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Low Level of Pollution after Chevron Fire

By Bay City News
Tuesday August 07, 2012 - 11:05:00 PM

Despite a thick cloud of smoke covering a good portion of western Contra Costa County from a fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond on Monday night, the air quality was minimally impacted, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 

The air district inspectors collected samples of the air and tested them in the district's lab, finding pollution levels well below the federal health standards, the air district said in a statement. 

"Surface winds were light and heat pushed the smoke upwards where stronger winds helped disperse it," the statement said. 

The Contra Costa County Health Services tests to track hydrogen sulfate and volatile organic compounds both came up negative, said a health services spokeswoman. 

Air samples were taken by health services officials, but test results were not available as of 5 p.m., she said. 

The three-alarm fire broke out at 4 Crude Unit at about 6:30 p.m. and was burning strong before it was contained just before 11 p.m. 

More than 500 people - more than 300 at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo and 200-plus at Kaiser Permanente in Richmond - were treated for respiratory issues.

Press Release: Chevron Fire Information for Berkeley Residents

From Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, City of Berkeley Information Officer
Monday August 06, 2012 - 11:39:00 PM

There is a fire at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond. There is a shelter-in-place order for Richmond, North Richmond, and San Pablo. 

There is currently no shelter-in-place order for Berkeley. Berkeley’s Public Health and Toxic’s Divisions recommend that people who smell smoke, even if not in a shelter-in-place area, should stay inside with windows and doors closed, and air conditioners turned off. This is especially important for people with respiratory conditions. Concerned residents may want to follow the same precautions overnight tonight, even without smelling smoke. 

All residents are advised to avoid the shelter-in-place areas until the shelter-in-place advisory is lifted. Smoke can cause eye, throat, and respiratory irritation and can aggravate breathing problems such as asthma. Anyone experiencing acute respiratory symptoms should seek medical attention promptly. 

More information is available at: 

Contra Costa County health department: http://cchealth.org/ 

Bay Area Air Quality Management District: http://www.baaqmd.gov/Public-Notices.aspx 

Shelter-in-Place instructions: http://cchealth.org/emergencies/shelter-in-place.php

Eye-Witness Comes Forward In People's Park Dog Slaying

By Ted Friedman
Saturday August 04, 2012 - 09:23:00 AM
Give peace a chance. Peace grove, People's Park, where dog-owners are asking. who's dog will be gunned down next.
Ted Friedman
Give peace a chance. Peace grove, People's Park, where dog-owners are asking. who's dog will be gunned down next.
What U.C. cop might have seen the night of the dog slaying, except that it was after midnight and the dead dog's owner was passed-out drunk, reportedly without a sleeping bag--untethered leash.
Ted Friedman
What U.C. cop might have seen the night of the dog slaying, except that it was after midnight and the dead dog's owner was passed-out drunk, reportedly without a sleeping bag--untethered leash.
Whose dog will be next?
Ted Friedman
Whose dog will be next?
People's Park dogs frolic in the park Thursday.
Ted Friedman
People's Park dogs frolic in the park Thursday.
Notice the leash, but is this dog endangered?
Ted Friedman
Notice the leash, but is this dog endangered?

In the aftermath of the alleged murder of a dog in People's Park last week, the whole doggone incident continues to arouse the passions of park regulars and Medheads at the nearby Cafe Mediterraneum, and an eye-witness has come forward. 

The eye-witness was parked across from the shooting, not more than six yards from the dog slaying. The eye-witness account casts into doubt other accounts by nearby witnesses, who claim the dead dog, Dude, six months old, was leashed to its owner and no threat to the cop who killed him. 

Although the eye-witness did not witness the dog shooting, he was on the scene within minutes. According to the witness the dead dog's owner was so drunk, he had no awareness of what had happened. He was saying, "what happened to my dog?" Tom Garrison, 57, said. 

The dead dog, Dude, a six-month old Shepard mix, had already been removed. 

Within minutes, according to Garrison, university police officer Kenneth Doughty, the shooter of the dog, was joined by three or four UCPD cops, who quickly cordoned off Peoples Park's North-west sector. 

According to Garrison, none of the eye witnesses saw whether Dude's owner had leashed him the night of the killing. These ear-witnesses claim that Dude was leashed, but there is no way to verify this, other than the unreliable statements of the owner. 

One of the witnesses we are trying to reach has reportedly told a friend she saw bruises on Dude's owner's wrists, after the shooting. 

According to Garrison, who "does not always agree with police accounts," the police account of the dog lunging at the officer, is "starting to seem true." 

Garrison said he heard a "serious growl" followed by two shots; then there were no more sounds from the dog. This is close to the accounts of those who heard, "bark, bark, bang, bang." 

At the Med, Medheads questioned the necessity of killing the dog. One cop-critic wondered why the officer approached after allegedly shining his flashlight into the dog's eyes. "Why didn't the cop back off?," one said, "and call animal control." 

Last week's Planet story of the dog's death reported he had been shot in the back, but Garrison says that none of the ear-witnesses from afar saw the dead dog's body, because the crime scene was quickly cordoned off, and the dog's body was removed by a university trash removal vehicle. 

According to Captain Margot Bennett, UCPD, university police have a photo of the dead dog's corpse. 

Still, bullet entry and exit was aired at the Med, as if an episode of Columbo. 

One Medhead argued that police procedures were violated by the killing, but the Medhead could not name the pertinent police protocols. (That's why we call them Medheads). 

Bennett, temporary UCPD police spokesperson, referring to Chapter 8 of the UCPD Police Policy Manual (justification for use of force against animals) summarized that UCPD cops are authorized to shoot animals to "euthanize" them when severely injured, or "to stop a dangerous animal which reasonably appears to pose an imminent threat to an officer or others." 

There were no witnesses, other than Officer Doughty. Bennett has said the dog lunged at Doughty, "teeth-bared." 

We had reported prematurely here—and incorrectly—that Doughty returned to the park the next morning to arrest a witness. 

Prompted by Medhead critics, I asked Bennett why Doughy did not conduct his curfew sweep in tandem with another officer, which is often the case with policing in the park. Bennett said that curfew sweeps are routinely carried out by a single officer. 

Bennett reports the last dog shot by UCPD was Aug 8, 2008 at University Village, under circumstances "similar to those in the park." last week. 

According to Berkeley CA Crime Log, on-line, there have been forty-five dog-bite reports in Berkeley in a six year period. An accompanying map detailing the locations of the reported bites shows a concentration of dog bite reports on Berkeley's Northside, and in the Berkeley hills. 

Only four bite-reports occurred on the South side in the past six years, according to the log. 

Calls to the East-Bay Humane Society, Paw Fund, and Pet activists were not returned in time for this article. 

The last Pet Clinic in People's park, offering an array of pet support to homeless dog owners was last held fourteen months ago, according to press accounts. 

A review of on-line sources regarding the responsibilities of animal owners stresses obeying animal rules and regulations. High on the list of animal owners' responsibilities is strict observance of leash laws, except in parks with designated "dog runs." 

"We have not had an of-leash dog citation [in the park] in two years," Bennett said last week. 

Our own park investigation has found that most park animals are leashed or supervised by owners if they frolic with each other off leash. 

The City of Berkeley's shelter service, administered through the city-manager's office, publishes guidelines for dog owners: http://http://ww.ci.berkeley.ca.us/City_Manager/Animal_Shelter/City_Dog_Regulations. 

A free pet vaccine clinic will be held Aug. 19, 10-12 a.m. at 2nd and Addison streets. 

Our South side reporter informs us that, while he was researching this piece, he had two People's Park dogs lunge at himbut they were restrained by their owners. "The system worked for me," he said.



Making Light in Dark Days

By Becky O'Malley
Friday August 03, 2012 - 07:47:00 AM

Well, it’s been a hard month, hasn’t it? In just a few weeks, we’ve lost three of the most satisfyingly snarky writers in the world, people who knew how to use clever, funny words to breathe some fresh air into the murky depths of the socio-political miasma. 

Nora Ephron’s 1983 novel Heartburn was written at a time when women were just starting to believe that they could do everything—have a sensational career, plus the sexy husband, cute kids and suburban lifestyle, and do it all with the utmost panache. The book was, among other things, a hilarious send-up of her ex-husband, investigative reporter Carl Bernstein, whose Watergate expose was the journalism sensation of the era. Self-important reporters of his type, taking themselves dead seriously, were everywhere in the go-go eighties, much to the annoyance of both their wives and the women who worked with them. 

But what I loved most about that book was the t-shirt that the beleaguered heroine either had or wished she had—I can’t remember which—which said on the back “I’ve Resigned from the Job of General Manager of the Universe.” I’ve always coveted and still need one of those, along with the resolution which it announces. 

The title of one of her more recent books, “I Feel Bad about My Neck”, made good fun of the mundane preoccupations which go along with aging—and it’s a shame that she won’t be able to guide us further along the road to real old age. We’ll miss her. 

Alexander Cockburn is another lively voice which has been silenced too soon. Like Nora Ephron, he was part of a witty family. He was more conventionally political than she was—conventional in the sense that having strong opinions and expressing them directly were central to his cultural identity. 

His ideas themselves, however, were anything but conventional. The family tradition was old-style Marxism, but Alex, who had been exposed to an excellent ruling-class education in England, had some unusual embellishments on the classic model. For example, in his last years he refused to believe that climate change would be a problem, and seemed to think that the whole idea had been concocted to burden the working man. When The Nation drastically reduced the space available for his pieces in the magazine, it got a whole lot duller. (Conn Hallinan has a full obituary in this issue.) 

Gore Vidal was able to live more than a decade beyond his biblical allotment of three score and ten. He rejected the major portion of his own ruling-class education, skipping college in favor of launching into a writing career which took every available form. Contentious to the end, his best efforts were pointed essays on his views of current follies, though his novels and plays enjoyed success as well. 

And he polemicized in person too, often in Berkeley. I saw him deliver an impassioned lecture here on some combination of video cassettes and political campaigns, though I can no longer remember exactly what the plan was. I wrote him a letter with my own opinion on the topic (can’t remember exactly what that was either) and he sent me a lengthy handwritten response. Unfortunately, his handwriting was so bad I couldn’t make head or tail of it. But I realize now that he anticipated YouTube, which is a more effective means of spreading ideas through media than video cassettes were. 

Who will take their place? Who’s around who can combine satire with analysis? 

An obvious candidate is Jon Stewart, for those who think the revolution might be televised. He doesn’t offer the long in-depth kind of graphic communication that Gore Vidal envisioned, but he provides quick hits for those whose time or attention span is limited. It seems that he increasingly relies on production gimmicks more than on clever use of language, but then again who could outdo the politicians themselves at saying hilarious things? 

Jon’s last few segments on Mitt the Twit’s foray into foreign parts were funny just because of the clips of what Romney himself actually said on camera. I was reminded of Tom Lehrer’s claim that he had to give up satire when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Prize. It’s getting harder and harder to upstage the main actors. 

Then there’s the problem that what looks like a joke turns out to be reality. That would be the philosophical ideas of the likes of Congressperson Paul Ryan, profiled by Ryan Lizzo in the latest New Yorker. Like the White Queen, he seems to specialize in believing impossible things: 

“ 'I can't believe that!' said Alice. 'Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. 'Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'  

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said 'one can't believe impossible things.'  

'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  

What’s called the Ryan Road Map is the kind of proposal that makes satire increasingly difficult. It’s got many more than six impossible things in it, and yet Ryan believes in it, and has persuaded a majority of his colleagues in the House of Representatives, mostly Republicans, but also a few Democrats, to believe in it. 

How do you make fun of that, especially when if the election goes the wrong way, they’ll be in charge of the country? Trying times—it's getting harder and harder to laugh. 



Odd Bodkins: Grace of God (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Saturday August 04, 2012 - 09:09:00 AM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

Don't Reward Nicole Drake's Bad Behavior

By Patti Dacey
Tuesday August 07, 2012 - 09:37:00 PM

Would you hire a job seeker who had logged months of unexcused absences at her current position? Someone who, when confronted by her peers with her work record, protested that she was being picked on?

The job seeker in this case is Rent Board Commissioner Nicole Drake. She wants you to vote her into another four-year term on the Rent Board, even though: 


  • She missed more than half of all committee and numerous regular Board meetings in 2011, most of them without explanation and frequently after agreeing to attend.
  • Except for a small deduction for full-Board absences, she received the same stipend as her conscientious peers, until my letter of complaint encouraged the Board to initiate a pay-deduction scale.
  • Since being confronted with her poor attendance, she has nonetheless continued to miss most committee meetings in 2012, the improvement being that she now proffers excuses.

But we must credit Drake with consistency: She disregards rules in other aspects of her life, too. In 2010, she and her partner were caught building an illegal shed in their backyard. The ruckus following this discovery forced her partner to resign from the ZAB. 


This election cycle, Nicole Drake has cobbled together a group of her friends to run against the Affordable Housing Slate. So let’s compare the two: 


  • Drake et al. have the approval of the Berkeley Property Owners Association. Drake has taken City money for work not done, and thumbed her nose at building permit regulations. The other three are unknown entities, apparently chosen as filler.
  • The Slate was selected by a diverse collection of tenants, landlords, and homeowners at the 2012 Berkeley Affordable Housing Convention. Three of them are hard-working Board incumbents with excellent attendance and progressive voting records. The other is the well-respected Vice-Chair of the Housing Advisory Commission and legislative aid to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

Who do YOU think will best serve the Rent Board? 


I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

by The Occasional Curmudgeon
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 04:35:00 PM

Hard on the heels of the gun carnage in Colorado, Tuesday, July 24th, was itself a pissy news day. 

First, Little Mittie donned his mean suit, got up on his hind legs at the VFW Convention, and postured and ranted and raved in his strident voice and re-imagined himself a great warrior. (Does this sound familiar? Have we been in this movie before, a malleable invertebrate presidential aspirant with no combat experience—in Mittie’s case, no prior military service at all—fantasizing himself as Dwight Eisenhower? God help us, another nascent “war president”?) 

Of course, the target of Mittie’s attack was President Obama—also a non-vet, but never one given to act as if he were leading the Normandy Invasion, even when deciding who to send his drones out to kill—whom he castigated as “weak on defense” and committing irreparable damage to the greatest agency for good the world has ever known (also reminiscent of the last Republican pipsqueak to contaminate the Oval Office, who once said “‘Merica always does the raat [translation: right] thing,” which made me wonder, “Mr. President, in that very expensive education your fabulously wealthy and connected family bought for you at Yale, did you not even once hear about slavery?”) 

