Six men have been charged with armed robbery in connection with two separate investigations involving five different victims, Berkeley police said last night. -more-
The Berkeley City Council began this Tuesday evening with a special work session on green energy, followed by a regular meeting in which a new Housing Element was moved forward. Councilmember Max Anderson was absent due to an illness. -more-
Opponents of a proposed casino resort development on the Richmond shoreline were not swayed today by an announcement that developers for the Guidiville tribe and a coalition of environmental groups came to a settlement agreement in a lawsuit. -more-
[Editor's Note: Former Berkeley Daily Planet reporter Richard Brenneman's extensive reporting on the deficiencies of the pact UC Berkeley made with BP has been re-confirmed in a new publication from the Center for American Progress. He spotlights it in his blog, linked and reprinted in part below. And now Amy Goodman has picked up the story--see the video below, sent to us by Brenneman]. -more-
Three people have been robbed at gunpoint while walking in the northeast and north central part of Berkeley in recent weeks, according to a statement from Berkeley police. -more-
Ghosts, goblins, the undead, and other assorted creatures of the night who board a bus in the East Bay this Halloween may want to check the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District's new schedule before heading out to feast on the living. -more-
BART police responded to reports of a male suspect with a gun in a Bay Area Rapid Transit station at Ashby Avenue in Berkeley this afternoon sometime after 4 p.m.. -more-
Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan, a stunningly beautiful mountainous region, is located in the center of the country, roughly 100 miles from Kabul. Most people here live in small, autonomous villages tucked into high mountain valleys, and work dawn to dusk just to scratch out a meager living as subsistence farmers, shepherds, or goatherds. The central government in Kabul and the regional government in Bamiyan City exercise little or no control over their lives. They govern themselves, and live for the most part in isolation. -more-
Seeing a developer of the Whitney Estates as a supporter of Measure R brings back memories of the years I spent on the Whitney Ranch as a very young child. In 1932, when I was 3 years old, my father, who was in the sheep business, leased the 18,000 acre Whitney Ranch as pasture for his vast herds, from Beryl Whitney Blaine who lived in the beautiful old Victorian on the ranch. He moved our family there for 3 years leasing out our home in Woodland in the Sacramento Valley . Beryl wanted us to live in her mansion but my father insisted that the manager’s quarters would be adequate for us. Actually she needed her mansion because she had 9 giant mastiffs. They were always fighting and she had scars on her arms from trying to separate them. She also had dyed bright red hair, which was rare in those days, and always wore kimonos. She died in 1935 and we moved back to Woodland. -more-
As current School Board President, what distinguishes me from the other candidates is that I have proven leadership in what it takes to advance student achievement in these difficult economic times. During my tenure and leadership, through careful fiscal oversight and fostering of creative partnerships with the City and other public as well as non-profit agencies (and with the continued support of our community school taxes), the School District has maintained a balanced budget every year for the past four years, while retaining small class sizes; art and music programs; and student support services. Most importantly, with the adoption of the first District-wide student achievement plan (which I championed and led in developing) overall academic achievement has risen, while the District has started to make real progress on the achievement gap that has historically existed among racial groups in our schools. With the decision not to seek re-election of two long-term Board members (Shirley Issel and Nancy Riddle, who both endorse my re-election, as well as do continuing Board members Beatriz Levya-Cutler and John Selawsky), my experience and proven leadership in conducting an open and transparent budget process and advancing data-based, systematic academic growth strategies will be particularly important in continuing the good work, we as a Board have accomplished in the past few years. -more-
The information comes from the City Clerk’s office. I have sorted it as it now appears. Many of the filings did not identify the contributor as to occupation but I went on line and found most of them and placed them in the appropriate category. Over 86% of the funds for H and I come from potential beneficiaries (no…not the kids). -more-
I’m sure that many of us who attended the Willard/Bateman election forum hoped for informative and lively debates. In some cases, we were not disappointed. But in addition to the speakers and the audience, there was another notable presence in the room: the Willard Courtesy Policy. When invoked, this policy silenced debate and left some of us to go home with our questions unanswered. -more-
The Berkeley Democratic Club today indicated that it made an incorrect statement indicating that former Mayor Shirley Dean had endorsed incumbent Councilmember Gordon Wozniak for City Council District 8. Ms. Dean has not endorsed Mr. Wozniak and has, in fact, endorsed his two opponents. -more-
In these two Measures, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) is asking taxpayers to let it borrow a total of $260 million for various projects, only some of which are actually concerned with education. But let me state at the outset that the total that taxpayers will wind up paying if the Measures pass is not $260 million but over $610 million when the cost of debt service (interest, etc.) is taken into account. (See the BUSD's "Plan for School Maintenance and Reconstruction in the Coming Decade" (the so-called "Blue Book").) That's more than half a billion dollars. -more-
With the November election less than two weeks away, the media buzz is all about Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman. At the grass-roots level, activists have been organizing for Proposition 19 (marijuana) – and environmentalists have focused on defeating Prop 23. But the three propositions that arguably have the greatest impact on California’s future – Propositions 24, 25 and 26 – are barely getting any attention at all. The state budget may be a boring subject, but Sacramento will remain a dysfunctional cesspool that generations of elected officials cannot fix until we make structural changes. Getting rid of the two-thirds budget rule by passing Proposition 25 is a critical first step, and passing Prop 24 will undo some of the most recent damage that is driving the state to bankruptcy. But even passing Props 24 and 25 is not enough, because Proposition 26 threatens to make a terrible situation worse – by extending two-thirds to all fee hikes. In fact, Prop 26 could make the passage of Prop 25 and the defeat of Prop 23 virtually meaningless. -more-
If you have been driving around Berkeley this election season, you could not help but notice the preponderance of signs on both private and public property which support rather than oppose Measures H and I. That is because the relatively few people who have managed a modicum of time and energy to fight these measures do not have even a small part of the resources available to those in support. Those promoting H and I have been given over $100,000 from various unions, architectural design and engineering firms and building contractors, all of which stand to benefit from the passage of these measures. The proponents have all the signs they need and paid help to put them up (and to sabotage the few signs posted in opposition). What they do not have is a much of a case for passage of these measures. -more-
Measure R Will Not Prevent Sprawl; Where There's Smoke, There's Fire; Yes on Measure I; District 4 Funding; Worthington, not Beier; Yes on Measure H; Against Sierra Club's Endorsement of Measure R; Supporting H & I; Republicans and Women; No on 26, Polluter Protection; Voting for Beier -more-
[ Letters about the election are in the Election Section.] -more-
UC Berkeley’s recent elimination of popular sports programs highlighted endemic problems in the university’s management. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means. -more-
Californians are tired of University of California President Mark Yudof saying one thing but doing another. Yudof has spearheaded a drive to hike tuition on students struggling to pay their room and board while spending lavishly on his own housing. He has forced furloughs and reductions on the lowest-paid staff while he hauls down an outsized salary and bevy of perks of close to $1 million annually. -more-
Many Republicans, and even a few Democrats, are running against government, even as they campaign for election to the government. They want to shrink government and cut taxes, while most of us voters want to maintain the government services important to our lives. We deplore the budget cuts that have reduced our children's education, our water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure, our natural environment, and our public safety. Fear mongers who scream about wasteful bureaucracy and totalitarian rule actually give rise to what really threatens to our liberty, uncontrolled corporate greed. This "great recession" demonstrates how unsupervised banks devour the very market system that produces our wealth when our government's ability to regulate such excesses is bound by anti-government bias. -more-
Isn’t it interesting to be on the other side of the States’ Rights issue for a change? When I think of States’ Rights issues, slavery, segregation, gun-control, abortion, and Arizona-style profiling come to mind. -more-
Mainstream Americans may chiefly be unaware of this: among people affected by modern psychiatry, there is a fierce debate over whether or not medications are truly needed to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. A lot of Americans rely on the news as their main information source about mentally ill people. When there are news stories about a mentally ill person committing a crime, often part of the circumstances that existed were either a change in the prescribed medications, or a time period of that person refusing to take medication. Mental illness and medication, in modern times, are frequently uttered in the same breath; the perception that medication is needed is usually a given. -more-
Someone at some civic event last week asked me if I’m voting for Measures H & I, the tax and bond measures designed to support the Berkeley public schools. The question was phrased in the form of an incorrect premise, “I know the Planet doesn’t make endorsements, but…” -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Don't forget that the Planet has shifted its weekly issue date to Wednesdays. From now on we'll release the issue on Tuesdays, but the issue will be final the next day-- kind of like getting your copy of The Nation with a cover date some two weeks in the future. Keeping checking this space for new material. -more-
The respected Pesticide Action Network has identified a problem with a recent New York Times report on what's causing bees to die off world wide: The article failed to disclose that the study it reported on was paid for by a pesticide manufacturer, the Bayer corporation. Check out their charges here.
