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New: Berkeley Police Seek Man Who Tried to Kidnap Woman on Street

By Bay City News
Tuesday March 11, 2014 - 07:29:00 PM

Police are looking for a man who attempted to kidnap a woman as she was walking home alone in Berkeley on Friday night. 

The 23-year-old Berkeley woman was walking along San Pablo Avenue around 10:20 p.m. when she noticed a man who appeared to be following her, Officer Jennifer Coats said. 

He continued to walk behind her, even as she changed her route numerous times, Coats said.  

As the woman pulled out her cellphone to call for help, the man suddenly grabbed her and forced her off the sidewalk and down a driveway in the 1200 block of San Pablo Avenue, according to Coats. 

The woman clutched her purse and screamed for help as the man grabbed her waist and spoke to her in Spanish, she said. 

A passing motorist saw the distressed woman, stopped and honked. The man released the woman and fled north on San Pablo Avenue, Coats said. 

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man about 23 to 25 years old and 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a thin build and some facial hair. He was wearing a white-and-red San Francisco 49ers baseball-style cap, a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and black-and-red tennis shoes. 

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Berkeley police Detective Melissa Kelly at (510) 981-5735. 


Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


East Bay Residents Warned Against Phony Water District Employees After Utility Truck Is Stolen

By Bay City News
Sunday March 09, 2014 - 11:24:00 PM

East Bay residents should be on the lookout for suspects posing as water department workers after an official truck was stolen from the East Bay Municipal Utility District last week, the district announced today. 

The maintenance truck -- identified as EBMUD vehicle No. 896 -- was a white 2008 F-350 with a California license plate No. 1285077, according to EBMUD. 

The vehicle - which contained an official EBMUD work badge, hard hat, safety vest and tools -- was stolen on Thursday and was later spotted near Redwood Christian Church in Castro Valley on Saturday, according to EBMUD. 

Utility district officials warned East Bay residents to be on the lookout for the stolen truck, and to be aware of suspects possibly posing as utility workers in residential neighborhoods. 

EBMUD said that utility workers making repairs to water lines do not normally ask to enter homes, but might knock on doors to notify residents of temporary water outages. 

Residents should ask to see workers' identification and ask the purpose of their visit. 

Anyone who spots the missing truck should call EBMUD's 24-hour hotline at (866) 403-2683. Anyone who sees suspicious activity should call 911.

Man Found Dead in Berkeley Identified

by Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:38:00 PM

A man who was found dead in an apartment in West Berkeley last Friday was identified by police today as 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier of Berkeley.

Berkeley police also announced they are offering a $15,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects who were responsible for his death.

Police said they were dispatched at about 11:45 a.m. Friday for a welfare check at an apartment in the 1100 block of Addison Street.

They said a community member told them that they were concerned because they hadn't seen Fuselier, who lived in the apartment, for several days.

Officers who entered the apartment found Fuselier dead inside, police said. 

Police said an investigation at the scene determined that Fueslier had been murdered but declined to provide details of the investigation. 

Police said Fueslier's death does not appear to have been a random act but they declined to provide information about his cause of death and other details because they don't want to compromise their investigation. 

Investigators said they believe the $15,000 reward may be helpful in getting information in the case. 

Berkeley police said anyone with information about the crime should call their homicide unit at (510) 981-5741 or their non-emergency number at (510) 981-5741. The said people who want to remain anonymous can call the Bay Area Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-800-222-8477. 




Two Strong Women Making Waves

By Becky O'Malley
Friday March 07, 2014 - 12:53:00 PM

In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, and Women’s History Month let’s celebrate the life and work of a couple of heroines who are still working on their place in history, Sister Megan Rice and Ohio State Senator Nina Turner.

First, Sister Megan, of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, is the 84-year-old nun who’s just been sentenced to three years in jail because she took part in a break-in at the facility where the U.S. stores most of its weapons-grade uranium. She and her two companions wanted to call attention to what they perceived as violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a world agreement supposed to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

I’m particularly proud of Sister Megan because the nuns of the SHCJ taught me in high school in Pasadena. In those days all of our teachers were women, almost all of them nuns. It was a great privilege to learn by their example that women were fully capable of running things, could even tackle subjects like chemistry and math which girls at co-ed schools sometimes were led to believe to be too hard, better left to the boys.

Looking online to learn more about Sister Megan, who might have been one of my teachers, I was amazed to learn that instead she’d spent 40 years in Africa teaching science to African girls. I was impressed by the pictures of the SHCJ sisters in Africa, now almost all of them native to Africa, with just a few of European descent sprinkled among them. They not only run schools, but work in organic agriculture, health, and other diverse fields.

There’s a petition in circulation asking President Obama to pardon Megan Rice and her two co-conspirator peace activists, or to limit their sentences to time served. But I can’t help imagining what a fertile field a women’s prison would be for Sister Megan’s activism and her experience as an educator—she’d be teaching truth there at government expense. Before she was sentenced, she asked the court to send her to jail, so she may have some plans…

What women like Megan Rice show us is that if something needs to be done and no one seems to be doing it, just get moving. The influence of a single determined woman can be enormous.

Another kind of heroine has recently come to my attention, one whose strength is instead working within the system to get things done. Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who has represented a Cleveland district in the Ohio legislature for many years, is now running for Ohio Secretary of State in an attempt to end the Republican domination of that office which has resulted in numerous attempts to keep Democrats, especially African-Americans, from voting. The latest outrage, says Katrina Van Den Heuvel: “Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted moved to restrict early-voting hours in the Buckeye State, eliminating early voting on Sundays and weekday nights.”

Turner’s campaign to end voter suppression in Ohio was profiled by Van Den Heuvel in The Nation: Why This Woman Should Be Ohio’s Next Secretary of State. You can also see her appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show 

Nina Turner plans to make a flying visit to California to raise money at the end of March. I’ve been asked to join a committee to plan a fundraiser for her on March 29th, and I imagine this is something most Northern California women (and even men) can happily get behind. We may have our differences when it comes to local issues, but when it’s a question of stopping right-wing attempts to prevent minority voting in Ohio we can easily agree that we don’t like that kind of behavior. 

