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UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks resigns after only three years

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday August 16, 2016 - 08:07:00 PM

University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has resigned after only three years on the job, UC President Janet Napolitano announced today. 

However, Napolitano said Dirks intends to remain in his position until a new successor is named and in place. 

Dirks, who formerly was executive vice president at Columbia University in New York City and became UC Berkeley's tenth chancellor on June 1, 2013, has been under fire for his handling of sexual harassment cases and for his budgetary decisions. 

Napolitano didn't say why Dirks resigned. 

In a statement, Napolitano said, "Today I have accepted the resignation of Nicholas B. Dirks as chancellor of UC Berkeley. I do so with deep appreciation for Chancellor Dirks' efforts on behalf of this great institution, its students, faculty, staff, alumni and the larger Berkeley community." 

Napolitano said UC will immediately form a committee to begin a global search for a new chancellor. 

"We seek nothing less than an individual of the highest caliber to lead Berkeley, widely and correctly regarded as the finest public research university in the world," she said. 

"UC Berkeley, and the University of California, deserve nothing less," Napolitano said. 

In a letter to the campus community, Dirks said, "I have come to the personal decision that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to take up the financial and institutional challenges ahead of us." 

Dirks said, "It has been a great honor to serve as the tenth chancellor of Berkeley and I am proud of all we have accomplished."

Updated: Second Homicide Victim graduated from Berkeley High in 2014

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday August 15, 2016 - 08:09:00 PM

One of the two men who were fatally shot outside a birthday party at an art gallery in downtown Oakland early Sunday morning graduated from Berkeley High School in 2014 and played on a youth rugby club and on the school's football team, one of his coaches said today. 

Oakland police identified the two men as 20-year-old Craig Fletcher-Cooks and 22-year-old Terrence McCrary and said they both lived in Oakland. 

Keir Paasch, the head coach for the Berkeley Rhinos Rugby Club, said Fletcher-Cooks was "a leader" when he played for the club team, which he said is affiliated with Berkeley High School but not directly connected to the school. 

Police said officers who responded at 12:53 a.m. on Sunday to reports of gunfire in the 300 block of 15th Street between Harrison and Webster streets found Fletcher-Cooks and McCrary suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. 

Paramedics responded to the scene but the two men were pronounced dead shortly after they arrived. 

Officers found a third gunshot victim several blocks from the crime scene and he was taken to a hospital, where he is in stable condition, police said. 

The shooting occurred outside a birthday party at the Prime Development art gallery at 322 15th St. 

Police haven't released any information about suspects or a motive in the shooting. 

Paasch said Fletcher-Cooks, who he knew as Craig Fletcher, was "a good kid" who would regularly come out to Rhinos practices to check on the team after he graduated. 

Paasch said Fletcher-Cooks was "very athletic" and played with "good energy." 

Paasch noted that the Rhinos also lost 17-year-old Efejon Ustenci in a drowning accident at Long Lake in Placer County on June 22, only five days after Ustenci graduated from Berkeley High School. 

"We've had kind of a rough summer. It's been a rough off-season," he said.

Two young men killed Sunday identified as Berkeley High alumni

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday August 15, 2016 - 01:47:00 PM

Two men who were fatally shot outside a birthday party at an art gallery in downtown Oakland early Sunday morning were identified by police today as 20-year-old Craig Fletcher-Cooks and 22-year-old Terrence McCrary, both of Oakland. A story on berkeleyside.com gave McCrary's last name as Mack, and reported that both were Berkeley High School graduates. 

Police said officers who responded at 12:53 a.m. Sunday to reports of gunfire in the 300 block of 15th Street between Harrison and Webster streets found Fletcher-Cooks and McCrary suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. 

Paramedics responded to the scene but the two men were pronounced dead shortly after they arrived. 

Officers found a third gunshot victim several blocks from the crime scene and he was taken to a hospital, where he is in stable condition, police said. 

The shooting occurred outside a birthday party at the Prime Development art gallery at 322 15th St. 

Police haven't released any information about suspects or a motive in the shooting. 

Oakland police said anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact their homicide section at (510) 238-3821 or their tip line at (510) 238-7950.

50 Years Ago: Anti-war Protesters Blockaded the Concord Naval Weapons Station

Gar Smith
Friday August 12, 2016 - 05:03:00 PM

50 years ago, in August 1966, anti-war demonstrators blocked gates to the Concord Naval Weapons Station to halt shipments of explosives and napalm bombs destined to be dropped on the people of Viet Nam. The only news organization on the scene reporting on the protests—and the arrests and violence that shadowed the long-running Port Chicago Vigil—was the weekly underground paper, The Berkeley Barb.

The following reports were collected from the online archives of the Barb, now available to the public for the first time, thanks to a major digital scanning project conducted by Independent Voices, an Open Access Collection of the Alternative Press and Reveal Digital.

