Mid-afternoon today the renamed "Oscar Grant Plaza" in front of Oakland City Hall demonstrated the remarkable variety of Occupy Oakland supporters who responded to the call for a general strike. Everyone from librarians to geeks to hiphoppers seemed to have shown up (and some who might have filled all three categories.) There, then, everything was remarkably peaceful--and few police were to be seen. Plans for this evening called for a march on the Port of Oakland. -more-
Whole Foods in Oakland is shutting down for the day after windows were smashed and paint was thrown on the storefront during protests related to the Occupy Oakland's general strike today, a Whole Foods spokeswoman said. -more-
Hundreds of parents, students and teachers are participating in the general strike in Oakland today. -more-
One Wells Fargo branch has been shut down because of the general strike in Oakland today. -more-
Protesters have begun to gather in downtown Oakland this morning as the general strike organized by Occupy Oakland gets under way. As of 9:30 a.m., protesters had filled the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway, and cars could not get through. The manager of a Rite Aid at that intersection said the store's doors were shut because of the protest but that the store would reopen later today. -more-
When the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 was signed, the country's financial giants knew it posed a threat to a host of "transaction fees" that helped banks and credit card companies rack up $16 billion in profits in 2010. (By some estimates, the reform legislation was expected to cut "fee revenue" by $8 billion.) But the Big Banks and Card Companies had already prepared an elaborate response that included the introduction of new fees and the creation of a front group designed to sabotage the law — by pretending to spearhead a consumer friendly "reform campaign" involving a popular Internet activism site. -more-
On Friday, October 28th, at the national Greek aniversary of OXI [that is, NO], taking its name from the answer given to the Italian Ambassador carryng Mussolini's demand that the borders of Greece should open to the Italian army in 28.10.1940, which marked the entrance of Greece to the 2nd WW, all over Greece the official parades were taken over by the people, who chased away the representatives of the government and paraded themselves in most cities. -more-
Police tear-gassing crowds. Reports of protestors throwing bottles at cops. A local arm of a widespread movement garnering national attention. These aren’t new to the Bay Area, but back in the 1960’s it was Berkeley, not Oakland, where the action was.
Occupy Oakland (and to a lesser extent Occupy San Francisco) have dominated the news this week, but Occupy Berkeley, which began October 8, has yet to make waves. City officials reportedly have said they have no immediate plans to break up the protest on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, or the small campsite down the street at MLK Jr. Civic Center Park. With a crowd of around 30 people each night for its general assemblies, the movement is dwarfed by the thousands who gather at Occupy Oakland. In fact, when Berkeley students and protestors at other Occupy movements are asked about it, the response is generally ignorance -- “There’s an Occupy Berkeley?” -more-
Hundreds of teachers will be among thousands expected to participate in the general strike organized by Occupy Oakland on Wednesday.
Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint said teachers are being allowed to join the general strike as long as they provide prior notice to their supervisors so that proper supervision can be arranged for students.
"We support many of the ideals contained in the Occupy Oakland movement," Flint said. "We believe public education, and other social services are underfunded. It's impacting kids and families in a negative way." -more-
Press Release: Labor Unions and Members to Join Occupy Oakland Day of Action; Labor to sponsor actions throughout the day, cook-out for all at City Hall
On Wednesday, November 2nd, Alameda County labor unions and members will be joining the Day of Action called by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly. Union members and the rest of the 99% will be participating in a massive city-wide mobilization to speak out in support of good jobs, protection from foreclosure and predatory banking practices, funding for quality public education and services, and a system where everyone, including the top 1% and the corporations, pays their fair share. -more-
Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available. -more-
Here's a video exhortation to join tomorrow's Occupy Oakland action. -more-
First, let me state that no one from Occupy Berkeley “represents” us, part of a worldwide, leaderless protest which seems to befuddle many. We are united in refusing to issue demands from the movement. -more-
The UN body for education, science and culture, UNESCO, backed the Palestinian request for membership. In the going, according to the Financial Times, "107 member countries voted for the Palestinians, rejecting US and Israel pressure. Only 14 countries voted against membership, while 52 abstained. France voted in favor, Germany voted against while Britain decided to abstain, China, India, Russia, and Brazil also backed the Palestinians while Canada sided with the US and Israel.” -more-
While no one’s paying much attention, a substantial part of the last remaining open space in flatlands Berkeley is being reconfigured by the Berkeley Unified School District in collusion with bureaucrats working for the City of Berkeley. There has been almost no meaningful public discussion either of the goals of planned lavish and well-funded building projects or of the schedule for carrying them out. -more-
President Obama announced that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year. Was the “mission accomplished?” Did we win the war? -more-
Brace yourselves, birders: here comes the sixth edition of the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. I haven’t laid hands on a copy myself, but advance word has it that the new version is 71 pages longer than the fifth edition, with 23 additional species accounts (mostly extralimital vagrants) and 300 new illustrations. Oh yes, and range maps for subspecies. That’s going to cause a lot of trouble.
At $27.95, most likely I’ll buy it when it hits the stores. I’ll probably also buy the rumored revision of David Sibley’s canonical bird guide; no details on that one yet. But I will do so with lowered expectations.
The thing about field guides is that they offer a handle on the natural world. They tell you that you can, after all, tell a hawk from a handsaw. The field marks, the behavioral cues, the breeding and wintering ranges and migration routes: they’re all in the book. All you have to do is pay attention. -more-
My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
Even at their darkest, Shakespeare’s history plays have the built-in promise of a better future, of an ever more civilized England.
The Greek classics, on the other hand, have no such complacency. Among their incontrovertible principles are the beliefs that the human race was born to suffer and to inflict suffering; that empires rise only to fall; that self-knowledge, if it ever arrives, comes too late.
— Ben Brantley, drama critic (2004, from his NY Times review of a new production of a tragedy by Euripides) -more-
Arts & Events
We’ve all been there.
The concert ends, the applause begins. A well-dressed woman up front (the chair of the board?) stands up. The other board members see her standing, and they stand up too.
Other audience members see people in front standing up, and they begin to stand as well. The conductor or soloist bows to the audience and exits stage right. By the time she returns, most of the audience is standing.
This is all wrong.
It misses the point.
A standing-ovation performance is one in which you are so excited at the end that the only possible action is to leap to your feet. If you have to think about it, forget it. The performance doesn’t deserve a standing ovation.
Bay Area audiences are way too ready to rise to their feet at the end of a performance. I have, on occasion, given in to the crowd and joined in when everyone around me has risen to his or her feet, but I do so grudgingly, and if I saw nothing exceptional about the performance, I will remain seated.
Last Thursday, when Johannes Moser performed the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Berkeley Symphony, I didn’t have to think about it. Like most of the audience, I jumped to my feet before the last hair on his bow had snapped. Moser grabbed that concerto by the throat at the very beginning and never let go until he was finished. -more-
Last week's opening concert for the Berkeley Symphony's new season--and Joana Carneiro's third season as music director here--saw two contemporary pieces premiere, one played by the composer in memory of Harry Weininger (Gabriela Lena Frank's Vendaval), the other with the composer present (Enrico Chapela's Li Po, for orchestra and electronic soundtrack, after Jose Juan Tablada's modernist poem about the 8th century Chinese poet), as well as extraordinary renditions of Brahms' Third Symphony, occasioning great ovations from the audience, and virtuoso cellist Johannes Moser featured as soloist in Shostakovich's First Cello Concerto, which was met with shouts and a prolonged standing ovation, as well as a Bach piece as encore by the energetic and genial Moser. -more-