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Local adult Cooper's hawks with rat. The body of a hawk which died in Berkeley last week contained rat poison, which has frequently been known to kill predators.
Tony Brake
Local adult Cooper's hawks with rat. The body of a hawk which died in Berkeley last week contained rat poison, which has frequently been known to kill predators.


Peaceful BART Protest Disrupts Monday Night Service

By Erika Heidecker (BCN)
Tuesday August 16, 2011 - 10:33:00 AM

Sharlana Turner, a student and city worker in Berkeley, hoisted a sign that read "You can jail a revolutionary, but you cannot jail the revolution" at a San Francisco BART station Monday evening as demonstrators around her chanted "No justice, no peace -- disband the BART police." 

Shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, about 50 protesters gathered at BART's Civic Center station in response to the agency's decision to interrupt cell phone reception last week in order to disrupt a planned protest spurred by the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill on July 3 by BART police. 

The fatal shooting was followed by a protest on July 11. During that demonstration, protesters "showed a propensity to create chaos on the platform, and that is unacceptable" because it jeopardizes customer and employee safety, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. 

To prevent a similar disruption Thursday, BART temporarily suspended wireless services because "we had knowledge ahead of time about the time, place and manner of how this illegal protest was going to take place, and were forced into a gut-wrenching decision of how we were going to stop it," Johnson said. 

The decision to interrupt wireless service has been widely criticized and reported worldwide, and already spurred a data breach by hacker protest group "Anonymous" on the agency's myBART.org website, which is used for marketing and to announce deals near BART stations. 

Turner said she did not participate in other protests, but decided to participate Monday because Anonymous organizers said it was going to be peaceful. 

Turner said she was there because of the July 3 shooting as well as Thursday's wireless disruption.  

"It's everything combined," she said. "You can't separate these things." 

While the protest was peaceful, it led to the temporary closures of four downtown BART stations during rush hour, which left some commuters frustrated with the demonstrators. 

BART officials closed the Civic Center station at around 5:30 p.m. and the crowd walked down Market Street to the Embarcadero. BART police shut down the Powell Street, Montgomery Street, and Embarcadero stations as the crowd made their way along the train route.  

Along the way, demonstrators met with some angry reactions from thwarted commuters who shouted out insults. 

One of the protesters clad in a Guy Fawkes mask like the ones featured in the movie "V for Vendetta" said he welcomed their angry responses and that he appreciated that freedom of speech was their constitutional right.  

"Good for them," he said when a man called him a nihilist and another made an obscene gesture. 

The demonstrators ended their walk at Embarcadero Station, where officers in riot gear lined the street and blocked the station entrance.

Updated: BART Officials React to Attacks, Plan Response to Today's Demonstration

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Monday August 15, 2011 - 03:25:00 PM

A BART spokesman defended today the agency's interruption of cellphone service to prevent a protest from happening at train stations in downtown San Francisco last week and said he hopes another protest planned for this evening remains peaceful. 

BART has come under widespread criticism for cutting off cellphone service in the four downtown stations to prevent a protest that never materialized last Thursday. 

In response, the hacker protest group "Anonymous" is organizing another protest at 5 p.m. today, and is also taking credit for a cyber attack during the weekend that resulted in the release of personal information for at least 2,400 users of the agency's myBART.org website. 

It was unclear whether demonstrators planned to gather on the platform or outside the fare gates, although a Facebook event page titled "Protest BART's attack on free speech and civil rights!" said it would start on the Civic Center train platform. That event page listed 162 planned attendees as of 1:35 p.m. 

Organizers from Anonymous said this evening's protest would be peaceful. 

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said he hoped that was the case, and said people will be allowed to protest outside of the fare gates at the stations, but not on the platforms or trains themselves. 

"I personally ... welcome the group and anyone that wants to protest, as long as they do it safely," Johnson said. 

The planned protest last Thursday was in response to the fatal shooting of Charles Hill by BART police in the Civic Center station on July 3. On July 11, protesters gathered at the station and prevented trains from leaving by blocking the train doors, with one even climbing on top of a train. 

During that demonstration, protesters "showed a propensity to create chaos on the platform, and that is unacceptable" because it jeopardizes customer and employee safety, Johnson said. 

To prevent a similar disruption Thursday, BART temporarily suspended the wireless services because "we had knowledge ahead of time about the time, place and manner of how this illegal protest was going to take place, and were forced into a gut-wrenching decision of how we were going to stop it," Johnson said. 

He said the service was interrupted for three hours at the four stations, where police and ambulances were also stationed in case of an emergency. 

"We were forced into this decision," he said. "This is not one we wanted to make." 

Johnson declined to say whether BART officials will interrupt cellphone service again for this evening's protest, saying only that "we will staff accordingly and take appropriate measures," including possibly closing stations temporarily. 

The move has been widely criticized and reported worldwide, and already spurred the data breach by Anonymous on the agency's myBART.org website, which is used for marketing and to announce deals near BART stations. 

The protest group posted the stolen user data -- which includes names, email addresses, passwords, and in some cases, an address and phone number -- on its Twitter account, and also posted contact information for BART employees and encouraged its members to flood them with emails and calls. 

BART notified law enforcement officials about the cyber attack, and have taken down the myBART.org website while they work to secure it. 

"We hope to discover how they did it and learn from that," Johnson said. 

He defended the agency's security of the website, saying "a victim should not be blamed when a thief comes in." 

BART officials are encouraging myBART.org users to not open unsolicited emails and to immediately change any passwords that may have also been used with unrelated accounts. 

Another website not associated with BART, www.californiaavoid.org, was also hacked with the logo of Anonymous, which remained on the website as of early this afternoon. 

California AVOID is a state-sponsored partnership of law enforcement agencies to prevent drunken driving. 

Updates on potential temporary closures of BART stations or changes to service during this evening's protest will be posted at www.bart.gov and www.511.org. 

People reporting security or safety issues on BART trains or stations should call 911, BART police at (510) 464-7000, use the train intercom, or San Francisco police at (415) 553-8090. 

BART Rider Records Hacked
in Retaliation for Cell Phone Blackout
Another Protest at 5 Today

By SaraGaiser/ScottMiller (BCN)
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 03:37:00 PM

Members of the MyBart.org website have been notified of a data breach in which personal details of hundreds of users were stolen and posted to the Internet, BART officials said Sunday.  

While the attack affected around 2,400 users, BART officials sent an email to all 55,000 web site members, spokesman Jim Allison said.  

The MyBart website remains down while the agency works to secure it. Allison said it would not resume operations until officials were confident users' data was secure. 

"We've been working on this since Friday," Allison said. "We've done everything we could to secure the site." 

The hacker protest group "Anonymous" took credit for the attack, and posted links to the stolen user data on its Twitter account. It also posted contact information for BART employees on its website and encouraged its members to flood them with emails and phone calls. 

Allison said that BART is working with federal officials to respond to the attacks and to prevent any future security breaches. He said that any MyBART.org users that have had their information stolen should not open any unsolicited emails and immediately change any passwords that my have been shared with their MyBART.org account. 

The MyBART.org website was defaced using the logo of Anonymous and a link to its Twitter account. The site is normally used for marketing, announcing and deals near BART stations, and sends subscribers regular emails.  

As of 2:30 p.m. Sunday, BART's main website, bart.gov was still accessible. Allison said that if BART's website did go down, travelers are recommended to use 511.org for transit information. 

Allison also noted that BART's website infrastructure is not at all connected to the computer systems that run the trains themselves, and that the web attacks would not result in any service delays. 

Another website not associated with BART, Californiaavoid.org was also hacked with the logo of Anonymous and fake news stories were added to it containing racial slurs. California AVOID is a state-sponsored partnership of law enforcement organizations to prevent drunk driving. 

Anonymous announced its intention to hack BART websites in a posting on its website. The shadowy hacker group said that it is already engaged in a phone, email and fax campaign to disrupt BART's operations, and that there will be a live protest in the Civic Center BART station Monday at 5 p.m.  

The hacking attacks and protest are in response to BART's interruption of wireless cell phone service in several downtown San Francisco BART stations to prevent a disruptive protest on Thursday.  

Last week BART announced on its website that it was anticipating demonstrations on the BART platforms in August. Commuters were "advised that protesters may attempt to disrupt train service during August commute periods beginning as early as Thursday, August 11, 2011, in downtown San Francisco BART stations." 

On July 11, protesters prevented trains from leaving the Civic Center BART station in response to the July 3 BART police shooting of Charles Hill in the same station. Protesters blocked the train doors and one even climbed on top of a train.  

The Civic Center, Powell Street and 16th Street BART stations were all temporarily closed due to the protest. As a precautionary measure on Thursday, BART temporarily suspended wireless cell phone service in several downtown San Francisco BART stations. 

"They were clear in stating they could use mobile devices to organize," Allison said. He said protesters intended to use cell phones to communicate about the number and location of BART police. 

While the protest never materialized, Allison said he did not know if that was an effect of disrupting cell phone service in the stations. 

The move has been widely criticized and reported worldwide, provoking further protest announcements and statements of disapproval from Bay Area public officials. Mayoral candidate Phil Ting released a statement Saturday that said the move violated fundamental principles of democracy. "The decision was made at the very highest staff level of the agency," Ting's statement said. "Censorship is not, and must not become, a public safety tool." 

State Sen. Leland Yee also released a statement blasting BART officials for their decision. "I am shocked that BART thinks they can use authoritarian control tactics," he said. "BART's decision was not only a gross violation of free speech rights; it was irresponsible and compromised public safety." 

The planned actions against BART have been widely discussed on Twitter using the hashtags #OPBart and #MuBARTek, a reference to deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who reportedly disrupted Internet and wireless communications to stifle growing protests in Egypt. As of 11 a.m. today, over 100 people said they would be attending Monday's protest on a Facebook announcement. 

Allison said no decision has been reached on whether BART will further disrupt cell phone services for Monday's demonstrations. "The top priority for us is the safety of our passengers. We'll be taking steps to try to make sure our customers get home safely," he said, but did not specify what those steps may be. 

He said that BART allows for protests in the station, but outside the fare gates. "We firmly believe in free speech, that's why we have an expressive activities program that allows for activities outside the fare gates, where it's safe," Allison said. 

In an announcement for Monday's protest it was not clear whether demonstrators intended to gather on the platform or outside the fare gates. Organizers from Anonymous said the protest would be peaceful. 

Telegraph Property Owners Move People's Park "Re-vitalizing" Proposal Closer to University Planners Tuesday at TBID Monthly Meet

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 02:48:00 PM
Some Telegraph Avenue businessmen at their monthly meeting at Durant Hotel near campus. Craig Becker at center--presiding--Doris Moskowitz to right. Roland Peterson at other end of table (not pictured).
Ted Friedman
Some Telegraph Avenue businessmen at their monthly meeting at Durant Hotel near campus. Craig Becker at center--presiding--Doris Moskowitz to right. Roland Peterson at other end of table (not pictured).

A proposal for "revitalizing" present conditions in People's Park is headed for the university vice-chancellor's office as early as today,; but that proposal was put through a democratic meat-grinder at Tuesday’s Telegraph Avenue property owners monthly meeting before it emerged as more conciliatory to the university. 

The revised-at-the-meeting proposal calls for changes (now called, "revitalizing") to the park to attract more students and visitors, changes, seen even by some Teley businessmen as disruptive to present park users. 

The proposal passed eight to two, with one abstention. At least two members had mixed feelings about their votes. Each member expressed awareness of the polarizing 

nature of the proposal. 

Some hoped their positions would not hurt their businesses. 

Before it was democratically rethought, the proposal had been kicking around since April in various guises, but always delayed for further rewrites of sections seen as "inflammatory or provocative." 

With the proposal's author, Craig Becker, owner of the Caffe Mediterraneum, as Telegraph Business improvement District's (TBID) in-coming president, the process 

for submitting the proposal has accelerated, as members engaged in a spontaneous group rewrite of Becker's proposal. 

The orally rewritten proposal lessens formerly strident "demands"; the proposal now seeks cooperative meetings with university officials sometime after Fall 2011 but before the end of Spring semester to discuss possible park changes. Members see an advantage to waiting until TBID can line up support from other city organizations (eg. neighborhood associations, other business districts, student groups, and possibly the city council). 

One point of agreement among the businessmen is that no one likes what is happening in People's Park. One member calls the present situation, "criminal neglect." Why, they wondered, is the large south side student population not being served by People's Park? 

Becker focused on changes, like landscaping, that could be accomplished without requiring much deliberation. "We can't let conditions in the park drift," Becker stressed. "It's time we acted." 

Members themselves stated their awareness of the difficulty in affecting either change or revitalization in the park. More than one member, wondered aloud whether the university was even listening. 

