The Week

Minimum wage protesters marching down Bancroft toward Shattuck in Berkeley
Rob Wrenn
Minimum wage protesters marching down Bancroft toward Shattuck in Berkeley


Flash: Ashby and Telegraph Re-Opened after Crash

From Nixle
Thursday April 16, 2015 - 06:04:00 PM

Telegraph and Ashby Avenues are now open after a traffic collision. -more-

Minimum Wage Demonstration has Closed University and Shattuck Intersection

From the Berkeley Police Department
Wednesday April 15, 2015 - 05:59:00 PM

The intersection of University and Shattuck [where McDonald's is located] is closed due to a demonstration. It is unknown when the intersection will reopen. We will provide updates as they become available. -more-

Minimum Wage Protesters Moving up Shattuck in Berkeley

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday April 15, 2015 - 06:02:00 PM

Hundreds of fast food workers and their supporters are marching through the streets of downtown Berkeley this evening calling for a $15 minimum wage, police and protesters said. -more-

Updated: Berkeley's Post Office Suit is Dismissed:
USPS Must Start All Over Again in Attempt to Sell

Antonio Rossman
Wednesday April 15, 2015 - 03:29:00 PM

Editor's Note: Antonio Rossmann of Rossmann and Moore,LLP, the firm that has been representing Berkeley in the city's suit to prevent the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office, has informed the Planet that the judge in the case has dismissed the suit in such a way that if the Post Office wants to try again to sell the building, it will have to start the whole process over from the beginning. Here is a summary of what happened from Rossmann and Roger Moore:

UPDATE from Roger Moore:

Today Judge Allsup issued another order in which he expressly retains jurisdiction until April 16, 2020, to enforce the court's requirement to provide the City and National Trust 42 days notice before closing any future sale or issuing any new decision to relocate the Berkeley Main Post Office.

This new order retaining the court's jurisdiction reinforces the understanding that the City and National Trust effectively won in their efforts to secure meaningful relief in their actions. They secured USPS's rescission of its decision to relocate the post office, prevented its sale, and obtained an enforceable court order requiring USPS' compliance with the court-established notice period before proceeding with any future decisions to relocate or to close on a sale.

From Antonio Rossmann:

Yesterday Judge Alsup dismissed the City’s and the National Trust’s cases challenging the USPS’s proposed relocation and sale of the Main Berkeley Post Office on the ground that the cases were moot. While the cases were dismissed, the result of Judge Alsup’s order is actually quite favorable to the plaintiffs, because in order to render the cases moot, the USPS had to formally rescind its decision to relocate the post office from 2000 Allston Way. The decision to relocate was the USPS’s first step in moving towards a sale. As a result, the USPS is back at square one, and there is no longer any decision to relocate postal services out of the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way . -more-

New: Two Men Injured in Suspected Shootout at Ashby BART in Berkeley

Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday April 13, 2015 - 10:15:00 AM

Two men in their 20s were injured in a suspected shootout between the occupants of two vehicles near the Ashby BART station in Berkeley early this morning, a police spokeswoman said. -more-

New: Alta Bates Hospital to Close by 2030

Lucy Smallsreed, President, Bateman Neighborhood Association
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 04:52:00 PM

Recently, rumors have been flying about the possible closure of Alta Bates Hospital. Unfortunately, they are not just rumors. According to Stacey Wells, ABSMC’s Director of Public Affairs, Sutter Health has decided to close Alta Bates Hospital by January 1, 2030. The 2030 date is driven by State law, which sets out strict seismic standards for medical facilities that all hospitals in California must meet by 1/1/2030.[1] Alta Bates currently does not meet the 2030 standards, and Sutter has decided not to incur the enormous expense of retrofitting to those standards. -more-

New: Berkeley Interfaith Religious Coalition Organizes “Night Out on Streets” in Solidarity with Homesless Thursday Night (Media Advisory)

From Bob Offer-Westort and Sally Hindman
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 05:45:00 PM

An interfaith coalition representing over 40 Berkeley religious congregations is organizing “Interfaith Actions in Solidarity with Homeless” people Thursday April 9 5pm to 6:15am Friday--at Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, Center and Shattuck Street, Berkeley. -more-

Recent Development Misses Berkeley's Real Housing Needs (News Analysis)

Tom Hunt
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:21:00 AM

For years we've been hearing that Berkeley needs all the new housing that can be built, at whatever price point the developers choose. But a quick review of the data confirmed my suspicion that developers have built way too much expensive housing and much too little housing for those whose income is moderate and below. It's even worse than I had previously thought.

