The Week



New: Conference on LBNL Plans for Synthetic Biology Tonight at Berkeley's Brower Center

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday March 29, 2012 - 10:39:00 AM

A conference will take place tonight in Berkeley on the the billion-dollar-plus academic/industrial complex planned by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the Richmond shoreline. -more-

City of Berkeley Releases Working Draft of Dispatcher's Conversation with Victim of Hills Killing

Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 08:55:00 PM

The city of Berkeley has released a "working draft" of the conversation between Peter Cukor and the Berkeley police dispatcher which was recorded on February 18. The document notes that "this is NOT a verbatim transcript..." -more-

St. Paul AME Church in Berkeley Remembers Trayvon Martin

Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 02:37:00 PM

St. Paul AME Church, on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley near the corner of Shattuck, has posted this video of their "Hoodie Sunday" observance in memory of Trayvon Martin, featuring Pastor Leslie R. White and members of the congregation: -more-

Press Release: Center for Investigative Reporting, The Bay Citizen Agree to Merge: Merger Will Create Nation’s Largest Nonprofit Organization Focused on Accountability Journalism

From Business Wire
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 04:32:00 PM

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and The Bay Area News Project (BANP), which operates The Bay Citizen, today agreed to merge operations, pending a review by the California attorney general. -more-

A Vanishing Legacy of the Last Depression in Berkeley

By Gray Brechin
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 04:22:00 PM

An ancient cherry tree on Sacramento Street just north of the North Berkeley BART station this week is popping into its annual glorious bloom. I once thought it must have been planted by someone in the small Japanese community that left so many private Japanese gardens in the neighborhood, but a box of yellowed newspaper clippings I discovered at the Bancroft Library suggests it is yet another unmarked legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. -more-

Flash: Berkeley High Women's Basketball Team in the 2012 State Championships —the Top 125 Photos

By Mark Coplan
Sunday March 25, 2012 - 08:16:00 PM
BHS Women's Basketball State Championships 2012 Top 125

The Berkeley High Women’s Basketball team played Southern California’s Mater Dei for the Division I state championship at the Power Balance Arena (formerly Arco Arena) Saturday night. Unfortunately, there was none of the jubilation we experienced last week when they won the NORCAL Div. I title in the same arena because this time they lost the game, 40 to 57. -more-

Judge Says Berkeley Murder Suspect is Incompetent to Stand Trial

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday March 22, 2012 - 09:30:00 PM

A judge ruled today that Daniel Jordan Dewitt is mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges that he murdered Berkeley hills homeowner Peter Cukor last month. -more-

Searching for Hate Leads to Sick Scene in Downtown Berkeley

By Ted Friedman
Friday March 23, 2012 - 12:40:00 PM
Protecting and serving. Cops ministering to mentally ill man downtown Wednesday. They didn't want me to photograph the man they called "a patient." All you can see is his leg.

While searching for Hate Man downtown, I stopped off to reminisce with Drayco, who was stabbed last year in a tree in People's Park. The stabber said it was more like some pokes, but Drayco left a lot of blood in the park. I know. I was there for five hours watching the cops label every drop. Drayco agrees he lost a lot of blood, even though he refused emergency room treatment until the next day when cops picked him up. He didn't want to upset the pitbull puppy that now looks like a mule. -more-

Gunshots Heard in South Berkeley

Monday March 26, 2012 - 01:45:00 PM

Callers to the Planet who live and work in the area near Russell and Sacramento in Berkeley have reported hearing gunshots and seeing many police officers and cars in the area about 1:35 today. The Berkeley Police Department dispatch operator says that there were "loud reports" heard, but no shooting victim has been located. -more-

Doe Library Begins a Second Century

By Steven Finacom
Thursday March 22, 2012 - 11:26:00 PM

Doe Library at the UC Berkeley campus greeted its second official century on March 21, 2012, with music, cupcakes, speakers, exhibits and—most important—evidence that it is still the vital heart of the academic campus envisioned in the early 20th century when it was designed and constructed. -more-

It's Shake, Rattle, and Roll at BPD in Wake of Sex-Scandal Gossip

By Ted Friedman
Friday March 23, 2012 - 12:29:00 PM
Displayed at BPD headquarters.

As the whole world watched Berkeley police last week, I was scrambling for my piece of the media pie that had gone viral after the chief sent his info officer in the wee hours to a local reporter's home, seeking changes in the reporter's story. -more-



Berkeley Councilmembers Pat Themselves on Backs as They Pass Downtown Area Plan

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday March 22, 2012 - 09:08:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council in its infinite wisdom passed, on an 8-1 vote, a new Downtown Area Plan with attendant zoning changes which are supposed to facilitate its execution. Eight of the councilmembers voted for it, with Kriss Worthington, who's been around the block all too many times, the only no vote.

