The Week

More than 200 people took part in a silent protest this afternoon outside Sproul Hall to protest a veto against the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill which urges the university to withdraw funding from two companies providing military weapons to the Israeli Army. The Associated Students of the University of California will vote tonight on whether to override the veto.
Riya Bhattacharjee
More than 200 people took part in a silent protest this afternoon outside Sproul Hall to protest a veto against the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill which urges the university to withdraw funding from two companies providing military weapons to the Israeli Army. The Associated Students of the University of California will vote tonight on whether to override the veto.


Flash: UC Berkeley Israel Divestment Bill Supporters Hold Silent Protest At Sproul Hall

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 06:53:00 PM
The NorCal Friends of Sabeel join the silent protest Wednesday, Sabeel describes itself as "an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land who seek a just peace based on two states-Palestine and Israel-as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions."

More than 200 people took part in a silent protest this afternoon outside Sproul Hall to protest a veto of the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill which urges the university to withdraw funding from two companies providing military weapons to the Israeli Army. -more-

Flash: Planning Commission Discusses Shorter Plan Tonight

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 06:50:00 PM

The Berkeley Planning Commission will discuss an abbreviated version of the Downtown Area Plan tonight, Wednesday. -more-

New: New Downtown Plan Will Go Before the Berkeley Planning Commission

Tuesday April 13, 2010 - 09:28:00 PM

Included in the packet for the Berkeley Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 14, 1s the April 7 draft of a downtown plan for Berkeley. This one is shorter than the previous one--according to the introduction from Planning Director Dan Marks that's to make it easier for the voters to read, because it's going on the ballot in November. -more-

New: Berkeley High Jacket Wins Columbia Scholastic Award

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 13, 2010 - 08:56:00 PM
Berkeley High School Jacket reporters interview State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell at a meeting on campus last year for their newspaper's online video segment.

Berkeley High School’s The Jacket Online is among 10 high school newspaper websites to win the 2010 Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Gold Crown Award. -more-

New: Berkeley High Starts Search for New Principal

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday April 12, 2010 - 10:58:00 PM

It’s going to be a busy summer for Berkeley High School. The school’s principal, Jim Slemp, is set to retire in June, and Berkeley Unified School District kicked off a search for his replacement this week. -more-

Updated: UC Berkeley Student Arrested For Battery After Police Car Crash

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday April 12, 2010 - 06:54:00 PM

A UC Berkeley student present at the scene of a collision between a Berkeley police car and a car full of teenagers early Sunday morning was arrested “for challenging an officer for a fight and refusing to leave the crime scene,” a Berkeley Police Department public information officer said Monday. -more-

Updated: Opposing Groups Get Ready for UC Berkeley Israel Divestment Bill Showdown

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday April 09, 2010 - 06:55:00 PM
Notable supporters of the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill include Archbishop Desmond Tutu. UC Berkeley Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture Daniel Boyarin, UC Berkeley Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies Chana Kronfeld; founder of Shomer Shalom Institute for Jewish Nonviolence, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Hedy Epstein, an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor. Students for Justice in Palestine, above, display Tutu's speech during a silent rally supporting the bill Wednesday

Supporters and opponents of Israeli government policies are getting ready for the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill showdown Wednesday, with luminaries including South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu joining the list of divestment endorsers. -more-

New: Artists Connected With Berkeley Rep Recognized by the Pulitzers

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday April 12, 2010 - 07:22:00 PM

The Berkeley Rep said Monday that two artists associated with the theater were recognized for their work when the Pulitzer Prize for Drama was announced today. -more-

New: Defendent's Friend is Reluctant Witness at Berkeley Student Murder Trial

By Bay City News
Monday April 12, 2010 - 03:43:00 PM

A friend of a man accused of murdering University of California at Berkeley student Christopher Wootton near campus two years ago is testifying today as a reluctant prosecution witness in the case. -more-

New: ACLU Letter Alleges Abuse of UC Disciplinary Procedures

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday April 09, 2010 - 05:48:00 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau April 6 objecting to the university’s handling of student misconduct charges following a Dec. 11 protest outside the chancellor’s house. -more-

Panoramic Hill Neighbors Settle Memorial Stadium Lawsuit with UC

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:09:00 AM

A lawsuit filed by a Berkeley neighborhood group over UC Berkeley’s controversial Memorial Stadium expansion project has been settled out of court. -more-

California Democracy Act Fails to Collect Enough Signatures for November Ballot

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 08:57:00 AM

The California Democracy Act hasn't gathered enough signatures to guarantee a place on the November ballot, an e-mail message from campaign volunteers announced Wednesday. -more-

Councilmember Moore Named Chair of NBJC Board

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 12:01:00 PM

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) announced Wednesday that it had named Berkeley Councilmember Darryl Moore as the chair of its board of directors. -more-

Updated: Friends, Family Shocked By Death of Berkeley High Students

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:50:00 AM
Berkeley High School students Prentice Gray and Kyle Strang were killed in an auto accident in Richmond last week.

