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Attempted murder suspect's car after crash during police chase
Berkeley Police
Attempted murder suspect's car after crash during police chase


Texas Man Arrested for Allegedly Beating Man in Berkeley

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Wednesday October 23, 2013 - 09:24:00 PM

A Texas man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in Berkeley this morning after viciously beating a man and then fleeing from police, hitting a patrol car and finally crashing into a tree, according to Berkeley police. 

Duane Nailor, 54, of Texas, was allegedly using a weapon to beat a 41-year-old Oakland man near Shattuck Avenue and Center Street around 12:45 a.m., police said. 

The victim was on the ground while he was attacked. During the attack the suspect also broke a passing car's window before returning to hurt the man on the ground. 

When officers arrived, Nailor fled west on Center Street in an SUV. 

He then drove north on the southbound lane of Martin Luther King Jr. Way where he hit a responding police car. He continued to drive away while speeding north on MLK Jr. Way, police said. 

Officers continued after Nailor but lost sight of him. Eventually officers found the SUV near The Alameda and Hopkins Street where it had crashed into a tree. 

The right side of the car was sheared off after crashing into the tree, police said. 

Nailor had apparently tried to run away from the crash site on foot, but was eventually taken into custody. 

He was taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries suffered during the car crash. He was arrested on attempted murder charges.

Press Release: Berkeley Police Arrest Attempted Murder Suspect After Crash

From the Berkeley Police Department
Wednesday October 23, 2013 - 08:35:00 PM
Attempted murder suspect's car after crash during police chase
Berkeley Police
Attempted murder suspect's car after crash during police chase

Berkeley police officers arrested a suspect in an apparent attempt murder case early this morning, following a pursuit in which the suspect struck a police car, and later crashed into a tree in north Berkeley, destroying his vehicle. 

At approximately 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday, October 23rd, the Berkeley Police Department Communications Center received numerous calls reporting a man being violently beaten at the northeast corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. Witnesses reported the suspect was using a weapon to beat the victim, who was down on the ground.  

The suspect also broke out a passing motorist’s window, then returned to beat the victim. As officers approached, the suspect fled west on Center Street, driving a sport utility vehicle. Witnesses directed Officers towards the suspect’s vehicle, which was westbound on Center Street.  

The suspect turned from Center Street north into the southbound traffic lane of Martin Luther King Jr. Way, where he struck a responding police car. The suspect then fled at a high rate of speed, speeding north on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Officers pursued the vehicle, but lost sight of the vehicle due to its high rate of speed. As officers arrived in the area of the Alameda and Hopkins Street, they found the suspect vehicle had been involved in a solo vehicle collision, and the suspect attempting to flee on foot. The suspect was taken into custody. Officers determined the vehicle had collided with a tree on the Alameda north of Hopkins Street. The vehicle's right side was sheared open by the impact with the tree. 

The Alameda near Hopkins Street was closed for several hours, and is now open to all traffic. 

The victim, a 41 year old male, of Oakland, suffered major injuries, and is in critical condition in a local hospital. 

The suspect, Duane Nailor, 54 years old, of Texas, is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries suffered during the collision in a local hospital. Nailor has been arrested for attempted murder, and related charges to be determined. The investigation into this incident is ongoing; no information regarding the circumstances leading up to the attack is available at this time. Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to please call the Homicide Detail at (510) 981-5741, or our non-emergency number at (510) 981-5900. If a person wishes to remain anonymous, he/she can call the Bay Area Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

New: Hearing Tonight on Death of Mentally Ill Transgender Berkeley Woman

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday October 23, 2013 - 05:36:00 PM

Several community groups tonight will present the findings of a "people's investigation" into the death of a mentally ill transgender woman after a struggle with Berkeley police officers in February. 

The Berkeley Police Review Commission is holding a meeting on the issue because Berkeley Copwatch and other groups who prepared a report on the death of Kayla Moore, also known as Xavier Moore, gathered enough signatures to require one. 

Moore, 41, died shortly after a struggle with police that occurred at her apartment at the Gaia Building in the 2100 block of Allston Way shortly before midnight on Feb. 12. 

Berkeley police said they came to Moore's apartment after her roommate reported that she was acting belligerently and that he feared Moore would attack him. 

Berkeley Copwatch spokeswoman Andrea Pritchett said the investigation contains findings about what community groups, including the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, believe went wrong the night of Moore's death. 

Pritchett said the report also calls on the city of Berkeley to provide more services for people with mental illness, and for the Police Department to provide better training for officers in how to deal with the mentally ill. 

Berkeley police said in a lengthy report in May that they believe Moore's death was an accident and that officers acted appropriately. 

The commission's hearing will begin at 7 p.m. tonight at the South Berkeley Community Center at 2939 Ellis St. in Berkeley. 


CONTACT: Andrea Pritchett, Berkeley Copwatch (510) 229-0527 Diana Bohn, Coalition for a Safe Berkeley (510) 525-5497 or (510) 926-5871 Berkeley police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats (510) 981-5780 


Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


New: Wrongful Death Lawsuit by Berkeley Family Settled

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday October 22, 2013 - 04:01:00 PM

The wife and two sons of a man who was killed outside his home in the Berkeley Hills last year have reached a resolution of their wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Berkeley.

Attorney R. Lewis Van Blois, who represents the family of 67-year-old Peter Cukor, said the family won't receive any money from the city. Instead, the city, without admitting any fault, has agreed to change the police communications center's policies in order to improve public safety, he said. 

Cukor, who owned a logistics consulting firm, was killed outside his home at 2 Park Gate Road at about 9 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2012. 

The suspect, Daniel Jordan Dewitt, 24, was charged with murder for allegedly killing Cukor with a flowerpot but a judge has ruled that he is incompetent to stand trial, and he is currently being treated at Napa State Hospital.  

Dewitt, who grew up in Alameda, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia about six years ago, according to his parents. 

The suit on behalf of Andrea, Christopher and Alexander Cukor alleged that Berkeley police were negligent in the way they responded to the incident because they didn't send officers right away. 