The following reports can be found on the new website: www.berkeleybarb.net. The online archives offer a word search function and provide both a visual scan of each page of Berkeley's pioneering weekly and text reproductions of the articles on each page. 


Committee for Nonviolent Action-West to March On Napalm Depot  

The Berkeley Barb  

(April 1, 1966)—A three-day anti-war march from UC to Port Chicago, "the main shipping port for napalm, and explosives for Vietnam," will begin in late April, George Kanoun, coordinator of the Port Chicago project of the Committee for Nonviolent Action-West, told BARB this week. "We already have two, people for civil disobedience," Kanoun said. "We might try to stop some trucks. We're not sure right now just what we'll do." 

The project will begin Friday, April 29. After arriving in Port Chicago, the marchers will encamp there. The civil disobedience will occur three weeks later in Port Chicago, Kanoun told BARB. They expect "at least 50 people—probably a hundred," to begin the march, he said, "and at least a dozen people will be at the vigil at all times." There will be "hospitality" for 25 persons at Port Chicago. 

--- --- 

August 6-9 Actionists Out To Close Port  

'With luck not one truck will pass through the gates of Port Chicago," a spokesman for the Port Chicago march told BARB. Marchers intend to disrupt service to and from the massive munitions dump by vigiling outside the gate and blocking the path of explosives trucks. The action will start with a 1 P.M. rally at Concord. The group will then march to Port Chicago. 

At 5 P.M., those willing to face arrest will leave the main body of vigilers and take up positions outside the gate. Leaders of the demonstration hope that their numbers will be so great that authorities will halt the flow of trucks into and out of the port. Port Chicago handles over 90% of the ammunition and explosives used by American forces in Vietnam. People contemplating taking part in the civil disobedience have been cautioned to expect the maximum penalty for interfering with explosives trucks. This is 6 months in jail and a $500 fine for each offense. 

"The action will be stronger if people refuse bail and defend themselves in court," Bob Meriweather of the Port Chicago Committee told BARB. All recent charges for truck stopping have been misdemeanors, and the participants have been released on their own recognizance. The Berkeley Council for Justice may be contacted for further information on the legal aspects of the demonstration. The rally will be held in the Concord City Plaza, at Willow Pass and Grant St. 

Speakers will include Marlene Samas, mother of one of the three soldiers who refused to fight in Vietnam; the four housewives who were arrested at a napalm plant in San Jose; and Edward Keating, editor of Ramparts and Congressional peace candidate. 

The demonstration, organized by the PCC and the Contra Costa Citizens against the War in Vietnam, was foreshadowed Tuesday at the Federal Bldg, in San Francisco. Leaders of the protest presented Cecil Poole, Federal District Attorney, with a petition demanding that President Johnson cease all bombings of North Vietnam by noon on Aug. 6. Poole said he would transmit the demand to the Birdman. Carpools to Concord will leave Bancroft and Dana at noon Sunday. Another group will start from 4416 18th St., S.F., at 11:30. 

--- --- 

Protestors Injured 


The Berkeley Barb, Vol. 3, No. 6, Issue 52 

(August 12, 1966)—Dancing, rallies, marches and civil disobedience last weekend illuminated mounting anti-war action throughout the Bay Area. In the past 7 days confrontation has replaced talk. On the eve of the third International Days of Protest, the Berkeley VDC liberated a street off Telegraph during a street-dance rally. The rally passed without incident, although part of the crowd hooted anti-war speeches. 

About 10,000 persons took part in a march in San Francisco the next day, Saturday, Hiroshima Day. More than 40 organizations sponsored the march and subsequent rally at Civic Center. The crowd witnessed speeches and satirical dramas by prominent Bay Area peace activists. Discussion lasted into the evening, as children and grownups found relief from the heat in the city fountain. 

Direct action at the Port Chicago weapons station followed closely the San Francisco rally. Gar Smith was arrested at the ammo dump main gate at 7:10 PM Saturday, after blocking the passage of an explosives truck. 

Smith was the first of a series of truck-stoppers in civil disobedience which continues through BARB press time. Thirty-one protestors had been arrested as of Thursday AM. Among the arrested is BARB staffer Alan Turner. 

BARB reporters and photographers were the only newsmen present during the first group of arrests. BARB alerted the Bay Area news media. 

During the Days of Protest, forces were grouping to fight the House Committee on Un-American Activities. HUAC subpoenaed Bay Area peace activists beginning Friday. Counter-moves by the newly-formed Peace Activists Defense group are gathering momentum throughout the nation as BARB goes to press. 

--- --- 

Over 30 Hauled Off To Jail 

MT / The Berkeley Barb 

(August 12, 1966) -- Police and the marines brought home the brutality of the Viet Nam war to Port Chicago Monday. A marine waved a truck on as protestors sat down in front of it. 

"Keep coming!" he shouted as the truck's fender rode over Bob Meriwether's back. 

