The Week

In Memoriam: The protest encampment on the steps of the Berkeley Main Post Office. August 28, 2013.
Gar Smith
In Memoriam: The protest encampment on the steps of the Berkeley Main Post Office. August 28, 2013.


Flash: The Bridge is Open

By Bay City News
Monday September 02, 2013 - 09:16:00 AM

The Bay Bridge, complete with a newly-constructed eastern span, opened hours earlier than scheduled tonight, transit officials said. -more-

Flash: New Bay Bridge Will Open Tonight

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Monday September 02, 2013 - 05:51:00 PM

The Bay Bridge will be opening tonight, hours earlier than scheduled, transit officials announced this afternoon. -more-

Martin Luther King, Jr: Rethinking The Dream in a Time of War

Edited by Gar Smith
Friday August 30, 2013 - 11:02:00 AM

Martin Luther King is remembered for his ringing "I Have a Dream" speech, but the corporate media routinely distorts King's legacy by burying his later warnings that "the dream had become a nightmare" because of the Vietnam war.

By 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. had become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall US foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 -- a year to the day before he was murdered -- King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

Time magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi," and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

NBC recently helped balance the reporting on King's legacy by rebroadcasting reporter Sander Vanocur's rarely seen interview with the deeply troubled but reflective Civil Rights leader. The complete text of Dr. King's "Beyond Vietnam" address follows after the video clip. -more-

What a Difference a Day Makes

By Gar Smith
Friday August 30, 2013 - 07:30:00 AM
Our 'In-tents' Commitment

After more than 30 days, the Occupation camp on the steps of the Berkeley Main Post Office came to an abrupt, but generally peaceful, end on Thursday, August 29, 2013. -more-

Boss Ben (Fiction Excerpt)

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday August 30, 2013 - 08:22:00 AM

Oakland author J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s new novel, “Sugaree Rising,” was inspired by a long-forgotten incident in American history: resistance to the forced uprooting and relocation of close to 1,000 families—most of them African-American—to make way for the building of the Pinopolis Dam in rural South Carolina in the midst of the 1930’s Great Depression. A portion is excerpted below.

Allen-Taylor worked for many years as a reporter and political columnist with the Berkeley Daily Planet. Sugaree Rising is his first novel. Sugaree Rising is published by Freedom Publishers of San Francisco, and is available in both paperback and eBook online and at Bay Area bookstores. For more information:


They called him Boss Ben and nothing else, and it fit him like the belt stretched tight around his big belly. He dressed in white shirts and a tie and pressed slacks and tool-stitch-pattern black boots, with a wide planter’s hat sitting flat on his broad head. He took off his hat often to wipe his thinning hair with his handkerchief or the perspiration off his forehead. But it was not a worrying kind of sweat, because he displayed little worry about anything. He smiled Cheshire-cat-style at everyone and everything, the smile of a man who was good at his job and lived secure in the knowledge. Neither the office clothes nor the planter’s hat fooled anyone. One look at his hands told the real story. Boss Ben hadn’t come up in no office. He had blacksmith’s hands, big, meaty hands, with the fingers so thick that they crowded each other out for space when he gripped something, the palms and fingertips horn-yellow with callouses, and he had forearms as big and knotted as bull’s thighs that stretched the fabric of his shirtsleeves. He walked on massive legs with a rolling swagger that displayed a confidence that in whatever manner he approached the ground, it would always prepare itself to hold him. It was clear from the testimony of Boss Ben’s body that he had started life out as a working boy, either in mill or factory or field, most likely all three. And from his demeanor and ways—the easy bluster in his walk and the note of barked command in his voice that underscored its deep and lazy drawl—it was also clear that Boss Ben had bulled his way up from carrying loads to driving other men to do so. Thus, the name Boss. -more-

Ashes and Dust (First Person)

By Clare Bell-Fuller
Friday August 30, 2013 - 07:58:00 AM

Berkeley’s Family Camp was the proverbial village everyone says it takes to raise a kid.

This sweet spot, tucked along the south fork of the Tuolumne River, 155 miles from Berkeley and 7 miles from the entrance to Yosemite Park was, as corny as it sounds, a place of pure mountain air happiness.

The seeds of anticipation were planted when you made a reservation in April, for a spot in August….when, finally you made the long hot four hour drive and spotted the wooden sign. That specific unbridled thrill accompanied you as the car rolled into camp, filled to the brim with bedding, coolers, board games, swimming paraphernalia, books, sketch pads, water colors, cameras, flashlights, bug spray and sun screen. -more-



Updated: Syria: What Is to be Done?

