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Druggings, Sexual Assaults at U.C. Berkeley Fraternities

Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday February 26, 2016 - 10:28:00 AM

Four female students at the University of California at Berkeley are believed to have been drugged at two different fraternities on Friday evening, university police said. -more-


Five Star Flickers Out on University, Still Shines Brightly on Solano

Gar Smith
Friday February 26, 2016 - 06:31:00 PM

There's a special shock that chills the urban soul. You've felt it if you've ever made a pilgrimage to a favorite, long-time hangout—be it a restaurant, a bookstore, a boutique or a bar—only to discover the doors locked, the lights out and the enterprise suddenly, unexpectedly, inexplicably gone.

If you felt that familiar "disturbance in the force" recently, it could have been caused by the demise People's Coffee and Tea on Downtown Shattuck. Or it may have been the bittersweet vibes that marked the last call for Berkeley's Inkworks, the activist print collective that bowed out after 42 heroic years on February 20.

Or it could have been an emotional ripple from the closure of Berkeley's beloved Five Star Video at the corner of University and Sacramento, which pulled the plug on Sunday, February 21.

Fortunately, Five Star's larger operation on Solano Avenue in North Berkeley is still open for business—with offerings of tens of thousands of DVDs—mainstream, cult, rare, and eclectic—from the US and around the planet. -more-

The Stock Market's Stock Phrases

Gar Smith
Friday February 26, 2016 - 04:57:00 PM

We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

—Attributed to CIA Director William Casey in 1981 *

With the global economy once more teetering on the brink collapse, it is useful to remind ourselves that we live in a country where everyday life is defined by disinformation, misdirection and euphemisms.

Today, people who used to be known as "employees" or "workers" have learned not to expect better wages or benefits. Instead, they are flattered with empty, honorific titles. Yesterday's big-box "wage-slaves" are now addressed as "associates." Low-paid, part-time academics are called "adjuncts." CostCo employees have become "partners." (And once you've been granted the title of "partner," wouldn't it seem rude to ask for a raise?)

A few months ago, Crate and Barrel employees were expected to feel better when their massive layoffs were announced in a letter that read: "We are grateful to our departing associates for their hard work and service." [Emphasis added.]

And the folks who are still lucky enough to have jobs now flock to corporate outlets to spend their money on coffee, fast-food, and gadgets, flattered by the notion that they are no longer mere customers or cash-cows: They are now "guests," "customers," and "patrons."

At the same time, the corporate-owned mainstream media (which has been dominated by major Wall Street players including General Electric, Comcast, Westinghouse, and Viacom) perpetuate the confusion by draping their offerings beneath brightly branded veils. -more-

Public Comment

New: Clinton is the Choice for Anyone Who Can Think

Jack Bragen
Thursday March 03, 2016 - 09:49:00 AM

Jeff Hoffman: " If you're truly progressive, there's no way in hell you vote for Clinton, regardless of who she's running against."

Are you sure of that? Let's review some of the things Trump has been saying. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. He wants to deport all undocumuented workers. He is going to build a wall at the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. (The Mexican leader scoffed at this.) When asked about the Klu Klux Klan, he barely spoke a word of denouncemnt. He said he would bomb the s--- out of ISIS.

Jenna Johson of the Washington Post: Trump said he would "defund planned parenthood." Trump said, "The Environmental Protection Agency might also disappear." Trump said he would "Bar Syrian refugees from entering the country and kick out any who are already living here." He said he would: "Prosecute Hillary Clinton for her use of a private e-mail server while serving as secretary of state." Trump said he would, "Be unpredictable. 'No one is going to touch us, because I'm so unpredictable.'"

Nina Bahadur, of the Huffington Post: "Trump has consistently insulted, belittled, sexualized and stereotyped women. He has also taken the time to personally insult individual notable women like Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie O'Donnell, Cher, Bette Midler, and others."

When Obama was running, he claimed that Obama was not born in the U.S.

Mr. Hoffman, Hillary Clinton would be the first woman president. I think that counts for something. I thought progressives wanted a woman president. On the other hand Trump, a white male, is the most sexist public figure the U.S. has seen in the 21st century. -more-

The Housing Crisis: the strange failure of supply and demand

Steve Martinot
Friday February 26, 2016 - 05:03:00 PM

An exercise in economic process


We have a severe housing crisis. The supply-side advocates say that building market rate housing will meet part of the demand, and thus resolve the crisis. What I propose here is a specific exercise, hypothesizing specific terms relevant to this crisis, to test if this is true. We shall examine what happens when all market rate housing is built in the midst of a housing crisis, and what happens if all affordable housing is built in the midst of such a crisis.

To do this, I will first define a set of assumptions in order to map the limits of this exercise’s machinery. And then we shall examine three different cases of housing development: all market rate, all middle income affordable, and all low income affordable. -more-

Israeli Shin Bet guilty of Torture

Jagjit Singh
Friday February 26, 2016 - 04:51:00 PM

A new report by two Israeli human rights groups, B’Tselem and HaMoked, accuses the Israeli internal security agency, Shin Net of appalling treatment of Palestinian prisoners at the Shikma interrogation facility. Dozens of prisoners are exposed to extreme heat and cold, deprived of sleep, spat on, put in stress positions causing extreme pain and given sub-standard food. Many were denied shower facilities for days or weeks at a time. The report also highlighted the complicit nature of other security branches such as the Israeli prison system IPS), which turns a blind eye to these abhorrent practices. -more-