A Contra Costa Sheriff grabbed a man's leg and twisted it, pulling him over the line onto Federal property. 

Marines twisted his arms behind his back and slammed him face forward against a car. Witnesses said about four marines then beat him on his back with their fists. 

Earlier, at 3:15 a.m., three women were yanked out of the path of a truck by one sheriff and thrown down on the pavement by another. One witness said she saw a club swinging down on a woman's back. 

One of the women couldn't move and had to be helped off the road by friends. The cops threatened arrest her if she didn't get up. 

Only one person was arrested at this time. However, while the vigilers regroupd to discuss what had happened, a sheriff arrested Larry Cooper for trespassing on the base. Witnesses said he only stood at the edge of the line, saying goodnight to workers leaving for home. 

At 7:15 a.m. the second scene of major violence occurred. This time, sever persons were arrested, all for "trespassing" on Federal property. Sheriffs dragged three or four of them over the line and handed them to the marines. The rest were pushed over the line by the truck, which was marked "Explosives." 

"Push-pull, what's the difference?" said one angry onlooker. "None of them trespassed voluntarily." 

A half-hour later, three more people stopped a truck, this time, way down the road. A Highway Patrolman handcuffed a girl who went limp. He dragged her 50 yards through sand and gravel by the handcuff on her wrist. 

Later arrests were more calm and dignified. The vigilers applauded each person as [they] was taken into custody. 

The march the previous afternoon was also in sharp contract to the night's violence. 385 people left Concord at 2:30 p.m, in the sizzling heat. U.S. and U.N. flags waved at the beginning and again at the middle of the procession. A majority of the marchers carried signs. 

Before long, shirts and shoes were removed. Many were badly sunburned during the 6-mile trek. Two girls fainted and were taken into cars. 

About 40 young toughs were waiting at Waring's Frosty Freeze a mile out of Concord. Several cops stood between the marchers and the hecklers. 

The hecklers then ran for their cars and cycles. They crusied back and forth along the road, hurling insults at the marchers. 

At 5:30, the march reached the waterfront gate of the U.S. Naval Weapons Station at Port Chicago. It had swelled to about 500 members. They entered a roped-off area between the road and the railroad tracks. 

Facing them on the other side of the road were about 20 cops and 100 hecklers. About 10 marines were stationed inside the gate. 

Meriwether called a meeting of about 30 persons who planned to commit civil disobedience. A group of hecklers crossed the road and surrounded the meeting, continually interrupting it with coughs whistling and talking. 

Then a napalm truck, bombs gleaming in their crates, roared down the road and turned into the base: No one had been ready to stop it. 

Then came the long wait. As it grew dark the hecklers dwindled until only those speeding by in cars were left. 

At about 10 p.m., a delegation was sent to the other gate of the weapons station, because two trucks had been spotted going over the overpass road which came from that entrance. 

As the night grew cold, the vigilers dwindled rapidly. Only about 60 people stayed until morning. A vigil line of never less than10 persons stood all night facing the waterfront gate, holding signs and singing. 

--- --- 

Arrests at the Gate Followed by Arraignments 

By Elliot Borin & Paula Friedman  

(Waterfront Gate, Port Chicago) -- "Get up, get up, get up! . . . ahhh, fuck you." 4 AM greetings from the S.P. brakeman. 

Six feet from the vigilers' exhausted heads, the sounds of trains compete with the clanking of Navy generators, the wailing of Marine sirens, and the bull-horned madness of amplified police radio calls. 

"I think I'll step across the line. There's a good chance the cells will be heated," says a shivering vigilier to a comrade. The Marines P.A. system announces, "The white line delineates the access and egress points of the Concord Naval Weapons Station." 

It was over this line that eight limp bodies, each held in the clutches of a sheriff's deputy or marine were 'trespassed' (i.e., dragged, Monday morning. 

Aided by a 25-ton explosive truck, which shoveled the bodies to the proximity of the line, the hands of officialdom pulled these eight to the growing pile of arrested anti-war demonstrators. 

Of course, even the police occasionally showed compassion. "Get the hell off the street or you 11 be arrested," one highway patrolman warned a bleeding housewife, Karen Barbena, following her 3:15 AM encounter with a PIE truck and assorted marines. 

"I was able to sleep most the time in jail," one arrestee Tom Voorhees, said-- "except when the regular prisoners in the next cell threw a burning rag into my bunk, scorched my feet, was all. 

On Monday afternoon, arraign the 8 prisoners charged with Federal trespassing occupied the center ring. They were released on their own recognizance. The 22 prisoners remaining were arraigned in Port Chicago's Justice Court. 

"This is not a Federal Court. This is a Municipal Court," said Judge Otto Lichti. "The people in this county have their rights, too. The bail will remain as set." 

Judge Renaghan of Concord Municipal Court first raised the bail for the prisoners under his jurisdiction to $330 and $660: then released all of them on their own recognizance. 

