The Week



Berkeley City Council Votes to Oppose Plan to Transport Dangerous Crude Oil Through City

By Jeff Shuttleworth
Monday March 24, 2014 - 05:21:00 PM

UPDATE: The Council unanimously passed the resolution, which was amended to include a long list of specific actions for city staff to take to try to stop the plan to transport crude oil by rail through Berkeley and other East Bay cities.

The Berkeley City Council voted tonight on a resolution that opposes plans by Phillips 66 to transport crude oil through Berkeley and other East Bay cities to a new refinery rail spur in San Luis Obispo County.

City Councilwoman Linda Maio, who wrote the resolution along with City Councilman Darryl Moore, admitted in a letter to the community that railroads are exempt from local and state laws because they are interstate operators.

But Maio said, "That must not stop us from fiercely opposing their plans and demanding intervention." -more-

New: Two Teens Shot in South Berkeley

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Tuesday March 25, 2014 - 09:09:00 PM

Two teens were shot in South Berkeley on Monday night, police said. -more-

New: MH370: Connecting Some Dots on a Missing Airliner

By Gar Smith
Saturday March 22, 2014 - 10:08:00 AM
March 11 Malaysian Military Map

Media coverage of the unexplained disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew has been strangely passive. Each day the press repeats the latest official announcements and speculation with little independent criticism or analysis. As reporter Michal Wollf observed in the London Guardian, "'missing' stories trump all others for their intensity and stickiness, fueling the imagination of journalists and audiences alike." Reporters and pundits have squandered precious ink and airtime reflecting on a cascade of officially announced "dots," while, at the same time, they have failed to connect some of the more obvious dots. Two, in particular.

MH370 was initially reported to have vanished from radar surveillance around 1:30 AM Saturday, March 8, while cruising across the South China Sea at 35,000 feet en route to Beijing.

The media's initial obsession with the story was based on the presumption that the plane crashed at sea. Then came a flood of high-tech evidence that established the plane had been intentionally redirected and flown off in a new direction.

The media currently has returned to the crash scenario and the "drama of the search"—providing extended coverage of an unprecedented air-and-sea mission extending over tens of thousands of square miles of open ocean. Even the discovery that the last hourly "ping" emitted by the plane was recorded 7.5 hours after the plane took off has failed to counter the mad rush to "find the missing wreckage" — it has only expanded the area of the search. -more-

New: Connect to Survey about Berkeley Police Beats

From Richard Brady,BPD
Wednesday March 26, 2014 - 03:24:00 PM

Berkeley Police are evaluating the department's beat structure to ensure the most efficient police service is being delivered to all those who come to and live in the city.

The community can help in that effort by filling out an online survey about police services and the current beat structure:

The Berkeley Police current beat structure that divides the City into 18 police patrol beats has been in place since 1993. Crime trends, calls for service, crime statistics and staffing levels were used to determine this beat structure. Given changes in the City over that time, the Police Department is now examining its beat deployment strategy with the help of Matrix Consulting Group. Matrix will analyze population, geography, patrol deployment, staffing levels, officer workload, calls for service, proactive patrol time, response times, crime data, industry standards and best practices and the need for flexible units to respond to identified crime trends, as well as the costs associated with service delivery. Additionally, Matrix will assess community perceptions and priorities through the use of surveys and community meetings. -more-

New: Another Piece of the Malaysia Airlines Puzzle.

By Gar Smith
Saturday March 22, 2014 - 10:16:00 AM

There is a website called FlightRadar24 that tracks online flight traffic. FlightRadar has been called “the best live flight tracker that shows air traffic in real time.” The much-visited site is popular with pilots and airline hobbiests. -more-



Odd Bodkins: Travis the Dollar (November 29, 2004) (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Saturday March 22, 2014 - 10:45:00 AM

Public Comment

New: LIBRARIES: Overhaul Fails

By Phil Allen
Wednesday March 26, 2014 - 09:46:00 AM

Impression of the now-completed Berkeley libraries' physical overhaul: the same as new coinage, especially the flip side of pennies, and the latest counterfeit-proof bills. Play money, pretend communalities. -more-

New: Save Berkeley Vacuum and Sewing Center!