Furthermore, candidate Romney asserted, channeling Dick Cheney and puffing up his chest like a bantam rooster, the President’s foreign policy is a “disaster” and his administration can’t keep a secret. In a cesspool of hypocrisy, I thought this pronouncement particularly preposterous, given that even the militant G.W. Bush administration, with all of its bluster and intelligence resources, couldn’t find and eliminate Osama bin Laden—or didn’t want to (9/11 conspiracy theorists take note). Even columnist David Brooks, admittedly the kind of moderate, even respectful, conservative you’d like to have a beer with, has complimented Obama on the intelligence and effectiveness of his—and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s—foreign policy. 

Concerning the alleged porosity of the Obama administration, Mittie (whose prior professional and political life is cloaked in layers of secrecy and who continues to balk at revealing his tax returns from more than three years back) fumed that Americans were “entitled” to know the dark and nefarious doings of this corrupt and godless cabal and promised that after he’s elected (perish the thought) there would be a full “accounting of the facts. * .” The absurdity of these assertions is further revealed by the fact that one of Romney’s principal advisers was implicated in outing former CIA operative Valerie Plame during the Dubya administration. They oughta’ call it the Grand Old Hypocrisy Party. 

Next came the report from Pennsylvania, state of my birth where I spent my first 23 years, that Republicans in the legislature had pushed through the most stringent voter fraud law in the U.S. Targeted at 750,000 minority voters who could make the difference for Obama in what is predicted to be another close election, this initiative is all the more mean-spirited in light of the fact that the Pennsylvania Electoral Commission has yet to discover even one case of electoral fraud in the state. How far will the right wingers go to compromise the democracy they unashamedly vaunt as superior to any other on the planet? Emboldened by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, we’re beginning to see how blatantly beyond fairness and decency they are willing to go. Score one for the oligarchs. As I’ve joked to my friends out here, Pennsylvania is a good state to be from—and after this shift toward authentic repression, as far from as possible, say about 3,000 miles. 

If this weren’t enough, I made the mistake of reading Frank Bruni’s New York Times column, “The Devine Miss M”, about Michele Bachmann’s recent paeans to homophobia, fear-mongering, and divisiveness. Noting how Bachmann casts herself as a “godly woman, humbly devoted to her Christian faith,” Bruni ponders the exact nature of the Congresswoman’s religious sect. I might help him out here by suggesting the Church of Hate, since the propagation of hatred seems to constitute mostly what Rep. Bachmann is about. 

Her latest McCarthyesque excursion into viciousness involves a mission to destroy the public service career of Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Clinton, whom Bachmann is convinced may be leading the advance troops of radical Islam in an invasion of the Federal government. You see, Ms. Abedin is a Muslim. So sure is Bachmann that Abedin represents a threat to all that is American and righteous, she has organized a lynching party that includes four other Republican lawmakers who jointly have composed and sent a letter to federal intelligence agencies claiming Abedin is a security risk because she allegedly has ties to the Muslin Brotherhood. (And of course, she works for Clinton—who in turn, serves the Black Man in the White House with the middle name Hussein—which makes her doubly suspicious.) 

Likewise, Rep. Bachmann’s homophobia appears to know no bounds. She harps that gays are deviant, godless, and “dysfunctional” and implies that they deserve any misfortune that befalls them. Columnist Bruni cites a Bachmann attack several years ago against composer Melissa Etheridge, suffering from breast cancer at the time, and quotes the Congresswoman thus: “This may be an opportunity for [Etheridge] now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian.” 

In her celebration of ignorance, Bachmann doesn’t confine her vitriol to just minorities and gays but has extended it to, believe it or not, the pursuit of science, declaring war on “liberal” scientists whose research supports global warming and climate change, all of which she has pronounced a “hoax”. What legitimate climate researchers like NASA’s Jim Hansen would have to gain by propagating bogus science is anyone’s guess, but Bachmann and her ilk seem to believe that highly educated people dedicated to uncovering the great truths of nature and the universe are not to be trusted any more than Muslims in the service of the government. (Maybe Al Gore has something to do with it.) A friend who has dedicated her life to early childhood education terms this anti-intellectual attitude “the second burning of the Library at Alexandria”—and I seem to remember that the first one was torched by early Christian zealots, an act that the late Carl Sagan maintained set the human race back a thousand years. How far does Bachmann want to retract human evolution, I wonder? Oh, wait, she doesn’t believe in evolution, either…. 

Paraphrasing the ineffable Samuel Johnson in this context, I believe it could be said that organized religion—or at least the sordid faith of Michele Bachmann—is the last refuge of small-minded people of little consequence (Johnson said “patriotism” and “scoundrels,” which works, too). As Bruni puts it, “Bachmann’s concept of Christian love brims with hate, and she has a deep satchel of stones to throw. From what kind of messiah did she learn that?” 

And to cap off the bad news day, Sally Ride died of pancreatic cancer at age 61. America’s first woman astronaut to fly in space, Ride—who held a PhD in physics—crewed on the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia in, respectively, 1983 and -84. As an aviator (now an aging “stick”) and advocate for space exploration, Ride was one of my heroes. Those of us who felt the endeavor should be open to anyone of either sex or any race qualified to engage in it (I wasn’t) were so proud of her, the contributions she made, and the poise with which she carried it off. She symbolized the best that the space program and its scientific questing—and America—had to offer. 

So while we watched from the safety of the ground, Sally rode those perilous Roman candles out of the gravity well and engaged in real science a hundred miles above the earth. Even my mother, a prisoner of both her times and German Lutheranism, who longed to be a free spirit and lived vicariously through the son who became one, watched the Challenger launch while quipping “Ride, Sally, ride!”, no doubt imagining she was in the crew module beside her. In spirit, like women everywhere—except in Michelle Bachmann’s superstitious and exclusionary little world—Mom was. 

When she left the space program, Dr. Ride continued her work as a physicist at Stanford, devoted the rest of her life to encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, and served on the investigation boards for the Challenger and Columbia accidents alongside the likes of Nobel laureate Richard Feynman and other former astronauts. We call this public service. 

Oh, and Ms. Bachmann? Sally Ride was also the first lesbian in space. 

The Occasional Curmudgeon is Berkeley writer David Esler


* Three days later, Romney was in London with his wife to watch their $100,000 dressage horse (for which they received a $77,000 tax credit in 2010) perform in the Olympics. While the official explanation for the trip was that Romney was “polishing his foreign policy skills,” in a TV interview, Mittie proceeded to insult the U.S.’s closest ally and embarrass his own country by criticizing the security at the Olympics and questioning whether it would affect attendance. Then he was off to Israel to warmonger the Iranians, belittle the Palestinians, and rev up Arab Muslims by declaring Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.” This just keeps getting better and better.  



August Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Saturday August 04, 2012 - 09:40:00 AM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.  

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 


Alexander Cockburn
June 6, 1941-July 20, 2012

By Conn Hallinan
Friday August 03, 2012 - 08:51:00 AM

For Chaos heard his voice: him all his Traine

Follow’d in the bright procession to behold

Creation, and the wonders of his might.

-Paradise Lost, John Milton

It was fitting that writer and critic Alexander Cockburn’s funeral should include a passage from Milton. For more than 50 years, Cockburn combined polished, erudite writing with fierce political insight in the tradition of the great 17th century English polemicist. Cockburn died July 20 in Germany at age 71, following a two-year struggle with cancer. He was buried July 28 in his beloved Petrolia, Ca. 

