“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends, family, and the people of South Africa. His legacy will live on forever in how we live our lives and fight for freedom and justice in a multi-racial society. We must pause and remember Madiba in his greatness; he used his life not for himself, but for the good of his country and the good of the world, and his spirit will live on. -more-
BART service is getting back to normal after a train experienced a brake failure and became disabled in the Berkeley Hills tunnel this morning in an incident that sent nine passengers to hospitals. -more-
A BART train that became disabled between the Rockridge and Orinda stations this morning because of a smoky brake problem is now at the Rockridge station, where passengers have been let off the train. -more-
The Berkeley City Council unanimously supported an ordinance making 100% of all multi-unit housing smokefree at its Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 council meeting. The ordinance will include all shared-wall housing whether rent controlled or not, and will take effect May 1st, 2014. -more-
The Berkeley City Council has adopted on first reading an ordinance created from the Berkeley Student District Campaign Plan, adjusting the City Council district boundaries pursuant to Section 9, Article V of the Berkeley City Charter, to equalize population in the districts as a result of population changes reflected in the 2010 Decennial Federal Census. The BSD plan district covers mainly the south side of campus, dominated by residential fraternities and sororities, and excludes the more progressive co-op residences located north of campus. The three progressives on the council, Worthington, Arreguin and Anderson, proposed a more inclusive amendment to the district boundaries which was backed by leaders of the student co-ops and the U.C. residences, but they were outvoted by the regressive/conservative council majority, which is controlled by long-term mayor Tom Bates. -more-
Albany's threatened eviction of the campers from the Albany Bulb is moving on full steam but resistance of the campers and their many allies is proving equally determined. They invited the public to two days of music, food and conversation and, as a special feature, an Art Walk. The art includes paintings and exotic constructions that were created over the years from materials found at the site. Some are old works that have faded and deteriorated from exposure to the elements which the campers have been working to restore. The fate of the art works is yet to be determined. They too, are threatened with 'eviction.' -more-
The defense lawyer for a 16-year-old boy accused of setting a skirt-wearing teen on fire on an AC Transit bus three weeks ago said today that he will seek to have the boy prosecuted in juvenile court instead of in adult court. -more-
An agender, skirt-wearing 18-year-old Berkeley high school student who was set on fire on an AC Transit bus three weeks ago was released from the hospital today in time for Thanksgiving, his family said. -more-
Windy weather throughout the Bay Area overnight has knocked out power for tens of thousands of PG&E customers today and blown trees and debris into roadways.
The strong winds brought massive power outages with 55,000 PG&E customers initially losing power Thursday night, according to utility officials.
PG&E spokesman Jason King said as of 11 a.m., there were 13,000 customers throughout the Bay Area still without power.
The most heavily impacted areas are in the North Bay, as well as the East Bay cities of Berkeley, Oakland and Albany, King said.
Some 7,300 East Bay customers were still affected, while 3,400 customers in Sonoma County remained without power. -more-
BART service is resuming this morning after computer problems prevented trains from picking up any passengers for the first few hours of the morning commute, agency officials said.
Service was resuming at about half-capacity as of 7:15 a.m. with full service expected by 8:15 a.m., BART spokesman Jim Allison said.
Systemwide delays began shortly after midnight because the agency's computer systems were not communicating properly with track switches, Allison said. -more-
More than 17,500 PG&E customers remain without power in the Bay Area this morning as a result of strong winds in the region, a utility spokeswoman said.
As of 8 a.m., about 13,000 customers were without power in the East Bay, along with about 4,500 in the North Bay, 56 along the Peninsula, nine in the South Bay and five in San Francisco, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said.
More than 55,000 customers initially lost power overnight because of the windy conditions, PG&E officials said. -more-
There’s a rare Painted Redstart in a Berkeley backyard. But will it still be there on Sunday December 15th? That’s one of the questions on the minds of San Francisco and East Bay residents who will be taking part this month in the 114th Christmas Bird Count. -more-
Editor's note: This week we are fortunate to have a commentary by Professor George Lakoff. Since it's longer and denser than the usual op-ed submission, we've made it a Guest Editorial. The editor will be back in this space after the holiday.
On Thursday (Nov. 21), the New York Times front page reported on the conservative attacks against the President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. On Sunday, the Times front page contained a conservative attack on President Obama and the Affordable Care Act mixed in with news stories. Here is an analysis of both.