First let's look at the last 8 years. 84% of the new housing in Berkeley was for households with greater than $92,566 yearly income (the orange top of the bars). -more-

Updated: Oakland Police shut down streets on Berkeley border seeking assault suspect

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 06:44:00 PM

Oakland police have shut down streets along the Berkeley border in North Oakland as they search for a suspect wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, police said.

The search is happening in the area of 65th to 66th streets and Herzog to Idaho streets, Oakland police said at about 5:15 p.m.

The suspect is described as a black man in his 30s standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds and wearing a black beanie cap, a gray jacket and blue jeans, police said. -more-

Free Film and Berkeley Planning Forum

Toni Mester
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:09:00 AM

The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council will show The Vanishing City in a free forum on Wednesday April 8 at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison Street from 7:15 to 9:30 PM.

The film documents how New York City destroyed vibrant neighborhoods and displaced diverse low and middle income residents by promoting the development of luxury high rises through a series of tax and zoning initiatives. Following a municipal fiscal crisis in the early 1970’s, tax exemptions for new housing and rezoning for density ignited a building boom that was accelerated in later decades by the use of eminent domain and mass evictions. Interviews with neighborhood organizers, academics, and politicians on the local and state level provide personal takes on the political narrative.

Jacquelyn McCormick, the President of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, will introduce the film, which will be followed by a discussion with Stephen Murphy, Chair of the Planning Commission and its role in planning the future of Berkeley. Topics may include affordable housing, community benefits, and the priority development areas (PDAs). -more-



Can Developer's Profits Provide Genuine Berkeley Benefits?

Becky O'Malley
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 12:50:00 PM

Readers must be as tired as I am of land use, land use, land use for the last few weeks. But here’s the thing: In this crazy economic world, the extremely rich, also known as the 1%, are at the moment burdened with extra capital which they need a place to park. That’s why we’re having a boom in construction of the luxury apartments which is now irrevocably altering the face of cities formerly famous for their charm. It’s been happening for a while in San Francisco.

For a complete examination of how it’s come down there, see the analytic journalism of Joseph Smooke and Dyan Ruiz at New York City’s luxury dwellings are in a class by themselves, as recently documented in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. London, Paris, Shanghai, you name it, real estate speculators are building glamorous high-rise pieds à terre to sell to the super-rich from all over the globe.

And now they’re coming to Berkeley. Soon. Not long ago, the development industry bought themselves a couple of Berkeley elections which had very poor voter participation. Measure R 1.0 promised everything except free apple pie to gullible greenish voters, notably without specifics. Some of those were filled in later by Mayor Tom Bates and his City Council majority. The centerpiece was their provision in Berkeley’s downtown plan for five extra-tall buildings, three private and two for U.C Berkeley, for developers who promised to provide “significant community benefits”, the meaning of which deliberately was left very vague, essentially undefined.

The most recent Measure R 2.0 ballot initiative was a poorly conceived though well-intentioned effort to fill in the blanks. This time developers outspent proponents by a factor of 10-1, and no surprise, they won, though not by any 10-1 margin, in an election with another record low turnout by confused voters.

Highrise Number One (no news to any regular reader of this space) is slouching toward Berkeley, ready to be born. That would be the now notorious 2211 Harold Way, named by its side street address to disguise the fact that developers plan to take out almost a whole block of thriving Shattuck Avenue restaurants, retail and worst of all, the 10-screen Landmark Shattuck Cinemas to create a site for their tower.

Yes, yes, promises, promises are being thrown around, but anyone who’s been around a Berkeley block more than once can recognize the old “vanishing cultural icon” trick.

