The Week

Judy Davis, above, overlooks a 35-piece nativity scene created by Ester Cajero of the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, one of her 250 crèches on display at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church this weekend.
Michael Howerton
Judy Davis, above, overlooks a 35-piece nativity scene created by Ester Cajero of the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, one of her 250 crèches on display at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church this weekend.


No Charges Yet Against UC Protesters

Bay City News
Monday December 14, 2009 - 03:54:00 PM

Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Marty Brown said today that his office is still reviewing evidence against protesters who were arrested in connection with violence at the home of University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau Friday night. -more-

City Council to Reconsider Iceland Landmark Designation at Jan. 19 Hearing

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 10:25:00 AM

Berkeley is getting ready for another landmark brawl. The City Council voted last month to settle a lawsuit filed by the owners of Berkeley Iceland which challenged the building’s landmark status. -more-

City Council to Gauge Soft-Story Ordinance, Pools Ballot Measure and Energy Upgrade Program

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday December 15, 2009 - 10:23:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council is rushing to take care of unfinished business at its Tuesday meeting before breaking for winter recess Dec. 16. -more-

State Approves Expansion of Oakland Enterprise Zone Into West Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 14, 2009 - 02:44:00 PM

The final hurdle for creating enterprise zones in West Berkeley has cleared, paving the way for more than 1,000 local businesses to receive tax credits. -more-

UC Berkeley Alums Detained In Iran Will Stand Trial

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 14, 2009 - 01:27:00 PM

Three UC Berkeley alums detained in Iran since July 31 will stand trial, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, U.S. media reported Monday. -more-

Eight Protesters Arrested After Attack On UC Berkeley Chancellor's House

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Saturday December 12, 2009 - 12:19:00 PM

Eight people were arrested after protesters stormed UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s house on the north side of campus around 11 p.m. Friday, smashing windows, lights and planters. -more-

Flash: Some Wheeler Hall Protesters Released After Arrest

Riya Bhattacharjee and Raymond Barglow
Friday December 11, 2009 - 01:36:00 PM
UC Berkeley Executive Director of Public Affairs Dan Mogulof answers questions from protesters during Friday's noon rally outside California Hall.

Sixty-one of the 66 protesters who were arrested at Wheeler Hall Friday morning are expected to be cited and released from Santa Rita jail by the end of the day, UC Berkeley officials said around 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11. -more-

Flash: UC Police Arrest 66 Protesters at Wheeler Hall

By Riya Bhattacharjee and Raymond Barglow
Friday December 11, 2009 - 12:32:00 PM
UCPD keep watch outside Wheeler Hall. Police are only allowing authorized faculty and staff to enter the building where protesters were arrested today morning.

This morning (Friday) at about 4:30 AM UC police entered Wheeler Hall and began arresting activists who were staying there overnight as part of continuing protests against budget cuts and fee hikes.   -more-

BART Awards $492 Million Oakland Airport Connector Contract

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:07:00 PM

After months of debate, BART’s board of directors joined the Port of Oakland in awarding a contract for the construction of an Oakland Airport connector. -more-

Call for Submissions

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 11:37:00 AM

The Daily Planet invites readers to submit essays, articles, photos, cartoons and poetry for its annual year-end reader contribution issue. Send your submissions to by 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18. -more-

St. Clement’s Hosts Presentation of Nativity Scenes from Around the World

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:08:00 AM

About 250 Nativity crèche scenes from 81 countries will be exhibited at St. Clements Episcopal Church this weekend to benefit the Alameda County Food Bank. -more-

Omnibus Bill’s Stadium Exemption Angers Berkeley Citizens

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:10:00 AM

Some Berkeley city officials and residents are outraged that, despite questions raised by legislative staff in Sacramento, the University of California was able to convince lawmakers to add an amendment exempting Memorial Stadium on the Berkeley campus and other state historic structures from legal restrictions on building across earthquake faults to the state’s Omnibus Bill, which traditionally contains only non-controversial provisions. -more-

City Council Amends Noise Law, Sends Off Coat Hangers to Congress

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:11:00 AM

At its Tuesday meeting, the Berkeley City Council made some amendments to the city’s revised noise ordinance, remanded a city landmark back to the Landmarks Preservation Com-mission and sent off coat hangers to Congress to oppose the controversial Stupak-Pitts Amendment to Health Reform. -more-

UC Berkeley Protesters Return to Wheeler Hall

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:11:00 AM
Protesters took over UC’s Wheeler Hall again this week and unfurled a giant banner from the balcony.

