The Week



Capital Crimes: Why the Latest Costa-Gavras Film, "Capital," Was Cut from Bay Area Screenings

An investigative movie review by Gar Smith
Friday February 07, 2014 - 10:25:00 AM

Costa-Gavras' latest film (about predatory hedge fund investors in Europe and the US) was listed as one of the top films of the year in a recent edition of the East Bay Express. Costa-Gavras has been called "the world's greatest political filmmaker" and critics hailed Capitol as "fast-paced, financial thriller," a "darkly comic, suspenseful drama." So why was the film "banned in Berkeley"? -more-

Tim's Vermeer: A Tricky, Magical Film from Penn and Teller
Opens February 14 at the SF Embarcadero and February 21 at the Elmwood in Berkeley

Review by Gar Smith
Saturday February 15, 2014 - 11:22:00 AM

The new film from Penn and Teller (the multitasking Odd Couple behind the X-rated comic-doc, "The Aristocrats") is an irresistibly entertaining film about a self-effacing Texas inventor and his obsession with the 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

There is a mystery that drives this film. But, in this case, it's not a question of "Whodunnit?" It's more a matter of "Howdunnit?"

There was always something special about Vemeer's masterpieces —a certain heightened clarity and illumination that give canvases like "Girl with a Pearl Earring" an eerie, almost photographic presence.

More than eight years ago, a Texas tinkerer named Tim Jenison became hooked on the idea that there was a special trick at work behind Vermeer's paintings. Jenison became fixated on trying to prove his suspicions. Bolstered by his experience as a pioneering designer of desktop video and CGI imagery, Jenison believed he knew Vermeer's secret: It was all done with mirrors—some 150 years before the invention of photography, Vermeer had found a way to capture living images by projecting them on canvas.

This theory clearly appealed to a pair of professional magicians like Penn and Teller. -more-

ABC Quick Guide for Emergency Preparation in Berkeley

By Stevanne Auerbach in cooperation with BDPNN with assistance of Pam Grossman.
Friday February 07, 2014 - 10:43:00 AM


Recently our neighbors gathered to hear Disaster Preparedness Trainer, Pam Grossman, a member of the Berkeley Disaster Preparedness Neighborhood Network (BDPNN). She presented essential information about how we can become prepared for the inevitable earthquake. We learned a great deal and began to mobilize. -more-



Not News: Homeless Man Dies on a Berkeley Street Corner

By Becky O'Malley
Friday February 07, 2014 - 01:30:00 PM

MONDAY UPDATE: The Alameda Coroner's office confirmed the death on Thursday, February 6, of David Simmons, described as a 66-year-old Caucasian male transient who was found unresponsive at 2295 Shattuck, on the corner of Bancroft, early that morning. The Planet has received reports of a second death of a homeless man, but the Coroner's office was not able to confirm this as of 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

This morning, possibly in response to last week’s plea for community help in tracking down rumors, I got an email from reader Mary Ann Uribe:

“Yesterday I was told a homeless man was found dead in front of Peet's Coffee on Shattuck and Kittredge that morning after he was made to sleep in the rain and exposed to the elements. He was trying to get into a shelter but the shelter did not open ‘til late in the evening and he was never told it was open. Also, when he tried to sleep under the eave where he had been sitting in front of Peet's Coffee, the Berkeley Police would not let him sleep there. As a result he most likely died of exposure. He was found dead yesterday morning by one of the Ambassadors. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

From the Vatican

Sunday February 09, 2014 - 05:49:00 PM

Forwarded by a reader: "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" —Pope Francis -more-

Death in the News

Sunday February 09, 2014 - 09:33:00 AM

Frances Dinkelspiel has pointed out this posting on Thursday's Berkeleyside Facebook page. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Tennis (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday February 07, 2014 - 01:18:00 PM

Public Comment

Berkeley Copwatch to Protest Berkeley Police Review Commission

By Members of Berkeley Copwatch
Friday February 07, 2014 - 09:36:00 AM

On the night of February 12th of last year, Kayla (Xavier) Moore, a transgendered woman of color living with schizophrenia, experienced a mental health episode at her Gaia Building apartment. Berkeley Police officers went to her apartment. There was a struggle and Moore stopped breathing. Although the police did call for an ambulance, none of them attempted to restore her breathing. The 41-year old Kayla Moore was taken to Alta Bates Hospital and pronounced dead at 1:34am. This case represents a crystallization of things wrong with the way the Berkeley Police Department is currently operating, as well as the way oversight mechanisms are functioning.

Berkeley Copwatch has conducted a People’s Investigation into this in-custody death. Our report can be read here.

To protest the Police Review Commission’s inability, or unwillingness, to take any action that would make people safer from police in the year since Moore’s death, Berkeley Copwatch will be holding a rally and vigil at 6pm on Wednesday, February 12th at the Gaia Building, 2116 Allston Way, between Shattuck and Oxford. We will march to the Police Review Commission’s meeting at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street, at the corner of Ashby and Ellis. The PRC meeting is at 7pm, and we will be holding a speak-out there. -more-

Valentina’s Dream

By Elena (Petrova) Gold
Saturday February 15, 2014 - 11:17:00 AM

On the chilly morning of St. Valentine’s Day, when their western sisters dig their pretty noses into outrageously expensive bouquets of red roses, dutifully delivered to their city offices by stressed couriers, most Russian women will be lucky to get a card and a chocolate rose from a supermarket.

