Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Limiting Dissent

"The Organization of American Historians, the foremost scholarly organization for the study of American history, has been looking into charges of widespread harassment and repression in our institutions of higher education as a result of the government’s attempt to stifle dissent. And their findings are disturbing. . . .
According to the committee’s report, foreign students who are not enrolled full time are subject to arrest and deportation: 'In California at least, some of those students have simply disappeared. Privacy rules block any attempt by their teachers or friends to investigate what happened to them.'"


Cool Science Resources

Contained within this opinion piece on teaching science are a selected list of free and fee-based online resources. I thought that some of them might prove useful on the Reference Desk.


Dismayed About Salinas Libraries

"A new instructor at Hartnell College came to the United States as a 5-year-old refugee from Cambodia. . . .
Moth got her start in astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a bachelor's degree, but her interest in learning began much earlier.
'My family is very supportive," she said. "When we would go to the library, we could get as many books as we wanted. But our father told us we must check out at least three non-fiction books.'
Moth always chose books about space. She said she's dismayed by the prospect of closing libraries in Salinas.
'I think libraries are very important,' she said. 'That's what helped me get where I am. I think closing libraries is the worst thing you can do. It's restricting access to knowledge.'"


San Diego Surfer Update

"Attorneys for three voters will ask a federal judge today to issue a preliminary injunction stopping the Registrar of Voters from certifying the votes in the San Diego mayor's race.
Attorneys for Shan L. McDonald, Jerri Walters and Jennifer Cassidy argue in a lawsuit that the results of the mayor's race should not be certified because city officials conducted an unlawful election by allowing Donna Frye's write- in candidacy. . . .
Frye has not decided whether to challenge Murphy's win in the mayoral race. The registrar did not count an unknown number of ballots with her name written-in, but without a bubble shaded in next to her name. Her supporters believe the uncounted votes would put her ahead of Murphy.
On Nov. 16, Gonzalez refused to issue a restraining order to stop the certification process but agreed to hear more arguments on the matter.
Over the past two weeks, two retired judges have rejected two lawsuits filed in San Diego Superior Court -- one asking to stop the vote count and one asking that all write-in votes be counted, even ones in which the "oval" next to the write-in's name was not filled in."


Five Local Libraries Get Grants

"Among the 12 statewide winners were the Ingleside and Richmond branches in San Francisco, the Castro Valley Library, the Lafayette Library and Learning Center and the 81st Avenue Branch Library in Oakland.
Losers included Antioch and Walnut Creek, a city that staked its civic future on the project. . . .
The biggest award went to Castro Valley, which will use the nearly $14 million grant to improve its library, which Assemblywoman Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, said has only one restroom and nowhere to park. It was the third application for by grant by the community, which backers stressed is close to BART and other transit systems. Supporters brought 3,000 signatures of support and 600 letters to show to the state board. . . .
It was the last cycle of grants of the $350 million bond that California voters passed in 2000. Under the library bond act, the state pays for 65 percent of the project, while the city, county or library district pays the rest. . . .
In 2006, Californians will vote on another bond measure that would give an additional $600 million to the Office of Library Construction. As much as $300 million could be awarded quickly to projects that were not funded Monday."


More Regarding Salinas

"A community group concerned about having a safe place for kids to go after school urged short-term solutions to keep the libraries open at a City Council subcommittee meeting Monday.
The group's approach contrasts with that of Friends of the Salinas Public Library, which is focusing on finding long-term funding for the libraries.
About 30 people attended the subcommittee's meeting, which has the aim of saving the city's three library branches, scheduled to close between January and June."


Salinas Update

"In the wake of two ballot-measure failures that virtually ensured the closing of all three public libraries in Salinas, California, the city council voted November 16 to assign a special subcommittee to explore its options. The group has scheduled its first meeting for late in the afternoon of November 19, the Salinas Californian reported." Private funding might save one branch, but the outlook is poor.
"In a November 18 statement, American Library Association President Carol Brey-Casiano called national attention to the situation in Salinas and Buffalo, New York, where a severely slashed budget may force the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library to close all its facilities. 'Your ability to get information shouldn’t depend on your ability to pay for it,' she said. 'Free access to the books, ideas, resources, and information in America’s libraries is imperative for education, employment, enjoyment, and self-government. While the ALA has tracked library funding cuts in more than 40 states, this is the first I’ve heard of residents losing all access to public library services.'"


Palo Alto May Close Branch Libraries

"Palo Alto Library Director Paula Simpson's plan to close small libraries in favor of operating one central branch will face an uphill battle for approval, if Monday night's City Council meeting is any indication. . . .
During the meeting, Simpson also laid out a series of other options, including a proposal to pass a parcel tax to increase library funding to adequately staff all existing libraries. Next year alone that would cost $850,000, she noted.
But the option that's gotten the most attention was a proposal to build one central library, probably near California Avenue. The reason the library director supports that plan is that by staffing numerous libraries, and filling them with duplicate copies of books and magazines, the city is not getting the most bang for its buck."


Funding Update

"In California, several communities were able to gain the two-thirds approval for library funding. The extension/renewal of parcel taxes was approved in Altadena (77.26 percent), Blanchard/Santa Paula Library District (71.8 percent), Fresno County (71 percent), San Jose (66.92 percent), and Sacramento (72.38 percent). Berkeley's electorate rejected an amendment to the city's formula for library funding that would have raised the average cost per household to approximately $292. Support was at 50.5 percent. In the city of Martinez, a $30 million bond for improvements, including the renovation of its library, was rejected--only 60.6 percent approved the measure."

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