By Debbie McBride
Wednesday March 26, 2014 - 09:44:00 AM

I was very surprised to learn last week that there was a development plan that would involve closing the Berkeley Vacuum & Sewing Center. I would like to protest the use of this land for another high rise residence in place of the small businesses which presently exist on the block between Berkeley Way and University, Oxford and Shattuck. The Berkeley Vacuum & Sewing Center is the only place in the area where is it possible to get all types of small appliances repaired. This may seem like a small inconvenience, but as an senior citizen who has lived in the area of close to 30 years, I have brought many lamps and kitchen appliances to the store to be fixed. It is particularly important because it is close to the Ace Hardware store on University where spare parts are sold. -more-

New: Suing Self is Senseless and Silly

By Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Monday March 24, 2014 - 05:32:00 PM

You might think it goes without saying that suing yourself is senseless or silly. If you heard that the City of Berkeley is suing itself you might think it was an April Fool’s prank. Sad to say, this is happening in the real world. Seriously, and it’s only March.

The City Council just voted to sue itself to attempt to immediately implement the controversial redistricting plan. The only stated goal of the lawsuit is to get the court to overrule the voters’ signatures for a referendum letting the voters vote on the politicians controversial plan kicking out coops, keeping out many dorms from the student district, and splitting neighborhoods. When people laugh at Berkeley for being first in the nation to adopt progressive policy, I feel proud of Berkeley’s trailblazing. When people ridicule and laugh at Berkeley for suing itself, there will be no reason to feel pride. I feel sadness and shame that the political effort to kick out the coops and keep many dorms out of the student district has stooped to a new low. Instead of laughing out loud or laughing behind their backs, please tell the City Council to stop suing itself. -more-

Press Release: COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU... Ticking Time Bombs: Hazardous & Volatile Crude Transport by Rail

From the office of Councilmember Linda Maio
Monday March 24, 2014 - 05:09:00 PM

Community Rally

in Opposition to Rail Transport

of Hazardous Crude Oil

through Berkeley and the East Bay

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

6:30 p.m. Gather on the steps of Old City Hall (2134 MLK Jr. Way)

7:00 p.m. Council Meeting

Berkeley Vice-Mayor Linda Maio recently discovered the Phillips 66 plan to ship highly volatile and hazardous crude oil along the California coastline through Berkeley, Albany, Oakland’s Jack London Square along the Amtrak corridor -- a stone’s throw from schools, residences, shopping areas, offices and businesses. -more-

New: LIBRARIES: Doomed

By Judi Sierra
Sunday March 23, 2014 - 10:35:00 AM

A week ago I thought I’d throw in my 2 cents about the downhill trajectory of the Berkeley Library and this week an added letter plus an official library press release has awoken me from my complacency. Since I haven’t been downtown in a while, I can’t speak to that much, but I certainly have had thoughts about the South Branch being very sterile ever since it reopened. I too consider myself a lifelong lover of libraries and have been to many here and out of state so I am well versed in library layout, comfort and usage. -more-

New: LIBRARIES: The Sterilization of the Berkeley Libraries

By Vivian Warkentin
Saturday March 22, 2014 - 08:53:00 PM

Re: "What has become of the Berkeley Library?". I view the remodeling of our libraries as yet another deliberate stealing and corporatization of the public commons. At what point will we put our feet down? At what point will we see the loss? -more-

LIBRARIES: Re: "What Has Become of the Public Library?"

By Alice Diane Kisch, Emeryville
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 06:05:00 PM

Dear Berkeleyites,

As a long-time supporter and enthusiastic lover of public libraries, I read Sheila Goldmacher’s What Has Become of the Public Library? with sadness, frustration and empathy.

