Full Text

<B>Vote for Larry Potter for President. He's a real Yaller Dawg.</B>
Delia Schletter
Vote for Larry Potter for President. He's a real Yaller Dawg.


Updated: Major Berkeley Power Outage--BART Not Stopping Downtown

Scott Morris (BCN)and Planet
Monday April 25, 2016 - 10:44:00 AM

UPDATE at 1:15. Anthony Bruce reports that the lights went on at the Berkeley Post Office at 12.45. PGE still maps two outages, one in North Berkeley and another south of the U.C. Campus. 

Trains are not stopping at the Downtown Berkeley BART station this morning because of a power outage, BART officials said.

BART reported the service disruption at about 9:45 a.m. Many traffic lights in Berkeley have also been affected by the outage.

PG&E reports that close to 17,000 customers in the Berkeley/Albany area are affected, and service is not expected to be restored until at least noon. More information can be found on the pge.com website

Anti-BDS Posters Appear on U.C. Berkeley Campus; Management Responds

Hank Chapot
Friday April 22, 2016 - 11:05:00 PM

These anti-BDS flyers appeared on campus last week. Grounds personnel were told take them down and report to police. I blacked out the names. Management response below; 

The following message is sent on behalf of Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman 


Dear Campus Community: On Monday, April 18th, several hostile posters targeting members of the Muslim Student Association and the Students for Justice in Palestine student groups appeared on campus. The posters name specific students, and they seem clearly intended as a tactic of harassment and intimidation.

In accordance with our well known 'time, place, and manner' rules, we have taken down the posters. UC Berkeley remains committed to combatting all forms of bias and discrimination, just as we condemn intimidation techniques that are at odds with the kind of respectful and inclusive environment we strive to create. We also fully support the UC Regents' recently-adopted statement on intolerance.

We thank those of you who have made reports to UCPD and to Ethics Point, and we exhort all in our campus community to use this opportunity to reinforce our values as a campus, and to report any further incidents.  

Nils Gilman
Associate Chancellor 

Chief of Staff to Chancellor Dirks 


[EDITOR'S NOTE: These red-baiting posters denounce the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, a campaign by Palestinians and other supporters both Jewish and non-Jewish to change Israel's policy toward Palestine. They bear the URL of horowitzfreedommovement.com, a project associated with ultra-conservative David Horowitz. When Horowitz, a self-described red diaper baby, was my classmate at UC Berkeley in 1960 he was an intransigeant ultra leftist, reflecting and amplifying the politics of his family of origin. A mutual acquaintance, another red diaper baby who grew up with Horowitz in the Bronx, told me that David's mother was the person who delivered the latest Stalinist message from door to door in the old neighborhood. Evidently his current posture is an over-reaction to his upbringing, perhaps more easily explained in Freudian than in political terms.]  





Mayan Weavers’ Cooperative In Berkeley This Weekend

Charlene Woodcock
Friday April 22, 2016 - 02:05:00 PM

Jolom Mayaetik is the name in Tzotzil of a Mayan weavers’ cooperative formed in 1996 in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. The Zapatista uprising of 1994 was probably the catalyst for its formation, along with the failure of the Chiapas state weavers’ cooperative to benefit its members. And in 2016 Jolom Mayaetik continues to serve the interests of women whose beautiful, complex work has been taken for granted or marginalized in the past but whose technical skills and aesthetic traditions are providing a means for them to gain independence and also to provide financial support for their families at a time when they are increasingly forced into a cash economy. 

Some of us in this country regret the loss of once ubiquitous handcrafts, functional art, that in the past provided both an income and creative satisfaction for those who made pottery for use, wove and sewed textiles for clothing and home use, were masters of woodworking and the building skills. It is deeply satisfying to see the successful effort of this women’s cooperative to carry on an art tradition that has been passed from mother to daughter over hundreds of years. One of the most accomplished members of the cooperative, Magdalena López López, began learning to weave at age seven. Because her mother had died, she asked her stepmother to teach her but was rebuffed. But her father saw that she was serious and began to buy her yarn, and she observed other weavers closely until she mastered the techniques. She has created two thirty-foot tapestries that document the hundreds of weaving patterns that she learned or created, one of which was displayed last year at the Museum of the Americas in Madrid. Her nine-year-old daughter takes justifiable satisfaction in her own work (2015 photos below). 

Textiles from the Jolom Mayaetik weavers’ cooperative will be on display and the cooperative president Elvia Gomez Lopez will be demonstrating backstrap loom weaving at The Gardener, 1836 Fourth Street in Berkeley, 2 to 4 PM Saturday April 30, and at Talavera, 1801 University Avenue, Berkeley, Saturday and Sunday May 7 and 8, noon to 6 PM. For further information, charlene@woodynet.net.



In a Quandary about the Election? Vote for a Real Yaller Dawg

Becky O'Malley
Friday April 22, 2016 - 02:04:00 PM
<B>Vote for Larry Potter for President. He's a real Yaller Dawg.</B>
Delia Schletter
Vote for Larry Potter for President. He's a real Yaller Dawg.

“The Democratic primary is essentially over, although the Sanders campaign is still fundraising off naive supporters by claiming that it has a real shot.”

Thank goodness, I didn’t write that sentence, or I’d never eat lunch in this town again (a line which I think I stole from a Bette Davis movie.)

Truthfully, I might have written it, but Paul Krugman beat me to it. The in-house math nerd has been fulminating today over a Sanders email pitch he got this morning claiming that The Bern is only behind by 1.4%, based on the right-tilting RealClearPolitics website’s data from before the New York primary. More recent and more objective polling aggregators show at least a 5% gap.