It is hard to sum up his career because it was catholic in true meaning of that word: all embracing. He wrote for newspapers in England, New York’s Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, and the Nation, and, along with Jeffery St. Clair, founded the investigative publication, CounterPunch. For more than 50 years, Cockburn was a relentless critic of U.S. foreign policy, opposing the Yugoslav War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent war in Libya. 

He was particularly critical of Israel, and for that earned the undying enmity of people like Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who called him an anti-Semite. Cockburn responded by publishing a book of essays entitled “The Politics of Anti-Semitism,” commenting that one could always tell when Israel was misbehaving because of charges of anti-Semitism thrown at its critics. 

He was born in Scotland, the oldest of three sons of Claud and Patricia Cockburn. He had two sisters from his father’s previous marriages. The family moved to Youghal, County Cork in 1947, and Cockburn lived there until he went to Oxford in 1960. Graduating from Oxford in 1963 with a degree in literature and language, he worked as a journalist in London. He moved to the United States in 1972. 

For 12 years Cockburn wrote a column for the Village Voice called “Press Clips,” which dismantled the myth of objective journalism and exposed the incestuous relationship between U.S. foreign and domestic policy and the media. The column sent shockwaves through the fourth estate in much the same way as A.J. Liebling’s critical writings had done in a previous generation. 

He left the Voice in 1984 and began writing a column named after one of his father’s novels, “Beat the Devil,” for the Nation. He continued to do so up until a few days before he died. His last column appeared in the Nation July 30. 

In 1996 he and Jeffery St. Clair founded CounterPunch along with Jeffery, a combination print and on-line investigative magazine that features some of the leading writers on the Left. 

The Cockburn family was sort of a journalism collective. His father Claud was probably the best front-line reporter during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War—and the competition was rather steep for that designation—and a brilliant essayist on everything from British foreign policy to Irish agricultural practices. The elder Cockburn’s ability to write about virtually anything paralleled Alexander’s career. As Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel told the Associated Press, “His range was extraordinary. He could write about fox hunting, and he could write about intervention.” 

Cockburn wrote several books, including “Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press” (with St. Clair), “A Short History of Fear,” “Corruptions of Empire,” and “End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate.” 

Alexander’s brothers, Patrick and Andrew, are also journalists of considerable merit. Patrick, a Middle East expert for the Independent, spent several years in Iraq, writing an outstanding book on Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr. He is currently based in Britain and continues to report and comment on the Middle East. 

Andrew, an expert on all matters military, has written several investigative books, including a recent one on former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as well as a study of U.S.-Israeli covert relations, and a book on Saddam Hussein. is fr 

His Frontline story “Drugs, Guns and the CIA”—done in collaboration with his wife, Leslie Cockburn— is probably the best study of the long and sordid relationship between American intelligence and drug dealers during the U.S. war in Laos and the Contra War against Nicaragua. 

Obituaries have labeled Cockburn a “contrarian,” although that term is inaccurate. He was famously fierce and could be absolutely scathing— woe betide those who challenged him in print—but his politics were always coherent and deep-seated. If he disagreed with you it wasn’t because he was being contrary, it was because he didn’t agree with your politics. 

He was always suspicious of orthodoxy—a sentiment that he shared with Milton—which many times put him at odds with others on the Left. He was roundly criticized for his doubts about global warming, but his stance had nothing to do with crankiness and everything to do with his mistrust of group think. He was suspicious of assumed truths, and when he expressed those sentiments about global warming he was widely denounced. It was as if he had gone to Lourdes and done something rude to the Virgin Mary. Criticism of independent thinking always made him dig in his heels and if you wanted a good old-fashioned Donnybrook, Alex was your man. 

His funeral was very much an Alexander Cockburn affair. The speeches were short and the funeral procession—led by his daughter, Daisy—was headed up by a yellow fire engine. A long line of cars followed, winding their way through the rolling Northern California hills to a flat plain surrounded by high hills crowned with ocean fog. “Over to the glory land” was sung and Cockburn’s beautifully handcrafted coffin—embossed with a typewriter—laid to rest. 

We shall not see his like again in our time. 







THE PUBLIC EYE: Global Climate Change: Intervention Required

By Bob Burnett
Friday August 03, 2012 - 07:49:00 AM

As an adult I’ve intervened to help family members come to grips with a serious addiction, such as alcoholism. In the face of irrefutable evidence that Global Climate Change is causing irreparable damage to the environment, when are you and I going to do an intervention to wean humanity from its addiction to fossil-fuel? 

This summer’s extreme weather has caused all but the most dogmatic to conclude that Global Climate Change is affecting our weather. Environmentalist Bill McKibben reported that we recently experienced the warmest June on record for the Northern Hemisphere, “the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average.” Finally the general public acknowledges the peril of Global Climate Change. A recent New York Times poll concluded: 

”A large majority of Americans believe that global warming made several high profile extreme weather events worse, including the unusually warm winter of December 2011 and January 2012 (72%), record high summer temperatures in the U.S. in 2011 (70%), the drought in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 (69%), record snowfall in the U.S. in 2010 and 2011 (61%), the Mississippi River floods in the spring of 2011 (63%), and Hurricane Irene (59%).”
.Now we have to change our behavior. Writing in ROLLING STONE, Bill McKibben analyzed our precarious planetary position and focused on three numbers. The first is 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). In 2009, planetary scientists agreed that an increase in global temperature beyond 2 degrees Celsius would cause horrific damage. Since 2009, we’ve moved “three-quarters of the way to the two-degree target.” 

McKibben’s second number is 564 gigatons – that’s the amount of additional carbon dioxide we can emit by 2050 and still have a reasonable chance of keeping the temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. Last year we pumped in 31.6 gigatons; at this rate we’ll exude 564 gigs by 2028. McKibben’s third number is 2975 gigatons – that’s “the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies… the fossil fuel we’re currently planning to burn.” In other words, we’re galloping towards an unthinkable increase of global temperature, perhaps as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. 

There are two aspects of this grim problem. The first is that most of us are addicted to cheap fossil fuel; we enjoy our lifestyle and believe that our individual action will not have an affect on Global Climate Change. The second aspect is that the fossil-fuel industry is in business to supply our addiction and, as a side effect, wreck the planet. Getting serious about Global Climate Change means shutting them down. 

To save humanity we need to intervene, take action to stop our addiction to fossil fuel. 

There are two styles of intervention. The first is to reason with the subject. This happens after family or friends observes that a loved one has gone through a long period of decay. For example, a widowed mother or father has been living alone in their home and gradually loses the capacity for self care; their family meets with them to convince them to move to an assisted-living facility. The second style of intervention is more directive and typically happens after a dramatic event. For example, an alcoholic gets arrested for DUI and either the court or their family makes them go to AA. Most successful interventions follows a dramatic event. For example, a wife is convinced to leave her abusive husband after he beats her so severely she has to go to the hospital. 

What dramatic event might cause humanity to stop using fossil fuel? 

Not hot weather or fires; at least not on the scale we’re seeing. That’s because it’s difficult to stop using. And because the fossil-fuel industry has changed their tactics. Instead of trying to convince us that Global Climate Change is not happening, they’re claiming that its effects will be resolved by science. Bill McKibben reported the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently asserted, "Populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological and technological adaptations." 

