So here's poor Berkeley mayor Tom Bates, having stepped in a pile of something nasty when he glibly denounced the Marines in a City Council proclamation, trying to make nice with the city's merchants yesterday. Facing a flood of angry threats to boycott the city, Berkeley's Chamber of Commerce publicly called on the council to apologize for its pointless gesture, and tensions between local businesses and the mayor's office shot to a level not seen since the days of "Galloping Gus" Newport. But as the San Jose Mercury News reports, Bates showed up at a Chamber luncheon, where he repeated his numerous mea culpas for dubbing the Marines "unwelcome intruders." Citing the new Berkeley Bowl, Bates promised everyone that he'll do everything he can to promote retail in the city. Which is why he can't be too happy about the rowdy demos outside the Marines' office that are scheduled for this afternoon.Over at the local indymedia web site, the anti-war group World Can't Wait has announced a protest outside the downtown office at 12:30. "We are saying: NO, the recruiters don't have a 'right' to be there," the announcement reads. "NO, they aren't entitled to 'free speech.' Their free speech is lies and it kills people. Their 'right' to be there is in conflict with the right of Iraqis and Afghanis to live. And, NO, we don't "support the troops." The troops are killing and torturing for the empire."