The Week

A bulldozer removes trees and shrubs in Berkeley's People's Park.
Carol Denney
A bulldozer removes trees and shrubs in Berkeley's People's Park.


Fire Investigators Seeking Cause of Three-Alarm Berkeley Hills Blaze

By Bay City News
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 10:01:00 AM

Fire investigators today are returning to the scene of a three-alarm blaze that badly damaged two homes in the Berkeley hills on Wednesday night, a Berkeley fire official said.

The fire was reported at 8:32 p.m. in the 1000 block of Miller Avenue, near Grizzly Peak Boulevard. Firefighters arrived to find two homes burning and called for a second-alarm response, Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said. -more-

UC Berkeley's Union Gardeners Not Part of People's Park Bulldozing (Comment)

By Hank Chapot
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 09:57:00 AM

I want to point out that the work at People's Park was carried out by a private company, not UC gardeners. While the University cuts the grounds department budget mercilessly, they contract out more and more of the landscaping(and other maintenance) work. Thus, reasonably paid unionized positions are cut and non-union companies are brought in to do the dirty work. And, if rats are the issue, they can start with the fat and healthy rat population in Sproul Plaza. -more-

Flash: UC Berkeley Bulldozes People's Park to Make It More "Sanitary".

By Carol Denney and Planet
Wednesday December 28, 2011 - 03:37:00 PM

Bulldozers ploughed through the west end of People’s Park today turning decades of community garden into rubble. Dozens of police watched as crews tossed mountains of healthy plants and a community-built arbor into dumpsters, leaving behind stripped earth. -more-

Two Men Injured in Berkeley Shooting

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday December 23, 2011 - 10:19:00 PM

Two men were hospitalized with gunshot wounds after being shot near the intersection of Sacramento and Woolsey streets in Berkeley around 12:40 p.m. today, according to police. -more-

Updated: Goodbye, and Good Riddance (?) to Camp Occupy Berkeley

By Ted Friedman
Friday December 23, 2011 - 05:10:00 PM
Thursday After eviction the night before, this is a section of the "main camp."

Police said they'd enforce no-camping restrictions in Civic Center Park, but they didn't say when. When has since come and gone—and so has the encampment. Goodbye, and good riddance?

Twenty-five Occupy addicts, and some curiosity-seekers showed up at Thursday's general assembly, in Civic Center Park, to debate responses to the city's take-down of the camp. Many denounced the troubled camp, but some supported it.

One Occupier tried to rally the GA to march across the street to the Berkeley police station, but had to do so, himself. After 10 minutes, he returned—a man without a crowd.

The GA was disrupted repeatedly, as police staged a ten-man mop-up operation of the few remaining tents in the now barren and soggy park, as sprinklers tried to save the life of a trampled lawn. -more-

Press Release: District Court Rules Against Jewish Student Allegations, in Favor of UC Berkeley

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley
Friday December 23, 2011 - 10:18:00 PM

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a lawsuit this week that claimed UC Berkeley had interfered with the speech and religious rights of Jewish students. The suit, Felber v. Yudof, was brought by one present and one former student and asserted that UC Berkeley failed to prevent anti-Israel demonstrations on campus. -more-

ALERT: To Those Who Lost Possessions at Civic Center Park

Saturday December 24, 2011 - 09:11:00 AM

According to Berkeley Police, property confiscated from Civic Center Park can be returned at 2nd and Harrison St., Tuesday and Thursday 12-4p.m., next week, and Berkeley Mental Health thereafter. People seeking more information should call the police at 981-5900. -more-

ALERT: To Those Who Lost Possessions at Civic Center Park

Friday December 23, 2011 - 10:22:00 PM

According to Berkeley Police, property confiscated from Civic Center Park can be returned at 2nd and Harrison St., Tuesday and Thursday 12-4p.m., next week, and Berkeley Mental Health thereafter. People seeking more information should call the police at 981-5900. -more-

Earthquake Hits Berkeley Tonight

By Bay City News
Thursday December 22, 2011 - 10:57:00 AM

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.7 shook Berkeley tonight, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-

Updated: Impending Eviction at Occupy Berkeley on Hold, as Occupiers Scatter

By Ted Friedman
Thursday December 22, 2011 - 11:07:00 AM
Back to square one. Occupiers from Civic Center Park return to their origin late Wednesday, as Bank America Plaza fills with evicted tent city-become-village.

