The Week



Neighborhoods Unite to Oppose New Mini‐Dorm Project

From Jacquelyn McCormick, Southside Neighborhood Coalition
Thursday July 10, 2014 - 10:29:00 AM

A coalition of neighborhoods associations in Berkeley’s Southside that have been fighting the proliferation of mini‐dorms have joined together to oppose a new 38‐bedroom mini‐dorm project at 2201 Blake and 2204 Dwight Way. The project is on tonight’s agenda of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board and proposes 38 bedrooms –with an estimated occupancy two to five times what is permitted under the residential density standards in the City’s general plan. SNC submitted a detailed critique of the project and points out flaws in the City’s analysis (attached). -more-

Press Release: El Cerrito City Council Election Nomination Period Opens

From Cheryl Morse, El Cerrito City Clerk
Wednesday July 09, 2014 - 03:01:00 PM

Persons interested in running for the office of City Council Member for the City of El Cerrito in the upcoming November 4, 2014 election may obtain Nomination Papers and a Candidate’s Packet from the City Clerk beginning Monday, July 14, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. The General Municipal Election will fill two seats on the City Council for four year terms. The successful candidates will be installed in the month of December 2014. -more-

Attempted Robbery on UC Berkeley Campus

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Monday July 07, 2014 - 08:05:00 PM

Police at University of California, Berkeley, are attempting to locate two suspects who tried to rob a student walking on campus Friday night. The student was walking on the Grinnell Pathway near Mulford Hall around 8:45 p.m. when two males on bicycles approached and demanded his property, according to UC Berkeley police. -more-

Missing Woman Found Safe in Berkeley

Sasha Lekach (BCN and Planet)
Friday July 04, 2014 - 12:24:00 PM

A missing elderly homeless woman was found in Berkeley today, according to San Francisco police. -more-



Be a Patriot for a Change--Join the Democratic Parade

Becky O'Malley
Friday July 04, 2014 - 11:57:00 AM

Once again, it’s patriotism time. Many of our readers, I imagine, are thoroughly tired of the old love-your-country routine, and yet, it’s still worth considering.

If nothing else, it’s sobering to observe how many countries in the half-century or so I’ve been paying attention have enthusiastically announced conversion to “democracy”, only to revert to some kind of autocracy, with oligarchy being the most popular version. The former Soviet Union in all its branches provides a host of bad examples, along with a few successes to be sure.

The demise of the much-touted Arab Spring is the latest sad story. Some Middle Eastern countries can’t even drum up a strongman to run things, but have reverted to a kind of tribal feudalism reminiscent of Europe in Shakespeare’s time, with no end in sight. Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries which have absorbed a great deal of money and a huge investment of human lives, seem poised to abandon the pretense of elected governments altogether. And so it goes.

The “democracies” I studied in my high school ancient history class don’t look much better in retrospect. Yes, some Greeks and some Romans for relatively short periods of time had some versions of group decision-making, but your chances of being outside the group were much greater than your chance of being a voting citizen, if you were a foreigner, a woman, a slave…. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Subscribing to the Planet

Becky O'Malley
Sunday July 06, 2014 - 11:15:00 AM

A recent business section column expressed mystification at the discovery that many people prefers to get information through simple emailed newsletters instead of through complicated, graphics-heavy social media communication strategies. I’m not surprised—I hate all that fancy stuff myself. I’m a word person.

Well, I thought, maybe the Berkeley Daily Planet should have a newsletter.

But wait! We already do have a newsletter. Approximately weekly, I write to about 1,000 readers to give them links to stories they might want to read which have appeared on the website in the last two weeks or so.

I’ve realized that offering regular readers of the Planet the opportunity to “subscribe” doesn’t really tell them what that means.

It’s very simple. It's free. There are no dues. There are no meetings. Our email list doesn’t connect to anything else, so you won’t get any annoying new ads when you subscribe. We don’t share it with anyone.

If you’d like to get these letters from me, just send an email to If you change your mind, just send another email to

That’s really simple, isn’t it? -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Blind Alley (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Sunday July 06, 2014 - 09:27:00 PM

Public Comment

What's Wrong with Laura's Law

Carol Denney
Tuesday July 08, 2014 - 01:03:00 PM

If we lived in a world where housing was honestly affordable and readily available, mental health services were immediately available without social stigma, jobs were plentiful and paid a living wage, and local police departments were monitored by accountability systems which insured fair treatment for everyone, Ralph Stone might be able to make an argument for Laura's Law.

But at present, when none of those conditions are foreseeable, it is a recipe for the same discriminatory practices people in poverty see every day. -more-

Immigration System Needs Reform

Hamid Yazdan Panah
Friday July 04, 2014 - 08:36:00 AM

Last month a series of shocking photos were leaked showing undocumented children packed into Federal detention facilities. The photos were a disturbing reminder of just how broken our current immigration system is, and how little attention is being paid to those in need.

