The Week

Under the tarp last night at "general assembly" for anti-Wall Street protest
Ted Friedman
Under the tarp last night at "general assembly" for anti-Wall Street protest
 

News

Flash: Power Outage Closes Downtown Berkeley BART Station

By Bay City News
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 05:21:00 PM

BART has closed the Downtown Berkeley station after a PG&E power outage was reported, a utility spokeswoman said. -more-


Day 3: "Occupy Berkeley" Emerging as Berkeley Version of Anti-Wall Street Movement

By Ted Friedman
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 04:45:00 PM
As rain returned, forcing protesters to huddle under a tarp, you can't tell from this photo, but the crowd for night three of Berkeley's anti-Wall Street protest reached nearly fifty

What do you do when your demo is overshadowed by San Francisco's and Oakland's, if not more than 240 anti-Wall Street protests across the nation?

If you are clever young activists, you brand yourself, and that is exactly what Berkeley's version of the growing national movement is trying to do. And doesn't Berkeley have a few moves when it comes to protest?

"Occupy Berkeley," is the first branding step. Pending approval by the protest's communication committee (the protest is governed by committees open to all--even provocateurs.) -more-


Protestors Begin Day Two of "Occupy Oakland" Demonstration

By Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 01:02:00 PM

"Occupy Oakland" demonstrators who converged on Frank Ogawa Plaza on Monday afternoon remained camped out in front of Oakland City Hall this morning.
Dozens of tents dotted the lawn, and about 75 people gathered under a large tarp at the camp to discuss logistical plans for the open-ended protest.
A homeless protester who gave his name only as Adam explained that there is no one in charge of the movement or the camp. He said that about 1,000 people attended Monday night's general assembly. -more-


Glover, Mayors of Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond to Speak at "Jobs not Cuts" Rally on Saturday

By Zipporah Collins
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 04:14:00 PM

Actor and activist Danny Glover has accepted an invitation to speak at a “Jobs Not Cuts” march and rally in Oakland on Saturday, October 15.

In addition to Glover, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, and community leaders will add their voices to the public outcry for government to invest in jobs and stop cutting needed programs for the poor and middle class. -more-


Day Two: As Occupy Wall Street Movement Builds in Berkeley, How Berkeley Will it Be?

By Ted Friedman
Monday October 10, 2011 - 01:04:00 PM
Second night facilitator at Wall Street protest prepares instructional chart with hand signals for "general assembly."

Day two of the national Occupy Wall Street Movement presently encamped (by night) in the Bank of America Civic Plaza at Shattuck and Center streets was a planning session which will determine the course of the protest. -more-


Occupy Oakland Starts Today at 4 at Oakland City Hall

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday October 10, 2011 - 01:19:00 PM

The wave of protests that began with "Occupy Wall Street" in September is continuing to expand in the Bay Area, and activists plan to begin camping out in Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza this afternoon. -more-


Berkeley Meeting Introduces Ashby Village

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Monday October 10, 2011 - 12:58:00 PM

Having frequently heard about Ashby Village, I had only the vaguest notion of what it actually is. But this past week, during an informal discussion group at the Berkeley Town House, lead by Andra Lichtenstein, we were provided details on the history and growth of this organization. (With over 30 years of experience in public and private sectors with a focus on community health centers, and as Planning and Development Director of Lifelong Medical Care, Andra is well qualified to describe the virtues of this very admirable organization.) -more-


New: Berkeley Dodges End of the World, Joins National Anti-Wall Street Revolution Saturday at Bank of America Plaza Downtown

By Ted Friedman
Saturday October 08, 2011 - 10:21:00 PM
Bo-Peter Laanen, 20, a Cal poly-sci major is second from left in foreground. His techniques moved the crowd from the planning stage to an all-night camp-in Saturday at Bank of America Plaza downtown

As Wall Street protests spread across America from Manhattan—to Boston, Hartford, Savannah, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Huntsville, Birmingham, Mobile. Columbus, Ga., Chicago, San Diego, among others—Berkeley, which recently survived the end of the world while awaiting "the revolution," joined one Saturday afternoon at the Bank of America Plaza at Center and Shattuck. -more-


U.S. Prosecutors Announce Crackdown on Medical Marijuana Stores

By Julia Cheever (Bay City News Service)
Friday October 07, 2011 - 10:25:00 AM

Federal prosecutors in California announced a full-court-press crackdown on the state's commercial marijuana industry today, saying they will not allow large-scale, for-profit enterprises in the name of medical marijuana. -more-


Berkeley's New Smart Boot System: The Potential for Abuse (News Analysis)

By Thomas Lord
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 09:10:00 AM

[Editor's Note:This is the second of two articles. Yesterday's article described in greater detail how Berkeley's new SmartBoot system, to be implemented on October 18, will work.]

