The Week

Justin DeFreitas


Flash: Berkeley Schools, Colleges Gear Up for March 4 Day of Action

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 03:37:00 PM
Students at Berkeley City College gear up for the March 4 Day of Action Wednesday. BCC will send three busloads of students and 50 students by BART to a 5 p.m. rally Thursday at the Civic Center in San Francisco.

Schools, classrooms, corridors and cafeterias in Berkeley are buzzing with excitement over the March 4 Day of Action in California. An idea born out of the Oct. 24 education conference at the UC Berkeley campus, Thursday’s rally has evolved into a statewide movement to protest budget cuts, fee hikes and furloughs in public education. -more-

Berkeley Police Focuses on Pedestrian Safety in March to Remember Zachary Cruz

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 02, 2010 - 05:58:00 PM
Zachary Cruz, 5, was killed in a pedestrian accident on his way to an after-school program at the Clark Kerr campus.

The Berkeley Police Department announced Tuesday it will focus on pedestrian safety in March in honor of Zachary Michael Cruz, who was killed in a collision while walking to an after-school program Feb. 27, 2009. -more-

KKK-style Hood Found at UCSD Monday

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 02, 2010 - 03:30:00 PM

On the same day Black students at UC Berkeley stood in solidarity with their peers at UC San Diego to condemn racist acts on campus, a KKK-style hood was found outside UCSD’s main campus library. -more-

Berkeley Subway Vandalism May Be Connected to Bear’s Lair Lease

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 02, 2010 - 02:33:00 PM
Subway sandwich shop manager Rigo Alonso, left, and worker Servando Gomez, right, stand in front of one of the store's broken windows Wednesday. Alonso said damages arising from the vandalism had cost the store $2,000 so far.

Although media reports have linked the recent acts of vandalism on a Telegraph Avenue Subway store to discontent over lease negotiations at UC Berkeley’s Bear’s Lair Food Court, Berkeley police said Tuesday that the intent of the vandals was still under investigation. -more-

UC Berkeley Students Protest UCSD Racist Acts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 01, 2010 - 12:37:00 PM
Black students at UC Berkeley protest racist acts at UCSD Monday.

UC Berkeley became the scene of yet another protest Monday when a group of students and supporters staged a “Blackout 2010” blockade of Sather Gate. -more-

Pesticide Causes Frog Sex Change

Monday March 01, 2010 - 01:03:00 PM

Atrazine, one of the world's most widely used pesticides, wreaks havoc with the sex lives of adult male frogs, emasculating three-quarters of them and turning one in 10 into females, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, biologists. -more-

UC Berkeley Budget Cut Protest Turns Violent

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday February 26, 2010 - 01:44:00 PM

An open-air dance party at UC Berkeley turned violent Thursday night when protesters occupied a campus building, clashed with police officers, broke windows and set dumpsters on fire. -more-

Reports Coming In About UC Students Occupying Durant Hall

Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday February 26, 2010 - 01:18:00 AM

Media reports about a group of protesters occupying UC Berkeley's Durant Hall are trickling in. -more-

Berkeley Law’s Goodwin Liu Nominated to S.F. Ninth Circuit Court

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 05:29:00 PM
UC Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco by President Barack Obama Feb. 24.

UC Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco by President Barack Obama Feb. 24. -more-

Mayor Bates Pushes New Downtown Plan For November Ballot

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:37:00 AM

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates signaled at the Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday that he was ready to put the future of Berkeley’s downtown in the hands of the city’s voters. -more-

Berkeley Investigates Ways to Boost Recycling Revenue

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:42:00 AM

If the city of Berkeley is looking for ways to boost its recycling revenue, it will have to try harder. -more-

General Assistance Recipients to Ask County Supervisors to Rescind Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:42:00 AM

General Assistance recipients once again gathered outside Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza Tuesday to ask the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to rescind severe cuts to their funding. -more-

Dept. of Justice Clears UC Berkeley Professor John Yoo of Misconduct

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:44:00 AM

An internal review by the U.S. Department of Justice released Friday said that the lawyers who authorized waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques under the Bush administration showed “poor judgment” but were not guilty of professional misconduct. -more-

Reward Offered in City’s First Murder of 2010

y Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:45:00 AM

The City of Berkeley Monday announced a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect charged with murdering a Richmond man in West Berkeley. -more-

Alzheimer’s Disease — How Long Before We Find a Cure?

