Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Therapies Could Revolutionize HIV Treatment

This article in the MIT Technology Review journal outlines a novel new treatment for HIV that not only shows great promise, it could revolutionize how not only HIV is treated, but also how a wide range of infections that could respond to genetic therapies.


Technology Review: Blogs: TR Editors' blog: Scientists Engineer Stem Cells to Fight HIV


Jon Beaupre's Publish2 Profile:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Where Have all the Glaciers Gone?

In the fall of 2009, I had the great pleasure of participating in a reporting trip to Peru with my much admired colleague Claes Andreasson, to cover a number of powerful and moving stories connected with environmental change in that amazing country. Over the course of two weeks, we recorded 30 interviews, 24 hours of audio, 16 hours of video, and close to 700 photos. For me, the trip was as much a luxury escape from Los Angeles, school, and the weekly drill of my life. The circumstances weren't luxurious, but getting away was. For Claes, this trip shows how he earns his bread and butter. There were so many stories that we followed, but I am only posting this one video as an overview of what we accomplished.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What do you put in the bird-cage?

Elizabeth Churchill's carefully reasoned take on the future of news is as much a nostalgic reminiscence of a medium that is fading. It's not simply a 'woe-is-me' take however, but an insightful analysis of the current media environoment.
interactions magazine

Saturday, August 22, 2009

William Vollman's Brand of Imperialism

William Volman

William T. Vollman is consistently one of California's most provocative and prolific writers. His 'novels' are set in as disparate locales as the mountains of Afghanistan, Soviet era Berlin, and colonial Jamestown Virginia. His latest work takes on the Imperial valley of extreme south eastern California. This is the New York Times preview of the book.

I'll have more to say about Vollman a bit later, when I have some time to write...


William T. Vollmann, an Author Without Borders -


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Legislation to Increase Accountability for University Foundations & Auxiliaries Passes Key Committee

Legislation to Increase Transparency & Accountability in
University Foundations & Auxiliaries Passes Key Committee
Senate Bill (SB) 218 comes in response to financial scandals involving foundations in the already cash-strapped state university system

Legislation to make the spending practices of California State University subsidiary organizations and foundations more transparent was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 218 – authored by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) – updates the California Public Records Act to include campus and statewide
auxiliary organizations at CSU, University of California and California Community Colleges. The bill – which is co-sponsored by CFA and the California Newspaper Publishers Association – was passed unanimously by the committee with just one abstention.

“Placing state college and university auxiliaries under the authority of the public records act will safeguard the use of taxpayer funds and provide much needed accountability and oversight to state policymakers,” said CFA President Lillian Taiz, a professor of History at CSU Los Angeles. At the CSU alone, these auxiliaries manage more than a billion dollars with little or no public oversight.

As legally separate tax-exempt entities, they are not currently covered by the California Public Records Act, even though the universities that form these subsidiaries are. According to data from the CSU Chancellor’s Office, 20% of the CSU’s $6.7 billion budget is funded by these auxiliaries and foundations.

“This legislation will enable us to pull back the curtains that hide these foundations and ensure that taxpayer dollars for our public universities are used as they were intended and not for the pet projects and slush funds of campus administrators,” said Taiz.

The bill must now be voted on by the full Assembly, perhaps as early as next week. The bill previously passed the state Senate by a margin of 35-1 and has received zero no-votes thus far in the Assembly.

Earlier this year, a campus foundation at Sonoma State University was found to have used donated funds to provide huge personal loans to a former foundation board member. Some of this money may never be recovered. This money was intended to fund scholarships for qualified students.

There are currently 87 CSU-related non-profit auxiliary organizations connected with the 23 CSU campuses and/or the CSU Chancellor’s Office. CSU auxiliaries often operate campus bookstores, concessions and student unions, manage foundations to benefit students, and operate campus parking facilities, to name a few of their functions.

Many newspaper editorial boards from across the state have come out in support of SB 218, including the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee and the Riverside Press Enterprise.

