The Week



New: Suspect in August Berkeley Killing Arrested

By Bay City News
Wednesday September 11, 2013 - 10:50:00 PM

Police arrested a suspect Monday in a West Berkeley fatal shooting last month. -more-

New: Underwater Mortgage Plan Moves Ahead in Richmond

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Wednesday September 11, 2013 - 01:19:00 PM

An unprecedented plan to buy struggling Richmond homeowners' underwater mortgages is moving forward. -more-

New: Berkeley Shooting Victim Identified

By Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Wednesday September 11, 2013 - 01:17:00 PM

Police have identified a man who was fatally shot in Berkeley on Sunday evening as 22-year-old Anthony Medearis. -more-

Judge Hears Arguments on Police Brutality Suit Against UC Berkeley

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday September 10, 2013 - 08:07:00 PM

A federal judge heard arguments but didn't make a ruling today on a legal issue in a lawsuit that seeks $15 million in damages for demonstrators who were injured in an "Occupy Cal" protest at the University of California at Berkeley in November 2011. -more-

Updated: Man Who Died in Berkeley Fire Was USF Professor

Tuesday September 10, 2013 - 05:05:00 PM

A man who died in an apartment fire in Berkeley early this morning was a longtime professor at the University of San Francisco. -more-

New: Barbara Lee Named to U.N. Post

Tuesday September 10, 2013 - 05:04:00 PM

President Barack Obama has nominated U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, as a representative to the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Lee's office announced today. -more-

Berkeley Resident Dies in Apartment Fire

Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Tuesday September 10, 2013 - 09:57:00 AM

A 56-year-old man died in a two-alarm fire at an apartment building in Berkeley early this morning, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau. -more-

Flash: Man Shot and Killed in North West Berkeley

By Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Monday September 09, 2013 - 08:20:00 AM

A man was shot and killed near Eighth and Page streets in Berkeley last night, according to a police spokeswoman. -more-

What the US Media Is Not Telling You about Chemical Warfare in Syria

Did US-backed Rebel Forces Use Chemical Weapons?

By Gar Smith
Thursday September 05, 2013 - 07:09:00 PM

(Note: Several of the videos in this report are disturbing and should be restricted for viewing by readers under the age of 18.)

"The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

-- Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, 2007.

"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used [or] who used them."
-- President Barack Obama, April 29, 2013, responding to evidence that chemical weapons had been used by US-backed rebels inside Syria.

While there is convincing evidence that horrendous civilian casualties were sustained in an August 21 incident that devastated Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, there is as yet no clear and conclusive evidence as to what chemicals may have been used or who was ultimately responsible. -more-

SIDEBAR: Syria, Sarin, the Rebels and the US: The Underreported News

By Gar Smith
Thursday September 05, 2013 - 10:15:00 PM

The following collection of underreported news stories concerning gas attacks in Syria were posted online over the past weeks on the Environmentalists Against War website ( Warning: Some of these reports feature video clips that contain disturbing images. Taken together, these reports suggest that officials in Washington may once more be trying to "mislead" the nation into war. -more-

SIDEBAR: A Short History of Chemical Warfare

By Gar Smith
Thursday September 05, 2013 - 10:12:00 PM

Chemical Weapons Outlawed

The use of chemical gases in the trenches of WWI horrified the world, prompting a global campaign to ban their use as weapons of war. In 1925, a Geneva protocol was passed outlawing the use of nerve gas, tear gas, and other deadly agents in warfare. The 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (which went into effect in 1997) called for a ban on the possession or production of chemical weapons. (It's worth noting that many of these WWI chemicals found a new and "legal" purpose when they were reconfigured and sold as commercial herbicides and pesticides).

As of February 2013, Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia, and the US still admitted to possessing chemical weapons stockpiles. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, signatory nations are required to destroy their remaining stockpiles. Russia and the US, with the world's largest inventories of chemical and biological weapons, have still not eliminated their stockpiles. This is why President Obama always qualifies his condemnation of the Syrian regime for possessing "the largest inventory of chemical weapons in the Middle East" (emphasis added).

It's worth noting that Syria never signed the Chemical Weapons treaty so, technically, Assad cannot be accused of violating the ban on possession and use of chemical arms. -more-

Berkeley Officials Tour Devastated Tuolomne Camp Site

By Bay City News
Friday September 06, 2013 - 10:44:00 AM

City officials in Berkeley this week made the trek out to the city's nearly century-old Tuolumne Camp to assess the damage done by the massive Rim Fire.

Law enforcement escorted the staff Monday into the grounds, which remain closed as the fire continues to burn nearby. All the main buildings in the camp have been destroyed including the dining and recreation halls and the amphitheater, city spokesman Matthai Chakko said. -more-

Scenes from the Southside (First Person)

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Friday September 06, 2013 - 10:11:00 AM

I've recently come to regard myself as the Patron Saint of Telegraph Avenue. Hardly a day goes by that I don't get up to Peet's Coffee or Bateau Ivre. Sitting contentedly over a café au lait, I watch pretty girls with blue hair and young guys with tattoos on their sturdy calves come in and pour sugar in their drinks. -more-

Alex Nicoloff: 1923 - 2013

Friday September 06, 2013 - 11:18:00 AM
Alex Nicoloff: 1923 - 2013

Alex passed away on August 14th at the age of 90 years. He was born in Toronto, Canada on July 29, 1923. He moved to Chicago to study at the Institute of Design, where he met and married his wife Martha in 1952. -more-



What Should Berkeley's University Be?

