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Will The Real Occupy Berkeley Please Stand Up? (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Friday November 11, 2011 - 02:13:00 PM

As Occupy Oakland vies with Occupy Manhattan for world-attention, and Occupy Cal revives memories of the sixties' Free Speech Movement (40 arrests in two days), Occupy Berkeley is struggling to find its voice amid a vast national movement of same-sayers. 

Will the real Occupy Berkeley please stand up? 

After more than a month, the still fledgling Occupy Berkeley movement is positioned to carry the banner of the City of Berkeley into the battle against money-sucking corporations. 

With nary an arrest, and the support of the City of Berkeley and its police, Occupy Berkeley may be starting to see its strength--longevity and community activism. 

Discussion at Thursday's planning meeting--the ideological core of OB--focused on whether to merge with Cal or stick to its own principals. As some dedicated participants in the small meeting (20) are realizing, OB speaks for Berkeley while OC speaks for university students. 

While some OBers note that Cal is a big chunk of Berkeley and entitled to its fair share of representation, others say the students' issues are narrow--especially tuition complaints. Some see OC as an upstart. "It's too early to judge them; they just started," said a Thursday member of the general assembly.  

The divide--if it is a divide--is currently a hot topic on the Occupy Berkeley Google Groups discussion forum as it was at Thursday's planning meeting. The competition from a nearby occupy movement (Cal), which has not yet acknowledged OB as comrades-in-arms, may be facilitating OB to define itself. 

Occupy Berkeley is presently a homeless encampment . Berkeley and Oakland homeless citizens pitched their tents in October when it became apparent that OB had succeeded in encamping despite a city directive against overnight camping. 

Although initially there were tensions between the homeless encampment and the occupiers, those tensions have eased as homeless citizens have voluntarily worked in occupies' interests--and their own. 

A key person from the homeless encampment has pitched his commodious tent with Occupy and has emerged as a key security resource, who recently rid the encampment of troublesome drug users, who had encamped at the South east corner of Civic Center Park near a Berkeley High School lawn lunch-spot. 

According to the unsung hero, the departure will keep police Chief Michael K. Meehan, his lieutenant, and Mayor Tom Bates from stumbling over syringes as they make their regular goodwill tours of the park. 

Camp security, which has its own reports at general assemblies, although untrained and mostly un-appointed, has done enough of a good job that Chief Meehan told me Tuesday at City Council, he regards the encampment, "an effective protest." 

Emerging late Tuesday from city council, OB's neighbor, I walked into the middle of a camp security "intervention", enforced by OBers encamped that night, and homeless campers. The fracas involved an alleged sex-offense, a tempest in a tent, in the OB tent encampment, but involving homeless citizens of Oakland. 

Another unsung hero from the homeless encampment forcefully escorted the alleged perp from the camp. When the accused returned, he was finally yelled out of the park by Raven, self-appointed head of camp security. 

Ersatz or not, it worked. It's all good at camp OB. For now.  

City manager Phil Kalmarz told me Tuesday he plans no actions against the camp, and that from the city manager's point of view "things are going well in the city's maintenance of the park." Asked whether his hands-off policy could burden his interim successor (Kalmarz leaves office Nov. 25th), Kalmarz replied, "I'm against burdens." 

City Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Max Anderson, and Jesse Arreguín succeeded in a "baby step" towards council endorsement of OB with the passage Tuesday of a council approval of a Cal Faculty endorsement of the national anti-Wall Street movement. 

With all this support from the City of Berkeley, the ball is now in OB's court. 

In fact, OB is feeding and supporting a tent city of homelessness sandwiched between old and new City Hall. Sometimes the favor is returned, as when the homeless cooked up a meal and delivered it to the general assembly last week, or when homeless citizens participate in GA. 

Occupy Cal, which is in conflict with its university's encampment policies, and having its tents regularly confiscated, is unable to provide community services. Some OBers have suggested the city reimburse them for their social service activities. 

Another faction within the GA recommends aligning with as yet unformed "regional spokescouncils," and "affinity groups" which might stage large regional actions. But, according to another participant, an "inter-communications working group" has "dissolved" like other working groups, which have either languished or are re-forming. 

A discussed action to "shut down Chase" downtown has been postponed until next week, while issues involving a co-operative downtown action with Cal can be resolved. 

The Chase action, which is now being vetted for effectiveness by the GA, may have grown out of the charge from a camp key-person (there are no leaders) that OB was "wimpy and ball-less." Some of the big balls have been caught up in the hormonal upsurge at Cal and may not return to allegedly "ball-less" occupy. 

Hormones or homeless? Stay tuned as Berkeley's indigenous Occupy community writes a new chapter in Berkeley's history of political activism. 


Ted Friedman is now known at Occupy as "Uncle Ted," (see Ted's "Occupy Yourself" commentary in Planet and Thomas Lord's, "About Ted's Position").  

UC Berkeley Police Defend Response to "Occupy Cal" Protests

By Bay City News
Friday November 11, 2011 - 12:29:00 PM

University of California at Berkeley police on Thursday defended their actions during demonstrations on campus the day before when the newly formed "Occupy Cal" movement drew thousands of people and resulted in dozens of arrests. 

The protest became violent Wednesday night when police arrived to dissemble the makeshift encampment. 

Police arrested 39 people Wednesday, including 32 students and a UC Berkeley English professor. An additional protester, who is not a student, was arrested Thursday morning for attempting to prevent an officer from removing a tent he had put up earlier that morning, UC Berkeley police Capt. Margo Bennett said. 

Protesters were warned before Wednesday's unrest through an email Monday from UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau that said camping on campus property and occupying buildings would not be tolerated. 

Bennett said, "Our charge was to make sure there were no tents. In the course of moving those tents we met resistance ... some people resisted us more than others. 

She said, "The goal was not to arrest people, the goal was to bring down the tents," Bennett said. 

Officials said that all of those arrested were charged with willfully obstructing, interfering, or delaying police action, and all but one were cited with failure to leave an unlawful assembly. Two of those arrested were charged with battery on a police officer. 

Bennett said that police would take no further action as long as there were no tents. 

"That's the deal. They have the right to come talk and speak as much as they want but they cannot camp," she said. 

When asked about videos circulating of what protesters allege was excessive force in Wednesday's raid, Bennett said, "We're going to review it" to see if it was appropriate or if there are areas to be improved on. 

Since the arrests, the occupation has stayed fairly peaceful. The group met Thursday night at a General Assembly where group decisions are made through a vote. 

Protesters have called for a student strike on the UC Berkeley campus for Tuesday, and are planning protests to coincide with the UC Regents meeting at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus on Nov. 16 and 17 to protest proposed tuition and fee hikes, and to more generally protest cuts to public education throughout California.

Veteran's Day In Berkeley: Did You Notice?

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 11, 2011 - 08:49:00 AM
One Berkeley World War I memorial stands along University Avenue next to a battered flagpole at West Campus.  It was placed in “Remembrance of the boys of the Burbank School who gave their lives for humanity during the Great War.”   Seven names are listed.
Steven Finacom
One Berkeley World War I memorial stands along University Avenue next to a battered flagpole at West Campus. It was placed in “Remembrance of the boys of the Burbank School who gave their lives for humanity during the Great War.” Seven names are listed.
A 1939 plaque on a chipped base and memorial giant sequoia at the Berkeley Rose Garden near the tennis courts honor a commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Steven Finacom
A 1939 plaque on a chipped base and memorial giant sequoia at the Berkeley Rose Garden near the tennis courts honor a commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The oldest veterans memorial on the UC Berkeley campus is the Mitchell monument, honoring a 19th century Congressional Medal of Honor winner who later served as the campus armorer, maintaining weapons for the University’s Cadet Corps.
Steven Finacom
The oldest veterans memorial on the UC Berkeley campus is the Mitchell monument, honoring a 19th century Congressional Medal of Honor winner who later served as the campus armorer, maintaining weapons for the University’s Cadet Corps.

Friday, November 11, 2011 was a work or school holiday for many in Berkeley, including this writer. But it’s probably safe to say that very few people in Berkeley commemorated the date either for the original reason it was established, or for its later, broadened, purpose. 

Now it’s called “Veteran’s Day”, an occasion for generic recognition of servicemen and women. Before that, it had a more specific meaning. 

Combat on the Western Front in World War I—then called the “Great War”—ended with a negotiated armistice on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” or November 11, 1918. The day was designated by most of the Allied powers as a permanent memorial occasion, called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. 

Like many cities, Berkeley once commemorated Armistice Day with ceremonies and parades. There were solemn flag raisings, cannon or rifle salutes boomed in Downtown, and veterans and various other contingents marched along Shattuck. In the 1920s and 30s hundreds of locals would regularly participate in what was called the “Service on the Waters”. A chartered ferryboat took them out on the Bay where they dropped wreaths and flowers in a ceremony designed to remember airmen and seamen killed in service. 

Local events often centered on Berkeley’s Veterans Memorial Building, completed in 1928, and sited prominently on one side of what was then only a proposed civic center park site. The building housed offices and meeting spaces for Berkeley’s numerous veterans groups. The large auditorium was, for decades, one of the most heavily used facilities in Berkeley, ensuring for generations that locals would be familiar with the memorial. 

Berkeley veterans included organized groups of Union Army (Grand Army of the Republic) Civil War veterans, Spanish-American War veterans, World War I veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The GAR men had pride of place, and some were alive in Berkeley well into the 1930s, more than seven decades after the end of the Civil War. Berkeley even hosted, in the 1930s, two “encampments” of GAR men and their families and supporters. 

There were also many local affiliate or “auxiliary” groups, including women’s organizations representing spouses, mothers, and/or daughters of servicemen. Some worked hard to remember and honor veterans. Others, from the newspaper accounts I’ve read, seemed to have devolved into primarily social clubs or organizations from which the living could derive prestige from association with the dead. 

Berkeley also had many war or veteran memorials from different eras from a Spanish-American war cannon that once stood Downtown to California Memorial Stadium. Last year I identified eleven memorials on the UC Berkeley campus alone, which a UC Media Relations staffer organized into an on-line slideshow that can be seen here. 

Off-campus, Berkeley also once had numerous veterans’ monuments. The largest of course is the Veterans Memorial building itself, but there were also many plaques, memorial trees, and other smaller monuments donated and dedicated over the decades. My guess would be that there were at least a dozen veterans and war memorials dedicated off campus in Berkeley, and most likely many more. 

As far as I know there is no comprehensive list of these, and many have fallen into disrepair or even been obliterated. Most are on public property but I’m not sure that anyone in local agencies off the UC campus pays much attention. 

If you go to City Council meetings you’ll pass several largely unnoticed veteran’s monuments. In the lobby of old City Hall, for example, there’s a 1940 stone bench honoring GAR veterans. Outside the building are several trees and monuments at the northwest corner of MLK, Jr. Way and Allston Way. They were put there as prominent memorials, but now attract little attention. There are plaques in place honoring tree plantings that no longer seem to exist, and other trees that have no plaques, but appear to be memorial plantings, as well as unidentified memorial fragments. 

I’ve come across mentions of many of these monuments in old newspaper articles and other accounts, and by happenstance. John Aronovici at the Berkeley Historical Society has done good work unearthing local veteran’s monuments and memorabilia. 

This year alone I noticed two monuments I’d never seen before. At the Berkeley Rose Garden there are two towering giant sequoias just east of the tennis courts, apparently planted as a Civil War memorial; sadly, one of them had its roots partially chopped up by a repaving project. And on University Avenue, outside the largely vacant old West Campus, there’s a curbside monument to former students of Burbank Junior High School who served and died in World War I. 

The most recent off-campus veteran’s memorial in Berkeley is a plaque to local servicemen who died in Vietnam. Country Joe McDonald wrote a description of the project to create the Berkeley Vietnam veteran’s memorial in the 1880s and 90s, here. 

Some years ago I participated in an ad hoc committee that worked to revive a local Veteran’s Day event in Berkeley. A few were held, but then the activity died out again. During that process I realized that, as with most historical issues and causes, people are primarily interested in those anniversaries with which they have a personal connection (a side prediction; a half century from now, almost no Americans will be participating in, or paying much attention to, “9-11” commemorations). 

The veterans on the Berkeley committee were largely Vietnam era servicemen. They were very respectful of those from earlier conflicts, but their identification and enthusiasm was largely focused on connecting with veterans and issues from their own war. That’s quite understandable. 

I also understand that many locals have a justifiable distaste for the overly political “patriotism” that can overlie activities honoring veterans and provide cover for hard right ideologues to promote their destructive agendas. 

As many others have pointed out, during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts “supporting our troops” has all-too-often become the self-contradictory mantra of those who are most enthusiastic about putting those same troops indefinitely in harm’s way in conflicts with murky motives, justifications, and outcomes. 

Yet it should be possible, particularly in cities like Berkeley, to honor servicemen and women for their personal risk and commitment and at the same time avoid jingoism. But that can only come about if people view memorial commemorations as something worth doing even if they weren’t personally involved. 

As Vietnam veterans age and pass away, veterans commemorations will largely center on Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan veterans around the country, and it will be generally left up to “someone else” to remember earlier conflicts and veterans. 

Who that will be in Berkeley, I don’t know. But take a moment during Armistice Day / Veteran’s Day to remember. 

Steven Finacom is the current president of the Berkeley Historical Society. He wrote about Berkeley’s connections to the Civil War in the April 12, 1911, Planet.

Fatal Shooting Near Occupy Oakland Apparently Unconnected

By Bay City News
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 09:15:00 PM

A man in his early 20s was fatally shot near the "Occupy Oakland" encampment in downtown Oakland this evening, a police spokeswoman said. 

Officers responded at 4:57 p.m. to the shooting at 14th Street and Broadway, directly in front of the protesters' encampment, although at this time there is no apparent connection between the shooting and the demonstration, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said. 

"At this time it does not appear to be related," Watson said, but added that the shooting is still under investigation. 

Watson said no suspects are in custody and the victim had not been identified as of 7:30 p.m. 

Nyake Tarmoh, 31, a protester with the Occupy Oakland movement, said he witnessed the shooting while standing in line at the camp's food tent. Tarmoh said he saw six suspicious-looking males, between the ages of 15 and 22, walking around the camp and they appeared to be looking for someone. 

The suspects spotted the victim standing near portable toilets and they ran over, punched him and beat him while he was on the ground, according to Tarmoh. 

Tarmoh said the suspects became aware of the fact that some Occupy Oakland members were watching and stopped.  

The victim got up and was running away from the suspects when one male with dreadlocks and a black hooded sweatshirt pulled out a gun and shot him in the head, according to Tarmoh.  

Tarmoh said he saw two of the suspect run into a BART station, while the shooter ran down Broadway. 

He said camp medics rushed to give the victim first-aid before an ambulance arrived and took him to a hospital. 

Tarmoh also stressed that the shooting was not related to the encampment. "They are not part of the Oakland movement," he said. 

Occupy Oakland members had been planning to hold a party tonight to celebrate its one-month anniversary but have decided to cancel the festivities out of respect for the victim, protesters said. 

Barucha Peller, who is part of the Occupy Oakland encampment, said the shooting happened next to the camp, not in it. 

"The only direct Occupy Oakland involvement was in order to provide emergency first-aid services," she said.  

Motorist Drew Sowyrda was driving west on Telegraph Avenue on his way to the gym when, as he was passing 27th Street, he saw "cop cars driving faster than I've ever seen through the traffic." 

"Right at the junction of Broadway and Telegraph they stopped a white car and pulled out the driver at gunpoint," Sowyrda said. 

He said the male driver was handcuffed and put into a police car, and he overheard police explaining to two female passengers in the car that there had been a shooting. 

He said they began to block off Broadway at that point.  

BART spokesman Jim Allison said the 12th Street station in Oakland was temporarily closed this evening as police searched two trains for possible suspects. 

Some people ran into the station after the shooting and it was initially believed that they were suspects, Allison said. 

However, officials have since determined that those people were "probably just frightened" and wanted to get away, he said. 

The station reopened at around 5:25 p.m. 

Several city officials showed up at the scene after the shooting, including Police Chief Howard Jordan and City Council President Larry Reid, who was among council members who held a news conference Wednesday saying the encampment must go.  

After learning that Occupy Oakland medics had helped the person who was shot tonight, Reid said, "I appreciate their efforts to help save the life of the victim in this situation." 

Although many at the scene insist the shooting wasn't related to the encampment, Reid said it should be part of the larger conversation about the camp.  

"I think it puts us in a position of having to look at this problem in a more comprehensive manner," he said, saying that there were knife fights on 14th Street earlier this week.  

Early this afternoon, Mayor Jean Quan said that a plan to remove the encampment "has to be done thoughtfully" and "has to take time." 

Quan said she wants to "continue dialogue" with protesters who have been in Frank Ogawa Plaza for a month before the city takes any action. 