(Watch my hands! At no time do my hands leave my wrists—and yet: The Lady Vanishes!) -more-

Berkeley LPC Follows Orders as Predicted

Becky O'Malley
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 09:40:00 AM

So, I went myself to Thursday night’s meeting of Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, and not to unduly prolong the suspense, they voted to do the will of Berkeley’s corporate masters, as expected. That is to say, they declined to designate Campanile Way on the University of California campus as a historic resource worthy of preservation, neither the road itself which is on campus nor the view from the Campanile out to the Golden Gate, which encompasses a fraction of the middle of the city of Berkeley and sweeps out over the Bay.

This account is much too long, so unless you’re interested in gory details you could stop reading now. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

I went not as a news reporter, which most often I’m not at this phase of my life, but wearing another hat, as one of the several former LPC commissioners who were present to express their opinion. (That would be a metaphorical hat—the best physical hat in the room was the flowered bonnet worn by a designation opponent who identified him/herself as Alfred, and who wore a lovely ‘60s prairie dress to go with it.) -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Don't Forget about the Community Benefits Workshop Tonight at 7

Wednesday April 15, 2015 - 04:32:00 PM

Don't forget about the Community Benefits Workshop which Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguín, representing District 4, including Downtown Berkeley,and Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board members Sophie Hahn and Shoshana O'Keefe are hosting on TODAY, Wednesday, April 15, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. -more-

New: Just BARFin’ Along With Berkeley Mayor Bates and his staff

Becky O'Malley
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 11:18:00 AM

If it wasn’t such a cliché, I might say that you can’t make this stuff up. How could it be ethical for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who will eventually be reviewing variances sought by 2211 Harold Way in his quasi-judicial role, to lobby himself using the services of his taxpayer-funded aide, who seems to be organizing “a special Berkeley sub-group” of the now notorious SF BARF group which fronts for developers?

It appears that the Berkeley activities of the pro-development San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation are being coordinated out of the office of Berkeley Mayor Bates, or at least by one of his city-paid staffers. A reader who lurks on the San Francisco BARF list-serv forwarded this communication to us: -more-


Bounce: Flying Banksters (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 11:28:00 AM

Public Comment

New: An Open Letter Re: Fair and Equal Access to Berkeley Sports Fields

Rajiv Bhatia;Sachu Constantine;Betsy Cory;Robert Derham;Jane Fischberg;Jeremy Giovannetti;Johnathan Heller;John Balmes;Nate Brownlow; Mokhtar Paki;
Tuesday April 14, 2015 - 12:11:00 PM

To Mayor Tom Bates;Chair, Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission;Berkeley City Manager;Berkeley City Attorney

As residents, parents, and sports field users, we request that the City of Berkeley immediately stop outsourcing its responsibilities for public sports fields’ reservations. The City’s longstanding practice, allowing the Association of Sports Field Users (ASFU) to establish and implement Berkeley policy for who gets to use our public spaces, has ceded a government responsibility to a self-interested party, removed public means for governmental accountability, and unfairly restricted recreational opportunities for Berkeley residents. -more-

New: Proposal for a Performing Arts Center in Harold Way Plaza

Jennifer Boesing, Producing Artistic Director, Youth Musical Theater Company; Mark Streshinksy, General Director, West Edge Opera; Ilona McHugh, Artistic Director, Berkeley Ballet
Tuesday April 14, 2015 - 10:21:00 AM

Editor's Note: This proposal was handed out at the April 7 Berkeley City Council meeting.

A performing arts center in the heart of the downtown district would thrive and create a lasting gift to the people of Berkeley. As the Artistic Directors of deep-rooted and thriving Berkeley based performing arts companies, we know how much our community loves to both go to and be in live performances. We represent many disciplines, including theater, music and dance. We serve audiences from all of the Bay Area, we educate young people, and we bring thousands of people to our performances every year. But as much as our community loves what we do, we do not have an adequate, affordable space in Berkeley for our resident companies to perform.

