“GMP Union Local 164B has been engaged in a labor action the last two days. The group is picketing for fair wages and healthcare benefits. Yesterday, the Union leadership told City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) personnel that they anticipated approximately 100 picketers at a time on 6 hour shifts around the clock until the issues are resolved. They have and are carrying signs but no amplified sound. (bullhorns or the like) -more-
“This morning, Tuesday, March 23, 2011 at approximately 8:45 a.m., a Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) employee heard what he recognized to be a gunshot as he was working near a portable classroom on the campus adjacent to Milvia Street. Several young people fled from the portable. Upon further exploration, there was a discernable hole through the north wall of the portable and evidence that the gun was discharged from within the men’s bathroom inside the portable. The BUSD employee called his BUSD Supervisor who in turn called Berkeley High School (BHS) to report the incident.” -more-
Three Berkeley High School students were arrested on campus today in two separate incidents for bringing — and in one case discharging — firearms on campus, a school district spokesman said.
Two students were arrested after a gun they brought to the school went off in a bathroom, and the third was arrested a short time later for having an unloaded handgun, Berkeley Unified spokesman Mark Coplan said. -more-
The strike at Pacific Steel Casting resulted in violence this afternoon. -more-
The North Berkeley and downtown Berkeley BART stations reopened this afternoon after power was restored to most of the city's 27,000 PG&E customers who lost electricity during an outage this morning, officials said. -more-
GMP Union Local 164B is having a labor action between Page Street and Gilman. The group is picketing for fair wages and healthcare benefits. The Union leadership anticipates approximately 100 picketers at a time on 6 hour shifts around the clock until the issues are resolved. They have and are carrying signs but as of yet have no amplified sound. (bullhorns or the like) -more-
A number of Berkeley-connected businesses are doing fundraisers for relief efforts after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Here’s information on two. -more-
What were three Berkeley City Council members, the City of Berkeley Director of Library Services, two trustees of the Board of Library Trustees, and leaders of the Berkeley Public Library Foundation doing hurrying around to various locations in West Berkeley in the pouring rain Tuesday evening? -more-
A packed crowd of well wishers gathered Monday, March 14 to honor seven Berkeley women chosen as “Outstanding Women of Berkeley” for 2011.
Among those women receiving the honor were a pioneering physician / activist, a second generation Berkeley songwriter and singer, the creator of the Berkeley Parents Network, a founder of the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, and a journalist who is the leading fundraiser for the Berkeley Public Library. -more-
What everyone’s been saying for a while about the Bay Area, the 2010 Census has confirmed. The East is acquiring greater weight in the life of the region because the Asian American population is surging. Politically and culturally, the result is something of a rumbling mid-Richter scale earthquake. -more-
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Justice Department, California Water Boards and San Francisco Baykeeper today lodged a stipulated order that will settle a Clean Water Act enforcement action against seven municipalities in the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) [including Berkeley]. The settlement is part of a broader enforcement strategy to address sewage overflows to the San Francisco Bay, especially during rain events.
During this most recent rainy season, which began in October 2010, nearly 125 million gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage from EBMUD’s wet weather facilities overflowed into the San Francisco Bay during wet weather.
Among other things, the seven municipalities listed as defendants in the order have cooperatively agreed to update aging infrastructure and collection systems that have been major contributors to the overflows. -more-
Dozens of cyclists from several California college teams turned a block south of the UC campus into a temporary racecourse Sunday, March 13, 2011. -more-
A new season of five Berkeley Historical Society walking tours starting April 2 and running through early June delves into the local history of tennis, art, the UC Berkeley campus, and two north Berkeley neighborhoods.
All the walks take place on Saturday mornings from 10 – 12 and are led by knowledgeable volunteer guides from the Berkeley community. Proceeds benefit the non-profit Berkeley Historical Society. -more-
This week is Sunshine Week all over the United States. What, you may ask, is Sunshine Week?
It’s sponsored by American Society of Newspaper Editors, joined by the National Freedom of Information Coalition, California’s First Amendment Coalition and many other groups. Briefly summarizing, from the NFAC web page: “Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.”
