The Week

First responders at crash scene where reporter Michael Hastings died
First responders at crash scene where reporter Michael Hastings died


On the Strange Death
of Michael Hastings:
Was the Reporter Car-Hacked or Bombed?

By Gar Smith
Thursday August 08, 2013 - 02:56:00 PM

In the early hours of June 18, Michael Hastings was found dead in the flaming wreckage of his car. The 33-year-old journalist was, perhaps, best known for the 2010 Rolling Stone cover story that ended the career of Army General Stanley McChystal.

According to initial press reports, Hastings was driving south on Los Angeles' North Highland Avenue when he "apparently lost control of [his car] near Melrose Avenue and crashed into palm trees in the median about 4:20 a.m."

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was unusually eager to announce that there had been no evidence of "foul play" surrounding the reporter's death. Typically, police departments withhold such judgments until after there has been an investigation -- including a coroner's report and toxicology tests, which can take days, if not weeks.

Those who knew and worked with Michael Hastings are questioning the "official story." -more-

Budget Cuts are Stealing Hope from the Poor
In Berkeley and Across the Nation (News Analysis)

By Lynda Carson
Friday August 09, 2013 - 10:43:00 AM

Massive federal budget cuts are stealing hope from the poor, elderly and disabled. As evidence of this horrific trend, in recent months during 2013 the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) notified 14 households that their Section 8 housing choice vouchers have been suspended until further notice. The BHA also served notice to around 200 additional households in the final stages of being eligible to receive Section 8 vouchers, that their applications for vouchers have also been suspended until further notice.

With $1.7 million in budget cuts hitting the BHA in 2013 plus an additional loss of $386,000 in administrative fees to run its housing programs, the BHA also estimates that an additional 74 households may lose their Section 8 housing vouchers during 2014. -more-

The Camp-Out at the Berkeley Post Office Continues

By Lydia Gans
Thursday August 08, 2013 - 06:26:00 PM

As word spread of the U. S. Post Office Department plans to sell the Berkeley post office building, public protest has become ever more vehement.

Ying Lee is on the steering committee of the group of concerned citizens called Save Our Berkeley Post Office . They have been gathering information and planning actions to avert the sale.

“We're also working nationally,” she said, “with people in the Bronx and people in the National Trust”. -more-

Nepal's Newar Convene for Support

By Sol Fraley
Friday August 09, 2013 - 10:25:00 AM

Through out the day last Saturday, the Berkeley waterfront was alive with unique and delightful sounds, sights and smells as the Newar Organization of Northern California brought together an assembly in honor of their culture. The Newar people make up one distinct ethnic group out of several dozen native to the Himalayas of Nepal. The August 3rd Newar gathering of family and friends, centered around a splendidly decorative stage, and large banquet spread carefully over several tables. Nearly 150 attended, enjoying the traditional foods and festivities in celebration of Newar traditions and community in the Bay Area. Brightly colored cloth tents were erected and traditional ornaments, flags and medallions, decorated the assembly grounds. Youth gathered for games and soccer in the adjoining green as speakers shared the stage, presenting stories, poetry, song and dance. -more-

Warren Hamilton Widener

Sent by Carole Kennerly
Tuesday August 13, 2013 - 11:07:00 AM

Warren Hamilton Widener, age 75, passed away on June 25, 2013, in Hayward, CA, after a long struggle with pneumonia. He was born in Oroville, CA, in the Sacramento Valley, settled in Berkeley, Oakland, and Piedmont, and moved to Roseville, CA, after his retirement. He served his community in roles as Mayor of Berkeley and member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, served his country as a Captain in the U. S. Air Force, and served his church as a young man leading the Methodist Youth Fellowship with his wife at Downs Memorial United Methodist Church. -more-

James Courtland Goodwin
Tuskegee Airman

By Leah Goodwin
Tuesday August 13, 2013 - 10:58:00 AM
James Courtland Goodwin <br> Tuskegee Airman <br> 1925-2013

James (Jim) Courtland Goodwin, of Santa Rosa, passed away on April 14, 2013 due to cardiac arrest. He was 87 years old. He was laid to rest with full military honors, next to his wife Eva, in the Gustine National Cemetery on April 22, 2014. A Celebration of Life will be held for him in the community room at Friends House 684 Benicia Drive, Santa Rosa on September 21, 2013 at 2pm. -more-



An Open Letter from the Berkeley Daily Planet to Jeff Bezos as He Takes on the Washington Post

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday August 08, 2013 - 03:44:00 PM

Dear Jeff,

By now you must have heard that old joke at least 20 times:

Mr. Bones: “Do you know how you can make a small fortune in the newspaper business?”

Eager Buyer: “No, Mr. Bones, how can I make a small fortune in the newspaper business?”

Mr. Bones: “Why, start with a large fortune, of course!”

Luckily for you, you seem to be starting with a large enough fortune that you might be able to afford to run the Washington Post. And you seem to be smart enough to realize that this venture will not be a sure-fire money-maker like your current business, Amazon Inc.