The stance of the fossil-fuel industry is similar to that of the tobacco industry before it was widely accepted that smoking causes lung cancer. Remember the ad More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette? First the tobacco industry tried to deny there was a problem. Then, when overwhelming evidence proved their was a problem, the tobacco industry switched their tactics, Smoking is not as bad as they say, the consequences are exaggerated

Stopping using fossil fuel is as difficult as stopping smoking. A successful intervention means stopping all use of fossil fuel, and shutting down the fossil-fuel industry. That’s a tall order given that huge amount of money involved – eight of the top 20 largest public companies are in “oil and gas operations” (topped by Exxon Mobil whose $41.1B in profits are more than double those of the number two company, JPMorgan Chase). 

Humanity is not ready for an intervention because, for most folks, there hasn’t been a dire event. Therefore, the earth will continue to heat up and our weather will become more unpredictable. Until there is a cataclysm – something we can’t ignore. 

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

AGAINST FORGETTING: Who said “We could have it all?”

By Ruth Rosen
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 03:56:00 PM

For over thirty years, the American media have repeatedly pronounced the death of the women’s movement and blamed feminism for women’s failure to “have it all.“ But none of this is true. The movement has spread around the globe and early radical feminists wanted to change the world, not just seek individual self-fulfillment.

The latest media-generated debate exploded when Anne-Marie Slaughter revealed in the July 2012 edition of the /Atlantic Magazine /why she had left her fast-track, high-pressured job for Hilary Clinton at the State Department. Families, she admitted, could not withstand the strain. Even a superwoman like herself— blessed with a helpful husband, enough wealth to buy domestic help and child care, could not do it all. Although she described the insane work policies that made her neglect her family, she implicitly blamed feminism for promising a false dream. It was too hard, the hours too long, the persistent sense of guilt too pervasive. 

What was missing in her article was the history of “having it all.” Too many editors care more about how an article about the death of feminism will, without fail, create a sensation and increase readership than about an inaccurate media trope.

And her article went viral, as they say, setting off a round of attacks and rebuttals about the possibility of women enjoying - not just enduring - family and work. She returned to her former life as a high-powered professor at Princeton University, which in my experience, hardly counts as opting out of trying to have it all.

To Slaughter, I want to say, you may know a great deal about foreign policy, but you certainly don’t know much about our history. By 1965, young American women activists in Students for a Democratic Society asked themselves what would happen to America’s children if women worked outside the home. Activists in the women’s movement knew women could never have it all, unless they were able to change the society in which they lived.

At the August 1970 march for Women’s Strike for Equality, the three preconditions for emancipation included child care, legal abortion and equal pay. “There are no individual solutions,” feminists chanted in the late sixties. If feminism were to succeed as a radical vision, the movement had to advance the interests of /all/ women.

The belief that you could become a superwoman became a journalistic trope in the 1970s and has never vanished. By 1980, most women’s (self-help) magazines turned a feminist into a Superwoman, hair flying as she rushed around, attaché case in one arm, a baby in the other. The Superwomen could have it all, but only if she did it all. And that was exactly what feminists had not wanted.

American social movements tend to move from a collectivistic vision to one that emphasizes the success of the individual. That is precisely what happened between 1970 and 1980. Alongside the original women’s movement grew another kind of feminism, one that was shaped by the media, consumerism and the therapeutic self-help movements that sprang up in that decade. Among the many books that began promising such fulfillment for women, was the best seller “Having It All” by Elizabeth Gurley Brown (1982) who tried to teach every woman how to achieve everything she wanted in life.

Self -help magazines and lifestyle sections of newspapers also began to teach women /how/ to have it all. Both turned a collectivistic vision of feminism into what I have elsewhere called Consumer Feminism and Therapeutic Feminism. Millions of women first heard of the movement when they read about the different clothes they needed to buy in order to look like a superwoman and the therapy they needed to become a confident and competent superwoman. Self-help books and magazines ignored the economic and social conditions women faced and instead emphasized the way in which each individual woman, if only she thought positively about herself, could achieve self-realization and emancipation.

By 1980, the idea of improving all women’s lives—sisterhood—had been transformed into creating individual superwomen. Early activists—like myself— bristled at the idea that feminism was about individual transformation. But no matter how many articles feminists wrote, they couldn’t compete with all the books and magazines that taught women how to become an assertive, well-dressed independent woman—as long as she had the wealth to hire domestic and child care to assist her ascent into men’s world.

In 1976, Ellen Goodman, the feminist journalist then writing for the Boston Globe, satirized the media’s bizarre view of a “woman who had it all:”

" The all-around Supermom rises, dresses in her vivid pants suit, oversees breakfast and then searches for the sneakers and then goes off to her glamorous high-paying job at an advertisement agency where she seeks Personal Fulfillment and kids’ college tuition. She has, of course, previously found a Mary Poppins figure to take care of the kids after school. Mary Poppins takes care of them as if they were her own, works for a mere pittance and is utterly reliable.

Supermom II comes home from work at 5:30, just as fresh as a daisy, and then spends a truly creative hour with her children. After all, it’s not the quantity of the time, but the quality. She catches up on their day, soothes their disputes and helps with their homework, while creating something imaginative in her Cuisinart (with her left hand tied behind her back). After dinner—during which she teaches them about the checks and balances of our system of government—she bathes and reads to them, and puts the clothes in the dryer. She then turns to her husband and eagerly suggests that they explore some vaguely kind of kinky sexual fantasy.”

The feminist— as remade by the media and popular culture— emerged as a superwoman, who then turned into a scapegoat for a nation’s consumerism, the decline of families, and the country’s therapeutic culture. For this, the women’s movement’s was blamed, even though this selfish superwoman who neglected her family seemed bizarre, not to say repellent, to most of the early activists.

The backlash again feminism, directed as it was against the women’s movement, reflected a moral revulsion against the shallow self-absorption of America’s consumer and therapeutic culture. And when Americans took a good hard look at this narcissistic superwoman who embraced the values of the dominant culture, they grew anxious and frightened. For they no longer saw loyal mothers and wives who would care for their communities, but a dangerous individual, unplugged from home and hearth, in other words, the female version of America’ ambitious but lonely organization man. Thus was born the cultural wars between stay-at-home moms and career women.

Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article, like most women who have complained about how hard it is to “have it all,” focused on an elite group of female professionals who have the means to outsource parts of their job as mother, cook, cleaner and caretaker of the home. What she and others have failed to understand is that the original women’s movement sought an economic and social revolution that would create equality at home and at the workplace. Nor have most critics of feminism understood that the so-called “Mommy Wars” —battles fought between those who worked outside the home and those who were “stay-at-home” moms— have also been fueled by the media.

Missing from the media’s coverage of these Mommy Wars are the millions of working mothers who will never have it all, but still must do it all. Millions of women cannot afford to care for the children they have, work dead-end jobs, and cannot begin to imagine living the life of a superwoman. These are the women that the radical women’s liberation movement addressed and for whom they sought decent jobs, sustainable wages, and government training, social services and child care. These are the women who are stuck on the sticky floor, not held back by a glass ceiling. 



By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 04:07:00 PM

On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake followed by a number of tsunamis devastated Haiti. Estimated cost of the damage is between $8 billion and $14 billion. The death toll was between 200,000 to 250,000. About 634,000 live in displacement camps. Reconstruction has barely begun. In late 2010, a cholera epidemic killed more than 7,000 and sickened more than 531,000, or 5 percent of the population. Unfortunately, too many have forgotten Haiti. 

Farming has declined to 25 percent of the economy from 40 percent a decade ago. 

