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Press Release: Berkeley Police investigating fatal collision on Sacramento Street at Ada Street.

Berkeley Police via Nixle
Wednesday February 08, 2017 - 09:50:00 AM

On 2-8-17, 0707hrs, The Berkeley Police Department received a report of a collision between a bicycle and a vehicle on Sacramento Street at Ada Street. The bicyclist did not survive the collision. The driver of the vehicle stopped immediately and is cooperating with the investigation. 

As is normal procedure, the BPD Fatal Accident Investigation Team is responding to handle the investigation. Streets in the area will remain blocked as the investigation continues.

JoyX3 for Berkeley Symphony Orchestra Maestra

Monday February 06, 2017 - 02:29:00 PM

Exciting news from René Mandel, Executive Director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra:

"It is with the utmost joy that I share that [Conductor] Joana [Carneiro] has recently given birth to triplets! Their names are Zé (names after his father, of course), Concha and Rosario (named after their grandmothers). Joana sends her love to everybody. All are doing very well."

Updated: Holdup at Cafe Roma

Sunday February 05, 2017 - 11:12:00 PM

A participant in the NextDoor website reports that there was an armed robbery at Cafe Roma at Ashby and College about 9 pm Sunday night. The suspects are still at large.

Here is the report, with the writer's name withheld by the Planet to protect her, since she may be a witness.

'Three dudes came in and tried to steal laptops from the customers. They came in front door and tried to sweep through to the back door - but one of the students tackled one of the guys and then a big huge kerfuffle between the three hoods and a few customers happened. Then a gun was pulled. They did get away with one laptop. Police are here now. I have reported this information to the police."

As of noon on Monday, no information about this incident had been provided to the public by the Berkeley Police via Nixle.

Press Release: Deakin Street deaths caused by carbon monoxide

From the Berkeley Police Department via Nixle
Friday February 03, 2017 - 06:38:00 PM

The Berkeley Police Department confirms the death of Roger and Valerie Morash was caused by acute carbon monoxide intoxication and believe their deaths was a tragic accident.  

It took some time to determine the cause – autopsy findings, toxicology reports, necropsy, and other tests – however; our goal was to provide the family of the decedents with the most accurate answers regarding the death of their loved ones. During the course of the investigation Berkeley police investigators collected various items within the apartment to test for toxins. The State of California Public Health Department determined none were present. Necropsy examinations were performed on the couple’s two cats. Results determined the cause of death was carbon monoxide.  

Investigators are still trying to identify the specific source of the carbon monoxide. Out of an abundance of caution, investigators reached out to the landlord to coordinate tests and inspections for Unit-4. In order to conduct the tests in the safest manner possible, investigators wanted to arrange for the building to be unoccupied. Investigators did not order anyone to evacuate their apartments. The proposed tests have been cancelled while the Department works through the residents’ concerns. Investigators are focused on trying to determine the source of the carbon monoxide in order to provide peace of mind to the families and residents of the building. 

The Berkeley Police Department extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Roger and Valerie Morash. 

We would like to thank the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau, the State of California Public Health Department-Microbial Diseases and Pathogen Section, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the Berkeley City Animal Care Services, and the Berkeley Fire Department for their assistance in this investigation.

Protest caused over $100k in damages to UC Berkeley campus

Scott Morris (BCN)
Thursday February 02, 2017 - 09:17:00 PM

Protests against far-right writer and speaker Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday caused more than $100,000 in damage to the University of California at Berkeley campus, not counting more than a dozen businesses that were vandalized in the city's downtown area and Telegraph corridor, university officials said today. 

Despite the destruction and violence, there was only one arrest by university police. City of Berkeley police, who monitored the demonstration once it left the university, said they made no arrests. 

Two other people were arrested this morning when they attacked two Berkeley College Republicans, who organized the event, during an interview. The university released few details about the incident or the two who were arrested but said they were not affiliated with the campus. There were several assaults of Yiannopoulos supporters reported Wednesday. 

Small brigades of students organized to clean up parts of the campus this morning, university officials said. 

The damage to the campus included a burned generator, smashed windows on the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, where the event was scheduled to be held before it was abruptly canceled, and paint splashed across the steps and on Sproul Plaza, according to the university. The generator fire spread to a nearby tree. 

The protests drew national attention, including from President Donald Trump, who threatened to pull federal funding for the university. 

"If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?" Trump wrote on Twitter this morning. 

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, quickly hit back against Trump's tweet, issuing a statement denouncing the violence but promising to stand up to any attempt Trump makes to withdraw funding from the university. 

"Milo Yiannopoulos has made a career of inflaming racist, sexist and nativist sentiments. Berkeley has a proud history of dissent and students were fully within their rights to protest peacefully," Lee said. "However, I am disappointed by the unacceptable acts of violence last night which were counterproductive and dangerous." 

Lee continued, "President Donald Trump cannot bully our university into silence. Simply put, President Trump's empty threat to cut funding from UC Berkeley is an abuse of power. As a senior member of the education funding subcommittee, I will continue to stand up to President Trump's overreach and defend the rights of our students and faculty." 

The protests escalated quickly on the UC Berkeley campus ahead of Yiannopoulos's planned speech at 8 p.m. UC Berkeley police ordered the event cancelled at 6 p.m. after protesters breached barricades, smashed windows at the venue and set a large fire on Sproul Plaza. 

Tense and sometimes violent protests have followed Yiannopoulos across the country. A UC Davis event was also canceled amid protests. A man was shot and critically wounded outside a speaking engagement in Seattle, reportedly by a Yiannopoulos supporter. 

Prior to the event, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks affirmed that the Berkeley College Republicans had a right to invite Yiannopoulos but discouraged them from doing so, calling him a "troll" and "provocateur" and saying that Yiannopoulos's rhetoric is at odds with the university's values. 

Dirks sent a new letter to the campus community today, condemning the violence and blaming it on a small group of outside agitators. 

"Last night the Berkeley campus was invaded by more than 100 armed individuals clad in Ninja-like uniforms who utilized paramilitary tactics to engage in violent destructive behavior designed to shut the event down," Dirks wrote. 

Once the event was canceled, protesters stayed in the area, ignoring repeated calls for them to disperse from university police officers making announcements from a second floor balcony. Despite threats that chemical agents and batons would be used, there were few police present on the plaza to enforce the order. 

Some event attendees stuck around and mingled with the estimated 1,500 protesters. A man wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat had his hat slapped away and was hit with an egg. Another attendee was doused with water as the crowd demanded he denounce racism and Trump. 

University police said that some members of the crowd were attacked by protesters and then rescued by police. UC police said there were six reports of minor injuries. 

One witness recounted seeing a man in a Make America Great Again hat hit with a pole, knocking him to the ground and leaving a pool of blood on the plaza. Police emerged from the building and took him away, according to the witness, who declined to be identified. h The crowd took to the streets and was allowed to move around the campus area and downtown Berkeley unfettered. Masked protesters smashed several downtown businesses and looted a Starbucks near campus. 

John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, said that at least 10 businesses were damaged by the protest. Stuart Baker of the Telegraph Business Improvement District said that five businesses in that area were damaged, mainly with graffiti. 

Some of the black-clad protesters tried to intimidate bystanders who snapped photos of the destruction, slapping phones out of people's hands and pushing them away. 

Reports of fighting in the crowd continued throughout the night. Berkeley police said there were three or four injuries from fights and reports of a vehicle hitting a pedestrian near the intersection of Telegraph and Durant avenues. Berkeley police said today that the driver involved contacted them, but no one has come forward to say they were hit by a car. 

Despite the violence and destruction, protesters encountered little police presence until they returned to campus and lines of riot police prevented them from reentering Sproul Plaza. UC Berkeley officials said the campus called in assistance from other UC campuses throughout the state as well as from Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. 

City of Berkeley police spokesman Officer Byron White said in an email that in dealing with the march, the city's primary objective was the protection of life. 

"After the demonstration left the property of the University, BPD had to block several city blocks for persons in the roadway, provide security for medical personnel to and from injured persons, and monitor the march through the city streets," White said. 

