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New: Family Hopes 15th Anniversary of Death of Man Killed in Berkeley Will Bring New Leads

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday December 16, 2013 - 11:08:00 PM

The brother of a San Lorenzo man who was deliberately run over by a suspect outside the family's business in Berkeley said today that he hopes the 15th anniversary of the crime will generate new leads in the unsolved case. 

Richard DeVecchi, 37, was struck by a car at about 7:15 a.m. on Dec. 17, 1998, in front of Berkeley Warehouse, Inc., a trucking and warehousing company located at 1920 Second St., about a block north of University Avenue. 

His brother, Randy DeVecchi, said, "Another year has gone by and there's another nothing" in unearthing information that will help police arrest the man who killed his brother. 

DeVecchi said, "Someone, somewhere, knows something about this crime and we need them to come forward and give us some peace." 

He added, "Police can only go off of the help they're getting because this is a cold case." 

DeVecchi said the day his brother, Richard, was killed, he went outside on Second Street after a fellow employee told him that there was a prowler near the bed of his pickup truck. 

After he exited the business, Richard was struck by an early 1980s white or tan Cadillac with a dark vinyl roof. The car then sped west on Hearst Avenue and then north to Interstate Highway 80. The license plate contained the letters "CUS," with blue characters on a white plate, according to Berkeley police. 

Randy DeVecchi said four witnesses who saw his brother get hit said the suspect had been driving slowly but then accelerated, hit Richard DeVecchi and kept going.  

DeVecchi said his brother was kept alive on a ventilator for several days but was declared brain dead on Dec. 21, 1998. The next day, his organs and tissues were donated. 

Richard DeVecchi is survived by his wife and two stepchildren. Randy DeVecchi said it's "baffling" that the driver and the car haven't been seen since the incident. 

He said, "Someone knows about that car and we need that someone to give us the help we need to close this case." 

The DeVecchi family is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver. Police describe him as a black male about 5 feet 11 inches tall and 185 pounds, with short black hair. 

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Berkeley Police Department's homicide division at (510) 981-5741.

UC Berkeley Gill Tract Development Approved by Albany Planning Commission

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:04:00 PM

A commercial development plan by the University of California at Berkeley that calls for a senior housing complex and a grocery store on a plot of land it owns in Albany has cleared a major hurdle.

The Albany Planning Commission voted 4-0 Wednesday night to approve the university's plan to have 175 units of senior housing, a Sprout's Farmers Market and two other retailers on 6.3 acres at San Pablo Avenue and Monroe Street, near the University Village student housing complex.

The site is also near the Gill Tract, another plot of university-owned land that's used by students and faculty of its College of Natural Resources for agricultural research.

The Gill Tract has been the site of protests the past two years by Occupy the Farm activists who say the tract should be used for sustainable community farming.

UC Berkeley officials say the parcel of land they plan to develop hasn't been farmed since World War II.

The university's plan has been in the works for six years and has been the subject of numerous hearings.  

City of Albany spokeswoman Nicole Almaguer said the Planning Commission's approval is the last step in the lengthy process but project opponents have 14 days to appeal the decision. 

Project opponents couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

New: Christmas Bird Count in Berkeley on Sunday

By Bay City News
Saturday December 14, 2013 - 03:34:00 PM

Bay Area birders will soon be stumbling in the dark to count owls, tromping through cemeteries and parks to tally songbirds and raptors and chartering boats and paddling kayaks to count water birds as part of the 114th Christmas Bird Count.  

The Golden Gate Audubon Society is organizing two counts that will involve more than 300 people. The first one is planned for Sunday in Oakland and Berkeley. The second one will be in San Francisco on Dec. 27.  

Hundreds of other birders will take part in counts elsewhere in the Bay Area that are organized by other chapters.  

Birders fan out within a 15-mile circle to count every species as well as individual birds within a 24-hour period.  

Results of the count, which has been sponsored yearly since 1900 by the National Audubon Society, provide data to help scientists track bird population trends.