Unfortunately foreign aid has slowed. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which was created to coordinate aid closed in October 2011. The Commission was set up to provide assurances to donors that the money would be well spent considering Haiti's historically corrupt government. Without such assurances, donations are bound to slow. 

In short, Haiti disaster help is lagging. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians still live in tent cities that are overcrowded, noisy, filthy, and crime-ridden. Only about half of the $4.5 billion pledged by governments for reconstruction has been disbursed more than two years after the earthquake.  

But don't just blame the earthquake for all the death and destruction in Haiti. Blame Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. The Duvaliers put an estimated 80 percent of world aid into their own pockets with the complicity of the U.S. government who wanted the Duvaliers and their militia, Tonton Macoutes, as compliant allies. The Duvaliers' death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime. What the Duvaliers didn't steal, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) finished off through its "austerity" plans. The austerity plan meant cutting government services. 

In 1991, five years after Baby Doc fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF's austerity dictates. Within months, the military, with a wink and a nod from George HW Bush, deposed him. In 2004, after Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, with a wink and nod from George W. Bush. 

Like a bad penny, Baby Doc arrived back in Haiti last January. Technically he is under house arrest, but reportedly he is leading a nice life. His portrait is sold on the streets and last December, he was the commencement at the law school in Gonaives. The betting is that Duvalier will never be tried for his crimes, including forced disappearances, illegal detentions, intimidation, torture, and executions of journalists, activists, political opponents and others. The U.S. seems to be taking a hand-off approach to Duvalier. The U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, said the Duvalier case “is a matter for the Haitian courts and for the Haitian people who feel aggrieved.” There are even rumors that Duvalier may return to politics.  

Aristide returned to Haiti from his exile in South Africa. He claims he is not returning to politics. 

As a simple matter of justice, we owe Haiti billions. We helped break it, therefore we have an obligation to fix it.  


By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 04:05:00 PM

Candidates for election are invited to email pen136@dslextreme.com news of their accomplishments and plans vis a vis senior citizens, elders, and boomers. Share a statement of your platform regarding senior citizens’ housing, health, transportation. If you are running for re-election, please describe the highlights of your record on issues important to seniors.


Senior citizens’ lives are potential hot spots for bullying. Bullying here refers to treatment of seniors in an overbearing or intimidating manner that is aggressive. Browbeating and bulldozing to frighten a human being into submission, compliance, or acquiescence. It is elder abuse by aides, assisted living staff, caregivers, companions, family members, homemakers, nursing home personnel, personal care attendants, even seniors themselves… 

Many seniors wish to remain in their own homes. Paid caregivers can fill an important role. Senior citizens and family members often have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency for an elderly family member. They assume the person has undergone a thorough criminal background check and drug testing and is experienced and trained for the job. Not so.  

A new national study finds many agencies recruit random strangers off Craigslist and place them in the homes of vulnerable elderly people with dementia, fail to do criminal background checks or drug testing, lie about testing the qualifications of caregivers, do not require any experience, do not provide real training, and place unqualified, possibly criminal caregivers in homes of vulnerable seniors. 

Geriatrician Dr. Lee Lindquist, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, reports that "There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect. It's dangerous for the elderly patient who may be cognitively impaired." To this, I shall add that many seniors do not have families and or are choiceless.  

Geriatrician Lindquist has seen bad caregivers accompanying patients in her clinic. "Some of the paid caregivers are so unqualified it's scary and really puts the senior at risk… We had agencies say they used a 'National Scantron Test for Inappropriate Behavior' and an 'Assessment of Christian Morality Test'… these tests don't exist. If you're not a smart consumer, you won't recognize which agencies are being deceitful." 

Identifying the good agencies from the bad is difficult because many agencies have slick websites and marketing campaigns. They are a largely unregulated, rapidly growing industry as our population ages. This is big business with potentially large profit margins and lots of people are jumping into it. 

For the study, researchers posed as consumers and surveyed 180 agencies around the country about their hiring methods, screening measures, training practices, skill competencies assessments and supervision. They found: that only 55% of the agencies did a background check. The same condition appears to exist in senior housing –in terms of both screening tenants and staff. 

Here are questions to ask an agency prior to hiring a paid caregiver and variations of them of a prospective caregiver/aide before hiring. 

1. How do you recruit caregivers, and what are your hiring requirements? 

2. What types of screenings are performed on caregivers before you hire them? Criminal background check—federal or state? Drug screening? Other? 

3. Are they certified in CPR or do they have any health-related training? 

4. Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency? 

5. What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home? (These could include lifting and transfers, homemaking skills, personal care skills such as bathing, dressing, toileting, training in behavioral management and cognitive support.) 

6. How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing? 

7. What is your policy on providing a substitute caregiver if a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services? 

8. If there is dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, will a substitute be provided? 

9. Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently? 

10. Does supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports or in-person at the home of the older adult? 

Because elder-care referral agencies lack federal regulation, almost anyone can set up an agency and refer untrained and inexperienced people for in-home senior care. It is important for caregivers to be carefully screened and monitored 

Whether to hire a home care aide through an agency or independently is a decision in itself. The easiest and least expensive way may appear to be classified advertisements or word of mouth. Hiring someone independently on your own, can be a good idea only if you have a personal connection or a strong endorsement from a friend. It might, however, create unexpected liabilities for your family, which legally becomes the employer. 

Hourly rates of at-home caregivers hired through an agency tend to be higher, but the agency should pay the FICA taxes, cover worker liability insurance, and complete W-4 and W-2 forms. Because an agency may have a stable of caregivers, you might be able to try out a few, and you may have the right of refusal. Agency caregivers are, or should be, bonded and insured, trained in CPR, first aid, and the basics of care.  

Unannounced visits to the patient’s home or a nursing home are a very good thing. If you as a family member live far from where the care will be needed, or do not want to get involved with supervising an at-home caregiver day-to-day, an agency can be an acceptable option. 

The good news is that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has added ELDERCARE as a category to its American Time Use Survey (ATUS). The survey tracks how much time people spend per day working, performing household tasks, engaging in leisure activities, taking care of children, and now, taking care of older adults. The addition of ELDERCARE as a category reflects the deepening responsibilities Americans age 15+ have for providing unpaid care to someone age 65+ -- a parent, spouse, relative, friend perhaps. 



Local NEWS 

On July 27, 2012, Satellite Housing’s Acting Executive Director announced that “on July 10, 2012, the Board of Directors of Satellite Housing approved a merger with Affordable Housing Associates (AHA) into a new agency, Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA). Like Satellite, Affordable Housing Associates is a Berkeley-based nonprofit housing provider with a mission to create and preserve high-quality affordable housing communities that strengthen individuals, families and neighborhoods.” [sic] 

SENIOR POWER column readers should be aware of the significant differences between affordable and low-income senior housing. 