In a statement this morning, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said, "Unfortunately, last night, a small minority of the protesters who had assembled in opposition to a speaking engagement featuring a prominent white nationalist engaged in violence and property damage." 

"They also provided the ultra-nationalist far right exactly the images they want to use to try to discredit the vast majority of peaceful protesters in Berkeley and across America who are deeply concerned about where our country is headed," Arreguin said. 

Photos to accompany this story can be seen here.  

Press Release: Campus investigates, assesses damage from Feb. 1 violence

Gretchen Kell, UC Berkeley Media relations
Thursday February 02, 2017 - 04:03:00 PM

The day after a scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos erupted in violence and ended before it began, campus officials condemned the actions of agitators who invaded the campus and disrupted nearly 1,500 peaceful protesters. They also praised small groups of Berkeley students who organized themselves to begin cleaning up debris. 

UCPD has launched an investigation of last night’s riotous actions, instigated by some 150 masked individuals with paramilitary tactics, including hurling Molotov cocktails, setting fires, throwing fireworks at police, pushing barricades into windows and damaging campus and city property. 

“The violence was an attack on our fundamental values, which are maintaining and nurturing open inquiry and an inclusive, civil society — the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation,” said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks. “We are now, and will remain in the future, completely committed to free speech not only as a vital component of our campus identity but as essential to our educational mission.” 

He added, “We appreciate the efforts of our police and Student Affairs staff to protect the rights of both speaker and protesters and their commitment to public safety and minimizing injuries.” 

Sgt. Sabrina Reich, UCPD public information officer, said campus police made one arrest last night of a non-student, on charges of failure to disperse. Officers made several dispersal announcements to the crowd assembled outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, where Yiannopoulos had been invited speak at 8 p.m. by the Berkeley College Republicans. 

This morning, two Berkeley College Republicans were attacked while conducting an interview in front of Sproul Hall by two men not affiliated with the campus. The men were arrested by UCPD, which is investigating the incident and did not yet have more details. 

UCPD is compiling video from Wednesday’s violence and will be reviewing it to try to identify suspects, Reich added. She encouraged anyone with information or who may have been a victim to contact police at (510) 642-6760. 

While police are aware that while some members of the crowd that had gathered outside the student union on Wednesday were hurt, Reich said, “no one has come forward and made a police report regarding being assaulted or injured.” UCPD rescued multiple individuals in the crowd who were being attacked, trapped or injured. 

An early estimate of campus damage is around $100,000, according to campus officials, and includes fixing broken windows at the MLK Student Union, replacing a generator that caught fire and was destroyed, sand-blasting paint off the concrete steps of the student union, cleaning up graffiti and possibly replacing some pavers and trees on Sproul Plaza. One tree on the plaza was badly singed by fire. 

The city of Berkeley’s Downtown Business Association is reporting damage to more than 10 businesses including several banks, a Starbucks, a TargetExpress and Sprint and T-Mobile stores. 

Already last night, an ad hoc group of UC Berkeley students who organized through social media and word of mouth decided to start picking up the broken pieces of their campus with brooms and paper bags, and they returned this morning around 5 a.m. to continue working. 

Among them was William Morrow, president of the Associated Students of the University of California, who said the cleanup “was a real statement that the students of this campus care about this campus — about the buildings, the people, about maintaining a campus atmosphere that’s inviting to the rest of the world, so it can engage with it.” 

“Last night was not reflective of that,” he continued. “What students were partaking in was a peaceful protest and anticipating a sharing of opinions and a dance party, but outside agitators infiltrated our community and didn’t treat it with the respect for our historic tradition of nonviolence.” 

The campus also has received reports that Berkeley students took it upon themselves to try to protect Lower Sproul Plaza and privately owned shops on Bancroft Way from being vandalized.

UC Berkeley student one of three plaintiffs suing Trump over travel ban

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Friday February 03, 2017 - 11:34:00 AM

A student at the University of California at Berkeley, another at Stanford University and one at a San Diego college filed suit Thursday challenging President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries.  

Plaintiffs Hadil Al-Mowafak of Yemen, an unidentified Iranian UC Berkeley Ph.D. student and Grossmont College student and Yemeni citizen Wasim Ghaleb claim that the order violates the First Amendment, equal protection and due process rights, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.  

The executive order is directed at citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, which are Yemen, Iran, Irag, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Libya.  

Al-Mowafak is a freshman at Stanford who is married to a Yemeni man without a U.S. Visa. The only way she can visit him is if she visits Yemen and the executive order prevents that.  

The UC Berkeley student has accepted a job with a firm in Silicon Valley and fears losing the opportunity to graduate and losing the job, according to court documents. 

Ghaleb is now stuck in outside of the U.S. because of the executive order. He traveled on Jan. 15 to Saudi Arabia to visit family and planned to return two weeks later to start the spring semester. 

The suit, which was filed on behalf of the students by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, also seeks class action status. 

The class action status seeks to stop the executive order from being enforced against the plaintiffs who include the three students and other citizens of the seven countries affected by the president's executive order.  

The suit also describes the plaintiffs as those "who currently are, or recently have been, lawfully present in California and who, but for the January 27, 2017, Executive Order" could travel to the U.S. or leave and return.  

"The federal government has made it clear that it intends to favor Christian immigrants over Muslims in making decisions about who to detain, interrogate, deport, or entirely refuse entry," Julia Mass, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said in a statement.  

"We are a diverse society. American Muslims, immigrants and U.S.-born alike, are part of the fabric of this nation." 

Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay is also listed as a plaintiff because it seeks to resettle and provide services to refugees. The executive order also suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and bans refugees from Syria indefinitely.  

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, which is listed as a defendant in the suit, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

State Bar encourages volunteer lawyers to help with immigration and other concerns

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Friday February 03, 2017 - 08:19:00 AM

The State Bar of California is urging attorneys in the Golden State to volunteer to help people who need a lawyer but can't afford one for immigration issues and other problems. 

The agency also has suggestions of resources for volunteer lawyers and for people looking for legal aid. 

The State Bar, headquartered in San Francisco, is in charge of licensing California's nearly 190,000 active lawyers and investigating misconduct. The state also has nearly 57,000 inactive lawyers who have stopped practicing for reasons such as retirement. 

Volunteer legal work is known as "pro bono" service, meaning "for the public good."  

The bar's praise and encouragement for pro bono work came this week after numerous volunteer lawyers seeking to help refugees and immigrants converged on airports around the nation last weekend following the Jan. 27 announcement of President Trump's travel ban.  

"We applaud the recent wave of attorneys throughout California looking to provide pro bono legal services around immigration and other legal concerns," bar President James Fox and Executive Director Elizabeth Parker said in an announcement Wednesday. 

"The State Bar of California strongly supports access to legal services as a core part of our public protection mission." 

"We support the promise of justice for all, including for low-income people who too often have no choice but to navigate the legal system alone," the two officials said. 

Trump's executive order prohibits refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days, blocks refugees from all countries for 120 days and excludes Syrians indefinitely. 

Airports that lawyers came to last weekend to help stranded travelers included those in San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles. 

As part of its support for pro bono service, the bar has a longstanding policy of waiving the usual fee for lawyers who transfer from inactive to active service for the purpose of volunteering, Fox and Parker noted. That fee would be $412 for the year starting March 1, according to bar spokeswoman Laura Ernde. 

Attorneys who are accepted to the Pro Bono Practice Program must work with a qualified legal services provider, certified lawyer referral service, or court-based self-help center, the bar said. 

Fox and Parker said resources for volunteer lawyers include the Pro Bono Opportunities page at the State Bar website at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/AboutUs/CenteronAccesstoJustice/ProBonoOpportunities.aspx. 

People who need a lawyer but can't afford one can find information about legal aid organizations in California at the bar's website at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LegalAidServices.aspx. 

The State Bar is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court. Fox, elected president by the bar's board of governors last year, was San Mateo County district attorney from 1982 to 2010. 

At least nine lawsuits challenging aspects of the travel ban have been filed in federal courts around the nation in the past week. Several U.S. judges, including one in Los Angeles, have issued temporary restraining orders seeking to limit the implementation of the order until further legal proceedings are held.