By Becky O'Malley
Friday August 30, 2013 - 03:49:00 PM

Weekend UPDATE:

Thanks to the efforts of Congresswoman Barbara Lee and others, President Obama has, much to the surprise of some Very Important People in D.C., agreed to submit the decision on what to do about Syria to the Congress for debate. Thanks, Barbara.

In the last few days my inbox has been filled with earnest exhortations from all the estimable organizations that have email addresses for me. Not one of them has expressed the sentiment that is widely available in the national press as a whole: that we should go get ‘em in Syria.

Barbara Lee, my excellent representative in Washington, had the clearest expression of what we should be thinking about: “We must learn the lessons of the past. Lessons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and others.” Well, yes, but there’s more to it than that, unfortunately.

There’s a cliché about this so widely distributed that at a glance the Internet doesn’t even hazard a guess as to its provenance. Generals always fight the last war. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence


Odd Bodkins: The Handshake (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday August 30, 2013 - 12:49:00 PM

Bounce: A boy and his paper trail (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday August 30, 2013 - 04:04:00 PM

Bounce: Flight of the mumblehead (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday August 30, 2013 - 04:01:00 PM

Bounce: Inside the Aught (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday August 30, 2013 - 03:56:00 PM

Public Comment

New: The Truth about the Closing of the Berkeley Post Office Camp-Out

By Lydia Gans
Monday September 02, 2013 - 01:53:00 PM

The sudden attack by the city on the four week long camp-out to save the Berkeley Post Office was a sad ending to a spirited and peaceful action that was in the interest of the community. With people staffing a literature table and gathering petitions, urging folks to write letters in addition to organizing marches and concerts, the campers did an impressive job informing and educating the public about the issues involved. And they inspired, and were inspired by the protests at the many other post offices around the country facing the same threat.

After weeks of tacit support from city officials and non interference by the Berkeley police, statements appeared in the newspapers of the city manager's concern about 'violence and criminal activity' in the camp. It is unfortunate that the press published the official statements but made no effort to talk to the campers. Many of the stories that appeared in the papers were gross distortions if not outright lies. -more-

New: Notes from Behind the Scenes at Berkeley P.O. Protest Bust

By Ted Friedman
Monday September 02, 2013 - 02:19:00 PM

When the final stamp was cancelled on the Save Our Berkeley Post Office protest, Wednesday, the cameras were not rolling even though major media trucks regularly rolled in.

Media was caught off-guard, and so were the protesters. Only six were in camp when their camp stamp was canceled. -more-

Making a Movement

By Carol Polsgrove
Friday August 30, 2013 - 03:54:00 PM

For journalists who wonder if the little bit they do, day by day, week by week, makes a difference, paging through the Library of America’s anthology, Reporting Civil Rights, newly reissued, should reassure them.

I was reminded of that recently when an invitation to appear on the Tavis Smiley radio show sent me back to those two volumes, which I and three other editors helped to edit.

Many of the writers of these 1,800 pages were not professional reporters but people in other walks of life who felt moved to bear witness. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Post Office Defenders Respond to August 28th Raid

From Mike Wilson, Jim Squatter
Friday August 30, 2013 - 10:03:00 AM

On Saturday August 30th at 11:30 AM a press conference, followed by music and a rally, will take place at the Berkeley Post Office, 2000 Allston Way. Berkeley Post Office defenders will present information about the August 28th encampment raid by the Berkeley Police and discuss future actions to be taken against the sale of the Berkeley Post Office and the privatization of our commons. -more-

September Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Wednesday September 04, 2013 - 04:09:00 PM

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-

Medic Alert Scam

By Richard Reynolds
Friday August 30, 2013 - 07:54:00 AM

That calls we've been getting are more devious than indicated in your article. When you pick up the phone, this guy just starts talking. You think at first that it's a real person. He says that you've been recommended by a friend or perhaps you have requested the call yourself. He then goes on to say stuff like, "Gee, it says here that you can get this medic alert device absolutely free!" Later he says, "Oh, and it also says there is no shipping charge!" -more-

An Open Letter to John Stewart Company and Resources for Community Development About University Avenue Cooperative Homes in Berkeley

By Linda Carson
Friday August 30, 2013 - 10:17:00 AM

This is my third request for an interview regarding the nearly $16 million proposed rehab project for University Avenue Cooperative Homes that places 47 households at risk of losing their housing.

