The Week

 

News

Berkeley High School Safety Officer Arrested for Identity Theft

From Sgt. Mary C. Kusmiss, Berkeley Police Department Public Information Officer
Monday February 27, 2012 - 04:26:00 PM

“City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Property Crimes/Fraud detectives arrested William Arthur Keys Jr of Oakland on Thursday, February 23, 2012 for violation of 530.5 PC - Identity Theft. “Billy” Keys as he is widely known was arrested at the Public Safety Building. A BPD detective booked him into the BPD jail at about 11:30 a.m. for the crime, a felony, with a bail of $10,000. The arrest was the culmination of an investigation that was documented on a BPD police report January 24, 2012. Subsequent warrants were secured and probable cause existed to arrest Mr. Keys. There is a possibility that the investigation may be ongoing, thus this is all the information BPD is sharing currently.” -more-


Press Release: Berkeley Police Report that Young Man Injured in Fall From Building

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, Berkeley Policce
Monday February 27, 2012 - 02:39:00 PM

“At about 11:34 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, 2012, the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) got a call for service regarding an individual who fell from a the backside of a fraternity at 2395 Piedmont Avenue (N/E corner of Piedmont at Channing Way). BPD patrol officers arrived within four (4) minutes and found a person down on a pathway between 2335 and 2395 Piedmont Avenue. Officers made an initial first aid assessment of the unconscious male, but there was obvious head trauma and a lot of bleeding. City of Berkeley Fire Department (BFD) paramedics responded, tended to immediate medical needs and transported the subject to a local trauma center where he was treated for several injuries including severe head trauma. BPD officers shared that the individual displayed objective symptoms of alcoholic beverage intoxication.” -more-


Head of Security at Berkeley High School Accused of Identity Theft

Sunday February 26, 2012 - 02:17:00 PM

Berkeley High Principal Pasquale Scuderi sent the following letter on Friday to Berkeley High School staff and families:

In an attempt to head off speculation and to be out in front of any rumors, I want to inform the community of a very difficult development that has occurred within the Berkeley High School Community. On Thursday, following a law enforcement investigation, Berkeley High School safety officer William Keys was interviewed and arrested by the Berkeley Police Department on allegations of identity theft. -more-


New: Judge Orders Competency Report for Berkeley Murder Suspect

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday February 24, 2012 - 11:44:00 PM

Criminal proceedings against an Alameda man who's accused of murdering a homeowner in the Berkeley hills have been suspended so that a report on his mental competency can be conducted, prosecutors said today. -more-


Berkeley High Student Shot in Oakland is Recovering

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday February 24, 2012 - 07:40:00 AM

A Berkeley High School student shot on the streets of Oakland this morning has had surgery and is resting and recovering this afternoon, a Berkeley schools spokesman said. -more-


Immigrant Steel Workers March in Berkeley Against Unjust Firings

By David Bacon
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:45:00 PM

Two hundred immigrant workers, their wives, husbands, children, and hundreds of supporters marched through downtown Berkeley February 17, protesting their firing from Pacific Steel Castings. The company is one of the city's biggest employers, and the largest steel foundry west of the Mississippi River. Starting at City Hall, they walked for an hour past stores and homes, as bystanders often applauded. Teachers and students at a Montessori school along the route even came out to the sidewalk to urge them on. -more-


One Victim in String of Oakland Shootings Was Berkeley High Student

By Scott Morris (BCN) and Planet
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 02:29:00 PM

Police in Oakland are investigating a string of overnight shootings and a possible homicide at a home in the Oakland Hills, police said. According to the Oakland Tribune, one victim was an 18-year-old Berkeley High student. -more-


Updated: Suspect Arraigned for Death of Berkeley Homeowner

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday February 22, 2012 - 09:54:00 AM

An Alameda man was arraigned today on a murder charge for allegedly killing a homeowner in the Berkeley hills on Saturday night.

