The Week

A group of local activists (and occasional bystanders) joined in song to sing anti-Downtown Berkeley Association Christmas carols in the BART Plaza in an effort to bring awareness to the privatization of public space on Sunday, December 16th, 2012.
Ted Friedman
A group of local activists (and occasional bystanders) joined in song to sing anti-Downtown Berkeley Association Christmas carols in the BART Plaza in an effort to bring awareness to the privatization of public space on Sunday, December 16th, 2012.


New: Body Found In Water Near Oakland Marina Identified as Berkeley Man

By Zack Farmer (BCN)
Monday December 31, 2012 - 06:26:00 PM

The body of a man found near the Oakland Marina at Jack London Square on Saturday has been identified as Richard Rice, 59, of Berkeley, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau.

Police received a call at 9:06 a.m. of a possible body in the water near the marina. When officers and medical personnel arrived, they found Rice's body, police said. -more-

New: Governor Brown Appoints Two Berkeley Attorneys to Superior Court

Friday December 28, 2012 - 08:23:00 AM

Gov. Jerry Brown today announced the appointments of six new judges to fill vacancies on Bay Area superior courts.

Oakland-based attorney Kimberly Colwell, a Berkeley resident, and public-interest lawyer Brad Seligman, also of Berkeley, were named to serve with Alameda County Superior Court.

Seligman, 61, is the founder and former executive director of the Berkeley-based Impact Fund, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in economic-justice class-action lawsuits.

The fund led what would have been the nation's largest class-action job discrimination lawsuit, in a federal case filed against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on behalf of 1.5 million present and former women workers. -more-

Isolation, Displacement and Disenfranchisement—What Berkeley Misses (Personal Essay)

By Thomas Lord
Wednesday December 19, 2012 - 07:52:00 AM

I live in Berkeley, California. Yes, that Berkeley. I have long hair. I don't often wear tie-dye t-shirts anymore but I think I still own some. I think everyone who lives in my apartment building is college educated or close to it. The public schools are said to be pretty good. There is a very large, very well maintained public park nearby and kids' leagues from surrounding cities come to make use of the two well groomed baseball diamonds. (The tennis courts, tot playground, community center, picnic areas, recently resurfaced basketball courts and unofficial but tolerated off-hours dog park are also very popular.) Our City Council on Tuesday took up a resolution against allowing civilian or law enforcement drones here—an item put forth by the "Peace and Justice" council-appointed citizen's commission. That commission is one of many citizen commissions that operate with funded support from city staff and help to create and shape local public policy. While my block and neighborhood are high on the list of poorest, relative to the rest of the city, the city as a whole is very affluent. By population I think we are about 4 times larger than Newtown and by land area we are almost 6 times smaller. One of the most bitter battles in the recent election was a narrowly decided zoning issue regarding our light industrial zone (and its possible up-zoning). -more-

California Democrats in Congress Ignore Platform Call to Cut Military Spending (Opinion)

By Nicholas Carlin
Wednesday December 19, 2012 - 07:46:00 AM

Why are Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and the entire California congressional delegation ignoring the mandate of their own party to cut the military budget by at least 25%? -more-

Putting the Hammer Down on Guns (News Analysis)

By Gar Smith
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 12:46:00 PM

"Today is not the day for a debate on gun control."

-- Presidential Spokesman Jay Carney

Note to Jay Carney: "If not now, when?"

Twenty children, ages 5 to 10, are mercilessly gunned down in the protected sanctuary of their Connecticut schoolroom and this does not call for a public debate? Is the US Gun Lobby really so powerful that the White House spokesperson feels his first duty is to call for a ban on public debate -- instead of a ban on the very weapons that created this tragedy?

We should move to ban the ownership of military assault rifles and other high-powered weapons of mass destruction. These weapons are unsuitable for recreational target practice or hunting. They are clearly unsuited for the urban environment. Congress has already acted to outlaw the ownership of machineguns and banned the possession of bazookas.
This leaves the question of handguns. In searching for solutions to the risks of concealed weapons and Saturday Night Specials, we needn't raise the troublesome debate over Second Amendment "rights" to own a handgun. There are many things we can do, short of a ban on handguns and none of these approaches would violate the most reactionary interpretations of the Second Amendment. -more-

Ambassadors for Whom? Occupy Your Merchant Association, 12-11-12 (News Analysis)

By Carol Denney
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 11:31:00 AM

Most people think they’re ridiculous, but harmless. They walk around downtown Berkeley in bright lime green shirts identifying themselves as “ambassadors”, a new version of an older program which hit the wall years ago as a kind of homeless patrol doling out “services” to some and calling the police on others. The merchant association claims the “ambassadors” work on making the downtown more welcoming. -more-

