A mysterious nonprofit made millions suing companies to put California cancer warnings on coffee

The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) is a nonprofit that kicked off its mysterious existence by filing a string of lawsuits against restaurant chains and coffee roasters for not posting California Proposition 65 notices (the notices are mandatory warnings about the presence of "chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and reproductive toxicity") despite the disputed science behind their demands. Read the rest

Emails show Berkeley police celebrated 'retweets' & 'engagements' from protester mugshots cops posted on social media

Internal emails show that the Berkeley, California Police Department (BPD) talked of building a “counter-narrative” on social media against anti-fascist protesters as BPD tweeted out their names and mugshots, then boasted of retweets and “engagement” metrics when mugshots went viral. This amounts to cops doxxing protesters and high-fiving each other over it. That's creepy, and seems like an obvious abuse of power, if not also an abuse of the law. Read the rest

A squirrel named Furry Boi wins UC Berkeley student senate seat

This is nuts: A squirrel named "Furry Boi" has won a student government election at UC Berkeley. On April 13, he was elected for one of the 20 seats in the Associated Students of the University of California Senate.

His campaign platform? According to the LA Times, a "safe spaces for squirrels, better access to acorns and support groups for those experiencing habitat loss."

Sophomore Stephen Boyle of Stockton, California created the candidate as a joke but students soon backed the small mammal. Boyle, who has started wearing a squirrel suit, plans to take the seat.

On April 16, he wrote on the Furry Boi Facebook page:

I want to say thank you to all of the people who have helped me get elected. I could not have become a senator-elect without all of you. Whether a conversation on sproul, a speech I gave at your said organization, or just the fact my name was Furry Boi on the ballot and am a “squirrel,” every vote I received from you all allowed me to be one of eight candidates to hit quota. I know many of you voted for me because I made it so it was sort of click bait. The name is funny. It engenders the question of whether I am actually a furry or not and makes you wonder whether I bought my dope ass squirrel suit from Amazon for personal or political reasons. Now I will let you extrapolate answers to those potential questions yourselves, but the question I will answer is this one: “What will you even do as senator?”...

Read the rest

UC Berkeley chancellor installs office "escape door" as security measure against protesters

UC Berkeley, birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, installed an emergency exit door between Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ office and his conference room so he can escape if protestors violently storm his suite. From the Daily Californian:

Construction of the door was requested about a year ago in response to a protest in April 2015 when protesters stormed the chancellor’s suite (photo above).

During the protest, students staged a sit-in outside Dirks’ office where they banged on desks and chanted loudly. They were eventually escorted out of the building, some in handcuffs, by UCPD officers.

Later that day, protesters marched from Sproul Hall to the area in front of University House, the chancellor’s residence.

ASUC Senator-elect Chris Yamas said there have been many protests on campus throughout the tenure of several different chancellors, but no instances when a chancellor was physically harmed.

“There has to be other ways to handle student concerns and protests than simply building ways to avoid them,” Yamas said. “The chancellor seems elitist and out of touch and inaccessible to the students.”

Read the rest

Astronomer, NASA advisor, and serial sexual harasser Geoff Marcy to resign from UC Berkeley

Geoff Marcy, a famous and respected American astronomer, has announced his intention to step down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Marcy also works with NASA on the search for extraterrestrial life, via the NASA Kepler Mission.

Buzzfeed first broke today's news of Marcy's plans to step aside. It is the first real fallout he's facing from sexual harassment claims that the reported victims say were ignored for years.

Why would those claims be ignored by UC Berkeley? Because Marcy is kind of a big deal in the field of astronomy, and his name meant money for the struggling California academic institution. Read the rest

The secret spotted hyenas of UC Berkeley

I found out about the colony in a roundabout way. There wasn't a press release announcing its inception, nor were there any articles advertising its whereabouts. Read the rest

UC Berkeley police give "Beat Poets" new meaning: poet laureate Robert Hass on his violent encounter

University of California, Berkeley poetry professor and former US poet laureate Robert Hass writes in the New York Times, on what transpired when he wandered down to the Occupy with his wife, to see for himself if reports of police brutality against student protesters were really true:

[UC Berkeley] is also the place where students almost 50 years ago touched off the Free Speech Movement, which transformed the life of American universities by guaranteeing students freedom of speech and self-governance. The steps are named for Mario Savio, the eloquent undergraduate student who was the symbolic face of the movement. There is even a Free Speech Movement Cafe on campus where some of Mr. Savio’s words are prominently displayed: “There is a time ... when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part.” 

Earlier that day a colleague had written to say that the campus police had moved in to take down the Occupy tents and that students had been “beaten viciously.” I didn’t believe it. In broad daylight? And without provocation? So when we heard that the police had returned, my wife, Brenda Hillman, and I hurried to the campus. I wanted to see what was going to happen and how the police behaved, and how the students behaved. If there was trouble, we wanted to be there to do what we could to protect the students.

Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd.

Read the rest