Chief Jordan told reporters earlier today that, "I'm not at liberty to announce if and when we'll take any action" to remove protesters from the plaza. 

City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who is one of the members urging the immediate removal of the encampment, said, "We're waiting for the mayor and her administration to deal with the situation but it gets worse and worse every day." 

De La Fuente said he thinks the longer the protesters are allowed to stay at the plaza the harder it will be to remove them. 

"More and more people are camping out in the plaza, not less," he said. 

Earlier today, the mayor's office released a statement saying that three to five electrical breakers had been tripped on Monday on 14th Street and the interior plaza bench areas. 

City officials said staff has not been able to check the light poles to see what tripped the breakers so they have not been reset. 

Tonight, the lights were still out and a number of protesters at the crime scene were angrily yelling, "Turn the lights on," saying that the darkness leads to more crime.  

Others lit candles all around the scene of the shooting, and one man sat cross-legged and meditating near the police tape.

Updated: Thirty-Nine Protesters Arrested Yesterday at UC Berkeley--Meeting at 6pm Today

By Scott Harris (BCN)
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 04:52:00 PM

Protesters in the burgeoning "Occupy Cal" movement at the University of California at Berkeley are continuing to congregate outside Sproul Hall on campus today after demonstrations on Wednesday drew thousands and resulted in dozens of arrests. 

As of 3:30 p.m. today, demonstrators remained on Sproul Plaza continuing to occupy the space and waiting for today's General Assembly meeting at 6 p.m., though no tents were pitched on the lawn outside of the administration building.  

Two UC Berkeley police officers were standing guard in the area where protesters tried to set up tents Wednesday, said Ramon Quintero, who was arrested during Wednesday's demonstrations. 

Quintero was one of 39 protesters arrested throughout the day Wednesday, in demonstrations that lasted well into the night. Quintero was arrested during initial confrontations between police and protesters during the afternoon, when police used clubs to break through lines of protesters who linked arms to protect several tents pitched on the lawn. 

Quintero said he moved to stand in front of the police because he saw a young girl he knew and was worried she would be hurt as police in riot gear moved in. 

He said he was worried she would not be prepared for the police response. "I've been here for three years and I know the UCPD are more violent than any police department I've seen in action," Quintero said. 

Quintero said he is currently a research fellow at the university, and received a degree from UC Berkeley in geography and ethnic studies in 2010. He said that the confrontation with police left him bruised and sore today, and that when police attempted to arrest him they tore his clothes off and ripped his hair. He said that he spent hours in a small holding jail used by the UC Berkeley police, and was released at about 2:30 a.m. today. 

He views the confrontations as an attempt to stifle free speech on campus. "Of course that has to be challenged, because we can't let people in power define what free speech is," Quintero said. 

Quintero said a total of six were arrested in his group, identified by UC Berkeley police as students Sonja Diaz, Zahinde Atli, Timothy Fisken, Zakary Habash, and one faculty member, English professor Celeste Langan. 

Throughout the night, 33 more were arrested as protesters continued pitching tents in the plaza, and police moved in to tear them down. Of the 39 arrested, 32 were students at the university, and six had no affiliation with the campus. 

Officials said that all of those arrested were charged with willfully obstructing, interfering, or delaying of police action, and all but one were cited with failure to leave an unlawful assembly. Two of those arrested were charged with battery on a police officer. 

Demonstrations started with picketing and "teach-outs" in the morning, followed by a rally and brief march at noon, and a general assembly meeting at 1:30 p.m., when protesters voted overwhelmingly to establish an encampment. Protesters were warned by an email from UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on Monday that camping on campus property and occupying buildings would not be tolerated. 

At one point during the confrontations, Harry le Grande, vice chancellor of student affairs, addressed the crowd and told protesters they could gather in Sproul Plaza 24 hours a day for the week, but no tents, sleeping bags, or sleeping would be permitted. 

After a vote, protesters rejected the proposal, and continued attempting to establish a camp that police would later move in to tear down. 

A handful of protesters were still in the plaza early this morning, guarding a lone tent that still remained on the steps of Sproul Hall. Protesters have vowed to gather throughout the day, and to hold a general assembly meeting tonight at 6 p.m. 

Protesters have also called for a student strike on the UC Berkeley campus for Tuesday, and are planning protests to coincide with the UC Regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay on Nov. 16 and 17 to protest proposed tuition and fee hikes, and to more generally protest cuts to public education throughout California.

Press Release: City of Berkeley Police did not Participate in Campus Actions re Occupy Cal

From Sgt. Mary C. Kusmiss,BPD Public Information Officer
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 10:45:00 AM

We are writing this as we have received inquiries, calls and emails and wanted to offer accurate information to those who have questions or inquired.

There has been some widespread confusion as to the law enforcement entities that were involved in the Occupy Cal events of last evening. Members of the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) were not part of any mutual aid or assistance last evening/night. We have received calls and emails about our presence there. Out of respect and policy, we defer to UCPD to speak to their jurisdiction, activities and what assistance they sought.

City of Berkeley Police department (BPD) did manage the protest/demonstration during a part of the afternoon of November 9, 2011 when the group of several hundred marched onto City of Berkeley streets which are our jurisdiction. Groups have often done this when protesting or demonstrating in the past. BPD had bike officers, motor officers, parking enforcement officers and patrol officers to maintain community safety, the safety of participants, officer safety and to monitor the group for any unlawful activity. There was much verbal energy but no arrests were made. It went fairly smoothly. BPD managed the march until the group returned to UC campus.

UC Berkeley Police Remove Tents, Protest Continues

By Erika Heidecker (BCN)
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:46:00 PM

Police have dismantled an encampment at the University of California at Berkeley tonight and protesters continue to hold their ground. 

Officers in riot gear forced their way through a crowd of demonstrators who were chanting "peaceful protest" and "Who's university? Our university" at around 9:30 p.m.  

Protesters said more people were arrested tonight in the second confrontation with police. 

Earlier today, at around 3:40 p.m., dozens of police pushed their way through a human chain using their batons and began taking the tents down, leading to scuffles between police and protesters.  

Six people had been arrested as of 7 p.m. and protesters were reporting that some demonstrators were injured during the police raid. 

Shortly before 4 p.m., police withdrew and the protesters quickly reestablished an encampment. 

University officials told the protesters they could use the site as a gathering spot for the week but could not camp out. 

Protesters tonight continue to face off with police who are standing in front of Sproul Hall.

Flash: Video of UC Berkeley Police Beating Up "Occupy" Students

By Miles Matthews
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:02:00 PM


Scenes from a Protest

By Ted Friedman
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 12:55:00 AM
Tents, to right of Sproul Hall entrance in Sproul Plaza, U.C., are what's left of a larger encampment which was raided earlier today. The tents and the banners on Spruoul Hall, to right, are in violation of UCB restrictions, according to a UCPD spokesman. Later there was a clash with police.
Ted Friedman
Tents, to right of Sproul Hall entrance in Sproul Plaza, U.C., are what's left of a larger encampment which was raided earlier today. The tents and the banners on Spruoul Hall, to right, are in violation of UCB restrictions, according to a UCPD spokesman. Later there was a clash with police.
Portion of a larger group (more than 500) before police clashed with a converging crowd
Ted Friedman
Portion of a larger group (more than 500) before police clashed with a converging crowd
Sproul Plaza earlier Wednesday. Crowd of more than 1,000 in distance. Expect confrontations over tents and banners as evening becomes morning
Ted Friedman
Sproul Plaza earlier Wednesday. Crowd of more than 1,000 in distance. Expect confrontations over tents and banners as evening becomes morning

“Occupy” Protests Come to UC Berkeley Campus

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:21:00 PM

A day designated to “Occupy Cal” included dawn to dusk protest activities on the UC Berkeley campus on Wednesday, including outdoor classes, a large noontime rally, a slightly smaller but still vigorous march to the Telegraph Avenue Bank of America, debate and establishment of a small tent occupation on campus, and a mid-afternoon confrontation with UC Police which resulted in removal of some of the tents and a few arrests.

As dusk fell and a full moon rose over the Berkeley Hills, three news helicopters thrummed above Sproul Plaza and hundreds milled about two tents set up after the afternoon occupation.

Most of the protest occurred quite close to my campus office so I was able to take a late lunch to watch part of the rally and march. Later, when shouting arose I stepped outside for a short mid-afternoon break to watch the tent confrontation, then returned after work to see what remained.

Two photo essays will be posted here, a combination of my pictures and other contributed pictures. The first essay traces the events of the day in roughly chronological sequence. The second shows the wide variety of protest signs that were hoisted during the demonstrations. 

My rough estimate was that the lunch hour Sproul Plaza crowd numbered over a thousand active participants, and perhaps as many curious and interested spectators. The short Southside march included hundreds, and perhaps three or four hundred reassembled on campus and were involved when the tent confrontation occurred. Evening saw several hundred participants and curious passersby in Sproul Plaza and on the Mario Savio Steps. 

The Telegraph marchers left the campus at Bancroft and Telegraph, moved down one block to Durant while Berkeley Police motorcycle officers stopped north and eastbound traffic, chanted in front of the entrances to the Bank of America branch, then turned eastbound up Durant before returning to the campus. 

Protest and rally activities then centered in the Sproul Plaza area, particularly around the northwest corner of Sproul Hall. 

Good event-by-event coverage of the protests can be found on the Daily Californian website and live blog, especially the on-going evening events as UC administrators met with the students. Go to http://www.dailycal.org/ for the most recent stories and for the live blog see http://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/09/live-blog-day-of-action-2/ 

The protestors are following some of the protocols of the rest of the “Occupy Movement” including no formal leaders, “General Assemblies” where speakers are heard and mass votes are taken, and crowd members repeating the sentences of speakers so what’s said can carry to the edges of the audience. Calls of “Mic Check!” are shouted out when someone is about to speak. 

The protestors voted to endorse two proposals at the afternoon General Assembly. They’re posted on Daily Cal website here

The UC Berkeley official NewsCenter also posted an on-going blog with updates on activities, which can be found here

See the sidebar of that blog for links to official statements by Chancellor Birgeneau and other campus leaders, and “messages” from the Graduate Assembly and the ASUC. 




Chronology of a Protest

By Steven Finacom
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 12:16:00 AM
In an especially Berkeley scene, UC Berkeley Police Prius patrol cars were lined up in the morning along Bancroft Way next to police vans and news vans.
Steven Finacom
In an especially Berkeley scene, UC Berkeley Police Prius patrol cars were lined up in the morning along Bancroft Way next to police vans and news vans.
The mid-day rally on Sproul Plaza attracted thousands, many of them with protest signs.  There were short speeches.
Steven Finacom
The mid-day rally on Sproul Plaza attracted thousands, many of them with protest signs. There were short speeches.
“Make Banks Pay” was a common sign at the rally, as speakers focused on the role of big financial institutions in the economic collapse.
Steven Finacom
“Make Banks Pay” was a common sign at the rally, as speakers focused on the role of big financial institutions in the economic collapse.
As protesters rallied, police temporarily stopped traffic on Bancroft to move an Alameda County Sheriff’s bus into position on Barrow Lane behind Sproul Hall.  These buses are typically brought to large protests where numerous arrests are possible.
Steven Finacom
As protesters rallied, police temporarily stopped traffic on Bancroft to move an Alameda County Sheriff’s bus into position on Barrow Lane behind Sproul Hall. These buses are typically brought to large protests where numerous arrests are possible.
Berkeley Police bicycle patrol waited for the march down Telegraph Avenue and attracted the attention of perennial Berkeley protestor, Zachery Running Wolf.
Steven Finacom
Berkeley Police bicycle patrol waited for the march down Telegraph Avenue and attracted the attention of perennial Berkeley protestor, Zachery Running Wolf.
A solitary homeless woman panhandled in front of the Telegraph Avenue branch of the Bank of America in the quiet minutes before the march began.
Steven Finacom
A solitary homeless woman panhandled in front of the Telegraph Avenue branch of the Bank of America in the quiet minutes before the march began.
The march out of Sproul Plaza briefly paused at the Bancroft Way edge, then surged down Telegraph with a fringe of photographers keeping pace in front.
Steven Finacom
The march out of Sproul Plaza briefly paused at the Bancroft Way edge, then surged down Telegraph with a fringe of photographers keeping pace in front.
A protestor wrapped “Caution” tape around the B of A façade.
Steven Finacom
A protestor wrapped “Caution” tape around the B of A façade.
The march arrived at Telegraph and Durant.  Marchers chanted in front of both bank entrances, while Berkeley Police stopped traffic.   The marchers then headed up Durant.
Steven Finacom
The march arrived at Telegraph and Durant. Marchers chanted in front of both bank entrances, while Berkeley Police stopped traffic. The marchers then headed up Durant.
Minutes after the protest passed, customers were back at the B of A ATM machines, which had been festooned with signs.
Steven Finacom
Minutes after the protest passed, customers were back at the B of A ATM machines, which had been festooned with signs.
After the march, many of the Occupy Cal protesters returned to Sproul Plaza where they gathered in small discussion groups, then convened a “General Assembly.”
Contributed Photo
After the march, many of the Occupy Cal protesters returned to Sproul Plaza where they gathered in small discussion groups, then convened a “General Assembly.”
The “General Assembly” voted to set up a tent encampment on the lawn in front of Sproul Hall.
Contributed Photo
The “General Assembly” voted to set up a tent encampment on the lawn in front of Sproul Hall.
Later in the afternoon UC Police and mutual aid reinforcements in riot gear moved out in force from Sproul Hall and formed a picket line along the northwest front, with protestors closely massed in front.
Steven Finacom
Later in the afternoon UC Police and mutual aid reinforcements in riot gear moved out in force from Sproul Hall and formed a picket line along the northwest front, with protestors closely massed in front.
Some police were armed with projectile weapons.
Steven Finacom
Some police were armed with projectile weapons.
Protestors formed a wall in front of the tents in an angle of the lawn, north of the Mario Savio Steps.
Steven Finacom
Protestors formed a wall in front of the tents in an angle of the lawn, north of the Mario Savio Steps.
The police extended their line around the corner and took apart some of the tents.  It was at this point that a number of arrests occurred.  There was considerable shouting and chanting, some jostling, and protestors pulled at least one of the tents over their heads and above the crowd to keep it away from the police.
Steven Finacom
The police extended their line around the corner and took apart some of the tents. It was at this point that a number of arrests occurred. There was considerable shouting and chanting, some jostling, and protestors pulled at least one of the tents over their heads and above the crowd to keep it away from the police.
Police carried fragments of the dismantled tents around to the basement of Sproul Hall while the crowd heckled and chanted.
Steven Finacom
Police carried fragments of the dismantled tents around to the basement of Sproul Hall while the crowd heckled and chanted.
One protestor who had previously been sitting on a windowsill of Sproul Hall was arrested.
Steven Finacom
One protestor who had previously been sitting on a windowsill of Sproul Hall was arrested.
After 5:00 pm, as dusk fell, two tents were reestablished on the lawn, as hundreds of protestors and spectators talked in small groups.  Only a few police were visible at that point.
Steven Finacom
After 5:00 pm, as dusk fell, two tents were reestablished on the lawn, as hundreds of protestors and spectators talked in small groups. Only a few police were visible at that point.
Protestors around the tents were interviewed by a press of media, and food supplies were stacked up.  One protestor appealed to the crowd to keep the area clean and neat.
Steven Finacom
Protestors around the tents were interviewed by a press of media, and food supplies were stacked up. One protestor appealed to the crowd to keep the area clean and neat.