Arreguin and Anderson, who should know better, spoke enthusiastically of the "community benefits" the plan is supposed to provide, though Anderson, perhaps older and wiser, expressed some apprehension that they might get forgotten in the end. Since five skyscrapers downtown are the big ticket item, it might be appropriate to dub it the “pie in the sky” plan, in honor of Woody Guthrie ’s Joe Hill's famous ditty, invoked in this space more than once: “There’ll be pie in the sky bye and bye.” The modern refrain would be a sarcastic “oh sure.” -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Dulcet Tones (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 11:29:00 PM

Bounce: This Land (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 11:33:00 PM

Public Comment

Healthcare Jujitsu

By Robert Reich
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 03:29:00 PM

Not surprisingly, today’s debut Supreme Court argument over the so-called “individual mandate” requiring everyone to buy health insurance revolved around epistemological niceties such as the meaning of a “tax,” and the question of whether the issue is ripe for review. -more-

Zoning Laws and Property Rights

By Steve Randy Waldman
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 04:17:00 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and read Matt Yglesias’ The Rent Is Too Damned High and Ryan Avent’s The Gated City back to back. Both were a pleasure to read, for their content, and for the opportunity to kick a couple of bucks to two of my fave bloggers behind an ennobling veil of commerce. As an avid reader of both authors’ online work, there were no huge surprises, but reading the ebooks took me deeper and inspired some more considered thought on their ideas. Ryan Avent and Matt Yglesias (and Ed Glaeser too!) are separate humans with their own identities and ideas. But these “econourbanists” share a core view, and I hope they will forgive me if I consider their work together. Although they arrive at a similar place, the two books take very different roads: Avent’s book is a bit wonkier and more economistic, focusing on the macro role of cities in enhancing productivity through economies of scale and agglomeration; Yglesias treats the same set of issues more polemically and with an emphasis on the personal, thinking about how individuals should expect to make a living in an increasingly service-oriented economy, the importance of accessible cities to the kind of prosperity he envisions, and the perils of any obstacle that makes urban life inaccessible (“the rent is too damned high!”). Read both! -more-

Letters to the Editor

Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:38:00 PM

It's all about politics. -more-

Walking While Black

By Marian Wright Edelman, Reader Supported News
Friday March 23, 2012 - 07:42:00 AM

Every parent raising black sons knows the dilemma: deciding how soon to have the talk. Choosing the words to explain to your beautiful child that there are some people who will never like or trust him just because of who he is - including some who should be there to protect him, but will instead have the power to hurt him. Training him how to walk, what to say, and how to act so he won't seem like a threat. Teaching him that the burden of deflating stereotypes and reassuring other people's ignorance will always fall on him, and while that isn't fair, in some cases it may be the only way to keep him safe and alive. -more-

Decade-Long Decline in Math and English Proficiency at Berkeley High Reported; Decline in College Readiness

By Priscilla Myrick
Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:21:00 PM

Did you know Berkeley High students as a whole are less ready for college math and college English than other students in Alameda or California? This is one of the many alarming facts contained in the report prepared by Berkeley High in anticipation of a school visit by the WASC accrediting team on March 19-21. The full report is available at: -more-

Labor on the Millionaires Tax

By Harry Brill
Friday March 23, 2012 - 12:53:00 PM

Many of us are traumatized by the decision by labor to abandon the Millionaires Tax. Let us consider just how this came about. First, The two largest unions in California, SEIU with 700,000 members and CTA with 325,000 immediately jumped on the Brown bandwagon. And even the California Nurses Association (CNA), which rhetorically supported the millionaires tax refused to donate even one penny to the campaign, and its leadership did absolutely nothing to galvanize a signature campaign. Many other unions and labor councils throughout California gave it only luke warm support. -more-

Berkeley Housing Authority agrees to force families from their public housing

By Lynda Carson
Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:13:00 PM

Recently released documents (dated March 8) reveal that in total violation of Berkeley's just cause eviction protections, the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) has agreed to force Berkeley's low-income public housing families out of their long-time public housing units, prior to the transfer of Berkeley's public housing properties to billionaires Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of The Related Companies of California, LLC, (a.k.a. Berkeley 75 Housing Partners, L.P.). -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Post-Traumatic Stress

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 02:41:00 PM

Post traumatic stress seems to exist when someone is trying to incorporate, assimilate or digest the memory of a horrible incident into their system. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Reversing the Sixties: The 2012 Republican Agenda

By Bob Burnett
Friday March 23, 2012 - 12:44:00 PM

One of the most surprising aspects of contemporary Republican politics has been their across-the-board attack on women’s health services and women’s rights. Rather than an isolated misogynistic program, these attacks should be viewed as one part of a conservative agenda to roll back gains made in the sixties.

Recently, MoveOn reported Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP’s War on Women ranging from changing the definition of rape to denying abortions in all circumstances to limiting access to contraception to defunding preschool programs and family planning agencies. It’s not only the women’s movement that’s being attacked, but also the civil-rights movement, the consumer movement, the environmental movement, and the gay-rights movement. All the accomplishments of the sixties are under attack by Republicans. They’ve returned to the conservative ideological framework that worked for them up until the McCain-Palin campaign, -more-

MY COMMONPLACE BOOK(a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:28:00 PM

Writers are forever eight, over aware, and indignant.

—Adam Gopnik New Yorker, 3/17/08 in an article categorizing types of artists by mental/temperamental age. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: People with Schizophrenia Lack Impulse Control, and How to Deal with This

By Jack Bragen
Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:11:00 PM

Medical scientists believe that the brain structure is abnormal for persons with a major mental illness such as schizophrenia. Some persons with schizophrenia, perhaps a third, have enlarged ventricles, or empty spaces within the brain, which translates into less overall ability to function, reason, and experience the environment. Other brains of persons with schizophrenia are closer to normal, with structural problems that are more subtle, and more localized to within only some areas. Because of this theory, it makes sense to believe that a person with schizophrenia will still have problems even while medicated. A lack of control of impulses is frequently one of those problems. -more-

SENIOR POWER… “plum silly”

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday March 23, 2012 - 12:55:00 PM

In 1976 Margaret Elliot Murdock was interviewed about her father and her San Francisco and UC, B early days. I gleaned herstory from her responses. Part 1 was mainly about her San Francisco childhood. Part 2 (last week’s column) took her to Berkeley and the University, and this week, Part 3 to the Sather Tower bells. -more-

Arts & Events

EYE FROM THE AISLE: RED at the Rep—weighed in the balance and found outstanding!

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 05:08:00 PM
David Chandler at Mark Rothko

An argument between two actors in poetic dialogue was the original basis of theatre. Whether Aeschlyus or Plato’s Dialogues, we revel in the deep ideas while we rejoice in the crafting of the argument and the fervor and wit with which it is delivered. -more-

AROUND & ABOUT OPERA: Erling Wold's new 'Certitude & Joy' at Bindlestiff Studio

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 05:08:00 PM

Erling Wold's new opera, 'Certitude & Joy' (title from Pascal), blends the stories from Chapter 22 of Genesis, Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac, with Lashaun Harris' s (of Oakland) 2005 drowning of her young sons at the Embarcadero in San Francisco from what she thought to be God's command. Staged by the ubiquitous Jim Cave (who also teaches at Laney), with six performers—singers, actors, dancers—'Certitude & Joy' plays with identity ... Lashaun, Abarham, God, Jesus—and Wold himself—all speak from various lips onstage. -more-

Don't Miss This on April Fool's Day

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday March 27, 2012 - 09:13:00 PM

So you're of the belief that April Fools Day is a modern, 20th Century celebration? Think again. April Fools Day can be traced back to the 1500's under the reign of Charles IX and the change in the Gregorian Calendar. On this day in 1700 English pranksters began popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools Day by playing practical jokes on each other. April Fools Day of this year offers embarrassment of riches -- art, drama, music, etc. You'll be hard pressed to make choices given the attractive events out there. -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT THEATER AND MUSIC: Theater & Music Classes at Northbrae Community Church

By Ken Bullock
Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:08:00 PM

Marion Fay, whose classes in theater and music have garnered a wide reputation, will be leading groups again this spring at Berkeley's Northbrae Community Church, near the tunnel from Berkeley to Solano Avenue. Theater Explorations, a three section class, and Music Appreciation, which meets Thursday mornings, will be offered. Theater Explorations participants will hear actors and directors speak, and see such productions as Arthur Schnitzler's 'Anatol' at Aurora Theatre, plus plays at the Berkeley Rep and Ashby Stage at discounted prices. Music Appreciation features meetings with composers, conductors and musicians from Berkeley and San Francisco Symphonies, who will discuss their work and perform, as well as trips to musical performances. No background in music is required. Both sponsored by Albany Adult Education. For information and to register online:

Book Review: 'A Coward's Guide to Self-Defense--Combat Tactics for the Thinking Person,' by David I. Marshall

By Ken Bullock
Friday March 23, 2012 - 01:08:00 PM

"Intensive martial arts training had gradually led me to a point of deep and painful recognition, pulling me toward the unexpected but undeniable: All the styles, systems, concepts, techniques, mindsets, myths, opinions, raging debates, and dear God, let's not forget secrets, don't necessarily work. At least not the way they've been advertised." -more-