Gertrude Hoodoff Khuner

Saturday December 14, 2013 - 03:27:00 PM

Gertrude Khuner—teacher, dancer, and matriarch—died peacefully in her sleep in her Berkeley home at age 100 on December 9, 2013. Throughout her century of life, she brought joy and inspiration to many generations of family, friends, students, and community. Gertrude leaves her brother, Harvey Hoodoff of New York; four children Margo Leslie, Kathy Khuner, Jonathan Khuner, and Eliot Khuner, all of Berkeley; their spouses Theda, Jillian, and Anne; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. 

Gertrude was born Gertrude Henrietta Hoodoff in New York City in 1913 to a large family of Russian Jewish immigrants, and grew up in Rockaway Beach. She attended New York University and Columbia University, and studied modern dance with Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, and Doris Humphrey. In 1941, her love of music, especially opera and chamber concerts, brought her into contact with Viennese violinist Felix Khuner. They were married in California in 1942, and celebrated 49 years of marriage until Felix died in 1991. 

Gertrude was a devoted teacher in Bay Area public schools and senior centers for many decades, helping many find joy in physical education and folk dancing, square dancing, and country line dancing. Her interests were wide-ranging – she played classical piano most of her life, loved all manner of cooking and baking, and was a devoted mother, working tirelessly to provide her children with a secure and stimulating home environment. She participated avidly in their education, enrolling them in co-operative schools and becoming a leader in school organizations, activities she continued with her grandchildren. 

Gertrude pursued her passion for knowledge, culture and self-improvement throughout her life. Her two-year degree program in Natural History enabled her to become an outstanding docent at the Oakland Museum. In 1968, she wrote and published “The College Cookbook, or After Hamburgers, What?” with Ruth Horowitz. In her late 50’s, Gertrude earned a Master’s degree in special education from San Francisco State University, then created a unique developmental program for elementary school children combining movement and music, which she taught in the Oakland and Berkeley public schools for over 25 years to the great acclaim of teachers, principals, and students. She also volunteered with community organizations including Berkeley Women’s Health Collective and Planned Parenthood. For eight decades, Gertrude maintained a rigorous regimen of daily exercise, including swimming and long walks in the Berkeley hills. She stopped swimming in her 80’s, but continued to teach dancing until the age of 99. 

Gertrude always welcomed acquaintances and new friends into her home, carrying on lively discussions of all issues, especially dance, literature, psychology, and politics. She was accepting of everybody and never had an unkind word to say about anyone. She deeply enjoyed reading, from Dostoevsky to Henry James, and often attended courses in literature. 

Although not religiously inclined, Gertrude identified strongly as a member of the Jewish community, and encouraged her family’s cultural identity through a long-term relationship with Temple Beth-El in Berkeley, including teaching Sunday School and playing the organ. 

Gertrude’s keen intelligence, and propensity for joy made her an innovator and leader in every group she joined. This, combined with a unique sense of humor, intuition, and a certain humility, enabled a constant drive toward understanding those around her. On her 100th birthday, she told her family that when she passed, they should celebrate her century of life, not mourn her death. Still, she will be dearly missed by all who knew her. 

A memorial will be held at the Hillside Club in Berkeley on January 3rd. At www.forevermissed.com/gertrude you can read more about Gertrude's life and memorial.



Swarthmore Students Lead the Way

By Becky O'Malley
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:15:00 PM

The death of Nelson Mandela prompted many reminiscences about what people around the world did to support the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. On college campuses, students organized to persuade their institutions to withdraw the investments of their endowments from companies and financial agencies doing business in or with South Africa.  

My two older daughters, Berkeley-raised as they were, supported the actions on their own campuses while they were in college. At the eldest’s outdoor Barnard-Columbia graduation in 1985 (Marion Wright Edelman was the speaker) most of the graduates in their caps and gowns stood up in the middle of the ceremony and marched off the field to symbolize their commitment to divestment, which began at Columbia that same year. The second, at Swarthmore in the class of 1986, participated in a variety of actions which ultimately resulted in that college’s plan for complete divestment in 1989.  