Having barricaded themselves in Wheeler Hall on Nov. 20, on the last day of a three-day strike, UC Berkeley students who oppose cuts to public education in California returned to Wheeler Monday night, Dec. 7. -more-

Instant Runoff Voting Machines Approved for Alameda County

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:12:00 AM

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen approved the use of instant runoff voting equipment in Alameda County Friday, Dec. 4, clearing the way for its use in Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro for the November 2010 elections.  -more-

Court Orders South Berkeley Problem House Boarded Up

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:13:00 AM

Responding to a motion filed by City Attorney Zach Cowan, a judge last week ordered a longtime South Berkeley problem property to be boarded up. -more-

AC Transit to Consider Revised Service Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:14:00 AM

AC Transit’s Board of Directors may vote on whether to reduce bus service by 8.4 percent at its Dec. 16 meeting in the light of a severe budget deficit expected to reach $57 million by June. -more-

Charges Dropped Against Marine Recruitment Center Protester

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM

The Alameda County district attorney’s office Monday dropped charges against anti-war activist Stephanie Tang pertaining to her involvement in demonstrations two years ago outside downtown Berkeley’s Marine Recruitment Center. -more-

Police Looking for Three Shooting Suspects

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM

Berkeley police are still looking for a two suspects in recent shootings. -more-

Longfellow Arts and Music Classes at Risk

By Paul Gackle
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:16:00 AM
The Longfellow Middle School Jazz Band, one of the at-risk classes, rehearses for the Winter Arts Fest.

A hip, jazzed-up version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” blared out of the classroom. Layers of sound—clarinets, saxophone, trombone, piano and drums—harmonized almost perfectly in the familiar Christmas tune. The Longfellow Middle School Jazz Band, a collection of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, was rehearsing for the last time before their big Winter Arts Fest performance tonight (Thursday). They were excited, some a little nervous. But as the kids tuned up for the show, most were completely unaware that it could very well be the band’s final performance. -more-

Berkeley City College Hosts Another Meeting In Opposition to Budget Cuts

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:17:00 AM
BCC Global Studies Program Coordinator Joan Berezin, De Anza instructor and Peralta Community College Trustee Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Galileo High School teacher Kristy Morrison and BCC Multimedia Arts Co-Chair Joe Doyle at Saturday’s meeting at Berkeley City College.

A meeting and lunch were held Saturday at Berkeley City College as a follow-up to an early November meeting at which several hundred representatives of California schools gathered to organize against cutbacks to public education. -more-

BART to Hold Hearing on Police Chief Search

Bay City News
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:18:00 AM

BART Director Carol Ward Allen says the transit agency will hold a public hearing Dec. 17 to get input from the public on the criteria they think should be used in hiring a new police chief. -more-

A Paean for Ruth Stout

By Shirley Barker, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:19:00 AM

There seems to be an epidemic of broken bones at the moment. Consider the following. A slipped on a piece of paper, fractured elbow. B slipped on a tour in southeast Asia, broke hip. C slipped on a bag of onions defrosting on a grocery floor, fractured pelvis. D forgot to keep hydrated, fainted and broke ankle. E—well, you get the picture. Even the New York Times recently reported an incident in a concert, which had to be halted while a tripper was removed by stretcher. Then there are the open heart surgeries for people who have climbed, bicycled (indoors and out), and walked every day for years, everywhere. Could it be that we are exercising too much, not allowing our bodies to recuperate, to do that most un-American activity of all, rest? -more-

News Analysis: The Human Face of Education Budget Cuts

By David Bacon
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:18:00 AM

Los Angeles, CA—Cesar Cota was the first in his family to attend college. -more-

Downtown Berkeley Offers Many Holiday Activities

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:29:00 AM

As more and more people discover that the answer to expensive air fares and high gas prices is staying closer to home, the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) made things easier for Berkeleyans this week by coming up with a list of fun things you could do this holiday season without ever having to leave the city. -more-



Homeless Suffer in Cold Weather

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:23:00 AM

Baby, it’s cold outside! Ask the regulars who spare-change in your neighborhood shopping area (you do know them by name, don’t you?) and you’ll find they are anxious about where they’re going to be able to sleep as the temperature drops. Many of Berkeley’s beggars are comfortable enough “sleeping rough,” as they say in Britain, except in weather like we’ve been having this week, when it’s just too cold to sleep on the ground. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:24:00 AM


Letters in Response to New York Times Article On the Campaign Against the Daily Planet

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:24:00 AM

Editors, Daily Planet: -more-

Maybe We Should Bark

By Kathie Zatkin
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:25:00 AM

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors decided to cut General Assistance (G.A.). Currently, a full “grant” is $336. Beginning Jan. 1, Alameda County Social Services is directed to cut $84 if living with a roommate—and who on GA isn’t?—cut $40 more if not receiving Medi-Cal; cut an additional $231 if rent is more than GA grant; requiring landlords to sign a W-9 IRS form and penalizing recipient up to $231 if landlord fails to sign the form. -more-

BOCA Supports REALM Public Charter School 

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:26:00 AM

The Berkeley Unified School District has the largest racial achievement gaps of any school district in the State of California. While Berkeley schools have worked exceptionally well for a segment of the population, catapulting many students on to top tier colleges where they excel as leaders throughout their lives, many others don’t make it past the tenth grade. With the best of our collective efforts, our results are still tragically below acceptable standards. In a school of 3,300, there is only one African-American male taking an AP class. One. Our research, using data from the CA Department of Education, has shown us that less than 30 percent of black and Latino students who enter as ninth graders graduate from the Berkeley schools eligible to apply to attend the UC/CSU colleges.  -more-

Repairing the Reputation of Berkeley’s Largest Park

By Amber Rich
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

Until recently, if highway 580 commuters glanced eastward toward Berkeley, they saw a collage of green shoreline with dilapidated, graffiti laden buildings, and a strip of flat water on the backdrop of an industrial landscape. This view has started to change in recent years and will continue to change for the better in coming months. -more-

An Open Letter to Obama

By David Z. Weinstein
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

I would like to offer two suggestions for today’s job summit you are hosting at the White House. I think that it is President Franklin Roosevelt who we should all look to for inspiration during this great recession for his clarity of thinking and resoluteness of values in bringing the economy out of the great depression for the average American not Wall Street that got us there then as now. -more-

Reforming the Democratic Party?