I live in Emeryville, and the library closest to me is the Golden Gate branch of the Oakland library system, where I typically visit twice a month. Golden Gate is the diametric opposite of your main branch: our library is small, often crowded with kids and parents, and we have real live – and very friendly – librarians who check out our books.


New: HOMELESSNESS: Response to Nicola Bourne

By Mary Ann Uribe
Sunday March 23, 2014 - 10:42:00 AM

I find it hypocritical, ignorant and incredulous that Ms. Bourne, a woman of 67 years of age, has not lived long enough, not read enough and is not observant enough to see the solution to people like David Simmons dying in the rain on February 6, 2014 in Berkeley is to have city employees who work 24/7 to do their job of “protect and serve” by taking our homeless residents to shelters and churches to get them out of the rain so they will not die of pneumonia like David did. -more-

HOMELESSNESS: Re: the Death of David Simmons

By Nicola Bourne
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 05:55:00 PM

I find it saddening that Ms. Uribe first blames people who routinely dedicate themselves to community outreach on the homeless among us and then proceeds to chastise the Berkeley Police Department, alleging that their combined "failures" led to the recent sad death of David Simmons. She goes on to claim that Mr. Simmons "should have been rescued, not persecuted... not forgotten," without giving a shred of evidence that anyone persecuted him or that neither of the two groups just mentioned had tried to get him off the street. Finally, she declares, "Nobody in Berkeley cared," and that "we should all be ashamed." -more-

New: Living Requires a Living Wage

by Harry Brill, Co-Coordinator East Bay Tax the Rich Group
Saturday March 22, 2014 - 10:53:00 AM

I would like to urge you to attend the Berkeley City Council meeting on April 1, 7pm to persuade the Berkeley City Council to enact a minimum wage ordinance for working people in Berkeley. The living wage movement is a national movement that seeks to abolish poverty wages. In the last several decades the buying power of the minimum wage has declined considerably, which has further eroded the standard of living for millions of individuals and families. The problem has become so severe that many of these family are forced to rely on government programs, including the food stamp program and a heating allowance. -more-

The NSA monster

By Jagjit Singh
Friday March 21, 2014 - 10:51:00 AM

The NSA continues to operate in the shadows with no congressional oversight. New disclosures from Edward Snowden warn the NSA has intensified its computer hacking activities. According to the news website, The Intercept, the new malware software code named “implants,” is infecting millions of computers under an automated system codename, “Turbine”. Masquerading as a fake Facebook server, the software targets a computer and removes files from a user’s hard drive. This prompted an outraged Mark Zuckerberg to call President Obama and demand the NSA cease and desist its illegal activities. The security of the Internet is seriously at risk. -more-

PARKING: Does Berkeley Need $2.75/hour Metered Parking until 8 PM? Please Comment.

By Michael Katz
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 02:56:00 PM

For the second year in a row, Berkeley city staff is pushing to raise parking meter rates (to as high as $2.75/hour), and to extend metered hours until 8 PM, Monday through Saturday. -more-

New: PARKING: Unforeseen Problems with Fees

By Steve Redmond
Sunday March 23, 2014 - 10:49:00 AM

Social engineering is fraught with unforeseen problems. We attended the meeting at Claremont Library this past week and heard an earnest staff explain their reasoning, but there were unforeseen problems they didn't anticipate: -more-

The Effect of Obstructionism on the Public

By Romila Khanna
Friday March 21, 2014 - 09:41:00 AM

Is it true that policy makers don't think about those who are really affected by their obstructionism? America has always shown generosity towards people who suffer in this wide world. But why do our policy makers ignore the low-income people in the US who can barely make ends meet? -more-


AGAINST FORGETTING: The Invisible War: Sexual Assault in the America Military

By Ruth Rosen
Friday March 21, 2014 - 09:55:00 AM

Many young women who join the military are idealistic, patriotic and ambitious. The military promises education, training, a possible career and the adventure of deploying to foreign lands. Even though military life requires serious sacrifices, most believe that the American military’s Uniform Code of Justice is fair and equitable. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: America’s Gas Problem