The suit said Peter Cukor called the Berkeley Police Department's emergency number to ask that an officer be sent to his home immediately after he and his wife, Andrea Cukor, spotted a trespasser, later identified as Dewitt, on their property shortly before 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2012. 

The suit alleged that a dispatcher acted with gross negligence because he told Cukor that an officer would be sent to his home "soon" even though the dispatcher knew that officers wouldn't be able to respond quickly. 

Van Blois said that if Cukor had known officers were not on their way, he wouldn't have gone outside.  

The attorney said in a statement Monday that the family believes the changes the Police Department is making will help prevent similar tragedies in the future.  

He said the settlement calls for Berkeley police to make three changes to the communication centers' policies: 

--Dispatchers may advise callers that an officer will respond when a unit is available for their call, but when it is appropriate they may add that there may be a delay due to higher-priority calls or high call volume. 

--When callers ask when an officer might arrive, dispatchers may say that they can't estimate the time because there are too many variables. However, dispatchers may advise callers, when appropriate, that if they feel threatened they should immediately call 911. 

--When appropriate, dispatchers may ask callers toward the end of their call if there is anything they want to add. 

"The changes will result in better communication between the communication center and the emergency caller regarding police response to calls," Van Blois said. 

Berkeley police and city officials didn't respond to requests for a comment on the settlement.

New: BART's Off to a Slow Start as Accidents Clog Highways

By Bay City News
Tuesday October 22, 2013 - 10:05:00 AM

BART service is slowly getting back to normal but many commuters still opted to drive to work this morning, and a series of crashes has slowed traffic to a crawl on many Bay Area roadways.  

"Boy, there are a lot of accidents out there today," Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said. 

A 6:45 a.m. motorcycle accident on the Bay Bridge's westbound incline had traffic backed up for miles on several highways leading to the bridge.  

Traffic was also snarled by crashes and stalls on the San Mateo Bridge and on northbound Interstate Highway 880, Goodwin said. 

"Now that we look back on the couple days of the BART strike on Friday or Monday, we really need to thank our lucky stars that as many folks as were on the road, they weren't colliding with each other," he said.  

Goodwin said that during the strike, commuters were leaving for work extra early. The metering lights at the Bay Bridge were activated at about 5:30 a.m., when typically they don't go on until up to an hour later, he said.  

Today, people are leaving later again, Goodwin said. 

"Everybody's on the road right now," he said shortly before 8 a.m. He said he expects the afternoon commute to be smoother. 

Meanwhile, BART is back up and running but not at full capacity. 

"We have about a dozen fewer trains than we would normally have right now," BART spokesman Jim Allison said.  

As of 8 a.m. there were delays of about 20 minutes. 

"Things are improving as we move further into the morning," he said.  

BART officials had initially hoped to begin service at 4 a.m. today, but trains didn't actually start running until 5:42 a.m., Allison said.  

He said the problem was that BART was short-staffed because of the "short turnaround between the time the tentative agreement was reached and when we begin service." 

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 tweeted early this morning, "We don't have enough people for BART service just yet but we're working on it. Thank you for your patience." 

BART continued to provide charter buses from East Bay stations to San Francisco today, as it did during the strike. Allison said 90 buses picked up passengers at nine stations this morning.  

Allison credited employees who work in BART's operations center with getting the system going again, and asked for riders' patience as things get back to normal.  

"We're really happy to be running trains again for them," he said.

BART Strike Over: Full Report

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Monday October 21, 2013 - 10:50:00 PM

BART management and two of its unions announced a tentative agreement tonight, ending a four-day strike with partial train service expected to resume Tuesday morning.

Contract negotiations resumed this afternoon after service was suspended when workers walked off the job Friday. The walkout was the second this year, after contentious negotiations resulted in a four-day strike in July.

Partial train service is expected to resume starting as early as 6 a.m., with full restoration expected in time for the afternoon commute, BART general manager Grace Crunican said.

Management and union leaders from Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 worked with a federal mediator to reach the tentative agreement, which still must be approved by BART's Board of Directors and put up for a vote by the two unions.

The unions submitted a new contract offer Sunday night that included concessions related to work rules governing the use of technology but in the proposal union members "insisted on retaining work rules" that protect safety.

Flanked by politicians in Oakland tonight, union leaders and BART management announced the end of the strike that snarled Bay Area traffic and flooded alternative public transportation. 

"This has got to be the last time this happens. I think everyone's fed up, no one wants to see this happen ever again," Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said, adding that the new contract "sets a course to deal with grievances so they don't fester and create the kind of distrust" that led to the protracted negotiations over the last few months. 

Newsom said that the details of that would be revealed over the coming days and weeks, but few other details of the agreement were revealed. 

"This offer is more than we wanted to pay, but it is also a new path for our partnership with our workers," Crunican said. "We compromised to get to this place as did our union members. 


CONTACT: BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost (510) 464-6154 or (510) 414-4725 cellphone SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Cecille Isidro (510) 289-8767 ATU Local 1555 media line (510) 214-2595 


Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


Press Release: BART Announces Tentative Agreement with Unions, Confirms that Service Will Resume at 4 am Tuesday (Oct. 22)

From the BART press office
Monday October 21, 2013 - 10:39:00 PM

BART General Manager Grace Crunican issued the following statement after BART and its two largest unions reached a tentative agreement on labor contracts, which will now be presented to employees for a ratification vote: 

“We are pleased to announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with union leadership that will bring the trains back into service, starting tomorrow, while union members consider the agreement and vote on it. 

“This is a good package for our union members while still allowing the District to make the necessary investments in our infrastructure. That investment is critical to the future of the Bay Area. 

“We believe the tentative agreement will allow us to go forward with a commitment to working together. I won’t go into details about the tentative agreement. I will simply say it sets BART on a path of partnerships with union members and helps us to prepare for the future. 

“This has been a long and difficult negotiation. I want to thank the union leaders, the mediators and the BART Board of Directors for the hard work that has gone into getting us to the tentative agreement. 

“Our thanks to all of you in the public for your patience through this very difficult process.” 

Morning capacity may be limited.

Flash: BART STRIKE OVER! Service Starts Tomorrow Morning??

