The Week

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

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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." -more-

A Hawk's Tale

William E. Woodcock
Monday April 24, 2017 - 02:55:00 PM

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. -more-

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. -more-

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.

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. -more-

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.


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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-


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. -more-

"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. -more-

Defending Free Speech in Berkeley Against Violence

Raymond Barglow
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:00:00 AM
Berkeley's Mike Berkowitz confronts a Trumper

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. -more-

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. -more-


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. -more-


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)

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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. -more-

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.