Back from marching with Occupy Oakland's successful march to close the Port of Oakland Wednesday—where it flew an Occupy Berkeley flag made the night before—Occupy Berkeley returns to a troubled encampment. Wednesday's planning meeting ("general assembly") in MLK Civic Center Park was cancelled so that Occupy Berkeley could join its big brother in Oakland. -more-
On October 22, a determined group of activists began a two-week interfaith peace walk from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo to the Bay Area. "With the tragedy of Fukushima in our hearts," they explained, "we will walk 15-18 miles a day looking into the safety of land and people along our route, the still-present danger of nuclear weapons, the poisonous nuclear fuel cycle and how to end the nuclear nightmare in California and worldwide."
With uncanny timing, the marchers reached Oakland on November 3, just in time to join the Occupy Oakland General Strike.
Louise Dunlap, one of the walk organizers, explained the genesis of the Sacred Sites Peacewalk for a Nuclear Free Future: "The Diablo Canyon plant defiled a site sacred to the Chumash people, and native lands still bear the brunt of toxic mining and waste disposal that mark the nuclear industry." Fittingly, she noted, the march was designed to conclude at another Sacred Site, Vallejo's Sogorea Te/Glen Cove, "an Indigenous sacred site of true power" that was recently the focus of a 109-day vigil to protect it from development. -more-
Supporters of the Occupy Oakland movement and some of its detractors packed an emotional Oakland City Council meeting to discuss the city's response to the protests. -more-
Chief Howard Jordan blamed what he described as "anarchists and provocateurs" for causing a confrontation with police at a vacant building early today that resulted in more than 80 people getting arrested. -more-
Berkeley Woman Who Prompts Chinese Government to Care for Female Orphans is 2011 Purpose Prize Winner
In 1996, Berkeley resident Jenny Bowen was stunned by a New York Times photo of a starving child in a Chinese welfare institution. Within eighteen months, she had adopted a girl child from Guangzhou, once known to the Western world as Canton. After a year of loving care, the twenty-month old girl was healthy. Later, she adopted another girl. Bowen’s daughters attend Berkeley High School and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.
Flash forward two years. These experiences have led Bowen to launch an organization to transform radically the way China cares for its 800,000 orphans (a government statistic that is probably neither valid nor reliable.) The Half the Sky Foundation is among the first United States-based NGOs [Nongovernmental Organizations] to partner with the Chinese government. A pilot program was set up in two provinces: Jaingsu (Jiang Zhu) and An Hu (Anhui). Now, she is advising Beijing on investing $300 million to build three hundred model orphanages, and in the next five years Berkeley-based (715 Hearst Avenue) the Foundation will help to train all of China’s orphanage workers.
Her efforts will be recognized on December 1 when she will be one of five winners of San Francisco's Civic Ventures' Purpose Prizes.
Five $100,000 Purpose Prizes are being awarded to Americans who are making an extraordinary impact in their Encore Careers. Five social entrepreneurs over sixty years of age will each receive $100,000 for using their experience and passion to make an extraordinary impact on some of society’s biggest challenges. Now in its sixth year, the $17 million program is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life. This year, for the first time, one of the five prizes – The Purpose Prize for Intergenerational Innovation, which Bowen will receive -- will be sponsored by AARP. The $100,000 will be used, she says, for “challenge” fund-raising with the Chinese government. -more-
After a mostly peaceful day of demonstrations at Occupy Oakland's general strike, incidents Wednesday night and Thursday morning became more violent as protesters clashed with police. -more-
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-
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-
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: Occupy Oakland Joins with Workers and Community Members to Call for a November 2nd General Strike and Mass Day of Action
Oakland, CA—On Monday October 31st, at 4:00 p.m., the Occupy Oakland Strike Assembly held a press conference regarding the General Strike and Mass Day of Action planned for November 2nd. Members of the Occupation as well as community, school, and labor representatives spoke in regard to the motivations and wide-reaching potential of the strike. The press conference was held at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph, the epicenter of the 1946 Oakland General strike, the last general strike in the continental United States. -more-
On Monday night, you might have thought that the fabled Millenium had finally arrived, only 11 years or so too late. At our front door, easy walking distance from the lavish displays on Russell near College, a generous sample of all branches of the human race appeared, all beautifully dressed and with perfect manners. Really Even the shambling teenage boys who knew in their hearts that they were too old for trick or treating, the ones who had no costumes, just funny hats or masks, even those boys said thank you and smiled beatifically. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Here's a link to an excellent blog entry on last week's events in Oakland by hip-hop's Davey D, followed by some excellent comments from readers, forwarded by reader Joseph Anderson. -more-
[RUMOR UPDATE: Some callers now believe they've traced the origin of the imminent earthquake legend to a staffer in the Office of the Mayor, not an assistant to a councilmember as originally reported. The Planet was given the name of the suspect and we've asked her if it's true. She
has declined comment, saying she wants wanted to talk to her chief of staff first. If Since she doesn't didn't call back with her story, we'll just have to add her name to this story without it. here's the name we were given:
Sbeydeh Viveros-Banderas, Assistant to the Mayor, Scheduler and Constituent Services . According to the office website, she is the office manager and handles the Mayor's schedule. She also runs the Intern program and handles many constituent services.
