The Week



Berkeley Fire Causes University Apartment Building Evacuation

By Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Thursday March 20, 2014 - 02:15:00 PM

The residents of a five-story apartment building in Berkeley were evacuated early this morning when an exterior debris fire was reported, a deputy fire chief said. -more-

Updated: Berkeley Police and Fire Respond to Hazardous Materials Incident and Death at Berkeley City Club

By Bay City News and Planet
Tuesday March 18, 2014 - 08:38:00 PM

UPDATE: An article in the Daily Californian has identified the person who committed suicide in the Berkeley City Club as a retired U.C. Berkeley professor. -more-

Pedestrian Killed by Train in Berkeley Identified

By Bay City News
Tuesday March 18, 2014 - 10:35:00 AM

A pedestrian struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train in Berkeley on Monday has been identified as Matthew Finch, a 28-year-old El Cerrito resident, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau. -more-

Press Release: New Campus Gateway Emerging at Memorial Stadium

By Gretchen Kell, UC Berkeley Media Relations
Monday March 17, 2014 - 03:15:00 PM

By next fall, California Memorial Stadium not only will be bustling on football game days, but busy all week as a vibrant new campus gateway and a multi-use building filled with both academic and athletic activities. Classrooms, an auditorium, food vendors, a student store, a fitness center and more will inhabit the stadium, which reopened in August 2012 after a $321 million renovation.

In addition, campus tours will originate from a scenic new home for the UC Berkeley Visitor Center, which serves more than 150,000 people a year. The spectacular views of UC Berkeley and the Bay Area from the stadium’s club levels will continue to be enjoyed by private, corporate and campus groups that since fall 2012 have rented them for more than 180 special events.

The refurbishment and retrofitting of the 90-year-old stadium, and the creation of the adjacent 1.5-acre Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza, was done to create a safer and more modern sports venue, and also to open the eastern part of UC Berkeley to the entire community, said Bob Lalanne, who became UC Berkeley’s first vice chancellor for real estate last December.

“Our whole objective was to take this beautiful, historic building and make it more of a campus community asset 365 days of the year, rather than just for seven game days. The way Lower Sproul Plaza is being turned into a new living room for the campus, this space will essentially become ‘Sproul Plaza East,’” he said. The project, which will roll out over two years’ time, is a joint effort between Lalanne and Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton. -more-

New: Pedestrian Killed by Train on Berkeley Tracks

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday March 17, 2014 - 03:10:00 PM

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train in Berkeley this morning, fire and railroad officials said. -more-

Coroner Says Pneumonia Caused Death of Homeless Man in Downtown Berkeley

By Mary Ann Uribe
Friday March 14, 2014 - 01:15:00 PM

Yesterday I spoke to Mr. Mendiola at the Alameda County Coroner’s Office about the cause of death of the homeless man who was found dead in downtown Berkeley near the corner of Shattuck and Kittredge at about 7:30 a.m. on February 6, 2014. Mr. Mendiola stated that he died of “acute bilateral lobar pneumonia” and “coronary atherosclerosis”. In other words he died of pneumonia because he had been in the rain all night long and he had a bad heart due to lack of adequate medical care. -more-

Where Are the Tourists from the Future?
(A Pi-Day Special Feature)

by Jonathan David Farley, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
Friday March 14, 2014 - 09:10:00 AM

On Valentine’s Day, University of California at Berkeley math professor Edward Frenkel wrote an essay in The New York Times entitled, “Is the Universe a Simulation?” It became the most forwarded essay on Facebook for the Times.

The classic science series Cosmos recently relaunched, so it seems appropriate to describe how math can help explain another aspect of our universe. Since this is “Pi Day,” such an essay couldn’t be more timely: -more-

Behold the Ides of March
(First Person)

By Toni Mester
Friday March 14, 2014 - 09:23:00 AM
Monk’s House and Garden

On March 15 my temporary disabled parking placard expires, a handy red tag that hangs on the rear view mirror and allows convenient privileges like use of blue zones and free unlimited parking elsewhere. These are among the small compensations for enduring pain.

It began two years ago with an ache in my right knee. After months of physical therapy, I had an X-ray last summer that revealed pelvic bone-on-bone and foretold total hip replacement.

I should have cancelled a London trip that was planned as a celebration of my retirement, but the doctors said go and take pain meds. And so I went, stupidly. Having conducted theater tours to England for over 20 years, I knew the territory. My old friend Fiona, a bursar at the University of London, booked me into my usual room at the top of Canterbury Hall, overlooking roof gardens and chimneys to the clock tower of Kings Cross station. To the south, I could see the Shard, the capital’s newest skyscraper. I was home away from home. -more-

"Mow no Mo'!", or "How to remove your lawn, reduce your water bill, and get paid for it, too"

By Kathy Kramer
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:53:00 PM

Dixie Finley had had enough of watering her lawn, and, as a long-time observer of the natural world (she is an expert animal tracker) she knew her turf didn't provide habitat for wildlife. So it was with pleasure on a fall morning in 2012 that she welcomed the group of thirty shovel-bearing Mow no Mo'! participants who arrived at her home in Livermore.