Monday October 21, 2013 - 10:19:00 PM

A notice on the BART website says that service will resume at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, following a tentative contract agreement. Since Tuesday is Oct. 22, we're not yet sure what they mean, but the 21st is almost over. Stay tuned. Here's the report in the Bay Area News Group papers

New: Berkeley Judge Gets Probation for Reduced Charge of Stealing from Elderly Neighbor

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday October 21, 2013 - 09:18:00 PM

A former Alameda County judge was sentenced today to five years' probation for stealing funds from his elderly neighbor in the Berkeley hills. 

Paul Seeman, 58, initially was charged with 12 counts each of perjury and offering a false or forged instrument, three counts each of elder theft and grand theft and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of information because authorities initially believed he had stolen more than $1 million from Anne Nutting, his neighbor. 

But prosecutor Jason Sjoberg said today that investigators ultimately could only prove that Seeman took about $5,600 from Nutting, who died at age 97 in April 2010. 

As a result, prosecutors allowed Seeman to plead no contest to one count each of elder abuse and perjury. 

Sjoberg said Seeman told investigators he had taken a $250,000 loan from Nutting but he paid all but $5,600 of it back by the time charges were filed against him in June 2012. 

Seeman paid back the rest of the money today, Sjoberg said. 

Seeman agreed in March to resign from his job and his conviction means that he ultimately will be disbarred and lose his right to practice law in California, according to Sjoberg. 

Seeman's lawyer, Laurel Headley, said in a prepared statement that, "He appreciates that the sentence took into account the many good works he has accomplished in his life." 

A Democrat, Seeman was appointed a judge by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in March 2009. 

He previously had served as a court commissioner for Alameda County Superior Court and a referee pro tem for the county's juvenile court. 


New: Fund Established to Help Homeless Victim of Train Collision

By Sonja Fitz
Monday October 21, 2013 - 09:13:00 PM

On Monday October 7th, Shelly Jones, age 27, and her boyfriend Sean Stallmayer, age 29, were in a car in West Berkeley waiting for a train to go by when they witnessed the unthinkable—a man on the tracks.

As they and other witnesses watched, the man was hit by the oncoming train. He survived, but was covered in blood and horribly injured, including a severed leg. Shelly and Sean were quick to act.

“Another girl called 911 but nobody went towards the guy, so we went and Sean put a tourniquet on him,” said Shelley.

The victim, Mark Schwartz, a homeless man and local modern day beat poet who ran for Mayor of Berkeley in 2012, was taken to surgery and is currently still at the hospital recovering.

But on-the-spot assistance was not enough for the young couple.

“We started contacting organizations because we just want to make sure he gets what he needs,” says Shelley. “After seeing what we saw, we feel connected to him.” 

At the couple’s request, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) has set up a fund to collect donations for the victim. 100% of funds will be held to help pay for health care, hospice, and other recovery costs. BOSS is a local nonprofit organization that provides shelter and housing, health and mental health care, job search assistance, and other services to homeless individuals and families across Alameda County (www.self-sufficiency.org).  

To donate, send a check made out to ‘BOSS’ to: BOSS, Attn: Mark’s Fund, 2065 Kittredge St., Ste. E, Berkeley CA 94704 or donate online at http://www.self-sufficiency.org/index.php/contribute.

BART Strike Jams Freeways on Friday

By Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Friday October 18, 2013 - 09:42:00 AM

Bay Area freeways, especially those leading to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, saw an increase in traffic today on the first day of a BART strike, the California Department of Transportation reported today.

Bay Area traffic delays increased around 30 percent above normal between 5 and 10 a.m. today, according to Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus.

The largest increase was seen on Interstate Highway 80 in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, Haus said.

Interstate highways 580 and 880 saw delays around twice as high as normal around 7 a.m., and the carpool lane on Interstate Highway 80 leading up to the Bay Bridge saw around 50 to 100 percent more traffic than a typical Friday, Haus said.

The backup is being felt in San Francisco, where city streets were heavily congested heading into the evening commute, especially at freeway entrances, according to a city transit official.

The Van Ness Avenue corridor is moving, but many other key intersections around the city are backed up congested, especially at freeway entrances, said Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

"The only thing you can do is be patient at this point," Rose said.

Rose said Muni has not been heavily affected by the traffic backup because it has transit-only lanes in the most affected areas.

One driver reported that the Fifth Street and Second Street on-ramps to eastbound Highway 80 in San Francisco were already severely backed up by 4 p.m., with waits of more than 45 minutes.

Many cars were giving up and turning around, presumably in search of alternate routes, the driver said.

The California Highway Patrol is reporting heavy traffic on the Bay Bridge this evening, although other areas so far look relatively normal, a CHP officer said. 

With many drivers seeking alternate routes due to the BART strike, however, the congestion is extending to other corridors, said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. 

Traffic today has been heavy on the Highway 880 corridor and on state highways 24 and 37, among other places, Rentschler noted. 

"What's happening now is [U.S. Highway] 101 in Marin is getting backed up because people are taking [Highway] 580, and 580 is backed up," Rentschler said. 

"So even though BART is far away, even though you don't take it, people are coming in from out of town," Rentschler said.

Press Release: New Center for Jewish Studies launched

By Gretchen Kell | UCB Media Relations
Saturday October 19, 2013 - 09:45:00 AM

A new Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, announced on Wednesday by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, will bring together faculty, students and visiting scholars for research and debate across Jewish studies’ wide academic landscape.

The vibrant new hub on campus will coordinate both a new “designated emphasis” that allows Ph.D. students to specialize in Jewish studies while earning a degree from a range of disciplines, and a Jewish studies undergraduate minor.

Breslauer said the new center “builds upon UC Berkeley’s long tradition of leadership in the study of Jewish literature, history and rabbinics, providing institutional capacity to deepen these strengths programmatically and to greatly expand our offerings.”

UC Berkeley has pledged $1 million to the center, which will report to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. In addition, the campus already has more than $8 million in endowed funds for Jewish studies that provides for three endowed chairs, a postdoctoral fellowship, graduate fellowships and two annual lectures.

