The Week



Re Pepper Spray: an Open Letter to Berkeley City Council

Dr. James McFadden
Wednesday December 20, 2017 - 12:59:00 PM

Mayor and City Council,

As you proceed down the path of giving the Berkeley Police whatever tools of violence they demand, don't forget to consider police impunity and abuse of these pain compliance means of torture. The BPD has failed to acknowledge their role in the death of Kayla Moore and for their their violence against respected members of the community during the black lives matter protests, and have failed to even acknowledge racial profiling as documented in the CPE report. Last night you once again caved to the demands for additional police weapons by authorizing pepper spray use in crowds (thank you Cheryl, Kate, Kriss for voting against pepper spray). I suppose the next police demand will be for tasers when their tactics again fail and they blame the Council for not giving them enough "tools" of violence. -more-

Berkeley and “The Graduate” Fifty Years After

Steven Finacom
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:20:00 PM
The Victorian house at 2400 Dana which served as Dustin Hoffman’s boarding house in “The Graduate”.

This week of Christmas, 2017, it’s fifty years since the premiere of the movie “The Graduate” on December 21, 1967. While film and cultural critics have been musing about the role of the movie in American society, I’ve been looking into its connections to Berkeley for the past several months. -more-

The Long History of the Berkeley Civic Center

Harvey Smith, Author, Berkeley and the New Deal
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:46:00 PM

Berkeley Civic Center as a concept goes back over a hundred years. However, it is also self-evident that a great city deserves a great civic center. -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

What's new in this issue?

Sunday December 17, 2017 - 10:56:00 PM

If you'd like to make sure that you don't miss anything, you can add your name to our subscriber list. Just email and we'll email you links to whatever's been posted in the last seven days. We never share our subscriber list with anyone. -more-

Public Comment

Yemen Situation is Worse

Jagjit Singh
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 06:10:00 PM

The news from war-torn Yemen gets grimmer by the day. -more-

The Thriving Economy: Fact or Fiction

Harry Brill
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:50:00 PM

The press nationwide has been conveying the so called good news they received from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We learned that the economy is thriving and at full employment. Why? 228,000 jobs were created in November. According to the Federal Reserve, the nation is at full employment when the rate is at 5 percent. The November rate was even lower, at 4.1 percent. -more-

Sexual Assault is as American as Cherry Pie

Paula deJoie
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:42:00 PM

Kara Vaughn was the first person who ever told me she had been raped. It happened when she was about 14. She described being forcibly held down by one “friend” while another raped her. They took turns until they left her crumpled, inside and out.

I was a 17 year old freshman at UC Berkeley when I became friends with Kara.

She needed a place to stay. I was living with my grandmother and I talked her into letting Kara move in. We shared a room with twin beds, matching pink bedspreads covered with fuzzy little pink balls. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump Should Resign

Bob Burnett
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 06:05:00 PM

The news story of the year has not been Donald Trump; it has been the "#MeToo" movement, where brave women denounced sexual assault and harassment. This movement brought down Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Now it has prompted new demands for Trump's resignation. -more-

SQUEAKY WHEEL: The Sexism Spectrum

Toni Mester
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:33:00 PM

Why do women have to be groped or raped before male dominance is recognized as systematic oppression? Because sexism spans a wide spectrum of behaviors, many of which are commonly tolerated as human nature or accepted cultural norms. As a result, many men don’t recognize or understand their own aggression, rationalize and defend misconduct, and let other men get away with it. Too often women are shamed into accepting or excusing aggressions, micro or worse. Think Melania Trump and “locker room talk”. -more-

ON MENTAL HEALTH: Harassment Of Disabled Under New State Program

Jack Bragen
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:39:00 PM

Recent California legislation, Assembly Bill 1568, has created a pilot program called "Whole Person Care," a state funded program administered by 19 counties. This project is directed at Medi-Cal recipients, and provides voluntary case management (medical case management and "social" case management). It is intended to reduce the usage of high cost services by those in the Medi-Cal population that a database has determined are "high risk" individuals. The new law provides for coordination between agencies. It provides for tracking of people in a database. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Sexual Harassment -- The Weinstein Effect

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday December 17, 2017 - 12:52:00 PM

Ever since more than eighty women accused movie producer Harvey Weinstein of engaging in sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape, giving rise to the #MeToo Movement, there seems to be daily reports of new accusations of sexual harassment against prominent men. The #MeToo Movement even made the cover of Time Magazine. -more-

Arts & Events

Mark Morris Revives THE HARD NUT

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday December 16, 2017 - 05:30:00 PM

On Friday evening, December 15, Mark Morris Dance Group opened their perennial Christmas favorite, The Hard Nut, for an extensive run through December 24 at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. It’s been more than twenty-five years since Mark Morris premiered The Hard Nut, which of course is his quirky take on Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet The Nutcracker. Based on the story The Nutcracker and the Mouseking by E.T.A. Hoffman, this charming tale involves the Christmas Eve dreams of a young girl, often named Clara, although in Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut she is called Marie. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, December 17-24

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday December 17, 2017 - 11:44:00 AM

December 19 is the last Berkeley City Council meeting before the winter recess. Jammed into the 498 page Agenda Packet is the City Manager’s report on the referral process item 36. This is the list of the work assigned by the City Council to the City Manager. While quite a number of referrals are in process or completed, there are referrals from 2014 that are still lingering unfinished. Also in the packet is the Police Review Commission’s (PRC) recommendation to repeal the September 12, 2017 pepper spray ordinance item 40 a. The City Manager rejects the PRC recommendation in 40 b. recommending the ordinance remain in place. Justification for retaining the policy includes the statement, “On August 27, hundreds [emphasis added] of masked extremists arrived on the scene of an otherwise peaceful event in Civic Center Park, accompanied by a flatbed truck loaded with weapons and shields…” -more-