The Week

Santa occupied a stretch of Downtown sidewalk for the tree lighting festivities and wasn’t told to move along.
Steven Finacom
Santa occupied a stretch of Downtown sidewalk for the tree lighting festivities and wasn’t told to move along.


New: The Last Dermatologist to the Poor

By Ted Friedman
Friday December 14, 2012 - 05:23:00 PM
Chinese comedian, left foreground; overflow crowd, background.

What may be the last dermatologist to Oakland's poor happens to be my dermatologist, as well. That this is the case says something about us both, but I'd rather cover his story. -more-

Berkeley Students Protest Move to Ban on Salvation Army on Campus

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday December 13, 2012 - 11:40:00 PM

A student group at the University of California at Berkeley took to a campus plaza this morning to protest the student government's proposal to ban Salvation Army donation bins on campus. -more-

New: Motorcyclist Killed in Berkeley Crash Identified

By Bay City News
Thursday December 13, 2012 - 12:53:00 PM

A motorcyclist who was killed in a collision with another car in Berkeley on Wednesday has been identified by the Alameda County coroner's bureau as 32-year-old Stephan Jarjisian. -more-

New: The University of California's Two Big Mistakes: The New Logo and the Berkeley Stadium (Opinion)

By Christopher Adams
Wednesday December 12, 2012 - 04:58:00 PM

I worked for 27 years at the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and then finished my career at the new UC campus in Merced. So I think I know a little about what goes on, or at least what should go on. UCOP sets overall policy, but the campuses plan and propose projects, UCOP reviews, and the regents approve. Two terrible things have happened to UC this year: the design of an absurdly ugly and unnecessary logo that some have compared to a flushing toilet and the revelations about the huge and unpaid debt for the Cal football stadium. And both problems I would submit are a result of UCOP malfeasance. -more-

New: FCPC Meeting to Discuss Possible Violations by Landlord-Financed TUFF Rent Board Candidates

By Rob Wrenn
Wednesday December 12, 2012 - 02:55:00 PM

On Thursday, Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC) will consider possible violations of the Berkeley Election Reform Act by Berkeley Tenants United For Fairness (TUFF) rent board candidates. -more-

Why It’s Hard to Replace the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Metaphor

By George Lakoff
Tuesday December 04, 2012 - 10:39:00 PM

Writers on economics have been talking since the election about why the “fiscal cliff” metaphor is misleading. Alternative metaphors have been offered like the fiscal hill, fiscal curb, and fiscal showdown, as if one metaphor could easily be replaced by another that makes more sense of the real situation. But none of the alternatives has stuck, nor has the fiscal cliff metaphor been abandoned. Why? Why do some metaphors have far more staying power than others, even when they give a misleading picture of a crucial national issue? -more-

Berkeley DBA Sidewalk Santa Rings in the Holidays

By Steven Finacom
Monday December 03, 2012 - 05:39:00 PM

The presence of an elderly, out-of-town man with flowing white beard and eccentric bright red clothing who brought a chair and sat for hours on the sidewalk adjacent to Berkeley’s Downtown BART station did not deter scores of excited children and adults from flocking to the plaza on a rainy Friday evening for a festive event—the ceremonial lighting of a holiday tree by the Downtown Berkeley Association. -more-

New: Berkeley: More than 900 Ambulance Users May Have Had Data Stolen

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Saturday December 01, 2012 - 11:29:00 AM

Berkeley officials said today that more than 900 people who were taken to hospitals by Berkeley Fire Department crews may have had their personal information stolen by an identity theft ring.

City officials said their ambulance-billing vendor, Advanced Data Processing Inc., which is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told them that they learned in October that patient information of some of the city's ambulance customers was inappropriately accessed by one of their employees in conjunction with a scheme to commit identity theft. -more-

Who's Responsible for the Fire That Killed 112 Garment Workers? (Opinion)

By David Bacon, Progressive Media Project
Saturday December 01, 2012 - 11:28:00 AM

The day after Black Friday demonstrations of workers and supporters in front of hundreds of Walmart stores across the US., a fire killed 112 workers making clothes for Walmart at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh. This was the most recent of several such factory fires, leading to the deaths of another 500 young women. -more-

New: Bicyclist Shot in Berkeley Identified

By Bay City News
Wednesday December 05, 2012 - 11:16:00 PM

Police have identified a woman on a bicycle who was fatally shot in Berkeley late Tuesday night. -more-