0ur proposal is for the construction of a 400 seat performing arts center on the lower floor of the Harold Way project. In addition to the theater, there would be space for a several state of the art movie theaters, which could be run by Landmark films, or another independent operator. The City would own the performing arts venue and lease it to a non-profit, which would be responsible for the running of the performing arts venue. There would be two separate but compatible entities within the space, one for running the movie theaters and one for running the performing arts venue. The two would share restrooms and lobby space but would otherwise be independent operators. -more-

The City is Still For Sale

Joan Holden
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 02:52:00 PM

Editor's Note: Joan Holden, the author of this letter, grew up in Berkeley. She was a longtime member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe collective, and wrote most of their best plays, including in the 1990s "City for Sale", an early depiction of how real estate speculation in the Bay Area was destroying small businesses and low-cost housing. It's only gotten worse since then, and has now come to Berkeley. If you live or work in San Francisco, or just love the city, you might want to go to the meeting.

The Academy of Art University is all over this town. You see its logo everywhere in downtown, North Beach and South of Market, on dozens of former office buildings, stores, & industrial sites that it has turned into classrooms and studios. What you don’t see, because no signs proclaim it, is the FOR-PROFIT school’s impact on the city’s vanishing stock of affordable housing. As high rents displace longtime residents in droves, the AAU is gobbling up apartment buildings, motels, artists’ live-work buildings and single-occupancy hotels to house its mainly transient young students, a third of them recruited from abroad via the school’s giant marketing operation.

The AAU evicted the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. To date, it has taken over 15 apartment buildings, two artists-live work buildings, a downtown hotel, and motels on Lombard St. and Van Ness Avenue—conservatively, 1000 dwelling units. In contrast to the Arts Institute and the Conservatory of Music, both of which have announced plans to build student housing, the AAU plans NO new units: its growth plan calls only for “acquiring housing", in the city’s most-marketable neighborhoods. -more-

It's Gerrymandering!

Ron Lowe
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 04:05:00 PM

Two Democrats from Massachusetts are suggesting that Nancy Pelosi should step down from her House leadership post because of Democratic losses in the 2014 election. -more-

RE: Proposals on Homelessness in the City of Berkeley

Peace and Justice Commission
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:46:00 PM

Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council:

The Peace and Justice Commission advises the City Council on all matters relating to the City of Berkeley’s role in issues of peace and social justice (Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) Chapter 3.68.070).

On March 17, 2015, the City Council referred to the City Manager a packet of proposed ordinances proposed by development interests, which would ban ten types of behavior typical of urban homelessness, including un-permitted cooking on the sidewalk, panhandling within ten feet of a parking pay station, and placing objects within three feet of a tree well.

These proposals are the latest step in an ill-considered, repressive policy against the marginalized homeless population. In 2012, the Council placed Measure S before the voters, a proposition that would have outlawed sitting on the sidewalks in commercial districts. After a hard-fought campaign, the measure was defeated by the electorate.

Such proposals, whatever their rhetoric, have the effect of criminalizing the poor. They do nothing to address the root causes of homelessness. Better ways can be found to confront the social problems of wealth and racial inequality, lack of affordable housing, and mental illness. -more-

Peace and Justice Commission Address Behavior Against the Homeless by Berkeley Ambassadors

Peace and Justice Commission
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:41:00 PM

WHEREAS, the Peace and Justice Commission of the City of Berkeley advises the City Council on all matters relating to the City of Berkeley’s role in issues of peace and social justice (Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) Chapter 3.68.070); and -more-

The Culture of Low Expectations-- No Longer!

Harry Brill
Friday April 10, 2015 - 10:39:00 AM

On Wednesday April 15 beginning 4pm, there will be a Raise the Wage rally at UC Berkeley's Sproul Plaza (Bancroft & Telegraph). Then we will march to a downtown fast food establishment to demand a major increase in wages and benefits for its employees. More than 60,000 underpaid Fast Food Workers across the United States will strike and protest for $15 an hour and a union. It is immensely important that we join them. -more-

April Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Wednesday April 15, 2015 - 10:48:00 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. -more-

Police Misconduct

Jagjit Singh
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:24:00 PM

What has become an all too familiar scene, another defenseless African-American, is gunned down by a white police officer. Without ordering an investigation, the North Charleston Police Department rushed to defend officer Michael Slager. But a video captured by a bystander showed Slager shot the victim, Walter Scott, in the back and casually walked over, handcuffed the dying man and then placed a taser next to his body in a botched effort to blame the victim. -more-

New: Who's Schwartz?