Daniel Jordan Dewitt, 23, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday to see if the Public Defender's Office will represent him on the charge that he killed 67-year-old Peter Cukor outside Cukor's home at 2 Park Gate Road at about 9 p.m. Saturday.

Dewitt is the grandson of the late former Alameda city councilman and interim Alameda Mayor Al Dewitt, who died in 2003. Daniel Dewitt's father, Al Dewitt Jr., said outside court today that Dewitt has suffered from mental illness since the age of 18. -more-


Press Release: Berkeley Homicide; Updated Information Release

From Lt. Andrew Greenwood, BPD
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 05:19:00 PM

Today the Berkeley Police Department is releasing updated and additional information regarding the homicide from Saturday night, February 18, 2012.

Several published and on-line reports relied on a single account of an inaccurate chronology of this incident. Please note below the actual timelines of the initial stages of this case.

At approximately 8:45 PM, BPD received a report of a suspicious person possibly trespassing. The caller reported an encounter with an unknown person “hanging around” his property, and asked that an officer be sent to investigate. This call for service was queued for dispatch. -more-


Mother of Suspect in Berkeley Murder Says He is Mentally Ill

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 08:26:00 PM

The mother of a 23-year-old man who is accused of beating a Berkeley hills homeowner to death said today that he's been mentally ill for more than four years but was neglected by the mental health system. -more-


As Berkeley Questions BPD Over Hills "Murder," and Cops Blame Occupy, We Offer Some Answers (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday February 22, 2012 - 09:54:00 AM

Berkeley police have reportedly said they were "monitoring" an Occupy Oakland-Occupy Cal protest, which arrived on Telegraph from Oakland at 10:25 p.m. Saturday, more than an hour after a "murder" in the hills.

Two of my Planet articles written on Sunday, cast doubt on that. One article covered the Saturday Oakland-Cal demo, and another covered an anti-Bank of America protest on Telegraph. I was at both protests.

Cop-count: on upper Telegraph at noon, Saturday, as the BA protest began: zero, 0, zip. Cop-count at 10:20 p.m., on lower Teley, when Occupy Oakland arrived to unite with Occupy Cal, blocking traffic and chanting "Fuck the police": zero, 0, zip. -more-


New: Early Morning Fire Burns West Berkeley Cottage at Art Studio

By Bay City News
Wednesday February 22, 2012 - 10:19:00 AM

Firefighters are crediting a smoke alarm with alerting residents to an early morning fire that burned this morning at an artist's live and work space in West Berkeley. -more-


Homeless Shelter and Classical Chorus Converge

By Lydia Gans
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 08:26:00 PM

"It was a dark and stormy night ...” some of us may remember those words from when we were kids sitting around a campfire shivering in anticipation of a scary story. On a recent dark and stormy Monday night two very different stories were taking place at First Congregational Church in Berkeley.

Inside the church assembly hall some 200 singers of the Berkeley Community chorus and Orchestra (BCCO) were rehearsing the dramatic Requiem Mass of Antonin Dvorak in preparation for their spring concert. At 10 o'clock director Ming Luke ended the rehearsal and everyone hustled to stack the chairs and move risers and piano into the far end of the room. The exhausted but inspired singers closed their music books and headed for their homes.

Outside on the dark street a large group of homeless people were gathered with their meager possessions waiting to to be sheltered inside. The music rehearsal venue was turned into an emergency storm shelter for the homeless. Word had been sent out that the shelter would be set up because cold and rainy weather was expected. It is not a regular homeless shelter. There is only enough money to operate it about 35 nights out of the year in extremely inclement weather. Funding comes almost entirely from the city of Berkeley with some additional support from Dorothy Day House which operates the shelter. -more-


FIRST PERSON: When to Say "Yes" and When to Say "No" to Panhandlers

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday February 22, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

Panhandling has always been an important part of human existence, ever since people were put in poverty by a society that sometimes lacks mercy. It is not fair or accurate to say that you should never give money to a panhandler. There are people who would perish without the generosity of strangers. We can not presume to know that they created their own problems and should reap the results. There are plenty of people who became poor largely due to circumstances that weren't under their control. -more-