“The campus is fully committed to the center’s growth and success,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. “The center will expand the breadth and depth of Jewish studies scholarship here, connect more students to the wealth of Jewish studies resources across the campus, and enrich the university’s engagement with the Jewish community in the Bay Area and beyond.”

The center will formally open on Oct. 30 in its new office space in Dwinelle Hall. A center administrator will be added in November, and graduate students can begin applying for the designated emphasis later this semester.

Among the existing resources at UC Berkeley for students in Jewish studies are the Israeli studies and Jewish law programs at the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society; the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life; the Berkeley Hillel Jewish Student Center; and the UC Berkeley Library’s famous Judaica collection, as well as its Yiddish and Hebrew language holdings.

Robert Alter, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of Hebrew and comparative literature and an internationally-renowned scholar and translator of Hebrew literature and the Bible, has been named the center’s founding director. He will deliver the inaugural lecture for the center on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Graduate School of Journalism in North Gate Hall. The event is open to the public.

“Inaugurating this center at UC Berkeley is nothing less than a landscape-shifting development – for our students, our faculty and the community at large,” Alter said.

Jill Stoner, UC Berkeley professor of architecture, will be the center’s first chair and its chair of graduate programs. Kenneth Bamberger, UC Berkeley professor of law, will co-chair the center and direct the undergraduate program.

The center will emphasize an interdisciplinary agenda through its graduate and undergraduate programs. Currently, about 20 doctoral students in a wide range of departments have research that overlaps with Jewish studies. Many of these students may choose to pursue the newly inaugurated designated emphasis in Jewish studies in addition to their primary doctoral subject.

The center’s 12-member faculty represents 10 departments and schools on campus: comparative literature; Near Eastern Studies; history; sociology; music; German; journalism; architecture; law; and theater, and dance and performance studies. However, undergraduates in any department can choose to minor in Jewish studies.

“By providing support for the undergraduate minor, we hope to attract more students to the many courses related to Jewish studies offered in a variety of departments across the campus. That, in turn, will help us to assess the future potential for an undergraduate major in Jewish studies,” said Bamberger.

Stoner said the campus will attract even more of “the very best students in the country” to its Jewish studies program as the center actively works to highlight its top scholars, cultural resources and events.

The Jewish studies program at UC Berkeley long has been regarded as one of the world’s leading graduate programs in the field, and its Ph.D. students regularly have become faculty members at major universities in the United States and Israel. It also is known for its expertise in the study and teaching of both religious and secular texts, including ancient, Late Antiquity, modern, Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish materials.

The center will serve additionally as an important site for programs and collaborations that engage other departments and units on campus, as well as the Bay Area Jewish community.

According to Breslauer, the campus is dedicated to building a strong foundation for the center that will allow for future expansion of its reach and agenda. “The university’s investment is just the beginning,” he said. “We will be working hard to gain the support necessary to fully realize all of the dreams and aspirations we have for the center.”

At Stanford University, Steven Zipperstein, the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, said the Center for Jewish Studies is a welcome addition to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area.

“UC Berkeley has long enjoyed a reputation as a distinguished center of Jewish learning with among the finest faculty in North America in literature, the Bible, history, the Talmud and other fields,” he said. “News of the creation of a center that will help nurture and deepen the intellectual lives of its students and faculty, and no doubt contribute to the cultural life of the Bay Area as a whole, can only be applauded.”


· Center for Jewish Studies website 

· Q&A with Robert Alter



Obamacare: Sooner or Later, It Will Work. Just Chill.

By Becky O'Malley
Saturday October 19, 2013 - 09:05:00 AM

This morning my esteemed Berkeley neighbor Brad Delong drew my attention to a Wall Street Journal article headlined: Health Website Woes Widen as Insurers Get Wrong Data: New Errors Indicate Technological Problems Extend Issues Already Identified. Because of my reluctance to swell Rupert Murdoch’s coffers, I haven’t bought my way through the WSJ pay wall, and therefore didn’t read any more of the article than the lead sentence Brad quoted on his blog, but the headline was enough to set me off.

The deafening chorus of OMGs being generated by the newsies over problems with the first generation of enrollment software for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) makes me wonder where they’ve been all these years. Sometimes I think business writers in particular should be required to take a real-world internship before they’re allowed to opine on things they just don’t understand. 

(Newsies is not a term of respect. It’s a somewhat contemptuous term of art which is a relic of my pre-journalism career as a political organizer. Not all newsies, however, are bad.) 

I myself benefitted from a lengthy sabbatical between my journalism bookends, when I served as general manager/marketer/house counsel/salesperson/dishwasher for our mom-and-pop software development company. In the course of this drastically understaffed venture (which was an overnight success after only 18 years of hard work) I learned a few useful maxims about technology development. 

First (swiped from IBM): “A demonstration is an opportunity to fail.” No matter how well you might think your stuff is working, something will go wrong when you try to show it off. Undoubtedly the software used to enroll customers in Obamacare worked well enough in the lab, but in the field lots can go wrong, and usually does. 

Second (my own observation)"Anyone who believes a programmer deserves what s/he gets.” Software developers (programmers, engineers, whatever) are working from ideal designs which exist largely in their heads. They sincerely believe that the code they’re writing will match their expectations, and usually, eventually, it will, but the timing can be off by a factor of 5. And sometimes it never works. That’s just reality—get over it. 

Third: “Capitalism is not your friend.” We were so cynical that we never did manage to connect with the venture capital suitors who courted our little company—the result was that when we finally sold it we retained a respectable profit since we had no greedy investors waiting for their cut. Friends in a similar mom-and-pop business who had big-league partners were not so lucky

Those of us who would have preferred a government-run single payer system to the Romneycare clone that became Obamacare are not surprised that the enrollment software which private companies pre-sold to the federal government didn’t work when delivered. 

As the French would say “ C’est normal.” That’s to be expected. 

A couple of case studies from experience: when we first started our company, long about 1980, we bought database software for resale directly from Larry Ellison himself. Didn’t work as delivered—never did work. So? 

Fast forward to 2013. A professor friend who works at San Jose State University reports that software from Ellison’s Oracle Peoplesoft company, which the university now requires her to use, takes 3 or 4 times as long to do simple tasks as the pre-Oracle manual system that she formerly used. And some jobs—room scheduling, for example—she can’t do at all on the computer anymore. She tears her hair every term. 