Police said they'd enforce no-camping restrictions in Civic Center Park, but they didn't say when. Now cops are on hold, as MLK Park occupiers skedaddle. -more-

A You Tube Video Depicts Police Action Last Night

Thursday December 22, 2011 - 09:29:00 AM

Protesters uploaded this video to YouTube. -more-

Some Occupy Berkeley Campers Stay Despite Police Eviction Notice

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday December 22, 2011 - 09:07:00 AM

After members of the "Occupy Berkeley" camp were served with a notice that police planned to evict people lodging at Civic Center Park after 10 p.m. Wednesday night, a group has remained in the area despite small bouts of police action this morning. -more-

Berkeley Occupiers Defiant Wednesday Night, as Berkeley Police March Into Camp to Distribute Shelter Information

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 05:30:00 PM
What the police will evict, if they do, Wednesday night in Occupy Berkeley.

All day Wednesday occupiers in Civic Center Park prepared themselves for eviction. As the moment of truth approached, they used music, rhetoric, and solidarity to ready themselves.

They practiced maneuvers, gave interviews, and screwed up their courage for a confrontation with Berkeley Police, whom one occupier from Oakland called "pussies" compared to Oakland P.D. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Statement on the Situation at Occupy Berkeley Site

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, Public Information Officer, City of Berkeley Police Department
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 05:27:00 PM

“The message has been consistent within the city that the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) officers have been monitoring the park for community, public safety and participant safety.” -more-

Updated: Berkeley Police Threaten to Evict Occupy Berkeley Encampment Tonight--Councilmembers Not Consulted

Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 10:24:00 AM

It appears that Berkeley's city administrators plan to close down the Occupy Berkeley encampment tonight at 10, though they have not informed the public or councilmembers who have been visiting the encampment about their plans.

Last night (Tuesday) at 10 p.m. the Berkeley Police passed out this flyer to those in the Occupy Berkeley encampment, announcing their intention of evicting Occupiers tonight:



Berkeley Municipal Code ("BMC") § 6.32.020 prohibits being in a City park from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. This park is closed at 10:00 p.m. Starting December 21,2011, this law will be enforced. Persons in this park after 10:00 p.m. will be subject to arrest for violating BMC §6.32.020 and their property will be removed.

Penal Code § 647(e) prohibits lodging on City property without permission from the,City. No one has permission to lodge in this park. Persons who are camping in this park are violating Penal Code § 647(e).

Starting December 21, 2011, anyone found camping in this park will be required to remove their tent and other property being used for lodging here. Persons who fail to remove their tent and other property used for lodging in this park will be subject to arrest for violating Penal Code § 647(!) and their property will be removed."
On the reverse side of the flyer was a list of the city's homeless shelters. -more-

Berkeley Holiday Street Fair Survives Closure by Ghost of the Sequoia

By Ted Friedman
Sunday December 18, 2011 - 07:32:00 AM
Dali-esque. View from a tee-shirt tent across from the Sequoia rubble, as a worker sprays it down Saturday. The rubble consists of compressed walls, appliances, beams, floors, and animal bones.

After weeks of street and walkway closures, and toxic, stinking fumes, this weekend's Telegraph Holiday (street) Fair, a twenty-six year tradition, breathed life into a moribund business district. -more-

St. John's Church Carols for Occupy Berkeley

By Mark Coplan
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 12:00:00 PM

Members of St John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley sang Christmas carols for Occupy Berkeley after church on Sunday (Dec. 18th). The group was led by Pastor Max Lynn and Music Director Todd Lolly in their annual caroling expedition, which usually focuses on senior residents homes, because they wanted to show support for the occupy movement. -more-

Up-arming the Movies

By Gar Smith
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 07:44:00 AM

I've been dismayed by the recent slew of movie posters advertising the new Sherlock Holmes sequel. Popping up on billboards and buses around the Bay Area, they show a smirking Sherlock and a blank-faced Watson brandishing handguns. -more-



Don't Bother Waiting for the One Percent to Shape Up--Here in Berkeley It's a DIY Holiday

By Becky O'Malley
Friday December 23, 2011 - 02:24:00 PM

Being out and about in Berkeley in the week before Christmas provides a good window on the world in 2011. A lot of fuss has been made, rightly so, about the major divide between the 1% super-rich and the 99% others, but the old distinction of the haves versus the have-nots is still valid.