All but three prisoners, Isabel Cerney, Sarrel Brody and Bob Meriweather, who declined to accept bail, have been released. Preliminary hearings on the charges, and sentencing of Meriwether, who entered a plea of nolo contendere for two offenses, have been set for next Monday & Tuesday. 

The Vigil and stoppage of explosive trucks will continue, vigilers declare. Carpools leave daily from 2001 Milvia in Berkeley. 

--- --- 

Truck-Stopper Tells Where It's At When… 

Alan Turner / The Berkeley Barb 

(August 12, 1966) -- We had kept our vigil through Sunday's cold railroad-terror night. The napalm trucks rested. We waited, keeping silent watch or somnambulistically singing. The day's eye had humbly risen, and had begun to cast his first rays of warmth. 

I leaned, half-sleeping on my picket sign, holding close about my neck the blanket in which I was wrapped. The sign said, "Stop! In the name of love." In an anxious hiss, a truck rose over the ridge. Doubts. Was it napalm, or simply innocent merchandise? Could we stop it? 

A munitions truck coming down the road would have to make a left turn into the gate of the US Naval Weapons Station, opposite which we stood. The station boundary was marked by a white line painted on the pavement. 

The Marine Officer of the Day had warned us of that line many times during our vigil. According to the formal warning that he droned over his loudspeaker, access to the base was controlled and no one was permitted on the grounds without "legitimate purpose and a definite destination." 

The US Code provided, he would continue, for punishment by imprisonment for not more than six months, or a fine of $500, or both. Crossing the white line was a federal case. Also we would be at the mercy of the Marines. 

The oncoming truck was marked "explosives". This meant it was loaded with bombs. People nearer the truck took the first action. Throwing themselves in the path of the speeding vehicle, they forced the driver to slow down. He would not stop, though, but forced them aside. 

Bob Meriwether, forced the truck to a near halt as it began to turn. He was handcuffed by the police and dragged away. 

The rest of us swarmed in front of the death-bearing monster and sat down on the roadway before its bumper. 

The driver still would not come to a halt, but continued moving slowly forward. The truck hit us and still continued forward, pushing us along the ground. 

As inexorably our passive bodies approached the fatal white line, I saw a Marine coming toward is with some of his subordinates. 

He shouted, "Alright, they crossed over!" then pointed to me and ordered, "You take that one!" Before I could draw back my extended legs, a young pfc grabbed 

me by my boot and dragged me across the line onto the base. 

I did not try to resist the Marines. They carried me into the base and threw me inside a prison truck. Shortly, they took me out, photographed and fingerprinted me, then committed me to a cell where I was reunited with some of the other people who were arrested. 

In a buoyant mood, we were carted to the county jail in Martinez, singing, and exulting over the success of the demonstration. I was charged with trespassing on US property. 

--- --- 

Not Just Any Old Port  

Port Chi Vigilers Brave Fists and Fury  

By Gar Smith / The Berkeley Barb 

(January 1, 1967)—On the Port Chicago vigil line, boredom, constant danger and the sharp friction of a dozen privations wear living down to basics. 

Christmas—a sound montage of Muzak carols, shuffled between broadcast slices of the big beat, the retelling of cold steeple chimes, the tinkling of small tin bells…. Christmas, with its dangle of colored lights, never found Port Chicago's peace vigil. 

The tall pylon along the Industrial Highway which identifies the Concord Naval Weapons Depot matches its illumination against the far flames of the Avon chemical burn-offs, reminding the eye of Seattle's Space Needle and a Vietnamese village dying in Dow's flaming jam. 

The vigilers are gone from the Main Gate: only the hovering cradle of a highway arc-light maintains its vigil, swaying on its tapering aluminum stalk. The vigilers have moved to the waterfront gate, closer to the ships and the workers who load them. 

The vigil has also established itself before the Federal Building in San Francisco, [with support convoys] leaving each afternoon at 5 for the Port Chicago waterfront. 

Often only two people wait out the lonely days and nights before the gate—and, on occasion, one vigiler stands in solitary witness to the war and human conscience. 

Recently over 200 Bay Area professors and their wives, at the insistence of Professor Masao Miyoshi of Berkeley's Faculty Peace Committee, gathered for a rain-dashed Sunday vigil at the weapon station's Main Gate but since that exceptional day, the vigil has survived on the awesome stamina of a very few. 

It has been quiet—relatively—at the vigil of late, but even the calmest night may bristle with sudden violence. 

Last Thursday was a case in point. Eight persons vigiled at the waterfront gate. Most of them were clustered in the rear of Larry Cooper's station wagon, resting from the cold and their fatigue, when a car pulled to a stop and disgorged a know of men who accounted Cooper, who was standing alone. 

Cooper, according to Jenny Milmen, spoke with the men for about half and hour, the abruptly, the mood turned ugly. The vigilers from the car and beaten amid curses. One of the attackers who had previously declared that he was enrolled in Officer Training School, expressed by way of explanation his hostile assessment of peaceful, anti-war vigilers: "You're destroying our country." 