But Oracle has made Larry a ton of money, hasn’t it? And profit is king in the market-based universe. 

Too much testing cuts into profits. A not-for-profit non-competitive single payer system would work much better, no dispute there. But that’s not the American Way. 

A few of the newsies seem to get it. Or rather, a few publications have allowed some actual information to creep past the uniform chorus of booing. For example, in an op-ed in Bloomberg Businessweek, Paul Ford makes an intelligent case for open source software instead of the ultra-proprietary stuff which was used for the ACA rollout. But then, he’s a techie, not a newsie. A programmer, in fact—which is why, following Rule 2, I don’t believe everything he claims. 

Which brings me to Rule Number 4, one which has acquired a certain amount of currency in the wider world. I learned it in the high tech context as “The best is the enemy of the good.” 

What that meant in our business was that wearing my sales hat I sometimes had to wrest good if not-quite-perfected technology away from the programmers so that we’d have something—anything—to deliver in order to meet payroll. Happens everywhere, all the time. 

That’s why I have more than a little sympathy for President Obama’s current effort to deliver affordable health care to an ungrateful public. On a much grander scale, he too is a CEO/marketer/house counsel/salesperson. (Let’s hope someone else washes the dishes.) And yes, his product doesn’t work perfectly yet, but it’s a lot better than nothing. It’s time to cut him some slack. 

P.S. The reason that this piece was finished hours later than my (self-imposed) deadline is that my Comcast internet service took a five-hour unexplained vacation in the middle of the day. I recently shifted to Comcast because AT&T’s service, both phone and internet, had started failing frequently. 

Oh, and I have a lot of trouble buying theater tickets from some websites, and I think most people do. And they charge me two bucks for the privilege of wasting 10 minutes online with their dysfunctional front end. 

I’ve been using computers since 1969 and I passed the Bar exam on the first try, but I struggled for an hour trying to get a taxpayer I.D. number from an IRS website. When I finally gave up I was advised by my lawyer’s paralegal that the only way to do it successfully is to wait on hold to talk to a human. That took me an hour and a half, but I finally managed to get the number. 

Healthcare.gov may not work quite right yet, but that’s just “industry standard”, isn’t it? There’s a lot of non-functional technology out there, and we’re dependent on it. 







The Editor's Back Fence

Public Comment

Press Censorship

By Tejinder Uberoi
Saturday October 19, 2013 - 09:49:00 AM

The Committee to Protect Journalists has just issued its first report warning President Obama has ushered in a paralyzing climate of fear for both reporters and their government sources. The author, Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, was informed by dozens of journalists that officials are "reluctant to discuss even unclassified information … because they fear that leak investigations and government surveillance make it more difficult for reporters to protect their sources."

Glenn Greenwald, of the London Independent, warned that the Obama administration has declared a war against journalists and seriously undermined the freedom of the press. No longer can we accuse China, Iran and Russia of waging an assault on press freedom; such criticisms only expose us to charges of hypocrisy. 

The President’s defense of this unprecedented crackdown - “for the safety of our troops and intelligence officers” doesn’t hold muster. This is more to do with damage control of government missteps. 

If it wasn’t for the enormous courage of Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers, we may still be embroiled in Vietnam. 

The president promised to have the most transparent government in American history. He promised to make it easier to obtain government information through the Freedom of Information Act. He signed presidential directives about open government his first day in office. These are not being carried out by his administration. He still has time for his legacy to make good on these promises but time is running out.


THE PUBLIC EYE: The New Civil War: Who is to Blame?

By Bob Burnett
Friday October 18, 2013 - 11:04:00 AM

America’s continuing budget and debt-limit crises represent more than misguided political tactics. This is a conflict between two different views of who we are, what’s important, and where the US is headed. It’s a repeat of the ideological clash that resulted in the America’s first Civil War. Who started this fight? 

The first Civil War, fought from 1861 to 1865, began when Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The new Civil War began with the formation of the Tea Party by the Koch brothers and the disruptive 2010 election. The two ideological insurrections have four issues in common. 

Race. The first civil war was fought over slavery, the practice of owning human beings in order to force them to work without wages. This had a racial component, as well as an economic component. By 1860 there were 3.5 million Black slaves in the Confederacy, 39 percent of the population. Slaves were regarded as less than human – in the original US Constitution they were described as “three-fifths” of a person. 

Although slavery was ended in December of 1865, and Blacks have had voter protection since 1965, racism continues. Roughly 37 percent of Southerners are Black or Hispanic. Pollster Stan Greenberg recently conducted Tea Party focus groups and heard stalwarts made racist comments. They hate President Obama. “While few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities.” 

Cheap Labor. The Confederate South fought to preserve a plantation economy dependent upon slave labor. Political writer Michael Lind observed that the current strategy of Southern Republicans is similar, 

[It’s] primarily about cheap and powerless labor… If the South and the U.S. as a whole through some magical transformation became racially homogeneous tomorrow, there is no reason to believe that the Southern business and political class would suddenly embrace a new model of political economy based on high wages, high taxes and centralized government…
Tea Party supporters are primarily Southerners. A recent study by political scientists Stacy Ulbig and Sarah Macha noted, “While less than one in five (19.4%) minority non-Southerners and about 36% of Anglo non-Southerners report supporting the [Tea Party] movement, almost half of white Southerners (47.1%) express support.” 

But wherever they are in the US, the Tea Party attitude is homogenous. Pollster Stan Greenberg observed: 

Tea Party enthusiasts form just over a fifth of the base Republican voters... These are straight ticket, anti-government, pro-business voters… [who] want to return to a time when they believe government was small, people lived largely free of the government, and Americans took responsibility for themselves.
State’s rights. Confederates fought for State sovereignty as does the Tea Party. A Tea Party Congressman proposed a constitutional amendment that would “give states the authority to repeal federal laws and regulations.” There’s sentiment within the Tea Party for states to either secede from the United States or break up into smaller states, where conservative Republicans would be the majority. 