Berkeley has recently been certified as the center of this split. We have the biggest gap between the rich and the poor of any city in the Bay Area.

Of course, the simple explanation is that we’re the rich city most tolerant of also including some less-well-off residents, which can be construed as being praiseworthy. We’ve even had a historic commitment (now in the process of being breached) to adding a few less expensive units to our luxury condo developments and plush mini-dorm rentals which are being constructed downtown for U.C. students.

But by and large, the retail stores you see if you try to Shop Local are comfortable accommodations for the carriage trade, for people who don’t have to sweat the disposition of their purchasing dollars. Even our student population, once considered low-income, is increasingly drawn from more privileged segments because costs have gotten so high. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Making a Mess Even Messier: Evicting Occupy Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 02:12:00 PM

Merry Xmas, Baby, from Aunt and Uncle Scrooge in Berkeley! If we believe the flyer distributed last night at the Occupy Berkeley encampment by Berkeley police, tonight’s the night for the big bust.

Let’s stipulate, for starters, that the site’s turned into an awful mess. No one I talk to would deny that anymore, even the most loyal supporters of the occupy concept. Something should certainly be done about it, and Councilmember Jesse Arreguin’s suggestions would be a good place to start. stupid is it that the city’s hired guns, the city manager and the police chief, don’t seem to have made the most desultory attempt to get buy-in from Berkeley citizens or the elected officials who have spent the most time working with the protesters?

Maybe someone, somewhere, in Berkeley’s city bureaucracy (oops, almost wrote autocracy) should have a chat with Robert Birgenau or Jean Quan before giving the police carte blanche to go full steam ahead.

There are many opportunities for things to go wrong tonight. Even though we’ve all got better things to do, it might be a good idea for anyone who is concerned with civic peace and civil liberties to observe whatever proceedings materialize at 10. -more-


Bounce: Good Vanities

By Joseph Young
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 05:34:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Santa

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 05:28:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Occupy Berkeley: Where It is Now

By Thomas Lord
Wednesday December 21, 2011 - 12:27:00 PM

Here is part of what I want to say:

I don't regard the camp as having any remaining political legitimacy. It still has political significance, but not legitimacy.

Here is what I mean: -more-

New: Bill Bahou and the Roxie Deli Need Your Help

By Donna Mickelson
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:52:00 PM

As far as I can tell Bill Bahou, popular longtime owner of the neighborhood Roxie Deli in South Berkeley, is in the cross-hairs of both the Walgreens Corporation and—thanks to Walgreens' highly paid lawyers—Berkeley City bureaucracy. -more-

New: Vandals Paste Gingrich Quote on Berkeley Rabbi's Home

By Rabbi Michael Lerner
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:38:00 PM

Editor's Note: The Planet received this letter tonight (the first night of Chanukah) from Rabbi Lerner:

Challenged by interviewer Michael Krasny on the NPR affiliate KQED's Forum show Tuesday morning Dec. 20, 2011, to defend one part of Embracing Israel/Palestine (my claim that the path to peace requires a transformation of consciousness, and that Israel and Palestine not only could live together in peace but that there is no peace and justice for Israel without peace and justice for Palestine, so the best way to be both pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestine, and the best way to be pro-Palestine is to also be pro-Israel) I argued that the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians actually want peace but cannot believe that the other side wants it too. It is this depressive paranoid certainty that "the other" wants to destroy us that has been a central part of what keeps Israeli and Palestinians from finding the path to their common interests, just as it is a similar paranoid and pathogenic fantasy that keeps the US population willing to finance an inflated military which keeps in an ending state of hyper-alertness and makes it a ready tool for imperial ambitions of the wealthy. I also presented my psychological assessment of both sides and my view that consciousness transformation, though difficult, is both possible and absolutely necessary, both in Israel/Palestine and in the U.S.
The answer from the Jewish Right came tonight in the 4th attack on my house, this time on the first night of Chanukah (tonight, Dec. 20th). This one was relatively mild—two black-hooded men pasted signs on the outside of my house and garage saying "Palestine is an Arab fantasy." They were taking their clue from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich who has tried to out-do his Republican opponents in the primaries by, among other things, showing that he can be even more extreme on Israel than anyone else. Thus the notion that Palestine is an "invented nation." -more-

