One of the goals of the Berkeley Public Library Board-approved Library Strategic Plan: 2011-2013 is to cultivate a broader base of Berkeley residents into regular library users. One of the initiatives of this goal is the development of a Communications Plan. The San Francisco-based public relations firm BergDavis Public Affairs has been engaged to assist the library with gathering valuable feedback from the community and stakeholders through a detailed, user-oriented survey. -more-
A Berkeley woman and her boyfriend, who had been missing since Christmas Eve, were found dead in Shasta County on Friday, according to county sheriff's officials. -more-
University of California President Mark Yudof today announced he is retiring in August after five years at the helm of the school system. -more-
I have to grant that the Dreamliner is a gorgeous plane. I recently returned to SFO aboard one of Boeing's new 787s. I certainly appreciated the fact that there was lots of legroom and headroom (you no longer need to stoop while waiting to leave your seat: you can stand fully erect without bumping your head on the overhead baggage area).
In addition, the lightweight carbon fiber construction makes the Dreamliner 20 percent more fuel-efficient 20 percent less polluting. The new design also improves air quality and removes toxic fuel contaminants from the air-conditioning system – producing the cleanest air, well … in the air.
But the Dreamliner has gotten off to a rickety start and is now grounded. In a single week in January, several of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliners caught fire, leaked fuel, experienced braking problems and suffered electrical malfunctions. What next? -more-
A judge today ordered two men to stand trail on murder and attempted murder charges for a fatal shooting near a Berkeley barbershop in broad daylight in October 2010 that left one man dead and another seriously wounded.
At the end of a lengthy preliminary hearing that began in mid-December and met intermittently since then, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman ruled that prosecutors showed that there's probable cause to show that Brandon Wallace, 23, of Bay Point, and Coleon Lee Carroll, 23, of Berkeley, are responsible for a shooting in the 2900 block of Sacramento Street in Berkeley at 8:45 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2010, that left Gary Ferguson Jr., a 35-year-old Oakland man, dead and a second man seriously injured.
Berkeley police said at least a few dozen shots were fired in the incident.
Prosecutor Steve Dal Porto, who declined to disclose a motive for the shooting, said he believes that the shooting was carried out by Wallace and another man who is still at large and Carroll was the driver in the incident. -more-
University of California President Mark G. Yudof today (January 18, 2013) issued the following announcement:
I have decided to bring to a close my tenure as President of the University of California, effective August 31, 2013. While the decision is my own, the moment comes with a mixture of emotions. For a transplant from Texas, by way of Philadelphia and Minnesota, every day at the University of California has brought new wonders. -more-
Actor David Clennon, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, claims that the movie Zero Dark Thirty "promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America's so-called War on Terror." Mr. Clennon, along with actors Ed Asner and Michael Sheen, state they will not vote for the film in any category.
The endless brouhaha over whether or not various athletic performers have used external substances to enhance their performance is ridiculous. It makes about as much sense as being shocked to discover that screen stars from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna have peroxided their hair.
Yes, sports fans, that body you see on your huge screen is very likely altered to improve the viewing experience. Lance Armstrong now admits he used testosterone.
That’s showbiz, kids. Get over it already.
Contrary to what many seem to believe, contemporary sporting events are not religious ceremonies, as the ancient Olympics sometimes were. They are entertainment, pure and simple, and, like other entertainers, athletes like Lance make many adjustments to their genetic endowment. -more-
As reported on Berkeleyside last week, Wareham Development has asked to build a new design at 740 Heinz Avenue. In 2009, according to the Berkeleyside story (I have no other source for any stated facts about Wareham & 740 Heinz Ave), Wareham agreed to retain two walls in the 740 Heinz Ave building, which has long been declared a historic landmark. The Zoning Adjustment board agreed to the changes, acting as if Wareham had some kind of 'rights' simply because they had a previous agreement to build, an agreement they did not perform. Since when does a prior agreement with the city grant special rights when seeking adjustments from the zoning board?!! Wareham says an earthquake retrofit makes the historic building too expensive to restore. Wareham, by the way, does not own the real estate, it merely seeks to build on it. -more-
I'm submitting this public comment to the City of Berkeley's Zoning Adjustment Board regarding the proposed 2024 Durant/2025 Channing private student dorm project on behalf of the low-income seniors of the Stuart Pratt Manor senior residence next door, at 2020 Durant, and on behalf of residents of the protected R-4/R-3 southwest downtown area. We are deeply concerned that the city is trampling the rights of the low-income seniors and of the protected R-4/R-3 southwest downtown residential neighborhood by violating policies specifically designed to protect them, specifically Downtown Area Goal LU-7 and Policy LU-7.1.