By Bob Burnett
Friday March 21, 2014 - 09:34:00 AM

Most US politicians regard natural gas as the key element in our energy policy. In his January State-of-the-Union address President Obama said, “[Natural gas is] the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” Many environmentalists disagree; John Farrell describes natural gas as “a gateway drug.” -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: A Cat Story with a Happy Ending

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 05:59:00 PM

First a little background before telling this nice story about a lost cat. We have two three-year old feral indoor cats, one a male named Noche -- because he's black -- and Amber a small tortortoiseshell female. Both are now socialized. Both have been neutered. When cats are neutered, the tip of their right ear is clipped.

About three years ago, a mother and five siblings showed up in our backyard. We provided some kibble and water. They left, but returned shortly. Out of the six, three -- one grey and two blacks -- stayed and took up residence on our deck and backyard. My wife named them Azuli, Blackie, and Solo. We have cat houses for them and provide food and water daily. All three have been neutered. The remaining cats in the litter are fed by a neighbor. Why three stayed and three left is a mystery. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Changing the Wavelength

By Jack Bragen
Friday March 21, 2014 - 09:37:00 AM

Aside from the usefulness of medication to treat psychosis, a large part of the issue might be dealt with when the patient can calm down. The second to last time that I was hospitalized, in 1990, it was due to going off medication against medical advice. As soon as I was in the inpatient ward, I was reinstated on medication. However, as far as "coming back" from my delusional state, the process was helped when I watched the movie "field of dreams" which was played on videocassette for the patients. -more-

SENIOR POWER F G M stands for…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday March 21, 2014 - 10:35:00 AM

There were two references to female genital mutilation (FGM) in March 6, 2014’s Senior Power column about Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. Wikipedia online encyclopedia has an excellent article about FGM. Ayaan HirsiAli’s books are in the public library’s collection: The caged virgin :An emancipation proclamation for women and Islam; Infidel; and Nomad: From Islan to America—A personal journey through the clash of civilizations. In 1993 Harcourt Brace published Warrior marks: Female genital mutilation and the sexual blinding of women by Pratibha Parmar and Alice Walker. For a list of publications about FGM, consult the LINK catalog. Many articles about action against FGM are accessible via the public library’s Encore catalog. -more-

Arts & Events

AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: Breaking News--Philip Kan Gotanda Appointed as Professor for UC Theater, Dance & Performance Department

By Ken Bullock
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 05:53:00 PM

Philip Kan Gotanda, playwright known for such plays as The Wash, Day Standing on Its Head and the libretto for Manzanar, a symphonic work about the relocation camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, has just been appointed professor in the Department of Theater, dance and Performance Studies at UC-Berkeley, where he has in the past been artist in residence (as well as at Berkeley Rep and Stanford). -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Atlantic Crossing: New Century Chamber Orchestra With Chanticleer--Tuesday, First Congregational Church

By Ken Bullock
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 05:50:00 PM

Across the ocean from New York to Europe--that's the program for Atlantic Crossing, the collaborative concert of New Century Chamber Orchestra, led by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, with all-male chorus Chanticleer, this Tuesday at 8, First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way (near Durant & Dana). -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Public Library selects Noll & Tam Architects and Planners For Improvements to the Central Library Interior Public Spaces

Friday March 21, 2014 - 11:07:00 AM

The Berkeley Public Library is pleased to announce that the award-winning design firm of Noll & Tam Architects and Planners has been selected to provide a full range of programmatic, architectural and design services for its Central Library. Renovations of the interior public spaces will improve the layout of collections, lighting, placement of the public computers, and address the need for quiet and group study areas, as well as adequate and appropriate space to meet the needs of teens and youth. After a competitive process, the firm was selected based on their extensive library design and building experience. -more-