The Week

 Marina-Most Beautiful Statement
Gar Smith
Marina-Most Beautiful Statement


New: Attackers Near Campus in Berkeley Used Pepper Spray on Victims

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Friday February 22, 2013 - 05:48:00 AM

Three female suspects attacked two female victims in an attempted robbery on the southside of the University of California at Berkeley campus last Friday night, Berkeley police said. -more-

Flash: Suspect Gone from Police Search Area on Oakland-Berkeley Border

By Bay City News
Friday February 15, 2013 - 07:49:00 PM

The Oakland police SWAT team searched an apartment on Shattuck Avenue this evening looking for a suspect in an earlier shooting but found the apartment empty and are dismantling their search perimeter, an Oakland police officer said. -more-

Graffitirazzi – Valentine's Day Sidewalk Edition

By Gar Smith
Thursday February 14, 2013 - 12:41:00 AM

Berkeley's Hippie Gypsy dinner (1797 Shattuck Avenue) recently celebrated a birthday. Now, if your café is called "hippie gypsy," what better way to spread the word than by staging a chalk-in on the sidewalk! -more-

Flash: Man Dies in Police Custody in Berkeley

By Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Thursday February 14, 2013 - 09:33:00 AM

A man died in police custody Tuesday night in Berkeley, police said. -more-

An Anti-nuclear Half-Life Celebration Rocks an East Bay Night

By Gar Smith
Thursday February 14, 2013 - 12:46:00 AM
Jackie Cabasso

You know you've accomplished something when a birthday rolls around and Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich and Daniel Ellsberg all show up for the party. That was the case on February 10, when the Western States Legal Foundation marked its 30th year as a nuclear watchdog. WSLF's spirited "Half Life" gala drew an energized gathering of activists that filled Oakland's First Congregational Church from the pulpit to the furthest pews. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley School Board Launches National Search for Next Superintendent

From Leah Wilson, BUSD School Board President

Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 09:02:00 AM

The Berkeley School Board is beginning its search for the next Superintendent of Schools. With the guidance of professionals from Ray & Associates, a highly experienced school executive search firm, the School Board is launching a nationwide search for candidates who have successfully improved academic outcomes for all student groups, and who exhibit a commitment to furthering the work of the 2020 Vision[1] and educating the whole child. -more-

Grammy for Recording of Works by Berkeley Composer John Adams

By Bay City News and Planet
Sunday February 10, 2013 - 10:20:00 PM

The San Francisco Symphony won a Grammy award today for a live concert recording of works by Berkeley composer John Adams in the category of Best Orchestral Performance, according to symphony officials. -more-

Berkeleyans Receive Awards from Society of Professional Journalists

Friday February 08, 2013 - 05:00:00 PM

The Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter (SPJ NorCal), has announced that it will honor “champions of open government and the First Amendment” at its 28th annual James Madison Awards banquet, to be held in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 12.

Two awards will go to Berkeley residents.

The “Citizen” award will go to Dean Metzger for leading the fight to enact the Berkeley Sunshine Ordinance.

The “Organization” award will go to Berkeley Copwatch, for “effective use of public records to block a Homeland Security grant for putting an armored military vehicle on the streets of Albany and Berkeley.”

In its citation of Metzger, the SPJ said: -more-

New: Dog Bites Berkeley Police Officer in Richmond

By Bay City News
Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 09:00:00 AM

Berkeley police officers conducting a search warrant in Richmond shot and killed two dogs this afternoon after one of the dogs bit an officer, Berkeley police said. -more-

Three Suspects Arrested for Allegedly Assaulting and Burglarizing Man in Berkeley

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:08:00 PM

Three suspects, including a juvenile, have been arrested in West Sacramento for allegedly assaulting and burglarizing a man at his house in the Berkeley Hills in December, police said. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Department Arrests Senior Avenue Burglars

From Officer Stephanie Polizziani
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:05:00 PM

On December 11, 2012 at 3:17 PM, a resident of Senior Avenue returned to his house after walking his dog. The resident saw an unfamiliar car parked in the driveway of his house, occupied by a female sitting in the driver seat. At the same time, the resident heard noises coming from inside his house. When the resident went to check on the noises, he observed two males coming out of his house. The males ran to the car that was in the driveway. The resident tried to stop the car from leaving, and while doing this he was knocked to the ground. While on the ground, the car ran over the resident’s leg which resulted in minor injuries. The car fled north out of the area. Berkeley Police Officers arrived and discovered the resident’s house had been burglarized and several items were taken by the suspects. BPD initiated a felony assault and burglary investigation and processed the scene for evidence. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Post Office Sale Hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 26th at 7

From Margot Smith
Friday February 08, 2013 - 03:42:00 PM

The US Postal Service Public Hearing on the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office is on Tuesday, February 26th, at 7:00 PM., at Berkeley City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. After the meeting, the 15 day public comment period commences. Following that, the USPS can decide whether or not to sell our building, with a short period designated for appeals.