We’re seeking more working committee members and honorary co-sponsors. If you’d like to get involved, or if you’d just like to come to the event to meet Senator Turner and/or contribute to her campaign, email me at bomalley@berkeleydailyplanet.com and I’ll put you in touch with the right people. 



The Editor's Back Fence

New: Dreamers of the Week on the Midnight Special:

Tuesday March 11, 2014 - 09:08:00 PM

1) The guy who identified himself to the Berkeley City Council tonight as some kind of managerish person at the Oxford/Center Starbucks. He thinks putting a very popular Starbucks on the corner of Ashby and Telegraph would turn that intersection into a pedestrian mecca. Uh-huh.

2) Then there's Mayor Bates, who expressed surprise that neighbors report the Alta Bates parking garage full at 8am. "Why,"he said, "when I go there at 10 I can find a space." But wait--doesn't he say he's given up his car, that he's a non-driver? Just sayin'

3) And at the tail end of the meeting, at the eleventh hour, literally, the Mayor's Majority, whom he's suckered into believing that filing an action to get a judge to set the district lines for the November local election will result in his district map triumphing. As Councilmember Arreguin pointed out, the judge will be able to examine ALL the plans submitted for consideration, and will be obliged to pick the one which best follows the charter. And that's not the blatant gerrymander which the M's M. passed.

How much will hiring an outside lawyer to sue the city (yes, that's what they're planning to do!)cost the taxpayers? Plenty, and a lot of citizens will remember that when they're deciding how to vote on the revenue measures the council wants to put on the very same ballot.

Public Comment

National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to Meet in Oakland on Sale of Historic Post Offices

By Margot Smith
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:57:00 PM

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) will be meeting in Oakland on March 11, 2014, to hear testimony on the sale of historic post offices and its effect on communities, historic buildings and historic districts. The ACHP is an independent federal agency that promotes preservation and sustainable use of our nation’s historic resources and its members are appointed by President Obama.

The Council is required to develop and submit a plan to Congress by April 17, 2014 to make sure that the U.S. Postal Service follows the law in handling its historic buildings. The ACHP invited groups working on historic preservation to make presentations from 1:45-4:30 PM at the Dellums Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, Oakland. The meeting is by invitation only, and not open to the public. However, the public may submit their concerns in writing. This will be the only meeting in California.

Members of the press should contact the ACHP Office of Communications. The Director is Susan Glimcher, sglimcher@achp.gov Phone: 202-606-8648

ACHP is Required to Investigate the US Postal Service

The ACHP hearing is a result of the efforts of Congresswoman Barbara Lee in including two sections on the sale of historic post offices in the 2014 Appropriations Bill. It first notes that the USPS Inspector General is conducting an investigation into whether the Postal Service is complying with its statutory and regulatory requirements in the relocation of services, closure, and sale of historic post offices. The bill recommends that the USPS “suspend the sale of any historic post office” until the investigation is completed.

The US Postal Service is not complying with the Bills recommendation. David J. Brown, Executive Vice President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, stated that “by moving ahead with the sale of historic post offices across the country the Postal Service is blatantly ignoring this recommendation.”

The second section of the Appropriations Bill states that in 2012 the National Trust on Historic Preservation placed historic post office buildings on its list of America’s most endangered historic places and that “Although the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has been working with the United States Postal Service for almost two years to develop a consistent, transparent, consultative process to preserve these historic properties, no such comprehensive process has been forthcoming.”
The Appropriations Bill directs the ACHP to provide, within 90 days of enactment of this Act, a report on the action plan for ensuring USPS compliance with Section 106 responsibilities during the divestment of historically significant properties.

The Threat to our Cultural Heritage

The historic postal buildings now for sale by the USPS were built with public funds from 1776 through the 1940s. Over 1100 postal building are now in danger. Some already sold were abandoned and demolished. Among those for sale in California are postal buildings in Berkeley, San Rafael, Burlingame, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Glendale, La Jolla, and Redlands. Many communities oppose these sales not only for historic reasons but because their post office is in the heart of their downtown business areas and fulfills their business needs.

These historic post office buildings also house art that was created with public funds during the 1930s under the New Deal. Some of these artists are now well known and their art is valuable. When the art was funded, it was to be accessed by the public into perpetuity. When these postal buildings are sold, the art is closed off to the community. Although “private property” signs have gone up and the wrecking ball has fallen on some of these treasured buildings, there are many can yet be saved.

Local community groups working on saving historic post office buildings include the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, The Living New Deal, National New Deal Preservation Association, the Berkeley Historical Society, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office, the California State Historic Preservation Office, the Berkeley Post Office Defense, the Berkeley Gray Panthers, the La Jolly Historical Society and Save the Redlands Post Office. Working nationally are the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Post Office Collaborate, Communities and Postal Workers United, the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, and Save the Post Office.

Of concern is the USPS' shameless disposal of our heritage and ignoring the requirements for community input. In many cases they did not notify the community of the sales, did not comply with the General Services Administration regulations for preserving historic sites, misrepresented its actions as "relocations" instead of "closures," worked to change the National Environmental Protection Act rules to their advantage, sold to buyers who limit access to the art, and neglected and abandoned buildings.

Moreover, the USPS Office of the Inspector General found that their real estate practices in these sales may be corrupt. In a “Management Alert” memorandum issued on February 12, 2014, the USPS Inspector General identified “financial risks” to the Postal Service in its contract with the real estate firm CBRE. This Postal Service watchdog urged the USPS to “take steps to lessen the potential for CBRE to engage in transactions that create conflicts of interest.” CBRE “conflicts of interest could lead to financial loss to the Postal Service and decrease public trust” in the Postal Service.

USPS management disagrees with the recommendation of the Inspector General and refuses to reform its real estate practices.
The USPS claims that cuts to service and sales of historic town center properties are the result of their economic crisis. However, the agency has not sought other solutions to increase its income. It has not managed its property to increase income by maintaining and leasing it as good business practice would dictate. There are other services that could generate income such as the postal bank offered in previous years.