A photo chronology of the November 9, 2011 “Occupy Cal” Day of Protest

Creative Cal Tuition Protest Signs

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:55:00 PM
A simple “SOS” appeal against the backdrop of Sproul Hall and the Sather Campanile.
Steven Finacom
A simple “SOS” appeal against the backdrop of Sproul Hall and the Sather Campanile.
A flyer put up on the tents.  “We Are Not Camping. This Is Our Permit”, against a backdrop of the Bill of Rights, highlighting “We’re assembly peaceably to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Steven Finacom
A flyer put up on the tents. “We Are Not Camping. This Is Our Permit”, against a backdrop of the Bill of Rights, highlighting “We’re assembly peaceably to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“The Regents are the 1%.”
Steven Finacom
“The Regents are the 1%.”
“I Poo on the 1%”, held by a Cal parent and his baby.
Steven Finacom
“I Poo on the 1%”, held by a Cal parent and his baby.
A Cal blue and gold ship goes down in a sea of sharks.
Steven Finacom
A Cal blue and gold ship goes down in a sea of sharks.
Cal Associate Vice Chancellor for University Communications Claire Holmes circulated through the crowd passing out “Support Public Education” stickers, which many put on (some upside down).
Steven Finacom
Cal Associate Vice Chancellor for University Communications Claire Holmes circulated through the crowd passing out “Support Public Education” stickers, which many put on (some upside down).
“Arab Spring, Chilean Winter, Meet The American Fall.”
Steven Finacom
“Arab Spring, Chilean Winter, Meet The American Fall.”
“If I Had $ To Waste I Would Have Gone To Stanford.”
Steven Finacom
“If I Had $ To Waste I Would Have Gone To Stanford.”
A simple “Occupy.”
Steven Finacom
A simple “Occupy.”
“Companies should donate to education through their taxes.”
Steven Finacom
“Companies should donate to education through their taxes.”
“Berkeley Law: we object to the mismanagement of our University.”
Steven Finacom
“Berkeley Law: we object to the mismanagement of our University.”
“Education Shouldn’t Be A DEBT Sentence” and “UC Education Was Free!  It Still Should Be!”
Steven Finacom
“Education Shouldn’t Be A DEBT Sentence” and “UC Education Was Free! It Still Should Be!”
“81 % Fee Hike (is) The Death of Public Education.”
Steven Finacom
“81 % Fee Hike (is) The Death of Public Education.”
An outline of student tuition woes.
Steven Finacom
An outline of student tuition woes.
A multi slogan sign, including “Help The Suffering BEFORE the Privileged.”
Steven Finacom
A multi slogan sign, including “Help The Suffering BEFORE the Privileged.”
“ReFund Public Education” next to “Tents Are Free”.
Steven Finacom
“ReFund Public Education” next to “Tents Are Free”.
“$250,000 DEBT Is Not A Future.”
Steven Finacom
“$250,000 DEBT Is Not A Future.”
The flyers put up in advance of the protests, featuring a bear climbing the Sather Campanile.
Steven Finacom
The flyers put up in advance of the protests, featuring a bear climbing the Sather Campanile.
One of the protesters at yesterday's "Occupy Cal" demonstration...
Steven Finacom
One of the protesters at yesterday's "Occupy Cal" demonstration...
“We Should Do This More Often”, hoisted in the midst of the throng of ralliers.
Steven Finacom
“We Should Do This More Often”, hoisted in the midst of the throng of ralliers.

A sampling of the creative signs at the November 9, 2011, “Occupy Cal” Protest. Captions provide the text of the signs.

Open Letter to Chancellor Birgenau and Chief Celaya re Free Speech on Berkeley Campus

By Councimember Kriss Worthington
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 04:31:00 PM

At the Home of the Free Speech Movement the UCPD appears to have suppressed Free Speech Again! Please join us in questioning this behavior and challenge the UCPD to respect the Free Speech Rights of Occupy Cal. 

Below is an email I sent to the UC Chancellor and Police Chief: 

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau and Chief Celaya, 

I wanted to bring to your attention that banners with Free Speech content appear to have been seized by UCPD in front of Sproul Plaza. The banner was not attached to any tent so should not be in any questionable legal territory as validly permitted. It is hard to imagine that such an act could occur at the exact location of Berkeley where the Free Speech Movement began. 

I respectfully request that you promptly inform your officers to STOP seizing banners that are legitimately in the hands of students and protesters. I also request that you return the banners that were inappropriately seized. You can imagine that the sense of irony will not be lost on the public, that the UCPD violated the Free Speech rights of protesters at this particular location. 

I understand that there are lot of people at the Occupy Cal event and that such an event can cause a lot of stress on you and officers. Nonetheless, in the United States and in Berkeley, we have clearly established parameters that allow posters and Free Speech banners. We request your prompt attention to this negative blotch on the UCPD on the very first day of Occupy Cal. 

These students have made a firm commitment to no violence and no vandalism . The University should be commending the thousands of students that are participating. For many, this could be their very first political protest of their life. They are protesting specifically for additional financing for the University of California. The University should support this enthusiasm and help encourage this to be an effective protest that helps the University and our country. 

It is unfortunate and unacceptable that the UCPD are vandalizing and removing free speech banners from the event. Please stop this behavior now. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue. 

Flash: UC Berkeley Police in Riot Gear Pull Down "Occupy Cal" Tents

By Scott Morris
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 03:25:00 PM

Police have broken through a line of protesters on the University of California at Berkeley campus this afternoon and are taking down a half-dozen tents set up by the demonstrators. 

At least one protester has been arrested.  

The tents had been erected on the lawn in front of Sproul Hall after a noon rally and march to protest tuition and fee increases for university students and funding cuts to all levels of public education. 

The demonstration is intended to be in the style of "Occupy Wall Street," "Occupy Oakland" and similar protests, and participants planned to set up an encampment that would stand for at least a day.  

The protesters had set up the tents on the lawn after a 1:30 p.m. general assembly, and had linked arms and formed a circle around the tents to prevent police from removing the small encampment.  

However, around 3:40 p.m., dozens of police in riot gear pushed their way through the human chain using their batons and began taking the tents down. 

There were scuffles between the officers and protesters, and the crowd began chanting, "Stop beating students." 

Before police moved in, UC Berkeley police Lt. Eric Tejada reminded the demonstrators that camping is illegal there.  

"Remove your tents now," he said.  

On Monday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent a letter to students, faculty and staff saying that while the university supports the principles behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, camping will not be allowed on campus. 

"Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt with anyone's ability to conduct regular activities -- go to class, study, carry out their research, etc. -- will not be tolerated," the letter stated. 

Updated: UC Berkeley Students, Employees "Occupy Cal"

By Scott Morris BCN)
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 03:22:00 PM

Students and University of California at Berkeley employees are setting up an encampment on the campus today to protest tuition and fee increases for university students and funding cuts to all levels of public education. 

The encampment will be in the style of "Occupy Wall Street," "Occupy Oakland" and other encampments across the world that have been established to bring attention to a broad range of economic and political issues. 

The camp is only anticipated to last two days, but some protest organizers said it could go on longer. Many other "Occupy" encampments have been set up indefinitely. 

Tanya Smith, president of the Berkeley chapter of UPTE-CWA 9119, a union of health care workers, researchers and technical employees, said her union supports the protests. 

"We passed a resolution supporting the Occupy movement and supporting their basic needs," Smith said.  

"At least a couple of members have talked about camping out," she said. "We want to help students with resources to the extent that we are able, we certainly will be around them and with them." 

The protests began with picket lines and "teach-outs" at several locations around the campus this morning. A rally began at Sproul Plaza at noon and was scheduled to be followed by a short march and a general assembly at 1:30 p.m. 

More than 800 people said on a Facebook page set up for "Occupy Cal" that they would be attending today's protest.  

Smith said protesters would likely discuss how long the camp will stay at today's general assembly. 

"I think some of those decisions will come up there. I don't think it's going to be ongoing but I'm not sure," Smith said. 

On Monday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau sent a letter to students, faculty and staff saying that while the university supports the principles behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, camping will not be allowed on campus. 

"Any activities such as pulling fire alarms, occupying buildings, setting up encampments, graffiti, or other destructive actions that disrupt with anyone's ability to conduct regular activities -- go to class, study, carry out their research, etc. -- will not be tolerated," the letter stated. 

Smith said she objects to the characterization of an encampment as disruptive.  

"This is not intended to disturb anyone's education, it's intended to broaden education," she said. 

Protests are also planned for the Nov. 16 UC Regents meeting at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus.

Berkeley's Solar Calendar Rocks

By Gar Smith
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 10:41:00 AM
East Bay Conservation Corps members work on maintaining the Solar Calendar.
Gar Smith
East Bay Conservation Corps members work on maintaining the Solar Calendar.
Gar Smith
Gar Smith

It was a beautiful late October day, ideal weather for enjoying the sweeping panorama from atop the hills north of the Berkeley Marina. It was a lovely day for soaking up the sun and inhaling great gasps of fresh Bay breeze. And it was also a perfect day for grabbing pick-axes, shovels and a hundred small boulders to gussy up the perimeter surrounding the César Chávez Memorial Solar Calendar. 

The Solar Calendar is a special site. Every Solstice and Equinox, it draws a crowd of students, environmentalists, activists, astronomers and Wiccans. In between, it draws curious stares from dog walkers and excited laughter from school children on field trips. 

The Solar Calendar (Note: Don't call it a "sundial") sits in the center of a grass-fringed summit, encircled by a mini-Stonehenge of earth-backed berms and four clusters of signs detailing various aspects of the life of United Farm Workers' leader César Chávez. Each of the four points of the compass is marked by a stone bearing one of the cardinal virtues epitomized by Chávez' life of service and sacrifice — Hope, Determination, Courage and Tolerance. 

In addition to providing one of the Bay Area's best scenic vantage points, the summit's celestial monument also puts visitors in the position of being at the virtual "helm of Spaceship Earth." Standing alongside the three-foot-tall stone gnomon as it casts a shadow across the face of the Meridian Calendar, visitors can mark the slow course of the planet as it moves eastward on its axis. Standing on this spot and watching the slow progress of the ever-moving shadow, visitors can feel as if they are "driving the planet" from this unique perch. (An illusion, of course, since none of us are Captains of this ship: we are all merely Passengers.) 

Berm, Baby, Berm! 

Santiago Casal, the visionary sociologist and designer who created the memorial — and who continues to nurture its ever-evolving transformations — was on hand to greet volunteers, which today included Karen Fox-Reynolds leading a delegation of students from the Marin School in Albany and nearly a dozen members of the East Bay Conservation Corps. "The Corps has been involved in the creation of the site since the very beginning," Casal says. 

Casal looks over the 1.5-acre site and sighs. "The berms seem to have become ground squirrel hotels," he says, "Not sure what to do about that." But quickly turning back to the day's work, he explains that volunteers will be "resetting some of the stones on the berms to achieve a greater esthetic and we will be lengthening the tail of the Calendar to accentuate the southern orientation and aerial image of the site." And, he adds, "new signage is in the works." 

By day's end, the eastern and southern berms will be enhanced with new stone walls with eight large boulders marking the site's coordinates. The smaller stones used to build the encircling berms were donated by American Soil and Stone while the soil used to back the new berms was donated by Brickyard Excavations. 

Armed with picks, shovels and strong backs, the Conservation Corps crew swarms over the site while down the hill, an earthmover is busy rebuilding the path that leads uphill to the site. Wiping his brow, one of the young Corps workers pauses to laugh and exclaims: "Man! I'm exercising muscles I didn't even know I had!" 

Overseeing the work is a beaming Bill Ritchie. A building coordinator with the City of Oakland, Richie works with members of the Neighborhood Service Department and has had a hand in the Chavez Memorial from the earliest days. Or, as Richie puts it: "When we were just piling dirt on top of dirt." Richie grew up cash-poor but in a resilient environment — his family home was small but there were chickens, goats and dogs in the backyard as well as a thriving food garden. These days, Richie admits he's concerned about social collapse. "We need to get back to the basics — back to the land," he says. He believes sites like this are part of the solution. 

James LaFemina, the site's stonemason (who prefers to go by the name "JL") explains that we will be "dry-stacking" the stone walls. No mortar is being used, so the trick is to find the one stone that fits near-perfectly into the niche that's been created by all the other stones previously placed. This is a "special spatial" puzzle where the "solution" does not pre-exist but happens spontaneously at the moment you find the perfect stone to drop into place. 

JL admits that he likes to finish his workdays by returning home, kicking back and filling out crossword puzzles. Finding the right word to complete a line or a block "is just as satisfying as placing the right stone," he smiles. 

JL instructs his apprentice masons to take care to place the stones with their colorful, weathered sides facing outward. "It can take 100 years to grow one square inch of lichen," he notes. He also alerts us to "the five minute rule": if you can't find a fit in five minutes, move on to a different part of the wall. We roll and rotate each of the 10-20-pound rocks, checking their shapes and size. It takes more than one trip to the wall to find a stone that fits. And we do our best to honor the lichen. 

A salute to some unsung heroes: The Solar Calendar's current crew of volunteer Stewards includes: Tory Brady, Kathy Churchill, Beck Cowles, Curtis Gray, Steve Haflich, Carlos Hill, Russell Nelson, Mojgan Saberi, Chuck Soper,Cathy Sponseller and Jim Shallenberger. For more information: http://solarcalendar.org 

From Port to Plaza and Back Again (First Person)

by Daniel Borgström
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 09:28:00 AM

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 25th, police raided the encampment of Occupy Oakland. We'd gotten word that it was likely to occur this night, and, as I headed out to join my companions at the Plaza, I was thinking of an incident from local history--the police attack in the Port of Oakland on the morning of April 7, 2003. 

On that day antiwar demonstrators were picketing at the docks, peacefully protesting war profiteering by shipping companies, when police attacked. It was pretty brutal. Fifty-nine persons, including protesters, dock workers, and journalists were injured. Presumably the attack was intended as a message, something like: "Don't ever enter this port again! Don't even think of it!" 

Exactly five weeks later, on May 12th 2003, several hundred protesters marched back into the Port, with banners flying and band playing. We successfully shut it down. 

And that wasn't the end of it. The following year (2004), protesters commemorated the anniversary of the infamous attack by again returning to the Port, again shutting it down. Since then the Port has been picketed and shut down on several occasions, most recently in June 2010, to protest the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. 

Some people do learn from history. But what about Mayor Jean Quan? --former Maoist, veteran of the student movement of the 1960's, and now, a liberal Democrat. With her experience as a former radical activist, she should've understood the dynamics. It seems that she did not. 

For our part, at the General Assembly of Occupy Oakland, we'd decided by consensus vote that we'd defend our camp as best we could. If driven out and scattered, we'd reassemble the next afternoon at 4 p.m. in front of the library. That was the plan. Sentries were posted at each corner of the Plaza. I shared a post with two others of the security team, and it was on our watch that the raid began. We first sighted the police at 2:20 a.m. After determining that they were staging for a raid, we sounded the alarm and woke the camp. "Everybody up! Everybody up!" 

More than two hours passed before the police actually made their move. Hundreds of them suddenly dashed out of the shadows, surrounded our camp, then halted. I glanced up at the clock on the Tribune Tower; it was 4:40 a.m. Police from 17 agencies. They just stood there for what seemed like a very long time, motionless, not moving, their Darth Vader helmets glittering ominously in the dim light. The very sight of such overwhelming numbers was absolutely terrifying. Shock and Awe. 

We scattered among the tents. Finally regaining our composure, we returned to the perimeter, linked arms, and began chanting, "Cops go home! Cops go home!" The riot police just stood there, still not moving. And we stood where we were, also not moving. I glanced at the people around me, nearly all were young, excepting myself and two or three others. About half of us were women. Twenty minutes passed. 

Eventually a loudspeaker crackled; the police were telling us to leave the Plaza. A few minutes later there was a loud explosion and a bright flash of light--a "flash bang," and the helmeted police advanced towards us, tearing down our barricade as they approached. 

This time our line didn't waver. We chanted to the police, "You are also the 99%!" and "We are fighting for you!" 

They pulled us apart, one by one. 105 were arrested, according to the police. Despite the scariness of it all, the police mostly acted with restraint. I wasn't hurt, nor were most of the people around me. As repression goes, it was gentle--if you discount a few injuries and the fact that they razed our tent city, destroying our equipment. Not to mention the sheer terror of the experience. 

While waiting to be hauled off to jail, we talked with our captors, and found that they didn't like Wall Street either. "We're following orders," they told us. We overheard one officer saying to another, "Why are we arresting these people? Haven't we got something better to be doing?" 

They kept us in jail for about fifteen hours. Some were held longer. Jail food was awful. Meanwhile, over a thousand people met at the library at 4 p.m., then marched to the jail where we were being detained and held a vigil, a very loud one. From inside the jail we could hear them, and it felt really great. From there they continued on to the Plaza which had been the site of our camp. That's when police got really violent. Tear gas in the streets, people clubbed, an Iraqi war veteran critically injured. 

The next evening, Wednesday October 26, we returned to the Plaza and held a General Assembly attended by upwards of three thousand people. Many left to defend Occupy SF, where a raid was reportedly about to begin (At the last minute it was called off). Those of us remaining at the Plaza voted (1,442 in favor, 34 opposed, and 73 abstaining) to call for a general strike on November 2nd. As we did so, I kept thinking of an aphorism from the French May '68 rebellion: "Be realistic--demand the impossible." Meanwhile, greetings were coming in from occupations around the country including Occupy Wall Street and even from Tahrir Square, the mother of all occupations. The world was watching us, and we knew it. 

"Oakland! Oakland!" we chanted, "The world is watching Oakland!" 

The response to the attack at the Port of Oakland back in 2003 had seemed really big at the time, but it was small compared to this. 

Our eviction from the Plaza, a project on which city officials must've spent a huge amount of taxpayer money, had lasted about thirty-six hours. 