The enormous turnout of world leaders at Mandela’s funeral, with assorted peaceable gestures by President Obama, among others, was testimony to the idea that occasionally humans can agree on what it means to do good, albeit in some cases after the fact. Obama , who was on the Columbia campus at roughly the same time as my daughter and son-in-law, remembered his own participation in the divestment movement as his entrée to political achievement. 

And the kids are still at it, showing older but not wiser folks how to do what needs to be done. I’ve been very cheered by a report from Swarthmore (where my first grandchild started this fall) that the campus organization of Jewish students, Hillel, has resolved to open its lecture platform to all points of view regarding the situation in Israel/Palestine.  

The students’ statement, as quoted in the Jewish Daily Forward, was that “All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist.” 

[Read more: http://forward.com/articles/189013/swarthmore-hillel-defies-headquarters-on-boycott-i/#ixzz2nOHhgiMI

By establishing this policy, the Swarthmore students are defying the policy of the parent Hillel organization as reported in the Forward: “Hillel International’s Guidelines for Campus Israel Activities reject partnerships with groups or hosting speakers who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; delegitimize, demonize or apply double standards to Israel; support boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel; or foster an atmosphere of incivility.” 

[Read more: http://forward.com/articles/189044/hillel-issues-warning-to-swarthmore-chapter-about/#ixzz2nOIpdXjl

It’s obvious that the leaders of Hillel international are concerned that the tools employed so successfully by Nelson Mandela and his supporters in South Africa will be employed again in an attempt to persuade the Jewish state to change course in the way it deals with the Palestinians. That’s why they don’t want students to hear from those who “support boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts against Israel.” 

Whatever you might think about the policies of those who now run Israel, it can’t hurt and might help to promote civil dialogue among those with all points of view. The great (and Jewish) Justice Louis Brandeis noted that “it is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.” (Whitney v. California 271 U.S. 357 [1927])  

If you don’t like what you hear, in the same opinion he said : “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” 

Hillel International would do well to study the writings of Justice Brandeis as a guide to what their policies should be. And while they’re at it, they might review the words of another great Jewish thinker, the prophet Isaiah: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (King James Bible translation) 

The Swarthmore students who are setting an example for their elders might bridle at being called little children, but they’re certainly trying to lead the way to what everyone, especially adherents of the three great desert religions, claims to want: peace in the Holy Land. Led by our young people, let’s all keep talking about how we can get there. 





The Editor's Back Fence


Odd Bodkins: The Union Square Massacre. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday December 13, 2013 - 08:01:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

Honor the Hero

By Bruce Joffe
Friday December 20, 2013 - 06:23:00 PM

Although enforcement of his decision is pending appeal, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon's order that the NSA stop collecting "bulk telephony data" on Americans' phone calls indicates that we can be a nation ruled by law, rather than by personal dictates, as is North Korea. There, a man-child can have anyone executed, and all are afraid to protest. Here, citizens can take their grievance that a government spy agency violated our privacy rights to court, and justice can prevail.  

Amassing information about everyone's communication, all the time, through telephone, internet, and email creates a vast potential for corruption, intimidation and general mischief from even the most stalwart of government stewards. If you need an example, consider three words: J. Edgar Hoover. He collected files on everyone in Washington, and nearly everyone was afraid of what he could reveal. NSA's files are ever so much larger, and its ability to mine databases, more powerful. Responsible oversight has failed; the FISA court does not protect us. 

How were challengers, Larry Klayman and Charles Strange, able to verify NSA's abuses? Until recently, all claims of uncontrolled spying were denied. But one brave whistleblower, Edward Snowden, revealed NSA malpractice. And how has Mr. Snowden been thanked for his courage? Our government indicted him for treason when he should be honored as a national hero. Without courageous individuals, our nation of law could fall victim to man-child dictators.