Opinion

Editorials

The Berkeley Hills Murder Could Have Been Predicted

By Becky O'Malley
Friday February 24, 2012 - 07:44:00 AM

Anyone who has ever tried to help a friend or a family member connect with appropriate mental health services must feel for the two East Bay families who have been caught up in the tragic death of Peter Cukor. Despite the best efforts of the modern media equivalent of yellow journalism, there are no villains to be found in this story, just a whole list of victims of circumstances unforeseen and unforeseeable. -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

The Planet Website is Back

Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 05:22:00 PM

Thanks to all the readers who called and wrote to tell us that they missed the Berkeley Daily Planet today. There was a surprise glitch with the ownership of the berkeleydailyplanet.com domain name which was corrected about 10 this morning, but the correction takes from one to 24 hours to propagate throughout the Internet. Your renewed access will depend on your email/browser configuration, but if you're reading this you're back in touch. Our right to the name is now secured for nine more years!

We have also been experiencing intermittent server problems from our third party provider, not at the moment to be named here. We really hope they get their problems under control soon. If you can't get online at any point, please try try again.

And last but not least, email sent though some (sbcglobal.net for one) but not all email systems doesn't seem to be going through. Aargh! Computers! Please just keep trying. -more-


Cartoons

Odd Bodkins: Breakfast (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 01:52:00 PM

Bounce: Friends (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 01:57:00 PM

Public Comment

UC Berkeley’s Black Bloc Tactics

By Carol Denney
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 06:52:00 PM

The university hired a non-union crew to bulldoze the community garden and remove trees and plants in the west end of People’s Park for “maintenance” over the 2011 holidays without notice to merchants, students, residents, the People’s Park Community Advisory Board, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Parks and Recreation Commission, Kriss Worthington of District 7, or the City of Berkeley.

This was only Phase I of a $220,000 three-phase project, which continues to be conducted in complete secrecy. -more-


Columns

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Iran, Israel & the U.S.: The Slide To War

By Conn Hallinan
Friday February 24, 2012 - 08:24:00 AM

Wars are fought because some people decide it is in their interests to fight them. World War I was not started over the Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination, nor was it triggered by the alliance system. An “incident” may set the stage for war, but no one keeps shooting unless they think it’s a good idea. The Great War started because the countries involved decided they would profit by it, delusional as that conclusion was. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: The Republicans’ Rick Santorum Problem

By Bob Burnett
Friday February 24, 2012 - 08:18:00 AM

After Rick Santorum’s surprising victories in the Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri primaries, many observers wonder if he has a chance to wrench the Republican presidential nomination away from Mitt Romney. Santorum does have a chance, but he’s not a winning candidate, someone who can unite the fractured GOP base. -more-


WILD NEIGHBORS: A Lot of Gall

By Joe Eaton
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:28:00 PM
Cynipid wasp gall on blue oak.

Ron has begun noticing plant galls. This is fine, since we have a field guide: Ron Russo’s Plant Galls of California and Other Western States, in the estimable UC Press California Natural History Guide series. Galls are the kinds of things you pay attention to when nature is not otherwise cooperative. -more-


SENIOR POWER: Conferences on Aging

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:16:00 PM

A White House Conference is a national meeting sponsored by the Executive Office of the President of the United States with the purpose of discussing a topic of importance to the American public, and they are typically created by specific legislation. Some conferences last for a day, others for several. Typical attendees include experts in the particular field, community leaders, advocates and citizens with an interest in the issue. The President usually speaks to a conference general session. The conference concludes by issuing a report to the President summarizing and making recommendations for executive or legislative action. The First Lady has sometimes hosted White House conferences. The first White House conference was the Conference on the Care of Dependent Children held in 1909 under President Theodore Roosevelt. -more-


