A male victim was robbed at gunpoint while walking near the University of California at Berkeley campus Monday night, UC police said. -more-
Police are searching for a man who sexually assaulted a child in a restroom at the Berkeley Marina this afternoon, Berkeley police said. -more-
A three-alarm fire at a residential hotel in downtown Berkeley this morning forced a dramatic evacuation and caused several minor injuries, but a quick response by firefighters minimized the damage, a fire official said. -more-
Press Release: Southern California's Malfunctioning Nuclear Power Plant to Close Permanently--Closure Protects Whales, Sea Turtles, People
EDITOR'S NOTE: The first story I ever wrote for publication was an SF Bay Guardian piece about the environmental hazards which the proposed San Onofre nuclear power plant threatened. I'm happy to see, only about 40 years too late, that my analysis has finally been acknowledged. -more-
New: Local Author Returns to Berkeley for Readings of Highly Praised Novel: The Rescuer's Path by Paula Friedman
I encountered The Rescuer's Path on a Caribbean vacation. Looking for something to read while a Trinidad rainstorm rambled in over the treetops, I reached into my backpack and dug out a copy of Paula Friedman's 200-page book. Within minutes, I was hooked. While my body was slung in a hammock slowly rocked by warm, tropical breezes, my mind was a thousand miles away — transported back to the year 1971 and tangled in the underbrush in Washington DC's Rock Creek Park, a stone's throw from the US Capitol. -more-
(This is the second in a series of periodic articles about issues related to Telegraph Avenue.)
Recently I walked through what clearly struck me as a troubled Berkeley neighborhood shopping district. Although it is well positioned to take advantage of commerical opportunities—it's along a famous avenue, lying close to both Downtown and UC Berkeley, near BART, and on major transit lines—it exhibited many problems that call for concerted City action.
One of the first things you see along as you enter the neighborhood along the main avenue from the south is a large vacant lot—vacant since the building there burned down in a big, 1980s fire. There has been no apparent effort to rebuilt, even though the fire was a quarter century or more ago. Another prominent property nearby recently suffered a major fire. -more-
The shut-down of Berkeley's redevelopment agency may wind up costing the city more than $1.3 million dollars, including $750,000 dollars gone missing from the Retiree Medical Trust Fund. Oddities in how how the now defunct redevelopment agency was financed have left it with outstanding debts which the state is declining to repay.
In an effort to avoid this loss the city is taking the state to court, a topic that will be discussed at tonight's closed session before the regular council meeting. -more-
Two University of California at Berkeley students were attacked early Sunday morning while at a lookout point on Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the Berkeley Hills, UC police said. -more-
Gar Alperovitz, currently a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, has been writing books about wealth, democracy and national security for 48 years. In addition to serving in several government posts (including Special Assistant in the US State Department), Alperovitz is a founding principle of The Democracy Collaborative and a boardmember at the New Economics Institute.
What Then Must We Do? (his latst book and his twelfth since 1965) is a breezy, conversational read filled with somber forecasts, hopeful alternative economic strategies and lots of surprising facts and stats (Some examples: If the nation's personal wealth were divided evenly, a family of four would receive $200,000 a year. The hourly US minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is now $2 less than it was in 1968. The US is such a large country "You can tuck Germany into Montana!")
What Then Must We Do? (the title is borrowed from Tolstoy) explores a challenging premise: "The coming painful decades may be the prehistory of the next American revolution – and an evolutionary process that transforms the American system, making it both morally meaningful and ecologically sustainable."
Daniel Ellsberg calls this book possibly "the most important movement-building book of the new century" and Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth, hails it as "the most compelling account yet of how we can move beyond the piecemeal, project–by–project transformation of our political economy to truly systemic change."
Alperovitz recently took time from his busy schedule to discuss the arguments in his new book and explore the ramifications of social and economic change in an era of pending systemic collapse. -more-
The two Brower Houses and the David Brower Redwood at 2232–34 Haste Street were jointly designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 2008. The front house is a Queen Anne-Eastlake Victorian built in 1887 by notable builder, artist, and civic pioneer Alphonso Herman Broad. The rear house dates from 1904. The entire property was acquired in 1902 by the grandmother of David Brower, famed environmentalist, mountaineer, and long-time executive director of the Sierra Club. The present owner is the Lakireddy family’s Everest Properties. -more-
I am an avowed tree hugger. Just yesterday, I walked by the most magnificent tree in my neighborhood, an elm, robust, thriving and huge, growing out of a narrow sidewalk on Telegraph Avenue, near the Oakland border. And as I walked by, I spontaneously leaned against it and hugged it. And the strangers walking by all smiled at me, broad, joyful smiles. -more-
New: Wall Street Causes Crash, Then Rakes In the Dough … Who’s Behind the Rise in House Prices? It’s Your Favorite Friendly Wall Street Buyers (OR Baby, Who’s Your Landlord Now?)
