Wild Neighbors: The Strange Case of the Sickle-billed Chickadees

By Joe Eaton
Monday March 14, 2011 - 04:11:00 PM
Alaskan black-capped chickadee with avian keratin disorder.

There’s a web site that compiles observations posted to birding newsgroups all over California; I try to check it out every couple of days. That’s how I heard about the deformed raven in Redwood City. On March 7, Ken Schneider noticed a raven with “a pronounced bill deformity,” “greatly elongated and decurved,” eating cat food on the sidewalk near his garage. Schneider thought this was noteworthy because he was aware of a recent phenomenon first described in Alaska but now documented in British Columbia and Washington State as well: a growing incidence of birds with misshapen beaks. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge: The CIA, Pakistan & Tangled Webs

By Conn Hallinan
Sunday March 13, 2011 - 12:10:00 PM

Was American CIA agent Raymond Davis secretly working with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to destabilize Pakistan and lay the groundwork for a U.S. seizure of that country’s nuclear weapons? Was he photographing sensitive military installations and marking them with a global positioning device? Did he gun down two men in cold blood to prevent them from revealing what he was up to? These are just a few of the rumors ricocheting around Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in the aftermath of Davis’s arrest Jan. 27, and sorting through them is a little like stepping through Alice’s looking glass. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge: Pakistan’s Nukes :The U.S. Connection

By Conn Hallinan
Sunday March 13, 2011 - 12:08:00 PM

Washington—New American intelligence assessments have concluded that Pakistan has steadily expanded its nuclear arsenal since President Obama came to office…for the Obama administration the assessment poses a direct challenge to a central element of the President’s national security strategy, the reduction of nuclear stockpiles around the world.”—New York Times -more-

The Public Eye: Suffer the Little Children

By Bob Burnett
Sunday March 13, 2011 - 11:09:00 AM

When I was growing up in the fifties, my parents, grandparents, and all the adults I knew lived an ethic of sacrifice. During the Great Depression and World War II they’d learned it was sometimes necessary to sacrifice for our children. This moral precept used to be shared throughout the US, but recently it’s been lost. As a consequence, Congress now threatens to abandon America’s children. -more-

Eclectic Rant: Saint Patrick's Day

By Ralph E. Stone
Sunday March 13, 2011 - 11:09:00 AM

On March 17th, the Irish, the more than 70 million world-wide who claim Irish heritage, and the Irish-for-a-day, will be lifting a pint of Guinness, or something stronger, to toast Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. I bet corn beef and cabbage will be on many a menu. And many will be wearin' the green. Why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that is the day St. Patrick died and is now celebrated as his feast day. -more-

On Mental Illness: The Unceasing Challenges of Bipolar Illness

By Jack Bragen
Sunday March 13, 2011 - 11:46:00 AM

This week I’m focusing on the difficulties of being bipolar, because so far I have given more attention to schizophrenic illness (due to the bias of convenience). Bipolar is sometimes thought to be a less severe disease than schizophrenia. People may believe this because bipolar people are more commonly brilliant or talented, while people with schizophrenia sometimes appear dull. (I have been told by a doctor that intelligence level is a separate issue from having or not having schizophrenia; yet schizophrenia affects the “harnessing” of intelligence.) -more-

Senior Power: Bells, bonfires and illuminations…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Sunday March 13, 2011 - 11:27:00 AM

It’s exactly one year since my first Berkeley Daily Planet SENIOR POWER weekly newspaper column. In 1776 John Adams didn’t exactly have it in mind when he wrote to Abigail that “…it will be celebrated by succeeding generations… with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations.” -more-