Tents began to reappear. First one, eight or nine more the next day. Soon there were twenty, and by the end of the week most of the Plaza had been re-tented. All our tents, sleeping bags and other gear were destroyed by the raiders, but we're rebuilding. The Plaza is our base of operations, our citadel, our symbol of hope. But this is not classical warfare where survival ultimately depends on holding a key position, however important. If driven from the Plaza again, we will again regroup and reoccupy. 

--- --- --- DANIEL BORGSTRÖM was at the Port of Oakland on April 7, 2003 and has taken part in several Port actions since, most recently on Nov 2nd. He writes on progressive topics and his website is at: http://danielborgstrom.blogspot.com/



Berkeley's Booting Scheme Creates Maximum Problems, Minimum Revenue

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 09:48:00 AM

Back to Berkeley, after the excitement in Oakland seems to have settled into a long slog, this week we have an example of the unintended consequences of the city management’s latest attempt to squeeze more moolah out of the citizenry.

You may remember that The Management, rubberstamped as usual by a complaisant group of electeds, has been sold Smart Boot, a computerized scheme for rapid collection of outstanding traffic tickets. Like many innovations which glom on to “Smart” branding, it’s a dumb idea which is looking dumber and dumber all the time.  

Case in point: we’re having some painting done by a friend who’s an excellent painting contractor as his day job, besides being a well-regarded acoustic bass jazz musician in the rest of his time. On Friday he needed to drop off some equipment at our house, so he parked his van, just for a few minutes, across our driveway.  

(No one ever puts a car in this driveway, because to get out you’d have to back into Ashby—and you’d better write your will first if you try that. Nevertheless, zoning requires us to maintain both the driveway and the garage which has never had a car in it since we’ve owned the house.) 

Guess what? That’s right, when he came out the van had been booted. Yes, Virginia, he had some unpaid traffic tickets, an occupational hazard of two professions which require unloading of either ladders or a bass at many stops. And no, he can’t transport these on a bicycle, in case the self-righteous among you are tempted to ask. 

However, he’d recently renewed his license, and he thought he’d paid all the tickets then. He called whatever number the booters gave him to ask about this, and whoever he talked to said cheerfully “yes, we make a lot of mistakes. You should talk to the city.” So he headed for City Hall. 

Catch 22: As you may be aware, The City is officially furloughed on many Fridays, including this one. So he had to leave the booted car in the driveway over the weekend, making it impossible for us to roll out the garbage cans in time for the Monday pickup. 

And that’s not the end of it. 

On Saturday night he had a gig in downtown Berkeley, for which he borrowed his wife’s car. (Oh, they also have teenagers to transport, especially the one who plays the cello, and that has caused them to get more tickets on that car.) 

Guess what? You got it, another boot job.  

And not only that, he reports that six or seven other cars were booted in the same block of Addison on Saturday night. That’s a few patrons of the fabled Berkeley Arts District who probably won’t be back any time soon. 

This is where the Puritans among you will pop their heads up and say, they all deserve it. They shouldn’t park illegally. If they do, they should pay their tickets right away, instead of putting it off until license renewal time. In fact, that’s just what my conscientious painter/musician friend said as he kicked himself.  

But not so fast—consider the social consequences. As a painting contractor, he’s providing jobs for three or four guys who would otherwise be unemployed, so when his business loses time and money over the boot incident it’s a net loss to society.  

As a musician, he’s attracting badly needed paying customers to downtown Berkeley and its various small businesses.  

As a parent, he’s raising two more musicians who seem likely to make a great contribution to the community, and as a husband he’s helped his his wife to get her degree from U.C. as an over-40 student, so that she now fills an important social service job.  

Balance all these social costs against the money raised for the public coffers by booting his vehicles. 

I don’t have complete figures, but the Smart Boot corporation gets $140 off the top from every transaction. The tickets themselves are now serviced by an out-of-town company which gets a piece of the action. All in all, I’d be surprised to hear that the City of Berkeley nets more than a couple of hundred dollars from each boot, while the average bootee probably pays close to $1000 to get his or her car back. 

Balance that against the city’s ongoing expenses. For example, there are currently 75 City of Berkeley retirees whose pensions exceed $100,000. The City Manager’s pension when he retires this year will be close to $300,000. The modest sums collected off the backs of hard-working people like my musician friend by the boot scheme are a drop in the bucket by comparison. 

Last year’s shortfall from uncollected parking tickets was only about $1.5 million. If that amount is collected under the Smart Boot scheme at a net gain to the city of only about $200 per boot, it will pay for no more than 15 of those 75 pricey pensions. 

And there will be 7500 outraged drivers with attendant social losses—is it really worth it? 

The Smart Boot system just started on October 18, but there’s undoubtedly already a good crop of horror stories as bad as, or worse than, what happened to my musician friend. If you have one, the Planet would like to hear from you.

The Editor's Back Fence

Blogging Occupy Cal

Thursday November 10, 2011 - 09:54:00 AM

For an account of what happened late last night and lots of pictures, see Steve Leibel's blog post with overview of events & a little editorializing ...


Cartoon Page: BOUNCE

By Joseph Young
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 01:53:00 PM


Joseph Young


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 01:39:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

Occupying: the UC Experience

By Steve Martinot
Friday November 11, 2011 - 09:31:00 PM

After a day of demonstrations (Nov. 9) to protest increasing tuitions at a state funded university, to protest cuts in staff and curriculum in an era of horrendously large administrative salaries and bonuses, though not yet calling for a return of the university to an educational rather than career focus, students at UC Berkeley decided to "Occupy" the campus. They set up a few tents on Sproul Plaza, as occupiers had been setting up such encampments all over the country. 

The UC police attacked the small encampment, tore down the tents, used their truncheons on anyone who got in the way, and arrested a few students. One woman, in the face of the vicious force the police exhibited, held out her hands to be handcuffed, and said "arrest me." She was charged with "resisting arrest." She wasn't the only one. 

That evening, more students gathered on Sproul Plaza, with more tents. They set them up, and surrounded them with their bodies. There were some 300 people there. The university had said it would come and talk with the students. That is, dialogue with them. When the administration representatives showed up, they presented their conditions and left. They said, you can be here all you like, but we won't allow tents or sleeping bags. Then they turned and left. 

The students had tents and sleeping bags, and decided to defend them. The police attacked later that night, and beat anyone in their way as they waded through the bodies to get to those tents and sleeping bags, and tear them out of the world. The students simply placed their bodies in the way of the police assault, in defense of the tents. They did not counterattack. There was no assault against the police. They simply tried to be a barrier between the police and the tents. It is so easy to say, and so difficult to think about. Many were badly hurt. One student ended up in the IC unit in the hospital. 

The next evening (Nov. 10), the students had a General Assembly meeting to decide what to do. One proposal was that they set up the tents on the sidewalk outside the university. A university cop (a number were close by listening) then contacted one of the facilitators and told her that if the students set up tents on the sidewalk outside campus, they would be treated the same as they had been on Sproul Plaza. 

From that moment on, the basic premise of the discussion was, "if we set up tents, we will be beaten." 

That is, it wasn't, "if we do this, we will be breaking the law." It wasn't, "if we do that we will get a ticket." It wasn't, "if we do that, we will be indicted for insurrection." All those niceties of judicial procedure, in which an action, such as setting up a tent, is not a crime until it is proven that it violated the law – something which, in common parlance goes, "a person is innocent until proven guilty" – had been dispensed with. 

To make this clear, if I am in a bar, and punch someone, I have not committed a crime of assault until it is proven through judicial procedure that I did not act in self-defense, but rather initiated an aggressive act. 

But those niceties of judicial procedure are gone. Instead, people are beaten, and are told that they will be beaten right there in the street if they do a certain thing. 

To beat someone under circumstances in which they cannot fight back, or defend themselves, because of either physical, social, or legal constraints, constitutes torture. It is torture because it is the immobilization of persons in order to inflict pain and the inflicting of pain on someone consciously to get something from them – whether it is information or obedience, it is the same process. For the police to beat people in the street or on campus is to torture them in public. For the state or the university administration to sanction such beating renders it state sanctioned torture. I am simply calling a spade a spade. 

State sanctioned torture is a violation of international law, of international treaty of which the US is a signatory, and thus a violation of the Constitution of the US, which establishes ratified treaties as part of the law of the land (Article VI). It is unknown to me whether state sanctioned torture, such as the police beating people in the street or on a campus, is illegal according to US legislated law. It is possible that it is not, just as no Congress in the history of the US has managed to pass a law prohibiting lynching. 

When the occupations around the country call for expelling the corporations and corporate power from our day to day politics and our elections, they are only calling for a solution to a part of the problem. We now can see, in the words of the campus police, that we have a government that is criminal, because it sanctions acts that have been declared criminal by international agreement.

Statement on UC Police Violence from Veterans of the 1964 Free Speech Movement

Members of the Free Speech Movement Archives (www.FSM-A.com): Bettina Aptheker, Robby Cohen, Susan Druding, Lee Felsenstein, Barbara Garson, Lynne Hollander, Anita Medal, Jack Radey, Gar Smith, Jackie Goldberg and Barbara Stack
Friday November 11, 2011 - 02:58:00 PM

As veterans and historians of the 1964 Free Speech Movement that established the rights of students to freely express their concerns over critical social issues within the boundaries of the University of California's campus, we were shocked by the actions of campus police who seized banners from students peacefully demonstrating in Sproul Plaza and on the Sproul Steps. 

We join Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington in demanding that the banners be returned and that University Administrators condemn this unconscionable police assault on Free Speech. 

The University is a commons dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. It appears that the campus police are in need of remedial education concerning fundamental protections offered by the US Constitution -- including First Amendment rights to Free Speech and Free Assembly that were clearly recognized and enshrined on the UCB campus 47 years ago on these very steps. 

We further condemn the actions of the armed police who beat and arrested students and faculty. We deplore the decision of University officials who, once again, opened the campus to armed and club-wielding Alameda County sheriffs. And we applaud the inspiring example of the students who bravely and nonviolently held their ground against police batons. 

To Oakland City Council: Occupy Group FINALLY Brings Business and Renown to Oakland

By Virginia Browning
Friday November 11, 2011 - 12:13:00 PM

Dear Oakland City Council,

You are getting internationally known public figures visiting and publicizing Oakland in a positive way. Are you people SERIOUS about trying to remove something you've been wanting for years to create? 

You have been working for years for business to improve in Oakland. Now celebrate something positive, world-wide, and stand with Oakland-on-the-map in this historic moment. Many of us have been asking business owners in Oakland in a neutral way what they think of the Occupiers. By far the majority of answers have ranged from complete support and jubilence to "some customers seem a little afraid, but if the city and media would publicize what's actually happening, customers would realize it's safer and more lively than before." 

Just a sampling of positive publicity has come from Tavis Smiley, Amy Goodman, CBS, CNN, KGO, and Egypt! 

If you want to concentrate on what's not working, you can ALWAYS find trouble. Do you want to get rid of the Raiders because some fans always start fights? You have a vast number of allies within the Occupy encampment calling on disrupters to cease any vandalism. 

Please do all you can to work with the Occupiers, many of whom are young. They have infused the country with hope that seemed dead! I know Ms. Brooks pitched a tent, but most also are aware that she has not actually needed to stay in it. 

As far as any safety violations are concerned, work with the campers. They are, by and large, quite organized and on your side. You will doubtless have more not fewer public safety officers available for serious crimes elsewhere if you'd use the help you have here. 

Virginia Browning 

(employed in Oakland, and more frequent than before -- downtown Oakland customer)

About Ted's Position

By Thomas Lord
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:38:00 PM

I was thinking about Ted's "occupy yourself!" rant. I'd seen some people take offense at it and at some of Ted's other takes on Occupy. I was thinking about what to say to those people. It's this:

Ted's bent here is just run of the mill cynical nihilism. There's a lot of that around here, particularly among people of a certain generation. They think: Grass roots revolutionary change is impossible, wrong-headed, and pitiful -- don't you know? Anything that smells vaguely like ideology is almost certainly meaningless. Uncle Ted will share his views on the absurdities and vacuousness of the whole affair... he's seen it all unfold before.

Which is a perfectly reasonable position for Ted to take, even if he's wrong. 

Remember that it is within living memory for many in Berkeley that, well, the revolution started more than 40 years ago. It even resulted in an apparently permanent occupation of People's Park. Yes, pretty words were spoken and parts were groovy but this was The Real Deal: the national guard used a helicopter to crop-dust parts of campus with tear gas; people were beaten; James Rector was shot to death in Berkeley, by the police, for no good reason, and Alan Blanchard blinded that same day by the same kind of buck shot fired from police rifles for the same absense of any good reason. 

Against the outrages, hopes ran high. Not only were similar protests happening around the nation but, indeed, around the world. "Same song all around the world," crowed Abbie Hoffman, back from some travels. 

Many organized factions competed for leadership, sometimes fighting among themselves and sometimes forming coalitions. Multiple flavors of marxists, hippies, multiple flavors of Black nationalists, and white liberals. Some militant, some not. 

Imposing yourself as leadership was easier back then. If you tied into a national organization, you had an easier time communicating with people in other cities (in those pre-Internet days). If you tied into those organizations, you had easier access to money and you had a shiny air of authority. Hell, just having decent access to a mimeograph machine (you might have heard of them) gave one a measure of authority and power. 

There wasn't much on TV back then so this revolution stuff was pretty stimulating! 

There were competing theories, then as now, about what was happening politically. There were those who it seemed were just there for the party and the free food and the hook-up opportunities. There was then, like today, no easy answer to "why are they doing this? this causing a ruckus and such?" 

For a while, the dissidents could believe that in spite of the organizational and ideological chaos, somehow it would all converge and things would Change with a capital C. It didn't. It kind of fell apart. 

Sure, some changes happened. But... 

It all turned very sour and people went their own ways and a lot, to this day, are rightly skeptical and cast a jaundiced eye over something like Occupy thinking "Yeah. Cute. Talk to me in a few years. I'll try not to say I told ya' so. That stuff never works." 

Says Ted: "Occupy Yourself! [....] The occupation is over," and in between he fills in a kind of darkly sarcastic parody of the old "change begins within" mantra. 

We feel your pain, Ted. 

Now Ted, take a deep breath and go back to the Med and get the stories you're great at getting. Give this one a rest. And here's why: 

Ted this isn't the same old same old. Things really are different this time. No, really. Stop chuckling. Geeze. 

See, all the bad ways in which things fell apart back then -- the impossibility of naive political organizing -- the harsh limitations of protest .... 

That's all in living memory. We're aware of that. We are familiar with those stories. We are not recapitulating those earlier days. We are taking them as informative background. 

The young people today are, to put it simply, cannier than the young people back then. And also in better touch with one another -- less need for "leaders". 

And you've got cynicism, Ted? Ha! You don't know cynicism. You're an amateur compared to the youth of today. You're a cynicism amateur compared to even me and I'm somewhere around half way between you and the youth of today. 

It's in spite of widespread recognition that, really, Occupy can't possibly work -- that it's absurd to even try .... 

It's in spite of knowing how similar efforts failed in the past.... 

People are choosing to, anyway, at least try. But try this time a little more cleverly. And clever we've been. 

There is power in that. There is power in a movement that leads people to attempt the absurd -- because its the best option they can see on the table. 

Counts vary, Ted, but how many 10s of thousands do you think came out to support the general strike and shut down the port of Oakland? And that was organized in a matter of days. It drew upon people from all walks of life. It was a direct and visceral convulsion of, yes, the middle class standing up in support of the protests and against the political and economic powers arrayed against the people. The general strike cowed the police and the city, Ted. Undeniably. 

People on all sides are comparing this to a labor action of 1946 - not a 1968 protest. Something, you ought to admit in the end, is bigger and better this time. 

The occupation is not over. It's barely just begun.

"Some things never change": Student Protests at UC Berkeley

By Jane Stillwater
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:33:00 PM

On tonight's news, they featured various segments covering protests at Occupy Oakland, Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Denver, Occupy Seattle, Occupy New York, Occupy Austin, Occupy Chicago, etc. And tonight I was also a part of "Occupy Cal". And the university police charged into a mass of student demonstrators like they were going after bank robbers or bad guys instead of just students protesting HUGE tuition hikes. And the students stood their ground on Sproul Plaza against great odds. 

The police seized tents and banners from the students -- and what do you know? The students seized them right back! 

And, later, when there was a lull in between various attacks on students, I had a chance to talk to some of the cops. "Are other local police forces involved in this operation -- or is it only the U.C. police?" 

"Just the university police, ma'am. Not the city police. But the chancellor stated that he would not allow tents to be erected on campus." And so the chancellor apparently chose to give an order to take the tents down. 

Bad choice. 

"I used to protest here at this very same spot back in the 1960s," I then told the boys in blue. 

"Some things never change," one cop replied. Well, guess what? Things had pretty damn well better change -- or else! 

Or else what? 

Or else there will be a hit-and-run type of protest movement from the rest of us 99% -- that will go on and on and on at different places daily all over America until things DO start to change. The corporatists don't have the money or the manpower to control all of us everywhere. A non-violent hit-and-run guerrilla protest movement? Yay. 

And I just heard that U.C. Santa Cruz students have also gone out on strike. 

And will a plaza or university or town square or bank near you be next? 

PS: U.C. students in Berkeley are very well-represented by their district's councilperson, Kriss Worthington, who was also on Sproul Plaza, backing his young constituents up. Here's what he told the Berkeley Daily Planet tonight: 

"At the home of the Free Speech Movement, the UCPD appears to have suppressed Free Speech again! Please join us in questioning this behavior and challenge the UCPD to respect the Free Speech Rights of Occupy Cal." 

Worthington then went on to admonish Chancellor Birgeneau and U.C. police chief Calaya for their violent actions against non-violent protestors. "I wanted to bring to your attention that banners with Free Speech content appear to have been seized by UCPD in front of Sproul Plaza. ...It is hard to imagine that such an act could occur at the exact location in Berkeley where the Free Speech Movement began." Worthington nailed it exactly. 

"You can imagine that the sense of irony will not be lost on the public, that the UCPD violated the Free Speech rights of protesters at this particular location. ...These students have made a firm commitment to no violence and no vandalism. The University should be commending the thousands of students that are participating. For many, this could be their very first political protest of their life. They are protesting specifically for additional financing for the University of California. The University should support this enthusiasm and help encourage this to be an effective protest that helps the University and our country." 

PPS: Of course it is unacceptable that police are violently shutting down freedom of speech at the very spot where the Berkeley Free Speech Movement was born. But even more unacceptable is the fact that free speech movements all over the United States are also being shut down -- here in America, in the Land of the Free. 

I mean, seriously. With Veterans Day almost upon us, we can only speculate why our heroic troops fought and died in foreign wars -- if the very Freedom that they fought so hard for abroad is being violently shut down right here at home.

Student Non-Violence Succeeds in Berkeley

By Gar Smith (Free Speech Movement Veteran)
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 10:42:00 AM

I have just finished watching some of the videos of the police attacking unarmed students on the UC Berkeley campus. The beatings are appalling. And the reappearance of "non-lethal" shotguns on campus inexcusable. (Question: Was the office who shot a demonstrator with a beanbag blast during the last campus incursion ever identified and held accountable?) But, in addition to seeing more evidence of deplorable police behavior, I also saw something new, remarkable and inspiring -- it was expressed in the decorum of the students. 

In a powerful demonstration of nonviolent resistance, they held their ground -- despite repeated body blows from police batons -- and continued to calmly protest.  

Instead of hurling obscenities, they tried to disarm the cops with reason. Many attempted to engage the police in "common ground" conversations. Chants directed at the police were positive -- "We are doing this for your children."  

I may be reading too much into the videos but it looked to me as though the calm, resolute, nonthreatening nature of the students helped lower the anger and apprehension in the frontline of cops. After the initial charge and blows failed to scatter the students, the cops seemed to take a second look and started to realize that these young people were not behaving like thugs and lawbreakers but looked more like their own sons and daughters.  

There was a lot of bravery on display during yesterday's confrontation, thanks to the students, no thanks to the armed police.

Call Yudof and Brown re Occupy Cal

By Mary Rose Kaczorowski
Thursday November 10, 2011 - 09:19:00 AM

CALL President Yudof and Gov. Jerry Brown—keep calling and emailing.

Tell them you are a resident of California (and where you live) and a taxpayer!
Tell them the beatings yesterday of peaceful Cal students gathered at Sproul Hall, the Home of the Free Speech Movement is immoral and that is not how we want our tax dollars to be used.
Tell them you will not support any Cal events or sporting events until the University supports students in their quest for an affordable education and stop the expansion of a corporate based privatized University that serves Corporations.

Please direct inquiries for the president's office to: 

Office of the President
University of California
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Email: president@ucop.edu 

Although President Yudof reads all correspondence sent to him, please be aware that such correspondence also may be read or answered by members of his staff or appropriate campus personnel. Please also note that the Office of the President retains copies of all correspondence sent to the president, and that all correspondence is considered a matter of public record and is, therefore, subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act. 

Administrative office hours:
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

You may contact Governor Jerry Brown by mail at: 

Mailing address: 

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841 9am -5pm
Fax: (916) 558-3160 

email at http://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php


Thursday November 10, 2011 - 08:46:00 AM

Occupy Judaism is Not Jews for Jesus 

Occupy Judaism is NOT, under any circumstances, Jews for Jesus. We are a group of Jewish activists, including rabbis, rabbinical students and Jewish educators, who support Occupy Wall Street and who have organized Shabbat meals and High Holiday services at Zuccotti Park. 

Daniel Sieradski 

Editor's note:The error in the commentary we published has been corrected.

Occupy America

By Michael Parenti
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 12:44:00 PM

Beginning with Occupy Wall Street in September 2011, a protest movement spread across the United States to 70 major cities and hundreds of other communities. Similar actions emerged in scores of other nations.

For the first two weeks, the corporate-owned mainstream media along with NPR did what they usually do with progressive protests: they ignored them. These were the same media that had given the Tea Party supporters saturation coverage for weeks on end, ordaining them “a major political force.”

The most common and effective mode of news repression is omission. By saying nothing or next to nothing about dissenting events, movements, candidates, or incidents, the media consign them to oblivion. When the Occupy movement spread across the country and could no longer be ignored, the media moved to the second manipulative method: trivialization and marginalization. 

So we heard that the protestors were unclear about what they were protesting and they were “far removed from the mainstream.” Media cameras focused on the clown who danced on Wall Street in full-blown circus costume, and the youths who pounded bongo drums: “a carnival atmosphere” “yongsters out on a spree,” with “no connection to the millions of middle Americans” who supposedly watched with puzzlement and alarm. 

Such coverage, again, was in sharp contrast to the respectful reportage accorded the Tea Party. House Majority Leader, the reactionary Republican Eric Cantor, described the Occupy movement as “growing mobs.” This is the same Cantor who hailed the Tea Party as an unexcelled affirmation of democracy. 

The big November 2 demonstration in Oakland that succeeded in closing the port was reported by many media outlets, almost all of whom focused on the violence against property committed by a few small groups. Many of those perpetrators were appearing for the first time at the Oakland site. Some were suspected of being undercover police provocateurs. Their actions seemed timed to overshadow the successful shutdown of the nation’s fourth largest port. 

Time and again, the media made the protestors the issue rather than the things they were protesting. The occupiers were falsely described as hippie holdovers and mindless youthful activists. In fact, there was a wide range of ages, socio-ethnic backgrounds, and lifestyles, from homeless to well-paid professionals, along with substantial numbers of labor union members. Far from being a jumble of confused loudmouths prone to violence, they held general assemblies, organized themselves into committees, and systematically took care of encampment questions, food, security, and sanitation. 

One unnoticed community protest was Occupy Walnut Creek. For those who don’t know, Walnut Creek is a comfortable conservative suburb in northern California (with no known record of revolutionary insurrections). Only one local TV station gave Occupy Walnut Creek brief attention, noting that about 400 people were participating, average age between 40 and 50, no clowns, no bongos. Participants admitted that they lived fairly prosperous lives but still felt a kinship with the millions of Americans who were enduring an economic battering. Here was a contingent of affluent but rebellious “middle Americans” yet Walnut Creek never got mentioned in the national media, as far as I know. 

The Occupy movement has promulgated a variety of messages. With a daring plunge into class realities, the occupiers talk of the 1% who are exploiting the 99%, a brilliant propaganda formula, simple to use, yet saying so much, now widely embraced even by some media commentators. The protestors carried signs condemning the republic’s terrible underemployment and the empire’s endless wars, the environmental abuses perpetrated by giant corporations, the tax loopholes enjoyed by oil companies, the growing inequality of incomes, and the banksters and other gangsters who feed so lavishly from the public trough. 

Some occupiers even denounced capitalism as a system and hailed socialism as a humane alternative. In all, the Occupy movement revealed an awareness of systemic politico-economic injustices not usually seen in U.S. protests. Remember, the initial and prime target was Wall Street, finance capital’s home base. 

The mainstream news outlets not only control opinions but even more so opinion visibility, which in turn allows them to limit the parameters of public discourse. This makes it all the more imperative for ordinary people to join together in demonstrations, hoping thereby to maximize the visibility and impact of their opinions. The goal is to break through the near monopoly of conservative orthodoxy maintained by the “liberal” media. 

So demonstrations are important. They have an energizing effect on would-be protestors, bringing together many who previously had thought themselves alone and voiceless. Demonstrations bring democracy into the streets. They highlight issues that have too long been buried. They mobilize numbers, giving a show of strength, reminding the plutocracy perched at the apex that the pyramid is rumbling. 

But demonstrations should evolve into other forms of action. This has already been happening with the Occupy movement. It is more than a demonstration because its protestors did not go home at the end of the day. In substantial numbers they remained downtown, putting their bodies on the line, imposing a discomfort on officialdom just by their numbers and presence. 

At a number of Occupy sites there have been civil disobedience actions, followed by arrests. In various cities the police have been unleashed with violent results that sometimes have backfired. In Oakland ex-Marine Scott Olsen was hit by a police teargas canister that busted his skull and left him hospitalized and unable to speak for a week. At best, he faces a long slow recovery. The day after Olsen was hit, hundreds of indignant new protestors joined the Occupy Oakland site. Police brutality incites a public reaction, often bringing more people out, just the opposite of what officials want. 

Where does this movement go? What is to be done? The answers are already arising from the actions of the 99%: 

--Discourage military recruitment and support conscientious objectors. Starve the empire of its legions. Organize massive tax resistance in protest of corrupt, wasteful, unlawful, and destructive Pentagon spending. 

--Transfer funds from corporate banks to credit unions and community banks. Support programs that assist the unemployed and the dispossessed. It was Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s embattled finance minister who declared: “Salvate il popolo, non le banche” (“Save the people, not the banks”). It would be nice to hear such sentiments emanating from the U.S. Treasury Department or the White House. 

--Coordinate actions with organized labor. Unions still are the 99%’s largest and best financed groups. Consider what was done in Oakland: occupiers joined with longshoremen, truckers, and other workers to close the port. Already there are plans for a general strike in various communities. Such actions improve greatly if organized labor is playing a role. 

--We need new electoral strategies, a viable third party, proportional representation, and even a new Constitution, one that establishes firm rules for an egalitarian democracy and is not a rigmarole designed to protect the moneyed class. The call for a constitutional convention (a perfectly legitimate procedure under the present U.S. Constitution) seems long overdo. 

--Perhaps most of all, we need ideological education regarding the relationship between wealth and power, the nature of capitalism, and the crimes of an unbridled profit-driven financial system. And again the occupiers seem to be moving in that direction: in early November 2011, people nationwide began gathering to join teach-ins on “How the 1% Crashed the Economy.” 

We need to explicitly invite the African-American, Latino, and Asian communities into the fight, reminding everyone that the Great Recession victimizes everyone but comes down especially hard on the ethnic poor. 

We need to educate ourselves regarding the beneficial realities of publicly owned nonprofit utilities, publicly directed environmental protections, public nonprofit medical services and hospitals, public libraries, schools, colleges, housing, and transportation--all those things that work so well in better known in some quarters as socialism. 

There is much to do. Still it is rather impressive how the battle is already being waged on so many fronts. Meanwhile the corporate media ignore the content of our protest while continuing to fulminate about the occupiers’ violent ways and lack of a precise agenda. 

Do not for one moment think that the top policymakers and plutocrats don’t care what you think. That is the only thing about you that wins their concern. They don’t care about the quality of the air you breathe or the water you drink, or how happy or unhappy or stressed and unhealthy or poor you might be. But they do want to know your thoughts about public affairs, if only to get a handle on your mind. Every day they launch waves of disinformation to bloat your brains, from the Pentagon to Fox News without stint. 

When the people liberate their own minds and take a hard clear look at what the 1% is doing and what the 99% should be doing, then serious stuff begins to happen. It is already happening. It may eventually fade away or it may create a new chapter in our history. Even if it does not achieve its major goals, the Occupy movement has already registered upon our rulers the anger and unhappiness of a populace betrayed. 

Michael Parenti’s most recent book is The Face of Imperialism. For further information about him, see www.michaelparenti.org.

KPFA, A Year Later – A Reflection

By Akio Tanaka
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 09:41:00 AM

Between 2001 and 2006, there was a dramatic increase in Listener Support at KPFA due to the expanding economy and interest in the Iraq-Afghan War. KPFA added many paid staff during this period; however, between 2007 and 2010 Listener Support declined dramatically as the whole economy crashed. 

Payments to Pacifica were reduced to reflect the decline in Listener Support, but similar cuts to Salaries and Benefits were not made, and in the fall of 2010 KPFA faced insolvency. The Pacifica Foundation, which is fiscally responsible for the network of five stations, stepped in and made cuts in staffing. 

Initially, Pacifica offered voluntary severance to all employees. Seven people accepted the offer, and in the end, two people were laid off, Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert. Edwards-Tiekert had seniority bumping rights which he did not exercise until several months later. 

The layoffs were done in accordance with the union contract which says: “In cases where skill, ability, knowledge and job performance are all equal, or could be equal in the opinion of the Employer after reasonable orientation and training, seniority shall prevail”. 

Following was the seniority of the paid hosts of Public Affair shows in November of 2010: 

Kris Welch - Living Room & Saturday Talkies Host/Producer 

Philip Maldari - Sunday Show Host/Producer 

Dennis Bernstein - Flashpoints Host/Producer 

CS Soong - Against the Grain Host/Producer 

Davey D. - Hard Knock Radio Host/Producer 

Anita Johnson - Hard Knock Radio Host/Producer 

Sasha Lilley - Against the Grain Host/Producer 

Miguel Molina - Flashpoints Host/Producer 

Brian Edwards-Tiekert - Morning Show Host 

Mitch Jeserich - Letters & Politics Host/Producer 

Aimee Allison - Morning Show Host 

If one single show was to be cancelled based on seniority, it was going to be either the Morning Show or Letters & Politics; however, Communication Workers of America (CWA) claimed that the layoffs violated the terms of the union contract and filed three grievances with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and asked for an arbitrator to rule on reinstating Edwards-Tiekert and Allison to the Morning Show. These claims led many labor supporters to voice solidarity with the CWA and to believe that in fact there had been management misconduct. 

In February of 2011, Brian Edwards-Tiekert did exercise his bumping rights and returned as a part-time news reporter. In April, the NLRB issued an advice memo dismissing one of the three CWA grievances and CWA withdrew the two remaining grievances. In July, the arbitrator ruled against Allison’s reinstatement. 

Pacifica was vindicated on all counts associated with or having to do with labor issues. Unfortunately, as in any conflict, partisan rhetoric prevailed and continues. 

Some claimed that the layoffs were not necessary and that there had been union busting on the part of Pacifica. They also claimed that layoffs were politically motivated. 

Some claimed that Pacifica was trying to take over KPFA and make it an all-volunteer station. 

Some claimed that Pacifica was taking too much. Audited budget reports show that Payment to Pacifica is pegged to Listener Support, so if Listener Support goes down Payment to Pacifica goes down proportionately. 

Some tried to conflate professionalism with paid positions; however, being a paid staff does not confer competence, and it is generally agreed that there are many unpaid staff that are thoroughly professional. 

Some tried to cast the cuts as a management-union issue. KPFA is not a traditional corporation where management can make tradeoffs between wages and other expenses (e.g. dividends). At KPFA all the income goes to fixed expenses or Salaries and Benefits, so if the revenue goes down and there are no reserves, there must be cuts to staff. 

The reason this conflict arose is because there are real underlying differences at the station. 

One is historical. In 1997 CWA became the station union and the unpaid staff lost representation which exacerbated the divide between the paid staff and the unpaid staff. In 2003, in response to the attempted takeover of Pacifica by a group headed by Mary Frances Berry, new bylaws were put in place which called for a democratically elected Local Station Board. This understandably introduced an element of uncertainty for many of the established staff. 

Another has to do with assuring the income stream. Naturally, the station would like to see a steady source of income and one way to do this is to appeal to more affluent audience. Some are wary of shows which they fear offend some audiences or appeal exclusively to less affluent and/or narrower audiences. 

All this came to a head in the fall of 2010. While it is understandable that people want to keep their jobs and it is the union’s duty to help keep those jobs, the layoffs in 2010 were the consequence of the extraordinary boom and bust cycle of the preceding decade. 

KPFA must find a way to continue to raise adequate revenue and produce uncompromised progressive programming. 

One lesson from the recent boom and bust cycle is that the station should maintain a paid staffing level that is sustainable over the long term and not subject to economic ups and downs. As always, the most reliable way to keep an even income is to broaden the listener support. This can be best achieved by relentless efforts to produce good programming. Ever improving and relevant programming is bolstered by a strong apprenticeship program and lively, ongoing evaluation of programs. When a new person joins the station, whether a worker or a manager, the old timers must all extend a hand to help the new person become part of the KPFA family. 

Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and KPFA Interim General Manager Andrew Phillips and Interim Program Director Carrie Core all deserve our thanks for stepping into a very difficult situation and managing with dignity and generosity. 

Akio Tanaka is an Oakland resident and a member of the KPFA Local Station Board.

Occupy Yourself!

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:17:00 AM

Around the bay area, all the Occupy franchises are Occupy_______(add your city's name), but in some parts of the world, occupiers have gamed the name. 

Take, for instance, a franchise near New York's Zuccotti Park, Jews for Jesus calling themselves Occupy Judaism. And reportedly there's a group in Arizona which objects to the occupy brand and is calling itself un-occupy. Can you imagine calling a McDonald's un-McDonalds (although we've all been to a few of these). 

A sign near Boalt Hall recently read: Occupy Boalt Hall. Why couldn't you then occupy your church, or your kitchen? 

I asked one of the key Occupy Berkeley people about splinter chapters, and he said these spin-offs dilute the force of the protest. 

But what if that weren't so, and that feathers wouldn't be ruffled? 

Occupy yourself! 

You'll save on gas or bike tires and won't have to do any heavy lifting. 

All you need to do is figure out what's wrong with you that you have become one of ninety-nine percent, or, if you are part of the one percent earning over $375,000, what's up with that? 

Go figure. 

Are you not giving back because you feel that your money is your money and that you resent being asked to give any of it up? Do you feel $375,000 is barely adequate? 

Do you give to panhandlers, or do you secretly despise them for loafing on the walks? 

Are you greedy? What exactly is that—pigging out at an all-you-can-eat? Do you tend to have too much stuff? Have you misplaced gadgets because you can't keep track of them, or battery chargers? 

Is your home much bigger than your garage? Could you live comfortably in your garage if all your hoard were not in the way? 

Have you spent a lot on cars, jewelry or watches? Or do you "read" all those expensive watch ads in the New York Times and feel sorry that you can't afford one. Do you believe that $50,000 is too much for a car? Do you drive? 

Been to Vegas? Lied about winning? About losing? 

Are you a corporation? Why not? It has its advantages. Have you ever been sued? (One of the advantages). 

Did you know that most people are doing better than you (as you see it), and some are doing much worse, which you would rather not think about because you are too busy feeling sorry for yourself. 

When was the last time you loaned someone money? Did you get it back? 

Do you influence any politicians (family members excluded)? 

Would you prefer that the whole subject of money not come up? Why are you like that? 

Consider your background. 

Does the word Wall Street send chills up your spine? Do you like the feeling? Ever worked or applied for work there? Can you imagine yourself in an office on Wall Street with a bunch of financial reports on your desk? 

Have you ever read a financial report? Your bank account statement? The denomination of your currency? 

Do you consider yourself broke? But do you have a broker? Do you know what brokers do? 

Have you ever visited (perish-the-thought) Wall Street? Who paid for the visit? 

Subscribe to cable T.V.? Apped out? 

Are you unable to afford medical or dental treatment and prescription drugs, or do you have a cabinet full of "medicine"? You may count marijuana as a drug, a very expensive drug. 

Do you drink cheap wine, or do you believe it's worth hundreds of dollars for a good glass of wine? Would you spend for that? 

By now you should be identifying with either the ninety-nine percent or the one percent. 

What do you think made you that way? Fate, accident of birth, or your own achievements? 

Do you have advice on how to get into the one percent? Why don't you tell the world the secrets of your success? "Then they would no longer be secrets" is not an option. 

Nor is most people can't do what I did, unless you are a test pilot, a physicist, a pro athlete, or famous actor. 

Could someone write a book on your poverty that would arouse pity? Someone like Charles Dickens? 

Do you sometimes think that being in the one percent is a liability? Is this because you don't have enough money? 

What's the least amount of money you could live on? Your entire income is not the least. 

Are you uncomfortable being occupied, even though you are also the occupier? 

Would you donate to a foundation, except that you consider most of them corrupt? 

Do you feel uncomfortable in South Berkeley or downtown when you are well-dressed? 

Does this keep you on the North side, on Solano, or in the Elmwood? Do you shop in thrift stores because they have all the good stuff that someone else with more money than you picked out, or because you prefer the ambiance? 

Would you drive to a Crate and Barrel, but resent that you couldn't afford Neiman Marcus? 

Do you want to save the world or to just get it off your back? 

Do you feel that people pay too much attention or envy people of wealth? Would you take the envy with the wealth? 

By now you should more fully understand yourself. 

The occupation is over. 



Ted Friedman usually reports from the South side, but sometimes comments for the Planet, as well. He has been reporting on Occupy Berkeley since it began. 

Editor's note: See correction re Occupy Judaism in Letters. 







The Public Eye: Why Occupy Wall Street Won’t Make a Difference

By Bob Burnett
Friday November 11, 2011 - 09:01:00 AM

Occupy Wall Street is getting positive reviews and is viewed favorably by most Americans. Does OWS indicate the US political process has hit bottom and Americans are ready for radical change? 

Recent polls indicate that Americans view Occupy Wall Street favorably. Poll respondents have a more favorable view of protestors than they do of Washington politicians or denizens of Wall Street. What counts most is public sentiment on key issues and here, too, Occupy Wall Street seems to be winning. The most recent CBS News/New York Times poll asked: "Do you feel that the distribution of money and wealth in this country is fair, or do you feel that the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed among more people?" 66 percent of respondents answered yes. 

Nonetheless, it’s one thing to believe that money and wealth is distributed unfairly or that government is broken or that the US is spiraling downward, and quite another thing to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Are American voters – the 99 percent – at the point where they are willing to take to the streets and join Occupy Wall Street? No. 

Americans may be disgusted with the way things are going, but they’re not in enough pain to get up out of their easy chair and take action. That’s the conclusion VANITY FAIR contributing editor Michael Lewis reached in his article California and Bust. Lewis considered “the pressure point in American finance: the fear that American cities would not pay back the money they had borrowed.” “The states that had enjoyed the biggest boom were now facing the biggest busts.” Not surprisingly, the biggest problem is California. Lewis discussed California with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the mayor of almost bankrupt San Jose, and the city manager of Vallejo that declared bankruptcy in 2008. 

Mayor Chuck Reed remarked that San Jose suffers from “service-level insolvency,” adding, “I think we suffered from a series of mass delusions.” UCLA neuroscientist Peter Whybrow observed, “We’ve created physiological dysfunction. We have lost the ability to self-regulate, at all levels of society.” Lewis concluded that Californians “want services and not to pay for them.” 

California’s situation reminded Lewis of “Bernard Madoff’s investment business. Anyone who looked at Madoff’s returns and understood them could see he was running a Ponzi scheme; only one person who had understood them bothered to blow the whistle, and no one listened to him.” 

Occupy Wall Street is a collective exercise in whistleblowing. Judging from the number of ordinary folks stepping forward to describe how the American system has failed them OWS is asking us to recognize that the US economy has become a form of Ponzi scheme – where the wealthy 1 percent take money from the 99 percent with promises of returns that do not materialize. Sadly many of the 99 percent have been brainwashed to not listen to the grim truth. 

Americans entered the twenty-first century hypnotized by three basic tenets of Reagonomics: 1. Greed is good:helping the rich get richer would help everyone else, 2. The free market is your friend: global markets were inherently self correcting and therefore there was no need for government regulation; and 3. Government is your enemy: trust the market. 

Then came two calamities. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States. The message from Washington to the 99 percent was “we’ve got this handled; go on with your lives; don’t worry, keep shopping.” Then on September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers Investment Bank filed for bankruptcy triggering a financial meltdown. Once again the message from Washington to the 99 percent was “we’ve got this handled; go on with your lives; don’t worry, keep shopping.” 

The Reagan era sold the Ponzi scheme with its dogma that unrestrained self-interest ultimately benefitted everyone. But the Bush Administration took the same magical thinking to an absurd new level with its assertion that the US could engage in two wars and not pay for them. Then in 2008 the Bush White House told the biggest fib of all “we can’t hold any of the big banks responsible for the financial meltdown, because that would be bad for the economy, so we will bail them out but you, the average citizen, won’t be affected.” 

More than a decade of dreadful leadership has produced the current crisis: the US is broken financially and politically. But during the same period many Americans were lured into a “cult” that preached: “self-indulgence is good,” “government is bad,” “debt is good,” and “You can enjoy government services without paying for them.” While many of the 99 percent feel the current system is unfair they’re stuck in a state of conditioned helplessness. As a consequence, they won’t be able to take action until they are deprogrammed. 

Occupy Wall Street is a step in the right direction, but it won’t produce radical change until most of the 99 percent take control of their lives. That’s asking a lot. It’s unlikely to happen until conditions in the US get much worse. 

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

On Mental Illness: Relapses, Big and Small, Revisited

By Jack Bragen
Friday November 11, 2011 - 09:13:00 AM

Many people think that the main cause of relapse for a person with mental illness is noncompliance with taking medication. However, much of the time, persons with mental illness are doing everything they’re supposed to do (including taking medication, attending therapy, and being a participant in life) and yet a relapse still takes place. Furthermore, when noncompliance is a major factor in a relapse, it is not always something that happens on a mere whim. Often, the person with mental illness first deteriorated to an extent, and this led to the poor judgment of choosing noncompliance. A very large percentage of people with schizophrenia, possibly more than half, will have a relapse within a year of getting stabilized—and this is despite being medication compliant. 

In my case, stopping medication against medical advice always preceded a major relapse. I was able to stay well for about six years at a time until I finally had a lasting realization that I could not stop the medication. My last total relapse into psychosis was in the spring of 1996. I hope to never have another relapse of this kind. 

The experience of relapsing to psychosis and then coming back to tracking “reality” in a psychiatric hospital is like a chess player being checkmated, getting frustrated and knocking all the chess pieces off the checkered board. And then, another game can be played. (No, I am not under the misconception that that is how “real” chess players behave.) The comparison is like saying that the mind gets scrambled and then reset; the person with mental illness must in many ways start over. 

During my second to last relapse, in 1990, I experienced coming back to reality upon watching a videotape of the movie “Field of Dreams” that was being played in the psychiatric ward. The experience of watching a movie relaxed me and also took me off the delusional track of consciousness in order to follow the story. Staff told me that night that they could start planning for my release. 

I met the woman who would become my wife, Joanna, about a year before I experienced my most recent and hopefully last episode of severe psychosis. 

The relapse that I experienced in 1996 was devastating; I lost a lot of ground in my ability to do things that many people take for granted. Upon being re-medicated, my delusions didn’t clear up nearly as fast. I felt as though my mind was scrambled. The vulnerability made me the dupe of some people’s jokes. In the years since then, I have grown stronger. At the beginning I had to deliberately do a “retraining” to clear up a lot of my mind’s delusions. In the first six months that followed the relapse, I spent several hours per day sitting in the back room of my apartment with pads of paper and pens, a portable radio, and massive amounts of coffee and cigarettes. I did exercises to learn once again how to think. 

I came out of this training with more “marbles” than I originally had prior to the relapse. I don’t recommend the above process to anyone. For one thing, something that worked for me will probably not work for other people. Secondly, I continue to have other problems such as agoraphobia and sensitivity to getting stressed out. Furthermore, I began the retraining with considerable experience under my belt at meditating and at analyzing my own innards. Such a training as this doesn’t eliminate the need for medication. It merely installs “software” which is supported by a medicated and properly working brain. 

Upon middle age, the prospect of going off medication and relapsing becomes a serious threat to physical well-being. There are severe stresses on the body that take place during a psychotic episode; stresses that someone past thirty will not always survive. 

Relapsing and recovering is a huge setback from which it takes years, not months, to recover. However, it also provides an opportunity for relearning. It is not something you would voluntarily choose, any more than you would choose to have a car accident that gave you the near death experience that gave you new insights into life, but that also left you crippled. Relapses are best prevented, and being medication compliant is a part of how to accomplish that. 


Senior Power: Alone

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday November 11, 2011 - 09:24:00 AM

Living alone, in fiction, nonfiction and even children’s books, is generally regarded as unfortunate, something to be avoided. Being alone is assumed unpleasant, probably the result of misfortune. Aloneness is often associated with consolation, solitude, even secrecy 

Neuroscientist John T. Cacioppo contends that chronic loneliness is an unrecognized syndrome. In his 2008 book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, he relates it to depression and offers reasons for it.  

The first part of this column, then, is mostly about solitude vis-a-vis older and middle-aged people. 


Only-children (singletons)] often have a hard time and are likely to feel lonely, isolated and overwhelmed by their parents’ problems and to be accused of being spoiled. Their loneliness may carry over into adulthood.  

When we met as University of Chicago graduate students in 1954, I was impressed by a fellow International House resident, a middle-aged, never-married, career Army officer. Henry and his twin sister had been orphaned, but he considered that she too had done well, because she had married and was at home with children. Despite the distance, his vacations were spent with them. They were home for him, so he was not alone. (I had not yet recognized the possible sexism in his equating feminine success with marriage and children. 

Florida Pier was born in 1884 in Orange Park, Florida and educated at home. She grew up in Pittsburgh, and moved to New York at fifteen to become an actor. In 1910 she married John Scott-Maxwell and moved to her husband's native Scotland, where she worked for woman suffrage and as a playwright. They divorced in 1929 and she moved to London. An actor, writer of plays and short stories, and homemaker in her youth, at age fifty she began training as an analytical psychologist, studying with Swiss psychologist-psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961). She was in practice as an analytical psychologist in both England and Scotland, and she spent decades working as a therapist before she retired 

The Measure of My Days is Florida Pier Scott-Maxwell’s most well known book, usually the only one in public libraries’ collections. It is the private notebook of a remarkable woman of eighty-two encountering the challenge of old age. It was published in 1968. This collection of sensitive and perceptive journal entries documents experiences and emotions while alone in her eighties, and includes a time of ill health. 

Here’s a paragraph entry from The Measure of My Days that focuses on the positive side of living alone. Scott-Maxwell, a grandmother, is wondering if living alone makes her more alive. She believes it has made her more “natural.” She speaks of her “duty” not to be a problem for those who care for her. A few sentences later she questions, “I wonder if we need to be quite so dutiful.” She continues by speaking of a special feeling of life’s intensity and energy that she is experiencing in her eighties 

“I wonder if living alone makes one more alive. No precious energy goes in disagreement or compromise. No need to augment others, there is just yourself, just truth—a morsel—and you. You went through those long years when it was pain to be alone, now you have come out on the good side of that severe discipline Alone you have your own way all day long, and you become very natural. Perhaps this naturalness extends into heights and depths, going further than we know; as we cannot voice it we must just treasure it as the life that enriches our days. 

Later, she recalls a time when she had left her marriage. She begins to be aware of what every old woman knows.  

“After a time of trouble I found a likeable flat which was to be my home. I had had a long need of one, so it was also my dead shelter. My daughter and I moved in one evening with two suitcases two beds, three pots of bulbs, a kettle and tea things. … That was many years ago, but only last year I passed a supermarket and saw coming out a slut [slovenly] of a woman. She was fat, unwashed, unkempt in hair and dress, with a large three-cornered tear in her overall [smock]. She looked large-hearted and vital, and as our eyes met something passed between us, we liked each other. ..We know who we are even though we lack the precise name for it.” 

“I never understood myself less. The humid summer makes me listless, age empties me, and this nervous exhaustion proves me truly spent. I feel profound lassitude, yet I am not ill. If someone comes and I talked I call up energy that I do not possess, and I may pay for it with an aching head lasting two or three days. I must talk less, I must become laconic. A smile, a nod, how unlikely, yet excessive talk must be based on vanity, an assumption that you are the fountainhead of interest. Age insists that I be dull as a further disability. No one else will mind, perhaps not even notice. Others might prefer me silent. I will try.” 

Her experiences have led her to believe that “Age insists that I be dull as a further disability.” What do you think of her conclusion that she will try to be silent? 

Following hospitalization, surgery and a “nursing home,” she writes: 

“I had one fear. What if something went wrong, and I became an invalid? What if I became a burden, ceased to be a person and became a problem a patient, someone who could not die? That was my one fear, but my changes were reasonably good, so all was simple and settled and out of my hands. Being ill in a nursing home became my next task, a somber dance in which I knew some of the steps. I must conform. I must be correct. I must be meek, obedient and grateful, on no account must I be surprising. If I deviated by the breadth of a toothbrush, I would be wrong.” 

What do you think of Scott-Maxwell’s apparent willingness to be “meek, obedient and grateful”? Would she celebrate November as National Caregivers Month? 


Go to Google. Type: Alameda County Area Agency on Aging 

The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is the local arm of the national aging network. Federal, state, local governments, not-for-profit as well as for profit private agencies work together to advance the social and economic health and well being of elders (60 and over) in Alameda County. The AAA is based in the Alameda County Social Services Agency’s Department of Adult & Aging Services at 6955 Foothill Boulevard, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94605. It provides free Information & Assistance by telephone (1-800-510-2020 or 510-577-3530).  

The Advisory Commission on Aging (ACA), made up of representatives concerned about the needs and interests of elders in Alameda County, and appointed by the Board of Supervisors, the Conference of Mayors, and the ACA, works with AAA staff to develop, plan, and administer programs designed to assist elders and their caregivers in the county. I served on the ACA, while AAA staffer Louis Labat was its coordinator. In the August 17, 2010 Senior Power column, I reported on his retirement experiences 

Every four years, the AAA prepares an Area Plan that directs the provision of services provided by community-based organizations for seniors.  

Periodically, it conducts a Needs Assessment includes surveys that seniors (60+) fill out, consumer focus meetings with seniors (over 55), and key informant meetings with providers and other groups that work with seniors. The information from all of these activities is assembled and compiled in a publication that provides a detailed look at the demographics, issues and concerns of seniors in our community. The information is shared and is used to inform the development of planning for and providing services for seniors throughout the county. A wide response to the survey is necessary. You can assist by completing it online

The Alameda County Area Agency on Aging also conducts focus groups attended by persons involved in providing services to the aging. I sat in on a Focus group last week led by Lisa Ho with Belinda LLaguno, who will be updating our Area Plan demographic data. Participants were asked three main questions: 

1. What services or systems are currently working well for older adults in Alameda County? 

2. What are the most critical unmet needs for older adults to help them live independently at home? 

3. What other possible new services of partnerships can be fostered to address the unmet needs of older adults living in Alameda County? 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events that may interest boomers, elders and seniors (define these any way you like!) Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. 12 Noon. Beef Bowl Anime Club meeting for adults. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Monday, Nov. 14, 11:30 A.M. & 12 Noon. J-Sei Center, 110 Carleton St., Berkeley. Lecture “Do You Have the Right Insurance?” Speaker: Darrell Doi-CLTC Financial Advisor. To place a reservation for the lecture and/or lunch, call 510-883-1106. 

Monday, Nov. 14. 12:30 P.M. – 1:30P.M. Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum: Bob Lewis, Birds of the Bay Trail cosponsored by Albany YMCA and Albany library at 1257 Marin Av. 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Monday, Nov. 14. 7 P.M. The Greek Isles-- History and Travel. Laura Bushman will talk about and present a slide show depicting the white washed villages overlooking the Aegean Sea. She will also address, briefly, the current economic condition in Greece.  

Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesday, Nov. 15 is Annual National Memory Screening Day. http:///www.nationalmemoryscreening.org

Tuesday, Nov. 15. 1 P.M. Falls Prevention Discussion Group. Senior Injury Prevention Project. Participants will receive a Falls Prevention Manual and other useful, easy to read information. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Tuesday, Nov. 15. 7 P.M. Author Showcase. Annette Fuentes, investigative reporter and author of Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse, is an op ed contributor to USA Today. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. 510-526-7512. 

Wednesday, Nov. 16. 11 A.M. Outreach Specialist Colleen Fawley (510-981-6160) will visit J-Sei Senior Center, 1710 Carleton Way, Berkeley, to answer questions and take requests for books and magazines available from the Berkeley Public Library in Japanese and English. 510-883-1106. 

Wednesday, Nov. 16. 12:15-1 P.M. The Nocturne. Faculty Recital: Louise Bidwell, Piano. Nocturnes by J. Field, Chopin, C. Schumann, M. Szymanowska, and Fanny  

Mendelssohn. Free. UC,B Hertz Concert Hall, free. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Nov. 16. 7 – 8 P.M. Adult Evening Book Group. Facilitated discussion . Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av., 510-526-3720.  

Thursday, Nov 17. 10 A.M. – 12 Noon. Free dental consultation with Dr. Alfred Chongwill. By appointment only. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Thursday, Nov. 17. 12:30 P.M. Birthday Celebration. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Thursday, Nov. 17. 1:30 P.M. Volunteer Instructor William Sturm presents “Musical Grab-Bag” medley of pieces by composers discussed in the Music Appreciation Class for 2011. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Saturday, Nov. 19. 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. Friends of the Albany Library Book Sale, 1247 Marin Av. Includes sales of collectibles and holiday items as well as books. Please do not bring donations the week prior to the sale. 510-526-3720 x 16. Also Sunday, Nov. 20 11 A.M. – 4 P.M. 

Saturday, Nov. 19. 11 A.M. Landlord/Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6241. 

Sunday, Nov. 20. 1:30P.M. Book Into Film. An Education. From a chapter of Lynn Barber’s 2009 memoir of the same title. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Free, but registration is required. 510-6148. 

Tuesday, Nov. 22. 3 P.M. Tea and Cookies. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6236.  

Wednesday, Nov. 23. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Great Books Discussion Group: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Nov. 23. 1:30 P.M. Gray Panthers’ monthly meeting. At the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-981-5190, 548-9696. 

Monday, Nov. 28. 2 – 3:30 P.M. “Vigee-LeBrun:Woman Artist in an Age of Revolution” presentation by Brigit Urmson. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506. 

Monday, Nov. 28. 7 P.M. Book Club. Silas Marner by George Eliot . Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free event. 510-524-3043. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 

Wednesday, Nov. 30. 12:15-1 P.M. Gamelan Music of Java and Bali. Performed by classes directed by Midiyanto and I Dewa Putu Berata, with Ben Brinner and Lisa Gold. UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Free. 510-642-4864. 




Monday, Dec. 5. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" Knitting Group. Kensington Library, 

61 Arlington Ave. Free. 510-524-3043. An evening of knitting, show and tell and yarn exchange. All levels welcome. Some help will be provided.  

Wednesday, Dec. 7. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Llibrary, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.  

Monday, Dec. 19. 7 P.M. Book Club. Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Tey is known as the mystery writer for those who don’t like mysteries! Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free event. 510-524-3043. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 

Wednesday, Dec. 28. Great Books Discussion Group. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Holiday lunch and selection discussin. 510-526-3720 x 16. 











Wild Neighbors: The Incredible Non-shrinking Birds

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 09:36:00 AM
Local white-crowned sparrow: getting larger?
Ingrid Taylar
Local white-crowned sparrow: getting larger?

Have you noticed that songbirds are getting bigger? Good. Neither had I. But it’s happening, according to an article by PRBO Conservation Science biologist Rae Goodman and colleagues recently published online by the journal Global Change Biology. (Has enough time elapsed that we don’t have to say “formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory” any more? These people may have a branding problem; maybe they should hire another consultant, or try a contest.) The differences are subtle; we’re not talking about chicken-sized song sparrows. They are, however, measurable and consistent—and may be related to global warming, if in an unexpected way. 

The data Goodman et al analyzed came from long-term bird banding records at two locations: 40 years for the Palomarin Field Station down the road from Bolinas, 27 for the Coyote Creek Field Station near Alviso in the South Bay. Combining both data sets, wing length of banded birds has steadily increased at a rate of .024 to .084 percent per year. (I told you it was subtle.) Changes in body mass were not always significant, but when they were the trend was similar to wing length: .040 to .112 percent per year. 

It would be reasonable to wonder if the wing-length trend, at least, had something to do with migratory behavior. Apparently not: there was no difference between the rates of change in long-distance and short-distance migrant species, or between local breeders and those that nested north of the banding sites. 

Both trends came as a surprise. “It’s one of those moments where you ask, ‘What’s happening here?’’ said San Francisco State biologist Gretchen LeBuhn, a co-author. That’s mainly because they ran counter to other studies, most in Europe and the Middle East but one in Pennsylvania, that appeared to demonstrate size decreases in a similar range of bird species. And that result made sense in terms of Bergman’s Rule. 

Bergman’s Rule (note that it isn’t quite a law), named for the 19th-century German biologist Karl Georg Lucas Christian Bergmann, holds that within a given species of warm-blooded vertebrate, subspecies from cold climates tend to be larger-bodied than subspecies from warm climates. Why? The ratio of surface area to body weight decreases as body weight increases, so a large body loses proportionately less heat than a small one. The song sparrow provides a good illustration of Bergman’s Rule: the subspecies in the Aleutians is a relative monster, although still not chicken-sized. 

So the association between warmer climate and shrinking birds was intuitive. If natural selection had been favoring large-bodied individuals better able to survive the rigors of cold regions, warming would reduce the selection pressure. More runts would live to adulthood, breed, and pass along their small-body genes. They might even have an adaptive advantage over their large-bodied relatives, in which case the proportion of small-bodied individuals in the population would increase. It’s classic microevolution. 

But why would birds in the Bay Area, which is warming along with the rest of the state, buck the trend? Remember that climate change isn’t just a matter of the mercury rising. It also involves an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events: winter storms, floods, droughts. Maybe larger-bodied birds are able to build up larger fat reserves to see them through extreme climatic events. Maybe change is increasing the nutritional value of the birds’ food, either plants or plant-eating insects. 

That’s what the authors speculate, at least. Their article doesn’t address the wing-length increase at all. Maybe the trait is genetically linked with body mass. Maybe not. 

It would be nice to know what species are represented in these data sets. That information, unfortunately, is in a spreadsheet that I couldn’t persuade UC’s computers to open. All I can tell you from the article itself is that the seasonal highs were 45 species in spring at Palomarin and 38 in spring at Coyote Creek. The extent of overlap is unknown. 

I suspect the piece will fly below the radar of the climate change denialists. We shouldn’t be that surprised if not all the biological trends associated with global warming are in the same direction. Nobody ever said it would be simple.

Dispatches From the Edge: Playing With Fire In Korea

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 10:35:00 AM

Why is the Obama Administration creating obstacles and throwing cold water on talks with North Korea, and why is it binding itself to right-wing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, whose politics just took a shellacking in the recent race for mayor of Seoul?

The answer seems to be a convergence of U.S. concerns over the growing power of China, a desperate battle by American arms manufacturers to fend off military budget cuts, and a fantasy by President Lee of a uniting the Korean Peninsula under the banner of the South. 

Consider the following: 

The day after Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special envoy on North Korea, described two days of talks in Geneva between the Americans and North Koreans as “very positive and generally constructive,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dismissed the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough. “I guess the word skepticism would be in order at this time as to what may or may not happen in those discussions.” 

Panetta was in Seoul as part of a weeklong swing through Asia firming up U.S. alliances in the region. The Secretary not only blew off the talks, he threatened the use of atomic weapons. The U.S. he said “will insure a strong and effective nuclear umbrella over the ROK [Republic of Korea] so that Pyongyang never misjudges our will and capacity to respond decisively to nuclear aggression.” 

Unless it is raining, President Lee is a dangerous guy to whom to hand an umbrella. According to the Guardian (UK), a Wiki leak cable from the U.S. Embassy says “Lee’s more conservative advisors and supporters sees the current standoff as a genuine opportunity to push and further weaken the North, even if this might involve considerable brinkmanship.” 

According to Peter Lee in the Asia Times, “Lee’s dream” is of “unifying the entire peninsula and its population of 75 million under the banner of the democratic, capitalist South in alliance with the United States, replacing Japan as the primary U.S. security and economic partner, and confronting China with the prospect of a major pro-western power on its doorstep while reaching out to the sizable Korean minority in China’s northeastern provinces.” 

While at first glance Lee’s “dream” would seem more poppy-induced than policy driven, South Korean -U.S. joint maneuvers have war gamed scenarios that envision a North Korean collapse and a subsequent intervention by Washington and Seoul. In August of last year, an 11-day drill involving 56,000 South Koreans and 30,000 Americans—Ulchi Freedom Guardian— practiced exactly that. 

According to the Korea Times, Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, the exercise was aimed at responding “to various types of internal instability in North Korea,” which is a rather different mission than the one that Panetta was talking about during his Seoul visit. 

And the North is not the only target in these exercises. 

During a visit to Italy in October, Panetta said, “We’re concerned about China. The most important thing we can do is to project our force into the Pacific—to have our carriers there, to have our fleet there, to be able to make very clear to China that we are going to protect international rights to be able to move across the oceans freely.” 

Coincidently, naval forces, with their $5 billion aircraft carriers, numerous support vessels, submarines, and high tech aircraft are expensive, big-ticket items that arms companies are fighting to keep in the military budget. 

The month before the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill, the U.S. and South Korea carried out a major naval exercise in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea that included the aircraft carrier George Washington Certainly China had no illusions about the objective of the war game. “In history, foreign invaders repeatedly took the Yellow Sea as an entrance to enter the heartland of Beijing and Tianjin,” said Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan, deputy secretary general of the Academy of Military Science. “The drill area is only 500 kilometers away from Beijing,” adding a metaphor from Mao that seems to lose something in the translation: “We will never allow others to keep snoring beside our bed.” 

It was the second time in less than a year that an American carrier had taken part in maneuvers in an area China considers a “military zone.” 

Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have continually put pre-conditions on any negotiations with the north, including ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and accepting responsibility for the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in September, 2010 that killed 46 sailors. 

This past January when Kim Jong-il said Pyongyang was “ready to meet anyone anytime anywhere,” U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that before any talks, North Korea “needs to demonstrate its sincerity” by getting rid of its nuclear weapons and admitting to culpability in the Cheonan incident. 

A delegation to North Korea aimed at easing tensions, featuring former president Jimmy Carter, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former Irish president Mary Robinson and ex-Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, was ignored by Washington and dismissed by South Korean Foreign minister Kim Sung-Hwan as a “purely personal” trip. 

According to Seoul, the Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, but that conclusion is hardly a slam-dunk. The team of “international experts” that examined the evidence was handpicked by the South Korean military, and Russian and Chinese experts who examined the evidence are not convinced. Indeed, a poll commissioned by Seoul University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies found that only 32.5 percent of South Koreans were confident in the findings. 

North Korea is hardly going to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons while its two major enemies are designing war games to “stabilize” Pyongyang in the advent of major unrest. The recent NATO bombing of Libya certainly caught the attention of the North Koreans, who essentially said that it would never have happened if the Gaddafi regime had not abandoned its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Libya is “teaching the international community a grave lesson” an unnamed Foreign Ministry official told the Korean Central News, “The truth that one should have power to defend peace.” 

South Korean President Lee and the U.S. have put the onus for current standoff with North Korea on China. “I think China can do more to try to get North Korea to do the right thing,” argued Panetta, while Lee said he hoped that “China will continue to play an important role in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and leading North Korea to reform and openness.” 

According to the New York Times, President Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao that unless Beijing took a “harder line” toward North Korea, the U.S. would increase its buildup of military forces in Northeast Asia. 

There is no question that Beijing has influence in Pyongyang—China is North Korea’s main trading partner—but the theory that the Chinese can simply dictate to the North Koreans is a myth. In any case, since China is convinced that the U.S. military buildup in Asia is directed at them, not impoverished North Korea, why would Beijing expend political capital to aid potential adversaries? 

The North Korean regime is an odd duck, with a system of succession more akin to the 12th century than the 21st, and a penchant for bombastic rhetoric. But is it a threat to other countries in the region? By the terms of a 1953 treaty, the U.S. would come to South Korea’s defense if the North attacked, and the Pyongyang government is well aware of what would happen to it in a confrontation with the U.S. 

If the U.S. is seriously interested in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, it should ratchet down its joint war games with South Korea and stop threatening to use nuclear weapons on China’s doorstep. The U.S. may view North Korea’s nukes as destabilizing, but it was not Pyongyang that introduced nuclear weapons into the region, but the Americans. 

The six-party talks, which collapsed in April 2009, may or may not resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, but they are the only game in town. Instead of throwing up roadblocks, and casting its lot with the increasingly unpopular South Korean president, the Obama administration should be pressing to reopen the discussions as a way to dampen tensions in the region and bring the North Koreans to the table. 

Read Conn Hallinan at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com, and middleempireseries.wordpress.com

Eclectic Rant: Time for the Super Committee to Bite the Bullet

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 10:27:00 AM

Maybe it is time for Americans to contact the members of the Super Committee to demand that its recommendations include raising taxes on the rich with that money to be used to provide relief for those Americans on the bottom of the economic pile, and no cuts in Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs. A failure by the Super Committee to compromise will be just another symbol of a failed government. 

As we now know, the compromise debt ceiling law (“The Budget Control Act of 2011”) created a bi-partisan, 12-member special joint committee -- the “Super Committee” -- with the goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years, from spending cuts or tax revenue. It will take seven of the twelve members to approve any recommendations. 