But the university heard loud and clear about a proposal from Doris Moskowitz (Moe's Books) to sue the university for "neglecting" the park; and when a vice-chancellor learned that Roland Peterson, the property owners’ spokesman, had contacted a U.C..regent on behalf of the businessmen's park concerns, Peterson received a phone call rebuke. 

More than one businessman wondered why TBID even needed a proposal after an extensive 1996 university-funded marketing study had reflected a consensus (among many factions in Berkeley) for changes in the park . Why not drop TBID's latest proposal altogether? But Becker was able to draw the group back to what he called a "non-controversial, boiled-down" proposal. 

Becker was able to rally his wavering troops with the observation that marketing report proposals were never followed by the university and that as much as he liked those proposals, he could not endorse the report's scheme for tearing down his business (the Med) and making Telegraph a "portal to a redesigned park." 

Becker's proposal "suggests" landscaping changes to make the park more 'inviting." 

Improvements in safety and security by increasing "stay-away" orders, adding emergency phones, security cameras, and halting camping in the park. 

The issue of People's Park reform continues to stir dirt, even when only ideas are involved. 



Ted Friedman reports for the Planet from Berkeley's south side.

Is Public Health and Safety Being Considered in the Construction of LBNL's New Biolab in Berkeley? (News Analysis)

By Jeremy Gruber, Tina Stevens and Becky McClain
Monday August 08, 2011 - 06:05:00 PM

In April of this year, U.C. Berkeley researchers announced the creation of the U. C. Berkeley Synthetic Biology Institute (SBI), which will ramp up efforts to “engineer” cells and biological systems.1 Part of its research will include experiments that insert manufactured stretches of DNA into existing organisms to create new, self-replicating artificial life forms—experiments that pose implications for worker safety, public health and environmental safety. A collaboration of university and industry, the SBI enterprise is designed to catapult basic research into profit making applications. From a press release, “SBI will be an important link in a constellation of research centers focused on synthetic biology at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), both of which have made the field a research priority. SBI is unique in its planned collaborations with leading companies, designed to translate leading research on biological systems and organisms efficiently into processes, products, and technologies.”2 

Where this extensive new research will take place is a matter of some speculation. LBNL, managed by U.C. Berkeley but funded by the Department of Energy, is seeking to open a second campus somewhere in the East Bay, across from San Francisco. The new facility hopes to combine three existing facilities presently scattered throughout the cities of Berkeley and nearby Emeryville: the Joint BioEnergy Institute, the Life Sciences Division, and the Joint Genome Institute. Potential sites for a new campus include a number of locations in the City of Berkeley itself.3 

What do residents make of this idea? Lawsuits have stymied LBNL’s effort to expand into the region’s Strawberry Canyon watershed, described by activists as “a rich repository of wildlife.”4 Now concern over second campus proposals, which include targeted locations along the west Berkeley shoreline, has centered on issues of job creation, tax revenues, zoning, and predictions of rising sea levels. It remains to be seen whether health and safety issues uniquely associated with this research also will be raised. Do adequate safety protections exist? Or are entirely new safety assessment and reporting methodologies for this research required in order to safeguard worker, public and environmental wellbeing? 

Biosafety level (BL) containment labs are ranked from 1-4 according to the risk of harm they pose, with increasing levels indicating increasing danger. Typically, BL1 labs perform research on non-human infectious agents; BL2 labs use biological agents that could infect humans but are assumed to cause only “moderate harm”; BL3 labs experiment with biological agents capable of killing humans but for which there are known antidotes (like anthrax); and BL4 labs conduct research using agents that could kill humans and for which there is no known antidote. 

Which safety lab levels will the new campus house? What constitutes “moderate harm?” Will the citizenry of this densely populated urban area know what pathogens are being used for research? Since academic and private interests operate under different safety, liability, and oversight restrictions, which research safety guidelines will apply? What remedies will apply in the event of lab worker injury, or environmental or public safety hazard? Will there be a public safety infrastructure facilitating transparency and accountability? Is the patchwork of voluntary regulatory guidelines from existing agencies adequate? 

A brief review of just a few incidents of lab worker exposure to hazards suggests that even current biolab regulation and oversight is not adequate. These include Dr. Jeannette Adu-Bobie, who after visiting a New Zealand lab suffered a meningococcal infection from a laboratory strain causing loss of both legs and an arm; Ru-ching Hsia, a Department of Agriculture scientist who became infected by laboratory E.coli strain and lapsed into a coma for a month;, and University of Chicago scientist Malcolm Casadaban, who died after unknowingly being infected with a laboratory plague bacterium.5 One of this essay’s co-authors, molecular biologist Becky McClain, won a whistle-blower suit against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer after reporting public health and safety concerns.6 She fell ill after an untrained lab worker used a human infectious genetically engineered virus, without suitable biocontainment, on McClain’s personal workspace. She began experiencing periodic paralysis and spinal pain, a result consistent with the DNA-coded effects that had been engineered within the pathogen. Recently, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a University of Illinois laboratory worker was infected by a genetically engineered cowpox laboratory virus, one with which she had never worked. CDC investigators not only found cowpox DNA in many areas around the lab, they also discovered that supposedly harmless stocks of viruses had been contaminated.7 Problematically, releases of laboratory bio agents are difficult to track since exposures often are not visible to a worker who succumbs to a mystery illness. Scientists can become ill from dangerous biological exposures without knowledge of having endured an exposure. 

Public health also is a serious consideration. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) killed nearly 800 people in 2003. Lab versions of the SARS pathogen are known to have escaped BL 3 and BL 4 labs via infected lab workers.8 And a few years ago, at Berkeley itself, workers handled deadly Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (which spreads in the air) without containment when it was mislabeled as harmless.9 The U.S.’s 2001 anthrax scare10 and the unknown source of the virulent, antibiotic-resistant strain of E.coli that has recently infected thousands in Europe and, so far, killed 27 raise serious questions about the effectiveness of tracking, as well as accountability.11 

There is no central authority that coordinates research and planning on synthetic biology. Even though synthetic biology poses serious risks, there are no specific standards for determining threat levels to humans, animals, plants, microorganisms or the environment. Experiments involving the synthesis of completely novel synthetic DNA sequences can make a harmless microbe into a new pathogen with dangerous and far reaching consequences. There are very real concerns that synthetic biology research could result in enhanced virulence, the ability to infect a wider range of organisms, and resistance to antimicrobials, antivirals, vaccines and other treatment or containment responses. As Jonathan Tucker and Raymond Zilinskas explain in “The Promise and Perils of Synthetic Biology,” because synthetic microorganisms are self-replicating and capable of evolution, they could proliferate out of control and cause environmental damage and, if they escape from a research laboratory or containment facility, threaten public health. For this reason, they pose a unique risk unlike those associated with toxic chemicals or radioactive materials.12 Synthetic biology research also raises new issues regarding the degree to which laboratory workers are prepared to engage in such research. Synthetic biology is an interdisciplinary field, involving the activities of chemists, engineers, physicists, and computer scientists as well as biologists. Many practitioners in these fields have never had training, let alone professional experience, in biosafety.13 

The most recent issue of GeneWatch featured Lynne Klotz’s report on Boston University’s feeble risk assessment efforts, undertaken to assure Boston citizens that its lab, which is likely to be conducting research on SARS and the deadly 1918 flu virus, is acceptably safe.14 The University and the NIH claimed that emergency simulations supported moving ahead with the desired research. The National Research Council did not agree, concluding that “the model did not appear to recognize biological complexities and reflect what is known about disease outbreaks and other biological parameters.”15 In other words, both Boston University and the NIH had conducted a risk analysis that ignored the most basic information actually needed to assess the lab’s risks. This cautionary tale should provoke additional public scrutiny of any new biolab facility. Berkeley’s City Council, as well as the governing entities of the other Bay Area cities who want the lab, may want to keep track of what unfolds in Boston—remembering that Boston, unlike the San Francisco Bay Area, is not even on a major earthquake fault line. Considering the current limitations of oversight and the problems of accountability of the various public and private partners involved in the project, it is less than clear what steps they are prepared to take in order to ensure the safety of any new facility engaged in synthetic biology research. 

Boosters have heavily promoted the theoretical benefits of synthetic biology to the public and local officials. They need now to be much more forthcoming in detailing the very real dangers attendant to such research, including broadly publicizing comprehensive risk assessments. Potential neighbors, and others who stand to be impacted by any facility conducting synthetic biology research, deserve better from the University and its partners, and from government representatives charged with protecting public health and safety. 

Jeremy Gruber is President of Council for Responsible Genetics. Tina Stevens and Becky McClain are board members of Alliance for Humane Biotechnology.16 This article originally appeared in GeneWatch, vol. 24 no. 3, June-July 2011 


1. “Lab, Campus Collaborate in Formation of Synthetic Biology Institute,” Today at Berkeley Lab, April 21, 2011. ; Synthetic Biology Institute, University of California, Berkeley. 

2. “UC Berkeley Launches Synthetic Biology Institute to Advance Research in Biological Engineering,” Agilent Technologies, April 19, 2011. 

3. “LBNL Announces Community Meetings on Second Campus at Berkeley Chamber Forum,” The Berkeley Daily Planet, June 8, 2011. 

4. Save Strawberry Canyon 

5. “A Higher Bar for Pathogens, But Adherence Is an Issue,” Andrew Pollock, NY Times, May 27, 2010. 

6. “A Roach in the Kitchen: Interview with Becky McClain,” GeneWatch March/April 2010, vol 23, Issue 2, 

7. “First U.S. Cowpox Infections: Acquired from Lab Contamination,” by Sarah Reardon, Science Insider February 17, 2011. 

8. “SARS in the City,” by Lynn C. Klotz, GeneWatch April/May 2011. 

9. “Texas A&M Bioweapons Accidents More the Norm than an Exception,” Sunshine Project July 2007. . (accessed 3rd of July 2011). 

10. “Amerithrax or Anthrax Investigation” US Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

11. “German E. coli death toll rises further,” CNN World June 9, 2011. 

12 “The Promise and Perils of Synthetic Biology,” Jonathan B. Tucker, Raymond A. Zilinskas, The New Atlantis, Spring 2006. 

13 “Diffusion of Synthetic Biology: A Challenge to Biosafety,” by Marcus Schmidt Systems and Synthetic Biology Journal (June 2008). 

14 “SARS in the City,” by Lynn C. Klotz, GeneWatch April/May 2011. 

15 National Research Council (2007). Technical Input on the National Institutes of Health’s Draft Supplementary Risk Assessments and Site Suitability Analyses for the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Boston University: A Letter Report, Washington, DC: National Academies Press.. (accessed 3 July 2011). 

16. The authors acknowledge helpful comments from Stuart Newman. 

Press Release: DHS to Pursue 'Secure Communities' Deportation Plans
Dismisses Widespread Protest of Dragnet Program

From the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Friday August 05, 2011 - 03:34:00 PM

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that they would be rescinding the Memoranda of Agreement with over 40 states that allow the sharing of fingerprint data between local police and DHS under the Secure Communities (S-Comm) program. The announcement came as a surprise to immigrant community organizations and advocates who have sought an end to S-Comm and appeared to dismiss formal protest from a number of states, including Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York, about participation in the program. California is poised to pass legislation to halt its participation in Secure Communities. 

The DHS has said it would continue to move forward with the program without state agreements, apparently closing any door that states could “opt out” of the controversial program, viewed by immigrant community groups as a “dragnet” to identify and channel undocumented immigrants into detention and deportation. S-Comm is slated for implementation in every county in the country by the end of 2013. 

NNIRR’s Executive Director, Catherine Tactaquin, called the announcement, “a slap in the face to immigrant community, groups, advocates, elected officials, and even members of the law enforcement community who have raised repeated concerns about the increase in racial profiling, prolonged detention, and traumatic deportations due to Secure Communities.” She continued, “Clearly, DHS hopes to derail the nationwide protest against S-Comm and is intent on using it to help accelerate its strategy to deport as many immigrants as possible.” 

The DHS announcement also came less than one week before the start of a series of local hearings in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, North Virginia and Boston. The hearings, along with the establishment of a new Advisory Committee, were apparently created in response to complaints about the Secure Communities program. NNIRR and some 200 other organizations recently criticized the Advisory Committee as insufficient to address the serious issues surrounding S-Comm, and have called for a halt to the program. Recently released federal documents have also revealed that Secure Communities is a part of the FBI’s Next Generation Information System to fuel federal data-gathering on everyone in the country, further confirming that Secure Communities puts in great peril the rights and dignity of all people in the United States, regardless of their immigration status.

Press Release: UC Students Call for Implementation of State Auditor's Report

From Darius L. Kemp, Director of Organizing and Communications, University of California Student Association
Monday August 08, 2011 - 03:42:00 PM

On July 28, the California State Auditor released an Audit reviewing the University of California’s information related to public funds, auxiliary enterprises, student tuition and fees. UC students were very pleased with the Audit and are calling on the UC Office of the President to fully implement the Audit’s recommendations. 

The State Auditor called on the university to take critical steps to increase the transparency of its financial information, their budget process, and include its accounting methods in the budget; while making all such information available on its Web site. As the Audit stated, the University maintains extensive financial records, but certain records are not disclosed while others are vague.  

“Students have long called for greater transparency in UC budgeting policies. It has been incredibly difficult for students and their families to understand exactly where their money is going. This Audit is an important step forward, but more must be done. UC students call on the UC to fully implement all of the State Auditor’s recommendations,” said Claudia Magaña, UC Student Association President and fourth year student at UC Santa Cruz.  

UC students also have called on the Assembly Committee on Higher Education to hold a public hearing on the State Auditor’s report and its recommendations. “The state must ensure that these recommendations are taken seriously. Without oversight from the Legislature, students are concerned that it will be ‘business as usual’ with respect to financial transparency and accountability in the UC system,” said Magaña.  

Finally, UC students are especially concerned with the revelations in the Audit related to the inappropriate use of student referenda fees. The Audit revealed that the UC designated $23 million from a student fee referenda that was not meant for the project in which it was used. The UC asserts that a student fee referendum, which allows students to impose a fee on themselves by a vote of the student body for a specific purpose, can be altered and used for other projects at any time as the UC Office of the President sees fit. The State Auditor’s legal counsel disputes that the UC has any such authority.  

“It is absurd that the UC would assert its authority to change a student fee referendum at any time for any reason. When students vote to impose a fee on themselves for a specific purpose, they should expect that those funds will be used for that purpose alone. The Audit has brought to light an illegal and unethical practice by the UC that must be changed immediately,” said Magaña.  

Save The Bay's 50th Honored at Saturday Work Party

By Joe Eaton
Monday August 08, 2011 - 02:55:00 PM

It’s been 50 years since three extraordinary Berkeley women—Kay Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin, and Esther Gulick—set out to halt the filling and degradation of San Francisco Bay. Save the Bay, the organization they founded, marks that milestone on Saturday August 13 with a “county fair” celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland. The event, from 9 am to 1 pm, will feature volunteer weeding along the shoreline, food, and games, including “wetland bingo.” 

“In 1960, most of the bay’s shoreline was closed to the public…Often for good reason,” writes John Hart in San Francisco Bay: Portrait of an Estuary. “‘Anything that stank or was dangerous,’ one observer notes, ‘wound up on the bayshore.’ That strictly utilitarian shoreline was a place of refineries, military bases, explosives factories, firing ranges, ports and airports, sewage outfalls, and dumps. It was not a place for enjoyment.” 

The bay was also shrinking rapidly, as cities and developers pushed fill-in projects. Berkeley alone was planning to double its size by filling 2000 acres. Others proposed demolishing Mount San Bruno and filling 23 square miles of the South Bay with the rubble. 

One grandiosely cockamamie scheme, the Reber Plan, would have dammed the northern and southern ends of the bay (converting them into freshwater reservoirs), filled the shallows all around the bay for industrial use, and thrown in a couple of submarine bases. The Army Corps of Engineers took this seriously enough to create the Sausalito Bay Model to study its effects on sedimentation. 

“Crossing the bay, and seeing what was happening to it, and also smelling it when you went down the shoreline, made me realize that something I loved and had grown up thinking was always going to be here…maybe wasn’t going to be,” Esther Gulick, who was married to UC economics professor Charles Gulick, told an interviewer in later years. Over lunch at the Town and Gown Club, Gulick, Kerr (wife of UC president Clark Kerr) and McLaughlin (wife of UC Regents president Donald McLaughlin) decided to do something about it. 

They invited 13 key environmentalists to a planning session. As Kerr later told Hart, the Sierra Club’s David Brower told the women, “Well, it’s just extremely important, but the Sierra Club is principally interested in wilderness and in trails.” Other (all male) conservation leaders also demurred. They gave Kerr, McLaughlin, and Gulick their mailing lists and wished them luck. 

By 1970, Save the Bay had recruited 18,000 members. “The bay became a wildly popular cause, and hundreds of thousands of people (including me) were converted to environmentalism in the process,” UC Berkeley geography professor Richard A. Walker writes in The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area. “Nothing was more essential to the foundation of the Bay Area’s green culture. It all goes through Save the Bay.” 

The group’s first notable success was the passage of the McAteer-Petris act in 1965, which placed a moratorium on bay fill and created the Bay Conservation and Development Commission to fill the regulatory void. Over the years, Save the Bay has battled the Peripheral Canal, the plastic bag lobby, airport runway expansion, Gov. Pete Wilson’s attempt to kill BCDC, and, currently, development plans on the Bay’s edge at Redwood City. Thanks in large part to their campaigns, the fill-and-build mania was held in check, sewage treatment has been vastly improved, public bayshore access has expanded from 4 miles in 1961 to 180 today, and some tidal marshes have been restored. 

But the battle isn’t over. “What we have learned is that the bay is never saved,” said Kerr, who passed away in 2010. Gulick had preceded her in 1995; McLaughlin is still very much with us. Saturday would be a good day to honor their memory and their achievements. Weeding tools, gloves, and instruction will be provided. Visit www.savesfbay.org or call Natalie LaVan at (510)452-9261 extension 109 for more information. 


Model Garage's 30th birthday party: Music, Good Food and Cars!

By Jane Stillwater
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 03:07:00 PM
Jane Stillwater

Many years ago I used to own a Volvo. First I had inherited it from my parents, and then my son drove it after that. It was blue—and a really sweet ride. And whenever it needed mechanical surveillance, I always took it to the Model Garage on Shattuck Avenue near Ashby. But then I bought a 1990 Toyota and had to switch to Campus Auto on Shattuck and Delaware, the Toyota's best friend. 

However, when the Model Garage began making plans to celebrate its 30th birthday, they sent me an invitation to the event anyway -- and I'm glad that I went. They had a band and lots of food and tons of happy Volvo owners there and everything. It was a great Berkeley party, celebrating a great occasion -- a solid Berkeley business that had survived for the last 30 years. And, especially in this current economic climate, that's particularly good news. 

When I went to thank one of the owners of the Model Garage for throwing such a fabulous party, I also asked him a few questions. "After to the recent slump in the economy, is your business better or worse than it has been in past years?" 

"At first, when we first started out," he replied, "things were naturally rather slow— like what usually happens with every new start-up business. But then gradually we built up a strong customer base as our reputation for good service began to spread. But now things are slower than they were 15 years ago. But still we are not doing too bad, considering the current economic situation." No surprise there. Nice mechanics, excellent quality service, good location—what's not to like. 

"One last question," I asked him. "The Republicans are always going on and on about how their 'tax breaks for the rich' have had a very positive impact on small businesses. My question to you is this: Have any of the Bush-Obama tax-breaks-for-the-rich legislations helped your business at all?" 

"You've got to be joking, right?" the owner replied. I took that as a no. 

It was a wonderful experience to attend a party actually held in a working garage. The food, mostly catered by Roxie's delicatessen, was marvelous. And a good time was had by all—especially me. Even though I no longer own a Volvo. 

PS: Fortunately, the Bush-Obama recession doesn't seem to have effected the Bay Area all that badly so far. So far, we've been lucky. But if things continue to get worse and worse nationally, perhaps we who live here in the Bay Area might want to secede —or at least form our own state. We could always call it "Greater Berkeley". Yay!

Avoiding Psycho Machete Hackers, Sneakers-Uppers, and Other Berkeley Crimes

by Ted Friedman
Tuesday August 09, 2011 - 01:38:00 PM
How safe are these students at Telegraph Avenue Monday? See any robbery opportunities?
Ted Friedman
How safe are these students at Telegraph Avenue Monday? See any robbery opportunities?

In 1971, Berkeley was abuzz over a psycho machete hacker who sliced-and-diced Berkeleyans with his machete, and one night I barely beat him back to my car before he came after me on lower Hearst. I never forgot that avoided crime. I might have really hurt that guy. 

After at least one death and several woundings, the machete attacks stopped and the Berkeley hacker was never apprehended. He's probably hacking computers with a machete. 

Some years ago, in the Elmwood, I spotted a guy with a sword, thought of the Berkeley machete-killer, and hailed a cop. "Oh that's just old Tom; the sword's plastic," the cop said. Looked real to me. This was in gentler times when cop cars didn't converge on suspects reportedly armed. 

So when I read in the Daily Californian, July 27, that our streets have been safer in the past two summers , I nearly fell on my sword. 

The summer streets were not safe from a team of strong-arm robbers, who snatch I-phones and computers from distracted students as on July 24 (Planet: Aug. 3, 2011)--a case that police might have cracked if the suspects were not juveniles. (Planet: Aug. 3, 2011). 

It is no secret that Berkeley, like such campus areas as Chicago's south side (University of Chicago), Manhattan's Columbia University neighborhood, or the University of Southern California area attract crimes like purse snatching, pick-pocketing, voyeurism, and sexual assault. 

While students make attractive targets (perhaps less so in the summer when there are fewer of them, according to police spokesmen quoted in the Daily Cal), there are other factors such as proximity to convenient get-away freeways accessed all over town, according to my own research. 

Safer or not, students have been advised to watch their backs ("be aware of your surroundings"); but isn't that like the sound of one hand clapping? From what vantage point do you do your back-watching? 

A Southside pedestrian told me the other day I had snuck up on her back because I had a light step; and someone "snuck up" on me the other day, although I was too embarrassed to comment to the sneaker. 

Ever since the machete scare and an ill-advised trip to Manhattan in which I was nearly murdered, I have tried to watch my own back. I always carry pepper spray, and whipped it out and showed it to a belligerent interviewee in the historic Panoramic Hill neighborhood (Planet: May 17, 2011), proclaiming, "I'm armed with pepper spray." 

Kids, don't try this at home unless you run a brisk 100 yard dash; better yet, 200 yards, according to a policeman I told about my less-than-excellent Panoramic Hill pepper spray adventure. Even police make mistakes with their spray, according to my source, even though they are trained in its use. 

I took a course in personal defense in college which started with a quarter mile track-run. Getting away from dangerous situations is the number one most effective self-defense strategy, according to my instructor. Kicks in the privates is next, but not as good as a quick-burst sprint. 

If you like to get lost in your inner muse on the street, muse on this. What's the use of thinking--if your thoughts get you killed? Your first thought should be that when you take to the streets of Berkeley, you are at risk of victimization. 

The Southside is one big crime scene, not always under the watchful eyes of ever- busier police; but neighborhoods elsewhere can be even more dangerous because the sidewalks are unpopulated (no witnesses). As anyone reading my crime pieces knows, flashing a gun, or, for that matter, just seeming to be armed on the Southside will bring on a squad of cops looking for trouble. 

As I was discussing strong-arm (violent-snatching) robberies with a policeman the other day, I had an exposed I-Pad under my arm. The officer was saying such devices 

are targets for strong-arm robberies. "Like the exposed I-pad I'm carrying?" I asked. 

Now I deploy a disguise when toting my I-Pad. If I left a computer on a coffee-house table, I would buy a cable lock for it, as some of my medhead (Caffe Mediterraneum) friends have done. 

I recently watched a grade school principal drawing an imaginary circle around a student to teach him the boundaries each student can expect other students to observe. Now I draw that circle around myself when alone on the streets in my neighborhood. You get into my orb and I'm outta there, and fast. 

As my two sneaking-up experiences show, eyes in the back of the head are unreliable and sound alone is unreliable. According to Buffalo Springfield, "everybody look what's goin down." That's right. "Stop now. Look what's goin down." This is a three-part move: stop and look around--front, back, and sideways. Do this a lot. 

Self-protection on Telegraph Avenue near the university, or on campus, or downtown is not so different from being alone on a secluded street. Try to keep your distance from others, even if this means crossing the street (safely) or zig-zagging. Think of yourself as a football running-back, or running through a mine-field. When in a group, give everyone a heads-up on police crime alerts. Consult these alerts on-line. Know what's "goin down," front, rear, and sides. 

Don't want to live like this? Then how do you want to die? 

Fear is your friend and if you are so foolish as to have none, make some up. For those needing further advice, I recommend being alert to clusters of high school toughs looking for a stomp, or absolutely anyone else who arouses concern. Don't worry about being politically correct, or jay-walking when safe, when crossing the street to avoid trouble. 

