The Week

Anna De Leon (center) sings to Save the Post Office at Saturday rally
Lydia Gans
Anna De Leon (center) sings to Save the Post Office at Saturday rally


New: Is Fizzled Berkeley Fair on Teley Fizzled Out?

By Ted Friedman
Monday July 29, 2013 - 09:52:00 PM

Telegraph Businessmen and Mayor Bates kept expectations low when they closed a few blocks of Teley street traffic to hold a summer-Sundays fair, launched June 9. -more-

New: Protesters Rally on Saturday
for Berkeley Post Office

By Laura Dixon and Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Saturday July 27, 2013 - 08:06:00 PM

More than 100 people, including some who say they plan to camp out, have gathered in front of a historic post office in Berkeley this afternoon to protest its closure.

The protesters represent the groups Save the Berkeley Post Office and Strike Debt Bay Area and are holding a demonstration and teach-in on the privatization of public services in front of the post office at 2000 Allston Way.

Strike Debt member Mike Wilson said the protest coincides with similar rallies in several other U.S. cities and will include speeches by activists and public officials, music and dance performances, street theater, free food, public forums and street art. -more-

New: Berkeley Offers Reward for Hit and Run Driver

By Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Tuesday July 23, 2013 - 09:39:00 AM

The City of Berkeley has announced that it is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect responsible for a fatal hit-n-run collision in Berkeley on July 15, police said. -more-

A Day in the Life of an Anonymous Street Musician

By anonymous street musician, as told to Carol Denney
Sunday July 21, 2013 - 09:45:00 AM

I am a folk musician and I currently make my living in Berkeley, California. I sing in the downtown BART station Monday through Friday mornings. I sing at the Center Street Farmers' Market three Saturdays out of each month. I usually sing an hour-long shift at the BART station on weekday afternoons. Basically, I sing three hours a day for tips and occasional CD sales. I play guitar and sing without amplification, leaving my guitar case open to display my CD and to collect any money people wish to contribute for the music.

This afternoon I left my house later than usual and when I came to the BART station other musicians were playing, both inside the station and above ground near the entrance. Rather than go home without making a dime I decided to try singing across the street on Center Street. I chose a spot next to the side window of Games of Berkeley, tucking my guitar case under the window where the sidewalk is wider so as not to impede pedestrians. I stood next to my open case singing. I had been at it for about half an hour and earned one dollar when a Berkeley Ambassador showed up and interrupted my song.

He told me, "You can't play next to the building -- it's a business. You can play at the curb."

No musician would want to play at the curb where traffic and noisy traffic signals compete for the airwaves. No musician would want to breathe smog and exhaust. -more-

Plan Bay Area Passed by MTC, ABAG

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Friday July 19, 2013 - 08:42:00 AM

A coalition of Bay Area leaders late Thursday night approved a long-term regional plan meant to accommodate population growth over the next few decades while meeting state mandates for cutting air pollution and improving access to public transportation.

The final vote on Plan Bay Area came during a marathon joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) at the Oakland Marriott.

The two groups are made up of 21 Bay Area county supervisors, mayors and other local leaders.

Several hundred people, many who boarded buses from Marin and Santa Clara counties, packed a Marriott ballroom to protest the plan, voicing concerns that it will bring overcrowded housing developments and will bypass local control over development. -more-

Press Release: EEJ Supporters Celebrate Plan Bay Area Victory
ABAG/MTC include some key elements of Equity, Environment and Jobs scenario

Friday July 19, 2013 - 04:21:00 PM

Members of the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network and other supporters of the Equity, Environment and Jobs (EEJ) scenario came away from last night’s Plan Bay Area adoption by regional decision-makers satisfied their voices were heard. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Democratic Club Accused of Violating Campaign Finance Laws

From Pattie Wall and Bob Offer-Westort
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:53:00 PM

The Berkeley Democratic Club (“BDC”) is facing serious questions about alleged violations of state and local campaign finance laws. On July 12, 2013, the Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission received a complaint against BDC alleging violations of the Berkeley Election Reform Act and state election law, including failure to file expense reports for false and misleading campaign materials that were distributed by homeless people during the November 2012 election cycle. -more-

La Casa de La Chascona
A visit to Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago

By Gar Smith
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:44:00 PM

A calm flows from the mountainside.

A murmur spiced with the sound of birds

Envelops the enclave of Neruda and Matilda:

The upstairs café serves espresso

With bait-sized bits of 70% cacao.

Metallic Nerudafish and figurines

Hover near windows, catching light

As visitors wait to navigate Neruda's rooms.