NB: On Oct. 11 of this year, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, which had passed both houses of the state legislature with seemingly overwhelming support. One can only imagine that the UC and CSU systems together brought to bear considerable pressure on a governor who would not benefit much by passage of this bill. Needless to say, the veto was a great disappointment to advocates for an open and transparent operation of the state's two higher education pillars.

Gay Marriage and Women in the Military

While I disagree with many of his conclusions, this commentary on the changing roles of sex and gender is consistently provocative and a challenging analysis, by one of Colombia's most compelling commentators.


Hombres casados y mujeres generales | ELESPECTADOR.COM


(Very) Strange Bedfellows

This is a fascinating story of how conservative icon Ted Olsen has taken up the cause of Gay Marriage. That's right, in SUPPORT OF, not opposed...compelling article in the NY Times


Ted Olson's Supreme Court Adventure - Room for Debate Blog -


Dems Give Up and Semblance of Bipartisanism

Health Care Legislation

In its typical fashion, the New York Times analysis of upcoming health care legislation is concise, accurate and reliable. If you don't have an interest in public policy, this might be considered boring, but for wonks like me, this is a good meal...


Democrats Seem Set to Go It Alone on a Health Bill -


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Novel Economic Stimulus Package

Her name was Shannon, and she was the tallest, most beautiful woman I think I had ever seen in all of my 18 or so years. It had never occurred to me that I would find myself in the lobby of Joe Conforte’s Mustang Ranch, selecting a woman from the line up the same way you chose sides for softball. Frankly, I didn’t know what would happen, but at 18, the idea of asking for and getting sex seemed miraculous. My close buddy Jim had “connections” which meant more or less that with the little piece of cardboard, printed with some numbers on it, would equal someone putting her hands all over my body. But that’s the way it worked. Jim had selected a tall red head, as I recall, and Shannon threaded her way through the maze of rooms to her tiny, windowless space. She looked at the card Jim had given me, and said, “OK, just a minute…” and left the room with the card. When she came back, we got to work…

Legalized prostitution has been a part of Nevada’s landscape for a long, long time. While there were notorious red light districts in the gold and silver rush ghost towns of old Nevada, there was perhaps no more famous purveyor of sex than Joe Conforte. The millions of dollars he made from the world famous Mustang Ranch was paid out in taxes to Storey County, where I grew up in the county seat Virginia City. He was written about widely, including a couple of notable articles in Rolling Stone, Look Magazine, and The Boston Globe.

But by the 1990s, Conforte had managed to burn a lot of bridges, and was accused of not only bribing any number of county officials, but also of underpaying his taxes by millions of dollars. He did what any self-respecting pimp would do: he got his money out of the country and moved to Brazil. You should check out his story: Google Joe Conforte and Mustang Ranch.

Prostitution poses some fundamental questions about life. It is at once the greatest betrayal of innocence and the most pragmatic business available. Most sensible people know better than trying to legislate morality, but remain uncomfortable with the issue of sex for money. It’s a hypocritical position – even for me – on one hand to condemn the idea of prostitution, while justifying the capitalistic egalitarianism of it all on the other. Oh, and possibly engaging in the commerce as well.

I even have one friend who believe that it is Johns who are being exploited. They are, reasons my friend, paying for what might under other circumstances be given for free.

Joe Conforte

In any case, since its legalization in Storey County in 1971 (my visit would have been in 1972 or so), the ‘cat houses’ as locals call them, have been limited to rural counties of the state, an not allowed from the bustling gaming metropolises of Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe. Those same (hypocritical) civic leaders felt legalized prostitution in those big casino areas would discourage families from visiting. This led to some of the biggest and best known brothels being located within a 30 mile radius of those big gaming centers.

The economic downturn has caused some of these communities to reconsider that reality, as you can see in this Neal Karlinsky portrait of brothel owner Dennis Hoff on ABC Nightline, Feb. 5, 2009. The 6:40 video even features a brief sequence shot in my home town of Virginia City.