The Week

Black Oak Books owner Gary Cornell stocks shelves in time for the store’s Thursday re-opening.
Michael Howerton
Black Oak Books owner Gary Cornell stocks shelves in time for the store’s Thursday re-opening.


Report: Highway 13, Ashby Ave. Second Most-Deteriorated State Roadway in Bay Area

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Monday December 21, 2009 - 01:47:00 PM

A new assessment of conditions of state roadways ranks Highway 13—including Ashby Avenue—as the second most-deteriorated section of roadway in the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area. -more-

AC Transit to Cut Bus Service By 8.4 Percent

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday December 18, 2009 - 03:57:00 PM

The Alameda County Transit Board of Directors voted unanimously Wednesday to cut bus services by 8.4 percent beginning March 2010 to offset a $57 million budget deficit next year. -more-

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Hires New CEO

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 04:45:00 PM

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce has selected Mark Berson of Alabama as the chamber’s new CEO. In a statement released Dec. 16, the chamber announced that Berson “would lead the organization through a new era of growth and expansion.” -more-

James Fang Elected BART Board President for Third Time

Bay City News
Friday December 18, 2009 - 11:57:00 AM

James Fang, the longest-serving member on BART’s board of directors, was selected Thursday by a unanimous vote to serve as the board’s president for the third time. -more-

The Return of Black Oak Books

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:28:00 AM

Gary Cornell could have lived the easy life with the fortune he made publishing information technology books. -more-

Council Delays Discussion Of Stadium Exemption

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:30:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council postponed discussion of the most controversial item on its Dec. 15 agenda. -more-

City Council to Revisit Iceland Landmark Designation

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:31:00 AM
Berkeley Iceland, at Derby and Mlvia streets.

Berkeley is getting ready for another landmark brawl. -more-

Plan to Eliminate Science Labs Stirs Controversy at Berkeley High

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:33:00 AM

The Berkeley High School Governance Council (SGC) voted last week to approve the latest school redesign plan, including a controversial proposal to eliminate science lab instruction that is currently offered before and after regular school hours. -more-

Wheeler Hall Arrests and Attack on Chancellor’s House Raise Questions

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:34:00 AM

An attack on UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s house and conflicting reports as to why students were arrested at Wheeler Hall Friday, Dec. 11, have added a new twist to ongoing protests against university budget cuts. -more-

BART Awards Oakland Airport Connector Contract

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:35:00 AM

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-

State Approves Expansion of Oakland Enterprise Zone into West Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:35:00 AM

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-

One UC Department’s Response to Budget Cuts: Service

By Joe Eaton, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:36:00 AM
UC students wrestle invasive ivy into submission.

In response to state budget cuts, UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Landscape Architecture are pitching in to help on-campus environmental restoration efforts and gardening programs at local schools. They call themselves the Landscape Progress Administration, an echo of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration that provided public-sector jobs and left a legacy of public works in the Bay Area and across the nation. -more-

Berkeley Alums Detained In Iran to Stand Trial

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:37:00 AM

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-

On Seeds and Seedlings

By Shirley Barker, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:37:00 AM

In the 1960s Euell Gibbons was the man to consult for a back-to-nature approach to food, and Ruth Stout was the expert in a more natural way of growing it. Since one Gibbons title is Stalking the Healthful Herbs, in which is a recipe for pine-needle tea (“almost enjoyable”), when in January it was time to wonder what to do with one’s Christmas tree, the answer was, send it to Euell. -more-

New Berkeley Walking Tour Book Released

By Steven Finacom, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:38:00 AM

Just in time for holiday gift giving, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association has brought out a long-awaited new edition of 41 Berkeley Walking Tours. -more-

First Place for Youth: A Program to Avert Homelessness

By Lydia Gans, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:39:00 AM

Happy 18th birthday! Congratulations, you are now officially an adult. You can vote, you can drink, you are independent.” -more-

Local Artists Fill the Stalls for Telegraph Holiday Street Fair

By Lydia Gans
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:47:00 AM
Holiday shoppers braved soggy weather last weekend for the first of a series of three street fairs along Telegraph Avenue.