The City of Berkeley finally received a confirmed date from the US Postal Service for the public hearing on the proposed sale of the historic main post office on Allston Way. Towns and cities throughout the nation, like Berkeley, may lose these historic sites which were built with public funds. The giant realty firm CBRE headed by UC Regent Richard Blum advises the USPS on which buildings to sell, and CBRE makes a tidy profit as listing agent when sales go through.

Come to the hearing on Tuesday, February 26th, when we citizens outraged at this proposed sale and the Save The Berkeley Post Office group will tell the USPS our views. We hope to make a difference! -more-

Press Release: City of Oakland Launches Open Data Platform to Spur Civic Innovation

From Karen Boyd, Office of the Oakland City Administrator
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:57:00 PM

Oakland, CA — Announcing the launch of its open data platform today, the City of Oakland has joined the ranks of other forward-thinking government organizations around the world that are using Open Data as a platform for increased civic engagement and government transparency, improved decision making, and more efficient and effective service delivery. -more-

New: In Defense of Pigskin

By Gar Smith (with apologies to George Carlin)
Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 11:21:00 AM

In the run-up to Superbowl Sunday, National Public Radio played a recording of George Carlin's classic comparison of football and baseball. Carlin depicts football as a game of war-like combat while baseball is a genteel sport — e.g., football players wear "helmets"; baseball players wear "caps." Baseball is "pastoral;" football is "technological." [You can catch Carlin's sketch on YouTube at: or view it here.] -more-

Grafittirazzi #1

By Gar Smith
Friday February 08, 2013 - 05:37:00 PM
Last week, in a failed search to find an electrician, I drove down Allston Way to the foot of the Bay. On the way back, I discovered a hidden mural painted along a railroad track and took two photos. Imagine!

This will be an ongoing feature in the Planet. -more-



Building Boom Will Turn Downtown Berkeley into East Frisco

By Becky O'Malley
Monday February 11, 2013 - 09:19:00 AM

In case you needed any more reasons to avoid Downtown Berkeley, Frances Dinkelspiel on the Berkeleyside website has provided a thorough tally of 1,000 more reasons why you’ll be shopping elsewhere in the future. She’s checked in with a bunch of commercial landlords, developers and developer-wannabes and documented their existing desires, including some actual entitlements, to add at least a thousand new apartments (with several thousand inhabitants and associated autos) to the area covered by Berkeley’s new Downtown Plan. The best thing you can say about this scenario is that it promises to create at least 2,000 SRO beds for the unemployed in a few years when the current high tech boom has gone bust as the boom did before it. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Current Issue Continues

Thursday February 14, 2013 - 09:35:00 AM

This issue will stay up for a week or so-- there will be no "new issue" dated Friday because the editor is traveling. Burglars Beware: the house-sitter at my house is there and is fierce, so don't try anything while I'm gone. I'll post what I can when I have Internet access. -more-

Return of the Red Van

Friday February 08, 2013 - 05:34:00 PM

Thanks to everyone who expressed their sympathy to me when it was stolen. The California Highway patrol located it on Wednesday in far East Oakland, regrettably minus catalytic converter, radio, a tire, etc. etc. The resulting commotion about getting it fixed delayed the editorial, but now it's in. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Long Distance Calling (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Monday February 11, 2013 - 03:32:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Home Sweet Home (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday February 08, 2013 - 05:25:00 PM

Bounce: FUNDamental Raising. (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Tuesday February 12, 2013 - 12:59:00 PM

Public Comment

New: "Luxury Apartments" or "Ecotower"?