Preservation Options

The National Post Office Collaborate (NPOC) was successful in saving a postal building through legal action. It recently won a groundbreaking legal ruling in Connecticut when a preliminary injunction was issued against the sale of the historic Stamford Post Office. In a 39-page ruling, the United States District Court stated, “There is a strong public interest in ensuring the USPS complies with its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) obligations here and in any future sale of its other properties.” Just a few days ago, the Court decided that the NPOC public trust doctrine argument has merit. Oral arguments will be heard in May. Unfortunately, legal action is quite costly and funds must be raised to continue.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to modernize the U.S. Postal Service, save Saturday mail and repeal a crippling law responsible for 80 percent of the mail system’s funding woes. Community groups working to save the postal buildings and postal services are hoping that our California Senators Feinstein and Boxer will support this bill, and that it will go to the House of Representatives.

Remember History When Considering Ukraine

By Tejinder Uberoi
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:55:00 PM

Secretary of State, John Kerry, issued a strong statement to Russian czar, Vladimir Putin - “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext.” Oh really! Perhaps, Kerry should look in the rear view mirror and reflect on our ‘shock and awe’ preemptive attack on Iraq based on bogus claims of WMD’s.  

We continue to invade the sovereignty of other nations, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan . . . with drone attacks which are in complete violation of international law. The US position and Obama’s strong ‘red lines’ warnings to Russia reek of hypocrisy. Bahrain recently organized rallies marking the third anniversary of the pro-democracy protests that began on Feb. 14, 2011. Our ‘great ally’ Saudi Arabia (the major exporter of terrorism in the world) sent in their troops to crush the pro-democracy movement – accompanied by a deafening silence from Washington.  

Turning back the pages of history reveals our sordid involvement in the affairs of so many nations (regime changes, coups) that according to a recent poll the US was voted the greatest threat to world peace, (Zakaria GPS). Our military interventions, at the behest of faceless bureaucrats in Washington, have subverted the will of people of weaker nations (Haiti, Chile, Honduras, Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq. . .) to advance US corporate interests. Our military interventions have been disastrous. The Ukrainians should settle their own affairs without our involvement.

The G.M. Recal

By Tejinder Uberoi
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:08:00 PM

It took 13 deaths and hundreds of complaints for the Justice Department to finally launch a criminal investigation into why the largest automaker, General Motors, ignored deadly safety defects in its compact cars Contrary to earlier assertions that the problem was first discovered in 2003, GM now admits that the ignition switch on its Saturn Ion stalled in 2001.  

The faulty ignition switch suddenly cuts off power leaving bewildered drivers with no engine power, no power steering, no breaks and no air bags. Six GM models made from 2001 to 2007 are affected. Federal regulators also failed to take action despite receiving hundreds of complaints from angry drivers.  

Last month GM finally announced a massive recall of 1.6 million vehicles. Long time consumer advocate, Ralph Nader commented that “timidity exists in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration”, which encourages a laissez-faire culture. It is also grossly underfunded - $45 million a year, compared to, say, $650 million a year that taxpayers pay for guarding the embassy in Baghdad. Another key factor that contributed to GM’s apparent lack of concern was its bankruptcy and subsequent tax-payer bailout in 2009 which immunized it from all product liability lawsuits. It is tragic that it took so many deaths and near fatalities for GM to respond. It seems once again profits take precedence over peoples’ lives.


THE PUBLIC EYE: The War on Democracy: The Deep State

By Bob Burnett
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:32:00 PM

Over the course of the past decade, the doyens of the left, Peter Dale Scott and Noam Chomsky, began to use the term “deep state” to refer to the relatively small number of Washington and Wall Street player who actually control America. Now former GOP congressional senior staff member, Mike Lofgren, has elaborated the concept. 

In his 1961 farewell address, President Eisenhower famously warned: 

[The] conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience… In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.
For the past 50 years, American leftist writers have warned about the increasing influence of the military-industrial complex on foreign policy (e.g. the overthrow of governments in Iran and Nicaragua, the wars in Vietnam and Iraq) and domestic affairs (e.g. political assassinations, subversion of legitimate protest). Typically the mainstream media disparaged these iconoclastic tracts only to be proven wrong by diligent investigative reporters. 

For years, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was a stalwart of the US deep state, regarded as a patriotic leader whose behavior was beyond reproach. Yet, Betty Medsger’s recent book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, explores the 1971 burglary of the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and its consequences for public opinion of Hoover and the FBI. Eight anti-war protestors discovered that agents had infiltrated the civil rights and anti-war movements with the intent to “enhance the paranoia” and uncovered two secret programs. The first was a “security index” that named “more than 26,000… Americans considered potentially dangerous as spies or saboteurs if war or national insurrection developed.” The second was COINTELPRO, a secret program that spied on civil-rights leaders, anti-war activists, and public critics of the F.B.I. 

For most liberals, none of this should be surprising. Since the sixties, writers such as Peter Dale Scott and Noam Chomsky systematically unveiled the nefarious actions of the deep state. Now, Mike Lofgren expands the term, 

[To] mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States. … an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, [proponents] believe in the “Washington Consensus”: financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse 21st-century “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won norms of civilized behavior… It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council.
Because of the recent revelations by Edward Snowden, the deep state has become a concern of the right as well as the left. In October, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, once President Reagan’s speechwriter, wrote: “I have come to wonder if we don’t have what amounts to a deep state within the outer state in the U.S.—a deep state consisting of our intelligence and security agencies, which are so vast and far-flung in their efforts that they themselves don’t fully know who’s in charge and what everyone else is doing.” 

The central question is what we can do to thwart the deep state. Fortunately, there are several key areas where the left can find allies on the right. Both liberal Democrats (Ron Wyden) and Tea-Party Republicans (Rand Paul) deplore the National Security Agency’s surveillance of the lives of average citizens. And both the far left and the far right believe that America’s military establishment has grown too big and our philosophy of American exceptionalism is out of date. Further, both liberals and conservatives deplore the power of Wall Street banks and call for reforms. 

And there are many opportunities for the left to move forward on its own, For example, the probable 2016 Democratic presidential candidate is Hillary Clinton. Unless pushed from the left, she’s unlikely to mention the deep state or to move boldly on issues such as surveillance, outsourcing of jobs, and the demilitarization of foreign policy. 

Mike Lofgren ends his deep-state essay on a hopeful note: 

[In the US] there is now a deep but as yet inchoate hunger for change. What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.
The left needs new charismatic leadership. 