Unfortunately, con-men, or street-scammers adopt various disguises to put you off-guard. You'll need to be a McGruff, the crime dog, to take a bite out of crime, but when it comes to crime-stopping it's better to be the one doing the biting. 



Ted Friedman, a Southsider, has never run track, but he's now running for his life. 












Historian of Science Roger Hahn Dies at 79

From UC Berkeley Office of Media Relations
Monday August 08, 2011 - 06:05:00 PM

Roger Hahn, emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leader in shaping the academic field of the history of science, died unexpectedly on May 30 in New York City. He was 79. 

Now widely recognized as a significant field of study, the history of science was an emerging discipline when Hahn, in 1953, was among the first students to graduate from Harvard College with majors in both science (physics) and history. 

Through his studies in Paris at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, as a Fulbright Scholar, and then at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D., Hahn developed a keen interest in the relationship between science and society. 

Moving away from the established approach of teaching scientific development as a series of isolated chronological discoveries, Hahn pursued an integrated view of the development of scientific ideas and institutions as reflective of the socio-political, philosophical, human and other dimensions of their times. 

“He put his stamp on the field in a way that became a model,” said Cathryn Carson, UC Berkeley associate professor of the history of science. “From the start, he cared for questions about science and society that have since become fashionable, and framed them with care, thought and deep academic grounding.” 

One of his most notable and influential works, “The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution. The Paris Academy of Sciences 1666-1803” (1971) provides a comprehensive account of the elite Paris Academy of Sciences from its founding to its dissolution as a royal institution during the French Revolution, and its subsequent revision in the Napoleonic era. Hahn described the Academy as “the anvil on which the often conflicting values of science and society are shaped into a visible form.” 

Hahn was born in Paris on Jan. 5, 1932. His family fled to New York in 1941 to escape Nazi oppression. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1953 and earning an M.A.T. in Education from Harvard the following year, Hahn served in the U.S. Army and was stationed outside of Paris, at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). 

In 1961, Hahn accepted a position in the Department of History at UC Berkeley where he researched, published, taught and participated broadly in both UC and academic life for more than 50 years. 

“Hahn’s passing is a grievous loss to the campus community,” said Erich Gruen, emeritus professor of history and a longtime colleague of Hahn’s. “He was unfailingly supportive and considerate to younger colleagues, a gentle man who never demanded but always commanded respect. At department meetings, his was an independent voice, consistently displaying sound, well-informed, and balanced judgment; never driven by ideology or inflexible opinion.” 

Hahn’s academic interests frequently took him to Europe, where his fluency in five languages facilitated research throughout the continent. 

He is equally known for his work on the late 18th and early 19th-century French scientist and statesman Pierre Simon Laplace, who is considered one of the greatest scientists of the Enlightenment and “France’s Sir Isaac Newton.” Most of LaPlace’s personal papers and library had been destroyed in a fire, so Hahn embarked on a life-long quest to uncover Laplace’s correspondence with scientists and colleagues throughout Europe, thereby reconstructing the evolution of Laplace’s thinking and discoveries. The publication of Hahn’s biography of Laplace, “Pierre Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Determined Scientist” was widely acclaimed. At his death, Hahn’s work on the collected letters of Laplace was nearing publication. 

In the early 1970s, when James D. Hart, former director at UC Berkeley of The Bancroft Library, proposed the establishment of a History of Science Collection, Hahn became its unofficial curator and special assistant to Hart. He pursued rare books, manuscripts and the personal papers of notable scientists, obtaining important additions to the collection. Most importantly, Hahn was largely responsible for arranging the acquisition by The Bancroft of the remaining Laplace papers. 

“Hahn had a keen, ongoing interest in the antiquarian trade in books and manuscripts in the history of science,” said Peter Hanff, deputy director of The Bancroft. “He read catalogues and made referrals continually, even in his retirement.” Hahn served on The Bancroft’s Council of the Friends and also served on the advisory board of The Bancroft’s Regional Oral History Office, gathering and preserving oral histories from important scientific figures in the Bay Area. 

Hahn was deeply committed to teaching and advising his post-graduate, graduate, and undergraduate students. His courses covered the broad sweep of the history of science—from Aristotle to the Atom bomb. One of his most innovative courses was an interdisciplinary class on Renaissance engineers, co-taught by four UC Berkeley professors: an historian, an architect and two engineers. 

At UC Berkeley, Hahn was a founding member and served as director of the Office for History of Science and Technology at from 1993 to 1998. He also served as co-chair of the French Studies Program from 1987 to 1990, and was chair of the selection committee for the France-Berkeley Fund. Throughout his career Hahn served on numerous committees in the Department of History, the College of Letters and Science, the Academic Senate, the University of California system, and the Office of the President. 

“Roger was the perfect colleague,” said John Heilbron, an emeritus professor of history and a friend and colleague of Hahn’s for nearly 30 years. “He was also a very good academic citizen; interested, friendly, knowledgeable, challenging –the sort of person, now increasingly rare, who helps to make the university greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Among Hahn’s many honors and appointments, he was twice named a National Science Foundation Fellow and was named to the Council of the History of Science Society. Hahn was decorated in 1977 with the French government’s high academic honor, Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, for his promotion of cultural and academic exchange between France and the United States and for his classic study of the French Academy of Sciences. In France, he held appointments at the Collège de France, the Sorbonne and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. 

He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and member of the Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, serving as its vice president in 2005. Hahn was also a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and president of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and of the West Coast History of Science Society. He was an active participant and a member of the advisory council for Humanities West. 

“Above all, Roger was a true scholar, an excellent teacher, a wonderful, warm human being with a fine sense of humor, and a dear friend,” said James Casey, a UC Berkeley engineering professor who was collaborating with Hahn on a publication on the theory of plasticity of metals. “His deep study of history had taught him to be philosophical about life, people, and politics. He had a realistic, balanced, view of humanity.” 

Roger Hahn is survived by his wife, Ellen Hahn of Berkeley, Calif., daughters Elisabeth Hahn of New York City, and Sophie Hahn Bjerkholt of Berkeley, and three grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Pierre M. Hahn of San Francisco.



NPR Plays "Let's Make a Deal" While Sky Falls

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 02:07:00 PM

As summer winds down, the excitement over the struggle in Congress should also be cooling. The Congresspersons have gone to ground, many of them smugly convinced that by compromising they’ve once more saved the union. Well, not so fast, it’s not by any means over yet.

Yesterday NPR’s Morning Edition ran what might be called an “interviewette” with Barney Frank, the redoubtable representative from Massachusetts who’s not in the habit of mincing his words. The whole thing lasted barely five minutes, during which Barney made a Herculean effort to explain the insanity of what the Tea Party Terrorists had demanded that Congress do as the price for a normally routine vote to raise the debt ceiling to honor previously incurred debts. 

The interviewer, Steve Inskeep, is either genuinely stupid or was playing dumb yesterday in order to appease the Republican masters who contribute to NPR. His final sally: 

“INSKEEP: Congressman, if I can, we've just got a few seconds. You have mentioned defense spending. You've mentioned tax increases. Those are two areas of disagreement. The biggest part of the federal budget is entitlements... 

Rep. FRANK: No, wrong. I'm sorry. The defense budget is bigger than Medicare, and Social Security is, in fact, self-financing, still is. 

INSKEEP: Let's stipulate for this conversation: a very, very, very, very, very big part of the budget is entitlements. Democrats are seen as resisting cuts. Is your side - in a couple of seconds - going to appoint people to this special committee who are ready to make a deal? 

Rep. FRANK: I am not going to tell an 80-year-old woman living on $19,000 a year that she gets no cost-of-living, or that a man who has been doing physical labor all his life and is now at a 67-year-old retirement - which is where Social Security will be soon - that he has to work four or five more years. 

But I disagree with you that in terms of draining on the budget, Social Security is largely self-financed... 


Rep. FRANK: ...and the military budget is larger than Medicare. So demonizing entitlements and saying that - in fact, here's the deal... 

INSKEEP: Congressman, I really have to cut you off there. But I do... 

Rep. FRANK: Well, I wish you wouldn't ask me complicated questions with five seconds to go.” 

Infuriating—so infuriating that I jumped out of bed and rushed to my computer even before I’d had my coffee, which I NEVER do, to write a quasi-profane complaining letter to NPR. 

Dammit, the last thing the government should do when depression looms is cut back on the money going into the stream of commerce under the (sometimes pejorative) label of “entitlements.” The saner voices on what has come to be called the Left (formerly known as the Center) of the political spectrum have been trying to explain this to the dunderhead newsies for months now, but their ping-pong soundbyte coverage (in print as well as on the radio) never allows for even the simplest explanation of what’s actually going on in the economy. Barney Frank almost got the point across in his 2.5 minutes of airtime yesterday, but the interviewer’s persistent desire to articulate the Tea Bag analysis in the interest of appearing “fair and balanced” drowned him out in the end. 

Henry Ford used to claim that he paid his workers a living wage so that they could afford to buy his cars. If almost 10% of today’s potential consumers don’t have jobs, they’re just not going to be buying much, and that’s the nub of the problem, apparent even to people like me who never took Econ 101. U.C. Berkeley’s Brad DeLong and his alter ego Paul Krugman have been providing an excellent online makeup course for anyone who bothers to read their blogs. But they’d need more than 5 minutes to explain it to the radio guys, which is why you seldom hear them on NPR. 

As an English major who did take Linguistics 101, I might quibble with the way the analyis is framed, especially by people like Robert Reich who make noble efforts to provide simple, easily digested explanations. These exhortations usually takes the form of “what we need is a jobs program!” Well, strictly speaking, what we really need in money in the pockets of people who will spend it, pump-primers if you will. They don’t actually have to be working at anything in particular. 

Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA-type stimulus financing embodied the principle. Many of the “jobs” it funded were not considered necessary activities of government before the depression hit: taking photos, writing plays, painting murals and similar endeavors. 

The Puritan ethic is too strongly ingrained in America to actually allow people to be given spending money if they don’t appear to be working in some fashion. Just giving needy people money to spend would never fly in the U.S., effective though it might be. 

Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke is twitted with the soubriquet “Helicopter Ben” because he once in a speech referred to Milton Friedman’s idea about using about using a "helicopter drop" of money into the economy to fight deflation. In some part of the popular imagination, this concept has morphed into pushing payoffs for slackers, which was not the original idea. 

Putting on my environmentalist hat for a moment, I’d like to take issue with the underlying rationale for Obama’s original too-little too-late stimulus effort, directed at “shovel-ready” projects. “Jobs” programs have lately been thought of primarily as big-machine construction projects, good for construction workers whether as a society we need them built or not. Such jobs projects take the form, in Santa Cruz for example, of incessantly re-paving parking lots in environmentally sensitive areas that should never have been paved in the first place, or in Berkeley of pushing forward the unneeded and damaging fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. Construction unions and big builders typically join forces to promote such enterprises, which usually consume a lot of non-sustainable resources and promote climate change. 

If the rubric has to be “jobs”, there are better things to do with stimulus money than putting it all into “guy” jobs like these. Yes, I know that women have made some progress in the construction industry, but they’re by no means well-represented there. 

At a recent event for a congressional primary candidate, a young woman, mother and breadwinner for two small children, laid it on the line. She said that she’d been working for eight years, ever since she graduated from high school, as a pre-school teacher’s aide. Her government job is deliberately limited to less than full-time so she doesn’t get any benefits. Her mother helps her with child care, she has a variety of extracurricular jobs nights and weekends, and she’s trying to get a community college degree, but she just isn’t making ends meet well enough to pay for health insurance. She asked the candidate what could be done for people like her. 

Here’s an idea. Why can’t stimulus money simply be used to raise her pay to a decent level so that she can buy insurance? Too simple? 

Here’s another idea: we inherited my mother-in-law’s house, complete with 40 years worth of termites. One call to a company that does environmentally sound termite abatement with orange oil produced a thorough free inspection, followed by a slick professional crew who got the job done in a half-day. It’s a much more labor-intensive process than tenting the house and fumigating with toxic gas, but in a depressed economy that’s a plus. 

All over the country, foreclosed homes are being allowed to decay, from termites and other causes, as banks walk away from bad investments, yet at the same time many people are still homeless. Why can’t stimulus money be allocated for maintenance of homes like these, to be turned over to people who need them, instead of for wasteful highway construction which accelerates global warming? 

What’s wrong with this picture is the eagerness of press commentators who should know better to “stipulate” that “a very, very, very, very, very big part of the budget is entitlements.” That’s simply not true in any statistical sense in terms of the current budget, as Barney Frank could explain if he got ten minutes uninterrupted by facile and fatuous questions. And if Barney couldn’t get the point across, Professors DeLong, Krugman, Reich or Joseph Stiglitz could probably make it clear to even the dullest student in about 20 minutes. 