Me, I’ve learned how to use the “unsubscribe” buttons, so I’m not getting nearly as many money requests from either candidate as he is. And money doesn’t seem to do what it used to.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Sanders spent about $9.03 per vote in the New York primary, while Clinton spent only about $3.62 per vote. Trump? Thirteen cents per vote. And she’s supposed to be the rich candidate. Go figure.

Sanders has been a valuable contributor to the public discourse, enunciating all the right goals which the ultimate anti-Republican candidate (also known as The Democrat) should be backing come November. He’s managed to drag Clinton along with him, most of the time not even kicking and screaming.

It’s not such a terrible idea for him to go on shaking the money tree for a couple of months longer, because progressive political organizations can always make good use of cash. But now it’s time for left-thinking voters to make lemonade out of those lemons which are falling out of the tree. 


I’ve referred in this space at least once to Yellow Dog Democrats, voters so appalled by what the Republicans have become that they’d even vote for an old yellow dog rather than, e.g., Donald Trump. 

What I’ve only recently realized is that the candidate we should all unite behind, at least until the Democratic convention gives us a final choice, was sitting under my desk the whole time. That would be Larry Potter, pictured here, who boasts impeccable proletarian origins (the Berkeley Animal Shelter) and almost never makes a speech about anything. 

Between now and the June California Primary, it should be perfectly okay for Berkeley’s legions of rabid Berniphiles and Hillaristas to also put a Larry Potter poster (now being designed) in their window or a Potter sign on their lawn. This will signify their membership in the reality-based community, the one which knows that who appoints the Supreme Court is probably the most important national consideration for the next eight years, so they’ll vote for Anyone but Trump. 

About that New York primary by the way: among the increasing number of kvetchers with whom I have increasingly little patience are those who have been complaining that some primaries, including that one, are only open to party members. That is to say, they’re closed to independents and to adherents of what are called third parties. 

There are good reasons for this choice. 

Doing door-to-door precinct work in the past I soon learned that “independent” often was shorthand for “I don’t pay much attention to government and seldom bother to vote.” Concentrating on making sure that the self-identified Democrats get to the polls in the general election is now called the “ground game”—it’s based on the same analysis: energize your base, and don’t worry about the rest, because they’re not likely to show up. 

When I worked in Michigan politics in the 60s and 70s, the Democratic primary had been closed to keep out Republican anti-union auto industry shills who had formerly crossed over in primaries to capture ballot slots before the general election. In those days Michigan had some excellent progressive Democratic governors (e.g. Zoltan Ferency) and senators (e.g. Phillip Hart). Now with open primaries there’s a truly awful Republican governor, Rick Snyder. 

New York has a long tradition of closed primaries, but candidates in the past have often gotten dual support in the general election, both from one of the two major parties and from special-pleading minor parties of various stripes. A prominent one was the Liberal Party, which can be described in an over-simplifed way as the historic anti-Communist left-labor organization, cross-endorsing mostly Democrats but the occasional moderate Republican (now a vanished species). Donald Harrington, father of local Democratic Senator Loni Harrington Hancock, was a Liberal figure of note. 

Are third parties the answer? When I was in high school, way back before the dark ages, my senior term paper was on the history of third parties. At that time, and still today, decades later, no third party has ever won a major election, state or national, that I can remember. 

The Socialist Party (I don’t know if Bernie’s a card-carrying member, or even if there is a Socialist Party anymore) had a long, respectable history, but seldom came close to being elected to anything. Family legend has it that a Quaker cousin, Jesse H. Holmes, once ran for vice-president with perennial Socialist presidential hopeful Norman Thomas. If so, he lost. 

Fine folks, many of them, but here we are today still forced to choose between D and R. It’s a lot easier to hang out carping on the fringes, but I have great respect for those who continue to toil in the trenches of the major parties, which doesn’t include me anymore. 

On Wednesday I did go to an event honoring four brave souls who are challenging the entrenched might of the local Democratic power brokers. They are people who supported Tony Thurmond’s successful outsider campaign for the State Assembly, and were outraged when insiders in the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee endorsed Thurmond’s opponent in last year’s general election without even consulting its own members. 

One of these candidates, Brett Badelle, was on the committee in an appointed slot, but no one asked his opinion before announcing the choice, even though he was one of only two Black males out of 60 members. He and his colleagues, Floyd Huen, Kate Harrison and Vincent Casalaina, have been endorsed by the Wellstone Democratic Club (which also endorsed Bernie Sanders). A sizeable percentage of Wellstone members have tried other forms of political organizing and various left minority parties, but they seem to have concluded that since electoral politics is here to stay you might just as well claim a share of the action. 

The dominant parties are not even close to perfect—in the case of the Republicans far, far from perfect. But the only way to change them is from the inside. 

It may be too late to revive the respectable Republican party of the past—it might just be gone. That makes it even more important to keep on trying to fix the Democrats as these four brave delegate candidates are doing. Don’t forget to vote for them, way down at the bottom of the June primary ballot, no matter which presidential candidate you choose. That’s Badelle, Huen, Harrison, Casalaina—and none of the incumbents, who will be clearly labelled as such. 

To find out more look here or send email to WellstoneAD15@gmail.com. 




Public Comment

The underconsidered advantages of voting for a yellow dog. Or any dog.

Henry Schwarz
Saturday April 23, 2016 - 04:41:00 PM

Dear Editor: Perhaps it is time to reconsider what might be the underconsidered advantages of a totalitarian state. I refer you to the treatise located at:


Thank you. An excellent editorial.

Remarks for the Tenants' Union Convention

Thomas Lord
Friday April 22, 2016 - 04:55:00 PM

The Berkeley Tenants' Union Convention will take place this Sunday, April 24, 1:30 to 4:30pm, at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. Berkeley, California 94703.