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:46:00 AM

Today more than 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and 10 million caregivers will attend to them during the coming year. If we do not find a way of preventing this disease, there will be about 8 million cases by 2030 and as many as 16 million in 2050. Alzheimer’s is economically as well as emotionally burdensome: direct and indirect costs of the disease amount to over $100 billion annually, according to the National Institute on Aging. -more-

Council Approves New Pool For Berkeley Barracudas

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:47:00 AM
Members of the Berkeley Barracudas swim team at the City Council meeting.

The Berkeley Barracudas finally got their way at Tuesday’s City Council meeting when the council agreed to include the construction of a new competition pool at King Middle School as part of the June pools ballot measure. -more-

Council Questions New Rent Board Position

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:48:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council asked for more information about the creation of a new $130,000 position for the city’s Rent Stabilization Program at Tuesday’s council meeting. -more-

Berkeley Proposes Taxing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:49:00 AM

If the City of Berkeley has its way, pot in Berkeley might just get a wee bit more expensive. -more-

Goodbye From the Front Desk

By Anne Wagley
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:49:00 AM

“Hello? Daily Planet? I think you should get a photographer over here to North Berkeley because there is a UFO hovering over Solano, and you need to report on it.” -more-

Sleep, Stretch, Ski: One Woman’s Search For Satisfaction in Central Oregon

By Susan Parker, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:50:00 AM

I’m no Elizabeth Gilbert, and when my life changed dramatically a few years ago I didn’t set off for Italy to eat, India to pray, or Indonesia to find love. I didn’t have the money or the resources. My husband died in September 2006 and it took me six months to put one foot in front of the other, to figure out finances, and to adjust to not being a full-time caregiver. It took another year for me to realize that I needed to leave town. -more-

‘What a Wonderful Thing’: The University YWCA

By Steven Finacom, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:52:00 AM
The YWCA on Bancroft and Bowditch was completed in 1959.

Although many graceful older buildings were demolished in Berkeley in the mid-20th century, the period also produced some notable and enduring examples of new institutional architecture. One of the more important is the headquarters of the University Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), completed in 1959 at 2600 Bancroft Way, at Bowditch. -more-

On Gardening: Mango

By Shirley Barker, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:53:00 AM

When I read in the Cal Alumni Association magazine, California, that eating locally is not necessarily an admirable thing to do, I could not suppress a sigh of relief. My feeling that local produce is overpriced also received a glow of vindication when a neighbor showed up with a bag of Roma tomatoes, 11 of them for 50 cents, from a market near Sacramento where all produce, she says, is practically given away, making the journey financially worthwhile. These tomatoes even had flavor, something that tomatoes from local farmer’s markets lack. Who knows where Berkeley’s tomatoes come from? Certainly not Berkeley. -more-

The Drummers at the Ashby Flea Market

By Lydia Gans, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:15:00 AM
The drummers at the Ashby BART station met every Saturday and Sunday.

The drum circle every Saturday and Sunday at the Ashby BART station is another one of those unique happenings that Berkeley offers for aficionados of the flea market and a collection of devoted drummers. It’s all part of their weekend routine. -more-



Hasta La Vista

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:56:00 AM

Ave atque vale — hello and goodbye. That was a standard greeting in ancient Rome, which a roguish blogger once compared to a Groucho Marx ditty, “Hello, I must be going.” It was also part of the rites for the dead. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:57:00 AM


Berkeley BRT Proponents Follow Stalinist Model

By Satya Preeti
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:57:00 AM

In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin instituted a series of top-down reforms intended to speed the industrialization of the Soviet Union. These reforms came in the form of numerous five-year plans that completely reshaped the industrial and agricultural sectors of the USSR and were developed by top politburo officials who made decisions out of the public eye that had devastating impacts on many communities and individuals. The workers and peasants were powerless to resist these changes, and their lives were changed forever in deference to the “greater good.” -more-

Berkeley Pools Bond: A Final Chance?

