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Crosscurrents is the award-winning daily news magazine from KALW Public Radio. We make joyful, informative stories that engage people across the divides in our community - economic, social, and cultural.

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Go Van Gogh

Jan 11, 2012
Photo courtesy of Go Van Gogh

The Go Van Gogh music is often called “country music,” which means: while it’s played by Americans, it’s influenced by the music of many countries. They return to Disco Volante in downtown Oakland on Saturday (January 14), starting about 9:30pm. 

BART’s San Jose extension is one step closer to breaking ground after the Federal Transit Administration approved a $900 million grant. Two new stations are planned, one in Milpitas and one in the Berryessa neighborhood. Construction could begin as early as the spring and will cost $2.3 billion…

The extreme wealth gap in Berkeley, the newest beats out of the Bay Area, a pop-up Jewish music store, and local musician The John Garcia Band.

The Shifting Beliefs Of New Hampshire’s Young Voters

Jan 10, 2012
Photo courtesy of

Since the general election in 1998, youth voters (18-34) in New Hampshire have been more active than their peers around the country. In fact, according to a recent study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the youth turnout in New Hampshire reached an impressive 43% percent in 2008.

Musician Chris Turner is an Oakland native, but he’s spent much of the last decade touring the country with a soulful, sophisticated R&B sound. He just recently had his first show in a long time in his hometown.

Julie Caine

In San Francisco, the idea of "pop up" is ubiquitous. Pop-ups are temporary businesses, venues, or events that happen suddenly, in unexpected locations, and only for a short amount of time. There are pop-up bakeries, pop-up restaurants, pop-up magazines. And for a little while last month, housed in an old nail salon, there was Tikva Records, the world's first Jewish pop-up record store.

KJ Pargeter

Change is coming to a community college near you. Despite objections from concerned students and faculty, the community college Board of Governors voted to approve 22 recommendations they say will help community colleges weather the economic crisis. Several of them will make it harder for students to take classes outside their focus or to spend too many years in school...

John Garcia Band

Jan 10, 2012
Photo courtesy of John Garcia Band

The John Garcia Band has performed with everyone from John Lee Hooker to Johnny Winter, B.B. King to Albert King. He has also taught blues guitar in the Bay Area for several years. Now, he’s playing with his own band on Sunday (January 15) at Biscuits and Blues, near Union Square in San Francisco, starting at 8pm.

For anyone who’s been there, the news that Downtown Berkeley is one of the Bay Area’s poorest neighborhoods probably comes as a surprise.  The city’s median family income is $90,000, which is twice the national average.  And downtown doesn’t seem much different from the rest of Berkeley.

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's decision to steal $2,500 worth of clothing from a San Francisco Neiman Marcus – including a pair of leather pants – could have been caused by a medical issue. Hayashi's lawyer says a brain tumor tainted her judgment,  potentially enabling a case of sticky fingers...

The fight over gold mining along the Klamath River, job burnout over lack of empathy, and local musicians The Heavy Thin.

Most of us have experienced job burnout – when we get bored with our work or sick of our colleagues, for example. But what happens when your work is all about other people? If you’re a doctor, or a nurse, or a teacher? This is what Berkeley PhD student Eve Ekman calls “empathy burnout.” Holly Kernan spoke with Ekman about her research.

Photo courtesy of Hadley Robinson

With gold continuing to sell at historically high prices, the hunt for the shiny mineral is alive and well. Mostly.

In 2009, California outlawed a technique known as suction dredge mining, which makes finding gold a bit easier than shaking a pan. Officials wanted to study potential damage to the Klamath River, an area where there was lots of dredging. KALW’S Hadley Robinson has the story about a struggle for power along the river.

The HeavyThin

Jan 9, 2012

It’s important to stand out in the music world. That’s why The Heavy Thin – who you’re hearing now – is described as “the Bay Area’s only almost all-photojournalist rock band.” Most members work as photographers for their day jobs. They’re on the program Friday the 13th (01.13) at The Stork Club in Oakland, along with five other bands!

Will Cities Be Heard in Campaign 2012?

Jan 9, 2012
Urban policy has—not surprisingly—not been a hot topic at presidential debates this year. But like every president since FDR, the next occupant of the White House will have an impact on America's cities.

Shortly after lunchtime on the day of the 2004 New Hampshire primary, Joe Lieberman's bus pulled up to an elementary school on the east side of Manchester. Waiting there for him were three men who clearly had been sleeping on the street before they, briefly, became part of the Connecticut senator's campaign. On a cue from a campaign staffer, as Lieberman descended from his coach with the assembled media watching, the three men began waving signs and energetically shouting, "Go Joe! Go Joe! … Joe-mentum!