In the South the strategy is to form a nation within a nation. Michael Lind wrote: 

The economic strategy is to maximize the attractiveness of the former Confederacy to external investors, by allowing Southern states to out-compete other states… in a race to the bottom by means of low wages, stingy government welfare… and low levels of environmental regulation. The political strategy… is to prevent the Southern victims of these local economic policies from teaming up with allies in other parts of the U.S. to impose federal-level reforms on the Southern states. Voter suppression seeks to prevent voting by lower-income Southerners of all races who are hostile to the Southern power elite. Partisan gerrymandering of the U.S. House of Representatives by conservatives in Southern state legislatures weakens the votes of anti-conservative Southerners.
Political Power. As rich southerners had a disproportionate political influence prior to the first Civil War, so they have had undue influence in the last 14 years. Southerners founded the Tea Party; a recent study found that “front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party.” (Koch Industries is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, but the family is from Texas.) Michael Lind observed, “The dominant members of the Newest Right are white Southern local notables.” 

The Southern funders of the Tea party started the new civil war. They want the federal government to either go away or, in the words of conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, “shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” They want greatly reduced taxes and government regulation. They want federal programs to either go away or be run by the states. They want to neuter the federal government. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 



DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Letter From Sofia: Old Tanks & Modern Mayhem

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday October 17, 2013 - 08:56:00 PM

Sofia, Bulgaria—The military museum in this sprawling capitol city consists of a tiny building and a huge outdoor display of weapons that look as if they had been wheeled in fresh from the battlefields and parked, higgledy piggledy: mountain howitzers that shelled Turks in 1912 rub hubs with Cold War era Russian artillery. MIGs, dusty and weather beaten, crowd a sinister looking Luna-M “Frog” tactical nuclear missile. Two old enemies, a sleek German Mark IV Panzer and its dumpy, but more lethal adversary, a Russian T-34, squat shoulder to shoulder. 

Poor Bulgaria. The Russians won’t be back, but once again the Germans are headed their way, only this time armed with nothing more than a change of currency and the policies of austerity that go along with it. The devastation those will inflict, however, is likely to be considerable. 

Bulgaria is preparing to jettison its own, the lev, and adopt the Euro, the currency of the European Union (EU), although the country has dragged its heels about actually making the switch. With good reason. Currency control is a practical and commonsense way for countries to deal with interest rates, debt, and inflation, as well as to stimulate economic activity. The U.S. Federal Reserve constantly manipulates the dollar to accomplish these goals. 

But the Euro is controlled by the European Central Bank based in Frankfort, Germany. Because Germany has the biggest economy in the EU, and is at the center of a “core” of wealthy nations that also use the Euro—France, Austria, and the Netherlands—Berlin largely calls the shots. That has translated into a tight-fisted control of the money supply, an aversion to economic stimulation, and years of enforced austerity for countries trying to recover from the 2007 economic crisis sparked by the U.S.. 

The result, according to Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, is that in addition to Mercedes and BMWs, Germany “exports bankruptcy and unemployment.” 

Hardest hit by these policies are the “distressed six”: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus, where draconian austerity policies have created soaring unemployment, devastating social services cutbacks, and widespread misery. 

Led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron—Britain retains its own currency, but has been an enthusiastic supporter of Germany, and has applied austerity to its own economy—the strategy has been an unmitigated disaster. 

While supporters of this “slash and cut” approach to reviving the European economy claim their policies are a success—German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble says the world should “rejoice” at recent economic figures, and British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne crows that critics of the strategy have been proven wrong—figures show a very different picture. 

The overall EU jobless rate is 12 percent, although that figure is misleading because it varies so much by country, region, and cohort. Unemployment is 12 percent in Italy, 13.8 percent in Ireland, 16.5 percent in Portugal, 26.3 percent in Spain, and 27.9 percent in Greece. And even these figures make the jobless rate look sunnier than it is. Unemployment among Greek youth is 60 percent, and areas of southern Spain post numbers in excess of 70 percent. Indeed, an entire generation of young people across the continent is being cut out of the economic pie. 

“It is true that unemployment figures have improved in recent times, but it is equally true that unemployment is at such a high level that any marginal improvement is irrelevant,” an Madrid-based economist for Exane BNP Paribas told the Financial Times. “Many people are no longer actively looking for jobs and long term unemployment already affects more than 50 percent of the total unemployed population.” 

Figures also show that EU growth rates are essentially dead in the water, which means that it will be years before there is any real fall in the jobless rate. EU gross domestic product is 3 percent below pre-crisis levels and those figures go sharply south for the distressed six: down 7.5 percent for Spain, 7.6 percent for Portugal, 8.4 percent for Ireland, 8.8 percent for Italy, and 23.4 percent for Greece. 

It is true that growth in Britain is up 2.2 percent, but that figure is over three years and remains 3.3 percent below pre-crisis levels. Moreover, the Office of Budget Responsibility projected back in 2010 that the economy would expand by 8.2 percent by 2013. Economists Oscar Jorda and Alan Taylor of the University of California at Davis estimate that austerity probably knocked about 3 percent off of the British growth rate. 

The EU is turning into a house divided. A wealthy core that keep their economies on an even keel and unemployment rates relatively low—Austria and Germany have the lowest jobless rates in the EU at 5.2 and 5.3 percent, respectively—while the south and the periphery turn into low wage, high unemployment labor reservoirs. If “core” workers grumble at stagnant wages and reduced benefits, there are always Spaniards, Italians, Greeks and Portuguese willing to take their places.  

What the distressed countries really need is a serious stimulus program to jump-start their economies by putting people back to work. But that is not something they are likely to get, especially given the outcome of the recent German elections, where Merkel’s Christian Democrats and her allies in the Bavarian Christian Social Union retained power. Merkel told a rally in Berlin, “Our European course will not change,” 

and the Greek newspaper Ta Nea glumly called it a victory for the “Queen of austerity.” 

In reality, the German election was less a vote for more austerity than a reflection of domestic concerns about stability. And, in any case, Merkel’s opponents actually won the election. Merkel and her allies control 311 seats in the Parliament, but the Greens, Social Democratic Party and Left Party won 329 seats. While the Greens and Social Democrats have acquiesced to some austerity policies, they are not as hard line as Merkel. If the Greens and the SDP could overcome their hostility to the Left Party—which took 64 seats, one more than the Greens—the center-left could form a government that could potentially alter the economic chemistry of the EU. 

