The Week



The Play’s the Thing … (aka Capoeira Politics)

Steve Martinot
Wednesday December 28, 2016 - 02:18:00 PM

A mirror for the new council, if you please

Mirrors are important. For a city council to see what actually happens in its meetings, more than “instant replay” is needed. One needs a mirror to at least see where one’s lipstick is smeared, and how visible one’s facial tics might be. One needs a longer-term replay, or re-presentation. To fabricate such a mirror for the Berkeley City Council meeting of Dec. 13, 2016, we shall have to make it out of dramatic performance.

The dramatic setting

The setting for this drama is the problem of homelessness in Berkeley. The city has made endless attempts to resolve it, including a Task Force, millions of dollars in services, and contracted with shelter providers. Yet all this has produced mainly resolve rather than resolution, and a continued paucity of shelters. Alternatively, the city has spent reportedly over $300,000 for police raids on a specific community of homeless people calling itself “First they Came For The Homeless” (FTCFTH). As an intentional community, organized and able to take care of itself and its members, FTCFTH exists as a political protest, placing itself (the collection of tents by which it withstands the elements) where it will call attention the fact that homelessness exists.

Though it is a form of protest, a political statement demanding a “redress of grievances,” this community has been assaulted by the police, and stamped out 12 times in the past year – its possessions seized and its members left by the city to lose their lives to exposure. Several constitutional rights have been trampled in the process.

Their demands are [1] housing (the long-term solution), [2] humane and respectful short-term solutions, such as shelters and toilets and showers, and [3] an immediate cessation to the police raids because their community is what is keeping them alive while the city develops and funds short-term solutions. -more-

Something happened on the way to the book tour

Carol Denney
Monday December 26, 2016 - 01:33:00 PM

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's article ("Rallies helping Trump", San Francisco Chronicle, 12-25-2016) conveniently forgets that another candidate utilized large rallies unaccountable to his political party; Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders, a long-time Independent, suddenly became a Democrat for this most recent election and used large rock-concert style rallies to undermine the most experienced, best qualified Democratic candidate - with Robert Reich's blessing. I have yet to hear any mea culpa from Reich, who ought to acknowledge his own role, however minor, in electing Trump.

But he's not alone. Sanders supporters, in a magnificent show of denial, pressured the Electoral College delegates to revolt, a tactic which not only unnecessarily underscored Trump's victory but made eliminating the Electoral College look more partisan, therefore making it ultimately more difficult to accomplish. This followed on the heels of the Green Party's desperate recount efforts, another strategic backfire. Trump had spent his entire campaign implying that the vote itself was "rigged", a banner his opposition is apparently now inexplicably willing to carry. -more-

New: Does it matter whether he lived or how he died?

John McMullen
Sunday December 25, 2016 - 05:47:00 PM

I read an article in the Washington Post about the birth of Jesus not being so important as his resurrection. Then they went on about whether Jesus really existed.

Wouldn't it be great if it relied on the teachings and example of the man, regardless of his existence, history, fact, or fiction? That we all loved our neighbor because of the METAPHOR of Jesus? This would preclude our having to believe in things that very likely didn't happen since all our experience tells us it isn't so, that no one actually comes back from the dead except in horror films, no one rises into the sky except in sci-fi. -more-

District attorney says New Year's Eve concert is a scam

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday December 23, 2016 - 01:03:00 PM

A concert that's being promoted in Berkeley on New Year's Eve that supposedly will benefit the Alameda County Food Bank is a scam, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office said Thursday. -more-



Is Berkeley becoming Scrooge City?

Becky O'Malley
Friday December 23, 2016 - 01:06:00 PM

A couple of days before Christmas, right here in Berkeley, a group of people protesting the city's inadequate provision for homeless residents are being regularly rousted from their tents and sleeping bags in various locations around the city. As readers of this site are well aware, I think this is an expensive and ultimately pointless exercise which serves no genuine public purpose. There’s just no good reason to turn Berkeley into Scrooge City for the holidays, as our city employees appear determined to do. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

What should we do in this season?