U.S. On the Wrong Side in South Africa For Too Long

By Chuck Mann
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:42:00 PM

I remember when South Africa was called the only democracy in Africa. Unfortunately that was when the racist apartheid regime ruled South Africa. The white minority had all of the political power, and the black majority had what little rights the racist government would give them. The South African government was the opposite of a democracy. 

I think that it is a shame that the U.S. government supported the white minority regime until the very end. Conservatives, like Ronald Reagan, thought that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. Liberals, and people like myself, considered Nelson Mandela to be a freedom fighter. 

Imagine if ''our'' government had always supported equality and democracy, and opposed racism. The U.S. government would have been on the right side of history. Even today the federal government appeases and collaborates with dictators, monarchs, and tyrants. What a shame.

Syria Intelligence Selective

By Jagjit Singh
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:31:00 PM

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, the Obama administration appears to have “cherry-picked” intelligence to justify its original planned attack on Syria. It failed to disclose that it was well aware that radical Islamic groups - Syrian forces al-Nusra Front and AQI, al-Qaeda of Iraq had significant quantities of sarin and the know-how to produce other lethal chemical agents. Hersh asserts that the administration clearly had this knowledge and deliberately misled the public by asserting through their official spokesman, press secretary, James Carney that only the Assad regime had stockpiles of chemical weapons and that an attack was, therefore, justified. 

Fortunately, the attack did not happen but it does create an uncomfortable feeling that President Obama, like his predecessor, President Bush can distort facts and misled the public in pursuit of a policy agenda – much like the false claims of weapons of mass destruction which resulted in the Iraq war debacle.

Ring the Bell of Justice Loudly

By Romila Khanna
Saturday December 14, 2013 - 03:32:00 PM

How is it that whatever laws lawmakers pass they themselves never get hurt in the process? Laws that make it harder for poor people to get by or get health care or get education pass easily. Laws that remove subsidies from corporations never pass. Don't we want to offer our poor people a chance to climb up the ladder? Why would lawmakers reduce unemployment benefits at a time of recession?  

Can a country be called the land of opportunity if only rich citizens of that country remain happy, healthy and safe? Can we balance our budget by avoiding our moral responsibility towards the weakest in this nation? In a democratic society the government is supposed to represent all citizens, not just the rich. Ring the bell of justice loudly so our lawmakers can hear.

December Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday December 13, 2013 - 07:55:00 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.  

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 


New: ECLECTIC RANT:Protect Yourself from Scams This Holiday Season

By Ralph E. Stone
Monday December 16, 2013 - 08:02:00 AM

As a former Federal Trade Commission attorney and currently a volunteer for Consumer Action and Seven On Your Side, the consumer hotline for ABC-TV Channel 7, I have heard a wide range of scams that separated unsuspecting consumers from their money, especially during the holiday season. Below are a number of scams consumers should be aware of and things consumers can do to protect themselves. 

First, as a general rule never, ever give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information to anyone you are unfamiliar with. Many scammers attempt to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details from unsuspecting consumers. This is called phishing.  

The holiday spirit includes for many donating to charities. Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving patriotism and current events. Don't provide any credit card or bank account information until you have reviewed all information from the charity and made the decision to donate. Beware of a charity that won’t provide information in writing such as its mission, where the money goes, and what percentage of the money goes to charitable work as opposed to administrative costs. In California, the attorney general's office keeps a registry of charitable trusts.  

Save every receipt. Keep copies of the refund and return policies, your order number, shipping costs and warranties. Remember merchants have different refund and return policies for sales and clearance items. 

Beware of "Buy One, Get One Free" or "free trial" pitches on websites. Read the websites "terms and conditions" before giving up your credit or debit card number as you may find $29, $39 or more in charges on your monthly credit card statement.  

When shopping online with an unfamiliar company check out the company with the Better Business Bureau and type in "complaints against XYZ company" in a search engine. For example, a consumer should be wary of a business with an "F" rating. Beware of company websites that don't list an address. 

