The Week



Updated: Berkeley Police Re-Open Intersection Closed for 3+ Hours to Investigate Package--There Was No Problem After All

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday July 22, 2015 - 06:56:00 PM

Investigators shut down a North Berkeley intersection for over three hours while investigating a suspicious package found there today, according to police. But Berkeley police checked the package and determined it did not contain anything dangerous,they said. Streets were reopened at about 3:30 p.m. -more-

Flash: Police activity near Hopkins and Monterey. Avoid area. Roads closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Berkeley Police Department
Wednesday July 22, 2015 - 01:17:00 PM

The Berkeley Police is currently investigating a suspicious package found near the intersection of Monterey Avenue and Hopkins Street. The intersection is closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic. -more-

David Allen Baker, 1942-2015
The Legacy of an Urban Environmentalist

Sharon Hudson
Wednesday July 22, 2015 - 01:15:00 PM

Community leader and neighborhood activist David Allen Baker, 72, died on July 8, 2015, after a long and difficult illness.

David will be missed, not only by his personal friends, but also by all Berkeleyans who have benefitted and continue to benefit from his efforts. David was one of a dwindling handful of neighborhood stewards in the north end of Willard Neighborhood, between Dwight Way and Derby Street. Whatever remains of that neighborhood’s charm and livability is in large part due to David’s efforts.

David was a man of brilliant energy who had studied English literature, but whose primary passion was science, especially astronomy, evolutionary biology, and ecology. Charismatic and inspiring, contrary and cantankerous, David was also sociable, compassionate, and generous in both spirit and in deed. Although his life was far from easy, he determined to meet every day with joyous spontaneity. He loved nature, especially the star-gazing in the Pinnacles, and I fondly remember our rambling camping trips through Mendocino and Monterey Counties.

David bought his beloved Victorian house on Parker Street in the 1960s. For decades he looked after the local common spaces and even the properties of nearby absentee landlords. He viewed the urban landscape, no matter how damaged, as an ecosystem worth protecting. Though fully aware that it was city policy to let students ruin his and other neighborhoods around campus, he looked after his student neighbors with grandfatherly affection. However, he brazenly confronted anyone who impinged on others’ rights in the arenas of noise and light pollution, vandalism, and other blights. -more-

New: U.C. System Sets Minimum Wage for All Employees at $15/hour by 2017

Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Wednesday July 22, 2015 - 11:26:00 AM

The University of California today announced that it will raise the minimum wage for all workers systemwide to $15 an hour over the next three years. -more-

Scientists Warn Hayward Fault Expected to Produce Much Larger Quake in Berkeley Area

Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Tuesday July 21, 2015 - 02:22:00 PM

The fault that produced a 4.0-magnitude earthquake in Fremont early this morning is expected to produce a major earthquake "any day now" and Bay Area residents should be prepared, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist said today. -more-

New: Quake on Hayward Fault Shakes Berkeley

Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Tuesday July 21, 2015 - 02:14:00 PM

BART delays and more than a dozen aftershocks were reported in the wake of a 4.0-magnitude earthquake centered on the border of Fremont and Union City this morning, but little or no damage occurred. -more-

Shopping News

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Monday July 20, 2015 - 09:30:00 AM

Three men fired five to six gunshots in an Emeryville Target parking lot yesterday morning, according to the Emeryville police. -more-

It's Hot Here, Folks

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Monday July 20, 2015 - 08:21:00 AM

Three Bay Area cities saw record high temperatures today, according to the National Weather Service. -more-

New: Freedomland: One Country Under Guard

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Sunday July 19, 2015 - 10:52:00 AM

I have my own army in the NYPD—the seventh largest army in the world."

—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

"Officers' safety comes first, and not infringing on people's rights comes second."

—Philadelphia Police Spokesperson Fran Healy

Once again, it's time to grab a picnic blanket and head for the parks: The San Francisco Mime Troupe has kicked off its 56th year of "overthrowing capitalism, one musical comedy at the time."

While the current production, Freedomland, may not be the most "entertaining," laugh-out-loud show the troupers have ever staged, it stands out as one of the most thoughtful and sobering. Freedomland is fraught with emotion and analysis. Call it, for want of a better phrase, a "musical tragedy," fueled with a polemicist's intensity, a Shakespearean reach, and a doo-wop dollop of tuneful songs. -more-

New: Great Big Smelly Plant Might Bloom Soon at Berkeley Garden

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Saturday July 18, 2015 - 11:26:00 PM

A massive plant from Sumatra, Indonesia, may bloom any day now at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, according to garden officials. -more-

Police Ask for Help Regarding Death of Berkeley Resident

Erin Baldassari (BCN)
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:40:00 PM

Police are asking for the public's help providing any information about a 30-year-old woman whose body turned up on the rocks near Point Isabel in Richmond earlier this month. -more-



Books Inc. Moves to North Berkeley Bearing Gifts

Becky O'Malley
Friday July 17, 2015 - 05:20:00 PM

A lot of email comes to my various addresses, and I’m on several interesting list-servs as well. In the last couple of days correspondents have been burning up the wireless wires as they found out about a panel discussion which is scheduled to be part of the festivities celebrating the Books, Inc. chain’s move from their previous West Berkeley location into the North Berkeley space once the home of locally-owned Black Oak Books.

(For full details of all the scheduled events, click here.)

Mostly, it’s a line-up of the usual food fetishists and sensitive novelists, but this description (from the Heyday Books press release newsletter) of the lineup has gotten a lot of people lathered up: -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Public Comment

Solving Homelessness in Berkeley

Thomas Lord
Friday July 17, 2015 - 01:58:00 PM

Dear Berkeley,

There's a contradiction you have to come to grips with.