The attackers expressed their patriotic loyalty on the non-resisting pacifists for over five minutes before they left. Miss Milmen, the single girl on the line that night, was the only vigiler left uninjured. 

As they piled back into their auto, one of the attackers paused to announce that the vigil had gone on long enough—the time had come for extinction. "New Year's Eve is going to be the last night of this vigil," he shouted as the car fled. 

The vigilers are not inclined to treat threats with special concern—threats and brutality are the common lot of the Port Chi pacifist—but the New Year's threat seemed somehow inordinately chilling. 

Frenzied calls were made, trying to bring more people to the line on that night, for protection: phone calls to the working press for the same purpose. From the offices of the Sunday Ramparts to the city desks of the Oakland Trib came the same seasonal greetings: "Sorry, but it's New Year; we don't have the staff." 

The morning of January 1st, however, brought this report from Jim Bernard, vigil spokesman: "Nothing but peace and quiet on New Years." Another lonely, anxious and patient night had passed—the 151st

If it is true that the men and youths who hassle the vigil are motivated by back-water boredom as well as misplaced aggression, the festive interlude of "ringing in the new" may have quenched the urge to annihilate those few tenacious reminders of last year's war guilt. There's much sublimation to be had in a brace of bourbon. 

But the hangovers will subside in a day's time and then, perhaps, the vigil will bear the shock of a renews and magnified blitz—the goondas may, in fact, hold the vigilers somehow responsible for the discomfort of their morning after DTs. 

If the (Christmas) spirit is still within you, please be advised that the vigil is in need of food, clothing and funds. Money is now very short and has largely been drawn from the vigilers' private accounts, now almost depleted. 

Most importantly, however, the vigil needs the human participation of dedicate individuals. The car that leaves from the Federal Building at 5 p.m. each weekday will be able to pick up riders, food, dollars, or the Christmas clothing that you were going to have to exchange anyway. 

A phone call to Joanna Barnes on Jim Bernard in Concord the previous day should provide for pick ups. 

New: Agreement to create center for UC Berkeley Black community

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Monday August 15, 2016 - 10:34:00 AM

Black student leaders and university officials agreed to create a center to serve the needs of black students on the University of California at Berkeley campus, university officials said Friday.  

The Fannie Lou Hamer Resource Center, named after the 1950s and 1960s black voting rights activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer, is scheduled to open in October in the Hearst Field Annex.  

The center is part of UC Berkeley's African American Initiative, which aims to address the underrepresentation of black students, faculty and staff on the campus.  

Black students make up only 3 percent of undergraduates, 4 percent of graduate students and 3 percent of professors, according to university officials.  

Six percent of the California residents identify as black persons.  

A 2013 campus survey found that black students feel the least respected of all students on campus.  

The needs the center is aimed at addressing consist of social, cultural, academic and political needs of UC Berkeley's black community, university officials said.  

The center will be located in a former graduate student lounge. Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has allocated $82,885 from his office's discretionary fund to refurbish the space, university officials said.  

More money has been requested by the Black Student Union to hire people to staff the center. 

Additional money will be needed to keep the center open.


The Editor's Back Fence

Don't miss this

Monday August 15, 2016 - 10:46:00 AM

An excellent though very sad story on berkeleyside.com about the latest Berkeley victims of gun violence:

2 BHS grads killed in separate Oakland shootings

What do Berkeley Councilmembers think they're doing, anyhow?

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 12, 2016 - 05:17:00 PM

Readers should check out the flurry of press releases that came in the last couple of days regarding the aborted city council meeting, supposedly to bless some sort of compromise that various politicians claimed to have brokered regarding the dueling ballot proposals for a Berkeley minimum wage. At this point I can't begin to explain what they all thought they were doing. I'm going to ask around, and if I figure anything out I'll write it up in the editorial space. Meanwhile, the previous editorial still holds: get involved in regime change in Berkeley if you have any time or money to spare. It couldn't get any worse, and it might get better.

Here's the full set of links. Read them and weep. In reverse order of occurrence, roughly.