For decades, Republican conservatives have constructed and carried out extensive, well-planned, long-term communication campaigns to change public discourse and the way the public thinks. It has been done very effectively and, for the most part, not secretly. The NY Times finally began reporting on this effort on Thursday, November 21, 2013 in a fine piece by Jonathan Weisman and Sheryl Gay Stolberg.
The Times reported on the House Republicans’ memo on how to attack the Affordable Care Act through a “multilayered sequence assault,” gathering stories “through social media letters from constituents, or meeting back home” and a new GOP website. The Times also reported on the “closed door” strategy sessions, going back to last year.
It’s a start, and it’s about time. What the Times missed was the far deeper and systematic efforts by conservatives extending back four decades and the nature of the underlying general ideology covering dozens of issues that have been served by these efforts. The Times also missed the reason why the attack on the ACA is more than just anti-Obama politics, but rather part of an attempt to change the idea of what America is about. The Times missed the think tanks, the framing professionals, the training institutes, the booking agencies, the Wednesday morning meetings on both national and state levels, and the role of ALEC in the states — all set out in the Lewis Powell memo more than four decades ago and carried out since then as part of seamless system directed at changing the brains of Americans. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Slacking off, using Thanksgiving as a excuse, I'm not creating a brand new issue this Friday. Some of our faithful correspondents have nonetheless sent in excellent pieces, so I'll just be posting them in this issue. -more-
Work begins on controversial Berkeley housing project
Berkeley to open rebuilt $7.5 million West Branch library
Berkeley Food Pantry feels bite from food stamp cutback
The Importance Of Special Admits In Cal Athletics
Welcome Back, Jesus
Alpha males, Sigma females: Jewish Greek life growing on Bay Area campuses
Lawrence Berkeley Lab Studies Find Methane Emissions in California and U.S. 1.5 Times More Than Expected
UC Berkeley Professor Sends Heartfelt Anti-Union E-mail To ... -more-
AC Transit is at it again. After failing in 2010 to force their ill-conceived Bus Rapid Transit project on the citizens of Berkeley, now they are trying to damage Berkeley again. This time they want to:
1) Cut down mature trees on College Avenue 2) Remove a lot of badly-needed parking on University Avenue 3) Add new traffic lights that will speed up vehicles driving through residential neighborhoods 4) Make bike lanes significantly narrower and more dangerous 5) Move speeding buses closer to pedestrians and bicyclists 6) Move around or completely eliminate existing bus stops
Worst of all, these permanent disruptions to AC Transit riders and City of Berkeley residents don't seem to be motivated by any desire to increase ridership. I didn't see any projections in AC Transit's plan that even one car might be removed from the road.
AC Transit's plan seems to boil down to "if the bus doesn't have to stop to pick people up or drop them off, it can go faster." By that logic, the best way to improve service would be to remove all the bus stops so the buses could drive as fast as possible. Too bad that wouldn't leave any time for passengers to get on or off the bus! -more-
I suspect that the turtles once meant for the fountain are now the turtles that, appropriately enough I guess, decorate.... wait for it... -more-
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and President Obama deserve credit for reaching an accord limiting Iran’s nuclear enrichment program in return for easing crippling sanctions. It is encouraging that we are moving away from a strident confrontational approach and have softened our language to reach this accord. In contrast, Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu are irked the US with his hyper-ventilating militaristic attitude attempting to drive a wedge between US lawmakers and the White House. It must be remembered that Netanyahu's hardline rhetoric is aimed at appeasing his right-wing coalition that helped him get elected as Prime Minister. -more-
Recent polls made it clear that Americans are fed up with acrimony and gridlock in Washington. Voters may blame Republicans more than Democrats but they’re not happy with either Party. Some political observers believe that if we only had competitive elections throughout the country – if most congressional districts weren’t gerrymandered – then we would have more moderates in Congress and, therefore, less polarization. Think again. Polarization is the new normal. -more-
On November 19, 2013, the Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a resolution advising the Alameda County supervisors to adopt Laura’s Law. I urge Alameda County to do so. -more-
There is a nationwide push toward giving more power to the mental health treatment systems, in states and counties across the US. The justification is, at some point, innocent people have been killed by consumers off their medication. Thus, in California we have "Laura's Law," and in New York we have "Kendra's Law." -more-
November’s Senior Power columns are about Dementia, Alzheimer’s (a form of dementia), their caregivers, and — this week — the very significant dementia-hearing relationship. -more-
Antipsychotic medication, over time, affects brain structure. When, like me, you have been on medication thirty years, (nearly all of my adult life) medication becomes a factor in how the brain develops. -more-