For a complete overview, there’s a website which explains it all.
Here in Berkeley, we’re proud to report that our own Dean Metzger, the indefatigable advocate for Berkeley’s Sunshine Initiative, now scheduled for the November 2012 ballot, has been cited in the Sacramento Bee, one of the participating papers, as one of six outstanding “citizen watchdogs” in California. And Dean has not been working alone—with him on the Sunshine Initiative committee there’s an unlikely assortment of Berkeleyans who seldom agree on everything, but are united in their belief that all of us deserve to know much more about what our city government is up to. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Plans to site a school for students who have previously committed crimes alarm residents near the old Franklin School, reports Berkeleyside.com. Read the previous history of the Berkeley Unified School District's plans and promise for the site as previously reported in The Planet here. There's a meeting tonight (Wednesday). -more-
Torture; Charity; Those Old Tea Partyers; Who Pays for PGE’s Misdeeds?Union Busting; No War -more-
Recently, the local blog Berkeleyside wondered aloud whether or not Berkeley Police should be using Facebook to communicate with the public. They cited examples of other cities that have started using Facebook and Twitter, apparently to good effect.
I'm not so enthusiastic about the idea.
It would be bad policy for Berkeley to use the social networks we've got if the end result was a de facto requirement: citizens who want to be well informed, say, by the police department - must sign up for Facebook and/or Twitter. Yet if the Berkeley Police's main wide-reaching tool for publishing vital information becomes Facebook or Twitter, residents who want to be well informed will have no choice but to sign up. It will be a de facto requirement. -more-
Sunshine Week Commentary: The U.S. is alone among western democracies in protecting “hate speech.” Chalk it up to a healthy fear of government censorship.
An inebriated John Galliano, sitting in a Paris bar, unleashes an anti-semitic rant (“I love Hitler”) that is captured on a cellphone camera and posted on the internet. Within days the Dior designer is not only fired from his job, but is given a trial date to face criminal charges for his offensive remarks.
In the same week, the U.S. Supreme Court extends First Amendment protection to the homophobic proclamations of a fringe religious group whose founder and members, picketing near a funeral for an American soldier killed in Iraq, hold signs stating, among other things, “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God hates fags” and “You’re Going to Hell.” The Court, in Snyder v. Phelps, bars a suit against the religious group for damages because the demonstrators’ message, although causing “emotional distress” to the dead soldier’s family, dealt with “matters of public concern.”
The contrast between these cases reflects fundamentally different views about the role of free speech in a democracy. France, hardly an intolerant or autocratic country, imposes criminal fines for racial epithets, Holocaust-denial, anti-immigrant advocacy and other forms of “hate speech.” And the French are not alone. To varying degrees, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada–liberal democracies, all–enforce similar laws banning hate speech.
