The Week



New: Possbly Suicidal Man Surrenders to Berkeley Police

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday August 06, 2014 - 05:04:00 PM

A possibly suicidal person who was locked in a Cal Bears storage facility in West Berkeley this afternoon was convinced to come outside and is in police custody, a police spokeswoman said. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Sue City & Police Review Commission over Leak of Confidential Information

Contacts: Sergeant Chris Stines, Tim Talbot - Rains, Lucia Stern, Mary Jo Rossi
Wednesday August 06, 2014 - 11:11:00 AM

Oakland, California – When a police officer is asked to testify before a citizens’ Police Review Commission to recount, under oath, the details of a specific police incident, he or she does so under the promise of an impartial and confidential process. The law requires as much.

The Berkeley Police Association (BPA) says the City of Berkeley and its Police Review Commission (PRC) has broken that promise of confidentiality, announcing today that it filed a civil lawsuit yesterday in Alameda County Superior Court against the City of Berkeley and the PRC seeking injunctive relief and damages. -more-

New: Man Shot in South Berkeley

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday August 06, 2014 - 10:58:00 AM

A man shot in South Berkeley on Sunday night was hospitalized but is expected to survive, according to police. -more-

Escalation Nation: How US Navy's New "Death Ray" Weapon Could Spark a War in the Persian Gulf

Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:29:00 PM

Sometime this summer, the US Navy plans to deploy a new "death ray" laser weapon system. The device has already been mounted on the USS Ponce, a naval vessel assigned to engage in "war exercises" off the Iranian coast. The laser beam is not powerful enough to be used as a defensive tool: it can only be used to destroy slow-moving targets like drones and patrol boats. Iran routinely dispatches drones and small boats when the US conducts military provocations in the waters of the Gulf. -more-

EPA Plan to Increase the Public's Radiation Exposure
Would 'Make the World Safe for Nuclear Accidents'
(News Analysis)

Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:07:00 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should not be in the business of increasing the public's exposure to excess radiation—be it from leaking nuclear reactors, microwave ovens, solar flares or "dirty bombs." But that's exactly what is underway in Washington, DC as the EPA is pushing a plan to increase the public's "acceptable" exposure to radioactive contamination 200-fold. -more-



UPDATE: Must Barbara Lee Always Speak for Me?

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 01, 2014 - 09:45:00 AM

On Saturday I went to the party for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s birthday, held for the first time in Alameda, which is now part of her district. Last week I reported on the demonstration which was planned for the event, and as advertised there were indeed picketers outside the event, which was held in a dome-like tent outside a winery in a hot, wind-swept warehouse in the vicinity of the former naval base which is now slated for intensive development.

On the way in I talked with friends among the demonstrators, who carried signs with an adaptation of Barbara’s signature slogan, Barbara Lee Speaks for Me: “Barbara Lee, Speak for Me.” Their major complaint: Lee has voted for, or failed to vote against, funding for military aid to Israel, though she has also spoken out against various aspects of U.S. policy regarding Israel/Palestine. Jim Harris, a protester that I don’t know personally, has sent a commentary which appears in this issue with a report and a video about their discussion with her outside the party and links to his organization’s tally of her statements on the matter.

How much more should Barbara Lee’s constituents demand of her? I made my discounted senior rate contribution at the door and went inside so I could talk to her in person. Inside I saw several women I recognized, older generation peace ladies like me who cut their political teeth on opposition to the war on Vietnam and went on to serious electoral politics, who also buttonholed her about the Gaza situation. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Open Comment Welcome

Friday August 01, 2014 - 11:03:00 AM

We've been hoping to take some time off this week since nothing much seems to be happening in Berkeley, but the mailbox this week seems to be all about Gaza. Our intention here is to be mostly Berkeley-centric, but it seems that a lot of people in Berkeley at the moment are preoccupied with what's happening in the Middle East. We welcome comments on this and other topics and from other perspectives, and we'll find time to post them if they come in. -more-

Public Comment

New: Re: Does Barbara Lee always have to speak for me

Sheila Goldmacher
Tuesday August 05, 2014 - 01:22:00 PM

YES. Especially when it concerns my tax dollars being used to continue a genocide of the Palestinian people.. When Lee stands up against War in Iraq but votes with the rest of the cowards in Congress for a shameful continuance of Israeli killings of innocent children and other civilians, you bet I am going to call her out. I called her office on Thursday to find out how she voted on the money for Israel - you might be interested to know I am still waiting for a call back. I suggest you see Judith Montell's and Emily Scharlatt's film -IN THE IMAGE:WOMEN CAPTURE THE OCCUPATION before you write another word about this issue. -more-

The War Against Gaza

Joel Hildebrandt
Friday August 01, 2014 - 10:10:00 AM

There can be no justifying the attacks by Israel on the people of Gaza, the massacres of children, the deliberate bombings of UN refugee compounds, and the targeting of essential services such as power and water. Yes, it is wrong for Gaza residents to launch rockets into Israeli territory. But no balanced position can compare that with the horrors of Israeli slaughter of civilians, over 1000 to date and still increasing. A sane response to the Palestinians would involve negotiating in good faith with them. To begin with, the blockade must stop. Basic supplies are being kept from the civilian population. Gazans are essentially being held in prison, and when they protest they are slaughtered at will. That the US is condoning this slaughter is unconscionable; that we are providing weapons for it is beyond criminal. -more-

Barbara Lee and Gaza

Jim Harris
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:18:00 PM

I’ve written up a summation of the protest here.