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

ECLECTIC RANT: Thoughts on the Ukrainian Crisis

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:29:00 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry recently denounced Russia’s intervention in the Crimea by declaring, “It is not appropriate to invade a country, and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not 21st-century, G8, major nation behaviour." Guess which country has a sordid history of invading countries. As the saying goes, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. 

Given our recent interventions in sovereign countries, Kerry's statement is an astounding bit of hypocrisy. Wasn’t it just a short time ago that the U.S. -- in violation of international law -- invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq costing 6,801 U.S. lives and at least 132,000 civilian deaths. And according to a Harvard study, these wars will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting. 

The cost of our 2011 Libyan intervention is at least $1.1 billion. 

The U.S. has used drone attacks in the sovereign countries of Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes in Yemen have killed between 72 to 178 civilians, including 27 to 37 children. Between 2004 and 2013, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed 473 to 893 civilians, including 176 children, and between 2007-2013, drone strikes in Somalia have killed 11 to 57 civilians, including 1 to 3 children.  

And remember all the U.S. bluster threatening armed intervention in Syria until Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened, convincing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to agree to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. In short, the U.S. painted itself in a corner and Putin saved our bacon. 

Going back further in time, remember our Vietnam misadventure costing 58,220 American lives. And our invasion of the tiny island of Granada where nineteen U.S. lives were lost and killing 70 island people were killed including 25 Cuban construction workers. 

While the Russian occupation of the Crimea is regrettable, the U.S. hypocritical bluster about the intervention impressed no one, least of all Vladimir Putin. Obama's March 4, 90- minute telephone conversation with Putin probably had more effect than all of Kerry's rants.  

Putin is still talking tough, but tensions are easing. Russia and the U.S. held their first direct talks since the start of the Ukraine crisis on March 5, raising hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough. Progress was limited, but Sergei Lavrov. Russia's foreign minister, met with his counterparts from the U.S., France, Germany, and Britain in Paris. Further discussions will take place in the near future. Talking is better than shooting. 

ECLECTIC RANT: St. Patrick's Day

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:05:00 PM

On March 17th, the Irish, the more than 70 million world-wide who claim Irish heritage, and the Irish-for-a-day, will be lifting a pint of Guinness, or something stronger, to toast Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. I bet corn beef and cabbage will be on many a menu. And many will be wearin' the green. Why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that is the day St. Patrick died and is now celebrated as his feast day.  

The biggest observance of all will be, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses will close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.  

The West Coast's largest Irish event celebrating Irish history and culture, the 163rd Annual San Francisco St. Patrick's Day Parade, will take place on Saturday, March 15th at 11:30 a.m. The Parade will start at the corner of Market and Second Streets where over a hundred colorful floats, Irish dance troupes and marching bands will wind their way to Civic Center Plaza. 

Saint Patrick's Day wouldn't exist if not for the man himself. Only two authentic letters from him survive, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. Much of the rest is subject to some debate among scholars. Patrick is believed to have been born in the late fourth century about 387. He was born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland and died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, March 17, 460 [some say 461 or 493]. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies. When he was about 14, he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where Patrick worked as a herdsman, remaining a captive for six years, before escaping and returning to his family. While a captive, he learned the language and practices of the people who held him.  

He began his studies for the priesthood and was ordained four years later. Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering, he died March 17, 460. He died at Saul, where he had built the first church. 

Interestingly enough, Patrick was never canonized by the Pope. For most of Christianity’s first 1,000 years, canonizations were done on the diocesan or regional level. Relatively soon after very holy people died, the local Church affirmed that they could be liturgically celebrated as saints as was done with Patrick. Nevertheless, various Christian churches declare that he is a Saint in Heaven -- he is in the List of Saints -- and he is widely venerated in Ireland and elsewhere.  

Legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from Ireland, though evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes. The stories of Saint Patrick and the snakes are likely a metaphor for his bringing Christianity to Ireland and driving out the pagan religions such as the Druids (serpents were a common symbol in many of these religions). 

Another legend concerns the shamrock, the symbol of Ireland. Supposedly, Patrick used the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, to teach the Irish about the concept of the Trinity, the Christian belief of three divine persons in the one God -- the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit. The shamrock was sacred to the Druids, so his use of it in explaining the trinity was very wise. 

Let's have a toast to Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Chronicle of an Episode

By Jack Bragen
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:36:00 PM

Most people have, at some point, encountered someone with a mental illness. Perhaps there is an aunt or cousin with mental illness, or the son or daughter of a coworker. Yet, people in general have limited understanding of the life of someone with serious mental illness. It might help you understand if I explain to you what it is like for me to experience a psychotic episode and then recover from it.  

First of all, when we become psychotic, it seems to us as though we're just fine, and the world has gone cockeyed, or else we may feel that there is a massive conspiracy centered on oneself. We may be completely unaware that something has gone wrong with our thinking. The illness will usually block out this awareness.  

We will become unable to communicate properly with people, and we may feel that everyone is being unreasonable toward us. We do not understand why people are acting strangely to us, and we may get very angry about this, or will at the least be extremely irritated.  

When I was last severely psychotic, which was around this time of year in 1996, I was hostile and nonviolent. I yelled at people, including the person who would later become my wife. She called the police on me because I was acting too belligerent.  

At another point during the same episode, she dropped me off in the Pacheco area, and from there I wandered the streets of Martinez for many hours in 90-degree heat. I believed I had died and gone to Hell, until I finally made it home, which at that time was the Riverhouse Hotel.  

Later during the same episode, I believed my building would be blown up, and I believed it was urgent that I get some distance from there. I walked from downtown Martinez to a church in Pleasant Hill. Coinciding with this, there was an explosion at a nearby refinery in the Martinez area which was visible for miles.  

The rector of the church called my mother and girlfriend, who advised having the police take me to the hospital. (I wasn't a member of the church or anything--I just showed up there at random, and also, I refused to leave.)  

The police had a difficult time with me because I was nonviolently resisting them, and in 1996, tasers had not yet come into use. (The police weren't going to get too rough with me because the church minister was present.)  

When someone is psychotic, they may feel that their life is being threatened, and this can be quite frightening. We may believe that we can read people's minds, or we may believe that our thoughts are being projected into other people's minds. We may realize that something is wrong, and we may feel that someone is doing something to us to make us that way.  

When psychotic, we are aware of the information given to us by our five senses, yet we interpret this information in a bizarre and erroneous manner. We will be preoccupied with the thoughts in our mind, and these thoughts are strange and incorrect.  

If we become excessively psychotic, we may be unable to obtain food, to brush teeth and to bathe. Rent will go unpaid, and we may not even be organized enough to spend money that we already have in our bank account. The instinct of thirst will usually but not always prevent us from being excessively dehydrated, yet we could go days or weeks without food, unless someone is putting food directly in front of us.  

There is such a thing as tactile hallucinations, in which we feel as if bugs are crawling on our skin. We may hear voices when no one is speaking--auditory hallucinations. We might see spots--visual hallucinations.  

We might think we are being attacked by the Devil, and we may believe we are a historic religious figure. We may be unable to contact family even though this might merely require picking up a phone and dialing.  

When finally brought to the hospital, we may feel a great sense of relief that someone is getting us out of a hole we could not get out of by ourselves.  

Once medicated, medication side-effects can create a great deal of suffering, but this is usually less suffering than during fully-blown psychosis. It can take weeks or even months of staying medicated to return to a relatively normal state of mind. Once back to a fairly normal state, we may become aware that we have a long road of recovery ahead.

SENIOR POWER: Inspiring Change

By Helen Rippier Wheeler, pen136@dslextreme.com
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:17:00 PM

March is National Women’s History Month. March 8 is International Women's Day. 

In a society, the treatment of girls and women is a reflection of their position in that society. In our society, women are not guaranteed full rights, either to equal pay or to control over their own bodies. At the same time that violence against women is condoned, reproductive rights are under heightened attack. More anti-choice laws have been passed in the last few years than in the entire previous decade. 

The theme for this International Women’s Day is Inspiring Change. Acknowledge such abuses as sex-selection abortions in China and India, Third World women’s inability to vote and to obtain education, continuing repression of women and girls in western Afghanistan, and under-reported news of rampant domestic violence in Russia, sex slavery in India, self- immolation in Central Asia, gender-based violence and HIV, and compensation marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) in several parts of the world. 

International Women’s Day is not an official American holiday. The United States was not a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW,) adopted in 1979 by the U N General Assembly and often described as an international bill of rights for women. More than 90% of United Nations member nations are -- I should say were -- parties to CEDAW. As of January first 2008, responsibility for servicing the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was tucked away (buried?) in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. 

Women's rights are under attack on many different fronts. CEDAW had been signed by President Carter, but the Senate dragged its feet. Apparently, these guys (“informal persons of either sex”) actually believe that CEDAW would impose policies on the U.S. that would legalize prostitution, force abortions, and harm families. President Obama supports CEDAW but has not thrown the weight of his presidency behind it. (It’s called lip service.) There will be actions in cities across the United States. Many, including San Francisco, have adopted resolutions calling on the Senate to ratify CEDAW. 

Speak-Out in San Francisco, 2 P.M. on March 8, at 24th and Mission Streets. For information: sf@defendwomensrights.org or 415-375-9502. 

International Women’s Day origins in the United States may date back to 1857, when 40,000 American women textile factory workers protested sweat-shop conditions, and in March 1908, women garment workers took to the streets of Manhattan's lower East Side, demanding the right to vote and an end to sweatshops and child labor. On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire led to 146 deaths, mostly young Jewish and Italian women. The two men who owned and operated the unsafe Manhattan building were acquitted. 

A group of American women struggling for women's rights had attended a conference of the Socialist International in 1910 in Copenhagen and requested passage of a resolution supporting American working women. The Party responded by creating a Women's Day to demonstrate in favor of woman suffrage. German socialist Clara Zetkin put forth a resolution to internationalize Women's Day, celebrated in March 1911 in Germany and Austria. March 8, 

1917 signified one of the most important events in the overthrow of Tsarist Russia: thousands of women organized and demonstrated. 

The Fourth World Conference on Women, 1995 in Beijing, mobilized the global women's movement into strategic alliances that resulted in participating nations’ commitment to the advancement of women. Its Platform for Action reaffirmed the fundamental principle adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights that the human rights of women and girls are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights throughout their life cycle. Hillary Rodham Clinton pointed out in her remarks in Beijing, “It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation… .” 

A Fifth World Conference on Women is proposed for 2015. In Qatar, of all places. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. (San Francisco, USA,) is mobilizing support for a 5th WCW that “address(es) new and emerging issues affecting women and girls since the Beijing Conference in 1995, to build upon and not re-open previous UN documents.” The position is that a 5WCW could act as “as a rallying point that would raise consciousness and network women worldwide… .” 

It was Bella Abzug who, shortly before her death in 1998, declared “They used to give us a day--it was called International Women's Day. In 1975 they gave us a year, the Year of the Woman. Then from 1975 to 1985 they gave us a decade, the Decade of the Woman. I said at the time, who knows, if we behave they may let us into the whole thing. Well, we didn't behave and here we are.” 


March is Women’s History Month. Take note, libraries, community centers, senior centers and senior housing projects. The Berkeley City Council’s March 11 agenda includes a recommendation that March be proclaimed Pedestrian Safety Month. And the North and South Berkeley Senior Centers have declared March as National Nutrition Month… 

President Jimmy Carter designated March 2-8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. State departments of education began to encourage celebrations of Women's History Month as a way to promote equality among the sexes in the classroom. Alaska, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania developed and distributed curriculum materials in their public schools, which prompted such educational events as essay contests. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities began to celebrate of Women's History Month. They planned stimulating programs about women's roles in history and society, with support and encouragement from governors, city councils, school boards, and the U.S. Congress. 

The National Women’s History Project’s Women of Character, Courage & Commitment list of Honorees from the present and the past includes Agatha Tiegel Hanson (1873-1959,) educator, author and advocate for the deaf community, and Arden Eversmeyer (1931- present,) founder of the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project. 

Hanson was a teacher, poet and advocate. Unable to hear and blind in one eye from a childhood illness, she never allowed her disabilities to hold her back. She came of age at a time when deaf women especially had few educational options. She was admitted to Gallaudet University, still the only college in America dedicated to the education of deaf and hard of hearing students. Graduating first in her class, her valedictorian speech argued for the recognition of the intellect of women, a cause she advocated throughout her life. 

Eversmeyer founded the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project (1999), to ensure that the stories of lesbians born in the first part of the 20th century, who were labeled “mentally ill”, fired from their jobs, rejected by their families, and raped and murdered with impunity, are recorded in history. Project volunteers have documented over 320 diverse life stories recording the sacrifices and obstacles faced by lesbians of that era. The collection is now archived, and continues to grow, as part of the prestigious Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. 

In March 2011, the Barack Obama administration released a report, Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, showing women's status in the U.S. in 2011 and how it had changed over time. This report was the first comprehensive federal report on women since a report produced by the Commission on the Status of Women in 1963. 











AGAINST FORGETTING: Why Women's History Month?

By Ruth Rosen
Friday March 07, 2014 - 09:51:00 AM

Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin "helping" them. Such a world does not exist -- never has” (Gerda Lerner )

Aside from the Republican’s relentless War on Women, let me offer you another reason why even one token month is still necessary to America’s political culture.

I’ve just finished reading a book titled The Season of the Witch, written by David Talbot, who founded Salon.com in 1995, the first web magazine in the United States, known for breaking investigative journalistic stories. The book is an evocative political, social and cultural history of San Francisco from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Since he dealt with every trend and movement, often in overheated prose, I kept waiting—and waiting--for him to describe the sudden explosion of the women’s liberation movement.

Astonishingly, Talbot didn’t even write one paragraph about the women’s movement, which certainly transformed American political and social culture more profoundly than did the two chapters he devotes to the San Francisco 49ers football team. 

Did his publisher tell him that half the population was dispensable? Did his agent convince him that including feminism would diminish the appeal and profits? Is he just ignorant? 

This is just one example why we need Women’s History Month in the United States. It’s to prevent students, teachers, intellectuals and writers from forgetting about half its population. 

The origins of this month reflect an era in which the grassroots efforts of a few prescient individuals created a national month dedicated to informing the public about women’s lives. It was during the late 1970s when a growing number of women, grasping the subordination of women in the present, began to wonder about what women did in the past. The idea of “women history” was still very new, and yet a group of women on the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a "Women's History Week" celebration for 1978. 

Woman smiling Gerda Lerner 

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the eminent historian Gerda Lerner, along with other historians, created a Women’s History Institute, during the summer of 1979, at Sarah Lawrence College. 

From all over the country Lerner brought together feminist leaders and Molly Murphy MacGregor from the Sonoma Country California group just happened to be one of them. From her they learned what women in Sonoma County had been doing to publicize women’s past. They decided that their summer would be to create a country-wide "National Women's History Week". 

Woman smiling Molly Murphy MacGregor
They chose March 8th, International Women’s Day, which was established in the United States in 1911 as a day to celebrate women workers and was then commemorated in the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc countries for decades. 

The idea of celebrating—and discovering - women’s past quickly spread around the country. As the idea of a women’s history week gained broader publicity, state departments of education encouraged teachers to integrate women into the history curriculum. Within a few years, thousands of schools and communities were celebrating National Women's History Week, supported and encouraged by resolutions from governors, city councils, and school boards. 

In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation, declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women's History Week. Meanwhile, Representative Barbara Mikulski and Senator Orrin Hatch co-sponsored a joint bipartisan Congressional Resolution for National Women's History Week in 1981. 

In the wake of passionate lobbying by the National Women's History Project in Sonoma Country, Congress finally declared the entire month of March 1987 as National Women's History Month. And so it has remained. 

But did it change anything? Well, yes and no. Many professional historians still ignored—and still ignore--the deluge of superb research that hundreds of distinguished feminist scholars have published. One well-known male historian, a receiver of the Pulitzer Prize, told me in 1989 that the women’s movement didn’t belong in a film about the 1960s. (The National Organization for Women was founded in 1966 and women’s liberation groups began sprouting around the country in 1967.) Yet another historian taught an entire course on labor history in the 1980s without mentioning women workers. Still another historian told me it was too difficult to talk about women in his otherwise excellent course in labor history. (Imagine if I had found men “too difficult” to discuss in all my courses.) 

Nevertheless, some history education began to change. Girls began to learn fthat women could be brave and how they had used their collective power to break one barrier after another. They learned, for example, about women who had flown airplanes during World War II, and who had built the war ships that fought fascism during that war. They learned about Harriet Tubman, a former slave who repeatedly returned to the South to free dozens of slaves; Jane Addams who sought to end all wars by creating the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Florence Kelley who launched a consumer campaign to improve women’s working conditions, all the great jazz singers and athletes who transformed music, the arts, and my personal hero, and my personal hero, Billie Jean King, who championed the recognition of women’s tennis. 

Woman playing tennis Billie Jean King 

Most importantly they learned that women had been activists and had created powerful and effective social movements. They had organized and petitioned against slavery, and, without benefit of the vote, they had fought wife beating by drunken husbands, created parks and kindergartens for children, fought municipal crime and corruption, organized to end child labor, created settlement houses to educate newly arrived immigrants, fought against nuclear bombs, for civil rights, and against the War in Vietnam. 

Labor history—which had been taught for decades, without noting that women had always worked, suddenly included teachers, nurses, domestics, caretakers, laundresses, waitresses, mothers, and textile and agricultural workers. A whole generation of little girls learned the lyrics of the song, “Free to Be Me and You” which taught them that they could be anything they wanted to be. 

Fast forward to 2014 and one has to ask, so is Women’s History Month still necessary? Didn’t we transform the curriculum in all the disciplines, change laws and customs, legalize abortion, force everyone to call us Ms. instead of Mrs. and Miss, and teach students not to faint when a female professor entered the room? 

Unfortunately, it is still necessary to have a token month devoted to women’s lives. Every generation of little girls and women need to learn their past so that they can imagine a future in which gender equality is the norm and not the exception. 

Understanding women’s history is also an essential antidote to the Republican’s “war on women.” We are no longer in the midst of just a “backlash” against the women’s movements, as was true in the 1980s; feminism is the object of a serious right-wing attack against women’s rights, especially women’s reproduction freedom. And even our friends and allies, writing about San Francisco’s cultural history, clearly need reminding that women transform history. 