Betrayal at the Berkeley City Council (Public Comment) Harry Brill 08-11-2016

Flash: No Special Berkeley City Council Meeting Tonight Re Minimum Wage John Caner, CEO Downtown Berkeley Assn. 08-11-2016

Flash: Whole Lotta Shakin' at a special City Council Meeting tonight? Becky O'Malley 08-11-2016

City of Berkeley News: City Council Special Meeting, Thursday August 11 at 6:00PM Councilmember Kriss Worthington 08-11-2016

Press Release: Berkeley City Council to hold special meeting on raising minimum wage Stefan Elgstrand, Office of Councilmember Jesse Arreguin 08-11-2016

Press Release: HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Council Special Meeting re MINIMUM WAGE, Tomorrow, Thurs, Aug 11, 6pm, Old City Hall, 2134 MLK Jr. Way. John Caner, C.E.O. Downtown Berkeley Association 08-11-2016

Press Release: Agreement Reached on Berkeley Minimum Wage
Attorney Andy Katz led negotiations for Special City Council vote Thursday
Andy Katz, andy@andykatzlaw.com 08-11-2016

Press Release: PROCLAMATION CALLING A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL From Leslie D. Harris, City of Berkeley City Clerk Department 08-11-2016

Public Comment

Investigate Trump's Illegal Acts

Bruce Joffe
Friday August 12, 2016 - 05:13:00 PM

If a person yells "fire" in a crowded theater, would he be excused from the legal consequences by claiming that he was "just kidding?" Certainly not!

By approving of Russia's hack into Presidential candidate Clinton's email ("Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"), the Republican standard-bearer is advocating an illegal act, perhaps even treason. This calls for a criminal investigation, possibly leading to prosecution. "Just kidding" doesn't absolve his public statements.  


Now, the Bankrupting Bully advocates that gun owners kill Hillary Clinton. He used ambiguous language, ("If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is"), but the message is clear. His bullying tactics, like charging that the election is rigged, should not insulate him from criminal investigation that such language would initiate for any other person. When will the Attorney General and the FBI Director do their jobs? 

We must not wait until some gun-owning zealot tries to follow the Republican Candidate's provocation before bringing him to justice and holding him accountable for his incendiary words.  

Can we develop empathy?

Romila Khanna
Friday August 12, 2016 - 05:15:00 PM

I don't know how many odd or even number of deaths will stir empathy in the hearts of our legislators. So long as it is others who die, it must be okay to avoid thinking about introducing changes to the Second Amendment. I know crazy minds may still be able to devise ways to acquire guns, but many criminals will be deterred if background checks are thorough and assault weapons are forbidden. 

Too many members of Congress owe their election to campaign funding from the gun lobby. The cries of grieving families have not melted the stone hearts of gun manufacturers. What will it take to bring down the high count of gun-related deaths in the United States?


THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s Missing Money

Bob Burnett
Friday August 12, 2016 - 04:59:00 PM

If you’re watching the Olympic games, you may have noticed “Hillary for President” ads. She’s bought $13.6 million worth, while Donald Trump has bought none. In fact, since garnering the Republican nomination, he’s spent $0 on TV. Nonetheless, the Trump campaign spent $63m in July. What happened to it? 

Open Secrets uses FEC data to report that, at the end of June, the Trump campaign had $20m on hand. According to the latest Trump reports, they raised an additional $80 million in July and, early in August, had $37m on hand. If you do the math, that means Trump spent $63m in July. But he didn’t spend it on TV advertising. How did he spend the money? 

In a conventional campaign, we’d assume Trump spent a substantial part of the $63m on his field operations – setting up an elaborate get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation in key states. That doesn’t seem to be happening. The key states for Trump are Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Trump has a miniscule operation in each state. (In 2012, President Obama spent $87m on his field operation.) 

According to his website Trump has 5 offices in Pennsylvania; none in Philadelphia. (Clinton has multiple offices and at least 100 full-time staff members.) 

According to an Ohio news source, Trump just opened an office in Columbus and has four paid staff members. (The same news source said Clinton has a dozen Ohio field offices and about 250 paid staffers.) 

According to Politico, Trump has one office in Florida and one paid staff member. Politico quotes a Bush operative, “The Trump campaign is about to rapidly ramp up and have 25 offices open throughout the state by early September.” (Politico says, “The Clinton campaign has hundreds of volunteers canvasing neighborhoods across the state, and 12 campaign offices.”) 

So what happened to Trump’s $63m? There are three possible explanations. One is that Trump plans an “October surprise.” That is, Trump has put the money aside and, come October, is planning to flood the airwaves with pro-Trump ads. But that doesn’t seem to be happening; there’s no evidence that Trump has reserved ad space in October. 

Trump may still open more field offices after Labor Day, but that’s cutting it perilously short in terms of mounting an effective GOTV operation. Five thirty eight reported that Trump doesn’t believe in analyzing voter data and targeting certain voters; instead, he relies upon “his personality and rallies.” (CNET noted that while Trump tweets he doesn’t use email or a computer.) 

Of course another explanation for the missing $63m is that Trump doesn’t know what he is doing. Some political observers say that Trump has minimized having his own operation in key states and is relying upon the Republican Party: “Trump is largely outsourcing what's typically called a campaign's ground game, which includes the labor-intensive jobs of identifying and contacting potential supporters.” So we might assume that the $63m was transferred from the Trump campaign to the Republican National Committee (RNC). There are several problems with this approach. One is that the RNC is concerned with the entire ticket and not just Trump. The other problem is that Trump’s base is roughly 33 percent of probable voters; to win, Trump needs to expand this by having volunteers interact with persuadable voters. 