It’s a hot, hot housing market. The same Wall Street that sent the world into global financial collapse and managed to avoid getting its style cramped by burdensome reforms is now raking its fingers through the empty properties left behind. -more-
If you thought the discussion about smoking regulations in multi-unit housing at the Berkeley City Council would naturally be about ways to make sure all tenants have the right to clean, breathable air, you would be wrong.
The current proposal “grandfathers” in all smokers forever, and offers tenants affected by secondhand smoke the right to sue their neighbor, a right they already have. But get this; you can’t sue per cigarette, or even per radiation treatment. Councilmembers such as Jesse Arreguin were eager to put a “cap” of $1,500 per year on a successful suit for exposure. Imagine how far that goes toward paying for your surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. And anyone who sues his or her neighbor lives in hell whatever the outcome.
The health department and the rent board representatives did a great job of illustrating how exhausted they are with the subject, how ready they are to sacrifice the public health goal of clean, healthy air for an endpoint of any kind, no matter how counter-productive. All it takes is one smoker per building to make 100% of the air toxic, but they're ready to call that "a balanced approach." -more-
Gun control will not benefit gun lobbyists. It will not benefit gun manufacturers. But it will prevent many untimely deaths in our neighborhoods. Two days before Mother's Day my friend lost her nephew to gun violence. He was a high school student, just turned seventeen. We talk about the 2nd amendment right to bear guns. But do we remember the more primary right to life for all citizens? -more-
I am concerned that the East Bay hills environmental impact statement (EIS) for the fire mitigation project in the works has eliminated from consideration the following practical solutions from an integrated plan, thus compromising the health of people and the environment. -more-
About half of Berkeley residents live in multi-unit housing. But only 15% of those units are covered by rent control. The low income tenants in my building get no help from the rent board, and cannot afford lawyers to assist with disputes. -more-
Becky O’Malley has done a nice job presenting both sides of the controversial project to destroy tens of thousands of non-native trees in the Berkeley-Oakland hills. Here are a few more facts that might help the Planet’s readers to evaluate these projects. -more-
A shocking and very painful event in the US Senate has just occurred— a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voted to support amendments to a farm bill that benefits corporate agriculture but cuts billions of dollars from the food stamp program for poor individuals and families!!! More than 47 million poor depend on food stamps to feed their hungry children and themselves. -more-
In this age of diminishing expectations, alienation and cultural malaise, the ambitions of students, when they appear, are often encouraged regardless of their merit. And so it was when the Department of External Affairs of the Associated Students of UC (ASUC) decided that it wanted a student Council district because they really needed representation on the Council. Their concerns include crime and lighting. So the ASUC contacted the City Council and asked them to float Measure R, which would allow new district boundaries and a possible student district. -more-
Managing the East Bay Hills Wildland/Urban Interface to Preserve Native Habitat and Reduce the Risk of Catastrophic Fire
An Environmental Green Paper- March 27, 2009
This paper has been prepared by the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club (Sierra Club), East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and the Golden Gate Audubon Society (Audubon) to document our point of view about how best to meet the twin goals of managing the urban wildland interface to enhance and preserve habitat for native plants and wildlife species while reducing the threat of catastrophic fire at the interface. -more-
Are we safe anywhere? Only people driven by madness or hate could perform the ugly deed that has shaken the whole country. Bostonians cheering the marathon could not have imagined such a tragic finish to the race. Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies need help from law-abiding citizens to identify the culprits. We should also consider what else can be done to protect innocent civilians from acts of terror in the future. Are our laws against terrorism strict enough? Are immigration officials given enough training and authority to identify terrorists as they seek to enter the US for their own vile purposes? Our freedom is so precious and so vulnerable. We grieve but we also want to think of ways to secure that freedom against terrorists hell-bent on destroying our open society. -more-
On June 11, Berkeley's City Council will hold a 5:30 PM "worksession" on staff's "GoBerkeley" proposal to expand commercial-district parking enforcement:
Staff proposals in this document include:
* Evening: Extend hours of [metered-parking] enforcement from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in certain areas by implementing standard metered rates or a flat rate.
