of the candidates will be there as of this writing.

If Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, who has not made an official statement on his future in or out of Oakland, does not show up, don't take it as a sign he's not going to run. It's June and we've got a lot of time before November. We also have a lot of candidates: ten. So many that my sources tell me 100 Black Men almost made a mistake in not inviting all of them.

At first, 100 Black Men extended invitations to three Oakland Mayor's Race participants: Don Perata and Oakland Councilmembers Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan. But the other candidates got wind of the event and literally raised hell, threatening to crash the party and present their displeasure at being excluded. 100 Black Men sent an new emailed invite, giving the candidates one day to respond. Each did.

As reported here before, The full list of Oakland Mayor's Race candidates consists of incumbent Ron Dellums, Don Perata, Don MacLeay, Jean Quan, Greg Harland, Maya Dillard Smith, Terrance Candell, and an tenth person who's still not ready for prime time, but will be. Eight of the ten will be at the 100 Black Men event. But what's 100 Black Men?

100 Black Men of The Bay Area is a great organization that holds events and fundraisers that cause the Bay Area's black business and political officials to gather and help African American youth by providing scholarships and mentoring. 100 Black Men is a membership organization that's open to everyone who wants to help, regardless of color or sex.

See you on June 10th.

Chevron Ecuador - NY Times Bob Hebert's failed column

It's funny how a person can be coaxed into wading into a very complicated issue without knowing all of the facts. That's what happened when The New York Times' Columnist Bob Herbert wrote a grossly inaccurate column about Chervron's involvement in Ecuador.

The BP Oil Spill, a totally awful event that British Petroleum should pay the damages for, has opened the floodgates for a torrent of rhetoric on the part of people who just want to point a finger, but not know the truth.

In this case, while this blogger can't make that claim against Bob Herbert, it's clear the NY Times columnist was manipulated into telling a horrible caricature of the truth behind the Chevron Ecuador environmental damage issue. A truth that leaves Ecuador itself untouched.

To put it simply, in talking and listening to the side suing Chevron -- which claims to represent the "indigeous tribes" of Ecuador, but really is representing the Government of Ecuador as well as their own desire to become billionaires...

-- and not doing a bit of independent research, let alone listening to the other side (he talked to them), Bob Hebert made the following errors:

Texaco came barreling into this delicate ancient landscape in the early 1960s with all the subtlety and grace of an invading army. And when it left in 1992, it left behind, according to the lawsuit, widespread toxic contamination that devastated the livelihoods and traditions of the local people, and took a severe toll on their physical well-being.

Wrong Bob Hebert. The first error was in just reading the lawsuit without using the Internet to research the case. The fact is Texaco turned over control of the oil wells to the Ecuador-owned oil company called PetroEcuador in 1992. Chevron noted that it did clean up the land it used in 1992, but this is 2010, and the land's still being used for oil production and not by Chevron.

The undercapitalized PetroEcuador, clearly in over its head, has caused massive oil spills and explosions in the Amazon region between 1992 and today, (and mentioned before in this space). Moreover oil companies from Canada and Europe have produced oil and caused damage too, but you don't see a thing about that unless you read this space or do research.

That set of facts alone is enough to discredit Hebert's article because at no point in it does he mention PetroEcuador's activity or for that matter any other oil company. Sloppy. From Hebert's take, you'd think there was no oil exploration or production in the Amazon after 1992. How not true.

Look, Bob's taking a side, and that's cool, but Hebert doesn't know what he's writing about, that's the problem.

Bob failed to mention how Ecuador President Rafael Correa himself has worked to kick out American oil companies and nationalize oil production. Hebert failed to mention how Correa allowed Brazil to product oil in the Amazon region for compensation. Bob Hebert failed to note the 118 oil spills that have happened in the Amazon region since 1992, and some claim its even more than that.

What was Bob doing when he wrote the column?

The point is the real organization that should be sued, and has not been, is the Government of Ecuador itself, which takes petro-dollars and fails to get them to the poorest citizens. Meanwhile Ecuador and American lawyer Steve Donziger have done a good job in fooling college students into forgetting that Ecuador too has a massive responsibility to its poor that it's failed to take on.

Ecuador is responsible for the damaged Amazon, not American oil companies. Bob should rewrite his column. He's got a right to his view and I defend that. Just get it right.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg helped Kamela Harris in CA AG Race... sort of

Mark Z busts-out Chris Kelly
Smarting from his former lawyer Chris Kelly's attempt to throw Facebook under the bus as he runs for the California Attorney General seat currently held by Jerry Brown, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported a "maybe" in response to a Facebook page to help make calls for Kelly's opponent San Francisco District Attorney Kamela Harris on Sunday, according to The LA Times.

No word if Zuckerberg actually showed up on Sunday, but the simple action of responding to the Facebook page may be enough to knock Chris Kelly off his campaign game with just one day to go before the Tuesday June 8th primary election. In short, Mark Zuckerberg helped Kamela Harris.

