It can't be easy, being a conservative think tank in the heart of famously liberal San Francisco. Consider, for example, the dilemma of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, which would no doubt like publicity for its major fund-raiser on Nov. 9, but whose featured speaker, Dr. Henry Kissinger, is a lightning rod for leftist ire. The nonprofit institute, which promotes the "free market" and "personal responsibility and less government," is paying Kissinger an undisclosed sum to speak about his new book, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Tickets for the dinner dance at the Fairmont Hotel start at $250 and rise to $25,000.
The institute is understandably reluctant to flaunt its affiliation with "Dr. K," who served as national security adviser and secretary of state to President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. Kissinger was also the subject of a recent book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, by Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens, who argued that Kissinger should be tried for war crimes he allegedly committed in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Timor, Chile, Cyprus, and Washington, D.C. The institute has been so low-key about the black-tie affair that the only advertising for it has been an insert in the Nob Hill Gazette, a high-society news sheet. A spokeswoman for the PRI told SF Weekly that the press is not welcome at the event because "there are security concerns" and "the dinner is not a cattle call open to the whole world."
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been flooded with inquiries over the past week from biotech firms interested in its anthrax detection technology, which has yet to attract a buyer even though it could potentially be employed in smoke detector-like devices.
The sudden spike in interest follows last week's SF Weekly story ("The Anthrax Detector No One Wants," Bay View) that detailed how researchers at the laboratory in 1997 discovered a DNA marker unique to Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, that could enable sensors to pick out any strain of the spore. But the politics of anti-bioterrorism research and a squabble over funding rights diverted attention from the technology, which has languished for two years on the Berkeley laboratory's roster of available patents.
"Nobody's negotiated or anything like that, but we've gotten about 20 calls in the last couple of days," says Lynn Yarris, a lab spokesperson. "They haven't talked price yet, so I have no idea how high it would go for."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian has been around for years, but how many people actually read it? We admit we may ask that question more than the average San Franciscan, but now the answer may be harder to tell than ever. On Sept. 26, the Guardian resigned its membership in the Audit Bureau of Circulations. ABC is the leading agency for verifying the circulation of publications in the United States. Its members usually print the tiny ABC logo inside their publications to show advertisers that the publisher's circulation claims are true. Bruce B. Brugmann, editor and publisher of the Guardian, says he has decided to do verification audits every other year instead of annually.
Could the unusual move spell trouble for the Guardian? Crisa Mitrou, print media planner for the San Francisco office of Grey Worldwide, the sixth-largest advertising agency in the world, says the ABC imprimatur is "definitely important. It justifies the strength of the newspaper's circulation claims. Unaudited publications could be forced to lower their advertising rates."