Unstable Hillside Affects Traffic, Shuttles, Building 46
Unstable Hillside Affects Traffic, Shuttles, Building 46

Page One

New: Professor Warned of Berkeley Lab Slide Risk

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday January 16, 2013 - 03:14:00 PM

The Berkeley Lab (formerly known as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) reports on its website that “consistent rain over the last few months has destabilized the hillside above McMillan Road between Buildings 17 and 71. The hillside continues to inch toward the road, which has been closed as a precaution. A potential landslide warrants the road closure and relocation of Building 46 occupants.”

The site is in Strawberry Canyon, in the hills above the University of California at Berkeley campus, where new Berkeley Lab expansion building projects are now in progress.

The Planet has received a letter from Georgia Wright pointing out that the late Geology Professor Garniss Curtis had warned that building the original laboratory in this area was risky, and that future construction would also be problematical. Wright is the producer of a pair of short videos which focus on Curtis’ analysis. -more-

New: Berkeley Assemblymember and Others Respond to Obama Proposals to End Gun Violence

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Wednesday January 16, 2013 - 09:23:00 PM

President Obama unveiled this morning what he called "common-sense measures" to reduce gun violence after Vice President Joe Biden delivered recommendations earlier this week to prevent mass shootings like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last month. -more-

New: Ruptured Berkeley Water Main Repaired Overnight

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Wednesday January 16, 2013 - 09:20:00 PM

Thirty-six East Bay Municipal Utility District customers in Berkeley can turn on their faucets again today after a water main break left them without water service Tuesday afternoon. -more-

New: Mechanics Bank on Solano in Berkeley Robbed at Gunpoint

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Wednesday January 16, 2013 - 09:19:00 PM

A man robbed a Mechanics Bank in Berkeley at gunpoint this morning, a police spokeswoman said. -more-

One Life Span: A Letter to Children Born in 2013 (First Person)

By Bill Tilden
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:50:00 PM

This year, 2013, I will turn 70 years old. Although my outward appearance defines me as “old,” internally, I feel as vibrant and alert and as young as I did when I was in my thirties (a psychologist would call this “cognitive dissonance”). I would like to share the following insight with those of you who will be born this year, which I have observed from my newly attained vantage point:

Traditionally, we measure the past in terms of years or decades or generations (of 20 to 25 years), but if we measure history in terms of life spans (of say 70 years), the past is much, much closer than we imagine.

For example, (a) I was born in 1943, during World War II when Hitler’s armies had encircled Stalingrad and the Holocaust was raging; (b) a person who was 70 years old in the year of my birth would have been born in 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was president, eight years after the Civil War had ended and African-Americans had been freed from slavery; (c) an individual who was 70 years old in that year would have been born in 1803 when Thomas Jefferson was President and the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France; (d) a person who was 70 years old in that year would have been born in 1733, when Benjamin Franklin began his Poor Richard’s Alamanck; (e) a person who was 70 years old in that year would have born in 1663 20 years before Issac Newton published his Principia and when the Puritans theocrats ruled New England, and (f) a person who was 70 years old in that year would have been born in 1593, ten years before Queen Elizabeth I died and six years before Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.

So, if you placed me and these five individuals together in a classroom or at a cocktail party, between us, we would have witnessed and could have recounted our personal histories for the last 400 years, since the beginning of the modern era. Further, if you put 28 of us with consecutive lifespans together in a room, we could tell you personal, first-hand stories dating back to the Roman era and the birth of Jesus.

To those of you who will be born this year, I say: welcome to the human family; you are the living link to our future; please be conscious of how quickly history unfolds and how closely we are all related to one another. -more-

Public Comment

Clean Air Goes Up in Smoke – Again

By Carol Denney
Tuesday January 15, 2013 - 05:13:00 PM

The group of citizens who beseeched the Ad Hoc Committee on Smokefree Housing to protect their health walked away thinking that smokefree housing was getting closer, perhaps requiring only another year watching their families choke on secondhand smoke before finally being able to breath smokefree air.