If you love browsing the booths along Telegraph Avenue from the campus down to Dwight Way, the Telegraph Holiday Street Fair offers all that and much more. Held for the last three weekends in December, the entire street along those four blocks is closed to traffic and filled with about 100 craftspeople offering the most amazing variety of their creations for sale. -more-



Lieberman: The New Champ

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:42:00 AM

Ever since George W. Bush rode off into the Dallas sunset, there’s been a void on the national scene. Even Dick Cheney has largely faded from sight. The other Republicans, the ones still in Congress are annoying, but predictably so. But just in time, there’s a replacement in Bush’s old slot of The Man You Love to Hate. Based on his behavior in the last three months or so, not to mention in the last several years, Joe Lieberman is the winner and new champ for that title. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:43:00 AM


Missing the Point

By H. Scott Prosterman
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:43:00 AM

People who choose to move to Berkeley are aware of the importance of our local history as it has impacted global trends. As a Michigan grad, I’m especially proud of the connection between Ann Arbor and Berkeley for their parallel traditions of academic excellence and positive activism. The Free Speech Movement began as an organic movement in Berkeley in reaction to the last days of the HUAC ugliness—possibly the ugliest chapter in domestic American history. But some historians ask if the FSM would have been as dynamic or effective as it has been without the support it drew from Students for a Democratic Society, which began two years earlier in Ann Arbor under Tom Hayden. I was proud to follow in Hayden’s footsteps in Ann Arbor as a campus leader and point-man activist for important causes. -more-

Jesus the Palestinian

By Jack D. Forbes
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:44:00 AM

I thought it might be helpful to recall that Yehoshu’a (Jesus) was a Palestinian. The district of western Asia long known as Palestine has a history which needs to be understood as we try to sort out the conflicting claims of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the present day. -more-

Obama’s Oslo Speech

By Marvin Chachere
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:44:00 AM

If you’re smart enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, literate enough to write two very good books, clever enough to gain the Democratic Party’s nomination for president and wily enough to defeat the Republican nominee, then you’ll most certainly be able to obtain the assistance of the best and the brightest. Thus, it is no surprise that President Obama, in humbly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, would deliver a speech that was magnificent in every way. It was erudite and didactic; it had depth and breath; it was a political masterstroke that at once quieted shrill prior criticisms, satisfied nervous supporters and disquieted unattached progressives like me. -more-

Much Better for Berkeley than BRT

By Merrilie Mitchell
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:45:00 AM

AC Transit is steadily cutting local bus service, while not cutting the often empty, huge regional Rapid buses. The strategy appears to be that AC Transit is transforming their Rapids and Locals into a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system of four lines. Victoria Eisen, Susan Wengraf’s Planning Commissioner, recently asked city staff to add studying BRT for University Avenue, and on North Shattuck/Solano, to the environmental studies for the Telegraph Avenue/Downtown BRT line. -more-

Afghanistan, And Why We Are There

By John F. Davies
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:46:00 AM

During the past eight years, I have heard this question asked many times—Why are we in Afghanistan? Some of what I’m about to say here on this matter has been recently declassified, but is still not well known. During the Carter administration, National Security Advisor Zbignew Brezhinski—who currently advises Obama—proposed a covert operation to destabilize the than secular Afghan government, which was getting way too friendly with the Soviets. His idea, approved and put into effect by Jimmy Carter, was to provoke the Russians into getting involved into a Vietnam-type guerrilla war in Central Asia. The goal here was to wear down and eventually destabilize the Soviet Union. In order to accomplish this, the CIA supported and funded the most staunchly anti-Communist groups in Afghanistan, who also happened to be radical fundamentalist Muslims. Brezhinski himself said words to the effect that Islamic fundamentalism was the most effective weapon against Communism, and to this day, he speaks of having no regrets for his actions. -more-