In the meantime, Bulgaria awaits its fate with an odd combination of clear sightedness and illusion. 

Surveys show that most people think the Euro will cut their living standards and have a negative impact on the economy. Bulgaria is already in difficult straits, partly because when it joined the EU it lost its biggest customer, Russia, partly because it is small, and partly because it still suffers from a post-communist hangover. It is the poorest country in the EU. 

Like many former communist bloc countries, when Bulgaria broke loose from the domination of Soviet Union in 1990, it went on a privatization tear that ended up largely gutting its industrial and agricultural base. It is now trying to claw back by reviving agriculture and building up the tourist industry. 

But tourism is volatile, and Bulgaria appears to have over expanded, much as Spain did. The Black Sea coast south of Burgas is lined with high rises and gated communities, but many of them are dark when the sun goes down. There is a distinct feel of a real estate bubble. 

The illusion is that Bulgarians support EU membership because they think it means the Union will bail them out of any future trouble, as it did Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. In fact, the Union did not bail out any of those countries; it rescued failed banks and financial institutions that had recklessly gambled away their assets on real estate speculations. These “loans” also required huge cutbacks in social services and massive layoffs of public workers. 

When the bubble popped, it was taxpayers in those countries who ended up picking up the bill, including those incurred by “core” French, German, Dutch, Austrian and British banks

In the coming war over “stimulus vs austerity” Bulgaria is unlikely to play a pivotal role, though conquerors have underestimated her in the past. The question is, will the country resign itself to second tier status in the EU, or will Bulgarians join with increasing numbers of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese who are saying “enough”? 

A good start toward turning things around would be to take up a call by Greece’s Syriza Party for a European debt summit similar to the 1953 London Debt Agreement, That pact allowed Germany to recover from World War II by cutting its debt by 50 percent and spreading payments out over 30 years. 

The Mark IVs Panzers are museum pieces. These days the power to wreak destruction doesn’t depend on commanding armored divisions. All one needs to overrun Europe now are currency control, banks and obsequious politicians. 

Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog. wordpress.com and middleempireseries. wordpress.com 



ON MENTAL ILLNESS: A Few Ramblings on Paranoia

By Jack Bragen
Thursday October 17, 2013 - 09:02:00 PM

My wife quoted a nurse she had met at an inpatient ward. Many years ago the nurse told her that if there is a pill that helps you feel better, you should take it and you should not try to be a martyr. 

Trying to "tough it out" through a psychotic episode is pure folly. A bad therapist once suggested that I attempt to "ride out a psychotic episode and get to the other side." If you try to get to "the other side" of psychosis, you will probably find worse psychosis. In the absence of treatment, a schizophrenic episode is a bottomless pit of suffering. 

(This therapist, after I went off medication and became ill, denied ever suggesting I go off medication.) 

Paranoid psychosis entails incorrectly believing everyone is your enemy. In actuality, for other people it is all about them--they are not primarily concerned with making you miserable or doing harm to you. For the vast majority of human beings, the center of the drama is them--other people are merely supporting actors. 

If you experience a fully-blown episode of psychosis, recovering and returning to a "normal" state of tracking reality can be quite a relief. 

When not in treatment, it can be impossible for a person with mental illness to deal with real-life problems. Without a sane mind, you've got nothing. 

Psychosis can be brought on by lack of sleep, by an absurdly stressful situation, by drugs, or by having a mental illness. When someone experiences psychosis, doctors ought not to jump to conclusions that the patient is automatically schizophrenic. When I was diagnosed, people treating me had to eliminate other causes of psychosis before concluding that I have schizophrenia. 

If someone disagrees with their diagnosis, they may be better off getting a second opinion from another doctor, preferably a bona fide psychiatrist, before deciding to be noncompliant with treatment. 

I once had a psychiatrist who thought it was okay for me to go off medication. This doctor, as it turned out, was giving me a wrong turn. Also, she apparently resigned or retired while I was in the inpatient ward. I had better doctors before and after that. 

A psychiatrist has some duties that resemble being a cop. For one thing, they are mandated to report a genuine threat. Secondly, a psychiatrist works with authorities in cases of involuntary treatment. A psychiatrist has certain legal powers. This means that while a patient might disagree with a psychiatrist, one should heed what they say, and should give them some amount of respect. It is also important that you don't lie to a psychiatrist--they don't like that too much. 

The psychiatrist with whom I have been working for about the past six years is very much a helper and mentor. I am not dealing with a malevolent authority bent on controlling and ruining my life. In fact, he is quite helpful. 

This is not to deny that some psychiatrists are unpleasant. I have met a few psychiatrists like that. It is important to distinguish between the unfairness of some mental health treatment practitioners including psychiatrists, versus the likely correctness of at least part of their message. Psychiatric illnesses are actual brain conditions that require treatment. The fact of being treated badly in the "system" doesn't change this. 

When people feel abused by treatment professionals, it sometimes leads to rejecting the idea of having an illness. The impulse to be noncompliant can thus be fueled. This only perpetuates the person's problems. 

Prescription drugs are believed by many people to be awful and unhealthy. In fact, the side effects of many of them are unpleasant, distressing and can be a threat to one's health. However, until a better solution comes up that can keep me from being hospitalized in a psych ward and keep me functioning in society, I'm taking medication. 

* * * My self-help book: "Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia, a Self-Help Manual" is available on Amazon. If you have comments, I can be reached at: bragenkjack@yahoo.com.

SENIOR POWER: Senior Sexuality.

By Helen Rippier Wheeler, pen136@dslextreme.com
Saturday October 19, 2013 - 09:31:00 AM

“Of all the passions, the old man should avoid a foolish passion for women.”

Dr. John Hill (1716-1775)

According to The Old Man’s Guide to Health and Longer Life in 1764 England, Dr. Hill decreed that to marry was everyone’s duty except for the aged. Note that Samuel Johnson considered Hill "an ingenious man, but had no veracity."