I would be deeply disappointed if no one replied to the following questions below, which were originally were sent to the executives of the John Stewart Company and Resources for Community Development on August 27, 2013. -more-

Wistfulness Should Be Outrage

By Linda Rollins
Friday August 30, 2013 - 11:00:00 AM

The wistful story about the family camp in the Sierras was nauseating. Governor Brown and Cal Fire let this fire burn out of control so the Governor could declare a state of emergency and get federal funds for the fire. Even Cal Fire employees are disgusted with the idiotic philosophy that fires should be allowed to burn for weeks or months. This is an outdated notion. Fires should be controlled immediately to prevent loss of life, livelihood, precious camps, forests, pets, wildlife, and property. It's criminal to let fires become infernos. Disgusting. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: The Kurds: Opportunity & Peril

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday August 27, 2013 - 10:04:00 AM

For almost a century, the Kurds—one of the world’s largest ethnic groups without its own state—have been deceived and double-crossed, their language and culture suppressed, their villages burned and bombed, and their people scattered. But because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Syrian civil war, and Turkish politics, they have been suddenly transformed from pawn to major player in a pivotal part of the Middle East. -more-

AGAINST FORGETTING: Chelsea Manning's Past and Future

By Ruth Rosen
Friday August 30, 2013 - 10:22:00 AM

Bradley Manning certainly picked a difficult time to tell the world that he has always wanted to live as a woman. Convicted of leaking 700,000 documents to Wikileaks, Manning - who went by the name Bradley - was sentenced to serve 35 years at Fort Leavenworth Prison, a military prison in Kansas. A spokeswoman for the facility told the "Today Show" that "the Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder." She now faces at least seven years in federal prison before she is eligible for parole. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Victims of Social Warfare

By Jack Bragen
Friday August 30, 2013 - 08:07:00 AM

In the war that the government and the rich are waging upon the poor and middle class, there is one group of people, persons with mental illness, who are easy targets of abuse. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Opera Live in Berkeley on Sunday Afternoon

Monday September 02, 2013 - 04:54:00 PM
Soprano Eliza O'Malley will sing the role of Gilda in Sunday's Verismo Opera production of Rigoletto, 2 p.m. at the Hillside Club in Berkeley.

This week brings the grand opening of San Francisco’s grand opera, complete with glamorous get-ups and lavish parties. But what’s often forgotten is that opera’s 19th century roots were firmly in common ground. It’s been a popular art form in Italy and elsewhere for more than two centuries, even though it’s attracted superb classical composers. Many European cities and towns still have small opera houses, and travelling music-lovers report that up-close and personal opera is exciting in a way that big-house and/or big-screen opera can never be.

Large American companies like the San Francisco Opera now fly in famous singers from around the world for elaborately staged and costumed extravaganzas, creating a level of expense which mandates big auditoriums and high ticket prices for fans who want to be close enough to see the action without binoculars. There have been a number of more-or-less successful recent attempts to make opera available to a larger audience: bringing streamed performances to movie houses, adding video to the nosebleed section of big opera houses, and other gimmicks.

But last September’s S.F. Opera experiment with bringing a streamed Rigoletto to the Giants’ waterfront ballpark is not being repeated this year. The company’s web site says that another Opera in the Ballpark will be presented in the summer of 2014, but neither the date nor the program is announced.

Nonetheless, whether you’re already an opera lover, or if you just think you like what you’ve heard on Prairie Home Companion and want to hear more, it doesn’t have to be a budget-busting expenditure. And if you’ve only seen opera on the big screen until now, you could be experiencing it live in a good number of Bay Area venues.

Next Sunday afternoon, September 8, for example, you’ll be able to see a real live production of Rigoletto presented by a company, Verismo Opera, whose goal is to make opera “accessible to the public at reasonable prices through a community effort of professional musicians and singers.”

In keeping with its mission statement, the non-profit company has been offering affordable opera for several years in a variety of locations around the bay, including Vallejo, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Francisco and Santa Cruz as well as Berkeley. Most shows are fully staged and costumed, with chamber orchestra and English supertitles, and every seat in the intimate houses where Verismo plays is a good seat.

The top price for tickets at Berkeley’s Hillside Club on Sunday at 2 will be only $20, with discounts below that for seniors and students.

The lead singers are experienced Bay Area pros: Frederick Winthrop (Duke of Mantua, tenor), Chris Wells (Rigoletto, baritone) and Eliza O'Malley (Gilda, soprano). They might be familiar to Berkeley audiences from previous Verismo productions at the Hillside Club theater—the most recent, La Traviata, played to a full house and a standing ovation in June.

Date: Sunday, September 8 -more-