Berkeley residents are eligible to vote if they are in the door by 2pm. A sliding scale donation is requested to offset the costs of the event but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

I live in a rent controlled apartment on a block that is almost entirely rent controlled apartments. My neighbors are ethnically, economically, and in many other ways diverse. Some are recent arrivals, and some are people who have been here for decades. I've been at this particular spot in Berkeley for almost 9 years now, watching kids grow up, families expand, students come and go. You can bet your life that I'm going to fight for tenants' rights and for affordable rentals just as hard as anyone.

I have some real disagreements with the front runners for this slate. I think the front runners for this slate represent more of the same for renters. They stand for a continuation of the same policies that have been failing Berkeley renters for 20 years. 

Strong rent control was established in Berkeley in 1980, after a decade of struggle. The struggle was sometimes radical, even including rent strikes. In 1980 the rent control ordinance we have today finally passed. For 16 years, until 1996, it worked pretty well. If you could afford to rent in Berkeley one year you could almost certainly afford it the next year. If you had to move out of a place the odds were you could find another. More units were needed, especially as Cal grew, but progressives never got a chance to work on that problem. 

As many of you know, in 1995 the state legislature passed a law called Costa Hawkins. In 1996 that law started to go into effect. Ever since then the price of apartments in Berkeley spiraled up. 

Costa Hawkins has been destroying rental affordability in Berkeley for 20 years. 

For 20 years what has the City of Berkeley done about Costa Hawkins? What has the rent board done? What have the housing activists done? What about these progressive clubs that endorse this slate? 

Two things. 

(1) They wrote some letters. 

(2) This year they propose a regressive tax. 

Does that sound progressive to you? 20 years of asking the legislature to pretty please change its mind? And now a regressive tax? 

Every few years the activists get the City to send another letter to the state legislature. Costa Hawkins repeal attempts die in committee in Sacramento, they don't even get to a vote. Twice now the legislature has cobbled up enough votes to make very minor changes to Costa Hawkins. They both failed. What did the City of Berkeley do about it? Write another letter. 

This November on the ballot there's gonna be a vote for a tax on rents. It's probably going to pass. What this means on my street, is that the landlords' costs are going to go up on almost every single unit. The official story of this tax is that landlords just won't be able to “pass it through” the tax. Well that's nonsense. In the long run landlords have lots of ways to pass through a tax and renters have few ways to resist. 

What are we going to do about this? What can we do about this? 

1. I'm calling for the formation of the Rent Board Committee for Housing Affordability which is where the rent board can do the research, consult with experts, and talk with the public to agree on better solutions than writing more letters. 

2. Berkeley has recently made it easier for homeowners to increase density and create new housing units by building accessory units – in-law apartments on their property. The Rent Board needs an urgent program to make it attractive to those homeowners to voluntarily bring those units on the market under terms similar to 1980 rent control. The question is what incentives the Rent Board can offer. 

3. Berkeley ought to be following the example of Vancouver, British Columbia. The housing affordability problems in Vancouver exceed even those of San Francisco. Yet Vancouver does a much better job than Berkeley or any Bay Area city of making below-market housing available, not only to people with very low incomes but to people in the middle. How are they doing this? For one thing Vancouver puts some of their publicly owned units and social housing units on the market at market rates. For those units, it's not a 1 or 2 or 3 percent tax on rent windfalls. It's 100% of the windfall from highly priced market rate apartments that goes to create affordable housing. Vancouver has also been successful at attracting private investment to build publicly owned and social housing. Best of all, over a couple of decades Vancouver figured out how to double its housing stock, greatly increasing density, without sacrificing its historic architectural character

Saudi Arabia & 9/11

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday April 22, 2016 - 04:50:00 PM

President Obama would do well to listen to human rights organizations and block further arms sales to the Saudi Kingdom in the wake of their military strikes in Yemen. The United Nations estimates more than 3,000 civilians have died since the Saudi’s began bombing last March. As William Hartung, senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor opinioned “We should not be trading Saudi friendship for cluster bombs (banned by international law).” 

Hartung latest book, "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex" describes the incestuous relationship between our current and past governments, war profiteers, and the kings of Saudi Arabia. Successive Saudi monarchs have contributed to the destabilization of the Middle East and much of the world by promoting their austere brand of Islam (Wahhabism), indoctrinating your children in religious schools. They have failed to resist the growing menace of ISIS and ignored the plight of refugees, the majority of whom are Muslims. Obama is wrong to oppose lawsuits of victims of 9/11 seeking compensation of possible Saudi involvement. 28 pages of the 9/11 report have still not been released. Perhaps readers will recall how special permission was granted to Saudi officials to leave the US while all other transport was grounded following 9/11. 

The U.S. should not be intimidated by Saudi threats to sell off U.S. assets. Let Senator Schumer’s proposed legislation holding Saudi Arabia for possible involvement in 9/11 go forward. If they were not involved they have nothing to fear.

Voting Scandal in New York

Harry Brill
Friday April 22, 2016 - 02:18:00 PM

By now the public as learned that over 125,000 Brooklyn residents were disqualified from voting in the New York primary. Moreover, a federal judge denied a temporary restraining order that would have opened the polls to New York Democrats who claimed that they were unlawfully listed as Republican or unaffiliated. To avoid a repeat in future elections, Sanders issued a strong complaint. Many other progressives and public officials as well concurred. 

Of course steps must be taken to prevent future mishaps. But what should be demanded first is a new election, which includes all those who one way or another were illegally excluded from voting. It may be that Sanders would still come in second. But even so, it is the assault on democracy that matters most. It would be a serious mistake to postpone things because the future is always in the future. New York City's Election Board is notorious in how it conducts elections. Among its many "mistakes" was providing the wrong dates that the primary election was being held. Mistakes and inaccuracies are rife with the Board. The most appropriate way of addressing the blatant misconduct of the Election Board is to demand a new election NOW. 