Like you, we bought a failing newspaper once upon a time. We also used earnings from a previous successful business to do so, though on a much different scale: several orders of magnitude, perhaps several dozen orders of magnitude less than the one you’re operating in.

You’re reported to have paid $270 million dollars for a paper estimated by Brad DeLong, a Berkeley economist neighbor of ours, to be worth just $100 million.

We paid only $15,000 for the Berkeley Daily Planet, for which we got a bunch of obsolete Macs, some ugly furniture and the tail end of a commercial lease in the bargain, plus whatever rights the founders had to the Daily Planet name. And that was more that it was worth. Like you, we overpaid in our enthusiasm for becoming newspaper owners.

Both your paper and ours had a consistent recent record of losing money. Though we did not expect that publishing was going to be as profitable as software development had been, we naively believed that with good management and quality improvement we’d eventually be able break even.

Didn’t happen. In fact, over eight years we lost a considerable percentage of what we’d made in our previous high tech enterprise, hoping for much too long that things would turn around.

So, what advice can we give you? -more-


Odd Bodkins: Enligntened Self-interest (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday August 09, 2013 - 11:53:00 AM

Public Comment

Press Release: Save the Post Office Rally Held in Berkeley on Saturday--the Videos!

From Save the Post Office
Tuesday August 13, 2013 - 02:00:00 PM

The USPS plans to sell Berkeley's historic main post office. On Saturday, August 10th, people met to rally and march in protest and to support those who have been camping out at the post office since July 27th. This is not a local issue but one arm of the struggle against privatization and the global fight for economic justice.

Resist the intrusion of corporations into every aspect of our lives. This is a fight we can win. See some lively short videos of excerpts from yesterday's rally to save the Berkeley post office: -more-

US Embassy Closures

By Jagjit Singh
Friday August 09, 2013 - 10:41:00 AM

Perhaps the worldwide travel alert of possible al-Qaeda threats coming on the heels of mounting public outrage over domestic spying – should come as no surprise. Is this a real or imagined threat? Is the massive NSA spying agency using the terror threats to wage war on our civil liberties? Prior administrations have used terror threats to goad us into disastrous wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. -more-

Major Banks Agree to Principle Reduction, Lower Interest

By Barb Weir
Friday August 09, 2013 - 11:17:00 AM

U.S. homeowners struggling to make payments on mortgages worth as much as three times the value of their home were astonished to learn that their banks had decided to offer principle reduction and lower interest. -more-

Adult Education Teaches Both English and Democracy

By Romila Khanna
Friday August 09, 2013 - 11:00:00 AM

We want all Americans (established families and new immigrants) to be proficient in the language of the land. We also want them to be proficient in the responsibilities of democracy. How shall we achieve both ends? We can make adult English language classes more widely available and we can include inspiring civics classes in the evening as part of the adult curriculum. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE; Negotiating With the American Taliban

By Bob Burnett
Friday August 09, 2013 - 10:22:00 AM

In June the US agreed to < a href=>meet with the Islamic Taliban to discuss the future of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, comparable negotiations between the Obama Administration and the American version of the Taliban, the Tea-Party wing of the Republican Party, have reached an impasse, which threatens to shut down the US government. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Being a Proactive Participant in Treatment

By Jack Bragen
Thursday August 08, 2013 - 06:20:00 PM

Antipsychotic medication is used to treat psychotic illnesses and sometimes bipolar. It is a very imperfect treatment for serious illnesses that might otherwise create enormous amounts of suffering. Medication causes suffering through its side effects. However, untreated mental illness can cause a far greater amount of suffering. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Oakland Hosts a Wonder of a Film Feast: Matatu Film Festival Runs August 15-17

By Gar Smith
Wednesday August 14, 2013 - 06:25:00 PM

San Francisco has made a habit out of hosting scores of local and international film festivals. Now it's Oakland's turn, thanks to some dedicated East Bay souls who are determined to start something great and lasting. The Matatu Film Festival is well worth a look. Miss this and you'll miss your chance to see some rare and wonderful examples of award-winning world cinema. -more-

New: Theater Review: 'Pitch Perfect' at Central Works

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday August 13, 2013 - 11:25:00 AM

"When you hired us, you said we were like family ... "

"That was bullshit!"

Frantic ad exec Bob (Brian Trybom) bursts into the half-abandoned LA office of the firm with bloodletting on his mind, having flown in from New York to fire someone, talking loud, brash and peppering his aggression with expletives, obviously trying to impress himself as much as everyone else in his self-conscious hard nose act. "You didn't have a childhood, did you, Bob?" queries Caitlin (Maggie Mason), the pert, blue-eyed Brit office manager-cum-multitasker, wearing many hats; "We used to have jobs here!" Then a Hide-a-Bed groans "Oh God, where am I?"--and the audience is introduced to Roger (Tim Redmond), a kind of self-made Robin Hood of an agency creative director, sarcastic and playful up against Bob's stiff contentiousness ... -more-