By Harry Brill
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:28:00 AM

It is already apparent that any health bill approved by Congress will provide fewer benefits at a higher cost than health systems in any other industrialized nation. Although it is clear that the considerable clout of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries frustrate our ability to achieve a progressive health care law, we nevertheless need to know more about how political power intervenes to the advantage of corporations. Keep in mind that the health care issue serves as only one example of the high success rate achieved by business. But though we cannot stop corporations from trying, we can influence the conduct of legislative bodies. In crafting a political strategy also keep in mind that gains are made not only after we achieve our objectives. Working toward what we seek to accomplish begins the process of reshaping our social and political environment. -more-


Undercurrents: Obama’s Afghan Policy Is Not a Betrayal, Though a Progressive Alternative Is Needed

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:20:00 AM

The President, he’s got his war -more-

The Public Eye: Afghanistan or Bust

By Bob Burnett
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:22:00 AM

rom a political perspective, President Obama’s forceful Dec. 1 speech on the war in Afghanistan ensured the war will not be a major issue in the 2010 mid-term elections and guaranteed it will be a bone of contention in the 2012 presidential elections. The conflict is now Obama’s war. -more-

Green Neighbors: The Street-Tree Symphony Is Well Underway

By Ron Sullivan
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:41:00 AM
A young and slightly tipsy Chinese pistache looks incredibly optimistic on a gray day.

Just as it’s getting cold and nasty out, I see the third movement in the street-tree symphony is well underway: Chinese pistache trees are resounding with color. After the young tupelos’ blast and the short, single-note fanfare of ginkgoes, their fiery crescendo will give way to the sustained theme of sweetgum for the rest of the winter; hopefully before I run this metaphor completely into the ground. -more-

About the House: A Little Green Legislative Update

By Matt Cantor
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:45:00 AM

Well, we’re moving along. It’s taken far too long, but things are looking up, and those things are photovoltaic solar panels. -more-

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:39:00 AM

THURSDAY, DEC. 10 -more-

The Sugar Plum Fairy Returns to Berkeley

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:33:00 AM

The little angels in our Nutcracker are our 7- and 8-year-old students,” said Berkeley Ballet Theater Artistic Director Emerita Sally Streets. “It’s nice for young audience members to see someone their own age up on stage.” -more-

Shotgun Stages Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Threepenny Opera’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:34:00 AM

Leave it to the Shotgun Players to program The Threepenny Opera, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s Weimar German cabaret musical, fitfully updated to ’70s punkishness, in place of a feel-good holiday show—though, amid high spirits, the attractively evil characters triumph over the more banal forces of order (or is it really due to the banality of order that they triumph?). -more-

Around the East Bay

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:35:00 AM


Celebrating Half a Century of Celebrating Black Authors

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:37:00 AM

Blanche Richardson recalled the “biggest ever” book signing of “the hundreds and hundreds of authors” who have come to Marcus Book Stores over the past 50 years: Muhammed Ali appeared at her family’s Oakland store five years ago. -more-

Rebecca’s Books Hosts Benefit Extravaganza

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:38:00 AM

Rebecca’s Books, the warm, homey shop specializing in poetry, but with much more than poetry books inside, will be holding a benefit extravaganza from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday at its Adeline Street store—just north of Alcatraz and a few steps from popular destinations like The Vault and Sweet Adeline’s. -more-

Moving Pictures: Buster Keaton’s ‘Sherlock Jr.’: Brilliant Film Comedy, Criticism

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:39:00 AM
Buster Keaton prepares to enter the movie screen in Sherlock Jr.

If The General (1927), Buster Keaton’s best-known work, shows the great comedian’s more classical side, with its steady narrative arc and character-driven gags subordinated to plot, Sherlock Jr. (1924) gives us the modernist Keaton, acutely award of cinema as a construct, of the role of fantasy in the movies, and of the curious nature of three-dimensional reality as represented in a two-dimensional medium.  -more-

Golden Thread Breaks Ground with International Skype Play

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 11:08:00 AM

A male writer wants his girlfriend’s opinion of a story he’s written. The writer is in the States; the woman in question is living in Cairo. The text could be obliquely about their relationship, or at least his attitude about relationships, with Arab women in particular. What are her thoughts? “Be frank, even brutal,” he says. The writer—and lover—is asking for it. -more-

Moving Pictures: Great End-of-Year DVD Releases for the Cinephile

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 10:46:00 AM

Wings of Desire (1987) -more-

Community Calendar

Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

THURSDAY, DEC. 10 -more-