The Planet has been informed by telephone callers and email that the encampment on the steps of the Berkeley Post Office was rousted by City of Berkeley police at about 7:30 last night. In an email this afternoon, Public Information Officer J. Coats said: -more-
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee was joined by 53 Members of Congress on a letter to President Obama condemning the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and calling for full congressional debate an appropriate response. The letter comes on the heels of rumors surrounding a military strike in Syria. -more-
The Postal Regulatory Commission has dismissed without prejudice the petition filed under the name of Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to appeal the United States Postal Service's decision to close the downtown Berkeley Post Office. The Commission's opinion was that the USPS's action was not yet completed, and therefore was not ripe for Commission decision. Since the dismissal was without prejudice, the appeal may be submitted at a future date. -more-
A 62-year-old construction worker laying asphalt at Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School was killed when a big-rig rolled over him this afternoon, a California Division of Occupational Safety and Health spokesman said. -more-
New University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said today that the university will need to rely more on philanthropy for funding but promised that it won't become more privatized.
Dirks, who formerly was executive vice president at Columbia University in New York City and replaced former Chancellor Robert Birgeneau this summer, said the university only gets about 12 percent of its funding from the state, down from 30 percent about ten years ago and down from 50 percent in the more distant past.
Dirks said the university has had to scramble to find funding from other sources but he said "there's no shift in the way the people in this university conceive of it being a public university and in the centrality of its mission of serving the public."
Dirks said the university remains committed to providing an accessible and affordable education to students and "to make the world a better place."
He dismissed privatization as "the 'p' word." -more-
Nearly 150,000 acres have burned in the raging Rim Fire and the Berkeley-run camp Tuolumne Camp was destroyed in the blaze Sunday, according to the U.S. Fire Service.
The fire, which started on Aug. 17, has spread from Stanislaus National Forest into Yosemite National Park and has since destroyed 23 structures and is threatening as many as 4,500 others.
One of those structures is Berkeley's long-running family camp, located at 31585 Harden Flat Road near Groveland.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said this afternoon that the camp, comprised of several cabins, a dining hall, a main lodge and other recreational facilities on the Tuolumne River, has been a summer destination for generations.
He called the loss, "so sad" and recalled the retreat as "a Berkeley tradition." -more-
The Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp, a city-owned camp that has operated since 1922, burned in the Rim Fire today, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman confirmed this evening. -more-
Would you prefer to speed up the 51 bus line, or preserve parking spaces? AC Transit will hold two public meetings at which Line 51B/A riders and neighbors can comment on this trade-off:
Mon., Aug. 26, 6-8 p.m.
La Quinta Inn (Continental Room, 2nd Floor)
920 University Avenue (@ 8th Street), Berkeley
Thurs., Aug. 29, 6-8 p.m.
Julia Morgan Center for the Arts (Studio 1)
2640 College Avenue (@Derby), Berkeley
You can also submit written comments by Friday, Sept. 13, 5 p.m., to: Tammy Kyllo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You'll find detailed proposals on pages 38-51 of this 2008 report, with pages 45-49 focusing on Berkeley:
Some proposals involve significant trade-offs:
* Removing parking spaces to create peak-hour bus lanes on some blocks of University Ave. This could remove up to several dozen parking spaces, from 12-7 p.m. or 4-7 p.m.
* Removing several bus stops -- which could speed up the bus, but require riders to walk further.
* Replacing stop signs with traffic signals at College/Russell and College/Bancroft Way.
* New turn restrictions on southbound College Ave., near Claremont Ave.: No left turn into the Safeway parking lot; no right turn into the Bank of America lot.
* "Bus bulbs," which could displace right-turn and bicycle pockets.
Other proposals are low-impact: better signal timing and coordination, new bus shelters and benches, and moving several bus stops to an intersection's "far" side, to help the bus clear traffic lights.
As the new school year begins, so too does the excitement of fall sports. As a lifelong athlete and fan, I look forward to attending games and matches, and as an educator, I know the power of athletics to teach valuable life lessons. Unfortunately, too many of our collegiate athletes are making dangerous choices that position them not as role models to younger athletes but as teachers of reprehensible behavior. Sexual assault ranks among the crimes most frequently perpetrated by athletes. -more-
The camp-out at the Berkeley Post Office is in its fourth week. The action is a protest against the plan of the Postal Service to sell the building and relocate the postal services to a smaller facility. This is clearly unacceptable to the Berkeley community for a number of reasons. Mayor Bates has sent an appeal to the Postal Regulatory Commission which has oversight over the Postal Service to prevent them from carrying out the plan. Congresswoman Barbara Lee has sent a strong letter supporting the appeal to the Commission. (Their letters can be seen on line on the regulatory commission's website.) They are stressing the negative financial implications of the plan, pointing out that a convenient downtown location would be difficult to find and undoubtedly very expensive. There is no way of knowing at this point how long it will take the Commission to act. -more-
Remember the March on Washington? August 28, 1963. Tens of thousands of activists on the National Mall. A preacher's son from Atlanta talking about his dream for the country.