Bennett Markel
Thursday April 09, 2015 - 09:11:00 AM

I disagree with this Paul Schwartz (I never heard of him. What business is he in and what is he doing on The Landmark Preservation Commission? Who appointed him?). My friend Becky O'Malley knows about such matters, and I trust her judgment. -more-

New: Whose Tantrum? (Paul Schwartz's Complaints)

Glen Kohler
Thursday April 09, 2015 - 08:44:00 AM

LPC member Paul Schwartz's literary hissy fit is replete with vague complaints and accusations leveled at Becky O’Malley for her critical review of the Landmark Preservation Commission meeting about the view of the Golden Gate from the U.C. Berkeley campus. -more-

New: Dear Vaccination Objectors: an open letter

Margot Smith
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 04:51:00 PM

How soon you forget our history! Vaccinations stopped the spread of many noxious diseases. My grandmother lost 5 children in one week to diphtheria. When I went to school, many children were absent at times because of scarlet fever, mumps and measles, and their families were quarantined. Warm pools were built in many cities, including Berkeley, to treat children paralyzed because of polio. I saw faces scarred by small pox and chicken pox. Pregnant women who caught rubella had children who were deaf, retarded and otherwise damaged. Boys who had mumps were unable to father children. -more-

New: An open letter to the Berkeley City Council: A civil streets proposal

Tom Lord
Monday April 06, 2015 - 03:58:00 PM

It now appears that a City Ambassador unlawfully attacked two men in Downtown Berkeley and moreover the Ambassador and the Berkeley Police misled both the public and the court as to what had transpired. -more-

New: Harold Way Project Reveals Deceptions in Berkeley's Planning

Rick Spaid
Monday April 06, 2015 - 03:37:00 PM

One of the political truisms of our times is that for every inconvenient truth, there always arises a plethora of convenient myths to confuse and mislead the public by obfuscating the real issues at stake, and nowhere is this more evident than in the recent debate over the future of development in Berkeley occasioned by the 2211 Harold Way Project. -more-

New: A Case Study in Tantrum Journalism; Op-ed piece by Becky O’Malley in the Saturday April 4, 2015 issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Paul M. Schwartz, member of the Landmark Preservation Commission of the City of Berkeley.
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 10:20:00 AM

Ms. O’Malley attended the Thursday April 2, 2015 LPC commission meeting as an advocate of a view on a particular zoning issue. She stated she was not there in a role as a reporter. The vote did not go her way. -more-

New: California’s Drought

Tejinder Uberoi
Monday April 06, 2015 - 04:19:00 PM

Governor Brown’s executive order imposing mandatory water use reductions of 25 percent on California’s cities and towns is certainly a step in the right direction. But why has California’s giant agriculture industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the state’s water use, been given a free pass? There is little incentive for California’s agricultural farmers to conserve and make the hard choices eliminating water intensive crops such as alfalfa and rice in favor of water sustainable crops. Almonds use about 10% of California’s water and alfalfa about 12%. Almonds are an export cash crop funded by ‘eastern banks’ at high profit margins but contribute little to the local economy. Each almond requires about 1 gallon of water. -more-

Literature and Drama Classes Help

Romila Khanna
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:34:00 AM

Literature and drama classes help students to find emotional balance. They open doors to how other people live. By entering in imagination into other people’s lives, students become friendly and more open to others. They see their own pain and difficulty as part of the process of becoming adult. They see their own happiness as part of the process of giving praise. -more-

Ultimatum to Netanyahu's Government Long Overdue

Jagjit Singh
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:33:00 AM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his pre-election racist diatribe against Arabs, pledged unequivocally, “there will never be an independent Palestinian State.” In recent interviews, rabbis, scholars and Jews from across the country and a range of denominations said that his campaign tactics had further divided American Jews and alienated even some conservatives, who had already suspected that he was more committed to building settlements than to building peace with the Palestinians. -more-

