Is “OccupyCal” sprouting anew? The Fall encampment on the Savio Steps in front of Sproul Hall was quietly cleared by the University in mid-December, as Finals approached. There was little press attention, save a short Daily Cal article, in contrast to the much-publicized and Sturm und Drang evictions of Occupy encampments in Oakland, San Francisco, and Downtown Berkeley. -more-
Amir Mirzai Hekmati, a US citizen of Iranian descent and a former Marine, has been sentenced to death by a court in Tehran for spying. According to Iranian press reports, Hekmati was found guilty of "co-operating with a hostile nation, membership of [sic] the CIA and trying to implicate Iran in terrorism."
Although the story broke big in the mainstream press this week, Hekmati's alleged videotaped "confession" was actually broadcast -- in its entirety, with Hekmati speaking
Arabic Farsi-- on Iranian television on December 18, 2011. While staged confessions are always suspect, in the videos, Hekmati looks relaxed and healthy and he speaks quietly, in calm, measured tones.
Berkeley City Clerk Deanna Despain died early Saturday morning as a result of "a terrible accident" at her home in Oakland, according to a statement issued today by her family and Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel. -more-
Just another day in the hood, Berkeley's South-side—my Lake Woebegone. -more-
Press Release: Realty Notes from All Over: Developer Bails, Berkeley Blamed, Ross-for-Less Building Sold for $8.425 Million
"After over three years of vacancy the former Ross Dress for Less building located at 2190 Shattuck Ave. on the corner of Shattuck & Allston has been sold to a new ownership group, Somera Sansome Partners based out of San Francisco. Retail West Inc.’s Matt Holmes and Dean Copans represented both the buyer and seller in this transaction that sold for $8,425,000. According to Holmes, "The building went vacant at the outset of the recent recession and there had been considerable interest from an out of state developer to try and assemble the entire block in an effort to create a quasi San Francisco Center styled type of urban retail project with both hotel and large promotional retailers. The market decline killed that ambitious project and than [sic] two subsequent deals died at the hands of the city of Berkeley with their zoning and planning oversight." Holmes added that this has been a classic case of utopian urban planning versus the realities of a tough market and limited retail playing field.' A single tenant retailer is in negotiations to occupy the street level and the developers are intending to create a second story large format class A office space on the upper floor." -more-
Imagine opening up your copy of the Constitution one day and finding these words:
Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.-more-
Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
Redevelopment has been sold to the public nationwide as a virtual panacea for numerous urban ills. The California Redevelopment Association website features pictures of happy children frolicking in a presumably redeveloped urban area. Although this idyllic image is charming, adults need to address quality of life issues in a mature way. There are many desirable societal goals for which redevelopment is touted as the road to achieving these goals. This brief letter will discuss some of the hard facts behind the hype surrounding redevelopment. -more-
Laud Governor Brown's initiative in dissolving The Centre City Development Board, among others, which was but the San Diego City Council Writ Large. -more-
Press Release: ZOA Praises U.S. Cong. Brad Sherman For Call To UC Berkeley: Reconsider Award To Former UN Official And Israel-Basher [sic] Mary Robinson
NEW YORK, January 10, 2012-- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly praised U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) today for urging the University of California, Berkeley to reconsider its decision to give Mary Robinson, formerly the president of Ireland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, its "2012 Public Health Hero" award. Congressman Sherman stated that his recommendation was based on Robinson's "record of bias and animus against Israel." -more-
The hilarious mind-boggling Republican presidential primaries are providing a bang-up opening to the silly season. Who would have thought that the party of Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft, sober and sincere fellows who ceremoniously duked it out on my grandparents’ 13-inch round TV screen, would come to this? Who are these people anyhow? And what’s become of the Real Republicans—are they being held hostage by the Koch Brothers in some undisclosed location? -more-
During his confirmation hearings this past June, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned the Senate, “The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack that cripples our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems.” It was powerful imagery: a mighty fleet reduced to smoking ruin, an expansionist Asian power at the nation’s doorstep. -more-
The taxonomists are at it again, reshuffling the natural order. This is not in itself a bad thing. Science keeps clarifying the evolutionary relationships among plants and animals, and their scientific names—the classic Latin or Latinoid binomials—are altered accordingly. For amateurs, though, it can be annoying. -more-
Arts & Events
Carnage opens at Berkeley's Shattuck Cinema on January 13.
Roman Polanski's latest film could best be described as a comedy of manners — really bad manners.
If you liked "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" (another film-to-play translation featuring a quartet of quarreling couples), this Big Screen sparring match may be just your cup of tease. -more-
Don Reed’s solo East 14th comedy/storytelling played to raves last year, and garnered award nominations. I didn’t see it. I did see the opening of KIPLING HOTEL at The Marsh in Berkeley last Saturday night, and there are no raves or nominations in the offing for this outing. It was the sort of jokey storytelling that the sort-of-funny guy tells when holding forth in the kitchen at the party where everyone laughs for his effort and because they are a little tipsy. There were polite chuckles and occasional hearty laughs. But I noted three people in adjacent rows close to the stage were falling asleep. -more-