* Sunday Meters: Enforce parking fees in on-street meters and lots on Sundays by implementing standard metered rates or a flat rate. -more-
The Homeless Experience is definitely of “use” in keeping the rest of us working like good citizens and not dallying, but if one tries to think about them from the perspective of reintegration, some interesting ideas arise. -more-
Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.
You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.
Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money. -more-
The East Bay hills don’t need to wait for the next fire storm. There’s one raging right now over a plan to clear thousands of trees—estimates range from 22,000 to 85,00, depending on who you ask—from Berkeley’s Strawberry and Claremont Canyons and parts of the Oakland hills. Some of us who live near the affected area have been aware of this project for a long time and wondered whether it was wise, but others have just recently heard about it and they’re outraged.
It’s shaping up to be an unusual political battle for an area where good vs. evil is usually a clearly defined contest. Gay marriage? Sure. Solar power? Sure. Bicycles lanes? Sure. (Well at least if you’re under 60 and vigorously fit.)
But this struggle, in the first place, pits two groups of tree huggers against one another, and both sides seem to manifest a quasi-religious fervor reminiscent of the Great Crusades. Those on one side (the native plant fans—short for fanatics) long to purify the hills above Berkeley and restore them to their pristine pre-colonization state. The other side just likes a nice walk in the woods from time to time, and isn’t particular about the pedigree of the flora.
And if that weren’t enough, there’s a third flank populated by people who don’t care much about trees one way or the other, but are very worried about fire. And of course all three populations overlap.
What makes this an interesting conflict is that in various ways they’re all “right”. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
This is turning into a slow-release issue due to circumstances beyond the management's control. Readers and writers, please be patient. Everything will be posted in due time. No new editorial yet. And now further complications make it necessary to pass on the new issue I might have done
today last Friday. I'll keep posting in this issue if and when I'm able to take the time to do so, but no promises re schedule. We've had some good submissions, so I hope I'll get them online eventually. Look for the "new" tag to find the new pieces. I'm now learning 'speed editing", so please excuse mistakes.
Editor's Note. It seems that some in Berkeley who are out of the loop didn't recognize that Larry Bensky was pulling our leg when he suggested that Tom Bates would exact public benefits from a big corporation like CVS. That's a joke, of course. We received this letter from a PR firm working for CVS: -more-
In January of 1968, Dr. Norman Shumway performed the first successful US adult heart transplant at Stanford Hospital in California. At the time, some complained the millions of dollars spent on the operation should have instead been used to feed the thousands of starving children in nearby communities. Nonetheless, the transplants continued and millions of children went hungry. It was a metaphor for the increasingly heartless nature of the US economy.