By Vivian Warkentin
Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 11:29:00 AM

As a long time left leaning local environmental activist, I have been scratching my head over why our environmentally minded,(I thought) City of Berkeley equates environmentalism with high density big development projects, like the high rise apartment building featured as "luxury apartments" in Judith Sherr's article in the Jan. 18 issue of the "Berkeley Voice", and dubbed an "ecotower" by "East Bay Express" writer and editor Robert Gammon. Is environmentalism being turned on its head? Rosa Koire's book, "Behind The Green Mask: U.N.Agenda 21", telling of her similar experiences with the City of Santa Rosa and its relationship to international interests, is a stunning eye opener. -more-

Reforms For CEQA? – Watch Out!

By Gary Patton
Monday February 11, 2013 - 12:41:00 PM

You have probably heard talk about “reforming” the California Environmental Quality Act. My advice? “Watch out!” The bill language proposed in the last two weeks of the legislative session last year would have eliminated all the benefits of California’s most important environmental law. When widespread “fracking” is on the horizon; when global warming and its impacts are ever more real; when water supplies are diminishing, and when huge and costly infrastructure projects (including desalination) are under consideration at the state and local level, this is not the time to weaken laws that protect our environmental quality. -more-

Israel’s Military Speak Out

By Jagjit Singh
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:54:00 PM

An Oscar-nominated documentary, "The Gatekeepers" provides a stark admission by six former heads of Israel’s internal security (akin to our FBI and CIA) of their agency’s methods of targeted killings of militants and civilians in the Occupied Territories, including torture and the suppression of mass protests during two intifadas. -more-

State of Equality and Justice in America: 'Fifty Years Later, the Lawyers' Committee Remains in the Vanguard'

By U. S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.)
Friday February 08, 2013 - 09:11:00 AM

"The State of Equality and Justice in America" is a 20-part series of columns written by an all-star list of contributors to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The contributors include: U. S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) LCCRUL 50th Anniversary Grand Marshal; Ms. Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL); Mr. Charles Ogletree, Professor, Harvard University Law School/Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., President/CEO, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Co-founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference; U. S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); and 14 additional thought leaders and national advocates for equal justice.

Here's the fifth op-ed of the series:

At a time when our nation needed its legal community to step forward and join in the struggle for equality, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law was born. I was privileged to be present in the East Room of the White House on the day that President Kennedy urged a group of 244 lawyers to use their training and influence to further the goals of the civil rights movement. -more-

Post Office Problems Afflict Berkeley Too

By Kate O'Connell
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:47:00 PM

Ah, the dear old USPS! As a public entity they are certainly beleaguered and beset on all sides, but the drift towards privatization is not the answer. -more-

Open Letter to City Attorney McKinney Re West Berkeley Crime

By Jon Alff
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:45:00 PM

Dear Ms. McKinney,

I have lived in West Berkeley for more than 18 years. I am proud of my neighborhood and have been active with my neighbors on many local projects over the years. I write you with deep gratitude for your work regarding the problems originating at 1722 Ninth Street, which is barely a block from my home.

As you know, the area has been subject to disturbing crime for years. Most of the crime originates with or involves several local properties. Everyone - residents and the Police - knows where the crime comes from. Drug houses, such as 1722 Ninth Street, and apartment buildings, such as 1011 Delaware and 1726 Tenth Street (and others), have been the primary sources of our problems. These properties have supported major drug dealing, prostitution and violent domestic situations on an ongoing rotating basis for decades. Each time something horrible happens there is a flurry of 'action'. Then everything quiets down only to return the same horrible problems once again.

Yesterday, people associated with the apartment building at 1011 Delaware Street endangered us for the second time in less than a year. Once again shots were fired. This time someone, highly suspected of drug and gang involvement, died. Thankfully, the bullets did not hit anyone else. Of course, these problems are not limited to West Berkeley - they are all over Berkeley. -more-

The Future of the Downtown Berkeley Post Office

By Stephen Statler
Saturday February 23, 2013 - 03:14:00 PM

The USPS plans to sell off the downtown Berkeley facility and have a smaller scale storefront Post Office nearby. I suggest instead that the scope of USPS occupied space in the existing facility be reduced and other Federal agencies move in. -more-


AGAINST FORGETTING: Pity the poor CVS workers and the customers and patients who toil there.