Competing protests rock Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday February 03, 2017 - 08:58:00 AM
Carol Denney

Well, the "President" Dumpf jobs program is finally underway! Thanks to his surrogate’s provocative teaser/performance on Wednesday, there is work galore in downtown Berkeley, sweeping up glass, restoring windows, cleaning off graffiti.

The most evocative of those was the one sprayed on the pristine walls of the U.C. Art museum: "Liberals get the bullet too…Fuck art". It's one the "president" would endorse.

Swell, ain’t it?

And the bad boy didn’t even have to deliver his talk to get ink. Chances are, of course, that this was part of the plan, and the Black Bloc boobies leaped willingly into the trap.

They’re peas in a pod, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ronald Rumpf. And this caper seems to have been orchestrated by one of my old-time faves, David Horowitz.

Yes, that David Horowitz, once Berkeley's own. I knew him way back when he was reputed to be a genuine big-C Communist. He went on to write a left-activist paen to the student movement of the early 60s. and became a key member of the Free Speech Movement.

He lived in Berkeley for a long time trying to get a toehold in reputable journalism with little success. His perfectly nice kids went to school with my kids. But the worm has turned (to add another metaphor to the string) and now David’s moved to LA to become a henchman of the alt-right. Now he runs an outfit called—wait for it—the Horowitz Freedom Center. Sort of like the Hitler-Stalin pact, isn’t it?

Much to my—I was going to say surprise, but disgust is more appropriate, a little google led me to this Tuesday January 31 story on Breitbart.com, a sewer into whose depths I had never previously descended:

MILO Launches Horowitz Freedom Center Campaign Against ‘Sanctuary Campuses’

Here’s the lede:

“MILO and the David Horowitz Freedom Center have teamed up to take down the growing phenomenon of 'sanctuary campuses' that shelter illegal immigrants from being deported.

“MILO will kick start the campaign with a speech at the University of California’s Berkeley campus on February 1, where he, backed by the Freedom Center, will call for the withdrawal of federal grants and the prosecution of university officials who endanger their students with their policies, starting with UC President and former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano and Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

“The so-called ‘sanctuary movement’ is a concerted effort by left-wing administrations in major cities to thwart the purposes of the Patriot Act, undermine federal immigration law, and cripple the efforts of the Department of Homeland security to protect American citizens from terrorist threats,” said David Horowitz, founder and CEO of the Freedom Center. “Thanks to the efforts of left-wing activists and administrators, this seditious movement has now spread to our colleges and universities.”
And the next day, right on cue, after Wednesday’s fun’s was well underway, Dumpf tweeted: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Do you think they planned this outcome? Oh, surely not…and yet… 


I didn’t feel like going to the performance, but thanks to an intrepid cameraperson on buzzfeed.com, I saw a lot of the street action live-streamed in the comfort of home. I posted quick summaries of what I saw as I watched it on Wednesday night, but later a fellow viewer ( writing as “Lia Maris”) posted this comment on Buzzfeed which captured perfectly what I also observed: 


“Saying this group represents Democrats is like saying the Canadian terrorist who attacked a mosque earlier this week represents Republicans. None of us - on either side - wants this to be the face of our parties, and it isn't fair or honest to paint either group that way.  

“Did everyone just ignore the part where the anarchists wrote ‘fuck liberals too, fuck art’ and similar messages towards the very end outside the art building? We just watched a livestream showing a group of what looked to be a couple dozen (maybe 30 at most in the parts I watched) masked people dressed all in black following along the edge of a much, much larger crowd of students that wore no masks, were dressed in regular clothes, and seemed to be just as preoccupied/concerned in documenting this as the cameraman filming it. Many of the students looked a bit bewildered watching as the people dressed all in black systematically traveled from one spot to the next smashing things—almost all of the students I just saw on live film did not cheer the anarchists on, or try to hide their faces when the camera man came through clearly holding his phone up to record (meaning they were not acting as though they were part of the anarchists' actions and did not have any impulse to hide). 

“In a way, it was like watching a show fall flat—the people dressed in black were going for hype, and other than their own bullhorn and some loud music playing elsewhere, it was a weird sort of awkward chaos that wasn't being received or reflected by the people standing around watching it unfold. There may have been more groups of anarchists spread out around this protest, I have no idea from watching the live stream, but I am disappointed that so many people commenting here who also watched that with their own eyes are acting as if we just watched students or regular protestors in action. 

“Clearly, the people in black and masks were operating with coordination and a completely different agenda than that of the literal millions of people we've seen marching since his election. This group on camera was openly hostile to ‘liberals’ as much as anyone as they yelled about banks, corporations, etc. 

“Some other thoughts: I do not understand how this reporter filming was able to calmly walk along filming this until his battery ran out towards the end (right when he was starting to get pushback from the anarchists he was walking with), but somehow the campus police and other police were unable to locate them or take steps to stop the couple dozen anarchists. It gives the impression of being strangely staged; given the fact that alt-right supporters have tried to show up and bait protestors in other areas over the last few weeks, it makes the whole thing seem a bit off.” 


I think she nailed it. 


From my perspective there were two distinct actions underway on Wednesday night, operating in parallel. One was being carried out by the normal concerned-citizen student demonstrators, the ones described as “a bit bewildered”. Theirs was non-violent, cheery even, with a band and dancing in the street. 

The other crowd, not really that many of them, was something else altogether: cleverly costumed, expertly choreographed, dangerously armed with heavy stakes. A reliable friend of mine, a mature African-American woman, a Berkeley graduate with a law degree who is a veteran of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, recognized them immediately from previous actions, as she took part in the Sproul Plaza protest which preceded the downtown Berkeley rampage. 

She described them as all White, most looking to be over 30, and overwhelmingly male. This was not the Women’s March. 

(And let’s talk about cultural appropriation. Genuine Blacks can complain that the Black Bloc bullies are trying to hijack their good name.) 

She knew from previous experience that they were there to make trouble, and she warned the young students in the crowd to back off before something happened. Which it did, all too soon—she watched as some hapless fellow was beaten with the big sticks carried by two black-clothed people. 

It sure looked like a script to me. It’s likely that the unholy trinity of Horowitz, Yiannopoulos and Mumpf (most likely represented by his henchman Steve Bannon, Milo’s old boss at Breitbart) cooked this whole thing up to discredit their opponents. 

As a veteran of civil rights and anti-war protests myself, I’ve seen what we used to call “agents provocateurs” in action, not to mention less provocative but still dangerous crypto-moles. It’s painfully apparent that some of the Black Blocheads had been hired to make trouble, and we can guess who's picking up the tab. 

The rest of them? Testosterone poisoning for the most part. That’s what wars have always been about: young guys with too much time on their hands who enjoy dressing up in outfits and making trouble. Adrenaline junkies, most of them. 

There are more elaborate explanations of the violent anarchists. Here’s one that makes some sense: Who Are These Protesters In Black And Why Are They Smashing Things? The gist of it seems to be that our society doesn’t pay much attention to your demands unless you smash some stuff. 

Or maybe, the author says, they smash stuff “because anarchists actually oppose hierarchical government and private property in all their forms, and they don't care that property damage doesn't play well in polite society.” That too. And forget about free speech. 

The writer points out that Seattle anarchists were anti-globalization before Humpf adopted it as a campaign issue (with Bernie Sanders leading the choir, but that's a different discussion). 

I wondered, as did several readers who wrote and called me yesterday, where the police were when all this was going on. I didn’t see them in the live stream, and my friend on campus said the U.C. police mostly stayed inside the student union building watching the events in the courtyard. There is a rumor that UCPD had asked City of Berkeley Police Department officers to stay out of the campus action. This morning the UCPD union’s lawyer claimed on the radio that they were not told what to do by whoever. Maybe. 

When the marchers swung off campus toward downtown, BPD might have tried to stop them, but they didn’t. As I think about it in hindsight, that might have been a practical decision. Ultimate cost: some broken windows, some mess, not much more. No broken heads with hospital charges, no costly trials, no huge police overtime bills. 