Valentine’s Day in Russia is a reason to party and celebrate (read: drink and dance till early hours of the morning) but flowers will have to wait until March 8, International Women’s Day, an official public holiday in Russia when men try to be gentlemen and let women relax from home chores.

Probably, the only Russian ladies enjoying courier-delivered roses will be members of online dating services and the flowers will be sent by their overseas boyfriends. I am using the term “boyfriends” loosely here, as most online romances only flourish in cyberspace, with splashes of courier-delivered roses and chocolates being the only real things women might get.

Russia, fresh from Perestroika, opened its borders in the early ’90’s. It meant Russians no longer needed exit visas from the government to leave the country. Straight away, a whole universe of dating services started to offer introductions to beautiful Russian women who wanted to marry western men.

To an outsider, this might have looked like a way for women from a poor country to find a better life, but in truth what these women really wanted was to find a husband and start a family. Surprisingly enough, given Russia’s history of equal rights for men and women since the Revolution of 1917, Russian family paradigms remained rigidly centered around a man’s role as provider, and a woman’s role as wife and mother, so much so that successful career women feel inadequate if they do not have a husband and kids, and no amount of career success can make them feel good about themselves. -more-

Empathy for All

By Romila Khanna
Sunday February 09, 2014 - 09:44:00 AM

Some special interest groups are trying their best to stop funding for Obama Care. They are misinforming the public in order to create problems for the needy and the poor. Why don't ask those who have purchased Affordable Care and who can now visit their doctor without fear of huge bills? I know many people who have saved money and learned preventive self care thanks to the affordable health care law. -more-

How Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Will Affect Israel

By Tejinder Uberoi
Friday February 07, 2014 - 10:38:00 AM

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) program targeted against Israel is growing exponentially. For example, the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM plans to divest from the five largest Israeli banks. Israeli finance minister, Yair Lapid, stressed the urgent need to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians to avoid further isolation. He warned that failure to do so could lead to a European boycott of the Jewish state seriously impacting exports, the loss of thousands of jobs, soaring inflation and internal unrest. -more-

New: The Homeless Man Who Died

By Mary Ann Uribe
Sunday February 09, 2014 - 09:45:00 AM

His friends described him as a senior, approximately in his early 60’s in age, Caucasian, very quiet, kept to himself most of the time, did not speak very often, unassuming….a man who had been homeless for about a year. He was particularly vulnerable because of his age and, after being homeless for a year, his health had deteriorated. He should have been rescued, not persecuted. He should have been saved, not forgotten. He should have been driven to a shelter, not allowed to sleep in the rain. Instead he was found dead in front of Peet's Coffee on Shattuck and Kittredge on Thursday morning at about 7:30 a.m. on February 6, 2014 having died of exposure to the rain and cold during the night. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Questioning Authority: Edward Snowden

By Bob Burnett
Friday February 07, 2014 - 09:03:00 AM

If you weren’t alive on the evening of March 8, 1971, you probably don’t understand what a big deal it was when 8 anti-war activists burglarized the Media, Pennsylvania, FBI office. As detailed in Betty Medsger’s book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, the fallout from the break-in changed the way Americans view the FBI. Moreover, the Media burglars set the stage for Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Sudan: Colonialism’s Dead hand

By Conn Hallinan
Friday February 07, 2014 - 09:22:00 AM

Hopefully the recent ceasefire agreement between the warring parties in South Sudan will halt that country’s downward spiral into civil war. But if it does it will have to buck the convergence of two powerful historical streams: a legacy of colonial manipulation dating back more than a hundred years, and the current policies of the U.S. vis-à-vis the African continent. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Staying connected

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday February 07, 2014 - 10:20:00 AM

“PC” refers to “personal computer.” Most PC users have access to 3 things: the Internet; a word processor (e.g. “WORD”;) and email capability (e.g."Becky”). About half of Americans age 65+ use the Internet, but societal dependence on digital technology threatens to leave behind those who do not, cannot, or will not go online. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Using Diet to Compensate for Metabolic Medication Side Effects

By Jack Bragen
Friday February 07, 2014 - 10:17:00 AM

Bulimia and anorexia are awful diseases that are not the fault of the person who suffers with them. The suggestions in this week's column do not apply to people with any eating disorder, and these suggestions should not be considered medical advice. If you are having a problem, please seek professional help. -more-

Arts & Events

IndieFest Blasts Off with A Wild Winner Called "The Congress"

Review by Gar Smith
Friday February 07, 2014 - 09:26:00 AM

IndieFest — "the Bay Area’s premier showcase for some of the finest independent films and digital programs" — kicked off two weeks of films (and good-time parties) yesterday at San Francisco's Roxie Theater, with other screenings to be at the Brava Theater (2781 24th Street) and — for the first time — in Oakland, at the New Parkway. -more-