ECLECTIC RANT: SWIFT Pressured to Ban Iran Over Nuclear Ambitions

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday February 23, 2012 - 05:25:00 PM

Under pressure from the United States and the European Union, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), based in Belgium, is expected to ban Iran's forty banks and institutions from using SWIFT to process its financial transactions, which would effect Iran's foreign trade and access to international payments. United Against Nuclear Iran, a powerful U.S.-based group, had been lobbying for the past month for SWIFT to end its relationship with Iran. -more-


EATS, SHOOTS 'N' LEAVES: Fast Company Makes a Major Amyris Fail

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 08:37:00 PM

Back in 1995, two former Harvard Business Review editors created Fast Company, which soon became the rock star of the publishing world, selling in 2000 to a branch of German publishing giant Bertelsmann for the biggest sum ever paid for a magazine, $350 million.

It’s now owned by the founder and chief executive of Morningstar, the leasing rating agency in the world of bonds.

Every year they come up with a list of Most Innovative Companies, described thusly by Wikipedia: -more-


Arts & Events

Theater Review: Central Works' 'Mesmeric Revelation' at the City Club

By Ken Bullock
Friday February 24, 2012 - 08:30:00 AM

Beneath a portrait of Marie Antoinette, patroness of the Royal French Academy of Sciences, sits an upright periwigged figure, long coat, embroidered vest, cravat ... The door of the salon opens—and another wigged figure, similarly dressed, steps in the room, as the first's head swivels to fix the second's eye with his gaze—and a tight smile blossoms on both faces ... -more-


"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" Can a Film about the ELF Win an Oscar?

By Gar Smith
Wednesday February 22, 2012 - 12:57:00 PM

This coming Sunday, the Motion Picture Academy will select its winner for Best Documentary. One of the selections, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman's If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, offers a surprising take on the nature of "terrorism" and unearths the early roots of today's Occupy Movement. The documentary takes viewers inside the world of Daniel McGowan, an environmental activist whose zeal and frustration led him to commit acts that the media came to brand as "eco-terrorism." -more-


EYE FROM THE AISLE: Berkeley Rep’s Laugh Riot Doctor in Spite of His Hellzapoppin’ Self

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 05:25:00 PM
Steven Epp and Julie Briskman (left) in A Doctor in Spite of Himself

I hate it when critics resort to telling the story, so let me just tease you with the opening premise:

so…there is this lowlife woodcutter who lives—well, in the woods—with his wife. The woodcutter spends his day whacking his wood in between taking a whack on Old Single Malt. Now, he and his wife are French Trailer Trash who go at each other like Punch and Judy. Actually, the characters spring to life from a most ingenious potty joke of a P & J show. Hell hath no fury, etc., so when a couple of strong-arm goons for the local rich guy comes by looking for the Renowned Healer who reputedly lives in the woods, Wifey sets up Woody by telling them he’s a doctor--and, beaten into it by the goons, he turns out be one in spite of himself. Of course, being French, it’s about amour, and how he brings the lovers together over the objections of the father, etc., etc.

It’s a 90-minute laugh riot, throwing in every modern reference they could muster, with lots of F-bombs, and a true hellzapoppin’ hoot-and-a-holler. “Vaudeville” (a French word) was originally a comedy that had new funny lyrics put to popular songs, and the singing here is phenomenal. Greg C. Powers and Robertson Witmer on accordion and tuba (a couple of laugh-provoking instruments in their own right) provide accompaniment. -more-


Eye from the Aisle: CCCT “Barefoot” in El Cerrito—dated fare

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday February 21, 2012 - 08:08:00 PM
Ginny Wehrmeister and Joel Roster

CONTRA COSTA COMMUNITY THEATRE (CCCT) is a neat little theater with a very wide stage tucked back in the residential section of El Cerrito several blocks off San Pablo. I’ve not reviewed there before, but a theatre colleague suggested the current play, Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. There is a small outbreak of Neil Simon going around the community theatres, and I am trying to build up an immunity by sampling them all. -more-