Hospital nurses strike on Christmas Eve

Hundreds of Bay Area nurses spent the day before Christmas walking picket lines in front of Bay Area hospitals Monday in an ongoing dispute over wages, benefits and patient-care issues.

The strike by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United involved nine hospitals in San Jose and the East Bay. Seven are affiliated with Sutter Health, including three Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Oakland and Berkeley, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch and Sutter Solano in Vallejo.

Registered nurses also walked off the job at two San Jose facilities affiliated with the Hospital Corporation of America.

Many of the Sutter nurses returned to work on Christmas Day, but Sutter Solano planned to lock out its striking nurses until Saturday, said union spokeswoman Liz Jacobs.

HCA brought in replacement workers on five-day contracts and has also told its striking nurses they will not be allowed back to work until Saturday, Jacobs said.

UC police seek man who groped student

UC Berkeley police are looking for a man who reportedly groped a female student Dec. 20.

The 21-year-old student was attacked about 7:30 p.m. on a walkway between Barker and Koshland halls, according to a statement police issued Dec. 21.


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The man, described as Hispanic and in his late 20s or early 30s, allegedly grabbed the student from behind "with both of his hands and grabbed her genital area over her clothing around her waist."

She screamed and he ran toward Hearst Avenue, police said. The attacker is described as about 5-foot 5-inches tall, with shoulder length dark hair and heavy build. He was wearing a turquoise T-shirt and dark pants.

Police searched the area but did not find the man. Anyone with information on the attack is asked to call UC Police at 510-642-0472 or 510-642-6760.

$17,000 rewards offered in two Berkeley slayings

The city and Bay Area Crime Stoppers are offering two $17,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in two recent homicides.

A reward is being offered in the Oct. 7 beating death of a 64-year-old homeless man named Mark Stannard, who also was known as Cowboy, police said. Police found him in the bushes near 800 Harrison Street by the Berkeley Skate Park.

Following his death the police and the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau determined he died as the result of a felony assault.

A second $17,000 reward is being offered in the Dec. 4 murder of 50-year-old Paula Mullins who was shot while riding her bike in the 2700 block of Sacramento Street just outside the fence of Longfellow Middle School. Mullins died just about 100 feet from the front door of her apartment.

Anyone with information about the deaths of either victim can call the Berkeley police homicide department at 510-981-5741 or Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Students welcome at Mathematics Festival

Math-loving students in grades 6-12 are invited to sign up for the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival, taking place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 27 at UC Berkeley's International House.

The challenging but noncompetitive festival is a program of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and named for Robinson, a longtime UC Berkeley mathematics professor.

"The festival is ideal for students who love math, games, or puzzles, for contest-goers seeking another side of math, or for those who prefer a collaborative, noncompetitive approach to problem-solving," say organizers. "At the festival, students can spend an entire morning exploring mathematical activities designed to inspire curiosity, encourage collaboration and promote creative problem-solving."

Participants spend about 20-30 minutes on each activity and get support from adult volunteers. Some problems will engage middle school students, "while others are advanced enough to challenge the brightest high school students."

There are limited spaces at the festival to allow individual attention for each student.

The cost is $10 per student and registration and details are online at https://hosted.msri.org/jrmf/2013/berkeley/register. Full and partial scholarships are available.

New exhibit on branch library history

A new historical exhibit on The Branches of Our Community: Berkeley's Neighborhood Libraries is now in the Reading Room of the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St.

The West and South branches are being completely rebuilt and enlarged and are scheduled to open in 2013.

Details: 510-981-6195.

-- Sandy Kleffman Doug Oakley, Thomas Peele and Chris Treadway