No one ever expected Women’s History Month to change our political culture, at least not by itself. It doesn’t change the double standard that still exists when a woman runs for electoral office. (Did she spend too much or too little time with her children?) Nor does it change the endless scrutiny of women’s appearances—attacks against Hillary Clinton’s thighs or descriptions of Wendy Davis, a Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas who stood up for women’s reproductive rights as “Abortion Barbie.” 

Gerda Lerner, who many view as the mother of women’s history in the U.S, once wrote, “Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the center of the human enterprise and women are at the margin "helping" them. Such a world does not exist -- never has” Women’s history brings us one tiny step closer to what Lerner wanted to change and to what Hillary Clinton proclaimed in Beijing in 1995, “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all." 

This is why we still need Women’s History Month. 

Read all articles in 50.50's dialogue on Women's Movement Building  


Arts & Events

New Theater Company Plays "Other People's Money" at Kehila in Oakland

By Our Correspondent
Friday March 14, 2014 - 12:09:00 PM

Piedmont and Oakland has a new theatre company—the Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre 

John McMullen has been writing theatre reviews for The Berkeley Daily Planet for three years. 

And now he has gone and started his own. 

You can find them on the web at www.PiedmontOaklandRep.ORG 

They are now playing “Other People’s Money: The Ultimate Seduction” by Jerry Sterner’s which is described as a “sexy, funny, dark comedy about Corporate Raiders on the loose!” at Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont. 

“Three years of watching plays taught me a lot about what’s effective, what’s not, and why,” McMullen said. “I got an MFA from Carnegie-Mellon, but my most informative post-grad education has been being a theatre critic for the Berkeley Daily Planet.” 

“Theatre abhors a vacuum,” McMullen continued. “This metropolis and its neighboring community had no live semi-pro theatre. I live near Piedmont Ave & Grand Ave., and it seemed like the demography would support a theatre. Lots of coffee houses, bookstore, middle-aged bohemian boomers who fit the profile of the folks I’ve seen at the theatre over the past few years. ” 

Finding a place to play was challenging for the company. They had originally set their sights on a venue on Piedmont Ave—a storefront that would advertise itself by its presence on the popular and well-traveled street. However, there was no one who would or could rent to a non-profit group and the rents were astronomical for a new theatre group. 

Luckily, the Kehilla Community Synagogue opened their doors to them. Situated almost on the Piedmont-Oakland line, across from the Grand Ave Ace Hardware (a landmark everyone seems to know), they offered space for rehearsals, performances, and theatre classes for a reasonable rent. 

And so a name change from Piedmont Avenue Rep to Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre was made. 

“It’s the most ecumenical place I’ve ever seen. The Coptic Church has their services there on Sunday. The rabbi has a theatre background. It is a bustling community center…I was told Kehilla means ‘community’ in Hebrew.” McMullen added. 

“Other People’s Money” plays through April 12 with early show times: Thu 7 pm, Fri & Sat 7:30, Sun 5 pm. (but no performances on Friday March 21 & April 4) at Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont (cross street Oakland Ave.). 

The play won the Best Off-Broadway Play Award in 1989, and was reviewed by New York Magazine’s uber-critic John Simon as, “Funny, serious, suspenseful, involving, disturbing, and above all, expertly crafted...Epic grandeur and intimate titillation combined. It is the most stimulating kind of entertainment." 

Carl Icahn, the iconic corporate raider whose photo was on TIME magazine last December, and who is mentioned in the play, was quoted, “Some of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard…some of which I now use myself.” 

The cast is John Hale who plays Garfield, the obese, lecherous, gluttonous, avaricious, charming, and funny New Yorker who comes to buy, chop and sell the wire and cable mill that supports a small community which is owned by Jorgenson, played by Keith Jefferds. Karly Shea plays Kate, a sexy lawyer who battles Garfield at the behest of her mother, Jorgenson’s lover, played by Susannah Wood. Brett Mermer plays the company manager Cole, who is caught between the adversaries, and is concerned for his own future. Understudy for Bea is Elizabeth Jane Dunne. All actors, except the new addition of Jefferds, were featured in the group’s inaugural production of The Dining Room at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in November and earl December. 

“We are very lucky to have a great board of directors,” McMullen concluded. “Our President is Don Cate, who ran the CCSF Theatre Tech Department and was chair until his retirement; Regina Cate, who was th costume professor at CSU/EB is our secretary; Judith L. Bloom, CPA and past treasurer of Berkeley Symphony; Ann Higgins who is a fabulous designer (higganzo@hotdamn.org) who did the graphic above; Attorney Henry Epstein who is an administrative judge; and Delia Violante who works at Boalt Law School, box officer and who does a marvelous job with social media.” 

The play derives its title from Louis Brandeis’ famous series of articles in Harper’s Weekly in 1914—two years before he became a Supreme Court Justice—on how the large banking houses were colluding with businessmen to create trusts in America's major industries. “The articles were collected in book form and published under the title ‘Other People's Money—and How the Bankers Use It’” (quoted from Louis Brandeis School of Law). 

Tickets are $25 at www.PiedmontOaklandRep.ORG or 1-800-838-3006 

Around & About Theater & Music: ShadowLight & Gamelan Musicians Stage Free Balinese Shadowplay Saturday Night on UC Berkeley Campus

By Ken Bullock
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:42:00 PM

Larry Reed, American dalang (shadowmaster) extraordinaire, and his 40-year old company ShadowLight will stage a free Balinese shadowplay, "The Marriage Contest for the Hand of Princess Tatewati," a tale from the Mahabharata, with gamelan musicians Carla Fabrizio, Lisa Gold, Paul Millar and Sarah Willner, sponsored by the UC Berkeley Department of Music and the department of Southeast Asian studies, this Saturday night, 8-9 p. m. at Morrison Hall, 125 Elkus Room, on the UC campus. Information: musicadmin@berkeley.edu or call 642-2678.  

ShadowLight's most recent original show was over a weekend in mid-January at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Entitled 'Poro Oyna: Myth of the Aynu,' it featured collaborators in music, dance and shadow-acting among the silhouettes of puppets by Japanese and Aynu--indigenous people of northern Japan (Hokkaido) and Russia (Sakhalin Island) in a story taken from the 2000 year old Aynu culture's mythology..  

