Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Berkeley composer John Adams’ opera ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ opens to protests in New York

People, some in wheelchairs, gather at Lincoln Center, with the Metropolitan Opera House in the background, as they protest "Death of Klinghoffer" Monday, Oct 20, 2014, in New York. The protest centered around the opera at the Metropolitan Opera that they call anti-Semitic. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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Last night’s performance of Berkeley-based composer John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer at the Metropolitan Opera in New York wasn’t a typical opera opening. Protesters, many in wheelchairs, lined Columbus Avenue in front of Lincoln Center, and police were stationed inside and outside the opera house.

The New York Times reported that “a roar of cheers” greeted Adams when he took the stage at the end of the opera. Despite fears of disruption, only two small incidents marred the performance. One man who shouted, “The death of Klinghoffer will never be forgiven,” was escorted out of the opera house and arrested for disorderly conduct.

Adams’ opera has been acclaimed by critics since its debut in 1991 as a modern masterpiece. But since then, it has also attracted vehement criticism from some groups because of what they see as a glorification of terrorism. The opera is based on the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 by members of the Palestinian Liberation Front. Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger, was killed by the hijackers. … Continue reading »

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Politics

Berkeleyside does not endorse candidates, measures

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From our founding five years ago, we’ve had a consistent policy on Berkeleyside of not endorsing election candidates or taking sides on local measures. We are sticking to that principle.

We do this because we’re deeply committed to providing even-handed reporting on issues and candidates. We think our journalism benefits from our determination to be unbiased.

At a bigger news organization, it’s possible to have a well-constructed separation between reporting and opinion. On a small team like Berkeleyside, that’s just not possible, so the fairness of our reporting would inevitably — and rightly — be questioned. (We do welcome opinions, however. Check out our Opinionator section for a torrent of views on the 2014 election.)

We also trust our readers. We’re confident that if we report the news in as straightforward a fashion as we can manage, we will give you the tools to make your own minds up. Why should our opinion be privileged in some special way? … Continue reading »

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Scholarships for Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas

A coffee break at Uncharted 2013, which, like the 2014 festival, will be held at Berkeley Rep and the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. Photo:
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In two weeks, on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25, the second edition of Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas, will throw open its doors in downtown Berkeley. It’s going to be a an extraordinary two days of conversations on food, technology, arts, innovation, society, environment, politics, and much, much more.

Berkeleyside is producing Uncharted and is committed to having an engaged, active group of participants attend — people like our readers who are curious, opinionated, and hungry for knowledge and new ways of thinking. That is why we are offering a limited number of scholarships to ensure the diversity of the audience.

Scholarships are intended for people who can contribute substantively to the discussions during Uncharted, but would otherwise be unable to attend. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley stealth start-up seeks unsigned musical talent

David Hyman
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David Hyman is that rare thing: a successful serial entrepreneur who is committed to Berkeley. And he wants people to audition for his new start-up.

Hyman was CEO of founded music database company Gracenote in Berkeley in the ’90s before going on to found streaming music service MOG in 2005 — in Berkeley again. MOG was bought by Beats Electronics in 2012 and moved to Southern California (Beats, in turn was bought by Apple in August this year). Now, Hyman has returned to Berkeley intent on making a success of another music start-up, Chosen.

But don’t expect to follow that link to find out anything about Chosen. It’s currently in stealth mode. There’s a small team in west Berkeley and a team of developers in Israel.

Here’s all Hyman will say: “Chosen is a new online performance platform geared towards unsigned talent and is aiming to change the way people interact and engage with music and video content.” … Continue reading »

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Cal prof Joshua Bloom makes earthquake alert kit for $110

Joshua Bloom's homemade earthquake early warning alarm, in a Gregoire box. Photo: Joshua Bloom
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When the Napa earthquake struck on Aug. 24, Joshua Bloom had a 5-second warning.

That’s because the UC Berkeley astronomy professor likes to tinker.

It was when Bloom was a beta tester in the prototype ShakeAlert system being developed by a consortium of seismological researchers (including UC Berkeley), that he came up with an idea.

“I thought it was silly that every time I closed my laptop, I couldn’t get a warning,” he said.

So Bloom cobbled together his own earthquake alarm for just over $100, using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer ($36.39), a wired speaker ($14.99), a mini-WiFi adapter ($6.71), and SD card.

To house it, he uses a box from Grégoire, the local restaurant group known for its crispy potato puffs. And he keeps the device in the living room of his North Berkeley home, next to the fireplace.

ShakeAlert triggered a 10-second early warning alert for the Magnitude 6 Napa quake last month. Bloom’s device provided a five-second warning. (Bloom details how it worked on his blog.)

Meet Joshua Bloom at Uncharted on Oct. 24-25. Get your early-bird tickets now!

For Bloom, this is tinkering with a definite purpose. He sees his demonstration project as validation that Californians could have an earthquake alarm in every home for about the same price as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. And he hopes it adds pressure to the legislature to fund the $80 million it will take to roll out the ShakeAlert network beyond its few privileged early testers. … Continue reading »

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Government

The Lowdown: Berkeley council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On June 24, the Berkeley City Council is considering a raft of November ballot measures, discussing a preservation covenant for the Main Berkeley Post Office, and voting on adoption of the fiscal year 2015 budget.