Goal LU-7 directs the city to maintain the existing scale and character of the residential neighborhood, and Policy LU-7.1 directs the city to downzone proprieties in the R-4 residential-only neighborhood to R-3 zoning.
In addition, approval of the proposed project would violate and negatively impact many other General Plan and Downtown Area Plan goals and policies to the detriment of the residential neighborhood and the downtown area, include goals and policies promoting affordable housing, the health of seniors, and bicycle transportation to and from downtown.
Our opposition to the proposed 2024 Durant/2025 Channing project focuses on three areas:
1) protecting the health and welfare of the senior residents at 2020 Durant
2) protecting the scale and character of the R-4/R-3 southwest downtown residential neighborhood
3) promoting fair and just governance in Berkeley
Summary of Arguments: -more-
Although the permit process in Berkeley is thought to proceed neutrally, according to proposal merits under existing zoning regulations, some proposals seem more equal than others. In the case of 740 Heinz Ave,, Wareham Development has been permitted to build to 74 ft after a complete demolition of the existing historical landmark -- this in a district in which the zoning regulations list 45 ft. as the standard maximum allowed height for new construction. Wareham’s proposed building has a floor area ratio (FAR) of four (a total floor area four times the lot area), in a district with a FAR limit of 2.0. -more-
In reaction to recent mass shootings, liberals and progressives across the nation are allegedly enthusiastic about beefing up federal gun regulation. The NRA is finally on the ropes, it is oddly presumed against all evidence. Now is the time for common sense regulation, of some sort, because of Australia and London "Bobbies" or something.
Common sense is a tricky bird. We really ought to step back and consider if these "common sense" measures will really improve public safety and what else these measures might do. -more-
Back in 2010, right after the San Bruno explosion killed 8 people, PG&E threatened to make its California customers pay the cost of reparations and reconstruction. But that would make those customers accessories to manslaughter (the crime with which PG&E could have been charged). There are laws on the books in any state in the US which say that anyone who contributes money to an organization, some of whose actions constitute felonies, become accessories to those crimes after the fact.
Today, at the end of 2012, PG&E's threat has become a reality. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has agreed to allow PG&E to pass on 65% of the costs of the damage and compensation, that is, the costs of its criminal negligence, to its customers. In other words, the CPUC has approved our becoming accessories to PG&E's malfeasance, its "debt to society," as it were. It makes us victims as well as accesssories to that criminality. Nowhere else in this economy are customers required to pay for the crimes of those from whom they buy goods.
If we are to maintain our honor as law-abiding people, we must decline this opportunity to contribute to PG&E's transgressions. But that will require more than simply refusing to pay the toll for that corporation's destructions. It will require organizing to make any refusal feasible and effective. -more-
What on earth would I do without my wonderful Peet's Coffee at Telegraph and Dwight Way? I go there about 3 or 4 times a week.
Located just five blocks from my apartment, the exercise is exactly what I need. Finding a free table is sometimes difficult, but I usually manage. Ordering a café au lait and a maple sugar scone, I settle happily at my table watching the busy world go by on Telegraph. Occasionally I spot a local celebrity (i.e., Robert Hass, our Poet Laureate.) It's such a pleasure seeing the great racial diversity our city offers—beautiful Indian women in their flowing saris and African American in equally colorful attire. -more-
The US has a deficit problem. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that, if the US maintains the current tax code, we will only produce annual revenue of 18 percent of gross domestic product. Thus running annual budget deficits of $800 billion. The bipartisan 2010 Simpson-Bowles Commission recommended that we deal with this imbalance by raising additional revenue of $2.2 trillion over the next ten years. We must increase taxes. -more-
“It appears the French had one of their wars going on thereabouts”
Charlie Marlow from Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’
The vision that Conrad’s character Marlow describes is of a French frigate firing broadsides into a vast African jungle, in essence, bombarding a continent. That image came to mind this week when French Mirages and helicopter gunships went into action against a motley army of Islamic insurgents in Mali.