From the Jewish Voice for Peace site: "The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is at it again. They just came up with a list of the top ten most influential anti-Israel Groups in America, and Jewish Voice for Peace makes the list. We appreciate the honor, except that the ADL--as usual--got a few things wrong in describing us." Read all about it here.
The Daily Cal reported on a rash of armed robberies in Berkeley and Oakland this week. And here's another one, at Top Dog this time.
And after all these years, the Mainstream Media finally catches on about UC/BP which Planet readers have known about for years.
It's curious that Professor Robert Reich's latest blog entry denounces political advertising paid for by corporate interests, considering that he himself endorsed Berkeley's Measure R, whose direct mail advertising is funded by Sam Zell's Equity Residential Corporation. Is Berkeley becoming a plutocracy? -more-
Ibsen’s classic play An Enemy of the People tells the story of Thomas Stockman who warns citizens of his Norwegian town that their primary tourist attraction, public baths, is a contaminated health hazard. Manipulated by wealthy polluters, the townspeople refuse to accept the truth, turn against Stockman, and brand him “enemy of the people.” Now a similar drama is being played out in California where wealthy polluters are trying to convince voters to repeal the state’s clean air act (AB 32). -more-
On October 12, 2010, Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the Federal District Court for the Central District of California issued a nationwide injunction banning enforcement of "don’t ask, don’t tell" (DADT), the law that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Thus, the court in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America stopped the 17-year ban on openly gay servicemen and women under which some 14,000 gays and lesbians have been discharged from the military when their sexual orientation was disclosed. The DADT policy passed during the Clinton administration was a cowardly compromise that satisfied no one. The court ruled that the policy regarding gays serving in the military violated service members' Fifth Amendment rights to due process and freedom of speech. -more-
Ten years ago there were 3,595,658 persons aged 65 and older living in California-- 10.6% of the population. T he Berkeley Daily Planet (November 1, 2000) front-paged my “Old enough to make a difference” article regarding the then-upcoming election. -more-
Arts & Events
Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan soaked up most of the cinematic spotlight in 1998. And though that film's opening sequence, depicting the chaos, horror, bravery and bloodshed of the storming of the beach at Normandy, was a stunning, emotional tour de force, the rest of the film unfortunately slipped into Spielberg's usual stew of simplistic, populist plotlines and heavy-handed emotionalism, not to mention an overpowering dose of John Williams' melodramatic orchestration. It may have made for a decent evening's entertainment, but fell far short of its goal of transforming the drama and history of World War II into a piece of artwork for the ages. -more-
Four Seasons LodgeAndrew Jacobs' wistful documentary gives us a glimpse of what may be the final summer frolic of a group of Holocaust survivors who gather each summer at a lodge in the Catskills Mountains of New York. For decades they've met here for dancing, entertainment and conversation, but this could be their last reunion, as a majority has voted to sell the property due both to the caretakers' desire to step aside, as well as to the sad fact of the group's ever-dwindling numbers. -more-
Mark Jackson is a proven theatrical talent. With Meyerhold, Faust, and others, he has wowed this reviewer repeatedly.
MARY STUART, now playing at Shotgun Players through November 7th is a stark and colorless version of Frederick Schiller’s blank verse play about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her interrogation and execution under Queen Elizabeth I. Jackson adapted and directed, and it is a hodge-podge of acting styles, hieratic posturing, served in a bleak room. The audience loved it, and two curtain calls were demanded. I found it hard to watch, and harder to listen to. -more-
Ah, yes — October. Surely the most beautiful month of the year, when, as James Whitcomb Riley eloquently put it, "The frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the stock." -more-
Press Release: Coming Soon to Berkeley: Year Round Programming from the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Press Release: David Bacon Speaks on "Protecting Oil Companies and Attacking Unions -- U.S. Policy in Iraq and the U.S."
Grandmothers Against the War & US Labor Against the War invite you to a talk by photojournalist David Bacon: -more-