On the action calendar

The council has spent several meetings debating how to fund much-needed maintenance for Berkeley’s parks. Polling commissioned by the City Council indicated that the two-thirds vote required for bond measures would be a difficult hurdle for a parks proposal. But at the May 20 meeting, the council agreed to move forward with a 16% hike in the parks special tax and create a Mello-Roos district for continued funding of parks operations. The council is scheduled to vote to place both measures on the ballot at tonight’s meeting. There will be a public hearing on the Mello-Roos district.  … Continue reading »

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Glenchur named Berkeley High interim principal

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Kristin Glenchur, vice principal at Berkeley High for the last six years, has been appointed interim principal of BHS for the 2014-15 school year by the BUSD superintendent and board.

Glenchur’s appointment comes after a brief search for a replacement for Pasquale Scuderi, who was appointed assistant superintendent for educational services for Berkeley Unified at the start of May. When the Scuderi appointment was announced, superintendent Donald Evans said he expected to hire a new principal by the end of May.

“There wasn’t a sufficient number of applicants,” said Mark Coplan, spokesman for BUSD.

Coplan said the school district would advertise the position and seek applicants from across the country next year. … Continue reading »

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News

7 Berkeley stories you won’t want to miss

Overflowing trash near Prospect St. Photo: Jasper Burget
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1. Building begins on site of Sequoia Apts fire on Telegraph
2. Once in a lifetime chance to see plant bloom in Berkeley
3. Photos: Departing Cal students leave debris piles behind
4. Berkeley officials hold off on minimum wage task force
5. Surveillance camera registry a possibility for police
6. Authorities uncover drug operation on Oregon Street
7. Potential Walgreens suit brews as Berkeley officials tackle new drugstore … Continue reading »

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East Bay’s Lush Gelato set to open in San Francisco

Lush Gelato in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Lush plans to expand to San Francisco's Nob Hill with a combined ice cream store and open kitchen.
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Lush Gelato, which was founded in the East Bay five years ago, is planning to expand to San Francisco.

Co-owner and gelato maker Federico Murtagh has launched a Kickstarter campaign to open a new ‘farm-to-cone’ store at1817 Polk Street in Nob Hill, where he’ll also have a demonstration kitchen.

“We want to show off how we make our gelato,” Murtagh said. “Most ice cream makers you know buy the mixture pre-made, then they flavor it and then they sell it. We make everything from scratch. We want to show all that process.”
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Events

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

Dr. Herb Wong, Washington Elementary School Principal invited world class big bands to perform for BUSD students.
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BERKELEY HIGH JAZZ ALUMNI CONCERT The “father” of Berkeley High’s acclaimed jazz program will be commemorated on Sunday at the third annual Berkeley High Jazz Alumni Concert. Musicians, spanning decades of Berkeley High jazz, will celebrate Wong’s life. Performers will include multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, saxophonists BEnnett Friedman and Hitomi Oba, bassoonist Paul Hanson, percussionist Josh Jones, trombonist Sarah Cline (the current director of the program), and surprise guests. Charles Hamilton, who led the jazz program for 28 years to 2009, will be the day’s music director, and KCSM DJ Jesse “Chuy” Varela will emcee the day. Wong was principal of Washington Elementary in the ’60s, and was an early advocate for jazz education. The City of Berkeley will present a posthumous award honoring Wong’s inspiration to generations of Berkeley students. Sunday, June 1, 2-5 p.m., Coventry Grove, Kensington. Tickets are $20 at the door or through advance purchase on Eventbrite (recommended). Children under 5 are free. The concert benefits Berkeley High’s jazz programs. Doors open at 1 p.m.  … Continue reading »

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Real Madrid to play Inter Milan on grass (!) at UC Berkeley

Real Madrid star player Cristiano Ronaldo likes pointing to himself. Photo: RealMadrid.com
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Real Madrid and Inter Milan will meet in the first-ever international soccer match at Cal Memorial Stadium on July 26.

For fans of what the rest of the world calls football, the chance to see two of the most storied teams in the game on — for this game only — natural grass at Memorial Stadium should prove a treat. The teams are playing in the confected International Champions Cup, which brings eight great European squads for a round of so-called friendly matches in the U.S.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside

9 Berkeley stories you won’t want to miss

Photo: Mickey Novella
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There’s certainly no shortage of stories in Berkeley this week:

Car used for smash-and-grab at Apple Store in Berkeley Council boosts minimum wage, approves task force to look deeper Rowdy youths disrupt downtown Berkeley police stop sparks racial controversy Officials agree to study Tasers for police Police rescue two men from I-80 overpass fire School district seeks feedback on how to spend $2.4 million for low-income students Initiative aims to tighten ‘green’ … Continue reading »

Update: Rowdy high schoolers disrupt Berkeley downtown

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Update, 10:50 p.m. According to Lt. Dave Frankel, Berkeley Police Department had planned a large police presence this afternoon, following two previous Fridays with what he described as “rambunctious” behavior. The police had received reports that some confrontations were expected between Berkeley High and B-Tech students.

Today’s confrontations, however, spiraled into a series of fights and other disruptive behavior by students.

Two Berkeley High students were arrested and released to their parents, one for punching someone, the other for resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. A student from an Oakland charter school was also arrested for battery via pepper spray, Frankel said. He said Berkeley High staff had been helping police.

There was no information of property damage.

“This turned into groups of people wanting to fight each other,” Frankel said. It wasn’t, he explained, a riot where property damage was an aim. … Continue reading »

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