By Ruth Rosen
Thursday February 21, 2013 - 06:00:00 AM

Have you noticed that when you go to a CVS store, you find fewer and fewer things you’d written down on your list, that the shelves are emptier, that you can’t get common antibiotics at the pharmacy, and that getting refills, even though you’ve been reassured by phone they're waiting for you, often requires you to return in 20 minutes because of a glitch somewhere in their system? -more-

New: ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Taking a Pounding

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday February 20, 2013 - 06:39:00 PM

Persons with mental illness need to shoulder some of the responsibility for our actions, but this is not one hundred percent. A psychotic or bipolar illness can at times disconnect us from reality, and this means improper actions that we do not always control. -more-

New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Israel & Syria: Behind the Bombs

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday February 19, 2013 - 03:02:00 PM

Now that the dust has settled—literally and figuratively—from Israel’s Jan. 29 air attack on Syria, the question is, why? According to Tel Aviv, the bombing was aimed at preventing the transfer of sophisticated Russian SA-17 anti-craft missiles to Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon, which one former Israeli military intelligence officer said would be “a game-changer.” But there are major problems with that story. -more-

New: ECLECTIC RANT: Obama: End CIA-Directed Drone Strikes Now

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 11:10:00 AM

The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director intensified the opposition to CIA-directed drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Drones, by the way, are unmanned aerial vehicles either controlled from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. Unlike manned aircraft they can stay aloft for many hours. For example, Zephyr, a British drone under development, broke the world record by flying over 82 hours nonstop. Also, Drones are much cheaper than military aircraft and, because they are flown remotely, there is no danger to a flight crew. -more-

New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama 2013: In Your Face

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 11:07:00 AM

There was a lot to like about the President’s State-of-the-Union Address. Obama hit the right topics with passion lacking in many of his previous speeches to Congress. And he displayed an edge not seen in his first term. The President spoke of bipartisanship but his tone was confrontational. -more-

New: AGAINST FORGETTING: Rape: The All American Crime

By Ruth Rosen
Tuesday February 12, 2013 - 08:56:00 AM

The feminist writer Susan Griffin first used the title of this article in Ramparts Magazine in 1971. She was the first feminist to explain that men rape children, elderly and disabled women, not just girls dressed in mini- skirts. In other words, she challenged the belief that that rape was a sexual act, fueled by men’s irrepressible sexual drive. Instead, she argued that it was an assault against a woman, fueled by the desire to control and harm a woman, not a sexual act at all. -more-

AGAINST FORGETTING: What Will It Take to End Violence Against Women?

By Ruth Rosen
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:50:00 PM

Twenty years after the United Nations declared violence against women to be a violation of their human rights, we are still a long way from gender violence becoming unacceptable in a society. The outrage in India has ignited a necessary international conversation [16] about rape and violence against women worldwide -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Four More Years: Europe’s Meltdown

By Conn Hallinan
Friday February 08, 2013 - 04:36:00 PM

This is the last of five articles analyzing the key issues the Obama administration faces over the next four years. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama’s Biggest Challenge: Inequality

By Bob Burnett
Friday February 08, 2013 - 09:16:00 AM

As President Obama begins his second term, he’s not lacking for challenges, such as jobs, immigration and gun control, not to mention Afghanistan and Iran. Meanwhile, recalcitrant Republicans contest very move the President makes. But Obama’s biggest challenge, economic inequality, gets little attention from many politicians. -more-

New: ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Weathering a Storm

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday February 13, 2013 - 11:31:00 PM

When someone with mental illness goes through a difficult time period, it is important to take steps to take extra care of oneself. Too much of a crisis, if not dealt with well enough, can trigger a return of acute mental illness. The difficult event by itself, in the absence of quitting medications, is sometimes enough to trigger a relapse. On the other hand, such an event can get a person destabilized and upset to the point where we stop taking medication. The return of acute symptoms can happen either way. (And, in fact, sometimes a person with very severe schizophrenia has a relapse with no apparent event as a trigger.) -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Is Forced Treatment Okay?

By Jack Bragen
Friday February 08, 2013 - 09:04:00 AM

In most scenarios of medical treatment other than for mental illness, the adult patient has the final say concerning accepting treatment or not accepting it. In the case of a DNR for example (it stands for Do Not Resuscitate) the patient's choice is to pass away naturally instead of facing life as a "vegetable" hooked up to life support machines. In most medical scenarios, the exception to someone having a choice concerning treatment is when the patient is in a coma or in shock and can't be consulted. Even if a person is having a heart attack and needs to be treated urgently, it is my understanding that, if the person is still conscious, physicians will try and get a signature. -more-

SENIOR POWER:Driven in the ‘golden years’

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday February 08, 2013 - 03:45:00 PM

Studies show that elderly drivers can exercise their brains to prevent or delay age-related declines in their driving skills. Now scientists want to figure out how to apply that knowledge to help retirees preserve driving skills into their “golden years.” A University of Alabama, Birmingham researcher has already demonstrated that brain training does reduce the incidence of crashes among older drivers. -more-

Arts & Events

Updated: Verdi's Il Trovatore at Berkeley's Hillside Club This SUNDAY!! (and Saturday)

Wednesday February 20, 2013 - 06:29:00 PM

Verismo Opera will open its latest production, Verdi’s Il Trovatore,, this weekend at Berkeley’s Hillside Club.

