The Week



Berkeley Police Hunt Suspect for Brandishing Gun

Drew Himmelstein (BCN)
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:06:00 PM

Berkeley police are looking for a suspect who brandished a gun at an apartment complex property manager on Thursday night. -more-

Look Who's Expendable

Gar Smith
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:14:00 PM

Recently, I found myself looking at the new ad for The Expendables 3 in the Chronicle movie section when I notice something odd: There are 17 names listed in the ad but only 16 faces appear in the group photo. -more-



Why Ferguson Blew Up--and What Can We Learn About Gaza?

By Becky O'Malley
Friday August 22, 2014 - 11:16:00 AM

When I was a child I lived in Saint Louis. Believe it or not, in those days most people didn’t have air conditioning, and it was hot, damned hot, hot as the hinges of Hades the old folks used to say.

And humid. Oppressively humid. No one did much in August if they could help it, just sat out on the porch with electric fans whirring in the background.

I suppose that’s changed now. I expect many more people have air conditioning, at least in one room of their home. But I bet it’s still hot and humid at night on the streets.

One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed much, or at least hasn’t changed enough, is how African-Americans are treated there. Well, that’s a bit unfair, because when I was a child St. Louis was still in the grip of full de facto segregation. No, there were no “White” and “Colored” signs on rest rooms and water fountains, but Black people (“Negroes” if you wanted to be polite) knew very well where they weren’t welcome. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

New: The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter--
Smearing a Progressive Website to Support Israel

Wednesday August 27, 2014 - 10:23:00 AM

Several readers have forwarded a link to a remarkable story on the Common Dreams web site:

The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter: Smearing a Progressive Website to Support Israel

As the title indicates, an investigative reporter has discovered that "more than a thousand ... damaging comments over the past two years were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel.

"His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, "JewishProgressive," whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under many other screen names."

Readers with long memories may recall Richard Brenneman's 2009 story, The Campaign Against the Daily Planet, and notice some similarities to what happened to Common Dreams. One wonders. -more-

Through Another Lens

Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:20:00 PM

One of our correspondents, Steve Martinot, recounts in this week's Public Comment section his own observations of a protest against the role of the government of Israel in Gaza. It can be read here.

Another publication, Jweekly (formerly known a J-The Jewish Weekly) has published an account of the same event from a different perspective. It can be found by clicking here. There's also an op-ed in the same issue of that publication on the topic which can be seen here.


Public Comment

New: Did You Ever Look at a Map?

Daliya Robson
Sunday August 24, 2014 - 11:30:00 PM

The small state of Israel is surrounded by billions of enemies of which most would like to see the destruction of the state . It is interesting that the idealistic left and the Nazi right and the world's terrorists are on the same side now. Israel intends to live. If they are attacked they will fight back .I suggest the writers of the articles against israel go and visit and take a walk they can do in one day across the county to the borders of their enemies. I don't get it . Does the whole world need a scapegoat for all the ills of all societies? Whats the matter with you people? Go visit and see how small that place is and look at the map. Lebanon, Syria ,Jordan, Egypt, Iran. Iraq ,Libya , Tunisia , Morocco, most of Africa now are howling for Jewish blood. People from Moslem and Christian Russian republics, France, Belgium, Uk, USA, Germany , Holland and more all clambering to get on the hate wagon. It's fashionable to be a Jew hater and anti Israel . -more-

New: Gaza

Neil Doherty
Sunday August 24, 2014 - 03:02:00 PM

The occupation and blockade of Gaza (which forces Palestinians to live in conditions where malnutrition among children is rampant) are crimes. Collective punishment and house demolitions (like the one that resulted in Rachel Corrie’s murder) are a crime, as are the mass killings of civilians. And despite the huge media censorship campaign and the very successful use of the word anti-Semitic to silence critics or even discussion of Israel, the world is increasingly aware of Israel’s war crimes. -more-

New: Pro Palestinians attempt to stop Israeli ship at Port of Oakland

Gail Taback
Saturday August 23, 2014 - 11:22:00 AM

Of all the human tragedies that could be avoided, the one in Gaza has a solution that would greatly benefit the people and stop the death and destruction that has been going on there. First, Hamas must stop sending missiles into Israel. Israel would stop retaliating and there would be no one dying and no buildings destroyed. Secondly, Hamas decides to recognize Israel and pledge no aggression toward it. Israel stops its bombs on Hamas, opens up the borders for trading, sends concrete and supplies for rebuilding Gaza. With peace between the two people, help from European nations and the U.S. would flow in. Gaza would not only rebuild but develop its economy. The Gazans live in peace and eventually prosperity. They continue to self govern and ultimately become a part of a Palestinian State along with the people of the West Bank. Instead, we have the Hamas ideology and actions that have ignited death and destruction. Gazans need to decide whether they love their children more than they hate Israel. -more-