For Berkeley High School students Prentice Gray and Kyle Strang, the end of their incredible friendship came too soon. -more-

Updated: A Candlelight Vigil Mourns Prentice and Kyle

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:42:00 AM
A candlelight vigil for Kyle Strang and Prentice Gray was held in West Berkeley last Friday.

A candlelight vigil for Kyle Strang, who died in a car accident in Richmond March 31 was held at the park next to Strang's house on Acton Street and University Avenue last Friday. -more-

Interview: New Owners of the Oaks Theater

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:39:00 AM

It might take five men from India to save Berkeley’s historic Oaks Theater. -more-

Berkeley Looks at New Medical Marijuana Regulations

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:22:00 AM
The Berkeley Medical Marijuana Commission is looking into new regulations for medical marijuana clubs in Berkeley. The Berkeley Cannabis Buyers Club at 3033 Ashby Avenue, above, is one of three establishments in Berkeley which will be affected by the changes.

Berkeley might soon start resembling the fictitious city of Agrestic featured in the hit TV series “Weeds,” where a widowed young mother bakes pot cookies at home to make ends meet. -more-

Student Arrested in Berkeley High Brawl; North Berkeley Crime Spree Alert

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:05:00 AM

A Berkeley Technology High School student was arrested for attacking a Berkeley High School safety officer during an on-campus fight Monday. -more-

Alta Bates Proposal to Close Cardiac Cath Center Alarms Patients

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:04:00 AM
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center is considering closing its cardiac cath lab. The proposal has alarmed patients.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s proposal to relocate its Cardiac Catheterization Lab from its Ashby Avenue campus to the Summit campus in Oakland has alarmed some longtime patients. -more-

Janet Stork, Head of School, The Berkeley School, December 1, 1954 – April 5, 2010

Friday April 09, 2010 - 05:29:00 PM

Janet Stork, well-known educational researcher and independent school administrator, died of cancer at age 55, at home in Kensington, California, on April 5, 2010. She is survived by her children, Andrew and Catie Birnberg of Berkeley; her father, Gilbert Stork of New York; and her siblings, Diana Stork of Boston and Linda and Philip Stork of Portland, as well as several nieces and nephews. Her mother, Winifred Stewart Stork, predeceased her. -more-

New: Officer Injured in Crash with Car Full of Teenagers

By Bay City News
Monday April 12, 2010 - 03:40:00 PM

A Berkeley police officer was injured in a collision with another vehicle full of teenagers early Sunday, a sergeant said. -more-



Spreading Rumors, or Why Gossip Counts

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 08:48:00 AM

A reader writes: “for once I don't like what I hear of the Planet. Especially with Citizens United passing the Supremes, I think truth-telling is going to be as rare as hens' teeth, and our media megachurch shoul not encourage rumor & gossip.” She was complaining about the inclusion this week of a rumor that someone’s hoping to start a new Berkeley paper in the informal “Editor’s Back Fence” column. She has a point, but sometimes rumors are the leading edge of real information. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence


Odd Bodkins

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 11:05:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 11:03:00 PM

The Tea Party Movement Examined -more-

New: The Dire State of the University of California Pension Fund

By the Berkeley Faculty Association
Monday April 12, 2010 - 05:20:00 PM

A new report from the Berkeley Faculty Association calls attention to the enormous unfunded liabilities facing the University of California Retirement Plan (UCRP) - estimated to reach $18 billion by 2013 if no action is taken. The long term financial viability of UCRP is now in question and the future pensions of current employees are at risk. -more-

Singling out Israel is the right thing to do

By Yaman Salahi
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:26:00 PM

Two weeks ago, UC Berkeley's student senate made a historic 16-4 decision to divest from General Electric and United Technologies, two American companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. A week later, the student body president vetoed the bill, citing its “focus on a specific country,” Israel. His veto echoed identical claims by Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, that “in a world filled with human rights abuses across Africa, Asia and the Americas, the UC Berkeley students vote to single out Israel for censure is hypocritical.” -more-

Pools Bond Floats Special Interest Groups, Sinking Viable Alternatives and Berkeley Values

by Marie Bowman
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 08:05:00 PM

Berkeley’s pool bond will be on the June 8th ballot. It proposes to replace the indoor warm pool at the Berkeley High School (without identifying a new location), renovate the West Campus and Willard pools, and construct a multi-purpose (competition) pool at King, at a construction cost of $22,500,000 PLUS annual maintenance of $3,500,000 indexed to the highest rate of inflation. -more-