Oakland’s General Plan and the Zoning Update Process—How They Work Together

By John Gatewood
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:47:00 AM

The General Plan is the law. In California, when a city’s General Plan designation for a site conflicts with the city’s zoning for the site, the General Plan supersedes the zoning. Not only is this the law, it has also been tested in court and the court ruled that this is the correct application of the law, further establishing a legal precedent for this interpretation of the law. A few years ago in Temescal there was a lawsuit filed against an approved project over this very issue and the lawsuit failed. -more-


Dispatches from the Edge: Obama’s Escalation: An Af-Pak Train Wreck

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:40:00 AM

When President Barak Obama laid out his plan for winning the war in Afghanistan, behind him stood an army of ghosts: Greeks, Mongols, Buddhists, British and Russians, all of whom had almost the same illusions as the current resident of the Oval Office about Central Asia. The first four armies are dust, but there are Russian survivors of the 1979-89 war that ended up killing 15,000 Soviets, hundreds of thousands of Afghans, and virtually wrecking Moscow’s economy. -more-

Undercurrents: A Call for a Comprehensive Oakland Citizen Planning Process

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:41:00 AM

The time has come—wouldn’t you think?—for Oakland to stop flailing around with piecemeal “solutions” for the future of the city’s central core and begin organized work on a comprehensive development plan. -more-

About the House: Living Together, Forming Intentional Communities

By Matt Cantor
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:53:00 AM
Kathy and Val in the kitchen of Brigid House on 10th Street.

I am unashamed to call myself a hippie. Though the phrase is still used in the pejorative by many and filled with untoward connotations for some, I choose to remain firmly camped among those who eschew the commonplace, dismal and colorless. I am not opposed to tattoos, public nudity or whole wheat pastry flour. Further, I would argue that, day-by-day, we are winning the war against the opposition. True, things don’t always look good for our side, but I remain hopeful. Heck, we elected a black president, and if you don’t think hippies are responsible for that, you may have taken some of the bad acid. -more-

Wild Neighbors: When Is a Tanager Not a Tanager?

By Joe Eaton
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:54:00 AM
Hawai’i o’o: not a honeyeater.

This summer, when I wasn’t paying attention, the western tanager was determined not to be a true tanager. This was not exactly a demotion, as was the reclassification of Pluto from bona fide planet to small planet-like object, or whatever it is now; more like a lateral transfer. Still, I expect this move came as a shock to a lot of birders. -more-

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:51:00 AM

THURSDAY, DEC. 17 -more-

Voci Women’s Ensemble: Voices in Peace

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:48:00 AM
Voci Women's Ensemble.

Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble, directed by Jude Navari, with guest organist Matthew Walsh, will perform The Greenest Branch: Medieval, Romantic and Twentieth-Century Music on a Marian Theme, the ninth annual show in their Voices in Peace series, at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley in Kensington. -more-

Helen Pau’s ‘The Stone Wife’ at Berkeley City Club

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:51:00 AM

Rain, rain, it falls for nothing.” Empty shoes tap dance atop a red ladder (under the hand of puppeteer Tim Giugni) in the old gaming salon at the Berkeley City Club, which opens like a sideshow tent for Helen Pau’s The Stone Wife: A Burlesque in Nine Acts. -more-

A Joycean Christmas

Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:50:00 AM

Berkeley’s Wilde Irish is tying on a good one at 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday: A Joycean Christmas, at the Gaia Center, 2116 Allston Way. “It’ll be like the party from ‘The Dead,’” avers producer Breda Courtney—meaning, of course, the famous yuletide tale of an epiphany (which, many will recall, inspired John Huston’s final film) from James Joyce’s The Dubliners, from which the company will enact “Araby,” as well as the Christmas table scene from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. -more-

A Guide to Holiday Entertainment in the East Bay and Beyond

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM

Every holiday season, there are the classics—like The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, the Messiah, A Child’s Christmas in Wales—and the alternatives, some of which are on their way to becoming classics. Here are a few: -more-

Community Calendar

Thursday December 17, 2009 - 08:40:00 AM

THURSDAY, DEC. 17 -more-