There is still a certain amount of taboo attached to sex among older people. Another doctor, this one contemporary, when asked whether it is possible to maintain a sexual life responded with chapter 13 “Maintain your sexual life” in his new book, Winning Strategies for Successful Aging. Sex retards aging, if for no other reason than that it is also good exercise. Seventy-eight year old Eric Pfeiffer, M.D. writes that men continue to be interested in sex into their 70s. (Men, that is!). Sex in the nursing home? Yes… sez he, you are still a sexual being at any age. But he also provides “a cautionary note” regarding sexually transmitted diseases.  

In Australia, "Seniors [are] not retiring from bedroom." (Sydney Morning Herald, February 25, 2013). Ita Buttrose, Australian of the Year and ambassador for NSW Seniors Week, says it may come as a shock to Generation Y that their grandparents still enjoy an active sex life. 

In 1995, The Home (Riverdale, New York) introduced a senior sexuality policy is considered the first of its kind. It states that residents “have the right to seek out and engage in sexual expression,” including “words, gestures, movements or activities which appear motivated by the desire for sexual gratification.” "Sex in Geriatrics Sets Hebrew Home Apart in Elderly Care," (Bloomberg, July 23, 2013). 

"Nursing Home Encourages Residents to Have Sex" was the topic discussed on U.S. National Public Radio Here and Now on August 1, 2013. In addition to the story, there is an audio transcript (running time: 16 minutes, 6 seconds) available at the site. 

The Hallandale Beach senior center audience sits in rapt silence while Kate GeMeiner holds up what, from the back of the room, appears to be a see-through balloon. It isn’t. The 83-year old former hospice chaplain, PTA president, and great-grandmother -- aka the Condom Lady and Dr. Truth -- tells it like it is. Audience members are retired, ailing from myriad chronic medical conditions, and considered to be impervious to certain natural urges. But in the age of Viagra, GeMeiner wants to make sure they’re practicing safe sex. She has been preaching her version of the gospel to this unlikely audience for about two decades, taking her show, complete with foil-wrapped condoms, to senior centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, health fairs. Reporter Ana Veciana-Suarez’s email address (aveciana@MiamiHerald.com) accompanies her August 12, 2013 Miami Herald "Sex & the senior citizen: teaching about condoms to the Social Security crowd." 

On a more serious note, the American Association for the Advancement of Science reports research that confirms sexual function in older adults with thoracolumbar-pelvic instrumentation has been found possible. The importance of this study lies in the positive message it has for older patients with extensive thoracolumbar–pelvic instrumentation. The AAAS also reports that treatment helps sex stage a comeback after menopause. The results of the CLOSER survey -- Clarifying Vaginal Atrophy’s Impact on Sex and Relationships -- emotional and physical impact of vaginal discomfort on North American postmenopausal women and their partners, will be published in the February 2014 print edition of Menopause.  



California has become the latest state to move towards tightening oversight of home health agencies that provide custodial care. On October 13, 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act of 2013. If and when it is in place, it will require agencies to 

  • conduct background checks on workers,
  • provide 5 hours of training,
  • list aides in an online registry, and
  • obtain a license certifying their compliance with basic standards.
Unfortunately, he asked for a delay in putting the legislation in place until January 2016. 

The move to tighten industry regulations in California was spurred in part by an April 2011 study documenting the abuse and neglect of older adults by caregivers, including some with criminal records, who had not been screened by agencies. Home health agencies opposed the bill’s training and background check requirements. He vetoed a similar bill last year; this year’s version dropped a requirement that aides hired from referral agencies or directly by seniors get background checks and be listed in the online registry. Critics have long argued that the home care industry has been too lightly regulated. According to a new study in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, only 15 states require training for home care workers or on-site supervision of their activities.  

Elder abuse is usually defined as the physical or psychological mistreatment of a senior. Elder abuse crimes are usually considered to fall into 4 main categories, including sexual assaults: 

Physical abuse, including assaults, batteries, sexual assaults, false imprisonment and endangerment; Physical neglect by a caregiver, including withholding medical services or hygiene that exposes the elderly person to the risk of serious harm; Psychological (mental) abuse, including making threats or the infliction of emotional harm; and Financial abuse, including theft of personal items such as cash, investments, real property and jewelry. 

On Thursday, November 7, 2013, the Alameda County Library Older Adult Services will present a free program on preventing elder abuse. Speakers from Alameda County's Adult Protective Services will discuss types of abuse that are investigated, how to make a report, and how to avoid becoming a victim of abuse. Remember: elder abuse includes sexual abuse. No reservations are required for this free program at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. (510)526-3720. 1:30-2:45 P.M. This Library has a free parking lot. The program will be repeated throughout the Library system; for locations and dates, call (510) 745-1491. 














Arts & Events

Barbara’s Living Room – A Staged Reading in Memory of Barbara Oliver, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley

Saturday October 19, 2013 - 11:54:00 AM

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Berkeley will present a staged reading of Barbara’s Living Room – A Celebration in Eight Scenes and One Poem in remembrance of Barbara Oliver, on Sunday October 27th at 4:00 p.m., in the church’s upstairs Parish Hall at 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. Attendance is free and a festive reception will follow. The performance will serve as a benefit for St. Mark’s new sound system, a passionate cause of Barbara’s. Donations will be accepted.  

Barbara Oliver co-founded the Aurora Theatre Company of Berkeley in 1992 and was a well-known member of the Bay Area theater community. She was a member of St. Mark’s and passionate believer in the power of the spoken word. She founded a Spoken Word committee at St. Mark’s in 2006, which has since performed several plays, staged readings, and poetry readings, as well as trained lectors in giving scripture readings during services. 

The Spoken Word committee at St. Mark’s will perform this staged reading to honor her memory and leadership. The script and art design for the reading were created by Charles Shaw Robinson, a member of the committee and a well-known professional actor in the Bay Are theater scene. The work includes scenes from some of Barbara’s favorite plays, both those she performed in and directed over the course of her theater career. 

Questions should be directed to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Berkeley, at (510) 848-5107, or office@stmarksberkeley.org.l