We have been trying without success to get anyone in the Mayor's office or the city's public relations office to confirm or deny that Ms. Viveros-Banderas was the student who originally told the earthquake story in a class at San Francisco State. No one there seems to be answering the phone at the moment (about 4 on Monday). -more-
Berkeley Bowl West has three parking lots: one underground, one adjacent to the store, and one across Heinz Avenue on the old Hustead's Tow lot. The store opened 2 years ago with the first 2 lots, the third (tow yard) was purchased later and immediately relieved the burden of employee and costumer cars on our neighborhood streets. You might remember that the City of Berkeley did not require the Bowl to provide employee parking. This lot boasts over 150 spaces and is very well-used.
Fast forward to today, when the Bowl ownership wants to demolish a warehouse also on this parking site and rehab another warehouse for wholesale and retail usage. Their application is before the City currently. -more-
I felt very much at home at Occupy Oakland’s General Strike yesterday after I heard a young rapper with butt-length dreds and saggy blue jeans remind the crowd that Oakland was the birthplace of the Black Panther Party. He pumped his fist in the air and yelled “Power to the People,” then, just like the Panthers did, admonished the cheering crowd to “watch out for provocateurs.” -more-
they can take all of our houses
those of us who have houses
they can take all of our jobs
those of us who have jobs
In our local media it was reported that in the City of Arcata CA, even the Mayor was out in support of the "Occupy Wall St." protesters. This provokes me to point out that while many in Arcata support the right of these "Occupiers" to hold up their signs with any number of statements and demands, if one of them dares to include a request for donations on one of those signs, they will be in violation of that city's Anti-Panhandling Ordinance--over which, as covered on the NCJ's Blog I am currently suing the City of Arcata in State Court. If we wish to support free speech for Tea Party Members and Wall Street Occupiers alike, we need also then tolerate free speech by panhandlers. -more-
Concrete proposals are needed for the 1% to step up to the plate rather than feed at the trough, now that they have been identified (as part of the problem). -more-
The people of the Berkeley have a unique opportunity to let their voice be heard and to stand up for those who protest this unjust system. Demand that the Council modify Mutual Aid agreements to ensure that BPD is not used to stop the exercise of free speech. -more-
Press Release: NLG Calls for Police Accountability After Another Violent and Disproportionate Attack on Occupy Oakland Demonstrators
On November 3, 2011, tens of thousands of Oaklanders participated in a historic General Strike to protest economic injustice and demand accountability for last week’s police brutality. The day was full of families, young and old, and people from all backgrounds marching, rallying, and engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience. After midnight, however, National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Legal Observers witnessed the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Alameda County Sheriff Department, and other agencies acting under their direction, violently attack protesters for the second time in eight days. The NLG is now preparing legal action to enforce the court ordered Crowd Control Policy, stop the abuses and obtain redress for persons who have been unlawfully injured or arrested. -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-
When I looked at most of the plans that were put forward for redistricting Berkeley's Council districts, I was taken aback by the way the lines were drawn. I believe the most important thing to consider in redistricting is the preservation of neighborhoods (communities of interest) within Council districts. -more-
Your apparent belief that the only purpose behind the south of Bancroft renovation at BHS is to get a larger football field is incorrect. For example, the new building will house many classrooms and make room for a cozy softball field for the girls’ team. The process of the renovation was a long process with many public meetings and the input of the community. Also, despite the belief of many in our community, the obligation of BHS is to its students and not to maintain a warm pool for a relatively small group of non-students. The warm pool at BHS is gone. -more-
One hears over and over that on Tues. 10/25 the police overreacted in their attempted eviction of Oakland's nonviolent Occupy Oakland encampment. I beg to differ. It was not an "over-reaction." What occurred was a well-planned exercise orchestrated by Homeland Security, coordinating 17 police jurisdictions. -more-
They won't win this fight.
We've only begun to unite.
Grass roots and no mowers,
It's lawnless. We're growers.
There won't be a golf cart in sight. -more-
New: My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
There are no friends; only moments of friendship.—from the journals of Jules Renard (1864—1910) -more-
The preamble of the United States Declaration of Independence declares: “…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter and abolish it, and to institute new Government.” Occupy Wall Street is an assertion by 99 percent of Americans that our government denies us “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The movement should create a new Declaration of Independence.
In the eighteenth century, the momentum for the American Revolution was fueled by egregious British taxation policy. Initially, colonists were loyal to King George III and asked him to intervene with parliament on their behalf. When George instead declared them to be “in rebellion,” representatives of the original thirteen states adopted the Declaration of Independence.
