The Week



Victim in Berkeley Stabbing Dies

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday October 08, 2014 - 10:41:00 AM

A 72-year-old woman who was stabbed in Berkeley during an attempted carjacking three weeks ago died this morning, police said. -more-

New: FSM: A Play With Music About A Moment That Changed America

Reviewed by Conn Hallinan
Saturday October 04, 2014 - 10:40:00 PM

History plays present their own particular challenges. On one hand, the story is driven by the sequence of events in the real world. On the other, the drama has to engage an audience. The twain rarely meet. But Joan Holden’s FSM, under the able direction of Erin Merritt, with music and lyrics by Bruce Barthol and Daniel Savio, pulls off the still more daunting job of creating an evening of theater that entertains both those for whom the events include their own life stories and those for whom it is ancient history.

Subtitled “A play with music about a moment that changed America,” FSM covers a four month period in the fall of 1964 when students took on the University of California at Berkeley over the right to speak and organize on campus. There is a little bit of tongue-in-cheek in the title, and Holden wisely does not try to turn the “Battle of Berkeley” into the Second Coming. But, at the same time, she understands that something unique happened in those fall days when virtually the entire student body came together to confront the powerful and wealthy Board of Regents, and the students prevailed. That victory has echoed down the years, helping to propel the anti-war movement, the women’s movement, and battles around racism, South Africa, and Gay liberation. .

Commissioned by Stagebridge, an Oakland-based theater company of older adults, the play was written with the 50th anniversary of the FSM in mind. It was performed before packed audiences during a weeklong celebration on the Berkeley campus. Many in those audiences had taken part in the events the play portrayed, which made them both enthusiasts and critics. And, Lord, those FSMers can quibble and debate, just like they did a half-century ago. -more-



Berkeley Grapples with Big Soda

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 03, 2014 - 11:32:00 AM

At heart I’m a contrarian. All it takes is for someone to say “everyone knows” and my impulse is to say “just a doggone minute, let’s check the facts.”

There seems not to be a single person I’ve ever known in Berkeley who does not avow the deeply felt belief that good citizens must vote yes on Measure D, the one that puts a tax on soda pop. Like my fellow Berkeleyans, I deeply distrust your average big corporation, and the transparent campaigning by the Pop Lords puts me off in a big way. Their propaganda clogs my mailbox. Their sweet-faced minions ring my doorbell and innocently repeat the lies they’ve been fed by their bosses.

Pro-D-ers compare Big Soda to Big Tobacco. I know from Big Tobacco, having done a Mother Jones story about fires caused by cigarettes in my investigative reporter youth which took me to the New York City headquarters of the tobacco industry, where a huge disgusting ashtray full of cigarette butts graced the reception desk. It took approximately 30 years for regulations to be passed to somewhat control that problem.

So my instinct is to say that if Big Soda say Down it must be Up for sure. But the refrain from Glitter and Be Gay, which Richard Wilbur wrote for Bernstein’s Candide, keeps running through my brain: “And yet…”. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Schadenfreude Corner

Friday October 03, 2014 - 01:27:00 PM

From Richard Brenneman:

"Copy of an email I got via a friend:

'Bulldog Reporter has filed for bankruptcy and has closed its door for good as of today.' "

Those with long memories may recall that the Bulldog Reporter was the publication run by Jim Sinkinson, one of the unholy trinity who attempted to destroy the Berkeley Daily Planet with unjust accusations of anti-Semitism back in the days when criticism of Israel was effectively verboten.

See these articles , many written by Richard, to refresh your memory. What goes around comes around, as we used to say in the 60s. -more-

Planet Endorsements:
Mail Ballots Starting Monday

Friday October 03, 2014 - 01:46:00 PM

After the previous election some readers complained that they couldn't locate the Planet's endorsements when they went to vote. To make it as easy as possible, between now and the election we're going to maintain this corner of the front page where you can always find our endorsements along with links to editorial material with more detail about specific candidates and issues.