By Charles Altekruse
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:58:00 AM

For nearly a decade, Berkeley has known that its public pools were deteriorating and needed replacement. Although we’ve expended considerable time, energy, and funds on assorted studies and band-aid solutions, the key players—especially the City Council and school district (“BUSD” on whose property the pools reside)—simply punted on the tough political choices. -more-

Suggestions for the Downtown Berkeley Streetscape

By Steven Finacom
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:58:00 AM

The city’s Downtown Streetscape and Open Space Improvements Process (SOSIP) has the positive potential to provide real improvements in Downtown but also the capacity to green-veneer Downtown development with little actual improvements for the public. -more-

Yoo Must Be Held Accountable

By Kenneth J. Theisen
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:01:00 AM

On Feb. 19, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) finally issued its report on whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee should be held accountable for their actions associated with their role providing legal cover for torture and other crimes during the Bush regime. DOJ found that they are not very competent lawyers and that they engaged in “professional misconduct” by ignoring legal precedent and providing poor legal advice. But it did not hold them accountable for the crimes committed under the cover of their “legal” memos. -more-

Practice Disaster Preparedness 

By Norine Smith, Lynn Zummo and Charlotte Nolan 
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:00:00 AM

If you are not yet ready to care for yourself and your family in a disaster, and if your neighborhood is not yet prepared, it is time to start! If you and your neighbors are at some level of readiness, it is time to update and add to what you have already done: get more supplies, practice your family contact plans/drills and meet with your neighbors to initiate or improve preparations. We are establishing April 24, 2010, as “Let’s Do Something Day” for you, your household and your neighborhood to get better prepared. (See details later in this article regarding plans for that date.)  -more-

Berkeley Law Students Applaud DOJ Report

By Megan Schuller
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:01:00 AM

The final report of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) released Friday found that former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyer John Yoo committed “intentional professional misconduct” and that Yoo’s colleague, former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer Jay Bybee, engaged in “reckless disregard of his professional obligations” in their rendering of legal justifications for the Bush Administration’s torture policy. There is no more room for verbal acrobatics or flourishes in discussing this issue. The report clearly states, “Yoo’s legal analyses justified acts of outright torture.” And in rendering these analyses, the OPR report concludes that “Yoo put his desire to accommodate the client above his obligation to provide thorough, objective, and candid legal advice, and that he therefore committed intentional professional misconduct.”   -more-

Reporting to U.N. Human Rights Committees

By Ann Fagan Ginger
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:02:00 AM

On Thurs., Feb. 18, Assembly Member William Monning (27th District–Monterey, Santa Cruz) introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution 129 to make California the first state to file reports to the three U.N. human rights committees under treaties the U.S. has ratified. -more-

Tobacco Industry: ‘Give me your homeless, your poor…’

By Carol Denney
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:04:00 AM

When I first saw Berkeley’s new proposal for smoking restrictions in multi-unit housing, I couldn’t believe the loopholes. It exempts condos and tenant-in-common properties. It offers opt-out options for those who wish to continue smoking in their units. It refuses to identify secondhand smoke, which kills over 50,000 nonsmokers a year, as a nuisance, and suggests smoking sections, which most people know are a joke if the goal is clean air. It is a tobacco industry’s dream. -more-

Class Warfare, in Berkeley? 

By Toni Mester
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:03:00 AM

In the 30 years since I moved to West Berkeley, politics in this city have changed. After serving on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Bayer (then Miles Inc.) Development Agreement in 1991, I literally minded my own business and resurfaced in 2008 to find the political atmosphere even more toxic than I had remembered. -more-

A Sunshine Ordinance for Berkeley

By Dean Metzger
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:03:00 AM

Sadly the sun is setting on the printed Berkeley Daily Planet, but happily the sun could rise on open government in Berkeley. After three years of work, many disagreements and agreements, the Citizen’s Sunshine Review Committee completed its work in February 2010. With the urging of Mayor Bates and the City Council and the lead of The League of Women Voters, the Committee was formed with some 30 plus Berkeley residents and others participating and went to work.  -more-

