News in Brief: Squirrely Half-Footer Leaves 25,000 Temporarily Powerless



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As further proof that just one small individual can really affect widespread change, a lone squirrel managed to cut off power from 25,000 PG&E customers yesterday.

The squirrel somehow snuck into a Pacific Gas and Electric transformer at the El Cerrito substation, causing much of Berkeley and parts of Albany and Oakland to go without power for an hour from 10:25 a.m. to near 12, said PG&E spokesperson Maureen Bogues.

This is not the first time a mischievous rodent took down the power giant. Last November, another squirrel crawled into the transformer, shorting it out and dying in the process. 37,000 customers were left without power. Earlier that year, a different squirrel cut off power for 30,000 homes.

"They're pretty good at getting into stuff," said spokesperson Jonathan Franks after last year's attack. "With 110,000 miles of power lines, it's pretty much impossible to animal-proof all of it."

WILL EVANS

Symposium Draws Civil Rights Activists

The opening of a new collection of documents and oral histories from the 1960s drew a crowd of civil rights activists to UC Berkeley last week.

The "Intersection of Civil Rights and Social Movements" symposium, held Friday in Pauley Ballroom, focused on rights for disabled students.

Four current UC Berkeley students in the Disabled Students Program read from the oral histories of former student activists.

The new archive, which will be housed in the Bancroft Library, contains a collection of documents that span 200 feet, along with 500 transcribed pages of interviews.

In 1962, Ed Roberts, a paraplegic student, was admitted to UC Berkeley. His lifelong fight to assure independence for disabled persons is chronicled in the new collection in the library along with stories of members of the "Rolling Quads," a group of wheelchair-bound students who attended UC Berkeley during the 1970s.

"This was a unique conference with the idea of intersecting the civil rights movement with the movement for the Americans With Disabilities Act from 1990 is great," said Elizabeth O'Hara, who attended the conference.

O'Hara traveled from Chicago, along with 12 other family members from around the nation, to attend the conference with her sister Susan O'Hara, who contracted polio decades ago when she was 17 years old. Susan O'Hara was the director of the Disabled Students Program at UC Berkeley from 1988 until 1992.

"There were some thrilling moments today," she said. "It is very important to include the disabled movement with the civil rights movement."

Willa Baum, whom Susan O'Hara called the Godmother of oral history at UC Berkeley, first sought funding for the project in 1982. The director of the Bancroft Library, Charles B. Faulhaber, said the project is one of the largest ever begun by the library and one of the best funded.

DUANE DE WITT

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