What is particularly worrisome is the incredible and, unfortunately, successful assault on democracy, which in this instance includes illegally stripping citizens of their right to vote. Just depending on the courts to change this abysmal situation will not work. 

To assure a genuinely democratic election that would recapture both the right to vote and the assurance that all votes will be properly counted would require mass demonstrations and other direct action strategies. We cannot count on elected officials alone to lead us to the green pastures. Most important, people must take to the streets, which is our turf and where we could win. Progressives should not play into the hands of those who prefer the status quo even if it is illegal and undemocratic.

It’s Time to Make Berkeley Truly Progressive

From Margot Smith for BPA
Friday April 22, 2016 - 04:42:00 PM

The Berkeley Progressive Alliance was formed to support the election of a progressive Mayor and City Council in the November 2016 election and to promote progressive policies. Many in Berkeley find that their voices are being ignored and that a grassroots response is needed.

On Saturday, April 30th the Berkeley Progressive Alliance, Berkeley Citizens Action and Berkeley Tenants Union are holding a joint meeting to endorse candidates who support their progressive agenda. The meeting for endorsements will be held from 2 pm to 5 pm at the MLK Jr Young Adult Project (YAP) Recreation Center at 1730 Oregon St., west of MLK. Members of BPA, BCA and BTU will vote to endorse candidates for Berkeley's Mayor and City Council. For more information please contact the Berkeley Progressive Alliance at berkeleyprogressivealliance@gmail.com 

These organizations are part of a network of progressive Berkeley citizens working to curb the influence of special interests and make local government accountable to the residents of Berkeley. They include a campaign in to increase funding for affordable housing in Berkeley. 

Teach-ins, public meetings, and online petitions by BPA, BNC and BTU successfully opposed the Mayor's housing proposal that would have allowed development to occur without a transparent, public process. Their efforts, along with those of other community groups, have encouraged civic leaders to consider several innovative affordable housing strategies and preserve Berkeley’s diversity. They are also working to advance green
sustainable policies. 

The BPA affordable housing platform and mission statement and progressive agenda can be found on-line at http://berkeleyprogressivealliance.org/ 

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law

Jagjit Singh
Friday April 22, 2016 - 05:03:00 PM

Last Monday, the Islamic scholar, Arafat Mazhar, gave an interesting talk at Stanford University to clarify Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Mazhar has been on a personal crusade to educate the public on how the law has been hijacked and misinterpreted by self-styled imams to suit their own political agendas. Much to his amazement he discovered that the much revered imam in Pakistan who is responsible for the current interpretation of blasphemy, is not versed in Arabic, and could not therefore accurately interpret the original texts. It appears that in an effort to encourage group thought and create mortal fear for doubters or ‘apostates (non-believers),’ Pakistan deems a just punishment for insulting the prophet and apostates is death. Simply stated, – you blaspheme, you die. The option of life imprisonment was made defunct after a 1991 Federal Shariat Court judgement.  

According to Mazhar, the law’s original text forbade such punishment. Junaid Jamshed, a pop icon and widely heard Islamic evangelist, went viral on the Internet, in which his remarks were perceived as blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Ayesha. He was sentenced to death but in spite of recanting in public and re-affirming his faith his death sentence has not been overturned.If this climate of intolerance continues, there is little hope of Pakistan surviving as a democratic society.


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Value of a Meaningful Activity

Jack Bragen
Friday April 22, 2016 - 04:43:00 PM

Participation in a constructive and/or enjoyable activity can be helpful in furthering recovery from psychiatric illness. If we feel able to do so, it could be a good idea to have an activity and possibly a goal. This stimulates the mind, can help morale, and can make us feel better about ourselves. To do this, we might ask ourselves what our interests are, what abilities we may have, and what we believe to be realistic. Waiting until we feel recovered before engaging in an activity could possibly be a mistake, since an activity could help accelerate our recovery.  

People might say we ought to get a volunteer job. However, in recent years, expectations for volunteers have risen. This is partly because numerous non-disabled people can not get paid employment, and are volunteering in order to remain active and because it looks good on their resume. I tried volunteering doing data entry at a senior center, and was let go upon having one day of absence. I know of two people who discovered, upon volunteering at several different places, that expectations were too high, and their disabilities weren't accommodated.  

Volunteering for a mental health organization or perhaps an organization that helps people with disabilities would likely have more accommodation. I have seen several people enjoy volunteering for NAMI of Contra Costa.  

This doesn't mean that we should never try anything unrelated to mental health. Volunteer or regular employment at something unrelated to mental health can be a boost to self-esteem, since it allows us to compete with nondisabled people. We might discover, if we try, that our abilities, in many ways, could be as good as, or better than, a typical person in the mainstream who does not have a disability.  

Had I not decided to pursue writing, I would probably have taken classes toward a technical career of some kind. Since regular employment isn't a fit for me, I probably would be doing self-employment or independent employment of some kind. Self-employment could be a good option for someone with mental illness who has a marketable skill, yet who may not be able to keep up with the expected pace of a regular job.  

When and if someone with mental illness enters the work force, if they can stay with it, it is a great way of furthering recovery. If you are in an environment filled with successful people, working people, and/or "mainstream" people, the connections that will exist will often be good therapy. If you are among "well" people, your mind may be able to sync with those of others, and this is very good for mental health.  

This is not to say we all should go out and get a full-time professional job. If not ready for any of that, there is no need to berate oneself. These are just general suggestions, and they are not a fit for everyone.  

We don't have to do anything or accomplish anything to be acceptable as human beings. If treatment is all you can handle for the time being, you should do that and should avoid applying unnecessary standards to yourself.  

Putting pressure on ourselves to try to do something that's too hard could be a factor in some relapses. Perhaps the question we could ask is, "What activity could I do that would allow me to get involved in life and would not create a feeling of pressure and/or of performing drudgery?"  