Some Notes on Herstory and Humankind

By Helen Rippier Wheeler 
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:08:00 AM

In-group jargon refers to specialized language that is used by groups of like-minded individuals. The Global Language Monitor (GLM) is a nonprofit Texas group that analyzes and tracks trends in language. Its criteria are a minimum of 25,000 citations in the global media and breadth and depth of citations. -more-

Structural Unemployment

By Phil McArdle
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:07:00 AM

The current recession is having a cruel impact on American workers. Experts say it is unrealistic to hope the “structural unemployment” rate will drop below 10 percent in the near future; some think it may go higher. This is akin to saying unemployment is an insoluble problem. It means that our rich, technologically advanced economy cannot provide jobs for 10 percent of the population, and that the hopes and aspirations of millions will be put on hold indefinitely, blighted or destroyed. -more-

The Alameda’s Sensible Improvement Plan

By Alan Tobey
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:06:00 AM

I was not surprised to read Zelda Bronstein’s impassioned attack on another rational city plan to improve the safety and functionality of one of our neighborhood streets—this time the four blocks of The Alameda between Solano Ave. and Hopkins St. The plan would reduce the number of traffic lanes in each direction of this unbusy road segment from two to one, allowing for a separated left-turn lane and bicycle lanes.   -more-

Haiti: Blood, Sweat and Baseball (Apologies to Paul Farmer)

By Jean Damu
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:06:00 AM

Just two days after the Haitian earthquake, a disaster now recognized as one of biblical proportions, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig stepped to the plate and whiffed. -more-

How the Daily Planet Won a Battle It Didn’t Choose

By Joanna Graham
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:05:00 AM

Thank you to Becky and Mike O’Malley for publishing the quirky, personal, engaged, and engaging Berkeley Daily Planet, bringing us for the last seven years news and views about the East Bay (but mostly about Berkeley). Without the Planet as it has been, with its full staff of reporters and columnists, I fear it may prove difficult for all of us to stay informed about what our city and other local institutions are up to. A large hole is about to appear in our collective knowledge—a dark hole in which much skullduggery can flourish. -more-

Response to CHO CEO Lubin

By Bob Brokl
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:05:00 AM

We had hoped that the selection of doctors, researchers, and scientists to run Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland might result in not only a better relationship to the surrounding community by CHO but a more reasoned and analytical approach to matters in general. Not the case, unfortunately, based upon the Commentary “Response from Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland” (Feb. 18-24, 2010 Daily Planet) signed by Dr. Bertram Lubin, the new CEO of CHO, and his comments and those of Dr. Alexander Lucas, in charge of the Research Institute, at their Feb. 16 community meeting -more-

Missing the Facts on Marin

By Preston Jordan
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:10:00 AM

In the Jan. 14 Planet, Zelda Bronstein relays that Berkeley's report on the Marin Avenue reconfiguration concluded that motorist speeds were not reduced (“Save the Alameda” ). This same result was found in Albany where I live. The untold story is that the number of motorists on Marin was significantly higher during the pre-reconfiguration survey in 2005 (22,453/day in Albany) than in the post-reconfiguration survey in 2006 (17,789 in Albany). Fewer motorists means most can and do choose to drive faster. -more-

The Spanish Health Care Model

By Kelly Thompson
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:09:00 AM

I am a constituent registered to vote in Alameda County and am writing to express my strong support of real healthcare reform legislation that would minimally include a public healthcare option and ideally include a single-payer system that could exist alongside a reformed version of our current private healthcare system. -more-

Health Insurance and the Antitrust Laws

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:08:00 AM

Recently, the media have been reporting regularly about the Anthem Blue Cross plan to raise health insurance rates up to 39 percent in California. Anthem, by the way, is owned by WellPoint, Inc., an Indianapolis company. The main justification for the large rate increases, as much as 10 times greater than national health spending growth, is higher health care costs. But as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius remarked, “It remains difficult to to understand how a company [Anthem] that made $2.9 billion in the last quarter of 2009 alone can justify massive increases. . . .” And WellPoint, Inc. reported net income of $4.7 billion in 2009. And a recent report found that the combined profit for the five largest health care providers—WellPoint, Inc., United-Health Group, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna—increased 56 percent in 2009 over 2008. Increased rates mean less coverage for a higher cost or possibly no coverage for those without means. -more-


The Public Eye: Can Democrats Use Rope-a-Dope?