Israeli Ship Blocked in Oakland

Steve Martinot
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:53:00 PM

In solidarity with the people of Gaza, and the horrendous attacks upon it by Israel that have killed hundreds, people of the Bay Area came together and blocked an Israeli ship from docking and unloading its cargo in Oakland. Blocking the ship was an enormous effort by the community and the union together. -more-

War Is Peace Bulletin (Department of Oh Sure)

Dave Blake
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:38:00 PM

From the No on Measure R (.org) campaign. (The only name attached to the site is Eric Panzer, but it's publicized by mass email from John Caner, president of the Downtown Berkeley Association, a public-private entity financed by taxes on Berkeley downtown property owners and controlled by them in proportion to their monetary contribution.):

“The backers of the new Measure R refer to it by their campaign slogan, ‘Berkeley's Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative.’ Since this anti-growth initiative will actually undermine Berkeley's green policies in protecting the environment and reducing greenhouse gases, the initiative's slogan represents a well-known type of political subterfuge called ‘greenwashing,’ which is disinformation designed to project an environmentally friendly public image.”

Greenwashing is, per its Wikipedia page, “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.” The Downtown Plan was passed by the Council with a Green Pathway component that provided developers with a rapid approval process in exchange for agreeing to follow green building standards and increase the amount of affordable housing they provide. No downtown development has chosen to take the Green Pathway in the history of the Plan, which means that the Green Pathway element has proven to be textbook greenwashing, as opponents claimed when it was enacted. Measure R softens the requirements of the Green Pathway, but makes them mandatory. -more-

War on Reporters & Whistleblowers

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:26:00 PM

In a new report, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union issue dire warnings of "large-scale surveillance seriously hampering U.S.-based journalists and lawyers in their work." They describe an unhealthy media climate where journalists are forced take time consuming steps to protect their sources. Sources are now in mortal fear of talking, as aggressive prosecutions scare government officials into remaining silent, even about issues that are unclassified. -more-

Why I'm Running for Berkeley School Director

Norma J F Harrison
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:52:00 PM

I have studied ‘education’ for 70 years. I’ve seen over and over the futility of the constant, always unsuccessful reform efforts. The reforms do not, cannot! begin to rectify the inadequacy that school is. The problem is school itself. The artificiality of school lessons and classes is felt as insults by all concerned: students, teachers, and their families and communities. Substituting age-segregated routinization – lesson plans presupposing students' interests, abilities, lives they’re living that make the lesson relevant, so informational for them - in externally imposed classroom situations – classrooms created as a place for teachers and staff to earn a living, and for children to be warehoused as labor waiting until some artificially determined time to become a full participant in society - has to come under discussion. Continually expecting that the major tool of our oppression, school, be made useful has got to be the discussion; that and what the choices are. The choice obviously is us all doing our lives together instead of pretending that school equals work. Don’t make people pretend to do the hammering and sawing of living. Let us DO it. -more-

Genocide in Gaza

Jagjit Singh
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:32:00 PM

As the Israeli offensive in Gaza continues, more and more children continue to die – 467 since July. 3,000 have suffered severe injuries and 1,000 will suffer a lifelong disability; 1,500 have been orphaned. Many of their schools have been destroyed and few hospitals are fully functional. According to the United Nations, a staggering 373,000 children are severely traumatized. Their future remains extremely bleak. Over 1 million of Gaza’s 1.8 million are children under the age of 17. -more-

Why Does the World Condemn Israel?

Richard Thompson
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:28:00 PM

Very recent events include Israel receiving two-thirds of a billion dollars from the United States to install Iron Dome; Israel promptly withdrew from the "two-state" negotiations. And called Sec. of State John Kerry a stinker for saying Israeli artillery trajectories were "imprecise." After killing 1600+ Palestinians while suffering fewer than 100 deaths themselves, Israel's munitions were replenished by the United States. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Sanctions & the Dollar: A Fall From Grace?