Under the recently announced SmartBoot program, the Berkeley Police Department will drive a "boot van" around town. Equipped with cameras, computers, and a network connection this van will automatically detect parked cars from the scofflaw list - those with too many overdue parking tickets. When the van spots a scofflaw it stops and a parking enforcement officer boots the car with SmartBoot. Violators can remove the boot themselves if they are able to pay their fees and past due fines over the phone with a credit card. -more-


Steve Jobs: Arab-American

By Shirin Sadeghi (New America Meda)
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 09:47:00 AM

Abdul Fattah Jandali, a young Syrian Muslim immigrant in Wisconsin, never met his son Steve Jobs. When a baby was born to the 23-year-old Jandali—now known as John— and his 23-year-old German-American girlfriend, Joanne Schieble, in 1955, there was no chance he'd be able to grow up with his biological parents. -more-


Parking Ticket Scofflaws Take Note! Berkeley's About to Boot Your Car

By Thomas Lord
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 08:26:00 PM

[Editor's Note: This is the first of two articles about Berkeley's new SmartBoot system. Tomorrow's article will explore the risks to citizens created by the city's use of this technology..]

Have you accumulated too many overdue parking parking tickets? If so, the Berkeley Police Department is putting you on notice: your car may soon be booted.

Beginning October 18th BPD will start using new tools to enforce against parking scofflaws. The "boot van", equipped with cameras, a computer, and wireless network connection, will roam the city scanning the license plates of parked cars, looking for those with too many overdue tickets. -more-


Mumps Outbreak on UC Berkeley Campus Prompts Call for Vaccination Boosters

By Patricia Decker (BCN)
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 01:37:00 PM

Fever, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. For members of the University of California at Berkeley community, these symptoms could spell more than a common cold -- they could mean a case of the mumps.

The university community is experiencing an outbreak of the viral infection after several cases of mumps were confirmed in students last Thursday, campus health officials said.

On Tuesday, UC Berkeley's health services website posted an alert about the outbreak, encouraging all Cal students, faculty and staff -- regardless of their vaccination history -- to receive an additional dose of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, or MMR. -more-


Charles Rawson Collier, 1935-2011

Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 02:27:00 PM

Charles Rawson Collier, a long time resident of Berkeley, passed away on September 6,2011, just days before his 76th birthday. Charles came to Berkeley in 1964 with his first family to work as a visual artist, producing acrylics, etchings and prints. He soon became involved with the Free Speech Movement, participating in demonstrations and rallies at the Peoples’ Park and elsewhere in Berkeley. He with his wife Corlu founded the Committee for the Rights of the Disabled (CRT), a precursor of the Center for Independent Living in the Berkeley area. Charles advocated for handicapped accessibility on San Francisco transport and many other issues. He himself fought lifelong adversity and disability to live independently in his own home until his recent illness. -more-


Opinion

Editorials

"Occupy Wall Street" Comes to Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 12:26:00 PM

As Jimmy Durante used to say, ever’body wants tuh ged in tuh duh’act. (If you’re too young to remember him and/or don’t come from Brooklyn, Everybody Wants to Get into the Act.) After a frustratingly slow start, the Occupy Wall Street action finally has legs.

Over the weekend, it became front page news in the big national papers. They all ran approximately the same story, recounting how the previously invisible campers took to the road and were arrested in impressive numbers while trying to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in the auto lane. Most of the stories featured approximately identical quotes from various Poli Sci professors at second-tier institutions, ones easily located in the metropolitan areas where the newspapers were published, on the order of “If they want to accomplish anything, they’ll need a program and identified leaders.”