By Becky O'Malley
Friday September 06, 2013 - 08:12:00 AM

Social Notes from All Over: Local website (never call it a blog) is now promoting what it describes as “an enthralling new gathering for those wishing to broaden their horizons.” Among the speakers at “Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas” will be new UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

From the inevitable flackery which such events generate:

“Dirks, a historian and anthropologist whose work focuses on India, will be in conversation. The subject: “What are the humanities — chopped liver?”

Now there’s a topic which is close to my own heart. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Computer Company Outage Took Planet Off Line for Hours

Saturday September 07, 2013 - 10:18:00 AM

A system failure at our web hosting company,, took the Planet off line, along with many other customers all over the country, from about 3 p.m. PST yesterday until about 10 this morning. We regret the inconvenience--in fact we're furious at the inconvenience. The good news is that it doesn't seem to have been the guys in the Black Helicopters trying to suppress Gar's story in this issue. -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Last Days of Summer (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday September 06, 2013 - 11:15:00 AM

Bounce: Adage Infinitum (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday September 06, 2013 - 11:11:00 AM

Public Comment

New: What About Syria?

By Bruce Joffe
Sunday September 08, 2013 - 10:17:00 PM

I'm a peaceful activist who believes we must significantly disable Syria's military. Poison gassing is an atrocity, on top of 100,000 horrible atrocities, that must receive severe consequences. Without consequences, no standards against abhorrent behavior can be upheld. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Syria: One Crisis Too Many

By Bob Burnett
Thursday September 05, 2013 - 10:25:00 PM

Polls indicate that Americans aren’t in favor of military intervention in Syria. That’s certainly true out here on the left coast. It’s not that we don’t care about Syria’s humanitarian crisis; it’s that we’ve run out of energy. America is in crisis overload. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Housing and Predators

By Jack Bragen
Thursday September 05, 2013 - 10:01:00 PM

Sociopaths, predators, criminals and drug dealers are attracted to the vulnerabilities of persons with mental illness. Persons with mental illness are often preyed upon. Our illness, our medication, and the fact of having been taught to be docile have altogether made us an easy mark. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Welcome Jonathan Torres

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday September 06, 2013 - 10:19:00 AM

Following its opening in 1979 in its own new building on the corner of Hearst and MLK, the North Berkeley Senior Center (NBSC) became well known as innovative and active. Attendance and the number of volunteers and donors increased dramatically. The many accomplishments included The Nugget newsletter, Japanese Seniors Program, Portable Meals, and minibus service. Special programs included local authors and musicians, intergenerational activities, the Nutrition Program, assistance and advisory groups, monthly birthday celebrations, entertainments as well as topical discussions, and the Center’s own up-to-date Resource Guide. Gray Panthers and Save Section 8 began meeting at the NBSC. A relationship with the Berkeley Adult School brought onsite free classes taught by credentialed instructors. A diverse and accessible staff was on hand. As senior citizens and elders (and later, boomers) entered, they were welcomed, often in their own language. -more-

Arts & Events

Opera Live in Berkeley on Sunday Afternoon

Thursday September 05, 2013 - 10:43:00 PM
Soprano Eliza O'Malley will sing the role of Gilda in Sunday's Verismo Opera production of Rigoletto, 2 p.m. at the Hillside Club in Berkeley.

This week brings the grand opening of San Francisco’s grand opera, complete with glamorous get-ups and lavish parties. But what’s often forgotten is that opera’s 19th century roots were firmly in common ground. It’s been a popular art form in Italy and elsewhere for more than two centuries, even though it’s attracted superb classical composers. Many European cities and towns still have small opera houses, and travelling music-lovers report that up-close and personal opera is exciting in a way that big-house and/or big-screen opera can never be.

Large American companies like the San Francisco Opera now fly in famous singers from around the world for elaborately staged and costumed extravaganzas, creating a level of expense which mandates big auditoriums and high ticket prices for fans who want to be close enough to see the action without binoculars. There have been a number of more-or-less successful recent attempts to make opera available to a larger audience: bringing streamed performances to movie houses, adding video to the nosebleed section of big opera houses, and other gimmicks.

But last September’s S.F. Opera experiment with bringing a streamed Rigoletto to the Giants’ waterfront ballpark is not being repeated this year. The company’s web site says that another Opera in the Ballpark will be presented in the summer of 2014, but neither the date nor the program is announced.

Nonetheless, whether you’re already an opera lover, or if you just think you like what you’ve heard on Prairie Home Companion and want to hear more, it doesn’t have to be a budget-busting expenditure. And if you’ve only seen opera on the big screen until now, you could be experiencing it live in a good number of Bay Area venues.

Next Sunday afternoon, September 8, for example, you’ll be able to see a real live production of Rigoletto presented by a company, Verismo Opera, whose goal is to make opera “accessible to the public at reasonable prices through a community effort of professional musicians and singers.” -more-

Around and About Theater and Music: Marion Fay's Theater Explorations and Music Appreciation Adult Ed Classes

By Ken Bullock
Friday September 06, 2013 - 09:44:00 AM

Marion Fay's excellent 10-week adult education classes in theater and music both start up again next week at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Theater Explorations, with Monday or Thursday sections, 1-3 p. m., includes seeing plays with post-performance discussions and talks by actors and directors, including superb actor James Carpenter. Ten weeks, four plays: $75, discount theater tickets extra. Register in class and bring $28 in plain envelope if seeing 'After the Revolution' at Aurora, Sept. 14. -more-