Saturday December 24, 2016 - 10:24:00 AM

Here's a seasonal message for the Berkeley powers-that-be. Stay tuned for the last verse,and it doesn't only apply to Christians. -more-

Public Comment

"Respite" Care? No.

Mike Zint
Friday December 23, 2016 - 01:30:00 PM

A few day ago, I was released from the hospital into a "care facility" through BACS. Last night was my third night here. This is supposed to be respite care. It is not medical at all. I still have not seen a nurse. -more-


Jagjit Singh
Friday December 23, 2016 - 01:25:00 PM

According to the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, one child is dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, victims of devastating air attacks by Saudi Arabia. Britain and the United States have sold Saudi Arabia billions of sophisticated weapons which have been used indiscriminately in its ongoing conflict with Houthis rebels causing devastating civilian deaths. In addition, the US continues to refuel Saudi planes allowing them to intensify bombing raids leading to more fatalities. Missile fragments have the unmistakable markings of British and American defense ordinances. This is fueling intense hostility against the coalition partners, the British, US and the Gulf States, who seem totally unconcerned by the ongoing human suffering. Over half a million children are suffering severe malnutrition and 2.2 million others are in urgent need of care. Over 58 hospitals have been bombed by coalition airstrikes. -more-

Russian Spying

Tejinder Uberoi
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 10:29:00 PM

Dirty tricks seem to be endemic to American politics. Recall the bugging of the Democratic Party offices by President Nixon or hiring a woman to strip naked at a Democratic press conference and scream her love for one the attendees. But Donald Trump and his Russian spymasters have accomplished the impossible – the theft of the American presidency and our democracy. It is a pity that senior Clinton officials failed to take action after an FBI agent issued repeated warnings that their computers were being hacked. The CIA failed to issue such warnings and block the intruders. Putin must have laughed uproariously at President Obama’s tepid response at their hacking admonishing them to “cut it out.” -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Dispatches 2016 News Awards

Conn Hallinan
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 10:17:00 PM

Each year Dispatches from the Edge gives awards to individuals, companies and governments that make reading the news a daily adventure. Here are the awards for 2016. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump and Hitler

Bob Burnett
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 10:21:00 PM

It's impossible to read Volker Ulrich's remarkable biography, "Hitler, Ascent: 1889-1939," without being struck by the parallels between Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Two-state solution delusion

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 09:50:00 PM

A fantasy persists of a Israeli-Palestine peace agreement leading to an independent Palestine state in the land Israel has occupied since the 1967 Mideast War. It must be clear by now to anyone paying attention that Israel has no intention of engaging in meaningful peace negotiations that would result in an independent Palestinian state. Rather, Israel is slowly squeezing the Palestinians where the ultimate goal is to take over the entire country by erecting a wall or fence, which cuts deep into Palestinian territory, joining large Jewish settlement blocks to Israel, further confining the Palestinians to isolated enclaves. -more-


Jack Bragen
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 10:35:00 PM

"…and so this is Christmas, and a happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one, without any fear…" -more-

Arts & Events

Voices of Music Perform Corelli, Vivaldi & Telemann

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday December 22, 2016 - 10:28:00 PM

Voices of Music, a Bay Area ensemble headed by Hanneke van Proosdij and David Tayler, gave a series of holiday concerts in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto featuring virtuoso concertos by Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1753), Georg Phillip Telemann (1681-1767), and Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). I attended their Berkeley concert at the Church of St. Mary Magdalen on Sunday evening, December 18. The concert opened with Corelli’s ever-popular Christmas concerto, the Pastorale, Opus 6, No. 8. Featured soloists in this Corelli concerto were violinists Carla Moore and Lisa Grodin, and cellist Elisabeth Reed. One of the themes used by Corelli is based on a tune traditionally played in Rome on Christmas Eve by shepherds on the Zampogna, a rustic bagpipe. -more-