It’s that old “both sides” problem again. Professor Krugman once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, ‘Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth’ “. That’s the level of information we’ve been getting from most of the press on the economic catastrophe that is upon us. 

And meanwhile, Chicken Little, the sky continues to fall. They’re rioting in England—or perhaps we should say they’re engaging in non-monetized spontaneous consumption of goods caused by the absence of income. And they’re rioting in stock markets around the world, increasingly unsure which way up might be, and not helped by the remarkably bad advice they’ve been getting from self-styled know-nothing “experts” both in and out of the media. It's not over yet. 




Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 11:15:00 AM


Dan O'Neill



Joseph Young


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 03:37:00 PM

More about UC Berkeley 

Dorothy Snodgrass' letter in last week's Planet lauding U.C. needs to be answered. She writes of all the wonderful programs that are offered. But these programs are becoming less accessible to middle class California residents as the University enrolls an ever increasing number of out-of-state and foreign students who are able to pay the high tuition. Furthermore the University is hardly a good partner to the city since it uses city services that it doesn't pay for and does things on their property that are not in the best interest of the city such as building a recreational facility on an earthquake fault in spite of the obvious danger and the neighborhood protests. 

Lydia Gans 

* * * 

Flunking Moral Test 

As you enter the Humphrey Building, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these words are written on a wall: “…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life—the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” Given the budget shenanigans at both the federal and state level, we are flunking this moral test. 

Ralph E. Stone 

* * *


Wild Neighbors: Hawks and Rodenticides: Another Berkeley Poisoning

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 02:46:00 PM
Local adult Cooper's hawks with rat. The body of a hawk which died in Berkeley last week contained rat poison, which has frequently been known to kill predators.
Tony Brake
Local adult Cooper's hawks with rat. The body of a hawk which died in Berkeley last week contained rat poison, which has frequently been known to kill predators.
Local juvenile Cooper's hawks with rat.
Tony Brake
Local juvenile Cooper's hawks with rat.

It’s the worst kind of déjà vu. Last month a juvenile Cooper’s hawk was found dead in a pool of blood on a west Berkeley sidewalk, not far from where three other hawks succumbed four years ago. This year’s victim tested positive for the anticoagulant rodenticide brodifacoum, with a trace amount of another rodenticide, diphacinone. Brodifacoum was also implicated in at least two of the 2007 deaths. 

Some rodenticide users, homeowners and professionals alike, seem oblivious to the collateral damage the stuff can cause. Even if the bait is placed indoors, a poisoned rat or mouse can wander outside where it can be picked off or scavenged by a predator or pet. Although Cooper’s hawks are primarily bird-hunters, rats may be “starter” prey for younger individuals, easier to catch than pigeons or starlings. Hard-pressed parents may also bring rodents home for their hungry nestlings. 

Death by brodifacoum is particularly nasty. It kills by internal bleeding, which results in intense thirst. (The 2008 hawks were found in a backyard wading pool.) Like other “second-generation anticoagulants,” brodifacoum was introduced in the 1970s after rodents developed resistance to older products. The risk of secondary poisoning of non-target species like hawks is increased by the fact that the poison is not immediately fatal: a rat may keep coming back to the bait for several days as the brodifacoum in its body builds up to several times the lethal amount. 

According to the American Bird Conservancy , brodifacoum has killed hundreds of birds of prey: red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks, great horned owls, eastern screech-owls, golden eagles. Even mountain lions and endangered kit foxes have fallen victim. In New Zealand, populations of both raptors and insect-eating birds decreased following a brodifacoum-baiting program. 

The second chemical found in the hawks’ tissues, diphacinone, is one of the first-generation anticoagulants. Previous tests on mallard ducks and bobwhite quail had been used to claim that it was only minimally harmful to birds. However, a more recent US Geological Survey study found that small amounts of diphacinone were lethal to American kestrels. As little as 3 grams of liver from a poisoned rodent could kill one of these small falcons. 

A source with the National Animal Poison Control Center says about 160,000 cases of suspected secondary rodenticide poisoning are reported every year. The casualties include pets, livestock, and wildlife. 

Ironically, the new Cooper’s hawk poisoning incident coincided with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of its final risk mitigation decision on brodifacoum, diphacinone, and eight other rodenticides (www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reregistration/rodenticides/finalriskdecision), significantly weakened from the agency’s original proposal. Effective in July, the EPA requires that all rodenticides be sold to consumers only with bait stations, as opposed to loose pellets. (Keep in mind, though, that it’s easy enough for a poisoned rodent to exit the bait station and become available to predators or pets. ) And brodifacoum and other second-generation anticoagulants will be sold only to professional pest control operators and through “agricultural, farm, and tractor stores” rather than to the general public. 

The EPA acknowledges that three rodenticide manufacturers—Reckitt Benckiser Inc (D-Con, which contains brodifacoum), Spectrum Group, and Liphatech Inc.---have refused to adopt the new safety measures. The agency says it will take action to remove their products from the market. Pointing out that this could take years, the ABC and ten other environmental groups have called for the immediate removal of the noncompliant products. 

That’s on the national level. Although federal law precludes California cities from banning specific pesticides, the current Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit requires them to establish an integrated pest management policy and ensure that city employees and contractors follow IPM procedures. Berkeley’s pest management policy encourages the preferential use of “reasonably available non-pesticidal alternatives,” including preventive site design and management and physical controls. Although pesticides are considered a last resort, only those “determined to have evidence of causation of cancer, birth defects, mutations, or other severe chronic health effects” are banned from use. The city’s posted policy doesn’t even mention secondary poisoning of wildlife. 

The irony here is that inappropriate use of these products is killing our most effective allies against rodent pests. Hawks and owls are highly competent pest-control agents. Why not let them do their jobs? 

Local wildlife advocate Lisa Owens Viani, founder of Keep Barn Owls in Berkeley, is launching a new group, Raptors are the Solution (RATS), to raise public awareness of the ecosystem services that birds of prey provide and their vulnerability to secondary rodenticide poisoning. "People might say that it's just one dead hawk,” she says. “But one hawk bleeding to death from rat poison is too many. And these are only the birds we know about. Let's not poison the solution to the problem." A planning meeting is scheduled for August 24. If you’d like to get involved, email me: joe_eaton@speakeasy.net. For more background, check out the Hungry Owl Project’s raptors and rodenticides page

The Public Eye: Obama: It Became Necessary to Destroy the Economy to Save It

By Bob Burnett
Monday August 08, 2011 - 02:32:00 PM

On February 7, 1968, US forces demolished Ben Tre, a provincial capitol in South Vietnam. An Army Major declared, 'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” On August 2, 2011, President Obama signed the draconian law to raise the US debt limit and unravel our social safety net. He should have quipped, “It became necessary to destroy the economy to save it.” 

Sifting through the ashes of this catastrophe, liberals can glean five grim lessons. First, Washington politicians do not understand how the US economy works. It’s not that complicated: a robust economy depends upon steady consumption by average Americans, not millionaires and billionaires. Working folks aren’t consuming because they either don’t have the money or are saving it because they are fearful. These Americans aren’t going to spend more because the debt crisis got resolved. They are worried about their jobs and the jobs of family members and friends. They understand the debt-limit crisis had nothing to do with jobs and that Washington pols don’t get it. That’s why average Americans are pissed off at both parties. 

Second, the Obama Administration has no jobs message because it doesn’t know what to do to create jobs. Since Obama became President most of us have assumed that Barack, a smart person, would eventually figure out the US needs a massive stimulus program – a public works program similar to FDR’s WPA – to create jobs. Initially Obama supporters believed he didn’t do this because he was getting bad advice from people like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin. We waited. Summers and Rubin left and we expected Obama to pick up the jobs banner and run with it. Instead he repeated the Republican mantra: “Washington has to get its house in order and then there will be jobs.” 

The Republicans have a wrong-headed but consistent message: reduce taxes and government and the economy will magically blossom. The Reagan and Bush years demonstrate this ideology is BS, but there is no countervailing message because the Obama Administration is lost. If the President really believed the number one problem facing America was jobs he would have refused to negotiate with Republicans when they manufactured the debt limit crisis; Obama should have said, “This has nothing to do with creating jobs and will make the economy worse. Congress, get to work on America’s real problems!” 

Complaining the President “lost control of the narrative” assumes that he had a message but didn’t know how to distribute it to the American people. This suggests that if Fox News and Rush Limbaugh disappeared then Obama would command the airwaves and we would all understand his “solution.” But Obama doesn’t have a message because he doesn’t understand what’s going on. 

The third lesson liberals have learned is that even if the President understood what is happening and had a compelling narrative it wouldn’t have made any difference because Obama is not willing to fight for his position. To paraphrase the old Blues refrain, “He’s a lover not a fighter.” 

We’ve now seen at least five examples where Obama had an opportunity to make a real difference and lost it by being overly accommodating: the amount of the original stimulus, whether or not to break up “too-big-to-fail” banks, health care, the federal budget crisis, and the debt crisis. (It’s probably true that the President caved to the military on Afghanistan, but we don’t know as much about that negotiation.) In the debt crisis negotiation, Republicans got what they wanted because the President was soft. 

The fourth lesson is that, emboldened by success, Republicans are going to continue to follow their “hostage taking” strategy. We’ve already seen this with their attack on the FAA. It’s street wisdom that submitting to a bully’s demands only encourages him. Republicans will use the upcoming Federal budget negotiation as their next big opportunity to advance their slash and burn agenda. 

The fifth and final lesson is that the economy continues to be in bad shape and – despite the Pollyannaish assurances of the Obama Administration – we’re likely to find ourselves in the dreaded “double dip” recession. The United States of America is adrift, heading for a sea of icebergs, without effective leadership. 

It didn’t have to be like this. President Obama had two opportunities to call the Republicans’ bluff and chose not to. In December he could have refused to sign any budget deal that did not include ending the egregious tax cuts for millionaires and raising the debt ceiling. On August 2nd, he could have refused to sign a debt-limit agreement that did not include new revenues. In both cases he could have dared the Republicans to shut down the economy. 

The bottom line for liberals: we’re on our own. It’s naïve to expect help from President Obama. The economy will continue to spiral downward and liberals will have to figure out how to save it. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bobburnett@comcast.net

Right-To-Work-For-Less Laws

By Ralph Stone
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 03:31:00 PM

While vacationing in Charleston, South Carolina earlier this year, the local media were full of editorials complaining about the April 20, 2011, complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing Company alleging that Boeing’s decision to assemble large commercial aircraft at a new final assembly plant in South Carolina violated the National Labor Relations Act. The complaint alleges that Boeing illegally “transferred” work from its unionized assembly plant in Seattle, Washington to this new South Carolina facility. 

South Carolina is a right-to-work (RTW) state whereas Washington state is a non-RTW state. I am sure that Boeing took this into consideration when it relocated to South Carolina. Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley amendments to the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C §141, permits a state to pass laws that prohibit unions from requiring a worker to pay dues, even when the worker is covered by a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. Thus, workers in RTW states have less incentive to join a union and to pay union dues and as a result, unions have less clout vis-à-vis corporations. Today, 22 states have RTW laws. These states are located predominantly in the South and Southwest. 

Proponents of RTW laws claim that the economies with such laws grow faster and their citizens are better off. But with their faster growing populations, RTW states had unemployment rates averaging 8 percent in April of this year, just below the 8.2 percent average in non-RTW states. 

In The Compensation Penalty of "Right-To-Work" Laws (February 17, 2011 Economic Policy Institute Briefing Paper #299), economists Elise Gould and Heidi Shierholz examined the differences in compensation between RTW and non-RTW states. Controlling for the demographic and job characteristics of workers as well as state-level economic conditions and cost-of-living differences across states, they found that in 2009 wages were 3.2 percent lower in RTW states versus non-RTW – about $1,500 less annually for a full-time, year-round worker; the rate of employer-sponsored health insurance was 2.6 percentage points lower in RTW states compared with non-RTW states; the rate of employer-sponsored pensions was 4.8 percentage points lower in RTW states. And, in 2008, the rate of workplace deaths was 57 precent higher in RTW states than non-RTW states, while the 2009, poverty rate in RTW states averaged 15 percent, considerably above the 12.8 percent average for non-RTW states. 

Gould and Shierholz concluded, "RTW legislation misleadingly sounds like a positive change in this weak economy, in reality the opportunity it gives workers is only that to work for lower wages and fewer benefits. For legislators dedicated to making policy on the basis of economic fact rather than ideological passion, our findings indicate that, contrary to the rhetoric of RTW proponents, the data show that workers in “right-to-work” states have lower compensation – both union and nonunion workers alike." 