If you are mentally ill and subject to outpatient institutionalization, treatment practitioners will have a tendency to place you in unskilled work that doesn't provide mental stimulation. Mental health practitioners tend to presume that we could never perform at a job that entails advanced skills. This is a travesty, it doesn’t help us in our recovery, and the net effect is that we have lower self-esteem than we had beforehand.  

Doing something for the sake of the activity and the gratification of the thing we are doing, and not being excessively concerned with having a fabulous level of success, will make an activity more sustainable on an emotional level. For example, if you want to work in computers, you should enjoy working with computers and should not compare yourself to people who know more about computers than you do or who make more money at it. If you do an EBay business, (something I admittedly know nothing about) you should enjoy the stuff involved in it, whatever that is, and you should not be concerned with making a massive amount of money. 

Being enthusiastic about something in our lives can be very healing. Everyone is probably interested in something. We may not be able to do something at the level we want, but a goal or an activity to look forward to can be a reason to get up in the morning, can give purpose, and can be a great source of fulfillment.  

My books available on Amazon can be viewed by clicking here. 


THE PUBLIC EYE: Bernie's Last Stand: The California Primary

Bob Burnett
Friday April 22, 2016 - 11:34:00 AM

Improbably, it appears that the June 7th California primary will determine the nomination of both the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. After winning the New York Democratic primary, Clinton has approximately 1930 delegates, 453 short of the magic number 2383. Unless Bernie Sanders stages an epic comeback, Clinton will cross the finish line in California. 

Before June 7th, there are 10 Democratic primaries. The largest of these is Pennsylvania with 189 pledged delegates and 21 super delegates. Assuming that Clinton and Sanders break even in these primaries, Clinton will be approximately 150 short by June 7th. 

California offers 548 delegates: 475 pledged delegates and 73 super delegates. The allocation process is byzantine: 317 district delegates will be pledged to Clinton or Sanders proportionally, based upon the primary results in each of the California’s 53 congressional districts. A further 158 delegates will be allocated based on statewide results. 

Current California polls show Clinton leading Sanders by 9.5 percent. However, there are three tactics that Sanders could follow to narrow this gap. 

Independents: Sanders has done well in contests where registered Independents can crossover and vote for him in the Democratic primary. This was not possible in the New York primary (nonetheless, exit polls showed that Sanders carried 72 percent of those Democrats who considered themselves to be Independent voters). 

As of January 5th, the California Secretary of State reported that 17,259,413 Californians had registered to vote (70.2 percent of those eligible) – by June 7th the number is expected to be significantly higher. So far, 43.1 percent have registered as Democrats, 27.6 percent as Republicans, 24 percent as “no party preference,” and 5.3 percent as “other” (American Independent, Green, Libertarian, or Peace & Freedom). Democrats permit voters with “no party preference” to vote in their primary – the California Public Policy Institute said that 37 percent of these voters are likely to vote Democratic. Still, “no party preference” voters will have to request a Democratic primary ballot. 

Unfortunately, there’s evidence that some erstwhile Sanders voters may have registered as “Independent” rather than “no party preference.” That won’t work on June 7th; in California that means you get to vote as an “American Independent.” 

Hispanics: In New York, Clinton and Sanders split the white (non-Hispanic) vote. Clinton won because she carried the African American vote (75 percent) and the Hispanic vote (64 percent). 

Hispanics are a larger demographic factor in California. There are 14.3 million Hispanics in California, more than in any other state. (In the Golden State, Hispanics outnumber non-Hispanic whites.) 

The most recent California Public Policy Institute report indicates that white non-Hispanic voters are 48 percent of likely Democratic voters. Hispanics are 26 percent. Asian Americans are 13 percent. And, African Americans are 10 percent. (By the way, 15 of the 53 congressional districts are majority Hispanic and in another 9 districts Hispanics are more than 40 percent of potential voters.) 

Historically, Hispanic voters have not voted (until recently their participation rate was less than 50 percent). However, there is a new California voter registration process that should increase the Hispanic vote. 

In addition, Hispanic Democratic voters may turn out to support Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA 46) who is running for the Senate seat now occupied by Barbara Boxer. (The latest polls show Sanchez running slightly behind California Attorney General Kamala Harris.) 

On April 14th, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that California Hispanics (Latinos) are registering to vote in unprecedented numbers and this may be good news for Sanders: “’Something unusual is going on in the Latino community,” [California] Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said. ‘You’re seeing a reappraisal of Clinton vis-a-vis Sanders. Now it is up for grabs.’” 

Women: The California Public Policy Institute noted that 57 percent of likely Democratic voters are women. If that’s true on June 7th, it’s a problem for Bernie Sanders. In New York, 59 percent of Democratic voters were women and 63 percent of them voted for Clinton. 

If Sanders is going to move the female vote, he will have to make inroads on her signature issues. In New York, these were gun control (60 percent of voters preferred Clinton) and experience (59 percent of voters preferred Clinton). 

At the moment, Hilary Clinton is favored to defeat Bernie Sanders in California’s June 7th Democratic Primary. To win, Sanders will have to woo “no party preference” voters as well as Hispanics and women. 

It would help if Sanders had a significant state endorsement. At the moment, all the major California Democrats have endorsed Clinton except for one: Governor Jerry Brown. If Brown endorsed Sanders, it would make a difference. Otherwise, the Golden State may be Bernie’s last stand. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net.

Arts & Events

The Winding Stream: Cash in on this Country Music Romp

Gar Smith
Friday April 22, 2016 - 05:00:00 PM

Opens April 22 at the Berkeley Elmwood

The Winding Stream opens in Poor Valley, Virginia, with powerful visuals of a locomotive rattling down rural rails and a close-up of John Prine hunched over his guitar, pouring a wail of country soul ("Bear Creek Blues") into a microphone. And Director Beth Harrington's film just keeps a-chuggin'—full of steam, energy, recollections and lots of great country tunes—through seven decades of bedrock American musical history.