UC Berkeley Plans to Destroy Smyth-Fernwald

by Kevin Moore
Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 09:12:00 PM

Like yourself, I am also a strong proponent of protecting and restoring our natural environment…the streams, rivers, shoreline, hills, meadows, green open spaces and the wildlife upon which we here in the Bay Area all rely, not only for the pleasure and beauty they provide, but for their ecological necessity. I am familiar with your concerns in these areas, and am therefore writing this to you to make absolutely sure that you are aware of a situation taking place at this present time. I hope that you will agree that it is crucial that something be done to save a local environmental and architectural treasure in our community. -more-

Yelling Smoke in a Crowded Theater

by Carol Denney
Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 07:58:00 PM

An actor lit up a cigarette near me at a recent stage performance in Berkeley, and I nearly bolted. I felt the same panic I’ve had to field for years as people without respiratory difficulties assume that their smoking won’t matter to those of us whose physiological reactions are immediate, debilitating, and sometimes deadly. -more-

Unemployed Laborers Misdirect Frustration and Anger at Richmond Mayor

By Jeff Ritterman, Vice Mayor of Richmond
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 06:28:00 PM

At the April 6 Richmond City Council meeting a stream of unemployed laborers and labor leaders vented their anger and frustration on Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. They blamed the mayor for their unemployed status. They were aided and abetted by some in the audience and some on the dais who were clearly motivated by their own political agendas and not the plight of the workers. -more-

Discovering Simón Bolivar

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday April 02, 2010 - 10:24:00 PM

In 2007 and 2008, my wife and I traveled to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela -- where Simón Bolivar is revered as a national hero, the country's liberator from Spain. We were, therefore, cautioned never to show disrespect for Bolivar. Hugo Rafael Chávez Frias, the current president of Venezuela, frequently links himself to this legendary figure to gain popular support for his programs both at home and abroad. But who exactly is Simón Bolivar? -more-

Bus Rapid Transit: The Majority Supports and the Minority Distorts

By Charles Siegel
Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 10:23:00 PM

In late January, the federal government allocated $15 million to AC Transit's proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project Of all the Small Starts projects funded for 2011, this is the only one rated “high," which means it is the most cost-effective of all those projects. This sign of support from the Obama administration shows we can expect more federal funding in the future. -more-


The Public Eye: The Next Civil War

By Bob Burnett
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 10:53:00 AM

The Civil War ranks as the most costly of US wars, with 625,000 deaths and a comparable number of injuries. Now the Republican Party is stoking the fires of insurrection and for thousands of right-wing zealots a new civil war seems a political necessity. As increasing numbers of Democratic politicians are threatened, how long will it be before domestic terrorists use their weapons? -more-

Community Reporter: Landmarks Preservation Commission Reviews Libraries, "Green Pathway"

By Steven Finacom
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 11:04:00 AM
Commissioners were given this drawing showing the proposed rear addition to the North Berkeley Branch Library.  The addition is in the center.  The row of low, square, windows would open into the ground level community room.  The vertical stack of four, square, windows on the right would open into a new stairwell.  The large panels of glass to left and right of the new addition would be curtain walls connecting the addition to the original building.

A relatively short action agenda turned into a much longer meeting April 1, 2010, as the Landmarks Preservation Commission delved for the second month into the design details of a renovation and expansion of the North Berkeley branch library. -more-

Senior Power: Choosing a Geriatrician

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday April 09, 2010 - 10:55:00 AM

“Beware of the young doctor and the old barber.” -more-

Arts & Events

Around and About

By Ken Bullock
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:58:00 AM

Personal picks from the Bay Area arts menu: -more-

Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by

Reviewed by Dorothy Bryant
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 05:28:00 PM

Biographies of explorers and politicians fill us in on background, motivation, and influences we might not otherwise know. But biographies of artists are generally useless. The fact that Flaubert lived reclusively with his doting mother tells us nothing about the source of the cool poetic prose he developed to dissect complacent French provincial life; the dramatic love affair of Chopin and George Sand (for which that much abused woman usually gets a bad rap) gives us no insight into the sources of his music; the wondrous use of color in the paintings of Gauguin came, not because of his self-mythologizing, free-loading pedophilia (the Tahitian maidens were usually about 14) but in spite of his total lack of redeeming qualities. Artistic production is a mystery, emerging from a secret inner core only minimally affected by outside events. There are exceptions. Sometimes world events and the artist’s inner drive combine to feed one another, the history inspiring the artist, and the artist affecting the perception, if rarely the direction, of that history, as in the creation of historical novels.