There’s a third explanation for the missing $63m. The end-of-June FEC report indicates that Trump had lent his campaign $50m. Although Trump promised to forgive this loan, NBC news reported that he never filed the papers to actually do this. Perhaps Trump repaid himself from the $63m, leaving little money for ads and field staff. 

By Labor Day, the Trump campaign will file another FEC report and we’ll see how many money he has raised and what he has on hand. Media reports will tell us whether he had made advertising ad purchases and set up a substantial GOTV operation in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

Before the conventions, Trump bragged that the Republican affair would dwarf the Democratic gathering. In fact, the Democratic convention had better ratings and demonstrated that Clinton is a better manager. That’s probably true for the next three months; ad buys, GOTV operations, and money management, in general, will demonstrate that Hillary Clinton is a better manager than Donald Trump. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Effects of the Affordable Housing Shortage

Jack Bragen
Friday August 12, 2016 - 04:56:00 PM

Affordable and/or subsidized housing, a unit affordable to a person living on Social Security and/or SSI, is an equally important factor in determining the outcome of a mentally ill person as is "compliance" with treatment. In the absence of a decent, safe, affordable, clean, comfortable dwelling, it is improbable that someone with mental illness will get well. Feeling that we are in safe surroundings, an environment in which there is calm, quiet and comfort, and in which there is liberty to do as we please, is a critical factor in our recovery.  

On the other hand, if your housing consists of a bed at the county jail, recovery won't happen, treatment or no treatment. We need peace and quiet and we need comfort. Neither exists at a locked facility, whether this is jail or a state or county psychiatric hospital.  

A number of adult and even middle aged persons with mental illness continue to live with parents. If parents are okay with this and if the situation is livable, that seems fine. (I would have done so had it been an option. However, when I was in my early twenties, my parents wanted me out.)  

A source of folly for some persons with mental illness is to rent a unit that we can't financially afford, in the belief that we will be able to get a job and pay for it. Even if we already have a job and have good income, it might be a good practice to only rent a unit that we can pay for with government benefits. This is because, if there is a relapse, which is a thing to which many mentally ill people are subject, we may be unable to work for an extended time. Losing housing is then the result, unless the unit is affordable in the absence of working.  

In the latter part of the 1980's, when I first moved into a HUD unit, (which was actually the second and last time I moved away from parents--the first time having been at age eighteen) I was able to support myself with a part time job and I was not yet officially disabled, even though I had first been diagnosed several years beforehand. I was able to keep my housing through a relapse. I had applied for Social Security benefits prior to the relapse and the benefits came through at about the time I was hospitalized. It was stroke of good luck. When I was released from the hospital, a retroactive check was waiting for me in the mail.  

People with psychiatric disabilities are probably less able to get along with a roommate, and we need a place to call our own. Having a roommate in today's housing market also isn't good enough to make housing affordable. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a room in a house or an apartment usually isn't affordable to someone living on SSI. This is unless the house or apartment building is located in an impoverished, drug and vermin infested part of town.  

Institutional housing is not an unusual scenario for people with severe mental illness. This could mean a board and care, or it could mean other situations that lack privacy and that have excessive restrictions. This is miserable.  

In past years, when housing was relatively easy to obtain and when it was more affordable, I tried out a number of housing situations. I didn't remain at the initial HUD subsidized apartment. At the time, it was badly run, and there was crime among tenants and their guests. Furthermore, I was assaulted, and I lived next door to my brother. I wanted to get some distance from there. I relocated several times over a period of about twenty years.  

The affordable housing crisis is apparently far worse for disabled people than it is for people who have jobs. This assessment is based on my situation and those of others with whom I have come into contact. Also, as a final note, a good credit rating is critical in order to get into good housing--or to do anything in modern times. Guard your credit rating.  

Arts & Events

POWDER HER FACE: A Farrago of Bad Taste

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 12, 2016 - 04:58:00 PM

Tabloid journalism turned into a raunchy, sensationalist opera is what Thomas Adès’s 1995 chamber opera Powder Her Face is all about. West Edge Opera, in offering the first local staged production of Powder Her Face, has indulged in over-the-top sensationalism for its own sake. I can’t imagine a more blatantly raunchy, pornographic production of this – or for that matter any – opera. As staged by director Elkhanah Pulitzer, Powder Her Face is a farrago of bad taste.  

Thomas Adès, a British composer who was 24-years-old in 1995, was commissioned in 1994 by London’s Alameida Theatre to write an opera. Adès met frequently with his friend Phillip Hensher, and they shared an obsessive fascination with Alban Berg’s opera Lulu and Igor Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress. Hensher, who became the librettist for the opera Adès composed, suggested that the scandalous 1963 divorce case of the Duchess of Argyll would make a terrific subject for an opera. As Hensher observes in program notes for West Edge Opera’s production of Powder Her Face, “1960s sex-and-Polaroids scandal centering on an allegedly sex-crazed duchess seemed perfect.” 