Early on, Rosanne Cash responds to an interviewer's question by calling the Carter Family's music "primal" and musician Murray Hammond agrees. "The Carters are like the graveyard," he says, "there's nothing standing between their human heart and your human anguish." The music was all about honesty.

Beth Harrington is the perfect person to make this film. A singer and musician herself, she directed one previous film called Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly. In her "Director's Statement," she recalls something Sara Carter's grandson Dale Jett told her: "Love music and it will love you back." This film is her valentine to the Carters.




The Carter family emerged from a world very remote from our modern lives. Struggling to raise a familiy on a hardscrabble frontier farm is practically unknown today. Alvin Pleasant "A.P." Carter, the family patriarch, didn't plan to be a performer but he had an uncanny obsession with music. He met his wife Sara while traveling going door-to-door, selling (of all things) trees. Before he even saw Sara, he heard her singing to herself inside her family house. The sound stopped him dead in his tracks and he proposed that very day. 

This incredible linkage between music, emotion, family bonds and human love is the major ingredient that ties this film together over the decades as children are born, marriages are challenged, and loved ones grow old and inherit the Earth. 

There were no videos of those early days, but the filmmakers have created a stunning alternative—a fascinating form of animation that puts movement into the black and white images lifted from old photographs. As these old portraits begin to move (like 2-D puppets), we see the Carters—A.P., Sara and first cousin Maybelle—fingering their instruments, blinking their eyes, and mouthing the words to signature ballads. The photo-replicants even hop inside (a photo of) an old jalopy and head out cross-country, over dirt roads and bridges, to reach their first 1927 recording session in Bristol, Tennessee. 

A.P. missed the second day of recording because he was out trying to buy a new tire for the car they borrowed to make the trip. So the two women recorded that day's set—a radical act in an era when most songs were recorded by men. Women were still unliberated and consigned to domestic chores at home and backup roles on stage. Sara's voice knocked New York record producer Ralph Peer for a loop, especially when she sang a song called "Single Girl, Married Girl," a topic that was almost scandalous by the Puritanical standards of the day. 

The Carters quickly forgot about the trip to Bristol but three months later, A.P. received an envelop from New York and inside was a check from Victor records. Their records were selling and the Carters were on the road to fame as the First Family of Country Singers. 

There was not much money in performing, in the early days. Harrington includes a shot of a handbill from one of their first gigs. It promised "The program is morally good" and listed the two-tier admission as 15 and 25 cents. 

When Victor Records begged for more songs to meet the growing demand, A.P. became a sort of roving grassroots ethnomusicologist, tracking down indigenous, itinerate backwoods singers in their dirt-poor shacks. A.P. also recognized that a lot of this "unknown" music— gospels, blues, shape-note songs—was to be found in the African-American South. (Here The Winding Stream offers rare footage of black southerners relaxing and dancing to music, much like their white counterparts.) 

A.P. met up with Lesley Riddle and the two spent ten years on the road traveling to forgotten black communities searching for unique songs. AP wrote down the lyrics and Riddle captured the music. Had it not been for Carter and Riddle, much of this folkloric tradition would certainly have been lost. They were an unlikely pair since Riddle was an African America. (The filmmakers note that, while the Carters made money from harvesting these ethnic treasures, no profits seemed to trickle down to Lindsey Riddle. Was he bitter? Was he "OK with that"?) 

There is a lovely moment in the film when two African American musicians—Rhiannon Giddens and Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops—bend over their instruments and harmonize on a sweet country tune. Country-Western meets Soul. 

Between 1927 and 1938 the Carters recorded 260 songs for Victor and this growing stack of shellac dove-tailed nicely with the arrival of so-called "border radio." 

Across the Texas/Mexico border, bands of radio pirates were setting roots and erecting antennas. At the top of the heap was Dr. John R. Brinkley, the Big Daddy of Border Radio, and his station, XERA. It was radio without rules, unconfined by the regulations of US broadcast laws. Border radio was the first to feature on-air preachers, psychics, live music and commercials for everything from magic potions to autographed photos of Jesus. 

While US law limited station owners to 50kW of broadcast power, XERA poured out 250 kW—and a directional antenna gave Brinkleys' bandit bandwidth an effective broadcast punch of one million killowatts! The station was famous for creating its own "northern lights" in the nighttime sky. It was rumored that XERA's broadcasts could be picked up on bedsprings and metal tooth-fillings all the way to Canada! Long before the Internet, XERA became the first global communications device. Country music—and the Carter Family —was going global. 

The Winding Stream is equal parts musical entertainment and an emotional human experience. The Carters, born in poverty but blessed with a rare talent to find, write, arrange and perform songs that spoke to the ears and hearts of post-Depression America, were all well-chiseled individuals. Only A.P. Carter remains a bit enigmatic. We only learn about him when others talk about him. On the other hand, the documentary is bursting with colorful characters who fill the screen with earnest, self-effacing recollections—from Mother Maybelle and the talented kids, the Carter Sisters, to Johnny, June and Rosanne Cash. This is a film about family and a film about some strong, smart, and talented women. 


A particular reason to see the film is the extensive interview with Maybelle Carter's son-in-law—an elderly but still vital Johnny Cash, who almost tears up recalling his late wife, June, the "clown" of the Carter Sisters. 

At 92 minutes, you may find yourself wondering how many times more times you'll find yourself listening to a rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"—and you may wonder if a segment featuring the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was really necessary—but the film manages to effectively bridge the Sixties and deliver us into the present day. And it leaves on a memorable note as Rosanne Cash bestows a powerfully intimate performance of her mother's favorite ballad, "The Winding Stream." 