The photography of Dorothea Lange is an example of this fruitful collision of inner and outer worlds. Author Linda Gordon starts with a disclaimer: she is a historian, not a biographer. Ideally, biographers should all be historians as well, and vice versa. But forced to choose, I would say that, in this case, a historian’s broad knowledge is more needed than details of Lange’s heritage or of photographic technique—because Lange’s life and accomplishment were very much driven by dramatic mid-20th century events. -more-

Architecture Review: “Trader Joe’s” Reconsidered

By Christopher Adams
Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 11:30:00 PM
The residential floors of the building are divided by narrow light wells that will limit natural light and views of the sky for several units.

The “Trader Joe’s” project at the intersection of Martin Luther King and University Ave is almost complete. The building façade is draped with a NOW RENTING banner, and workers are planting trees. In a few months the project’s 148 apartments should be occupied, 22 of them by people who are eligible to pay less than market rents. Some of the new tenants will look out their windows across University Ave to the civic center park and the tower of Old City Hall; some will look over the trees and low bungalows of the pleasant residential areas stretching along Ohlone Park. But for some, in as many as 33 apartments, their only view will be a wall on the other side of a light shaft and less sun than an immigrant in New York’s Lower East Side might have enjoyed 100 years ago. -more-

Film Review:2012: Time for Change

by Gar Smith
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:02:00 PM

Last summer, the blockbuster disaster flick, 2012 asked the question: “How would the governments of our planet prepare 6 billion people for the end of the Earth?” Hollywood’s answer? “They Wouldn’t.” -more-

Artist's Preview: "Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews"

by Josh Kornbluth
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 10:50:00 AM

Well, I'm back from Washington D.C., where I had a fabulous time doing the world-premiere run of Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews? It wasn't easy balancing a grueling performance schedule with my frequent late-night meetings with Nancy Pelosi, as I helped the Speaker navigate the health-care bill through a bitterly divided House -- but that's a small price to pay for democracy. I also had a chance to visit the National Portrait Gallery, and let me just say this: If how I feel about Millard Fillmore is wrong, then I guess I don't want to be right. -more-

Music Review: Carneiro Ends BSO Season on High Note

by Ken Bullock
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 09:52:00 AM

Berkeley Symphony's season closer on April 1 was a triumph, both for the orchestra and for Joana Carneiro, completing her first season as music director. -more-

Theater Review: “The Apple Tree” at the Masquers Playhouse

By John A. McMullen II
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 05:24:00 PM

The 1960’s quirky musical is by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick who wrote “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Fiorello.” It’s composed of three not-so-connected scenarios taken from three masterfully written short stories. The first act is based on Mark Twain's “The Diary of Adam and Eve”; the second act is based on Frank R. Stockton's “The Lady or the Tiger” and the third act is based on Jules Feiffer's “Passionella,” a Cinderella tale of a charwoman’s transformation into a movie star, “…but just for the hours between Huntley and Brinkley and the Late, Late Show.” Definitely 1960’s. It doesn’t have any songs you come out whistling, but all tunes are pleasing to the ear. -more-

Artist's Preview: 30 Yrs of New Work Now at La Pena

By Doug Minkler
Wednesday April 07, 2010 - 10:34:00 PM

My art show, 30 Yrs of New Work, is now at La Pena. The reception is scheduled for Saturday April 17th, 4 - 6 p.m. I hope that I will see you then, if not, the work will be on exhibit for one month between April 2 and May 1. There will be several just-completed posters as well as several prints from the 60's and 70's that have never been shown. (I guess I should have titled the show 40 Years of New Work.) The viewing hours for the show at the Cafe and Lobby areas are: -more-

Local New Deal is Focus of History Exhibit Opening Sunday

By Steven Finacom
Thursday April 08, 2010 - 11:27:00 AM
A new building to house the University of California Press and UC printing operations was one of the local facilities funded by the New Deal in Berkeley.  The “WPA Moderne” structure still stands at Oxford and Center Streets on the east edge of Downtown Berkeley.  Now vacant it is presently slated for renovation as part of a new home for the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive.

Seventy-five years ago Congress was finishing up a landmark piece of legislation, a far-reaching jobs program proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt to combat the enormous unemployment caused by the Great Depression. Notable Federal programs including the Works Progress Administration (WPA) date from that time. Although Berkeley was largely still a Republican town then—locals had twice voted for Herbert Hoover for President—that didn’t prove an obstacle to benefitting from Roosevelt’s New Deal. Local facilities from the North Berkeley Public Library to the Berkeley Rose Garden to street improvements and street tree plantings throughout the city were funded by the New Deal, and often built by workers paid directly through New Deal programs like the WPA.
This Sunday, April 11, 2010 the Berkeley Historical Society opens a new exhibit on the local history of the WPA. A free program, with refreshments, runs from 3-5 in the afternoon. -more-