Berkeley's Hilton to Homeless now Four Stars: A Garden Grows On Telegraph

By Ted Friedman
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 08:59:00 PM

Two years ago I wrote a piece here, "Berkeley Hilton to Homeless." I had no idea how that would turn out.

Two years later, the piece still leads the Berkeley Hilton Google search result page. If you're looking for a room at the Berkeley Hilton, you might want to consider going homeless and saving hundreds of dollars. Free food and clothes, too. -more-



Harmony, Not Perfect But Intriguing

By Becky O'Malley
Friday July 19, 2013 - 04:23:00 PM

Trying to reconnect with civic concerns after a month devoted to family matters, I resolved to attend last night’s meeting on Plan Bay Area, a topic which has generated considerable heat and some light on this site and elsewhere in the past few months. It was a joint meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments, which, the words of last week's press release from both bodies, is “an integrated transportation and land-use strategy through 2040 that marks the nine-county region’s first long-range plan to meet the requirements of California’s landmark 2008 Senate Bill 375, which calls on each of the state’s 18 metropolitan areas to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy to accommodate future population growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks.”

What’s not to like about that? -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Summer Schedule

Monday July 29, 2013 - 09:09:00 AM

I'm taking it easy this month since the Berkeley City Council has started its lengthy break and not much else is going on around here. A new issue will be posted only when the current one gets too long, at irregular intervals. Watch this space. -more-

Public Comment

New: Go Ask Alice Walker

By J. J. Phillips
Tuesday July 30, 2013 - 09:47:00 AM

On 15 July, Alice Walker posted an essay in the Guardian, in which she ruminated on the slaying of Trayvon Martin. She reposted the text in her blog, with further comments, one among them alluding to George Zimmerman: “Of course if we are dealing with descendents of the Chitauri…we can expect more of what we are experiencing.” This oracular utterance speaks volumes about her recent profession of faith in the doctrines of David Icke. -more-

New: Why I'm Marching to Chevron This Saturday

By Dr. Jeff Ritterman, Vice President, Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Monday July 29, 2013 - 09:06:00 AM

On Saturday, August 3rd, my family will be at Totland in Berkeley celebrating our grand daughter Amiela’s second birthday. Amiela and I are particularly close, so my absence will be noticed.

I will be marching along with thousands of others concerned about climate change and horrified by the fossil fuel industry’s willingness to continue to place profits over worker and community safety, and over the very future health of the planet. -more-

New: A Quick Fix?

By Romila Khanna
Wednesday July 31, 2013 - 04:05:00 PM

Party politics seems less and less concerned with representing everybody in our society, including poor people. Really poor people are also US citizens but they are powerless; they get no help meeting even their basic needs. They look up to some unseen power to help them survive somehow. The USA funds the needs of other countries. We work towards bringing peace elsewhere but at home our poor and needy die in a culture of poverty. They die from poor health, from helplessness, and from stark hunger. -more-

One Bay Area, Acronymically

By Carol Denney
Friday July 19, 2013 - 07:33:00 AM

I live in a PDA, and I'm concerned about GHG, but the FPI and RHNA clearly forget that PM and TAC at more concentrated rates required by ABAG will kill those of us who live in TOAH. Human beings have UGB, too, unless we all give up and live in HOVs. -more-

Trayvon Martin

By Tejinder Uberoi
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:49:00 PM

The unarmed African-American teen, Martin, was walking back to his father’s house after buying candy at a nearby store – a perfectly innocent and non-threatening activity. This was confirmed by a police report which noted there was "no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter and should not have been accosted.” The police dispatcher specifically prohibited Zimmermann from approaching Martin. Ignoring police appeals, Zimmermann precipated an altercation and an innocent victim was murdered in cold blood. Responding to intense public pressure the police finally arrested Zimmermann after 44 long days. -more-

The Postal Service Decision to Sell Historic Downtown Berkeley Post Office

By Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:12:00 PM

I am deeply disappointed to receive news of the final decision of the United States Postal Service to sell the Berkeley Main Post Office. Their decision ignores the will of our community to find a sensible solution, and opts for the easy way out by auctioning off our culture and heritage to the highest bidder. -more-

Whose Ground Is It, Anyway?

By Steve Martinot
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:08:00 PM

The Travesty goes like this.

The grounds for Zimmerman's acquittal were that he shot someone, and killed him. Pure and simple.

The grounds for Trayvon Martin's having been killed is that he decided to defend himself against someone stalking him.

Does it make sense? No. Is it true? Yes.

There's nothing to understand. That's just the way it is. But if we do want to understand it, we have to look at the "role model." Or rather, at The Role Model.