The Republicans Have Abolished Empathy

Harry Brill, East Bay Tax The Rich Group
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:18:00 AM

As you know, both Republican dominated houses of Congress have approved a morally outrageous budget that will, in effect, deprive millions of Americans of necessities so that the very rich can enjoy more luxuries. It seems that the Republicans have abolished empathy. Yet incredibly, the Republicans feel morality is on their side. The writer, Upton Sinclair made an excellent observation that explains the moral blindness of the greedy --- "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding". As Paul Krugman observed, many of those with very high incomes are concerned that adequately funding social programs will increase their taxes. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Yemen & The Congress of Reaction

Conn Hallinan
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:20:00 PM

While the ostensible rationale for Saudi Arabia’s recent intrusion into Yemen is that the conflict is part of a bitter proxy war with Iran, the coalition that Riyadh has assembled to intervene in Yemen’s civil war has more in common with 19th century Europe than the Middle East in the 21st. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Iran: Diplomacy or War?

Bob Burnett
Friday April 10, 2015 - 10:37:00 AM

We’re on the brink of a historic treaty to constrain Iran’s nuclear capabilities, but the details are still hazy and most Americans haven’t made up their minds. Early polls indicated broad support for the agreement with Republicans the most resistant. Before the end of June, when the details of the treaty are worked out, President Obama has to convince Congress and the US public that a rapprochement with Iran is in our long-term interest. If we turn away from this treaty, we’re likely headed to war with Iran.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll found opinions on the Iran nuclear agreement split along party lines. 50 percent of Democrats supported it, 10 percent were opposed, and 39 percent were unsure. 31 percent of Republicans support the treaty, 30 percent are opposed, and 40 percent are unsure. 33 percent of Independents support the agreement, 21 percent are opposed, and 45 percent are unsure.

It’s worth remembering that, in the fifties, the United States helped Iran start its nuclear program under our “Atoms for Peace” initiative. In 1979, the US-Iran relationship went south when the Iranian revolution toppled the Shah. In 2003, Iran made a clandestine offer to the Bush Administration to guarantee full transparency to the Iran nuclear program in return for security assurances and normalization of relations; unfortunately, the Bush White House did not respond. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Two Topics This Week

Jack Bragen
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:06:00 PM

Nineteen Years

April Fool's Day marks the nineteenth year since my last hospitalization.

I recall that when I was in the psych ward upon being 5150'd, I was reinstated on medication, but at too low a dosage. (I initially refused medication, and a Reese Hearing was done in which a judge ordered me to take medication.) It was a level of medication that barely stabilized me enough to function out of the hospital, and the dosage was soon raised.

I had been 5150'd at a church in Pleasant Hill--I had walked there from where I lived in downtown Martinez. I had been seen wandering around the streets of Martinez in a delusional state.

That last episode, although not much different of an experience than the previous one of six years before, had more long-term bad effects. It was a struggle of a number of months before I could get my mind freed of a bad case of psychosis. Even after that, and even to this day, I find things are more difficult than they were. Many of my symptoms affect types of functioning that ninety-nine percent of people probably never question. For example, I have acquired a case of agoraphobia.

I owe my lack of relapses since that time to having made an irrevocable commitment to compliance with treatment. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Rwanda, a U.S. Friend and Ally--
U.S Realpolitik at Work

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:27:00 PM

On April 7, 2015, President Barack Obama marked the 21st anniversary of Rwanda's 1994 mass killings "that would claim the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandan men, women, and children and mark the beginning of one hundred days of horror for Rwanda’s people." However, President Obama made no mention about Rwandan President Paul Kagame's role in the four-year Rwandan civil war leading up to the civil war and the twenty years after, which include 5 million or more deaths in the Congo and in Rwanda. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Jeb Bush: The Return of “Compassionate” Conservatism

Bob Burnett
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:16:00 AM

Sixteen months before the Republican convention, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a slight favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination. Given that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, Bush vs. Clinton should be an interesting race. Although Jeb Bush is a typical right-wing Republican, he will attempt to soften his image and portray himself as a “compassionate” conservative, as did his brother in 2000. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: San Francisco Sheriff on the Hot Seat Again