Frankly, what Chris Kelly did, saying that he sides with in fighting Facebook's privacy policy, after serving as the Facebook lawyer who made the original one that itself wasn't so popular, is too little, too late.

If Chris Kelly so disagreed with Facebook on the privacy policy issue, he should have not waited until five days before election day to say so; he's had a ton of time to do this, and could have added his voice to that of tech stars like Jason Calacanis last year.

Instead, Chris Kelly's campaign is being torpedoed by this great Kamela Harris ad:

In the interest of full disclosure, this blogger will vote for Kamela Harris for California Attorney General.

San Francisco's Union Street needs more businesses, not less

The spaces available on Union Street
The 2010 San Francisco Union Street Festival is history and while it was an overall success, the crowds Sunday were less than in the past and once the tents were folded and the people went home, the empty store fronts were on display once again.

To be sure, new and great restaurants like the home-away-from-home eatery called The Brick Yard at 1787 Union St (at Octavia), and replacing The Bayside Bar and Grill at a space that sat empty for two years, and the upcoming "Unwind" just down the street, promise a brighter future for Union Street, the way still has a long trek to make to recover its past luster.

There are over 20 spaces for lease along Union Street as of this writing, and overall it looks like a ghost town almost totally devoid of the vibrant street scene that once attracted thousands of people. Union Street lacks a book store and a movie house. The Apple Store was not aggressively pursued by the neighbor association; it's on Chestnut Street just four blocks away.  (In fact, I was told they didn't want The Apple Store on Union Street.  That was a bone-headed error.)

In fact Chestnut Street has what Union Street once had and I described it needs. In this still weak Bay Area spending economy, the success of Union Street and Chestnut Street has become a zero-sum game: someone wins and and someone loses. Chestnut is winning over Union Street.

What's the problem? Rather than teaming up with Chestnut and marketing as one, the Union Street minders have elected to go it alone - not that they've approached the Marina Merchants Association, but it would be a good idea.

Why" Joint marketing. With the development of Oakland's Restaurant industry, there's less reason for anyone to go from Oakland and the East Bay to San Francisco without a joint marketing effort.

And an aggressive one.

The other alternative is for the Union Street Merchants to form their own association. That may be the best way to go. But the new group must move to get going. One great start for any Union Street effort is the Facebook page Save Union Street, that has 519 people who "like" it so far. Check it out.

Whatever the case, Union Street needs more businesses. Now.

Sandra Bullock kiss of Scarlett Johansson means no Oscar for Sca-Jo?

Sandra Bullock's kiss of Iron Man 2's Scarlett Johansson has most thinking of her kiss of Meryl Streep in January at The Critics Choice Awards.

But Vanity Fair's Julian Sancton says such a kiss from Bullock is the kiss of death for Scarlett Johansson's Oscar chances. Sancton compares Bullock's kiss to The Godfather's Michael Corleone kissing his brother Fredo before having him murdered in The Godfather, Part 2.

(Oh, and a note on "Sca-Jo", I know someone created the unfortunate term "Scar-Jo" but having not yet met Scarlett Johansson, it's a fair bet having a rapper nickname that reminds someone of a scar is not something she wants. Thus, the dropping of the "r".)

The Vanity Fair blogger then asserts that because Meryl Streep then failed to beat Bullock for Best Actress at the 2010 Academy Awards, and Bullock kissed her before the Oscars, Scarlett Johansson then will not win an Oscar.

Actually, it could be said that while Sandra Bullock's kiss may not mean an Oscar win, it could be the precursor to an Academy Awards nomination. So, this space confidently states that Scarlett Johansson will be at least nominated for Best Actress within the next three years because Sandra Bullock kissed her on Sunday.

Stay tuned for that one!

Apple iPhone 4 operating system causes AdMob problem

The Steve Jobs, San Francisco introduction of the Apple iPhone 4 also causes problems for AdMob, the San Mateo-based maker of mobile ads for devices like the iPhone 4. AdMob was just purchased by Google for $750 million in stock.

According to an interview with TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld on Monday, in New York City for "Internet Week", AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui, said that the new Apple iPhone 4.0 Operating System has a licensing restriction such that phone data can't be sent to third party providers. It's a policy that Omar Hamoui says could be "potentially devastating" to AdMob's iPhone business.

The only good news, so far, is that Apple hasn't enforced the new policy. Hamoui told Erick Schonfeld that "It is not good for developers to have only one choice. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it even benefits them. They should want developers to make more money. Having more advertising providers is better than having less."

Hamoui told TechCrunch that 30 to 40 percent of iPhone AdMob ads are actually cross-promiting other apps, and that's why Apple wants to have and control that market using the new iAds system.

