The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued its sixth Winter Spare the Air alert for today, banning all wood burning throughout the region. -more-
Oakland police unsuccessfully searched a home for a suspect who shot a victim in the city's Temescal neighborhood tonight, according to police. -more-
Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, died yesterday at the age of 95, more than two decades after he visited Oakland as part of a U.S. tour to rally support for anti-apartheid efforts.
Mandela served as president of the African National Congress in South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was elected after serving 27 years in various prisons for fighting against the apartheid regime.
His death, announced today by South African President Jacob Zuma, has prompted reaction from elected officials in the Bay Area and beyond, reflecting on the legacy of one of the world's most renowned civil rights leaders.
In his quest for equality for black and white people in his country, Mandela became a world leader that President Barack Obama today remembered as "one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth."
Gideon Bendile, 62, is a member of the South African band Zulu Spear, which performed at Mandela's visit at the Oakland Coliseum.
Bendile, who grew up in Johannesburg and left his native country in 1975 at the age of 21, remembered performing for Mandela, whom he occasionally affectionately called "Madiba."
He recalled the experience in Oakland as "just breathtaking" and went on, "I could just remember that very well. I was really angry. I left it right at the stadium."
He said hearing Mandela speak about peace and equality prompted the musician to never seek revenge again.
"That's when I felt peace within myself," he said. "He was just a person like me and you." -more-
A Berkeley woman whose legs were crushed by a train in Austria six years ago won the right from a U.S. appeals court today to go ahead with a lawsuit against the Austrian railroad in federal court in San Francisco. -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-
Press Release: Now Open - Dr. Toy’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: An Insider’s Guide to the Best Toys by Berkeley's Dr. Stevanne Auerbach
Dr. Toy’s Holiday Gift Guide, a valuable toy resource, has launched at www.drtoy.com. This new special online service makes the search for the right gift for all ages much easier. Multi-media presentations are powered by Magic Toy Box – Dr. Toy’s unique virtual toy museum and marketplace. Information is available for each product with links to the company, and easy access to purchase. "Dr. Toy’s Tips on Selecting and Using Toys" are included. -more-
As fast-food workers in about 150 cities are walking off the job in a coordinated effort to demand higher wages, a new report published by the Institute for Policy Studies entitled, "Fast Food CEOs Rake In Taxpayer-Subsidized Pay," exposes that these CEOs have saved billions of dollars paying their workers near starvation wages while further buttressing their own pay with government subsidized dollars. Incredibly, a perverse loophole in the tax code allows companies to deduct the cost of performance-based executive pay. -more-
In a very real sense, Dickens popularized many aspects of the Christmas we celebrate today, including great family gatherings, seasonal drinks and dishes and gift giving. Even our language has been enriched by the tale. Who has not known a Scrooge, or uttered “Bah! Humbug!” when feeling irritated or disbelieving. And the phrase “Merry Christmas!” gained wider usage after the story appeared. -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 which disproportionately impact the poor people of Iran. 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 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-
Neal Blumenfeld, eminent psychiatrist, citizen of the world, passed at his home on December 1, 2013. He was 83. -more-
Madeline Taylor Duckles was born in Loomis, California to Allie Adella Fleisher and Porter Lee Taylor. After graduating from Esparto Union High School in 1933, Madeline enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in English Literature. It was at UC Berkeley that Madeline met the love of her life, Vincent Harris Duckles. Madeline and Vin were married on June 10, 1937 in Forest Hills, Long Island. In 1951, Madeline and Vin settled into their home in the Berkeley Hills, where they raised their family and where Madeline lived until her 96th birthday. Madeline's house was full of family, visitors and animals. She loved to entertain and receive visitors from around the world. -more-
If you are looking for evidence that democratic decision-making is breaking down everywhere, not just in Washington, but even—god forbid—in formerly progressive Berkeley, you need look no further than two excellent pieces which appeared this week in local media. -more-
“One thing alone I charge you. As you live, believe in life. Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader and fuller life. The only possible death is to lose belief in this truth simply because the great end comes slowly, because time is long.” -more-
Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba, is dead at 95. A great man has died. -more-
I recently went on a Babette’s Feast rewind binge. I had feasted some time ago when it-she was on TV, PSB probably. Decades later I come to Babette with a new perspective as well as greater appreciation and pleasure. And not just because it’s seventy-six year old Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s favorite film. -more-
In the three years that I have been writing this column, I have spent a lot of time criticizing mental health caregivers. I have been thin-skinned to the condescension of some of them and I have pointed out that there are some situations of cruel treatment. -more-
In November 2001, when the CIA assassinated al-Qaeda commander Mohammed Atef with a killer drone in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the U.S. held a virtual monopoly on the technology of lethal robots. Today, more than 70 countries in the world deploy drones, 16 of them the deadly variety, and many of those drones target rural people living on the margins of the modern world. -more-
There are any number of obstacles that could trip up the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the “P5+1”—the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany— but the right to “enrich” nuclear fuel should not be one of them. Any close reading of the 1968 “Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” (NPT) clearly indicates that, even though the word “enrichment” is not used in the text, all signers have the right to the “peaceful applications of nuclear technology.” -more-
Arts & Events
Sweet Dreams Rwanda: Drums and Ice Cream in the Cone of Africa
Opens December 6 at the Shattuck Theaters
Sweet Dreams is a truly delicious film—a triple-decker trifecta of a cinema treat that serves up an improbable mix of three of the most disparate elements imaginable: the 1994 Rwandan genocide, an insurgent team of feminist drummers and Central Africa's first ice cream shop. The work of two accomplished Berkeley filmmakers, siblings Lisa and Rob Fruchtman, Sweet Dreams already has racked up nine prestigious film awards. It has been screened and celebrated at film festivals in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
Note: Local filmmakers Rob & Lisa Fruchtman will be joined by Kiki Katese, founder of Ingoma Nshya for the 7:10 Saturday, December 7 showing of Sweet Dreams at Berkeley's Landmark cinema. In addition to a Q&A, there will also be a special live drumming performance by members of Rwanda's Ingoma Nshya drummers: Ingabire Rose, Mujawayezu Therese, Uwintiji Clementine, Uwamariya Clementine. -more-
I'm convinced that live music has enormous transformative power, and acting from that belief, my good friend John Schott and I have been preparing for three consecutive days of music at the Berkeley Arts Festival, the latest of many outposts erected by Bonnie Hughes to reclaim and redeem abandoned spaces.
For three consecutive nights – Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday ,Saturday, December 11, 12, and 13 14— John and I will present contrasting sets of music at the Berkeley Arts storefront, 2133 University Avenue (by the Ace Hardware, between Shattuck and Walnut). John will perform solo acoustic versions of a wide variety of American music: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Clarence Ashley, Geeshie Wiley, Frank Hutchison, and more. In the second set, I will present selections of the music of El Cerrito: