The Week



New: Chevron Gets Almost $1 Million in State Fines for "Serious, Willful" Worker Safety Violations

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Wednesday January 30, 2013 - 10:24:00 PM

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has fined Chevron nearly $1 million for worker safety violations related to a massive Aug. 6, 2012, fire at the company's Richmond refinery. -more-

Obama’s Organizing for Action: A Boost for Progressives (News Analysis)

by Randy Shaw
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 03:26:00 PM

President Obama’s second inaugural address struck a populist tone, but the real news for progressives came last Friday when it was announced that Obama’s campaign organization would continue under a new name, Organizing for Action. Headed by Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina, the new organization will initially focus on three key progressive issues: gun control, immigration reform, and climate change. The decision to use the Obama campaign base to mobilize around issues reverses the mistake made after the 2008 victory, when the huge Obama for America grassroots base was cut adrift from mobilizing behind the President’s first term agenda. -more-

Three Recent Violent Tales
from Berkeley's Notorious Caffe Mediterraneum

By Ted Friedman
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:38:00 AM
Officer peers into "almost stolen" cop car outside Cafe Med last week. The interior showed signs of a struggle.

Tale One: Purloined Food at Med; How Secure is Your Food Order?

Coconut—a street kid, who hangs out on Telegraph near the Caffe Mediterraneum, 2475 Telegraph—grabbed off a plate of food from the Med's kitchen take-away counter, Dec, 27. -more-

James (Jimmie) Labonski
November 28, 1990-January 23, 2013.

By Elsa Labonski
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 03:28:00 PM
Jimmie Labonski, in the center in the yellow shirt, surrounded by his cousins.

All his life Jimmie struggled with autism, cerebral palsy, and asthma. He learned to walk, and to communicate, in the face of a negative medical prognosis. He memorized all the States and their capitals, and 30 countries and their capitals. He associated every speck of his knowledge with people he knew, or things he read in books. He knew one of his beloved teachers came from Argentina, capital Buenos Aires, and another from New Zealand, capital Wellington. He knew that the Komodo dragon at the West Palm Zoo was from Indonesia, capital Jakarta. He had a doctor from Egypt and another from Peru. He loved McDonald’s, Spiderman and all of Tomie De Paola’s books. He loved Jerry Garcia’s Not For Kids Only album and Raffi‘s Singable Songs. His favorite music was Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and he listened to them for hours. -more-

Nicholas Wolfrom Reznick

Friday January 25, 2013 - 09:13:00 AM

Nick Reznick lived an amazing life of love, laughter and adventure. While exploring the beauty of the canyon country that he enjoyed so much, Nick was lost in a small aircraft accident near the town of Escalante, UT. A resident of Escalante, and formerly of Flagstaff, AZ, he was a well known farmer, river runner, horseman and outdoor enthusiast. -more-



Celebrating the New America at the Inauguration

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:48:00 AM

I’m usually one of San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll’s most fervent admirers, but this time he’s gotten it really wrong. Last week he filed a column complaining about preparations for the Inauguration, telling us that “I was happy to see that the president's Inauguration committee is falling short of its $50 million fundraising goal. Not that I wish the president ill - he should live long and prosper - but because I don't much care for glitzy governmental parties when the country is in bad shape.”

He went on to opine that the $50 million which the Inauguration committee hoped to raise from donors could be better spent:

“$50 million is a lot of money, particularly when being raised from donors who just a few months ago gave generously, more than generously, to the Obama re-election campaign. Some of them feel they have already bought a place in the inaugural.

“But think what $50 million could do elsewhere. Think of it given to the city of Oakland to upgrade its police services. Wouldn't that be swell? The money could certainly help some of the victims of Superstorm Sandy. It might do all sorts of things, but it isn't doing any of them.”

Well, from an economic perspective, Jon ought to be reading our colleague Paul Krugman more closely before he decides that spending money on festivities in a recession is a bad idea.

After all, who gets most of the money spent on a big shindig like this? Waitresses and taxi drivers and garbage collectors and, yes, D.C. police officers and others near the bottom of the pay scale (now euphemistically called the middle class, but really the working class). It’s stimulus money, just what the economy needs, being put right into the stream of commerce where it will be spent by the recipients to buy basic goods and services and will thus aid economic recovery. -more-


Odd Bodkins: the Ultimate Punishment (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 12:25:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Berkeley's Marin Circle Needs Signs

By Jean-Luc Szpakowski
Monday January 28, 2013 - 10:51:00 PM

Marin Circle needs more signs, not fewer. This morning as I was doing a 180 degree turn in the circle, a white car came by from Arlington at high speed, not pausing or yielding, barely avoiding crashing into my right rear. What Arlington needs is a stop sign, like every other entrance into the circle except Marin west of circle. -more-

Bait and Switch Works Again
at 740 Heinz in West Berkeley

By Tree Fitzpatrick
Friday January 25, 2013 - 08:39:00 AM

Thanks to Curtis Manning and the Daily Planet for publishing his well reasoned argument, with lots of specific detail, for all the reasons why what the city is trying to pull with 740 Heinz subverts the 'no' vote against the West Berkeley development measure on the November 2012 ballot. It seems clear that our public servants, including city staff and elected representatives do not pay actual attention to the laws and actual facts when they make zoning adjustments and approve developments that contravene the people's will. Mr. Manning's detailed analysis should have prevented the city council from blithely approving Wareham's new proposal which greatly alters the zoning of West Berkeley. Shame on them. -more-

A Note on Social Welfare Programs

By Thomas Lord
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:08:00 AM

The context for this note is the public policy debate that we'll be entering in a few scant weeks when the sequestration debate is taken up in connection to the slightly post-poned debt ceiling debate. Here are some progressive talking points you'll soon be meeting (for the good reason that they are sound): -more-

Marin Circle's Signs Not Needed

By Peter Smalley
Monday January 28, 2013 - 10:53:00 PM

I wish to join Larry Raines in objecting to this latest example of official grafitti. New signage in public places should only appear when there is a demonstrated need to address a real danger or threat to the community. WRONG WAY-DO NOT ENTER at freeway off ramps is appropriate, while BE NICE-FOLLOW THE RULES would be a clear waste of money, visual pollution and an insult to citizens' intelligence. The Marin Circle eyesores are perfect examples of the second category. -more-

The Human Cost of California's "Fixed" Budget

By Russ Tilleman
Friday January 25, 2013 - 09:13:00 AM

Governor Jerry Brown recently congratulated himself for "fixing" the California budget, but he left out some of the details. One of the cuts involved in "fixing" the budget was the removal of essentially all dental care for poor and disabled people. Medicaid used to cover normal dental care like exams, cleanings and fillings, but now it mainly just covers pulling out a poor or disabled person's teeth after they go bad. And the reason they go bad is lack of the preventive care that Medicaid used to cover. -more-

“Who cares, really, if Lance Armstrong or Barry Bonds used steroids...?”

By Carol Denney
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:08:00 PM

I care. Not just because using steroids is illegal, and not just because it has serious health effects, and not just because its use contributes to kids’ and sports fans warped views about what healthy, well-trained athletes’ bodies look like and can do. -more-

Bus Bench Blues

By Lydia Gans
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:32:00 AM
The bench at the bus stop in front of Peet's on Telegraph

The bench at the bus stop in front of Peet's on Telegraph is back. Thank you to the city management for keeping your promise to return it “soon” - though a year and a half is rather stretching the definition of “soon”. Not to be ungrateful but that bench is about the shabbiest piece of furniture we've ever seen. It looks like it came directly out of a scrapyard. Mr. Becker and the TBID folks won't need to worry because nobody is going to sit on that bench any longer than necessary, that's until the next bus comes. -more-

Signage on Berkeley's Marin Circle Is Unsightly and Unneeded

By Larry Raines
Friday January 25, 2013 - 10:07:00 AM

This morning on my way to work I noticed the addition of unsightly signage at the Marin Circle. I would like to ask for your support in removing or relocating this unnecessary signage. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama’s Legacy: Drone Wars

Friday January 25, 2013 - 08:35:00 AM

After Barack Obama’s stirring second inaugural address, Democrats anticipate action on vital domestic issues, such as immigration reform and gun control. Nonetheless, the national security budget will continue to dominate discretionary expenditures, as the President pursues the “war” on terror using aerial robots – drones. -more-

AGAINST FORGETTING: Gender wars: women redefining customs as crimes

By Ruth Rosen
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 04:56:00 PM

The social movements of the 60s gave American women the skills to name and address the injuries they faced in their own lives, and led to a global women’s movement that is now facing a violent backlash. We need to know this history in order to fight for women’s rights today

The idea of gender equality has almost always had its origins in a civil war, a revolution or a social movement. In the United States, the women’s movement had its origins in the American civil rights and anti-war social movements of the sixties. What was called “The Movement” gave birth, after a long and hard labour, to a movement that eventually flourished in the United States and spread around the globe.

