The Week



Press Release: Bulletin #3 – Day 12 of Tent City on steps of Berkeley’s Post Office
Tent City to privateers: Hands off the public commons! Halt the heist of the Post Office!

From Margot Smith
Wednesday August 07, 2013 - 11:59:00 AM

The Tent City on the steps of Berkeley’s main post office is now in its 12th day. Two dozen campers have been sleeping there to rally opposition to the Grand Theft of the people’s Post Office being engineered by Postmaster General Donahoe and his right wing collaborators in Congress. “These post offices were paid for by our parents and grandparents,” said one camper. “Why should they be sold off to line the pockets of a handful of big corporations?” -more-

New: Downtown Berkeley Takes Back Its Streets

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday August 07, 2013 - 03:53:00 PM

Don't call it a downtown miracle or transformation. Those terms are online cliches.

Besides, a miracle is inexplicable. This miracle/transformation has explanations.

Last year downtown was facing a crisis of anarchy as homeless youth and other hardcore street squatters trashed Berkeley's commons.

The Planet published scores of photos depicting the ragtag congestion downtown.

But when Berkeley's National Night Out held its second annual downtown Ice Cream Social near the downtown BART entrance, you might have been in Kansas. (Except for the exhibition of 120 photos of Tibetans, who immolated themselves since 2009 to protest Chinese persecution). -more-

Berkeley Shooting Victim Identifed

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday August 05, 2013 - 08:14:00 PM

A man who was fatally shot in Berkeley on Thursday night has been identified as 24-year-old Dustin Bynum, police said today. -more-

BART Strike on Hold for a Week

By Bay City News
Sunday August 04, 2013 - 11:30:00 PM

Governor Jerry Brown stepped in to forestall a BART strike this evening by appointing a three-person board of inquiry to look into contract talks. -more-

Man Shot and Killed in Northwest Berkeley Last Night

By Hannah Albarazi (BCN)
Friday August 02, 2013 - 08:50:00 AM

A 24-year-old man was fatally shot in Northwest Berkeley Thursday night, according to police. -more-

Dorothy Day Free Breakfast Program Forced to Seek New Location

By Lydia Gans
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 04:42:00 PM

Hunger is a world wide issue these days, not only in remote parts of the world but here in the United States, indeed here in our own city. Berkeley has a number of churches and non profit organizations giving out food baskets or serving daytime meals for people with what is called 'food insecurity'. But homeless people, with no place to prepare or store food, have a special need, that is for a morning meal. Only one organization, Catholic Worker/Dorothy Day House has for 30 years been providing a free hot breakfast every morning.

For the past six years or so the meal has been taking place at Trinity Methodist Church on Bancroft every morning except on Sundays when it happens in Peoples Park. In June the church management informed Dorothy Day House that they would have to move. There were problems, according to Pastor Mark Cordes, the program was 'beyond our capacity to support”. Since then they served briefly in Newman Hall and are currently at First Congregational Church but their stay there will end in mid August. The picture looks bleak after that. If no indoor location for the breakfast can be found it will have to be served outdoors. -more-

Transit Agencies Brace for Another Possible BART Strike

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 03:31:00 PM

With a second BART strike possible on Monday, Bay Area transit agencies are again preparing alternate ways to get commuters to their destinations without BART trains running.

A 30-day contract extension between BART management and two of BART's employee unions -- Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 -- expires Sunday night and there is no sign yet that an agreement is likely before then.

The first strike occurred during the Fourth of July holiday week. It lasted four and a half days and ended on July 5.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said today that the MTC is creating a strike contingency plan that is "largely the same" as the approach used during the first strike. -more-

Berkeley Judge Gets 5 Years Probation in $1.6 Million Elder Theft Case

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 03:16:00 PM

A former Alameda County Superior Court judge who faced 32 felony counts for allegedly stealing at least $1.6 million from his elderly neighbor in the Berkeley Hills pleaded no contest today to two felonies and will only face five years' probation. -more-

Progressive Incoherence in “Radical” Berkeley (News Analysis)

By Zelda Bronstein
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 11:57:00 AM

In the fall of 2011 Occupy caught the world by surprise, as tens of thousands of Americans, led by youth no less, took to the streets demanding economic justice. In Berkeley, California, Occupy upset expectations of a different sort. That city, my home for thirty-three of the past forty-six years, is widely regarded as a prime redoubt of the American left. But in the East Bay and, for a few weeks, the entire country, the epicenter of Occupy materialized in front of Oakland’s, not Berkeley’s, city hall. -more-

New: Book Review: The 15% Solution- How the Republican Religious Right took Control of the U.S. 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel

By Conn Hallinan
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 01:33:00 PM

The “15% Solution” might well be subtitled, “How to boil a frog:” slowly, so he doesn’t notice.