Oil Company Advertisements and the Propagation of Malaise

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 07:28:00 AM

In recent advertisements in their attempt to gain control of people’s opinions, the oil companies have reached a new level of brazenness. They have now come out and said, in a straightforward manner, that we ought to be in favor of more oil exploration and of the use of “oil sands” in Canada, which is actually a nicer way of saying “oil shale.” It would be a strip-mining of large areas of wilderness to get the oil contained in the rock. They would like to see the public approve of more offshore drilling. -more-

Judging the Monterey Market: Another Point of View

By Ruchama Burrell
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 09:35:00 PM

Mr. Rosenberg's remarks about the dispute between Monterey Market and its neighboring businesses ignores the history of laws against unfair competition and "loss leaders," that have been in place in California since 1933. It is illegal to sell items at below cost (including overhead and business expenses) in order to drive a competitor out of business. -more-

Judging the Monterey Market

By Jordan Rosenberg
Tuesday December 20, 2011 - 07:42:00 AM

Monterey Market, primarily but not only a produce market, has been a Berkeley institution for decades. The produce is fresh, the varieties endless, the prices low. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Obama’s Dangerous Asia “Pivot”

By Conn Hallinan
Friday December 23, 2011 - 01:08:00 PM

“On his recent trip to Asia Pacific, the President made it clear that the centerpiece of this strategy includes an intensified American role in this vital region,” Financial Times Nov. 28, 2011 —Tom Donilon, President Barak Obama’s national security advisor -more-


By Joe Eaton
Friday December 23, 2011 - 02:21:00 PM
Young male Townsend's warbler, a suet fancier.

We’ve been getting a lot of traffic and a rewarding variety of species at the bird feeders this fall. Or maybe it’s just the observer effect, influenced by the late onset of the rains. In any case, it’s been a good opportunity to watch bird behavior up close while waiting for the drier cycle to finish. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: A Christmas Carol for 2011

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 23, 2011 - 12:40:00 PM

It’s been 168 years since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol to illustrate the horrific living conditions of the English poor and promote the true nature of Christmas. If Dickens were still alive, he’d be compelled to update his tale. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Getting there’s half the fun…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday December 23, 2011 - 12:58:00 PM

Some states license older drivers but apply restrictions. Restriction numero uno on senior drivers is vision-related. It usually requires the driver to wear glasses or corrective contact lenses. Other common restrictions include using adequate support to ensure a proper driving position, no freeway driving, no driving without a right side mirror, no nighttime driving. A time of day restriction such as no driving during rush hour traffic is also possible. Only Illinois requires senior drivers to take a road test regularly. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Gingrich, The Times & Doomsday

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 08:23:00 AM

In a recent New York Times article the newspaper’s senior science writer, William J. Broad, takes a dig at Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s obsession with the possibility of a “nightmarish of doomsday scenarios: a nuclear blast high above the United States that would instantly throw the United States in a dark age.”

The phenomenon that Gingrich refers to is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), one side effect of a nuclear explosion. EMPs can destroy or disrupt virtually anything electrical, from computers to power grids. As the Times points out, Gingrich has used this potential threat to advocate bombing Iran and North Korea. “I favor taking out the Iranian and North Korean missiles on their sites,” he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2009. Gingrich has also talked up the EMP “threat” on the campaign trail.

Broad dismisses EMPs as “a poorly understood phenomenon of the nuclear age” and quotes Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner poo-pooing the damage from an EMP attack as “pretty theoretical.”

While the Times is correct in dismissing any Iranian or North Korean threat—neither country has missiles capable of reaching the U.S., Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, and both have never demonstrated a desire to commit national suicide—what Broad does not mention is that the effects of EMP are hardly “poorly understood”: the U.S. has an “E-bomb” in its arsenal. -more-