Be careful of postcards about "undeliverable" packages. It could be a scam to get you to make an expensive long-distance call or reveal personal information. You may end up paying high long-distance charges that will partially go to the scammers. When in doubt, call the courier's phone number, not the one on the postcard. 

I am always surprised as to the number of people who do not check their monthly credit and debit card statements and finally discover unauthorized charges going back months or even years. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), consumers can dispute unauthorized charges within 60 days of notification of the unauthorized charge. Unauthorized charges longer than 60 days cannot be disputed with your credit and debit card issuers. The FCBA is enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Do you receive multiple calls trying to sell you a product or service and the calls keep coming. To prevent such calls in the future, make sure your telephone number(s) are on the federal do not call registry. Most telemarketers should not call your number(s) once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint on the website. Unfortunately, the Registry does not limit calls by political organizations, charities, or telephone surveyors. 

The holiday season brings unwanted commercial mail. The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a "delete" file and made available to direct-mail marketers and organizations. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA's Mail Preference Service.  

The DMA also has an Email Preference Service (eMPS) to help you reduce unsolicited commercial emails. Registration is free and good for six years. 

It is also advisable to check your credit reports and dispute any credit report errors, pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is also enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit reports annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. 

Remember, consumer protection begins with an alert, careful consumer. Happy holidays. 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Boycott the Winter Olympics

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:10:00 PM

Beginning February 7th, the Winter Olympic Games will be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. Over the course of 16 days, 98 events will be held. In most circumstances our focus would be on high-level competition and international camaraderie. But we cannot ignore the deplorable Russian human-rights environment. That’s why Americans should boycott the 22nd Winter Olympics. 

Since the end of World War II, the Winter Olympics have been held without incident in relatively neutral sites. However in 1980, because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the US led a boycott of the Summer Olympics Games held in Moscow. 

The most apt comparison to the pending Olympic games is the 1936 Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. At the time, Adolf Hitler ruled Germany and had instigated systematic persecution of Jews, gays, gypsies, the mentally and physically disadvantaged, as well as political and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah’s witnesses). Hitler became German Chancellor in January of 1933 and two months later, the Dachau concentration camp opened. In September of 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of German citizenship and most civil rights. Nonetheless, the American Olympic committee maintained that German Jewish athletes were being treated fairly, even though German Jews were not permitted to participate in the games, and there was no American boycott. 

1936 was a missed opportunity for Americans to protest the human-rights abuses of the German Nazis. Now we have a similar opportunity because of the deplorable conduct of the Russian government. 

In June, Russian President Putin signed a law criminalizing gay “behavior” and propaganda. Nonetheless, the Russian government has assured Olympic officials that no member of the LGBT community will be discriminated against at Sochi. Even though the Russians have threatened dire consequences for advocating or demonstrating homosexuality. 

Many prominent Americans are speaking out against Russian LGBT discrimination. But just as Nazi Germany’s systematic persecution extended beyond Jews to those regarded as second-class citizens, so Russian discrimination extends beyond the LGBT community to a wide variety of other groups. 

Earlier this year, human rights’ advocates forced a United Nations hearing on Russian racial discrimination. “Roma, migrants from Central Asia and people from the Caucasus region suffer from both social stigma and state discrimination.” 

The report submitted to the Committee gives extensive evidence on the specific targeting of visual groups and minorities by Russian police. Ethnic profiling persists and people from the Caucasus and Central Asia are particularly targeted. Racially motivated abuse towards students from Africa, Russian citizens, and refugees is commonly perpetrated by private individuals and groups and is also a frequent occurrence in police detention and in the prison system.
The Russian government does little to curtail the activities of racially motivated gangs. Racial taunting is one of the persistent features of fan behavior at international soccer games played in Russia. 