Performances are on Saturday, February 23 at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 24 at 6:30pm . -more-

Around & About Theater: Openings--Inferno Theatre's Premiere of 'My Recollect Time' at South Berkeley Community Church; Central Works' 'The Grand Inquisitor' (from Dostoyevsky')

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday February 19, 2013 - 03:09:00 PM

--Innovative Inferno Theatre will premiere Berkeley playwright Jamie Greenblatt's 'My Recollect Time' in a run overlapping both Black and Women's History Months, with the true story of Mary Fields, a former slave, who after Emancipation journeyed to Montana via the Mississippi River, disguised as a riverman, and of her friendship with Mother Amadeus, a charismatic Ursuline nun. Directed and designed by founder Giulio Cesare Perrone in Inferno's highly visual style of gestural acting, true physical theater. With Nkechi, Valentina Emeri, Jamie Van Camp. Opening Friday at 9 p. m. at historic South Berkeley Community Church, 1802 Southview (just west of Adeline, two blocks south & west from Ashby BART). Thursdays through Sundays at 8 (except Sunday, March 3 at 5), Fridays at 9 through March 9th. $12-$25; two tickets for $20, student tickets for $10 (w/ID) on February 23-25 only. Reservations:; 788-6415 (Jovelyn Richards' KPFA interview with Giulio Perrone: )

Press Release: Seniors Demand: No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid!

From Margot Smith
Tuesday February 12, 2013 - 10:51:00 AM

Town Hall Meeting - Presidents’ Day

Monday, February 18, 2013 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm

Humanist Hall – 390 27th Street Oakland, CA 94612

On Presidents’ Day local seniors will send a message to Congress -No Cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. Their Town Hall Meeting will take place Monday, February 18th at 1:00 PM at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland. Norman Solomon, author and, activist will headline the event. Other speakers include Jodi Reid, Northern CA CARA Director; Suzy Young from the California Nurses Association; and Rebecca Griffin of the Peace Action West. The activist singing group Occupella will provide rousing entertainment.

Parties and Movies Galore:
It's the 15th SF Independent Film Festival
February 7-21
Brava Theatre, Roxie Theatre, Vortex Room in San Francisco

Overview Review by Gar Smith
Tuesday February 12, 2013 - 08:58:00 AM

SF's wonderfully wacky, over-the-top and beyond-the-boundaries IndieFest marks its 15th incarnation with 77 independent films from 17 countries (34 features and 43 shorts). The 15-day-and-night event includes two world premieres, four US premieres and a bucket-list of theme parties, including (appropriately enough) a Quinceañera party replete with DJ Haute Mess (Brass Taxx), live music, an open bar and, of course, a birthday cake. -more-

New: Parties and Movies Galore: It's the 15th SF Independent Film Festival
February 7-21
Brava Theatre, Roxie Theatre, Vortex Room in San Francisco

Overview Review by Gar Smith
Monday February 11, 2013 - 10:19:00 PM

SF's wonderfully wacky, over-the-top and beyond-the-boundaries IndieFest marks its 15th incarnation with 77 independent films from 17 countries (34 features and 43 shorts). The 15-day-and-night event includes two world premieres, four US premieres and a bucket-list of theme parties, including (appropriately enough) a Quinceañera party replete with DJ Haute Mess (Brass Taxx), live music, an open bar and, of course, a birthday cake. -more-

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Presents an Array of Classics from Cinema’s First Golden Age

By Justin DeFreitas
Monday February 11, 2013 - 03:11:00 PM
Snow White

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival ( presents its winter event this Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Castro Theater. The program features a sure-to-please lineup of all-American classics—from the inventive comedies of Buster Keaton to the swashbuckling heroics of Douglas Fairbanks to the charm of "America's Sweetheart," Mary Pickford—as well as one of the towering achievements of German silent cinema by the great director F.W. Murnau. -more-