Stephan Garabed Jarjisian

By Jackie Childers
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 11:29:00 AM
Stephan Garabed Jarjisian and Jackie Childers along the California Coast

Stephan Garabed Jarjisian, or Steve as everyone knew him, was a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. He was known by many students, as he was an graduate instructor for several classes including Animal Behavior and the Psychology of Sleep. He was finishing his doctoral dissertation under the advisement of Dr. Irving Zucker at the time of his tragic death. -more-

Press Release: Nurses to Picket 21 Kaiser Permanente Hospitals Today--
Short Staffing, Especially in ER, Mental Healthcare, Prompts Protest

From California Nurses' Association
Wednesday December 19, 2012 - 08:20:00 AM

Citing inadequate nurse staffing in emergency care, mental health services and other hospital areas, registered nurses and nurse practitioners will picket 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals from Santa Rosa to Fresno today. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Firefighters To Fill Over 800 Holiday Grocery Bags For Seniors

Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 11:35:00 AM

Berkeley Firefighters and dozens of volunteers will be preparing over 800 Holiday grocery bags this Saturday (Dec. 22). The bags will be filled with chickens, fresh fruits and vegetables, and canned food for Berkeley’s elderly, then delivered directly to their homes. -more-

New: Child Watching at the Y (First Person)

By Tennessee Reed
Saturday December 22, 2012 - 07:53:00 AM

At the YMCA in downtown Berkeley, it is possible to have the monthly membership fee waived if you volunteer four hours per week per month.

I became a member of the Berkeley Y in February of 2003, but I didn’t decide to volunteer there until October of 2010. I was asked to volunteer in Child Watch, where parents leave their kids for a couple of hours while they go work out elsewhere in the building. -more-

Nothing Better to Do Than the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday December 19, 2012 - 08:11:00 AM
Holiday Fair on Teley, as it concluded Sunday. More rain fell later.

I thought I had better things to do, but that was before I attended the opening day of the fair, and found that there is nothing in the world better to do than the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair. -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

News Of Interest to Berkeley

Friday December 28, 2012 - 08:39:00 AM

Two articles of interest to Berkeley have appeared in other media over the holidays. We'll have more in this space about these topics in the new year, but these links will keep you abreast of developments.

First, some Southern California developers, aided and abetted by Berkeley's ex-planning director land-use-planning manager Mark Rhoades, husband of Erin Rhoades (honcho of the Livable Berkeley developers' lobbying group) have drawn a bulls-eye on the old Hinks department store building, now home to the thriving Shattuck Cinemas. They propose to demolish much of the historic structure in order to construct a 17-story luxury apartment building, complete with a four-story parking garage. You don't really believe that this is "transit-friendly", do you? Residents of luxury apartments surely will have at least one auto per occupant. Here's a good story from Berkeleyside, complete with links to the promoters' press release.

Carolyn Jones in today's Chronicle covers the on-going story of another demolition in the works, the city of Berkeley's demolition-by-neglect of the Maudelle Shirek Old City Hall, a gorgeous Beaux Arts building which city officials have negligently allowed to decay. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin is determined to reverse the process. Read about it here.


Odd Bodkins: Positive Attitude (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Saturday December 22, 2012 - 12:22:00 AM

Odd Bodkins: You Can't Always Get What You Want (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 12:49:00 PM

Public Comment

NRA Shoots Self in Foot and Other Comments

By Jack Bragen
Thursday December 27, 2012 - 08:55:00 PM

Spokespersons for NRA are suggesting that we put armed guards in elementary schools, and that we should crack down (in their words, “adjudicate”) persons with psychiatric illnesses. The idea of bringing armed guards into the public school system seems completely bogus to anyone who can think. -more-


New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: 2012: “Are You Serious?” Awards

By Conn Hallinan
Monday December 31, 2012 - 06:18:00 PM

Every year Dispatches From The edge gives awards to news stories and newsmakers that fall under the category of “Are you serious?” Here are the awards for 2012. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: John Boehner’s Failure

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 28, 2012 - 08:20:00 AM

As Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner is second in line to be President. And since the defeat of Mitt Romney, the Speaker has been the titular head of the Republican Party. While Boehner has political status and power, his inept handling of the fiscal cliff negotiation shows he’s not a leader. He’s a failure. -more-

New: ECLECTIC RANT: Is the U.S. Finally Serious About Gun Control?