Car Crashes into Berkeley Store

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Wednesday December 05, 2012 - 01:27:00 PM

An Albany man was arrested after crashing a car into a Berkeley liquor store on Tuesday night, a Berkeley police spokeswoman said. -more-

Woman on Bicycle Shot to Death on Derby Street in Berkeley

By Bay City News
Wednesday December 05, 2012 - 08:28:00 AM

A woman on a bicycle was fatally shot in Berkeley late Tuesday night, police said this morning. -more-

Press Release: Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act Introduced to Assembly

Tuesday December 04, 2012 - 10:51:00 AM

Building off of Rhode Island’s community effort, a coalition of West Coast organizations is working with Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) to introduce a Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights and Fairness Act today.

The bill’s author, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, said, “We need to stop criminalizing the behavior of people who have nowhere else to turn. People who are in need of mental health services or who have lost their jobs and their homes are being told, ‘Move along or go to jail.’ The Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights begins to give us a framework for appropriate approaches to protecting our communities and those who are vulnerable.”

“From the Ugly Laws of the mid-19th century—which made it a crime to have a visible disability in public—through the anti-Okie law of the Great Depression—which made it a crime for poor people to enter the state—up through the present, state and local governments have used unjust laws to punish or conceal poor people,” said Paul Boden, Organizing Director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). “But as long as these laws have existed, there’s been resistance. We’re introducing this bill of rights because we believe that the time has come to address the wrongs and most importantly stop them from ever happening again.” -more-

Public Hearing and Walk Will Focus on Aquatic Park

by Toni Mester
Friday December 07, 2012 - 05:53:00 PM
Recent flooding in Aquatic Park

A public hearing on the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) of the Aquatic Park Improvement Program (APIP) will be held on Wednesday evening December 12 from 7 to 8:30 at the James Kenney Center (2nd floor), 1720 Eighth Street.

Testimony will become part of the CEQA record with all questions to be answered by the consultant (Atkins) in the final EIR. The report is technical, but not impenetrable to those familiar with the Park and its problems. The APIP is mostly a hydrology project aimed at improving water quality through increased circulation and faster flushing of storm water runoff through the lagoons, the latter purpose being the more controversial.

Interested persons are invited to join a free walk on Sunday, December 9 that will leave the Waterside Café at 84 Bolivar Drive promptly at 11 AM, circling the Park clockwise, and ending at 1 PM at the Touchdown Plaza in front of the new Dona Spring Animal Shelter. The walk will be led by Mark Liolios (Aquatic Park EGRET) and Toni Mester (CESP), who will point out relevant features of the Park and explain the APIP proposals. Birders can enjoy watching the winter arrivals. Although the forecast is for bright and breezy weather, the ground is saturated from recent rains; participants should wear sturdy footwear and bring a water bottle. The Café will be open for coffee. Dogs are welcome but must be on leash. No reservations are required; just show up at the Café before 11 AM. -more-

Occupy Bay Area Takes Over Richard Blum's Corporation in San Francisco Tonight to Protest Sale of Post Offices

Monday December 03, 2012 - 04:43:00 PM

In solidarity with Save the Post Office Coalition’s action at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, December 4, participants of Occupy Bay Area United (OBAU) are staging an overnight occupation of Blum Capital Partners, at 909 Montgomery Street, starting at 4 pm Monday, December 3rd. -more-

Press Release: Save our Post Office! Rally on Tuesday, Dec. 4th at 11:30

From Dave Welsh, Save the Berkeley Post Office
Friday November 30, 2012 - 08:39:00 AM

Save our Post Office!

There will be a rally on Tuesday, Dec. 4th at 11:30 at the offices of Richard Blum, 909 Montgomery, San Francisco.

Towns and cities throughout the entire country are losing their historic post office buildings that were built with public monies. The giant real estate company CBRE advises the U.S. Postal Service on what post offices to sell and then profits as the listing agent. UC regent Richard Blum is the chairman of CBRE. Blum is married to California Senator Dianne Feinstein.