There is no doubt our immigration system needs reform. As a practicing immigration attorney, I can attest to how confusing and contradictory our current immigration laws can be. The politics of comprehensive immigration reform can be just as daunting, yet there must be common ground which we can all agree on. To start, we need to find practical solutions to address the global refugee epidemic, while treating those who flee violence and warfare with dignity and compassion. -more-

Israel and Palestine: occupation is at the root

Laetitia Tso
Friday July 04, 2014 - 08:04:00 AM

I am writing to express my views about the current escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine. The shedding of any child's blood is cause for deep mourning, and my heart is broken for the families of the 3 teenagers who were killed in the West Bank. But my heart also breaks for the families of the ten Palestinians killed in the last three weeks, and for the families of the 1,384 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli military since 2000, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. That's 1 child killed every 3 to 4 days. One of the Palestinian victims was 16 year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair who was found dead in East Jerusalem, the victim of what appears to be a price tag attack, revenge for the killing of three Israeli teenagers on the West Bank. He was the 10th Palestinian killed by the IDF or right-wing extremists in the last two weeks. We mourn his death as we do all lost lives. -more-

Reflecting on Independence Day and Ramadhan

Khalida Jamilah
Friday July 04, 2014 - 12:30:00 PM

The sixth day of Ramadhan is special because it is also America’s birthday. During Ramadhan, every Muslim around the world increase their spirituality by praying more intensely, reciting the Qur’an more abundantly, giving more charity, and being more grateful for every privilege that God has provided such as good health, wealth, family, and good education. As an immigrant from Indonesia and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I want to express my gratitude to God for enabling me to live in the United States so I could exercise my religion freely because in Indonesia, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is persecuted. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Getting Democrats to Vote

Bob Burnett
Thursday July 03, 2014 - 01:29:00 PM

After an absence of several years, the new Pew Research Center political typology poll was just released. It breaks the American political electorate into eight groups. And, it makes clear what the Democratic challenge is in November midterm election.. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Iraq: War & Remembrance

Conn Hallinan
Friday July 04, 2014 - 08:39:00 AM

“So far as Syria is concerned, it is France and not Turkey that is the enemy”

T. E. Lawrence, February 1915

It was a curious comment by the oddball, but unarguably brilliant, British agent and scholar, Thomas Edward Lawrence. The time was World War I, and England and France were locked in a death match with the Triple Alliance, of which Turkey was a prominent member. But it was none-the-less true, and no less now than then. In the Middle East, to paraphrase William Faulkner, history is not the past, it’s the present.

In his 1915 letter, Lawrence was describing French machinations over Syria, but he could just as well have been commenting on England’s designs in the region, what allied leaders in World War I came to call “The Great Loot”—the imperial vivisection of the Middle East.

As Iraq tumbles into a yet another civil war, it is important to remember how all this came about, and why adding yet more warfare to the current crisis will perpetuate exactly what the “Great Loot” set out to do: divide and conquer an entire region of the world. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: San Francisco Poised to Implement Laura’s Law

Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 04, 2014 - 12:13:00 PM

The Board of Supervisors appears poised to finally implement Laura’s Law in San Francisco at a meeting tentatively set for July 8. Supervisor David Campos, a long-time opponent of involuntary treatment of the mentally ill, reportedly agreed to support the move if certain amendments are added. With Campos’ vote, Laura’s Law is likely to pass avoiding a November referendum on the issue. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Being In Touch With Emotions—Is This a Good Thing?

Jack Bragen
Thursday July 03, 2014 - 01:22:00 PM

In the 1980's, a couple of different times I was an inpatient at Kaiser Martinez psychiatric ward, (a facility which probably no longer exists) and many of the staff members were very good. Some of them gave talks. One female staff member wrote on a chalk board the words, "Feel what you're feeling." -more-

SENIOR POWER: The people of Poplar and the residents of Nonnatus House

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday July 03, 2014 - 01:18:00 PM

I dipped into my Senior Power milk crate. A year ago now, the July 4, 2013 column began: “If you enjoyed PBS’ ‘Call the Midwife’ and want to know more about Jennifer Worth, RN RM, read on. You can also go to YouTube for an April 14, 2009 interview with her plus lots of related photographs.” -more-

Arts & Events

MUSIC REVIEWS: Ojai North Music Festival at Hertz Hall and Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes at San Francisco Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday July 03, 2014 - 01:24:00 PM

Kicking off the 2014 Ojai North Music Festival on Thursday, June 19, was a comic opera by Jeremy Denk and Steven Stucky entitled The Classical Style: An Opera (of Sorts). According to Denk, Music Director of Ojai North and librettist for this comic opera, the idea of making an opera out of Charles Rosen’s erudite book The Classical Style originally came to him as a joke. Denk, who had just spent an evening with Rosen, who was both a gifted pianist and a formidable musicologist, thought it might be hilariously entertaining to poke a bit of affectionate fun at Rosen’s learned musicological analysis of the so-called “classical style” of composers Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. -more-

Birthday Party for the Berkeley Post Office

Hali Hammer
Friday July 04, 2014 - 08:31:00 AM

It’s the 239th birthday of the United States Post Office and the 100th birthday of the Berkeley Post Office! Please join in the celebration which will include a birthday cake, music, and a group photo. These festivities will be one of many events throughout the country commemorating National Postal Heritage Day.

What: Birthday Party for the Berkeley Post Office

Where: On the steps of the Main Post Office, 2000 Allston Way at Milvia, Berkeley CA

When: Saturday, July 26, 2014 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. -more-

FILM REVIEW: Aaron Swartz:
The Internet's Own Boy
Opens July 4 at San Francisco's Roxie Theater

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Friday July 04, 2014 - 08:09:00 AM

It is only right that the filmed story of Aaron Swartz' amazing life and tragic death opens on Independence Day. This boy-genius, Internet pioneer, free speech activist and information liberator changed everyone's lives in many ways but when his idealism and organizing skills clashed with a corporate game-plan to secure massive profits by seizing electronic control of the flow of ideas, two things happened: (1) Against all odds, he thwarted Big Data's plot and (2) the US government pulled out all stops to destroy him. -more-