There is also a link to a video … when Lee took the time to speak to us. -more-

Death Penalty

Chuck Mann, Greensboro, NC
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:20:00 PM

There has been yet another botched execution in our country. Many Americans want to reform the death penalty. I want to end it. It bothers me that so many Christians support the death penalty. Jesus opposed stoning, crucifixions, and other forms of torture and execution. He even said, ''Whatever you do to the least among men, you also do to me''. Prisoners on death row can certainly be considered the least among men. -more-

Gaza and Israel

Curtis Manning
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:26:00 PM

I wish to express my extreme displeasure at the ongoing incremental genocide of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis, the knee-jerk military support of the US government, and their apparent encouragement of the Zionist quest to solve the "Palestinian problem" in the same the way the Turks did the Armenians. -more-

Antibiotics and Farm Animals

Melissa Tumas
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:25:00 PM

Factory Farms are pumping their animals full of antibiotics with only 20% of these drugs being used for actual illness. -more-

Gaza - Rabbis speak out

Jagjit Singh
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:02:00 PM

Ignoring the carnage in Gaza, the U.S. military announced that it was resupplying the Israeli army to ensure the mass murder of civilians continues. Local reporters describe horrific scenes of distraught families witnessing their loved ones being blown to pieces before their very eyes. -more-

Kashkari’s Sojourn

Carol Denney
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:01:00 PM

Neel Kashkari, Republican candidate for governor, spent an impressive seven days sleeping on park benches and in parking lots trying and failing to find work in Fresno. After his fifth day on the streets he concluded that all he needed was a job: -more-

Horrific Gaza Cleansing

Amro Ezzat
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:05:00 PM

Civilians have paid a horrific price in the ongoing violence in Gaza. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:China & The U.S.: The Past’s Dead Hand

Conn Hallinan
Tuesday July 22, 2014 - 09:12:00 PM

A major cause of current tensions in the East and South China seas are two documents that most Americans have either forgotten about or don’t know exist. But both are fueling a potential confrontation among the world’s three most powerful economies that is far more unstable and dangerous than most people assume.

Consider what has happened over the past six months:

  1. In February, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry assured Japan that the Americans would defend Japan in case of a military confrontation between Tokyo and Beijing. That same month, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert said the Philippines could count on American support if there were a clash with China in the South China Sea.
  2. In early May, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces practiced “retaking” islands of the Amami Group near Okinawa in a not-so-subtle challenge to China over the ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. That same week, U.S. and Philippine forces held joint war games, while President Barack Obama promised “ironclad” support against “aggressive” neighbors seeking to alter “changing the status quo” in Asia.
  3. In mid-May, China challenged Japanese ownership of Okinawa, stating it did “not belong to Japan,” challenging Tokyo, and indirectly calling in to question the presence of huge U.S. bases on the island.
  4. At the end of May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Tokyo would support the Philippines, Vietnam, and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in their disputes with Beijing over islands and shoals in the South China Seas.
  5. On July 1, the Abe government “re-interpreted” Article 9 of its peace constitution to allow Japan to use military force in support of its allies. U.S. allies in the region supported the move. The Philippines agreed to allow the U.S. military use of the former American base at Subic Bay.
American naval vessels have accused the Chinese Navy of playing chicken off China’s coast. Chinese ships are blockading Philippine ships near a number of disputed shoals and reefs. Vietnam claims China rammed some of its ships. Japan scrambled a record number of fighter planes to intercept supposed incursions by Chinese and Russian aircraft. U.S. Senator John McCain called China “a rising threat,” and the Pentagon’s Frank Kandell told the House Armed Forces Committee that U.S. military superiority in the Pacific was “not assured.”

In short, “tense” doesn’t quite describe the situation in Asia these days, more like “scary.” -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Regaining Thinking Ability

Jack Bragen
Thursday July 31, 2014 - 09:21:00 PM

A psychotic episode and the ensuing recovery (and this generally includes being put on medication) can leave a person with somewhat of a blank mind. Or, on the other hand, the mind can be plagued with residual symptoms. Either way, a psychotic episode and recovery from it can sometimes leave a person not knowing how to think, and needing to relearn that. -more-


Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 01, 2014 - 10:01:00 AM

In response to an eight-year Israeli blockade of Gaza and the closing of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Hamas shoots rockets into Israel, causing a disproportionate response from Israel, which in turn causes worldwide condemnation, furthering isolating Israel from most of the world. A ceasefire will eventually be negotiated, Israel will withdraw from Gaza, calm will again result for a short while, and then the cycle of violence will be repeated over and over again. And Israel will have another excuse for not engaging in meaningful peace negotiations with the Palestinians. -more-

Arts & Events

Updated: Merola’s Muddled Production of Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 01, 2014 - 11:23:00 AM

Young American director James Darrah, who recently excelled as production designer and director of San Francisco Symphony’s highly successful semi-staged production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes, failed to live up to his own high standards in tackling Merola Opera’s production of Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI. At the opening night performance on July 31 at Everett Auditorium in San Francisco, Darrah opted for a unitary stage-set for the entire opera, making it serve all pur-poses as an artist’s studio, a party scene, the home of Donna Anna and her father, the Commendatore, and much else. Tables and chairs got pushed around (by Lep-orello), and the back wall seemed to serve as a kind of bulletin board where Don Giovanni, here portrayed as an artist, hung photographs or sketches of his latest conquests. (At least that’s what I think the various pieces of paper stuck onto the back wall are supposed to offer. However, try as I might, I could not actually see what was on those pieces of paper.) -more-