On Tuesday, December 4th. at 11:30 a.m. those of us outraged by this theft will meet at Richard Blum's office, Blum Capital, 909 Montgomery (and Pacific) to Rally and then March to Senator Diane Feinstein's office, 1 Post Street at Market Street. -more-



We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday December 12, 2012 - 03:01:00 PM

It’s the time of year when many who follow religious traditions, particularly those which arose in the deserts of what Europeans call the Middle East, organize celebrations based on their long history. The approaching winter solstice, the date when the day is shortest and the night is longest, has a lot to do with it. Europeans, particularly northern Europeans in the Christian lineage, need a lot of cheering up this time of year, what with the dark days and all.

But this year there are dark days in the Middle East as well. Angry clouds are on the horizon in many places, most prominently Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Israel. -more-

Berkeley Goes Berserkeley Once Again

By Becky O'Malley
Friday November 30, 2012 - 08:55:00 AM

Okay, okay, I think I might have to take it all back. Often enough, I’ve complained that the other media, the out-of-town media in particular, have done all too many “Berserkeley” stories, too many stories purporting to show that the silly season is year-round around here.

But then a story like this one comes along. The local CBS television outlet has skewered our recently re-elected mayor for his latest dog-in-the-manger move, attempting to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic—er, I mean on the Berkeley City Council dais.

Here’s the whole story, complete with a video clip that tells all. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Social Notes from All Over

Saturday December 15, 2012 - 10:34:00 AM

Here's a new entry in the Branding of Berkeley saga. It's a wordless evocation of every sentimental cliche beloved of Old Blues, content-free as befits the brave new world of commercialization of what used to be a respected institution of higher learning. -more-

Just Keep Checking This Space

Thursday December 13, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

It seems that many Planet “subscribers” (people who'’ve asked to get reminder letters with links to interesting updates) are confused by our abandonment of the Friday deadline schedule. Thanks, everyone, for letting us know. Some have made suggestions for changes, but unfortunately these seem to involve more work, not less. It’'s a good guess that readers who haven'’t joined the mailing list are also confused. -more-

There's More

Friday November 30, 2012 - 12:51:00 PM

Under the new plan, not much here yet . But don't forget to use the "Previous Issue" button at the top of the pages to check on everything posted in the last couple of weeks. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Holidaze (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Tuesday December 04, 2012 - 05:51:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: A Beginning (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Sunday December 02, 2012 - 09:20:00 PM

Public Comment

Disarm America

By James Sayre
Sunday December 16, 2012 - 10:34:00 PM

It is time for America to disarm, both at home and abroad. Since we have only 5% of the world’s population and 50% of military expenditures, we can safely reduce our military budget by 90%. This will free up money for health care and vast reconstruction of our crumbling infrastructure. We can withdraw from our eight-hundred military bases located in one-hundred foreign countries. -more-

New: Freedom of Information and its Loopholes

By Steve Martinot
Sunday December 09, 2012 - 09:13:00 PM

Freedom of information is supposed to represent transparency in the political process. But it brings with it an opaqueness. Development and urban improvement are supposed to represent "progress," but when they represent a top-down process that minimizes people's participation, that progress brings with it a regress.

The context for this rumination is a small set of short streets at the corner of Shattuck and Rose. Some local residents have approached the city manager and a couple of councilmembers with requests of information about plans and policies for this quaint little area. Some requests were met, others not. But it seems there were some secret, or at least unpublicized meetings last September between the city manager and the North Shattuck BID, to start changing the Shattuck-Rose neighborhood a bit.

Two questions lurk over the process of information requests from government, like buzzards on a bare tree limb, looking down at what will possibly be their next meal. The first is, did the government officials send all that they had that would fulfill the request, or was something withheld, for whatever reason, like evidence withheld by the police from the defense in a trial? Second, why do we have to go through this request process at all? Why isn't the information on all policy matters overtly present already, in the name of transparency? -more-

Problems at Alta Bates

By Linda Diamond
Sunday December 09, 2012 - 08:59:00 PM

The protracted labor dispute between Sutter and the nurses is now seriously jeopardizing patient safety. I hope the Planet does some investigative reporting into this situation. Sutter is seriously trying to destroy this hospital and break the nurses. I saw first hand the effects of nursing shortages over the weekend and watched the amazing few nurses on the oncology floor scramble to manage all the patients under untenable conditions. -more-

December Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Sunday December 02, 2012 - 09:23:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money. -more-