This mixed group, comprised of everything from first-time homeowners to senior citizens, and everything in between, worked in Dixie's front garden, trenching along her driveway and sidewalk, laying out cardboard, spreading compost, and shoveling a large pile of woodchips. A few hours after the group arrived, her lawn was gone. -more-



Drifting and Dreaming at the Midnight Hour—Berkeley Council's Refusal to Compromise on the Student District Threatens Revenue Measures

By Becky O'Malley
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:24:00 PM

Another week, another experiment. As I was dutifully watching the streaming video of the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday (it could also be called the screaming video, which is what I often do as I watch) I was moved to try something akin to liveblogging to inform any readers still around about how annoying it was. I’m not eager to swell the coffers of those who market specialty apps for this purpose however, so I just posted in the “Editor’s Back Fence” section a few observations on particularly irrational moments in a generally surreal evening.

Here, now, I’m reprising and amplifying my observations for the many readers who were not following this site late on Tuesday night. The headline was “Dreamers on the Midnight Special”, since the worst is always saved for last on Berkeley’s somnolent city council. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Werner von Braun (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday March 14, 2014 - 01:25:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Time (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday March 14, 2014 - 01:04:00 PM

Public Comment

California Democrats Call for Huge Reductions in Military Spending

By Nicholas A. Carlin
Saturday March 15, 2014 - 08:45:00 AM

Media coverage of the California Democratic Party’s 2014 Platform, adopted Sunday by acclamation at the 2014 California Democratic Party Convention in Los Angeles last weekend, focused on calls to eliminate fracking and legalize marijuana. But perhaps the most significant provision of the Platform has so far been ignored by the press: the call (in the National Security plank) to reduce military spending by 25-30%. Here is the specific text: "To protect and defend California and our Constitution, Democrats will . . reduce the DOD budget by 25% - 30% – in line with historic drawdowns after major conflicts – primarily by cutting back on that portion of the DOD budget dedicated to bases in foreign countries, projection of military power overseas and development of weapons of mass destruction, and reallocate the savings to other priorities including assistance to state and local governments to maintain and rehire laid off employees, building out the renewable power grid and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, investing in technology and manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and deficit reduction.” -more-

New: Caring for All

By Romila Khanna
Monday March 17, 2014 - 10:16:00 PM

We think about the issues which are pressing for our families now? Every day in our communities people are facing health crises and financial crises and they have nowhere to go for help. They can’t be satisfied with verbal messages that all is well. -more-

What Has Become of the Berkeley Public Library?

By Sheila Goldmacher
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:01:00 PM

Have any of you noticed recently that when you enter the lobby of the Main Library in downtown Berkeley , it feels more like a ghost town? No more feeling of commons, hardly anybody talking to one another, when you approach the circulation area, the workers are now in front of their desks instead of behind them as if to keep us from expecting any service? That is not your imagination. One day a week ago I approached the desk and one of the workers came forward, spoke politely of course and asked how he could help me. I asked for a reserved book which had been ordered for me from another library system. He got it for me and checked it out behind his desk and when I tried to give him my other materials from our library to check out he told me they were no longer permitted to check out materials owned by Berkeley, behind the desk. I was flabbergasted. So he walked me to the self check out computers several feet away and I told him I already knew how to do this but how ridiculous it seemed to me to not do all of the checkouts where he started the first transaction. Again he told me they were no longer permitted to do that. As a retired librarian this trend of increasing self service is abhorrent to me. Library service work was meant to be just that - a place of service to the community. -more-

California Drought

By Jagjit Singh
Friday March 14, 2014 - 01:01:00 PM

The California drought has largely been exacerbated by misguided government policies that encouraged large scale agricultural farming. Agriculture consumes 80% of available water while contributing a minuscule 2% of the state economy. Farmers continue to grow alfalfa, rice and other thirsty crops. Their resource usage has been heavily subsidized by the government and according to The Economist they have paid a paltry 15% of the capital costs of the federal system that delivers much of the water to their fields. Thus, farmers have no incentive to efficiently irrigate their farmlands. The rainy season has less than five weeks to go before the onset of spring and summer which will bake much of California and exacerbate the likelihood of wild fires. The water table has decreased in many areas prompting farmers to drill deeper to reach groundwater further depleting aquifers. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Fukushima: What Have We Learned?

By Bob Burnett
Friday March 14, 2014 - 09:18:00 AM

It’s been three years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the bad news continues. In December, it was widely reported that 51 US sailors assigned to the nuclear carrier, Ronald Reagan, have incurred cancer, as a result of that vessel’s 2011 deployment to the area of the Fukushima reactor failure. The actual cleanup is painfully slow. What have we learned from the Fukushima disaster? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Mental Illness Not Contrary to Being Intelligent

By Jack Bragen
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:51:00 PM

When I was twenty, I discussed with my psychiatrist (the one I had at the time) the subject of whether mentally ill people could be intelligent. Prior to becoming ill, I had always thought of myself and had been thought by others to be an intelligent person. -more-

Arts & Events

New Theater Company Plays "Other People's Money" at Kehila in Oakland

By Our Correspondent
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:15:00 PM

Piedmont and Oakland has a new theatre company—the Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre -more-