Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Berkeley passes cellphone ‘right to know’ law

Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig and Devra Davis from the Environmental Health Trust at Berkeley City Council. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed the first reading of a “Right to Know” ordinance to require cellphone retailers in Berkeley to provide consumers with information that warns them to keep a minimum safe distance between their bodies and their phones.

“The world is watching what you do tonight,” said Devra Davis, president of the Environmental Health Trust. “And you have the opportunity to do the right thing.”

The ordinance would require cellphone retailers to provide consumers with every sale or lease of a phone with a notice on radio frequency (RF) radiation exposure guidelines, warning that carrying the phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra could result in exceeding federal guidelines. City staff had assistance from Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Harvard, and Robert Post, dean of Yale Law School, in drafting the ordinance. Lessig has offered to defend the city pro bono if the law is challenged, as expected, by cellphone manufacturers.  … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Edible Schoolyard. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD PLANT SALE The 13th annual Edible Schoolyard Plant Sale and Celebration opens at 9 a.m. Saturday at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. There’s delicious, locally made food, music, student-guided tours of the garden, raffle prizes and, needless to say, plants. Get your spring garden going with tomatoes, vegetables, fruit trees and berries, herbs, perennials, annual flowers and more. There will be gardening advice on hand for beginners and experts. The event takes place Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Martin Luther King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. (near Berryman Street).Continue reading »

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Berkeley RADICAL focus of Cal Performances new season

The Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela will play Beethoven's Ninth at the Cal Performances gala in September. Photo: Nohely Oliveros
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A gala outdoors performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a novel mixture of Olivier Messaien and Berkeley photographer Deborah O’Grady, a rare visit from Paris’ Ensemble Intercontemporain, and Twyla Tharp’s 50th anniversary tour are among the highlights for Cal Performances 2015-16 season, which was announced this week.

The season marks the launch of Berkeley RADICAL (Research and Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts, Learning), a new framework in which artists will engage with Cal Performances through commissioning, creation, presentation, documentation and dissemination; with the university’s community of scholars and students; and with the Bay Area public.

Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela kick off Berkeley RADICAL with a week-long residency centered around performances of Beethoven’s final three symphonies. The Ninth Symphony will be performed at a gala performance at the Greek Theatre on Friday, Sept. 25.

“I can’t think of a better way to launch Berkeley RADICAL than with this music, this conductor and this orchestra,” said Matías Tarnopolsky, executive and artistic director of Cal Performances. … Continue reading »

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Robert Reich makes the case for $15 minimum wage

UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich at a McDonald's in Oakland on the morning of April 15, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Fight for 15, the campaign for an increase in the minimum wage, hit the streets of Berkeley and Oakland yesterday.

UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich was at the center of the protest in Oakland’s Temescal district in the morning. He gave a rousing, impromptu speech on the importance of the campaign. (Watch the 2-minute speech in the video below, exclusively published by Berkeleyside.) … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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EARTH DAY The Brower Center is hosting its first-ever Earth Day Festival, on Saturday, April 18 from noon to 6 p.m. There will be hands-on workshops, live music, family arts activities and organic food tastings, all focused on “protecting and honoring the planet we call home.” Three panels during the afternoon look at carbon farming, climate-friendly consumption and fighting climate change at the neighborhood level. The Ecology Center hosts workshops to show how to reuse common household items and there will be screenings of film shorts on carbon farming. The full schedule is here. Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of the Earth Day Festival. Admission free ($10 suggested donation), The Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way.  … Continue reading »

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Prayers, songs and lie-in during faith group protest against proposed Berkeley homeless laws

Protesters from various faith groups join hands at the start of the protest against proposed new laws on street behavior. Photo: Ted Friedman
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An estimated 60 members of faith groups gathered at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Thursday night to protest proposed new laws that they claimed would “criminalize the homeless.” Prayers and speeches were followed by a small number of the protesters lying down to spend the night sleeping in the plaza.

“Jesus probably would be criminalized by these law if he lived in the City of Berkeley,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder of The Way Christian Center, who gave the opening prayer at the protest. “The era of criminalizing people need to end. We’re still using old tactics to deal with modern problems.”  … Continue reading »

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Sam Pasarow named as new Berkeley High principal

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Sam Pasarow, an Oakland middle school principal, will be Berkeley High School’s new principal, starting in July, Berkeley Unified Superintendent Donald Evans announced at last night’s school board meeting.

Pasarow will take the helm from Kristen Glenchur, who has been interim principal since last summer. Pascuale Scuderi, who served as principal for four years, became assistant superintendent for educational services at BUSD last summer.