Conn Hallinan
Saturday August 23, 2014 - 11:52:00 AM

The recent round of sanctions aimed at Moscow over the crisis in the Ukraine could backfire on Washington by accelerating a move away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. While in the short run American actions against Russia’s oil and gas industry will inflict economic pain on Moscow, in the long run the U.S. may lose some of its control over international finance. -more-


Jack Bragen
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:08:00 PM

Many people who are involved in the mental health treatment system, or people who believe they know something about persons with mental illness, are under the impression that we would be just fine if only we would take our medication. In fact, mere compliance to the wishes of treatment professionals and sometimes families is not adequate to make our lives workable. The willingness to take medication entails a great deal of sacrifice. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Is GOP Lawsuit against Obama Based Partly on Racism?

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:40:00 PM

On July 30, 2014, the Republican-led House approved a resolution authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Barack Obama over claims he abused his powers at the expense of Congress and the Constitution. Republicans argue Obama's executive orders in a number of areas were unlawful because it's the job of Congress to make or change laws. However, the GOP are basing their lawsuit on his handling of the Affordable Care Act. And there are persistent rumors that the House plans to impeach Obama. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: John Yoo and the Senate Torture Report

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:33:00 PM
John Yoo (from

Professor John Yoo stepped away from his lectern at the UC Berkeley School of Law to send an e-mail to the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the forthcoming Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) torture report saying that if "torture was used and it didn't work, she [Senator Dianne Feinstein] is flat wrong." Yoo claimed the report failed to maintain "bipartisanship" that "will undermine its conclusions." I suspect that this is a preemptive attack by Yoo as the release of the Senate torture report will probably place Yoo on the hotseat again. -more-

SENIOR POWER : more about the G word

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:14:00 PM

Sunday, September 7, is National Grandparents Day, an annual secular holiday celebrated in the United States since 1978. Then-President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. It is expected to grow in significance as the number of grandparents in the United States rises as a result of the baby boom. A national grandparents day is officially recognized in a number of countries on various days of the year. -more-

Arts & Events

Love Is Strange (and Sweet and Touching, Too)
Landmark Shattuck, Opens August 29

Gar Smith
Saturday August 23, 2014 - 03:07:00 PM

Ben (John Lithgow) is a striving artist whose oil paintings have not yet made a dent on the walls of Manhattan's art galleries. George (Alfred Molina) is the breadwinner, teaching music at a New York school. They've lived together in a comfy New York apartment for 39 years and now, with social mores starting to drift away from their conservative moorings, Ben and George decide to celebrate the state's new gay marriage laws by inviting friends and family to a touching outdoor wedding. This affirmation becomes their undoing. -more-

Review: Mendocino Music Festival--Fredericka von Stade, Suzanna Smith and Kenny Washington, and the Festival Orchestra Playing the Music of Julian Pollack, Sibelius and Rachmaninoff

Ken Bullock
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:00:00 PM

Looking out from above the fine restaurant and Grey Whale bar at the venerable old "Mac House" on Albion Street—the MacCallum House, a favorite hospitality stop for frequent visitors and locals alike, its lobby decorated with photographs of the MacCallum family and old Mendocino—over the peaked Victorian rooftops of Mendocino to a few blocks east where there is a line of treetops ... the forest comes right down to Highway One. To the south, Big River flows into Mendocino Bay. Then the Ocean coming into the headlands. Around the point of land the town sits on, there's Goat Island and Headlands Park. It's a pretty quick walk around the little town itself, or out onto the grassy headlands to the brink of the cliffs above the rocks with natural archways, the waters of the Pacific surging through them ... -more-

Merola Opera Program’s Grand Finale

James Roy MacBean
Friday August 22, 2014 - 02:57:00 PM

The 57th season of the Merola Opera Program’s eleven week intensive training session culminated Saturday evening, August 16, with the Grand Finale Concert. The 2014 Merola participants, nearly one-third of whom come from outside the USA, per-formed a selection of opera scenes on the big stage of the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Ari Pelto conducted the orchestra, and Apprentice Director Omer Ben Seadia staged this concert of arias and ensembles. -more-

Around & About Theater: 'Penthesilea' Free Outdoors at John Hinkel Park Amphitheater; Kurt Weill at Masquers Playhouse; Oscar Wilde at Marin Shakespeare

Ken Bullock
Friday August 22, 2014 - 01:20:00 PM

—The Amazons descend on the Trojan War to help the beleaguered city, capture Achilles ... whom their tough female chieftan, Penthesilea, becomes enamored of—and Achilles seems to reciprocate. But if the wars continue—will they have to face each other in combat? -more-