We don't need a history lesson. Even if we weren't at the March itself - even for those like me, who were not yet born - Dr. King's words are etched into our minds as deeply as they are inscribed in stone at the base of his memorial. The preacher's son has taken his rightful place in the pantheon of national heroes.
We don't need to watch a rerun of that fateful day. We need a sequel.
On Saturday, August 24th, the NAACP is co-hosting a sequel to the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice: the 2013 March on Washington. The march begins at 8:00 am, at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Join us.
If this year has shown us anything, it's that the work of the 1963 march is not yet finished. Texas and South Carolina are sprinting forward with voter ID after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. African American unemployment has flat lined. Our children are gunned down each and every day in senseless acts of violence. Trayvon Martin lies in the ground after one such senseless act.
At the same time, our culture of civic engagement is experiencing a renaissance. In the past month, hundreds of cities held vigils and rallies to protest the Zimmerman verdict. The nation is having a serious conversation about racial profiling for the first time since 9/11. In North Carolina, Moral Mondays has grown larger with each passing week.
We have the numbers, and we have the capacity for motivation. The question is whether we will allow ourselves to be motivated. -more-
I Hope you will join the East Bay Tax the Rich Group Monday, Aug. 26, 5-6pm near the top of Solano to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. This was a broad based movement, which included both the radical SNCC and the relatively conservative Urban League. Together, about one quarter of a million people marched against poverty and racism. It was at this event that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his wise and eloquent speech, "I Have a Dream" This march played a major role in promoting the enactment of several progressive laws, including the rights of minorities and poor people to vote and also the enactment of the poverty program. -more-
Former AC Transit and BART director Roy Nakadegawa passed away last Friday morning, August 23, 2013, at his home in Berkeley. He had been suffering from congestive heart failure for some time. -more-
On Saturday a march commemorating the 50th anniversary of the fabled March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom will take place in that city. Many of those who were there the first time will be going, along with younger people who missed the march but heard the stories. In a world where every day brings more bad news from around the world, this is an opportunity to reflect on the good news about what has changed in these 50 years.
Yes, yes, I know that the journey’s been long and it’s far from over. As Ben Jealous, current president of the NAACP, which will co-sponsor Saturday’s march, points out in this issue, there’s still a lot wrong with the way this country treats African-Americans. Just two high-profile recent examples: the many attempts to revive voter suppression in the South, and the continued stereotyping of young black men as potential criminals, a persistent misconception which resulted in the needless death of Trayvon Martin.
But for those of us who are old enough to remember all the way back to 1963, a lot of things look like they’ve gotten a lot better. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Click on these links to see stories about Berkeley and environs in other media:
Plan Bay Area: Telling People What to Do
Another football season is upon us. It is time for the National Football League (NFL), college and university officials, and even high schools to seriously address the safety, or lack thereof, of playing football. As the season progresses, the chance of injury increases. It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a national public health crisis of concussions in sports – estimated to total four million annually, not including the possibility that tens of millions more “sub-concussive” head blows contribute to youth mental deterioration. John Madden, former college and NFL coach, and commentator remarked, "I’ve always said that any player that plays one regular season NFL game — his body will never be the same the rest of his life." -more-
The Better Business Bureau reports that a medical alert telemarketing scam is sweeping the nation this year. Seniors and their families or caretakers are frequent targets of this scam.
In recent months, consumers have received calls – often repeatedly – from telemarketers offering a “senior medical alarm” or similar personal security device. The calls come from untraceable numbers in the 314, 636 and 573 area codes.
On September 9th, when Congress returns from its summer vacation, negotiations will begin on a new Federal budget and a US debt limit increase. As a quid pro quo Republicans will demand restrictions on Obamacare. Once again, this raises the specter of the GOP pushing the government into default. Why don’t Republicans understand that’s a terrible idea that would crater the economy? -more-
I am just old enough to remember when no one spoke about cancer, even though my mother's two best friends and my father's mother died of breast cancer. Nor did anyone discuss death. My first experiences of death were terrifying because the subject was taboo. What happened to my grandparents when they disappeared? No answer. Once, I returned home from college and my father casually told me that one of my grandmothers had died. Why hadn't I been told? "We didn't want to bother you." I felt cheated, but didn't understand why. -more-
When experiencing symptoms of mental illness, some people who suffer from these diseases blame or shame themselves for being ill. And yet, these diseases aren't something we did to ourselves. -more-