Recently the economy has seemed to be reviving. Consumer confidence is up, the housing market is booming, and stock market indices have hit new highs. Nonetheless, millions of Americans either have no work or are working far beneath their capability. Almost half of our families have no assets. The 99 percent have been left behind, -more-
Following the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq in December 2011, can the U.S. claim victory or did the Obama administration adopt the face-saving solution of “Just declare victory and get out,” a position proposed by the late Senator George Akin of Vermont at the end of the Vietnam war? -more-
“Gunmen in Pakistan on Monday set ablaze five trucks carrying NATO equipment out of Afghanistan as the international military alliance winds down it combat mission there, officials said.” -more-
People seem to perceive persons with mental illness similarly to how they perceive people addicted to drugs. Indeed, sometimes persons with mental illness turn to drugs in a vain effort to get relief from the torment created by their brain condition. -more-
The human mind is more powerful than any computer that has so far been built on our globe. This processing power greatly increases the likelihood of mental mistakes which I am calling "Human Data Corruption." -more-
The world is undergoing significant demographic changes. By 2050, the global population of people above the age of 60 will probably exceed the number of younger people. Research has shown that elderly abuse is one of the biggest issues facing senior citizens worldwide. World Health Organization data suggest that 4 to 6 % of elderly suffer from some form of abuse, a large percentage of which goes unreported. -more-
Arts & Events
Press Release: Forum: Fire Risk Reduction and Tree Removal Plans for the East Bay Hills' Public Lands
The University of California, East Bay Regional Park District, and the City of Oakland want to remove more than 80,000 trees in the East Bay Hills. These public-sector entities also plan to deploy a 10-year program of herbicides. This attempt to reduce fire risk is to be funded by $5.9 million from FEMA. Come to a discussion of different visions for our hills. Ask questions and contribute your voice in advance of FEMA's June 17 deadline for public comment. -more-
I don’t go to the South Bay theatre often enough, so I drove down to San Jose Stage Company on Saturday night to attend the opening of “REEFER MADNESS.” The weather was balmy and summery in a way it just doesn’t get up here in Oakland. The weather puts one in a good mood, which primed me to see a delightful if silly musical. -more-
In mythology, Arcadia is utopia, Eden, Pan’s paradise, a virgin wilderness with nymphs frolicking in lush forests, that longed-for pastoral setting in perfect harmony with nature. -more-
I like epistolary plays where the letters sent between two people over decades are fashioned into a dramatic piece. The only trouble is such plays sometimes remind me of radio drama on NPR. But “Dear Elizabeth,” by Sarah Ruhl now at the Berkeley Rep, is saved from that trap by some of the best stagecraft I’ve seen this year, inspired staging, and two adept and exactingly cast professionals doing the acting. -more-
I go to a lot of plays, 40 per year at least, and I have for years.
There are certain—and few—truly outstanding memorable moments in the theatre.
If you want to have one of the memorable moments, call the Magic Theatre box office today and get a ticket to the first American production of Mark O’Rowe’s “Terminus” before the word gets out. -more-
This weekend's the 43rd annual Live Oak Park Fair, an all-day--10 to 6--free event, both Saturday and Sunday, featuring arts and crafts booths, including handmade clothing, music--soul, folk, jazz, bluegrass, Dixieland, Swing, country, Klezmer, Appalachian--magic shows, face-painting, and--for the first time--Edible East Bay's Edible Tastings, a spot at the center of the fair where free samples of food and body products will be provided in a benefit for People's Grocery of Oakland. Jan Etre produces the Fair, her 26th year at the helm. Free half-hourly shuttle from North Berkeley BART. info: 227-7110; liveoakparkfair.com -more-
The 2013 San Francisco Green Film Festival includes 50 films from around the globe, with over 70 visiting filmmakers and guest speakers covering environmental topics surrounding clean energy, green chemistry, food, housing, trash, water, and art in the environment. The festival (which includes a week of special events, discussion panels, workshops and educational programs) takes place Thursday, May 30 through Wednesday, June 5, 2013 ending appropriately on United Nation’s World Environment Day. -more-
"Only children aren't happy. Adults are depressed."
Opening and closing with the projection of a young girl (Dakota Dry) wearing a crown and telling a scary fairytale, which hints at the mother being a witch, Central Works' premiere of Marian Berges' 'The Medea Hypothesis' focuses on a present-day fashion designer, Em (Jan Zvaifler), whose unseen husband Justin (Em laments that she "created" him, as Medea ensured Jason's success) leaves her for a younger woman, while she fears her daughter's becoming estranged ... an update of Euripides' tragic tale. -more-
New: Around & About Poetry: Jack Marshall & Gerald Fleming Read From Their New Books at Albany Library
Jack Marshall, who lives in El Cerrito, has been one of the bright lights of the Bay Area poetry scene for four decades, his successful series of books by Coffee House Press since the 80s bringing his constantly evolving work to all of North America ... -more-
Around & About Film & Video: 'The Sari Soldiers,' Film on Nepal at the East Bay Media Center -more-
For those of you who do not live on the warm side of the Caldecott, you need to know that there is an incredibly talented musical theatre actress who is worth the drive (or via BART a few blocks away). -more-
“Abigail’s Party” at San Francisco Playhouse has a delightful and comically adept cast of five, who together almost make a very amusing two acts, but the play keeps getting in the way. Mike Leigh’s comedy-drama is one those BBC sitcoms of a couple of decades ago with a twist—actually with a twisted twist, particularly the incongruous (and here unrevealed) resolution. -more-