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday December 27, 2012 - 09:16:00 PM

In his article, "America as a Gun Culture," historian Richard Hofstadter popularized the phrase "gun culture" to describe America's long-held affection for firearms, with many citizens embracing and celebrating the association of guns and America's heritage. According to Hofstadter, the right to own a gun and defend oneself is considered by some, especially those in the South and the Southwest, as a central tenet of the American identity. -more-

New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Four More Years: The Asia Pivot

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday December 27, 2012 - 08:57:00 PM

In March 1990, Time Magazine titled an article “Ripples in The American Lake.” It was not about small waves in that body of water just north of Fort Lewis, Washington. It was talking about the Pacific Ocean, the largest on the planet, embracing over half of humanity and the three largest economies in the world. Time did not invent the term—it is generally attributed to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Pacific commander during WW II—but its casual use by the publication was a reflection of more than 100 years of American policy in this immense area.

The Asia-Pacific region has hosted four American conflicts—the Spanish American War, the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War—and is today the focus of a “strategic pivot,” although that is a bit of a misnomer, by the Obama administration. The Pacific basin has long been the U.S.’s number one trade partner, and Washington deploys more than 320,000 military personnel in the region, including 60 percent of its navy. The American flag flies over bases in Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, the Marshall Islands, Guam and Wake.

It is one of the most perilous regions on earth right now, and, for the first since the collapse of the old Soviet Union, two major nuclear powers are bumping up against one another. As volatile as the Middle East is, one of the most dangerous pieces of real estate on the planet are a scatter of tiny islands in the East China Sea, where China, Japan and the U.S. find themselves in the kind of standoff that feels distressingly like the Cold War. -more-

New: Can America Curb Gun Violence?

By Bob Burnett
Saturday December 22, 2012 - 08:01:00 AM

While Americans were horrified by the murders of 26 innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, many believe we lack the will to curb gun violence. Two years ago a crazed gunman severely wounded Representative Gabrielle Gifford and killed six others; we grieved for a few days and then returned to business as usual. Most Americans hope President Obama’s speech at the Vigil for Sandy Hook Shooting Victims portends real change. -more-


By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday December 20, 2012 - 10:03:00 AM

Think back to 1971 and Klute. It succeeded because of Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels, a gritty needy call girl who, through psychoanalysis and a relationship with a detective, develops strength to begin a different life. Fonda was thirty-two years old. Nine years later, in Nine to Five, she snapped out of sweet Judy Bernley’s diffidence with the memorable “You’re a sexist egotistical lying hypocritical bigot!” Try saying it fast. There were other brilliant performances – Julia, Coming Home, and The Dollmaker readily come to my mind. But recently, Jane Fonda has sold her name to things not worthy of her talent, for example, Georgia Rule (2007) and Monster-in-Law (2005).

Now Jane Fonda is seventy-five years old.

And if we all lived together? (Et si on vivait tous ensemble?) is a 2011 French-German comedy film. It asks the usually-unspoken, senior citizens’ what if question. Instead of risking nursing homes, or housing projects, or so called assisted living, or being alone, or other ghastly unknowns, what if we all lived together, instead? Of course there’s an assumption or two or three in there. Number one is that one of us will always be willing and able to care and cope. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: A Woman's Place is in Combat Too

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday December 20, 2012 - 09:57:00 AM

The ban on women in combat in ground combat units is one of the last vestiges of sexism. Under the guise of protecting the "weaker" or "fairer" sex, the armed forces discriminate against women by deniying them the perks of serving in combat positions. -more-

Arts & Events

The Central Park Five: The Tortured Confessions behind the 'Wilding' Hoax-- Now playing at the Shattuck Cinema in Berkeley

By Gar Smith
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 11:51:00 AM
Korey Wise, a child forced to confess to a crime he did not commit.

If you think Bradley Manning is getting a bum rap (and he is), consider the case of the Central Park Five. -more-

Film Review: Rust and Bone: A Love Story with Blood and Bruises

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday December 18, 2012 - 11:37:00 AM
Schoenaerts and Cotillard

Opens December 21 at the Embarcadero and Sundance Kabuki Theatres in San Francisco

Opens January 11 at Berkeley's Shattuck Theatre

Director Jacque Audiard's uncompromising new film, Rust and Bone, has a unique look and feel. The film begins with mesmerizing images of faces and forms flashing and fading in a daze of light and shadow — like tossed playing cards briefly glimpsed as they tumble past your eyes. The effect creates a sense of uncertainty that suggests a disquieting moral: "There are tides in life that draw us in unknowable directions. We are not in control of our fortunes. We can only influence — and sometimes rise above — the rubble of life's turbulence but we are never free and independent." -more-