Perfect for what? Toward what artistic and social end? These are questions that must be raised about West Edge Opera’s over-indulgence in sensationalism in this production of Powder Her Face. Interestingly, several audience members I spoke with at the Thursday, August 12 performance of this opera at West Oakland’s abandoned train station told me that the Berkeley Symphony’s concert version of Powder Her Face four or five years ago brought out the dazzling inventiveness of Adès’s musical score far better than this West Edge Opera’s over-the-top staging of Powder Her Face. I can well believe this. When nothing is left to the imagination, and every sex-act is thrown in your face --and there are very many sex-acts of diverse pornographic varieties in this production – the audience may not be able to appreciate the music for its own sake. Conductor Mary Chun did her best to offer a respectable rendition of the Adès score, but Elkhanah Pulitzer’s over-indulgent staging of Powder Her Face consistently overwhelmed the music itself. Not that I am particularly fond of Adès’s score. Especially in the entire first Act, the vocal score consists largely of squeals, screeches, grunts and yowls. The orchestral score isn’t much better: it offers oom pah pah belches and farts galore, not to mention this opera’s most notorious moment, an act of fellatio accompanied by orchestral huffing and puffing, which reminded me that a 1960s euphemism for a blow-job was a ‘huffer’. When the Duchess brought the blow-job to completion, the huffing and puffing orchestra paused for an instant, and the Duchess sputtered and gagged, suggesting she might be on the verge of throwing up. Actually, this bit of operatic porn was immediately followed by a brief, somewhat poignant orchestral moment of what might be termed post-fellatio sadness, itself an ironic take on post-coital sadness. This was one of the few musical moments I enjoyed in Act I of Powder Her Face. 

Vocally, soprano Laura Bohn was given this opera’s best music to sing, and Bohn handled it admirably. Especially late in Act II, when the Duchess’s society-life is a thing of the past, Laura Bohn’s singing and acting made the Duchess almost likeable, and at least pitiable. In this respect, the Duchess reminds me of Blanche Dubois in André Previn’s opera A Streetcar Named Desire, (another of my least favorite operas). Soprano Emma McNairy, who was so sensational in last year’s West Edge Opera production of Berg’s Lulu, now sang the role of The Maid, a sycophantic confidante of the Duchess, and a journalist. As The Maid, Emma McNairy was mostly given only squeals and screeches to sing. Let us just say that Emma McNairy can squeal and screech with the best of them. The Maid is a total airhead, and her character is just as sex-crazed as the Duchess. The Maid gets it on with anyone and everyone in this opera. She has an explicit lesbian relationship with the Duchess, takes on most of the males who appear in the opera, and participates in a 3-way orgy with the Duchess and Duke, which climaxes, quite explicitly, when The Maid inserts a wine-bottle into the anus of the Duke, who punctuates his orgasm with a loud grunt. 

Incidentally, with Emma McNairy now playing a sex-crazed Maid just a year after she played the sex-crazed Lulu in Berg’s opera, some comparisons of Powder Her Face and Lulu are in order. The characters in Berg’s Lulu have quite a bit of mystery and ambiguity about them, and Lulu, especially, has noteworthy integrity of a very independent sort. In Powder Her Face, by contrast, none of the characters has the slightest mystery or ambiguity. They are cartoonish to the max. And only in the final fading moments of this opera, when the Duchess begs for someone to hold her and treat her kindly, does the Duchess’s character take on a slight glimmer of integrity, albeit of a pitiable sort. Likewise, musically speaking, Berg’s Lulu is a masterpiece of twelve-tone construction and angular lyricism while Adès’s Powder Her Face offers only an acerbic pastiche of tangos, popular love songs, jazzy saxophones, and assorted squeals, screeches, grunts and farts. 

Tenor Jonathan Blalock sang various minor parts, performing them with panache, and baritone Hadleigh Adams sang the Duke, as well as singing the hotel manager and the judge in the divorce case. Hadleigh Adams performed with vocal elegance and theatrical vigor in what must be a demanding and rather unpleasant role as the Duke. Finally, a word must be said about the lighting provided by Ray Oppenheimer. It was generally lurid, and usually overly bright. Particularly objectionable was a lime-green spotlight on Emma McNairy’s scantily clad derrière as she bent over and virtually mooned the audience in Act I. Furthermore, whenever the lighting was overly bright, the supertitles became faint and blurred. This happened in West Edge Opera’s recent production of The Cunning Little Vixen as well as here in Powder Her Face. West Edge Opera’s General Director Mark Streshinsky may be in love with Oakland’s abandoned train station as a venue for opera, but in none of the recent productions there has he solved the simple issue of making the supertitles readable. All in all, this West Edge Opera production of Powder Her Face struck me as one of the least enjoyable experiences I have ever had in an opera.