And now let's send this review home with a blast of "Jackson." 

Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching

Gar Smith
Friday April 22, 2016 - 04:51:00 PM

One night only, April 26 at Oakland's New Parkway Theater

With the latest Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony behind us, Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching, is a perfect follow-up. The film is the work of Bay Area filmmaker John Antonelli (whose collaboration with Robert Redford has provided the visually moving "profiles" that honor the Goldman Prizewinners).

Antonelli's new film on the troubling practice of wildlife poaching and the illegal ivory trade in Africa, documents the "disastrous results when wildlife takes priority over indigenous people's land rights, human rights, and their very survival" by following two Goldman Environmental Prize winners—Thuli Makama in Swaziland and Hammer Simwinga in Zambia.

The April 26 screening, hosted by The Oakland Institute, will include a 30-minute post-screening Q&A with Tom Bennigson (Open Heart Safari and the Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund) and Marc Tognotti (The Institute of the Commons) to discuss issues of conservation and human rights.



Set in the wilds of Swaziland and Zambia, this complex saga spans several decades and follows two parallel stories. Under Swaziland's militarized response to the poaching industry, Thuli Makama's friends and neighbors are being tortured and sometimes killed, merely for being suspected of elephant poaching. The people who are getting killed are not just organized bands of poachers but desperately poor villagers as well. Meanwhile, in Zambia, a more enlightened form of engagement is turning people away from traditional hunting and the lure of the riches offered by illegal poaching. In Zambia, Goldman Prizewinner Hammer Simwinga succeeded in creating a peaceful alternative, demonstrating how a transition to growing healthy, renewable crops can improve village health and create new markets that promise greater prosperity. 

The New Parkway, it is a community-run theater that offers important films along with good food, cold beer and comfortable couches instead of typical movie-house row seating. The Parkway also prides itself on maintaining a strong commitment to progressive labor and environmental standards. 

When: Tuesday April 26, 7-9pm 

Where: The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland (between Telegraph and Broadway) 

Cost: $10. 

Advance tickets available online here


In October 2015, the Planet attended a screening of Unfair Game as part of the 18th UN Association Film Festival. During the post-screening discussion, an audience member challenged director Antoneli to respond to a New Yorker article ("The Hunted") that accused one of the principals in his film—Mark Owens, co-founder of the North Luangwa Conservation Project in Mpika, Zambia—of complicity in the shooting death of a poacher. 

According to my six-month-old notes, Antonelli revealed that he had discovered article while he was in the process of editing his film. Upon investigating, Antonelli learned that there had been an ABC television film crew in the region pursuing a documentary on poaching. There was pressure to find and film a poacher in the act of plundering wildlife. And there had been a killing that took the life of a suspected poacher. In fact, ABC's cameras were rolling when the shots were fired. However, contrary to the essay in The New Yorker, Mark Owens was not only not responsible, he was not even in the area. 

Seeking a correction, Antonelli called The New Yorker to speak with the reporter. The reporter refused to return the call. Antonelli then wrote a long letter to The New Yorker pointing out the factual errors in the story. Antonelli said he subsequently discovered that the reporter, Jeffrey Goldberg, was the same writer who had earlier spread the Bush-Cheney administration's lies about the presence of WMDs in Iraq. 

The New Yorker reportedly agreed to run Antonelli's letter—but only if it was agreed that no one would pursue legal action against the magazine for the error. 

2007 Goldman Prize winner Hammerskjoeld Simwinga 

Here is Antonelli's 2007 profile of Goldman Prize winner Hammer Simwinga 


For more information, visit www.goldmanprize.org 

Some Notes on two Cal Performances Concerts: Kent Nagano Conducting the Montréal Symphony with Pianist Daniil Trifonov & Gil Shaham Playing Bach's Six Violin Solo Works

Ken Bullock
Friday April 22, 2016 - 04:44:00 PM

Kent Nagano Conducting Montréal Symphony; Daniil Trifonov, solo pianist

Kent Nagano's return to the podium in Zellerbach Auditorium, leading the Montréal Symphony, which he's directed since 2006, was an evening of standing ovations, encores and nostalgia by many in the audience for the 30 years Nagano directed Berkeley Symphony, bringing it national and world recognition. 

But not all were happy with the program of Debussy's ballet music 'Jeux,' Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto--with the remarkable Daniil Trifonov as soloist--and Stravinsky's seminal modernist ballet, 'The Rite of Spring.' 

In a mixed, but at times sympathetic Chronicle review under the headline "Nagano and Montreal Save the Best for Last," Joshua Kosman remarked that the concert was "an evening where the finest rewards came during the encores," that the orchestra was "beset by inconsistency," on one hand rendering their encore of Debussy's 'Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun' in a fashion that would be "the envy of many a more eminent ensemble" ('The Prelude' was featured along with Stravinsky's 'Firebird' for the tour concert in Los Angeles), whereas Debussy's later 'Jeux' was "beguiling but interpretively glib," Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto performed in a "ferocious but charmless" manner with soloist Daniil Trifonov squandering his "formidable keyboard virtuosity" in "wearying, brutalist fashion," while putting "his formidable keyboard virtuosity to better use" in his encore of the Rachmaninoff arrangement of the Preludio of Bach's E-minor Violin Partita. 

Of 'Rite of Spring,' Kosman remarked on "a general air of bluster ... although some of the big banks of orchestral sound made an impressive effect." The orchestra's "more traditional sort of encore" of the Farandole from Bizet's 'L'Arlesienne' was found to be "mustering a degree of incisive clarity that had been largely absent up to that point," "the main body of programming delivering without grievous mishap ... two hours of unexciting, blandly capable orchestral playing." 