Momentum for the current American Revolution, Occupy Wall Street, has been fueled by egregious fiscal policy that has worked for the benefit of the wealthiest 1 percent and to the detriment of everyone else. At the onset of Occupy Wall Street, the 99 percent remain loyal to America. They’ve asked Washington to intervene in their behalf. Some conservatives have declared them to be “in rebellion.” This sets the stage for a new Declaration of Independence. -more-
It’s a “hearing aid that cuts out all the clatter” according to the New York Times, and it’s called a hearing loop. The technology, already widely adopted in northern Europe, has been installed in stores, banks, museums, subway stations and other public spaces as well as in homes. -more-
A statistic says medication helps a third of people with schizophrenic symptoms, while a third remain ill and are not helped by medication, and the remaining third of people get well without needing medication. The exact causes of mental illnesses are still not fully understood. However, we do know it runs in families, genetics plays a large role, and the parents are not usually to blame for the illnesses of their offspring. -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-
Are Male Baby Boomers Doomed To Become Lonely Seniors?
Why are women more psychologically prepared for old age?
It’s not just the young in the Occupy Movement who fear for their futures. Many older people, who are marching with them, dread retirement, even if they hate their jobs. They fear social isolation, the loss of friends they enjoyed at work and the freedom of too much unstructured time. The good news is that women are already preparing for what is often called the "third chapter” of their lives. What’s sad is that men of the same age, for a variety of reasons, are largely unprepared and less likely to participate in activities that offer stimulation and friendship. -more-
In order to run effectively, public and independent schools worldwide rely heavily on donations and on parents, grandparents and community members’ volunteering. Because most – not all -- old people are women, I was particularly interested in interviewing a male senior citizen who is a school volunteer. So I went to http://www.bpef-online.org/volunteer.
BPEF School Volunteers director Jill Coffey responded to my solicitation of a senior interviewee. “...We have many amazing volunteers, so if you need to connect with others--from any background or involved with any school program--please contact me. We love to honor volunteers' time and commitment with an opportunity to share their experiences in a public format. It's a great way to recognize volunteers while also recruiting new ones! Thank you for that opportunity.”
Shortly, I heard from school volunteer, Richard “Dick” Colton: “Jill Coffey gave me your contact info and said you’re looking for a BSV volunteer to interview -- preferably a senior male. Well, that's me for sure, 68, though I am not yet quite willing to settle for the descriptor “elder.” Oops, my bad. “I'm just starting my 7th year volunteering in a 4th grade class at Rosa Parks School. I spend the whole day on Wednesdays. Always my best day of the week.” -more-
The content presented in the column (for this week), that follows below, consists of my opinions about a limited relapse into mental illness; I believe this to be knowledge and it arises from my personal experiences. Since I am not a doctor or mental health professional, if you need an expert opinion, you should go elsewhere. -more-
Arts & Events
Around & About Theater & Fine Art: Exhibit & Auction of Paintings of Noh Theater to Benefit Japanes Performing Arts, Earthquake-Tsunami Victims
An exhibit and silent auction of paintings depicting the extraordinary costumed and masked performers of Noh theater, the Japanese classical dance-drama tragedy, by Hideki Noh and other painters will be held at Yoshi's, San Francisco, from noon till 4 this Sunday, featuring an address by Japanese Consul-General Hiroshi Inomata, commentary on the paintings by excellent Hosho School Noh actor Masayuki Fujii, choral music by the Forest Choir--including Ainu folksongs (the aboriginal people of Japan) and Buddhist sutras, and a Kyogen comedy--the complement to Noh tragedy, resembling Chaucer's tales in stylized movement--by Theatre of Yugen. Proceeds will go to the promotion of classical Japanese performing arts in America and to the Japanese Red Cross for earthquake and tsunami victims. -more-
The San Francisco Guitar Quartet--Mark Simons, David Duenas, Patrick O'Connell and John Mendle--will play Telemann's Concerto for Four Guitars, two mazurkas by Karol Szymanowski, Suite of Six Trios by Phillip Houghton, At the Sound by John Lennon andother contemporary pieces, 8 p. m. Tuesday, November 8 at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, followed by a wine and cheese reception to meet the artists. &12.50-$25. 525-5211 (Berkeley Chamber Concerts); 878-7800 (City Club parking & dining); berkeleychamberconcerts.org -more-
Embassy, Central Works at the City Club; The Rep: How to Write a New Book for the Bible; Actors Ensemble: Doubt; Cal Performances presents John Malkovich in The Infernal Comedy and Toni Morrison's Desdemona;ACT stages Mamet's Race; Ragged Wing Ensemble's triumphant Inanna's Descent. -more-
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-
About 20 years ago, I was walking with my girlfriend down 2nd Avenue in NYC. I looked up and saw “Final Preview Tonight --Mamet’s OLEANNA.” They had two tickets left. It was about a college professor opening up to his working class student in private, mandated lectures with an undercurrent of intimacy and her cataclysmic reaction. William Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon on a spare set with her husband’s inflammatory words. At the end of the play, couples were shrieking at one another in the lobby and into the street. -more-