Why do we need unions anyway? Because they are essential for America. Unions are the only large-scale movement left in America that persistently acts as a countervailing balance against corporate power. They act in the economic interests of the middle class. But the decline of unions over the past few decades has left corporations and the rich with essentially no powerful opposition. You may take issue with a particular union's position on an issue, but remember they are the only real organized check on the power of the business community in this country. RTW laws are anti-union, pro-business 

It is not surprising that RTW states generally vote Republican while the Democratic Party receives significant support from organized labor, who supply a great deal of the money, grass roots political organization, and voting base in support of the party.  

RTW laws then are really “right-to-work-for-less” laws, as union critics call them. They are great for business, but not so great for the workers and the economies of RTW states. 

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Sunday August 07, 2011 - 03:22:00 PM

“The liberal sees outer, removable institutions as the ultimate source of evil; sees man’s social task as creating a world in which evil will disappear. His tools for this task are progress and enlightenment. The conservative sees the inner unremovable nature of man as the ultimate source of evil; sees man’s social task as coming to terms with a world in which evil is perpetual and in which justice and compassion will be perpetually necessary. His tools for this task are the maintenance of ethical restraints inside the individual and maintenance of unbroken, continuous social patterns inside the given culture as a whole.” 


–-Peter Viereck (1917-2006) German poet, journalist, political theorist (from one of his books, quoted in his obituary, which described him as a conservative who “shunned extremism.”) 

I guess I have aged into a conservative liberal or a liberal conservative or—what? 

I believe we must at least try to hold both views simultaneously. (Who was it—Henry James?—who said that the definition of a first-rate mind was one that could hold two contradictory ideas at the same time?) 

We must work to support progress and enlightenment as if we believed we could create a world in which evil will disappear—at the same time that we realize that evil is perpetual; therefore, “justice, restraint, and compassion will be perpetually necessary.” 

Becoming a decent human being involves a difficult, life-long, balancing act of these two opposing views of human nature and human society. 

(Send the Berkeley Daily Planet a page from your own Commonplace Book) 











Senior Power: Reminiscing

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Sunday August 07, 2011 - 03:18:00 PM

Bouquets of daffodils and odoriferous sweet peas appeared on the white metal stand next to my hospital bed, delivered to the Stamford Hospital children’s ward by person or persons unknown. They were from the garden of the Paradise sisters. 

Agnes and Sue Paradise were perhaps seventy years old in 1933. Dare I say, proverbial little old ladies? They lived alone together in a charming old, brown-shingled house at 745 Summer Street. In memory, they remind me of Sadie and Bessie, the Delany sisters. Lovely old homes and all green things on their street have been demolished. I foolishly anticipated the Paradise sisters’ house being preserved by the community, state or federal government. 

Back then, carnations and hyacinth were also fragrant. But Lathyrus odoratus --sweet peas – outdid them all. Even the lily of the valley growing in the vacant lot across our street, and the lilacs on the bushes in front of houses.  

In 1981, when she was sixty-three years old, writer and amateur gardener Eleanor Spencer Stone Perenyi published her one-and-only gardening book. It is a classic, based on her experiences working on her husband’s castle garden and later, her own Connecticut garden. She intended it to be an ode to the pleasures of getting your hands dirty in your own yard. It is still known for plain but elegant prose, trenchant humor, and forthright opinions.  

Green Thoughts; A Writer in the Garden is a collection of seventy-two essays, alphabetically-arranged from Annuals to Woman’s Place. About sweet peas, she lamented that they had become “so far from smelling as one is positive they once did.” The only times she tried modern hybrid sweet peas, “they were miserable disasters. They have graduated from the backyard to the greenhouse in a couple of generations.”  

Perenyi liked compost (“no civilization has survived for long that hasn’t found a way to recycle its vegetable and animal wastes”), dahlias, and earthworms. She disliked rock gardens (“do not care for except in the Oriental context,”) chemical pesticides, and petunias (“hopelessly impractical”.)  

Her father was a military attaché to the American Embassy in Paris. At a diplomatic dinner in Budapest, she met Zsigmond Perenyi, a young, impecunious, socially progressive Hungarian baron. They were married and went to live in his family’s castle, where she helped work the land. 

As World War II loomed, he risked being named an enemy alien. With the war under way, pregnant with their son, she left Europe. Her husband was conscripted into the Hungarian Army, later joined a resistance unit and remained in Europe after the war. They divorced in 1945. She settled in New York, working as an editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle, and in Connecticut, working her garden. She was ninety-one when she died. 

I learned of Eleanor Perenyi and her Green Thoughts while reading Noel Perrin (1927-2004)’s trilogy of essays on the practice and philosophy of country living in northern New England. He commenced with publication in 1978 of First Person Rural; Essays of a Sometime Farmer. He had purchased a farm in Thetford, Vermont, eleven miles along and across the Connecticut River to Hanover, New Hampshire and Dartmouth College, where he taught. His academic specialty was modern poetry, particularly that of Robert Frost. His Second Person Rural (1980), provided practical advice for the "sometime farmer.” Perrin was really “into” maple syrup, wood-as-heating fuel, and town meetings.  

Stella Johnson was a woman of honor who made it through the Depression and widowhood despite insolvency, perfunctory treatment by the power structure, and loss of friends. Stella and Judge Johnson resided in a large home on Ocean Avenue. She was well reputed as a good Christian lady who played the church organ for services and led the choir. He was a lush who left childless, naïve Stella penniless when he died in the midst of the Depression. Her bequest consisted of the mortgaged house and a piano. 

When I knew her, in 1935, she dressed in black and was transitioning into piano teacher slash rooming house manager. The local Home Owners Loan Corporation allowed her to live and give piano lessons in what had been the Johnsons’ front parlor. She was a modified Madame Sousatzka for Billie Dodd, the Freeport school system superintendent's only child.  

For eight years, I took fifty-cent piano lessons from Stella and more or less practiced on her piano while she was having lunch. I disliked Czerny and Heller. I liked Edward MacDowell’s To a Wild Rose. When an old man chased me through the snowy streets, I took refuge in Stella’s vestibule. In her bathroom, I wondered how she got onto the scale and into the bathtub. In her yard and with her blessing, I planted radish seeds. From her music stand, I snitched candies. 

As we sat at the piano, I had been aware that Stella used an ointment, probably for arthritis compounded by her weight and lack of exercise. Ever optimistic, she was certain knee surgery would make everything right, but it accomplished just the opposite. Destitute, immobile and with no family, unable to care for herself, she was incarcerated in Pilgrim State Hospital. A huge facility, it was generally regarded as an insane asylum and dumping ground for eccentric adults without families. Stella was about sixty-five years old when she was deemed able to return to the community if she could locate a sponsor. Many years later, I wrote the Hospital administration inquiring about Stella: she had never left Pilgrim State.  




AARP’s Public Policy Institute reports ten key facts about today’senior citizens:  

One in six lives in poverty.  

As of May 2011, jobseekers 65+ spent an average of a year looking for work. 

Two-thirds of families with a head of household age 65–74 had debt.  

Three out of five families headed by a person 65+had no retirement savings (2007).  

Typical private-pay assisted living costs (2011) are more than $39,000 a year. 

Nursing home costs are almost twice as much. 

Medicare pays for very limited nursing home care and does not pay for assisted living. 

Nearly seven out of ten Medicare beneficiaries spent at least 10 percent of their income 

on health care expenses (2006). 

On average, seniors paid $3,103 annually out of pocket for health care. 

Social Security is the principal source of family income for nearly half of older  



The July 19, 2011 Berkeley City Council’s Action Calendar included “Modification of Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 9.52 Taxicabs and Automobiles for Hire; Adding Permit Transfer Fees; and Increasing the Flag Drop and other Rates… “ What happened, and so what?? Council allowed the fare increase but postponed the rules until September. Ultimately, senior citizens’ taxi scrip will be worth less than its current value. Contact your Councilmember and urge that taxi scrip value be increased accordingly. For her/his phone numbers (and, if necessary, to learn in which Council district you live), phone the City Clerk (510) 981-6900. (Council’s next meeting is September 20.) 


At its Spring 2011 General Assembly in Bellevue, Washington, the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops issued its strongest statement yet in opposition to end-of-life choice for terminally ill patients. The bishops said they were reacting to recent advances in the movement for end-of-life autonomy, including new laws and rulings in Washington state and Montana. They characterized aid in dying as false compassion and false choice. Compassion & Choices (www.compassionandchoices.org) held a news conference outside the bishops’ meeting site, where experiences of people with a personal stake in end-of-life liberty were presented. Too many doctors and hospitals equate ‘death’ with ‘failure.’ Dr. Richard Wesley, a retired Seattle pulmonologist and intensive care specialist, who is terminally ill with ALS, declared “As a physician, I have witnessed many slow painful deaths. I don’t know if I will take the life-ending medication, but I do know that it gives me peace of mind to have some choice and control at the end of my life…it is my death and it should be my choice.”  


Helpful Reader shares information regarding the July 27 Senior Power column “Question: I rent an apartment. The landlord doesn’t provide rent receipts, and my checking account doesn’t provide cancelled checks. How can I get receipts for my rent without incurring the owner’s wrath?” S/he writes “Years ago, I read that any time you pay in cash, you have the right to a receipt: Calif state law.” When I pointed out the need for a citation to the law, s/he sent: “CCP 2075 (Code of Civil Procedure) Right to Receipt Whoever pays money, or delivers an instrument or property, is entitled to a receipt therefor from the person to whom the payment or delivery is made, and may demand a proper signature to such receipt as a condition of the payment or delivery. Leg 1875.” 


The debt ceiling agreement signed into law by President Obama will impact federal spending decisions for the next decade and longer. Because the Elder Justice Act is a new authorization not yet funded, the advocacy focus must still be to get Congress to support the President’s budget request of $21.5 million for FY 2012, which includes $16.5 million for Adult Protective Services andan additional $5 million for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. There is nothing in the debt ceiling agreement that bars funding for new programs. The agreement says that funding for all programs must fit under the 10-year caps in spending (which are adjusted each year). During Congressional recess in August, reach out to your Senators and Representatives: “Fund the Elder Justice Act this year! Support the Administration’s request for $21.5 million, the first federal funding specifically for elder abuse victims.”If your Senator or Representative is a member of the House or Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee, your efforts are of particular importance. In California, they are: Barbara Lee, 2267 Rayburn House Office Building, D.C. 20515-0509. (202) 225-2661 Fax: (202) 225-9817; and Lucille Roybal-Allard, 2330 Rayburn House Office Building, D.C. 20515-0534. (202) 225-1766 Fax:(202) 226-0350. 




MARK YOUR CALENDAR : August and September 2011. Be sure to confirm. 

Readers are welcome to share by email news of events that may interest boomers and seniors. Daytime, free, and Bay Area preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

Wednesday, August 10 - 10 A.M.-2 P.M. 10th Annual Healthy Aging Fair Festival. Chabot College, 255555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. Free lunch. Raffle prizes. Entertainment. Free shuttle from South Hayward BART. (510) 577-3532, 3540. Sign up at your senior center for free bus service. Questions?:Mary Norton/Doug Howerton, (510) 597-5085. 

Wednesday, August 10 - 10:30 A.M. – Noon Dr. Mary Anne Brady presents “California’s Economy: Great Depression 2011?” Free for Mastick Senior Center and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members. 

Wednesdays, August 10, 17 and 24 6 P.M. Wednesday Evening Movies at Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. (510) 747-7510. August 3: You Again. August 10:The Town. August 17: 127 Hours. August 24: Rabbit Hole.  

Wednesdays, August 10, 17 and 24 6 - 8 P.M. Summer Evening Computer Workshops at Mastick Senior Center. Patricia Meier, Instructor. August 3: E-books and E-readers. August 10: Internet Phone Services. August 17: Photo Sharing On-Line. August 24: Make a Movie. $10. per class. Register at Mastick Office.  

Thursday, August 11 - 6-7:45 P.M. Berkeley Public Library, South branch. 1901 Russell St. Lawyer in the Library. Free legal advice and help with questions.
In-person sign-ups only; sign-ups begin at 5pm. Names pulled by lottery at 6 P.M. 

Also Sept. 1.  

Thursday, August 11 - 10-11 A.M. Computers for Beginners at Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge Street. Free, Drop-In Classes. Self-Paced
Learn how to use the mouse, use the keyboard, set up e-mail and search the internet.
For more information call 510-981-6148. Also August 18 and September 1. 