There are a few critical insights to Kosman's review, but the program as a whole worked for the audience in other ways than pure nostalgia over Nagano's return or merely in the encores, which were brilliant in themselves. 

The leap in programming between the brilliant late work of Debussy--'Jeux' is his last completed orchestral work and his only ballet, inscribed "poeme danse' " (and the composer hated Nijinsky's choreography, "indulging in a peculiar kind of mathematics," enough to leave his box at the premiere to smoke a cigarette during his piece)--and the Russian complement of the program was inspired, bringing on Prokofiev's 1921 Third Piano Concerto before proceeding to the monumental 'Rite' that dazed and dazzled Paris a few weeks after 'Jeux' was received quietly in 1913--the year Prokofiev began the sketches which culminated in his Concerto and also when Debussy commented "the Russians have opened up a window in our somber schoolroom where a strict master presides, through which we may catch a glimpse of countryside." 

The landscape glimpsed in the Concerto is the internal one of contrast, quick humor and shifts in mood and idea, with different sides of the same material quickly played out ... Pierre Boulez said of 'Jeux' that it was "the arrival of a kind of music which, renewing itself from moment to moment, implies a similarly simultaneous mode of perception." The mode of perception apparent in Prokofiev's music is characterized by his old friend Rostropovich: "Listening to his music I'm always reminded of his conversation: witty, candid, at times brusque, but always gentle." 

Maybe Trifonov emphasized the brusque to the detriment of the gentle, although "ferocious" is a bit much, more like "fantastic" to emphasize his speed and power at the keyboard--as another friend of the composer once remarked, Prokofiev's virtuoso playing was hard to take in a small room--more like the theatrical humor and grotesquerie of the automatons in Offenbach, a "Ballet Mechanique," as a musician friend whispered to me during Trifonov's playing of Prokofiev, and inspired again in Trifonov's choice of Rachmaninoff's arrangement of Bach for encore, Rachmaninoff being the Romantic choice of the America where Prokofiev landed (in San Francisco from Japan) in 1921 to premiere his Concerto in Chicago to lukewarm audience and critical response. 

"Let the maestro be calm," Prokofiev advised Koussevitzky before a concert, "This is not a Stravinsky score. There are no complex meters, no dirty tricks." 'The Rite' is notorious for its tumultuous reception, though anyone familiar with the riotous history of Parisian performing arts openings, from the Jeune France demonstration for the playwright at the premiere of Victor Hugo's 'Hernani' in 1830 to the Cadets' smoke-bombing of Genet's 'The Screens' in 1964 wouldn't see the fuss as so unusual after all, more like local color. As one of Diaghilev's dancers noted, the spectators came prepared to riot. 

Nagano's interpretation of 'The Rite' with Montreal Symphony emphasized something, at least in the first part, that's been lost in the endless dilutions and imitations of 'Rite' in movie music and elsewhere, a kind of dynamic, energizing stridency, a touch of exquisite pain--but as Raam Pandeya once said of poetry, that scratching of fingernails on a grimey windowpane that cannot be forgotten, something disturbing yet addictive--which restores a sense of the ferment in the listeners of the time. My musician friend and I, comparing notes after the concert, had come up with the same thought during the performance--and others have spoken of it since. 

The precision, as Kosman noted, of the encores was a wonderful backtrack into the realm French modern came from, Nietzche's favorite over Wagner in Bizet's kind of energetic sublime and Debussy's brilliant, languorous evocation of Mallarme' 's great poem, a very satisfying end to an evening's program both ambitious and intriguing in its scope. 

Gil Shaham Playing Bach's Six Violin Solo Pieces 

After poet George Oppen died in 1984, this fragment was found in the study of his San Francisco home: "Bach--the B minor Mass!/I wept because it says/everything that can/ever be said." 

The three sonatas and three partitas that comprise Bach's compositions for solo violin obviously cannot have the amplitude or depth of his greatest masses and other great orchestral and choral works. 

But an extraordinary, pointed specificity, a greatness in camera, as microcosm, a sense of completeness, breadth and depth of expression on the European instrument perhaps best-known for its expressiveness, has long been associated with these six pieces. And Gil Shaham's playing of them all--something he's long delayed, after studying and playing them privately or singly in public for a decade or more ("My basic technique has changed three times because of this music ... I've found myself questioning everything.")--gave the audience at Zellerbach a very direct sense of that completeness--a kind of perfection in the face of mortality--which marks Bach's greatest work, his signature. 

It was a particular treat to hear Shaham play these intricate, difficult pieces--difficult and intricate both technically and in interpretation--not long after hearing the Montréal Symphony, led by Kent Nagano (as discussed above) perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Major with another brilliant and driven soloist, Daniil Trifonov, while remembering Shaham's magnificent rendering of Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony led by his brother-in-law, David Robertson, at Davies a few years back--and Trifonov's marvelous encore at Zellerbach of Rachmaninoff's arrangement of the Preludio to Bach's E Major Paritita, with which Shaham began the concluding piece in his program, displaying unusual brilliance, bringing it back home from the glories of lush chromatic orchestration to its original spareness, its solitary glory on four strings. 

I have to agree with James MacBean's appraisal in last week's Planet: the video images by David Michalek, even at their most intriguing (as James pointed out, the single figures and couples dancing in super slow motion), distracted from the necessary attention required from the listener for the intensity and depth of Bach's masterworks, especially with such a brilliant, at times seemingly effortless, interpretation of these supremely difficult works by Shaham, who was courtly in his acknowledgment of the enthusiastic applause during the internal pauses between movements--another occasional distraction--nodding, even bowing quickly before resuming. 

The response of the audience indicated how glorious the encounter was for each listener with these unsurpassed masterpieces, rendered by a virtuoso, a unique player.