Sandra Bullock kisses Scarlett Johansson at MTV movie awards

Also: sandra bullock, scarlett johansson, scarlett johansson and sandra bullock, ryan reynolds, the proposal, jesse james, bullock baby louis,, mtv movie awards

Fresh from a long period out of the public eye, actress Sandra Bullock has come back, with what can only be called a "bang" or more appropriately, a big Rolling Stones style pair of lips. One day after her first public appearance in Hollywood at the Spike TV Guys Choice Awards (and to accept the Troops Choice Award), Oscar-Award-Winning Actress Sandra Bullock kissed Scarlett Johansson at the MTV movie awards Sunday night. This blogger's first thought was "is Sandra Bullock coming out now that her divorce from husband Jesse James is in the works?

First, one can't question Bullock's choice of woman to kiss with as Scarlett Johansson, currently playing the Black Widow in Iron Man 2, is one of Hollywood's hottest stars in more ways than one. But what was Bullock really saying, apart from the obvious possibility that the MTV Movie Awards has established itself as a newsmaking event?

Speculation runs. But one things' for sure, Betty White doesn't want to mimic the Bullock Johansson kiss "to each his own," Betty White said when MTV asked for her opinion.

Really, the kiss wasn't all that hot; again, it seemed more the product of a PR meeting:

Internet buzz-generation aside, it's hard to believe Sandra Bullock has crammed so much activity into the year 2010, and we're just at the halfway point of the year. It started with Sandra's amazing Oscar-win for Best Actress in A Leading Role for The Blind Side, then just two weeks later, it was revealed that Bullock's husband Jesse James had affairs with not one, but as many as four and possibly five women.

The most intriguing of them was Michelle "Bombshell" McGee, who's flirtation with White Supremacist symbolism spilled over on to Jesse James reputation, causing many to wonder if he too was a White Supremacist.

When first reported the rumor that James was the subject of a "Nazi photo," then the picture was shown, some wondered if Bullock herself had such ideas (forgetting that her friend Forest Whitaker, who's black, introduced her for Best Actress at the Academy Awards).

But all of those views were dumped when Bullock announced she adopted an beautiful African American baby named Louis Bullock, and started the process four years ago, with Jesse James.

But then, just as it seemed the couple might get back together, Bullock filed for divorce as James was undergoing rehab for sex addiction in Arizona.

Not seen in public since the Academy Awards in March, it's now June and Bullock's come out of hiding in more ways than one. Even if she was mimicking Meryl Streep, her passionate kiss with Scarlett Johansson shows how much Bullock's life has changed since Oscar night.

Stay tuned.

Apple iPhone4 is sadly still an AT&T-only; is EVO better?

Apple's new iPhone4 was released today in San Francisco and it has exciting features, like HD video and video calling. But the one thing it does not have, is the most anticipated one thing: service from a carrier other than AT&T, like Verizon. That news alone has some going for, or sticking with, their Sprint HTC EVO, even after the iPhone4 San Francisco introduction.

AT&T's service is terrible, particularly it's auto-billing system. As I blogged before, in 2008, AT&T mistakenly put $1,033.36 on my iPhone bill each month, causing me to file a dispute claim with American Express. Thus, the $1,033.36 was sent back to AT&T.

On a conference call early in 2009, the rep AT&T admitted to the American Express rep that the charge was an error and should not be counted. In fact, that was the fourth time an AT&T rep admitted the error. The AT&T billing system system was sending out that same amount each month. Then, four months later, another group of AT&T people said the charge wasn't wrong and stopped reversing it.

In other words, those evil AT&T people were arguing for the right to charge $1,033.36 on my account each month. Seriously.

In total, I talked to about 10 different AT&T reps over the course of the history of the dispute. It was exhausting!

So, seeing I was not going to get any relief, I told AT&T they should take their contract and shove it. Unfortunately, I had to stop using my iPhone.  I thought about jail-breaking it myself, tried to do it myself, and failed.  Lame.

At first, I switched to a Blackberry, which was OK, except that it made "robo-calls" far too much to be tolerable. Now, I use a T-Mobile G-1, and while it's not quite an iPhone, it has just enough features to make me happy.

All the while, I was waiting for Apple to essentially unlock the iPhone, or get it out of AT&T jail. Steve Jobs was expected to make an announcement that haters of AT&T could come back home to iPhone because it was on the Verizon network, but that did not happen.

That's sad.

Why Apple and Steve Jobs have invested so much in a singular relationship with a company as awful as AT&T boggles the mind. But here we are.

Is Spring HTC EVO better?

ZDNet's buzzing about the Spring HTC EVO phone.  In fact, the new version of the Google android phone was the hit of TechCrunch Disrupt New York City.   Reportedly, it has so many features that it favorably compares to the iPhone 4, but ZDNet's Matt Miller ended his article by stating that Apple's best move is to offer other carriers than just AT&T.

Steve Jobs, iPhone users hate AT&T, and so do potential iPhone users.  Unless you don't mind losing fans, get the iPhone out of the AT&T jail, before it's too late.