The special committee must report a bill with its recommendations by November 23, 2011. The recommendations would then have to be voted on by the full House and Senate under special rules. If the joint committee or Congress fail to act by December 23, 2011, the Act calls for automatic across-the-board cuts, split 50-50 between defense and non-defense spending.  

The Act also requires the House and Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would require a 2/3 majority in both houses. That vote must take place by December 31, 2011.  

The Super Committee could ask for an extension of time to report a bill with its recommendations 

The Super Committee members are: Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) Co-Chair; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wa) Co-Chair; Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT); Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI); Rep. James Clybum (D-SC); Sen. John Kerry (D-MA); Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH); Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA); Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI); and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). 

According to a Bloomberg-Washington Post national poll conducted October 6-9, more than two-thirds of all Americans back higher taxes on the rich and an even larger number think Medicare and Social Security benefits should be left alone. And 53 percent of self-identified Republicans back an increase in taxes on households making more than $250,000. It should be noted that Hensarling, Kyl , Toomey, and Camp are on record as no-taxers, who along with the GOP presidential candidates and the Tea Party, seem at odds with the American people. 

Unfortunately, the Tea Party-supported members of Congress became beholden to the Tea Party platform, which in part means no new taxes even if the taxes are on the rich.. House members are up for election every two years. Thus, a vote for taxes on the rich by Republican members of the Super Committee would probably lose them Tea Party support in the next election..  

Thus, the chances of new taxes on the rich and closing tax loopholes will be difficult for the Republican members to support. Thus, across the board cuts will be the likely result, which will probably mean more reductions in the safety nets for the poor, unemployed, the elderly, and the sick. 

Many experts are warning of disastrous consequences if the Super Committee fails, including a repeat of last summer’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, a possible double-dip recession, increased market instability, a lost decade of economic growth, at least a 10 percent reduction in defense and non-defense discretionary spending (Medicare and Social Security are not discretionary spending), and a setback for any hope of future deficit reductions. 

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just nine percent of likely U.S. Voters rate the job Congress is doing as good or excellent. Sixty-three percent view Congress’ job performance as poor. It is high time for Congress to raise its approval rating by finally working together to find a compromise solution to this country’s economic troubles. It begins with the Super Committee. I am as always hopeful, but not optimistic.

Arts & Events

Comprehensive William Keith Art Exhibit At Saint Mary’s

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 11, 2011 - 12:29:00 PM
A bust of William Keith is grouped with several of his smaller, gold framed, paintings, in the exhibit.
Steven Finacom
A bust of William Keith is grouped with several of his smaller, gold framed, paintings, in the exhibit.
A succession of green-walled galleries display 120 works of art by California’s master landscape painter, William Keith, through December 18.
Steven Finacom
A succession of green-walled galleries display 120 works of art by California’s master landscape painter, William Keith, through December 18.

With “Occupy” movements currently agitating our very urban inner Bay Area turf, it’s perhaps a strange time to think about bucolic landscapes. But there’s a good reason to switch mental gears, at least for a few hours, in the next month.

The expanded and renamed museum at St. Mary’s College of California is hosting a splendid exhibit of the artwork of William Keith the prolific, famed California landscape painter—and once-notable Berkeley resident, I should add—of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The exhibit, entitled “The Comprehensive Keith”, commemorates the centennial of the death of the painter in April 1911. It runs through December 18 and features well over one hundred of his oil paintings and some watercolors. Most are landscapes, but there’s also a selection of his lesser-known portrait paintings. 

William Keith grew up in the same part of Scotland as John Muir where both were born in 1838. But they didn’t meet and become friends until 1872 when Keith went to Yosemite with a letter of introduction to Muir.  

Keith captured in paintings what Muir expressed in words—the magnificence of the California landscape. The Sierra and the then-largely undeveloped countryside around San Francisco Bay gave Keith many of the settings for his best-known works of art—grand scenes of nature, sprinkled for scale with human influences—a few figures, a group of cattle, a wood cabin. 

St. Mary’s has what is believed to be “the world’s most comprehensive collection of William Keith paintings” (185 works), thanks to Brother Cornelius, one of the faculty, who discovered Keith art in 1908 and became an avid collector, promoter and, later, the definitive biographer, of the painter. 

In the exhibit you experience several stages of the development of Keith’s artistic style. First, as a younger artist he prolifically participated in the realistic recording of the amazing natural wonders of the West in paintings—some truly heroic in size—that carefully chronicled scenes down to individual leaves on an oak tree or the petals on a poppy. 

His later art turns more impressionistic. The natural settings and detail are still recognizable, but conveyed in a much looser form. You could put some of these paintings anonymously in a show of Impressionist Masters and they would fit right in and very favorably compare.  

Finally, as his skill and ability matured, Keith produced what is perhaps the most popularly recognized form of his art today—moody, evocative, landscapes, often drenched in shadow or light and focused down from mountain ranges and sweeping panoramas to the more intimate level of a forest glade, a mountain hillside, a meadow.  

The quintessential Keith painting in this later era is a orange red sunset glowing through mysterious woodland, and there are a number of examples in the exhibit—but there are also scenes I didn’t know Keith had painted, such as the wonderfully titled “Joy Comes With Morning”, where white light floods through what looks like a redwood grove along a stream, or paintings of Alaska scenes. 

There are other spectacular pieces that kept drawing my attention as I wandered through the exhibit. Keith painted marvelous skies and clouds. “After The Storm” from 1896 looks down a partially wooded vale at a distant landscape—overhead there’s blue sky to the left, shading into puffy clouds, then the trailing edge of a gray downpour, all depicted with amazing ability. 

Keith executed thousands of paintings in his career. What’s as impressive is that after many of the paintings he had sold—and his entire San Francisco studio—were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, he sat right down and started creating a whole body of both replacement and new work. 

Much of that painting was done in his Berkeley studio and home, which stood on Atherton Street, where Edwards Track Stadium is now located and where he lived with his second wife, Mary McHenry Keith.  

Is her name familiar to Berkeleyans? It should be. A pioneering woman lawyer in California, she was an ardent women’s suffrage advocate. It seems a tragedy that one of her political triumphs—the passage of votes for women in California in October, 1911—came just a few months after her husband died. 

There are a number of named or recognizably likely Berkeley scenes in the exhibit including one of Strawberry Creek and others of the Berkeley Hills. Keith was a regular walker through the Berkeley campus, taking the train back and forth from Downtown to the San Francisco ferries.  

If you’ve hurried or strolled through the Grinnell Natural Area on the campus following the footpath up from Center Street—well, that’s where Keith walked, too, a century and more ago. 

The exhibit also includes some three dimensional items associated with Keith, including a Japanese bell he kept in his studio and a massively scaled wooden desk believed to have come from his Berkeley home. 

Although 120 paintings may seem like a lot to take in at one viewing, the exhibit can easily be wandered in an hour or less. 

There’s also a pricey ($45) but detailed soft cover book about Keith and his art available in the Museum gift shop. 

The recently enlarged and renamed Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art (formerly the Hearst Art Gallery) is tucked away in the back of the country campus in Moraga. It’s not a long drive past the Caldecott Tunnel. Find your way from Highway 24 to the appropriately named Saint Mary’s Road, and follow it to the campus entrance at 1928. 

Staff at the entrance / security kiosk can give you directions to parking adjacent to the Museum. Admission is a modest $5 per person, and the Museum is open 11:00 to 4:30, Wednesday through Sunday. 

In addition to the Keith exhibit, there are two other small gallery spaces with varied displays. 

The Museum website is here

Around & About Music: Opera Lab's reading of Massenet's 'Sapho'; Greenlief, Kjaerkgaard, Perkis--and Empty cage--at Berkeley Arts Festival; Dazzling Divas at Bateau Ivre

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 11:30:00 AM

—Massenet's 'Sapho' will receive a staged reading by Opera Lab, its cast of singers accompanied by Robert Ashens, this Sunday at 3 at the Chapel of the Chimes, 4496 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Sung in French with explanatory commentary. Refreshments will be served. Free. Donations requested. Reservations (space limited): operalab@rocketmail.com

—Sunday night, Berkeley Arts Festival will feature the trio of Phillip Greenlief, tenor saxophone; Soren Kjaerkgaard, prepared piano; and Tim Perkis, electronics at 8, followed by Empty Cage--Jason Meers, saxophone & clarinet; Kris Tiner, trumpet; Ivan Johnson, bass; Paul Kikuchi, drums, at 9. $10. 2133 University Avenue by Ace Hardware (near Shattuck) berkeleyartsfestival.com
—The Dazzling Divas--Pamela Connelly, Kathleen Moss and Eliza O'Malley, accompanied by Hadley Mc Carroll--return to the Bateau Ivre next Wednsday, November 16, 7-9, with arias and duets from Puccini, Verdi, Bellini, Bizet and Delibes--plus a new trio from Mozart. No cover. 2629 Telegraph. 849-1100

Reviews: The Residents' Randy Rose at the Marsh; 'The Internationalist': Just Theater at Ashby Stage

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 12:08:00 PM

—An old bum in a trench coat and hat, a spray of white hair under the brim, steers his walker—smiley-face helium balloon floating above—through the audience towards the stage at The Marsh, Berkeley ... With the grudging help of a deadpan pianist, the arriviste starts to talk, then sing, croon, put on a show—a kind of manic geriatric cabaret, but not the type you see indoors, at least not on a stage; maybe in the mirror of a furnished room ... 

It's Randy Rose, lead singer for The Residents, the SF band shrouded in mystery over the past few decades, performing in clubs, museums, auditoriums where the audience can't see their faces. The Residents are presenting this show Randy wrote and performs, 'Sam's Enchanted Evening, A Dark & Dreamy Song Cycle'—a kind of homage to or impersonation of his old friend Sam, who's seen much better days, as well as worse—and tells us about them—as he in turn impersonates, does homage to the music he grew up, went to college and to war on, from Bo Diddley through Sinatra to the Rolling Stones, with plenty of everything else in between thrown in, blues to pop, lounge, protofunk, and back to rock. 

Jim Cave has directed Randy with contrapuntal sensitivity, bringing a completeness to Sam's meandering story of his life and transient loves—his one true love perhaps his Pontiac—as he grows up privileged and white in the South, hangs out listening to the blues and R&B, flunks out and takes it on the chin, sent to Vietnam. At first something of a lark, Southeast Asia goes black with his tale of once again being singled out, becoming a kind of Ishmael ... 

Meanwhile, he grimaces, gesticulates, exhorts the impassive pianist, prances stiffly, croons, shouts, spits out the songs that have traveled with him in a closet stadium show, sans band but nobly followed on the ivories by Residents faithful Joshua Raoul Brody, who gets to comp creatively to Sam's gruff delivery of the tunes. 

A little Grand Guignol before it's over, in true Residents fashion, as Sam hits the road—and the bottle—again. 

Thursdays & Fridays at 8, Saturday at 8:30 through November 26. 2120 Allston Way (near Shattuck). Thursdays, $15-$20; Fridays-Saturdays: $20-$35 (sliding scales). Reserved seating: $50. (415) 826-5750; themarsh.org 

* * * 

—Jet-lagged, sans travel guide and phrase book, business emissary Lowell gravitates towards a sign with his name on it, held up by a statuesque beauty in the airport—and right away finds himself doing a little dance of contrition, in Anne Washburn's 'The Internationalist,' staged by Just Theater, in its West Coast premiere at Ashby Stage. With Pay What You Can at the door, it's the best deal in town by a little company that consistently puts good work onstage. 

"Would you like a cigarette?" —"I don't smoke." —You could hold it ... " 

Rebounding off what he's told in English by the locals—"Yes, they have some English," his lovely contact tells him in perfect English ("more perfect than yours, maybe") ... "They're just not happy about it."—he finds himself gawking uncomfortably as they switch gears and race on in their own tongue. Throughout the play, Lowell—and the audience—will never be quite sure where he is, what he's hearing—or what's expected of him. And the emotional center he raggedly pursues seems just as elusive. 

His well-appointed contact turns out to be an office girl; the politics of the workplace are opaque—or obtuse. Neither business nor sightseeing nor fraternizing with the locals—or going native—seems to wash out that funny taste ... 

Romance in any sense of the word is provisional and nuanced, oddly self-conscious, in this unnamed land. Lowell's told of a scenic spot: "The Nazis loved this bar. It a great view ... and every now and then, the bartender would poison a Nazi!" 

Awkward and witty, the dialogue—in two tongues, much of it rattled off by the fluent cast (in seemingly a Central European blend—maybe more of coffee or tobacco than words)—and gestures, either oddly reserved or absurd, are made quite stageworthy by the excellent cast—Nick Sholley as Lowell; Alexandra Creighton as Sara, his first contact; Michael-Barrett Austin, Loren Bloom, Kalli Johnson and Harold Pierce as the arcane office staff, as well as various street people and ethnic "types"—all directed with finesse by Jonathan Spector. 

Spector also directed Washburn's 'I Have Loved Strangers' at the City Club a few years ago, a splendid production which featured some of the same company members onstage. 'The Internationalist' is not quite so absorbing; entertaining enough, but not as fleshed out, not as much of a play. Though amusing, the first half indulges in a variation of the English Speaker Abroad kind of humor, common enough in movies and on television the past couple of decades or so. The dialogue carries the show so far with its cockeyed wit, its signature. 

The play takes a markedly theatrical turn in the second half, with Lowell engaging in a frustrated, mean-spirited soliloquy, about cultures that win and lose, in the mirror while shaving—and hears Sara's fleeting voice begging the question ... After wandering sight-seeing (""The things they did to saints. The saints must have been really really annoying"), wading through chance meetings with locals, there's an encounter and odd conversation with a colleague in maybe the same scenic bar Sara told Lowell about, something as ambiguous—or more so—as a good scene in a spy movie, strange and droll, all under the fixed grin of the mustachioed bartender. 

The lingering almost-connection between Sara and Lowell's also ambiguous ... "You said, the other night at dinner that it would be a gift for me to speak to you truthfully," he reminds her. "I wanted you to be truthful then, at that moment," she replies, "but it wasn't a carte blanche." 

Swinging back and forth between moods, like the jetlag Lowell suffers from—and maybe a form of vertigo from an exasperated ego—'The Internationalist' offers one moment, seductively, a hint of romance, of escape—and the next, insouciantly, glibness and incomprehension, international business-as-unusual. 

Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (across from Ashby BART). Thursdays-Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5. Pay What You Can at the door; advance sales: sliding scale, $15-$30. 306-1184; justtheater.org

Around & About Theater: "Cracked Clown'--David A.Moss at the East Bay Media Center; 'Shoot O'Malley Twice'--Virago Theater; Gesture Vocabularies, lecture & video on mudras in Indian ritual & traditional theater at UCB

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 12:19:00 PM

—David Moss, a talented performer on Bay Area stages over the past decade and more, will reprise his show 'Cracked Clown' Friday & Saturday the 11th & 12th at 8 p. m., the same show that sold out here in August, at the East Bay Media Center, which has initiated a live performance series over the past few months. 1939 Addison, just west of Milvia, in the Berkeley Arts District. $12. 843-3646; eastbaymediacenter.com 

—Virago Theatre, co-founded by Berkeley residents, usually producing in Alameda, is staging the premiere of local playwright Jon Brooks' 'Shoot O'Malley Twice' at Stagewerx 446 in downtown San Francisco. Brooklyn Dodgers vs. NY Giants—for the last time—1957; Robert Moses, a psychic & the Savannah Kid. Directed by Angela Dant. 553 Sutter, just west of Powell. $15-$20. (510) 865-6237; viragotheatre.org 

—Gestural Vocabularies, a lecture with a 10-minute video of Kathakali performed, will be presented, free, at Dwinelle Hall #370 on the UC campus, Tuesday the 14th, 5-7 p. m. Kalamandalam M. P. Sankaram, former principal of the great Kathakali school, and Kunju Vasudevan, visting scholar at Butler University, will talk about the complex, grammatical gestural vocabularies of mudra, in Vedic ritual, Kootiyattam theater (dating from the 10th century) and the colorful, better-known Kathakali, which dates from the 17th century, texts from the Mahabhurata & Ramayana sung as non-speaking, heavily made-up & costumed actor-dancers move & gesture in mudras to drumming. 642-3608; berkeley.edu/events

Fred Frith at the Berkeley Arts Festival on Friday: 11.11.11 Cosmic Portal Transit Date!

Wednesday November 09, 2011 - 12:48:00 PM

Improvisations conjured by Fred Frith; roaming drunken shaman expelling high-end drugstore vibrations on a mystical pocket fm radio and guitar along with Theresa Wong; cave dwelling amateur magician and high priestess of the vocal disorder meet in trio for the first time with court jester and pianist, Søren Kjærgaard to channel anything, everything and sometimes nothing through spirited sonic outbreaks. 

Fred Frith (guitar), Theresa Wong (cello/voice) with special guest from Copenhagen, Denmark, Sren Kjrgaard (piano)2133 University Avenue