New this issue:

Measure D: no endorsement

Alameda County Measure BB: Yes

From last week: Yes on Berkeley Measure R.

Then, click here for the candidates: Which Berkeley City Council Candidates Should You Support?

Short Answers: District 1, Alejandro Soto-Vigil; District 4, Jesse Arreguin (unopposed); District 7, Kriss Worthington; District 8, Jacquelyn McCormick (rank her first, followed by George Beier, second, and Lori Droste, third. Skip fourth place. )

Finally , check out this May editorial with a self-explanatory title: Tony Thurmond is the Best Choice for California Assembly ...

We're pleased to see that Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has added his endorsement to Tony's long list of fans.

In this video you can see Tony explain his campaign in person at a Berkeley house party: -more-


Odd Bodkins: An Ugly Brown Ocean (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:24:00 PM

Public Comment

Perils of Peanuts

David Brown,Kalispell, MT
Sunday October 05, 2014 - 10:18:00 AM

Editor's Note: We usually avoid publishing articles that purport to give medical advice since we can't vouch for the credentials of the author. We're making an exception in the case of opinions on Berkeley Measure D, since it's a political question that embeds medical judgments within it, but we advise readers not to rely on opinion writers for health advice, but to consult a doctor.

In her "Berkeley Grapples With Big Soda" editorial Becky O'Malley said, "The problem is that from a public policy point of view you have to wonder if it’s a good idea to use the city’s taxing power to promote the latest theory from 'the controversial science of diet and health', no matter how tight it seems to be. And if it’s enacted as an ordinance through a ballot measure, it will take another citizens’ vote to repeal it if scientists change their minds."

Yeah, well most scientists don't pay enough attention to the scientific literature to sort things out. I've been studying nutritional issues and controversies for more than three decades. Rather soon after I began my investigations I concluded that excessive sugar intake was problematic. Unfortunately, up until about 5 years ago I didn't realize I was slowly doing myself in by consuming too much peanut butter.

to be sure, Peanuts are no more "poisonous" than sugar when consumed in moderation. But eating a peanut butter sandwich nearly daily during the work week for several decades is not wise. How so? Peanuts contain 4,000 milligrams of omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) in each 28 gram, one ounce serving of peanuts. National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientist Bill Lands emphasized this point in a 2009 presentation (Google - 1 of 4 Bill Lands) about tissue responses to excessive omega-6 intake. -more-

New: Disgusted!

Chris Darling, Richmond
Sunday October 05, 2014 - 10:11:00 AM

Editor's Note: We usually avoid publishing articles that purport to give medical advice since we can't vouch for the credentials of the author. We're making an exception in the case of opinions on Berkeley Measure D, since it's a political question that embeds medical judgments within it, but we advise readers not to rely on opinion writers for health advice, but to consult a doctor.

I am thoroughly disgusted with your editorial about Prop D in Berkeley.

The issue that cinches the deal in favor of D is obesity, not sugar per se. Comparing drinking soda to eating a white flour bagel or drinking a latte at Peet's really shows your ignorance about the issue. -more-

Death and Taxes: Yes on Alameda County Measure BB

Toni Mester
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:42:00 PM

With ballots arriving soon in a mailbox near you, the election campaigns are in full swing, and the alphabet soup of measures on the Berkeley ballot is heating up. There are eight proposals in front of the voters and two are direct taxes: Measure F, a special parcel tax to fund Berkeley parks, and Measure BB, the Alameda County Transportation sales tax. -more-

Who are the Khorasan Group?

Jagjit Singh
Friday October 03, 2014 - 01:25:00 PM

Who are the new fighters who have suddenly emerged in Syria called the Khorasan group? The administration claims they were closely linked to Bin Laden but this appears to be a pretext for launching the heavy bombing campaign which had the predictable results of killing a significant number of innocent victims a number who were fighting ISIS. The reason given for the attacks in Iraq and Syria keep changing – first it was humanitarian, now it’s to thwart an imminent attack on our homeland. -more-

October Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:30:00 PM

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. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Campaign 2014: What Do Women Want?