Jonas, a Harvard-trained MD, a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University, has conjured up a book that is less fiction than contemporary politics wrapped in the form of a novel. Indeed, time after time, the “fiction” precisely parallels real life developments. While the book was originally written in 1996, a disturbing number of events—like systematic voter disenfranchisement—are now the rule in places like Texas and North Carolina.

In a sense, the “fiction” is a fiction. While the book does examine a supposed 40-year period, during which conservative forces and rightwing Christians take over the United States, many of the speeches, quotes, and statistical materials are real (and meticulously footnoted at the end of each chapter). In short, the only thing made up is the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution, the establishment of four “republics” based on race, and a “new” civil war. -more-

New: Book Review: The 15% Solution- How the Republican Religious Right took Control of the U.S. 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel

By Conn Hallinan
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 01:33:00 PM

The “15% Solution” might well be subtitled, “How to boil a frog:” slowly, so he doesn’t notice.

Jonas, a Harvard-trained MD, a professor of preventive medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University, has conjured up a book that is less fiction than contemporary politics wrapped in the form of a novel. Indeed, time after time, the “fiction” precisely parallels real life developments. While the book was originally written in 1996, a disturbing number of events—like systematic voter disenfranchisement—are now the rule in places like Texas and North Carolina. -more-



What Many Still Don't Know about Racism

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 03:19:00 PM

The verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin produced a flood of opinion in the left-leaning press—many excellent coherent comments on the Second Amendment, Stand Your Ground laws and racism in general, some of them in this space and most of which I agree with. But the comment that’s stuck with me was not one of these, in fact from someone with whom I seldom agree, David Brooks.

Poor David Brooks is stuck with the label of “on the other hand” when news organizations are looking for a rightish Republicanish voice to balance all those clever lefties who write well and are available at a dime a dozen in the national media. Genteel outlets like the New York Times and PBS’s News Hour don’t want to publish slavering idiots like David Horowitz and Glenn Beck, but they have a residual commitment to offer a somewhat contrasting point of view, left over from the David Gergen era. This gets harder and harder as the Republicans trip blithely down the primrose path of Tea Party insanity, leaving behind the polite moderates like Brooks who used to support the sensible Northeastern version of quasi-conservatism.

What was remarkable about Brooks’ reaction to President Obama’s speech about the verdict, as I heard it in passing on the News Hour, which I seldom listen to on the radio and never watch on television, is that he reported experiencing some kind of personal epiphany as he watched the talk. The turning point, he seemed to be saying, was the President’s suggestion that the verdict would have been different if the shooter had been black and his victim white. It seems to be something he’s never thought about before.

As my pre-teen granddaughters would say, DUH! -more-


Odd Bodkins: Evolution Marches On. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday August 02, 2013 - 10:00:00 AM

Odd Bodkins: Edgy. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday August 02, 2013 - 09:58:00 AM

Odd Bodkins: Nicotine Withdrawal Dream #98. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday August 02, 2013 - 09:53:00 AM

Public Comment

New: Building a powerful nationwide grass-roots movement to
Save the People’s Post Office

By Dave Welsh
Monday August 05, 2013 - 11:53:00 AM

Without question, the big-business class – and their agents in USPS headquarters, the executive branch and Congress – are on a path to dismantle the Postal Service, privatize the profitable parts of it, and neutralize or destroy the postal unions. -more-

New: Senior Programs in Berkeley Threatened by State Senate Bill

By Maris Arnold
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 12:51:00 PM

Planet readers might be interested to know that State Senate Bill 173 completely wipes out funding for all Older Adult Programs in the state after June 2014. These programs are administered through the Adult Schools. The erasure of funds is an attack on Adult Education and is another step to eradicate free public education.

Senate Bill 173 is presently being reviewed in a Special Joint Education Committee of the State Legislature. Both Nancy Skinner and Loni Hancock are on this Committee.

Hancock supports wiping out the Older Adults Program money. Repeated attempts by this writer to find out where Skinner stands have been unanswered by her office.

There is no budget shortfall this year so it’s economically irrational to cut out all funding for the Older Adult programs that provide robust mental and physical exercise programs as well as evidence-based disease prevention workshops that save the state significant MediCal dollars. In that respect, the Older Adult program more than pays for itself. -more-

Berkeley Rent Board is Only Opposition to State Law Protecting Tenants from Secondhand Smoke

By Carol Denney
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 09:11:00 PM

I’m sending [the editor, by U.S. Mail] the last page of the analysis of SB 332 because it illustrates that there was no opposition to protecting tenants from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke. Except from Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board.

Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board moved quickly in the weeks before the January 1, 2012 enactment of SB332 to unilaterally re-word Rent Control legislation in an effort to preclude tenant protection from secondhand smoke (see enclosed Proposed Regulation 1313).

August Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday August 02, 2013 - 10:02:00 AM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Abortion Politics

By Bob Burnett
Friday August 02, 2013 - 08:52:00 AM

There are indications America is becoming more liberal: recent Supreme Court rulings opened the door to same-sex marriage; more and more states are legalizing access to marijuana; and Rush Limbaugh is losing sponsors. Nonetheless, since the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans have waged an aggressive campaign to limit abortion rights. -more-

New: ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Illusions of Clarity

By Jack Bragen
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 11:29:00 AM

A common mistake in the thinking often brought on by psychosis is the incorrect perception that one's thinking is clear and accurate. If the mind is malfunctioning, one can not properly evaluate the quality of one's thoughts. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Turkey: Uprising’s Currents Run Deep

By Conn Hallinan
Friday August 02, 2013 - 09:00:00 AM

For the time being, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyio Erdogan—with the liberal use of brutal police tactics and massive amounts of tear gas that killed four people and injured more than 8,000— appears to have successfully crushed demonstrations aimed at blocking the demolition of Gezi Park in central Istanbul and has weathered a similar outbreak in the country’s capital, Ankara. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Time for the FCC to Re-Examine Its Retransmission Consent Rules

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 05:20:00 PM

Imagine not being able to watch "Person of Interest," "The Good Wife," "NCIS," and other programs on CBS or Showtime. But satellite customers like me as well as cable customers may not be able to have uninterrupted access to the major four (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) because the 1992 Cable Act requires pay TV providers to get broadcaster consent to carry the station and, since there is no limit on what broadcasters can charge in retransmission fees, pay TV providers can either pay what is asked or lose access to these networks -- a black out. -more-

SENIOR POWER: DNR and the facts of life

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday August 01, 2013 - 05:08:00 PM

This is about DNR, not DNA. DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. As in “revive.”

Advance directives and living wills are documents written by individuals, in order to declare their wishes for care, in case they are no longer able to speak for themselves. A DNR differs from an advance directive or living will. A physician or hospital staff member writes a DNR "physician's order," based on wishes previously expressed by the patient in an advance directive or living will. He or she has previously used an advance directive to appoint an agent.

Sounds easy. It isn’t. There are no guarantees, although there are assumptions galore. Not everyone has family or even close friends, who may not be keen on functioning as somebody’s agent. Many physicians resist anything that sounds remotely end-of-life related. You’re likely to see in the waiting room old issues of golf and architectural subscriptions, rather than Compassion & Choices or Ms Magazine or The Journal of Women & Aging-more-

Arts & Events

New: Film Review: Hannah Arendt: A Vivid, Honest, Unflinching Portrait
Shattuck Landmark Berkeley

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 03:59:00 PM

If your knowledge of Hannah Arendt is limited to her memorable phrase, "the banality of evil," director Margarethe von Trotta's latest character-study-in-courage offers an illuminating profile of the remarkable human being behind the indelible words. -more-

New: Blue Jasmine, Directed by Woody Allen, at the Albany Twin, August 2, 2013

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 12:00:00 PM

In his latest film, writer director Woody Allen doesn't quite capture San Francisco but Cate Blanchett absolutely conquers the lead role as Jasmine, a woman who had it all and lost it all. -more-

Theater Review: 'Pitch Perfect' at Central Works

By Ken Bullock
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 11:32:00 AM

"When you hired us, you said we were like family ... "

"That was bullshit!"

Frantic ad exec Bob (Brian Trybom) bursts into the half-abandoned LA office of the firm with bloodletting on his mind, having flown in from New York to fire someone, talking loud, brash and peppering his aggression with expletives, obviously trying to impress himself as much as everyone else in his self-conscious hard nose act. "You didn't have a childhood, did you, Bob?" queries Caitlin (Maggie Mason), the pert, blue-eyed Brit office manager-cum-multitasker, wearing many hats; "We used to have jobs here!" Then a Hide-a-Bed groans "Oh God, where am I?"—and the audience is introduced to Roger (Tim Redmond), a kind of self-made Robin Hood of an agency creative director, sarcastic and playful up against Bob's stiff contentiousness ... -more-

“Woman in Black”: the scariest play I’ve ever seen comes to Hayward Theatre in September

By John A. McMullen II
Friday August 02, 2013 - 09:07:00 AM

Twenty years ago, on my first trip to London, for a Wednesday matinee my companion and I took a chance on a play we knew nothing about except that it was one of the more popular shows there. -more-

Pitch Perfect hits a sour note at Central Works

By John A. McMullen II
Friday August 02, 2013 - 09:05:00 AM

I have referred to Central Works as a Berkeley Treasure. It has won many Critics Circle Awards. Gary Graves is a talented playwright and a good director. His choice of works is generally tip-top, while sometimes taking a chance with experimental fare.

However, this current production, Pitch Perfect by Martin Edwards, does not live up to that reputation in playwrighting, acting, and directing, as well as in the title, which is easily confused with the recent musical comedy film. -more-