By Bob Burnett
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:54:00 AM

Out here on the left coast, folks are pretty discouraged. It seems like every day brings news of either a Congressional Democrat deciding not to run for re-election or President Obama acting like a Republican. It’s time for Dems to go on offense, time for them to use Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” tactic. -more-

Undercurrents: Despite Federal ‘Clearance,’ Perata Deals, Finances Remain Murky

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:55:00 AM

Two weeks ago, the East Bay Express’ Bob Gammon wrote an excellent article revealing some odd financial mingling between the campaign of former state Senate leader Don Perata for mayor of Oakland with Mr. Perata’s project to put an initiative on the statewide California ballot taxing cigarettes to benefit cancer research (“The Cancer in the Oakland Mayor’s Race,” Feb. 10.) -more-

What I Left Out: Inspecting Houses and the Same Old Thing

By Matt Cantor
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:16:00 AM

I have tried to focus, these last five years, on specific issues in each of my columns. I didn’t want to ramble and waste your time, and I tried to avoid talking about my job as much as I could manage, though I’m clear that this didn’t work out so well. But, this being my last print-edition column, it occurs to me that I should talk a little more about the inspection process—the process of looking at houses. When we look at houses, what are we looking for? What do we expect to find? What matters? Every day, I find myself trying to answer that question in a new way, and most days I find a small number of things at the top of my list. It seems to me that this might be worth sharing as this column comes to a close. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Is the Newt Mute?

By Joe Eaton
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:18:00 AM

Have I really been doing this for seven years? That’s a lot of columns; I’m not even going to try to calculate how many. It’s been a good gig. I’ve been able to write about everything from California grizzly bears to beaver mites and microblind harvestmen, which are tiny arthropods that hide under rocks, and the proprietors have never complained about the subject matter being too obscure. (I later learned there was a local musical duo called Microblind Harvestman—thanks for the CD, Hal; interesting stuff.) They’ve tolerated a couple of crusades and left the copy pretty much alone. -more-

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:14:00 AM

THURSDAY, FEB. 25 -more-

Central Works Performs ‘An Anonymous Story’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:10:00 AM
Cat Thompson in Central Works world premiere, An Anonymous Story by Anton Chekhov, a “new Chekhov play adapted for the stage by Gary Graves."

Gary Graves’ adaptation of Che-khov’s An Anonymous Story, at Central Works, opens like a Magritte painting with captions. The “anonymous” of the title, Stepan (Richard Frederick) as he’s known, is a footman in a 19th-century parlor, who confides to the audience: “I’m not a footman.” -more-

Berkeley Opera Opens ‘Don Giovanni’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:11:00 AM

As the opening chords of Mozart’s Don Giovanni come from the pit, Eugene Brancoveanu as the Don turns to the audience, mugs, then stretches out luxuriously on the bare stage of the new El Cerrito Performing Arts Theater in a rectangle of light, while his man’s man, valet Leporello (Igor Vieira), lingers in silhouette further upstage, scratching his nose, picking his teeth, playing with his iPhone. -more-

Berkeley Opera’s New Artistic Director, Mark Streshinsky

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:12:00 AM

Berkeley Opera will open its new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in their new home, the 450-seat El Cerrito Performing Arts Theater on the campus of El Cerrito High School. -more-

Beyond Ignorance and Prejudice: Five Films Portray Palestinan Lives

By Annette Herskovits, Special to the Planet 
Thursday February 25, 2010 - 09:13:00 AM

Imagine that every time you wanted to visit your mother in Albany, you had to submit to questioning by an 18-year-old flaunting a loaded automatic weapon and with the power to send you back home. -more-

Community Calendar

Thursday February 25, 2010 - 08:51:00 AM

THURSDAY, FEB. 25 -more-