That there is a surge of instability in that land-locked and largely desert country should hardly come as a surprise to the French: they and their allies are largely the cause.
And they were warned. -more-
Being defined by a negative event is an unhappy thing. When major events take place, they seem to have a shaping influence on our lives, and this includes an effect on a person's day-to-day thoughts.
When receiving treatment in the mental health system, everything we do has the "mentally ill person" stamp on it. Our housing could be a unit set aside for a person with mental illness; our job could be a volunteer job or could be a "job" which has been provided by the mental health treatment system. The schedule we live on is filled with appointments connected to our mental illness; psychiatry and therapy appointments. We must continuously get our medications filled at the pharmacy. Thus, a person with mental illness often isn't allowed to forget for a moment that we are "a mental health consumer." -more-
One in four Israeli seniors cannot afford heating. Fuel bills for English elderly have doubled. Meanwhile, in Berkeley, California, senior power has become a trite phrase for numerous low-income renters who must resort to space heaters, heating pads, open oven-doors, and electric and emotional overloads. Old people who do not have families or whose primary language is not English are especially disadvantaged. Nighttime is the worst.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, sixty-two year old Dr. Rowan Williams, believes that society “can’t wait to get old people off our hands.” Last month he warned that the elderly could make a massive contribution, but many people are simply waiting for them to die. “[It is an] undoubted fact that we are becoming dangerously used to speaking and thinking of ‘an ageing population’ as a problem, a burden on public purse and private resources alike.”
In his final House of Lords speech, Williams said that too many older people are being tolerated rather than valued. The extremes of human life—childhood and old age—are sidelined because of an eccentric idea that only those in the so-called prime of life can contribute. Because families are becoming more scattered as people move to different areas, some young people are growing up with little contact with older people. The tendency to view older people as dependents or as problems is the root cause of neglect and abuse. Older people are routinely seen as passive and dependents instead of as assets. “We must recognize that it is assumptions about the basically passive character of the older population that foster attitudes of contempt and exasperation and ultimately create a climate in which abuse occurs.” He called for the Government to consider introducing a commissioner for older people, similar to the system in Wales. -more-
Arts & Events
Nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, Austrian director Michael Haneke's Amour, features a trio of French acting royalty in a stunning, intimate portrayal of the grandeur (and drudgery) of devotion, when an aging couple is forced to square off with the demands of mortality. Jean Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert embody the close-knit and cultured octogenarian couple Georges, and Anne and their distant musician daughter. Trintignant (81) has acted in more than 100 films (including A Man and a Woman). Riva (85) has appeared in more than 40 movies (beginning with a starring role in Hiroshima Mon Amour). Huppert has more than 70 films to her credit. Together they represent nearly 150 years of cinematic chops. -more-
AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: Altarena Playhouse's 75th Anniversary and 'God of Carnage, directed by Sue Trigg
Altarena Playhouse turns 75 this year, and to mark the event, there will be a reception after Friday's opening of 'Good of Carnage' by Yasmina Reza ('Art') for their new multimedia theater library and company history room, including materials from their run of more than 400 productions dating back to 1938. -more-
Best of the Berkeley Video & Film Festival (BVFF) 2012 This Friday-Saturday at East Bay Media Center's New Screening Room in Downtown Berkeley
The Berkeley Video & Film Festival, founded in 1990, will be screening its Best of 2012 program this Friday and Saturday nights at the East Bay Media Center's excellent new screening room in downtown Berkeley--and at a great price: $5 a night for a wide array of styles and subject matter from all over (including the vaunted University of Southern California's film program), including Andrea Heckman' and Rose Gordon's documentary about Bon, the pre-Buddhist rerligion of Tibet, and its preservation by Tibetan Buddhists, short fiction films, animation, television innovations ... A potpourri of unusual work. -more-