On the one hand, we are a free country (well...let's pretend, at least). We exist in a global market. People are free to travel, associate, and express themselves. People are free to participate in the market.

At least, these are our ideals.

Today we see a sort of lumpenproletariat, often sitting on the sidewalks. Many of them occupy more than two square feet, with their stuff. Many of them might remain in a spot for more than a few minutes. or more than an hour. -more-

New: Chattanooga Shooting

Ramlah Malhi
Monday July 20, 2015 - 09:28:00 AM

It is heart breaking to hear that our country has lost four heroes on Thursday July 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This terror act not only targeted the Marines in the recruiting facility but was a blow to every American. Growing up close to the Military Ocean and Terminal Concord (MOTCO) and the Concord naval weapons station, which has become part of pride and identity, and personally knowing members of our armed forces makes the loss very close to home. Every loss is a loss we must bear as one with a heavy heart and respond to it calmly. -more-

Berkeley/Oakland Tree Cutting Plan to Be Disclosed at Saturday Event

Jack Gescheidt
Friday July 17, 2015 - 05:57:00 PM

If you’ve heard about the big, controversial plan to cut down lots and lots of of trees in the Oakland and Berkeley hills because they’re hazardous, or fire hazards, and you’re not sure what to make of it, here’s an example of the phone conversations I’ve been having the past few months about it. -more-

Care for the Whole Citizenry

Romila Khanna
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:35:00 PM

Why does our Congress look down upon the needy and the poor? Why does their legislative process hurt the most vulnerable members of the population the most? Why does the Congress just favor the rich people, the big manufacturers and the large donors? Why does Congress eye people's earned social security benefits trying to compel people to turn these benefits into stocks on the open market? -more-

CPUC Electric Rate Hike Approval Retards Energy Conservation

Bruce Joffe
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:28:00 PM

It is outrageous that the California Public Utilities Commission released its plan for changing electricity rates on Wednesday before the July 4th weekend, and approved it on Friday, giving no time for public comment, or even for public awareness of its action. Current rates which reward energy conservation will be reversed, so low-usage customers will be paying higher rates while high-usage energy wasters will pay lower rates. This would mean higher bills for about 75% of electricity customers in the coming years, while rate reductions would go to the top 5% of users. That just ain't right. -more-


Tejinder Uberoi
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:33:00 PM

The U.S. backed Saudi offensive against Houthi rebels has caused widespread chaos. A Saudi naval blockade cutting off food and fuel supplies has precipitated widespread famine. 80 percent of Yemen’s 25 million are in dire need of humanitarian aid and more than one million have fled their homes. Yemen is one of the most impoverished nations in the world with over 90 percent of its food imported. The Saudi-led coalition’s (UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Jordan) indiscriminate bombing has intensified rage against the Saudis and the U.S. and boosted support for the Houthi rebels. -more-

War Crimes in Gaza

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:37:00 PM

In its long awaited report, the UN Human Rights Council's independent investigation of Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer found evidence of “massive and systematic war crimes”. Investigators were “able to gather substantial information pointing to serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law by Israel and by Palestinian armed groups.” Investigation chairperson, Justice Mary McGowan Davis, stated that “the extent of the devastation and human suffering in Gaza was unprecedented and will impact generations to come.” -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Five Keys to the Iran Agreement

Bob Burnett
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:05:00 PM

On July 14th, the United States, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia reached an agreement with Iran to “significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.” Beyond the mechanics, there are five keys to this agreement. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Brain Health and Tangential Ramblings

Jack Bragen
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:25:00 PM

Thirty-two years or so of taking high dosages of antipsychotic medication apparently hasn't ruined my brain. Aside from being a writer, I am still able to meet most of my needs--except for relying on Social Security rather than having a day job. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Gun Control Anyone?

Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:30:00 PM

Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year old white supremacist, is accused of murdering nine worshippers at the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C. President Obama called the shootings "senseless murders" and suggested more gun control is needed in the wake of the tragedy. -more-


Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:01:00 PM

Ninety-one year old Ruth Karola Westheimer is an American sex therapist, media personality, and author best known as Dr. Ruth. The New York Times describes her as a psychologist who became a kind of cultural icon in the 1980s.… She ushered in the new age of freer, franker talk about sex on radio and television—and was endlessly parodied for her enthusiasm and for her accent. Dr. Ruth’s latest book is The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre. -more-

Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT: Berkeley Period Instrument Musicians Start Up First Valley of the Moon Music Festival, July 18-August 2

Ken Bullock
Friday July 17, 2015 - 06:21:00 PM

Cellist Tanya Tomkins—co-founder of the new Valley of the Moon Music Festival, starting this weekend at Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma, the only festival in the U. S. featuring Classical and Romantic chamber music played on period instruments—recalls when she was "studying and performing in Holland, years ago" she heard the Orchestra of the 18th Century play "a very familiar" Mozart symphony on period instruments. -more-

New: George Cleve Kicks off Midsummer Mozart 2015

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday July 21, 2015 - 02:13:00 PM

In this, the 41st season of Midsummer Mozart, founding director George Cleve scheduled Program I with Mozart’s 41st Symphony in C Major, as well as such less frequently encountered works as the Oboe Concerto in C Major, the Horn Concerto No. 2 in Eb Major, the overture to the one-act opera Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario) and several rarely performed arias. On Friday evening, July 17, the Midsummer Mozart company performed at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Maestro Cleve, who now uses a wheelchair, conducted only the opening Impresario overture and the final work, Mozart’s 41st or “Jupiter” Symphony. All the other works by Mozart were ably conducted by Assistant Conductor, Florin Parvelescu. -more-