They were wrong.

The preliminary memo from the Public Health Department, the committee chair confirms, embraces grandfathering smokers – leaving smokers in place – out of the same mythological fear of eviction which shipwrecked smokefree housing efforts five years ago. -more-

Unsafe Intersections

By Bill Kristy
Tuesday January 15, 2013 - 10:05:00 AM

When Berkeley Bowl opened on Heinz, right turns from northbound 9th Street onto Heinz Avenue were not allowed. Now that they are, the "bulge" of the sidewalk on the southeast corner of 9th and Heinz is very unsafe; it's bulge into Heinz leaves that spot on Heinz only a vehicle-width, which one needs more than in a turn. If there have been no accidents by vehicles turning, when encountering oncoming opposite-direction traffic on Heinz, it's only due to luck. Please remove this unsafe "bulge". -more-

Persons with Mental Illness Don't Need Guns

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday January 15, 2013 - 10:03:00 AM

I know someone, who is an acquaintance only, who said he intended to purchase a gun. He said, "I don't like the direction this country is going." This negative view of our President seems to be the excuse of many injudicious people who needed a justification for buying a weapon. In several states in The South, petitions have been circulated to "peacefully secede" from the U.S. -more-

Better Bad News: Alternate Reality

By George Coates
Tuesday January 15, 2013 - 06:07:00 PM

Ralph E. Stone's ill considered column about the CIA Pentagon co -production, Zero Dark Thirty (BDP Jan 11. 2013) promotes torture as a tool for combatting terror while perpetuating the myth that foreigners attacked the US on 9/11. -more-


Whatever Happened on the Way to the High-Tech Downtown Berkeley Start-ups?

By Becky O'Malley
Friday January 11, 2013 - 12:07:00 PM

Saying “I told you so”, as Cassandra could have attested, does nothing to make you popular. But a little bit of schadenfreude is perhaps understandable in this case.

Not even a full year ago, in this very space, I said that “As a (retired) entrepreneur who’s actually participated in starting something up, I can testify that adding one more bureaucrat to the Mayor’s office staff won’t make a dime’s worth of difference to location decisions of nascent enterprises.”

The context for my gloomy prediction was an editorial suggesting that perhaps Judith Iglehart, the bureaucrat in question, erstwhile Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Berkeley, wasn’t the right person for the job of serving the citizens on behalf of their mayor. She was presumably hired because of her experience with high-tech startups both at UC Berkeley and in the marketplace, but she seems not to have produced any techno-miracles while she was a city employee, nor has she markedly improved the way Bates serves the public—though he did get re-elected.

And now, a year later, after collecting something in the range of a hundred thousand dollars or so from the citizens of Berkeley, Ms. Iglehart is bailing to create her own job in the private profit arena, according to a story on Berkeleyside.com. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Four More Years: Militarizing Latin America

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday January 16, 2013 - 03:05:00 PM

This past December marked the 190th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, the 1823 policy declaration by President James Monroe that essentially made Latin America the exclusive reserve of the United States. And if anyone has any doubts about what lay at the heart of that Doctrine, consider that since 1843 the U.S. has intervened in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Uruguay, Granada, Bolivia, and Venezuela. In the case of Nicaragua, nine times, and Honduras, eight.

Sometimes the intrusion was unadorned with diplomatic niceties: the U.S. infantry assaulting Chapultepec Castle outside Mexico City in 1847, Marines hunting down insurgents in Central America, or Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing pursuing Pancho Villa through Chihuahua in 1916.

At other times the intervention was cloaked in shadow—a secret payoff, a nod and a wink to some generals, or strangling an economy because some government had the temerity to propose land reform or a re-distribution of wealth.

For 150 years, the history of this region, that stretches across two hemispheres and ranges from frozen tundra to blazing deserts and steaming rainforests, was in large part determined by what happened in Washington. As the wily old Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz once put it, the great tragedy of Latin America is that it lay so far from God and so near to the United States.