Human Rights Watch reports that the construction of the Winter Olympics’ facilities in Sochi have caused a variety of human-rights problems: “The Russian government is resettling some 2,000 families to make way for Olympic venues and infrastructure. But not all of those evicted received fair compensation for their properties and in some cases, homeowners were forced out with no compensation at all.” Tens of thousands of migrant construction workers have been exploited, “with employers failing to pay their wages, confiscating workers’ passports, and forcing them to toil up to 12 hours a day with only one day off each month.” 

Recently, a Russian commentator noted a new wave of anti-Semitism: 

Since President Vladimir Putin first came to power, Russia has become a field where the threatening weeds of xenophobia and nationalism grow rampant. In Moscow, thousands have marched in nationalist demonstrations and taken part in riots. Crimes motivated by nationalism are so common that they are barely worth mentioning on the local crime news.

The parallels between contemporary Russia and 1936 Germany are disturbing. Since his recent election, Prime Minister Putin has suppressed political opposition on all fronts

In 1980, America boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics by refusing to allow our team to participate. In 2014 the most appropriate strategy would be an economic boycott – considering that the Sochi Winter Olympics are said to be the most expensive ever. Americans should refuse to travel to Sochi or to watch the games on television. 

In 2011 NBC/Comcast bought the TV rights to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics for $1 billion. So far NBC/Comcast has sold $800 million in advertising rights for the February games. Prime Sponsors include AT&T, Coca-Cola, Dow, General Electric, General Motors, Liberty Mutual, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung, Smuckers, and Visa. 

There’s ample opportunity to go online and sign petitions urging NBC and the games’ sponsors to condemn the Russian human rights abuses; for example https://www.change.org/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws And https://www.facebook.com/Boycott2014WinterOlympicGamesInRussia?ref=br_tf 

In 1936 Americans missed the chance to condemn horrific abuses by the Germans. That’s why it’s important to protest similar behavior by the Russians. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Jack Bragen
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:06:00 PM

Post-traumatic stress is its own category of mental illness which doesn't have a genetic cause. Human beings were designed as sensitive and vulnerable organisms--we are easily damaged, and that includes psychological damage.  

Human beings are not the superheroes (capable of sustaining all kinds of punishment or able to do superhuman things) that are portrayed in the video games that brainwash young people. We experience real pain when we are hurt, and when we are damaged, it takes a very long time to recover, if we ever do.  

Because governmental leaders are committing the US to apparently endless wars, soldiers who have made a brave sacrifice in fighting for this country have, at a higher rate than in the past, become victims of PTSD.  

In the Iraq war, it became government policy to prescribe a variety of psychiatric drugs as well as painkillers to troops. It is quite an instance of hypocrisy--our government is supposedly waging war on drugs while at the same time is doping up American soldiers to keep them performing.  

Troops (another word for human beings wearing a uniform) have been traumatized partly because of the inhuman acts of violence they have been made to do by our government. Suicide is a leading cause of death among persons who have fought in Iraq.  

Unlike in other major conflicts, there has been no draft to increase troop numbers in the "war on terror." Thus, people have been made to do three, four and five tours of duty in a row. This has pushed a lot of people past the breaking point. There are an estimated thirty percent of Iraq veterans who now suffer from war-induced mental illness.  

A foot soldier isn't responsible for the atrocities of war. Often, they are put in that position by politicians. Some soldiers are still participating to avoid negative consequences such as a less then honorable discharge--which is something that could haunt them for life.  

Many people who suffer from PTSD have never fought in a war. There is my own post traumatic stress which comes from rough treatment from other kids in the public school system, from abusive treatment I have received in the mental health treatment system, and from being otherwise victimized. And this includes being threatened at gunpoint, being otherwise threatened, and being forced into some altercations.  

On top of post-traumatic stress that I experience due to events far in my past, I experience a constant, low-level state of crisis due to difficult events that have occurred in the past ten years of my life. Some of my PTSD is nobody's fault--caused by random unfortunate events. 

This disorder, for many people, prevents enjoyment of "the now" and causes a person to dreadfully anticipate the next series of problems, or to fear that the traumatic event will happen again.  