New: THE PUBLIC EYE: American Politics: I’m With Crazy

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 14, 2012 - 05:32:00 PM

As America completes an eventful political year, it’s increasingly apparent that many members of the Republican Party have lost their senses. December 4th brought PPP polling that revealed, “49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama,” despite the fact ACORN disbanded in 2010. That same day 38 Republican Senators blocked passage of the “UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities,” erroneously believing the treaty would allow the UN to dictate US law. -more-

New: ON MENTAL ILLNESS: An Invisible Disability

By Jack Bragen
Friday December 14, 2012 - 05:29:00 PM

Most persons who have a mental illness are in treatment of some kind. This allows most of us to live with some amount of normality, and to do many of the things that so-called "normal" people do. Because of this, it can be hard for others to understand that we have a psychiatric condition when, for the most part, we are acting normally as well as appropriately. -more-

New: SENIOR POWER “P-A-D is appropriate”

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Sunday December 09, 2012 - 09:01:00 PM

The Massachusetts ballot initiative to give terminally ill, mentally competent adults with six months or less to live the freedom to obtain a prescription for aid in dying was defeated. The right to be at liberty to die should have been an election issue everywhere. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Fiscal Cliff: Three Opportunities

By Bob Burnett
Sunday December 09, 2012 - 08:57:00 PM

When I was a child, it was common in large cities to see men carrying hand-written signs that proclaimed, “The end of the world is coming.” These days most doomsayers have blogs, but quite a few are Washington pundits who prophesy, “The fiscal cliff is coming.” It’s clear that “taxmageddon” is a disaster if Congress does nothing. Nonetheless, the crisis offers progressives three opportunities. -more-

New: ON MENTAL ILLNESS:Anxiety Revisted, Again

By Jack Bragen
Friday December 07, 2012 - 05:01:00 PM

Anxiety attacks are common for people with a major mental illness including when not part of the diagnosis. Some people with mental illness believe that they have a mixture of mental illnesses, e.g.; a little bit of everything. Their symptoms do not fit neatly into one or two categories. This is not uncommon and it may be related to being medicated. Anxiety can put a damper into a person's activities. If it is allowed to, anxiety will quickly grow into a giant specter and will take over large parts of a person's life. Anxiety seems to feed on its own energy. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Ending the U.S. Senate's Filibuster Rule

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday December 07, 2012 - 10:28:00 AM

There is increasing sentiment in the U.S. Senate to end or reform the filibuster. Supposedly, all seven of the newly elected senators and newly elected independent Angus King of Maine have pledged support for changing the Senate's filibuster rule. Presently, as we have seen in the last sessions of Congress, a 41-vote minority of Republican senators has effectively bottled up or killed legislation. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge:Four More Years: Central & South Asia

By Conn Hallinan
Saturday December 01, 2012 - 11:23:00 AM

From the ice-bound passes of the Hindu Kush to the blazing heat of the Karakum Desert, Central Asia is a sub-continent steeped in illusion. For more than two millennia conquerors have been lured by the mirage that it is a gateway to immense wealth: China to the east, India to the south, Persia to the west, and to the north, the riches of the Caspian basin. Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Mongols, British, and Soviets have all come and gone, leaving behind little more than forgotten graveyards and the detritus of war.

Americans and our NATO allies are next.

It is a cliché that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, but a cliché doesn’t mean something is not true, just that it is repeated over and over again until the phrase becomes numbing. It is a tragedy that the US was “numb” to that particular platitude, although we have company. In the past 175 years England has invaded Afghanistan four times. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Global Climate Change: Preparing for World War III

By Bob Burnett
Friday November 30, 2012 - 08:36:00 AM

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, 68 percent of Americans acknowledge, “Global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem.” Nonetheless, it’s unlikely that Washington has the political will to mobilize America to combat global warming. This grim reality is reminiscent of the beginning of World War II, when the US dithered for 21 months until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced us to act. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS:Dealing with a Diagnosis

By Jack Bragen
Friday November 30, 2012 - 08:31:00 AM

Becoming diagnosed with schizophrenia hurts. Just prior to the diagnosis, a person with mental illness very likely had an episode of psychosis that caused them to be diagnosed. An episode of full-blown psychosis is nothing to sneeze at-it is usually a horrible experience. Being told that you are mentally ill and that you will probably have this problem for the rest of your life adds insult to injury. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Telegraph Ave Holiday Street Fair Is Back

Saturday December 15, 2012 - 10:30:00 AM

The 29th Annual Telegraph Ave Holiday St. Fair is scheduled for 6 days this year: Friday, Dec. 14th and Saturday, Dec.15th; Sunday, Dec.16th and Saturday, Dec.22nd; Sunday, Dec.23rd and Monday ,Dec.24th -more-

New: Musical Theater Review: Splendid Revival of 'Pal Joey' by 42nd Street Moon--this weekend only

By Ken Bullock
Friday December 14, 2012 - 05:24:00 PM

"Don't analyze it. If you take it apart, you might not be able to put it back together." So Vera Simpson's wry advice on life to her brazen young "protege," nightclub entertainer Joey Evans, the Joey of the title of Rodgers & Hart's masterful, knowing 1940 musical, 'Pal Joey,' staged as a splendid piano-accompanied, full costume, well-choreographed revival by 42nd Moon--just through this weekend. -more-

Occupy Your Merchant Association

By Carol Denney
Wednesday December 12, 2012 - 05:03:00 PM

Sick of having merchant associations run target-the-homeless campaigns under the guise of creating a “welcoming” downtown? Feel like singing? At noon on Sunday, December 16th at the BART plaza (Shattuck @ Center, Berkeley) we’re going to have an anti-Downtown Berkeley Association Christmas caroling gathering - songbooks provided- for about half an hour. Dickens Fair attire optional, instruments welcome, and here's a sample: -more-

Theater Review: Inferno Theatre's Original 'Dracula' at Historic South Berkeley Community Church

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday December 05, 2012 - 03:52:00 PM

"Children of the Night! What music they make!"

Count Dracula has exulted in those words to his querulous guest Jonathan Harker, upon hearing wolves howl near daybreak, whether in Bram Stoker's original novel or Bela Lugosi's performances as The Count on Broadway and in Tod Browning's movie ... but no version of 'Dracula' I know of has such a musical undertow as Inferno Theatre's original take on the story, now playing at the historic Arts & Crafts-designed South Berkeley Community Church.

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Berkeley Symphony This Thursday--"The Rebels"--Ligeti, Robert Schumann ... & Berkeley's Dylan Mattingly

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday December 05, 2012 - 09:08:00 AM

Thursday night, December 6, at 8, Berkeley Symphony will perform "The Rebels," another eclectic pick of compositions that spans the modern history of the orchestra, as Joana Carneiro's been wont to program ... but this one with an unusual local twist, featuring Gyorgi Ligeti's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, with Shai Wosner as soloist, with Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2--and Invisible Skyline by Berkeley native Dylan Mattingly, the world premiere of a Symphony commission. -more-

Theater Review: 'Wilder Times'—four short plays by Thornton Wilder—at the Aurora

By Ken Bullock
Monday December 03, 2012 - 04:50:00 PM

"Whenever you get near the human race, there are layers and layers of nonsense." -more-

Around & About Theater: 'Fierce Play' Series by Ragged Wing Ensemble

By Ken Bullock
Monday December 03, 2012 - 04:40:00 PM

This weekend, Ragged Wing Ensemble is premiering a new series of short performances by members of that talented group, Fierce Play ... -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra Performs All-Mozart Concerts

From Elaine Hooker
Friday November 30, 2012 - 01:09:00 PM

The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra will perform three all-Mozart concerts in December under the direction of Music Director Ming Luke. The concerts are free and open to the public.

BCCO will perform the Great Mass in C minor, K. 427; Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201; and Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618. The concerts will be Sunday, Dec. 2, at 4:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St., Berkeley; Saturday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus; and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 4:30 p.m. at Hertz Hall. -more-

UC Berkeley Holiday Offerings

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 30, 2012 - 11:21:00 AM

While it’s a secular institution and also largely shuts down during the Christmas / New Year’s week, the UC Berkeley campus does have sources of winter holiday gifts and cheer. Several of them come at the end of November / beginning of December. Here’s a short overview. -more-

Press Release: Seth Rosenfeld Will Discuss "Subversives" on Monday in Berkeley

Friday November 30, 2012 - 11:13:00 AM

University Press Books welcomes Seth Rosenfeld for a discussion of his new book, Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals and Reagan's Rise to Power at the Musical Offering Cafe .on Monday, December 3rd, from 6:30-7:30,with a book signing to follow, at 2430 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. -more-