Well, no. The most useful analysis of what seems to be going on could be found on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times Science Section, in a fascinating article about slime molds. Here’s the basics: -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

This Is the Weekend Issue: Good until Monday

Sunday October 09, 2011 - 01:21:00 PM

We're trying this week to use the issue with Friday's date all through the weekend for consistency. If you have time, keep checking for updates. The issue with Monday's date will appear midday. -more-


Hancock Bill Extends Berkeley Solar Finance Scheme to State: Was it a Success or a Failure?

Thursday October 06, 2011 - 02:51:00 PM

Today the Planet received a press release from the office of Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), touting a bill she sponsored that would let homeowners borrow against the value of their property to finance installing solar energy systems, backed by government bonds, with payback billed with property taxes. This plan is similar to one originally floated in Berkeley by her husband Mayor Tom Bates's then assistant, Cisco DeVries.

The release describes the Berkeley experiment as being "highly successful" but for another point of view, see Berkeley's Solar Plan Goes Dark, The city has decided to abandon its once-touted home-solar financing program. an article by Judith Scherr in the East Bay Express.

You be the judge. Here's the release: -more-


Public Comment

AB 292 and SB 900: Both Bad for the Environment;
Why Did Skinner and Hancock Vote for Them?

By Antonio Rossmann
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 09:58:00 AM

Enactment of these two bills represent the culmination of a perfect storm, which runs the risk of repetition often in the days ahead. But first explanation of what they are.

SB 292 was the special interest bill to facilitate approval of a new NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles. The project proponent is AEG Enterprises, Philip Anschutz' empire that includes many of the world's major sports and entertainment stadia, and ownership of several professional sports teams in hockey, basketball, and soccer. AEG claims they need special treatment under CEQA in order to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles; the asserted fear is that a lengthy CEQA lawsuit would delay the arrival of a team they acquire from elsewhere, leaving that team stranded in its present location. AEG also claimed discrimination because two years ago the Legislature gave a competing Southern California promoter categorical exemption from CEQA. AEG built a political consensus for its project and CEQA exception by touting the tens of thousands of jobs that would be created by stadium construction. -more-


Local Activists Join New National Movement to “Take Back the American Dream”

By Ken A. Epstein
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 04:17:00 PM
Van Jones

Twenty-three- year old Nelini Stamp became an activist at the age of 17 when her family was evicted from their apartment in New York City. She is one of the young generation of organizers who responded quickly to the call of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“I went down there and didn’t realize it was going to change my life,” said Stamp, who is a member of the Working Families Party. “I started sleeping on cardboard (and began) pressuring labor organizations and community organizations to come on down and check it out.”

“We don’t need demands,” she explained in response to mainstream press criticisms. “If we tell them demands, it’s saying they have the power. And we have the power because we have strength in numbers.”

Stamp was among the 2,0000 veteran and newly emerging leaders from around the country who came together recently in Washington, DC to spark what they hope will become a national coalition and movement to “ Take Back the American Dream” from bankers, corporate CEOs and the lobbyist-owned politicians who have turned that dream into a nightmare. -more-


New: Hancock's Senate Bill 555 Release is Wrong: Berkeley's Solar Program Went Up in Flames

By Nigel Guest
Saturday October 08, 2011 - 10:43:00 PM

Loni Hancock's press release for this bill that you published is seriously flawed. I wrote [the following commentary about the Berkeley Solar Program]for the (Berkeley) Council of neighborhood Associations' August, 2011 newsletter.

The key problems are:

1) The Federal Housing Financing Authority has ruled that solar property tax liens cannot be accepted for properties with "conforming" mortgage loans.

2) The BerkeleyFirst solar financing scheme was not a success. It was a disaster. Only 13 people went through with it, and, after the FHFA ruling, the City abandoned it. -more-


New: Occupy Berkeley Report

By Steve Martinot
Sunday October 09, 2011 - 03:11:00 PM

The Berkeley occupation, joining some 900 other cities, has begun. Though the original call was for people to come to the B of A grounds at Center and Shattuck to plan an occupation, which would then begin on Saturday, Oct. 15, 100 people showed up, and the decision was made to begin right away. -more-