The Role Model is the US, the War Making Power. -more-

Warkentin on Plan Bay Area

By Charlie Brown
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:16:00 PM

I have read Vivian Warkentin's article under "Public Comment" re: Plan Bay Area - A shocking Theft of our Democracy (June 28, 2013). Ms. Warkentin is a good writer and successfully condenses a very complex issue. Now Steinberg's Senate Bill 1, which passed the CA Senate and is before the Assembly, deserves attention. This Bill strengthens the Plan and, worse, puts property taxes at the discretion of an unelected regional body to fund the Plan. To add insult to injury, the Bill also authorizes the "taking" of land for development without the necessity of applying what constitutes the standard for "blight" designations. I hope Ms. Warkentin does an article on Senate Bill 1. Talk about shocking people out of their doldrums! -more-


New: ECLECTIC RANT: Time for the FCC to Re-Examine Its Retransmission Consent Rules

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday July 31, 2013 - 04:08:00 PM

Imagine not being able to watch "Person of Interest," "The Good Wife," "NCIS," and other programs on CBS or Showtime. But satellite customers like me as well as cable customers may not be able to have uninterrupted access to the major four (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) because the 1992 Cable Act requires pay TV providers to get broadcaster consent to carry the station and, since there is no limit on what broadcasters can charge in retransmission fees, pay TV providers can either pay what is asked or lose access to these networks -- a black out. -more-

New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Turkey: Uprising’s Currents Run Deep

By Conn Hallinan
Monday July 29, 2013 - 08:35:00 PM

For the time being, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyio Erdogan—with the liberal use of brutal police tactics and massive amounts of tear gas that killed four people and injured more than 8,000— appears to have successfully crushed demonstrations aimed at blocking the demolition of Gezi Park in central Istanbul and has weathered a similar outbreak in the country’s capital, Ankara. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Racism in America: The Killing of Trayvon Martin

By Bob Burnett
Friday July 19, 2013 - 07:31:00 AM

When Barack Obama was elected President, many of us were hopeful that it signaled an end to widespread racism. We were naïve. George Zimmerman’s not-guilty verdict indicates how much work remains. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Whatever Happened to the Women’s Movement?

By Bob Burnett
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:50:00 PM

Hillary Clinton will likely be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and the odds-on favorite to become the 45th President. Nonetheless, while over the last sixty years there’s been a lot of civil-rights progress in the US, women remain second-class citizens. Whatever happened to the women’s movement? -more-

SENIOR POWER: Senior Moments in the Dark

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:18:00 PM

Of the many negative stereotypes that exist about older adults, the most common is that we are forgetful, senile and prone to so-called "senior moments." In fact, research from the USC Davis School of Gerontology reveals that, while cognitive processes do indeed decline with age, simply reminding older adults about ageist ideas exacerbates their memory problems. It is an extension of the idea of "stereotype threat" — that when people are confronted with negative stereotypes about a group with which they identify, they tend to self-handicap and underperform. In so doing, they inadvertently confirm the negative stereotypes they were worried about in the first place. -more-

New: ECLECTIC RANT: Will Zimmerman Face a Second or Third Round of Litigation?

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday July 30, 2013 - 09:44:00 AM

The world now knows that George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, was acquitted of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. The teen was walking inside a gated community in Sanford, Florida, where he and his father were visiting his father’s fiancée. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Muddling Through Difficulties

By Jack Bragen
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:02:00 PM

Life is never perfect; it is often fraught with difficulty, and it refuses to conform to our wishes and our expectations. This seems true for all beings, yet truer if you are living with a severe mental illness. -more-

Arts & Events

Press Release: March with Families to Seek Justice in Trayvon Martin Case

Friday July 19, 2013 - 10:41:00 PM

Oakland neighbors, including families with young children, will gather in downtown Oakland Saturday morning to seek justice in the case of Trayvon Martin. -more-

Film Review: Redemption Song: 20 Feet from Stardom--Now playing at the Shattuck Landmark

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:40:00 PM

The word is getting out. Morgan Neville's Sundance Festival stunner, 20 Feet from Stardom, is the must see/must feel movie of the summer. Even on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, I found the Landmark's screening room packed and the management promising refunds if there were no seats left. -more-

Film Review: How to Make Money Selling Drugs--Now playing at the Elmwood

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Thursday July 18, 2013 - 09:35:00 PM

How to Make Money Selling Drugs is a message film with a simple message: It's surprisingly easy to amass a fortune pushing pot and cashing in on cocaine. Director Matthew Cooke spells it out in Ten Easy Steps that are so simple even a school kid could do it. -more-