Nobody mistakes California for some mythical Library Land of fully staffed facilities with budgets that reach up to the clouds. In fact, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year would eliminate all state funding to California library programs. Still, some library systems are somehow, someway continuing to upgrade – like San Francisco. 22 branches have been refurbished or opened in San Francisco through a Neighborhood Library Campaign that began over a decade ago on a budget that has grown to $188.9 million as of February of last year.


Hey, so, just wondering, why did the love of your life break up with you? Actually, it’s not just me who’s wondering. David Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, would like to know as well. So if you could post your break up tale here, that would be great.

Budget cuts to municipal transportation agencies, trusting children to take their education seriously, the Occupy movement and protest songs, and local musicians Clangin' and Bangin'.

The sound of the Occupy movement, from Wall Street to the West Coast, has been captured in angry chants. But give a listen to protests of the past, and you’ll find musicians making themselves heard in many different ways. KALW’s Martina Castro spoke with Latin jazz percussionist John Santos about the role of music in social protest and the Occupy movement.

Rosa Say/Flickr Creative Commons

Last year, commuters of all kinds came to terms with one fact: getting somewhere, anywhere, is harder than it used to be. Here in the Bay Area, drivers faced higher gas prices and bridge tolls. AC Transit riders dealt with fewer bus lines and increased fares. San Francisco Muni riders faced changing routes as well. All in all, 2011 meant more cost, and oftentimes more waiting, for drivers and riders. And it might not get better this year.

Dan4th Nicholas

As with much conventional wisdom on crime and punishment, popular notions of what actually causes recidivism--people cycling repeatedly in and out of prison--don't hold up when you look at the statistics. California's latest report analyzing its notoriously high (currently 65 percent) recidivism rate contains an array of numerical nuggets that shed new light on the cycle of crime. A sampling:

On a typical day at Brightworks, a private school in San Francisco’s Mission District, students are welding, listening to indie music, and writing novels. The school opened its doors last September with a simple goal: trust your kids more.

The total enrollment for Brightworks is 30 students. They range in age from six to 12 years old. Mackenzie Rose-Price is a teacher at Brightworks, but they don’t call her that at the school. Instead, she’s a “collaborator.”

I just received a press release with this subject heading:

News Advisory - Doomsday Clock - Major Announcement to be Made Tuesday by Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

That'll get your attention, won't it? So I read the email. Turns out after "year-long deliberations" a collection of scientists will determine whether or not the end of the world is more nigh than it was at the beginning of 2011.

Natural Gas Jazz Band

Jan 5, 2012

The Natural Gas Jazz Band will be playing traditional jazz at the 19 Broadway club in Fairfax on Sunday, January 8. Music starts about 4pm.

After a series of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio last week, some observers are pointing to an unusual culprit. Yesterday seismologist John Armbruster told NPR that he thinks the quakes were related to an oil and gas extraction process called fracking.

Fracking; the water pipes of San Francisco high schools; remembering Sanjiv Handa; and East Bay's The Secret Identities.

Joe Mud

Yesterday, officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation travelled to Chowchilla in the Central Valley to talk to locals about the pending conversion of Valley State Prison for Women into a men’s facility. Chowchilla, the closest town to two of the state’s three women’s prisons, has resisted the conversion, worried about the impact of bringing in thousands of male prisoners.

Oakland City Hall. Flickr photo by mcjohnnyz.

In the last week of 2011, a man named Sanjiv Handa passed away. KALW’s Rina Palta tweeted, “Oakland City Council meetings will be a lot less interesting.” It was a sentiment shared by many people. Handa, who was 55, spoke at nearly every meeting of the Oakland city council for two decades. He went to subcommittee meetings, and commission meetings. He researched legislation, and he dogged city officials over every rule violation.

A peer review group is advising lawmakers to turn down billions of dollars in bond funding for California’s high speed rail project. The group, commissioned by Proposition 1A, is voicing a host of concerns, though they mainly question whether there will be adequate funding for the project in the future...

You Can Lead A Kid To Water

Jan 4, 2012
Brett Myers/Youth Radio

State and federal governments are implementing new policies requiring schools to provide free drinking water in cafeterias at lunchtime, to promote health and fight obesity. Ideally, schools install “hydration stations” where students fill up reusable bottles with chilled, filtered water.