Saturdays, August 13 & 14 - 1:30 P.M. music; 2 P.M. show. SF Mime Troupe's 2010: The Musical. Live Oak Park Live Oak Community Center, 1301 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA. ASL interpreter on site on August 14. Outdoors. Free. (510) 227-7110. AC bus #18 stops nearby. 

Sunday, August 14 - 12:45 P.M. – 4 P.M. Celebration of Resources for Aging in Community. Presented by The Elders’ Guild. $5.00 “donation.” North Berkeley Senior center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. For information, call (510) 842-6224 or Info@eldersguild.org.  

Monday August 15 - 6-6:50 P.M. Evening Computer Class at Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Free drop-in computer class for beginners. For further information: 510-981-6148 

Tuesday, August 16 - 9 A.M.– 4 P.M. Senior Field Trip. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay trip to De Young Museum in San Francisco to see the Picasso exhibit. Price includes transportation, admission to the museum, and the exhibit. $25.00 for seniors. Sign up required in advance by August 8th. Payment due when signing up. Call Sam Young (510)848-0237 x148. 

Wednesday, August 17 - 1:30 P.M. BerkeleyCommission on Aging. South Berkeley Senior Center. Call to confirm (510) 981-5178.  

Saturday, August 20 - 11 A.M. Landlord /Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library. Also Sept. 17.  

Tuesday, August 23 - 10 A.M. Mastick Senior Center. Overview on reverse mortgages. ECHO non-profit counseling organization presentation.  

Tuesday, August 23 - 3-4 P.M. Berkeley Public Library, Central. Tea and Cookies. A book club for people who want to share the books they have read. (510)981-6100. 

Tuesday, August 23 - 7 – 8 P.M. El Cerrito Library book discussion group meets the 4th Tuesday of each month: “The Glass Room.” Feel free to come to one or all discussions. (510) 526-7512. 

Wednesday, August 24 - 10 A.M. Dr. Alicia Perez discusses Balance & Dizziness.. Tips to Reduce Falls. Mastick Senior Center. 

Wednesday, August 24 - 1 P.M. Berkeley Gray Panthers meets at North Berkeley Senior Center. 

Wednesday, August 24 - 1:30-2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. Great Books Discussion Group. Eliot's The Hollow Men and The Waste Land. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Parking! 526-3720 x 16. 

Thursday, August 25 – 1:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center Music Appreciation Class. 

Join William Sturm, Volunteer. Recital featuring “Norwegian Romantic: Agathe Backer-Grondahl”. The class discussion and recital will be of music by a Norwegian woman composer. 

Monday, August 29 - 10:30 A.M. San Francisco Gray Panthers. Book Club. (415) 552-8800. e-mail: graypanther-sf@sbcglobal.net, web: http://graypantherssf.igc.org/  

Monday, August 29 - 7 P.M. Book Club:Dubliners by James Joyce. Kensington Lirary, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington, CA. Joyce declared Dubliners to be a chapter in the moral history of Ireland. This is a collection of 15 tales that offers vivid, tightly focused observations of the lives of Dublin's poorer classes. Free. (510) 524-3043.  

Tuesday, August 30 - 1 P.M. - Seminar on funerals and memorialization. Greer Family Mortuary’s Andrew Slakey. Mastick Senior Center. 

Wednesday, August 31 - 2-3:30 P.M. Find your ancestors. Become a genealogical super sleuth at the Central Berkeley Public Library 3rd floor Electronic Classroom for an introduction to Ancestry.com, an online resource that offers searchable census tracts, immigration records, photos and more. 




Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 6 – 10 A.M.-12:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center Creative writing class. Fee class.  

Tuesday, Sept. 6 - 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. “Castoffs” Knitting Group. Enjoy enjoy an evening of knitting, show and tell and yarn exchange. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Free. (510) 524-3043. 

Wednesdays, Sept. 7 and 14 – 9 A.M.-1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. AARP Driver Safety Program refresher course designed for motorists who are 50+. Preregistration required. $12 per person for AARP members, $14 per person for non-AARP members. Registration is payable by check ONLY made payable to AARP. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7 - 10 A.M.-Noon North Berkeley Senior Center Advisory Council meeting. Public invited. (510) 981-5190. (Note: City Council July 19, 2011 agenda item #10 on Consent Calendar re Berkeley senior centers’ advisory councils.)  

Wednesdays, Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28 & Oct. 5, 12 - 10:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center. Balance Your Walk with the Alexander Technique. Lenka Fejt, certified teacher, will begin a six-part workshop on the Alexander Technique. Prepaid registration fee of $60. required. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7 - Noon. UC,B Music Dept. Hertz Hall. Noon Concert Series 

will resume with Joe Neeman, violin and Miles Graber, piano, performing works by Bartok and Sarasate.  

Wednesday, Sept. 7 through Nov. 3 – 2 P.M.– 4 P.M. Alameda Adult School instructors provide computer instruction at Mastick Senior Center. Note: Tuesday morning class 9:00 A.M.-11:00 A.M. Register at the Adult School, 2250 Central Avenue, Rm 160 or on-line at www.alameda-adult-school.org.  

Wednesday, Sept. 7 - 6-8 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Ave. Lawyer in the Library. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call (510) 526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursday, Sept. 8 - 6-7:45 P.M. Berkeley Public Library, South branch. 1901 Russell St. Lawyer in the Library. Free legal advice and help with questions. In-person sign-ups only; sign-ups begin at 5pm. Names pulled by lottery at 6 P.M. 

Friday, Sept 9 - 1 P.M. – 3 P.M. Mid-Autumn Festival. At the North Berkeley Senior Center. 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. (510) 981-5190.  

Fridays, beginning Sept. 9 Impariamo L’Italiano at Mastick Senior Center. Donatella Zepplin, Instructor. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call (510) 747-7506. 

10 A.M. - 11 A.M. Beginning Italian. 11 A.M. – 12 Noon. Intermediate Italian.  

Tuesday, Sept. 13 - 9:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. Jewelry 

Making with Rose O’Neill. Beads and tools will be supplied. Class is limited to 10 

students. Cost is $15 per person. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 747-7506. 

Saturday, Sept. 13 - 10 A.M. – 3 P.M. 34th Annual Health Fair. Allen Temple Baptist 

Church, 8501 International Blvd., Oakland. Free health screenings. (510)544-8910. 

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 14 - 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center Cultural Events class includes two Berkeley Repertory Theatre performances. $70 per person for the term does not include admission to cultural exhibits (discounted tickets are available). Minimum enrollment of 15 required. To reserve a seat, visit the Office or call (510) 747-7506. 

Thursdays, beginning Sept. 15 - 10 A.M. – 11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center Computer Basic Skills class. Nancy D’Amico, Volunteer Instructor. Sign up in advance in the Mastick Office. 

Friday, Sept. 16 - 10 A.M. – 1 P.M. 14th Annual Senior Resource Fair. Presented by San Leandro Senior Services. San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 East 14 St. (510) 577-3462. 

Saturday, Sept. 17 - 11 A.M. Landlord /Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library. 

Saturdays, Sept. 17 & 18 - 1:30 P.M. music; 2 P.M. show. SF Mime Troupe's 2010: The Musical. Willard Park, Berkeley, CA. Outdoors. Free.  

Wednesday, Sept. 21 - 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging meets in a senior center, probably North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, cor MLK. #25 AC bus stops at the NBSC. Phone to confirm location (510) 981-5190. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27 - 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. Informative presentation on “Getting the Most From Your Doctor’s Visit.” Lecture by Patient Advocate Linda Garvin, RN, MSN. Register in the Mastick Office or call (510) 747-7506. To learn more about Linda Garvin go to www.patientadvocatebayarea.com 

Tuesday, Sept 27 - 3 P.M. Tea & Cookies Book Club. Central Berkeley Public Library. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27 - 7 – 8 P.M. El Cerrito Library book discussion group. Feel free to come to one or all discussions. Let the Great World Spin. (510) 526-7512. 

Wednesday, Sept. 28 - 1:30-2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. Great Books Discussion Group. Morrison's Song of Solomon. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Parking! (510) 526-3720 x 16. 





On Mental Illness: Unfair Expectations

By Jack Bragen
Monday August 08, 2011 - 02:50:00 PM

If you are a person with mental illness who “presents well,” meaning that from looking at you and speaking to you, one couldn’t tell that there is anything “wrong” with you, people may expect too much of you. If you have a mental illness and your spouse doesn’t, it can create a headache for you when the spouse doesn’t have understanding of your disability. The same goes for parents, who might be laying guilt trips on you because you can’t seem to “make a go of it” in the work world. You could even be your own worst tormentor. You might be constantly comparing yourself to some unfair standard impossible to live up to. 

As writer of this column and freelance writer, expectations are not excessive. It doesn’t require that I work forty or even twenty hours per week to maintain this column and do some other writing on the side. I still get in arguments with my wife over the dishes. It is much harder for me to do the dishes than to write this column. The column involves no immediate pressure and the workload is minimal. A twenty hour per week job requiring leaving the house would require much more effort. I’m saying; you shouldn’t unfavorably compare yourself to the author of this column. 

I know of someone who has severe clinical depression and will not give himself a break. He works in excess of fifty hours per week; he and his spouse are berating him because he doesn’t do enough work around the house, in their perception. This person is on a treadmill of self torture. Those who have a legitimate disability such as depression, bipolar or Schizophrenia often can not handle the same workload as a non-disabled person. 

Part of the stigma of mental illness is often to blame a person for their disorder and assume that he or she is somehow less of a person; e.g.; he or she needs to be more responsible and try harder because they “let this happen,” to their self. The spouse of the mentally ill person may take on the role of being superior. It is equivalent to assuming that you are superior because you did not contract breast cancer like your cousin did. Mental illnesses are physical diseases and are not caused by a person’s moral turpitude or weak will. In fact, the mentally ill person should be considered a braver person than others because they have had to face an illness that others didn’t have to face. 

Applying unreasonable and unrealistic standards to oneself so that you can maintain the status of not being successful is a way that people remain on a treadmill of self disapproval and never give themselves credit for their accomplishments. This is at the heart of diseases like anorexia, being a workaholic, and numerous other ways in which people never give themselves a chance to relax and enjoy where they are at present. This is applicable to most Americans and not just to some of the people who have mental illness. 

Do you have a parent from whom you have repeatedly sought approval or appreciation and to whom, no matter what you do, you’re never good enough? That might be how the cycle got started. Even if such a parent is now deceased, the thought pattern that he or she has ingrained in your neural circuits lives on. (That doesn’t mean he or she is a “bad parent”—they are inadvertently passing on programming that their parents passed on to them.) 

We may be laboring under the illusion that if we slow down and appreciate where we now are, it will stop us from trying hard enough and we’ll be “dead in the water.” But how long are you willing to postpone enjoying life? And what good is all the work you’re doing if you can never enjoy the accomplishments? 

It is not fair to expect a person with mental illness to have the same levels of performance versus rest and rebuilding as someone without. A person with bipolar, depression or schizophrenic illness often needs to spend more time regaining energy after an exertion. Such a person may require self-coaching to combat the self doubt that is common for those who have had a setback. Efficiency is not going to be the same because the person is weighted down by residual symptoms of their illness and by medication which can have side-effects that detract from performance. A mentally ill person could try to compensate by ratcheting up the effort, but even the ability to create effort is not untouched by the illness and by the medication. And if the person with mental illness, in an attempt to live up to unreasonable expectations, creates effort that’s excessive, it could trigger another relapse of their condition. 

Attempting to meet an untenable standard is foolish because it sets a person up for future “failure.” Aiming a bit lower concerning how much you can handle increases the likelihood of succeeding. This is better than trying to do something that’s too difficult and then having a “crash and burn” happen. If all you can handle for now is to take medication and try to stay out of the hospital, you should be okay with that, too. 

Unfair as it may be, a person with mental illness must take things a bit slower and must get some enjoyment out of what they’re doing at present, or risk a relapse due to pushing too hard. It may require some practice to discover a level of effort that can be sustained, but it is worth doing. Persons with a mental illness should not deny themselves the self appreciation that is deserved, even if their apparent level of achievement isn’t what someone else’s seems to be.

Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: Central Works' new Reduction in Force; SF Mime Troupe: 2012:The Musical; The Visit at Solano College (Love's Labour's Lost next)

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday August 09, 2011 - 01:24:00 PM

—Central Works' new show, "an economic comedy," Reduction in Force by Patricia Milton is onstage through the 28th at The Berkeley City Club and marks the company's 30 premiere of a new play since 1997. Directed by Gary Graves, assisted by Jan Zvaifler, with Michaela Goldhaber, John Patrick Moore and Kendra Lee Oberhauser, and Gregory Scharpen's sound design, Reduction in Force tells of the Icarus Wealth Management Group hitting the rocks & casting off ballast to stay afloat—namely "the little people"—and a career secretary finds her head on the chopping block. The audience is promised it'll witness "backstabbing, ass-kissing, survival of the sneakiest ...ageism, class warfare—and romance!" Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p. m., Sundays at 5, with a talkback this Sunday, 2315 Durant. $25-$ 14 sliding scale at the door. 558-1381; centralworks.org 

* * * 

—The choice part of the SF Mime Troupe's 2012: The Musical--returning to Berkeley, Live Oak Park, for free this weekend—is the self-satire by the Troupe, which has satirized everyone else over the past 51 years. Theater BAM! is offered a bail-out corporate sponsorship by ecologically sound Green Planet Inc. if they'll produce 2012: The Musical ... only to discover Green Planet's as deep into greed and corruption as the big private interests the little company of idealists go after normally.
The scene-stealer may well be at the start, with actor-writer Michael Gene Sullivan (whose script—with additional dialogue by Ellen Callas—-sometimes sounds like a Shakespeare festival gone off the tracks) appearing as Obama in red, white and blueface, held at bay by the real powers that be ...
Pat Moran and Bruce Barthol's (best-known in Berkeley as onetime member of Country Joe & The Fish) songs, the music put across by Moran's adept trio, are another, recurring high spot. Wilma Bonet directs Lizzie Calogero, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Cory Censoprano, Siobhan Marie Doherty, Sullivan and Victor Toman (also the choreographer) with cleverness. Emilica Sun Beahm's costumes are splashy and fun.
This Saturday and Sunday, 2 p. m. (live music starts at 1:30), Live Oak Park, Shattuck at Berryman. Free.
The Mime Troupe will also perform free, 7 p. m. (music; 6:30), Thursday August 25 at the Montclair Ball Field, 6300 Moraga Avenue (off Highway 13), Oakland--and back in Berkeley again, 2 p. m. (music at 1:30) Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, at Willard/Ho Chi Minh Park, Hillegass & Derby. (415) 285-1717; sfmt.org
* * *
—For the third item here about theater and tight finances--and resourcefulness: Last week at the Harbor Plaza Park in Suisun City, Carla Spindt, for many years one of the Bay Area's finest actors, gracefully essayed the title role in Friedrich Duerrenmatt's great absurd social comedy, The Visit (originally "The Visit of the Old Lady"), showing a super-wealthy woman's return to her economically depressed hometown--not even a whistlestop anymore--with the ravening hopes of the townspeople for her generosity to bail them out ... and the price she exacts for it: revenge, which she refers to as justice.
Great to see this gem of postwar dramaturgy and dark humor, especially with Spindt's poise in the lead ... but also because the free performances were by Solano College's theater program, where Spindt teaches (and The Visit's excellent director George Maguire is head of department)—a program which, though recently severely cut back (especially in their fine training program, a specialty of Spindt's), has somehow been able to continue performing with verve for the community.
A treat to sit in a lawn chair on a summer's eve, watching the whitefaced cast--many of them students at Solano--unfold the intricacies of small town cupidity with Duerrenmatt's wryness. (These days, Duerrenmatt may be best-known for the detective story of the same name which gave birth to the Jack Nicholson vehicle, The Pledge.) Terry Rucker and John Hale, familiar to East Bay playgoers, stood out as the Mayor of Gullen and as a shopkeeper, once old flame of the town's illustrious—and vengeful—visitor.
This week, 7:30 Wednesday-Friday at Harbor Plaza Park, off Main Street, Suisun City, near Highway 12: Love's Labour's Lost, directed by Carla Spindt. Free. solano.edu

Around & About Opera: Verismo's Norma at the Hillside Club Sunday Afternoon

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday August 09, 2011 - 11:02:00 AM

Verismo Opera returns to the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar near Arch, this Sunday afternoon at 2 with Belllini's great opera Norma, featuring the Druid priestess in love with a Roman proconsul--love, war and sacrificial pyres ... 

Eliza O'Malley sings the title role, with Galina Umanskaya on piano and a chorus of 16 voices. Frederick Winthrop directs. 

The following Sunday, the 21st, Norma will play--also at 2--in Vallejo's Bay Terrace Theatre. See the story (with photos) in the Benicia Herald. 

$12-$15 (707) 864-5508; hillsideclub.org

Berkeley Arts Festival Concerts The Final Week

By Bonnie Hughes
Monday August 08, 2011 - 02:59:00 PM

Dylan Mattingly and Friends

Tuesday August 9, 8 pm 

Composer, conductor, cellist, pianist, bassist, guitarist, and singer from Berkeley. His music draws from a diverse range of styles and musicians, and he himself says that he "is influenced alike by John Coolidge Adams, Olivier Messiaen, Magnus Lindberg, Joni Mitchell, and the old American blues and folk field recordings of the Lomaxes." 


"Gravity and Grace" by Dylan Mattingly
I. Before Planetary Twirlings (Dylan Mattingly: solo piano)
II. I Used to Know Her Name (Dylan Mattingly: piano; Alex Fager and Eli Wirtschafter: violins)  


Lisa Mezzacappa's Bait & Switch + Octet 

Wednesday August 10, 8 pm 

Playing original music inspired by adventurous jazz masters like Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Eric Dolphy. The music funnels improvisational collectivity into finely honed compositions steeped in free jazz abandon, avant-Caribbean groove and garage rock attitude 

For this special Berkeley Arts Festival performance, Bait & Switch is joined by members of the band Cylinder, plus local electronics hero Tim Perkis, to form a new dream octet, featuring larger-group music by Mezzacappa and others in the band. 


Adam Tendler, piano concert 

Thursday, August 11, 8 pm 

Adam Tendler first made national headlines with America 88x50, a fiftystate tour conducted out of his Hyundai that offered free piano recitals of American music to underserved communities while functioning with no outside funding, only money saved from working construction, substitute teaching, and giving piano lessons. He’s gone on to perform internationally, direct new music nonprofit initiatives across the country, and serve as an announcer and new music liaison for NPR and Pacifica radio stations nationwide.  

The Lost Trio Collaboration Project 

Friday August 12, 8 pm 

Continuing with their 17th anniversary celebrations The Lost Trio will perform at the Berkeley Arts Festival with several of the SF Bay Area's finest musicians. 


The Lost Trio: 

Phillip Greenlief - tenor saxophone 

Dan Seamans - bass 

Tom Hassett - drums 


with special guests 

Sasha Dobson (NYC) - voice 

Darren Johnston - trumpet 

Tim Perkis - electronics 

John Schott – guitar 

Cory Wright - soprano saxophone 

Dean Santomieri 


Saturday, August 13 

IndiaCooke and Bill Crossman 

August 14, 4 pm 

The India Cooke/Bill Crossman Duo, with India on violin and Bill on piano, plays beautiful, passionate improvised music. Within each piece, the Duo weaves in elements of various world musics yet maintains an overall sound based in African-rooted musics (jazz and blues).  

Jerry Kuderna, Piano Concert and Berkeley Arts Festival Finale 

Monday, August 15, 8 pm  


BerkeleyArts Festival 

2133 University Avenue 

Berkeley, California 

BerkeleyMedhead-Artist Shows Her Stuff; It's Another Vinograd, but not Julia

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday August 10, 2011 - 02:57:00 PM
Opening night, Saturday, for Debbie Vinograd's and Tom Tuthill's art show at AutoBody Art-Space, Alameda. San Francisco artist, Chris Trian, is center (in colorful vest).
Ted Friedman
Opening night, Saturday, for Debbie Vinograd's and Tom Tuthill's art show at AutoBody Art-Space, Alameda. San Francisco artist, Chris Trian, is center (in colorful vest).
Debbie Vinograd by Bob Fischer
Debbie Vinograd by Bob Fischer

Medheads (Caffe Mediterraneum addicts) know the Vinograds, Julia, 67, and her younger sister, Debbie, 60, from a half century of shuffling past their front table at the Med. Only a few knew that Debbie was an artist, who had contributed drawings to her sister's books. 

Through a series of only-in-Berkeley Jungian connections, Debbie is emerging from the shadow of her famous sister and years of being ignored in Bay Area art circles (aren't we all). The whole string of events may have started with "pornography." 

Julia Vinograd, poet laureate of Berkeley (Planet: Wednesday June 15, 2011) and its flamboyant "bubble lady" is the Med's official poet-in-residence in a town of poets, where Julia is granted (some would say, tolerated, by owner Craig Becker) sole rights to sell her poems at the Med. 

"Poems with your pinto beans omelette, dude?" 

Julia wandered into the "Battle for People's Park," 1969, where she started blowing bubbles, taking tear gas, and recording the urban legends of the now demolished Berkeley Inn, her digs, now a vacant pit at Haste and Telegraph—home to the weird and deranged of Telegraph avenue. 

Julia still proudly wears her renowned, "weird but proud button," although she's gone through many buttons and many yellow and black berets in a half century. 

Julia, who was a student at Cal in the 60's (she studied with poets Josephine Miles and Thom Gunn), was the first Vinograd to discover the Med, but she was soon followed by Debbie and Debbie's late partner, Tom Tuthill, where they all hosted a table until Tom became ill a few years ago. 

Julia's sister Debbie is less well known, except to a small circle of artists, poets, and musicians. Vinograd stresses the "small circle,"noting that she and Tuthill were ignored by the Bay Area art community for years until Tuthill's post-card "pornography" was "discovered" by an art gallery director and art-space owner in Alameda. The porno is soft-core. 

But after Vinograd's first major opening, Saturday at Autobody, an art-space, on Alameda's famed Park Street, her work, and that of her late partner is no longer known only by just a close circle of friends. Vinograd was inspired to mount the massive show (110 works) to honor her late partner. 

Attendance at the elegant, loft-like, Alameda gallery, near an enclosed antique newsstand which has operated since 1936, was crammed to the rafters as viewers had to get close to see the work, some of which (Tuthill's) is post-card size. 

Vinograd has a B.A. in art and art history from the University of California, Irvine and Tuthill an arts degree from Orange County Community College Middletown, N.Y; Vinograd moved into a 1940's era building ('74); formerly occupied by the Berkeley Black Panthers Party and Zap Comics in what was a marginal South Berkeley neighborhood but now newly-named South of Ashby-Shattuck (So-Ass!) neighborhood near the Starry Plough. Tuthill joined her two years later. 

Vinograd early-on converted her apartment into art studios, Tuthill, producing his post-card sized collages—from books Julia scored in exchange for her poems or from Moe's—in a kitchen-pantry ("smallest little art studio in the world") and Debbie working at her easel up to eight hours daily, in her living room, producing (using tiny labored brush strokes) still lifes and portraits. 

The seamless relationship between Debbie's work and Tom's is obviously synergistic. An artist couple who lived and worked together, they were mutual influences, according to Vinograd. 

Autobody Gallery, founded by Jacqueline Cooper, 49, three years ago is an "art space," only showing occasionally, "when I respect the work of the artist," according to Cooper, who is art director for Sun Gallery, Hayward,. and co-ordinates the art and photography competition at the Alameda County Fair. 


Autobody is located at 1517 Park Street, Alameda. 


Show hours: Saturday and Sunday, 1-5p.m., or by appointment, (510) 881-6974 




Ted Friedman has written many Med stories for the Planet. This is yet another of them, a continuing nostalgia trend. 





Don't Miss This in August!

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Monday August 08, 2011 - 03:35:00 PM

Did you know that the month of August dates back to the Emperor Augustus Caesar, who ruled the Roman Empire in 27 B.C. until his death in A.D. 14? He was definitely not the sweetest guy in the world! Be that as it may, this August hopefully offers several programs of diversity and enjoyment. 

City Center Summer Sounds, 13th and Broadway Bart Station, through August 31st. (510) 628-9170. 

Outside Lands Pre-party, "Music, Creatures and Cocktails," California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. August 12 and 14. 

"Art and Soul", celebrating 11 Blockbuster Years. Live music on four stages, Downtown Oakland, August 20-21, 12 noon to 6 p.m. $10 adults; $5 seniors/youths. 

Berkeley Arts Festival, Painting exhibit, Acheson Building, 2133 University Avenue, through August 15th. 

Temescal Farmer's Market, Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, Sundays all year-round, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Woman's Will, "Summer of Love," a hippie version of "Midsummer's Night Dream", Live Oak Park, 130 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. Saturdays through August 28th. Free. 

Amoslee, with special guest, Calexico, August 17th, 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, Oakland (www.TheFoxOakland.com.) 

Jack London Square Waterfront Flicks, August 18 through September 29th. Movies begin at sundown, blankets and stadium chair recommended. 

So -- you may "pick and choose" from the above activities and enjoy!