It was a unique event and an exceptional performance--almost outdone by a post-performance special treat: a meeting between the Aynu women dancers and their musician and a band of Yurok singers-dancers-drummers from Northwest California, trading off songs, the Aynu in their very rare language (fewer than a dozen native speakers left), the Yuroks performing as brilliantly in their tradition as any Native American troupe I've ever seen. Another great moment of intercultural artistry, thanks to Larry Reed and ShadowLight.

Two Theater Reviews: 'The Lion & the Fox,' Central Works at the Berkeley City Club; 'A Maze,' Just Theater at Ashby Stage

By Ken Bullock
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:46:00 PM

—Almost five years ago, Central Works staged 'Machiavelli's The Prince,' a two-hander with good performances by Richard Frederick and
Michael Navarra as the famed political writer of the Renaissance and Lorenzo II, Duke of Florence, the ruler to whom Machiavelli's most famous screed was dedicated. 

In a note to the program of their new play, 'The Lion and the Fox,' playwright and Central Works company co-director Gary Graves identifies this dramatization of the meetings between Machiavelli, Secretary to the Florentine Republic, and Duke Cesare Borgia, the tyrant whose schemings are much cited in 'The Prince,' as the prequel to the play produced first. 

In fact, Graves explains both were originally supposed to be one play, two actors playing the three roles—but instead emerged one at a time as a kind of diptych. 

'The Lion and the Fox' is another two-character chamber play, again with good work by Benjamin Stowe as Machiavelli and Lucas Hatton as Cesare—this time directed with distinction by company co-director Jan Zvaifler. (Graves directed the first play.) It's a richer experience, reflecting more of Machiavelli's own breadth and range. (Besides 'The Prince,' he wrote 'The History of Florence;' 'Discourses on Livy,' concerning the government of republics; two great comic plays, many letters, verse and fiction, as well as serving as diplomat and domestic officer for Florence, for which he raised the first citizen's militia.) It's a more enigmatic play, as the audience questions whether Machiavelli is falling under the eccentric, charismatic spell of "Duke Valentine," or who is playing cat-and-mouse with whom ... 

Borgia seems to be a kind of playboy on the shifting fields of power in 16th century Italy, military commander for the pope, his father—is he just drifting along, or intuitively reacting to the mercurial conditions and his own corresponding temperament? Or does he have a plan? 

It all culminates in the Adriatic city of Sinigaglia: "Going to Sinigaglia ÿou have the mountains on your right,/very close to the sea in some places,/nowhere two miles away./Sinigaglia city stands about a bow-shot from the foot of the mountains/less than a mile from the shore./A little stream runs by it/wetting the walls towards Fano." (Machiavelli's own account, as translated into verse by the great British poet Basil Bunting, "How Duke Valentine Contrived") 

The claustrophobia of appropriated palaces, the narrow streets of little city-states, of the threat of arrest and torture in the midst of what seems like hospitality ... 'The Lion and the Prince' capitalizes on the labyrinthine journeys Machiavelli makes between captured various lairs Borgia is holed up in and reporting to the Florentine Council; his own speculations, possibly shifting loyalties and second-guessing sometimes seems to play across his face, otherwise is concealed in deadpan, while Cesare may be screening off his thoughts with endless talking, or is it a display of bravado, seeming dilettantism, oblivious to the turmoil outside his luxurious dens. 

"As soon as the news got about the malcontents took heart/throughout the Duke's territory ... Meanwhile they sent to Florence for a second time/ ... but the Florentines/loathed/both the Vitelli and Orsino for various reasons/and sent Niccolo Machiavelli to the Duke instead/to offer help ... /he had to negotiate for all he was worth/(and he was a first rate humbug)." 

Graves' play has a somewhat different sense to it, a different idea of the intrigue than seems the case from Machiavelli's account, one which makes it a little more mysterious—maybe a bit more theatrical in the sense of plotting the story. 

Besides the ensemble of two and the director, the designers—lights by Graves, sound by Gregory Scharpen, costumes by Tammy Berlin—have fleshed out this problematic drama that has wry humorous touches in the relationship between two unlike characters—the aristocratic and epicurean despot, the frugal republican genius ... It's a curious and fascinating confrontation. 

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5 through March 30 at the Berkeley City Club, 2515 Durant (between Ellsworth and Dana). $28 advance, sliding scale of $28-$15 at the door, Thursdays pay-what-you-can. 558-1381; centralworks.org 


—Just Theater's production of Rob Handel's 'A Maze' is in its last weekend, presented by Shotgun Players at Ashby Stage after a successful earlier run at Live Oak Theater. 


The show's garnered critical and audience praise, much of it due to the well thought-out casting (Lasse Christiansen, Janis Delucia, Carl Holvick-Thomas, Frannie Morrison, Sarah Moser, Harold Pierce, Lauren Spencer, Clive Worsley), direction (Molly Aaronson-Gelb), overall production (Jonathan Spector, producer) and design (Martin Flynn, set; Devon LaBell, props; Michael Palumbo, lights; Teddy Hulsker, sound; Ashley Rogers, costumes). 

The play follows three seemingly unrelated stories—a teenager who has escaped imprisonment for years by an abductor plotting out her own career as a media figure, an unlikely friendship that develops in a rehab center between a rock songwriter-performer and a nerdy draftsman of endless graphic novels, and a fantasy story about a ruler building a maze to protect (and wall in) his consort and their child ... 

The three strands begin to meet halfway through; their interrelationship seems to grow plain, though there are vague or omitted details that might clarify the stories in light of the seriousness of the purpose of the playwright, trying to question or examine the making of art, of stories—the fictive, how it's made and where it comes from—and how all this affects our lives ... 

The questions that come more and more—though never completely—into focus seem to aim at irony, but—typical of storytelling that relies on parallel lines finally intersecting in recognition—what seems to criticize melodrama and the facile imitation of life in art or vice versa—itself becomes something of a melodrama, too close to being a vehicle for a kind of insouciant moralizing than that which follows its premises to a conclusion worked out as it goes along the way, 

'A Maze' raises serious questions and is produced with high production values—and that rare commodity, charm—but becomes sidetracked in its own machinations, not quite artistic enough to adequately question Whither Art—and why ... 

Tonight and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 4, Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (across from Ashby BART), $20-$25. justtheater.org