A Nurse's Viewpoint

By Berit Block, RN
Friday October 07, 2011 - 08:12:00 AM

I have been a Registered Nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for over 29 years. I love my job. I started at age 24 when it was Merritt Hospital and have worked there through various mergers and labor disputes and strikes. We, as Registered Nurses, have worked very hard through the years for a contract that protects our patients and offers us fair working conditions and upholds our work as a profession. Our contract is upheld by nurses working in other facilities as a Gold Standard. What is happening now, as we are negotiating our contract is unprecedented. Never, in almost 30 years have I experienced what we are now going through. We are asking for language in the contract for better murse-patient staffing ratios and it should be noted that California is one of the only states that has a law that mandates nurse-patient ratios to protect the patients. These have already decreased the number of deaths and poor outcomes in the state. We, as CNA members, are only asking that our previous contract be upheld. We are not asking for anything new, not even a cost of living pay raise. We only want NO TAKEAWAYS. -more-


Beware the Hurry to Build at Haste and Telegraph

By Carol Denney
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 01:43:00 PM

“If people have an exciting idea, certainly we can try and show community support so that we can encourage the property to move forward,” Worthington said. “Having a vacant lot sitting there is costing the city a lot in terms of lost vitality to Telegraph.”

Daily Californian 10-4-2011

This quotation was a prominent part of the most recent story on the vacant lot at the corner of Haste and Telegraph currently being demonized by public officials, press, residents, and students. The latest article in the Daily Californian describes University of California architecture students eagerly offering designs for projects-to-be in an atmosphere of urgency.

The article neglects to mention that the vacant lot at Haste and Telegraph was previously a single room occupancy hotel which provided both retail space and 77 units of crucial low-income housing. The building was the victim of deliberate arson, as the previous residents know who received warning the night before one wing was set ablaze. -more-


How Berkeley Employee Costs Eat Up the Rest of the City's Budget

By David M. Wilson, Berkeley Budget SOS
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 08:24:00 PM

Berkeley residents are beginning to understand why there is no money for those nasty potholes, decayed play structures, community pools, and safety-net social services. They are also beginning to see cracks in the whole civic structure as the City is forced to cover tens of millions in unfunded pension and infrastructure liabilities. -more-


Columns

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

by Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 01:04:00 PM

The advantage of the melting pot is that it undermines tribalism. One gains a distance from one’s own national folly. Fashionable present-day multiculturalism, with its naïve call for ethnic pride, sounds to me like an attempt to restore me to precisely that state of mind my parents ran away from in Europe. The American culture is a strange concoction prepared and cooked by each individual in his own kitchen. It ought not to come in a package with a label and a fake list of wholesome, all-natural ingredients.

—Charles Simic, poet, NY Times Book Review, 12/20/03 -more-


It’s the Water, Stupid: The Perils of Clearcutting

By Bob Burnett
Friday October 07, 2011 - 08:47:00 AM

When you fly to the west coast, you usually pass over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. On a clear day you’ll notice the surrounding forests are irregular; they’ve been “checkerboarded.” Millions of acres have been logged and ”clearcut.” While problematic on many levels, clearcutting imperils the drinking water for 45 million Americans. -more-


On Mental Illness: Smoking, Obesity and Type II Diabetes

By Jack Bragen
Sunday October 09, 2011 - 01:19:00 PM

Far too many persons with mental illness literally “drop dead” at too young an age. In many instances, our deaths are the result of preventable health issues that most un-afflicted people address by middle age. The mental health treatment system is failing to provide preventative maintenance to a population which is very vulnerable to premature illness and death through heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and emphysema. If the assumption is that persons with mental illness have less competence compared to the mainstream population, then it becomes the responsibility of mental health caregivers to help regulate the diet, smoking and exercise level of their clientele. -more-


Senior Power: The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune. English proverb.

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 10:04:00 AM

Elderly musicians hear better than elderly non-musicians. Age-related hearing loss is a significant detriment to quality of life in the aged although it is poorly understood. Oxidative stress causing loss of hearing cells is one theory. Chronic exposure to loud noises in the environment is another. It would seem that listening and playing music throughout one’s life could damage the ear. However, a new study comparing aged musicians to non-musicians suggests that decline in cortical auditory processing may be reduced in musicians whereas decline in cochlear function is similar to non-musicians. According to lead researcher Benjamin Rich Zendel, being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing. This advantage widens considerably for musicians as they get older when compared to similar-aged non-musicians. -more-


American Pie: A Cautionary Tale About Three Sixth Grade Misfits

By Ruth Rosen
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 09:37:00 AM

We were bad. Incorrigible, they said. We had curious minds, awkward bodies and awakening hearts. When we disrupted the class with our chattering and chaotic behavior, the teacher asked us to leave the room and stand in the hall until we behaved properly. On our report cards we received "unsatisfactory" for our social behavior.