But Latin America today is not the same as was 20 years ago. Left and progressive governments dominate most of South America. China has replaced the U.S. as the region’s largest trading partner, and Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela have banded together in a common market, Mercosur, that is the third largest on the planet. Five other nations are associate members. The Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean State have sidelined that old Cold War relic, the Organization of American States. The former includes Cuba, but excludes the U.S. and Canada.

On the surface, Mr. Monroe’s Doctrine would appear to be a dead letter.

Which is why the policies of the Obama administration vis-à-vis Latin America are so disturbing. After decades of peace and economic development, why is the U.S. engaged in a major military buildup in the region? Why has Washington turned a blind eye to two successful, and one attempted, coups in the last three years? And why isn’t Washington distancing itself from the predatory practices of so-called “vulture funds,” whose greed is threatening to destabilize the Argentinean economy? -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Zero Dark Thirty: Turning the Spotlight on US Use of Torture.

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:38:00 PM

Everybody knows that Osama bin Laden was killed by a team of Navy SEALS on May 2, 2011. The film Zero Dark Thirty involves the ten-year search for bin Laden, pitting Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who believes bin Laden is likely hiding in plain sight, against the non-believers, which builds up to an action-packed climax where bin Laden is killed. The title of the film is spy-jargon for "half past midnight," the time of bin Laden's death. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Zombie Politics: 2013 Republicans

By Bob Burnett
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:36:00 PM

Originally a “zombie” was a reanimated corpse, but recently the term has expanded to signify a person under a spell without consciousness and self-awareness. A contemporary Republican politician. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Recovery is a Lifelong Endeavor

By Jack Bragen
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:52:00 PM

When someone is correctly diagnosed with a major mental illness, the path of life is changed indelibly. The individual is on a path of either recognizing and dealing with his or her psychiatric illness, or being in denial and having a path of repeated disasters. Either way, an individual newly diagnosed with psychiatric illness does not usually have an easy destiny. -more-

Arts & Events

Around & About the Performing Arts: Marion Fay's Music & Theater Appreciation Classes

By Ken Bullock
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:33:00 PM

For years now, Marion Fay's led a remarkable series of adult ed classes in both music and theater appreciation at the Northbrae Community Church (941 The Alameda, Berkeley, near Solano Avenue & the tunnel), with visiting composers, conductors and musicians of the SF, Berkeley and Oakland Symphonies, who discuss and perform their work, and actors and directors for the theater classes, which also feature field trips to performances, at discount prices, with post-show discussions. -more-

Around & About Entertainment: The 13th Edwardian Ball & World's Faire

By Ken Bullock
Friday January 11, 2013 - 01:29:00 PM

How do you pigeonhole the now-13 year-old Edwardian Ball & World's Faire, a cascade of wonders and diversions, on January 18-19 at the old Regency Ballroom on Van Ness at Sutter, in the same complex as the old Avalon?
In a town once famous for exotic events—and rave-up balls—the Edwardian is probably the closest to the good old days, before the remnants of the others became stale, commercial—or just ceased to exist. Something nostalgic—and refreshing.
Featuring the staging of an Edward Gorey tale, The Doubtful Guest (with the blessings of the Gorey Charitable Trust), with original music and choreography, the other wonders and diversions include parlor games, steam machinery, aerial performances, period technology, games, fashion shows, a museum of wonders—and of course, dancing in the ballroom to live music and DJs ...
Friday the 18th is the Edwardian World's Faire, with special events including the Wanderlust Circus Orchestra from Portland; Saturday is teh Edwardian Ball. Both start at 8, but on Saturday there's the Vendor Bazaar and Piano Saloon from noon to 5, accessible separately for $5, or free with admission to the main events at night.
Founded by Rosin Coven, co-hosted by Vau de Vire Society, with a Ball also at the Fonda Theatre in LA on February 23.
Tickets & VIP passes: $30-$90 at: bit.ly/edwardian13 or at the door -more-