The conventional wisdom is that the men in the New Left in the United States treated women so badly, that they gradually began leaving to start a movement that addressed their own lives. This is true, but does not capture a more complicated picture of the past. The “Movement" was also a tremendous gift to young women in which they learned how to name injustices, question the supremacy of one group over another in the civil rights movement, and to challenge the authority of the government in the anti-war movement. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Effects of Quitting Medication Against Medical Advice

By Jack Bragen
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:29:00 AM

When a person with schizophrenia takes antipsychotic medication over time, it is possible that he or she may develop a tolerance to these drugs. A well-known doctor (whose name I will not mention) claims that certain prescription drugs produce the very diseases they are intended to treat. (I'm assuming he meant that this is because they create a tolerance.) This doesn't mean that someone with severe psychosis shouldn't be medicated-such a person is in trouble and needs the help of the medicine. -more-


By Harry Brill
Friday January 25, 2013 - 08:37:00 AM

Last night a friend of mine passed away a month before he reached his 74th year birthday. Thanks to good hospice care, he was taken good care of in his final days.. But I am feeling now the pain of depression, and not only because of the death of this friend. Over the years I have buried lots of friends, relatives, and acquaintances younger than I am. In most of these instances, cancer was the culprit. Why? Because we live in a diseased environment that is killing people. The private sector is not only mainly to blame. Government agencies, whose purpose is to protect the public more often than not look the other way. To add insult to injury, it is our tax money that funds these agencies that in practice serve the major corporations. This is morally unjust and insane. -more-

Arts & Events

Around & About Music: Berkeley Symphony; Strata at Berkeley Chamber Performances

By Ken Bullock
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 05:14:00 PM

—Joana Carneiro will conduct Berkeley Symphony in The Illuminators, including the world premiere of Portuguese composer Andreia Pinto-Correia's Alfama, with Lutoslowki's Cello Concerto (performed by Lynn Harrell) and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, Opus 45, 8 p.m. Thursday, February 7, at Zellerbach Hall, UC campus. -more-

Around & About Jazz & Improvisational Music: Tony Passarell Trio at Light A Fire Music Series

Thursday January 24, 2013 - 05:11:00 PM

Tony Passarell, originally from Santa Rosa, has been a mainstay of the diverse music scene in Sacramento for decades now. His Trio (Keith Cary, bass; Bart van Zeeuw, drums) will play with Thollem McDonal (solo piano) and Opera Wolf (Crystal Pascucci, cello; Joshua Marshall, sax; Robert Lopez, percussion) at Freelove Music School, 4390 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland (near Pleasant valley Road), this Sunday at 8., for Outsounds productions. $5-$10, sliding scale. -more-

Around & About Theater: A Mini-Review of 'God of Carnage' at Altarena Playhouse

By Ken Bullock
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 05:10:00 PM

Altarena Playhouse is celebrating its 75th season, opening it with a hilarious production of Yasmina Reza's 'God of Carnage,' directed by Sue Trigg, through February 19, and their new company library-history exhibit, including programs, posters, reviews and photos for nearly 400 productions since its founding. -more-

Great Characters and Staging Win in Masquers' “Expecting Isabel”

By John A. McMullen II
Thursday January 24, 2013 - 11:17:00 AM
Katina Letheule, Abhi Katyal, Shay Oglesby-Smith, Loralee Windsor, David Irving, Vicki Zabarte, Richard Friedlander

“Expecting Isabel” by Lisa Loomer at the Point Richmond Masquers Playhouse has a talented and well-rehearsed cast of actors that keeps the action fluid and energetic. Playing several characters with well-defined dialects and different embodiments, there is a surprise every few minutes. -more-

Press Release: The Chamber of Commerce Has Plans
for Downtown Berkeley

From the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
Friday January 25, 2013 - 10:10:00 AM

When: Monday, February 4, 2013 ~ 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Where: Berkeley Chamber of Commerce ~ 1834 University Avenue, Second Floor

Please bring your Brown Bag Lunch - Space is Limited

Please join Government Affairs Chairperson Mark Rhoades, AICP, John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, and Michael Caplan, Manager of the City of Berkeley's Office of Economic Development, at the Chamber of Commerce's Government Affairs Committee on Monday, February 4th, 2013, for a discussion and update on Downtown Berkeley. -more-