The year was 1957. Our teacher viewed us as difficult, inattentive, and troublesome, but no one ever suggested to our parents that we had a medical problem or learning disability that required medication.

But that was then, when we were 11 years old and the great waves of hyperactivity/ADHD diagnoses and stimulant medications were still a thing of the future. Now we wonder what would happen if we were misfits in 2007. Would we be referred for medical diagnosis? Would we be among the nearly 10% of children currently treated with psychoactive drugs? -more-


Dispatches From The Edge: Why The Drone Wars Threaten Us All

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 08:25:00 PM

Lost in debate over whether the Obama administration had the right to carry out the extra-legal execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Yemini cleric and al-Qaeda member, is who pulled the trigger? It is not a minor question, and it lies at the heart of the 1907 Hague Convention, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the 1977 additions to the ‘49 agreement: civilians cannot engage in war.

In the main, laws of war focus on the protection of civilians. For instance, Article 48, the “Basic Rule” of Part IV of the 1977 Geneva Conventions, states, “In order to ensure respect for and protection of civilian populations and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between civilian populations and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.” -more-


Arts & Events

Berkeley Arts Festival Continues

By Bonnie Hughes
Thursday October 06, 2011 - 02:10:00 PM

The Berkeley Arts Festival, now in residence at 2133 University Avenue, carries on throughout October. Here are the events, day by day: -more-


American Teacher Has a Lesson: Superman Is a Myth; Teachers Are the Real Heroes

Review by Gar Smith
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 10:30:00 PM

The film opens October 7 at San Francisco's Roxie Theater

Last year, filmmaker David Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman created a mega-buzz by pushing the idea that the problem with US education was: lazy, overpaid, unionized, tenure-protected teachers. Guggenheim's solution: "privatizing" education by promoting charter schools (which, in many cases, were publicly supported).

Well, hold onto your cape, corporate crusaders, because a new documentary is set to hit the screen like a load of kryptonite and is guaranteed to blow holes in that argument. American Teacher, a documentary directed by Academy Award-winner Vanessa Roth and narrated by Oscar-winner Matt Damon, puts the superhero cape where it belongs — on the shoulders of the country's dedicated and self-sacrificing teachers.

Instead of looking at the problem through the eyes of desperate parents, anxious children or an über-administrator like Michelle Rhee, American Teacher offers the missing perspective — education as it's seen and lived by the women and men who dedicate their lives to the classroom. -more-


Theater Review: Patience Worth by Symmetry Theatre Company

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 01:53:00 PM

"Many a singer's career has been ruined by the premature singing of songs."

A play about frustrated personal and social aspirations, about mothers and daughters, men and women, Michelle Carter's new play, Patience Worth was premiered by Symmetry Theatre Company—one of the handful or two of the Bay Area's tiny independent troupes that stage unusual shows with acting and production values that can rival the artistry of the bigger theaters—tells the true story of Pearl Curran (Megan Trout), an almost painfully normal young woman of the nineteen-teens, the pain all her own, a yearning to be somebody better, or of a better class. Pearl had little education besides musical training, but became widely published, the words on the page ostensibly not her own, but those of Patience Worth, a 17th century woman's spirit Pearl claimed to be speaking for. -more-


Press Release: Afghanistan Peace Day: On the 10-year anniversary of the US war in Afghanistan, the Afghan and American people call for peace.

From Adam Hudson and Fatima
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 08:33:00 PM

Sunday, October 9th, 2011, 3pm - 7pm, Fremont, CA

On the 10th year of the US/NATO war in Afghanistan, the Afghan community along with their American allies will be gathering in Fremont, CA for “Afghanistan Peace Day”. This will be the first time in Fremont that such a gathering for peace will take place. -more-


Friends of Negro Spirituals Heritage Day is Saturday

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 07:22:00 AM

Friends of Negro Spirituals will hold their 8th Annual Heritage Day this Saturday, 3:30-5:30 p. m. at the west Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline, Oakland. Admission: free. -more-