International NEWS 

“Senior citizens in Delhi to be issued I-cards by police:”  

According to New Delhi police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, “a senior citizen complained that they don't have any identity card and that it is a problem for them, so we have decided to issue identity cards to every senior citizen registered with us. The job will be completed in the next one to one-and-a-half months… Senior citizens in the national capital registered with the police will get identity cards as part of efforts to protect them.” Recently, two elderly women were fatally stabbed while attempting to foil robbery attempts. Addressing a press conference, Kumar said Delhi Police are taking all steps to protect senior citizens in the national capital and highlighted the number of arrests made after he took over on June 30. Tough action against snatchers was being taken ever since he took over and assured that the action would continue. Kumar asserted that the law and order situation in the capital was "under control in every sphere,” identifying inter-state gangs and snatchings as the two main reasons behind crime in the capital." [July 26, 2012 India Times. ] 

“Stiff upper lip condemns 190,000 older men to loneliness:”  

Elderly men in Britain are living in extreme loneliness but are often unwilling to seek help or companionship because of a “stiff upper lip.” Office for National Statistics figures show 190,000+ men over age 75 live in serious isolation in Britain. Polling found that men are more likely than women to live lives dominated by isolation and loneliness. Yet they are also less likely to seek help even if they are suffering from depression. 36% of men described themselves as lonely or very lonely, many going for days without speaking to anyone. Among women, the rate was 31%. One in six people in Britain are elderly. While women still outlive men, the gap is narrowing. Only one in 10 men are willing to talk about their feelings with friends and family compared with a quarter of women. Women's Royal Voluntary Service WRVS, a charity befriending service for vulnerable older people, said that contact with younger people – male and female -- could make a crucial difference through simple acts like taking someone for a drink in the pub or out shopping. [July 26, 2012 The Telegraph] 


Canadians wait too long to determine end-of-life care” 

Critical care specialist Dr. Daren Heyland states in his personal directive -- a legal document that set outs the treatments he would and would not want should he ever lose the capacity to speak for himself -- that he would rather die than be left dependent on others to feed, dress, bathe or otherwise provide total care for him. Yet 80% per cent of Canadians do not have a written plan about what life-prolonging treatments they would accept or reject at the end of life, and fewer than half have discussed the issue with their families, according to a recent Ipsos-Reid poll. Only 46% per cent have designated a substitute decision maker -- someone to speak on their behalf if they became incapacitated. Without any guide posts set by the patient, the system takes over. The fallback, doctors say, is to keep going -- to provide increasingly intensive and invasive care that ultimately prolongs dying, leading to a poorer quality of life, unnecessary pain and suffering and increased rates of depression, anxiety and even post- traumatic stress disorder for the surviving family.” [The Province. Postmedia News July 27, 2012] 

More elderly living in 'empty nest' homes 

The number of people above age 60 living in so called "empty nest" families is surging in China. It will add pressure to the care services for the elderly, according to a report in the Economic Information Daily. Statistics show that at the end of 2010, there were 38,060 care service institutions for the elderly in the country. Those institutions had 2.66 million beds and housed 2.11 million elderly people, which represented only 1.59% of the elderly population, much lower than the average level of 5 to 7 percent in more developed countries. "At the end of 2020, China is expected to have 248 million people above age 60, which will account for 17.2% of the country's population,… And at the end of the 22nd century, the number of China's elderly people is expected to surge to 318 million, which will be over 31 percent of the population" said Yan Qingchun, vice-president of the China National Committee on Aging. [China Daily. July 27, 2012] 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. You’re welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  


Mondays, August 6, 13, 20, and 27. 6 P.M. Evening computer class. Central Berkeley Public Library. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.  

Monday, August 6. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" - Knitting Group at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Free. Louise O’Dea, 510-524-3043 

Tuesday, August 7. 6 P.M. National Night Out Ice Cream Social. 160 41st Street
Oakland. Piedmont Avenue Branch, Oakland Public Library. Free. 510-597-5011  

Tuesday, August 7. 7 P.M. ESL Conversation Group. El Cerrito Library of the Contra Costa County Library. 6510 Stockton Avenue. Free 510-526-7512  

Wednesday, August 8. Annual Healthy Aging Fair. Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. Free. A wheel-chair accessible BART Shuttle will operate from the South Hayward BART station between 8:30 A.M. and 3 P.M. Transportation will also be available from some senior centers. Contact: Delbert Walker 510-577-3532, Amy Holloway 510-577-3540.  


Thursday, August 9. 1:30 P.M. Newark Library, 6300 Civic Terrace Av. HEALTHY EATING FOR OLDER ADULTS: My Neighbor's Kitchen Table. Nutritionists Mary Collett, MPH and RD, Mary Louise Zernicke, MS, MPH, RD, CSG will discuss the special nutritional needs of seniors, including how our traditional foods can fit into a healthy eating plan, taking supplements and much more. Free. 510-795-2627. For information about dates and addresses for other Alameda County libraries, contact Patricia Ruscher, Older Adult Services at 510-745-1491. 510-526-3720.  

Thursdays, August 9 and 16. 12:15-2:15 P.M. Literacy Reading Club with Lisa Wenzel. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Practice English conversation, meet other adults, discuss a good book. Free. 510-526-3720.  

Thursdays, August 10, 16, 23 and 30. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241. 

Saturday, August 11. 2-3 P.M. Kaiser Community Troupe. At the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Mixing the magic of drama, music, and dance. Bring grandchildren to the Kaiser Community Troupe and learn about their important health messages through interactive performances including Mascot Ambassadors of Health and Wellness addressing nutrition, physical activity, safety, drinking water, and celebrating fruits and vegetables. Free. 510-526-3720  

Tuesday, August 14. 2 P.M. How to self publish, with author Stella Baker. North branch, Berkeley Public Library. 1170 The Alameda. Free. 510-981-6250. 

Wednesday, August 15. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190. 

Saturday, August 18. 2-3 P.M. Kaiser Community Troupe. At the Newark Library, 6300 Civic Terrace Av. Mixing the magic of drama, music, and dance. Bring grandchildren to the Kaiser Community Troupe and learn about their important health messages through interactive performances including Mascot Ambassadors of Health and Wellness addressing nutrition, physical activity, safety, drinking water, and celebrating fruits and vegetables. Free. 510-795-2627  

Saturdays, August 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. 1 – 5 P.M. Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 5366 College Av. California Writers’ Club – a workshop open to all writers. Free. Contact: Anne Fox 510-420-8775.  

Monday, August 20. 7 P.M. Am evening with Pat Mullan and her jazz quartet. A concert of jazz arrangements and maybe a little classical music on the side that will be delivered in the unique trombone style. With Curtiss Mays, David Hemphill, Justin Mar and Pat Mullan, leader. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510- 524-3043. 

Wednesday, August 22. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Selections from The Bhagavad Gita. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, August 22. 1:30 P.M. Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190 

Monday, August 27. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. August’s book is Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesday, August 28. 7 P.M. Readers Anonymous. Book Club. Moshin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. Free. 510-526-7512. 

Wednesdays, Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 


Thursdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Free. 510-981-6241.  

Mondays, Sept. 10, 17 and 24. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.  

Thursdays, Sept. 13, 20 and 27. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Central Berkeley Public Library. , 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.  

Wednesday, Sept. 26. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Free. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesdays, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Wednesday, October 24. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Troth, by Gregor von Rezzori. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Tuesday, Nov.6. 7 A.M.- 8 P.M. Election Day. 

Wednesdays, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.  

Wednesday, November 28. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Dr. Drew, Schizophrenia and Violence

By Jack Bragen
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 04:31:00 PM

Dr. Drew is a television psychiatrist who deals mainly with the issue of addiction, but he also comments on other aspects of psychiatry. On one of his programs, he tried to point out warning signs (of impending trouble) that people should look out for when dealing with persons with mental illness. 

There was a recent horrible shooting in Aurora Colorado at a movie theater. Part of my comment stems from Dr. Drew's coverage of this. 