The United States is an outlier when it comes to freedom of expression. Although we share other countries’ repugnance for hate speech, particularly the race- and religion-baiting variety, the First Amendment reflects a uniquely strong aversion to government censorship of any kind. As interpreted in Supreme Court decisions going back nearly a century, the First Amendment forbids government suppression of ideas, no matter how vile, deranged or offensive—as long as the speaker doesn’t cross the line separating speech and illegal action (or succeed in inciting others to engage in violent crimes). -more-
With corporations and their Republican backers in an all-out push to rollback environmental protections, one would think the New York Times could be counted upon for accurate stories rebutting these attacks. Unfortunately, the Times has become an independent source of green disinformation, including two major pieces this past weekend – one on the front-page – that falsely accuse environmentalists of being green hypocrites. Is the nation’s leading newspaper now getting its environmental information from Glenn Beck? -more-
On March 12, the New York Times ran an article named “Green Development? Not in My (Liberal) Backyard.” -more-
The student protests of March 3rd 2011 in support of education were inspiring and absolutely necessary. However, as UCB alum and long time residents of Berkeley,we are troubled by the massive and disproportionate police mobilization that we saw in front of Wheeler Hall that evening. We want this action to be reviewed for a number of reasons. -more-
Zionist Extremist Hate Crime Against Rabbi Lerner: 3rd Attack on His Home and the limits of "freedom of the press"
Only one day after Rabbi Lerner presented the Tikkun Award to South African Justice Richard Goldstone, at a celebration of Tikkun's 25th Anniversary attended by over 600 people at the University of California, Berkeley, Rabbi Lerner's home was again assaulted by extremist Zionist haters who plastered posters over his home once again. This is the 3rd assault on his home since Lerner announced the award to Justice Goldstone whose report on Israel's human rights violations during the Israeli assault on Gaza in Dec. 2008 and Jan.2009 was denounced by the State of Israel and by the AIPAC-dominated House of Representatives last year. You would not have known about the 2nd attack, which was reported to the police but not to the media because Lerner had been advised that not giving the attackers attention might make future attacks less likely. That strategy failed. -more-
A budget crisis at KPFA led to a staff reduction in November 2010. A controversy about the cuts ensued and has divided the KPFA community. The three months of controversy have revealed some of the substantive differences between those who propose different solutions. -more-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
Arts & Events
There but for Fortune, a loving tribute to the remarkable career of political activist and balladeer Phil Ochs, is the film my generation has been waiting for. It embodies truths — both heady and unnerving — that will continue to draw the attention of any generation that still has a mind and a heart. Some 35 years after his suicide at the age of 35, Ochs' songs are still remembered and sung. They inhabit the soul of anyone who passed through those turbulent times. There but for Fortune features nearly 40 songs and even more performance clips and stills that validate the compelling effect of his face and voice — a choirboy in cowboy boots and one of the best songwriters of his generation. -more-
Berkeley Symphony Executive Director Jim Kleinmann announced today that he will step down at the conclusion of this season, his fifth as CEO of “the Bay Area’s most adventurous orchestra,” to pursue the growth and further development of PlayGround, the playwright incubator he co‐founded in 1994. He led the organization through a period of significant transforma tion, including the announcement of Kent Nagano’s departure in 2007, the two‐season Music Director search for Nagano’s successor in 2008, and the 2009 announcement of Joana Carneiro as just the third Music Director in Berkeley Symphony’s forty‐plus year history. Kleinmann stated, “One of my proudest accomplishments has been helping to bring in Joana Carneiro to succeed Kent Nagano. This orchestra is poised to do great things and I am confident that Joana and my successor can continue Berkeley Symphony’s upward trajectory.” A national search for Kleinmann’s successor will be launched shortly. -more-
A timeless no-man's land, somewhere in the Middle East ... The hero of the invading army shouts out that it's time to pull out, go back home—and the commander of the expeditionary corps sputters with rage: It's all under control! Giulio Perrone—whose Galileo's Daughters was one of the treats of last year's theater—is back with his Inferno Theatre Company at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, with The Iliad—a staging he wrote, designed and directed—the original military snafu in the Middle East, when it wasn't WMDs or oil but Helen of Troy the invaders sought ... Acrobatics and poetry, his company's trained in physical theater, an interesting array of backgrounds ... Music by Helga Rosenfeldt-Olsen (who also performs in the ensemble); lighting by Michael Palumbo. Opens this Friday. Thursday through Saturday at 8, Sunday at 2, March 18-April 3. Sliding scale, $12-$24. 698-4030; or email infernotheatrecompany@gmail.
Book Review: CIVIL WARS IN U.S. LABOR:Birth of a New Workers’ Movement or Death Throes of the Old? by Steve Early (Haymarket Books, 2011)
In classical drama, tragedy is the story of a noble hero whose fall, whose ultimate ruin, flows from a tragic flaw of character—extreme pride, excessive ambition, lust for power—the flouting of natural limits imposed by the gods of justice. -more-
If you happen to be in the vicinity of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on or before this Saturday, March 19, drop by the De Young Museum to see the 2011 installment of the annual “Bouquets to Art” show. -more-