The Public Eye: The Challenges Ahead for President Obama

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:21:00 PM

During his first 100 days in office, President Obama faces daunting problems, including a deteriorating economy and two wars. On May 1, how can we tell whether he is doing a good job, given that Bush set the bar so low? -more-

UnderCurrents: Reporting on Dellums Often Clouded by Conclusions Already Drawn

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:22:00 PM

Some years ago, I was part of a team asked by a progressive American organization to do a brief study of anti-black racism in the country of Cuba while we were there working on another project. During our tour of the country for about six weeks, we conducted interviews (as much as we could do with our limited Spanish) and made observations. While almost every Afro-Cuban we spoke with felt they were doing better economically since the 1959 Revolution, there were deep remnants of racism that Cubans seemed to neither acknowledge or even recognize. The country’s various beauty pageants, for example, all featured exclusively women of fair skin and European features and hair; women of visible African descent were not considered standards of “beauty.” And at one of the nation’s insane asylums—a system the Cubans are particularly proud of—the patients put on a minstrel show for the visitors, complete with blackface and buck-and-wing dancing. Our hosts could not understand why the African-American portion of the contingent was aghast. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Do Burrowing Owls Bait for Beetles?

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:27:00 PM
Burrowing owl near Niland, Imperial County

Last weekend I checked in on the burrowing owls at Cesar Chavez Park. Their winter habitat at the park’s northeastern corner has been surrounded by orange temporary fencing—a good idea, given the volume of foot, bicycle, and dog traffic. At least one owl was visible, standing quietly among the scurrying California ground squirrels, swiveling its head back and forth. (Park visitors can’t resist feeding the squirrels; the owl area is littered with peanut shells.) -more-

East Bay Then and Now: Berkeleyan Torrey Owned Duchamp’s Most Famous Painting

By Daniella Thompson
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:30:00 PM
The International House and Memorial Stadium figure in the sweeping vista commanded from the Torrey house.

He was only one of three partners, and the last of them to join the San Francisco firm of Vickery, Atkins & Torrey, purveyors of paintings in oil and water color, fine prints, objects of art, and picture frames. -more-

Local House is Precursor to Pre-Fab Age

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:29:00 PM

On Jan. 30 in the Daily Planet, columnist Matt Cantor wrote thoughtfully about the past and potential of prefabricated dwellings. Although most of Berkeley is “custom made,” as Cantor noted, pre-fabricated structures can have a place here. -more-

About the House: The Hidden Chimney

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:28:00 PM

A lot of us live in wonderful old homes built in the days before modern furnaces, metal flues and self-venting stoves. These are houses built before 1935 that contain—among their many other dated and cherished facets—brick flues which have nothing whatsoever to do with fireplaces. Brick flues that are sure to crumble or crash when that much lauded earthquake finally makes its, somewhat overdue, appearance here in the East Bay. -more-