I like Dr. Drew and his TV shows. However, I think his portrayal of mentally ill persons as frequently dangerous people requires a response. I believe Dr. Drew's picture of persons with mental illness is a bit skewed. Most people with mental illness aren't violent. 

I won't lie to you and say that persons with mental illness never get violent. I have dealt with mentally ill persons getting violent toward me. I have also dealt with the violence of criminals, which is a more organized and more sinister type of violence, which is not a symptom of mental illness, and in which the perpetrator is completely responsible. 

Concerning the recent massacre in a movie theater; the apparent perpetrator seemed to know what he was doing, which is a trait unlike that of a de-compensated person with schizophrenia. However, one point of this article is to tell the reader what to look for to know that a person with mental illness is essentially healthy and is not controlled by the illness. 

The biggest thing to look for is the healthy expression of emotions. Anger is included in this, but only when the anger is expressed verbally and doesn't involve an episode of physical violence. Sadness at a loss, grief, and the ability to cry and express sorrow are signs of health. The ability to complain when things are difficult might be unpopular with people who don't want to hear complaining, but it is a healthy trait and means that a person is "engaged" in their environment, and isn't stuffing his or her feelings. 

Constructive behavior is another sign of health. This entails taking actions, preferably in an organized manner, toward achieving a "positive" goal. This could include looking for a job, school, or volunteer work. Or it could include attempts at starting one's own business. It does not include lottery tickets, or plans to run for political office. 

The history of the movie theater perpetrator included not communicating with peers or school counselors. This lack of a connection with people, the lack of even a derisive connection, was a sign of trouble. The movie theater perpetrator never seemed to express any emotions, and that was another warning sign. Some of these signs I am talking about can predict the difference between a person with mental illness who is capable of receiving help, versus someone who is overly disconnected and who can't be helped. 

Asking for help is nearly always a good sign. Being able to listen to others and to change one's thinking or one's stance is a sign of flexibility, and that is good. Being able to admit having a flaw and admitting one's mistakes are signs of health. 

An insanity plea doesn't work when someone has made organized plans to carry out a crime, or when their actions reflect premeditation. The actions of the person who did the shooting in the movie theater reflect forethought and an organized plan. This is not a case of a mentally ill person becoming violent. It appears to be a situation of hate carried out in an organized and methodical manner. 

In contrast, a person with schizophrenia having an episode of psychosis would have been disorganized and disoriented. Such a person could become violent in a disorganized manner if their delusions, or the despair of being ill too long, led to that. Schizophrenia impairs someone to the extent that he or she can not reason things out. Thus, an organized plan of the type we saw in the theater precludes severe psychosis. And it also implies the possibility of a personality disorder such as sociopathy. 

It is possible to have schizophrenia and to be "emotionally healthy," since it is a medical condition. And when under treatment, and the medication has restored normal functioning, it does not preclude the person having normal and healthy emotions. Mental illnesses which are caused by brain disorders do not automatically make a person have an unhealthy personality, since there are people with schizophrenia who compensate for their "hardware problems."

Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: 'Pile of Stones' at the East Bay Media Center; Westbrae Free Concert on Saturday

By Ken Bullock
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 10:33:00 PM

—Ben Hamilton and Bekah Barnett, composer-performers, present original music for cello, voice and piano, rooted in folk music, with multi-media, at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison (between MLK & Milvia) in Berkeley's Downtown Arts District, 8 p. m. Friday-Saturday August 10-11. $5-$10. 843-3699. 

—Mary Prophet's Westbrae Free Concerts go all summer, every Saturday morning and noon, this Saturday with Deborah Crooks (folk, rock, Americana, blues) at 10 a. m., Alan Lipton (narrative acid rock-!--progressive rock) at 11 and Michael DeWall (jazz, calypso, latin, originals) at noon, in the garden near the Bagel Shop and Toot Sweet, by the BART elevated, Gilman at Curtis, Westbrae, Berkeley.

AROUND & ABOUT THEATER:Subteranean Shakespeare Has Moved--With a New Series; 'Education of a Rake' at Central Works; Jovelyn Richards' 'Mrs. Pat's House'--latest edition--at La Pena; 'Broke-Ology' reading at the Douglas Morrison Theatre

By Ken Bullock
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 10:29:00 PM

—Subterranean Shakespeare has moved to the Berkeley Art Festival Theater, 2133 University at Shattuck, with a new Monday reading series already underway—next up, Marlowe's masterpiece 'Doctor Faustus,' directed by Heather Robinson on the 13th ... followed by The Bard's 'Julius Caesar' (20th), Ben Jonson's great comedy 'Volpone' (27th)—and on September 3rd, a new play by George Crowe about the plays and their playwrights, 'Shakespeare Night at the Blackfriars,' directed by Robert Estes. $10. 276-3871 

—'Education of a Rake,' a political comedy in an election year, about a congressman trying to revive the ERA while trying to suppress information about his privte life, produced by Central Works at the Berkeley City Club, is William Bivins' newest play ... A couple of years ago, with six premieres (four of them full-length) of his plays, he was the most produced playwright in the Bay Area for a season. Venues like SF Playhouse, Pacific Repertory and PianoFight staged his work—and Virago, of Alameda, put up 'Afterlife of the Mind.' Jan Zvaifler, co-founder of Central Works, directs—and of course it's been produced through Central Works' unique collaborative method. There's a trailer on the web

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5 through August 26 at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue. $25 in advance; sliding scale $25-$14 at door. (Pay what you can night August 9.) 558-1381; centralworks.org 

—Jovelyn Richards will be performing what's getting to be an annual run at La Pena Cultural Center—this time the latest edition (with an added character and more) of her story-on-stage 'Mrs. Pat's House,' about a brothel in the black part of town during the Depression and the array of people who visit and live there. Jovelyn tells the story, acts it out, and is accompanied by her band. Friday through Sunday, August 10-12, 8 p. m. La Pena, 3105 Shattuck (near Ashby BART). $12-$15. 849-2568; lapena.org 

—Norman Gee of Oakland Public Theater—who's produced, directed and performed in many local productions over the past 20 years—is directing a staged reading of Nathan Louis Jackson's 'Broke-Ology,' the science of being broke, about an African-American family in Kansas City—at the Douglas Morrison Theater's Bare Bones Tuesdays, 8 p. m. on August 7. 23311 North Third, Hayward, across from the Japanese Gardens in Anza Park. $10. 881-6777; dmtonline.org

Press Release: Hands across the Sand at Albany Beach Tomorrow

From Stephanie Thomas
Thursday August 02, 2012 - 04:50:00 PM

On Aug 4, 2012, people from over 40 countries will join hands to champion clean energy. The event will begin in New Zealand, move across the world, and end in Hawaii. We are joining hands for clean energy, to keep near and offshore oil drilling out of our waters, and to end our dependence on the fuels that foul our air, water and food. 

Please join Transition Albany, Transition Berkeley, and local East Bay residents for a "Hands Across the Sand" gathering 

Where: At the beach, Albany Waterfront Park, on Buchanan Extension, West of the 580/80 freeway ramp, entrance just to the right of lower parking area of Golden Gate Fields 

When: Saturday, August 4th at 11:30-12:15, 

What: At noon, participants will join hands for 15 minutes to form a line along the beach/ shoreline, in solidarity with this worldwide action. Option to stay later for reflection and refreshments. 

Contact information: Stephanie Thomas : skthomas@flash.net