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:14:00 AM

It has been widely reported that the San Francisco Sheriff's deputies are accused of forcing inmates to fight "gladiator-style" to entertain guards who bet on the outcome and even forced the inmates to train for future fights. What has not been widely discussed, is, if the allegations are true, what responsibility does San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have for the misconduct? What did he know and if he did not know, why not? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Real Versus Imagined Threats

Jack Bragen
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:06:00 AM

It is important for people with schizophrenia to distinguish imagined threats versus real ones. Psychosis can take over the mind and can make us feel threatened, anxious, and frightened. This emotional upset can then snowball into worse symptoms of psychosis. It is important for us to prevent getting excessively upset over things. Once we become excessively upset about real or imagined problems, it opens the door for a possible relapse. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Old age comes on suddenly; forever is composed of nows-- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:22:00 AM

Two new (2014) books:

Atul Gawande (1965- ). Being Mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end.

Donald Hall (1928- ). Essays After Eighty.

Frontline’s Feb. 10, 2015 program was based on Dr. Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End. Gawande’s fields are journalism, public health, and surgery.

He must have been in his late forties when he wrote this book about the modern experience of mortality. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he went to Stanford for his B.S., Oxford for his M.A., and Harvard Medical School. He has been both a MacArthur Fellow and Rhodes Scholar.

“Mortal” is an adjective relating to human beings subject to death. It is also used to mean deadly, fatal. Gawande writes, this is a book “…about what it’s like to be creatures who age and die, how medicine has changed the experience and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about how to deal with our finitude have got the reality wrong.” When doctors and patients talk death, hope is not a plan. The goal of medicine should not be a good death, but rather, a good life to the very end. -more-

Arts & Events

Teach-in on Berkeley Development and Affordable Housing on Saturday, April 18

From Margot Smith
Friday April 10, 2015 - 10:43:00 AM

Come to a Teach-in and discussion on Berkeley Development & Affordable Housing co-sponsored by Berkeley Citizens Action, Berkeley Neighborhoods Council and the Coalition for a Sustainable Berkeley.

San Francisco journalists and activists Joseph Smooke and Dyan Ruiz will provide the keynote talk for the event. Smooke and Ruiz wrote an excellent article on why building more luxury housing won’t create any more affordable housing in the Bay Area. Additonal speaker are Rob Wrenn, former member of the Planning Commission and Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, Steve Finacom, past President of the Berkeley Historical Society, and Tom Hunt, former member of the Berkeley Transportation Commission.

Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m. Berkeley Arts Festival space, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley (Near Walnut and Ace Hardware) Wheelchair Accessible. All Welcome. -more-

Joshua Bell Dazzles in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday April 11, 2015 - 03:59:00 PM

On Thursday afternoon, April 10, a sold-out audience showed up at Davies Hall to hear Joshua Bell; and the pixyish violinist did not disappoint. With the San Francisco Symphony led by Spanish guest conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, Joshua Bell performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D-Major, which work replaced the Beethoven Violin Concerto originally scheduled. (No reason was given for the switch in programming.) -more-

New: A Sparkling L’ELISIR D’AMORE at San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday April 06, 2015 - 04:20:00 PM

Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore is a perennial crowd-pleaser, full of rustic exuberance, well-delineated characters, and a brilliant vocal and instrumental score. This opera has captivated audiences ever since its première on May 12, 1832, at Milan’s Canobiana Theatre, where it was an instant success. Recently, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music gave two fully staged performances of L’Elisir d’Amore on Thursday, April 2, and Saturday, April 4 in their Hume Concert Hall. -more-

West Edge Opera’s Concert Version of Donizetti’s POLIUTO

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:40:00 AM

Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Poliuto, now rarely performed, experienced a difficult delivery at birth. Donizetti, who was appointed director of the Naples Conservatory in 1837, originally prepared Poliuto for an 1839 première in Naples. However, when Neapolitan censors gave him trouble over Poliuto, Donizetti resigned his post in Naples and took off for Paris, where he produced in quick succession Poliuto, La Fille du Régiment , and La Favorite. -more-