Bob Burnett
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:39:00 PM

Many themes have featured in the interminable run-up to the 2014 mid-term election: Obamacare, Obama’s use of presidential power, Iraq/Syria, fracking, to mention only a few. But the theme that is perhaps most central to the election – the role of women in our democracy – has gotten little press attention. Yet it’s women who will decide the outcome on November 4th. What do they want? -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: The Scottish Referendum in a Nutshell

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 03, 2014 - 01:04:00 PM

My wife and I just returned from a week's stay in Edinburgh, which was shortly after the Scottish independence vote. The Scots voted to stay with England 55 to 45 percent. There was no rioting in the street over the vote results. -more-


Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:35:00 PM

Diane Keaton’s new book may not be great literature, but it’s available in large print. In Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty, sixty-eight year old Keaton recounts a walk in East Side Manhattan. She passes the Museum of the City of New York, where “A Beautiful Way to Go: New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery” exhibit opened last year, celebrating Green-Wood’s 175 years. -more-

New: COUNTERPOINTS: Oakland Needs to Clean Up Its Own Trash

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Saturday October 04, 2014 - 12:42:00 AM

In explaining her decision to abstain on the "compromise" contract dividing Oakland's trash disposal contract between national giant Waste Management and Oakland-based California Waste Solutions-most of it going to Waste Management-the Oakland Tribune said that Councilmember Desley Brooks called it a a dangerous precedent. "It shows Oakland that when people don't get their way and they have a lot of money, they can do whatever they want," the newspaper quoted Ms. Brooks as saying. ("Oakland's $1 Billion Garbage Contract Goes Back To Waste Management Oakland Tribune September 22, 2014 .) -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Noncompliance Revisited

Jack Bragen
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:30:00 PM

Someone with mental illness may become noncompliant with treatment for numerous reasons. One possible reason is that you don't agree with your diagnosis. Another is that the side effects (for some people on some combinations of medications) are unbearable. Yet another reason for noncompliance is the loss of hope. -more-

Arts & Events

The Liberator: A Superbowl of SuperBolivarian Bravado
Opens October 3 at the Century 9 in San Francisco

Gar Smith
Friday October 03, 2014 - 12:42:00 PM

Let's start with a question: Why is it that an Academy-Award-nominated film about Simon Bolivar is NOT being screened in Berkeley? (I wish I had the answer to that.) Now to the review: -more-

Aeschylus’s The Persians: Greek Tragedy at the Getty Villa

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday October 03, 2014 - 01:23:00 PM

Every September, the Getty Villa at Malibu presents an ancient play, usually Greek or Roman, at their outdoor amphitheatre built according to ancient proto-types. Over the last eight years I have seen three productions: Euripides’ Hippolytos in 2006, Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound in 2013, and Aeschylus’s The Persians, which I just saw on Saturday, September 27, 2014. The Persians happens to be the earliest Greek play for which we have the whole text; and in this tragic play we get hints of the early development of Greek tragedy arising, as Aristotle alleges, out of choral dithyrambs. In The Persians, singing takes up nearly half the story and echoes archaic performances in honor of Dionysus before the first actor stepped forth from the chorus. -more-

Los Angeles Opera’s LA TRAVIATA

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday October 03, 2014 - 01:17:00 PM

In her fifth role in Los Angeles, soprano Nino Machaidze consolidated her status as a favorite of Angeleno audiences with a superbly sung Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, which I heard on Friday, September 26 at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This production, staged by Marta Domingo, reprised the Los Angeles pairing of Nino Machaidze and Placído Domingo heard in June in Massenet’s Thais. In La Traviata as in Thais, Placído Domingo sang a baritone rather than a tenor role, continuing his exploration of the baritone repertory, which he handles with as much vocal artistry as distinguished his tenor repertory. In La Traviata Domingo admirably sang the role of Giorgio Germont, father of Violetta’s lover, Alfredo Germont. As Alfredo, Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz turned in a sturdy performance that grew in stature as the opera progressed. -more-