Better the police didn’t take the Black Bloc’s bait this time, perhaps? But how hard would it be to isolate the worst vandals and arrest them? I’m not sure. 

What about the free speech part of this performance, now lost in the noise? I stand with the Free Speech Movement veterans whose letter on the subject appeared in a previous Planet: the University should not have cancelled the talk in advance. But I also believe with Justice Brandeis that the best way to counter speech that you don’t like is with more speech. Violence makes it hard to do that. 

Here’s a compromise strategy: When UCB determined there was a credible threat of a violent reaction, the Yiannopoulos speech could have been live-streamed from an undisclosed location, as many academic seminars are these days, disseminating his ideas but not presenting his corporeal manifestation which was the real target of the protestors. With, of course, a rebuttal and/or questions from viewers. That might have calmed things down. 

The mainstream media, overburdened as they are with these days with improbable events, seemed not to have grasped that there were two protests in parallel on Wednesday (though local news site Berkeleyside.com was a notable exception.) For example, the story on NPR’s All Things Considered, in a classic example of false equivalency, used a pair of on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other student voices, which lent credibility to Gumpf’s phony attempt to link peaceful student demonstrators with fires started by anarchists. Don’t blame the students for what the invaders did. 

As my friend the retired journalism prof said when she forwarded the NPR link to me: “Did this seem—well—under researched? No info on WHEN the university canceled the speech and WHO were setting the fires?” 

Indeed. The San Francisco Chronicle wasn’t much better on Thursday, though they had access to the same accurate Bay City News stories which the Planet ran, if they’d chosen to run them. In today’s Chronicle a lot of space is devoted to parsing the free speech question and how it affects federal funding, but very little to how to deal with deliberate disrupters, which promises to be an ongoing problem. 

The newsies should really be more careful to get the full story. I know it’s hard. We’re all tired after this awful week. 


In your editorial of Feb. 3rd titled “Competing Protests Rock Berkeley” you refer to David Horowitz as “…a key member of the Free Speech Movement”.

The Free Speech Movement Archive (www.fsm-a.org) has no record of Horowitz as participating in the Free Speech Movement, and none of our board members who are veterans of the FSM have any recollections of his participating. As far as anyone can tell he was not present in the fall of 1964.

The Archives exist in order to keep the record correct - let’s do so here, please.

Lee Felsenstein
President, Free Speech Movement Archives







The Editor's Back Fence

New: Don't miss this: Shellmound EIR rejected by LPC

Wednesday February 08, 2017 - 11:07:00 PM

By Tom Lochner in the East Bay Times

Public Comment

South Shattuck residents still waiting to be noticed

Thomas Ferrell
Thursday February 02, 2017 - 10:51:00 PM

Holdovers from the Bates administration on the city staff are still running government, accommodating developers, and thwarting the public.

The controversial Berkeley Honda proposal to shoehorn a repair shop/dealership into the old Berkeley Bowl building was approved on September 8 by the old ZAB with the help of an accommodating planning staff, and the votes of 4 new or substitute members. Given the makeup of the old ZAB and the anti-neighborhood bias of the Bates-era staff, no one was surprised by the outcome.

The neighborhood appealed the ZAB decision, as everyone expected. Then an election happened.

The new mayor Jesse Arreguin smartly judged that the public hearing for this controversial issue should be the only agenda item, and so it is. The hearing for the neighborhood appeal is set for Tuesday February 7 at 6:00 p.m.

So far, so good, right? We'll hash the thing out on the merits, and may the best arguments win. Not so fast, folks—what's this

Notices for the special Council meeting list different public hearing dates (March 7, February 7) on the front and back of the card. They were mailed 2 days later than required by ordinance. Does this jeopardize the hearing? The appellant needs to know. (The appellant of record is 45-year neighborhood resident Louise Rosenkrantz, representing a large group of neighbors who have been working on the issue for 2 years.) 

Then this happened: 

1) January 30. Rosenkrantz tells planning director Carol Johnson that the neighbors need immediate clarification. Large outreach meeting for neighbors is planned for that night. What should interested neighbors be told? Leaflets need to be changed, email contacts alerted. Deadline is imminent for documents to reach the City Council before the hearing. Can city staff provide clarity? Fast? 

2) Johnson emails Rosenkrantz that the notice is definitely "invalid" and that staff are looking into "alternate dates." Rosenkrantz and the neighbors announce to supporters that the February 7 hearing will not take place. 

3) January 31 (4:13 p.m.) City staff reverses itself, the February 7 hearing is on—despite the self-contradicting notice and the untimely mailing. Rosenkrantz learns this minutes before the deadline for submitting documents to the Council. Confusion. The document deadline passes, neighbors protest. 

4) February 1 (5:46 p.m.) Staff responds to the neighborhood protest: "The City Clerk has verified that the notices left their office on January 23rd and were received at the Post Office on January 24th. These dates are compliant with the minimum 14-day advance notice." 

Hmmm. The Post Office was open January 24 and 25. The postmark was apparently applied by a Neopost postage meter—an office device—presumably before delivery to the Post Office. Yet the cards are all postmarked January 26. 

Is the city clerk's account truth or fiction? Is the notification confusion, and the conflicting staff advice, accidental or intentional? The effect is likely to depress neighborhood participation—similar to shifting a hot agenda item to the midnight hour, as happened at ZAB. 

Staff has been aggressively pushing the Honda project from the start, altering its own recommendations to accommodate Honda's wishes, and crafting bizarre interpretations of zoning code. 

At the September 8 ZAB hearing, public testimony did not begin until 10:30 p.m. Dozens of neighbors, many in frail health or with young children, filled out speaker cards but could not stay long enough to participate. The hearing did not conclude until nearly 1:30 a.m. “Things are somewhat devolving as fatigue sets in,” a reporter tweeted during the Board’s deliberations. 

So, what explains the current strange notification snafu? And why the contradictory guidance from city staff? 

Or, to reframe the question: will neighborhood organizations, and a public that supported and campaigned for the progressive slate, ever find responsive service from the professional staff? Can the progressive mayor and council majority control a staff trained to advance the pro-developer Bates agenda? 






Trump Administration Risks War with Iran Over Nothing

William O. Beeman, New America Media Commentary
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:53:00 AM

The Trump administration appears to be renewing the possibility of violent confrontation with Iran using a questionable pretext—Iran’s testing of conventional missiles. 

No one in the U.S. government or the press seems to understand that Iranian ballistic missiles do not fall under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA (the "Iran Deal"). The JCPOA has nothing at all to do with conventional weapons, only nuclear technology. 

The current controversy over Iran's missile testing has entirely to do with interpretations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (20 July 2015), which endorsed the JCPOA after it had been ratified. 

UNSC Resolution 2231 stated flatly that ALL of the previously existing UN sanctions against Iran were terminated, viz. 

"(a) The provisions of resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015) shall be terminated" (p. 3 of the full document) 

The current objections to Iran's missile testing has to do with a clause in Resolution 2231 that "calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” until eight years after the implementation of the deal. 

This clause can’t be found on the UNSC web page announcing the agreement to the press. 

It is buried on page 99 of the 104 page actual Resolution 2231 document with annexes. 

The agreement does NOT prohibit Iran from developing conventional weapons or missiles at all. It also only "calls upon" Iran to not develop technology capable of carrying such nuclear weapons. It does not flat-out prohibit even this development. 

The language "calls upon" was deliberate because the other P5+1 signatories to the JCPOA (Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) would not endorse a stronger "prohibition." Moreover, the provision written this way provides no prescription for punishment if the provision is violated--which Iran claims has not happened. This means that there cannot be any UN imposed sanctions on Iran without an additional resolution. 

It is notable that, according to experts, Iran never had, nor has today a nuclear weapons program, so there are no nuclear weapons that could be mounted on such missiles. 

Anything the United States does in retaliation is in fact a response NOT to the JCPOA, to which the US is a signatory, but rather to some perceived violation of this UN Resolution. The United States in doing this is essentially engaging in a remarkable activity--cherry picking the violations of UN Resolutions that it likes and ignoring violations of UN Resolutions that it doesn't like, and deciding to act entirely independently of the UN, meting out its own free-boot punishment. Once again, the United States is singling out and targeting Iran on highly questionable grounds without any real authority. 

The tiny issue on which the US objection rests is whether the Iranian missiles are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Iran says: no! The United States (and Israel) say "maybe," because they can't know for sure whether this is the case. In the latest missile test, the missile blew up, so no one can say one way or the other. 

This is splitting hairs in the most egregious way. The Trump administration continues the tradition of the hawks in Congress to do anything and everything to antagonize Iran. In this regard Iran's leaders have been remarkably calm. Hawkish legislators in the United States would like to completely eliminate Iran's conventional weapons AND its overall missile program. Iran has all kinds of reasons for wanting to maintain this technology including satellite launchings. 

Today the Trump administration's sanctions proved to be wimpy at best, targeting “multiple entities and individuals involved in procuring technology and/or materials to support Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as for acting for or on behalf of, or providing support to, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force." Since there were already existing sanctions against such individuals, this amounts to virtually no "punishment" at all. However, President Trump's insistence that "nothing has been taken off the table" ominously suggests some kind of military action. 

Iran responded with something much more symbolically effective, reportedly barring the U.S. wrestling team from competition in the Freestyle World Cup Competition on February 16-17. 

It is dismaying that the Trump administration would risk violent action over such a small matter, but hatred of Iran in U.S. Government circles is so ubiquitous, rationality seems never to prevail, and as can be seen, provides Iran with the opportunity to retaliate in ways that can provide much more effective press. 

William O. Beeman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He has conducted research in Iran for over 40 years. His most recent forthcoming book is Understanding Iran from Ancient Times to the Islamic Republic.

Should California go alone?

Bernie Quigley
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:38:00 AM

The idea that something wonderful and mythic happens to a plain and ordinary man when he becomes president is magical thinking. When it is finally realized that President Donald Trump is a fraud the entire world economy could collapse. Perhaps California is on the right track in trying to find a better path; to go alone perhaps, or to find a way to limit influence of a federal government out of control, run amok or not to be trusted. 

What is to be done? Should California make an attempt to secede? It is possible? Is it constitutional and is that part important? Did Thomas Jefferson ask the king for permission to separate? Why should California ask anyone outside its fences permission to do anything it has not agreed to by treaty or contract within the current and rising generation? 

The New York Times has recently used the phrase “resistance”; the “California resistance”. It has a certain swagger to it. And Governor Jerry Brown promises to resist and invites other states and regions to join in with him in resistance to the Trump administration. 

What will happen next? Will Jerry Falwell, Jr. lead a federal task force on higher ed policy as the Chronicle of Higher Education’s headline suggests? And today is only Tuesday. Perhaps Brown’s call to go alone has been a long time coming. 

Centralized government may have made good sense prior to World War II, as we were still getting organized here in field and factory. As J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur wrote in Letters from an American Farmerin 1782, "Landing on this great continent is like going to sea, they must have a compass, some friendly directing needle, or else they will uselessly err and wander for a long time, even with a fair wind." 

But why should California's imagination, creativity and welfare be stunted in its involvement with other states and on the international stage by a historically antiquated and sclerotic vision of central planners 2,800 miles away in Washington (farther than Tibet is from Beijing)? Today Californians have more in common with Germany and Quebec than they do with Oklahoma and Texas. 

What are California’s options? To secede? To harass? To bring a states rights challenge to the federals at every turn as so many of the red states have been doing these past eight years? To join Canada is some Minnesotans have suggested they do? To divide into two states or multiple states? Perhaps a new approach should be looked at; multiple California regions in a parliamentary system united under a representative figure head as president and another as prime minister. Maybe former governors and other worthies should form together in an ad hoc council to discuss and form an original council of elders for fresh thinking. 

Surely former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger should be consulted. There was hardly a better match between man and place in the new world than Arnold Schwarzenegger and California. He might today be considered to have been well ahead of his time. He urged California to go its own way before it became cool to do so in a blue, liberal state. The federal government hovering like a UFO overhead often seemed to him a useless nuisance as it does to Brown and other officials today. 

In 2007 Gar Alperovitz, a progressive historian and scholar then at the University of Maryland, looked to the new California governor as a singular innovator. He wrote then in The New York Times: “SOMETHING interesting is happening in California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have grasped the essential truth that no nation — not even the United States — can be managed successfully from the center once it reaches a certain scale. Moreover, the bold proposals that Mr. Schwarzenegger is now making for everything from universal health care to global warming point to the kind of decentralization of power which, once started, could easily shake up America’s fundamental political structure … Governor Schwarzenegger is quite clear that California is not simply another state.” 

“We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta,” Schwarzenegger declared in his state of the state address on January 9, 2007. “We are a good and global commonwealth.” 

The 21st century can be the Golden Century for the Golden State, Schwarzenegger said. 

There is still time. For California and perhaps for the rest of us. Because this time if America does not start again in California it will not start at all.

Royal decrees

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:36:00 AM

Hardly a week has elapsed since President Trump and Vice-President Vladimir Putin took over the reins of power. Trump seems to have forgotten his criticism of his predecessor’s “unilateral edicts” and “power grabs”. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley was equally critical of Obama once stating: “The president looks more and more like a king that the Constitution was designed to replace.” 

As the king pumps out executive orders at breakneck speed, to “make America small again” advancing a racist, white supremacist agenda demonizing African Americans, Mexicans and 1.6 billion Muslims. Glaring omitted from his Muslim ban are majority Muslim nations where he has business interests. In an Orwellian move, the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been removed from the National Security Council and replaced by ultra-racist, Bannon. 

All these actions have been accompanied by silent acquiesce by the sycophants of the Republican Party who bow their head in supplication to their vaunted leader much like King Henry VIII and the czars. 

Trump has unleashed all the dark energy pitting Americans against one another, rapidly turning America into a black hole sucking all the goodness and tolerance which once made America great. But then again, something unusual is happening. Trump’s latest boastful decree banning Muslims from our shores seems to have woken up our ‘Lady of Liberty’ who has stopped weeping in response to a huge outpouring of support to those stranded at U.S. airports.

Immigration Ban

Bruce Joffe
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:16:00 AM

Democrats condemn the immigration ban on seven countries as being anti-Muslim, antithetical to our American values. Republicans defend it saying it only bans immigrants from seven of 19 Muslim-majority countries. Democrats point out that nobody from those seven countries has ever caused a terror incident in our country, and that many countries of terrorists' origin just happen to be places where the President has private business dealings. Republicans answer that the list came from the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, Republicans and Democrats do agree that the immigration ban was poorly planned, insufficiently vetted, and incompetently managed. Green-card holders, valid visa recipients, and people with dual citizenship should not have been banned. Given then-candidate-Trump's many statements about excluding Muslims, and the public admission that he commissioned Rudy Giuliani to find a "legal way" to make such a restriction, the appearance of immoral discrimination overwhelms whatever words are on the executive order.

Huge damage is being done, according to hundreds of military and State Department professionals who know what they are talking about. Trump's blunder is weakening the resolve of our allies in the fight against ISIS, and strengthening the veracity of terrorists among their adherents.

Seeking and taking advice from knowledgeable professionals is something the arrogant blowhard bullies in the White House are incapable of, to the detriment of our national security and our moral reputation. How much more danger must we be put in before the Republicans in Congress realize that impeachment is necessary?

State Dept.’s Cable

Jagjit Singh
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:09:00 AM

ithin hours of Trump’s ban on seven Muslim majority countries, State Department officials crafted a dissenting memo which has gone viral. The memo repudiates Trump’s justification of the ban. Like a chain letter, the memo has been sent to all US embassies around the world in one of the largest protests against presidential policies. Thus far, the memo carries 1,000 signatures but more and more officials wanted to add their names to voice their fierce opposition to Trump’s misguided policies. Many commented that the visa ban would surely “alienate allies” and “hurt America economically.” Our negotiating wizard seems be unaware that foreign travelers inject nearly $250 billion into the American economy and support more than one million jobs. Furthermore, Trump’s stated claim to keep us safer is hogwash. There hasn’t been a single terrorist attack in America by anyone in the targeted seven countries during the past 40 years. According to the Cato Institute, the risk of an American being victim to a terrorist attack by a refugee in a given year is one in 3.6 billion. 

Much like the lasting shame following the forced internment of Japanese-Americans, the racial quotas imposed on non-whites in the 1940s, Trump’s ban has evoked similar outrage. This sentiment was echoed by David Miliband, the head of the International Rescue Committee, who stated “it is a repudiation of fundamental American values, an abandonment of the United States role as a humanitarian leader.”


THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump’s immigration policy leads to war

Bob Burnett
Friday February 03, 2017 - 07:58:00 AM

In the wake of Donald Trump's abrasive January 27th immigration order, some critics have described a White House in chaos and characterized Trump's policy czar, Steve Bannon, as "in his over his head." Wrong. Trump and Bannon know exactly what they are doing. Trump's immigration orders portend a devastating campaign against immigrants, one that will lead to war in the Middle East. 

It's useful to remember why Red voters turned to Trump; he promised to create jobs, stifle immigration, and cut taxes. So far Trump hasn't presented any semblance of a jobs plan. House Republicans have been busy with plans to cut taxes; the beneficiaries appear to be corporations and the rich. 

Meanwhile, the focus of the Trump White House has been on immigration. It's an issue that meets three of their objectives: it's red meat for their base; by claiming that immigrants are lawbreakers, it plays to Trump's "law and order" theme; and this issue paves the way for major policy changes in the Middle East. 

Trump's immigration orders are based upon lies. Not surprisingly, the justifications for Trump's immigration policIes are lies. In his January 25th "Border Security" order, Trump claimed, "The recent surge of illegal immigration at the southern border with Mexico has placed a significant strain on Federal resources..." There is no "recent surge;" illegal immigration declined under Obama and, recently there has been a net exodus to Mexico. 

In his January 27th order, "to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States," Trump claimed, "While the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks... these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States." Wrong again; the recent attacks -- such as Orlando -- were committed by native-born Americans. Trump's order names Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen but immigrants from these nations have nothing to do with recent domestic attacks

Even though these lies were noted by the mainstream media, they are accepted by Trump's base -- who get their news from Fox News. (Meanwhile, the Trump White House demonizes the mainstream media.) 

Trump's immigration orders are popular with his base. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found: "49 percent of American adults said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed with Trump's order, while 41 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" disagreed and another 10 percent said they don't know." The findings were strongly influenced by party preference. 

The 538 website reported research about characteristics that make someone "truly American:" one third of poll respondents said it was, "Having been born in the United States" and "Being a Christian." No doubt this was Trump's base; folks who agree with his policy of keeping non-Christians out. 

(The news is not all bleak: a more recent Gallup Poll found that 57 percent of respondents disapproved of Trump's order.) 

Trump's immigration order is a convoluted Muslim ban. The January 27th ban calls for suspension of the US refugee program for 120 days (and totally suspends the admission of Syrian nationals). It includes this wording: "[prioritize] refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality." Since all 7 named countries are Muslim majority, this (potentially) gives preference to Christian refugees from these countries. 

To be noted is that one of the 7 countries, Iraq, is a strong US ally in the war on terror. 

Trump's order is a portend of things to come. The Los Angeles Times reported: "Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society." Thus the Trump ban would eventually impact ALL Muslim-majority countries -- not just Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan Syria, and Yemen but also countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. 

Trump and his top advisers (particularly Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and Stephen Miller) believe the US is at war with Islam. (Foreign Policy magazine reported that Bannon "predicted 'a major shooting war in the Middle East' in the coming years. 'To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,' he said in January 2016.") 

Writing in the New Yorker, Steve Coll observed that last year then retired Marine General James Mattis (now Secretary of Defense) described Trump's proposed Muslim ban as ill-advised: "An initiative so reviled and so easily caricatured across the Islamic world will inspire terrorists to action and invite various forms of retaliation against Americans. It will make shaky governments in Muslim-majority countries that coöperate with the United States—from Morocco to Indonesia—vulnerable to domestic protests and political pressure to break ties with American counterterrorism programs." 

But Trump doesn't care. The other elements of his domestic agenda may be ill-defined but he knows where he wants to go with immigration: He wants to keep out all Muslims. And, by the way, he wants to wage war on Islam. 


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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Why Many Mental Illnesses are Disabling

Jack Bragen
Friday February 03, 2017 - 08:24:00 AM

Human beings in most places of our planet seem to judge people by their position in life. In the U.S., and probably in most countries, that translates to a person’s success level at a career. Many persons with mental illness are deprived of having a good career--and this is a hindrance to self-value as well as to being valued by others.  

Yet, not all people with a mental illness diagnosis are disabled. I've had the honor of participating in a group intended for "bipolar" people, and many in the group were professionally employed and didn't have a problem with work. Most were closeted concerning their diagnoses. When I describe in the following paragraphs how many people with mental illness are disabled, it does not apply to all mentally ill people.  

I wasn't officially disabled until I was in my mid-twenties, at which time my illness was becoming more disabling, and it was no longer practicable to support myself with a job. In my early twenties, I was able to earn money at television repair, building maintenance, and delivery driving, not in that order. Later, I worked part time. Also, I was self-employed at various times, offering in-home video repair, and, briefly, outcall computer assistance. The self-employment never really took off, and I attribute this to the fact that I was becoming increasingly disabled at the age at which I aspired to be successfully self-employed.  

Hypothetically at least, a number of people suffering from mental illness could do every bit as well as a non-afflicted person in many work situations. There is nothing intrinsic in mental illness that makes people unable to do a task.  

However, I can describe how my psychotic disorder has, in the past, hampered my numerous work attempts, and how today it has left me unemployable except at freelance writing or, hypothetically, at some other independent work that I could do from home.  

Before I go into that I'd like to mention how my mental illness and resultant psychiatric treatment over the years has changed my life path, has prevented me from getting a formal education, has ruined my work history, and has left me emotionally and physically burnt out. The above are significant factors in my lack of employability, as it exists today.  

I am also unemployable at present because, should a prospective employer run a computer check on me, something all of them will do, it will come up that I am mentally ill, and I will not be hired.  

When I was in my twenties, the condition affected me in numerous ways which I didn't recognize. In retrospect, I am aware of many of the problems I had in my twenties and thirties, but that doesn't do me much good at present. Now, I have other problems, such as the cumulative effects of being on heavy dosages of antipsychotic medication for more than thirty years. 

Having paranoid schizophrenia affects the ability to connect with one's fellow human being. In my twenties, I was unaware of how this had a lot of impact on my work attempts. I was unaware that a job isn't just doing a task--a worker needs to "fit in" in the social environment at their job.  

Paranoid and delusional symptoms can also hinder focusing on work, as can depression. Often, antipsychotic medication provides relief from psychosis, but in the process of this, depression often is introduced, because of the widespread effects of medication on the brain.  

It can be harder for someone with mental illness to show up for work--they may have highly exaggerated apprehension. It can be harder to remain on a worksite, because overall symptoms in combination with what is expected can seem to make a work situation unbearable.  

A large component of paranoia is actually fearfulness. A work situation may seem frightening.  

If someone with schizophrenia is to approach work, they may need to recognize and deal with their symptoms while at the same time accomplishing the work tasks and somehow dealing with the social environment.  

Schizophrenia can hinder basic clarity. If you don’t have clarity, then how are you supposed to think clearly about the tasks at hand and about the other responsibilities of the job? 

When in my twenties, it would have been useful for me to understand how my illness was interfering with work attempts. Instead, those in my support system often were judgmental and didn’t understand why I kept quitting jobs. So instead of practical help, I was getting the message that I was a failure. This only served to make me even more discouraged about accomplishing anything in life.  

Psychiatric medications can hinder work, even though they are necessary for most mentally ill people, and even though they open the door to functioning in reality. These medications limit a person's energy level--they provide a hindrance physically and in terms of accomplishing many tasks that most people would take for granted. Since antipsychotic medications lower serotonin and dopamine, this causes interference in the ability to do a task. Sometimes we can compensate with more effort, but not always.  

A psychiatrist examining me for Social Security benefits said to me, "If you are on medication you are disabled."  

I believe that when someone with a mental illness knows exactly what they are up against in their effort to succeed at something, her or his chances of succeeding will be much better. But for that to happen, basic clarity must first be found.  

However, people overvalue jobs, money and so-called "success." It is very doable to live a valid existence without regular employment, without wads of money, and without an important seeming position in life. There are many things to live for, and working at a regular job doesn't have to be one of them for all people.  

Updated: ECLECTIC RANT: Yiannopoulis’ scheduled appearance at UC Berkeley

Ralph E. Stone
Monday February 06, 2017 - 12:57:00 PM

The Berkeley College Republicans hosted conservative Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at UC Berkeley. Known by many as a hate-filled agent provocateur, his scheduled appearance sparked demonstrations. The UC Berkeley administration initially took the high road, saying that it could not discriminate based on a speaker's anticipated speech.  

The peaceful demonstrators were joined by about 150 masked individuals with paramilitary tactics, including hurling Molotov cocktails, setting fires, throwing fireworks at police, pushing barricades into windows and damaging campus and city property. An early estimate of campus damage is around $100,000. As a result of the violence, UC Berkeley canceled Yiannopoulos' appearance.  

Trump added his two cents, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?” Trump wrote on Twitter. It should be noted that Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, previously headed Breitbart News. This raises the question whether UC Berkeley should have denied Yiannopoulos' appearance right from the beginning when violence was likely or let him speak and prepared for the possibility of violence.  

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in his concurring opinion in the 1927 Whitney v. California case said in essence: The cure for bad speech is more speech, not less. 

Before the controversy, I doubt many people knew much, if anything, about Yiannopoulos. Now they do. Yiannopoulos walked away without giving a speech no doubt with a smile on his face as did the Berkeley College Republicans, while UC Berkeley was left with egg on its face. 

Sales are soaring for Yiannopoulos’ book Dangerous, scheduled for release next month. 

Unfortunately, most people in the Bay Area will remember the violence associated with the demonstrations rather than the free speech issues involved when a controversial figure speaks at a public university.

ECLECTIC RANT: Senate Should Confirm Gorsuch to Supreme Court

Ralph E. Stone
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:01:00 AM

The Senate should confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court if he is found to be qualified. I understand the Republicans refused to even consider Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, even though Obama had ten months left on his term at the time. I also understand had Hillary Clinton become president, the Republicans indicated no nominee of hers would be confirmed either. 

However, I disagree with playing the same game with Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch. Once Gorsuch is fully vetted and found qualified, he should be confirmed without a filibuster and without resort to the “nuclear option.” His conservatism should not be a disqualifying factor. Consider that Gorsuch was unanimously confirmed to the court of appeals in 2006. 

The nuclear or constitutional option, by the way, is a parliamentary procedure that allows the U.S. Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of by a supermajority of 60 votes. Either way, Gorsuch will very likely be confirmed. 

Trump was going to nominate a conservative and Gorsuch is a better choice than others he could have nominated. Gorsuch’s confirmation will bring the Supreme Court back to four conservatives, not a majority of five. 

More importantly, a less than full Supreme Court of nine justices impedes the smooth functioning of the court; the Supreme Court should not be a partisan institution. Perhaps, the Democrats should take the high road on this nomination; it will give them more credibility as they oppose clearly objectionable nominees like Betsy DeVos, Steve Bannon, and Jeff Sessions.

Arts & Events

Theater Review--'I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco'

Ken Bullock
Thursday February 02, 2017 - 10:57:00 PM

"I'm always drunk in San Francisco/And I don't drink at all." 

Tommy Wolfe's grand alternative to both the nostalgia crooned by Tony Bennett & what Jeannette MacDonald belted from the Silver Screen, introduced by the great (and still swinging) Ernie Andrews with Cannonball Adderley in the early 60s, but made a hit a bit later by Ernie's old pal Carmen McRae and a little later than that by Nancy Wilson ... 

... Has found its way back home as the title and emblematic number of Geoffrey Pond's first-ever solo show, his own brand of tribute to the focal point of the Bay Area he grew up in, featuring the writings of Mark Twain, Jacks London & Kerouac, H. L. Mencken (not a name usually associated with our City in the West) and Gary Kamiya, plus a couple vignettes by Geoff himself. 

Geoff met Stanley Spenger in the early 90s, performing with Shotgun, hopped aboard the vehicle Stan started up—Subterranean Shakespeare under LaVal's—and became artistic director in 2001. 'I'm Always Drunk in San Francisco' is produced by Subterranean Shakespeare presents, but on Sutter Street in the city, not beneath Euclid. 

Directed by Robert Ernst, formerly of the fabled Blake Street Hawkeyes, Geoff's onstage alone, but with a stream of characters he plays—mostly the writers he's picked as—mostly—postmortem collaborators ... and with the shadow or ghost of the city itself. 

There are eleven scenes of various lengths, beginning with Geoff doing up the title song in a new arrangement he's made with Joshua Raoul Brody, and then after recounting Kamiya's vignette of Arch Rock—which appeared and disappeared in Bay waters until dynamited—he goes straight into his exposition of what the city has meant to itself and the world—and what it means to him. 

So the ascent, passing—out of chronological order—on the way up, Geoff's own meeting with Carolyn Cassady, wife of Neal, confidante of Kerouac, then right on to Jack himself, from 'The Dharma Bums,' raving up the Six Gallery reading off Union on Fillmore, where jugs of dago red fueled his cheerleading of Ginsberg's first public airing of the opening of "Howl"—and then through Kamiya's remarks about the older flora and fauna of the wind-blasted tip of the Peninsula ... 

And a droll gem by Mencken from the old New Yorker about the bourbon-soaked Democratic National Convention in 1920, weeks after Prohibition hit, in the new Civic Auditorium, now named after Bill Graham, such a hit with the delegates they voted it should continue for days longer so they could get their fill of booze and city and environs, Mencken himself waking up unexpectedly one morning on the beach at Half Moon Bay ... 

Then the wayward eulogy climbs atop Hippy Hill with a 49er (beating a conga drum!), by Kamiya—and hits a plateau, the best section: Mark Twain describing, in 'Roughing It,' his first humorous lecture anywhere—here, at Maguire's Academy of Music on Pine in 1968 ... and Jack London writing for Collier's of the devastation of the '06 Earthquake and Fire. And after a brief Kamiya-penned vignette about the climate, it's suddenly over—and the outline of it's later—and very pleasing—shape becomes apparent, a salute to a city of dreams that has awakened many times to harsher reality—rolled over and tried to go back to dreamland ... 

Fridays & Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7 till February 19th; Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (near the corner of Powell) in downtown San Francisco—advance tickets at: www.subshakes.com —or info at 276-3871. $25-$20, sliding scale, at the door. 

Around & About Preview--Jazz: Kalil Wilson Sings at the Sound Room in Oakland's Uptown, Next Friday

Ken Bullock
Friday February 03, 2017 - 08:26:00 AM

Wonderful Kalil Wilson, the jazz singer who grew up in North Oakland, will sing next Friday night with his trio Love (Dan Marshak, Sam Adams and young drums prodigy Genius Wesley) at Oakland's great little spot for jazz, the Sound Room on Broadway, two blocks (past the Paramount Theatre, towards Grand) from 19th Street BART. 

On the heels of recording a new album, all originals by himself and the band, Kalil will also demonstrate his unique arrangements and style that refreshes the great standards of the music. Hailed by Kenny Burrell and Carlos Santana as the genuine article, Kalil transports audiences of every description with his great musicality and brio.  

Friday February 10 at 8, Sound Room, 2147 Broadway, Oakland. $15-$20. Beer, wine & small plates available. All ages welcome. www.soundroom.org or 496-4180

Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI at Zellerbach

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:08:00 AM

For more than four decades Jordi Savall and the ensemble Hespèrion XX, now Hespèrion XXI, have explored a rich trove of music composed between the Middle Ages and the Baroque. They have unearthed musical scores long forgotten by composers also long forgotten. In doing so, they have enriched our understanding of the development of European music from the Gothic period to the Baroque. The concert given on Friday, January 27, at Zellerbach Hall by Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI provided yet another instance of this ensemble’s unwavering commitment to filling in the gaps, as it were, in our understanding of European music. For this concert, they focused on Venetian influences in musical Europe between 1500 and 1700.  

Rarely, if ever, have I attended a concert offering a program of works none of which I had ever heard before. Yet that may well be the case with the program offered by Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI last Friday at Zellerbach. The only exception may be the Lacrimae Pavan by English composer John Dowland. It was such a popular piece of music in the Elizabethan period, and has remained so popular today, that I surely must have heard it, at least on the radio. But searching my CD collection, I find other works by John Dowland, but not this most famous of his works.  

Given the unfamiliarity of the works performed at this concert, it may come as a surprise to readers – as it did I suppose to many audience members – that the works we heard largely failed to distinguish themselves from one another. Whether coming from an anonymous Venetian composer, an Elizabethan or Jacobean composer from England, an anonymous composer at the French court of Louis XIII, or a German composer, few of these pieces stood out from any others that were performed. Les Pleurs d’Orphée by Luigi Rossi certainly was a poignant lament; but it pales in comparison with the great lament Tu se’ morta by Claudio Monteverdi in his 1607 opera Orfeo, which was not included in this program nor was any other work by Monteverdi, despite his unquestioned status as the most influential Venetian-based composer between 1500 and 1700.  

No, the focus was unrelentingly on long forgotten works by long forgotten composers. However, one might be tempted to say, after hearing these long forgotten works, that they may well deserve to remain forgotten. Or, to put it another way, do works such as these deserve to be performed in vast concert halls such as Zellerbach, or would they benefit far more from being played in more intimate venues? I can easily imagine this program of works being delightfully performed in the courtyard of a Renaissance château or palazzo, complete with dancers in period costumes. Such a concert would not only be more enjoyable, it would also be more authentic in terms of the period these works represent, for that is how such pieces would have been presented in their day. 

Nonetheless, a few works managed to stand out. One was the Ricercare XIV « Da Pacem » by Venetian composer Hieronymus Parabosco, written in 1540 to celebrate the end of Venice’s war with Ottoman Turkey. Another work that stood out was the Bourrée d’Avignonez by an anonymous composer at the French court of Louis XIII. This piece was admirably played in lively fashion featuring guitarist Xavier Diaz-Latorre and percussionist David Mayoral. Finally, after a long stretch of exquisitely played but boringly similar works by composers such as Giuseppe Guarni, Samuel Scheidt, Biagio Marini, and Giovanni Legrenzi, the concert came to life in the final set devoted to Iberian folias and dances. Here a Folia by Pedro de San Lorenzo was lively, as were his improvisations on themes from the Canary Islands, which showed off the improvisational virtuosity of viola da gambist Jordi Savall. Likewise with the improvisations on a Gallarda (Gaillarde) by Antonio Valente. They were a long time in coming; but the audience responded warmly to these Spanish pieces with their lively use of pizzicato and guitar solos accompanied by percussion or solo improvisations by Jordi Savall on viola da gamba. Almost alone, these Spanish pieces managed to rescue what otherwise seemed an academic exercise in historical resuscitation, exquisitely played but hardly making you want to hear these pieces again.  



Gautier Capuçon with Prague Philharmonia Plays Dvořák’s Cello Concerto

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday February 03, 2017 - 10:04:00 AM

Emmanuel Villaume, Prague Philharmonia’s Music Director and Chief Conductor, brought his orchestra to Davies Hall on Sunday evening, January 29, for a concert of Czech music by Bedřic Smetana and Antonín Dvořák. On the program were Smetana’s Vltava (The Moldau) from Má Vlast (My Country), and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor and his Symphony No. 8 in G Major. Gautier Capuçon was the exciting young soloist in the Dvořák Cello Concerto. 

Originally from Strasbourg in France, Emmanuel Villaume is a tall, totally bald 52 year-old who conducts with an energetic, even muscular style. Villaume makes use of a baton, but for long sweeping passages he places the baton on the podium and conducts with his arms and hands supplying broad, sweeping gestures. Emmanuel Villaume made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2000, and since then he has conducted many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. He also serves as Music Director of Dallas Opera. In this concert, Villaume’s rendition of Smetana’s The Moldau was robust, yet he managed to bring out all the rich scene-painting of Smetana’s musical depiction of the River Moldau as it runs through forests and meadows, then swirls through rapids as it makes its way toward Prague.  

The highlight of the concert came next with Gautier Capuçon as soloist in Dvořák’s famed Cello Concerto. Only 36 years of age, Gautier Capuçon is already a much sought after cellist who has played with most of the world’s leading orchestras. Performing on a 1701 Matteo Goffriller cello, Capuçon offers a rich, robust tone, burnished in the low register and sweet in the upper register. His fingering in the rapid passages was breathtaking. Dvořák’s Cello Concerto begins with a long orchestral prelude that presents the movement’s two main themes. The first is heard in the clarinets, soon joined by the bassoons. The second is heard in a solo horn against a string background. When the solo cello finally makes its entrance, it is with a dramatic gesture, robust and portentous. From that moment on, Capuçon simply took over this magnificent work, developing the two themes of this opening movement in broad, muscular fashion. By contrast, in the second movement, a soft Adagio, Capuçon emphasized the poignant, almost bittersweet mood of this beautiful yet somber movement.  

There is a touching anecdote, recounted in the program notes, that involves Dvořák’s sister-in-law, Josefina Cermáková, for whom he fell madly in love when she was a sixteen year-old coming to Dvořák for piano lessons. The song she loved most to play was one of Dvořák’s own. However, Josefina did not return Dvořák’s love, and he later married her younger sister. While in New York thirty years later in 1895, Dvořák and his wife learned that Josefina had died. Much moved, Dvořák incorporated the song Josefina loved to play in the middle of the Cello Concerto’s Adagio, making it stand out as a kind of coda.  

The third and final movement begins in the cellos, and basses. On the whole, the orchestra opens with march-like tune that is aggressively assertive and extroverted, while the solo cello alternates between reinforcing the assertive manor of the orchestra and, on the other hand, slowing everything down, softening the tone, and embarking on a more introspective mood, one of meditation rather than assertion. This pattern of alternating extroverted and introverted passages continues throughout the final movement, with reminiscences of the first and second movements, until the solo cello plays an ethereal pianissimo that simply dies away, to be followed by the orchestra which brings the work to a close that could be heard as stormy, celebratory, or perhaps, most fittingly in this ultra-Romantic work, both. Tumultuous applause greeted the conclusion of this great work; and as they took their bows, Capuçon and Villaume seemed genuinely moved by the audience’s warm appreciation of this excellent performance. With Rostropovich having passed away, and Yo-Yo Ma retreating ever further into crossover music, Gautier Capuçon seems poised to be the next great classical cellist of our time. 

After intermission Prague Philharmonia returned to perform Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major. There is a distinctly pastoral air about this symphony, and it is replete with Dvořák’s beloved birdcalls, heard first in a lovely flute solo, then, in the second movement, heard in the clarinets. The Adagio has a rustic tone even before its bucolic mood is interrupted by what sounds like a village band playing an arrangement of something Wagner might have written, full of brassy horns. Twice this village band breaks in on the gentle music of the Adagio, and one might mistake this bizarre alternation for something Mahler liked to do.  

The third movement offers a Slavonic waltz disguised as a scherzo, which, by the movement’s end, has become a Czech folk dance. This movement’s minor mode emphasizes the wistfulness of these reminiscences of Czech country life. The fourth and final movement opens with a trumpet fanfare, then shifts to the low register instruments of violas, cellos and basses. Soon a clarinet launches yet another birdcall. Throughout this finale, one is conscious of Dvořák’s love of the Bohemian countryside, its rustling trees, its luscious birdsong. At last, a recurring theme from the opening movement is given robust treatment in a rousing conclusion.