The President Must Not Delay Nominating Justice

Romila Khanna
Friday February 26, 2016 - 06:35:00 PM

I was watching TV today. The screen showed Justice Scalia’s empty seat in the Supreme Court. I was under the impression that President has the constitutional power to nominate a well-qualified candidate to fill the vacant seat. But it seems many of our lawmakers are worried that a justice appointed by the President would favor the president’s political leanings rather than the rule of law. Surely well qualified means a person dedicated to the rule of law. It seems that Republicans are obstructionist. -more-

New: Clinton vs. Trump

Jeff Hoffman
Tuesday March 01, 2016 - 09:51:00 PM

I find it laughable that anyone except for those with vested interests would care much who wins between Clinton and Trump. If the Democratic primary weren't rigged in favor of establishment candidates like Clinton and if Clinton didn't have a huge advantage of money and power behind her, we might be able to vote for Bernie Sanders against Trump. Sanders is the only choice for real progressives who would have a realistic chance of getting elected (obviously the Green and other minor party candidates are good choices ideologically, but they have no chance of winning). -more-


ABAG-MTC Merger Scheme Bodes Badly for Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday February 26, 2016 - 04:10:00 PM

My first real beat assignment after I decided to try my hand at journalism while waiting to get into law school was covering regional planning for the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The boss in those days, circa 1974, was Bruce Brugmann, a fire-breathing mudraker of the old school. He was roundly ridiculed in establishment quarters for a couple of hobbyhorses he was fond of riding.

One, PG&E, has turned out to be just about exactly as bad as Bruce thought it was, but sadly nothing much has been done about it. The once-mighty San Francisco Chronicle (transmogrified from the Hearst Examiner, a story too long to tell here) has been on the case for a couple of years after a pipeline blew up disastrously, but the long love affair between PG&E and the PUC continues. Brugmann was right all along. Now he’s retired and they’re still at it.

His other big bugaboo was his relentless opposition to what he labelled “the Manhattanization of San Francisco.” Despite his best efforts, the center of that city has gradually become a warren of dark concrete canyons, in a location where the Mediterranean climate depends on sunshine to be comfortable for the inhabitants. Manhattan itself, meanwhile, is gradually purging all inhabitants except international oligarchs who can go to one of their other homes when the gloom is too great. And now they’re colonizing San Francisco, and yes, even Berkeley.

Bruce knew something was up, even four decades ago. Regional planning in those days was being birthed in a few small offices on the basement level of the Claremont Hotel, walking distance from my house, which is probably why I got the assignment. It was mostly the Association of Bay Area Governments in those days, and there wasn’t much news coming out of the Claremont.

Fast forward to not too long in the past. Unbeknownst to almost everyone except a few hardcore planning groupies, regional planning has become the great big tail that wags the little dog. Its offspring in the California legislature, popularly known as SB375, is widely believed in some circles to be the devil’s spawn, engaged in taking over from our local governments with the goal of redesigning our home cities out from under us. A proposed ABAG-MTC merger could be the next step in the process. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley Girl Makes the Big Time

Friday February 26, 2016 - 06:50:00 PM

Jackie DeBose, former and still occasional Berkeley resident, is featured in a story in Saturday's New York Times

For Black Women in South Carolina, It’s Clinton’s Turn -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Clinton vs. Trump: First Impressions

Bob Burnett
Friday February 26, 2016 - 04:49:00 PM

Eight months before the presidential election, it’s clear that voters are going to have choose between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. It’s only been nine months since “the Donald” announced his candidacy, but in that time he has turned the Republican establishment upside down. The race to the finish line, on November 8, promises to be a nail biter. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Permanent Housing for Homeless: An Unsolvable Problem?

Ralph E. Stone
Friday February 26, 2016 - 04:54:00 PM

My wife and I arrived in San Francisco in 1971. Since at least that time, getting the homeless into housing or shelters has been a "concern" or a priority for every administration. Yet, the number of homeless keeps increasing from about 6,248 in 2005 to about 6,686 in 2015. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Thirty-Two Years on Antipsychotic Medications

Jack Bragen
Friday February 26, 2016 - 04:26:00 PM

Antipsychotic medications haven't made my intellect inoperative. I haven't become impaired from them. I am able to feel pain and to cry, and I am able to enjoy certain things. My mind is nimble enough to where I am not verbally outmaneuvered by most psychotherapists unless I allow it. -more-

Arts & Events

An Evening With Bruce Barthol and a Work in Progress:
The story of his life in the songs he’s written

Conn Hallinan
Thursday February 25, 2016 - 03:40:00 PM

It could have been a night of nostalgia. The Art House Gallery & Culture Center on Shattuck is covered with ‘60s kitsch, photos of demonstrators facing down cops, and rock posters from Avalon and the Fillmore. Bruce Barthol kicked off the evening of the sold out event with “Country Joe & the Fish’s” anti-war classic “Fixin’ to Die Rag,” but Barthol does not do memory lane, he does politics, the more current the better. -more-

All in a Day’s Work: Two Fine Pianists and a Bruckner Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday February 26, 2016 - 11:45:00 AM

On Thursday, February 25, I attended both a matinee performance at Davies Hall of the San Francisco Symphony with pianist Maria João Pires and, in the evening, Richard Goode’s piano recital at Herbst Theatre featuring an all-Bach program. Making her San Francisco Symphony debut, veteran Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires gave an exquisite performance in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37. With Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt leading the orchestra and Maria João Pires playing with sublime finesse, this was a performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto that emphasized the delicacy of this work. Ms. Pires never overstates the music. Even when playing fortissimo, she never hammers away as many other pianists do when playing Beethoven. Instead, Pires takes us inside the music, enabling us to feel the delicacy that often gets over-whelmed by more aggressive pianists. -more-