People can get PTSD from being abused or otherwise traumatized as children. People can get it through marrying an abusive spouse. People forced to grow up in a rough neighborhood are likely to have PTSD, and some have learned to mimic the violent behavior of others as a means of adapting.  

Human beings are vulnerable creatures and we weren't designed to be treated roughly. Yes, our species has a long history of violence, war and of oppressing and being oppressed. However, just because violence and oppression have happened a lot in history, that does not make any of it good for us. 

The self-perpetuating cycle of violence and abuse is a sickness, and must be resolved if we are to survive as a species.

Arts & Events

THEATER REVIEW: An Amazing Performance in INDRA’S NET “QED” at Berkeley City Club

By John A. McMullen II (Eye from the Aisle)
Friday December 13, 2013 - 03:27:00 PM
Kendra Oberhauser and Jeff Garrett
Jennifer Taylor
Kendra Oberhauser and Jeff Garrett

INDRA’S NET THEATER “QED” by Peter Parnell at Berkeley City Club has reasonably good writing, but it is Jeff Garrett that makes it fly. The play is an exploration of the extraordinary life of legendary Nobel Prize-winning Physicist Richard Feynman, and was inspired by the writings of Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton’s “Tuva or Bust!” 

Garrett has an amazing talent for weaving that spell that solo actors have to do to keep you interested through hour-length monologues. He captures the smartest-guy –in-the –room nerdy Jewish kid grown up into a Nobel Laureate thing. It is as if Richard Feynman is in the room.  

His expressions and delivery seem purely impromptu including stuttering and absent-mindedness. A dictum most every acting class is to make the lines sound like you have just know thought of it and are saying it for the first time, every time; Garrett’s performance is an object lesson in this technique. 

It is difficult to portray real life characters, or at least those for whom we have video, since people can compare the portrayal to the real thing. However, when someone is not so well known, it is a bit easier.  

There needs to be enough mimicry derived from the study of the videos that makes those who would compare sit up and take notice. I watched a You Tube of Feynman : Garret has his NYC Queen’s accent and delivery, looks fairly like him, and is another stunning example of this part of the art. The only downside to his performance is drumming: either his changes of rhythm were too complicated for me to discern, or he couldn’t keep the beat; You Tube shows Feynman to be a fine drummer so that wasn’t part of the character. 

Feynman was quite a character: he didn’t speak till he was three, but when he was five he devised a burglar alarm system for his home one evening while his parents were out. He is ranked among the 10 top physicists of all time by his peers. His work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). Feynman helped develop the atomic bomb and was on the committee that investigated the Challenger disaster, and these are major topics in the play.  

Kendra Oberhauser appears as his student for two scenes. When she first enters, there is electricity in the air about the possibilities of where this encounter may lead. Ms. Oberhauser is a vision as lit by Ted Boyce-Smith. When she later arrives unannounced at his apartment a little tipsy with a broken high-heel after a cast party, we feel the temperature rise then realistically resolve. 

The play is overlong by 15 minutes and takes liberties at the end, but the tour de force of Garrett is worth the price of admission.  

INDRA’S NET THEATER is a relatively new theater company which produces plays in Berkeley and focuses on plays about science and its philosophical and ethical implications 

Jeff Garrett will next be seen doing his one-man Christmas Carol, Scrooge: The Haunting of Ebenezer with Shotgun Players. In January he will appear in Sherlock Holmes: The Broken Mirror, at Berkeley City Club for Theatre@Liberty. 

“QED” by Peter Parnell 

Directed by Bruce Coughran 

Bert van Aalsburg, Stage Manager* 

Barbara Bernardo, Choreographer 

Lili Smith, Set Designer, Props 

Chris Houston, Sound Designer 

Andrew Maguire, Drumming Coach 

Ted Boyce-Smith, Lighting Designer 

Helen Slomowitz, Costume Designer 


Through December 22, 2013 

Times: Thurs-Sat: 8pm; Sunday Matinee 5:00pm 

Venue: Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley