Full Text

The alt-right plays dress-up in Berkeley
Michael O'Malley
The alt-right plays dress-up in Berkeley


Not much happens in Berkeley's MLK Civic Center Park after Coulter cancels

Dave Brooksher (BCN) and Planet
Thursday April 27, 2017 - 04:22:00 PM
The alt-right plays dress-up in Berkeley
Michael O'Malley
The alt-right plays dress-up in Berkeley

Hundreds of people are at a park in downtown Berkeley this afternoon, with the majority of the group gathering in protest of the cancellation of a speech that was planned today by conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

The rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park remained peaceful, particularly in comparison to two recent similar protests at the park in March and earlier this month that led to dozens of arrests and violence between supporters of President Donald Trump and anti-fascist groups. 

Many in the crowd were simply curious, with some carrying signs that supported the concept of free speech but not the views of the rally's organizer.

Coulter had planned a speech today at University of California at Berkeley, but the student group Berkeley College Republicans canceled it on Wednesday, saying the university could not guarantee the event would be safe. 

Among the speakers at this afternoon's rally was Kyle Chapman, 41, of San Francisco, also known as "Based Stickman," who was arrested on suspicion of battery at one of the earlier rallies in Berkeley. 

"UC Berkeley tried to shut down free speech, but free speech is going to shut down Berkeley," Chapman said. 

A man who goes by the online moniker Baked Alaska said, "We love Ann Coulter, don't get me wrong, but this movement was here before Ann Coulter and will be here after." 

The crowd could be heard chanting "America for Americans" and "Donald Trump" at points during the rally. 

A separate, smaller rally was held earlier today near the UC Berkeley campus by the group International Socialist Organization in opposition to the "alt-right," an offshoot of conservatism characterized by white nationalism. 

At the larger rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, many police officers were in the area. Berkeley police said as of 3:30 p.m. that only two people had been arrested, one for a weapons violation and the other for drug possession. 

Nearby Berkeley High School dismissed students for the day at 3:30 p.m., and encouraged students via a public address system to avoid going to the park. Some young people nevertheless showed up to watch, but didn't engage with the speakers, who were still talking as of 4pm. The quality of their sound system was so poor that it was difficult to understand what they were saying.

New: Joint statement from U.C. Chancellor, Berkeley Mayor regarding Coulter's cancellation

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Mayor Jesse Arreguín
Thursday April 27, 2017 - 10:51:00 AM

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks of the University of California, Berkeley, and Mayor Jesse Arreguín of the City of Berkeley today released the following joint statement:

The values of openness, equity, diversity and freedom of speech are deeply enshrined in our community. Both the City of Berkeley and the University of California have been at the forefront of free speech and continue to do so to this day. We have worked on finding solutions that ensure that those who wish to speak are able to do so in a safe space. What we will not do is allow our students, other members of the campus community, and the public to be needlessly endangered by permitting an event to be held in a venue that our police force does not believe to be protectable. Creating an environment that prevents violence is not censorship, rather it is protection of free speech. Ann Coulter did not take up the University’s offer to have the event held at a time where we could ensure safety. To be clear, the decision to cancel the speech was that of Coulter, not the University.

We have gone above and beyond to protect freedom of speech, contrary to many misleading reports. While we cherish our freedoms of speech and assembly, there is no freedom to silence others or to commit violence. If you are at a demonstration and you see violence, separate yourself. Keep a distance from violence. If you can do so safely, report it to police. The City and University stands together in our commitment to protect the fundamental principles of democracy — freedom of expression, thought and peaceful assembly, and we call on everyone to do the same.  

Flash: Berkeley Officials urge caution in face of protests

Alex Kekauoha (BCN)
Thursday April 27, 2017 - 10:45:00 AM

City officials in Berkeley, along with police and the University of California, will be working together to manage events and gatherings that may take place today in the city and on the UC campus following the cancellation of a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter. 

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, city officials urged the public to be vigilant in the event that protests and mass gatherings occur. 

"Mass gatherings of any kind attract a broad variety of people and, inevitably, that means an array of different motives and intentions," officials said. "If you are at a demonstration and you see violence, separate yourself. Keep a distance from violence. If you can do so safely, report it to police." 

Protests and demonstrations are expected to take place after a speech by Coulter was canceled Wednesday by the Berkeley College Republicans. The student group's president, Troy Worden, said Wednesday that the speech was canceled because the university could not guarantee the event would be safe. 

But city and university officials are still anticipating protests and demonstrations to take place today. 

The group Oath Keepers, with supporters of Coulter, is planning to hold a rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley. The rally is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will include conservative speakers. 

Another group called the International Socialist Organization is gathering for a news conference to speak out against the "alt-right," an offshoot of conservatism characterized by white nationalism. They will meet today at noon at the corner of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue. 

City officials said they will continue to develop strategies to ensure safety for all who attend demonstrations. 

"We will work to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute anyone who commits crimes in our community," city officials said.

Flash: Coulter bails on Berkeley booking? or was she booted?

Jeff Shuttleworth
Wednesday April 26, 2017 - 01:06:00 PM

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said on her Twitter account today that her speech at University of California at Berkeley on Thursday has been canceled but didn't make clear who made the decision to cancel it. 

In one of a series of tweets, Coulter said, "It's very sad about Berkeley's cancellation, but my sadness is greater than that. It's a dark day for free speech in America." 

In another tweet, Coulter wrote, "If we had continued to fight we would have won." 

She wrote, "I'm so sorry Berkeley canceled my speech. I'm so sorry YAF acquiesced in the cancellation." 

Coulter apparently was referring to the Young America's Foundation, which joined the Berkeley College Republicans in filing a lawsuit against UC Berkeley administrators on Monday alleging that they discriminate against and restrict speakers with conservative viewpoints. 

YAF is a Tennessee-based foundation that was a sponsor and partial contributor to Coulter's speaking event. 

YAF and the Berkeley College Republicans filed the suit after the university last week canceled Coulter's event on Thursday but later offered to allow her to speak on May 2. 

However, Coulter had vowed to keep her plan to come to the university on Thursday to speak. 

The Berkeley College Republicans couldn't immediately be reached for comment. 

The group said on its Facebook page that it plans to hold a news conference on the Mario Savio Steps at Sproul Plaza on the campus at 1:30 p.m. today. 

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said the university hasn't yet received any official notice that Coulter has canceled her speech. 

Mogulof said UC officials tentatively plan to hold a news conference somewhere on campus at 3 p.m. today to respond to what the Berkeley College Republicans say.

New: Helicopter over Berkeley is lifting water pipes

Kiley Russell (BCN)
Thursday April 27, 2017 - 10:48:00 AM

East Bay Municipal Utility District crews are using a helicopter today to airlift thousands of feet of pipe into the hills of Berkeley as part of a water main replacement project. 

Scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., the airlift operation entails picking up dozens of pieces of 40-foot-long pipe by helicopter, flying them to a staging area near Panoramic Way and repeating the process until all 4,400 feet of pipe are in place, according to EBMUD officials. 

The crews will fly about 22 trips back and forth from Fernwald Road and Dwight Way, where the pipes await, to Panoramic Way, where the project area is located, a process that will likely last until about 4 p.m. 

During that time, traffic restrictions will be in effect at Dwight Way and Fernwald Road and at the intersection of Dwight Way and Panoramic Way, where the helicopter will drop off the pipe sections. 

"The Panoramic Hill Improvements Project replaces 7,000 feet of water pipeline in the Berkeley hills and includes replacing University Reservoir and the University Pumping Plant in late 2017," EBMUD officials said. 

Once the pipe is dropped off, crews still have to dig trenches, install the pipe and repave any sections of roadway that need to be dug up for the project, which is expected to wrap up by the end of this year, according to EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook. 

This is the second such helicopter operation for this project. The first was completed last September and is intended to shave up to 60 days off the project timeline. 

If EBMUD were to truck the pipe pieces up to the project site, crews would have to cut them in half so they could be moved around the narrow roads and tight corners in the hilly neighborhood. 

They would then have to weld the pipes back together so they could be installed, according to EBMUD officials.

New: Robbery suspect arrested at gunpoint by Berkeley police responding to unrelated accident

Keith Burbank (BCN) and Planet
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 08:55:00 PM

A robbery suspect was arrested at gunpoint this afternoon in Berkeley following a police response to an unrelated traffic crash, a police spokesman said.  

At 3:40 p.m. several officers responded to a rollover crash on Shattuck Avenue between Haste Street and Channing Way, spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said.  

Numerous officers responded to help direct traffic. One of the officers allegedly saw a man with a gun in his hand.  

A chase ensued for about two blocks and the suspect was arrested at gunpoint. The man allegedly had just robbed a store in the 2500 block of Shattuck Avenue, Frankel said.  

No shots were fired and no one was injured in the robbery. 

One person in the traffic crash was taken to a hospital, Frankel said. 

Karen Cilman, who lives at Shattuck Senior Homes near the scene, told the Planet that this afternoon she heard the crash, which she described as "horrific".  

She said that two cars collided at Haste and Shattuck. One of them completely overturned, and was on the median.  

She reported that a woman was pinned under the car when many fire trucks and police cars arrived. 

She saw a lot of stuff in disarray which had spilled out of the car. It looked to her, she said, like perhaps the driver had been living in the car.  

One young man she spoke with, an onlooker, told her that one car had been trying to avoid hitting a person in a wheelchair who was crossing the street.

Flash: U.S. judge block's Trump's sanctuary city order

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 03:42:00 PM

A federal judge in San Francisco today blocked an executive order by President Donald Trump that threatened to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities and counties. 

U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued a preliminary injunction in a pair of lawsuits filed by the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County.  

Orrick wrote that the "plain language" of the order issued by Trump on Jan. 25 threatens all federal funding for cities, counties and states deemed by the Trump administration to be sanctuary jurisdictions shielding undocumented immigrants from federal deportations. 

The judge said it is unconstitutional for the executive branch to place new conditions on federal funds because that would intrude on Congress's spending power. 

"The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the president, so the order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds," Orrick wrote 

"Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves," the judge said in the ruling. 

Orrick rejected an argument made at a hearing earlier this month by a U.S. Department of Justice lawyer who contended the order should be interpreted narrowly to apply only to a limited set of federal criminal justice grants. 

The judge said that argument was not plausible because the wording of Trump's order addressed all federal funding and because Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had made broad statements threatening to withhold, terminate or claw back federal funding. 

Orrick said his ruling did not prevent the government from enforcing any existing conditions imposed on federal grants or from developing regulations to define a sanctuary jurisdiction. 

The San Francisco and Santa Clara County lawsuits were among several filed around the nation to challenge the executive order, but were the first to receive a judicial ruling. Another of the pending lawsuits was filed in federal court in San Francisco by the city of Richmond. 

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a statement, "We're fighting for the United States Constitution and we succeeded after the Trump Administration tried to do an end run around it. The court's decision is a win for the neediest people in our nation." 

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera also issued a statement about today's ruling. 

"Faced with the law, the Trump administration was forced to back down," Herrera said. "This is why we have courts -- to halt the overreach of a president and an attorney general who either don't understand the Constitution or chose to ignore it."

Press Release: Public Safety open house today, 11-3

Sergeant Andrew Frankel, Berkeley Police Department
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 10:26:00 AM

Come join us today, at the Berkeley Public Safety Building, 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, from 11:00am-3:00pm, for our Open House. Take the tour, learn a little about our history, and meet the team who works to keep you safe.

New: Marching for the environment

Bruce Joffe
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 10:22:00 AM

I was at one of the hundreds of marches last weekend in which hundreds of thousands of scientists, researchers, and evidence nerds took the time and made the effort to express their support for the use of science in our society, and to express dismay at the anti-science policies being promoted by the president and Republicans in Congress. As one marcher's sign succinctly announced, "You know the problem is dire when this many introverts come out to march." 

What problem? Trump's budget proposes reducing funding for environmental protection, for health research, for global monitoring of our planet's climate change. Trump's executive orders prohibit Federal employees from even mentioning the words "global climate change." As if pretending it doesn't exist will make it go away.  

"Science" is a method of observing phenomena and carefully testing opinions and assumptions about them, to know what is true and real. Evidence is the best basis for making governmental policy, yet this Republican-controlled government doesn't even want to collect evidence for informed policymaking.  

That is why so many science-minded introverts were in the streets last weekend. The survival of a habitable Earth, as

A Hawk's Tale

William E. Woodcock
Monday April 24, 2017 - 02:55:00 PM
William E. Woodcock
William E. Woodcock
Red Tailed Hawk eating a rat
William E. Woodcock
Red Tailed Hawk eating a rat

ECLECTIC RANT: What is Berkeley College Republicans’ goal: civil discourse or rabble-rousing?

Ralph E. Stone
Monday April 24, 2017 - 10:45:00 PM

The Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) invited Ann Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley. Earlier, the group had invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak. Yiannopoulos' speech was canceled after violent protests erupted. 

Guest speakers are a good way to add interest to a university education and help students get the benefit from the knowledge and expertise of an accomplished professional or a respected authority in his or her field.  

That raises the question as to what Yiannopoulos or Coulter bring to the university experience? Both are provocateurs of the alt-right where it is difficult to tell whether their writings and speeches are serious or intended to provoke outrage. Most of the alt-right support Donald Trump and oppose immigration, multiculturism, and political correctness.  

Yiannopoulos, for example, is a vocal critic of feminism, Islam, social justice, political correctness, and other movements and ideologies he sees as authoritarian or of the regressive left. In February 2017 he resigned from Breitbart News -- "the platform of the alt-right" -- after a controversy arising from a video clip in which he said that sexual relationships between 13-year-old boys and adult men and women can be "perfectly consensual" and a "positive experiences for the boys." 

Coulter has described herself as a polemicist who likes to "stir up the pot," and does not pretend to be impartial or balanced, as broadcasters do, drawing criticism from the left, and sometimes from the right. She is anti-abortion and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants. She opposes same-sex marriages and civil unions, but in recent years she has attracted many LGBT fans, namely gay men and drag queens

The BCR, the group that invited both Yiannopoulos and Coulter to speak, describes themselves as a "diverse group of independent minds who think critically about issues involving politics, philosophy, and civil service. As the premier political organization at UC Berkeley, we take our role as campus activists and thought leaders seriously." 

I wonder if the BCR were acting as "thought leaders" and "independent minds thinking critically" when they invited Yiannopoulos and Coulter to speak. I suspect the BCR invited both to "stir the pot," not to benefit students about "politics, philosophy, and civil service." Given the past experiences in Berkeley, BCR knew or should have known that these invited speakers would provoke violence. I suspect that was BCR's goal. Now they can claim denial of free speech. But maybe, BCR should act more responsibly in the future.  

However, I am disappointed that those opposing Coulter espouse the First Amendment right of free speech for themselves, but seem willing to deny it to others whose views they oppose. Why don't those opposing Coulter and her views just stay home when she speaks?

UC Berkeley students sue school administrators over Coulter talk

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Monday April 24, 2017 - 10:40:00 PM

A student group and a foundation sued University of California at Berkeley administrators in federal court in San Francisco today, claiming they discriminate against and restrict speakers with conservative viewpoints.  

The lawsuit by Berkeley College Republicans and Young America's Foundation comes after the campus, citing security concerns, last week cancelled a speech by conservative commentator Ann Coulter planned for Thursday.  

The Tennessee-based foundation is a sponsor and partial contributor to the event.  

A day after canceling the speech, the university on April 20 offered to allow Coulter to speak at an unidentified "appropriate, protectable venue" on the campus from 1 to 3 p.m. on May 2.  

But the lawsuit says the two groups rejected the May 2 proposal as a "sham alternative" because it would have been during the time known as dead week, when there are no classes and many students are off campus studying for exams. 

Coulter, meanwhile, said last week she plans to go ahead with speaking on the campus on Thursday as originally planned. 

The lawsuit claims the university is violating the groups' constitutional rights of free speech and equal treatment. 

It alleges that university administrators and campus police use a vague and unpublished policy on security for high-profile speakers "to restrict and stifle the speech of conservative students whose voices fall beyond the campus political orthodoxy." 

It asks for a court order barring the officials from restricting expression at the Berkeley campus, from discriminating against the two groups and from unilaterally canceling events by the two groups that have met the publicly announced university requirements. 

Young America's Foundation President Ron Robinson said in a statement, "It is unfortunate that the very school that is considered the 'birthplace of the Free Speech Movement' is now leading the charge to censor thoughts, ideas, and debate. 

"The University of California at Berkeley's selectively applied approach to 'free speech' is unacceptable," Robinson said. 

The university, in a statement issued through spokeswoman Dianne Klein, denied discriminating against Coulter and said it is dedicated to finding a time and place for her to speak safely. 

"The University of California welcomes speakers of all political viewpoints and is committed to providing a forum to enable Ann Coulter to speak on the Berkeley campus," the statement said. "UC Berkeley has been working to accommodate a mutually agreeable time for Ms. Coulter's visit -- which has not yet been scheduled -- and remains committed to doing so."  

"The campus seeks to ensure that all members of the Berkeley and larger community -- including Ms. Coulter herself -- remain safe during such an event," the statement said. 

The defendants in the case are UC President Janet Napolitano, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Interim Vice Chancellor Stephen Sutton, Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell, UC Berkeley Police Chief Margot Bennett, Capt. Alex Yao and Patrol Lt. Leroy Harris.

Berkeley marches for science

Mark O’Neill
Saturday April 22, 2017 - 11:59:00 AM
Some scientists from the UC Berkeley campus wore their lab coats.
Mark O’Neill
Some scientists from the UC Berkeley campus wore their lab coats.
Current and future scientists joined Berkeley's March for Science.
Mark O’Neill
Current and future scientists joined Berkeley's March for Science.
About 2000 marchers gathered on the UCB campus.
Mark O’Neill
About 2000 marchers gathered on the UCB campus.
Demonstrators marched to downtown Berkeley.
Mark O’Neill
Demonstrators marched to downtown Berkeley.

A crowd of about 2000 people, children, students and older folks, assembled on Saturday on the UC Berkeley campus to add their voices to 600 gatherings world-wide in support of science, now under attack in the United States by the current administration.

New: MOVIES IN THE MARGINS: SF Green Film Festival—April 20-26

Gar Smith
Saturday April 22, 2017 - 08:20:00 PM

One of the neat things about the San Francisco Green Film Festival is its dedication to action and principle. It walks the talk. Or maybe we should say: "It screens the scenes."

As the SFGFF fact sheet puts it: "From the Amazon to Standing Rock, from the streets of SF to the fields of Ethiopia, see new stories from around the world" and when you're not enjoying "acclaimed environmental films" you can hit the low-impact parties and events and rub green elbows with filmmakers, environmental activists, and special guests.

The SFGFF is a non-profit that's interested in more than sharing well-crafted and inspiring cinema. It also works to encourage individual and community action as part of their mission is "to educate and connect communities through forward-thinking programs of environmental films, dialogues, and action opportunities."

It was ten years ago that watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth inspired SFGFF founder Rachel Caplan to create an annual film screening to promote environmental action. Now in its seventh year, the Green-fest has become a must-see event on every enviro's Califlower Calendar.




The Green-fest proudly lists its efforts to create a low-impact and zero-waste event.  

Local & sustainable: Food, beer & wine are provided by local, green-minded vendors. 

No new purchases: For decor, we use rented or recycled items. 

Plastic-free! No plastic serving ware or utensils are allowed. Everything must be 100% biodegradable. 

Zero landfill: everything must be either composted or recycled. 

Zero food waste: leftover food is taken home by team members or donated locally. 

No bottled water: Water stations are provided with delicious Hetch Hetchy tap water. 

Some solutions are hum-drum. Others are inspired: 

"We keep our use of paper materials to a minimum," the Green-fest manifesto explains. "Where we do have to have these, they are printed locally using recycled paper and soy-based inks. Our 2016 Festival program guide was one sheet (!) of paper without any glue or staples. Guest passes, signage and décor are reused from one year to the next. Printing Festival vinyl banners without specific dates means they can be reused each year." 

Festival staffers commute to work on public transit, shoes, and bikes—or work remotely. The Festival inhabits a green building with natural lighting, CFL or LED light bulbs, low-flow toilets, etc. 

No new office furniture. Desks and chairs are second-hand or donated. 

Energy-efficiency-certified appliances only and supplies from certified green vendors—e.g., New Resource Bank, Dharma Merchant Services, Western Web, Good Green Moving, and Blue Heron Catering. 

Try to beat this record: The office has used only 2 reams of recycled paper in the past 12 months. (You can bet they print double-sided.) 

All tableware and utensils are reusable or compostable—no single-use plastic allowed. 

And the office boasts its own mini-forest—"including a banana tree!" 

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot about the films. 

The festival kicks off with the latest from award-winning Bay Area filmmaker Mark Kitchell (Berkeley in the Sixties, A Fierce Green Fire). Evolution of Organics is a loving look-back at the heady, Super-8 days of yore when Bay Area hippies left the cities and learned to till the land and, in the process, laid the roots for the organic farming revolution. 


The film screens at the Castro at 7:30. There also is an Opening Night Reception at 6 in the Castro Mezzanine to meet Festival filmmakers and special guests while enjoying local food & beverages to kick-off Green Film Fest. Separate ticket required 

For Berkeley audiences, there will be a screening of Theater of Life at the Brower Center. 7 pm on April 24, 2017. 


The Brower Center screens the Berkeley premiere of Theater of Life. Renowned chef Massimo Bottura - patron of the world's best restaurant - creates an extraordinary soup kitchen. Bringing together 60 famous chefs, he uses food waste to cater for homeless people in Milan. 

A panel discussion immediately follows the screening featuring: Anna Lappe, Founder, Real Food Media; Ruben Canedo, Research & Mobilization Coordinator, UC Berkeley; and Zoe Loftus-Farren, Contributing Editor, Earth Island Journal. 

Click here to Purchase Tickets online. 


April 21, 2017, 6:30 - 9:30 pm 

Celebrate Earth Day at the Brower Centeron April 21 with a 6:30 screening of Before the Flood. Leonardo DiCaprio's acclaimed film will screen at 7pm in the Goldman Theater. Before the Flood explores the topic of climate change and discovers what must be done to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet. Please note that the Climate Action Expo is FREE but we recommend that you purchase a ticket in advance to secure your seat for the film. 

$15/$14 Students & Seniors 

Here Is the Complete SFGFF Schedule Listed Alphabetically 

4 Wheel Bob 

Get on the trail with intrepid adventurer and wheelchair hiker Bob Coomber. 

Sat, Apr 22 3:15 PM 

The Age of Consequences 

Investigating the impacts of irreversible climate change through the lens of U.S. national security and global instability. 

Sat, Apr 22 7:15 PM 

The Art of Recovery 

After the devastating Christchurch earthquake, community members began using newly vacant city land for art, gardens, and gathering spaces. 

Mon, Apr 24 6:30 PM 

Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise 

Director's Choice: Mark Cousins' bold doc is an impressionistic kaleidoscope of our nuclear times, with a new musical score by Mogwai. 

Fri, Apr 21 

Can You Dig This 

Following four improbable gardeners as they join a movement to uproot the status quo in South L.A. 

Sat, Apr 22 8:30 PM 

Cheshire, Ohio 

This is coal country. Residents in Cheshire, Ohio, fight for their health, the environment and their home. 

Sat, Apr 22 12:40 PM 

[The Climate Studio] x Survival Media Agency Pop-Up Gallery 

Gallery Opening Party for the latest pop-up from [The Climate Studio], featuring original photos from Survival Media Agency. 

Fri, Apr 21 7:00 PM 

Dark Circle 

Film Classic: Acclaimed 1982 doc exploring in evocative, personal and immediate terms how all of us have been affected by the nuclear age. 

Sun, Apr 23 12:30 PM 

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas 

2017 Green Tenacity Award: A new wave of colonialism is hitting Africa - the murky world of foreign investors buying farmland in developing countries. 

Sun, Apr 23 5:45 PM 

Death by a Thousand Cuts (Muerte por Mil Cortes) 

The murder of a park ranger highlights the tension between Haiti and the Dominican Republic over charcoal exploitation and mass deforestation. 

Fri, Apr 21 12:00 PM 

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 

Film Classic: Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 Cold War satire, with Peter Sellers as the eponymous Doctor with an ingenious and irrevocable scheme. 

Tue, Apr 25 7:00 PM 

Eco-Animation from Russia 

A program of eco-themed animated shorts, guest curated and presented by Russia’s ECOCUP Green Film Festival. 

Sat, Apr 22 9:15 PM 

Evolution of Organic 

Opening Night: From a motley crew of back-to-the-landers to the exciting new futures of sustainable agriculture. 

Thu, Apr 20 7:30 PM 

Flint: a work-in-progress 

A preview of Anthony Baxter’s latest feature documentary about the lead in drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. 

Sun, Apr 23 3:45 PM 

Food for Thought 

This program of short films presents a new take on food production - methods that restore our land, water and wildlife.  

Sun, Apr 23 12:45 PM 

Generation on the Wind 

Film Classic: During the 1978 'energy crisis', a group of artists, mechanics & environmental activists set out to build the largest electrical generating windmill in the world. 

Sun, Apr 23 6:30 PM 

Green VR 

Experience virtual reality for yourself in this hands-on viewing of stunning new VR environmental films. 

Fri, Apr 21 5:00 PM 

The Islands and the Whales 

The whale hunters of the Faroe Islands believe that hunting is vital to their way of life, but now marine pollution is threatening this forever. 

Mon, Apr 24 8:30 PM 

Last of the Longnecks 

Exploring the plight and extinction of giraffes and the implications of their demise in our rapidly changing world. 

Sat, Apr 22 12:30 PM 

The Memory of Fish 

A documentary portrait of one man, the wild salmon he loves, and his fight to free a river. 

Sat, Apr 22 3:00 PM 

Plastic China 

11-year-old Yi-Jie lives in a recycling workshop, sorting through mountains of plastic waste. She dreams of her future. 

Tue, Apr 25 6:30 PM 

A Plastic Ocean 

An epic global adventure following a filmmaker and a world record free-diver as they travel the earth discovering the shocking impact plastic is having on our oceans. 

Fri, Apr 21 6:00 PM 

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman 

This illuminating film spotlights unlikely conservationists, stewards of the land and sea who don't fit preconceptions of environmentalists. 

Wed, Apr 26 6:00 PM 

RISE Standing Rock 

2017 Best Feature Award: An essential documentation of one of the most urgent environmental struggles happening today - to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Sun, Apr 23 8:15 PM 


River advocate Mark Angelo journeys through some of the world's most polluted riverways to reveal the dark side of the fashion industry. 

Sun, Apr 23 3:00 PM 

Samuel in the Clouds 

In Bolivia, the glaciers are melting as Samuel, an old ski lift operator, looks out of his window on the rooftop of the world. 

Tue, Apr 25 8:30 PM 

Twelve Pianos 

Closing Night: A documentary film about artist/musician Mauro ffortissimo, and some pianos that want to save the world. 

Wed, Apr 26 8:30 PM 

Women's March 

On Jan. 21, 2017, people across this country come together to stand up for causes they believe in. What is their motivation to march? 

Sun, Apr 23 5:00 PM 

Yasuni Man 

An incredible expedition through Ecuador’s Yasuni exploring the impact of oil development on the biodiversity of the forest and its people. 

Sun, Apr 23 8:30 PM 

You've Been Trumped Too 

A chronicle of the confrontation between billionaire Donald Trump and feisty 92-year-old Scottish widow, Molly Forbes. 

Sat, Apr 22 4:50 PM 


Green Film Fest Events 

Happy Hour @ FestHQ 

FestHQ is the place to meet Fest guests and share your reactions to the films. 

Fri, Apr 21 5:00 PM 

Sat, Apr 22 5:00 PM 

Sun, Apr 23 5:00 PM 

How do you know if your story is making a difference? 

This interactive workshop with Active Voice founder Ellen Schneider will help you make informed, realistic decisions about your campaign. 

Sat, Apr 22 3:15 PM 

How do you tell your story in three minutes? 

Meet short filmmakers from this year's festival and find out how you can create depth and emotion in a small package. 

Sun, Apr 23 1:00 PM 

How should you distribute your film? 

Meet film distributors, including Green Planet Films, Kanopy, and ro*co educational, and hear their insider view on how to make sure your film reachs a wide audience. 

Sun, Apr 23 2:30 PM 

Inspiring Lives: a conversation with Flo Stone 

2017 Inspiring Lives Award: As Founder of the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Captial, Flo Stone’s work has inspired countless people through the power of cinema. 

Sat, Apr 22 1:30 PM 

Theater of Life 

Renowned chef Massimo Bottura - patron of the world's best restaurant - creates an extraordinary soup kitchen. 

Sat, Apr 22 5:45 PM 

Mon, Apr 24 7:00 PM 


American Resilience Project's first production explores the Tidewater region of Virginia and North Carolina, whose vulnerability most affects overall U.S. national security. 

Sun, Apr 23 2:45 PM 

Flash: Berkeley Police activity near San Pablo Park

Jade Atkins (BCN)
Saturday April 22, 2017 - 05:51:00 PM

Police activity has been reported near San Pablo Park in Berkeley this afternoon, according to Berkley police. 

The activity was reported at 4:09 p.m. in the 1300 block of Derby Street near Acton Street, police said.  

Further information about what was happening was not immediately available.

UC invites Ann Coulter to speak on May 2, but she says no, she's coming on April 27 instead

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday April 21, 2017 - 10:43:00 AM

A day after canceling a speech by conservative pundit Ann Coulter for what it said were safety reasons, University of California at Berkeley officials said today that they will allow her to speak on their campus after all.

Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA invited Coulter to speak on campus on April 27 but on Wednesday the university canceled her appearance because it said local police couldn't guarantee her safety.

However, Coulter said on Wednesday night that she still planned to come to the campus on April 27 to speak.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said yesterday that the university is now inviting Coulter to speak on campus on May 2.  

In a statement, Dirks claimed that although that several conservative speakers, including David Horowitz and Milo Yiannopolous, have had to cancel their appearances because of safety concerns, "This university has an unwavering commitment to the First Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines and protects the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression." 

But he said, "We also have an unwavering commitment to providing for the safety and well-being of speakers who come to campus, our students and other members of our campus and surrounding communities." 

Dirks said, "While there may, at times, be a tension between these two paired commitments, we cannot compromise on either." 

He said, "In that context, Ms. Coulter's announcement that she intends to come to this campus on April 27 without regard for the fact that we don't have a protectable venue available on that date is of grave concern." 

Dirks said UC Berkeley's police department "has made it clear that they have very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker, attendees and those who may wish to lawfully protest the event." 

Dirks said, "I asked my staff to look beyond the usual venues we use for large public gatherings to see if there might be a protectable space for this event that would be available during the compressed, and extremely busy, window of time between now and the end of the academic year." 

He said that expanded search identified "an appropriate, protectable venue that is available on the afternoon of May 2" that can both accommodate a substantial audience and meet the security criteria established by campus police. 

Dirks said that earlier today the university informed the Berkeley College Republicans and the Coulter organization of the new date "and we look forward to working with them." 

He didn't announce where Coulter will speak, saying only, "We will disclose the exact location of the venue once we have finalized details with both organizations." 

Thursday evening, Coulter said on Twitter that she can't speak on May 2 and still intents to speak at UC Berkeley on April 27.  

Berkeley College Republicans didn't respond to a request for a comment on the university's announcement.

Berkeley’s first police chief had lessons for today:new exhibit opening, and talk, on Sunday

Steven Finacom
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:18:00 AM

This Sunday, April 23, the Berkeley Historical Society opens a new exhibit assessing the work and accomplishments of August Vollmer who became Berkeley’s first, and most famous, Chief of Police more than a century ago.

This may seem an odd topic for a historical exhibit in an era when the role of police—particularly in communities like Berkeley—is hotly debated. But it’s actually tremendously relevant, because Vollmer was a person “ahead of his time” whose philosophy and practices have importance today, both in Berkeley and beyond.

The exhibit opens Sunday with a talk at 2:00 PM in the City Council Chambers in old City Hall (Martin Luther King, Jr. Way between Allston and Center) by Dr. Will Oliver, who has just published a comprehensive biography of Vollmer. After the talk, the exhibit will be available for viewing across the street in the Veterans Memorial Building. Both events are free. 

See the Berkeley Historical Society website for more details. http://www.berkeleyhistoricalsociety.org Copies of the book will also be available for purchase after the talk and at the History Center. 

Much of what “Gus” Vollmer did and advocated up to a century ago is now routine procedure for police across the country. He rightfully earned the accolade “Father of Modern American Policing” and did more than anyone else to make policing a proper profession with intelligent rules, standards, accountability, and ongoing training. 

Some of Vollmer’s policies and actions from before World War II would gain the support of Berkeley’s most vehement police critics today. 

If one of his police officers hit a suspect, except in clear self-defense, he told them it would be a firing offense. When a suspect who was being brought to the Berkeley jail escaped and was cornered by police nearby, Vollmer ordered his pursuing officers to put away their guns and re-captured the man himself without a weapon.  

His philosophy was that the punishment should fit the crime—and thus shooting an unarmed man for running away from police would not be tolerated. (Although he also said that if someone shot at police, the police could shoot back to kill.) 

When he met new officers for training, Vollmer told them that “I’ll admire you more if in the first year (on the force) you don’t make a single arrest. I’m not judging you on arrests. I’m judging you on how many people you keep from doing something wrong. Remember, you’re almost a father-confessor; you’re to listen to people…” 

He added “You’re not to judge people; you’re just to report what they do wrong. Better still, you can prevent people from doing wrong. That’s the mission of a policeman.” 

There, in a nutshell, is a key philosophy that is almost literally at war today with the way many people in the United States view the role of the police.  

Are the police like soldiers—trained to exert increasing (and increasingly lethal) force with an array of techniques and weaponry, until an identified “enemy” is subdued or destroyed?  

Or are they specially trained people in a civilian profession (albeit, armed) whose role is not only to enforce the law but to help de-escalate conflict and prevent problems?  

Vollmer, I think, was closer to the latter perspective even though he, himself, was a military veteran with extensive combat experience.  

Police, in his view I think, would not be uniformed para-military “warriors” patrolling the streets. They would be community builders and peace-keepers in the non-martial sense of the word. 

Vollmer was extremely progressive for his era. He was against the death penalty (he even wrote a position paper on it) and worked to keep juveniles out of the criminal justice system. He was firmly against the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and argued that drug addiction should be handled as a medical, not a criminal, matter. He had his officers take drunk and disorderly people home if possible, rather than throwing them in jail. Many people he’d arrested and sent to jail later came to visit him after their release. 

In a time when most police officers had no more than a junior high school education (and Vollmer himself had attended only elementary school and one year of trade school) he emphasized hiring “college cops” and continuing education.  

He took full advantage of his post in a university town, repeatedly approaching and working with UC faculty to figure out how to apply their research and expertise to police matters like forensics, analysis of crime patterns, and criminal psychology. He helped found, and became a professor in, what was a widely respected Criminology School at UC Berkeley. 

Vollmer, the first child born to two German immigrants, came to Berkeley as a teenager, after his widowed mother relocated the family from New Orleans to San Francisco, then across the Bay. His early career ambition was to become a stenographer, but he ended up as a young man opening a feed store on Shattuck Avenue (fun fact; his store was where the Cheeseboard now operates).  

He enlisted in the Army during the Spanish American War, fought in the Philippines, got a job as a mail carrier in Berkeley after his discharge, and later ran for Town Marshal, just in time to help Berkeley cope with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. When Berkeley switched to an appointed police chief, Vollmer was hired for the job. 

During his tenure he pioneered many police innovations—bicycle patrols (in 1906), automobile patrols (in 1908 when motor vehicles were still few and far between on Berkeley streets), police radios, junior “police” for traffic safety around schools—and was solidly against any form of police corruption, inefficiency, or malfeasance, not only in Berkeley but in several cities where he was temporarily hired to implement police reforms.  

The Berkeley Police were one of the first departments to try out lie detectors, which ultimately didn’t live up to their early promise, but represented Vollmer’s tireless efforts to apply science, rather than brute force, to law enforcement. 

He hired Berkeley’s first woman police officer a century ago (although he also assigned her in part to work as a department stenographer and switchboard operator), welcomed a woman reporter from the Oakland Tribune to regularly cover the Berkeley Police—and even gave her a desk at the police station—and hired Berkeley’s first African-American police officer in 1918. 

When he hired the latter, Walter Gordon, a Cal graduate who was also working his way through law school at UC, Vollmer was confronted by several of his white officers who opposed the move. He listened to them complain, then said he was sorry they didn’t like his choice, and they could resign and leave their badges by the door as they left his office (none resigned, but he later fired one of them who continued to oppose having an African-American on the police force.) 

In sum, Vollmer was ahead of his time. And he helped make Berkeley a nationally famous city. Yes, Berkeley had a reputation, before the Sixties. 

For more information on Vollmer and the book, see this story at the UC Berkeley NewsCenter site: 


Steven Finacom is the past president of the Berkeley Historical Society. 

Commemorating the Japanese Internment

Harry Brill
Friday April 21, 2017 - 10:56:00 AM

Seventy five years ago FDR signed an executive order that sent almost 120,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps. Some government officials described the policy as an evacuation which implied that moving the Japanese out of their homes was not such a terrible decision. Actually, they were being sent to the equivalent of concentration camps, where they lived behind barb wire fences until the end of the war. The soldiers who guarded the camps could shoot anyone who attempted to escape. 

The forced relocation of the Japanese was explained by the importance of protecting the nation's national security. But the Japanese committed no crime and nor were they accused of doing so. Most west coast Japanese were not newcomers. Sixty-two percent were American citizens. 

Although the national security issues were the public explanation for interning Japanese Americans, the government actually knew better. One year before FDR's executive order, the President secretly commissioned a study to determine whether Japanese Americans would be a threat to U.S. Security. Called the Munson Report, it was submitted to the President one month before Pearl Harbor was bombed. The report found that "the local Japanese are loyal to the United States". Another study written by a Naval Intelligence officer found nothing to worry about. He claimed that incarcerating the Japanese was unjustified. Also, the FBI director, J. Edger Hoover told the Attorney General that there was no need to evacuate Japanese Americans for security reasons. All these assurances were ignored. 

The United States was also at war with Germany and Italy. Yet there was no comparable mass roundup of Germans and Italians. Clearly, the racist attitudes toward the Japanese played a decisive role in how they were mistreated. Prejudice against Asians has had a long history in the US. The racism was further inflamed by Pearl Harbor and the war with Japan. But since the Japanese Americans posed no threat to national security, why did the national government take such extraordinary steps? 

The racist pressure on the government was tremendous, particularly from agribusiness, which very much wanted to take over the farms owned by the Japanese. The Japanese Americans were the largest supplier to California's fruit and vegetable market. The white farmers and truckers were not subtle about their interest in acquiring Japanese property. The Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association acknowledged "if all the Japs were removed tomorrow, we would never miss them because the white farmers can take over and produce everything that the Japanese grow. The Chamber of Commerce as well as the farm organizations echoed the same view. 

But obviously, relocating the Japanese without forcing them to surrender their property would not have served the interests of the agricultural industry. So the regulations required that they sell almost all their belongings and property within ten days, which forced the Japanese to sell their possessions at much lower prices than they would have ordinary receive. Moreover, they could only take to the internment camp what they were able to carry. What they did not sell was taken over in one way or another by others. 

Many years later, in 1988, the federal government officially apologized for the enforced relocation of Japanese Americans. Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act which apologized to the Japanese and paid survivors $20,00 each for the enforced relocation. Although the Republicans voted against the bill, President Reagan, who was a Republican, signed the law. When we take into account the nightmare that afflicted the Japanese along with losing their property and belongings, the compensation was really minimal. Although the public apology was certainly appropriate, it would have been much more credible if all branches of government had denounced the judicial decision that justified the incarceration. It is not only a Japanese problem. All minorities can be at risk. 

P.S. Berkeley will commemorate the tragedy of the Japanese internship Wednesday, April 26 at UC Berkeley's Student Union from 5 to 7:30p.m. Sam Mihara, who was 9 years old when he was interned, will talk about his experience.

Updated: Advisory ALERT: Police Activity, shelter in place

Berkeley Police Department
Friday April 21, 2017 - 06:24:00 PM

UDPDATE, 7pm. Police activity terminated, area secured. 

Issuing a shelter in place for the area of

2200 block of McKinley 1800 block of Allston 1800 block of Bancroft 2200 block of Grant

Police activity in the area. Officers may be checking behind buildings and homes. Please stay inside. Or avoid the area.

Contact 911 if you need help, see or hear anything suspicious. 


PLANET UPDATE: At 6:30 pm the BPD dispatcher told the Planet that the suspect, still being sought, was a man with a gun. She said he'd been described as an African-American in his twenties, wearing a blue polo shirt and blue acid-washed jeans. 


The Editor's Back Fence

Public Comment

Probing the Deep State

Joanna Graham
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:31:00 AM

On March 20th, David Remnick pointed out in The New Yorker that the term “deep state” comes from the Turkish derin devlet, where it refers to a clandestine network of military and intelligence officers whose mission is to protect the secular state established by Kemal Atatürk. This was in an opinion piece asserting that the U.S., contrary to dark mutterings emanating from the right, has no “deep state.”

Unaware of the Turkish connection until alerted by Remnick, I first encountered the term a few months ago in Mike Lofgren’s book of the same name which many on the left have also apparently read. Lofgren worked for nearly 30 years as a (Republican) congressional aide, with special expertise in budgetary matters. The job placed him in the heart of the action, but more as an observer than participant. His book is meant to be a report on how Washington actually works (starting with a fascinating survey of who lives in which suburbs). His argument is not that there is a conspiratorial cabal but, rather, an unstoppable inertial force created by the sum total of each person who is engaged directly or peripherally in the process of government looking out for number one. He specifically states that it makes no difference who is president, because the same policies will be carried out regardless.  


One of the things that interested me when Donald Trump won the election was that his presidency would provide a near perfect test of the Lofgren thesis. Never before in memory had such a completely outside person gained the Oval Office. Although appalled by many of Trump’s stated intentions, I did find his foreign policy utterances (or at least some of them) far preferable to Hillary Clinton’s near-maniacal hawkishness, and I was encouraged that Trump clearly wished to reset with Russia and seemed unmoved by many of the arguments for American military engagement here there and everywhere. He stated repeatedly that the Middle East is a mess from which we should disengage and that defeating ISIS was the great priority, not regime change in Syria. In fact, to my great relief, at the end of March—two very long weeks ago—the administration signaled that getting rid of Assad was no longer a U.S. priority. Apparently (up until that moment) Trump meant what he had said. 

A day or two after the air strike on Syria, I lay in bed and counted the days between Trump’s inauguration and that action. Eleven in January, 28 in February, 31 in March, and seven in April. Seventy-seven days or 11 weeks exactly. 

That’s how long it took for the deep state to take charge, for Washington to get back on track, for the actually-existing Trump administration to start acting like the Clinton administration that so many believe should have been but isn’t. 

Just coincidentally a few hours before the U.S. missiles flew, Hillary herself told Nicholas Kristof that she has long believed we should “take out” Assad’s airfields. I’d been starting to forget the way she so obviously relishes that macho military talk! Of course she failed to top Brian Williams who called the missile strikes “beautiful, beautiful” or Fareed Zakaria who said that Trump had become presidential at last. The joy of the deep state was shamelessly on display. What did it really matter that Maria Bartiromo had to gently correct the president when he couldn’t remember which country had been the target? 

Of course at this moment, there are alternative explanations of the source of the nerve gas and, without investigation, we may never know which is true. Meanwhile, many theories have bubbled up as to possible motives for Trump’s instantaneous response: distinguishing himself from Obama, who balked when his own “red line” was crossed; demonstrating his toughness to President Xi of China with whom he happened at the time to be sharing “beautiful” chocolate cake; proving to his Democratic harassers that he is not Putin’s puppet. Or maybe he (or Ivanka) truly was upset about the “babies” and did a Trump: take action without reflecting first.  

All of this is conjectural, however. What is not is that Lofgren’s “deep state” thesis has been substantiated with remarkable dispatch. (N.B., I wrote this piece before the remarkable set of “flip-flops” of April 9-15—Janet Yellen, interest rates, etc. etc.—about which I have observed no mainstream commentators remark that they all represent a shift to the conventional inside-the-Beltway positions.)  

Recently I reread E.M. Forster’s Howards End and came across this startling passage: “Frieda was sharp, abominably sharp, and quite capable of remarking: ‘You love one of the young gentlemen opposite, yes?’ The remark would be untrue, but of the kind which, if stated often enough, may become true; just as the remark, ‘England and Germany are bound to fight,’ renders war a little more likely each time that it is made, and is therefore made the more readily by the gutter press of either nation.” It is worth noting that Howards End was published in 1910, four years before the guns of August commenced their firing. At the moment we seem to have almost nothing but gutter press and it is falling all over itself to congratulate Trump for doing the right thing. How do we stop the coming war(s), when that constellation of powers which runs things, whether we call it the deep state or not—the political class (whether in or out of power), the weapons industry, the stock market, the media—are all so determined to fight them? 


"Don't Get Nonviolent With Me"

Harry Brill
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:16:00 AM

Among the most immensely important lessons we can learn on the impact of nonviolence is the victory to desegregate the racist city, Birmingham in Alabama. Activists had nicknamed the City Bombingdale because of the frequency of violent attacks against those who were fighting segregation.

In 1963 over 3,000 young African Americans, from age12 on organized a march down the bigoted and dangerous streets of Birmingham. Many youngsters participated despite the disapproval of their parents. These courageous and principled youngsters confronted considerable violence. Led by the infamous Bull Conner, the police turned fire hoses and attack dogs on the marchers. They were then arrested.

The event and brutality were headlined across the nation and across the world, which in turn generated considerable support for the desegregation movement. As a result of the public pressure that these youngsters generated, the City relented. Birmingham was not only desegregated. Sixteen years later the Birmingham elected a black mayor. 

Despite the considerable physical abuse that these youngsters endured none of them retaliated with acts of violence. Had they done so it would have been most unlikely that they would have won. We were taught a very important lesson in the value of nonviolence.. At least I hope so.

Defending Free Speech in Berkeley Against Violence

Raymond Barglow
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:00:00 AM
Berkeley's Mike Berkowitz confronts a Trumper
Raymond Barglow
Berkeley's Mike Berkowitz confronts a Trumper
Old guys have at'im non-violently
Old guys have at'im non-violently

On Saturday, May 15, Berkeley was once again used by the far right to make the case that this town is intolerant of free speech. The message conveyed by the mass media is that the left hates free speech so much that it will do violence to those who practice it. The photographs of pro-Trump protestors with bloodied heads – photographs that were posted on Huffington Post as well as on right-wing websites across the country – are presented as compelling evidence in favor of this thesis. What a travesty of the free speech values Berkeley conveyed to the world a half century ago!
Those on the right pick Berkeley to hold their rallies because this community has in the past been a beacon of free thought and expression, and they count on a few people (many of whom do not live in Berkeley) to react by assaulting Trump followers, resulting in brawling and injuries featured by the media. 

The argument made for violently preventing pro-Trump activists from holding a rally is that we must prevent fascism from organizing here in Berkeley or anywhere else. But attempting to shut down speech in this way is manifestly counter-productive. Right wing forces celebrate all the positive attention they receive from protests like the one they organized on Saturday, heralding themselves as “defenders of free speech” bravely standing up to the violent left. This message helps the far right gain sympathy and turn public attention away from progressive ideas and causes. 

The way to confront and resist right-wing speech is not by violently attacking those who voice it, but by advocating on behalf of free speech, social justice, and non-violence. As FSM veteran Paul Coopersmith writes, “We must not be remiss in confronting those on the far right, whose visions of how things ought to be lie so beyond the pale. But neither should we stoop to their level.” We can win over many Trump supporters with a progressive agenda that includes good jobs, good schools, restoration of the nation’s decaying infrastructure, and medical care for all.  

As a participant in Saturday’s events, it struck me (and other witnesses with whom I spoke) that the police officers on the scene, although they made a few arrests, mostly stood by as the violence was happening. When a large crowd gathered at the corner of Center and Milvia, and pro-Trump demonstrators and anti-Trump activists (chanting “Poke a Nazi in the eye”) were physically attacking one another, the police simply stood idly by, one-half block away. 

When a police officer was asked why he and his colleagues were not taking action to prevent the violence, he replied that it was deemed advisable to stay out of the fracas, “We get blamed if we intervene -- people say we are being repressive.”  

A related reason given for police inaction is that if the police place themselves in between the two sides, then they will be targeted by the anti-Trump demonstrators and the violence will escalate. But by standing aside, the police in effect give permission to the instigators of violence to easily and directly attack those whom they disagree with. The response, when a self-styled “anti-fascist” individual throws an object or a punch at a police officer in this situation, should be to arrest that individual. 

The above reasoning for police inaction reminds me of the response to “Black lives matter!” protests in Ferguson and elsewhere: police say that “Well, if you don’t want us to intervene forcefully when the law is broken, then we won’t, and you’ll just have to live with the consequences!” This rationalization, offered by police departments across the country, has now come to Berkeley. 

Our local police abetted the violence. Police policy could have been to separate the anti-Trump protestors from the pro-Trump protestors, which they could have done using barriers and by inserting themselves physically in between the two groups. They in fact did that successfully in Civic Center Park, across from City Hall, during the first hour or so of the protest. But then the two groups walked out into the street. Instead of following them, the police remained behind, allowing the violent activists dressed in black to assault pro-Trump people, who responded violently. Photos and video taken of the event show many instances of violence, with not a policeman or policewoman in sight. 

The brawling and ensuing injuries and bloodshed could have been avoided had the police acted diligently. Those city officials and police responsible for planning and organizing the police presence at the April 15 protest, and also at the similarly violent protest that took place in Berkeley on March 4, acted irresponsibly and should be held accountable.

New: Police can't solve revolution

Thomas Lord
Thursday April 27, 2017 - 10:57:00 AM

It occurs to me that in the end, the police can not dispel this series of clashes. Indeed, the police are the very fulcrum used to lift these events into broader social significance. 

Police are seemingly in a double-bind. On the one hand they are bound to "public safety". On the other to "free speech". 

Those categories, though, overlook the obvious central concern of policing: property. 

The police's primary concerns in these events all revolve around property: public or private, this jurisdiction or that. 

Whatever their well-meaning intent, the laws they are now given the impossible task of upholding all center around who may associate and speak WHERE and WHEN. It is about the use of the ground. This may be made even more obvious by considering the twists of jurisdiction lines between UCPD and BPD, and the looming threat of other forms of police from higher (enclosing) jurisdictions (the county, state, or federal government). 

Freedom of speech, so called, in the bourgeois state (sorry, I know that's a trigger word for some) is entirely contingent on bourgeois property: property considered from the perspective of the capitalist; property rights as the hierarchical assignment of administrative rights over the potential productive uses of -- in this case -- land and buildings. 

So there is a circle of contradictions: the state can not impose prior restraint on assembly or speech which contradicts in this case the needs of public safety; the policing of public safety in this case contradicts the limits of the property rights of the trustees of public property. 

I think it only underscores the whole thing that Coulter was said to be coming here to talk about "immigration" and the white nationalists are on an ethnic purge trip. Both amount to the same thing: a fervent desire to eradicate the cultural cacophony of an open labor market, to push out the competition, and to establish (in their imagination at least) a prosperous volksreich uniting labor and capital in some utopian dream. 

The nazism, white nationalism, ult-right or whatever you prefer to call it is nothing less than a logical extension of Berkeley's own liberal capitalism. Look in the mirror, Berkeley. The two sides in that equation -- liberalism and the ult-right differ only in small degrees on such questions as the details of border controls and cultural policing aimed at the smooth functioning of capital. It never occurs to either side that there may very well be -- indeed history suggests there is not -- any solution to that problem. Whether it is whites-only or "intersectional", the volksreich is an oxymoron. 

We live in an era when on the one hand capital simply has no use for anywhere near the supply of labor power; and on the other hand in which the global imperative, or at least that in the more or less developed world, is that one must sell their labor power or die. 

Without the struggle for supremacy within the already oppressed labor market, this fight wouldn't exist. It's no accident that this fight started in the depths of the Great Depression, and now returns in the wake of the crisis of 2008. 

Looking at results and trends in France, and Europe more broadly: I think this may be the new normal, pending revolution.


Jagjit Singh
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 10:18:00 AM

The Peace & Justice Center of Palo Alto hosted a wonderful yet profoundly disturbing documentary, “Cowspiracy”. The makers of the film, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, highlighted the damaging impact of factory farms on the health and survival of our fragile planet. 

They argue that animal farms are the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. 

Factory farms are collectively responsible for significantly more greenhouse gases than the burning and extraction of fossil fuels, and fracking. It is also the leading cause of the extinction of the species, topsoil erosion, and destruction of ocean life. What irked and confused the authors was these earth killing activities are almost entirely ignored even by virtually every other environmental agency. 

What is equally disturbing is what appears to be an intentional refusal to openly discuss the issue of animal agriculture, while industry whistleblowers and watchdogs warn the film makers they face considerable risks in their groundbreaking expose’. It appears that animal agriculture is a highly lucrative business protected by powerful lobbyists and politicians. 

The film offers some a startling statistics: livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.  

Methane emitted by livestock is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2. 

Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a deadly greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. This deadly gas remains in the atmosphere for 150 years. 

Emissions from agriculture are projected to increase 80% by 2050. 

Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day, 

Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually compared to fracking (hydraulic fracturing) whose usage ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually. 

Feed crops for livestock consume 56% of water in the US.  

477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese. 

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk. 

Having shorter showers will not really have much impact considering, only 5% of water is consumed in by private homes compared with 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture. Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. 

When you reach for your next hamburger, remember 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. The authors recommend we all switch to a plant based diet (vegetarian or vegan) to protect the environment. The book offers many mouthwatering recipes. 

The film has been translated into Spanish and German with English subtitles and into 10 other languages, including Chinese and Russian.


New: SENIOR POWER:Gutsy librarians

Helen Rippier Wheeler
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 10:36:00 AM
Clara Estelle Breed (1906-1994)
Clara Estelle Breed (1906-1994)

Clara Estelle Breed (1906-1994)

Do you assume much doesn’t go on in the lives of library staffers beyond the spectacles and reading all those books? Well, meet Miss Breed, a professional librarian who took chances, risked her career and income by taking an activist stance during World War II. Does any of this sound familiar in today’s library milieu? It does to me—for several reasons. Read on. 

Clara Breed was the San Diego Public Library’s first Children’s Librarian. She worked in the branch used by the city’s Japanese American children. Within four months of December 7, 1941, San Diego Nikkei were forced to leave their homes, schools, jobs, and public libraries. At the train station Miss Breed distributed self-addressed post cards to “her children.” And she continued her concern by sending them packages of books and other necessities that she purchased as she became aware of their locations in various internment camps. And she wrote about their condition and struggled to get published in so-called library literature. There’s more. 

I learned of this strong woman in October 2007 when I happened to tune into Book-TV. Joanne Oppenheim was relating her experiences writing Dear Miss Breed; True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference to an audience that included many of Miss Breed’s children and their children at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles (www.janm.org). 

I’ve described this wonderfully illustrated and written book in the barest terms. One of the subject headings suggested by the U.S. Library of Congress catalogers is JUVENILE LITERATURE, but it should be read for enlightenment and pleasure by everyone. It is listed in the Berkeley Public Library collections’ catalog. 

Dear Miss Breed: true stories of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and a librarian who made a difference / by Joanne Oppenheim; foreword by Elizabeth Kikuchi Yamada; afterword by Snowden Becker New York: Scholastic Nonfiction, 2006. 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Reaching Out to Trump Voters

Bob Burnett
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:03:00 AM

On April 17th, my Berkeley Indivisible group hosted a two-hour discussion on "Reaching out to Trump voters," featuring UC professors Arlie Hochschild and George Lakoff. Participants learned how to approach a group that some consider a lost cause.

After November 8, many progressives were dismayed to learn that one or more members of their family had voted for Donald Trump. It wasn't some random Republican in a remote red state, it was someone they had shared holidays and vacations with. It was a beloved member of their family.

Indivisible was founded with two primary values in mind: inclusivity and nonviolence. Reaching out to a Trump voter is a reflection of inclusivity, including everyone in the conversation. Involving every voter regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, or how they voted on November 8th.

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn defined nonviolence as "love in action." Certainly reaching out to a family member who voted for Trump is love in action. 

Conflict-resolution studies suggest ten tips for talking to difficult people; ten lessons that are applicable to talking to a family member who voted for trump: First, do it in private. This is not a conversation that should take place in a typical family setting such as Thanksgiving dinner after a couple of drinks. Second, leave plenty of time for the conversation. This is not a conversation that will consume only a few minutes; allocate several hours. Third, begin with the well-formed intention to listen to the member of your family who voted for Trump. Fourth, make sure that you have the energy to do this. If you are getting over a cold and didn't sleep the night before then today is probably not a good time to have a difficult conversation with "Uncle Al." Fifth, sustain eye contact. This is a good practice in all intimate conversations but particularly important in dealing with difficult people. 

Sixth, recognize when you are "triggered." Recognition of triggers is worthy of a special training; suffice it to say that if, during your conversation with Uncle AL, you suddenly feel very angry or you have gone numb, you are likely "triggered." Seventh, if you are triggered it's okay to ask for a timeout. Take the time you need to collect yourself. Eighth, it's a good idea to practice your interaction with Uncle Al ahead of time; that is, have a friend play the part of Uncle Al and practice a conversation about why Uncle Al voted for Trump. Ninth, it's okay to take more than one session to talk to Uncle Al. If after an hour, you feel your energy drain, it's okay for you to say, "We've accomplished a lot. How about scheduling another meeting." Finally, if more than one member of your family voted for Trump, take them one at a time. (Save Aunt Minnie for later.) 

After reading Hochschild and Lakoff, I deduced seven observations they share about reaching out to Trump voters: 

1. Listen: Trump voters expect liberals to disrespect them. Therefore, no matter how outrageous Uncle Al's statements may be, listen, and perhaps comment, "I'm interested that you think that." 

2. Do not insult Trump. Hochschild and Lakoff's writings make it clear that Trump voters identify with Trump; to them, he's successful, politically incorrect, and a guy who has beaten the system. When they say something positive about Trump, reply, "I hear what you say but I'm worried about corruption and safety. Corruption because Trump will not reveal his tax returns and safety because of his ties to Russia. What do you think?" 

3. Clarify your own values: Trump voters have different values from liberals. Before you talk to Uncle Al, be clear about your own values. For example, do you believe that we are "our brother's keeper and our sister's keeper?" Search for common ground. For example, does the Trump voter believe in "the Golden Rule?" How does that belief apply to treatment of people of color?" George Lakoff suggests: we ask Uncle Al, "What actions are you most proud of?" 

4. Recognize worldview: Trump voters see the world as an elaborate hierarchy (with rich American white straight Christian guys at the top). Nonetheless, most Americans cherish the myth of "the little guy who started out with nothing and fought his way to the top." Search for common ground on the concept of fairness; everyone deserves a chance. 

5. Be careful about climate change: Most Trump voters do not believe in global climate change. Rather than take on this issue in general, talk about a specific local issue such as contaminated drinking water. Say, "I believe that we should protect our children from contaminated water. Don't you agree?" 

6. Be careful about race, ethnicity, and national origin: Many Trump voters live in segregated communities and do not know immigrants or have social contacts with people of color. Search for common ground by referring to "the Golden Rule." "What would Jesus do if he saw a Black man being beaten by the police?" 

7. Take back patriotic symbols: Search for common ground using the symbols of patriotism: flag, constitution, and love of country. You can say, "I'm reaching out to you because I love you and I love America." 

Trump voters are not "deplorables." There's a way to reach out to beloved family members who voted for Trump. It begins with listening. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: FYI: My Pinched Nerve Episode

Jack Bragen
Friday April 21, 2017 - 10:48:00 AM

This week's column recounts my episode with a pinched nerve, and how I discovered that it was probably caused by an antipsychotic medication.

Risperdal is one of the first, if not the first of what are now called, "second-generation antipsychotics." In the past they were dubbed, "atypical antipsychotics" because of the mistaken belief that they didn't do the absurdly bad things to the human body that older medications do.

Actually, I think Clozapine was the first. Clozapine is an incredibly powerful antipsychotic that causes agranulocytosis in about one percent of the people taking it. This is the loss of white blood cells that are responsible for our immunity to diseases and infections. Regular blood tests are required with Clozapine because of that. However, I digress...

It wasn't until the newer medications had been around for a while, that it became known that these medications in fact do the same horrible things to the human body as the old meds, and worse.  

Because of the severity of my psychotic problems, for the past fifteen years or more I have been taking the maximum of two different antipsychotics. For a long time, one of these was Risperdal, which is the trade name for Risperidone.  

Anyway, several years back I had unexplainable, severe pain in my entire right arm. It would not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. At some point I guessed that I had a pinched nerve. I saw a doctor and was put on a muscle relaxant. This was fairly sedating, especially in combination with my other medications. I would be flat on my back for a large part of the day, due to a combination of pain, which wasn't entirely gone, and sedation.  

After several weeks of this, I somehow guessed that it could have been the Risperdal causing the pinched nerve. I asked my psychiatrist to switch me to something else. And that took care of the problem.  

Atypical, or "second generation" antipsychotics are usually more powerful compared to the older medications, and when taking them, you are subject to the same horrific side effects. Muscle tension is not an unusual side effect. Muscle tension of the muscles that hook into the spine can cause a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve could cause a great deal of pain, and/or it could cause other problems.  

I was fortunate that I didn't go after a stronger pain reliever, even though the pain was very intense in my arm. A pain reliever doesn't address the problem of a pinched nerve, although it might make a person so drugged out that he or she no longer cares if their body is hurting.  

Switching to a different antipsychotic was good enough to solve the problem, for me, at the time. It was not necessary to quit all antipsychotics.  

The above is informational only. And, as always, you should consult with a treatment professional, such as your psychiatrist, if you have questions. I am not an MD, or a PhD, and I do not have a license to dispense advice to anyone.  

Jack Bragen is author of "Schizophrenia: My 35 Year Battle," "Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia: A Self-Help Manual," and, "Stories to Read at the Kitchen Table at Night."  




Arts & Events

New: A dazzling display of piano artistry by Saleem Ashkar

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday April 25, 2017 - 10:17:00 AM

There are so many young instrumental soloists endowed with prodigious technique breaking into the international concert circuit these days that it’s hard to keep up. Where concert pianists are concerned, the New Yorker recently ran rave pieces about Yuja Wang and Daniil Trifonov, two of the most heralded young artists currently making a big splash. On Friday evening, April 21, U.C. Berkeley’s Hertz Hall hosted a recital by another illustrious newcomer, Palestinian-Israeli pianist Saleem Ashkar, who performed four piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven. Ashkar made his Carnegie Hall debut a few years ago at age 22, and since then he has performed with conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Muti, Ricardo Chailly, and Fabio Luisi, to name only a few. Ashkar’s current project is a complete Beethoven sonata cycle presented by Konzerthaus Berlin and performed in parallel in Prague, Osnabrück, and Israel. Here at Hertz Hall, under the auspices of Cal Performances, Ashkar performed Beethoven’s Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3; Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, Appassionata; Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, Les Adieux; and Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110.  

This was a well-chosen program featuring works from Beethoven’s early, middle, late, and very late periods. Playing these works in chronological order, Ashkar gave us a glimpse of how Beethoven’s musical style developed and expanded over time. First on the program was Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3, which replaced the listed item, Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Op. 10, No. 2. The switch was fortuitous, for the third of Beethoven’s Op. 10 sonatas is generally considered the most interesting and probing of the three. Its opening movement, expertly played by Saleem Ashkar, was a Presto full of changes in dynamics and much cross-hand passage work. Then came the elegant and somber Largo e mesto, a melancholy movement with achingly beautiful melodies. The third movement, a Menuetto, was a lively and captivating piece in the hands of Saleem Ashkar. The final movement, a Rondo, brought this sonata to an elegant close. 

Next on the program was the Appassionata Sonata. This sonata may or may not have been inspired by Beethoven’s romantic interest in one or the other of two sisters, Therese and Josephine von Brunswick, though Beethoven vacillated between the two and never got very far with either. But the Appassionata sonata is indeed an impassioned work of music. As usual, Beethoven threw his libidinal passions into his music. The Appassionata Sonata is in three movements, fast, slow, fast. The tone is tragic throughout, with hardly a hint of positive affirmation. The first and last movements are massive sonata-form essays, and the middle movement is a brief set of variations seemingly intent on making time stand still. Saleem Ashkar’s tone throughout the Appassionata was fulsome to say the least. His technique was in prodigious display. The Appassionata has always struck me as perhaps too much of one thing – it’s all passion, but a blind, all-consuming passion bound to fail. Yet in the hands of Saleem Ashkar a fine case was made for this impassioned piano sonata.  

After intermission Saleem Ashkar played Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, Les Adieux. In this work Ashkar ably displayed his delicate and cheerful side, as he brought out Beethoven’s positive and heartfelt feelings for his young 20-year-old patron and student, Archduke Rudolph, on the occasion in 1809 when the advancing Napoleonic forces were moving on Vienna and obliging the Archduke to flee to safety. A work in three movements, whose titles are given in French as Les Adieux, L’Absence, and Le Retour, this sonata opens ominously, then quickly breaks into a melody of fond farewell, whose first three notes seemingly echo the three syllables of the French title Les Adieux. The middle movement is an Andante espressivo, full of touching chromaticisms. The third and final movement marks the happy return of the Archduke when the danger has passed. Saleem Ashkar navigated the changing moods of this wonderful sonata in exquisite fashion, leaving no doubt, if ever there was one, as to whether this was a pianist who was all technique but devoid of sensitivity. Quite the contrary, Saleem Ashkar brings a very high level of sensitivity along with his prodigious technique. 

These two qualities were also much in evidence in Ashkar’s performance of this program’s final work, the Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110. Composed in 1822, this work is considered one of the towering peaks of piano literature. By this late date in Beethoven’s career, the composer seems to have found the complete fusion of sonata, variation, and fugue that were to mark his last great works. There is a serene vision at play here, a vision of unity rather than contrast and struggle. The opening movement, marked Moderato cantabile, is sunny throughout. Likewise with the second movement, an Allegro molto. The Adagio begins with a delicate Arioso dolente, then transitions to what is without a doubt Beethoven’s sunniest fugue. Here there is no storm and stress as in the Hammerklavier Sonata or Die Grosse Fugue. Here there is a crystalline melody developed in fugal form, with elements of the opening Arioso dolente interspersed between two sections of the fugal finale. Saleem Ashkar brought an equally brilliant amount of sensitivity and technical expertise to the finale of this great Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110. Playing the entire concert from memory, Saleem Ashkar put on a dazzling display of piano artistry. I came away convinced that in Saleem Ashkar we have yet another splendid young concert artist who will make waves for many years to come on the international music scene.

New: MOVIES IN THE MARGINS:Vittorio Gassman Shines in Delicious Dino Risi Italian Film Festival

Gar Smith
Friday April 21, 2017 - 06:35:00 PM

At the Castro Theater—all-day and all-night on April 22.

Here is a challenge for film buffs (and you'll need to be buff to survive this challenge)—a film festival that last just one day! Or, in other words: 13 hours.

On Saturday, April 22, Luce Cinecittà, in collaboration with The Italian Cultural Institute and Cinema Italia San Francisco are celebrating the work of director Dino Risi with "An Homage to the Master of the Comedy Italian Style."

The festivities include four classic films that start screening at 11 in the morning and won't finish until sometime around midnight.

Two bits of good news: (1) There will be a food break at 8:30 in the form of a Commedia all'Italiana Party and (2) the festival's four films are ingenious, wry, intelligent, subversive, and flat-out hilarious.

If you don't know much about the great Italian star Vittorio Gassman, this is a great introduction to a major talent whose work ranged from Shakespearian pathos to sketch-comedy brilliance. The chameleonic Gassman would have been a perfect host for Saturday Night Live.




The Castro Theater only screened two of Risi's comedies for the press—I Mostri (The Monsters) and Il Mathatorre (Love and Larceny). Both were offered in beautifully restored 4k versions for projection on classic 35-mm reels. 

I Mostri (The Monsters) has nothing to do with blockbuster CGI super-apes. Instead, it is a 118-minute comic extravaganza starring two Italian film legends—Vittorio Gassman and Ugo Tagnazzi. 

The hi-jinks in I Mostri begin with the opening credits where we see the names of the two stars. Then they immediately appear again but on different parts of the screen. And again, and again! That's part of the joke. I Mostri is a compilation of 20 wildly different sketches staring Gassman and Tagnazzi in shifting roles—together in some of the stories and going solo in others. They play thieves, con artists, overbearing fathers, priests, cops, and adulterers. In one delicious vignette, Gassman does a marvelous drag turn as a rather tall femme fatale. 

Some of these monster-tales are wordless and last less than a minute; others are so hyper-wordy that the subtitles start to flicker in an attempt to keep up with Gassman's verbal velocity. 

Risi gleefully explained that this "ultimate Italian omnibus film" was dedicated to celebrating his "distrust in humanity." (Note: Look for the running joke about Italy's post-war car-of-choice, the "Fiat 100.") 

Here's the Full Lineup  

1:00 PM - Il Mattatore (Love and Larceny) – 1960, 104 min 

3:30 PM – Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman) – 1974, 103 min 

6:00 PM - Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life) – 1962, 108 min
8:30 PM - Commedia all'Italiana Party
10:00 PM - I Mostri (15 from Rome – Opiate '67) – 1963, 118 min 


Il Mattatore (Love and Larceny), 1960  

In this tale of cheats and cheaters, Gassman is a failed actor whose timing is so bad he even gets booed off-stage when he attempts stand-up. Full of vim and lots of Italian vinegar, Gassman's flailing thespian channels his talents in a new direction and finds success as a con man. It's crime as performance art and funny as heck. He finds an engaging crime-partner in the vivacious Peppino De Filippo and embarks on the kind of tale where you would be well-advised not to trust anyone (and even then, you'll be surprised by a plot that takes some surprising turns). "It was a game of Chinese boxes," Risi said of this film. 

Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman), 1974 

Risi's Oscar-nominated hit was the inspiration for the 1992 American film, Scent of a Woman, starring Al "Hoowah!" Pacino. In the original, Gassman portrays a blind military vet who prowls Rome's streets and suites like a lecherous, wounded leopard. Recruiting a young sidekick, captain and kid set off on a road trip that takes the pair from Turin to Naples in a desperate search for carnal encounters. Gassman's performance scored a Best Actor award at Cannes. 

Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life), 1964 

The festival hosts describe The Easy Life as classic Italian comedy —"hedonistic, ironically detached, and at times vicious and gloomy." An acknowledged Risi masterpiece, the film goes on the road with two charismatic rascals. Bruno (Gassman) is the wild one and Roberto (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is the honest, dependable one. As they cruise the Italian landscape from Rome to Tuscany they encounter the kinds of tests and tribulations that can enrich—and disrupt—lasting friendships. "This was the first time Gassman had made a comedy with his own face," Risi observed. "Gassman's character was prone to wishful thinking, inconsistent, superficial, aggressive, a bit of a Fascist, but with a certain impact." And, Risi added, "I had a few people I knew in mind when I was creating him." 

PS: If you can't make the Film Festival, several of these classics are available for viewing online.