“Finding the right leader for Berkeley High School has been both challenging and exciting,” Evans said in a statement yesterday. “We had so many great candidates, and we were fortunate to have the involvement of teachers, administrators, board members and parents who participated in the interview process. I am very pleased with the outcome, and confident that the BHS community will find a strong educational leader in Principal Pasarow.”  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Tartuffe caption. Photo: Courtesy kevinberne.com
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TARTUFFE AT THE REP Molière’s Tartuffe, a satirical attack on religious hypocrisy, still has its sting after 350 years. Berkeley Rep’s production, adapted by David Ball and directed by Dominique Serrand, was acclaimed as “revelatory” by the Chronicle. Actor Steven Epp stars in the title role. If you go on Friday, March 27 (as in tonight!), you can also enjoy the “last call” reception after the play, sponsored by Berkeleyside. Tartuffe is in repertory at the Berkeley Rep through Apr. 12. Tickets from $41 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St.    … Continue reading »

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Video: Downtown Berkeley worker assaults homeless man

Downtown Berkeley ambassador assault. Image: Bryan Hamilton
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A Downtown Berkeley Association ambassador assaulted a homeless man Thursday evening behind CVS in what appears to be a violent incident that was captured on video. That homeless man and an associate were arrested by the Berkeley Police Department before the video came to light. After reviewing the video this week, police asked the district attorney’s office to take another look at the case.

The ambassador involved, whose name has not been released, will be fired Thursday, said Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner. A second ambassador, who did not intervene to stop the apparent assault, will be suspended. The video, which appears below, contains graphic language and violence that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lance Gorée, operations manager for the DBA, and the manager of the ambassador program for contractor Block by Block, said he received a report of the physical contact last week, but the severity of the incident was not made clear until he and Caner saw the video Thursday morning.

“I was called within the hour of it happening,” Gorée said. “I always get called right away. They didn’t fully represent what happened.”

“It’s clearly totally unacceptable,” said Caner. “We apologize to (the victim) and to the community. This is clearly so out of the realm of acceptable behavior and totally contrary to all of the training provided to ambassadors.”

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Mayor paints general picture of progress for Berkeley

Mayor Tom Bates. Photo- Frances Dinkelspiel
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Mayor Tom Bates last night delivered a picaresque tour of developments in Berkeley in his State of the City address at the Shotgun Theatre’s Ashby Stage.

Bates lauded projects and improvements in each of the city’s main areas, singled out efforts to address street repairs with revenues from Measures M and BB, talked about the need for affordable housing, the police department and the December protests, and touched briefly on challenges the city faces with unfunded pension liabilities and an aging infrastructure.

“That’s a general rosy picture of how we’re doing,” Bates said at the conclusion of his main tour of what’s happening in the city.  … Continue reading »

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When the stars come out: A Night in Berkeleywood

Yes, there's a red carpet at Berkeleywood. Photo courtesy Berkeleywood
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It’s 342 miles between Berkeley and Hollywood, but on Oscar night, Sunday, Feb. 22, that distance will be shortened for those who flock to the live Academy Awards telecast at A Night in Berkeleywood at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza.

The Berkeleywood celebration, in its second year, benefits the Berkeley Film Foundation, which has been supporting independent filmmakers in Berkeley and the East Bay since 2009 (Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of Berkeleywood). Nearly $800,000 in grants have been made to 90 film projects by the foundation in six years.

“It’s important to take care of our artists,” said David Bergad, executive director of the BFF. “People really look to us for support.”  … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Peter Nero. Photo: Courtesy Cal Performances
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GERSHWIN PROJECT Pianist Peter Nero, a two-time Grammy winner, “romps through” George Gershwin’s music with bassist Michael Barnett and vocalist Katherine Strohmaier on Sunday, Feb. 8 at Zellerbach Hall, as part of Cal Performances’ jazz series. Nero’s trio will perform songs from musicals and films like “Strike Up the Band,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Funny Face,” “Girl Crazy,” and “Shall We Dance,” as well as standards from the Great American Songbook. Zellerbach Hall, 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 8. Tickets available from Cal Performances.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Mobile InTent: Alta California + parts close by
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ALTA CALIFORNIA In October 2014, a group of artists from Oakland, Berlin and Guadalajara began to travel, pushing against walls and borders from the permeable walls of a tent. Departing from the mythical island known as Alta California, they have been mapping geography and possibility for the last three months. The last segment of this body of work will arrive at Berkeley Art Center, as the Mobile Office for Applications for Passport and Visas to a Borderless Country. “On bicycles, towing balloons, wooden appendages, desks and signs, they ask the progressive city of Berkeley to recognize hidden work and dreams while cultivating the borderless imaginary.” Alta California is a project of Ann Schnake/MobileInTent with Victor Figueroa Infante, Marlet Torres Martínez/la compañia de artes vivas Alariete, with creative input from Ursula Maria Berzborn, Theater Grotest Maru and Kunsthaus KuLe, Berlin. Admission free, 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 24, Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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